|Вопрос о мысле жизни я считаю самым неотложным из всех вопросов. - Альбер Камю|
No. 117, 22 June 1994
RUSSIA KINKEL ON RUSSIAN G-7 MEMBERSHIP, SECURITY ISSUES. Despite Bonn's support for Russian integration into the G-7, German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel said on 21 June that opposition from other G-7 member states and Russia's own economic problems mean that Moscow is not likely to gain quick admission to the club. Kinkel spoke after meeting Germany's ambassadors to all the CIS countries; Reuters reported that Germany is the only country with diplomatic representation in all the USSR successor states. Kinkel also said that while Germany wanted closer relations with Russia in all fields, the two countries continue to have differing views on several security issues. Specifically, Reuters quoted Kinkel as saying that Bonn could not accede to Russia's desire for a recognition of its special interests in the former Soviet Union, including its objection to the inclusion in NATO of former Soviet satellite states. He also rejected suggestions that Russia have a veto power over NATO or WEU decisions and that NATO be subordinated to the CSCE. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. SMOOTH SAILING IN BRUSSELS. Reuters reported from Brussels on 21 June that preparations for the 22 June signing by Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev of NATO's Partnership for Peace agreement are proceeding smoothly. The news agency quoted a NATO Assistant Secretary-General as saying on 21 June, following talks with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vitalii Churkin, that "we have reached agreement . . . I think we have found a good basis for future cooperation." Speaking to reporters in Moscow before his departure for Brussels, Kozyrev was quoted by ITAR-TASS as saying that after signing the partnership agreement and a bilateral protocol Russia will be in a position to cooperate on an equal basis with major European powers. Kozyrev was said to have categorically denied that Russia wanted special status within the partnership program. He did say that the separate protocol reflects Russia's status as a superpower. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. DISCORDANT VOICES FROM MOSCOW ON NORTH KOREA. AFP on 21 June quoted the Russian scientist who reportedly designed the North Korean nuclear reactor at the center of the current international crisis as charging that South Korea, Japan, and the US had falsely accused Pyongyang of developing nuclear weapons. Vladislav Kotlov, now a top expert in the Russian Ministry for Nuclear Power Engineering, said that the dispute surrounding the nuclear facility was merely a procedural one related to the inspection regime advocated by the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency). He was quoted as saying that Japan and South Korea, with US backing, were attempting "to stir unrest . . . to create, bluntly speaking, a scandal and to provoke problems in the region." Meanwhile, ITAR-TASS quoted Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev on the same day as saying that while North Korea may not yet have developed a nuclear weapon, it apparently could do so in the near future. He warned that Moscow could not close its eyes to this possibility and suggested that the US and Russia were now coordinating their actions constructively on this issue. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. SHUMEIKO PROPOSES POSTPONING ELECTIONS. The Chairman of the Federation Council, Vladimir Shumeiko has proposed postponing both parliamentary and presidential elections now scheduled to be held in 1995 and 1996, respectively. In an interview with Interfax on 21 June Shumeiko argued that if the elections were not postponed, politicians would become preoccupied with running for reelection, rather than "thinking of the country." Under the current constitution the terms of parliamentarians only last two years during the "transitional period" rather than four years. Shumeiko also proposed extending Yeltsin's mandate, although he did not specify for how long, noting that it would be "useful if [Yeltsin] serves another term of office." John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc. REACTIONS TO SHUMEIKO'S PROPOSAL. An RL correspondent in Moscow asked deputies of the Council of the Federation and the State Duma on 21 June for their comments on Shumeiko's proposal; most deputies rejected it. In order to postpone the elections, the Russian constitution has to be amended. This can be done by a nation-wide referendum or if two-thirds of the deputies to both chambers of the parliament vote in favor of the proposal. (Russia still does not have a new law on referendums.) A member of the YABLOKO faction, Viktor Sheinis, said that in 1993 the people elected deputies for a period of only two years and it would be wrong "to change the rules of the game after the game is over." Sheinis and other deputies also felt it would be too expensive to hold yet another referendum. Meanwhile, Yeltsin's aide Georgii Satarov told the RFE/RL correspondent that when informed of Shumeiko's proposal, the president spoke against the postponement of the presidential elections. Vera Tolz, RFE/RL, Inc. NEW DEFENSE BUDGET PROPOSAL. Nikolai Gonchar, the chairman of the Federation Council's budget committee, proposed that the defense budget be increased by a total of 14.4 trillion rubles over that proposed by the State Duma, Interfax reported on 21 June. This increase, when combined with the 3.5 trillion rubles already added by the Duma, would meet the demands of the military and defense industry. Some 6.6 trillion rubles of this amount would be met by "returns from foreign economic activities" and an additional 1.65 trillion from the proceeds of the sale of MiGs to Malaysia, as proposed by President Yeltsin (see RFE/RL Daily Report of 13 June 1994). However, even with these revenue increases the additional defense spending, combined with 2 trillion rubles in additional regional subsidies would push the overall budget to 78.1 trillion rubles, or some 10.6% of GDP, violating IMF guidelines and jeopardizing Western financial assistance. John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIA AMBIVALENT ON FOREIGN BANKS. Central Bank chairman Viktor Gerashchenko told Nezavisimaya gazeta on 21 June that foreign banks operating in Russia should be permitted to control no more than 10-15% of the total capital held by native banks. The authorities reserve the right to select which Western banks are allowed to operate in Russia, he added. The presidential decree of 10 June that lifted restrictions on foreign bank operations applied only to the six European banks (and the Bank of China) that were licensed before the November 1993 ban. This concession was apparently necessary to secure approval for Russia's agreement with the EU, which President Boris Yeltsin is to sign in Corfu on 24 June. Two licensed US banks--Chase Manhattan and Citibank--are still barred from operating with Russian clients, on the grounds that the parliament has yet to ratify an agreement with the US on investment protection. The Russian banking lobby argued in an open letter on 16 June that "a wider presence of foreign banks is premature" and called for a moratorium on new licenses until the start of 1996, Interfax reports. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. CIS "DNIESTER," SOUTH OSSETIAN SEPARATIST LEADERS PRESENTED AS EXPERTS ON RUSSIAN PEACEMAKING. An international conference on peacemaking in CIS states, organized in Moscow by Russia's State Duma and the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Internal Affairs, jointly with officially approved peace organizations, was addressed on 21 June by "Dniester republic" president Igor Smirnov and South Ossetian deputy prime minister Konstantin Pukhaev. Smirnov and Pukhaev told a large Western audience that Russian peacemaking in Moldova and Georgia responds to the wishes of the conflicting parties--which "appreciate Russia's role far more than that of the UN"--and does not entail any political interference or pressures upon the parties, ITAR-TASS reported. Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. BELARUS-RUSSIA TALKS. On 21 June a Belarus parliament delegation headed by Vyacheslau Kuznyatsou, its first deputy chairman, held talks in Moscow with State Duma chairman Ivan Rybkin, ITAR-TASS reported. Rybkin said that it was necessary to work for unified, standardized legislation for CIS countries to facilitate integration. He also noted that the Duma last week supported the idea of a parliamentary meeting of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine to discuss the results of the 1991 agreement forming the CIS. He invited the Belarusians to attend the 5 July session of the Duma committee for CIS affairs that will discuss this question. The Belarusians in turn invited Russian parliamentarians to attend the festivities on 3 July to mark the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Belarus. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA MORE ON ABKHAZ PEACEKEEPING. Following the 21 June vote by the Russian Federation Council to ratify President Yeltsin's decree on the deployment of Russian peacekeeping forces along the border between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia for a period of six months, Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev told journalists that the peacekeeping forces will be deployed only after the area has been demined, according to Interfax. Interfax also quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Pastukhov as stating that stabilizing the situation in the conflict zone is of immense importance to Russia; he also expressed the hope that the UN, which will send additional observers to Abkhazia, would formally endorse the operation, which will cost an estimated 10 to 11 billion rubles. Also on 21 June, a UN spokeswoman in Geneva told Western agencies that a further round of UN-sponsored negotiations on a political settlement of the Abkhaz conflict will open on 30 June. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. TAJIK FORCES ATTACK "REBELS". The Tajik Defense Ministry announced on 21 June that, in joint operations with the ministries of security and internal affairs, 16 people were killed, 12 of them allegedly opposition fighters. AFP and ITAR-TASS reported that the operations took place in the interior of Tajikistan between 7-17 June, in the Garm, Tajikabad and Dzhirgatal regions. Large amounts of weaponry, including German and British-made ones, were seized, as well as manuals written in Tajik and Pashtu (an Afghan language). Tajik and Russian forces have stepped up efforts against the Afghan-backed rebels since the recent assassinations of ten Russian officers and of the Tajik deputy defense minister. There has been no independent confirmation that those killed were indeed rebels; in the past, the Tajik government has been accused of killing civilians as reprisals for rebel attacks, and subsequently claiming that the civilians were opposition fighters. Keith Martin, RFE/RL, Inc. UZBEK DISSIDENTS ARRESTED IN ALMATY. Muhammed Salih, the chairman of Uzbekistan's banned Erk opposition party, has told Radio Liberty's Uzbek service that two Erk members were arrested in Almaty on 17 June by Interior Ministry officials and taken by force to Tashkent. Salih also said that he had sent a letter to Kazakh president, Nursultan Nazarbaev, asking for help in securing the release of Erk members, "political prisoners," currently detained in Uzbekistan. Nothing is known about the fate of the two detainees, who were living in Almaty in exile. Uzbek secret police have in the past kidnapped, or attempted to kidnap, Uzbek dissidents attending human rights conferences in Bishkek in 1993 and Almaty in May, 1994; Kazakh authorities resolutely rebuffed the Uzbek secret police during the latter attempt. Uzbekistan's government has repeatedly been accused by Amnesty International and Western governments of gross human rights violations. Keith Martin, RFE/RL, Inc. CORRECTION: "Baltic Sea" should be replaced by "Black Sea" throughout the item "United Command for Baltic Sea Fleet" in RFE/RL Daily Report of 21 June. CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN UPDATE. International media report on 22 June that the parliaments of Bosnia-Herzegovina and that of its Croat-Muslim federation are expected to approve a joint government. RFE-RL's South Slavic Language Service said the previous evening that Turkish peacekeepers are arriving and will take up positions at Gornji Vakuf, Zenica, and Maglaj. Meanwhile on the Croatian-Bosnian frontier, the authorities began allowing Bosnian refugees pushed out by Serb forces from Banja Luka to enter Croatian territory, Reuters reports. According to AFP, moreover, refugees are not all that are crossing that border: a regular flow of weapons purchased with money from Islamic countries is coming into Bosnia once the Croats have taken a cut. The Croatian authorities, however, do not allow heavy weapons to be shipped and make sure that the Muslims do not get enough arms to change the balance of power on the ground greatly. Finally in Croatia itself, the parliamentary deadlock stemming from the split this spring in the ruling party continues. The Sabor met on 21 June without the opposition, the South Slavic Service reports. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. MARJANOVIC ON SERBIA'S ECONOMY. On 22 June Politika reports on an interview with Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Marjanovic under the headline: "Budget Balanced, Production Has Increased." Marjanovic, using the daily as a forum through which to extol the virtues of the government's performance on the economy, contends that the rump Yugoslav economy has been reinvigorated, affording buyers such luxuries as stable prices. In a seeming attempt to assure the public that current fiscal policies will not plunge the country back into hyper-inflation, he adds that "the money supply is under control." Marjanovic's most recent remarks come, however, at a time when some Western observers have noted that the Serbian economy is showing signs of unraveling. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. POLL ON BELARUS PRESIDENTIAL RACE. The Belarus National Sociology Institute conducted a poll in Minsk on the six candidates for the presidential elections on 23 June, Interfax reported on 20 June. Prime Minister Vyacheslau Kebich was leading supported by 31% of the respondents. The popularity of former chairman of the parliament anti-corruption commission, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, declined to 25% due to charges that he might have organized a fictitious assassination attempt against himself. Former parliament chairman Stanislau Shushkevich was third, followed by Popular Front Chairman Zyanon Paznyak, Belarus Communist Party Central Committee secretary Vasil' Novikau, and Agrarian Party Chairman Alyaksandr Dubko. None of the candidates is expected to receive a majority of the votes so that a second round between the top two candidates will be necessary. The council of monitors under the Central Election Commission has recommended that the media not publish any more poll results. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. POLISH GOVERNMENT DRAGS FEET ON REFORMS. Foreign Minister Andrzej Olechowski voiced irritation on 21 June after the cabinet failed to approve guidelines designed to separate political from career posts in the foreign affairs ministry (MSZ), PAP reports. The guidelines were meant to protect the MSZ from partisan personnel upheaval with every change of government. Although Olechowski had already sought the approval of the president, the Sejm's foreign affairs commission, and representatives of all major parties, the cabinet opted to send the guidelines to a commission headed by public administration chief Michal Strak for further work. Olechowski called the decision unacceptable; he hinted he will consider resigning if the guidelines are not adopted by the end of July. The decision underlines Olechowski's isolation in the two-party government; no other cabinet member offered him support. The move coincides with the completion of a report by a coalition-controlled Sejm subcommittee that catalogues the complaints of the communist "professionals" who were ousted from the MSZ after Solidarity took power in 1989. It reportedly includes the charge that the Warsaw Pact's dissolution was a diplomatic disaster for Poland. At the same session on 21 June, the Polish cabinet also resolved to oppose a parliamentary move to create the powiat, an institution meant to devolve further powers to local communities. The government argued that the erection of new local structures should not precede the adoption of a new constitution. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. POLISH DIPLOMATIC CHRONICLE. Concluding a two-day visit to Warsaw on 21 June, OECD Secretary General Jean-Claude Paye told Polish officials that Poland can expect full membership in the OECD within the next 18 months. Poland has had working contacts with the OECD since 1987; it formally applied for membership on 1 February. Irish President Mary Robinson began a four-day official visit on 21 June, PAP reports. President Lech Walesa urged Ireland to support Poland's more rapid integration with the EU. Also on 21 June, Spanish Defense Minister Julian Garcia Vargas signed a defense cooperation agreement with his Polish counterpart, Piotr Kolodziejczyk. Poland has signed 20 such bilateral military cooperation agreements since 1991. Kolodziejczyk told reporters that Vargas' visit had special significance because Spain has completed a path that Poland wishes to follow. Finally, visiting Russian parliamentarian and Yeltsin ally Sergei Stankevich welcomed what he claimed is a new stress on an "active Eastern policy" by the current Polish government. Joining NATO is up to Poland, Stankevich said, but Russia wants internal changes before the alliance undertakes "geographic expansion." Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. CENTRAL EUROPEAN MINISTERS TO MEET IN WARSAW. Olechowski also announced that he and US Secretary of State Warren Christopher had jointly invited the foreign ministers of Albania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia to attend a meeting in Warsaw on 7 July, PAP reports. The session will discuss regional security and relations with NATO as well as US aid and investment in the region. US President Bill Clinton is to visit Poland on 6-7 July, on his way from the Baltic States to the G-7 meeting in Naples. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. HUNGARIAN PARTIES AGREE ON PARLIAMENTARY POSTS. After almost two weeks of negotiations, the six parliamentary parties agreed on 21 June on the distribution of posts in parliament, MTI reports. Under the agreement, there will be one chairman of parliament, three deputy chairmen, eight clerks, and 17 committees. The opposition parties will chair the budget, national security, local government, employment, and European integration committees, and will be represented on the staff of all committees. The Alliance of Free Democrats, the likely partner in the coalition government, will head the constitutional, foreign policy, and national defense committees. The largest party, the Hungarian Socialist Party, will chair the rest of the committees and will also fill the post of chairman of parliament. The formal agreement on the distribution of posts is expected to be signed on 23 June by the parties' faction leaders. Edith Oltay, RFE/RL, Inc. HUNGARIAN AND SLOVAK PRESIDENTS IN US. On 21 June Arpad Goncz and his Slovak counterpart Michal Kovac met jointly with US President Bill Clinton, Western media report. Clinton praised the Hungarian and Slovak peoples for their steadfastness, "even in the face of great difficulty" and congratulated the two presidents for their "genuine leadership ability." Following the meeting, Goncz and Kovac issued a joint statement in which they pledged to work together "to effect a historic reconciliation" between their countries. In the statement, the two presidents stressed that they support minority rights for ethnic Hungarians in Slovakia and for ethnic Slovaks in Hungary. Goncz said that the new Hungarian government will make it a top priority to conclude a basic treaty with Slovakia. Goncz and Kovac are to receive a joint award on 22 June from the Institute for East-West Studies for their efforts to overcome historical differences between Slovakia and Hungary. Edith Oltay, RFE/RL, Inc. CZECH GDP GROWS. Speaking to journalists in Prague on 21 June, Premier Vaclav Klaus announced that the Czech Republic's gross domestic product grew by 3.5% in the first three months of 1994. Klaus called the development "a breakthrough." Economy Minister Karel Dyba said that GDP grew mainly owing to expanding trade and services as well as growth of the construction industry. Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc. CZECHS, SWEDES SIGN MILITARY COOPERATION AGREEMENT. Czech Defense Minister Antonin Baudys and his Swedish counterpart, Anders Bjoerck, signed a memorandum of understanding for military cooperation on 21 June. Baudys is leading a delegation of Czech army officers in Stockholm. CTK and international media reported the story. Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAKIA, FRANCE SIGN MILITARY COOPERATION AGREEMENT. On 21 June Slovak Defense Minister Pavol Kanis and French Defense Minister Francois Leotard, meeting in Paris, signed a military cooperation agreement. A spokesman for the French defense ministry told the media that the document places French military relations with Slovakia on the same level as those with the Czech Republic. The agreement does not mention joint French-Slovak exercises but the ministers agreed that a specialist from French defense ministry will visit Bratislava next month to start preparations for holding the exercises next year. Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc. BULGARIA, US SIGN NUCLEAR ENERGY DEAL. A bilateral agreement making US nuclear technology available to Bulgaria was signed on 21 June. BTA quotes Bulgarian officials as saying that the deal is the result of two years of cooperation between US and Bulgarian nuclear energy specialists, and lays the foundation for further development in that direction. It covers both research projects and practical work in the fields of nuclear safety and radiation protection. The agreement was signed in Sofia by US Ambassador William Montgomery and the chairman of the Committee for the Use of Atomic Energy for Peaceful Purposes, Yanko Yanev. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc. HAVEL IN ROMANIA. Czech Republic President Vaclav Havel started on 21 June a two-day state visit to Romania, Radio Bucharest reports. He is accompanied by a high-ranking delegation, including privatization minister Jiri Skalicky. Havel, who is on his first visit ever to Romania, talked with President Ion Iliescu, Premier Nicolae Vacaroiu and other senior officials about promoting economic and other relations. The two presidents are scheduled to sign a bilateral friendship and cooperation treaty that had been initialed last year. Havel will also meet members of Romania's small ethnic Czech community. Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL, Inc. BLACK SEA PARLIAMENTARY MEETING IN BUCHAREST. The Parliamentary Assembly for Economic Cooperation among Black Sea States opened its third conference in Bucharest on 21 June. The meeting is attended by delegations from Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine, as well as by observers from Bulgaria and Greece. The delegations are headed by parliament's presidents or vice-presidents from the member states. In an interview with Radio Bucharest, the chairman of Romania's Chamber of Deputies Adrian Nastase described the conference as the "most important parliamentary meeting in Bucharest since the 1989 [events]." The meeting will focus on economic, trade technological and environmental cooperation. Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL, Inc. ROMANIAN SHIPBUILDERS END STRIKE. Romanian shipbuilders in the Black Sea port of Constanta ended a one-day strike after winning pay concessions from their state-run company. Radio Bucharest reported that salaries will increase by 35% in June and 75% in July as against May. Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL, Inc. ROMANIA IN DISPUTE WITH RUSSIA OVER THIRD PARTIES' TERRITORIES? Russian State Duma Vice-Chairman Valentin Kovalev (Communist Party of the Russian Federation) told ITAR-TASS in Bucharest after talks with Romanian parliamentary leaders on 21 June that "Romanian-Russian disputes are not insoluble or clashing," but are "extremely complicated." He listed "the territorial issue of Bessarabia and Bukovina, Moldova's place in the world community, the question of [Russia's] 14th Army stationed in Moldova, and the assessment of the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact." While acknowledging Bucharest's "comradely disposition, understanding of the complexity of these differences, and wish to resolve them in a constructive and non-confrontational manner," Kovalev said that "no significant progress has been made toward settling them." The territorial issues cited by Kovalev are being regularly raised by Bucharest with Russia under the rubric of "reversing the consequences of the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact," notwithstanding that the territories lost at that time by Romania to the USSR are now in Moldova and Ukraine. Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. ALBANIAN PROSECUTOR SEEKS 10 YEARS JAIL FOR RAMIZ ALIA. At the end of the month-long trial of former Albanian President Ramiz Alia, the state prosecutor urged the court to sentence Alia to 10 years imprisonment, Reuters reported on 18 June. The last communist Albanian president was charged with abuse of power and misappropriation of state funds, a charge that was later changed to one of violation of citizens' rights. Alia accused the government of current President Sali Berisha of putting him on trial for political purposes. He challenged the court to have the entire proceedings broadcast live on television, but was turned down. For nine other ex-communist officials, including former Prime Minister Adil Carcani and his deputy Manush Myftiu, the prosecutor called for penalties between three and ten years, Gazeta Shqiptare reported the same day. Fabian Schmidt, RFE/RL, Inc. GAY RIGHTS GROUP SET UP IN ALBANIA. The 18 June issue of Balkan News International reports that The Gay Albania Society has been launched under the motto: "Albania- the only country in Europe without a gay organization. No longer." The group will oppose not only the deeply-rooted prejudice typical of all "macho" Balkan societies but also the communist-era anti-gay laws still on the books. As is the case with a similar organization in Croatia, the group appears to be taking a low-profile, even timid, approach. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. YELTSIN SIGNS DECREE ON ESTONIAN-RUSSIAN BORDER. On 21 June Russia' s President Yeltsin signed a decree "On the Demarcation of the Border between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Estonia," BNS reported. The decree was purportedly issued to protect Russia's political and economic interests and ensure legal conditions to defend its border with Estonia. More importantly, however, it directs Russian authorities to mark unilaterally that border by 31 December 1994 as it was at the time of Moscow's recognition of Estonian sovereignty on 24 August 1991; it will remain in force until an appropriate bilateral agreement is signed. After World War II some Estonian territory was annexed by the RSFSR without the acquiescence of Estonia. Tallinn has heretofore insisted that any negotiations on borders must start with Moscow's recognition of the Tartu Peace Treaty of 1920 which defined the borders between Estonia and Soviet Russia. Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc. LAW ON CITIZENSHIP PASSED IN LATVIA. The Saeima adopted the law on citizenship and naturalization with a vote of 66-11-3 for the draft law that the deputies had already endorsed in its second reading on 9 June. While there were proposals to eliminate naturalization quotas entirely, as suggested by the Council of Europe, CSCE specialists, and Latvia's State Minister for Human Rights Olafs Bruvers, the majority of the lawmakers rejected these suggestions. It is widely believed that this law could hamper Latvia's quick admission to the Council of Europe. Those favoring a less restrictive law hope that President Guntis Ulmanis will not endorse the law and send it back to the Saeima for reconsideration, Diena reported. Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc. ESTONIAN BUDGET SURPLUS. On 21 June Finance Minister Heiki Kranich told parliament about revenues collected in the first five months, BNS reports. Collected revenues amounted to 47.5% of planned annual revenues, or higher than the expected 41%. The higher revenues were primarily due to collecting 55.9% of planned annual revenues from sales tax. Income from individual, excise, and corporate taxes were 43.4%, 41.4%, and 40.4% of planned annual totals, respectively. Only 4.6% of annual revenue from land tax was collected, causing problems for many local governments since 10% of their incomes were to come from the land tax. The government accordingly appropriated 1.2 million kroons to pay for sending land tax notices by registered mail. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Liz Fuller and Patrick Moore 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. This report is also available by postal mail, as are the other publications of the Institute, and by fax. 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