Мера жизни не в ее длительности, а в том, как вы ее использавали. - М. Монтень
RFE/RL Daily Report

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 
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