The only thing one knows about human nature is that it changes. - Oscar Wilde
RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 66, 7 April 1994

RUSSIA

YELTSIN ENDORSES MILITARY BASES ABROAD. According to Interfax,
ITAR-TASS reported on 6 April that Russian President Boris Yeltsin
had issued a directive endorsing a Defense Ministry proposal that
would allow Moscow to establish military bases in CIS member
states and in Latvia for the purpose of maintaining Russian
security and for testing new military hardware. Neither the text
of the directive nor the original ITAR-TASS report were available
however. Interfax quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigorii
Karasin as saying he knew nothing about the directive and that all
military relations with Latvia at least had been settled on the
basis of bilateral agreements, a remark suggesting some confusion
in Moscow. That conclusion appears to be corroborated by a
subsequent Interfax report alleging that a technical mistake in
the wording of the original document was being corrected. On 28
February Russia's General Staff Chief had outlined Moscow's
intention to establish 30 military bases abroad on the basis of
bilateral agreements with CIS member-states, and the Yeltsin
directive would appear to signify approval of that plan.  Stephen
Foye, RFE/RL, Inc.

PROTEST AGAINST DECREE. On 6 April Maris Riekstins, State
Secretary of the Latvian Foreign Ministry, issued a protest to
Russian ambassador Aleksandr Rannikh over the signing on 5 April
of a presidential decree to create 30 Russian military bases in
the territory of CIS states and Latvia, Baltic and Western
agencies reported. Rannikh promised to seek clarification from
Moscow. After an emergency Cabinet session, Latvian Prime Minister
Valdis Birkavs said that the decree contradicted the agreements
initialed on 15 March. Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis issued a
statement declaring that the decree was a threat to European
security and it raised questions about Russia's real aims in
negotiations with Latvia. Latvia would never agree to have Russian
military bases in its territory, he said. His office reported that
Ulmanis had tried unsuccessfully to contact Yeltsin and the
Commander of the North-West Group of Forces, General Leonid
Mayorov. The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry issued a statement
supporting Latvia's desire for the withdrawal of Russian troops
and declaring that only Latvia had the right to decide what
military bases could be on its territory.  Saulius Girnius,
RFE/RL, Inc.

YELTSIN ON NATO PARTNERSHIP. In an interview with Interfax on 6
April Yeltsin was quoted as saying that Moscow was seeking a
"special agreement" under NATO's "Partnership for Peace" program
that would take into account Russia's "role and place in world and
European affairs--the military strength and nuclear status of our
country." He said that the relationship between Russia and NATO
"must have a character distinct from that of other countries."
While seeming to agree that Russia would shortly sign a "framework
agreement" for participation in the partnership program, Yeltsin
suggested that implementation would be worked out only at a later
date. His remarks appear to be an attempt to reconcile the
conflicting views of his Defense and Foreign Ministries, which
have generally favored participation, and various parliamentary
factions, whose leaders have been outspoken opponents of it.
Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc.

YELTSIN ON HIS POLITICAL PRIORITIES. President Boris Yeltsin told
Interfax on 6 April that he regards a consideration of his
candidacy for a second presidential term as "premature." He stated
that the envisioned civic peace accord will hopefully bring an end
to the power struggle and added that an increasing number of
politicians are expressing their desire to join the accord. In his
opinion, political goals should, from now on, be achieved only
through democratic elections. Yeltsin said that in the remaining
two years of his tenure, he intends to focus on three major
problems: first, streamlining the relationship between the
executive, legislative and juridicial powers; second, stabilizing
the territorial integrity of the Russian federation; and third,
solving the country's economic problems.  Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL,
Inc.

PARLIAMENT REJECTS KAZANNIK'S RESIGNATION. In a vote by secret
ballot on 6 April, the Council of the Federation refused to
approve the resignation of former Prosecutor General, Aleksei
Kazannik, who resigned in March to protest what he termed the
illegal pressure of Yeltsin and his aides, Yurii Baturin and
Georgii Satarov. All three, Kazannik said, had forced him to
sabotage the constitution and laws, including the controversial
political amnesty, announced by the State Duma in February. The
constitution provides that holders of the post are to be appointed
by the president and approved by the higher chamber of the
parliament. Altogether 145 members of the Council of the
Federation took part in the vote on 6 April; 74 of them voted
against accepting Kazannik's resignation, and 64 for it. Yeltsin,
however, informed the parliament later that day that Aleksei
Ilyushenko would continue serving as the Acting
Prosecutor-General. Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL, Inc.

RUTSKOI GATHERS STRENGTH. Former Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi
seems to have strengthened his political positions. His spokesman,
Andrei Fedorov, told AFP on 6 April that Rutskoi's new alliance
"Concord for Russia" has about one million members. Another
spokesman claimed that Rutskoi's alliance has gathered support
from 50 percent of the deputies of the State Duma. Fedorov stated
that the alliance plans to meet by the end of May to map its
strategy. The alliance is considered Rutskoi's major support
organization for the next presidential elections. It has been
joined by several influential nationalist and communist leaders.
Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, Inc.

RUTSKOI ON ZHIRINOVSKY. Former Vice President Rutskoi has called
his right-wing competitor for the post of president, nationalist
Vladimir Zhirinovsky, "a clinical case." Rutskoi told the French
newspaper L'Evenement Du Jeudi on 5 April that one should only
listen to Zhirinovsky's statements to find out that "he is above
all a clinical case." Nevertheless, Rutskoi did not exclude the
possibility of Zhirinovsky becoming Russia's next president "if
anarchy takes over in the country." Rutskoi stated that
Zhirinovsky is probably really concerned about Russia's fate but
that he can't take him seriously as a politician. Rutskoi added
that he has never met Zhirinovsky. Meanwhile, it was announced
that the LDP leader would be part of the Russian parliamentary
delegation to the session of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg
next week.  Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, Inc.

AIRLINE HEAD DISPUTES AIRBUS STORIES. The head of Russian
International Airlines, an Aeroflot offshoot, has disputed a
report issued by the Ministry of Transport claiming that the
pilot's children were at the controls of the Airbus A-310 which
crashed in Siberia. According to an ITAR-TASS report on 6 April,
Valerii Eksuzyan told Trud that the black box recordings might
have picked up the voices of passengers through the open cockpit
door and that further investigation was required to determine the
cause of the crash. On the same day Interfax reported that
Vladimir Mokrinsky, who heads a subcommission investigating the
accident, called the Ministry's statements "absolutely groundless"
and noted that investigation results would not be available for at
least two weeks. Interfax also reported that if the crew is found
responsible for the crash, Russian International Airlines might
have to pay approximately $65 million for the aircraft, possibly
forcing it into bankruptcy. Indeed, the Financial Times on 6 April
reported that the British Aviation Insurance Group, the lead
underwriter for the Airbus deal, is waiting for investigation
results before deciding whether to raise premiums for the airline.
John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc.

MOSCOW MAYOR SUSPENDS PRIVATIZATION. The mayor of Moscow, Yurii
Luzhkov, has temporarily suspended privatization in the city,
ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported on 5 and 6 April. In a decree
issued on 6 April, Luzhkov ordered a halt to the privatization of
buildings, installations, and office space until the publication
of a long-awaited decree by President Yeltsin on the privatization
program in Moscow. Luzhkov has been one of the most prominent and
vocal opponents of the nation-wide privatization campaign led by
Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais and has insisted on doing
his own thing. On 9 February, Interfax quoted Chubais as saying:
"I cannot be responsible for Moscow privatization. Privatization
in Moscow is run personally by Mayor Luzhkov." As far as is known,
President Yeltsin has never come out unequivocally on the side of
Chubais in this prolonged dispute. ITAR-TASS on 24 November
reported that Yeltsin had instructed Luzhkov to draft a decree on
a specific program for privatization in the capital.  Keith Bush,
RFE/RL, Inc.

POOR GRAIN HARVEST IN 1994 POSSIBLE. Deputy Prime Minister
Aleksandr Zaveryukha has warned that spring sowing could take
place this year "at a low agrotechnical level" and, as a result,
"a significant portion of the crop will be lost," Interfax
reported on 6 April. The original official projection of this
year's grain harvest was 85-89 million tons, but experts were
cited as predicting a lower outturn at just over 75 million tons.
There is little doubt that conditions and preparations down on the
farm are what official spokesmen have chosen to term as
"complicated," but Zaveryukha's warning may also be seen as a part
of the farm lobby's campaign for a bigger handout from the 1994
federal budget. The leader of the agrarian faction in the State
Duma told Interfax on 1 April that he will fight to raise the farm
subsidy from 9 to 20 trillion rubles.  Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc.

NUCLEAR POWER WORKERS PROTEST. Some 150 workers representing
Russia's nuclear power plants staged a protest outside the Russian
White House on 5 April, ITAR-TASS reported. They demanded a
meeting with President Yeltsin and called on the Russian
parliament to pass legislation guaranteeing funding for the
nuclear energy sector. A union official said nuclear power workers
have not been paid for three months and that an acute shortage of
funds is preventing routine repair and maintenance work at nuclear
plants. Meanwhile, Russian coalminers have threatened to hold a
nationwide strike on 13 April if they have not received the back
pay they are owed by then. Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Shokhin
has promised that the miners will be paid in full this month.
Elizabeth Teague, RFE/RL, Inc.

RUSSIAN-TURKISH TALKS. The possibility of creating an
international consortium with Russian, Azerbaijani, Turkish and US
participation to construct an oil pipeline between Russia and
Turkey was discussed at a meeting between Russian and Turkish
government officials in Moscow on 6 April, Russian First Deputy
Premier Oleg Soskovets told Interfax on 6 April. Construction of
the pipeline, the exact route of which was not disclosed, would
resolve the Russian-Turkish tensions that have arisen over
Turkey's plans to introduce more stringent regulations for the
passage of shipping through the Bosphorus. Also on 6 April,
Turkey's Minister for Shipping, Ibrahim Tez, was quoted by Reuters
as stating that Turkey advocates revising the terms of the 1936
Treaty of Montreux governing shipping through the Bosphorus.  Liz
Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc.

                  TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

AZERBAIJAN TO JOIN PARTNERSHIP FOR PEACE. On 6 April Western
agencies quoted NATO officials in Brussels as stating that
Azerbaijan's President Geidar Aliev will travel to Brussels to
enroll his country in NATO's Partnership for Peace program on 27
April. Fourteen former East bloc nations have already joined the
program, including Georgia; Armenia has held talks with NATO
officials, but not yet come to a decision on participation.  Liz
Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc.

                    CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

CROATIAN RULING PARTY SPLITS. Vjesnik reports on 7 April that
upper house speaker Josip Manolic and his lower house counterpart
Stipe Mesic have founded a new party, the Independent Democrats
(ND). This effectively means that the liberal wing of the ruling
Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) has left that organization
after months of public feuding with President Franjo Tudjman over
Bosnian policy and the president's authoritarian style. Manolic
was stripped of his HDZ offices just before Easter, and Mesic was
widely expected to meet the same fate on 13 April. Depending on
how many HDZ deputies join the two speakers, Tudjman's party could
lose its majority in one or both houses, thereby prompting new
elections, which are not due until 1996. It is not clear how the
ND will differ in its program from other center-left parties.
Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc.

SERBS BLOCK GEN. ROSE FROM GORAZDE. International media reported
on 6 and 7 April that Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic halted
the UN commander in Bosnia General Michael Rose at the Serb
headquarters in Pale. The Serbs nonetheless allowed some of Rose's
staff to continue on a fact-finding mission to Gorazde. Rose then
returned to Sarajevo to see about setting up an overall ceasefire
as Karadzic proposed. Meanwhile in New York, the Security Council
said it was "deeply concerned at the continuing violence" in
Gorazde, while in Ankara Turkish, Bosnian, and Croatian
representatives called for international action to end the Serb
assault.  Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc.

EU PRESSURES GREECE TO RELINQUISH MACEDONIAN BLOCKADE . . . On 6
April the European Commission urged Greece to end its trade
blockade against landlocked Macedonia, or face a court case for
violating the EU Treaty. Western agencies quoted EU External
Relations Commissioner Hans van den Broek as calling on both
countries--which disagree on the name, flag and constitution of
the former Yugoslav republic--to resume talks, but at the same
time warning Athens that it has only one week to reconsider its
policy. If Greece ignores the ultimatum, van den Broek said, the
Commission will ask the European Court of Justice to step in. The
Greek government, which judging from recent mass demonstrations
appears to have the support of a large segment of the population,
argues that Macedonia currently represents a threat to its
national security and that the economic embargo is a lawful means
to defend its interests. In Athens, a spokesman for the Greek
Chiefs of Staff rejected claims by Macedonian President Kiro
Gligorov that Athens has ordered more troops to the common border.
Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc.

. . . WHILE SKOPJE IS COUNTING THE COSTS. The Financial Times of 6
April reports that Macedonian authorities estimate the monthly
costs of the blockade at some $80 million. The figure, roughly
equivalent to 85% of the country's total export earnings, is the
result both of lost trade opportunities and of more expensive
transportation. The embargo has already had a negative impact on
the industrial and labor market, and fears that the economic
crisis may trigger even more serious social and ethnic tensions
appear to be growing. Citing evidence of a growing rift between
Macedonian Slavs and the minority Albanians, The Times of 6 April
says Macedonia "is creeping inexorably towards an internal
collapse similar to that which prefaced the war in Bosnia." Kjell
Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc.

SANDZAK MUSLIMS DO NOT WANT UNION WITH BOSNIA. The spokesman of
the Muslim National Council in Sandzak, Azem Hajdarevic, has
denied that the leader of the ethnic Muslim Party of Democratic
Action (SDA), Sulejman Ugljanin, wants to unite the region with
Bosnia-Herzegovina. He described such allegations as the "pure
imagination of the Serbian and Montenegrin media," according to a
5 April Borba report. Nonetheless, he said that Ugljanin expects
Bosnia-Herzegovina, which is the Sandzak Muslims' "motherland," to
help save them. Rasim Ljajic, who has led the SDA since Ugljanin
left the country in June 1993 to avoid arrest for "endangering the
territorial integrity" of rump Yugoslavia, said, however, that "a
union of Sandzak and Bosnia is just a wish but no political
reality." Fabian Schmidt, RFE/RL, Inc.

PAWLAK CALLS ON SEJM TO OVERRIDE VETO. Prime Minister Waldemar
Pawlak met with the parliamentary caucuses of the two ruling
parties on 6 April to urge them to overturn the president's veto
on the new tax on excess wages, PAP reports. This tax is designed
to prevent inflationary wage growth in state firms. President Lech
Walesa vetoed the bill on 31 March, one day before it was to take
effect; state firms now face no external controls on wage growth.
The Sejm is expected to consider the veto on 7 April. Polish
Peasant Party (PSL) officials expressed concern that state firms
are already shifting funds earmarked for investment to cover wage
increases, but PAP reports that most firms are in fact waiting for
the Sejm vote. The vote to override could be very close, as
unionist deputies from the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) as well
as most opposition parties are expected to endorse the veto. Both
the SLD and PSL seemed willing to remove the clause in the bill
that would allow the government to extend the tax to private
firms; this is the clause Walesa criticized most. Such an
amendment can be made only after the bill has become a law,
however.  Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc.

WALESA ACCEPTS TALKS WITH COALITION. During his two-hour meeting
with the SLD caucus, Pawlak apparently dispelled suspicions that
he has an implicit pact with the president to undermine the SLD's
position in the coalition. The two parties seem to have agreed on
a plan of action to deal with Walesa's campaign against the
coalition. Pawlak met with Dariusz Rosati, the coalition's
candidate for finance minister, on 6 April, PAP reports, but the
government's press office withheld all comment on the outcome of
the meeting pending the return of SLD leader Aleksander
Kwasniewski to Poland. President Lech Walesa is to meet with Sejm
Speaker Jozef Oleksy (SLD) on 7 April, but a spokesman ruled out
any reconsideration of Rosati's candidacy. A high-ranking
presidential official indicated on 6 April that the president
plans to veto the local government election law as amended by the
coalition parties.  Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc.

JARUZELSKI, KISZCZAK OFF THE HOOK? The Sejm's Constitutional
Responsibility Commission voted on 6 April to halt proceedings
against former President Wojciech Jaruzelski and former Internal
Affairs Minister Czeslaw Kiszczak for ordering the destruction of
stenographic records of Politburo meetings from 1982-89. The Sejm
is expected to endorse the commission's decision. The same
commission in the previous Sejm had voted to press charges against
Jaruzelski and Kiszczak before the State Tribunal, but the
dissolution of the parliament in May intervened. Jaruzelski admits
to having ordered the files destroyed in December 1989 but argues
that they were unreliable as historical documents. Archivists and
historians disagree, as the documents recorded Politburo
discussions of the murder of Father Jerzy Popieluszko, for
example, as well as the party's relations with the Church and the
opposition. Commission Chairman Jerzy Wiatr (SLD) argued that the
decision to halt prosecution was based on procedural flaws and
denied that the commission had political motives.  Louisa Vinton,
RFE/RL, Inc.

KLAUS ON VICTIMS OF COMMUNISM. Speaking at a press conference in
Prague on 6 April, Czech Premier Vaclav Klaus said that the vast
majority of damage claims against the former communist regime have
been settled by Czech courts. More than 200,000 requests for legal
rehabilitation and compensation have been resolved; some 2.7
billion koruny have been paid to the victims of the communist
regime. Some 4,800 cases still remain.  Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc.

SLOVAK CABINET PRESENTS POLICY STATEMENT. The new Slovak
government, which was installed on 16 March, presented its policy
statement on 6 April. Deputy premier for economic issues, Brigita
Schmoegnerova, said that, despite the large budget deficit
inherited from the previous government, the cabinet hoped to meet
the macroeconomic goals laid out in the 1994 state budget: zero
GDP growth, maximum unemployment of 17%, and annual inflation of
10 to 13%. To increase state budget receipts, the cabinet proposed
increasing tax on alcohol and tobacco, and measures to limit tax
evasion. According to Schmoegnerova, the most important tasks of
the new cabinet are to prevent further economic decline, establish
conditions for economic growth, reach macro-economic stability,
and enhance the development of small and medium business. Measures
to improve infrastructure, tourism and the environment are also
planned. On the microeconomic level the cabinet will focus on
changes in ownership, support of the private sector, and export
policy. The parliament will discuss the statement in a special
session on 12 April, TASR reports.  Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc.

SLOVAK PRIVATIZATION BODY ELECTED. On 6 April the Slovak
parliament approved eight new members for the nine-member
Presidium of the National Property Fund (FNM), which administers
the privatization process, TASR reports. Rudolf Janac, who was
nominated by the Party of the Democratic Left, was elected
President, with Viliam Vaskovic, nominated by the center
coalition, as Vice President. Voting on the final member of the
Presidium will take place at the next parliamentary session, as
none of the other candidates received the majority of votes
required for election. The parliament rejected the seven new
candidates proposed to the FNM's supervisory council.  Sharon
Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc.

BAVARIAN PREMIER PROPOSES PARTIAL EU MEMBERSHIP. On 6 April Edmund
Stoiber said during an official visit to Budapest that the
European Union should institute partial membership for associate
members during the period leading up to full membership, MTI
reports. He proposed that partial membership extend to areas where
associate members are already able to cooperate on an equal
footing with the West, such as foreign and security policy, and
refugee affairs. Defense Minister Lajos Fur welcomed the proposal,
saying that partial EU membership would be of vital interest to
Hungary. At meetings with President Arpad Goncz and Prime Minister
Peter Boross, Stoiber reiterated that Bavaria was determined to
promote the European integration of Central East European
countries. Edith Oltay, RFE/RL, Inc.

HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES LAND LAW. On 6 April the Hungarian
parliament passed, by 149 votes to 62 and 19 abstentions, a law
restricting the acquisition of agricultural land, MTI reports. The
law limits the size of land that can be bought by private
individuals to 300 hectares, and bans the sale of arable land and
land in conservation areas to foreign individuals and companies.
Firms which are partially foreign owned and have their seats in
Hungary are exempted from the ban. Months of emotional debate
preceded the passage of the law, with deputies charging that
allowing foreigners to acquire arable land would mean the
country's sellout to foreign capital.  Edith Oltay, RFE/RL, Inc.

BULGARIAN DEFENSE MINISTER ON RETIREMENT OF OFFICERS. At a press
conference in Sofia on 6 April, Bulgarian Defense Minister
Valentin Aleksandrov corrected recent press reports on sweeping
reductions in the officer corps, explaining that the reforms
underway do not mean overall staff cuts but early retirement for a
total of 2,886 senior and 1,500 non-commissioned officers.
Aleksandrov told BTA that senior officers over 50 and NCOs without
secondary education will be asked to retire during the next couple
of months. He also forecast probable reductions in the ministry's
civilian staff of 5,000. At a separate press conference, Socialist
Party leader Jean Videnov said the envisaged "shock retirement" of
Bulgarian military personnel can improve neither national security
nor the quality of the army. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc.

NATO, BELGIAN OFFICIALS IN BUCHAREST. US General George Joulwan,
Supreme Allied Commander Europe, visited Romania on 5 and 6 April.
Radio Bucharest said that military cooperation between Romania and
NATO, especially the Partnership for Peace program, figured high
on Joulwan's agenda. On 6 April the general met Romanian President
Ion Iliescu, Premier Nicolae Vacaroiu and Defense Minister
Gheorghe Tinca. Belgian Foreign Minister Willy Claes also started
a three-day official visit to Romania on 6 April. Claes will
discuss Romania's relationship with NATO and the Western European
Union, as well its integration into the European Union.  Dan
Ionescu, RFE/RL, Inc.

ROMANIAN CABINET APPROVES AUSTERITY BUDGET. Romania's government
approved on 6 April a draft 1994 budget which sets tight limits on
spending while cutting back on expenditure, Radio Bucharest and
Western agencies report. A cabinet spokesman said that the budget
had been drafted in keeping with recommendations made by the IMF.
Radio Bucharest quoted Finance Minister Florin Georgescu as saying
that the budget will require reductions among government
employees. The planned deficit amounts to 3.5% of Romania's GDP.
The budget will give priority to several capital projects
including completion by the end of the year of the first reactor
at the Cernavoda nuclear power plant. The budget, which was
delayed for several months, has to be passed by both chambers of
parliament.  Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL, Inc.

UKRAINIAN-CRIMEAN TUG OF WAR INTENSIFYING. The war of words and of
laws between Kiev and Simferopol has been heating up. On 6 April
Ukrainian TV reported that President Leonid Kravchuk issued a
decree annulling an earlier one, issued on 31 March by Crimea's
President Yurii Meshkov, dismissing the local director of the
Ukrainian State Television and Radio Company, Valerii Astakhov.
According to Interfax, at a press conference in Kiev that same
day, Kravchuk once again accused Meshkov of violating both
Ukrainian and Crimean laws and repeated the offer to broaden
Crimea's already considerable economic autonomy. Last week
Kravchuk appointed a representative of the Ukrainian president in
Crimea. On 6 April, Meshkov said on Radio Rossiya that he
considered this to be a "political provocation." Radio Rossiya
also cited Meshkov's military adviser and former commander of the
Soviet forces in Crimea, identified only as General Kuznetsov, as
declaring that the peninsula is in essence Russian and that it is
"flowing toward Russia." There is no need to declare Crimea's
secession from Ukraine, Kuznetsov added; "Ukraine will
disintegrate by itself. Economically, it is not capable of
existing as a state." Bohdan Nahaylo, RFE/RL, Inc.

BELARUSIAN ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION DISBANDED. On 1 April the
government disbanded the interim parliamentary anti-corruption
commission, Belarusian radio reported on 6 April. Earlier the head
of the commission, Aleksandr Lukashenka, had alleged that he had
documents proving that some 50 top government officials were
guilty of abuse of office and corruption. Government spokesman
Uladzimir Zamyatalin had denounced the allegations as a means of
attracting voter attention and discrediting government officials
by Lukashenka, who is making a bid for the presidency. Following
the liquidation of the commission, its offices were reportedly
searched on 4-5 April. According to the head of the parliamentary
legislation commission, Dzmitry Bulakhau, the unidentified
searchers could not have found anything significant since the most
important papers had been moved to a more secure place.  Ustina
Markus, RFE/RL, Inc.

RUSSIA RETRACTS ON WITHDRAWAL FROM ESTONIA. The 18th round of
negotiations between Estonia and Russia on the withdrawal of
Russian troops, held in Moscow on 5-6 April, ended with Russia
withdrawing its pledge to depart by 31 August, Western agencies
report. Russia's chief negotiator Vasilii Svirin said: "That date
is no longer valid. When things are a bit clearer, Russia will set
a new date." Russia changed its position because Estonia refused
to amend its laws to grant all Russian military retirees permanent
residency in Estonia and provide $23 million to construct housing
for the withdrawing troops. Estonia's negotiating team head Vaino
Reinart said many of the retirees had served in the KGB and were a
threat to Estonian security. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc.

NEW PRIVATIZATION COMMISSION IN LITHUANIA. On 5 April President
Algirdas Brazauskas named a new Central Privatization Commission,
BNS reported on 6 April. Seven of the twenty members of the
commission--including its new chairman, Deputy Economics Minister
Kestutis Baranauskas--had been members of the old commission that
resigned in February, protesting critical remarks on its work in
the president's annual report. The former commission head, Julius
Veselka, also resigned as Economics Minister. No replacement has
yet been named.  Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc.

  [As of 1200 CET]
  Compiled by Suzanne Crow and Anna Swidlicka
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