There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in. - Graham Greene
RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 147, 04 August 1993







RUSSIA



BANKNOTES: EXCHANGE AND ACCUSATIONS CONTINUE. The Russian Central
Bank (RCB) stated on 3 August that nearly three-quarters of the
roughly 1-trillion rubles' worth of old banknotes in circulation
had been exchanged, ITAR-TASS reported. Nearly one-half of the
total had been exchanged for new banknotes, while the balance
had been deposited in savings accounts. The figures related to
official exchanges only. (The original RCB deadline for exchanges
of 7 August was subsequently amended to 31 August by President
Boris Yeltsin's decree of 26 July.) Meanwhile, charges and countercharges
persist. RCB Chairman Viktor Gerashchenko told Izvestiya on 27
July that parliamentary chairman Ruslan Khasbulatov had taken
part in planning the banknote exchange. Konstantin Borovoi, chairman
of the Economic Freedom Party, went further at a news conference
on 28 July: he declared that Khasbulatov had known about the
exchange on 23 July and implied that the parliamentary chairman
had profited financially from his prior knowledge. -Keith Bush


CURRENCY REFORM SUCCEEDED WHERE FEDOROV FAILED? THE WIDELY READ
BUSINESS WEEKLY, KOMMERSANT (NO. 30, 1993) has come out in strong
support of the currency reform undertaken by the Russian Central
Bank. The authors of an article "Asian Monetary Union Was Created
in Two Days" roundly criticize Deputy Prime Minister and Minster
of Finance Boris Fedorov for hypocrisy in his struggle against
the bank, claiming that the editorial board of Kommersant had
in their possession a document sent by Fedorov to the government
on 18 June urging a currency reform that would force the other
republics of the ruble zone to toe Moscow's monetary line or
introduce their own currencies. Fedorov's demand came after he
and Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Shokhin had for months tried
to force the republics to make this choice. "[RCB Chairman] Viktor
Gerashchenko in two days solved a problem that the best minds
of the Ministry of Finance had tackled for years," the authors
write. The authors assert that the central banks of Kazakhstan,
Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Armenia have agreed to join what
amounts to a monetary union under Russian Central Bank leadership
(Azerbaijan may do likewise). Fedorov's attacks are also denounced
as being part of his personal vendetta against the central bank.
-Erik Whitlock

KHASBULATOV FOR TWO-PARTY SYSTEM. Parliamentary speaker Khasbulatov
told local deputies in the city of Orel that the Russian parliament
wants "to enforce constitutional control over the activities
of the executive branch," Radio Rossii "Novosti" reported on
3-August. Khasbulatov stated that he favors more socially-oriented
reforms. Russian TV "Bisnes v Rossii" [Business in Russia] on
2 August quoted him as saying that two economic models are currently
competing in Russia: one advocating radical reforms; the other,
socially-oriented reforms under strict state control. In Khasbulatov's
opinion, a civilized solution could be found by the creation
of a two-party system in Russia, whereby the party which gathers
the majority of votes runs the country. -Alexander Rahr

YELTSIN MEETS REPORTERS, DENIES ILL-HEALTH. President Yeltsin
appeared in public for the first time in three weeks on 4 August,
thereby ending widespread speculation about the state of his
health. "I feel excellent. I am working intensively. My program
is very full," he told ITAR-TASS on the eve of a trip to Orel
to take part in ceremonies commemorating the fiftieth anniversary
of the WW II battle. Yeltsin said that plans to adopt Russia's
new draft constitution were making progress, and that he had
devised a formula that would accommodate both Russia's republics
and the regions which are seeking equal status with them within
the federation. The president also said that he planned to call
a meeting soon of the heads of the republics in order to discuss
their views of the draft, and he predicted that the constitutional
assembly would resume its work in September. -Dominic Gualtieri


LOCAL LEADERS IN SEARCH OF THEIR OWN PRESIDENT? AN ARTICLE IN
ROSSIISKIE VESTI ON 4 AUGUST SAYS THAT THE REPUBLICAN AND REGIONAL
LEADERS OF RUSSIA, WHO HAVE STRENGTHENED THEIR POSITIONS LATELY,
REJECT THE COUNTRY'S PRESENT TOP LEADERS BECAUSE THESE POLITICIANS
MADE THEIR CAREERS IN THE USSR GOVERNING STRUCTURES AND NEVER
RELIED ON REGIONAL SUPPORT. The local leaders advocate a political
system for Russia in which the head of state would be selected
from their ranks. But since the republics and regions are too
weak at present to introduce such a system, they have begun to
consider promoting their own candidate for the presidency from
among Russian politicians in the central structures who want
to ally themselves fully with regional politics. At present,
regional leaders seem to have a choice between two politicians:
Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai and former Secretary of
the Security Council Yurii Skokov. -Alexander Rahr

NEW REGULATIONS FOR OIL JV EXPORTS. The government has finally
formulated new guidelines for joint ventures (JVs) operating
in the Russian oil sector to export their output, the Journal
of Commerce reported on 3 August. JVs are restricted to exporting
only oil that they produce. On 1 June the government had banned
such exports, accusing JVs of exporting quantities exceeding
their production. The new decree states that the JVs will have
to provide the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations with an
estimate on how much oil they expect to produce in a given time
period in order to receive an export license. The decree also
insists that only oil refined by equipment owned by the JV may
be exported. If the company rents the equipment, only light distillates
may be exported. -Erik Whitlock

RUSSIAN UNEMPLOYMENT. Russian TV on 2 August reported on the
composition of the Russian unemployed. About 70% are reported
to be women, more than half of whom have children under 16 years
old. Despite the growth of unemployment (there are now over 1-million
registered non-employed jobseekers), enterprise demand has almost
doubled since the beginning of the year. The state employment
service at the beginning of July had notice of vacancies for
more than 500,000 jobs, most of them for skilled blue-collar
workers. At the end of June about 16,000 citizens were registered
as unemployed in Moscow, and there were 85,000 registered vacancies,
88% of which were for blue-collar workers, and 12% for engineers
and technicians. The average length of unemployment in Moscow
is 4 months. There are already complaints about "scroungers":
people who prefer not to work and are happy to receive unemployment
benefit while not actively seeking employment, and others who
have a second unofficial income on top of the benefit. It is
estimated that 10-20% of the registered unemployed are "scroungers".
-Sheila Marnie

AFTERMATH OF POLYANICHKO'S MURDER. The murder of Viktor Polyanichko,
the head of the interim administration in the area of the North
Ossetian-Ingush conflict, on 1 August continued to feature prominently
in the Russian media on 3 August. Komsomolskaya pravda speculated
that the murder could have been the work of Ingush, Ossetian,
or Armenian extremists, the latter having sentenced Polyanichko
to death for his role in Nagorno-Karabakh. Trud claimed that
he had also been sentenced to death by the Islamic fundamentalist
"Gray Wolves" in Azerbaijan. Russian Deputy Premier Sergei Shakhrai
had talks with both the Ingush and North Ossetian leaderships.
He told ITAR-TASS that the talks between the two sides would
be resumed at a meeting in Terek in Kabardino-Balkaria on 4-August
of the mixed commission for solving the refugee question. Yeltsin
and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin issued a joint statement
saying the president and government would do all in their power
to apprehend those guilty of the murder. Kazakhstan's President
Nursultan Nazarbaev said in a message of condolence that the
murder showed once again the need to work harder for the all-round
integration of the CIS states. -Ann Sheehy

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA



GEORGIA LEAVES RUBLE ZONE. In response to the Russian Central
Bank's invalidation of old rubles, Georgia officially withdrew
from the ruble zone on 2 August, Reuters reported. A new permanent
currency, the lari, will not be introduced until the economic
situation in war-torn Georgia has stabilized. Until then, the
only legal tender are the interim coupons introduced in April,
the value of which continues to plummet. Despite the ban on the
use of rubles, a number of businesses have continued to accept
the old currency, while others have simply closed their doors.
-Catherine Dale

RUSSIAN OFFICIAL TO SUKHUMI FOR TALKS. Sergei Shoigu, leader
of the Russian part of the tri-lateral United Commission for
settlement of the Abkhaz conflict, and Chairman of the Russian
State Committee for Emergency Situations, traveled to the Abkhaz
capital Sukhumi on 3 August to meet with Aleksandr Kavsadze,
the personal representative of the Georgian head of state, and
with Abkhaz leaders, ITAR-TASS reported. Participants discussed
both the work which Shoigu's committee will undertake in Sukhumi
to separate the warring sides and to facilitate the withdrawal
of troops, and the introduction of peacekeeping forces into the
zone of conflict. -Catherine Dale

TAJIKISTAN UPDATE. Russia's First Deputy Minister of Foreign
Affairs Anatolii Adamishin, on a trip through Central Asia to
discuss the situation in Tajikistan, met Turkmenistan's President
Saparmurad Niyazov on 3-August and was told that Turkmenistan
will not participate in any joint military actions in Tajikistan,
ITAR-TASS reported. Niyazov continues to insist on a political
solution in Tajikistan. Adamishin complained to the press about
what he characterized as the shortsightedness of the sentiment
he has encountered in Central Asia that Russian troops should
be withdrawn from Tajikistan. The same day Tajik government forces
were reported to have begun an offensive against armed opposition
groups in Gorno-Badakhshan, in apparent violation of a promise
to Badakhshani authorities that government troops would not operate
in the autonomous oblast. -Bess Brown

KOZYREV: RUSSIA'S GOALS IN TAJIKISTAN. Russia's national interests
dictate that it play a forceful role in Tajikistan, Russian Foreign
Minister Andrei Kozyrev wrote in the 4-August issue of Izvestiya.
As summarized by ITAR-TASS, Kozyrev said that Russia's presence
in Tajikistan is aimed at preventing renewal of the civil war
there, at providing security for Tajikistan's multi-national
population, at helping Tajikistan along the path of democracy
and national reconciliation, and at ensuring that the region
as a whole does not fall prey to political extremism. On the
last point, Kozyrev appeared to be casting Russian policy in
terms that would win sympathy in the West, and particularly in
the US. He warned that these "extremist" forces existed not only
in Afghanistan, but in Iran and Pakistan as well, and that they
embraced policies, including international terrorism, that could
destabilize the entire region. Kozyrev said that Russia would
move to mobilize its partners in the CIS, in the West, and among
moderate Arab leaders. He added that Russia supported the participation
of UN and CSCE affiliated peacekeeping forces in Tajikistan.
-Stephen Foye

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE



BOSNIAN UPDATE. Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic boycotted
the Geneva peace talks on 3 August protesting Serb actions around
Sarajevo, but late in the night he joined a session with Croatian
President Franjo Tudjman and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic,
international media report. According to a UN spokesman, Serb
attacks on Mt. Igman near Sarajevo continue. The Washington Post
reports that the negotiations bogged down over deep divisions
on whether Sarajevo should be partitioned between Serbs and Muslims,
while three Croat members of the Bosnian collective presidency
accused the Bosnian army of committing "ethnic cleansing and
barbaric massacres" in Croat villages located in central Bosnia
and northern Herzegovina. They accused Izetbegovic of no longer
representing the multiethnic government and acting only to defend
the interests of his own Muslim people. Bosnian troops have captured
Travnik, Kakanj, Fojnica, and Bugojno in recent months. According
to the commander of the UN troops there, Gornij Vakuf fell on
2-August after a two-week fight. -Fabian Schmidt

CROATIA TO REFLOAT MASLENICA BRIDGE. Hina on 3 August quoted
transportation and construction officials as saying that the
pontoon bridge sunk by the Serbs on 2 August will be back in
operation by the end of the week. They added that work has already
begun and hoped that the international community and other European
countries might help with the costs. Meanwhile, Borba of 4 August
quotes President Franjo Tudjman as telling his monthly press
conference that Croatian troops will not withdraw from the area,
and that Zagreb now considers the July agreement under which
they were to have done so as null and void. He repeated Croatia's
demand that Serb artillery near the Maslenica bridge, Zemunik
airport, and Peruca dam be put under UN supervision, which the
Serbs have refused to do. Tudjman suggested that the shelling
was the work of extremists, noting that Serbian President Slobodan
Milosevic and Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic by contrast
seem interested in a comprehensive improvement in relations with
Croatia. -Patrick Moore

NATO MEETING WARNS OF "STRONGER MEASURES." An announcement following
the NATO meeting in Brussels on 3 August declares that the "dire
humanitarian situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Sarajevo" is
"unacceptable," and said that NATO has "decided to make immediate
preparations for undertaking, in the event that the strangulation
of Sarajevo and other areas continues, . . . stronger measures
including air strikes against those responsible, Bosnian Serbs
and others." The allies would also consult with the international
mediators Thorwald Stoltenberg and Lord Owen, both of whom have
generally opposed the use of force, international media report.
Owen said that the NATO announcement shows that the alliance
supported the peace talks. Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic
charged the NATO with sabotaging the negotiations, saying: "We
have been just close to the solution and then those threats come
in, and the Muslims are reluctant to talk because they now have
hopes of military intervention." -Fabian Schmidt

SERB BARGES VIOLATE EMBARGO. Romanian custom authorities say
a Serb oil barge convoy violated the UN embargo by forcing its
way through the locks on the frontier dam along the Danube river
on the night of 1-2 August. The customs director told Radio Bucharest
on 3 August that the gates had been opened to let a Ukrainian
vessel pass through, and the Serbian tugboat Velebit, towing
11 empty oil barges, forced its way through, disregarding warnings
to stop by port authorities and border guards. -Michael Shafir


SLAVE WAGES AND NEAR STARVATION IN SERBIA. Belgrade TV on 3 August
cites a federal health commission report saying there has been
a sharp rise in the mortality rate since introduction of international
sanctions. The commission is urging the UN Security Council to
speed up approval of humanitarian aid for Serbia-Montenegro.
Belgrade TV also quotes Borivoj Vracaric of Belgrade University's
Medical School as saying the majority of the urban population
is on the brink of starvation and that the first signs of widespread
clinical malnutrition are expected by early winter. He warned
that the population will be exposed to tuberculosis and other
infectious diseases. Tests conducted by health officials show
that half of Belgrade's children suffer from anemia and that
nearly half of army draftees from Vojvodina are undernourished
and declared unfit for military service. Basing its information
on analyses from leading economists, Vreme comments in its latest
issue that the salaries of workers in Yugoslavia are less than
those earned by slaves who built the pyramids of ancient Egypt.
The average monthly wage of workers now stands at about $8.70
and economists expect the average wage in September to dwindle
to about $2. A general strike called by trade union leaders in
protest is expected to begin on 5 August. -Milan Andrejevich


KLAUS, KOZENY COMMENT ON SPYING SCANDAL. Speaking on Czech TV
on 3 August, Viktor Kozeny, president of Harvard Capital and
Consulting, the largest investment fund in the Czech Republic,
reiterated his earlier position that he has been a victim of
extortion by Vaclav Wallis, an agent of the former Federal Bureau
of Intelligence and Security, from whom, after agreeing to pay,
he received various information, including that on private lives
of some politicians. Kozeny reacted to allegations in the media
that he actively sought to buy sensitive information from Wallis.
Kozeny rejected as "absurd" allegations that the information
provided by Wallis was used in shaping the HC&C's investment
strategy. Wallis also said that the information supplied by Wallis
was just worthless gossip. He said that the HC&C's success is
a result of hard work for which "we do not need the advice of
secret agents." According to Kozeny, it is alarming that the
intelligence services have gotten out of control, with agents
extorting entrepreneurs and politicians. In a related development,
Czech Premier Vaclav Klaus dismissed the spy scandal as "a soap
bubble" that appeared when all leading politicians had left for
vacation and the press had "nothing to write about." He said
he is not afraid of revelations about his private life. Klaus
acknowledged he was not fully familiar with the Wallis affair
and indicated that he may take steps to review the activities
of intelligence services. -Jiri Pehe

UPDATE ON JIU VALLEY STRIKE. Romania's striking coal miners decided
to continue their work stoppage and rejected an invitation to
send representatives to Bucharest to meet the government. The
decision followed a telephone conversation between miners' leader
Miron Cosma and Premier Nicolae Vacaroiu, in the course of which
Cosma once more threatened the miners might come to Bucharest
in force. Among other things, he told Vacaroiu that the Locomotive
Drivers' Union, which is staging a protest in Bucharest, has
asked the miners to come to the capital. The conversation was
carried by Romanian TV on 3 August. On the same day Radio Bucharest
carried a declaration by Vacaroiu in which he again refused to
come to the valley. He said giving the miners more money would
mean taking it away from someone else. In an apparent attempt
to build political capital, Gheorghe Funar, the controversial
leader of the extreme nationalist Party of Romanian National
Unity, arrived to Petrosani and said he had tried to convince
Vacaroiu to come and talk to the miners, but failed. On the other
hand, the opposition Party of Civic Alliance, the Liberal Party
'93, and the Democratic Party (NSF) issued statements blaming
the government for the conditions of the economy and the problems
of the miners, but clearly distanced themselves from the demands.
Finally, the Federation of Miners' Union, the largest grouping
of unions representing miners outside the Jiu Valley, stated
the striking miners' demands were too high and may trigger "national
resentment" towards them. -Michael Shafir

ROMANIAN TRADE UNION LEADER CALLS FOR COALITION. Victor Ciorbea,
the head of Romania's largest trade union confederation, told
Reuters on 3-August that the country could face "uncontrollable
social explosions" unless a coalition government replaces the
present minority government of Nicolae Vacaroiu. Ciorbea said
Romania is crossing the "hardest period of social, economic,
and even political crisis since December 1989." Against the background
of mounting labor unrest in the Jiu Valley Ciorbea, who has denounced
the miners' action, said the new coalition should include representatives
of the unions and the political forces of the opposition, along
with the ruling Party of Social Democracy. In this coalition,
he added, there should be no room for the extremist, nationalist,
or chauvinist parties. In his view, the new coalition would give
world lenders, such as the World Bank and the IMF, more faith
in Romania's commitment to free-market democracy. -Michael Shafir


OPPOSITION SOCIALISTS CONTINUE TO BATTLE ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT.
The crisis precipitated by the arrest and imprisonment last week
of Socialist Party leader Fatos Nano continues to provoke tensions.
Nano's arrest was followed by the detention of Thoma Gellci,
editor-in-chief of the Socialist daily Zeri i Popullit, and former
Minister of Internal Trade Robert Gjini. Gellci was released
after questioning, while Zeri i Popullit reports on 3 August
that the editor of the Socialist paper Berati was also arrested,
along with the leader of Albania's Eurosocialist Forum. Aleanca
reports on 3 August that a former director of Albanian TV has
also been arrested. This wave of arrests, particularly Nano's,
is viewed by some as an attempt by the government to silence
opposition. Clashes between police and demonstrators were reported
at a Socialist sponsored rally on 30 July reportedly attended
by some 50,000 people; two Socialist Party members were allegedly
beaten by police and 150-demonstrators arrested. While some parliamentary
deputies outside the ruling Democratic Party took part in the
vote to remove Nano's parliamentary immunity last week, his arrest
has been widely criticized in the Albanian and foreign media,
especially because Nano remains an elected deputy with responsibilities
to his constituency in Kucove. Albania's Socialists are circulating
a petition for the release of Nano and the arrested demonstrators.
President Sali Berisha is under increasing pressure from extremist
elements in his party to take a harder line against "former communists."
However, these actions will not only fuel concerns raised that
Berisha is becoming increasingly authoritarian, but further discredit
the ruling Democratic Party. Robert Austin

BULGARIAN SECURITY OFFICIALS IN "BULGARIZATION" TRIAL. Five officials
of the former Bulgarian State Security are standing trial in
Ruse for crimes committed in connection with the 1984-89 forced
assimilation program against ethnic Turks, Demokratsiya reports
on 3-4 August. The officials could receive three-year prison
sentences. The prosecution says that in 1989 the officials violated
the "national and racial equality" of Bulgarian citizens by first
applying unnecessary force against the Turks, and then keeping
them in an improvised labor camp for several weeks. The Turks
had been protesting against the assimilation scheme. It is the
first time civil servants are being prosecuted for their actions
during the "Bulgarization" campaign. The five exofficials reject
all charges, saying they treated the Turks according to the law.
Two of the defendants are currently employed in the National
Security Service, the successor organization of the disbanded
State Security. -Kjell Engelbrekt

RUSSIAN TROOPS HALT WITHDRAWAL FROM POLAND. The withdrawal of
the last remaining organized Russian military unit from Poland
was halted on 3 August by Russian troop commander Gen. Leonid
Kovalev, PAP reports. The unit, a strategic communications brigade
located in Rembertow outside Warsaw that once controlled crucial
links with Berlin, was to have departed on 3 August. Loaded freight
cars were reported waiting on a railway siding late in the day.
In an official communique, the Polish government described the
Russian move as "an unprecedented act of lawlessness" and said
it is treating the halt as a "caprice" on Kovalev's part that
runs contrary to the Russian government's intentions. Gen. Zdzislaw
Ostrowski, the Polish government official responsible for Russian
troops, lodged a "sharp protest" but received no response. Kovalev's
move apparently caught Russian foreign ministry personnel off
guard; officials there were unwilling to criticize Kovalev but
stressed that the troop withdrawal will continue. Polish TV reports
that 1,100 Russian soldiers and 1,900 civilians and dependents
now remain in Poland. Reporters for Gazeta Wyborcza who visited
the Rembertow site on 2 August were greeted by empty-handed Russian
soldiers who told them, "You've arrived too late-we've already
sold everything." -Louisa Vinton

THE ROOT OF THE CONFLICT. Kovalev's move was designed to pressure
Poland to yield to Russian demands on the location of the 30-man
military mission that is to supervise the Russian troop withdrawal
from eastern Germany. Kovalev charged that the Polish failure
to cooperate could jeopardize the timetable for the German withdrawal.
Negotiations had been underway on the mission issue for weeks.
Kovalev would like it housed in existing facilities, while the
Polish government wants the mission headquartered at the Russian
embassy. Russian officials claimed on 3 August that the mission's
presence would effectively "militarize" the embassy. Polish officials
responded that alternate quarters could be made available, provided
the Russians explain why they are renting embassy space for commercial
purposes. Kovalev's resort to unilateral measures came as a surprise
to the Polish government; a former Polish negotiator had expressed
satisfaction in an interview on 2-August that the withdrawal
was proceeding "in European style." Still, the Russian announcement
did not seem to cause much alarm; the story was the ninth item
on the Polish TV news on 3-August, following a report on rising
telephone prices. -Louisa Vinton

RUSSIA REJECTS UKRAINE'S DECISION ON SS-24'S. On 3 August Russian
Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigorii Karasin criticized the recent
assertion by Ukrainian leaders that Kiev would hold onto its
46 SS-24 strategic nuclear missiles even after ratification of
START-1. According to AFP, Karasin said that Russia cannot accept
Ukraine's self-proclaimed "temporary status as a nuclear power."
Russian officials have argued that all nuclear weapons in the
former USSR belong only to Russia, and they have accused Ukraine
of harboring ambitions to become a nuclear power. -Stephen Foye


MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT TAKES UP CIS RATIFICATION. A special session
of parliament that opened on 3 August and is scheduled to last
until the 5th includes on the agenda the question of ratifying
Moldova's membership of the CIS (which Moldova joined at the
Alma-Ata summit of December 1991) and the subsequent CIS commitments
signed by President Mircea Snegur. Virtually all of these commitments
are economic, Moldova having consistently declined to join in
political or military undertakings. Addressing parliament on
3 August, Snegur and Prime Minister Andrei Sangheli urged ratification,
citing economic factors which in their view compel Moldova to
join in an economic union of the CIS states. Parliament Chairman
Petru Lucinschi in his turn went on television to urge ratification.
Moldova's situation, he continued, is complicated by Russia's
mistaken perception that Moldova seeks to join Romania, whereas
Romania misperceives Moldova's policy as pro-Russian. -Vladimir
Socor

COMMISSION FORMED ON CASE OF MUTINOUS ESTONIAN UNIT. Baltic media
reported on 3 August that a special commission, headed by Transportation
and Communication Minister Andi Meister, has been formed to analyze
the conflicts concerning the rebellious Estonian infantry unit
at Pullapaa. On 2 August the infantry unit sent a letter revoking
its previous statement that it wants withdraw from the Estonian
defense forces. The following day the government suspended its
decision on the disbanding of the unit. Prime Minister Mart Laar
told the press on 3 August that the government will make its
final decision on the fate of the unit after it receives the
commission report. Laar's statements were sharply criticized
by Deputy Peeter Lorents, who claims that the government is mishandling
the case. It is also possible that parliament may also consider
the case next week. -Dzintra Bungs

YELTSIN PARDONS PARFENOV. Baltic media reported on 3 August that
Russian President Boris Yeltsin has issued a decree pardoning
Sergei Parfenov sentenced to four years' imprisonment by a Latvian
court on charges of abuse of authority. Parfenov was deputy chief
of the Riga OMON unit and was reportedly involved in the OMON
attack on the Ministry of Internal Affairs in January 1991 and
other unlawful activities in 1990 and 1991. Following an interstate
accord allowing prisoners to serve out their sentences in their
homeland, Parfenov was returned to Russia on 31 July. Parfenov
is returning to Tyumen, where most of the Riga OMON men were
transferred after Latvia regained its independence in August
1991. -Dzintra Bungs

[As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Wendy Slater and Charles Trumbull











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