|I'm going to turn on the light, and we'll be two people in a room looking at each other and wondering why on earth we were afraid of the dark. - Gale Wilhelm|
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 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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