|Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 153, Part II, 9 August 1999
________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 153, Part II, 9 August 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 * UKRAINIAN TOP BANKER BLAMES HRYVNYA FALL ON FUEL CRISIS * ETHNIC ALBANIANS CLASH WITH KFOR IN MITROVICA * CROATIA EXTRADITES WAR CRIMES SUSPECT xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE TWO BELARUSIAN ANARCHISTS FINED FOR 'SOLIDARITY' WITH PROTESTERS. A Minsk court fined Syarhey Shmyalou and Vadzim Kastsyukevich 20 million Belarusian rubles ($74) each for taking part in an unsanctioned protest rally (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 July 1999), RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on 6 August. Shmyalou and Kastsyukevich had argued that they were at the place of the rally only after the protesters had dispersed. The court failed to prove that the accused had participated in the protest, but the judge argued that by going to the site of the protest and by speaking in Belarusian in the courtroom, they had demonstrated their solidarity with those protesting against the ruling regime. JM UKRAINIAN TOP BANKER BLAMES HRYVNYA FALL ON FUEL CRISIS. National Bank Chairman Viktor Yushchenko has blamed the hryvnya's slide below the government's exchange rate limit on recent gasoline shortages (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 August 1999). "The reason [for the fall] is not in the hryvnya and not in the currency market. It's in the increased demand for dollars to sign new fuel import deals," AP quoted Yushchenko as saying on 6 August. That day, in trading among banks, the hryvnya plunged to as low as 5.25 to $1, according to the news agency. Yushchenko refused to intervene on the currency market, stressing that the hryvnya will stabilize once the government manages to satisfy the country's gasoline demand. The same day, President Leonid Kuchma threw his support behind Yushchenko, saying the National Bank is right not to resort to intervention on the currency market. JM UKRAINIAN COURT ORDERS COMMISSION TO REGISTER 10TH PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL... Ukraine's Supreme Court on 6 August ordered the Central Electoral Commission to register Vasyl Onopenko, leader of the Social Democratic Party, as a candidate in the presidential election, bringing the number of contenders to 10. The commission earlier refused to register Onopenko, saying that only 845,000 or so signatures out of the 1.44 million submitted by him were valid. JM ...REINSTATES KYIV MAYOR IN OFFICE. The same day the Supreme Court revoked the decision of the Vyshhorod district court canceling Oleksandr Omelchenko's election as Kyiv mayor (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 and 27 July 1999). JM UKRAINE TO OBTAIN $569 MILLION FOR NUNN-LUGAR PROGRAM. The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv announced on 5 August that Ukraine will receive $569 million from the U.S. this year for the implementation of the collective threat reduction program, which is popularly known as the Nunn- Lugar program. Both sides decided during U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen's visit to Kyiv on 31 July that the Nunn-Lugar program will be prolonged until 2006 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 August 1999). JM CORRECTION: "RFE/RL Newsline" on 6 August incorrectly reported Ukraine's hard currency reserves at $1.3 million and its debt obligations through 2000 at $3.5 million. The correct figures are $1.3 billion and $3.5 billion, respectively. JM LATVIAN PREMIER HINTS AT DECREASING PENSIONS. Andris Skele has suggested that pensions will be decreased if a referendum defeats the government-sponsored amendments to the law on pensions. BNS quoted Skele as telling Latvian Radio on 6 August that he does "not rule out that we will have to reduce [current] pensions because we will not have any other source" with which to fund pensions. For Fatherland and Freedom, a member of the ruling coalition, accused the opposition of trying to destabilize the new government and to force early general elections. The Finance Ministry repeated Skele's threat to pay for the referendum with money earmarked to help revitalize the failed Rigas Komercbanka (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 August 1999), LETA reported. MH POLAND SAYS PROPERTY RESTITUTION CLAIMS NOT FOR U.S. COURTS. Referring to the property restitution claim against Poland filed by 11 Jews in a New York court in late June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 August 1999), government spokesman Krzysztof Luft said on 6 August that the claimants can recover their property via Polish courts, Reuters reported. Witold Danilowicz, a lawyer representing Poland in the U.S., noted that legal suits against Poland filed by Jewish U.S. citizens seeking to recover their property are outside the jurisdiction of U.S. courts. He argued that those suits should be filed in Poland. JM POLISH FARMERS UNHAPPY WITH STATE PROCUREMENT OF GRAIN, RAPE. The National Council of the Farmers' Solidarity Trade Union on 8 August criticized the state procurement of grain and rape seed, PAP reported. "The network of procurement points is inadequate, the procurement campaign began too late, and the quality parameters of grain are determined in a way unfavorable for farmers," Farmers' Solidarity leader Roman Wierzbicki noted. The council decided to launch protests in September unless the government increases the price of rape seed to exceed 800 zlotys ($200) for 1 ton. JM CZECH MEDIA COUNCIL WILL NOT RULE IN TV DISPUTE. The Czech Council for Radio and Television Broadcasts said on 6 August that it will not intervene in a months-long dispute over television rights because no broadcasting rules have been broken, CTK reported. The dispute is between CET 21, the license holder of TV Nova, the country's most popular station, and the Czech Independent Television Company (CNTS), which supplies TV Nova's programs. The previous day, the U.S.-based Central European Media Enterprise (CME), which is the majority share holder in the CNTS, asked the council to intervene in the dispute. The conflict began in April, when the CME fired Vladimir Zelezny, TV Nova's director- general and the majority owner of CET 21, accusing him of attempting to harm CNTS's business interests. CET 21 on 5 August terminated cooperation with the CNTS and began broadcasting independently. MS SLOVAK COALITION LEADERS REJECT CABINET RESHUFFLE DEMANDS. The leaders of the four-party coalition government, meeting behind closed doors on 6 August, said there will be "no major cabinet reshuffle" in the near future, although "changes in individual ministerial posts might take place," Reuters reported, citing TASR. CTK said that the decision was endorsed by Bela Bugar, chairman of the Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK). The SMK has recently demanded a reshuffle of Mikulas Dzurinda's cabinet. The four parties' leaders also decided to prepare by 31 October a "comprehensive evaluation of the fulfillment of the government's program." They also rejected opposition demands for early elections. MS FORMER HUNGARIAN PREMIER URGES SOCIALISTS TO REFORM. Miklos Nemeth, in an interview with Hungarian Television on 6 August, said he has not yet decided whether to return to politics but if he does so, he will join only a "genuinely reformed" Hungarian Socialist Party. Nemeth, who is deputy chairman of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, has met with former party colleagues during his vacation in Hungary, and media have speculated that he is considering a return to politics. He said that the Socialist Party "has not yet reached the stage where it can be described as a classic, Western-type social democratic formation." MS SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE ETHNIC ALBANIANS CLASH WITH KFOR IN MITROVICA... Up to 1,000 ethnic Albanians clashed with French KFOR soldiers from 7 through 9 August at Mitrovica's central bridge leading into the Serb-dominated northern part of the city, Reuters reported. The soldiers were hindering the protesters from entering that part of the city, fearing bloodshed between armed ethnic Serbs and Albanians. The protesters punched, spat, and threw cans at the soldiers. KFOR detained one ethnic Albanian. A KFOR spokesman said that "these mobs on the bridge were certainly orchestrated by the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) to crank up the pressure on us [to let them take over northern Mitrovica]. But this would cause major violence." French troops also arrested four Serbs in the northern part of Mitrovica for possession of weapons. Meanwhile, unknown attackers fired a rifle-propelled grenade from the south into northern Mitrovica, but there were no injuries or serious damage. FS ...CAUSING CONCERN THAT UCK LOST CONTROL OVER HARD- LINERS. Reuters reported on 9 August that KFOR commander General Sir Mike Jackson told "The Scotsman": "I can't say I'm fully confident that [the UCK is] in full control [among ethnic Albanians]. They are going to have to work with their own people to show that they have a [Kosova] now which is hugely different from the [Kosova] they had three months ago.... They've got a great deal of what they fought for--O.K. not independence--but they have a free [Kosova], which is almost the same thing." Jackson warned: "We may get some difficulty with fringe hotheads and we will deal with it. But for the [UCK] to do anything other than conform to the [demilitarization] undertaking they have assigned themselves...would be the most foolish thing to do, and I'm sure they are not going to be that foolish." FS INTERNATIONAL POLICE BEGIN WORK IN KOSOVA. The first 500 international policemen formally assumed their duties in Kosova on 8 August, AP reported. The UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) plans to deploy a total of 3,100 international police. So far, Bangladesh, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Germany, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Sweden, and the U.S have all contributed to the force. Meanwhile, 10 people, including eight Serbs, were injured in four separate grenade attacks that day in various parts of Kosova. In Prishtina on 6 August, KFOR raided the house of the UCK's interior minister, Rexhep Selimi. The peacekeepers found a submachine gun, a hand grenade, ammunition, and 20 radio frequency scanners, along with illegal identity cards, marked "Ministry of Public Order," allowing the holder of the card to make arrests. FS RUGOVA WANTS TO REMAIN KOSOVAR PRESIDENT. Moderate Kosovar leader Ibrahim Rugova told "Der Spiegel" of 6 August that he will run in the Kosova presidential elections in 2000. Rugova was elected as president of the Kosovar shadow state twice in underground elections, namely in 1992 and 1998. He stressed that "I remain the president of Kosova and insist on a direct vote shortly before or after [parliamentary] elections." Rugova added that "within three years we will hold a referendum [on independence]. After that the Serbs can only accept our independence." FS TRAJKOVIC: MILOSEVIC'S DEPARTURE IS KOSOVA'S HOPE. Momcilo Trajkovic, who heads Kosova's Serbian Resistance Movement, said in Belgrade that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic must leave office if Kosova is to remain multiethnic and part of Serbia. He stressed that Serbia must become democratic if the Serbs are to have a future in Kosova, the daily "Danas" reported on 9 August. Trajkovic said that he will seek the establishment of five special "cantons" in the province as an interim solution. Each canton would be multi- ethnic, and Serbs and ethnic Albanians would share political power. The five would be centered on the cities of Prishtina, Mitrovica, Gjilan, Prizren, and Peja. PM GJILAN SERBS BOYCOTT UN AUTHORITY. The local Serbian "Church and People's Committee" in Gjilan has turned down a request by the UN's civilian administration to take part in local government bodies. Committee leaders said that they will not take part in UN-sponsored bodies until the security situation for Serbian civilians improves, "Danas" reported on 9 August. PM MILOSEVIC BLASTS OPPOSITION. Milosevic told a gathering of Serbian emigres in Belgrade on 6 August that his opponents are "corrupt politicians" seeking to destabilize Serbia. He charged that NATO is using those politicians to achieve "the aims it failed to do with 22,000 tons of bombs dropped on our country." On 7 August, Deputy Prime Minister Nikola Sainovic told state-run television that "big powers have their agents in Yugoslavia." He was apparently referring to the opposition. PM SERBIAN OPPOSITION REMAINS ADAMANT. Vladan Batic, who is one of the leaders of the Alliance for Change, told more than 2,000 protesters in Vrbas on 7 August that Milosevic should have responded to his critics sooner. The president has "only now peeked out from his mouse hole to call us traitors. But who is the traitor after all," Batic added. His remarks reflect the view of many Serbs that Milosevic betrayed Serbian interests by provoking and losing a conflict with NATO. In Zabalj, Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic told 800 people that the only way to oust Milosevic is to continue to hold meetings in cities and towns across Serbia, the Frankfurt-based Serbian daily "Vesti" reported. He urged the people to "take their destiny in their hands [and oust] "tyrants, thieves, and criminal gangs." PM DRASKOVIC SAYS TRANSITION MUST BE GRADUAL. Serbian Resistance Movement leader Vuk Draskovic told RFE/RL's South Slavic Service on 7 August that Milosevic will leave office only if there is a "political agreement" between his government and the opposition leading to the establishment of a transitional government. Draskovic added, however, that Milosevic's Prime Minister Momir Bulatovic must resign as soon as possible because Montenegro does not recognize him. PM MOST SERBIAN RESERVISTS END HUNGER STRIKE. Miodrag Stankovic, who heads the local veterans' association in Nis, said on 8 August that out of a group of nine reservists, he is the only one who will continue the hunger strike for back wages (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 August 1999). Stankovic noted that the other men ended their 13-day-old protest on doctors' advice. He added that he has received no response from other veterans to his recent call for a joint protest in Belgrade, Reuters reported. PM CROATIAN ARCHBISHOP IN VOJVODINA. Zagreb's Archbishop Josip Bozanic arrived in Subotica on 7 August for a three-day visit to Vojvodina. He appealed to local Croats to remain in Subotica, "Jutarnji list" reported. PM BOSNIAN SERB LEADER CALLS FOR REVISING BORDER AGREEMENT. Petar Djokic, who is speaker of the Republika Srpska's parliament, said in Banja Luka that the recently signed border delineation agreement between Bosnia and Croatia should be changed (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 August 1999). He stressed that the Una River should form the boundary between the two republics, RFE/RL South Slavic Service reported on 7 August. PM BOSNIAN-CROATIAN BORDER CROSSING OPENS. Representatives of the office of the international community's high representative in Bosnia opened the border crossing near Ivanica on the Dubrovnik-Trebinje road on 6 August. No local Croatian officials took part, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The route linking southern Dalmatia with the eastern part of the Republika Srpska had been closed for eight years. PM CROATIA EXTRADITES WAR CRIMES SUSPECT. Croatian authorities placed Vinko "Stela" Martinovic on a flight bound for The Hague on 9 August. The war crimes tribunal previously indicted him for crimes committed in Bosnia during the 1992-1995 war (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 July 1999). The Croatian authorities' refusal until now to extradite him has been a source of tension between Zagreb and the tribunal. PM MACEDONIA, TAIWAN SIGN ECONOMIC AGREEMENTS. Taiwanese and Macedonian officials signed several economic cooperation agreements in Skopje on 7 and 8 August, AP reported. Taiwan will invest $200 million in a tax-free industrial zone near Skopje. The signing of the agreements came at the end of a visit by Premier Vincent Siew and a high-ranking Taiwanese delegation (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 August 1999). Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov, who is opposed to Macedonia's recognition of Taiwan, refused to meet with Siew. FS ROMANIAN AMBASSADOR HAILS U.S. CONGRESS DRAFT RESOLUTION. Romanian Ambassador to the U.S. Mircea Geoana, in an interview with Romanian Television on 6 August, hailed the draft resolution on Romania that was submitted to the House of Representatives on 3 August but warned not to overestimate its significance, which, Geoana said, is "mainly political." Among other things, the draft says the U.S. will "support Romania's territorial integrity and will insist on that integrity being respected by all neighboring countries" as well as by all political formations in Romania or in other countries. The draft also recommends that the U.S. assist Romania in overcoming the costs incurred by the Kosova war and in rescheduling or writing off debts to foreign creditors. President Emil Constantinescu is currently on a private visit to the U.S. MS MINERS' COMMEMORATION STIRS UP ROMANIAN CONTROVERSY. Former President Ion Iliescu, addressing a gathering in Lupeni, Jiu valley, on 6 August to mark the 70th anniversary of a miners' strike that was quashed by the army, said that "unfortunately, history repeats itself," noting that the current government has again used violence against the miners. Iliescu called on those present to "hold on" till he returns to power and repairs the damage caused by the country's rulers. Alliance for Romania chairman Teodor Melescanu also attended the gathering, an RFE/RL correspondent in Lupeni reported. A Ministry of Defense press release on 7 August said the ministry views the "presence of certain politicians" at the ceremony as "an insult to the army." It said the 1929 miners' strike was a "Comintern provocation" and the army's "energetic intervention" at the time "re-established peace and the rule of the law." MS IMF APPROVES TRANCHE DISBURSEMENT FOR MOLDOVA. The IMF executive board on 6 August approved the disbursement of a $34 million tranche of a $195 million loan approved in 1996, Reuters reported. The board said that the financial crisis in Russia has had a severe impact on Moldova, and it praised the steps taken by Ion Sturza's cabinet toward tightening monetary policy and accelerating privatization and structural reform. But the board added that it is "concerned" about the fact that "domestic arrears continue to mount" and about Moldova's foreign-debt servicing difficulties. It urged Chisinau to "seek a prompt negotiated settlement with its creditors." The conditions for disbursing further tranches include keeping the decline in GDP below 5 percent this year, not allowing inflation to exceed 24.2 percent, and ensuring that the budget deficit is below 3 percent of GDP. MS MOLDOVAN PRO-PRESIDENTIAL PARTY DISTANCES ITSELF FROM LUCINSCHI. The Executive Bureau of the pro- presidential For a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova movement has urged President Petru Lucinschi to renounce the intention to hold a referendum on changing the country's system to a presidential one, Infotag and BASA-press reported on 6 August. The bureau said the presidential initiative might "negatively impact" Moldova's image abroad and that it runs contrary to "the fundamental European democratic principles." It also said it is ready to initiate a debate in the parliament on strengthening the president's executive prerogatives. MS LUKOIL BID SELECTED FOR BULGARIAN REFINERY PRIVATIZATION. LUKoil's bid for a 58 percent stake in the Neftochim refinery, the largest in Bulgaria, has been selected by the Privatization Agency from among several bids, AP and BTA reported on 6 August. The Russian oil giant has undertaken to pay $107 million for the stake and to invest a "much larger" sum in the refinery's modernization. The daily "Demokratsia," cited by AP, said the price of the stake could be revised after LUKoil experts carry out by the end of next month a detailed examination of the refinery and its equipment. MS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Send an email to email@example.com with the word subscribe as the subject of the message. HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word unsubscribe as the subject of the message. 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