|Increase The Peace. - John Singleton|
RFE/RL Daily Report
No. 175, 14 September 1994
RUSSIA RUSSIA'S ADMISSION TO COUNCIL OF EUROPE DISCUSSED. A delegation from the Council of Europe headed by its new secretary-general, Daniel Tarschys (Sweden), and the chairman of its Committee of Ministers, Stanislav Daskalov (Bulgaria), is currently in Moscow to discuss Russia's admission to the organization. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, and State Duma Chairman Ivan Rybkin were cited by ITAR-TASS on 12 and 13 September as hoping that Russia could become a full member in the first half of 1995. They also accused the Baltic States of human rights violations and said that the Council would be an important avenue for Russia to air those complaints. Tarschys was quoted as pointing out that Russia would have to adjust its legislation, particularly that concerning human rights, to meet general European norms. The reports from Russian government sources did not mention whether such issues as state measures to control the media or the presence and operations of Russian troops in independent states were discussed or not. The latter issue came up at a Council of Europe forum held at the same time in Germany (see Central and Eastern Europe section below). Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL Inc. COMMITTEE QUESTIONS BURLAKOV APPOINTMENT. Sergei Yushenkov, chairman of the State Duma's Committee for Defense, suggested that the appointment of Colonel General Matvei Burlakov to the post of deputy defense minister on 26 August might have been too hasty. Burlakov was the last commander of the Western Group of Forces in the former East Germany. Charges of corruption have been directed at Burlakov and other top commanders in Germany for several years, but they have never been proved. According to an Interfax report on 13 September, Yushenkov's committee is going to look into the matter again. He claimed that some of the military property that had arrived in the Urals Military District from Germany was in very poor condition, raising the possibility that the original equipment had been sold and replaced with discarded items. Doug Clarke, RFE/RL Inc. MOSCOW MAYOR DEFENDS PROSECUTOR PONOMAREV. It is unlikely that acting Russian Prosecutor-General Aleksei Ilyushenko will succeed in the near future in his alleged intention of dismissing Moscow Prosecutor Gennadii Ponomarev (see RFE/RL Daily Report, 12 September). According to Russian media reports, at a 13 September working conference on the crime situation in Moscow the achievements of Ponomarev's office received high praise. The meeting was attended by Ilyushenko, Russian Minister of Internal Affairs Viktor Erin, and Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, who is generally reputed to be one of the three most influential Russian officials and a close friend of Ponomarev. In the last 12 months, the reports on the conference disclosed, the clear-up rate of Ponomarev's office rose from 47% to almost 58%. Luzhkov told Russian Television on 13 September that the crime situation in Moscow was indeed a pressing problem, but he said that this was due to the fact that, as the country's capital, Moscow naturally attracted criminals from all parts of the former Soviet Union. Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL Inc. LAWYERS DISCUSS DRAFT LAW ON DEFENSE COUNSELS. Members of all the bar collegiums, taking part in the congress of Russian lawyers currently under way in Moscow, participated in a discussion on the draft Russian law on defense counsels, Russian Television's "Vesti" said on 13 September. Compared with their Western colleagues, Russian defense lawyers have been virtually powerless to defend their clients. According to the reports, if the new law is adopted it will "strengthen the guarantees of the independence and immunity of defense lawyers in Russia and widen their procedural rights." (No precise details of these guarantees were provided in the reports.) Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL Inc. NO STABILIZATION OF VODKA MARKET EXPECTED. The "stabilization of the market" in alcoholic beverages has been postponed indefinitely, Russian Television "Vesti" newscasts noted in reporting a session of the governmental Commission for Operational Questions devoted to the declining output and sale of alcohol in Russia, which ended inconclusively. Chaired by First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets, it was held on 13 September. Reports to the session blamed the pressing problems of the country's vodka industry on unreasonably high excise duties that make it impossible for Russian distilleries to compete with foreign brands, such as the German vodka "Rasputin." As a result, the famous Moscow Kristall distillery today produces only one third of its former output and is on the verge of bankruptcy. Meanwhile, officials told the session, the profits on illegally produced cheap liquor sold on the black market constitute the equivalent of nearly 50% of Russia's total excise duties. Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL Inc. TURKEY'S NEW BOSPORUS RULES CRITICIZED. The Standing Commission for Foreign Political Affairs of the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly has issued a statement charging that the new rules for the transit of the Turkish straits do not add to navigational safety but instead create new threats. The Turkish government promulgated the new rules in January and they went into effect on 1 July. As reported by Interfax on 13 September, the commission charged that some of the new rules were not in line with the 1936 Montreux Convention, which governs shipping through the straits. Russia has protested to Turkey over several of the new regulations, such as the requirement to give 24 hours' notice before the passage of oil tankers and the need for nuclear-powered vessels or those with nuclear waste or chemicals on board to get a special permit from the Turkish authorities. Doug Clarke, RFE/RL Inc. RUSSIAN-GREEK PIPELINE DEAL SIGNED. A private Greek consortium has signed a protocol with Russia's Gazprom to build a 350-km pipeline from the Bulgarian port of Burgas to Alexandroupolis in northeastern Greece, the Financial Times reported on 12 September. The pipeline, which will take three years to build at a cost of $600 million, will obviate the transport of Russian, Kazakh, and Azerbaijani oil by tanker from Novorossiisk via the Turkish straits; it will carry 20-40 million tons of oil per year. The Greek and Bulgarian state oil companies are expected to participate in the project. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA TWO RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPERS SHOT DEAD IN ABKHAZIA. Two Russian soldiers were killed and a third wounded on 13 September when gunmen, identified by the chief of staff of the peacekeeping forces as Mingrelian-speaking former residents of Abkhazia, opened fire on their car in Gali Raion, Interfax and Western agencies reported. Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev said that an investigation would be launched into the incident and "the toughest sanctions" imposed on the party responsible. Speaking in Moscow, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Demurin said that the efficiency of the entire peacekeeping operation would be in doubt if progress was not swiftly made on the repatriation of Georgian refugees, according to Interfax. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL Inc. DISTURBANCE IN KAZAKHSTAN OVER BREAD PRICE INCREASE. A report on Kazakhstan state TV of imminent increases in the price of bread has unleashed panic, ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported on 13 September, quoting the newspaper of Kazakhstan's Supreme Soviet, Sovety Kazakhstana. In the city of Shymkent customers who had stood in line for hours broke the windows and doors of shops and looted one bread store. The removal of price controls on bread has been under discussion for months in Kazakhstan; as ITAR-TASS noted, state prices for bread products have been three to five times lower than production costs, and Kazakhstan's government can no longer afford to subsidize bread. It cannot even purchase enough grain from the 1994 harvest to meet its own procurement target. Bess Brown, RFE/RL Inc. TAJIK TROOPS TRY TO RETAKE TAVIL-DARA. Russian news agencies reported on 13 September that Tajik government troops were launching an offensive to drive Tajik opposition forces out of Tavil-Dara Raion in the mountains east of Dushanbe. Opposition units had seized control of the region a few days earlier. The Tajik air force was reported to have bombed opposition positions, and several villages were abandoned by their inhabitants, around 800 of whom fled to Gorno-Badakhshan. Opposition forces took control of parts of the Tavil-Dara area in the summer of 1993 as well, blocking the main road from Dushanbe to Gorno-Badakhshan for weeks. Bess Brown, RFE/RL Inc. GRACHEV CALLS FOR STRONGER "FIST" IN TAJIKISTAN. Talking to journalists on 13 September, as cited by ITAR-TASS, Defense Minister Grachev called for the formation of a stronger group of forces in Tajikistan on what he termed "the CIS border," in order "to deal powerful and painful blows to the bandit formations." He also called for the border troops to be integrated with the army into a single powerful "fist." Grachev forecast that the situation in the region would become "more acute." Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL Inc. TAJIK OPPOSITION PARTY CONSIDERS PARTICIPATION IN ELECTION. Tajikistan's Democratic Party is considering taking part in the presidential election, now scheduled for November, party leaders in exile in Moscow told ITAR-TASS on 13 September. The Democrats are the first opposition group to consider participation in the election. The party, one of the main elements in the coalition of democratic, nationalist, and Islamic groups that tried to dislodge communist rule from Tajikistan in 1992 and has been accused by the country's neocommunist rulers of having unleashed the 1992 civil war, was banned in Tajikistan in 1993. ITAR-TASS quoted diplomatic sources at talks now under way in Tehran between the Tajik government and opposition as saying that the nationalist Rastokhez movement may also decide to participate in the election. The leader of the Islamic Renaissance Movement, Akbar Turadzhonzoda, has said that the opposition will not recognize the election, much less take part. Bess Brown, RFE/RL Inc. KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT ASKS PRESIDENT TO SET ELECTION DATE. In an emergency session attended by only 83 of the Kyrgyz Supreme Soviet's 323 deputies, Kyrgyzstan's legislature called on President Askar Akaev to set a date for a parliamentary election, Interfax reported on 13 September. Lack of a quorum made it impossible for the parliament even to vote for its own dissolution. Most deputies refused to attend the session, setting off a crisis that led to the resignation of the government. Under Kyrgyzstan's constitution the president may not dissolve parliament, but it may set a date for new elections. Bess Brown, RFE/RL Inc. CIS CIS PARLIAMENTARY BODIES URGE STEPPED-UP INTEGRATION. At a meeting that has been under way since 9 September near Batumi, the Commissions for Foreign Affairs and for Legal Affairs of the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly are preparing a "model civil code of the CIS states," proposals on the formation of "peacemaking" forces of the CIS, and "a joint approach to the foreign policy of CIS states," according to ITAR-TASS and Ostankino Television reports. The model civil code is being described as "a second constitution for each state." The reports did not say how many member states are participating in these discussions or support such proposals. Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL Inc. CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE CRIMEAN CRISIS CONTINUES. The Crimean parliament convened an emergency session on 13 September after Crimean President Yurii Meshkov ended his seizure of the parliament building. Meshkov suspended the parliament on 11 September and declared presidential rule after the parliament passed legislation curbing his powers. He also barred deputies from the parliament building. Deputy parliament chairman Alexii Melnokov said Meshkov decided to allow deputies into the parliament in response to statements that they would hold talks with the government only if they were allowed inside the building. Interfax reports that during the emergency session deputies rejected Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma's proposal that both the parliament and the president withdraw the legislation that had prompted the crisis. Parliament chairman Sergii Tsekov said he was ready to hold talks with Meshkov on ending the power struggle. Meshkov, who has asked parliament leaders to meet with him on 14 September, is quoted as saying he is willing to make compromises to end the political crisis. On 13 September international media reported that Meshkov sent a note to Kuchma accusing a large part of the Crimean parliament of harboring desires to secede from Ukraine. Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL Inc. CHOLERA REPORTED IN CRIMEA . . . International media reported on 13 September that in Crimea 21 people have been stricken with cholera and another 65 are carrying the disease. According to the Crimean authorities, the cholera outbreak is centered on Simferopol, the republic's capital. Some 22 schools have been closed in an effort to stop the disease from spreading and two special hospitals dealing with cholera cases have been set up. No cases have been reported on Crimea's southern coast. Anatolii Padchenko, director of epidemic control in Ukraine's Ministry of Health, says contaminated drinking water is responsible for the outbreak. He predicts that the number of those affected is likely to rise. Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL Inc. . . . AND IN ALBANIA. Albanian Health Minister Maksin Cikuli said on 13 September that at least three people have died of cholera in the last 10 days. Residents in some neighborhoods of Tirana have been warned not to drink tap water. The disease appears to be spreading in several small towns, possibly through polluted water. Cikuli said the three deaths were of cholera patients in the southern town of Kucova. RFE/RL News and Current Affairs PROMINENT SERB JOURNALIST FOUND DEAD. Beta and SRNA reported on 13 September that the prominent Bosnian Serb television commentator Risto Djogo was found dead the same day in a lake near Bosnia's border with Serbia. It was reported that he may have died at or near a motel in the town of Zvornik during the evening of 9-10 September. Djogo was an outspoken supporter of Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and recently a vehement critic of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, particularly after the blockade against the Bosnian Serbs was implemented. Djogo was also known for his anti-Muslim rhetoric and at times seemed to be condoning the practice of ethnic cleansing. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL Inc. BOSNIAN SERB COMMANDER WOUNDED? Sarajevo Radio reported on 13 September that Ratko Mladic, commander of the Bosnian Serb army, was wounded during fighting in the Bihac region the same day. The local radio station also filed similar reports, which have yet to be confirmed by outside sources. Mladic's current condition is unknown. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL Inc. CROAT SUSPECTS ARRESTED IN CONNECTION WITH ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT. The Bosnian Croat military authorities have said that a number of suspects--all demobilized members of the Croat Defense Council military police--have been arrested in connection with the assassination attempt against European Union administrator Hans Koschnik, Hina reports on 13 September. The suspects, while allegedly under the influence of alcohol, fired a rocket on the night of 10 September into Koschnik's hotel room in the city of Mostar. The names of the accused are being withheld. Mostar's Croat police chief, Zdenko Klepic, has been released from duty for his apparent role in the assassination attempt. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL Inc. OBSERVERS MAY BE DISPATCHED TO SERBIA. AFP reported on 13 September that the five-country "contact group," meeting in Geneva, resolved to dispatch civilian observers along Serbia's border with Bosnia in order to monitor rump Yugoslavia's blockade of the Bosnian Serbs and to ensure that only humanitarian aid is allowed to pass. The decision came in response to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's tacit agreement to have 60-150 sanctions monitors posted along the rump Yugoslav-Bosnian border. As yet, no deployment date for the observers has been set. But international mediator Lord Owen, speaking to Reuters television from Geneva, said Belgrade's blockade of the Bosnian Serbs may pave the way for easing sanctions against rump Yugoslavia in the near future. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL Inc. ROW OVER ZLOTY DEVALUATION. The Polish National Bank reduced from 1.6% to 1.5% the monthly devaluation rate of the Polish zloty against the basket of hard currencies, composed of the US dollar (45% share), German mark (35%), the British pound (10%), and French and Swiss francs (5% each). A spokesman for the bank told PAP on 13 September that the decision would cause only a slight decrease in Poland's hard-currency reserves while reducing the cost to the bank of creating such reserves. He explained that the accumulation of large reserves had led to an outflow of zloty and had tended to fuel inflation. Reducing the devaluation rate, he said, would increase the profitability of zloty savings and keep inflation down. The bank's spokesman denied that the decision would adversely affect exports, claiming that market conditions were advantageous to Polish exporters and that current reserves would suffice for foreign debt repayments. After the bank's decision went into effect, the Finance Ministry claimed it had not been consulted. The government charged that the measure blocked Poland's economic development and made the Polish economy less competitive. It also demanded that the bank lower interest rates to offset the expected repercussions and accused the bank of breaking the law by making a decision that belonged to the Council of Ministers. The bank countered that it was acting within its rights. A report in Rzeczpospolita on 14 September quoted Bank Chairman Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz as saying she had gained the prior approval of Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak. Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka, RFE/RL Inc. RUEHE: POLAND IN NATO BY 2000. Polish and German Defense Ministers Piotr Kolodziejczyk and Volker Ruehe were guests of honor at the signing in Neubrandenburg on 13 September of a cooperation agreement between the 12th Polish Mechanized Division and the 14th German Panzer Division. The agreement, the first of its kind in the history of the two armies, was hailed by both ministers as a historic step toward future cooperation. It provides for short-term reciprocal training programs, exchange of observers with the prospect of joint maneuvers in the future, and cooperation in the areas of munitions, command experience, culture, and sports, PAP reports. Ruehe reiterated his "wholehearted support" for Poland's integration with NATO and his conviction that this would happen by the year 2000, German TV reports. Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka, RFE/RL Inc. CZECH CONSTITUTIONAL COURT UPHOLDS CITIZENSHIP LAW. The Czech Constitutional Court rejected on 13 September a proposal by 46 opposition deputies to abolish several articles in the 1993 Citizenship Law. The deputies argued, among other things, that the law discriminates against some Slovak applicants for Czech citizenship by stipulating that the applicant have no criminal conviction in the five years preceding his application. This requirement, which some deputies have called "a Gypsy clause," is regarded as having prevented thousands of Slovak Gypsies who migrated to the Czech republic before the split of Czechoslovakia from taking up Czech citizenship. The court ruled that the deputies' arguments were "speculative and unfounded" and the conditions set by the citizenship law not discriminatory. CTK reports that in 1993, some 65,000 Czechs applied for and received Slovak citizenship and that 14,000 applications are currently being processed. Some 310,000 Slovaks opted for Czech citizenship between January 1993 and June 1994, when Slovaks citizens who had resided in the Czech Republic for at least two years were eligible for that country's citizenship. Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL Inc. CZECH PRIME MINISTER DENIES MEDIA INTERFERENCE. Speaking on Czech Radio on 13 September, Vaclav Klaus once again denied having ordered the removal of Pavel Safr, editor in chief of the newspaper Telegraf, who published articles critical of the government. Klaus argued that "the idea of the media being run by parties" was absurd. Charges against Klaus and Petr Cermak, deputy chairman of the ruling Civic Democratic Party, were leveled by Safr and 17 Telegraf employees at the beginning of September. Both Klaus and Cermak immediately dismissed the charges as un-founded. In an interview with Lidove Noviny on 7 September, Bohumil Dolezal, Klaus's former head adviser, said he left the CDP in protest at the party's interference in the media. In his opinion, Klaus may have not been directly involved in the removal of Safr but the CDP leadership undoubtedly was. Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL Inc. SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER MEETS WITH FOREIGN JOURNALISTS. Jozef Moravcik told foreign journalists in Bratislava on 13 September that Slovakia needs "the spirit of cooperation among its political parties and not the spirit of confrontation." He said that while he could imagine becoming an opposition politician after the upcoming parliamentary elections, the continuation of the current government coalition would be ideal for Slovakia. Moravcik argued that the coalition's performance to date has shown that "political groups in Slovakia can find a common language, despite differences of opinion." Commenting on Slovakia's relations with the Czech Republic, Moravcik said the only serious problems are the uncertain fate of the Czech-Slovak clearing account, used for payments in bilateral trade, and the division of former federal property. The premier also said that "historic reconciliation" between Hungary and Slovakia is a condition for integration into Europe, though the Gabcikovo dam and the Hungarian minority in Slovakia remain bones of contention. Moravcik emphasized that Slovakia will promote the individual rights of ethnic Hungarians, but he ruled out "regional autonomy" for the Hungarian minority. Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL Inc. FORMER MINISTER FILES CHARGES AGAINST SLOVAK GOVERNMENT. Slovak media report that Roman Hofbauer, the former minister of transportation and telecommunications and an ally of former Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, has asked the prosecutor-general to investigate "the steps, actions, intentions, and objectives of the current government concerning privatization of the property of the Slovak Republic." Several Slovak newspapers, in particular those supporting the current government, have dismissed Hofbauer's action as an election ploy. Pravda of 13 September calls it "private propaganda at the expense of the state." Sme writes that Hofbauer's action--as well as charges filed recently by Ivan Lexa, Meciar government's chief of staff, against the director of the National Property Fund--does not live up to the election slogan of Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia. The slogan, which is part of the MDF's campaign video clip called "Vivat Slovakia," promises "no more conflicts." Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL Inc. ILIESCU URGES NATIONAL CONSENSUS. Addressing the two chambers of Romania's parliament on 13 September, President Ion Iliescu called for a national consensus to speed up privatization, fight corruption, consolidate the rule of law, and integrate Romania into European structures. Iliescu said privatization and other economic reforms should be pursued regardless of what political forces are in power. He urged foreign investors to do business in Romania and have trust in the country's economic future. He noted that the postcommunist economic decline has now been halted and growth can be expected to start next year. Radio Bucharest broadcast the 45-minute speech live. Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL Inc. IMF LOAN TO BULGARIA, ZHELEV MEETS POLITICAL LEADERS. The International Monetary Fund has approved a $102 million loan to Bulgaria, doubling an amount agreed to earlier this year, Reuters reports on 13 September. The money is slated to be used to support Bulgaria's efforts to service its foreign debt. The same day Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev opened talks with parliamentary leaders in a bid to facilitate the formation of a new government. On 8 September the Bulgarian National Assembly accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Lyuben Berov's cabinet. Under the Bulgarian Constitution, parliament has three chances to form a government. If a new government is not formed, Zhelev will have to appoint an interim cabinet and call elections within two months. Berov's cabinet is to remain in office for the time being. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL Inc. COUNCIL OF EUROPE SUPPORTS MOLDOVA ON RUSSIAN TROOP ISSUE. At a recent meeting in Weimar, the Political Commission of the Council of Europe discussed admitting new members, including Russia and Moldova, to the council. The chairman of the Moldovan parliament's Foreign Affairs Commission, Dumitru Diacov, who represented his country at the meeting, told ITAR-TASS on 13 September that Moldova supports Russia's admission as important to Russian democracy but on condition that Russia guarantees to withdraw its troops from Moldova within three years, as stipulated in the agreement recently initialed but not signed with Moldova. The Moldovan delegation also drew the forum's attention to the activities of "pro-imperial forces" in Russia. Diacov said that many delegations supported Moldova's position and that his country, which currently has guest status, may become a full member of the council by mid-1995. Vladimir Socor , RFE/RL Inc. MOLDOVAN-ROMANIAN FENCES NOT MENDED. After visiting a number of countries since his appointment six months ago, Moldovan Foreign Minister Mihai Popov paid his first visit to Romania on 12 and 13 September at the invitation of his counterpart, Teodor Melescanu. Popov also met with President Ion Iliescu, Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu, and parliamentary leaders. The Romanian media reported that Senate Chairman Oliviu Gherman spoke of "ups and downs in the relations, with the downs being sometimes overemphasized." Chamber of Deputies Chairman Adrian Nastase hoped to "bring relations back to a normal course." But all Romanian officials reaffirmed the concepts of "two Romanian states" and "one nation," which are objectionable to Chisinau. No headway was made on the bilateral treaty, which is deadlocked over Romania's insistence that these and similar formulations be included, nor on other contentious issues such as citizenship and official Romanian support for Moldova's opposition. All these issues were raised by Popov. Vladimir Socor , RFE/RL Inc. BALTIC PREMIERS REJECT MILITARY COOPERATION WITH RUSSIA. At a news conference in Riga on 13 September, the Latvian, Lithuanian, and Estonian prime ministers ruled out signing an agreement on military cooperation with Russia, Interfax reported. They were responding to a recent suggestion by Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev. Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Birkavs said security in the Baltics depends on security guarantees within the context of existing accords such as the agreement on the Russian radar station in Skrunda. Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL Inc. RUTSKOI ON RUSSIAN-BALTIC RELATIONS. Former Russian Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi told BNS in Kaliningrad on 13 September that Moscow must build its relations with the Baltic States on "historical truth." He explained that the map of the region in 1915 shows no independent states but "the great power Russia." Rutskoi also noted that "great Russia" should be restored within the boundaries of the former Soviet Union but at the same time nations should be granted the right to exercise their free will. He commented that all parts of the former USSR are geopolitically linked and added that "absolute sovereignty and independence do not exist." Commenting on the withdrawal of Russian troops from the Baltics and Germany, Rutskoi said this was "humiliating" both politically and economically and claimed "nobody pulls out troops like this. The Socialist military bloc ceased to exist long ago, but NATO and its troops are still there." Rutskoi did not explain where "there" was. Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL Inc. 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