|The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be ignited. - Plutarch|
No. 150, 9 August 1994
RUSSIA SITUATION IN CHECHNYA. On 8 August, the Chechen opposition Provisional Council announced that it had formed a government in the republic's Nadterechnyi region. The Council claimed it had the support of the whole of Chechnya except the capital Groznyi and its surroundings. The same day, Interfax reported that anti-Dudaev volunteer forces were being formed in Nadterechnyi region. The Information Department of President Yeltsin's administration circulated a press release saying that Dudaev's decrees were being sabotaged by regional Chechen officials, and that the Chechen army commanders had openly declared they will not fight against their own people, ITAR-TASS reported. The leadership of President Dudaev maintains, however, that in fact it is still in control of the situation in the republic. On August 8 Dudaev accused Russia's secret services of planning to stage "provocations" against Russians living in Chechnya to spark unrest and thereby create a pretext for military intervention in the break-away republic. Dudaev told ITAR-TASS that he would be willing to resign as president on condition that Moscow and the international community recognize Chechnya's independence from Russia. Vera Tolz, RFE/RL, Inc. MMM CASE DEMONSTRATES LACK OF CONFIDENCE IN RUSSIAN AUTHORITIES. About 200 shareholders of the MMM joint stock company were picketing the Russian government headquarters in Moscow on 8 August. According to an ITAR-TASS report of 8 August, the pickets chanted "We Will Mobilize the Whole of Russia," and were carrying placards that read "Lawlessness Will Not Succeed" and "Hands off Mavrodi." Sergei Mavrodi, the MMM president, was detained last week in connection with irregularities in another company, "Invest Consulting." The investigators in charge of Mavrodi's case told Russian TV news on 8 August that they are going to file a formal charge against Mavrodi within a few days. Meanwhile, the liberal Literaturnaya gazeta questioned in a front-page article on 3 August whether MMM was really a pyramid scheme scam, as the government claimed. The weekly quoted MMM shareholders as viewing the affair as yet another government plot against the poor, in line with the confiscation of banknotes by the last USSR Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov in 1990, the devaluation of savings and pensions by the reformist Russian PM Egor Gaidar, or the recent reduction without any warning of State Bank interest rates. Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL, Inc. OPPOSITION TO MARK AUGUST 1991 COUP ANNIVERSARY. Members of the Russian Communist Workers' Party as well as of Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party and other hard-core illiberal organizations are to rally on 21 August in front of the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, Interfax announced on 8 August. The demonstration is called to commemorate the anniversary of the August 1991 attempted coup against Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. 21 August, the day of Yeltsin's and Gorbachev's victory over the putschists, is viewed by the demonstrators as "A Day of Great Deceit." The organizers do not plan to invite the leaders of today's opposition to Yeltsin--former speaker of the Russian parliament Ruslan Khasbulatov or former vice president Aleksandr Rutskoi--because at the time of the coup they sided with Yeltsin, and are therefore regarded as having contributed to the ensuing collapse of the Soviet Union, Interfax added. Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL, Inc. NEW POLITICAL PARTY CREATED IN MOSCOW. The famous Russian ophthalmologist, Svyatoslav Fedorov, has set up a political party, ITAR-TASS reported on 8 August. The group, called the Party of People's Self-Government, is planning to hold its founding conference in Moscow on 15 October. The party's goal is to support small-and medium-scale private businesses. Vera Tolz, RFE/RL, Inc. GOVERNMENT TACKLES "BAD DEBTS". Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on 8 August chaired a session of a special government commission set up to cope with the problem of interenterprise debt, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. The commission includes Deputy Prime Ministers Anatolii Chubais and Aleksandr Shokhin and Central Bank President Viktor Gerashchenko, and is chaired by First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets. The government is reportedly drafting a new package of five decrees that will focus on the "bad debts" problem. "Bad debts" are a shorthand for the informal and often involuntary mutual crediting that state firms employ as a way of blunting the impact of tight fiscal and monetary policies imposed from the center. Officials told Interfax on 5 August that total interenterprise debt now amounts to 30 trillion rubles ($15 billion), with arrears owed the energy complex set at 17 trillion rubles ($8.5 billion). Soskovets said on 5 August the problem is so serious that "it must be resolved without a single minute of delay." Most recent labor protests in Russia have been attributed to wage arrears resulting from the debt crisis. The ITAR-TASS report said that the commission is working on measures to prevent firms from hoarding cash that could be used to pay taxes and meet other payments. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. BAILOUT PLEDGED FOR ZIL AUTOWORKS. After a visit to the ZIL auto plant in Moscow on 3 August, Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets said that the government will prepare a rescue plan for the loss-making factory within ten days, Interfax reported. Soskovets visited the plant in the company of Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov. ZIL's director said that production had fallen from a peak of 210,000 trucks per year to only 34,000 in 1994, and that the plant loses 2 billion rubles ($1 million) per day. Proposals under consideration by the government include freezing ZIL's debt of 300 billion rubles ($150 million) for at least a year and imposing measures to protect ZIL's markets. Soskovets indicated that government ministries may be required to purchase their trucks from ZIL. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIA TO INTRODUCE LIFE SENTENCES. The new draft Russian Criminal Code provides for life sentence to be the maximum term of confinement, according to Moskovsky komsomolets of 5 August. Currently, the maximum term of imprisonment in Russia is 15 years, except for the cases of convicts who had been sentenced to death but subsequently pardoned. The introduction of life terms of imprisonment may reduce the number of death sentences in Russia but it is highly unlikely that capital punishment will be abolished in Russia in the near future, according to Sergei Medvedev, the anchor of the 6 August issue of the Ostankino weekly newscast, "Novosti Plus." Medvedev's pessimism was occasioned by the lack of space and appalling conditions in Russian penal institutions. Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL, Inc. LEBED AFFAIR: POLITICAL ASPECT. The barely-disguised removal of Lt.-General Aleksandr Lebed from the command of Russia's 14th Army in Moldova is being interpreted by Russian liberal commentators as certain to please the "Dniester republic" leadership, whom Lebed had accused of criminal corruption and political extremism. As Moskovsky Komsomolets and Izvestiya had done earlier, the program Itogi of Independent Television on 7 August saw that as one of the causes behind the seeming removal of Lebed. These and other liberal commentators at the same time stress with some concern Lebed's political potential in the Russian Federation. Segodnya of 5 August and Rossiiskaya gazeta of 6 August note that Lebed enjoys "a simply unique authority among officers" and is "in great political demand" in Russian society, and that most Russians will sympathize with him as a perceived victim of official intrigues. Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. LEBED AFFAIR: MILITARY ASPECT. In a communique by Russia's Defense Ministry published in Krasnaya zvezda of 5 August and in remarks by its spokesmen to RIA and Rossiiskaya gazeta of 6 August, the Ministry explained that its decision to dissolve the 14th Army command structures and downgrade it to an operational group was meant to bring those attributes into line with the army's current manpower, barely enough for its single remaining division (recent estimates range from 8,000 to 10,000). According to the Ministry, the Army's command staff of more than 200 officers is adequate for an army of up to five divisions. The officers serving in Moldova, moreover, cost Russia far more than those serving in Russia itself: for example any one of the many staff colonels in the 14th Army earns as much as a three-star general serving in Russia. Various reports in the Russian media suggest that Russia may ask Moldova for basing rights for the down-sized operational group. Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. KUWAIT, RUSSIA FINALIZE ARMS DEAL. An official of Russia's state-owned arms trading company, Rosvooruzheniye, announced on 8 August that Moscow had that day signed a contract with Kuwait for delivery of Russian BMP-3 armored personnel carriers and "Smerch" ("Tornado") multiple rocket launcher systems. Terms of the deal were not made public, but Interfax quoted experts who suggested that it was comparable to a $600 million contract that Russia signed earlier this year with Malaysia. Interfax also said that Kuwait was the first to purchase the "Smerch" system, believed to have been introduced in the Soviet army in 1987. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. DAM BURSTS IN BASHKORTOSTAN. Four towns in the Russian Federation's republic of Bashkortostan have been flooded by a dam burst, ITAR-TASS reported on 8 August. An estimated 20 people were killed. Heavy rains poured water into the Tirlyan reservoir on the Belaya River north of the town of Beloretsk, the Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations reported. Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov blamed the disaster on the dam's owners, saying the dam had no maintenance checks since 1990. Vera Tolz, RFE/RL, Inc. CIS RUSSIA HINTING AT END OF PEACEMAKING IN MOLDOVA. On 5 August ITAR-TASS cited Russian Defense Ministry sources as implying that Russia may decide to recall its peacemaking troops from Moldova owing to the expiry of their mandate on 15 August. This was the second recent hint to this effect after the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman's statement on 26 July. As anticipated (see RFE/RL Daily Report of 27 July) Moldova is unhappy at the prospect of facing the superior and trigger-happy "Dniester" forces without a force of interposition. On 8 August Maj.-General Victor Catana, Moldovan co-chairman of the Joint [Armistice] Control Commission, told the media that under the armistice convention, any decision to recall the peacemaking troops requires the agreement of both sides unless one side renounces the convention itself. Moldova, Catana said, "considers any withdrawal of the peacekeeping force as ill-advised." Moldova's dilemma is a result of Russia's monopoly on peacekeeping in the area and of its ability to extract the local country's consent to the presence of Russian forces by conjuring up the prospect of unleashing proxies previously armed and organized by the Russian military. Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA KAZAKHSTAN AND TURKEY SIGN MILITARY AGREEMENT. Kazakhstan's Minister of Defense Sagadat Nurmagambetov and his Turkish counterpart signed an agreement on military cooperation between the two countries on 8 August, Interfax reported. Nurmagambetov later characterized the agreement as "preliminary," dealing primarily with cooperation in arms production; he said that it did not contradict Kazakhstan's military agreements with other countries, including Russia. The Turkish defense minister is in Kazakhstan to promote cooperation in military training--the Central Asian states have so far made surprisingly little use of Turkish offers to train their officer corps. Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc. CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE KUCHMA ISSUES DECREES STRENGTHENING HIS POWERS. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma issued two decrees on 8 August which put him in charge of the government and subordinated local councils to his authority, Ukrainian television reported. The first decree places Kuchma at the head of the cabinet, giving him the right to determine the cabinet's activities and to appoint and dismiss the heads of state committees, deputy ministers and other authorities; it also orders the cabinet to submit proposals for improving the system of central governing bodies within a month. The second decree subordinates the heads of regional councils to the president and makes lesser councils responsible to their regional superiors. Kuchma has reportedly called for changing Ukraine from a parliamentary-presidential republic to a presidential-parliamentary republic in order to facilitate the implementation of reforms. Left wing parties in the parliament have been opposed to a strong presidency, although the parliamentary speaker, Oleksandr Moroz, who heads the Socialist Party, has reportedly decided to support Kuchma's appeal for a strong executive. Ukraine still has not adopted a new constitution which defines the president's powers; however, the drafts endorsed by the left wing majority in parliament call for a weak presidency. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. MORE PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS IN UKRAINE. On 7 August another round of parliamentary elections were held in 34 districts in Ukraine, Ukrainian television reported. Interfax reported on 8 August that a total of 27 new deputies were elected. The parliament now has 393 members, of whom 219 are independents, 91 are communists, 13 are socialists and 2 belong to the Agrarian Party. ITAR-TASS reported that Mykola Bahrov, formerly a deputy of the Crimean parliament and a contender in Crimea's presidential election in January, was unsuccessful in his parliamentary campaign in Crimea. Bahrov has reportedly said he will no longer be active in politics, but will concentrate on putting together an encyclopedia on Crimea. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. ATHENS PLEDGES TO DEFEND ALBANIA'S GREEKS. Commenting on the upcoming trial against five members of the Omonia Greek minority organization in Tirana, Athens warned on 8 August that it could "take action" if Albania violated the rights of ethnic Greeks. Speaking at a press conference, Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias refused to detail the warning but said the Greek government had the "will and strength to confront any situation which would have negative consequences and limitations on the human rights of the Greek minority." Western agencies quoted Papoulias as slamming the trial, which could lead to death penalty for the defendants, as a "farce based on a penal code used by the [previous] Stalinist regime." Addressing the same news conference, Omonia leader Sotiris Kyriazatis appealed to both sides to "solve all the problems in a peaceful and democratic manner." But in a statement released in Athens, Omonia charged that Albanian authorities had conducted the investigations in a breach of domestic legislation. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc. BOSNIAN SERBS EXPAND THE WORK WEEK. On 8 August Bosnian Serb authorities announced the wording of the referendum slated for 27 and 28 August and instituted a series of measures to place their territories on a tighter war-footing. AFP said that holidays and paid vacations are "suspended for the duration of the emergency measures" effective immediately, and that the work week has been lengthened to 60 hours with only Sundays free. Gen. Rose told Reuters that enforcing its new fuel embargo against the Bosnian Serbs could enable Belgrade to have a devastating effect on its erstwhile proxies, noting that "modern armies work on fuel. Without fuel, you've just got lumps of metal." Nonetheless, the Contact Group is continuing to plan sanctions against rump Yugoslavia. Finally, AFP reports from Zagreb that some 1,000 Bosnian civilians loyal to Bihac kingpin Fikret Abdic have fled to Serb-held territories in Croatia in the face of a successful offensive by government troops. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. US TO LIFT ARMS EMBARGO BY 15 OCTOBER? On 9 August The Washington Post says that "under a measure being worked out with Congress, the Clinton administration may appeal to the United Nations as early as 15 October to exempt the Muslim-led Bosnian government from a regional arms embargo, if Serb separatists continue to reject a peace plan." The article notes that Congress has taken several such initiatives of its own, and that "setting a deadline on the Serbs would be a distinct departure for the administration . . . " Meanwhile in Bosnia, the Muslim and Croat forces have seized the initiative and launched an offensive against the Serbs south of Vares. At stake is the road link between Tuzla and central Bosnia. UN commander Gen. Sir Michael Rose said the attacks "are one of the reasons why the Serbs feel quite justified in closing off Sarajevo." Rose has previously been criticized by UN personnel as being too accommodating to the Serbs in order to keep channels open to them. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. SARAJEVO UPDATE. News agencies report that the humanitarian airlift to Sarajevo will be restored on 9 August, and The New York Times adds that the world body is seeking demilitarized status for the Bosnian capital. Reuters notes that NATO is preparing contingency plans to extend the type of exclusion zone obtained for Sarajevo and Gorazde to the four "safe areas" of Tuzla, Zepa, Srebrenica, and Bihac. Finally, Gen. Rose told the BBC on 8 August that French and Russian peacekeepers had distinguished themselves in helping put an end to the renewed activity of Serb snipers in the Bosnian capital. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. PAVLE IN PALE. On 9 August both Borba and Politika report that on the previous day Serbia's Orthodox Church leader, Patriarch Pavle, traveled to the Bosnian Serb stronghold of Pale to attend meetings with Bosnian Serb leaders. Pavle, on a self-proclaimed "mission" to patch up the seeming rift between Belgrade and the Bosnian Serb leadership and to bring "peace among brothers," was accompanied by other prominent Church officials, notably the Bishop of Zahumlje-Herzegovina and the Metropolitan of Montenegro-Littoral. Borba also notes that the Montenegrin cleric used the opportunity afforded by the visit to suggest that any Serbian parties willing to accept the terms of the international peace plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina were nothing short of "traitors" to the Serbian nation. According to a Reuters account of 8 August, Bosnian Serb leaders welcomed the clerical initiative, but expressed some measure of doubt as to its efficacy. Speaker of the self-proclaimed Bosnian Serb parliament, Momcilo Krajisnik, reportedly observed that "It is obvious that there is a big political rift between [rump] Yugoslavia and ourselves." Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. KOSOVO UPDATE. Seven ethnic Albanians, charged with having received military training in Albania in 1992 and 1993, were sentenced in Pristina on 8 August, Tanjug said. They received terms ranging between two and four years. Rilindja reported on 5 August that the seven were accused of preparing an armed uprising in Kosovo but denied the charges, saying that they went to Albania to avoid conscription into the rump Yugoslav army. According to Amnesty International, they said that a camp in Labinot, where they spent some time, was not a military training center but a camp for refugees from Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina. One of the ethnic Albanians told the court that he had been tortured with electric shocks and that Serb police officers had threatened to kill him. Elsewhere, Kosovar shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova said that he is aiming for a solution to the Kosovo crisis in the framework of a global solution in the former Yugoslavia. He added that he favors a confederation between the self-declared Republic of Kosovo and Albania, Rilindja reported the same day. Fabian Schmidt, RFE/RL, Inc. WILL THE KOSOVARS CONTINUE THEIR PEACEFUL POLICY? Serbian police recently surrounded an ethnic Albanian village, killing one of the inhabitants and burning his house. As a result, Rugova said that he is not sure that ethnic Albanians can keep up their policy of peaceful resistance. Among those Albanians there has been much criticism of Rugova's line, although that policy has won much praise abroad. RFE/RL's South Slavic Language Service carried the story on 8 August. Nenad Pejic and Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. HEADS ROLL IN POLISH POLICE. Deputy Internal Affairs Minister Jerzy Zimowski announced on 8 August that the prime minister will soon accept the resignations of Police Commander Zenon Smolarek and his deputy, Zdzislaw Centkowski, Gazeta Wyborcza reports. The two officials are the highest-ranking casualties of the Poznan corruption scandal that was exposed by reporters from Gazeta Wyborcza and Radio "S" in March. Smolarek offered to resign two weeks after the story broke, but insisted that he was innocent of all charges and that the newspaper reports were designed to destroy the Poznan police force's morale. Zimowski stressed on 8 August that the two were resigning "for the good of the service" and that none of the charges had been proven. The Katowice prosecutor's office and the internal affairs ministry are both still investigating the accusations, which center on ties between police officers and their business "sponsors." Cracow police chief Boguslaw Strzelecki is expected to be appointed to replace Smolarek. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. WALESA REQUESTS RULING ON CONCORDAT. President Lech Walesa on 8 August asked the Constitutional Tribunal to rule on the legality of a Sejm resolution passed on 1 July postponing ratification of the concordat with the Vatican until after the adoption of a new constitution, Rzeczpospolita reports. Although the government had recommended ratification, the resolution to postpone was carried on the votes of the ruling coalition and over the opposition's protests. The failure of Polish Peasant Party deputies, in particular, to support ratification has caused a chill in that party's relations with the Polish bishops. In his request to the tribunal, Walesa questioned the legality of the Sejm's attempt to link the fate of the concordat to a document that does not yet exist. He also argued that the resolution violates the constitution by infringing on the president's prerogative to ratify international agreements. In Polish practice, the parliament recommends ratification of international agreements, but the president enacts it. Walesa also noted that the logical extension of the Sejm's reasoning would be to postpone action on all major legislation until the new constitution is adopted. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. CANADA SIGNS DEFENSE MEMORANDUMS WITH CZECH AND SLOVAK REPUBLICS. On 8 August, Czech Defense Minister Antonin Baudys and his Canadian counterpart, David Collenette, signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in military training. Speaking to journalists after the signing ceremony, Collenette said that the accord will provide military training for officers. Baudys said he and Collenette also discussed UN peacekeeping operations and the Czech Republic's participation in European security and economic structures. According to Baudys, a team of Canadian experts will soon come to the Czech Republic for talks on cooperation in arms production. Later, Collenette met with Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec. Before arriving in the Czech Republic, Collenette spent three days in Slovakia, where he and his Slovak counterpart Pavol Kanis signed a similar memorandum, TASR reported on 4 August. A more detailed agreement on Slovak-Canadian military cooperation is expected in the future. Jiri Pehe and Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAK REACTIONS TO HORN'S VISIT. On 8 August a commentary in the Slovak daily Narodna obroda reacted to the 5 August visit of Hungarian Premier Gyula Horn to Slovakia. According to the report, both Slovakia and Hungary realize that if they do not resolve their conflicts over border recognition and minorities, their chances of joining such organizations as the EU and NATO are slim. Although Hungary strives to gain a combination of individual and collective rights for the Hungarian minority in Slovakia, this would go beyond what is presently recommended by the UN, the CSCE or the Council of Europe. The commentator says that Hungary's goals are not "illegitimate;" however, they are "unrealistic," since Slovakia cannot afford to make concessions on its own. It is thus recommended that the CE adopt a charter on minorities as soon as possible which would be binding for all council members, including Slovakia and Hungary. Also on 8 August, the Office of the Slovak President confirmed the authenticity of Michal Kovac's statement to CTK that Horn had apologized for "injustices committed against ethnic minorities in Hungary" during his visit. Although Hungarian government spokeswoman Evelyn Forro later denied the report, Kovac's office said that the authenticity of Kovac's statement as reported by CTK "was confirmed by other Slovak participants in the talks," TASR reported. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. MAYORS AT HUNGARIAN-SLOVAK BORDER CALL FOR NEW BORDER CROSSINGS. In a joint letter to Hungarian President Arpad Goncz and his Slovak counterpart Michal Kovac, mayors of several towns called for the opening of new border crossings between Hungary and Slovakia, MTI reported on 8 August. The mayors recalled that under a Hungarian-Slovak agreement of August 1993, the border crossings Letkes-Salka, Pacin-Velky Kamenec, and Satoraljaujhely-Slovenske Nove Mesta were to be opened by 31 December 1993. The mayors expressed "deep shock" over the fact that Hungarian Premier Gyula Horn succeeded during his 5 August 1994 talks in Bratislava in getting verbal agreement from the Slovak side for the opening of only one of the border crossings. Pointing out that the three border crossings are fully equipped and ready for use, they appealed to the presidents to use their personal influence to have them opened by 31 August 1994. Edith Oltay, RFE/RL, Inc. LUKASHENKA CONSIDERS RAISING IMPORT TAX. On 8 August Interfax reported that Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka is considering issuing a decree to increase customs duties and taxes on imported goods which compete with Belarusian products. The decree may also annul taxes on Belarusian exports. In an earlier interview Lukashenka said that he wished to reduce western imports which compete with products made in Belarus. The move has reportedly been prompted by Western Europe's refusal to increase the quotas for Belarusian potassium fertilizers and textiles. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. KAZAKHSTAN PRESIDENT IN ESTONIA. On 8 August Nursultan Nazarbaev and his Estonian counterpart, Lennart Meri, signed a joint statement on bilateral relations, calling for regular meetings to help expand trade and economic relations as well as creating a favorable legal climate for mutual investments and joint ventures, BNS reports. The two sides agreed to set up diplomatic representation in Tallinn and Almaty and to expand cooperation in science, education, and culture. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIAN WITHDRAWAL FROM LATVIA BEHIND SCHEDULE. Ludis Pavilonis, the deputy head of the Latvian bureau monitoring Russian troop withdrawal, said that there were still 2,428 Russian military personnel at 63 bases in Latvia on 1 August, BNS reported on 8 August. He regretted that the departure of several Russian army units was behind schedule, with the greatest delay being the infantry unit at Aluksne that should have pulled out by 30 July. Pavilonis told an RFE/RL correspondent that the Russians had asked for a new deadline--31 December--for the withdrawal of the families of military personnel due to a shortage of suitable housing. Latvia agreed to examine the cases individually but will not grant an overall waiver for the families. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. LITHUANIA, CANADA SIGN AGREEMENT. On 8 August Jesse Flis, the Canadian parliament secretary for foreign affairs, held talks in Vilnius with Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius and Deputy Foreign Minister Albinas Januska, Radio Lithuania reports. Flis signed a trade and commerce agreement with Lithuania, aimed at increasing bilateral trade. At a press conference after the signing, Januska noted that Lithuania's trade with Canada comprised only 0.3% of the country's total trade but the proportion should increase due to the agreement. The talks also focused on Lithuanian-Russian relations and the problem of transit to and from Kaliningrad. Januska noted that Canada has been more supportive than other NATO members concerning the organization's expansion to the East. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. 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