|Имей сердце, имей душу, и будешь человек во всякое время. - Д. И. Фонвизин|
No. 147, 4 August 1994
RUSSIA YELTSIN APPROVES LIMITED PENSION INCREASE. Rejecting parliamentary pressure for a far more substantial increase, Russian President Boris Yeltsin approved a 15% rise in pensions in a decree signed on 3 August, ITAR-TASS reports. The State Duma had ignored government objections and voted in favor of a 40% pension increase on 14 July. The Federation Council had boosted this to 50% later in July, despite warnings from the Finance Ministry that funds to finance the increase would have to be shifted from other urgent budgetary needs. Some deputies also argued that a major increase would remain only on paper. Explaining his decision, Yeltsin argued that the parliament's proposals were too extravagant for a country attempting to keep its budget deficit in check. The 15% increase, effective as of 1 August, is consistent with the government's initial proposal to the parliament. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. MMM STANDOFF CONTINUES. The mastermind behind the crumbling MMM investment scheme, Sergei Mavrodi, failed to appear at a meeting on 3 August requested by finance, anti-monopoly, and tax officials. Mavrodi instead sent a lawyer, who was not admitted to the meeting because he lacked formal authorization to represent MMM. Government officials continued to pursue their kid-gloves approach, pressing for full financial disclosure rather than threatening to shut down the firm outright. "We still insist MMM register all of its shareholders and announce the value of its assets," Deputy Finance Minister Andrei Vavilov told journalists after the plans for a meeting were abandoned. A Finance Ministry statement issued on 3 August warned that the issue of new share certificates by MMM is "absolutely illegal" and "violates the legal rights and interests of citizens." The certificates have not been registered, as is required by law. An official from the tax office told Interfax on 2 August that an audit of an MMM subsidiary, Invest-Consulting, had revealed massive and systematic tax evasion for which it had been slapped with a bill for 49 billion rubles ($24 million) in back taxes. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. CHERNOMYRDIN: INTEREST RATES TO DROP STEADILY. According to a Reuters report on 3 August, Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin intends to steer government economic policy in such a way as to permit annual lending rates to fall to 110-120% by the end of 1994. The Central Bank cut its discount rate from 155% to 150% on 31 July, Interfax reported the same day. This was the sixth rate cut since April 1994, the report said; at the beginning of June, the prime lending rate still stood at 200%. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. SITUATION IN CHECHNYA: ROUNDUP. Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev said on 3 August that he was ready to meet the Russian leadership for talks on the status of his breakaway republic. Dudaev's proposal for negotiations was, however, rejected by Moscow. The chief of the presidential administration, Sergei Filatov, told an RFE/RL correspondent in Moscow on 3 August that a meeting between Dudaev and Yeltsin was unlikely at this stage. Moscow is now supporting the Chechen's opposition Provisional Council, whose leader on 2 August said that the Council was now in control in Chechnya. In an interview with AFP on 3 August, Dudaev rejected the validity of this statement. Indeed, Russian and Western media reported on 3 August that the Chechen capital of Groznyi was calm and there were no signs that Dudaev had lost power. Vera Tolz, RFE/RL, Inc. MOSCOW ICES RELATIONS WITH BOSNIAN SERBS, BACKS MILOSEVIC. Interfax and AFP reported on 3 August that Moscow has officially "frozen" relations with the Bosnian Serbs in a bid to pressure them into accepting the latest international community's peace plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina, which would effectively assign them 49% of the country. Meanwhile, Moscow has also fully endorsed the Serbian government's announcement on 2 August that Belgrade may sever relations with the Bosnian Serbs if they continue to reject the peace offer. According to one unnamed Russian diplomatic source, the recent pronouncements by Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and the Serbian government indicate that "Belgrade intends to put an end to the blood bath in the Balkans and break its international isolation." Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIAN-IRAQI OIL AGREEMENT? On 3 August Interfax reported that Moscow and Baghdad agreed that Russia would begin work on developing and updating Iraqi oil fields without waiting for the lifting of international sanctions against Iraq. An official from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations reportedly told Interfax that Russian oil workers will start work at three major oil fields in Iraq and that the project was projected to cost $2.3 billion. Further information on the project was not available, nor have other news sources carried the story. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. ON LIFTING SANCTIONS AGAINST BAGHDAD. Moscow continues to urge a softer policy on the lifting of UN sanctions against Iraq. On 3 August Interfax quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Kolokolov as saying that the gradual lifting of sanctions against Iraq depends upon Baghdad's willingness to cooperate with the UN commission for disarming Iraq and upon Iraq's general compliance with the basic demands of the world community, including Baghdad's recognition of Kuwait's independence and its UN demarcated border. Kolokolov argued, however, that the Iraqi side "cooperates with the UN commission willingly enough" and that "while some of our Security Council partners, such as the US, are categorically against the lifting of sanctions, we say that such a possibility should be considered." Kolokolov seemed to offer a narrow interpretation of the relevant UN resolution to argue that Baghdad's compliance with its disarmament provisions should result in a lifting of the oil embargo on Iraq. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. SOUTH KOREA CONSIDERING WEAPONS FOR DEBT DEAL. Reuters reported on 4 August that South Korea is negotiating with Russia on accepting military hardware as partial repayment for some $1.47 billion in loans that Seoul granted to the USSR in 1992. According to a South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman, Russia provided a list of weapons that it is willing to supply, but South Korean "government policy-makers have yet to decide as to how much and what to take in order to resolve the debt problem." He said that the government had ruled out the purchase "of any weapons requiring many parts for servicing, such as fighters or tanks." In January 1994 there were reports that South Korea, which buys the bulk of its military hardware from the US, had refused a Russian offer to exchange arms for debts. Russia's chronic inability to meet its debt payments to South Korea may, however, have induced Seoul to reconsider its position. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. LEBED TO BE REMOVED? A commission of senior officers from Russia's Defense Ministry, headed by First Deputy Chief of Staff, Col.-General Eduard Vorobev, arrived in Tiraspol on 2 August. Participants in discussions with the commission, including "Dniester" army inspector Maj.-General Stepan Kitsak, Russian 14th Army's commandant in the city of Tiraspol Colonel Mikhail Bergman, and officers from that Army's headquarters told Basapress on 3 August that 14th Army Commander Lt.-General Aleksandr Lebed, now on leave in Moscow, will be removed from his post shortly. The sources attributed the decision to Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev's displeasure with Lebed's repeated criticism of him in the Russian media and to "Dniester republic" President Igor Smirnov's insistent requests to the Russian Defense Ministry to penalize Lebed for attacking him and the entire "Dniester" leadership as corrupt and extremist. Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIANS MOURN ACTOR SMOKTUNOVSKY. On 3 August Russian TV news opened with an obituary of actor Innokentii Smoktunovsky, who died of a heart attack at the age of 69. Believed by many to have been Russia's greatest contemporary actor, Smoktunovsky gained national fame in the early 1960s while performing Hamlet in Grigorii Kozintsev's film based on William Shakespeare's play and Prince Myshkin in the adaptation of Dostoevsky's novel, The Idiot, in the Leningrad Bolshoi Drama Theater. The priority given to the death of an actor appears unprecedented for the Russian broadcasting media; it may indicate public disappointment with social and political issues and the return to traditional respect for cultural values. It is thus possible that Smoktunovsky's funeral on 6 August may turn into a day of national mourning. Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA GEORGIAN OPPOSITION INTENT ON TOPPLING SHEVARDNADZE. Georgian opposition deputies have collected the 60 signatures needed to convene an emergency parliamentary session to debate the removal of Eduard Shevardnadze from the posts of parliament chairman and head of state, Interfax reported. On 1 August, Irakli Tsereteli, head of the radical National Independence Party, ended a three week hunger strike to demand Shevardnadze's resignation, reportedly after receiving assurances that the emergency parliament session would take place on 11 August. Possibly in response to Tsereteli's demand for the release of all Georgian political prisoners, Shevardnadze instructed the heads of Georgian law enforcement agencies to review within one month the cases of all persons claiming to be political prisoners, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 July. The conclusions reached by the law enforcement agencies will be passed to the head of state who will then inform parliament. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. INDIA TO GRANT $20 MILLION CREDIT TO UZBEKISTAN. India will open the first of two $10 million credit lines to Uzbekistan to finance joint ventures in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, tableware, and packing materials, India's Ambassador in Tashkent, Dalip Mehta, told Interfax on 3 August. The funds will be available for a 9-year period at an annual rate of 7.5%; the second credit line will be opened only when the first has been exhausted. Ten Indian-Uzbek joint ventures have been registered to date. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. AZERBAIJAN'S OIL, GAS PRODUCTION FALLING. Having come close to fulfilling its target for the first six months of this year, Azerbaijan's state oil company produced only 830,500 tons of crude in July, which is 9% below target, Interfax reported. Gas production in July of 511.8 million cubic meters was 27.5% below the anticipated level. Total gas production for the first six months of 1994 was 14.8% below target and 11.1% lower than in the corresponding period in 1993. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN SERBS STALL FOR TIME. International media reported on 3 August that the Bosnian Serb parliament meeting in Pale voted to put the latest peace plan to a popular vote on 27 and 28 August. The outcome seems a foregone conclusion, since some 96% of the electorate turned down the Vance-Owen plan last year and since voters are constantly bombarded with nationalist propaganda reflecting their leaders' views. Radovan Karadzic was quoted by Reuters as saying that, if Serbia makes good on its threat to cut all support to the Bosnian Serbs, "not even a bird will be allowed to cross" the frontier. The Bosnian Serb leader added that "we have to decide [ourselves] on our destiny." Many observers have noted over the years the circle-the-wagons mentality of Serbian nationalism, and the BBC said that the Bosnian Serbs fought their best when they felt they had their "backs to the wall." Reuters quoted one woman as saying that "all of us are going to get killed anyway, so why live with [the Muslims] whey they kill us and slit our throats. It's better that we were all dead." Elsewhere, in another move apparently designed to stall for time, Karadzic invited Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic for one-on-one talks. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. MILOSEVIC FOR THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE? This is how one critical, not to say sarcastic, commentator in today's Borba reacted to Milosevic's admonitions of 31 July and 2 August to Bosnian Serb leaders to accept the plan. The author, Gordana Susa, points out some legal and other ambiguities in Milosevic's supposed pleas for peace, which again raises the question as to whether there actually are real differences--and if so over what?--between Belgrade and Pale, and for whose consumption the present public exercise is intended. Die Welt on 3 August asked whether "the 'good' Serb Milosevic" would follow up his tough talk against Karadzic with deeds, while the BBC pointed out that Milosevic used a similar tactic last year. It might be recalled that the Bosnian and Croatian Serbs are totally dependent on Serbia for supplies. It might also be noted that the former Yugoslavia, together with the USSR and Hungary, was a world per capita leader in producing chess grand masters. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. SOME FEAR "A LOOMING SHOWDOWN" IN BOSNIA. This is the observation of the 4 August Los Angeles Times, which points out that Bosnian Serb gunners may yet make good on their earlier threats to take back heavy weapons now under UN supervision. Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic is not optimistic, and he told the 3 August Philadelphia Inquirer that "if the West appeases the Serbs again, the peace process is gone forever. No one will believe a word they say after that. The only thing we can do now is fight a low-grade war." His boss, Izetbegovic, already wrote on 2 August to the UN secretary general to prevent possible fresh Serb attacks on the Gorazde enclave, AFP said. A UN spokesman admitted that the Serbs were moving big guns "in and out" of the area. Finally, The Wall Street Journal argues that the UN might have to withdraw from Bosnia to enable the Muslims and Croats, properly rearmed, to remove the Serbs from their conquests: "they will only give up this land when someone throws them off of it." Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. THREE PRESIDENTS MEET IN SLOVENIA. RFE/RL's South Slavic Language Service reported on 3 August that Czech President Vaclav Havel, his Hungarian counterpart Arpad Goncz, and their host Slovenia's Milan Kucan met in Kobarid while on vacation. They reportedly discussed the upcoming Central European summit scheduled for 21-22 August in Alpbach, Austria. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. GYPSIES MARK BIRKENAU SLAUGHTER. Some 3,000 Gypsies from Poland, Ukraine, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Germany, and other countries gathered at the site of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp on 3 August, Gazeta Wyborcza reports. The gathering was held to mark the 50th anniversary of the Nazi extermination on 2 and 3 August 1944 of the remaining Gypsies at the camp. An estimated 21,000 Romas perished at Auschwitz-Birkenau alone; a total of 500,000 were killed in executions, labor camps, and gas chambers during World War II. Polish Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak presided over the ceremonies on 3 August; the German and Israeli ambassadors also attended. In a letter read out by a representative, President Lech Walesa said that "the tragedy of the Gypsies is our common tragedy." Walesa acknowledged that the Nazi genocide against the Romas had long been a "forgotten Holocaust;" for that reason it required new attention. The Polish president expressed the hope that "our Republic will also be a friendly homeland for the Romas." Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. CZECH GOVERNMENT APPROVES NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS BILL. On 3 August CTK reported that the Czech government had approved a long-debated draft law on non-profit organizations. The bill says that the profits of a non-profit organization must be reinvested in the organization's activities. Non-profit organizations would be freed from paying some types of taxes and would be given a partial income tax relief. The bill has to be approved by the parliament. An earlier draft had been returned to the ministry of finance for amending on 13 July. President Vaclav Havel has long demanded a law on non-profit organizations, arguing that such a law would help forge civil society in the Czech Republic. Premier Vaclav Klaus has been skeptical about making distinctions between non-profit organizations and organizations working for profit. Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAK COALITION COUNCIL ON PRIVATIZATION. During a 3 August session of the Slovak coalition council, it was decided that a special meeting of the Slovak parliament will be held this month for the sole purpose of discussing a draft law requiring Slovaks who are participating in the privatization process to disclose the source of their funds, TASR and CTK report. Deputy Premier Ivan Simko said that the 30 signatures of parliamentary deputies needed to hold the session would be soon collected, and the session should be held within 7 days. The bill on privatization was approved by the cabinet in July, but Slovak deputies voted to let the population decide in a referendum whether investors must disclose the source of their funds. The special parliamentary session will be held to avoid a referendum, which would cost more than 100 million koruny. The government also wants the legislation to be passed quickly in order to avoid extra costs. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAKIA DENIES EXPORTING ARMS TO YUGOSLAVIA. Slovaks have reacted angrily to an article recently published in the Washington Times, which names Slovakia as the third biggest exporter of arms to former Yugoslavia, after the former Soviet Union and Germany. The article said that between April 1993 and April 1994 Slovakia exported arms worth $170 million to the area (including $100 million in arms to Serbia, $60 million to Croatia and $10 million to Bosnia), in violation of the UN embargo. On 3 August the Slovak Economy Ministry issued a statement saying that "from April 1992 to April 1994 the export of arms and military hardware from Slovakia totaled $4 million." According to the ministry's Arms Production Department, Slovakia exported arms and military material worth only $3 million to former Yugoslavia, all of which was earmarked for UNPROFOR, TASR reported. Slovak Defense Minister Pavol Kanis also criticized the Washington Times report. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. US GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS HOLD TALKS IN HUNGARY. On 3 August a delegation of top US officials led by Richard Schifter, head of the National Security Council's Central East European section, began talks on Hungary's present economic situation with Finance Minister Laszlo Bekesi, Labor Minister Magda Kovacs Kosa, and Industry and Trade Minister Laszlo Pal, MTI reported. Bekesi asked for US government assistance in ensuring the capital investments needed for Hungary's modernization (only a modest $500 million in foreign capital flowed in during the first half of 1994) and in providing access to Western markets for Hungarian products. The US officials offered help in the privatization of small enterprises, the reform of social insurance, unemployment crisis management and the betterment of marketing. Alfred Reisch, RFE/RL, Inc. PREMIER, FOREIGN MINISTER ADDRESS HUNGARIAN DIPLOMATS. Prime Minister Gyula Horn and Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs on 3 August outlined the new government's foreign policy objectives to Hungary's top diplomats, MTI announced. Horn singled out the upgrading of economic diplomacy as one of the most important tasks while Kovacs stressed the need for professionalism and the avoidance of party politics in the foreign service. The foreign ministry must enhance its coordinating role between various ministries, and foreign trade offices in various capital cities should be integrated with Hungary's embassies there. Changes will take place at the head of 22 foreign missions; the new mission heads will not include a single political appointee. Kovacs said he did not consider "hopeless" the making, through the parliamentary foreign relations committee, of a six-party consensus on the issue of bilateral treaties with neighboring countries. Alfred Reisch, RFE/RL, Inc. ROMANIAN MINERS' STRIKE UPDATE. Talks were conducted in Targu Jiu between Minister of Industries Dumitru Popescu and representatives of the striking miners on 3 August. The two sides reached agreement on most points, Radio Bucharest announced on the same day. Popescu said he had a full mandate from the government to negotiate the ending of the labor conflict. He did not agree, however, to the miners' demand to dismiss the director general of the mining company and to receive an increased bonus paid on Miners' Day. The striking miners in the Deva region are also awaiting the arrival of a negotiating team representing the government. Meanwhile, more copper miners barricaded themselves in the pits and two of the hunger-strikers had to be taken to hospital. Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc. UNITY OF DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION OF ROMANIA UNCERTAIN. Representatives of the parties and grass-root organizations that make up the Democratic Convention of Romania, the main umbrella organization of the opposition, discussed on 3 August common strategies for the 1996 general and presidential elections. In a press release broadcast over Radio Bucharest, the DCR said it was agreed to field a single, common candidate in the presidential elections; to work out a hierarchy for the member parties reflecting each party's influence in the country for the common lists in the elections for parliament; and to either rotate or establish by consensus the leadership in county DCR structures. Most of these proposals reflect the views of the strongest party in the convention, the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic. They were opposed in the past by the Party of Civic Alliance. Most participants signed a protocol that set up the date of 15 August as deadline for all members of the convention to either join the agreement or withdraw from the DCR. The representative of the PCA said he had no mandate to sign, and his party would decide whether to do so later or withdraw from the alliance. Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc. MOLDOVAN REACTIONS TO ROMANIAN DENUNCIATIONS. Awaiting a statement from their government, Moldovan politicians reacted on 2 August via Basapress to the Romanian government's 1 August vitriolic attack on Moldova's parliament and new constitution (see RFE/RL Daily Report, 2 August). Dumitru Diacov, chairman of the Parliament's Foreign Affairs Commission, said that "the Romanian government's statement will burden and damage our relations . . . The statement implies that the Romanian government will work only with the forces which support [Moldovan-Romanian] unification . . . Such an approach to relations with us is tendentious and ignores our realities." Social-Democrat Party Chairman Oazu Nantoi said that "there is nothing left to damage in our relations. The statement probably formalizes the true state of affairs in the relations between Bucharest and Chisinau." Popular Front Chairman and pro-Romanian leader Iurie Rosca, however, praised the Romanian government for the "accurate and correct statement" but implied that Romania had erred in recognizing Moldova's independence in 1991. Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. BULGARIA TO PRIVATIZE STATE TOUR OPERATOR. Financial Times reports on 4 August that the Bulgarian government intends to sell off the country's major tour operator, Balkantourist. A top official of the government Committee on Tourism told the paper that 51% of the company is to be offered to a single buyer, while the rest will be divided between smaller investors and, up to 20%, the company employees. Besides large West European operators such as British Inghams, German TUI, and others, a few local competitors have also expressed interest. These include Multigroup, Tron, Turistsport Holding, and Bulvar Holidays. Meanwhile, 1994 is proving to be a unusually good year for Bulgarian holiday resorts. By 31 July over 100,000 tourists had visited the Sunny Beach sea resort, against 105,000 during the entire season in 1993. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc. LUKASHENKA SAYS BELARUS NOT READY FOR MONETARY UNION. Following his 3 August meeting with the Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka announced that the two sides had agreed that Belarus was not ready for monetary union with Russia, various agencies reported. During his election campaign Lukashenka had been a strong advocate of the monetary union and opposed market reforms. Since his election, however, Lukashenka's policies have been market-oriented. He has freed the price of vodka and plans to abolish subsidies on other staples including meat and bread. As for the monetary union, Lukashenka pointed out that Belarus's inflation runs at over 40% per month while Russia's is only 5%, making monetary union unrealistic until the country's inflation rate is reduced to the Russian level. In addition, it has been frequently reported that there is opposition to ceding control of Belarus's currency emission and monetary policy to Russia. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. KUCHMA ON US AID TO UKRAINE. During US Vice President Albert Gore's visit to Ukraine, the Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma voiced dissatisfaction with the slow pace in which the US was dispensing promised disarmament-related aid, various agencies reported on 3 August. According to Kuchma, Ukraine has only received $6 million of the $350 million promised to help the country disarm. At a press conference in Washington, the undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, Lynn Davis, conceded that the US had been slow in getting money to Ukraine and said it would try to speed up the aid, although she also noted that part of the reason for the delay was Ukraine's protracted debates on signing disarmament treaties. At this time Ukraine is three months ahead of schedule in dismantling and removing the nuclear weapons on its territory. Some 300 warheads have already been transferred to Russia and more than half of the country's ICBM's have been deactivated. During Gore's visit, the two sides signed twelve agreements mostly related to dispensing US aid to Ukraine for economic reforms. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. US TO ALLOT $7 MILLION FOR SKRUNDA DISMANTLING. The Latvian President Office's Press Center informed BNS on 3 August that President Bill Clinton in a letter to Guntis Ulmanis had promised to allot $7 million for the dismantling of the new unfinished building at the Russian radar station at Skrunda. In line with the Russian-Latvian troop withdrawal agreement signed on 30 April, Latvia took control of the building on 4 May and decided that it should be torn down. In his letter, Clinton expressed the hope that the dismantling could begin as soon as possible. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. LITHUANIAN ECONOMIC REFERENDUM. The last three-hour meeting of the Chief Elections Commission (CEC) indicated that there were major problems in the preparations for the economic referendum to be held in Lithuania on 27 August, the RFE/RL Lithuanian Service reported on 3 August. In many raions it has been very difficult to find people willing to serve as election commission chairmen, and in Alytus, for example, the commission has not yet been formed. CEC chairman Zenonas Vaigauskas wants the referendum ballot to include the full newspaper page sized text with separate votes for its eight main points. The referendum initiators, however, believe that separate votes would only cause confusion. Since the ruling Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party that opposes the referendum has a majority in the CEC, it appears likely that they will support Vaigauskas's position at the next CEC meeting on 11 August. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Saulius Girnius and Dan Ionescu RFE/RL RESEARCH INSTITUTE TO CLOSE; NEW INSTITUTE FOUNDED The RFE/RL Research Institute will close at the end of 1994. A new research institute, to be based in Prague in the Czech Republic, will begin operations in October 1994. This new research organization, the Open Media Research Institute (OMRI), is the result of a unique initiative involving the United States Board for International Broadcasting (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's government oversight and funding agency and the Open Society Institute (a Soros Foundation). It will publish a weekly analytic journal and a daily digest of events in the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and selected other countries; provide current analyses and information to RFE/RL broadcasters and others; and undertake, as custodian, the preservation and automation of the RFE/RL archives to make them more accessible to the scholarly community. It will engage in training and other activities in support of democracy and independent media throughout Eastern Europe and the territory of the former Soviet Union. The closure of the RFE/RL Research Institute is part of the reordering of American national priorities after the end of the Cold War. It is a result of the United States International Broadcasting Act of 1994, which mandated a consolidation of all US-funded international broadcasting activities, a drastic reduction in the RFE/RL budget, and the privatization of some RFE/RL operations, including those of the Research Institute. In response to the new law, the Board for International Broadcasting and the Board of Directors of RFE/RL Inc. directed the closure of the Research Institute by 31 December 1994. The institute's weekly RFE/RL Research Report and the RFE/RL Research Bulletin will cease to be published at the end of August 1994. RFE/RL intends to continue publication of the RFE/RL Daily Report until such time as OMRI can begin its daily digest. The RFE/RL Research Institute was established in late 1990, incorporating and building on the operations of several RFE and RL research units. The institute's publications have included the RFE/RL Research Report, the RFE/RL Research Bulletin, the RFE/RL Daily Report, and the RFE/RL Research Studies series. In addition, the institute has issued monitoring bulletins of Eastern broadcasts and the press. It has conducted opinion and audience research in the region, and its extensive press and samizdat archives have been available to scholars. The RFE/RL Research Institute's purpose has been to strengthen broadcasting of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and contribute to an informed understanding by governments, scholars, journalists, and others of the complicated postcommunist transition in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. We are grateful to our many readers and other friends of the RFE/RL Research Institute and its precursors for their interest, encouragement, and support over many years. Kevin Klose, President, RFE/RL Inc. A. Ross Johnson, Director, RFE/RL Research Institute 1 August 1994 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. RFE/RL NEWS BRIEFS, an edited compendium of items first published in the Daily Report, is distributed along with the RFE/RL RESEARCH REPORT, a weekly journal providing topical analyses of political, economic and security developments throughout the Institute's area of interest. Longer analyses are available in a monograph series, RFE/RL STUDIES, and brief analytic summaries appear monthly in the RESEARCH BULLETIN. 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