This communicating of a man's self to his friend works two contrary effects; for it redoubleth joy, and cutteth griefs in half. - Francis Bacon
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 224, Part II, 17 November 1999


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 224, Part II, 17 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

* LUKASHENKA SAYS BELARUS TO REMAIN INDEPENDENT IN UNION WITH
RUSSIA

* STATE MEDIA ATTACKS DRASKOVIC FOR GOING TO ISTANBUL

* EU PLEDGES $500 MILLION FOR KOSOVA RECONSTRUCTION

End Note: THE VELVET REVOLUTION: A CHRONOLOGY
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

LUKASHENKA SAYS BELARUS TO REMAIN INDEPENDENT IN UNION WITH
RUSSIA. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 16
November said Belarus's sovereignty and independence will
remain "inflexible and unshakable" in the planned union state
with Russia, Belarusian Television reported. "There will be
no question of our joining Russia as six [separate] oblasts
or any other state as the whole republic," Lukashenka said.
He noted that Belarus will accept only "equal conditions" and
a "civilized method" of integration with Russia, adding that
there is no alternative to the process of integration. JM

BELARUS-RUSSIA UNION TREATY AMENDED, BUT NOT CHANGED.
Belarusian presidential staff chief Mikhail Myasnikovich told
Interfax on 16 November that Belarus and Russia have found an
"optimal variant" of the union state treaty that is to be
signed in Moscow on 26 November. However, Myasnikovich noted
that the treaty calls for "setting up a union state" and does
not envisage the integration of Belarus and Russia into a
single state. Myasnikovich added that during the public
debate of the treaty draft, more than 1,300 proposals were
made on how to improve the draft; as a result, some 500
amendments were introduced into the document. Meanwhile,
Lukashenka's aide Mikhail Sazonau said 99 percent of all
amendments are "purely technical" and do not change the
nature of the functions or powers of the union bodies as
stated in the draft. JM

UKRAINE NOT TO JOIN BELARUS-RUSSIA UNION. Ukrainian Foreign
Ministry spokesman Ihor Hrushko said on 16 November that
Ukraine is interested in deepening cooperation with
neighboring countries but does not intend to join the Union
of Belarus and Russia, Interfax reported. Commenting on the
planned signing of a treaty establishing the union state of
Belarus and Russia, Hrushko noted that "the creation of any
Slavic unions would amount to giving preference to some
ethnic groups at the expense of others." JM

UKRAINIAN SPEAKER PREDICTS CENTER-LEFT PARLIAMENTARY
MAJORITY. Supreme Council Chairman Oleksandr Tkachenko said
on 16 November that the creation of a center-left
parliamentary majority is more likely than that of a center-
right one, Interfax reported. Such a majority, he argued,
could be formed by deputies of the Communist Party, the
Socialist Party, the Peasant Party, and the Progressive
Socialist Party. Tkachenko added that this alignment could
also be joined by the Hromada party. Tkachenko noted that the
rightist parliamentary parties are unable to form a majority
that "could positively influence the [country's] economic
development." According to Tkachenko's deputy, Viktor
Medvedchuk of the Social Democratic Party (United),
parliamentary deputies may form a majority "in the next few
days," spurred on by the prospect of forming a coalition
cabinet. President Leonid Kuchma has threatened to seek the
dissolution of the parliament unless that body creates a pro-
government majority. JM

ESTONIAN STUDENTS PROTEST CHECHEN WAR. Several dozen Estonian
students gathered outside the Russian Embassy in Tallinn on
16 November to protest the Russian military campaign in
Chechnya, "Postimees" reported. Students held placards with
statements such as "hands off Chechnya" and "Putin--War
Criminal." At the same time, the Estonian parliament failed
to pass a resolution calling for a peaceful solution to the
conflict. Estonian Prime Minister Mart Laar said the OSCE
should intervene or "raise the question of what sort of
future this organization has," BNS added. Earlier, Estonian
President Lennart Meri announced he is boycotting the OSCE
summit in Istanbul partly because of the situation in
Chechnya (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 November 1999). MH

TEACHERS STRIKE IN LATVIA, MINISTER RESIGNS. Teachers
throughout the country staged a one-day strike on 16
November, and Education Minister Silva Golde resigned from
her post, saying that "the possibilities of further dialogue
seem to be exhausted," LETA reported. More than 50,000
teachers participated in the action to protest lower-than-
expected pay rises. Negotiations with the government failed
to avert the strike. Head of the Latvian Education and
Research Employees Trade Union Astrida Harbacevica noted the
cabinet's good intentions but said it was "naive for the
government to hope to avert a strike with [such] non-concrete
proposals," BNS reported. The union leader suggested a
follow-up strike could occur within a few weeks. MH

SWEDEN TO GRANT 'BILLION' IN AID TO BALTS. Swedish Prime
Minister Goran Persson, meeting with Lithuanian Prime
Minister Andrius Kubilius on 16 November in Stockholm,
promised 1 billion kroner ($119.13 million) in assistance to
the Baltic States next year, BNS reported. Explaining his
foreign-policy initiative of making 2000 the "year of the
Baltic states," Persson suggested that the assistance will
help the three countries in their EU integration program as
well as boost the development of business in those countries.
Kubilius also met with Foreign Minister Anna Lindh and
Swedish parliamentary speaker Anders Bjorck, who reconfirmed
Sweden's desire to see Lithuania start EU membership talks.
MH

LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES RESOLUTION ON CHECHNYA.
Lawmakers on 16 November voted 38 to zero to pass a
resolution calling for both sides in the Chechen conflict to
seek a peaceful solution and urging the OSCE to evaluate the
situation in Chechnya at its Istanbul summit later this week,
ELTA reported. The resolution also called on the Russian
authorities to condemn the action of the Russian military
against civilians. And it expressed concern over the action
by the Russian military against legally elected officials in
Chechnya. MH

RUSSIA FEARS POLAND'S EU BID MAY HARM TRADE. Russian Trade
Minister Mikhail Fradkov, speaking in Warsaw on 16 November,
expressed fear that Russian products may be excluded from the
Polish market once Poland introduces EU quality standards and
anti-dumping measures, Reuters reported. At the same time,
Fradkov admitted that Poland's EU membership may bring some
benefits for Russia because Polish import duties will have to
be lowered. Polish Economic Minister Janusz Steinhoff told
journalists the same day that Polish exports to Russia
plummeted by 70 percent this year, compared with 1998. At the
same time, imports from Russia, mainly oil and gas, were down
only 7 percent. Steinhoff said payment problems experienced
by Russian trade partners were the main reason for the slump
in exports to Russia. JM

POLISH HISTORIAN TRIED FOR DISSEMINATING 'AUSCHWITZ LIE.'
Dariusz Ratajczak, a 37-year-old historian from Opole, went
on trial on 16 November on charges of disseminating "the
Auschwitz lie," PAP reported. Earlier this year, Ratajczak
published 230 copies of a book titled "Dangerous Topics," in
which he presented the opinions of historians who deny that
Zyklon B gas was used to kill Jews in Nazi death camps.
Ratajczak said he does not consider himself guilty, noting
that he had merely summarized the opinions of "history
revisionists" and that he does not agree with those opinions.
"My only objective was to present a phenomenon named
Holocaust revisionism without an author's commentary," he
said. JM

CZECH SOCIAL DEMOCRATS REJECT ZEMAN'S PROPOSAL.
Parliamentary deputies from the Social Democratic Party
(CSSD) have rejected Prime Minister and CSSD leader Milos
Zeman's proposal that the parliament decide whether Health
Minister Ivan David should be dismissed, Czech media
reported on 16 November. The party's parliamentary faction
chairman, Stanislav Gross, said it should be up to Zeman to
decide whether to dismiss David. Gross said the prime
minister should make a "clear statement" on the situation
in the Health Ministry. Several health care organizations
and politicians have called for David's resignation or
dismissal amid allegations of financial malpractice within
his ministry. VG

HAVEL HOSTS FORMER WORLD LEADERS. Czech President Vaclav
Havel on 16 November met with several former world leaders
who are in Prague to mark the 10th anniversary of the
student demonstration that led to the collapse of the
Czechoslovak communist regime, Czech media reported. Havel
will award the former leaders, including Mikhail Gorbachev,
George Bush, Margaret Thatcher, Helmut Kohl, and Lech
Walesa, with the Order of the White Lion on 17 November.
Meanwhile, a poll released to mark the anniversary found
that 55 percent of Czechs say they approve of the fall of
communism in 1989, while 32 percent said they regret the
demise of the former regime (see also "End Note"). VG

SLOVAK MINISTER SETS UP COMMUNIST CRIMES OFFICE. Justice
Minister Jan Carnogursky on 16 November officially
established a new department within his ministry for the
documentation of communist crimes, TASR reported. The
department will be charged with gathering archival material
and conducting interviews on all forms of persecution and
violence committed by the former regime. It will be headed
by Marian Gula, who ran the Czech Office for the
Investigation and Documentation of Communist Crimes. Gula
will be granted dual Czech-Slovak citizenship. Unlike the
Czech office, the Slovak ministerial department will not
have any police powers. However, the department head will
be able to press charges for any crimes he discovers as a
Slovak citizen. VG

WORLD BANK GRANTS SLOVAKIA MONEY FOR ROMA. The World Bank
has approved a $275,000 grant to the Slovak government to
finance projects that deal with the problems of the
country's Romany minority, TASR reported on 16 November.
Ross Pavis, the head of the bank's grants division, said he
thinks the money should be spent on Romany education and
employment. Pavis was on a fact-finding visit to eastern
Slovakia. VG

SLOVAKIA, VATICAN SIGN DRAFT AGREEMENT. Slovak Foreign
Minister Eduard Kukan and Papal Nuncio to Slovakia Luigi
Dossena on 16 November signed a draft Fundamental Treaty
between Slovakia and the Holy See, TASR reported. Kukan
said the draft will be subject to further bilateral or
internal negotiations. VG

HUNGARY, ROMANIA HOLD JOINT PEACEKEEPING EXERCISE. Some 100
Romanian and Hungarian officers on 15 November began a joint
military peacekeeping exercise in the Romanian city of Arad,
Hungarian media reported on 16 November. It is the first time
the two countries have formed a joint battalion. The official
language of the exercise is English. Both Romanian and
Hungarian military officials stressed the importance of
enhancing mutual trust and cooperation between the two
armies. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

STATE MEDIA ATTACKS DRASKOVIC FOR GOING TO ISTANBUL... Pro-
government media criticized Serbian opposition leader Vuk
Draskovic on 16 November for his decision to attend the OSCE
summit in Istanbul on 18-19 November, Reuters reported. The
"Politika Express" daily said "the everlasting political
loser...has once again missed the right side." Media coverage
of Draskovic has been relatively favorable recently because
of his refusal to participate in anti-government rallies led
by the Alliance for Change (SZP). Draskovic, SZP leader Zoran
Djindjic, Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic, and possibly
Dragoslav Aramovic are to attend the OSCE summit, some of
them as part of the Czech President Vaclav Havel's
delegation. Draskovic spokesman Ivan Kovacevic said Draskovic
will go to Istanbul to "fight for an end to sanctions and to
get the country out of its crisis." PB

...AS YUGOSLAV GOVERNMENT PROTESTS EXCLUSION, CLINTON VISIT
TO KOSOVA. The Yugoslav government on 16 November protested
the fact that it will not be represented at the OSCE summit
in Istanbul, AP reported. Deputy Foreign Minister Miroslav
Milosevic said the government has prepared a document for the
summit participants detailing "NATO aggression" against
Yugoslavia, which he said will promote collective security in
Europe. Belgrade was suspended from the OSCE in 1992
following international sanctions over its involvement in the
Croatian and Bosnian wars. The daily "Politika Express" also
criticized the planned visit next week of U.S. President Bill
Clinton to Kosova. The newspaper said the visit violates
Yugoslav sovereignty and encourages ethnic Albanian
extremists. PB

UN SAYS HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF MAINLY KOSOVAR SERB REFUGEES
IN YUGOSLAVIA. The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)
said on 16 November that up to 240,000 non-Albanian refugees
have fled the Serbian province of Kosova, Reuters reported. A
UNHCR spokeswoman said the chances are "very slim" that these
people will return to Kosova because of the problems non-
Albanians face in the province. Most of the refugees are
staying with family and friends, while 10,000 are being
housed in refugee centers, the agency said. The UNHCR is to
provide aid packages and financial aid for 50,000 refugees in
the coming weeks. Additionally, there are still some 500,000
mostly Serbian refugees in Yugoslavia who fled earlier
conflicts in Bosnia and Croatia. PB

EU PLEDGES $500 MILLION FOR KOSOVA RECONSTRUCTION. The EU
said on 17 November that it will give more than $500 million
to a fund to support the long-term reconstruction of Kosova,
Reuters reported. Chris Patten, the EU's foreign relations
commissioner, made the pledge at the European Parliament in
Strasbourg. The World Bank and the European Commission
estimate that some $2.3 billion will be needed in the next
five years. The World Bank is seeking $1.1 billion for 2000,
half of which is to be provided by the EU. PB

U.S. WELCOMES ELECTION OF TRAJKOVSKI. The U.S. State
Department said on 16 November that it looks forward to a
"positive, constructive" relationship with newly elected
Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported. The State Department said in a
statement that the U.S. "worked closely" with Trajkovski
throughout the Kosova crisis. It also congratulated the
Macedonian people for "undertaking a peaceful, democratic
change in leadership." The elections have been marred by
complaints of fraud (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 November
1999). PB

TUDJMAN'S DOCTORS SAY PRESIDENT ON THE MEND. The medical team
of Croatian President Franjo Tudjman said on 16 November that
"improvement...has been maintained" over the last 48 hours,
Croatian Radio reported. A statement signed by a hospital
doctor said that Tudjman's "postoperative period is
proceeding well." Tudjman has been in hospital for 16 days.
Ljerka Mintas-Hodak, the deputy chairwoman of Tudjman's
ruling Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ), said the chief of
the presidential staff, Ivica Kostovic, has briefed HDZ
officials on the president's condition. She said the HDZ has
not discussed what will happen if Tudjman is unable to
formally call elections because there is "no need for this
since the president is recovering." PB

CROATIAN INTERIOR MINISTRY OFFICIALS MEET BOSNIAN
COUNTERPARTS. A delegation of Bosnian Interior Ministry
officials arrived in Zagreb on 16 November for talks on
bilateral relations and cooperation in fighting terrorism and
drug trafficking, Hina reported. Croatian Interior Minister
Ivan Penic said the two groups are to work on three annexes
within an agreement on special relations. In other news, the
president of the soccer club Croatia Zagreb announced that a
vote will be held among club members on whether to rename the
team Dinamo Zagreb. President Tudjman changed the name from
Dinamo after the breakup of the former Yugoslavia because it
sounded "too communist." Most fans resented the name change
and some have boycotted games until the name "Dinamo" is
restored. PB

GERMAN DEFENSE MINISTER SAYS TROOPS STILL NEEDED IN BOSNIA.
Rudolf Scharping said in Sarajevo on 16 November that the
international military presence in Bosnia-Herzegovina is
still necessary, dpa reported. Scharping, on a one-day visit
to Bosnia, said he does not support the setting of a
timetable for a gradual withdrawal of the Stabilization Force
(SFOR) troops. As part of a scheduled reduction in the size
of SFOR, Scharping said some 300 German soldiers will leave
Bosnia over the next few months, as a result of which 2,000
German soldiers will remain there. SFOR troops will be
reduced from the current 31,000 to some 20,000 by April.
Scharping also met with the defense ministers of the two
autonomous entities in Bosnia and said he hopes the country's
separate armed forces will become more multiethnic. PB

MEDIA COMMISSION ORDERS BOSNIAN-CROAT TV STATION TO CLOSE.
The Independent Media Commission (IMC) for Bosnia-Herzegovina
said on 16 November that it has ordered the private Erotel TV
to stop broadcasting, AP reported. The IMC is an
international body that regulates broadcast media in Bosnia
and is authorized to grant and revoke licenses. Erotel TV is
based in the Croat-run part of Mostar and serves the Croat
community in the Muslim-Croat Federation. It has been
operating without a license for two years and retransmits
programs from state-run Croatian Television. PB

ALBANIA HIT BY POWER SHORTAGE. The government has reduced
taxes on gas imports in an effort to overcome a power
shortage in the country, ATA reported on 16 November. A
severe drought has lowered the water levels of rivers and led
to reduced output at hydroelectric power plants, which
produce some 95 percent of the country's electricity.
Blackouts have been reported in the north, and government
officials are trying to persuade industries to run at night
to ensure an even distribution of power. The government
proposed reducing customs taxes on heating gas from 20
percent to 10 percent and approved two draft bills aimed at
liberalizing gas imports. PB

ROMANIAN MINISTERS CONSIDER SUING OPPOSITION LEADER.
Romanian Prime Minister Radu Vasile on 15 November told
members of his cabinet that they are free to launch law
suits against Party of Social Democracy in Romania leader
Ion Iliescu if they so desire, Mediafax reported on 16
November. Government spokeswoman Adriana Saftoiu said
Vasile's decision was a response to a statement by Iliescu
last week in which the opposition leader said "there is no
minister or parliamentary deputy belonging to the ruling
parties who is not involved in business and who did not get
spectacularly rich during all this period." Various top
members of the governing coalition have called on Iliescu
to produce proof of his allegation, and senators are
considering lifting his immunity from prosecution. Iliescu
responded that his statement has been misinterpreted,
saying he had not accused all legislators of being involved
in business. He said he had simply wanted to know how many
current government deputies are not involved in business.
VG

ROMANIAN STUDENTS SAY THEIR PROTESTS ARE NOT POLITICAL.
Students' League president Daniel Onisor on 16 November
rejected politicians' assertions that the student protests
could be politically influenced by extremists, Mediafax
reported. Democratic Party Senator Nicolae Alexandru recently
said the student street protests risk coming under the sway
of "rightist extremists or communists." Several student
leaders have rejected Alexandru's claim, saying their
movement is peaceful and not political. Meanwhile, one person
was injured on 16 November after about 1,500 students clashed
with police in the northeastern city of Iasi, Mediafax
reported. VG

MOLDOVAN COURT RULES ON REFERENDUM. The Moldovan
Constitutional Court on 16 November rejected a
parliamentary decision that three-fifths of the population
must participate in a referendum for the vote to be
considered valid, BASA-Press reported. The court also
approved a draft constitutional proposal by 38
parliamentary deputies on the transformation of Moldova
into a parliamentary democracy. The proposal by the
deputies would restrict the president's powers. VG

RUSSIANS START WITHDRAWAL FROM MOLDOVA. The Russian army on
16 November dispatched the first trainload of military
hardware from Moldova's breakaway Transdniester region. The
previous day, it destroyed 13 tanks, armored vehicles, and
self-propelled guns in the presence of OSCE delegates.
However, the Moldovan government charged that the Russian
military is not conducting a "real withdrawal" but is
simply destroying obsolete equipment. VG

BULGARIAN PREMIER SAYS MUNICIPAL FINANCES 'CRITICAL.' Ivan
Kostov said on 16 November that the financial situation of
municipalities is in a "critical" state, BTA reported.
Kostov made the statement after meeting in Sofia with
representatives of the National Association of
Municipalities. He said municipalities lack heating fuel
for schools, hospitals, and social institutions. Supplying
local governments with heating fuel will cost some 30
million leva ($15.9 million). Finance Minister Murayev
Radev said the government will supply municipalities with
heating fuel by the end of the year, rather than give them
the money to purchase it. Kostov noted that municipal
deficits will total 221 million leva this year, which he
said is the result of a lack of financial discipline in
local government. He added that mayors should make staff
cuts to save money. VG

BULGARIAN TRADE UNION TO LAUNCH POLITICAL FORMATION. The
Podkrepa Labor Confederation announced on 16 November that
it plans to put together a new political formation to
compete in the next parliamentary elections, according to a
Bulgarian Radio report cited by the BBC. Confederation
President Konstantin Trenchev said the new formation will
be made up of various "democratic organizations" and will
offer an "alternative model" of democratic governing in the
country. VG

END NOTE

THE VELVET REVOLUTION: A CHRONOLOGY

 by Jolyon Naegele

	Eight months after Alexander Dubcek took office as
Communist Party first secretary and launched the "Prague
Spring" reforms, the five armies of the Soviet-led Warsaw
Pact occupied Czechoslovakia. That move strangled reform not
only in Czechoslovakia but throughout the Soviet bloc for
years to come.
	The post-1968 ferment in Czechoslovakia's socialist
neighbors started with the brutally suppressed Gdansk riots
in Poland in 1970 that toppled communist leader Wladyslaw
Gomulka. Unrest resumed in Poland in summer 1976 with
worker's protests in Radom against price rises. The
Communists once again responded with force.
	The Vatican's election of a Pole, Karol Wojtyla, as pope
in 1978 did much to encourage Poles as well as devout members
of neighboring nations, including the Slovaks. The papal
visit to Poland the following year inspired the birth of the
Solidarity free trade union movement in summer 1980. All
these events also encouraged Czechoslovakia's modest, largely
intellectual opposition.
	But while Poles rarely took the communist system in
which they lived completely seriously, Czechs and Slovaks
did. The legacy of 1968 and the Munich pact of 1939 as well
as the awareness that they were a small country hardly gave
them cause for self-confidence.
	On 13 December 1981, General Wojciech Jaruzelski
declared martial law in Poland rather than risk a Soviet
invasion. That came as a relief to Czechoslovakia's communist
rulers and a disappointment to those who hoped that the
flames of Solidarity would spread south..
	The Radio Moscow announcement of the death of Soviet
Communist Party leader Leonid Brezhnev came amid economic,
political, and social stagnation throughout the Soviet bloc.
The brief rule of Brezhnev's two ailing successors, Yuri
Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko, ensured that even the word
"reform" continued to be defined by the Czechoslovak
communist party as a "temporary, tactical step backward--
favored by right-wing revisionists."
	The 1985 election of the dynamic Mikhail Gorbachev and
the gradual introduction of his policies of perestroika and
glasnost yet again raised hopes across Czechoslovakia that
change might finally be on the horizon.
	At least as important for the Soviet satellites was
Gorbachev's oft-repeated warning to his fellow Communist
party chiefs at closed door Warsaw Pact summits that the
Soviet Union would no longer run their affairs. Few of the
aging leaders took Gorbachev's words seriously. And some,
particularly Czechoslovakia's leadership, assumed Gorbachev
and his policies were a temporary deviation from the true
Marxist-Leninist line.
	Gorbachev's visit to Czechoslovakia in April 1987 only
reinforced this view as he failed to urge reform or a re-
evaluation of 1968. Perestroika and glasnost remained merely
empty phrases in Czechoslovakia. Prague authorities began
curtailing the distribution of the Soviet press in a bid to
prevent the dissemination of openly critical articles.
Gorbachev's speeches were censored in the Czechoslovak
Communist Party daily "Rude pravo."
	The round-table talks in Poland in early 1989 between
Solidarity and the communist authorities and the Hungarian
parliament's move to re-evaluate its 1956 revolution and
transform itself into a parliamentary democracy contributed
to a sense of change in Czechoslovakia. Elements of a civil
society began to develop in response to the jailing of
dissident playwright Vaclav Havel and others.
	The mass demonstrations in East Germany and the exodus
of East Germans through Czechoslovakia to the West in
September and October 1989 served as an example for
Czechoslovaks. They saw how massive, peaceful civil
disobedience could force a Soviet bloc satellite to rein in
its forces.
	But Czechs were also witness to clashes between their
own police and East German asylum seekers trying to reach the
West German Embassy in Prague. East German police had ceased
beating demonstrators by mid October.
	On 28 October, the 71st anniversary of the founding of
Czechoslovakia, the streets of central Prague once again
echoed with chanting and whistling as police battled peaceful
protesters.
	 The crowd numbered some 20,000--hardly enough to
persuade a government to resign. In marked contrast to
neighboring East Germany, the Prague police resorted to
clubs, water cannon and armored personnel carriers to
disperse the gathering.
	On 9 November, East German authorities opened the Berlin
Wall. Eight days later, on 17 November, a record 50,000
Czechoslovaks turned out for a student demonstration in
Prague which, though officially sanctioned, turned violent as
police surrounded and beat demonstrators. Secret police
disinformation that a student had been killed backfired: in
the following days, the number of protesters soared into the
hundreds of thousands. Opposition activists and intellectuals
founded the Civic Forum two days after what came to be known
as the "massacre."
	The secret police, riot police, Interior Ministry troops
and the army all waited in vain for orders to act. But the
orders never came. As with the Berlin Wall, Moscow monitored
the situation in Prague closely but refrained from any
interference. Within a week, Jakes and the rest of
Czechoslovak Politburo resigned. But equally incompetent
bureaucrats were appointed as replacements.
	Some 700,000 people demonstrated on 25-26 November to
express their outrage and demand an end to communist rule.
The crowd whistled and booed Prime Minister Ladislav Adamec,
who soon resigned.
	On 3 December, the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact
issued separate statements condemning their invasion of
Czechoslovakia in 1968. And on 10 December, after he swore in
a new government of opposition activists and moderate
Communists under Communist Prime Minister Marian Calfa, Husak
finally stepped down as president.
	By the end of the month, Dubcek was speaker of the
federal parliament, and the most articulate and outspoken
critic of the communist regime, Vaclav Havel, was president
of Czechoslovakia.

The author is an 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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