|One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: that word is love. - Sophocles|
No. 242, 23 December 1991
USSR--ALL-UNION AND INTER-REPUBLICAN TOPICS COMMONWEALTH OF INDEPENDENT STATES PROCLAIMED IN ALMA-ATA. At a meeting in Alma-Ata on December 21, leaders of eight former Soviet republics (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldavia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) agreed to join the commonwealth created by Russia, Belorussia, and Ukraine on December 8. The agreement was widely reported in the Soviet and foreign news media. One of the protocols on the Agreement signed by the republican leaders, specififled that all signatory states would enter the commonwealth on an equal basis as co-founders. Another protocol recognizes the independence and current borders of all signatory states, and another requests the UN to give the USSR's Security Council seat to Russia, and obligates Russia, Belorussia, and Ukraine to seek admittance to the UN for all commonwealth members. (Bess Brown) GEORGIA FAILS TO SIGN ALMA-ATA AGREEMENT. Georgia was represented at the Alma-Ata Commonwealth conference by a deputy parliament chairman and a deputy prime minister, and did not sign the Commonwealth Agreement. A Georgian parliament debate on whether the republic should sign was scheduled for December 22, Western agencies reported. In an appeal on December 12, Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia called on RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin to recognize Georgia's state independence in accordance with the terms of the treaty of May 7, 1920, under which the RSFSR recognized the independent Georgian Republic. (Liz Fuller) UKRAINE REAFFIRMS ITS INDEPENDENCE WITH RESPECT TO NEW COMMONWEALTH. Resolutely opposed to the idea of Ukraine being drawn into a new Union, the Ukrainian parliament and president have made it quite clear that Ukraine will only participate in the new Commonwealth of Independent States if this body remains a loose association and does not become a new state. This position was stressed in a statement adopted by the Ukrainian parliament on the eve of the meeting of republican leaders in Alma-Ata and reported on December 21 by Radio Kiev. In Alma-Ata itself, Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk, according to Western agencies, came out, among other things, against the notions of a "commonwealth citizenship" and joint guarding of the commonwealth's external borders. (Bohdan Nahaylo) THE COMMONWEALTH'S CENTRAL STRUCTURES. In Alma-Ata, the eleven republican leaders issued a draft accord on new central structures of the Commonwealth, TASS reported on December 21. The supreme governing bodies will be a Council of Heads of State and a Council of Heads of Government which will meet twice a year to adopt basic policy decisions. The presidency in both bodies will be rotating. It was also suggested to set up of seven ministerial committees to coordinate policy--on foreign affairs, defense, economics and fiflnance, transport and communications, social protection for the population, interior affairs, and general policy coordination. All Commonwealth members will jointly fiflnance the central structures. (Alexander Rahr) COMMENTS BY GORBACHEV AND YELTSIN. RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin was quoted by TASS on December 21 as saying that the "material and other situation" of Gorbachev after the latter's resignation was decided in Alma-Ata. Yeltsin stressed that Gorbachev's resignation will be handled in a "civilized manner." The embattled Gorbachev acknowledged Yeltsin's achievements in an interview on CBS on December 22 but emphasized that the real Yeltsin phenomenon "is still to be revealed." He characterized Yeltsin as a "sincere man" who has shown himself only as an opposition fiflgure and may not yet understand his new responsibilities. Gorbachev rejected teaching offers from US universities and said he wants tocontinue to play a role in world politics. (Alexander Rahr) ALMA-ATA AGREEMENT ON NUCLEAR WEAPONS. The "Agreement on Joint Measures Regarding Nuclear Weapons" signed by the leaders of the four former Soviet republics where strategic nuclear weapons are located shows that Kazakhstan remains at odds with the other three on this issue. As broadcast on Moscow television on December 21, the agreement indicates that all strategic nuclear weapons will be removed from Belorussia by July 1, 1992, and from Ukraine by an unspecififled date. Those in Kazakhstan were not mentioned, nor was that republic included with Belorussia and Ukraine as planning to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The agreement did imply that tactical nuclear weapons would be transferred from all three republics to Russia, where they would be dismantled "under joint supervision." (Doug Clarke) SHAPOSHNIKOV NAMED INTERIM COMMANDER. USSR Defense Minister Evgenii Shaposhnikov was named interim Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces on December 21 in Alma-Ata, Soviet and Western sources reported. Appointment of a permanent commander-in-chief, together with the resolution of a host of other defense-related issues, has apparently been put off until December 30, when republic leaders are scheduled to meet in Minsk. (Stephen Foye) TWO DEFENSE PLANS? Western agencies, quoting the NEGA news agency, reported on December 20 that two plans for military restructuring would be considered in Alma-Ata. The fiflrst, drawn up by Shaposhnikov, called for a single commander-in-chief, serving a fiflve-year term, and two deputy commanders-in-chief, who would oversee strategic and conventional forces, respectively. Republics would be allowed their own armies, and Ukraine a small navy. NEGA provided fewer details on the second plan, reportedly drafted by Army General Konstantin Kobets, Boris Yeltsin's top defense advisor. It called for retaining a single commander-in-chief and a unififled General Staff, and purportedly won signififlcant support from republican leaders. (Stephen Foye) FOREIGN BRANCH OF KGB TAKEN OVER BY RUSSIA. RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin has decreed the takeover of the USSR Foreign Intelligence Agency by Russia, according to Interfax on December 20. The agency had just become independent from the domestic branch of the KGB. Yeltsin ordered that its property, buildings, information banks and documentation should be handed over to the newly created Russian foreign intelligence service within a month. (Alexander Rahr) SOCIALIST WORKERS' PARTY HOLDS CONGRESS. On December 21 and 22, the Socialist Workers' Party, which considers itself to be the legal successor to the CPSU, held its fiflrst congress in Moscow, TASS reported. On the opening day, Roy Medvedev, well-known historian and a member of the party's organizing committee, noted that not one demonstration or rally took place to protest the banning of the CPSU, so a new party is necessary to reflect the people's wishes. The congress resolution called for the creation of a bloc of socialist and communist oriented parties. Considering Yeltsin's economic reforms, the delegates were in favor of monetary reform, but against price liberalization and "wild privatization." (Carla Thorson) POSSIBLE DELAYS IN BUILDING TROOP HOUSING. German Economics Minister Juergen Moelleman said on December 20 that the formation of the Commonwealth of Independent States could lead to delays in the German-fiflnanced housing construction for Soviet troops withdrawn from the former GDR, RFE/RL's Bonn correspondent reported that day. Although Bonn was abiding by its commitment to build 36,000 housing units, plus infrastructure and construction plants, at a cost of DM 7.8 billion, there were indications of uncertainty over the selection of sites on the part of the CIS. (Michael Wall/Keith Bush) USSR--REPUBLICS AND SUCCESSOR STATES 17 KILLED IN NEW FIGHTING IN GEORGIA. Following demonstrations on December 20-21 by 10,000 people calling for the resignation of Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia, fiflghting erupted in Tbilisi on December 22 between troops of the rebel National Guard and units loyal to the President, TASS and Western news agencies reported on December 22-23. Up to 17 people are reported killed and over 50 injured. Both sides have reportedly deployed tanks, rockets and machine guns; a deputy interior minister was wounded, and the mayor of Tbilisi and a prominent Gamsakhurdia supporter taken hostage by the rebels. Fighting resumed in the late evening after a ceasefiflre and negotiations between the two sides collapsed. A Georgian Presidential press release of December 22 called for international observers to investigate the situation. (Liz Fuller) DEMONSTRATIONS IN MOSCOW AND ST.PETERSBURG. On December 22, under the banner of "march of the hungry queues," several thousand people demonstrated in Moscow against the end of the USSR and uncontrolled capitalism. Speakers included conservative hardliners Viktor Alksnis and Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Soviet and Western agencies reported. Carrying communist flags and portraits of Lenin and Stalin, the demonstrators marched to the Ostankino TV Center and demanded air time to voice their grievances. Meanwhile, in St. Petersburg demonstrations organized by various communist groupings took place in defense of workers' rights in light of Yeltsin's economic reform program, TASS and Radio Moscow reported. (Carla Thorson) ARMENIA TO REOPEN NUCLEAR POWER PLANT. On December 20 Western agencies in Moscow quoted an Armenian government minister as stating that Armenia's Medzamor nuclear power station, taken out of commission in 1989 following the December, 1988, earthquake, will be reactivated in 1992 to combat the republic's catastrophic energy shortage. As of December 20 all industrial enterprises in Armenia were closed because of fuel shortages resulting from the energy blockade imposed by Azerbaijan. A spokesman for Azerbaijani President Ayaz Mutalibov stated on December 20 that oil and gas supplies to Armenia would be resumed that day. (Liz Fuller) UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS BONN. Ukraine's foreign minister Anatolii Zlenko was in Bonn on December 21 to discuss the development of relations between Germany and his country. Zlenko met with German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, German Chancellery Minister Friedrich Bohl, and State Secretary Dieter von Wuerzen. Genscher, according to TASS of the same day, told Zlenko that Germany believes that the EC countries should "immediately" recognize the new independent states that have emerged from the former Soviet Union and which meet the principles for recognition formulated by the EC on December 16 in Brussels. He also confiflrmed the invitation to President Leonid Kravchuk to pay an offiflcial visit to the Federal Republic of Germany. During Zlenko's visit, it was also agreed that a Ukrainian-German Economic Cooperation Council will be set up. (Bohdan Nahaylo) GENERAL ON UKRAINIAN MILITARY PLANS. Boris Pyankov, sent to Kiev on December 14 by the USSR Defense Ministry as leader of a delegation for consultations with the Ukrainian leadership, said on December 21 that he had no serious disagreements with the Ukrainian Defense Minister. Pyankov nevertheless criticized those calling for elimination of the existing military district structure in the republic. He also said that a careful inventory indicated that only a little more than 500,000 troops were currently serving in Ukraine, and reported that his delegation had issued guidelines to distinguish between strategic and conventional forces. His remarks, summarized by TASS, appeared in Krasnaya zvezda on December 21. (Stephen Foye) MOLDAVIAN PRESIDENT ON COMMONWEALTH. Returning home after joining the Commonwealth of Independent States at its founding meeting, Moldavian President Mircea Snegur told the press that "the documents signed in Alma-Ata will enable Moldavia to consolidate its independence and territorial integrity." However, "only time will tell whether the Commonwealth is viable," Snegur said. Moldavia's Minister of National Security Anatol Plugaru in turn told the press that "Moldavia has lost absolutely nothing but, on the contrary, has gained by joining the Commonwealth." Moldovapres cited both statements on December 22. (Vladimir Socor) MOLDAVIAN POPULAR FRONT AGAINST JOINING. Moldavian Popular Front chairman Iurie Rosca told the BBC on December 22 that Snegur's decision to adhere to the Commonwealth has the negative effect of delaying Moldavia's reunififlcation with Romania. In that interview, cited by TASS the same day, Rosca also condemned Snegur's policy for purportedly "seeking to keep Moldavia tied to a Slavic bloc." At a rally in Kishinev on December 22, 3,000 supporters of the Popular Front chanted slogans accusing Snegur of "treason," Moldovapres reported the same day. AFP also reported that the Front has called on its supporters to gather outside Parliament in coming days in order to prevent the ratififlcation of Moldavia's adherence to the Commonwealth. (Vladimir Socor) EASTERN EUROPE BALTIC STATES YELTSIN: THREE YEARS FOR TROOP WITHDRAWAL FROM BALTIC. At a press conference in Rome on December 20, Russian President Boris Yeltsin said it could take up to three years to withdraw Soviet troops from the Baltic states. Most of the troops would return to Russian territory. Housing problems were cited as the cause for the delay. Some key air defence forces could remainwith the agreement of Baltic governments, Yeltsin reasoned, since these could also defend the Baltic republics. In the meantime, Yeltsin added, formal agreement should be reached on the status of the armed forces to ensure they would not interfere, should national conflicts break out in the Baltic states. (Jan Trapans) BALTIC FOREIGN MINISTERS ON SOVIET TROOP WITHDRAWAL. The Baltic foreign ministers, invited to attend the North Atlantic Cooperation Council in Brussels, asked western states to help ensure that Soviet troops withdraw and charged that the continued presence of the troops in their countries is illegal. Latvia's Janis Jurkans said troop withdrawal was of fundamental economic importance since no one would invest in the Baltic with Soviet forces still there. Estonia's Lennart Meri said the withdrawal should be monitored by NATO and CSCE. (Jan Trapans) ESTONIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: NUCLEAR WEAPONS IN BALTIC? Meri also claimed that Soviet nuclear weapons may still be in the Baltic states. Meri gave no details concerning his allegation but he also claimed that two Soviet nuclear reactors at a Baltic Fleet naval base at Paldiski, Estonia, were not under international controls. Estonia had invited the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna to inspect the reactor. (Jan Trapans)
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