|Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened. - Sir Winston Churchill|
No. 149, 8 August 1994
RUSSIA SITUATION IN CHECHNYA. Three Chechen security officers were killed in a clash on 6 August between troops loyal to President Dzhokhar Dudaev and the opposition in the opposition-controlled Nadterechnyi region of Chechnya, Interfax reported on 7 August. A Chechen opposition spokesman in Moscow said the number of security officers killed was in fact higher. Dudaev's government responded by warning armed opposition groups of "tough actions" if they do not surrender their arms. On 7 August, Chechen Parliament chairman Ahyad Idigov issued a statement urging Chechens "to prevent a political split in society" that, he said, could cause Chechnya "to lose its sovereignty, and lead to war in the Caucasus." Idigov blamed Moscow, which supports the opposition forces in Chechnya, for rising tensions in the break-away republic. He claimed that the situation in Chechnya was "on the whole controlled" by Dudaev. Meanwhile, on 6 August, a spokesman for the Russian Interior Ministry's Criminal Investigation Department told Interfax that criminals were hiding from Russian justice in Chechnya. Vera Tolz, RFE/RL, Inc. MOSCOW CAUTIOUS ABOUT AIRSTRIKES AGAINST BOSNIAN SERB TARGETS. On 5 and 6 August, Russian news agencies reported on official Moscow reactions to the NATO air attacks of 5 August against Bosnian Serb targets around Sarajevo, conducted in response to the Bosnian Serbs' seizure of UN-supervised heavy artillery. According to ITAR-TASS on 5 August, initial reaction was far from overwhelmingly supportive, with an official foreign ministry statement dubbing the NATO airstrikes "an outburst" and describing them as a potential setback to the peace process in Bosnia and Herzegovina. By the following day, ITAR-TASS reported that foreign ministry officials did concede, however, that the Bosnian Serbs themselves had "give[n] grounds" for the airstrikes. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. MMM SHAREHOLDERS DECLARE HUNGER STRIKE. The hot summer weekend of 6 and 7 August, according to the Russian TV newscast, "Vesti," was used by shareholders of the pyramid investment fund, MMM, to organize meetings and pickets to protest the government crack-down on MMM. The shareholders demand compensation for the price of their shares on 28 July--the day of the governmental announcement of the MMM scheme status. Some shareholders even went so far as to start a hunger strike on 7 August to add force to their demands. The government responded by confiscating billions of rubles in cash from MMM, which appears rather illogical, given that the charges filed against the MMM president, Sergei Mavrodi, ostensibly have nothing to do with MMM but with another firm of his. "Vesti" cited the MMM shareholders as terming the scandal as "yet another robbery [of law-abiding Russian citizens] by the state." Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL, Inc. VIOLENCE IN VLADIVOSTOK CONTINUES. The Ostankino Television weekly review of Sunday 7 August aired an unusually large report depicting the systematic harassment by the authorities of Primorsky Krai in the Russian Far East of supporters of the democratically-elected mayor of Vladivostok, Viktor Cherepkov. (Cherepkov was removed from his office in March by Evgenii Nazdratenko, who had not been elected but appointed the governor of Primorsky Krai by Yeltsin.) According to the TV report, opponents of Nazdratenko, in particular local journalists, have been kidnapped, tortured and beaten up. As a result, as many as twelve local editors, the Sunday anchor revealed, had asked for political asylum in the US. Furthermore, the former mayor Cherepkov was abducted, beaten up and strangled almost to death with a plastic bag. Cherepkov's deputy, Vladimir Gildenberg, who had been reinstated to the post by a court, was not allowed to enter his office but was instead beaten up by police guards and was hospitalized with concussion. Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL, Inc. SIT-IN STRIKE AT RUSSIAN NUCLEAR POWER STATIONS. Workers and engineers at Russian nuclear power stations, who have not been paid their wages for months, have announced a "wild' strike, Ostankino television reported on 6 August. After the daily shift the operators of nuclear power stations in Smolensk and the Kola peninsula refused to leave their work places until they receive their wages and customers pay their electricity bills. The nuclear operators chose the "sit-in" form of protest because normal strikes are forbidden in the nuclear industry. According to Ostankino television, workers at at least seven other nuclear stations support their colleagues in Smolensk and have likewise organized "sit-in" strikes. The Minister for Atomic Energy, Viktor Mikhailov said that he will fly to Smolensk to solve the problem of non-payment of wages and to prevent chaos in the Russian nuclear power station network Victor Yasmann, RFE/RL, Inc. CHINA TO STEP UP PURCHASES OF RUSSIAN MILITARY HARDWARE? The latest edition of the Hong Kong-based monthly magazine Mirror says that China intends to buy some $5 billion worth of Russian military hardware and technology as part of a broader plan to streamline its armed forces, AFP reported on 4 August. According to the magazine, China's State Council has already approved a plan to import Russian jet fighters, production facilities for battle tanks, and anti-missile systems. The AFP report provided no other details of the planned acquisitions, nor did it specify the number of years over which they would be spread. The $5 billion figure, if true, would nevertheless be significant; estimates of the value of Russia's total arms exports in 1993, for example, have generally been in the area of $2 billion. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. LATEST ON RUSSIAN-SOUTH KOREA ARMS FOR DEBT PROPOSAL. ITAR-TASS, quoting the YONHAP news agency, reported on 5 August that Seoul has agreed to accept Russian arms as partial repayment for debts owed to South Korea, but the same source suggested that the deal would involve less than half of Russia's total debt, which is estimated at approximately $1.4 billion. Negotiations on resolving the debt problem were said to be continuing. South Korea has been reticent to purchase Russian military hardware because it is incompatible with the Western systems that currently comprise the bulk of South Korea's armaments. There have been reports, however, that because rival North Korea has long been supplied by Moscow, Seoul is interested in acquiring some Russian armaments in order study their capabilities. YONHAP reported that MiG-29 aircraft and S-300 air defense missile systems were among the possible acquisitions being discussed. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. PACIFIC FLEET COMMANDER NAMED. Vice Admiral Igor Khmelnov, 49 years old, has been appointed commander of Russia's troubled Pacific Fleet, Interfax reported on 5 August. Khmelnov has been serving as acting fleet commander since the dismissal in May of Admiral Georgii Gurinov. A number of reports have suggested that Gurinov was a popular and effective commander and that his dismissal, ostensibly for mismanagement of the fleet, may in fact have been politically motivated. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. CIS LEBED IMPLIES YELTSIN RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS REMOVAL. In a brief interview in Izvestiya of 5 August, Lt.-General Aleksandr Lebed, who has apparently been forced out of the command of Russia's 14th Army in connection with its restructuring, indirectly blamed his removal on Yeltsin and his circle. "One sees an analogy here. When they were unable to get rid of Gorbachev, they pulled the country [USSR] from under him. From under me they pulled the army." Lebed has a long record of making inflammatory statements with impunity, most recently terming Yeltsin (along with several other top politicians) "a minus", and signalling his intention to run for President of Russia. An accompanying commentary in the same newspaper, terming Lebed "a personality carrying a certain weight in Russia's political life" and "a very authoritative figure to Russian public opinion," concludes that it may have been "a serious mistake by the President and his entourage" to make a political martyr out of Lebed. Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA CENTRAL ASIANS DISCUSS INTEGRATION. The prime ministers of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan met on 5 August to discuss the further integration of the economies of the three countries under the Economic Union set up in January, ITAR-TASS reported. Kazakhstan's Prime Minister Sergei Tereshchenko was quoted as telling journalists that he and his colleagues had confirmed an earlier decision to create a Central Asian Bank and had named a president for it. An interstate council is to coordinate the work of economic departments in the three countries. Tereshchenko's colleague from Uzbekistan, Abdulhashim Mutalov, noted the need to bring laws on economic matters in the three countries in line with each other. Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc. NOMINATIONS FOR TAJIK PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. Tajik and Russian news agencies reported on 6 and 7 August that two candidates have been nominated for the post of president of Tajikistan. The election is to be held on 25 September--the same day as a referendum to give popular confirmation to a parliamentary decision to restore the presidency, abolished at the end of 1992. The first candidate to be nominated was Imomali Rakhmonov, parliament chairman and Tajikistan's present head of state, who was nominated by the Union of Youth (descendant of the Komsomol) and the council of Khatlon Oblast (Rakhmonov is a native of Khatlon). Former Prime Minister Abdumalik Adullodzhonov was nominated by the council of his native Leninabad Oblast. Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc. BAKU OIL WORKERS CALL OFF STRIKE. Workers at two Baku oil enterprises have suspended their protest strike until 11 August following a commitment by Prime Minister Suret Huseinov to meet their demands, including the payment of back wages, according to Interfax of 5 August. Meeting on 4 August, the Azerbaijan Cabinet of Ministers instructed district executive committees in Baku to supply the oil workers with foodstuffs on credit. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE NATO PLANES STRIKE SERB TARGET. International media reported on 6 August that NATO aircraft the previous night hit an isolated Bosnian Serb position away from civilians. The move was prompted by the Serbs' removal of five heavy weapons from UN supervision, which followed a series of what US Secretary of State Warren Christopher had called "provocations." These included moving heavy weapons in and out of exclusion zones and launching sniper attacks in Sarajevo. Following the air strike the Serbs quickly returned the weapons. The UN has also begun counterattacks against the snipers, who had put the restored Sarajevo trams out of operation. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. MILOSEVIC BACKED BY DOMESTIC MEDIA. On 7 August Reuters reported that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's recent public break with the Bosnian Serb leadership is being supported by a concerted media campaign, which is evidently being used to depict the controversial Serbian president as a sincere man of peace and to recast his apparent main rival, Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, as the source of all problems in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Serbian state media, under Milosevic's control, have had a history of backing Karadzic's policies and actions, but recently have swung firmly behind Milosevic's seeming peace efforts in what appears to be a bid to garner public backing for Milosevic's new policy. The state news agency Tanjug, for instance, has endorsed Milosevic's breaking of political and economic ties with the Bosnian Serbs by observing that such a move was made necessary by Karadzic's "inconsistent and frivolous" leadership. In related news, on 8 August The Los Angeles Times observes that Belgrade has interfered with Bosnian Serb media access, noting "The relay of [television] broadcasts from Pale, the Bosnian Serb stronghold . . . [has been] stopped." Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. KARADZIC ORDERS MOBILIZATION. News agencies on 6 August quoted Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic as saying that he cannot understand Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's decision to close their common border. Announcing that "only God is with us," Karadzic launched plans for a total mobilization of the Bosnian Serb population, while his government is expected to be reorganized shortly. The BBC said on 7 August that Milosevic intends "to bring Karadzic to his knees," and noted that Serbian electronic media have avoided mentioning the increased hardship the Bosnian Serbs now face as a result of Milosevic's decision. Milosevic's blockade has also affected the so-called Krajina region of Croatia under Serb occupation. Borba on 5 August reported strong backing from Krajina for Karadzic. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. SERBIAN DEVELOPMENTS PROMPT MUCH DISCUSSION. The BBC on 6 August interviewed British Balkan expert Misha Glenny. He said that Milosevic and Karadzic are locked in a political "power struggle to the death" that includes an economic war "of two mafias" as well as an ideological battle for "the hearts and minds of all Serbs." Glenny noted that Milosevic already has the media and police under his firm control, but suggested that the rump Yugoslav army could play a decisive role in a power struggle. On 8 August the Los Angeles Times reported that Milosevic wants to replace Karadzic with the equally nationalistic but apparently more pliant Banja Luka Serb leadership. That group is noted for its particular zeal not only in "ethnic cleansing," but also in destroying mosques and other physical traces of the Ottoman or Muslim presence. On 8 August Borba publishes a list of mosques destroyed in that area. Finally, Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic was quoted by news agencies on 7 August as saying that Milosevic started the war and armed Karadzic, and must now disarm him if he wants to be taken seriously as a man of peace. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. BERISHA CALLS FOR MORE AIR STRIKES. Reuters on 6 August quotes Albanian President Sali Berisha as urging more attacks on Bosnian Serb targets. A spokesman said that "the president thinks more serious air strikes by NATO, not just small sorties, would quickly convince the Bosnian Serbs to accept the peace plan." Berisha also seconded some other calls for international monitors to be placed on the border between Milosevic's and Karadzic's forces. Elsewhere in Tirana, RFE/RL's South Slavic Language Service on 7 August said that more than 2,500 former political prisoners went into a third day of a hunger strike despite a court order forbidding it. They want increased compensation for damages they suffered under communism. The ex-prisoners were recently promised some new apartments, but they also want $60 million in privatization bonds and $30,000 in direct payments to families or heirs. Reuters says that some 120,000 out of 3 million Albanians suffered political persecution under Enver Hoxha and his successor Ramiz Alija. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAKIA, HUNGARY "NORMALIZE" BILATERAL RELATIONS . . . On 5 August Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn paid a one-day visit to Slovakia, where discussions with Slovak officials focused on ways to "win mutual trust and eliminate tensions" between the two neighboring countries, TASR reported. Three agreements were signed during the visit, including the elimination of visa requirements and double taxation, as well as a readmission agreement, which allows each country to send back aliens who illegally cross the common border. Reuters reported that Horn and his Slovak counterpart Jozef Moravcik verbally agreed to open three new border crossings in an effort to promote bilateral trade, although only one is set to open this year because of a lack of funds. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. . . . BUT PROBLEMS STILL REMAIN. A bilateral treaty, which deals with the irreversibility of the Slovak-Hungarian border, the establishment of a common bank and the rights of ethnic minorities, has already been drafted but has not yet been signed, largely because of differences of opinion on the issue of minority rights, particularly concerning individual versus collective rights. While Horn was asking for recognition of collective minority rights, Moravcik gives priority to individual rights. In an interview published in Sme on 5 August, Slovak Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan said the agreement is unlikely to be signed before the upcoming Slovak elections, scheduled for 30 September and 1 October. Slovak-Hungarian discussions also focused on temporary solutions to the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros dam controversy, although both sides agreed to leave the final decision up to the International Court. Although Slovak President Michal Kovac told CTK on 5 August that Horn had apologized for all wrongs of the past towards minorities living in Hungary, Hungarian government spokeswoman Evelyn Forro later refuted the report, saying that Horn had said it would be "very good if the Hungarian minority living in Slovakia receive an apology for the Benes decrees," Radio Budapest reported on 6 August. Horn expressed concern that the Slovak election campaign might have a negative impact on bilateral relations; the Slovak National Party has already protested against the signing of a bilateral treaty. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. PRE-ELECTION CONFLICTS IN SLOVAKIA. On 5 August the Slovak National Party claimed it found that between 20 and 33% of the more than 14,000 signatures on the petition list of the Democratic Union were invalid and said it would ask the statistical bureau to check the list. The SNP noted that if 20-30% of the signatures collected are proven invalid, the party would fight to ban the DU from running in the upcoming elections. In response to the attacks by the SNP, the DU announced on 6 August that the Bratislava electoral commission, which consists of representatives of 16 contesting political parties, has examined the petitions and confirmed that the DU meets all legal requirements to run in the elections. According to the election law, all parties, with the exception of those represented in the parliament 60 days before the elections or those which obtained at least 10,000 votes in previous elections, were required to show that they have at least 10,000 members or to present a petition list including the signatures of at least 10,000 eligible voters. In related news, the West Slovakia electoral commission did not accept the argument of the Democratic Party that it had obtained over 10,000 votes in the last elections, since at that time it was in coalition with the Czech Civic Democratic Party, and said the party cannot run in that district. The DP has protested the decision, Sme reported on 5 August. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. MOBS THREATEN POLISH BUSINESS. Virtually all restaurants, cafes, pubs, and shops in Warsaw's Old Town district were closed for business on 6-8 August, as owners staged a protest against demands from armed gangsters for "protection" money, PAP reports. In a show of force on 29 July, a group of 25 thugs had visited Old Town restaurants and reinforced their offers of protection (for $500-$3000 per month) by demolishing furniture and threatening guests. Early press reports suggested that owners were too afraid of retaliation to cooperate with police. Major newspapers took up the story on 4 August, however, apparently emboldening the business community to stage a weekend "strike" in the Old Town. The protest was also designed to force the police to take action, as officials had initially refused to open investigations until specific complaints were filed. After much public outcry and a formal appeal from the ombudsman, this stance was reversed. A first arrest was made on 6 August, after a revolver-wielding mobster demanded money from a Warsaw pub. Prosecutors hailed this as a breakthrough, as patrons agreed to testify. A reporter for Gazeta Wyborcza also noted that police had detained the chief of a "security agency" believed to be behind many of the protection demands. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. IMF APPROVES STANDBY CREDIT FOR POLAND. The International Monetary Fund gave formal approval to its latest standby arrangement with Poland on 5 August, PAP reports. The draft agreement was signed in June. Under the terms of the agreement, which runs until the end of 1995, Poland is to receive $791 million in loans, to be paid out in quarterly installments. The funds are to be used to bolster Poland's balance of payments and to finance the reduction of the country's commercial debt. In a statement issued on the occasion, the IMF said that Poland's economic prospects are "generally positive," with 5% annual growth feasible in the second half of the current decade. The statement noted, however, that the burden of payments to the Paris Club of government creditors will soon increase, significantly narrowing the government's room for maneuver. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. OPINION POLL: POLES ARE "SELECTIVE" CATHOLICS. Reviewing a recent poll on religious practices, the Catholic daily Slowo observed on 8 August that the problem reflected by Polish religious behavior "is not a crisis of religious practice but rather of 'selective faith,' or the acceptance of only certain of the Church's teachings." In a poll conducted by Demoskop on 15-19 July, 96% of the respondents described themselves as "practicing Catholics," while only 4% said they never go to church. Of those who do attend, 50% said they are "regular" church-goers, 37% said they attend "occasionally," and 9% said they go to church only once or twice each year. Yet 49% of the respondents said they think the Church should permit abortion (42% opposed the idea), and 53% believe the Church should allow divorce (41% were opposed). In further results reported by Rzeczpospolita on 8 August, a full 60% said they believe that the Catholic Church has too much influence on Polish political life, while only 5% think it has too little influence. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. BULGARIAN ECONOMIC NEWS. On 5 August Bulgaria's Tron and Siemens of Germany agreed to build a cellular telephone system which will significantly improve radio and TV signals in many parts of the country. Sofia and Plovidiv are the first cities to be covered by the system, which is a precondition for the functioning of mobile telephones. In another development, the Bulgarian National Bank announced it has decided to lower the prime interest rate from 51% to 48%. The measure, which was accompanied by a liberalized regime on the BNB's trade with government securities, is in force as of 8 August. BTA carried the reports. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc. ROMANIAN COAL MINERS' STRIKE ENDS. A nine-day coal miners' strike in the Rovinari region ended on 5 August after the government agreed to a 35% pay rise, Romanian and international media reported. Earlier, the government had agreed to other demands, including the dismissal of the mining company's director general. Miners' union leader Marin Condescu said the average monthly miners' income will now be 300,000 lei (about $180). He also said the miners will work in the next two weeks to replace the output lost during the strike. The hunger striking miners ended their strike after the agreement was signed with Industry Minister Dumitru Popescu, Condescu said. The other labor conflict involving miners, concerning copper miners in the Deva region, also seems to be approaching a solution. A leader of the miners' union told Radio Bucharest on 5 August that the government had offered a 26% rise (the miners are asking for 50%) and that negotiations with Popescu will start again on 9 August. Meanwhile, the copper miners decided to suspend the underground sit-in protests, and those who were on a hunger strike interrupted their fast. Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc. US AMBASSADOR URGES TRANSDNIESTER TO ACCEPT MOLDOVA. In her first interview ever with the mass media in Transdniester, published in Dnestrovskaia Pravda on 6 August, the US Ambassador to Moldova, Mary Pendleton, said that Transdniester "is an inseparable part of Moldova." "I wish that residents of the region understood the fact that, under international law, Transdniester can not receive the status of a state in a confederation [with Moldova], as certain leaders in Tiraspol insist," Pendleton said. She remarked that Transdniester does not need "statehood," but rather a share of the benefits of Moldova's economic and political reforms, which enjoy Western support. At the same time, the US supports the rights of all inhabitants of Transdniester, including their right to their own languages and cultures. Pendleton said, as cited by Basapress. Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. FOUR NEW CABINET MEMBERS APPOINTED IN BELARUS. The chief of staff of Belarus's administration, Leanid Sinitsyn, announced that four more cabinet posts have been filled, Belarusian television reported on 4 August. Volha Darhel was appointed minister for social security; Barys Batura will continue holding the post of housing minister; Alyaksandr Lukashou will be the new minister of transport; and Vasil Lyavonau will be the new agricultural minister. It is anticipated that Dzmitryi Bulakhau will head the president's council and Viktar Sheiman will head the council on national security. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. BABURIN CRITICIZED OVER CRIMEA STATEMENT. The opposition in Crimea's parliament, the "Crimea with Ukraine" committee of the People's Council of Crimea, has appealed to the Ukrainian parliament and general prosecutor to brand Russian deputy, Sergei Baburin, persona non grata in Ukraine, Ukrainian television reported on 4 August. Baburin had visited the Crimean parliament on 29 July, at which time he said that Crimea is viewed as a part of Russia. The People's Council of Crimea says such statements by foreign officials are an interference in the internal affairs of Ukraine. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. THIRD SPECIAL SERVICE CREATED IN CRIMEA. Crimean President Yurii Meshkov has created a Service of the President of the Republic of Crimea for Security and International Affairs, UNIAN reported on 4 August. The new service is staffed by 39 personnel and is responsible only to Meshkov. It is reportedly headed by Volodymyr Bortnykov, who had previously worked in Russian special services. Although the service was formed on 18 July, its existence has become public only now. The two other special services in Crimea are the security service responsible to Ukraine, which is headed by Gen. Ivan Kolomytsev, and the Crimean security service, headed by Gen. Volodymyr Lyepykhov. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIA BEGINS MARKING DISPUTED BORDER WITH ESTONIA. On 5 August Viktor Zvonkov, deputy chief administrator of the Pskov Oblast, told ITAR-TASS that work began that day on marking out the 466 kilometer border with Estonia. On 21 June Russian President Boris Yeltsin had issued a decree ordering a unilateral border demarcation, based on the boundaries existing in August 1991, when Russia recognized Estonia's independence. Estonia claims that the border should be determined by the Tartu Treaty of 1920. The border question was not mentioned in the 26 July agreement on Russian troop withdrawal from Estonia. Zvonkov noted that preparatory typographical studies for draining marshes and clearing forests in the border zone were under way and that approximately one thousand iron and cement posts will be erected by 31 December 1994. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. JULY INFLATION IN ESTONIA AND LITHUANIA. The Estonian Statistics Department announced that the consumer price index rose (CPI) by 2.8% in July, BNS reported on 5 August. The largest increase was for housing expenditures (10.9%), followed by housekeeping (2.6%) and various goods and services (2.3%). Prices for fruits and vegetables, however, fell by 6.2%, while prices of dairy products and eggs dropped by 2.3%. In comparison with July 1993, the CPI increased by 50.1%. On 8 August the head of the Lithuanian Statistics Department, Kestutis Zaborskas, told Radio Lithuania that the CPI had increased by 2.1% in July, the same rate as in June. The greatest increase was for fuel and energy, which rose by 12.5%, while food prices increased by only 0.1%. He expressed satisfaction that health care costs, which rose by 43% in the first half of the year, grew by only 2.8% in July. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Liz Fuller and Sharon Fisher 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 the 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. 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