|Live all you can: it's a mistake not to. It doesn't so much matter what you do in particular, so long as you have your life. If you haven't had that what have you had? - Henry James|
No. 209, 3 November 1994
RUSSIA CHAIRMAN OF DEFENSE COMMITTEE CALLS FOR GRACHEV'S RESIGNATION. Sergei Yushenkov, Chairman of the State Duma Defense Committee, has called for the resignation of Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, ITAR-TASS reported 2 November. Yushenkov said Grachev's resignation should follow the November 2 dismissal of Deputy Defense Minister Matvei Burlakov, who was fired by President Boris Yeltsin amid allegations of corruption when he served as commander of Russian forces in Germany. Yushenkov said Burlakov was only part of the problem and that Yeltsin's decree dismissing Burlakov in order "to preserve the honor of the Russian armed forces" could only be fully realized if Grachev resigned as well. Lieutenant-General Aleksandr Lebed, commander of Russia's 14th Army in Moldova, told ITAR-TASS 2 November that he welcomed Burlakov's dismissal. He said Russia's armed forces need to be "morally cleansed." -- Pete Baumgartner, RFE/RL, Inc. USINSK OFFICIAL SAYS OPERATORS REFUSED TO CLOSE DOWN LEAKING PIPELINE. Sergei Zhunyev, the chief environmental inspector of the Komi Republic town of Usinsk, said in a 2 November interview that oil-field operators refused a request to close down a nearby oil pipeline after it began leaking in late August. The interview, published by the Cox Newspaper Group (U.S.), said that Usinsk acting Mayor Anatoly Zinoviev made an appeal at a meeting with the managers of about eight oil companies to close the leaking pipeline down. Zhunyev, who was also at the meeting, heard the managers refuse to shut off the pipeline because of the potential financial loss it would inflict. The oilmen explained that to shut down oil wells in arctic conditions means that hardened oil could clog equipment and leave the well useless. Zhunyev said that the companies decided instead to slow the flow of oil while building another pipeline to bypass the leaking section. The same report quotes Yevgeny Leskin, Director-General of one of the oil companies involved, as confirming Zhunyev's report. Meanwhile, Western agencies and ITAR-TASS reported that the governor of the U.S. state of Alaska, Walter Hickel, arrived in Usinsk on 2 November to see if his state could offer help in the cleanup of the massive oil spill. -- Pete Baumgartner, RFE/RL, Inc. KOZYREV IN DAMASCUS. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, after meetings with Syrian President Hafez Assad in Damascus on 2 November, said that Russia's presence in the Middle East was necessary to provide a balance and a counterweight to the US-supported peace process in the area, Reuters reported. Kozyrev also said that as far as he was concerned, there was little doubt about Syria's genuine commitment to backing a regional peace. Syrian Foreign Minister Faruq Al-Shara said he openly welcomed Russia "reactivating" its role in the Middle East peace process and remarked that a strengthening of Russian-Syrian relations would facilitate the peace process. -- Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIA TO GIVE MONEY TO SOME VETS IN "NEAR ABROAD." Russia plans to give a one-time grant to WWII veterans living in Latvia, Estonia, and Georgia, according to Russian Vice Premier Yuri Yarov. Yarov chaired a meeting of the committee planning for the 50th anniversay of the ending of WWII. According to Interfax of 31 October, Yeltsin approved the committee's proposal for the grant. The report said that some 63,000 people would benefit, and they could expect to receive a one-time allowance of from two to eight times the minimum wage, as well as higher pensions and allowances. The CIS heads of states must still approve the proposal. -- Doug Clarke, RFE/RL, Inc. DUDAEV ON ELECTIONS. In a statement quoted by Interfax on 1 November, Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev took issue with a proposal made by the emergency Congress of the Chechen People on 29 October that new elections should be postponed until the armed opposition has been neutralized and Russia's "aggression" halted. Dudaev advocated holding both presidential and parliamentary elections within the terms specified by the country's constitution. Presidential elections are due on 27 October, 1995, and parliamentary elections in 1996. Also on 1 November, Interfax quoted Chechen intelligence spokesmen as claiming that two members of the opposition Provisional Council had been arrested in Grozny and would be charged with the attempted overthrow of the constitutional system. -- Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. CHAIRMAN OF RUSSIA'S MUSLIM RELIGIOUS DIRECTORATE DISMISSED IN DISGRACE. An emergency congress of the Central Muslim Religious Directorate of Russia and the European CIS states in Ufa has voted to dismiss its chairman, Talgat Tajuddin, and to strip him of his status as mufti, Interfax reported on 1 November. Tajuddin was accused of immorality and corruption, specifically the embezzlement of large sums of hard currency donated by Saudi Arabia for the construction of mosques. Tajuddin and ten other Russian muftis have sent an appeal to Russian President Boris Yeltsin asking for his support. -- Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. MILITARY WANTS TO KEEP CUBAN LISTENING POST. General Mikhail Kolesnikov, the chief of the Russian general staff, is in Cuba where he is said to be discussing the retention of a military monitoring station. According to Interfax on 1 November, the Cubans are asking for as much as $1 billion for the lease of the facility. In November 1992 the two countries signed an agreement allowing Russia to operate the ex-Soviet electronic intelligence-collecting facility at Lourdes, near Havana--the largest such facility outside the USSR. Over 2,000 intelligence specialists are believed to man the site. It was designed to monitor US military, commercial, and government communications, although the Russians have tried to picture it as a link in their ballistic-missile warning system. In the 1992 deal, the Russians agreed to supply Cuba with military spare parts, but now the Cubans need hard currency. Russia recently announced it would no longer supply oil to Cuba as the island lacked the sugar to pay for the fuel deliveries. -- Doug Clarke, RFE/RL, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA BOUTROS-GHALI ON ABKHAZ REFUGEES . . . Following talks on 2 November with Georgian Prime Minister Otar Patsatsia, UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali stated that further progress on the gradual repatriation of Georgian refugees to their homes in Abkhazia would depend on progress in the upcoming round of UN-sponsored talks on a political settlement of the Abkhaz crisis, ITAR-TASS reported. According to Interfax, Boutros-Ghali said that the UN Security Council resolutions on Abkhazia furnish the political and legal infrastructure for resolving the conflict on the basis of the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and the inviolability of national frontiers, and that he is considering convening a conference in December between Georgian, Abkhaz and Russian representatives. Georgian opposition spokesman Nodar Natadze was quoted by Interfax as dismissing Boutros-Ghali's statements as evidence that "the UN is incapable of exerting any practical influence on the settlement of the conflict." Meanwhile, Interfax on 2 November quoted Abkhaz parliament chairman Vladislav Ardzinba, who last year claimed that Abkhazia had financed the cost of its war with Georgia entirely on the proceeds of selling tea on the world market, receiving no financial assistance from Russia, as telling Pravda that the repatriation of the refugees is "practically impossible" without substantial economic aid. -- Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. . . . AND IN EREVAN. On 2 November Boutros-Ghali flew from Tbilisi to Erevan where he met with Armenian Foreign Minister Vahan Papazyan and President Levon Ter-Petrossyan, Russian agencies and Reuters reported. Speaking to journalists afterwards, Boutros-Ghali emphasized the importance of prolonging the existing ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh and avoiding any further military action. He also said that Ter-Petrossyan was in agreement that the conflict should be resolved on the basis of the four UN Security Council resolutions that require inter alia a withdrawal of ethnic Armenian forces from occupied Azerbaijani territory. -- Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. UZBEK PRESIDENT PARDONS OPPOSITION ACTIVISTS. Uzbek President Islam Karimov has issued a decree, published in Tashkent on 2 November, pardoning five opposition activists, according to Interfax and a correspondent for Radio Liberty's Uzbek Service. The five are Polatjan Akhunov, former chairman of the banned political movement Birlik, sentenced in 1992 on fabricated charges of hooliganism; Nasir Zakir, also a Birlik activist; and three members of the Erk opposition party. Interfax quoted local political observers as speculating that the pardon was intended to increase the chances of a win by Karimov's Popular Democratic Party of Uzbekistan in the parliamentary elections scheduled for 25 December. The trial of six further Erk members on charges of anti-government activities, including treason, is, however, continuing. -- Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. CIS RUSSIA, TURKEY, AZERBAIJAN AND OIL. Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev, on a private visit to Ankara on 1 November for the 70th birthday of President Suleyman Demirel, held talks with his host on increasing the Turkish input into a solution of the Karabakh conflict and on the construction of an oil pipeline for the export of Azerbaijan's oil through eastern Turkey to the Mediterranean, Interfax reported on 2 November. Also on 2 November, Interfax quoted Natik Aliev, the head of the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan, as having informed the Petroleum Information Agency that the multi-billion dollar contract with a Western consortium on exploiting Azerbaijan's Caspian oil will be ratified "by the end of the year." (The contract was signed by Aliev and consortium representatives on 20 September and was scheduled to be ratified by the Azerbaijani parliament within one week; Parliament Chairman Rasul Guliev told ITAR-TASS on 12 October that the ratification discussion in parliament would last at least one month.) Meeting on 31 October with a delegation from the Turkish Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, Russian Fuel and Energy Minister Yuri Shafranik discussed the prospects for Russian-Turkish cooperation in major pipeline projects including the Caspian pipeline from Kazakhstan's Tengiz gas and oil fields to Novorossiisk, Interfax reported on 2 November. Shafranik claimed that the decision to export Kazakh oil via Novorossiisk "has virtually been taken," since this route is the most attractive for Russia on economic grounds. -- Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. CONFLICT-RESOLUTION GROUPS CREATED. At its plenary session in St. Petersburg (2 November Daily Report), the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly created two groups to deal with the Abkhaz and Dniester conflicts. The groups will be headed by Vadim Gustov, Chairman of the Russian Federation Council's CIS Affairs Commitee, and Valerian Viktorov, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Federation Council, respectively. The assembly had earlier formed such a group for the Karabakh conflict. The groups appear designed to maximize Russian political influence on the monitoring mechanisms and eventual resolution of those conflicts, at a time of growing Western efforts to check Russian unilateralism in dealing with the states of the former Soviet Union. While reaffirming the demand for a UN endorsement of Russian "peacekeeping" operations in CIS states, the assembly's resolution said that such operations may be carried out upon decisions by the council of the heads of member states. -- Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIAN OFFICIALS FOR MAKING HASTE SLOWLY ON INTEGRATION. "The CIS states are advancing toward a sort of Community, be it of a union or some other type," Leonid Drachevski, Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry's CIS Affairs Department, told a meeting of staffers of Russian ministries involved in relations with CIS member states. While "not yet" ready for the Eurasian Union proposed by Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev, the CIS member states are increasingly willing to join integrating mechanisms, said Drachevski, but cautioning "haste is out of place here." Meanwhile in Minsk, Russian Federation Council Chairman Vladimir Shumeiko said that the CIS had provided "the only possibility of saving the Soviet Union from complete breakup." Calling for stepped-up legislative integration among CIS states, Shumeiko also advised against a "too hasty formation of supranational management bodies." Interfax reported the remarks of both officials on 1 November. -- Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE CROATS JOIN BOSNIAN ARMY OFFENSIVE. International media reported on 2 November that Bosnian Croat forces have joined their mainly Muslim allies in an attack against Serb-held Kupres. The central Bosnian town had a large Croat population before the Serbs launched "ethnic cleansing" in 1992, and it links Split with the Bosnian interior. The Croats have brought up tanks and multiple rocket launchers, and CNN said on 3 November that the Serbs' big guns were proving ineffective against the government attack from the north and the Croats in the south. The Washington Post added that the reason for the government's latest successes is its adoption of "commando and guerrilla techniques." This involves using small groups to hit the Serbs quickly along an extended front under circumstances that give maximum advantage to Muslim manpower and minimize Serb strengths in artillery. Meanwhile, other fighting was reported around Bihac in the northwest, Brcko in the north, and Trnovo south of Sarajevo, which controls a mountain supply route to the besieged enclave of Gorazde. -- Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. SERBIA UPDATE. On 1 November Tanjug reported that Serbian President Milosevic met with Russian President Boris Yeltsin's new envoy to the former Yugoslavia, Aleksandr Zotov and Russia's new representative to the five-member contact group, Aleksei Nikiforov. The war in Bosnia was discussed, as well as Russian efforts to lift sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia. Meanwhile, Tanjug also reported that Serbia's Patriarch Pavle issued a call for an end to all hostilities in former Yugoslavia, stressing that only negotiations could lead to a settlement. Finally, on 31 October rump Yugoslavia's national bank governor, Dragoslav Avramovic, made his own remarks about the international sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia, noting that their lifting could have the negative effect of putting Belgrade in the position of having to begin repaying its foreign debts. -- Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. POLISH-RUSSIAN RELATIONS IN A QUANDARY. According to Polish press reports on 3 November, Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak intends to telephone his Russian counterpart, Victor Chernomyrdin, to resolve differences between the two countries that caused the cancellation of Chernomyrdin's visit to Poland. Russia said that Poland must make a formal apology for the 23 October incident during which Russian tourists were mistreated by the Polish police and provide compensation for the victims before Moscow would agree to reschedule the visit. Poland said that it would conduct a thorough investigation of the incident and its response would depend on the findings of the investigation (the media report that investigation is already in progress). Polish media speculate that the real motive behind the Russian decision to cancel the visit was not the incident itself, but disagreements within the Russian political and economic establishments over economic problems, including the financial and organizational problems related to the construction of a gas pipeline across Poland to Germany. In addition, both Gazeta Wyborcza and Rzeczpospolita on 3 November speculate that the publicity surrounding the incident might reflect internal political maneuvers in Moscow, both within the government and between the government and the parliament. -- Jan de Weydenthal, RFE/RL, Inc. ARAFAT TO COME TO AUSCHWITZ ANNIVERSARY? According to Rzeczpospolita of 3 November, President Lech Walesa plans to invite all living Nobel Peace Prize winners in January 1995 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the liberation of the former Auschwitz concentration camp. The invitation is also to be extended to Yasser Arafat, who, together with Israel's Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin and Foreign Minister Simon Perez, was the recipient of this year's prize. Rzeczpospolita reports that Walesa's plans have already prompted protests in Israel as well as profound disapproval among several Jewish public organizations. -- Jan de Weydenthal, RFE/RL, Inc. CORRUPTION SCANDAL IN CZECH PRIVATIZATION HEADQUARTERS. CTK reports that on 2 November Czech police arrested Jaroslav Linzer, the head of the Czech Republic's Center for Coupon Privatization and the head of the Securities Registry, for accepting a bribe of more than 8 million koruny ($276,000). A spokesman for the Ministry of Internal Affairs refused to disclose the name of the company that bribed Linzer and other details. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus said that the affair is "very unpleasant" but that it does not shed bad light on voucher privatization as such. Klaus further said he hoped the affair will be thoroughly investigated and promptly solved, so that the charges against Linzer be either confirmed or dismissed. The prime minister claimed that the members of the government were not aware of "Linzer's behavior" and his arrest surprised them. Most opposition parties have said that they have long suspected that the privatization process was riddled with corruption. -- Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc. CZECH MINISTRIES DENY TALKS ON ARMS SALES TO IRAN. Spokesmen for the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defense denied reports on 2 November that the ministries' officials had held talks with Iranian representatives on selling Russian military equipment that is no longer needed by the Czech Army to Iran. The spokesmen were reacting to an article published on 2 November in the Russian daily Izvestiya which claimed that Czech and Iranian officials held secret talks on such sales in Prague at the end of September. The newspaper claimed that Iranians, whose delegation was reportedly led by General Narachijan of the Iranian Ministry of Defense, were interested in MiG-29 fighter planes and spare parts for T-72, T-62, and T-55 tanks. According to Izvestiya, Iran promised to repay its debt of $300 million to the Czech Republic should a contract on military supplies be concluded. -- Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc. CZECH PARLIAMENT PASSES LAW ON NAZI VICTIMS. On 2 November, the Czech parliament passed a bill to compensate victims of Nazi Germany's occupation of the Czech Lands during World War II. CTK reports that victims who are still alive will obtain 2,300 koruny for every month spent in detention, while relatives of those who have died will be eligible for a one-time payment of 100,000 koruny. -- Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAKIA TO APPLY IN 1995 FOR EU MEMBERSHIP. Attending the meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg, Slovak Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan said on 31 October that Slovakia will apply for EU membership in the second half of 1995. He also said he was convinced that Slovakia's association agreement with the EU will be ratified by the end of 1994; four countries (Belgium, Greece, Italy and Luxembourg) still have to ratify the agreement, but if they do not do so before January, Slovakia will also require the ratification of the four new members. Returning to Bratislava on 1 November, Kukan assured TASR that Slovakia has not fallen into the second group of post-communist countries in line for EU membership. -- Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAKIA'S POLITICAL CONTROVERSIES CONTINUE. On 31 October presidential aid Milan Zemko announced that President Michal Kovac invited substitutes to attend the parliament's opening session on 3 November in the place of current government members, but parliament chairman Ivan Gasparovic responded on 2 November by saying that the issue lies in his hands and is not under presidential jurisdiction. On 2 November, the leaders of political parties represented in the parliament met with Gasparovic, but no solution was reached. According to Slovak law, the parliament chairman has 15 days to call in replacements; however, it is unclear whether these 15 days begin on the day the parliament opens. Although the current cabinet will resign following the parliament's opening session, it is obliged to continue its function until a new government is appointed. In terms of top parliament posts, Gasparovic, nominated by the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia, is the only candidate for parliament chairman, while nominees for the position of vice chairman include Lubomir Fogas of the Common Choice, Jan Luptak of the Association of the Slovak Workers, Ivan Simko of the Christian Democratic Movement, Laszlo Nagy of the Hungarian Coalition and Augustin Marian Huska of the MDS. It is still unclear how many vice chairmen will be elected. -- Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. ROMANIA SAYS SOVIET TREATY INVALID. A spokeswoman for the Romanian Foreign Ministry said on 2 November that Bucharest has told Moscow that the 1970 treaty concluded with the Soviet Union was invalid and no longer relevant for Romania's relations with Russia or any other successor state, Rompres and Radio Bucharest reported on the same day. Simona Miculescu said that in a note given to the Russian embassy in Bucharest it was also stated that the question of the validity or extension of the 1970 treaty would not be considered in any way. The note repeated Romania's willingness to sign a basic treaty with Russia in accordance with the new political conditions in the two countries and Europe. The ministry said it did not want to use the termination procedure of the 1970 treaty, calling for twelve months notice, because this would have meant accepting the validity of the treaty until 6 November 1995, which was not the case. The move follows a demand by the opposition Democratic Convention of Romania that Bucharest terminate the treaty by 6 November to avoid its automatic extension for five more years. The DCR said non-termination could delay efforts to obtain some redress for the loss of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, which are now part of Moldova and Ukraine. -- Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc. ROMANIAN POLICE ARREST SMUGGLERS OF RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL. Romanian police said on 2 November they had sized more than 10 kilograms of radioactive material smuggled into the country in 1994, and arrested 21 people involved in the traffic. Lieutenant Colonel Lucian Fuica, head of the organized crime squad, told Reuters that those arrested included two Jordanians, a former Red Army officer from Moldova and two Romanian army officers. Police officials said the radioactive material came from Moldova, Russia and Ukraine. In addition police uncovered the theft of some 230 kilograms of low-grade uranium from Romania's own nuclear plants in 1992 and had arrested some 30 people, all of whom had since been released. Fuica said Romania's Penal Code provides only mild jail terms (from six months to five years) for trafficking in radioactive material, and argued for stiffer terms. -- Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc. BULGARIAN INTERIOR MINISTER ON CORRUPTION. At a 2 November press briefing, Bulgaria's new interior minister, Chavdar Chervenkov, said that Bulgaria's war against corruption had to start at the top. Observing that rumors of corruption in the ministry's highest offices had led to a public disillusionment with the law, he remarked that "the fight has to start from above--to cut out some ulcers so people will be convinced that government is working in the right direction." Chervenkov has promised another reshuffling of officials in the interior ministry before week's end, and has also pledged to fight for reform. Among his major objectives is to reduce the number of weapons owned by citizens by having all weapons re-registered and those deemed superfluous to be confiscated by the government. Reuters carried the story. -- Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. YELTSIN'S VISIT TO UKRAINE DELAYED AGAIN. Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 2 November that Russian President Boris Yeltsin's scheduled visit to Ukraine in the second half of the month is unlikely to take place. This is the second time Yeltsin's visit has been postponed, and again, it is attributed to hitches in the drafting of a Russian-Ukrainian agreement on cooperation which is to be the basis of their future relations. The newspaper writes that this gives Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma the opportunity to discuss Russian-Ukrainian relations with US President Bill Clinton during his visit to the US at the end of the month. -- Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIAN GIVEN OFFICIAL STATUS IN EAST UKRAINE. On 2 November deputies in the oblast council of Luhansk passed a resolution giving the Russian language official status in Luhansk, ITAR-TASS reported. In the resolution they pointed out that in a referendum in the oblast in March, 90% of the Luhansk electorate voted in favor of giving Russian official status. The Ukrainian language has state status. This differs from official in that it applies to the entire country, while official status refers only to regions which are in favor of second language functioning alongside Ukrainian. -- Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. PRIVATIZATION IN BELARUS. The Belarusian guild of property specialists has voiced the opinion that privatization of small enterprises should be transacted exclusively on a cash basis, Belarusian television reported on 2 November. According to the guild, if the privatization of small businesses continues to take place through the privatization cheques which have been issued, it will take 35 years to complete. The ministry of state assets and privatization confirmed that the privatization process is progressing very slowly in the republic. To date less than 4% of state enterprises have been privatized. In Minsk privatization has been insignificant; only 2 small shops have been privatized. The guild finds that one of the biggest obstacles to privatization is that property which could be privatized is being rented out instead. Under the country's rental law, any property which is being leased is immediately excluded from privatization. -- Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. LITHUANIAN PRIME MINISTER IN GREAT BRITAIN. On 2 November Adolfas Slezevicius, accompanied by Transportation Minister Jonas Birziskis and Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party Seimas faction head Gediminas Kirkilas, ended a five-day visit to Scotland and England, the RFE/RL Lithuanian Service reports. On 30 October they attended the signing by the mayors of Edinburgh and Vilnius of an agreement on cooperation in architecture and education. On 31 October they held talks with British Aerospace about the possible purchase or renting of airplanes. On 1 November they visited the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and other financial institutions. Slezevicius had a meeting with Prime Minister John Major which primarily focused on economic questions and Lithuania's integration into Europe. They also discussed Lithuania's relations with its neighbors and its rules for military transit. Trade and Industry Secretary Michael Hazeltine and Birziskis signed an agreement on road transport. Slezevicius, as LDLP chairman, also had talks with the British Labor Party's deputy chairman John Prescott and Socialist International Secretary General Luis Ayala who told him that the question of the LDLP joining his organization is already in the program for its next conference in 1996. -- Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. LATVIA, BELARUS MOVE TO IMPROVE TRADE CONTACTS. Meeting in Riga on 31 October and 1 November, Latvian and Belarusian government representatives and businessmen discussed ways to restore commercial contacts, especially since during the Soviet era the two republics had good economic relations. Belarus is interested in selling its farm equipment and buying fodder, grain, mineral fertilizers and other produce. Furthermore, Belarus is also interested in using Latvian ports to export its products. Meanwhile, Latvian Ambassador to Belarus Janis Lovniks visited President Guntis Ulmanis on 1 November and expressed concern over the delayed ratification of at least six Latvian-Belarusian agreements by the Saeima. Lovniks pointed out that the agreements on frontier crossing and on legal assistance could help tackle problems of money transfers of individuals, customs issues and curb crime and illegal migration, BNS reported on 31 October and 1 November. -- Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc. [As of 1200 CET] (Compiled by Ustina Markus and Pete Baumgartner) 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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