We are all apt to believe what the world believes about us. - George Eliot
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 217, Part II, 8 November 1999


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 217, Part II, 8 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

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Headlines, Part II

* UKRAINIANS STAGE RIVAL RALLIES TO MARK 1917 ANNIVERSARY

* MONTENEGRO TAKES MEASURES FOR ECONOMIC STABILITY

* ROMANIAN WORKERS RAID OFFICE OF BRASOV PREFECTURE
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUS MARKS ANNIVERSARY OF 1917 REVOLUTION. Some 10,000
people took part in a state-sponsored rally in Minsk on 7
November to mark the 82nd anniversary of the 1917 October
revolution, which is observed as a state holiday in Belarus,
Belapan reported. With the exception of parliamentary speaker
Anatol Malafeyeu, a Soviet-era Belarusian Communist leader,
no top officials took part in the demonstration. Participants
carried placards reading "Long Live Socialism" and "Lenin,
Stalin, Lukashenka." At a rally in Homel, police detained
three oppositionists who tried to display slogans other than
those officially approved. Other opposition activists,
however, succeeded in displaying a quote from Lenin: "Russia
Is a Prison of Nations." JM

MINSK TO OBTAIN $60 MILLION FROM PRAGUE TO BUY GRAIN.
Belarusian Premier Syarhey Linh told Belarusian Television on
7 November that the Czech Republic has agreed to provide
Belarus with a $60 million loan "on favorable conditions" to
buy some 500,000 tons of grain, including 40,000 tons of food
grain. Owing to the poor harvest this year, Belarus has a
grain shortfall of some 2 million tons. JM

UKRAINIANS STAGE RIVAL RALLIES TO MARK 1917 ANNIVERSARY.
Supporters of Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and his
competitor in the 14 November presidential runoff, Communist
Petro Symonenko, held rival demonstrations across Ukraine to
mark the anniversary of the 1917 revolution and to back the
presidential bids of both candidates. "In these elections, we
should return power to the people...and change the country's
ruinous socio-economic course," Symonenko told a 3,500-strong
crowd of Communist supporters in Kyiv. "Some call [the 1917
revolution] the dawn of a new era and others--a coup marking
the beginning of the long rule of dictatorship and
violence.... A look at the past should prevent us from
repeating tragic mistakes," Kuchma said on television. In
Lviv, nationalists threw eggs and bags with paint at
Communists and burned the flags of the Soviet Union and the
Ukrainian SSR. JM

BALTIC WOMEN RECEIVE FAR LOWER WAGES THAN MALE COUNTERPARTS.
BNS reported that a Finnish Labor Ministry study on the
Baltic States shows that women receive significantly lower
wages than their male counterparts. The report noted that the
discrepancy is largest in Estonia, where women's wages are on
average 37 percent lower than men's. The discrepancy is 30
percent in Latvia and 23 percent in Lithuania. The study also
showed that workers under the age of 30 in Latvia have the
highest average income, while those aged 30-39 in both
Estonia and Lithuania earn the most. MH

CONFUSION CONTINUES OVER TALLINN MAYORAL VOTE. Juri Mois's
election as mayor of Tallinn continues to cause confusion in
the Estonian capital (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 November
1999). President Lennart Meri on 5 November reluctantly
accepted Mois's resignation as interior minister, citing
confusion over the mayoral election, BNS reported. The
opposition in the Tallinn City Council called the vote
illegal, as Mois failed to win an outright majority in the
first round and won only in a second vote. And "Postimees"
reported that parts of the transcript tape have since
disappeared. Tarmo Loodus, who until recently was the mayor
of Viljandi, has been nominated as interior minister. MH

AHTISAARI DISCUSSES ESTONIAN LANGUAGE LAW. Finnish President
Martti Ahtisaari, speaking in Tallinn at the conference
"Estonia and the EU" on 5 November, stressed the importance
for Estonia of a language law harmonized with EU norms, BNS
and "Eesti Paevaleht" reported. Ahtisaari said that "it is
extremely essential to businesses, foreign investors and also
from the point of view of the state's development." Ahtisaari
also praised the rapid pace of development in the Baltics, in
particular, the high educational standards, the strong work
motivation, and the fact that "mutual investment between the
countries of northern Europe is growing." Finland currently
holds the rotating presidency of the EU. MH

NEW LITHUANIAN CABINET FORMED. Prime Minister Andrius
Kubilius on 5 November submitted the list of new government
ministers, and President Valdas Adamkus soon after issued a
decree approving the new cabinet. The only changes are at the
Economics and Finance Ministries, as former Economics
Minister Eugenijus Maldeikis and Finance Minister Jonas
Lionginas both resigned just ahead of Prime Minister Rolandas
Paksas's resignation (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 October
1999). Kubilius nominated current parliamentary Foreign
Affairs Committee chairman Vytautas Dudenas as finance
minister and president of the computer firm Alna, Valentinas
Milaknis, as economics minister. Justice Minister Gintaras
Balciunas chose to remain in the cabinet and suspended his
membership in the Center Union, which is now fully in
opposition, ELTA reported. The government is scheduled to
present its program to the parliament on 8 November. A vote
is take place within a week. MH

POLISH COALITION AGREES ON PRO-FAMILY TAX RELIEF. Freedom
Union (UW) head Leszek Balcerowicz and Solidarity Electoral
Action (AWS) leader Marian Krzaklewski agreed on 5 November
to grant tax relief to the lowest-income families, PAP
reported. The agreement paves the way for submitting a tax
reform bill to the parliament. The aim of that reform is to
reduce and change the current system of three income tax
brackets of 19 percent, 29 percent, and 36 percent to one
composed of two brackets of 18 percent and 28 percent in
2002. While the UW is pushing for reductions in income and
corporate taxes, the AWS stresses the need for tax
preferences for those who have both the lowest income and at
least two children. The opposition Democratic Left Alliance
and Peasant Party have criticized the Balcerowicz-proposed
plan to reduce taxes for people with high incomes. JM

CEI TO TAKE ACTIVE PART IN BALKAN STABILITY PACT. Meeting in
Prague on 5 and 6 November, the premiers of the Central
European Initiative issued a declaration saying the CEI
intends to "actively participate" in the Stability Pact for
Southeastern Europe, CTK and BTA reported. The CEI premiers
expressed concern over continuing cases of ethnic violence
and intolerance in Kosova. They emphasized the high priority
of creating conditions for the free, safe, and voluntary
return of all refugees to their homes. They noted their
"concern" over the situation in the Yugoslav section of River
Danube and the urgent necessity of removing from the river
debris caused by the NATO bombings. And they called for the
"prompt start" of EU accession talks with Bulgaria, Romania,
and Slovakia." The CEI is composed 16 Western and Eastern
European countries. MS.

SUSPECT IN SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S SON ABDUCTION TURNS HIMSELF
IN. Lubos Kosic, one of three suspects in the 1995
abduction of former President Michal Kovac's son,
surrendered to the police on 5 November, SITA reported. The
two other suspects, Martin Liesovsky and Miroslav Segita,
had turned themselves in on 19 October, one day after
Slovak police launched a national search for the three men.
None of the suspects worked for the Slovak Intelligence
Service (SIS), but the operation was led by a former SIS
agent known as "Michal H, " who was detained in June after
former SIS official Jaroslav Svechota gave testimony on the
abduction. MS

SLOVAK OPPOSITION 'MOVEMENT' TO BECOME 'PARTY.' The
Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) intends to
transform itself into a political party at a HZDS congress
in March 2000, CTK and SITA reported. Former Prime Minister
Vladimir Meciar told a meeting of the HZDS leadership in
Piestany on 6 November that the new party will be based "on
four pillars--Christian, national, civic, and social." He
said that as a party, the HZDS will be able to provide
Slovakia's citizens with "a vision" for solving society's
problems. Meciar harshly criticized Mikulas Dzurinda's
cabinet, saying that after one year, its performance has
exceeded "the gloomiest vision painted by the HZDS" after
last year's parliamentary elections. MS

HUNGARIAN COURT REINSTATES DISMISSED HEALTH FUND HEAD. The
Budapest Metropolitan Court on 5 November ruled that the
dismissal of Agnes Cser, former director-general of the
National Health Insurance Fund was unlawful, Hungarian
media report. The court ordered that she be reinstated.
Cser was dismissed in July 1998, shortly after the new
government took office. According to the court ruling, she
was not offered a suitable post after her dismissal,
despite the fact that such a post could have been offered
her at some 150 state organizations. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

KOSOVARS REBURY MASSACRE VICTIMS. Several hundred ethnic
Albanians attended a reburial ceremony on 7 November for 46
people killed by Serbian forces in Stutica in April. The
village, which is in the Drenica region west of Prishtina,
was a stronghold of the former Kosova Liberation Army (UCK).
PM

KOSOVA SERBS MEET WITH RUSSIAN ENVOY. Father Sava, who is the
spokesman for Kosovar Serb leader Archbishop Artemije, told
visiting Russian Ambassador to the UN Sergei Lavrov that
Kosova "is exposed to severe ethnic cleansing [and] to
extreme ethnic discrimination, not only against Serbs but
against all Slav-speaking people." Father Sava added that
ethnic Albanian extremists also discriminate against other
Albanians who do not hold nationalist views, AP reported on 7
November. Momcilo Trajkovic, who heads the Serbian National
Council's Executive Board, told the Russian visitor that KFOR
and the province's UN-backed administration have, in effect,
become instruments of the Albanian nationalists. Lavrov also
met with representatives of the Serbian government. PM

KFOR TO STAY FOR UP TO 10 YEARS? Daan Everts, who is the
OSCE's chief representative in Kosova, told a Dutch
television station in The Hague on 7 November that
peacekeepers will probably be needed in Kosova for up to
another 10 years. He condemned increasing attacks on the
Serbian and Roma minorities in the province. Everts also
slammed what he called attempts to partition Kosova into
northern and southern halves, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service
reported. PM

WHO TRIED TO BLOW UP KOSOVA RAILWAY BRIDGE? Unknown persons
used up to 50 kilograms of explosives to damage a railway
bridge near the divided city of Kosovska Mitrovica on 5
November. It is unclear who planted the charge, nor is it
clear whether they intended to blow up a passenger train en
route from Serbia or simply to damage the bridge, Reuters
reported. UN spokesmen called the blast an act of sabotage.
Spokesmen for local Serbs charged that ethnic Albanian
nationalists set off the explosion. PM

MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT GETS WASHINGTON'S BACKING. Milo
Djukanovic said in Podgorica on 7 November that he is pleased
with the results of his recent trip to the U.S. Djukanovic
stressed that he received pledges of $40 million in financial
support so that he can carry out key reform projects, the
Belgrade daily "Danas" reported. He added that his hosts
endorsed his recent introduction of the German mark as legal
tender alongside the Yugoslav dinar (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5
November 1999). PM

MONTENEGRO TAKES MEASURES FOR ECONOMIC STABILITY. Economics
Minister Vojin Djukanovic said in Podgorica on 5 November
that his country is moving toward a "single currency system,
which means that the [Yugoslav] dinar may be taken out of
circulation," Reuters reported. The following day, the
monetary council decided to limit payments in dinars from
Serbia to Montenegro to prevent the authorities in Belgrade
from "undermining Montenegro's monetary stability" by
flooding the republic with dinars. PM

FIRST MONTENEGRIN SALARIES PAID IN MARKS. An unspecified
number of civil servants received their pay in German marks
on 6 November. The previous day, some 34.5 tons of German
coins and banknotes arrived from Germany by air in the
Croatian port of Dubrovnik. Two trucks with Montenegrin
license plates then took the marks across the border into
Montenegro, AP reported. PM

SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADERS PLEASED WITH U.S. VISIT.
Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic said in Belgrade on 5
November that he and several fellow opposition leaders
"achieved every point" on their agenda during their recent
visit to Washington, AP reported. He noted that he and his
colleagues received pledges of $1 billion in aid for Serbia
once democratic changes take place there. PM

MYSTERY DEATH OF SERBIAN OPPOSITION FIGURE. In Belgrade on 6
November, Djindjic demanded that the authorities "conduct a
detailed investigation" into the recent death of his aide
Branko Vasiljevic. Djindjic noted that the dead man's "only
business was politics," AP reported. Police officials
previously said that they are treating the case as suicide.
Vasiljevic was shot in the back of the head. PM

SERBIAN STUDENTS CALL FOR BOYCOTT OF CLASSES. Vukasin
Petrovic, who heads the Otpor (Resistance) student movement,
said in Belgrade on 7 November that his organization will
hold a large protest on 9 November. He added that Otpor's
goal is to launch a boycott of classes by all university
students with the aim of bringing down the government.
Petrovic said that his group will stage joint protests with
other opposition organizations only if the demonstrations are
endorsed by all opposition parties. In Nis, representatives
of Otpor signed a joint declaration with several opposition
parties. Vuk Draskovic's Serbian Renewal Movement did not
endorse the document. PM

TUDJMAN GIVES GO-AHEAD TO CROATIAN ELECTIONS. Croatian
President Franjo Tudjman issued a document from his Zagreb
hospital bed on 6 November announcing that parliamentary
elections will take place on 22 December. The previous day,
the upper house of the legislature endorsed new electoral
legislation (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 2 November 1999).
The Croatian government, for its part, rejected EU criticism
of the electoral law. PM

SPECULATION CONTINUES OVER TUDJMAN'S HEALTH. Tudjman's
doctors said in a statement on 6 November that the Croatian
president remains under intensive care following recent
emergency surgery for what was officially described as a
perforated large intestine. The doctors previously said that
the president is suffering from complications. Tudjman is
widely believed to have been suffering from cancer for at
least two years. Zagreb's independent "Jutarnji list" wrote
on 8 November that the authorities have not informed the
public very well about Tudjman's condition. As a result,
speculation about his health and its impact on his political
future has been rife, the daily noted (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
5 November 1999). PM

ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT WINS VOTE OF CONFIDENCE. Prime Minister
Ilir Meta's new cabinet won a vote of confidence in the
parliament on 5 November. Meta told legislators that his
approach in governing will be pragmatic and that he will
continue the fight against corruption and crime. Six
legislators from the opposition Democratic Party defied party
leader Sali Berisha's call for a boycott and attended the
session. Berisha demands new elections (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 5 November 1999). PM

ROMANIAN WORKERS RAID OFFICE OF BRASOV PREFECTURE.
Thousands of workers from the state-owned Roman truckmaker
in Brasov raided the building of the local prefecture on 5
November to protest layoffs and unfulfilled promises of
wage increases, an RFE/RL correspondent in Brasov reported.
Some 1,800 employees of the company, which has large debts,
have been made redundant, while another 2,600 are to be
laid off next year. Owing to the company's poor
performance, a June 1999 agreement with the government
providing for a 15 percent wage hike in October and
November has not been implemented. The Brasov mayor has
banned any further demonstrations. Seventeen policemen were
injured in the riots. A team from the Bucharest Prosecutor
General's Office has opened an investigation into the
incident. So far one person has been arrested and 20
detained for questioning. MS

ROMANIAN PREMIER VISITS RFE/RL HEADQUARTERS. Radu Vasile,
who attended the CEI summit in Prague (see above), said on
6 November that the meeting's most important result from a
Romanian perspective was the consensus reached on the need
to remove debris from the River Danube and reopen it for
navigation. Vasile made the comment during a visit to
RFE/RL headquarters in Prague. He said he wanted to "pay
his respects" to RFE/RL for its work in the past as well as
in the present. MS

ROMANIAN MINORITIES MINISTER PROTESTS PLANNED ANTONESCU
STATUE. Peter Eckstein Kovacs said he learned "with
indignation" about the decision of the Cluj city council to
erect a statue commemorating wartime leader and convicted
war criminal Marshal Ion Antonescu (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
1 November 1999). In a facsimile dated 2 November, a copy
of which was obtained by RFE/RL, Eckstein Kovacs said the
decision is "an insult" to the memory of Jews and Roma
killed or persecuted under Antonescu's rule "solely" on
grounds of their ethnicity or nationality. He appealed to
the city council to reconsider its decision, saying that
"otherwise" he will demand that the "responsible state
authorities" annul it for violating several laws. MS

MOLDOVAN GOVERNMENT ABOUT TO BE DISMISSED. A 5 November no
confidence motion backed by a majority of 52 deputies is
likely to trigger the government's dismissal when the
legislature meets again on 9 November, RFE/RL's Chisinau
bureau reported. The motion was supported by the
Communists, the Popular Front, and five independent
deputies who had recently left the For a Democratic and
Prosperous Moldova Bloc. Also on 5 November, the parliament
again rejected the government's bill to privatize Moldova's
two main industries--wine and tobacco. IMF representative
to Chisinau Hassan Al-Atrash said the decision means the
fund will now freeze loans to Moldova. He said the World
Bank and the EU are likely to follow the IMF, meaning that
Moldova will forfeit some $150 million in loans next year.
MS

CEI TO SEND MISSION TO MOLDOVA. The CEI summit in Prague on
6 November approved a proposal by Czech President Vaclav
Havel, whose country holds the organization's rotating
chairmanship, to send a fact-finding mission to Moldova,
CTK reported. The mission is to explore possibilities for a
peaceful solution of the conflict with the separatist
authorities in Tiraspol and for the withdrawal of Russian
troops from the country. On 7 November, separatist leader
Igor Smirnov met with Premier Vladimir Putin in Moscow to
discuss the conflict with Chisinau and the proposed
withdrawal from the Transdniester of the Russian
contingent, Romanian radio reported. MS

BULGARIA, ROMANIA FAIL TO AGREE ON RIVER DANUBE BRIDGE.
Meeting in Borovets on 5 November, Presidents Petar Stoyanov
and Emil Constantinescu again failed to reach agreement over
the location of a second bridge over the River Danube, BTA
reported. Constantinescu said the meeting was "not
confrontational" and that Romania would be willing to
consider an option whereby the country disadvantaged by the
location of the bridge would receive compensation from the
EU. Romanian Premier Radu Vasile, speaking in Bucharest the
same day, said that compensation could come in the form of
"free of charge or token price" transit of Romanian
electricity deliveries to Greece and Turkey via Bulgaria.
Reflecting the irritation of Bulgarians at Romania's
position, the Bulgarian daily "Demokratsiya" on 6 November
ran the headline "Let Us Build a Bridge Over, or a Tunnel
Under, Romania." MS

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                     All rights reserved.
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