|In the effort to give good and comforting answers to the young questioners whom we love, we very often arrive at good and comforting answers for ourselves. - Ruth Goode|
No. 64, 5 April 1994
RUSSIA YELTSIN READY FOR SECOND PRESIDENTIAL TERM. President Boris Yeltsin said in an interview with El Pais on 3 April that the decision whether he will again run for president in 1996 depends on the emergence of any other politician who could guarantee stability in the country. Yeltsin stressed that he wants to leave Russia "in safe and democratic hands." Yeltsin's press secretary Vyacheslav Kostikov was quoted by Izvestiya on 1 April as saying that Yeltsin should not be written off as a strong candidate in the next presidential elections. He stated that large public groups could endorse Yeltsin's candidacy for a second term. Yeltsin himself indicated that he wants to sign a civic accord of peace with all political forces in the country on 28 April. A key point in the proposed accord is a prohibition of any constitutional changes during a transitional period and a rejection of early presidential elections. Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, Inc. ZHIRINOVSKY'S PARTY HOLDS CONGRESS. The nationalist Liberal-Democratic Party of Vladimir Zhirinovsky held its party congress in Moscow 2-3 April, Russian and Western news agencies reported on 3 April. The congress elected Zhirinovsky as party leader until the year 2004 and voted in favor of granting him dictatorial powers in forming the party's leadership. It also endorsed Zhirinovsky as candidate for presidential elections. In his speech, Zhirinovsky said that he will restore all democratic institutions in his party after he wins the presidential elections. He called for the creation of a new Eastern European Slavonic Union and said that the idea of democracy "does not correspondent to the national psyche . . . in Russia." Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIA'S CHOICE LEADERS MEET YELTSIN. The pro-reformist parliamentary bloc Russia's Choice has made a final decision to constitute itself as a political party, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 April. The leader of Russia's choice, Egor Gaidar, met with Yeltsin and received the President's support for such a move. Gaidar said after the meeting that he agreed with Yeltsin that "no other presidential party besides Russia's Choice will be created." He stressed that the new party will support the president and his policies. On 4 April, Yeltsin met with leaders of Russia's Choice in the Kremlin and assured them that he will closely cooperate with that bloc. He stated, however, that he also will remain the president of all Russians and indicated that he will not join any party. Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, Inc. CONTINUED CONFUSION OVER NATO PARTNERSHIP. On 31 March Reuters quoted presidential aide Vyacheslav Kostikov as saying that Russia might require another six or seven months to reach a decision on participation in the NATO "Partnership for Peace" plan. The next day, however, Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev reiterated that Russia intended to sign onto the NATO partnership plan in the second half of April; he said that Kostikov "must have been misinterpreted." Also on 1 April, Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev was quoted by Interfax as saying that "nobody questions Russia's integration into NATO's military structures." He emphasized, however, that participation in the partnership would not stop Russia from pursuing additional bilateral agreements with leading NATO member-states. On 4 April Grachev said that Boris Yeltsin favored joining the partnership. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. CONCERN OVER RUSSIAN TROOP DEPLOYMENTS. NATO and US officials have expressed concern over Moscow's redeployment of troops withdrawn from Central Europe to the St. Petersburg and Caucasus regions because the forces now based in these areas exceed 1995 levels set by the CFE Treaty, The New York Times reported on 2 April. Russian military leaders have long argued that changed geopolitical realities and, in particular, the outbreak of hostilities on Russia's southern border justify increased deployments in those areas. The Scandinavian countries and Turkey have expressed opposition to the proposed changes and, according to The New York Times, the issue has emerged as a major irritant in efforts by the Pentagon to forge closer ties with the Russian military. On 3 April US Defense Secretary William Perry said that NATO would reject any attempt by Russia to alter the treaty, Reuters reported. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. FIRST QUARTER RESULTS. The fall in industrial output during the first quarter of 1994 has been variously reported as 24 and 25 percent when compared with the first quarter of 1993, according to Interfax of 31 March and Rossiiskie vesti of 2 April. First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets was quoted as commenting that, despite the decline in output, there was no need to declare an "economic state of emergency," as had been proposed by parliamentary leaders. The monthly inflation rate slowed from 22 percent in January, to 9.9 percent in February, to 8.7 percent in March. In the Rossiiskie vesti article, Economics Minister Aleksandr Shokhin predicted that the monthly inflation rate would fall to 3-5 percent by the end of the year. This is appreciably below other recent projections and well within the IMF guidelines. Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc. LAND REDISTRIBUTION DECREE. On 31 March, the cabinet approved "on the whole" a draft program on agricultural reform for the period 1994-95, Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported. This was, however, rejected by the agricultural committees of both houses of parliament, according to Interfax of 4 April. Meanwhile, a government decree on the redistribution of land, that does not have to be approved by parliament, was passed on 31 March, according to the Financial Times of 2 April. This measure extends the system pioneered in Nizhny Novgorod whereby farm workers and pensioners each receive a voucher entitling them to part of the land and the machinery belonging to the parent kolkhoz or sovkhoz. They are then encouraged to join with other workers to form viable production units. Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc. NORTH OSSETIAN-INGUSH TALKS. The presidents of North Ossetia and Ingushetia, Akhsarbek Galazov and Ruslan Aushev, met in the Kabardino-Balkar capital of Nalchik on 2 and 3 April to discuss implementation of Yeltsin's decree of 13 December on the return of Ingush refugees to the Prigorodnyi raion of North Ossetia, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. The talks were difficult as Aushev continued to insist on the immediate return of the refugees, while Galazov held to the North Ossetian stipulation that no return would be possible until Ingushetia renounced its claims to those parts of North Ossetia that were part of Ingushetia prior to the whole deportation of the Ingush in 1944. Nonetheless, Galazov expressed satisfaction with the talks, and Vladimir Lozovoi, head of the provisional administration in North Ossetia and Ingushetia, stressed the importance of agreement having been reached on an agenda. The talks are to resume in Nalchik on 13 and 14 April. Ann Sheehy, RFE/RL, Inc. CIS NUCLEAR FUEL EN ROUTE TO UKRAINE. Russia's Minister of Atomic Energy, Viktor Mikhailov, informed Interfax on 4 April that a shipment of 60 fuel rods has been sent to Ukraine in exchange for the 120 nuclear warheads Ukraine has shipped to Russia. Mikhailov again complained that the US has not yet paid Russia the $60 million advance payment envisioned in the trilateral agreement, and noted that the Russian Finance Ministry has not paid the plant that made the fuel. Further deliveries will depend both upon Ukraine sending more warheads to Russia, and Russian receipt of US funding. John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc. BALTIN ON BLACK SEA FLEET. The commander of the Black Sea Fleet, Admiral Eduard Baltin, has warned that the fleet is deteriorating rapidly and may cease to be functional by the turn of the century. He noted that some 20% of junior officer posts are unfilled, while many ships, and almost all of the fleet's aircraft, are in need of repair. Baltin's comments, published in the Ukrainian navy's newspaper, were reported by Interfax, ITAR-TASS, and AFP. Interfax on 29 March reported that the fleet's high command had warned Ukrainian Defense Minister Radetsky that Ukraine has not provided its share of the fleet's financing in 1994, and hadn't reimbursed the fleet for costs incurred by Ukrainian naval units using the fleet's facilities. The fleet's command called for the debt to be paid by 10 April. John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA GEORGIA, ABKHAZIA SIGN AGREEMENT ON REPATRIATION OF REFUGEES. Georgian and Abkhaz representatives signed agreements in Moscow on 3 April in the presence of UN Secretary-General Boutros Ghali and Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev on an end to the most recent round of hostilities and the return to their homes of some of the 250,000 Georgians displaced by fighting last year, Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported. The first agreement also called for the deployment of UN peacekeeping troops in Abkhazia. In his weekly radio broadcast, Georgian Parliament Chairman Eduard Shevardnadze stated that Georgia had ceded to Abkhaz demands that no Georgians actively involved in last year's fighting should be permitted to return; he rejected criticisms of the agreement by opposition deputies, who argued that it could lead to loss of Georgian control over Abkhazia. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIA, TURKEY, ARMENIA AND THE PKK. A spokesman for the Russian Ministry of Justice told an RFE/RL correspondent in Moscow on 31 March that Russia cannot outlaw the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) because that organization is not legally registered in Russia. (The Turkish government had protested a PKK-organized conference on the history of Kurdistan held in Moscow in February.) On 1 April, Russian Interior Minister Viktor Erin and his Turkish counterpart Nahit Mentese signed an agreement in Ankara on increased cooperation between the two countries, especially in combating international terrorism and drugs trafficking, according to ITAR-TASS. Also on 1 April, one of the leaders of the Kurdish community in Armenia told ITAR-TASS that there is no truth to repeated Turkish official claims that there are PKK military bases in Armenia. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. RAKHMONOV ON VISIT TO PAKISTAN. After a three-day official visit to Pakistan, the first by a Tajik head of state since Tajikistan gained its independence, Tajik Supreme Soviet Chairman Imomali Rakhmonov told journalists in Dushanbe that Pakistan's government wants to develop economic ties with his country, ITAR-TASS reported on 2 April. The Pakistani side is particularly interested in hydroelectric projects and road building, Rakhmonov said. Although foreign investors have paid little attention to Tajikistan because of the civil war in 1992 and continued fighting on the Tajik-Afghan border, and also because of the potential instability of the neo-Communist government of Rakhmonov and his allies, in recent months a few reports have appeared of incipient foreign interest in Tajikistan's mineral resources. Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc. KAZAKHSTAN RESISTS RUSSIAN PRESSURE ON OIL LICENSES. A Kazakhstani official of the international consortium developing oil resources on the Caspian Sea shelf was quoted in the 31 March issue of The Journal of Commerce as saying that during his recent visit to Moscow Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev did not discuss a Russian request to join the consortium. The Russian Ministry of Energy had submitted a memorandum requesting that Russian oil companies be given priority in the granting of exploration licenses and to admit a Russian oil company to the existing consortium. The same official reported that agreement has been reached between Russian and Kazakhstani authorities on expansion of the Novorossiisk oil terminal to accommodate increased oil exports from Kazakhstan. Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc. CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE MUSLIMS AND CROATS KILLED IN PRIJEDOR AREA. International media reported over the Easter weekend that Serbs killed 17 Muslims and two Croats in Prijedor, northwestern Bosnia, a traditional hotbed of Serbian nationalism. The 2 April Washington Post quoted US Ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith as calling the murders "a program of Nazi-style reprisal killings" in apparent revenge for the deaths of six Serb policemen in fighting elsewhere. Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic promised to catch and punish those responsible for the Prijedor murders, in which some elderly people had been burned alive in their homes, saying they were "criminal acts of murder, not ethnic killings," the BBC reported on 3 April. Karadzic later went back on a promise to let any Muslims and Croats wanting to leave to do so, however, apparently preferring the ongoing slow but steady exodus to a mass evacuation. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. BIG SERB OFFENSIVE IN EASTERN BOSNIA. The Washington Post reported on 3 April that Bosnian Serb forces were launching new attacks on Gorazde and other besieged Muslim areas in an apparent move to consolidate Serb conquests. AFP said on 5 April that the Serbs broke through Muslim lines south of the town the previous night. Tanjug on 2 April described the fighting as the worst in the area since the Serbs invaded almost two years ago. UN commander Sir Michael Rose told the BBC on 3 April that the Serbs "do not pose a serious threat" to the town, but on 4 April the BBC said Gorazde's mayor invited Rose to come and see for himself the results of fighting that left 70 dead and 200 wounded in the town in just six days. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. ROMANIA--BALKAN'S BROKER? Upon his return from Greece on 1 April, President Ion Iliescu was quoted by Radio Bucharest as saying that he had carried a message from Turkish President Suleiman Demirel to the Greek leadership. Iliescu also said that, having hosted Croatian President Franjo Tudjman in Bucharest in mid-February, Romania will host Serbia's President Slobodan Milosevic on 5 April, and Bosnia-Herzegovina's President Alija Izetbegovic at the end of the month. Iliescu said that Romania was striving to enhance its role as a "stability-factor" in the Balkans. Presidential spokesman Traian Chebeleu said on the same day that Milosevic's visit was "part and parcel of Romania's efforts to back up and give impetus to the peace process in former Yugoslavia." He added that Romania was in favor of easing the embargo against rump Yugoslavia, since the embargo had manifestly "not helped the search for a peaceful solution in the area." Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc. WALESA VETOES WAGE CONTROLS. President Lech Walesa refused on 31 March to sign into law a liberalized version of the tax on excess wages (or neopopiwek), PAP reports. The tax, set to take effect on 1 April when the current wage regulations expire, would have affected firms with at least 80% state ownership. All Polish governments since 1989 have seen such wage controls as a necessary evil, designed to curb inflation and prevent wage-driven bankruptcies. Much of the ruling coalition opposes the tax, however, and the original popiwek was abolished in December on a motion from unionists in the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD). The Sejm may thus fail to muster the two-thirds majority required to override the president's veto. In explaining his decision, Walesa cited a controversial clause that would have allowed the government to extend the tax to private firms should the state's "financial equilibrium" be jeopardized. The president's motives appear to be political, however, as the veto is another blow in his battle with the SLD. Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak withheld all comment over the holidays, while the SLD's ousted finance minister and deputy prime minister, Marek Borowski, called Walesa's decision "a declaration of war." Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. POLISH PRESIDENTIAL OFFENSIVE CONTINUES. Walesa executed a further set of maneuvers designed to undermine the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) and expand his own influence. On 31 March Walesa named the conservative Catholic politician Ryszard Bender as chairman of the National Broadcasting Council. The president had demoted his first appointee, Marek Markiewicz, on 1 March, in a gesture of protest against the awarding of the single national commercial TV license to the PolSat company. The Constitutional Tribunal is now considering the legality of Walesa's move. Bender was criticized by some of his colleagues for appearing to assist Walesa in his attempt to subordinate the council; he assured reporters, however, that he would welcome Markiewicz's reinstatement. Walesa also moved to wrest defense matters from the government's hands. Defense Minister Piotr Kolodziejczyk told reporters on 31 March that the president will request a ruling from the Constitutional Tribunal on "parliamentary interference" in the defense budget. The 1994 budget requires the defense ministry to spend 300 billion zloty ($14 million) on Polish-made aircraft. Kolodziejczyk also reneged on an earlier pledge to name a deputy defense minister from the SLD, arguing that "the coalition, in voting for the budget, had declared itself against the state's defense interests." Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. CZECH PREMIER IN MOSCOW. Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus arrived in Moscow on 4 April for a two-day visit. On 5 April Klaus is scheduled to meet Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Premier Viktor Chernomyrdin. They are to discuss bilateral issues, including Moscow's estimated $3 billion debt to Prague. Klaus is also to sign an agreement on trade and to encourage investments between Russia and the Czech Republic. Prior to his departure, Klaus told journalists in Prague that he expected Russia to propose a barter agreement to settle the debt issue. Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc. SECOND WAVE OF VOUCHER PRIVATIZATION IN SLOVAKIA. Peter Weiss, chairman of the Democratic Left Party, told journalists in Trencin on 29 March that the new Slovak government and the parties that support it plan to begin the second wave of voucher privatization in August or September 1994. Slovakia participated in the first wave of voucher privatization in 1992, when it was still part of Czechoslovakia; however, while the Czech Republic went ahead with the second wave of voucher privatization after the split, the government of Vladimir Meciar opted for what it called "standard forms of privatization," such as direct sales. Weiss said that his party has always been in favor of another wave of voucher privatization because it "enables citizens to take part in the privatization process who would not otherwise have the money to do so." On 31 March, a spokesman for the privatization ministry told journalists that the process of privatization in Slovakia has come to a standstill and the government is considering new methods of speeding it up. Some 30% of Slovakia's state assets had been privatized by June 1992, but only 3% since then. Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc. HUNGARY APPLIES FOR EUROPEAN UNION MEMBERSHIP. On 1 April Hungary became the first former communist bloc country to apply officially for membership in the EU, Western media report. Foreign Minister Geza Jeszenszky submitted the application to the EU's Greek presidency in Athens. Jeszenszky told reporters that membership in the EU "will make our course toward Europe final and assure the security and integrity of Hungary." Edith Oltay, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIAN PRIME MINISTER IN HUNGARY. At the conclusion of his two-day official visit to Hungary on 1 April Victor Chernomyrdin and his Hungarian counterpart Peter Boross signed agreements on the payment of Russia's debt of $800 million to Hungary and on excluding double taxation, MTI reports. Under the agreement, part of the debt will be paid by allowing Hungarian businessmen to acquire Russian property and participate in Russian privatization. Negotiations are under way about debt payments through the delivery of Russian weapons and spare parts. (Russia last year gave Hungary 28 MiG-29s war planes to settle half of its debt.) The ministers for foreign trade signed a protocol on trade in 1994. Chernomyrdin expressed the hope that the two countries' trade turnover would double or triple. In 1993 Hungary ranked seventh among Russia's economic partners while Russia was Hungary's second most important partner. Both sides agreed the agreements were a significant step forward in bilateral relations. Edith Oltay, RFE/RL, Inc. NEW HUNGARIAN CHANNEL BROADCASTS FROM HOLLAND. Circumventing Hungary's current moratorium on the distribution of frequencies, the entrepreneur Johann Spischak began on 2 April to broadcast from Holland to satellite dish owners and cable television subscribers, MTI and Western media report. The new BP1 channel's program includes movies, sports, music, and five 30-minute news broadcasts daily. Spischak said he wants his news programming to become a reliable source of objective reporting for the whole region, with subtitles now available on teletext in German, Slovak, Serb, Croat and Romanian. Some 50% of Hungarian households are hooked up to cable and satellite TV. Edith Oltay, RFE/RL, Inc. ROMANIAN-HUNGARIAN TENSIONS. The Chairman of the Chamber of Deputies, Adrian Nastase (who is also the executive chairman of the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania) said in a declaration released by Rompres on 31 March that Romania should introduce visa requirements for visiting officials from neighboring Hungary. Nastase claimed that Hungarian officials entering Romania as tourists engage in official activities that should have been cleared with the Romanian authorities ahead of time, and that this was an infringement of Romanian sovereignty. He referred specifically to the activities of Geza Enz, a Hungarian official in charge of Hungarians living in neighboring countries, who awarded medals to persons of Hungarian origin during a tour of Transylvania. Nastase accused the Hungarian government of attempting to make electoral capital in connection with the forthcoming elections and of extending the campaign beyond Hungary's borders. At a press conference in Cluj on the same day, Enz said that his visit to Romania had a private, "but also an official character," since he had been invited by the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania and the Romanian Foreign Ministry had been duly informed on the invitation. Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc. ZHELEV WITHDRAWS SUPPORT FOR GOVERNMENT. In an interview with Bulgarian TV on 2 April, Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev said that the government of Lyuben Berov has failed during its 15-month reign to implement the chief goals of its program, and that he can no longer support it politically. Rejecting allegations that he is seeking to oust Berov--his former economic adviser--Zhelev said he can not remain indifferent when the government's activities are beginning to destabilize the country. He particularly criticized to the slow pace of privatization, the agricultural reform, the absence of improvements in communications infrastructure, and the cabinet's failure to deal effectively with the recent dramatic devaluation of the domestic currency. Zhelev deplored the fact that Berov had chosen to work closely with the excommunist Bulgarian Socialist Party, which he said had sought to rule the country without carrying immediate responsibility for it. Although acting Premier Evgeni Matinchev on 4 April characterized the president's as remarks as "largely emotional," statements by the three key parliamentary factions suggested that the cabinet does indeed face increasing opposition. While the political executives of the BSP and the MRF warned that continued backing would rely on major policy changes, UDF Chairman Filip Dimitrov said Berov should step down within four or five weeks. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc. BULGARIA INTRODUCES VAT, HIGHER POWER CHARGES. On 1 April Bulgaria introduced an 18-percent value added tax on most goods, plus higher charges for electricity, power heating and coal. Both measures have been opposed by part of the population, who fear they will be an obstacle for businessmen as well as bringing hardship for many households. According to Pari of 4 April, several economists are also concerned that such rising costs will add to the already strong inflationary pressure. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIAN BORDER GUARD KILLED ON ESTONIAN BORDER. Early in the morning on 1 April two unknown men opened fire when stopped by three Russian border guards at the Estonian-Russian border near Pechory, killing private Valerii Tsygankov and wounding the other two, BNS reports. Estonian ambassador Juri Kahn was called to the Russian Foreign Ministry and asked for help in apprehending the perpetrators, who were believed to have fled to Estonia. Kahn said that Russia considered the incident to have been of a criminal rather than political nature. The two have not been caught so far. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIAN VISA REQUIRED FOR LITHUANIAN CITIZENS. On 1 April the Russian embassy in Vilnius sent a document to the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry announcing that from 28 April Lithuanian citizens would need visas to travel to Russia, Interfax reports. Citizens of the former USSR who have not acquired Lithuanian, Russian, or other CIS state citizenship will be allowed to enter Russia without a visa until 6 February 1995. Lithuania introduced a visa regime for Russia and other CIS states in November 1993, but allowed an invitation registered by its migration services to be used as a visa. On 24 March Lithuania agreed to postpone the visa requirement for residents of the Kaliningrad oblast for three more months. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. RESULTS OF RUNOFF ELECTIONS IN UKRAINE. Runoff elections were held in 29 electoral districts on 2 and 3 April. The latest counts indicate that the Communists and Socialists won ten more seats while 19 others went to independent candidates, Interfax reported on 4 April. A total of 78 parliamentary seats have now been filled. Of these 20 are held by Communists, four by Socialists and two by the Peasants' Party, bringing the total number of seats held by left-wing candidates to 26. Some 15 seats were won by members of right-wing and democratic groups. The remaining victors claim to be independent. A new round of voting to the country's 450-seat parliament will be held in the remaining 368 districts on 9 and 10 April. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. UKRAINE SAYS IT HAS PAID GAZPROM. Deputy Prime Minister Valentyn Landyk told Interfax on 1 April that Ukraine has fulfilled its obligation to pay Gazprom $100 million by that date. Landyk also said that President Leonid Kravchuk would soon issue a decree on setting up a joint stock company, Ukrneftehaz, in which Ukraine would hold the controlling shares. According to Landyk, Russia would have no more than 30% of the company's shares and "thus, nobody can accuse us of selling off Ukraine." The government intends to continue warning Ukrainian enterprises about the possibility of cuts in gas supplies from Russia. Talks on gas supplies between Russia and Ukraine are to resume on 10 April. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. SHUSHKEVICH ON BELARUSIAN ELECTION LAW. The former chairman of the Belarusian Supreme Soviet, Stanislau Shushkevich, has blasted the new electoral law as undemocratic in nature, Interfax reported on 4 April. On 1 April Belarusian TV reported that Shushkevich was nominated by the association of democratic parties, "Spring-94," to run as their presidential candidate. The new election law requires candidates to gather the signatures of 70 parliamentary deputies or 100,000 Belarusian citizens within fourteen days in order to qualify for the presidential race. As the democratic opposition holds only 10% of the seats in parliament (out of a total of 347), Shushkevich may not be able to garner enough support there. The election law has also been criticized by the opposition leader Zyanon Paznyak, who says it favors the candidacy of prime minister Vyacheslau Kebich. The 120 strong conservative "Belarus" faction in parliament has said it would uphold Kebich's nomination, which ensures his nomination. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. BELARUS ON MONETARY UNION. Another round of negotiations on the proposed Russian-Belarusian monetary union is to be held in Moscow on 5 April, Interfax reported on 4 April. The Belarusian government delegation will be led by first Deputy Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich. According to Myasnikovich, Belarus will insist that the entire package of documents providing for the unification of the two monetary systems be signed despite the opposition of individual Russian officials. Several Russian officials have opposed the terms Belarus wants for monetary union as detrimental to the Russian economy. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Suzanne Crow and Anna Swidlicka 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. 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