|Life, within doors, has few pleasanter prospects than a neatly arranged and well-provisioned breakfast-table. - Nathaniel Hawthorne|
No. 248, 29 December 1993
RUSSIA LUKYANOV GETS TEMPORARY POST IN NEW PARLIAMENT. One of the leaders of the August 1991 attempted coup, Anatolii Lukyanov, has been given the post of chairman of a temporary commission in the new Russian parliament, Reuters reported on 28 December. Lukyanov, former chairman of the USSR Supreme Soviet, will chair the commission set up to coordinate work among various factions in advance of the convening of the new parliament on 11 January. A representative of the Communist faction, Viktor Ilyukhin, told the agency the majority of newly elected deputies voted in favor of Lukyanov over another candidate--Gennadii Burbulis, a former aide to President Yeltsin. The same day, Interfax quoted Lukyanov as saying he would not appear in court on 29 December when the coup-plotters' trial resumes. Lukyanov told the agency he still had pneumonia and doctors had ordered him to stay in bed. Vera Tolz, RFE/RL, Inc. GOVERNMENT TO BE REDUCED IN SIZE. President Boris Yeltsin has signed a decree ordering changes to the Russian government. The decree, dated 23 December, was published in Rossiiskie vesti of 28 December and details the reorganization of governmental structures of which Yeltsin had warned at his 22 December press conference. In particular, the Council of Ministers will be renamed the Government of the Russian Federation. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin is also ordered to present proposals within two weeks to reduce the number of government ministers, transform some state committees into ministries, and effect an overall reduction in the number of state committees and ministries, primarily by abolishing bodies which duplicate functions. The decree also orders a 20% reduction in the size of the Russian government bureaucracy to be made within one month. Wendy Slater, RFE/RL, Inc. COMMUNIST LEADER SAYS PARLIAMENT SHOULD REEXAMINE CONSTITUTION. Gennadii Zyuganov, the leader of the Russian Communist Party, which won 65 seats in the lower chamber of the new parliament, told a press conference on 28 December that the parliament might decide to reexamine the new Russian constitution. The constitution was approved by 58.4 % of the participants in the 12 December referendum, in which 54.8 % of Russia's eligible voters took part. President Yeltsin decreed the constitution to be deemed adopted if more than half of the referendum's participants voted in favor. Zyuganov argues that the majority of eligible voters is needed to regard the fundamental law as approved. Zyuganov told journalists that "almost all factions [in the new parliament] support the idea" that the constitution should be revised, ITAR-TASS reported. Zyuganov also said his party was trying to set up a "center-left" coalition that would work towards fundamental changes in the course of economic reforms and in foreign policy. Vera Tolz, RFE/RL, Inc. ARMS SALES CHIEF APPOINTED. ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported on 28 December that President Yeltsin has appointed Viktor Samoilov the general director of the new "Rosvooruzheniye" arms export company. Samoilov was previously an advisor to First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Shumeiko, and Deputy Chief of the Main Directorate for Personnel in the CIS military command. The new corporation was formed in mid-November with the mandate to centralize arms exports and increase sales. This approach appears to conflict with the decentralized approach advocated by other arms industry advocates, such as Viktor Glukhikh, chief of the defense industries committee (see the Daily Report of 28 December). John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc. NAVY COMMANDER IN KUWAIT. The Russian Navy commander, Admiral Felix Gromov, arrived in Kuwait on 28 December to oversee joint Russian-Kuwaiti naval maneuvers, ITAR-TASS reported. The maneuvers were agreed upon during a visit to Russia by the Kuwaiti defense minister in early December, and indicate the importance that Russia is placing on military cooperation with Kuwait, apparently with the goal of fostering increased arms sales as well. On 27 December, ITAR-TASS reported that the Kuwaiti defense minister stated at a press conference that Kuwait was indeed considering arms purchases from Russia, and denied suggestions that Russia had been applying pressure on Kuwait. John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc. CHUBAIS ON PRIVATIZATION PROGRESS. Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais told a press conference on 28 December that 110 million Russians had already invested their privatization vouchers and that voucher privatization would be completed by July 1994, according to various Russian and Western news agencies. Chubais reported that over two-thirds of small service enterprises have been privatized. Of 14,500 large state enterprises existing at the start of the privatization program, 11,000 have now been transformed into joint-stock companies, and 7,000 of these joint-stock companies have been privatized. Chubais credited broad public support for the program's success. Responding to a question about the apparent lack of change in efficiency and incentives at newly privatized enterprises, Chubais allowed that privatization was only a means to solving an enterprise's problems not an end in itself. Erik Whitlock, RFE/RL, Inc. RUBLE EASING CLOSER TO PPP? WITH RUBLE PRICE LEVELS INCREASING AT 20% OR MORE A MONTH OVER THE SECOND HALF OF THIS YEAR IN RUSSIA, WHILE THE RUBLE HAS LOST ONLY SOME 20% OF ITS VALUE ON CURRENCY EXCHANGES OVER THE SAME PERIOD, THE REAL RUBLE-TO-DOLLAR EXCHANGE RATE HAS DROPPED SIGNIFICANTLY. Long undervalued on exchange markets, the ruble is moving closer to purchasing power parity (PPP) between the two currencies, Kommersant no. 50 reports. In October, a comparison of the dollar value of a basket of consumer goods abroad with the ruble value of the same basket of consumer goods in Russia implied an exchange rate of 480 rubles for the dollar. Using a basket of commodities traded between Russia and other nations, the implied exchange rate is 860 rubles to the dollar. The PPP rates reported by Kommersant, while still 30 to 60% lower than the market exchange rates at the time, are still much closer than those reported in the first few months of 1993, which, according to some Russian economists, were 8090% lower than those suggested by PPP estimates. Erik Whitlock, RFE/RL, Inc. TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA COUP IMMINENT IN GEORGIA? RUMORS ARE CIRCULATING IN TBILISI THAT FOLLOWING THE CLASHES BETWEEN GEORGIAN SECURITY MINISTER IGOR GEORGADZE AND DEFENSE MINISTER GIORGI KARKARASHVILI THE LATTER LEFT TBILISI WITH A CONTINGENT OF HIS MEN AND "JOINED THE OPPOSITION," GIVING RISE TO EXPECTATIONS OF A MILITARY COUP, ACCORDING TO IZVESTIYA OF 29 DECEMBER. The Rustavi subdivision of the Mkhedrioni paramilitary organization was brought to Tbilisi on 27 December and is guarding the parliament building. Interfax quoted a Shevardnadze spokesman on 28 December as denying that there was any substance to media reports of tensions between the defense and security ministries, but a defense ministry spokesman said that deputy ministers had met on 27-28 December in an attempt to resolve the dispute.Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. ELECTIONS IN UZBEKISTAN. On 28 December, the first day of its current session, Uzbekistan's Supreme Soviet approved the holding of elections next year for the 250-seat Majlis (Assembly) specified in the country's post-independence constitution, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. No date was set for the election. President Islam Karimov commented to the parliament that this is the last session of the Soviet-era legislature. He also told the deputies, according to an Interfax report, that he is opposed to dual citizenship in Uzbekistan because it would undermine Uzbekistani patriotism. Like his counterparts in other Central Asian states, Karimov wants to create a national identity encompassing all citizens of the country regardless of their ethnicity. Karimov also denied rumors about a possible cancellation of the sum coupons in use as currency in Uzbekistan. Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc. REFERENDUM IN TURKMENISTAN. Turkmenistan's Halk maslahaty, a super-parliament of notables, met after a session of the Mejlis, the national parliament, on 28 December and proposed that an extension of President Saparmurad Niyazov's term of office be submitted to a nationwide referendum, ITAR-TASS reported. The referendum is to take place on 15 January. At the beginning of December the Democratic, formerly Communist, Party made the proposal to extend Niyazov's term of office for an additional five years without an election, ostensibly to enable Niyazov to carry out his economic and political development program without interruption. Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc. CIS UKRAINIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY DENIES CIS SUMMIT REPORTS. Ukrainian First Deputy Defense Minister, Ivan Bizhan, held a press conference on 28 December at which he denied reports that Ukraine had agreed to be a member of the CIS Council of Defense Ministers. Bizhan noted that Ukraine had not signed a single document at the summit and claimed that there had been no change in Ukraine's military policy, according to ITAR-TASS and Ukrainian radio reports of 28 December. The possibility of Ukraine joining the council, or participating in other CIS military structures, could only be decided by the president and parliament, according to Bizhan. Bizhan's comments appear to represent something of a rebuke to the new Defense Minister, Vitalii Radetsky, who is regarded by some members of parliament and government as being too pro-Russian and pro-CIS. John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc. BLACK SEA FLEET INCIDENTS. Ukrainian and Russian sources have again put out conflicting reports on incidents involving the Black Sea Fleet in Odessa and Izmail, Reuters and AFP reported on 28 December. According to an unnamed Russian officer, Ukrainian marines armed with submachine guns occupied offices of the military engineering units in those two cities. This was denied by Col. Oleksandr Stakhov, deputy commander of the Ukrainian navy. Stakhov said the only incident was that some servicemen of the fleet in Odessa and Izmail took an oath of loyalty to Ukraine. The press service of the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued an official statement clarifying the issue on Ukrainian television. According to the statement, on 28 December the engineering units of the Black Sea Fleet in Odessa, Izmail and Mykolaiv were subordinated to the Ukrainian armed forces. This was done in agreement with the fleet's command. The statement went on to criticize the Russian media, particularly ITAR-TASS, for spreading misinformation. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. ANTI-CRIME MEASURES INTRODUCED IN SEVASTOPOL. In response to an increasing crime rate and the recent murders of Black Sea Fleet officers, authorities in Sevastopol have decided to toughen anti-crime measures for two months, beginning 27 December. According to an Interfax report of 28 December, the measures fall short of the declaration of a state of emergency, but they do include increasing the number of personnel in some departments of the Ukrainian security service units in the city. Special attention will be paid to investigating the murder of Andrei Lazebnikov, and street patrols will also be strengthened. The decisions were endorsed by the commander of the Ukrainian navy, but there was no indication whether the Black Sea Fleet command had been consulted on the measures, or whether it endorsed them. John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc. CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE BULGARIA EXPELS ZHIRINOVSKY. On the evening of 28 December Bulgarian authorities decided to expel Russian nationalist leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky on the grounds that he had insulted the host country and jeopardized its relations with neighboring states, Western and domestic media report. The Bulgarian Ministry of Internal Affairs issued a decree ordering Zhirinovsky's expulsion within 24 hours immediately after a press conference at which the chairman of Russia's Liberal Democratic Party claimed that Turkey was preparing to conquer both the Balkans and the Caucasus, and called Romania "an artificial state" inhabited by "Italian Gypsies." The interior ministry said that, apart from "creating real preconditions for complicating our country's relations with neighboring states," Zhirinovsky's statements over the last few days had represented "inadmissible meddling in the internal affairs of a sovereign state." The latter was evidently a reference to Zhirinovsky's remark on 26 December that President Zhelyu Zhelev should step down and that Bulgarian voters ought to chose Svetoslav Stoilov, Zhirinovsky's personal economic advisor, to succeed Zhelev. Many Bulgarians were irritated by his statements: the LDP leader was booed by the majority of onlookers as he laid a wreath at a memorial to Tsar Alexander II who helped liberate Bulgaria from the Ottoman Empire in the 1870s. In a defiant last comment, Zhirinovsky told Bulgarian TV he would obey the order, but one day return as President of Russia. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc. ZHIRINOVSKY DENIED GERMAN VISA. Bavarian Radio reported on 29 December that Zhirinovsky has been denied a visa for a planned 18-day visit to Germany. His visa application originated at the German embassy in Sofia. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel cited as grounds for refusing his visa Paragraph 7 of the German Law on Foreigners which states that visa applicants can be refused if their visit would pose harm to Germany's interests, according to German press agencies. Unnamed German Foreign Ministry authorities said that Zhirinovsky's visit was undesirable, explaining that Zhirinovsky should not be given the chance to spread his right-wing nationalist ideas on German soil. A general ban on visits by Zhirinovsky to Germany is also reportedly being considered. Suzanne Crow, RFE/RL, Inc. ILIESCU ON NATO, ZHIRINOVSKY. In an interview with AFP summarized by Radio Bucharest on 28 December, Romanian president Ion Iliescu said East European countries should eventually join NATO together, and none should be accepted before others. Giving early membership to countries such as Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic would not be conducive to European stability, Iliescu said. He also expressed hope that Russia's democratic forces would be able to limit the influence of the ultranationalists led by Vladimir Zhirinovsky. Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAK VICE PREMIER ON RFE CONTROVERSY. In a statement to the media on 28 December, Slovak Deputy Prime Minister Roman Kovac said that the decision by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications to terminate medium-wave broadcasting by Radio Free Europe in Slovakia was prompted by technical problems and was not politically motivated. Calling it "a very unfortunate step," Kovac said the ministry had not consulted its decision with the government before announcing it. The vice premier further said that he had instructed the ministry to contact RFE and come up with a mutually acceptable solution, taking account of technical needs and the problems of broadcasting in Slovakia and RFE's needs. He said that he holds RFE "in high esteem," as the station had done "a tremendous job in developing democracy during the totalitarian regime and after the revolution." According to Kovac, it is necessary "to create conditions suitable for the work of RFE people." Transportation and Communications Minister Roman Hofbauer also ruled out any political motivation in announcing the decision to terminate RFE's medium-wave broadcasts. Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc. CROAT-MUSLIM TENSIONS. On 29 December the international media reported on a number of issues outstanding between Croatia and the Bosnian Muslim government, some of which threaten to jeopardize prospects for regional peace. Vecernji list reported statements made by Croatia's foreign minister, Mate Granic. According to the report, Granic suggested that Croatia is willing to make concessions to the Bosnian Muslims in order to secure peace, but alleged at the same time that the Muslims' recalcitrance and greed were slowing down negotiations. Granic said that although Croatia has gone on record as offering the Bosnian Muslims access to a port, they remain dissatisfied and "don't look for access to the sea, but want [control] of a port." Croatian leaders continue to accuse the Bosnian Muslims of committing atrocities against Bosnian Croat civilians. International media reported that Granic formally requested the UN to set up safe havens for Croats who are allegedly being attacked by Muslim forces throughout central Bosnia. On 28 December UN sources had announced that the international organization will investigate Bosnian Croat allegations of atrocities committed by Muslim soldiers near Gornji Vakuf and Vitez in central Bosnia. Meanwhile, Reuters reported on 28 December that 1,000 people were evacuated from the war ravaged Bosnian capital, Sarajevo. Most of them are eventually to be taken to the Croatian port city of Split. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. A MINORITY GOVERNMENT FOR SERBIA? ON 28 DECEMBER LEADERS FROM THE VARIOUS PARTIES HOLDING SEATS IN THE SERBIAN LEGISLATURE MET WITH SERBIA'S PRESIDENT SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC TO DISCUSS THE FORMATION OF A NEW GOVERNMENT. Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia controls 123 of the 250 seats and, according to party spokesman Ivica Dacic, is eager to form a coalition government with any party except the Serbian Radical Party led by Vojislav Seselj. On 29 December Borba reported that all opposition parties have gone on record stating that they will not support a Socialist minority government. Zoran Djindjic, leader of the Democratic Party and holder of 29 seats, has announced his willingness to help form a government of "national salvation" which would put aside party interests and "solve the citizens' problems." According to the Borba report, Djindjic is not prepared to support a lone Socialist bid to form a government because the SPS "cannot solve the problems of the people." Djindjic suggested that all parties were aware that the SPS could no longer rule Serbia but that since it did garner most votes in the 19 December elections, it could not be entirely excluded from power. Djindjic warned that if the parties in the Serbian parliament do not learn to compromise, "there will be no agreement, and if we have no agreement, we will have the [UN-imposed economic] blockade, new elections, and a new [political] crisis." Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. POLISH GOVERNMENT EXTENDS UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS. Meeting on 28 December, the Polish cabinet extended by six months a regulation granting an additional seven months of jobless benefits in regions officially recognized as threatened by high structural unemployment. The payment of unemployment benefits is normally limited to one year. Deputy Labor Minister Jerzy Szreter estimated that the extension will affect about 70,000 people and cost just under one trillion zloty ($48 million) in 1994. Conceding that the extension will reduce the sums available for "active" methods of fighting unemployment, Szreter said the government plans to take steps to reduce benefits in areas where the unemployment rate is less than half the national average. Unemployment now stands at 15.5%. The cabinet also dissolved a company set up in September by the Suchocka government to coordinate the construction of new highways. Former Deputy Prime Minister Henryk Goryszewski had held a seat on the company's board of directors. The government opted instead to establish a governmental highway agency. The cabinet also decided to extend diplomatic recognition to Macedonia, PAP reports. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. POLISH GOVERNMENT PROBES CONCORDAT? POLISH OFFICIALS CONCEDED ON 28 DECEMBER THAT LEGAL EXPERTS HAD COMPLETED FIVE SEPARATE EVALUATIONS OF THE CONCORDAT BETWEEN POLAND AND THE VATICAN. These evaluations, made at the request of Justice Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, apparently pointed to discrepancies between the terms of the concordat and existing Polish legislation. The concordat, signed on 28 July, awaits ratification by the parliament. The ousted Suchocka government, which hailed the concordat as one of its major achievements, submitted the document to the Sejm; but, on taking power, the new government withdrew it from consideration. Although officials stressed that the government has not yet discussed or come to any conclusion on the concordat's fate, the alleged discrepancies are already being used by some members of the ruling coalition as a legal (rather than political) argument against rapid ratification of the concordat. The coalition appears divided on the issue. The Polish Peasant Party advocates ratification; but the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) has expressed reservations. SLD leader Aleksander Kwasniewski told reporters on 28 December that the problems raised in the legal evaluations "reflect poorly on those who drafted the concordat." He indicated that the SLD deputies will not vote for ratification unless the concordat is renegotiated. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. POLISH DRAFT BUDGET COMPLETED. The cabinet concluded work on the draft 1994 budget and related legislation just in time to meet the 29 December deadline for submission to the parliament, PAP reports. Finance Minister Marek Borowski told reporters on 28 December that realization of the planned budget remains "within the realm of possibility." Government spending on health, education, defense, and other budget sectors will remain steady in real terms, rather than declining as it has in past years. Borowski noted that additional sums have been earmarked in 1994 for the purchase of domestic arms production, the liquidation of unprofitable mines, the promotion of export, and the provision of preferential credits for agriculture. Revenues are set to rise by 7.3% in real terms; spending by 8%. The budget includes major increases to finance Poland's debts. Domestic debt servicing is to rise from 61 trillion zloty ($2.9 billion) in 1993 to 101 trillion zloty ($4.8 billion) in 1994; and foreign debt servicing is to rise from 13 trillion zloty ($619 million) to 30 trillion ($1.4 billion). The draft budget maintains the same devaluation rate for the zloty as in 1993 (1.6% per month). Real wages are to rise 2% in 1994. Inflation is estimated at 27% for the year, PAP reports. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENTS IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC. The unemployment rate in the Czech Republic reached 3.3% in November, CTK reported on 28 December. While Prague has the lowest rate with 0.3%, northern Moravia remains the most affected region with 5.8% unemployed. German dailies on 28 December quoted a Dresdner Bank report assessing the Czech koruna as the most stable currency in post-communist Europe. The report said that real inflation in the Czech Republic dropped from 60% in 1991 to 10% in 1993 and that the koruna's exchange rate against all major Western currencies has remained almost unchanged over a considerable period of time. In other news, the US Pepsico company plans to open 40 Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets in the Czech Republic over the next four years, The Financial Times reported on 23 December. This represents the company's biggest commitment yet in the region. Jan Obrman, RFE/RL, Inc. HUNGARY'S NUCLEAR WASTE PROBLEM GROWS. The Austrian daily Die Presse reported in its 27 December edition that Hungary's nuclear waste problem is intensifying. Russia is no longer accepting radioactive waste produced by Hungary's Soviet-designed atomic plant at Paks. During the current re-negotiations of the agreement, it was discovered that there was no contractual agreement to do so in the past. In addition, Ukraine has problems with transportation of the waste through its territory. Storage facilities at Paks will be filled by early 1995. Paks produces 56 tons of nuclear waste yearly. Hungarian officials are also talking with French and British firms about solutions to the problem. Karoly Okolicsanyi, RFE/RL, Inc. BULGARIA SEEKS EXTRADITION OF EX-POLITBURO MEMBER. Several dailies on 29 December quoted Bulgaria's Prosecutor General, Ivan Tatarchev, as disclosing that Bulgaria has officially requested the extradition of Ognyan Doynov, a former member of the Politburo, from his present residence in Austria. Doynov, ex-ambassador to Norway and a former employee of British industrialist and publisher Robert Maxwell, is among 22 communist ex-officials indicted for having mismanaged the Bulgarian economy, and mentioned as a key witness in a case against perpetrators of ecological crimes. BTA reports that Interpol confirmed on 24 December that Doynov, following a decision by a Vienna court, had been arrested by Austrian police. Although Standart quoted a lawyer of the ex-Politburo member as saying that Bulgaria and Austria lack a formal agreement on extradition, Tatarchev told Demokratsiya that he expects Doynov to appear before a Bulgarian court as early as January. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc. ROMANIAN OPPOSITION CALLS FOR SPECIAL PARLIAMENTARY SESSION. The Democratic Convention of Romania, the main opposition alliance, has called for a special session of the parliament to prevent the government from issuing decrees with the force of law, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Bucharest on 28 December. The statement says the government wants to enforce important laws, including one that would raise taxes, before parliament reconvenes after the holiday recess on 1 February. These laws, the DCR says, are too important to go into effect without public debate, and a special session should be held on 3 January. One day earlier, the DCR representatives walked out of the Chamber of Deputies, challenging the legality of the debate on empowering the government to rule by decree. Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc. SNEGUR WILL NOT BE NEUTRAL. Moldovan President Mircea Snegur said in an interview carried by Interfax on 28 December that he would not remain neutral in the February elections to the Moldovan parliament. Otherwise, he said, nationalist forces might win as in Russia. He would call on the voters to support those parties and movements that sought to consolidate Moldova's independence, "those who are not dragging us either to Moscow or to Bucharest." Snegur accused the opposition of shamelessly using for their own political purposes the case of Ilie Ilascu and 5 others sentenced for terrorism by a Transdniester court. He said he was continuing to work energetically for the transfer of the six to the Moldovan authorities. (The statement by his spokesman Vasile Grozavu on 24 December--reported in RFE/RL's Daily Report No. 246 on 27 December--that the Dniester authorities were ready to hand them over appears to have been premature.) Ann Sheehy, RFE/RL, Inc. ESTONIAN GDP RISES. The Estonian Statistics Department announced that in the third quarter of 1993 the country's gross democratic product (GDP) rose for the first time since independence was regained, BNS reported on 28 December. The quarter's GDP of 5,322.2 million kroons ($390 million) was 6.4% higher than the GDP of 5,003.5 million kroons in the second quarter. The main factors responsible for the rise were higher personal incomes leading to greater individual consumption, and the establishment of new institutions to increase public sector consumption. The department expressed concern, however, about a decline in investments, noting that the slow pace of privatization of large enterprises was blocking investment in businesses that were already operating. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. LATVIA CREATES COUNCIL OF GOVERNMENT, EMPLOYERS, EMPLOYEES. On 28 December government officials, trade unions, and employers formed a 36-member council to mediate in conflicts between employers and employees and establish "normal contractual relations at various levels," BNS reports. The council established three committees: for Labor Protection, Social Affairs, and Economic Promotion. It did not approve draft statutes pending editorial amendments. The council's member organizations made a commitment to stimulate the creation of similar three-way councils in Latvia's raions. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. BELARUSIAN DEFENSE BUDGET. Interfax reported on 28 December that the Belarusian parliament has allotted 692.4 billion rubles for the republic's military budget for 1994. The Deputy Minister for National Security and Crime Fighting, Valyeri Paulau, said the sum was inadequate and that the Belarusian armed forces would not have sufficient funds to purchase up-to-date weaponry or to train personnel. Almost $33 million is needed next year just to meet Belarus' commitments under the treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by John Lepingwell & Anna SwidlickaRFE/RL Daily Report, No. 249
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