The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be ignited. - Plutarch
RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 70, 13 April 1994

                              RUSSIA

SHAKHRAI ON GORAZDE. Russian officials continued to criticize the
use of airstrikes near Gorazde on 12 April. Deputy Prime Minister
Sergei Shakhrai said that the casualties of the strikes included
not only the Bosnian Serbs but also Russian reformers. "The
airstrikes hit not only Serb targets but also the internal
political situation in the Russian Federation: Nationalists are
the only force that stands to gain from them in Russia," Russian
and Western agencies reported. Suzanne Crow, RFE/RL, Inc.

POSSIBLE LINKAGE OF GORAZDE AND NATO PARTNERSHIP. Ivan Rybkin, the
chairman of the State Duma, said on 13 April that the airstrikes
"could be an obstacle to Russia joining NATO's Partnership for
Peace." Similarly, Boris Yeltsin, currently on a state visit to
Spain, suggested linking the airstrikes to Russia's participation
in NATO's Partnership for Peace program, saying, "we are so far
not making a direct link . . . but we are in no hurry to sign." He
threw the target signing date of 21 April into question when he
repeated the same sentence in response to a followup question on
whether Russia still planned to sign on that date, Russian and
Western agencies reported. An Izvestiya commentary of 13 April
predicted that Yeltsin, if forced to choose between ties with the
United States and the Bosnian Serbs, would not put US-Russian ties
at risk. Suzanne Crow, RFE/RL, Inc.

DUMA REACTION. The Russian State Duma issued a statement on 12
April demanding the halt to "unilateral and unauthorized use of
military force by NATO." The statement also called on other
parliaments and countries around the world to become involved in
the peace efforts in Bosnia, ITAR-TASS reported. Suzanne Crow,
RFE/RL, Inc.

ZHIRINOVSKY ISSUES NEW THREATS. Nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky,
speaking at a session of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg,
claimed that Russia has its own understanding of democracy and
that therefore a majority of Russians were against joining the
Council of Europe and NATO, ITAR-TASS reported on 12 April.
Zhirinovsky was also quoted as saying that "it was not yet known
where the borders of Russia would be" and that the world would
have to "accept Russia's decision on this." In other remarks, he
said that "we will not allow the West to experiment on Russia
anymore" and asserted that Russia would "stop this process of
entering Europe." Zhirinovsky also said that if he becomes
president of Russian he will "tear up" the Partnership for Peace
Program with NATO. The previous day Zhirinovsky had thrown clumps
of dirt and spat at Jewish protesters who called him a fascist
outside the Council of Europe building . Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL,
Inc.

YELTSIN THINKS WORST IS OVER IN RUSSIA. Russian President Boris
Yeltsin told the Spanish parliament during the second day of his
visit to Spain that Russia has passed through the initial and most
difficult stage of its transition to a free market based democracy
and that, in terms of the reform process, the worst was over,
Russian TV reported on 12 April. Yeltsin also stated that the
stamina of the Russian people has not been exhausted and the
nation was still capable of revival. However, he said that "vices
from the past" remain strong and must be overcome through "huge
moral, intellectual and physical efforts." Yeltsin assured the
audience that the "spirit of national conciliation will become
decisive in Russia's political climate." Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL,
Inc.

GOVERNMENT MAKES PAYMENT TO RUSSIAN COALMINERS. The Russian
government has begun paying back wages to coalminers and the
secretary-general of the Independent Coalminers' Union, Eduard
Kinstler, told Reuters on 12 April that this meant that the
national strike called for 13 April will probably not take place.
Kinstler said the government has so far paid one-quarter of the
money owing and promised that the rest of the money will be paid
by the end of April. Elizabeth Teague, RFE/RL, Inc.

FORMER PRAVDA EDITOR DIES. Academician Viktor Afanasev, former
chief editor of the main communist party newspaper Pravda, died on
10 April at the age of 70, ITAR-TASS reported the following day.
Once one of the most influential journalists in the USSR, Afanasev
served as the chairman of the Union of Soviet Journalists and was
a member of the boards of many powerful party, state, and academic
bodies. He was appointed the editor of Pravda in 1976 by Leonid
Brezhnev but was fired in October 1989, after Pravda published a
translation of an article attacking Boris Yeltsin, then the leader
of the opposition to USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev in the
Soviet parliament. Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL, Inc.

PARTICIPANTS OF STUDENTS RALLY DETAINED. Ostankino TV news
reported that 12 April was marked by students rallies in several
major Russian cities, including Moscow and St. Petersburg. The
students demanded an increase in their stipends, promised to them
in a decree issued by Yeltsin a year earlier, on the eve of the
April 1993 referendum on public confidence to the Russian
president. As with many such promises made to various categories
of underpaid Russian citizens, the provision of the decree on
students has never been implemented. In the course of the
students' rally in Moscow, the "Novosti" anchor said, some
participants were detained for having disturbed public order.
Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL, Inc.

SOUTH KOREAN FOREIGN MINISTER TO MOSCOW. South Korean Foreign
Minister Han Sung-Joo arrived in Moscow on 14 April to begin a
two-day visit devoted primarily to discussions on dealing with
North Korea's suspected nuclear weapons program. According to AFP,
Han is to meet with his Russian counterpart, Andrei Kozyrev, to
discuss a Russian proposal for the convening of an international
conference, the aim of which would be to resolve the dispute over
Pyongyang's refusal to allow international inspectors access to
two sites in North Korea where nuclear weapons development
programs are thought to be underway. Moscow has opposed sanctions
or the use of force by the international community as a means of
compelling North Korea to allow the inspections, and, in an
especially harsh statement, on 29 March AFP quoted Russian Deputy
Foreign Minister Aleksandr Panov as saying that Russia would
provide military backing to North Korea under the terms of a 1961
treaty if the latter fell victim to "an aggression that it did not
provoke." Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc.

GENERAL STAFF CHIEF TO CHINA. Russian General Staff Chief Mikhail
Kolesnikov arrived in Beijing on 11 April to begin a four-day
official visit, during which he is scheduled to meet with a number
high ranking military and political leaders. As ITAR-TASS noted,
the visit falls under the auspices of a Sino-Russian military
agreement that calls for increased contacts between the two
armies, and reflects the warming of relations that has occurred
between Russia and China in recent years. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL,
Inc.

                               CIS

NO PROGRESS IN BLACK SEA FLEET TALKS. Russian-Ukrainian talks on
the Black Sea Fleet ended on 12 April without resolving problems
related to the fleet's division and without any clarification of
the Cheleken incident. The Russian delegation was headed by
special envoy Yurii Dubinin and Admiral Feliks Gromov, while the
Ukrainians were headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk.
Ukrainian radio reported that the commander of the Black Sea
Fleet, Eduard Baltin, blamed Ukraine's navy and defense ministry
for heightening political tensions and breaking the Massandra
accords. The Ukrainian Congress of National Democratic Forces
issued a statement saying that the vessels of the Black Sea Fleet
are acting in the interests of a foreign power and ignore
Ukraine's laws which state that all property on Ukraine's
territory belongs to Ukraine. Ukraine has also been highly
critical of Russian media coverage of the Cheleken incident.
According to an article in Ukraine's military daily, Narodna
armiya, and Ukrainian television, the Black Sea Fleet press
service has been spreading "provocative lies" and disinformation
regarding the incident. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc.

RUSSIAN-BELARUSIAN MONETARY UNION SIGNED. On 12 April Russian
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, and his Belarusian
counterpart, Vyacheslau Kebich, signed the long-awaited agreement
on monetary union, various agencies reported. The agreement
stipulates that the move towards monetary union will occur in two
stages. The first stage will take place on 1 May with the lifting
of trade and customs restrictions between the two countries. At
this time Russia will also be allowed the free use of strategic
arms installations in Belarus. The second stage, which is still to
be approved by the Russian and Belarusian parliaments, will allow
Belarusians to exchange their Belarusian rubles for the Russian
ruble at a 1:1 rate. The Russian central bank would then have the
sole right to issue currency and conduct monetary policy. The
chairman of the Belarusian national bank, Stanislau Bahdankevich,
had been opposed to this condition and reportedly declined to sign
the agreement. The agreement makes Belarus the second republic,
after Tajikistan, to return to the Russian monetary system. The
agreement has met with criticism in both Russia and Belarus, where
some officials view it as detrimental to their respective national
interests. Former Russian Finance Minister Boris Fyodorov was
reported to have said that the agreement would be detrimental to
Russia unless accompanied by political unification between the two
states. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc.

RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN GAS SUPPLY NEGOTIATIONS. Russian and Ukrainian
officials met on 12 April in Moscow to discuss the settlement of
Ukraine's debt to Gazprom, Interfax and AFP reported. The
delegations were led by Gazprom chairman Rem Vyakhirev and
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Valentyn Landyk. Ukraine has paid
$87 million of the $100 million it promised to pay by 10 April.
The country's total debt had been $900 million. According to
Vyakhirev, Ukraine has agreed to pay a further $600 million of its
debt by June in cash and through shares in its oil and gas
facilities. In return, Gazprom has promised to guarantee gas
deliveries through the summer. The next round of talks on fuel
supplies are to be held in Kiev on 10 May. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL,
Inc.

RUSSIANS POLLED ON MONETARY UNION, GAS CUTOFFS. On 7 April
Interfax reported the results of an opinion poll taken in March.
Russians were asked whether it would be worthwhile to have a
monetary union with Belarus or Ukraine even if it meant further
economic hardships for Russia. In response, 21% said it would be
worthwhile to have such a union with Belarus; 42% said there was
no need for it; and 29% were undecided. With regard to economic
union with Ukraine: 31% said it was worth additional economic
hardships; 44% said there was no need for it; and 25% were
undecided. On the question of enduring additional hardships for
the sake of political unification with Belarus or Ukraine, almost
one third said they were ready to put up with the hardships,
although most respondents said they were not willing to jeopardize
their well-being for the well-being of Ukrainians. A final
question asked whether it was correct for Russia to reduce gas
supplies to Ukraine over non-payment of debts: 72% agreed that
this action was appropriate; 17% disagreed with the action; and
11% were indifferent. On 8 April Interfax reported that the
Belarusian prime minister, Vyacheslau Kebich, has said that
Belarusians may be asked their opinion on the monetary union
during the 23 June presidential elections. In Kebich's opinion,
most Belarusians would favor such a union. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL,
Inc.

                    CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE


BOSNIAN SERBS DEFIANT . . . International media reported on 12
April that Serb leaders ended contacts with the UN, isolated UN
personnel in Serb-held areas, and were less than forthcoming about
the fate of a Dutch UN observer who had disappeared in Serb
territory near Zepa. Civilian leader Radovan Karadzic snubbed a UN
delegation, going off to tour the front lines and play chess with
his military chief, Ratko Mladic. Karadzic's purpose was
apparently both to show firm resolve and to end rumors that Mladic
had been sacked. Karadzic told his soldiers: "the UN has made a
catastrophic mistake. We have won. That is why they are angry at
us. You aren't barefoot Somalis. You are one of the best-prepared
armies in Europe," according to the New York Times of 13 April.
Mladic added that "anything that flies and opens fire [on Serb
forces] will be shot down," Borba reported. The Los Angeles Times
quoted diplomats as saying that "the Serbs will keep probing and
probing to see where the limits are." Finally, Borba said that
Serbian ultra-nationalist and internationally sought war criminal
Vojislav Seselj had gone to the Gorazde front. Patrick Moore,
RFE/RL, Inc.

. . . AS IS SERBIA ITSELF. On 12 April Belgrade's official "Radio
Yugoslavia" charged that "the UN has become an instrument for
NATO's conquest of the world, step-by-step," adding that "American
bombs cannot force us to our knees." Tanjug, meanwhile, reported
that CNN and AFP would lose their accreditation on 13 April for
"satanizing the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Serbian
people." Politika on 13 April presented popular reactions to the
air strikes, with the League of Serbian Labor Unions calling them
"the crudest abusiveness." The reaction was similar in Montenegro,
with some politicians seeing the hand of Turkey and Austria, two
historic enemies of the Serbs, at work. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL,
Inc.

UKRAINE "REGRETS" NATO RAIDS IN GORAZDE. The head of the Ukrainian
Foreign Ministry's press department, Yurii Sergeev, said at a
weekly briefing for journalists that Ukraine "regretted" that NATO
had to resort to force in Bosnia and that Ukraine had not been
consulted before the NATO bombings of Serb positions around
Gorazde, Western and Ukrainian agencies reported on 12 April.
Ukrainian UN peacekeeping troops are shortly to be deployed in
this area. Sergeev called on all parties to make a "maximum
effort" to stop the bloodshed. Bohdan Nahaylo, RFE/RL, Inc.

BULGARIA ON NATO AIR STRIKES. On 12 April the Bulgarian Ministry
of Foreign Affairs issued a cautiously worded statement on the
recent NATO air strikes against Serb positions outside Gorazde,
BTA reports. The statement partly echoed an earlier declaration
issued on 21 February in connection with the expiry of NATO's
ultimatum over Sarajevo. On the one hand, the ministry
spokesperson said NATO's use of force demonstrates the
international community's determination to enforce UN resolutions
and protect UN troops, and should thus be seen as a strong signal
to the warring parties to resume peace talks. But the ministry
also expressed "serious concern" that the air strikes may have
reduced the prospects for a peaceful settlement in the Bosnian
war. By and large, pro-UDF media have been supportive of NATO's
use of force--though sometimes saying that it comes too
late--while the pro-Socialist press has tended to condemn the
actions. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS IN THE YUGOSLAV AREA. Vjesnik on 13 April
reported that Croatian President Franjo Tudjman had written to his
Bosnian counterpart Alija Izetbegovic to ask for the immediate
release of detainees on both sides. Politika noted the death in
Sarajevo of Branko Mikulic, a former Yugoslav prime minister and
veteran communist politician. Vjesnik and Vecernji list also
discussed the postponed talks between Croatia and its Serb rebels,
warning the Serbs that their only future is as part of Croatia and
that infrastructural links must be restored as soon as possible.
Finally, the independent Novi list on 12 April reported on a new
political movement called Libertas, which had opened contacts to
prominent opposition politicians, including Tudjman's enemies
within his own party, like upper house speaker Josip Manolic and
his lower house counterpart Stipe Mesic. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL,
Inc.

ALBANIA WANTS GREECE CONDEMNED FOR STATE TERRORISM. International
media reported on 12 April that Albanian President Sali Berisha
accused the Greek government of promoting terrorism and general
instability in the Balkans in the wake of the killing of two
Albanian soldiers on 10 April by a Greek irredentist band. Berisha
blasted the Athens authorities as having adopted a policy of
"bands and blockades," the latter a reference to Greece's
unilateral embargo against Macedonia, which had led to an EU court
case against Athens. Reuters reported on 13 April that Tirana had
called on the UN Security Council to condemn Greece for "state
terrorism" over the border incident. Albania has also ordered the
Greek consul general in Gjirokaster to leave the country and
recalled its own ambassador to Greece. Athens, in turn, expelled
the first secretary of the Albanian embassy. Patrick Moore,
RFE/RL, Inc.

WALESA SIGNS 1994 BUDGET . . . Polish President Lech Walesa signed
the 1994 budget into law on 12 April, PAP reports, despite earlier
threats to veto the bill. During a meeting with reporters from the
Catholic daily Slowo in March, Walesa charged that the budget
failed to fulfill the coalition's campaign promises; society might
feel cheated, he said. He acknowledged, however, that there is no
economic alternative to the budget. Walesa's decision pleased
coalition leaders but angered Solidarity, which had organized a
strike campaign to force the government to amend the budget to
increase social spending. The union leadership expressed
irritation that the president had not chosen to meet with them
before deciding whether to sign the budget. Walesa may have
decided that the international opprobrium and economic
destabilization inevitable after a budget veto would outweigh the
political gains to be won in his ongoing battle with the
coalition. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc.

. . . BUT THREATENS VETO OF LOCAL ELECTION LAW. Meeting with his
local government council on 12 April, the Polish president
announced that he plans to veto the amended electoral law for
local government bodies. Walesa said the new law, amended at the
behest of the two coalition parties, would overly politicize the
local elections. He proposed postponing the elections for a year.
The amended law emphasizes party lists and proportional voting
rather than majority voting for specific candidates; it is widely
believed to favor the coalition parties. Walesa seemed concerned
to block a potential coalition triumph in elected local government
bodies, which are now the last bastion of the broad Solidarity
movement. The president also objected to the bill's ban on
election campaigning in churches. Episcopate General Secretary
Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek immediately applauded Walesa's planned
veto, as did most representatives of local government bodies.
Because of legislative time constraints, a presidential veto would
mean that elections would either take place on schedule, in May or
June 1994, in accordance with the old law (last used in May 1990),
or be held under a new law but at a later date. Louisa Vinton,
RFE/RL, Inc.

POLISH STOCK MARKET PLUNGES. Share values in all 24 firms quoted
on the Warsaw stock exchange fell the maximum of 10% on 12 April,
PAP reports. This was the second session in a row in which average
share prices fell over 10%. The market index dropped to 10,701
points, just over half the record high of 20,760 reached just a
month before, on 8 March. Sellers outnumbered buyers by a factor
of five to one. Attempting to reach a balance, exchange officials
announced they were lifting the limit of 10% growth or decline in
each firm's share value per session, for the next three sessions
(14-19 April). Brokers agreed that the crash was the result of
panic and a "herd mentality" on the part of hundreds of thousands
of small investors. Exchange Chairman Wieslaw Rozlucki reminded
investors that there are no economic reasons for the deep plunge
in share prices. "All gains and losses are only paper ones until
shares are sold," he added. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc.

CZECH DEFAMATION LAW ABOLISHED. CTK reported on 12 April that the
Czech Constitutional Court abolished a penal code provision
permitting prosecution of individuals for defaming the parliament,
the government, the constitutional court, and public officials.
President Vaclav Havel had asked the court to abolish the
defamation law, which was left unchanged when the Czech parliament
amended the communist-era penal code in November 1993. The court
decided to retain those provisions of the penal code that prohibit
defamation of the republic and the president. Moreover, the court
retained Articles 154 and 156 of the Penal Code permitting
prosecution of individuals for slandering or grossly offending a
state organ or public official; Havel had not asked the court to
abolish these articles. Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc.

HAVEL NAMED LIBERTY MEDAL WINNER. Czech President Vaclav Havel has
been named winner of the 1994 Philadelphia Liberty Medal for
contributions to principles of liberty, Reuters reports. Havel is
to receive the $100,000 prize in a ceremony in Philadelphia on 4
July. The chairman of the international selection commission for
the prize told journalists on 12 April that Havel is "a symbol to
the world of the successful pursuit of cultural and political
freedoms." Havel had "inspired the 'velvet revolution' which
returned his country in 1989 to democratic liberties, civility,
and market economy." He also cited Havel's role in the peaceful
division of Czechoslovakia, which he described as "a model for
other countries struggling with ethnic differences." Jiri Pehe,
RFE/RL, Inc.

TALBOTT VISITS SLOVAKIA. US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe
Talbott made a one-day working visit to Bratislava on 12 April,
TASR and Reuters report. Meeting with President Michal Kovac,
Premier Jozef Moravcik, Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan and
parliament chairman Ivan Gasparovic, Talbott said the US wants to
forge closer military and economic ties with Slovakia. Noting
anxiety in Slovakia and Poland about becoming a "gray zone"
between the West and Russia, Talbott said that Slovakia "is not in
a security vacuum" and expressed hopes for a united Europe. He
said Slovakia has received $145 million in US aid since 1989 and
promised that more aid will flow. Talbott said a US business
center will soon be opened in Bratislava. Kovac gave Talbott an
invitation for US President Bill Clinton to visit in August to
mark the 50th anniversary of the Slovak National Uprising. Sharon
Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc.

MORAVCIK ADDRESSES THE SLOVAK PARLIAMENT. During the 12 April
parliament session, Premier Jozef Moravcik discussed the
government's policy statement and the current political situation,
TASR reports. Moravcik said the new government will bring back the
values expressed during the November 1989 "velvet revolution,"
including the protection of individual rights and freedoms. He
said that it would be dangerous to open the question of borders,
and expressed his hope that Slovakia will sign border agreements
with its neighbors, particularly Hungary. Moravcik said that the
new government was formed as a result of the inability of the
Movement for a Democratic Slovakia and its coalition partner, the
Slovak National Party, to work harmoniously with other political
parties. The MDS's methods had led to loss of international
credibility and economic collapse. The resignations of many of its
founding members, including Michal Kovac, Roman Kovac, Milan
Knazko, Rudolf Filkus and Lubomir Dolgos, had changed the
character of the party, Moravcik said. Since the June 1992
elections 18 parliamentary deputies have left the MDS and others
are still wavering. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc.

ROMANIAN OBSERVERS IN HUNGARIAN AIRSPACE. Romanian observers are
flying over Hungary between 12 and 16 April as provided by the
Romanian-Hungarian Open Sky Agreement, MTI reported on 13 April.
The agreement was signed by the two countries on 11 May 1991 as a
confidence building measure, and there have been several
observation flights by both countries since that time. Pictures
made by the observer planes are handed to both parties. There has
been significant international interest in the implementation of
the agreement, with American, Austrian, German, and Dutch experts
evaluating the results. Judith Pataki, RFE/RL, Inc.

ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN AUSTRIA. Teodor Melescanu arrived in
Vienna on 11 April to seek Austrian support for Romanian
membership in the European Union. In an interview broadcast by
Radio Bucharest on the same day, Melescanu said he expected
Austria to become one of the most ardent supporters of EU's
expansion eastwards. Radio Bucharest also quoted him as saying
that the potential of cooperation between the two countries was
immense. Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL, Inc.

UNEMPLOYMENT UP IN ROMANIA. The governmental news agency Rompres
reported on 11 April that 1,287,000 people were registered as
unemployed in Romania (11.3% of the work force, up from 11.1% last
month). Rompres noted that unemployment was higher among women and
young people, who represented some 56% and 30% of the total,
respectively. According to the latest figures released by the
government, between 10,000 and 12,000 people are losing their jobs
in Romania every week. Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL, Inc.

BULGARIAN HELSINKI GROUP RESPONDS TO CRITICISM. Following
criticisms by influential historians Nikolay Genchev and Antonina
Zhelyaskova in the domestic media, Krasimir Kanev of the Bulgarian
Helsinki Committee on 12 April told Bulgarian radio that he feels
the organization's most recent report provided an accurate
description of the present human rights situation in the country.
Kanev specifically rejected the claim that the Helsinki Committee
had offered a one-sided view of minority-related problems, saying
that the intention was to focus on the social problems of these
groups, not on their political or other views. He also noted that
defending the civil rights of Bulgarian citizens who identify
themselves as Macedonian cannot be equated with support for
separatism. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc.

LATVIAN PRESIDENT IN FRANCE. On 12 April in Paris Guntis Ulmanis
held talks with Prime Minister Edouard Balladur and Foreign
Minister Alain Juppe on Latvian-Russian relations, Diena reports.
France suggested that Latvia use the European Security and
Stability Pact, the so-called Balladur plan, whose inauguration is
scheduled for 26-27 May in Paris. The plan outlines the role of
third countries in settling disputes between two other countries.
Ulmanis did not say which country Latvia would choose to mediate
its talks with Russia, but Juppe said that France would be ready
to accept the role. Ulmanis also sent a letter to Saeima chairman
Anatolijs Gorbunovs asking him to postpone the extraordinary
session of the Saeima on 15 April he had requested since Russian
President Boris Yeltsin had not yet responded to Ulmanis' request
that he officially recall his decree of 5 April on holding
negotiations for establishing a military base in Latvia. Saulius
Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc.

QUESTIONS ABOUT UKRAINIAN ELECTIONS. Observers, including
representatives from the UN and the CSCE, have raised "serious
concerns" about the fairness of Ukraine's parliamentary elections,
the Washington Post and the New York Times reported on 12 and 13
April, respectively. According to the latter, the international
observers "cited pressuring of rural voters, a politicized, poorly
functioning central electoral commission and instances where
access to polling stations was denied to foreign observers." The
Washington Post reported that, according to the independent
Elections '94 Monitoring Service in Kiev, there was "systematic
and widespread corruption" and complaints about ballot-rigging
have also been received. Bohdan Nahaylo, RFE/RL, Inc.

"ILLEGAL" ACTIONS OF CRIMEA'S PRESIDENT. The Ukrainian Ministry of
Justice has issued a statement criticizing Crimea's President
Yurii Meshkov for his continued "illegal activities," Ukrainian
television reported on 12 April. According to the statement,
Meshkov issued decrees sacking Crimea's security chief and the
local minister of interior and replacing them with his own
candidates. The firings, says the statement, are outside the
competence of the Crimean president. In the meantime, Meshkov's
press service issued its own statement, arguing that Kiev is
attempting to deprive Crimea of "real power and authority." The
document urges that local institutions and organizations ignore
the recently appointed presidential representative in Crimea.
Roman Solchanyk, RFE/RL, Inc.

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Stephen Foye and Anna Swidlicka
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