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No. 12, 19 January 1994
CIS KOZYREV STATEMENT AND DENIAL ON BALTICS. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev was quoted by ITAR-TASS (in English; ITAR-TASS in Russian did not carry details) on 18 January as saying during a speech to Russian ambassadors to the CIS and the Baltic states: "We should not withdraw from those regions which have been the sphere of Russian interests for centuries;" we should not fear the words "military presence." He also reportedly said that it is necessary for Russia to keep its military presence in former Soviet republics to prevent forces hostile to Russia from filling the "security vacuum." Notably, Kozyrev was reported to have included the Baltic states in what he described as a region of "vital" interest to Russia and one also poses a "major threat" to those interests. Kozyrev's aide, Galina Sidorova, was quick to deny that Kozyrev had included the Baltic states in his formulation, saying that the press had misrepresented his remarks. The Baltic aspect was the only part of the speech Sidorova disclaimed. Kozyrev has stated in public on a number of occasions (including in interviews with Izvestiya on 8 October and with Nezavisimaya gazeta on 24 November) that Russia intends to hold on to positions conquered over the centuries by maintaining military bases and/or peacekeeping operations in these areas. Suzanne Crow, RFE/RL, Inc. US QUESTIONS KOZYREV STATEMENT. Washington responded quickly to press reports of Kozyrev's statements. US State Dept. spokesman Mike McCurry said that the US embassy in Moscow was looking for a full transcript of Kozyrev's remarks. He noted that the United States has "told the Russian government repeatedly that we expect prompt withdrawal of all Russian troops from Estonia and Latvia," and that this topic was discussed during recent talks between Boris Yeltsin and Bill Clinton. McCurry said, "we don't accept any view that suggests Russia should assert or exercise a special role or prerogative . . . inconsistent with the UN charter, the principles of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe and general principles of international law," Western agencies reported. Suzanne Crow, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIA WARNS OF WARHEAD DANGER. At a press conference held by the Russian Ministry of Defense, General Colonel Evgenii Maslin warned that the nuclear warheads in Ukraine are becoming unsafe. According to ITAR-TASS and Ostankino TV of 18 January, Maslin called for the immediate commencement of warhead withdrawal and claimed that Russia could accomplish the withdrawal within one year. John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc. DEFENSE MINISTRY BACKS KRAVCHUK. Ukrainian Defense Minister Vitalii Radetsky on 18 January informed reporters that he supported the trilateral agreement, UNIAR reported. On the same day Reuters reported that the commander of the 43rd Missile Army (the strategic rocket forces located in Ukraine), Lt. General Vladimir Mikhtyuk, expressed concern over the condition of the warheads and suggested that they were becoming increasingly hazardous due to improper storage. The admission that the warheads may be dangerous contradicts other recent statements by Ukrainian defense officials. On 16 December UKRINFORM-TASS reported Mikhtyuk had summarized an official Ministry of Defense report on the weapons by noting that while there were problems, the situation was "under control" and he had dismissed warnings of a "second Chernobyl." The about-face suggests that the Defense Ministry is being enlisted in the effort to sell the accord to the Ukrainian parliament. John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc. IMPLEMENTATION OF DEAL AFTER MARCH? Interfax on 18 January reported that at a press conference on the same day, an arms control official in the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, Kostyantyn Hryshchenko, stated that the trilateral deal would not be implemented until after START-1 was ratified. There has been no separate confirmation of this report. This would seem to delay implementation until after the 27 March election of a new parliament, after which President Kravchuk plans to resubmit START-1 for ratification. Those parts of the deal which have been publicly released by the US do not specify any starting point for implementation, an unusual omission in a formal agreement. John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc. BELARUS APPROVES CIS CHARTER. The Belarusian parliament on 18 January ratified the charter of the Commonwealth of Independent States but included two caveats, Radio Liberty's Belarusian Service reported that day. One caveat stated that the Belarus parliament must approve any participation by Belarusian troops in conflict areas; the other stipulated that any Belarusian troops sent to such areas must be volunteers. The opposition did not take part in the voting. So far six states have ratified the CIS Charter- Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan- while Azerbaijan and Georgia are expected to ratify the agreement in the near future. At the Ashgabat summit CIS leaders extended the term of the ratification for the Charter for Moldova by three months. The deadline for its ratification had been 23 January 1994. Elizabeth Teague & Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIA FEDOROV NOT ACCEPTING JOB OFFER. President Boris Yeltsin and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin have been unsuccessful in keeping Finance Minister Boris Fedorov in the government, Russian and Western news agencies reported on 18 January. Fedorov was demanding the resignation of Central Bank head Viktor Gerashchenko and Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Zaveryukha as a condition for his staying on. Reports of the departure of Fedorov were greeted with dismay by reformers, many of whom forecast a dramatic increase in inflation in the near future. In a related story, Deputy Minister Aleksandr Shokhin, currently in charge of international financial issues, has been offered the post of Minister of the Economy that was vacated by Egor Gaidar on 16 January. Erik Whitlock, RFE/RL, Inc. . . . AND RUBLE CONTINUES TUMBLE. As a result of recently introduced restrictions on the use of hard currency and growing uncertainty about the future of economic reform the ruble has lost about 20% of its value vis-a-vis the dollar over the course of the last week. On 18 January, in the wake of reports of Fedorov's departure, the ruble-dollar exchange rate at the Moscow Interbank currency exchange shot up from 1,402 to 1,504, according to various Russian and Western news agencies. Erik Whitlock, RFE/RL, Inc. YELTSIN TO NAME SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE TO PARLIAMENT. In yet another sign that he is interested in establishing better working relations with the new parliament than he had with the previous one, President Yeltsin signed a decree establishing the post of personal representative to the parliament. Yeltsin's spokesman told AP on 18 January that the head of the presidential administration, Sergei Filatov, was instructed to define the duties of the representative and propose a candidate. The spokesman said the post will be occupied by a "very important figure," but he did not give any indication of who it might be. Vera Tolz, RFE/RL, Inc. STATE DUMA ELECTS MORE COMMITTEE CHAIRMEN. On 18 January, the State Duma continued to elect chairmen of its committees, ITAR-TASS reported. Representatives of Russia's Choice will head four committees--on defense, on the organization of the work of the Duma, on information policy, and on health issues. Sergei Shakhrai's Party of Russian Unity and Concord will have control over three committees--on the CIS and ties with the Russians living abroad, on the problems of federation and regionalism, and on issues of local self-government. The chairmanship of two committees--on legislation and legal reform, and on agriculture--went to representatives of the Agrarian Party. Committees on international relations and on taxation went to representatives of YABLOKO. Communists will chair committees on security issues, and on activities of political and religious organizations; the New Regional Policy faction will control committees on nationalities issues, and on privatization. The committee on economic policy will be chaired by a representative of the Democratic Party of Russia. Zhirinovsky's LDP got control over five committees (see Daily Report no. 11). Zhirinovsky personally is not chairing any committee. He was initially expected to be in charge of the committee on geopolitics, but the post eventually went to another LDP representative--Viktor Ustinov. Vera Tolz, RFE/RL, Inc. DUMA VOTES AGAINST CONSTRUCTION OF NEW PARLIAMENT BUILDING. The State Duma voted overwhelmingly on 18 January against government plans to spend 500 million dollars on the construction of a new parliament building, Russian Television "Vesti" reported. A resolution supported by 365 deputies stated it was unreasonable to spend so much money on the building at the time Russia was facing a financial crisis. Egor Gaidar cited the decision to allocate money for the new parliament building as one of the reasons behind his resignation from the government. Vera Tolz, RFE/RL, Inc. MOSCOW DUMA STARTS WORK. The Moscow city Duma (Moscow's new local government) was elected on 12 December and has begun its work, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 12 January. Moscow was the first city to elect a new local government; Yeltsin has ordered that elections for local legislatures in other regions of Russia are to be held this spring, and preparations for these elections are getting underway throughout the country. Meanwhile, the Moscow city administration has forbidden a march to Red Square commemorating the seventieth anniversary of Lenin's birth that was planned for next Saturday (22 January) by hardline communist organizations, including "Working Russia." Elizabeth Teague, RFE/RL, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA BAKU TURKIC SUMMIT POSTPONED SINE DIE. The summit of heads of state from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Turkey that was scheduled to take place in Baku on 21-22 January has been postponed sine die "for technical reasons", according to ITAR-TASS quoting an Azerbaijani presidential spokesman. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. KYRGYZSTAN JOINS CENTRAL ASIAN UNION. Kyrgyzstan has joined the economic union established recently by Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, according to Interfax on 16 January and Reuters--citing Uzbek news sources--on 18 January. A joint communiqu▌ released during Uzbek president Islam Karimov visit to Bishkek on 16 January indicated that the three nations would work to reduce tariffs in the region and coordinate fiscal and monetary policies. Karimov signed a number of other bilateral economic and cultural agreements on his visit to Bishkek. Erik Whitlock, RFE/RL, Inc. DISPUTE OVER DUAL CITIZENSHIP CONTINUES IN KYRGYZSTAN. The press service of Kyrgyzstan's President Askar Akaev issued a statement on 18 January, reminding citizens that Akaev's proposal to introduce the possibility of dual citizenship must be submitted to the decision of the country's legislature, ITAR-TASS reported. Akaev suggested that at least temporary acceptance of dual citizenship could help reduce the fears of Russian-speaking citizens of Kyrgyzstan that they have little future in the country. Two of the major Kyrgyz parties, Asaba and Erkin Kyrgyzstan, have sharply criticized Akaev for his proposal. Kyrgyzstan's legislature rejected dual citizenship during the 1993 debates on the country's new constitution. Russia has pressured Kyrgyzstan, along with the other Central Asian states, to accept dual citizenship. Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc. KAZAKHSTAN BEGINS TO SET UP NAVY. Kazakhstan has begun acting on its earlier decision to create its own navy on the basis of its share of the USSR's Caspian Sea fleet, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 January. The Kazakhstani fleet is to be stationed near the city of Aktau on the Mangyshlak Peninsula. Ship-building yards are to be moved to Uralsk. Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc. CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE DEADLOCK IN GENEVA TALKS. International media report on 19 January that the previous day's peace talks between the three Bosnian factions, plus Serbia and Croatia, ended in stalemate. The Washington Post quotes negotiator Thorvald Stoltenberg as saying that the atmosphere "has never been less conducive" to a settlement, and Bosnian UN ambassador Mohamed Sacirbey as noting that "we are not convinced things are moving in the right direction." The Muslims accuse the Serbs and Croats of being stubborn, while those two parties charge the Muslims with demanding too much land. One of the more bizarre disputes is that between the Croats and Muslims over the Adriatic port of Neum. The Muslims want it as their outlet to the sea, even though experts say it cannot be developed as a commercial port, but Croatia refuses to give it up lest Dalmatia be split in two, even though the ethnically Croat town is legally part of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, not Croatia. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. COT TO LEAVE YUGOSLAV POST. Reuters on 18 January noted that France confirmed that Gen. Jean Cot, the UN commander in the former Yugoslavia, will be replaced following his dispute with Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, in which Cot called for the authority to launch air strikes. Elsewhere, CNN quotes other UN officials as saying that much of the Muslim population of Maglaj is suffering from malnutrition after months of being besieged by Serbs and Croats. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVENES FIRE 3,000 CROATS. Borba on 19 January reports that Slovene firms in border regions have sacked about 3,000 workers who are Croatian citizens in recent weeks. New Slovene policies require that preference be given to Slovenes in employment, although many of the Croats had been on the payrolls of their companies for years. The Belgrade daily says that the firings are really politically motivated and are just one more in a series of seemingly petty disputes between the two neighboring but mutually mistrustful republics. Still reporting from Ljubljana, the paper notes that Slovenia has told the United States that it is "interested and ready" to join the Partnership for Peace plan. Meanwhile in Zagreb, Novi list of 18 January reports on the government's campaign against three independent papers, namely itself, Globus, and Feral tribune. Finally in Skopje, the authorities have said that the accident-plagued airport there will now be used only for civilian traffic and will cease having any military function. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. MACEDONIANS SEEM TO FAVOR EARLY NATIONAL ELECTIONS. "Bri-Ma," a joint venture with the Gallup organization, conducted a poll on holding parliamentary elections in November 1993. The results, reported by Vecer on 15 January and MIC on 18 January, indicate overall that 62% would support immediate elections. Some 1,036 people were in the sample and no margin of error was indicated. The data show that the current chief government coalition party, the Social Democratic Alliance of Macedonia, would garner 22.8%, followed by the Albanian Party for Democratic Prosperity and People's Democratic Party with 18.4%, and the nationalist International Macedonian Revolutionary Organization-Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity with 11.2%. The newly formed Democratic Party would win 6.3%, the Socialist Party, 3.3%, and the Liberal Party 3.2%. Another 18.6% of the people polled were undecided, while 6.6% said they would abstain from voting. Regional differences in terms of party preferences were pronounced according to the survey. Analysts believe these results reflect the current popular consensus in Macedonia. Duncan Perry, RFE/RL, Inc. ZHIVKOV'S SEVEN-YEAR SENTENCE UPHELD. On 18 January the Bulgarian Supreme Court rejected an appeal by communist ex-president Todor Zhivkov against a seven-year sentence passed by a Sofia court in September 1992. Although the defense had argued that Zhivkov in his capacity as head of state was immune to prosecution on such charges, the Supreme Court thereupon convicted the ex-dictator of having embezzled 21.5 million leva (then worth $24 million) in public funds, most of which was used to buy luxury presents for his closest entourage. While BTA said Zhivkov could be transferred to jail even within the next few days, Western agencies quoted lawyers suggesting that the court instead may decide that the 83-year-old Zhivkov, due to frail health, can serve the sentence as house arrest at his granddaughter's home, where he has lived since 1990. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc. UN TO EASE TRAFFIC AT DANUBE RIVER CROSSING. The United Nations are working on a plan to ease road traffic jams at a Romanian-Bulgarian border crossing caused by the UN embargo against rump Yugoslavia, Reuters reported on 7 January. A UN program coordinator in Romania, Bernard Fery, said that delays of up to 24 hours occur between the Romanian port of Giurgiu and the Bulgarian port of Russe and are caused by traffic diverted from rump Yugoslavia. Work on more efficient customs checks for goods in transit is to be completed in two months, Fery said. He added the project was part of UN efforts to ease the impact of the sanctions on rump Yugoslavia's neighbors. Michael Shafir., RFE/RL, Inc. NATIONALISTS LIKELY TO JOIN ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT. The vice chairman of the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania, Senator Doru Ioan Taracila, said the Party of Romanian National Unity, led by the controversial extreme nationalist mayor of Cluj, Gheorghe Funar, will probably join the government. Taracila told the press in Bucharest on 18 January that negotiations with the PRNU had been productive, an RFE/RL correspondent reported on the same day. Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc. ROMANIAN BANK GOVERNOR URGES CLEAR POLICY. The governor of Romania's National Bank, Mugur Isarescu, said on 17 January that some of the country's leaders must stop their ambiguous approach towards economic reform, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Bucharest. Isarescu said "we either let the mechanisms of free market work freely, or we return to a super-centralized economy." Living with both kinds of economies, he added, would only lead to hyperinflation. Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc. MORE RUSSIAN WEAPON DELIVERIES TO HUNGARY. Reuters reported on 18 January, quoting a Hungarian Defence Ministry official, that Russia is prepeared to settle its long-standing $800 million trade debt with deliveries of air-defence missiles to Hungary. The offer represented a change of mind by the Russians, who last year turned down a Hungarian missile request but supplied 28 MIG-29 advanced interceptor jets to cover about half the debt. The number of missiles to be delivered has not yet ben determined. Karoly Okolicsanyi, RFE/RL, Inc. PRESIDENTIAL SUMMIT PLANS ANNOUNCED. Reuters reported on 18 January that a Hungarian presidential spokesman said that the presidents of Germany, Austria, the four Visegrad Countries, and Slovenia will meet for an informal summit in the Czech town of Litomysl in the first part of April. The initiative came from Czech President Vaclav Havel. A senior Czech official said that the aim of the summit is to create warmer relations between neighboring countries and not to produce any pact or communique. Karoly Okolicsanyi, RFE/RL, Inc. COUNCIL OF EUROPE EXPERTS END VISIT TO SLOVAKIA. On 18 January CE experts held press conference following two days of talks with Slovak government officials led by Deputy Premier Roman Kovac, who is chairman of the governmental commission on public administration. Mario Martins, a member of the CE delegation, said "there are no disagreements between the experts from the Council of Europe and the Slovak Republic" and noted that plans for decentralization will improve the effectiveness of local administrations and improve relations between the state and the citizens. Martins noted the importance of creating a system for financing regions "which will ensure the needs of different language groups," thus guaranteeing the rights of minorities. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAKIA TO BID FOR WINTER OLYMPICS IN 2002. On 18 January the cabinet approved a proposal to enter Slovakia's candidacy for the 2002 Winter Olympics, TASR reports. The games would be held in the Poprad district in the High Tatra mountains in northeastern Slovakia. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. KOCARNIK ON CZECH BUDGET SURPLUS. Czech Finance Minister Ivan Kocarnik revealed that the country recorded a budget surplus of 1.1 billion koruny (about $36 million), Czech newspapers reported on 19 January. According to the minister, revenues totaled 358 billion koruny and expenditures 356.9 billion in 1993. Moreover, he said, local self-governments recorded a budget surplus of anywhere between 4 and 6 billion koruny. Kocarnik praised the results, saying that in the context of the introduction of a new tax system, the budget surplus is an expression of success which "positively influenced the stability of prices and had an anti-inflationary impact." Jan Obrman, RFE/RL, Inc. CZECH FOREIGN MINISTRY KNEW NOTHING OF SKODA TALKS WITH IRAN. The ministry said it has not been informed about discussions of arms sales to Iran by the director of the Skoda heavy engineering company, CTK reported on 18 January. A spokeswoman for the ministry said that Iranian officials have not approached her ministry at any point about such arms sales. Both she and the Iranian Embassy in Prague declined to comment on reports in the Czech media about a meeting between Skoda's director Lubomir Soudek and Iranian officials in Teheran last November. Jan Obrman, RFE/RL, Inc. CZECH REPUBLIC APPLIES FOR OECD MEMBERSHIP. The Czech Republic has officially applied for membership in the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, CTK reported on 18 January. OECD's General Secretary Jean-Claude Paye said in Paris after receiving the application, that it was "logical" that the Czech Republic would seek membership in this prestigious organization, and said he was "pleased" by it. He pointed out that in the case of the Czech Republic there will not be any problems, but warned that the application proceedings can take several years. The only other post-communist country that applied for OECD membership is Hungary. Jan Obrman, RFE/RL, Inc. CDP REMAINS MOST POPULAR CZECH PARTY. According to a recent opinion poll that was circulated by CTK on 18 January, 32% of Czechs would vote for the ruling Civic Democratic Party of Premier Vaclav Klaus if elections were held today. The CDP's coalition partner, the Civic Democratic Alliance would receive about 14%, followed by the Social Democrats with 13%. Only two other parties would gain more than the 5% necessary for representation in parliament, namely the Communists (with 9%) and the Christian Democratic Union (with 6%). Jan Obrman, RFE/RL, Inc. INFLATION SURGES IN POLAND. Prices rose 5.6% in the month of December alone, Rzeczpospolita reported on 18 January. Following a 3.9% rise in November, this new upsurge in inflation has alarmed many Polish economists. Although the price situation was under control before the new government took power, the upturn in prices at year's end has meant that annual inflation (December 1992 to December 1993) reached 37.6%, well in excess of the target of 32%. In another disturbing development, wages rose 15.3% in December alone, following a 7% rise in November. Although real wages fell overall by 3.2% in 1993, in the final quarter of the year they grew in real terms by 14.6%, creating the threat of further high inflation in the first months of 1994. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. MORE ON THE ARREST OF LITHUANIAN COMMUNISTS. On 17 January Lithuanian Prosecutor General Arturas Paulauskas held a press conference, broadcast live by Radio Lithuania, on the arrests of Mykolas Burokevicius and Juozas Jermalavicius. He noted that the two leaders of the banned Communist Party had been arrested in Minsk and handed over to Lithuania in accordance with the mutual legal assistance agreement between Lithuania and Belarus that went into effect on 11 September 1993. Lithuania has submitted requests to Belarus for the extradition of more Lithuanian Communists. The two men, claiming to be "professional revolutionaries," refused to sign interrogation records. They are charged with aggravated murder and high treason and if convicted would face sentences ranging from 15 years imprisonment to the death penalty. On 18 January Burokevicius, who is suffering from several heart diseases, was transfered to the Lukiskes prison hospital. Belarus Communist Party First Secretary Viktor Chikin protested what he termed the kidnapping of people by Lithuanians. The Communist Party faction in the Russian Duma distributed a statement protesting the detentions, but by a majority of votes were denied the opportunity to read out the statement before the chamber, Interfax reported on 18 January. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT TO VISIT LITHUANIA. On 18 January during a telephone conversation Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk accepted the invitation of his Lithuanian counterpart Algirdas Brazauskas to visit Lithuania in February, Interfax reports. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. ESTONIAN AND LITHUANIAN PREMIERS MEET IN TALLINN. On 18 January Adolfas Slezevicius, accompanied by his industry and trade minister, energy minister, and defense ministry officials, on an unofficial visit to Tallinn discussed cooperation in energy matters, control of air space, and weapons purchases with Estonian Mart Laar, Radio Lithuania reported on 19 January. The premiers will hold talks with their Latvian counterpart Valdis Birkavs in Jurmala on 19 January. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. BALTIC LEADERS ON GAIDAR'S RESIGNATION. Estonian premier Mart Laar viewed Gaidar's resignation from the Russian government as a step backwards in the reform policy pursued by Russia. Latvian president Guntis Ulmanis expressed regret over the resignation because in his opinion Gaidar's economic policy was rational and specific. Premier Valdis Birkavs, however, said that Gaidar's resignation was a matter of Russia's internal politics; he felt that it would not have much effect on Russian-Latvian economic contacts, which have declined significantly over the past two years, Interfax reported on 18 January. Nonetheless, in 1993 Russia was still Latvia's principal trade partner, Diena reported on 17 January. Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc. LATVIAN REACTION TO CLINTON-YELTSIN PRESS CONFERENCE. Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis has expressed concern over President Clinton's and President Yeltsin's statements at a press conference in Moscow that was aired by Ostankino TV on 14 January. He told the press on 17 January in Riga that Latvia does not violate human rights as it was implied in the press conference. He added: "I would not like to think that two super-powers have finally decided the future of smaller states." Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc. YELTSIN ADVISER ON RUSSIAN POLICY TOWARD MOLDOVA. Russia's Presidential Council member Andranik Migranian writes in Nezavisimaya Gazeta of 18 January that the conflict in Moldova "has played a great role in changing the Russian establishment's understanding of Russia's role in the post-Soviet space." After Russia's 14th Army in Moldova became "actively involved in the conflict," Russia's Foreign Ministry and radical democratic circles were concerned that adverse international reactions would folow. "The West, however, feared that any strong response to Russia over the 14th Army's actions . . . may overburden the ruling democrats, and therefore refrained from any serious demarches against Russia; whereupon the Russian Foreign Ministry's position in turn shifted toward the unconditional defense of the Dniester republic . . . Today practically all political forces in Russia share similar positions toward Moldova." The "Dniester factor," moreover, "nudges the Moldovan leadership toward joining the CIS." Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. ANOTHER NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE AGAINST SHUSHKEVICH? Speaking on national television on 17 January, the Chairman of Belarus' Supreme Soviet, Stanislau Shushkevich, said he knew some deputies were planning to try to force his resignation at the parliamentary session on 18 January, Interfax reported. Henadz Kazlau, the coordinator of the conservative "Belarus," parliament's largest faction, said that more than 100 signatures had been collected in support of a no-confidence vote against Shushkevich. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Patrick Moore & Stephen Foye
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