Peace is indivisible. - Maxim Litvino
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 45, Part II, 5 March 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 45, Part II, 5 March 1999

A daily report of developments in Eastern and
Southeastern Europe, Russia, the Caucasus and Central
Asia prepared by the staff of Radio Free Europe/Radio
Liberty.

This is Part II, a compilation of news concerning
Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe.  Part I
covers Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia and is
distributed simultaneously as a second document.  Back
issues of RFE/RL NewsLine and the OMRI Daily Digest are
online at RFE/RL's Web site:
http://www.rferl.org/newsline

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Headlines, Part II

* BELARUS SAYS U.S. FANS TENSIONS OVER ARRESTED
OPPOSITIONISTS

* DOLE REFUSED VISA BY BELGRADE, MEETS KOSOVARS IN
SKOPJE

* ROMANIAN MINERS' LEADER SENTENCED AGAIN

End Note: ESTONIANS VOTE IN THIRD PARLIAMENTARY POLL
SINCE INDEPENDENCE
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINIAN PRIVATE TELEVISION STATION APPEALS FOR
PROTECTION. Ukraine's leading private television
station, STB, has appealed to President Leonid Kuchma
and Supreme Council chairman Oleksandr Tkachenko for
protection against assaults and intimidation, AP
reported on 4 March. Mykola Knyazhytskyy of the STB's
administration council said unknown armed attackers on 3
March terrorized the STB director and his pregnant wife
and searched television offices, ignoring money and
valuables. Earlier, unidentified people attacked an STB
cameraman and set fire to the building in which
Knyazytskyy lives. According to Knyazhytskyy, attacks
against STB were "part of financial and political
pressure" on Ukraine's independent media in the runup to
the presidential elections in October. JM

HROMADA CAUCUS SPLITS. The Hromada parliamentary group
split on 4 March, as its leader and former Prime
Minister Pavlo Lazarenko remains in the U.S. seeking
political asylum, dpa reported. Nineteen former members
of the Hromada caucus and four other deputies have
formed a left-of center caucus called "Batkivshchyna"
[Fatherland]. The group is headed by 38-year-old Yuliya
Tymoshenko, a former Lazarenko ally. Before the split,
the Hromada caucus consisted of 42 deputies. Meanwhile,
Lazarenko has announced through his lawyer that there is
a "significant possibility" he will obtain political
asylum in the U.S. Ukrainian Television reported on 4
March that the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast Council has
abolished its post of honorable chairman, which was
assumed last year by Lazarenko. If extradited to
Ukraine, Lazarenko faces trial on corruption charges. JM

BELARUS SAYS U.S. FANS TENSIONS OVER ARRESTED
OPPOSITIONISTS. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry on 4
March accused the U.S. of aggravating tensions over the
opposition-organized presidential elections in Belarus.
On 25 February, the U.S. State Department expressed
"great concern" over the arrest of Viktar Hanchar, head
of the opposition Central Electoral Commission, and 14
commission members. It called upon Belarus "to release
the commission members immediately and to begin working
with the democratic opposition in Belarus to resolve
Belarus's long-standing impasse." The Foreign Ministry
responded that the activities of Hanchar's commission
contravene Belarusian laws and "provoke instability."
Alluding to the U.S. statement, the ministry said that
"fanning tensions" over Hanchar's commission "does not
contribute to the development of equal and constructive
dialogue with Belarus." JM

OSCE CONCERNED ABOUT ARREST OF BELARUSIAN
OPPOSITIONISTS. OSCE Chairman Knut Vollebaek on 3 March
voiced "deep concern" over the arrest of members of the
Central Electoral Commission in Belarus. Vollebaek
appealed for a solution to the "constitutional dispute"
between the authorities and the opposition without
resorting to "confrontational and undemocratic
practices." He pledged OSCE support for a political
dialogue in Belarus. Meanwhile, Anatol Hurynovich, a
jailed commission member, has joined Hanchar and another
commission member in a hunger strike (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 3 March 1999), RFE/RL Belarusian Service
reported on 4 March. International Human Rights League
Chairwoman Kathy Fitzpatrick has appealed to Hanchar to
end his strike. JM

BELARUS, YUGOSLAVIA SCRAP VISAS, CONSIDER MILITARY DEAL.
Belarusian Foreign Minister Ural Latypau and his
Yugoslav counterpart, Zivadin Jovanovic, signed an
agreement in Minsk on 4 March on abolishing visa
requirements for their citizens. Jovanovic said the two
countries discussed concluding a military agreement but
declined to give details. "Military cooperation is one
part of our cooperation overall," Reuters quoted him as
saying. JM

LUKASHENKA WARNS RUSSIA AGAINST IMF LOANS. Belarusian
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka said on 4 March that the
IMF policy is not directed toward providing real support
to Russia, but "toward wringing out most of the
country's [natural] resources," Interfax reported. He
added that the IMF "wants all Russia to be put in hock
for its loans. The West is now talking about putting
Russian nuclear weapons under NATO control."JM

ESTONIAN CENTRAL BANK WANTS SINGLE FINANCIAL SUPERVISORY
BODY. The Bank of Estonia on 4 March approved setting up
a single supervisory body that would oversee all
activities in the banking, insurance, and securities
sectors, ETA reported. The bank justified that move by
pointing to the level of integration of Estonia's
financial markets as well as their small size. The
government and the bank are to reach a decision by 1
September on merging the country's financial supervisory
bodies. Finance Minister Mart Opmann said the government
supports such a merger but is undecided about who should
head the new supervisory entity. JC

LATVIAN LAWMAKERS VOTE TO KEEP SOLDIERS DAY... By a vote
of 37 to 33 with 11 abstentions, lawmakers on 4 March
voted against doing away with 16 March as Latvian
Soldiers Day. The motion had been proposed by the
parliamentary group of the left-wing For Equal Rights in
a Unified Latvia. Veterans of the Latvian Waffen SS mark
16 March as the day their unit first fought against the
Red Army in 1943. Jewish leaders have said they will
boycott the remembrance day by refusing to hang the
Latvian flag outside their Riga building, as required by
law. And Defense Minister Girts Valdis Kristovskis has
said that military personnel will act in line with the
government's recommendation that representatives of the
armed forces do not take part in any commemorative
events, BNS reported. JC

...AND AGAINST REVEALING INCOME. Also on 4 March, the
parliament voted against a proposal by the opposition
People's Party that would have guaranteed public access
to information on all types of income of state and local
government officials, "Diena" reported. The vote was two
to 35 with 49 abstentions. JC

LITHUANIAN COURT DEEMS LUSTRATION LAW CONSTITUTIONAL.
The Constitutional Court has ruled that the law banning
former KGB agents from holding government office and a
wide variety of private-sector jobs does not violate the
basic law, ELTA reported on 4 March. At the same time,
the court ruled that the provision on establishing a
presidential commission that would decide whether to
lift the restrictions in individual cases is
unconstitutional, arguing that former KGB agents must be
allowed to appeal against such restrictions in a court
of law. President Valdas Adamkus, who earlier this year
delayed forming the lustration commission pending the
court's decision (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 January
1999), has expressed satisfaction with the ruling. JC

VAGNORIUS WANTS 'NORMAL WORKING CONDITIONS' FOR HIS
CABINET. Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius
told journalists on 4 March that his final decision on
whether to resign will depend on whether the government
is given "normal working conditions," ELTA reported.
Vagnorius said his government will be unable to stay in
office if its authority is reduced while its
responsibilities remain the same. In this connection, he
mentioned the debate over the new law on competition,
which provides for the head of the government-
subordinated Competition Council to be appointed by the
prime minister with the president's approval. President
Adamkus, who must decide by 5 March whether to sign the
new law, has indicated he will propose that the
parliament be given that prerogative. Earlier this week,
amid allegations of corruption leveled against his
cabinet, Vagnorius revealed that he is considering
resigning (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 March 1999). JC

POLISH PARLIAMENT BANS ADVERTISING TARGETED AT CHILDREN.
Lawmakers voted by 208 to 197 with 17 abstentions to
approve an amendment to the law on the media banning
radio and television advertising targeted at children.
"Such laws negatively influence the emotions of kids who
like to behave like their richer peers, even though they
cannot afford it," Reuters quoted an upper house member
as saying. Polish broadcasters are afraid that the
measure will result in million-dollar losses for radio
and television stations. President Aleksander
Kwasniewski's lawyer commented the same day that the
president will not sign the amended media law. JM

ZEMAN WANTS SOCIAL DEMOCRATS TO NOMINATE SUCCESSOR... In
a letter to the Czech Social Democratic Party's (CSSD)
national conference scheduled for April, CSSD leader and
Premier Milos Zeman says he wants the party to nominate
a successor to avoid a split in its ranks, CTK reported.
He said he feels "worn out" and wants to leave politics
by 2002. Zeman suggested as his successor deputy CSSD
chairman Vladimir Spidla, whose "personal integrity,
intelligence and devotion to work" he praised. While not
naming the faction in the party headed by Stanislav
Gross, Zeman said the party does not need officials who
"keep giving advice to others on how to work, while they
are themselves unable to do so." MS

...SEES TWO-PARTY SYSTEM AS A POSSIBILITY. Zeman also
wrote that the so-called "opposition agreement"
concluded after last year's general elections "emulates
a two-party system" and that this option might be
further tested at the local elections scheduled for fall
1999. He noted that while there can be no coalition
between the CSSD and the Civic Democratic Party because
of the too large differences in their programs, there
should be respect for the right of each to monitor the
other when in opposition. MS

LEXA LODGES COMPLAINT AGAINST HIS SUCCESSOR. Ivan Lexa,
former director of the Slovak Counter-Intelligence
Office (SIS), lodged a complaint with the Prosecutor-
General's Office on 4 March, demanding that his
successor, Vladimir Mitro, be criminally prosecuted.
Mitro was replaced as SIS chief by Lexa in 1995.
Speaking on Radio Twist, Lexa said that during his first
tenure as SIS director, Mitro issued screening
certificates attesting to non-collaboration with the
Czechoslovak communist secret police, although he was
not entitled to do so. Lexa said Mitro issued such a
certificate to current Economics Affair Minister Ludovit
Cernak. He also accused Mitro of failing to prevent
information on SIS activities that the latter submitted
to a 12 February closed session of the parliament from
leaking to the media. Based on that report, the police
have asked the parliament to lift the immunity of Lexa.
The request is to be debated later this month. MS

SLOVAK MINISTER'S ALLEGED COLLABORATION WITH STB UNDER
SCRUTINY. Radio Twist on 4 March said Labor and Family
Affairs Minister Peter Magvasi "probably lied" when he
denied having been an informer of the Czechoslovak
communist secret police (StB), CTK reported. Magvasi
said that in his capacity as director of a munitions
factory engaged in "international military projects," he
only had "contacts" with the StB. Magvasi's StB file,
according to Radio Twist, shows his collaboration with
the StB dates back to 1972, when he was a member of the
communist youth organization. It also shows that
Magvasi's father was a member of the Hlinka Guard, a
pro-Nazi paramilitary organization, and his mother was
suspected of collaborating with the Nazis during World
War II. In reaction, Magvasi said he will "gladly take a
look at the file," adding that "I know what I have been
doing all my life and I have nothing to fear," CTK
reported. MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

DOLE REFUSED VISA BY BELGRADE, MEETS KOSOVARS IN SKOPJE.
Former U.S. Senator Robert Dole met with Kosovar
Albanians in Skopje on 5 March after having been denied
a visa to enter Kosova, dpa reported. It was not known
with whom Dole met. Before departing for the Balkans,
Dole had said he will ask the "Albanian leadership to
put people first--without thought to their own position,
power, or personal gain." Dole was asked to make the
trip on behalf of U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright. He first visited Kosova in 1990 and is thought
to have good relations with Kosovar Albanian leaders. PB

YUGOSLAV FORCES TIGHTEN GRIP ON KOSOVA... The Yugoslav
government said on 4 March that it is strengthening its
presence on Kosova's borders to stop "infiltration" into
the province, Reuters reported. Troops have been
deployed near a major border crossing with Macedonia--in
violation of the October cease-fire agreement--and
armored vehicles were reported heading toward the
Albanian border late on 4 March. PB

...AS ALBANIA SENDS TROOPS TO DEFEND ITS BORDER. The
Albanian army said on 4 March that it has sent
reinforcements to two villages near its border with
Kosova that were fired on by Serbian forces from
Yugoslav territory, Reuters reported, citing ATA. A
police spokesman said Serbian forces fired numerous
shots at Albanian territory and that houses were struck
in the village of Letaj. Tirana said the Pogaj border
post was also fired upon the previous day. No injuries
were reported. An army division from Kukes (about 250
kilometers northeast of Tirana) was sent to the area of
the reported incursions. PB

SERBIAN JUDGE ORDERS ARREST OF UCK LEADER. Serbian Judge
Danica Marinkovic on 5 March ordered the immediate
arrest of Hashim Thaqi, who the previous day was named
the Kosova Liberation Army's (UCK) new political leader,
Reuters reported, citing the independent B-92 radio
station. Thaqi, known as "Commander Snake," was a member
of the Kosovar Albanian negotiating team at Rambouillet.
He replaced Adem Demaci after the latter resigned
earlier this week and was also named as premier-
designate in Kosova's provisional government. He did not
return to Kosova after the peace talks in France, and
his whereabouts are unknown. Marinkovic said the 29-
year-old Thaqi has been tried in absentia and sentenced
to 10 years in prison. PB

ALBANIAN PARLIAMENT URGES KOSOVAR ALBANIANS TO SIGN
ACCORD. Albanian lawmakers called on ethnic Albanian
negotiators to sign a three-year autonomy deal for
Kosova when the peace talks reopen in France on 15
March, Reuters reported on 4 March. The legislature
unanimously approved a resolution backing the interim
autonomy deal and said that the accord will "pave the
way [to the independence] that has been sought so much
over the centuries." It added that NATO peace-keepers
are an "essential element which would guarantee this
agreement." PB

TEN PEOPLE KILLED IN ALBANIAN SHOOTOUT. Ten people were
killed in a shootout between police and an armed gang in
the southern Albanian town of Berat on 4 March, Reuters
reported. Three policemen were among those killed.
Southern Albania was the scene of the worst violence
when the country plunged into chaos in 1997. PB

HIGH REPRESENTATIVE FOR BOSNIA THREATENS TO SACK
POPLASEN. Carlos Westendorp warned Republika Srpska
President Nikola Poplasen on 4 March that he might be
dismissed, Reuters reported. Westendorp sent a letter to
Poplasen accusing him of obstructing implementation of
the Dayton peace accords and of refusing to recognize
the results of last year's parliamentary elections.
Westendorp said he has the power to dismiss Poplasen and
will not hesitate to make use of it. Poplasen is in a
power struggle with Bosnian Serb Premier Milorad Dodik
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 March 1999). PB

SERBS, MUSLIMS TO JOINTLY RULE SREBRENICA. Bosnian
Muslim and Serbian political parties agreed on 5 March
to form a joint government in Srebrencia, Reuters
reported. The OSCE said the agreement, which it
mediated, is an important and courageous step toward
reconciliation. Thousands of Muslim men and boys who had
gathered in Srebrenica--declared a UN safe haven during
the Bosnian war--were massacred outside the town in 1995
by Serbian forces that had overrun Dutch peacekeepers.
PB

CROATIA SAYS HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT FLAWED. The Croatian
government on 4 March refuted a critical U.S. human
rights report on the country, calling it "incorrect" and
"factually unbalanced," HINA reported. Croatian Deputy
Premier Ljerka Mintas-Hodak said "all positive steps the
Croatian authorities have taken have been overlooked."
She added that the government is drafting a report
refuting the charges that it will hand to the U.S.
ambassador in Croatia. The report was critical, among
other things, of Zagreb's failure to reintegrate
displaced Serbs and of restrictions against the
independent media. PB

ROMANIAN MINERS' LEADER SENTENCED AGAIN. A court in
Pitesti on 4 March sentenced miners' leader Miron Cozma
to two-and-a -half years in prison for vandalism and
assault during a riot in a Petrosani restaurant in 1996
and to five months for hitting a journalist in 1994. The
sentences are in addition to the 18 years imprisonment
that Cozma received last month for his role in the 1991
Bucharest rampage by the Jiu valley miners, RFE/RL's
Bucharest bureau reported. MS

HUNGARIAN ETHNIC LEADERS PROTEST ROMANIAN DECISION ON
TELEVISED PROGRAMS. The parliamentary groups of the
Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) in the
two chambers of the parliament have appealed to the
houses' commissions on culture and mass media to re-
examine a decision of the National Audiovisual Council
earlier this month to make Romanian-language subtitling
obligatory for programs in the languages of the national
minorities. UDMR chairman Bela Marko said his party may
appeal the decision in court. Arpad Marton, deputy
leader of the UDMR group in the Chamber of Deputies,
said the decision contravenes constitutional provisions
and international treaties. Marko also said the UDMR
will demand that the government speed up the
establishment of the Petofi-Schiller "multicultural"
university in Cluj. MS

STURDZA SAYS IMF VISIT DELAY HAS SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES.
Premier Ion Sturdza on 4 March said the delay over
confirming his cabinet has resulted in the "severing" of
relations with the IMF, the World Bank, and other
international institutions that intended to provide
financial help, AFP reported. On 7 March, the
Constitutional Court is to decide on the validity of
Sturdza's confirmation as premier by the parliament.
Sturdza noted that Moldova urgently needs the help of
these institutions because of the precarious state of
its economy. An IMF delegation has postponed its
scheduled visit owing to the ongoing government crisis,
thus delaying the release of a tranche of $190 million
stand-by loan agreed on earlier this year. A World Bank
delegation planning to discuss financial aid to Moldova
also postponed a visit scheduled for earlier this week.
MS

KOSTOV WANTS TO FOLLOW POLISH MODEL. Bulgarian Prime
Minister Ivan Kostov, who is on an official visit to
Warsaw, told journalists on 4 March that since the
collapse of communism Bulgarian governments have had
done little to promote reform, but he noted that there
is still "enough time" to follow the so-called "shock
therapy" model of Polish Finance Minister Leszek
Balcerowicz, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Kostov
also said that a Bulgarian parliamentary delegation will
soon meet with Serbian and Kosova representatives to
seek to persuade them to reach a compromise before talks
resume on 15 March. MS

END NOTE

ESTONIANS VOTE IN THIRD PARLIAMENTARY POLL SINCE
INDEPENDENCE

By Mart Linnart and Villu Kand

	Estonians go to the polls on 7 March for the third
time since the country regained its independence in
1991. They will elect the 101 members of the unicameral
parliament, the Riigikogu. According to recent polls,
the main contest is between the liberal, market-oriented
Reform Party and the left-leaning Center Party.
	Since neither party is likely to win enough seats
to form a government by itself, the main question is
which one will have enough support in the parliament to
establish a ruling coalition. Led by former Prime
Minister Edgar Savisaar, the Center Party has signed a
cooperation agreement with the largest rural party, the
Country People's Party, whose head is the highly popular
Arnold Ruutel, the last Soviet-era leader. An opinion
poll conducted by the Emor polling agency showed that in
mid-February, the Center Party had the backing of 17
percent of the electorate, up 2 percent from the
previous poll. The Country Peopleís Party placed third,
with 10 percent.
	The pro-business Reform Party, which polled about
15 percent support, has signed a cooperation pact with
the centrist Moderates (9 percent support) and the
rightist Pro Patria Union (8 percent), the winner of the
first general elections after Estonia regained
independence. The Pro Patria government headed by Mart
Laar, some of whose members were Moderates, has been
credited with launching the reform process in Estonia.
When Laar was forced to resign in fall 1994, Moderates'
leader Andres Tarand headed the government until the
next scheduled elections in March 1995. Former Foreign
Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilvesís People's Party will run
on a joint list with the Moderates. Recently, the two
parties announced their merger after the elections.
	 All these parties are agreed that Estonia needs to
continue to pursue market-oriented reforms and EU
membership--both of which were top priorities of all
previous governments. They have also sharply criticized
the current coalition government, led by the Coalition
Party, for indecisiveness and corruption. According to
the Emor poll, support for the Coalition Party has
fallen below the 5 percent threshold required to win
seats in the parliament.
	Above all, the Center Party and Country Peopleís
Party seem to appeal most to those who feel they have
been left behind by the reforms or who worry that
Estonia is turning into a class-based society. Center
Party Chairman Edgar Savisaar, whose political career
almost came to an end several years ago over a major
scandal, has become very popular once again. He promises
to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor and to
introduce a progressive income tax system to replace the
current 26 percent flat rate.
	The liberal Reform Party, for its part, argues that
Estonia needs less taxation, rather than more, and
proposes abolishing corporate tax altogether. The party
argues that this would help create more jobs. In
addition, it has made an ambitious promise to double
within four years the average monthly wage to 9,000
kroons ($630) from the current 4,400 kroons. Both Siim
Kallas, the former central bank chairman and current
head of the Reform Party, and Pro Patria Union leader
Mart Laar are committed to the laissez-faire principle.
But now that Estonia's economic growth seems secure,
Laar would prefer more emphasis to be put on social
policy.
	Recently the Centrists' support has grown mainly on
account of its backing among non-Estonian voters. There
are three parties in Estonia that represent the
country's large ethnic Russian community, and they all
demand an improved status for the Russian language and
less stringent citizenship requirements. The leaders of
these parties, however, have been unable overcome their
differences; they will compete in the elections on two
lists and may fail gain to any seats in the parliament.
But if they do gain parliamentary representation, they
are most likely to support the Center Party, which has
the most liberal citizenship policy of all parties in
Estonia.
	The Center Party may well need the support both of
the Russian parties and of the Rural Union and the
Pensioners and Families League, which are running on the
list of the Coalition Party: the latest polls suggest
that of the two main blocs, the center-right one led by
the Reform Party will win the most seats in the
parliament. But regardless of the outcome of the vote,
observers say there will be no radical changes in the
pillars of Estonia's economic policy. As independent
Baltic strategist James Oates recently told Reuters:
"Most investors in the Estonian market have a relaxed
view of the political situation and are going to be
satisfied with almost all the likely options available."

Mart Linnart writes for the Estonian daily "Postimees."
Villu Kand is director of RFE/RL's Estonian Service.

(See three other articles on the Estonian elections at:
http://www.rferl.org)
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