Old age is the most unexpected of all the things that happen to a man. - Leon Trotsky
RFE/RL Daily Report

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
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1996 Friends and Partners
Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole
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Updated: 1998-11-

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Please write to us with any comments, questions or suggestions -- Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole