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Russia: Economic Measures Aim To Pressure Latvia

By Moscow, 8 April 1998 (RFE/RL) -- Russia's Prime Minister-designate Sergei Kiriyenko said today the government has prepared a list of economic measures against Latvia because of the country's treatment of its ethnic-Russian minority.

ITAR-TASS quoted Kiriyenko as saying the measures include a series of restrictions on the purchase of Latvian goods and services, "including energy transit services." Kiriyenko said Russia has been forced to resort to such action.

Earlier today, the Kremlin said President Boris Yeltsin supports taking economic measures to pressure Latvia to change what the Kremlin described as its "unceasing policy of discrimination" against ethnic Russians. Kremlin spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky said Russia did not view possible measures against Latvia as sanctions but as "chanelled economic pressure".

Yastrzhembsky said among the measures being seriously considered was the idea to reroute oil export routes, bypassing the Baltic state.

Ties between Russia and Latvia, precarious ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, soured recently after Latvian police broke up a demonstration by Russian-speaking pensioners in Riga.