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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

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

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Headlines, Part II

* LITHUANIAN COURT SENTENCES COUP PLOTTERS

* NEGOTIATIONS CONTINUE IN RAHOVEC

* MILOSEVIC SAYS U.S. BEHIND DRUG TRADE
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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

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