Wherever there is love, there is peace. - Burmese proverb
RFE/RL Daily Report

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







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