|The fool wonders, the wise man asks. - Benjamin Disraeli|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 205, Part II, 20 October 1999
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 205, Part II, 20 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 * CZECH OPPOSITION PARTIES REJECT 'SUPER-COALITION' * 'SERBIAN ADOLF' NOT GUILTY OF GENOCIDE * GRANIC WARNS CROATS AGAINST SELF-ISOLATION xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE BELARUSIAN AUTHORITIES CONTINUE CRACKDOWN ON OPPOSITION. Of the 93 people arrested for taking part in the opposition's 17 October "freedom march," 17 have been sentenced to short prison terms and 19 fined, while 23 cases have been transferred to municipal commissions dealing with minors, according to a Minsk authorities statement quoted by Belapan on 19 October. The same day, Valery Shchukin, one of the march's organizers, was seized by police, beaten, and put in pre-trial detention. Police also detained Anatol Lyabedzka, another organizer of the march, but released him after four hours, ordering him to appear in court on 20 October. And a Minsk court sentenced Yauhen Afnahel, an activist of the opposition Youth Front, to 15 days in prison for organizing the march, despite the fact that Afnahel had withdrawn his name from the list of organizers before the march and did not participate in it, according to Belapan. JM U.S. CONDEMNS BEATING OF BELARUSIAN PROTESTERS, WHILE RUSSIA SHRUGS IT OFF. The U.S. State Department on 18 October issued a statement condemning the violent suppression of the freedom march in Minsk the previous day. The U.S. State Department said the beating and arrests of participants in the peaceful march was another violation by Belarus of its OSCE commitments and a "further demonstration of the constitutional and political crisis" in the country. Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said on 19 October that the Minsk "incident" was Belarus's domestic matter, adding that Russia will not "intervene" in it. The same day the Russian State Duma invited Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to address Russian lawmakers on 22 October in connection with the "recent developments" in Belarus, ITAR-TASS reported. Simultaneously, Russian lawmakers rejected the Yabloko faction's proposal that Belarusian oppositionists also be invited to address the lower house. JM UKRAINE'S SECURITY SERVICE CLAIMS TO HAVE PREVENTED RIOTS... The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) said in an 18 October statement to Interfax that "certain forces linked to the election staffs of the so-called Kaniv Four" were preparing riots in Kyiv on 19 October. The Kaniv Four is a presidential election alliance composed of Yevhen Marchuk, Oleksandr Moroz, Volodymyr Oliynyk, and Oleksandr Tkachenko, The SBU added that the riots were organized by a "dozen hired Russian image-makers who are ready to use Russian media to announce a 'mutiny' in Kyiv." An SBU official said on 19 October that measures taken by the SBU had prevented the riots from taking place, but he did not elaborate. The same day President Leonid Kuchma praised the SBU for its timely action to stave off the planned unrest. JM ...WHILE KUCHMA RIVAL SAY REGIME USES 'PROVOCATIONS.' Moroz said the SBU statement on the alleged riots is a "provocation" intended "to introduce elements of a state of emergency" or discredit his candidacy, Interfax reported. Marchuk commented that the methods used against Kuchma's rivals in the presidential race remind him of "special services' techniques" used in staging coups in Nicaragua and Angola or used by Nazis before the attack on the USSR. Marchuk accused the authorities of arranging other "provocations," such as printing a fake issue of the "Silski visti" newspaper that contained criticism of the Kaniv Four or disseminating anti-Semitic leaflets in which he was described as Jewish. JM TRADE UNION PROTESTS BUT CLAIMS NO TIES WITH KANIV FOUR. According to Yuriy Pyvovarov, head of the Solidarnist trade union federation, some 750 unionists from around the country picketed government and parliament buildings in Kyiv on 19 October to protest against the Kuchma administration and demand back wages. Pyvovarov added that the action was in no way linked to the Kaniv Four. Some 400 unionists picketed the parliament with placards expressing support for parliamentary speaker Tkachenko in his bid for the presidency. Tkachenko said the Solidarnist protests were a surprise to him, adding that the Kaniv Four was not involved in their organization. JM ESTONIAN AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL READY FOR Y2K, CONTROLLERS SAY. BNS reported on 19 October that the Estonian Air Traffic Control Service is ready to deal with any disruptions that may be caused by the millennium computer bug. "We have practically completed tests of all of our software and gear," Air Traffic Control Service representative Mati Tarlap said, adding there will be a "backup at hand if a part of the system should fail." Airplanes enter Estonian airspace 200- 300 times each day. MJZ RUSSIA ACCUSES LATVIA OF 'WITCH HUNT'... Russian Ambassador to Latvia Alexander Udaltsov told BNS on 19 October that he believes the charges of genocide brought by Latvian prosecutors against two former Soviet security officers signal the beginning of a "witch hunt" in Latvia. "It creates an impression that a true 'witch hunt' has been launched in Latvia and once again people of quite respectable age, suffering from serious health problems, have become the hunted," Udaltsov said. The diplomat warned that the genocide accusations would "affect bilateral relations, as in most cases those involved are the citizens of the Russian Federation." Russian citizen Yevgenii Savenko, 85, was arrested on 12 October, while charges have been filed against Latvian citizen Nikolai Larionov, 78. Both have been accused of crimes against humanity in connection with their alleged roles in forced deportations of Latvian citizens in the 1940s. MJZ ...WHILE LATVIA APPEALS FOR CALM. Latvian Foreign Ministry spokesman Janis Silis responded on 19 October that "legal proceedings in cases concerning crimes against humanity and genocide conducted in line with effective legislation must not impact on interstate relations," according to BNS. "The Foreign Ministry has stressed on several occasions that crimes against humanity and genocide crimes have no statute of limitation and cannot be justified with ideology," he added. MJZ LATVIAN FOREIGN MINISTER PRAISES RUSSIA ON RADAR DISMANTLING. In an interview broadcast on Latvian Radio on 19 October, Indulis Berzins said that the successful dismantling of the former Soviet early warning radar facility at Skrunda is a positive example of Latvian-Russian cooperation and proves that positive trends can be found in bilateral relations with Russia. OSCE inspectors began their final inspection of the radar facility on 19 October, more than two months before the site is due to return to Latvian control. MJZ LITHUANIA RATIFIES BORDER TREATY WITH RUSSIA. ELTA reported that on 19 October the Lithuanian parliament voted 89 to three with nine abstentions to ratify the Lithuanian-Russian border treaty, which the two countries concluded in October 1997. The treaty establishes the border between Lithuania and Russia's Kaliningrad Oblast. Lawmakers also approved the Lithuanian-Russian agreement on delimitation of the economic zone on the continental shelf in the Baltic Sea. This latter agreement is not only important for issues of fishing rights but also future oil drilling in the Baltic Sea. AB LITHUANIAN-U.S. OIL DEAL TO PROCEED. ELTA reported on 19 October that the Lithuanian cabinet voted 11 to three to proceed with final preparations for the deal under which U.S. based Williams International is to buy 33 percent of the stock of Lithuania's oil sector complex, which includes the Mazeikiai Nafta refinery, an oil pipeline, and the new oil terminal at Butinge. "Lietuvos Rytas" reported that following a televised speech by Rolandas Paksas in which the premier explained his reasons for refusing to sign the draft contract (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 October 1999), President Valdas Adamkus urged Paksas not to resign. Meanwhile, ELTA reported that representatives from Yukos, Russia's second-largest oil exporter, have arrived in Vilnius to begin tripartite negotiations with the Lithuanian government and Williams International concerning a purchase of 12 percent of stock in the oil sector complex. Yukos would guarantee to supply oil to the refinery for 10 years. AB POLISH MINISTER SAYS DECLINING SUPPORT FOR EU MEMBERSHIP 'ALARMING.' Foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek on 19 October told the parliament's Foreign Affairs Commission that the recent decrease in support among Poles for EU membership (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 October 1999) is "alarming" and should be countered by a government campaign of "information and persuasion," PAP reported. The commission proposed that the cabinet earmark some $9 million for "goals related to integration." The right-wing pro-Catholic Christian National Union said support for Poland's integration with the EU has dropped because people responsible for foreign policy do not defend Polish interests in negotiations with the EU. JM POLISH OPPOSITION TO SEEK REFERENDUM ON REPRIVATIZATION. The opposition Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), Polish Peasant Party, and the Union of Labor will join forces to collect 500,000 signatures supporting a referendum on property restitution, PAP reported on 19 October. The government bill on reprivatization, which was sent to the parliament last month, provides for returning 50 percent of the value of assets that the state confiscated from former owners. "Since reprivatization would be at the cost of all of society, it is necessary to ask citizens for their opinion," SLD leader Leszek Miller said. JM CZECH OPPOSITION PARTIES REJECT 'SUPER-COALITION.' The opposition "coalition of four" parties has rejected Civic Democratic Party (ODS) Chairman Vaclav Klaus's proposal to set up a governing coalition of all parliamentary parties except for the Communists, Czech media reported on 20 October. Klaus had proposed that the "coalition of four"-- comprised of the Freedom Union, the Christian Democrats, and two smaller parties --join the ODS and the ruling Social Democrats to form a "super-grand coalition" government (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 October 1999). According to a poll released on 19 October by the STEM agency, 23 percent of respondents said they would vote for the "coalition of four," compared with almost 22 percent for the ODS, 20 percent for the Communists, and just 11 percent for the Social Democrats. VG SLOVAK POLICE CHARGE NEW SUSPECTS IN KOVAC KIDNAPPING. Police have charged three former members of the Slovak Information Service with crimes related to the 1995 kidnapping of former President Michal Kovac's son, Slovak media reported on 19 October. The three men are at large after fleeing their homes. VG SLOVAK ARMY TO CUT STAFF. Slovak Defense Minister Pavol Kanis on 19 October announced that the Slovak army will be cut from its present strength of 38,500 soldiers to 35,000 by the end of this year, TKE reported. Kanis said that the army will be cut further to 30,000 by 2002. He added that other reforms, such as a reduction in the length of military service, are being prepared as part of the effort to transform the army into a professional force. VG SLOVAK PRIEMYSELNA BANKA UNDER ADMINISTRATIVE CONTROL. The Slovak National Bank on 19 October announced that it has placed Priemyselna banka (PB) under forced administration, TKE reported. The National Bank said it had taken the step due to PB's liquidity problems and its failure to maintain minimum reserves. VG HUNGARY'S TOP OFFICIALS IN BRUSSELS TALKS. "Hungary's main challenge is to bring closer the date of its being ready for EU membership and to hasten the date of accession," Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on 19 October after meeting with European Commission Chairman Romano Prodi. Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi told Prodi that "Hungary could live with an accession date of 1 January 2003" but would prefer meeting its own 1 January 2002 target date. Martonyi added that Hungary would be prepared to accept an EU decision to grant Poland membership first. However, Guenter Verheugen, the EU commissioner for expansion, said that the five Eastern European countries that were selected for fast-track negotiations should be encouraged not to aim for different accession dates. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE 'SERBIAN ADOLF' NOT GUILTY OF GENOCIDE. The Hague-based war crimes tribunal ruled on 19 October that Goran Jelisic, who calls himself the "Serbian Adolf," is not guilty of genocide. The tribunal nonetheless convicted him on 31 counts of torture and murder of Muslim and Croatian inmates of the Luka prison camp near Brcko in 1992. The three judges noted that Jelisic was a killer and enjoyed killing, but they stressed that there was no evidence to suggest that his violence was part of a premeditated, orchestrated campaign of genocide. Observers noted that the case shows how difficult it will be for the tribunal to convict indicted persons of genocide. Jelisic has admitted to killing 12 people. One witness said that Jelisic bragged at the camp that he killed up to 30 Muslims each day before breakfast, AP reported. PM MORE CRITICISM OF TUDJMAN'S STATEMENTS ON BOSNIA. U.S. Balkan envoy James Pardew said that Croatian President Franjo Tudjman's call for a separate Croatian "entity" in Bosnia is not acceptable, VOA's Croatian Service reported on 20 October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 October 1999). In Sarajevo, "Oslobodjenje" noted that officials of the OSCE as well as of the international community's high representative's office have criticized Tudjman's remarks as being incompatible with the 1995 Dayton agreement, which he signed. PM GRANIC WARNS CROATS AGAINST SELF-ISOLATION. Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic said in Zagreb on 19 October that participation in the EU's Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe is a condition his country must meet if it is to join NATO's Partnership for Peace and eventually the Atlantic alliance itself. Granic conceded that the idea of participating in a project encompassing the Balkan region may be distasteful to many Croats, who fear that the Western powers may force them to join a revived Yugoslav state or regional federation. The minister warned, however, that Croatia will be as isolated as Serbia if it does not join the pact, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. In Geneva, Vladimir Drobnjak, who is Croatia's chief "coordinator" for the pact, said that Croatia's participation will depend on whether it receives sufficient concrete benefits for doing so, "Vecernji list" reported on 20 October. PM GERMAN DEFENSE MINISTER LAUDS SLOVENIA, ALBANIA. Rudolf Scharping said in Ljubljana on 19 October that Slovenia is a "certain candidate for NATO and the EU." He added that "it is realistic to expect that Slovenia will become a NATO member soon." Asked by journalists about possible Slovenian plans to buy the German Roland missile system, Scharping said that talks will begin once the Slovenian parliament has finished its debate on the annual budget. Later in Tirana, Scharping stressed that Albania's stability "contributes to the peace of the Balkans," AP reported. He met with President Rexhep Meidani, Prime Minister Pandeli Majko, and Defense Minister Luan Hajdaraga. Germany is the Albanian army's "first partner," Hajdaraga noted. PM SLOVENE EX-MINISTER FACES YEAR IN PRISON. Prosecutors in Ljubljana formally charged Alojz Krapez on 19 October with abusing his position as defense minister before his sacking in February. Krapez had sold his own flat and sought to move into one reserved for uniformed military personnel, AP reported. If convicted, Krapez faces one year in prison and will be the first prominent politician convicted for abuse of office in independent Slovenia. Scandals involving top officials are no rarity there, however. PM MONTENEGRO IN 'NO HURRY' TO INTRODUCE OWN CURRENCY. Social Affairs Minister Predrag Drecun said in Podgorica on 19 October that the government will not "hurry" to introduce a Montenegrin currency independent of the Yugoslav dinar (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 August 1999). He added that the government nonetheless understands citizens' fears of a new wave of inflation of the Yugoslav currency. In Belgrade, Yugoslav National Bank Governor Dusan Vlatkovic denied a recent statement by Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Vojislav Seselj that the bank has put into circulation an additional printed $400 million in dinar notes (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 October 1999). PM CONTROVERSY CONTINUES OVER SERBIAN CANTON PROPOSAL IN KOSOVA. Archbishop Artemije, who is the leading Serbian Orthodox cleric in Kosova, told the private Beta news agency on 19 October in Mitrovica that setting up Serbian cantons is the only way to preserve multi-ethnicity in the province (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 October 1999). Artemije argued that local Serbs will leave unless they have their own self- governing communities. In Prishtina, the former Kosova Liberation Army's Hashim Thaci called the proposal to establish the cantons and a Serbian defense force "unacceptable." His colleague Mehmet Hajriz warned that cantonization could "lead to conflict," AP reported. PM SERBIAN REGIME SUES YET ANOTHER NEWSPAPER... A state-run tobacco company in Nis is suing the independent "Niske Novine" because of a story that the newspaper printed about the salaries of the company's directors. The Belgrade-based Association of Independent Electronic Media said in a statement on 19 October that the legal action against "Niske Novine" and a similar suit against the publisher ABC Grafika show that the regime is determined to use the courts to shut down independent publications (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 October 1999). PM ...THREATENS DOMESTIC OPPONENTS. Army chief-of-staff General Dragoljub Ojdanic said at a Belgrade ceremony to mark the 55th anniversary of the end of German occupation of that city that opposition parties demonstrating on the streets of the capital are allies of NATO. He stressed that "Belgrade and Serbia will prevail in a struggle against those who promote their own interests and fool our citizens." The general added that the government will resist any attempt to separate Kosova from Serbia. PM SERBIAN STUDENTS PROTEST COLD CLASSROOMS. Several hundred high schools students in Uzice staged street protests to complain about the lack of heating in their schools, the Frankfurt-based Serbian daily "Vesti" reported on 20 October. Similar protests took place in Bor, according to AP. PM SERBIAN OPPOSITION MEETS FROWICK. The Social Democrats' Vuk Obradovic and several other leaders of the Serbian opposition held what Obradovic called "long and ample talks" with U.S. Balkan envoy Robert Frowick at an unspecified place in the Republika Srpska on 18 October. Obradovic later told reporters that the Americans made it clear that "there will be no substantial aid to Serbia so long as [Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic is in power," AP reported. PM BOSNIAN SERB TV FOR SERBIA. The opposition leaders also met with Republika Srpska Prime Minister Milorad Dodik in Banja Luka, "Vesti" reported on 20 October. Dodik promised them that Bosnian Serb television will broadcast a program on the activities of the opposition. Alliance for Change leader Vladan Batic said that the opposition will seek to rebroadcast the program within Serbia. It is unclear how often the program will be aired. PM WHAT IS THE 'SERBIAN LIBERATION ARMY'? A previously unknown group calling itself the Serbian Liberation Army (OSA) recently sent a letter to the Montenegrin weekly "Glas Crnogoraca" claiming responsibility for the 3 October car accident that killed four aides of the Serbian Renewal Movement's Vuk Draskovic. On 18 October, the Bosnian Serb news agency SRNA carried the statement, in which the organization declared itself to be in the monarchist- nationalist Chetnik tradition. The statement said that nationalist leaders like Draskovic "are worse than the open enemies of the Serbian people" because people like Draskovic "lead the people astray." "Vesti" two days later carried a photo of men in Chetnik dress, which the newspaper said the OSA allegedly sent to the "Belgrade media." PM ROMANIAN PRESIDENT WELCOMES PROPOSAL TO INVITE FORMER KING. Emil Constantinescu sent a letter to Chamber of Deputies Chairman Ion Diaconescu welcoming a proposal by a group of deputies that former King Michael I be invited to address the parliament on 1 December, Romania's national day, Rompres reported on 19 October. VG GREECE PLEDGES SUPPORT FOR ROMANIA EU ACCESSION. Greek President Costas Simitis told his visiting Romanian counterpart, Radu Vasile, on 19 October that Greece supports Romania's bid to enter the EU as part of the effort to integrate the Balkans into European structures. During the talks, Vasile asked for a relaxation of Greece's visa policy toward his country, according to a Rompres report cited by the BBC. Vasile asked for "the greatest possible relaxation" of visa restrictions on so-called "low emigration risk" categories of travelers, such as entrepreneurs. He added that the two countries have agreed to create joint committees composed of Foreign Ministry representatives. VG U.S. TO URGE RUSSIAN TROOP WITHDRAWAL FROM MOLDOVA. U.S. Ambassador at Large Stephen Sestanovich on 19 October said his country will support Moldova in its bid to secure the withdrawal of Russian troops from the breakaway region of Transdniester, Infotag and BASA-Press reported. Sestanovich, who was on a one-day visit to Moldova, said the U.S. will urge Russia to meet its obligations on troop withdrawals at the November OSCE meeting in Istanbul. On 19 October, Moldovan President Petru Lucinschi urged Romania to support its attempts to have the Russian troops withdrawn, according to ITAR-TASS. Sestanovich also praised Moldova's economic transition, calling it a "reform leader in the post-Soviet area." VG STABILITY PACT COORDINATOR IN BULGARIA. The special coordinator of the Balkan Stability Pact, Bodo Hombach, said on 19 October in Sofia that Western donors should specify concrete investment projects for the region by the end of 1999 or early 2000. In the meantime, Hombach said donors will send recipient countries in the Balkans an "investment charter" outlining the main impediments to foreign investment in their countries. Hombach emphasized that countries in the region must address crime and corruption. VG EU INSPECTS BULGARIAN NUCLEAR PLANT. A team of EU nuclear experts inspected four nuclear reactors at Bulgaria's Kozloduy plant on 19-20 October. The EU team is checking whether recent upgrades at the plant meet the specifications of international watchdog agencies. VG xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc. 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