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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 58, Part II, 24 March 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 58, Part II, 24 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

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Headlines, Part II

* UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES WORLD BANK LOAN

* SOLANA ORDERS AIR STRIKES AGAINST SERBIA

* MONTENEGRO DOES NOT RECOGNIZE 'STATE OF DANGER OF WAR'

End Note: BELARUSIAN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC: AN IDEAL VIS-
A-VIS FLAWED REALITY
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES WORLD BANK LOAN...
Lawmakers on 23 March approved a $200 million loan from
the World Bank to modernize Kyiv's heating system. The
Communist-dominated parliament had voted down the loan
deal earlier this month, arguing that foreign loans do
more harm than good to the Ukrainian economy (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 8 March 1999). JM

... FAILS TO APPROVE 1999 PRIVATIZATION PLAN. The same
day, the parliament fell 52 votes short of the required
majority to approve the 1999 privatization program
submitted by President Leonid Kuchma last month.
Lawmakers also failed to muster enough votes to reject
the program, which means it will go into effect if the
legislature does not reject by the end of this week. The
program envisages revenues totaling 800 million hryvni
($228 million) from the privatization of 455 large and
medium-sized companies and 5,500 small firms. The
parliament also rejected Kuchma's proposal to impose a
new tax on cellular phone users. JM

UKRAINIAN CABINET WITHDRAWS TAX BREAKS FOR JOINT
VENTURES. The Ukrainian government on 23 March revoked
tax breaks that allowed joint ventures with foreign
partners to import goods without paying customs duties,
AP reported. "We simply do not have a choice," Prime
Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko commented, adding that
duty-free imports by joint ventures are "drawing the
blood out of the economy and causing us to lose budget
revenues." JM

BELARUS SAYS DRAFT TREATY ON UNION WITH RUSSIA READY.
Alyaksandr Kozyr, head of the Belarusian half of the
commission on preparing a treaty on the Belarus-Russia
union, said on 23 March that the commission has already
prepared a draft treaty. According to Kozyr, the draft
envisions the creation of a bicameral union parliament,
with the upper chamber having equal representation from
the legislatures of Belarus and Russia and the lower
chamber elected by the population of either country. The
draft does not introduce the post of president of the
Belarus-Russia union. "We speak about the union of two
sovereign states, each headed by [its own] president. If
a third president, with wide powers and legitimacy, were
placed above the two heads of state, a Bermuda triangle
would be created that might wreck very good ideas,"
Kozyr told Belarusian Television. JM

ESTONIA'S KALLAS TO APPEAR IN COURT AGAIN NEXT MONTH.
Siim Kallas, the head of the Reform Party and the
designated finance minister in the new right-wing
government, will appear in a Tallinn district court in
mid-April after a prosecutor appealed a lower court
ruling, ETA reported on 23 March. Kallas has been
acquitted of charges of abuse of power, giving false
information, and intended embezzlement in the so-called
$10 million affair (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 March
1999). The prosecutor, however, has demanded that Kallas
be given a one-year suspended prison sentence. JC

TARAND TO HEAD ESTONIAN COALITION COUNCIL. Andres
Tarand, leader of the Moderates, has been appointed head
of the ruling alliance's Coalition Council, ETA reported
on 23 March. The nine-member council will be responsible
for proposing changes within the ruling coalition and
the cabinet, preparing important political decisions,
and solving disputes within the three-party alliance.
Before the elections, Tarand had been widely tipped as
the next prime minister. Analysts expressed surprise
when he was not given a post in the new government. JC

RIGAS KOMERCBANKA DECLARED INSOLVENT. The Riga Regional
Court, responding to a petition by the Latvian Central
Bank (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 March 1999), has declared
Rigas Komercbanka insolvent, LETA reported on 23 March.
The bank has one month in which to submit a recovery
plan, but according to the news agency, neither Finance
Minister Ivars Godmanis nor Bank of Latvia President
Einars Repse is optimistic about its chances of success.
During the 23 March court proceedings, a Bank of Latvia
official revealed that Rigas Komercbanka lost 29 million
lats (some $50 million) in Russia last year and 1.6
million lats so far in 1999. JC

LITHUANIAN LAWMAKERS BOW TO PRESIDENT OVER COMPETITION
LAW. The parliament voted by 92 to three with six
abstentions to pass an amended version of the
competition law that includes recommendations by
President Valdas Adamkus, who had vetoed the law for a
second time earlier this month, ELTA reported on 23
March. Adamkus had requested, among other things, that
the president be granted the right to appoint the
Competition Council's five members on the recommendation
of the premier (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 March 1999).
According to the news agency, the ruling Conservatives,
while arguing that the amendments were not essential,
wanted to avoid another dispute with the head of state.
JC

MOSCOW STRESSES CONCERN OVER DESCRATED GRAVES OF FORMER
SOVIET SOLDIERS. The Russian Foreign Ministry, adding
its voice to that of the Russian Embassy in Vilnius (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 22 March 1999), has expressed concern
over "recurrent acts of vandalism against the graves of
former Soviet servicemen in Lithuania," ELTA reported on
23 March. The ministry urged the Lithuanian to punish
those responsible for such acts. JC

POLISH OFFICIAL RESIGNS OVER LUSTRATION REPORT. Deputy
Economy Minister Janusz Koczurba resigned his post on 23
March after the government's mouthpiece, "Monitor
Polski," published his statement admitting collaboration
with the Communist-era secret services. Koczurba told
PAP that his collaboration "concerned only Poland's
external interests, especially economic," adding that it
ended 15 years ago. Koczurba was in charge of Poland's
economic relations with the EU. Meanwhile, Marek
Dukaczewski, an undersecretary in the presidential
National Security Bureau who has admitted working in a
Communist-era military intelligence service, will remain
in his post. President Aleksander Kwasniewski said he
knew about Dukaczewski's past activities before he
appointed him and sees no reason for any "personnel
consequences." JM

POLAND'S RULING COALITION QUARRELS OVER CABINET
RESHUFFLE. Solidarity Electoral Action [AWS] and its
coalition partner, the Freedom Union [UW], are arguing
over ministerial posts in an ongoing government
reshuffle, Polish media reported. Prime Minister Jerzy
Buzek has already cut the size of his cabinet by
dismissing five ministers without portfolio, all of whom
were from the AWS. AWS activist Kazimierz Janiak
believes that the UW should give up one of the
ministries in favor of the AWS in order to "maintain the
balance." Andrzej Potocki of the UW says the union does
not want to be "maneuvered into a battle for posts." It
is widely expected that Buzek--in a bid to increase the
government's popularity--will replace the ministers of
health, education, and telecommunications (AWS
portfolios) as well as of culture and defense (UW). JM

HAVEL CALLS ON MILOSEVIC TO ACCEPT NATO DEMANDS.
President Vaclav Havel on 24 March called on Yugoslav
President Slobodan Milosevic to "unconditionally and as
quickly as possible meet [NATO] demands." He said
Milosevic is "unequivocally responsible" for any NATO
action, CTK reported. Foreign Minister Jan Kavan said
Prague will evacuate its remaining staff from its
Belgrade embassy if the air strikes begin. Some staff
were evacuated on 22 March. Defense Minister Vladimir
Vetchy said the next day that the Czech field hospital
will be sent to the region only if the Yugoslavs agree
to the deployment of a NATO peacekeeping force in the
province. MS

MECIAR URGED TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT. The leadership of the
opposition Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) has
asked its leader, former premier Vladimir Meciar, to
reconsider his refusal to be the party's candidate in
the presidential elections scheduled for 15 May, HZDS
spokesman Igor Zvach told CTK on 23 March. Following his
defeat in the September 1998 parliamentary elections,
Meciar said he would not run for the post. He resigned
from the parliament, saying he was determined to "leave
public life." MS

ORBAN SAYS HUNGARY'S SECURITY NOT THREATENED BY KOSOVA
CRISIS. Prime Minister Viktor Orban said he does not
fear any threat to Hungary's security from expected NATO
air strikes against neighboring Yugoslavia, Hungarian
media reported on 24 March. Orban said that in line with
a decision by the parliament, Hungarian soldiers "will
not leave the country." Defense Ministry spokesman
Colonel Lajos Erdelyi told state television that Hungary
would not be directly involved in the air attacks but
would make its air space available to NATO. The daily
"Nepszabadsag" wrote, however, that the Taszar military
base in southwestern Hungary might become a target
because it is within striking range of Yugoslav missiles
and artillery. MSZ

SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER IN BUDAPEST. Mikulas Dzurinda,
paying a "private" visit to Hungary on 23 March at the
invitation of Premier Viktor Orban, discussed with his
host Slovakia's bid for Euro-Atlantic integration, the
status of the Hungarian minority in Slovakia and
Bratislava's pending minority language bill, Hungarian
media reported. In other news, Reformed Bishop Laszlo
Tokes, honorary chairman of the Hungarian Democratic
Federation of Romania, said dual citizenship for all
Hungarians, which various Hungarian minority groups
living close to Hungary are demanding, could "in
principle " be replaced by "a special status." He also
remarked that Hungary's NATO membership could "provide
indirect protection for Hungarian ethnic minorities."
Tokes was speaking in Budapest at a 23 March meeting
between Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi and
leaders of ethnic Hungarian parties abroad. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SOLANA ORDERS AIR STRIKES AGAINST SERBIA. NATO
Secretary-General Javier Solana said in Brussels after
talks with U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke on 23
March that diplomatic efforts to end the crisis in
Kosova have failed. Solana added that he has authorized
General Wesley Clark, who is the alliance's supreme
commander in Europe, to "initiate air operations in the
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia." Clark will select
targets and determine when they will be attacked.
Observers noted that NATO is likely to launch cruise
missiles to cripple Serbian anti-aircraft systems and
then send in aircraft. PM

WESTERN LEADERS STRESS NEED TO SAVE KOSOVAR LIVES. U.S.
President Bill Clinton, British Prime Minister Tony
Blair, and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said in
their respective capitals on 23 March that Yugoslav
President Slobodan Milosevic is responsible for the
failure of diplomacy to end the crisis. They stressed
that NATO now has no political or moral alternative than
to reduce his ability to make war in the troubled
province. NATO will thereby help save lives, they
stressed. Observers noted that the statements marked a
shift in the Western rationale for launching air
strikes. Previously, NATO leaders had generally
emphasized the need to pressure Milosevic into signing
the Rambouillet accords. By stressing instead the need
to save lives, they have adopted a goal they can achieve
by themselves without Milosevic's involvement or
approval. It is also a goal they can pursue under the UN
Charter without needing a specific UN mandate to do so.
PM

BELGRADE DECLARES 'STATE OF DANGER OF WAR'... Yugoslav
Deputy Prime Minister Vuk Draskovic told the BBC on 24
March that the West is "sacrificing" Serbia in the
interests of setting up a "greater Albania." The
previous day, Federal Yugoslav Prime Minister Momir
Bulatovic said on state-run television that the
government has declared a "state of immediate danger of
war" because of the likelihood of NATO "aggression."
Observers noted that a "state of danger of war" affects
only the police and the military and is not as stringent
as a "state of emergency." Elsewhere, Defense Minister
General Pavle Bulatovic charged that Washington and NATO
have allied themselves with the Kosovar "terrorists,"
which is Belgrade's term for the Kosova Liberation Army
(UCK). He added that the Yugoslav army has "dispersed
its forces" so as to reduce the risk of major losses in
any single attack. Meanwhile, Milosevic fired General
Aleksandar Dimitrijevic as head of military security and
replaced him with General Geza Farkas. PM

...SHUTS DOWN INDEPENDENT RADIO STATION. Several police
and officials of the Federal Ministry of
Telecommunications entered the offices of independent
Belgrade Radio B-92 in the early hours of 24 March and
ordered journalists to stop broadcasting. The police
also confiscated some broadcasting equipment. Police
took away editor-in-chief Veran Matic for questioning.
The journalists continued to disseminate their programs
via the Internet. This is the third time in some 10
years that the authorities have prevented B-92 from
broadcasting, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. In
the course of 1998, B-92 extended the range of its
broadcasting to cover all Serbia. PM

MONTENEGRO DOES NOT RECOGNIZE 'STATE OF DANGER OF WAR.'
The Montenegrin parliament meets on 24 March to discuss
Podgorica's response to the Kosova crisis. The previous
day, a Montenegrin government spokesman said the
government does not recognize Momir Bulatovic's
declaration of a "state of danger of war." The spokesman
added that the government will not allow the Yugoslav
military to use Montenegrin facilities in order to fight
NATO forces. The government appealed for calm. Podgorica
does not recognize the government of Bulatovic, who is
the arch-rival of Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic.
PM

MACEDONIA SEEKS TO STAY OUT OF CONFLICT... Prime
Minister Ljubco Georgievski told reporters in Skopje on
23 March that his government will not allow NATO
peacekeepers stationed in Macedonia to attack Serbia.
"Our country won't allow its territory to be used in an
attack on any neighboring country, including Yugoslavia,
and I think NATO will accept this," he said (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 22 March 1999). PM

...REOPENS BORDER TO REFUGEES. Macedonian border police
told Reuters at the Blace crossing with Kosova on 24
March that "the order to close the border [to Yugoslav
citizens] has been lifted as of now. We don't know
whether we will be asked to close it again later." The
previous day, border police said that persons "with
Yugoslav passports are not allowed in this country as
from this morning and will be turned back." Observers
noted that the Macedonian authorities fear that an
influx of refugees from Kosova will strain Macedonia's
limited resources and possibly upset that country's
delicate ethnic balance. Some 23 percent of the
population is ethnic Albanian. PM

ALBANIA CONCENTRATES TROOPS ALONG KOSOVA BORDER... Prime
Minister Pandeli Majko told leaders of his governing
coalition in Tirana on 23 March that "we have stationed
on [our] northern border the largest number of soldiers
since World War II." He did not give figures but added
that "we are undertaking a diplomatic and military
action to defend the sovereignty of our country." He
hinted that the government fears a possible revenge
attack from Yugoslav forces following expected NATO air
strikes. Majko also accused Serbian forces of killing
200 Kosovars over the last few days. He referred to
unspecified "official and unofficial sources" but did
not elaborate. Later he told an emergency parliamentary
session that "we are preparing for the worst scenario
because to prepare for war means to prepare for peace,"
Reuters reported. The government ordered the relevant
authorities to prepare bunkers and underground shelters
for civilians and to supply all hospitals in the
northern towns with medicines. FS

...AND PREPARES FOR NEW REFUGEE INFLUX. On 23 March,
Albanian authorities in the north began preparing more
refugee camps in case of an exodus from Kosova, AP
reported. Information Minister Musa Ulqini told dpa that
Albania is able to accommodate 10,000 refugees in
addition to the 20,000 already in the country. Serbian
forces recently laid more mines in the area bordering
Albania in order to prevent Kosovar refugees from
crossing into Albania and UCK fighters from entering
Kosova. According to Albanian authorities, only about 50
Kosovar Albanian families have crossed into Albania over
the past 10 days, dpa reported. FS

SOLANA ASSURES ALBANIA OF NATO PROTECTION. NATO
Secretary-General Javier Solana sent a letter to Majko
on 24 March providing assurances of NATO support in case
of a Yugoslav attack. The letter said that that "it
would be unacceptable if the Federal Republic of
Yugoslavia were to threaten the territorial integrity,
political independence, and the security of your
country," AP reported. Further details of NATO's
assurances were not immediately available. Meanwhile,
President Rexhep Meidani told a meeting of UCK leaders
in Tirana on 23 March that the international community
should intervene immediately in Kosova to save lives. He
stressed that time has come to "finally stop Belgrade's
war machine," Reuters reported. FS

CROATIA WILL NOT SEND GENERALS TO HAGUE. Prime Minister
Zlatko Matesa told the parliament on 23 March that the
government will not extradite any Croatian generals to
the Hague-based war crimes tribunal. He said:
"Resolutions passed by the parliament provide the
government with absolute grounds to clearly state that
not a single Croatian general will be extradited to The
Hague." The "New York Times" reported recently that the
court plans to indict at least three generals (see
"RFE/RL Balkan Report," 23 March 1999). Spokesmen for
the tribunal subsequently said that court officials are
investigating the source of possible leaks to the U.S.
daily. PM

ROMANIAN EXTREMIST SENATOR LOSES PARLIAMENTARY IMMUNITY.
By a vote of 80 to 36, the Senate on 23 March lifted the
parliamentary immunity of Greater Romania Party leader
Corneliu Vadim Tudor. Tudor lost his immunity under the
new regulations that require a vote of 50 percent plus
one, instead of the previously required two-thirds
majority. The controversial senator was not present at
the debate, claiming illness. He faces various charges,
including calumny. If convicted, he could be jailed for
up to three years, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported.
MS

WORLD BANK TO EXTEND LOAN TO ROMANIA. Premier Radu
Vasile and the World Bank's director for Romania, Andrew
Vorking, told journalists on 23 March that they have
reached an agreement on a $300 million loan in support
of economic reforms. The agreement, which must be
approved by the bank's board in June, provides for a
$100 million tranche to be released that month and two
other tranches later in 1999, depending on whether
progress toward the agreement's implementation is made.
The two men agreed that Romania must privatize both the
banking system and profit-making state-owned companies,
close loss-making companies, improve legislation aimed
at promoting business, and meet the social costs of
restructuring. The IMF may now follow suit by resuming
loaning. This would enable Bucharest to avoid defaulting
on its external debt, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau
reported. MS

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT BACKS NATO DECISION TO STRIKE...
President Petar Stoyanov on 23 March said that since
Bulgaria wishes to join NATO and the EU, it "has no
other choice but to back the international community" in
its conflict with Milosevic's "totalitarian regime,"
Reuters reported. Stoyanov added that any further
widening of the conflict will be "most unwelcome for
Bulgaria, because of its geographical location." He
appealed to Bulgarians not to panic and said the army
has not been put on alert. At the same time, he said he
might cancel a trip to Germany scheduled for 24 March.
Premier Ivan Kostov has already postponed visits to
Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. MS

...WHILE DEFENSE OFFICIAL DENIES KOZLODUY THREATENED BY
SERB RETALIATION. Deputy Minister of Defense Velizar
Shalamanov told Reuters on 23 March that the risk of an
Serbian attack on the Kozloduy nuclear power plant in
retaliation for Bulgaria's allowing NATO to use its air
space is "absolutely minimal." Shalamanov made the
statement after what Reuters described as a "panic among
some local media that Serbia might launch an air attack
against Bulgaria." He said he was confident that
Bulgaria's air defense is capable of thwarting any
threats to the plant and that "plans for its protection
have been worked out long ago." MS

END NOTE

BELARUSIAN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC: AN IDEAL VIS-A-VIS
FLAWED REALITY

by Jan Maksymiuk

	Until recently, few Western historians, let alone
ordinary mortals, had heard about the existence of the
Belarusian Democratic Republic (Belaruskaya Narodnaya
Respublika, BNR), a non-Bolshevik Belarusian state
proclaimed in Minsk on 25 March 1918. Richard Pipes in
"The Formation of the Soviet Union" (Harvard University
Press, 1997) and Norman Davies in "Europe: A History"
(Oxford University Press, 1996) were probably the only
world-renowned historians to communicate that news to a
wider Western readership.
	A decade ago, the BNR was still unknown to most
Belarusians as well. Soviet historiography long
concealed the fact that such a state as the BNR had ever
existed. Soviet historians contemptuously branded the
BNR a short-lived "bourgeois" puppet republic under the
German Kaiser's patronage. When Belarus became a
sovereign state in 1991, Belarusian students received
new history textbooks presenting the proclamation of the
BNR as an event of which they could and should be proud.
When Alyaksandr Lukashenka became Belarusian president
in 1994, he ordered those textbook to be removed,
viewing them as detrimental to his policy of re-
Sovietization and integration with Russia.
	After the Bolshevik coup in Petrograd in October
1917, 1,872 delegates came to the All-Belarusian
Congress in Minsk on 14 December 1917 to discuss the
future of Belarus after the collapse of the Russian
empire. The congress pledged loyalty to the Bolshevik
center in Moscow, but was nevertheless dispersed by a
detachment of soldiers from the Minsk Bolshevik
garrison. That action radicalized some of the congress
delegates, who later met clandestinely and declared the
Rada [Council] of the All-Belarusian Congress--a body
they had managed to create before being dispersed--a
"supreme government agency" in Belarus. In February
1918, immediately after the Reds left Minsk to the
Germans, the Rada returned to the city and formed a
provisional government. The German occupation troops did
not prevent the Rada from pursuing its political and
administrative activities.
	On 9 March 1918, the Rada proclaimed the Belarusian
Democratic Republic "within the borders of the numerical
majority of Belarusian people." Some two weeks later, on
25 March, the Rada declared the BNR an "independent and
free state" and pledged that the Belarusian people would
soon determine their national future through a
Constituent Assembly (a freely elected legislature).
	The BNR opened diplomatic missions in, or sent its
diplomatic plenipotentiaries to, a dozen European
countries. However, the newly-born Belarusian statehood
failed to obtain the necessary support from the allied
powers to survive. In December 1918, nine months after
the declaration of the independent BNR, its government
was forced to emigrate to Lithuania and Germany.
Belarus, as on many previous occasions, become a
battleground for Moscow and Warsaw.
	After the partition of Belarus between Poland and
Bolshevik Russia under the 1921 Treaty of Riga and the
creation of the Belarusian SSR, the exiled BNR
government slowly but inevitably faded into oblivion:
Vasil Zakharka, the BNR's last president, died in Prague
in 1943. However, the creation of the BNR has become a
pivotal point of the Belarusian national (and
nationalist) myth, revered primarily by Belarusian
emigre historians.
	The BNR was bound to become a consecrated ideal of
Belarusian statehood for at least two reasons. First,
the BNR was created on the basis of a popular, non-
Bolshevik mandate given by the All-Belarusian Congress.
Second, the congress delegates were predominantly the
"salt of the Belarusian earth"--peasants or
representatives of the first-generation intelligentsia
born into peasant families. Thus, the proclamation of
the BNR refutes the widespread belief that the
Belarusians--a "nation of peasants"--were not mature
enough to form their own statehood but rather thankfully
accepted it as an almost unsolicited gift from Russia's
Bolsheviks, in particular, Lenin and Stalin.
	The BNR myth continues to appeal to all Belarusians
who pursue the dream of independent statehood. It is
unimportant for them that the BNR existed for only a
fleeting moment in history or that the BNR's
administrative powers did not extend beyond the city of
Minsk and its environs.
	Honoring Zakharka's political testament, post-war
Belarusian refugees in displaced persons camps in
Germany revived the BNR Rada in 1948 under the
leadership of Mikola Abramchyk as a kind of government-
in-exile of the Belarusian Diaspora outside the Soviet
bloc. In 1997, the BNR Rada--which is now headed by
Joanna Survilla of Canada--launched a campaign to "sign
up for BNR citizenship." The BNR Rada urged Belarusians
to pledge their allegiance to the ideal BNR state in a
symbolic act of disobedience to the Moscow-oriented
Lukashenka regime and the current Republic of Belarus.
While the bulk of the Belarusian population did not sign
up, the initiative has apparently found some support
among primarily young urban Belarusians.
	Zyanon Paznyak, exiled leader of the opposition
Belarusian Popular Front, has upheld the initiative of
"joining the BNR" and pledged--following the opposition
presidential elections on 16 May--to begin preparations
for electing a "constituent assembly" in order to put
Belarus back on the "path of constitutional legitimacy."
That pledge may boil down to nothing more than wishful
thinking on the part of Paznyak, but it highlights a
rather complicated pattern of Belarusian opposition
policies, in which historical reminiscences and ideals
are fancifully interwoven with rhetoric promoting
liberal economic policies.
	The Belarusian Diaspora celebrate 25 March as
Independence Day, while in Belarus, the opposition marks
it as Freedom Day. This year, a rally to commemorate the
BNR's anniversary will take place in Minsk on 28 March.
Rumors have it that Paznyak, who has declared his
intention to run in the opposition presidential
elections, will return to Belarus on that date,
following three years in exile.

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