|When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain|
No. 9, 14 January 1994
CIS TRILATERAL NUCLEAR WEAPONS AGREEMENT SIGNED. On 14 January, Presidents Clinton, Kravchuk and Yeltsin signed the trilateral agreement on the elimination of the nuclear weapons located in Ukraine. According to Radio Mayak, the agreement includes "a joint statement which has the status of a treaty, an appendix to it" and letters from the presidents. Presumably the letters spell out the security guarantees to be given to Ukraine. Mayak also reported that some 200 warheads will be transferred to Russia over the next ten months, and Reuters adds that during the same time period Russia will deliver 100 tons of nuclear fuel to Ukraine. At the press conference of Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin, Clinton noted that the SS-24 ICBMs will all be deactivated within 10 months. Mayak reported that the agreement does not include a full timetable for the withdrawal of warheads, although the agreement does provide for their withdrawal "in the shortest possible time." Work on the timetable is continuing and reports indicate that the current draft timetable will apparently not be made public. (The defunct Massandra agreements between Ukraine and Russia of September 1993 provided for all warheads to be withdrawn in 24 months, suggesting that a rapid transfer of weapons is possible.) John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc. URANIUM AGREEMENT SIGNED. In addition to the accord on nuclear weapons, Russia and the US concluded a contract on uranium sales, which sets the terms for the sale of uranium from the dismantled warheads. Viktor Mikhailov, the Minister for Atomic Energy, told ITAR-TASS on 14 January that the uranium will come from some 20,000 warheads to be dismantled. The contract calls for Russia to sell up to 500 metric tons of highly enriched uranium to the US over a twenty year period, with total sales amounting to some $12 billion. The contract also apparently resolves an ongoing dispute between the two countries over market share for nuclear fuel. The US has been concerned that Russia was dumping its fuel, while Russia has been trying to expand its small 5-6% share of the world market. Yeltsin noted in his press conference statement that one reason for the difficult two-year long negotiations on uranium sales was Western fear of Russian technology and cheaper material costs. Reuters reports that the terms of the contract will be evaluated annually, to take into account fluctuations in demand and fuel price. John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc. KRAVCHUK FACES CONFRONTATION WITH PARLIAMENT OVER NUCLEAR DEAL. With the terms of the trilateral nuclear deal still not officially announced in Ukraine, the level of concern about a possible "sellout" by President Kravchuk and his disregard for parliament has been growing. On 13 January, Ukrainian and Western media reported that political leaders and legislators ranging from Oleksandr Moroz, the head of the neo-Communist Socialist Party of Ukraine, to Stepan Khmara, the leader of the radical nationalist Ukrainian Conservative Republican Party have voiced their skepticism, or, more often, their opposition, to a deal which they consider has been done behind their backs and which they suspect, as Rukh leader Vyacheslav Chornovil, put it, amounts to an act of "shameful capitulation." Deputies are also warning, as Bohdan Horyn, the deputy head of the foreign affairs commission, told Reuters, that Kravchuk's handling of the matter is leading to a "dangerous" confrontation with parliament on the eve of parliamentary elections in the country. As for the judicial force which Kravchuk's signature carries on international agreements, Article 114-5 of the Constitution of Ukraine states that the President "shall conduct negotiations and sign inter-state and international treaties of Ukraine, which come into effect after ratification by the Supreme Council (parliament) of Ukraine." Bohdan Nahaylo, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIA FACTIONS DETERMINED IN STATE DUMA. Parliamentary groups and factions in the State Duma were determined in meetings on 13 January, Reuters and Interfax reported. Independent deputies united to form a group called "new regional policy" led by Vladimir Medvedev, an official in the oil industry. This group has 65 seats-many more than original figures for the independent deputies had indicated. The largest faction is still the pro-reform Russia's Choice, with 76 seats; the far-right Liberal Democrats have 63 seats; the Agrarian party 55; and the Communist Party 45. Then come two reformist groups: Sergei Shakhrai's Party of Russian Unity and Concord with 30 seats and Grigorii Yavlinsky's YABLOKO bloc with 25 seats. The Women of Russia has 23; and Nikolai Travkin's Democratic Party of Russia has fifteen. Wendy Slater, RFE/RL, Inc. ELECTIONS OF CHAIRMAN BEGIN. The State Duma met in the afternoon of 13 January to elect a chairman, ITAR-TASS reported. Ten candidates were proposed by the factions which had met earlier in the day; four of them, including LDP leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Anatolii Lukyanov, the former Supreme Soviet Chairman now on trial in the 1991 coup case, later withdrew their candidacies. In the vote which followed, Ivan Rybkin of the Agrarian Party and Yurii Vlasov, a nationalist who chairs a deputies' bloc called "Russian Way," came in first and second with 233 and 200 votes respectively. The final secret ballot between Rybkin and Vlasov will be held on 14 January. Both are known as opponents of Yeltsin's reformist policies. Wendy Slater, RFE/RL, Inc. SHUMEIKO SAYS YELTSIN SHOULD SERVE SECOND TERM. In an interview with Munich's Sueddeutsche Zeitung on 13 January, newly-elected speaker of the upper house of the Russian parliament, Vladimir Shumeiko, said Yeltsin should serve a second term as head of state. (Yeltsin said earlier he would most probably not run as candidate in the next presidential elections.) Shumeiko argued that the buildup of the Russian presidency should not be interrupted. He said talk of Vladimir Zhirinovsky as a possible president means that the office does not yet have the respect it should get. He also argued that the communists are much more dangerous than Zhirinovsky. Vera Tolz, RFE/RL, Inc. CHUBAIS TO KEEP HIS JOB. Boris Yeltsin has signed a decree aimed both at "ensuring the continuation of the privatization process" and at ensuring that Anatolii Chubais, chairman of the State Committee overseeing privatization, retains his post as deputy prime minister, Russian Television announced on 13 January. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin is expected to announce a government re-shuffle next week. Elizabeth Teague, RFE/RL, Inc. LATEST ESTIMATE OF RUSSIAN UNEMPLOYMENT. Russia's Ministry of Labor says that the official data, which put the number of people out of work in Russia at around one million, seriously underestimate the number of unemployed. ITAR-TASS on 12 January quoted Vladimir Varov, deputy minister of labor, as saying the true number is between 4 and 5 million people, or 5-6 percent of the workforce. Of these, one million are officially registered as unemployed while the rest are "working for bankrupt enterprises, living on state subsidies disguised as wages, and producing nothing that anyone needs." The Los Angeles Times noted on 13 January that the government feels "the economy now is in better shape than in the past to withstand the rigors of shedding inefficient state-supported industries," but, in the wake of Zhirinovsky's electoral success, it is even more fearful than before that speeding up reforms might provoke a popular revolt. Elizabeth Teague, RFE/RL, Inc. YAVLINSKY PESSIMISTIC ABOUT REFORM. Interviewed on CNN on 13 January. reformist economist Grigorii Yavlinsky predicted that the person elected to the chair the lower and more influential house of the Russian parliament, the State Duma, will be a member of a group opposed to Yeltsin's reforms-probably the Agrarian Party which is informally allied with the Communist Party-and that this will provoke confrontation between the president and the parliament. Yavlinsky said that, because of the strong powers the new constitution vests in the president, the future of reform depends not on parliament, but on Yeltsin. But, he added, he doubted whether Yeltsin now has either the will or the ability to put reforms through. Elizabeth Teague, RFE/RL, Inc. "PAMYAT" REFUSED OFFICIAL REGISTRATION. The Russian Ministry of Justice has refused to register the extremist nationalist and anti-Semitic organization Pamyat (Memory), Ekho Moskvy reported on 11 January. The reason cited was that Pamyat's charter contradicts Russia's new constitution, Article 13 of which prohibits "the fueling of social, racial, national, or religious strife." Elizabeth Teague, RFE/RL, Inc. TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA ABKHAZIA, GEORGIA REQUEST UN PEACEKEEPERS. On the third and final day of the current round of UN sponsored talks in Geneva, the Georgian and Abkhaz delegations reached agreement on the start of repatriation of Georgian refugees under the supervision of a UN peacekeeping force to Gali raion in southeast Abkhazia, and the creation of a demilitarized zone along the river Inguri which forms the border between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia, Western agencies reported. The precise composition of the peacekeeping force was not determined, but both sides agreed on the inclusion of Russian troops. Talks will resume in early February in Moscow on the future constitutional status of Abkhazia. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. SHEVARDNADZE ENDORSES "PARTNERSHIP FOR PEACE" BUT HEDGES HIS BETS. Speaking at a press conference in Ankara on the final day of his visit to Turkey, Georgian parliament chairman Eduard Shevardnadze welcomed as "fair but prudent" NATO's Partnership for Peace offer and stated that Georgia intends to enter into "close cooperation" with NATO, Western agencies reported. At the same time, Shevardnadze argued that closer cooperation between the CIS and the countries of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, such as the creation of a security system, would likewise serve as a factor for stability in the Caucasus and Eastern and Central Europe, according to ITAR-TASS. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. NEW PARTY FORMED IN UZBEKISTAN. Dissident members of the Uzbek opposition Erk Party have founded their own political organization, the new group's Deputy Chairman Abdulqadir Zahidiy told an RFE/RL correspondent on 12 January. The chairman of the new party, Istiqlal yoli (Path of Independence), is Shodi Karimov, a history professor who sought to take over the leadership of Erk from founder Muhammad Salih at the party's congress in 1993 and later published a lengthy attack on Erk in the official Uzbek parliamentary daily Khalq sozi. The new party will, according to Zahidiy, be a "positive" opposition, seeking consultation with the government rather than confrontation. Erk has been unable to re-register as a political party; Istiqlal yoli has already submitted an application for registration and its chances for acceptance of the application seem good. Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc. CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE POLAND "MORE SECURE" WITH PARTNERSHIP. "Poland is more secure today than it was yesterday," Foreign Minister Andrzej Olechowski announced at a press conference held in Warsaw on 13 January to sum up the Prague summit. Poland's vocal campaign before the summit for a better offer from NATO had influenced the wording of the Partnership for Peace plan, Olechowski indicated, specifically in terms of the inclusion of Ukraine and the explicit declaration that NATO welcomes new members in the future. Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak said that the Western powers had agreed to make up for the lack of explicit political guarantees with specific concessions on trade and economic cooperation. Poland's idea of a "partnership for growth" met with a warm reception, Pawlak reported, and US President Bill Clinton pledged to press Europe to open its markets to East European exporters. Emphasizing the lack of border conflicts in the region or minority problems in Poland, Olechowski predicted that work on the long-delayed bilateral treaty with Lithuania could be finished by the end of January. Lithuania is the only one of Poland's seven neighbors with which a treaty has yet to be concluded. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. POLISH DELEGATION ASSURES GERMANY OF STABILITY. Sejm Speaker Jozef Oleksy headed a parliamentary delegation on an official visit to Germany on 11-14 January. Chancellor Helmut Kohl unexpectedly received the delegation on 13 January. Oleksy, a leading figure in the postcommunist Democratic Left Alliance, took pains to convince German political and business leaders that the new leftist government is committed to stability and continuity in economic policy. "Although the opposition won the Polish elections, there was no earthquake," Oleksy said during a speech in Bonn on 13 January. "We are a country of great political stability, in which extremist positions have been forced where they belong, to the margins of public life." The Polish delegation attended the Bundestag debate devoted to NATO's Partnership for Peace plan on 13 January. Kohl stressed during the debate that it is "inconceivable that the Polish-German border will permanently remain the boundary of the EU." German Defense Minister Volker Ruehe noted that joint maneuvers with NATO's East European partners could begin before the end of 1994. At a press conference on 13 January, Oleksy announced that a visit by Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak to Germany is in the works. PAP reports the visit could take place as soon as in early February. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. HUNGARY PREPARES FOR PARTNERSHIP FOR PEACE. According to Ministry of Defense department head Csaba Kiss, ministry experts began already last October to work out plans designed to allow Hungarian soldiers to participate in the Partnership for Peace program, MTI reports on 13 January. Kiss said that the aim is to bring defense planning into line with NATO norms and to strengthen civilian control over the military. The latter required closer cooperation in organizational matters between the Ministry of Defense and Hungarian Army Headquarters. Kiss said that Hungarian soldiers will receive special training for humanitarian aid and emergency missions in order to enable them to take part in peace-keeping missions not only as individual observers but also as independent subordinate units. The air defense system will also have to conform to NATO norms, which involves installing friend-foe identification systems in Hungarian planes and setting up a radar system on the ground that can communicate with NATO planes. Edith Oltay, RFE/RL, Inc. FRENCH CHIEF OF STAFF TO BUCHAREST. On 13 January a high-ranking French military delegation headed by Admiral Jacques Lanxade started an official visit to Romania. Lanxade was received by President Ion Iliescu, Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu and Defense Minister Nicolae Spiroiu. The talks focused on NATO's policy towards Eastern Europe and the recent Brussels summit, bilateral military cooperation, the Yugoslav crisis and other issues of mutual interest. In a separate development, Romania's main independent daily Romania Libera on 10 January quoted Spiroiu as saying that "it is in our interest to join [NATO] as soon as possible. However, it is not important if we enter [the organization], but rather that no discrimination takes place by accepting other countries form Central and Eastern Europe." The latter point is presumably a reference to the Visegrad states. Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL, Inc. MACEDONIA WANTS MEMBERSHIP IN NATO'S PROJECT. News agencies on 13 January quoted President Kiro Gligorov as telling visiting US congressmen that his country wants to join the Partnership for Peace plan. He sees this as a means of protecting Macedonia from "a spillover of war" from neighboring areas. The NATO project does not officially include any former Yugoslav republics, but Slovenia and Croatia generally see close relations with the Atlantic alliance as an integral part of their "joining Europe." Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. MOLDOVA WISHES TO JOIN NATO'S PARTNERSHIP FOR PEACE. "Moldova wishes to cooperate more closely with NATO, to establish links with its structures...and to participate in the Partnership for Peace, which constitutes an important stage toward integration into the Euro-Atlantic security structures," the Foreign Ministry said in an official statement reported by Basapress on 13 January. Last month a Euro-Atlantic Center was inaugurated in Chisinau. Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. BOSNIAN MUSLIMS MAY CALL FOR BOYCOTT OF NATO COUNTRIES' GOODS. Western news agencies on 13 January quoted Bosnia's UN Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey as saying that his country might ask other Muslim nations not to buy goods from NATO states and others that oppose lifting the arms embargo on the Bosnian Muslim forces. Britain and France have been especially outspoken against lifting the embargo, arguing that to do so would place their troops serving with UN forces there in jeopardy. The Sarajevo government has said repeatedly that all it wants in the way of outside military support is air strikes and a lifting of the embargo, thereby enabling Muslim ground troops to do their own fighting. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. CONTACTS BETWEEN BOSNIAN MUSLIMS AND THE ISLAMIC WORLD. Reuters reported on 12 January that foreign ministers of eight Muslim states will meet in Geneva on 17 January to give political support to the Bosnian Muslims in the peace talks slated to resume the following day. On 10 January, Western news agencies reported from Ankara that Turkish Prime Minister Tansu Ciller and her Pakistani counterpart Banazir Bhutto will go to Sarajevo in early February in a demonstration of solidarity with the Muslim cause. The Los Angeles Times quoted Ciller as saying that she wants "to draw the attention of the world one more time [to show] that this is simply a massacre.... It's a moral issue." The Bosnian Muslims are for the most part a highly secular people, but their leadership has sought close ties to both secular and religious Muslim countries alike, especially in the face of what the Bosnian Muslims regard as indifference on the part of Western countries to their fate. The Bosnian leadership has often been less than pleased with the amount of support the embattled republic has actually received from the Islamic world, but it continues to press nonetheless. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. NEW SERBIAN CURRENCY ON MONDAY. As Bosnian Serb forces continued to pound Sarajevo and Srebrenica, and as Serbs and Croats in Croatia announced an extension of their Christmas truce to the end of January, Reuters on 13 January quotes government economists in Serbia-Montenegro as saying that a new "gold dinar" will be launched on 17 January. The currency will be pegged to the German mark at one-to-one, but other economists say there is not enough gold or hard currency to back this latest attempt at stopping inflation, which rages at one million percent a month. The government blames international sanctions for the problem, but the Milosevic regime's neo-Stalinist economic policies and incessant printing of bank notes are more likely to blame. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. ALBANIAN PARTIES WILL NOT JOIN COALITION WITH SERBS. Neither the ethnic Albanian Party for Democratic Action nor the Democratic Party of Albanians are ready to join a coalition with Serbian opposition parties, Borba reported on 13 January. These parties represent Albanians in southern Serbia proper, an area to the north of Kosovo. The daily quotes the president of the Democratic Party of Albanians, Zecerija Fazlju, as saying that this is what most party members want. Fazlju added, however, that when parliament actually meets his party might join a coalition. A possible coalition is most likely between the Albanian parties, both of which come from southern Serbian districts with an Albanian majority outside Kosovo, and with the Democratic Union of Vojvodina Hungarians. Ismet Sadiku, the leader of the Party for Democratic Action, already said in Borba on 5 January that "a coalition with Serbian political parties is out of the question." In contrast to the Albanians in southern Serbia, the Albanians in the Serbian province of Kosovo boycotted the elections and continue to boycott Serbian political life in general. Elsewhere, AFP on 14 January quotes the UN High Commissioner for Refugees as urging European governments to accept asylum-seekers from Kosovo during the current winter. Fabian Schmidt, RFE/RL, Inc. YUGOSLAV ARMY TANK DRAGGED FUEL TANKER FROM ALBANIA. A tank from the rump-Yugoslav army crossed the Albanian border from Montenegro to pull a contraband fuel tanker out of the mud, Reuters reports on 12 January. There was no official comment from the Albanian government on the incident, which was monitored by villagers near the town of Moriqani. The government claims to enforce the embargo against Serbia-Montenegro, but Reuters quotes the Albanian daily Lajmtari as saying that fuel containers cross the Montenegrin border every day. The Albanian police nonetheless seized a Greek ship carrying 1,200 tons of gasoline bound for Montenegro in the port of Vlore on 11 January. Fabian Schmidt, RFE/RL, Inc. CRIMEAN ELECTIONS. Elections to the post of president of the autonomous Crimean republic are scheduled for this Sunday, January 16. Six candidates have been registered by the local electoral commission, and all but one, the current parliamentary speaker Mykola Bahrov, have said that they do not preclude a change in the peninsula's status, Radio Ukraine reports on 13 January. The political parties supporting a pro-Russian orientation have formed the "Russia" electoral bloc, and there have been rumors that these groups will withdraw their presidential candidates in favor of a single pro-Russian candidate in order to increase their electoral chances. Meanwhile, the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, which earlier resolved to boycott the elections, has now decided to support Bahrov. Roman Solchanyk, RFE/RL, Inc. CZECH NEWSPAPER EDITOR RESIGNS, CITES INTERFERENCE. Jaromir Setina, editor-in-chief of the Czech daily newspaper Lidove Noviny, has resigned in protest over what he described as editorial interference from the newspaper's new majority owner. In a statement published in Lidove Noviny on 13 January, Setina said that Ringier AG, the Swiss publishing company that acquired 51% of the newspaper in November 1993 and has significant holdings in 16 other Czech newspapers, had taken steps which threatened the newspaper's independence. Ringier's board of directors and the Ringier company denied the charges in statements published next to Setina's statement. Lidove Noviny was founded in 1893, banned by Communists in 1943, and was revived illegally in 1988 by Czech dissidents, including current Czech President Vaclav Havel and former Foreign Minister Jiri Dienstbier. It returned to daily, legal publication in 1989, following the fall of the communist regime. It currently sells 100,000 copies daily. Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAK NATIONAL PROPERTY FUND OFFICIALS RESIGN. On 13 January seven officials of the National Property Fund (FNM) resigned from their posts, including FNM presidium Vice President Ladislav Melcicky, as well as the chairman and five members of the FNM Executive Committee. Premier Vladimir Meciar, who has been serving as president of the FNM presidium, said the officials complained of centralized executive power, which has led to a slower transfer of property rights. Meciar said stronger authority of the presidium was necessary; the FNM has held irregular board meetings in major joint-stock companies because the Executive Committee "did not ensure the transfer of property rights in accordance with the FNM presidium's requirements." Meciar said the resignations also relate to problems with the Slovak Insurance Company (SP), which according to him has taken several steps without informing the FNM presidium. SP Chairman Vladimir Horvath rejected suspicions that the SP has violated the law. Jan Kato, current deputy chairman of the FNM Executive Committee, was appointed its new chairman; other committee members will be elected on 17 January. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. SQUABBLING IN SLOVAK NATIONAL PARTY. A 10 January statement of western Slovak representatives of the Slovak National Party, in which they accuse SNP Chairman Ludovit Cernak of secretly negotiating with ethnic Hungarian parliamentary leaders about the removal of Premier Vladimir Meciar, has brought further strain in the party. The SNP, which is the coalition partner of the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia, announced a split on 22 December, and recent squabbling threatens the government's parliamentary majority, which is now only 79 of 150 seats. On 11 January Cernak accused SNP Honorary Chairman Jozef Prokes, an alleged author of the statement, of working against the SNP's executive leadership. Expressing frustration with MDS policies, Cernak said the creation of his SNP faction shows "that not all deputies of the SNP are in the group which defends only the interests of the MDS," TASR reports. In a 13 January meeting of the SNP parliamentary deputies with representatives in the former Czechoslovak Federal Assembly, the former federal parliamentarians expressed their distrust in the current SNP leadership. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. BULGARIA TO BUY UP COMMERCIAL DEBT? Returning from a two-day meeting with representatives of commercial creditors in Frankfurt, on 13 January Finance Minister Stoyan Aleksandrov told reporters that Bulgaria may seek to resolve its considerable debt problems by purchasing liabilities directly from the country's major creditors. Aleksandrov said that, if parliament lends its support, the government will launch an international campaign to promote the repurchasing scheme, as well as to persuade some creditors to invest in Bulgaria. Bulgaria owes more than $9 billion to its commercial creditors and the debt is currently sold for slightly above 35 cents per owed dollar on the open market. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc. US OPENS INFORMATION OFFICE IN CLUJ. Radio Bucharest reported on 13 January that the United States opened an information office in Cluj-Napoca, the main city in Transylvania. The bureau's mission is to provide information about the US to the Romanian public, especially in the fields of culture, education, science and trade. It has no consular powers and is not entitled to issue visas. Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL, Inc. MOLDOVA FACING RUSSIAN DUAL CITIZENSHIP DEMAND. The daily Observatorul de Chisinau published on 12 January a document submitted by the Russian side through the CIS Secretariat at the CIS summit in Ashgabat last month, opening the way for granting Russians residing in CIS member states the citizenship of the Russian Federation in addition to the citizenship of the given state. The detailed document seems to have been leaked by Moldovan officials to expose the move, which the government itself had kept from the public. Moldova has until now opposed such dual citizenship as an abridgment of sovereignty, and sidestepped the issue at Ashgabat; but its position appears to be weakening in the face of Russia's recently intensified demands for dual citizenship. Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIAN MOVEMENT IN LATVIA FOR RETURN TO RUSSIA. Interfax reported on 8 January that 140 Russian families living in Latvia have addressed a letter to US President Clinton expressing their desire to reestablish permanent residence in Russia. They ask the president to facilitate their return by providing assistance in the building of a construction materials factory, creamery, and a meat packing plant in the Pskov region, which borders on Latvia. The families belong to a movement, called Korni (Roots), that aims to facilitate the repatriation of Russians to their homeland and they stress that they do not want to be "a blind weapon in the hands of nationalists like Zhirinovsky and his party." Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, the movement's leader, said that about 5,000 persons are ready to leave Latvia for Russia. Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc. LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT BANS CASINOS. On 11 January the Seimas prohibited gambling and casinos by adopting several amendments to the law on enterprises, BNS reported on 12 January. On 27 July the government had issued a decree authorizing the establishment and licensing of casinos, slot machines, and lotteries from which it expected to receive about 11-12 million litai ($3 million) in revenues per year. Finance Minister Eduardas Vilkelis told a press conference that he hoped that President Algirdas Brazauskas would not sign the amendments, noting that foreign investors had agreed to invest $12 million in privatizing the Lietuva Hotel only if it had a casino. The ban on gambling had been proposed by the right-wing opposition, whose leader Gediminas Vagnorius said that he was sure that casinos would be established in the future when legal institutions worked more effectively and then "only in certain territories." Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Suzanne Crow & Patrick Moore
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