We were born to unite with our fellowmen, and to join in community with the human race. - Cicero
RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 132, 14 July 1994

                              RUSSIA

RUSSIAN SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES BORDER REGIMES. Russia's
Security Council, meeting under the chairmanship of President
Boris Yeltsin, on 13 July approved a series of resolutions on
improving Russia's border security, Interfax reported. Details of
the package were not made public, but RFE/RL's Moscow
correspondent reported prior to the meeting that Border Forces
commander Col. Gen. Andrei Nikolaev would present a plan
envisioning different types of border regimes depending upon the
particularities of the border region and Russia's relations with
the countries involved. Some of the proposed changes were said to
be as follows: Russia's borders with the Baltic States will be
tightly guarded, especially regarding checks on imports and
exports; borders with China, Finland, Mongolia, and Norway will be
less tightly guarded than during the Soviet period; borders with
the Caucasus States will be guarded more strictly than with the
Baltic States but less than with other CIS states; borders with
Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Belarus will have few checks.  Stephen
Foye, RFE/RL Inc.

JOSTLING FOR CONTROL OF BORDER FORCES. ITAR-TASS of 13 July said
that Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev would suggest to
Security Council members a proposal that he had made before a
parliamentary defense committee earlier in the week that called
for subordinating the Border Forces to the Defense Ministry.
Interfax, however, quoted the Border Forces press spokesman,
Aleksandr Suvorov, as rejecting Grachev's proposal and arguing
that the Border Forces should be subordinated directly to the
President. He also suggested that Yeltsin favored strengthening
the role and autonomy of the Border Forces.  Stephen Foye, RFE/RL
Inc.

KALININGRAD ALSO ON AGENDA. Russian agency reports also said that
the status of Kaliningrad was on the Security Council agenda.
Although the discussions were not made public, Foreign Minister
Andrei Kozyrev and the speaker of the Russian Federation Council,
Vladimir Shumeiko (who was elected from Kaliningrad), were said to
have presented reports on the issue. Interfax said that likely
topics for discussion were the enclave's status as an integral
part of Russia, Russian military shipments to Kaliningrad via
Lithuania, regional social problems, and the strength of Russian
forces in the region.  Stephen Foye, RFE/RL Inc.

ON MILITARY PRESENCE IN KALININGRAD. Vyacheslav Kostikov, Russian
President Boris Yeltsin's chief spokesman, was quoted by BNS on 12
July as asserting that Moscow would decide unilaterally on the
number of troops that it keeps stationed in the Kaliningrad region
and that Russia's defense requirements would be the primary factor
governing the disposition of forces there. In other remarks
reported by BNS Kostikov also asserted that Moscow would decide
unilaterally on the number of troops that it keeps stationed in
the Kaliningrad region and that Russia's defense requirements
would be the primary factor governing the disposition of forces
there. The current number of Russian troops actually stationed in
Kaliningrad is unknown, but estimates generally begin at 100,000;
this high concentration of forces has been a concern to
neighboring governments. In March of this year the Russian Defense
Ministry announced plans to restructure the military forces in the
Oblast, with the aim of creating an integrated "special defense
region." Stephen Foye, RFE/RL Inc.

DUMA BLOCKS PRIVATIZATION PROGRAM. The State Duma failed to
approve "postvoucher" privatization legislation on 13 July,
effectively blocking a program that was meant to take effect on 1
July, when voucher privatization reached its expiration date. The
motion to approve the legislation in its first reading won the
support of only two party factions--Russia's Choice and 12
December--and mustered only 91 supporting votes, while 186
deputies were opposed, ITAR-TASS reported. Passage would have
required 225 votes. Critics charged that the postvoucher program,
which is based on outright sales designed to attract "strategic
investors" with capital and management skills, would sell off
state firms for only a fraction of their actual value. The Duma
sent the government's draft to committee for further work, but
instructed that competing drafts submitted by parliamentary
factions also receive consideration. Privatization Minister
Anatolii Chubais, who had appealed for rapid passage of the
legislation on 6 July, stalked out of the Duma in disgust when
Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky proposed
distributing state assets "in equal shares and into able hands."
Chubais indicated afterward that he will urge President Boris
Yeltsin to implement the program by decree. Duma speaker Ivan
Rybkin nonetheless expressed the hope that new legislation could
come to a vote on 21-22 July.  Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL Inc.

FOOD PRICES TO RISE. The Russian agriculture ministry reported on
12 July that higher procurement prices and new tariffs imposed on
imports of sugar, meat, and other food products on 1 July are
likely to prompt a substantial increase in food prices.
Agriculture officials told Interfax on 12 July that the price of a
loaf of bread could rise from 480 to 800 rubles and, a kilo of
sugar, from 766 to 1510 rubles. The ministry is proposing that a
presidential decree impose "profit limits" on food prices to
prevent retailers from using the opportunity to gouge prices. The
economics ministry said on 12 July that the 1994 grain harvest
will amount to 87-91 million tons, down from 99 million in 1993.
The agriculture ministry has made slightly higher estimates and
argued that increased imports will not be required; Agrarian Party
deputies have predicted a far smaller harvest and warned of
"disaster." Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL Inc.

KUWAIT, RUSSIA NEGOTIATE ARMS SALE. A delegation from the Russian
arms trading company Rosvooruzheniye is currently in Kuwait
discussing the sale of armored fighting vehicles to the Gulf
nation, the deputy chief of the company's foreign trade
department, Sergei Belousov, told ITAR-TASS on 13 July. A Reuters
report of 12 July, quoting sources in Kuwait, said that the deal
was thought to involve forty Russian BMP-3 armored personnel
carriers, and possibly some missile launching systems. The report
estimated the value of the deal at $800 million. Belousov,
interviewed in Moscow, made no mention of the missile launchers.
He said that the negotiations were at an "interim phase," and
dismissed suspicions voiced by a Kuwaiti parliamentarian--also
reported by ITAR-TASS--that Russia was in fact trying to sell
Kuwait outdated surplus equipment from the former Warsaw Pact.
Stephen Foye, RFE/RL Inc.

US SENATE TIES AID TO BALTIC TROOP WITHDRAWAL. In an amendment to
foreign aid legislation that would provide $839 million to former
Soviet republics in the 1995 fiscal year, the US Senate on 13 July
voted to block new aid to Russia after 31 August unless it meets a
deadline agreed upon earlier to withdraw all its military forces
from the Baltic States, RFE/RL reported out of Washington.
Supporters of the restriction, which would reportedly not apply to
humanitarian assistance or to housing assistance for military
officers who leave the Baltic, said that they wanted to send a
"strong message" to President Boris Yeltsin to meet the deadline.
Stephen Foye, RFE/RL Inc.

RUSSIAN SCIENTISTS PROTEST AGAINST SUDOPLATOV'S BOOK. A group of
nuclear physicists published a letter in Izvestiya on 12 July in
which they denounced Pavel Sudoplatov's version of the history of
the building of the nuclear bomb in the USSR as presented in his
book. Sudoplatov had worked in Soviet foreign intelligence and was
a close associate of the chief of the Stalin's secret services,
Lavrentii Beria. In his book Sudoplatov claims that leading
American scientists shared strategic information with Soviet
agents regarding the bomb. The physicists denied that the Soviets
had built the nuclear bomb mainly as a result of the efforts of
Beria's spies and through the cooperation of American scientists
with the Soviet intelligence. According to their letter, the
reason the first Soviet nuclear bomb was an exact copy of the
American device is simple: the Soviet scientists built the bomb as
a copy to ensure that it worked because they feared Stalin's wrath
in the event of the failure of an innovative version. Meanwhile,
Beria's son Sergo told Russian television on 4 July that the head
of the American nuclear project, Robert Oppenheimer, had secretly
visited the Soviet Union in 1939 and met with Lavrentii Beria,
even staying in his house for a time.  Victor Yasmann, RFE/RL Inc.

                  TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

UZBEKS JOIN PFP. On 13 July, Uzbekistan's foreign minister,
Saidmukhtar Saidkasimov, signed his country up for NATO's
Partnership for Peace (PFP) program in Brussels, AFP and ITAR-TASS
reported. Uzbekistan is the 22nd state to join the PFP initiative;
Tajikistan is now the only Central Asian state which has not
signed on to the program. Saidkasimov stated that his government
sees PFP membership as an additional way of enhancing stability in
the CIS, and especially in Central Asia; he noted that Uzbekistan
has also signed the CIS collective security treaty, which amounts
to a mutual defense agreement. A NATO fact-finding mission is
expected in Tashkent on 21 July, and it is will seek specific
areas in which Uzbekistan and NATO can cooperate. The Uzbek
government is reportedly eager to have some of its officer corps
trained in Western Europe, and is also interested in trying to
resolve the conflict along the Tajik-Afghan border. Keith Martin,
RFE/RL Inc.

COSSACK ODYSSEY. A first group of Cossacks from Kazakhstan has
arrived in the Chita region, near Lake Baikal, according to a 12
July ITAR-TASS report; they will settle on a former military
compound near the Russian-Chinese border. The Cossacks stressed
that they did not leave Kazakhstan under pressure, but rather
returned "home". As reported by the newspaper Zabaikalski Rabochi,
the forefathers of the Cossacks now returning lived in the Chita
region, but were forced to flee to China at the end of the Russian
civil war, some 70 years ago; they were branded "class enemies" by
the Bolsheviks. In the 1960s, during the Chinese Cultural
Revolution, the Cossacks again fled, this time to the Soviet
republic of Kazakhstan. The Cossacks hope that with their return
to the Baikal region their long odyssey will finally be over.
Keith Martin, RFE/RL Inc.

                               CIS

CIS CITIZENSHIP PROPOSED. Senior Moldovan officials told the
RFE/RL Research Institute on 13 July that Moldova, along with
other member states of the CIS, has just been sent a proposal for
instituting a common citizenship of the CIS and for vesting the
CIS Parliamentary Assembly with certain "supranational functions."
The proposal and draft documents were forwarded by the CIS
Secretariat. The government and parliament in Chisinau are likely
to respond in low-key fashion that the proposal are incompatible
with Moldova's legislation. Moldova has recently resisted a
parallel proposal by Russia's Foreign Ministry (also aired to
other member states of the CIS) to institute a dual
Moldovan-Russian citizenship.  Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL Inc.

RUSSIAN-MOLDOVAN TRADE: MARKET OR EMPIRE? Reacting toIzvestiya's 8
July story on Russian acquisition of industrial assets in Moldova,
Moldgas chief Boris Carandiuc confirmed to Basapress on 11 July
the signing of an intergovernmental letter of intent for ceding a
substantial portion of Moldgas shares to Russia's state concern
Gazprom. Carandiuc revealed, however, that this and similar deals
in the making were not meant to pay arrears for past Russian fuel
deliveries, but to obtain substantial price cuts to well below
market levels for future deliveries. Such deals would imply
Russia's return to the practice of subsidizing trade with
ex-Soviet republics, leaving Moscow to chose between pro-market
and pro-imperial policies. Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL Inc.

                    CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

LATVIAN PRIME MINISTER ANNOUNCES RESIGNATION. Speaking on Latvian
TV on 13 July, Prime Minister Valdis Birkavs said that on 14 July
he would formally tender his resignation to President Guntis
Ulmanis. It is expected that the entire government will also
resign. This step was recommended earlier that day by Latvia's Way
parliamentary faction, of which Birkavs and 10 of the 13 ministers
are members. The immediate cause of the decision to resign was the
announcement earlier in the week that deputies of the Farmers'
Union had decided to withdraw from the parliamentary coalition
that they had formed 11 months ago with Latvia's Way deputies, and
the subsequent resignation of three FU ministers from the
government. According to the law, the government will continue to
operate until a new government is formed.  Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL
Inc.

BALTIC-TURKISH COOPERATION ACCORDS SIGNED. While visiting Latvia,
Turkish Foreign Minister Hikmet Cetin signed a treaty of
friendship and cooperation between his country and Latvia on 12
July. Cetin also reportedly told Latvian Prime Minister Valdis
Birkavs that Turkey supports expanding NATO to include Estonia,
Latvia, and Lithuania. Cetin's visit to Riga is part of a trip to
all three Baltic States. Cetin signed 7 bilateral treaties with
Lithuania on 11 July. On 13 July Cetin met with Estonian President
Lennart Meri and other Estonian leaders in Tallinn. An accord on
cooperation in culture, education, and sports between Estonia and
Turkey was signed and plans were made for further agreements on
economic cooperation between the two countries, BNS reported on 13
July.  Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL Inc.

SERBS BALK ON PARTITION PLAN. International and Serbian media
report on 14 July that Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic gave a
vague response the previous day to the visiting British and French
foreign ministers about accepting or rejecting the proposal. He
suggested that he might recommend a "no" vote to the Serb
parliament that meets in Pale on 18 July, the same body that
killed the Vance-Owen peace plan last year. Karadzic appeared to
make any acceptance conditional on his "Serbian Republic"
receiving "an international personality like Ukraine in the Soviet
Union," AFP quoted him as saying. President Alija Izetbegovic of
Bosnia-Herzegovina, however, maintains that the plan must preserve
the republic's territorial integrity, knowing full well that
Karadzic and his supporters want to break away and join a greater
Serbia. The Bosnian Serb leader brushed off the British and French
ministers' apocalyptic visions of an expanded war, saying that
"the international community has to fear war more than us, because
we are already at war." Patrick Moore, RFE/RL Inc.

UN READIES SCENARIOS FOR EVACUATING UNPROFOR. In case, however,
that expanded war comes if the Serbs reject the partition plan and
the US and other countries help arm the Muslims as a result, the
UN and individual donor countries are preparing contingency plans
to evacuate UN troops from Bosnia. Drafting such proposals is an
ongoing process, and, while the individual states like Britain
have their own plans, any decision to pull out will probably be
effected by the UN as a whole for all 21,000 personnel. Bosnian
Serb military commander Gen. Ratko Mladic, who had earlier
threatened to "bomb London" if NATO planes attacked his troops,
has again promised retribution if the UN expands the size and
scope of its safe areas and thereby puts his forces at risk. The
Times carried two reports in its 13 July edition. Patrick Moore,
RFE/RL Inc.

CROATIAN GOVERNMENT TRIES AGAIN TO SHUT DOWN A WEEKLY NEWSPAPER.
For at least the third time in several years, the ruling Croatian
Democratic Community (HDZ) is working to put the satirical paper
Feral Tribune out of business. It has the second largest
circulation of any weekly in the republic; the first place goes to
Globus, which is also sharply critical of President Franjo Tudjman
and the HDZ and which has also been the subject of official legal
harassment. The authorities managed to take over the weekly Danas
in 1992 and turn it into a docile mouthpiece of the HDZ, complete
with full-page glossy ads from large firms run by the state or by
HDZ big-wigs. Feral and Globus have, however, proved to be tougher
nuts to crack, and as of 1 July the Ministry of Culture has
classified Feral as pornographic in order to slap a 50% tax on it.
The paper includes excellent photomontages that sometimes test the
boundaries of good taste, but the "pornography" label is clearly
designed to justify a tax that could serve to run the weekly out
of business. The measure was signed by Minster Vesna
Girardi-Jurkic, who fares poorly in public opinion polls. Her
spokesman told Reuters on 13 July: "please don't make a scandal
out of this. . . . There is no censorship in Croatia." Borba and
Vjesnik carry related reports on 14 July.  Patrick Moore, RFE/RL
Inc.

SERBIA UPDATE. On 14 July the rump Yugoslav press reports that
Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic had a meeting with Douglas
Hurd and Alain Juppe the previous day, during which Milosevic said
that the latest peace proposals must take into account the "vital
interests" of all warring parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In
other news, on 14 July Politika runs the headline "Is Dobrica
Cosic Returning to Politics?" Cosic, a famous writer, outspoken
Serbian nationalist, and former president of the rump Yugoslavia
met with international mediators Lord David Owen and Thorwald
Stoltenberg on 11 July, a move which is evidently fueling the
speculation about his possible political aspirations. In other
news, the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO), led by Vuk Draskovic,
has endorsed the most recent international efforts aimed at
bringing peace to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Draskovic avowed his
commitment to the peace process at a 12 July press conference.
Finally, on 13 July Borba reported extensively on Belgrade's new
municipal government, noting it is "again socialist." Stan
Markotich , RFE/RL Inc.

KOSOVO UPDATE. The CSCE Parliamentary Assembly has condemned
police brutality in Kosovo and called for a dialogue "between the
Belgrade authorities and the legitimate representatives of the
Albanians of Kosovo." The assembly also stated that safety of
refugees returning to Kosovo cannot be guaranteed and urged all
CSCE states to accept asylum seekers from Kosovo, Kosova
Communication reported on 11 July. Meanwhile an ethnic Albanian
died in the Pristina hospital on 6 July after he was tortured in
police custody. According to a report published by the local
Council for the Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms, another four
ethnic Albanians died and five were injured as a result of police
violence over the past six months in Pristina. Elsewhere, the
party congress of the Democratic League of Kosovo, which controls
the Kosovar shadow state, is scheduled for 14 July, Rilindja
reported on 8 and 9 July. A new leadership is to be elected at the
congress.  Fabian Schmidt, RFE/RL Inc.

POLISH GOVERNMENT ON 1995 BUDGET. The government discussed the
basic outlines of the 1995 budget on 12 July, Rzeczpospolita
reports, as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Grzegorz
Kolodko continued his efforts to build a public image as a
determined and organized helmsman of economic policy. The finance
ministry predicts GDP growth of 5% for 1995, with inflation
dropping to 16% but unemployment remaining unchanged. The deficit
would be cut to only 3.5% of GDP. Revenues would reportedly rise
as much as 7% in real terms. Initial plans call for a reduction in
income taxes and a return to the pre-1994 brackets of 20%, 30%,
and 40%, but the government may opt to reject this proposal. The
zloty's devaluation would slow from 1.6% per month to about 0.9%.
The average wage would rise 3% in real terms. The cabinet agreed
that planning for the 1995 budget should be coordinated closely
with the "Strategy for Poland" drafted by Kolodko. Louisa Vinton,
RFE/RL Inc.

"STRATEGY"--ECONOMIC PLAN OR WINDOW-DRESSING? Kolodko has in
recent days visited most of the "economic" ministries, at times in
the company of Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak, in an effort both
to discuss the "Strategy for Poland" and, apparently, to assert
his dominant role in policy making. Meanwhile, Poland's leading
economists remain deeply divided over whether Kolodko's
well-publicized "strategy" is in fact a viable long-term economic
program or merely a propagandistic wish list designed to erase the
"Balcerowicz plan" from public memory. In the 12 July issue of
Gazeta Wyborcza, former Privatization Minister Janusz Lewandowski
argued that the "strategy" reflects "wishful thinking" and is
"constructed on the principle: something nice for everyone." The
chairman of the Economic Strategy Council set up at Kolodko's
invitation, Jan Mujzel, complimented the government for drafting
the document. But, after the council's first session on 12 July,
Mujzel warned against glorifying the state's role in promoting
economic growth and proposed a stress on individual enterprise
instead. In an editorial in Rzeczpospolita on 14 July, Dariusz
Rosati, the coalition's initial candidate to fill the posts now
held by Kolodko, suggested that such criticisms are politically
motivated. He called for a broad "proreform" alliance to back the
"strategy" and a moratorium on "political battles and personal
animosities." Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL Inc.

PRIVATIZING "THE CZECH WAY" PUT ON HOLD. At its session on 13
July, the Czech government rejected a plan submitted by Industry
Minister Vladimir Dlouhy and Privatization Minister Jiri Skalicky
to privatize the Czech petrochemical industry, in particular Czech
refineries, with the help of Czech capital. In May, Czech economic
ministers rejected a $520 million investment offer from a Western
consortium interested in privatizing the industry and taking over
the two most profitable refineries. At that time, the ministers
decided in favor of local companies and capital. The decision was
hailed by some politicians as "the Czech way" of privatizing the
industry. However, some politicians criticized "the Czech way" as
preserving the country's dependence on the Soviet petrochemical
industry; some media speculated about Dlouhy, the main advocate of
"the Czech way," and the possibility of his having ties to the
Czech petrochemical industry's lobby. Explaining the rejection of
Dlouhy's and Skalicky's plan on 13 July, Prime Minister Vaclav
Klaus said that the plan was flawed in that it was not a real
privatization scheme; rather, under the plan the state-owned
industry would only be restructured and most of it would remain in
the hands of the state. Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL Inc.

KINKEL IN ROMANIA. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel told a
press conference in Bucharest on 13 July that his country backed
Romania's effort to join NATO and the European Union, an RFE/RL
correspondent in the Romanian capital and Radio Bucharest reported
on the same day. At the same time, Kinkel warned against
"euphoria" and added that the process of expanding NATO eastwards
ought to involve Russia. He said Romania was not forgotten, but
membership in NATO and the EU will not come as quickly as some in
Romania hope. Germany, Kinkel added, was ready to extend help to
Romania, but this must be viewed as aid for "self-help." Kinkel
met with President Iliescu, Premier Nicolae Vacaroiu, Foreign
Minister Teodor Melescanu, and other Romanian officials. In
another development, on 13 July Norwegian Defense Minister Jorgen
Kosmo began a two-day visit to Romania.  Michael Shafir, RFE/RL
Inc.

MOLDOVAN-ROMANIAN FRICTION. The Romanian Foreign Ministry's chief
spokesman, Mircea Geoana, said at a news briefing on 13 July that
in the upcoming governmental talks with Moldova, Romania will
raise the issue of the libel case brought by leaders of Moldova's
ruling Agrarian Democratic Party against a pro-Romanian weekly in
Chisinau. The weekly, which had without evidence accused the
Agrarian leaders of treason and mafia ties, is one of several
pro-Romanian newspapers in Chisinau publicly said by its editors
and by Romanian officials to be financed by the Romanian
government. Geoana also rejected the recent protests of the
Moldovan parliamentary leadership (also Agrarian) against the
grant of Romanian citizenship to individual Moldovan citizens.
Terming Moldova's citizenship law (which virtually precludes dual
citizenship) "restrictive," the spokesman implied that those
Moldovans would merely "regain" their erstwhile Romanian
citizenship (a legal point underlying Romanian claims to
Bessarabia) and vowed that Romania will continue granting its
citizenship to Moldovans who wish it. Radio Bucharest, RFE/RL's
correspondent, and Basapress reported the briefing.  Vladimir
Socor, RFE/RL Inc.

BULGARIA: UDF FACING SPLIT? Bulgarian dailies report on 14 July
that three major member organizations of the Union of Democratic
Forces are currently considering leaving the coalition.
Otechestven vestnik says the right-wing Democratic Party and the
Radical Democratic Party, as well as the centrist Bulgarian
Agrarian National Union "Nikola Petkov," have announced that they
may take a decision to quit the anti-communist alliance over the
next couple of weeks, due to differences with the present
leadership. The UDF mouthpiece Demokratsiya confirms that key
figures in the Democratic Party have already asked to be relieved
of their duties in the coalition, citing dissatisfaction with the
selective parliamentary boycott initiated by the recent 6th
conference of the UDF. Other aspects of the conflict are that the
conference decided to subordinate the parliamentary caucus to the
National Coordinating Council and to purge the coalition from
children of the former communist nomenklatura, plus a
long-standing complaint of the larger parties that the existing
leadership structure gives too much influence to the smaller
partners of the coalition. Also, internal tensions appear to have
been exacerbated by the UDF's bad showing in two recent
by-elections. On 13 July, however, the UDF executive managed to
unite on an appeal to all parliamentary groups to clarify their
positions on the issue of early general elections.  Kjell
Engelbrekt, RFE/RL Inc.

NATO INVITES UKRAINE TO PARTICIPATE IN NAVAL EXERCISES. The
commander of Ukraine's navy, Vice-Admiral Volodymyr Bezkorovainy,
has been officially invited to participate in NATO's naval
exercises in October, Ukrainian television reported on 12 July.
According to the invitation, Bezkorovainy's participation would be
an important step in developing friendly relations between Ukraine
and NATO. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL Inc.

UKRAINIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY DENIES PLOT TO KILL KUCHMA. On 12 July
the Ukrainian defense ministry issued a statement denouncing an
article appearing in the Russian newspaper Segodnya which alleged
that the ministry was involved in a plot to assassinate Leonid
Kuchma in the event of his election as president, Ukrainian
television reported. The article contained a copy of a secret
document supposedly passed on by the head of military
intelligence, Maj. Gen. Oleksandr Skipalsky, to the
Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine's armed forces, President Leonid
Kravchuk. The document refers to a plan to assassinate Leonid
Kuchma if he became elected president because of his pro-Russian
views. The press service of the Ukrainian defense ministry said
the existence of any such document was false and the article was a
provocation meant to discredit officials in Ukraine's defense
ministry. Segodnya has published several articles regarding
Ukrainian troops in Crimea and the Black Sea Fleet which have been
denounced as provacative, sensational and inaccurate by Ukraine's
defense ministry. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL Inc.

SLOVAK POLICE ARREST 40 ALBANIANS PACKED INTO TWO CARS. The "silly
season" has come early this year to the world of European
journalism, and once again Albanians seem to have set some sort of
record of a dubious nature. Reuters reported from Bratislava on 12
July that police arrested 40 Albanians for illegal entry into the
country and for breaking safety regulations. The press reports did
not specify what kind of vehicles the Albanians had, but noted
that half of the passengers were under 18 years of age and that
the arrests took place near Dukla by the Polish border. The
Guinness Book of Records, however, reports that the prize goes to
46 people, who once managed to ride a single motorcycle.  Patrick
Moore, RFE/RL Inc.

  [As of 1200 CET]
  Compiled by Ustina Markus and Stan Markotich,
  RFE/RL Inc.
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