|Nothing helps scenery like ham and eggs. - Mark Twain|
No. 236, 15 December 1994
RUSSIA CHECHNYA: MILITARY SITUATION. Russian forces fell short of their goal of sealing off Grozny by the morning of 15 December. The three columns of armor and motorized infantry, converging on Grozny from three directions, found themselves at distances ranging from 15 to 40 kilometers from the Chechen capital, their advance slowed down by crowds of unarmed villagers blocking the roads and by occasionally effective resistance from outnumbered and outgunned Chechen units. Observers estimated the strength of the invasion force at some 40,000, with at least 200 tanks and armored vehicles in each of the three columns. Correspondents for both Western and Russian media reported numerous local clashes, in some of which Russian fighter-bombers were used. No reliable casualty figures were available. The Russian government press service's "preliminary" figure of 11 Russian soldiers killed and 20 wounded as of 13 December has not been updated since and seems understated in view of the reports of fighting coming in from the field. In a communique on 14 December, the Russian Federation's government reminded the Chechen that the deadline for voluntary disarmament of "unlawful formations" expires on 15 December and threatened to use full force against those failing to comply. -- Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIAN NEGOTIATORS RETURN TO MOSCOW. The Russian delegation that had negotiated with the Chechen government left the North Ossetian capital of Vladikavkaz on 15 December to return to Moscow, agencies reported. Interfax quotes the head of the Russian delegation, Deputy Nationalities Minister Vyacheslav Mikhailov, as citing a statement by Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev and his statement for "total war" as the reason for them leaving. "Because of this the Russian commission regards its mission as fulfilled and with a feeling of regret is returning to Moscow," Mikhailov said. -- Pete Baumgartner, RFE/RL, Inc. SPILLOVER EFFECT IN CAUCASUS. A delegation of the Confederation of the Peoples of the Caucasus handed to the Russian Duma's First Vice Chairman, Mikhail Mityukov, in Moscow a message demanding an end to hostilities and the withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya. The Confederation's parliament chairman, Ali Aliev, warned on Russian TV the same day that unless stopped now, the hostilities will spread far beyond Chechnya. According to Interfax on 14 December, Aliev issued instructions for the setting up of offices to induct volunteers in Nalchik (Kabardo-Balkaria), Maykop (Adygei), Cherkessk (Karachay-Cherkessia), Vladikavkaz (North Ossetia), Nazran (Ingushetia), Makhachkala (Dagestan), Sukhumi (Abkhazia), and Nazran (Ingushetia). Central headquarters are to be set up in Grozny and in Nalchik under the Confederation's Adygei Vice President, Amin Zekhov. In Dagestan, pro-Chechen villagers who had seized 59 Russian soldiers released only some of their captives, contrary to earlier reports. The Russian government's press center charged in a communique on 14 December that "the Dagestani leaders are not making any effort to resolve the issue." Dagestani residents also continued blocking a Russian MVD armored unit en route to Chechnya; the unit has gone into a "perimeter defense posture," Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported on 14 December. Special measures were ordered to reinforce security at key economic and transport installations in Dagestan and to secure Dagestan's borders against the penetration of arms and armed groups from Chechnya. The republic's government appealed to the population "not to follow those who by words or deeds provoke the people into unleashing a new Caucasus war." In Ingushetia's capital Nazran, a mass rally on 14 December protested against the use of force in the Caucasus and demanded "a stop to the murder of Chechen civilians and bombing of Chechen settlements," Interfax reported. Ingush President Ruslan Aushev told Moscow's Independent TV the same day that his people could not forget how the same Russian armored columns "and the same Defense Minister" assisted in the destruction of Ingush settlements and the expulsion of Ingush population from North Ossetia in 1992. He called for "peaceful talks" with Dudaev and "a prompt end to bloodshed." Continuing fighting would "drag in [people from] the neighboring republics, they are already beginning to move." The Ingush authorities charged that drunken Russian soldiers had beaten up the Ingush Minister of Health to death and had also killed one fellow-Russian soldier and injured two others, Interfax reported. Kabardo-Balkaria's parliament and government, evidently caught between two fires, appealed in a joint statement for a Russian-Chechen negotiated settlement while warning the population against heeding "statements that could give rise to armed conflicts in other parts of North Caucasus." Kabardo-Balkaria's President Valerii Kokov decreed a temporary ban on rallies, demonstrations, and pickets in the republic. In Abkhazia's capital Sukhumi, a mass rally was held to express solidarity with Chechnya. Independent TV reported that at this rally and elsewhere in Abkhazia, men were offering services as volunteers for Chechnya; and that Russian forces in Abkhazia were reinforcing its borders to intercept any volunteers. In Baku, a leader of Azerbaijan's opposition Grey Wolves party told Interfax on 14 December that about 270 Grey Wolves had gone to Chechnya as volunteers. -- Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. CRITICAL VOICES. Concern over the invasion's spillover effect was voiced, among many others, by Boris Yeltsin's former ethnic affairs adviser Galina Starovoitova, currently co-chairman of Democratic Russia, on Russian Radio on 14 December. Besides condemning Yeltsin's "crude use" of "notorious tools of imperial policy," Starovoitova predicted that the military intervention in Chechnya will "produce mistrust of the center's policy and centrifugal tendencies in Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Yakutia, Karelia," and other parts of the Russian Federation. Speaking from a military point of view, Lt.-General Aleksandr Lebed in Komsomolskaya pravda of 14 December warned "our state leaders and their all-wise Defense Minister" that they will achieve "a Pyrrhic victory" in Chechnya. In separate statements quoted by the 14 December Financial Times, Lebed and Deputy Defense Minister Col.-General Boris Gromov, both of whom fought in Afghanistan, warned that the intervention in Chechnya could turn into an Afghanistan-type protracted war. -- Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT BROADENS WARNINGS BEYOND CHECHNYA. Appearing on Ostankino TV on 13 December, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin threatened to hold the Chechen and Ingush leaders responsible for "pushing [their] people under the tanks" of the Russian invasion force. (Correspondents' reports from the field indicate that the crowds seeking to block Russian tanks act spontaneously). Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, also on television, accused Ingush President Ruslan Aushev of having "declared war on Russia." In his TV appearance, Chernomyrdin along with First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets at a 14 December briefing cited by Interfax, and Federal Counterintelligence Service First Deputy Director Anatolii Safonov in the governmental Rossiiskaia gazeta of 14 December all charged that "thousands" of fighters from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, and the Baltic States had joined the Chechen forces. (No known independent source has reported on such fighters in Chechnya). The claim may be designed as an excuse for sending in additional Russian forces, or pressuring some of the countries named. Adding a fresh justification for the operation, Federation Council chairman Vladimir Shumeiko described it to Interfax on 14 December as a "peacekeeping mission, to separate the warring sides," such as Russia is undertaking in CIS states. -- Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. POLLS ON RUSSIAN-CHECHEN CONFLICT. Radio Ekho Moskvy cited on 13 December the results of a survey taken the previous day in St. Petersburg on attitudes toward the invasion of Chechnya. It showed 61.5 percent respondents disapproving of the military intervention, and only 17.5 percent agreeing with it either fully or partialy. Asked who is primarily responsible for the military involvement, 28 percent of respondents named Yeltsin; 22 percent blamed Dudaev, and 15 percent the Russian government. Meanwhile, the Interfax sociological bulletin Viewpoint (no. 50) reported on polls involving 1,184 people in various parts of Russia in October 1994. Only 14 percent of respondents agreed with the suggestion that Russian troops be used against Chechnya, in case the situation there deteriorated, while 67 percent disapproved of such a move on the eve of the invasion. In a September 1994 poll 23 percent of respondents said that Russia should recognize Chechen independence; 16 percent said that the government should negotiate with Chechen authorities a special status for the republic within the Russian Federation; and only five percent agreed that all means, including force, must be used to keep Chechnya within Russia. -- Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL, Inc. NATO ENLARGEMENT: YELTSIN, KOZYREV REFINE DEMANDS. Interviewed on Ostankino TV on 10 December, Boris Yeltsin laid down terms for Russia's eventual acceptance of NATO's enlargement in East-Central Europe: "first, no rush; second, very severe conditions for admission into NATO." Yeltsin felt that "the American side will agree" to the first condition and "may agree" to the second after discussions with Russia. Third, "and this is the crux of the matter," Russia's eventual admission to NATO's political structures. Yeltsin claimed to have understood US President Bill Clinton as having held out that prospect in their talks "in small company." Addressing a meeting of representatives of Russian human rights groups, Andrei Kozyrev termed NATO's planned enlargement "mindless," "egotistic," and "cynical," Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported on 9 December. Kozyrev strongly implied that Russia's apprehensions about NATO's enlargement could be laid to rest if Russia were also admitted. He also fell back on the argument that any such step would politically benefit Russian hard-liners. The latter, however, quickly rose to the occasion: "Yeltsin's position on NATO's expansion is also our position," the ultranationalist Russian All-People's Union leader Sergei Baburin told Newsweek of 13-19 December. -- Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. DEFENSE WORKERS STILL ON HUNGER STRIKE. Fifty workers at the Spetstekhnika joint-stock company in Ekaterinburg (a component of Uralmash), are starting the third week of a hunger strike to protest not being paid back wages. According to Interfax of 14 December the regional administration had put 2.5 billion rubles into the company's account and the workers feared that the money would be used to pay some of the company's debts rather than be passed on to them. The workers first went on strike in October, then suspended their protest until 30 November. It was resumed after they got nothing but promises from the company. -- Doug Clarke, RFE/RL, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA DIPHTHERIA KILLS 15 IN GEORGIA. A Georgian official reported on 14 December that diphtheria has killed 15 people in the country in the past two months. Vakhtang Gochaishvili, a Georgian expert on infectious diseases, said "we haven't vaccinated against diphtheria since the Soviet breakup, and that resulted in the epidemic." Gochaishvili said 120 people had been infected with the disease. -- Pete Baumgartner, RFE/RL, Inc. CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE KARADZIC WANTS JIMMY CARTER TO MEDIATE IN BOSNIA . . . International media report on 15 December that Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has contacted former US President Jimmy Carter, first through Serbian-American intermediaries and then directly by telephone. Karadzic told CNN he expects Carter to come to Bosnia soon for talks with Serbs and Muslims, but the former US president stressed that any negotiations he may conduct would be as head of Atlanta's Carter Center and not in any official US capacity. In response to a request from Carter, Karadzic promised he would first implement a six-point program, which mainly involves his keeping promises made earlier and then broken. These include ceasing to harass UNPROFOR convoys, freeing UNPROFOR hostages, and ordering a cease-fire in and around Sarajevo and at its airport. He also pledged to free Muslim prisoners under 19 years of age and "guarantee human rights now and in the future." -- Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. . . . BUT WHITE HOUSE SKEPTICAL, CARTER LESS THAN ENTHUSIASTIC. Initial reactions to Karadzic's latest political surprise were generally skeptical, starting with the White House. Carter has been in telephone contact with President Bill Clinton, whom he promised to keep informed. Karadzic told CNN he sought the former US chief executive as a mediator because he "will be impartial." Carter, however, appeared more reserved, saying to reporters that Karadzic "called me; I didn't call him. I'm not taking sides at all. . . . I don't have any portfolio." Karadzic had originally told Carter through intermediaries that he wanted to "create a new environment" in Bosnia. A number of explanations for his latest moves are possible, ranging from trying to buy time to seeking an elaborate diplomatic cover for what in effect would be backing down from his stated positions. Carter said of Karadzic's promises that "the world can see for itself in 24 hours," but it probably will be much longer before the real story behind this latest initiative comes out. -- Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. MACEDONIAN POLICE DESTROY ALBANIAN UNIVERSITY BUILDING. The Times on 15 December reports that tension is on the rise between the Macedonian authorities and members of that country's large ethnic Albanian minority. According to Albanian sources, the Macedonian police the previous day had "destroyed part of the building designated by the Albanian organizing committee to house the [proposed independent Albanian] university. They confiscated equipment and film from independent television stations in Tetovo and arrested Fadil Sulejmani, the head of the university organizing committee." The university was slated to open on 17 December in Tetovo, a center of Albanian nationalism. In response to the authorities' actions, the three ethnic Albanian parties have met in emergency session, and some 200 demonstrators protested before the ill-fated building. There have been no reports of violence. A Western diplomat said he was trying to convince his superiors at home of the gravity of the situation but that they find it "something quaint or amusing." -- Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. SERBIAN PREMIER PROMISES MORE OF THE SAME. Politika on 15 December quotes Mirko Marjanovic as saying his government's main priority will be to promote policies that "safeguard the stability of the domestic economy." The Serbian premier was outlining his economic policies and strategies for 1995. Earlier this year, hyperinflation wreaked havoc with the economy, apparently as a result of the introduction by National Bank Governor Dragoslav Avramovic of the so-called super dinar, which was pegged to a hard-currency reserve and to the value of the German mark at an exchange rate of 1:1. In recent months especially, Avramovic's apparent reforms have been threatened by the likelihood of renewed inflation. -- Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. WALESA AND GOVERNMENT COALITION TO MEET. President Lech Walesa will meet with leaders of the leftist government coalition on 21 December for talks on the 1995 budget and the current government's future. Walesa vetoed a draft law on taxes and is threatening to reject proposed legislation on wages in the state administrative sector. Both bills are regarded as vital for the budget. If the vetos are upheld, the government will have to prepare a new budget quickly. If the budget is not approved by both the Sejm and the parliament within three months of being submitted to the Sejm, the president can dissolve the parliament and call for new elections. The coalition has been concerned that Walesa, for political and economic reasons, will make repeated efforts to derail its economic program and undermine its political position. The Polish media on 15 December reported that Walesa promised not to dissolve the parliament even if it fails to approve the budget by the 4 February 1995 deadline. But the coalition is concerned that the president's maneuvers will impede policymaking. The forthcoming talks are aimed at finding ways to stabilize the situation--at least until the presidential elections at the end of 1995. -- Jan de Weydenthal, RFE/RL, Inc. CZECH BUDGET APPROVED. The Czech parliament on 14 December approved the government proposal for the 1995 state budget, CTK reports. The proposal foresees a balanced budget, which both expenditures and revenues totaling 411 billion koruny. The National Property Fund will provide some 10 billion koruny to pay for interest on the state debt. Social payments will account for the bulk of expenditures (153 billion koruny). Some 46 billion koruny will be spent on education and 26 billion koruny on the army. -- Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc. CZECH GOVERNMENT SAYS "NO" TO VOLKSWAGEN DEAL. The Czech government on 14 December refused to approve a deal to give the German automaker Volkswagen a majority stake in the Czech car company Skoda. CTK quotes Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus as saying that environmental issues still have to be resolved. Finance Minister Vladimir Dlouhy told the Czech parliament's economic committee that the government will not allow Volkswagen to gain a majority share until an amendment to its agreement with Volkswagen is adopted specifying details of development programs for Skoda. According to Dlouhy, the amendment must also give the Czech side the right to veto crucial decisions made by Volkswagen once it has become a majority owner. Dlouhy argued that original agreements between Volkswagen and the Czech government were flawed, particularly since "the Czech side would have no right to decide about basic questions" once Volkswagen had a 70 percent share in Skoda. Originally, Volkswagen was to invest some DM 8.7 billion over several years and the production of cars was to grow from 200,000 to 340,000 in 1997. Volkswagen was also to build a plant producing 500,000 engines a year. Owing to Volkswagen's financial difficulties, the plans for the plant were scrapped in 1993 and the overall amount to be invested in Skoda was lowered to DM 3.6 billion. Of this sum, only DM 1.2 billion will be direct capital investment, with the remainder taking the form of credits. -- Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAK PREMIER OFFERS RECONCILIATION. Addressing the Slovak parliament on 14 December, Vladimir Meciar asked the opposition to cooperate and urged reconciliation. The opposition parties voted Meciar out of office in March, and since the election campaign in September, relations between him and his political adversaries have been acrimonious. Meciar noted that he made the same offer to President Michal Kovac during the swearing in ceremony at Bratislava castle on 13 December. Meciar had previously sought to oust the president for his role in helping to organize a no confidence vote in Meciar's government in March. The prime minister told the parliament that Slovakia needs to build a political consensus and end political partisanship for the sake of Slovak citizens and the state. -- Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc. VOUCHER PRIVATIZATION IN SLOVAKIA STOPPED. Slovak Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Sergej Kozlik decided on 14 December not to launch the second wave of voucher privatization, due to start on 15 December. TASR reports that Kozlik justified his decision by saying that the second wave had apparently not been well prepared and that there were "deficiencies in [its] technical organization." Kozlik said the second wave would be launched after those deficiencies had been removed but he did not specify a date. Prior to his appointment, Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar had demanded that the second wave of voucher privatization be postponed and that energy-producing companies be removed from the list of firms to be privatized. Property worth 80 billion koruny was to have been privatized during the second wave, but firms worth only 60 billion were on offer. Almost 3.5 million Slovaks registered to participate. -- Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc. HUNGARIAN BORDER GUARD TO BE REORGANIZED. The Hungarian Border Guard is planning to eliminate its Sopron and Zalaegerszeg directorates, in western Hungary, by 31 March 1995, Border Guard Commander Major General Balazs Novaky told the parliament Defense Committee on 13 December. The reorganization, which will cost 1.6 billion forint, was originally planned to take place on 1 December 1994. But it was postponed last month by the Defense Committee, which called it "too hasty" and "ill prepared." The Border Guard's 1995 budget will be 12 billion forint, a 12.5 percent increase over 1994. -- Alfred Reisch, RFE/RL, Inc. HUNGARIAN FOREIGN TRADE. Bela Kadar, chairman of the parliament Budget and Finance Committee and former foreign trade minister, says Hungary must improve trade with the Far East, the Pacific region, and Australia, MTI reported on 14 December. Hungarian exports to the EU and EFTA countries rose in 1994 by 28 percent and 18 percent, respectively, compared with 1993 levels, while exports to other countries fell from $1 billion to $400 million--accounting for a mere 15 percent of Hungary's total exports. According to National Bank Deputy Chairman Frigyes Harshegyi, Hungary's gross foreign debt reached $27 billion and its net foreign debt $17.8 billion in September 1994. Over the past five years, foreign capital worth $8.5 billion flowed into Hungary, 40 percent of which originated from Japan and 10 percent from the United States. -- Alfred Reisch, RFE/RL, Inc. HUNGARIAN-ROMANIAN MILITARY RELATIONS. Reporting on his November visit to Romania, Hungarian Defense Minister Gyorgy Keleti told the parliament Defense Committee on 13 December that Bucharest will reduce its armed forces by an additional 42,000 troops in 1995, following a cut of 35,000, MTI reported. The Defense Ministry is drafting a proposal dealing with bilateral military cooperation, including joint maneuvers within the framework of NATO's Partnership for Peace program. -- Alfred Reisch, RFE/RL, Inc. RESITA PROTEST ENDS. A nine-day protest by workers in Resita ended on 14 December, when Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu agreed to an aid package for the crisis-hit industries in that town, Radio Bucharest and Western agencies reported. The government promised contracts totaling some $70 million in 1995 for a machine-tool factory and a steel mill. It also pledged to seek foreign investors willing to help modernize Resita's loss-making plants. The two main enterprises, whose order books are empty, have been unable to pay salaries for the last two months. The Vacaroiu administration met the demonstrators demand to accept the resignation of the prefect of Caras-Severin county. It also pledged to improve social conditions in Resita and invest more money in the local infrastructure. Critics say that Vacaroiu's handouts are no solution to Romania's economic woes and may even damage the reform process in the long run. The Resita protest has been described as one of the worst instances of labor unrest in Romania since the collapse of Nicolae Ceausescu's regime in December 1989. Elsewhere, coal miners in Rovinari started a strike on 14 December and oil workers called a two-hour warning strike for the next day. -- Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL, Inc. BULGARIA PREPARES FOR 18 DECEMBER ELECTIONS. International media on 14 December report on the parliament vote set for 18 December. Polls show the Bulgarian Socialist Party taking the largest share of the vote (30 percent), with the anti-communist Union of Democratic Forces coming in second (20 percent), and the mainly Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms third. The main issues are falling living standards and rising crime. The ex-communist BSP, which has a younger image than did Todor Zhivkov's party and is led by 35-year-old economist Zhan Vidinov, has tried to capitalize on popular discontent over these and other issues. Its chances are aided by divisions within anti-communist ranks and by the disappointing performance and often combative behavior of UDF leaders after they formed a government in 1991. The pattern ever since has been one of weak coalitions. -- Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. DATA ON ALBANIAN LABOR FORCE. Statistical data for the third quarter of 1994 show a slight drop in unemployment, Gazeta Shqiptare reports. Of the country's total labor force of 1.423 million, some 261,000 (18 percent) remain unemployed. The bulk of those with jobs are in the agricultural sector (some 750,000 people are employed in private agriculture). More than 120,000 people have found jobs in the agricultural sector in the past nine months alone. In urban areas, 321,000 people are employed in the state sector and 91,000 in the private sector. At the end of September, 57,000 people were claiming unemployment benefits, compared with 108,000 at the end of 1993. -- Louis Zanga, RFE/RL, Inc. CRIMEAN PARLIAMENT CHAIRMAN ANNOUNCES RESIGNATION. Sergei Tsekov on 14 December announced he was quitting his post as Crimean parliament chairman, but deputies immediately voted to reject his resignation, Reuters reported the same day. Tsekov said he was stepping down following a tumultuous week in the legislature over proposals to change the composition of the parliament's leadership. Some parliament factions are demanding greater representation in the Presidium. which decides the parliament's agenda and procedural issues. Tsekov said after the vote not to accept his resignation that he had taken the correct decision. "In this situation I needed a certain measure of confidence. We must hold talks to come up with solutions," he was quoted as saying. Tsekov played a major role in the September standoff between the Crimean parliament and Crimean President Yurii Meshkov, which resulted in Meshkov being stripped of many of his powers. -- Jan Cleave, RFE/RL, Inc. UKRAINIAN SOLDIERS TRY TO SMUGGLE MISSILE FUEL ABROAD. Security officials in Kiev told Reuters on 13 December that they had arrested two Ukrainian servicemen who were planning to smuggle samples of missile fuel abroad. The officials said the two servicemen--one of whom was an Army captain with access to a missile fuel storage area--tried to take out of the country two containers holding samples of the fuel. They reportedly admitted that they intended to sell "a significant quantity" of the fuel to another country after they had delivered the samples. The official would not say where the fuel had come from or its intended destination. The Soviet SS-18 and SS-24 intercontinental ballistic missiles were both built in Ukraine. -- Doug Clarke, RFE/RL, Inc. SUICIDES IN THE UKRAINIAN ARMED FORCES. An official from the Ukrainian Defense Ministry told a news conference on 12 December that more than 300 soldiers and officers died in the Ukrainian armed forces in the first eleven months of 1994--most of them by suicide. As reported by Interfax, the official said nearly half of those who died were officers. He added that the death rate was down 13 percent from the previous year. -- Doug Clarke, RFE/RL, Inc. LATVIAN TEACHERS END STRIKE. The Latvian Education and Science Workers Union decided on 14 December to end the general strike that begun on 12 December and to return to work the next day, RFE/RL's Latvian Service reports. The teachers had demanded a 16 percent wage increase as of 1 January but accepted the government's offer to delay the raise until 1 March. After a cabinet meeting on 13 December, Education and Science Minister Janis Vaivads said the government will need an additional 9.163 million lati ($16.6 million) to pay for the raise. This means the Saeima will have to amend the 1995 budget, which was adopted at its first reading. -- Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. LATVIAN-RUSSIAN AGREEMENTS SIGNED. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Krylov and State Secretary of the Latvian Foreign Ministry Maris Riekstins on 14 December in Moscow signed a consular convention and four agreements on border demarcation and visa exchange, Diena and Interfax report. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, who attended the signing, said that the border is "acquiring a humanitarian and civilized character" and that the documents should be a prelude to the settlement of bilateral disputes over the rights and status of the Russian and Latvian minorities in the two states. He said he would like to see similar agreements signed between Russia and Estonia. -- 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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