Russia launched two cosmonauts into orbit aboard a Soyuz spacecraft yesterday, keeping alive a space program in urgent need of financial support from the West. The Soyuz TM-16, in the white-blue-red livery of Russia, roared into a blue sky from the Baikonur launch pad on the frozen steppes in the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan. The launch was shown live on television. Itar-Tass news agency quoted mission control in Kaliningrad, near Moscow, as saying all systems were working normally and the cosmon auts were well. The spacecraft was scheduled to link up with the Mir orbital space station Tuesday. Geneva talks difficult

Sarajevo radio expressed pessimism yesterday about the outcome of Geneva peace talks, saying they had made no progress so far and all three sides were sticking to well-entrenched positions. The commentator for the Muslim-controlled radio was speaking just before a fresh round of Bosnian peace talks was due to go into a second day in Geneva. International mediators were pressing ahead with the talks despite an upsurge in fighting in Croatia, where Serbs are accusing Croats of attacking Serb areas. Meanwhi le, the European Community has sent a 15-member mission to monitor the border between Albania and the former Yugoslavia. Jordan licenses party

Jordan licensed an independent PLO offshoot as a political party yesterday, reversing an earlier controversial decision rejecting it, the group said. The Jordan People's Democratic Party became the ninth political group authorized to operate formally throughout the kingdom since Jordan lifted a three-decades-old ban on parties last October. Rabin hits prize choice

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said yesterday he would boycott the awarding of Israel's most prestigious prize to a 90-year-old social critic who once warned that occupation could turn Israelis into Judeo-Nazis. Cabinet sources said Rabin told ministers it was disgraceful that judges for the Israel Prize had chosen Yeshayahu Leibowitz, a doctor of medicine and philosophy who has often been at odds with Israel's officialdom. Nationalist Russians

A nationalist Russian politician saluted a unit of 10 paramilitary "volunteers" at Moscow airport Sunday, saying they were flying to Iraq to fight the US and help forge a new Russian army. Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who preaches a gospel of Russian imperial revival, bade a solemn farewell to his men as they boarded an Aeroflot flight to the Middle East at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport. Bemused travelers looked on as the spectacle unfolded under the glare of television arc lights. Baltic fishing ban

Four nations have agreed to temporarily halt all cod fishing in the Baltic Sea to safeguard future stocks of the fish, the Swedish national news agency TT reported Friday. The agreement between Sweden, Russia, Poland, and Latvia bans cod fishing in the waters between the southern Danish island of Bornholm and the Finnish islands of Aland from April 1 to July 31 this year.

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