Life is what happens to us while we're making other plans. - John Lennon
RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 205, 25 October 1993



Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Inc.





RUSSIA



YELTSIN ORDERS REGIONAL AND LOCAL ELECTIONS BY MARCH. President
Boris Yeltsin issued a decree on 22 October ordering that elections
to all councils at the regional (oblast and krai) level and lower
be held by March 1994, ITAR-TASS reported. The decree did not
affect Russia's constituent republics. Earlier, the president
decreed the dissolution of local councils at the city level and
lower, and recommended (but not ordered) that regional councils
voluntarily dissolve themselves. Some, but not all, of the councils
had already agreed with the president's demands. -Vera Tolz

POWERS OF NEW REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVE ORGANS. Yeltsin's decree
on regional councils stipulates that they should have no more
than 50 deputies, Russian media reported. (Regional and even
some city councils now have hundreds of deputies.) The decree
says regional councils will have the right to pass their own
laws but they will have to be approved by heads of regional administrations,
appointed by the president. Heads of administrations will also
have to sign any documents determining regional budgets. While
this decree was being prepared, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei
Shakhrai told a press conference that this system, which gives
broad rights to the heads of administration, will exist only
for the next two years and then will have to be revised, reported
Nezavisimaya gazeta on 15-October. -Vera Tolz

PROVISION ON REPUBLICS' SOVEREIGNTY REMOVED FROM DRAFT CONSTITUTION.
The provision in the draft constitution that the republics are
sovereign states has been dropped by the constitutional assembly's
working group, Sergei Filatov, chief of the president's administration
said on 22 October. Filatov said its retention could have led
to "unpredictable consequences." Nezavisimaya gazeta reported
that it had learnt from sources close to Shakhrai that the text
of the federation treaty had also disappeared from the draft.
Virtually all the republics have adopted declarations of sovereignty
and were insistent that the designation "sovereign" and the federal
treaty be included in the constitution. Nezavisimaya gazeta said
the changes could seriously jeopardize plans to adopt the new
constitution by referendum in December. -Ann Sheehy

REACTIONS OF TATARSTAN AND BASHKORTOSTAN. Contacted by Nezavisimaya
gazeta, Tatarstan president Mintimer Shaimiev and the chairman
of the Bashkortostan parliament Murtaza Rakhimov both reacted
very negatively to the change, describing it as a return to the
"Russian empire." Shaimiev said that the republics' sovereignty
is the choice of the republics' peoples. Rakhimov suggested "such
provocations" could bring about the collapse of the Russian Federation.
Ivan Aleksandrov, first deputy chairman of the Karelian parliament
described Filatov's statement as "simply nonsense." -Ann Sheehy


YELTSIN VISITS YAROSLAVL. President Yeltsin visited the city
of Yaroslavl on 24 October to unveil a monument to the eleventh-century
prince, Yaroslav the Wise, ITAR-TASS and Western agencies reported.
Yeltsin said that Yaroslav, who ruled in Kiev over a unified
medieval state and introduced its first legal code, was a symbol
of reform. Speaking to journalists after the ceremony, Yeltsin
predicted that the new Russian parliament would be "more intellectual
and cultured," and expressed satisfaction that, having ended
"the senseless battle between executive and legislative branches
of power" the president and government "could devote their attention
to building Russia." Yeltsin also hinted that he would not insist
on holding presidential elections in June 1994, saying that their
date would be fixed by the new parliament. Close allies have
recently advised Yeltsin that he should serve out his full term,
which lasts until 1996. -Wendy Slater

RESULTS OF CHRISTOPHER VISIT. US Secretary of State Warren Christopher
held meetings with Russian officials in Moscow on 22 and 23 October.
In an appeal for Moscow to lift press restrictions, Christopher
said: "True democrats have nothing to fear from a free press."
Yeltsin expressed his appreciation for US support during the
recent political crisis, and at other times, saying, "of all
the leaders of the world, President Clinton . . . always supports
Russia . . . most steadily in all situations," A January summit
between presidents Yeltsin and Clinton is planned, Western agencies
reported. -Suzanne Crow

CHRISTOPHER ON NATO MEMBERSHIP. Speaking at a joint news conference
in Moscow on 22 October with Russian Foreign Minister Andrei
Kozyrev, Warren Christopher said that Russia enthusiastically
supports the US proposal to restrict NATO expansion to a plan
of gradual growth. Yeltsin called the plan "brilliant" and "terrific"
following meetings at his dacha with Christopher, Western media
reported. -Suzanne Crow

RUSSIAN PROSECUTOR CHARGES 16 PERSONS FOR REVOLT. The office
of the Procurator General has formally charged 16 persons in
connection with the armed revolt of 3-4 October, ITAR-TASS reported
on 22-October. All were charged with organizing mass disorders,
which can be punished by up to 15 years in jail. Among the accused
are former parliamentary speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov, former Vice
President Aleksandr Rutskoi, former Minister of Security Viktor
Barannikov, the leader of the militant Communist Workers' party,
Viktor Anpilov, and others. -Alexander Rahr

CREDIT PACKAGE FOR AGRO-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX. Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin has earmarked a total of 1,450 billion rubles in
low-interest or interest-free centralized credits for the agro-industrial
complex, Interfax reported on 23 October. No time-frame was given
for the extension of the credits, but the wording suggested that
these will be made available immediately. On the face of it,
the credit package will appreciably raise the budget deficit
which was already-by most accounts-well above the government's
original projections and above the guidelines set by external
creditors. -Keith Bush

CURB ON DEFENSE EXPENDITURE? DEPUTY FINANCE MINISTER ALEKSANDR
POCHINOK TOLD KRASNAYA ZVEZDA ON 22 OCTOBER THAT THE GOVERNMENT
PLANS TO KEEP TIGHT RESTRICTIONS ON ALL BUDGETARY EXPENDITURES
IN 1994, INCLUDING DEFENSE EXPENDITURE. Pochinok acknowledged
the government's appreciation of the army's loyalty during the
recent upheavals, but stressed that the future army must be smaller,
more mobile, and cost less. He nevertheless gave an assurance
that soldiers will be provided with "decent conditions." It is
difficult to reconcile recent authoritative pronouncements on
a ceiling on defense expenditure with promises to increase outlays
on pay and housing and with the requested 50% jump in military
procurement orders (see RFE/RL Daily Report no. 200). -Keith
Bush

MASS CLOSURE OF COMMERCIAL BANKS? A DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF THE RUSSIAN
CENTRAL BANK (RCB), DMITRY TULIN, TOLD THE FINANCIAL TIMES OF
22 OCTOBER THAT DOZENS OF COMMERCIAL BANKS COULD SOON BE CLOSED
DOWN OR RESTRUCTURED. Speaking in his new capacity as chief of
banking supervision, Tulin reported that the RCB stopped refinancing
22 commercial banks in Moscow two weeks ago after they exceeded
its 5-day overdraft limit, and warned that many more banks throughout
the country would be subject to review. Those whose overdrafts
with the RCB were found to be due to "serious financial problems"
would be either bailed out, offered to bigger institutions, or
closed down. The number of commercial banks in Russia is put
at nearly 2,000. -Keith Bush

LATEST ON WASTE DUMPING IN SEA OF JAPAN. Ecology Minister Viktor
Danilov-Danilyan told a news conference on 21 October that Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin has formally ordered the suspension
of a planned second dumping of liquid nuclear waste in the Sea
of Japan, Reuters reported. On the same day, Interfax reported
that a senior Russian Navy official, Vice Admiral Yurii Kaisin,
called for the dumping of radioactive wastes to continue; he
claimed that it was the least environmentally harmful way of
getting rid of the waste. Kaisin also said that Tokyo's protests
were more political than substantive. Meanwhile, the Nihon Keizai
Shimbun reported on 23 October that Viktor Mikhailov, Russia's
Minister for Atomic Energy, proposed in Tokyo that Japan purchase
$100 million worth of uranium annually from Russia as a means
of helping Russia finance a new waste disposal facility. Japanese
power companies reportedly have no need at present for the uranium.
Finally, Reuters reported on 22-October that a plant designed
to dispose of such radioactive wastes, located at Murmansk in
the Arctic northwest, has been standing idle. -Stephen Foye

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA



GEORGIAN TROOPS RETAKE TERRITORY. On 22-October Georgian government
troops retook the rail junction of Samtredia, captured by forces
loyal to ousted president Zviad Gamsakhurdia on 17 October; on
23-October government forces retook the town of Martvili (former
Gegechkori) to the north, and on 24-October, Abasha, northwest
of Samtredia, Western agencies reported. Georgian Interior Minister
Igor Giorgadze was quoted by GIA-TASS on 24-October as claiming
that Chechen President Dzhokar Dudaev has sent a contingent of
Chechen troops to Gamsakhurdia's headquarters, Zugdidi, and plans
also to send equipment. In Tbilisi, Georgian parliament chairman
Eduard Shevardnadze has appointed former Abkhaz Interior Minister
Givi Lominadze to head an emergency committee to administrate
the territory liberated from Gamsakhurdia's forces, AFP reported.
-Liz Fuller

SHEVARDNADZE SIGNS DECREE ON CIS MEMBERSHIP. On 22 October Georgian
parliament chairman Eduard Shevardnadze signed a decree formally
approving Georgia's membership in the CIS, ITAR-TASS reported.
The Georgian parliament, which has been suspended for three months,
has not ratified the decision, but a total of 120 deputies have
signed a petition in favor, according to Reuters. -Liz Fuller


NAZARBAEV, CHRISTOPHER ON NUCLEAR AGREEMENTS. AFP, Reuters and
Interfax on 24 October reported that President Nursultan Nazarbaev
had promised US Secretary of State Warren Christopher that Kazakhstan
would ratify the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) by the
end of this year. Christopher and Nazarbaev also reportedly eliminated
all remaining problems connected with a draft "umbrella agreement"
that will govern the payment of US denuclearization aid to Kazakhstan.
Reports indicated that the agreement will be signed "shortly,"
presumably at a higher-level meeting. -John Lepingwell

NAGORNO-KARABAKH CEASEFIRE CRUMBLES. The towns of Kubatli, Zangelan
and Goradiz in southeastern Azerbaijan were subjected to heavy
artillery bombardment on 23-October, IRNA reported on 24 October.
An Azerbaijani presidential spokesman claimed that troops from
Armenia had launched an offensive against Goradiz, while Karabakh
representatives in Stepanakert and Baku charged that the Azerbaijanis
had attacked Gadrut raion in the south of Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenpress
and Western agencies reported. -Liz Fuller

RAFSANJANI IN TURKMENISTAN. On 22 October Iranian President Ali
Akbar Rafsanjani traveled from Kyrgyzstan to Turkmenistan, where
on 24 October he and Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov signed
nine agreements on economic cooperation, specifically the construction
of pipelines to transport Turkmen gas and oil through Iran to
Turkey or the Persian Gulf, transport, and religious exchanges,
Reuters reported. Speaking at a news conference in Ashgabat on
24-October prior to his departure for Kazakhstan, Rafsanjani
rejected as "rumors spread by imperialist news media" charges
that Iran is supporting the rebel faction in Tajikistan. -Liz
Fuller

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE



KLAUS, HAVEL ON NATO. Speaking at a press conference in Prague
on 24 October after returning from a trip to the US, Guatemala,
Mexico, and Germany, Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus said that
former Warsaw Pact countries should become members of NATO without
being part of the alliance's military command. Klaus argued that
East European countries could become members "a la France," which
withdrew from the NATO military command in the 1960s but otherwise
remains a member. Klaus's words were a reaction to a recent proposal
by US Defense Secretary Les Aspin that former Warsaw Pact countries
be offered limited partnerships in NATO, rather than full membership,
and to the 21 October meeting of NATO defense ministers in Travemźnde,
which endorsed Aspin's proposal. Also on the 24th, Czech President
Vaclav Havel said on Czech Radio that "much depends on what exactly
the NATO proposals mean." If they are meant as a step "toward
our future full membership, there is no reason to cry," said
the president. Havel argued that the worst possibility would
be "to try to pacify us and leave everything as is." -Jiri Pehe


US ENVOY MENDS FENCES IN SOFIA. US Deputy Secretary of State
Steve Oxman spent 23-and 24-October in Sofia meeting Bulgarian
political leaders and discussing pressing European and bilateral
affairs. One reason for the visit was clearly a wish on the part
of the US to amplify its position on NATO membership for Eastern
Europe and more specifically on the "partnership for peace" proposal
presented on 20 October in Travemźnde, Germany. Oxman told AFP
he was "very encouraged" by the Bulgarian reaction to the US
initiative, which First Deputy Foreign Minister Valentin Gatsinski
referred to as "a complement to existing forms of cooperation."
Gatsinski nevertheless emphasized that Bulgaria would continue
to strive for full membership as a long-term goal. A second motive
for Oxman's unexpected visit was to try to quell the outburst
of anti-American sentiment following criticism of Bulgaria's
constitutional ban on ethnic and religious parties expressed
by the newly appointed ambassador to Sofia, William Montgomery,
before the US Senate Foreign Affairs Committee. On 23 October
BTA circulated an "unofficial document" prepared by the Bulgarian
foreign ministry saying Montgomery's criticism was both inappropriate
and inaccurate. -Kjell Engelbrekt

HUNGARY MARKS 1956 ANNIVERSARY, ANTALL ON NATO. On 22 and 23
October commemorations were held throughout the country to mark
the 37th anniversary of the 1956 revolution, MTI reports. Prime
Minister Jozsef Antall commented that neutrality, one of the
demands of the revolution, is not a goal today, and that Hungary
seeks security guarantees in NATO. Justice Minister Istvan Balsai
and several organizations representing 1956 freedom fighters
used the occasion to call attention to the need to punish Hungarian
communists who participated in the suppression of the revolution
and in subsequent reprisals. President Arpad Goncz recalled in
an interview with Radio Budapest that the freedom fighters belonged
to various political orientations including socialist and conservative.
In recent years, some political groups have claimed to be the
sole representatives of the legacy of the revolution, and have
launched a reevaluation intended to minimize the contributions
of reform communists. -Edith Oltay

BOSNIAN LEADER SEEKS PEACE WITH SERBS, CROATS. According to Western
media, on 22 October Bosnian Muslim leader Fikret Abdic, who
controls Bosnia's Bihac province, signed a separate peace with
Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and Serbia's President Slobodan
Milosevic in Belgrade. On 23 October, Abdic defended his actions
at a Zagreb press conference by observing that his intentions
are to forge a "just and lasting peace" with Bosnian Serb and
Croat leaders, Reuters reported. Meanwhile, AFP reported that
not all Muslim leaders were in accord with Abdic's actions. General
Ramiz Drekovic, a leader of the Bosnian Muslim army, allegedly
condemned Abdic's efforts to secure peace as an act of "treason."
Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic echoed these sentiments.
On 23 October Sarajevo radio reported that Bosnia's foreign minister,
Haris Silajdzic, condemned Bosnian Croat leader Mate Boban's
efforts to come to a peace agreement with Abdic. Boban and Abdic
met on 21-October in an attempt to help end the 18-month-old
war in Bosnia. -Stan Markotich

FIGHTING IN BOSNIA MAY BE EASING. According to Reuters, on 22
October British UN peacekeepers in Bosnia reported that fighting
between Croats and Muslims in central Bosnia had tapered off.
However, the relative calm was seemingly short-lived. On 23-October
Bosnian Muslim forces launched a major attack on the Croat enclave
of Vares, situated in Central Bosnia. Lt.-Col. Bill Aikman, representing
the UN, reportedly described the fighting in that region as "serious."
On 23-October, Bosnia's capital Sarajevo came under heavy shelling
from Serbian forces, but by the morning of 24-October Sarajevo
radio was reporting calm in the city, and made no mention of
fighting anywhere else in Bosnia. Croatian radio on 24 October
carried reports which indicated that the situation in Bosnia
was marked by calm. -Stan Markotich

PAPANDREOU OUTLINES TOUGH BALKAN POLICY. In a speech on the priorities
of Athen's foreign policy following the election victory of the
Panhellenic Socialist Movement two weeks earlier, Prime Minister
Andreas Papandreou on 23 October said his government above all
intends to safeguard Greek interests in the Balkans, Western
agencies report. While Papandreou promised to promote peace in
the region, he rejected the possibility of recognizing the former
Yugoslav republic of Macedonia under any name that includes 'Macedonia,'
a term Athens argues implies territorial claims on Greece. Noting
that Turkey remains the chief source of Greece's security concerns,
he did not rule out that tension between the two countries might
decrease, especially if Ankara accepts a Greek proposal on resolving
the dispute over the Aegean Sea continental shelf. On the long-standing
conflict over Cyprus, however, he warned that "any violent change
of the existing situation . . . will be considered a cause of
war." The freshly elected premier also said he wants closer relations
with Albania but added that any improvement will depend on Tirana's
treatment of ethnic Greeks. One day after the address, Athens
denied Albanian charges that Greek border troops were responsible
for the death of three civilians found shot 200 meters into Albanian
territory. Another two Albanians were said to be injured. -Kjell
Engelbrekt

PAWLAK'S GOVERNMENT NEARING COMPLETION. Polish Prime Minister
designate Waldemar Pawlak continued consultations aimed at forming
a government on 22 and 23-October. PAP reports that the names
of his three deputies can be taken as certain: Marek Borowski,
Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, and Aleksander Luczak. The first two
are members of the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), the last is
from Pawlak's own Polish Peasant Party (PSL). Borowski will have
responsibility for economic matters; the division of responsibilities
between the other two will be agreed upon "within the government
leadership." Such wording reflects a struggle between the two
coalition partners over who is to have the upper hand in the
government. Grzegorz Kolodko, also a member of the SLD, will
be finance minister. The remaining ministerial nominations are
not yet certain. In an interview with PAP on 24 October Pawlak
said that his government will be ready for presentation to the
president at the beginning of the week. -Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka


POLISH TV A PAWN IN POWER STRUGGLE? NATIONAL BROADCASTING COUNCIL
CHAIRMAN MAREK MARKIEWICZ TOLD PAP ON 20 OCTOBER THAT TV MANAGEMENT'S
"UNSATISFACTORY" RESPONSE TO ALLEGATIONS OF PROGOVERNMENT BIAS
IN COVERING THE ELECTION CAMPAIGN WOULD BE BOUND TO HAVE A "SIGNIFICANT"
EFFECT ON PENDING NOMINATIONS TO MANAGEMENT POSITIONS AFTER STATE
RADIO AND TELEVISION BECOME PUBLIC CORPORATIONS ON 1 JANUARY
1994. The current head of television, Janusz Zaorski, believed
to be a protege of President Lech Walesa, rejected the council's
allegations as "unfair." Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 20 October
that the Supreme Chamber of Control is concerned about Zaorski's
financial transactions. The press has been speculating that the
new government will replace Zaorski but Democratic Left Alliance
leaders have gone on record as saying that such a move would
be pointless when Zaorski's post is due to be terminated simultaneously
with TV's incorporation. Meanwhile, Zaorski has accused outgoing
Finance Minister Jerzy Osiatynski of pressing the current radio
and television management to speed up their structural transformation
to enable appointments to take place before the new government
takes over and installs its own proteges. In a statement quoted
by PAP on 21-October he suggested that the different forces fighting
for power in Poland were making a bid to gain control over the
public media. -Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka

SLOVAK PARTIES APPROVE COALITION. On 23-October the executive
committees of the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia and the
Slovak National Party approved the coalition agreement which
was signed by the parties' chairmen on 19 October, TASR reports.
MDS Chairman Vladimir Meciar said the new partnership, which
"will avert all negative predictions by politicians and journalists,"
is expected to last 32 months, until the time of the next scheduled
elections. Jozef Prokes of the SNP said the purpose of the coalition
is "to turn Slovakia into a prosperous country, improve economic,
political and social stability, keep up its image abroad, and
complete its integration into European structures." According
to Meciar, "the cabinet will be composed of both parties' members,
and no attention will be given to who belongs to which party."
The list of cabinet members will be given to President Michal
Kovac on 25-October and will be made public after Kovac approves
it. Because all members of the MDS executive committee present
for the vote approved the coalition, Meciar "dismissed speculations
about new MDS defections" to other parties. Although SNP Chairman
Ludovit Cernak said before the vote that he expected "a stormy
discussion" concerning the agreement in his party's executive
committee, 41 SNP members voted in favor, 1 was against and 4
abstained. -Sharon Fisher

BULGARIA'S SOCIALIST REFORMERS SET UP "MOVEMENT." The first national
conference of the Civic Alliance for the Republic (CAR), partly
made up of reformist members of the Bulgarian Socialist Party,
on 24 October decided to seek registration as a "movement" and
not as a party, BTA reports. According to the statutes adopted
at the conference, this will allow sympathizers of the CAR to
retain memberships in other political organizations. The decision
seems to indicate that the Socialist reformists are not yet ready
to break ranks despite BSP leader Jean Videnov's circulation
one week earlier of a document instructing local chapters to
exclude BSP members who join other political formations. The
CAR reelected Aleksandar Tomov as its chairman and appointed
a 79-man strong National Council, 21 of whom are currently members
of the BSP. The conference also adopted a resolution stating
that the chief aim of the organization will be to reduce the
level of political confrontation in the country. -Kjell Engelbrekt


US CONGRESS APPROVES MFN STATUS FOR ROMANIA. The US Congress
unanimously approved the restoration of most-favored-nation trade
status to Romania on 21 October. The House of Representatives
had already ratified the bilateral trade agreement, which includes
the MFN clause, on 12 October. The document still must be signed
by President Bill Clinton. In separate but similarly worded communiques
released on 22-October, Romania's government and the ruling Party
of Social Democracy of Romania expressed "particular satisfaction"
at the vote, which they described as marking the "full normalization
of ties between Romania and the US." Also on 22 October, Radio
Bucharest broadcast a statement by US Ambassador to Bucharest
John R. Davis Jr. saying that the measure had to be seen as a
token of support for Romania's democratization rather than as
a reward. The MFN status will be reviewed after a year. Former
Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu had renounced MFN status
in 1988 in response to stern US criticism of human rights violations
in Romania. -Dan Ionescu

ROMANIAN CABINET ORDERS PRICE AND IMPORT CURBS. At a cabinet
meeting on 22-October, Romania's Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu
ordered price controls and curbs on imports in what was described
by a Reuters corespondent in Bucharest as a new blow to economic
reform. Vacaroiu told ministries to ensure that state sector
food producers set retail price limits for their goods in their
contracts of delivery. He also ordered the Finance Ministry to
take action to reduce high prices in privately-run shops. This
amounts to reinstating at least some price controls, which were
abolished on 1 May 1993. In a further move apparently designed
to protect inefficient state industries, Vacaroiu demanded significant
import curbs. Vacaroiu's left-wing minority cabinet, which is
widely held responsible for a slow-down in economic reforms,
faces the third no-confidence motion in a year on 25 October.
The motion argues that the appointment of four ministers in August
was illegal because it was not endorsed by the parliament. -Dan
Ionescu

KRAVCHUK'S GERMAN VISIT. Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk
was in Bonn on 22-October to take part in an international forum
entitled, "Europe's future: a political program for the 1990's,"
ITAR-TASS reported on 24 October. During the visit Kravchuk met
with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. The two held talks behind
closed doors on bilateral ties and European issues. German officials
expressed their concern over the recent decision by Ukraine's
parliament to keep the Chernobyl power station operating. In
response Kravchuk said that while Ukraine intends to close the
power station it needs technical, organizational and financial
assistance to do that. -Ustina Markus

WEIZSAECKER IN LATVIA. German President Richard von Weizsaecker
returned to Germany from a two-day visit to Riga on 23 October.
While in Latvia, Weizsaecker said that Germany will support the
Baltic States in their efforts to join the EC and said he favors
the creation of a Europe-wide security system. The German president
also discussed with Latvian leaders possible monetary compensation
for World War II victims, the need for the prompt withdrawal
of the Russian military from the Baltics, and visa-free travel,
Diena reported on 22 and 23 October. -Dzintra Bungs

ULMANIS URGES MEETING WITH YELTSIN. While meeting with foreign
diplomats in Riga on 21 October, Latvia's President Guntis Ulmanis
said that interstate talks cannot resolve the issues still standing
in the way of a prompt withdrawal of Russian troops and military
equipment from Latvia and that a summit meeting with the Russian
president is needed. In his letter of 15-October to Ulmanis,
Yeltsin said he will help arrange a visit by Ulmanis to Moscow
but argued that the possibilities of interstate talks have still
not been exhausted. In response to the Russian Defense Minister's
statement of 20 October linking the troop withdrawals to the
situation of Russian-speakers in Estonia and Latvia, the Latvian
Foreign Ministry pointed out on 21 October that such linkage
contradicts the position of both international organizations
and the Russian government and interpreted the statement as an
attempt to strengthen Russia's influence in the Baltic region.
In a related development, on 22-October the US State Department
dismissed the rumors of treaties between Washington and Moscow
on the Russian radar station in Skrunda, and stressed that such
an accord should be made by the Russian and Latvian governments,
Baltic media reported on 21 October. -Dzintra Bungs

FINAL ESTONIAN ELECTION RESULTS NOT YET REPORTED. Contrary to
expectations, the final results of the Estonian local elections,
held on 17 October, have not been announced. According to the
election law, the results must be announced no later than one
week after the elections, Baltic media report. -Dzintra Bungs


[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by John Lepingwell and Louisa Vinton





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