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S. KOREA OPPOSITION ANGERED AT RUSSIA’S GIFT OF `BLANK BOXES’

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Angered by "blank boxes" instead of "black boxes" handed over from the South Korean airliner downed in 1983, opposition legislators Monday demanded the suspension of $1.5 billion in aid to Russia.

Earlier this month, President Boris Yeltsin of Russia handed over the flight-data recorder and cockpit voice recorder from Korean Air Flight 007, which officials hoped would give clues on why it strayed deep into Soviet airspace, where it was shot down, killing all 269 people aboard.Over the weekend, however, the Transportation Ministry said the flight-data recorder was empty and the tapes in the cockpit voice recorder contained only conversations already made public.

The Democratic Party, the largest opposition party, issued a statement saying government of President Roh Tae-woo accepted "blank boxes" in exchange for resuming aid to Russia.

Kim Dae-jung, the party's presidential candidate, demanded suspension of the economic aid unless Russia fully cooperates in investigating the crash.

South Korea and the Soviet Union, enemies while Moscow backed Communist North Korea, established diplomatic relations in 1990 and Seoul promised $3 billion in loans to help the troubled Soviet economy.

About half the amount was provided before the breakup of the Soviet Union. Provision of the remainder to its successor, Russia, was put on hold.

But shortly before Yeltsin's visit, South Korea decided to go ahead with the loans after Russia pledged to use aluminum to pay off part of the already-overdue interest.