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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 94, Part II, 14 May 1999
________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 94, Part II, 14 May 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 * CANDIDATE WITHDRAWS FROM BELARUS'S OPPOSITION PRESIDENTIAL POLLS * LARGEST NUMBER OF NATO RAIDS ON SERBIA TO DATE * ALBANIAN PARLIAMENT RECOGNIZES THACI GOVERNMENT End Note: RUGOVA AND THE KOSOVAR POWER STRUGGLE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE CANDIDATE WITHDRAWS FROM BELARUS'S OPPOSITION PRESIDENTIAL POLLS. Zyanon Paznyak, exiled leader of the Belarusian Popular Front (BNF), has withdrawn his candidacy from the opposition presidential elections in Belarus. He accused the Central Electoral Commission of violating the law by starting to collect ballots 10 days before election day, 16 May, and of falsifying the results. "The elections have been transformed into a criminal adventure, into a deception that draws comparison only with [President Alyaksandr] Lukashenka's referendums," Paznyak said in a statement issued on 13 May. RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported the same day that many BNF members of regional electoral commissions have ceased to take part in the polls. "[Paznyak's] action in the current situation is the best gift for Lukashenka," Central Electoral Commission head Viktar Hanchar commented. Voting, however, continues. Meanwhile, the other presidential candidate, former Premier Mikhail Chyhir, is currently detained in jail on charges of embezzlement. JM LUKASHENKA'S AIDE SAYS UNION WITH RUSSIA IN 'DEAD END.' Belarusian presidential aide Mikhail Sazonau told Reuters on 13 May that Russia's political and economic crisis is making the prospect of any unification with Russia increasingly unrealistic. "We have come to a dead end," Sazonau said, commenting on the formation of the new union-state announced last December. He said "Moscow made it very clear" that it will not change its constitution to create a single state with Belarus. Sazonau added that the dismissal of Russian Premier Yevgenii Primakov was also a blow to integration. In his opinion, the idea of the union-state will not be revived until after Russia's presidential elections in 2000. "The creation of a union-state promised us an economic breakthrough. But it turns out that we're hurrying toward a closed door," Sazonau said. JM LUKASHENKA 'CATEGORICALLY AGAINST' IMPEACHING YELTSIN. "I am categorically against the impeachment [of Russian President Boris Yeltsin]," Belarusian Television quoted Lukashenka as saying on 13 May. He added that Yeltsin's impeachment is "practically impossible" and that Russia should "normally live until parliamentary and subsequently presidential elections." Commenting on the consequences of Primakov's ouster, Lukashenka said there will be no "shocks" in Russia since the Russian people are in "awful apathy." In his opinion, Primakov was dismissed because "those who have been stealing in Russia" were unhappy about his holding the top government post. JM KUCHMA SAYS HE WILL SEEK SECOND TERM. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said at Lviv University on 13 May that he will seek a second term in the 31 October presidential elections. "I simply do not have the moral right to leave in the middle of the road everything that has been done in the last five years in Ukraine. A change of political leader in Ukraine is a change of political course and I do not have the right to allow that," Reuters quoted him as saying. Kuchma told the agency that Ukraine has to keep on with reforms. "To convince people of that is my task today, the task of my team and of all those willing to support me," he added. According to the presidential election schedule, the official registration of candidates in Ukraine begins on 14 May. JM LATVIA BANS FORMER KGB OFFICERS FROM POLICE FORCE. The parliament on 13 May voted to ban former KGB and other foreign security service staff from becoming members of the country's police force. At the same time, the law stipulates certain exceptions, allowing for such staff to be temporarily hired if their expertise is required. A law passed by the previous parliament prohibits KGB and other foreign security service personnel from holding public office. JC UNEMPLOYMENT IN LATVIA KEEPS INCHING UP. Unemployment in Latvia reached a new record high of 10.2 percent last month, ELTA reported on 13 May, citing data released by the Latvian Statistical Office. This represents an increase of 0.1 percent over March. Unemployment remains stable in Estonia, at 5.3 percent, while the number of jobless in Lithuania fell by 0.4 percent to 8.1 percent. JC PAKSAS ENJOYS SUPPORT OF PARLIAMENTARY PARTIES, SAYS PRESIDENT. Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus on 13 May presented his candidate for prime minister, Vilnius Mayor Rolandas Paksas, to the parliament. Following a meeting with the caucus heads, Adamkus told journalists that he was "pleased to find out that everyone [including the ruling Conservative Party] approves of [Paksas's] candidature," ELTA reported. Paksas, for his part, has urged cooperation between all parliamentary parties. A final vote on his candidacy is to be held next week. JC U.S. DEPORTS LITHUANIAN WAR CRIMES SUSPECT. Kazys Ciurinskas has been deported from the U.S. for concealing his war-time activities when he applied for a visa to enter the U.S. in 1949, BNS reported. According to the U.S. Justice Department's Special Investigations Office, the 81-year-old Ciurinskas, who was stripped of his U.S. citizenship in 1997, led a battalion that was involved in the mass killings of Jews and members of other ethnic groups during the Nazi occupation. The Lithuanian Prosecutor-General's Office says that it has been collecting information on Ciurinskas for some two years but has insufficient evidence to launch criminal proceedings against him. JC DUTCH PREMIER REASSURES POLAND ON EU ENTRY DATE. Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok said in Warsaw on 12 May that The Netherlands will do everything possible to enable Poland to join the EU by 2003, as desired by the Polish government, PAP reported. Kok praised cooperation with Poland, saying that Poland is his country's best partner outside the EU. JM WORLD BANK INVITED TO STUDY CORRUPTION IN POLAND. Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Leszek Balcerowicz has sent a letter to the World Bank asking for help in rooting out corruption, PAP reported on 13 May. "I would like to invite the bank to carry out corruption surveys in Poland, covering the household and business sectors, with particular focus on possible corruption in the public sector," Balcerowicz wrote. Balcerowicz pointed out that the World Bank has carried out similar surveys in Albania, Georgia, and Latvia. According to a recent Interior Ministry report, corruption has worsened in the decade since the end of communism in Poland. JM POLAND'S GDP GROWS 4.8 PERCENT in 1998. The Main Statistical Office reported on 13 May that Poland's GDP grew by 4.8 percent last year, compared with 1997, to total 551.1 billion zlotys ($158.3 billion, according to the 1998 average annual exchange rate), or $4,096 per capita. "Rzeczpospolita" reported that per capita GDP in the EU last year was $21,600. JM REACTION TO CABINET'S DECISION ON TEMELIN. Despite the Czech cabinet's decision to complete the construction of the Temelin nuclear power plant by 2001, various groups have said they will continue to oppose it, Czech media reported on 14 May. Radko Pavlovec, Austria's commissioner for nuclear facilities, said his government will do everything in its power to prevent the future export of energy from Temelin. Meanwhile, European Parliament deputy Marialiese Flemming from Austria said the EU's legislature will send a delegation to discuss the issue with Czech President Vaclav Havel, "Pravo" reported. Jakub Patocka of the Czech environmentalist organization Hnuti Duha said his group will try to delay the construction and render it more expensive by using the law on assessing environmental impact at every step of the construction process. Nevertheless, the deputy chairman of CEZ, the main investor in Temelin, said the plant will be completed on time, "Mlada fronta Dnes" reported on 14 May. VG SLOVAK DEPUTIES APPEAL TO CONSTITUTIONAL COURT. A group of deputies from the Slovak governing coalition on 13 May asked the Constitutional Court to provide an interpretation of Article 102 of the constitution, which deals with presidential amnesties, TASR reported. The deputies made the request in response to former Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's decision to prevent or cancel all criminal proceedings related to the scuttled referendum on NATO membership and presidential elections in 1997 as well as to the 1995 abduction of former President Michal Kovac's son. Meciar was exercising presidential powers at the time. The court has already accepted a request by 37 deputies from the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia for an interpretation of the same article with regard to Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda's cancellation of those amnesties. VG VISEGRAD FOUR MEETING IN BRATISLAVA. The prime ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary gathered in Bratislava on 14 May in an attempt to revitalize the regional Visegrad Four group, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. The Visegrad group was established eight years ago to facilitate regional cooperation, but Slovakia's participation deteriorated under former Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar. Current Slovak Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda hailed the summit meeting as a renewal of good political and regional cooperation between his country and the rest of the region. The one-day summit will focus on EU and NATO integration in the region, joint economic policies, cross-border transport and telecommunication projects, efforts to reduce organized crime and illegal migration as well as the Kosova conflict. VG CORRECTION: "RFE/RL Newsline" incorrectly reported on 13 May that Slovak presidential candidate Rudolf Schuster is the former mayor of Kosice. In fact, Schuster is the current mayor of Kosice. HUNGARIAN EXTREMIST PARTY NOT WANTED AT UDMR CONGRESS. Csaba Takacs, the executive chairman of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR), has asked the far-right Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIEP) to disregard an earlier invitation to the UDMR's forthcoming congress, Hungarian media reported on 13 May. Takacs told MIEP chairman Istvan Csurka that the presence of an MIEP delegation at the congress would be damaging owing to Csurka's recent remarks on the status of the Yugoslav province of Vojvodina. Csurka had said that the only way to secure the ethnic Hungarian minority's existence in Vojvodina would be to give the province to Hungary. "Such a border readjustment is so trifling that it would not cause even as much damage to Yugoslavia as one night of NATO bombing," Csurka concluded. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE LARGEST NUMBER OF NATO RAIDS ON SERBIA TO DATE. The Atlantic alliance said in a statement in Brussels on 14 May that "NATO has continued its intensive campaign against Serbian forces [in Kosova], with the highest overall sortie rate in a 24-hour period of the campaign so far, with 679 sorties completed." Targets included tanks, other military vehicles, artillery, and ground troops, particularly in the Prizren and Shtima areas. Reuters noted that the statement did not specify whether all the sorties involved strikes. Two support aircraft usually accompany each plane carrying out an attack. PM NATO SKEPTICAL ABOUT SERBIAN WITHDRAWAL CLAIMS. A Serbian army officer said in Prishtina on 13 May that a "large number" of soldiers have begun withdrawing from Kosova. Western journalists reported seeing about 120 troops in a convoy of busses, which the officer said were en route to central Serbia. In Brussels, NATO spokesmen said that the withdrawal is insignificant and possibly a sham. Jamie Shea argued that "it's the easiest thing in the world to put a few tanks on the border, invite a TV crew and say `look, I'm withdrawing,' and as soon as the TV crew goes back to Belgrade, the tanks just go back over the border" into Kosova. In Athens, Yugoslav Defense Minister Pavle Bulatovic told journalists that the withdrawal is "proof" that NATO has failed to destroy Serbia's military might, asking "if they have destroyed it, then what is it that we are withdrawing?" PM REFUGEES: POLICE PRESENCE REMAINS STRONG. At Blace, Macedonia, newly arrived refugees said on 13 May that the paramilitary police presence remains large in Kosova and that Serbian shopkeepers refuse to sell food to ethnic Albanians, AP reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 April 1999). One refugee added that Serbian forces have "raided food stocks" belonging to the Mother Teresa ethnic Albanian charitable foundation in unspecified places in Kosova. PM NIS MAYOR: MILOSEVIC MUST OUTLINE PLANS. Zoran Zivkovic, who is mayor of Nis and a member of the opposition Democratic Party of Zoran Djindjic, said on 13 May that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic should "proclaim what is our plan [for Kosova and make public] a list of costs in lives and time" that he is prepared to pay in order to keep control of the province. Meanwhile in Brussels, Shea suggested that Milosevic's recent public admission that Serbian forces have had "many" casualties is "significant" and indicates that Milosevic is "realizing that his army is being melted away" by NATO air strikes (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 May 1999). Supreme Allied Commander General Wesley Clark added that Milosevic has recently made a series of gestures-- including freeing three U.S. soldiers and allowing Kosovar leader Ibrahim Rugova to leave Yugoslavia-- because "he's losing and he knows it." PM U.K. STRESSES NEED TO 'STOP' MILOSEVIC. Prime Minister Tony Blair said in Aachen, Germany on 13 May that Milosevic is "determined to wipe a people from the face of his country. We are determined to stop him. And we will." In London, Foreign Secretary Robin Cook noted that "the last two days of [air strikes] have been the most successful [against Serbia] to date." Admiral Sir Ian Garnett, who is Britain's chief of joint operations, said that Serbian troops "show no sign of withdrawing" from Kosova, Reuters reported. He added that the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) is "tenaciously holding out in small pockets" throughout Kosova. Garnett also noted that "Milosevic's troops are showing an increasing tendency to loot and burn their way around the country." PM MILOSEVIC SNUBS ROBINSON. Mary Robinson, who is the UN's high commissioner for human rights, said in Belgrade on 13 May that "despite my requests, it has not been possible to have a direct meeting with President Milosevic. I was very anxious to meet him, because I have had direct witness myself of the human rights violations suffered by a large number of [ethnic] Albanians." In Bonn, German television journalist Pit Schnitzler said that his Serbian captors interrogated and beat him daily during his imprisonment from mid- April until 11 May as a suspected spy. In Canberra, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said on 14 May that the Serbian authorities have formally charged two Australian aid workers, Steve Pratt and Peter Wallace, with espionage. The Australian government and CARE, which employs the two, have denied the charges. PM DJUKANOVIC HAILS NATO AIMS, NOT MEANS. Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic said in Vienna after meeting with Chancellor Viktor Klima on 13 May that he supports NATO's basic aims against Belgrade but does not favor bombing. Djukanovic stressed that the best way to remove Milosevic from the scene is through new elections in Serbia. Austrian Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schuessel had planned to meet Djukanovic in Montenegro, but the Montenegrin authorities recently cancelled the meeting "on security grounds" after "the Serbs had gotten wind" of Schuessel's visit, "Die Presse" reported. PM SWISS-GREEK-RUSSIAN CONVOY ARRIVES IN PRISHTINA. The first Swiss-Greek-Russian humanitarian aid convoy arrived in Prishtina on 13 May, nearly one month after the Swiss government launched a joint aid initiative that includes Russia and Greece. The five trucks carried food and medicine, AP reported. It was unclear whether and how the relief supplies will reach displaced persons inside Kosova. As part of the joint initiative, the first patients received treatment in a mobile hospital staffed by 43 Russian doctors in Prokuple, near Nis, ITAR-TASS reported. Russia's Emergency Ministry has donated the hospital to treat victims of NATO bombings. In Moscow, Russian and Greek officials suggested the setting up of several "humanitarian zones" in various parts of Yugoslavia, in which international relief workers can work at a safe distance from military operations. Meanwhile, the Iranian government held a "solidarity day with the Muslims of Kosova," collecting donations throughout the country for Kosovar refugees, Reuters reported. FS UNHCR COMPLAINS ABOUT LACK OF ALBANIAN REFUGEE COORDINATION. Ray Wilkinson, spokesman of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Tirana, said on 13 May that only 3,300 refugees from Kukes have agreed to leave the northern city for new refugee camps in central and southern Albania. He added that "this is not an overwhelming response," Reuters reported. Wilkinson said that nobody is providing the various aid agencies with information about the new camps, which have been built by NATO troops. Nor, he said, is any central authority coordinating the evacuation efforts. Wilkinson stressed that the UNHCR is "not informed of many bilateral agreements between various [national] armies." The previous day, another 4,000 refugees arrived in Kukes from central Kosova. About 100,000 out of the estimated 430,000 refugees in Albania are currently in that town. FS ALBANIAN PARLIAMENT RECOGNIZES THACI GOVERNMENT... The Albanian parliament on 12 May adopted a resolution recognizing the provisional government of Hashim Thaci, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Tirana the following day. Presidential adviser Mentor Nazarko told RFE/RL that "the provisional government is a temporary institution, created on the basis of an agreement between the main leaders in the military, civil, and political life of Kosova." He added that "the [Kosovars] must regain the same level of unity that they had at the Rambouillet talks." Bilal Sherifi, an official of the provisional government, told RFE/RL that "the Albanian government has recognized the legitimacy of the UCK...and the political agreement between [all Albanian representatives] at the Rambouillet talks on the creation of a provisional government." He added that the previous shadow-state structures have "ceased to function in Kosova...and its people were left without a political leadership." FS ...WHILE OPPOSITION CRITICIZES THAT MOVE. Opposition leader Sali Berisha, speaking to RFE/RL on 13 May, criticized the recognition of the provisional government. He argued that the parliament's resolution rejects the legitimacy of the elected shadow-state government of Bujar Bukoshi and its institutions. He also pointed out that the resolution does not refer to Ibrahim Rugova as "president of Kosova." Berisha called on Rugova, Bukoshi, and the shadow-state legislators to declare the resolution invalid. He added that the resolution serves "pro-Serbian" interests and is "anti- Albanian" because it will reinforce the political division of the Kosovars into UCK and shadow-state groups. FS ROMANIA ALLOWS VOA BROADCASTS TO YUGOSLAVIA. The Romanian government has authorized the country's National Radio Communications Company to rebroadcast Serbian-language Voice of America programs to Yugoslavia, Reuters, reported on 13 May. The decision came in response to a request from the U.S. Congress. VOA will use its own equipment for the 24-hour broadcasts, which will cover the entire territory of Yugoslavia. In other news, opposition representatives described the government's decision to link a package of reform bills to a confidence vote as unconstitutional, Rompres reported on 12 May. However, Petre Roman of the Democratic Party said there is no need to make an appeal to the Constitutional Court on the issue. The government is expected to survive any vote of confidence in the legislature. VG MOLDOVAN COURT SAYS SNEGUR VIOLATED CONSTITUTION. The Moldovan Constitutional Court ruled on 10 May that former President Mircea Snegur violated four articles of the constitution when he appointed the acting mayor of Chisinau and four deputies, BASA-Press reported on 13 May. The court said mayors and local councilors must be elected. Snegur made the appointments in 1995 after two consecutive rounds of elections failed to register the required turnout. Local elections are scheduled in Moldova for 23 May. Meanwhile, Snegur criticized President Petru Lucinschi's recent cabinet appointments (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 May 1999), saying the head of state should have consulted the parliament on the changes, even though the law does not require him to do so, Infotag reported on 13 May. In other news, the IMF announced that it is ready to provide Moldova with a credit line of $70 million before the end of the year, Infotag reported on 13 May. The first disbursement of funds is expected to take place in August. VG BULGARIA SENDS TANKS TO MACEDONIA. Bulgaria has given 31 tanks and 18 artillery pieces to Macedonia as a gift, BTA reported on 12 May. Experts said the tanks were repaired and fully equipped. Bulgarian Defense Minister Georgi Ananiev and his Macedonian counterpart, Nikola Kljusev, will attend a handing-over ceremony at Giueshevo, located on their common border, on 14 May, the Sofia daily "Standart" reported the previous day. Meanwhile, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mikhailova met with British Defense Secretary George Robertson on 12 May to discuss the Kosova conflict as well as the planned post-conflict reconstruction effort for the Balkan region as a whole, BTA reported. In other news, the editor in chief of the daily "Noshten Trud" resigned after an interview with Croatian President Franjo Tudjman published in the newspaper proved to be false, AP reported on 13 May. In that interview, which appeared in the newspaper on 26 April, Tudjman allegedly said that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is a "real chauvinist" who traded "Serbs like cattle." VG END NOTE RUGOVA AND THE KOSOVAR POWER STRUGGLE by Fabian Schmidt Following more than a month of apparent captivity in Serbia, Kosovar leader Ibrahim Rugova arrived in Rome last week amid a power struggle in Kosova. Kosovar politicians know that they have to build an efficient administration quickly in order to win the war and plan for the future, but past rivalries prevent them from forging unity. The Kosovars were at their most united in March, when a broad- based delegation signed the Rambouillet agreement. That document offered the vision of peace under NATO protection and the prospect of democratic development based on the rule of law--a prospect that had never before seemed so close at hand. In early 1990, the Kosovars had responded to then Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's abolition of their autonomy the previous year by creating a multi- party shadow-state, which was dominated by Rugova's Democratic League of Kosova (LDK). In 1991, the shadow- state organized a referendum on independence, which passed by an overwhelming majority; and the following year, it held underground parliamentary and presidential elections. The LDK won that ballot and Rugova was elected president. The shadow-state's legislature appointed a government led by Bujar Bukoshi, who developed the shadow-state's school and health systems through financial contributions from the Albanian Diaspora. But despite much international sympathy for Rugova's non-violent political strategy, the shadow- state failed to gain international recognition. The Kosovars were left out of the frequent international conferences on the former Yugoslavia, and many ethnic Albanians came to the conclusion that the international community only rewarded those who made war. When the Dayton agreement ended the Bosnian war in 1995 and gave the Serbs their own para-state, many Kosovars saw that belief as confirmed. In early 1996, the activities of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) first came to public notice. But despite widespread Serbian repression, the UCK did not begin to receive broader popular support until Serbian forces began conducting massacres of civilians in several villages in February 1998. By the summer, Serbian police had driven some 200,000 ethnic Albanians from their homes, some 98,000 of whom fled Kosova. The UCK gained in strength, and the shadow-state politicians had to recognize it as one of Kosova's key players. It also increasingly received attention from the international community, as demonstrated by a well-publicized meeting of U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke with UCK leaders in a Kosovar village in mid-June. The guerrillas' importance received another boost when Serbian forces launched "Operation Horseshoe" in January of this year and drove about 175,000 people out of their homes, some 75,000 of whom fled Kosova. As a consequence, the UCK became the only force on which Kosovar civilians could hope to rely for protection. The guerrillas' new importance was reflected at the Rambouillet talks, where the Kosovar delegation included Rugova and other LDK representatives but was led by UCK leader Hashim Thaci. That unity proved short-lived, however. Even during the Rambouillet talks, now Yugoslav President Milosevic began his final "ethnic cleansing" campaign as part of "Operation Horseshoe." Anything left of Rugova's shadow- state collapsed in the process. On 31 March, less than a week after the beginning of NATO air strikes, Serbian forces captured Rugova and his family in their house and prevented them from establishing any direct contact with the outside world. In the ensuing weeks, Thaci and other Rambouillet participants created a provisional government that has close links with the UCK, which had set up bases in Albania and remains the only Kosovar institution still operating inside Kosova. Meanwhile, Milosevic used Rugova for several appearances serving propagandist goals, including at a meeting with Russian Patriarch Aleksii II. The Serbian daily "Politika" on 29 April published a declaration allegedly signed by Rugova and Serbian Premier Milan Milutinovic. The text called for direct talks between the Serbian government and Kosovar leaders, leading to wide-ranging autonomy and respect for the territorial integrity of Serbia. The declaration said that in these talks, representatives of the international community may take part only as "guests." Meanwhile, tensions between Bukoshi and Thaci grew. The provisional government demanded that Bukoshi accept its legitimacy, which, in practice, would have obliged him to surrender most of the shadow-state's funds to the UCK. But Bukoshi's sympathizers refused to give in. They pointed out that they also have a guerrilla organization, albeit smaller than the UCK, known as the Armed Forces of the Republic of Kosova (FARK). An attempt in early May by Albanian Prime Minister Pandeli Majko to bring the rivals to the negotiating table failed because of the two sides' refusals to recognize each other. Meanwhile, the UCK's news agency Kosovapress has banned the Swiss-Albanian daily "Bota Sot" from using its news items. The UCK argues that the daily, which is close to Bukoshi, is making a profit by living from news that the UCK's journalists gather under the constant threat of death. Rugova is now at the center of the strife. He has so far failed to explain what happened to him in Serbian captivity and to say whether the declaration in "Politika" is authentic. He has also failed to state unequivocally which of the two rival Kosovar governments he supports. The Albanian parliament's 12 May decision to recognize Thaci's provisional government will increase the pressure on Rugova to make peace with the UCK, which now holds the balance of power among the Kosovars. It will not be an easy task. And the longer he maintains silence on key questions, the more difficult it will become. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc. 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