Here is the news - of 1994: The Eastern bloc

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The Independent Online
TO MAINTAIN his political momentum, Mr Vladimir Zhirinovsky will say and do even more outrageous things than in 1993. He will seek to stir trouble in Moldova, Kazakhstan and other republics where Russian minorities live. The most important thing to watch out for is any sign that he is creating a private army. If he is not under arrest by next January, he will be either dead or the most dangerous man on earth.

With the usual exceptions of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, few places will be free of trouble this year in the former Communist bloc. The real danger spot may turn out to be Ukraine as the economy collapses and bitter disputes with Russia continue.

Far too many Russians in Russia, and, increasingly, far too many Russians in Ukraine, cannot bring themselves to think of Ukraine as a genuinely separate state. Mr Zhirinovsky's success in the Russian elections will harden the Ukrainian determination to retain independence at any cost. So will evidence that Russia's present leaders are out to rebuild

Moscow's influence over Ukraine and other former Soviet republics. However, Ukraine's ecoweakness and dependence on Russia are so pronounced that Ukrainian leaders will have to contemplate concessions to Moscow.

The country has the potential to disintegrate into a Ukrainian nationalist west and a Russia-leaning east and south, with Kiev and other areas contested just as they were after the 1917 Revolution. Unlike in 1917, Ukraine these days has 176 inter-continental nuclear weapons on its soil. For that reason, the West cannot stand idly by.

In Bosnia, expect a Muslim spring offensive, Croatian retaliation and decisive Serbian moves to create a state uniting Serb-controlled parts of Bosnia and Croatia. Britain, France and Spain will probably scale down their UN presence in Bosnia.

The long-awaited shoot-out for power in Serbia could finally happen in 1994. Much depends on whether Slobodan Milosevic can secure a favourable Bosnian settlement, get UN sanctions lifted, reduce Serbia's world- beating inflation rate and keep down the Albanians of Kosovo. Even if he stays in power, the Albanian problem will loom across the southern Balkans.

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