|Some things have to be believed to be seen. - Ralph Hodgson|
No. 104, 3 June 1994
RUSSIA RUSSIAN-SOUTH KOREAN SUMMIT. South Korean President Kim Yong-sam arrived in Moscow on 1 June for a four-day official visit. Following talks on 2 June, President Boris Yeltsin and the Korean leader signed a joint declaration outlining new areas for cooperation including regular exchanges of visits and the establishment of a hotline. Yeltsin hailed the declaration as "a new step forward in the course of our mutually beneficial cooperation" following on the 1992 treaty on bilateral relations, ITAR-TASS reported. Suzanne Crow, RFE/RL Inc. TRADE AND DEBT ISSUES. Economic relations dominated the talks between the Russian and Korean leaders. Both expressed satisfaction with the steady growth in trade and pledged to increase it further. "We are interested in full-blooded economic ties and would like to see investments by South Korean firms in our economy increasing, especially in the Far East," Yeltsin said, identifying defense conversion as a particularly advantageous area for cooperation. Yeltsin admitted that Russia's debt to South Korea, which he said amounts to "almost 1.4 billion dollars--400 million of which is outstanding debt," is a serious problem and hampers the development and implementation of major projects. The talks resulted in some understandings on the issue, Yeltsin said, and he added, "I for one was given to understand that the president of [South] Korea was sympathetic toward the issue of postponing the debt, the start of the cancellation of the debt. That is important for us," ITAR-TASS reported. Suzanne Crow, RFE/RL Inc. YELTSIN ON NORTH KOREA. At a news conference on 2 June, Yeltsin answered questions on Russia's stance toward North Korea. He said Russia's "main policy" is to keep North Korea in the nuclear nonproliferation treaty and carrying out its obligations on allowing inspections. Yeltsin said Russia favors the use of political methods to solve the North Korean nuclear problem. He added, "The interests of all interested parties should not be infringed." On the question of Russia's treaty with North Korea, Yeltsin said that, because of amendments to the treaty made in 1990, "there is no longer any rigid stipulation about our helping or siding with the DPRK." According to an unnamed official quoted by ITAR-TASS, Yeltsin told Kim Yong-sam that Russia will not renew the treaty with North Korea when it comes up for review in two years. Suzanne Crow, RFE/RL Inc. DON COSSACKS CONFRONT LOCAL AUTHORITIES. For three days about 150 Don Cossacks headed by their ataman have been picketing the building of the administration of Rostov Oblast, demanding immediate action on the rebirth of the Cossacks, ITAR-TASS reported on 2 June. Their demands include the payment of 30 billion rubles to Cossack rural communities and Cossack farmers to conduct spring sowing, financial support of Cossack fishery and ecological protection, and talks on changing the status of the structures responsible for defending Cossack interests in the oblast's legislative assembly. Talks with the authorities have reached an impasse, with the oblast administration saying that it lacks funds and that questions of Cossack land use cannot be decided in isolation, while the Cossacks are demanding immediate implementation of presidential and governmental decrees on the rehabilitation of the Cossacks. Ann Sheehy, RFE/RL Inc. CHECHNYA COMMEMORATES VICTORY OVER TSARIST TROOPS. On 1 June, Chechnya celebrated the 152 anniversary of the routing of 18,000 Tsarist troops by 1,500 mountaineers during the Russo-Caucasian War of 1817-64 with a march and fly-past, ITAR-TASS was informed by the Chechnya's Information and Press Department on 2 June. Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev said at the ceremony that the ancestors of the Chechen people were a worthy example for the present generation and the Chechen people was always ready to defend its independence. The head of Chechnya's Press and Information Department, Movladi Udugov, told Interfax that Russo-Chechen relations were once again deadlocked and the situation was now such that "Russia must either sit at the negotiating table with Chechnya or destroy it by resorting to open armed aggression." On 1 June, Dudaev introduced an indefinite curfew throughout Chechnya in response to Russia's extension of the state of emergency in Ingushetia, Interfax reported. Ann Sheehy, RFE/RL Inc. TENSIONS IN KRASNODAR KRAI. The third Congress of the Shapsug people opened in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on 28 May, ITAR-TASS reported. The Shapsugs were the largest of the western Circassian tribes of the Northern Caucasus until the mid-1860s when, following Russia's victory in the Caucasian War, most of them were forced to flee to Turkey. Now numbering around 10,000, they have begun to agitate for the restoration of the Shapsug Autonomous District, abolished in the 1930s. Their demands have been rebuffed by the authorities in Krasnodar Krai, who also complain that their region is being swamped with refugees from Transcaucasia. The local authorities say they are receiving no help from Moscow to resettle the refugees, of whom there are now about 600,000 in Krasnodar Krai. At the beginning of May, the Krasnodar administration announced that, in future, "citizens of the near abroad and stateless persons" would be allowed to enter the region only if they were in prior possession of a permit issued by the krai authorities (Izvestiya, 4 May). They did not say how the ban would be enforced. Elizabeth Teague, RFE/RL Inc. PLAN FOR RESETTLING RUSSIAN RETURNEES. A Russian government adviser told Reuters on 1 June that the Russian government has drawn up a plan for the resettlement of as many as 11 million ethnic Russians, should that many decide to migrate to Russia from the other Soviet successor-states. (According to the 1989 census, some 25 million ethnic Russians were living outside the Russian Federation in that year; since then, some 2 million are estimated to have migrated to Russia. Most experts predict that a total of no more than about 6 million ethnic Russians are likely to decide to move to Russia.) Sergei Afanasev, Deputy Chairman of a special commission charged with advising the government on resettlement, told Reuters the plan calls for resettling the migrants in Central Russia and Siberia--including Tver, Novgorod, Yaroslavl and Omsk Oblasts. He said resettlers would receive land for farming and tax benefits and other help to build homes and start businesses. He said the resettlement areas would also be open to those Russians who are, in increasing numbers, leaving the cities of Russia's Far North as a result of the reduction of state subsidies for residents of those areas. The resettlement plan still has to be approved by both government and parliament. Elizabeth Teague, RFE/RL Inc. SOLZHENITSYN BEGINS TRAIN JOURNEY. Russia's most famous returnee, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, left Vladivostok on 1 June on the first leg of a train journey that will take him back to Moscow for the first time since his exile by the Soviet authorities 20 years ago. His 60-day journey will take him across Siberia and through the Urals. Meanwhile, speculation is building in the Russian and Western press that Solzhenitsyn might decide to embark on a political career. Solzhenitsyn himself has denied any political ambitions, but commentators note that the disillusion of the Russian public extends to virtually all the country's present political leaders and that Solzhenitsyn could be the only public figure capable of inspiring popular confidence. Elizabeth Teague, RFE/RL Inc. CIS RUSSIAN FEDERATION COUNCIL OPPOSES RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPERS FOR ABKHAZIA. Meeting in closed session on 2 June, the upper chamber of the Russian parliament rejected by one vote Yeltsin's request for the dispatch of a contingent of Russian troops to Abkhazia as part of a joint CIS peacekeeping force, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. The chairman of the Federation Council's Committee on Defense and Security, Petr Shirshov, told Interfax there is as yet no adequate juridical basis for the deployment of Russian troops beyond Russian borders. Federation Council deputy speaker Ramazan Abdulatipov said the Council should have supported Yeltsin, and that the issue required urgent resolution. CIS Executive Secretary Ivan Korotchenya told Interfax on returning from his tour of the Transcaucasus and Central Asia on 1 June that Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan had all expressed support for the CIS peacekeeping operation, while Russia's Deputy Defense Minister Georgii Kondratyev told Interfax on 2 June that Russian army divisions from the Leningrad and Volga Military Districts had received special training for the mission and were ready to take up their posts. Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry has lifted the economic sanctions imposed on Abkhazia last September, according to Interfax of 2 June. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL Inc. MOSCOW DENIES IT WANTS VETO OVER CASPIAN OIL PROJECTS. On 2 June Interfax quoted an unidentified senior Russian government official as denying a report in The Financial Times of 31 May, according to which the Russian government had informed the British Embassy in Moscow in late April that Russia was demanding the right to veto Caspian sea oil projects. Such a move that would jeopardize the activities of foreign consortiums in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. The official termed the report "ludicrous" given that "the bulk of the oil extracted on the Caspian shelf will be exported through Russia." Liz Fuller, RFE/RL Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA KILLINGS CONTINUE IN TAJIKISTAN. Within hours of the 31 May killing of a Russian officer in Dushanbe, a Russian officer in the service of Tajikistan's Defense Ministry was assassinated, Russian media reported on 2 June. Soon after, the bodies of two more Defense Ministry officers, and two unidentified female corpses, were found in a Dushanbe apartment. Three of the four slain officers were lieutenant-colonels; the fourth was a major. Interfax reported on 2 June that a Russian border guard was killed on the Tajik-Afghan frontier by a "foreign-made" landmine. While Tajikistan's Deputy Defense Minister dismissed speculation that the murders were politically motivated, it is likely that they are related to the forthcoming peace talks in Tehran. Certain government and opposition groups are interested in derailing a peace deal, while some Tajik officials have been trying to persuade the Russians to take a harder line against the opposition. RL's Tajik Service has learned that the Tehran talks, originally scheduled for 7 June, have, on the Tajik government's insistence, been put off until 15 June. Keith Martin, RFE/RL Inc. AKAEV IN EUROPE. Kyrgyzstan's President Askar Akaev, on an official trip to Europe to seek investment for his country, attended the ceremony in Brussels on 1 June at which Kyrgyzstan signed up for the NATO Partnership for Peace program, Western agencies reported. A separate agreement on trade, economic assistance and political ties was signed with the European Union. In an interview with the Belgian daily Le Soir, as quoted by ITAR-TASS, Akaev claimed that Kyrgyzstan is the only CIS state to have effected the transition to a market economy in accordance with the criteria set out by the IMF and World Bank. Akaev invited European investors to participate in developing Kyrgyzstan's rich mineral resources. Bess Brown , RFE/RL Inc. CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN TALKS SUSPENDED. On 2 June RFE/RL's South Slavic Language Service reported that Bosnian ceasefire talks scheduled to open 2 June were suspended. A key condition for Bosnian Muslim participation was the removal of an estimated 150 Serb soldiers from the exclusion zone around the Bosnian Muslim enclave of Gorazde. As of 2 June, Bosnian Serb forces, which Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic had said would be moved back, failed to comply with the condition, prompting the delay in negotiations. On 2 June AFP reported that UN special envoy Yasushi Akashi had said talks could begin on 3 June if the troops in question are pulled back. On 3 June, however, conflicting reports about the situation around Gorazde emerged, with Reuters noting that a UN spokesman in Sarajevo has said about 150 Serb military personnel, in plain clothes, continue to remain in the exclusion zone. Irrespective of the outcome of the current round of talks, Bosnian Muslim officials have said they will attend talks with representatives of the European Union, the United States, and Russia on 4 June. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL Inc. KARADZIC APOLOGIZES FOR SHELLING. On 1 June international media reported that UN peacekeepers at Tuzla airport requested air support after being shelled, but promptly canceled the request after being telephoned by Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, who apologized for the attack. Reuters reported that Karadzic called the shelling "a mistake" and vowed that it would be stopped. In other news, on 3 June international media report that the UN commission constituted to collect evidence on war crimes in the former Yugoslavia has filed its final report. The New York Times of 3 June reports that with respect to the issue of ethnic cleansing, the commission has observed that Serb practices were undertaken "with extreme brutality and savagery in a manner designed to instill terror in the civilian population." Stan Markotich, RFE/RL Inc. PARLIAMENT VOTES DOWN DRAFT LAW ON ELECTIONS. The Czech parliament failed to adopt a draft law on parliamentary elections, Czech dailies report on 3 June. Although the draft was presented by members of the ruling coalition, only 31 deputies voted in favor. Observers consider this a victory for the opposition which repeatedly tried to abolish the second chamber of the parliament, the Senate. It is widely believed that it will be now impossible to hold elections for the Senate this year as planned. Moreover, it is possible that the Senate will be abolished altogether. Interior Minister Jan Ruml was quoted as saying that "failing to adopt the law probably means the end of the Senate." According to a recent opinion poll, more than 45% of the Czech population is opposed to the creation of the second chamber of the parliament, Mlada Fronta Dnes reported on 2 June. Only 18% of the respondents said that they favor the Senate, while 37% expressed no opinion. Jan Obrman, RFE/RL Inc. HUNGARIAN DEMOCRATIC FORUM LEADER RESIGNS. The Executive Chairman of the Hungarian Democratic Forum Sandor Lezsak resigned on 1 June following a meeting of the party's presidium, MTI reports. Lezsak was not only a founding member of the Forum that ruled Hungary during the past four years, but the party itself was founded in Lezsak's backyard in the small town of Lakitelek. Lezsak told reporters that he resigned because he no longer felt he had the support of the party's leadership following the Forum's bad showing in the May national elections. A program of renewal presented by Lezsak to the presidium was rejected by some presidium members. Judith Pataki, RFE/RL Inc. GYULA HORN SLAMS COMPENSATION PROCESS. Gyula Horn, the chairman of the Hungarian Socialist Party that won a landslide victory in the May national elections, criticized the country's compensation program for victims of property expropriation and political oppression. Foreign media report on 1 June that Horn, in an interview given to the weekly 168 Ora, criticized the scheme in which over one million people have received compensation coupons that could be used to buy land, state-owned property, and council flats. Horn said that black marketeers took unlawful advantage of the situation, while the vast majority of the people were irritated by the scheme because they had been left out. Prior to the elections, Horn said that his party would respect the compensation law and finish the compensation process as soon as possible. Judith Pataki, RFE/RL Inc. WALESA TO RUN FOR SECOND TERM. In an interview with PAP on 1 June, President Lech Walesa announced that he will run for a second term in the 1995 presidential elections. Walesa said that the "postcommunists and all those who attack me" had offered an incentive to "fight again." Defending his record, Walesa said he has good ideas on how to solve Poland's problems; the trick is getting the public to listen to them. He stressed that he will not support any party in the local government elections on 19 June. In a public opinion survey reported by the CBOS polling firm on 1 June, only 6% said they consider Walesa the best candidate for president. Democratic Left Alliance leader Aleksander Kwasniewski remains the front-runner for president, with 16% support, followed by Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak, with 9%, and Foreign Minister Andrzej Olechowski, with 7%. Tied with Walesa at 6% are: former Foreign Minister Krzysztof Skubiszewski and Nonparty Reform Bloc leader and heart surgeon Zbigniew Religa. Walesa won election to a first term in December 1990 with 74% of the vote. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL Inc. CONFLICT IN POLAND'S NONPARTY REFORM BLOC. Walesa distanced himself from the Nonparty Reform Bloc (BBWR), the political coalition set up at his urging for the 1993 parliamentary elections. The BBWR failed to capture public enthusiasm and barely managed to reach the 5% threshold for representation in the Sejm. However, the party's leading figure--the heart surgeon Zbigniew Religa--won election to the Senate with over 500,000 votes, more than any candidate in the 1993 elections. Religa has since attempted to mold the BBWR into his own political vehicle, and has even hinted that he will run for president in 1995. While expressing support for Walesa, Religa also argued recently that Poland needs an "educated" president. On 1 June, Religa announced his resignation from the BBWR, citing differences with the bloc's leadership. He retracted his decision later the same day. Religa says he wants the BBWR to choose a distinct orientation and become a full-fledged political party. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL Inc. POLISH ARMY RETURNS TO CORPUS CHRISTI SERVICES. In a return to precommunist traditions, Polish military formations took part in Corpus Christi celebrations in Warsaw on 2 June, Polish TV reports. President Lech Walesa took part in the Warsaw procession, which returned to the route followed in the interwar years. Over 10,000 people joined the Warsaw procession. In his sermon, Cardinal Jozef Glemp argued that the Church is a "friend of the nation . . . [and] of the state, tested for centuries." "No rational person rejects the hand of a friend," he said. He expressed confidence that "the Church's proposal of friendship" to contemporary Poland will be accepted and that Church and state will not simply "coexist--because that is too little--but work together for the common good," PAP reports. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL Inc. POLISH PROSECUTOR PROBES MONTE CASSINO SCANDAL. On prosecutor's orders, Warsaw police searched the headquarters of the "Mazovia" travel bureau on 1 June, PAP reports. Prosecutors opened an investigation into the embezzlement of funds from World War II veterans who hired Mazovia to travel by bus to 50th anniversary ceremonies at Monte Cassino. Mazovia's owner, Stefan Sulimierski, disappeared before the ceremonies and resurfaced two weeks later, claiming he had been kidnapped to Tunisia, drugged, and robbed of $40,000. On 1 June, Sulimierski demanded police protection after Slovak tour operators arrived to force payment of unpaid hotel bills and threatened to kidnap him to Bratislava. Police refused, citing high costs. Sulimierski's questioning was interrupted by an anonymous bomb threat. The saga has prompted calls for the dismissal of officials at the Veterans' Office, who apparently recommended Sulimierski's services. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL Inc. BULGARIA EXPECTS MAJOR DEBT WRITEOFF. On 1 June a Bulgarian government official said prospects seem good that an agreement involving a 47.2% reduction of $8.16 billion owed to commercial creditors can be reached by the end of the month. At a press conference in Sofia Deputy Finance Minister Dimitar Kostov told BTA that creditor banks and financial institutions representing 91% of the money owed have now sanctioned the deal, which envisages a nominal writeoff of $3.8 billion. In all, Bulgaria's commercial debt amounts to $9.27 billion. If the agreement is concluded, it would oblige Bulgaria to repurchase 12.5% of the debt, transform 27% into front load interest reduction bonds, and 60.5% into discount bonds. Kostov said the government expects to have to make an initial payment of some $720-750 million, to be followed by annual installments of $250-270 million over the next seven years. He also said that budgetary revenues will probably have to exceed expenses by 4-5% in order for the country to keep up with the payments. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL Inc. RUSSIAN SECURITY DELEGATION IN BULGARIA. A delegation headed by the Chairman of Russia's National Security Council, Oleg Lobov, is in Bulgaria to discuss challenges to national security in the post-Cold War setting and cooperation between the arms industry of the two states. When meeting with Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev on 31 May, Lobov read out a personal message from Boris Yeltsin reaffirming Moscow's commitment to the 1992 bilateral treaty and noting some positive trends in recent economic relations: Yeltsin quoted figures that trade turnover rose by 20% in 1993 after having fallen steeply in 1990-92. Later that day, Lobov and Deputy Prime Minister Evgeni Matinchev initialed an agreement on establishing an intergovernmental commission for cooperation in the defense industry sector. On 1 June the Russian delegation traveled to Kazanlak and Sopot to inspect arms factories. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL Inc. ROMANIA REPLIES TO KOENIG-JANNSON REPORT. On 26 May the Romanian Foreign Affairs Ministry replied to the negative report presented to the Council of Europe by the two rapporteurs of the council, Friedrich Koenig and Gunnar Jannson earlier in May, Radio Bucharest said on 2 June. The ministry said many parts in the report were "outdated," while other parts were "inaccurate or distorted, due to certain biased sources of information." It said that parliament and the government will make every effort to implement "as soon as possible" the remaining unfulfilled obligations Romania had assumed when joining the council. At the same time, the ministry said that "in its present form" the council's "system of reports" was "outdated as a procedure for verifying" the implementation of the obligations assumed by the council's new members. Michael Shafir, RFE/RL Inc. EDUCATION BILL STIRS DISPUTE IN ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT. The debate on the new education bill, which began on 1 June, stirred disputes in the Chamber of Deputies. The Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania faction called the bill unacceptable. They rejected in particular the draft bill's stipulations that teaching of history and geography, as well as civic education, must be conducted in the Romanian language in all schools, including those of national minorities. HDFR chairman Bela Marko said at a press conference on the same day that President Ion Iliescu has been asked to mediate on this matter and that the HDFR had demanded from its allies in the Democratic Convention of Romania support for its position. On the other hand, deputies representing the extreme nationalist Greater Romania Party called the bill too liberal and asked for school uniforms to be restored, an RFE/RL correspondent and Radio Bucharest reported the same day. Gabriel Tepelea, who represents the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic, said religion classes in schools should be compulsory, rather than optional. Michael Shafir, RFE/RL Inc. ROMANIAN NATIONALISTS TO GET GOVERNMENT POST? The vice chairman of the Party of Romanian National Unity, which is headed by the extreme nationalist Cluj mayor Gheorghe Funar, said on 1 June that one of his members, Valeriu Tabara, may soon be appointed Minister of Agriculture. Ioan Gavra said the appointment "was likely, but not definite," an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Bucharest. The PRNU has signed earlier this year an agreement with the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania to join the coalition but the agreement was never implemented, partly due to warnings from the West. The PRNU has threatened to withdraw support from the PSDR in parliament if it will not be offered ministerial portfolios. Michael Shafir, RFE/RL Inc. UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT'S RESOLUTION ON CRIMEA. Ukraine's parliament met on 1 June to discuss the problem of Crimea, various agencies reported on 1 and 2 June. President Leonid Kravchuk proposed the creation of a constitutional court with the power to annul any Crimean legislation that contradicts Ukraine's constitution. The proposal was welcomed by the Chairman of Crimea's parliament, Serhii Tsekov, but Ukrainian deputies rejected it as vague and irresolute. Instead, deputies voted 241 to 38 in favor of creating a parliamentary commission which will be given two weeks to change Ukraine's laws so that the country can annul actions by Crimean authorities. At the moment, Ukraine can only suspend motions passed by Crimea. Deputies also asked Kravchuk to present them with a list of measures next week which can be taken against Crimean authorities if they fail to observe Ukraine's constitution. While deputies did not issue any new ultimatums to Crimea, they affirmed their insistence that Crimea rescind the 1992 constitution that it voted on 20 May to reintroduce and which is responsible for sparking the current dispute. Interfax on 2 June quoted Crimean President Yurii Meshkov as saying the move to restore the 1992 constitution had not yet come into effect because he had not signed it. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL Inc. MESHKOV DENIED ADDITIONAL POWERS. An RFE/RL correspondent reported on 2 June that the Crimean parliament had rejected an appeal from President Meshkov for the power to rule by decree. Meshkov reportedly asked for the powers so that he could push through economic reforms. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL Inc. LAST RUSSIAN SHIPS LEAVE LATVIA. On 1 June the last three Russian warships left the port of Liepaja completing the withdrawal of the Russian Navy from Latvia, Interfax reports. The farewell ceremonies for the ships that will be stationed in Baltiisk were attended by Prime Minister Valdis Birkavs and Russian ambassador Aleksandr Rannikh. Russian warships will have to give seven days notice to enter Latvian waters in June and thirty days subsequently. Military installations occupied about a third of the Liepaja port which will become a strictly commercial port. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL Inc. PRESIDENT OF EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT IN LITHUANIA. At a press conference on 2 June ending his three-day visit to Lithuania, Egon Klepsch said that the European Parliament supports Lithuania becoming an associate member of the European Union, Radio Lithuania reports. In a speech at the Seimas earlier that day Klepsch said that Lithuania could become an active mediator and contribute to the peaceful development of the Baltic Sea region. Talks with President Algirdas Brazauskas focused on the demilitarization of the Kaliningrad region and both agreed that the West was paying too little attention to Ukraine. During his visit Klepsch also met with Seimas Chairman Ceslovas Jursenas, Foreign Minister Povilas Gylys, and Archbishop of Vilnius Audrys Backis. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL Inc. ESTONIAN ARMY COMMANDER OFFERS RESIGNATION. On 2 June Maj. Gen. Aleksander Einseln, commander in chief of the Estonian armed forces, announced that he had asked President Lennart Meri to accept his resignation because of dissatisfaction with the activities of Prime Minister Mart Laar, BNS reports. In February Laar held talks with Israeli military officials on close cooperation in defense matters without consulting Einseln, who described Laar's information on them as "unethical, if not a downright lie." Former Defense Minister Indrek Kannik had also complained about Laar's talks with Israel. Laar, however, succeeded in getting Meri to approve Urmas Arumae as the new Justice Minister, replacing Kaido Kama who had been fired along with Kannik two weeks ago. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL Inc. MORE ON BELARUSIAN PRESIDENTIAL RACE. On 1 June Belarusian radio reported on the election platform of Vasil Novikau, the leader of the Party of Communists of Belarus. Novikau was said to intend again to provide the population with all aspects of social protection and consumer subsidies. He also was reported to have called for the return of the former USSR and promised to "give value back" to the country's currency. His program was close to that of the Agrarians' candidate, Aleksandr Dubko. The communists say they can work together with the two other leftist candidates, Vyacheslau Kebich and Aleksandr Lukashenka, but are not prepared to cooperate with the non-leftist candidates, Stanislau Shushkevich and Zyanon Paznyak. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL Inc. [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Elizabeth Teague and Jan de Weydenthal 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. 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