To appreciate nonsense requires a serious interest in life. - Gelett Burgess
RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 243, 27 December 1991



SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR



GORBACHEV RESIGNS. Mikhail Gorbachev announced his resignation
in a grim 12-minute address to the nation, broadcast on Central
TV on December 25. He defended his reform cause, saying that
he has fulfilled the historical task of leading a totalitarian
country towards democracy. But he also stressed that he remains
committed to the idea of a unitary multinational state and cannot
agree with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. He nevertheless
promised to support the Commonwealth. Gorbachev appealed to his
successors to preserve the course of democratization. (Alexander
Rahr)

YELTSIN HAS FINGER ON NUCLEAR BUTTON. Immediately after his resignation,
Gorbachev handed the codes for the launch of nuclear weapons
to Russian President Boris Yeltsin, TASS reported on December
25. Yeltsin stressed that he would have the only nuclear key
but added that he could not fire the weapons without authorization
from the Presidents of Belorussia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. The
same day the Russian parliament ratified the Alma-Ata agreement
on the creation of a joint military command of independent states.
(AlexanderRahr)

COMMAND OF THE ARMED FORCES. With the resignation of Gorbachev,
Boris Yeltsin assumed formal command over the fractured Soviet
armed forces, Western and Soviet sources reported on December
25. In a speech to the Russian Supreme Soviet, Yeltsin emphasized
that he now exercised primary control over the Soviet nuclear
arsenal. That same day, the Russian Supreme Soviet ratified the
"Agreement on Joint Measures Regarding Nuclear Weapons" signed
by the leaders of the four republics possessing nuclear arms
(see Daily Report of December 23). In other remarks, Yeltsin
told legislators that the Russian federation would soon be setting
up its own defense bodies. (Stephen Foye)

RSFSR CHANGES ITS NAME.
On December 26, the RSFSR Supreme Soviet voted to change the
official name of the RSFSR to the Russian Federation (or Russia),
Radio Moscow reported. The new title removes "Soviet" and "socialist"
and reflects the official demise of the Soviet Union following
Gorbachev's resignation as USSR President on December 25. The
Russian Federation is the last of the republics of the former
Soviet Union to alter its official title. (Carla Thorson)

UKRAINE OBJECTING TO RUSSIA BEING A "FIRST AMONG EQUALS." With
the formal demise of the USSR, Ukrainian leaders have again been
reiterating that the new Commonwealth of Independent States is
supposed to be an association of equals and that Ukraine is not
prepared to allow Russia to unilaterally assign a leading role
to itself. For instance, according to Radio Kiev on December 26,
Ukrainian president Leonid Kravchuk stated in an interview that
day that he objected to the EC's recognition of Russia as the
legal successor to the USSR. He also said that Russia had no
right to represent the CIS because the latter consists of eleven
independent states. (Bohdan Nahaylo)

RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN ECONOMIC FRICTIONS. "Serious" disagreements
surfaced at the December 24 session of the Commonwealth Council,
accordingto TASS and Interfax of December 25 and Izvestia of
December 27. Russian First Deputy Premier Gennadii Burbulis reportedly
claimed that his Federation's economic reform program had been
adopted as the basis for Commonwealth reform, and confirmed that
most Russian prices would be decontrolled on January 2. Ukraine
objected to this date, proposing January 15 instead. Ukraine
also complained that Russia continued to control the money presses
and refused to supply other states with adequate banknotes to
meet the anticipated demand when most prices and wages are freed.
(Keith Bush)

FIGHTING CONTINUES IN TBILISI. Following a lull in fighting and
a temporary cease-fire on December 26, clashes between pro-Gamsakhurdia
forces and rebel National Guardsmen trying to storm the Parliament
building were continuing on December 27 for the sixth consecutive
day. Georgian first deputy health minister Merab Kvitashvili
told TASS on December 26 that the death toll stands at 42, with
268 people injured. Western news agencies quote rebel leader
Tengiz Kitovani as claiming that gunmen from Chechen-Ingushetia
had arrived in Tbilisi to fight for Gamsakhurdia. (Liz Fuller)


YELTSIN REJECTS COMMONWEALTH MEMBERSHIP FOR GEORGIA. RSFSR President
Boris Yeltsin refused a request made by his Georgian counterpart
Zviad Gamsakhurdia on December 22 for an urgent meeting, TASS
reported on December 25. Yeltsin further told the RSFSR parliament
on December 25 that the Commonwealth leaders had decided to reject
the application for membership made by Gamsakhurdia the previous
day because of human rights violations in Georgia and South Ossetia.
A planned mediation trip to Georgia by RSFSR first deputy prime
minister Gennadii Burbulis was called off on December 24. (Liz
Fuller)

ARMENIA APPEALS TO REPUBLICS OVER NKAO. On December 26 the Armenian
parliament adopted an appeal to the other republics of the Commonwealth
to take immediate action to safeguard the population of Nagorno-Karabakh,
characterizing the situation there as "explosive" as Soviet troops
are being withdrawn, TASS reported on December 26. Radio Rossii
subsequently reported that the troop withdrawal from the NKAO
had been halted and that those troops still in the oblast will
remain there until leaders of the CIS meet in Minsk on December
30. On the agenda is the creation of an inter-republican security
force to replace the former USSR MVD. (Liz Fuller)

SOUTH OSSETIAN PARLIAMENT DECLARES INDEPENDENCE. A session of
the South Ossetian Oblast Soviet on December 22 passed a resolution
proclaiming the oblast's independence and called upon the parliaments
of the constituent republics of the former USSR to recognize
its independence, TASS reported the same day. In response to
rumors of a threatened Georgian attack on the oblast capital
of Tskhinvali, the parliament also created a republican Defense
Committee. (Liz Fuller)

YELTSIN HUMILIATES GORBACHEV. Russian President Boris Yeltsin
further humiliated Mikhail Gorbachev by depriving him of his
Moscow state-owned apartment shortly after his resignation speech,
Postfactum reported on December 25. Yeltsin decreed that Gorbachev's
apartment be privatized. Yeltsin said that Gorbachev should have
retired last February, and that Gorbachev made a crucial mistake
in 1987 when he failed to change his reform tactics. Gorbachev
was quoted in Komsomolskaya pravda on December 24 as saying that
he regretted not forming a common front with Yeltsin and other
democratic leaders in the summer of 1990 against Communist hard-liners
and hadnow to pay "dearly" for his mistake. (Alexander Rahr)


RUSSIAN PRIVATIZATION PROGRAM APPROVED. The Russian Federation
Cabinet approved the privatization program for 1992 on December
26, TASS and Interfax reported that day. Russia's Minister of
Science, Higher Education, and Technical Policy, Boris Saltykov,
listed three categories of enterprises in this connection: those
to be privatized next year include stores, restaurants, and small
workshops; those not liable to privatization include banks, railways,
airlines, and some armament factories; and a third group that
may be privatized only with prior permission includes plants
making medicines, alcohol, tobacco products and baby food. Saltykov
indicated that the privatization of Russia's economy would take
3-5 years to complete, and he anticipated revenue from privatization
of some 92 billion rubles in 1992 and about 300 billion rubles
in 1993. (Keith Bush)

MONEY SUPPLY AND BANKNOTE DENOMINATION. TASS on December 23 quoted
"reliable sources" in the USSR Goskomstat to the effect that
the amount of money in circulation on November 1 was 211 billion
rubles, up from 132 billion on January 1. The Deputy Chairman
of the Russian Parliament's Budget Commission, Aleksandr Pochinok,
told Western agencies the same day that 500-ruble notes would
be circulated starting December 27, and that 1,000 ruble-notes
would be printed starting in March 1992. (Keith Bush)

YELTSIN PROMISES TO VETO CONTROVERSIAL PRESS LAW. At a meeting
with editors of Russian newspapers on December 25 (broadcast
by Russian TV that day), Boris Yeltsin promised to veto the republican
press law adopted by the RSFSR Supreme Soviet a few days earlier.
The Russian law is widely considered to be "three steps back"
in comparison with the All-Union press law. While the latter
required journalists to reveal their sources only to the courts,
the Russian law requires that journalists name their sources
to prosecutors and the police. The law also allows the police
to search the offices of newspapers and journals and forbids
secret filming. On December 26, the Supreme Soviet attempted
to review the law, but the motion failed to win the necessary
number of votes. (Julia Wishnevsky)

FORMER REPUBLICS CONFIRM COMMITMENT ON DEBT REPAYMENT. At the
end of a two-day meeting in Paris with representatives of 17
creditor nations, the finance ministers of 8 former republics
reaffirmed their commitment to repay the Soviet foreign debt,
RFE/RL's Paris bureau reported on December 21. The republics
were Russia, Belorussia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan,
Kyrgyzstan, and Moldavia. Both sides agreed to meet again in
Paris on January 3 to conclude a "final agreement." (Joel Blocker/
Keith Bush)

RUSSIAN ECONOMIC PROSPECTS IN 1992. At a news conference on December
20, Russian First Deputy Minister for Finance and Economy Andrei
Nechaev spoke of the anticipated impact of the Gaidar economic
reform, Interfax reported that day. At the beginning of January,
the Russian government would submit a draft budget for the first
quarter of 1992 that provided for no deficit. The VAT is expected
to generate 41.8%, and income tax 23%, of budgetary revenues.
There will be large cuts in defense and housing expenditure.
Enterprises will be allowed to keep more of their hard-currency
earnings [at present, they are supposed to remit 40% of these
to the state]. Nechaev reckoned that living standards might drop
by about 30%. (Keith Bush)

SILAEV'S NEW JOB. RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin has appointed
Ivan Silaev as Russia's representative to the European Community,
according to Interfax of December 20. Western agencies said that
Silaev's office confirmed the appointment but did not say when
he would assume the post. Interfax on December 24 quoted Gennadii
Burbulis as saying that Silaev's interim committee would cease
to exist at the end of December 1991. (Keith Bush)

RUSSIAN SUPSOV SUSPENDS MERGER OF KGB AND MVD. The Supreme Soviet
of the Russian Federation has suspended the provision of Yeltsin's
edict on the merger of the internal affairs and state security
agencies, Vesti, TV Inform and TASS reported on December 26.
Provisions concerning Russian jurisdiction over the central MVD
and foreign intelligence remain unchanged. Opponents of the merger,
including many KGB officers, have argued that the consolidation
may lead to a repetition of the experience of the Stalinist NKVD.
Russian MVD minister Viktor Barannikov, however, has said that
the measure was dictated by a "need to strengthen the potential
of the law enforcement agencies" and to better protect human
rights, combat organized crime, corruption and drug trafficking.
(Victor Yasmann)

DEFENSE CHIEFS MEET. Representatives rom the republics with responsibility
for military affairs met with Defense Ministry and General Staff
personnel in Moscow on December 26 and 27, Western and Soviet
agencies reported. The talks were aimed at overcoming problems
in reaching a common defense policy, and anticipated a key meeting
on defense issues sched uled for December 30 in Minsk. The military
representatives met behind closed doors, however, and few details
of the meeting were available. (Stephen Foye)

MOLDAVIAN PARLIAMENT LIKELY TO AMEND CIS DOCUMENTS. On December
24, President Mircea Snegur submitted to the Moldavian Parliament
the founding documents of CIS, which he signed at the meeting
in Alma-Ata on December 22. Urging the parliamentary commissions
to pass judgment on the documents before the full parliament
votes on ratification, Snegur said that the documents may be
ratified with conditions such as those voted by the Ukrainian
parliament, Moldovapres reported on December 24. Deputies told
RFE/RL that parliament is likely to take its time in examining
the documents--as well as those due to be signed at the December
30 meeting in Minsk--and that a conditional ratification on the
Ukrainian model seems likely. (Vladimir Socor)

SNEGUR CHALLENGES POPULAR FRONT OVER REUNIFICATION WITH ROMANIA.
Snegur also urged Parliament to expedite the adoption of a law
on referendum and challenged the Moldavian Popular Front to put
the issue of reunification with Romania to a referendum. Snegur
again argued--as he has repeatedly of late--that only a small
minority of Moldavians desire reunification. On December 22,
the Front had called for a general strike in the republic and
mass demonstrations in Kishinev against Snegur's signature on
the CIS documents and for reunification with Romania. The strike
call was not heeded anywhere, and only 200 to 400 demonstrators
gathered in Kishinev on December 23 and 24. (Vladimir Socor)


EASTERN EUROPE


BALTIC STATES


FUEL SHORTAGE IN ESTONIA. The Estonian government has told citizens
to reduce heat in their homes and at workplaces to 17 degrees
Celsius due to a severe energy crisis, according to a Baltic
News Service report on December 25. A government spokesman is
quoted as saying that the government has decided to cut public
transportation in cities by 50% and inter-city bus transport
by 30%. Estonia's Minister of Economy Jaak Leitman said on December
23 that Estonia had gasoline and diesel fuel reserves for only
three months. (Jan Trapans)

EC FOOD AID FOR BALTIC. European Community officials said that
EC ministers have approved $60 million in emergency food aid
for the Baltic States, according to Western agencies. The ministers,
meeting in Brussels on December 23, also opted to study whether
another $60 million in aid should be provided in February. The
three Baltic States had asked for a total of $500 million in
aid. (Jan Trapans)

ISRAEL PLANS TO OPEN BALTIC EMBASSY. Israel will open an embassy
in the Baltic States, most likely in Riga, said Yosef Govrin,
deputy head of the Foreign Ministry's East Europe desk, on December
26. There would be only one embassy for all three Baltic countries.
Govrin also noted Israel intends to open an embassy in Ukraine
and was considering another mission either in Kazakhstan or Uzbekistan.
(Jan Trapans)


CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE


NEW POLISH GOVERNMENT, AT LAST. By a narrow margin, the Sejm
on December 23 approved the cabinet proposed by Prime Minister
Jan Olszewski, ending a two-month stalemate over the formation
of a new government. The vote was 235 to 60, with 139 abstentions.
Votes from the Polish Peasant Party, a former communist ally,
gave Olszewski's three-party minority coalition the needed majority.
The postcommunist Democratic Left voted against, while the Democratic
Union, the Liberal-Democratic Congress, and the KPN withheld
their support by abstaining. The new cabinet includes Poland's
first postwar civilian defense minister and four interim heads
of ministries (industry, privatization, housing, and communications)
that are to be dissolved or merged into one giant economic ministry.
Planning chief Jerzy Eysymontt takes over coordination of economic
policy from outgoing reform architect Leszek Balcerowicz. (Louisa
Vinton)

CHANGE OF COURSE IN POLAND? After the vote on the government,
Olszewski backed away from election campaign promises of a decisive
"breakthrough" in economic policy, stressing that any increase
in government spending was out of the question. "A breakthrough
in the economy is impossible," Olszewski said, as quoted by Gazeta
Wyborcza. "The breakthrough slogan," he continued, "means only
a change in the style of exercising power and a constant dialogue
between government and society." President Lech Walesa, who had
opposed Olszewski's candidacy out of concern for the maintenance
of difficult austerity policies, commented that the new government
inspired both hope and fear. Walesa gave it a 50-50 chance of
survival and encouraged Olszewski to seek the support of other
parties. Jerzy Eysymontt, the new minister responsible for economic
policy, told reporters that fighting recession was the new priority,
that inflation would likely remain at current levels in 1992,
and that economic growth would be possible only in 1993. (Louisa
Vinton)

POLAND RECOGNIZES COMMONWEALTH NATIONS. In a communique issued
on December 26 and carried by PAP, Polish Foreign Minister Krzysztof
Skubiszewski announced that Poland "recognizes as states all
the republics belonging to the Commonwealth of Independent States"
and is prepared to open normal diplomatic relations with them.
Skubiszewski pointed out that Poland had earlier recognized its
neighbors to the East--Russia, Belorussia, and Ukraine--on the
basis of bilateral agreements reached in 1990 or 1991. (Louisa
Vinton)

ATTACK ON JEWISH EMIGRANTS IN HUNGARY. Hungarian Internal Affairs
Minister Peter Boross told the parliament's December 23 session
that terrorists had attacked a bus carrying Jews from the former
USSR bound for Israel who were en route to Budapest's Ferihegy
Airport, MTI reported. The bus was damaged by a bomb that was
exploded by remote control in a car parked on the road. The police
car accompanying the bus burned out and two policemen were seriously
injured, but the emigrants escaped unhurt. Boross said that there
was evidence that professional terrorists had prepared the attack,
and several threats had reached his Ministry in past few months.
Hungary has been a major transit point for Soviet Jews since
1989: between the summer of 1989 and June this year over 125,000
Jews from the USSR emigrated to Israel via Budapest, with 40,000
passing through the country between June and October 1991 alone.
(Edith Oltay)

HUNGARY ON COMMONWEALTH. In a communique issued on December 27,
the Hungarian government said that it recognized the "Commonwealth
of Independent States" established at Alma-Ata and would "establish
diplomatic relations with the sovereign states . . . within the
shortest possible time." The communique said that Hungary has
begun negotiations with Belorussia and Moldavia on establishing
diplomatic relations. Hungary already has diplomatic relations
with Russia, Ukraine, and the Baltic states. The communique praised
Gorbachev's "outstanding historical role" and said that he played
"a great role" in making possible a peaceful change of regime
in East Central Europe. It also praised Boris Yeltsin's "determining
role" in the democratic transformation of the former USSR. (Edith
Oltay)

END OF USSR: CZECHOSLOVAK REACTION. Czechoslovak President Vaclav
Havel on December 26 sent a telegram to Mikhail Gorbachev, thanking
him for his policy of democratization, CSTK reports. Havel wrote
that Gorbachev had helped transform a colonial empire into a
community of free and independent states and helped Czechoslovakia
and other former satellites regain their freedom. On December
24, Havel telephoned Russian President Boris Yeltsin to express
congratulations on the creation of the new Commonwealth of Independent
States. On December 23, Czechoslovakia announced it would recognize
Belorussia. (Barbara Kroulik)

FATE OF SOVIET-CZECHOSLOVAK TREATY UNCLEAR. Czechoslovak Foreign
Minister Jiri Dienstbier said on December 26 that the Russian
Federation would not automatically take over the newly-drafted
Soviet-Czechoslovak treaty on bilateral relations. He said on
television that a Czechoslovak delegation would soon visit the
former Soviet republics to discuss security issues and energy
supplies. The new treaty was to establish a new basis for mutual
relations, replacing the now anachronistic treaty signed during
the rule of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. Although initialled
in October, the new treaty had not yet been signed. (Barbara
Kroulik)

BULGARIA RECOGNIZES FORMER SOVIET REPUBLICS. The Bulgarian government
on December 23 announced it recognized Belorussia and said it
expected the two countries' foreign ministers to meet in coming
months, possibly to sign protocols on diplomatic relations and
trade in 1992. On December 24, BTA briefly reported that the
government had recognized the independence of the republics of
Moldavia, Armenia, and Kazakhstan and expressed readiness to
establish diplomatic relations. Bulgaria had earlier established
relations with Russia and Ukraine. The rest of the republics
have not been mentioned. A Foreign Ministry statement quoted
by BTA on December 24 expressed satisfaction with the creation
of the Commonwealth of Independent States. It supported the decision
that Russia should take the place of the USSR in the UN Security
Council and expressed readiness for dialogue and cooperation
with the individual states. (Rada Nikolaev)

ROMANIA RECOGNIZES FORMER SOVIET REPUBLICS. TASS reported on
December 26 that Romania had recognized Belorussia as a sovereign
state. The Romanian government had already decided on December
24 to recognize the independence of the republics of Uzbekistan,
Kirghizstan, Tadzhikistan and Turkmenistan, Rompres reported.
Romania expressed its readiness to establish diplomatic relations
with these republics and to develop friendly cooperation with
them. (Crisula Stefanescu)

ROMANIAN LEADERS ON TERRITORIAL DISPUTE WITH UKRAINE. In an address
to a joint session of the two chambers of the Romanian parliament
held on December 21 to mark the second anniversary of the fall
of the Ceausescu regime, President Ion Iliescu renewed the call
for negotiations with Ukraine concerning what he called "the
status of the Romanian territories which were incorporated into
the former Ukrainian SSR through arbitrary decisions lacking
all historic or legal basis," Radio Bucharest reported that day.
Referring to this issue, Romanian Foreign Minister Adrian Nastase
told a press conference on December 23 that "the Ribbentrop-Molotov
pact cannot be disinvented" and that Romania and Ukraine "will
have to find a political formula for resolving these problems,"
Radio Bucharest reported. (Vladimir Socor)

ROMANIAN PUBLISHING IN FINANCIAL CRISIS. The 51st issue of the
Romanian Writers' Union publication Romania Literara, black-bordered
and headlined "Romanian Culture at a Deadlock," announced that
as a result of the dramatic increase in the costs of publishing
cultural journals, the RWU was compelled to suspend all its publications.
It called for increased government funding for culture. Describing
the financial situation of the cultural press, Romania Literara
used such strong terms as: "cultural genocide" and "anticultural
policy," Rompres reported. (Crisula Stefanescu)

SERBIA TO PROPOSE CREATION OF A NEW YUGOSLAVIA. Yugoslav media
on December 26 quoted Branko Kostic, Vice President of the rump
federal Presidency, as saying that a proposal for the creation
of a new Yugoslav state was being drafted. He said the proposal
would be announced in January. Kostic said the new federation
would consist of Serbia, Montenegro, and the self-proclaimed
Serbian autonomous regions in Croatia and Bosnia which recently
declared themselves independent and in favor of a federal Yugoslavia.
Meanwhile, four republics--Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina
and Macedonia--have met the December 23 deadline for applying
for EC recognition as independent states. Serbia's predominantly
ethnic Albanian province of Kosovo and the Krajina, a Serbian
region within Croatia, have also applied for EC recognition.
Both regions have declared themselves republics, but were not
invited to apply for recognition. (Milan Andrejevich)

YUGOSLAV ARMY NOT EAGER TO END WAR. The Belgrade daily Borba
reported on December 24 that the Yugoslav Peoples' Army (YPA)
shows no sign of wanting an end to the war in Croatia. The daily
cited speeches made during Armed Forces Day on December 22. According
to Borba, federal defense secretary Colonel General Veljko Kadijevic
said that the YPA has succeeded in carrying out its "transformation"
and is "prepared to realize the tasks it is given." Federal Vice
President Kostic was quoted as saying "we are confident that
the YPA will continue to meet its responsibilities honorably
and successfully for the good of freedom and peace." He added
that Armed Forces Day will be held again next year. (Milan Andrejevich)



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