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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 143, Part II, 26 July 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 143, Part II, 26 July 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 LEADER FLEES TO LITHUANIA

* SERBIAN CIVILIANS MASSACRED IN KOSOVA

* ROMANIAN, HUNGARIAN PREMIERS DISCUSS OUTSTANDING
ISSUES
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER FLEES TO LITHUANIA. Syamyon
Sharetski, speaker of the opposition Supreme Soviet,
fled to Lithuania last week, fearing for his safety
after the end of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's
legitimate term on 20 July. Sharetski's colleagues from
the Supreme Soviet had said he should now be regarded as
the legitimate head of state (see "RFE/RL's Newsline,"
22 July 1999). Sharetski told the Vilnius-based
"Respublika" on 26 July that he wants to avoid a
confrontation with Lukashenka and "evaluate the current
situation." Sharetski also called on Lukashenka to enter
into talks with the opposition and honor the
constitution. "We have only one plan--to
eliminate...dictatorship and [restore] democracy.... We
do not want to go to Russia, if Lukashenka wants it, let
him take his possessions and go," Reuters quoted
Sharetski as telling "Respublika." JM

BELARUSIAN INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER FACES HEAVY FINE. A
Minsk court on 22-23 July heard a case brought by the
Belarusian Council of Judges and Judge Nadzeya Chmara
against the independent newspaper "Belorusskaya delovaya
gazeta," RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on 23
July. The claimants accuse the newspaper of biased
coverage of the trial of Vasil Staravoytau, which was
chaired by Chmara, and demand 11 billion Belarusian
rubles ($41,400 according to the official exchange rate)
in compensation. The newspaper erroneously reported that
Chmara had no computer in the court when drawing up her
verdict on Staravoytau. An RFE/RL Minsk correspondent
reported that under current economic circumstances in
Belarus, such a fine is "astronomical" and, if imposed,
will most likely result in the closure of the newspaper.
JM

UKRAINE, RUSSIA STAGE FIRST JOINT NAVY PARADE SINCE
1991. Ukraine joined Russia's annual celebration of
Black Sea Fleet Day, 25 July, for the first time since
the country gained independence in 1991. Ukrainian
President Leonid Kuchma and Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov
attended a joint navy parade in Sevastopol. Luzhkov
stressed his view that Sevastopol belongs to Russia,
adding that the issue "sooner or later will be resolved
as history and justice demands," AP reported. Following
a meeting with Luzhkov the same day, Kuchma said
"Sevastopol is and will remain Ukrainian, I do not have
any disputes on the matter with anyone," ITAR-TASS
reported. JM

EU PRAISES UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT... "Let me take this
opportunity to express my personal admiration for the
leadership of President Kuchma and the concrete
achievements of Ukraine in the past five years," Reuters
quoted Finnish Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen, who now
presides over the EU, as saying in Kyiv on 23 July. An
EU delegation led by Lipponen signed agreements on oil
transport and on nuclear safety and research. Lipponen
pledged up to 150 million euros ($143 million) to
strengthen Ukraine's banking and financial systems. He
also said the EU may provide funds to complete the
construction of two nuclear reactors in Ukraine. JM

...WHILE UKRAINIAN SPEAKER SLAMS HIM. Parliamentary
speaker Oleksandr Tkachenko, a major candidate in the
October presidential race, has accused President Kuchma
of harboring authoritarian plans and causing the
economic and social collapse of Ukraine. "The years of
the current president will be remembered in history as
the epoch of political cynicism, lack of action,
irresponsibility, and a downfall of the entire social
life," Tkachenko said in Cherkasy on 23 July, according
to AP. Kuchma's leftist rivals have recently begun
publicizing the idea that Kuchma may introduce a state
of emergency in order to call off the presidential
elections. Tkachenko mentioned the acute fuel crisis,
price hikes, and a possible devaluation of the hryvnya
as probable reasons for a state of emergency in the
country. JM

EU CRITICIZES ESTONIAN POLICE, CUSTOMS. "Postimees" on
24 July reported that in an interim report about
Estonia's development in interior affairs, the European
Commission focused its criticism on the police and
customs. The report states that those two areas are
effective only if officers are "qualified, motivated,
well-paid and well-equipped." Other targets of criticism
in the report include passport security, various police
prefectures, as well as Estonia's visa-free regime with
Bulgaria. In conclusion the report suggests that without
improvement, "it is doubtful that Estonia can quickly
become an EU member." The Estonian Interior Ministry
said the EU has a good understanding of the situation in
Estonia but that its report, while objective, included
some factual errors and was at times vague. MH

POLISH PARLIAMENT ELECTS BOARD TO EXAMINE SECRET FILES.
The parliament on 24 July elected 11 members of the
National Remembrance Institute board, which will oversee
making secret police files accessible to the victims of
Poland's communist-era repression. Under the law on
secret police files, the institute is also empowered to
launch investigations into Nazi and Stalinist crimes in
Poland. The members of the board, which is composed of
historians and judges, were proposed by the ruling
Solidarity Electoral Action (four members) and Freedom
Union (two members), the opposition Peasant Party (two
members), the Democratic Left Alliance (one member), and
the National Judiciary Council (two members). JM

CZECH INTELLECTUALS CALL FOR NATIONAL DIALOGUE. Some 200
intellectuals, including academic, business, and
religious leaders, made a public appeal on 23 July for
dialogue on the country's political, social, and
economic problems, Reuters and CTK reported. The
document, entitled "Impulse '99," is reminiscent of
Charter '77's appeal for a dialogue with the then
communist regime. It says the Czech Republic is "headed
in a direction that may stifle hope for a rapid
integration into European structures and lead to a
further decline in the economic, legal, social, and
moral spheres." It also calls on politicians to end "the
power games" and "confrontational behavior" that have
"caused many Czechs to lose faith in democracy." MS

SLOVAK POLICE TO QUESTION MECIAR ON KOVAC'S SON
ABDUCTION. Chief investigator Jaroslav Ivor on 23 July
said Slovak police want to question former Premier
Vladimir Meciar about his involvement in the 1995
abduction of former President Michal Kovac's son, CTK
reported. Ivor said that it depends on the evidence
gathered whether Meciar will be investigated "as a
suspect." For now, Ivor noted, he will be questioned "as
a witness." Ivor was responding to an interview
published by the weekly "Plus 7 dni" with former Slovak
Deputy Counter-Intelligence chief Jaroslav Svechota.
Svechota said that the abduction was "not entirely"
carried out at the initiative of his former chief, Ivan
Lexa, and that in his opinion, Meciar "masterminded the
abduction." Svechota, who has admitted participation in
the abduction, has asked to be amnestied on grounds of
ill health. MS

U.S. REPORT HIGHLIGHTS SHORTCOMINGS OF HUNGARIAN
MILITARY. A study of the Hungarian armed forces by the
U.S. company Cubic Applications Inc. outlines numerous
shortcomings and suggests ways of modernizing the
forces, "Magyar Hirlap" reported 24 July. The study
notes that there are still too many senior officers and
too few NCOs. It says that armor-piercing artillery used
by land forces is virtually ineffective, while radar and
air defense systems are well below standard. And it
recommends the gradual withdrawal of MiG-21s, noting
that other air force equipment is out of date. MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SERBIAN CIVILIANS MASSACRED IN KOSOVA. Unknown persons
with automatic weapons killed 14 Serbian farmers as they
were bringing in the harvest near Gracko, southwest of
Prishtina, on 23 July. The UN's Bernard Kouchner, KFOR's
General Sir Mike Jackson, and the Kosova Liberation
Army's (UCK) Hashim Thaci condemned the killings. KFOR
and the Hague-based war crimes tribunal are
investigating the massacre, which is the largest single
atrocity against Serbs since KFOR arrived in June. It is
unclear whether the killings were an act of revenge for
the murders of more than 40 ethnic Albanians at nearby
Recak in January. Representatives of the UN and KFOR
said in Prishtina that they fear the incident could lead
to a renewed cycle of violence that could destabilize
the fragile peace in Kosova, the BBC reported on 26
July. PM

JACKSON PLEDGES ACTION TO FIND KILLERS. General Jackson
told a news conference in Prishtina on 25 July that the
massacre "overshadows everything at the moment. The
investigation is ongoing.... I have made some
adjustments to troop concentrations and efforts. There
will be some increase in [road] checkpoints." He
stressed that he will do everything necessary "to stamp
out criminal behavior." Jackson added that it is unclear
whether the killings are an isolated incident or "part
of something more sinister." He and Kouchner said that
all inhabitants of Kosova must leave behind the "cycle
of hostility" if they want to become part of the modern
and democratic world and achieve prosperity. Kouchner
stressed that "our mission must go on [even though] the
murderers sought to stop us." PM

SERBS PREPARE FOR FUNERALS. Several local Serbs in
Gracko told reporters on 25 July that the Serbian
population there is frightened. One said in an interview
with AP: "We have yet to decide what to do. It is
difficult to do anything if you fear for your life."
Kosova Serb political leader Momcilo Trajkovic added
that "people have lost confidence in KFOR, and it will
be very difficult to rebuild it." Some villagers said
that local Serbs had asked KFOR for protection prior to
the killings, the BBC reported on 26 July. KFOR
spokesmen said in Prishtina that autopsies on the 14
bodies are continuing and that the funeral that was
planned for 26 July will have to be postponed. UN
officials on 25 July indefinitely postponed a meeting of
the joint transitional council slated for the following
day after Serbian representatives said that they would
be busy with preparations for the funeral and would not
attend the meeting. PM

BELGRADE WANTS TO RETURN FORCES, CUSTOMS OFFICERS TO
KOSOVA. Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic said in
Belgrade on 24 July that KFOR and the UN civilian
administration are responsible for failing to protect
the 14 villagers, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service
reported. He added that he wants the UN Security Council
to allow an unspecified number of Serbian police to
return to Kosova. The following day, Vladislav
Jovanovic, who is Belgrade's chief representative at the
UN, requested an urgent meeting of the Security Council
to discuss the killings. He demanded that the council
allow the "forces of the Yugoslav army and police, as
well as customs officials" to return to Kosova (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 21 July 1999). The June agreement
between NATO and Belgrade envisages the eventual return
of several hundred Serbian troops, police, and border
guards to Kosova but leaves the timing for the UN to
decide. PM

SERBIAN RESERVISTS LAUNCH HUNGER STRIKE. Nine reservists
began a hunger strike near the headquarters of the Third
Army in Nis on 26 July to reinforce their demands that
the government pay their back wages immediately.
Spokesman Miodrag Stankovic said the previous night:
"All those who want to see a Serbian soldier turn to
hunger strike to prevent his family from starving
tomorrow should be ashamed," Reuters reported. PM

OPPOSITION WARNS SERBIAN GENERALS TO STAY OUT OF
POLITICS. The Social Democratic Party said in a
statement in Belgrade on 25 July that "any attempt to
use the Yugoslav army to suppress popular discontent
would be a suicidal act and...the end of the army."
Social Democratic leader Vuk Obradovic, who is a former
general, said that opposition demands that Milosevic
resign are "perfectly legal and democratic" and do not
constitute "an attempt to take power by force," as pro-
Milosevic Generals Dragoljub Ojdanic and Nebojsa
Pavkovic recently alleged. Also in Belgrade, Democratic
Party leader Zoran Djindjic said that unnamed senior
generals have recently "violated the constitution and
put themselves in the service of one man, thereby
alienating themselves from the people and the rest of
the army." PM

BELGRADE STUDENTS PROTEST MILOSEVIC RULE. Members of the
student opposition group "Otpor" (Resistance) scattered
leaflets from rooftops in downtown Belgrade on 23 July
in which they called for opposition to the regime led by
Milosevic and his wife, Mira Markovic. The students
dubbed their protest "End of JUL-y," a reference to the
United Yugoslav Left (JUL), which is Markovic's party.
Later that day, approximately 5,000 persons attended a
rally in Sombor of the Alliance for Change. The
following night, some 25,000 turned out for a meeting
called by Vuk Draskovic's Serbian Renewal Movement in
Nis. PM

ALBANIAN PRESIDENT MODIFIES CALL FOR KOSOVA INDPENDENCE.
President Rexhep Meidani told "Koha Jone" of 25 July
that "the autonomy of Kosova or conversion of the
province into a new unit [within Yugoslavia] with the
same [republican] status as Montenegro might be
[eventually] realized in the framework of European
integration." He stressed that "European and Euro-
Atlantic integration" will at some unspecified future
date reduce the role of international borders to
"geographic symbols," dpa reported. Albanian leaders
usually say that the only political solution for Kosova
is independence. Observers note that Tirana is seeking
extensive development aid from the international
community, which opposes independence for the province.
In Tirana on 23 July, the group of aid donors known as
Friends of Albania said in a statement that the Albanian
authorities must improve law and order if they want more
foreign investment, Reuters reported. PM

SCHROEDER PLEDGES AID FOR MACEDONIA. German Chancellor
Gerhard Schroeder said in Skopje on 23 July that
Macedonia "behaved perfectly" during the recent crisis
in Kosova. He stressed that "it has shown solidarity and
therefore it deserves solidarity" when international
leaders discuss the Balkan stability pact in Sarajevo on
30 July. PM

NO SUPPORT FOR SANDZAK AUTONOMY? Rasim Ljajic, who heads
the Sandzak Coalition, said that calls for autonomy made
by his political rival Sulejman Ugljanin are
"unrealistic," "Danas" reported on 26 July. Ljajic
argued that the international community pays no
attention to Sandzak and that the leaders of the 240,000
ethnic Muslims are divided among themselves. Ljajic
stressed that the Muslims should support democratic
forces within Serbia and Montenegro rather than seek
regional autonomy for themselves. PM

REHN WARNS OF BOOMING CRIME IN BOSNIA. Elizabeth Rehn,
who is the outgoing UN representative in Bosnia, said in
New York on 23 July that Bosnia is becoming an "El
Dorado of organized crime." She noted that many judges
are corrupt, prosecutors afraid, and witnesses
intimidated. Rehn added that criminals have recently
brought more than 1,000 women as prostitutes into Bosnia
from foreign countries, including Serbia, Romania,
Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan, Reuters
reported. Observers note that there are strong links
between military leaders, politicians, and criminals
among each of Bosnia' three main ethnic groups. During
the 1992-1995 war, criminals cooperated with one another
across front lines. PM

BULGARIA, ALBANIA, MACEDONIA PROPOSE BALKAN
RECONSTRUCTION PROJECTS. The foreign ministers of
Bulgaria, Albania, and Macedonia, meeting in Sofia on 25
July, agreed to propose joint economic projects to the
30 July Sarajevo summit on Balkan reconstruction, an
RFE/RL correspondent in Sofia reported. Nadezhda
Mihailova, Paskal Milo, and Alexandar Dimitrov said the
joint projects will make their countries more attractive
to foreign investors. One of the key projects is the
construction of an East-West transport corridor linking
Bulgaria's Black Sea port of Burgas with the Albanian
Adriatic port of Vlore. The three ministers also
stressed the importance of NATO's continued presence in
the Balkans to ensure regional stability. MS

ROMANIAN, HUNGARIAN PREMIERS DISCUSS OUTSTANDING
ISSUES... Radu Vasile and Viktor Orban, meeting in Targu
Mures on 23 July for "informal talks," agreed that
ethnic conflicts in the region must be quickly
eliminated. With regard to the envisaged Hungarian-
language state university in Romania, Vasile said the
"constitutional obstacles" for setting it up have been
removed and the problem is now a "technical" one. The
next day, however, Vasile said in Cluj that the
university cannot be established during the current
parliamentary session because of "procedural
difficulties." Vasile also told Orban on 23 July that
the restitution of Church property confiscated by the
communist regime will be provided for either in a law
passed by the parliament or in an emergency government
regulation. Some 195 buildings will be returned,
RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau quoted him as saying. MS

...WHILE ORBAN SAYS HE WANTS 'RESOLUTE STEPS.'
Addressing the traditional Balvanyos Free Summer
University in Baile Tusnad on 24 July, Orban complained
that the Hungarian government must "time and again raise
the same issues" with the Romanian cabinet, in
particular the Hungarian-language university and the
restitution of Church property. He said that his cabinet
will "not make concessions" on the problems faced by
Hungarians living outside Hungary and that the
restitution of Church property is linked to
"safeguarding the Magyar minority's identity." He said
Romania has made a "few nice gestures" but added he
expects "resolute steps." Orban also said that it is up
to the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR)
to decide what policies best serve the interests of
Romania's ethnic Hungarians. Since the UDMR supports the
setting up of the university, he said, his government
will also "not give up supporting it." MS

SEPARATISTS PLUNGE MOLDOVAN CAPITAL INTO THREE-DAY BLACK
OUT. Electricity supplies from the Cuciurgan power plant
in the separatist Transdniester region were restored on
24 July, following negotiations between Moldovan Deputy
Premier Alexandru Muravschi and separatist deputy leader
Viktor Sinev, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. The
three-day black out heavily disrupted public
transportation and water supplies as well as forcing
shops and businesses to close. The separatists said the
restoration of supplies is "temporary" and stressed they
are insisting on the immediate payment of $12 million
out of the $31 million that Chisinau owes Tiraspol for
electricity deliveries. Prime Minister Ion Sturza on 23
July said in the parliament that the separatists' move
is politically motivated and that Moldova must increase
supplies from Romania and Ukraine. MS

RUSSIA READY TO WITHDRAW TROOPS, ARSENAL FROM MOLDOVA.
Russia is ready to carry out the stage-by-stage
withdrawal of its troops and military equipment from the
Transdniester, in accordance with a timetable proposed
by the OSCE, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 July, citing the
Russian Foreign Ministry. The statement was released
after a meeting in Moscow earlier last week of Russian
Foreign Ministry and OSCE experts. It added that Moscow
has provided the OSCE with "full information" on the
amount, the operational state, and the storage
conditions of stocks stationed in the region. MS

BULGARIA OFFERS TRANSIT CORRIDOR AGREEMENT TO RUSSIA,
FINLAND. Bulgaria on 23 July offered Russia and Finland
a draft agreement on the transit of their KFOR
peacekeeping forces. The draft is similar to that under
which NATO peacekeepers are already transiting Bulgarian
territory to Kosova. Russia last week said it has
renounced its request for transit corridors in view of
"unacceptable" Bulgarian demands but unnamed Russian
officials quoted by AP on 23 July welcomed the Bulgarian
initiative. MS

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