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No. 81, 28 April 1994
RUSSIA CIVIC ACCORD IS EXPECTED TO BE SIGNED TODAY. President Yeltsin expects most political and public groups in Russia to sign his agreement on civic accord on 28 April. The signing ceremony is scheduled for 2 pm (Moscow time), and it will be attended by the president, representatives of the government, Russias constituent regions, political parties, trade unions and religious groups. The accord is intended to avert political instability. There have been a number of concessions in the draft to persuade regional leaders and opposition groups to sign the document. Vera Tolz, RFE/RL, Inc. YELTSIN DISMISSES HIS CRITICS FROM PRESIDENTIAL COUNCIL. President Yeltsin dismissed from the Presidential Council former Prosecutor General Aleksei Kazannik and the chairman of the Russian Movement for Democratic Reform (RDDR), Gavriil Popov. ITAR-TASS quoted on 27 April the executive committee of the RDDR as saying that it was a mistake on the part of the president to purge his advisory board of critics of his policies. Gavriil Popov, who used to be a leading member of Yeltsins team in the early 1990s, has lately sharply criticized the policies of the president and the government. Aleksei Kazannik has bitterly attacked the president after resigning from the post of prosecutor general over a disagreement with the president about the State Dumas amnesty of the organizers of the 1991 August coup and the October 1993 disturbances. Vera Tolz, RFE/RL, Inc. REACTIONS TO THE MURDER OF AIZDERDZIS. President Yeltsin has condemned the killing of the banker and deputy of the State Duma Andrei Aizderdzis as an attack on the institution of state power and called for extraordinary measures in investigating the case, Radio Rossii Novosti reported on 27 April. Members of the State Duma remarked that the murder was politically motivated. Aizderdziss newspaper, Whos Who, had just published a list of the most influential criminal leaders in the country. The parliamentary factions of economist Grigorii Yavlinsky and of Vladimir Zhirinovsky demanded that the signing of the Civic Accord be delayed in view of that tragedy. The factions of Russias Choice and the Party of Russian Unity and Concord argued to the contrary. Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, Inc. DUMA DISCUSSES DISMISSAL OF INTERIOR MINISTER. The State Duma debated a proposal for the dismissal of the Interior Minister Viktor Erin following the murder of Duma deputy Andrei Aizderdzis, Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported on 27 April. The call for Erins dismissal was made by the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party Vladimir Zhirinovsky. Grigorii Yavlinsky, the leader of the YABLOKO parliamentary faction, supported the motion for Erins dismissal. On 27 April, the Duma dropped its scheduled agenda in order to discuss the problem of organized crime. Deputies demanded that Prime Minister Chernomyrdin and Minister Erin comment on the crime situation and the murder of Aizderdzis. Later in the day, Chernomyrdin and representatives of the Interior Ministry and the office of Prosecutor General addressed the session of the Duma. On 27 April, Erin told the Cabinet of Ministers that he was ready to resign if his resignation would be in the interests of Russia, ITAR-TASS reported. Chernomyrdin, however, said he would not accept Erins resignation. Vera Tolz, RFE/RL, Inc. DUMA COMMITTEE REJECTS DRAFT BUDGET. The State Dumas Economic Policy Committee on 27 April proposed the rejection of the draft federal budget for 1994, Interfax reported. In addition to its alleged neglect of military conversion (noted below), the draft was said to have reduced allocations to education, training, culture, and basic research, and to have overlooked possibilities for additional revenues. The committee further criticized the draft for raising the deficit and for being predicated on the governments earlier forecast of economic performance in 1994 rather than on a more realistic projection that took the first quarters drop of 25 percent into account. Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc. DECLINE OF DEFENSE INDUSTRY DECRIED. The pressure on the government to increase its support for the defense industry is mounting. The defense workers who have been picketing the White House were evidently disappointed by the lack of response and declared the likelihood of a pre-strike readiness from 28 April. On 27 April, the State Dumas Economic Policy Committee rejected the draft budget for 1994 in part because it neglected military conversion, Interfax reported. On the same day, Komsomolskaya pravda carried a long interview with Viktor Glukhikh, chairman of Goskomoboronprom (the State Committee for the Defense Industries). Glukhikh claimed that the production of military hardware has declined by 78 percent since 1991, and that output in February was 38 percent down on that of February 1993. If the current draft federal budget for 1994, which allocates 37.1 trillion rubles for the military-industrial complex, is approved by parliament, up to 3 million defense workers could be laid off this year, Glukhikh warned. Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc. DAMASCUS ASKED FOR REPAYMENT OF DEBT TO FSU. During the visit of a Russian delegation to Damascus, headed by First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets, the repayment of Syrias outstanding debt to the former Soviet Union was discussed, Western agencies reported on 27 April. Syria owes an estimated $10 billion for past supplies of weaponry, and its economy and foreign trade minister was cited by Reuters as saying that his country was determined to repay the debt. Soskovets was said to have proposed the import of Syrian goods such as food, medicine, and cotton, to meet part of the payment due. Other debtors have not been as forthcoming as Syria. In mid-1993, Russia was reported to be owed some $142 billion, mostly by third-world countries, for past credits and deliveries made by the FSU. Little of this is likely to be repaid. Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc. SYRIA, RUSSIA SIGN DEFENSE AGREEMENT; ASSURANCES TO ISRAEL. Syria and Russia signed a military-technical cooperation agreement on 27 April that was described by Syrian Defense Minister General Mustafa Tlass as a first step toward resurrecting the close relations that existed between Damascus and Moscow during the Soviet period. Details of the agreement, which was signed with Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets, were not revealed, but Tlass was quoted by AFP as saying that the deal indicated that Syria had privileged relations with Russia and powerful friends in Moscow. According to ITAR-TASS, Soskovets said that the agreement demonstrated the desire of both sides to engage in systematic military-technical cooperation. Meanwhile, in Moscow Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Boris Kolokolov moved to reassure a visiting Israeli delegation, led by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, that Russia intended to sell Syria only defensive weapons or spare parts for weapons systems supplied to Syria before the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. DUBININ SEEKS TO DIVERT STABILIZATION FUND. In an interview with Reuters on 27 April, Acting Finance Minister Sergei Dubinin asked that the $6 billion stabilization fund, conditionally promised by the G-7, be redirected to financing a social safety net for Russias poor, elderly, and unemployed. Dubinin put the request to the G-7 meeting in Washington on 24 April: he claimed that it was not rejected out of hand and that it was being considered. Such a request could put the G-7 and the IMF on the spot. When it was originally announced, the offer of $6 billion for a currency stabilization fund, via a special facility associated with the IMF, was tied to rigorous preconditions which Russia seems unlikely to meet, in much the same way as it has failed to meet previous guidelines. Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc. KOZYREV, JUPPE TALKS ON BOSNIA. Continuing his talks on Bosnia on 27 April with Western officials in Geneva, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev said following talks with his French counterpart, Alain Juppe that there is an opportunity for real cooperation now more than ever before. The same day, in response to questions about how discussions with Warren Christopher had proceeded, Kozyrev said: We are not starting from scratch; a very good foundation already exists. Figuratively speaking, the field has been plowed and, in principle, it is possible to complete the Bosnian settlement process quickly enough, ITAR-TASS reported. Suzanne Crow, RFE/RL, Inc. LATEST ON RUSSIAN PARTICIPATION IN NATO PARTNERSHIP. Only days after Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev suggested that Russia had soured on participation in the NATO Partnership for Peace plan, a Russian military delegation visiting Brussels was described by a high-ranking NATO official as positively inclined toward the program. According to AFP of 27 April, British Field Marshal Sir Richard Vincent said that the head of the Russian Delegation, General Staff First Deputy Chief Vladimir Zhurbenko, had shown no hesitancy and had participated actively in a meeting of military chiefs from NATO and former Warsaw Pact countries. Vincent interpreted the development as a positive sign. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. CIS UKRAINE SAYS GRACHEV REMOVING UKRAINIANS FROM MILITARY. On 28 April a UNIAN correspondent reported that the Russian defense minister, Pavel Grachev, had issued instructions to remove officers of Ukrainian descent from the Russian army. The order came after talks on the division of the Black Sea Fleet broke down on 22 April. Grachev reportedly stormed out of the negotiations and flew back to Russia without informing his Ukrainian hosts or his own entourage. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. CENTRAL ASIA AND TRANSCAUCASIA STATUS OF KARABAKH CEASE-FIRE. A spokesman for Azerbaijani President Geidar Aliev told Interfax on 27 April that the Azerbaijani leadership welcomes the cease-fire proposal made by Russian Defense Minister Grachev the previous day after talks with Azerbaijani parliament chairman Rasul Guliev. The Karabakh Armenian authorities in Stepanakert, however, said that they would not accept the cease-fire offer unless Aliev himself guaranteed that hostilities would cease. In response to a request from Grachev to influence the Karabakh Armenians, Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan reportedly said that he was unable to do so and that the final decision on whether or not to accept the cease-fire lay with Stepanakert, according to Interfax. Liz Fuller , RFE/RL, Inc. LI PENG IN ALMATY. Speaking at a news conference in Almaty on 27 April, Chinese Prime Minister Li Peng denied that China aspired to fill the political and economic vacuum in Central Asia, but admitted that his country sought more extensive ties with the region, Interfax and AFP reported. In talks with Kazakh Prime Minister Sergei Tereschenko, Li discussed prospects for expanding bilateral trade and for establishing a free economic zone on their common border. Meanwhile a spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry told ITAR-TASS on 27 April that the Sino-Kazakh border agreement signed on 26 April will not affect the ongoing talks between Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Russia and the PRC on the western section of the former Sino-Soviet border. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. KURDS PROTEST RUSSIAN-TURKISH ARMS DEAL. The Kurdistan Peoples Committee in Moscow has issued a statement protesting the deal signed in Moscow on 25 April between the Turkish and Russian Defense Ministers on the purchase by Turkey of Russian artillery and armored vehicles on the grounds that this is tantamount to Russia giving the green light to the genocide of the Kurdish people, Interfax reported. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE NEW SERB OFFENSIVE ABOUT TO BEGIN AT BRCKO? International media on 28 April suggest that Serb soldiers and weapons leaving the Gorazde area are headed for the vicinity of Brcko, a good way to the north. The presumed object is to expand and strengthen the land corridor leading from Serbia to the occupied territories in Bosnia and Croatia. The Washington Post cites officials as calling the weaponry militarily significant. The New York Times quotes UN commander Gen. Sir Michael Rose as saying that it is very possible they are preparing aggressive acts. The guns could be heading for their next offensive... If somebody wants to fight a war here, a peacekeeping force cannot stop it. Meanwhile, the BBC quotes Rose as also having had unkind words for the Muslims, whom he accused of running away from Serb forces in Gorazde in the hopes that the UN would fight their war for them. He also charged them with inflating casualty figures and reports on damage, an accusation he had made on 3 April but which was subsequently disputed by UN staff in the east Bosnian town. The New York Times says that Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic has already challenged Roses view that the Serbs have complied with NATO demands at Gorazde, and that a video of Roses latest statements on the Muslim forces is circulating in Sarajevo while the generals staff tries to play down the remarks. Finally, the Security Council has authorized 6,000 more peacekeepers to protect safe areas in Bosnia, but Rose said this still is not enough. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. NIXONS PARTING ADVICE ON BOSNIA. The Baltimore Sun of 27 April marked the funeral of former President Richard M. Nixon by quoting his latest statements on Bosnia and other international problems. He said: one of Americas most conspicuous and unnecessary foreign policy failures is the carnage in the former Yugoslavia. Nixon called for the lifting of the weapons embargo on the Muslims to enable them to defend themselves. Meanwhile in Paris, AFP quotes Foreign Minister Alain Juppe as demanding the immediate and unconditional release of 11 French aid workers the Serbs have held near Sarajevo for over two weeks. In the Bosnian capital itself, 300 people took part in a happening sponsored by art students to protest any plans to partition the city. Their theme was dont let the river divide people. Elsewhere in Sarajevo, Reuters reports that the British embassy was opened by Charge dAffaires Robert Barnett, who describes himself as an advocate of a sleeves-up diplomacy. Finally, HINA says that Bosnian Croats and Muslims have agreed on a formula for dividing ministries between them in a future Bosnian cabinet. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. CROATIAN STRIKE UPDATE. Reuters said on 27 April that high school teachers had agreed to end their strike in return for a compromise pay package. A union leader said that many teachers had been threatened with dismissal and that Education and Culture Minister Vesna Girardi-Jurkic had issued a work obligation order that would force teachers to work as in wartime or a state of emergency. That same day, however, university professors and researchers launched a pay strike of their own. The action involves some 8,500 staff at the universities in Zagreb, Osijek, and Rijeka. The government has claimed that it cannot afford the hikes, but Globus of 29 April suggests that the hard-currency fortunes and properties somehow acquired by leading right-wing members of President Franjo Tudjmans party would be enough to keep 16,666 high school teachers well-paid for a month. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. SERBIA UPDATE. On 28 April, under the headline Guaranteed Net Wage for April Is 30 Dinar, Politika reports on the Serbian legislatures current efforts to reform the Serbian economy, ravaged by earlier inflationary fiscal policies and international sanctions. The cornerstone of the purported ongoing efforts to stabilize the rump Yugoslav economy remains the super dinar, the currency launched on 24 January and pegged to the German Mark at an exchange rate of one-to-one. Meanwhile, on 28 April Borba reports on remarks made by the ultranationalist leader of the Serbian Radical Party and former ally of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, Vojislav Seselj, in which he predicts a split in the ruling Socialist Party of Serbia and an imminent spectacular collapse of the regimes current economic policies. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. ALBANIAN HUNGER STRIKE IN TETOVO, MACEDONIA. Eight Albanian dervishes in the predominantly Albanian town of Tetovo commenced their 8th day of hunger strike protesting the Macedonian governments order to vacate a building which serves as a Muslim cloister (tekke) and is situated in a restaurant and hotel complex. Albanian political leaders seem to support the hunger strikers, who so far have experienced no health problems, according to Flaka on 27 April. The strike could become a political cause celebre for Albanians. Ismije Beshiri and Duncan Perry, RFE/RL, Inc. POLISH GOVERNMENT OPPOSES STRIKE BLACKMAIL. Solidarity launched a new attempt at a nationwide protest strike on 28 April, PAP reports. In an official communique released on 27 April, the government called the unions brown-coal strike a threat to Polands energy security and warned that widening the protest could negate the chance for economic growth. In the prime ministers opinion, there is no justification for a national strike, the statement read. The government criticized the union for rejecting its offer of talks and declared that it would staunchly oppose making economic life anarchic. Despite this tough statement, Polish TV noted that cabinet ministers were shunning the press and seemed anxious to avoid having to present the governments views in public. Solidarity leader Marian Krzaklewski charged that the statement was written in the totalitarian language of the 1980s. The former official OPZZ federation (a member of the Democratic Left Alliance) attempted to straddle opposition and government by rejecting the strikes as a political game but demanding the removal of Industry Minister Marek Pol. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. POLAND GETS FINANCE MINISTER. President Lech Walesa accepted the candidacy of the left-wing economist Grzegorz Kolodko for finance minister and deputy prime minister on 27 April, PAP reports. Walesa met with Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak after his return from a two-day official visit to Lithuania. Referring to the coal strikes, Walesa appealed to Pawlak to undertake immediate measures to halt the destabilization of the economy and the state. The crucial economic posts have been vacant since Marek Borowski resigned in protest at the prime ministers waffling on economic policy in early February. Walesa then vetoed the first replacement candidate, Dariusz Rosati, prompting a long stand-off with the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD). It appears that Walesa reached a bargain with SLD leader Aleksander Kwasniewski during a session with SLD parliamentarians on 20 April. Rosati withdrew on 26 April. Kolodko was the SLDs leading candidate for finance minister when the coalition government was formed last October, but Pawlak at the time apparently rejected his 44 theses (Rzeczpospolita, 28 October). Kolodko, a communist party member from 1969-90, heads the Institute of Finances at the Main School of Commerce (formerly SGPiS). Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. WALESA YIELDS ON PRESIDENTIAL MINISTRIES. The Walesa-Kwasniewski bargain seems to entail the appointment of deputy ministers from the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) to the ministries of defense, foreign affairs, and internal affairs. Walesa has the constitutional right of general supervision over these presidential ministries; he initially rejected the idea of coalition deputy ministers, on the grounds that they would politicize the ministries. The SLDs Danuta Waniek was named deputy defense minister on 26 April, PAP reports. Waniek, a political scientist with legal training and a womens rights activist, will have responsibility for legislation, contacts with parliament, and military courts. Foreign Minister Andrzej Olechowski pledged on 26 April to name the SLDs Marek Siwiec as a deputy minister by 1 July, provided the government approves his plan to separate political posts from the diplomatic service. Siwiec now serves on the National Broadcasting Council. Speculation continues as to candidates for the internal affairs ministry. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. HUNGARY WELCOMES BRITISH-GERMAN PROPOSAL. According to defense ministry spokesman Lt.Colonel Lajos Erdelyi, Hungarys state leaders knew about the proposal made at the 27 April London summit by British Premier John Major and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl to hold joint British-German-Hungarian peacekeeping exercises in Hungary in 1995, MTI reports. Erdelyi said the ministry welcomed the proposal which, however, can be implemented only after Hungarys government and parliament give their approval to the presence of foreign military units to Hungary. Hungary in February joined NATOs Partnership for Peace program, which in addition to consultations and the harmonization of defense planning also includes joint exercises. The Hungarian foreign ministry announced on 28 April that the government was ready to hold experts talks about the proposal and agrees with the full inclusion of NATO bodies in its planning. Alfred Reisch, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAK FOREIGN POLICY DEVELOPMENTS. On 27April the press department of the Slovak cabinet said that Premier Jozef Moravcik will not attend the conference organized by Hungarian liberals on 30 April in Visegrad, Hungary because of previous commitments, TASR reports. Hungarian Premier Peter Boross had hoped to meet with Moravcik on that day as well. In other developments, Slovak Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan began an official visit to Spain on 27 April, meeting with Spanish Premier Felipe Gonzales, King Juan Carlos I and Foreign Minister Javier Solan. Discussions focused on the transition to democracy and a market economy, as well as on integration into West European political, economic and security structures. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAKS TO DEMAND CERTIFICATES FOR IMPORTS. Starting on 1 May Slovak customs officers will require all producers of agricultural and food products exported to Slovakia to show certificates assuring that safety and health requirements have been met, TASR reports on 27 April. Lubomir Sutek, chairman of Slovakias Office for Normalization, Metrology, and Testing, said that requirement of certificates does not violate any GATT rules, nor does it jeopardize the customs union with the Czech Republic. Still, on 27 April Czech Premier Vaclav Klaus expressed his disappointment with the requirement, saying that the certificates will not only affect Czech exporters but also Slovak consumers, who will have to deal with higher prices. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. WORLD BANK APPROVES LOAN FOR ROMANIA. In a statement broadcast by Radio Bucharest on 27 April, the Romanian cabinet announced that the executive board of the World Bank had approved on the previous day the release of a second installment of a structural adjustment loan from 1992 which is worth $140 million. According to the communique, the decision had been taken without objections, in view of the fact that Romania had fulfilled all 17 conditions contained in the original agreement with the Washington-based bank. The move, the statement added, amounted to a de facto unblocking of foreign credits for Romania after a break of more than one year and a half. Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL, Inc. BEROV ON POLICY PRIORITIES . . . Bulgarian Prime Minister Lyuben Berov took the parliament floor on 27 April to outline the priorities of his administration. News agencies quoted Berov as emphasizing the need to bring about a turnaround in the economy, as well as to bolster national security. He said the government would have to stem inflation but at the same time find ways of compensating the work force for the fall in real wages. He said that a recent decision to impose price-controls on another 12 foodstuffs--bringing the total number to 23--was one example of this policy, and that he would personally meet with the trade unions to discuss other possibilities. Regarding privatization, Berov said that the many delays have not been caused by the government, but by the National Assembly. To speed up the privatization process, he called on parliament to approve a government proposal on mass privatization. He also urged support for preparations of a settlement on Bulgarias nearly $13 billion foreign debt. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc. . . . AND THE PENDING GOVERNMENT REORGANIZATION. But Berov also offered some hints about the upcoming cabinet reshuffle. With one deputy premier to focus on privatization and another on foreign economic relations, plus a regular minister to deal with the debt issue, Berov said the new line-up will reflect the cabinets current priorities. Moreover, by publicly airing dissatisfaction about the implementation of the privatization laws and the situation in the Bulgarian army, he seemed to be preparing the parliament and the public for the replacement of Deputy Premier and Trade Minister Valentin Karabashev and Defense Minister Valentin Aleksandrov. Presumably as a result of this criticism, Karabashev on 28 April handed in his resignation, BTA reports. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc. TOP BULGARIAN JURISTS DISSATISFIED WITH PARLIAMENT. Three leading Bulgarian jurists, Supreme Court Chairman Ivan Grigorov, Prosecutor General Ivan Tatarchev, and Director of the National Investigating Service Ani Kruleva, on 26 April called a press conference to express their strong dissatisfaction over the slow pace of legal reforms. BTA quoted the three as recalling that 100 days have now passed since the Supreme Court handed over to parliament a draft law including 10 amendments to the Penal Code aimed at making the struggle against crime more effective, but that the draft has so far only reached the Legislative Committee. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc. EU PLANS AID PACKAGE TO UKRAINE. At an EU meeting on 27 April the European Commission discussed an aid package to help the Ukrainian economy, the Financial Times reported on 28 April. The measures under consideration addressed in particular the countrys energy and agricultural problems. The EU proposed helping Ukraine complete two new nuclear reactors at Rivne and Khmelnytsky on the condition that Ukraine close down the Chornobyl reactors. Plans were also drawn up for a 100 million Ecu ($113 million) food aid package which is to be spent on fertilizer, seed and machinery to help overcome problems in food supplies. The food aid package requires the approval of 12 EU member states. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. MANDATE OF FIVE LATVIAN DEPUTIES SUSPENDED. During a heated discussion that lasted well into the early hours of 28 April the Latvian Saeima decided to suspend temporarily the mandate of five deputies who have been accused of collaboration with the KGB. The final decision will be made after the cases are brought to court and a verdict is handed down. The five deputies are: Georgs Andrejevs, Edvins Inkens, and Andrejs Silins of Latvias Way; Aivars Kreituss of the Democratic Party; and Roberts Milbergs of the For Fatherland and Freedom association. Inkens, who has also been serving as minister for special assignments, told Diena of 27 April that he will resign from that position until his name is cleared by the court. The situation of Foreign Minister Georgs Andrejevs is not clear since he is currently in the United States for medical treatment. Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc. ESTONIAN PREMIER: MOST ALIENS TO GET RESIDENCY PERMITS. Prime Minister Mart Laar told Russian journalists in Tallinn on 27 April that he expects most aliens who were permanent residents of Estonia as of 1 July 1990 to be granted permanent residence permits, BNS reported. He added that under the aliens law those people are entitled to the permits and nobody would deprive them of the right. He denied categorically charges made periodically by Russian leaders that Estonia intends to deport Russians or grant citizenship on the basis of ethnicity. That same day in Moscow, however, Russian deputy foreign minister Boris Pastukhov told BNS that the primary task of Russian diplomacy is to defend the legal rights of their compatriots abroad. Pastukhov also renewed accusations that Estonia and Latvia deprived their Russian-speaking populations of their elementary rights; he claimed that these people live in an atmosphere of fear and intimidation. Abudullah Mikitayev, chairman of the citizenship commission at the Russian presidents office, told the press that the best solution to the problem for Russia would be the conclusion of a treaty with Estonia and Latvia on dual citizenship, like the treaty with Turkmenistan. Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc. 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