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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 213, Part II, 2 November 1999
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 213, Part II, 2 November 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 * BELARUS RELEASES ONE OPPOSITION LEADER, KEEPS ANOTHER DETAINED * CROATIAN PRESIDENT UNDERGOES EMERGENCY SURGERY * EUROPEAN ANALYSTS CRITICIZE INTERNATIONAL HANDLING OF BOSNIA xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE BELARUS RELEASES ONE OPPOSITION LEADER, KEEPS ANOTHER DETAINED. Mikalay Statkevich, the leader of the opposition Social Democratic Party, was released from detention on 31 October, AP reported. Statkevich was arrested and charged with organizing mass demonstrations last month following clashes between police and protesters (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 October 1999). Statkevich said he was let go only after signing an agreement not to leave the country. He added that he was freed "because of the growing international solidarity for [the] liberation of political prisoners in Belarus." In other news, Belapan reported on 1 November that the pre-trial detention of former Belarusian Premier Mikhail Chyhir has been extended for one month. Chyhir, a candidate in the opposition's parallel presidential election in May, was arrested in April. He is now awaiting trial on charges of abuse of power and criminal negligence. PB INTERNATIONAL AGENCY PLEDGES MORE CHORNOBYL AID TO BELARUS. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) pledged on 31 October to increase its aid to Belarus for alleviating problems from the Chornobyl nuclear disaster, Reuters reported. Jihui Qian, the IAEA vice president, said "Belarus badly needs our assistance...there is nothing more important [here] than combating the consequences" of the disaster. Jihui made his announcement after a tour of the most affected areas. Some 25 percent of the country remains affected by radiation released in the 1986 explosion. The IAEA is involved in two programs in Belarus, one aimed at reducing radiation in homes and property, the other providing funds for the construction of a plant in the south that would produce safe cooking oil. PB KUCHMA, SYMONENKO LOOKING FOR SUPPORT FROM LOSING CANDIDATES. The campaign manager for Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said on 1 November that ahead of the runoff election for the presidency Kuchma's campaign team will seek allies from among "party leaders and our opponents from yesterday," Reuters reported. Ivan Kuras said Kuchma will "cooperate with those in a constructive mood...willing to be constructive allies." Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko, who will face Kuchma in the 14 November runoff, said he will hold talks with left- wing allies in a bid "to join forces with those who are ready to struggle against the regime." Symonenko, who advocates forming a Slavic union with Belarus and Russia, said he would divide Ukraine's foreign debts into the categories of "those that have to be paid and those whose legality should be checked." He also said he would "exclude the dollar from domestic circulation" and concluded a press conference asking "Why should the West be afraid of us?" PB OSCE SEES FAIR ELECTION, DIRTY CAMPAIGN IN UKRAINE. Election observers said on 1 November that the Ukrainian presidential election held the previous day was "carried out in a peaceful and orderly manner," dpa reported. A joint statement by the OSCE and the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly said that "although the campaign was highly questionable, voting in general was orderly and relaxed.... There is no immediate reason to doubt that the outcome of the first round of the election reflects the will" of Ukrainians. Simon Osborn, the head of the OSCE monitoring mission, said serious violations during the campaign included forged newspapers, the confiscation of campaign materials, the improper involvement of public officials in campaigning, and various media violations. Mykhailo Ryabets, the head of the Central Election Commission, said the commission received 37 claims of irregularities but that it has found no evidence of vote- rigging. More than 500 observers from 37 countries monitored the vote. PB SENTENCE COMMUTED FOR ESTONIAN WAR CRIMINAL. A Tallinn district court on 1 November commuted the sentence of convicted war criminal Mikhail Neverovski to three years' probation. Neverovski was convicted in the summer for his role in mass deportations in March 1949 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 August 1999). "I did not make any decisions concerning anyone's deportation, nor did I draw up any lists by which anyone was sent out of Estonia," Neverovski wrote in his appeal, BNS reported. The 80-year-old originally was sentenced to four years in jail. MH LATVIAN GENOCIDE SUSPECT APPEALS FOR RELEASE. The lawyer for 72-year-old former KGB colonel Janis Kirsteins asked the Riga Central District Court on 1 November to release the detainee on the grounds of poor health and advanced age, BNS reported. Kirsteins was arrested on 29 October and accused by the Latvian Prosecutor General's Office of falsifying criminal records and signing documents that led to the deportation of residents in the central Latvian districts of Cesis, Gulbene, and Madona during the 1940s. The investigation into Kirsteins' case began in 1994. He is the third person this month to be accused by the Latvian authorities of genocide on the basis of actions in the 1940s. MJZ RUSSIA'S FSB SENDS MESSAGE ABOUT LATVIAN NEWSPAPER'S CHECHNYA COVERAGE. Russia's NTV reported on 31 October that according to the Russian Federal Security Service, "Diena" correspondent Atis Klimovics is in danger of being kidnapped by Chechen forces and that Klimovics is currently on Chechen territory. According to LETA and BNS on 1 November, however, Klimovics is in Latvia, having returned there from Chechnya one week ago. Klimovics told viewers of the Latvian television news program "Panorama" on 31 October that this incident shows that Russia is attempting to impose an information blockade and that severe obstacles are preventing journalists from covering events in Chechnya. "Russia is not pleased about journalists' reports that diverge from the views of the information center created especially for this war in Moscow," Klimovics told "Panorama." MJZ FORMER RUSSIAN PREMIER ARRIVES IN VILNIUS. Yevgenii Primakov, who recently became leader of the Fatherland-All Russia electoral bloc, has arrived in Lithuania for a private visit, ELTA and ITAR-TASS reported on 1 November. Primakov will nonetheless meet with President Valdas Adamkus and Foreign Minister Algirdas Saudargas and deliver a lecture to students and faculty at the Institute of Foreign Relations of Vilnius University. He will then proceed to Kaliningrad Oblast. AB U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT PRAISES LITHUANIA'S DEAL WITH WILLIAMS. BNS reported on 1 November that U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Ronald Asmus praised the signing of an agreement between the Lithuanian government and U.S.-based Williams International on sale of a stake in Mazeikiu Nafta, Lithuania's oil complex. "This is good for Lithuania, good for the U.S., [and] good for the region," Asmus commented. AB SALARIES, PENSIONS DELAYED IN LITHUANIA. "Lietuvos Rytas" on 2 November reported that at the end of last month, the Finance Ministry had paid the salaries of only parliamentary deputies and the president's staff. All other government ministries received only a portion of the amount due for salaries, and no funds were provided for operating expenses. October pensions are expected to be delayed after the treasury failed to transfer 10 million litas ($2.5 million) to the social security administration. The Finance Ministry explained that in order to prevent the government from defaulting on its bond, monies in the treasury are being held to pay government obligations on six-month securities due at the end of October. AB POLISH MINERS PROTEST CLOSURE OF COAL MINE. Coal miners staged a mock funeral on 1 November to protest the government's decision to close the Siersza mine in southern Poland, AP reported. The protest was the latest in a string of protests over mine closures and layoffs. Some miners have occupied the company's headquarters, while others started a hunger strike last week. The mine, which employs 1,600 people, is being closed as part of government plans to restructure the largely unprofitable coal mining industry. The state hopes to reduce subsidies to the mining sector and cut 40 percent of all coal mining jobs over the next three years. PB FORMER CZECH FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS CSSD 'SORT OF MAFIA.' Former Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec on 1 November called on the Social Democratic Party (CSSD) to disassociate itself from Prime Minister Milos Zeman and Foreign Minister Jan Kavan's accusations several months ago that Zieleniec bribed journalists to promote a positive image of himself. They promised to produce proof but have failed to do so to date. Zieleniec said that Zeman's adviser, Jaroslav Novotny, has tried to blackmail Foreign Ministry official Vaclav Hruby into producing false evidence, which, Zieleniec noted, demonstrates that the CSSD is "a sort of mafia," CTK reported. In an open letter to Zeman, Freedom Union Deputy Chairman Vladimir Mlynar on 1 November demanded that the premier "immediately" apologize to Zieleniec. MS CZECH PREMIER SAYS NO COMPENSATION FOR SUDETEN GERMANS. Speaking to the private Berlin 100.6 radio station on 1 November, Zeman said he will not agree to compensate Sudeten Germans for their loss of property following the 1945 Benes decrees, but he added that former Czechoslovak citizens will be able to settle in the Czech Republic after it joins the EU, as will citizens of all other EU member states. Zeman said, however, that the purchase of land by EU citizens will have to be restricted for some time, until Czech prices reach EU levels. He added that the split of Czechoslovakia in 1993 was "a mistake" that cannot be corrected by the EU's eastward expansion. MS CZECH GOVERNMENT MAY OUTLAW EXTREMIST ORGANIZATION. Interior Minister Vaclav Grulich on 1 November told journalists that his ministry may outlaw the Patriotic Front and the National Alliance because those organizations violate human rights, CTK reported. Grulich said that in accordance with the law, the ministry has sent a letter to the two organizations pointing out those violations; the organizations now have 30 days to respond in writing. The two far-right organizations demonstrated in Prague on 28 October, the anniversary of the foundation of the former Czechoslovakia. The demonstrators chanted nationalist slogans, and National Alliance leader Vladimir Skoupy told them that the Holocaust was "an invention." MS EU COMMISSIONER SAYS SLOVAKIA LIKELY TO BEGIN ACCESSION TALKS. Guenter Verheugen, EU commissioner in charge of enlargement, said in Brussels on 1 November that the commission is "seriously considering" recommending to the EU summit in Helsinki in December that Slovakia be invited to start accession talks, CTK reported. Verheugen spoke ahead of a two-day visit to Bratislava. "I want to tell the Slovak people that the EU is prepared to accept Slovakia as a member, that we want it as a member, and that we shall do everything we can to support Slovakia on the difficult path of meeting membership criteria," he said. MS SLOVAKS BELIEVE SITUATION WORSENED AFTER MECIAR'S ELECTION DEFEAT. Nearly three Slovaks out of four (74 percent) say the country's economic situation "has worsened" since the November 1998 elections, which resulted in the ouster of Vladimir Meciar's government. In an opinion poll conducted by the Bratislava-based Institute for Public Affairs in October, 61 percent of respondents said their living standards have since deteriorated, while 59 percent said they believe that the security of citizens has also decreased, CTK and SITA reported on 1 November. HUNGARIAN CABINET WANTS TO AMEND ELECTORAL LAW. On returning from Canada, Prime Minister Viktor Orban told journalists in Budapest on 1 November that the cabinet intends to amend the electoral law so that Hungarian nationals living abroad can participate in elections. Orban noted that voters must be citizens and thus ethnic Hungarians living in neighboring countries who do not have Hungarian citizenship will not be able to vote. The governing coalition and the extreme-right Hungarian Justice and Life Party support Orban's proposal, while opposition parties have rejected it. Without the latter's support, the electoral law cannot be changed, since a two-thirds majority in the parliament is required for such amendments. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE CROATIAN PRESIDENT UNDERGOES EMERGENCY SURGERY. Franjo Tudjman was rushed to a Zagreb hospital for surgery on 1 November to repair a perforation in his large intestine. Doctors declared the operation a success and said the president is "feeling well," AP reported. Tudjman, 77, was rushed to hospital after complaining of stomach pains. He had canceled several meetings with Roman Catholic officials and Croats living abroad during his recent visit to the Vatican. In 1996, Tudjman underwent surgery in Washington for what U.S. sources said was stomach cancer. However, he denied at the time that he was suffering from cancer. VG KOSOVA SERB POLITICIAN SHOT. Leading Kosova Serb politician Momcilo Trajkovic was shot in the leg on 31 October by an unidentified assailant. Trajkovic said he was shot outside his home in Prishtina by two men who spoke Albanian. KFOR commander Klaus Reinhardt denounced the attack as a "terrorist" act and said it was "absolutely intolerable." Reinhardt said Trajkovic, who is usually under KFOR protection, had asked for the guard to be temporarily removed on 31 October for "personal reasons." Bernard Kouchner, a top UN official in Kosova, said Trajkovic is one of the UN's top allies in building a "multi-ethnic Kosova." VG OSCE POINTS TO KOSOVA COURT CRISIS. Dean Everts, head of the OSCE mission in Prishtina, said the Kosova court system is in crisis and that international jurists are required to resolve it, Reuters reported. Describing the situation as a "massive problem," Everts said not a single court case has been brought to trial in Kosova since the arrival of KFOR troops in June. He said a number of factors are responsible for the crisis, including the insufficient number of judges, low pay, inadequate court facilities, and uncertainty about what laws should apply in Kosova. VG U.S. TO SUPPORT HEATING OIL AID TO YUGOSLAVIA. The U.S. will support an EU program to send millions of dollars worth of heating oil to Yugoslavia, "The New York Times" reported on 2 November. The oil will be sent to Nis and Pirot, where the local governments are opposed to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. U.S. State Department spokesman James Rubin announced that Washington will support any humanitarian initiatives that do not prop up the Milosevic regime. VG BRITISH JOURNALIST SENTENCED TO JAIL IN YUGOSLAVIA. A Yugoslav judge has sentenced a British journalist to 10 days in jail and expulsion. Dessa Trevisan, a Belgrade correspondent for London's "The Times," was found guilty of travelling through Serbia without an entry stamp in her passport. Trevisan's lawyer, Djordje Mamula, blamed the police for not stamping the journalist's passport at the border, Beta reported. He said Trevisan will appeal the decision. VG YUGOSLAV CHIEF OF STAFF CONDUCTS TROOP INSPECTION NEAR MONTENEGRO. Dragoljub Ojdanic on 1 November began what was described as a "regular" inspection of Yugoslav troops responsible for Montenegro, Reuters reported. The inspection comes amid statements by Montenegrin officials that they are preparing to introduce their own monetary system (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 November 1999). Ojdanic began his tour in the Serbian town of Uzice, where he also met with local authorities and businessmen. Tanjug reported that he is reviewing the housing situation of troops that were withdrawn from Kosova in June. He is scheduled to visit naval units in Montenegro later this week. VG DRASKOVIC TESTIFIES THAT POLICE TRIED TO ASSASSINATE HIM. Vuk Draskovic, chairman of the opposition Serbian Renewal Movement, testified in a court on 1 November that he was the victim of an assassination attempt in early October, Beta reported. After the hearing, Draskovic accused the Yugoslav secret police of having staged a 4 October road accident in which a truck swerved into a convoy of cars in which he was travelling (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 October 1999). VG PETRITSCH NOTES WILLINGNESS TO COOPERATE AMONG BOSNIAN SERBS. The West's top envoy to Bosnia, Wolfgang Petritsch, said on 1 November that the Bosnian Serb leadership has indicated a willingness to start cooperating with the tribunal, AP reported. Earlier, Petritsch met with the international war crimes tribunal's chief prosecutor, Carla del Ponte, in Sarajevo. Radio B2-92 reported the same day that top officials in the Bosnian Serb government are drawing up a law on cooperation with the international war crimes tribunal. The proposed law would reportedly envisage the arrest and trial of war crimes suspects on Bosnian Serb territory in the presence of international monitors. Petritsch also said the international community is determined to arrest former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, Reuters reported. VG ARRAIGNMENT OF DOSEN DELAYED. The arraignment of Bosnia Serb war crimes suspect Damir Dosen was postponed on 1 November after he injured himself playing volleyball, AP reported. VG EUROPEAN ANALYSTS CRITICIZE INTERNATIONAL HANDLING OF BOSNIA. A group of European academics and people with work experience in Bosnia-Herzegovina have released a report criticizing the international community's peace and restoration efforts in Bosnia, the "Frankfurter Rundschau" reported. The report, issued by the European Stability Initiative (ESI), concludes that efforts to establish a lasting peace process in the country since the 1995 Dayton agreement have failed. The group argues that the governing institutions set up by the West in Bosnia-Herzegovina "exercise no effective power" in the country. At the same time, the report notes that war- related power structures and the communist command economy have remained largely unchallenged. The ESI was set up last year by Christian Schwarz-Schilling, a former international arbitrator in Bosnia. VG PETKOVSKI LEADS MACEDONIAN PRESIDENTIAL RACE WITH ONE-THIRD OF VOTE... With the vote tallied in 74 of Macedonia's 85 constituencies, Social Democratic candidate Tito Petkovski had won about 33 percent of the vote in Macedonia's 31 October presidential election, Reuters reported the next day. Deputy Prime Minister Boris Trajkovski was in second place with 21 percent. The two candidates will face each other in a run-off on 14 November. VG ...WHILE BOTH LEADING CANDIDATES NOT HAPPY WITH RECOGNITION OF TAIWAN. Both Petkovski and Trajkovski told Reuters on 30 October that they are unhappy about Macedonia's diplomatic recognition of Taiwan. They said China is blocking every resolution related to Macedonia in the UN Security Council in retaliation for the recognition. Petkovski added that he will support closer ties with China if elected. Democratic Alliance presidential candidate Vasil Tupurkovski, who finished third in the vote, said the restoration of economic ties with China would be a disaster for Macedonia. Macedonia has received foreign investment from Taiwan as a result of the recognition. Tupurkovski said he will call on his voters to back the candidate who promises to maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan. VG ROMANIAN PREMIER ACCEPTS EU COMMISSIONER PROPOSAL. Radu Vasile has approved EU commissioner for enlargement Guenter Verheugen's proposal to set up a working group of experts from Romania, the European Commission, the IMF, and the World Bank to draw up a plan for Romania's economic reforms and oversee their implementation (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 November 1999). Vasile said he has accepted the proposal because radical economic reform cannot succeed without "massive external financing." The group is to set short-term targets as well as medium-range ones up to 2006, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT IN GREECE. Visiting President Petru Lucinschi and his Greek host, Konstantinos Stephanopoulos, have signed agreements on economic, technological, and agricultural cooperation, AP reported on 1 November. Stephanopoulos said Greece will support Moldova in its efforts to integrate into European structures. Lucinschi invited Greek businessmen to increase their investments in Moldova. He also met with Prime Minister Konstantinos Simitis, with whom he discussed, among other things, bilateral relations, regional affairs, and the activities of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization. MS BULGARIAN PREMIER WANTS COMPENSATION FOR KOZLODUY CLOSURE. Responding to a question posed by Georgi Pirinski, Socialist Party parliamentary group leader, Ivan Kostov said in the parliament on 29 October that Bulgaria "will not budge" from its present energy strategy if the EU does not offer it compensation for the early closure of the controversial Kozloduy nuclear plant. The government asked the legislature for another mandate to conduct negotiations with the EU on the early closure of the plant's first and second units and the future of the newer third and fourth units, BTA reported. The current energy strategy approved by the parliament stipulates that the older reactors will be shut down in 2003 and 2005 and the newer ones in 2008 and 2010. The agency reported on 1 November that parliamentary representatives say they are ready to grant the government's request for another mandate. MS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word subscribe as the subject of the message. HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE Send an email to email@example.com with the word unsubscribe as the subject of the message. 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