|It is easier to love humanity than to love one's neighbor. - Eric Hoffer|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 193, Part II, 4 October 1999
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 193, Part II, 4 October 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 * UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE INJURED IN GRENADE ATTACK * DRASKOVIC SAYS HE SURVIVED ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT * CROATIAN COURT CONVICTS SAKIC xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE INJURED IN GRENADE ATTACK... Two assailants hurled two grenades into a crowd surrounding presidential candidate Natalya Vitrenko as she was leaving an electoral rally in Inhuletsk, near the city of Kryvyy Rih, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, on 2 October. Vitrenko, her aide Volodymyr Marchenko, and some 30 people in the crowd were injured in the blasts, and 18 people had to be hospitalized. "It was a terrorist attack aimed at eliminating Vitrenko," Marchenko commented. Police arrested two suspects from Rostov, Russia. The next day Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko said police suspect that the head of the Kryvyy Rih election team of Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz was involved in the attempt on Vitrenko's life. JM ...PROMPTING KUCHMA TO ORDER IMPROVED PROTECTION FOR ALL CANDIDATES. One day after the attack on Vitrenko, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma instructed the police to improve protection for all 14 candidates in the 31 October presidential elections. "President Kuchma is angered by what has happened. In this difficult situation, the president considers ensuring order and calm in the country during the election campaign a priority," Kuchma's spokesman Oleksandr Martynenko told Reuters. JM UKRAINE, GEORGIA PLEDGE CLOSER COOPERATION. During Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze's visit to Kyiv on 2 October, Ukraine and Georgia signed a declaration on increasing mutual support in all cooperation spheres and several intergovernmental agreements, Interfax reported. Both Shevardnadze and Kuchma emphasized the importance of developing cooperation within GUUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Moldova), adding that GUUAM is primarily an economic alliance, not a political-military bloc. JM UKRAINIAN MINERS STOP COAL DELIVERIES IN PROTEST. More than half of Ukraine's 209 coal mines ceased coal deliveries on 1 October, launching a seven-day protest to demand the payment of wage arrears and increased state support for the industry, Interfax reported. Leonid Davydov, a trade union leader, told Reuters that the miners want state subsidies raised to 4.8 billion hryvni ($1.06 billion) from the 1.8 million hryvni envisaged in the 2000 budget draft. Other demands include the payment of some 2 billion hryvni in wage arrears, a ban on the privatization of coal mines, a pension hike, and jobs for laid-off miners. JM SPLIT WITHIN BELARUSIAN POPULAR FRONT WIDENS. Activists of the opposition Belarusian Popular Front (BNF) who support BNF acting chairman Lyavon Barshcheuski convened a session of the BNF Board on 3 October, Belapan reported. The activists said the recent creation of the Conservative Christian Party of the BNF (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 September 1999) was illegal. They argued that the Conservative Christian Party of the BNF, which is headed by BNF exiled leader Zyanon Paznyak, cannot be considered a legal successor to the existing BNF. The BNF expects to resolve the problem of its leadership at a 30-31 October meeting, which will formally conclude the BNF congress held this summer (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 and 3 August 1999). JM LATVIAN AGENCY DROPS CASE OF ALLEGED BRIBES DURING PRESIDENTIAL VOTE. The Constitutional Protection Bureau has dropped the case of alleged bribery during Latvia's presidential election in June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 June 1999). Uldis Dzenitis, the bureau's deputy director, said there are no grounds to initiate court proceedings, LETA reported. Immediately after the 18 June presidential elections, the leader of the Social Democratic Workers Party, Juris Bojars, told the press that there had been several attempts of bribery to win the faction's vote in the parliament for candidates supported by Latvia's Way. President Vaira Vike-Freiberga won the contest as a compromise candidate after the first slate of candidates failed to gain the necessary majority. MH LATVIAN BUDGET SENT TO PARLIAMENT. The government on 1 October submitted the 2000 budget to the Latvian parliament. The debate of that bill is scheduled to begin on 21 October, and the final reading is expected to take place in early December, LETA reported. The consolidated national budget totals 1.43 billion lats ($2.47 billion), while income is projected at 1.36 billion lats, resulting in a deficit of some 2 percent of GDP. The so-called master state budget (which excludes municipalities) totals 755.7 million lats, while income is projected at 733.9 million lats. MH POLISH PREMIER APPOINTS NEW INTERIOR MINISTER. Jerzy Buzek on 4 October appointed Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) parliamentary deputy Marek Biernacki as interior minister, PAP reported. Biernacki replaces Janusz Tomaszewski, who lost his job last month over allegations of collaboration with the communist-era secret services. Buzek had promised to make personnel and structural changes to the cabinet last week but failed to do so. The Freedom Union, the AWS's partner in the ruling coalition, voted on 3 October to give Buzek one more week to restructure his cabinet. It also authorized party Leszek Balcerowicz to conduct talks with AWS leader Marian Krzaklewski over a "radical change" in the government lineup. JM CZECH PRESIDENT AGAIN CRITICIZES PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS... Vaclav Havel said on Prima television on 3 October that the proposed constitutional amendments curbing the presidential powers are "dangerous" and would abolish "the autonomous role of the president at a time when governments alternate [and] parliaments alternate." He added that the proposals also undermine "the fundamental reason for the president's existence in a parliamentary democracy," CTK reported. Havel explained that the amendments oblige the president to name a representative of the largest parliamentary group to form a new government. If that representative refuses, the president must appoint a representative of the second-largest parliamentary group; and if that person refuses the undertaking, he must appoint a candidate proposed by the parliament's chairman. But since the legislature is dissolved after elections, the formation of a new government can take a very long time, Havel added. MS ...SAYS CZECH REPUBLIC UNABLE TO COME TO TERMS WITH PAST. Havel also said that Czech Republic has proven unable to come to terms with its communist past and lacks a vision for the future. He said that coming to terms with the past does not mean "self-flagellation" or a "witch hunt" but that crimes must be punished "for the sake of historical hygiene." At the same time, he said that he does not support the idea that those sentenced should serve their prison terms. MS SLOVAKS NATIONALISTS ELECT WOMAN AS LEADER. A 2 October congress of the opposition Slovak National Party (SNS) elected Anna Malikova as party leader, SITA and CTK reported. Malikova received the backing of 251 delegates, while former Defense Minister Jan Sitek garnered 52 votes and honorary SNS chairman Vitazoslav Moric 31. Former chairman Jan Slota had interrupted the congress on 25 September by switching off lights after he was voted out of office (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 28 September 1999). He went on vacation to Croatia saying he does not want to "bother with the idiots in the parliament" who recently dismissed him as head of the parliamentary committee overseeing the Slovak Intelligence Service. Before his departure, Slota vowed to respect the decision of the SNS Supervisory Committee, which later ruled that his 25 September dismissal was in line with party statutes. MS SLOVAK PARLIAMENTARY CHAIRMAN CRITICIZED FOR STATEMENT ON CHECHNYA. Frantisek Sebej, chairman of the parliament's Integration Committee, said on 1 October that parliamentary chairman Jozef Migas's statement in support of the Russian bombing of Chechnya was a "serious error" that infringed on the "political philosophy of a democratic state," CTK reported. During a visit to Moscow on 30 September, Migas had said that "force must be met by force" and that the military conflict there was the result of "bandit and mafia-like structures" that want to provoke the conflict in order to engage in money laundering. Sebej said the bombing of Chechnya cannot be compared with the airstrikes in Kosova because "in Chechnya violence is unjustified." MS BUDAPEST MAYOR TO SUE EXTREMIST LEADER. Gabor Demszky, a member of the opposition Free Democrats (SZDSZ), will file suit against Istvan Csurka, chairman of the extreme-right Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIEP), Hungarian media reported on 4 October. In a newspaper article last week, Csurka accused Demszky of having been an informer for the communist secret services. Demszky denied that allegation and reminded reporters that he has been screened and deemed to have a clean past. SZDSZ National Council chairman Balint Magyar said "the affair is not simply about Csurka," as the major coalition party FIDESZ "gets MIEP to do their dirty work." MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE DRASKOVIC SAYS HE SURVIVED ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT. Serbian opposition leader Vuk Draskovic said that a road accident that he survived on 3 October was "an obvious assassination attempt," the Serbian dailies "Glas" and "Blic" reported. Draskovic said it was a "pure miracle" that he sustained only slight injuries in that accident, in which a truck from the oncoming traffic suddenly swerved into Draskovic's car. Draskovic's aide and brother-in-law, Veselin Boskovic, was killed. A second car carrying two of Draskovic's bodyguards and his security adviser, Zvonko Osmajlic, drove under the truck and exploded into flames. A third car carrying Draskovic's wife managed to avoid the accident. The incident took place about 40 kilometers southwest of Belgrade, near the village of Petka. The driver of the truck reportedly fled the scene, and witnesses said the truck did not brake. Draskovic is the leader of the Serbian Renewal Movement and served in the government of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic earlier this year. He has refused to take part in opposition rallies, saying they are ineffective, and instead has called for early elections. PB OPPOSITION PROTESTS IN BELGRADE, OTHER CITIES CONTINUE. Opposition protests organized by the Alliance for Change (SZP) continued, with some 15,000 people marching in Belgrade on 3 October, Reuters reported. Similar-sized marches were held the previous two days--all without any clashes with riot police, who blocked and altered the march routes on all those days. Zoran Djindjic, a leader of the SZP, said the government will provoke violence using its own agents in order to have a pretext to crack down on demonstrators. He said such "troublemakers" have been spotted marching with the protesters. Large rallies of up to 10,000 people were held in Nis and Novi Sad on 1-3 October. Various other protests took place in more than a dozen smaller towns, although a march in Canak was called off on 2 October owing to a strong police presence, the Belgrade-based Beta news agency reported. Nikola Djurickovic, an opposition leader who was arrested last week, was released from prison on 2 October. PB SERBIAN ACADEMICIANS CALL FOR NEW GOVERNMENT. Forty-five members of the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences signed a letter on 2 October demanding the resignation of the Serbian and Yugoslav governments, Radio B2-92 reported. Ljubomir Simovic said that the letter calls for new governments to lead the "people and the country...out of this abyss and embark on the road of recovery and return to the modern world." In other news, Radio B2-92 reported that the Belgrade daily "Glas javnosti," which was shut down last week, will resume publishing again on 4 October after Serbian authorities unsealed the newspaper's offices. PB THACI: BELGRADE WILL NEVER HAVE A SAY IN KOSOVA. Kosovar Albanian leader Hashim Thaci said on 3 October that "Belgrade will never again make decisions about Kosova," AP reported. Thaci, speaking to some 2,000 ethnic Albanians in the town of Gjilan, said "we will never again allow anyone outside of Kosova to decide about Kosova." Hydajet Hyseni, a former Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) officer, told the crowd that Kosova will be a "part of Europe...and with a defense force like everywhere else in Europe." Thaci said earlier that day that a military academy will be set up in Kosova to train officers for a future army of Kosova. He added that that the former UCK has agreed to set up a political party with the Party of Democratic Unity. The name of that party will be made public soon, he added. PB CLARK SAYS NATO HAS NO DATE FOR WITHDRAWING FROM BOSNIA, KOSOVA. NATO's Supreme Commander in Europe General Wesley Clark said on 1 October that the alliance has not set a date for withdrawing from either Bosnia-Herzegovina or Kosova, AP reported. Clark said NATO has a "strategy for success" in the Balkans and will continue to work to bring stability and peace to the region. Clark said he is satisfied with the UCK's compliance in demilitarizing. NATO has some 30,000 peacekeeping troops in Bosnia and nearly 50,000 in Kosova. PB TOWN IN KOSOVA UNDER BLOCKADE. NATO peacekeeping troops in Kosova (KFOR) continue to maintain a "total blockade" on the mainly Serbian town of Kosova Polje and the surrounding area, Beta reported on 3 October. Large groups of Serbs and ethnic Albanians are maintaining barricades on a road leading to the town and are only a few hundred meters away from each other. A grenade attack on an outdoor market in Kosova Polje killed two and left dozens injured (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 September 1999). KFOR troops are not allowing anyone to leave or enter the area except for journalists. Ethnic Albanians briefly set up a roadblock on the railroad line leading into the town. Around Kosova, three Serbs were reported killed: an elderly couple shot dead in their home near Prizren and a man attacked near his cornfield in the town of Vitina. PB HIGH COMMISSIONER REJECTS VICE PRESIDENT FOR TOP POST IN SRPSKA. Bosnian High Representative Wolfgang Petritsch rejected an application for the vacant presidential post of the Republika Srpska, AP reported on 1 October. Mirko Sarovic, who had served as deposed President Nikola Poplasen's vice president, will not be allowed to take the post, which has been open since Poplasen was sacked in March. Poplasen has refused to recognize his dismissal. Both Poplasen and Sarovic are leading members of the Serbian Democratic Party of war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic. PB DODIK PLEDGES COOPERATION WITH TRIBUNAL. Bosnian Serb Premier Milorad Dodik said upon returning from a visit to the U.S. on 3 October that the Republika Srpska will start cooperating with the UN war crimes tribunal at The Hague, AP reported. Dodik said "there will be no secret indictments if the Republika Srpska establishes cooperation with the tribunal." Bosnian Serbs have thus far refused to detain or hand over indicted war-crimes suspects, thereby limiting international aid to that portion of Bosnia. PB SLOVENIAN POLITICIAN FOUND DEAD. Janez Gajsek, a Slovenian parliamentary deputy and prominent member of the Christian Democratic Party, was found dead on 1 October about 500 meters from where his car was parked, Croatian Radio reported. Reports say a suicide note was found with the body. Gajsek was reported missing a week or so ago. PB CROATIAN COURT CONVICTS SAKIC. Dinko Sakic, the last known living commander of a World War II concentration camp, was found guilty in Zagreb on 4 October of crimes against humanity and sentenced to the maximum sentence of 20 years, AP reported. Chief Judge Drazen Tripalo said the seven-member panel found Sakic guilty of all charges, saying he "maltreated, tortured, and killed inmates and did nothing to prevent his subordinates from doing the same." He was also found guilty of personally killing four inmates. Sakic can appeal the verdict to the Supreme Court. PB BERISHA RE-ELECTED PARTY HEAD. Former Albanian President Sali Berisha was re-elected chairman of the opposition Democratic Party on 1 October, Reuters reported. The vote followed a purge of moderate leaders in the party (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 October 1999). Berisha received 594 out of 693 votes. Berisha called for Genc Pollo, who withdrew his challenge to Berisha, to remain a member of the party. In other news, Albanian Premier Pandeli Majko, upon returning from an official visit to the U.S., dismissed Berisha's calls for early elections, saying the 2001 ballot will take place as scheduled. Majko said his trip to the U.S. was "very successful." He met with IMF and World Bank officials as well as with many U.S. politicians. PB ROMANIAN OPPOSITION PROTESTS AGAINST 'RECONCILIATION PARK.' The Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) and the Greater Romania Party on 1 October criticized the government's intention to create together with the Hungarian government a "park of historic reconciliation" in Arad (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 September 1999), RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The PDSR said that a monument to displayed in the park commemorating the 13 Hungarian generals executed by the Austrians in 1848 has "a profound anti-national and anti-Romanian character." PDSR First Deputy Chairman Adrian Nastase said the ruling coalition is an "accomplice in serving the interests of Hungarian revisionism." On 4 October, the Vatra romaneasca cultural organization is to protest the planned monument, which it called "a symbol of the Hungarian state." MS FORMER BULGARIAN KING TO TAKE POSSESSION OF RESTORED PROPERTIES. Exiled King Simeon II arrived in Bulgaria on 1 October for a 10-day visit during which he will take possession of the properties that were returned to him under a Constitutional Court ruling last year, BTA reported. The former monarch said on arriving that he has not yet decided what to do with the restored properties, which include palaces near Sofia and in Tsarska Bistrica, as well as hunting lodges, a farm, and a village house. During a visit in 1998, Simeon said he might consider having the properties run "for the public benefit," AP reported. MS SOCIALIST MAYOR CANDIDATE MURDERED IN BULGARIA. The Socialist Party candidate for mayor of the village of Starevetsi in the Pleven district, northern Bulgaria, was found murdered on 2 October, BTA reported, citing Bulgarian police. Police said Yanko Kozhoukarov was injured "with a sharp object in the region of the heart." Meanwhile, the campaign for the 16 October local elections is heating up. Socialist Party leader Georgi Parvanov said in the parliament on 3 October that the opposition is subjected to "intimidation," while Movement for Rights and Freedoms leader Ahmed Dogan remarked at a meeting with voters that the government's campaign is "imprudent." Interior Minister Bogumil Bonev dismissed as "absurd" claims by Dogan's party that mosques will be demolished if his party's candidates are not elected in Turkish villages. 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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