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No. 166, 31 August 1993
RUSSIA FILATOV: USSR BEARS NO GUILT FOR KAL DISASTER. Ten years after the shooting down of a Korean Airlines civilian airliner a special Russian commission investigating the disaster has concluded that the Soviet Union "bears no guilt for the incident," The Washington Post reported on 31 August. According to Sergei Filatov, the Russian President's chief of staff and the head of the commission, "the tragedy was the result of a whole chain of mistakes and coincidences and not of deliberate or malicious intent." According to ITAR-TASS of 30-August, Filatov said that the investigators had rejected conclusions drawn by the US administration in 1983 that Moscow had deliberately shot down a civilian aircraft and allegations by the Soviet leadership that the Boeing 747 was actually on a spy mission over the Russian Far East. The Washington Post noted that, while the commission's findings were similar to those released in June by the International Civil Aviation Organization of Canada, they offered a more sweeping exoneration of the Soviet authorities. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. NO COMPENSATION FOR KOREAN VICTIMS? THE SOUTH KOREAN GOVERNMENT REACTED WITH CONSTERNATION TO THE RUSSIAN ANNOUNCEMENT, SAYING THAT, WHILE IT HAD NOT YET RECEIVED OFFICIAL WORD FROM MOSCOW, EXPECTATIONS WERE THAT RUSSIA WOULD USE THE COMMISSION'S RESULTS TO JUSTIFY NOT PAYING COMPENSATION TO KOREAN VICTIMS OF THE AIR DISASTER. The majority of the Boeing 747's 269 passengers were South Korean or Japanese. According to Reuters on 31 August, South Korean government officials said that their position remained unchanged and that they would continue to press Russia for compensation. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. SOUTH KOREA TO FREEZE LOANS TO RUSSIA. A South Korean Foreign Ministry official on 30 August announced that Seoul would freeze the disbursement of the remaining $1.53 billion portion of a $3 billion loan and aid package that had been granted the Soviet Union in September 1990, Reuters reported. South Korean officials denied that the move was connected to the findings of the KAL commission. YONHAP quoted South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Hong Sun-yong as saying that the decision did not constitute a penalty against Moscow for failing to meet repayment schedules either. He claimed that Moscow itself had decided it no longer needed the loan because the interest on repayment was too high. Hong also emphasized once again that Seoul was not interested in accepting Russian military goods as repayment for the loan. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIAN FLEET ARRIVES IN SOUTH KOREA. The next day, on 31 August, a Russian naval commander visiting South Korea nevertheless repeated the Russian offer to supply South Korea with military hardware. Admiral Igor Khmelnov was leading a small contingent of vessels from the Pacific Fleet on an official visit to the port city of Pusan. AFP, quoting South Korean defense officials, described the visit as the first by a Russian fleet since the 1904 Russo-Japanese War. Khmelnov expressed hope that the goodwill visit would lead to joint Russian-South Korean naval exercises. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. ESA CONSIDERING SPACE COOPERATION WITH RUSSIA. The planning director of the European Space Agency (ESA), Jean-Jacques Dorian, told reporters on 30 August that Europe is keen to promote space cooperation with Russia, Reuters reported. He said that the agency had already signed contracts worth millions of dollars with a number of Russian firms. Dorian was in Moscow to attend a Russian aerospace show. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIA STILL SERIOUS ABOUT YELTSIN'S VISIT TO JAPAN. Japanese Deputy Foreign Minister Kunihiko Saito said on 30 August that Russia still seemed "serious" about arranging a visit to Japan by Russian President Boris Yeltsin in mid-October, Kyodo reported. Saito's remarks, made in the wake of a two-day meeting with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Georgii Kunadze, came amid growing indications of strong opposition in Moscow to any sort of Russian-Japanese deal on the disputed Kuril Islands. Saito said that talks on the proposed visit would continue via diplomatic channels. Stephen Foye , RFE/RL, Inc. SHUMEIKO ON COUNCIL OF THE FEDERATION. First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Shumeiko said at a press conference during a visit to St. Petersburg that the present Supreme Soviet has outlived itself as a political organ, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 August. He stated that the newly created Council of the Federation should quickly transform itself from a consultative body into a powerful upper-house of parliament, as foreseen in the most recent draft of the new Constitution. The next step would be the election of the lower chamber-the State Duma-to which, according to Shumeiko, a number of "smart deputies" from the present parliament might be reelected. Shumeiko said he believes fruitful cooperation between government and parliament is no longer possible. Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, Inc. FILATOV ON BARANNIKOV'S SUCCESSOR. The Russian president's chief of staff, Sergei Filatov, told Komsomolskaya pravda in an interview on 28 August that a decision concerning the appointment of a new minister of security has been taken and would be announced "probably the day this interview is published." He said that former Security Minister Viktor Barannikov had to go because his wife had received presents amounting to a value of $300,000 from a Swiss company which was seeking business contacts in Russia. He claimed that similar corruption charges against First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Shumeiko were a political provocation. He also revealed that major personnel decisions in the Kremlin are presently being taken by President Boris Yeltsin, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and himself. He described Chernomyrdin as the second most powerful politician in Russia after Yeltsin. Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, Inc. CREATION OF INTERREGIONAL-CENTRIST BLOC ENVISIONED. Various democratic parties and groups conducted a joint seminar on the political and economic future of Russia in Moscow, ITAR-TASS reported on 28-August. The seminar was initiated by the reformist deputies' faction "Consent for Progress." Participants in the seminar called for the creation of a new pre-electoral bloc of center/left forces called "Interregional-Centrist Bloc." The Interregional Group of People's Deputies was the first democratic organization in the former parliament of the Soviet Union. The head of the Russian Movement for Democratic Reform, Gavriil Popov, suggested the holding of simultaneous parliamentary and presidential elections as a way out of the crisis. Economist Grigorii Yavlinsky said that the present government's struggle for halting inflation should be conducted after questions regarding privatization and decentralization of the former planned economy were solved. Another economist, Nikolai Shmelev, called for a coalition of democrats with the industrialists. Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, Inc. SUPPORT FOR PRIVATE AGRICULTURE. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture Aleksandr Zaveryukha stated that in the first six months of the year the government had given a total of 94 billion rubles in credits to private farms, or 20% of all credits issued to the agricultural sector, according to ITAR-TASS on 27-August. He warned, however, that the government would have to guard against the misuse of such funds. He gave the example of about 200 farmers in the Smolensk region who had appropriated state-loaned funds for financing non-agricultural commercial activity. Zaveryukha expects the limitations on the sale of land to be removed soon to enable the merger of small private farms into larger, more efficient enterprises. Erik Whitlock, RFE/RL, Inc. OIL EXPORT LICENSES LIMITED. An official of the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations told Reuters on 30 August that the number of companies allowed to export oil or petroleum products will be limited to ten. Other enterprises wishing to export will have to channel their sales through the licensed companies. The declared aims of the limitation are to bring order to the oil export market and to ensure that hard-currency earnings are repatriated to Russia. Export licenses have been awarded to three Russian companies so far: it is not known whether joint ventures will be given licenses. Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA CUTS IN MOSCOW'S FOREIGN BROADCASTS? IN AN ARTICLE ENTITLED "THEY MIGHT NOT HEAR MOSCOW ABROAD," PUBLISHED IN IZVESTIYA OF 19 AUGUST, THE CHAIRMAN OF RADIO MOSCOW INTERNATIONAL DEPLORES PROPOSED CUTS IN EXTERNAL BROADCASTS. It has been suggested that, for financial reasons, Radio Moscow's broadcasts to foreign countries be reduced by 40%, including transmissions to China and India. He notes that this is being considered at a time when the US government is planning to establish Radio Free Asia. He claims that Radio Moscow International commands the second largest share of the world audience after the BBC. Keith Bush TAJIK LEADER ON TALKS IN AFGHANISTAN. Tajikistan's head of state, Supreme Soviet Chairman Imomali Rakhmonov, returned to Dushanbe on 30-August after talks in Kabul with Afghanistan's President Burhaniddin Rabbani, ITAR-TASS and the official Tajik TIA-Khovar news agency reported. Rakhmonov told correspondents that he was satisfied with the results of the talks, which had included an agreement on the creation of a trilateral commission composed of representatives of Tajikistan, Afghanistan and the United Nations' High Commissioner on Refugees. The commission is to organize the return to Tajikistan of the thousands of Tajik refugees who have been in Afghanistan since January 1993. Rakhmonov brought back to Dushanbe the four Russian border guards and the officer from Kazakhstan's battalion stationed on the Tajik-Afghan border who had been captured by an Afghan military group and held as hostages since 10-August. Bess Brown , RFE/RL, Inc. AZERBAIJAN REFERENDUM UPDATE. In a communication to RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service on 30 August, Azerbaijani President Abulfaz Elchibey rejected as "ludicrous" preliminary figures showing a 100% turnout in some districts in the 29 August referendum on confidence in him. Azerbaijan Popular Front supporters told Western journalists that there had been serious procedural violations. On 31 August AFP cited an Azerbaijani election official as similarly rejecting a report by ITAR-TASS on 30 August that 93% of those who voted had expressed their lack of confidence in Elchibey. A US State Department spokesman reaffirmed support for Elchibey as Azerbaijan's legally elected president. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. CSCE KARABAKH MEETING POSTPONED. A meeting of the nine-nation Minsk Group that is attempting to mediate a settlement of the Karabakh conflict that was scheduled to open in Moscow on 30 August has been postponed, according to a correspondent for RFE/RL's Russian Broadcasting Department. The delay was reportedly requested by Azerbaijan in connection with the 29 August referendum; however, Russia's negotiator for Karabakh has in recent weeks repeatedly cast doubts on the efficacy of CSCE involvement. Meanwhile Iran is offering advice and assistance to the flood of Azerbaijani refugees displaced by recent fighting close to the Azerbaijan-Iranian border, a spokesman for the United Nations' High Commissioner on Refugees told an RFE/RL correspondent on 30 August. A spokesman for the Karabakh authorities in Stepanakert has expressed willingness to hold talks on solving the refugee problem, AFP reported. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE TROOPS LEAVE LITHUANIA. Russian troops will officially complete their departure from Lithuania on 31-August, Radio Lithuania reports. National Defense Minister Audrius Butkevicius and Col. Gen. Leonid Mayorov, commander of the Northwestern Group of Forces, are scheduled to sign a document certifying its completion at 16:00 GMT in the Lithuanian parliament. There are still about 300 Russian soldiers in the republic; about 100 will remain in the Radviliskis Raion to guard and load ammunition from warehouses (an operation to be completed by the end of the year) and an additional 41 will remain in Klaipeda until 15 October to finalize the legal transfer of the Russian military facilities there to Lithuania. -Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. UN MISSION ON BALTIC TROOPS WITHDRAWAL ON 30 AUGUST A UN DELEGATION HEADED BY SPECIAL ENVOY TOMMY KOH HELD TALKS IN MOSCOW WITH LEADERS OF THE RUSSIAN DELEGATIONS NEGOTIATING TROOP WITHDRAWALS FROM ESTONIA, LATVIA, AND LITHUANIA, BNS REPORTS. Koh also met Russian Deputy Defense Minister Boris Gromov and on 31 August he will hold talks with Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Shokhin and other Russian leaders. He will visit Lithuania (31 August-3 September), Latvia (3-6 September). and Estonia (6-7 September) before returning to Moscow (8-9 September). His talks will help UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali prepare a report on the withdrawal as required by a UN General Assembly resolution passed unanimously on 25 November 1992. -Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. GENEVA TALKS TO RESUME. Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic again warned the Bosnian government to sign the proposed peace plan, adding that they could lose everything by continuing to fight. International media on 30 and 31 August also quote UN officials as saying Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic will be under pressure from mediators to abandon demands for revision of the plan. Leaving for Geneva, Izetbegovic said that "the plan is worse than war" and added that he feels "like a thirsty man who is sent to the desert to find water," Borba reported on 31 August. According to the New York Times, a Croatian spokesman expressed unhappiness with the proposal but said that his delegation will agree "if everyone else is willing to sign." Meanwhile in Geneva the International Committee of the Red Cross and Switzerland have organized an emergency conference on the protection of war victims, which is to speed up the creation of an international war crimes tribunal. ICRC President Cornelio Sommaruga said: "There must be a tribunal where those who murder, torture and rape civilians or prisoners can be put on trial for their crimes, otherwise the international conventions-.-.-. are meaningless." -Fabian Schmidt, RFE/RL, Inc. CROATIA PROMISES RED CROSS ACCESS TO CAMPS. The BBC's Serbian and Croatian Services said on 30 August that Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic assured the ICRC that Croatian detention centers in Bosnia-Herzegovina will be open to their representatives by the next day. International observers have been sharply critical of conditions in Croat-run camps, and Granic has been active lately in damage control operations to help ensure that bad behavior by the Herzegovinian Croats does not reflect poorly on Croatia itself. Meanwhile, recent days have seen much political activity in Croatia, with President Franjo Tudjman receiving the Bosnian Muslim leader of the "Bihac pocket," Fikret Abdic, at Tito's former resort on Brioni on 29 August, Vecernji list reported. Elsewhere, Vjesnik of 30 August and Borba of the 31st discuss edthe meeting in Croatia of 62 representatives of Balkan-area left-of-center parties and labor unions on the theme of "peace and cooperation." Finally, Vecernji list ran a poll in its 30 August issue suggesting that most Croats feel positively about the Roman Catholic church's present role in society, politics, and the media, and want neither an increase nor a decrease in it. -Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. BELGRADE ISSUES BILLION-DINAR NOTE. On 30-August the National Bank of Yugoslavia issued a billion-dinar bank note in an attempt to keep up with soaring inflation. The new note is worth only $3 at the current exchange rate. The economy is collapsing because of international sanctions, government mismanagement, and the burden of financing Serb fighters in Croatia and Bosnia. GNP has fallen some 70% since 1991. More than half the work force is either unemployed or on extended leave of absence, and the latest monthly inflation figures released by the government on 30 August place the July rate at 1,880%-an annual rate of almost 1.7 billion percent. Radio Serbia carried the report. -Milan Andrejevich, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVENIA'S ECONOMIC WOES. During the first half of 1993, Slovenia lost more than 1.4 billion German marks in revenue, some 50% more than during the same period in 1992. Half of Slovenia's 23,300 companies, which employ more than 486,000 workers, are on the brink of collapse. Over the past few months, nearly 2,500 companies have had their bank accounts frozen, and close to 100 of the former leading companies in Slovenia face bankruptcy. Unemployment, which stood below 2% in 1988 is currently 14%. Analysts at the famed Bajt Institute in Ljubljana note that the country has been stripped of some 17 million purchasers from the republics of the former Yugoslavia and that it will take years to regain those markets, which in 1990 accounted for some 35% of the total goods sold. Tanjug and Radios Croatia and Serbia carried the reports on 29-30 August. -Milan Andrejevich, RFE/RL, Inc. KLAUS CALLS FOR MORE WESTERN AID. Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus called on Western leaders to show more courage in helping former communist countries deal with economic problems, Western agencies reported on 30 August. Speaking in Stockholm where he was meeting with Prime Minister Carl Bildt, Klaus said that recession, protectionism, unemployment, and domestic politics have combined to reduce aid from the West. "I would expect more courage from Western politicians to tackle that issue," Klaus added. The Czech prime minister also said that his country will be ready to apply for membership in the EC within two years. He said the Czech Republic already could fulfill entrance requirements better than almost all current members. -Jan Obrman, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAK MAGYARS WRITE TO COUNCIL OF EUROPE. International and Slovak media report that representatives of four parties representing ethnic Hungarians in Slovakia (Coexistence, Hungarian Christian Democratic Movement, Hungarian Civic Party, and Hungarian People's Party) announced on 30 August that they will write to the Council of Europe to complain about what they consider unkept promises on minority rights made by the government. A spokesman for Coexistence told the media that the Council of Europe should take a special interest in Slovakia's actions because it accepted the country as a member in July on the basis of promises to allow the use of bilingual Hungarian and Slovak road signs as well as the official use of Hungarian first and family names. Yet in July Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar refused to sign a law allowing the use of Hungarian names, and the Slovak Ministry of Transportation recently ordered the removal of Hungarian road signs. Ethnic Hungarian leaders promised to send a letter to the CE at a protest rally staged by ethnic Hungarians in Komarno on 27 August. -Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc. POLAND, SLOVAKIA SIGN READMISSION AGREEMENT. On 30 August Slovak Interior Minister Jozef Tuchyna and his Polish counterpart, Andrzej Milcza-nowski, signed an agreement in Bratislava allowing the return of refugees who cross the Polish-Slovak border. TASR reports that Milczanowski noted the success of Poland's previous readmission agreements with Russia and Ukraine, which have led to a rapid drop in the number of refugees trying to cross Poland into Germany. Slovakia is to sign a similar agreement with Romania on 19 September when the Romanian Interior Minister visits Bratislava. Tuchyna told journalists that Hungary had demanded that a Slovak-Romanian accord be completed before it signs a similar pact with Slovakia. -Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc. IMF APPROVES POLAND'S ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE. A visiting IMF mission gave Poland high marks on 30 August for compliance with the terms set in the standby arrangement agreed upon in November 1992. Targets for economic growth, private sector development, monetary policy, the budget deficit, and inflation were all met. The one problem area is the decline in hard-currency reserves, which were $95 million, or 1.2%, below IMF guidelines (a factor that prompted Poland's decision on 27 August to devalue the zloty by 8%). IMF approval is required for Poland to continue receiving World Bank credits and to make possible the planned second-stage reduction in its debt to the Paris Club. The IMF's board of directors is expected to give Poland formal approval at a session scheduled for 17-September. -Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. STRIKE ENDS AT PRIVATE POLISH PLANT. A two-month-old strike at the Porcelana factory in Walbrzych ended on 30 August, Polish TV reports. Workers at the plant charged that the sale of the plant to private owners was an example of "criminal privatization." The unions and numerous opposition political parties rallied to their cause. The new owners also came in for criticism from Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka, as they appear to have funneled profits into their own salaries rather than promised investments. The agreement that settled the conflict awards workers a raise and cuts monthly salaries for members of the board of directors from several thousand dollars to 20,000,000 zloty (just under $1,000). It also guarantees the unions the right to operate in the plant. The privatization ministry refused the unions' demands to revoke the sale of the plant, however. -Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. NEW SOVIET DOCUMENTS ON POLISH MARTIAL LAW. The newest set of documents released from former Soviet archives has rekindled debate on the imposition of martial law in 1981. Russian President Boris Yeltsin turned over the documents during his recent visit to Poland. Rzeczpospolita published copies on 26 August. Reflecting the deliberations of the "Suslov commission" appointed by the CPSU Politburo to study Polish developments in 1980-81, the documents suggest that the Soviet party ruled out any military intervention. The stenographic record of a Politburo meeting on 10 December 1981 quotes CPSU chief ideologist Mikhail Suslov as saying that sending troops was "out of the question." In contrast, General Wojciech Jaruzelski has long argued that he imposed martial law in order to avoid a Soviet invasion. In interviews on 28 August, Jaruzelski said the documents provide only a fragmentary view of the truth and stressed that there were many indications in 1980-81 of extreme Soviet determination to restore the communist order in Poland, including a threat to cut off all fuel supplies. Polish historians noted, in addition, that the Russian authorities seem to have deliberately selected the documents to suggest that the USSR eschewed intervention in 1981. -Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT DEBATES CORRUPTION REPORT. Radio Bucharest reports that the two chambers of parliament convened on 30 August in a joint extraordinary session to debate a report on corruption prepared by a special parliamentary panel. The debates opened with an attack by committee chairman Senator Romul Petru Vonica against Gen. Gheorghe Florica, former head of the Financial Guard, whose revelations touched off a corruption scandal involving senior officials. Vonica accused the general of having exceeded his authority by making public allegations against members of the cabinet and leading figures in the ruling Democratic National Salvation Front. He also suggested that Florica was himself corrupt, without elaborating. Opposition deputies objected loudly, disrupting Vonica's speech. Ioan Ghise, a deputy for the Party of Civic Alliance and also a member of the corruption panel, said Florica was dismissed because of his respect for laws and upright stance. The panel, which appears to be split in two camps, is expected to present two conflicting reports to the Parliament. -Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL, Inc. ROMANIAN OPPOSITION LEADER CRITICIZES CABINET RESHUFFLE. Emil Constantinescu, leader of Romania's largest opposition group, the Democratic Convention, told RFE/RL on 30 August that the recent government changes are "mere cosmetics." The only important move, Constantinescu said, was the removal of Misu Negritoiu, the head of the government Council for Economic, Coordination, Strategy and Reform. Constantinescu suggested that Negritoiu's ouster is a bad omen for the future of reforms in Romania. Negritoiu is generally perceived as having been the only member of Nicolae Vacaroiu's minority left-wing cabinet with a solid reputation as reformer. -Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL, Inc. MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT FEARS "NEW BOSNIA." In his address on the second anniversary of Moldova's independence, carried by the press on 28 August, Mircea Snegur voiced concern that "the inflexible demands [for confederalization] by the separatist forces in eastern and southern Moldova may lead to the creation of a new Bosnia." Indirectly he also chastised the Moldovan Popular Front and allied pro-Romanian organizations as "small groups intent on destroying the foundations of our state" by blocking the constitutional process. Moldova must not become a scene of conflicts among two or more states [i.e. Russia, Romania, and Ukraine], Snegur said. -Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. "DNIESTER REPUBLIC" SEEN AS EMBRYO OF REVIVED USSR. On the approaching second anniversary of the Transdniester separatist state, Sovetskaya Rossiya wrote on 28 August that "its fate is not a local issue, for it is linked with the prospect of the restoration of the multinational union state." Its economy remains one "of the socialist type," and its military successes mean that "internationalism conquered." Describing the "Dniester republic" as a form of state devised for a transitional period from the collapse to the rebirth of the union, the article concludes that "the experience of this small state, born on the territory of our great common fatherland,-.-.-. is of the highest interest, showing the way for the entire Russia, the entire union." -Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. KUCHMA GIVEN COLD RECEPTION BY PARLIAMENT. On 31 August Prime Minister Leonid Kuchma was given a rough ride by deputies during the discussion following his speech on the economic crisis in Ukraine and the remedial measures that his government is proposing. For these measures to be effective, he emphasized, the government would need additional emergency economic powers, new elections would have to be held, and an economic accommodation reached with Russia. Lawmakers, including leading democratic figures, strongly criticized Kuchma for his government's record and the vagueness of his replies. Former first deputy prime minister, Ihor Yukhnovsky, a democrat, presented the outline of an alternative economic program. -Bohdan Nahaylo, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIA CUTS GAS SUPPLIES TO UKRAINE AGAIN. Gazprom, the Russian gas monopoly, has again cut gas supplies from the 230 million cubic meters it is contracted to supply to 30 million because of Ukraine's failure to pay its bills, Ukrainia TV and AFP reported on 30 August. The Cabinet of Ministers press service issued a statement that Ukraine's debt to Russia now stands at over $730 million. It further instructed all ministries and state and oblast administrations to cut down on their use of gas in every way possible, except for communal enterprises and the people's daily needs. Local administrations were also ordered to make every effort to pay the Ukrainian state enterprise, Derzhkomnaftogaz, for their gas supplies. Gazprom also recently cut supplies to Belarus but resumed them after Minsk paid $30 million of its $100-million debt. -Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. UKRAINIAN ECONOMY MINISTER REPLACED. President Leonid Kravchuk signed a decree relieving Minister of Economy Yurii Bannikov of his duties, Ukrainian TV reported on 30 August. This was done at Bannikov's request. He will be replaced by First Deputy Minister Roman Shpek. -Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. RUMORS BLAMED FOR BELARUSIAN RUBEL'S INSTABILITY. On 30 August ITAR-TASS reported that bankers view the Belarus national currency, the rubel, as weak and unstable. Serhei Hayka, head of the currencies department at the Belarus National Bank said the rubel's value is being driven by rumors. Earlier the Supreme Soviet decided that the rubel would become the country's only legal tender. This was interpreted in the press as the imminent introduction of a national currency. As a result the value of the rubel dropped from 1,700 to 2,800 to the dollar. On 20 August a new rumor spread that Belarus intended to remain in the Russian ruble zone. The rubel then rose to 1,900 to the dollar. As the bankers see it, the erratic currency fluctuations will only end when the Supreme Soviet makes up its mind on whether to stay in the ruble zone or introduce a Belarusian currency. -Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. [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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