Upon the education of the people of this country the fate of this country depends. - Benjamin Disraeli 1804-1881
RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 100, 27 May 1993







RUSSIA



REPUBLICS REFUSE TO ENDORSE YELTSIN DRAFT. At an expanded session
of the Council of the Heads of Republics in Moscow on 26 May,
the heads of the republics approved holding the constitutional
assembly called by Yeltsin for 5 June, but in a six-point statement
released after the meeting refused to endorse unequivocally the
Yeltsin draft, calling for a "unified and coordinated" draft,
AFP reported. Yeltsin's press secretary Vyacheslav Kostikov claimed,
however, that they had agreed in principle to come to the constitutional
assembly and "proceed from the understanding" that the presidential
draft would be taken as the basis for discussion. In his speech
to the council Yeltsin attempted to win the support of the heads
of the republics by outlining a four-stage plan for the implementation
of the federal treaty, which the republics regard as the key
document regulating their relations with Moscow. Yeltsin also
favors retaining the difference in the status between the republics
and the krais and oblasts, despite the strong urgings of the
krais and oblasts for equality. -Ann Sheehy

PARLIAMENT SETS UP WORKING GROUPS TO PREPARE CONSTITUTION. The
Russian parliament is continuing work on its own draft version
of the new Russian constitution, which it is presenting as an
alternative to the one proposed by President Yeltsin. According
to an ITAR-TASS report on 26 May, several expert groups have
been set up by parliament to discuss amendments proposed by various
regional authorities of the Russian Federation to parliament's
draft constitution. The agency said that the groups included
Russian people's deputies as well as representatives of regional
soviets. The report also claimed that a number of representatives
of Russia's regions have not yet decided whether they will support
the parliament's or the president's draft of the new constitution.
-Vera Tolz

"SOVEREIGNTY AND EQUALITY" FACTION CRITICAL OF BOTH DRAFTS. A
meeting of the parliamentary faction "Sovereignty and Equality,"
which unites deputies from the republics, has criticized both
the presidential and parliamentary drafts of the constitution
for ignoring the federal treaty, which, in its opinion, should
permeate all the articles of the constitution, Rossiiskaya gazeta
reported on 26 May. The meeting criticized both drafts, but particularly
the presidential, for retaining the diktat of the center, and
warned that forcing the adoption of a new constitution could
lead to the disintegration of the Russian Federation. -Ann Sheehy


MOSCOW SOVIET BLAMES AUTHORITIES FOR MAY DAY RIOTS. The Moscow
City Soviet has adopted in principle a resolution on the May
Day rally, RFE/RL reported from Moscow on 26 May. The resolution
came in response to a request from the city's state prosecutor
to let him charge city soviet deputy Viktor Anpilov with administrative
liability for the incident. Anpilov is leader of the hard-line
communist Workers' Russia movement, which was involved in the
bloody clashes with the police on 1 May. (579 people were injured,
and one policemen died as a result of the May Day rally.) The
resolution, drafted by the city soviet committee on legislation,
declines to lift Anpilov's immunity, urging instead that the
prosecutor bring charges against the office of the Moscow Mayor,
Yurii Luzhkov, for having provoked the violence against the demonstrators.
-Julia Wishnevsky

WHY PEASANTS VOTED AGAINST REFERENDUM. On 18-May Izvestiya published
a series of interviews with four specialists on the attitudes
of Russian peasants in different areas of Russia in an attempt
to explain why the rural population voted against Yeltsin during
the 25-April referendum. One of them, Ilya Steinberg, said that
workers of collective farms find it unfair that a milkmaid earns
5,000 rubles a month, her husband, a night-watchman, gets 1,700
rubles, while their neighbor, a World War II veteran, receives
30,000 rubles per month in retirement benefits. Steinberg added
that all former Communist Party apparatchiks who found jobs in
commercial structures vigorously support Yeltsin and that this
very fact was also opposed by the peasantry. -Julia Wishnevsky


RUTSKOI, RYABOV INTERVIEWED. Aleksandr Rutskoi told Megapolis-Ekspress
on 26 May that President Yeltsin had some time ago offered him
the post of Russian Minister of Defense, if he agreed to forfeit
the job of Vice President. He stated that Yeltsin's first choice
for the post of Vice President was former State Secretary Gennadii
Burbulis. Rutskoi claimed that Burbulis and Deputy Prime Minister
Sergei Shakhrai had started a campaign against him after the
presidential elections. Megapolis-Ekspress also carried an interview
with the deputy parliamentary speaker Nikolai Ryabov who said
that he used to believe that the Russian population was against
Yeltsin's reforms, but after the referendum results that he decided
to cooperate with the President. Ryabov went on to criticize
the authoritarianism of parliamentary speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov.
Alexander Rahr

NEW QUARREL BETWEEN YELTSIN AND RUTSKOI. A fresh quarrel broke
out on 26 May between Boris Yeltsin and his Vice President Aleksandr
Rutskoi over the latter's plan to use a Kremlin meeting hall
for a press conference scheduled for 28 May. Reuters reported
a statement from Yeltsin's press spokesman Vyacheslav Kostikov
carried by ITAR-TASS in which he "expressed doubts that the meeting
would take place in the Kremlin." However, an aide to Kostikov
would not clarify whether this meant that Yeltsin would restrict
access to the hall, and it remains doubtful that Yeltsin has
the legal authority to oust Rutskoi from his office in the Kremlin.
Yeltsin has already stripped Rutskoi of the bulk of his privileges
and responsibilities this year. -Wendy Slater

COUP PROSECUTORS OBJECT TO COURT RULING. The state prosecutors
in the trial of the twelve men accused of organizing the failed
August 1991 coup have protested to the Supreme Court against
the suspension of the trial on 18 May. The hearing was suspended
indefinitely on the grounds that the prosecution was biased.
The prosecutors' protest, which was reported by ITAR-TASS and
Reuters, pointed out that the court did not find the prosecutors
"personally biased, directly or indirectly," and that the ruling
concerned only Prosecutor General Valentin Stepankov and his
deputy Evgenii Lisov, who were said to be prejuded against the
defendants. Although Stepankov was responsible for appointing
the prosecutors, he was not himself involved in the trial proceedings.
The statement claimed that the law allows removal of the prosecutors
only on the grounds of personal bias. -Wendy Slater

CENTRAL BANK QUALIFIES STATEMENT OF INTENT. Russian Central Bank
(RCB) Deputy Chairman Aleksandr Khandruev told a Moscow conference
on 26-May that some of the terms of the joint statement of intent
signed by the government and the RCB could not be met, Biznes-TASS
and Reuters reported. Khandruev stated that RCB Chairman Viktor
Gerashchenko had not yet signed the technical supplement to the
joint statement as some of its commitments were too detailed
and unrealizable under existing conditions: "the Central Bank
does not want to play a double game, taking on unrealistic obligations
just to get the first tranche of a credit from the IMF." (However,
other sources reported that Gerashchenko had signed the document.)
-Keith Bush

CHUBAIS: THREAT TO PRIVATIZATION OVER. Deputy Prime Minister
and Chairman of the State Property Committee Anatolii Chubais
said in an interview on Russian television on 27 May that, "for
the first time in over a year and a half of my work [do I feel
as though] no one can break privatization." "The crisis," he
continued, "has passed." Earlier this spring, Chubais had made
repeated public warnings of attempts by conservatives to undermine
the government's privatization policy. According to the Committee
some 66,000 state enterprises, mainly small retail shops and
restaurants, have now been sold. This, reportedly, represents
a fourth of the total number (but not asset value) of all Russian
enterprises. -Erik Whitlock

WESTERN INVESTMENT IN RUSSIA. Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev
told a meeting in Moscow on 26 May that Western investment in
Russia has so far not exceeded $4 billion which is "clearly insufficient,"
ITAR-TASS reported. He said that it was the task of Russia's
foreign policy to create the preconditions for attracting foreign
investment. Kozyrev called for an end to ideological disputes
on the desirability of foreign investment and said that Russia
defends its economic interests by cooperating with the West.
But he also warned against "recklessly" opening doors to foreign
investment while disregarding the interests of Russian industry
and concluded that "reasonable protectionism" in this area is
inevitable. -Keith Bush

BANKRUPTCY PROCEEDINGS IMMINENT? ALTHOUGH THE LAW ON BANKRUPTCY
TOOK EFFECT ON 1 MARCH, FEW IF ANY BANKRUPTCIES HAVE BEEN REPORTED.
The deputy prime minister in charge of privatization, Anatolii
Chubais, is quoted by The Financial Times of 26 May as saying
that his State Property Committee had been entrusted with the
task of "launching bankruptcies." The actual closing down or
restructuring of unprofitable enterprises would be initiated
by creditors. -Keith Bush

RUSSIA WITHDRAWS FIGHTERS FROM KURILS. Japanese military sources
said on 27-May that Moscow has permanently withdrawn thirty of
forty MiG-23 fighter jets that had been stationed on the island
of Etorofu, one of the four disputed Kuril Islands. According
to AFP, Japanese defense officials said that Russia began removing
the aircraft in March. They attributed the action to Russia's
economic problems and to a desire to improve Japanese-Russian
relations ahead of the G-7 meeting scheduled for Tokyo in July.
Plans for a partial military withdrawal from the Kurils, mooted
in Moscow last year, provoked opposition within the Russian Defense
Ministry and General Staff. -Stephen Foye

GOSKOMSTAT ON THE ECOLOGICAL SITUATION. Monitoring of air pollution
levels in 10-20 Russian towns has shown that the presence of
some substances is 10-times higher than maximum permissible levels,
according to ITAR-TASS on 25 May. Air pollution is particularly
heavy in Aleksandrovsk-Sakhalinsky, St.Petersburg, Volgograd,
Moscow, Vyborg, and Magnitogorsk. Water pollution levels are
also alarming, with some of the big rivers, namely the Volga
with its tributaries the Oka and Kama, and the Ob with its tributaries
the Irtysh and Tobol, showing the highest pollution levels. Traces
of pesticides in the water in the Samara oblast are up to 10-15
times higher than the maximum permissible level; traces of ammonium
and nitrogen were 10-25 times above the permissible level in
the Novgorod, Ryazan, and Moscow oblasts, and water pollution
caused by oil products was up to 50 times above the permissible
level in the Bashkortostan republic and the Nizhnii Novgorod
oblast. -Sheila Marnie

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA



ARMENIA, AZERBAIJAN ACCEPT TRIPARTITE PEACE PLAN, NKR REJECTS
IT. On 26-May, the governments of Azerbaijan and Armenia formally
approved the US-Russian-Turkish sponsored peace plan for Nagorno-Karabakh,
ITAR-TASS reported. As anticipated, the Defense Committee (which
is functioning as the government) of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh
Republic rejected the plan on the grounds that it did not provide
guarantees for the safety of the population of Nagorno-Karabakh
or stipulate an end to the Azerbaijani economic blockade. The
NKR's representative in Erevan, Manvel Sarkisyan also reiterated
the NKR's rejection of Turkey as a mediator in the Karabakh conflict;
at the same time he asserted that "Nagorno-Karabakh favors the
firm commitment of all participants in the conflict to resolve
it solely by peaceful means." -Liz Fuller

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE



EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN OF HUNGARY'S RULING PARTY RESIGNS. Hungarian
Democratic Forum (HDF) executive chairman Lajos Fur announced
at a 26 May meeting of the forum's presidium that he is resigning
from his post, effective immediately, MTI and Radio Budapest
announced. In a letter to HDF Chairman and Prime Minister Jozsef
Antall, Fur gave the failure of his own efforts at putting an
end to "fratricidal warfare" within the party as the main reason
for his resignation; the HDF's liberal and popular nationalist
groups led by Jozsef Debreczeni and Istvan Csurka, respectively,
had engaged in inexcusable "self-destructive" activities that
broke "the norms of political dignity," Fur wrote. The resignation
caught Antall and the HDF presidium totally by surprise, and
Vice Chairman Sandor Lezsak is also thinking of resigning should
Csurka leave and the liberals remain in the party. Fur, who remains
defense minister, left on 27 May for Kiev on a two-day official
visit at the invitation of his Ukrainian counterpart Col. Gen.
Konstantin Morozov. Alfred Reisch

NEW GROUP WITHIN HDF PARLIAMENTARY FACTION. On 25 May 28 HDF
deputies set up a so-called "Hungarian Truth National Policy"
group within the party's parliamentary faction, MTI reports.
The group includes most of the deputies who recently voted against
the ratification of the Hungarian-Ukrainian bilateral treaty,
such as Istvan Csurka, Lajos Horvath, Gyula Zacsek, and Zsolt
Zetenyi. Zetenyi said the group's members feel responsible for
the fate of the nation, and want to promote social justice, secure
Hungarian and Christian values in education and culture, and
foster objectivity in mass media. Horvath said that while the
group was not led by Csurka, it would support him if he were
to be ousted from the HDF. The party has not yet reached a decision:
liberal HDF deputy Istvan Elek is calling for the ouster from
the party's parliamentary faction of Csurka and his close ally
Zacsek because of their extremist nationalist views. In an interview
in the 26 May Magyar hirlap, Csurka said his expulsion would
provoke the departure of many HDF members and deal a deadly blow
to the party. Party spokesman Karoly Herenyi estimates that 10%
of the HDF membership supports Csurka and would leave with him.
Alfred Reisch

TIME RUNS OUT FOR POLISH GOVERNMENT. Last-minute meetings with
opposition leaders do not seem to have improved the government's
chances in the no-confidence vote scheduled for 28 May. Prime
Minister Hanna Suchocka met separately with Democratic Left Alliance
(SLD) leader Aleksander Kwasniewski, Polish Peasant Party (PSL)
chairman Waldemar Pawlak, and Solidarity caucus leader Bogdan
Borusewicz on 26 May. Kwasniewski commented afterward that Suchocka
had given his party no good reason to change its mind; the SLD
voted shortly thereafter to impose caucus discipline for the
no-confidence vote, requiring all members to oppose the government.
The most promising sign was a curt "no comment" from Pawlak after
his meeting with the prime minister, but press reports speculate
that the PSL's conditions were as extensive as those voiced by
the SLD, and thus unacceptable to the government. The Sejm's
mood is generally hostile; three government reports were rejected
on 26 May. A motion to postpone the no-confidence vote for three
weeks, to allow both government and opposition "time for reflection,"
failed by a wide margin on 27 May, despite the fact that the
opposition has not been able to settle on a alternative candidate
for prime minister, let alone build a new coalition. -Louisa
Vinton

OPPOSITION "IRRESPONSIBLE," SUCHOCKA SAYS. The prime minister
opened the debate on the no-confidence vote on 27 May with a
defiant defense of her government and a warning that the current
conflict "puts the country in peril." She said the opposition
is "irresponsibile" for attempting to bring down the government
without presenting either an alternative program or a new majority
coalition. "It looks as if we are to leap from the diving board
without checking to see if there is water in the pool," Suchocka
said. She predicted that forming a new government would be even
more difficult than the creation of her own seven-party coalition
in July 1992. It was a paradox, she said, that the motion to
dismiss the government was submitted precisely when the economy
was showing signs of growth. She expressed surprise that Solidarity
had turned on the government and asked whether the union's threat
of a general strike in order to oust the government is compatible
with democracy. Poles expect three things from their elected
representatives, she concluded: agreement wherever possible,
the calm necessary for effective action, and hard work aimed
at improving the lot of citizens. Her government has not exhausted
its possibilities, she said, and remains prepared to pursue these
principles. -Louisa Vinton

FARMERS MARCH IN WARSAW. Several thousand protesters from all
four of Poland's farmers' unions and organizations marched on
government headquarters on 26 May. The farmers demanded the adoption
of a new agricultural policy that would, in their words, "put
a halt to the degradation of the Polish village." Farmers were
asked to bring a kilogram of straw each to dump in front of the
government's offices. After mediation by the Sejm's deputy speaker,
the government agreed to open talks with the four farmers' unions
in two weeks' time. As the joint protest suggested, shared hostility
to official policy may have overcome the traditional enmity among
the former official farmers' organizations, the radical Self-Defense
union, and Rural Solidarity. -Louisa Vinton

BOSNIA UPDATE. On 26 May, the UN Security Council agreed to set
up an 11-member court in the Hague to try war criminals in the
former Yugoslavia. In interviews with Sky News TV and Pale Radio,
Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic described the plan as an
"act of revenge by the German lobby" and cautioned that the tribunal
will "completely destroy the UN's credibility." He added that
as long as the "Serb Republic of Bosnia" is not internationally
recognized, all alleged criminals will be dealt with by the Bosnian
Serb judicial system. Meanwhile, a Bosnian Muslim-Croat cease-fire
commission resumed talks on 26 May amid an exchange of accusations
of cease-fire violations. Radios Bosnia and Croatia report that
both sides have agreed to release all prisoners detained during
recent fighting, establish joint "civilian police forces" to
patrol Mostar together with "EC police." Radio Croatia claims
that Muslim forces have distributed pamphlets in Mostar promising
to "destroy" the self-proclaimed Croatian Community of Herzeg-
Bosna. Radio Bosnia reports several villages around Kiseljak
have been burned down by Bosnian Croat forces, and captured Muslims
"tortured, beaten up, murdered, and raped." On the diplomatic
front, international mediator Thorvald Stoltenberg met with Bosnian
President Alija Izetbegovic in Sarajevo. Stoltenberg reportedly
assured Izetbegovic that the latest international "joint action
plan" does not recognize the legalization of Serbian gains in
Bosnia, and rejected Bosnian Muslim assertions that "safe havens"
amount to "ethnic reservations." Western agencies report that
Stoltenberg failed to alleviate Izetbegovic's misgivings. -Milan
Andrejevich

CHURCH URGES OUSTER OF SERBIAN LEADERS. After a week-long closed-door
meeting in Belgrade, the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church
issued a sharp statement accusing the leaders of Serbia, as well
as leaders of the Serb communities in Montenegro, Croatia, and
Bosnia, of being "those most responsible" for the suffering of
Serbs and other nationalities in the wars in the former Yugoslavia.
The statement described current Serbian nationalist leaders as
"products of the totalitarian and godless communist system" and
said that they should be "peacefully replaced by better, more
moral people." The statement also called for a government of
national unity to guide the destiny of all Serbs in Serbia, Croatia,
and Bosnia. and to prevent further divisions among the Serbian
people. The church leaders also called for an end to the hostilities
in Bosnia, and said that Muslims, Croats, and Serbs should all
enjoy the right of self-determination. Radio B92 carried the
report on 26 May. -Milan Andrejevich

SLOVAKIA OPPOSED TO TIGHTER BORDER CONTROLS. Interior Minister
Jozef Tuchyna told Cesky denik that Slovakia will not join Czech
efforts to tighten border controls between the Czech Republic
and Slovakia. The Czech daily quoted Tuchyna on 26 May as saying
that such border controls are unnecessary and would violate treaties
between the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Czech officials are
planning to tighten the border because they fear that refugees
trying to reach Germany from the former Soviet Union and the
Balkans would be stranded in the Czech Republic after arriving
via Slovakia. Under Germany's new asylum law, adopted on 26 May,
hundreds of thousands refugees could be expelled to the countries
through which they reached Germany. -Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK, CZECH ASSOCIATION AGREEMENTS WITH EC. On 26 May in Brussels
European Community and Slovak officials approved the final draft
of Slovakia's association agreement with the EC, Slovak media
report. The agreement should be initialed within two weeks and
the final version signed this summer. CTK reports that representatives
of the Czech Republic are expected to hold final talks on their
country's association agreement with the EC in Brussels on 27
May. The two association agreements are to replace an association
agreement signed by Czechoslovakia and the EC in 1991. -Jiri
Pehe

MEETING ON INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL AID FOR ROMANIA. Radio Bucharest
reported that a meeting took place on 26 May in Bucharest to
discuss practical steps for better coordinating international
financial assistance to Romania. The meeting was attended by
the chairman of Romania's Council for Coordination, Strategy
and Reform, Misu Negritoiu, Finance Minister Florin Georgescu,
Secretary of State in Charge of European Integration Napoleon
Pop, and representatives of the World Bank, the IMF, the EBRD,
the European Investment Bank, the PHARE program, and the US AID.
Discussions focused on a special program for industrial restructuring
and on ways to boost foreign investments in Romania. -Dan Ionescu


ROMANIAN BROADCAST WORKERS TO STRIKE. A strike is expected to
begin today in support of workers' demands for higher salaries
and administrative changes. According to an RFE/RL correspondent
in Bucharest, the Free Trade Union of Romanian Radio and TV has
promised to ensure that one-third of normal broadcasting will
continue during the strike. On 25 May union members voted overwhelmingly
to strike until their demands are met. -Dan Ionescu

MACEDONIAN FOREIGN MINISTER TO BUCHAREST. Stevo Crvenkovski,
deputy premier and acting foreign minister of the Republic of
Macedonia, paid a one-day visit to Bucharest on 25 May. Radio
Bucharest reports that Crvenkovski discussed bilateral relations
and the situation in former Yugoslavia with Foreign Minister
Teodor Melescanu. He was also received by President Ion Iliescu,
who recently visited Ljubljana, Zagreb, and Belgrade in an attempt
to help mediate in the Yugoslav crisis. -Dan Ionescu

BULGARIA: ECONOMIC ILLS COULD REINFORCE ETHNIC TENSION. Speaking
at a seminar on minority rights in Warsaw organized by the Conference
on Security and Cooperation in Europe, a Bulgarian official warned
that the increasingly difficult economic situation may heighten
tensions between the country's majority and minority communities,
an RFE/RL correspondent reports. Ilona Tomova, a consultant on
ethnic relations affiliated with Bulgaria's presidential office,
told the seminar on 26 May that unemployment in regions in southern
Bulgaria with ethnically mixed population is alarmingly high
and minority groups have begun to complain about discrimination.
Tomova said the Ministry of Labor has worked out several job-creation
projects and retraining programs but so far lacks funds to implement
them. She pointed out that minority rights nevertheless have
been significantly strengthened in legislation adopted after
1989. -Kjell Engelbrekt

GAGAUZ REJECT MOLDOVAN OFFER OF AUTONOMY. On 25 May Gagauz deputies
walked out of the session of Moldova's parliament debating the
future status of the Gagauz-inhabited area. The Moldovan and
Gagauz leaders had previously ironed out a plan for national-territorial
autonomy. During the debate, however, it became clear that the
bill would fall short of the two-thirds majority required for
passage. To help obtain a majority on 25 May the Moldovan leadership
submitted a watered-down version of the bill providing for local
administrative and cultural autonomy of the Gagauz and their
proportional representation in central government-a concession
still without par in postcommunist Eastern Europe. It was at
that point that the Gagauz deputies walked out. -Vladimir Socor


SHOKHIN IN UKRAINE. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Shokhin
met with Ukraine's Acting Deputy Prime Minister Vasilii Yevtukhov
on 26 May to discuss economic relations. The main points on the
agenda were Russian supplies of natural gas to Ukraine, its cost,
and its transport through Ukraine. On 27 May Ukrinform quoted
Yevtukhov as saying that Russia and Ukraine have agreed in principle
on the price of natural gas, and only a shortage of time prevented
negotiators from putting their agreements into written form.
Other local agencies suggest that agreement on price was not
reached, however. Russia has decided to charge world prices for
its oil and gas to the former Soviet republics and raised the
price of its oil to Ukraine last week, making the increase retroactive
from 1 April. Ustina Markus

WORLD BANK DISCUSSES AID TO BELARUS. Basil Kavalsky, director
of the World Bank's Europe and Central Asia Department, met with
Belarusian officials on 24 May. At a press conference in Paris
on the 26th, Kavalsky stated that Belarus may need as much as
$1-billion per year in aid, AFP reports. Belarus receives 90%
of its oil from Russia and has been hard hit by Russia's decision
to charge world market prices.--Ustina Markus

PLURALITY OF BELARUSIANS SUPPORT NEUTRALITY. A country-wide poll
conducted on 24-27-April by the Belarusian "Public Opinion" service
showed that 38% of the population supports parliament's recent
decision to sign the CIS collective security agreement while
45% oppose the vote. In order to convince the legislature and
the government of the error of its ways, Supreme Soviet Chairman
Stanislau Shushkevich and the Popular Front opposition faction
are currently working to organize a nationwide referendum to
confirm or reject Belarus's principle of military neutrality.
If the referendum is held, according to the poll results, 43%
would vote in favor of neutrality, 31% for collective security,
and 13% would not participate. Some 14-17% of Belarusians have
not made up their minds on the issue of neutrality and the referendum.--Kathy
Mihalisko

LATVIA REPORTS 1,245,530 ELECTORS. Juris Dombrovskis, head of
the Immigration and Citizenship Department told the Central Election
Commission on 26-May that so far 2,438,949 residents of Latvia
have been registered by his department; of these, 1,712,864 are
citizens of Latvia, Radio Riga reports. There are more than 2.6
million persons living in Latvia. Dombrovskis also said that
of those registered, 1,245,530 persons are eligible to vote-51%
of Latvian residents. In addition, over 21,786 Latvian citizens
were registered abroad (of these, 708 permanently reside in the
CIS) and most of them are also eligible to vote. Dzintra Bungs


CHEAP SUGAR FROM ABROAD SPOILS LATVIAN MARKET. Diena reported
on 24 May that contraband sugar continues to reach Latvian markets
and is being sold well under the normal prices, thereby undermining
the salability of locally produced sugar. Aivars Gulbis of the
Customs Department said that one explanation for the lower price
may be that the transporters fail to pay customs on the sugar
that they bring in. Briva zeme reported earlier this month that
three Russian ships were carrying the cheap sugar to Latvia under
the guise of transit goods and that some of this sugar seems
to reach the Latvian markets. Meanwhile, some 700 workers at
the sugar plant in Jelgava are threatened with layoffs. -Dzintra
Bungs

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Sheila Marnie 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),
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