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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 162, Part II, 20 August 1999


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 162, Part II, 20 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

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Headlines, Part II

* BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION WANTS SECURITY GUARANTEES FOR
RETURNEES

* MASSIVE TURNOUT FOR BELGRADE RALLY

* STATE DEPARTMENT OBJECTS TO BOSNIAN CORRUPTION REPORT

End Note: UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN -- SEEKING A
DISTINCTIVE IMAGE
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION WANTS SECURITY GUARANTEES FOR
RETURNEES. The Belarusian opposition parties involved in the
preparation of a political dialogue with the authorities are
to create four experts groups. The parties pledged on 19
August to propose candidates for the opposition negotiation
team by the end of this month. They also made the talks
conditional on the authorities' providing security guarantees
to political refugees who left Belarus from 1996-1999 and
decide to return home now. Another condition, laid down by
the opposition a week earlier, is that the opposition be
given access to the state media. JM

UKRAINIAN INCUMBENT PRESIDENT STARTS RE-ELECTION CAMPAIGN. "I
can say only today that I have started working for the future
election," President Leonid Kuchma told journalists on 19
August, after visiting Ukraine's famous Sorochynskyy Fair in
Myrhorod, Poltava Oblast. Kuchma, who was accompanied by
Moldovan President Petru Lucinschi, noted that the
presidential campaign is "becoming a negative factor in
Ukraine's life," primarily because of the "frenzied, dirty"
criticism by other presidential candidates of the incumbent,
the "Eastern Economic Daily" reported. "They resort to
methods originally used by the KGB," Kuchma commented (see
also "End Note" below). JM

UKRAINE'S TALKS WITH IMF UNSUCCESSFUL? Ukrainian Deputy Prime
Minister Serhiy Tyhypko said on 19 August that he "cannot
regard the recent talks with the IMF a success," the "Eastern
Economic Daily" reported. Tyhypko added that Ukraine complied
with all but one of the IMF requirements for obtaining the
next IMF loan tranche. The exception is the increase in
tariffs on public utilities. According to Tyhypko, the IMF
has approved the Ukrainian cabinet's effort to balance the
budget, which was the key issue in negotiations with the IMF
mission in Kyiv last month. The fund is to decide on
releasing its next tranche to Ukraine in September. JM

WHO'S PROUD TO BE UKRAINIAN? The Social Monitoring Center has
conducted a poll in eight oblasts--Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk,
Khmelnytskyy, Kyiv, Luhansk, Lviv, Odesa, and Simferopol, --
on the attitude of Ukrainians toward their country's
independence, UNIAN reported on 19 August. The poll showed
that 46 percent of respondents were positive about Ukraine's
independence, 38 percent were negative, 8 percent remained
indifferent, and 8 percent could not make up their minds. In
addition, 46 percent or respondents were proud to be citizens
of independent Ukraine and 40 percent were not. JM

ESTONIAN RULING COALITION TO ABOLISH CORPORATE INCOME TAX.
"Postimees" and "Eesti Paevaleht" reported on 19 August that
the three-party governing coalition has agreed to abolish the
corporate income tax, effective 1 January 2000. In order to
fill the resulting shortfall in the 2000 state budget, which
Finance Minister Siim Kallas estimates at 800-900 million
kroons ($54-60 million), the government plans to step up
collection of other taxes and introduce protective tariffs on
all food imported from non-EU countries. Abolition of the
corporate income tax is a major political victory for
Kallas's Reform Party. It was originally opposed by the other
coalition members, the Moderate Party and Fatherland Union.
MJZ

LATVIANS ABROAD TO BE ABLE TO SIGN PENSION REFERENDUM
PETITION. Latvia's Central Election Commission announced on
19 August that Latvian citizens in 28 countries other than
Latvia will also be able to take part in the upcoming
petition for a referendum on the highly unpopular pension
reform recently adopted by the Latvian parliament, according
to LETA and BNS. The pension reforms, adopted as part of
Prime Minister Andris Skele's austerity budget, would make it
illegal for Latvia's 640,000 pensioners to hold jobs while
receiving a pension and would raise the minimum pension age
for all Latvian residents to 62 from the current 55 for women
and 60 for men. The petition drive will take place from 6
September through 5 October. MJZ

LATVIA, WORLD BANK SIGN EDUCATION IMPROVEMENT LOAN. Latvian
government and World Bank officials on 19 August signed a
loan agreement to help fund a nearly $40 million program to
repair Latvia's run-down schools, develop content and
performance standards, and establish systems for controlling
costs at both the national and local levels, according to
LETA and BNS. The World Bank is providing $31.1 million in
long-term, low-cost financing to support the program. MJZ

LITHUANIA'S LANDSBERGIS IN TROUBLE OVER LAND SALE. Lithuanian
parliamentary leader Vytautas Landsbergis may face a criminal
investigation into the alleged falsification of his 1998
property and income declaration, ELTA and BNS reported on 19
August. Landsbergis is alleged to have bought property in a
prestigious residential district in Vilnius at a price below
the market value. He says he bought the property in
accordance with a law granting signatories of Lithuania's
1990 Independence Restoration Act the right to buy land at
significantly reduced prices. His purchase of the 9 acre plot
does not appear, however, in a version of Landsbergis' income
declaration published in the government newspaper "Valstybes
Zinios." The opposition Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party is
calling for Landsbergis to resign from the parliament. MJZ

POLISH, SLOVAK PRESIDENTS TO BE 'PATRONS' OF COOPERATION.
Aleksander Kwasniewski and his Slovak counterpart, Rudolf
Schuster, pledged in Warsaw on 19 August to assume the
"patronage" of cooperation between the two countries as well
as between small and medium-sized firms, PAP reported.
Schuster, who proposed the patronage initiative, said the
Slovak-Polish border should be open in line with the Schengen
agreements. Kwasniewski assured Schuster that Poland will
support Slovakia's bid for NATO and EU membership and share
with Bratislava its experience in European integration. JM

SLOVAK PRIVATIZATION SCANDAL SETTLED OUT OF COURT? Lawyers
representing businessman Vladimir Poor have submitted to the
National Property Fund (FNM) a written statement in which
Poor says he has canceled all contracts for the sale of the
Nafta Gbely refinery to Konsorcium IPB-All, which represents
the Cincinnati-based Cinergy Company, SITA reported on 19
August. The lawyers and the FNM agreed that Poor's 45.9
percent stake in Nafta Gbely will be transferred back to the
FNM in an out-of-court settlement. SITA reported that the
settlement will be sealed on 23 August (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 30 June 1999). MS

SLOVAK JUSTICE MINISTER SAYS NO AMNESTY FOR BILAK. Jan
Carnogursky on 19 August said he "doubts" that the amnesty
announced by President Schuster at his inauguration can apply
to former Czechoslovak Communist Party chief ideologist Vasil
Bilak. Carnogursky said the amnesty applies to those who
committed crimes punishable by up to one year in jail,
whereas Bilak is charged with high treason. He commented that
Schuster may, however, grant Bilak an individual pardon.
Bilak's lawyers say the amnesty applies to their client
because it extends to those aged 65 and over. The Prosecutor-
General's Office has not yet decided whether to recommend
that Schuster pardon Bilak (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"18 August
1999). MS

HUNGARIAN PREMIER SAYS MAGYARS EVERYWHERE ARE 'ONE NATION.'
Viktor Orban, speaking at the 19 August inauguration of the
new Office for Hungarians Beyond Borders, said that his
government "cannot accept anything less than a guarantee that
Hungarians living beyond our borders are granted the full
opportunity to education and cultural fulfillment" in their
mother tongue. Orban said that "all the citizens of Hungary
and the Hungarians beyond its borders are members of a single
and indivisible nation," MTI reported. MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

MASSIVE TURNOUT FOR BELGRADE RALLY... Some 150,000 people
attended a demonstration in Belgrade on 19 August to demand
the resignation of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.
Several opposition leaders, academics, and Serbian Orthodox
clerics addressed the gathering. Democratic Party leader
Zoran Djindjic told enthusiastic listeners that the
opposition will hold daily street protests if Milosevic does
not resign within two weeks. Observers noted that the
Yugoslav leader is unlikely to bow to his opponents' demands.
The opposition's main hope is to encourage Milosevic's
colleagues and supporters to abandon the Yugoslav leader and
join the opposition in daily displays of "people's power" on
the streets of Serbia's main cities and towns. PM

...INCLUDING DRASKOVIC. Vuk Draskovic, who is the mercurial
leader of the Serbian Renewal Movement, unexpectedly turned
up at the 19 August Belgrade gathering. He told listeners
that no one should attempt to "take power from the streets,"
calling instead for early elections to be held by the end of
November. Draskovic said recently that he would not attend
the meeting. One of his spokesmen told the BBC on 20 August
that Draskovic "happened to be in the center of Belgrade" and
was "compelled" by supporters to speak to the crowd.
Observers suggested that he may have intended to address the
gathering all along but did not make his intentions known
until the last minute in order to increase the dramatic
effect. He may also have wanted to reaffirm his standing as
an opposition leader in the wake of rumors that he recently
made a deal with Milosevic to hold early elections (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 19 August 1999). PM

CEKU SAYS UCK MEETS DISARMAMENT DEADLINE... General Agim
Ceku, who is chief of the General Staff of the Kosova
Liberation Army (UCK), said in Prishtina on 19 August that
the UCK has met NATO's second deadline for its disarmament,
an RFE/RL South Slavic Service correspondent reported. Ceku
pledged to complete the UCK's demilitarization by 19
September, which is the scheduled end of the third and final
phase of disarmament. An unidentified KFOR official told
Reuters "I don't think there will be any problem with our
saying that they have met the deadline, but we can't announce
it officially yet." In June, the UCK pledged to hand in by 19
August all heavy weapons, all long-barreled weapons, such as
Kalashnikov rifles, and 60 percent of all automatic small
arms. FS

...CRITICIZES UN POLICE RECRUITMENT. Also on19 August,
Ceku criticized the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) for
including only a small number of former UCK members
among the first group of local police recruits.
According to dpa, only three UCK members have been
accepted in the initial recruiting stage for the force.
Some 200 people have been recruited during this first
stage. The recruits will undergo five weeks of training
at a police academy scheduled to be inaugurated on 21
August. Ceku stressed that "since it was founded, the
Kosova Liberation Army has made it very clear that it is
determined to achieve a democratic society in Kosova,
which will be multi-ethnic and based on tolerance and
respect for diversity," Reuters reported. FS

KOSOVARS DISCOVER MORE MASS GRAVES. Ethnic Albanians
discovered a mass grave site near Dragodan on 19 August,
AP reported. Fadil Batalli, director of Prishtina's
Forensic Institute, said that the bodies of up to 200
ethnic Albanians may be buried there. KFOR spokesman
Roland Lavoie said KFOR troops will notify the
International Criminal Tribunal for the Former
Yugoslavia about the site. FS

ALBANIAN TELECOM TO EXTEND LINES INTO KOSOVA. Albanian
Prime Minister Pandeli Majko said in Tirana on 19 August
that the state-owned Albanian Telecom will invest
$200,000 to establish a microwave telephone link between
Albania and Kosova and to install 30 pay phones in
Gjakova, an RFE/RL South Slavic Service correspondent
reported. Majko made the remarks after a meeting of
Telecom's board of directors. Majko recalled that in
late July the governments of Albania and Montenegro
agreed to link Shkodra and Podgorica with a fiber-optic
telephone cable. He expressed hope that the two projects
will promote regional integration. The Albanian
government is planning to build similar links with
Macedonia and Greece, Reuters reported. FS

OVER 1,000 KOSOVAR ROMA ARRIVE IN ITALY. A fishing-boat
carrying more than 1,100 Roma refugees, mostly from Kosova,
arrived at Italy's southern coast on 19 August. The boat
contained mostly women and children. FS

STATE DEPARTMENT OBJECTS TO BOSNIAN CORRUPTION REPORT...
State Department spokesman James Rubin said in Washington on
19 August that a recent report in "The New York Times" on
corruption in Bosnia-Herzegovina exaggerated the extent of
the problem (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 August 1999). He
added: "It's hard enough to get support in this country for
foreign assistance as it is. To have a false and unjustified
and unsubstantiated perception that a billion dollars in
foreign aid money has been stolen by the Bosnians...harms
that cause.... We would like to see corrective measures taken
that create the truth and not this false perception," Rubin
noted. PM

...BUT 'NEW YORK TIMES' STANDS ITS GROUND. "The New York
Times" Foreign Editor Andrew Rosenthal told Reuters on 19
August that, after talks with Rubin, the newspaper will
publish corrections to three "details" of its story.
Rosenthal stressed, however, that its story is largely
correct. "We have reviewed all of [Rubin's'] complaints and
found a couple of minor points on which we think we made
factual errors, which we are going to correct in the paper
tonight. The basic premise of the story is completely sound,"
the foreign editor noted. The previous day, the paper wrote
that all of the "lost" $1 billion was international aid. U.S.
government spokesmen have said that the aid component of the
money embezzled is a tiny proportion, perhaps less than 2
percent. A spokeswoman for the international community's
Wolfgang Petritsch said recently in Sarajevo that most of the
stolen funds were Bosnian public money. PM

CONTROVERSY CONTINUES OVER BOSNIAN CORRUPTION. Chris Hedges,
who wrote the article on corruption for 'The New York Times,"
said that he stands by his story, RFE/RL's South Slavic
Service reported on 20 August. He rejected recent charges by
Bosnian Muslim leader Alija Izetbegovic that the article
constitutes a "witch hunt against the Bosnian authorities."
In Banja Luka, Republika Srpska Deputy Prime Minister Ostoja
Kremanovic said that "corruption does not exist" in the
Bosnian Serb entity. He acknowledged, however, that there may
be "isolated cases" in which individuals have used their
public office for personal gain. PM

ROMANIAN PREMIER SAYS 'NO ALTERNATIVE' TO ECONOMIC POLICY. In
an interview with RFE/RL on 19 August, Prime Minister Radu
Vasile said there is no alternative to the government's
austerity program. He noted that the National Peasant Party
Christian Democratic (PNTCD) may have to pay the political
price for the austerity program but added that any government
formed after the 2000 elections will have to pursue the same
policy and respect the conditions the IMF has imposed on
Romania. Vasile added that the PNTCD must "take into
consideration the country's realities." If it wants to stay
in power after 2000, the PNTCD cannot ignore the political
strength of social democracy, he said. He explained that this
does not "necessarily" mean, however, that the PNTCD must
form a coalition with the Party of Social Democracy in
Romania, which, he said, many had understood him to be
advocating. MS

ROMANIAN MENINGITIS EPIDEMIC CONTINUES SPREADING. Some 200
new cases of meningitis are registered in Romania every day,
according to data released by the Health Ministry, RFE/RL's
Bucharest bureau reported. The number of registered cases now
totals 2,160, of which 77 percent are under the age of 19.
Meanwhile, an epidemic of chronic conjunctivitis has broken
out, with most cases being registered in Bucharest. MS

MOLDOVAN HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS MAY RECEIVE COMPENSATION.
Moldovan Jews and Roma who survived the Holocaust may become
eligible for compensation under the $1.25 billion collective
suit filed in the U.S. against Swiss banks, according to Olga
Tichovskaya, coordinator of the compensation information
program for Roma. Flux on 18 August reported her as saying
that her task is "extremely difficult" because about one-
third of Moldovan Roma are illiterate. Therefore, the
information will also be disseminated by enlisting the help
of the four Moldovan Roma ethnic organizations. According to
unofficial estimates, about 100,000 Roma live in Moldova. MS

BULGARIA COUNTS ON NATO MEMBERSHIP BY 2004. Bulgaria believes
it will be invited to begin NATO membership talks in 2001 and
that the negotiations will be successfully concluded by 2004,
Deputy Defense Minister Velizar Shalamanov said on 19 August,
according to ITAR-TASS. The same day, the Bulgarian Defense
Ministry released an "action plan for NATO membership," in
line with U.S. suggestions for countries seeking NATO
admission. The plan is divided into five sections that deal
with political, economic, defense, legal, and security
issues. Shalamanov said a program will be worked out next
year that includes specific target dates and how the funds
will be provided to meet those dates. He added that the goal
of the plan is to demonstrate the irreversibility of military
reforms in line with the NATO principles of civilian control
over the army and of operational capability. MS

END NOTE

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: SEEKING A DISTINCTIVE IMAGE

by Jan Maksymiuk

	By the 1 August deadline, Ukraine's Central Electoral
Commission had registered nine candidates for the 31 October
presidential elections: President Leonid Kuchma,
parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Tkachenko, Communist Party
leader Petro Symonenko, Socialist Party leader Oleksandr
Moroz, Progressive Socialist Party chairwoman Natalya
Vitrenko, former Premier Yevhen Marchuk, Cherkasy Mayor
Volodymyr Oliynyk, as well as Hennadiy Udovenko and Yuriy
Kostenko, leaders of the two splinter groups of the Popular
Rukh.
	Following complaints by six other aspirants, the Supreme
Court ordered the commission also to register Social
Democratic Party leader Vasyl Onopenko, Mykola Haber of the
Patriotic Party, Oleksandr Rzhavskyy of the Single Fatherland
party, Oleksandr Bazylyuk of the Slavic Party, Vitaliy
Kononov of the Green Party, and Yuriy Karmazin of the Party
of the Fatherland's Defenders.
	The sheer number of presidential hopefuls makes an
analysis of their election prospects a complicated task.
Moreover, virtually all of the incumbent president's main
rivals come from the left of the political spectrum, as a
result of which their election programs are frequently
similar, if not identical, on a variety of issues. But this
state of affairs is problematic not only for analysts. The
candidates themselves are experiencing difficulties forging
their own distinctive political identity among the dozen or
so competitors. For this reason, the main candidates are not
only presenting their political platforms but are also
seeking to project a "mythologized" image. Such images are
usually limited to a handful of slogans, but it seems that
such devices may be at least as important as official
programs in mustering votes on 31 October.
	Incumbent President Kuchma is constantly present in the
Ukrainian media and therefore has no need to seek to project
his image in any special way. His re-election bid is
handicapped, however, by Ukraine's disastrous economic
situation. While keeping silent on economic issues, Kuchma's
image-makers advertise him as a world statesman and the only
Ukrainian politician who has some clout in the West.
According to them, Kuchma is the only guarantor of Ukraine's
transformation, and his re-election would mean the
continuation of current reforms.
	Communist Party leader Symonenko lacks luster as a
politician, but his assets include the unwavering support of
the largest caucus in the parliament as well as that of
disillusioned pensioners and the unemployed, who are openly
nostalgic for the Soviet era. Symonenko promotes himself as
the defender of the "ordinary people," an enemy of
international financial organizations, and a proponent of
Ukraine's integration with Russia and Belarus.
	Progressive Socialist Party chairwoman Vitrenko is the
most radical and populist presidential candidate among those
on the left wing. While earlier she had vehemently promoted
herself as the only "true Marxist" in Ukraine, she now
prefers to underscore her economic education and doctorate.
Her "reform" program advocates reintroducing a command
economy, halting privatization, and breaking all relations
with the IMF and the World Bank. She sharply criticizes both
Communist Symonenko and Socialist Moroz as "opportunists" and
"betrayers" of the socialist idea.
	Socialist Party leader Moroz trails far behind Symonenko
and Vitrenko in the polls, but this has not stopped him from
asserting that he is the only leftist candidate able to
defeat Kuchma. (It is expected that no candidate will win the
first round of elections on 31 October and that Kuchma will
face a left-wing rival two weeks later.) Moroz claims to be a
moderate leftist who can attract communist, socialist, and
social democratic votes. His party's newspaper, "Tovarysh"
(Comrade), promotes him as an "intelligent" and "decent" man.
	Former Premier Marchuk is presented--especially by the
newspaper "Den," which he sponsors--as a "strongman," a kind
of Ukrainian General de Gaulle, whom the country urgently
needs as it sinks into socio-economic chaos and is plagued by
widespread corruption. Marchuk's campaigners make much of his
former capacity as Ukraine's Security Service chairman--with
the rank of general, no less--as proof that he is able to do
away with corruption. (By the same token, they fail to
mention his Soviet KGB activities). His main election slogan
affirms that Ukraine can overcome the current crisis "on its
own." He also tries to pose as a centrist equally suited to
representing both the western ("nationalist") and eastern
(more Russia-oriented) parts of Ukraine.
	While Tkachenko emphasizes his grass-roots origins and
political career (he was born into a peasant family and
ascended all steps of the Soviet state and party hierarchy,
from raion party secretary to first deputy prime minister),
he projects the image of the people's savior (who has a
program of economic revival until 2015) and of a statesman
equal in rank and importance to the incumbent president. "I
am not the first person in Ukraine, but neither am I the
second" is his well-publicized self-appraisal. Tkachenko is
also another staunch supporter of Ukrainian integration with
Russia and Belarus.
	Other candidates appear less outspoken than the six
"heavyweights" listed above. However, their role in the
overall distribution of votes on 31 October should not be
underestimated. While lacking significant electoral support
and/or distinctive media images, they may nonetheless have an
influence on the final tallies of those leading the polls.
And by voicing their preferences for the anticipated second
round, they may tip the election balance in favor of one of
the two final candidates.

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