I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed. - Booker T. Washington
RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 74, 19 April 1994

RUSSIA

LATEST ON PARTNERSHIP FOR PEACE. Russia's objection to NATO's
Partnership for Peace program due to the use of NATO airstrikes
may ease somewhat if Churkin's renunciation of the Bosnian Serbs
becomes official Russian policy. Meanwhile, according to unnamed
NATO officials quoted by Western agencies, the alliance is
hopeful that Russia will take part. In Moscow, Sergei Yushenkov,
chairman of the State Duma's committee on defense and a member
of the Russia's Choice faction, said at a news conference on 18
April that Russia should join the Partnership for Peace program
or else face the return to a cold war situation. He said that
the Partnership need not reflect Russia's status as a nuclear
power at the outset, and he stressed that joining the program
would not lock Russia into becoming a full-fledged member of
NATO, ITAR-TASS reported. Suzanne Crow, RFE/RL, Inc.

RUSSIA HOPEFUL ON COUNCIL OF EUROPE. According to Interfax
reports of 18 April, Russian officials are optimistic about
Russia's acceptance into the Council of Europe early next year.
The head of the Foreign Ministry's Department of Cooperation in
Europe, Yurii Ushakov, noted that Russia had already complied
with two basic demands set by the Council for entry -- Russia
had adopted a new constitution and held democratic parliamentary
elections. Ushakov noted that the failure to withdraw from
Estonia and Latvia would delay entry into the Council. Ivan
Rybkin, the Chairman of the State Duma, said during a three-day
visit to Finland that Russia's admission to the Council of
Europe had been linked too much to the presence of Russian
troops in the Baltics. Rybkin's delegation used the visit to
Finland to ask that country to act as mediator in the question
of the troop withdrawals from Estonia. Rybkin also said without
elaboration that Finland was ready to support Russia's admission
into the Council. Suzanne Crow, RFE/RL, Inc.

YELTSIN FORMS EXPERT COUNCIL. On 16 April, Russian President
Boris Yeltsin signed a decree to set up a group of eight experts
to draft proposals regarding the implementation of the
president's decisions in the economic sphere, compile his
speeches, and prepare memoranda, Mayak Radio reported. These
experts have not yet been identified. Suzanne Crow, RFE/RL, Inc.

NEW RUSSIAN SECURITY COUNCIL MEMBER. ITAR-TASS reported on 18
April the decree of Russian President Boris Yeltsin to make
Aleksandr Nikolaev, the commander-in-chief of the Russian border
troops, a member of the Security Council. ITAR-TASS did not
specify whether Nikolaev was made a permanent member (with
voting rights) or a non-permanent member (without voting
rights). The number of permanent members prior to Nikolaev's
appointment was ten. Suzanne Crow, RFE/RL, Inc.

MINERS URGE GENERAL STRIKE. Vorkuta coal miners have called all
workers of Russia to begin a general strike on 1 May , Russian
TV "Vesti" reported on 18 April. The miners are demanding
repayment of their wages for the past several months. They also
advanced some political demands, such as the resignation of the
Chernomyrdin government and early presidential elections. Julia
Wishnevsky, RFE/RL, Inc.

DUMA DISCUSSES ELECTIONS IN ST. PETERSBURG. Grave violations of
law during the recent local elections in St. Petersburg have
been discussed at a session of the State Duma, RFE/RL stringer
Viktor Rezunkov reported on 18 April. On the eve of the
elections, St. Petersburg mayor Anatolii Sobchak had
unilaterally amended the Russian law on the elections to prevent
certain individuals from competing for seats in the city
assembly. He also ordered the elections to last two days instead
of one, as required by the law. According to Rezunkov, the
mutual disapproval of Sobchak has brought all the feuding
factions of the Duma closer together. The proposal to declare
the elections null and void because of Sobchak's arbitrariness
was made by the radical pro-reform Russia's Choice deputies. It
failed, however, because reformists did not agree with another
suggestion, proposed by communists and their allies, to urge the
president that Sobchak be removed from his position. Julia
Wishnevsky, RFE/RL, Inc.

GLOOMY POPULATION FORECAST . . . If present trends continue, the
population of the Russian Federation could halve in 50 years,
ITAR-TASS was told in the Institute of Social and Political
Research of the Russian Academy of Sciences on 15 April. There
were one million fewer births in 1993 than in 1992, and the
population declined by 300,000. The population decreased in 68
regions where 93 percent of the population live. An excess of
births over deaths was registered only in the republics of the
North Caucasus, Kalmykia, in the Altay, Tuva, Yakutia, Chukotka,
and in Tyumen and Chita oblasts. According to the forecasts of
the State Statistical Committee, the birth rate will rise and
the mortality rate decline only in the 21st century. The
Russians and nationalities close to the Russians will be most
affected by the decline in the birth rate, and the share of the
Russian population could drop to 70 percent. Ann Sheehy, RFE/RL,
Inc.

. . . AND MIGRATION TRENDS. No mention is made in the report of
the effects of migration. It is known that in 1993 there was
substantial net immigration into Russia from the "near abroad",
although not enough to offset the natural population decline
during that year. Reliable figures on net emigration from Russia
to the West are not available, since many short-term visits to
the West are not recorded as emigration, but some visitors do
not return. Whether a good measure of net emigration to the "far
abroad" would show it outweighing immigration from the "near
abroad" is not clear; but in any case the outcome of births,
deaths, and migration has been a falling population. Philip
Hanson, RFE/RL, Inc.

VANDALISM AT ST. PETERSBURG JEWISH CEMETERY. Moscow Jewish and
anti-Nazi organizations have urged St. Petersburg mayor Anatolii
Sobchak that an immediate investigation be initiated into a
recent act of vandalism at a Jewish cemetery in his city and
that the culprits be brought to justice, Interfax reported on 15
April. Altogether 160 graves were damaged by unidentified
individuals who went on a rampage of vandalism at the local
Jewish cemetery approximately a decade earlier. The St.
Petersburg police have initiated a criminal case of the
incident. Although similar attacks took place at the cemetery in
1992 and 1993, Interfax noted, the police have failed to track
down the culprits on all of these occasions. Julia Wishnevsky,
RFE/RL, Inc.

CIS

BALTIN ON FLEET AGREEMENT. The commander of the Black Sea Fleet,
Admiral Eduard Baltin, has criticized the latest agreement on
dividing the Black Sea Fleet, Reuters reported on 18 April.
According to Baltin, the deal could encourage Ukraine to take
unilateral steps to bring the fleet's facilities under its
control. Ukraine claims all facilities on its territory in the
agreement. Since the Cheleken incident on 9 April Ukraine has
taken over a number of Black Sea Fleet units, including the
318th division in Odessa and a river boat unit in Izmail. It has
also set up Ukrainian commands for the units in Ochakov and
Mykolaiv to act as counterparts to their Black Sea Fleet
commands. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc.

IS A RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN TREATY FINALLY ON THE AGENDA? Apart from
reaching agreement on the divison of the Black Sea Fleet, the
main result of the meeting between Presidents Yeltsin and
Kravchuk on 15 April ( see Daily Report, 18 April 1994) appears
to have been the decision to move ahead with the drawing up of a
bilateral agreement on friendship and cooperation between the
two countries. No full fledged inter-state treaty of this sort
has been signed between the two countries since Ukraine became
independent. The Ukrainian side has apparently pressed Moscow
all along for such a treaty, regarding the formal recognition in
such a document by Russia of Ukraine's independence and
territorial integrity as the basis for the "normalization" of
relations between the two neighbors. Ukrainian diplomats have
made it known that until now, behind the scenes, the Russian
side has been unwilling to commit itself to the recognition of
Ukraine's territorial integrity, or have made this conditional
on Ukraine's remaining a member of the CIS. At their summit
meeting, the two presidents agreed to instruct their respective
foreign ministries to prepare such a treaty, Russian and Western
agencies reported. After the meeting, President Kravchuk
expressed his hope that such a document would be ready in the
first half of 1994 and would be followed by an official visit to
Kiev by President Yeltsin, presumably to sign the historic
accord. Bohdan Nahaylo, RFE/RL, Inc.

TURKMENISTAN RESUMES GAS SUPPLY TO UKRAINE. Turkmenistan's
President Saparmurad Niyazov met with his Ukrainian counterpart
Leonid Kravchuk during the CIS summit on 15 April and confirmed
that Turkmenistan would resume gas shipments to Ukraine that
day, ITAR-TASS reported. Turkmenistan had shut off gas supplies
to Ukraine after the latter had failed to pay for gas shipped in
late 1993 and in 1994. Discussions between the two countries
resulted in a payment by Ukraine of $10 million and $60 million
worth of supplies and an agreement that each quarter Ukraine
will pay $78 million in cash plus $200 million in supplies. As
is the case with the Transcaucasian states, Ukraine is heavily
dependent on gas from Turkmenistan, which has been using this
dependence to enforce its demands for payment from its
financially-strapped neighbors. Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc.

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

NEW FOREIGN MINISTERS IN KAZAKHSTAN, KYRGYZSTAN. Kazakhstan's
Foreign Minister, Tuleutai Suleimenov, has been replaced by
Kanat Saudabaev, Kazakhstan's Ambassador to Turkey, ITAR-TASS
reported on 18 April. Suleimenov, who has been ambassador for
much of the period since Kazakhstan became independent, had a
reputation as an unreconstructed Soviet bureaucrat. His
replacement, who was Minister of Culture prior to Kazakhstan's
independence, had been designated USSR Ambassador to Turkey;
when the Soviet Union disintegrated, Saudabaev became
Kazakhstan's Ambassador. Also on 18 April Kyrgyzstan's energetic
Ambassador to the US, Roza Otunbaeva, was named Foreign
Minister. She had already held the post prior to Kyrgyzstan's
independence and in the immediate post-independence period. Bess
Brown, RFE/RL, Inc.

CHINESE PREMIER IN UZBEKISTAN. China's Prime Minister Li Peng
began a tour of Central Asian countries on 18 April with a stop
in Tashkent, Western and Russian agencies reported. Li's visit
is part of a Chinese effort to expand economic cooperation and
trade, particularly the export to China of inexpensive natural
resources and the importation of Chinese consumer goods.
According to an AFP report, 71 Chinese-Uzbek joint ventures have
been set up, but are bedevilled by Soviet-era bureaucracy and
the weakness of Uzbekistan's currency. Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc.

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

SERBS POUND GORAZDE. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported
on 19 April that Serb gunners had hit the embattled eastern
Bosnian Muslim enclave on the average of once every 20 seconds
in the course of the previous day. The hospital was among the
buildings affected, and the BBC said that panic had taken hold
of the 65,000 inhabitants and refugees packed into the town. In
the course of the night UN observers left Gorazde, the New York
Times noted. CNN quoted a local ham operator as calling it "the
most difficult day for Gorazde since the beginning of the war."
The Serbs learned early in their wars against their neighbors
that an infantry assault against an enemy town is likely to
cause them many casualties, so they generally prefer to shell a
place into submission rather than take it head-on. Meanwhile,
the Serbs have announced--another ceasefire. Patrick Moore,
RFE/RL, Inc.

"WESTERN INDECISION MEETS SERB RESOLVE AT GORAZDE." This is the
way the 19 April Washington Post summed up the political and
diplomatic situation now surrounding the Bosnian crisis. CNN
quoted UN commander Gen. Sir Michael Rose as calling it "a sad
week for the world," while Secretary-General Boutros
Boutros-Ghali was seeking authority to be able to call out air
strikes in the way he can already ask for "close air support."
News agencies quoted US Secretary of State Warren Christopher as
saying that the Serbs had engaged in a "tangle of lies" and that
their assault on Gorazde was "flagrant aggression." Russian
Deputy Foreign Minister Vitaly Churkin said that "the time has
come for Russia to stop all discussion with the Bosnian Serbs,"
who must learn that Russia is and will act like a great power
"and not a banana republic." Churkin added that "a group of
Bosnian Serb extremists has fallen ill with the madness of war"
and were trying to "use Russian policy as a cover," AFP reported
on 18 April. The Los Angeles Times on 19 April stated that Serb
Gen. Ratko Mladic's "rampage against Gorazde is believed to be
pursued on the orders of Serb strongman Slobodan Milosevic in
Belgrade." Finally, the Washington Post suggested Serb forces
are on the verge of a new offensive in the Brcko-Doboj area in
northern Bosnia. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc.

NERVOUSNESS IN TURKEY AND ALBANIA. Turkey, which has strong
cultural and historical links to the Bosnian Muslims, is
watching the latest developments anxiously. Milliyet on 19 April
quoted President Suleyman Demirel as saying that the Gorazde
imbroglio could be a sign that the international system is
collapsing, while Huriyet the previous day noted that Foreign
Minister Hikmet Cetin was meeting with a task force and had
warned that NATO had become "helpless." Meanwhile in Tirana,
Reuters reported that Albania had protested sharply to rump
Yugoslavia over the alleged murder of two young men by Serbian
border guards on 15 April. The statement suggested that the
deaths were linked to the killing of two Albanian soldiers by an
armed Greek band on 10 April, and concluded that "the
combination of such monstrous acts aims at expanding further
south the flames of war in former Yugoslavia." Patrick Moore and
Yalcin Tokgozoglu, RFE/RL, Inc.

REACTION TO BELGRADE'S MEDIA CRACKDOWN. On 18 April The
Christian Science Monitor reported that its officials have filed
a protest with the rump Yugoslavia's Ministry of Information and
with the rump Yugoslav embassy in Washington. Prompting the
action was Belgrade's recent decision to ban foreign
journalists, including a reporter for The Christian Science
Monitor. In a related story, Radio Free Europe has also
officially protested to the rump Yugoslav government over
Belgrade's media crackdown, and has called for Eli Yurukova, an
RFE correspondent, to be reinstated "and be accorded the full
respect, courtesy and protection" after having her credentials
revoked on 15 April. The RFE letter of protest to the Ministry
of Information stresses that Belgrade's actions appear to be at
odds with the Helsinki Final Act, which Belgrade has endorsed.
Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc.

US PEACE KEEPERS REACH MACEDONIA, SUPPLIES ARRIVING VIA
BULGARIA. On 18 April 46 US infantrymen who are to serve as UN
peace keepers were flown into the Macedonian capital of Skopje,
Western agencies report. In all, 180 soldiers are scheduled to
arrive within the next few days, thereby augmenting the some 300
American troops stationed there since July 1993. The newcomers,
who normally are based in Germany, will be replacing Swedish
forces which are slated to be redeployed to Bosnia. Meanwhile in
Bulgaria, reports say a trainload of UN military and other
equipment is now moving through the country toward Macedonia. On
15 April a UN request to transit the equipment was approved by
the Bulgarian parliament despite strong resistance from the
influential Bulgarian Socialist Party, which said the act would
represent a departure from Sofia's policy of non-interference in
the Balkan conflict. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc.

KOSOVO UPDATE. A delegation of the peace group Peace for the
Balkans has visited Kosovo, Borba reported on 13 April. The
delegation, which was made up of English, French and US
citizens, wants to initiate a dialog between Albanians and
Serbs. In Pristina it met with Serbs and Albanians to "help the
Serbs and Albanians to come to a common coexistence in the
region," and to urge people from "different nations and with
opposing points of view to live together and solve problems
together." The atmosphere in Kosovo has become even more tense
since the Bosnian Serbs made it clear that they would not join
in the Croat-Muslim federation. This fed speculation that Serb
militants might try to stir trouble in Kosovo. Fabian Schmidt,
RFE/RL, Inc.

POLAND SCHEDULES LOCAL ELECTIONS. Polish Prime Minister Waldemar
Pawlak on 18 April officially called local government elections
for 19 June, PAP reports. The prime minister's press secretary
announced that the elections will be conducted in accordance
with the old electoral law dating from 8 March 1990. Pawlak
scheduled the elections without waiting for President Lech
Walesa to take formal action on amendments to the law that were
approved by the parliament in March 1994. Walesa has vowed to
veto the amended version on the grounds that it would overly
"politicize" the local elections; he has until 21 April to take
action. The amendments, backed by the ruling Democratic Left
Alliance, would place greater stress on voting for parties than
for specific candidates by lowering from 40,000 to 15,000 the
minimum size of towns in which proportional balloting would
apply. Pawlak's decision makes legal confusion inevitable if
Walesa fails to veto the amended bill or the Sejm musters the
two-thirds majority needed to override a veto. The last local
elections, in May 1990, were regarded as a crucial step in
completing Poland's transition to democracy and devolving power
to local communities. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc.

POLISH PRODUCTION, WAGES RISE. Poland's Main Statistical Office
(GUS) reported on 16 April that industrial production in March
was 16.6% higher than in February and 12.3% higher than in March
1993. Industrial wages were also higher, rising 14.8% above
levels in February. This rate of wage growth may worry the
government, which has been unable in recent weeks to adopt a
consistent stance on the question of wage controls in state
firms. Consumer prices rose 2% in March, PAP reports. In other
financial news, Barbara Slomska, the director of the finance
ministry's tax control office, told PAP on 18 April that the
"gray sphere" of semilegal economic activity accounts for 20% of
Polish GDP, or 340 trillion zloty ($15.5 billion). GUS reports
that the gray sphere makes up 30% of GDP in the USA and 40% in
Italy. Finance ministry officials said that most Polish gray
sphere activities are not strictly criminal but rather involve
unregistered trade or services performed by legal firms. Louisa
Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc.

US EXPRESSES SUPPORT FOR SLOVAK REFORMS. US Secretary of State
Warren Christopher, meeting in Washington with Slovak Foreign
Minister Eduard Kukan on 18 April, said the US has a "great deal
of interest, concern and support" for Slovakia's political and
economic reform efforts. Kukan noted that it was important for
Slovakia to strengthen its ties to the West and attract Western
investment. On 16 April, US Ambassador to the UN Madeleine
Albright met with Kukan in New York and expressed the US
government's support for the new Slovak cabinet, TASR reports.
Kukan said a top priority of the current government is
privatization. During talks with UN Deputy Secretary General
Marrat Goulding on 15 April, Kukan stressed that Slovakia's main
foreign policy goal is integration into Europe. This does not
mean, however, that Slovakia has "an anti-Russian orientation,"
Kukan stated. Concerning Hungary, Kukan said that emotions have
cooled although relations have not yet reached a turning point.
According to Kukan, the government intends to propose
legislation to meet the demands of the Hungarian minority,
including a law on bilingual road signs. Kukan began his visit
to the US on 13 April, and on 19 April he will travel to Canada.
Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc.

SLOVAK UNEMPLOYMENT, BIRTHRATE FALL. According to a report by
the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs released on 18 April,
the unemployment rate fell from 14.76% in February to 14.54% in
March. At the end of March there were 370,493 Slovaks registered
as unemployed, a drop of 5,537 from February, of which 98,666
were receiving benefits. The district with the highest
unemployment rate in March was Rimavska Sobota, with 26.3%,
while the lowest was in Bratislava, with 4.27%. The number of
vacancies rose in March by 12.94%, and for each vacancy there
were 40 individuals registered as unemployed. Also on 18 April
TASR reported that the birthrate in Slovakia has fallen by 8.6%
over the past five years. While in 1989 there were 15.2 births
per 1,000 inhabitants, by 1993 this ratio had fallen to 13.8 per
1,000. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc.

SLOVAK LANGUAGE SCHOOL OPENED IN NORTHERN HUNGARY. Prime
Minister Peter Boross on 18 April inaugurated a new bilingual
elementary school in Lucfalva, a Nograd County village near the
Slovak border with close to 1,000 ethnic Slovak inhabitants.
Nearly 100 children will receive instruction in Slovak and
Hungarian. Boross urged minorities to preserve their ethnic
roots and the name of their fathers and grandfathers, and local
municipalities to support, with government assistance, minority
efforts aimed at preserving their own culture. Alfred Reisch,
RFE/RL, Inc.

HUNGARIAN PARTY LEADER PREDICTS STABLE POST-ELECTION GOVERNMENT.
Ivan Peto, Chairman of the liberal Alliance of Free Democrats
opposition party, said on 18 April that in spite of the fact
that some parties were trying to scare the electorate, Hungary
will have a stable government after the May elections. In his
view, the voters will decide whether the the liberal or the
socialist parties will form the next government, and a coalition
government enjoying a 60% majority would guarantee a stable
government, MTI reports. On 16 April, the AFD's
premier-designate, Gabor Kuncze, told an electoral rally that
his party was able to govern and stabilize the economy. Alfred
Reisch, RFE/RL, Inc.

LONDON CLUB, BULGARIA NEARING DEBT SETTLEMENT. Handelsblatt of
18 April reports that a top-level Bulgarian delegation together
with a negotiating team of the London Club of commercial
creditors have presented a tentative agreement involving the
rescheduling of $6.7 billion of the debt principal plus $2
billion interest owed. Peter Tils of the Deutsche Bank--which
has been chairing the negotiations--confirmed that the deal
offered to the some 400 creditors was based on an understanding
reached last November and would entail a major reduction of
Bulgaria's commercial debt. According to the now tabled
proposal, creditors would be able to transform their claims
either into Discount Bonds (worth 50% of the nominal value),
Front Load Interest Reduction Bonds (to be adjusted in
accordance with market rates over 7 years), or have them
repurchased by the Bulgarian state (at 25% of the nominal
value). The exact size of the debt reduction will be announced
on 9 May, when the creditors have selected one of the three
options, and the settlement is to be concluded by 30 June.
Finance Minister Stoyan Aleksandrov, who headed the Bulgarian
delegation, said his country plans immediately to buy back debt
originally worth $1.2 billion. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc.

ARMENIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN BUCHAREST. On 18 April Vahan
Papazian started an official visit to Romania. The visit, which
is the first ever by an Armenian foreign minister, will last
until 24 April. On the same day, Papazian held a first round of
talks with his Romanian counterpart, Teodor Melescanu. The two
called for the conclusion of a basic political treaty to be
signed in the near future by the presidents of the two
countries. Papazian is scheduled to inaugurate his country's
embassy in Bucharest. In an interview with Radio Bucharest, he
praised the ties between Armenia and Romania which, he said,
were "free of political problems." He further stressed his
country's interest in stepping up economic cooperation with
Romania. Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL, Inc.

MORE UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES NOMINATED. More
candidates have been nominated for the presidential election on
26 June, Ukrainian media report. On 16 April, the Socialist
Party of Ukraine nominated its leader Oleksander Moroz, while on
18 April, the Communist Party of Ukraine proposed its leader
Petro Symonenko after the writer Boris Oliinyk had declined to
offer his candidacy. Meanwhile, at its congress on 17 April,
after reflecting on its disappointing showing in the
parliamentary elections, the main democratic party, Rukh,
decided not to field a candidate. Rukh's leader Vyacheslav
Chornovil told the delegates that the country's "most dangerous
enemy" is not the Communists, but presidential candidate Leonid
Kuchma, who is calling for closer ties with Russia. Kuchma, who
has become increasingly outspoken in his criticism of the
current Ukrainian leadership, was also attacked in a statement
issued last week by the Cabinet of Ministers which condemned his
record as prime minister. The registration of presidential
candidates closes on 26 April and President Kravchuk and
Parliamentary speaker Ivan Plyushch have still to announce if
they will be running. Bohdan Nahaylo, RFE/RL, Inc.

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT MEETS GAGAUZ LEADER. The Moldovan parliament
will shortly discuss a draft law on granting a special status to
the Gagauz-inhabited parts of southern Moldova, Moldovan
President Mircea Snegur said on 18 April after a meeting with
Stepan Topal, the leader of the so-called Gagauz republic.
According to ITAR-TASS, the draft law will grant the Gagauz
broad self-government and economic and cultural autonomy within
the framework of a single Moldova. Snegur said that the matter
should be settled without delay since the establishment of
stability in the republic would encourage an inflow of foreign
capital. A previous attempt to solve the Gagauz question
foundered in summer 1993 when discussion of the draft law was
blocked by pro-Romanian deputies who objected to the provision
that the Gagauz would have the right to self-determination if
Moldova united with Romania. Ann Sheehy, RFE/RL, Inc.

ESTONIA REDUCES ITS HARD CURRENCY, GOLD RESERVES. Estonian
savings bank official Aavo Kokk told the press on 16 April that
the Bank of Estonia reduced its gold and hard currency reserves
by about 1.5% owing to increased demands for hard currency. He
explained that the demand for hard currency coincided with a
sharp rise in the demand for imported fuel and lubricants
following the announcement of higher excise taxes on fuel
starting in May. Malle Lind of the Estonian Small Business
Association noted that consumer prices rose 8.9% in March, the
highest monthly increase in more than a year. Estonian officials
had reckoned earlier with an annual inflation rate of 25% but
are now revising their estimates to about 45%, BNS and Interfax
reported on 16 April. Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc.

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Roman Solchanyk & Edith Oltay
The RFE/RL Daily Report is produced by the RFE/RL Research
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