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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 204, Part II, 19 October 1999


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 204, Part II, 19 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 AUTHORITIES CRACK DOWN ON PROTESTERS

* KOSOVA SERBS SEEK OWN PROTECTION FORCE, CANTONS

* TUDJMAN SEEKS CROATIAN 'ENTITY' IN BOSNIA

End Note: UKRAINIAN OPPOSITION CANDIDATES FAIL TO PRESENT
UNITED FRONT
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUSIAN AUTHORITIES CRACK DOWN ON PROTESTERS... Belarusian
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 18 October ordered law
enforcement agencies "to identify organizers and active
participants in the riots" that he said took place during the
17 October opposition "freedom march" (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
18 October 1999), Belarusian Television reported. Lukashenka
also instructed the state media to report on the "real goals"
of the opposition action. Presidential aide Mikhail
Myasnikovich said on state television that the Belarusian
opposition received "several hundred thousand dollars" from
the West to stage the protest. Meanwhile, Minsk courts on 18
October continued to hand down fines or prison sentences to
those arrested during the march, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service
reported. Mikalay Statkevich, who was the main organizer of
the march and is leader of the Social Democratic Party
Narodnaya Hramada, faces three years in prison if convicted
of organizing a "group action that grossly violated public
order," a Minsk prosecutor said. JM

...WHILE OPPOSITION SAYS CLASHES PROVOKED BY POLICE.
Organizers of the "freedom march" told a news conference in
Minsk on 18 October that the clashes the previous day were
provoked by riot police. According to Dzmitry Bandarenka, the
police attacked the marching protesters after they turned
back to avoid a police cordon. Bandarenka also asserted that
Lukashenka personally ordered Interior Minister Yury Sivakou
and presidential guard chief Uladzimir Navumau to suppress
the protest action. According to the opposition, the
authorities arrested some 200 people after the march, while
another 100 have probably gone into hiding to avoid arrest.
OSCE Minsk mission acting chief Hans-Peter Kleiner told
Belapan that the authorities' refusal to allow the opposition
to hold a march in downtown Minsk was the main reason behind
the 17 October clashes. JM

BELARUS'S SHARETSKI REPORTEDLY MEETS WITH KUCHMA. Syamyon
Sharetski, chairman of the opposition Supreme Soviet, who is
now residing in Lithuania, visited Kyiv last weekend at the
invitation of Ukraine's Popular Rukh, Interfax reported on 18
October. Rukh spokesman Dmytro Ponomarchuk said Sharetski
traveled to Kyiv "to warn Ukraine against repeating the
Belarusian experience." Ponomarchuk added that Sharetski met
with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma. However, Kuchma's
spokesman Oleksandr Martynenko said the presidential staff
"has no information" about Kuchma's meeting with Sharetski.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk criticized Belarus
for breaking up the 17 October opposition march. "Beating
people who take advantage of the right to express their
opinion does not conform with international norms," Interfax
quoted Tarasyuk as saying. JM

COUNCIL OF EUROPE SAYS UKRAINE NOT MEETING MEMBER
OBLIGATIONS. Meeting on 18 October in Kyiv, Council of Europe
Secretary-General Walter Schwimmer and Iceland's Foreign
Minister Halldor Asgrimsson criticized Ukraine for failing to
fulfill its obligations as a council member. The council has
repeatedly rebuked Ukraine for not abolishing the death
penalty and for harassing independent media.  On this
occasion, council officials also expressed concern that
presidential candidates have been granted unequal access to
the state-controlled media. Earlier, the council postponed
until January 2000  taking a decision on whether to suspend
Ukraine's membership. JM

LUXEMBOURG PRIME MINISTER IN ESTONIA. During a two-day visit
to Estonia on 17-18 October, Jean-Claude Juncker discussed EU
issues with Prime Minister Mart Laar, Finance Minister Siim
Kallas, and parliamentary Speaker Toomas Savi. Juncker
stressed that membership in the EU depends on the "readiness
of each individual candidate country," BNS reported. Kallas
noted that switching over to the Euro would pose few problems
for Estonia, as the country meets most conditions for doing
so. However, he added that it  would be hasty to  change to
that currency before  joining the EU.  MH

LITHUANIAN PRIME MINISTER SPEAKS OUT AGAINST OIL DEAL. In  a
live television address to the nation on 18 October, Rolandas
Paksas expressed his opposition to  the sale of a majority
stake of Mazeikiai Oil to the U.S. company Williams
International. Paksas noted that that under the agreement
with Williams, the government would have to invest 1.4
billion litas ($350 million) in Mazeikiai, which he said
would make the deal unsound because it would push the budget
deficit up to a "dangerous" level. He added that he has
refused to sign the  deal. However, ELTA reported that the
cabinet on 19 October voted to accept the Williams deal,
which immediately led to both Economics Minister Eugenijus
Maldeikis and Finance Minister Jonas Lionginas submitting
their resignations. Only the two resigned ministers and
Paksas voted against the deal. MH

POLAND'S WALESA READY TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT. Former President
and Solidarity leader Lech Walesa has said he is ready to run
for the presidency in 2001, Polish media reported on 18
October. Walesa said the decision was prompted by his
negative assessment of Poland's situation, and he added that
he can change his mind if the situation improves. Also on 18
October, Solidarity leader Marian Krzaklewski said that
Solidarity may support a single, right-wing candidate in the
2001 presidential elections. Krzaklewski said that he will
decide whether to run in that ballot only after Solidarity
convenes in December. According to a September poll by the
CBOS polling agency, 56 percent of respondents would vote for
the  incumbent Aleksander Kwasniewski as Poland's next
president. Krzaklewski received 8 percent support and Walesa
7 percent. JM

SUPPORT FOR EU IN POLAND BELOW 50 PERCENT. According to an
October poll by the Social Studies Laboratory, only 46
percent of Poles are in favor of EU membership, down 18
percent from February 1998, when the country began the EU
accession talks. The poll also found that students and people
under 24  are most supportive of Poland's EU membership,
while people aged 40-59 are  most strongly opposed.  JM

CZECH AIRLINES MARKED ROMA PASSENGERS WITH 'G.' For almost 18
months, Czech Airlines (CSA) kept track of passengers flying
to London who appeared to be Romany by marking the letter
"G," for "Gypsy," in their flight records, Czech media
reported on 19 October. CSA's representative in London, David
Thomas, said the practice was designed to speed up the
processing of Czech Roma who were trying to emigrate to the
U.K. Passengers who were marked "G" were directed to
immigration officials in London. CSA President Miroslav Kula
said the London branch office stopped the practice in
February, but he added that until recently CSA employees
continued to mark the flight records of Romany passengers
owing to force of "habit." In other news, Vaclav Miko, a
representative of the Board of Romany Regional Organizations,
said the board believes that all Czech Roma should request
asylum in Germany, which is the "nearest safe country," CTK
reported on 18 October. VG

SLOVAK ECONOMY MINISTER RESIGNS. Slovak Economy Minister
Ludovit Cernak on 18 October announced that he has resigned
from his cabinet post, TKE reported. The Democratic Union, of
which Cernak is a member, announced that it is nominating its
chairman, Lubomir Harach, to the post. Cernak, who refused to
comment on the reasons for his decision, has been criticized
by several members of the governing coalition (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 18 October 1999). VG

BRITAIN PRAISES HUNGARY'S PROGRESS. Great Britain strongly
supports Hungary's admission to the EU because it believes
Budapest has made considerable progress in its preparations
for EU accession, British Secretary of State for European
Affairs Keith Vaz told Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos
Martonyi on 18 October. Vaz, who was appointed to his post
last week, said he selected Budapest as the destination for
his first trip abroad in order to show the importance the
U.K. attributes to Hungary's bid to join the EU. In other
news, Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced on 18 October
that his cabinet will consider a request from Australia to
take part in peacekeeping operations in East Timor. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

KOSOVA SERBS SEEK OWN PROTECTION FORCE, CANTONS. Some 150
representatives of Kosova's Serbian minority met at the
Gracanica monastery on 18 October, the private Beta news
agency reported.  Agreeing that the new Kosova Protection
Corps will be dominated by ethnic Albanians and that Serbs
cannot count on it to protect them, the delegates proposed
that the Serbs set up their own protection force (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 18 October 1999). They also decided that Serbs
should transform areas where they constitute a majority into
self-governing cantons. The delegates called for a moratorium
on activities by political parties and announced that a 49-
member Serbian National Council is to be set up. PM

KFOR TO BOOST PRESENCE IN PRISHTINA. NATO peacekeepers said
in a statement on 19 October that they will increase their
presence on the streets of Kosova's capital. The move came
hours after the killing of a Serbian man and in the wake of
other recent violence, primarily against Serbs and Roma.
"This barbaric behavior cannot be tolerated and all efforts
will be made to arrest those who think they can take the
lives of others and just walk away. As a result of such cold-
blooded murders, the KFOR command has decided to step up KFOR
security presence in Prishtina," the statement added. PM

HAS UCK'S POLITICAL POWER PEAKED? Many ordinary Kosovars have
come to associate the former Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) and
its leader Hashim Thaci with violence and arrogant behavior,
the "International Herald Tribune" reported on 18 October.
The daily noted that the former guerrillas "are ensnared in a
deep political crisis caused by unhappiness with their heavy-
handed power grabs, rising disgust about the violence
plaguing [Kosova], and the rebels' own underestimation of
their political rivals." An unpublished opinion poll
commissioned by an unnamed Western organization shows shadow-
state President Ibrahim Rugova defeating Thaci in a two-way
contest by a four-to-one margin. A second poll gave Rugova 92
percent against Thaci, the daily continued. Rugova's policy
of remaining out of public view has added to his "mysterious,
mystical" image among Kosovars, an independent analyst told
the  U.S. daily. PM

MULTI-ETHNIC TEAM FROM KOSOVA IN 'TRUST-BUILDING EXERCISE.'
Ten ethnic Albanians, three Serbs, two ethnic Muslims, and a
Turk went to France on 19 October to begin what Major-General
Jean-Claude Thomann of KFOR called a "trust-building
exercise." They will receive training in fire-fighting,
emergency rescue, and related activities from the French
Civil Securities, AP reported. The Albanians, Muslims, and
Turk belong to the Kosova Protection Force, while the Serbs
were sent by the authorities in northern Mitrovica. Thomann
said the participants in the program agreed to "talk to one
another." He added that he feels it is too soon to expect
Serbs and Albanians to serve together in the same force.
Observers note that NATO and the UN regard the Civil
Securities as the model for the Protection Force. The UCK,
however, sees the force as its successor and the nucleus of a
future Kosovar army. PM

SOME SERBIAN PARTIES FORM ELECTION COALITION... Vladan Batic
of the Alliance for Change said in Belgrade on 18 October
that several of the parties belonging to the alliance will
form an election coalition. Zoran Djindjic of the Democratic
Party noted that the coalition parties will constitute a
joint group of deputies in the parliament after the
elections. Social Democratic leader Vuk Obradovic said that
his party will remain in the alliance but not join the
electoral coalition lest the Social Democrats lose their
identity, Belgrade's "Danas" reported. The opposition insists
that early elections be held by the end of the year based on
a system of proportional representation. Batic stressed on 18
October that the alliance will not take part in any elections
unless the regime introduces the electoral reforms that the
opposition demands, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported.
PM

...BUT WILL THERE BE ELECTIONS? Several top officials of
parties in the governing coalition said on 18 October that
there will be no early elections, AP reported. However, the
following day the Frankfurt-based Serbian daily "Vesti"
quoted an unnamed official of the governing Socialist Party
of Serbia as saying that elections will take place in
December. Mira Markovic, who is the wife of Yugoslav
President Slobodan Milosevic and the head of the neo-
communist United Yugoslav Left, stressed that "elections can
take place tomorrow as far as [her party] is concerned."
Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Vojislav Seselj said that he
favors elections in March. He added that if the opposition
protesters block streets, "we will arrest them and turn them
over to the courts.... The police must react immediately and
mercilessly." PM

DJINDJIC FEARS VIOLENCE AFTER MARKOVIC STATEMENT. Djindjic
fears that he may be the target of a violent attack following
a recent interview by Markovic, in which she called him a
"traitor," AP reported from Belgrade on 19 October. She used
similar language about publisher Slavko Curuvija shortly
before unknown thugs killed him in April. Djindjic said: "I'm
not worried about what will happen to me, whether Mirjana
Markovic will be consistent in punishing 'traitors' or only
will accuse me verbally. I'm more worried that she has the
power in Serbia to pronounce the sentencing." PM

SESELJ ADMITS GOVERNMENT ROLE IN INFLATION. Seselj said in
Belgrade on 18 October that the government recently printed
$400 million in dinar notes in addition to the $1 billion
already in circulation. He said that "we simply had to print
money to support [postwar] reconstruction," AP reported.
Previously, Prime Minister Momir Bulatovic denied that the
government had printed additional money. He charged
Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic and Bosnian Serb Prime
Minister Milorad Dodik with flooding Serbia with dinars after
they began to use the German mark as an unofficial currency.
PM

RUSSIAN GAS ARRIVES IN SERBIA. Serbian Energy Minister Zivota
Cosic said in Belgrade on 18 October that Russian gas
deliveries via Hungary have resumed. Russia's Gazprom will
provide some 4.5 million cubic meters of gas per day. It is
unclear whether Serbia has cleared its $20 million debt to
the Hungarian MOL company and signed a transit agreement,
which the Hungarian authorities had demanded. Hungary
observes EU sanctions against Belgrade but has agreed to
limited gas deliveries on humanitarian grounds, Reuters
reported. PM

MONTENEGRIN AIRPORT REOPENS. The Podgorica airport reopened
for civilian traffic on 18 October following the repair of
damage caused by NATO airstrikes in the spring, RFE/RL's
Slavic Service reported. The  government hopes that the
airport will increase Montenegro's direct links to the
outside world independent of Belgrade and help revive the key
tourist industry. PM

ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT TO STAY. Socialist Party head Fatos Nano
said in Tirana on 18 October that he does not plan any
changes in the government. He made the statement after
meeting with Prime Minister Pandeli Majko (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," "End Note," 18 October 1999). PM

TUDJMAN PREDICTS ELECTION VICTORY... Croatian President
Franjo Tudjman told a press conference in Zagreb on 18
October that he is confident that his Croatian Democratic
Community (HDZ) will win the parliamentary elections widely
expected to take place before Christmas. He argued that the
HDZ "created Croatia," has the best program of any party, and
will go on to victory "for the eighth time." Asked about the
Hague-based war crimes tribunal, Tudjman said that "no
Croatian general" will be sent to trial there. He stressed
that those men "liberated their country from evil and cannot
be held accountable" for atrocities. The president argued
that the court does not take a "balanced" approach because it
has indicted several Croats but none of the Serbs who shelled
Zagreb during the 1991-1995 conflict. Observers note that no
Croatian general has been publicly indicted. The majority of
those indicted are Serbs. PM

...SEEKS CROATIAN 'ENTITY' IN BOSNIA. Tudjman added that the
Bosnian state and the 1995 Dayton peace accord can continue
to exist only if there is complete equality between Serbs,
Muslims, and Croats. To this end, the Croats as well as the
Serbs and Muslims should have their own "entity," he argued.
Observers note that Tudjman has never hidden his belief that
Bosnia is an artificial state that should be partitioned
between Serbia and Croatia. As a signatory of the Dayton
agreement, however, he is obliged to uphold the current
constitutional order, in which the Serbs have one entity and
the Croats and Muslims share power in a second one. PM

TUDJMAN SPARKS REACTION IN BOSNIA. In Sarajevo, a spokeswoman
for the international community's Wolfgang Petritsch said on
18 October that Tudjman's statement will not lead to any
revision of Dayton, "Dnevni avaz" reported. Moderate Bosnian
Croat leader Kresimir Zubak argued that he has never heard
Tudjman advocate setting up a separate "Croatian entity" in
Bosnia and that the idea must have come from hard-liners
opposed to any links to the Muslims. PM

WORLD BANK TO LEND $500 MILLION TO ROMANIA. The World Bank is
preparing to grant Romania some $500 million in loans to
support the country's integration into the EU, according to
the bank's director for Romania, Andrew Vorkink. Vorkink told
Romanian journalists on 18 October that the money will go to
the mining and agricultural sectors, public administration
reform, and the stimulation of industrial production. He
praised Romania's success in maintaining currency stability
and increasing its currency reserves. VG

MAIN ROMANIAN OPPOSITION PARTY ELECTS NEW CHAIRMAN. Delegates
to the 16 October congress of the Party of Social Democracy
in Romania (PDSR) elected Alexandru Athanasiu as the party's
new leader, Romanian media reported on 18 October. Athanasiu
defeated the other candidate, Emil Putin, by a vote of 482-
471. Athanasiu said he will follow his predecessor's
political line. VG

ROMANIA, YUGOSLAVIA SIGN HYDRO-ELECTRIC PLANT AGREEMENT.
Romania and Yugoslavia have signed an agreement to make
technological improvements at the Portile Fier I hydro-
electric power plant on the countries' mutual border along
the River Danube, according to a 18 October Mediafax report
cited by the BBC. The agreement is based on a 1998 convention
to coordinate work on the plant. VG

FIVE MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENTARY DEPUTIES CREATE INDEPENDENT BLOC.
Four parliamentary deputies from the Bloc for a Democratic
and Prosperous Moldova have joined a former deputy of the
Party of Democratic Forces to form an independent bloc in the
parliament, Infotag and Basa-Press reported on 18 October.
The creation of the bloc weakens the government's support in
the parliament and increases the chances that the cabinet
would fall in any potential confidence vote. In other news,
presidential spokesman Anatol Golea rejected recent
suggestions by Prime Minister Ion Sturza that the president
wants the government dismissed, Infotag reported. VG

BULGARIAN PREMIER CALLS FOR EU LOANS TO YUGOSLAVIA. Ivan
Kostov on 19 October called on the EU to extend loans to
small and medium-sized businesses in Yugoslavia as a means of
shoring up the democratic opposition to Yugoslav President
Slobodan Milosevic, AP reported. Kostov also criticized the
West for delays in implementing an economic aid plan for the
Balkans. He expressed concern that the post-war
reconstruction of the region might be designed to serve the
interests of donors or private companies. VG

MONTENEGRIN PREMIER VISITS BULGARIA. Filip Vujanovic on 18
October thanked Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandur
Bozhkov for his country's stance during the Kosova crisis,
according to a BTA report cited by the BBC. Vujanovic and
Bozhkov also discussed ways of improving relations between
Montenegro and Bulgaria. Vujanovic was in Sofia to attend the
Southeast Europe Economic Forum. VG

END NOTE

UKRAINIAN OPPOSITION CANDIDATES FAIL TO PRESENT UNITED FRONT

by Lily Hyde

	When four candidates announced in August that they were
joining forces in the Ukrainian presidential race, the media
generally welcomed that announcement. The four candidates--
socialist Oleksandr Moroz, parliamentary speaker Oleksandr
Tkachenko, head of the mayors' association Volodymyr Oliynyk,
and former Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk--made their
announcement in Kaniv, the rural, leafy burial-place of a
national poet. They subsequently became known as the Kaniv
Four. Analysts said a single candidate from the Kaniv Four
could be a real challenger to President Leonid Kuchma, who is
running for re-election.
	Two months later, the Kaniv Four are again in the news,
but the media attitude has greatly changed. Moroz, the most
popular of the four candidates, has lost voter support in the
wake of a scandal surrounding the attack on the life of rival
candidate Natalya Vitrenko. Tkachenko has been accused of
breaking election laws by campaigning on Russian television.
And the failure of the four to announce a single candidate,
as promised, has led to widespread speculation that the Kaniv
Four have splintered into a Kaniv Three, or even Two.
	The candidates delayed announcing their choice several
times, saying they feared physical attacks on the chosen
candidate. Finally on 15 October, Moroz's team announced that
Tkachenko and Oliynyk would support Moroz, while Marchuk
would continue his own campaign independently. Moroz's
campaign manager said the Kaniv Four still intend to field a
single candidate and it is "70 percent likely" that Moroz
will be that candidate. The final announcement is expected
just days before the 31 October election.
	Government media greeted the delays with derision.
Kuchma was widely quoted as calling the behavior of the group
"agonizing." He said the four candidates were "monsters" and
that Moroz was "losing face." The press speculated that the
announcement was delayed because the four have no strategy.
	Mykola Tomenko, head of the Kyiv Institute of Politics,
told RFE/RL that he considers the delay in the announcement
of a single candidate to be a reasonable response to an
unstable situation. He said the decision of  Oliynyk and
Tkachenko to resign their candidacies in support of Moroz is
significant: "It's the first serious step. I think if he
remains the only one of four it will be a more serious step
to a member of the Kaniv Four to have a claim on the
presidency."
	Tomenko added that he thinks the group was wise not name
Moroz as their candidate at this juncture. The media have
been linking Moroz with the grenade attack two weeks ago
against Vitrenko, who split with Moroz's Socialist party
several years ago and now heads the more radical Progressive
Socialists.
	Moroz has denied involvement and attempted to challenge
the negative media coverage. The parliament last week ordered
the state channel UT-1 to show Moroz defending himself
against the allegations. UT-1 did not comply with the
parliamentary order, which most commentators say has a
dubious basis in law.
	Analyst Tomenko says the state media's criticism of  the
Kaniv Four is an indication that Kuchma sees the alliance as
a serious threat. That is a line the candidates themselves
have taken. "I think this only confirms the weight of the
four. The official channel UT-1 and the program "Panorama"
[recently] devoted 15 minutes to criticizing the Kaniv Four
and 10 minutes to criticizing Oleksandr Moroz. It seems
possible to draw the conclusion that the authorities are
afraid of the Kaniv Four and afraid of Oleksandr Moroz as a
real candidate."
	At a press conference on 18 October, the four candidates
said they plan to appeal to the Central Election Commission
to have Kuchma's candidacy annulled. They say he is unfairly
using his government power over the media to further his
campaign.

The author is an RFE/RL correspondent based in Kyiv.
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