|History is made out of the failures and heroism of each insignificant moment. - Franz Kafka|
No. 170, 7 September 1994
RUSSIA RUSSIA IGNORES CHECHEN OFFER OF TALKS. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigorii Karasin told Interfax on 6 September that the ministry had not responded to a note received from the Chechen leadership in Grozny inviting Russia as "a foreign state" to resume constructive negotiations, because such an offer contradicted the Russian Constitution. In a speech to some 200,000 supporters in Grozny to mark the third anniversary of the declaration of Chechnya's independence, President Dzhokhar Dudaev affirmed that "Allah has blessed our path" and that Chechnya "need fear no one" provided the population unite to defend their independence. The military situation remains unclear: there is no independent confirmation of official Chechen claims (cited by Interfax) that at least 300 supporters of Provisional Council Chairman Umar Avturkhanov have defected to the Chechen government, and that Dudaev's troops have surrounded the headquarters of former Russian parliament speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov in the village of Tolstoi-Yurt. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. INFORMATION WAR BETWEEN FSK AND DUDAEV'S FORCES. The Federal Counterintelligence Service (FSK) has asked the Russian Prosecutor's Office to investigate "the mass murder in the Chechen republic" and to initiate criminal proceedings against Dudaev, Russian TV reported on 6 August. The FSK also organized a televised press conference for Stanislav Krylov, an FSK officer released from Chechen custody. Krylov said he had been arrested by Dudaev's security service during an undercover mission in Chechnya, which was legitimate as Chechnya is part of the Russian Federation. He added that Chechen security officers had tried to extort "confessions" from him about the involvement of the Russian secret services in the Chechen crisis. Chechen Prosecutor Usman Imaev, meanwhile, told an RFE/RL correspondent in Grozny that the FSK did not have the real Krylov, for the officer was in his hands. Imaev also said his agency had arrested another FSK officer, Sergei Terekhov. Formerly a prison officer, Terekhov, Imaev said, had been told to penetrate a Chechen maximum security prison and incite its inmates to rebel against Dudaev. An FSK spokesman called Imaev's version of events purely imaginary. Victor Yasmann, RFE/RL, Inc. NUCLEAR WATCHDOG WARNS OF DANGERS. Yurii Volodin, who heads the Russian Nuclear Supervision Committee's agency for stock control and physical protection, said on 6 September that law enforcement officials must step up their efforts to expose criminals seeking to buy nuclear materials. As reported by Interfax, he claimed that there had not been a single reported arrest of someone attempting to buy fissile material. While he ruled out the theft of weapons-grade uranium and plutonium from Russia's nuclear facilities, he believed that research centers were vulnerable. Reflecting the frustration that the Supervision Committee has long felt over its inability to enter military facilities, he said that "household terrorism"--i.e., terrorist actions by members of the military itself--was possible. Doug Clarke, RFE/RL, Inc. ENERGY MINISTRY PROPOSES JOINT MEASURES AGAINST NUCLEAR SMUGGLING. The Ministry for Nuclear Energy has issued an official statement calling for the creation of an international body to deal with nuclear safety and the smuggling of fissile materials, Russian television and ITAR-TASS reported on 5 September. The ministry envisages the new institution as part of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna and as providing a forum for Russian and Western scientists to evaluate procedures and verification methods to ensure the nonproliferation of nuclear materials and technologies. The ministry, which continues to deny that the plutonium seized recently in Germany originated in Russian nuclear installations, dismissed Western concern over nuclear smuggling as based on a "fabrication of the facts." Rejecting responsibility for the miserable conditions in its nuclear centers, the ministry has accused the West of attempting to bring the Russian military's nuclear arsenal and the civil production of nuclear fuel under "international control." Victor Yasmann, RFE/RL, Inc. SVERDLOVSK REGION WANTS TO SELL ARMS TO CHINA. During Chinese head of state Jiang Zemin's recent visit to Ekaterinburg (formerly Sverdlovsk), regional officials tried to interest him in arms and military equipment built in the region. Interfax on 6 September said the regional governor, Aleksei Strakhov, had also proposed that regional industrial enterprises participate in the modernization of a Chinese iron and steel plant built in the 1950s with the help of a local enterprise. It was also suggested that Uralvagonzavod in Nizhnii Tagil--one of the largest tank producers in the world--build cars for China. Doug Clarke, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH AND MVD SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENT. Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Aleksii II and Interior Minister Viktor Erin have signed an agreement on cooperation in the fight against crime and in enhancing the "spiritual health" of society, Russian TV reported on 6 September. According to the document, the Russian Orthodox Church and the MVD will form a joint commission on crime prevention. The Church will also gain greater access to MVD prisons and labor camps, while the MVD will provide better protection for Church property. In February the Russian Orthodox Church signed a similar agreement with the Ministry of Defense on the basis, it said, of the "1,000-year tradition of cooperation between the Church and the Army." Victor Yasmann, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIAN GOVERNORS: NO ELECTIONS UNTIL 1996. The heads of administration of more than 40 regions met in Yaroslavl on 6 September for a conference of the Union of Russian Governors, which was attended by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai, acting Finance Minister Sergei Dubinin, and the head of a territorial department in the presidential Administration, Aleksandr Kazakov. Primarily devoted to regional economic problems, the conference also raised the issue of the legal status of Russia's governors. (Despite the law adopted by the former Russian parliament in October 1990, most heads of administration were not elected to their posts but appointed by Yeltsin.) The governors adopted a resolution calling for no elections of heads of administration before 1996, the year of the next presidential elections. Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL, Inc. POLTORANIN DENIES TIES WITH SACKED PRESS MINISTER, BUT SCANDALS CONTINUE. Following the removal on 2 September of Boris Mironov as head of the State Committee on the Press, the polemics concerning the ultranationalist politician in the Russian media have continued. On 4 September Evgenii Kiselev, the anchor of the popular weekly newscast "Results" (broadcast by the independent television company NTV), devoted a large section of his program to Mironov, claiming that the latter had been recommended for the position of press minister by Mikhail Poltoranin, currently the chairman of the State Duma's press committee. Kiselev alleged that Poltoranin shared Mironov's antidemocratic and anti-Semitic views, quoting excerpts from an interview Poltoranin gave to a Jordanian newspaper in March to support his contention. According to Sovetskaya Rossiya and Nezavisimaya gazeta of 6 September, Poltoranin has denied having recommended Mironov. However, he made no secret of his sympathy for the former press minister, saying he did the Russian media more good than anyone else. Poltoranin also threatened to sue Kiselev for libel, arguing that the Jordanian newspaper had mistranslated his statements. Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIA INTERESTED IN END TO EMBARGO ON IRAQ. On 5 September Russian agencies and AFP reported that Russian Minister for Foreign Economic Relations Oleg Davydov had stated that Moscow was in favor of lifting the international sanctions against Iraq, embargoed in August 1990 for invading neighboring Kuwait, and hoped to restore trade with Baghdad to at least pre-embargo levels. Davydov's comments came at a meeting of a Russian-Iraqi commission on trade and economic cooperation. Iraqi Trade Minister Mukhammed Salekh responded that Iraq would repay all its debts to Russia once sanctions were gone, noting that payment would be made in the form of hard currency and oil shipments. According to ITAR-TASS, a "draft trade treaty" is likely to result from Russian-Iraqi talks. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. ROOKIE COSMONAUT SAVES MANNED SPACE MISSION. Lieutenant Colonel Aleksandr Malenchenko--on his first space mission--on 2 September manually maneuvered the Progress cargo craft to a successful docking with the Mir space station. Reuters quoted a ground controller as saying "it was just like he was sitting in an armchair at home playing a computer game." The cargo craft brought fuel, food, and water to the crew as well as 610 pounds of equipment to be used by a German cosmonaut on a joint Russian Space Agency-European Space Agency mission to begin on 4 October. If Malenchenko had not been successful, he and his two Mir crewmates would have had to return to earth within a week or two and the October mission would have been scrubbed. Doug Clarke, RFE/RL, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA DECREE ON FOREIGN INVESTMENTS IN KYRGYZSTAN. Kyrgyzstan's President Askar Akaev signed a decree on 6 September allowing foreign investors to take all their profits out of the country in hard currency or goods they have manufactured, Interfax reported. The decree, designed to make investment in Kyrgyzstan more attractive to foreigners and to ease the country's economic crisis, also cancels a 5% tax on profits taken abroad. A second decree signed by Akaev the same day seeks to deal with the perennial problem of uncollected taxes by tightening the rules on paying income taxes. In a move to halt the collapse of industry in Kyrgyzstan, Akaev has deferred debt repayment by state enterprises until October 1996. Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc. UZBEK-UKRAINIAN RELATIONS. A Ukrainian government delegation in Tashkent has reached agreement with Uzbek officials on the mutual clearing of accounts, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 September, noting that the payment of debts between the two countries had been a major sticking point in the development of economic relations. Delegation leader Anatolii Golubchenko said after talks with Uzbekistan's top leadership that agreements had also been signed on banking, trade, and cultural relations and that he was convinced Uzbekistan saw Ukraine as one of its chief potential partners in dealing with economic, agricultural, and environmental issues. He noted, however, that Ukraine already had 23 agreements with Uzbekistan but most were not functioning. Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc. JAPAN TO HELP KAZAKHSTAN CONTROL NUCLEAR MATERIALS. Japan's Foreign Ministry announced on 6 September that Japan had signed an agreement with Kazakhstan to help the Central Asian state set up a system of safeguards on nuclear materials on its territory, Western sources reported. Funding for the project is to come from an $11 million Japanese assistance package that is to help Kazakhstan dismantle its nuclear weapons. Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have been turning increasingly to Japan for financial assistance, after having looked almost exclusively to Europe and the US in the period immediately after independence. Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc. BOMB DEFUSED ON TBILISI-MOSCOW PLANE. On 6 September Georgian security experts defused a bomb found before takeoff on a passenger plane bound for Moscow from Tbilisi, AFP and Interfax reported. The bomb had been timed to explode one hour after takeoff; according to AFP, former Georgian Defense Minister Giorgi Karkarashvili was a passenger on the aircraft. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. FOURTEEN KILLED IN MARKET PLACE EXPLOSION IN ARMENIA. Fourteen people died and 46 were injured when a bomb hidden in a briefcase exploded on 4 September in a marketplace in the village of Bagratashen in northeast Armenia, close to the frontier with Georgia and Azerbaijan, Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE POPE CANCELS SARAJEVO VISIT. On 7 September international media report that Pope John Paul II has canceled a planned visit to Sarajevo on 8 September. The Vatican said in a statement that the failure to guarantee the pope's safety prompted the decision to cancel the trip but that the pontiff expected to visit Sarajevo "as soon as circumstances permitted." The pope will go ahead with a scheduled two-day visit to Croatia beginning 10 September. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. "CONTACT GROUP" MEETS TO DISCUSS SANCTIONS AGAINST SERBIA. Representatives of the five-member "contact group" met in Berlin on 6 September. Reuters said that at the top of the agenda is the possibility of lifting sanctions against rump Yugoslavia in return for its having imposed an embargo on the Bosnian Serbs, who have refused to accept the latest international peace plan for Bosnia. Russian officials favor an immediate easing of the sanctions in light of Belgrade's blockade, while Britain, France, Germany, and the United States have argued that such action ought to be conditional on Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's willingness to station monitors along Serbia's border with Bosnia. The issue of lifting the arms embargo against Bosnia is also proving divisive. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. SERBIAN BOMBS KILL THREE. On 6 September AFP reported that Bosnian Serb forces launched cluster bomb attacks in Bihac on 5 and 6 September, killing three and wounding at least 100 in the towns of Cazin and Buzim. Hina, however, identifies the culprits as "Serbian terrorists from the occupied Croatian areas." Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. HUNGARIAN AIRSPACE VIOLATED. On 6 September a Serbian military plane violated Hungarian airspace over Hercegszanto and flew some three kilometers into Hungarian territory. The Serbs blamed the incident on the pilot. According to Lt. Col. Lajos Erdelyi, spokesman for the Defense Ministry, a MIG-29 fighter plane, given to Hungary by Russia as partial payment for the Soviet debt, detected the Serbian transgressor. Judith Pataki, RFE/RL, Inc. ETHNIC ALBANIAN POLITICS IN MACEDONIA. Six weeks before the national elections, the "moderate" wing of the ethnic Albanian Party of Democratic Prosperity (PDP) has brought charges against the party's "radicals," Nova Makedonija reports on 5 September. Abdyrahman Haliti, leader of the moderates, told the Skopje daily that "we will demand what belongs to us: the stamp, the party documents . . . and the name of the party." He also said they would be seeking a court ruling that prohibited the radical wing from making use of the party's name. Areb Xhaferi, leader of the radicals, commented that his wing considered it wrong to seek legitimacy through a court ruling and would bring countercharges. The largest ethnic Albanian party in Macedonia, the PDP split into two opposing factions on 13 February. Observers believe it is seriously jeopardizing its election chances by trying to resolve internal differences in court. Louis Zanga and Ismije Beshiri, RFE/RL, Inc. WAR OF NERVES OVER POLISH POLICE CHIEF. Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak has still not approved the release from duty of former police chief Zenon Smolarek and the appointment of Cracow police chief Boguslaw Strzelecki as his replacement, PAP reported on 6 September. The post has been vacant since 12 August, when Interior Minister Andrzej Milczanowski finally accepted Smolarek's resignation, prompted by press revelations--first made in March 1994--about corruption at the highest levels of the police force. Milczanowski had refused to consider Smolarek's dismissal or suspension pending the results of an internal investigation. Although the results are still not available, public speculation that Smolarek is implicated in the scandal has hurt the image of the police force and paralyzed its command center. Milczanowski's preferred candidate, Strzelecki, has been approved by both President Lech Walesa and the Interior Ministry's Political Advisory Committee, though the prime minister, who has the final say, is angling for a candidate of his own choice. On 6 September Pawlak said his preferred candidate, Leszek Lamparski, a former police chief who retired after being certified physically unfit for duty, had been denied entrance to the Interior Ministry on the day the advisory committee convened. Pawlak suggested this might have influenced the committee's decision. Milczanowski explained the circumstances of the incident and gave the lie to Pawlak's implicit claim that Lamparski had not been given an opportunity to present his candidacy to the committee. Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka, RFE/RL, Inc. POLISH FINANCE MINISTER DEFEATED ON PENSION REFORM. Labor Minister Leszek Miller has prevailed over his party colleague Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Grzegorz Kolodko in a battle over pension reform. Kolodko's complex economic program, known as the "Strategy for Poland," provided for a change in the criteria according to which pensions are re-evaluated. Kolodko had planned to peg pensions to cost of living increases, abandoning the current system of indexing pensions to wage increases. He had hoped in this way to cut the spiraling bill for pensions and substantially decrease the budget deficit. Miller, a leader of the back-to-socialism lobby, insisted the change would mean that the plight of the pensioners, especially those with the lowest pensions, would be even worse in comparison with the rest of the population. The government decided to put off the proposed changes at least until 1996 and pending further economic analysis. The decision raises questions about the validity of the draft budget for 1995 and its 16% inflation target. Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAK ELECTION CAMPAIGN BEGINS. The Slovak election campaign gets under way on 7 September. A total of 18 parties will participate in the elections, to take place on 30 September and 1 October; each will have equal access to mass media and other state services, Sme reported on 6 September. Slovak Radio and Television are each required to allocate 21 hours of airtime; this amount will be divided equally among the competing parties. Results of public opinion polls will cease to be published seven days before the elections take place. In a speech on Slovak Radio and Television on 6 September, President Michal Kovac said the elections could "significantly improve the internal political stability of the state." He stressed that Slovakia needed a government that would create an atmosphere of national, civic, and political reconciliation, respect, and tolerance. Kovac appealed to citizens not to underestimate the importance of the elections and asked politicians to run a "positive and decent" campaign. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAK PREMIER EVALUATES CABINET'S ACTIVITIES. On the eve of the election campaign, Slovak Premier Jozef Moravcik discussed on Slovak TV economic achievements of the current cabinet. He said in the first half of 1994, GDP grew by 4.4%, compared with the same period the previous year. He noted that inflation would not exceed 12% this year, whereas in 1993 it had reached 25%. Foreign-currency reserves had increased from $318 million in early 1994 to $1.319 billion at present. Moravcik also said the budget deficit had been 10 billion koruny when the cabinet took over, forcing the government to make the unpopular decision to raise taxes in order to find funds for education, health care, and the legal system. In other economic news, Slovakia's trade balance for the first half of 1994 ended with a deficit of 200 million koruny. Also, on 6 September the government approved the privatization of 16 firms. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAKIA WINS LOAN FOR INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENT. On 5 September European Investment Bank (EIB) Vice President Wolfgang Roth and Slovak Finance Minister Rudolf Filkus signed agreements providing Slovakia with 300 million ecu to improve telecommunications and air navigation. The money will be available immediately and can be withdrawn over the next three years. Filkus noted that the agreements would "help improve Slovakia's infrastructure and thus contribute to the revival of the Slovak economy," TASR reports. In a meeting with Deputy Premier Brigita Schmoegnerova on 6 September Roth said the EIB was interested in financing road and railway development as well. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. G-24 CONFERENCE IN BRATISLAVA. An international conference of the G-24 countries began in Slovakia on 6 September. Organized by Deputy Premier Brigita Schmoegnerova, the conference is designed to demonstrate the EU's support for the reforms undertaken by the current Slovak cabinet. The EU delegation is headed by Horst Krenzler, general director of the European Commission for Foreign Economic Relations. In an interview with TASR, Krenzler expressed his approval of the present cabinet's economic program. Representatives of international financial and economic institutions are also attending. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. BULGARIAN POLITICAL MANEUVERING. Prior to the parliament's opening session on 7 September, which is to deal with the government's tendered resignation, parties and politicians are lobbying intensively to influence the outcome of the vote. Prime Minister Lyuben Berov has said that if his resignation is not accepted by the assembly, he will ask for parliamentary confidence to continue in office until the coming spring. Leaders of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), which wants to pass a new election law before the parliament is dissolved, were quoted on 6 September as favoring a solution whereby the Berov team would stay on as a caretaker government. But after a meeting with BSP Chairman Jean Videnov, President Zhelyu Zhelev told Standart he would not approve the establishment of another "anemic" cabinet. Whereas the smaller caucuses all seem opposed to fall elections, the UDF faction is split over the issue. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc. BULGARIAN OPPOSITION SIGNS NEW COOPERATION ACCORD. On 6 September 17 member organizations of the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) signed a revised version of the cooperation accord first approved in September 1991. The document, which aims to prevent the coalition from partly disintegrating (as happened in 1993 and earlier this year), outlines the UDF's 12 key policy objectives, to be stressed in the next election campaign. It identifies the National Conference and its executive--the National Coordinating Council (NCC)--as the authoritative bodies for both policy and organizational matters and states that any violation of the accord will possibly lead to the expulsion of the offending member organization. The Democratic Party, whose leader, Stefan Savov, wants deputies and larger parties to have more say within the NCC, predictably refused to sign the accord. Savov has recently hinted that his party may soon leave the UDF. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc. ATHENS, TIRANA AWAIT ESPIONAGE VERDICT. After a three-week trial of five ethnic Greeks accused of espionage, the verdicts are expected to be announced in Tirana on 7 September. Western media report that tension on both sides is high and suggest that the outcome could either increase bilateral friction or trigger domestic disturbances. On 6 September Albanian presidential spokesman Genc Pollo said Tirana was still prepared to resume dialogue with Athens. In Greece, however, a government spokesman charged the Albanian authorities with detaining three Greek cameramen who wanted to film the trial. On 3 September US President Bill Clinton, in a letter to the leaders of both countries, expressed concern over rising bilateral tensions. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc. SHARP INCREASE IN NUMBER OF ALBANIAN PENSIONERS. Gazeta Shqiptare reports on 4 September that the past three years have witnessed a sharp increase in the number of Albanians receiving state pensions. By mid-year 1994, pensioners in Albania totaled 480,287 (out of an estimated population of 3.3 million), compared with 281,996 in 1991. The reasons for this sharp rise are economic and legal rather than demographic. For example, the new law on amnesty and the rehabilitation of politically persecuted people has contributed to the increase in the number of Albanians who qualify for a pension. So far, the pension plan has been financed by employer and employee contributions as well as by the state budget. As of this year, the state's contribution will be significantly reduced. Louis Zanga, RFE/RL, Inc. JIANG ZEMIN IN UKRAINE. On 6 September Chinese President Jiang Zemin arrived in Kiev for an official three-day visit. Jiang is to meet with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and other top officials. Ukraine and China established diplomatic relations in April 1992. China is Ukraine's largest trading partner outside the CIS, while Ukraine is China's second largest within the commonwealth. Trade between the two countries was worth $223 million in 1992 and grew to $587 million in 1993. Expanding bilateral economic relations is a priority stressed by both sides. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. FORMER BELARUSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER ACCUSED OF CORRUPTION. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka signed a decree accusing former Defense Minister Paval Kazlouski of having used his position for personal gain, Belarusian Radio reported on 5 September. The decree states that an investigation by the president's administration had found evidence of such abuse, citing the lavish wedding of Kazlouski's son to the daughter of Supreme Soviet Chairman Mechyslau Hryb on 11-12 June. The evidence was to be handed over to Prosecutor-General Vasil Shaladonau. The current defense minister, Anatol Kastenka, is to decide whether Kazlouski should be allowed to continue serving in the armed forces and what measures should be taken against other personnel who abuse their authority at the expense of the state. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. RETURN OF LITHUANIAN EMBASSY BUILDINGS. On 6 September Chairman of the Upper House of the Russian Federal Assembly Vladimir Shumeiko, after talks with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Povilas Gylys, said he would formally appeal to Russian President Boris Yeltsin to restore to Lithuania the buildings that belonged to its embassies in Paris and Rome before 1940, Radio Lithuania reports. Russia has until now refused to return these buildings to any of the Baltic States. The Bureau of the Council of Europe plans to call on Russia to return to the Baltic countries all real estate in Western Europe that it appropriated in 1940, BNS reported on 6 September. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. RENEWED CALLS FOR ESTONIAN PREMIER TO RESIGN. The Rural Center Party and the Social Democratic Party called on Mart Laar to resign as prime minister, BNS reported on 6 September. The call was prompted by the disclosure on 2 September that in violation of an agreement with Russia, Estonia had sold the 2.26 billion rubles withdrawn from circulation in 1992 (during the introduction of the kroon) to undisclosed third parties, rather than returning them to the Russian Central Bank. The whereabouts of these funds is unclear. The ruling coalition accused Laar of making the decision without consulting it. The Liberal Democratic Party and most members of the Republican and Conservative Parties left the ruling coalition in June; only the National Independence Party and some Pro Patria members support Laar. Social Affairs Minister Marju Lauristin, who leads the Social Democrats, expects an answer from Laar by 16 September. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. DISMANTLING OF PALDISKI REACTORS. The Estonian official supervising the dismantling of the two nuclear reactors at the submarine base at Paldiski said the equipment for removing the second reactor's nuclear rods would arrive by train on 7-12 September, BNS reported on 5 September. The first reactor was opened without incident on 24 August. Its rods are currently being removed, with an expected completion date of 15 September. It has not yet been announced when the second reactor will be opened, but the Russian commander of the base, Admiral Aleksandr Olkhovikov, has said all potentially dangerous work on the first reactor must be completed beforehand. Boris Papkovsky, deputy division head at the Russian Ministry of Nuclear Energy, says the rods should be removed from the second reactor by 20 October. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. CONTROVERSY OVER LATVIAN MEDIA LAW. Heated discussions have begun in Latvia over two draft laws on the electronic media. One of the bills was formulated under the leadership of the incumbent State Minister for Special Tasks Edvins Inkens, while the other was worked out by members of the parliament under the leadership of Deputy Anta Rugate. While there is general agreement that the existing media law, adopted in 1992, needs to be changed, there is discord over how oversight is to be exercised and the means of financing radio and television networks. Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc. [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Penny Morvant and Jan Cleave 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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