To live is so startling, it leaves little time for anything else. - Emily Dickinson
RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 45, 7 March 1994

RUSSIA

YELTSIN ON AMNESTY OF COUP LEADERS. Speaking at an expanded cabinet 
meeting in the Kremlin on 4 March, President Boris Yeltsin said the 
amnesty recently approved by the State Duma "seriously violated the 
Constitution, the law and moral standards," ITAR-TASS reported. The 
amnesty covered those responsible for the 1991 attempted coup as well as 
the disturbances in Moscow in October 1993. Members of Yeltsin's 
administration have argued that in fact the act of the State Duma was not 
an amnesty but a pardon since it applied to specific individuals, not 
certain categories of crimes. According to the constitution, only the 
president can pardon individuals, whereas amnesty is a prerogative of the 
lower chamber of the parliament and the president cannot veto the State 
Duma's decision on amnesty. Although maintaining that the State Duma 
violated the Constitution, Yeltsin said he would accept the Duma's 
decision on the amnesty in order to avoid confrontation with the new 
parliament. Vera Tolz, RFE/RL, Inc.

CHERNOMYRDIN ON THE ECONOMY. To judge from the summaries carried by 
ITAR-TASS and Interfax, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's much-delayed 
and long-awaited speech on 4 March to the extended cabinet meeting did not 
offer viable solutions to the most urgent problems facing the economy. He 
blamed key ministries and the Russian Central Bank (RCB) for inaction over 
the arrears crisis, but did not suggest a way out. Chernomyrdin rebuked 
RCB Chairman Viktor Gerashchenko by name for his profligacy with soft 
credits and for his tolerance of high rates of inflation. He criticized 
the internal revenue structure for a 30% shortfall in revenues in 1993 (in 
January, the shortfall was reported to be 50%). The prime minister also 
implied that the agricultural lobby's demands for subsidies were 
excessive, that further legislation on bankruptcy was forthcoming, and 
that citizens whose savings were virtually wiped out in January 1992 would 
receive further compensation beyond the threefold indexation recently 
announced. Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc.

RUSSIAN PARATROOPERS READY FOR BOSNIA. An official from the headquarters 
of the Russian Airborne Forces told ITAR-TASS on 4 March that Russia is 
prepared to airlift 300 paratroopers to Bosnia to reinforce its 
peacekeeping forces already on the ground there. The same official 
reportedly expressed surprise over a statement by a French general 
suggesting that only American, British, or French servicemen were capable 
of operating rapidly and professionally in Bosnia. The official said that 
Russian forces had proved their mettle during their recent redeployment 
from Croatia to Bosnia. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. 

RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE TAKES OFFENSIVE IN AMES AFFAIR. Spokeswoman of the 
Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Tatyana Samolis said that her agency 
hopes that Ames affair does not obstruct the Russian-American relations 
and that the "spy scandal" will be tackled during Russian Foreign Minister 
Andrei Kozyrev's meeting with US Secretary of State Warren Christopher 
later in March. In an interview on Ostankino television on 6 March, 
Samolis said that Ames had not harmed US "secrets" but only helped Russia 
to keep its "secrets" safe from American "intelligence penetration." 
Russia like the US has its own national interests and can defend them by 
any means including intelligence techniques, noted Samolis. Victor 
Yasmann, RFE/RL, Inc.

FOREIGN MINISTRY SEMINAR ON RUSSIAN-SPEAKERS. On 4 March, the Russian 
Foreign Ministry held a seminar on the issue of Russians and Russian 
speakers in the CIS and Baltic countries. According to Leonid Drachevsky, 
head of the MFA's department for CIS affairs, only integration within the 
framework of the CIS can assuage the controversy around the problems of 
the Russian-speaking population. According to Gennadii Mozhaev, a 
representative from the Association for the Ties with Foreign Compatriots, 
the strategic task of Russia is "to keep all Eurasian territory of the 
former Soviet Union if not under control, then under strong influence . . 
. From this point of view it's an advantage for us to have a big number of 
Russians in the near abroad." The Baltic states should not be excluded 
from the discussion according to Aleksandr Denisov, identified by Interfax 
as Russia's senior adviser at the United Nations. Denisov also ruled out 
the idea of migration of ethnic Russians from CIS countries. "The Russians 
must stay wherever they are historically strong and should be only 
economically supported." Former First Deputy Foreign Minister Fedor 
Shelov-Kovedyaev, a co-chairman of The Russian Club, rejected the use of 
these Russian-speakers as a fifth-column, but said that they should be 
supported "in every way to forestall their massive migration." Suzanne 
Crow, RFE/RL, Inc. 

CIS

WARHEAD TRANSFER TO RUSSIA BEGINS. Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk 
announced on 4 March that a train carrying 60 warheads from ICBMs had 
departed for a dismantling site in Russia, according to Western press 
agencies. Kravchuk's announcement came after a meeting with President 
Clinton, and followed days of speculation as to when, or whether, the 
shipment of warheads would begin. One potential hitch was the timing of 
Russia's delivery of nuclear fuel to Ukrainian nuclear power plants, but 
Reuters reported on 4 March that Russian Minatom officials had announced 
that the first such shipment had been sent. However, the New York Times 
reported on 7 March that Kravchuk had warned that further warhead 
transfers were dependent upon Russia's actions, particularly Russian 
threats to cut natural gas supplies to Ukraine in a dispute over payment. 
There have been no reports that Kravchuk has formally deposited the 
START-1 ratification instruments, an action that would finally complete 
the ratification process. John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc. 

FURTHER CUTS IN GAS SUPPLIES. Further cuts in the supply of Russian 
natural gas to Ukraine were reported by Russian and Western agencies on 4 
and 6 March, and deliveries by 6 March were said to be down to one-fifth 
of the normal level. However, although Ukraine does not appear to have 
transferred any funds towards meeting its arrears--estimated at around 1.5 
trillion rubles--supplies were not completely halted, as had been 
threatened. Russian and Ukrainian officials are due to meet in Moscow on 
10 March to discuss the repayment of the Ukrainian debt to Gazprom. Keith 
Bush, RFE/RL, Inc.

PEACEKEEPING AND THE CIS AS AN INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION. Interfax 
reported on 4 March that Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev sent a 
message to the foreign ministers of the CIS states underscoring the 
importance of the CIS gaining the status of an observer international 
organization at the United Nations. He pointed out that all official CIS 
documents should be forwarded to the UN Secretariat for registration and 
circulation as official UN documents. Kozyrev also urged that efforts be 
made for the CIS to gain recognition as a regional organization by 
European structures such as the EU and the CSCE. The reason such a status 
is important for the CIS is related to Russia's peacekeeping efforts. 
Vladimir Shustov, head of Russia's delegation to the CSCE in Vienna, said 
in a speech in February that Article 52 of the United Nations charter 
allows regional organizations to take action to maintain peace and 
security and there is no need for Russia or the CIS to seek the approval 
of CSCE or any other international organization for its peacemaking 
operations within the CIS. Russia has pressed with increasing frequency in 
the last few months for the CIS to be recognized as an international 
organization. Suzanne Crow, RFE/RL, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

KAZAKHSTAN ELECTION PROCEDURES CRITICIZED. Criticism of Kazakhstan's 
election law and of the country's electoral commissions increased in the 
last few days before the 7 March parliamentary election, Western and 
Russian news agencies reported on 6 and 7 March. More than 120 foreign 
observers are in Kazakhstan to monitor the election, and some complained 
that the rules for registering a candidacy are too complicated and too 
much power is given to election commissions in individual electoral 
districts. Two hundred would-be candidates were refused registration. 
Russian groups believe that Kazakhs will take most of the seats in the new 
legislature, thereby exacerbating relations between the country's two 
major ethnic groups, since only 128 Russian candidates registered, 
compared to 566 Kazakhs. According to some reports, apathy is widespread 
among voters and some districts may not achieve the 50% turnout needed for 
the poll to be valid. Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc.

TAJIK OPPOSITION AGREES TO TALK TO GOVERNMENT. Russian Deputy Foreign 
Minister Anatolii Adamishin, in Tehran for talks with Tajik opposition 
leaders in exile, reported after a first round of discussions on 6 March 
that opposition leaders had agreed to negotiate directly with Tajikistan's 
government, Russian and Western sources reported. None of the reports gave 
the names of the leaders who spoke for the Tajik opposition; recently the 
former chief Muslim clergyman of Tajikistan, Akbar Turadzhonzoda, now one 
of the most important leaders of the opposition in exile, told Iranian 
journalists that he would never agree to negotiations with the present 
Tajik government. AFP reported that Adamishin had met with the Islamic 
National Movement of Tajikistan and the Coordination Center of the 
Democratic Opposition. The 6 March issue of the semi-official Tehran Times 
was quoted by AFP as criticizing Russia for supporting the present 
government in Tajikistan. Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc.

HARASSMENT OF OPPOSITION CONTINUES IN UZBEKISTAN. RFE/RL learned on 4 
March that several officials of Uzbekistan's opposition Erk Party had been 
detained for questioning by officials of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. 
Erk spokeswoman Dilarom Ishaqqizi reported that she and another female Erk 
activist, Qubanay Rahimova, had been questioned and accused of 
distributing Erk's banned newspaper, but both were later released. Erk 
secretaries Abdulhay Mavlanov and Humudulla Nurmuhammedov, former 
secretary Atanazar Aripov and writer Muhamadali Mahmudov were also picked 
up for questioning and were accused of distributing the Erk newspaper and 
a book by party chairman Muhammad Salih. Erk, the only genuine opposition 
political party in Uzbekistan (the opposition Birlik movement was never 
able to register as a party) lost its registration in late 1993; official 
harassment of the group has increased in recent weeks. Bess Brown, RFE/RL, 
Inc. 

MILITARY AGREEMENT BETWEEN KYRGYZSTAN AND RUSSIA. Officials of Kyrgyzstan 
and the Russian Federation signed an agreement on 4 March regulating the 
service of Russian citizens in the armed forces of Kyrgyzstan, Ostankino 
TV reported in 5 March. Russians make up a large share of Kyrgyzstan's 
officer corps. Under the agreement, Russian citizens will have individual 
contracts with Kyrgyzstan's Ministry of Defense. When their contracts 
expire, the ministry will be obligated to buy them housing anywhere they 
choose in Russia except St Petersburg or Moscow. If they prefer to remain 
in Kyrgyzstan, they will be given without cost ownership of whatever 
quarters they occupy. Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc. 

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

CROATS AND MUSLIMS CONTINUE TALKS, SET UP JOINT CHECKPOINTS. International 
media reported on 4 March that Croatian and Bosnian representatives 
resumed their talks, this time at the US embassy in Vienna. Previous 
rounds culminated in an agreement signed on 1 March in Washington to set 
up a joint state in Bosnia and to link it in a confederation with Croatia. 
Reuters on 5 March quoted Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic as saying 
that peace could come as early as April, provided that Russia puts 
pressure on Bosnian Serbs to end the conflict, although Bosnian Serb 
officials have said in recent days that they want no part in the 
agreement. The text of the pact signed in Washington has not been 
published, but reports suggest that it could work either with or without 
the Serbs. Some Croatian observers apparently would prefer that the Serbs 
stay out, lest the resulting confederation be a first step toward 
resurrecting a larger Yugoslavia. Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports 
on 6 March that Croat and Muslim forces have already begun setting up 
joint checkpoints at Zepce, while news agencies added that the Croats have 
begun turning over some of their heavy guns to the UN. Patrick Moore, 
RFE/RL, Inc. 

ARE THE SERBS TESTING THE UN? International media reported on 5 and 6 
March that Serb forces have blockaded seven aid convoys in Bosnia and have 
pressed on with their shelling near Maglaj. On 5 March Serbs fired on 
French UN troops in Sarajevo, and UN spokesmen confirmed that same day 
that there were still Serb heavy weapons in the area not under UN control. 
AFP on 6 March quoted Bosnian military sources as saying that Serb planes 
bombed Maglaj early that morning, while Sarajevo Radio claimed that "in 
the bestial bombing, the chetniks destroyed the old bridge in Maglaj." 
Finally, the French news agency added that German prosecutors are looking 
into the situations of a dozen suspected Serbian war criminals in Germany, 
following the arrest of Dusan Tadic on 13 February. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, 
Inc.

SERBIAN OPPOSITION TO JOIN SOCIALISTS? On 5 March Politika reported that 
Serbia's recently appointed prime minister, Mirko Marjanovic of the 
Socialist Party of Serbia, plans to constitute a government of "national 
unity" that may include members of three parliamentary parties--the SPS, 
the Democratic Party, and New Democracy. According to Marjanovic, only two 
parties, the Serbian Radical Party and the Democratic Party of Serbia, 
have unilaterally "closed the door" to participation in the government. 
Meanwhile, on 7 March Borba reports that the role, if any, that some 
parties may play in the government remains vague. Borba notes that 
Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic has himself hinted that conditional 
support may yet be extended to the SPS, remarking "the door is not closed 
to a government of national unity." However, Djindjic also added that "the 
Democratic Party will not join Marjanovic's government" since an 
acceptable formula for building a government "at present has not been 
realized." Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc.

POLISH SEJM PASSES 1994 BUDGET. By a vote of 289 to 115 with 27 
abstentions, the Sejm approved the government's proposed 1994 budget on 5 
March, PAP reports. The budget sets the deficit at 83 trillion zloty ($3.8 
billion), or 4.1% of GDP. All attempts to increase spending over 
government-proposed limits were rejected. The vote followed party lines, 
with all four opposition parties voting against or abstaining. Despite 
fears of "unionist" defections, only four coalition deputies, all from the 
Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), voted against the budget; they were 
promptly expelled from their party caucus. To compensate for the strict 
spending limits, the Sejm adopted a resolution binding the government to 
seek new revenues and, if possible, revise the budget in June. It also 
adopted monetary guidelines that the National Bank has criticized as 
likely to generate high inflation. In a motion backed by the SLD but 
opposed by the Polish Peasant Party (PSL), the Sejm voted to postpone 
recapitalizing Poland's huge agricultural crediting bank (BGZ) until it is 
restructured as a corporation. The Sejm also rejected several PSL 
amendments to the "privatization guidelines" that seemed to be intended to 
limit the government's ability to sell off state firms. The Senate's 
approval of the budget is still needed before the president can sign it 
into law. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. 

POLAND'S DEMOCRATIC UNION TO MERGE WITH LIBERALS. At an extraordinary 
congress on 5-6 March, Poland's largest opposition party, the Democratic 
Union (UD), voted 318 to 4 to approve a merger with the Liberal Democratic 
Congress (KLD), PAP reports. The KLD suffered a crushing defeat in the 
September elections. The unification congress to create a new "party of 
the center" is scheduled for April, with the UD sending 2.7 delegates for 
every one from the KLD. UD Chairman Tadeusz Mazowiecki reversed an earlier 
decision to step down and announced he would stay on to head the party 
after the merger. Although Mazowiecki warned that he would no longer be a 
"safety pin" holding the UD's left and right wings together, no decision 
was made on whether to forbid factions in the new party. Mazowiecki's 
withdrawal had prompted a movement to draft reform architect Leszek 
Balcerowicz to head the new party. Though reviled by the ruling coalition, 
Balcerowicz recently won support from 5,864 viewers and criticism from 
only 1274 on a television call-in program. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. 

SLOVAK CONSERVATIVE PARTIES UNITE. The Conservative Democratic Party and 
the Democratic Party, two parties representing Slovakia's political right, 
officially merged on 6 March to form the new Democratic Party, TASR 
reports. Pavol Hagyari, former CDP chairman, was elected chairman of the 
DP, while former Privatization Minister Ivan Miklos was elected deputy 
chairman. Hagyari said he hoped that the fusion of the two 
extraparliamentary parties would enable rightists to return to the 
parliament when new elections are held. Criticizing the current 
government's economic policy, Miklos said a major goal of the DP is quick 
privatization, giving equal opportunity to all those interested. Sharon 
Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc.

SLOVAKS AND HUNGARIANS DISAGREE AT CEI MEETING. In a meeting of the 
10-member Central European Initiative held from 4 to 5 March in Trieste, 
Slovaks and Hungarians squabbled over minority rights issues, Reuters 
reported on 4 March. In a repeat of the CEI summit held in Budapest in 
July 1993, Slovakia, backed by the Czech Republic, said the CEI's plans to 
finalize a document setting standards on the rights of ethnic groups 
should be delayed until the Council of Europe has made its own agreement. 
The Slovak delegation, led by Deputy Premier and Slovak National Party 
Honorary Chairman Jozef Prokes (Prokes was recently rejected by the 
president for the post of Foreign Minister), expressed dissatisfaction 
that political issues had gained more importance in the CEI program, while 
the original aim of intensifying economic cooperation was deemphasized, 
TASR reported on 6 March. The CEI is a regional cooperation forum whose 
members include Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, Italy, 
Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, and Macedonia. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, 
Inc.

HUNGARIAN RADIO CRIPPLED BY INTERNAL FIGHTS. Following the 4 March 
dismissal of 129 radio journalists, strikes and chaos crippled some 
weekend broadcasts at Radio Budapest, MTI and international media report. 
The acting head of the Radio, Laszlo Csucs, had government approval to 
reduce the over 2000 strong staff by 129 journalists in order to save 
money. The opposition parties claim, however, that the reductions, which 
occurred some two months ahead of the national elections, were politically 
motivated; Csucs removed such prominent journalists as the head of an 
investigative weekly political magazine. The fact that the parliament 
failed to pass a media law in December 1992 makes the situation at Radio 
Budapest difficult to handle. The Hungarian Socialist Party has already 
indicated that if it wins the upcoming elections, it will reinstate the 
journalists to their former positions. Judith Pataki, RFE/RL, Inc.

SHEVARDNADZE IN PRAGUE. Georgian Parliament Chairman Eduard Shevardnadze, 
on his way to the US., visited Prague on 6 March. CTK reports that 
Shevardnadze met briefly with Czech President Vaclav Havel. After the 
meeting, Havel told journalists that both states will be opening 
diplomatic missions in their capitals. Shevardnadze said that peace in the 
Transcaucasian Region is impossible without "the decisive participation of 
Russia." He also repeated that Georgia must be part of the Commonwealth of 
Independent States, saying economic and other contacts in the CIS will 
help Georgia survive as a nation. Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc. 

BULGARIAN CONVOY VIOLATES DANUBE BLOCKADE. On 6 March a river convoy towed 
by a Bulgarian tugboat violated the UN embargo against rump Yugoslavia and 
reached the Serbian port of Prahovo, BTA reports. The convoy, carrying an 
estimated cargo of 6,000 tons of fuel, slipped through the blockade by 
defying orders to halt and threatening to set the convoy ablaze. Bulgarian 
customs officials told journalists that a group of armed men standing on 
deck had also pointed guns at some crew members as if the tugboat had been 
hijacked; but they said the scene may have been posed. Patrol boats of 
both the Bulgarian border troops and the West European Union were involved 
in attempts to force the convoy to turn back. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, 
Inc. 

ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT RESHUFFLE. In a governmental reshuffle announced by 
Radio Bucharest on 6 March, President Ion Iliescu appointed civilians to 
head the Defense and Interior Ministries. Gheorghe Tinca, a career 
diplomat who is an expert on disarmament, became the first ever civilian 
to head the Defense Ministry, replacing Lieutenant General Nicolae 
Spiroiu. Spiroiu had been under attack for some time by the Greater 
Romania Party, which eventually secured the support from the Party of 
Romanian National Unity and the Socialist Labor Party on this matter. Doru 
Ioan Taracila, a Senator representing the Party of Social Democracy in 
Romania, replaced Major General George Ioan Danescu as Interior Minister. 
In two other changes, Iosif Gavril Chiuzbaian, a magistrate, replaced 
Petru Ninosu as Justice Minister, and Aurel Novac replaced Paul Teodoru, 
whose ministry has been at the core of a shipping scandal, as Minister of 
Transportation. Iliescu said Spiroiu would be sent to Brussels to help in 
Romania's effort to integrate its security structures with NATO's 
Partnership for Peace plan. Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc. 

ROMANIAN COALITION TRAVAILS. Emil Constantinescu, president of the 
Democratic Convention of Romania (the opposition centrist alliance) said 
that the DCR will not back a minority government of the Party of Social 
Democracy in Romania in its present form, Radio Bucharest reported on 4 
March. On the other hand, venues remain open for the possibility of 
backing a PSDR government different from the one now ruling the country, 
he said. The conditions set by the DCR appear to have been accepted by the 
PSDR, according to what its executive president, Adrian Nastase, said in 
an interview with Radio Bucharest on 5 March. Nastase said the new 
minority PSDR government must be "rapidly" formed and that it was 
necessary to bring in new, "more competent" ministers. This was the "only 
alternative to new elections," and it meant a "changed government" that 
"enjoys the backing of both sides represented in the parliament." It is 
doubtful, however, whether the changes in the government announced on 6 
March are what the opposition had in mind when demanding personnel changes 
in the executive. Reuters quoted Ion Diaconescu, vice-chairman of the 
National Peasant Party Christian Democratic, as terming the changes 
"cosmetic." Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc. 

BAN ON LATIN SCRIPT NOW COMPLETE IN "DNIESTER" SCHOOLS. The "Dniester 
republic" authorities have announced a decision to ban the Latin script 
from the last three Moldovan schools--located in the cities of Tiraspol, 
Rabnita, and Bendery--that were still allowed to use it, Basapress 
reported on 3 and 5 March. Two of the school directors were fired for 
refusing to comply. Moldovan parents are picketing the Tiraspol school to 
defend the director (an ethnic Bulgarian), while the Rabnita school's 
teachers and students went on strike following a decision of the parental 
committee. The other Moldovan schools in Transdniester have been forbidden 
to use the Latin script since 1992, although a few have continued to teach 
it surreptitiously. The measure's timing suggests an attempt to increase 
tension between Chisinau and Tiraspol before the resumption of 
Russian-mediated negotiations. Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc.

KRAVCHUK CONCLUDES US VISIT. On 5 March Ukrainian President Leonid 
Kravchuk concluded his official visit to Washington, which included 
meetings with US President Bill Clinton, top administration officials and 
influential senators, as well as a visit to the Pentagon and discussions 
with business leaders. Economic issues were at the forefront of the visit; 
US aid for Ukraine's economy and funds for the dismantling of its nuclear 
arsenal were doubled, increasing to approximately $700 million, US and 
Ukrainian media reported. Both Clinton and Kravchuk expressed satisfaction 
with the visit, which was said to mark a new stage in US-Ukrainian 
relations. On 6 September, Kravchuk flew to New York for discussions at 
the United Nations, the official opening of the Ukrainian consulate 
general and meetings with representatives of the Ukrainian and Jewish 
communities. Roman Solchanyk, RFE/RL, Inc.

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES. Interfax reported on 5 March that a 
number of parties and organizations have been nominating their candidates 
for the new post of president, even though an election date has not yet 
been set. The Belarusian Scientific and Industrial Congress has reportedly 
proposed the candidacy of Aleksandr Sanchukausky, the manager of the 
Horizont amalgamation. The Party of Popular Accord, a centrist party, has 
advanced the candidacy of Henadz Karpenka. The Belarusian Social 
Democrats, along with the United Democratic Party and other parties, have 
formed an election bloc and proposed the former chairman of the Supreme 
Soviet, Stanislau Shushkevich as their candidate. The position of the 
Belarusian Popular Front still remains uncertain. It is not clear whether 
they will support Shushkevich or their own leader, Zyanon Paznyak. Other 
possible contenders for the post include CIS Executive Secretary Ivan 
Karotchenya, chairman of parliament's commission for combating corruption, 
Aleksandr Lukashenka, and Prime Minister Vyacheslau Kebich. On 1 March the 
Belarusian parliament voted to create the post of national president, who 
will be elected by popular vote. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc.

BELARUS CUTS BACK ON MILITARY PRODUCTION. On 5 March Interfax reported a 
sharp decline in military production in Belarus. According to the first 
deputy defense minister, Aleksandr Tushinsky, production rates have been 
reduced by 65-70% compared with 1991. Tushinsky blamed the decline on the 
"uncontrolled growth of prices of raw materials, fuel and energy, steep 
salary increases and other factors" which have raised production costs. 
Unemployment in the defense sector has risen with as many as 24,800 
"highly qualified experts" (12.9% of the defense workforce) discharged 
from defense enterprises, and a further 8,200 dismissed from military 
research institutes and design bureaus. Between 1988 and 1992, Tushinsky 
said 14 defense enterprises have entirely stopped producing a number of 
"special products." Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc.

RUSSIA'S GAZPROM TO SUPPLY GAS TO THE BALTICS. Valerii Remizov, deputy 
chairman of Russia's Gazprom, told the press on 3 March that Russia has no 
plans to cut off gas supplies to the Baltic States. Earlier that day he 
signed a deal in Vilnius to supply 2,700 million cubic meters of gas (at 
$75 per 1,000 cubic meters) to Lithuania in 1994; Lithuania agreed to 
settle its debts to Gazprom, which total about $32 million. A similar 
agreement with Estonia for 1994 supplies of 900 million cubic meters of 
gas was made a few days before, while an agreement for supplying gas to 
Latvia was signed in Moscow on 5 March. Latvian Prime Minister Valdis 
Birkavs told Interfax that day that his country would repay its $23 
million debt to Gazprom through a loan from the OECD. Dzintra Bungs, 
RFE/RL, Inc.

RUSSIA'S PUBLIC CHAMBER DRAFTS ON RUSSIANS IN BALTIC STATES. On 6 March 
Russia's Public Chamber, a body that makes recommendations to President 
Yeltsin, approved "in principle" three documents on ethnic Russians in the 
Baltic States, ITAR-TASS reports. The documents avow that "numerous 
violations of the rights of compatriots take place" in Estonia and Latvia, 
where hundreds of thousands of non-citizens do not have the right to own 
land and real estate, are forbidden to change their flats, are barred from 
public service, and are socially deprived. Deputy Foreign Minister Vitalii 
Churkin told the chamber that his ministry considers the protection of 
rights and interests of Russians in Latvia and Estonia a "priority task," 
but is striving to show maximum flexibility in solving the problem. He 
said, however, that "normal conditions have been created for people of 
Russian origin" in Lithuania. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. 

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Bess Brown and Sharon Fisher The RFE/RL Daily Report is 
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