Some things have to be believed to be seen. - Ralph Hodgson
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 226, Part II, 19 November 1999


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 226, Part II, 19 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

* BELARUSIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST ARRESTED

* U.S., EU, SERBIAN OPPOSITION TO PLAN FOR FUTURE

* OPPOSITION HEADING FOR VICTORY IN CROATIAN ELECTIONS?

End Note: FORMER LEADERS ARGUE OVER MEANING OF 1989
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUSIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST ARRESTED. Police on 18
November arrested Ales Byalatski, leader of the human rights
organization Spring-96, Belapan reported. Byalatski was
reportedly asked to come to a Minsk district police
department to pick up computers that had been confiscated
from his organization in early October. He was arrested,
however, and told he will stand trial the next day as one of
the organizers of the 17 October opposition "freedom march."
JM

BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION TO STAGE PROTEST ON 24 NOVEMBER. The
Minsk city authorities have refused permission for the
opposition to stage a "chain of freedom" along Minsk's
central avenue on 24 November. They said the action may be
held only on a square on the outskirts of the city. The
Coordination Council of Democratic Forces--which unites
several opposition parties and NGOs--decided on 18 November
to drop the idea of a "chain of freedom" and observe instead
an "hour of sorrow and solidarity" on 24 November. It is
expected that some 2,000 people holding candles will stand
along Minsk's central avenue to commemorate victims of the
Soviet regime and express solidarity with prisoners of
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's regime. The
council adopted an appeal to the Minsk police "not to
organize provocations against participants in the peaceful
action." JM

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT GIVES INITIAL APPROVAL TO ZERO-DEFICIT
BUDGET. The parliament on 18 November approved in the first
reading a zero-deficit draft budget for 2000 and sent it to
the government for fine-tuning, Interfax reported. The
government originally proposed a budget with a 0.4 percent
surplus. Yuliya Tymoshenko, head of the parliamentary Budget
Committee, commented that the approval of the budget was a
"colossal victory for the parliament." Finance Minister Ihor
Mityukov said the government and the parliament continue to
disagree over budget revenues and expenditure targets. He
added that the budget cannot be submitted for a second
reading before 10 December. JM

UKRAINIAN REGIONAL LEADERS WANT PUSTOVOYTENKO AS PREMIER.
Kharkiv Oblast Governor Oleh Dyomin told Interfax on 18
November that oblast administration heads, the Crimean prime
minister, and heads of the Kyiv and Sevastopol city
administrations have asked President Leonid Kuchma to re-
appoint Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko as head of a new
cabinet. "We have no right to experiment, since
[Pustovoytenko's] government has achieved positive results in
its work, in particular, industrial growth," Dyomin said.
Meanwhile, press speculation is rife as to who will be
appointed prime minister. Apart from Pustovoytenko,
newspapers mention deputy parliamentary speaker Viktor
Medvedchuk, Deputy Premier Anatol Kinakh, Deputy Premier
Serhiy Tyhypko, State Tax Administration head Mykola Azarov,
and Security Service chief Leonid Derkach as the most likely
candidates for the post. JM

ESTONIAN PRIME MINISTER SLAMS RUSSIA OVER CHECHNYA. In a
speech to the OSCE Istanbul summit on 18 November, Mart Laar
slammed Russia's military campaign in Chechnya. Laar said
that the "excessive use of force will cause an endless cycle
of violence" and that "the international community knows of
other ways to fight alleged terrorism than the one employed
at present in Chechnya." Laar stressed that "no one may
demonize a whole nation. That is racism, pure and simple." He
warned that if the OSCE cannot stop the Russian military
action, "the future of this organization will come under
question." The same day, the Estonian parliament passed by a
vote of 57 to one a resolution on the crisis in Chechnya. The
statement condemned terrorism in every way and expressed
concern and dismay over the violence against civilians in
Chechnya, ETA added. MH

SMOKING KILLS 2,000 A YEAR IN ESTONIA. An average of 2,000
people die every year from diseases caused by smoking. The
Social Ministry's public health department head Andres Lipand
told the press on 18 November that in addition, some 3,000
smokers fall seriously ill each year due to smoking-related
illnesses. The specialist said that there are approximately
355,000 smokers in Estonia (out of a population of about 1.5
million) and that 70 percent wants to quit. MH

LATVIA CELEBRATES INDEPENDENCE DAY. Latvia celebrated the
81st anniversary of its independence on 18 November. In
speaking to the country's military, which celebrated its 80th
anniversary several days earlier, President Vaira Vike-
Freiberga said "independent Latvia would never have been able
to last if its fearless sons had not been ready to sacrifice
themselves to win freedom for their native country," BNS
reported. In a special session of parliament, speaker Janis
Straume said "freedom means responsibility, and it is often
difficult for a person to adhere to this." He urged Latvians
to "take responsibility and develop the nation together,
making it better, more trustworthy, cleaner, and more
European," LETA reported. MH

LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT SUGGESTS CFE ENTRY. Lithuanian President
Valdas Adamkus, speaking at the OSCE summit in Istanbul on 18
November, said Lithuania might accede to the Conventional
Forces in Europe Treaty. Adamkus, however, stressed it must
be in the country's interest to take that step, ELTA
reported. He noted that the "processes of European and
transatlantic integration [is becoming an] indispensable
element in building comprehensive security, stability and,
confidence for the whole OSCE area." With regard to Chechnya,
Adamkus stressed that the "protracted armed conflict and
deteriorating humanitarian situation" is a cause for "deep
concern." And on the subject of Belarus, Adamkus said, "It is
of utmost importance to assist in developing a genuine
dialogue between the Belarus authorities and the opposition
leading to free and democratic elections." MH

POLISH PARLIAMENT PASSES CONTROVERSIAL TAX REFORM BILL. By a
vote of 231 to 182, the lower house passed a tax reform bill
that cuts income tax rates and eliminates some tax exemptions
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 November 1999). In order to take
effect on 1 January 2000, the bill must be approved by the
upper house and signed by the president by the end of this
month. The opposition Democratic Left Alliance obstructed the
passage of the bill, saying it gives priority to high income
earners and widens the gap between the poor and the rich. By
a vote of 235 to 179 with three abstentions, the parliament
also decided to gradually lower the current corporate tax
rate from 34 percent to 22 percent by 2004. JM

CZECH STATE ATTORNEY CONSIDERS PROSECUTING NAZI WAR CRIMINAL.
The Czech Republic's Supreme State Attorney on 18 November
sent new evidence implicating the former commander of the
Nazi concentration camp in Terezin, Anton Malloth, in war
crimes, CTK reported. State Attorney Jaroslav Fenyk said he
has sent the materials to Germany, where Malloth currently
resides. Earlier this year, German prosecutors said there is
not enough evidence to bring Malloth to court. Fenyk said
Malloth may also be prosecuted in the Czech Republic. In
other news, senior Social Democrat Jaroslav Foldyna said he
intends to file a lawsuit against an American of Czech
descent for sawing in half a wooden board with a painting of
the Czech flag on it in Usti nad Labem, CTK reported. The man
was protesting against the construction of a wall on Maticni
Street that divides local ethnic Czechs from Romany
inhabitants. VG

RUSSIA, YUGOSLAVIA PROTEST CZECH 'INTERFERENCE.' The Russian
Foreign Ministry on 18 November called in the acting Czech
ambassador to Russia to protest the visit of Chechen Foreign
Minister Ilyas Akhmadov to Prague, CTK reported. The Russian
Foreign Ministry described Akhmadov's meetings with Czech
officials as "gross interference in Russia's internal
affairs" (see Part 1). The same day, Yugoslav Ambassador to
the Czech Republic Djoko Stojicic described President Vaclav
Havel's decision to invite Serbian opposition leaders and the
Montenegrin president to the OSCE summit in Istanbul as "rude
interference in the internal affairs" of Yugoslavia. VG

SLOVAK COALITION PARTNERS DEBATE OVER MINISTERS. The
Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK), a member of the governing
coalition, has called for the resignation of Deputy Prime
Minister for Legislation Lubomir Fogas and Agriculture
Minister Pavol Kocos, "Narodna Obroda" reported on 19
November. Both ministers are members of the Party of the
Democratic Left (SDL). SDL chairman Jozef Migas rejected the
SMK's calls. CTK reported that the SMK did not support
Fogas's bill on minority languages and that it was upset at
Koncos's refusal to fulfill an agreement according to which
an SMK member is to be appointed to head the State Land Fund.
Cabinet discussions on the performance of the coalition
government during its first year in office are to continue
next week. VG

SLOVAK POLITICIANS BLAST MECIAR'S PARTY FOR MILOSEVIC VISIT.
Various Slovak politicians on 18 November slammed a decision
by a delegation from Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a
Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) to meet with Yugoslav President
Slobodan Milosevic in Belgrade, TASR-SLOVAKIA reported.
Deputy Prime Minister Pavol Hamzik said the visit "reveals
the nature of the HZDS's foreign policy priorities." Deputy
Prime Minister Jan Budaj described the visit as a
"provocation" and said it damaged Slovakia's reputation ahead
of the December EU summit in Helsinki. Democratic Party
chairman Jan Langos said the meeting was an expression of
political extremism on the part of the HZDS, but he added
that it was not surprising. VG

ORBAN URGES MINORITY ACTION AT OSCE SUMMIT. Hungarian Prime
Minister Viktor Orban on 18 November urged OSCE member
countries at the Istanbul summit to grant local government
rights and autonomy to national minorities. He said a lesson
of the Kosova crisis is that genocide cannot be averted
without a system of defending minorities. Orban urged the
OSCE to send observers to Vojvodina and Muslim-inhabited
regions of Serbia to monitor the situation of minorities. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

U.S., EU, SERBIAN OPPOSITION TO PLAN FOR FUTURE. U.S.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said in Istanbul on 18
November that representatives of her country, the EU, and the
Serbian opposition will soon meet to begin making concrete
plans aimed at promoting democratic change in Serbia. She
stressed that "Yugoslavia, too, will soon begin the journey
[to democracy] under new leadership." In Belgrade, Ivica
Dacic, who is a spokesman for Yugoslav President Slobodan
Milosevic's Socialist Party, said that the opposition leaders
are foreign puppets who "went to do the bidding of the
murderers of our children while the graves of all [those]
killed in [NATO's] aggression are still fresh," AP reported.
Dacic called on the OSCE summit to "condemn NATO's illegal
aggression against Yugoslavia." PM

MONTENEGRIAN PRESIDENT DJUKANOVIC ASKS OSCE FOR HELP. Milo
Djukanovic told the OSCE summit in Istanbul on 18 November
that moves toward democratization in his country "are in a
critical phase," RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. He
appealed for unspecified "effective help." PM

BRITISH EXPERTS: SERBS HID WAR CRIMES EVIDENCE. Catherine
Nettleton, who coordinates British investigations into war
crimes, said that Serbian forces tried to hide evidence of
atrocities by burning the bodies of their victims, dropping
them into rivers, or burying them in cemeteries, London's
"The Guardian" reported on 19 November. She added that the
real number of victims of the Serbian forces may never be
known. British experts remain convinced that their original
estimate of 10,000 victims is accurate, the daily added. PM

MACEDONIAN ELECTION COMMISSION TO RECONVENE. The commission
ruling on complaints of irregularities in the recent
presidential vote suspended its work on 18 November. Chairman
Josif Lukovski said the commission was unable to do its work
with at least 25,000 angry protesters outside its building,
who claimed that defeated Social Democratic candidate Tito
Petkovski was cheated of victory. The commission will
reconvene on 19 November to examine charges by the Social
Democrats of extensive fraud, particularly in western
Macedonia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 November 1999).
Elsewhere in Skopje, French Ambassador to Macedonia Jacques
Huntzinger said that the "election was not rigged," Reuters
reported. Western officials have stressed in recent days that
the election had some irregularities but was not basically
flawed. Social Democratic leader Branko Crvenkovski
nonetheless said in Skopje on 18 November that "we shall
fight to topple this government...by democratic means...and
call new elections," AP added. PM

NATO, MACEDONIA AGREE TO END BORDER BOTTLENECK. Macedonian
Interior Minister Pavle Trajanov and NATO's Hans Jorg Eiff
agreed on 18 November in Skopje to ease traffic congestion at
the Blace border crossing between Macedonia and Kosova. An
additional lane will soon be added to the existing highway in
order to speed up humanitarian aid shipments. The measure is
an emergency one designed to relieve pressure until an $18
million project to completely reconstruct the crossing can be
carried out. Macedonian officials and NATO representatives
have accused one another of being responsible for the
bottleneck. PM

BREAKTHROUGH IN MACEDONIAN ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT CASE? A
Czech police spokesman said in Prague on 17 November that
police have "detained" a 35-year-old Macedonian citizen whom
the spokesman described as an "internationally wanted drug
boss," CTK reported. The spokesman added that Macedonian
police are "interested" in the detainee in conjunction with
the October 1996 attempt on the life of President Kiro
Gligorov. Macedonia has not requested the extradition of the
man, whom the spokesman identified only by the initials A.N.
Investigations into the assassination attempt have not
yielded any results (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 November
1999). PM

CROATIA TO AVERT CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS? Parliamentary speaker
Vlatko Pavletic said on 19 November that he will meet later
in the day with representatives of the parties represented in
the legislature. An unnamed parliamentary official told
Reuters: "They will be discussing the possibility of holding
another parliament session. I assume they will be seeking a
consensus to pass a law whereby Pavletic would act as
temporary president." The legislature's mandate runs out on
27 November. Key issues requiring immediate presidential
attention include issuing a call for parliamentary elections
on 22 December and approving the budget for 2000. President
Franjo Tudjman has been hospitalized since 1 November, and
most observers do not expect him to recover. The constitution
is widely regarded to have been written for Tudjman and
provides for sweeping powers for the president. PM

BUDISA CALLS FOR SWEEPING REVISION OF CROATIAN CONSTITUTION.
Opposition leader Drazen Budisa told the Rijeka daily "Novi
List" of 19 November that time has come to change the
constitution and reduce the powers of the president. He added
that continuing the present system would mean "turning the
government into a circus." Leaders of all six main opposition
parties agree that the constitution must be changed quickly
if a political crisis is to be averted, the daily added. PM

OPPOSITION HEADING FOR VICTORY IN CROATIAN ELECTIONS? The
independent Zagreb daily "Jutarnji list" reported on 19
November that a new poll by the U.S.-based International
Republican Institute suggests that the main opposition
coalition will win in eight out of 10 electoral districts.
The coalition of the Social Democrats and Budisa's Croatian
Social Liberal Party will take 35 percent of the overall
vote, compared with 24 percent for the governing Croatian
Democratic Community (HDZ), according to the poll. A
coalition of four small opposition parties is in third place.
Recent polls published in the same daily suggest that the top
vote-getters in any future race to replace Tudjman would be
the Social Democrats' Ivica Racan, followed by the moderate
HDZ leader Mate Granic, who is currently foreign minister. PM

POLL: MOST ROMANIANS SAY THEY WERE BETTER OFF UNDER
COMMUNISM. A poll released by the Open Society Fund on 18
November found that 61 percent of Romanians say they were
better off under former communist ruler Nicolae Ceausescu,
Reuters reported. The poll of 2,019 Romanians showed 84
percent of respondents saying they lack confidence in the
current government. More than 80 percent of respondents said
they had lost confidence in the parliament and in political
parties. The poll also found that 77 percent of Romanians
favor a market economy. The results come after an earlier
poll conducted by the Center for Urban and Regional Sociology
found that most Romanians believe the switch from communism
in 1989 has been a "success" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18
November 1999). VG

ROMANIAN WORKERS DEMONSTRATE. Thousands of Romanian workers
marched through several major cities on 18 November to
protest falling living standards, Reuters reported.
Demonstrations took place in Constanta, Timisoara, Ploiesti,
and Turnu Severin. Meanwhile, on 17 November, four major
Romanian trade unions agreed to coordinate their protests
against the government in the coming days, Mediafax reported.
VG

ROMANIAN-LANGUAGE TESTS FOR MOLDOVAN STUDENTS. Moldovan
Education Ministry officials on 18 November announced that
beginning next year, all university applicants will have to
pass tests of their knowledge of the Romanian language and
literature, BASA-Press reported. VG

MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT DELAYS VOTE ON GOVERNMENT. Prime
Minister-designate Valeriu Bobutac on 18 November asked the
parliament to postpone a confidence vote in the cabinet until
next week, BASA-Press reported. Communist deputy Victor
Stepaniuc said the vote was put off because of "some small
misunderstandings." In other news, the Moldovan prosecutor-
general asked the parliament to lift deputy speaker Iurie
Rosca's immunity in connection with a September car accident.
Also, the Democratic Convention of Moldova expelled
parliamentary deputy Ala Mandacanu for supporting the new
government structure proposed by the Communists and the
Christian Democratic Popular Front. VG

OSCE CONSIDERS FUNDING RUSSIAN WITHDRAWAL FROM MOLDOVA. OSCE
mission head to Moldova William Hill said the organization is
prepared to fund the withdrawal of Russian forces from
Moldova, but he added that the cost must first be determined,
Reuters reported. A number of OSCE countries have proposed
that the organization carry out an inventory of Russian arms
and equipment in Moldova's breakaway region of Transdniester
VG

USAID EXTENDS GRANT TO BULGARIA. The United States Agency for
International Development has extended a $25 million grant to
Bulgaria to deal with the effects of the NATO bombing
campaign in Yugoslavia earlier this year as well as to ease
the impact of economic reforms, AP reported on 18 November.
In other news, the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party
expressed reservations about preparations for U.S. President
Bill Clinton's upcoming visit to Bulgaria. The party on 18
November protested plans to ban street traffic in parts of
Sofia during the visit and complained that Clinton does not
plan to address the parliament. VG

END NOTE

FORMER LEADERS ARGUE OVER MEANING OF 1989

By Jeremy Bransten

	Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, former British
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, former U.S. President
George Bush, former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, former
Polish President and Solidarity union leader Lech Walesa, and
the wife of the late French President Francois Mitterrand
were all awarded high state honors in Prague on 17 November.
The awards were conferred by former dissident and current
Czech President Vaclav Havel.
	The visit of the former leaders was planned as a largely
ceremonial occasion. But at a panel discussion that preceded
the award ceremony, participants sharply disagreed over the
significance of the anti-communist revolutions and their
aftermath. The talk laid bare the ideological rifts that
still exist among some former adversaries and that could
threaten to bring more divisions between East and West next
century.
	Thatcher called the fall of communism a triumph of
freedom and capitalism, especially as espoused by Britain and
the U.S. She took a large measure of credit for the collapse
of communism and said the two countries provided a shining
example for the East to follow. Thatcher said the best thing
the U.S. and Britain could do would be to continue exporting
their values and way of life abroad. "I think our task today
is not to ponder on what happened in the last 10 years but to
see how we extend liberty to those countries that do not know
it," she commented.
	Thatcher's views earned a gentle rebuke from the
moderator, Oxford history professor Timothy Garton Ash, who
noted that other European democracies had also perhaps
contributed to inspiring the East's quest for freedom.
	But it was Gorbachev who took on Thatcher directly,
accusing her of communist-style rhetoric in the service of a
narrow ideology. He said that if anything, the past 10 years
have proven that new ideas are needed--something approaching
a synthesis between capitalism and communism, to solve
problems in an increasingly global world economy: "I think
that just as an inferiority complex is a bad thing, a
victor's complex is no less harmful. I think we should say
that no single ideology at the end of the 20th century can
answer the challenges of the 21st century and the global
problems that stand before us--neither liberal, nor
communist, nor conservative."
	Gorbachev also reminded Thatcher that it was the
Communists who saw everything in black and white, and he
questioned whether she had not stumbled down the same path.
	Former union leader and ex-President Walesa chastised
the West for congratulating itself over the end of communism
without providing sufficient aid and assistance to those
countries now trying to transform their economies. He drew a
parallel with the end of World War II and said Western Europe
has benefited from U.S. assistance through the generosity of
the Marshall Plan.
	But Walesa noted that 10 years after the fall of
communism in Eastern Europe, no comprehensive assistance has
been forthcoming from the U.S. and a now prosperous Western
Europe. He warned that in many countries across the East,
democracy is now endangered by the failure of economic
reform, crime, corruption, and a nostalgia among some people
for the old regime.
	Czech President Havel called the year of revolutions a
magic moment. But he said that it was not, as some once
predicted, the end of history. The revolutions of Eastern
Europe, he said, marked a victory for human dignity and
universal human values, not any particular ideology.
	"If I posed myself the question: what triumphed over
what or who triumphed over whom 10 years ago, then I wouldn't
answer that it was the victory of one ideology over another,
of one state over another state, or of one superpower over
another," he said. "But I'd say certain values triumphed.
Freedom triumphed over oppression. Respect for human dignity
triumphed over humiliation. Respect for human rights
triumphed over disdain for human rights. But it was one small
battle in an unending chain of battles, because the war
continues."
	Kohl said the revolutions of 1989 were clearly
interconnected, and he praised the bravery of those Central
and Eastern Europeans who stood up against communism and
overthrew it. But Kohl noted that both the former Soviet and
U.S. leaders deserve recognition for their role as catalysts
to the process. "No one in Europe, and this is my considered
opinion, should think there would have been success had it
not been that the two great powers set out on a rational
road."
	Bush, like Thatcher, noted the leadership of Britain and
the United States in ending the Cold War. But he also spoke
of Washington's initially cautious approach to the momentous
events of 1989: "The U.S. was concerned that if we provoke,
needlessly provoke, then President Gorbachev, who knows how
the forces to his right, his military, might have reacted.
And so we tried to be very careful about not dancing on the
[Berlin] Wall, for example."
	Bush paid homage to his host, Havel, and to Walesa. He
called both men heroes of the democratic revolutions of 1989,
whose example inspired the U.S. people. He argued that what
"got through" to the U.S. people were the "symbols" of the
new-won freedom, in this case, Vaclav Havel and Lech Walesa.

The author is an RFE/RL correspondent based in Prague.
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               Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc.
                     All rights reserved.
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