Absence makes the heart grow fonder. -
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 208, Part II, 25 October 1999


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 208, Part II, 25 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

* U.S. ENVOY SAYS U.S.-BELARUS RELATIONS 'VERY STRAINED'

* KOSOVA'S SERBS SET UP POLITICAL BODY

* PANIC TELLS WASHINGTON TO USE 'NORIEGA OPTION.'

End Note: LITHUANIAN CRISIS REFLECTS EAST EUROPEAN SKEPTICISM
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

U.S. ENVOY SAYS U.S.-BELARUS RELATIONS 'VERY STRAINED.' U.S.
Ambassador to Minsk Daniel Speckhard told Belapan on 22
October that relations between the U.S. and Belarus have
deteriorated in recent months and are now "very strained."
Speckhard said the U.S. had hoped in late summer that Belarus
would take steps toward respecting human rights and returning
to democratic institutions but in fact, he commented, Minsk
took "several steps back." According to Speckhard, the
Belarusian government is not ready to follow the OSCE Minsk
mission's advice on how to ensure a successful dialogue with
the opposition. Moreover, Speckhard dismissed as "absolute
nonsense" statements by Belarusian officials that the West
financed the 17 October "freedom march," which ended in
clashes with the police. JM

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCHDOG CALLS ON OSCE TO WITHDRAW INVITATION TO
LUKASHENKA. The International Helsinki Federation for Human
Rights (IHF) on 24 October said the state of human rights and
democratic institutions in Belarus is "worsening by the day."
The IHF called on the OSCE chairmanship to withdraw its
invitation to Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to
participate in the upcoming OSCE summit in Istanbul. It
appealed to the OSCE to invite Syamyon Sharetski, chairman of
the opposition Supreme Soviet, to represent Belarus at the
summit. And it urged the OSCE "to review the legitimacy and
constitutionality of the current government of Belarus" at
the upcoming summit. JM

UKRAINE'S KANIV FOUR AGREES TO FIELD MARCHUK AGAINST KUCHMA.
The so-called Kaniv Four election alliance of Yevhen Marchuk,
Oleksandr Moroz, Volodymyr Oliynyk, and Oleksandr Tkachenko
have agreed to throw their support behind Marchuk as the
challenger to incumbent President Leonid Kuchma in the 31
October presidential ballot, AP and Reuters reported on 25
October. "We have agreed on the candidacy of Yevhen Marchuk.
The date for the others to withdraw their candidacies will be
announced later," Tkachenko commented. Press spokesmen for
Marchuk and Moroz also confirmed that the four had agreed on
Marchuk's candidacy. However, Moroz's spokesman said that for
now the deal is "just a declaration" and that the other
candidates do not need to formally pull out until 27 October.
JM

UKRAINE CRITICIZES RUSSIA'S 'INDISCRIMINATE' ATTACKS IN
CHECHNYA. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk on 22
October said Ukraine "unambiguously condemns the terrorism
that has caused the escalation of tension in Russia's south,"
Interfax reported. However, Tarasyuk added that Ukraine
"cannot welcome the indiscriminate character of military
actions in Chechnya, as a result of which the peaceful
population is also suffering." JM

KUCHMA VOICES CONCERN ABOUT ISLAMIC EXTREMISM THREAT IN
UKRAINE... Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said in Crimea
on 23 October that Ukraine is facing a threat of Islamic
extremism and called on security officials to protect the
country. "It's a fact that this problem exists today, the
question is only--to what extent," AP quoted Kuchma as
saying. Kuchma's remarks followed an unconfirmed press report
that Chechen militants are trying to establish themselves in
Crimea (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 October 1999). Meanwhile, a
congress of Chechens living in Ukraine on 24 October
condemned the Russian military campaign in Chechnya and
called for international intervention "to stop the Russian
aggressor." JM

...OBTAINS TITLE OF 'HONORED CRIMEAN.' The Presidium of the
Crimean parliament has conferred the title of "Honored
Crimean" on President Kuchma for his services to the
Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Kuchma received this news on
23 October as he was opening a 236-kilometer pipeline in
southern Crimea, which will provide gas to some 30 percent of
the peninsula's population. "We have shown that we can keep
our word," Kuchma commented on the construction of the
pipeline, which was completed in one year under Kuchma's
personal supervision. JM

RUSSIAN PARTY ENSURES RULING ESTONIAN COALITION LOCAL
VICTORY. The ruling coalition of Pro Patria, the Reform
Party, and the Moderates, which together won 28 seats in the
recent elections to the Tallinn City Council, has signed a
preliminary agreement with the Peoples' Trust, a Russian
electoral union, ETA reported on 25 October. The four seats
won by the Peoples' Trust ensure a ruling majority in the
Estonian capital's 64-seat city council. The three-year
agreement calls for the post of mayor to be given to a Pro
Patria member, while the position of deputy mayor will go to
a member of the Peoples' Trust. The unlikely coalition of
nationalist Estonian parties and ethnic Russian organizations
is reportedly based on the mutual desire to fight corruption
in the local city administration, which grew during the
leadership of the Center Party. AB

RULING COALITION WINS LOCAL SEATS THROUGHOUT ESTONIA. Prime
Minister Mart Laar told ETA on 23 October that the three
parties belonging to the ruling coalition will form 13 of 15
local government councils following the recent local
elections. Laar noted that this was the most successful
election to date for his party, Pro Patria. AB

LATVIAN PRESIDENT VETOES LAW RAISING PARTY MEMBERSHIP
REQUIREMENTS. Vaira Vike-Freiberga has returned to the
parliament amendments to the law on public organizations that
would raise the required minimum number of members for a
party from 200 to 1,000, BNS reported on 23 October. The
president said the amendments would restrict the legal rights
of citizens by imposing groundless restrictions. The
parliament adopted the amendments on 21 October, despite
objections by Latvia's Way, the only ruling coalition party
that has fewer than 1000 members. The National Human Rights
Office had also objected to the amendments. AB

ANTI-WILLIAMS DEMONSTRATION TAPS STUDENTS AND PENSIONERS...
ELTA reported on 22 October that 1,500-3,000 students and
pensioners gathered not far from the Lithuanian parliament
building to protest the impending deal between the U.S.-based
Williams International and the Lithuanian government over the
sale of a one-third stake in the country's oil refinery
complex. Former President Algirdas Brazauskas and Chairman of
the Social Democratic Party Vytenis Andriukaitis were joined
on stage by poet laureate Justinas Marcinkevicius and
philosopher Arvydas Juozaitis (both founding members of
Sajudis) as well as Vilnius University Rector Rolandas
Pavilionis and former Energy Minister Leonas Asmantas. The
speakers denounced the agreement as "shameful" and
"humiliating." Pavilionis charged that the deal would
sacrifice education, particularly higher education, by
diverting critical financial resources to a foreign
corporation. AB

...WHILE U.S.-LITHUANIA DEAL MOVES FORWARD. Sigitas Kaktys,
minister for government reform and local government affairs,
has initialed the agreements on shareholding and management
of Mazeikiu Nafta on behalf of the Lithuanian government, BNS
reported on 22 October. The final agreement with the U.S.-
based Williams International is expected to be concluded on
29 October. ELTA reported that Lithuanian President Valdas
Adamkus issued a statement acknowledging the risk of the
Williams deal but reminding his countrymen that they will
have to pay the debts of the failing industrial complex if
the U.S. investment project failed. He blamed the former
Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius who was toppled in June
for failing to design an overall energy strategy and
neglecting a transparent privatization model for Mazeikiu
Nafta (see also "End Note" below). AB

POLISH GOVERNMENT AGREES WITH MINERS ON RESTRUCTURING. Miners
lifted the blockade of two rail junctions (see RFE/RL
Newsline," 22 October 1999) after the government had invited
them for talks in Warsaw. On 23 October, representatives of
Solidarity signed an agreement with the Economy Ministry on
the future of the restructuring program in the coal mining
sector. The cabinet pledged to make the pace of restructuring
dependent on the money allocated in the budget for this
purpose. "The most important thing is that the specter of
10,000 redundancies next year without social cushions has
disappeared from before my eyes," miners' leader Henryk
Nakonieczny was quoted by Polish Radio as saying. JM

POLISH POLICE SMASH ARMS SMUGGLING GANG. Police squad in
Rzeszow, southeastern Poland, have arrested six Moldovans and
one Ukrainian in a crackdown on an arms smuggling gang,
Polish Television reported on 24 October. The police said
they seized 120 hand grenades, 5 kilograms of plastic
explosives, 100 meters of fuse wire, and an anti-tank rocket
launcher with a "super-modern armor-piercing missile." The
police suspect the weapons were ordered by Warsaw gangs. JM

'NO BUDGET BEFORE CABINET RESHUFFLE,' SAYS CZECH REPUBLIC'S
KLAUS. Civic Democratic Party leader Vaclav Klaus told Prima
television on 24 October that he doubts the parliament will
approve a budget for 2000 before the question of the
cabinet's lineup has been solved, CTK reported. Klaus said he
does not expect the budget to be approved before 31 December,
saying that apart from the minority ruling Social Democratic
Party (CSSD), "nobody will raise their hand" to approve a
budget "in whose making they have not participated." On 20
October, the Chamber of Deputies rejected the government-
proposed budget (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 October 1999).
Meanwhile, Deputy Premier Pavel Rychetsky told journalists on
24 October that the CSSD would rather go into opposition than
rule in a coalition that would impose "unacceptable
positions" on it, CTK reported. MS

SLOVAK COALITION CANDIDATE WINS KOSICE MAYOR RACE. Party of
Democratic Left (SDL) candidate Zdenko Trebula has been
elected Kosice mayor, beating out five other candidates,
SITA reported, Trebula was the candidate of the ruling
coalition in Bratislava. He replaces Rudolf Schuster, who
was elected president earlier this year. At 18 percent,
turnout was the lowest ever in local elections in that
city. Trebula received 11 percent of the 185,267 registered
voters, SITA reported on 24 October. Also on 24 October,
the SDL National Committee said it has "fundamental legal
and political objections" to the proposed agreement between
the Slovak government and the Vatican. The SDL says an
agreement with the Holy See is "necessary" but that it must
be preceded by the passage of a law regulating Church-State
relations and guaranteeing equal rights to all Churches in
Slovakia. MS

HUNGARY'S EARLY EU ACCESSION HOPES DASHED. "Accession talks
with Hungary cannot be completed in 2001," Franz Fischler,
a member of the European Commission responsible for
agriculture, told the 24 October "Nepszabadsag." The
Austrian EU commissioner said the EU will have to carry out
its own reforms before it wraps up admission talks with the
best-prepared candidates in 2002. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

KOSOVA'S SERBS SET UP POLITICAL BODY. Meeting in Gracanica on
24 October, the 49-strong Serbian National Council elected
Serbian Orthodox Archbishop Artemije president (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 19 October 1999). The representatives of Kosova's
approximately 100,000 remaining Serbs also chose Momcilo
Trajkovic to head the Executive Board. The council seeks to
act as a government body for the Serbian minority and to
establish five cantons in which the Serbs make up the
majority. The council did not vote to set up a Serbian
militia, which representatives of the international community
had earlier said would be unacceptable. It is unclear how the
international community will react to the council's plans to
function as a government body. Executive authority in Kosova
rests with Bernard Kouchner and his UN mission. Artemije and
Trajkovic are veteran leaders of their people and oppose the
policies of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. PM

ETHNIC ALBANIANS DEMONSTRATE AGAINST RUSSIAN PRESENCE. Some
4,000 ethnic Albanians gathered in Rahovec on 24 October to
reaffirm their opposition to stationing Russian peacekeepers
in the town. Since 23 August, ethnic Albanians have blocked
the main road into Rahovec to prevent Russians from entering
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 August 1999). The first anti-
Russian protests took place on 7 July. Local Albanians say
that unidentified Russians joined Serbs in committing
atrocities in the area in the spring and that Russians are
not welcome there. PM

NATO ARRESTS TWO SUSPECTED WAR CRIMINALS. KFOR troops have
begun screening Serbian refugee columns in the hope of
finding persons believed to have committed atrocities in the
province earlier this year. A KFOR spokesman said in Rahovec
on 23 October that his soldiers arrested two Serbs who were
part of a convoy seeking to leave Kosova under KFOR
protection. The spokesman added that peacekeepers will screen
only those convoys that have requested a KFOR escort. PM

SERBIAN OPPOSITION MEETS DOBBINS IN BUDAPEST. U.S. special
envoy for the former Yugoslavia James Dobbins met in Budapest
on 24 October with several leaders of the Serbian opposition
Alliance for Change. Alliance spokesman Veran Batic told the
private Beta news agency that Dobbins said that Washington is
against a complete lifting of sanctions against Serbia. The
U.S. diplomat added, however, that Washington will coordinate
its sanctions policy more closely with that of the EU and
that the number of Yugoslav officials barred from entering
the U.S. or EU will be doubled to more than 600. The
opposition has long argued that economic sanctions hurt
mainly average Serbs and that it is better to have punitive
measures targeted directly at the elite. On 22 October, the
parties represented in the Alliance agreed to form a
coalition in the next elections. PM

PANIC TELLS WASHINGTON TO USE 'NORIEGA OPTION.' Earlier on 24
October, Alliance for Change leaders met in Budapest with
millionaire businessman and former Yugoslav Prime Minister
Milan Panic, who told AP that the opposition lacks funds. The
next day, Panic called on the U.S. to intervene militarily
against Milosevic, as it did against Panamanian President
Manuel Noriega in 1990. Panic said: "We have a dictator
called Milosevic who is a threat not only to poor Serbs, [who
are] the true victims of all this. We have an economy that
has truly collapsed...and the major issue we are discussing
is how to stop the suffering of people.... American troops
are closer to Milosevic's home than they were to Noriega's
home," Panic added. He argued that if the Americans want
Milosevic out of power, "then [they should] get him.... This
is a Serb speaking.... I know this is internationally
unacceptable, but if you want him so bad, don't punish
[average Serbs but] take him out, get him out, force him out,
do something," Panic concluded. PM

YUGOSLAV MINISTER LAUDS U.S. MEDIA. Information Minister
Goran Matic said that "The New York Times," "The Washington
Post," and CNN provide better coverage of Yugoslav affairs
than do the independent Belgrade periodicals "Blic," "Danas,"
"Glas javnosti," and "Vreme," Beta reported on 25 October. PM

SESELJ WARNS OF 'BLOODY WAR' IN MONTENEGRO. Serbian Deputy
Prime Minister Vojislav Seselj told a Montenegrin radio
station on 24 October that any move by Montenegro to secede
from Yugoslavia could result in a "bloody war" and NATO
intervention, AP reported. His statement came the day before
officials of his Radical Party started talks with
representatives of Montenegro's governing Democratic Party of
Socialists on the future of relations between Serbia and
Montenegro. Also on 24 October, Montenegrin Prime Minister
Filip Vujanovic said that Belgrade's attitudes toward
Montenegro have changed recently. He did not elaborate. PM

DJUKANOVIC PLEDGES 'MONETARY SOVEREIGNTY.' Montenegrin
President Milo Djukanovic said in Herceg Novi that his
republic will soon introduce "monetary sovereignty,"
Belgrade's "Danas" wrote on 25 October. The daily added that
Montenegrin officials are well advanced in preparations to
introduce the German mark as legal tender along with the
Yugoslav dinar. Djukanovic and members of his government have
frequently spoken about planning to take steps toward greater
sovereignty for their republic but have not said when they
will do so. PM

INTERNATIONAL REPRESENTATIVE LEAVES SREBRENICA POST. The
international community's Wolfgang Petritsch replaced Danish
diplomat Bent Jensen as his representative in Srebrenica,
RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 23 October. Muslim
leaders have complained that Jensen is pro-Serbian.
Petritsch's office said in a statement that Jensen was
replaced as part of a restructuring of the international
community's operation in Bosnia. The statement criticized
what it referred to as verbal attacks on individuals,
"Oslobodjenje" reported on 25 October. PM

JELAVIC CALLS FOR NEW DEAL FOR CROATS. Ante Jelavic, who is
the ethnic Croatian representative on the joint Bosnian
presidency, said in Mostar that the present federation
between Croats and Muslims must be scrapped. He stressed that
the Croats are junior partners in the current arrangement and
that the international community regularly interferes in its
affairs to the detriment of the Croats, "Oslobodjenje"
reported on 25 October. Jelavic said that the terms governing
the federation must be renegotiated. If the international
community refuses to do this, then it should openly declare
Bosnia an international protectorate and dispense with any
pretense that there is self-government in Bosnia. PM

CROATIA'S MUSLIMS FORM JOINT ORGANIZATION. Representatives of
several organizations of Bosnian Muslims living in Croatia
agreed in Pula on 23 October to form the League of Bosnjaks
(Muslims) of Croatia as an umbrella organization. Member
groups include the political Party of Democratic Action, the
religious Islamic Community, the cultural society Preporod,
and the charitable organization Merhamet. PM

FRANCE CONTINUES TO BLOCK CROATIAN, ALBANIAN MEMBERSHIP IN
WTO. At the urging of France, the EU remains at loggerheads
with Washington over the terms of admission of Croatia and
Albania to the WTO, London's "Financial Times" reported on 25
October. Paris insists that Zagreb and Tirana place legal
restrictions on the import of U.S. films and television
programs. France refused to accept a recent compromise
between its EU partners and Washington. PM

ALBANIAN SOCIALISTS OPT FOR DIVIDED LEADERSHIP. At a 22
October Socialist party congress in Tirana, delegates
approved the controversial election of 36 members of the 116-
strong steering committee. Party leader Fatos Nano had
challenged the election of the 36 because they received less
than 50 percent of votes cast at a similar gathering two
weeks earlier. Party statutes require Steering Committee
members to win more than 50 percent of the vote. Observers
note that Nano's apparent climb-down means that supporters of
Nano's rival, Prime Minister Pandeli Majko, will continue to
play a large role in governing the party (see "RFE/RL Balkan
Report," 19 October 1999). Nano's supporters are more
numerous than Majko's within the party, but Majko has a
stronger appeal to the public than does the combative Nano.
PM

DEMOCRATS CALL FOR NEW ELECTIONS IN ALBANIA. Opposition
leader Sali Berisha told several thousand supporters in
Tirana on 23 October that in-fighting within the Socialist
Party shows that the Socialists have lost their mandate to
govern. He repeated his frequent call for the Socialists to
resign and hold new elections. Berisha promised to hold a
series of protests in coming weeks until the governing
coalition agrees to a new ballot. PM

ROMANIAN OPPOSITION CALLS FOR EXPERTS' CABINET, EARLY
ELECTIONS. Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR)
leader Ion Iliescu told journalists after a 22 October
meeting of the PDSR's Executive Bureau that his party is
demanding the dismissal of the cabinet, its replacement by
one composed of "apolitical experts," and early elections,
RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Iliescu said Radu
Vasile's cabinet has displayed "a lack of interest" vis-a-
vis the population and the "inability" to ensure minimum
living standards. MS

FORMER ROMANIAN PREMIER DROPS OUT OF PRESIDENTIAL RACE.
Victor Ciorbea on 22 October told a forum of his Christian-
Democrat National Alliance that he has decided to withdraw
from the 2000 presidential elections. He gave no reason for
that decision, Romanian Radio reported on 22 October. MS

MOLDOVAN DEPUTY PREMIER UNDER FIRE. Andrei Strimbeanu, a
member of the Moldovan Party of Rebirth and Conciliation
(PRCM), said on 23 October that he will demand that Deputy
Premier Nicolae Andronic be expelled from the PRCM for
having voted the same day in the parliament in favor of
setting up the new Taraclia county, BASA Press reported.
But PRCM Chairman Mircea Snegur said Andronic cast his vote
as a member of the cabinet, not as a PRCM deputy. Also on
23 October, Andronic denied allegations by General Nicolae
Alexe, former head of the Department for Combating
Organized Crime, that he is a member of a Russian mafia
group with branches in Moldova. The same day, Tiraspol's
Russian-language "Pridnestvoe" wrote that Andronic may have
been behind the killing of a police major, who lost his
life in a bomb explosion in Chisinau earlier this month. MS

BULGARIAN PREMIER CONCEDES LOCAL ELECTIONS RESULT ARE
'WARNING'... Prime Minister Ivan Kostov on 24 October said
that the results of the local elections are a "serious
warning for the ruling coalition" but that the course of
reform will not be changed, BTA reported. Run-offs in the
local elections took place one day earlier, on 23 October.
The Central Electoral Commission announced that the ruling
United Democratic Forces alliance (ODS) and the opposition
Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) have approximately the same
level of support after the two rounds of voting. The ODS
won 101 local councils and the BSP 94. The ethnic Turkish
Movement for Rights and Freedom came third and lost the
municipality of Kurdjali to the ODS. It has accused the ODS
of having rigged the elections. MS

...SAYS MIGHT RESHUFFLE CABINET. Kostov, in an interview with
the BBC to be aired on 25 October, said he will reshuffle his
cabinet if Bulgaria receives a formal invitation to join the
EU, Reuters reported on 23 October, citing the daily "Sega."
He said the cabinet is "structurally not suitable" for the
expected accession talks. Several opposition leaders said the
real reason for the reshuffle is the ODS's poor showing in
the local elections. On 24 October, Kostov suggested that the
talks with the EU may encounter difficulties because of the
union's insistence on closing down the Kozloduy nuclear
plant, AP reported. He said the EU invitation to accession
talks is "not so unconditional" as it might have looked and
that "national consensus [over Kozloduy] is a very high price
and I do not know who is going to pay it, even if it would
speed up the accession talks." MS

END NOTE

LITHUANIAN CRISIS REFLECTS EAST EUROPEAN SKEPTICISM

By Joel Blocker

	Lithuania's government crisis over the impending sale of
one-third of its state-owned Mazeikiai oil refinery to a U.S.
company broke into public view last week during a nationwide
television address by Prime Minister Rolandas Paksas.
	Paksas--himself only five months in office-- said on 18
October that 18 months of negotiations with the Oklahoma-
based Williams International Company has ended in a deal
decidedly disadvantageous to Lithuania. That, he said, is
largely because the final accord, due to be signed on 29
October, requires Vilnius to pay up to $400 million to
Williams to cover both debts and a shortfall in Mazeikiai's
working capital.
	The day after Paksas's speech, the crisis intensified
with the announcement of the resignations of Lithuania's
finance and economics ministers, both of whom said they agree
with Paksas's objections to the deal. But the rest of
Paksas's 15-member coalition cabinet support the idea, and
President Valdas Adamkus-- a former U.S. citizen--strongly
backs the deal. After the cabinet approved the deal in the
evening of 18 October and Adamkus had accepted the two
ministers' resignations, the president said he is not
necessarily for Williams but for what he called terms
"beneficial" to Lithuania.
	Speaking for Premier Paksas, economics adviser Eduardas
Vilkas saw the matter very differently. He called the
Williams agreement "completely foolish," saying, "We must
finance $400 million dollars [in payments to Williams]
immediately, while the Americans stagger their payments. It
isn't right." Williams' payments are to total some $150
million.
	According to Kestutis Girnius, director of RFE/RL's
Lithuanian Service, the Williams crisis has important
implications for changing East European attitudes toward
Western investment. He suggests that there is a general
tendency in Central and Eastern Europe "to look askance at
certain Western investments." He also says that the small
degree of "anti-Western skepticism about the West" is
growing. Major projects, such as Mazeikiai, are considered to
be the pride of local industry, and giving them up is seen as
a "sign of defeat," he argues.
	Girnius believes this new tendency also reflects a
change in attitude toward Russia. He says there is a much
greater willingness in Lithuania today to accept Russian oil
as the country's principle source of energy. That, too, could
play a role in the evolution of the Williams crisis, because
Russia's oil giant LUKoil has cut off supplies of crude to
Lithuania in protest over the sale to Williams. LUKoil itself
had hoped to purchase a controlling share in Mazeikiai.
	According to Girnius, the Williams accord could easily
bring down the Paksas government on or soon after 29 October,
when the deal is due to be signed. He thinks the government's
biggest mistake in the affair was not setting up a public
tender for Mazeikiai, which created the impression the
government was in effect giving away the huge refinery.
	As for the immediate future, he say he believes nothing
will be done until 29 October. "After the deal is signed,
then I think there is a great possibility that pressure will
increase for Paksas' resignation. But in the long run, [it
will turn out that] his popularity has soared."
	Paksas, according to Girnius, is already seen by the
public as "a defender of the little man, a folk hero." That,
he adds, may turn out to be the most important domestic
consequence of the Williams affair.
	As for the international implications, it is clear that
the government crisis and public concern over the Williams
deal is a sign of rapidly changing attitudes in Eastern
Europe toward Western investment. How small or big a sign it
is will be known only over the weeks and months to come. But
the Williams affair strongly suggests that the change is
already well under way.

The author is a RFE/RL correspondent based in Prague.

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Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole
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Updated: 1998-11-

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©1996 Friends and Partners
Please write to us with any comments, questions or suggestions -- Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole