Being entirely honest with oneself is a good exercise. - Sigmund Freud
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 62, Part II, 30 March 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 62, Part II, 30 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

* UKRAINIANS MOURN CHORNOVIL

* SERBS LAUNCH MAJOR OFFENSIVE

* NATO: KOSOVAR LEADER 'EXECUTED'

End Note: THE KOSOVA CRISIS AND THE NATO HOPEFULS
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

KUCHMA BLASTS GOVERNMENT, PARLIAMENT. Ukrainian
President Leonid Kuchma on 29 March sharply criticized
the government for failing to revive the country's
economy and blamed the parliament for blocking economic
reforms, ITAR-TASS reported. Kuchma said incomes dropped
an average of 14.4 percent from the previous year and
retail trade was nearly 12 percent lower. He said that
financial policy is "inefficient" and sometimes wrong
and that leftist forces in parliament are ready to block
IMF and World Bank credits. Kuchma also noted that the
government must support domestic production and improve
the financial system in order to allay wage arrears. He
vowed that Ukraine will "never go along the path of
inflation" caused by printing money. PB

UKRAINIANS MOURN CHORNOVIL. President Kuchma and Premier
Valeriy Pustovoytenko were among an estimated 15,000
people attending the Kyiv funeral of Vyacheslav
Chornovil, head of the Popular Rukh of Ukraine and a key
leader in the country's fight for independence, the
"Eastern Economist" reported. Chornovil, who died in a
car accident last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 March
1999), spent 15 years in Soviet prisons as a dissident.
He was first arrested in 1967 after two of his books
appeared in the West. PB

CHYHIR COLLECTS SIGNATURES FOR BELARUSIAN PRESIDENTIAL
ELECTION. Former Prime Minister Mikhail Chyhir said on
29 March that despite "difficult conditions," he has
collected the necessary signatures to register as a
candidate in the opposition presidential election,
Belapan reported. Chyhir said he has some 132,000
signatures; 100,000 are needed to register as a
candidate for the scheduled May election, which has been
called illegal by the government. He said many people
who signed his application have lost their jobs and
others have been expelled from universities. He added
that the KGB and police seized lists of signatures and
searched cars near his headquarters. In other news,
Vladymyr Pleshchenka, chairman of the Vybar organization
of the Belarusian Popular Front, was released from jail
on his own recognizance after being detained for six
months on charges of malicious hooliganism. PB

LUKASHENKA OFFERS SUPPORT TO MILOSEVIC. Belarusian
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka telephoned with Yugoslav
President Slobodan Milosevic on 29 March to offer his
support, AFP reported. Lukashenka, who had earlier
promised to send aid to Belgrade if Yugoslavia were
attacked by NATO, told Milosevic that the air campaign
against Yugoslavia is a "direct threat to European
security." Milosevic responded that Serbs "cannot be
enslaved." PB

ETHNIC RUSSIANS COLLECT ANTI-NATO SIGNATURES IN NARVA...
More than 1,000 ethnic Russian residents of Estonia's
northeastern city of Narva have signed a petition urging
NATO to cease its air strikes against Yugoslavia, ETA
reported on 29 March. A local ethnic Russian leader is
quoted as saying that a poll of residents of the city,
which is predominantly ethnic Russian, shows that a
majority is opposed to Estonia's joining NATO. JC

...WHILE PROTESTS CONTINUE IN LATVIA. Some 100 ethnic
Russians took part in an unsanctioned rally in a Riga
park on 29 March to protest NATO air strikes against
Yugoslavia. The demonstrators were mainly elderly
people. Police in the Latvian capital have pointed out
that the regular demonstrations by some 20-30 people
outside the U.S. embassy are illegal, since the
demonstrators have not applied to the city council for
permission to hold such meetings. In Liepaja on 29
March, police detained about 15 people who took part in
an unsanctioned rally to protest NATO policy in
Yugoslavia. Meanwhile, in the Russian city of Pskov,
several dozen Russian youths gathered outside the
Estonian and Latvian consulates to condemn the air
strikes, Baltic news agencies and "Diena" reported.
There are no diplomatic representations of NATO member
states in Pskov, while Estonia and Latvia are both
aspiring to join the alliance. JC

LANDSBERGIS STRESSES HIS CONFIDENCE IN PROSECUTOR-
GENERAL. Lithuanian parliamentary chairman Vytautas
Landsbergis commented to journalists on 29 March that
"for the first time ever, we have a prosecutor-general
who is taking action and never covers up huge frauds,"
ELTA reported. Landsbergis stressed that there is no
reason to distrust the current prosecutor-general, Kazys
Pednycia, or to consider how to replace him. Those
remarks come on the heels of press reports that
President Valdas Adamkus proposes to submit amendments
to the parliament aimed at "reinforcing the independence
of the Prosecutor-General's Office and granting more
rights to the institution." According to BNS, Adamkus
will propose that the prosecutor-general be nominated by
the parliament with the president's approval. Under the
current law, the holder of that office is nominated by a
parliamentary committee and approved by the legislature.
JC

WARSAW DOESN'T WANT WALL BETWEEN POLAND, UKRAINE. Polish
Foreign Minster Bronislaw Geremek said on 29 March in
Warsaw that he does not want a new "Iron Curtain" to
emerge after Poland joins the EU, PAP reported. Geremek
made his comments after meeting with his Ukrainian
counterpart, Borys Tarasyuk, in the inaugural meeting of
the Polish-Ukrainian Conference, designed to promote
European affairs in Ukraine. Geremek said Poland, under
pressure from EU members to tighten its eastern borders,
will try to convince Brussels that it is better to
create a "controlled border" than a new wall. PB

PRAGUE READY TO ACCEPT SEVERAL HUNDRED KOSOVAR REFUGEES.
An Interior Ministry official on 29 March said the Czech
Republic is "prepared to accept immediately several
hundred refugees from Kosova." The same day, the
government approved the country's military strategy.
Defense Minister Vladimir Vetchy told journalists that
the cabinet has not discussed sending ground forces to
Yugoslavia and will do so only if it receives such a
request from NATO. Also, a Kosova Albanian was shot dead
at a rally in Prague's city center. His killer, a
Yugoslav national, has been arrested by the police,
which later said the reason for the murder was a family
quarrel, CTK reported. MS

SLOVAK POLICE SEEK LEXA'S ARREST. Jaroslav Ivor, who is
heading the investigation into former Slovak
Intelligence Service chief Ivan Lexa, said on 29 March
that police have asked the parliament for permission to
arrest Lexa, who is suspected of involvement in the 1995
kidnapping of former President Michal Kovac's son as
well as of other abuses of power, Reuters reported. The
parliament has been asked to lift Lexa's immunity, but
under existing regulations, a deputy is still immune
from arrest until found guilty in court. Ivor said
police are concerned that "if let free during the
prosecution period, [Lexa] might disrupt the
investigation, for example by influencing witnesses." MS

SLOVAK INTERIOR MINISTER SAYS DUCKY'S KILLER ARRESTED.
Ladislav Pittner on 29 March said the "likely murderer"
of former Interior Minister Jan Ducky, who was shot dead
in early January, has been "taken into custody," CTK
reported. The suspect, whose cover name is "Alex," is a
member of the "Ukrainian mafia." The child of Alex's
driver was kidnapped because it was feared the driver
"knew too much." When they received the ransom, the
kidnappers attempted to kill the father, but police
saved the child and arrested "Alex." With regard to
another incident, Pittner said that three contract
killers were involved in the shooting of 10 people in a
bar in Dunajska Streda on 25 March and that they had
been hired for a total of $1 million. The victims were
members of a "Ukrainian mafia" gang headed by Tibor
Papaya. Investigators are looking into a possible link
with Lexa, because Papaya had claimed he enjoys Lexa's
protection. MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SERBS LAUNCH MAJOR OFFENSIVE. Serbian forces accompanied
by tanks and armored personnel carriers shelled the
Pagarusha area of the Semetiska valley from Malisheva,
Suhareka, and Rahovec on 30 March, Reuters reported. An
unnamed diplomat told the news agency that "the Serbian
goal is two-fold: to destroy units of the [guerrillas]
and to drive into Albania" some 50,000 displaced persons
who have taken refuge in the valley. PM

THACI: UCK 'OVERWHELMED.' State Department spokesman
James Rubin said in Washington on 29 March that
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright spoke with Kosova
Liberation Army (UCK) leader Hashim Thaci the previous
day by telephone, AP reported. "Thaci told her that
Yugoslav army and police units as well as paramilitary
groups were killing civilians and burning houses, that
the [UCK] was trying to defend civilians but the
fighting has spread to the cities and that there had
been a sense that they were being overwhelmed," Rubin
added. Elsewhere, refugees arriving in Montenegro said
that Serbian forces have "ethnically cleansed" Peja of
its ethnic Albanian population. PM

NATO: KOSOVAR LEADER 'EXECUTED.' A spokesman for the
Atlantic alliance said in Brussels on 29 March that
"Serbian forces executed" Fehmi Agani the previous day.
The moderate, 66-year-old Agani was chief negotiator for
shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova and a professor of
sociology. He wanted independence for Kosova but
supported the Rambouillet peace accords that provide for
broad autonomy but not independence. The NATO spokesman
added that Serbian forces also killed Baton Haxhiu, who
was editor-in-chief of the Prishtina daily "Koha Ditore"
as well as four other intellectuals. It is unclear where
the killings took place. Unidentified Serbs recently
killed a prominent human rights lawyer and his two sons.
Albanian Prime Minister Pandeli Majko said in Tirana on
29 March that Agani's "execution and those of other
well-known intellectuals in Kosova are a clear
indication of what Milosevic is about." Rugova,
negotiator Veton Surroi, and many other prominent
Kosovars are reportedly in hiding. PM

CHIRAC: NO PLACE FOR MILOSEVIC. French President Jacques
Chirac said in Paris on 29 March that Europe "cannot
accept on its soil a man and a regime that, for nearly
10 years, has conducted...operations of ethnic
cleansing, murders, and massacres, of destabilization in
the entire region, resulting in more than 200,000 deaths
and millions left homeless." In Chicago, Vice President
Al Gore stressed that "we abhor the ethnic cleansing
that is now occurring.... Ethnic Albanians are being
driven from their homes, forced to flee their country in
large numbers and in many cases are being murdered in
cold blood." In Washington, Rubin noted that "it is
clear that Slobodan Milosevic bears responsibility for
the events that led to war crimes in Croatia, Bosnia,
and now [Kosova, where events] obviously are being
directed from Belgrade." Defense Secretary William Cohen
warned that Milosevic runs the risk of the Hague-based
war crimes tribunal indicting him. PM

GENERALS: GROUND FORCES COULD PROTECT KOSOVARS. Several
active and retired top U.S. military commanders told the
"New York Times" of 30 March that NATO could assemble a
force of up to 40,000 troops and send them to Kosova
"within days" to protect civilians from further attacks
and atrocities. One general warned against
overestimating Serbian military strength. Another
suggested that the main problem preventing sending in
ground forces is the lack of political will on the part
of many key Western leaders. Some generals noted that
NATO could set up "safe havens" for refugees. General
George Joulwan, who is NATO's former top commander,
argued that "if the killings continue, how can you have
12,000 NATO troops [in Macedonia] 10 miles from where
the atrocities are being committed and do nothing?" PM

NATO COMMANDOS ALREADY IN YUGOSLAVIA? Elite units from
the U.S., the U.K., and France have been "going about
their business throughout [Milosevic's] Yugoslavia for
weeks," retired Croatian General Ante Roso told
"Vecernji list" of 30 March. He added that they are
conducting unspecified secret operations "that will not
be reported in CNN or Sky News." The Zagreb daily added
that most of Yugoslavia's MiGs are intact but are
physically unable to leave their underground hangars due
to damage from bombing on the surface. Retired General
Antun Tus told "Vjesnik" that NATO seeks to destroy all
Serbian heavy weapons between Kragujevac and Kosova in
order to "isolate" Serbian forces in the province. PM

DJUKANOVIC: STOP THE BOMBING. NATO aircraft bombed
targets in Serbia, Kosova, and Montenegro on 29 March.
Speaking in Podgorica, Montenegrin President Milo
Djukanovic warned that the "spiral of violence is
spinning out of control" and appealed to Western leaders
to stop the attacks. He stressed: "It is no longer
important whose violence was the cause and whose
violence was the consequence. In this hell, innocent
people are being hurt." Djukanovic noted that
Milosevic's "insane policy" has hurt the "Serbian
people" more than anyone else. The Montenegrin leader
stressed: "It is necessary to end NATO air strikes and
open talks. Not even the staunchest [domestic] opponents
of Milosevic can understand the international
community's stance toward him." Djukanovic also
criticized the international community for treating
Milosevic as their main negotiating partner in the
region for many years, "RFE/RL's South Slavic Service
reported. PM

ALBANIA EXPECTS MORE REFUGEES. Information Minister Musa
Ulqini told a private Tirana radio station on 29 March
that "many refugees report that Serbs have ordered
residents of Prizren to leave the town by tomorrow or
else their houses will be shelled and they will be
killed." Ulqini said that if the residents obey that
order, the number of Kosovar refugees in Albania will
increase to 100,000 in a couple of hours. According to
Ulqini, an estimated 80,000 Kosovar refugees have
crossed into Albania since the weekend. Prime Minister
Majko told the parliament that the government is
expecting another 100,000 refugees, who are still on
their way. The legislators adopted a resolution calling
on NATO to send ground troops to Kosova. FS

UNHCR AIRLIFT TO ALBANIA. Kris Janowski, a spokesman for
the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in
Geneva, told AP on 30 March that the British government
has supplied a transport plane that will shuttle
supplies from Copenhagen to Tirana. The previous day, an
Italian military ship loaded with buses, trucks, and
tents for refugee relief work left Bari for Durres. In
Kukes, UNHCR personnel told AP that the authorities
simply cannot cope with the influx and stressed that "we
need everything." Some refugees are sleeping on
sidewalks. Elsewhere, the Rome-based World Food Program
sent a convoy carrying food from Tirana to Kukes. FS

TIRANA RESIDENTS OFFER THEIR HOMES. Buses, trucks, and
cars brought about 21,000 refugees from the remote north
to other locations in Albania on 29 and 30 March, dpa
reported. Information Minister Ulqini stressed that
"there has been a great show of solidarity and
traditional Albanian hospitality by people all over
Albania." About 5,000 refugees arrived in Tirana on 29
March. The first arrivals had been expected to stay in
an indoor stadium on the outskirts of the capital, but
around 1,000 local residents competed with one another
to put up the refugees in their homes. FS

ROMANIA DENIES RUSSIAN USED AIR SPACE FOR FLYING ARMS TO
SERBS. The Defense Ministry on 29 March denied media
reports that Russian aircraft transporting weapons to
Yugoslavia overflew Romania on 26 March, RFE/RL's
Bucharest bureau reported. The ministry said that no
authorization has been given for Russian overflights to
Yugoslavia and that no Russian plane overflying Romanian
territory had a Yugoslav airport as its registered
destination. The ministry also commented that no
"violation or attempted violation" of Romanian air space
has been recorded since 26 March. The Ministry of
Transportation announced it has re-opened the Arad and
Caransebes airports, but the Timisoara airport remains
closed. It added that it has authorized the "temporary
stationing" at Bucharest's Baneasa airport of six JAT
planes, following a request by the Yugoslav national
carrier. MS

ETHNIC SERBS DEMONSTRATE AGAINST NATO STRIKES IN
BUCHAREST. Several hundred ethnic Serbs demonstrated in
Bucharest on 29 March against NATO air strikes. The
demonstrators, who were joined by some Romanian
nationalists and leftists, threw eggs at the U.S. and
French embassies. They carried Yugoslav flags and
banners that read "NATO-Nazis" and "Yugoslavia is not
Lewinsky." They also shouted "Today Yugoslavia, tomorrow
Transylvania," in a reference to the province where most
of Romania's large Hungarian minority lives, Reuters and
AP reported. MS

ROMANIAN PARTY CHANGES NAME. At an extraordinary
congress on 27-28 March, the Romanian Alternative Party
changed its name to the Union of Rightist Forces (UFD)
and elected Varujan Vosganian and Adrian Iorgulescu as
UFD co-chairmen, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The
Romanian National Party (PNR), holding its first
congress on 28 March, elected Viorel Catarama as PNR
chairman and Mihai Berca as his deputy. Catarama was
also nominated as PNR candidate for the premiership in
the 2000 general elections. Virgil Magureanu was
replaced as PNR secretary-general by Mircea Cranta but
was elected a member of the PNR Political Bureau.
Magureanu was elected PNR deputy chairman on 29 March.
MS

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT FEARS TRANSDNIESTER ARSENAL WILL
REACH KOSOVA. Presidential spokesman Anatol Golea said
on 29 March that President Petru Lucinschi believes
there is a danger the Russian army arsenal in the
Transdniester will be transferred to Kosova and used in
the conflict there, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported.
Lucinschi said he is "worried" about declarations made
by some Russian leaders backing Tiraspol, such as
Vladimir Zhirinovskii, who is trying to organize
volunteers for the Serbian side. He also expressed
concern about Tiraspol's declared readiness to allow
Russia to use its military airfield. In a 28 March
statement, Lucinschi said he feared an escalation of the
Kosova conflict. Moldova's own "tragic experience" shows
that each day fighting continues, a peaceful settlement
becomes more difficult, he said. MS

MOST BULGARIANS OPPOSE NATO STRIKES. Several opinion
polls published on 29 March show that most Bulgarians
oppose NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia, Reuters
reported. All the polls show that at least 50 percent of
the population sides with its Serbian neighbors. Support
for NATO ranges from 20-24 percent. In a poll conducted
by the Fact institute, 71 percent said they fear the
conflict will spread to Bulgarian territory. An Interior
Ministry official on 29 March said nearly 100 Kosova
Albanians have asked for refugee status so far. He said
security has been increased at the borders with
Yugoslavia and Macedonia in anticipation of a refugee
wave, AP reported. MS

END NOTE

THE KOSOVA CRISIS AND THE NATO HOPEFULS

By Michael Shafir

	An unexpected side effect of the Kosova crisis is
that NATO aspirants in Central and Eastern Europe now
have raised expectations that their admission to NATO
will be expedited.
	Slovakia is a case in point. When U.S. Secretary of
State Madeleine Albright told Hungarian television
earlier this month that Bratislava was "sadly" not yet
prepared for NATO membership (which the U.S. embassy in
Bratislava later clarified as referring to the country's
development under Vladimir Meciar's leadership), Foreign
Minster Eduard Kukan interpreted that statement as "an
appeal to Slovakia to proceed more resolutely ahead."
	That Bratislava intended to do just that was
demonstrated by, among other things, the decision to
cancel orders for the Russian S-300 anti-missile system,
which Moscow was to have supplied in part repayment for
its debt to Bratislava under a deal reached by Meciar.
Current Premier Mikulas Dzurinda explained that the deal
"would not reflect Slovakia's orientation toward the UN
and NATO." While that move was significant in itself,
the decision to allow NATO aircraft to over-fly Slovak
territory, including to carry out mid-air fueling, was
undoubtedly the most significant aimed at proving that
Bratislava was indeed "proceeding resolutely ahead."
	 The latter decision appears to have been taken in
the hope that in the midst of the Kosova crisis
Bratislava is drawing NATO's attention to the country's
importance for the alliance. As the daily "Sme" wrote
shortly after NATO air strikes began, Slovakia has been
generally perceived as of little strategic importance,
mainly because of its small size. "Sme," which is
thought to reflect to some extent government thinking,
believes the conflict may have changed that perception.
Two neutral countries in central Europe, Austria and
Switzerland, cannot allow over flights and mid-air
fueling without contravening their constitutions. This,
"Sme" says, suddenly revealed Slovakia's strategic
importance as the only possible corridor in central
Europe between NATO and the CIS as well as between
western or northwestern Europe and the southeastern
parts of the continent. And, according to "Sme," NATO is
unlikely to want to make such requests each time a
crisis requiring its intervention develops in those
regions.
	 Whether this argument will have any impact at the
NATO Washington summit next month is unclear. Most
alliance officials do not envisage further enlargement
in the immediate future, though some steps may be taken
to demonstrate that the "open doors" policy is not
merely a declaration of intent.
	But Slovakia is by no means alone in entertaining
such a hope. Closer to the conflict area, both Romania
and Bulgaria want to use the conflict to bolster their
long-standing argument that NATO currently has a
strategic "loophole" in a volatile area where they can
serve as "islands of stability." On the other hand, they
fear that the proximity of the conflict might find them
militarily involved without the benefit of membership.
Thus, while denying in the parliament that NATO planes
have already over-flown Bulgarian territory or that
Sofia has offered soldiers to fight on NATO's side,
Bulgarian Premier Ivan Kostov urged NATO to express
readiness at the Washington summit to admit Bulgaria as
a full member. A resolution adopted by Bulgarian
legislators after the air strikes began echoes that
call.
	Like Bulgaria, Romania is "hoping against hope"
that the crisis will help it overcome the obstacles to
membership, despite its financial crisis, which makes it
highly unlikely that it could meet the high costs of
membership. Romanian Deputy Foreign Minister Elena
Zamfirescu has even speculated that the Kosova crisis
might open doors in Washington that had seemed closed,
and the same thoughts were expressed by Ion Diaconescu,
leader of the main coalition National Peasant Party
Christian Democratic.
	Meanwhile, however, Slovakia and Bulgaria are
facing the problem of volunteers who want to enroll to
fight on the "other side" in the name of "Slavic
brotherhood." Reportedly, 430 such volunteers have
registered in Bulgaria, and some are already in Serbia.
In a bid to prevent a similar development among would-be
Slovak volunteers, the Slovak Defense Ministry has
announced that fighting for another country without
official permission is a punishable offense.
	In Romania, "orthodox brotherhood" triggered a
procession organized by the Orthodox Church (which,
however, has not openly taken any side in the conflict).
A prominent role in that procession was played by the
Students' League, which is allegedly pro-Western and
rightist in political outlook but rather fundamentalist
when it comes to facing alleged dangers posed by the
influence of Western Churches.
	Paradoxically, these young Romanians find
themselves on the same side as the groups of Slovak and
Bulgarian "volunteers," which are supposedly being
organized by pro-communist and pro-Russian forces. They
also find themselves on the same side as the Cossacks in
Moldova's separatist Transdniester region--a state of
affairs that they themselves would have considered
impossible, had it been proposed to them before the
Kosova crisis.
	In short, while some perceive the Kosova crisis as
an opportunity to achieve NATO membership quicker than
they had believed possible before the crisis and while
others would rather promote historical attachments,
there are also those who believe they can eat the cake
of NATO membership and preserve the traditional slice of
Slavic and Orthodox brotherhood.

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