|Every custom was once an eccentricity; every idea was once an absurdity. - Holbrook Jackson|
No. 108, 9 June 1994
RUSSIA RUSSIAN DUMA APPROVES 1994 BUDGET. The State Duma voted on 8 June to approve the 1994 budget in its second reading. The vote was 227 to 40 with 32 abstentions, Interfax reported. The budget provides for expenditures of 194.5 trillion rubles ($102 billion) and revenues of 124.5 trillion rubles ($65 billion). The deficit of 70 trillion rubles ($37 billion) amounts to 9.7% of GDP, or under the ceiling proposed by the government. The Duma accepted all the revisions proposed by the budget committee; these redistributed 8.5 trillion rubles worth of funding but without altering the deficit target or the overall spending total. The budget was submitted to two votes; the first failed to achieve the needed majority of 225 votes, but the second was successful (by a narrow margin) after State Duma speaker Ivan Rybkin threatened to require separate discussion of each of 250 proposed amendments--a process that would have lasted another month. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. DUMA INCREASES DEFENSE BUDGET SLIGHTLY. After a closed-door debate on 8 June, the State Duma approved an increase in the defense budget from 37 trillion to 40 trillion rubles, an increase reportedly coordinated with Aleksandr Shokhin, the economics minister. This sum falls far short of that demanded by the defense ministry and defense industry. After review by the government, and a third reading in the Duma, final approval must be given by the Federation Council, which favors a large increase in defense spending. Despite the wrangling over the defense budget, the new legislative system appears to be functioning relatively smoothly in the processing of its first budget, although surprises may yet be in store. The vote was reported by Western and Russian news agencies. John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc. RUMORS AROUND CHERNOMYRDIN. The Russian rumor mill is in full swing with rumors of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's imminent resignation and replacement with the former Secretary of the Russian Security Council, Yurii Skokov. The rumors have in part been triggered by Chernomyrdin's visit to Germany where he had a kidney stone removed, according to Reuters on 8 June. Komsomolskaya pravda reported on 9 June that Chernomyrdin's health problems will be used as an excuse for his resignation, with Skokov's appointment requiring only Yeltsin's signature on a prepared decree. Radio Mayak reported on 8 June that Nezavisimaya gazeta was claiming instead that First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets would be named the new prime minister. Rumors of resignation of government officials are nothing new in Moscow, but even if they are unfounded they can weaken a politician's stature and power base. John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc. MIRZAYANOV WINS LAWSUIT. The chemist Vil Mirzayanov, who was detained and charged with disclosing state secrets after speaking out on the Soviet, and Russian, chemical weapons program, has won a lawsuit against state prosecutors and his former employer. Mirzayanov is to receive some 30 million rubles in compensation for his lost wages and time spent in prison awaiting trial. (The case was eventually dismissed.) According to the Baltimore Sun of 9 June, the decision is a landmark in that it is the first time a Russian citizen has won a suit of this nature against the government. Mirzayanov noted, however, that he is still being denied a passport and the right to travel abroad. John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc. YET ANOTHER SPLIT IN ZHIRINOVSKY'S PARTY. Six members of Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic faction in the State Duma announced the creation of a separate Duma faction called the State (Derzhava), ITAR-TASS reported on 8 June. This faction cannot be officially registered, since the minimum number of people in a new faction should be 35. The six former Liberal Democratic faction members said that by creating a new faction they intended to enhance the position of former Russian Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi who recently announced a plan to set up an opposition movement also to be called the State (Derzhava). ITAR-TASS quoted Duma deputy and opposition politician Vasilii Lipitsky as criticizing the former Zhirinovsky associates for their move. Lipitsky, who intends to join Rutskoi's movement, said the appropriation of the name of the movement by former Liberal Democrats could harm Rutskoi's position. Vera Tolz, RFE/RL, Inc. CHUBAIS: VOUCHER DEADLINE IN FORCE. Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais told Interfax on 8 June that the deadline for exchanging privatization vouchers for shares in state property remains firm at 1 July. Chubais noted that, as of 6 June, 126 million of the total 148 million privatization vouchers distributed had already been invested. The State Property Committee plans to auction an additional 63 companies in June, in order to permit voucher holders to make use of their remaining vouchers. Chubais predicted that some 5 million vouchers (or 3% of the total) would go unused but argued that 97% participation demonstrated the resounding success of large-scale privatization. Once the voucher privatization program is completed, Chubais said, shares in roughly 20% of state firms will be sold for cash. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. KOZYREV ON BOSNIA AT OECD. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, in Paris for a meeting of the OECD, said on 8 June that he had held talks with his French counterpart Alain Juppe and other colleagues about holding a ministerial meeting and then a summit on Bosnia. Kozyrev had in mind the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States. The same day, Russia signed a declaration on cooperation with the OECD which formalizes a framework for relations between Russia and the organization as well as granting Russia continued technical assistance and policy advice, Western agencies reported. Suzanne Crow, RFE/RL, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA GRACHEV IN ARMENIA. At a meeting in Erevan on 8 June, Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev and Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan reached an agreement on the future of the two former Red Army bases in Gyumri and Erevan which are to be formally designated Russian bases; details of troop strength and financing are to decided on 9 June, and a formal agreement will be signed by 1 September, according to Interfax and ITAR-TASS. Grachev is to travel to Georgia on 9 June. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA PEACEKEEPING. On arrival in Erevan, Grachev stated that during his meeting with Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev he will endeavor to persuade Aliev to sign the Russian plan for a settlement of the Karabakh conflict; Grachev threatened yet again to desist from any further mediation activity if Aliev refuses, according to Interfax. At a meeting of the CIS Inter-Parliamentary Assembly in St. Petersburg on 8 June, Azerbaijani parliament speaker Rasul Guliev and Russian special mediator for Nagorno-Karabakh Vladimir Kazimirov called for more substantive measures to end the Karabakh conflict; a final decision on the formal creation of CIS peacekeeping forces was postponed until October. Also on 8 June, UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali recommended to the UN Security Council that the number of UN military observers in Abkhazia be increased to 150 (almost double the present number), and that they should operate independently from, but in close coordination with, the CIS contingent, AFP and ITAR-TASS reported. Interfax quoted a source within the Georgian leadership as stating that the deployment of Russian peacekeepers in Abkhazia may begin during Grachev's visit to Tbilisi; in the light of the Russian Federation Council's refusal to condone the dispatch of a special Russian peacekeeping contingent to Georgia the troops involved would be from the Group of Russian Forces in the Transcaucasus. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. US GROUP SEEKS TAJIK PRISONERS' RELEASE. The chairman of the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists, William Orm, called on Tajik officials to release four journalists who have been imprisoned without trial since December 1992. Orm told a press conference that Tajik officials, including the prosecutor general, had refused to meet with him, AFP reported; earlier, ITAR-TASS had learned that he was planning to meet with the Tajik prime minister, minister of foreign affairs, and other high-ranking officials. Orm asserted that holding the journalists, including Mirbobo Mirrahimov, head of Tajikistan's state radio and television company under the brief 1992 coalition regime, is contrary to the Helsinki Convention on Human Rights, of which Tajikistan is a signatory. In 1993, 15 journalists were killed in Tajikistan, making it one of the most dangerous countries for journalists to work, according to Orm. The Committee is also likely to underscore the view that freedom of the press is one of the prerequisites for the restoration of peace and democracy in Tajikistan. Keith Martin, RFE/RL, Inc. CIS RUSSIAN-MOLDOVAN TROOP TALKS IN IMPASSE. Held in Moscow on 7 and 8 June, the ninth round of bilateral negotiations on the status and terms of withdrawal of Russia's 14th Army from Moldova failed to bring a withdrawal any nearer. An unnamed Russian diplomat virtually anticipated the outcome by telling Interfax on 7 June that Moldova had "no right to unilaterally repudiate the principle of synchronizing" the withdrawal to the grant of a political status to Transdniester. The Russian side has long insisted on that linkage, which could prolong the Russian military presence in Moldova for a lengthy period or force Moldova to renounce sovereignty over the eastern part of the country as a price for the withdrawal of Russian troops. Having hitherto demanded that the withdrawal begin by 1 July 1994, Moldova named 31 December 1995 at the Moscow talks, Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported on 8 June. The Russian side demanded a term of 3 to 4 years from the signing of a political treaty, which is not in sight. Another Russian spokesman told Radio Mayak on 7 June that should the 14th Army eventually withdraw, many of its servicemen will enlist in the "Dniester" forces. Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. HIGHER RUSSIAN TROOP FIGURE. First Deputy Commander of Russia's Land Forces Col. General Eduard Vorobev, who heads the Russian delegation's military side at the talks (and is considered a moderate) told Russian TV on 7 June that Russian troops in Moldova (excluding peacekeepers) currently number 10,000. The figure cited in 1993 was 7,000 to 8,000. The increase can only be attributed to the drafting of local Russian residents of eastern Moldova into the 14th Army, and to a lesser extent to reinforcements from Russia. Both methods have been mentioned openly by 14th Army commander Lt.-General Aleksandr Lebed. Moldovan diplomats have thus far declined to raise these violations of international law in appropriate forums. Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. BLACK SEA FLEET TALKS. On 8 June Reuters reported that Russia's ambassador to Ukraine, Leonid Smolyakov, announced that Russia and Ukraine have agreed that the Russian part of the Black Sea Fleet would remain in Sevastopol. Talks are continuing in Kiev over the division of other bases. Although the issue of basing has stalled previous negotiations, the Ukrainian navy commander, Volodymyr Bezkorovainy, said he expected a positive result from this round of talks. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. CORRECTION: The final sentence of the item ". . . and for Nagorno-Karabakh" in RFE/RL Daily Report of 8 June should read "Britain has also offered to provide military and diplomatic support for the CSCE in regulating the Karabakh conflict, according to Azertadzh-TASS of 7 June quoting the British Ambassador in Baku, Thomas Young." CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE BOSNIA CEASEFIRE REACHED. On 8 and 9 June international media report that the Bosnian Muslim-Croat side and the Bosnian Serbs have reached agreement on a month-long ceasefire that will go into effect on 10 June (1000 GMT). The deal requires all parties to refrain from offensive military action as well as from all "provocative actions." According to Reuters, UN envoy Yasushi Akashi described the deal as a "first step towards a comprehensive cessation of hostilities throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina." Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, who, according to AFP, alleged that the Bosnian Muslim side had "sabotaged the talks," pledged that the Bosnian Serbs would honor the terms of the ceasefire deal but did not personally sign the accord for the Bosnian Serb side. Karadzic referred to the deal as a "modest result" and on the evening of 8 June the Bosnian Serb news agency SRNA ran a commentary which described the deal as merely a month-long respite before "total conflict." Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. VALENTIC, VACAROIU FORGE ACCORDS. On 8 June HINA reported that Croatian Prime Minister Nikica Valentic and his Romanian counterpart, Nicolae Vacaroiu, met in Zagreb to preside over the signing of a series of bilateral agreements dealing with cooperation in fields such as economics, health, and transport. HINA also reported that Vacaroiu expressed interest in having Romania play a greater role in helping to negotiate an end to the conflict dividing Zagreb and the Serb population in the breakaway Republic of Serbian Krajina. Vacaroiu, heading a large delegation, arrived in Croatia on 6 June for an official three-day state visit. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. SOCIALISTS DEMAND MEKSI'S RESIGNATION. On 8 June Reuters reports that members of Albania's opposition Socialist Party (former communists) are demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Aleksander Meksi for what is being described as his failure to respond to alleged irregularities in Albanian local elections held in late May. According to the SP, local and regional officials of the governing Democratic Party used force, intimidation and threats to coerce individuals into voting for DP candidates. Reuters also reports that socialists contend that six SP members of parliament were threatened and assaulted during polling. SP calls for a vote of no confidence are not likely to effect the collapse of the government, since the SP holds only 38 of 140 seats in the legislature. DP officials maintain that socialists' allegations are exaggerated and are merely tactical attempts designed to force early national elections. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. KLAUS ON D-DAY COMMEMORATIONS, RUSSIAN DEBT. Commenting on the recent D-Day commemorations on Czech Radio on 8 June, Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus described as "extreme" any attempt to ignore the Red Army's contribution to the Allied victory in World War II. Klaus said he had lived for decades in a state in which everyone was made to believe that only the Red Army fought in World War II and that events on the western front were of marginal importance. This was wrong, said Klaus, but added that "current attempts to create the impression that it was the other way around are [also] basically spurious." Speaking to reporters after a cabinet meeting on 8 June, Klaus said that Russia has agreed to repay Czech loans at a rate of one dollar for one ruble. The prime minister said that Russia will start repaying its $3.5 billion debt with $52 million this year, $101 million next year, and $391 million in 1996. Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAK PARLIAMENT ON PRIVATIZATION. In its session on 8 June, the Slovak parliament discussed the privatization projects approved by the cabinets of former Premiers Vladimir Meciar and Jan Carnogursky, TASR reports. The Parliamentary Committee on Privatization ruled that the 44 projects approved by the Meciar cabinet between 15 February and 14 March were not in accordance with the privatization law. The Carnogursky cabinet, which was in power before Meciar, approved 157 privatization projects in May and June 1992 that are now being investigated. On 8 June the parliament also elected the final member of the Presidium of the National Property Fund (FNM), choosing Emil Hubinak, a candidate proposed by the Democratic Union. Blazej Krasnovsky, who was nominated by the Christian Democratic Movement, was elected chairman of the FNM Supervisory Council, and two other members of the council were also approved. The other members of the 7-member council will be chosen later. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAK ECONOMIC UPDATE. According to a report released by the Slovak Statistical Office on 8 June, several economic indicators are improving. In April 1994, the consumer price index increased by 0.4% over the previous month and by 13.8% over April 1993. At the end of April the unemployment rate was 14.2%, down 0.3% since March. By the end of April the Slovak state budget deficit amounted to 3.86 billion koruny. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. DISCUSSIONS OF SLOVAK ROAD SIGN LAW CONTINUE. Meeting on 8 June, the coalition council did not reach a final agreement on the road sign law. Premier Jozef Moravcik said, however, that a definitive solution can be expected next Wednesday. In an interview with Sme of 8 June, Miklos Duray, chairman of the ethnic Hungarian Coexistence movement, said that his party "would be glad to support the government" until the end of the election period. Duray said, however, that continued support would depend on the results of talks with the coalition council concerning the road sign law and the restructuring of the Ministry of Education. Also on 8 June, Lubomir Fogas, who holds the post of Deputy Chairman of the Council of Europe parliamentary assembly, discussed the CE's views on the road sign law. According to Fogas, the CE saw the failed vote on 3 June as "a political act leading towards the misuse of the Hungarian issue in the Slovak parliamentary elections." Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. HUNGARY AND BULGARIA SIGN ECONOMIC AGREEMENTS. The agreements, signed on 8 June in Budapest by Hungarian Finance Minister Ivan Szabo and his Bulgarian counterpart Stojan Aleksandrov, eliminate double taxation and provide for mutual protection of investments, MTI reports. Szabo expressed the hope that the agreements would promote bilateral economic relations, and enable Bulgaria to pay through the transport of goods its debt of 85.6 million transferable rubles to Hungary. Edith Oltay, RFE/RL, Inc. GOVERNMENT BOOSTS "STRATEGY FOR POLAND." In a series of recent speeches, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Grzegorz Kolodko has been drawing attention to his "Strategy for Poland," an outline economic plan that posits 22% GDP growth in 1994-97. The plan pledges to "reduce the social costs of reform," while at the same time giving investment priority over consumption and promoting rapid economic growth. The government approved the strategy on 7 June; Kolodko briefed President Lech Walesa on its contents on 8 June; and the deputy prime minister is to present the plan to the Sejm on 9 June. Skeptics have charged, however, that the "strategy" is as much election propaganda as a genuine economic program. The opposition Freedom Union (UW) charged on 8 June that the ruling coalition is planning to engineer the Sejm session to allow Kolodko to present his strategy but postpone debate on the issue for two weeks, until after the 19 June local elections. The UW threatened to stage a walkout. Other opposition deputies called the strategy a "coalition show," PAP reports. The economist Jan Winiecki described the plan as "wishful thinking" in an interview with Zycie Warszawy on 6 June. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. NEW CONFLICT OVER POLISH MINISTRIES. Polish President Lech Walesa charged on 8 June that the ruling coalition--the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) in particular--had violated the bargain reached during a joint meeting in the Sejm earlier this spring, Polish TV reports. Walesa claimed that the SLD had then agreed to allow the "presidential" ministers (defense, internal affairs, and foreign affairs) to complete structural reforms in their ministries before appointing deputy ministers from the coalition parties. SLD representatives have already been named to deputy minister posts (with limited powers) in the defense and internal affairs ministries. Walesa's charge coincides with a spate of rumors about conflicts over the foreign affairs ministry, which is headed by the independent Andrzej Olechowski. Gazeta Wyborcza ran the headline "Olechowski May Resign" on 7 June. The article claimed that Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak is blocking reforms designed to depoliticize the ministry and attempting to have Polish Peasant Party officials appointed to ministerial posts. Olechowski told Polish TV on 8 June that he has no plans to resign. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. BULGARIA TO STRENGTHEN FOREIGN EXCHANGE CONTROL. Standart and 24 Chasa report on 9 June that the Bulgarian National Bank in an effort to reduce illegal trade with foreign currencies has demanded that Bulgarian companies and financial institutions before 15 July declare what bank accounts they and their clients hold abroad. In a letter to financial institutions, the BNB said the measure is necessary to stem widespread violations of currency regulations and to restrict foreign exchange transactions to licensed banks. The BNB also demanded that banks and exchange bureaus return to the practice of issuing an exchange note certifying each transaction, a regulation that lately has not been upheld. On 4 May the BNB ordered closing of 702 of the country's 1,716 exchange bureaus after establishing serious violations of Bulgaria's currency regulations. The financial daily Pari comments on 9 June that both measures came much too late. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc. ROMANIAN COURT RULES AGAINST NEW COMMUNIST PARTY. On 7 June the Romanian Supreme Court ruled illegal the registration of a new communist party in Romania, Rompres reports. The court acted under a law which bars groups supporting totalitarianism, extremism, fascism or communism. During the hearings, the founder of the new Romanian Communist Party, Victor Hancu, denied that his organization was a successor to Nicolae Ceausescu's homonymous party. Hancu's party was registered with the Bucharest city court last month. A significant number of political groups and associations appealed that decision. There are several parties currently active in Romania which are generally seen as re-clothed communist groupings. The most important among them is the Socialist Labor Party. Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL, Inc. "WAR OF STATUES" IN CLUJ GOES ON. More than 2,500 protested on 8 June a decision by municipal authorities in Cluj to move a statue of Hungary's medieval king Matthias Corvinus for allegedly standing on an archaeological site. A strong police force surrounded the area. Western agencies reported that demonstrators called for the removal of Gheorghe Funar, the controversial Cluj mayor and chairman of the extreme nationalist Party of Romanian National Unity, who has advocated the replacement of Hungarian national symbols with Romanian ones. Ethnic Hungarians, who make up 25% of Cluj population of 330,000, say that such steps aim at stamping out their national identity. Octavian Buracu, a Romanian heading an association for ethnic dialogue, warned that the planned move of the king's statue can lead to violent confrontations in Cluj. Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL, Inc. CHURKIN VISIT IN ESTONIA. At a press conference on 8 June ending his two-day visit to Estonia, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vitalii Churkin said that although no concrete results had been achieved in talks with his Estonian counterpart Raul Malk, "with good will, there is nothing unrealistic" about withdrawing the Russian troops by 31 August, BNS reports. Churkin also held talks with President Lennart Meri and Foreign Minister Juri Luik. He said that he had invited Malk to come to Moscow to continue the talks as soon as it can be arranged, maybe even next week. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT CHAIRMAN TO VISIT SYRIA, EGYPT. On 8 June Ceslovas Jursenas left Lithuania for official visits to Syria and Egypt, Radio Lithuania reports. He will be the first high-ranking Lithuanian official to visit these countries. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. ESTONIAN CURRENCY RESERVES. In May the Bank of Estonia's gold and currency reserves increased by 104.75 million kroons ($7.9 million) to 5,252.4 million kroons, BNS reported on 8 June. The amount of cash in circulation grew by 50.4 million kroons to 2,810.2 million kroons. Since the introduction of the kroon in June 1992, the reserves had increased every month except for March and April 1994, when they decreased by 78.1 and 148 million kroons, respectively. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. UKRAINIAN AND BELARUSIAN ATTITUDES TOWARD THE EUROPEAN UNION . . . As Leonid Kravchuk travels to Luxembourg next week to sign a cooperation agreement with the EU, he can be assured that a plurality of the Ukrainian public favors Ukraine's rapid acceptance as a full-fledged EU member. In a poll of 2,234 residents conducted in April by the Kiev International Institute of Sociology, 34% of Ukrainians said Ukraine should join the EU "right away;" an additional 10% replied "within 5 years." Similar results were obtained in neighboring Belarus, though with a somewhat greater preference for the longer-term perspective: 29% of Belarusians saw their country as an EU member "right away" versus 17% who stated "within 5 years." Only 3% of Ukrainians and 6% of Belarusians felt their countries should "never" become EU members. Kathleen Mihalisko, RFE/RL, Inc. . . . AND NATO. Ukrainians and Belarusians, especially the latter, were not quite so anxious for their countries to become members of NATO, according to the same surveys. If 18% of Ukrainians said this should happen "right away" and 7% in 5 years, 21% felt Ukraine should "never" join NATO. In Belarus, 10% saw their country joining "right away" and 7% in 5 years, but many more--38%--replied "never." The Belarusian survey was conducted in April by NOVAK and was based on a representative sample of 2,030 respondents. Kathleen Mihalisko, RFE/RL, Inc. WHICH RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA? Public attitudes in Ukraine and Belarus toward ties with Russia are not as divergent as might be expected, given the very different nature of Kiev-Moscow and Minsk-Moscow relations. Fifteen percent of Ukrainians and 8% of Belarusians believe those relations should be "the same as with any other state, with closed borders and customs/passport controls." Almost equal percentages in the two countries (47% and 48%, respectively) prefer them to be "independent but friendly," with open borders and no such controls. And while 41% of Belarusians, on the contrary, see Belarus and Russia "united in a single state," fully 34% of Ukraine's residents also favor the scenario of a single state with Russia. These results are based on the same two surveys cited above. Kathleen Mihalisko, RFE/RL, Inc. KEBICH'S PLATFORM IN BELARUSIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. Prime Minister Vyachelsau Kebich emphasizes in his election platform that only cooperation with Russia can help the country out of its economic crisis, Interfax reported on 8 June. Furthermore, Kebich promises to implement an economic restructuring program which will prevent the bankruptcy of key enterprises. In addition, Kebich's program provides for "100% indexation of pensions and bank deposits before 1995," and the preservation of "social guarantees" by imposing a progressive tax system on "super-high profits." The program is to take place in two stages: the first, lasting until 1995, envisages economic stabilization to overcome the current crisis; the second, lasting until 1997, is to introduce economic and state restructuring and "considerable enhancement of living standards." The program is silent on practical measures to be used in reaching those stages. On 6 June Interfax reported that Kebich wants to call a referendum on the use of both Russian and Belarusian as official state languages. Belarusian has been the official language of Belarus since 1990. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. 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