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No. 43, 3 March 1994
RUSSIA RUSSIA READY TO JOIN NATO PARTNERSHIP? According to a 2 March AFP report, government leaders in Moscow have told NATO representatives that Russia will "soon" sign up to participate in the NATO "Partnership for Peace" program. NATO ambassadors from the US, Britain, and Spain, who visited Moscow on 1-2 March to discuss the program, were quoted as saying that the Russian reaction had been "very positive" and that they were "very satisfied" with the results of their visit. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. BASHKORTOSTAN TO SIGN TREATY WITH RUSSIA SOON? Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov told Ostankino TV on 2 March that negotiations on a treaty between Russia and Bashkortostan, similar to the one Russia recently signed with Tatarstan, had recently been resumed, and that the treaty would probably be signed at the end of March or beginning of April. The treaty was discussed at a session of the Bashkortostan Supreme Soviet which decided that the new Bashkortostan parliament, the kurultai, would consist of two chambers with a total of about 200 deputies and that elections would be held at the end of 1994. Ann Sheehy, RFE/RL, Inc. ANOTHER CALL FOR POSTPONEMENT OF LOCAL ELECTIONS. Meeting in Moscow, representatives of the Union of Small Towns have called for postponement of the local elections due to be held in the spring, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 March. Participants said the rights of the regions are not yet adequately defined by law and that elections to new local government bodies should not be held until a legal framework has been put in place, in particular, relating to taxation. Addressing the conference, Yeltsin's chief adviser on regional affairs, Nikolai Medvedev, acknowledged that Russia's new constitution is vague regarding local government and that the only existing guidelines are presidential decrees that are silent about even such important matters as the form local government should take at district (raion) level. Medvedev said there is a need for a new federal law on local government that would be complemented by local legislation providing for regional differences. Elizabeth Teague, RFE/RL, Inc. KARELIAN SPEAKER CONDEMNS POSTPONEMENT PROPOSAL. The speaker of the Karelian parliament, Viktor Stepanov, told Interfax in an exclusive interview published on 2 March that the recommendation of the public chamber recently created by Yeltsin that local elections be postponed was a step on the way to administrative dictatorship. Yeltsin's entourage is worried that the democrats will not do well if elections are held in the near future. Stepanov said no one forced Yeltsin to dissolve the councils and the absence of local legislative authorities in the provinces cannot be called democracy. Stepanov said that if Yeltsin backed the postponement of the elections he would have to address the parliament with his objections. Stepanov expressed his approval of the recent political amnesty of Khasbulatov and others. Ann Sheehy, RFE/RL, Inc. STEPASHIN APPROVED AS COUNTERINTELLIGENCE CHIEF. President Boris Yeltsin has appointed Sergei Stepashin as Director of the Federal Counterintelligence Service (FSK), ITAR-TASS reported on 3 March. He will also join the Security Council. Stepashin had since 1991 been Deputy Minister of Security and since December 1993 Deputy Director of the FSK. He graduated from the Higher Political School of the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) and served as a political officer in the speznaz (commando forces) of the MVD Internal Troops. In 1990-1993, Stepashin chaired the Committee for Defense and Security of the Russian Supreme Soviet, and in September 1991 he headed the state commission that tried (unsuccessfully) to investigate the role of the KGB in the abortive coup of August 1991. Victor Yasmann, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIAN ARMY, CHURCH SIGN JOINT STATEMENT. Patriarch Alexii II of Moscow and Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev signed a joint statement on 2 March that provides for the creation of a committee to oversee cooperation between the army and the Russian Orthodox Church. Interfax reported that the action was aimed at reviving spiritual and patriotic traditions in the army. Priests will be encouraged to visit garrisons and to organize educational religious conferences; Grachev was quoted as saying that "the younger generation's spiritual education has never been so important." Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. DRAFT FEDERAL BUDGET FOR 1994. The Ministry of Finance has released some of the details of its proposed draft federal budget for 1994, Interfax reported on 2 March. The implicit GDP is projected at 481 trillion rubles--presumably in prices of the first quarter. Revenues are planned at 120.7 trillion rubles, expenditures at 182.2 trillion rubles, and the budget deficit at 61.5 trillion rubles, or 12.8% of GDP. Although the ministry employs the formulation that the deficit will be brought down to 10.2% of GDP by the end of the year (on an annualized basis), this projected deficit appears to be well above earlier pledges and beyond the guidelines set by international financial institutions. Defense expenditure remains set at 37.1 trillion rubles, or 7.7% of GDP. Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc. BUDGET OUTTURN IN 1993. An implicit GDP of 162 trillion rubles is given for 1993--presumably in prices of the last quarter of that year. The budget deficit in 1993 was claimed to be 17 trillion rubles, or 10.5% of GDP. However, this does not take into account the deficit of nearly 8 trillion rubles that was reportedly carried over to 1994. The true deficit for 1993 thus appears to have been equivalent to 15.5% of GDP. Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc. STRIKE UPDATE. Coalminers throughout Russia returned to work on 2 March, ITAR-TASS reported, after their one-day strike the preceding day. However, oil and gas workers announced on 2 March that they were giving the government until 15 March: if overdue salary payments were not made by that date, the energy workers would call a widespread strike. Elizabeth Teague, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIAN REACTION TO MUSLIM-CROAT AGREEMENT. In response to the Muslim-Croat agreement reached late on 1 March in Washington, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and special envoy Vitalii Churkin pointed out on 2 March that the negotiations and agreement had failed include the Bosnian Serbs. At the same time, Churkin offered praise for the efforts of the United States in settling the conflict. Churkin said he could not comment on the agreement yet as he had not fully studied it, but remarked that it could prove "useful" if it was "correctly incorporated within the general context of a settlement in Bosnia," Russian media reported. Suzanne Crow, RFE/RL, Inc. INDIA DISCUSSES MILITARY COOPERATION. ITAR-TASS reported on 1 March that a high-ranking Indian military leader had arrived in Moscow for an 8-day visit to discuss military-technical cooperation between the two countries. During the Soviet period India was a major purchaser of military hardware from Moscow, and Russian military and civilian leaders have made reconstruction of that relationship a priority. The importance of the current visit to Moscow was apparent by the itinerary; the Indian delegation was scheduled to meet with Russia's General Staff Chief, as well as the Commander-in-Chiefs of Russian Ground Forces, Navy, and Airforce. Delhi is reported to be especially concerned about assuring supplies of spare parts from Russia, and has also expressed interest in acquiring modern tanks, artillery systems, and military aircraft. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. JAPAN-RUSSIA UPDATE. Japan's recently named ambassador to Russia, Koji Watanabe, told Russian journalists on 2 March that Tokyo's priorities vis-a-vis Russia were to solve the Kuril Islands territorial dispute, sign a peace treaty with Russia, and normalize fully relations between the two countries. Watanabe said Japan was prepared, along with other G-7 nations, to promote Russian political and economic reform and that Japan was in fact third only to the US and Germany in providing economic assistance to Russia. He also said that Tokyo was trying to discourage Japanese boats from fishing in the waters off the south Kuril Islands, despite the fact that Japan does not agree with Moscow that those waters constitute Russian territory. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. KHASBULATOV GIVEN HERO'S WELCOME IN CHECHNYA. Ruslan Khasbulatov, the former speaker of the Russian parliament who was recently released from prison under the political amnesty, received a hero's welcome when he returned to his home region of Chechnya on 2 March to visit his 83-year-old mother and other members of his family, Russian media reported. ITAR-TASS said thousands of supporters, including representatives of Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev, greeted him at Groznyi airport, and fireworks and tracer bullets accompanied his motorcade to his mother's house. Khasbulatov said he had come on a private visit and would refrain from making any political statements or actions. When Khasbulatov was still speaker of the Russian parliament he was not persona grata with Dudaev. Ann Sheehy, RFE/RL, Inc. KAZANNIK CRITICIZES YELTSIN. Yeltsin is incapable of rising beyond the capacities of a provincial official, former Prosecutor-General Aleksei Kazannik charged in an interview published in the Madrid daily El Pais on 2 March and reported by AFP. "He was and remains the first secretary of a CPSU obkom," said Kazannik, who resigned on 26 February rather than obey instructions from Yeltsin's aides not to implement the amnesty for members of last year's parliamentary revolt. Elizabeth Teague, RFE/RL, Inc. MOSCOW RUNNING OUT OF CASH. Moscow mayor Yurii Luzhkov says that, unless the Russian government pays its debts, the city of Moscow will soon have no cash left to pay even for garbage collection. Luzhkov told a municipal meeting on 1 March that the government owes the city 250,000 million rubles, but that acting Finance Minister Sergei Dubinin is refusing to pay. As reported by Reuters, Luzhkov commented, "We might as well move the capital to somewhere else." Elizabeth Teague, RFE/RL, Inc. CIS GAS SUPPLIES TO UKRAINE, BELARUS, MOLDOVA THREATENED. The Russian natural gas concern Gazprom was reported by Russian and Western agencies on 2 March to be making one more attempt to collect payment from Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova for its supplies of natural gas. Unless payment is forthcoming, Gazprom has threatened to cut off supplies completely. Gazprom has accused Ukraine of tapping the gas transit lines to Western Europe. A senior official of the Ukrainian gas company "Ukrhazprom" denied this charge on 2 March, but admitted that Ukraine might be obliged to do so in future if its own supplies from Russia were cut. Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA UZBEK-RUSSIAN ECONOMIC AGREEMENT SIGNED. On 2 March, the first day of an official visit to Moscow by Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov, the Uzbek leader met with his Russian counterpart Boris Yeltsin and the two heads of state signed an agreement on economic integration, Russian media reported. The agreement provides for Uzbekistan and Russia to coordinate economic reforms and fiscal policies, encourages ties between enterprises in the two countries, and ensures the mutual convertibility of the two currencies. Karimov, who has been pressured by Russian officials to accept the concept of dual citizenship, was reported to have said that introduction of dual citizenship might be counterproductive for Russia. The Uzbek president emphasized the importance to Uzbekistan of its relationship with Russia, stressing his country's dependence on Russian military and technical expertise. Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc. CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE CROATIAN MEDIA GIVE CAUTIOUS WELCOME TO PACT. Major Croatian dailies and weeklies greet the new Croat-Muslim agreement but raise a series of questions as well. The 3 March Vecernji list calls the latest developments a "real shock" and notes that at least ten agreements have already come and gone between the two sides. The article concludes that the pact was the price President Franjo Tudjman had to pay to return to the West's good graces. Novi list of 2 March raises a question also brought up by Vecernji list, namely whether the Croat-Muslim confederation might be a part of some foreign scheme to reconstruct a Yugoslav state. Be that as it may, Nedjeljna Dalmacija adds that the agreement of the Serbs is necessary to make any project for Bosnia work, while Vjesnik of 3 March quotes many leading opposition politicians to the same effect. Turning to the shape of the new confederation, Vecernji list notes that the text of the pact has not been published, but speculates as to what the Croats' share of the new entity might look like. Globus of 4 March runs two articles on the subject, one looking back at the poor track record of Croatia's Bosnian policy to date, and the other reviewing the political and economic reasons for the change in policy. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. OTHER REACTIONS TO THE CROAT-MUSLIM PACT. International media reported on 2 March that Hungary and Turkey both welcomed the project, while in Belgrade the 3 March dailies record much skepticism. One article in Borba calls it "Switzerland, Balkan style," and concludes that the project is doomed, while Politika reports that the opposition Serbian Renewal Movement sees a "latter-day Yalta" in the making as Washington and Moscow move to carve up the Balkans into new spheres of influence. Western dailies raise all manner of questions, including whether the project can work without Serb participation or whether it is indeed designed to save a Croat-Muslim entity in the face of an inevitable Greater Serbia. Other issues include whether the agreement can be made to stick in the unruly remote corners of Bosnia, and whether the Croats and Muslims can live side-by-side again, especially if refugees driven from their homes by ethnic cleansing are indeed allowed to return. Meanwhile in Moscow, Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic attended a soccer game with ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, and The Los Angeles Times quotes the Russian as saying that he and the Serb "understand each other quite well." Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. SERBIA POLITICAL UPDATE. On 3 March Politika reports that the new Socialist Party of Serbia prime minister, Mirko Marjanovic, appears to have garnered some opposition party support in his bid to lead a government of "national unity." Members of New Democracy, a Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DEPOS) coalition partner, have expressed interest in backing Marjanovic and reportedly may be angling for influence over the culture and finance portfolios. No other DEPOS members have broken ranks and say they intend to stay in opposition. Politika, suggesting that the leader of the Democratic Party may be about to support the SPS, runs the headline "Djindjic Did Not Say No' to Marjanovic." Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. MACEDONIA UNDER ECONOMIC SIEGE, EU TAKES NO ACTION. With Greece strictly enforcing its 16 February economic embargo, Macedonia is feeling the pinch as oil supplies decrease and price increases for certain scarce commodities. To add to its woes, Reuters and Vecer reports, rump Yugoslavia, very likely as a means of supporting its ally Greece, has closed its airspace to Macedonian airlines. Belgrade explained the move by Macedonia's failure to pay debts (which could not be paid because of Macedonia's adherence to the UN sanctions imposed on the rump state). Meanwhile, the European Union has decided not to take legal action against Greece in the hope of resolving the dispute through negotiations. Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov stated his republic's willingness to enter discussions but will not accept any preconditions. Greece says it will not enter discussions unless certain preconditions are met, including changing the states name, constitution and flag Duncan Perry, RFE/RL, Inc. KOSOVAR SOCIAL DEMOCRATS DENY SPLIT. The leadership of the Social Democratic Party of Kosovo has denied reports that the party has split, Rilindja said on 28 February. The Belgrade daily Borba on 8 and 9 February said that the resignation of party leader Shkelzen Maliqi shows that the much-celebrated harmony of Kosovar Albanian parties is history. Borba quoted an article by Maliqi originally published in Bujku, in which he said that the Kosovar shadow state is just a semblance of democratic political life in an authoritarian set-up. The Social Democrats have since charged Borba with spreading lies in order to create "a tense atmosphere" in Kosovo and say differences within the party have, in fact, diminished. Fabian Schmidt, RFE/RL, Inc. SOLIDARITY STEPS UP PRESSURE ON GOVERNMENT. The Solidarity trade union announced plans for a nationwide strike on 7 March by workers in mining, the steel industry, railways, communications, and selected other industries and regions, Polish TV reports. The strike threat is part of the union's strategy of gradually stepping up pressure on the government. Solidarity's spokesman said the union would call off the strike if the government agreed to open negotiations on the draft budget for 1994. The government has offered to negotiate with Solidarity, but not on this year's budget. Instead, it has urged the union to join in talks on "social guarantees" that are now in progress, with most of Poland's other major unions taking part. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. POLISH COALITION CLOSES RANKS ON BUDGET. The 1994 budget is scheduled to come to a vote in the Sejm on 4 March. The budget commission has recommended approval of the government's original proposals, but coalition leaders fear defections among their own deputies, especially as the Sejm moves to consider "minority" motions proposing a total of 30 trillion zloty ($1.4 billion) in new spending. Both coalition parties have imposed discipline for the budget vote; the two caucuses held their first joint meeting on 2 March to drive home the point. During a separate session on 1 March, the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) resolved to expel any deputy who votes against the government's budget or fails to show up. PAP reports that 10-15 SLD "unionist" deputies have threatened to vote against the budget anyway, although the OPZZ federation opted on 2 March to support it. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. WALESA CONTINUES ATTACK ON BROADCASTING COUNCIL. Departing for a five-day visit to India on 2 March, President Lech Walesa told reporters that he intends to name a new chairman of the National Broadcasting Council (KRRiT) as soon as he returns. Walesa dismissed Marek Markiewicz as chairman on 1 March but did not try to remove him from the council. Walesa said the new chairman would not be a current KRRiT member. As the president can only name a chairman from among council members, one of his appointees would have to step down to make Walesa's solution possible. Acting KRRiT Chairman Maciej Ilowiecki announced he will not resign, but the third Walesa appointee, the conservative Catholic Ryszard Bender, told Polish TV he is considering leaving because he feels overburdened. Walesa was rumored to have urged Bender to resign during a meeting on 28 February. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAK PRESIDENT ACCEPTS RESIGNATION OF ROMAN KOVAC. On 2 March President Michal Kovac accepted the resignation of Roman Kovac from his post as deputy premier, TASR reports. Roman Kovac submitted his resignation on 25 February, after breaking away from Premier Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia to form the Alternative of Political Realism. The resignation of Foreign Minister Jozef Moravcik, who joined Kovac in forming the APR, has not yet been accepted by the president, who said he is waiting until Meciar proposes an acceptable replacement. Meanwhile, Deputy Premier Jozef Prokes, whom Kovac rejected as a replacement for Moravcik, will head the Slovak delegation at the session of foreign ministers of the Central European Initiative to be held in Italy from 4 to 5 March. According to a ministry spokeswoman, State Secretary Jan Lisuch is now in charge of day-to-day business at the ministry. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. CZECH-AUSTRIAN CONTROVERSY OVER TEMELIN INTENSIFIES. Speaking to journalists in Prague on 2 March, Czech Premier Vaclav Klaus said that the Czech government "has been watching with a degree of alarm" various steps by Austria aimed at preventing the completion of the nuclear power plant in Temelin. Klaus said that on 1 March the Austrian Ambassador to the US visited the president of the EXIM Bank that had agreed to guarantee some $317 million in commercial loans that the US Westinghouse company needs to complete the Temelin project. According to Klaus, the Austrian Ambassador also sent letters with a 500-page enclosure challenging the project to some US Congressmen. The members of the Congress have until 3 March to raise objections to the project. The EXIM Bank is to make the final decision on the loan guarantees on 10 March. CTK reported on 2 March that ten members of the House of Representatives, led by Joseph Kennedy, sent a letter to the EXIM Bank, arguing that the bank should not approve the loan guarantees until a thorough ecological and security analysis of the Temelin project is done. However, the EXIM bank spokesman told CTK on 2 March that the bank "has not received any new information that could influence the bank's intention to guarantee the loan." Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc. HUNGARIAN ARMY HAS NEW COMMANDER. President Arpad Goncz on 1 March 1 invested Lt. General Janos Deak as the new Commander of the Hungarian army, replacing Col. General Kalman Lorincz, who reached the mandatory retirement age of 55 in February. Deak will also keep his current post of Army Chief of Staff. Earlier this year, Hungary's army command and defense ministry were merged under the defense minister in order to keep the military under permanent civilian control in both peace and war time, MTI reports. Alfred Reisch, RFE/RL, Inc. ROMANIA CRITICIZES BISHOP TOKES, HDFR. A Romanian foreign ministry spokesman said on 2 March that a declaration released on 28 February by the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania was "extremist" and "anti-Romanian," an RFE/RL correspondent and Radio Bucharest reported on the same day. The spokesman said the declaration "embraced" all the accusations at the address of the authorities included in a letter addressed to the HDFR leadership by its honorary president, bishop Laszlo Toekes. The HDFR declaration of 28 February accused the authorities of lacking the "political will" to implement the recommendations made by the Council of Europe. The spokesman said it was "high time" for the HDFR to realize that its complaints should be addressed to Romanian authorities and not to foreign bodies. Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc. ROMANIAN EXTREMIST PARTIES REACT TO NEW REALITIES. The Party of Romanian National Unity and the Greater Romania Party appear to react confusedly to the emerging political arrangement of a Party of Social Democracy in Romania backed in parliament by the democratic opposition. Radio Bucharest on 2 March quoted PRNU deputy chairman Ioan Gavra as saying that his party's leadership had decided to "stop the clock" on 1 March and await "normalization of social and political life in Romania." At the same time, Gavra said, the PRNU was still willing to participate in a new coalition. On the other hand, the PRNU chairman, Gheorghe Funar, said his party was still favoring the so-called "pentagonal" arrangement that envisaged a new coalition formed by the PSDR, the PRNU, the GRP, the Socialist Labor Party and the Democratic Agrarian Party. Funar met on 2 March the GRP leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor and both said they were still supporting Prime Minister Vacaroiu personally, but also wanted to have new elections. Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc. BULGARIAN DEFENSE MINISTER RECEIVE PROTESTING OFFICERS. Bulgarian Defense Minister Valentin Aleksandrov on 2 March held talks with top Bulgarian officers and representatives of the Rakovski Legion to consider the progress of reforms in the armed forces, BTA reports. During the meeting, both problems related to restructuring the Bulgarian Army and specific problems regarding officers' salaries and living conditions were discussed. A few days earlier the Rakovski Legion--an interest organization which to some extent functions as an officers' trade union--had organized a petition against what it regards as dangerously low military expenses in the recently adopted 1994 budget. Aleksandrov had first reacted angrily to that initiative, charging on 28 February the Rakovski Legion with having violated the army's Disciplinary Code by organizing a collective protest. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc. YELTSIN WRITES TO "DNIESTER" PRESIDENT. Basapress distributed on 1 March excerpts from a purported letter from Boris Yeltsin to Dniester Russian leader Igor Smirnov, which had just been published in full in the "Dniester republic" press. On the same day ITAR-TASS summarized Yeltsin's letter also based on the "Dniester" press. Couched in a highly deferential tone toward Smirnov, the letter outlines a framework for a political settlement of the Dniester conflict: "a wide autonomy for the Dniester region as part of the Republic of Moldova;" a single army, security service, and financial system; and a role for Russia "together with other countries" in guaranteeing the eventual settlement. An envoy of Yeltsin would shortly hand over to Smirnov a set of proposals on the region's special status, to serve as a basis for negotiations among the "parties to the conflict." The published text does not mention Russia's 14th Army, but the Russian side conditions any withdrawal on a political settlement of the Dniester conflict. Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. ESTONIA'S ECONOMY IN JANUARY. According to customs statistics, in January Estonia had a trade deficit of 321 million kroons ($24 million) with imports worth 1,610.8 million kroons and exports 1,289.8 million kroons, BNS reported on 1 March. Compared to December, exports fell by 133.3 million kroons while imports rose by 61.1 million kroons. According to a poll by the EMOR market and opinion research company, the gross income of Estonian families in January declined by 15.6% from December to 833.12 kroons per family member, with consumption in nominal prices declining by 18.6% from December to 612.73 kroons per person. A positive development in January was the collection of revenues to the state budget of 486.2 million kroons (greater than the planned monthly revenues of 475 million kroons) while budget expenditures were 322.4 million kroons. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. TWO LATVIAN-ISRAELI ACCORDS SIGNED. While on an official visit to Israel, Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Birkavs signed with his Israeli counterpart Yitzhak Rabin two interstate accords: "On the Protection and Encouragement of Investments," and "On Cooperation in Education, Science, and Culture." Other purposes of this visit were to arrange for Latvia to purchase Israeli security equipment for border guards and the police and to study Israel's border protection system. An Israeli delegation is expected in Latvia in April, Diena reported on 28 February. Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIA BACKTRACKS ON DATE OF TROOP WITHDRAWAL FROM ESTONIA. The seventeenth round of Estonian-Russian negotiations ended in a stalemate on 2 March, Baltic and Western media reported. The Russian side insisted on linking other issues, especially "social guarantees" for the retired Russian and Soviet military living in Estonia, with the main accord on the troop withdrawal, while the Estonian side found such linkage to be contrary to earlier agreements. Furthermore, the Russian side claimed that Estonia was not honoring its promise to provide funds for the construction of housing for departing Russian troops--a promise that the Estonian side says it never made. Russian delegation head Vasilii Svirin stated at the conclusion of the negotiations that the date of 31 August 1994 for the complete pullout of Russian troops from Estonia "was no longer valid," thus endorsing a 28 February statement by Russian Foreign Ministry official Vladimir Udaltsov. Estonian Foreign Minister Juri Luik described this as "blackmail" and called for "strong international pressure" to make sure that Russian troops left Estonia. 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. 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