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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 191, Part II, 30 September 1999


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 191, Part II, 30 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

* FORMER BELARUSIAN PREMIER INDICTED AFTER SIX MONTHS IN JAIL

* DOZENS INJURED AS POLICE USE FORCE TO END BELGRADE RALLY

* DOZENS INJURED AS POLICE USE FORCE TO END BELGRADE RALLY
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

FORMER BELARUSIAN PREMIER INDICTED AFTER SIX MONTHS IN JAIL.
Former Premier Mikhail Chyhir, arrested on 30 March on
suspicion of grand larceny and abuse of office, has been
indicted on charges of exceeding his authority, abusing
office, and negligence, Belapan reported on 29 September.
Investigators accuse Chyhir of issuing dubious credits when
he headed a bank before becoming premier and of allowing a
company to postpone paying customs duties when he headed the
government from 1994-1996. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka
publicly accused Chyhir of embezzling $10 million, but
investigators could not confirm that allegation and withdrew
the charge of grand larceny. JM

BELARUS'S SHARETSKI DENIES HE MET WITH MISSING OPPOSITIONIST.
Supreme Soviet Chairman Syamyon Sharetski, currently living
in exile in Vilnius, has denied a report in the state-run
newspaper "Belorusskaya niva" that he has met with Viktar
Hanchar since the latter's disappearance (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 28 September 1999), RFE/RL's Belarusian Service
reported on 29 September. In a reference to Lukashenka's
praise for the Hitler regime in an interview with a German
journalist in 1996, Sharetski commented that "Belorusskaya
niva" serves the man who "once called Hitler his idol.
Therefore, they do everything like Hitler did--they
shamelessly lie." JM

UKRAINE REINFORCES SECURITY IN WAKE OF CHECHEN CONFLICT.
Security Service Deputy Chairman Yuriy Zemlyanskyy on 29
September said Russia's recent military action in Chechnya is
also "likely" to affect Ukraine. He said Chechen militants
are now trying to settle in Ukraine. "I can cite specific
examples of their envoys coming to Odesa and purchasing [or]
leasing apartments for the resettlement of Chechen militants
to Ukraine," Interfax quoted Zemlyanskyy as saying. He added
that Ukraine's Security Service is taking extra measures to
prevent terrorist acts and detect possible terrorists. The
same day, Border Troops Commander Pavlo Shysholin announced
the introduction of additional security measures at the
border with Russia, including an increase in the number of
border guard units. JM

UKRAINE'S KUCHMA WINS MOCK ELECTIONS AMONG STUDENTS. Winning
31.73 percent of the vote, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma
came first in a mock presidential ballot organized at some
200 institutions of higher education throughout the country
on 28 September. Natalya Vitrenko received 12.57 percent
backing, Yevhen Marchuk 9.55 percent, Oleksandr Moroz 7.37
percent, Petro Symonenko 4.06 percent, Yuriy Kostenko 3.55
percent, and Hennadiy Udovenko 3.09 percent. Of the 111,000
students who participated in the ballot, 16.42 percent did
not support any of the 15 presidential hopefuls. JM

ESTONIAN PARLIAMENT RATIFIES WTO ACCESSION PROTOCOL. The
Estonian parliament on 29 September voted by 48 to seven to
approve the protocol of accession to the World Trade
Organization (WTO). Many opposition parliamentary deputies
did not vote, while 33 of them signed a declaration opposing
the passage of the protocol, which they said is against
Estonia's national interests, ETA reported. The group added
that they are not opposed to WTO membership but to what they
described poor accession conditions and negotiated terms,
according to "Postimees." Estonia signed the WTO accession
protocol on 21 May and was required to ratify all necessary
agreements and pass all relevant legislation by 31 October
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 May 1999). Several more pieces of
legislation must be ratified before that deadline. MH

LATVIAN REGION IS 'POOREST' AMONG EU CANDIDATES. According to
a report published on 29 September by the EU statistical
office Eurostat, the eastern Latgale region of Latvia is the
poorest region of any among the EU candidate states, LETA
reported. GDP per capita in Latgale is only 16 percent of the
EU average, while Latvia itself also has the lowest GDP per
capita of all candidate states--26 percent of the EU average,
while the figure is 37 percent for Riga. Lithuania's GDP per
capita is 29 percent of EU average and Estonia's 34 percent,
according to ETA. Analysts, however, point out that the
report is based on information dating from 1996. MH

LITHUANIA TO CHANGE BACK TO OLD TIME ZONE. The Lithuanian
government on 29 September agreed that the country will
revert to the same time zone as Latvia and Estonia. For the
past 18 months, Lithuania had opted to be in the Central
European Time zone. The change will go into effect on 31
October, since Lithuania will not put back its clock by an
hour when most other countries in the region do so. The
government decided to return to the old time zone after
public opinion clearly demonstrated a preference for that
zone. The government is also contemplating ceasing to change
to summer time, as Estonia has already done. MH

POLISH CABINET APPROVES 2000 BUDGET DRAFT. The 2000 budget
draft adopted by the government on 28 September projects 5.2
percent growth in GDP, compared with 4 percent expected this
year. Inflation is expected to drop to 5 percent from the
projected 7.7 percent in 1999. Budget revenues are put at
141.4 billion zlotys ($35.3 billion) and expenditures 154.1
billion zlotys. Poland expects to obtain 11.7 billion zlotys
from selling off state assets in 2000, compared with the 13
billion zlotys slated for this year. The government also
plans to increase spending on agriculture by 49 percent, on
transportation by 40 percent, and on scientific research by
5.2 percent, compared with this year. The budget draft now
goes to the parliament for approval. JM

POLAND'S 1999 GRAIN HARVEST SMALLER THAN LAST YEAR. The Main
Statistical Office (GUS) reported on 29 September that
Poland's grain harvest may be down 1.3-1.6 million tons on
last year's level, as some crops have fallen prey to bad
weather, pests, and grain diseases. According to GUS, 9.2
million tons of wheat, 5.2 million tons of rye, and 3.4
million tons of barley will be harvested this year. JM

CZECH GOVERNMENT APPROVES CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES. The Czech
government on 29 September approved a package of draft
changes to the constitution, including measures that
curtail certain presidential powers, (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 27 September 1999), Czech media reported.
President Vaclav Havel attended the cabinet meeting in
order to explain his objections to the draft. The cabinet
made one change to the proposed amendment obliging the
president to call on the party that wins the elections to
form a government: according to that change, the lower
house of the parliament would confirm a prime ministerial
candidate. The change is designed to prevent the Communists
from being able to form a government should they win the
most votes in an election. VG

EU COMMISSIONER SEES EXPANSION IN 2004. EU Enlargment
Commissioner Guenter Verheugen on 29 September told the
"Sueddeutsche Zeitung" that the EU could accept new members
in 2004. He refused to say if some countries are lagging
behind others among the candidates for the first wave of
enlargement. VG

ARCHEOLOGICAL DIG STOPPED AT PRAGUE JEWISH CEMETERY. Czech
Culture Minister Pavel Dostal on 29 September called for an
archeological dig at a 13th century Jewish cemetery in
Prague to be halted, Czech Television reported. Dostal's
request came just one day after some 100 people
demonstrated in front of the site, located on Vladislavova
Street, to protest the removal of the cemetery. The
insurance company Ceska Pojistovna plans to build an
underground garage on that site. So far, the remains of
some 100 gravesites have been removed and transferred to
another cemetery following an anthropological analysis.
Dostal asked the director of the Prague Heritage Institute
to stop the dig and take steps toward turning the cemetery
into a heritage site. Prague Rabbi Karol Sidon welcomed
Dostal's decision. VG

BELGIUM TO SEND BACK SLOVAK ROMA. Belgium and Slovakia are
working together to have some 500 Slovak Roma flown back to
Slovakia, CTK reported on 29 September. Belgium has
rejected applications for asylum from the Slovak citizens.
The Belgium Immigration Office noted that 541 Slovaks
applied for asylum in August alone and another 204 arrived
during the first three weeks of September. Last year, 985
Slovak Roma applied for asylum in Belgium, and authorities
believe that as many as five times that number could apply
by the end of this year. VG

SLOVAK GOVERNMENT STRENGTHENS POLICE. The Slovak government
on 29 September approved draft amendments designed to
strengthen the powers of the police, TASR reported.
Interior Minister Ladislav Pittner said the changes will
enable police to enter houses, workplaces, and other
buildings to check whether foreigners have residence or
working permits. VG

HUNGARY'S FIDESZ SUES WEEKLY. FIDESZ, the main coalition
partner, is suing the "Elet es Irodalom" weekly for failing
to publish a correction to an article on mines owned by
Prime Minister Viktor Orban's family. FIDESZ press officer
Attila Farkas told Hungarian media on 29 September that
instead of an official correction, the weekly decided to
publish the letter FIDESZ sent to the editor requesting
that the mistake be corrected. Farkas added that this
decision raises other legal questions, since the published
letter includes the addresses of a number of FIDESZ
politicians who signed it. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

DOZENS INJURED AS POLICE USE FORCE TO END BELGRADE RALLY. At
least 60 people were injured on 29 September when Serbian
riot police beat back protesters who were marching to the
Belgrade home of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic,
Reuters reported. Some 30,000 people took part in the march
to the capital's Dedinje district. Some 300 riot police,
backed by water cannon, turned on the protesters before they
reached the Milosevic residence. At least four demonstrators
were seriously injured. Five policemen and several
journalists, including a CNN cameraman, also sustained
injuries. Eleven people were reported arrested, including
some opposition officials. Alliance for Change leader Zoran
Djindjic said at a subsequent downtown rally that Milosevic
"made this protest a popular uprising because you use such
force only when you see the protests as a big threat to your
regime." The Interior Ministry commented that "a large group
of hooligans...including known criminals [and] drug addicts"
had attacked police with bricks, stones, and sticks. Protest
organizers vowed to attempt to march to Dedinje again the
following day. Large demonstrations were also held in Nis,
Novi Sad, and several other towns. PB

YUGOSLAV ECONOMISTS ASKS EU TO SEND ENERGY TO CITIES. At an
EU meeting in Helsinki on 29 September, the independent group
of Yugoslav economists called Group 17 urged the EU to help
the democratic process in Serbia by providing gas to cities
that have opposition-led administrations, Reuters reported.
The economists said they need $3.5 million to begin heating
oil projects in the southeastern Serbian cities of Nis and
Pirot. Group 17 coordinator Mladjan Dinkic said the message
to the EU is "that the cost of not acting would surely be
higher to the EU than the cost of acting, so give us a chance
to show what we can do." He added that if Milosevic tried to
stop a fuel shipment from arriving in a Serbian town, "he
will face the animosity of citizens who will not have
heating." The economists will also visit Paris, Berlin,
London, and The Hague. PB

NEW WAR CRIMES CHIEF TO FOCUS ON MILOSEVIC. Carla del Ponte,
the new chief prosecutor at the UN war crimes tribunal at The
Hague, said on 29 September that the court will concentrate
on gathering evidence against Yugoslav President Milosevic
and others suspected of ordering atrocities to be committed
in Kosova, AP reported. The tribunal indicted Milosevic and
four top advisers in May for crimes against humanity. Del
Ponte said the cases against those indictees will be
strengthened. Formerly the federal prosecutor for
Switzerland, Del Ponte replaced Louise Arbour, who accepted
an appointment to the Canadian Supreme Court. PB

BELGRADE DAILY FINED. A judge in Belgrade levied a 130,000
dinar ($21,600 at the official exchange rate) fine on the
daily "Glas javnosti" for a story it published on alleged
corruption in the distribution of humanitarian aid, Radio B2-
92 reported on 29 September. In addition, the newspaper's
editor in chief, Srecko Petric, was fined 70,000 dinars. In
other news, Milosevic named Major-General Milen Simic as head
of the Yugoslav Army's General Staff for Information and
Morale. He replaces General Aleksandar Bakocevic, who Tanjug
said will return to "civilian service." PB

UN HEAD IN KOSOVA CONDEMNS HATRED. One day after a grenade
attack in an outdoor market killed two and left nearly 50
people injured, Bernard Kouchner decried the "massive hatred"
between ethnic Albanians and Serbs, AFP reported on 29
September. "We have tanks, troops, and police, but this is
not enough," Kouchner said at a hospital where he visited
people injured in the incident. A UN spokeswoman said two
people arrested on suspicion of involvement in the attack
have been questioned and released. She said reports the
previous day that four people had been detained were
erroneous. In Prishtina, Zivojin Mitrovic, the president of
the Serbian National Assembly of Kosova, said that "if
similar crimes continue, the Serbs...will be forced to find
appropriate forms of self-organization in order to protect
their lives and homes." PB

UN OFFICIAL SAYS KOSOVA FACES TOUGH WINTER. Dennis McNamara,
a deputy representative in Kosova's UN administration, said
the lack of major reconstruction in the Serbian province of
Kosova means many people will not have proper housing this
winter, Reuters reported. McNamara said the UN and other
agencies will provide enough "repair kits" to patch up one
room each in 50,000 damaged homes. He said some 300,000 to
400,000 people whose homes will not be repaired will have to
seek accommodation with family and friends over the winter.
McNamara added that 44 people have been killed and 194
injured by landmines and unexploded bombs since the war ended
in June. PB

OSCE, WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL SLAM CROATIA. The OSCE said in a
report on 29 September that although Zagreb has made some
progress toward Western standards of democracy, it remains
far behind in many important areas, AP reported. It cited
difficulties in property restitution, an ambiguous amnesty
law, discriminatory legislation, and flawed media and
electoral laws ahead of the December parliamentary elections.
It also said that monitoring of Croatian television shows "a
continuing pattern of unbalanced news and...reporting in
favor of the ruling party." The same day, the UN war crimes
tribunal at The Hague said in a letter to the UN Security
Council that Zagreb is still not cooperating with the
tribunal's efforts to apprehend and prosecute suspects. The
court is seeking the extradition of suspected war criminal
Mladen Naletilic, who is being detained in Zagreb. PB

SAKIC PLEADS INNOCENCE AT END OF TRIAL. In the closing
statement at his trial on charges of crimes against humanity,
Dinko Sakic, the commander of a concentration camp in Croatia
during World War II, claimed that the trial is politically
motivated and influenced by international pressure on
Croatia, Hina reported. Sakic, 77, said he believes he "was
convicted before the process started." He said his voluntary
return to Croatia from Argentina is proof of his innocence.
Sakic said that he was only carrying out orders "that
corresponded to my beliefs about national interests and the
biological survival of the Croatian people." He was in charge
of the Jasenovac camp from May to October 1944 and is accused
of being responsible for the deaths of 2,000 prisoners. A
verdict is expected on 4 October. PB

MRS. KARADZIC DOESN'T KNOW WHERE HER HUSBAND IS. The wife of
wartime Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic said on 29
September that she has not seen her husband for three months,
Reuters reported, citing an interview in the Belgrade weekly
"Nedeljni Telegraf." She said he moves around a lot and that
she receives reports that he is doing alright. Karadzic is
wanted by the UN war crimes tribunal for crimes committed
during the Bosnian war. In other news, U.S. citizen Charles
Kim was found guilty in New York on 29 September of
defrauding the UN mission in Bosnia of some $800,000. Kim
headed the mission's Zagreb-based transport and travel office
from 1995-1998. He will be sentenced in December. PB

CANDIDATES FOR MACEDONIAN PRESIDENCY APPROVED. Macedonia's
Election Commission approved six candidates to run in the
country's third presidential elections, which will take place
on 31 October, AP reported on 29 September. Among the six are
two ethnic Albanians, Muarem Nexhipi of the Albanian
Democratic Party and Muhamed Halili of the Albanian Party for
Democratic Prosperity. The frontrunner in the election is
Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Trajkovski. The other
candidates are Vasil Tupurkovski of the Democratic
Alternative, Tito Petkovski of the opposition Social
Democratic Union, and Stojan Andov of the Liberal Democrats.
PB

ALBANIA'S POLLO DECIDES NOT TO CHALLENGE BERISHA. Genc Pollo,
a leader of the opposition Democratic Party, said on 29
September that he will not challenge former Albanian
President Sali Berisha for the leadership of the party,
Reuters reported. Pollo said gross violations in the election
of delegates to the party's convention set to open on 30
September were the reason for his decision. He blamed Berisha
for "stimulating and ordering such acts." Pollo also resigned
from all of his party functions although he will remain in
the party. PB

ROMANIA, HUNGARY AGREE TO SET UP BATTALION. Romanian
Defense Minister Victor Babiuc and his visiting Hungarian
counterpart, Janos Szabo, agreed on 29 September to set up
a Romanian-Hungarian peacekeeping battalion by 1 January
2000, according to an MTI report cited by the BBC. The two
ministers said that the "excellent" relationships between
the two countries' military forces could serve as a model
for bilateral relations in other areas. In other news,
Istvan Szent-Ivanyi, the chairman of the Hungarian
parliamentary Foreign Relations Committee, told a visiting
Romanian parliamentary delegation that Hungary supports the
quick accession of Romania to NATO and the EU. He said the
fact that Hungary will have to impose visa restrictions on
Romanians as part of the EU's Schengen convention could
endanger relations between the two countries in the long
term. VG

FBI DIRECTOR IMPRESSED WITH ROMANIA'S FIGHT AGAINST CRIME.
FBI Director Louis Freeh on 29 September said he is
"impressed" with Romania's "determination to fight against
crime and organized crime," AP reported. Freeh was in
Bucharest for talks with Romanian Interior Minister Dudu
Ionescu and Intelligence Service head Costin Georgescu.
Freeh said the FBI will open a permanent residence in
Bucharest, the 38th such residence in a foreign capital. VG

COUNCIL OF EUROPE DEMANDS ACCESS TO IMPRISONED MOLDOVAN
DEPUTY. The president of the Council of Europe's
Parliamentary Assembly, Lord Russell Johnston, has urgently
requested that the Red Cross be permitted to visit an
imprisoned Moldovan deputy in the breakaway Transdniester
region, Infotag reported on 29 September. The so-called
Supreme Court of Tiraspol convicted Ilie Ilascu and three
other Moldovans of terrorism in 1992. The court is not
recognized by the international community. VG

BULGARIA CALLS FOR RAPID REOPENING OF DANUBE. Bulgarian
Transport Minister Wilhelm Kraus has rejected a proposal by
the Danube Commission to reopen the Danube River to boat
traffic no earlier than next spring, BTA reported on 29
September. Describing the proposals as "absolutely
unacceptable," Kraus demanded that the river be re-opened to
traffic sooner. He also called on Yugoslavia to cooperate
with other countries in the region to find a solution
acceptable to all. He added that if Yugoslavia refuses to
provide access to its destroyed bridges on the River Danube,
Bulgaria will invoke the Convention on the Regime of
Navigation on the Danube. Under the convention, a country's
refusal to grant such access can be "ignored." Bulgaria
claims it has lost millions of dollars as a result of the war
in Kosova, which disrupted trade on the Danube. VG

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