|If there is technological advance without social advance, there is, almost automatically, an increase in human misery. - Michael Harrington|
No. 196, 14 October 1994
RUSSIA NEW FINANCE MINISTER APPOINTED; RUBLE RECOVERS. At a cabinet meeting on 13 October Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin appointed Andrei Vavilov to replace Sergei Dubinin as Russia's acting finance minister, Reuters reported. The 33-year-old Vavilov, a liberal, was previously first deputy finance minister. Meanwhile, on the Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange the ruble bounced back to close at 2,994 rubles to the dollar following massive Central Bank intervention; it is unclear, however, how long the bank can continue to prop up the ruble. The opening of Thursday's session was delayed by the introduction of measures to limit currency trading by commercial banks and to curb speculative buying. According to ITAR-TASS, under the new regulations commercial banks are limited in their purchases of foreign currency to the amount of money in their clearing accounts at the time of trading. The recent fall of the ruble has led to an increase in consumer prices in Moscow of 30-50 percent, the deputy head of the Moscow Price Control Board told an RFE/RL correspondent on 13 October. Shoppers are said to be taking the price hikes in stride. -- Penny Morvant, RFE/RL Inc. CURRENCY CRISIS: POLITICIANS SEE SABOTAGE . . . In an interview with Interfax on 13 October, President Boris Yeltsin's spokesman Vyacheslav Kostikov opined that the recent currency crisis had been organized by Communists, who had allegedly used secret funds belonging to the former Soviet Communist Party to engineer the meteoric rise of the dollar from about 2,800 to close to 4,000 rubles in under a week. Kostikov was elaborating on an earlier announcement by Yeltsin, broadcast live by Ostankino TV the previous day, that the currency's plight was due to "sabotage . . . by the special group of people who organized the ruble's disastrous fall." To investigate the case, Yeltsin has set up a commission including representatives of the Federal Counterintelligence Service (the former KGB). On 13 October Ostankino TV news cited a member of the commission, deputy speaker of the Federation Council Valerian Viktorov, as saying that the crisis had been organized by the government's political opponents. In turn, the leader of the Communist faction in the State Duma, Gennadii Zyuganov, was quoted by Nezavisimaya gazeta of 13 October as claiming that the sharp fall of the ruble was a political move aimed at bringing about the replacement of the relatively moderate current Russian government with radical reformers. In support of his argument, Zyuganov reportedly quoted Yeltsin's promise to radicalize reform. -- Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL Inc. . . . WHILE ECONOMISTS BLAME GOVERNMENT. No serious Russian economist appears to agree with the conspiracy theory. Grigorii Yavlinsky, leader of the liberal opposition to Yeltsin, told RFE/RL on 13 October that the crisis was the result of the government's determination to keep the price of the ruble artificially high by selling huge sums of dollars on the currency market. Such a policy, according to Yavlinsky, was bound to lead to the ruble's collapse sooner or later. Yavlinsky's views differ little from those of Sergei Glazev, the economic spokesman of the centrist and left-wing parliamentary opposition to Yeltsin, and Boris Fedorov, former Russian finance minister and now leader of the radical 12 December faction in the State Duma. -- Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL Inc. MILITARY: FINANCIAL CRISIS NOT OUR FAULT. In a statement given to Interfax on 13 October, the Russian Defense Ministry denied the charge that the financial crisis was caused by excessive injections of funds into defense production. The statement said that the ministry had received only 38.7 percent of its budget during the first nine months of this year instead of the planned 63 percent. It currently is 6.9 trillion rubles in debt, of which some 2.5 trillion is owed to defense plants for confirmed government orders. The military's budget and finances agency said that it, in turn, was owed some 9 trillion rubles by the Finance Ministry. -- Doug Clarke, RFE/RL Inc. MAVRODI RELEASED. On 13 October, according Ostankino TV news that day, the Preobrazhensky district court in Moscow "unexpectedly" ruled to release Sergei Mavrodi, the president of the MMM joint-stock company arrested for tax violations earlier in the year. The ruling goes against the wishes of President Yeltsin: in a move that was clearly directed against Mavrodi, who had been nominated to run for a seat in the State Duma in a by-election in the town of Khimki near Moscow, the president had signed a decree allowing candidates for parliamentary seats to be imprisoned. On 11 October the State Duma voted against a proposal that Mavrodi be released. In response to the court's verdict, MMM shareholders, who in the months following Mavrodi's arrest have built up a strong political movement, stated their determination to continue their struggle to lift the government ban on the trading of MMM shares. They have also joined the Communists in collecting signatures aimed at forcing early presidential elections and intend to nominate Mavrodi for the Presidency. -- Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL Inc. DEMOCRATIC PARTY FACTION VOTES AGAINST ITS LEADERS. The parliamentary faction of the Democratic Party of Russia (DPR) has passed a vote of no confidence in its leader, Nikolai Travkin, Russian TV news reported on 11 October. According to Travkin's opponents, his policies contradict the centrist opposition platform on which the DPR was elected to the State Duma in December 1993. Earlier this year Travkin was appointed minister without portfolio in the Chernomyrdin government. The faction's vote, according to Kommersant-Daily of 12 October, was prompted by Travkin's attempt to remove Sergei Glazev, a faction member, from the post of chairman of the State Duma Committee on Economic Policies. Many prominent DPR deputies in the Duma--including Glazev, film director Stanislav Govorukhin, and Academician Oleg Bogomolov--do not actually belong to the Democratic Party (commonly known in Russia as "Travkin's Party") and therefore could not vote at the DPR congress, which has the power to replace the party's chairman. -- Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL Inc. DUMA APPROVES LAW ON CORRUPTION. The State Duma has adopted a law on corruption that is designed to prevent state bureaucrats from abusing their positions and to reinforce the government's measures against organized crime, Ostankino TV reported on 13 October. One of the basic provisions of the legislation requires civil servants and candidates for state offices to submit an annual declaration of their personal income including data on real estate and other property and on financial assets that exceed the minimum Russian wage by 200 times. The law requires state officials to give the State Tax Inspectorate their bank account numbers and empowers law enforcement agencies to check the accounts. -- Victor Yasmann, RFE/RL Inc. BLAST SHAKES NUCLEAR FACILITIES. A powerful explosion caused by "gun powder waste" shook two nuclear facilities in the Siberian city of Tomsk, according to an Interfax report of 13 October. The explosion, which injured six soldiers, took place at an army unit stationed two kilometers from a nuclear research center. It was caused by the detonation of three metric tons of powder removed from missiles. Another nuclear facility was reported to be 10 kilometers away from the accident site. Tomsk-7, now said to be called Seversk, is one of Russia's 10 nuclear cities. Weapons-grade plutonium was produced there. In April 1993 an explosion at the military reprocessing plant released 228 grams of highly toxic plutonium into the air. -- Doug Clarke, RFE/RL Inc. KOZYREV, HUSSEIN ISSUE JOINT COMMUNIQUE. On 13 October ITAR-TASS reported that Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev had held talks with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in Baghdad in an effort to defuse the crisis in the Persian Gulf. Following the meeting, a joint communique was issued stating that Iraq was prepared to recognize Kuwait's borders and sovereignty. The Russian side said it would reciprocate by supporting steps for the eventual abolition of international sanctions against Iraq; it also said it would back measures such as monitoring Iraq's arms industry. -- Stan Markotich, RFE/RL Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA TURKMENISTAN TO ASK EXTRADITION OF DISSIDENTS IN MOSCOW. Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov's Press Office told Interfax on 13 October that Turkmenistan's State Prosecutor would soon ask the Russian Federation to extradite to Ashgabat several Turkmen dissidents living in Moscow. These include former Foreign Minister Avdy Kuliev and another former government official, Khalmurad Soyunov, both of whom have been indicted in Turkmenistan for anti-government activities. Kuliev has been one of the most influential and articulate opponents of President Niyazov's authoritarian rule. At a meeting on 12 October, Turkmenistan's Cabinet of Ministers authorized the heads of the country's law-enforcement agencies to take whatever measures are necessary to stop disruption by dissidents of Turkmenistan's stability. -- Bess Brown, RFE/RL Inc. BREAD PRICES FREED IN KAZAKHSTAN. The price of bread will be deregulated in Kazakhstan as of 15 October, Interfax reported on 13 October. Newly appointed Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegildin told the Supreme Soviet that he was deeply distressed that such an unpopular move was following so closely on his taking office, but that his government would not only continue the economic reform program of its predecessor, it would speed up implementation of the program. The decision to deregulate bread prices was taken earlier in the year, motivated at least partially by the fact that Kazakhstan's budget can no longer support the subsidies that kept bread prices low. In recent weeks, rumors about price deregulation were reported to have led to disturbances in some areas of the country. -- Bess Brown, RFE/RL Inc. KAZAKH MINISTER ON HOTLINE, MISSILES. Kazakh Defense Minister Sagadat Nurmagambetov inaugurated a telegraph and fax hotline between Almaty and Washington on 13 October. Interfax reported that the line was one of the results of a December 1993 agreement with the US and was financed by the US Defense Department. A direct telephone line would be installed in 1995. Nurmagambetov also said that he had exchanged messages with US Secretary of Defense William Perry and had been invited to visit the United States. He reported that nuclear warheads and SS-18 intercontinental ballistic missiles were being moved to Russia and indicated that all the missile silos and their launch control centers would be closed down "soon." Originally there were 104 of the giant SS-18s stationed in Kazakhstan. In March Kazakh officials indicated that 12 had been returned to Russia. That same month Presidents Yeltsin and Nazarbaev signed an agreement calling for all the warheads to be removed by May 1995. -- Doug Clarke, RFE/RL Inc. CSCE ASKS FOR KARABAKH PEACEKEEPERS. Following the agreement in late September of all sides involved in the Karabakh conflict on the acceptability of a multinational peacekeeping force for the region, the present chairman of the CSCE, Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Martini, has dispatched a letter to member governments asking whether they would be willing to provide a contingent, according to an RFE/RL correspondent. Martini proposes a force of 2,000 men, no more than 30 percent of whom would come from any given CSCE member country; the force would be deployed for an initial period of six months. Turkey has already signaled its willingness to supply troops and to set up a logistical support base for the CSCE in Erzerum. -- Roland Eggleston and Liz Fuller, RFE/RL Inc. CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE WALESA ISOLATED ON POLISH POLITICAL SCENE. A spokesman for President Lech Walesa on 13 October asked the Sejm to withdraw its statement that the president's decision to dismiss members of the national radio and television council and to demand the resignation of the minister of defense violates the law and has destabilized the political system. The request is almost certain to be ignored by parliamentarians. The media reports that representatives of the major political groups are united in their criticism of the president. But many of these groups are wary about bringing formal charges against him at the High State Tribunal because of the implications of such an action for both internal politics and the country's international standing. Gazeta Wyborcza on 14 October said some parties--in particular, the centrist Union of Freedom, which has censured Walesa--would like to reach a compromise with the president and avoid further disagreement in view of the forthcoming presidential election. In a related development, Minister of Defense Piotr Kolodziejczyk said at a press conference on 13 October that he would submit his resignation to the prime minister following parliamentary inquiries into the situation in the military. The Office of the Prime Minister has made no comment yet on the issue. -- Jan de Weydenthal, RFE/RL Inc. ESTONIAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS KALLAS AS PRIME MINISTER-DESIGNATE. The Estonian parliament, by a vote of 55 to 40, rejected Bank of Estonia President Siim Kallas as candidate for prime minister. The opposition Centrist faction voted against Kallas because he had refused to give them at least one portfolio, BNS reported on 13 October. Outgoing Prime Minister Mart Laar called the vote "a movement toward the left" within the parliament. President Lennart Meri now has seven days to nominate another candidate to replace Laar, who lost a vote of confidence on 26 September. According to the Constitution, the president can make two nominations for the post of prime minister. If the parliament fails to endorse either of the president's nominees or the nominees are unable to form a government, the parliament names its own candidate for the position. If, however, the parliament is unable to nominate a candidate or the candidate is unable to present a new government to the president within 14 days of the parliament's being given the right to nominate a premier, the president must call new parliamentary elections. The next elections to the legislature are scheduled for March 1995. -- Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL Inc. UN OFFICIALS CALL FOR NATO PEACEMAKING OPERATION IN BOSNIA. AFP on 13 October quotes unnamed UN officials in Sarajevo as saying the blue helmet peacekeeping operation is "at a dead end" and calling for "NATO ground forces to enforce peace instead." The officials agreed with the earlier statement by UN commander General Sir Michael Rose that "you can't fight a war with white-painted tanks." They called instead for "a green helmet operation which would respond to Serb attacks with superior force." One official said "the only way you can cajole the Bosnian Serbs back to the negotiating table is with a credible use of force. That is going to come through NATO. The only thing that will scare the Serbs is if you will put large amounts of troops in." The news agency commented that "UNPROFOR has no bargaining chip with the Serbs who are sitting pretty now the threat of lifting the arms embargo against the Bosnians has faded." -- Patrick Moore, RFE/RL Inc. SERBS RENEW ULTIMATUM TO MUSLIMS. International media reported on 13 October that Bosnian Serb commanders repeated their threat, first made two days earlier, to give Bosnian government forces until 20 October to clear out of the demilitarized zone near Sarajevo or be evicted by Serb units. The Serbs added that the UN must destroy government trenches and fortifications in the zone--which, in fact, it has been doing in recent days. The Muslims nonetheless advanced through the zone on 12 October and ambushed a Serb unit on the other side of it. Meanwhile, Bosnian government officers boycotted a confidence-building inspection tour of the zone organized by the UN for 13 October. The Muslims said all their officers were needed at Breza, to the north of the capital, where the Serbs were capturing territory. Other fighting was reported around Mostar. -- Patrick Moore, RFE/RL Inc. KRAJINA ON THE DIPLOMATIC AGENDA AGAIN. Vjesnik reports on 14 October that international mediators David Owen and Thorvald Stoltenberg held talks in Zagreb with Croatian President Franjo Tudjman the previous day after arriving from Moscow. They discussed the future of the Serb-held territories in Croatia, which make up about one-third of the total land area of the republic. Tudjman repeated Croatia's long-standing position--namely that these territories must be reincorporated into the Croatian state in keeping with Security Council Resolution 947. They also discussed some concrete projects in which Croatia is interested, such as the reopening of the main oil pipeline and the Zagreb-Belgrade highway, both of which have been cut by the Serbs since 1991. Tudjman raised the question of the return of refugees to their homes in Serb-held areas. The meeting reportedly did not lead to a breakthrough, and the two negotiators have since gone on to Belgrade to discuss a German proposal for an international coordinating group to study the Krajina question. It is not clear how Tudjman reacted to the idea. -- Patrick Moore, RFE/RL Inc. "ARE THERE PARAMILITARY FORMATIONS IN SERBIA?" This is a headline in Politika of 14 October, which probes whether the paramilitary groups in Serbia have in fact disappeared. The article points out that many of the paramilitary organizations, used for combat purposes and ethnic cleansing campaigns throughout the former Yugoslavia, have been officially disbanded by their leaderships during the past year. It is most likely, however, that these organizations still exist, albeit underground. The article also reports that the alleged war criminal and leader of the Tigers, Zeljko Raznatovic (alias Arkan), recently appealed to his followers to celebrate 11 October as the fourth anniversary of the founding of the Tigers. -- Stan Markotich, RFE/RL Inc. GERMAN SHOT BY CZECH POLICE DIES. Markus Rankl, a German citizen shot by a Czech policeman during a dispute over illegal parking in the town of Pribram on 9 October, died on 13 October in a Prague hospital. Rankl was the second German to die in recent incidents involving the Czech police. A Czech policeman in September shot dead a German driver who had failed to stop his car when signaled to do so. Bavarian Internal Affairs Minister Guenther Beckstein has sent two letters to his Czech counterpart, Jan Ruml, demanding a thorough investigation into both incidents. CTK and German media report that so far this year there have been more than 30 cases of Germans' complaining about mistreatment at the hands of the Czech police. But a Bavarian border official said on 12 October that some Germans have provoked the Czech police by defiant behavior. The Czech government admitted on 13 October that elements of its police force are inexperienced and make use of repressive methods, Reuters reported. -- Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL Inc. HAVEL ON NOBEL PEACE PRIZE. Speaking before Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin were named this year's Nobel Peace Prize winners, Czech President Vaclav Havel, who was also a candidate for the prize, told Lidove noviny on 13 October that he had "reservations" about giving the award to the two leaders. Havel said he appreciated the courage these two politicians have shown in trying to reach a peace settlement. But, he said, the prize should be given to people who have fought for human rights, peace, and a better world as citizens--not as politicians, "who are paid for doing that." Havel argued that it will always be controversial to award the prize to individuals who first wage war and later make peace. -- Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL Inc. TAJIK PREMIER IN SLOVAKIA ON UNOFFICIAL BUSINESS. The Slovak government was surprised by a report in Slovenska Republika on 13 October stating that Tajik Premier Abdujalil Samadov was in Slovakia on a private business trip, Reuters reports. Samadov, along with two top Tajik officials, visited Slovakia at the invitation of the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia, which won the most votes in the recent parliamentary elections. Government spokesman Lubomir Lintner told Reuters that no one in the government was informed of the meeting, which focused on a barter deal to trade Slovak shoes for Tajik cotton . According to a statement issued by the Slovak Foreign Ministry on 13 October, the visit was never officially discussed, TASR reports. -- Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL Inc. DANISH QUEEN IN SLOVAKIA. Queen Margrethe II and her husband, Prince Henrik, arrived in Slovakia on 13 October for a three-day official visit, TASR reports. The couple were greeted by Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan and attended an official welcoming ceremony at the residence of President Michal Kovac. They also toured Bratislava's old town, and the Queen opened a design exhibition of Danish industrial products at the Slovak National Gallery. -- Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL Inc. SLOVAK COALITION TALKS STALLED. Christian Democratic Movement Chairman Jan Carnogursky says "no substantial progress has been made" in talks on forming a new Slovak government, Reuters reports on 13 October. Carnogursky notes that the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia, which was asked on 4 October by President Michal Kovac to form a new cabinet, has offered his party two ministerial positions--foreign affairs and transportation. But there is still disagreement, in particular, over the MDS's insistence that Kovac be removed from office. Carnogursky said the most probable coalition is between the MDS and the far-right Slovak National Party, with tacit support from the far-left Association of Slovak Workers. Meanwhile, the Democratic Union on 13 October met with the National Democratic Party, whose candidates appeared on the Democratic Union's list in the recent parliamentary elections, to discuss a possible merger. NDP Chairman Ludovit Cernak said that if the MDS fails to form a cabinet, the current coalition will be able to form a minority government with tacit support from the ASW within 24 hours, TASR reports. -- Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL Inc. HUNGARIAN MINORITY REPRESENTATIVES FROM ROMANIA IN BUDAPEST. A delegation from the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania arrived in Budapest on 13 October at the invitation of Hungarian Parliamentary Chairman Zoltan Gal for talks with Hungarian parliamentary and government leaders, MTI reports. The talks focused on the Hungarian-Romanian treaty, the normalization of Hungarian-Romanian relations, the opening of new border crossings, and the restitution of Church property in Romania. HDFR parliamentary caucus leader Gyorgy Tokay stressed the importance of Hungarian-language education and bilingual road signs. He also expressed satisfaction that the Hungarian government was ready to take a joint stance with the HDFR at international forums on these issues. The HDFR delegation held talks with Csaba Tabajdi, state secretary in charge of minority affairs at the Prime Minister's Office, and the parliamentary Foreign Relations Committee. It is also scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Gyula Horn. -- Edith Oltay, RFE/RL Inc. ILIESCU VISITS INTERNATIONAL FAIR IN BUCHAREST. Romanian President Ion Iliescu on 13 October visited the 20th International Fair in Bucharest. In an interview with Radio Bucharest, he noted that foreign firms were showing an increasing interest in the Romanian economy. The fair was opened on 10 October by Premier Nicolae Vacaroiu. Vacaroiu said in his inaugural address that Romania's economy had entered a phase of "macroeconomic stabilization." -- Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL Inc. ALBANIAN BOAT PEOPLE DROWN OFF ITALY. AFP reported on 13 October that at least eight Albanians drowned and two were missing when high waves overturned two speedboats near the coast close to Otranto. Some 36 persons were rescued after individuals awaiting the illegal immigrants on shore notified the authorities of the boats' distress. A lucrative trade in illegal migration flourishes between the two countries. Many young Albanians are desperate for a better life, and Italian criminal elements have sought to exploit this by charging high fees to smuggle Albanians into Italy or by using them as drug couriers. -- Patrick Moore, RFE/RL Inc. UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT SEEKS WESTERN HELP. International agencies on 13 October reported that Leonid Kuchma appealed the same day to Western leaders for financial aid to support his economic and social reforms. Kuchma unveiled his reform plans to the legislature on 11 October. Interfax quotes a top Kuchma aide as saying that US President Bill Clinton has offered Kiev his backing. -- Stan Markotich, RFE/RL Inc. KIEV, BONN TO DESTROY MISSILE SILOS. Reuters on 13 September reported that Ukraine and Germany have agreed to work together to destroy "underground nuclear missile silos in Ukraine." A spokesperson from the German Foreign Ministry said Bonn would "immediately" allocate some $650,000 for the project. -- Stan Markotich, RFE/RL Inc. MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT REBUFFS OFFICIAL ROMANIAN IRREDENTISM. In a press release on 12 October, Mircea Snegur's office said the president had told a reporter from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that "statements by members of Romania's top leadership regarding future unification with Moldova are baseless and completely at variance with the international context." Snegur also pointed to election and polling returns showing Moldovans' strong preference for independent statehood. -- Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL Inc. RUBLE'S FALL DOES NOT AFFECT BALTIC STATES. Interfax on 13 October reported that the recent, dramatic fall of the Russian ruble has not had as disastrous effect on the Baltic economies as on the Russian economy. Baltic experts had predicted the fall of the ruble and had taken precautionary measures. Bank of Estonia President Siim Kallas said Estonian export-import dealers have been concluding contracts in either hard currency or Estonian kroons, especially on account of the ruble's instability. Most exchange offices in Tallinn stopped the purchase and sale of Russian rubles on 13 October. Daina Bruvere of the Bank of Latvia said the ruble's fall was a result of the Russian Central Bank's failure to stabilize the national currency. Bruvere pointed out that US dollar fluctuations on the Russian currency market will not affect the Latvian economy, as transactions between Russian and Latvian enterprises are generally carried out in hard currency. Meanwhile, the Riga-based Parex-Bank on 12 October stopped concluding contracts on the conversion of Russian rubles after Moscow banks refused to underwrite such contracts owing to the unstable situation on the currency market. Stasys Kropas of the Bank of Lithuania said the events on the Russian currency market will not have a considerable impact in Lithuania, though they will affect trade between the two countries. While some Lithuanian entrepreneurs have made low-risk investments in rubles, Kropas stressed that the Bank of Lithuania will not take steps to compensate their losses. -- Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL Inc. POLISH AND LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENTS RATIFY FRIENDSHIP TREATY. The Sejm on 13 October voted unanimously to ratify the friendship treaty signed by Presidents Lech Walesa and Algirdas Brazauskas in Vilnius on 26 April, Radio Lithuania reports. The Seimas also approved the treaty's ratification, by a vote of 91 to 19 with eight abstentions. Deputies of the Lithuanian Democratic Labor and Social Democratic Parties voted for the ratification, while the Freedom and National Union factions voted against or abstained, declaring that the treaty granted too many concessions to Poland. The Homeland Union and Christian Democratic Party factions did not take a formal stand on the treaty, allowing their members to decide individually. The treaty, valid for 15 years, will go into effect after the ratification documents are exchanged. -- Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL Inc. LITHUANIAN CUSTOMS TO BE IMPROVED. Lithuanian Customs Department Chairman Vitalijus Gerzonas told a press conference on 13 October that he will resign if the current disorder at Lithuanian customs is not eliminated by next summer, RFE/RL's Lithuanian Service reports. He said about 25 million litai ($6.25 million) will be spent to build a new customs post at Kalvarija, which should be opened before the end of the year and completed by May 1995. The post will allow fifteen vehicles to be inspected at the same time, instead of the current two at the Lazdijai post. He also noted that Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius recently reached an agreement in Minsk, due to go into effect on 1 January 1995, whereby vehicles crossing the Belarusian-Lithuanian border will be inspected only once. -- Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL Inc. [As of 1200 CET] (Compiled by Penny Morvant and Jan Cleave) The RFE/RL DAILY REPORT, produced by the RFE/RL Research Institute (a division of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Inc.) with the assistance of the RFE/RL News and Current Affairs Division, is available through electronic mail by subscribing to RFERL-L at LISTSERV@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU Inquiries about specific news items should be directed as follows (please include your full postal address when inquiring about subscriptions): Mr. Brian Reed RFE/RL, Inc. 1201 Connecticut Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20036 Telephone: (202) 457-6912 Fax: (202) 457-6992 Internet: REEDB@RFERL.ORG Copyright 1994, RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved.
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