Genius is an African who dreams up snow. Vladimir Nabokov - Vladimir Nabokov
RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 200, 20 October 1994

                              RUSSIA

CHECHEN GOVERNMENT TROOPS CONQUER OPPOSITION STRONGHOLD. Within
hours of Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev's statement to
opposition forces that their safety would be assured provided that
they lay down their arms within three days, in the morning of 19
October Chechen government forces backed by armored vehicles and
artillery attacked the base of opposition leader Beslan Gantemirov
in Urus-Martan, southwest of Grozny, and routed Gantemirov's men
after fierce fighting in which up to 80 opposition troops were
killed or wounded, Russian and Western agencies reported.
According to unconfirmed reports, Gantemirov himself was badly
wounded and taken to the headquarters of the opposition
Provisional Council in Nadterechnyi Raion. The head of the Chechen
General Staff told Interfax that Dudaev had been compelled to
launch the offensive as a result of popular outrage. He also
denied the claim made by a Provisional Council spokesman to
ITAR-TASS that numerous civilians had been killed or injured in
the attack on Urus-Martan. Likewise unconfirmed are reports of a
concentration of Dudaev's troops near the headquarters in
Tolstoi-Yurt of former Russian parliament chairman Ruslan
Khasbulatov. -- Liz Fuller, RFE/RL Inc.

YELTSIN, CHERNOMYRDIN DENY RESIGNATION PLANS. At a reception on 19
October for new ambassadors presenting their credentials,
President Boris Yeltsin said speculation that Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin and Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev would
resign was utterly groundless, Russian media reported. The
president was apparently so irritated by the recent wave of rumors
in the Russian media that he interrupted the reception to address
the journalists present. The media had drawn the wrong conclusion
from the failure of Chernomyrdin and Kozyrev to welcome the
British Queen to Russia, Yeltsin said, adding that Kozyrev had
been fully occupied with foreign affairs in the United States,
while Chernomyrdin was on vacation. Is it really so unusual for a
deputy (Oleg Soskovets) to perform the duties of his chief
(Chernomyrdin), when the latter is on holiday, Yeltsin asked.
Later on 19 October a tanned Chernomyrdin was interviewed at the
airport. He affirmed that he had not submitted a letter of
resignation to the president and expressed the hope that Queen
Elizabeth II had not been offended by his absence from her
reception. -- Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL Inc.

YELTSIN MEETS EDITORS . . . Yeltsin reiterated his criticism of
media speculation about his prime minister during a meeting later
on 19 October with the chairmen of the state broadcasting
companies and the editors of a number of Moscow newspapers. He did
not mind criticism, the president said, but could not stand lies
in the media. Yeltsin went on to attack the Russian TV newscast
"Vesti" for shortcomings in its coverage of his recent visit to
the United States, comparing it unfavorably with Ostankino
Television's reports. At the three-and-a-half hour meeting, the
question of financing the state-owned media and the appointment of
a new press minister were also discussed. Yeltsin said that he
would base his decision very largely on the recommendation of the
current deputy minister of the press, Sergei Gryzunov. -- Julia
Wishnevsky, RFE/RL Inc.

. . . DISCUSSES KHOLODOV'S ASSASSINATION. Another issue broached
during Yeltsin's meeting with the media representatives was the
murder of Dmitrii Kholodov, an investigative reporter for the
popular daily Moskovsky komsomolets, the newspaper's chief editor
Pavel Gusev disclosed during that day's edition of Ostankino's
live program "Chas pik." According to Gusev, the president had
personally taken a hand in the investigation of the crime, making
the prosecution change the charge from willful murder (Article 102
of the Russian Criminal Code) to terrorism (Article 213). Yeltsin
also apparently agreed with the chairman of the Russian Union of
Journalists, Vsevolod Bogdanov, who urged that journalists be
issued with special plastic identification cards to protect them
while they carried out their duties. Yeltsin added, however, that
he did not see how such cards would prevent journalists from being
assassinated by terrorists. According to Gusev, he did not mention
Defense Minister Pavel Grachev or any other top Russian official
accused by the staff of Moskovsky komsomolets of involvement in
the crime. As defense minister, Grachev is a member of Yeltsin's
team, Gusev said, so the president would protect him whatever he
did. -- Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL Inc.

MORE ON EXPLOSION AT MOSKOVSKY KOMSOMOLETS. Aleksandr Minkin, a
leading Moskovsky komsomolets journalist, said in the newspaper on
19 October that he did not believe that the heads of the Ministry
of Internal Affairs and the General Prosecutor's Office had any
interest in finding Kholodov's killers. Minkin called on all
"honest" MVD officers and "chekists" to investigate the case over
the heads of their superiors. Moskovsky komsomolets is continuing
to claim that corrupt generals, including Defense Minister Grachev
and former Commander in Chief of the Western Group of Forces in
Germany Matvei Burlakov, and the GRU (military intelligence)
masterminded Kholodov's murder. Grachev, meanwhile, has
categorically denied any army involvement in the case, ITAR-TASS
reported on 19 October. He said his subordinates had no reason to
seek Kholodov's death, because they had paid no attention to his
frequent corruption allegations. Moskovsky komsomolets also linked
Kholodov's murder with his investigation of illegal arms sales in
conflict regions and a secret military training base in Chuchkovo
near Ryazan used by the special forces. Weapons sales and the
special forces come under the jurisdiction of the powerful Main
Administration for the Protection of the Russian Federation. --
Victor Yasmann, RFE/RL Inc.

FACTIONS UNITE AGAINST CORRUPTION. On 19 October State Duma
deputies from all factions expressed their outrage over the
assassination of Kholodov. In what was probably the first instance
in the history of the young Russian parliament of opposing
factions submitting a joint document on a politically sensitive
issue, Oleg Shishkarev of the Communist Party and Alla Gerber of
the radical Russia's Choice faction appealed to the house to
investigate alleged corruption in the military; the proposal was
accepted by the Duma. For his part, Vladimir Zhirinovsky made a
half-hour speech calling for decisive measures to stop the
criminal activities of corrupt officials. -- Julia Wishnevsky,
RFE/RL Inc.

NO EARLY VOTE OF CONFIDENCE IN GOVERNMENT. On 19 October a
proposal by the radical opposition deputy Sergei Baburin that the
performance of the Chernomyrdin government be discussed
immediately was voted down by the State Duma. The parliament
agreed instead to postpone the vote of confidence in the
government until 27 October--the date on which it had originally
been scheduled. One reason for the deputies' cooperation might be
Chernomyrdin's proposal that parliamentary factions nominate their
own candidates for the posts of finance minister and Central Bank
chairman. -- Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL Inc.

GRACHEV: CFE FLANKS RESTRICTIONS UNACCEPTABLE. The defense
minister told journalists in Moscow on 17 October that the
restrictions in the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE)
treaty that permitted Russia to keep no more than 700 tanks in the
Leningrad and North Caucasus Military Districts combined was "not
enough, of course." According to Interfax, he said that he had
discussed Russia's concerns about the treaty's flanks limits with
visiting British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd and that Hurd had
"agreed in principle with our concern about flank restrictions."
Grachev said that Russia was willing to remove combat equipment
from its border with Europe, but "on the flanks there is virtually
nothing. We must proceed from the country's strategic and social
interests." -- Doug Clarke, RFE/RL Inc.

                  TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

TURKIC SUMMIT CALLS FOR COOPERATION. A summit of the heads of
state of the Turkic-speaking countries--Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan,
Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan--ended on 19
October in Istanbul with an appeal for closer political, cultural,
and economic cooperation, including support for plans to build gas
and oil pipelines from Central Asia to Europe via Turkey, Western
and Turkish news agencies reported. At a press conference after
the summit ended, Turkish President Suleyman Demirel took
exception to a Russian Foreign Ministry warning to participants on
the eve of the summit not to engage in pan-Turkic rhetoric.
Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev said that cooperation
among the Turkic states would not conflict with his Eurasian Union
scheme, and Turkmen leader Saparmurad Niyazov was quoted as saying
that summit decisions did not supersede CIS obligations. -- Bess
Brown, RFE/RL Inc.

TAJIK TALKS RESUME. On 19 October a Tajik government delegation
flew to Islamabad for a third round of talks with the Tajik
opposition in exile aimed at ending the conflict that has dragged
on in the Central Asian state since 1992, Interfax reported. The
head of the government delegation, first deputy chairman of the
Tajik parliament Abdumajid Dostiev, was quoted as saying that the
talks would cover a permanent cease-fire, the return of refugees
from Afghanistan, and Tajikistan's system of government. Dostiev
said that he would try to persuade the opposition to participate
in Tajikistan's upcoming presidential election. Resumption of the
talks coincides with the start of a temporary cease-fire on the
Tajik-Afghan border and within Tajikistan; eleven UN military
observers have arrived in Dushanbe to monitor the truce, according
to the chief of the UN mission in Tajikistan, Liviu Bota. -- Bess
Brown, RFE/RL Inc.

                               CIS

RUSSIA TO SEND WARPLANES TO ARMENIA. Russian Defense Minister
Grachev told Interfax on 19 October that Russia planned to send a
squadron of jet fighters to Armenia to provide needed air cover
for Armenian air space and the Russian troops deployed in that
country. According to Interfax, he explained that Armenia and
Russia were part of the same "strategic space" owing to the CIS
collective defense treaty. He repeated that Russia planned to set
up five military bases in Transcaucasia: two in Armenia and three
in Georgia. The same day a spokesman for the Group of Russian
Forces in the Transcaucasus told Interfax that talks in Tbilisi on
setting up the bases in Georgia had not resulted in an agreement.
The Georgians, he said, wanted to delay the negotiations until a
more propitious time. -- Doug Clarke, RFE/RL Inc.

CIS FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET. CIS foreign ministers are gathering in
Moscow on 20 October, one day ahead of a scheduled CIS summit.
According to a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, the ministers
will discuss CIS integration and the issue of maintaining
peacekeeping forces in Tajikistan. On 19 October Interfax reported
that nearly all matters pertaining to military cooperation had
been dropped from the upcoming summit agenda; economic issues are
expected to take center stage. -- Stan Markotich, RFE/RL Inc.

                    CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

IMPASSE FOR THE UN IN BOSNIA? Fighting continues around Sarajevo
and elsewhere in Bosnia, with news agencies reporting on 19
October that government forces near Sarajevo have launched what a
UN spokesman called a "fairly significant" offensive. The Bosnian
army has also refused to withdraw 500 men from the demilitarized
zone at Mt. Igman, in defiance of the UN and despite the Serb
ultimatum to leave the area, set to expire on 20 October. Reuters
on 19 October reported at length on the problems the UN has
encountered by allowing the Serbs and Muslims to defy them
successfully time and again. The Serbs, in particular, have
obstructed UN relief efforts to the point that "only the most
outrageous incidents provoke UN comment, let alone a vigorous
response." The Muslims have followed the Serb example. One of
their officials said: "We played by the rules and look where it
got us--we've lost most of our country and the world expects us to
be happy with tins of mackerel and sacks of rice." Elsewhere,
Politika on 20 October reports that UN commander General Sir
Michael Rose will probably quit his post in a few months. Finally,
Borba quotes Mihajlo Markovic, the leading nationalist ideologue
of Serbia's ruling party, as saying that Belgrade has not given up
the long-term goal of having all Serbs in one state but that it
has tactical differences, dating from November 1991, with the
Bosnian Serb leadership. -- Patrick Moore, RFE/RL Inc.

IS SERBIAN BANK CHIEF IN TROUBLE? Serbian media have carried
reports suggesting Belgrade government officials and National Bank
Governor Dragoslav Avramovic have fallen out. Borba on 19 October
quoted federal official Jovan Zebic as saying the governor and
cabinet members were in disagreement over economic policies.
Meanwhile, the same daily on 20 October reports that at a press
conference Vojislav Kostunica, leader of the opposition Democratic
Party of Serbia, added his name to the list of those speculating
that Avramovic's tenure as bank governor may soon be over. "If
Avramovic goes, that will mean that the authorities want inflation
all over again," he was quoted as saying. -- Stan Markotich,
RFE/RL Inc.

ELECTION UNCERTAINTY CONTINUES IN MACEDONIA. Final official
returns for the first round of the parliamentary and presidential
elections on 16 October still have not been released. President
Kiro Gligorov's supporters nonetheless have claimed victory,
because preliminary and unofficial figures suggest he has won by a
landslide, as was expected. Opposition nationalists, for their
part, have pointed to numerous irregularities and claimed fraud.
They have also called for a rally to protest what VMRO-DPMNE
presidential candidate Ljupco Georgievski called an "electoral
coup d'etat," international media said. The nationalists want the
election annulled, but international observers said the problems
were due to incompetence rather than manipulation. Efforts are
nonetheless under way to iron out the administrative difficulties
by 30 October, when the second round is to take place. Borba on 20
October quotes a moderate Albanian spokesman of the Party for
Democratic Prosperity, the largest ethnic Albanian political
group, as saying that his party accepts that the elections were
"regular." He warned against attempts by the VMRO-DPMNE to make
trouble over the results. -- Patrick Moore, RFE/RL Inc.

POLISH PREMIER APPROVES PRIVATIZATION PROGRAM. Prime Minister
Waldemar Pawlak finally approved on 18 October the inclusion of 98
state enterprises in the mass privatization program, Polish media
reported. Pawlak's decision opens the way to privatizing 444 state
industrial enterprises slated to be managed by national investment
funds under joint foreign and domestic directorship. Shares in the
funds are to be distributed to the population for a nominal fee.
The previous government approved the privatization of 360
enterprises more than a year ago. Pawlak and his Peasant Party
opposed the privatization plan for political and ideological
reasons, seeing no political gain for themselves in it. The prime
minister signed the inclusion of the last group of enterprises (he
excluded some for "strategic economic reasons") only after the IMF
and the World Bank insisted that the program be implemented before
funds are freed to cut Poland's commercial debt by 49.5%. But the
program will not be implemented until Pawlak approves a list of
some 100 candidates for supervisory boards to oversee the national
investment funds. The Prime Minister's Office promised approval
would be forthcoming within weeks. -- Jan de Weydenthal, RFE/RL
Inc.

POLAND'S NEW/OLD POLICE CHIEF. In a surprise move, Prime Minister
Waldemar Pawlak announced on 19 October that he had decided not to
appoint a new chief of police but to ask Zenon Smolark to continue
filling that post. Smolarek was accused of corruption by Gazeta
Wyborcza in March, since when many cases of police bribery in the
city of Poznan have been revealed. Smolarek resigned as head of
national police within weeks of the Gazeta Wyborcza articles, but
his resignation has apparently not been approved by Pawlak. Both
the prime minister and minister of internal affairs have proposed
several candidates but failed to agree on any of them. Some
politicians see Smolarek's "reappointment" as confirming Pawlak's
intention to extend his control over the police, since Smolarek is
likely to have to fulfill the prime minister's wishes. Gazeta
Wyborcza and Rzeczpospolita on 20 October report that at the same
time as announcing his decision, Pawlak attacked the media for its
"irresponsibility." The charges against Smolarek and other ranking
police officers from Poznan are still being investigated. -- Jan
de Weydenthal, RFE/RL Inc.

PEN CLUB'S WORLD CONGRESS TO BE HELD IN PRAGUE. Writers Milan
Kundera and Alexander Solzhenitsyn have turned down invitations to
participate in the World Congress of the Pen Club, to be held in
Prague from 6 to 12 November. The congress is to take place under
the aegis of Czech President Vaclav Havel, also a writer. CTK
reports that Kundera does not participate in any public meetings
and is not a member of any organization "out of principle."
Solzhenitsyn, in a letter to Havel, explained he is currently "too
busy and immersed in Russia's problems." Writers planning to
attend the congress include Harold Pinter, Arthur Miller, Ronald
Haewood, Tom Stoppard, Guenther Grass, Gyorgy Konrad, and Rose
Styron. Japan is sending a 30-member delegation, but the 1994
Nobel prizewinner, Kenzaburo Oe, is unlikely to attend the
congress. Writers Philip Roth and Guenther Grass are to receive a
new Czech literary prize at the congress--the Karel Capek Award.
-- Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL Inc.

FORMER CZECHOSLOVAK PRIME MINISTER DIES. Oldrich Cernik, one of
the leading politicians of the Prague Spring reforms in 1968, died
in Prague on 19 October at the age of 73, Czech media reported.
Cernik, who sustained serious injuries in a car accident in June
1994, was expelled from the Communist Party and spent 20 years
outside political life. He returned in 1989 to become the chairman
of the Czechoslovak Union of Towns and Villages. -- Jiri Pehe,
RFE/RL Inc.

HUNGARIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULINGS. Hungary's Constitutional
Court annulled the law stipulating that Hungarian Radio and
Television's budget allocation is to come out of the Council of
Ministers' expenditures, arguing it was unconstitutional, MTI
reported on 18 October. The court said that state institutions
could not be allowed to influence public radio and television
programs and that the annulled legislation contained no guarantees
that such influence would not be exercised. Hungary does not yet
have a media law. The court also squashed as unconstitutional a
regulation stating that individuals with permits to own weapons
are not entitled to become conscientious objectors. -- Alfred
Reisch, RFE/RL Inc.

LOCAL ELECTIONS ALSO FOR MINORITIES IN HUNGARY. The Interior
Ministry announced on 19 October that in addition to the local
elections to be held on 11 December, minorities will be able to
elect their own local councils for the first time in Hungary, MTI
reported. No fewer than 787 minority local elections will be held
in 605 localities. Ballots were requested in 518 cases by the Roma
minority, followed by the German (129), Croatian (53), Slovak
(36), Greek (4), and Bulgarian, Polish, and Ruthenian (1 each)
minorities. Only the Ukrainian minority did not request such an
election. Janos Wolfarth, chairman of the Office for National and
Ethnic Minorities, said the large number of requests for such
elections reflects the activism of Hungary's minorities. -- Alfred
Reisch, RFE/RL Inc.

REFERENDUM ON BUDAPEST WORLD EXPO? In reaction to the decision by
Gyula Horn's government to cancel the 1996 Budapest World Expo,
supporters of the fair have gathered and submitted to Parliament
Chairman Zoltan Gal some 120,000 signatures requesting that a
referendum be held on the issue, Nepszabadsag and Reuters reported
on 18 October. Only 100,000 are needed to validate such a request.
If the signatures prove genuine, the parliament has eight days to
call a vote. While the Alliance of Free Democrats argues that
hosting the World Expo is a budgetary issue and therefore cannot
be submitted to a referendum, the Hungarian Socialist Party has
suggested that the Constitutional Court make a ruling. The
government estimates that the fair would cost 177 billion forint,
but supporters put the figure at 93.7 billion, MTI reported on 19
October. -- Alfred Reisch, RFE/RL Inc.

PROGRESS IN ROMANIAN-RUSSIAN TREATY TALKS? Mircea Geoana,
spokesman for the Romanian Foreign Ministry, said on 19 October
that Romanian and Russian experts meeting in Bucharest from 10-13
October to discuss a basic treaty managed to find "mutually
acceptable formulas" for most issues over which there had been
disagreement, Radio Bucharest reports. The two sides, however,
apparently failed to reach agreement on the main bone of
contention, namely Romania's insistence that the treaty include a
statement on the illegality of the 1939 secret protocol in the
Ribbentrop-Molotov pact that led to the Soviet annexation of
Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina. The ministry's spokesman said
the Romanian side had come up with new proposals for resolving
this issue, which will be examined during the next round of
negotiations. -- Michael Shafir, RFE/RL Inc.

MILITARY TRIBUNAL ACQUITS ROMANIAN OFFICERS. A military tribunal
in Timisoara on 19 October acquitted three Romanian officers
charged with killing and instigating to kill demonstrators during
the uprising against the Ceausescu regime in December 1989,
Romanian Television reported the same day. One of the accused is a
retired major general, another a lieutenant colonel, and the third
a captain. -- Michael Shafir, RFE/RL Inc.

ILIESCU MEETS WITH IMF DIRECTOR. Michel Camdessus, managing
director of the International Monetary Fund, was received on 19
October in the Romanian capital by President Ion Iliescu, Radio
Bucharest said the same day. Presidential spokesman Traian
Chebeleu said Camdessus praised Romania's macroeconomic progress.
The IMF chief was quoted as saying that, in comparison with other
former communist countries, privatization in Romania is "somewhat
lagging behind." But at the same time, he was said to have "words
of appreciation" for the authorities' attempts to accelerate the
process. Another team of IMF experts is to visit Romania soon and
hold talks with Romanian specialists on the country's 1995 budget.
-- Michael Shafir, RFE/RL Inc.

RUSSIAN FRIENDLINESS TOWARD FORMER ALBANIAN COMMUNIST PRESIDENT.
Zeri i Popullit on 8 October reported on a friendly meeting
between Russian ambassador in Tirana Viktor Neruibalov and Haxhi
Lleshi, Albanian communist president from 1953 to 1982. Neruibalov
visited Lleshi on the occasion of the latter's birthday. The
Russian ambassador stressed that his country had not forgotten the
heroes who fought against fascism and praised Lleshi's role during
World War II. Lleshi responded by thanking the ambassador for
making possible his medical treatment in one of Moscow's leading
hospitals. The Albanian Socialist daily comments that it is to be
hoped that "visits of this kind will make the country's present
rulers think." President Sali Berisha's relations with Moscow are
cool owing to tension between Tirana, on the one hand, and
Moscow's friends in Belgrade and Athens, on the other. The
friendly gesture toward Haxhi Lleshi may be seen as a Russian
effort to forge good relations at least with the Socialists
(former Communists), who nonetheless have been anti-Soviet since
the mid-1960s. -- Louis Zanga, RFE/RL Inc.

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES KUCHMA'S ECONOMIC PLAN.
International agencies on 19 October reported that the Ukrainian
parliament voted 231 to 54 to support the "main points" of
President Leonid Kuchma's economic reform plan. The vote was
preceded by more than seven hours of debate, and the conservative
parliament was critical of some parts of the plan, particularly
the provisions on land reform and privatization. Despite these
reservations, the vote gives Kuchma the moral authority to press
ahead with decrees aimed at decontrolling the economy. This will
help Ukraine to meet IMF deadlines for the release of $360
million--the first installment of a larger credit package. --
Ustina Markus, RFE/RL Inc.

IRREGULARITIES REPORTED IN VOTE ON UKRAINIAN CP. Following the 18
October parliamentary vote to lift the ban on the Communist Party
of Ukraine, Vyachelsau Chornovil, leader of Rukh, made a statement
on behalf of his party and the parliamentary factions Derzhavnist
and Reformy charging there had been serious voting irregularities,
Ukrainian Radio reported later that day. Chornovil said left-wing
deputies cast votes for deputies who were not present and went on
to name some of the "culprits." Parliamentary speaker Oleksander
Moroz said he would not sign the legislation lifting the ban on
the communist party until an investigation was concluded into the
alleged voting irregularities. -- Ustina Markus, RFE/RL Inc.

BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENT VOTES ON NATIONAL CURRENCY. The Belarusian
parliament voted 198 to 1 on 19 October to make the Belarusian
ruble the country's sole legal currency, Interfax reported. The
resolution is to go into effect the same day it is published. In
the meantime, the National Bank of Belarus is to fix the exchange
rate of the Belarusian ruble against other currencies and
establish currency regulations. As of January 1995, all
hard-currency shops in the country will have to accept Belarusian
rubles. -- Ustina Markus, RFE/RL Inc.

COUNCIL OF EUROPE HEAD VISITS LITHUANIA. Council of Europe
Secretary-General Daniel Tarschys on 19 October attended the
opening of the Council of Europe Information and Documentation
Center in Vilnius, Radio Lithuania reports. He held talks with
President Algirdas Brazauskas, Seimas Chairman Ceslovas Jursenas,
and Foreign Minister Povilas Gylys. The talks centered on
Lithuania's relations with Poland and Russia. Tarschys also noted
that Latvia is first in line among the nine countries seeking
admission into the CE, followed by Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus.
-- Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL Inc.

CONTROVERSY OVER MILITARY TRANSIT ISSUE IN LITHUANIA. The meeting
on 19 October between President Algirdas Brazauskas and leaders of
the parliamentary factions began with the presentation of a
statement by all political groups, except the Lithuanian
Democratic Labor Party and the Union of Poles, demanding that no
agreement be signed with Russia on military transit, Radio
Lithuania reports. While criticizing the military transit
regulations approved by the government earlier in the month, the
statement proposed that Lithuania limit itself to such rules. When
Brazauskas decided not to address this issue but discuss instead
changes to the constitution proposed by the LDLP, the leaders of
the two major opposition parties, the Homeland Union and the
Christian Democratic Party, walked out in protest, avowing that
considering other issues would mean "wrong priorities." -- Saulius
Girnius, RFE/RL Inc.

UN COMMISSIONER: LATVIA OBSERVES HUMAN RIGHTS. UN High
Commissioner for Human Rights Jose Ayala Lasso told Latvian
leaders on 19 October in Riga that Latvia observes human rights
judging by the present situation and earlier reports by the UN and
CSCE missions to the country, Baltic media reported. Lasso
welcomed the Latvian government's plans to establish an
independent body for the protection of human rights, but he urged
Latvia to abolish capital punishment, join the international
conventions on refugees and aliens, and adopt a law on aliens as
soon as possible. With regard to Latvia's new citizenship law, the
high commissioner proposed that the naturalization process be
started without delay and said that lack of knowledge of the
Latvian language should not prevent citizenship from being
granted. Lasso added that Latvia may count on help from the CSCE,
UN, and the Nordic countries in offering Latvian-language
instruction to its resident Russian-speakers. -- Dzintra Bungs,
RFE/RL Inc.

LATVIAN DEFENSE CHIEF RESIGNS. BNS reported on 19 October that the
commander of Latvia's defense forces, Col. Dainis Turlais, has
submitted his resignation to the government. Rolands Tjarve of
Prime Minister Maris Gailis's office said the resignation has been
accepted. Turlais's decision to step down was evidently prompted
by the ongoing reorganization of Latvia's armed forces. -- Dzintra
Bungs, 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
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