|Luchshee - vrag horoshego. - Vol'ter|
No. 124, 1 July 1994
RUSSIA CHUBAIS: VOUCHER PRIVATIZATION A SUCCESS. As thousands of Russians stood in line on 30 June to beat the deadline for investing their vouchers in privatized state firms, the government convened to complete plans for the next, "postvoucher" stage of privatization. Privatization Minister Anatolii Chubais told Interfax on 30 June that 70% of Russian industry--20,000 of 28,000 large or mid-sized industrial enterprises--has been privatized in the past 18 months. Another 90,000 small shops and businesses (constituting 80% of firms with fewer than 200 employees) have been sold off, he said. Chubais reported that 139 million of the total 148 million vouchers (94%) had been used as of 25 June; last-minute transactions are likely to raise the share of invested vouchers to 97-98%. More than 40 million citizens now own shares. Chubais argued that this shows that voucher privatization has fulfilled its mission of creating a vast pool of private owners and selling the idea of privatization to the public. Joseph Blasi, a Western adviser to the Russian government, argued in a 30 June commentary carried by The New York Times that on the basis of 200 case studies, voucher privatization has in most cases resulted in majority stock-holding by employees, but that industrial managers have largely retained executive control. Blasi said that privatization has already improved efficiency by cutting employment, but most firms are still starved for capital and unable to find markets for their products. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. GOVERNMENT PLANS SECOND STAGE. The Russian government's new program for privatization, set for introduction on 1 July, is designed to remedy two shortcomings of voucher privatization: the dispersion of ownership and the shortage of new capital infusions. Chubais said the new program will privatize an additional 20% of state industry through direct cash auctions. The portion of shares available for employees on preferential terms will drop to 10% from the 51% in force under voucher privatization. Under the program, enterprises will be permitted to acquire the land on which they are located and to sell any surplus property. The program is apparently being prepared in haste; it is set for introduction in a presidential decree to be issued on 1 July, but a government commission was formed only on 30 June to complete the draft. Subsequent legislation reinforcing the terms of the decree is to be adopted by the parliament. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin expressed concern on 30 June that the parliamentary recess may delay work on this legislation and that the State Duma may attempt to alter the terms set in the decree. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. OECD CAUTIOUS ON RUSSIAN ECONOMY. In a report issued on 30 June, the OECD predicted that Russia's economy will contract by 10% in 1994, followed by a further drop of 2% in 1995. Given the 19% plunge in 1992 and the 12% drop in 1993, this represents a relative improvement, the OECD noted. Still, the report said, "sustained efforts" remain necessary to ensure fiscal stabilization and structural reforms. The OECD predicted that annual inflation will amount to 450% in 1994 and 150% in 1995. While these rates are better than those of the past two years, they continue to "reflect the lack of fiscal and monetary control" in the region. In contrast, the report noted, Estonia has reduced its annual inflation to 30% and both Estonia and Latvia are recording economic growth. The report praised Russian privatization efforts but noted that "traditional enterprise relationships remain largely intact." Enterprises still receive credits according to criteria that defy market principles. The OECD questioned official statistics showing that Russia's trade balance improved substantially in 1993. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. INDIA AND RUSSIA: A FLURRY OF ACTIVITY. Indian Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao and Russian President Boris Yeltsin, meeting in the Kremlin on 30 June, signed ten bilateral agreements of various sorts but failed to resolve differences on Indian debt repayments to Russia, western news agencies reported. Spokesmen for both sides were nevertheless upbeat in their assessments of the latest attempt by New Delhi and Moscow to resuscitate the close relations that existed between the two capitals prior to the break-up of the USSR. Details of the agreements were not made public, but they included a declaration on the defense of interests of multi-national states which, according to Interfax, stated that the "destabilization of relations between ethnic and religious groups, any attempts to deport them, ethnic cleansing . . . can only lead to the destruction of everything positive and constructive which humankind has acquired during its multi-thousand year evolution . . . Russia and India display their conviction that large multi-national states bear special responsibility for the destiny of hundreds of millions of people." Yeltsin and Rao also signed a "Declaration on Further Development and Expansion of Cooperation Between Russia and India," which declared that the two countries share a common view of regional and global issues. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. YELTSIN ON ECONOMIC CLIMATE, ASIA POLICY. According to Interfax, Yeltsin used the meeting with Rao to emphasize again his argument that the political situation in Russia has stabilized and that this has greatly improved the nation's investment climate. He also emphasized that Russia did not want to lose India's extensive market for Russian investment and exports. Interfax noted that the cooperation agreement declaration issued by Yeltsin and Rao referred to a readiness by the two countries to pursue joint research and development of lasers, laser technologies, new generation aircraft, data processing technologies, and exploration of space. Turning to foreign policy, Yeltsin told Rao that Asian developments have always occupied a prominent place in Russian foreign policy deliberations and suggested that Russia and India had played, and would continue to play, an important role in countering the threat to peace on the continent. Yeltsin said that while the emerging post-Cold War environment offered new opportunities for cooperation in Asia, it had nevertheless also brought with it aggressive nationalism, separatism, the potential for territorial disputes, and the "threat of proliferation of nuclear weapons and missile technologies." One area of tension in Russian-Indian relations has been New Delhi's unwillingness to sign to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, a stance which Moscow fears could undermine its own efforts to assure a non-nuclear status for Ukraine and Kazakhstan, not to mention North Korea. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. MILITARY COOPERATION ADVANCED. Defense cooperation, as was expected, appeared to occupy a prominent place in the talks. AFP reported that Rao, who holds India's defense portfolio, and Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin had agreed on 30 June to widen defense cooperation and that the details of several defense agreements would soon be made public. One such agreement that was announced involved the establishment of a joint aircraft manufacturing venture, to be comprised, according to Interfax, of four Russian and two Indian partners. AFP, quoting ITAR-TASS, also reported that Russia was prepared to offer 30 Su-30 fighters to India on credit and to license their production as well. The same report said that India was also considering the purchase of 36 advanced MiG-29 fighters in a deal that could be worth around $780 million. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. NO PRESIDENTIAL DECISION YET ON ELECTION DELAY. President Yeltsin's spokesman Vyacheslav Kostikov told Interfax on 30 June that the president has not yet decided if he supports or opposes a proposal to postpone presidential and parliamentary elections. (Recently the speaker of the parliament's upper chamber Vladimir Shumeiko proposed a two-year delay for the elections.) Kostikov said that Yeltsin was following the public and parliamentary reaction and believed it was necessary to wait until society reached a consensus before he (the president) made public his own opinion. So far most politicians in Moscow have reacted negatively to Shumeiko's proposal. Vera Tolz, RFE/RL, Inc. POTAPOV ELECTED PRESIDENT OF BURYATIA. Leonid Potapov, hitherto chairman of the Supreme Soviet of Buryatia and before that Party first secretary of the republic, was elected the first President of Buryatia on 30 June, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 July. Potapov, a Russian who speaks Buryat, received the vast majority of votes in a run-off with Aleksandr Ivanov, chairman of the State Committee for the Economy. Repeat elections for the new Buryat parliament, the People's Khural, were also held on 30 June. Potapov, who will also head the government, said after his election that the relatively high turn-out of around 50 percent inspired hope that Buryatia would overcome its economic crisis. Ann Sheehy, RFE/RL, Inc. MEETING OF PRESIDENTIAL REPRESENTATIVES IN CENTRAL OBLASTS. A meeting of the representatives of the Russian president in the central oblasts of Russia in Moscow on 30 June, which was opened by the head of the presidential administration, Sergei Filatov, discussed inter alia Yeltsin's recent decree on combatting crime, the degree to which the charters of the oblasts and krais accord with the Russian constitution, progress in forming organs of local self-government, the formation of public chambers in the regions of the Russian Federation, and the implementation of the law on citizenship, ITAR-TASS reported. The head of the state and law department of the president, R. Orekhov, said that about 24 oblast and krai charters had been drawn up so far and their main failing was an imprecise delimitation of powers between the federal organs and the territories. The deputy head of the presidential administration V. Volkov spoke of the important role of the representatives of the president in organizing the work of public chambers in the regions. Ann Sheehy, RFE/RL, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY ON TURKISH SHIPPING RESTRICTIONS. The Russian Foreign Ministry has called on Turkey not to implement the restrictions on shipping through the Turkish straits--in particular on oil tanker traffic--that are scheduled to come into force on 1 July, Interfax reported on 30 June. Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigorii Karasin was quoted as saying that free passage of shipping through the straits is of "great significance" for the Russian economy. Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, and Greece have also lodged objections. According to AFP, Russia will not comply with all the new regulations, which have been approved by the UN International Maritime Organization. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. IAEA GIVES GO-AHEAD FOR REACTIVATING MEDZAMOR. After completing a thorough inspection of Armenia's mothballed Medzamor nuclear power station, a team of experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency stated on 29 June that the body of the reactor and basic equipment are in satisfactory condition, and there are no fundamental obstacles to reactivating it, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. No prediction was given as to how long the preparations for reopening would take. Armenian deputy prime minister Vigen Chitechyan was quoted as estimating the total costs at at least $70 million; the IAEA will not provide financial assistance, but will help in trying to raise international aid to finance the project. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE EXTENSION OF BOSNIA CEASE-FIRE SOUGHT. UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali expressed interest on 30 June in extending the current much-violated Bosnia cease-fire, which is set to expire on 8 July. According to agency reports, Boutros-Ghali has suggested that a cease-fire extension would allow more time in which to bring the warring parties to the negotiating table in efforts to establish a longer-term peace. To date, no official from any of the warring parties has expressed any desire to extend the present cease-fire. Meanwhile, reports of serious fighting in Bosnia continue to circulate, with the most intense clashes being reported in north-central Bosnia, where Muslim-led forces have recently made gains against the Bosnian Serb side. Finally, Reuters reported on 30 June that "in the last few days" Serbs in Croatia's breakaway Republic of Serbian Krajina have sent heavy weapons to the rebel Bosnian Muslim troops in Bihac led by Fikret Abdic. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. AMBASSADOR WARNS AGAINST CROATIA-KRAJINA CLASH. On 30 June Reuters and on 1 July Vjesnik reported that US ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith cautioned that any outbreak of fighting between Zagreb and rebel Serbs in the breakaway Republic of Serbian Krajina could lead to military defeats for Croatia. Evidently prompting Galbraith's comments was the belief that "the danger of a new war remains." His remarks come in the wake of recent statements by Croatian officials amounting to pledges to reincorporate Krajina by force if talks between Zagreb and Krajina yield no progress in resolving the issue of Krajina's political status by 30 September 1994. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. MACEDONIA "AMAZED", GREECE HEARTENED BY COURT RULING. On 30 June Reuters reported that the Macedonian foreign ministry registered its "amazement" at a 29 June European Court of Justice ruling effectively allowing Greece to continue its embargo against Macedonia. Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou has already hailed the decision, calling it supportive of the contention that the Greek measure is legal. For its part, the European Union, which brought the case to the court's attention, has pledged to continue to attempt to have the embargo lifted. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. LUKASHENKA NOW STRESSING BELARUS INDEPENDENCE? An aide to Alyaksandr Lukashenka, the front-runner in Belarus's presidential runoff election, indicated on 29 June that his candidate has shifted his policies and is now advocating the country's independence from Russia, agencies report. Lukashenka is also urging the introduction of a Belarusian currency instead of inclusion in the ruble zone, according to aide Viktor Kuchynski. This would constitute a complete political about-face on the part of Lukashenka, who until now has actively promoted reunification with Russia and the reconstitution of the USSR. Presumably this is merely a tactic to woo liberals who voted for Stanislau Shushkevich or Zyanon Paznyak on 24 June, and who might be tempted to stay away in droves from the runoff (and risk the invalidation of the election if voter participation is less than 50%). In any event, Kuchynski's comments underscore the exceedingly low caliber of debate in Belarus's first presidential race. Kathy Mihalisko, RFE/RL, Inc. CRIMEA VOTES FOR FULL AUTHORITY OVER ITS AFFAIRS. The Crimea leadership on 30 June voted to grant itself full powers on the territory of Crimea, with the exception of powers voluntarily delegated to Kiev. As reported by Ukrinform-TASS, the leadership also condemned the parliament and president of Ukraine for taking legislative and executive actions that violated the Constitution of the Republic of Crimea as well as the 1992 law on division of state powers between Crimea and Ukraine. In a statement directed to the Ukrainian parliament, Simferopil' threatened to lift the moratorium on a Crimean independence referendum if Kiev did not halt its formation of a main directorate of internal affairs in Crimea and did not continue negotiations between the Crimean and national parliaments. Kathy Mihalisko, RFE/RL, Inc. UKRAINIAN OFFICERS SUPPORT KRAVCHUK FOR PRESIDENT. As reported by UNIAN on 29 June, the Union of Officers of Ukraine opted to endorse Leonid Kravchuk's candidacy for president in the runoff election between the incumbent and rival Leonid Kuchma. This follows previous information that Kravchuk had strong electoral support among military units in the country. The runoff is now officially scheduled for 10 July. Kathy Mihalisko, RFE/RL, Inc. ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT WINS NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE. On 30 June, the government of premier Nicolae Vacaroiu survived the fifth no-confidence vote since its formation in 1992. Radio Bucharest broadcast the debates in parliament live. The no-confidence motion moved by the opposition was rejected with 227 votes against and 208 in favor. To succeed, the motion would have required the backing of 242 deputies and senators. Western agencies report from Bucharest that, as in the past, the government owes its survival to the support of the extreme nationalists. It is speculated that the Vacaroiu cabinet might be soon reshuffled, bringing in members of the Party of Romanian National Unity, in line with an agreement between that formation and the ruling party that has never been implemented. Meanwhile, leaders of the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania begin a two-day meeting on 1 July against a background of reports of growing differences between the party's left and right wings over economic policies. Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc. ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT SCHEDULES IMPEACHMENT VOTE. The political parties represented in the Romanian parliament decided to hold a special session of the legislature to discuss the impeachment of President Ion Iliescu, as demanded by the opposition, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Bucharest on 30 June. The special session will begin on 4 July and run through 7 July, but could be extended. The opposition says Iliescu has violated the constitution by asking public officials to ignore court decisions returning nationalized homes to their pre-communist owners. Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc. TINCA REVEALS ROMANIAN CHEMICAL WEAPONS PROGRAM. Romania's defense minister said on 30 June that his country had experimented with making chemical weapons but never built any and has stopped work on them, an RFE/RL correspondent and Western agencies report. Gheorghe Tinca told a press conference in Bucharest that former President Nicolae Ceausescu had authorized work on chemical weapons in 1968. However, Tinca said, Ceausescu later decided the project was too costly and ordered it canceled in 1987, although the actual work did not stop until 1990. He said the project never went beyond the laboratory stage. Tinca revealed he was asked about the chemical weapons project when he visited Washington in mid-June. He added he invited US specialists to inspect the laboratories where the work was carried out. Tinca also said that Romania produces small amounts of four internationally-banned chemical substances. These amounts were said to be used to test the army's chemical-warfare protection equipment. Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAK PARLIAMENT APPROVES DEFENSE DOCTRINE. During its session on 30 June, the Slovak parliament approved the new defense doctrine proposed by Defense Minister Pavol Kanis. The doctrine deals with the country's national security requirements and introduces a security policy document on Slovakia's participation in the Partnership for Peace program. It stresses the importance of integration into European security structures, particularly NATO, and states that Slovakia has no reason to use its army other than to defend its independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and stability. The document also deals with the principles of building the armed forces and defense capabilities, stating that the country's defense needs must be in line with its economic, technological, and spiritual potential. The parliament also approved a proposal to send Slovak army observers on monitoring missions to Nagorno-Karabakh, in agreement with the CSCE. A new law on the reorganization of the defense ministry provides for the creation of a military information service, to be divided into sections on defense and offense. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAK NATIONAL BANK'S ECONOMIC REPORT. On 30 June the National Bank of Slovakia held a press conference to discuss recent economic developments. National Bank Governor Vladimir Masar announced that foreign currency reserves have shown long-term growth and totaled $713.7 million, excluding gold, on 30 June. This is a rise of $45 million since 28 June. The state budget deficit reached 7.7 billion koruny on 28 June, which corresponds with expectations. Slovakia has registered a trade surplus with the Czech Republic, with a positive balance of 3.7 billion koruny. The NBS also announced that two new Slovak bank notes will be issued. The 200 koruny note will feature the 19th century writer Anton Bernolak, while the 5,000 koruny note will portray one of the founders of Czechoslovakia, Milan Rastislav Stefanik. The bank notes will be printed in Munich, Germany. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. WALESA WARNS OF "LEFTIST COUNTERATTACK." Sejm debate on Poland's concordat with the Vatican suggested that left-wing attempts to delay ratification until after the new constitution is adopted are unlikely to succeed, Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 1 July. The Democratic Left Alliance and the Labor Union opposed swift ratification, but all the other parties favored a timely vote. Foreign Affairs Minister Andrzej Olechowski argued that the concordat's formulation on "independence and autonomy" is fully in keeping with the current constitution's "separation" of Church and state. President Lech Walesa attended the debate. At a press conference on 30 June, Walesa charged that the SLD's attempt to delay ratification amounts to "blackmail." He spoke of a "leftist counterattack." In remarks certain to stir controversy, Walesa also urged atheists and non-believers to own up publicly to their convictions. "Believers must call the minority to order," he said. "Why should [a non-believer] want to be taken for a believer, hide his views? [To be] a fifth column?" Walesa asked. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. WALESA SIGNS WAGE CONTROL BILL. The Polish president on 30 June signed legislation--the so-called neopopiwek--that imposes a punitive tax of 150% on state firms that allow excessive wage increases, Polish TV reports. Walesa vetoed an earlier version of the bill in March. The new version applies only to the roughly 6,000 firms in which at least 80% of the shares are owned by the state. The parliament's failure to override that veto left state firms without any wage controls for three months. Many economists worried that this lack would prompt a surge in wages and later in inflation, but these fears have so far proved unfounded. It remains unclear whether the law takes effect on 1 July or 1 August, as the timing depends on the law's date of publication. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. POLISH SENATE APPROVES LIBERAL ABORTION LAW. After a heated six-hour debate on 30 June, the Senate voted 40 to 36 with 4 abstentions to approve the Sejm's amendment to the penal code removing virtually all restrictions on abortions performed in the first trimester of pregnancy, Gazeta Wyborcza reports. Only the Solidarity deputies were uniformly opposed to the revision, which basically overturns the abortion ban imposed in 1993. About 100 opponents of abortion demonstrated outside the parliament. President Lech Walesa has vowed to veto the bill. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. HEAD OF HUNGARIAN TELEVISION REPLACED. In one of their first major political decisions, the ruling coalition parties agreed on a replacement for the controversial head of Hungarian State Television, Gabor Nahlik, MTI reported on 30 June. The new candidate is Adam Horvath, a film, theater, and television director. Horvath was a protege of the Kadar regime's culture czar, Gyorgy Aczel. Nahlik's recall was initiated by care-taker Prime Minister Peter Boross, in a gesture of political reconciliation. Two vice presidential appointments were also settled. The new appointments will be valid only until a new media law is passed by the new parliament, but the appointees received commitments to continued employment after the law takes force. In a related development, Istvan G. Palfy, the director of the TV news department, was relieved of his duties. Palfy had been accused of propagating programs favoring the previous government. Karoly Okolicsanyi, RFE/RL, Inc. DEMOGRAPHIC SITUATION WORSENS IN LATVIA. According to the State Statistics Committee, the demographic indicators for 1993 were largely negative, Briva Latvija of 20-27 June and Lauku Avize of 7 June reported. Since 1991 the number of deaths have exceeded the number of births; in 1993 the difference was 12,438, whereas in 1992 the figure was 3,851. The birth rate in 1993--10.3 per 1,000 inhabitants--was the lowest in the past 50 years. There was also a significant decrease in the number of marriages. The principal causes of death continue to be circulatory diseases, accidents, and cancer. On the positive side, the infant mortality rate declined. In January 1994, there were about 1,391,500 Latvians living in Latvia or about 4,000 fewer than in January 1993. Numerical declines were also registered among most of the nationalities living in Latvia in 1993. The population composition by nationality in January 1994 was: Latvians--54.2%; Russians--33.1%; Belarusians--4.1%; Ukrainians--3.1%; Poles--2.2%; Lithuanians--1.3%; Jews--0.5%; Estonians--0.1%; and other nationalities--1.4%. Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc. ESTONIA ADOPTS LEGISLATION ON BORDERS. On 30 June the Estonian parliament adopted legislation on borders and border guarding, Interfax reported. The Peace Treaty of Tartu of 1920 and other international accords will define the land borders, while international conventions will govern the air and sea borders. Minister of Culture and Education Peeter Olesk told the press that the parliament treats the current Estonian-Russian border as provisional; he believes that much time is needed for the resolution of border issues with Russia. (A recent public opinion poll showed that most Estonian and non-Estonian respondents are prepared compromise with Russia on border issues, BNS reported on 29 June.) The Estonian parliament also adopted a legislation on border guards, who are to be under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in peacetime and answer to the commander-in-chief of the armed forces in time of war. Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc. NEW PARLIAMENT FACTION IN ESTONIA. On 30 June nine former members of Pro Patria officially registered a new faction, called the Rightists, BNS reports. Christian Democrat Karin Jaani is its chairman; Conservative Enn Tarto is deputy chairman. Other faction members come from the Christian Democrats, Conservatives, and Republicans. The Rightists accused Pro-Patria of abandoning its right-wing principles in compromises with its left-wing coalition partners. The faction said that it will continue to support the government's policies aimed at strengthening a nation-based state and the market economy. Republican Indrek Kannik said that the faction will probably run in the next parliamentary elections together with the Liberal Democrats, who had abandoned the Pro Patria coalition earlier. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. FOREIGN VISITORS TO LITHUANIA. On 30 June Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis made a brief unofficial visit to Vilnius to discuss with his Lithuanian counterpart Algirdas Brazauskas the meeting on 6 July of the three Baltic presidents with US President Bill Clinton and the dispute on Latvian-Lithuanian sea borders. Earlier that day China's Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Qian Qichen began a two day visit to Lithuania. On 1 July he will hold talks with Brazauskas, Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius, Foreign Minister Povilas Gylys, and Seimas Chairman Ceslovas Jursenas on ways to strengthen political, economic, and trade cooperation between the two countries, Radio Lithuania reports. Qian arrived from Minsk where he met with high-ranking Belarusian officials; he will fly to Tallinn on 1 July and then to Helsinki. Qian noted that he would not visit Latvia because it had established diplomatic relations with Taiwan. It was also announced that Brazauskas would travel to Minsk on 2 July to participate in the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of Belarus's liberation from German occupation. He will meet there with Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. NOTICE: The RFE/RL Daily Report will not appear Monday, 4 July 1994. 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