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No. 97, 24 May 1993
RUSSIA YELTSIN ISSUES DECREE CALLING CONSTITUTIONAL MEETING. President Boris Yeltsin issued a decree stating that a Constitutional Assembly would be convened on 5-June to discuss and write a final draft of a new Constitution, ITAR-TASS reported on 21 May. The assembly's delegates will include representatives of the president's staff, other offices of the federal executive branch, the parliament, regions and republics of the Russian Federation and major political parties. Deputy chairman of the parliament, Nikolai Ryabov said he supported Yeltsin's decree. Vladimir Isakov, a leader of the Russian Unity anti-Yeltsin faction in the parliament, also said that in principle he was not against Yeltsin's decree. He added, however, that the participation of parliamentary deputies in a Constitutional Assembly needed further clarification. The speaker of the parliament, Ruslan Khasbulatov, told ITAR-TASS on 23 May that "time permitting," he would attend the Constitutional Assembly. -Vera Tolz SHAKHRAI ON THE WORK OF CONSTITUTIONAL ASSEMBLY. Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai said the adoption of a new constitution would not be the task of the Constitutional Assembly, ITAR-TASS reported on 22-May. Shakhrai told reporters in Moscow that Yeltsin expected the assembly to be in session for 18 days and during this period to write a final draft of a new constitution based on the text promoted by the president. Shakhrai said as the work of the assembly would be drawing to a close it would become clear what mechanism for adopting the new constitution should be used, and whether it could be submitted to the Congress of People's Deputies. (By the existing law only the Congress has the right to adopt a constitution; yet, many politicians argue that the Congress has lost legitimacy after the 25 April referendum.) Shakhrai said the assembly might also be asked to consider a draft law on new elections. -Vera Tolz COMMENTS ON TWO CONSTITUTIONAL DRAFTS. Meanwhile, various politicians are commenting on two drafts of a new Russian constitution-the draft promoted by President Yeltsin and the draft formulated by the parliament's Constitutional Commission. On 21 May, ITAR-TASS said Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin gave his approval to Yeltsin's draft which, compared to the current Constitution, gives a wide range of rights to the president, while limiting the powers of the parliament. This limitation of the parliament's powers in Yeltsin's draft was criticized by deputy chairman of the parliament Nikolai Ryabov. Vice President Rutksoi complained that Yeltsin's draft constitution was "worthless." He stated that it was the job of "legislative bodies," not executive structures, to produce and advocate constitutional drafts. Meanwhile, both the local soviet and the government administration in the Siberian region of Novosibirsk issued a declaration endorsing Yeltsin's draft constitution, Russian Television reported on 21 May. In contrast, the parliament of Siberia's republic of Sakha (Yakutia) rejected both Yeltsin's and the parliament's drafts. According to the Sakha parliament, both drafts did not give enough powers to Russia's republics. -Vera Tolz HARDLINERS WANT REFERENDUM TO BRING BACK SOVIET CONSTITUTION. A communist organization, "Workers' Russia," collected more than one million signatures to force a nationwide referendum on its own draft of a "Soviet socialist constitution," Pravda reported on 22-May. (Russian law allows a referendum to be called if one million people sign a petition asking for it.) The hard-line organization said if adopted, Yeltsin's draft Constitution would "distance Russia from its Soviet past." "Workers' Russia" said it would hold its own constitutional conference in June to work out a separate draft constitution "that would guarantee a life fit for a human being to the working man." Meanwhile, on 24 May the Moscow City Council convenes to decide whether the leader of "Workers' Russia," Viktor Anpilov, should retain immunity from prosecution as a deputy of the council. The Moscow procurator's office wants to initiate a criminal case against Anpilov for organizing an unauthorized demonstration on 1 May that turned violent. -Vera Tolz TRAVKIN AND RUTSKOI SPLIT. The Democratic Party of Russia led by Nikolai Travkin decided not to attend the meeting of centrist forces in Moscow last week, ITAR-TASS reported on 22 May. The meeting was organized by Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi and his People's Party of Free Russia with the aim of establishing a centrist coalition for future presidential and parliamentary elections. The Democratic Party has distanced itself from Rutskoi's anti-Yeltsin actions and opposed the Civic Union supporting Rutskoi for president. The leader of the Movement for Democratic Reform, Gavril Popov, told Radio Echo of Moscow on 21 May that he supports the creation of a broad centrist bloc. At the same time, he said the centrist bloc should be led by someone other than Rutskoi. -Alexander Rahr ZHIRINOVSKY ANNOUNCES CANDIDACY FOR PRESIDENT. The leader of the ultra-nationalist Liberal-Democratic Party, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, told journalists on 18 May that he intends to run for president in the next elections, ITAR-TASS reported. Zhirinovsky said that the presidential elections will be held not later than next spring. In his opinion only three serious candidates will emerge: Boris Yeltsin, Aleksandr Rutskoi and himself. He expressed confidence that people, tired of the constant power struggle between Yeltsin and Rutskoi, will vote him into office. Zhirinovsky rejected Yeltsin's approach of power sharing with the Russian republics and regions but otherwise fully agreed with Yeltsin's constitutional project of a strong presidential republic, saying that his party had fought for that idea since 1988. -Alexander Rahr GOVERNMENT AND CENTRAL BANK DRAW UP AGREEMENT. Finance Minister Boris Fedorov, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and Central Bank chairman Viktor Gerashchenko have produced a set of policy measures cutting credit creation and government spending, according to various Western news agencies on 21-and 22 May. The measures include the Central bank replacing direct credit issue to enterprises with distribution through auctions or commercial banks, and government promises hold back budget spending. The measures are intended to bring inflation down to 10% a month by the end of this year. These pledges on the part of the government and Central Bank are part of the process to qualify Russia for a $3 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund. -Erik Whitlock INTERENTERPRISE DEBT REACHES NEW HIGH. Fedorov said that interenterprise debt has reached almost 7 trillion rubles, Radio Echo of Moscow reported on 21-May. In nominal terms this figure is more than twice as high as the peak during the enterprise payment crisis of last July (Although in relative terms the debt is still significantly lower: its value is now slightly under half of the value of officially estimated GDP as compared to the situation in July when such debt exceeded the value of GDP). Fedorov said that the government will prepare a set of measures within a week's time to reduce the debt without an increase in credit emission. Such measures, he said, may be implemented over May and June. -Erik Whitlock PARATROOPS HELP COLLECT TAXES. Russian military officers are being enlisted to enforce tax collection, ITAR-TASS reported on 19 May. Some 1400 officers from a variety of services have already been assigned to assist tax collectors, with officers from the airborne forces providing "physical protection." An additional 550 officers are expected to participate. Half of the officers of the Black Sea Fleet have reportedly expressed interest in the program. The report did not make clear whether these officers were being seconded to the tax investigation service, or whether they were retaining positions within the military while helping out on a part-time basis. While the move is intended to increase tax revenues and combat tax fraud, it also represents another weakening of the division between military and civilian functions, and provides yet more opportunity for corruption within the military. -John Lepingwell RUSSIA CRITICIZES NEW UKRAINIAN SECURITY CONCEPT. Speaking at a session of the North Atlantic Assembly on 22 May, the head of the Russian delegation, Sergei Stepashin, stated that Russia did not have any pretenses to playing a special security role in the world or in the states of the former Soviet Union. Stepashin was also sharply critical of recent Ukrainian proposals to build a new collective security system encompassing Western and Central Europe, as well as suggestions that NATO be expanded to include Eastern European countries. Calling Ukraine's proposal an attempt to create a "cordon sanitaire" around Russia, Stepashin also rejected Ukraine's charge that Russia retained "imperialist ambitions" and urged Ukraine to ratify the START-1 treaty. Stepashin has recently been playing a higher-profile role in Russian security policy, and is one of the candidates to assume Yurii Skokov's former position as secretary of the Russian Security Council. -John Lepingwell COMMONWEALTH OF INDEPENDENT STATES DUDAEV FACING DEFEAT OVER HOLDING REFERENDUM IN CHECHNYA. In spite of the active opposition of supporters of Chechen president Dzhokhar Dudaev, it seems that the referendum on the future of the presidency in Chechnya will be held on 5 June, ITAR-TASS reported on 22 May. The Council of Ulemas (Muslim divines) has not only approved the holding of the referendum but has put all the imams under an obligation to assist in its conduct. The opposition is said to be achieving notable successes in its agitation work in towns and villages outside the capital, while Dudaev's position remains strong in the small mountain settlements. Dudaev says he is not against a referendum per se, but one should not be held now when economic difficulties will make it impossible for the people to make a rational choice. -Ann Sheehy THIRD SESSION OF CIS INTERPARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY. The third plenary session of the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly (IPA), which met in St. Petersburg on 23 May, adopted recommendations on harmonizing the legislation of member states in the fields of information, customs, foreign investment, and the military sphere, ITAR-TASS reported. A report was also presented on progress towards eliminating the consequences of ecological damage in the areas of Semipalatinsk, Chernobyl, and the Aral Sea. A resolution was adopted asking the parliaments of the CIS states to alter their legislation to allow recruits with another citizenship to do their military service in CIS member-states. Uzbekistan, although a member of the IPA, was once again not represented at the session, although non-members Ukraine, Moldova, and Azerbaijan sent observers. The fourth session is to be held in November. -Ann Sheehy TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA UN PEACEKEEPERS FOR ABKHAZIA? FOLLOWING HIS MEETING WITH ABKHAZ PARLIAMENT CHAIRMAN VLADISLAV ARDZINBA, BORIS PASTUKHOV, YELTSIN'S PERSONAL ENVOY TO ABKHAZIA, TOLD ITAR-TASS ON 21 MAY THAT HE CONSIDERED THE DEPLOYMENT IN ABKHAZIA OF A TRIPARTITE RUSSIAN-ABKHAZ-GEORGIAN PEACEKEEPING FORCE "UNREALISTIC" AT THE PRESENT TIME, AND PROPOSED AS AN ALTERNATIVE EITHER CSCE OR UN PEACEKEEPING TROOPS, WHICH COULD INCLUDE A CIS CONTINGENT. UN Secretary-General Boutros Ghali's personal envoy to Abkhazia, Eduard Brunner, also held talks with Ardzinba and with representatives of the Georgian population of Abkhazia on 22-May. Brunner told journalists the UN could play a role both in mediating a political settlement of the conflict and in deploying peacekeepers to monitor a permanent ceasefire, ITAR-TASS reported. -Liz Fuller AZERBAIJAN TO RELENT OVER CONDEMNED RUSSIAN MERCENARIES? FOLLOWING THE APPEAL ADDRESSED BY RUSSIAN FEDERATION SUPREME SOVIET CHAIRMAN RUSLAN KHASBULATOV TO HIS AZERBAIJANI COUNTERPART ISA GAMBAROV ON 21 MAY FOR CLEMENCY FOR THE RUSSIAN SERVICEMEN CONDEMNED TO DEATH FOR KILLING AZERBAIJANI TROOPS DURING FIGHTING IN NAGORNO-KARABAKH LAST YEAR, GAMBAROV ON 23 MAY PROPOSED THE CREATION OF AN AZERBAIJANI- RUSSIAN JOINT PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSION TO REVIEW THEIR CASE, AZERTADZH REPORTED. Gambarov added that Azerbaijan values good relations with Russia, but expects "a more active position" from Russia over the ongoing Karabakh conflict. -Liz Fuller FIRST CONTINGENT OF TAJIK REFUGEES RETURNS. A group of some 300 Tajik refugees returned home from Afghanistan on 22 May under the auspices of the UN, Reuters reported. Up to 50,000 Tajiks fled to Afghanistan during last year's civil war; a further 420,000 are refugees within Tajikistan. -Liz Fuller CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE NEW INTERNATIONAL PLAN FOR BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA. International media on 23 and 24 May report on a policy statement released on 22 May by the United States, Russia, France, Spain, and the United Kingdom. The 13-point plan is aimed at containing the fighting and providing six safe havens but not at reversing Serb conquests. It does not include any military intervention to hit Serb artillery, nor does it allow for the lifting of the arms embargo on the Bosnian Muslims. The statement provides for armed protection for UN peace-keeping forces in the safe areas, but not for the Muslim population there, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung notes. Other points include a warning to Croatia that it faces possible sanctions over the fighting in Herzegovina; a call for observers to be stationed on the border between Serbia and Kosovo; and the quick establishment of a war-crimes tribunal. Meanwhile in Belgrade, the Serbian and rump Yugoslav presidents ruled out having any UN observers on the Serbian-Bosnian border. -Patrick Moore END-GAME FOR BOSNIA? REACTION TO THE FIVE-COUNTRY STATEMENT CAME QUICKLY. The BBC on 23 May quoted Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic as calling it "completely unacceptable" and accusing the international community of appeasing Serbian "aggression and genocide." He urged Muslims to fight to the finish and with any means at hand. The 24 May Frankfurt Allgemeine Zeitung quotes him as saying: "Do not be afraid and do not hesitate. People who truly fight for their existence and for freedom cannot lose." His vice president, Ejup Ganic, called the safe havens "concentration camps," and the BBC added that UN observers report a complete breakdown of law and order in the safe haven of Srebrenica in recent weeks, with local Muslims, refugees, and Bosnian soldiers forming three distinct and antagonistic groups. Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, however, praised the five-country statement and called for talks between Serbs, Croats, and Muslims to divide Bosnia into three national units. The 23 May New York Times reports on the jubilant mood among the Bosnian Serbs. Other observers made comments such as: "this is worse than Vance-Owen"; "the Muslims are confined to Indian reservations with minarets"; and "this means the end of Alija [Izetbegovic]'s fictitious state." -Patrick Moore PANIC ACCUSED OF FRAUD. Reports from Belgrade on 19 and 20 May said that a federal government committee will probe allegations leveled at the federal army chief of staff Gen. Zivota Panic by Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj. Seselj accused Panic of selling supplies-mainly toilet paper and potatoes-to the army at inflated prices through a trading company owned by his son, Goran. Seselj also accused Panic of stealing nearly $5-million from a Croatian bank in Vukovar during the fall of 1991. Goran Panic told Borba that his company conducts its business legally and said his family is "in shock" over Seselj's allegations. Studio-B TV sees Seselj's ability to force a government investigation as evidence of his growing power. -Milan Andrejevich WALESA WARNS AGAINST "PLAYING WITH FIRE." As the Polish confrontation has escalated, President Lech Walesa has abandoned attempts to balance between the two sides and sided with the government. Interviewed by PAP on 20 May, Walesa argued that "in these conditions-.-.-. no other government could have done better than Prime Minister Suchocka's." Walesa indicated he will not dissolve parliament and call new elections if Solidarity's no-confidence vote succeeds. He said he may form a "presidential government of experts." Responding to union demands that he take full power, Walesa stressed he will not commit "Pilsudski's error"-a reference to the authoritarian regime imposed in a 1926 coup by Poland's interwar leader, Marshal Jozef Pilsudski. What Poland needs most, Walesa argued, is an executive branch equipped with sufficient powers to effect reforms; he suggested that this was his price for leaving the current parliament in place. In a scene broadcast on Polish TV on 20 May, Walesa publicly chastised the radical leader of Solidarity's Warsaw region, Maciej Jankowski, and warned the unionists "not to play with fire." -Louisa Vinton POLISH PARTIES PREPARE FOR NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE. Solidarity's motion for a no-confidence vote has prompted feverish political maneuvering, as the fate of the government may rest with the former communist Democratic Left Alliance (SLD). The SLD has begun setting conditions for supporting the government; new ones appear daily. The list of conditions made public on 22-24 May includes: early elections (in spring 1994), revisions to the 1993 budget, antirecessionary economic policies, and better access to the mass media. Such far-reaching conditions seem intended to improve the SLD's initial bargaining position. Most observers agree that any new government is likely to be more hostile to the SLD than the current one. Coalition members are divided on the wisdom of talks with the former communists, and the coalition's right wing has ruled them out. Citing "unofficial sources," Polish TV reports nonetheless that talks may begin on 24 May. Two other sizable parties, the Polish Peasant Party and the Peasant Alliance (a former coalition partner), are still sitting on the fence. Meanwhile, the ruling coalition's liberals and conservatives have drafted legislation to limit the political power of the trade unions. -Louisa Vinton POLISH STRIKES SUSPENDED. As political turmoil has deepened, relative calm has returned to the Polish labor scene. A one-day strike by public transportation workers paralyzed Warsaw until midnight on 21 May, but buses and trams have been running normally since. Solidarity's radical Warsaw region suspended its general strike on 21-May, apparently at the urging of union chairman Marian Krzaklewski. The teachers, health care workers, and other budget employees whose general strike prompted the show-down between Solidarity and the government decided to suspend their strike on 20 May. PAP reports that schools resumed normal classes on 24 May. Krzaklewski warned on 20 May that Solidarity will stage a nationwide general strike if the Sejm fails to oust the government or if the "next partner" in negotiations refuses to meet the union's demands. He ruled out further talks with Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka's government. -Louisa Vinton SLOVAK EX-COMMUNISTS HOLD CONGRESS. At a congress on 22-23 May in Zilina, the Party of the Democratic Left (formerly the Slovak Communist Party), the strongest opposition party, voiced support for efforts of ethnic Hungarians in Slovakia to achieve autonomy. TASR reports that SDL chairman Peter Weiss told the congress that the party has the political will to help solve minority problems and supports the adoption of laws on minorities' status. Gyula Horn, the chairman of the Hungarian Socialist Party, attended the congress. He told CTK that he believes that for representatives of the Hungarian minority in Slovakia, the SDL is the appropriate discussion partner. Weiss, who was reelected party chairman, also told the congress that his party is not interested in destabilizing the political scene in Slovakia but that this does not mean that it supports the minority government of Vladimir Meciar. He said that he considers early elections to be one of several solutions to the current crisis in Slovakia. Another solution would the establishment of a wide government coalition. -Jiri Pehe HAVEL IN GREECE. Czech President Vaclav Havel arrived in Greece on 23 May for a three-day visit. He is to receive the Athinai 93 Award. It is presented by the Onassis Foundation each year to a person who makes an outstanding contribution to the human race. CTK reports that Havel was met at the Athens airport by Foreign Minister Mihalis Papakonstantinou. He is also scheduled to meet with Greek President Constantine Karamanlis and Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis. -Jiri Pehe WORLD BANK SAYS BULGARIAN REFORMS LAGGING. At a press conference in Sofia on 21 May, a top World Bank official said Bulgaria continues to "drag its feet" on economic reform. Michael Wiehen, head of the bank's Central and East European department, said Sofia could very well receive more economic assistance, but first has to speed up the reform pace. Among the key priorities, Wiehen singled out the adoption of a "realistic" budget, the restructuring and selling out of larger state companies, and the distribution of farm land to private owners. Nonetheless, a new project between the World Bank and Bulgaria-a $93-million credit for the energy sector-was announced. -Kjell Engelbrekt JUAN CARLOS IN BULGARIA. On 23 May King Juan Carlos of Spain began a three-day official visit. He was welcomed by hundreds of well-wishers, including a number of Bulgarian monarchists, who called for the return of Simeon II-a friend of the Spanish royal family who lives outside Madrid. At a state dinner hosted by President Zhelyu Zhelev, Juan Carlos said the Spanish government is closely following the progress of democratization in Bulgaria. Earlier during the day the two heads of state signed a friendship and cooperation treaty. -Kjell Engelbrekt NORTH ATLANTIC ASSEMBLY AND EASTERN EUROPE. Speaking at the Berlin meeting of NATO's parliamentary body, the North Atlantic Assembly, chairman Loic Bouvard and German Defense Minister Volker Ruehe both said NATO should accept East Europe countries as members "as soon as possible," Reuters and AFP report on 21 May. In a warning to Serbia not to destabilize the Balkan region, the assembly also gave associate member status to Albania. Ruehe specifically singled out the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia, which make up the so-called Visegrad Four regional cooperation grouping; the group's defense ministers, with the exception of the Czech defense minister, met in Rome on 20 May during a meeting of the Western European Union's foreign and defense ministers in Rome at which the WEU and nine former communist countries agreed to set up a common forum to coordinate security policy matters. According to Radio Budapest, the ministers agreed to continue their cooperation in the military sphere and discussed Ukraine's concept of regional security policy cooperation. -Alfred Reisch HUNGARIAN UNION ELECTIONS CONCLUSIVE. In a nationwide election held on 21 May, some 7.5 million Hungarian voters were asked to determine which unions will represent them on the new joint union-employer councils called upon to manage health care and pension funds, MTI reports. With a 38.7% voter participation (at least 25% was needed to make the vote valid), the leftist National Council of Hungarian Trade Unions (MSZOSZ) won a decisive victory. MSZOSZ, the successor to the former Communist-led National Council of Trade Unions and close ally of the Hungarian Socialist Party, took 45.2% of the votes, followed by the independent League of Trade Unions, with 13%, the National Union of Workers' Council-12.5%, and three other union organizations. This will give the MSZOSZ a total of 33 union representatives on the councils, followed by 7 for each the League and the Workers' Councils. The councils have one month to draft their statutes that will enable them to function and eventually replace the present National Social Care and Pension Control Committee. -Alfred Reisch ROMANIAN STEEL WORKERS SUSPEND STRIKE. A leader of the Metarom steel worker's trade union announced on 21 May the decision to suspend a strike begun on 17 May. Petru Dandea, told journalists that the decision was taken to prevent further damage to the national economy but warned that the strike would be resumed after 27 May if negotiations with the government over pay rises make no progress. Metarom demands a minimum monthly wage of 50,000 lei for skilled workers. The current level of the guaranteed minimum wage in Romania (30,000 lei) was negotiated by the government with the main trade union confederations in early May. -Dan Ionescu GOVERNMENT CRISIS CONTINUES IN UKRAINE. Parliament rejected both Prime Minister Leonid Kuchma's resignation, and President Leonid Kravchuk's proposal that he take over running the government, various press agencies reported on 22 and 23 May. Parliament did grant Kravchuk the right to rule by decree on some economic reform issues, but this fell short of the powers he had asked for while Kuchma's request for expanded economic authority has not been decided. The result is that neither man has the powers to proceed with an economic reform program. The crisis was compounded by an announcement that the price of Russian oil and gas will be increased to world levels, retroactive from 1 April. Parliament reassembles only on 1 June, and it will be necessary to resolve the question of who rules and with what powers immediately. The crisis has also delayed debate on the ratification of the START-1. -Ustina Markus INCIDENT AT ZAPORIZHZHYA NUCLEAR POWER STATION. Europe's largest nuclear power station, the Zaporizhzhya plant in southeast Ukraine, is working normally despite the explosion and fire on 21 May, various agencies reported on 23 May. The small accident occurred when a welding torch ignited hydrogen leaking from a pipe in the cooling system, killing one man and seriously woundin another. There was no leakage of radiation. Unable to pay the world prices being demanded for Russian oil and gas, Ukraine is planning to commission more reactors. There have been minor accidents recently at all five nuclear power stations, and the public is hostile to the prospect of opening new plants. -Ustina Markus RUSSIAN ENSIGN RAISED OVER BLACK SEA FLEET SHIPS. A new dispute over the Black Sea Fleet has been triggered by the hoisting of Russian naval ensign over 18-support vessels on 18 May. The act was intended to protest both disparities in pay and Ukraine's assumption of command over two ships whose crews had pledged allegiance to Ukraine in April. An assembly of officers of the fleet also requested that the presidents of Ukraine and Russia reexamine issues concerning the fleet and the question of dual citizenship for its officers. Ukrainian Defense Minister Konstantin Morozov on 20 May responded by issuing an order stating that those ships flying the Russian ensign are no longer part of the fleet, and their withdrawal from Ukrainian waters must be immediately negotiated. The order also terminated all pay for the sailors on the ships. By 21 May, 22 ships were flying the Russian ensign, and a small rally was held in Sevastopol to support the officers. These moves, together with a pay strike declared earlier this month, indicate that the sailors of the fleet are trying to maintain pressure on the Ukrainian and Russian governments to resolve the fleet's status. Negotiations over the division of the fleet recently stalled due to Russian insistence that it be allowed to base its portion of the fleet in Sevastopol. The latest developments were reported by ITAR-TASS and Western news agencies. -John Lepingwell BALTIC STATES ACQUIRE WEAPONS. Estonia and Lithuania appear to be pursuing different courses in acquiring weapons for their armed forces. Lithuanian National Defense Minister Audrius Butkevicius presented his Russian counterpart Pavel Grachev a shopping list of weapons in his talks on 18-19 May. Relying on Russian weapons may cause political problems, however, and could make more difficult Lithuania's expressed desire to cooperate closely with NATO. Since many Western countries regard the Baltic as a crisis region and are unwilling to sell weapons there, Estonia is negotiating with South Africa and China. On 22-May an Estonian soldier was accidentally killed during a demonstration of the first consignment of a $50-million contract for weapons from Israel, Baltic media report. -Saulius Girnius RUSSIA WANTS MILITARY FACILITIES IN LATVIA FOR 5-10 YEARS. On 21 May, the concluding day of the latest round of Latvian-Russian talks on the withdrawal of Russian troops, agreements were signed on turning Russian military plants in Latvia into joint ventures (as is being done in Estonia), entry into Latvia without visas for Russian servicemen and their families, and use of communications facilities in Latvia by the Russian forces. The two sides did not agree on the completion date for the troop pullout. The Latvian side wants all Russian troops out and military facilities vacated by the end of this year. Head of the Russian delegation Sergei Zotov suggested 1994 as a feasible date for withdrawing the troops, but added that Russia wants to retain its radar station in Skrunda for ten years, an intelligence gathering object in Ventspils for six years, and the naval harbor in Liepaja for five years, Baltic media reported on 21 May. -Dzintra Bungs [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Erik Whitlock and Charles Trumbull THE 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). The report is available by electronic mail via LISTSERV (RFERL-L@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU), on the Sovset' computer bulletin board, by fax, and by postal mail. For inquiries about specific news items, subscriptions, or additional copies, please contact: in North America: Mr. Brian Reed, RFE/RL, Inc., 1201 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC-20036 Telephone: (202) 457-6912 or -6907; Fax: (202) 457-6992 or 828-8783; Internet: RIDC@RFERL.ORG or Elsewhere: Ms. Helga Hofer, Publications Department, RFE/RL Research Institute, Oettingenstrasse 67, 8000 Munich 22, Germany;.Telephone: (+49 89) 2102-2631 or -2624; Fax: (+49 89) 2102-2648, Internet: PD@RFERL.ORG 1993, RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved.
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