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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 195, Part II, 6 October 1999
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 195, Part II, 6 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 * BELARUSIAN POLICE RAIDS OFFICE OF HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP * ONE DEAD, SEVERAL INJURED AFTER CLASH IN DIVIDED KOSOVAR TOWN * MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT GETTING IMPATIENT WITH BELGRADE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE BELARUSIAN POLICE RAIDS OFFICE OF HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP. Belarusian police officers, some of which were in plainclothes, entered the office of the Spring-96 human rights group in Minsk on 4 October without a search warrant and confiscated its office equipment, Belapan reported on 5 October. Ales Byalatski, head of the Spring-96 group, said the confiscated computers stored data on human rights violations in Belarus. Byalatski is an expert for the opposition delegation to the OSCE-mediated talks with the authorities. Byalatski added that Deputy Interior Minister Mikhail Udovikau was among those searching the office but did not identify himself. JM BELARUS, RUSSIA AGREE TO PUBLISH UNION TREATY DRAFT NEXT WEEK. Russian Minister for CIS Affairs Leonid Drachevskii and Belarusian Premier Syarhey Linh, meeting in Minsk on 5 October, agreed that the draft of a Russia-Belarus union treaty and a program for its implementation will be published in both countries' press next week, ITAR-TASS reported. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka said last week that the treaty draft is a "laughing stock" and that he does not intend to publish it (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 October 1999). Following the publication of the draft, the Executive Committee of the Russia-Belarus Union will consider all comments and proposals on the treaty. Drachevskii said the two sides expect the treaty to be signed and ratified this year. JM UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT SETS UP GROUP TO LOOK INTO ATTACK ON VITRENKO... The Supreme Council on 5 October set up a special commission of 16 lawmakers to investigate the 2 October grenade attack on presidential candidate Natalya Vitrenko. Prosecutor-General Mykhaylo Potebenko told the parliament the same day that the attack on Vitrenko was masterminded by Serhiy Ivanchenko, a campaign organizer for Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz. The police arrested two suspects immediately after the attack and spotted Ivanchenko in Rostov Oblast, Russia, but failed to detain him. Meanwhile, the OSCE has issued a statement saying that the attack is a "horrible crime" and "fully contradicts the spirit and letter of OSCE principles for free elections." JM ...OVERRIDES KUCHMA'S VETO ON ELECTION LAW AMENDMENTS. Also on 5 October, the parliament overrode President Leonid Kuchma's veto on amendments to the presidential election law. One amendment stipulates that every member of the district and territorial electoral commissions be given a copy of the protocol listing voting results. Lawmaker Oleksandr Yelyashkevich urged his colleagues to override the veto by saying that without the above-mentioned amendment, Ukraine will face a "large-scale falsification" of the vote. The same day, the parliament failed to override Kuchma's veto on a bill introducing immunity for local council deputies. JM SEPTEMBER POLL SAYS KUCHMA STILL TOP HOPEFUL. In a poll conducted from 17-24 September by the Ukrainian Institute of Social Studies and the Social Monitoring Center among 3,079 Ukrainians, 24.8 percent or respondents said they will vote for incumbent President Leonid Kuchma, Interfax reported. Natalya Vitrenko has 12.2 percent support, Petro Symonenko 9.9 percent, Oleksandr Moroz 8.6 percent, Yevhen Marchuk 4.9 percent, Oleksandr Tkachenko 2.8 percent, and Hennadiy Udovenko 1.2 percent. According to the poll, 81.5 percent of respondents want to participate in the ballot, while 14.4 percent said they do not want to. JM BALTIC MILITARY LEADERS MEET IN ESTONIA. The acting commander of Estonia's Defense Forces, Colonel Urmas Roosimagi, met with his Baltic counterparts, Colonel Raimonds Graube of Latvia and Brigadier General Jonas Kronkaitis of Lithuania, in Tallinn on 4-5 October. The three commanders discussed various cooperation projects, such as the joint airspace monitoring program BALTNET and the Baltic Defense College in Tartu, Estonia. They also discussed preliminary plans to set up a joint naval training center in the Latvian port city of Liepaja. Graube spoke out in favor of joint training of troops from the three countries and of opening joint training centers in Latvia and Lithuania, BNS reported. Kronkaitis announced that the BALTNET headquarters in Lithuania will be opened in January 2000. MH LATVIAN REFERENDUM PETITION DRIVE ENDS. The petition drive for a referendum on government-proposed changes to the pension system ended on 5 October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 September 1999). One-tenth of Latvia's electorate--about 135,000 individuals--have to sign the petition for the measures to go to referendum. The results will not be announced until 12 October. Both supporters and detractors of the petition drive believe a sufficient number of signatures were obtained, with preliminary information suggesting about 185,000 signatures were collected, "Neatkariga Rita Avize" reported. The controversial amendments would raise the retirement age to 62 and restrict pension payments to working pensioners. MH LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES LAWS ON MAZEIKIAI SALE... The parliament on 5 October passed a package of laws providing for the sale of a stake in Mazeikiai Oil to the U.S. company Williams International. Under the legislation, international financiers and suppliers will also take smaller stakes. The amendments also provide a state guarantee for loans totaling up to $650 million for Mazeikiai's reconstruction. The opposition has said it will contest the legislation in court. MH ...BUT WILL CRUDE ALSO COME FROM IRAN? Following a trip to Iran, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates, Lithuanian Economics Minister Eugenijus Maldeikis has suggested that Lithuania could get crude from Iran, BNS reported on 4 October. A Foreign Ministry representative subsequently told journalists that the idea is not a "sensation." He added that Lithuania concurs with the EU's "critical dialogue policy" toward Iran. However, observers believe that given U.S. policies toward Iran, such a deal could derail the teetering negotiations between Williams International and Lithuania over Mazeikiai Oil. MH POLAND'S SOCIAL SECURITY AGENCY CHIEF RESIGNS. Stanislaw Alot, head of the social security agency (ZUS), resigned on 5 October after criticizing the government for providing too little money for pensions in the 2000 budget draft. Both Premier Jerzy Buzek and Deputy Premier Leszek Balcerowicz had expressed anger over Alot's criticism, saying it was "inexcusable" and "outrageous." Alot's resignation, if accepted, will likely facilitate the current talks between the Solidarity Electoral Action and the Freedom Union (UW) on restructuring the cabinet. The UW's Balcerowicz has repeatedly demanded Alot's dismissal, arguing that the ZUS is mismanaged. JM U.S. FIRST LADY APPLAUDS POLISH REFORMS. Hillary Rodham Clinton said on 5 October in Warsaw that the results of Poland's transition to democracy and the free market economy are admired "not only in the U.S. but around the world." She added that "the enterprise, the intelligence, and the hard work of the Polish people will make Poland a leader...of people looking for democracy and freedom all over the world." The U.S. first lady met with Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, visited a newly opened Jewish school in Warsaw, and toured a clothing factory. JM CZECH ROMA OBSTRUCT CONSTRUCTION OF CONTROVERSIAL WALL. Romany residents of Usti nad Labem on 5 October obstructed the start of construction of a wall intended to separate Roma from other residents. Ondrej Gina, spokesman for the association of Roma regional representatives, told CTK that the protesters "prevented the construction with [their] own bodies" because the wall is "proof that Roma are persecuted in the Czech Republic." He added that Roma intend to file a criminal suit against the town's mayor. A spokesman for the local police said there are no grounds for the police to interfere in the protest. MS CZECHS 'UNDERSTAND' AUSTRIA'S APPREHENSION OVER TEMELIN. Chief Czech negotiator with the EU Pavel Telicka on 5 October said the Czech Republic "understands" the apprehensions in Austria about the completion of the controversial nuclear plant in Temelin, but he added that the intention is to operate the plant with Western "state-of-the-art technology," CTK reported. On 1 October, Foreign Minister Jan Kavan commented that "one state" has blocked the latest round of negotiations in Brussels on nuclear energy and accession to the EU. The previous day, Slovenian negotiator Janez Potocnik said in Brussels that Austria demands that accession candidates pledge to respect the "highest existing standards" of nuclear safety. MS SLOVAK ROMA DEPORTED FROM BELGIUM. A Slovak plane carrying 74 Roma deported from Belgium landed in Kosice on 5 October, CTK reported. The Roma were expelled, despite the fact that the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg upheld a complaint by the Belgian League for Human Rights and asked Belgium to postpone the deportation by eight days pending a verdict. A spokesman for the Belgian Interior Ministry said that the ruling is nonbinding and that Belgium is acting in accordance with the law since it is convinced that the court would have reached the same conclusion. Earlier, parliamentary deputies from the Ecolo (Green) party and the Flemish Socialist Party, both members of the ruling coalition, protested the Belgian police's alleged use of a pretext to lure the Roma to police stations and then detain them. MS EU COMMISSIONER URGES ACCESSION TALKS WITH SLOVAKIA. Guenter Verheugen, EU commissioner in change of expansion, told the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 5 October that accession talks with Slovakia must begin. Verheugen said that Mikulas Dzurinda's cabinet has "eliminated" the political reasons that hindered the beginning of the talks under the previous government, CTK reported. MS SLOVAKIA STARTS LOADING SECOND NUCLEAR REACTOR AT MOCHOVCE PLANT. A spokesman for the Mochovce nuclear plant on 5 October told SITA that loading of the second nuclear reactor at the plant began one day earlier. Foreign Ministry State Secretary Jan Figel on 5 October told journalists that he does not believe Austria will seek to undermine negotiations with Slovakia on EU integration. Figel said all EU members with the exception of Austria welcome the plan to close down the Jaslovske Bohunice plant by 2008. He added that Slovakia rejects Austrian Chancellor Viktor Klima's position that Bratislava broke its promise to shut down Jaslovske Bohunice by 2000. Figel said the previous government made the pledge on the assumption that it would receive a loan for this purpose but the new government canceled the loan and the pledge is therefore void, CTK and SITA reported. MS HUNGARY, POLAND DISCUSS EU ADMISSION, AGRICULTURE TARIFFS. Visiting Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski and his Hungarian counterpart, Arpad Goncz, told reporters in Budapest on 5 October that both countries will be ready for EU admission by 2002. The two sides agreed to make mutual concessions in their dispute over tariffs on agricultural products, Goncz said. Poland has imposed a special tariff on wheat imports from Hungary to protect its domestic market, a move that Budapest considers a violation of the Central European Free Trade Agreement. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE ONE DEAD, SEVERAL INJURED AFTER CLASH IN DIVIDED KOSOVAR TOWN. One Serb was killed and 15 peacekeepers injured after fighting broke out in Mitrovica between Serbs and ethnic Albanians on 5 October, AP reported. The clash occurred when a group of Serbs drove by a memorial service for 18 ethnic Albanians found in a mass grave last week. The service was attended by several thousand ethnic Albanians, who clashed with the Serbs upon leaving the funeral. A Serbian man was stoned to death. Four Russian and at least 10 French peacekeepers were injured trying to separate the sides. Officials from the former Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) arrived at the scene and restrained the ethnic Albanians. The northern part of Mitrovica is controlled by the Serbs, while ethnic Albanians are in the southern part of the town. French peacekeepers separate the two. PB UCK PRESS ORGAN ACCUSES KOSOVAR PUBLISHER OF SPYING. Kosovapress, the Prishtina-based press service of the disbanded UCK, accused two prominent ethnic Albanians of being spies for Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic on 5 October. Publisher Veton Surroi, a member of the Kosova transitional council, and Aton Haxhiu, the chief editor of the Kosovar daily "Koha Ditore," were called "dregs" for "spying and cooperating with Milosevic's regime." Surroi said the accusation comes after he recently said that "fascists are in power in Kosova now and what is being done to the Serbs [in Kosova] is a form of fascism." Surroi and his newspaper, "Koha Ditore," have consistently spoken out against the treatment of Serbs in Kosovar since the return of ethnic Albanians after NATO troops took control of the province. Surroi said the condemnations are "an invitation to kill both me and Haxhiu." PB SEVERAL HUNDRED PAY RESPECTS TO OPPOSITIONIST KILLED IN ROAD ACCIDENT. Several hundred people attended the funeral on 5 October of Veselin Boskovic, the adviser and brother-in-law of Serbian opposition leader Vuk Draskovic, AP reported. Boskovic was killed in a traffic accident on 3 October, which Draskovic and other members of his Serbian Renewal Movement have termed an assassination attempt (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 October 1999). Draskovic said at the service that President Milosevic's government has "destroyed our state and caused the death of millions...let them be damned, the devils who have built their happiness on other people's misery for 10 years." Three other people were killed in the accident. Neither the owner nor the driver of the truck that veered into the cars carrying the SPO members has been identified. PB ANTI-GOVERNMENT DEMONSTRATIONS IN BELGRADE DWINDLING. Several thousand people took part in opposition led protests against the government on 5 October, the 15th straight day of marches, Reuters reported. The crowd was one of the smallest since the protests began on 21 September. Some 10,000 people protested in Novi Sad and about 5,000 in Nis, the country's second-and third-largest cities. Demonstrations were also held in more than a dozen other towns. Around 400 employees of the Zastava Namenska weapons plant in Kragujevac walked off the job and rallied to demand higher wages and the resignation of the Yugoslav government. PB SERBIAN MINISTER FILES SUIT AGAINST OPPOSITION LEADERS. Serbian Deputy Premier Milovan Bojic filed suit against the leaders of the opposition movement the Alliance for Change (SZP) on 5 October, AFP reported. Bojic complained that he had been ridiculed at a mock trial held during a Belgrade demonstration and is suing 11 people for 10 million dinars ($1 million) for the "moral damage" inflicted on him. Vuk Obradovic, an SZP official who is being sued, said he will not appear at court on 7 October because the proceedings are illegal and he has not been allotted the eight days usually given to prepare a defense. Vladan Batic, another SZP leader, said "we should be the ones suing the regime for all the insults and humiliation, not the other way around." PB UN ENVOY WARNS THAT TROUBLE BREWING IN SANDZAK. Jiri Dienstbier, the UN special commissioner for human rights in the former Yugoslavia, said on 5 October that there is a "certain danger" in the mostly Muslim region of Sandzak that Yugoslav President Milosevic could exploit, CTK reported. Dienstbier, speaking in the Sandzak capital of Novi Pazar, said Milosevic could use the Sandzak Muslims in his political struggle against Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic. He noted that while 80 percent of the city's residents are Muslim, about 95 percent of the police force is Serbian. Similar proportions exist in other spheres, including health care, according to Dienstbier, adding that "there are 1,000 little things which, if put together and incited, could lead to a conflict." The same day in Podgorica, Montenegrin Premier Filip Vucanovic rejected a call from a Sandzak group for the region--which lies partly within Montenegro--to be given a special status. PB MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT GETTING IMPATIENT WITH BELGRADE. Milo Djukanovic said on 5 October that Montenegro can only wait so long for Belgrade to respond to Podgorica's call to redefine federal relations, dpa reported. Djukanovic said the government has set a deadline and that if Serbian authorities fail to address the issue soon, Montenegro "will democratically go its own way." He added that he "knows the majority [of Montenegrins] is for independence, but there are also 40 percent opposing it, and there are warmongers on all sides." He said "our democratic consciousness obliges us not to ignore this minority." In Washington, the U.S. State Department said that Montenegrin leaders have used a "measured and rational approach" to political and economic reforms in Yugoslavia but that the U.S. opposes independence for Montenegro. PB CROATIA GETS WORLD BANK LOAN. The World Bank has approved a $29 million loan to Croatia, an RFE/RL correspondent reported on 5 October. The loan will be used to improve the country's health care system, including training, technical assistance, and purchasing of medical equipment. It is the 18th loan the bank has made to Croatia since 1993. PB PETRITSCH ORDERS RADICAL PARTY TO RE-REGISTER WITHOUT TOP CANDIDATES. Wolfgang Petritsch, the high commissioner for Bosnia-Herzegovina, ordered the Serbian Radical Party to reapply to participate in next year's elections without its top three candidates, AP reported. The decision in effect bars former Republika Srpska President Nikola Poplasen and two of his aides, Mirko Blagojevic, and Ognjen Tadic, from participating in politics. The elections are scheduled for 8 April 2000. Petritsch's office said the decision was made because the three officials have obstructed the implementation of the Dayton peace agreement. PB FORMER ALBANIAN PREMIER ACQUITTED OF CORRUPTION CHARGES. Fatos Nano was acquitted of charges of corruption and abuse of power by a Tirana court on 5 October, dpa reported. A court spokesman said the court decided that a 12-year sentence given to him five years ago was not "based on facts." Nano was arrested in 1993 and sentenced a year later for allegedly misusing funds given by the Italian government in 1991, when he was premier. Nano has claimed the charges were politically motivated. He served three years in prison and was appointed premier again in July 1997, although he resigned following unrest in the fall of 1998. PB RECONCILIATION PARK HIGHLIGHTS EMBITTERED ROMANIAN, HUNGARIAN RELATIONS... The foundation stone of the Romanian-Hungarian reconciliation park is being laid on 6 October in the presence of a low-level delegation from either side, Romanian Radio reported. Shortly after Prime Minister Radu Vasile's decision not to attend, Hungarian Premier Viktor Orban arrived in Arad on 5 October, where he attended a ceremony commemorating the 13 Hungarian generals executed by the Austrians in 1848 and a play on the generals staged by the Oradea Hungarian-language theater. Orban said Vasile's cancellation was prompted by the desire to avoid a "confrontation" with Arad local council members who are opposed to the park. He, too, decided not to take part in the 6 October ceremony and delegated Justice Minister Ibolya David to attend as a "fittingly appropriate" representation. On learning of Orban's decision, Deputy Premier Valeriu Stoica, who was to have represented Vasile, also opted not to be present. MS ...AS FATE OF CONTROVERSIAL SCULPTURE GROUP REMAINS UNCLEAR. According to a Hungarian-Romanian decision, the reconciliation park is to include the "Hungarian Liberty" group of statues of the 13 generals. The monument was dismantled in 1925 and kept in storage until recently. Speaking on Romanian Radio on 5 October, Victor Chiujdea, governmental state counselor for bilateral relations, said no decision has yet been taken on displaying the monument in the park. Romanian nationalists object to such a move, claiming the monument represents the "executioners" of Romanians in Transylvania. The Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania rejects such an interpretation. Party of Social Democracy in Romania Chairman Ion Iliescu on 5 October said he "warned" Vasile to stay away from the ceremony, since the Hungarians are "setting a trap" to make claims on Transylvania. The Party of Romanian National Unity and the National Romanian Party have demanded that the generals' monument does not go on display. MS TRANSDNIESTER SEPARATISTS LOOK FOR ALLIES IN ABKHAZIA. The Transdniester separatists are seeking to establish relations with other breakaway territories in the former Soviet Union and is focusing in particular on Abkhazia, Flux reported on 5 October. The agency said delegates from Abkhazia participated in the ceremonies last month marking the ninth anniversary of Transdniester "independence." Two Transdniester Supreme Soviet deputies were present as "observers" during the recent Abkhaz presidential elections. MS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word subscribe as the subject of the message. HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE Send an email to email@example.com with the word unsubscribe as the subject of the message. 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