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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 225, Part II, 18 November 1999


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 225, Part II, 18 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

* BELARUSIAN LEGISLATURE GIVES INITIAL APPROVAL TO ELECTION
CODE

* SERBIAN OPPOSITIONISTS PREDICT OPPOSITION GOVERNMENT WILL
BE RECOGNIZED

* LOSING CANDIDATE CRIES FOUL AS FINAL RESULTS OF MACEDONIAN
POLL RELEASED

End Note: UKRAINE'S VOTE OF WEARINESS
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUSIAN LEGISLATURE GIVES INITIAL APPROVAL TO ELECTION
CODE. The Chamber of Representatives on 17 November passed in
the first reading an election code that Central Electoral
Commission Chairwoman Lidziya Yarmoshyna described as
securing "the equality of candidates irrespective of their
material situation and official status," Interfax reported.
Belarusian lawmakers, however, rejected many amendments to
the code submitted by the Minsk OSCE mission. The Belarusian
opposition, for its part, submitted no proposals, saying it
is waiting for OSCE-mediated talks with the authorities on
free parliamentary elections in 2000 to begin. Meanwhile,
RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported that the second reading
of the code will likely be postponed until the spring. An
RFE/RL Minsk correspondent said it is rumored that the
authorities want to hold parliamentary elections in the fall
of 2000, after Russia has elected a new president. JM

BELARUSIAN BUSINESSMEN URGED TO MAKE DONATIONS FOR GRAIN
IMPORTS. Three Minsk organizations of entrepreneurs have
called on local business-people to donate money to the city
authorities for grain imports, Belapan reported on 17
November. The organizers of the money-raising campaign note
that this year's poor harvest has caused "difficulties in
supplying Minsk residents with bread products." They point
out that the campaign "will improve the image of
entrepreneurs and uphold the traditions of charity and
patronage." In a widely quoted statement, Belarusian
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka once called private
businessmen and entrepreneurs in Belarus "lousy fleas." JM

UKRAINE'S KUCHMA PROPOSES FREE-TRADE ZONE IN BLACK SEA
REGION. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma addressed a 17
November informal summit of the Black Sea Economic
Cooperation Organization (BSECO), which took place shortly
before the OSCE summit in Istanbul, Interfax reported. Kuchma
suggested that the creation of a free-trade zone in the
region could give a "powerful impetus" to regional
cooperation. He also noted that increased cooperation with
the EU and membership in that organization is an "objective
necessity for most members" of the BSECO. "We should
synchronize to the maximum extent our actions with the EU,
primarily in the economic sphere, and pool our efforts in
order to prevent the appearance of new dividing lines on the
Continent," he said. JM

UKRAINIAN PREMIER PROPOSES PARLIAMENTARY COALITION LINEUP.
Valeriy Pustovoytenko on 17 November said a parliamentary
pro-government majority can be set up with the participation
of the Green Party, the Social Democratic Party (United), the
two factions of the Popular Rukh, the Popular Democratic
Party, the Rebirth of Regions group, the Labor Ukraine group,
the Reform-Congress group, the Independents group, and non-
aligned deputies. Kuchma's inauguration as president for a
second term will take place on 30 November. According to
Ukraine's Constitution, the old cabinet must resign
immediately after the president's inauguration. The president
appoints a new prime minister, who must be approved by at
least 226 parliamentary deputies. The Popular Democratic
Party on 17 November proposed its leader, current Premier
Valeriy Pustovoytenko, as head of a new cabinet. JM

TALLINN TAKES LARGE LOAN FROM HANSAPANK. Tallinn Mayor Juri
Mois on 18 November signed an agreement for a 130 million
kroon ($8.65 million) credit line with Hansapank. Mois
stressed that Tallinn may not need the entire amount and that
the loan may end up being much smaller, BNS reported. The
move is controversial, as the previous city government, which
was controlled by the opposition, was banned by the Finance
Ministry from taking a similar loan from Hansapank. The
composition of the current Tallinn City Government is similar
to that of the ruling national coalition. Juri Mois, before
entering politics, was a founder and chief executive officer
of Hansapank. MH

CORRECTION: "RFE/RL Newsline" on 15 November reported that
for a referendum to be valid, 50 percent of all registered
voters must cast their ballot. In fact, under Latvian law,
turnout must exceed 50 percent of the number of people who
voted at the previous general election. Final turnout at the
13 November referendum on changes to the pension law was
339,879 voters, which is equal to 32.25 percent of the
turnout at the last general election and 25 percent of all
eligible voters.

LITHUANIA PLACES JOB RESTRICTIONS ON 87 FORMER KGB
OPERATIVES. Lithuania has so far placed employment
restrictions on 87 people who had ties to the former KGB,
ELTA reported on 17 November. The lustration law, passed in
1998 and amended in 1999, restricts former KGB operatives
from working in legally defined sensitive jobs in both the
public and private sectors. Dalia Kuodyte, the head of the
Lithuanian Citizens' Genocide and Resistance Center, said
that since the enactment of such restrictions, there have
been 303 investigations. Kuodyte added that of the 20
individuals who appealed the ban, five were successful. The
law is enforced by the State Security Department, which works
in conjunction with the Genocide and Resistance Center. MH

POLISH CENTRAL BANK RAISES INTEREST RATES TO CURB INFLATION.
Poland's National Bank on 17 November increased three key
interest rates in a bid to curb a recent rise in inflation,
PAP reported. National Bank Chairwoman Hanna Gronkiewicz-
Waltz said the bank's intervention rate (on loans of up to 28
days) will increase from 16.5 percent from 14 percent, its
Lombard rate to 20.5 percent from 17 percent, and its
discount rate to 19 percent from 15.5 percent. According to
bank officials quoted by AP, the increase means that this
year's inflation target of 6.6-7.8 percent will be exceeded.
Last year, inflation stood at 8.6 percent. JM

POLAND'S LUSTRATION COURT SAYS SENATOR WAS SECRET SERVICE
AGENT. The Lustration Court on 17 November ruled that Senator
Jerzy Mokrzycki, who represents the Democratic Left Alliance
in Poland's upper house, lied in his lustration statement,
adding that "he was a deliberate and secret collaborator of
the [Communist-era] security bodies," PAP reported. Mokrzycki
is the first politician in Poland to be found guilty of a so-
called lustration lie. "This is a politically motivated
verdict," Mokrzycki commented, adding that he will appeal.
The court ruled the same day that Jacek Hofman, a Warsaw
lawyer, was also a collaborator of the communist-era secret
services and lied in his lustration statement. JM

CZECH, SLOVAK REPUBLICS MARK ANNIVERSARY. Thousands of people
marked the 10th anniversary of the fall of communism in
Czechoslovakia by attending various ceremonies or gatherings
on the main squares of Prague, Bratislava, and smaller cities
in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Czech and Slovak media
reported. In Prague, a group of former student leaders who
demonstrated against the regime in 1989 led a march of
several hundred demonstrators from Wenceslas Square to the
Prague Castle. They read out a statement calling on the
leaders of the main Czech political parties to resign, saying
the country's politicians are no longer receptive to the
needs of the people. In Slovakia, a group of former political
prisoners and politicians attended a ceremony in one of
Bratislava's cemeteries to pay tribute to the victims of
communism. VG

MILOSEVIC RECEIVES DELEGATION FROM MECIAR'S PARTY. A
delegation of deputies from former Slovak Prime Minister
Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS)
met in Belgrade with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic,
CTK reported on 17 November. HZDS spokesman Marian Kardos
said the meeting was not planned and that the delegation was
in Serbia at the invitation of the local ethnic Slovak
community. He said the HZDS deputies asked Milosevic to
"increase support" for the Slovak minority in the Vojvodina
province of Serbia. However, Tanjug reported that the meeting
was aimed at developing "relations" between Meciar and
Milosevic's parties. Meciar recently said he is thinking of
inviting Milosevic to Slovakia, CTK reported. VG

OECD REPORT PREDICTS GROWTH IN SLOVAKIA. The Organization for
Economic Cooperation and Development predicts that the Slovak
economy will grow in the next two years if the country sticks
to structural reforms, TASR reported on 17 November.
According to a report released the same day, the OECD
projects GDP growth of 2 percent in both 1999 and 2000 and 3
percent in 2001. It also predicts inflation will fall from 13
percent in 1999 to 7 percent in 2001. The organization noted
that Slovakia will benefit from export markets in Western
Europe. In other news, the Slovak government on 17 November
released some 42 million crowns (some $1 million) in 1999
university funds that had been frozen. The government also
said that all schools would be exempt from spending freezes
for the 1999-2000 academic year. The news came as elementary
and secondary schools teachers staged a one-hour strike on 17
November to protest education sector budget cuts. VG

STATUS OF ETHNIC HUNGARIANS TO BE SETTLED IN TWO YEARS. Tibor
Szabo, the chairman of the Office for Hungarians Beyond the
Borders, said on 17 November that the cabinet intends to
resolve the legal status of ethnic Hungarians abroad within
two years, Hungarian media reported. Prime Minister Viktor
Orban said the planned bills would grant ethnic Hungarians a
status of "more than tourist but less than citizen." He said
an amendment to the electoral law that would give voting
rights to Hungarians living abroad has no chance of being
passed as it would require the support of two-thirds of
deputies in the parliament. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SERBIAN OPPOSITIONISTS PREDICT OPPOSITION GOVERNMENT WILL BE
RECOGNIZED. SZP coordinator Vladan Batic said on 17 November
that the group's "transition government," led by former World
Bank official Dragoslav Avramovic, will soon become the de
facto representatives of Yugoslavia in international affairs,
AP reported. Batic said he made that statement based on
"assurances we have received from the U.S. and the EU, the
transitional government will be gaining official
verification." Batic said the current government under
Milosevic is "incompetent and unable to perform its duties of
representing the country." In other news, Dragan Veselinov,
the leader of the Vojvodina Coalition, said in the Banja Luka
weekly "Nezavisne novine" that Montenegro "has to leave"
Yugoslavia and that Vojvodina "will go its own way." He said
Belgrade was "pushing Vojvodina into separatism." PB

SERBIAN OPPOSITION GROUP CUTTING BACK ON RALLIES. The
opposition movement Alliance of Change (SZP) said on 17
November that it will end its daily street protests and
organize a weekly Saturday rally, Reuters reported. The SZP-
led rallies calling for the resignation of Yugoslav President
Slobodan Milosevic took place for 59 straight days but had
recently been attracting only a few hundred participants. At
the rallies' peak, tens of thousands of people joined in the
demonstrations. Vladan Batic, the coordinator of the SZP,
said the first Saturday rally will take place on 20 November.
Batic said rallies will continue to be held in other Serbian
cities, however. PB

YUGOSLAV ARMY RESERVISTS CHARGED WITH WAR CRIMES, ESPIONAGE.
Five Yugoslav Army reservists have been charged with crimes
against civilians in Kosova and spying for a NATO country,
Beta news agency reported, citing the daily "Blic." The daily
said the five, who are all Serbs, were arrested on 11
November and brought before a Belgrade judge three days
later. The Serbian State Security Service has reportedly
filed charges against the accused. The daily said the main
defendant is a captain who commanded an army unit in Kosova
during the air campaign against Yugoslavia. PB

LOSING CANDIDATE CRIES FOUL AS FINAL RESULTS OF MACEDONIAN
POLL RELEASED. Macedonia's electoral commission announced on
17 November that Boris Trajkovski won 52.85 percent of the
vote in the 14 November election, compared with 45.94 percent
for his rival, Tito Petkovski, Reuters reported. Turnout was
69.9 percent. The commission has to rule on some 249 official
complaints of irregularities and fraud by 18 November. If
Petkovski's Socialist Democratic Alliance (SDSM) disagrees
with the commission's verdict, it can appeal to the Supreme
Court. The SDSM has asked for the results to be annulled,
alleging that Trajkovski's party and one of the main ethnic
Albanian parties committed fraud by tampering with the vote
count. International observers have said there were some
irregularities but have stopped short of proclaiming they
were widespread or changed the result of the election. Mark
Almond of the British Helsinki Committee for Human Rights,
told the daily "Utrinksi Vesnik" that election rules "were
badly violated" in Tetovo and Gostivar. PB

THOUSANDS MOURN MASS GRAVE VICTIMS IN BOSNIA. Several
thousand people attended an emotional funeral in the
northeastern Bosnian town of Kalesija on 17 November for 264
Muslims exhumed from the largest mass grave yet uncovered in
Bosnia-Herzegovina, Reuters reported. The remains were
discovered in October 1998 at a village near Glumina, close
to the Yugoslav border. Forensic experts say most of the
victims were male civilians from Zvornik and had been shot by
Serbian forces early in the 1992-1995 war. Nearly one-third
of the bodies have not been identified. PB

BOSNIAN MUSLIM LEADER MISSES OSCE SUMMIT. The office of the
presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina said on 17 November that
Alija Izetbegovic, the Muslim member of the presidency, will
not attend the OSCE summit in Istanbul, SRNA reported. The
office said Izetbegovic will attend to "work-related
commitments" and that his failure to attend is not related to
his visit to the Walter Reed military hospital in Washington
late last week. Haris Silajdzic, the co-chairman of Bosnia's
Council of Ministers, will be present, along with Croat Ante
Jelavic and Serb Zivko Radisic of the presidency. In other
news, Jelavic said a decision to ban Erotel TV by the
International Media Commission (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17
November 1999) is "unacceptable" and "its timing misjudged."
PB

OSCE HEAD CALLS ON KOSOVAR ALBANIANS TO END VIOLENCE. Knut
Vollebaek, the chairman of the OSCE, urged ethnic Albanians
on 18 November to end the escalation of violence in the
Serbian province, Reuters reported. in the opening address to
the OSCE summit in Istanbul, Vollebaek said the goal of a
stable multiethnic Kosova is not close to being realized. UN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in his opening address that
building a safe, pluralistic Kosova has been "an appallingly
difficult task." Vollebaek added that he hopes Yugoslavia
will begin democratic reforms and will end its self-imposed
international isolation. PB

DONORS EARMARK MORE THAN $1 BILLION FOR KOSOVA. International
donors on 17 November pledged to give more than $1 billion in
aid for Kosova over the next year, AP reported. The money was
donated at a conference in Brussels sponsored by the EU and
the World Bank. A bank official said the total was "in excess
of the expectations that we had." The pledges include $970
million for reconstruction and $47 million for projects to
support free media and local elections, and $18 million in
humanitarian aid. PB

UN TAKES STEP TOWARD CENTRAL BANK FOR KOSOVA. The UN
administration in Kosova took steps on 17 November toward
setting up a banking system for the province by establishing
the Banking and Payments Authority of Kosova (BPK), Reuters
reported. The institution will act as a banker to the UN
administration and will supervise the banking sector in
Kosova. Nick Brentnall, the managing director of the bank,
said the BPK will be a "banking system in which the people of
Kosovo can place their trust." The bank is expected to be
operational by the end of the year. PB

CROATIAN PREMIER VISITS TUDJMAN. Zlatko Matesa said that he
visited ailing President Franjo Tudjman in hospital on 17
November, Reuters reported. Matesa said doctors told him
Tudjman's condition is stable. The premier said he saw
Tudjman "and wished him a speedy recovery." Matesa did not
say if Tudjman responded. He gave no further details of his
visit. PB

ALBANIAN SAYS CRIMINALS FLED TO KOSOVA. Albanian police said
on 17 November that some 40 alleged criminals from Albania
are hiding in Kosova, dpa reported. A police spokesman said
police have identified "all persons who have committed crimes
in Albania and have fled to Kosova." He added that most are
wanted for serious crimes, including murder and bank robbery.
Some are alleged to have taken part in violent attacks
against government and public buildings during street riots
in spring 1997 and September 1998. Albanian newspapers
reported the same day that Jaho Salihi, a policeman suspected
of involvement in the murder of opposition deputy Azem
Hajdari recently fled to Kosova. PB

ROMANIAN PREMIER AGREES TO REASSESS SALE OF PETROTUB. Prime
Minister Radu Vasile announced on 17 November that he will
appoint a committee to reassess the sale of a 70 percent
stake in the Petrotub steel pipe manufacturer to a Gibraltar-
based company, Mediafax reported. Petrotub's employees have
been protesting the sale of the company to Tubman
International Ltd. for the past week (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
15 November 1999). VG

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT SAYS COUNTRY HEADING IN RIGHT DIRECTION.
Emil Constantinescu on 17 November said the current wave of
discontent in the country has nothing to do with the
political and economic direction in which Romania is heading
but rather with the speed of its evolution, Romanian radio
reported. A series of protests by workers, students, and
other groups has taken place across the country in recent
weeks. Constantinescu said the population's discontent is
"correct and real" since prices have been rising faster than
incomes. He said his greatest shortcoming in his three years
as president was his failure to communicate adequately with
the Romanian people. He called for the development of a
culture of fighting against corruption. VG

MOST ROMANIANS BELIEVE 'REVOLUTION HAS SUCCEEDED.' A total of
62 percent of Romanians say the revolution of 1989 has
succeeded so far, while 27 percent believe it has failed,
according to a poll cited by Mediafax on 17 November.
However, respondents to the poll, which was conducted by the
Center for Urban and Regional Sociology, were divided on how
to describe what happened in 1989 in Romania. While 41
percent describe it as a "revolution," 36 percent say it was
a coup and 19 percent say they don't know. VG

BALKAN CRIME FIGHTING CENTER OPENS IN BUCHAREST. The
Southeast European Cooperation Initiative (SECI) formally
opened its headquarters in Bucharest on 16 November, Reuters
reported. The center will coordinate information from its 10
member states to facilitate the regional fight against
organized crime. The U.S.-sponsored SECI comprises Albania,
Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary,
Macedonia, Moldova, Turkey, and Romania. SECI President
Richard Schifter said the U.S. will contribute $400,000 to
equip the new center. VG

LEADER OF MOLDOVAN GREENS EXPELLED FROM DEMOCRATIC
CONVENTION. The Democratic Convention of Moldova (DCM)
parliamentary faction expelled Green Alliance leader Ion
Dediu from its ranks on 16 November for "inadequate
behavior," BASA-Press reported. Dediu said he was expelled
for supporting the Communists and the Christian Democratic
Popular Front in a vote to establish an environment ministry.
In other news, union leader Serafim Turcanu said on 17
November that some 850 teachers in 20 schools across Moldova
have gone on strike to demand wage arrears dating back one
year. VG

STOYANOV: BULGARIA'S TOP PRIORITY IS EU ACCESSION TALKS.
Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov on 17 November said his
country's top priority is currently securing an invitation at
the EU's December summit in Helsinki to start accession
talks, BTA reported. He said he will focus on this issue at
the 18-19 November OSCE summit in Istanbul. Both Stoyanov and
Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mikhailova, who returned from a
visit to Brussels on 16 November, said the two conditions
recently stipulated by the EU for membership talks to begin
will not necessarily prevent the country from being invited
to accession talks next month. The two conditions are the
closure of four reactors at the Kozloduy nuclear power plant
and further progress in economic reforms. VG

PRIVATIZATION OF INDUSTRY IN BULGARIA TO END IN MID-2000. The
parliamentary Economic Committee on 17 November approved the
government's privatization program for the year 2000, BTA
reported. The director of the Privatization Agency, Zakhari
Zhelyazkov, said privatization in industry will be completed
in mid-2000. A total of 673 privatization projects are
expected to be wrapped up next year. VG

END NOTE

UKRAINE'S VOTE OF WEARINESS

by Jan Maksymiuk

	Leonid Kuchma won a seemingly easy victory in the 14
November presidential runoff, gaining more than 56 percent of
the vote, while his communist rival, Petro Symonenko,
received some 38 percent backing. Kuchma commented the
following day that nobody in Ukraine expected the incumbent
to win by such a wide margin. And he suggested that his re-
election means Ukrainians have chosen a "democratic way to
build their country based on a market economy." Few observers
of the Ukrainian political scene are likely to agree in full
with Kuchma's interpretation of the ballot.
	One reason for objecting to such an interpretation is
that during his five years in office, Kuchma has shown
himself to be neither a truly democratic head of state nor a
true advocate of market economy. Both at home and abroad, he
has been described as a half-hearted democrat and a half-
hearted reformer.
	Another reason is the large number of violations of
voting and campaigning procedures that were pointed out not
only by the incumbent's rivals in the race or his political
foes but also by international observers. The executive's
almost total control over the electronic media and its
involvement in the incumbent's re-election campaign appear to
have been the most instrumental in determining the final
election outcome.
	Despite these violations, no international body will
question Kuchma's re-election. The OSCE--whose opinion on
elections in post-communist Europe seems to play a leading
role in determining their legitimacy--reported that 31
October first round of voting was fair. With regard to the
second round, the OSCE reported many irregularities but did
not suggest that they had a decisive affect on the outcome.
"Serious violations"--including the executive's stifling the
media and public officials' campaigning for Kuchma--were
noted during the election campaign, but, again, the European
election watchdog indicated no immediate link between them
and the final result.
	Still, the scent of foul play remains in the air. "The
runoff result is not [the Communists'] defeat but the defeat
of democracy in Ukraine," Symonenko commented. That opinion
is clearly exaggerated, but it nevertheless underscores the
fact that Kuchma did not give the Communists in Ukraine a
fair chance.
	Instead, the president's election team modeled his duel
with Symonenko on Russia's 1996 runoff between Boris Yeltsin
and Gennadii Zyuganov, scaring the electorate with the
prospect of a Communist comeback and "red revenge." Between
the first and second rounds, Ukraine's television fed voters
with documentaries and films about Soviet-era repression and
terror. The issue of building the country "based on a market
economy" was present, if at all, only in the deepest
background of the media campaign.
	Under these circumstances, Ukrainians voted on 14
November for what appeared the more secure option--namely,
for the country's fragile socio-economic status quo under
Kuchma--and against any radical changes in the country's
course that were linked with Symonenko (or with his media
image).
	In 1991, Leonid Kravchuk's installment as the head of
state took place on a nationwide wave of enthusiasm for an
independent Ukraine. The 1994 election of Leonid Kuchma was
an equally emotional event, marking a considerable ebb in
national enthusiasm. Independent Ukraine's third presidential
election--though bustling and enthusiastically fought by the
presidential hopefuls--was a vote of weariness on the part of
the electorate. Rather than enthusiasm for Kuchma's reformist
effort, voters displayed skepticism about the ability of
politicians to improve the economic situation by systemic
change.
	By the same token, Symonenko's not unimpressive
electoral showing should not be interpreted as a sign that 10
million politically active Ukrainians want the return of
communism. By casting their votes for Symonenko, many
Ukrainians were in fact protesting their country's current
economic plight, which is widely associated with Ukraine's
failed attempts (under both Kravchuk and Kuchma) to follow a
"Western path."
	As expected, the presidential elections showed once
again that Ukraine remains politically split into a Western,
"nationalist" part and an Eastern, "socialist" one. This
time, Kuchma received overwhelming support in western
Ukraine. The dividing lines between east and west in Ukraine
are somewhat blurred by Kuchma's fairly strong showing in
such eastern regions as Donetsk, Dnipropetrovsk, Sumy, or
Kharkiv (where he beat Symonenko), but the overall "two-
nations-in-one" pattern has not changed. It seems that only a
definite improvement in Ukraine's economy can heal the
political, social, and--as Samuel Huntington put it--
"civilizational" cleft between these two parts of one
country.
	However, even if the full message of the Ukrainian
presidential ballot is not easily identifiable, there is
nonetheless strong ground for optimism, at least among
Democrats. The re-election of Kuchma--a proponent of
Ukraine's rapprochement with the West--is a good omen for all
those in the post-Soviet area (notably in Russia and Belarus)
who oppose the Communist-sponsored idea of restoring some
kind of USSR in the form of a "Slavic union." Without
Ukraine, such a union makes no sense, either politically or
economically. And it appears that Kuchma is bent on
continuing to strongly oppose that restoration effort.

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