If you are not allowed to laugh in heaven, I don't want to go there. - Martin Luther
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 194, Part II, 5 October 1999


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 194, Part II, 5 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

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Headlines, Part II

* REGISTRATION OF BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION NEWSPAPER REVOKED

* TRUCK DRIVER IN SERBIAN FATAL ACCIDENT REPORTED FOUND

* SAKIC TO APPEAL VERDICT

End Note: GENIE OUT OF THE BOTTLE?
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

REGISTRATION OF BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION NEWSPAPER REVOKED.
Belarus's State Press Committee has revoked the registration
of nine periodicals, including "Nasha svaboda," the successor
to the opposition newspaper "Naviny," which closed down
following the imposition of a heavy fine (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 29 September 1999), Belapan reported on 4 October.
The committee said the registration was revoked because the
periodicals failed to produce documents confirming that the
appropriate local authorities had approved the location of
their offices. Mikhalay Khalezin, deputy chief editor of
"Naviny"/"Nasha svaboda," told Belapan that the move is "a
pretext to prevent our newspaper from coming out, and one
should not look for any legal motive here." JM

GERMAN JUDGES AWARD BELARUSIAN LAWYER HUMAN RIGHTS PRIZE. The
German Association of Judges on 4 October awarded its human
rights prize to Belarusian lawyer Vera Stremkouskaya for "her
courage in supporting politically persecuted persons," dpa
reported. Stremkouskaya is one of a handful of Belarusian
lawyers who defend Belarusian dissidents and oppositionists
in court. The Belarusian Justice Ministry has threatened to
bar Stremkouskaya from practicing law, while the Belarusian
Lawyers' Association has reprimanded her for what it calls
her political involvement. JM

BELARUS FAILS TO AGREE ON MONETARY MERGER WITH RUSSIA.
Belarusian National Bank head Pyotr Prakapovich said on 4
October that negotiations with Russia's Central Bank on the
unification of the Belarusian and Russian monetary systems
have failed to yield results, Belapan reported. Belarus had
proposed setting up a Currency Council (composed of Russia's
and Belarus's Central Banks as well as their Finance and
Economy Ministries) as a joint issuing center and gradually
making the "Russian non-cash ruble" the union's currency.
Russia proposed to make its central bank as the only issuing
center and to switch "overnight" to the "Russian non-cash
ruble" "within three to five years from now." Prakapovich
noted that "it will be very difficult to find a
compromise...because there is anarchy in Russia right now and
it is difficult for the Central Bank to adopt fundamental
decisions." JM

UKRAINE'S PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFULS SEE ATTACK ON VITRENKO AS
THEATENING ELECTIONS... Following the attempt on Natalya
Vitrenko's life (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 October 1999),
other presidential candidates have commented on the incident
and its possible consequences. Socialist Party head Oleksandr
Moroz rejected allegations that he had anything to do with
the attack, saying the incident was linked to "plans of the
present regime to introduce a state of emergency and thwart
the elections at any cost." Parliamentary speaker Oleksandr
Tkachenko said the attack was intended to "intimidate people"
in order to dissuade them from attending campaign meetings.
According to Tkachenko, the attack is "advantageous" only for
President Leonid Kuchma. Yuriy Kostenko, one of Rukh's two
presidential candidates, said the attack will boost
Vitrenko's popularity and reduce Moroz's election chances. JM

...BUT KUCHMA VOWS THEY'LL TAKE PLACE AS PLANNED. President
Kuchma commented on 4 October that the attack on Vitrenko was
a "well-planned provocation" ordered by someone who wants to
"exacerbate the social and political situation and derail the
presidential elections." He stressed that the presidential
ballot will be held on 31 October, as planned. Interior
Ministry Yuriy Kravchenko confirmed the same day that the
police are searching for Serhiy Ivanchenko, head of Moroz's
regional election staff in Kryvyy Rih, who is suspected of
masterminding the attack. Meanwhile, doctors at the hospital
at which Vitrenko is receiving treatment said on 3 October
that her life is not threatened (see also "End Note" below).
JM

LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT IN ESTONIA. During his state visit to
Estonia on 4-5 October, Valdas Adamkus focused on improving
bilateral ties and promoting Baltic cooperation at meetings
with President Lennart Meri, Prime Minister Mart Laar, and
parliamentary speaker Toomas Savi, ELTA and ETA reported.
During a press conference held by the two presidents, Adamkus
stressed that there is "healthy competition" between the two
states, while Meri said that the three Baltic countries are
integral parts of Europe and should become equal members of
"the European community." Meri also suggested that "Eastern
Europe begins at the eastern border of Estonia." MH

LITHUANIAN EX-PRESIDENT LEADS ANTI-WILLIAMS CAMPAIGN. Former
President Algirdas Brazauskas, along with a group of
scientists and left-leaning politicians, has called on the
government to cancel the deal to sell a majority stake in
Mazeikiai Oil to the U.S. company Williams International. In
an open letter to the government, Brazauskas and the other
signatories stressed that the deal may cause "huge damage to
Lithuania," ELTA reported. Among the signatories were members
of the opposition Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party and the
Women's Party, former Energy Minister Leonas Asmontas,
Vilnius University rector Rolandas Pavilionis, and head of
the Lithuanian Energy Institute Jurgis Vilemas. The
Lithuanian government and Williams are continuing
negotiations, having frequently postponed reaching a final
agreement. MH

EU COMMISSIONER BACKS POLAND'S ENTRY IN 2003. Guenther
Verheugen, the EU commissioner for enlargement, said after
his meeting with Polish Foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek in
Brussels on 4 October that the EU will take enlargement
decisions in 2002, PAP reported. "I fully support the Polish
intention [and] the Polish ambition to become a member of the
EU in 2003," Verheugen told reporters. He called Poland's
desire to become a full-fledged EU member at the beginning of
2003 a "very ambitious but not unrealistic goal." JM

POLISH RADICAL FARMERS' LEADER ANNOUNCES GENERAL PROTEST.
Andrzej Lepper, head of the radical farmers' union Self-
Defense, said on 4 October that a general protest involving
"all social groups" and a "total blockade" of the country
will take place in mid-November, PAP reported. According to
Lepper, the goal of the protest is the dissolution of the
parliament and early elections. He is currently organizing a
new political alliance--the Peasant National Bloc "Self-
Defense"--as an alternative to Solidarity Electoral Action
and the Left Democratic Alliance. With regard to Poland's
integration into the EU, Lepper stressed it must be based on
partner-like relations. Poland must not be transformed into a
"market for the West's production surplus," he added. JM

CZECH TOWN BEGINS PREPARATIONS FOR ANTI-ROMA WALL. A metal
fence separating Roma residents from their neighbors was
dismantled in the northern Czech town of Usti nad Labem on 4
October to make way for a planned ceramic wall, AP reported,
citing local newspapers. The wall is to be completed by the
end of October. CTK quoted Roma representatives as saying
that the wall is a "concrete expression of the clear
persecution of Roma" and "a conscious and planned escalation
of tension and confrontation." The regional Board of Romany
Representatives said that many Roma are abandoning their
homes and emigrating, adding that "it is essential to
mobilize all Romany [forces], both at home and abroad, to
collectively fight for human and civic rights." MS

CZECH PREMIER SAYS AUSTRIAN ELECTION RESULTS "FOOD FOR
THOUGHT.' Milos Zeman on 4 October said that the success of
the far-right Austrian Freedom Party in the 3 October
parliamentary elections demonstrates that a party
representing "xenophobic and racialist thinking" can garner
serious support even in one of the most [economically]
prosperous EU countries. This, he added, must be "food for
thought" for all democratic politicians, CTK reported.
Parliamentary chairman Vaclav Klaus said that the Austrian
"grand coalition" has lasted for too long. "The Austrians
wanted a change and they implemented it," he said. Freedom
Union deputy chairman Petr Mares said the attempt in
Austria to "limit the electoral system to a two-party
system...pushed 27 percent of Austrian voters" to the far-
right. This should be "a warning" for the Czech Republic,
where a similar process is ongoing and where "we have the
Communist chairman Miroslav Grebenicek instead of [Joerg]
Haider," he noted. MS

MECIAR'S SECRECY OATH ABROGATED. Slovak Counter
Intelligence (SIS) chief Vladimir Mitro has annulled former
Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's secrecy oath, thereby
enabling him to give testimony on the role played by former
SIS chief Ivan Lexa in the 1995 abduction of ex-President
Michal Kovac's son, CTK reported on 4 October. Meciar has
repeatedly said that the investigation into the abduction
is illegal and unconstitutional and that he will begin a
hunger strike if forced to testify. Lexa's former deputy,
Jaroslav Svechota, who confessed to involvement in the
abduction, said earlier this year that Meciar was the
"architect" of the abduction. MS

BELGIAN AUTHORITIES TO DEPORT SLOVAK ROMA. As of 5 October,
the Belgian authorities are to deport Slovak Roma whose
applications for political asylum have been rejected, SITA
reported. Deputy Prime minister in charge of minority
issues Pal Csaky said on 4 October that the cost of flights
from Brussels will be covered by a Slovak fund supporting
Roma. He said transportation by land would not be cheaper
because "escorts" would have to be provided and "some Roma
could get lost on their way home, which would be
embarrassing." Csaky rejected human rights organizations'
criticism of the decision to deport the Roma, saying that
the step is in line with Belgian laws and international
conventions. MS

HUNGARIAN PARTIES REACT TO AUSTRIAN ELECTIONS. The
opposition extreme-right Hungarian Justice and Life Party
(MIEP) has expressed satisfaction with the Freedom Party's
success in the 3 October Austrian general elections. MIEP
spokesman Bela Gyori said that Joerg Haider's party deals
with genuine problems, such as globalization and
international migration, and that MIEP's answers to these
questions are very similar to those offered by the Austrian
party. Istvan Simicsko of FIDESZ said the Austrian right-
wing success "gives pause for thought from the point of
view of Hungary's accession to the EU." Socialist Party
Chairman Laszlo Kovacs expressed concern over Austria's
reputation abroad and said he doubts the country will have
a stable government. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

TRUCK DRIVER FROM FATAL ACCIDENT IN SERBIA FOUND. The driver
of the truck involved in the 3 October road accident
involving members of the opposition Serbian Renewal Movement
(SPO) has been found, Reuters reported on 5 October. SPO
leader Vuk Draskovic was slightly injured while the other
four passengers in the two cars involved all died (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 4 October 1999). Draskovic and other party
members have called the accident an assassination attempt.
Draskovic's lawyer, Borivoje Borovic, said no details about
the driver are known. He said an investigation will determine
if the incident was "an attempted murder or a traffic
accident." Memorial services are to be held on 5 and 6
October for those killed in the accident, including
Draskovic's brother-in-law. Draskovic called on Serbs to turn
out for the funerals. Some observers speculate that the
accident was an attempt by the government to silence
Draskovic's Studio B TV station, which has been showing
extensive footage of the police actions against demonstrators
in Belgrade. The station has been jammed continuously over
the last month, Assistant Director Milos Rajkovic told the
Beta news agency. He said that at times, the signal can be
received by only one-third of Belgrade. PB

SERBIAN POLICE AGAIN BLOCK PROTEST MARCH. Serbian riot police
once again blocked the route of some 10,000 protesters taking
part in an anti-government demonstration in Belgrade on 4
October, Radio Index reported. It was the 14th consecutive
day of demonstrations around the country organized by the
Alliance for Change (SZP). About 10,000 people were reported
to have demonstrated in Nis and some 5,000 in Novi Sad. The
Beta news agency reported that 25,000 rallied in the central
town of Kragujevac, where SZP leader Zoran Djindjic told the
crowd that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic "wants to
stay in power at any cost and we want to expel him at any
cost." In the eastern Serbian town of Bor, the local branch
of Draskovic's SPO joined an SZP protest for the first time.
Draskovic has called the protests ineffective. PB

UN HUMAN RIGHTS ENVOY TO PROPOSE LIFTING OF SANCTIONS.
Special UN Human Rights Rapporteur Jiri Dienstbier said in
Nis that he will propose that economic sanctions against
Yugoslavia be suspended, Beta reported on 4 October.
Dienstbier said that "the countries that introduced sanctions
against the former Republic of Yugoslavia and bombed it will
be responsible for deaths from exposure and starvation" if
the sanctions continue. He added that "Milosevic and others
[in power] will have enough food and heating." Dienstbier
said he will make his recommendation to the UN General
Assembly. He also condemned the police actions against
demonstrators in Belgrade. PB

SERBIAN DAILY RESUMES PUBLICATION. Following a two-day ban,
the Belgrade independent daily "Glas javnosti" reappeared on
newsstands on 4 October, Radio B2-92 reported. But Director
Slavoljuib Kacarevic said that the newspaper's problems "are
not over." He revealed that members of the state "financial
police" were stationed in the editorial department and claim
to be conducting a secret investigation. Kacarevic added that
he signed a police statement declaring he was aware of his
responsibility "regarding any possible and existing objection
to our work." In other news, Yugoslav Telecommunications
Minister Ivan Markovic said the state will take steps against
media "aggression" in Yugoslavia. He said the rebroadcasting
of foreign programs by domestic radio stations is part of
this aggression. PB

SERBIA FREES 54 KOSOVAR PRISONERS. The International Red
Cross said on 4 October that Serbia released 54 ethnic
Albanian prisoners who were arrested in Kosova, AP reported.
The prisoners were being held in the Sremska Mitrovica prison
in Vojvodina. The chairman of the Serbian Bar Association,
Milan Vujin, said that the prisoners were released because
"it had been established during the investigation...that
there were no conditions for initiating criminal procedures
(against them)." The Red Cross said it has access to some
1,900 prisoners who were arrested by the Serbs in Kosova but
are now held outside the province. PB

NATO PEACEKEEPERS REMOVE BARRICADES IN KOSOVAR TOWN.
International peacekeepers in Kosova (KFOR) removed a
barricade on a highway near the town of Kosova Polje on 5
October, Reuters reported. KFOR said it had met all Serbian
demands--including the doubling of the number of troops in
the mostly ethnic-Serb town and stationing more police there-
-before removing the blockade. KFOR also removed a blockade
set up by ethnic Albanians some 300 meters from a Serbian
blockade. It had warned both sides the previous day that it
would remove the blockades if they were not taken down
voluntarily. PB

KFOR SPOKESMAN CRITICIZES THACI. KFOR spokesman Roland Lavoie
said on 4 October in Prishtina that remarks made by Kosovar
Albanian leader Hashim Thaci were "factually incorrect" and
"inflammatory," AP reported. Thaci had said the previous day
that the newly formed Kosova Protection Corps will be headed
by leaders from the disbanded Kosova Liberation Army and will
eventually run a military academy (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4
October 1999). Lavoie said that the corps must be apolitical,
that Thaci will have no influence over the group, and that it
will not have a military training academy. In other news,
Tanjug reported that some 80 people returned to Kosova from
Nis on 4 October. PB

SAKIC TO APPEAL VERDICT. Defense attorneys for convicted war
criminal Dinko Sakic said on 4 October that they will appeal
the verdict against him, Hina reported. The lawyers said the
verdict delivered by the presiding judge, Drazen Tripalo, was
"vague and too general." Tommy Baer, the honorary chairman of
the B'nai B'rith organization, commended the guilty verdict.
He said Croatia has shown "that it does not fear facing its
past and learning the lessons from a painful chapter in its
history." Baer was invited by Croatian President Franjo
Tudjman to attend the trial as an international observer. The
U.S. State Department also praised the decision, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported. PB

SLOVENIA CONCERNED ABOUT MINORITY IN AUSTRIA AFTER ELECTIONS.
Slovenian Foreign Minister Boris Frlec said on 4 October that
the success of Austria's nationalist Freedom Party in the 3
October elections could cause concern among the Slovenian
minority living in Austria's Carinthia region, the Slovenian
agency STA reported. Frlec said, however, that he is hopeful
that good relations between Ljubljana and Vienna will
continue and that the Freedom Party's opposition to further
expansion of the EU will not hurt Slovenia's chances of
joining the union. PB

DISCORD OVER ROMANIAN-HUNGARIAN 'RECONCILIATION PARK.'
Romanian Premier Radu Vasile will not attend the
inauguration of the Romanian-Hungarian reconciliation park
in Arad on 6 October and has delegated Deputy Premier and
Justice Minister Valeriu Stoica to represent him, Romanian
Radio reported on 5 October. No reason for this change of
plan was given. Hungarian Radio reported that Prime
Minister Viktor Orban, who was also to attend the ceremony,
will decide on 5 October whether to be present in view of
Vasile's decision. Meanwhile, the Arad local council on 5
October voted against making available the land earmarked
for the projected park. MS

ROMANIAN SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC LEADER STEPS DOWN. Sergiu
Cunescu, leader of the Social Democratic Party of Romania
(PSDR), will not seek re-election at the party's congress
scheduled for 16 October, Mediafax reported on 3 October.
The two main candidates for that post, Labor and Social
Protection Minister Alexandru Athanasiu and PSDR first vice
chairman Emil Putin, submitted their electoral platform to
the party's National Council on 3 October. Putin wants the
PSDR to withdraw from the ruling coalition and to resume
talks on a merger with the Alliance for Romania and the
Socialist Party. Athanasiu opposes forming any alliance
before the 2000 local elections and is in favor of the
PSDR's continuing membership in the coalition. MS

MOLDOVA TO SET UP ETHNIC BULGARIAN COUNTY. The government
on 4 October announced the setting up of a Taraclia county,
thereby approving the recommendations of a commission
headed by Deputy Premier Nicolae Andronic, RFE/RL's
Chisinau bureau reported. The former Taraclia district
became part of Cahul county following the recent local
administration reform, prompting protests by its mostly
ethnic Bulgarian residents and causing tension in relations
with Sofia. Government spokesman Nicolae Chirtoaca said
that Premier Ion Sturza is "aware" that the decision will
trigger "negative reactions" from some "political
formations" wanting to make election capital out of the
decision and intending to "use radicalism" for this
purpose. He said the new county cannot be viewed as
"setting a precedent" because it will not enjoy any sort of
"administrative, territorial, cultural, or other form of
autonomy." MS

BULGARIAN VICE PRESIDENT THREATENS TO LEAVE RULING COALITION.
Vice President Todor Kavaldzhiev says his small Agrarian
National Union (BANU) may pull out of the ruling coalition
because it is dissatisfied with the role its senior partners
have assigned it in the upcoming local elections, AP reported
on 4 October, citing BTA. Kavaldzhiev said BANU
representatives were placed at the bottom of candidate lists
for the 16 October elections and were not included in the
electoral commissions that will monitor vote counting. BANU
has eight seats in the United Democratic Forces parliamentary
group. MS

END NOTE

GENIE OUT OF THE BOTTLE?

by Jan Maksymiuk

	At about 8:00 p.m. on 2 October, two assailants threw
two hand grenades into a crowd surrounding presidential
hopeful Natalya Vitrenko following a campaign meeting in
Inhuletsk, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast. The blast reportedly
injured more than 30 people, including Vitrenko and her aide
Volodymyr Marchenko. The motives for the attempt on 48-year-
old Vitrenko's life remain unknown. Meanwhile, the incident
may have an impact on the election campaign as a whole as
well as voters' preferences in the 31 October ballot, given
that the public tends to sympathize with the assailed, rather
than the assailants.
	Vitrenko, the only woman candidate in the 31 October
elections, heads the Progressive Socialist Party. In 1996,
she quit Oleksandr Moroz's Socialist Party, accusing Moroz of
"bourgeois views." She went on to launch her own party and
win 14 parliamentary seats in the March 1998 elections.
	Vitrenko's platform for the presidential elections
combines fierce populism, nostalgia for the Soviet era, and
strong anti-Western sentiments. Polls in Ukraine, which many
believe to be unreliable and biased, consistently put her in
second or third place, after President Leonid Kuchma and
Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko. In the mock
presidential elections held among more than 100,000 Ukrainian
students on 28 September, Vitrenko won 12.57 percent backing
to come in second after Kuchma.
	It appears that Vitrenko's election appeal is not
limited to any specific social or professional group. As the
support she won among students shows, her rhetoric is
appealing to various social strata. And all press reports
about her campaign meetings--regardless of whether reporters
are favorable or hostile toward her--underscore the fact that
those meetings are usually well attended and animated.
Vitrenko is not only a populist but also a popular candidate.
	Many Ukrainian commentators have suggested that the
presidential administration initially supported Vitrenko's
political career and her current presidential bid in an
attempt to split Ukraine's leftist electorate--especially
that of Moroz--and pave the way for Kuchma's re-election. To
support that argument, those commentators note that several
months ago Vitrenko was seen on Ukrainian state-controlled
television almost every day, while other left-wing leaders
were granted only rare coverage. They also believe that in
exchange for those official favors, Vitrenko's parliamentary
caucus has on several occasions blocked anti-Kuchma
legislation in the parliament.
	It is revealing that Vitrenko has now virtually
disappeared from the state-controlled electronic media. In
fact, if the Kuchma-Vitrenko collaboration theory holds
water, her disappearance from that media may mean she has
already fulfilled her mission of splitting the leftist vote.
It may also mean, however, that the presidential entourage
senses an "electoral danger" to Kuchma from Vitrenko herself.
Some observers have already voiced the opinion that by
promoting Vitrenko's political career, Kuchma has let the
genie out of the bottle and may now face a powerful challenge
from the candidate he apparently wanted to use as a mere tool
against his political foes.
	The case of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in Belarus
provides an interesting parallel to that of Vitrenko in
Ukraine. In 1993, then Prime Minister Vyachaslau Kebich used
Lukashenka, an unknown lawmaker at that time, in the power
struggle against Supreme Soviet Chairman Stanislau
Shushkevich. Kebich gave Lukashenka the go-ahead to deliver a
parliamentary report on corruption, which resulted in
Shushkevich's ouster. But that report simultaneously placed
Lukashenka in the nationwide spotlight and made him a popular
hero. In July 1994, Lukashenka won a landslide victory on an
extreme populist ticket in the country's first presidential
elections. Among the losers were both Shushkevich and Kebich.
	Moreover, during the 1994 presidential campaign in
Belarus, Lukashenka's election team claimed that someone had
made an attempt on Lukashenka's life by shooting at him when
he was travelling by car to a campaign meeting. Investigators
found neither assailants nor convincing evidence that
Lukashenka's life had been threatened, but the incident was
widely reported. Some commentators continue to assert that
Lukashenka staged the assassination in order to boost his
popularity. In any case, Lukashenka garnered almost 80
percent support in the 1994 ballot.
	The 2 October grenade attack on Vitrenko will likely
reinforce her already relatively strong standing as a
presidential hopeful and within the political arena as a
whole. Simultaneously, it may weaken the position of the
incumbent president and, possibly, some other hopefuls. There
have already been many allegations and complaints that during
the presidential campaign in Ukraine, the authorities have
violated election legislation and harassed Kuchma's rivals.
The armed attack against one of the candidates will only add
to the general atmosphere of distrust, uncertainty, and
dissatisfaction in a country plagued by economic inefficiency
and endangered by political authoritarianism.

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