|Change is always powerful. Let your hook be always cast. In the pool where you least expect it, will be a fish. - Ovid|
No. 94, 18 May 1994
RUSSIA LAVROV ON "NEW PARTNERSHIP". Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Interfax on 17 May that Russia is taking part in the preparations for the "political part" of the G-7 summit to be held in Naples. (Russia has in fact been invited to that part of the meeting.) Lavrov said one of the topics of the meeting will be the pace of Russian reforms. He dismissed the prospect of additional aid packages, asking instead for "concrete deeds" and "a new quality of cooperation" to bring to life understandings reached in past years. He claimed that the West could more effectively aid Russia by abandoning "discrimination" and opening markets to Russian goods. Lavrov cited the recent ministerial meeting on Bosnia (held on 13 May in Geneva) as an example of how a "qualitatively new partnership" could develop. Suzanne Crow, RFE/RL, Inc. EXTERNAL CREDITS AND DEBT SERVICE. Economics Minister Aleksandr Shokhin told a news conference on 17 May that Russia's annual debt service was now higher than that of the former Soviet Union and therefore the Russian government could no longer provide state guarantees for Western creditors financing joint ventures, ITAR-TASS reported. Enterprises participating in joint ventures would have to put up securities in the shape of property, land, or bonds. On the same day, Shokhin told Reuters that Russia was seeking a 14-day delay in talks on rescheduling its debt service with the Paris Club of official creditors. Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIA URGED TO JOIN NATO PARTNERSHIP. A commentary in Izvestiya on 18 May urged the government to stop dragging its feet and to sign onto NATO's Partnership for Peace program. Commentator Leonid Mlechin argued that Russian opponents of participation have forgotten that the partnership program was originally drafted specifically to meet Moscow's concerns and that its purposefully vague principles actually represented a significant setback for those former Soviet-bloc states that had hoped for speedy inclusion into the Western alliance. Mlechin charged that "the games being played over the partnership . . . are the result, first, of a knee-jerk desire on the part of the opposition to reject anything proposed by the president and the government, and, second, of an atavistic hatred and fear of NATO." He argued that Russia's reluctance to join the partnership was likely to speed the inclusion of the Eastern European and the Baltic States into NATO. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. RYBKIN ON RELATIONS WITH CHINA. The latest in a succession of Russian government officials to visit China, State Duma Chairman Ivan Rybkin, said in Beijing on 16 May that Moscow attached a high priority to its relations with China, but that there are differences of opinion within the Russian parliament on certain issues pertaining to those relations, AFP reported. Rybkin pointed to lingering border disputes as one area of potential disharmony. He also praised China's economic success but emphasized that certain aspects of the Chinese economic model were not applicable to Russia. He pointed out that Moscow does not enjoy the support of a wealthy overseas community, as China does. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. MORE ON DISMISSAL OF PACIFIC FLEET COMMANDER. Interfax and ITAR-TASS, quoting Defense Ministry sources, reported on 17 and 18 May that the dismissal of Pacific Fleet commander Admiral Georgii Gurinov was ordered by President Boris Yeltsin personally. Meanwhile, ITAR-TASS of 18 May said an assembly of the fleet's staff and administrative officers has appealed to Yeltsin to reverse the decision and reinstate Gurinov. The officers claimed that the Admiral's performance has, in fact, been exemplary and that the future well-being of the fleet would be best served by maintaining him as commander. One of Gurinov's deputy commanders, Vice Admiral Igor Khmelnov, has been named acting commander of the fleet. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. LEBED STRIKES AGAIN. "No," answered Lt.-Gen. Aleksandr Lebed, commander of Russia's 14th Army in Moldova, when asked on Russian TV on 17 May whether he was "a democrat." He added that he "would have refused" orders from Russia's Defense Minister, Gen. Pavel Grachev, to attack the rebels in the Moscow White House in October 1993; that he "never served the President [Yeltsin] and is not about to serve him" (only serving the Fatherland); and that military nonparticipation in politics is "a questionable formula." In Russia's legislative elections last December, however, he "voted against all [candidates], trusted none, was fed up with the farce;" and he agreed that "one may expect anything from the army if this outrageous situation continues." While dismissing Zhirinovsky as a comic character, Lebed admitted that 41% of the 14th Army's votes went to Zhirinovsky's party. Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. GORBACHEV TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT? Ex-USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev, in a meeting with journalists during his trip to Venice, did not exclude the possibility that he will run for the post of Russian President, ITAR-TASS reported on 15 May. Gorbachev is a strong critic of Yeltsin's policies and has sought rapprochement with centrist forces. In the same meeting, Gorbachev criticized Western involvement in the conflicts in ex-Yugoslavia, arguing that Western recognition of the sovereignty of Slovenia and Croatia had been "premature" and that the West's threats of using force demonstrate the weakness of its diplomacy. Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, Inc. SHAKHRAI RESIGNS AS DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER. On 17 May Sergei Shakhrai told a press conference in Moscow that he had submitted his resignation as deputy prime minister, Russian and Western media reported. Shakhrai said he had resigned because a new minister of nationalities affairs and regional policy had been appointed without even formal note being taken of his opinion although he was the deputy prime minister responsible for nationality and regional affairs. He added that he hoped that the appointment of a new minister in his place had nothing to do with his order for a financial investigation of the former State Committee for the North or "pressure from various groups in Krasnodar krai and their representatives in Moscow" (the new minister was hitherto head of administration of Krasnodar krai). Shakhrai added that his resignation did not mean he would go into opposition to the president or the prime minister. He said he would devote his time to strengthening his party and active work in the State Duma. Ann Sheehy, RFE/RL, Inc. REACTIONS TO SHAKHRAI'S RESIGNATION. Konstantin Zatulin, deputy chairman of Shakhrai's Party of Russian Unity and Concord, described the dismissal of Shakhrai as minister for nationalities affairs and regional policy as "in the best traditions of the Russian bureaucracy," Interfax reported on 17 May. He said that it was no secret that the president's administration and the government were fighting for power. An aide of Chechen president Dzhokhar Dudaev welcomed Shakhrai's dismissal, saying that it should have taken place long ago. Members of the hard core Chechen opposition, on the other hand, said that Shakhrai, who had insisted that talks be conducted with the opposition as well as with Dudaev, was the only person in the Russian leadership who knew the situation in the regions. Ann Sheehy, RFE/RL, Inc. SHAKHRAI PREDICTS NEW CRISIS. In his press conference, reported by ITAR-TASS on 17 May, Shakhrai forecast that Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin would have to resign under pressure from both the industrial lobby and labor strikes. He predicted that Moscow mayor Yurii Luzhkov, First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets, and former Secretary of the Security Council Yurii Skokov would compete for the post of Prime Minister. However, he said, the State Duma could reject these candidates and the idea of dissolving the Duma would reemerge in Yeltsin's circles. The Council of the Federation would, in that case, turn against the President, and the bloody events of last October could be repeated, according to Shakhrai. Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, Inc. LIMITED IMPACT OF PILOTS' STRIKE. At around 0600 GMT on 18 May Russian and Western agencies reported that the civil aviation pilots' strike had started as threatened at 0500 GMT, but that the walkout was limited and the impact was slight, with only two flights cancelled thus far. On the eve of the threatened strike, Transportation Minister Vitaly Yefimov had told a news conference on 17 May that all of the pilots' union demands had been met, other than the level of pilots' pensions: this had to be set by the parliament. (The average monthly pension for retired pilots was reported to be 45,000 rubles, or about $24 at the current rate of exchange.) For their part, the union spokesmen had complained that government promises had been made without the necessary financial underpinning and without guarantees or deadlines. Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA KARABAKH CEASEFIRE TALKS IN TROUBLE. The Russian-mediated talks in Moscow between the Azerbaijani, Armenian, and Nagorno-Karabakh defense ministers on the timetable for a settlement of the Karabakh conflict were suspended on 17 May when the Azerbaijani delegation declined to sign the protocol that would have formalized the ceasefire agreed upon the previous day and returned to Baku for consultations with the Azerbaijani leadership, Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported. Azerbaijani President Geidar Aliev, who last fall criticized the CSCE mediation in Karabakh as having achieved practically nothing, is now holding out for a CSCE-mediated settlement and is prepared to sign an alternative peace plan presented by the head of the CSCE Minsk group, Jan Eliasson, who is currently in Baku, according to ITAR-TASS. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. HUNGER STRIKERS ARRESTED IN ALMATY. A group of twelve members of various opposition groups in Kazakhstan sought to stage a hunger strike in front of the building of the Supreme Soviet, which resumed its session on 16 May. According to Interfax on 18 May, the group, which consisted of representatives of the Kazakh nationalist Jeltoqsan party, the human rights committee, trade union groups and others was arrested late on 16 May; their demands had included the resignation of President Nursultan Nazarbaev and his government. City Prosecutor Aleksandr Buksman was quoted as saying that he considers a hunger strike to be a type of demonstration, and the law requires that permits must be obtained to stage demonstrations. The Supreme Soviet is reported to have created a committee to study the protesters' demands. Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc. UZBEK HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS DETAINED. The director of the Russian Foreign Ministry's press department, Grigorii Karasin, was quoted by ITAR-TASS on 17 May as expressing concern over the detention of four human rights activists in Uzbekistan. The four, including two activists of the major Uzbek opposition movement Birlik, Talib Yakubov and Vasila Inoyatova, Deputy Chairman of the Human Rights Society Mikhail Ardzinov, and Mamura Usmanova representing Tumaris, the women's group associated with Birlik, had been invited to a conference on human rights being held in Kazakhstan under the auspices of the Russian-American Bureau on Human Rights. Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc. CIS OUTBREAKS OF RABIES AND TRICHINOSIS. About 17,000 people in Georgia have been infected with rabies and need urgent attention, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 May. The outbreak was attributed to the large number of stray cats and dogs in the country which were carrying the disease. It had worsened in recent months, as local authorities were unable to collect refuse outside the cities because of a lack of fuel. In Moscow, 23 people were diagnosed as suffering from trichinosis from infected pork and hospitalized, Interfax reported on 17 May. Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc. CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE MUSLIM FORCES ON THE OFFENSIVE. RFE/RL's Balkan Service reported on 17 May heavy fighting from several areas of Bosnia-Herzegovina, while news agencies and the 18 May Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung note that Muslim forces appear to be successful in opening and securing a vital road linking Sarajevo and Tuzla. Reports also suggest that the Muslims have cut Serb telephone links to western Bosnia, which could have an important psychological impact on the population there. For months the Serbs based in Banja Luka have been using terror and intimidation to force local Muslims and Croats from their homes with the goal of making western Bosnia "ethnically cleansed." Finally, Reuters reported on 17 May that UNPROFOR troops near Tuzla were denied a request for an air strike to silence a Serb tank that was shelling the airport. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. FRANCE TO PULL 2,500 UNPROFOR TROOPS OUT OF EX-YUGOSLAVIA. International media on 17 and 18 May report that France will withdraw almost half of its 6,800 troops serving with the UN by the end of the year, most of whom are in Bosnia. The 18 May Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung quotes the French defense minister as saying that "nobody is obligated to the absurd," while the Daily Telegraph cites the UN commander in Bosnia, Gen. Sir Michael Rose, as adding that "the move is not unexpected." The article goes on to note that the French often "give the impression of not wanting to be [in Bosnia] at all," and points out French frustration at the "ambivalence on the part of the Americans, failure to achieve a peace settlement and fear for the safety of its troops." France is the largest contributor to UNPROFOR and its presence had originally been seen as proof of Paris' determination to play a major international role in the post-Cold War world. News agencies go on to quote the British defense secretary as warning that Britain, which has the second largest UN force in Bosnia, could also withdraw troops if a Bosnian settlement is not forthcoming. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. RELIGIOUS LEADERS MEET AT SARAJEVO AIRPORT. RFE/RL's Balkan Service reported on 17 May that Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexei, his Serbian counterpart Pavle, and Croatia's Cardinal Franjo Kuharic met at the Bosnian capital's airport and issued a document calling for immediate peace in the embattled republic. Bosnia's Muslim leader and well-known hard-liner, Imam Mustafa Ceric, refused to join the group on the grounds that Pavle has refused to condemn Serbian war crimes in Bosnia, including the murder of dozens of imams and the destruction of hundreds of mosques. That same day Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic led more than 300 Sarajevo Muslims on the Haj as the guests of the Saudi government, together with 100 more pilgrims from elsewhere in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Finally, Reuters quotes the main food-relief agency working in ex-Yugoslavia, the World Food Program, as saying that it needs $150 million to feed over four million people in the area. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. BELGRADE TO START TALKS WITH HUNGARIANS IN VOJVODINA. During a short stop in Budapest on 17 May Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Zeljko Simic signaled to Foreign Minister Geza Jeszenszky that Belgrade is about to start negotiations with the Democratic Community of Hungarians in Vojvodina on minority rights. Simic promised that Belgrade would soon take concrete steps to solve the problems of ethnic Hungarians, and urged Hungary to more actively participate in international efforts to resolve the Balkan crisis. Ties between Budapest and Belgrade have been strained over the rights of ethnic Hungarians in Vojvodina. The Hungarian government advocates limited self-rule for Hungarians in regions where they form a majority. Edith Oltay, RFE/RL, Inc. BULGARIA, TURKEY DISCUSS BOSNIA. At a press conference in Ankara on 17 May, Turkish Foreign Minister Hikmet Cetin and his Bulgarian counterpart Stanislav Daskalov declared that they had exchanged views on the present situation in the Balkan peninsula and especially regarding the Bosnian war. As quoted by Reuters, Daskalov said Sofia continues to oppose the involvement of any Balkan state in the conflict, but does not object to Turkey stationing a peace keeping contingent in Bosnia. His remarks suggest a slight change in Bulgaria's position, which, since the idea of inviting Turkey to join the UNPROFOR forces gained momentum at the UN headquarters early this spring, has repeatedly warned that the initiative could serve to heighten tensions in the Balkans. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc. ROMANIA HELPS SET UP FOOD CORRIDOR TO MACEDONIA. In a report from Bucharest on 17 May, Reuters quoted a Romanian customs official as saying his country will help open a "customs corridor" to speed up food shipments from Western Europe to landlocked Macedonia. The official, Mihai Panzariu, said that the truck route to Macedonia across Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria will start up late this month. It will provide fast passage for truck loaded with meat, milk and livestock for Macedonia. Panzariu said that the trucks would be checked by joint Romanian-Hungarian and Romanian-Bulgarian customs teams. Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL, Inc. KLAUS REJECTS SUDETEN GERMAN INVITATION. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus rejected an invitation to attend the annual congress of Sudeten German organizations that is to be held later this week in Nuremberg, Rude pravo reported on 18 May. Klaus was quoted as having said at a press conference that he considers the invitation by the spokesman of the Sudeten Germans, who were collectively expelled from Czechoslovakia after WW II, "a provocation." A number of other Czech politicians who were invited to address the congress, including the Chairman of the Czech Parliament, Milan Uhde, turned down the offer, saying that officials will not negotiate with Sudeten German organizations. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec expressed his surprise and dismay about recent statements of his Austrian counterpart Alois Mock, who publicly urged Prague to enter a dialogue with Sudeten Germans and compared the expulsion of Germans from Czechoslovakia with the policy of "ethnic cleansing" in Bosnia. Mock, along with a number of high-ranking German politicians will attend the congress in Nuremberg. Jan Obrman, RFE/RL, Inc. CZECHS REJECT WESTERN INVESTMENT OFFER. Speaking to journalists in Prague on 17 May, Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus announced that the Czech government had decided to reject a $520 million investment offer from a Western consortium interested in taking over two of the most profitable Czech refineries--Kaucuk Kralupy and Chemopetrol Litvinov. Klaus said that the petrochemical industry will be privatized but that the government had decided in favor of local companies and capital. The rejected consortium consists of four Western oil companies--France's Total, Italy's Agip, Conoco of the United States, and Royal Dutch Shell. "We have no interest in separating our refineries from the rest of the petrochemical industry," said Klaus. Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAK CABINET PROPOSALS. On 17 May the Slovak cabinet approved a proposal for a law on the prevention of conflicts of interest for government officials and other high-ranking state representatives which is comparable to the law in Austria, TASR reports. Also on 17 May the cabinet approved a proposal to issue state bonds to cover the country's 1993 budget deficit, which totaled 31.8 billion koruny. According to a Finance Ministry report, the previous administration spent 248 million koruny in the second half of 1992 and 543 million koruny in 1993 for no justifiable reason. Also on 17 May Finance Minister Rudolf Filkus announced that the cabinet had approved a revision of the law on VAT, raising the tax rate on about 10% of commodities (mainly on luxury foodstuffs) from 6% to 25%. In other economic news, the Slovak unemployment rate fell 0.37% in April, reaching 14.17%. Also, an IMF mission is expected in Slovakia beginning on 18 May to discuss measures to increase state budget revenues as well as the possibilities of granting a stand-by loan to Slovakia. Filkus noted that confidence in the koruna is growing, as foreign currency reserves have increased while the inflation rate and the budget deficit were low during the first quarter of 1994. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. PAWLAK EMBARRASSED OVER MONTE CASSINO. A spontaneous outpouring of public support for elderly Polish veterans unable to attend ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of the battle of Monte Cassino, in which the Polish II Corps under General Wladyslaw Anders played a crucial role, has embarrassed Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak's government. The press revealed on 14 May that the president and the prime minister would travel separately to the ceremonies in Italy on 18 and 19 May, at the head of large official delegations, but that little space had been reserved for the veterans themselves, who were left to fund their own travel by bus. A fund drive organized by Malgorzata Niezabitowska, spokesman for the Mazowiecki government, collected 1 billion zloty ($45,500) virtually overnight. A special LOT flight was chartered. Faced with public outrage, the finance minister allocated, in a last-minute gesture, 1 billion zloty from government reserves, which may not normally be used for current expenditure. The opposition seized the occasion to criticize the government for neglecting veterans. Government officials expressed concern that the ceremonies might become "too crowded." On 17 May Pawlak, who arrived in Rome ahead of the ceremonies, was received by Pope John Paul II . He also met with Italian President, Oscar Luigi Scalfero, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Italian businessmen, PAP reports. Louisa Vinton and Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka, RFE/RL, Inc. ALBANIAN FARMERS END HUNGER STRIKE. About 60 farmers ended their nine-day hunger strike in the northeastern town of Kukes, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 14 May. The farmers were demanding compensation for their homes and property which were flooded thanks to the hydroelectric project there in the 1970's. The government has now promised the farmers new building sites and long term credits on favorable conditions following talks with the demonstrators on 12 May. The hunger strike began on 4 May, after hundreds of farmers occupied the town hall of Kukes and clashed with the police. At least 24 people were injured in the incidents. Fabian Schmidt, RFE/RL, Inc. KLEPSCH ENDS ROMANIAN VISIT. European Parliament President Egon Klepsch ended on 17 May a two-day official visit to Romania. Radio Bucharest broadcast live his address to a joint session of the parliament's two houses, in which he praised Romania's progress towards democracy and a free market economy and urged further steps in the same direction. On the same day, Klepsch was received by Romanian President Ion Iliescu. He also met with Foreign Affairs Minister Teodor Melescanu, Minister of State Mircea Cosea, leaders of parliamentary factions, as well as with the Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church, Teoctist. At a press conference Klepsch stressed that Romania's integration into the European Union thoroughly depends on its democratic performance and that no deadline can be set in advance for its admission to the union. Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL, Inc. SENIOR US OFFICIAL IN MOLDOVA. Following talks with President Mircea Snegur and other Moldovan officials on 13 May, the US State Department coordinator for relations with the ex-Soviet republics, James Collins, told the media in Chisinau that the US supports Moldova's independence, territorial integrity, and efforts to bring about the withdrawal of foreign troops from its territory, ITAR-TASS and Basapress reported. Collins, who has succeeded Strobe Talbott in that post, said that he found Moldova committed to democracy, economic reforms, and flexibility in settling the Dniester conflict. Snegur reaffirmed the refusal to host Russian military bases or to "synchronize" the withdrawal of Russian troops with the Russian-mediated talks on Transdniester's political status. Moldovan Foreign Minister Mihai Popov in turn voiced gratitude for the readiness of the US to extend "political, economic, and moral support, both bilateral and in international organizations," on the foreign troop issue and in assisting Moldova's reforms. Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. UKRAINE AND THE EU. Ukrainian television reported that at the EU ministers of foreign affairs meeting in Brussels on 17 May, the first item on the agenda was a EU aid package to Ukraine. An agreement on partnership and cooperation is to be signed between Ukraine and the EU on 24-25 June in Corfu. Reuters reported, however, that it was decided to put off implementing the accord until Ukraine joins the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Deputy foreign minister, Borys Tarasyuk, criticized the EU for attempting to pressure Ukraine into joining the NPT. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. IMF CONDITIONS CREDIT TO BELARUS. On 18 May Interfax reported that the IMF has placed conditions on releasing the second part of a $98 million credit to Belarus. According to the IMF representative in Belarus, Wim Middlekoop, the country has been paralyzed in the last six months by the presidential election campaign and by hopes that the monetary union with Russia will pull Belarus out of its economic crisis. Middlekoop stated that if Belarus was slow in implementing economic reforms after the monetary merger, the IMF would be hampered in allotting the second part of the credit and Belarus could not count on any interest on the part of international creditors and Western investors. The IMF recommended that the Belarusian government establish limits for the emission of credit and money each quarter; increase the interest rates on credits and deposits to a level above the inflation rate; reduce the amount of credit given out by the National Bank of Belarus; and limit state interference in regulating the foreign currency market. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. MORE ON FOURTH BALTIC ASSEMBLY SESSION. The Fourth Session of the Baltic Assembly, held in Jurmala between 13 and 15 May, was attended not only by Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian parliamentarians, but also by representatives from other European countries and organizations. Knud Enggaard of the Nordic Council praised the Baltics for their vigorous political activity and their efforts to cooperate not only among themselves, but also with other countries and organizations. The Assembly focused on many specific issues and also formulated broader documents, including a declaration on parliamentary cooperation between the Baltic Assembly and the Consultative Interparliamentary Council of Benelux. On the last day a memorandum on minorities and national identity in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania was adopted. The document urges European countries to consider the population situation in the Baltic States in its historic perspective and to opt for a comprehensive approach for solving the national minorities issues there, rather than a narrow one, LETA reported on 16 May. Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc. ESTONIA WORKS ON REPATRIATION POLICY. Prime Minister Mart Laar told the press on 17 May that Population Minister Peeter Olesk has been designated to work out the guidelines for a policy of repatriation of aliens and that money for this project would have to be allocated by the parliament. Laar advocated reducing the funds for the construction of housing in Russia for those who would go there, and increasing the funds for direct payments to those who actually left Estonia. Laar also urged those responsible for issuing residence and work permits to non citizens to speed up the process. Some of these issues--including the need to issue exit documents for those who want to repatriate to Russia, were also discussed by Estonian President Lennart Meri and CSCE High Commissioner for Minorities Max van der Stoel, Interfax reported on 17 May. Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc. SOME LATVIAN ELECTION CANDIDATES COOPERATED WITH KGB? Dainis Vanags, chairman of the Commission Investigating the Crimes of Totalitarian Regimes, told Diena on 17 May that the commission has examined 1818 lists of candidates for local government positions in Latvia against information found in KGB files. Vanags said that so far about 120 candidates out of a total of about 12,000 candidates may have cooperated at one point with the KGB. He added that since the commission has not received all the lists of candidates, these figures are necessarily approximate. Latvian elections laws forbid those who worked or collaborated with the KGB to run for public office. Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc. [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Vladimir Socor and Michael Shafir 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. 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