|What you can become, you are already. - Friedrich Hebbel|
No. 55, 21 March 1994
RUSSIA CHERNOMYRDIN, KOKOSHIN ON NATO PARTNERSHIP. Following talks in Moscow with US Defense Secretary William Perry on 18 March, Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said that Russia was prepared to join the NATO Partnership for Peace Program without demanding any special conditions or status, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. Interfax also claimed that Boris Yeltsin had already issued the instructions that would send Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev to Brussels to formalize Russias decision. On the same day, however, Interfax quoted Russian First Deputy Defense Minister Andrei Kokoshin as saying that it was still too early to speak of finalizing Russias participation, and that the NATO partnership should be viewed only as an element in a broader relationship between Russia and the West that would have to take into account Russias CIS security commitments. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. DISCORDANT NOTE FROM THE FOREIGN MINISTRY? An article in Nezavisimaya gazeta on 19 March suggested hesitation in the Foreign Ministry as well on the issue of joining the partnership. It quoted Yurii Ushakov, director of the department overseeing cooperation with Europe, as saying that, in fact, special conditions that reflect Russias status as a nuclear power will have to be created for Moscow before it accedes to participation in the NATO program. Foreign Ministry officials also reportedly cast some doubt on recent statements by Defense Minister Pavel Grachev to the effect that Russia would sign on to the partnership at the end of March, indicating that the signing might not come until later; they suggested that the issue had to be studied further and that it still had not been decided whether to send Grachev or Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev to Brussels for the ceremony. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. CHEMICAL WEAPONS EXCEEDED ESTIMATES. According to Aleksei Yablokov, the head of the Russian Security Councils Commission on Ecological Security, the Soviet Union produced approximately 400,000 tons of chemical weapons (CW) during the period of its existence. The Interfax report of 17 March also cites one of the commissions consultants, Valeriy Menshikov, as stating that the Russian CW stockpile exceeded the amount declared during negotiations over the chemical weapons convention and that chemical weapons were secretly destroyed in the summer and fall of 1993, leaving approximately 40,000 tons. Many Western experts believed that Russia was underestimating its CW stockpile and this appears to confirm those suspicions. How and where secret destruction could have been carried out is unclear--the main plant for destroying CW has never been operated because of environmental concerns. John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc. LOW TURNOUT AT REGIONAL ELECTIONS. Turnout was low at elections on 20 March to regional and local legislatures in fifteen regions across the Russian Federation, including the city of St. Petersburg and the Belgorod, Vologda, Kamchatka and Leningrad oblasts, the Russian media reported. St. Petersburg mayor Anatolii Sobchak ordered the deadline for the elections to the 50-seat city assembly to be extended by another day because the required level of 25 percent turnout had not been attained, ITAR-TASS reported. In other areas turnout reportedly ranged from 6 to 50 percent. Earlier this year, members of the presidential apparatus warned of a possible low turnout and called for the postponement of the regional and local elections until the summer or the fall. Vera Tolz, RFE/RL, Inc. DENIALS ON YELTSINS HEALTH AND COUP RUMORS. The head of the presidential administration, Sergei Filatov, denied rumors that President Boris Yeltsin was sick. Filatov told Ostankino TVs Novosti on 19 March that the rumors are spread by the opposition in order to destabilize the country. He said that the president was working during his vacations in Sochi and that the presidential administration was receiving instructions from him on a daily basis. Yeltsins political advisor, Georgii Satarov, told Russian TVs Podrobnosti on 18 March that rumors of a coup in the Kremlin or of Yeltsins sickness might have been spread by a respectable political figure of the present political elite who has no chance to become president in democratic elections but who could gain power by different means. Satarov declined to elaborate. Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, Inc. LUZHKOV NOT TO RUN FOR PRESIDENCY. Moscow mayor Yurii Luzhkov told ITAR-TASS on 15 March that he does not intend to run for the Russian presidency, even if Im nominated. According to recent surveys, Luzhkov is considered Russias third most powerful politician after President Boris Yeltsin and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. But Luzhkov, who sympathizes with the Russian Movement of Democratic Reform led by former Moscow mayor Gavriil Popov, said that he regards the improvement of the lives of Moscow citizens as his main duty. Izvestiya on 15 March named six politicians as the most likely candidates for the presidency. They are: Yeltsin, Chernomyrdin, Luzhkov, former Vice-President Aleksandr Rutskoi and the speakers of the upper and lower chamber of the parliament, Vladimir Shumeiko and Ivan Rybkin. Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, Inc. ZHIRINOVSKY ON PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. The leader of the nationalist Liberal-Democratic Party, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, told a congress of his party that the Russian people now primarily support the idea of the resurrection of the Russian empire, Russian TV Vesti reported on 19 March. Zhirinovsky also called upon his party to start preparations for presidential elections which could take place any moment. He stated that the democrats do not have a suitable candidate and that the youth will not vote for the communists. He added that former Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi has forged a coalition with Economics Minister Aleksandr Shokhin but that this coalition is also doomed to fail at the next presidential elections. Finally, he said that he believes new anti-constitutional actions will take place soon. Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, Inc. REGIONAL COURT OVERRULES DECISION INVALIDATING ZHIRINOVSKY ELECTION. The Moscow Oblast court has overruled an earlier decision of the Shchelkovo city court which in February proclaimed invalid the election of Vladimir Zhirinovsky to the State Duma in the 114 Shchelkovo single-candidate electoral district, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 February. The Shchelkovo city court invalidated the election results after confirming the falsification of a number of electoral protocols in the 114 electoral district. In overruling this decision, the Moscow Oblast court stated that the decision was inconsistent and surpassed the courts competency. Only the Central Electoral Commission is empowered to annul Zhirinovskys election, the Moscow Oblast court stated. Vera Tolz, RFE/RL, Inc. CRIMINAL CASE AGAINST OUSTED MAYOR OF VLADIVOSTOK SUSPENDED. The office of the Russian Prosecutor General has suspended a criminal case against the former mayor of Vladivostok, Viktor Cherepkov, Russian Televisions Vesti reported on 19 March. The case had been initiated by the prosecutors office of Primorski Krai. The Office of the Prosecutor General has sent an investigator from Moscow, Konstantin Mavrin, to look into the case. According to Vesti, a delegation of deputies from the State Duma has also gone to Vladivostok. On 17 March, the police forcefully removed Cherepkov from office after he had been accused of bribe-taking. The removal of Cherepkov was organized by the administration of the region, with which Cherepkov had had a long standing conflict. The forceful removal of the Vladivostok mayor provoked protests on the part of the citys residents. (See RFE/RL Daily Report of 18 March.) Vera Tolz, RFE/RL, Inc. CONCERN OVER NUCLEAR SAFETY. An official of the nuclear energy and nuclear industry unions told Interfax on 18 March of the alarming situation at nuclear power stations arising from the arrears in payments by energy consumers. He claimed that the stations were unable to buy nuclear fuel and chemicals and could not carry out routine maintenance and repair work. In Ukraine, President Leonid Kravchuk is reported by environmental activists to have signed a decree on 23 February to restart the number two reactor at Chernobyl in 1995, The Financial Times reported on 19 March. This reactor was closed after a devastating fire in 1991 and is widely regarded as unsafe. Ukrainian officials refused to confirm or deny the existence of the 23 February decree. Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc. WARNING OF DIPHTHERIA OUTBREAK. The deputy head of the State Epidemiological Inspectorate has called for a massive vaccination program against diptheria, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported on 18 March. A total of 468 deaths from the disease were reported in 1993, while 50 more died in January 1994. Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA EXPLOSION IN BAKU SUBWAY. On 19 March, an explosion occurred in a crowded carriage of the Baku subway, Azeri, Russian, and Western agencies reported. The latest count gave 12 persons killed and 53 injured. The subway was put out of action. The Azeri Interior Ministry stated that the explosion was caused by a bomb with a timing mechanism. In 1993, about 20 people were killed when a bomb exploded on a train at the border with Dagestan, and about 30 were killed in February by an explosion on board a railway train in Baku. Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc. IRANIAN TRANSPORT CRASHES NEAR STEPANAKERT. An Iranian C-130 transport aircraft crashed on the outskirts of the Nagorno-Karabakh capital of Stepanakert on the evening of 17 March, Russian and Western agencies reported. The plane was carrying family members of the Iranian Embassy in Moscow to Teheran. All 19 passengers and 13 crew members were killed. According to some accounts, the pilot had reported engine trouble and/or loss of pressure before the crash and the aircraft was said to be well off course. Both Azeri and Armenian spokespersons have accused the other side of shooting down the Iranian aircraft. A Karabakh commission has been assigned to investigate the crash. Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc. PERRY IN KAZAKHSTAN. During his visit to Kazakhstan on 19-20 March, US Secretary of Defense William Perry signed an agreement with the Kazakhstani government providing for $15 million in aid for defense industry conversion. Perry also noted that negotiations are continuing over an accord, to be signed by the US, the UK, Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus, that would provide for the mutual recognition of sovereignty and prohibit the use of force to resolve disputes between the states. Such an accord has been requested by Ukraine and Kazakhstan to bolster their security as they give up their nuclear weapons. Perry also visited the Baikonur launch site, and discussed US-Kazakhstani-Russian space cooperation. Perrys visit was reported by AFP and other press agencies. John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc. ASSURANCES ON NUCLEAR WEAPONS IN KAZAKHSTAN. Perry received assurances from President Nazarbaev that all of the SS-18 ICBMs in Kazkahstan will be shipped to Russia for dismantling. So far, 12 missiles have been sent to Russia, as have all the strategic bombers in Kazakhstan. It does not appear, however, that the warheads from the missiles have been transferred. According to Nazarbaev, Kazakhstan and Russia may reach an agreement concerning compensation for the highly enriched uranium contained in the warheads within the next month. Such an agreement would open the way for the transfer of the warheads. John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc. CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE CROATS, MUSLIMS INK ACCORD . . . On 18 March the international media reported that representatives from Croatia and Bosnia signed a set of accords in Washington designed to create a federation within Bosnia and Herzegovina, and to link the federation into a confederation with Croatia. Bosnian Premier Haris Silajdzic and Bosnian Croat representative Kresimir Zubac signed the accord dealing with the federation, while Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic and Croatian President Franjo Tudjman signed to endorse the confederation with Croatia. International reaction to the accords has been supportive, with US President Bill Clinton remarking that the signing represented a moment of hope. AFP reports that British Prime Minister John Major, who arrived in Sarajevo on 18 March, called the agreements a step in the direction towards a real peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Moreover, Reuters on 19 March reported that a prisoner exchange, involving some 800 prisoners of war, took place between the Bosnian Muslim and Croat sides following the signing of the agreements. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. . . . BUT SERB SIDE TO STAY OUT IN THE COLD? International media reports suggest that the Bosnian Serb side, which is not included in the recent accords reached between the Muslim and Croat sides, may be angling to stay aloof from the current peace initiatives. On 19 March Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, speaking over Belgrade Radio, stated that the lifting of the UN sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia would be an absolutely necessary precondition for the Serb side to make peace in Bosnia. Also, on 18 March, Momcilo Krajisnik, leader of the Bosnian Serb parliament, was cited by Radio Jagodina as saying that the accords reached between the Muslim and Croat sides were unnatural, and predicted that they would soon fall apart. For his part, Croatian President Tudjman, during a 19 March interview with Croatian TV, said that the Bosnian Serbs have little or no desire to live in Croat or Muslim communities, and thus it remains only remotely possible that the Serb side will opt to join a federation agreement. Meanwhile, on 20 March, Reuters reports that Tudjman has once again reiterated the demand that Krajina, currently held by rebel Serbs, be returned to Croatia before a comprehensive deal can be reached between Croatia and the Serb side. Tudjman reportedly feels that his recent involvement in the Croat-Muslim accords may win him international support and sympathy for the reintegration of Krajina. Tudjman has noted that the Bosnian Serbs, whom he believes are likely to eventually form a confederation with Serbia, will have to compensate for such an eventuality by giving up control over such territories as Krajina. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. RELIEF CONVOYS IN MAGLAJ. On 21 March international media continue to report on the entry of relief convoys into the Serb-besieged town of Maglaj. On 20 March relief supplies, the first to enter the city in about five months, arrived. Reuters reports that a second relief convoy is expected to arrive on 21 March. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. END OF STRIKES IN SIGHT? Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak met separately on Friday with leaders of four labor unions to resolve the industrial conflict instigated by Solidarity. Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 20 March that Pawlak said afterward that the such conflicts should be dealt with by a commission set up by the government, the unions, and representatives of the employers. Solidarity leader Marian Krzaklewski told the press that the unions experts and government officials would meet this week to propose changes in the legislation to satisfy the unions demands. Krzaklewski said that the union would end strikes if the talks with the government produce acceptable results. Jan de Weydenthal, RFE/RL, Inc. UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN POLAND. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Anatolii Zlenko arrived in Warsaw on 21 March for talks with President Lech Walesa and other Polish government leaders on economic and cultural cooperation, PAP reported. Polish Foreign Minister Andrzej Olechowski has recently announced in a Sejm speech that Ukraines independence had a strategic importance for Poland and that the Warsaw government would do its utmost to support Ukrainian interests in international forums. Jan de Weydenthal, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAK PARLIAMENT ON PRIVATIZATION, TELEVISION. In its 18 March session, the Slovak parliament again voted to break ties between the cabinet and the National Property Fund, thus giving the parliament control over the privatization process. The vote was 77 in favor and 6 against, with 35 abstentions. The parliament had already approved the law on 17 February, before the removal of the government of Premier Vladimir Meciar. (Meciar had wanted cabinet members to sit on the Presidium and supervisory board of the NPF.) After the vote, new Privatization Minister Milan Janicina said that according to a preliminary audit of privatization projects approved by Meciars cabinet in mid-February, there were 13 cases in which the law was clearly violated, including the sale of the Piestany spa. Janicina asked Finance Minister Rudolf Filkus to temporarily freeze the NPFs account, while deputy chairman of the parliaments privatization committee, Jan Plesnik, asked the Supreme Supervisory Office to conduct an investigation of the former cabinets actions. Also on 18 March, the parliament rejected the candidate who was proposed by the Board for Radio and Television Broadcasting to undertake the partial privatization of the second national television station (STV 2). Creative Television (CTV), which is partly owned by the German Commerzbank and Reuters, had been chosen by the board on 29 December from a field of twelve candidates, which included CNN. The vote was 34 against and 31 in favor, with 47 abstentions, TASR reported. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. HUNGARY MARKS ANNIVERSARY OF NAZI INVASION. On 18 March the Hungarian government issued a statement that paid tribute to the hundreds of thousands who died innocently, following the German invasion of Hungary on 19 March 1944. The government condemned the coldly calculated and highly organized extermination of Jews as a holocaust that can never be forgotten. It pledged to take steps against all phenomena based on extremist ideas, which contradict the principles of the constitution and could poison the atmosphere in the country and revive old fears. There has been an increase recently in the number of physical and verbal attacks against Jews in Hungary by skinheads and members of extremist parties. Edith Oltay, RFE/RL, Inc. JOURNALIST GROUP BLASTS HUNGARY FOR SACKING RADIO EMPLOYEES. On 18 March the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) accused the Hungarian government of involvement in the sacking of 129 radio employees, MTI and Western news agencies report. IFJ, which groups 300,000 journalists from 90 countries, sent a mission to Hungary after the dismissals stirred up political furor in the run-up to the national elections. The Hungarian government denied that it played any role in the dismissals, and deputy radio chairman Laszlo Csucs said that budgetary restraints triggered the dismissals. The head of the IFJ mission Gustl Glattfelder told a news conference that he was convinced that there were political reasons behind the sackings. He pointed out that most of the dismissed journalists were critical of the government, and that those dismissed were suspended from their duties immediately while still technically employed until April. Glattfelder called for the reinstatement of those dismissed who were under the age of retirement and for a code of practice to be drawn up for Hungarian radio coverage of the election campaign. He also recommended that parliament set up an independent inquiry commission to study the radios economic problems and that the new parliament give priority to passing a media law. Edith Oltay, RFE/RL, Inc. ILIESCU SHIELDS NEW DEFENSE MINISTER. On 18 March Romanias Presidency rejected a call from the opposition for a probe into reports that the newly-appointed defense minister, Gheorghe Tinca, had had ties with the former political police, Securitate. Traian Chebeleu, a spokesman for Ion Iliescu, was quoted by Reuters as saying that Tinca served only in the foreign ministry, he did not work for any other service. Chebeleu also said that the ministers nomination was constitutional and did not need to be vetted by parliament. According to reports in the Romanian media, Tinca, who was a career diplomat under late communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, had closely cooperated with the Securitate. Leading figures in the democratic opposition urged last week that the charges be thoroughly investigated. Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL, Inc. BULGARIAN LEV FALLS TO RECORD LOW. Dailies report on 21 March that the Bulgarian National Bank has now set the exchange rate for the domestic currency to 49.146 against one US dollar. The new rate is 15 leva below that of 1 January, the currency having dropped 5 leva during the past two weeks. The steep fall has served to intensify the debate on the progress of economic reforms, with both politicians and economic analysts assuming various positions. Whereas some financial commentators accused the BNB of mainly pursuing short-term financial goals, others said that the causes for the currency crisis are more deep-rooted. In an interview with Bulgarian radio on 20 March, Deputy Premier and Trade Minister Valentin Karabashev seemed to accept part of the blame, saying that the government indeed has been slow in privatizing large-scale enterprises. Finance Minister Stoyan Aleksandrov, meanwhile, said that the BNB is still in control of the situation. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc. ZHELEV PREDICTS AUTUMN ELECTIONS. In an interview with Bulgarian TV on 18 March, President Zhelyu Zhelev said he believed new parliamentary elections should be held during autumn 1994, and in any case no later than November. Zhelev said the Bulgarian people want radical change, and this change they associate with elections. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc. UKRAINIAN NAVY ACCUSES BLACK SEA FLEET OF UNAUTHORIZED MOVES. A senior spokesman for the Ukrainian naval command described yet another provocative incident regarding the Black Sea Fleet, Interfax reported on 18 March. On 17 March the Black Sea Fleet command put twenty-five warships, two submarines and five auxiliary ships to sea for training purposes without informing the Ukrainian defense ministry. This violates Ukrainian law which requires that the Black Sea Fleet command inform the Ukrainian defense ministry of any fleet movements. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. MORE CRIMEAN NEWS. Ukrainian Radio and Interfax reported on 19 March that Ukraine had reduced Crimeas electricity supply by a third. According to Mykhailo Pobehailo, deputy head of Ukraines power grid, Crimeas energy debt amounts to some 300 billion karbovantsy ($8 million) making it the countrys largest defaulter. The director of the Sevastopol department of Krymenergo, Volodymyr Pechnikov, said the city was brought to a standstill on 18 March as a result of the power cut. Pechnikov said Sevastopols debts to power producers exceeded 40 billion karbovantsy. He added that the Black Sea Fleet was the biggest chronic debtor in Crimea. On 20 March Ostankino reported that Ukraines president, Leonid Kravchuk, said the electricity cut-off was not politically motivated. He also reiterated his rejection of the upcoming referendum on Crimeas status. According to Kravchuk, there are more pressing issues than Crimeas status and the 27 March referendum amounts to only an opinion survey which would have no legally binding force. Kravchuk had ordered the cancellation of the referendum, but Crimean president, Yurii Meshkov, has pledged to go ahead with the poll. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. PERRY IN UKRAINE. US Secretary of Defense William Perry arrived in Kiev on 20 March and on 21 March signed an agreement providing an additional $100 million in Nunn-Lugar disarmament aid to Ukraine, Reuter's reported. Of this amount $50 million will be provided for the environmentally sound destruction of ICBM silos. (The destruction of missile silos has been resisted by Ukraine because of fear of environmental damage, despite its being required by the START-1 treaty.) In addition, $40 million will be allocated to assist defense industry conversion and $10 million will be provided for equipment to monitor the fissile materials in the warheads. This new aid package comes in addition to $135 million already allocated to Ukraine. Perry is expected to tour the Pervomaisk ICBM site during his three-day stay in Ukraine. John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIAN MEDIATION IN MOLDOVA. Senior Russian diplomat Vladlen Vasev, Yeltsins special envoy to mediate the conflict in Moldova, arrived in Moldova on 17 March and has since conferred with President Mircea Snegur in Chisinau and with Dniester leader Igor Smirnov in Tiraspol. Vasev says that he is submitting ideas for a settlement based on Moldovas territorial integrity but granting substantial autonomy to Transdniester, Moldovan media report. Moscow has in the past implied that it would interpret Moldovas division into two federated republics as consistent with the countrys territorial integrity. In recent messages to Snegur and Smirnov, Yeltsin proposed taking the CSCEs settlement plan--which Moldova has accepted--as a basis for the Russian-mediated talks. Chisinau is concerned that Dniester intransigence, encouraged by Russias military presence, may by used by Moscow as a pretext for departing substantially from the CSCEs plan. Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. LITHUANIA, POLAND INITIAL FRIENDSHIP AGREEMENT. On 18 March Lithuanian and Polish Foreign Ministers Povilas Gylys and Andrzej Olechowski initialed a friendship and cooperation agreement in Warsaw that had been negotiated for more than two years, Radio Lithuania reports. The major issue that had blocked its signing, Lithuanias demand that the agreement condemn Polands occupation of Vilnius in 1920, was resolved by not mentioning any past events and stressing future good relations. It is expected that Polish President Lech Walesa will visit Vilnius probably in April and sign the agreement with his Lithuanian counterpart, Algirdas Brazauskas, who had issued a formal invitation to Walesa in a telephone talk on 15 March. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. LITHUANIA TO TIE LITAS TO HARD CURRENCY. On 17 March the Seimas, by a vote of 62 to 37 with 3 abstentions, passed a law requiring the government to choose a specific hard currency to which the litas would be tied at a fixed exchange rate from 1 April, the RFE/RL Lithuanian Service reports. The measure, backed by Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius, received approval only from Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party faction deputies, but Economics Minister Julius Veselka and Foreign Minister Povilas Gylys voted against it. Veselka said that he would resign as minister if President Algirdas Brazauskas signs the law. Bank of Lithuania chairman Kazys Ratkevicius opposed the law arguing that the bank would no longer be able to issue credits to commercial banks or the government since the amount of Lithuanian currency would be strictly determined by the banks hard currency reserves. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. LATVIAN PRESIDENT VISITS ITALY, VATICAN. On 18 March Guntis Ulmanis returned to Riga from a three-day visit to Italy, Diena reports. On 16 April he held talks with his Italian counterpart Oscar Luigi Scalfaro in which he stressed Latvias desire to integrate more fully into Europe and discussed the withdrawal of Russian troops from Latvia. Foreign Ministers Georgs Andrejevs and Beniamino Andreatta signed an agreement on economic, technical, and scientific cooperation. On 17March Ulmanis had a forty minute audience with Pope John Paul II that primarily focused on the troop withdrawal issue. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. LATVIAN DISSATISFACTION WITH RUSSIA TREATY. Although the 14 March initialing of the agreement calling for Russian troop withdrawal from Latvia was praised by the CSCE, US, and Estonia, Latvias more radical right-wing groups criticized the agreement as betraying the Latvian people, BNS reports. On 17 March the Fatherland and Freedom and National Independence Movement factions organized a protest picket at the Saeima, attended by 300 people. Twenty-two parliamentary deputies sent a letter to President Guntis Ulmanis urging him not to sign the withdrawal agreement and proposing that a public opinion poll be held on 29 May together with the local elections to allow the people to express their opinion on the continued maintenance of the Skrunda radar base. The agreement text was published in Latvijas Vestnesis on 18 March. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Keith Bush and Stan Markotich The RFE/RL Daily Report is produced by the RFE/RL Research Institute (a division of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Inc.) with the assistance of the RFE/RL News and Current Affairs Division (NCA). The report is available by electronic mail by subscribing to RFERL-L at LISTSERV@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU, on the Sovset' computer bulletin board, by fax, and by postal mail. Requests for permission to reprint or retransmit this material should be addressed to PD@RFERL.ORG. Such requests will generally be granted on the condition that the material is clearly attributed to the RFE/RL Daily Report. For inquiries about specific news items, subscriptions, or additional copies, please contact: In North America: Mr. Brian Reed RFE/RL, Inc. 1201 Connecticut Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20036 Telephone: (202) 457-6912 or -6907 Fax: (202) 457-6992 or 828-8783 Internet: RI-DC@RFERL.ORG Elsewhere: Ms. Helga Hofer Publications Department RFE/RL Research Institute Oettingenstrasse 67 80538 Munich Germany Telephone: (+49 89) 2102-2631 or -2624 Fax: (+49 89) 2102-2648 Internet: PD@RFERL.ORG Copyright 1994, RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved.
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