|Be slow of tongue and quick of eye. - Cervantes|
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 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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