|Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 145, Part II, 28 July 1999
________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 145, Part II, 28 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 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part II * BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION CELEBRATES OLD INDEPENDENCE DAY * CROATIAN MINISTER REJECTS HAGUE CHARGES AGAINST TUDJMAN * BELGRADE PLANNING WAVE OF TRIALS? xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION CELEBRATES OLD INDEPENDENCE DAY. Some 4,000 demonstrators marched through Minsk on 27 July to mark Belarus's old Independence Day. In 1996, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka moved the holiday from 27 July--the day on which Belarus declared its sovereignty in 1990--to 3 July, which marks the Soviet liberation of Belarus from German troops in World War II. The march was sanctioned by the authorities, but organizers changed its route and protesters clashed with the police some 500 meters from the presidential administration building. According to Belapan, police arrested several dozen people, including Mikalay Statkevich, leader of the opposition Social Democratic Party. JM KALININGRAD GOVERNOR IN BELARUS. Kaliningrad Oblast Governor Leonid Gorbenko said in Minsk on 27 July that Russian regional leaders support the unification of Russia and Belarus, Belarusian Television reported. Gorbenko added that he fully shares the position of Lukashenka with regard to creating a union state and opposes "any transition stages and half-steps that delay the resolution of the issue." Lukashenka stressed he is interested in developing close ties with the Russian exclave, including the use of the Kaliningrad port for shipping Belarusian goods abroad. JM BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER MEETS WITH LITHUANIA'S LANDSBERGIS. Supreme Soviet Chairman Syamyon Sharetski, who fled last week to Vilnius, met on 27 July with Lithuanian parliamentary speaker Vytautas Landsbergis. Sharetski informed Landsbergis about the situation in Belarus, stressing that Lukashenka's legitimate term has expired. According to BNS, Landsbergis praised the Belarusian opposition for its moderate tactics aimed at restoring democracy in Belarus and later predicted that relations between Vilnius and Minsk will not suffer because of Sharetski's visit. "We act in a moderate, restrained way," ELTA quoted Landsbergis as saying. Lithuanian Deputy Foreign Minister Vygaudas Usackas said that Lithuania, though recognizing the legitimacy of the Belarusian Supreme Soviet, must be guided in its relations with Lukashenka by a "pragmatic approach and the need to safeguard national interests through friendly economic and political relations," according to BNS. JM UKRAINIAN ANTI-CORRUPTION FIGHTER ACCUSES PRESIDENT OF ASSASSINATION PLAN. Hryhoriy Omelchenko, head of the parliamentary anti-corruption investigation commission, told journalists on 27 July that President Leonid Kuchma ordered him killed, AP reported. "The [assassination] order was made personally by the president or with his tacit agreement," Omelchenko said, adding that two groups of killers were organized in Russia and received a contract worth $500,000 to dispose of him. According to Omelchenko, the assassination plan was linked to his investigation into foreign bank accounts held by Ukrainian high-ranking officials. Omelchenko was involved in the investigation into alleged money laundering by former Premier Pavlo Lazarenko and Oleksandr Volkov, the head of Kuchma's election team. JM ESTONIAN GOVERNMENT ENACTS LANGUAGE LAW REGULATIONS. The Estonian government on 27 July issued the regulations on implementing the language law, passed in February. Under the law's provisions to be implemented, stricter language requirements will be needed in the public sector. The government is examining all the ramifications before implementing those parts of the law dealing with the private sector. However, implementation will also affect the medical profession, with regard to which Prime Minister Mart Laar commented "otherwise the ramifications for people may be very serious or even life-threatening," ETA reported. MH LATVIAN REAL ESTATE OFFICIALS SACKED. The Latvian government on 27 July sacked head of the State Real Estate Agency (VNIA) Janis Motte. The five-man board of the VNIA was also dismissed, LETA reported. Earlier this week, acting Prosecutor-General Edvins Ziedins asked the government to investigate the activities of VNIA and to remove Motte. Ziedins accused Motte of violating the anti-corruption law by assigning state-owned apartments to people it had selected, including its own employees. In early July, the Constitutional Court rescinded the VNIA regulation on giving out apartments. Ziedins suggested that at least 60 were illegally distributed. MH POLISH CABINET APRROVES PROPERTY RESTITUTION BILL. The government on 27 July approved the long-awaited bill on compensating people whose property was seized by the communist authorities. The so-called reprivatization law stipulates that the state compensate those former owners or their heirs who are unable to regain their property in kind. Compensation will amount to 60 percent of the value of that property and will apply to possessions confiscated from 1944-1962. Miroslaw Szypowski, head of the Polish Union of Property Owners (PUWN), criticized the draft law, saying it should extend to confiscations dating from 1939-1943 as well and to property owned not only by the State Treasury but also by local communities. The PUWN supports a class action filed in New York in June by 11 Jews who demand restitution of their property in Poland. JM CZECH ROMA EXODUS TO U.K. BREAKS RECORD. A record number of Czech Roma requested political asylum in the U.K. last month, despite the British authorities' repeated refusal to grant that status to any of them, the daily "Mlada fronta Dnes" reported on 28 July. In the first half of 1999, more Czech Roma (588) requested political asylum in the U.K. than in the whole of the previous year (512). In June alone, there were 143 requests, but the daily said that the actual number is three times higher, since only family heads are registered for the purpose of official statistics. MS SLOVAK PRIVATIZATION HEAD SAYS UKRAINIAN MAFIA THREATENS HIM. Ludovit Kanik, head of the National Property Fund, on 26 July told Radio Twist that the "Ukrainian Mafia" operating in Slovakia has started threatening him in connection with "the uncompromising stand I took in the Nafta Gbely sale case." Kanik said he has written to the Interior Ministry asking for protection for himself and his family. Mikulas Dzurinda's government has asked the parliament to dismiss Kanik and his deputy for failing to prevent businessman Vladimir Poor from selling Nafta Gbely's subsidiary, Nafta Trade, to the U.S. Cinergy Company. Nafta Gbely was privatized under Vladimir Meciar's government and bought by Poor, who is close to Meciar. During the election campaign, Dzurinda promised to return the company to state ownership. MS HUNGARIAN AIR FORCE MODERNIZATION PLAN REVEALED. A plan for modernizing the air force envisages the purchase of fighter planes as well as upgrading the existing air fleet, the daily "Napi Magyarorszag" reported on 26 July. The plan calls for the purchase of 30-32 Western- made combat aircraft to replace MiG-21s and says that AN-26s transport planes must be replaced with four to six Western-made medium-size transport aircraft "within a few years." Meanwhile, air force command, which drafted the plan, expects NATO members to donate to Hungary aircraft held in reserve owing to military cuts or to sell them for a symbolic sum. MS HUNGARIAN AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES U.S. POSITION ON VOJVODINA AUTONOMY. Former Foreign Minister Geza Jeszenszky, who is now ambassador to the U.S., told MTI on 27 July that the U.S. government is "fully aware" of the situation of ethnic Hungarians in Vojvodina but believes that raising the issue of autonomy now will make things difficult for the opposition in Yugoslavia. Jeszenszky said it "has been clear throughout the [Kosova] conflict that U.S. policy is to concentrate on one problem at one time." He also said that the Serbian opposition is not against the idea of an autonomous Vojvodina where ethnic Hungarians would be granted "adequate rights." MS SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE CROATIAN MINISTER REJECTS HAGUE CHARGES AGAINST TUDJMAN. Justice Minister Zvonimir Separovic said in Zagreb on 27 July that the Hague-based war crimes tribunal has become a "means of political pressure against a sovereign Croatia by those who stand behind" the court, "Jutarnji list" reported. He did not elaborate. Separovic was responding to comments by a court prosecutor that Croatian President Franjo Tudjman is ultimately responsible for the actions of the Herzegovinian Croat military in Bosnia during the 1992-1995 war (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 27 July 1999). Major Zagreb dailies quote several other Tudjman supporters as also accusing the court of playing politics. According to the same newspapers, several opposition politicians and journalists stress that the court is a politically neutral institution and that justice must be allowed to take its course. PM BOSNIAN CROAT LEADER SAYS EXTREMISTS FOLLOWED ZAGREB'S ORDERS. Stjepan Kljuic, who was the moderate political leader of the republic's ethnic Croats until he resigned in February 1992, told the tribunal in The Hague on 27 July that the hard-line leadership of the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) carried out Zagreb's policies during the 1992-1995 war. These polices included seeking a deal with the Bosnian Serb leadership to partition the republic between the Croats and Serbs at the expense of the Muslims, Kljuic added. He said that Zagreb's top representatives in the Herzegovinian HDZ were Dario Kordic and the late Mate Boban. PM BOSNIA READY FOR SUMMIT... Ante Jelavic, Alija Izetbegovic, and Zivko Radisic, who are the three members of the joint presidency, said in Sarajevo on 27 July that preparations are complete for the 29-30 July summit on Balkan reconstruction and stability. Foreign Minister Jadranko Prlic noted that representatives from the Balkan countries participating in the summit have agreed on a final declaration, which stresses democratization and human rights. The only point in the text on which the participants have yet to agree is that dealing with Serbia and the war in Kosova. Prlic added that he expects the participants to reach agreement on that point by the time the conference opens, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Some 4,000 SFOR troops will provide security for the gathering, a NATO spokesman said. PM ...AND EUROPEAN INTEGRATION. Both houses of the Bosnian parliament passed a resolution on 27 July calling on all government bodies to do everything possible to fulfill the conditions necessary for Bosnia's admission to the Council of Europe. The lower house passed a resolution urging the presidency to negotiate agreements on dual citizenship with Zagreb and Belgrade as soon as diplomatic relations are established with Yugoslavia. The lower house also approved a law on Bosnian citizenship, which the international community's Carlos Westendorp previously issued as a decree. PM WESTENDORP: BOSNIA NEEDS WORK. The international community's Carlos Westendorp said at the UN in New York on 27 July that there will soon be "social unrest" in Bosnia unless the more than 40 percent unemployment rate is cut. He stressed that privatization and foreign investment are the keys to creating jobs, AP reported. Westendorp noted that the authorities have done little to promote free enterprise and that Bosnia suffers from a lack of entrepreneurs. PM AVRAMOVIC URGES AID FOR SERBIA. Dragoslav Avramovic, who stopped hyperinflation during his tenure as National Bank director in 1994, told the "Berliner Zeitung" of 28 July that continuing economic isolation of Serbia will lead to a worsening of social conditions. That development, in turn, will not necessarily bring about the overthrow of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic but will certainly contribute to growing anti-foreign sentiments among the population. Avramovic stressed that Serbia needs hard currency to buy fuel and raw materials for its industries. He argued that expanded industrial output is the key to reviving Serbia's economy. Many observers believe that the prestigious and popular elderly banker will head the first post-Milosevic government. Avramovic will attend the Balkan summit as the guest of Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari. PM OPPOSITION DRAFTS STABILITY PLAN FOR SERBIA. Some 17 economists, opposition leaders, intellectuals, and representatives of the Serbian Orthodox Church announced in Belgrade on 27 July that they have drafted a stability plan for Serbia, Reuters reported. The text calls for a package of political and economic reforms. The first step would be to set up a transitional government with a one-year mandate to create the legal and political conditions for free and democratic elections. A spokesman for the group stressed that Serbia must avoid what he called a "Bucharest scenario," a reference to the violent overthrow of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in December 1989. PM BELGRADE PLANNING WAVE OF TRIALS? Biljana Kovacevic- Vuco, who heads the Yugoslav Human Rights Lawyers' Committee, said in Belgrade on 27 July that the authorities are preparing legal proceedings against up to 28,000 men for having refused to answer their military call-up notices during the war in Kosova. She stressed that the authorities plan to use legal measures to punish members of the opposition. On 28 July, Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic appeared before the Supreme Military Court to answer charges of draft- dodging. He told reporters that he hopes that the publicity from his trial will serve to hasten the end of the Milosevic regime. The previous day, he said on Montenegrin Television that "the army must urgently do everything it can to remove Milosevic from power if it wants to defend the country." PM UNHCR CONCERNED FOR SERBIAN REFUGEES. A UNHCR spokesman said in Belgrade on 27 July that his agency urgently needs $20 million to obtain food and shelter for some 173,000 Serbian and Roma refugees from Kosova. He added that the UNCHR does not know where all the refugees are or what needs they have. He added that the Serbian government "has made no preparation" for helping the refugees through the winter. The spokesman said that most refugees are housed in schools and will need new quarters once the school year begins, Reuters reported. PM MAJOR KOSOVA ATROCITY CONFIRMED. The New York-based organization Human Rights Watch published a 25-page report on 27 July confirming earlier reports that Serbian forces killed 47 ethnic Albanian civilians on 17 April near Gllogovc. The dead included 23 children under 15 years of age. The Serbs threw a grenade into the room where they were holding the civilians and then shot those who tried to escape. PM KFOR FINDS UCK ARMS CACHE. A spokesman for NATO peacekeepers said in Prishtina on 27 July that KFOR soldiers on 24 July found an unguarded arms cache near Prizren "large...enough to support a platoon." Representatives of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) told NATO that the illegal cache was theirs, Reuters reported. PM ALBANIA'S BERISHA CALLS FOR CONSENSUS. Albanian Democratic Party chairman Sali Berisha told party leaders in Tirana on 27 July that the party needs more "democratization and openness" in its internal discussions. He added that the Democrats should also work to "reach a consensus with other political forces on major problems facing the country," dpa reported. Berisha has taken several steps recently to reduce the polarization that bedevils the country's political life (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 July 1999). PM ALBANIAN PRESIDENT SEEKS AMNESTY FOR ILLEGAL WEALTH. Rexhep Meidani said in Tirana on 27 July that the authorities should legalize the booming shadow economy, Reuters reported. He stressed that legalizing wealth regardless of its origin would encourage entrepreneurs to reinvest their gains in Albania and discourage cash outflow. The daily "Gazeta Shqiptare" wrote that Meidani's suggestion makes a mockery of the legal system. PM ROMANIAN OPPOSITION LEADER BLASTS KOSOVA POLICIES. Party of Social Democracy in Romania first deputy chairman Adrian Nastase told journalists in Turnu Severin on 27 July that Foreign Minister Andrei Plesu "never understood the stakes" of the Kosova conflict and that Romania "placed all its bets on one card, and lost." He said that during the conflict, Romania followed a policy of "passivity and servility" and "supported decisions that backed the interests of other countries" instead of "having the courage to stand up for its own interests," Romanian Radio reported. MS ROMANIA, ARMENIA SIGN DEFENSE AGREEMENT. Visiting Armenian Defense Minister General Vagharshak Arutiunian and his Romanian counterpart, Victor Babiuc, on 26 July signed a framework cooperation agreement between their ministries, an RFE/RL correspondent in Bucharest reported. The agreement focuses on collaboration in the defense industry, military training, and the protection of military information. Also on 26 July, Foreign Minister Plesu met with visiting Pakistani Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz and discussed bilateral relations and the Kashmir crisis. The following day, Aziz and Finance Minister Decebal Train Remes signed an agreement on avoiding double taxation. MS KURDISH REBELS THREATEN MOLDOVA... In a 27 July declaration cited by Flux, the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) said the recent abduction of Kurdish leader Cevat Soysal (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 22 July 1999) "is a continuation of the plot against President Abdullah Ocalan," adding that the PKK and its allies have "every right to respond to international terrorism and abductions." The declaration said that "sooner or later, Moldova, Kenya, and other forces that allied themselves with Turkey will account for their deeds." Presidential spokesman Anatol Golea said on 26 July that it "cannot be ruled out" that leaks to the media on Moldova's alleged involvement were purposefully misleading. Golea said that during a visit to Turkey on 22-23 July, National Security Minister Valeriu Pasat "demanded explanations" from Ankara. The government of Bulent Ecevit later denied any Moldovan involvement in the affair. MS ...WHILE LUCINSCHI CANCELS TURKEY VACATION. President Petru Lucinschi has canceled a planned vacation in Turkey, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 July, citing Moldpres. Presidential spokesman Golea said "vacationing in Turkey is now risky for Moldovans," adding that in view of the Kurdish threats, security in Moldova itself has been tightened. MS U.S. VICE PRESIDENT LAUDS BULGARIA. In a letter to Prime Minister Ivan Kostov on 27 July, Al Gore said that "the Bulgarian experience...on ways to grapple with a number of issues can be of great value to other states in the region and to Kosova in particular," AP reported. Gore said the successes of the Bulgarian cabinet "in promoting and implementing necessary economic and political reforms in the past two years have been well matched by your government's work to combat organized crime and corruption." MS BULGARIAN DEPUTY TO LOSE IMMUNITY? Prosecutor General Nikola Filchev on 27 July asked the parliament to strip Euroleft deputy Tsvetelin Kanchev of his immunity on suspicion of involvement in "serious crimes," AP reported, citing state radio. An official from the Prosecutor-General's Office said the precise nature of the charges will be announced to the legislature later, while Filchev said that if the house lifts Kanchev's immunity, he will order his arrest. MS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word subscribe as the subject of the message. HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE Send an email to email@example.com with the word unsubscribe as the subject of the message. 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