News Latvia Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis

Valdis Dombrovski's resignation was accepted by the Latvian president today

No real joy as Russian troops pull out of Latvia

THE LAST regular Russian troops will leave Latvia today but festivities planned to mark their departure have been cancelled as hardline Baltic nationalists believe there is nothing to celebrate.

Russian troops to quit Estonia on time

APPARENTLY without making any concessions to Moscow, the Estonian President, Lennart Meri, yesterday persuaded Boris Yeltsin to sign an agreement whereby all remaining former Soviet troops will leave his small Baltic country by the end of August.

PM resigns

RIGA - Latvia's Prime Minister, Valdis Birkavs, announced his resignation yesterday after his year-old coalition government fell apart. Reuter

Swedish minister quits over Baltic bridge plan

STOCKHOLM (Reuter) - The Swedish Environment Minister, Olof Johansson, resigned yesterday after the government said it would press ahead with plans to build a controversial bridge and tunnel link to Denmark.

MUSIC / Glad to be grey men in grey suits: Stephen Johnson on the opening of the Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music

Concerts, like football matches, are normally games of two halves. But rarely have the two halves been so sharply contrasted as in the concert by the Estonian ensemble Hortus Musicus last Saturday - the opening night of the Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music. The appearance of the players in Part 1 was not promising: grey suits, grey shirts and grey bow-ties. The music chosen - medieval Anons from the Baltic, plus Arvo Part - was on the whole grey too, with the gorgeous exception of an anonymous solo setting of a devotional O Maria, nicely, if not quite gorgeously, sung by the soprano Helle Mustonen. The playing often seemed as low-key as the dress sense; and at one point in the lugubrious opening organ voluntary one of the musicians cleared his throat noisily - not an encouraging sign.

Inside File: Cash bait for Baltic Russians

VOUCHERS from Uncle Sam are the latest ruse to get Russian troops out of the Baltics. There are an estimated 2,400 active servicemen still in Estonia, whom Moscow has displayed discernible difficulty in withdrawing. In addition, there are some 10,000 - nobody knows the exact figure - 'retired' servicemen. As some of them are under the age of 40, and have long-standing connections with the old KGB in Moscow, they are not reckoned by the Estonians to be all that retired. The Estonians want them out.

Docklands rescue

One of the latest Docklands sites to be rescued from the receivers is Baltic Quay, on the south bust, now being offered for rent at between pounds 137 and pounds 275 a week. A two-bedroom flat with a balcony and underground parking costs from pounds 160 a week. Contact Oliver Jacques on 071-231 6011.

Latvia accord

The presidents of Russia and Latvia signed a treaty on Saturday that would remove all 12,000 Russian troops from the Baltic nation by 31 August, AP reports from Moscow. Agreements accompanying the treaty cover social guarantees for more than 22,000 retired Russian servicemen living in Latvia, and Russia's continued use of a radar base in the town of Skrunda.

Russia and Latvia sign pullout pact

MOSCOW - President Boris Yeltsin signed a landmark agreement with Latvia yesterday pledging to withdraw former Soviet troops from the republic by 31 August, writes Helen Womack. While about 10,000 Russians will leave, a few will remain to man the Skrunda radar station for four years.

Estonia says Moscow is reneging on troop deal: Tallinn fears the Russians want to delay their departure

ESTONIA accused Russia yesterday of reneging on an agreement to withdraw its remaining troops from the Baltic state by 31 August. In a statement issued after two days of talks in Moscow, the Estonian foreign ministry said that Moscow had 'presented its positions in a more or less ultimatum-style' and that in so doing had set back the negotiations on Russian troop withdrawals by several months.

Fishermen die in Baltic ice

At least two fishermen died and 64 were rescued by army helicopters from ice floes off Russia's Baltic Sea coast, Reuter reports from Moscow. More than 100 fishermen began drifting out to sea from Kaliningrad as the floes broke away.

Champion of Lithuanian freedom appeals for help from West: Adrian Bridge reports from Vilnius on widespread fears that Russia again has designs on the Baltic states

VYTAUTAS LANDSBERGIS, the man who steered Lithuania to independence just over two years ago, appealed to the West yesterday not to leave his country in the lurch in the wake of what he declared was a growing threat from Russia.

Lithuania link-up

The Lithuanian President, Algirdas Brazauskas, signed a Partnership for Peace document with Nato yesterday, Reuter reports from Brussels.

Freedom shots: Photographers from the Baltic States are enjoying a new-found artistic expression. Jane Richards finds traces of the Soviet occupation

Gvido Kajons is extremely fussy about the final results of his photographs. He will not tolerate changes to the finished product in the printing process and strives to achieve images that are sharp, detailed and full of texture. This may sound like standard procedure - but Gvido Kajons is a photographer from the Baltic States and artistic freedom of choice is relatively new to him.

BOOKS / Lithuanian Modernist

The Lithuanian-born Chaim Soutine (1893-1943), a vivid portraitist and master of the still life, is one of the least-known of Modernists, in part because he destroyed or refused to exhibit much of his work. Soutine, by Maurice Tuchman (Taschen pounds 39.99, 2 volumes), a lavish but inexpensive catalogue raisonnee, should put that right. Above: 'Still Life with Turkey'
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