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Russia: Official Accuses Latvia, Estonia Of Profiteering

By Peter Zvagulis

Moscow, 11 December 1996 (RFE/RL) - A Russian Foreign Ministry official yesterday accused Latvia and Estonia of profiteering from Russian freight traffic.

Itar-Tass quotes Valery Loshchinin, head of the foreign ministry's second European department, as saying that up to 40 percent of the budget revenue of Latvia and Estonia comes from the transit of Russian goods across their territory. He made the comment in Moscow at a meeting of Russian regional representatives devoted to international trade.

Loshchinin said that a key aim of Russian economic policy toward the two countries "is to eliminate or reduce to a minimum" what he called "the Baltic republics' parasitical exploitation of Russian external trade as intermediaries."

A Latvian Foreign Ministry official contacted yesterday by RFE/RL said no reaction was available on Loshchinin's comments. No comment was available from Estonian officials.