|Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most times he will pick himself up and carry on. - Winston Churchill|
No. 42, 2 March 1994
RUSSIA ARMED FORCES UNDER 1.5 MILLION? Interfax reports that senior Russian defense officials told a news conference on 1 March that, although the nominal strength of the Russian armed forces currently totals 2.34 million, the number of men actually in uniform is only 60% of that figure. If accurate, this would put the real strength of the Russian army today at just over 1.4 million men. Analysts have long suspected a significant discrepancy between the official manpower figures provided by the Defense Ministry and the number of men in uniform. The 1 March remarks seem to corroborate past predictions that by 1995 Russia might have to build up (rather than down) to reach the 1.5 million figure mandated by the Law on Defense. They also suggest that more recent calls by Defense Ministry officials to maintain an army of just over two million men may be difficult to fulfill in practice, and that the erosion of the conscript army probably has yielded a ratio of officers to soldiers that is in the area of 1:1. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. TRIAL OF PUTSCHISTS DISMISSED. The military collegium of the Russian Supreme Court has dropped charges against the ringleaders of the August 1991 coup, Russian TV and news agencies reported on 1 March. The court was acting in response to the Duma's recent amnesty for political prisoners. The TV newscast highlighted some of the more illiberal defendants: former USSR Deputy Ministry of Defense Valentin Varennikov and Communist Party Politburo member Oleg Shenin were shown telling the court that it was not the organizers of the abortive coup but their opponents--former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, Russian President Boris Yeltsin, and former Russian Prosecutor-General Valentin Stepankov--who should seek pardon for their role in the "criminal" dissolution of the USSR. Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL, Inc. BUDGET STRUGGLE INTENSIFIES. With publication of the finalized 1994 consolidated state budget expected on 4 March, claimants for budgetary resources are stepping up their last-minute demands. According to Russian and Western agencies, the coalminers have asked for 11.9 trillion rubles for this year, in addition to their demand for the payment of 1993's arrears. A squad of generals publicly protested further cuts in defense expenditure--the latest figure for 1994 is 37 trillion rubles--and reminded Yeltsin of his pledge to maintain the level of defense spending. And the agricultural lobby is still trying to restore the farm subsidy allocation from 8.5 trillion rubles back to the initial bid of 5-16 trillion rubles. Further complications arise since various spokesmen use different price-bases in their pronouncements and since nobody knows what the inflation rate will be in 1994--though the government appears to be working on the basis of a projected annual rate of around 600%. Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc. STRIKE UPDATE. Coalminers held a one-day warning strike on 1 March that was observed in some 80% of Russia's pits, Reuters reported. The miners are demanding payment of back wages and increased state subsidies for the ailing coal industry. Reuters said there is a split in the government between the Fuel and Energy Ministry and the Finance Ministry over how much financial support the industry should receive. Vitalii Budko, chairman of Russia's Union of Coal Industry Workers, was quoted by Interfax on 1 March as warning that, if the miners' demands are not met, they may start making political demands as well. Miners in Vorkuta have already called for the government's resignation. Elizabeth Teague, RFE/RL, Inc. MIXED SIGNALS FROM MILITARY LEADERS ON BOSNIA, NATO. Interfax on 1 March quoted an unidentified senior Defense Ministry official as saying NATO's shooting down of what were believed to be four Bosnian Serb aircraft was "no accident," and that the action by US pilots was directed less against Bosnian Serbs than against Russia. "The Americans, who have long since sided with the Moslems, always wanted to pressure the Bosnian Serbs," he was reported as saying; the official also was said to have linked the action to American embarrassment over the Ames spy case. The remarks, which apparently were not official, appear to contradict the qualified support for NATO's action offered by Russia's Defense Minister on 28 February. Meanwhile, Interfax on 1 March quoted another Defense Ministry spokesman, Lt. Gen. Gennadii Ivanov, as saying Russia may soon join NATO's "Partnership for Peace" program, as long as the conditions for joining are tailored to Russia's needs. A top-ranking General Staff officer suggested that, while Russia backs the NATO program, Moscow would not join so long as NATO remained a military bloc. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. KARADZIC VISIT CONTINUES. On the second day of his visit to Moscow, Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic reemphasized Russia's role in solving the crisis in the Balkans. "Nothing can be achieved without Russia in the Balkans," he told reporters. Playing up to the so-called Serbian-Russian special relationship, a concept which has received a great deal of play in the international media, Karadzic met with a high cleric of the Russian Orthodox Church during a visit to the Danilovsky Monastery, headquarters of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. Karazdic also met with ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Reuters reported. It is not clear whether Russian Foreign Ministry officials approved of or even knew of this meeting. Suzanne Crow, RFE/RL, Inc. AGREEMENT ON OPENING TUZLA AIRPORT. During meetings on 1 March in Moscow, Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev and Karadzic announced that agreement had been achieved to open the airport in the besieged Bosnian city of Tuzla for shipments of humanitarian aid. As with the Russian initiative in Sarajevo in late February, this agreement is based on the guarantee that Russia will send additional military forces. Moscow has also promised shipments of humanitarian aid. Mikhail Kolesnikov, chief of the Russian Armed Forces General Staff, told a press conference that the total number of Russian peacekeeping forces in the former Yugoslavia "will shortly reach 1,500 officers, warrant officers, and contract troops," AFP and Krasnaya zvezda reported on 1 March. Suzanne Crow, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIAN ACCUSED OF SPYING FOR BRITAIN. A Russian defense industry official has been arrested and charged with spying for Britain, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 March but did not name the official, who was arrested on 15 January, but said he had confessed to supplying the British Embassy in Moscow with secret information concerning Russia's latest weapons systems for about a year in exchange for money. ITAR-TASS did not say why the news was not released earlier, but denied there was any connection with the Ames case. This is the second time in recent months that a Russian citizen has been accused of spying for a Western country: last December, a military intelligence (GRU) officer, Colonel Vyacheslav Baranov, was sentenced by a military tribunal to six years imprisonment for spying for the USA. Rossiiskaya gazeta reported on 22 December that Baranov told the court he was recruited by the CIA in Bangladesh in 1989. Victor Yasmann, RFE/RL, Inc. FAR NORTH DISTRICT SEEKS INDEPENDENCE. The oil-rich Nenets Autonomous Okrug (AO), in Russia's Far North, will hold a referendum on 20 March on secession from Arkhangelsk Oblast, Izvestiya reported on 24 February. In July 1993, the Russian parliament announced that AOs were to have the same rights as krais and oblasts and, the head of the Nenets AO administration Yurii Komarovsky told Izvestiya, Russia's new constitution confirms this equality. Therefore, a referendum is not strictly necessary, Komarovsky said. However, Komarovsky told Reuters on 25 February, the Nenets authorities have decided to hold a referendum because the authorities in Arkhangelsk "are clinging to the old ways and still consider our district part of the oblast." Much is at stake: the Nenets AO is claiming the right to export 10% of the 1.8 million tons of crude oil produced annually on its territory. Elizabeth Teague, RFE/RL, Inc. DUDAEV READY TO MEET BUT WILL NOT YIELD ON INDEPENDENCE. Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev told ITAR-TASS on 1 March that he was ready to meet the Russian leadership any time and "discuss all problems in a normal atmosphere," but stressed that he would not retreat "one iota from the idea of the state independence of the republic" (henceforth to be known as Ichkeria, in accordance with a recent decree by Dudaev). Now that Russia has signed a treaty with Tatarstan, the Russian leadership is hoping to reach a similar accommodation with Chechnya/Ichkeria. Dudaev said he had not seen the text of the treaty between Russia and Tatarstan, but maintained that a draft of an analogous document, submitted by the Chechen side to Russia, was approved by Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin when he met the Chechen Deputy Prime Minister Mairbek Mugadaev in Moscow recently. Ann Sheehy, RFE/RL, Inc. "URALS REPUBLIC" STILL ALIVE. Eduard Rossel, former governor of Sverdlovsk Oblast and now a member of the upper house of the Russian parliament, told Interfax on 26 February that the idea of declaring a Urals Republic on the territory of Sverdlovsk Oblast will be debated by the lower house, the State Duma, on 12 April. Detailed proposals had been submitted to parliament, Rossel said. Rossel was governor of Sverdlovsk Oblast when, in July 1993, the Sverdlovsk Oblast Soviet declared the "Urals Republic" within the Russian Federation. In November, Yeltsin dissolved the self-proclaimed republic and sacked Rossel from his post. Elizabeth Teague, RFE/RL, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA PARTIES FORM NEW BLOC IN KYRGYZSTAN. Several democratically-oriented political groups in Kyrgyzstan have formed a new bloc with an eye to future parliamentary elections, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 March. Elections are not due till 1996, but there have been calls for bringing them forward to summer 1994 since the present legislature was elected prior to Kyrgyzstan's independence and the adoption of the new constitution. The new grouping consists of the Kyrgyzstan Democratic Movement (one of the oldest democratic groups in the country), the Association of Social-Democrats, the Center for Strategic Studies, and the Bureau for Human Rights, but it declares it will work for a leadership consisting of the most talented and honorable people regardless of party membership. Eight political parties and several movements are presently registered in Kyrgyzstan; only the Communist Party has not joined a bloc. Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc. CIS GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT RATIFIES CIS MEMBERSHIP. On 1 March, after a stormy debate that threatened on occasion to degenerate into physical violence, the Georgian parliament finally voted by 121 in favor, 47 against and four abstentions, to ratify Georgia's membership of the Commonwealth of Independent States, Interfax reported. Parliament chairman Eduard Shevardnadze had given his assent to CIS membership in early October 1993, while the Georgian parliament was in recess. A large group of Tbilisi residents who tried to demonstrate outside the parliament building on 1 March to protest the breakdown of electricity, heating and water supplies were dispersed by the police, according to ITAR-TASS. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. UKRAINE TO REMAIN ASSOCIATE MEMBER OF CIS ECONOMIC UNION. Responding to speculation about Ukraine's intentions, Ukrainian deputy prime minister Valentyn Landyk told journalists in Moscow on 1 March that his country was sticking by its decision to remain only an associate, not a full, member of the CIS Economic Union, Ukrainian TV reported. Landyk said Ukraine supports the idea of "close economic cooperation" with the Economic Union but wishes to remain free to cultivate bilateral cooperation with non-CIS states. (ITAR-TASS had reported the same day that, following a CIS meeting in Moscow that had agreed in principle to accept Ukraine as an associate member of the Economic Union, Russian Economics Minister Aleksandr Shokhin hinted that Ukraine might change its position and seek full membership.) Bohdan Nahaylo, RFE/RL, Inc. CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN MUSLIMS, CROATS REACH ACCORD. On 2 March Vecernji list reports that Croatian and Bosnian Muslim and Croat negotiators ended four days of talks in Washington by signing an accord on the future of a Bosnian Croat and Muslim federation. The deal, whose signatories include Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic and Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic, would see Bosnian Croat and Muslim territories united under a central government, responsible primarily for defense, commerce, and foreign affairs. Western media add that a preliminary agreement was also reached on linking the Bosnian Croat-Muslim state with Croatia. The current agreements do not address the demands of the Bosnian Serb side, which presently controls roughly 70% of Bosnia. In other news, on 2 March The New York Times reports that Bosnian Serb leader Karadzic, after meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Kozyrev, has agreed to the reopening of the airfield near Tuzla. Karadzic, who has insisted that the airfield could be used to supply the Bosnian Muslim side with arms, accepted a Russian offer to have observers monitor traffic at the airfield. Both Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic and Vice-president Ejup Ganic have objected to the Russian offer, stressing that the Bosnian government was not consulted and that Russian forces in Bosnia are likely to behave in a pro-Serb manner. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. RUMP YUGOSLAV OFFICIAL ON DOWNED PLANES. On 2 March Borba reports rump Yugoslav President Zoran Lilic has responded officially on the matter of the downing of four Bosnian Serb warplanes on 28 February by two US F-16 fighters. Lilic, in a very cautiously worded statement, stressed that "the planes did not fly from [rump] Yugoslavia." Other ranking political officials, notably Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, have refrained from remarking on the incident. Meanwhile, on 1 March AFP reported that at least four of the six Bosnian Serb aircraft may have "taken off from Serb-controlled bases in Croatia." Initial reports suggested that all planes had come from a Bosnian Serb base near Banja Luka. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. GREECE UNDER MORE FIRE OVER MACEDONIA. The Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly on 1 March criticized Greece for imposing the 16 February economic blockade on the Republic of Macedonia. In a strongly worded statement, the assembly said that the embargo could have "a destabilizing effect in a region particularly vulnerable at this time," according to AFP and Reuters. The statement further urged Greece and Macedonia to repair their relations. Meanwhile, in Athens, a public opinion poll conducted by Alko and Martel for Sky Radio indicated that 82.7% of those consulted agreed with the government's decision to impose the embargo on Macedonia. Some 36.3% think Greece should reopen negotiations without making concessions, 25.8% felt both countries should make some concessions, and 23.8% thought Greece should make small concessions. According to the poll 11.8% opposed negotiations altogether. Duncan Perry, RFE/RL, Inc. WALESA "FIRES" BROADCASTING CHAIRMAN. In a controversial move, President Lech Walesa dismissed Marek Markiewicz as chairman of the National Broadcasting Council (KRRiT) on 1 March, two hours after Markiewicz had signed the contract formally granting PolSat Poland's single private TV license. Walesa, who appointed Markiewicz on 1 March 1993, has no explicit legal right to remove him. To protect broadcasting from political interference, the constitution permits the dismissal of KRRiT members only in case of debilitating illness, conviction of a crime, or "flagrant violation of the law." A spokesman tried to justify the president's move by accusing the KRRiT of awarding PolSat the license despite "a possible threat to state security." Offering no details, the spokesman intimated that the State Security Office had provided the KRRiT with compromising materials on PolSat owner Zygmunt Solorz. Markiewicz denied, however, that the KRRiT had received any information that would disqualify PolSat. The prime minister's office confirmed this. The KRRiT asked the Supreme Court to rule on the legality of the "firing," and Deputy Chairman Maciej Ilowiecki took over temporarily as chairman, PAP reports. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. POLISH PRESS PROBES POLSAT. Walesa's conflict with the KRRiT is long-standing and apparently reflects his determination to insure that his image in the media is positive. The motives for his campaign against PolSat remain murky. Zycie Warszawy and Rzeczpospolita recently published profiles charging that Solorz's financial statements contain irregularities and his past has suspicious gaps, including name changes and multiple passports. Solorz attributed these attacks to the fact that both papers belong to consortiums that made losing bids for the TV license. The KRRiT also dismissed the charges as "insinuations" and expressed surprise that Solorz's accusers came forward only after the TV license was issued on 27 January. The awarding of the license met then with general approval. Walesa is unlikely to find political support for his attack on the KRRiT, in part because it coincides with an assault on the parliament. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. CZECH MINISTER ON VOUCHER PRIVATIZATION. Speaking at a press conference in Prague on 28 February, Czech Privatization Minister Jiri Skalicky said that a total of 861 state-owned joint-stock companies, whose total assets exceed 155 billion koruny ($5.4 billion), will be privatized during the second wave of voucher privatization that was launched in the Czech Republic in the fall of 1993. The first wave, during which some 1,400 companies were privatized in both the Czech Republic and Slovakia, ended in the Spring of 1993. A list of companies slated for privatization will be published on 3 March. Skalicky said that his ministry will also release background data on the companies, which will be more exact and comprehensive than the data released during the first wave. An opinion poll by the Dema company, published in the Czech media on 28 February, indicates that some 42% of some 6 million people who bought vouchers plan to hand them over to investment funds; 32% of the voucher holders want to invest their vouchers directly in companies of their choice; 16% are undecided, while 10% want to use some of their vouchers directly and have investment funds handle the rest. Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAK OPPOSITION PARTIES DISUNITED. Miklos Duray, chairman of the ethnic Hungarian Coexistence movement, said at a press conference on 1 March that the determination of the opposition to remove Premier Vladimir Meciar has vanished, TASR reports. Although all opposition parties seemed ready to make the move two weeks ago, Duray said that now the Party of the Democratic Left and the Christian Democratic Movement have adopted the view that "there is no need to remove Meciar" and that the burden of the cabinet's policy "should lie on the premier's shoulders." The opposition deputies, which number between 83 and 86, are unable to pass legislation without the support of the 14 delegates representing the ethnic Hungarian coalition. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER IN BONN. On 1 March Peter Boross paid a one-day visit to Germany, Hungarian radio reported. He had consultations with Chancellor Helmut Kohl and signed a cultural agreement. Boross also announced that Hungary will formally ask the European Union for full membership in April. Kohl called the decision to apply wise. Bonn has excellent economic ties with Hungary. Twenty-three percent of all Hungarian firms are partly or completely German-owned, making Germany the country's second-biggest foreign investor after the US. The trip was Boross's first since he became Prime Minister in December 1993 after the death of Jozsef Antall. Karoly Okolicsanyi, RFE/RL, Inc. ROMANIAN RULING PARTY, OPPOSITION, ON "NON-AGGRESSION PACT. In a second round of the renewed parleys between the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania and the opposition Democratic Party-National Salvation Front, the two sides discussed the possibility of concluding a "non-aggression" pact, Radio Bucharest said on 1 March. Under the proposed moratorium, the two parties would refrain from public disputes in parliament and at local administration level. The talks are aimed at forming a parliamentary majority that would support the government, but for the time being do not envisage participation of the opposition in a new coalition. Radio Bucharest quoted the PSDR deputy chairman Ioan Solcanu as saying the two sides will meet again to finalize the accord. On the agreement already concluded with the Party of Romanian National Unity, which provided for setting up a joint coalition on 1 March, Solcanu said that "it remains valid, though in its spirit rather than in its letter." The opposition has repeatedly stated that it regards the nationalist PRNU as an "extremist" party and would not envisage collaboration with it. PSDR. Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc. ROMANIAN STRIKES. About 120,000 miners joined on 1 March the national strike waged by the Cartel Alfa labor confederation, Reuters reported on the same day. An official of the union said the miners went on strike at the Rovinari coalfield, at copper and gold mines near Deva, and at uranium, zinc, lead and silver mines in Baia Mare and Rodna. On 1 March the total number of workers who participated in the strike was 700,000, the official said. Members of Cartel Alfa return to work on 3 March, while members of the Fratia labor confederation ended their strike one day earlier. Meanwhile, the government has started new talks with the unions to try to settle demands on minimum wages. Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc. BULGARIA: UDF "POSTPONES" DIALOGUE WITH TURKISH PARTY. At a meeting on 1 March, the UDF's executive body ruled against entering direct talks on cooperation with its former political ally, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, as suggested in a letter by MRF leader Ahmed Dogan one week earlier. According to Demokratsiya, UDF Chairman Filip Dimitrov told the National Coordination Council that he found Dogan's proposal and sudden concern about "recommunization" of Bulgaria society rather strange given the MRF's consistent support of the present government over the past year. Dimitrov also pointed out that the MRF no longer holds the balance of power in parliament and is therefore less attractive as partner. Although a majority of NCC members spoke out against a genuine political alliance in the future, Dimitrov suggested that a dialogue can take place when the next general election has been scheduled. President Zhelyu Zhelev has several times called on the two parties to restore cooperation. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc. SNEGUR REAFFIRMS ACCEPTANCE OF TRANSDNIESTER AUTONOMY. Interviewed in Izvestiya of 25 February, Moldovan President Mircea Snegur reaffirmed Moldova's acceptance of the CSCE plan as the basis for settling the Dniester conflict. He repeated that Chisinau was prepared to accept a division of central and regional powers involving "maximum administrative autonomy" for Transdniester, including its own legislative body and the use of Transdniester "symbols" alongside Moldova's state symbols. Chisinau insists, however, on a single constitution and a single army for the whole of Moldova. The "Dniester republic" for its part demands full-fledged statehood. Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. KRAVCHUK HOPEFUL ON EVE OF US VISIT. At a meeting in Kiev on 1 March with American journalists, Ukrainian president Leonid Kravchuk said that he hoped his visit to the United States, which begins on 4 March, will be "a turning point in US-Ukrainian relations." He was confident that, after the recent trilateral nuclear disarmament agreement, and the Ukrainian parliament's ratification of START-1, the way has been opened for closer bilateral relations, and especially economic cooperation. Kravchuk said he would try to convince American leaders that, by accepting Article 5 of the Lisbon Protocol, the Ukrainian parliament had de facto also agreed to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but that the fact "that Ukraine cannot operate the nuclear weapons [on its territory] and that it is not a potential threat to the United States" ought to be taken into account. Kravchuk argued that Ukraine, with the West's support, could play "a certain role" in promoting democracy and creating a "suitable market" in Eastern Europe. Bohdan Nahaylo, RFE/RL, Inc. UKRAINIAN ELECTION OUTCOME DIFFICULT TO FORECAST. Ukrainian public opinion specialists are being cautious about forecasting the outcome of this month's parliamentary elections. Since the balloting is taking place on a "majoritarian"--as opposed to party list--basis, one observer, quoted in Financial Times of 28 February, termed the election race a "free for all." Nevertheless, specialists agree that some 55 percent of all voters will go to the polls on 27 March, and that a majority of these will probably cast their ballots for personalities rather than specific political programs. It is noteworthy that communist and socialist candidates have expressed satisfaction with the majoritarian system, whereas Rukh and other national-democratic forces have condemned it, both for favoring "red directors" and conservative local bosses and for undermining Ukraine's barely existing multi-party culture. Kathleen Mihalisko, RFE/RL, Inc. BELARUS TO BECOME PRESIDENTIAL STATE. The Belarusian parliament voted on 1 March to create the post of president, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. The introduction of the post, which is part of the new constitution, will only be final, however, when the new constitution is adopted as a whole. The president, elected by popular vote, will be the head of state and appoint the cabinet, be commander of the armed forces and have the power to order a state of emergency, but he will not be able to dissolve parliament. Voting lasted three days as deputies struggled to collect the required two-thirds majority. The election of the president is to take place by 26 June at the latest. The top elected official so far in Belarus has been the chairman of the parliament. Ann Sheehy, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIA'S GAZPROM AND LITHUANIA. On 2 March a delegation from Russia's natural gas export concern Gazprom arrived in Lithuania for a two-day visit, Radio Lithuania reports. Lietuvos Dujos (Lithuanian Gas) director general Kestutis Sumakaris said that in early February Gazprom had called for the visit which he suspected was aimed at the signing of a formal contract between Lithuania and Gazprom to replace the one signed earlier with Lentransgaz, its St. Petersburg branch. Sumakaris noted that Lithuania should continue to obtain sufficient natural gas this year. Deliveries in February had amounted to 8 million cubic meters per day. The delegation will subsequently travel to Latvia and Estonia for similar talks. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIA PROTESTS OVER DAMAGE TO SKRUNDA RADAR ELECTRICAL LINE. Aleksandr Rannikh, Russian ambassador in Riga, expressed firm protest to the Latvian authorities over the damage to an electric power line supplying electricity to the Skrunda radar station. According to the Latvian police, repair work has started on the electric lines and the pylon that were damaged on 28 February by explosives and the incident is being investigated. Latvian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aivars Vovers told the press that the government will do everything possible to find out what happened and to punish those responsible. Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc. ESTONIANS TAKE ISSUE OVER UDALTSOV'S REMARKS. In response to the announcement by Russian Foreign Ministry official Aleksandr Udaltsov on 28 February that his country has not formally agreed upon a date for the final withdrawal of Russian troops from Estonia, the Estonian Foreign Ministry stated on 1 March that if Russia no longer officially accepts 31 August 1994 as the final date, Estonia may seriously have to consider breaking off the talks. A similar statement was made by Estonian Prime Minister Mart Laar at a press conference on 1 March. Udaltsov voiced surprise on 1 March at the Estonian reaction, since, he said, Estonia "has been familiar for a long time with Russia's official position." Vasilii Svirin, head of the Russian delegation for talks with Estonia, told the press later that day that Udaltsov's statements do not reflect official Russian policy. Bilateral talks are continuing in Tallinn. Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc. [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Elizabeth Teague 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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