One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: that word is love. - Sophocles
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 182, Part II, 17 September 1999


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 182, Part II, 17 September 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

* LUKASHENKA ORDERS FIRM SECURITY MEASURES

* RUSSIAN GENERAL URGES ETHNIC ALBANIANS TO TRUST HIS
SOLDIERS

* MONTENEGRO: MILOSEVIC MOBILIZING POLICE

END NOTE: AMBIGUOUS ANNIVERSARY
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

PROMINENT BELARUSIAN OPPOSITIONIST DISAPPEARS. Viktar
Hanchar, deputy chairman of the opposition Supreme Soviet,
disappeared in the evening of 16 September in Minsk.
Hanchar's wife told Belapan that he was driving home with a
friend but failed to appear on time. She called the police
and the KGB in Minsk inquiring about her husband but obtained
no information on his whereabouts. Hanchar is the second
major oppositionist to have vanished in Belarus this year.
Former Interior Minister Yury Zakharanka went missing in May.
JM

LUKASHENKA ORDERS FIRM SECURITY MEASURES... At a 16 September
government meeting devoted to combating organized crime and
preventing extremism and terrorism, Belarusian President
Alyaksandr Lukashenka prioritized public security as "goal
number one," Belarusian Television reported. Lukashenka said
Belarus is threatened not so much by foreigners (including
those from Chechnya) as by domestic "liberators and zealots
for the people." He told his ministers to take "rigorous"
measures to enforce order in Belarus. These measures include
toughening control at the state border and preventing any
gatherings at production facilities and on the streets
(except for specially-designated areas). Lukashenka also
ordered the media to inform the public within three days
about where Belarusian "extremists" and "nationalists" get
finances "to destabilize" the country. JM

...PLEDGES TO END 'DEMOCRACY GAMES.' At the same meeting,
Lukashenka attacked the Belarusian opposition for its alleged
intent to derail the OSCE-mediated dialogue with the
authorities. "We are playing democracy games with
them...while they are working out mechanisms on how to
disrupt this dialogue, how to sling mud at [OSCE mediator
Hans Georg] Wieck," Lukashenka noted. He pledged to introduce
"real democracy" instead of the "democracy games" which, in
his opinion, are characteristic of Russia. According to
Lukashenka, there may be only one reason for people's
dissatisfaction with the Belarusian authorities--untimely
payment of wages. He added that on other counts people trust
the authorities and are confident that they will have "enough
drinks, foodstuffs, heat, and hot water." JM

UKRAINIAN CABINET SUBMITS 2000 BUDGET DRAFT TO PARLIAMENT.
The government on 15 September submitted a draft 2000 budget
to the parliament. Finance Minister Ihor Mityukov said the
next day that Ukraine's debt obligations in 2000 forced the
cabinet for the first time during Ukraine's independence to
draft a budget with a surplus. The draft projects the
country's GDP in 2000 at 150.8 billion hryvni ($33 billion),
with revenues set at 27.1 billion hryvni and spending at 26.5
billion hryvni. JM

KAZAKH PRESIDENT IN KYIV TO BOOST ECONOMIC TIES. Nursultan
Nazarbaev arrived in Kyiv on 16 September for two days of
economic talks. Nazarbaev and Ukrainian President Leonid
Kuchma signed the following day a 10-year economic
cooperation agreement. "There are no problems between Ukraine
and Kazakhstan, but trade is developing slowly," ITAR-TASS
quoted Nazarbaev as saying. First Deputy Premier Anatoliy
Kinakh told AP that Kyiv will ask Astana for gas and crude
oil supplies, while offering help in developing new gas and
oil deposits in Kazakhstan. JM

ESTONIAN PRESIDENT IN ICELAND. Lennart Meri made a four-day
state visit to Iceland on 14-17 September. Meri held talks
with Icelandic President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, who paid a
state visit to Estonia last year. Meri also met with Prime
Minister David Oddsson and members of Iceland's parliament.
Meri gave a speech at the University of Iceland titled "From
Yalta to Yalta: What Have We Learned?" which stressed the
role of small countries in regional stability. MH

ESTONIA TO SUBSTANTIALLY CUT POLICE FORCE. Estonian Interior
Minister Juri Mois has introduced a plan to reform the police
that includes laying off 536 officers, "Eesti Paevaleht"
reported. This cut from the current 4,234 police officers is
one-seventh of the country's police force and should be
implemented by the 2000. Mois said the force needs "to be
preferably smaller" if low state funding for police
continues. However, the plan envisages a wage increase for
the trimmed-down force. Mois stressed that many of those to
be made redundant are not directly involved in law
enforcement. The plan has been met with "shock" in the
regions, as well as in Estonia's second city Tartu, which
would lose nearly 40 percent of its police force. MH

LITHUANIAN SOCIAL INSURANCE HEAD QUITS. The director of the
Social Insurance Fund (SODRA), Vincas Kunca, resigned on 16
September. The beleaguered fund has been in serious financial
difficulties with debts currently estimated at 320 million
litas ($80 million). Kunca, the head of SODRA since 1994, has
been the target of increasing criticism, especially from the
parliament's Social Affairs Committee chairwoman, Birute
Visokaviciene. Earlier in the week Hansabankas, the
Lithuanian branch of the Estonian Hansapank, agreed to extend
a 30 million litas loan--reportedly after several other banks
refused, according to local wire services. MH

LITHUANIAN CENTRAL BANK APPROVES BLOCKBUSTER MERGER. The
Lithuanian Central Bank on 16 September approved the merger
of Hermis and Vilniaus Bankas (Bank of Vilnius). In
actuality, the larger Vilniaus Bankas has been given
permission to acquire two-thirds or more of Hermis shares.
After the acquisition, Vilniaus Bankas, with assets of 5.56
billion litas ($1.39 billion), would be the second largest
bank in the Baltics, behind Estonia's Hansapank. Concerns
were voiced earlier by banking regulators about the proposed
merger of Lithuania's second and fourth largest banks and the
implications that would have on the market. MH

POLISH PRESIDENT PAYS TRIBUTE TO POLES MURDERED BY SOVIET
UNION. On 17 September in Katyn, Smolensk Oblast, Aleksander
Kwasniewski paid tribute to thousands of Polish prisoners of
war murdered by the Soviet Union after its invasion of Poland
on the same day in 1939. Some 15,000 Polish army officers,
policemen, and border guards from the camps of Ostashkov,
Kozelsk, and Starobelsk were executed by the Soviet NKVD in
1940. Kwasniewski's trip to Katyn and subsequently to another
execution site at Kharkiv, Ukraine, serves to commemorate the
60th anniversary of the Soviet aggression (see also "End
Note"). JM

U.S. CHIEF OF STAFF PRAISES CZECH REPUBLIC. Visiting General
Henry Shelton, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff,
said on 16 September in Prague that the Czech Republic has
made "great progress in preparing for NATO integration" and
in transforming its military to meet NATO requirements, but
that "there is still much work do be done in this regard."
Shelton said he "applauds" the efforts of Czech Chief of
Staff General Jiri Sedivy and the country's political
leadership "for making the difficult but necessary decisions
to restructure and reform the armies of the Czech Republic,"
an RFE/RL correspondent reported. In talks with President
Vaclav Havel, Shelton praised the fact that the government
has kept its pledge to raise military expenditure by 0.1
percent annually, despite the country's economic situation,
CTK reported. MS

PRAGUE CEREMONY COMMEMORATES HOLOCAUST. Nearly 300 survivors
of the Holocaust, children of its victims, intellectuals, and
politicians gathered on 16 September in Prague's Pinkas
synagogue to commemorate in a live radio broadcast the memory
of those who perished in the Holocaust, AP reported.
President Vaclav Havel was among the first to take part in
the four-hour reading of 3,000 names. U.S. Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright, who found the names of her paternal
grandparents inscribed on the synagogue's walls during a
private trip to Prague two years ago, took part in the
reading on a taped contribution. Havel told Czech radio: "It
is important to remember the past especially now, when many
young people march chanting nationalist slogans, not knowing
where they could eventually lead." MS

GERMAN PRESIDENT IN SLOVAKIA. Slovak President Rudolf
Schuster told visiting German President Johannes Rau on 16
September that his country wants "equal treatment" with
Hungary and the Czech Republic in being considered for
membership in the EU. Schuster said that Slovakia has already
atoned for "having been shown the yellow card" by the EU and
it is time now to allow her to return to where her neighbors
are. He said that Germany could play "a decisive role" in
making this possible, CTK and dpa reported. Rau, however, was
noncommittal and said that Germany will ensure that admission
talks are "fair" and that "no artificial delays" will be
allowed. MS

SLOVAK PARLIAMENT AMENDS PRIVATIZATION LAW. The parliament on
16 September approved by a 70 to 37 vote with eight
abstentions an amendment to the law on large scale
privatization, SITA reported. The amendment allows the
privatization of stakes in natural monopolies, banking,
postal services, telecommunications, gas industry, and the
energy sector. The Democratic Left Party succeeded in having
its positions included in the amended law, namely that the
parliament will have to approve large-scale privatization and
that the state will keep a 51 percent stake in several so-
called "strategic" companies while others will be excluded
from privatization. MS

SLOVAKIA REPORTEDLY TO CLOSE DOWN NUCLEAR REACTORS. The
government has decided to close down two nuclear reactors at
Jaslovske Bohunice, the official TASR agency reported on 16
September. The agency said that the decision was taken as
part of Slovakia's effort to join the EU. Citing the
independent daily "Sme," the agency said that the cabinet has
not yet decided on a date for the closure of the nuclear
power plant (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 September 1999). MS

SCHUSTER SUES JOURNALIST. President Schuster has filed suit
against journalist Ales Kratky for defamation, CTK reported
on 16 September, citing the Czech daily "Mlada fronta Dnes."
Kratky recently published a commentary criticizing Schuster
for including in his staff former members of the Czechoslovak
secret police (StB) and said that a list of StB collaborators
includes one named Rudolf Schuster, whose ID card has the
same number as that of the president. Schuster said that "no
one has the right to tarnish anyone's reputation in this
country," adding that Slovakia has no lustration law banning
former StB collaborators from serving in senior public
office. MS

SLOVAK, HUNGARIAN PREMIERS SIGN AGREEMENT TO REBUILD BRIDGE.
Premier Dzurinda and his Hungarian counterpart, Viktor Orban,
signed an agreement on 16 September to rebuild the bridge
between the Slovak town of Sturovo and the Hungarian town of
Esztergom, TASR reported. The Danube River bridge was blown
up by the Nazis at the end of Word War II. It will be rebuilt
by 2001 at an estimated cost of $20.2 million, with the two
countries equally sharing the cost. MS

HUNGARY KNEW OF NATO INVASION PLAN. Former chief of staff
General Ferenc Vegh on 16 September told journalists that
NATO had a plan for ground intervention in Yugoslavia on 15
September if by that date the Yugoslav leadership had not
agreed to pull its forces out of Kosova, "Nepszabadsag" and
"Magyar Hirlap" reported on 17 September. Vegh said that
Prime Minister Viktor Orban was informed of the plan. One day
earlier, British Defense Secretary George Robertson, the next
NATO secretary-general, revealed that such a plan existed
under the name Bravo Minus. MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

RUSSIAN GENERAL URGES ETHNIC ALBANIANS TO TRUST HIS SOLDIERS.
Major-General Valerii Yevtukovich told journalists in
Prishtina on 16 September: "We will not use force, but we
will continue our talks to find a solution that allows
Russian troops to deploy in [Rahovec]. We believe that we
will find a positive result," an RFE/RL South Slavic Service
correspondent reported. Ethnic Albanians have been blocking
the roads to that town since late August to prevent the
deployment of the Russian KFOR contingent there, arguing that
Russian mercenaries committed atrocities in that region
during the war. Yevtukovich stressed that the Russian forces
must go to Rahovec as part of the [18 June] Helsinki
agreements and reassured the Kosovar Albanians that the
Russian forces are neutral. He stressed that "the Russian
Federation [is] not responsible for the things that
[mercenaries had done, and those things] must not be linked
to the Russian peacekeeping mission." FS

UNMIK PREPARES VOTER REGISTRATION. Officials from the UN
Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) announced in Prishtina on 16
September that on 1 October they will begin to register
voters for the upcoming elections, for which no date has been
set. The registration process will last for six months,
RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Meanwhile, several
key political parties of Kosova have decided to form a joint
body which will assist with organizing the upcoming
elections. FS

OSCE, UN LAUNCH 'RADIO AND TELEVISION KOSOVA'... Richard
Dill, the interim director of Radio and Television Kosova
(RTK), told an RFE/RL South Slavic Service correspondent in
Prishtina on 16 September that the UN and OSCE have given the
green light for his station to begin broadcasting on 19
September. Dill said that the program will be transmitted via
satellite. He stressed that RTK is a public service that does
not belong to any government or investor but exclusively to
the people of Kosova. Dill added that RTK intends to
broadcast programs from Kosova, which are produced by
Kosovars in Kosova in cooperation with UN television. He
predicted that it will become the basis for the creation of a
full-fledged public service broadcaster and train the staff
of such a station. The programs will be in Albanian and
Serbian. FS

...DISAPPOINTING SACKED 'RADIO AND TELEVISION PRISHTINA'
JOURNALISTS. Martin Cuni, the chairman of the Coordinating
Council of Radio and Television Prishtina, issued a
declaration in Prishtina on 16 September saying that his
council has nothing in common with RTK. The council was
founded by ethnic-Albanian journalists who were
demonstratively sacked by the Belgrade regime in 1990. Cuni
stressed that neither the UN nor the OSCE or the European
Broadcasting Union have consulted his council about the
creation of RTK. Dill, however, made clear that RTK is not a
continuation of Radio and Television Prishtina, even though
it will broadcast from its former premises. FS

U.S. GENERAL SAYS UCK LEADERSHIP 'COMMITTED' TO DISARM.
General Henry Shelton, who is the chairman of the U.S. Joint
Chiefs of Staff, said in Prague on 16 September that the
Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) has "not complied as rapidly as
any of us would have liked to have in terms of the local
level, but at the leadership level they have remained
committed," Reuters reported. He added: "As of right now they
are moving steadily toward that and we have no reason to
believe that they don't intend to comply." Shelton declined
to answer what he called "hypothetical" questions about what
NATO will do if the UCK does not fulfill its obligations. He
said: "It is something we will deal with when and if the date
comes and they do not comply." FS

BELGRADE CALLS UCK DISARMAMENT 'FARCE.' Vladislav Jovanovic,
who is Yugoslavia's top diplomat at the UN, said in New York
on 16 September that the disarmament of the UCK is a "farce"
because the guerrillas are handing in only outdated weapons.
He charged that the UCK is hiding its best weapons in
Albania, Macedonia, and secret locations in Kosova. Jovanovic
did not provide any proof of his assertions, but added that
"everybody knows" that what he says is true, AP reported. He
stressed that the UCK seeks to become the dominant military
and political force in the province. PM

FBI BACKS STORIES OF MASSACRES. FBI forensic experts said in
Washington on 16 September that they are prepared to
substantiate eyewitness claims of massacres in Kosova during
the recent conflict. The experts noted that their conclusion
is based on having examined 124 bodies from 21 sites in
Kosova. One spokesman noted that the victims ranged between 2
and 94 years of age. PM

GLIGOROV SAYS WEST MISREAD SERBS, MISLED MACEDONIA.
Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov told the Belgrade weekly
"Vreme" that he well remembers the 40 years he spent in the
Serbian capital as a communist official. He stressed that
Western governments were mistaken if they thought that the
Serbs could be defeated by only a few weeks' bombing. He
added that those same governments made "big promises" to
Macedonia but did little to help with his country's huge
refugee burden during the recent conflict. His political
rival, Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski, was wrong to treat
the UCK's Hashim Thaci as "almost a head of state," Gligorov
argued. He noted that ethnic Albanians could constitute the
majority of the population in Macedonia by 2015 if present
demographic trends continue. PM

ANTI-MILOSEVIC COALITION CALLS FOR 'PEACEFUL REVOLUTION.'
Some 5,000 supporters of the Alliance for Change attended the
organization's convention in Novi Sad on 16 September.
Alliance leader Vladan Batic told cheering crowds that the
nationwide protests slated to begin on 21 September will mark
the start of a "peaceful, social revolution." He stressed
that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic "must go." Several
other prominent speakers--including senior banker Dragoslav
Avramovic and Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic--echoed
a key theme of the convention's resolution, namely that
prosperity and integration into Europe will come only after
Milosevic goes. Other prominent persons in attendance
included Vojvodina's Nenad Canak, Cacak's Velimir Ilic,
former General Vuk Obradovic, and Archbishop Artemije, who is
a key leader of the Kosova Serbs. PM

PENSIONERS WANT MILOSEVIC TO GO. Several hundred pensioners
demonstrated in Belgrade and Kragujevac against the
government on 16 September. They protested plans by the
authorities to give them vouchers for electricity payments in
place of unpaid pensions. PM

WILL HIS FRIENDS OUST HIM? Dusan Mihajlovic, who heads the
New Democracy Party, said that the main threat to Milosevic
comes not from the opposition but from those members of the
ruling establishment who want to end Serbia's international
pariah status, AP reported from Belgrade on 17 September. PM

MONTENEGRO: MILOSEVIC MOBILIZING POLICE. Prime Minister Filip
Vujanovic said in Podgorica on 16 September that Milosevic
has increased the number of his military police in Montenegro
without consulting with or informing the republic's
authorities, Reuters reported. He did not provide any details
but added that the Montenegrin government will not "take any
countermeasures." The Belgrade press is wrong when it reports
that Montenegro has set up paramilitary formations, Vujanovic
added. He stressed that his government will seek
international aid in response to Serbia's blockade on food
shipments to his mountainous republic (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
10 September 1999). In other news, the Montenegrin parliament
began discussions of Podgorica's future relations with
Belgrade, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. And Serbian
Renewal Movement leader Vuk Draskovic told Montenegrin
Television that he helped block a plan by Yugoslav Prime
Minister Momir Bulatovic to launch a putsch in Montenegro in
April. PM

ALBANIA'S MAJKO SLAMS POLITICIANS FOR LINKS TO CRIMINALS...
Prime Minister Pandeli Majko said in Tirana on 16 September
that unspecified Albanian politicians have "encouraged crime,
supporting it not only morally," AP reported. He added that
these politicians, abusing their parliamentary immunity, have
protected criminals who would have had to be convicted under
the law. Majko explicitly said that this applied to both his
Socialist Party and the opposition Democrats. He said:
"Before shooting, a policeman has to think first which
political clan a given criminal represents." Majko pledged
that his government "will work for a definitive and full
separation of politics from crime [and attack] crime without
any compromise." FS

...AND CHALLENGES NANO. Majko announced in Tirana on 16
September that he will run against his predecessor Fatos Nano
for the chair of the Socialist Party on 10 October, an RFE/RL
South Slavic Service correspondent reported. Majko dismissed
recent charges by Nano that he is too close to opposition
leader Sali Berisha by saying that "it is better to shake
hands with Berisha than with Milosevic." He was referring to
a Balkan summit on Crete in 1997, where Nano met Milosevic.
Responding to recent claims by Nano that Majko has allowed
Kosovar guerrillas to smuggle arms through Albania,
Information Minister Musa Ulqini said that "the Albanian
government has acted in accordance with the constitution and
has fulfilled all its obligations towards what is called the
'national question.'" FS

HUNGARY SIDES WITH BULGARIA IN DISPUTE WITH ROMANIA. Defense
Minister Janos Szabo on 16 September told his visiting
Bulgarian counterpart Georgi Ananiev that he will inform his
NATO colleagues at an informal meeting in Toronto next week
on "the need to build a bridge between Vidin and Calafat" and
will "insist on their support." Bulgaria and Romania have
long disagreed on the location of a new bridge over the
Danube River, with Romania wanting the bridge to be built
further east than the Vidin-Calafat stretch favored by
Bulgaria. Szabo said that he is convinced that the passage of
NATO troops, including Hungarian troops, across Bulgaria to
Kosova would be greatly facilitated by a Vidin-Calafat
bridge, BTA reported. MS

CLUJ EXTREME NATIONALIST MAYOR DOES IT AGAIN. Police on 17
September dismantled a sign put up during the night in front
of the Hungarian general consulate in Cluj at the order of
extreme nationalist Mayor Gheorghe Funar, Romanian radio
reported. The inscription read "Seat of Hungarian espionage."
Funar said the inscription had been put up "in line with the
provisions of the law" and that it came to "draw attention to
the appointment of Laszlo Alfoldi as general consul, a person
declared persona non grata and expelled from the country in
1988." Interior Minister Constantin Dudu Ionescu ordered
police to dismantle the inscription after being warned by
Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania Executive
Secretary Csaba Takacs that a diplomatic incident was
imminent. MS

ROMANIA, RUSSIA, DIFFER ON EVALUATING EXPERT MEETING.
Following a meeting in Bucharest of experts from the Romanian
and Russian foreign ministries on 16 September, Romanian
radio reported that the two sides agreed to further develop
"pragmatic collaborative relations" and that "the absence of
a bilateral treaty must not hinder" such ties. But the head
of the Russian team, Aleksandr Tolkach, was cited by ITAR-
TASS as saying that "Romania lacks the political will to
really sign a bilateral treaty." Tolkach said Russia rejected
Bucharest's insistence on having the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact
mentioned in the document, as well as the Romanian raising of
the state treasure deposited in Russia during World War I. MS

COMPROMISE IN OFFING ON MOLDOVAN PRESIDENTIAL SYSTEM?
Presidential spokesman Anatol Golea said on 16 September that
President Petru Lucinschi is "satisfied" with the results
achieved at a meeting held one day earlier with leaders of
political parties represented in the parliament, at which he
presented his proposals for changing the political system
into a presidential one, Infotag reported. Golea said that
Lucinschi "once more stated that he is open to a compromise
and once again invited the party leaders to join him in the
search for a mutually-acceptable formula." Former President
Mircea Snegur, leader of the Democratic Convention of
Moldova, said that the meeting revealed that Lucinschi and
the parliamentary leaders were "ready to compromise in order
to avoid confrontation between the two power branches." MS

BULGARIAN LOCAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN OFFICIALLY LAUNCHED.
Campaigning for local elections officially started on 16
September. Ninety-six parties are competing in the elections,
compared with 64 in 1995. Fifteen parties registered
candidates for the post of Sofia mayor, for which the ruling
United Democratic Forces nominated Mayor Stefan Sofiyansky
for a second term. Thirty parties, nine party coalitions, and
three initiative committees are running lists for the
municipal council in the capital, BTA reported. The first
round of the elections will be held on 16 October, and a run-
off a week later between the two front runners in localities
where no mayoral candidate wins more than half of the votes
cast in the first round. MS

END NOTE

AMBIGUOUS ANNIVERSARY

by Jan Maksymiuk

	Poland marks the 60th anniversary of the Soviet invasion
today. While Polish armies were involved in an unequal but
heroic fight against Nazi Germany, some 600,000 Soviet troops
moved into Poland on 17 September 1939. The 25 border guard
and police units in eastern Poland were no match for the
Soviet forces. On 25 September, German and Soviet troops met
along the length of the demarcation line that had been
determined in a secret protocol to the Molotov-Ribbentrop
Pact of 23 August 1939. Three days later, Berlin and Moscow
signed a friendship and border treaty erasing Poland from the
map of Europe for almost six years.
	The Soviet annexation of eastern Poland was presented by
Moscow as the "liberation of Belarusian and Ukrainian
brothers from the oppression of Polish landlords." Eyewitness
accounts testify that most Belarusians and Ukrainians greeted
the Soviet troops as friends, if not liberators, and promptly
cooperated in organizing a Soviet system of power. "Popular
assemblies" of western Belarus and western Ukraine were
swiftly elected in October 1939 and requested the unification
of the newly conquered areas with the Belarusian SSR and
Ukrainian SSR, in particular, and with the USSR in general.
	Historians have cited many reasons for this Belarusian
and Ukrainian attitude toward the Soviet invasion. Two appear
especially persuasive.
	First, pre-war Poland--which experienced a measure of
democracy during its initial years of independence but became
an authoritarian state following Jozef Pilsudski's coup
d'etat in May 1926--did not develop a policy toward its
ethnic minorities that those minorities, accounting for
nearly 30 percent of the country's population, found
acceptable. Belarusians and Ukrainians were especially
treated by the state as second-rate citizens in terms of
their civil rights. In Poland's "eastern outlands" (kresy
wschodnie, the name applied to eastern parts of pre-war
Poland), economic, social, and ethnic inequality and
injustice were widespread.
	Second, Belarusians and Ukrainians suffered under the
delusion--skillfully promoted by Soviet propaganda at the
time--that Soviet Belarus and Soviet Ukraine embodied the
national statehood that they so intensely desired. The
Polish-Soviet border was hermetically sealed, as a result of
which Polish Belarusians and Ukrainians were completely
unfamiliar with the real state of affairs in the Soviet Union
(as, incidentally, was the rest of Europe). Therefore, even
anti-Communists among Belarusian and Ukrainian political
circles in pre-war Poland generally welcomed the unification
of all Belarusian and Ukrainian ethnic territories as an "act
of historical justice."
	Some 20 months later, when Hitler's armies invaded the
Soviet Union, many people in western Belarus and Ukraine who
had greeted Stalin's soldiers were now somewhat inclined to
welcome the Germans as the "liberator." From September 1939
to June 1941, Stalin's persecution machine was used against
not only "Polish landlords" but also their allegedly
liberated victims: Belarusian and Ukrainian peasants. The
legendary communist paradise proved a socio-economic hell for
those hapless "brothers" of the Soviet Union.
	The 1945 Yalta Conference endorsed the Polish-Soviet
border foreseen by the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (with some
post-war corrections), leaving Poland without its former
"eastern outlands." For more than 40 years, the official
Soviet interpretation of the 17 September 1939 military
operation as the "liberation of the oppressed" prevailed in
Poland's communist historiography. Only after Solidarity took
over in 1989 were Polish historians able to openly identify
the invasion by its proper name.
	Belarusian and Ukrainian historians, or at least those
who have renounced the Soviet historiography tradition, offer
interpretations of the significance of the 17 September
anniversary that are more ambiguous. The notion of
"liberation" appears to be gradually disappearing from their
versions. However, there is hardly any historian in Belarus
and Ukraine who would take issue with the argument that the
Soviet invasion against Poland 60 years ago was "positive"
for their nations in so far as it unified formerly divided
nations into one political organism. That organism collapsed
in 1991 and gave birth to two independent states--Belarus and
Ukraine.
	At a recent conference of Belarusian historians in
Minsk, one delegate spoke for many when he argued that the
Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and its territorial consequences
cannot be viewed as separate from the Polish-Bolshevik Treaty
of Riga in 1921. Under that treaty, Warsaw and Moscow
arbitrarily carved up between themselves Belarusian and
Ukrainian ethnic territories without taking into account the
interests of the indigenous people who inhabited them.
According to this line of argument, the Soviet Union in 1939-
-even in the role of an aggressor--ensured that justice was
done by bringing Belarusians and Ukrainians together.
	Whether Polish historians will accept such a viewpoint
remains to be seen. Currently, the differing attitudes toward
the Soviet invasion 60 years ago are reflected in the planned
official commemorations of the anniversary. Polish President
Aleksander Kwasniewski has visited sites in Russia and
Ukraine of the mass murders of Polish officers taken prisoner
by Soviet troops in 1939. Belarus's Alyaksandr Lukashenka
will preside over official events in his country marking the
60th anniversary of the reunification of Belarus. And Lviv in
Ukraine will host a congress of anti-Communists from Eastern
Europe who will discuss Soviet repression in the 1930s and
early 1940s. When history serves different policies, a single
historical interpretation is the exception rather than the
rule.

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