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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 101, Part II, 25 May 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 101, Part II, 25 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

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Headlines, Part II

* BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION DEMANDS RELEASE OF FORMER
PREMIER

* SERBIAN POLICE ARREST ANTI-WAR PROTESTERS

* SERBS SHELL UCK SUPPLY ROUTEIN ALBANIA

End Note: NEW ARMS AGREEMENT AIMS TO EASE RUSSIAN FEARS
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION DEMANDS RELEASE OF FORMER
PREMIER... Some 1,000 people rallied in the Belarusian
capital on 24 May to demand the release of former Prime
Minister Mikhail Chyhir and "all political opponents of
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka," Interfax
reported. The Belarusian opposition believes that Chyhir
was arrested on trumped-up charges. He was taken into
custody after he had registered as a candidate in the
unauthorized presidential elections. Meanwhile,
Prosecutor-General Aleh Bazhelka recently said that in
his former capacity as bank head, Chyhir is suspected of
having issued not only a "dubious $1 million credit to a
Canadian firm but also unjustifiable credits to various
limited liability companies," RFE/RL's Belarusian
service reported on 24 May. JM

...APPRAISES SHADOW PRESIDENTIAL POLL. The opposition
Supreme Soviet Presidium devoted its 24 May session to
assessing the alternative Belarusian presidential poll,
RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. According to the
presidium, the shadow elections showed that Belarusians
are against Lukashenka's staying in power until 2001, as
stipulated by the basic law adopted in the 1996
controversial referendum. JM

CRIMEAN TATARS END PROTEST IN SIMFEROPOL. Crimean Tatars
on 24 May dismantled a tent camp outside the Crimean
government building after Crimean Premier Serhiy
Kunitsyn had promised that the government will meet some
of their key demands, Interfax reported. Tatar leader
Mustafa Dzhemilev told the agency that the protesters'
main achievement was to obtain permission to set up a
council to represent Crimean Tatars' interests in the
Crimean government. Kunitsyn also gave permission to
Tatar repatriates in the peninsula to own land and open
their own schools. "What was do-able within the
framework of the [Crimean government] has been done,"
Dzhemilev commented. JM

METHANE BLAST IN DONETSK KILLS 39 MINERS. A methane gas
explosion in the Zasyadko mine in Donetsk on 24 May
killed 39 miners, AP reported. Forty-eight miners were
hospitalized with burns and suffering from trauma. Last
year in April, a methane gas explosion in the nearby
Skochinskyy mine killed 63. Ukrainian President Leonid
Kuchma declared 25 May a day of national mourning.
According to official data, a total of 358 Ukrainian
miners lost their lives in mining accidents in 1998,
while the figure for this year, before the 24 May blast
in Donetsk, is 80. JM

ESTONIAN PRESIDENT IN GREECE. At the beginning of his
state visit to Greece on 24 May, Lennart Meri met with
his Greek counterpart, Konstantinos Stephanopoulos, to
discuss, among other issues, EU and NATO enlargement,
ETA reported. Greek and Estonian officials signed
agreements on maritime transport, culture, and tourism.
Later the same day, Meri officially opened a consulate
in the port city of Piraeus. MH

ESTONIAN SPECIAL GROUP COMMAND CONSIDERED SOUND.
Estonian Defense Forces Chief-of-Staff Ants Laaneots has
submitted documents on the Special Operations Group
(SOG) that detail the chain of command. In his
presentation to the parliamentary National Defense
Committee on 24 May, Laaneots described the status,
operations, and structure of the elite unit. The
submitted documents list the activities of the SOG as
training military police, guarding military VIPs,
participating in special military police and rescue
operations, but the SOG can also be assigned other
"special tasks," according to "Postimees." Committee
Chairman Tiit Tammsalu said that "on paper, the
management is in order," but with regard to the group's
functions and status, he noted it is unknown "how some
intertwine," "Eesti Paevaleht" reported. MH

CHARGES FILED AGAINST LATVIAN FORMER MILITARY HEAD. The
Prosecutor-General's Office has filed charges of abuse
of power against Juris Eihmanis, the former head of the
Latvian military. The charges stem from the use of
43,000 lats ($73,000) earmarked for the Home Guards to
refurbish an apartment in Riga. The former commander
denies the charge. If convicted, he could face up to 10
years in prison. Eihmanis currently holds a position at
the Baltic Defense College in Tartu, Estonia, according
to LETA. MH

VAN DER STOEL IN LATVIA. OSCE High Commissioner on
National Minorities Max van der Stoel is in Latvia to
assess the debate over the draft language law. In
discussions with the parliamentary Education Committee,
Van der Stoel noted that the language law must conform
with international norms. Committee chairman Dzintars
Abikis said the OSCE recommendations were "narrowed,"
LETA reported. The OSCE's chief concern is the bill's
regulation of language use in the private sector,
according to BNS. MH

LITHUANIA'S MAZEIKIAI OIL REFINERY SHUTS DOWN. The
Mazeikiai Oil Refinery shut down completely on 24 May
owing to a lack of crude from Russia, BNS reported.
Company officials stated that the shutdown, which began
on 21 May, will cost 300,000 litas ($75,000) a day.
Russian oil transit authorities said domestic shortages
are the cause of the crude shipment stoppage.
Parliamentary Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis speculated
that the stoppage is a political decision by the Russian
government. MH

FIRST QUESTIONABLE LUSTRATION STATEMENTS TO BE EXAMINED
IN POLAND. The Lustration Court has decided to launch
lustration proceedings against four public figures whose
lustration statements have been questioned by Lustration
Prosecutor Boguslaw Nizienski, Polish media reported.
The first officials to undergo lustration are a Peasant
Party (PSL) deputy, a Democratic Left Alliance (SLD)
senator, and two lawyers. SLD spokesman Andrzej
Urbanczyk noted that the four people "represent" the
former SLD-PSL coalition, adding that he does not
believe that this is a coincidence. According to Bogdan
Pek of the PSL, any parliamentary caucus can have
"problems" with lustration. In his opinion, the
lustration process has been carried out correctly. JM

POLISH MINERS CONTINUE PROTEST OVER RESTRUCTURING PLAN.
Some 50 miners on 24 May occupied the Labor Industry
building to protest social benefit packages included in
Poland's coal mining restructuring plan (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 24 May 1999). Another group is blocking
access to the Finance Ministry. "We are prepared even
for a one-month blockade," "Gazeta Wyborcza" quoted
miners as saying. Solidarity leader Marian Krzaklewski
said the protest should be suspended and the government
should start negotiations as soon as possible. He added
that even though the money for severance payments to
laid-off miners has been used up, the government could
find other funds for that purpose. JM

CZECH LABOR, INDUSTRY LEADERS CRITICIZE GOVERNMENT.
Czech labor and industry leaders on 24 May said the
government is not doing enough to deal with the current
economic crisis, Czech media reported. Both labor leader
Richard Falbr and industry representative Stepan Popovic
called on the government to pass a law on insolvencies
and create the proper conditions for economic
development. Prime Minister Milos Zeman said the two
representatives should engage in tri-partite discussions
involving the government, rather than making "cheap
appeals," "Hospodarske noviny" reported on 25 May. The
meeting between Falbr and Popovic came as some 800
workers at the CKD plant, who are on leave without pay
because of the plant's financial problems, demonstrated
outside company headquarters. Falbr warned that a "hot
autumn" lies ahead for the Czech Republic as more and
more companies can be expected to get into financial
trouble. VG

SCHUSTER LEADS MECIAR IN SLOVAK POLLS. The latest poll
on the Slovak presidential elections found that 55.9
percent of respondents support Kosice Mayor Rudolf
Schuster, while 39.6 percent say they will vote for
former Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar in the second
round of voting, scheduled for 29 May, TASR reported on
25 May. The poll was conducted from 21-24 May by the
Institute of Public Opinion. In other news, Slovak
Interior Minister Ladislav Pittner and his Czech
counterpart, Vaclav Grulich, signed an agreement in
Bratislava on 24 May on easing customs controls for
Czech and Slovak citizens, TASR reported. VG

HUNGARIAN STATE SECRETARY INVOLVED IN LETTER SCANDAL
DIES. FIDESZ parliamentary deputy Bela Gyuricza, one of
the three state secretaries who had signed a letter
lobbying for the appointment of the next U.S. ambassador
to Hungary (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 May 1999), died in
hospital on 24 May after weeks of treatment. Gyuricza,
aged 60, headed the security and defense secretariat of
the Prime Minister's Office. Several FIDESZ members
confirmed that they had signed the letter at Gyuricza's
request. In other news, Spanish Foreign Minister Abel
Matutes told his visiting Hungarian counterpart, Janos
Martonyi, that Hungary's aspirations to join the EU are
"all the more justified as Hungary has made the best
progress of all countries seeking admission," Hungarian
media reported on 24 May. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SERBIAN POLICE ARREST ANTI-WAR PROTESTERS. Police in
Cacak arrested at least four members of the self-
proclaimed Citizens' Parliament on 24 May and took them
to police headquarters for an "informative
conversation," which is the official term in Serbia for
an interrogation. The four have been charged with taking
part in an "illegal meeting," Reuters reported. Cacak
Mayor Velimir Ilic has gone into hiding and is being
sought by the police. In Krusevac, where anti-war
protests have also taken place in recent days, tension
remains high, "The Guardian" noted. Police there have
refrained from breaking up demonstrations and arresting
protesters "for fear of igniting a bigger revolt," the
London-based daily added. "The New York Times" quoted
one resident of Aleksandrovac as saying: "This is not a
political protest. It is simply people who are trying to
save their necks." PM

MORE SERBIAN TROOPS SENT TO KOSOVA. NATO officials said
in Brussels and Washington on 24 May that the Yugoslav
army has sent 10,000 additional troops into Kosova since
NATO air strikes began in late March. The officials
added that Belgrade may be seeking to improve its
defensive position should NATO ground troops invade
Kosova or to strengthen its negotiating position during
eventual peace talks. In Washington, State Department
spokesman James Rubin noted that Serbian forces are
increasingly taking up stationary positions. Major-
General Charles Wald, whom AP describes as a "senior
U.S. military planner," noted that stationary troops
cannot easily battle a guerrilla force such as the
Kosova Liberation Army (UCK). He added that the Serbian
forces "don't have good places to go to sleep. They're
living in the field." PM

SERBS SHELL UCK SUPPLY ROUTE IN ALBANIA. Serbian forces
fired about 50 artillery shells into Albanian territory
near Tropoja on 24 May in an apparent attempt to close a
supply corridor used by the UCK. The route links Tropoja
with the UCK-held Kosovar village of Koshare, which
overlooks the plains of Junik and Decani. Elsewhere,
Kosovapress reported that the UCK was involved in heavy
fighting around Junik. In Tirana, Albanian Defense
Minister Luan Hajdaraga said the Albanian army has begun
reinforcing its borders with tanks and heavy weapons. FS

NATO SPEEDS UP KUKES EVACUATIONS. NATO forces began
evacuating some 30,000 refugees from camps in Kukes on
24 May. NATO spokesman Helge Eriksen said that the
Atlantic alliance plans to move out up to 1,000 refugees
a day. Meanwhile, 1,239 refugees have arrived in Albania
via the Morina border crossing. Most were women and
children who had been walking for days, but the arrivals
also included 164 men whom Serbian forces had held
hostage at the prison in Smrekonica, a spokesman for the
UN High Commissioner for Refugees told Reuters in Kukes
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 May 1999). He said some of
the men who arrived that day were in "appalling"
condition, with black eyes, damaged ribs, and injured
feet as a result of what they said were beatings with
rifle butts. FS

KOSOVA'S QOSJA URGES UNITY. Rexhep Qosja, who is a
nationalist writer and leader of the United Democratic
Movement of Kosova, told RFE/RL on 24 May that he
welcomes the creation of a Kosovar "National Security
Council" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 May 1999). He said
that the body "will not sideline the provisional
government" of UCK leader Hashim Thaci as Kosova's
executive body. He added that the council will function
as a legislature and "thus give us the possibility to
flesh out our institutional structures until we hold
free elections." He stressed that all organizations
represented in the Kosovar delegation at Rambouillet
must have a place in the council. Qosja suggested that
the council be open to other Kosovar organizations as
well. He urged all rival Kosovar politicians to bury
their differences, saying that: "I call upon everybody
to meet, talk and agree. Our people demand that we stay
together. Kosova has many big problems to solve." FS

BELGRADE: NATO HAS 'NO MORAL RIGHT' IN KOSOVA. Vladislav
Jovanovic, who is Yugoslavia's representative to the UN,
said in New York on 24 May that NATO countries have
discredited themselves "both morally and politically in
the eyes of the whole international community" by
carrying out air strikes against Yugoslav targets. He
added that NATO countries will not have "the necessary
moral authority" to participate in any peacekeeping
operations in the foreseeable future, AP reported.
Jovanovic stressed that "it would be really unthinkable
for one sovereign country to allow its own destroyers to
play the role of peacemakers or peacekeepers." PM

UN REPORT DETAILS SERBIAN RAPE PRACTICES. French
psychologist Dominique Serrano-Fitamant has completed a
report for the UN Population Fund on the "extensive
rapes" of Kosovar women from at least three villages at
the hands of Serbian forces, Reuters reported from New
York on 24 May. She noted that many of the women were
beaten and that the rapes lasted "even for days." The
Serbs systematically killed many of their victims,
Serrano-Fitamant noted, adding that "any resistance is
met with threats of being burned alive." She said that
some women told her that they could identify their
torturers as followers of "a certain well-known leader."
She did not elaborate. Serrano-Fitamant wrote that some
of the torturers cut off the ears and noses of young
boys before slitting their throats. She also noted: "The
torturers sharpened their knives in front of the women.
They then cut open the stomachs of many pregnant women
and skewed the fetus on their blades." PM

U.S. SENATE PASSES RESOLUTION ON WAR CRIMES. The Senate
on 24 May approved a text calling for the "vigorous
prosecution" of war crimes. Supporters of the resolution
stressed that war criminals must be punished even if
they are high-ranking Serbian officials. The text's
backers added that the international community must not
conclude any agreement with Yugoslav President Slobodan
Milosevic that would grant him immunity from prosecution
for war crimes. PM

YUGOSLAV ARMY WARNS MONTENEGRIN AUTHORITIES. The command
of the Yugoslav armed forces stationed in Montenegro
issued a statement accusing the Montenegrin authorities
and media of making "baseless and malicious attacks" on
the army, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 24
May (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 May 1999). The text added
that the military stationed in Montenegro are carrying
out their duties "in a professional manner...under
wartime conditions." PM

SLOVENIA READY FOR 'STABILIZATION PACT.' A government
spokesman said in Ljubljana on 24 May that Slovenia is
ready to participate in the international community's
proposed "stabilization pact" for southeastern Europe
once the Kosova crisis is over. The spokesman stressed,
however, that Slovenia's role will not be that of an aid
recipient but that of a provider of advice and economic
assistance, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

LOW PARTICIPATION IN ROMANIAN GENERAL STRIKE. Fewer
union members than had been expected took part in a 24-
hour work stoppage in Romania on 24 May. Union leader
Pavel Tudoran said the turnout had been "below
expectations" and that the impact on public services had
been limited, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. In other
news, the fifth round of talks between Ukraine and
Romania on border issues, which was scheduled to begin
on 24 May, has been postponed at the request of the
Romanian side, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 May. VG

ROMANIAN PRIME MINISTER VISITS MOLDOVA. Radu Vasile on
24 May called on international organizations to include
Moldova in any regional reconstruction effort following
the resolution of the Kosova conflict. Vasile, who is on
a two-day visit to Moldova, said his country has agreed
to increase electricity supplies to Moldova and to open
a new border crossing between the two countries at
Costesti, according to a 24 May Romanian Radio report
cited by the BBC. Vasile and his Moldovan counterpart,
Ion Sturza, agreed to hold regular meetings in the
future. The Romanian leader praised Moldova's "clear and
categorical" openness to European values. VG

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT SATISFIED WITH REFERENDUM. Petru
Lucinschi is satisfied with the results of the non-
binding referendum on expanding presidential powers,
despite the low turnout, his spokesman Anatol Golea told
Infotag on 24 May. With just 55 percent of voters taking
part, the referendum was short of the 60 percent
required to be considered valid. Nevertheless, Golea
said that some 60 percent of those who cast ballots
supported Lucinschi's initiative to increase
presidential powers. He refused to comment on the fact
that 20 percent of the ballots cast in the referendum
had been declared invalid. Another 20 percent voted
against Lucinschi's initiative. Golea said the president
would use this "clear signal" of support to press on
with reform. He said a constitutional commission will be
set up to draft a law on amending the constitution. And
he did not rule out the possibility of a second
referendum on the proposed constitutional changes in the
fall. VG

MOLDOVAN LOCAL ELECTIONS REQUIRE SECOND ROUND IN MANY
MUNICIPALITIES. Many of the municipal and regional
elections that took place in Moldova on 23 May will have
to be repeated because no candidate won the necessary 50
percent of the vote, an RFE/RL correspondent reported on
24 May. In the capital, Chisinau, acting Mayor Serafim
Urecheanu won 47 percent of the vote, compared with 24
percent for Communist candidate Vasili Ivov, BASA-Press
reported on 24 May. The two candidates will face each
other in a runoff. The Interior Ministry reported that
the elections took place without any major violations of
the electoral law. However, a Council of Europe
observation group noted that uniformed police were
present in many voting areas and that a "great number"
of ballots were declared illegal, BASA-Press reported.
VG

BULGARIAN, MACEDONIAN PRIME MINISTERS MEET AT ST.
CYRIL'S GRAVE. Bulgarian Prime Minister Ivan Kostov and
his Macedonian counterpart, Ljubco Georgievski, jointly
attended a ceremony at the grave of St. Cyril in Rome on
24 May to mark the Day of Slavic Letters, according to a
BTA report cited by the BBC. Kostov described the
meeting as "historic" since it was the first time that
leaders from Bulgaria and Macedonia had attended a joint
ceremony on the holiday, which is recognized in both
countries. In previous years, delegations from the two
countries had kept apart. Kostov added that it would
have been "ridiculous" for the two sides to continue
past arguments in the face of the current conflict in
the Balkans. Georgievski said the ceremony would promote
friendship between the two countries. VG

END NOTE

NEW ARMS AGREEMENT AIMS TO EASE RUSSIAN FEARS

By Roland Eggleston

	The U.S., Russia, and 28 other countries are
putting the finishing touches on a new European security
agreement intended to limit the possibility of a
surprise military attack with conventional weapons.
	The basic agreement, reached in Vienna on 30 March
after years of negotiations, places restrictions on the
deployment of battle tanks, artillery, and armored
vehicles in individual European countries from the
Atlantic to the Urals. The final text is expected to be
signed in Istanbul in November by heads of government
attending an OSCE summit meeting.
	A senior U.S. negotiator, who spoke on condition of
anonymity, told RFE/RL that one of the main goals of the
new agreement is to defuse Russian concerns about a
possible concentration of Western tanks, artillery, and
armored vehicles in the three new NATO member states:
Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. "NATO has made
several concessions to ease Russian fears", he said,
adding that "there are special restrictions on the
number of both national and foreign forces which can be
deployed in these countries on a permanent basis."
	On the other hand, the new agreement also prevents
Russia from increasing its permanent forces in
Kaliningrad Oblast, which borders Poland and Lithuania,
or in Pskov Oblast, which borders Estonia. Belarus also
accepted restrictions on the military forces that may be
deployed on its territory.
	Another part of the agreement allows Kazakhstan to
station a limited number of tanks, artillery, and
armored vehicles at the northern end of the Caspian Sea
to protect its oil installations. Kazakhstan is the only
Central Asian country that is a signatory to the treaty,
and the area around the north of the Caspian is the only
part of the country covered by the document.
	In legal terms, the new agreement is an update of
the 1990 Paris Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe,
which cut the number of battle tanks, artillery, and
armored vehicles held by NATO and the former Warsaw
Pact.
	Much of the 1990 treaty remains unchanged in the
new agreement. But amendments were necessary because it
sought to balance NATO and the now defunct Warsaw Pact.
The new agreement focuses on individual countries and
the number of tanks, artillery. and armored vehicles
that may be deployed in them by either national or
foreign forces.
	The agreements allow each country both a national
ceiling and a so-called "regional" ceiling. The former
is the total number of its own forces. The latter is the
maximum number of foreign forces that may be deployed on
a permanent basis. The same system applies to artillery
pieces and armored vehicles.
	Part of the special arrangements made to reassure
Russia about the new NATO members is that the "regional"
total in these countries will be the same as the
"national" total. This restricts the possibilities for
deploying foreign NATO forces on their territory.
Belarus has accepted a similar restriction, which NATO
negotiators believe will prevent a build-up of Russian
forces there.
	In addition, the three new NATO members have agreed
to reduce the size of their national forces in the next
few years.. Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic were
in any case planning such reductions. A European
negotiator told RFE/RL: "The structure of the armed
forces in these countries was based on their being units
of the Warsaw Pact. As members of NATO, the call is for
smaller, more mobile forces."
	NATO, however, insisted on flexibility in these
arrangements to allow for rapid assistance in times of
crisis. This part of the agreement allows reinforcements
to be sent to another country under threat. In most
cases, the initial reinforcement would be limited to a
single brigade, which, in NATO terms, means about 150
tanks, 100 artillery pieces, and 250 armored vehicles.
If the situation worsens, two brigades may be sent.
	The ceiling on the deployment of foreign forces may
also be temporarily increased in certain other
situations, including joint military exercises under the
Partnership for Peace program. In these cases some
equipment may be moved from one country to another.
	Restrictions on the number of foreign forces
deployed in a single country may also be lifted
temporarily for military exercises that are not part of
the Partnership for Peace program. But this exception is
surrounded by restrictions to ensure that the exercises
cannot be turned into a threat against another country.
	The negotiators have also agreed that the normal
limits can be exceeded when military forces are
supporting peacekeeping operations with a mandate from
the UN or the OSCE. In such cases, the size of the
forces deployed is determined by the mandate.
Finally, the negotiators in Vienna agreed on the thorny
issue of the size of the forces that can be deployed in
the so-called "flank" areas: St. Petersburg Military
District and the Caucasus. Ten countries are affected by
the agreement on the flanks.
	Initially, Russia wanted all restrictions lifted on
its deployment of forces in these flank regions,
particularly the Caucasus. Under the final agreement, in
certain circumstances the "territorial" limit of
national and foreign forces in these regions can be
exceeded by the temporary deployment of one brigade in
the region.
	The agreement also allows for temporary
arrangements allowing countries in the flank region to
amend the limits in favor of another country.
Negotiators say that in certain circumstances, this
would allow Russia to increase the size of its forces in
the flank region but only if other countries reduced
their own numbers.

The author is a senior RFE/RL correspondent based in
Munich.

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