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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 167, Part II, 27 August 1999
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 167, Part II, 27 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 * LITHUANIAN COURT SENTENCES COUP PLOTTERS * NEGOTIATIONS CONTINUE IN RAHOVEC * MILOSEVIC SAYS U.S. BEHIND DRUG TRADE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE BELARUS SAYS OPPOSITIONIST WORSENING TIES WITH LITHUANIA. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry on 26 August said that the activities of Syamyon Sharetski, speaker of the opposition Supreme Soviet, "are aimed at further deepening the confrontation in Belarusian society and worsening Belarusian- Lithuanian relations," Belarusian Television reported. Sharetski fled to Vilnius in July, saying it was not safe for him to remain in Belarus. Sharetski announced this week that all documents signed by President Alyaksandr Lukashenka after 20 July are illegal because Lukashenka's legitimate term has ended. According to the ministry, Sharetski's announcement is "illegal" and "provocative" and aims at impeding the OSCE- mediated "constructive dialogue" between the authorities and the opposition. JM WILL FORMER BELARUSIAN PREMIER BE RELEASED FROM JAIL? Mikhail Sazonau, head of the government delegation for the talks with the opposition, told oppositionist Anatol Lyabedzka on 26 August that former Prime Minister Mikhail Chyhir's release from jail "could become a gesture of good will" on the part of the authorities ahead of the talks, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. According to an RFE/RL correspondent in Minsk, Lukashenka authorized Sazonau's meeting with Lyabedzka, which suggests that the idea of freeing Chyhir may come from the president himself. Chyhir, who challenged the Lukashenka regime by participating in the opposition presidential elections this year, was arrested in late April on charges of embezzlement. No official charges have been brought against him so far. JM UKRAINIAN SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS DEATH SENTENCE ON SERIAL KILLER. The Supreme Court on 26 August rejected the appeal to commute the death sentence handed down to serial killer Anatoliy Onopriyenko to life imprisonment. Onopriyenko was sentenced in April after being found guilty of 52 murders. However, Onopriyenko may avoid execution because in 1997 Ukraine introduced a moratorium on carrying out the capital punishment. The Council of Europe is urging Ukraine to abolish the death sentence. There are "more than 410 persons" currently on death row in Ukraine, according to ITAR-TASS. JM UKRAINIAN DEPUTY PREMIER URGES ZERO DEFICIT BUDGET FOR 2000. Deputy Premier Serhiy Tyhypko said on 26 August that a "zero budget deficit should be approved for next year's budget," the "Eastern Economic Daily" reported. Tyhypko argued that if the parliament approves a large budget deficit, the government will have to take out foreign loans to cover it. He added that the cabinet does not plan to issue any T-bills in the near future. JM MINIMUM WAGE TO INCREASE IN ESTONIA. The government, the Employers' and Industry Central Union, and the trade unions have agreed to boost the minimum monthly wage from the current 1,250 kroons ($83) to 1,400 kroons, ETA reported on 26 August. The agreement is to go into effect as of 1 January 2000. AB LATVIAN PRESIDENT SAYS PENSION REFORM 'RESTS WITH PEOPLE.' "Lauku Avize" on 26 August quoted Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga as saying the fate of recently adopted changes to the country's pension law "rests with the people." Vike- Freiberga expressed her view that Latvia's retirement age is very low and that residents must understand that, sooner or later, it will rise. She also criticized the practice of granting companies discounts on pension contributions, stating "it is especially unacceptable that employers not only refuse to pay their share" of pension costs "but neglect to transfer employee [pension] contributions as well." MJZ FINLAND PROVIDE FUNDS FOR LATIVAN STATE LANGUAGE PROGRAM. The Finnish Government has earmarked $100,000 for implementation of Latvia's state language program, BNS reported on 26 August. Finnish Ambassador Hannu Hemelainen informed Latvian Education and Science Minister Silva Golde of that decision when the two met to discuss Latvian-Finnish cooperation in education and science. The previous day, OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Max van der Stoel promised to help secure the $1.3 million needed to fully fund the program (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 August 1999). AB LITHUANIAN COURT SENTENCES COUP PLOTTERS... A Lithuanian court has found six people guilty of complicity in the 13 January 1991 coup attempt. ELTA reported on 26 August that the court took into account the old age and weak health of some of the defendants when it imposed sentences ranging from three to 12 years. The defendants are former leaders and officials of the pro-Soviet Lithuanian Communist Party. They were found guilty, among other things, of organizing premeditated acts of murder, inflicting serious bodily harm, and setting up anti-state organizations. Defense lawyers said they will appeal the court's decision. Forty-five people charged with the same crimes are in hiding in Russia and elsewhere in the former Soviet Union. AB ...PROMPTING CRITICISM FROM RUSSIAN POLITICIAN. BNS reported that State Duma deputy Yurii Kuznetsov strongly condemned the verdict, saying that in the future the Baltic states will be answerable for taking such actions. A member of Vladimir Zhirinovskii's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, Kuznetsov told BNS, "The sentences are severe indeed. History is moving round in circles like a blind horse in a pit." Earlier this week, ELTA reported that Russian diplomats in Vilnius had publicly warned Lithuanian officials that handing down severe sentences could "mar bilateral relations." AB POLISH TRADE UNION LEADER ANNOUNCES 100,000-STRONG RALLY. Jozef Wiaderny, leader of the left-wing National Trade Union Accord, told journalists on 26 August that some 100,000 people are expected to participate in a demonstration in Warsaw on 24 September. "The demonstration is directed against the government's socio-economic policy. The government has no social support and should resign," PAP quoted Wiaderny as saying. JM POLISH DEFENSE OFFICIAL SUSPECTED OF TIES WITH COMMUNIST SECRET SERVICES. "Rzeczpospolita" reported on 26 August that Lustration Prosecutor Boguslaw Nizienski has begun examining the lustration statements of four officials who denied ties with communist-era secret services. One of the officials suspected of such ties is Deputy Defense Minister Robert Mroziewicz. Mroziewicz is responsible for foreign cooperation and integration with NATO in the ministry. From 1992-1995, he was deputy foreign minister. JM CZECH PRESIDENT CRITICIZES GOVERNMENT BILL. Vaclav Havel on 26 August expressed reservations about the government bill on regional self-governments, which the cabinet had approved the previous day, CTK reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 August 1997). "I believe it is enough that we have two central parliaments and we do not need fourteen more," Havel commented, referring to the provision that regional authorities will have between 40 and 60 members. This, he said, will lead to an unwarranted "politicization" of local government affairs. MS POPE INVITED TO SLOVAKIA. Foreign Ministry State Secretary Jan Figel has handed to Apostolic Nuncio Luigi Dossdena a formal invitation from Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda asking Pope Paul John II to visit Slovakia. Dzurinda said the Slovak government wants to conclude an agreement with the Vatican "soon." He added that the visit would confirm Slovakia's "repeated desire" to be part of "a Europe that developed on Christian foundations," SITA reported. MS SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTER EXPLAINS KOVAC JR.'S EMPLOYMENT. Eduard Kukan on 26 August "resolutely" rejected allegations by the opposition Movement for a Democratic Slovakia that former President Michal Kovac's son is being employed at the Foreign Ministry in order to protect him from prosecution in Germany, CTK reported. Kukan said that Michal Kovac Jr. is not the holder of a diplomatic passport and that his position in the ministry's consular section is "at the lowest possible level" and does not protect him from prosecution. Kovac Jr. is suspected of financial fraud in Germany, where his trial is to start in the fall. MS HUNGARY, SLOVAKIA TO REBUILD DANUBE BRIDGE. Officials from the Hungarian and Slovak Transport Ministries on 25 August initialed a bilateral agreement to rebuild the bridge over the River Danube between Esztergom and Sturovo. Sandor Gyurkovics, Hungarian state secretary at the Ministry of Transport, said the project to rebuild the bridge, which was destroyed in World War II, will cost some $16 million. Construction is planned to start in spring 2000 and to be completed by the end of 2001. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE NEGOTIATIONS CONTINUE IN RAHOVEC. Captain Mike Bos, who is a spokesman for the Dutch forces in Rahovec, told Reuters on 27 August that negotiations between Albanian protesters and KFOR will continue later in the day. Bos said "we're not expecting some sort of breakthrough.... We're just keeping the talks going." The previous day, local Serbs and Albanians participated in the talks. Meanwhile, ethnic Albanians continued their blockade of the city for the fifth day, preventing the deployment of Russian troops there (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 August 1999). FS KFOR FINDS MASS GRAVE WITH SUSPECTED SERBIAN BODIES. KFOR soldiers have discovered a mass grave in the village of Uglar, near Gjilan, containing 11 bodies presumed to be those of Serbs. The soldiers also found four more bodies above ground about 600 meters from that location, an RFE/RL South Slavic Service correspondent reported on 26 August. A KFOR official said that the victims were killed after the arrival of KFOR troops in Kosova in June. Local Serbs identified three of the victims. A team of forensic experts working for the Hague-based war crimes tribunal has begun investigations. Yugoslav Foreign Minister Zivadin Jovanovic issued a statement saying that KFOR "must thoroughly change [its] conduct and abandon patronage of the separatist and terrorist organization," by which he meant the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK), AP reported. He also called for an urgent session of the UN Security Council to review the role of KFOR. The KFOR spokesman said that there is no evidence to suggest UCK involvement in the killings. FS SERBIAN TOWN COUNCIL PLEDGES SCHOOLING FOR REFUGEES. Zivojin Pavlovic, who chairs the town council of Medvedja, said that all Kosova Serb refugee children there have the right to enroll in local schools, "Danas" reported on 27 August. More than 100 children have registered for the new school year, the newspaper added. Medvedja is in southern Serbia near the border with Kosova. The Serbian authorities have generally not allowed refugee children to enroll in schools near their current places of residence. The government wants refugees to return to Kosova. PM MILOSEVIC SAYS U.S. BEHIND DRUG TRADE. Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic said in a statement on 26 August that Washington is in "alliance with murderers, drug traffickers, and terrorists" of the UCK. He added that "all steps by the American government so far in [Kosova]--especially founding and organizing the terrorist [UCK], organizing arms and drug trade--indicate a planned, deliberate criminalization of the entire region and of Europe." Referring to the mass grave of 13 Serbs, Milosevic argued that "this crime was....hidden for more than a month." That "proves [U.S.] protection of the criminals, which by all standards amounts to being an accomplice," AP reported. Observers noted that this is the Yugoslav president's strongest attack on Washington yet. He most likely intended it for a domestic political audience. PM NO SPLITS IN PRO-MILOSEVIC RANKS? Ivica Dacic, who is a spokesman for Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia, told a Belgrade press conference on 26 August that "our party has had no disunity in the last 10 years" since Milosevic took power. Dacic denied rumors that Serbian President Milan Milutinovic is in poor health. Observers note that there has been much speculation recently in the private Belgrade press regarding the possible extent of splits in the ranks of Milosevic's supporters. Western countries will not issue visas to 308 of them, and this ban has caused considerable difficulties for Milosevic backers with business interests abroad. PM DJINDJIC THREATENS TO QUIT POLITICS. Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic told the Belgrade mass-circulation daily "Blic" of 26 August that he will leave political life if Milosevic is not out of power by the end of 1999. Later in Sofia, he expressed support for the cantonization of Kosova on ethnic lines (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 August 1999). Djindjic said that cantons are already a "reality." He called them "necessary" because "Serbs need self-rule. They cannot be governed by Albanians." Observers note that one of the causes of Serbia's 1991 war against Croatia was the refusal of the Serbian minority there to live in a state in which Serbs were governed by others. PM PENSIONERS URGE MILOSEVIC TO RETIRE. Several hundred retired persons protested in Belgrade on 26 August because they have not received their pensions since May. "Retire, Milosevic!" was the motto of the gathering, "Danas" reported. PM BEATEN SERBIAN DISSIDENT FINALLY HAS SURGERY. Bogoljub Arsenijevic, who led anti-Milosevic protests in Valjevo in July, has undergone surgery for a broken jaw, the Frankfurt- based Serbian daily "Vesti" reported on 27 August. Belgrade police beat and arrested Arsenijevic on 17 August (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 August 1999). His friends subsequently claimed that the police held him incommunicado and denied him medical attention. PM FRENCH COURT ORDERS RELEASE OF SUSPECTED PRO-SERBIAN SPY. A Paris appeals court ordered the release of suspected French spy Major Pierre Bunel pending the outcome of an investigation. Bunel was working as an officer at NATO headquarters in Brussels until October 1998, when he was arrested on the suspicion that he gave Belgrade secret documents on plans for NATO air strikes. FS BELGRADE CALLS TALIC ARREST 'KIDNAPPING.' The Yugoslav Foreign Ministry issued a statement on 26 August in which it called the arrest of Bosnian Serb General Momir Talic and his deportation to The Hague a "kidnapping" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 August 1999). The statement added: "This is an unprecedented trick, reminiscent of the dark era of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages and not of a Europe on the threshold of the third millennium. It was carried out with the assistance of Austria. By its complicity in this crime, Austria, which holds the position of high representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, fully exposed its anti-Serb stance," Reuters reported. At his Belgrade press conference, Dacic said that the OSCE, which sponsored the conference at which Talic was arrested, "showed itself to be an ordinary dirty weapon in the hands of the U.S. administration." PM U.S. WARNS CROATIA ON WAR CRIMES. State Department spokesman James Foley said in Washington on 26 August that Croatia faces "the gravest possible consequences" if it does not improve its cooperation with the Hague-based war crimes tribunal (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 August 1999). Foley specifically mentioned that Washington is "not convinced" by Zagreb's claim that indicted war criminal Mladen "Tuta" Naletilic is too ill to stand trial either in Croatia or The Hague. PM ALBANIAN POLICE FREES GREEK HOSTAGE. Albanian police freed Giorgos Laliotis, the son of a Greek entrepreneur, near Tepelena on 26 August and arrested 10 suspected hostage- takers. Laliotis was kidnapped three months ago. The kidnappers had demanded a $262,000 ransom payment, AP reported. FS ALBANIAN MINISTER REJECTS 'UNIFICATION' OF EDUCATION. Education Minister Ethem Ruka told an RFE/RL correspondent in Tirana on 26 August that his government's initiative to improve cooperation with Albanian-language schools and universities in Kosova, Macedonia, and Montenegro must not be misunderstood as an attempt to impose Albania's education system on neighboring countries' Albanian-speaking populations (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 August 1999). He said that the intention is to create a framework in which the schools and universities will recognize the validity of each other's examinations and diplomas. He stressed, however, that Albania does not want to create a "unified" education system for all Albanian-speakers in the Balkans. He said the priority is to help ethnic Albanians in the neighboring countries with expertise in drawing up their own education programs. FS INCREASING ATTACKS ON ALBANIAN ORTHODOX CHURCHES. Unidentified persons have damaged or desecrated more than 10 Orthodox churches and monasteries over the past two years in Albania, dpa reported. The Albanian Helsinki Committee issued a report on 26 August saying that some buildings have been blown up by explosives, burned down, or subjected to theft and desecration. It added that "these acts of vandalism are a dangerous attack against the old, civilized tradition of religious tolerance in Albania." The statement warned that the attacks could undermine harmony between Muslim, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox Albanians. FS ROMANIAN SENATE FAILS TO DEBATE LAND RESTITUTION BILL. A 26 August extraordinary session of the Senate adjourned without its members debating the law on the restitution of land nationalized by the Communists and incorporated into State Agricultural Farms. The decision not to debate the law was taken after two Senate commissions failed to draw up final recommendations to the house. On 24 August, the Judicial Commission had decided that restitution should be limited to 50 hectares per family, instead of per person, as envisaged by the government-sponsored bill. The next day, however, the Agricultural Commission--on which the opposition has a majority--limited restitution to 10 hectares per family The recommendations are not binding on the house, which will resume debate on the law at regular session early next month. MS MOLDOVA, TRANSDNIESTER DECORATE GAZPROM CHIEF. Acting on President Petru Lucinschi's behalf, Moldovan Ambassador to Russia Valeriu Bobutac on 23 August decorated Gazprom chief Rem Vyakhirev with the "Glory of Labor" order on the occasion of the latter's 65th birthday, Flux reported on 26 August, citing "Nezavisimaya gazeta." The order was conveyed for Vyakhirev's "contribution to solving Moldova's energy problems."On 21 August, Transdniester leader Igor Smirnov awarded Vyakhirev the "Order of the Republic" for his contribution to ensuring energy supplies for the breakaway region. MS BESSARABIAN METROPOLITAN CHURCH DISPUTE ERUPTING AGAIN. Government spokesman Nicolae Chirtoaca on 26 August said the problem of the Bessarabian Metropolitan Church must be resolved in negotiations between the Romanian and the Moscow Patriarchates. Chirtoaca said the position of Ion Sturza's cabinet on recognizing the Church is "a continuation" of that taken by Andrei Sangheli's cabinet, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. In July, Sturza turned down the Bucharest- subordinated Church's renewed registration, saying the Church is a "splinter-group of the [Moscow-subordinated] Moldovan Orthodox Church." A lawyer representing the Bessarabian Church expressed confidence that the complaint lodged in January at the European Court of Justice will be successful. MS BALKAN PEACE FORCE TAKES SHAPE IN BULGARIA. "I am honored to work for regional stability and security, all the more so since several southeastern European countries are pooling their efforts for the first time in a common cause, guaranteeing peace," Turkish Brigadier General Hilmi Akinzorlu told journalists in Plodviv on 26 August. Akinzorlu said that Bulgaria's hosting the first Multinational Peace Force Southeastern Europe, which he commands, is "the first step" on the road toward that country's integration into NATO, BTA reported. The force was set up last September by Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Slovenia, and Turkey and will be officially inaugurated at a ceremony in Plodviv on 11 September. MS YUGOSLAV OPPOSITION LEADER IN BULGARIA. During his two-day visit to Bulgaria, Serbian Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic told BTA on 26 August that Serbian opposition activists will come to Bulgaria to learn from the experience of the ruling Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) in forming a unified opposition. The same day he met with Prime Minister Ivan Kostov and SDS deputy chairwoman Ekaterina Mihailova. He is also scheduled to hold talks with Deputy Premier Evgeni Bakardzhiev and Sofia Mayor Stefan Sofiyanski. 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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