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News Briefs, part 2

Yeltsin Replaces Hammer and Sickle With 2-Headed Eagle

By Sonni Efron
Los Angeles Times


Liquidating one of the last symbols of the Soviet past, President Boris N. Yeltsin has officially replaced the hammer and sickle with the two-headed eagle as the seal of the new Russia.

The eagle, whose two heads face East and West, has been a symbol of the Russian czars since the 15th century. But in today's fractious, chaotic Russia, the bird's two heads may unwittingly represent a nation divided over whether a symbol of monarchy and empire is appropriate for a fledgling democracy.

"It's going to be controversial," historian Roy A. Medvedev said of the presidential decree published Wednesday. "We absolutely need a new symbol, because nobody is proud of the old one ... I understand the desire to return to old traditions, but this must be done carefully, since people don't want to return to the 19th century."

The Yeltsin government has been trying for some time to do away with the hammer and sickle, the Soviet symbol that glorified labor and the union of workers and peasants. But the conservative Parliament that Yeltsin has since forcibly disbanded repeatedly rejected the czarist eagle.

As a result, Yeltsin's decree making the two-headed eagle the symbol of the new Russian state is printed on presidential stationery that bears the hammer and sickle and Communism's most famous slogan: "Proletarians of the world, unite!"

"The complete set of Soviet communist ideology is present on this very document," said presidential spokesman Anatoly A. Krasikov.

Yeltsin's decree, signed Tuesday and published Wednesday, is a temporary measure until ratified by the new legislature, to be elected Dec. 12 and known by the pre-revolutionary name of Duma.

But some of the mammoth hammers and sickles that adorn Moscow are already headed for history's scrap heap. The big golden emblem on the damaged White House Parliament building was the first to go. The double-headed eagle is to be mounted on key government buildings by Jan. 1, according to the decree.

Man Testifies He Delivered Hydrogen to Bomb Suspect

By Peg Tyre


A compressed-gas company driver testified Thursday that one day before the World Trade Center bombing he delivered three tanks of hydrogen gas to defendant Mohammad Salameh, who said "a van was coming to pick it up."

Dennis Walsh, a driver for AGL Welding, told jurors at the bombing trial that on Feb. 25 he delivered three cylinders of compressed hydrogen gas to Salameh and another man whom he could not identify at the Space Station storage facility in Jersey City, N.J.

Salameh identified himself as Kamal Ibrahim, Walsh said, and signed the receipts and money orders using that name. During the 15-minute transaction, one of the storage facility managers almost stopped him from making the delivery, he said.

"The manager said he couldn't store flammable gasses there," Walsh testified. But Salameh "said it would only be there for an hour, then a van was coming to pick it up."

Dave Robinson, assistant manager for the Space Station, took the stand next. "I said they couldn't bring the compressed gas in here and they became agitated," he testified.

Salameh and the other man went into the facility's office to make a phone call, Robinson testified, and when they returned, Robinson relented and told them they could leave the gas tanks there for 20 minutes.

Robinson said he returned to the office and shortly afterward saw a Ryder van, closely followed by a four-door sedan, drive into the Space Station. Several minutes later, Robinson told the jury, the Ryder van left the facility, again followed by the sedan.

Prosecutors contend the three hydrogen tanks were used in the homemade bomb to boost the explosion. Pieces of metal canisters with AGL's name stamped on them were found at the bomb site.

Also Thursday, the manager of the Space Station told the jury that shortly after Salameh was arrested, he obtained a key for the storage locker and, with a friend as a witness, opened it up.

NATO Approves Security `Partnership' for Eastern Europe

By Norman Kempster
Los Angeles Times


NATO foreign ministers on Thursday approved in principle a U.S. proposal to extend a security "partnership" to the formerly Communist nations of Eastern Europe, but they immediately began bickering about whether Ukraine and perhaps some other countries should be left out.

NATO Secretary-General Manfred Woerner said the ministers "very broadly welcomed" the U.S. plan, known as Partnership for Peace, which is intended to give a sort of associate membership to Eastern European nations, allowing them to cooperate with the Western alliance on military matters without giving them the sort of "attack on one is an attack on all" guarantees that NATO members extend to one another.

Action on the plan is expected Jan. 10 and 11, when heads of government of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization hold a summit meeting in Brussels.

U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher urged his fellow foreign ministers to offer the partnership to all former members of the Warsaw Pact -- including Russia and the other 14 states created from the ruins of the former Soviet Union -- along with "other nations on whom we agree."

Senior U.S. officials said the Clinton administration wanted to open the door to almost any European nation that might want to join, including countries such as Finland, Sweden and Switzerland, which sat out the Cold War. But other NATO sources said many European members of the alliance wanted to restrict membership.