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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 203, Part II, 18 October 1999


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 203, Part II, 18 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

* BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION STAGES 'FREEDOM MARCH'

* CZECH OPPOSITION WANTS EVERYONE BUT COMMUNISTS IN
GOVERNMENT

* YUGOSLAV PREMIER THREATENS MONTENEGRO WITH ARMY

End Note: ALBANIA'S RIVAL PARTIES STICK WITH OLD LEADERS
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION STAGES 'FREEDOM MARCH'... An estimated
10,000-15,000 people took part in a "freedom march" and rally
organized by the Belarusian opposition in Minsk on 17
October. The rally was the largest anti-government
demonstration in Belarus since spring 1996. Its participants
urged President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to resign and demanded
that the authorities cease pursuing a union with Russia,
release political prisoners, and stop repression against the
opposition. Demonstrators burned the text of the draft union
treaty and then marched from the city outskirts, where the
rally was authorized to take place, to the center. JM

...CLASHES WITH POLICE. On the way to the center, the crowd
increased to some 20,000 people and was stopped by riot
police 500 meters from the presidential administration
building. Police used truncheons, tear gas, and rubber
bullets to disperse demonstrators, who responded by hurling
stones and pavement tiles. According to unofficial reports,
nearly 150 people were injured in the clashes, including some
50 policemen. The authorities announced on 18 October that 92
people, including Social Democratic Party leader Mikalay
Statkevich, had been arrested. "The action by the Belarusian
opposition was earlier planned and financed by the West," AP
quoted presidential administration chief Mikhail Myasnikovich
as saying. JM

CHORNOBYL TO OPERATE UNTIL SUMMER 2000. A Ukrainian
governmental commission on 15 October decided that the
Chornobyl nuclear power plant may operate until summer 2000,
UNIAN reported on 16 October. Officials pointed out that the
plant's nuclear fuel reserves will last until that time. The
plant's only operational reactor is currently under repairs
and will be restarted in December. JM

UKRAINE BECOMES NONPERMANENT MEMBER OF UN SECURITY COUNCIL.
The UN on 14 October voted in favor of Ukraine's becoming a
nonpermanent member of its Security Council in 2000-2001.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk commented the next
day that the election is proof of Ukraine's "balanced"
foreign policy linked with President Leonid Kuchma, Interfax
reported. Ukraine competed for the place on the UN Security
Council against Slovakia, which withdrew its candidacy during
the voting. JM

ESTONIA HOLDS LOCAL ELECTIONS... Turnout at the 17 October
local elections was 49.4 percent of total eligible voters,
down from 52.1 percent in the 1996 local elections and the
first time the figure has dropped below 50 percent. Among
citizens, turnout was 50.9 percent (or 435,878 voters), while
43 percent (84,379) of non-citizen voters cast their ballot.
Turnout was the highest in the rural areas of Polva and
Jogeva counties, although that figure did not exceed 55
percent in either district. The lowest turnout was in the
city of Tartu, where only 38.4 percent voted. Voter
participation in Tallinn was 48.4 percent. However, the
regional electoral commission of Kohtla-Jarve annulled early
voting from 11-13 October owing to allegations of vote
buying--either with money or vodka, the Estonian press
reported. Some 700 people had to vote a second time. MH

...WHILE RESULTS INCONCLUSIVE IN TALLINN. The Center Party
gained the most seats in Tallinn, winning 21 of the 64 seats
in the City Council. The Pro Patria Union came second with
14. This means that no single party has the 33 seats needed
to form a majority city administration (the three-party
national coalition, led by Pro Patria Union, has a combined
28 seats). The mainly Russian-speaking listing of People's
Trust is viewed as the kingmaker, and its leader Sergei
Ivanov has said the group is "ready to cooperate with all
political groups," "Eesti Paevaleht" reported on 18 October.
In Tartu, meanwhile, incumbent mayor Andrus Ansip and the
Reform Party won 20 of the 49 seats, and the three-party
national coalition has 35 of 49 seats in Tartu. Nationally,
the Center Party was the most successful party--especially in
the cities and industrial northeast. MH

POLISH PREMIER COMPLETES CABINET REVAMP. Jerzy Buzek has
submitted a motion to the president on appointing Antoni
Tokarczuk minister of environmental protection and Labor
Minister Longin Komolowski deputy prime minister, Polish
media reported on 16 October. Tokarczuk will replace Jan
Szyszko, while Komolowski will take the post of Deputy Prime
Minister Janusz Tomaszewski, who was fired in September.
Buzek commented that these changes will end quarrels between
the coalition Solidarity Electoral Action and the Freedom
Union about the government's restructuring. "We will now
focus on implementing our program...until the end of the
government's term in two years," Reuters quoted Buzek as
saying. JM

CZECH OPPOSITION WANTS EVERYONE BUT COMMUNISTS IN GOVERNMENT.
Former Premier Vaclav Klaus, the leader of the opposition
Civic Democratic Party (ODS), proposed on 15 October that a
"super-grand coalition" of all parties in parliament, except
the Communists, be formed, CTK reported. Klaus ruled out
early elections and said his party favors a coalition
involving the ruling Social Democrats, the ODS, and the
right-of-center Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) and Freedom
Union. The heads of the Freedom Union and the KDU-CSL, Jan
Ruml and Jan Kasl, said the same day that they will
participate in such a coalition only if the ODS ends the
opposition agreement that allows the minority government of
the Social Democrats to rule with ODS support. Klaus has said
a new coalition must be formed first. Klaus and Prime
Minister Milos Zeman are to meet on 18 October to discuss
changes in the government. PB

CZECH PRESIDENT CALLS FOR WALL TO BE KNOCKED DOWN. Vaclav
Havel said on 15 October that the wall built last week to
separate a mostly Romany housing project from ethnic Czech
homeowners must be immediately torn down or the street it
runs along should be renamed "Intolerance Street," CTK
reported. Havel said the wall, built last week in Usti nad
Labem (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 October 1999), "has a
symbolic importance...as if it grew higher and wider every
day, and we will not [be able to] see Europe across it soon.
On the contrary, we will be shutting ourselves in stale
parochialism." The same day, Walter Schwimmer, the secretary-
general of the Council of Europe, called on the Czech
government to do everything in its power to have the "wall of
shame" brought down. In Beroun, Romany activists said after a
meeting of 28 Romany regional leaders that they will organize
rallies across the country to protest the wall. PB

VISEGRAD GROUP TO UNITE AGAINST ORGANIZED CRIME. The prime
ministers of Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech
Republic agreed during a 16 October meeting of the Visegrad
group to cooperate in order to combat organized crime,
Reuters reported. Hungarian Premier Viktor Orban called the
decision "the most important" of the two-day talks in the
Slovak resort town of Tatranska Javorina. A commission will
be formed to seek ways to prevent cross-border crime. Polish
Premier Jerzy Buzek said the Visegrad group was renewed last
year to help Slovakia rejoin integration efforts but that now
it will act as a bridge between the East and the West. The
four premiers also agreed to set up a secretariat in
Bratislava to deal with issues related to Roma. The next
meeting will be in Prague in 2000. PB

SLOVAK ECONOMY MINISTER MULLING RESIGNATION. Ludovit Cernak
said on 15 October in Bratislava that he is considering
leaving his post, Reuters reported. Cernak has been
criticized by several members of the governing coalition for
the long delays in the reprivatization of the gas storage
company Nafta Gbely and for a lack of transparency in public
tenders. Cernak is one of Premier Mikulas Dzurinda's closest
allies. He said he has been made a scapegoat for government
problems and that his accomplishments have not been fully
recognized. PB

HUNGARY VOWS NOT TO BARTER WITH RUSSIA. After a two-year
break, the Hungarian-Russian Economic Cooperation Committee
met in Budapest on 15 October and agreed to seek new ways to
revive bilateral trade. Hungarian Economics Minister Attila
Chikan said after the meeting that "commercial ties must be
based on market demands and not on intergovernmental barter
deals." Following last year's financial crisis in Russia,
trade between the two countries dropped by 26 percent, while
Hungarian exports to Russia fell by 70 percent. Russian
Finance Minister Mikhail Kasyanov met with Hungarian Interior
Minister Sandor Pinter to discuss combating money laundering
and organized crime. MSZ

HUNGARIAN PREMIER SAYS COUNTRY READY FOR EU IN 2002. Viktor
Orban said in Frankfurt on 15 October that Hungary is at
least as ready for EU membership as Greece or Spain were when
they were admitted to the union, Hungarian TV reported. Orban
said there should be "no obstacle whatsoever to our admission
in January 2002." In other news, the government announced a
plan to slim down state television, which will result in the
laying off of some 500 employees. The broadcaster accumulated
a 12 billion forint ($50 million) debt last year. PB

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

YUGOSLAV PREMIER THREATENS MONTENEGRO WITH ARMY. Momir
Bulatovic said in Belgrade on 17 October that "the people"
and army will not allow Montenegro to secede from the
Yugoslav federation, AP reported. Bulatovic, who leads the
pro-Belgrade faction in Montenegro, also called his rivals in
Podgorica "cowards and traitors" for failing to resolutely
back the Serbian regime in its conflict with NATO this
spring. The Montenegrin authorities have frequently said they
will hold a referendum on independence unless the Belgrade
authorities negotiate seriously about redefining relations
between the two republics. PM

MONTENEGRIN REFERENDUM 'SOONER THAN ANYONE EXPECTS.'
Montenegrin Foreign Minister Branko Perovic told Vienna's
"Die Presse" of 16 October that relations between Belgrade
and Podgorica have never been worse. He stressed that
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is afraid of the effect
on his power of the "Montenegrin model" of democracy and an
open economy. Belgrade is unwilling to talk seriously with
Podgorica about reforming bilateral relations, he said.
Montenegrins are consequently getting impatient, and their
government may call a referendum on independence "sooner than
anyone expects." It has become more of a danger to Montenegro
to remain in the same state as Milosevic than to hold a
referendum, Perovic concluded. PM

SERBIAN OPPOSITION BLAMES REGIME IN BOMBING ATTACK.
Unidentified persons set off a bomb at the home of Democratic
Party official Nebojsa Andric in Valjevo during the night of
16-17 October. No one was injured. In Belgrade, Veran Batic
of the opposition Alliance for Change said that "those who
don't want any changes in Serbia...are using terrorist
methods to intimidate people and prevent the inevitable,
namely the demise of Slobodan Milosevic and his clique," AP
reported. Batic added that "the regime is obviously losing
its head, it is ready to use any means just to stay in power.
We are in a very critical phase [of the campaign to oust
Milosevic]..., but all those attempts cannot stop the
democratization process in Serbia." PM

SERBIAN MINISTRY FILES CHARGES AGAINST PUBLISHER. The
Information Ministry has sued Slavoljub Kacarevic, who heads
the printing firm ABC Grafika and publishes the private daily
"Glas Javnosti," the Association for Independent Electronic
Media in Yugoslavia said in a statement on 15 October. The
ministry charged that Kacarevic has violated the draconian
press law by publishing without the ministry's permission the
opposition daily leaflet "Changes" and reprinting it in his
daily. Kacarevic argues that "Changes" is not a periodical
but rather advertising and therefore does not have to be
registered with the authorities. PM

CITIZENS' ALLIANCE JOINS UMBRELLA GROUP. The Steering
Committee of the Citizens' Alliance of Serbia announced in
Belgrade on 17 October that it will join the opposition
coalition Alliance for Change, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service
reported. In Novi Sad, some 10,000 students and other
opposition supporters turned out the previous night for what
the organizers called the first day of student protests in
Serbia. PM

BELGRADE TO 'CONTROL' USE OF EU OIL. Yugoslav Deputy Prime
Minister Tomislav Nikolic said in Belgrade on 15 October that
the authorities will not prevent delivery of heating oil from
the EU to opposition-run towns. He added, however, that
federal government "will control" how the oil is used, AP
reported. He did not specify how Belgrade will do that. The
minister added that the municipal governments will not be
allowed to charge citizens for the fuel because it is a gift
from the EU. He argued that the "selective humanitarian help"
would not be necessary if NATO had not bombed Serbia. PM

ALBRIGHT, COOK DENY STORY ON CHINESE EMBASSY BOMBING. U.S.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright described as
"balderdash" a story in the latest issue of London's "The
Observer" to the effect that NATO deliberately bombed the
Chinese embassy in Belgrade in May. Speaking to CNN on 17
October, Albright said that "there is information that [the
Chinese] were carrying on intelligence activities," but she
stressed that the bombing was a "tragic accident." In London,
British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said that he knows "not
a single shred of evidence to support [the weekly's] rather
wild story." "The Observer" wrote that the NATO deliberately
bombed the embassy because the Chinese were transmitting
Yugoslav military communications in return for information
about a U.S. Stealth aircraft that crashed on Serbian
territory. PM

THREE KFOR PEACEKEEPERS INJURED IN FIRE. Three British
soldiers were slightly injured when a blaze that began in a
store spread to a former Prishtina television building now
housing KFOR troops. The fire began in the early hours of 18
October and quickly destroyed the television building, AP
reported. KFOR and UN police are investigating the incident.
PM

KFOR SAYS UCK VIOLATED AGREEMENT. NATO peacekeepers said in a
statement on 17 October that several members of the former
Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) violated the guerrillas'
agreement with the Atlantic alliance by appearing uniformed
and armed in public. The previous day, 15 UCK veterans wore
uniforms of the new Kosova Protection Corps and five wore UCK
garb at a gathering of 350 people in Gornje Obrinje to mark
the first anniversary of a massacre there. Several of the UCK
veterans carried pistols. The KFOR statement stressed: "This
gathering is a clear violation of the undertaking for
demilitarization and transformation [of the UCK].... KFOR is
not going to tolerate such actions of non-compliance. An
investigation is under way and subsequent action will be
taken as appropriate," the text concluded. PM

KOSOVA'S SERBS TO SEEK OWN 'PROTECTION FORCE.' Momcilo
Trajkovic, who is the political leader of Kosova's Serbian
minority, said in Banja Luka on 16 October that the Serbs
will have to set up their own "protection force" as a
counterweight to the UCK-dominated Protection Corps.
Observers note that NATO and the UN are likely to consider
such a move illegal. Meanwhile in Prishtina, the first 173
graduates of the UN-sponsored Kosova police academy received
their diplomas. The class was about 90 percent ethnic
Albanian. PM

DRASKOVIC BLASTS ALBANIAN PLANS FOR KOSOVA OFFICE. Serbian
Renewal Movement leader Vuk Draskovic said in Belgrade on 17
October that Albania is meddling in Serbian affairs and
"destabilizing the Balkans" by wanting to open a diplomatic
office in Prishtina. He added that setting up such a mission
would be a "flagrant violation of international norms."
Albanian Foreign Minister Paskal Milo said on a two-day visit
to Kosova that Tirana wants to open an office in the Kosovar
capital, as the U.S. and several other countries have already
done. PM

CROATIAN WAR CRIMES SUSPECT REMAINS IN ZAGREB. The Supreme
Court ruled on 15 October that there are no legal grounds why
Mladen "Tuta" Naletilic cannot be extradited to The Hague,
where the war crimes tribunal has indicted him for atrocities
committed during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war. Tuta's lawyer
says, however, that his client requires urgent heart surgery
and is too ill to travel. The Hague court may send its own
medical experts to Zagreb to investigate, a spokesman for the
tribunal said on 17 October. PM

ROMANIAN PREMIER DISMISSES ORPHANAGE PROBLEM. Radu Vasile
said on 15 October that the problem of poor conditions at
orphanages in his country is "practically solved," Mediafax
reported. The problem was cited by the EU last week in its
report suggesting that Romania should begin talks on joining
the union (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 October 1999). Vasile
said the only problems Romania still faces in joining the EU
are those associated with the ongoing "macrostabilization
process" of the economy. PB

INFLATION FEARED AS ELECTRICITY PRICES GO UP IN ROMANIA. The
government announced an increase in the price of electricity
on 15 October, AP reported. The increase, which was made
because of a drop in the value of the lei, means an 8 percent
increase in utility bills for the average consumer. National
Bank Governor Mugur Isarescu advised the government to avoid
price hikes in fuel and utilities in the future, saying that
such measures will lead to inflation on other consumer goods.
Inflation was 39 percent through the first nine months of the
year. PB

MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT GIVES INITIAL APPROVAL TO LANDMARK BILLS.
The parliament on 14 October approved in the first reading a
bill stipulating that advertising must be in the country's
official language, Infotag reported. Deputy Justice Minister
Victor Cretu said the bill aims at ending the "alarming
situation" where most of advertising in the media is in
Russian. The legislature also approved in the first reading a
bill on the prevention and fight against money laundering.
The draft law stipulates that banks must inform authorities
whenever the suspicion arises that deposits were acquired
illegally. MS

BULGARIA'S RULING PARTY SCORES DISAPPOINTING WIN IN LOCAL
ELECTIONS. According to preliminary results, the ruling
United Democratic Front (UDF) received 35-45 percent of the
vote in the 16 October local elections, RFE/RL's Bulgarian
Service and AP reported. The ex-Communist Bulgarian Socialist
Party is reported to have garnered around 30 percent of the
vote, which is more than was predicted. Voter turnout was
disappointing, with only some 50 percent of the electorate
casting their ballots. Prime Minister Ivan Kostov, the head
of the UDF, said his party is paying the price for "painful
reforms" that included spending cuts, layoffs, and tax
increases. The UDF held on to the mayoral posts in both Sofia
and Plovdiv, while a UDF candidate in the country's third-
largest city, Varna, was ahead but will face a runoff next
week. Runoff elections will be held in some 200
municipalities next week. PB

END NOTE

ALBANIA'S RIVAL PARTIES STICK WITH OLD LEADERS

By Fabian Schmidt

	Members of the governing Socialist Party of Albania and
the opposition Democratic Party have recently re-elected
their respective leaders. Last weekend, former Prime Minister
Fatos Nano of the Socialist Party defeated his successor in
the government, 31-year-old reformer Pandeli Majko. And a
week or so earlier, former President Sali Berisha of the
Democratic Party fought back a challenge to his party
leadership by its former secretary-general, the charismatic
Genc Pollo.
	Nano and Berisha are bitter rivals who count among the
older generation of Albanian politicians. The two are largely
responsible for the polarization that has characterized
Albanian political life since the end of communism, in 1991-
1992. Their rivalry grew into open personal antagonism after
the mid-1990s, when Berisha's government arrested Nano on
dubious corruption charges. In the wake of the unrest that
spread throughout Albania in early 1997 following the
collapse of pyramid investment schemes, Nano managed to
escape from prison. He won the elections in July of the same
year and became prime minister by presenting himself to the
voters as the main challenger to an authoritarian regime. A
Tirana court acquitted him of the corruption charges on 5
October 1999.
	Berisha, in return, accused Nano of being the mastermind
of the 1997 unrest and blamed his government for the killing
of senior Democratic Party legislator Azem Hajdari in Tirana
in September 1998. The investigation into that murder has
been deadlocked for more than a year. Democratic Party
witnesses have refused to testify to investigators, arguing
that they do not trust the authorities to conduct an
impartial investigation.
	Nano resigned shortly after the Hajdari murder, when
riots broke out during the legislator's funeral in Tirana.
The Socialists then charged the Democrats with having
conducted a coup attempt, a charge the Democrats vehemently
denied. Nano and Berisha, furthermore, have not refrained
from charging each other with involvement in corruption, arms
smuggling, and other crimes. These exchanges have long been
part of Albania's daily political discourse.
	Nano's resignation paved the way for a new Socialist
government under Majko. Since taking office, he has sought to
present himself as a dynamic, forward-looking politician who
is willing to reconcile with the opposition for the benefit
of the entire country by establishing rule of law and
promoting economic recovery. The Kosova war gave Majko an
opportunity to call for unity among all Albanians and to put
aside old grievances. Majko also followed a policy of
establishing good-neighborly relations with Macedonia,
Greece, and Montenegro, and he made participation in the EU's
Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe one of his
government's priorities.
	But Majko's government has faced difficult tasks. It was
unable to increase the level of public security until mid-
summer 1999. At that time, his newly appointed Public Order
Minister Spartak Poci launched an offensive against the
country's most notorious gangs. Poci acknowledged in early
October that unidentified politicians have put pressure on
police and justice officials to have several of the arrested
gang leaders released, thereby confirming that political
corruption is indeed widespread. He did not disclose names,
however.
	Before the party congress, Majko threatened to resign
should Nano win the party chairmanship. After his defeat,
however, he pledged to remain in office, arguing that he lost
by a margin of only 30 votes. At the same time he stressed
that he felt "hurt in his moral and political legitimacy";
but while the vote indicates that his support within the
party is fragile, his decision to stay in government is
nonetheless based on backing from the Albanian public and the
international community, where Majko appears to enjoy more
support than within his party's rank and file.
	Nano, on the other hand, is unlikely to seek to oust
Majko as prime minister and return to government, since a
second major change of government after two years could
derail the fragile reform process and give a boost to the
Democratic Party's demand for new elections.
	For their part, the Democrats have maneuvered themselves
further into a corner by re-electing Berisha. Pollo's initial
candidature seemed to offer an alternative to Berisha's tight
control over the party and his role in the polarization of
political life. Pollo pledged to bring several other center-
right political parties into a coalition, most notably the
Republicans. But with the reelection of Berisha--whom many
potential Democratic voters consider too authoritarian--a
major shift in voter support from the Socialists to the
Democrats remains unlikely.
	The two party congresses have shown that the old-
generation leaders--who were forced to resign after scandals
and amid charges of corruption against their respective
governments--do still have the backing of most party members.
The two men owe their victories probably less to any real
popular support for themselves and to their ideas than to
their patronage of those within the party willing to back
them in crucial leadership votes.

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