|He who knows nothing is nearer the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors. - Thomas Jefferson|
No. 35, 21 February 1994
RUSSIA GRACHEV, PERRY CONFER ON BOSNIA. Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev and his American counterpart, Defense Secretary William Perry, conducted a lengthy telephone conversation on the night of 20 February over the situation in Bosnia. According to Interfax and Reuters, Perry assured Grachev that there would be no NATO air strikes launched against Bosnian Serbs on 21 February. Grachev was quoted as telling Perry that "all political-diplomatic measures are far from being exhausted . . . [and] Russia is doing its best not to permit bloodshed." Grachev said that a Russian UN military contingent that was redeploying to Sarajevo could be among the victims of any airstrike. He also reportedly made clear that Moscow was prepared to send an additional contingent of up to 300 men if such a decision were approved by the Russian parliament. The Russian force in Sarajevo currently numbers some 400 men. According to Interfax, Airborne Forces Evgenii Podkolzin and a group of Russian Defense Ministry officials are also in the city. On 19 February Russian Defense Ministry spokesmen denied a statement issued by the Airborne Forces press service that had said that Russia would not deploy its troops to positions near Sarajevo unless NATO abandoned its threat of air strikes. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIAN TREATMENT OF BOSNIA INITIATIVE. The withdrawal of heavy weapons from in and around Sarajevo by Bosnian Serbs in the three days before the NATO deadline was treated in Moscow as a Russian diplomatic victory. Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev said on 18 February upon arriving in Prague, "we do not link our actions with the NATO ultimatum and believe that it has a very indirect relationship to us." Deputy Foreign Minister and special envoy Vitalii Churkin said the key to securing the withdrawal had been that Russian President Boris Yeltsin had personally requested the withdrawal and that Russia had guaranteed the Bosnian Serbs that additional Russian peacekeeping forces would be supplied. The next step on Russia's diplomatic agenda, according to Churkin, is to put Sarajevo under U.N. control, as Russia has long proposed, Russian agencies reported. Suzanne Crow, RFE/RL, Inc. MILITARY NEWSPAPER ON RUSSIAN ROLE. Russia's main Defense Ministry newspaper, Krasnaya zvezda, said on 19 February that Russia's diplomatic breakthrough in Bosnia reaffirmed Russia's status as a world power with a key role to play in the former Yugoslavia, Reuters reports. In a front-page article the newspaper was quoted as saying that "if the West really wants peace in the Balkans, it must understand and accept the position of Russia: it must be seen as a great power and an equal partner." The newspaper also reportedly said that it was the trust of Bosnian Serbs in Russia, and not fear of NATO strikes, that had played the key role in reaching agreement on the withdrawal of weapons. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. DUMA SPEAKER IN BULGARIA. Russian State Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin arrived on a state visit to Bulgaria on 19 February to discuss bilateral relations and the crisis in Bosnia. On Bosnia, Rybkin said it is necessary to solve the Bosnian conflict "at the table of diplomatic negotiations and without military interference." He assured that Boris Yeltsin had given his blessing to the visit and said that the trip was aimed at improving bilateral cooperation and "preserving everything positive which had been accumulated earlier," ITAR-TASS reported. Suzanne Crow, RFE/RL, Inc. CONTROLS TIGHTENED ON ARMS EXPORTS. The newly created state arms export organization, "Rosvooruzhenie," is to control all arms exports in order to extract "maximum profits" and to prevent "dubious" deals. This was announced by Marshal Evgenii Shaposhnikov, President Yeltsin's personal representative in "Rosvooruzhenie," in an interview with Izvestiya cited by Reuters on 20 February. The organization was formed, according to the marshal, because the three state bodies that previously had the right to export arms had begun to compete against each other. Exporting enterprises had demonstrated "commercial incompetence," and thus arms exports had shrunk. Russian arms exports have declined in recent years. Their value in 1993 has been variously estimated at between $1.5 billion and $4 billion: an authoritative estimate in Segodnya on 27 January put the figure at $2.1 billion. Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIA'S CHOICE FACES PROBLEMS IN BECOMING A PARTY. Former Prime Minister Egor Gaidar has proposed the transformation of the movement, Russia's Choice, into a genuine political party, ITAR-TASS reported on 19 February. Gaidar stated that the race for the presidency has begun and democrats need to build the necessary structures to win in future elections. He said the party should fight fascism in Russia. Gaidar rejected the idea of becoming a purely presidential party for Boris Yeltsin. The Democratic Russia Movement--a broader association of democrats--rejected Gaidar's offer to join the new party arguing against becoming a new "nomenklatura party." Other reformers, such as Gennadii Burbulis or Mikhail Poltoranin, also distanced themselves from Gaidar. The only leading reformer who supported Gaidar was Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais. Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, Inc. FILATOV SAYS LOCAL ELECTIONS MIGHT BE POSTPONED. The head of the presidential apparatus, Sergei Filatov, told Izvestiya on 18 February that the elections to Russia's regional councils might be postponed. The elections are currently scheduled for the spring, but Filatov said that they might be delayed until the summer or fall to give the Russian parliament time to adopt new legislation on elections. Several Russian regions have held elections to their legislatures that were marked by the strong showing of pro-communist forces. In his interview, Filatov implied that this might also be a reason for postponing the local elections. Vera Tolz, RFE/RL, Inc. STATE DUMA GETS FORMER GOSPLAN BUILDING. Boris Yeltsin signed a decree on 18 February making the former State Planning Committee building the new home of the State Duma. RFE/RL's correspondent in Moscow quoted officials in Yeltsin's office as saying that during reconstruction of the building, the Duma will temporarily meet in a building of the Russian Management Academy. Last month the Duma voted down government plans to spend 500 million dollars to build a new parliament building and Yeltsin suspended the construction plans. Many deputies are opposed to moving into the former GOSPLAN building, saying the State Duma should be located either in the old parliament building or even in the Kremlin. Vera Tolz, RFE/RL, Inc. OPEL PASSENGER CAR TO BE PRODUCED AT TOLYATTI. General Motors Europe and the Russian Automobile Alliance are expected to form a joint venture to manufacture a new model of passenger car at Tolyatti, Interfax reported on 16 February. The factory, estimated to cost some $3 billion, will produce up to 300,000 units a year by 1997: the basic production model will be the latest version of the Opel "Corsa." Total output of passenger cars in 1993 was reported to be 956,000 units but production fell sharply in January 1994 when AvtoVAZ virtually closed down because of arrears in payments and shortages of components. Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc. INDUSTRIAL LOBBY EMPHASIZES NEED FOR MARKET REFORM. The centrist Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs has issued a statement criticizing Western statements concerning the alleged end of market reforms in Russia, ITAR-TASS reported on 19 February. The Union, led by the well-known centrist politician Arkadii Volsky, argued that the aim of the government is to divert some resources into the social sphere and to establish the necessary law and order in the country's economy in order to attract Western investment. It said the government is by no means departing from reform. Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, Inc. CIS UKRAINIANS IN CRIMEA COMPLAIN ABOUT RIGHTS' VIOLATIONS. In an interview on Ukrainian Radio on 20 February regarding the positive assessment of Ukraine's policy towards national minorities given last week by CSCE High Commissioner for National Minorities Max van der Stoel, Deputy Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk noted that the violation of the rights of Ukrainians in Crimea should be a matter for concern. He said that an appeal to Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk from the recent Extraordinary Congress of the Ukrainian Civil Congress of Crimea protesting "human rights violations" in the Autonomous Crimean State showed that, despite "unfounded" claims sometimes heard in Moscow about the alleged violation of the rights of Ukraine's "Russian-speaking population," "the opposite" was actually happening in Crimea. Ukrainians constitute about 25 per cent of Crimea's population (the Russians 67 per cent) and for years have complained about opposition from the Russian-dominated local authorities to the opening of Ukrainian schools, newspapers, "anti-Ukrainian propaganda," and censorship of TV and radio broadcasts from Kiev. Bohdan Nahaylo, RFE/RL, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA ARMENIA, AZERBAIJAN AGREE ON KARABAKH CEASEFIRE. At a meeting in Moscow on 18 February mediated by Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, the defense ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan and a representative from the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic agreed on a total regional ceasefire, but did not specify the date it would take effect or the duration, Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported. Meeting in Ankara on 18 February with Jan Eliasson, the new chairman of the CSCE Minsk Group, Turkish Foreign Minister Hikmet Cetin argued that further mediation sessions by the Minsk group should be suspended until Armenian troops withdraw unconditionally from occupied Azerbaijani territory, AFP reported. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. PRESS DISPUTE IN KAZAKHSTAN. Government interference has convinced Almaty's independent information media that freedom of the press is under attack in Kazakhstan, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 February. Almaty authorities officially closed down the popular private TV and radio station Max on 14 February; it has continued to broadcast clandestinely. The vice-president of Max believes the harassment resulted from charges made by the station that the Almaty authorities are violating the election laws. Independent publications involved in the parliamentary election campaign report harassment by the authorities; a favorite tactic is for the fire department to close down printing facilities on days independent publications are to be printed. Almaty's most popular weekly, Karavan, has to be published in Bishkek. Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc. TURKMENISTAN AGAIN THREATENS TO TURN OFF GAS. Turkmenistan is again threatening to shut off supplies of its gas to Georgia and Ukraine unless the two states pay their debts, Western and Russian news agencies reported on 19 February. Turkmenistan reached accords on gas supplies with both countries in 1993 after having shut off gas supplies for brief periods. About 35% of Ukraine's gas imports are from Turkmenistan; Turkmen officials claim that Ukraine is the CIS state most seriously in arrears with payments. Georgia already owes Turkmenistan $37 million for gas supplies in 1994, in addition to $200 million for 1993, Turkmen Minister of Oil and Gas Nazar Soyunov told ITAR-TASS, and he believes that Georgia has no alternate source of gas. Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc. CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE OFFICIAL SAYS "NO NEED FOR AIR STRIKES" AGAINST BOSNIAN SERBS. On 20 and 21 February international media reported extensively on NATO's preparedness to launch air strikes against Bosnian Serb positions should the Serbs fail to remove heavy artillery stationed around Sarajevo. Yet on 21 February The New York Times quotes UN envoy to former Yugoslavia, Yasushi Akashi, as saying "there is no need for air strikes." Akashi on 20 February stated that the Bosnian Serb side was making progress in meeting the withdrawal deadline of 21 February (0100 local time), but that efforts were being hampered by poor weather conditions. On 21 February the BBC reported that the commander of UN forces in Bosnia, Lt. Gen. Sir Michael Rose, also agreed that while all weapons had evidently not yet been withdrawn, enough progress towards meeting the ultimatum conditions had been made to avert the air strikes. On 21 February NATO Secretary General Manfred Woerner also agreed that for the time being air strikes were not necessary. Yet Woerner, in his statement released at NATO headquarters, stressed that the alliance would be vigilant and would remain committed to seeing an end to the fighting around Sarajevo. Indications that air strikes might be avoided came in the early evening of 20 February, as Russian defense minister Pavel Grachev, cited by ITAR-TASS, reported that he had spoken with his US counterpart, William Perry, who reportedly said that overnight air strikes would not be launched. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. SERB WITHDRAWAL HAMPERED . . . On 21 February the Serbian press states that the Bosnian Serbs, reportedly ready and willing to comply with the terms of the UN ultimatum, had efforts to withdraw their heavy artillery from around Sarajevo hampered by heavy snow. Borba's headline "Snow Hampers Withdrawal" summed up the Serbian position on why a complete withdrawal had not been managed by the ultimatum deadline. On 20 February RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported that Bosnian Foreign Minister Irfan Ljubijankic agreed that the Bosnian Serbs had some difficulties in meeting the NATO ultimatum deadline because poor weather conditions were adversely affecting the rate at which heavy artillery could be withdrawn from around Sarajevo. Earlier, however, Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic, cited by Radio Sarajevo, indicated that poor weather was no excuse for failure to comply with UN deadline, and that the Serbs had been given ample time to act on the ultimatum. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. . . . AND MUSLIMS HARBOR FEARS, WHILE SERBS CHEER RUSSIANS. On 20 February Reuters reported that Bosnian Muslim leaders feared that moving Serb artillery away from Sarajevo in itself did not guarantee an end to hostilities. Bosnian Gen. Jovan Divjak told Reuters that heavy weapons once around Sarajevo were being "taken to the Olovo and Gorazde battlefields." On the same day, Reuters reported that at least five suspected Serb shells fell on the city of Tuzla, wounding at least three. Meanwhile, on 20 February international media reported that Bosnian Serbs cheered as some 400 Russian peace keepers drove through Pale, on the way to Sarajevo. AFP reported that Bosnian President Izetbegovic also sounded a note of optimism about the Russians' arrival, as he said the Bosnian government supports the Russian initiative, and hopes the Russian troops will, in accordance with their stated purpose, behave in a neutral fashion towards all sides. Previously, Radio Sarajevo had reported that Bosnian Muslim officials were critical of the Russian initiative to send troops to Sarajevo, fearing that the Russians would behave in a too pro-Serb manner. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. GRANIC, SILAJDZIC MEET. On 19 February Western agencies reported that Croatian foreign minister Mate Granic and Bosnian prime minister Silajdzic held talks in Frankfurt-Main. In a joint declaration, the two leaders said progress had been made in bilateral Croatian-Bosnian relations, but failed to give specifics. In a separate interview with Reuters, however, Granic said that discussion focused on such issues as the division of Bosnia into ethnic mini-states, but Bosnian Muslim officials have reportedly not confirmed Granic's interpretation of the meetings. Talks are slated to continue between Muslim and Croatian officials in Zagreb, and Croatian and Bosnian representatives are also to meet with US special envoy to former Yugoslavia, Charles Redman. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. MACEDONIA AND THE GREEK EMBARGO. The effects of the Greek trade embargo were already being felt in Macedonia, reported Nova Makedonija of 18 February. Six EU countries called upon Greece to end the blockade but AFP said Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos on 18 February stated that Athens will not succumb to outside pressure on the matter, although many European leaders regard it as a hindrance to European integration and a destabilizing factor in Macedonia and the Balkans. Reuters on 20 February reports that the US fears the Greek action may drive Macedonia to loosen sanction enforcement against Serbia. Duncan Perry, RFE/RL, Inc. ALBANIA AND MACEDONIA. Rilindja Demokratike and Nova Makedonija on 19 February report that Macedonian Foreign Minister Stevo Crvenkovski ended a visit to Tirana amid reports that both sides were pleased with the outcome. Albanian President Sali Berisha reiterated that "Albania is very interested in the stability of Macedonia and considers it very important for regional stability." According to Zeri i Popullit on 19 February, Tirana has offered Skopje use of its roads as well as the Adriatic port of Durres. In an interview with RFE/RL on 2 February Berisha noted that Albania "would give Macedonia 11 facilities" and stated that completion of a transport route that would connect Italy, Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Turkey was extremely important. Any strengthening of Macedonian-Albanian ties will very likely further strain Albanian-Greek relations. Robert Austin, RFE/RL, Inc. CZECH MINISTER PRESENTS HIS PLAN FOR BOSNIA. Czech Defense Minister Antonin Baudys surprised the Czech public and his government colleagues with what he described as a solution for the Bosnian crisis, Czech media reported over the weekend. At a press briefing on 19 February, Baudys told journalists that the basic idea of his proposal is to take the religious background of the conflict as a starting point. He suggested the creation of a "goodwill committee" at the United Nations in which Russia and Greece would represent the interests of Orthodox Serbia; Turkey and Pakistan would represent the interests of the Bosnian Muslims; and France and Italy those of Catholic Croats. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus and other government members criticized Baudys for presenting the plan without having consulted them. One parliament deputy complained that the Defense Minister "outlined the recipe for World War Three." Meanwhile, on 20 February, Baudys left for a three-day working visit to Turkey. Jan Obrman, RFE/RL, Inc. ROMANIA PRAISES RUSSIAN-SERB ACCORD. Presidential spokesman Traian Chebeleu said on 18 February that the Serb-Russian agreement on a withdrawal of heavy weapons around Sarajevo was "a positive action that contributes to encouraging the peace process," an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Bucharest on the same day. Chebeleu added that the involvement of Russia, the Balkan states and the international community in the crisis in Bosnia-Herzegovina was "beneficial to a peaceful solution of the conflict." In a declaration broadcast by Radio Bucharest on the same day, Romania's government "saluted" the agreement. The statement added that "under the prevailing conditions, a possible military intervention could have unpredictable results, which might be even contradictory to the aims pursued." The Romanian government said it continued to be "ready to contribute to the political solution of the conflict, alongside other countries neighboring former Yugoslavia and other interested states." Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc. KOZYREV IN PRAGUE. Russian Foreign Minister Kozyrev, on an official visit to the Czech Republic from 19 to 20 February discussed bilateral ties; the Bosnian war; and NATO's Partnership for Peace program, CTK reports. He told journalists on 18 February that Russia will not try to deny any country the right to join the partnership and that Russia will participate in the program itself. President Vaclav Havel told the press after a meeting with Kozyrev that Russian rhetoric claiming the Czech Republic should belong to the Russian sphere of interest "causes anxiety and concern among Czechs." Kozyrev responded that if such language reminds the Czechs of the past, he will stop using it. In meetings with Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus and Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec, Kozyrev discussed bilateral cooperation, the creation of new security structures in Europe, and the war in Bosnia. Klaus said that Czech-Russian economic ties will grow soon after a "certain stabilization of economic reform in Russia. Jan Obrman, RFE/RL, Inc. MORE SCANDAL OVER POLISH BANK PRIVATIZATION. Poland's Securities Commission on 17 February revoked the brokerage license of the recently privatized Bank Slaski and asked prosecutors to investigate alleged stock-price manipulation by the bank's management. The brokerage, the largest in the country, is accused of having slowed down the process of issuing certificates to shareholders, meaning effectively that bank employees, who were among the first to be in possession of certificates, were among a minority able to take advantage of first-day trading and sell shares at a breathtaking 13.5 times the issue value. Only 10% of the 800,000 shareholders were able to participate in the first day of trading. Since then the value of the shares has dropped somewhat. The bank has vowed to appeal the securities commission's ruling. Gazeta Wyborcza on 18 February quoted Bank Slaski chairman Marian Rajczyk as denying that any of the bank's employees had sold "large packets" of shares. The finance ministry proposed on 18 February that the Warsaw exchange suspend trading in Bank Slaski shares until all ownership certificates are issued. The uproar over Bank Slaski's debut has already claimed several victims, including Deputy Prime Minister Marek Borowski, who resigned on 4 February. Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka and Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAK PARLIAMENT WANTS INVESTIGATION OF MECIAR. According to a CTK report of 18 February, the main Slovak opposition group in the parliament, the Party of the Democratic Left, asked the Slovak prosecutor general to check whether Prime Minister Meciar and Finance Minister Toth broke the law in approving some privatization projects. By the same token, Meciar told TASR on 19 February that he would ask the prosecutor to investigate the PDL for alleged pressure tactics against him. Meciar's government came under attack for approving more privatization projects within four days before the parliament passed amendments to the privatization law, than within the entire last year. Opposition deputies complained that the prime minister used privatization as a means to strengthen his power by favoring privatization projects of his political allies. Jan Obrman, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAK NATIONAL PARTY SPLITS. A split in the Slovak National Party (SNP), the coalition partner of the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia, heralded more trouble for Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar. At a party conference held on 20 February in Zilina, Party Chairman Ludovit Cernak and about 50 of the 182 delegates present walked out, announcing that they would form a new party, Slovak radio reported on 20 February. Cernak, who tried to transform the SNP into a moderate conservative party and was opposed to forming a coalition with Meciar, was, along with his supporters, immediately expelled from the SNP. He announced that he intends to create a new "centrist party" soon. The SNP meanwhile elected the Mayor of Zilina, Jan Slota, as its new chairman. Slota said that the SNP has now "cleansed itself of people who had been dividing it." It remains unclear, how many of the 15 SNP deputies in the Slovak parliament will follow Cernak. Jan Obrman, RFE/RL, Inc. HUNGARIAN DEMOCRATIC FORUM ELECTS NEW CHAIRMAN. Hungary's largest ruling party elected at its seventh national congress on 19 February Defense Minister Lajos Fur as its new chairman to succeed Prime Minister Jozsef Antall who died in December 1993, MTI and Western news agencies report. Fur was the only candidate, and was elected chairman by 685 of the 729 congress delegates. The delegates also decided to split the post of party chairman and prime minister to allow Prime Minister Peter Boross to run as the HDF's prime minister candidate in the national elections scheduled for May. Fur pledged to complete Hungary's transformation into a market-oriented parliamentary democracy, and warned that a return to power by the former reform communists would slow down the process of democratic transformation. Opinion polls indicate that if elections were held now less than 10% of the voters would vote for the HDF while the former reform communists, the Hungarian Socialist Party, could count on some 25% of the votes. This makes the HSP the most popular party in Hungary today. Edith Oltay, RFE/RL, Inc. RADICAL RIGHT-WING PARTIES HOLD MASS RALLY. Istvan Csurka, the co-chairman of the Hungarian Justice and Life Party and Jozsef Torgyan, the chairman of the Independent Smallholders Party, held on 20 February their first joint rally in the Budapest Sports Stadium in the presence of an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 enthusiastic supporters, MTI and Western news agencies report. The major theme of the two party leaders was that a real change of regime has not taken place since the 1990 national elections. Csurka read a list of important economic posts held by former top communist officials to illustrate how former communists "converted their political power into economic power and still run the country." Torgyan accused the current government of "selling out the country," and warned that his party will "sweep away the communists" at the May national elections. Csurka founded his party when he was expelled from the HDF last summer because of his radical views. Torgyan's party left the governing coalition in 1992. Edith Oltay, RFE/RL, Inc. ROMANIAN MINERS' STRIKE. The strike of the coal miners of the Jiu valley continues, as talks between the government and the strikers ended inconclusively on 19 February in the capital, Radio Bucharest and foreign agencies report. Miners' union negotiator Lica Crisan said that while many issues had been solved, there was no agreement on demands for the resignation of what he called "corrupt management" in the Jiu valley mines. At the end of the talks in Bucharest it was announced that a governmental commission will come to Gorj on 21 February to examine the matter. Miners' leader Miron Cosma told the strikers In Targu Jiu to reassemble on the same day at noon if the commission does not arrive as promised. On 18 February, an RFE/RL correspondent reported that in an unprecedented step, the director of the Romanian Intelligence Service, Virgil Magureanu, came to the valley and urged the miners, who were threatening to descend on Bucharest, to remain calm and await the outcome of the negotiations with the government. The miners have been on strike since 14 February, demanding bonuses, new investments and the resignation of managers for alleged abuses. Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIA WANTS TO KEEP TROOPS, GAIN BASES IN MOLDOVA. Col.-General Georgi Kondratev, Russian Deputy Defense Minister responsible for "peacekeeping" troops, visited Russian forces in Moldova on 16 and 17 February "to determine their needs," ITAR-TASS and Moldovan media reported. Kondratev additionally met with the Russian-dominated armistice control commission and with "Dniester republic" political and military leaders. While averring that the "peace keepers cannot remain here forever," Kondratev called for Russian-Moldovan "military cooperation on a bilateral basis" and for giving Russia's 14th Army--which has no peacekeeping mandate--the status of an "operational army group" with basing rights in Tiraspol, Ribnita, and Slobozia, Basapress reported on 18 February. The commander of the 14th Army's Tiraspol garrison told Reuters on 20 February that "Russia will never withdraw the 14th Army from here because it is a stabilizing force." Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. BALTIC ENERGY MINISTERS MEET. On 18 February the energy ministers of the Baltic States, Algimantas Stasiukynas (Lithuania), Andris Kreslins (Latvia), and Arvo Nittenberg (Estonia) met in Tallinn to discuss gas supplies for the three countries, BNS reports. They discussed prospects for the joint operation of the gas supply tanks at Incukalns in Latvia and the possibility of building a gas pipeline to the West and of connecting the electricity networks of the Baltic States to the central European networks. They also coordinated their positions before signing new agreements with Russia's Gazprom to whom all three countries have large debts. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Saulius Girnius and Dan Ionescu The RFE/RL Daily Report is produced by the RFE/RL Research Institute (a division of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Inc.) with the assistance of the RFE/RL News and Current Affairs Division (NCA). The report is available by electronic mail by subscribing to RFERL-L at LISTSERV@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU, on the Sovset' computer bulletin board, by fax, and by postal mail. Requests for permission to reprint or retransmit this material should be addressed to PD@RFERL.ORG. Such requests will generally be granted on the condition that the material is clearly attributed to the RFE/RL Daily Report. For inquiries about specific news items, subscriptions, or additional copies, please contact: In North America: Mr. Brian Reed RFE/RL, Inc. 1201 Connecticut Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20036 Telephone: (202) 457-6912 or -6907 Fax: (202) 457-6992 or 828-8783 Internet: RI-DC@RFERL.ORG Elsewhere: Ms. Helga Hofer Publications Department RFE/RL Research Institute Oettingenstrasse 67 80538 Munich Germany Telephone: (+49 89) 2102-2631 or -2624 Fax: (+49 89) 2102-2648 Internet: PD@RFERL.ORG Copyright 1994, RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved.
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