|It is the chiefest point of happiness that a man is willing to be what he is. - Erasmus|
No. 30, 15 February 1993
RUSSIA YELTSIN TOLD TO IMPROVE LEGAL QUALITY OF HIS DECREES. According to Russian TV newscasts, on 12 February the Constitutional Court ruled against Yeltsin's decree of 28-October 1992 banning the organizational committee of the hard-line opposition National Salvation Front (NSF). The Court declared all the provisions of the October 1992 decree null and void and removed all obstacles to the NSF's official registration; it did not, however, declare the decree unconstitutional, because Yeltsin had annulled most of its provisions in another decree issued on 13 January. The Constitutional Court added to the ruling on the NSF a statement sharply criticizing "the legal quality of presidential decrees" and urging their improvement. The ruling was passed by a majority of 11 judges to two. -Julia Wishnevsky RUSSIAN COMMUNISTS HOLD CONGRESS. Russian communists opened a two-day congress in a Moscow suburb on 13 February with the aim of restoring the Russian Communist Party banned by Yeltsin in 1991, ITAR-TASS reported. The idea of reviving the party stemmed from the Constitutional Court ruling of late 1992 proclaiming illegal Yeltsin's ban on local Communist Party cells. Some of those standing accused of participation in the failed August 1991 coup, including Anatolii Lukyanov, Gennadii Yanaev, and Vladimir Kryuchkov, were among the congress' 650 delegates. On 14 February, the congress adopted the party rules which impose a ban on factions and on dual party membership. Russian agencies reported that the rules also include a provision saying that the recreated Russian Communist Party is heir to the property of the CPSU and RCP. The congress ended on 14 February with a statement calling for the use of all possible political means to oppose the "anti-popular regime" of President Yeltsin. Vera Tolz REFERENDUM ISSUES. All major political forces, including parliamentary speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov, Chairman of the Constitutional Court Valerii Zorkin, the majority of leaders of the republics of the Russian Federation, and the Civic Union have spoken out against holding a referendum in April, Ostankino TV reported on 14 February. Only the Democratic Russia Movement still supports the idea. President Boris Yeltsin is reportedly prepared to abandon the idea of the referendum, which he himself had initiated, but is now seeking a way to save political face. The pro-democratic Coalition for Reform has apparently suggested to Yeltsin that if he were to make some political concessions to the centrist forces, they would help him to rid himself of his major rival, Khasbulatov. Alexander Rahr EBRD FINDS FAULT WITH RUBLE ZONE. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has advised the countries of the former Soviet Union against attempting to maintain the ruble zone, according to various Western news agencies on 12 February. The EBRD said in its first annual report that reestablishing trade ties in the region was essential for economic reform; however, trying to preserve a common currency zone was counterproductive. Due to lack of coordination in money and credit creation, there was an "enormous pressure to restrict exports and capital flows, leading to near anarchy in trading arrangements," the EBRD noted. The bank suggested that prospects for trade and controlling inflation in the region would be improved, were each country to introduce its own currency. Erik Whitlock CIS EXPERTS DISCUSS STATUTE OF COORDINATION-CONSULTATIVE COMMITTEE. A meeting of experts and CIS representatives to discuss the draft statutes of a CIS Coordination-Consultative Committee ended in Minsk on 12 February, ITAR-TASS reported. The main purpose of the committee is to help restore the broken economic ties between CIS states. Originally proposed by Kazakhstan's president Nursultan Nazarbaev, it had been watered down to a consultative working commission in deference to Ukraine's objections to coordinating structures, but was revived at the recent Minsk summit. The experts did not agree on the draft statutes, and consultations are to continue. Ann Sheehy FOREIGN MINISTER ADDRESSES SUPREME SOVIET. Defending policies pursued over the past year by the Russian Foreign Ministry, Andrei Kozyrev told parliamentarians on 12-February that Russia had been recognized as the successor to the Soviet Union and had won worldwide acceptance as a European and Asian great power. According to reports by ITAR-TASS and Russian TV, Kozyrev also emphasized the importance of protecting the interests of Russians living throughout the former Soviet Union and said that Moscow had successfully balanced its policy orientation between East and West. Kozyrev said that there had been more impediments to easing tensions in the East, but pointed to what he described as "breakthroughs" in Russia's relations with China, South Korea, and India. He also praised conclusion of the START-2 agreement and defended the Vance-Owen plan for regulating the conflict in Yugoslavia. Stephen Foye DEFENDS ARMS POLICY. Kozyrev and the ministry were reportedly criticized by a number of deputies, one of whom charged that observance by Moscow of UN sanctions had cost Russia some $17 billion in arms sales. Kozyrev disputed the $17 billion figure, and pointed instead to the fact that many of Moscow's former client states were insolvent and incapable of paying their old debts to the USSR or of financing new weapons purchases. He noted the difficulty of breaking into new arms markets, and argued that arms sales to Iraq would undermine Moscow's efforts to peddle arms to moderate Arab states. He said that the Foreign Ministry had requested help from Western countries in Moscow's efforts to enter legitimate arms markets. Stephen Foye FOREIGN MINISTRY SUPPORTS ARMS REDUCTION PROPOSALS. ITAR-TASS reported on 12 February that Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky has voiced support for a new arms reduction proposal made by two parliamentary committees on 11-February. The Committees on Foreign Affairs and Defense and Security had called for strategic arms reductions that go beyond the START-2 Treaty. Yastrzhembsky tempered his support, however, when he noted that it might be more expedient to deal with further reductions after the START-2 Treaty has been ratified. Stephen Foye LAW ON MILITARY SERVICE ADOPTED; DRAFT PROBLEMS CITED. The Russian parliament on 11-February adopted a law "On military obligations and military service." According to ITAR-TASS, the primary point of contention during debate on the law was a clause defining the draft obligations of students at technical and vocational schools. Deputy Defense Minister Valerii Mironov apparently argued against extending deferments to this group, saying that it would cost the army 108,000 draftees (presumably per year). He said that the manpower situation in the army was critical, citing the fact that only 55.8% of the available draft contingent was actually inducted in the autumn of 1992. He pointed to the wide range of deferments available as an important cause of the manpower shortfalls, and said that the recruitment of contract servicemen could not make up the difference. Although the details of the law were not clear, parliament apparently rejected Mironov's pleas. -Stephen Foye CHERNOMYRDIN ASSOCIATE BECOMES DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER. Aleksandr Zaveryukha, an associate of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, has been appointed Russian deputy prime minister in charge of agriculture, Russian TV reported on 10 February. The 53-year-old Zaveryukha was formerly head of the agro-industrial complex of the Orenburg region - the region where Chernomyrdin started his career. Speaking after his appointment, Zaveryukha said that he favors various forms of land ownership and will advocate stronger government support for the troubled agricultural sector. Alexander Rahr and Wendy Slater TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA NEW ARMENIAN PRIME MINISTER NAMED. On February 12 Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan named the 35-year-old economist Hrant Bagratyan as Armenia's new prime minister, ITAR-TASS reported. An advocate of radical economic reform, Bagratyan served as first deputy prime minister and chairman of the State Economic Committee in Armenia's first post-communist government. From September-November 1991 he held the post of acting prime minister; in November 1991, he was appointed deputy prime minister and minister for the economy. Liz Fuller AZERBAIJAN ACCUSES RUSSIAN ARMY OF PARTICIPATING IN KARABAKH OFFENSIVE. An Azerbaijani Defense Ministry spokesman has claimed that communications have been intercepted proving that Russian troops stationed in Armenia, armed with heavy artillery and tanks, participated in an Armenian offensive in the north of Nagorno-Karabakh earlier this month, AFP reported on 14 February. The chief of the Azerbaijani forces in Nagorno-Karabakh was relieved of his duties last week, following Armenian territorial gains in the region, and accused of intending to precipitate a coup d'etat. Opposition political parties have issued a statement calling on the population to support President Abulfaz Elchibey, Turan News Agency reported on 12 February. Liz Fuller NEW HEAD OF MUSLIM RELIGIOUS ESTABLISHMENT ELECTED IN TAJIKISTAN. Representatives of Tajikistan's official Muslim religious establishment chose a new leader on 12 February, Khovar-TASS reported, to replace Supreme Judge (Kazi) Akbar Turadzhonzoda, who is being sought on a criminal charge for his support of the anti-Communist opposition coalition during 1992. His replacement is Fatkhullo Sharifov, imam-khatib of a Friday mosque in the Gissar Valley, a stronghold of pro- government forces. Sharifov will have the title of Mufti, Tajikistan's Muslim religious establishment having withdrawn from the Muslim Religious Board for Central Asia in Tashkent. The new mufti promised that the Muslim clergy will not become involved in politics and will support the government. -Bess Brown NAZARBAEV VISITS EGYPT. Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev arrived in Egypt on 13 February for an official visit, meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak the following day and signing several agreements, ITAR-TASS reported. These included an intergovernmental trade agreement and documents on economic and technical cooperation, protection of investments, and cooperation in the field of information. Mubarak's press secretary was reported as telling journalists that the two presidents had agreed on the beneficial influence of religion and the dangers of extremism. In the case of Kazakhstan, the danger of ethnic extremism is far greater than that of religious extremism such as has plagued Egypt in recent months, but both threaten political stability. Bess Brown KAZAKH PRIVATIZATION PLANS MOVE FORWARD. The Kazakh government is working out details of its large-scale privatization program for this year, according to The European of 12 February. The general thrust of the program is to complete the privatization of smaller business by the end of March, transform medium and large state enterprises into joint stock companies within the first months of this year and then begin to sell them off rapidly. The program will also include some form of voucher scheme similar to Russia's, but not as yet fully elaborated. Last year the Kazakh Ministry for Privatization reportedly oversaw the transfer of 5,000 small businesses into private hands. Erik Whitlock CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE BRAZAUSKAS ELECTED LITHUANIA'S PRESIDENT. In elections on 14 February, Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party chairman Algirdas Brazauskas was elected president, defeating Lithuania's Ambassador to the US, Stasys Lozoratis. Election commission chairman Vaclovas Litvinas told a press conference broadcast live on Radio Lithuania on 15-February that preliminary results showed that 2,011,735 eligible voters participated. Brazauskas received 1,210,517 votes and Lozoratis, 767,345. Brazauskas was victorious in all 55 cities and raions, with the exception of Kaunas and the Kaunas Raion. Local council elections were also held in the Vilnius and Salcininkai raions and the Visaginas settlement, where councils were suspended in August 1992 after the failed coup against Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. Some run-off elections to local councils must still be held. -Saulius Girnius POLISH COALITION WINS BUDGET VOTE. Ending a political cliff-hanger, the Sejm voted to approve the government's proposed 1993 budget on 12 February. The vote was 230 to 207, with 3 abstentions, PAP reported. Attendance was at record levels, as both government and opposition treated the vote as a test of strength. Speaking before the vote, Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka warned her government would resign if the parliament passed a budget of "false promises." Former Prime Minister Jan Olszewski offered his party's votes in return for a pledge to screen President Lech Walesa for secret police collaboration; the coalition rejected this offer. The 1993 budget limits the deficit to 81 trillion zloty ($5.2 billion), about 5% of GDP, and sets yearly inflation at 32%. The government argued that the deficit limit was necessary to keep inflation under control and secure an agreement with the IMF. In approving the 1993 budget, the Sejm agreed to suspend provisions of laws on pensions and public sector wages that would have raised spending by 20 trillion zloty. The budget vote was a triumph for the coalition and will facilitate political stability in Poland. -Louisa Vinton SOLIDARITY IN CRISIS. The government owed its success in the budget vote to dissident votes from the Solidarity parliamentary caucus, whose 26 members had been instructed by the union's national leadership to vote against the budget. Ten members of the union caucus voted for the budget, and five others, including caucus chairman Bogdan Borusewicz and coalition broker Jan Rulewski, left the Sejm floor during the vote. Only ten Solidarity deputies heeded the leadership's instructions. This dissent reflects tension between members who still see Solidarity as a national movement for reform and those who would like it to represent a unionist constituency of industrial workers. It is not clear whether the dissenters will face sanctions. -Louisa Vinton HUNGARY, POLAND, UKRAINE SIGN REGIONAL ACCORD. The foreign ministers of Hungary, Poland, and Ukraine signed a regional cooperation agreement on 14 February in Debrecen, MTI reports. Under the agreement, local governments and administrations are to cooperate in the Carpathian mountains and areas along the Tisza river, and a "Carpathians-Euroregion" council is to be set up to serve as a framework for long-term regional and border cooperation. Slovakia chose only to be an associate partner to the accords, and was not represented by its foreign minister. Council of Europe Secretary General Catherine Lalumiere attended the meeting, and said that the accord could stabilize the region and reduce tensions in Central and Eastern Europe. -Edith Oltay RELIEF EFFORTS STYMIED IN BOSNIA. International media and Radio Serbia reported on 14 February that humanitarian efforts were blocked over the weekend in Bosnia. In protest at the UN's failure to deliver aid the Muslims of eastern Bosnia, the Bosnian government halted distribution of UN relief supplies in Sarajevo and Tuzla. A relief convoy was prevented from passing through Bosnian Serb roadblocks near the eastern Bosnian town of Cerska. Jose Maria Mendiluce, a special envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said that as many as 25,000 Muslims in Cerska are trapped by Serb forces. He said that Bosnian Serb officials agreed to let the convoy pass. Another attempt to drive through Serb lines will be made on 15 February. He described Serb and Muslim tactics as "political manipulation." Fighting was reported heavy as Muslim forces continued their offensive in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Sarajevo area. Radio Serbia reports that heavily-armed Muslims units have shelled Serbian positions in the Cajnice area, some 11 kms from the Serbian border. -Milan Andrejevich CROATIAN FIGHTING CONTINUES. Radios Croatia and Serbia report on 14 February that Croatian officials and leaders of the self-proclaimed Serbian Republic of Krajina are due to meet in New York for talks with international mediators Cyrus Vance and Lord Owen. Fighting between the Croats and Serbs resumed on 22-January when Croatian forces launched an offensive to regain key areas controlled by Croatia's rebel Serb minority. Croatia's UN ambassador Mario Nobilo urged the UN to begin "establishing Croatian authority" over Serb-held regions of Croatia. However, Krajina's President Goran Hadzic called for international recognition of his state and warned of a "blood bath" if Krajina's independence is not recognized. Hadzic said he will explain in New York that Serbs and Croats can no longer live together in one state and rejected negotiations with the Croatian government "until Croatia ends its offensive." Intense fighting between Croatian and Serbian forces was reported in northern Dalmatia. -Milan Andrejevich NEW HUNGARIAN FINANCE MINISTER DESIGNATED. Hungarian Prime Minister Jozsef Antall designated current Minister of Industry and Trade Ivan Szabo as finance minister on 12 February. Szabo replaces Mihaly Kupa, who resigned last week during a government reshuffle. Szabo told MTI that he considers Kupa's economic program valid and fully accepts Kupa's privatization concept. Szabo said there are differences of views only on the technical details of speeding up privatization. Szabo's designation was announced earlier than the naming of other ministers because of the ministry's importance and the need to continue without delay talks with the IMF. Talks between Hungary and the IMF recently failed, blocking Hungary's access to a $500-million loan. -Edith Oltay HUNGARIAN ROAD CIRCLES HOLD NATIONAL CONGRESS. The Hungarian Road Circles, a movement founded by Democratic Forum (HDF) presidium member Istvan Csurka, held its first national congress on 13-February in Budapest. Csurka is the leader of the radical group of the HDF's populist-national wing and has gained notoriety in the West for his anti-Semitic views. Csurka told an enthusiastic crowd of some 2,000 that the system remains unchanged and that "reform communists and liberal cliques" continue to retain "the most essential branches of power" using their international contacts. He urged the movement to put up their own candidates in 1994 elections and declared that "our final goal is to become in a short time the...largest mass movement of Hungarians." Csurka warned that "we are never satisfied with what we have gained and are always out for new conquests until all walks of Hungarian life are in our hands." This was reported by MTI and Western news agencies. -Edith Oltay DEVALUATION OF SLOVAK CURRENCY IN THE WORKS? SLOVAK FINANCE MINISTER JULIUS TOTH AND SLOVAK NATIONAL BANK VICE PRESIDENT MARIAN JUSKO SEEM TO DISAGREE ON WHETHER THE NEW SLOVAK CURRENCY SHOULD DEVALUED, SLOVAK RADIO REPORTED ON 14-FEBRUARY. Toth made it clear that he is categorically opposed to a devaluation and said that the bank has no authority to make such a decision without the consent of the government. Jusko said in an interview with CTK that the Bank Council, the highest decision-making body of the Slovak National Bank, has the mandate to decide on the value of the currency, but pointed out that there will not be any "hasty decisions without consultations with the government." Jusko indicated, however, that the bank may already have decided to devalue the Slovak koruna and will soon inform the government about its decision. Meanwhile, the Czech banks have begun buying the new Slovak currency at lower rates. The exchange rate between the Czech and the Slovak koruna was between 1 to 0.85 and 1 to 0.95 on 12-February, media reported. -Jan Obrman MECIAR SENTENCED TO PAY FINE. A municipal court in Bratislava sentenced Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar to pay 20,000 koruny to former Slovak dissident and Charter 77 signatory Vladimir Pavlik, Slovak media reported on 13 February. In addition, Meciar will have to cover all court costs and write a letter apologizing to Pavlik. In May 1990, Meciar-then Slovak Interior Minister-said that a local campaign against the economic activities of the former communist elite was "anti-government and illegal." Pavlik was among the initiators of the campaign. -Jan Obrman ROMANIA, GREECE SIGN PROTOCOL. On 14 February Romania and Greece signed a protocol on political, diplomatic and economic cooperation. The agreement, which was reached at the end a two-day visit by Greek Foreign Minister Mihalis Papaconstantinou to Bucharest, provides for regular contacts between the two countries' foreign ministries to discuss bilateral issues and international affairs of mutual interest. During his visit, Papaconstantinou met with Romania's President Ion Iliescu, Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu, Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu and other Romanian leaders. The war in Bosnia-Hercegovina was at the center of talks. The two countries stated their joint opposition to any outside military intervention in former Yugoslavia. -Dan Ionescu POLLUTION IN NORTHERN BOHEMIA REACHES CATASTROPHIC LEVELS. Several North Bohemian towns declared emergencies on 13 February after air pollution levels rose to 15-times the already inadequate Czech safety norm. Czech media reported over the weekend that thick smog covered the entire region. Children, pregnant women and the sick were asked to stay indoors or leave the cities. Moreover, it was announced that many schools would remain closed on 15 and 16 February. Traffic was banned in some of the worst affected regions, and the output of the brown coal burning power plants was reduced to a minimum. The energy shortfall was replaced by increased imports from Germany and Slovakia. Several towns and private organizations have called on the government to help the region immediately. -Jan Obrman FURTHER BALKAN COOPERATION EFFORTS. With tensions mounting in the former Yugoslavia, agencies report that Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev and Albanian President Sali Berisha met in Tirana to sign a friendship and cooperation treaty on 14 February. The accord comes in the wake of the agreement between Bulgaria and Greece and a further treaty on cooperation between Greece and Romania. The countries of the region are all concerned about the Bosnian strife spreading to Kosovo and the Republic of Macedonia. Also worried is Turkish President Turgut Ozal who arrived in Sofia on 15 February as part of a tour with stops in Skopje and Tirana as well. The agenda of the visit will focus on Balkan security issues. Finally, Greek Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis indicated that Greece might accept a name for the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia which includes the word "Macedonia" in the official title. All of these developments underscore the dread with which Balkan countries view the threat of a peninsula-wide conflagration and their resolve to contain the Bosnian war. -Duncan Perry VOJVODINA ASSEMBLY ELECTS NEW GOVERNMENT. Politika on 11 February reported that the Vojvodina provincial national assembly voted to approve Prime Minister Bosko Perosevic's program and cabinet. Perosevic's government programs will be centered on agrarian reform and "lessening the consequences" of internationally-imposed sanctions. Seven of 12 members of government belong to the Socialist Party of Serbia; the remaining five are from the right-wing Serbian Radical Party and the Citizens' Group. The main opposition parties, including the Democratic Community of Vojvodina Hungarians, the second largest group in the assembly, are not represented. -Milan Andrejevich RADIO DEBATE ON GERMAN TOXIC WASTE IN ROMANIA. On 13 February Radio Bucharest broadcast a marathon debate on the issue of German toxic waste smuggled into Romania in early 1992. Romania's Water, Woods, and Environment Minister Aurel Constantin Ilie summed up the negotiations with the German authorities on the return of the noxious waste to Germany. In an interview with a Romanian correspondent in Bonn, German Environment Minister Klaus Toepfer pledged that his country would take quick steps to solve the affair; and he expressed hopes that Germany and Romania would develop an "ecological partnership" to avoid future problems. Other German and Romanian participants in the radio debate, including the mayor of Miercurea Sibiului-a settlement where part of the waste was illegally deposited-stressed the gravity of the issue. -Dan Ionescu PAN-RUSSIAN FORCES SEE "DNIESTER REPUBLIC" AS EMBRYO OF USSR. Russian ultranationalist figure Viktor Alksnis and two Russian Supreme Soviet deputies told a news conference in Tiraspol that the peoples of the former USSR "are bound to restore the unitary state" and that the "Dniester republic" is "that sliver of land on which the Union's spirit has survived and from which the Union's restoration will begin," Basapress and TASS reported on 7 and 9 February, respectively. In an appeal in the current issue of Den' (no. 3, 30-January), prominent Russian ultranationalist leaders describe the "Dniester republic" as "the first burst of Russian resistance...inspiring faith in the restoration of the Great Fatherland;" and praise Russian officers of ex-Baltic KGB and OMON for "continuing the armed fight" on the Dniester. Leading pro-Soviet activist Sazhi Umalatova and two Russian Supreme Soviet deputies took the floor in the "Dniester republic supreme soviet" on 27 January to say that "the USSR will revive and justice will triumph" starting from the "Dniester republic," Basapress reported. -Vladimir Socor MOLDOVA PROTESTS RUSSIAN ARMY MANEUVERS. The command of Russia's 14th Army in Moldova has announced that it will conduct tactical exercises, including artillery firings, from 15 to 19 February in accordance with plans drawn up by Russia's Defense Minister Gen. Pavel Grachev, Basapress reported on the 13th from Tiraspol. The Army command has warned the population of Moldovan villages on the left bank of the Dniester to stay out of the troops' way. Moldova's Defense Minister, Lt.-Gen. Pavel Creanga, cabled Grachev asking him to rescind the decision which Creanga described as ignoring Moldova's sovereignty and heightening tensions in the area. -Vladimir Socor WEAPONS OFFERED FOR SALE IN UKRAINE. Minsk Radio, citing the Russian journal Kommersant, reported on 11 February that some $2 billion worth of military hardware has been offered for sale in Kharkov. The manager of the stock exchange responsible for the sale, which was identified as the Ukrainian-Siberian Universal Stock Exchange, reportedly refused to identify the source of the weaponry, saying only that it was Russian. However, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations, which oversees Russian arms sales, charged that Kiev is itself selling the arms while using a Russian company as a cover. The items being offered are reported to include MiG-27K attack aircraft (at $16-million each), antiaircraft missile complexes, T-80 tanks (at $2.2 million), and submarines (a bargain at a $150,000). -Stephen Foye UKRAINE SAYS IT IS BEING FORCED OUT OF CIS. Oleksandr Yemets, an adviser to Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk, told Ukrainian TV viewers that Russia is "deliberately pushing" Ukraine out of the CIS, a Western source reports on 14 February. The accusation was linked to a recent decree by Russian President Boris Yeltsin on assets of the former Soviet Union, which Yemets says will force Ukraine to leave the CIS. -Roman Solchanyk [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Wendy Slater and Louisa VintonTHE RFE/RL DAILY REPORT IS PRODUCED BY THE RFE/RL RESEARCH INSTITUTE (A DIVISION OF RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, INC.) with the assistance of the RFE/RL News and Current Affairs Division (NCA). 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