The World This Week

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The Independent Online
MARKING a further step towards the triumph of capitalism in Russia, privatised firms are to start issuing and selling shares on Thursday, much to the satisfaction of Russian industrialists who feared their plans were to be derailed by last week's opposition from diehard anti-capitalist MPs.

Every Russian will be given vouchers to buy shares in state enterpises which are being shed by the government, or, if the prospect of owning chunks of the old socialist patrimony does not appeal, they may deposit the vouchers in savings accounts or sell them for cash.

Marking the passing of another old order, Czechoslovakia is to approve on Wednesday a number of federal laws that will dissolve the Czechoslovak federation and divide up the assets in preparation for the establishment of separate Czech and Slovak republics in the new year. Some areas of policy, notably economic, defence and foreign affairs, are still to be jointly run.

The division of Czechoslovakia is proving to be rather more harmonious than the unification of Germany, which took place two years ago on Saturday. A programme of celebrations is planned to mark the occasion, but the authorities fear counter-demonstrations and outbursts of racial violence among east Germans, for whom the unification process has failed to live up to its promise.

Helmut Kohl, who long dreamed of a united Germany and rammed it through with scant regard for the cost of rebuilding eastern Germany, celebrates his 10th year as Chancellor on Thursday. 'Reality has gone much further than my own expectations,' he admitted yesterday. His reputation has been battered by the economic and social upheavals that unification has brought in its wake and polls predict he will not be re-elected in 1994.

The campaign against Brazil's President Fernando Collor de Mello gathers pace tomorrow, when the lower house of Congress votes on whether to impeach him. If two-thirds of the deputies vote in favour, Mr Collor will be suspended for 180 days while the Senate decides whether or not to sack him. Mr Collor's opponents are hoping to benefit from his misfortunes in nationwide municipal elections on Saturday.

Elections are to be held for the first time in Angola tomorrow and on Wednesday. They follow a 16- year civil war which broke out after independence from Portugal. The two main candidates, President Jose Eduardo dos Santos of the ruling MPLA and Jonas Savimbi, the Unita leader, are so bitterly polarised that the 16-month ceasefire could dissolve into violence at any moment. Hundreds of international and UN observers are spread throughout the country to monitor the contest to choose 223 MPs and a president.

Though ravaged by war, Angola is potentially hugely rich, with diamonds, oil and fertile land. Mozambique, which also inherited a 16-year civil war from Portuguese colonial rule, has no such advantages. The Frelimo government and the Renamo guerrillas are to sign a peace deal in Rome on Thursday and Mozambique's parliament is expected to ratify the deal on Friday or Saturday. But there is every expectation that the peace will be followed by mass starvation. Oxfam predicts that Mozambique is weeks away from a disaster on the scale of the famine in Somalia.

The UN is trying to combat the twin scourges of civil war and starvation in Somalia through consultations with Somalia's neighbours this week. The UN special ambassador, Mohamed Sahnoun, visits Kenya today to talk to President Daniel arap Moi about the possibility of bringing Somalia's warring clans together for the first time at a round-table in Nairobi. Mr Sahnoun then flies on to Ethiopia and Sudan to discuss peace initiatives and plans to feed Somalia's people.

Some 140 Japanese troops arrive in Cambodia on Thursday and Friday as part of Japan's contribution to the UN peace-keeping forces there. By the end of the month, 850 ground troops will be in Cambodia, with up to 500 Japanese air and maritime troops engaged in transport duties. It is the first time Japanese troops have been deployed overseas since the Second World War.

The servicemen will be issued with the latest equipment, including 100-inch television sets, camcorders to send video messages to their families, a gym, a massage parlour and karaoke machines. A defence ministry spokesman explained: 'These men will be working hard. They are young and they need to relieve stress.'

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