It is the chiefest point of happiness that a man is willing to be what he is. - Erasmus
RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 98, 25 May 1994

CIS

MOVEMENT IN CRIMEAN TALKS . . . On 24 May talks began in Kiev
between Crimean and Ukrainian officials to defuse the crisis in
the peninsula, various agencies reported. The Ukrainian side was
led by deputy Borys Olinyk and the Crimean side by its
parliamentary speaker, Serhii Tsekov. Olinyk later said the talks
were constructive. Both sides agreed to establish a joint working
group which is to meet in Simferopol to try to resolve the Crimean
issue and both sides agreed not to undertake any action to
implement decisions adopted earlier. That same day it was reported
that Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk criticized his Russian
counterpart, Boris Yeltsin, for violating international law by
intervening in the crisis between Kiev and Crimea by issuing
baseless warnings. According to Kravchuk, Crimea is an internal
Ukrainian affair and while Yeltsin can issue warnings to his own
government bodies he may not do so to other countries.  Ustina
Markus, RFE/RL, Inc.

. . . AND PROGRESS OVER BLACK SEA FLEET. Some progress was
reported during talks between Russian Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin and Ukrainian Acting Prime Minister Efim Zvyahilsky
in Moscow regarding the division of the Black Sea Fleet, various
agencies reported. Agreement was reportedly reached on the
division of the fleet, but negotiations remain deadlocked over the
issue of basing. Moscow wants to retain the base at Sevastopol as
well as four other Crimean ports, while Kiev insists that only
Sevastopol can serve as its main base and wants to restrict Russia
to only one base. Neither side made any comments regarding the
situation in Crimea. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc.

RUSSIAN POLITICIANS ON CRIMEAN CRISIS. Russian media have claimed
that responsibility for the Crimean crisis rests with Kiev, not
Simferopol. On 23 May Ostankino TVs main evening news program
(which is received throughout Ukraine as well as Russia) broadcast
comments from both Russian State Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin and
presidential assistant Sergei Filatov implying that Kravchuk was
exploiting the crisis so he could retain the presidency. On 24
May, Kravchuk responded, questioning whether Rybkin represented
the position of the Russian state, according to a report from AFP.
John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc.

OSTANKINO TV HAS PRESS CREDENTIALS REVOKED. On 24 May, Ostankino
TVs news program announced that the Ukrainian government had
revoked its press credentials, alleging biased reporting on the
Crimean crisis. Reuters confirmed on 25 May that Kravchuk had
denounced the Russian media for spreading rabid and dishonest
information and had revoked the credentials of at least three
Ostankino TV reporters. Part of the reason may have been an
unusual commentary by Genrikh Borovik, broadcast on 23 May, who
opined that politicians main interest is remaining in power,
compared the situation in Crimea to that at the beginning of the
war over Nagorno-Karabakh, called for a peaceful resolution, and
concluded that Yeltsin was perhaps the only figure able to avert a
tragedy. While Boroviks plea for peace was evidently genuine, it
could also have been interpreted in Ukraine as an attempt to deter
any assertive Ukrainian move and undermine Ukraines position on
the Crimea issue.  John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc.

UKRAINIAN SENTENCED TO DEATH IN NAGORNO-KARABAKH. A Ukrainian
pilot was sentenced to death in Nagorno-Karabakh, ITAR-TASS
reported on 24 May. Capt. Yurii Bylychenko was sentenced by a
military tribunal for flying 16 bombing missions over civilian
centers in Nagorno-Karabakh in Azeri planes in August 1992 which
resulted in the deaths and casualties of numerous civilians.
Bylychenko has the right to ask the Supreme Soviet of
Nagorno-Karabakh for clemency and intends to do so. That same day
Interfax reported that Russia has appealed to all countries,
especially CIS states, to take measures to prevent the hiring of
Russian citizens as mercenaries. A Russian is also to be tried for
similar activities in Nagorno-Karabakh.  Ustina Markus, RFE/RL,
Inc.

                              RUSSIA

PRELIMINARY ASSURANCES TO NATO. In remarks to reporters following
talks in Brussels with NATO defense officials on 24 May, Russian
Defense Minister Pavel Grachev said that Russia was prepared to
sign NATOs Partnership for Peace program without demanding special
considerations. Reuters quoted Grachev as saying that Moscow would
not set forth any conditions . . . Yeltsin . . . has instructed me
to make clear that Russia will sign the Partnership for Peace.
Grachev did not indicate when Russia would sign the partnership
plan, however, and, according to The New York Times, said that he
would put forward a more comprehensive proposal for cooperation
between Russia and NATO during a second round of talks scheduled
for 25 May. For their part, NATO officials, including US Defense
Secretary William Perry, emphasized that Russia would not be
granted special status within the partnership, although they left
open the possibility that a separate NATO-Russian agreement might
be in the offing aimed at accommodating Moscows desire to stand on
a more equal footing with NATO.  Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc.

RYBKIN NAMED TO SECURITY COUNCIL. Speaker of the Russian State
Duma Ivan Rybkin was made a member of the Russian Security Council
according to a decree signed by Boris Yeltsin on 24 May, Russian
agencies reported. Rybkin is the first member of parliament to
take a seat on the Security Council since the body was reformed
following the December 1993 elections. In its first incarnation
(prior to the passage of the new constitution) the Security
Councils statutory members included the first deputy chairman of
the Supreme Soviet (now defunct). Suzanne Crow, RFE/RL, Inc.

AMBARTSUMOV TO MEXICO. Evgenii Ambartsumov, a deputy in the
Russian State Duma and former chairman of the Supreme Soviet
Committee on International Affairs and Foreign Economic Ties, was
named by Boris Yeltsin on 24 May ambassador to Mexico. Throughout
1992-93, Ambartsumov was an ardent foe of any Western-orientation
in Russian foreign policy and a sharp critic of Foreign Minister
Andrei Kozyrev. Prior to the collapse of the USSR, Ambartsumov,
born in 1929, worked as the head of the section on political
problems at the Institute of Economics of the World Socialist
System. He was also a publicist and supported economic reform. His
ambassadorial appointment suggests either that he has grown weary
of the political struggles in Moscow and therefore sought a new
job for himself or that he was effectively removed from the scene
in Moscow by those who fear his influence in domestic and foreign
political affairs.  Suzanne Crow, RFE/RL, Inc.

WAGE CONTROLS PROPOSED. Labor Minister Gennadii Melikyan told a
news conference on 20 May that his staff and the Ministries of
Finance and Economics had prepared a draft decree on top salaries,
Interfax reported. If the decree is approved, maximum monthly
earnings would be limited to 14 times the minimum wage which, in
July, is expected to be 20,000 rubles. Penal tax rates would be
levied on those enterprises that granted wage hikes of more than
70 percent of the increase in the retail price index. On the same
day, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin denied reports that the
government was planning a wage freeze: all that was intended, he
claimed, was the regulation of super-high wages. Keith Bush,
RFE/RL, Inc.

PROGRESS AND SETBACKS IN THE PRIVATIZATION PROCESS. In an
interview with RFE/RL on 24 May, Deputy Prime Minister and State
Property Committee Chairman Anatolii Chubais said that a detailed
plan for the privatization of land will be completed this week and
sent to the State Duma. On the same day, The Guardian reported
that the higher arbitration court had dismissed an appeal by one
of the best known commercial investment funds, Neft-Almaz-Invest,
to regain its operating license that was suspended in March. This
would appear to mean that hundreds of thousands of Russians who
have invested their vouchers in the fund, have lost their money,
damaging the credibility of the privatization program.  Keith
Bush, RFE/RL, Inc.

REDUCTION OF AGRICULTURAL SUBSIDIES? Deputy Prime Minister
Aleksandr Zaveryukha confirmed that the agricultural lobby had
managed to raise the level of farm support in the draft budget for
1994 from 9 to 18.1 trillion rubles, Interfax reported on 20 May.
The minister in charge of agriculture, nevertheless, intimated
that the government plans to move away from direct subsidies to
the agricultural sector to other measures. These include the
restructuring of loss-making farms, the reduction of state
purchases of agricultural products, and the recently announced
switch to a large-scale wholesale and retail network for
foodstuffs. Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc.

RUSSIAS FIVE ARMIES. Chief of the Russian Armys General Staff
Mikhail Kolesnikov complained at a closed meeting of the
parliamentary Committee on Defense about the existence of parallel
armies in the country, Komsomolskaya pravda reported on 24 May.
Kolesnikov stated that there are currently 4 million persons under
arms in Russia. He said that Russia now has five armies since
apart from the armed forces, which consist of 2.3 million men,
other government institutions, such as the Federal
Counterintelligence Service, the Ministry for Emergency Events,
the Federal Agency of Government Communications, and the
Presidential Guard have created their own military formations.
Kolesnikov affirmed that Russias budget cannot afford to support
five armies. Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, Inc.

                  TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

UZBEK SECRET POLICE TRY AGAIN. The Union of Councils for Soviet
Jews (UCSJ) released a statement on 20 May, confirming reports
that the Uzbek secret police attempted to abduct five Uzbek human
rights activists attending a UCSJ-sponsored conference in Almaty,
Kazakhstan. According to the statement, an Uzbek lieutenant
colonel made inquiries about the five delegates at the Kazakhstan
Hotel, whereupon a witness reported the incident to the
conference. Later that day (17 May), Kazakhstans Deputy Interior
Minister and Deputy Procurator jointly announced to the conference
that four Uzbek security officers had been deported. The five
Uzbek activists included Abdumannob Pulatov, whom the Uzbek secret
police had kidnapped from a similar conference in Bishkek,
Kyrgyzstan, in December 1992. Several other Uzbeks were prevented
from attending the Almaty conference by being jailed or placed
under house arrest; one of them, Vasiliya Inoyatova, was arrested
on Kazakh territory and taken back to Uzbekistan.  Keith Martin,
RFE/RL, Inc.

COMPLAINT OF CENSORSHIP IN KYRGYZSTAN. A recently adopted law on
protecting state secrets in Kyrgyzstan is causing journalists in
that country to protest that the provisions of the law are
tantamount to a restoration of censorship, according to a Russian
TV news report of 21 May. Kyrgyzstani journalists raised an outcry
earlier in the year over an attempt by the government to institute
censorship of information media, which have been among the freest
in Central Asia. An editor of the newspaper Respublika, who
described the new law as a curtailment of democracy, listed for
Russian TV some of the topics that can no longer be discussed in
the media: condition of roads, epidemics, livestock deaths, and
shifts in prices.  Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc.

GAMSAKHURDIAS SUPPORTERS ANNOUNCE COMEBACK. Members of the seven
parties represented in deceased Georgian president Zviad
Gamsakhurdias Round Table/Free Georgia coalition announced at a
news conference in Tbilisi on 23 May that they were reconstituting
the coalition with the aim of overthrowing the existing
Shevardnadze leadership by exclusively peaceful means, Interfax
reported on 23 May. A prominent Gamsakhurdia supporter had been
arrested in Tbilisi on 19 May and charged with treason, inciting
inter-ethnic conflict and organizing armed resistance against the
authorities, according to Interfax.  Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc.

                    CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

BOSNIAN LEADERS TO DISCUSS PEACE IN FRANCE. On 24 May RFE/RLs
South Slavic Language Service reported that Bosnian Croat, Muslim,
and Serb leaders are separately to meet with mediators from
France, Germany, Great Britain, Russia, and the United States in
the French resort town of Talloires in a bid to bring peace to
war-torn Bosnia and Herzegovina. Early indications suggest the
talks may be difficult; on 24 May Reuters reported that Momcilo
Krajisnik, speaker of the self-proclaimed Bosnian Serb parliament
implied that the Bosnian Serb side would not attend the meetings
with a conciliation mind and quotes him as saying that The
pressure is put only on the Serbs . . . The Serbs are the only
ones harmed, who have sanctions upon them. Meanwhile, Reuters and
AFP both report that French Foreign minister Alain Juppe has said
that if the Talloires talks fail, France would consider
withdrawing its peacekeepers from Bosnia. On 24 May NATO defense
ministers resolved at a Brussels meeting that there ought to be no
unilateral pullout of peacekeepers. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc.

CROATIA, SERBIA UPDATE. On 25 May the Croatian press reports that
on 24 May Stipe Mesic was officially relieved of duties as
parliamentary speaker, and replaced by Nedjeljko Mihanovic. In
other news, on 24 May RFE/RLs South Slavic Language Service
reported that rump Yugoslavia is not invited to a meeting of
non-aligned countries to be held in Cairo from 31 May to 3 June.
According to sources in the Egyptian foreign ministry, the
decision to not invite Belgrade was made by Egypt and Indonesia,
currently holding the Presidency of the movement, since rump
Yugoslavia is not regarded as the successor state of socialist
Yugoslavia. Socialist Yugoslavia was a founding member of the
non-aligned movement, which was established in Belgrade in 1961.
Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc.

HUNGARIAN SOCIALISTS TO NAME PRIME MINISTER CANDIDATE IN JUNE.
Hungarian Socialist Party managing deputy chairman Imre Szekeres
told a press conference on 24 May that the party will decide about
its prime minister candidate at an extraordinary congress on June
4, MTI reports. Among the possible candidates are: HSP chairman
Gyula Horn, HSP economic expert Laszlo Bekesi, and the political
scientist Mihaly Bihari. Szekeres said that the HSP leadership has
not asked former reform communist prime minister Miklos Nemeth to
be its candidate. The person of the prime minister will play a
very important role in possible coalition talks between the HSP
and the Alliance of Free Democrats. The AFD has rejected Horn as
prime minister in favor of its own prime minister candidate Gabor
Kuncze and has stated that there is little chance that it will
enter into a coalition with the HSP if the HSP gains an absolute
majority in the second round of elections on 29 May.  Edith Oltay,
RFE/RL, Inc.

FOREIGN INVESTORS ALARMED BY THE RETURN OF THE FORMER COMMUNISTS
IN HUNGARY. MTI reported on 20 May that a 15 billion forint ($150
million) government debt issue has been undersubscribed and that
foreigners bought only 1%. Total subscription amounted to 58% of
the offering. The Financial Times reported that US investors in
particular have been alarmed by the resurgence of the Hungarian
Socialist Party and the prospect of their return to office after
the second and decisive round of voting on 29 May. The
underwriting failure may have been caused also by the new nature
of this government security, because the issue was the first ever
forint-nominated government debt issue.  Karoly Okolicsanyi,
RFE/RL, Inc.

MORE FRICTION OVER POLISH ARMY COMMAND. A government debate on
revisions of the military command structure was cut short after
only 12 minutes on 24 May, PAP reports. President Lech Walesa, who
was present, insisted that the government send its reform plans to
the National Defense Committee (KOK) for review before taking
action on them. The governments plans were drafted by the defense
ministry and approved by a special government defense commission
at its inaugural session on 19 May. Walesa opposes them, as they
would subordinate the General Staff chief to the defense minister,
rather than directly to the president. Walesa has also long
striven to make the KOK, an ill-defined institution inherited from
the communist period that he chairs, the chief body responsible
for defense matters. The tug-of-war over the defense command has
given rise to rumors that Defense Minister Piotr Kolodziejczyk
plans to resign. Kolodziejczyk denied these rumors on 24 May.
Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc.

FREEDOM UNION BUILDS SHADOW CABINET? The National Council of the
Freedom Union, formed in April as a result of the merger between
the Democratic Union and the Liberal Democratic Congress, voted on
21 May to set up 11 secretariats to monitor government policy and
activities in specific areas, and named national secretaries to
head them, PAP reports. The 11 areas are: economic policy,
economic system, foreign affairs, agriculture, local government,
social policy, culture, education, ecology, health, and security.
The idea was hotly debated within the national council, with
opponents claiming that party rank-and-file had not been
consulted, and advocates arguing that the secretariats would
enliven the partys programmatic discussions, give it new impetus,
and enhance its public image before the imminent local elections.
The party leadership tried to counter the impression, caused by
press leaks in advance of the meeting, that the secretariats were
conceived as a shadow cabinet.  Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka, RFE/RL,
Inc.

POLISH COPYRIGHT LAW TAKES EFFECT. A copyright law protecting
intellectual property rights, extending them to computer software,
and providing fiscal and penal sanctions for their abuse took
effect in Poland on 23 May. Intellectual piracy first appeared in
Poland on a large scale after 1989, and Poland came under strong
pressure from the US-based International Intellectual Property
Alliance to bring its legislation and practice in line with world
standards. Nicholas Garnett, Director General of the International
Federation of the Phonographic Industry, told a press conference
in Warsaw on 23 May that it was a great day for artists in Poland,
signaling to the entire world that Poland is going in the right
direction, PAP said. Polish artists and experts welcomed the law
but expressed skepticism as to its ability to curb piracy.  Anna
Sabbat-Swidlicka, RFE/RL, Inc.

SLOVAK CABINET REEVALUATES 1994 BUDGET. On 24 May Finance Minister
Rudolf Filkus announced in a press conference that the cabinet
approved a proposal to implement measures to keep the 1994 state
budget deficit within 4% of GDP. The measures include increasing
VAT from 6 to 25% on 10% of all goods beginning on 1 June. Also on
1 June, consumer taxes on beer, alcohol, tobacco and some crude
oil products would be raised by 10 to 15%. The cabinet would also
reevaluate tax deductible income and increase efforts to enforce
collection of taxes, customs fees and fines. These measures, which
were approved as a result of negotiations with the IMF concerning
a stand-by loan, would increase the state budget income by
approximately 5.5 billion koruny. Concerning expenditures, the
cabinet proposed to cut subsidies for agriculture, energy,
transport, the National Insurance Fund and defense in order to
reduce 1994 budget expenditures by about 2.54 billion koruny. In
another development, the cabinet voted to approve a temporary
social fund, which will be drawn from profits of enterprises to
provide social loans to employees. The law will be submitted to
the parliament later this month. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc.

BULGARIA, GREECE DISCUSS MACEDONIA. Stanislav Daskalov, Bulgarias
Foreign Minister, is on a three-day visit to Greece and on 24 May
he met with his counterpart Karolos Papoulias to discuss Balkan
security and especially issues related to the Republic of
Macedonia. Bulgarian political leaders have repeatedly made it
clear that they disapprove of Greeces present trade embargo
against Macedonia, aimed at pressuring Skopje to remove what
Athens regards as irredentist language from its constitution and a
Hellenic symbol from its flag. Western agencies quoted Daskalov as
stressing that all problems should be settled in negotiations. He
pointed out that Macedonian independence is in the interest of
Bulgaria as well as in that of other Balkan states. At the same
time, he indirectly reproached Macedonia by calling on its leaders
to speed up the democratization process. Papoulias said Athens
wants both the existence of the Skopje state and normalization in
relations with its government, but not until the latter has
abandoned its extreme positions. Daskalov met separately with
Greek President Constantine Karamanlis and Prime Minister Andreas
Papandreou.  Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc.

ALEXEI II ENDS BULGARIAN VISIT. On 23 May Russias Patriarch Alexei
II ended a five-day visit to Bulgaria, during which he met with
many of the countrys spiritual and political leaders. Bulgarian
Patriarch Maksim expressed support for Alexeis idea to convene a
conference of all confessions in Sarajevo, aimed at ending the
Bosnian war. Alexei said his visit had served to reaffirm the
traditionally good relations between the two churches, but
deplored that his efforts to mediate in the postcommunist schism
in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church--between top clerics appointed
during communist times and dissident priests--had failed. BTA
quoted him as calling the rift a tragedy for all [Bulgarian]
believers.  Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc.

SOME 60% OF THE WORK FORCE UNEMPLOYED IN TIRANA. The Statistical
Institute of Albania recently published new figures about the
employment rate in the capital. According to the data, among the
186,600 people of working age, about 73,500 or 40% are employed,
whereas 113,100 or about 60% are unemployed. The institute claims
that the study is based on analytic criteria of the International
Labor Organization. Among the employed, 26% work in the private
sector. Unemployment is especially high among the uneducated or
poorly educated and among those over 49. Gazeta Shqiptare carried
the figures on 15 May.  Fabian Schmidt, RFE/RL, Inc.

LABOR UNREST LOOMING IN ROMANIA. Reuters quoted on 24 May a
Romanian miners trade union leader as saying that thousands of
coal miners threaten to travel to Bucharest to press the
government for more social guarantees against redundancies.
Romanian miners have been involved in violence in Bucharest
several times during the past four years. In a separate
development, teachers announced they plan to stage a special type
of strike on 25 May, refusing to enter grades into school records
until their demands for better pay and more money for education in
general are met. On 24 May teachers from the town of Constanta
joined a march aimed at drawing public attention to the serious
situation in Romanias education sector, Radio Bucharest reported.
The new wave of labor protests comes less than one week after
22,000 Romanian roadworkers had staged a two-hour strike for pay
rises of 50% on 19 May. On the same day, some 2,000 teachers had
demonstrated in Bucharest to demand more spending on education.
Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL, Inc.

ROMANIAN GET-RICH-QUICK SCHEME CLOSES. In an open letter published
by Romanian media on 19 May, Ion Stoica, owner of the
controversial Caritas money-spinning scheme, said he is closing
it. Stoica added that he would do his best to repay depositors,
but he did not say how many would receive how much money or when.
He further blamed the press for the end of the program. Millions
of Romanian are reported to have invested in Caritas, whose
repayments have been interrupted in recent months. On 20 May some
2,000 people attended a meeting in Baia Mare in the hope of
getting some of their investments back from the Caritas.  Dan
Ionescu, RFE/RL, Inc.

DNIESTER LEADERS EXPOSED AS RUSSIAN FEDERATION CITIZENS. In a
statement issued on 23 May, the command of Russias 14th Army in
Moldova revealed that practically all the leaders of the Dniester
republic have secretly received Russian citizenship, ITAR-TASS
reported. The army command asked the Russian Federations
government to withdraw that citizenship from Igor Smirnov and
other Dniester leaders for their involvement in Mafia-type
activities, arms traffic, misuse of their Russian passports for
illicit business abroad, and support for anti-government forces in
the fighting in Moscow in October 1993. Interviewed by Basapress
in Tiraspol on 23 May, Dniester presidential spokesman Viktor
Biryukov acknowledged that some Dniester republic leaders are
indeed citizens of the Russian Federation. The armys statement is
but the latest of Lt.-Gen. Aleksandr Lebeds as yet unsuccessful
attempts to persuade the Russian government to change horses in
Tiraspol.  Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc.

MOLDOVA EMBRACES FRENCH-WEU STABILITY PLAN. In a statement
released on 20 May, Moldovas Foreign Ministry strongly endorsed
Frances Balladur plan, promoted by the West European Union, for a
Pact for Stability in Europe. Viewing it as having the potential
of an epoch-making initiative, comparable only to the CSCE
process, Moldova expects the Pact to establish an effective
mechanism for defusing conflicts generated by frontier or ethnic
problems, the Ministry said. It announced that Moldova will
participate in the preparation of the document beginning with the
inaugural session scheduled for 26-27 May in Paris.  Vladimir
Socor, RFE/RL, Inc.

HURD IN UKRAINE. British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd arrived in
Kiev on 24 May for talks with Ukrainian leaders, various agencies
reported. During the visit Hurd met with President Leonid Kravchuk
and urged that Ukrainian and Crimea find a negotiated solution to
their problems. Hurd also said that Britain recognized that Crimea
is a part of Ukraine. The visit followed Hurds three-day visit to
Russia. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc.

KOZYREV MEETS ESTONIAN LEADERS. On 24 May in Tallinn Russian
Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev met for two hours with Estonian
President Lennart Meri and Foreign Minister Juri Luik, Reuters
reports. The talks focused on the withdrawal of Russian troops
from Estonia by 31 August 1994 and Russian concerns about getting
social guarantees for retired servicemen. Meri said that progress
had been made toward a solution, noting judging by the atmosphere
that we had, I have not the slightest doubt that this deadline
will be met. Kozyrev is in Tallinn for the two-day meeting of the
ten foreign ministers of the Council of the Baltic Sea States that
began that evening.  Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc.

ESTONIAN GOVERNMENT CONFLICT CONTINUES. Baltic media reported on
22-24 May that following a request by Prime Minister Mart Laar,
Estonian President Lennart Meri had dismissed on 21 May both
Defense Minister Indrek Kannik and Justice Minister Kaido Kama.
The dismissal of the two ministers stems from discord within the
cabinet, as well as within Laars Pro Patria political party. Pro
Patria has nominated Urmas Arumae for justice minister and Raul
Opik for defense minister. Finance Minister and Liberal Democratic
Party member Heiki Kranich said that he too cannot continue as a
member of Prime Minister Laars Cabinet, though he would fulfill
his duties until the Pro Patria party congress, scheduled for 11
June. The Estonian parliaments coalition council is considering
what to do should Laar not be reelected as Pro Patria party
chairman and be forced to resign from the position of prime
minister.  Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc.

CRIME RATE IN ESTONIA HIGHEST AMONG THE BALTICS. Estonian Police
Chief Uuno Ellen told BNS on 18 May that the current crime rate in
Estonia per 10,000 residents is 74,2, in Latvia--50.0 and in
Lithuania--46.2. The overall number of crimes committed in the
Baltics from January through April of this year as compared with
the figures for the same period in 1993 declined by 14.1% in
Estonia, 32.7% in Latvia, and 20.3% in Lithuania. Ellen said that
the rate of violent crimes, fraud, blackmail, and illegal
possession of weapons had increased substantially in Estonia
during the first four months of this year as against the same
period last year. In the town of Narva, at the Russian border, car
thefts rose by 112%, while for Estonia as a whole the increase was
23%.  Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc.

  [As of 1200 CET]

  Compiled by Saulius Girnius and Michael Shafir
The RFE/RL DAILY REPORT, produced by the RFE/RL Research
Institute (a division of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Inc.)
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