The person who knows how to laugh at himself will never cease to be amused. - Shirley MacLaine
RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 47, 9 March 1994

RUSSIA

YELTSIN'S PRIORITIES. Valerii Manilov, Deputy Secretary of the Security 
Council, informed the RFE/RL Research Institute on 3 March that President 
Boris Yeltsin had told a meeting of the Security Council on the same day 
that the fight against crime has a higher priority for him than does 
economic reform. Manilov said that Yeltsin called for "non-standard 
measures" to deal with crime. Manilov also stated that the work of the 
Security Council will be based on that of ten interdepartmental 
commissions. He named nine of the commissions--foreign affairs, defense 
security, interregional matters, military industry, economic security, 
environmental security, public security, security of information, and 
health security. He said that a scientific council has been set up to 
assist the commissions in their work. Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, Inc.

MANNING THE RUSSIAN ARMY: AN UPDATE. Russia's autumn 1993 military draft 
may at last be coming to an end. Although set by law to run from 1 October 
to 31 December, a second phase was added to last fall's draft period when, 
on 2 October, President Yeltsin issued a decree narrowing the draft 
deferments available to draft age young men studying at vocational and 
technical schools. Some of those students were allowed to graduate and, 
according to the Defense Ministry newspaper Krasnaya zvezda, were expected 
in their military units by 10 March of this year. Military leaders said 
that the October decree was justified by continued high levels of draft 
evasion (military leaders have since said that 70,000 young men evaded the 
draft in 1993), draft legislation that frees more than 70% of all draft 
age youth from service altogether, and the fact that two draft cohorts 
were demobilized in fall of 1993. In another step aimed at offsetting the 
army's manpower problems, Boris Yeltsin on 18 January 1994 issued a decree 
authorizing the armed forces to recruit an additional 150,000 contract 
servicemen and women in 1994. Military leaders have said that some 120,000 
contract personnel are currently serving in the armed forces, and they 
estimate that by the end of 1994 the total could rise to 400,000, or 32% 
of all non-officer personnel. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc.

PARDONED FOE OF YELTSIN RESUMES STRUGGLE. Working Russia's hard-line 
leader Viktor Anpilov, released from Lefortovo prison under the recent 
amnesty, told a rally in front of the Russian White House--the former 
parliament building and now government headquarters--on 8 March that he 
would seek to unify communists in the country to fight President Boris 
Yeltsin, ITAR-TASS reported. Anpilov's call tested the limits of Yeltsin's 
warning to those pardoned under the amnesty to refrain from stirring up 
new violence. But Anpilov said it was time to "muster the people's 
strength" to halt government economic policies. Meanwhile, another leader 
of the October rebellion of last year, former Vice-President Aleksandr 
Rutskoi, took part on 6 March in the Sunday liturgy at the famous 
Sergeevo-Posad Monastery and received communion. Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, 
Inc.

PROSECUTOR REVEALS DETAILS OF OCTOBER 1993 CASE. Altogether thirty-one 
people were charged in connection with their participation in the 
parliamentary uprising against President Yeltsin in October 1993, Vladimir 
Kravtsev, Deputy Prosecutor-General responsible for the case, told 
Komsomolskaya pravda on 5 March. This figure, Kravtsev revealed, does not 
include some persons whom the police failed to apprehend, such as an 
unidentified man in police uniform who on 4 October fired an automatic 
rifle at passersby in the center of Moscow. Two of the thirty-one, 
Kravtsev said, have been sentenced for illegal possession of arms they 
obtained at the parliamentary headquarters. According to Kravtsev, 300 
prosecutors and 150 policemen were involved in investigating the case. 
Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL, Inc.

FILATOV PREDICTS NORMALIZATION TALKS WITH CHECHNYA. The head of the 
Presidential administration, Sergei Filatov, said Moscow would soon hold 
talks with the leaders of Chechnya about normalizing relations with the 
breakaway republic, AFP and Interfax reported on 8 March. (Chechnya 
announced independence from Moscow in 1991, but neither the Russian 
leadership nor the international community have recognized it.) Speaking 
at a press-conference in the Kabardino-Balkar capital of Nalchik, Filatov 
said the political and social situation in North Caucasus could not be 
improved without normal relations between Moscow and Chechnya. He said he 
recently met with Chechen officials who agreed to begin the talks. Filatov 
gave no specific date. Vera Tolz, RFE/RL, Inc. 

COMMEMORATION OF VICTIMS OF DEPORTATION OF THE BALKARS. A meeting of 
mourning was held on 8 March in the Kabardino-Balkar capital of Nalchik to 
commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the forced deportation of the 
Balkars from their homeland on Stalin's order. ITAR-TASS reported that the 
head of the presidential administration, Sergei Filatov, read a message to 
the Balkar people from President Yeltsin. In connection with the 
anniversary, the president of Kabardino-Balkaria issued a decree 
reinstating within the republic those administrative-territorial districts 
that had existed there before the deportation of the Balkars. The decree 
also stipulated that financial and other kinds of support should be 
provided to Balkar families who still live in the areas to which they were 
deported (mostly in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan) but who would like to 
return to Kabardino-Balkaria. Vera Tolz, RFE/RL, Inc. 

BORDER GUARDS RUN AMOK. Reuters on 9 March reported that two Russian 
border guards stationed on the Kuril Islands opened fire in a barracks, 
killing six other guards and wounding three. The two then apparently 
opened fire on a helicopter flying over the border post, forcing it to 
crash-land. The reasons for the shooting are unclear, but may be connected 
with the deteriorating conditions (and possibly increasing corruption) in 
one of Russia's less hospitable regions. John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc. 

POOR GRAIN HARVEST EXPECTED IN 1994. The Ministry of Food and Agriculture 
has forecast a grain harvest this year of 89 million tons, Interfax 
reported on 8 March. This total compares with 99 million tons in 1993 and 
107 million tons in 1992, and would suggest an import requirement of 
around 15 million tons. The reasons given for the anticipated reduction 
are a high level of winterkill and shortages of credits, machinery, 
spares, seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides. Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc. 

CIS

GAS TRADE UPDATE. Unnamed sources at the Ministry of Economics told 
Interfax on 8 March that Russia may ask Ukraine to compensate for 
penalties of $500,000 a day incurred for shortfalls in gas supply to West 
European customers caused by alleged Ukrainian siphoning. Another 
government source said that Russia will demand repayment in full of 
Ukraine's 1.5 trillion ruble debt when the negotiations commence on 10 
March: property rights to Ukrainian pipelines and oil installations might 
be acceptable in lieu of cash. The head of Turkey's state pipeline 
company, BOTAS, complained that its gas supplies have declined to a 
"critical level" because of a 20% reduction in the supply of Russian gas, 
Reuters reported. On 8 March, Belapan reported that the Belarusian 
parliament was considering a deal that would provide Belarusian gas 
transporting facilities to Gazprom in return for shares in the Russian 
concern. Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc. 

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN OPPOSITION FORMS SHADOW CABINET. Representatives of several 
Armenian opposition parties have formed a 39-man shadow cabinet led by 
former Prime Minister Vazgen Manukyan, according to Interfax of 8 March. 
The shadow foreign minister is David Vardanyan, like Manukyan a member of 
the National Democratic Union. ARF (Dashnak) member Vahan Oganesyan is 
shadow defense minister, and former CP first secretary Karen 
Demirchyan--Minister for Industry. The shadow cabinet also includes ten 
members of the present government. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. 

TENSIONS RISE IN KURGAN-TYUBE. Armed bands in the Kurgan-Tyube region of 
southern Tajikistan have not surrendered their weapons to government 
officials and the authorities in Dushanbe, who have almost no control over 
the region, may have to use force to control the situation, ITAR-TASS 
reported on 8 March. The bands are remnants of the armed groups that 
supported the pro-Communist side during the 1992 civil war; some of the 
bloodiest battles in the summer of 1992 occurred in the Kurgan-Tyube 
region. They were supposed to have handed in their weapons when the civil 
war wound down in early 1993. But in the last month ten people have been 
killed in the region, including the chief of the Tajik Ministry of 
Defense's special forces brigade, a Medecins sans frontieres volunteer 
and, on 7 March, the body of a former pro-Communist field commander was 
found beside the road from Kurgan-Tyube to Dushanbe. This was interpreted 
by the authorities as an indication that open warfare may be about to 
break out among rival bands. Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc.

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

WHAT ROLE FOR THE SERBS IN A BOSNIAN SETTLEMENT? The BBC on 9 March quoted 
US special envoy Charles Redman as reporting major progress in his talks 
with Croatian President Franjo Tudjman and other officials the previous 
day. It is not clear, however, on which aspects of a settlement the 
advances were made, since Washington and Zagreb appear to have different 
attitudes regarding the inclusion of the Bosnian Serbs in the current 
talks on a settlement. Redman told Reuters on 8 March that the Bosnian 
Serbs would have to be "an important part" of the process. BBC quoted US 
ambassador to Croatia, Peter Galbraith, as saying that the Serbs will 
become "the black hole of Europe" if they stay outside. Belgrade's Vreme 
on 7 March, moreover, pointed out that Washington insists that 
internationally recognized frontiers be respected, and hence would not 
favor a partition of Bosnia into two totally separate states, one joined 
to Croatia and the other to Serbia. But Tudjman seems in no hurry to 
include the Serbs in the talks, although he does not exclude them 
outright. He said during a 7 March press conference that Croatia would 
have to rethink a confederation with Bosnia if the Serbs joined it, and he 
ruled out any confederal links with rump Yugoslavia. Patrick Moore, 
RFE/RL, Inc.

MILOSEVIC MEETS ENVOY, MARJANOVIC BUILDS HIS CABINET. On 9 March Serbian 
media report on the 8 March meeting between US special envoy Charles 
Redman, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, and representatives of the 
Bosnian Serb side. According to accounts, the main purpose of Redman's 
visit to the rump Yugoslavia was to involve Belgrade and the Bosnian Serbs 
in the current peace initiative which has produced agreement between 
Croatia and the Bosnian Croats and Muslims. Borba reports that Milosevic 
informed Redman that Belgrade would not attempt to challenge the 
agreements reached between the Croatian and Bosnian Croat and Muslim sides 
since they "violate no interests of the Serb side." Milosevic also 
stressed that a comprehensive peace settlement for the former Yugoslavia 
should involve lifting the UN sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia. Borba 
also reports that a member of Zoran Djindjic's Democratic Party (DS), 
Slobodan Radulovic, has agreed to join the cabinet that Serbian Premier 
Mirko Marjanovic is attempting to build. DS party leader Djindjic, 
however, has said for the record that the party as a whole will not 
officially join Marjanovic's government. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. 

BOSNIAN TALKS MOVING ALONG. Vecernji list on 9 March carries an interview 
with Deputy Foreign Minister Ivo Sanader, who chairs Croatia's team in the 
Vienna talks with the Bosnian government. He indicates that a few problems 
still remain in hammering out a final agreement, including drawing borders 
in central Bosnia between Croat and Muslim cantons. Military issues are 
also still being discussed in Split by a special committee including the 
two sides' respective commanders as well as UNPROFOR and American 
representatives. Sanader added that the anticipated date for announcing a 
settlement in Vienna has been moved from 15 to 17 March, ostensibly to 
accommodate Muslim wishes because of Ramadan. Meanwhile in Sarajevo, 
international media reported on 8 March that two trams ran through town 
for the first time in two years as a ceasefire generally continued to 
hold. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc.

BEOGRADSKA BANKA FUNDS TANJUG OPERATION IN KOSOVO AND TIRANA. Rilindja 
reported on 7 March that Serbia's Beogradska Banka opened a new 
computerized center in Kosovo's capital, Pristina, for the Serbian news 
agency, Tanjug. For the first time in 55 years, Tanjug will also have a 
permanent correspondent in Tirana, also courtesy of "Beobanka." Meanwhile, 
recent issues of Rilindja suggest that there has been a steady and 
perceptible increase in the number of incidents launched by the Serbian 
police and other authorities against ethnic Albanians, who constitute over 
90% of Kosovo's population. Patrick Moore and Louis Zanga, RFE/RL, Inc. 

POLISH GOVERNMENT APPROVES CONCORDAT. The Polish cabinet voted unanimously 
on 8 March to submit the concordat between Poland and the Vatican to the 
Sejm for ratification, PAP reports. The concordat was signed by the ousted 
government of Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka on 28 July; Suchocka submitted 
it to the Sejm just before leaving office. The new government then 
withdrew it from consideration, amid charges from the Democratic Left 
Alliance (SLD) and other leftist politicians that it infringed on the 
constitutional separation of church and state. The government's decision 
to resubmit the concordat now reflects its fear of antagonizing the 
Church. The parliament has the right to accept or reject the concordat, 
but as an international agreement, it cannot be modified. Ratification is 
likely to depend on supporting votes from the opposition, as much of the 
ruling SLD is almost certain to oppose it. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. 

POLISH COURT CONVICTS UKRAINIAN SPY. A Polish military court on 5 March 
sentenced Maj. Anatolij Lysenko, a Ukrainian secret police official, and 
Janusz Bojarski, the Polish smuggler he recruited to inform on the 
Ukrainian minority in Przemysl, to suspended prison terms of two years, 
PAP reports. The court said the sentences were mild because the 
information conveyed was unimportant. The two men were immediately 
released. Both had admitted to spying during Date:	Wed, 9 Mar 1994 
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interrogation but retracted their confessions in court. Ukraine's 
ambassador to Poland condemned the verdict and claimed that Lysenko's 
detention was the work of "influential forces opposed to closer 
Polish-Ukrainian relations." Lysenko returned to Ukraine on 8 March. 
Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc.

POLAND, HUNGARY PREPARE EU APPLICATIONS. Polish and Hungarian foreign 
ministers Andrzej Olechowski and Geza Jeszenszky, respectively, attended 
the inaugural sessions of their respective "association councils" in 
Brussels on 7 March, PAP reports. Jeszenszky confirmed that Hungary will 
file a formal application for EU membership in April, with an eye to 
joining the union before the end of the century. Olechowski, indicating 
that Poland will soon announce a similar decision, pressed the EU for 
joint measures to ease restrictions on Polish agricultural exports and 
modernize farming. The EU foreign ministers issued a statement proposing 
closer ties, including annual summits, with the six East European 
countries (Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and 
Slovakia) that have signed association agreements. But a first meeting of 
the "six" with EU leaders scheduled for the evening of 8 March was called 
off at the last minute because of negotiations in progress on the 
admission of Norway to the EU. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc.

HAVEL IN STRASBOURG. Addressing the European Union parliament in 
Strasbourg on 8 March, Czech President Vaclav Havel suggested that the EU 
should adopt a charter of fundamental ideas on which the EU would be 
based. The basis of such a charter would be formed by "a moral codex of 
the European citizen," Havel said. CTK reports that Havel also said that 
the EU must welcome new members from Eastern Europe or risk promoting 
instability on the continent: "Europe could fall into the hands of fools, 
fanatics, populists, and demagogues." Havel stressed that the war in 
former Yugoslavia should be a reminder to anybody who thinks Europeans can 
ignore with impunity what is going on next door. Repeating the Czech 
Republic's request for full membership in the EU, Havel set no deadline; 
he said that the integration of the former communist countries into the EU 
should be gradual. But, he warned that if they are not allowed to join 
they could fall into a vacuum where "evil demons are lying in wait." Havel 
also urged the EU to devote more attention to countries of the former 
Soviet Union other than Russia. Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc.

SLOVAK TALKS ON NEW ELECTIONS FALTER. In an effort to end the present 
political stalemate, the Party of the Democratic Left, the largest 
opposition party, began talks with the ruling Movement for a Democratic 
Slovakia on the issue of early elections, meeting late in the evening on 7 
March, TASR reported on 8 March. After five hours of failed negotiations, 
Sergej Kozlik and Milan Ftacnik, deputy chairmen of the MDS and PDL, 
respectively, said the two parties still could not agree on a date for 
early elections. Kozlik said that if no consensus is reached, his party 
will go ahead with a referendum on June elections; the MDS has already 
collected more than the 350,000 signatures needed, and the petition for a 
referendum was presented to the president on 2 March. On 8 March Ftacnik 
said he did not exclude the possibility that the PDL would support the 
current cabinet until new elections but said that his party would be 
unable to enter a coalition which includes the Slovak National Party (the 
MDS's current coalition partner) because of its chairman, Jan Slota. PDL 
Chairman Peter Weiss said the MDS's offer to give the PDL one vacant 
cabinet post was "unacceptable." Ftacnik denied rumors that Premier 
Vladimir Meciar had offered the PDL the post of president, saying that the 
offer would have been "unequivocally rejected." Kozlik, however, said this 
was a subject of "unofficial discussions" and that he "did not exclude 
this possibility." Another round of talks between the MDS and PDL is 
expected on 9 March. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc.

NEW SLOVAK AMBASSADOR IN US. On 8 March Branislav Lichardus presented his 
credentials to US Assistant Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and started 
his activities as the first Slovak ambassador to the US, TASR reports. A 
medical doctor, Lichardus worked as president of the Slovak Academy of 
Sciences following the "velvet revolution." Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. 

LAW TO SCREEN HIGH-RANKING HUNGARIAN OFFICIALS PASSED. On 8 March the 
parliament passed a long-expected law to screen high-ranking officials to 
decide if they had been secret agents or if they had participated in the 
armed suppression of the 1956 revolution, MTI reports. The law, which 
passed with 177 votes for, 12 against, and 50 abstentions, affects all 
parliamentary deputies, cabinet members, officials under oath, the 
leadership of the Hungarian National Bank, the state-owned media, the army 
and the police force, ambassadors, chief editors of newspapers and 
periodicals with a circulation over 30,000, leaders of universities, etc. 
If a person does not refrain from running for office despite negative 
findings of an impartial committee, the committee will make its findings 
public. Judith Pataki, RFE/RL, Inc. 

BEROV HOSPITALIZED, MATINCHEV STEPS IN. Early on 8 March Bulgarian Premier 
Lyuben Berov had heart failure, domestic and Western media report. During 
the day hospital officials declined to comment on how long the 68-year-old 
Berov might be away from government affairs, but in the morning of 9 March 
the government press office told BTA that his condition was "in the 
process of stabilizing." Meanwhile, Berov has signed an order allowing 
Deputy Premier Evgeni Matinchev to chair cabinet meetings in his absence. 
Matinchev is an economist and an ethnic Bulgarian, although he represents 
the mainly Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms in parliament. He is 
also Minister of Labor and Social Welfare. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc.

BULGARIAN DEFENSE MINISTER FIRES PROTESTING OFFICERS. Bulgarian dailies 
report on 8 March the sacking of several officers involved in the 
organization of a petition saying that the 13 billion leva military 
expenses envisaged in 1994 are insufficient to retain a high defense 
capability. On the previous day the Ministry of Defense and the General 
Staff jointly ordered that some organizers of the protest, including 
Rakovski Legion spokesman Capt. Vasil Danov, be relieved of their duties 
for having "grossly violated" the army's disciplinary code, while others 
would receive lighter punishments. As many as 3,200 officers signed the 
petition before the 3 March National Day celebrations. Kjell Engelbrekt, 
RFE/RL, Inc.

REACTIONS TO THE ROMANIAN CABINET CHANGES. On 8 March, the four newly 
appointed ministers for defense, interior, justice and transports were 
officially installed, during ceremonies attended by Premier Nicolae 
Vacaroiu, Radio Bucharest reported. The four--Gheorghe Tinca, Doru Ioan 
Taracila, Gabriel Iosif Chiuzbaian and Aurel Novac--stressed in separate 
interviews with Radio Bucharest their determination to continue reforms in 
their departments. Meanwhile, leading political figures from the 
opposition, including Corneliu Coposu and Petre Roman, presidents of the 
National Peasant Party Christian Democratic and the Democratic 
Party-National Salvation Front, respectively, expressed dismay over what 
they described as the lack of transparency surrounding the government 
reshuffle and accused the ruling Party of Social Democracy of failing to 
consult the opposition on the nominations. Coposu spoke of an 
"unconstitutional" move amounting to a "face-lift devoid of any 
significance, aimed at prolonging the government's agony." He further 
deplored the fact that the announcement of the changes came on 6 March, 
the very day that the first communist-dominated government came to power 
in Romania in 1945. Romanian media also criticized the move, with the 
daily Romania libera depicting the removal of Gen. Nicolae Spiroiu from 
the post of defense minister as an "irresponsible act." Dan Ionescu, 
RFE/RL, Inc.

MOLDOVA REAFFIRMS DEMAND FOR RUSSIAN TROOP WITHDRAWAL. Reacting to recent 
statements by senior Russian military and civilian officials suggesting 
that Russia seeks rights for military bases in Moldova, the Moldovan 
government's chief spokesman and the Defense Ministry ruled out this 
prospect and reaffirmed Moldova's demand for the early withdrawal of 
Russian troops, Western and Russian media reported on 4 March. President 
Mircea Snegur told Reuters on 6 March that Moldova will, in troop 
negotiations with Russia, insist on withdrawal. The troops talks, however, 
have long been deadlocked. Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. 

GAZPROM INCREASES GAS SUPPLIES TO BELARUS. The Russian gas company Gazprom 
has increased supplies of gas to Belarus by around 10 million cubic meters 
after having cut the supply by 20 million cubic meters on 3 March, 
Interfax and Belarusian television reported on 8 March. The country is now 
receiving approximately 60 million cubic meters of gas daily. Gazprom 
increased the supply of gas after Belarus made a payment of 30 billion 
rubles towards its 400 billion ruble debt and indicated its readiness to 
find a solution to compensate for the rest of its debt. Belapan reported 
that the Belarusian parliament is considering a plan which would give 
Gazprom land, pumping stations, refineries and other property from the 
state company Beltransgas worth some 1.2 billion rubles. In return 
Beltransgas would receive shares in Gazprom. It was reported that the 
Belarusian parliamentary commission on economic reform is against the 
deal, which is balanced in Russia's favor. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc.

UKRAINE'S ENERGY SITUATION. Gazprom is continuing to supply Ukraine with 
gas and is not expected to reduce the current supply level as Ukrainian 
and Russian officials prepare for talks on 10 March regarding Ukraine's 
1.5 trillion ruble ($900 million) gas debt, an RFE/RL correspondent and 
Interfax reported on 8 March. Since 3 March Gazprom reduced gas deliveries 
to Ukrainian consumers by 130 million cubic meters a day. The current 
level of supply is 40 million cubic meters daily. On 20 February 
Turkmenistan had cut gas supplies to Ukraine because of its $700 million 
debt. Turkmenistan resumed supplies a week later after Ukraine solved the 
debt problem by offering to pay 80% of it in commodities. Russia, which 
supplies 60% of Ukraine's gas, has reportedly said such a deal would not 
be acceptable and wants unconditional payment. During President Leonid 
Kravchuk's visit to the US earlier this week the gas question was raised. 
An RFE/RL correspondent reported on 7 March that while President Clinton 
understood the seriousness of Ukraine's plight, American foreign aid 
legislation did not allow for the extension of oil or gas assistance to 
countries on a credit or loan basis. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc.

BALTIC FOREIGN MINISTERS IN GERMANY. On 8 March Baltic foreign ministers 
Juri Luik (Estonia), Georgs Andrejevs (Latvia), and Povilas Gylys 
(Lithuania) flew to Bonn for a meeting with their German counterpart Klaus 
Kinkel on 9 March, BNS reports. The meeting will deal with Baltic-Russian 
relations, Russian troop withdrawal from Latvia and Estonia, Baltic 
relations with the European Union and their integration into European 
security structures. The Baltic foreign ministers will also meet with 
various German government officials and members of the Germany-Baltics 
group in the Bundestag. On 10 March Gylys will meet German Defense 
Minister Volker Ruehe and representatives of German political parties. 
Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. 

BRITISH HELP FOR TRAINING BALTIC PEACEKEEPING FORCE. British Defense 
Secretary Malcolm Rifkind announced on 8 March that his country will help 
train the soon-to-be established Baltic peacekeeping battalion, Western 
agencies reported. Rifkind stressed that "this is an important venture, 
both politically and militarily and provides a tangible demonstration of 
outward-looking Baltic cooperation." He also explained that the battalion 
would be available for UN peacekeeping duties. Both Sweden and Denmark 
have also agreed to assist in the training of the Baltic battalion. 
Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc. 

BALTIC SEA STATES ENVIRONMENTAL CONFERENCE. On 8 March environmental 
ministers from eight countries adjoining the Baltic Sea proposed creating 
a protected coastal strip outside populated areas to preserve the natural 
life of the region. Activities which would permanently harm the 
environment, such as extraction of soil and minerals, construction of 
buildings, marinas, roads and camping sites would be banned. The ministers 
met in Helsinki in the framework of the Helsinki Commission, established 
in 1980. Discussions by senior level officials are expected to continue 
until 11 March, Western agencies reported. Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc.

ESTONIAN RURAL SECTOR CONGRESS. On 4 March in Tartu the Estonian Rural 
Sector concluded a two-day congress, attended by 700 people, by adopting a 
number of resolutions calling on the government to take measures favorable 
to rural residents, BNS reported on 5 March. One resolution demanded 
exempting private farmers from the income tax on the sale of farm products 
until new regulations, taking into account the specific character of the 
agricultural sector, are passed. Another resolution suggested banning the 
sale of land to foreigners and companies set up or partly owned by foreign 
capital. It also urged that private farmers be exempted from the land tax 
for five years after the restoration of their land is registered. The 
Congress suggested that the land tax on cities, ports, and mines be raised 
to allow the rural tax reductions and that the government provide at least 
200 million kroons ($15 million) of low-interest loans for this spring's 
field work. Prime Minister Mart Laar addressed the Congress and later 
expressed disappointment with the resolutions. 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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