|Some things have to be believed to be seen. - Ralph Hodgson|
No. 63, 31 March 1994
RUSSIA CHUBAIS, ZHIRINOVSKY ON COUP. Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais told the BBC on 28 March that hard-line forces were planning to oust President Boris Yeltsin and put extremist Vladimir Zhirinovsky in charge of the country. He said that plotters want to make Zhirinovsky head of state this autumn, and that although there was no evidence for a coup yet, concrete evidence will only emerge when it is already "too late." Chubais stated that he does not think Zhirinovsky himself is dangerous but that Zhirinovsky's supporters are "extremely dangerous." Confronted with these accusations, Zhirinovsky said that Chubais was "absolutely right." Reuters on 29 March quoted him as saying that if his party is invited to join a new coup, it will participate and "victory will be assured." Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, Inc. ZHIRINOVSKY ISSUES THREATS. Extremist Vladimir Zhirinovsky told Radio Mayak "Novosti" on 29 March that the parliamentary elections in Ukraine have demonstrated that the eastern part of Ukraine wants to become reunited with Russia. In other statements, reported by Nezavisimoe TV "Segodnya" on the same day, Zhirinovsky criticized several of the former leaders of the October 1993 rebellion for not having thanked him personally for his efforts to release them from prison. He stated that former Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi will never become Russian president because he changes his views so often and because he has lost people's trust. Zhirinovsky also met a representative of the South African ANC in Moscow and told him that Russia would welcome white South Africans who flee a black-majority government. Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, Inc. SHAKHRAI SUPPORTS BEER LOVERS, SUBBOTNIK. Following a meeting between the leader of the Party of Russian Unity and Concord, Sergei Shakhrai, and the members of the so-called "Politburo" of the "Party of Beer Lovers" in the State Duma, a press secretary of Shakhrai's party told ITAR-TASS on 30 March that the two parties were ready to sign an agreement on cooperation and that Shakhrai was prepared to represent the interests of the Party of Beer Lovers in the parliament. On 30 March, ITAR-TASS broadcast an appeal of the Party of Russian Unity and Concord to all Russian citizens to assemble on 16 April at the construction side in Moscow of a new monument commemorating the victory in World War II in order to hold "an All-Russian 'subbotnik'." "Subbotniks" were so-called voluntary labor days on Saturdays introduced under former Communist leaders. Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, Inc. MINERS PICKET WHITE HOUSE. More than 500 coalminers from all over Russia picketed the headquarters of the Russian government (the former parliament building) in Moscow on 30 March. The miners are demanding payment of overdue wages (some have not been paid since December) and increased state subsidies to support their industry, Russian media reported. Picketing is to continue until 1 April. The miners have asked to meet President Yeltsin or Prime Minister Chernomyrdin, but spokesmen for both leaders told RFE/RL's correspondent no such meetings were scheduled. They said Yeltsin was busy drafting a charter on civic accord, while Chernomyrdin was preparing to visit Hungary. Union leaders have said that if their demands are ignored, they may call a general strike. But, as Trud commented on 30 March, the miners are reluctant to take such a step lest a general strike topple the government and open the door to hardliners. Elizabeth Teague, RFE/RL, Inc. TRADE DEALS SIGNED. US Commerce Secretary Ron Brown signed four trade agreements with the Russian government on 30 March, including one that exempts previously negotiated deals from the new tariffs introduced on 15 March. The agreement is expected to clear the way for the sale (currently suspended because of the tariffs) of two new Boeing 757 aircraft to the Transaero company. Other agreements provide for the establishment of nine business centers in Russia to assist US companies seeking to invest there, and the reduction of trade barriers in the pharmaceutical industry. Brown noted that he had not succeeded in getting the Russian government to reconsider a new $5 per barrel tax on oil exports which is deterring foreign investment in the oil industry. Yeltsin, during his meeting with Brown, called for "real cooperation" rather than "a mere show of cooperation" between the US and Russia. Brown's visit was reported by Western press agencies and the Los Angeles Times. John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIAN DIPLOMATS ON CROATIAN CEASEFIRE. Russian envoy Vitalii Churkin, who mediated the talks between Croats and Krajina Serbs that led to a ceasefire agreement on 30 March, was quoted by AFP as saying that Russia "regards this agreement as only the first step on the road toward resolving this conflict and normalizing Serb-Croatian relations." Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Croatia, Leonid Kerestediyants, told Interfax on the same day that the Croats and Krajina Serbs would meet again in two weeks at the Russian embassy in Zagreb to discuss the possibility of restoring economic and transportation links. Kerestediyants admitted that the talks had been difficult, but suggested that close cooperation with US representatives had been a key to their success. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. INDIA, RUSSIA CONCLUDE ROCKET DEAL. A purchase by India of two Russian rocket engines plus related technology, which fell through last September following protests by the US, has been restructured and agreed to by Moscow and New Delhi, the head of India's space program said on 30 March. According to Reuters, India will now receive seven rocket engines, including two rocket engines in lieu of the related technology that Russia had originally intended to supply. The first engine will reportedly be delivered to India in 1996, with the rest to follow over a three-year period. The US had opposed the first deal because Washington believed that it violated the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), an agreement aimed at preventing the spread of ballistic missile technology. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. AN OPTIMISTIC PROJECTION OF ARMS SALES. In an interview with Interfax on 30 March, the chairman of Rosvooruzhenie, Viktor Samoilov, claimed that Russia can export military hardware to the value of $20 billion in 1994. He attributed the decline in arms sales since 1991 to the fact that Russia is now selling weapons only for cash [whereas the former Soviet Union delivered the bulk of its arms to virtually insolvent third-world countries and/or Warsaw Pact nations on soft credit terms]. Most observers would disagree with Samoilov's projection for 1994 because, in addition to its traditional shortcomings as an arms supplier--such as poor marketing, after-sales service, and training--Russia is now faced with the disintegration of much of its defense industry. Meanwhile, in its review of world military expenditures and arms transfers in 1991-92, the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency estimated the value of Soviet arms exports in 1991 at $6.6 billion, Reuters reported on 30 March. [The ballpark estimate for the convertible currency value of Russian arms exports in 1992 and 1993 is just over $2 billion each year]. Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc. PROGRESS OF 1994 BUDGET. The Speaker of the State Duma, Ivan Rybkin, told the visiting rump Yugoslav vice-president on 30 March that the Duma would pass the draft 1994 federal budget in May, Interfax reported. [On 9 March, Aleksandr Pochinok, deputy chairman of the Duma's finance committee, had told a news conference that the draft budget would not reach the president for consideration and final approval until July]. Rybkin promised the close cooperation of the Duma with the government on the budget. He added that parliamentary committees are expected to seek out new sources of revenue rather than try to reduce budgetary expenditures. Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc. R.I.P. COCOM. Senior officials from the 17 member countries of the Coordinating Committee on Multilateral Export Controls (COCOM) met on 30 March in the Netherlands to reaffirm an earlier decision to dissolve the organization at midnight on 31 March, Reuters reported. No final agreement was announced on the name, shape, and powers of a successor body, but it is expected to be a broader-based, more flexible organization. It is thought that Russia will join the successor grouping soon. On 29 March, the Clinton administration lifted export restrictions on the sale of most commercial computer and telecommunications equipment to Russia, Eastern Europe, and China, The Washington Post reported on 31 March. Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIAN MILITARY NOT GETTING PAID? Interfax reported on 29 March that most officers and warrant officers in the Russian military have not received their March pay, and many have not received their February pay. Interfax cites "sources close to the Defense Ministry" as blaming the Finance Ministry for providing funds for only 30% of the salaries. The Defense Ministry has a long-running feud with the Finance Ministry over the provision of funds, and this report, while not officially confirmed, corresponds to other reports indicating that defense budget funds for 1994 are being disbursed extremely slowly. John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc. CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED AGAINST JAPANESE FISHING BOATS. The commander of Russia's naval border forces, Admiral Nikolai Kudinov, said on 30 March that Russia was launching a campaign against what it described as illegal fishing being conducted by foreign fishing boats in Russian waters. According to Reuters, the operation was directed primarily at Japanese fishing boats that have been fishing off the coast of the disputed Kuril Islands. Earlier in the day, according to AFP, five high-speed Japanese fishing boats had been chased out of Russian waters by border guard forces that included combat helicopters. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. FEDERATION COUNCIL TO PROPOSE RECOGNITION OF DUDAEV. Vladimir Shumeiko, chairman of the Federation Council, told reporters on 30 March that the resolution on Chechnya that the council is likely to adopt next week could include a recommendation to Yeltsin that Yeltsin recognize the authority of Chechen president on condition that Chechnya, in the person of Dudaev, agrees to sign the federal treaty, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. This still seems to be out of the question at the moment since Dudaev was reported to have said that, while he was ready for talks with Russia, they would have to take place without conditions unacceptable to Chechnya. In particular Chechnya refuses to recognize that it is an inalienable part of Russia. Ann Sheehy, RFE/RL, Inc. CIS NAZARBAEV ON HIS MOSCOW VISIT. Meeting with journalists on the last day of his official visit to Moscow, Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev described the 23 documents signed during his stay as strengthening the partnership between Kazakhstan and Russia which he expects to continue into the next century, Russian news agencies reported on 30 March. An official statement on the visit mentioned agreements on creation of transnational firms, military cooperation and the dismantling of Kazakhstan's nuclear weapons, but not Nazarbaev's proposal for a Eurasian Union. Nazarbaev told the journalists that his idea had been based on the European Union and was not meant as a formal proposal but was intended to inspire discussion. Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc. CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE CROATS AND SERB REBELS REACH AGREEMENT. International media reported on 30 March that representatives of the Zagreb government and the Serbs occupying some 27% of Croatia's territory signed a cease-fire agreement following Russian and American mediation. The Serb delegation chief said that "our goal is fulfilled. Our armies will not fight anymore." The accord provides for a cease-fire starting 4 April, a withdrawal of heavy weapons beginning the following day, and a disengagement of forces commencing on 8 April. Russian mediator Vitaly Churkin pointed out, however, that this was only the beginning, and that sensitive economic and especially political issues remain to be ironed out. Vecernji list of 31 March quotes Croatian President Franjo Tudjman as reminding the Serbs that they were in the majority in only two districts of Croatia before their rebellion that began in 1990, and as reserving the option of a military solution if the Serbs cannot be reintegrated into Croatia peacefully. The Serbs are likely, however, to receive sufficient international guarantees for their autonomy so as to make a peaceful accord possible. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. SERBS POUND GORAZDE. The BBC said on 30 March that the UN had stopped aid convoys to the besieged eastern Bosnian Muslim enclave because of Serb shelling, which Sarajevo Radio said killed 8 and wounded 26. The broadcast added that the Serbs were also firing on another enclave, Zepa, which like Gorazde is a UN-declared "safe area." It seems likely that the Serbs' message is that the Muslims will have to give up these territories in any future territorial settlement between the Croats and Muslims on the one hand and the Serbs on the other. Meanwhile in Sarajevo, international media reported that the Bosnian parliament on 30 March unanimously approved the Croat-Muslim federal constitution. Reuters noted that Turkey will host talks in Ankara on 6 April to help the Croats and Muslims work out the practical implementation of their agreement. On 30 March Slobodna Dalmacija reported at length on the three-day visit to Sarajevo by top Bosnian Croat military officials, led by their commander Gen. Ante Roso. Finally, news agencies added that US Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John Shalikashvili paid a short visit to Sarajevo to announce a US donation of $10 million in reconstruction aid, to dedicate the site of the future US embassy, and to meet with President Alija Izetbegovic and Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. GREEK-MACEDONIAN DEADLOCK. Matthew Nimetz, recently appointed US Special Mediator in the Greek-Macedonian dispute, met with Greek Premier Andreas Papandreou on 29 March. The New York Times reports that Papandreou stated that the reason for establishing the 16 February trade embargo against Macedonia is that the Republic of Macedonia is a "real and present danger to Greece." In an interview, Papandreou explained that the blockade was imposed because of Athens' belief that its concerns had slipped from international attention. He noted that Greece believes that Macedonia seeks to extend its boundaries at Greece's expense, to the Aegean Sea, an ambition which the use of the name Macedonia seems to reinforce. Although the present regime in Skopje is not a threat to Greece, he noted, a Macedonia in combination with other unnamed Balkan states could well be a danger. Papandreou said Greece would certainly lift the embargo if Macedonia dropped the star of Vergina from its flag, a symbol claimed by Greece, and changed its constitution to meet Greek specifications concerning fixity of borders. Papandreou adopted a conciliatory stance toward the US, a break with his past practice. The US, for its part, apparently in deference to the Greek-American lobby, has not formally established diplomatic relations with Macedonia, despite a pledge to do so in February. Duncan Perry, RFE/RL, Inc. WALESA TALKS TOUGH. Polish President Lech Walesa continues his effort to leverage his limited formal powers into political dominance. Meeting on 30 March with journalists from the right-wing Catholic daily Slowo, Walesa said that, "for today," he will not sign the 1994 budget. "The nation has been cheated once again," he charged. He admitted that there is no economic alternative to the current budget but put off any final decision until his socio-economic council meets to discuss the issue. Walesa restated his refusal to appoint Dariusz Rosati to the vacant positions of deputy prime minister and finance minister, despite the ruling coalition's continued support for his candidacy. "We still act as if this is a Politburo decision, but I am no First Secretary," Walesa said. Any attempt to amend the constitution to limit his powers, Walesa threatened, would mean new elections, which, he claimed, the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) would lose. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. COALITION PARTIES PONDER PROSPECTS. Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak expressed only half-hearted support for Rosati on 30 March, saying that he remains the coalition's candidate until the SLD changes its mind. The idea of an implicit pact between Pawlak and Walesa continued to prompt press speculation, as the premier is the most obvious beneficiary of Walesa's campaign against the SLD. Gazeta Wyborcza argued on 28 March that the president and premier are "a perfect tandem." The political stalemate is likely to continue over the holidays, as both SLD leader Aleksander Kwasniewski and Sejm Speaker Jozef Oleksy traveled to Moscow on 30 March as part of a parliamentary delegation. The delegation discussed economic cooperation with Russian Premier Viktor Chernomyrdin and is to meet with President Boris Yeltsin on 1 April. Public administration chief Michal Strak admitted to reporters on 29 March that Pawlak's Polish Peasant Party (PSL) claimed the bulk of the spoils in the postelection purge of voivodship posts. Pawlak has removed 27 of 49 voivods. Polish TV reports that, of the 24 new voivods, 15 represent the PSL, 8 are independents, and one is from the SLD. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. SOLIDARITY SUSPENDS PROTEST CAMPAIGN. Solidarity Chairman Marian Krzaklewski announced on 30 March that the union is suspending its rotating strike campaign for the Easter holidays, Polish TV reports. The suspension seems merely to acknowledge the existing state of affairs, as enthusiasm for the strike campaign has died out in recent days. The union also urged President Lech Walesa not to sign the 1994 budget or the new law on wage controls, the so-called neopopiwek. Meeting behind closed doors, Solidarity's protest committee resolved to send a letter of staunch protest to the premier over what it alleged was the "scandalous" and "provocative" treatment of the union's delegation in talks with government experts. The experts apparently failed to provide the unionists with coffee, tea, or sandwiches on the night of 25-26 March. A CBOS opinion poll reported by PAP on 30 March showed that the strike campaign has not improved the union's popularity; 58% thought it weakened the state. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. RESTITUTION OF JEWISH PROPERTY IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC UNBLOCKED? Jiri Danicek, chairman of the Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic, told CTK on 29 March that he had met with Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus on 28 March to discuss the restitution of Jewish property confiscated by Nazi Germany and retained by Czechoslovakia's communist governments. In February, the Czech parliament rejected a draft law that would have made possible the return of Jewish property, after deputies representing Klaus' Civic Democratic Party introduced last minute amendments limiting the scope of restitution. On 23 March, the government turned down another draft law, which was deemed unacceptable because it could set a precedent for returning property confiscated before the communist putsch on 25 February 1948. Following his meeting with Klaus, Danicek said that the return of Jewish property will be based on a decree issued by President Edvard Benes in 1945, which annulled the validity of all property transfers during the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. According to Danicek, all Jewish property that is now in the possession of the state will be returned immediately; the government's appeal to municipalities to return the property that has come to their possession has been received mostly favorably. At the same time, the government has asked a group of experts to evaluate a new draft law on the restitution of Jewish property prepared by a group of deputies. Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAK PREMIER ON GOVERNMENT'S PLANS. Speaking at a press conference in Bratislava on 30 March, Slovak Premier Jozef Moravcik said that speeding up economic reforms is one of the priorities of his government that is to stay in power until the October parliamentary elections. Moravcik denied that his government plans to devalue the Slovak koruna. Speaking on Czech-Slovak relations, Moravcik stressed that his government will strive to preserve the Czech-Slovak Customs Union. The premier also stressed that Slovakia wants to expand cooperation with Hungary and would like to conclude a Slovak-Hungarian state treaty. Moravcik rejected warnings by former Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar against the influx of Hungarian capital into Southern Slovakia, saying that "capital is by nature international and searching for its ethnic origins is counterproductive." Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc. HUNGARIAN SOCIALISTS RECEIVE STRONG PRE-ELECTION SUPPORT. Imre Szekeres, Vice Chairman of the Hungarian Socialist Party, successor of the Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party, said that the HSP will be running in all 176 electoral districts in the May general elections, MTI reports on 31 March. Szekeres said that the number of the so-called endorsement slips received by the HSP candidates was close to half a million, or close to the total number of votes the HSP received in the 1990 general election. Individual candidates must collect at least 700 slips, which are given to voters, in order to run. The high number of endorsements was a possible indication of the coming HSP victory. Karoly Okolicsanyi, RFE/RL, Inc. COUNCIL OF EUROPE OFFICIALS END VISIT TO ROMANIA. The two rapporteurs for the Council of Europe, Friedrich Koenig and Gunnar Jannson, said at the end of their three-day visit to Romania that Bucharest has only partially fulfilled the obligations assumed when it was conditionally admitted to the council. An RFE/RL correspondent, Radio Bucharest and Western agencies reported on 30 March that the two rapporteurs said remaining areas of concern include the treatment of ethnic minorities and concern over an anti-press law under discussion in parliament, as well as restrictions on the restitution of property seized by the communists. Koenig said it will take time for Romania to make improvements, "but this cannot be an excuse for doing nothing." Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc. ILIESCU IN GREECE. President Ion Iliescu arrived in Athens on 30 March, for a two-day visit to Greece and talks on bilateral relations and the turmoil in the Balkans resulting from the war in former Yugoslavia. Iliescu met President Constantin Caramanlis, Premier Andreas Papandreou and various other political and business leaders. After his talks with Papandreou he said Greece's position in the conflict with Macedonia was "rational" and that Romania took that position into consideration, without denying Macedonia's "right to existence." Greece, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, supports Romania's bid for closer ties with the union. Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc. GRACHEV ENDS ROMANIAN VISIT IN CLASH OVER 14TH ARMY. At the end of his three-day visit to Romania, Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev reacted angrily when asked by reporters about the presence of the 14th Army in the Trans-Dniester region in Moldova, Radio Bucharest and Western agencies reported on the same day. He said the army was only temporarily there. The Russian guest said he did not see why Moldova, which is an independent state, should come up in questions addressed to him in Bucharest and added that the Russian troops there were actually playing a peacekeeping role and preventing bloodshed. Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc. ALEKSANDROV ON "MAJOR ERRORS" IN BULGARIAN ECONOMIC REFORM COURSE. Speaking at a conference devoted to "Privatization, Investments and International Financial Cooperation," Finance Minister Stoyan Aleksandrov on 30 March sharply criticized key aspects of postcommunist economic policies, adding he thinks international financial institutions have helped to aggravate the situation. As quoted by BTA, Aleksandrov said a major mistake was to adopt a market-based model for privatization in 1992, while ignoring that potential buyers are few and possess limited resources. He also deplored that, even though the capital market is growing fast, tax authorities have remained weak and often fail to collect revenues. Consequently, almost no funds are available for investments and an increasing number of state companies are going bankrupt. To quickly remedy the situation, Aleksandrov stressed the need to speed up privatization, even if companies must be sold at symbolic prices. Elsewhere in Sofia, Deputy Premier Evgeni Matinchev accused individual politicians and businessmen of willfully trying to worsen the present financial crisis--triggered by the rapid devaluation of the lev--in order to make the government resign. He also said Premier Lyuben Berov, who on 11 March underwent bypass surgery, will soon be back to head the cabinet. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc. KUCHMA TO STAND FOR PRESIDENCY. An RFE/RL correspondent reported on 30 March that the former premier, Leonid Kuchma, has said that he will run in Ukraine's presidential election if he is supported by a majority of parliamentary deputies. Kuchma was elected to parliament in the Chernihiv Oblast by an overwhelming majority. He is a close associate of the leader of the parliamentary faction New Ukraine, Volodymyr Hrynov, with whom he jointly chairs the Inter-Regional Bloc of Reforms which advocates an economic union between the Slavic states of the former USSR. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. BELARUSIAN CONSTITUTION GOES INTO EFFECT. On 30 March the new Belarusian constitution went into effect, Radiofakt reported. The constitution, which replaces the Soviet-era constitution, was approved by parliament on 15 March and formally signed by the chairman of the Supreme Soviet, Mechyslau Hryb, on 28 March. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS SET IN BELARUS. The Belarusian parliament has decided that presidential elections will be held on 23 June, Belinform-TASS reported on 30 March. Under the new constitution, to register as a candidate a person must be a Belarusian citizen, at least 35 years of age, have lived in Belarus for at least 10 years, and collected 100,000 signatures from citizens or 70 from deputies. There are already around 20 potential candidates, among them Premier Vyacheslau Kebich. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. LITHUANIA PEGS CURRENCY TO US DOLLAR. On 30 March in compliance with the Stability of the Litas law passed by parliament on 17 March, Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius announced that from 1 April the litas would be pegged to the US dollar at a rate of 4 to 1, Radio Lithuania reports. Exporters advocated a lower rate of around 4.2 to make their products more attractive to foreign buyers while economists suggested a rate of 3.8 or 3.9. The law giving the government and not the Bank of Lithuania the authority to fix the exchange rate had prompted the resignation of Economics Minister Julius Veselka. Lithuania becomes the fourth country (after Hong Kong, Argentina, and Estonia) to peg its currency to that of another currency. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. ESTONIA, DENMARK SIGN AGREEMENT ON MILITARY COOPERATION. On 30 March Danish Defense Minister Hans Haekkerup and his Estonian counterpart Indrek Kannik signed an agreement on defense cooperation, BNS reports. During his two-day visit Haekkerup had met with Prime Minister Mart Laar, Foreign Minister Juri Luik, and many parliamentary deputies. He had previously signed similar agreements with Latvia and Lithuania, pledging Danish support for the formation of a joint Baltic peace-keeping battalion. He affirmed that the Russian army had to leave Estonia and that there were too many troops in Kaliningrad. Kannik noted that this was the first defense cooperation agreement that Estonia had signed, but similar agreements were being planned with other European countries. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. 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