|Words that open our eyes to the world are always the easiest to remember. - Ryszard Kapuscinski|
No. 80, 27 April 1994
RUSSIA RUSSIA RECONSIDERS JOINT MILITARY EXERCISES WITH US. Apparently bowing to pressure from his political opposition in the parliament, Russian President Boris Yeltsin on 26 April ordered the Defense Ministry to reconsider a joint military exercise with US military units scheduled to take place in July in the Orenburg region of Russia. The New York Times on 27 April quoted Yeltsin as saying that he "treats with understanding doubts voiced" in parliament about the exercise and that he had ordered the Defense Ministry both to hold "additional consultations" with Washington and to "reconsider the decision bearing in mind both the position of Russian lawmakers and Russian public opinion." A Yeltsin spokesman said that the statement did not mean the exercises would necessarily be canceled and, according to the Baltimore Sun, he described Yeltsin's actions merely as an attempt to build a "constructive dialogue" with various political parties on the issue. According to the same report, US Defense Secretary William Perry called his Russian counterpart, Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, on 26 April in an effort to convince him to proceed with the exercises, which were to have focused on peacekeeping operations and which, it was hoped, might symbolize the sort of cooperation that the two sides could bring to troublespots like Bosnia. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. DUMA ADOPTS LAW ON CONSTITUTIONAL COURT. The new law on the Constitutional Court was adopted in its first reading on 26 April by the State Duma. Earlier this month, the parliament rejected a draft law because of legislators' dissatisfaction with the current judges who make up the Constitutional Court. The major difference between the new law and its former drafts is that under this version judges will be elected for 12 years rather than for life. The 1991 Russian Law on the Constitutional Court,that was suspended by Yeltsin last fall, had provided judges with life terms. The new version also limits judges to serving on the Constitutional Court for one term only, Russian television reported on 26 April. Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIAN DEPUTY SHOT DEAD. The prominent Russian banker Andrei Aizderdzis, who was elected to the State Duma last December, was shot dead in the stairwell of his apartment block in a Moscow suburb, Interfax reported on 26 April. Aizderdzis, chairman of the private MDK bank, had been a member of the centrist New Regional Policy parliamentary faction. His murder was the latest in a series of killings of leading bankers in Moscow over the past months. Most Russian bankers have been pressured into paying protection money to organized crime groups. At a recent meeting of the Security Council President Boris Yeltsin promised to intensify the struggle against crime and corruption, but so far has failed to do so. Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, Inc. DUMA PREPARES LAW ON CORRUPTION. The Chairman of the Duma Committee on Security, Viktor Ilyukhin said that increasing connections between corrupt government officials and organized crime is threatening to turn the present regime into a "criminal state," Russian television reported on 26 April. According to Ilyukhin up to 80% of enterprises in the state and private sectors are involved in corrupt practices, while up to 50% are controlled by organized crime. In the last year some of 1,500 officials were investigated or arrested in connection with corruption charges. About 50% of them were high ranking employees of the executive branch, and 27% were officers in law enforcement agencies. Ilyukhin revealed that his committee has drafted a law on corruption which will apply to both civil servants and political appointees. One of its features is a strict screening procedure of individuals' incomes. Victor Yasmann, RFE/RL, Inc. RABIN VISIT CONTINUES. Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin held talks on 26 April in Moscow. Yeltsin noted that relations between Russia and Israel had not always been good, but that the two sides could now "actively develop bilateral relations." According to a statement issued by Yeltsin's press service, Yeltsin stressed during talks that Russia will continue to play an active part in Middle Eastern affairs, ITAR-TASS reported. Suzanne Crow, RFE/RL, Inc. BOSNIA DISCUSSIONS. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev traveled to Geneva for talks with his US counterpart Warren Christopher on 26 April. Prior to talks with Christopher, Kozyrev lamented that "the military tendency is now looming quite distinctly due to irresponsible activities of Serbian commandos," RIA reported. Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigorii Karasin said that decisions on Bosnia must be made in the framework of the UN Security Council, adding "unilateral decisions in this respect will be counterproductive," ITAR-TASS reported. Suzanne Crow, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIAN FORCES OWE GERMANY MILLIONS. Germany's economics ministry on 26 April said that Russian military forces stationed in Germany owe some 13 millions marks to German companies and communities and it urged these groups to launch efforts to collect the outstanding debts before the last Russian troops leave at the end of August. According to Reuters, the ministry warned that settling the claims could take months. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. DEFENSE INDUSTRIAL WORKERS PROTEST. About 300 workers from roughly 100 defense plants throughout Russia picketed the White House in Moscow on 26 April, Interfax and Western agencies reported. A spokesman for the protesters said that the group wanted to meet with Prime Minister Chernomyrdin since approaches to other government leaders had "led to nothing." Their grievances included an assertion that the hasty conversion of defense enterprises had brought "Russia's most powerful industry" to its knees, and they complained about delays in payment, and the low average levels, of wages in the industry. They demanded that defense plants be permitted to export their own products since Rosvooruzhenie--currently the only body allowed to conduct the sales of military hardware abroad--keeps the lion's share of profits for itself. The protesters threatened a nation-wide strike of defense industrial workers if their demands were not met. Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc. OLD-AGE PENSIONS INDEXED. The Federation Council on 26 April approved the law on the procedure for indexing and adjusting old-age pensions for inflation, Interfax reported. The law had been passed by the Duma on 22 April. It sets the minimum old-age pension in Russia at 19,000 rubles a month effective 1 May, while all other pensions will be increased by 30 percent on that date. The indexation is estimated to cost an additional 404 billion rubles a month. It is not known whether provision for this was made in the latest draft of the federal budget for 1994. Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc. TEREKHOV COURT CASE CONTINUES. Hearings continue in a court case launched against Russian Deputy Defense Minister Valerii Mironov (who oversees personnel policy) by Lt. Col. Stanislav Terekhov, head of the radical nationalist Russian Officers Union, Interfax reported on 26 April. Terekhov is demanding that he be reinstated to his former post in Russia's Military Humanitarian Academy (formerly the Lenin Academy). Terekhov, a long-time critic of Boris Yeltsin and Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, was dismissed from the armed forces for his political activities in 1993, and was subsequently arrested for his participation in an attack on the headquarters of the CIS joint armed forces in September that left two dead. He was amnestied in February of 1994. Interfax reported that five other officers, who were present in the courtroom, have also filed suits contesting their dismissal from the armed forces. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. FLEET PERSONNEL TO OPEN FIRE ON TRESPASSERS. The commander of Russia's Pacific Fleet, Adm. Georgii Gurinov, on 27 April ordered fleet personnel to open fire without warning on unidentified people trespassing on navy property, ITAR-TASS reported. The order was said to be a response to the murder on the night of 25 April of a duty officer during a raid by gunmen on a fleet unit in Vladivostok. On 20 April, according to ITAR-TASS, unidentified gunmen had attacked a small arms depot in a Vladivostok suburb. In neither case have the attackers been apprehended. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA KAZAKH-CHINESE TALKS. Continuing his tour of Central Asia, Chinese Premier Li Peng held talks with the Kazakh leadership in Almaty on 26 April, culminating in the signing of what Li termed a "historic" agreement defining the last disputed stretch of the two countries' 1,700 km border, Russian and Western agencies reported. Agreements were also signed on abolishing transport restrictions between the two countries and the extension by the PRC to Kazakhstan of a 50 million yuan credit, which Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev said will be used to encourage trade between Kazakhstan and its second largest trading partner, China. The Nevada-Semipalatinsk anti-nuclear testing movement and Eastern Turkestan, an organization representing the Uigurs, held a protest meeting in Almaty on 26 April to call for the closure of the Chinese nuclear testing site at Lop Nor, Reuters reported. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. AZERBAIJAN CONDITIONALLY AGREES TO KARABAKH CEASEFIRE. Talks in Moscow on 26 April between Azerbaijan parliamentary chairman Rasul Guliev and Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev culminated in an agreement that Azerbaijan will observe a ceasefire beginning in the night of 27-28 April providing the Armenians agree to do likewise, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. Grachev proposed that the ceasefire be followed by the creation of a demilitarized zone and the deployment of CIS and CSCE peacekeeping troops, but also stated that if the ceasefire was violated he would cease any further mediation activities. Grachev and Guliev also reached agreement on returning the early warning radar station at Gebele in northern Azerbaijan to Russian control. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. MITTERAND IN TASHKENT. On 26 April, the first full day of his state visit to Uzbekistan, French President Francois Mitterand and his Uzbek counterpart Islam Karimov held talks on a range of issues including the situation in Tajikistan and Afghanistan, characterized by Mitterand as "potentially one of the most important problems concerning peace on this planet," and on French contributions towards modernizing the Uzbek economy, ITAR-TASS reported. Mitterand said France would provide 700 million francs in credits for the construction of an oil refinery in Bukhara and the modernization of the Tashkent airport air traffic control system; French companies are involved in both projects. He also promised to support Uzbekistan's request for financial aid from the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development. An Uzbek Embassy will open in Paris in the near future. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. NEW GEORGIAN DEFENSE MINISTER CONFIRMED. On 26 April the Georgian parliament confirmed as parliament chairman Eduard Shevardnadze's candidate for the post of defense minister, Lt. Gen. Vardiko Nadibaidze, Interfax reported. Opposition objections that the 57-year-old Nadibaidze had served for 20 years in the Soviet army in the Transcaucasus Military District and was therefore "a stooge of Moscow" were overruled. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE SERBS PULL BACK FROM GORAZDE. International media report on 27 April that UN officials said that Bosnian Serb forces had apparently withdrawn their known heavy guns in time to meet NATO's 2 am deadline that day. The Washington Post notes that the wording of the UN statement allows for the possibility that hidden artillery might remain in the 20 kilometer exclusion zone, but for now there are no plans for air strikes. Meanwhile, many observers now expect that the Serbs will concentrate their energies on strengthening and expanding their northern Bosnian supply corridor linking Serbia with occupied territories in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. NEW COORDINATING GROUP SET UP FOR BOSNIA. On the diplomatic front, the Washington Post said on 26 April that a new coordinating "contact group" consisting of representatives of the US, Russia, the EU, and the UN had been set up in London the previous day. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 27 April reports that the group had its first meeting on the 26th and that it seeks a peaceful settlement of the Bosnian crisis in about four months. British officials in particular stressed that negotiations and not military means can provide the best solution. The group plans to go on to Sarajevo shortly. US Secretary of State Warren Christopher left London following the 25 April founding session and held talks the next day in Geneva with Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev. Finally, a former British military attache to Belgrade writing in The Independent on 26 April spells out a plan for enforcing peace in Bosnia and warns that there are no cheap or easy solutions. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. CROATIAN UPDATE. Amid a growing teachers' strike to protest general living and working conditions, Prime Minister Nikica Valentic told Novi list on 26 April that his government will not yield to "chaos and anarchy." Vjesnik on 27 April says that the opposition parties back the strikers, whose demands include a cabinet shake-up and the sacking of Education and Culture Minister Vesna Girardi-Jurkic. Meanwhile, the 27 April Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports that lower house speaker Stipe Mesic -- who is one of the co-founders of the new Croatian Independent Democrats (HND) who split off from the governing Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) -- expects the HND to hold its founding meeting soon. He also predicted that at least 20 HDZ deputies would join his party, thereby costing the HDZ its majority and possibly forcing new elections. The Feral Tribune on 25 April noted, however, that whether or not Mesic and his friends actually demolish the HDZ's majority is not crucial, since the HND has already attracted enough support to put an end to a situation in which the HDZ could do as it pleased in parliament. Finally, the HDZ is continuing its campaign to play down the importance of the split. This was conveyed in an interview with Defense Minister Gojko Susak in Slobodna Dalmacija on 27 April and in another talk with top party official Ivic Pasalic in Vecernji list. In that same paper on the previous day, however, Foreign Minister Mate Granic warned that the departure of the HDZ's left wing should not lead the party to tilt to the right, since that could hurt Croatia's image abroad. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. MILOSEVIC RECEIVES RUSSIAN PARLIAMENTARIANS. On 26 April Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic met with a delegation of Russian parliamentarians, Serbian media report. The main purpose of the meeting appears to have been to afford the Serbian president the opportunity to reaffirm good relations with Russia, which recently appeared to be suffering after high-level Russian officials, including Russian President Boris Yeltsin, criticized the Serb involvement in the Bosnian crisis. Politika carries the story under the headline: "Milosevic: Serbia Values Russia's Balanced and Impartial Position." In other news, Politika also reports on an anniversary for rump Yugoslavia. The daily observes that it was two years ago, on 27 April 1992, that Serbia and Montenegro adopted the name "Federal Republic of Yugoslavia." Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. GERMANY SENDS CROATIAN REFUGEES BACK. On 25 April the German and Croatian governments signed an agreement in Bonn on the return of about 70,000 refugees, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported on 26 April. An estimated 20,000 refugees from the Serbian-occupied and devastated areas in Croatia will not be returned until 1995. Deserters and conscientious objecters will also be returned but Zagreb officials said that those who fled the draft between August 1990 and September 1992 have received an amnesty. Croatia will allow Germans to monitor trials against deserters who fled after that date. Since about 280,000 refugees from Bosnia-Herzegovina and about 250,000 displaced persons from Croatian areas live in Croatia, the country has hardly any housing for returning refugees. Nonetheless, Croatia hopes that the refugees returning in 1994 will be able to move back to their own flats and houses or find accomodations with relatives. Croatia expects that those refugees returning in 1995 will have the accommodations now used by its own Bosnian refugees when and if these are returned to Bosnia. Fabian Schmidt, RFE/RL, Inc. GLIGOROV ENDS BULGARIAN VISIT. DEL In ADD On the evening of 26 April Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov ended his third--but the first to be termed "official"--visit to Bulgaria, BTA reports. At a joint press conference with Bulgarian state chief Zhelyu Zhelev, the two leaders stressed the positive aspects of Gligorov's talks with Bulgarian leaders during the two-day visit. Whereas Gligorov expressed his gratitude for Sofia's support in pushing for Macedonia's international recognition, Zhelev said discussions on bilateral relations, the problems of the Balkans, as well as European integration, had been "exceptionally important." Both nonetheless acknowledged that a linguistic dispute had marred the visit, leading to the postponement of the signing of two bilateral accords. To demonstrate their view that Macedonian is not a separate language but a dialect of Bulgarian, Zhelev and other officials in Sofia had consistently asked that interpreters cease translating from Macedonian. Gligorov, for his part, insisted on using interpreters and refused to sign any document which would "call into question the language of our people." Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc. BOSNIAN PRESIDENT CANCELS BUCHAREST VISIT. Bosnian president Alija Izetbegovich has called off a visit to Romania scheduled for 27 April, Reuters reported from Bucharest. The Romanian Foreign Ministry said on 26 April that escalating tension in Bosnia was the reason for the cancellation and that no new date for the visit had been set. Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc. POLISH GOVERNMENT YIELDS, STRIKES CONTINUE. Solidarity vowed to transform its brown-coal strike into a nationwide general strike beginning 28 April, despite the government's decision to annul a contested directive that was intended to start the restructuring of Poland's energy sector, PAP reports. Meeting with unionists in Piotrkow on 26 April, Industry Minister Marek Pol called the government's concession a "defeat for reform." Solidarity leaders demanded that the government present, within 48 hours, a timetable showing how and when it will meet the union's demands. Solidarity's demands are extensive and include: the abolition of wage controls, a 40-hour work week, the public distribution of state assets, and various tax and welfare benefits. The government's retreat has emboldened the union, prompting it to schedule a general strike before the 48-hour ultimatum expires. The cabinet convened late on 26 April to discuss the strikes. There was no official statement, but ministers commented that the government cannot allow a trade union to control the state. A statement from Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak is expected on 27 April. Pawlak has adopted a hands-off style on the strike that Gazeta Wyborcza suggests is meant to prevent economic disputes from sullying his image. Solidarity's call for a strike in Silesian hard-coal mines met with only a limited response; management reported that only 6,500 of 170,000 workers were on strike on 26 April. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. POLISH-LITHUANIAN TREATY SIGNED. Presidents Lech Walesa and Algirdas Brazauskas signed the long-delayed Polish-Lithuanian friendship treaty in Vilnius on 26 April, PAP reports. The treaty, which is valid for fifteen years, expresses regret at the interwar conflicts between the two countries and condemns the use of force in their historical relations. It confirms current borders and obliges both countries to adhere to international standards in dealing with ethnic minorities. In speeches to the Lithuanian parliament, both Brazauskas and Walesa praised the treaty as a sound foundation for bilateral cooperation. Walesa stressed that affirmations of ethnic identity should go hand in hand with loyalty to the state in which one resides. Brazauskas repeatedly stressed the "Lithuanian character" of Vilnius and restated his country's claim that the Vilnius region belonged to the Polish interwar state "in fact but not in law." He acknowledged that Poles would likely not agree with this assessment of history but urged future reconciliation. Walesa's spokesman reacted with irritation to Brazauskas's remarks, Polish TV reports. Lithuania abandoned its demand that Poland condemn its 1920 annexation of Vilnius in the treaty. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. HUNGARIAN PREMIER MAY STILL MEET SLOVAK COUNTERPART. According to Hungarian foreign ministry spokesman Janos Herman, Prime Minister Peter Boross was ready to meet Slovak Premier Jozef Moravcik, possibly on 30 May when the latter is scheduled to take part in a conference in Visegrad, Hungary, organized by Hungary's two liberal opposition parties, MTI reported on 26 April. Although Moravcik has repeatedly sought a meeting with Boross, the latter declined last week because of a Slovak demand for a joint declaration after the meeting in which Hungary would declare "in principle" the inviolability of the two countries' borders. Hungarian Socialist Party Chairman Gyula Horn and Gabor Kuncze, the Alliance of Free Democrats' prime minister-designate, recently visited Bratislava for talks with Moravcik and were criticized by Boross and Foreign Minister Geza Jeszenszky for undermining Hungary's efforts to sign a mutually acceptable basic treaty with Slovakia that would include both a border and a minority rights clause. In an interview with TASR on 26 April, Moravcik said he will probably not visit Hungary this weekend because he has other matters to attend to. He did say, however, that a meeting with Boross might still take place. He did not want to comment on Boross's statement that Horn influenced him to delay his trip. In another development, on 26 April Slovak President Michal Kovac presented Eva Mitrova her credentials as the new Slovak Ambassador to Hungary. Alfred Reisch and Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAK ECONOMIC OFFICIALS IN WASHINGTON. Deputy Premier for economic issues Brigita Schmoegnerova addressed the IMF on 26 April, calling for more cooperation between the IMF and countries in transition. In negotiations with IMF officials, Schmoegnerova said that taxes on some goods would likely be raised to ensure that the budget deficit does not exceed 4% of GDP in 1994. Meeting with US Treasury Department officials on 26 April, Finance Minister Rudolf Filkus said that thus far the budget results have been positive; the present deficit is only 4 billion koruny (the state budget sets the deficit at 14 billion koruny for 1994), and the inflation rate was 0.5% in March. An IMF mission is expected to visit Slovakia in May to decide whether the country will qualify for a stand-by loan. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAKIA REGISTERS TRADE DEFICIT. According to figures released by the Slovak Statistical Office and reported by TASR on 26 April, Slovakia's foreign trade deficit in the first two months of 1994 reached 3.95 billion koruny. Imports rose 52.8% from the same period of 1993, to a total of 32.24 billion koruny, while exports increased 27.1% to 28.29 billion koruny. The Czech Republic remained Slovakia's biggest trading partner, representing 37.6% of Slovak exports and 30.4% of Slovak imports in January and February. Germany and Russia were also important trading partners. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. ROMANIA'S RULING PARTY UNWILLING TO RELINQUISH ALLIANCE WITH EXTREMISTS. Following the last round of parleys with the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania, the vice-chairman of the Democratic Party-National Salvation Front, Adrian Severin, was quoted by Radio Bucharest on 26 April as saying that the PSDR was unwilling to renounce "political bigamy" and forgo its alliance in parliament with the "extremist, xenophobe parties of nostalgic restoration." The parleys, Severin stated, had not achieved their initial purpose of forging a new parliamentary majority. However, the two sides agreed to pursue further consultations with the participation of other parties of the democratic opposition, and to hold bilateral talks on ways of accelerating reforms, and "perfecting legislation on the setting up and functioning of political parties." Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc. PRIVATE NATIONAL TV CHANNEL IN ROMANIA. A private national TV channel, Tele 7 ABC, is to be soon launched in Romania, Radio Bucharest and Western agencies reported on 26 April. At a press conference in Bucharest it was announced that the channel, owned by the Expres publications trust and by an investor of Romanian origin from Germany, will be using a commercial satellite television network. Tele 7 ABC will begin airing a mixture of news, entertainment, and commercial programming in July, and will initially cover 40 percent of the country's television network. Ion Cristoiu, the chief editor of the daily Evenimentul zilei, will be editorial director and Mihai Tatulici, a famous former show host on Romania's state television, will be the channel's director. Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc. MESHKOV SAYS CRIMEA DOES NOT WANT TO SECEDE. Crimean President Yurii Meshkov, in an exclusive interview with ITAR-TASS on 25 April, is reported to have "categorically refuted" Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk's assertion that Crimea intended to secede from Ukraine. Meshkov added that Ukrainian Defense Minister Vitalii Radetsky, by blocking Meshkov from attending the Ukrainian-Russian negotiations on the Black Sea Fleet, in effect "expelled" Crimea from Ukraine. Meshkov also said that Kiev was making a serious mistake by ignoring the opinion of the people of Crimea on the fleet issue and that the best approach to solving Ukrainian-Russian differences would be to include Crimea as "an equal third party." Roman Solchanyk, RFE/RL, Inc. CONTRACT SERVICE INTRODUCED INTO BELARUSIAN ARMED FORCES. As of 25 April soldiers and sergeants who have completed their term of military service can continue serving in the Belarusian armed forces on a contract basis, Belarusian radio reported on 27 April. The contracts are available to men aged 20-35, and women aged 19-35 who do not have children. Initial contracts would be offered for a two-year period. After that women can sign further contracts for 3 year terms, and men have the choice of 3 or 6 year terms. The pay of contract personnel is a tax-exempt 400-500,000 Belarusian rubles per month, and they are entitled to a pension after twenty years of service. Rules for a contract system for officers have already been worked out and should come into effect in the near future. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. BALTS AND NEIGHBORS TRY TO CURB ILLEGAL MIGRATION. BNS reported on 26 April that Estonian border guards had detained eight persons with forged Polish passports; four of them were Kurds. A group of 63 illegal migrants of Kurdish nationality who were detained earlier are being held at a detention center in Tallinn. For Estonia illegal aliens pose a serious problem because the country lacks the proper facilities and resources to deal with them. Meanwhile Lietuvos Rytas reported the same day of a successful operation carried out by Polish, Lithuanian, Ukrainian and Belarusian police against a group of Chinese, Sri Lankan, and Pakistani illegal migrants heading for the West. The newspaper said that Asians and Africans are charged about $2000 by gangs in Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine for transport to the West. The gangs also engage in drug smuggling. Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc. ESTONIAN PREMIER PLEASED OVER US VISIT. Prime Minister Mart Laar told Interfax on 26 April in Tallinn that much had been accomplished during his recent one-week visit to the United States. He stressed in particular the usefulness of the meetings with US Secretary of Defense William Perry and UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali; both leaders expressed concern over the continued presence of Russian troops in Estonia . Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc. [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Ustina Markus & Edith Oltay The RFE/RL DAILY REPORT, 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, is available through electronic mail by subscribing to RFERL-L at LISTSERV@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU. This report is also available by postal mail, as are the other publications of the Institute, and by fax. RFE/RL NEWS BRIEFS, an edited compendium of items first published in the Daily Report, is distributed along with the RFE/RL RESEARCH REPORT, a weekly journal providing topical analyses of political, economic and security developments throughout the Institute's area of interest. 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