Люди не рождаются, а становятся теми, кто они есть. - Гельвеций
RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 101, 30 May 1994

                                 RUSSIA

YELTSIN TO TATARSTAN. President Boris Yeltsin will start a two-day
working visit to Tatarstan on 30 May, ITAR-TASS reported. On 30
May he will visit the giant KamAZ truck plant in Naberezhnye
Chelni and on 31 May he will meet with the Tatarstan leadership in
Kazan. It will be the first meeting between Yeltsin and the
Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev since the treaty between
Russia and Tatarstan was signed in February. According to Deputy
Premier Sergei Shakhrai, during the course of Yeltsin's visit a
control commission to supervise the implementation of the treaty
will be set up, which Shakhrai expects to head from the Russian
side. Shakhrai told ITAR-TASS that the question of Russian
guarantees for commercial and foreign investment in Tatarstan's
automobile industry and agriculture would also be discussed.  Ann
Sheehy, RFE/RL, Inc.

ATTEMPT ON DUDAEV'S LIFE. Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev
escaped unharmed on 27 May when a car-bomb threw his car ten
meters. Chechen Interior Minister Magomed Eldiev, his deputy, Said
Ali Bateev, and their driver, who were traveling in another car in
Dudaev's motorcade, were all killed in the attack, ITAR-TASS and
other Russian media reported on 28 May. Speaking on local
television on 28 May, Dudaev described the attack as a carefully
organized diversion behind which stood forces opposed to a thaw in
Russian-Chechen relations. Ostankino television reported on 27 May
that, according to Dudaev's press service, close contact had been
established with Yeltsin's administration and preparations for a
meeting between Yeltsin and Dudaev were in full swing. Yaragi
Mamodaev, the head of the government of national accord, which is
not recognized by Dudaev, condemned the assassination attempt,
which he described as part of the process of self-destruction of
the Chechen people.  Ann Sheehy, RFE/RL, Inc.

GAIDAR ON DEFENSE CUTS. With an observation that will not endear
him to the military-industrial complex, most of his erstwhile
cabinet colleagues, or some leading presidential hopefuls, Egor
Gaidar has asserted that the country cannot afford the current
size of its armed forces, Interfax reported on 29 May. According
to Gaidar, Russia's Choice does not support the growing campaign
to raise the defense budget from 37.1 to 55 trillion rubles, and
will instead insist on cuts in the number of servicemen. Having
inherited the concept of massive ground forces from the Soviet
Union, Russia has been trying ever since to raise the number of
conscripts to match that of generals, Gaidar said, rather than
culling the hordes of generals. [37.1 trillion rubles would
represent 6 percent of anticipated GDP, while 55 trillion rubles
would be equivalent to nearly 9 per-cent of anticipated GDP--a
much higher share than any other major industrialized country
spends on defense.] Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc.

CHERNOMYRDIN WINDS UP VISIT TO CHINA. Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin returned to Russia on 29 May after a four-day visit
to China that was described by both sides as friendly and
successful. While in Beijing Chernomyrdin met with Chinese
President and Communist Party General Secretary Jiang Zemin, and
with Prime Minister Li Peng. According to XINHUA and Western
agencies, seven agreements were signed during the visit, covering
such issues as border management, marine transport, natural
resources protection and fishery resources protection. The two
sides announced their intention to continue strengthening
military-technical cooperation and were quoted as having given "a
positive appraisal to the ongoing negotiations on borders and on
cutting military forces in the border areas." A joint communique
at the conclusion of the visit said both sides were "determined to
move Sino-Russian relations to a new high," AFP reported.  Stephen
Foye, RFE/RL, Inc.

OPPOSITION TO FORM SHADOW CABINET. A meeting of the "Accord for
Russia" movement was held in Moscow on 28 May and attended by
representatives of those parties--including communists and Russian
nationalists--that refused to sign Yeltsin's Civic Accord last
month. Interfax said those present decided to convene an "Assembly
of National Unity" in the fall to approve the formation of a
shadow cabinet and formulate a program of action of the united
opposition. In the meantime, the meeting agreed to set up a
coordinating council which will decide on the composition of the
shadow cabinet. The council includes former Vice-President
Aleksandr Rutskoi; the leader of the Russian Communist Party,
Gennadii Zyuganov; and the chairman of the State Duma's committee
on economic policy, Sergei Glazyev.  Elizabeth Teague, RFE/RL,
Inc.

SOLZHENITSYN SAYS RUSSIA DOES NOT HAVE REAL DEMOCRACY. Speaking in
Vladivostok at his first news conference after returning to his
homeland, Alexander Solzhenitsyn said only "pseudo-democracy"
exists in Russia and that ordinary people still have no real
control over their lives, Western media reported. Solzhenitsyn
expressed doubts about the applicability to Russia of Western
democratic institutions, saying "only monkeys carry things about
from one place to another." He was also critical of what he
described as the "abandoning" of territory by Russia to other
former Soviet republics, specifically Ukraine and Kazakhstan. But
he declined to comment on the policies of President Yeltsin, who
sent him a welcoming telegram. Solzhenitsyn said he would comment
on Russia's current leadership only after he had spent more time
in the country.  Elizabeth Teague, RFE/RL, Inc.

                               CIS

BLACK SEA FLEET UPDATE. Russian and Ukrainian delegations are to
meet in Kiev in 10-15 days' time to continue discussions over the
division of the Black Sea Fleet, Ukrainian radio reported on 26
May. Talks held in Moscow on 24-26 May stalled over the issue of
the fleet's basing, but the actual division of the fleet did not
cause any conflict. According to Interfax on 28 May, the Ukrainian
navy commander, Volodymyr Bezkorovainy, said that agreement was
reached on dividing the fleet's aircraft and land-based troops
into two equal parts. It was also reported that Ukraine had put
forward five different proposals for the fleet's basing, but the
Russians would not budge from their position. The two sides have
agreed not to comment on the course of the negotiations or to
divulge any details of the basing proposals.  Ustina Markus,
RFE/RL, Inc.

MOLDOVA BACKS UKRAINE ON CRIMEA. Interviewed by Interfax on 27
May, Moldovan President Mircea Snegur said Moldova has "close,
good-neighborly relations" with Ukraine and "cannot regard with
indifference" the situation in Crimea, which "constitutes an
internal affair of independent and sovereign Ukraine." As quoted
in a press release from the presidential office, carried by
ITAR-TASS and Basapress on 27 May, Snegur went on to say that
"Outside interference is impermissible as it may lead to grave
consequences. Ukraine can and must resolve the situation on its
own on the basis of its constitution. It is essential that Ukraine
. . . preserve its territorial integrity." Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL,
Inc.

MOLDOVA'S STRATEGIC SIGNIFICANCE. Addressing an international
conference in Chisinau on regional security issues, sponsored by
the Euro-Atlantic Center, Ambassador Richard Samuel, chief of the
CSCE mission to Moldova, said "Moldova constitutes an area of
critical strategic importance in Europe, an area in which many
interests overlap, and where it is extremely important to find
ways to reduce tensions," ITAR-TASS and Basapress reported on 27
May. Samuel said CSCE's recommendations (which Moldova has
accepted but the "Dniester republic" has not) for a political
resolution of the Dniester conflict would give Transdniester
autonomy within an integral Moldova. While acknowledging Russia's
role in the negotiations to settle the conflict, Samuel said CSCE
would "not approve of any settlement that would define
Transdniester's political status outside Moldova." Vladimir Socor,
RFE/RL, Inc.

                  TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

KAZAKHSTANI PARLIAMENT ATTACKS GOVERNMENT. Kazakhstan's Supreme
Soviet passed a vote of no confidence in the government's
economic, social and legal policies, Russian news agencies
reported on 27 May. The vote cannot affect the government,
however, because under the Constitution only the president can
remove the prime minister and his cabinet. The no confidence
motion was presented by the Progress faction, who asserted that
Prime Minister Sergei Tereshchenko's anti-crisis program has
resulted in economic chaos. The support garnered by the
motion--111 of the 139 deputies present voted for it--indicates
that President Nursultan Nazarbaev may find the new professional
legislature less tractable than he expected.  Bess Brown, RFE/RL,
Inc.

KAZAKHSTAN JOINS NATO PARTNERSHIP. Kazakhstan's Foreign Minister
Kanat Saudbaev signed his country up for the NATO Partnership for
Peace program on 27 May, Western agencies reported. Talking to
journalists later, Saudbaev said that Russia's demand for special
status in the program should not be honored. Kazakhstan is the
second Central Asian state to join the program; the first was
Turkmenistan. Both Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan have expressed
interest in it.  Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc.

ADAMISHIN CRITICIZES TAJIK OPPOSITION. In an interview with
Interfax on 27 May, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Anatolii
Adamishin made a blunt attack on the Tajik opposition, and on the
UN's special emissary for Tajikistan, Ramirez Piris-Bollon.
Adamishin accused the opposition of intensifying raids across the
Tajik-Afghan border and of being involved in the recent spate of
killings in Tajikistan. He said the Russian Foreign Ministry "was
informed" that the Tajik opposition would try to use upcoming
talks with the Tajik government to put forth more demands, rather
than trying to find a compromise; he gave no source for this
information. Adamishin complained that Piris-Bollon had announced
the site and date of the next talks (Tehran, 7 June) between the
Tajik government and opposition, in which Russia, Pakistan and
Iran will act as mediators, without consulting the authorities in
Dushanbe. Adamishin's statement indicates why the Tajik opposition
views Moscow's "mediation" with skepticism.  Keith Martin, RFE/RL,
Inc.

AGA KHAN ON TAJIKISTAN. The Aga Khan, leader of the world's 25
million Ismailis, has expressed hope that a solution will be found
to Tajikistan's civil conflict. The answer, he suggested in
remarks made in Boston on 27 May and reported by Western media,
lies in combining Islamic values, Western science and democracy,
and the Communist social safety net. The Aga Khan Foundation is
involved in emergency relief operations in Tajikistan and northern
Afghanistan, and reportedly plans to open an office in Dushanbe
later this year. Tajikistan is home to a significant Ismaili
minority, many of whom were prominent members of the democratic
opposition which lost the 1992 civil war; their leader, Davlat
Khudonazarov, is in exile in the US. (Ismailis believe the Aga
Khan to be a direct descendant of Muhammed but, while their
religion is a branch of Shi'i Islam, orthodox Shi'is and Sunnis do
not recognize the Ismailis as fellow Muslims.) Keith Martin,
RFE/RL, Inc.

                    CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

FORMER COMMUNISTS GET ABSOLUTE MAJORITY IN HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT.
Preliminary voting results of the second round of the Hungarian
national elections held on 30 May show that the Hungarian
Socialist Party (HSP) led by Gyula Horn has received an absolute
majority and will hold 209 seats in the 386-member legislature,
Hungarian and foreign media report. This means that the former
communists won 54% of the votes, the center left opposition party
Alliance of Free Democrats came in second with 18%, and the former
ruling party Hungarian Democratic Forum was distant third with
9.8%. The Independent Smallholders' Party received 6.8%, the
Christian Democratic Peoples' Party 5.8%, and the Alliance of
Young Democrats, came in last with only 5.3% of the votes counted.
The results show that the HSP does not need a coalition partner in
order to govern, although it is said that Horn would like to form
a coalition with either the Free Democrats or one of the smaller
parties in order to share the burden of responsibility for
government decisions. Should the HSP and the Free Democrats form a
coalition, they could have a two-thirds parliamentary majority and
could even change the constitution without the consent of the
other parties.  Judith Pataki, RFE/RL, Inc.

BOSNIAN PARLIAMENT TO MEET. On 30 May international agencies
report that the Bosnian parliament is to convene on 30 May. High
on the agenda will be the ratification of the Muslim-Croat
federation, as well as the selection of new officials who will
hold office for a sixth-month term, until elections are held. It
is widely speculated that the Bosnian Croat leader Kresimir Zubak
will be named President, while Ejup Ganic is expected to become
vice-president. Haris Silajdzic, current prime minister, will
likely retain his post. In other news, on 28 May AFP reported that
representatives from the Bosnian Croat, Muslim and Serb sides have
been invited to talks in Geneva on 2-3 June, with the aim of
securing an immediate ceasefire. On 28 and 29 May RFE/RL's South
Slavic Language Service reported that fighting between Bosnian
Muslims, aided by their Croat allies, and Bosnian Serbs has been
observed throughout northern Bosnia. Finally, on 28 May Reuters
reported that 342 Serbs left Sarajevo that day on a bus bound for
Serb-controlled Bosnian territory.  Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc.

CROATIA ADOPTS KUNA. On 30 May international media report that on
that day, Croatia's national day, the Croatian government will
adopt a new currency, called the kuna, while doing away with the
dinar. The new currency, which is to have a value of approximately
20 US cents, is shrouded in controversy. Its name was previously
used by Croatia's Second World War fascist regime, and thus the
restoration of the name has led to protests from Croatia's Serbian
and Jewish communities (as well as from Croatian opposition
leaders), which were victimized by fascist authorities during the
Second World War. On 29 May Reuters quoted Croatian President
Franjo Tudjman as defending the kuna by arguing that its adoption
shows "proof of Croatian sovereignty." The Serbian media,
meanwhile, argue that the kuna's restoration demonstrates at the
very least Zagreb's lack of judgement. On 30 May the Belgrade
daily Politika covers the story under the headline "What Kind of
Croatia is Shown by the Kuna." Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc.

UPDATE ON GREEK-ALBANIAN ROW. Sharp exchanges have taken place
between Athens and Tirana after a number of Albanian Greeks
reportedly were taken in for questioning by Albanian authorities.
The row broke out on 26 May when Greek Foreign Minister Karalos
Papoulias said several Greek minority rights activists had been
arrested and "strongly warned" Albania not to ignore the rights of
ethnic Greeks. Addressing the Paris conference on stability in
Europe on the next day, Albanian Foreign Minister Alfred Serreqi
denied the charges and accused Athens of spreading disinformation
about the situation of Greeks. Back in Athens, ambassadors of the
11 other European Union states were summoned to the Foreign
Ministry and called upon to help settle the dispute. Daily
Telegraph of 28 May quoted New Democracy party leader Miltiades
Evert as saying that "war is possible." While Albanian President
Sali Berisha in an interview with Voice of America on 29 May spoke
of the possibilities of resuming dialogue, the next day the Tirana
Foreign Ministry issued a statement warning that Athens will bear
the responsibility if another conflict erupts in the Balkans.
Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc.

INDIAN PRESIDENT IN BULGARIA. On 26 May Indian President Shanker
Dayal Sharma arrived on a visit to Bulgaria. On the first day of
the visit, Sharma met with his Bulgarian counterpart Zhelyu Zhelev
and attended a ceremony where ministers signed five bilateral
accords on cooperation in the fields of tourism, customs, fighting
organized crime, terrorism, drug- and arms-trafficking, as well as
a double taxation agreement. After speaking to the National
Assembly about the traditions of Indian parliamentarism on 27 May,
he went on to have discussions with Bulgarian Indologists and
businessmen. Shanker then traveled to Varna for a two-day
unofficial visit to the Black Sea coast.  Kjell Engelbrekt,
RFE/RL, Inc.

CZECH-FRENCH MILITARY EXERCISES BEGIN. Joint Czech-French military
exercises began on 29 May in both France and the Czech Republic,
Czech TV reported. While French troops will be involved in
exercises in South Bohemia, Czech soldiers and officers will train
in Clermont-Ferrand in France. The Czech Defense Ministry has said
that one of the objectives of the joint exercises is to
demonstrate the ability of the Czech Army to cooperate with NATO
forces.  Jan Obrman, RFE/RL, Inc.

SLOVAK PARLIAMENT APPROVES LAW ON NAMES. On 27 May the Slovak
parliament approved the cabinet's version of the amendment to the
law on names, allowing ethnic minorities in Slovakia to omit the
"-ova" suffix from female surnames and permitting the use of
Hungarian versions of first names, TASR and CTK reported. Of 124
deputies present, 72 voted in favor and 48 voted against. The
controversial amendment has been a subject of dispute between
Slovaks and ethnic Hungarians. Before the vote, members of the
Slovak National Party walked out of the parliament, while members
of the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia left in protest after
the outcome of the vote was announced. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc.

SLOVAK PARLIAMENT CHAIRMAN CRITICIZES KOVAC. Slovak parliament
Ivan Gasparovic, a member of the opposition Movement for a
Democratic Slovakia, on 29 May criticized President Michal Kovac
for having "complicated" the political situation through
involvement in "hard politics," thus preventing the previous
government from carrying out is program. Kovac's speech to the
parliament on 9 March had sparked the no-confidence vote in the
government of former Premier and MDS Chairman Vladimir Meciar.
Gasparovic also criticized the current parliament, saying it is
torn by "conflicts and disagreements" and is "unable to make
unambiguous, progressive decisions." In other political news, on
28 May the Democratic Union decided to participate in the fall
parliamentary elections as an independent entity. Roman Kovac will
be the party leader for eastern Slovakia, Jozef Moravcik for
central Slovakia, Rudolf Filkus for western Slovakia and Milan
Knazko for Bratislava.  Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc.

POLISH SEJM SUPPORTS LIBERAL ABORTION PROVISIONS. The Sejm voted
by a wide margin to give accelerated treatment to proposals to
liberalize Poland's restrictive abortion legislation, but the lack
of a quorum on 28 May prevented a final vote. Draft amendments to
the penal code would legalize abortion in cases when the pregnant
woman faces a difficult material or personal situation. They would
also allow abortions to be performed in private clinics as well as
state facilities. Arguing in favor of the changes, the Freedom
Union's Barbara Labuda called existing restrictions "unfair,
crime-promoting, and demoralizing." They serve only to fuel
"abortion tourism," she argued, with poor women traveling east and
wealthy women traveling west. A motion to reject the amendments
failed by a vote of 109 to 215, with 33 abstentions. Passage thus
seems assured, with only the timing now in question. President
Lech Walesa told Polish TV on 29 May that he plans to veto the
amendments. In this event, the Sejm would need a two-thirds
majority to override the veto.  Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc.

NO VOTE ON POLISH WAGE CONTROLS. The lack of a quorum also
prevented a final Sejm vote on wage control provisions for state
firms, PAP reports. This legislation, designed to replace a bill
vetoed by President Lech Walesa in March, has already faced
considerable delay. A final vote may have to wait another two
weeks, and Walesa has hinted he will veto the new bill as well.
Poland is now ending its second month without wage controls;
economists remain divided over the potential inflationary impact.
In other parliamentary business, the Sejm approved a bill
requiring competitive bidding for all government contracts. The
vote was a resounding 358 to 1. This measure is designed to fight
corruption. The Sejm also approved legislation to allow banks to
treat reserves formed to offset accumulated "bad debts" as costs
rather than assets for tax purposes. This measure will cut
government revenues by 1.7 trillion zloty but improve the
financial condition of banks.  Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc.

SOLIDARITY STAGES PROTEST MARCH. According to police estimates,
about 10,000 unionists took part in a protest march organized by
Solidarity in Warsaw on 27 May as part of the union's campaign to
put pressure on the government. Turnout fell far short of the
union leadership's expectations. Protesters shouted anti-communist
and anti-government slogans. Gazeta Wyborcza reports, in addition,
that protesters heckled the private Radio Zet with anti-Semitic
chants and shouted "Thieves, thieves!" at the Stock Exchange
(located in former communist party headquarters). Demonstrators
refused to meet with a waiting government delegation or to accept
a government document prepared for the occasion, PAP reports. This
document restated the government's refusal to hold separate,
bilateral talks with Solidarity and instead endorsed ongoing
negotiations in the Tripartite Commission. The government also
argued that most of the union's demands are already the subject of
official negotiations. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc.

POLAND'S OPZZ PROCLAIMS INDEPENDENCE. The former official OPZZ
trade union federation, which held its third congress in Warsaw on
27-29 May, treated the Solidarity march as an affront. OPZZ
delegates reelected Ewa Spychalska to a second four-year term as
union chairman; she easily defeated a radical challenger,
Stanislaw Wisniewski. Spychalska vowed that the OPZZ, which is the
second largest force in the ruling Democratic Left Alliance (SLD),
will not provide a protective "umbrella" for any government or
political party. Government officials, guests at the congress,
used the occasion to praise the OPZZ's "creative" stance and
criticize Solidarity for clinging to the tactics of protest. Prime
Minister Waldemar Pawlak rejected criticism of government public
relations, arguing that concrete facts are the best "information
policy." Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Grzegorz
Kolodko unveiled his long-term economic "strategy for Poland,"
which predicts 22% GDP growth and 15% consumption growth in the
coming four years. SLD leader Aleksander Kwasniewski also
addressed the proceedings. The OPZZ, formed in 1984 as a
controlled substitute for banned Solidarity, is the largest union
organization in Poland, with 4.5 million members.  Louisa Vinton,
RFE/RL, Inc.

POLISH TOUR DIRECTOR RESURFACES, MINUS CASH. Stefan Sulimierski,
the "Mazovia" travel operator who vanished mysteriously in Rome
during the 50th anniversary commemorations of the battle of Monte
Cassino, resurfaced in Warsaw on 31 May. Sulimierski disappeared
on 14 May with at least $50,000 in cash meant to fund tour
expenses for several thousand elderly veterans who traveled to
Italy by bus. In an incoherent interview with Polish TV on 31 May,
Sulimierski claimed he had been kidnapped, drugged, and taken to
Tunisia. "The money is gone," he said. The Monte Cassino events
have become a scandal in Poland, as the government is perceived as
having neglected veterans. Veterans' associations reportedly
selected the Mazovia firm on the recommendation of officials in
the Veterans' Office, who allegedly had private ties with
Sulimierski.  Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc.

GYPSY "EMPEROR" ARRESTED IN ROMANIA. Romanian police announced on
27 May the arrest of Iulian Radulescu, who calls himself "Emperor
of Gypsies Everywhere." A police officer told Reuters in a
telephone interview from Sibiu that Radulescu had been detained
one day earlier, after returning from a European Gypsy congress in
Spain. He is suspected of involvement in the theft of 30 tons of
copper bars and 100 kilograms of gold-bearing mud from a plant in
Zlatna, central Transylvania. Hours before his arrest Radulescu
denied in an interview with a Sibiu news agency that he was in any
way involved in the Zlatna theft. He told Reuters the accusations
were "a communist-type ploy" used by the authorities against the
Gypsies.  Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc.

ROMANIA'S FOREIGN DEBT RISES. Romanian media reported on 28 May
that the country's total foreign debt at the end of March was $
3,500 million. Most of the debt is owed to the International
Monetary Fund, which this month approved new loans for Romania,
totaling nearly $ 500 million. Romania also owes large sums to the
World Bank and to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Development.  Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc.

LATVIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ADMITS KGB TIES. Georgs Andrejevs, one of
the five parliament deputies suspended in April because of
accusations of having cooperated with the KGB, in a letter
published in Diena of 28 May admitted that he was recruited by the
KGB in 1963. He wrote that he had reported on his trips abroad and
on different scientific events, but denied supplying information
detrimental to his colleagues. Andrejevs argued that the most
active KGB collaborators remain unknown since their files were
destroyed and that only lower-level informers like himself were
vulnerable to censure and public humiliation.  Saulius Girnius,
RFE/RL, Inc.

ESTONIAN FOREIGN TRADE IN APRIL. The Customs Department announced
that in April Estonia had a trade deficit of 432.3 million kroons
($23 million) [imports, 1,726.8 million kroons and exports,
1,294.5 million kroons], a decline of 71.4 million kroons over
March, BNS reported on 27 May. Finland, Russia, and Sweden were
the leading trade partners. Farm products, fuels, and vehicles
were the largest imports with farm products, wood, and
non-precious metals the largest exports. The statistics, based on
customs declarations, do not include data on the movement of cash
or goods shipped through pipelines or electric wires.  Saulius
Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc.

ESTONIAN PRIME MINISTER VISITS SLOVENIA. On 26 May Mart Laar,
accompanied by his private secretary Toomas Kiho and Foreign
Ministry official Tonis Idarand, flew to Slovenia for a series of
meetings with the country's leaders. On 27 May at a meeting in
Ljubljana with his Slovenian counterpart Janez Drnovsek, Laar
announced that Sven Jurgenson, Estonia's charge d'affaires in
Vienna, would be his country's diplomatic representative in
Slovenia. The prime ministers signed a road traffic agreement and
a declaration on starting free trade talks between two countries.
Laar also met parliament chairman Herman Rigelnik and Ljubljana
mayor Joze Stigar. On 28 May Laar visited the towns of Piran and
Strunjan, BNS reports. He returned to Estonia on 29 May.  Saulius
Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc.

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION UPDATE. The Minsk oblast
electoral commission has finished checking the signatures in
support of presidential candidates, Belarusian television reported
on 26 May. According to their findings the prime minister,
Vyacheslau Kebich, succeeded in collecting 59,920 signatures in
the oblast; the leader of the Party of Communists of Belarus,
Vasil Novikau, collected 39,305; the BPF opposition leader, Zyanon
Paznyak, collected 23,995; the leader of the Party of Popular
Accord, Henadz Karpenka, had 17,579 signatures in his support;
Aleksandr Dubko, chairman of the Republican Union of Collective
Farms, received 13,525; and Aleksandr Lukashenka, head of the
former anti-corruption commission, had 10,522 signatures to his
name. Dubko had 36% of the signatures he collected invalidated,
the largest number of any of the candidates. In other news, the
pro-Russian Slavic Assembly "Belaya Rus" has appealed to the
conservative candidates--Dubko, Kebich, Lukashenka and Novikau--to
come to some agreement amongst themselves and have only one of
them run for president so as not to split the Russian-oriented
vote.  Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc.

  [As of 1200 CET]
  Compiled by Elizabeth Teague and Jan de
  Weydenthal
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