It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link in the chain of destiny can be handled at a time. - Sir Winston Churchill
RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 234, 13 December 1994

                              RUSSIA

CHECHNYA RESISTS RUSSIAN TROOP ADVANCE. Chechen government forces
launched a rocket attack on advancing Russian troops and tanks
some 15 miles northwest of Grozny on 12 December, Russian and
Western agencies reported. The Russian forces retaliated with a
helicopter attack; several injured were reported on each side. The
fighting ceased at nightfall. A Russian negotiating team met
separately in Vladikavkaz on 12 December with delegations from the
Chechen government and the opposition Provisional Council.
According to Interfax, the Provisional Council agreed to comply
with President Boris Yeltsin's demand to lay down their arms. No
progress was made towards any agreement between the Russian and
Chechen governments. The Chechen Information Agency denied that
Chechnya had declared war on Russian, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Liz
Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc.

RESISTANCE IN INGUSHETIA . . . Crowds of Ingush civilians
including women and children continued thwarting the advance of
Russian armored columns. They variously barricaded roads, placed
themselves in front of advancing columns, siphoned off fuel from
trapped tanks and APCs, disabled their tracks, or shot at and set
some of them on fire, Reuters and AFP correspondents reported from
two scenes of action on 12 December. They also reported Russian
helicopter attacks on presumed sniper positions. The reports
further suggested that Russian MVD soldiers were mostly passive
and demoralized, and in some cases even seemed to sympathize with
the local people. Russian headquarters charged via ITAR-TASS that
some local residents were firing at the vehicles' fuel tanks and
wheels. In a blustering statement released through Russian media
the same day, Defense Minister Pavel Grachev charged that more
than 30 armored vehicles had been set on fire and that some
Russian soldiers had been dragged out of their vehicles by the
Ingush. Grachev accused Ingushetia's Ministry of Internal Affairs
of colluding with the civilian resistance and firing on the
Russian troops. Grachev moreover accused Ingush President Ruslan
Aushev (alongside whom he had fought in Afghanistan) of having
"declared war on Russia." Aushev replied the same day that his
people were showing their solidarity with the Chechen and accused
some Russian troops of starting incidents by firing on civilians.
-- Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc.

. . . AND IN DAGESTAN. Russian invasion headquarters in the North
Ossetian town of Mozdok said via its press service on 12 December
that in both Ingushetia and Dagestan, residents in some villages
were shooting at military columns and attempting to capture
weapons, vehicles, and soldiers, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported.
In an area of Dagestan close to Chechnya's border, following the
killing of several local people, residents blocked a Russian
military column and captured at least 48, apparently MVD soldiers
on 11 December--the number was updated to 59 on 12
December--including four officers ranging in rank from major to
colonel. The villagers also captured at least four armored
vehicles which they dispatched to Chechen headquarters in Grozny.
Leaders in Dagestan interceded with the villagers for the release
of the captives. Russian media reported on 12 December that most
captives were being released. Russian headquarters charged
Dagestan's police with passivity and said--in what may be an
oblique accusation--that the Russian soldiers had "entered into
talks" prior to their capture. -- Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc.

YELTSIN ADDRESSES PARLIAMENT ON CHECHNYA. President Boris Yeltsin
addressed both chambers of the Russian parliament on 12 December
with a sarcastic letter, which aimed to show the implausibility of
the government resolving the Chechen conflict through
negotiations, as the parliament and public are demanding. Yeltsin
put before the upper house, the Federal Assembly, these three
rhetorical questions: (1) Should the Russian Federation negotiate
the status of Chechnya as a part of Russia, and is the parliament
ready to introduce into the constitution an amendment on the right
of Chechnya to secede, in view of the possible domino effect this
would have on other secession-minded republics within the Russian
Federation? (2) Should Russia talk to Chechen President Dzhokhar
Dudaev? (Yeltsin reminded parliamentarians that such a provision
would necessitate the State Duma to formally recognize the 1991
election of Dudaev as president.) (3) Citing a 25 March 1994 State
Duma statement on the Chechen problem, which stated the necessity
of free elections as a precondition for talks with the Chechen
leadership, Yeltsin asked the deputies how they would organize
free elections in Chechnya considering the current situation.
Yeltsin concludes his letter with a statement accusing the
deputies of sensationalizing the tragedy of the Chechen people and
the plight of Russia for future benefit in election campaigns. The
text of Yeltsin's letter to parliament was read on Radio Rossii.
-- Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL, Inc.

MOST STATE DUMA FACTIONS AGAINST INVASION. On 12 December leaders
of the State Duma discussed developments in Chechnya behind closed
doors. Following the meeting, leaders of the parliament factions
held a joint news conference at which it appeared that most of the
bigger factions of the State Duma condemn the invasion, Russian TV
"Vesti" reported. Those in opposition included four democratic
parties (Democratic Choice, Yavlinsky-Boldyrev-Lukin bloc,
pro-government Party of Russian Unity and Concord and the
opposition Democratic Party of Russia), the Communist Party, the
Agrarian Party, and Women of Russia. Only one faction, Vladimir
Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party, approved of the invasion,
as did two smaller groups of deputies--the nationalist Russian
Path, led by Sergei Baburin and the Liberal Democratic 12 December
Union, chaired by former Russian Finance Minister Boris Fedorov,
"Vesti" reported. -- Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL, Inc.

COMMUNISTS, DEMOCRATS RALLY IN PROTEST OF INVASION. A rally
organized by the once pro-Yeltsin Democratic Russia movement that
included the Russia's Choice party led by Egor Gaidar and the
faction of the economist Grigorii Yavlinsky, was held on 11
December at Moscow's Pushkin Square two hours after news of
Russian military intervention in Chechnya was reported. On 12
December, two demonstrations condemning the invasion were held at
Pushkin Square simultaneously--one organized by democrats and
addressed by a number of former liberal Russian and USSR
ministers, and the other by the militant pro-communist Workers'
Russia movement of Viktor Anpilov. Speakers at both rallies,
including a member of Gaidar's party, Sergei Yushenkov, the head
of the Duma Committee on Defense, urged that Yeltsin be impeached
because of the invasion (the call was later rebuffed by Gaidar).
Later that day, according to Russian TV newscasts, the Moscow
mayor's office warned Gaidar that the rallies were illegal because
the organizers had not received permission for the meeting as
required by law. -- Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL, Inc.

FORMER JUSTICE MINISTER ON HIS RESIGNATION. At a news conference
on 9 December, Russian TV "Vesti" reported that former Russian
Justice Minister Yurii Kalmykov gave two reasons for his
resignation on 8 December. According to Kalmykov, he was the only
member to have ruled out the use of force against Chechnya at a
session of the Russian Security Council earlier this year, and he
said he submitted a letter of resignation to Yeltsin immediately
after the session. Kalmykov said the other reason was the
establishment inside Yeltsin's administration of an analog of the
communist party Politburo that has the final say on all affairs in
Russia without being responsible for the outcomes of their
decisions. Kalmykov told the news conference that the functions of
his ministry were for all intents and purposes taken over by the
ill-reputed Main Legal Administration (GPU) within Yeltsin's
administration. -- Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL, Inc.

RUSSIA TO EXPORT ARMS TO SOUTH KOREA. An official of the Russian
arms export firm Rozvooruzhenie told Interfax on 9 December that
Russia would export weapons to South Korea. The official declined
to describe the type of arms involved or their value but said that
they would be partial repayment of the Russian debt to South
Korea. The agency quoted Western sources as estimating that debt
at $400 million and South Korean sources as speculating that tanks
and air defense systems would be provided by the Russians.
Contracts are to be signed in early 1995. -- Doug Clarke, RFE/RL,
Inc.

                  TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

ELECTION RESULTS IN TURKMENISTAN. All 50 candidates for the 50
seats in Turkmenistan's new Majlis (Assembly) were elected on 11
December with majorities ranging from 76 to 100 percent of the
vote, Western and Russian agencies reported on 12 December. The
candidates were all nominated by President Saparmurad Niyazov;
most are members of his Democratic (formerly Communist) Party.
Although voter turnout was officially reported to be 99.8 percent,
AFP reported that few voters in Ashgabat appeared to have actually
cast ballots. According to Reuters, about 24 percent of the voters
in Mary showed their displeasure by crossing out a candidate's
name. Election Commission Chairman Aleksandr Dodonov told Reuters
that the tiny opposition group Agzybirlik could not participate in
the election because it had failed to produce the 1,000 signatures
necessary to register as a party. -- Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc.

PRIVATE OWNERSHIP OF LAND IN KAZAKHSTAN? Kazakhstan's Prime
Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin told a press conference in Almaty on
12 December that his government is asking the country's
legislature to approve private ownership of land, ITAR-TASS
reported. The issue has been hotly debated in the Kazakh press
since the country gained independence. President Nursultan
Nazarbaev has consistently rejected private ownership of land as a
threat to interethnic relations in Kazakhstan; along with many
Kazakh intellectuals, Nazarbaev has argued that Russians would be
in a better position to purchase land than would rural Kazakhs,
who would face a major threat to their traditional semi-nomadic
lifestyle. According to the report, Kazhegeldin did not explain
the reason for the radical shift in government policy. -- Bess
Brown, RFE/RL, Inc.

TURKMEN DISSIDENTS IMPLICATED IN PLOT. According to an Ekho Moskvy
radio broadcast on 11 December, two Turkmen dissidents,
Muhammedguli Aimuradov and Hoshali Garaev, who were arrested in
Tashkent on 29 October and delivered to Ashgabat, have told their
captors that they were involved in a plot to assassinate Turkmen
President Saparmurad Niyazov. The press secretary of the Turkmen
embassy in Moscow said that the pair have claimed that the plot
was directed by Murad Esenov and Halmurad Soyunov, Turkmen
dissidents living in Moscow who were detained by the Russian
Counterintelligence Service in late November. Turkmen authorities
are trying to arrange their extradition to Turkmenistan. Esenov
has been a correspondent for Radio Liberty's Turkmen Service. --
Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc.

                               CIS

MIKITAEV WARNS CIS, BALTIC STATES. On Russian Radio on 12
December, Abdullakh Mikitaev, head of the Citizenship Affairs
Department of President Yeltsin's Administration and chairman of
the interdepartmental Special Commission on Citizenship appointed
by Yeltsin, charged in blanket fashion and without substantiation
that "most of the new states" discriminate against their Russian
populations in the areas of language, education, political
participation, economic management, "and other spheres." Mikitaev
warned Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and by implication
other CIS member states that they will face "a growing movement
for the creation of territorial autonomies or of enclaves of
citizens of Russia" if the alleged discrimination continues. He
claimed that the leaders of newly independent states are
"prisoners to nationalist movements" and thus "prevented from
making correct decisions" in this regard. He again called for the
acceptance by newly independent states of dual citizenship with
Russia. -- Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc.

                    CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

SERBS BLAST UN ARMORED PERSONNEL CARRIER. International media
report on 13 December that Bosnian Serb forces the previous day
before fired two wire-guided anti-tank missiles at a Bangladeshi
APC in what UN spokesmen called a "direct targeting of the United
Nations." The incident took place near Bihac and is the latest in
a series of Serb provocations against UNPROFOR. The Serbs denied
permission for a severely wounded Bangladeshi soldier to be
evacuated by helicopter, so General Sir Michael Rose sought Serb
approval for his removal by ambulance. The attack on UNPROFOR was
part of a renewed Serb shelling of Bihac, a UN-declared "safe
area." On 13 December, the UN plans a "testing day" of a Serb ban
on APCs accompanying UN aid convoys. The Serbs said that the APCs
caused too much damage to the roads. -- Patrick Moore, RFE/RL,
Inc.

KARADZIC AWAITS VISIT BY CONTACT GROUP. Borba on 13 December
quotes Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic as telling a news
conference in Pale the previous day that the international Contact
Group should come to him and explain its new "interpretations" of
the peace plan as a basis for further discussions. He was playing
host to Zoran Djindjic and a delegation of the Democratic Party
from Serbia. Elsewhere, international media report from Washington
and Paris that the US and French defense ministers have met and
suggested new policy ideas for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Given the
diversity of voices speaking from Western capitals, it is unclear
what, if anything, will come of these proposals. But it does
appear that Paris is no longer claiming that it is about to
withdraw its UNPROFOR contingent soon. -- Patrick Moore, RFE/RL,
Inc.

SERBIAN SOCIALISTS STILL HAVE PUBLIC SUPPORT? Politika on 13
December runs an article stating that the Socialist Party of
Serbia, headed by Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, would
reemerge as the governing party if "elections were held tomorrow."
The article is based on an assessment by Zivojin Djuric, director
of a Belgrade institute for political studies. Djuric notes that
regrettably, many Serbian voters see the SPS as representing a
predictable and secure status quo. He adds that many would rather
endorse the party they are familiar with than support one that
questions the status quo and promises changes for the better.
Djuric stresses that Serbs tend to seek out the familiar rather
than to gamble on improvements. For instance, he notes that many
Serbs would rather have "a secure job with lower pay . . . than
higher pay and a greater risk of losing the job." -- Stan
Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc.

POLISH HEALTH WORKERS ON HUNGER STRIKE. A hunger strike by health
workers that began on 2 December has gained nationwide support,
according to Gazeta Wyborcza on 13 December. The health workers
are protesting low wages. A doctor with some 10 years' experience
earns about $200 a month, while a nurse with more than 25 years'
experience earns less than $120 a month (the average monthly
salary exceeds $200). Health workers in the industrial city of
Lodz are about to start their own hunger strike, and the
Solidarity labor union plans to organize a mass protest in Warsaw.
Rzeczpospolita on 13 December reported that President Lech Walesa
intends to veto the government's bill on wages in the public
sectors. -- Jan de Weydenthal, RFE/RL, Inc.

CZECH ECONOMY RANKED TWELFTH FREEST IN THE WORLD. According to an
index published by the Heritage Foundation in New York on 12
December, the Czech Republic ranks 12th among the world's freest
economies, international agencies report. It is considered freer
than any other postcommunist economy or those of Sweden, Spain,
France, or Italy. Hong Kong and Singapore top the list. The index
ranks 101 economies but omits, for example, the Netherlands,
Norway, and Denmark. It was prepared to help the US government
reform its system of assistance to foreign countries and as a
guide for investors. Of the other postcommunist countries, Estonia
ranks 17th, Slovakia 29th, Hungary 31st, Poland 62nd, and Russia
73rd. -- Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc.

CZECHS AND SLOVAKS DISCUSS DIVISION OF ARMY ASSETS. The commanders
of the Czech and Slovak armies, Jiri Nekvasil and Jozef Tuchyna,
respectively, met on 12 December in the Czech town of Vyskov to
discuss outstanding questions about the division of the former
Czechsolovak Army's assets. CTK reports the main problem still to
be resolved is the division of former Czechoslovak military
counterintelligence and intelligence service documents, which are
in Prague. Tuchyna told reporters that the two armies hope to sign
an agreement on bilateral cooperation by mid-1995. -- Jiri Pehe,
RFE/RL, Inc.

MECIAR PRESENTS SLOVAK GOVERNMENT LINEUP. Slovak Prime
Minister-designate Vladimir Meciar on 12 December presented his
cabinet lineup to President Michal Kovac. Twelve members of the
new government are from Meciar's Movement for a Democratic
Slovakia, four from the Association of Slovak Workers, and two
from the Slovak National Party. The coalition government will have
the support of 83 deputies in the 150-member Slovak parliament.
Kovac approved the government's composition the same day and will
officially install it on 13 December. The MDS's Katarina Tothova
and Sergej Kozlik and the ASW's Jozef Kalman have been named
deputy prime ministers. Kozlik will also be minister of finance.
The other MDS ministers are: Jan Ducky (economy), Peter Baco
(agriculture), Jozef Zlocha (environment), Olga Keltosova (labor),
Ludovit Hudek (internal affairs), Ivan Hudec (culture), Lubomir
Javorsky (health), Alexander Rezes (transportation and
communications), and Juraj Schenk (foreign affairs). The other ASW
ministers are Peter Bisak (privatization), Jozef Liscak (justice),
and Jan Mraz (public works--to be created in January). The SNP's
ministers are Jan Sitek (defense) and Eva Slavkovska (education
and science). -- Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc.

OUTGOING SLOVAK PREMIER EVALUATES HIS GOVERNMENT. Jozef Moravcik
was quoted by Pravda on 12 December as saying his government's
achievements were surprisingly good during its nine months in
office. Moravcik stressed that Slovakia's GDP will grow by more
than 4 percent in 1994 and the annual inflation rate will be some
12 percent. In addition, Slovakia's hard-currency reserves have
tripled during his government's tenure. At a press conference in
Bratislava on 12 December, following his government's last
session, Moravcik said the country's budget deficit is currently
only 9 billion koruny, although a deficit of 14 billion koruny was
anticipated. He noted that nothing stands in the way of the second
wave of voucher privatization, which his government began
preparing in September. However, Prime Minister-designate Vladimir
Meciar urged President Michal Kovac to name his government before
15 December, when the second wave is due to be officially
launched, so that his government can prevent that from happening.
Meciar argued that the project has been ill-prepared. -- Jiri
Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc.

STRIKES IN HUNGARY. Despite last-minute negotiations between the
government, the Hungarian State Railroads (MAV), and the Railroad
Workers and Engine Drivers unions, Hungary's rail workers launched
a 36-hour strike late on 12 December, MTI and Radio Budapest
reported. Some domestic and international trains are still
running. The workers, who blamed the strike on the government and
the MAV, are demanding a 20 percent wage increase but have been
offered only 9 percent to date. The workers of the High Alloy
Steel Works of Diosgyor are holding a two-hour warning strike on
13 December to protest the government's delay in reorganizing the
county's ferrous metallurgical sector. Talks between employer and
labor officials on raising the national minimum wage ended without
success on 12 December. Three days earlier, the Democratic Union
of Teachers expressed dissatisfaction with the current
negotiations on teachers' wages. It said it would examine the
possibility of a strike by teachers and other public employees. --
Alfred Reisch, RFE/RL, Inc.

FIRST NATIONAL MINORITY SELF-GOVERNMENTS IN HUNGARY. National and
Ethnic Minorities Office Chairman Janos Wolfart says that all
Hungary's 13 minorities--with the exception of the
Ukrainians--requested the creation of minority self-governments,
MTI reported on 12 December. Some 660 direct elections for
minorities were held in the 11 December municipal elections, 67
percent of them for the Roma ethnic minority; and 470 minority
self-governments were set up. In addition, five ethnic Germans and
three ethnic Slovaks were elected mayors. Wolfart called the
initiative a success, noting that it also received strong support
from Hungarians living in minority-inhabited areas. -- Alfred
Reisch, RFE/RL, Inc.

HUNGARIAN-US TRADE. During the first nine months of 1994,
Hungarian exports to the US rose by 19.7 percent, from $252.6
million to $302.6 million, compared with the same period in 1994.
Imports from the US dropped by 18.2 percent, from $423.4 million
to $346.4 million, Hungary's Ministry of Industry and Trade told
MTI on 13 December. Machinery, transportation equipment, and spare
parts accounted for 51 percent of Hungary's imports, while
materials, semi-finished products and spare parts made up 37.3
percent of Hungary's exports to the US. -- Alfred Reisch, RFE/RL,
Inc.

ROMANIAN PREMIER WARNS RESITA PROTESTERS. The Resita protest
entered its seventh day on 12 December, with some 15,000 workers
demonstrating again outside local government offices. Romanian
Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu advised the protestors to go back
to work if they want to overcome economic and social hardship, but
they vowed to continue their protest until the premier came to
talk to them. Some 2,500 workers in the town of Arad demonstrated
in sympathy for their colleagues in Resita. Vacaroiu, who met with
members of a special commission on the situation in Resita,
pledged to go there later this week. In a statement broadcast by
Radio Bucharest, President Ion Iliescu expressed "concern" over
what he described as the "politicization" of the Resita protest.
Former prime minister and leader of the opposition Democratic
Party Petre Roman said his party planned to introduce a
no-confidence motion against Vacaroiu's left-wing minority
government. -- Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL, Inc.

POLISH PREMIER IN ROMANIA. Waldemar Pawlak on 12 December began a
two-day official visit to Romania, Radio Bucharest reports. In
separate statements at the Otopeni airport, Pawlak and Vacaroiu
said bilateral relations were "traditionally good." The two
leaders met several times to discuss the need to boost mutual
economic ties, as well as cooperation with other members of the
so-called CEFTA group. Romanian and Poland are scheduled to sign a
series of bilateral agreements during Pawlak's visit. -- Dan
Ionescu, RFE/RL, Inc.

ANTI-MOLDOVAN DEMONSTRATION IN BUCHAREST. Some 500 students and
other citizens staged a demonstration outside Moldova's embassy in
Bucharest on 9 December, Reuters and Romanian Radio and Television
reported. With fists thrust in the air, the demonstrators called
for Moldova's accession to Romania and chanted "traitors" and
other abuse aimed at President Mircea Snegur and the Moldovan
government. More than 100 riot police were deployed to guard the
embassy. The demonstration took place exactly one year after the
sentencing of six Moldovan Popular Front activists in the
"Dniester republic." Irredentist groups in Moldova and Romania
accuse Tiraspol, Moscow, and Chisinau of conspiring to jail that
group and, more generally, to block Moldovan-Romanian unification.
The Bucharest demonstrators also gathered outside the Russian
embassy. This was the first anti-Moldovan demonstration in
Romania, indicating the steady deterioration in Moldovan-Romanian
relations. -- Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc.

MOLDOVA'S TREATMENT OF MINORITIES PRAISED BY BULGARIAN PRESIDENT.
On an official visit to Moldova on 11 December, Bulgarian
President Zhelyu Zhelev met with his Moldovan counterpart, Mircea
Snegur, and other Moldovan officials. He also visited the ethnic
Bulgarian settlement area in southern Moldova. Zhelev told
journalists that "by its tolerant attitude toward minorities,
Moldova demonstrates that it is a democratic state," Interfax and
Basapress reported. Leaders and representatives of all mother
countries--with the exception of Russia--have similarly assessed
the situation of Moldova's minorities since Moldova became
independent. Zhelev and Snegur signed a trade agreement providing
for the mutual granting of most-favored-nation status. -- Vladimir
Socor, RFE/RL, Inc.

CLINTON INVITES ZHELEV TO WASHINGTON. Reuters and AFP on 12
December reported that US President Bill Clinton has invited his
Bulgarian counterpart, Zhelyu Zhelev, to visit Washington in
January. Clinton praised Bulgarian foreign policy as "a source of
stability in the Balkans," noting that Zhelev has promoted good
relations with its neighbors, renounced territorial claims,
enforced UN sanctions, and worked within the Partnership for Peace
project. Meanwhile in Bulgaria, attention is focused on the
parliamentary elections slated for 18 December. Polls show the
ex-communist Socialists in the lead. On 10 December, an early
victory party with singing and dancing was held by Sofia
pensioners, who are a strong source of Socialist support. That
party has also attacked non-communist parties as responsible for
crime and corruption and called for a return to traditional
communist-era "moral values," Reuters reports. -- Patrick Moore,
RFE/RL, Inc.

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT FIRES TOP ENERGY OFFICIAL. Leonid Kuchma on 12
December sacked State Oil and Gas Committee Chairman Mykhailo
Kovalko for failing to make gas debt payments to Turkmenistan in
line with an agreement reached in November with the Central Asian
republic, Reuters reported the same day. Two other officials were
also fired and several given reprimands. Kuchma told a meeting of
regional leaders that he had been misled to believe that payment
on arrears of the debt, totaling $713.5 million, had been made. He
noted that situation had been rectified when Ukraine made a $41
million payment to Turkmenistan and that Turkmen President
Saparmurad Niyazov had assured him that gas deliveries would soon
resume. Kuchma stressed he would not tolerate inefficiency or
corruption in the energy sector. -- Jan Cleave, RFE/RL, Inc.

ESTONIAN SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY CONGRESS. The fifth Congress of
the Estonian Social Democratic Party on 11 December elected
Minister for Regional Policy Eiki Nestor as chairman, BNS reported
on 12 December. Nestor replaces Marju Lauristin. The congress
decided to renew its agreement with the Rural Centrist Party to
run jointly in the 5 March 1995 parliament elections under the
name of the Moderates. The ESDP had previously signed an agreement
with the Trade Union Association to field joint candidates. Prime
Minister Andres Tarand, who is officially unaffiliated but was
elected to the parliament in 1992 on the Moderate ticket, declined
to confirm that he would run in the elections. The congress also
approved its pre-election program urging changes in the country's
education, research, culture, and wage policy. -- Saulius Girnius,
RFE/RL, Inc.

BELGIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN LATVIA. Frank Vandenbroucke on 12
December held meetings with Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis,
Prime Minister Maris Gailis, and other government officials, BNS
reports. He told leaders of the parliament's factions that the
Saeima should pass a law on the status of non-citizens before
Latvia's expected admission into the Council of Europe in February
1995. Vandenbroucke also told Gailis that Belgium will support
Latvia's associate membership in the European Union. With his
Latvian counterpart, Valdis Birkavs, he signed a bilateral
agreement on air communications and initialed an agreement on the
protection and promotion of mutual investments. Vandenbroucke will
hold similar high-level meetings in Vilnius and Tallinn on 13 and
14 December, respectively. -- Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc.

SWEDISH ETHICAL COMMISSION AGAINST SALVAGING "ESTONIA" BODIES. The
nine-member Ethical Advisory Commission to the Swedish government
on 12 December recommended unanimously that the ferry "Estonia,"
which sank off the coast of Finland on 28 September, be
permanently sealed to prevent attempts to plunder the wreck,
Western agencies report. The commission said the area around the
wreck should be declared a restricted zone and considered a
graveyard. The commission decided against suggestions that the
ferry be raised or bodies be recovered from it. Swedish Transport
Minister Ines Uusmann said that the government, which asked for
the recommendations, would make a final decision on the fate of
the wreck on 14 December. -- Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc.

[As of 1200 CET] (Compiled by Jan Cleave 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
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