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RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 57, 23 March 1994


announced in Moscow that the International Monetary Fund and the
government had reached agreement in principle on the granting of
the second tranche ($1.5 billion) of the systemic transformation
facility, Russian and Western agencies reported. The agreement has
now to be approved by the IMF's board of directors, and some
unspecified conditions are attached--including, presumably,
commitments on the Russian side to enhance tax collection, raise
certain tax rates, curb soft credits, and to maintain a firm
ceiling on budgetary expenditures. The agreement opens the way to
a future extension of up to $4 billion in stand-by credits. It may
also be seen as a huge act of faith on the part of the IMF in the
ability of the Russian government to deliver, or as the IMF's
capitulation to pressure from the G-7. Many observers doubt
whether the projected 1994 budget deficit can be limited to 9
percent of GDP by Russian measures and 15-16 percent of GDP by IMF
methodology: even Economics Minister Aleksandr Shokhin recently
called the revenue part "patently overstated" and the expenditure
side unrealistic (Ostankino TV, 12 March).  Keith Bush, RFE/RL,

FILATOV: YELTSIN'S HEALTH IS FINE. Sergei Filatov, the head of the
presidential administration, appeared in a ten-minute interview
broadcast on Russian TV on 22 March during which he sought to
dismiss the continuing rumors concerning President Boris Yeltsin's
health. According to Filatov, Yeltsin has signed 81 decrees and
instructions during his working vacation, although they have not
yet been published. The persistent coup rumors were attributed by
Filatov to those who are trying to weaken Yeltsin's authority.
While he also asserted that Yeltsin was fit and had been playing
tennis, the short video clip shown on Russian TV on 21 March
briefly showed Yeltsin walking slowly, and sitting, while talking
to Chernomyrdin. The ambiguous nature of the video appears not to
have dispelled the concerns over Yeltsin's health but instead
increased them. Yeltsin is reportedly scheduled to return to
Moscow at the end of the week, and will meet with Kazakhstani
President Nursultan Nazarbaev at the end of the month.  John
Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc.

TV's "Vesti" quoted Interfax as reporting that the Russian
Counterintelligence Service had received "signals" concerning the
preparations of a coup against President Yeltsin long before the
media started reporting about it on 16 March. "Vesti" also quoted
Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets as saying that he has never
protested about allegations in the media identifying him as one of
the coup leaders. Soskovets' statement contradicted the claim made
by the office of the Russian Prosecutor-General that Soskovets'
testimony was the basis for their formal investigation. Julia
Wishnevsky, RFE/RL, Inc.

ZHIRINOVSKY ATTACKS RUTSKOI. The struggle between the head of the
nationalist Liberal-Democratic Party, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, and
former Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi over the leadership of
"patriotic" forces has come out into the open. Zhirinovsky has
criticized attempts by Rutskoi and other right-wing forces to form
the new movement "Concord In the Name of Russia," Nezavisimoe TV's
"Itogi" reported on 20 March. He said that the new organization
was "an agony' of certain political forces which want to remain on
the political stage." He stated that the movement has "no future"
and that it is being formed "by those forces, which had humiliated
Russia . . . whose hands are full of blood." Alexander Rahr,
RFE/RL, Inc.

military commander responsible for "peacekeeping" operations, Col.
Gen. Georgii Kondratev, told reporters on 22 March that the
military was training more peacekeeping troops because Russian
forces were the only ones capable of "separating warring factions"
in the region. According to Reuters and Ostankino Television,
Kondratev reiterated that Russia would seek an international
mandate--and financing--for such activities on the territory of
the former Soviet Union. He also said that Moscow currently has
over 9,000 peacekeepers deployed in that region: 6,000 in
Tajikistan, 2,000 in Moldova's Dniester region, and 1,500 in
Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and that two more fully-equipped motor
rifle divisions were being trained for peacekeeping operations.
Kondratev, who said that another battalion of Russian forces would
be sent to Sarajevo at the end of March, also claimed that the
Defense Ministry had spent 26 billion rubles out of its own budget
in 1993 to finance peacekeeping operations. According to Interfax,
he said that Russia had to protect the estimated 25 million
Russians living in other former Soviet republics. Stephen Foye,
RFE/RL, Inc.

Komsomolskaya pravda on 22 March quoted Russian Defense Minister
Pavel Grachev as denying published reports that Russia's Air
Defense Forces would be drastically cut or abolished. Grachev said
that while some consolidation might take place, the forces would
actually be strengthened by the addition of new aircraft. On 17
March Moskovsky komsomolets had reported that the Defense Ministry
Collegium would soon discuss a proposal calling for the Air
Defense units to be cut by 50% and for the remaining components of
the current Air Defense Forces then to be distributed among the
Air Forces and other services.  Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc.

22 March reported that Grachev's recent trip to Kaliningrad Oblast
was occasioned at least in part by the fact that reductions in the
military budget have forced military leaders to consider whether
Russia can still afford to maintain its Baltic Fleet. Two options
are reportedly being considered: one that would maintain the
structure and command of the fleet essentially as is; the other
calls for dissolution of the fleet and the reconstitution of a
"division" of warships, subordinated to the general military
command, on the basis of the current Baltic Fleet and the
Leningrad Naval Base. The newspaper also reported in greater
detail on the Defense Ministry's plans for creating a "special
defense region" in Kaliningrad Oblast, saying that it would be
comprised of large groupings of ground forces, military aviation,
air defense forces, and naval units. These forces would interact
with Border Troops and, possibly, with Internal Ministry Forces.
The special force would reportedly be subordinated directly to the
Defense Ministry and General Staff.  Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc.

ROW OVER HIGHER IMPORT DUTIES. The mayors of Moscow, St.
Petersburg, and Yekaterinburg have asked President Yeltsin to
repeal the higher import tax on foodstuffs, an RFE/RL Moscow
correspondent reported on 21 March. [Higher import duties on
certain foodstuffs, as well as other goods such as clothing and
toiletries, came into effect on 10 March.] The mayors claimed that
the higher duties would result in higher retail prices for
foodstuffs in their cities. At a news conference on 22 March,
Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Zaveryukha and Agricultural
Minister Viktor Khlystun defended the higher duties, saying that
they were needed to prevent an onslaught of imports that was
partly responsible for the sorry plight of the domestic
agricultural sector.  Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc.

OIL PRICE FROZEN. Russia's largest oil concern, Lukoil, has
announced that it will freeze the domestic wholesale price of its
crude oil at 70,000 rubles (about $40) a ton during the second
quarter of 1994, The Journal of Commerce reported on 22 March. The
move was attributed to low domestic demand and to nonpayments by
consumers. Consumer insolvency has led Lukoil to close down
thousands of wells during the past year and it has been left with
1.5 million tons of crude oil that it cannot sell.  Keith Bush,
RFE/RL, Inc.

ADAMISHIN ON CIS. First Deputy Foreign Minister Anatolii Adamishin
told a meeting of Russian and French journalists on 21 March that
Russia supports the political independence of other CIS states,
particularly Ukraine, ITAR-TASS reported. He emphasized the need
for economic integration within the CIS. Adamishin said that
Russia has neither the intention nor the power to conduct an
imperialistic policy. He rejected such statements as "the worse
the situation in Ukraine, the better it is for Russia" and stated
that if Ukraine as a state breaks apart, that would have grave
consequences for Russia as well. He added that Russia is trying to
prevent such a development "by all means." He asserted that the
Crimea should remain part of Ukraine and that Russia has no
territorial claims against Ukraine.  Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, Inc.

RUSSIA ON NORTH KOREA. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigoriy
Karasin told reporters in Moscow on 22 March that Russia favors
North Korea's "honoring its obligations" under the nuclear
nonproliferation treaty (NPT), Interfax reported. He suggested
however that the international response to North Korea's refusal
to allow full International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspection
of its nuclear facilities should involve political responses. It
appears that the Foreign Ministry does not yet support immediate
sanctions against North Korea, first wishing to increase political
pressure. Russia has been maintaining a fairly tough stand towards
North Korea on the proliferation issue.  John Lepingwell, RFE/RL,

PLANE CRASH IN SIBERIA. Western and Russian press agencies
reported on 22-23 March that an Aeroflot Airbus crashed during a
flight from Moscow to Hong Kong killing all 75 people on board.
The Airbus A-310 was reportedly leased from a German company, and
was some 3750 km east of Moscow when the crash occurred. Russian
air traffic control had been maintaining radio contact with the
aircraft and there was apparently no distress signal from it
before the crash, suggesting a sudden accident or explosion took
place.  John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc.


NAZARBAEV IN LONDON. Addressing a news conference on 22 March--the
second day of his official visit to Britain--Kazakh President
Nursultan Nazarbaev argued that increased Western investment to
help stabilize Kazakhstan's new currency would constitute the most
effective safeguard for his country's sovereignty, Reuters
reported. Nazarbaev ruled out a return to the ruble zone. In a
speech to the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Nazarbaev
advocated modifying the Commonwealth of Independent States to form
a smaller grouping, for which he proposed the name "Euro-Asiatic
Union", that would serve as a "belt of stability and security",
and from which countries engaged in military conflicts would be
excluded.  Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc.

March that Russia and Kazakhstan are close to completing an
agreement on the leasing of the Baikonur launch site. Kazakhstani
Deputy Prime Minister Galim Abilsitov traveled to Moscow on 22
March to finalize the agreement which may be signed by presidents
Yeltsin and Nazarbaev at a summit scheduled for next week. The two
sides had been stuck over the amount of rent Russia was to pay,
with Russia offering $3 billion per year compared with
Kazakhstan's demand for $7 billion. The Kazakhstani side has
apparently agreed to Russia's call for a long-term lease of
approximately 30 years. Russian TV news on 22 March, however,
featured an item on plans for creating a new spaceport at
Svobodniy, in the Far East. It showed a delegation visiting the
former ICBM site headed by the commander of the Russian Military
Space Forces and claimed that new-generation boosters could be
launched from the site within a few years.  John Lepingwell,
RFE/RL, Inc.

                    CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

media report that talks between Croatian officials and
representatives from the self-proclaimed Republic of Serbian
Krajina produced almost no agreement. The 22 March talks, which
took place in the Russian embassy in Zagreb, were aimed at
producing a permanent cease-fire between Croatia and the rebel
Krajina Serb side, as well as resolving the dispute over the
status of Krajina, which consists of about a third of Croatia's
territory. On 23 March AFP reports that the nearly 13 hours of
talks evoked mainly disagreements, as the RSK negotiators
reiterated their stand that Krajina would never submit to Zagreb's
authority, while Zagreb outlined its position that Krajina is an
integral part of Croatia. In a press conference reported by
Vecernji list on 23 March, Croatian President Franjo Tudjman
observed that talks between the two sides should continue, but
only as long as any prospect for achieving some agreement seems a
possibility. Meanwhile, on 22 March RFE/RL's South Slavic Service
reported that about 150 ethnic Croats demonstrated in front of the
Russian embassy during the talks, urging Zagreb to halt meetings
with "war criminals." Both the Croat and RSK sides are slated to
meet again on 29 March.  Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc.

TUZLA AIRPORT REOPENED. On 22 March Reuters reported that Tuzla
airport, closed for about two years, had been reopened as a UN
flight bringing special envoy Yasushi Akashi and 22 tonnes of aid
touched down. Yet on the same day Tanjug reported that Momcilo
Krajisnik, head of the self-proclaimed Bosnian Serb parliament,
denied that the airport could be reopened on a permanent basis,
despite the arrival of the UN flight, until such time as the Serb
and Muslim sides could agree on procedures for cargo inspection.
In the past, the Serb side has alleged that the reopening of the
airport could become a means for shipping arms to the Muslim side.
In other news, on 23 March AFP and Reuters report that the
reopening of a bridge and other key routes in the city of Sarajevo
has been delayed by disagreements between the Serb and Muslim
sides. Finally, UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali has
recommended that Turkish forces be allowed to assume peacekeeping
duties in the former Yugoslavia.  Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc.

a letter to United Nations Security Council President Jean-Bernard
Merimee, Greek Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias has reiterated
Athens' "categorical opposition" to the deployment of a Turkish
contingent in Bosnia. Greek TV reported on 22 March that in the
letter Papoulias called on the UN to continue to observe the
principle that no bordering states or such which have historic
links to the parties involved in the Bosnian war should
participate in peace-keeping operations. Earlier on that day, a UN
spokesman in New York had revealed that UN Secretary General
Boutros Boutros-Ghali has had problems mustering enough troops
required to enforce the peace agreement underway, and therefore
might ask the Security Council to turn to Turkey. The Athens News
Agency quoted UN officials as saying that the idea would be to
deploy some 1,000 Turkish soldiers exclusively in the Croatian
areas of Bosnia, thus reducing the possibility for tensions with
Serbs. In another development, Greece's European Affairs Minister
Theodoros Pangalos deplored that "no one" abroad understands the
country's tough stance against the former Yugoslav republic of
Macedonia--including the recently imposed trade blockade--and said
it would be better for the Greeks to adopt a policy which "leads
somewhere." Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc.

ILLEGAL WEAPONS IN MACEDONIA. On 18 March Internal Affairs
Minister Ljubomir Frckovski announced at a meeting of "moderate"
Party for Democratic Prosperity delegates, in Tetovo, the arrest
of 14 ethnic Albanians for possession of illegal weapons.
According to Nova Makedonija on 23 March, 67 automatic rifles were
seized from those arrested. Flaka e Vllazerimit reported on 20
March that the problem of illegal possession of weapons in
Macedonia is widespread and not simply confined to the Albanian
community, although it is acute in Gostivar, on the border with
Albania. Frckovski noted that there was no connection between
these arrests and the All Albanian Army uncovered in November
1993. Ismije Beshiri and Duncan Perry, RFE/RL, Inc.

POLICE CORRUPTION IN POLAND. The Ministry of Internal Affairs
confirmed yesterday press reports about widespread corruption in
the police department in the city of Poznan. The police abuses
were first reported on 5 March by Gazeta Wyborcza, which noted
that police officials systematically accepted bribes from local
businessmen and criminals in return for leniency. Some of the
businessmen have become official sponsors of the police force,
offering equipment or funds for modernization. On 23 March Gazeta
Wyborcza alleged that the ministry admitted in a preliminary
report presented to its Political Advisory Committee yesterday the
existence of widespread abuses by the Poznan police, although
stopped short of blaming top police officials there. The ministry
also refrained from accepting resignations from the head of the
national police and his deputy, who were reportedly involved in
the corruption scandal. The ministry hinted, however, that private
sponsorship of local police operations would end. The
investigation of the case is to be continued by the office of
prosecuting attorney in the city of Katowice.  Jan de Weydenthal,
RFE/RL, Inc.

TRADE UNION PROTEST IN PRAGUE. Czech and Western media report that
more than 20,000 people demonstrated in Prague on 22 March against
proposed changes in labor and pension laws. The demonstration was
organized by the Bohemian and Moravian Trade Union Chamber. The
trade unionists protested an amendment that would ban trade unions
in state services and allow employers to hire on short-term
contracts as well as plans to raise the retirement age. Labor and
Social Affairs Minister Jindrich Vodicka tried to address the
demonstrators but the rally's organizers prevented him from doing
so.  Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc.

DUTCH QUEEN VISITS CZECH REPUBLIC. Queen Beatrix arrived in Prague
on 22 March for a three-day visit at the invitation of President
Vaclav Havel, who met with the Queen and her husband Prince Claus
to discuss bilateral relations. CTK reports that Havel also gave
the Queens a sightseeing tour of Prague. The Queen will also visit
Northern Bohemia, a region devastated by ecological neglect under
the communist regime.  Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc.

negotiations involving Air France, the European Bank for
Reconstruction and Development, and the Czech government's
National Property Fund, the French airline agreed to sell its
19.1% share in the Czechoslovak Airlines (CSA) to the Czech
Konsolidacni Bank. Air France bought 19.1% of CSA in 1992 for $30
million. Under the agreement, the Czech Konsolidacni Bank will pay
Air France $27 million for its share. The sale will end a rocky
partnership between the French airline and the Czech government,
which along with the EBRD became CSA's owners in 1992. CSA
suffered a $40.6 million financial loss in 1993; it has been
plagued by problems which Air France has not been able to remedy.
Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc.

parliament voted by 233 to 0 and with three abstentions to
authorize the Hungarian government to submit Hungary's application
for full membership in the European Union, MTI reports. Prime
Minister Peter Boross told parliament that integration into
Western Europe was demanded by the times, and stressed that
Hungary was not entering but returning to Europe. He said that
Hungary sought to ensure its long-term security and economic
development through full membership in the EU. Boross expressed
the hope that the EU's legal system would provide guarantees for
the minority rights of ethnic Hungarians in neighboring countries.
He acknowledged that EU membership posed serious challenges for
Hungary, which will have to bring its economy up to EU standards
and its domestic legislation in line with EU norms. Hungary's
application to join the EU would be the first by a former Warsaw
Pact country. Edith Oltay, RFE/RL, Inc.

Romania's Senate approved, by a 100 to 2 vote, a veterans pension
bill that excludes many ethnic Hungarians from Transylvania. The
law, which stipulates the rights of war veterans and widows, was
amended in accordance with a proposal made by the ultra
nationalist Party of Romanian National Unity to deny state
benefits to Romanian citizens who had fought against the Romanian
army. This mainly covers Transylvanian Hungarians active in the
Hungarian army during World War II. Radio Bucharest reported that
the representatives of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of
Romania left the Senate session after being denied permission to
read a statement saying that the law contradicted Romania's
Constitution and violated international regulations. The HDFR
argues that, between 1940 and 1945, Hungarians in northern
Transylvania had been subject to mandatory drafting into the
Hungarian army since that region was under Hungarian
administration.  Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL, Inc.

the Executive Bureau of the Bulgarian Socialist Party and a
parliamentary deputy, Krasimiar Premyanov, has over the past few
days managed to stir up considerable controversy with allegations
that Bulgarian Turks are in the process of arming themselves,
according to Demokratsiya and Trud on 23 March. Premyanov
originally made the allegations at a press conference in Varna on
21 March, saying he had reliable information that ethnic Turks in
the northeast and south central parts of the country have begun
building up substantial arsenals. He also argued that this was
evidence that a "Bosnian scenario" is being prepared in Bulgaria.
Premyanov's claims were nonetheless denied by Interior Ministry
officials as well as local police authorities, who said they had
no such information. After a meeting of the BSP's Executive Bureau
on 22 March, Premyanov noted that the views expressed had been his
own, while at the same time complaining that journalists had
misinterpreted his statements. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc.

BULGARIA: 50 LEVA FOR A DOLLAR. Pari of 23 March reports that the
Bulgarian National Bank has now set the official exchange rate at
50.737 per one US dollar. In the meantime, the BNB is struggling
to halt the rapid devaluation of the Bulgarian currency. On 22
March the Board of Governors ordered banks to increase their cash
reserves, raised the interest rate on short-term deposits (from
51% to 57%), postponed a scheduled sale of one billion leva, and
requested an inquiry into whether major financial institutions
have observed the country's currency regulations in larger deals
over the past months.  Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc.

PERRY TOURS ICBM SITE. On 22 March, US Secretary of Defense
William Perry toured the Pervomaisk ICBM site in Ukraine and
watched a Ukrainian missile crew conduct a training exercise,
according to Reuters and other Western press agencies. Perry
viewed SS-24 ICBMs that have had their warheads removed. According
to Ukrainian officials warheads have been removed from 30 of the
46 SS-24 ICBMs in Ukraine. The New York Times reports on 23 March
that Perry had asserted that difficulties concerning the delivery
of Russian nuclear reactor fuel to Ukraine would be resolved
within a week to ten days. ITAR-TASS reported on 22 March that the
nuclear fuel shipments are being delayed while a comprehensive
document governing the implementation of the trilateral agreement
is being drawn up in the Russian council of ministers. Nuclear
fuel cannot be transferred to Ukraine until the document is
signed, but ITAR-TASS's sources could not say when that would
occur.  John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc.

UKRAINE TO JOIN EUROPEAN UNION. An agreement on partnership and
cooperation between Ukraine and the European Union has been
prepared and is expected to be signed in Brussels by Ukraine's
foreign minister Anatolii Zlenko on 23 March, Interfax reported on
22 March. According to deputy foreign minister, Oleksander
Makarenko, the agreement would remove virtually all trade
restrictions by the EU on Ukraine, with the exception of products
from the textile and metallurgy industries, and nuclear
components.  Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc.

22 March Interfax reported that Premier Vyacheslau Kebich has
abolished a number of ministries and departments in the Belarusian
government. At the same time several state committees were
transformed into ministries. These included: the committee on
foreign trade; economics and planning; environmental protection;
state property and privatization. In addition, the government
staff is to be cut by 12% by 20 May, and the regional executive
committees and city executive in Minsk are to be cut by 10%. In
other news, Interfax reported that the chairman of the Supreme
Soviet, Mechyslau Hryb, has said that he was unsure of whether he
would run in the coming presidential elections. In the meantime,
Henadz Kazlau, the coordinator of parliament's largest faction,
the conservative "Belarus," has said that the faction is planning
to bring a motion before parliament that presidential candidates
provide a certificate of health. The measure is meant to avert any
speculation about the future president's condition including his
mental faculties. Kazlau also proposes that candidates declare
their income to avoid any accusations of abusing the office for
financial gains if elected.  Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc.

March, after two days of talks in Moscow, Lithuanian and Russian
negotiators initialed an agreement on border crossings, Radio
Lithuania reports. Lithuania presented a list of debts to
enterprises not paid by the withdrawn Russian troops and urged
Russia to ratify the most favored trade status agreement signed in
November 1993. In Vilnius, Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius told
Russian Baltic Fleet commander Admiral Vladimir Egorov and
Kaliningrad Oblast administrator Yurii Matochkin that the arrest
of the head of the company building apartments for Russian troops
in Kaliningrad would not affect construction.  Saulius Girnius,
RFE/RL, Inc.

three-month trial, a Latvian court convicted Ilmars Penke, former
director of the state-owned Latvbiofarm, his deputy Vyacheslav
Kukikov, and Central Laboratory chief Janis Osis and pronounced
prison sentences ranging from 7 1/2 to 3 years with confiscation
of property, Diena reports. The three had been arrested in
December 1992 after German police in Frankfurt seized 3 tons of
amphetamines disguised as flu medicine and having a street value
of $18 million. Three people were also arrested in Slovakia for
involvement in the drug operation that had sold the drugs in
Belgium and the Netherlands as well.  Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL,

Democratic Party member Sergei Zonov began working as a deputy in
the Estonian parliament, BNS reports. Zonov, the first and only
Russian in the parliament, replaced Ardo Ojasalu who had to resign
after being appointed the head of the country's Tax Department.
Zonov said that he would aim his activities in the parliament
toward the adoption of laws that would contribute to the
integration of Russian-speakers into Estonia's life, stressing the
need for the rapid withdrawal of Russian troops to ease potential
tensions. He said that he was ready to work closely with Estonia's
Russian-speakers' organizations, but stressed he would not be
manipulated by them. He said that he knew people in all the
parliament's factions during his previous work in the Estonian
Popular Front and the Council of Estonian Citizens. 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
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