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No. 188, 4 October 1994
RUSSIA CHECHNYA ROUNDUP. Military helicopters attacked the Chechen village of Kalinovsky on 2 October, killing one person, according to Russian and Western agencies citing the Chechen National Information Department. A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman denied any involvement. A similar helicopter attack was launched on 3 October against a military post outside Grozny. In an interview given to ITAR-TASS on 2 October, Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev stated that a detailed plan to defend Chechnya's independence had been adopted by the Chechen Security Council the previous day. He denied the existence of a political opposition in Chechnya and laid the blame for the ongoing standoff on the Russian leadership. On 3 October, ITAR-TASS reported that Chechen Foreign Minister Shambeddin Yusef had sent a message to Turkish President Suleyman Demirel requesting help in defending Chechnya's independence. -- Liz Fuller, RFE/RL Inc. COMMUNISTS MAY JOIN THE GOVERNMENT, FILATOV SAYS. Interviewed by Interfax on 2 October, the leader of the Russian Communist Party, Gennadii Zyuganov, denied having discussed the possibility that his party might participate in a coalition government under current Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. The interview was occasioned by a flood of speculation in the Russian media over a statement by Sergei Filatov, the powerful head of the Presidential Administration. Filatov had told a news conference the previous day that representatives of the parliamentary opposition, including some Communists, "may" be included in the government. (The final decision as to who would enter the government, Filatov added, would be determined by the candidates' qualifications, rather than by their political affiliation.) Zyuganov, in turn, told Interfax that he had indeed met Chernomyrdin recently but added that they had discussed "other" (unspecified) matters, not the formation of a coalition government. -- Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL Inc. BOTH SIDES COMMEMORATE VICTIMS OF OCTOBER 1993 CONFLICT. The anniversary of the bloody clashes between President Boris Yeltsin's administration and supporters of the Russian parliament on 3 and 4 October 1993 were marked by both sides with religious services on Sunday, 2 October. On 2 and 3 October the communist and ultranationalist opposition also held rallies, which were attended by a few thousand supporters. Demonstrators carried portraits of those killed by OMON riot police or shot in the course of the tank fire on the parliament building, as well as anti-government and anti-Semitic slogans. Addressing the crowd, former Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi and other prominent hard-line politicians opined that the Yeltsin regime was doomed. Activists collected signatures for early presidential elections. For their part, Yeltsin's supporters, led by former Deputy Prime Minister Egor Gaidar, held a conference in Moscow on 3 October to commemorate the victims of the previous year's events. Outside the conference rooms, Gaidar told Russian TV's "Vesti" that he had acted correctly on the night of 3-4 October in calling on unarmed Muscovites to resist the mob opposing Yeltsin. Had no civilians arrived to defend democracy, Gaidar explained, the army would not have defended it either. -- Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL Inc. RUSSIAN AGENCIES REFUTE ILLEGAL ARMS SALE CHARGE. In a joint statement published by Interfax on 30 September, the Russian Defense Ministry and the Federal Counterintelligence Service (FSK) denied a recent German report that armaments and military equipment from Russian troops in Germany had been sold illegally to Serbia and other countries. The statement called the charge a "rough invention" of a "provocative character." It had appeared in the 25 September issue of the German weekly Bild am Sonntag, and gave Bernd Schmidbauer, an aide to Chancellor Helmut Kohl, as its source. The Russian statement said that Schmidbauer had subsequently told FSK Director Sergei Stepashin by telephone that neither he nor the German intelligence agencies had any such information. -- Doug Clarke, RFE/RL Inc. US FEARS FLOOD OF IMPORTED RUSSIAN GUNS. US State Department spokesman Mike McCurry said on 3 October that some 250 US firms had asked for permission to import 7.6 million rifles and pistols and more than 7 billion rounds of ammunition from Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union. Reuters quoted McCurry as saying the trade could be worth more than $1 billion. Only 18,000 weapons were imported from the CIS in 1993. McCurry said the State Department was recommending that the Treasury Department deny approval for these imports while studies were carried out to see what had spurred such growth in the market. He denied a report that American firms would be allowed to import Russian arms as "compensation" for Russia's decision to halt arms sales to Iran. -- Doug Clarke, RFE/RL Inc. RUSSIA WOULD NOT RULE OUT ARMS SALES TO IRAQ. In a report issued by ITAR-TASS on 3 October, a high-ranking but unnamed official in the Russian Foreign Ministry was quoted as saying that Russia could not rule out selling military hardware to Iraq again once the UN sanctions were lifted. The diplomat said that "our conscience is clear" regarding the weapons used by Iraq in the Gulf War, noting that even the Scud tactical missiles had been modernized by Western experts. He said arms might be provided "strictly on a selective basis," including equipment such as spare parts and defensive weapons. -- Doug Clarke, RFE/RL Inc. OFFICIAL GLUM ON DEFENSE INDUSTRY PROSPECTS. State Defense Industry Committee First Deputy Chairman Yurii Glybin told Interfax on 29 September that Russia's defense industries needed over $20 billion in foreign investments to recover but Western investors were showing little interest in helping them. Glybin had just attended an international conference on conversion. He contended that short-sighted government policies had brought the defense industries to the brink of total collapse. As an example, he pointed to St. Petersburg's Kirov Works, which once produced tanks but now have to manufacture kitchen utensils and plumbing equipment to survive. -- Doug Clarke, RFE/RL Inc. CHURKIN NAMED AMBASSADOR TO BELGIUM. On 3 October ITAR-TASS reported that Russian President Boris Yeltsin had appointed Deputy Foreign Minister Vitalii Churkin ambassador to Belgium. Russian Foreign Ministry sources said that in his new role Churkin will represent Russia's interests to NATO, the European Union, and other international organizations. Churkin will lose his Foreign Ministry post and role as special envoy to the former Yugoslavia. Foreign Ministry official Aleksei Nikiforov is touted as the likeliest candidate to succeed Churkin as Russia's representative in the international "contact group" on Bosnia and Herzegovina. -- Stan Markotich, RFE/RL Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA STATE OF EMERGENCY IMPOSED IN AZERBAIJAN. Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev imposed a 60-day state of emergency in Baku on 3 October after a group of some 70 renegade OMON troops led by deputy Interior Minister Rovshan Dzhavadov took Prosecutor-General Ali Omarov hostage on 2 October to protest the arrest of three OMON members in connection with the shooting in Baku on 29 September of two senior officials, Russian and Western agencies reported. Dzhavadov also reportedly demanded the resignation of Omarov and of the parliament speaker and minister of internal affairs, and the convening of an emergency parliamentary session. Omarov was released on 3 October following an exchange of gunfire between OMON and government troops. In an address on Azerbaijani TV, Aliev characterized the hostage-taking as a coup attempt by forces intent on destabilizing the situation in Azerbaijan. -- Liz Fuller, RFE/RL Inc. PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION DATE SET IN KYRGYZSTAN. Kyrgyzstan's President Askar Akaev announced on 29 September that planned elections for the country's first post-independence parliament will be held on 24 December, Interfax reported on 30 September. An earlier decree issued by Akaev had announced that elections would be held before the end of 1994 but did not give an exact date. A referendum is to be held on 22 October to decide the future of the parliament; Akaev wants a bicameral legislature, with one chamber consisting of professional lawmakers. The constitution prescribes a Soviet-style legislature that meets only for short periods. -- Bess Brown, RFE/RL Inc. PRESSURE ON KYRGYZ OPPOSITION. An official of the Bishkek Humanities University, Timur Stamkulov, told an RL correspondent on 30 September that he had been detained by National Security (formerly KGB) officers who had questioned him for several hours and offered him 3,000 som for information on the university rector, Tursunbek Turgunaliev, who also heads Kyrgyzstan's Free Democratic Party. Stamkulov managed to escape his captors and told his story to local journalists as well as to the RL correspondent; it appeared in the 3 October issue of Vechernyi Bishkek. The Free Democratic Party is one of the oldest and most prominent of the opposition groups in Kyrgyzstan. -- Bess Brown, RFE/RL Inc. CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE MECIAR SCORES DECISIVE VICTORY IN SLOVAK ELECTIONS. Slovak media report that in elections held on 30 September and 1 October, seven groups passed the 5% hurdle needed to gain representation in the Slovak parliament. The winner was former Premier Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia, whose coalition with the tiny Peasant Party won 34.96% of the vote, significantly higher than all recent opinion polls suggested. The Common Choice coalition (composed of four left-wing parties) came a distant second with 10.41%, which was much lower than expected. The three-party Hungarian coalition followed with 10.18%, the Christian Democratic Movement with 10.08%, the Democratic Union with 8.57%, the Association of Slovak Workers with 7.34%, and the Slovak National Party with 5.4%. The Democratic Party failed to gain entry into the parliament, winning only 3.42% of the vote. According to preliminary results, the MDS, together with its previous partner, the SNP, won 69 seats in the 150-strong parliament, while the current coalition government, together with the Hungarian parties, won 68. Turnout among Slovakia's 3,876,555 eligible voters was 75.65%. -- Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL Inc. DISCUSSIONS ON NEW SLOVAK GOVERNMENT BEGIN. President Michal Kovac is to meet with party leaders on 4 October for discussions on forming a new coalition government. Since both the MDS and the current coalition government failed to gain an overall majority, they are now dependent on the support of the far-left Association of Slovak Workers to form a government. But in a 2 October Slovak Television discussion, ASW Chairman Jan Luptak said his party preferred to remain in opposition. While there have been calls for creating a broad coalition consisting of the MDS, Common Choice, the Christian Democratic Movement, and the Democratic Union, the last three are unlikely to accept Meciar as premier--a condition stipulated by the MDS. A split within Common Choice's largest party, the Party of the Democratic Left, remains a possibility, and the leftist-oriented faction might support an MDS-SNP cabinet, which would likely give Meciar a slim parliamentary majority. -- Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL Inc. MECIAR BARRED FROM VOTING ON FIRST DAY. Although international observers did not note any major irregularities in the Slovak elections, it was reported that election lists in many precincts were incomplete. Voters not on the lists were turned away and prevented from voting. Meciar was among those in the Bratislava constituency who were turned away from the polling station on 30 September. Slovak Television reported the incident and quoted an MDS statement calling it "an attempt to manipulate the parliamentary elections." The Slovak Election Commission, as well as several political parties, later called the television report "a violation of the election law," which bans media campaigns during voting. The commission resolved the problem of unlisted voters on the evening of 30 September by allowing them to participate if they met other requirements laid down by the election law. Meciar was able to cast his ballot on 1 October. Analysts say the television report may have influenced a significant number of undecided voters to support Meciar. -- Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL Inc. SUNKEN ESTONIAN FERRY FILMED. An investigation team from Finland, Sweden, and Estonia released at a press conference in Turku, Finland, on 3 October the preliminary findings from viewing 16 hours of video pictures of the sunken ferry "Estonia," Western agencies report. The footage showed that the forward bow visor of the ferry was fully separated from the ship and that the inrushing water caused the sinking. The team said it could not yet explain what had caused the visor to break off. It added that there were 137 survivors and about 810 persons still missing. Only 100 bodies have been recovered to date. The report prompted five Scandinavian shipping companies to order the permanent sealing of the front visors of their ferries, allowing the loading and unloading of vehicles only through stern or side doors. -- Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL Inc. UN MEDIATORS SAY SERBIA HAS CLOSED ITS BORDER TO BOSNIA. The BBC reported on 4 October that UN officials have certified that Belgrade has cut off traffic to Bosnian Serb territory. This paves the way for a partial lifting of sanctions against Serbia-Montenegro on a 100-day trial basis. In recent weeks, however, The New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung have all reported massive cross-border traffic, usually in the form of helicopter flights at night. The BBC broadcast quoted experts as asking whether the approximately 140 monitors, who have been on the job for less than a month, are really in a position to confirm that the border is truly closed. Former US State Department official George Kenney added that there are merely "tactical differences" between Belgrade and Pale and that Serbia will support the Bosnian Serbs with troops if the Bosnian Serbs' military position becomes difficult. -- Patrick Moore, RFE/RL Inc. SERBS SHELL MOSTAR. Bosnian Serbs renewed shelling Herzegovina's major city after more than a year of letting the Croats and Muslims compete for control in the area, Reuters reported on 3 October. One UN source said the Serbs had been "sitting in the mountains and waiting for the outcome of the semi-finals." Mostar and the Neretva valley, which leads down to the Adriatic, are claimed but not fully controlled by the Serbs, who badly want an outlet to the sea. Reuters reported the previous day on the Serbian propaganda war aimed at destabilizing the Muslim-Croatian federation. News agencies noted on 3 October, moreover, that the Serbs had not made good on their pledge to allow UN relief convoys to pass through their territory, although the picture remains somewhat confused. Reuters added that the Serbs now demand a role in running Sarajevo airport. Finally, AFP reported on how French UN peace-keepers prevented 300 Bosnian government troops from crossing a demilitarized zone on Mt. Bjelasnica, near Sarajevo, during the night of 2-3 October. -- Patrick Moore, RFE/RL Inc. PERRY WANTS TOUGHER POLICY ON AIR STRIKES. International media reported on 3 October that US Secretary of Defense William Perry has called for clearer, tougher guidelines from the UN to enable NATO to strike Bosnian Serb targets. Reuters quoted him as saying that "it is important to maintain pressure on the Bosnian Serbs [through] a robust program of air strikes." He wants action against multiple targets and with little or no warning. When asked whether tougher policies could be expected, however, UN diplomat Yasushi Akashi said: "I cannot comment on that." NATO countries with peace-keepers on the ground are also reluctant to tighten the policy on air strikes. But The Economist on 1 October quoted Perry as saying that NATO air strikes should prevent the Serbs "from taking advantage of their heavy-weapons advantage on the ground." -- Patrick Moore, RFE/RL Inc. WALESA APPEALS FOR SOLIDARITY SUPPORT. Speaking at Solidarity's national convention on 2 October, President Lech Walesa appealed for the union's support in the 1995 presidential election by proposing the formation of a "proreformist federation." He noted that such a federation would unite the union with other right-wing groups under his leadership and would be capable of defeating the" post-communist" government coalition. The delegates applauded Walesa's criticism of the left-wing government but stopped short of endorsing his proposal for a federation. Solidarity chairman Marian Krzaklewski told Gazeta Wyborcza on 3 October that the union would not enter into any "federation" with other political groups and would refrain from directly endorsing individual presidential candidates. Walesa aides told Gazeta Wyborcza on 4 October that the president plans to criticize the government in a major public address scheduled for the very near future. -- Jan de Weydenthal, RFE/RL Inc. POLISH PREMIER TO APPROVE PRIVATIZATION PROGRAM. Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak announced on Polish Television on 2 October that he would approve the mass privatization of industrial enterprises. The privatization program--prepared by the former government of Hanna Suchocka and partly implemented in 1993--foresees the gradual privatization of 460 state enterprises through the establishment of National Investment Funds, to be administered by both Western financial institutions and Polish managers. In order to launch the program, Pawlak has to sign off on the release of some 100 enterprises for privatization, which he refrained from doing for months. The premier told the nationwide audience that the delay was prompted by his distrust of "foreign firms," which "do not bring their own capital but will have the right to manage [Polish] enterprises." Faced with widespread criticism in the media and attacks by various political groups, Pawlak promised that the government would discuss the matter "very soon." If the government accepts the program, he would give his approval, he noted. -- Jan de Weydenthal, RFE/RL Inc. COMMEMORATION OF 1989 EXODUS OF EAST GERMANS FROM PRAGUE. A plaque was unveiled at the German Embassy in Prague on 30 September to mark the fifth anniversary of the exodus to the West of thousands of East Germans who had taken refuge at the embassy. CTK reported that German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel and his predecessor, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, attended the ceremony. Kinkel said the exodus by train to West Germany showed Gustav Husak and Erich Honecker, the communist leaders in Czechoslovakia and East Germany, that people living in the East badly wanted freedom and self-determination. -- Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL Inc. HUNGARIAN CONSTITUTION CHANGED IN OPPOSITION'S ABSENCE. MTI reported on 30 September that deputies from all four opposition parties walked out when voting began on a constitutional amendment to voting procedures for local elections. But the ruling Socialists and Free Democrats, who have a parliamentary majority exceeding two-thirds, voted to change the constitution. This was the first time since the 1990 democratic changes in Hungary that a constitutional amendment was passed in the absence of the opposition parties. Spokesmen from the four opposition parties claimed that while the amendment will simplify procedures for local elections, it will also improve the election chances of incumbent left-of-center mayors, who were first elected in 1990. The Smallholders' Party, in particular, objected to the amendment, saying it came only weeks before the elections. The parliamentary parties met on 3 October with President Arpad Goncz, who urged a compromise but rejected opposition pleas to send the law back to parliament. Goncz also announced that new local elections will take place on 11 December. -- Karoly Okolicsanyi, RFE/RL Inc. HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT POSTPONES ENERGY PRICE HIKES. The Hungarian cabinet has postponed increasing the price of electricity and natural gas, MTI reports. It was originally planned that a 30% increase would be introduced incrementally. But MTI reports that the hike will take place in one step sometime next year. -- Karoly Okolicsanyi, RFE/RL Inc. ROMANIAN DIPLOMATIC ACTIVITY. Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu and Viorel Hrebenciuc, secretary-general of the government and coordinator of the National Minorities Council, received separately on 3 October a delegation from the European Union. Talks focused on European integration, possible cooperation projects, Hungarian-Romanian ties, and relations with the national minorities, Rompres and Radio Bucharest reported the same day. Also on 3 October, Melescanu received Ives Berthlot, executive secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Europe. -- Michael Shafir, RFE/RL Inc. CRACKS IN THE ROMANIAN OPPOSITION. The Party of Civic Alliance said in a statement broadcast by Radio Bucharest on 30 September that the Democratic Convention of Romania's decision to suspend the Social Democratic Party's membership in the alliance for 30 days was "unstatutory." It also warned against the danger of creating within the DCR a "personality cult" of its president, Emil Constantinescu. The PCA had voted the previous day against the decision, which was taken following a letter sent by Sergiu Cunescu of the SDP to the DCR leadership. Cunescu criticized Constantinescu and the decision-making process in the alliance. He also said the decision to suspend his party was "childish, full of inaccurate accusations and anti-democratic." -- Michael Shafir, RFE/RL Inc. ROMANIAN NATIONALIST PARTY CRITICIZES FOREIGN MINISTER. The Party of Romanian National Unity criticized Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu on 30 September for speaking out against a letter from Romanian parliamentarians protesting the appointment of Alfred Moses as US ambassador to Bucharest. Ioan Gavra, the deputy chairman of the PRNU, told an RFE/RL correspondent in Bucharest that Melescanu had gone "far beyond" his jurisdiction and made "unconstitutional remarks." Melescanu had called the PRNU initiative to send the letter "irresponsible." Gavra said the foreign minister had "no right to comment on lawmakers' opinions" and added that President Ion Iliescu was wrong to link the letter with an attempt to undermine his meeting with US President Bill Clinton. -- Michael Shafir, RFE/RL Inc. THREE WORKERS DIE IN ROMANIAN STEEL PLANT BLAST. Three workers were killed and four injured in an explosion at the country's largest steel plant, which caused the release of a stream of liquid crude iron, Radio Bucharest reported on 30 September. Government spokesman Ioan Rosca was quoted by RFE/RL's correspondent in Bucharest as saying the same day that there was still an "immense and uncontrolled" stream of crude iron at the Galati steel plant. Rosca said investigations were hampered by excessive temperatures and the cause of the accident has not yet been identified. He added that the steel company hopes it will not have to close the whole plant. -- Michael Shafir, RFE/RL Inc. ROMANIA RESTRICTS ENTRIES FROM INDIA; CHOLERA UPDATE. The Romanian Health Ministry is to demand proof that anyone arriving by plane from India has spent at least six days in quarantine as a precautionary measure to stop the spread of pneumonic plague, Romanian Television announced on 2 October. Minister of Health Iulian Mincu was quoted the same day as saying there were now 24 confirmed cholera cases in the country and 42 suspected cases. The minister said no suspected cholera cases have been reported in the last four days. -- Michael Shafir, RFE/RL Inc. MOLDOVA "DOTTING THE I'S" ON ROMANIA. Dumitru Diacov, chairman of the Moldovan Parliament's Foreign Relations Commission, said the misconception that Moldova had to be treated "almost like a part of Romania" had helped delay Moldova's international recognition and admission to European institutions, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 September. Moldova's Agrarian parliamentary majority, however, has "dotted the i's" regarding relations with Romania," Diacov said. "The world must know that Moldova has firmly chosen independent statehood," he added. -- Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL Inc. SOCIALIST PARTY AHEAD IN BULGARIA? An opinion poll conducted by Bulgaria's National Center for Social Opinion Studies suggests the Socialist Party would win half the parliamentary seats if early elections were held under the current electoral law. The poll, released to the press on 29 September, shows that the Socialists would win 24.6% of the vote and the Union of Democratic Forces 17.8%. The director of the polling organization told a press conference in Sofia on 29 September that "if the small parties which do not pass the 4% barrier necessary for gaining seats in the parliament are ruled out, as current electoral law stipulates, the votes for the Socialists in the parliament would amount to 50.4% or 120 seats." -- Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL Inc. FURTHER WAGE INCREASES IN ALBANIA. Tirana intends to increase the wages of federal employees by 10%, Gazeta Shqiptare reports. This follows a 30% increase in January, which largely benefited higher income earners. The latest increase, however, is aimed at offsetting the erosion of real income by inflation among the country's lower earners. The average monthly wage for federal employees in Albania is 4,204 lek and the minimal wage 2,400 lek (84 lek to one US dollar). Wages in the police force have increased most steeply, from 1,776 lek in 1992 to 5,420 lek in 1993. Gazeta Shqiptare comments that, despite repeated increases, wages have not kept pace with inflation and that more raises will be necessary. -- Louis Zanga, RFE/RL Inc. UKRAINE TAKES ANTI-PLAGUE STEPS. Interfax and Reuters reported on 3 October that all 101 passengers on a Ukrainian airliner have been quarantined for a six-day period for fear that they may have come in contact with plague victims in India. The aircraft, on a scheduled flight from New Delhi, was re-routed from Kiev airport to a military base about 130 kilometers west of the Ukrainian capital. Indian officials insist that the plague is being brought under control and have remarked that all passengers and crew on the Ukrainian craft have been issued a clean bill of health. Ukrainian health officials, however, have stated that given the recent cases of cholera in the country, they do not want to take any chances with a possible plague epidemic. Reuters also reports that Ukraine has banned flights to India and requested the Ukrainian embassy in New Delhi to "find [Ukrainian] nationals and send them home for observation." -- Stan Markotich, RFE/RL Inc. LITHUANIAN PREMIER IN ISRAEL. Accompanied by Lithuania's culture, justice, and defense ministers, Algirdas Slezevicius arrived in Israel on 2 October for a four-day visit. Slezevicius and his Israeli counterpart, Yitzhak Rabin, signed a cultural and scientific cooperation agreement, Radio Lithuania and Western agencies reported on 3 October. At a press conference, the Lithu-anian premier apologized for the Nazi persecution of Jews in Lithuania and said his country would seek the extradition of 87-year-old Aleksandras Lileikis, who has been accused by the US Justice Department of signing death warrants for 40,000 Lithuanian Jews. Slezevicius will also meet with President Ezar Weizman and leading Knesset officials. -- Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL Inc. LATVIAN PRESIDENT WANTS "NEW RELATIONS" WITH RUSSIA. Returning to Riga on 3 October after attending the UN General Assembly, Guntis Ulmanis said Russia must recognize Latvia's occupation by the USSR so that the issue can be laid to rest and new relations established between Moscow and Riga, Diena and Interfax reported. Ulmanis emphasized that Latvia did not demand any material compensation from Russia. He said "the moral aspect is more important: it would be sufficient if the two countries gave a general assessment to what happened and started to build good-neighborly relations without mutual accusations." Ulmanis said Russian President Boris Yeltsin's visit to Latvia next spring would be the first step toward opening a new chapter in Latvian-Russian relations. -- Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL Inc. [As of 1200 CET] (Compiled by Jan Cleave and Penny Morvant) 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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