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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 216, Part II, 5 November 1999
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 216, Part II, 5 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 * UKRAINE'S MOROZ, VITRENKO SUPPORT SYMONENKO AGAINST KUCHMA? * U.S., EU TO COORDINATE APPROACH TO YUGOSLAVIA * POLL: MOST CROATS SAY TUDJMAN SHOULD RESIGN FOR HEALTH REASONS End Note: RADIO LIBERTY'S PETER DORNAN xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE IMF MISSION URGES BELARUS TO TAKE MORE LIBERAL STEPS. An IMF mission headed by Thomas Wolf has concluded a two-week stay in Belarus to assess that country's economic prospects, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on 4 November. In particular, the mission examined the government's plan to liberalize its monetary policy in 2000. While praising the government's intent, Wolf told journalists that Belarus should "go further" in liberalizing its hard currency market and prices as well as expanding privatization and launching agricultural reform. The IMF has not commented on Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's remark in the Russian State Duma last week that Russia's economic woes result from the country's cooperation with "those crooks from the IMF." JM UKRAINE'S MOROZ, VITRENKO SUPPORT SYMONENKO AGAINST KUCHMA? Ukraine's Central Electoral Commission officially confirmed on 4 November that President Leonid Kuchma and Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko will face each other in the 14 November presidential runoff. According to official results of the 31 October first round, Kuchma won 36.49 percent of the vote, Symonenko 22.24 percent, Oleksandr Moroz 11.29 percent, Natalya Vitrenko 10.97 percent, and Yevhen Marchuk 8.13 percent. Turnout was 70.15 percent. Moroz declared that he and "most" of his supporters will vote for Symonenko in the runoff but warned that a "large part" of his electorate will "vote against" both Kuchma and Symonenko. Vitrenko said she will back Symonenko if he offers her the post of premier in a future cabinet. Meanwhile, Interfax reported that other candidates in the elections--Oleksandr Tkachenko, Volodymyr Oliynyk, Mykola Haber, Oleksandr Bazylyuk, and Yuriy Karmazin--have also decided to support Symonenko against Kuchma. JM KUCHMA TO STRIKE ELECTION DEAL WITH MARCHUK? Kuchma said on 4 November that a dialogue with Marchuk about their "cooperation" in the 14 November runoff is "possible," Interfax reported. "Marchuk has to make up his mind," Kuchma added, noting that "talks with some of the former presidential candidates are under way and the results will be known shortly." Meanwhile, Mykhaylo Pohrebynskyy, head of the Kyiv-based Center for Political Research, told journalists on 4 November that Symonenko could beat Kuchma if the turnout in the second round is low. "If only 35 percent of the electorate turns out, then Symonenko will be president," Pohrebynskyy said, adding that "Kuchma's problem is to convince voters that Symonenko could win." JM UKRAINE URGES RIGHT TO EU MEMBERSHIP. First Deputy Foreign Minister Yevhen Bersheda urged the EU on 4 November to make a clear pledge that Ukraine has the right to become a member of the union, Reuters reported. It is expected that at the Helsinki summit on 10-11 December, EU leaders will unveil a new strategy for Ukraine, similar to that drawn up for Russia earlier this year. Bersheda said Ukraine wants the strategy to make clear that the country has a future in the EU once Kyiv meets the union's economic and political conditions for prospective members. Bersheda added that the first round of the presidential elections in Ukraine proved that Ukrainians want to move toward the West rather than turn back toward Russia. JM TALLINN ELECTS MOIS AS MAYOR. The Tallinn City Council on 4 November elected Interior Minister Juri Mois of the Pro Patria union as mayor of Tallinn. Mois gained 33 votes in the 64-member Council in a second vote, having won only 32 in the first vote, just short of the necessary majority. The opposition voiced anger at the re-vote, and Siiri Oviir of the Center Party called it a "legal infringement" on the rules of electing a mayor and promised to "definitely challenge this in court," "Eesti Paevaleht" reported. The Reform Party's Rein Voog was elected as City Council chairman on 28 October, thanks to the defection of an opposition member, giving the four-party coalition a majority of 33 seats (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 October 1999). MH LATVIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES AMENDMENTS AHEAD OF REFERENDUM. Lawmakers on 4 November passed amendments to the law on pensions, despite the fact that an earlier version of the bill will be put to a referendum on 13 November (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 October 1999). Most of the opposition walked out of the vote, BNS reported. The new amendments would slow down the rise in the official retirement age and lift some financial restrictions on working pensioners. Opposition lawmakers said the passage of the amendments causes a constitutional crisis, as it replaces a law blocked pending a referendum. They noted that they will challenge the amendments in court. MH LITHUANIAN NUCLEAR REGULATORS REFUTE RUMOURS OF 'INCIDENT.' The Lithuanian nuclear safety regulator VATESI has dismissed rumors of a recent "incident" at the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, ELTA reported. Ignalina director Viktor Shevaldin said no "incidents" surpassing the INES rating of zero have occurred at Ignalina for a long time, according to BNS. ELTA noted that the German television station RTL reported the possible incident on 3 November. Currently both reactors at Ignalina are working to full capacity. MH LITHUANIA NOT TO HOLD REFERENDUM? Opposition lawmakers' bid to hold a referendum over the sale of Mazeikiai Oil to Williams International (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 October 1999) may be in jeopardy after a chief supporter of such a vote withdrew his support. Saulius Peceliunas said he originally signed the petition calling for a referendum in order to pressure the government for better conditions from Williams; later, however, he recognized that it is too late and that the costs of the referendum will be high, ELTA reported. Lithuanian laws state that a referendum may be called when more than one-third of total members of the parliament, or 48 members out of 141, sign a petition. The withdrawal of Peceliunas would lower the number of signatures to 47. However, referendum supporters are questioning whether the actual number of lawmakers is currently 138, as three seats have been declared vacant for the remainder of the legislative term. MH POLISH COALITION STILL UNDECIDED ABOUT TAX REFORM. Finance Minister Leszek Balcerowicz of the Freedom Union (UW) caused the zloty exchange rate to plunge when he threatened on 3 November to quit the cabinet if the UW's coalition partner, the Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS), does not accept his tax-cutting proposal (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 November 1999). Polish Radio reported the following day that Balcerowicz termed the AWS's proposal on individual income tax brackets as "sufficiently close" to his own and "supportable." However, a UW-AWS expert commission has not yet agreed on a final tax bill to be submitted to the parliament. The zloty exchange rate fell to an all-time low of 4.35 to $1 on 4 November. JM POLAND, CZECH REPUBLIC, HUNGARY SUPPORT SLOVAKIA'S NATO BID. Janusz Onyszkiewicz, Vladimir Vetchy, and Janos Szabo, the defense ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary, respectively, pledged at their 3-4 November meeting in Poland to assist Slovakia in its efforts to integrate into NATO, PAP reported. According to CTK, the ministers also discussed cooperation in modernizing their countries' forces and combat equipment. JM EU COMMISSIONER CRITICIZES CZECH WALL. Speaking in The Hague on 4 November, ahead of the 10th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, EU commissioner in charge of enlargement Guenter Verheugen said that now, when East and West are no longer separated by an iron curtain whose symbol was the Berlin wall, Europe wants "no more walls, neither between East and West, nor inside countries, not in parts of a town, and not on a single street," CTK reported. Verheugen amplified this obvious allusion to the wall erected in Usti nad Labem by saying that discrimination against Roma in Eastern Europe is still strong and "represents one of the many problems for the EU enlargement." MS CZECH PARLIAMENT APPROVES INTRODUCING OMBUDSMAN. The Chamber of Deputies on 4 November voted 101 to 70 to establish the institution of ombudsman. The Senate must now vote on the bill, CTK reported. The opposition Civic Democratic Party and Freedom Union opposed the draft law, saying that citizens' rights are already defended by regular courts and the Constitutional Court. The bill stipulates that the ombudsman's office is to be located in Brno, like the Constitutional Court. It will have a staff of no more than 40 employees. The ombudsman will report cases of violation of the law to the Chamber of Deputies and/or make them public. MS SLOVAK LABOR OFFICE ALSO MARKING ROMA WITH LETTER 'R.' Like its Czech counterpart (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 October 1999), the Slovak National Labor Office (NUP) is marking the files of unemployed Roma with the letter "R," NUP Director General Jaroslav Sumny told CTK on 4 November. Sumny emphasized that this does not signal discrimination. He said that the letter is being used to point to what he called "a risky group," explaining that a low level of education, insufficient professional skills, and "complicated social adaptability" characterizes that group. He said that if NUP offices want to help them find jobs, they "must know something about them." He also said this form of evidence aids Slovakia to receive EU funds destined to help the Roma population. MS SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE U.S., EU TO COORDINATE APPROACH TO YUGOSLAVIA. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer agreed in Washington on 4 November that the U.S. and the EU will coordinate their policies toward Yugoslavia, Reuters reported. The two sides said U.S. and EU officials will hold meetings in the coming weeks to work out a coordinated strategy. While German officials said the meetings will focus on deciding whether to lift the sanctions on Yugoslavia before or after elections in Serbia, U.S. officials said the meetings will focus merely on creating "common objectives." Fischer stressed that the U.S. and Germany see "eye to eye" on the need to remove Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic from power. VG EU OFFICIALS CALL FOR LIFTING OF SANCTIONS ON YUGOSLAVIA. Various European officials have recently called for the lifting of sanctions against Yugoslavia as a means of easing the burden on average Serbs and supporting the opposition. On 3 November, Hans Koschnik, the German emissary to Bosnia- Herzegovina, said the sanctions should be lifted and replaced with "intensive cooperation" with the Serbian opposition, "Die Woche" reported. Koschnik's call was supported by officials in the Social Democratic and Christian Democratic parties of Germany. On 4 November, French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine sent a message to his EU colleagues in which he called for gradual lifting of those sanctions that affect average Serbs. At the same time, Vedrine said the sanctions that "directly touch upon the leaders of the regime in Belgrade" should be maintained and even tightened. VG ALBRIGHT: U.S. HAS INTEREST IN MONTENEGRO'S SECURITY. U.S. Secretary of State Albright on 4 November said the U.S. has an "important interest" in the security of the Balkans, "including that of Montenegro," Reuters reported. A senior State Department official said the remark was a "carefully worded" and "direct message" to the Belgrade leadership. Albright also said the U.S. will seek new ways to offer economic aid to Montenegro without propping up the regime in Belgrade. On official suggested that the U.S. might allow flights to and from Montenegro, but bypassing Serbia. VG MONTENEGRIN PREMIER MEETS YUGOSLAV CHIEF OF STAFF. Filip Vujanovic on 4 November said he met with Yugoslav Chief of Staff Dragoljub Ojdanic in order to "establish an environment in which any incident will be avoided," Reuters reported. The meeting took place that day, despite Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic's pledge that he will hand over any war criminal who happens to be on Montenegrin territory to the Hague based war crimes tribunal. The tribunal indicted Ojdanic for war crimes last May. Djukanovic said the arrest of war criminals such as Ojdanic is "linked to a high degree of risk, risk that the international community is cautioning Montenegro not to take." In Washington, State Department spokesman James Rubin expressed sympathy for Djukanovic's position, indicating that the Montenegrin leader is not "free to act" as he would like and that the U.S. believes his intention to cooperate with the war crimes tribunal is "genuine." VG SERBIAN OFFICIALS SAY MONTENEGRO'S CURRENCY CHANGE A NATO PLOT... Ivan Dacic, the spokesman for Milosevic's Socialist Party, on 4 November described Montenegro's new currency policy as a "move carried out by NATO which is using this puppet creation only as a means to an end." Serbian Radical Party head Vojislav Seselj said Montenegro's leadership is heading for "all-out secession," which he called "a very dangerous direction." Meanwhile, the National Bank of Yugoslavia announced that it has halted transfers of funds to firms in Montenegro from accounts of firms in Serbia. The bank said it took the measure to prevent the "uncontrolled issue of money in the territory of Montenegro," Beta reported. VG ...REJECT U.S. PLEDGE TO LIFT SANCTIONS FOR ELECTIONS. Seselj dismissed the recent U.S. pledge to lift most sanctions in exchange for free and fair elections as an attempt by U.S. Secretary of State Albright to ensure that "her bootlickers will win" the vote. He described the strategy as "violence." The official Yugoslav news agency Tanjug described the U.S. offer as "new tactics and tricks" being prepared by the Clinton administration. VG POVERTY ON THE RISE IN YUG0SLAVIA. The UN's humanitarian coordinator Steve Allen on 4 November said poverty has nearly doubled in Yugoslavia over the past year. Allen said the percentage of the population considered to be living in poverty increased from 33 percent in July 1998 to 63 percent in September 1999. The poverty level includes all people who have a monthly income equivalent to $60 or less. The figures do not include Kosova. Allen also noted that Yugoslavia's national health insurance fund is on the verge of collapse. VG NEW ORGANIZATION PAYS FINE FOR SERBIAN EDITOR. An organization calling itself Team 29 has paid the fine that Cedomir Jovanovic received for violating the media law in Yugoslavia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 October 1999), according to a Beta report monitored by the BBC. Jovanovic is the editor of the opposition Alliance for Change's publication "Promene." In a statement to the press, Team 29 pledged to "continue to assist in the struggle for a democratic Serbia by the means which the regime of Slobodan Milosevic allows." The Alliance for Change told Beta it is not familiar with the new organization. VG STUDIO-B SIGNS AGREEMENT WITH BANJA LUKA STATION. Belgrade's independent Studio-B radio and television station has signed an agreement with independent Banja Luka Radio-TV to share news and cultural broadcasts, Studio-B reported on 4 November. Meanwhile, Studio-B director Dragan Kojadinovic said some of his station's programs are still being jammed in Serbia. VG U.S. ASKS ISRAEL TO STOP BROADCASTING SERBIAN TV. The Israeli Spacecom company, which operates the Amos-1 satellite, has stopped allowing Serbian state television (RTS) to use its satellite for broadcasting. That move comes after the U.S. complained to Israel about the practice, AP reported. U.S. Secretary of State Albright had asked Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak at the recent Oslo summit to stop letting RTS use the Israeli satellite for broadcasts, the newspaper "Yedioth Ahronoth" reported. VG PETRITSCH DISAPPOINTED WITH FAILURE TO SECURE BORDER AGREEMENT. The international community's high representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Wolfgang Petritsch, on 4 November said he is disappointed over the failure of the joint presidency of Bosnia to adopt a draft law on a multiethnic state border service, Reuters reported. Bosnian Muslim President Alija Izetbegovic said he supported the proposal but that his Croatian and Serbian counterparts disagreed on how wide the border under control of the state service should be. The proposal called for the border belt to be 30 kilometers wide. Last week, the head of the UN international police force in Bosnia, Detlef Buwitt, said Petritsch will impose a law if Bosnia fails to adopt one by December. VG THREE PEOPLE SENTENCED IN MOSTAR CAR BOMB ATTACK. A Zenica court handed down three foreign nationals prison sentences ranging from five to eight years for their roles in planting a car bomb that injured almost 50 people in Mostar in 1997, ONASA reported on 3 November. The three men were also sentenced to five years' expulsion from Bosnia following their release. VG DEL PONTE RAPS CROATIA FOR NOT COOPERATING WITH WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL. The chief prosecutor of the Hague-based war crimes tribunal, Carla del Ponte, said on 4 November in Zagreb that she is "very disappointed" that Croatia is not cooperating fully with the tribunal. She was reacting to Croatia's refusal to hand over documents regarding Zagreb's Flash and Storm military operations in 1995. Del Ponte threatened to "report Croatia's noncompliance" with the UN Security Council unless it starts cooperating. Croatian Justice Minister Zvonimir Separovic said Croatia believes the tribunal has no jurisdiction over the operations, which he described as a "legitimate liberation of our land." Del Ponte said she is not questioning Croatia's right to carry out the operations. She said the tribunal wants to investigate whether war crimes were committed in the course of the operations, which sparked a mass exodus of Serbs from Croatia. VG POLL: MOST CROATS SAY TUDJMAN SHOULD RESIGN FOR HEALTH REASONS. More than 60 percent of Croats say President Franjo Tudjman should resign for health reasons, according to an Media Metar poll cited by AP on 5 November. VG OPPOSITION DEMONSTRATION HELD IN TIRANA. As Prime Minister Ilir Meta's cabinet outlined its priorities in the parliament on 4 November, some 3,000 demonstrators gathered in Tirana's main square to demand new elections, AP reported. Opposition Democratic Party leader Sali Berisha addressed the crowd, saying "new elections are the only way out of the deep crisis this country is in." In the parliament, Meta said the new government will focus on fighting corruption, stabilizing the country, and improving public order. The Democratic Party boycotted the session. VG ROMANIAN STUDENTS RENEW PROTESTS. Thousands of students again took to the streets in Bucharest and other towns on 4 November to protest small grants and bad living conditions in dormitories. Prime Minster Radu Vasile met with Daniel Onisor, leader of the Students' League, and signed an agreement stipulating that grants will be increased by 10 percent every month from January to May 2000 and by 50 percent in October 2000. But two student organizations from Bucharest announced that the agreement does not meet their minimum demands and that they will picket university buildings and go on a strike as of 5 November, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS HISTORY TEXTBOOK SCANDAL TO BE DEBATED BY ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT. Democratic Party and independent deputies joined lawmakers from the nationalist Greater Romania Party and Party of Romanian National Unity on 4 November to initiate a motion for debate in the Chamber of Deputies of the dispute over the "de-mythicized" history textbooks (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 October 1999). The 55 deputies said in their motion that by allowing these optional textbooks to be used in classrooms, the Education Ministry condones "the gross affront of Romania's historical past, the trivialization, marginalization, and falsification of historical truth" and thereby risks "the danger of losing our national identity," Romanian radio reported. MS MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT AMENDS BUDGET. The parliament on 4 November approved the amendments to the 1999 budget that it had rejected one week earlier, Infotag reported. The amended budget increases the deficit from 383 to 583 million lei ($52 million) and proposes covering the shortfall by borrowing on the international financial market, Infotag reported. Earlier on 4 November, Prime Minister Ion Sturza told legislators that they have 12 days to approve the amended budget and government-proposed privatization laws. He said he and his cabinet will resign if these changes are not approved. "The government needs a vote of confidence or one of no confidence. We are ready for any outcome," Reuters quoted him as saying. MS BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT MANDATES GOVERNMENT TO NEGOTIATE KOZLODUY SHUTDOWN. The parliament on 4 November voted 146 to 68 with five abstentions to mandate the government to negotiate the early closure of the Kozloduy nuclear plant. The legislators said that the government must seek EU compensation for the closure, AP reported. The same day, Guenter Verheugen, EU commissioner in charge of expansion, told Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mihailova in The Hague that Sofia is in an "excellent position" to begin accession talks with the EU, BTA reported. Verheugen said Bulgaria "fully meets political criteria" for EU membership and has started the process of economic reform. MS BALKAN LEADERS URGE INVESTMENTS. Meeting in Borovets on 4 November, the presidents of Bulgaria, Romania, and Greece urged the implementation of the Balkan Stability Pact, proposing that various projects be financed by international financial institutions. In a joint declaration, Petar Stoyanov, Emil Constantinescu, and Kostas Simitis pledged that "their countries will contribute to the substantiation [sic] of the Stability Pact." Simitis said Greece intends to mobilize over the next five years $500 million from the private sector to finance transport, energy, and telecommunication projects in the region, Reuters and AP reported. The three leaders urged the EU to raise funds to help remove from the River Danube debris from bridges bombed by NATO earlier this year. MS END NOTE RADIO LIBERTY'S PETER DORNAN By Mario Corti On All Saints Day (1 November), in Springfield in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, the former head of Radio Liberty's Samizdat Unit, Peter Dornan, died of cancer at the age of 76. He was the first editor of "Materialy Samizdata," a weekly Radio Liberty publication that became the biggest collection of annotated documents on human rights violations in the Soviet Union. "Materialy Samizdata," originally created for internal use only, was soon made available to external subscribers. It became the main source of information for scholars and journalists interested in the subject of human rights violations in the USSR. It was also a key source on Soviet dissidents' struggle for their individual, political, social, national, and cultural rights. Dornan joined Radio Liberty in 1956 as a research analyst. He was instrumental in the creation of a samizdat archive at Radio Liberty in 1968 and was its custodian until 1988, when he retired. He was also the author of the most exhaustive study on Andrei Sakharov at the beginning of the 1970s (which was included in "Dissent in the USSR: Politics, Ideology, and People," ed. Rudolf Tokes, Johns Hopkins University Press). Thanks to Peter Dornan, samizdat documents played a key role in Radio Liberty broadcasts. Indeed, it was thanks to samizdat and the efforts of Dornan that Radio Liberty's broadcasts became a real "domestic" service, broadcasting to the Soviet Union documents about and authored by people living inside the country. Dornan also acted as a talent scout for other departments of Radio Liberty: it was on his initiative that the current editor of "RFE/RL Newsline," who began her career as a freelance translator of Georgian samizdat, was signed up in 1980 by Radio Liberty Research. The samizdat archive, comprising more than 5,000 documents, is now housed at the Central European University in Budapest. Dornan recently donated his personal archive to the Drew University Library in the U.S. state of New Jersey. Mario Corti is acting director of RFE/RL's Russian Service. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc. 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