When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece. - John Ruskin
RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 238, 19 December 1994

As previously announced, the RFE/RL Research Institute will close
at the end of December.  The RFE/RL Daily Report will cease
publication with the issue of December 23, 1994.

A daily digest, similar to the RFE/RL Daily Report, will commence
publication at the beginning of January 1995 and will be available
both electronically, via Internet, and in hard copy. It will be
published by the Open Media Research Institute in Prague--a
public-private venture sponsored by the US Board for International
Broadcasting and the Open Society Institute. Contributors to the
Daily Digest will be the OMRI staff of some 30 country
specialists. The length of the new daily digest and the extent of
coverage will be comparable to the RFE/RL Daily Report.  For more
information, write to the Open Media Research Institute, Motokov
Building, Na Strzi 63, 14062 Prague 4, the Czech Republic, tel.
0042-2-6114-2114; fax 0042-2-426-396.
-------------------------------------------------------------

                              RUSSIA

CHECHNYA: ULTIMATUM AND COUNTER-ULTIMATUM. Chechen President
Dzhokhar Dudaev responded on 16 December to Russian President
Boris Yeltsin's extension of the deadline for Chechens to disarm
by reiterating that he would not agree to talks until all Russian
forces withdrew from Chechen territory, Russian and Western
agencies reported. On 17 December the Russian Security Council met
for three hours and decided not to extend the deadline beyond
midnight on 17 December. The Council invited Dudaev to travel to
Mozdok in North Ossetia that evening for talks on disarming the
Chechen military with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Egorov
and Federal Counter Intelligence chief Sergei Stepashin, and
called for "decisive measures" to avert armed attacks on Russian
troops and civilians. Chechen Vice President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev
dismissed the invitation as "a joke," according to Reuters. Dudaev
responded to Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's 16
December offer to meet him anywhere for talks by inviting
Chernomyrdin to Grozny; Chernomyrdin declined to do so unless the
Chechens first lay down their arms. ITAR-TASS quoted Egorov as
stating that Grozny would be bombed if Dudaev failed to comply
with the extended ultimatum; the Chechen government press service
threatened to execute some 20 Russian prisoners if Grozny was
subjected to aerial attack. Dudaev met during the evening of 17
December with his military commanders to plan the defense of
Grozny. Shortly before the midnight deadline Dudaev sent a
telegram to the Kremlin agreeing to begin negotiations with no
preconditions and to head a delegation to that purpose, Reuters
and ITAR-TASS reported. Russian warplanes flew over Grozny and
bombed military targets on the outskirts of the city during the
morning of 18 December. Yeltsin acknowledged receipt of Dudaev's
telegram of the previous evening and again called on him to travel
to Mozdok for talks with Stepashin and Egorov, affirming that "if
an agreement on a ceasefire and the laying down of arms is signed
in your presence today I will consider it proof of your
willingness to normalize the situation," ITAR-TASS reported.
Dudaev dropped his insistence that he would talk to only Yeltsin
or Chernomyrdin, but reiterated that any talks must be held in
Grozny; he also stated that he would be prepared to hold a
referendum on Chechnya's future status, according to Reuters.
Interfax quoted Russian presidential spokesman Yuri Leonov as
stating that Dudaev's latest offer of talks in Grozny had been
rejected as it offered nothing new. Two bombs were dropped on
central Grozny during the night of 18-19 December, and Russian
forces were reported to be advancing towards the city. -- Liz
Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc.

OFFENSIVE ON GROZNY. The one Russian column approaching Grozny
continued using artillery and aerial power against Chechen
positions and residential areas as well as engaging Chechen forces
in tactical clashes, Russian and Western media reported. Moscow's
official toll of 16 Russians killed through 16 December is
generally deemed understated. The Russian side has yet to
acknowledge the Chechen civilian casualties, estimated to number
in the hundreds. One major official justification for the
intervention is to protect the physical security of the Chechens,
in their capacity as Russian Federation citizens, in connection
with the "inter-Chechen conflict." -- Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc.

DIRECT RULE FROM MOSCOW ANNOUNCED. As predicted (16 December Daily
Report), the Kremlin announced on 18 December that Yeltsin had
decreed the introduction of a "territorial administration" in
Chechnya, instituting direct rule from Moscow in place of the
republic's government structures. The decree orders the Russian
Federation government to form in Chechnya within five days organs
of executive power directly subordinated to the central executive
agencies. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Nationality
Affairs Nikolai Egorov is appointed head of the territorial
administration for Chechnya. The deputy head of President Boris
Yeltsin's administration, Vyachaslav Volkov, told Russian media on
18 December that the territorial administration will be permitted
to establish subordinate structures of Russia's Ministry of
Internal Affairs and Federal Counterintelligence Service in
Chechnya and to coordinate their activities effectively. --
Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc.

RUSSIAN GENERAL: LAW AND HUMANITY ABOVE ORDERS. On 15 and 16
December Major-General Ivan Babichev, commander of one of the
three Russian columns moving toward Grozny, publicly announced
that he was halting the advance and would refuse to use force
against civilians. The military operation against Chechnya was
unlawful and inhumane, and any orders to attack the population or
residential areas would be "criminal," Babichev said. He made the
statements to Russian and Western journalists and in a
fraternizing encounter with a predominantly female Chechen peasant
crowd astride his column's path. He also strongly implied that a
nighttime attack by unidentified forces against his column had
probably been orchestrated by Russian security services in order
to provoke an attack on the Chechen. Officers from various
elements of the column told the press that they had prepared
letters of resignation from the military and would submit them if
ordered to attack. Comprised of several hundred tanks and armored
vehicles, elements of a motor rifle division and of the elite
Pskov paratrooper division, MVD units, and other elements,
Babichev's column had refrained from challenging civilian crowds
thwarting its advance through Ingushetia and Chechnya toward
Grozny. The column's head is still reported 35 kilometers from
Grozny and its rear still in Ingushetia. Another column seems to
be marking time on the Dagestan-Chechnya border. -- Vladimir
Socor, RFE/RL, Inc.

ETHNIC RUSSIANS ALSO VICTIMS. Ethnic Russians, whose share in the
population of Grozny and environs remains substantial, are being
made to suffer the rigors of bombardment and blockade alongside
the indigenous Chechen population. Respected human rights
campaigner and Duma deputy Sergei Kovalev told RIA on 16 December
that "many of the industrial and residential buildings on the
outskirts of Grozny have been destroyed." Outside Grozny, hardest
hit by Russian forces has been the predominantly Russian-inhabited
town of Pervomayskoe. Ethnic Russians interviewed by Russian and
Western media express indignation at Moscow's use of force which
puts their lives at risk. Reports from the field also speak of the
emergence of a sense of solidarity among local ethnic Russians and
Chechens in the face of common adversity. There are no reports of
Chechen threats of any kind to local Russians. One of the
justifications for the Russian intervention had been the presumed
need to protect ethnic Russians in Chechnya. -- Vladimir Socor,
RFE/RL, Inc.

DUDAEV APPEALS TO TURKEY FOR HELP. Dudaev has addressed an appeal
to Turkish President Suleyman Demirel to help achieve peace in
Chechnya, and Demirel has informed Russian President Yeltsin of
the contents of the appeal and called for resolving the Chechen
crisis by peaceful means, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 December,
quoting a Turkish television report. ITAR-TASS further quoted
Turkish Foreign Minister Murat Karayalcin as assuring
representatives of the Turkish Committee for Caucasian-Chechen
Solidarity on 17 December that Turkey would take measures to reach
a peaceful solution in Chechnya. -- Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc.

SHEVARDNADZE SUPPORTS RUSSIAN ACTION IN CHECHNYA. Russia must
defend its national interests and territorial integrity in
Chechnya, Eduard Shevardnadze told ITAR-TASS on 18 December.
Shevardnadze said Georgia supports a united and indivisible
Russia, because if Moscow will not curtail an "aggressive
separatism," it could lead to the disintegration of the Russian
Federation. Georgia, which has a joint border with Chechnya, has,
of course, a special reason to support military action against
Dudaev; it has its own separatist territory, Abkhazia, and
Shevardnadze hopes that the Chechen example will help legitimize
Georgian policy towards its secessionist state. -- Victor Yasmann,
RFE/RL, Inc.

DUMA APPROVES YELTSIN'S BILL ON PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. Russian TV
newscasts and news agencies reported on 16 December that the State
Duma approved the first reading of a bill on the election of the
Russian president. Proposed to parliament by Yeltsin, the draft
law is surprisingly similar to the one advocated by the leader of
democratic opposition, Grigorii Yavlinsky (see Daily Report of 11
November). According to the bill, a candidate must collect two
million signatures to be nominated for the presidency. Political
parties and parliamentary factions would also have to submit two
million signatures to nominate their candidates. Most importantly,
members of the government and journalists would have to suspend
their professional activities should they decide to run for the
presidency. Over 200 lawmakers voted for the law, and only two
abstained. The only controversial provision, according to TV's
"Vesti," was the requirement that more than 50 percent of eligible
voters have to take part in the election. Some legislators voiced
their concern over this provision in view of the evident decrease
in people's participation in the political process the past few
years. -- Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL, Inc.

FOREIGN TRADE ACT PROPOSED TO PROTECT RUSSIAN ECONOMIC SECURITY.
The government has introduced a foreign trade bill to the State
Duma that would substantially centralize foreign economic activity
in the state and private sectors. The central provision of the
bill is a temporary restoration of the state monopoly in several
import and export branches, reported ITAR-TASS and Russian
television on 15 December. According to Deputy Foreign Trade
Minister Mikhail Fradkov, the goal of the bill is "to protect the
economic security and sovereignty of Russia." (Russian television
on 13 December expressed the concern of some Russian economists
about the structure of state imports. According to statistics,
foreign food imports have moved towards the top of Russian
imports). It is doubtful that the proposed protectionist bill
would bring the expected results, but rather could increase
corruption among the officials responsible for issuing quotas and
licenses. -- Victor Yasmann, RFE/RL, Inc.

LIBERAL NEWSPAPER ACCUSES WEST OF TRYING TO UNDERMINE RUSSIAN
BANKS. Mikhail Leontiev, the senior editor of the liberal
newspaper Segodnya, has accused Western secret services of
"instigating" a smear campaign in the American and French mass
media against Russian commercial banks. In an article published on
16 December, Leontiev wrote that the CIA and the other Western
intelligence services organized a "leak" of information alleging
that the Russian banks "Menatep" and "Most" are connected to
organized crime. Leontiev said he believes that the goal of "this
action" is to compromise Russian financial institutions, which the
West sees as potential competitors. In fact, the information about
connections between criminal entities and Russian financial
institutions was published earlier this year by various members of
the international and Russian organizations. Among them were the
United Nations, Interpol and the Russian Academy of Sciences. --
Victor Yasmann, RFE/RL, Inc.

                  TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

FORMER EREVAN MAYOR ASSASSINATED. Former Erevan Mayor Ambartsum
Galstyan was shot dead outside his home in Erevan on 17 December,
according to a stringer for Radio Liberty's Armenian Service. One
of the founding members of the Karabakh Committee and its
successor, the Armenian Pan-National Movement, Galstyan left the
APNM in 1992 and joined the opposition National Democratic Union
headed by former Prime Minister Vazgen Manukyan. A government
commission has been formed to investigate the murder. -- Liz
Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc.

                    CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

FORMER COMMUNISTS WIN ELECTIONS IN BULGARIA. The Bulgarian
Socialist Party, successor to the communist party, has won the 18
December general elections, international agencies report. But
with 75 percent of the votes counted, it seems unlikely that the
Socialists will have an absolute majority in the new parliament.
According to preliminary results, the BSP won between 42-43
percent of the votes (between 118 and 120 seats in the 240-seat
legislature). The Union of Democratic Forces, the largest alliance
of opposition parties, gained 23-24 percent of the vote, a loss of
about 10 percentage points. The Movement for Rights and Freedom,
whose supporters are largely ethnic Turks, chalked up 5 percent.
The People's Union and the Business Bloc of Georgi Ganchev both
gained parliamentary representation for the first time, receiving
6 percent and 5 percent, respectively. The Democratic Alternative
of Republicans, a coalition of several small parties, also seems
likely to be represented, having won about 4 percent of the vote.
Bulgarian Television estimated turnout at 75 percent and reported
that 2 percent of the votes cast were invalid. According to
observers, the main reason for the BSP's success is the UDF's
failure to solve the grave economic crisis in Bulgaria and to stem
the growing crime rate. -- Stefan Krause, RFE/RL, Inc.

MUSLIM REBELS RETAKE VELIKA KLADUSA. International media reported
late on 17 December that Velika Kladusa in the Bihac area fell to
troops loyal to local kingpin Fikret Abdic and his Krajina Serb
allies. Abdic declared autonomy from the Bosnian government, of
which he had been a member, earlier this year but was defeated
late in the summer by the government's Fifth Corps. Velika Kladusa
was the headquarters in the 1980s of Abdic's Agrokomerc business
empire, which later crumbled under a mountain of worthless
promissory notes and bad loans. He was tried and imprisoned, but
locals always regarded him as a folk hero and called him "Babo"
(or daddy) as a sign of affection for the prosperity he brought
the region. Abdic may now be dependent on Serb backing, but he has
already established himself as something of a Richard Nixon of
ex-Yugoslav politics as far as political comebacks are concerned.
So, it is too early to say his career is over. -- Patrick Moore,
RFE/RL, Inc.

CARTER OFF ON BOSNIAN PEACE MISSION. International media reported
on 17 December that former US President Jimmy Carter left on a
three- or four-day trip to the former Yugoslavia. His goals are to
obtain a cease-fire in Bosnia and to win support for the existing
Contact Group peace plan. His first stop was Zagreb, where
meetings with Croatian President Franjo Tudjman and Bosnian Prime
Minister Haris Silajdzic were slated. In the course of his stay in
the region, he is expected to meet with UN representative Yasushi
Akashi, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, Bosnian President
Alija Izetbegovic, and Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic. The
BBC on 18 December said that diplomats and most other observers
give Carter little chance of succeeding. It noted that Karadzic
has yet to implement his promised six-point peace plan, which, in
any case, would simply involve his returning to promises he has
already broken. -- Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc.

MILOSEVIC IN ATHENS. Both Borba and Politika on 19 December report
that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic arrives in Athens the
same day for meetings with Greek Premier Andreas Papandreou and
other officials. The situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and
bilateral relations are expected to top the agenda. Accompanying
Milosevic is rump Yugoslav Foreign Minister Vladislav Jovanovic,
who is slated to meet with his Greek counterpart, Karolos
Papoulias. -- Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc.

SITUATION TENSE OVER ALBANIAN-LANGUAGE UNIVERSITY IN MACEDONIA.
News agencies reported on 17 December that Macedonian authorities
are maintaining a strong police presence in Tetovo and are
controlling roads leading into the town, which is a stronghold of
Albanian nationalism. The latest tension stems from the Albanians'
announcement that they would open a university of their own on 17
December because the authorities have for years refused to
introduce one as part of the official education system. The police
responded last week by destroying the building the Albanians had
put up to house their classes, but the Albanians opened the
university anyway at midnight on 17 December at the offices of
their leading Party for Democratic Prosperity. Nevzet Halili, a
prominent Macedonian Albanian who is heavily involved in the
university issue, said the institution would hold its first
classes on 19 December as scheduled but gave no other details. --
Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc.

SEJM FAILS TO CONDEMN MARTIAL LAW. The Polish parliament on 16
December failed to condemn the 1981 martial law that crushed the
Solidarity labor movement and arrested political change for almost
a decade. The nationalist Confederation for an Independent Poland
and the leftist Union of Labor presented draft statements
commemorating the 13th anniversary of the 1981 events, but the
confederation's draft was rejected and the union's changed through
votes by the postcommunist Alliance of the Democratic Left. All
opposition deputies subsequently left the chamber, and a statement
on martial law could not be approved owing to the lack of a
quorum. Both Gazeta Wyborcza and Rzeczpospolita on 17-18 December
recalled that many people were arrested and interned during
martial law and that some were even killed, but neither the
perpetrators of crimes nor the initiators of martial law have been
punished. -- Jan de Weydenthal, RFE/RL, Inc.

POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC. At its congress in
Karlovy Vary on 18 December, the Civic Democratic Party reelected
Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus as party chairman. Of the 275
delegates, 266 voted for Klaus, who was the only candidate for the
post. Libor Novak, a 32-year-old lawyer, replaced Petr Cermak as
executive deputy chairman. Cermak has recently been involved in
several controversies. Klaus told the congress's delegates that
the CDP's victory in the November local elections had proven wrong
those who had predicted a decline in the party's popularity.
Meanwhile, three centrist parties (the Liberal Social Union, the
Agrarian Union, and the Bohemian-Moravian Party of the Center)
completed a merger on 17 December. Jan Jegla was elected chairman
of the new group, which will be called the Bohemian-Moravian Party
of the Center. -- Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc.

CZECH-RUSSIAN DEAL ON REPROCESSING NUCLEAR MATERIAL. The
environmental group Greenpeace on 16 December accused the Czech
Republic and Russia of having struck a secret nuclear reprocessing
deal whereby the Czechs will send nuclear waste to Russia for
reprocessing. Products gained from reprocessing, including
plutonium and radioactive waste, are to be sent back to the Czech
Republic, Reuters reported. However, the Vienna-based
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said the same day that
there was nothing illegal about Prague sending spent nuclear waste
to Russia for reprocessing and receiving other materials in
return. Both Russia and the Czech Republic are signatories to a
treaty under which they agree to inform the IAEA about nuclear
materials entering or leaving their countries. An IAEA spokesman
said he was sure the two countries would comply with this
stipulation. He also said the planned exchange of nuclear material
is "a completely legal and normal procedure." -- Jiri Pehe,
RFE/RL, Inc.

NUCLEAR MATERIAL SEIZED IN PRAGUE. Czech police officials on 16
December announced they had seized a large quantity of what they
described as "strategic nuclear material." CTK quotes Czech
Interior Ministry spokesman Jan Subert as saying that the
confiscated material is uranium. He said it was discovered in
Prague on 14 December. According to Subert, the material is safely
stored and the public is not in danger. He added that the
seriousness of the case and its ongoing investigation barred him
from disclosing further information. -- Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc.

CHANGES IN SLOVAK STATE MEDIA. The Slovak parliament on 16
December recalled Ivan Stadtrucker from his post of director of
Slovak Television, TASR reported. Both coalition and some
opposition deputies voted for Stadtrucker's removal. He has been
accused of incompetence and the failure to cooperate with the
Board for Radio and Television Broadcasting. Jozef Darmo was
appointed as Stadtrucker's replacement. The new Slovak
administration, led by Vladimir Meciar, also installed Erika
Vincourkova, a journalist working for the ruling Movement for a
Democratic Slovakia's daily Slovenska Republika, as head of the
popular radio program "Radiozurnal." The appointments are the
latest in a wave of personnel changes initiated by the new
government. Meciar said on 16 December that the changes did not
constitute a purge and were not politically motivated. He said his
government was "only seeking to improve quality where it was
lacking." -- Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc.

SLOVAK PREMIER ON NEW LAW, PARLIAMENTARY INVESTIGATION. Vladimir
Meciar, in an interview with the Czech daily Mlada Fronta Dnes on
17 December, defended the need for "a law on the protection of the
republic," which, he said, could be used "if the opposition does
not accept the fact it lost the elections and tries to organize
mass protests" or if ethnic and social conflicts threaten the
country's stability. Meciar also alleged that when he was recalled
from his post in March as a result of a parliamentary no
confidence vote, "money and bribes in the parliament" played a
role. The prime minister said there would be an investigation and
those found guilty punished. -- Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc.

NATO DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL IN HUNGARY. At the invitation of the
Lajos Batthyany Foundation, NATO Deputy Secretary-General Gerhard
von Moltke on 16 December spoke in Budapest about the role of
Central Eastern Europe and NATO, MTI reports. Moltke stressed that
major steps had been taken over the past five years toward a more
democratic and united Europe, but he warned that the interim
period seemed to be lasting longer than expected. The NATO
deputy-secretary said the concept of security had also changed in
recent years. Admission as a NATO member depended not only on the
political makeup of a country but also on its social, economic,
demographic, and environmental structures. Moltke stressed that in
order to continue to be a major security factor in Europe, NATO
must remain effective and trustworthy. He also said a reformed and
democratic Russia must actively participate in the Partnership for
Peace program. -- Judith Pataki, RFE/RL, Inc.

US CONCERNED ABOUT EXTREMIST INFLUENCE IN ROMANIA. The new US
ambassador to Romania, Alfred Moses, said on 16 December that the
United States was concerned about the influence of extremists on
the country's government, Reuters reported the same day. The US
diplomat said Washington had expressed its concern to the Romanian
government, but he added "We don't make political marriages in
Romania" He declined to name parties but made these statements in
response to a question about the influence of nationalists and
neo-Communists. Moses urged the government to move faster on
economic reform, particularly the privatization of state
companies. He praised Romania as a beacon of stability in the
region, despite the war in nearby former Yugoslavia. He also said
the US was determined to help Romania gain closer links to Western
security and political structures. -- Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc.

ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT ATTACKS HDFR DECLARATION. In a statement
issued on 16 December and carried by Radio Bucharest the same day,
the Romanian government said a declaration adopted by the Council
of Representatives of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of
Romania on 10 December was to be rejected as expressing
"anti-nationalist positions" which insult both Romania's history
and its people. According to the 16 December statement, the HDFR
had said that in Romania, the "idea of the national state has been
resurrected from the dustbin of history." The government also said
the HDFR's repeated demands for autonomy and self-determination
for the Hungarian minority contradicted the "most elementary ideas
of a state based on the rule of law and of democracy." It said
these were "extremist manifestations, wrapped-up in demagogy and
combined with complaints addressed to the highest European
forums." The HDFR said in response that its declaration had been
mistranslated into Romanian and that the Romanian government was
exploiting a mistake of which it was well aware in order to
encourage bad feelings toward the Hungarian minority and the HDFR.
-- Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc.

TIMISOARA MARKS REVOLUTION ANNIVERSARY. Several thousand people
marched in Timisoara on 16 December to mark the fifth anniversary
of the events that sparked the overthrow of Nicolae Ceausescu's
regime, Radio Bucharest and international agencies reported the
same day. The march began at the former residence of Laszlo Tokes,
now a bishop of the Reformed Church, and proceeded to Opera
Square. The Romanian revolution started with demonstrations near
Tokes's home on 16 December 1989 in protest at the authorities'
decision to force the priest to leave Timisoara. The crowd in
Opera Square was addressed, among others, by the president of the
opposition Democratic Convention of Romania, Emil Constantinescu.
Many demonstrators shouted anti-government slogans and accused
President Ion Iliescu and his colleagues of having hijacked the
revolution. The official ceremonies marking the uprising in
Timisoara were held separately on 17 December and are to continue
over the next few days. -- Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc.

MEETING OF BALTIC AND NORWEGIAN DEFENSE MINISTERS. Meeting in
Tallinn on 16 December, Foreign Ministers Enn Tupp (Estonia),
Janis Trapans (Latvia), Linas Linkevicius (Lithuania), and Jorgen
Kosmo (Norway) agreed that all major obstacles to the formation of
the joint Baltic Peacekeeping Battalion (BaltBat) had been
removed, BNS reports. Kosmo said tasks for the immediate future
included setting up a functional system for information exchange
between BaltBat and the foreign states that support it and
continued English-language instruction for BaltBat peacekeepers.
Kosmo officially handed over to Estonia a 36-meter Storm class
ship that Norway had donated. -- Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc.

LITHUANIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS TO BE HELD 25 MARCH. The Seimas on 15
December voted 59 to 10 with 15 abstentions to set the date of
local elections for 25 March, BNS reports. Candidates are to be
nominated by political organizations and the winners determined by
a proportional system. The parliament also ratified Lithuania's
free trade agreement with Ukraine by a vote of 74 to one.
President Algirdas Brazauskas nominated Pranas Kuris and Vladas
Nikitinas as chairman of the Lithuanian Supreme Court and
prosecutor-general, respectively. -- Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc.

ESTONIAN PREMIER IN FINLAND. Andres Tarand flew to Helsinki on 16
December for meetings with his counterpart, Esko Aho, President
Martti Ahtisaari, and parliament chairwoman Riitta Uosakainen, BNS
reports. Ahtissari pledged Finland's support for Estonian
associate membership in the European Union. The two premiers
discussed visa-free travel between their two countries, but Aho
said this would be possible only after Estonia has tightened
control over its borders. Aho also told Tarand that Finland would
provide 1.3 million kroons to clean up liquid waste at the former
Russian submarine base at Paldiski and 500,000-750.000 kroons to
improve Estonian-language instruction in Narva. -- 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
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