When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece. - John Ruskin
RFE/RL Daily Report

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
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Please write to us with any comments, questions or suggestions -- Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole