History is made out of the failures and heroism of each insignificant moment. - Franz Kafka
RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 56, 22 March 1994

 RUSSIA

CHERNOMYRDIN VISITS YELTSIN IN SOCHI. Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin flew early on 21 March to visit President Boris
Yeltsin, who is vacationing in Sochi. An ITAR-TASS report said
that the two would discuss economic and political matters.
Presidential spokesman Anatolii Krasikov told Radio Moscow that
the draft budget for 1994 was a topic under consideration and that
the trip had been previously planned. However, in the absence of
any previous notice and the fact that Chernomyrdin had to postpone
meetings scheduled for that day--including one with visiting IMF
Managing Director Michel Camdessus--gave rise to further rumors
about the president's political and physical health. Russian TV
showed a brief clip of Yeltsin walking and talking with
Chernomyrdin Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc.

PROSECUTOR-GENERAL TO INVESTIGATE COUP RUMORS. Acting
Prosecutor-General Aleksei Ilyushenko has started investigation of
the alleged coup against President Yeltsin, Russian television
newscasts reported on 21 March. The newscasts quoted Ilyushenko's
press center as saying that the case was initiated after Deputy
Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets had denied taking part in the
conspiracy aimed at removing the president. On 18 March, the
weekly Obshchaya gazeta reprinted an anonymous memorandum, marked
"confidential," claiming that several members of Yeltsin's
entourage--including Soskovets, Chief of Staff Mikhail Kolesnikov,
and Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov--planned to replace Yeltsin with
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. The newscasts also quoted
Ilyushenko's representatives as saying that, should the coup
rumors prove false, those who had distributed the memorandum in
question would be prosecuted for libel. Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL,
Inc.

KAZANNIK HINTS YELTSIN COMMITTED CRIME. In an interview published
in Komsomolskaya pravda on 18 March, former Russian
Prosecutor-General Aleksandr Kazannik suggested that Yeltsin might
have committed a crime when he ordered the storming of the Russian
parliament last October. Kazannik, who resigned from his post
rather than comply with requests from Yeltsin's aides to obstruct
an amnesty for the leaders of the October revolt, said the
president would have been justified in storming parliament only if
talks on the surrender of those inside had broken down. Members of
the Yeltsin team have claimed that parliamentary leaders ignored
repeated efforts to persuade them to surrender. But Kazannik said
his investigators found no evidence that any such attempts were
made.  Elizabeth Teague, RFE/RL, Inc.

DIRECT ELECTION OF PRESIDENT CALLED "DESTABILIZING." The chairman
of the State Duma's committee on legislative reform, Vladimir
Isakov, has proposed amending the law so that the Russian
president would be elected not, as at present, by universal
suffrage, but indirectly, by members of the Council of the
Federation (the upper house of parliament, whose members are
mainly provincial administrators) and other representatives of
Russia's regions, Izvestiya reported on 15 March. Isakov, who is
one of Yeltsin's sharpest parliamentary opponents, said the change
was desirable because direct election of the president could be
"destabilizing." Elizabeth Teague, RFE/RL, Inc.

TALKS WITH IMF REPORTEDLY STALLED. Negotiations between the
Russian government and the visiting IMF team over the granting of
the second tranche of the systemic transformation facility were
reported by Interfax to have stalled late on 20 March. After their
examination of the latest draft of the federal budget for 1994,
the IMF side apparently remained unconvinced that revenues would
be forthcoming at the levels projected or that planned expenditure
could be kept within the limits prescribed. Meanwhile, The
Financial Times of 21 March reported that Russian debt traded on
the international markets has fallen from 55 cents to the dollar
in December to 28 cents.  Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc.

ELECTIONS DECLARED INVALID IN SEVERAL PLACES. Low turnout and
voter apathy have caused local government elections held on 20
March to be declared invalid in several Russian cities and
regions, ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported on 21 March. In Orenburg
Oblast, only 28 of the 47 constituencies achieved the 25 percent
turnout necessary to validate the election while, in the city of
Orenburg itself, only one of the 13 constituencies made the
required turnout. Turnout was also low in Kamchatka Oblast, where
lawmakers were successfully elected in only nine of the 21
constituencies, in Chita Oblast, and in the city of Murmansk. The
majority of the successful candidates are local administrators or
directors of enterprises and farms.  Elizabeth Teague, RFE/RL,
Inc.

LOCAL ELECTIONS POSTPONED IN FAR EAST REGION. Local elections have
been put off until 23 October in Primorsky Krai, ITAR-TASS
reported on 21 March. Announcing the news, the governor of the
region, Evgenii Nazdratenko, said elections were being postponed
because there was not enough money to pay for them and that the
money would be better spent on poor people. But ITAR-TASS said
there was little doubt that the decision was connected with the
forcible ouster from office last week of the popularly elected
mayor of the regional capital, Vladivostok, who was charged with
corruption. Elizabeth Teague, RFE/RL, Inc.

CONTROVERSY OVER ELECTIONS IN ST. PETERSBURG. Officials of the St.
Petersburg electoral commission said late on 21 March that more
than 25 percent of the electorate took part in the elections to
the city's assembly, the minimum needed to validate the elections,
the Russian media reported. On 20 March, St. Petersburg Mayor
Anatolii Sobchak had extended the election by one day and went on
television to urge voters to cast ballots. On 21 March, the city
prosecutor filed a complaint against Sobchak accusing him of
overstepping his authority. A spokesman for the Central Electoral
Commission in Moscow also said that Sobchak's action "requires
legal examination." Results of the St. Petersburg vote are not yet
known.  Vera Tolz, RFE/RL, Inc.

CONSTITUTIONAL COURT REPRIMANDS FORMER CHAIRMAN. The
Constitutional Court held a brief session on 21 March to warn its
former chairman, Valerii Zorkin, to choose whether he prefers to
continue political activities or to remain a member of the Court.
Under the old Law on the Constitutional Court, judges were barred
from partisan political activities. Both the Law and the court's
activities, however, were suspended by a presidential decree, in
the aftermath of Yeltsin's victory over the rebel parliament in
October 1993. Today, the constitutional court remains largely
inactive, waiting until the State Duma adopts the new law on the
body. Last December, the court suspended Zorkin's membership
because he had criticized Yeltsin's draft of the new Russian
constitution, but a few months later the suspension was lifted.
The 21 March session was prompted by Zorkin's role in organizing a
movement called "Accord on Behalf of Russia," that attracted some
pro-communists and nationalist politicians. In an interview with
Interfax, also of 21 March, Zorkin agreed that his involvement
with the movement was indeed a political action and vowed to make
a choice between politics and the judiciary "very soon." Julia
Wishnevsky, RFE/RL, Inc.

START-2 UNDER ATTACK. With Ukraine's ratification of START-1 in
hand, the fate of the START-2 treaty is being debated. In Moscow
News no. 11 (13-20 March), three leading nuclear weapons
designers, including Chief Designer Stanislav Voronin of
Arzamas-16, argue that the treaty is destabilizing because it
gives the US an advantage in submarine- and aircraft-based nuclear
weapons. This, the authors argue, could imperil Russia's nuclear
deterrent. As a solution, they propose a further reduction to just
500 single-warhead ICBMs, thereby eliminating the US advantage.
Conversely, in the 19 March issue of Segodnya, Colonel Petr Belov
criticizes the SS-25 single-warhead ICBM that would become the
main weapon in Russia's arsenal as being unsafe, expensive, and
vulnerable. He advocates renegotiating START-2 to allow retention
of multiple-warhead missiles, or not ratifying the agreement. The
Duma does not appear to have yet set a date for discussing the
treaty, leaving plenty of time for an intense debate over its
merits.  John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc.

RUSSIA TO JOIN NATO PARTNERSHIP IN APRIL? AFP and Interfax
reported on 21 March that Moscow has postponed a visit by Foreign
Minister Andrei Kozyrev to Brussels planned for 28 March, and that
Kozyrev will instead travel to NATO headquarters sometime after
mid-April to formalize Russia's participation in the NATO
Partnership for Peace program. The confusion surrounding the
scheduling of Kozyrev's trip suggests that discussion continues in
Moscow over whether, and under what conditions, Moscow will agree
to join the program.  Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc.

RUSSO-JAPANESE TALKS ON KURIL ISLANDS. Japanese Foreign Minister
Tsutomu Hata, in Moscow on an official visit, met on 21 March with
Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and Foreign Minister
Andrei Kozyrev. In both meetings talks apparently centered on the
settlement of the Kuril Islands territorial dispute, with Russian
officials emphasizing that progress on the issue could only come
gradually. Chernomyrdin was quoted as saying that Russia would be
guided by the October 1993 Tokyo declaration, issued during a
visit to Japan by Boris Yeltsin, which called for negotiations on
the early conclusion of a Russo-Japanese peace treaty through
resolution of the territorial dispute. That statement appeared to
represent an easing in Chernomyrdin's own position; in the fall of
1993 he visited the Kuril Islands and stated that he saw no reason
for negotiating their return to Japan. Japanese sources reported
that Hata was satisfied with Russia's position on the territorial
issue.  Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc.

ON G-7 STATUS, OTHER ISSUES. Chernomyrdin and Kozyrev also
reportedly pressed Hata for support on Moscow's request to
participate in political discussions at the Group of Seven (G-7)
Summit scheduled for July in Italy and, ultimately, to gain full
membership in an expanded Group. Although Kozyrev characterized
Hata's response as positive, the Japanese Foreign Minister
appeared to deflect that request when he said that Italy, as the
summit host country, should take the lead on the issue. At the
same time, Hata expressed confidence that Russia would continue
along the path of reform, and announced a $10 million plan for the
creation of a Japanese management training center in Moscow.
According to AFP, he also said that the two sides had signed a
bilateral accord on defense and security matters, although he
provided no details. A Japanese spokesman said that Hata had
invited Chernomyrdin to visit Tokyo later this year, while
Chernomyrdin and Kozyrev had each extended invitations for a visit
by Japan's Prime Minister to visit Moscow.  Stephen Foye, RFE/RL,
Inc.

YELTSIN TO VISIT GERMANY IN MAY. President Yeltsin will make a
state visit to Germany on 11-13 May, ITAR-TASS reported on 21
March, quoting the German government press and information
department. The dates are "scheduled but not yet official." Keith
Bush, RFE/RL, Inc.

                  TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

RE-INTRODUCTION OF PRESIDENTIAL SYSTEM IN GEORGIA?. Speaking on
Radio Tbilisi on 21 March, Georgian Parliamentary Chairman Eduard
Shevardnadze called for the reintroduction of a presidential
system in Georgia, ITAR-TASS reported. He said that the country
needs a strong leadership and constructive common action between
the legislative and executive branches, and that strong
presidential power could become a guarantee for the integrity and
security of the state. Shevardnadze suggested that a referendum
could be held on the matter. Georgia introduced a presidential
system in 1991 after declaring independence, specifically to
strengthen parliament chairman Gamsakhurdia's position; the
presidency was abolished after his ouster in January 1992. Liz
Carlson, RFE/RL, Inc.

                    CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

SERB WEAPONS DISCOVERED. On 21 March international media reported
that NATO troops had discovered a cache of heavy weapons,
belonging to the Bosnian Serb side, within a 20-kilometer
exclusion zone around Sarajevo. Initial reports stated that NATO
had warned of possible air strikes if the weapons were either not
withdrawn or not turned over to the UN. However, on 22 March
Reuters reports that the incidents surrounding the weapons'
discovery were seemingly grounded in a misunderstanding, with some
resulting confusion stemming from the fact both sides have
demarcated the exclusion zone borders slightly differently. UN
officials and Bosnian Serb leaders agreed to meet on 22 March to
delineate exact borders recognized by all parties.  Stan
Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc.

CROAT, SERB OFFICIALS TO MEET. On 22 March Vecernji list reports
that Croatian officials are to meet with representatives of the
self-proclaimed Republic of Serbian Krajina, consisting of about a
third of Croatia's territory, on 22 March. Russian envoy Vitaly
Churkin is slated to be present, and ITAR-TASS observes that talks
will be held in the Russian embassy in Zagreb. Signs suggest,
however, that any resolution of outstanding differences between
the two sides may not lie in the foreseeable future. On 21 March,
Slobodan Jarcevic, foreign minister of the self-styled RSK,
adopted a seeming hard line and suggested on Belgrade Radio that
any compromises harmful to the integrity of the RSK would be
unacceptable, and that a withdrawal of Croatia's military presence
would constitute a non-negotiable demand. For its part Zagreb
regards Krajina as an integral part of Croatia. Yet according to
Reuters on 21 March, Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic has
expressed hope that additional steps towards peace in Bosnia and
Herzegovina may be made in the near future as the Serb side may
make compromises.  Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc.

POLISH-UKRAINIAN PARTNERSHIP. On 21 March Polish and Ukrainian
foreign ministers signed in Warsaw a joint declaration on "close
partnership" between their two countries. According to a report in
Gazeta Wyborcza, the main point of the declaration was an
assertion that both sides were determined to prevent "the creation
of new divisions in Europe, the resurrection of hegemonistic
tendencies, and the establishment of [new] spheres of influence."
The paper said that this assertion was "clearly" related to
current Russian foreign activities.  Jan de Weydenthal, RFE/RL,
Inc.

SLOVAK PREMIER IN PRAGUE. Jozef Moravcik, the new Slovak prime
minister, arrived in Prague on 21 March to take part in the
opening ceremonies of the European Banking Forum and to hold talks
with Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus. CTK reports that the two
politicians discussed Czech-Slovak relations, in particular
problems related to the Czech-Slovak Customs Union and the
division of former Czechoslovakia's federal property. Moravcik was
accompanied by Finance Minister Rudolf Filkus who, referring to
the recently ousted government of Vladimir Meciar, told
journalists that in Slovakia "the process of privatization has
become a means of concentrating political power" and that the new
government will try to accelerate the privatization process and
"make it more transparent." Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc.

CZECH DEPUTY PREMIER BACK FROM LATIN AMERICA. Czech Deputy Prime
Minister Jan Kalvoda returned from a 12-day tour of South and
Central America on 21 March. Kalvoda, who visited Chile, Costa
Rica, Peru and Uruguay, told journalists in Prague that he
discussed mainly economic cooperation with the leaders of the four
countries. In Chile, he participated in the inauguration
ceremonies for President Eduardo Frei. In Peru Kalvoda signed an
agreement on the protection of investments, while in Costa Rica
and Uruguay he prepared the way for signing trade agreements.
Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc.

HUNGARIAN AND SLOVAK DEFENSE MINISTERS MEET. On 21 March Hungarian
Defense Minister Lajos Fur and his Slovak counterpart Pavol Kanis
met in Budapest to discuss questions relating to Central European
security and bilateral military cooperation, MTI reports. At a
joint press conference following the talks Kanis stressed that his
visit was the first foreign visit by a member of the new Slovak
cabinet which signified the importance Slovakia attached to
developing good relations with Hungary. Fur praised as very
encouraging the foreign policy steps undertaken by the new Slovak
government. He pointed out that relations between the two defense
ministries have been good, and expressed the hope that political
relations will also improve. Hungarian-Slovak relations have been
strained by disputes over the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros hydro-electric
dam project and Slovakia's treatment of its ethnic Hungarian
minority.  Edith Oltay, RFE/RL, Inc.

ILIESCU MEETS MEDIA REPRESENTATIVES. On 21 March Romania's
President Ion Iliescu met with directors and editors-in-chief of
the country's main newspapers. The meeting was also attended by
the general directors of the state radio and television societies
and the national news agency Rompres. In a speech broadcast by
Radio Bucharest, Iliescu said that he was interested in the
quality of the political analysis provided by the media. He added
that he would prefer journalists to criticize him directly instead
of "cursing [him] in the nooks." Iliescu is known for his tense
relationship with some independent media, including Romania's top
selling Evenimentul zilei. Recently, the presidential office
accused that daily of having illegally tapped telephone calls from
well-wishers congratulating Iliescu on his birthday.  Dan Ionescu,
RFE/RL, Inc.

TRANSYLVANIA PARTIES CONFIDENT IN THEIR VOTERS. Leaders of two
major parties in Transylvania rejected a recent statement made in
Cluj by the executive president of the ruling Party of Social
Democracy in Romania, Adrian Nastase, on prospects to win over
Transylvanian voters through a new approach to inter-ethnic
issues. Bela Marko, president of the Hungarian Democratic
Federation of Romania, told an RFE/RL correspondent in Bucharest
that he doubted his party could be replaced as the internationally
recognized representative of the Magyar minority in Romania. He
also said that the PSDR should begin its inter-ethnic dialogue by
ridding the governing coalition of nationalist parties. In a
separate statement, Ioan Gavra, deputy chairman of the Party of
Romanian National Unity, said that Transylvania has been his
party's political stronghold for four years and that the PSDR will
not be able to change that.  Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL, Inc.

EU EXTENDS $125 MILLION LOAN TO BULGARIA. On 21 March the finance
and economic ministers of the European Union approved a $125
million (110 million Ecu) loan to Bulgaria, Western agencies
report. Greek Economics Minister Yannos Papantoniou told
journalists in Brussels that the EU will consider releasing
another $57 million (50 million Ecu) later this year, but that, in
the meantime, other members of the Group of 24 economically
developed nations are expected to provide Bulgaria with $159
million (140 million Ecu) to help pay for the country's imports.
The International Monetary Fund has asked Western states to offer
a total of $342 million (300 million Ecu) to support Bulgaria's
balance of payments account during 1994, and in Sofia Finance
Minister Stoyan Aleksandrov and Bulgarian National Bank Governor
Todor Valchev admitted that they had hoped the entire sum would be
released at once. It is not yet clear whether the EU loan is
enough to persuade the IMF to offer new standby loans and help
finance Bulgaria's pending settlement on its $9.3 billion foreign
debt. Referring both to the rapid devaluation of the Bulgarian
currency in recent weeks and commitments to the country's
creditors, Deputy Finance Minister Dimitar Kostov told Financial
Times of 21 March that without a swift decision on economic aid
from the G-24 "everything will fall apart." Kjell Engelbrekt,
RFE/RL, Inc.

KIEV CHALLENGED BY DONBAS LANGUAGE POLLS. A second oblast in
Ukraine's Russified south-east has decided to a conduct a poll
during the parliamentary elections on 27 March on whether the
region's residents want Russian to be a state language alongside
Ukrainian and Ukraine to integrate more closely in the CIS. The
RFE/RL Research Institute has been informed that the Luhansk
Oblast Council took the decision on 17 March. The Donetsk Oblast
Council had decided on 22 February to hold a similar poll with an
additional question on whether voters think Ukraine should become
a federation. ITAR-TASS reported on 21 March that the Ukrainian
Procurator General's office has protested to the Donbas Oblast
Council about its plan to hold the regional referendum and
suggested that the Luhansk Oblast Council knew about this when it
made its decision. Kiev's authority is also being challenged on 27
March by the consultative referendum on Crimea's future status
which Crimean President Yurii Meshkov appears determined to hold
despite a ban announced by President Leonid Kravchuk.  Bohdan
Nahaylo, RFE/RL, Inc.

UKRAINE: MORE WARHEADS TRANSFERRED. During the visit of US Defense
Secretary William Perry to Kiev on 21 March, Ukrainian officials
confirmed that a second shipment of 60 nuclear warheads has been
sent to Russia. Vice Premier Valerii Shmarov noted, however, that
Ukraine has not yet received any nuclear reactor fuel in exchange
for the warheads and warned that further shipments could be
conditional on fuel deliveries, according to UKRINFORM/TASS and
Interfax. Shmarov also reportedly complained that the US has not
yet paid Russia $60 million for the fuel, as required under the
trilateral agreement. According to the Washington Post, US
officials attempted to downplay the issue, claiming that the
Russians insist there are no problems implementing the agreement.
John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc.

US TO STOP TARGETING UKRAINE. UKRINFORM/TASS reported on 21 March
that Ukraine and the US have also signed an agreement under which
the US will no longer target its missiles on Ukraine. The
agreement is analogous to those signed between the US and Russia
and the UK and Russia. Presumably, however, Ukraine has not agreed
to "detarget" its missiles, since control over the targeting of
missiles in Ukraine still appears to rest with Moscow. Perry
termed US-Ukrainian relations strategically important and signed
agreements giving Ukraine an additional $100 million in
disarmament aid. John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc.

RUSSIA WARNS UKRAINE OVER GAS. Interfax reported on 22 March that
the Russian Gazprom has warned Ukraine that it will stop supplying
natural gas from 1 April if Kiev has not made the agreed upon debt
payments by that date. So far Ukraine has paid Gazprom $59 million
of its arrears. On 10 March Russia and Ukraine agreed that Gazprom
would receive shares in the Ukrainian enterprise Ukrhazprom, and
$100 million of Ukraine's $900 million debt would be paid by 1
April. Gazprom officials say Ukraine has still not made a list of
enterprises where Gazprom would have an interest or determined the
size of the Gazprom's shares in them. At the same time,
allegations are continuing that Ukraine is still siphoning off
some of the Russian gas pipelined to Western Europe.  Ustina
Markus, RFE/RL, Inc.

BELARUSIAN PARTIES NOMINATE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES. The race for
the first presidential election in Belarus has begun. Under
Belarus's new law a candidate for presidency may be officially
registered if he collects at least 100,000 signatures of the
republic's citizens within 15 days, or 70 signatures from
parliament's deputies. According to Interfax from 22 March, the
Belarusian Socialist Party and the Association of Democratic
parties have decided to nominate the former chairman of the
Supreme Soviet, Stanislau Shushkevich as their candidate.
Shushkevich intends to tour the republic to collect signatures for
his nomination. The Belarusian Communist Party has reportedly
decided to nominate Vasil Navikou.  Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc.

YELTSIN'S ENVOY IN MOLDOVA REVEALS CARDS. Senior Russian diplomat
Vladlen Vasev, Yeltsin's special mediator in the Moldova conflict,
told Info-Tag in Chisinau on 21 March at the end of a first round
of talks that "Russia has geostrategic interests in Moldova and
also means to defend the Russian-speaking population." This is the
first public claim of this kind by a senior Russian official and
it seems to presage or accompany more direct demands for bases
than has hitherto been the case. The reference to
"Russian-speakers" ignores Moldova's rejection of that concept,
which would extend Russian protection to 35% of Moldova's
population ("Russian-speakers") instead of 13% (ethnic Russians)
and would again deprive Ukrainians (Moldova's largest minority at
14%), Gagauz, and Bulgarians of their own identity. The claim to
"defend" these groups ignores the positive international rating of
Moldova's performance on human and ethnic rights. Vasev added that
his proposals for settling the Dniester conflict will "in large
measure correspond with those of the CSCE"--a retreat from his
initial pledge to "take the CSCE plan as the basis" for his
proposals.  Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc.

ESTONIAN NEWSPAPER EDITOR DISMISSED. On 21 March the board of the
Rahva Haal (People's Voice), the only Estonian language nationwide
newspaper supported by the government, voted 4 to 1 with 2
abstentions to dismiss Toomas Leito as editor in chief and replace
him with Olev Remsu as editor in charge of publishing from 23
March, BNS reports. More than half of the newspaper's 80 employees
signed letters of resignation and took over the paper's publishing
as the joint stock company, RH Lrd., one of three companies that
had bid for its privatization in 1993 that had ended in a tangle
of legal disputes. They denounced the government for "pursuing an
unambiguously party-biased policy, disguised as protecting the
interests of the state," asserting that it was aimed at confining
the liberties of the free press.  Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc.

RUSSIAN BALTIC SEA FLEET COMMANDER IN LITHUANIA. Admiral Vladimir
Egorov traveled to Vilnius on 22 March to discuss matters relating
to the arrest on 17 March of Vladas Laurinavicius, president of
the Selma Association which is building apartments in Kaliningrad
for Russian troops, Radio Lithuania reports. Egorov will meet with
Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius, Prosecutor General Arturas
Petrauskas, Defense Minister Linas Linkevicius, and other
officials. The charges against Laurinavicius involve financial
violations in the purchase of weapons for the Lithuanian defense
forces in 1992-1993. About 50 apartments, including that of former
Defense Minister Audrius Butkevicius, were searched for evidence.
Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, who had planned to sign a
new construction contract with Laurinavicius on 19 March in
Kaliningrad, said on 18 March that the arrest had probably been
made by lower rank officers to prevent their meeting.  Saulius
Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc.

ALBANIAN JOURNALIST HEADS TO JAIL. Koha Jone on 22 March says that
its editor-in-chief, Aleksander Frangaj, was sentenced to five
months in jail yesterday. The appeals court upheld an 18-month
sentence against Koha Jone journalist Martin Leka. Frangaj had
originally been freed by a lower court but he is currently outside
Albania and it is not likely he will return. Both men were
implicated in penal code and press law violations after Koha Jone
published what were determined as state secrets. In other
developments, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 20 March that Deputy
Prime Minister Bashkim Kopliku met with his Macedonian counterpart
Jovan Andonov. Talks focused on Albania's offer to allow Macedonia
to use the Adriatic port of Durres as an alternative to the Greek
port of Salonika.  Robert Austin, RFE/RL, Inc.

MUSLIMS MEET MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT. Members of the ethnic Muslim
Party of Democratic Action (SDA) in Montenegro met with President
Momir Bulatovic, Vecernje novosti reported on 11 March. The party
representatives expressed anxiety because of the arrests of SDA
members since January for alleged preparation of an armed
uprising, whereas Bulatovic reassured them that those arrests
concerned only "isolated groups of extremists in the ranks of the
citizens of Muslim nationality." Interior Minister Nikola
Pejakovic said that "peace guarantees the independence and
security of all citizens independent of belief and nationality."
Elsewhere, the president of the chief Sandzak Islamic Council,
Muamer Efendi Zokorlic, stressed that Ramadan passed by without
"any excesses from the side of the communities of Islamic faith in
Sandzak," adding that the existence of a single Islamic Council
for both the Montenegrin and Serbian halves of the Sandzak does
not endanger Montenegro or its possible independence, Borba
reported on 12 March.  Fabian Schmidt, RFE/RL, Inc.

[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Keith Bush and Stan Markotich
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