Words that open our eyes to the world are always the easiest to remember. - Ryszard Kapuscinski
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 207, Part II, 22 October 1999


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 207, Part II, 22 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 NGO REGISTERS POLICE ATTROCITIES AFTER 'FREEDOM
MARCH'

* CZECH COMMUNISTS LEADING IN THE POLLS

* CROATIA TO VOTE ON 22 DECEMBER
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUSIAN NGO REGISTERS POLICE ATTROCITIES AFTER 'FREEDOM
MARCH.' The public association Legal Assistance to the
Population has issued a statement citing "gross violations of
human rights" by the riot police vis-a-vis those detained
after the opposition "freedom march" on 17 October, Belapan
reported on 21 October. The association said it has received
a "large number" of complaints from people who suffered from
police mistreatment. In particular, victims reported that
policemen beat them with truncheons, insulted them using foul
language, and kicked at and trampled on them during their
transportation in vehicles to police stations. Meanwhile, the
authorities have given "expensive gifts" to some 60 riot
policemen involved in suppressing the "freedom march" and
awarded medals "for selfless service" to five policemen
injured in the clashes. JM

BELARUS WANTS TO IMPROVE TIES WITH EUROPE THROUGH FREE
ELECTIONS. Belarusian Foreign Minister Ural Latypau told the
Chamber of Representatives on 21 October that Belarus can
normalize its relations with European countries primarily by
holding free and democratic parliamentary and presidential
elections, Belapan reported. In his opinion, talks between
the government and the opposition could facilitate
preparations for the elections. According to Latypau, the
authorities are ready to begin such talks. He added, however,
that the talks in Belarus will be different from those held
in Poland and Czechoslovakia 10 years ago, when the opposing
sides were "almost equal in strength" and discussed a
transfer of power. In Belarus, Latypau said, an "absolute
majority" of the population supports President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka and the two sides will discuss only how to hold
elections that would be recognized by the EU as legitimate.
JM

UKRAINIAN SECURITY CHIEF DENIES CHECHEN ACTIVITIES IN CRIMEA.
"Krymskaya pravda" reported on 19 October that
"representatives of Chechen field commanders are buying dirt
cheap apartments in Kerch, Feodosiya, and other towns of
Crimea for families of [Chechen] militants," according to
Interfax. The newspaper also suggested that Chechen militants
are supported by "representatives of Crimean Islamist
organizations of a fundamentalist orientation." Ukraine's
Security Service chief Leonid Derkach told Interfax on 21
October that he has no information confirming that report.
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said in Zhytomyr the same
day that the authorities "are seriously keeping under control
everything that is taking place in Crimea." He also said he
will order that the "Krymskaya pravda" report be checked for
accuracy. JM

UKRAINIAN CHIEF BANKER CLAIMS TO HAVE BEATEN OFF ATTACK ON
HRYVNYA. National Bank Chairman Viktor Yushchenko on 21
October said the bank has fought off an attack on the
national currency, which slipped below the government trading
limit of 4.6 hryvni to $1 the previous day (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 21 October 1999). Yushchenko said the attack was
prepared by "Russian and Latvian banks," adding that it could
be even more serious than the "fuel crisis in July-August,"
Interfax reported. Yushchenko noted that there are no
"monetary reasons" for the destabilization of the financial
market. The same day, President Leonid Kuchma commented on
the recent hryvnya slide by saying that "money has appeared
in Ukraine and people want to play on this." JM

KUCHMA TO DEMAND $150 BILLION FROM RUSSIA? Speaking to
journalists in Khmelnyskyy on 20 October, Kuchma said Ukraine
intends to discuss with Russia the return of the money
transferred from Ukraine's Savings Bank to Russia shortly
before the breakup of the USSR. Earlier, Kuchma had said that
in 1991 some 84 billion rubles ($150 billion at the official
exchange rate of that time) were transferred from Ukraine to
Russia. Kuchma argued that Ukraine has the right to a part of
"what was accumulated and produced" during the Soviet era,
according to Interfax. He added that it is difficult for him
to say whether Ukraine will succeed in holding such talks
since they depend on "the good will of both sides." JM

ANTI-INDEPENDENCE ACTIVIST REJECTS TALLINN CITY COUNCIL SEAT.
Yevgeny Kogan, who gained prominence in the late 1980s as one
of the most vocal supporters of continued Soviet rule in
Estonia, has given up the seat he won on Tallinn's City
Council in the recent municipal elections, BNS reported on 21
October. Kogan, who ran as a candidate with People's Trust, a
coalition of Russian parties, gave up his mandate "in order
to avoid hindering People's Trust from fulfilling its
obligations to the voters," according to coalition leader
Sergei Ivanov. People's Trust is being wooed as a potential
member of a majority governing coalition in Tallinn, and
Kogan's presence on the party's list had been a stumbling
block to reaching an agreement. MJZ

ESTONIAN PARLIAMENT LEADER IN RIGA. Toomas Savi, the speaker
of the Estonian parliament, met with Latvian President Vaira
Vike-Freiberga and Foreign Minister Indulis Berzins during
his four-day official visit to Latvia, BNS reported on 21
October. Addressing the Latvian parliament, Savi
congratulated Latvia on the European Commission's recent
recommendation that the EU invite Latvia to begin accession
talks before the end of 1999. Savi also praised the
cooperation between Estonia and Latvia on defense issues,
noting the value of such efforts given that both Estonia and
Latvia aspire to become NATO members. Savi is scheduled to
meet with Prime Minister Andris Skele on 22 October. MJZ

RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR MISSES SKRUNDA RADAR HANDOVER CEREMONY.
Russian Ambassador to Latvia Aleksandr Udaltsev was
conspicuously absent from the ceremony marking the return to
Latvian control of the distant early warning radar site at
Skrunda, according to BNS on 21 October. Some 30 foreign
ambassadors attended that ceremony, during which Latvian and
Russian officials signed documents formally ending nearly 50
years of Soviet/Russian military presence in Latvia.
Udaltsev, however, did attend a reception that followed the
ceremony, BNS reported. MJZ

LATVIAN PARLIAMENT UPS PARTY MEMBERSHIP MINIMUM. Lawmakers
have given final approval to a bill increasing from 200 to
1,000 the minimum number of members a political party
requires to officially register, BNS reported on 21 October.
Three of the six parties currently represented in the
parliament--Latvia's Way, the New Party, and the left-wing
alliance For Human Rights in an Integrated Latvia have fewer
than 1,000 members and must raise their membership levels to
that level by 31 March 2000 or risk having their registration
revoked. Latvia's Way plans to ask President Vaira Vike-
Freiberga to veto the legislation, according to party
chairman Andrejs Pantelejevs. If Vike-Freiberga does not
comply with that request, the party plans to file an appeal
with the Constitutional Court. MJZ

LITHUANIAN CRISIS OVER OIL DEAL CONTINUES. The leader of
Lithuania's National Democratic Party, parliamentary deputy
Rimantas Smetona, has accused President Valdas Adamkus of
succumbing to the influence of the ruling Conservative Party
during the ongoing crisis over the sale of a stake in
Mazeikiai Oil to the U.S.-based Williams International
company, ELTA reported on 21 October. "Now we must find out
who the president stands with--the Conservatives or the
nation," Smetona said during a news conference. Meanwhile,
opposition parties continued to clamor for the rejection of
Williams International's bid for a stake in Mazeikiai.
Gediminas Kirkilas, a leader of the Democratic Labor Party,
said that Lithuania would benefit more from breaking off
negotiations with Williams rather than embarking on new
talks. MJZ

LITHUANIAN REGULATOR SAYS INGALINA IS Y2K READY. The State
Nuclear Safety Inspectorate announced on 21 October that most
millennium bug problems related to the Ignalina nuclear power
plant and its safety systems have been solved, although some
systems such as radioactivity monitoring and supervision
still do not meet Y2K repair standards owing to a lack of
funds. The plant has developed an emergency plan for dealing
with potential Y2K problems and has confirmed that operations
at Ignalina should not be affected if the Baltic States'
electrical grid breaks down, ELTA reported. MJZ

POLISH PARLIAMENT REJECTS 'DECOMMUNIZATION' BILL. The
parliament on 22 October voted 215 to 176 with 23 abstentions
to reject a bill that would have banned former communist
officials from being appointed to public posts for 10 years.
The bill was proposed last year by some 100 deputies of the
Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS). AWS deputy Marcin Kaminski
told lawmakers the previous day that the bill provides "the
last chance to cut the umbilical cord linking the Polish
Third Republic with the totalitarian, collaborationist state
that was the People's Republic of Poland." However, not only
the post-communist Democratic Left Alliance and Polish
Peasant Party but also the AWS's coalition partner, Freedom
Union (UW), voted against the proposed legislation. The UW
argued that the decommunization bill violates the
constitution and applies the principle of collective
responsibility. JM

POLISH MINERS BLOCK RAIL TRACKS TO PROTEST MINING REFORM.
Some 700 miners on 21 October blocked traffic at two rail
junctions in Lazy and Tarnowskie Gory, southern Poland, to
protest the government's restructuring of the coal mining
sector. The miners want the government to slow down the rate
at which it lays off employees and closes mines. They noted
that there are not sufficient funds to pay severance to laid-
off miners. The Transport Ministry has demanded that the
Interior Ministry restore the flow traffic at the blocked
junctions. However, the police have not intervened, arguing
that the protests are taking place on a site controlled by
the Railway Protection Service, which is subordinated to the
Transport Ministry. JM

CZECH COMMUNISTS LEADING IN THE POLLS. The Communist Party of
Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM) topped the latest opinion poll by
the Institute for Public Opinion Research, Czech media
reported on 22 October. The Communists received 23 percent
support, compared with 21 percent for the Civic Democratic
Party (ODS) and 17.5 percent for the governing Social
Democrats. The Freedom Union and the Christian Democrats
received 12 percent and 11 percent, respectively. It is the
first time since the fall of the communist regime in 1989
that the KSCM has taken the lead in an opinion poll.
President Vaclav Havel said the poll is a warning to the
democratic parties to stop their "flirting and games" and
start thinking about what is best for the country. ODS leader
Vaclav Klaus said he does not believe the poll but added that
it only reinforces his party's proposal for a "super-grand"
governing coalition of all democratic parties. VG

CZECH PARLIAMENT PASSES FOREIGNERS' LAW. The legislature on
21 October passed a law that sets stricter conditions on
foreigners applying for residency in the Czech Republic, CTK
reported. The legislature also passed a law on asylum for
refugees, which provides for free legal aid to be granted to
refugee applicants under certain circumstances. The
government says the new laws are designed to ensure that
Czech legislation in this area is in harmony with EU norms.
VG

SLOVAKIA AWARDS ORDER OF DUAL CROSS TO CHINESE AMBASSADOR.
Slovak President Rudolf Schuster awarded the Order of the
White Dual Cross (Second Class) to outgoing Chinese
Ambassador to Slovakia Tao Miaofa, CTK reported. The order is
one of the highest in Slovakia. The President's Office stated
that Schuster acted on a proposal by the Foreign Ministry.
Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan said it is standard practice to
award such orders to ambassadors at the end of their mission
in the country. A small group of demonstrators gathered
outside the presidential palace to protest the decision,
saying the order should not be given to representatives of
countries that violate human rights. VG

HUNGARY SUBMITS LIST OF LOST ART WORK TO RUSSIA. The
Hungarian Embassy in Moscow on 21 October submitted to the
Russian Foreign Ministry a list of Hungarian art works that
are believed to have been taken to Russia during and after
World War II, Hungarian media reported. According to a law
passed in Russia last year, the art works are now considered
Russian state property. However, that law provides for
bilateral negotiations in certain cases. In other news, the
Federation of Jewish Religious Communities in Hungary has
said that it is "shocked" by last week's unveiling of a
plaque to commemorate the Hungarian gendarmerie that actively
took part in the internment of some 430,000 Jews in ghettos
during World War II. The plaque is dedicated to those
gendarmes who were killed in action during the war. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

CROATIA TO VOTE ON 22 DECEMBER. President Franjo Tudjman told
the National Council of his governing Croatian Democratic
Community (HDZ) on 21 October that parliamentary elections
will take place on 22 December, "Jutarnji list" reported. He
said that the lower house of the parliament will dissolve
itself "around 10 November," after which he will formally
announce the date for the ballot. The HDZ council agreed that
there will be 10 electoral districts of about 380,000 voters
each, plus one "district" for Croats living abroad. Elections
are due in 2000, but the HDZ and opposition alike had
frequently said that the vote would take place sooner. Public
opinion polls suggest that a six-party coalition of
opposition parties is likely to win more votes than the HDZ,
which many voters hold responsible for Croatia's low standard
of living and high level of corruption. The strongest single
opposition party is Ivica Racan's Social Democrats. Tudjman
and the HDZ have profited in the past from the virtually
incessant in-fighting within the ranks of the opposition. PM

OPPOSITION, CHURCH CRITICAL OF TUDJMAN'S DECISION. The
opposition coalition will present its official stand on the
elections on 25 October, but initial reactions of several
opposition leaders are negative, "Jutarnji list" reported on
22 October. The opposition politicians accused the government
of seeking to profit from the "Christmas atmosphere." They
added that the international community and Roman Catholic
Church will most likely object to the timing of the vote so
close to Christmas. In Rome, Archbishop Josip Bozanic, who is
president of the Croatian Bishop's Conference, said that the
important thing is that the election date is now finally
known. Bozanic's spokesman said, however, that the government
has clearly ignored a previous warning from the bishops that
elections should not take place close to Christmas. PM

HDZ SLAMS FARMERS' PROTEST. The government agreed on 21
October that the purpose of the farmers' protests is to
embarrass the HDZ in the runup to elections, RFE/RL's South
Slavic Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 October
1999). The HDZ National Council took the same position as the
government. Farmers' spokesmen stressed that the protesters
want to demonstrate their unhappiness with the government's
agricultural policies and will continue their protest
actions. PM

IS HDZ TRYING TO PACK HIGHEST COURT? The parliament is
expected to confirm on 22 October the nomination of eight
individuals to fill vacancies on the 11-member Constitutional
Court. Kresimir Rozman, who is vice president of a union of
government workers, told AP that the authorities chose the
eight on the basis of their loyalties to the HDZ. Any
professional expertise that any of them may have is
incidental, Rozman stressed. Vladimir Gredelj, who heads a
professional organization of judges, told "Jutarnji list"
that he has never heard of some of the nominees. Gredelj
added that at least one nominee has made statements in public
that reveal a lack of knowledge of even basic legal concepts.
PM

SERBIAN OPPOSITION SAYS ELECTIONS MUST BE AT ALL LEVELS.
Representatives of the principal opposition parties and
coalitions agreed in Belgrade on 21 October that they will
participate only in elections that are simultaneously to the
presidency, the parliament, and local offices, RFE/RL's South
Slavic Service reported. The government favors elections to
local governments only. The opposition controls some 40
municipal governments, including Belgrade and Nis. PM

MILOSEVIC'S PARTY REJECTS ROUNDTABLE TALKS. Ivica Dacic, who
is a spokesman for Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's
Socialist Party, said in Belgrade on 21 October that any
talks about elections must take place in the parliament. He
repeated his party's position that there is no need for an
early ballot. The opposition wants a special roundtable to
take up the issue of early elections. PM

SERBIAN REGIME CONTINUES INTIMIDATION CAMPAIGN. Unidentified
persons in Vranje on 20 October threatened local Democratic
Party leader Dragan Janjic, warning him not to organize any
demonstrations calling for Milosevic's ouster. Police sought
to break up a meeting of the opposition Alliance for Change,
which was attended by about 100 people, the private Beta news
agency reported. In Kragujevac, police broke up a meeting at
which wreaths were to have been laid in honor of high-school
students killed by the Communists at the end of World War II.
In Uzice, local people prevented police from detaining the
leader of an independent police union. PM

SECOND UN OFFICIAL ATTACKED IN PRISHTINA. Unknown persons on
20 October threw a grenade into the apartment of a Serbian
interpreter for the UN mission in Kosova (UNMIK), injuring
her seriously. A UN spokesman said the next day that she had
previously been "harassed by Albanians," Reuters reported.
Bernard Kouchner, who heads the UN mission, said that "this
deplorable attack on innocent women [sic.] and on a UNMIK
staff member deserves the world's condemnation." On 11
October, a crowd of ethnic Albanians killed a UNMIK official
of Bulgarian origin after mistaking him for a Serb (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 12 October 1999). PM

BERLIN DENIES REPORT OF MACEDONIAN ARMS SALES. A German
Defense Ministry spokesman has denied press reports from
Macedonia that Germany has agreed to provide Macedonia's
small army with a considerable quantity of arms (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 21 October 1999). The spokesman said on 21 October
that the ministry is studying a Macedonian request for arms
but has not made any commitment. PM

CAR BOMB ATTACK ON BOSNIAN SERB JOURNALIST. A car bomb
seriously injured independent journalist and publisher Zeljko
Kopanja in front of the Republika Srpska government complex
in Banja Luka on 22 October, Beta reported. His "Nezavisne
novine" recently ran a series of articles on war criminals
and speculators. Hospital spokesmen told the private Onasa
news agency that Kopanja is not in a critical condition.
Several bystanders were also injured, dpa reported. PM

PETRITSCH, BARRY PRESENT PROPOSED BOSNIAN ELECTORAL LAW. The
international community's Wolfgang Petritsch and the OSCE's
Robert Barry presented a proposed election law to the three
members of the Bosnian joint presidency in Sarajevo on 21
October. Petritsch said that he hopes the Bosnian authorities
will approve the law in time for the October 2000 elections.
Observers note that the law is aimed at easing the grip that
nationalist politicians have on their respective communities.
It will require candidates to win at least some support on
either side of the inter-ethnic boundary. At least one-third
of all candidates must be women. Some anti-nationalist
politicians say that the law does not go far enough because
it does not enable many voters to cross ethnic lines when
voting for members of the presidency. PM

ITALY CALLS FOR BETTER ECONOMIC TIES WITH ALBANIA. On a short
visit to Tirana on 21 October, Italian Prime Minister Massimo
D'Alema called for replacing the blossoming illicit trade
between the two countries with more legitimate activities.
"We should interrupt the trafficking of guns, drugs, and
cigarettes and the disgusting smuggling of people which
offends the conscience of Europe. We should replace that with
a safe sea where ships carrying goods travel between the
coast of Italy and the fascinating but not [economically
developed] Albanian coast. Security and development move
together," he added. D'Alema stressed that Italian business
needs a peaceful environment in Albania if it is to develop
economic ties there. "We want to make contact with the
Balkans and the East through Albania. This is the role that
Italy should play in order that the [EU's] Stability Pact
does not remain an empty phrase," AP reported. PM

ROMANIAN SENATOR BLASTS CHANGES TO NEW LAW ON SECURITATE
FILES. Constantin Ticu Dumitrescu on 21 October accused the
parliament of "killing" the recently passed bill on public
access to the files of the former communist Securitate,
according to a Mediafax report cited by the BBC (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 21 October 1999). Dumitrescu, who drafted the
original version of the bill, said parliamentary deputies had
made so many amendments to his draft that it would now serve
as a "veil" for the activities of the former Securitate. He
said the fact that the new version of the bill does not allow
people to study documents that do not deal with their own
persecution defeats the original purpose of his draft. He
also criticized the decision to allow the current secret
service to lock away certain files on the pretext that they
might be dangerous for state security. Dumitrescu called on
President Emil Constantinescu not to sign the bill. VG

ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES FUNDING FOR HEATING CRISIS. The
Romanian government on 21 October decided to increase the
1999 budget deficit in order to secure funding for
alleviating the country's heating crisis (see "RFE/RL
Newsline." 21 October 1999). The government plans to allocate
400 billion lei ($23 million) in subsidies to the country's
heating distributors. Finance Minister Decebal Traian Remes
refused to say whether the budget deficit increase would
threaten the country's stand-by loan agreement with the IMF.
The IMF has already expressed concern at the government's
wage policies. VG

MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES DEPUTY PROSECUTORS. Lawmakers on
21 October confirmed the appointment of three new deputies to
the prosecutor-general, BASA-Press reported. The Christian
Democratic Popular Front and the Communists voted against
those appointments, saying that two of the candidates had
been involved in attempts to interfere with police
investigations. Prosecutor-General Mircea Iuga dismissed the
accusations as "unfounded." VG

BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES ECONOMIC PLAN... The cabinet on
21 October approved an economic development plan, Bulgarian
media reported. The plan calls for a host of measures
designed to achieve stable GDP growth, including
administration restructuring, infrastructure development, and
investment in human resources. It aims at annual GDP growth
of 4 percent and a maximum inflation rate of 3 percent.
Economic growth for the first half of 1999 equaled just 0.5
percent. Deputy Prime Minister Alexandar Bojkov said the
government also plans to speed up the privatization process.
Bojkov said this year's privatizations should bring in some
$500 million. VG

...ADOPTS ARMED FORCES STRATEGY. The cabinet also approved a
plan that calls for the personnel of the armed forces to be
reduced by 44,800 from its current strength of 93,000 by
2004, BTA reported. Defense Minister Georgi Ananiev said the
armed forces would be divided into rapid reaction, defense,
territorial, and reserve forces. VG

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