|A disagreement may be the shortest cut between two minds. - Kahlil Gibran|
No. 171, 8 September 1994
RUSSIA UNEASY CALM IN CHECHNYA. ITAR-TASS characterized the situation in Grozny on 7 September as "quiet", noting however that armed control of all approach roads to the town had been intensified; Interfax quoted spokesmen for the Chechen military as stating that they had "no immediate plans" to make a further attempt to neutralize the opposition. An AFP reporter in Znamenskoe, the headquarters of the opposition Provisional Council, reported that a team of Russian mechanics had left there on 7 September after overhauling armored vehicles belonging to the opposition forces; she quoted a spokesman for Provisional Council Chairman Avturkhanov as affirming that the latter had received arms from Russia. In Moscow, the leaders of Democratic Russia and of the Russian Movement for Democratic Reforms urged President Boris Yeltsin to invite Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev to Moscow for talks, as did former Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi, who termed Russia's Caucasus policy "irresponsible", according to Interfax. For his part, Viktor Ilyukhin, the chairman of the Russian State Duma's security committee, advocated the use of force if necessary to restore "peace and order" in Chechnya. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. YELTSIN MOVES CLOSER TO CHECHEN CRISIS? According to ITAR-TASS and Russian television reports of 7 September, good weather has persuaded the Russian president to prolong his vacation on the Black Sea. After his visit to Germany last week, Yeltsin unexpectedly returned to Sochi, a resort in Krasnodar Krai, which is close to the breakaway republic of Chechnya. Apart from issuing a statement that the Russian Army will not be used against Dudaev, Yeltsin has not formally intervened in the Chechen crisis; however, the Federal Counterintelligence Service and the MVD, which are directly subordinate to Yeltsin, have been involved. Yeltsin's unplanned vacation suggests that he may have decided to follow the crisis at close quarters. Victor Yasmann, RFE/RL, Inc. CHURKIN ANNOUNCES "CONTACT GROUP" TO PRESS FOR LIFTING OF YUGOSLAV SANCTIONS. Following a meeting of the "contact group," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vitalii Churkin announced that the group would recommend that the UN Security Council consider lifting the sanctions on the rump Yugoslavia, AFP reported on 7 September. Churkin argued that easing the sanctions was justified by the fact that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic had imposed his own embargo on the Bosnian Serbs for their refusal to accept the international peace plan for Bosnia. But there appears to be disagreement within the "contact group" over the conditions Serbia must fulfill before the sanctions are lifted. While Russian officials have called for an immediate end to the embargo, on 7 September German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel reiterated a Western demand that Milosevic first agree to the presence of monitors along Serbia's border with Bosnia. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. GRACHEV VISITS EXERCISE, ANNOUNCES FUTURE EVENTS . . . Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev visited the Russo-American peacekeeping exercise at Totsk in Orenburg Oblast on 7 September and, according to ITAR-TASS, termed it an historic event despite its small scale. He also indicated that a follow-on exercise would be held next year in the United States and that joint maneuvers of Russian and German troops were being planned, although it had not yet been decided where these latter exercises would take place. Doug Clarke, RFE/RL, Inc. . . . WHILE SOME SEE SINISTER REASONS BEHIND PERRY'S ABSENCE. US Secretary of Defense William Perry had originally been scheduled to join Grachev at Totsk, but he canceled his visit owing to the troubles in the Caribbean. A columnist writing in the 7 September edition of Nezavisimaya gazeta scoffed at this official explanation. The real reason, he stated, was Perry's embarrassment over the paper's publication of a report by the Russian General Staff's Main Intelligence Directorate disclosing that some of the American exercise participants were Green Berets sent to reconnoiter for their wartime mission of operating behind the Russian front lines. Doug Clarke, RFE/RL, Inc. JOURNALISTS SOUND ALARM OVER PRESS FREEDOM. On 7 September the daily Moskovsky komsomolets published an article attacking the management of Ostankino TV for cutting an interview with former Azerbaijani President Ayaz Mutalibov from the edition of the political show "Politburo" broadcast on 2 September. The newspaper cited "Politburo's" anchor, Aleksandr Politkovsky, as saying that the text of the interview was absolutely harmless. It was censored on the request of company deputy chairman Georgii Shevelev because Azerbaijan's embassy in Moscow opposes all television appearances by Mutalibov, who was ousted a few years ago. This case comes amid growing concern in almost all prodemocracy newspapers over the future of press freedom in Russia because of rumors of plans by the government to set up a superministry to exert control over the printed and broadcasting media and to put the unpopular Mikhail Poltoranin in charge of this "super monster." Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL, Inc. LEBED ATTACKS ALBRIGHT. Citing Madeleine Albright's recent statement in Chisinau that the withdrawal of Russia's 14th Army from Moldova constitutes "an issue of primary importance to US foreign policy," that army's commander, Lt.-Gen. Aleksandr Lebed, demanded in an interview with the progovernment Rossiiskaya gazeta of 7 September "an adequate response by Russia's Foreign Ministry" to the US Permanent Representative to the UN. "I categorically oppose [the idea that] some woman, whatever her rank, should make decisions for the Russian state," he said. Lebed saw the statement as "yet another sign that they are openly and unceremoniously wiping their feet on us. . . . That statement is a link in the same chain as the plutonium scandal which aims to show the world that Russia can't control its nuclear weapons." Despite his personal conflict with the "Dniester" leaders, Lebed insisted that the "Dniester republic's" interests must be taken into account before any decision on withdrawal is made. Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. MOLDOVA SCORED FOR WESTERN ORIENTATION. Izvestiya of 6 September carried an attack by "Dniester" leader Igor Smirnov on Moldova for "trying to oust Russia from this region, promoting the extension of Western influence here, [and] forcing its way into international and European structures." Izvestiya cited Smirnov and others as insisting on recognition of the "Dniester republic" as a sine-qua-non for settlement of the conflict. Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIA AND THE KURDS. Speaking at a press conference in Moscow on 7 September to mark the tenth anniversary of the PKK's armed struggle for an independent state, the chairman of the National Liberation Front of Kurdistan in the CIS, Ahmad Dere, stressed that his organization, unlike the PKK, is fighting not for an independent state but for the national rights of the Kurdish population of southeastern Turkey, ITAR-TASS reported. Dere claimed that his organization, which in February sponsored a conference in Moscow on the Kurdish issue that evinced a diplomatic protest from Ankara, enjoys excellent relations with the Russian authorities; he warned "those CIS states" (i.e. Azerbaijan) that hope to expand cooperation with Turkey by building a pipeline for the export of oil via Eastern Anatolia that they should "take the Kurdish factor into account." In late August the Nakhichevan Interior Ministry claimed it had neutralized an armed formation led by a supporter of ousted president Abulfaz Elchibey that was suspected of selling arms to the PKK. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. EXPLOSION AT MVD BUILDING. A powerful explosion has destroyed a two-storey building in southeastern Moscow, Ostankino TV reported on 7 September. The building housed the 44th area office of the Moscow MVD and several other organizations. According to the Moscow department of the Ministry for Emergency Situations, at least six people were killed and several dozen injured in the blast; it is unclear whether MVD officers were among the victims. A spokesman for the ministry said that the cause of the explosion was being investigated but he did not rule out terrorism. Victor Yasmann, RFE/RL, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA TAJIK ELECTION DATE POSTPONED. A special session of Tajikistan's Supreme Soviet voted on 7 September to defer the presidential election and referendum on a new constitution to 6 November, Russian and Western news agencies reported. The original date for the election and referendum was 25 September, but outside pressure, particularly from Russia, the main supporter of the regime in Dushanbe, was exerted on the Tajik government to change the date of the election in the hope that the Tajik opposition might agree to participate. So far the opposition has refused to recognize the election, and Gorno-Badakhshan, the autonomous region in the Pamirs, may also refuse to participate. Tajik parliament chairman Imomali Rakhmonov told deputies at the special session that postponing the election would make possible the participation of refugees returning from Afghanistan and of various political parties and movements. Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc. DEFENDER OF RUSSIAN INTERESTS SENTENCED IN KAZAKHSTAN. According to a report broadcast by Russian TV on 7 September, Boris Suprunyuk, head of the Russian Society of northern Kazakhstan, was given a suspended sentence of two years imprisonment by a Petropavlovsk court. Suprunyuk, one of the main spokesmen for the interests of the Russian population of Kazakhstan, was arrested earlier in the year for inciting interethnic tension and insulting the dignity of the Kazakh people. He was released after an outcry in Russian Federation media. The Russian TV report on the trial described it as the first political trial of a Russian citizen in independent Kazakhstan. Suprunyuk himself complained on the air that the trial was stirring up "anti-Russian hysteria" in Kazakhstan. Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc. CIS CIS COORDINATING-CONSULTATIVE COMMITTEE MEETS. A one-day meeting in Moscow on 7 September of the CIS Coordinating Consultative Committee failed to finalize the drafts of the Treaty on and Provisions for an Inter-State Economic Committee, apparently because of disagreements over the proportional allocation of votes between the various member countries, Interfax reported. CIS Executive Secretary Ivan Korotchenya told Interfax that he was confident that an acceptable draft would be ready in time for the meeting of CIS Heads of State on 9 September, but he did not rule out "heated arguments" about the creation of the new Inter-State Economic Committee, which will be the first CIS structure endowed with executive powers. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIAN ORGANIZATION FOR "COMPATRIOTS IN NEAR ABROAD." Russian TV announced on 7 September the creation of an Assembly of Russian Compatriots to support Russian-speakers in the "near abroad." The founders include the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Finance, representatives of the Presidential Administration and the Presidential Council, centrist deputies in the State Duma, "large financial and industrial organizations," and prelates of the Russian Orthodox Church. The organization targets "all those who regard Russian as their native language," a definition that would greatly expand the constituency of 25 million ethnic Russians over whom Russia sometimes claims rights of protection in the "near abroad." The assembly will provide emergency economic relief to Russians on the stated assumption that they are being treated as "second-class people" in the "near abroad" in general. It will also assist Russians there to create their own businesses by providing preferential credits from Russian banks. The assembly's founding congress is scheduled for late autumn. Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE TIRANA COURT HANDS DOWN VERDICTS . . . International media report that a Tirana court on 7 September sentenced five ethnic Greeks to between six and eight years imprisonment on charges of espionage and illegal possession of arms. In passing the sentences, Judge Martin Deda said the court had enough evidence that the defendants--all members of the Greek Omonia movement--had collaborated with Greek security and intelligence agencies in smuggling arms and providing classified information about Albanian military installations. Implying there was a link to the attack--allegedly carried out by a Greek commando group--on an Albanian military training camp in April, Deda said the crimes had "threatened the very existence of Albania." Two Albanian soldiers were killed in the April attack. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc. . . . PROMPTING ANGRY GREEK REACTIONS. Greece reacted to the news by swiftly recalling its Tirana ambassador for consultations and issuing a series of strong statements. A government spokesman called the verdicts a "very strong provocation, beyond the bounds of legal practice and human rights." A few hours later, Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias told Greek Radio that the "masks have fallen in Tirana" and that Albania shows "no trace of progress or democratization." Opposition leaders Miltiades Evert and Andonis Samaras both urged the government to retaliate in a decisive manner, with Evert suggesting the seizure of all Albanian assets in Greece. The Financial Times of 8 September quotes government officials as calling for the "intensification" of present measures--for example, tightening border controls and expelling illegal Albanians. The newspaper says more than 40,000 Albanian emigrants have been deported since the trial began three weeks ago. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc. MILOSEVIC'S NEW PEACE OFFENSIVE? Borba reports that in a speech delivered on 7 September in the southern Serbian town of Vranje, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic said Belgrade was sincere about its intentions to work for peace in the Balkans. Describing rump Yugoslavia as the most powerful state in the region, Milosevic stressed it was Belgrade's obligation to be a guarantor of peace. He demanded that international sanctions against rump Yugoslavia be lifted and appealed for Serbia's reintegration into the community of nations. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. TUDJMAN: UNPROFOR MANDATE UP IN THE AIR. On 7 September Hina reported Croatian President Franjo Tudjman as saying Croatia may not renew UNPROFOR's peacekeeping mandate, due to expire on 30 September, if UNPROFOR fails to back Croatia's intent to exert de facto control over those areas of Croatia occupied by rebel Serbs and commonly known as Krajina. In the past, Zagreb has threatened several times not to renew the mandate but has never failed to do so. Reuters, however, reports that this time Tudjman may be more serious about his intentions. It says several factors, including Tudjman's belief that Belgrade may have to stop backing the Krajina Serbs, may increase the Croatian President's resolve. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. CROATIAN TEACHERS BENT ON "DESTABILIZING" THE STATE? Vjesnik reported on 7 September that Croatian Prime Minister Nikica Valentic had urged the country's striking teachers to go back to work. Valentic was reported as saying the current strike action was an attempt by the teachers to "destabilize and destroy" the government, according to Hina. Valentic also said the strikers' demand for higher wages would be met with a 15% pay hike but stressed there were no funds for further increases. Teachers began their strike action on 5 September. Their main demand is higher wages, which, according to officials of the teachers' union, were promised by Zagreb in April. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. POLISH CONCERN OVER "YALTA II." A report in The Washington Times on 6 September claiming the US administration is preparing to recognize the former Soviet Union as Russia's legitimate sphere of influence has reawakened fears in Poland that the US will sacrifice the interests of Central and Eastern Europe to reach a better understanding with Russia. The daily quoted a secret paper, purported to be the work of Deputy Secretary of State Peter Tarnoff, as saying that as long as Russia respected international law and American interests were not at risk, the US could accept Russia's foreign-policy ambitions. A State Department spokesman denied knowledge of such a paper, saying the ideas supposedly expressed in it did not reflect US policy. In a commentary on 7 September, Gazeta Wyborcza said US endorsement of "a second Yalta" would be tantamount to admitting that the attempt to transform Russia into a "normal Western country" had ended in a fiasco. Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka, RFE/RL, Inc. MECIAR'S PARTY LAUNCHES ATTACK ON PRESIDENT. Two deputies of former Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia have asked the Constitutional Court to examine "whether some steps and statements by President Michal Kovac were not unconstitutional." They claim Kovac violated the Slovak Constitution several times by "ignoring the constitutional and human rights of Slovak citizens." Slovak media report that at an election rally in Kosice on 7 September, Meciar launched an attack on Kovac. He commented that the president's speech on the eve of the election campaign "was driven by fear." Kovac had said Slovakia needed a government that strove for reconciliation, respect, and tolerance, and he had warned against an executive with a "strong hand." Meciar said that after the elections, his party would establish a parliamentary committee tasked with investigating the president's "unconstitutional" actions. He also commented that it would be better if Kovac resigned. Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc. G-24 SUPPORT FOR SLOVAK GOVERNMENT. Speaking at a press conference in Bratislava on 7 September, the general director of the Foreign Relations Department at the European Commission, Horst Krenzler, noted that the support for Slovakia's economic policies shown by representatives of the G-24 countries was also support for the current Slovak government. Krenzler, who was taking part in a G-24 conference in Slovakia, said if that country's current economic stabilization program succeeded, there would be no need for further financial assistance to Slovakia. He also confirmed that the G-24 countries would grant a $245 million loan to Slovakia to increase the country's hard-currency reserves. Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTER CRITICIZES BALLADUR. Eduard Kukan told journalists in Bratislava on 7 September that Slovakia "demands an explanation of the recent statements made by French Prime Minister Edouard Balladur in Le Figaro." Balladur had said no changes of borders in Europe were possible and that was "why France proposed the Pact of Stability in Europe." He had also said he hoped a conference scheduled for 1995 would solve, among others, "the question of the Hungarian minority in Central Europe and problematic relations between Russia and the Baltic States." In Kukan's opinion, Balladur had narrowed the agenda of the Pact of Stability to the issue of the Hungarian minority in Central Europe and that was "unacceptable to Slovakia." He stressed that such statements do not "reflect the situation of the Hungarian minority in Slovakia." Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc. CONSTRUCTION STARTS ON GYOR-BAUMGARTEN PIPELINE. Construction of a gas pipeline that will join the Hungarian network with Western Europe began on 7 September, MTI reports. The two-way pipeline, which is to run from Gyor to Baumgarten, will play an important role in supplying both Austria and Hungary with up to 4.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas each year. This means that Hungary will no longer be entirely dependent on natural gas from the East. The pipeline is due to be completed by October 1996. Judith Pataki, RFE/RL, Inc. BULGARIAN OPPOSITION RALLY. Several thousand sympathizers of the anticommunist Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) gathered in downtown Sofia on 7 September to call for the resignation of the current government and early general elections. UDF Chairman Filip Dimitrov and other leaders, addressing the rally, stressed the deepening rift between the UDF executive and its parliamentary group. They denounced the efforts of several UDF deputies to delay general elections as well as the caucus's decision the previous day to expel Edvin Sugarev, an uncompromising anticommunist legislator. The leaders of three of the UDF's largest member organizations--the Democratic Party, the Radical Democratic Party, and the Bulgarian Agrarian National Union "Nikola Petkov"--did not attend the rally. Earlier, the parliamentary debate on the government's resignation had been suspended. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc. UKRAINIAN-US MILITARY EXERCISES. Ukrainian Television reports that from 6 to 16 September Ukrainian airmobile units are to conduct exercises with American units in North Carolina. It is also reported that Ukrainian naval units have completed a training course with French and Romanian counterparts off the northwestern coast of the Black Sea. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. UKRAINIAN SECURITY SERVICE. On 6 September Ukrainian Television reported on the Ukrainian security service (SBU). It emphasized that the service's tasks differed from those of the former Ukrainian KGB. While the KGB had concerned itself with the activities of the country's citizens, the SBU was primarily concerned with fighting organized crime and stabilizing the economy by rooting out white-collar economic offenses. The SBU was created when Ukraine gained independence in 1991. Since then, it has investigated more than 1,300 economic crimes, including corruption in lower-ranking ministries and among top bank officials. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. CRIMEAN PARLIAMENT CURBS MESHKOV'S POWERS. On 7 September Reuters reported that the Crimean parliament voted by 64 to 20 to reduce Crimean President Yurii Meshkov's powers to those of head of government and create a collective head of state made up of parliamentary leaders. They also voted to strip Meshkov of the right to appoint regional prefects and call referendums without consulting the parliament. Meshkov declared the parliament's move unconstitutional and walked out before the vote was taken. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. CRIMEAN DEPUTY LEVELS SENSATIONAL CHARGES. Crimean deputy Volodymyr Sheviov told reporters on 6 September that the assassinations of politicians and leading officials in Crimea had not been ordered by organized criminal gangs but by political activists in Crimea who represented the Russian population on the peninsula. Sheviov did not identify the offenders but said he had given their names to the head of the Supreme Council of Crimea and the Interior Ministry. Parliamentary speaker Serhii Tsepkov confirmed he had received such a report from Sheviov and said he had handed it over to the Crimean prosecutor-general's office. The alarming number of attacks on officials in Crimea prompted deputies this summer to vote themselves the right to carry firearms during parliamentary sessions. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. BELARUS MAY JOIN PARTNERSHIP FOR PEACE. Belarusian Foreign Minister Uladzimir Syanko said Belarus might join NATO's Partnership for Peace program, Belinform-TASS reported on 6 September. According to Syanko, Belarus had been reluctant to commit itself because the country's leaders needed time to examine all the obligations, particularly financial, the program would entail. He said Belarus had no intention of participating in military exercises at present because of the costs of such undertakings, commenting that Belarus would focus instead on establishing contacts with other countries. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIANS IN MOLDOVA: "NO COMPLAINT" FROM RUSSIA. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Krylov, responsible for relations with CIS member states, told Interfax on 7 September that "Russia has no complaint with Chisinau about the overall situation of ethnic Russians." He added, without giving details, that there had been complaints in the past, but "Moldova's leadership has substantially set things right." Krylov's remarks constitute Moscow's first-known public acknowledgment of the situation in Moldova, in effect confirming international findings since 1991, when the country became independent. Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. MOLDOVA APPEALS FOR INTERNATIONAL RELIEF. In a letter to the UN, issued on 6 September as a General Assembly document, Moldovan President Mircea Snegur appealed for international assistance in the wake of a drought--the second in three years--followed by hurricanes and floods. The appeal said grain, flour, construction materials, and medicine were needed immediately. Most crops have been destroyed and the country's export capacity wiped out until next year. Damage estimates are in the range of $0.5 billion--approximating planned budget expenditures for 1994. Unless massive aid is provided, Moldova will be forced to import food for its population and livestock, switch its meager resources to disaster relief and reconstruction, and run a substantial budget deficit, undermining its otherwise stable national currency and setting back its reform programs, which international organizations have praised as a regional example. Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. ROMANIA HOLDS BACK ON MOLDOVA AID. Having failed to react to Moldova's drought and having announced after the August floods that any aid to Moldova would be left to private initiatives, the Romanian government said on 2 September it would send aid worth only $588,000 to Moldova. Four days later, on 6 September, the first Romanian relief transport crossed into Moldova. The same day a train loaded with donated construction materials arrived in Moldova from Uzbekistan, Interfax reported. Ukrainian relief transports, donated by the Odessa region, began arriving as early as 31 August. The Kiev government has allocated the equivalent of $5 million for Moldova relief, Interfax reported on 7 September. Since the end of August the Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations has delivered several plane-loads of relief. The city of Moscow has allocated the equivalent of $10 million for aid to Moldova, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 September. Moldovan Prime Minister Andrei Sangheli omitted Romania from an address thanking donor countries, reported by ITAR-TASS. What Moldovan officials described to Basapress on 5 September as Bucharest's "restraint" reflects its frosty political attitude toward Chisinau. Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER IN BUCHAREST. On 7 September French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe began a two-day official visit to Romania. Juppe met with his Romanian counterpart, Teodor Melescanu, to discuss ways to boost bilateral relations. He also held talks with Romanian Premier Nicolae Vacaroiu, the chairmen of the parliament's two chambers, and other high-ranking Romanian officials. Juppe is also scheduled to meet with President Ion Iliescu. Radio Bucharest quoted Juppe as saying his country was interested in having "a privileged relationship" with Romania in all fields, including politics, the economy, and culture. Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL, Inc. AMENDMENTS TO LITHUANIAN CONSTITUTION. On 7 September Justinas Karosas, the head of the Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party (LDLP) faction in the Seimas, announced his party would propose three amendments to the constitution during the fall parliamentary session, scheduled to begin on 10 September, Radio Lithuania reports. The amendments would allow foreigners to purchase land, extend local councils' terms of office from two to three or four years, and reduce the number of seats in the Seimas from 141 to less than 100. In order to pass, the amendments have to gain the approval of at least 95 deputies in two separate votes at least three months apart. Since the ruling LDLP has only 70 deputies, the passage of the amendments will depend on the support of many opposition deputies. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. INFLATION IN ESTONIA. The State Statistical Office announced that the consumer price index rose by 1% in August, BNS reported on 7 September. The previous month it increased by 2.8%. The costs of manufactured goods rose by 1.9%, housing by 3.3%, and services by 2.5%. Food prices declined by 1.2%, with the largest decreases registered by fruits and vegetables (13.9%), dairy products and eggs (4.0%), and fats (3.5%). The costs of goods and services in August were on average 50.6% higher than a year ago. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. 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