We were born to unite with our fellowmen, and to join in community with the human race. - Cicero
RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 244, 30 December 1991



SUCCESSOR STATES TO USSR

CIS LEADERS BEGIN CRUCIAL SUMMIT MEETING IN MINSK. A meeting
of the leaders of the new Commonwealth of Independent States
(CIS) opened in Minsk on December 30 to decide on the future
shape of this interstate association and the direction that it
will take. With divisions having already opened among the eleven
participating states over military and econo-mic matters, as
well as the role of Russia, it is expected, as TASS put it on
December 29, that the negotiations will be "delicate" and "difficult."
Ukraine, for instance, according to Radio Rossii of December
29, made it clear on the eve of the summit that it is not prepared
to sign the proposed CIS charter. Ironically, the meeting is
being held on the anniversary of the founding of the USSR--December30,
1922. (Bohdan Nahaylo)

YELTSIN ADDRESS TO RUSSIA. RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin appealed
to Russians in a nationwide broadcast on Russian TV on December 29
to "to start living in a new way." Yeltsin blamed the legacy
of Communism for the country's problems and stressed that the
upcoming economic reforms, while painful and unpopular, are unavoidable.
He called for endur-ance and promised that improvement will come
in summer of next year. He congratulated his country-men on avoiding
a civil war such as the one in Yugosl-avia. (Alexander Rahr)


DISAGREEMENT ON DEFENSE. Two days of talks in Moscow and a visit
to Kiev (December 26) by CIS CinC Evgenii Shaposhnikov have failed
to resolve sharp differences among CIS member states on security
issues. Shaposhnikov told Russian TV on December 27 that most
CIS members had rejected his concept of a "unified" (edinykh)
army in favor of, at best, a looser association of "joint" (ob'edinennykh)
armed forces. The primary stumbling block has been the determination
of Ukraine, Moldavia (see item below), and Azerbaijan to create
national armies. A Ukrainian official said Shaposhnikov had urged
retention of unified forces for at least a five-year transition
period, but that he had left Kiev "disappointed." Defense issues
are expected to be high on the agenda at the meeting of commonwealth
leaders in Minsk. (Stephen Foye)

SQUABBLE OVER THE BLACK SEA FLEET. The disposition of the Soviet
Black Sea Fleet has become one of the military issues the CIS
leaders must solve. Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk was quoted
by Western agencies on December 29 as saying Ukraine "is and
should be a maritime power." Komsomolskaya pravda reported on
December 27 that the trip by Shaposhnikov and Fleet Admiral Ivan
Kapitanets to Kiev on December 26 was a hurried one; the paper
speculated that the visit had to do with Ukraine's decision on
the full transfer of the Black Sea Fleet to its jurisdiction.
Interfax on December 25 claimed that Ukraine had protested the
transfer of the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov from the Black
Sea to the Northern Fleet. Ukraine would appear to have little
grounds for complaint in this matter, as the Kuznetsov had always
been slated to join the Northern Fleet and was originally scheduled
to sail North in August. (Doug Clarke)

YELTSIN ON FLEET. Speaking in Minsk before the meeting of the
CIS, Russian President Boris Yeltsin said the question of control
over the Black Sea Fleet will be discussed at the December 30
meeting. Yeltsin said that the Black Sea Fleet has historically
been Russian, but that "Ukraine probably also has the right to
seek some part of the Black Sea Fleet." Yeltsin expressed confidence
that the issue could be resolved with out damaging each others'
interests, TASS reported December 30. (Suzanne Crow)

RUSSIA TO CREATE NATIONAL GUARD. Boris Yeltsin announced on December
29 that Russia would create a National Guard of between 30,000
and 40,000 men on the basis of old Russian military traditions,
TASS and Western agencies reported. Coming on the eve of the
Minsk meeting, the announcement by the leader of the largest
CIS republic may have been issued with an eye toward damping
the enthusiasm of other member states for creating their own
national armies. According to The Washington Post on December
30, Yeltsin also said that Russia would cut back sharply on spending
for defense procurement in the new year. (Stephen Foye)

HOUSING PROBLEMS FOR WITHDRAWING TROOPS. The Commander of
Soviet forces in Germany, Colonel General Matvei Burlakov, said
in Die Welt on December 28 that construction of housing by German
firms for withdrawing Soviet troops is significantly behind schedule.
In remarks summarized by Western agencies on December 27, Burklakov
said that none of the 36,000 apartments slated had been built.
While the general was reportedly careful not to blame the Germans
for the delay, he did suggest that Bonn had provided an unfair
estimate of Soviet military property in Germany that is being
used as collateral for the housing. (Stephen Foye)

LAND PRIVATIZATION DECREE. Russian President Boris Yeltsin issued
a decree on December 28 on the privatization of agricultural
land throughout the Federation, TASS and Interfax reported that
day. The decree calls for the rapid reorganization of kolkhozes
and sovkhozes, and for the transfer of much of their land to
private farmers before spring planting. Initial reports suggest
that the measure does not provide for a completely free market
in land: it allows only farmers (not the general public) to buy
and sell land within prescribed limits. Sovkhozes are to be turned
into holding companies, while kolkhozes are to become real cooperatives.
(Keith Bush)

ENTERPRISE PRIVATIZATION DECREE. On December 29, President
Yeltsin signed a decree on the accelerated privatization of state
and municipal enterprises, according to RIA and "Vesti" of that
date. Few details were made available, but it appears that local
programs for privatizing these enterprises are to be implemented
by the end of January, 1992. The Russian government's own privatization
program for state and municipal enterprises is to be finalized
by March 1, 1992 and submitted to the Supreme Soviet. (Keith
Bush)

PRICE DECONTROL AND ITS EFFECTS. Appendices to the Russian Federation
decree of December 19, carried by TASS on December 23, provide
specifics of the maximum permitted multiples of existing prices
and tariffs for those goods and services whose prices will remain
controlled in Russia after January 2. The Belarus Council of
Ministers announced on December 29 that most retail prices in
the republic will be decontrolled starting January 3, according
to TASS of December 29. In a related move, Interfax on December
28 reported that, starting on December 30, 40-50% of salaries
in Ukraine will be paid in the form of coupons which will serve
as an alternative currency, eventually replacing the ruble.
At this writing, it was not clear whether Ukraine and other members
of the CIS will liberalize wholesale and retail prices in concert
with Russia and Belarus. A com-munique from Minsk may clarify
matters. (Keith Bush)

PRIMAKOV JOINS YELTSIN. After meeting with senior officials of
Soviet foreign intelligence, Boris Yeltsin announced that the
agency would be renamed the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service,
TASS reported on December 26. Evgenii Primakov will continue
to head the service. (Victor Yasmann)

KHASBULATOV SAYS FAMINE "IMPOSSIBLE." Ruslan Khasbulatov, chairman
of the Russian Supreme Soviet, sought to reassure the population
in an interview on Moscow TV on December 28. He said that some
disruptions in the heating and food supplies are likely, but
people should not hoard food in anticipation of a famine. A famine,
he said, "is simply impossible. We will not let that happen."
(Carla Thorson)

RUSSIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT CONCERNED. The Russian Federation's
Constitutional Court has expressed concern over violations of
the republican Constitution and laws, Russian TV newscasts reported
on December 26. As examples, the judges cited the new republican
law on the media, as well as Yeltsin's edict merging the former
USSR and RSFSR ministries of internal affairs and KGBs. The Court
also objected to the change of the republic's name, on the grounds
that only the Congress of People's Deputies, not the Supreme
Soviet, is entitled to change the Russian Constitution. (Julia
Wishnevsky)

RUSSIAN PRESS LAW AMENDED. On December 27, the Russian
Federation Supreme Soviet amended the controversial Press Law,
adopted by the body a few weeks before. The parliament repealed
the passages ordering journalists to reveal their sources to
the police and banning secret filming. The law was widely condemned
as violating journalists' rights, and Yeltsin had promised to
veto it. (Julia Wishnevsky)

CENTRAL TELEVISION TRANSFORMED INTO RUSSIAN STATE CONCERN. Boris
Yeltsin has signed an decree transforming Central Television
into the Russian State Television and Radio Company "Ostankino",
TASS reported, December 27. The new television company will take
over the property and assets of Central Television. Egor Yakovlev,
who since August has headed the Second Channel (known as "Russian
Television"), will be the president of "Ostankino" company. Yeltsin's
decree also envisages the management of the Ostankino to organize
journalistic coverage of the "political, economic and cultural
events" within the whole territory of the CIS. Another provision
of the edict calls for the creation of television joint stock
society, which will be open for the members of the CIS. (Victor
Yasmann)

KRAVCHUK ON UKRAINIAN INDEPENDENCE AND THE COMMONWEALTH. Ukrainian
President Leonid Kravchuk has been outlining Ukraine's priorities
in the domestic and external spheres. He told Ukrinform on December
28 that Ukraine intended to pursue its own independent foreign
policy and would not agree to the Commonwealth of Independent
States (CIS) representing it at the international level. He noted
with pride that Ukraine had been "the force" that had "destroyed
the [Soviet] empire." As a democratic independent European state,
Kravchuk explained, Ukraine wants to become a member of the EC.
It is also especially interested in developing ties with countries
where large numbers of Ukrainians have settled. At home, Kravchuk
said, the top priority is fundamental reform of the economy.
(Bohdan Nahaylo)

KRAVCHUK ON THE UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT AND ELECTIONS. Ukrainian
President Leonid Kravchuk has kept the pledge that he made before
the presidential election and has proposed to the Ukrainian parliament
the draft of a law on multiparty elections, Radio Kiev reported
on December 27. Kravchuk has also urged the parliament to add
the final touches to the draft of Ukraine's new constitution,
which it approved earlier this year, and to offer it for public
debate. Before the presidential elections, Kravchuk promised
that in the event of his victory, he would call on the Ukrainian
parliament (whose majority is made up of conservative former
Communists) to adopt a new, more democratic law on multiparty
elections and then dissolve itself so that new elections could
be held. (Bohdan Nahaylo)

GAMSAKHURDIA IGNORES CALLS FOR HIS RESIGNATION. Anti-Gamsakhurdia
rebels stormed KGB headquarters in Tbilisi on December 27 and
freed several prominent political prisoners. A first round of
talks between pro- and anti-Gamsakhurdia forces on December 28
resulted in a ceasefire; a joint call for Gamsakhurdia's resignation
and the transfer of presidential powers to the republic's parliament
was issued after a second round of talks the same day. Several
senior Gamsakhurdia supporters defected to the opposition. Fighting
resumed on December 29; troops loyal to Gamsakhurdia drove opposition
forces out of the parliament building which they had penetrated
the previous day. TASS reported on December 29 that the civilian
population was fleeing from central Tbilisi. (Liz Fuller)

ARMENIAN-RUSSIAN SUMMIT. At a one-day Armenian-Russian summit
in Moscow on December 29 Russian Federation President Boris Yeltsin
and Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan signed a treaty on
friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance that gives special
attention to human rights and economic cooperation, TASS reported
that day. Yeltsin subsequently told reporters that the CIS summit
in Minsk on December 30 would discuss the Armenian-Azerbaijan
conflict over the NKAO and try to find a political solution.
An Azerinform correspondent told Moscow television on December
28 that Azerbaijan rejects the NKAO's demand for separate Common-wealth
membership. (Liz Fuller)

AZERBAIJAN HOLDS REFERENDUM ON INDEPENDENCE. A referendum was
held in Azerbaijan on December 29 to evaluate popular support
for the October law on Azerbaijani independence, TASS reported
on December 29. Observers from Turkey and several former Soviet
republics travelled to Azerbaijan to monitor the voting. (Liz
Fuller)

ELECTION AND REFERENDUM IN UZBEKISTAN. Soviet and Western news
agencies carried reports on December 29 on the presidential election
and referendum on independence held in Uzbekistan that day. Contestants
for the presidency were the incumbent, Islam Karimov, backed
by the Popular-Democratic (formerly Communist) Party, and poet
Muhammad Salih, chairman of the small Erk Democratic Party.
The opposition Popular Front group Birlik was not allowed to
nominate a candidate. Karimov was heavily favored to win. Preliminary
results were expected on December 30. In a second ballot, voters
were asked to vote for or against Uzbekistan's independence,
declared by the republic's Supreme Soviet on August 31. (Bess
Brown)

KAZAKHSTAN ADOPTS CITIZENSHIP LAW. KazTAG reported on
December 20 that Kazakhstan's Supreme Soviet had adopted a law
on citizenship. According to the report, the equality of citizens
is guaranteed regardless of nationality, religious confession
or political convictions. The report does not, however, list
the requirements for obtaining citizenship. This, to many Kazakhs
of all political orientations, would be the most important aspect
of the citizenship law, which they hoped would be a mechanism
for limiting migration of non-Kazakhs into Kazakhstan. (Bess
Brown)

BAN LIFTED ON TAJIKISTAN'S COMMUNIST PARTY. TASS reported on
December 25 that Tajiki-stan's Supreme Soviet had removed the
ban it had placed on the activities of the republican Communist
Party in October, pending investigation of the party's actions
during the August coup. The ban was first instituted in September
by the chairman of the Supreme Soviet; its revocation at that
time contributed to large anti-Communist demonstrations that
continued until the ban was reimposed. But opposition forces
in the republic suffered a setback with the November election
of former Communist Party chief Rakhman Nabiev as republican
president. The conservative legislature declared that no evidence
was found to link the Tajik CP with the coup. (Bess Brown)

MOLDAVIA WANTS "NEUTRALITY," INDEPENDENT MILITARY. At a meeting
on December 28 with the command staff of the forces of the former
USSR based in Moldavia, President Mircea Snegur declared that
"Moldavia intends to become a neutral state," the Presidential
Chancellery announced in a communique issued through Moldovapres
that day. The Chancellery told RFE/RL that Kishinev will take
the position in the coming negotiations with the CIS that the
republic's sought-for neutrality presupposes exclusive republican
command of all conventional forces in the republic, precluding
Moldavia's participation in joint command structures. (Vladimir
Socor)

MOLDAVIA ACCELERATES ECONOMIC REFORMS. The Moldavian Parliament
voted on December 27 to empower the president of the republic
to introduce economic reforms by presidential decree, Moldovapres
reported that day. The measure is designed to circumvent parliamentary
resistance from Russian communist holdovers and Moldavian Agrarians
to some of the planned reforms. Prime Minister Valeriu Muravschi
told Parliament that his government will begin price liberalization
on January 2, 1992 by allowing staple food prices to double
and other commodity and consumer goods prices to quadruple in
this first stage. Muravschi also announced that the planned Moldavian
currency will be introduced in July, 1992. At the same sitting,
the Parliament voted the law on the operation of joint-stock
companies in Moldavia. (Vladimir Socor)

"DNIESTER SSR" GUARDS SEIZE ARMORED VEHICLES. An armed detachment
of the "Dniester SSR Republican Guard" accompanied by Russian
women from the Tiraspol-based "Women's Strike Committee" raided
the base of a USSR MVD battalion in Bendery, Moldavia's Ministry
of Internal Affairs said in a press release on December 23. They
made off with 2 armored personnel carriers, 2 military trucks,
and other equipment, which they took to Tiraspol. The MVD unit
offered no resistance and failed to notify the Moldavian authorities
in time, suggesting collusion with the raiders. Meanwhile, Moldavian
police in Bendery remain trapped in their headquarters building
by the superior force of the "Dniester" guards. (Vladimir Socor)


BALTIC STATES


ESTONIA WELCOMES CIS, LAUDS GORBACHEV. Chairman of the Estonian
Supreme Council Arnold Ruutel welcomed the establishment of the
CIS and credited Mikhail Gorbachev with having started the reform
process in the USSR. In a press statement following Gorbachev's
December 25 announcement, Ruutel said the reform process had
outstripped its instigator, but that the CIS "opens the possibility
for Estonia's eastern neighbor to move toward stability and prosperity."
Ruutel also called on CIS member states to halt immediately their
citizens' service in the former Soviet armed forces, which he
said continue to occupy Estonia. BNS carried Ruutel's remarks
on December 27. (Riina Kionka)

FLYING HIGH IN LITHUANIA. Lithuania will raise airline prices
on January 1, BNS reported on December 29. In the new year,
a flight from Vilnius to Moscow will cost 300 rubles instead
of 47. Visitors to Alma-Ata will pay 950 rubles, up from 113;
flights to Baku and Tbilisi will cost 1000 rubles, up from 85
and 77, respectively. (Riina Kionka)

ESTONIAN AGREEMENTS WITH UZBEKISTAN . . . Estonia signed an economic
and trade accord with Uzbekistan on December 26, BNS reported
the next day. Uzbekistan will send Estonia nearly 18,000 tons
of cotton in return for Estonian manufactured goods and paper
products. The parties will conclude a separate agreement in case
either state introduces its own currency. (Riina Kionka)

. . . AND WITH RUSSIA. Estonia signed a similar agreement with
the Russian Federation on December 28, BNS reported the next
day. The parties agreed to trade in world prices and on a most-favored-nation
basis but to restrict export of certain goods in short supply.
A supplementary accord, to be signed within the next month, will
govern trade in case either side introduces its own convertible
currency. Estonian officials involved in the talks leading to
the agreement reportedly involved in the talks leading to the
agreement reportedly accused Russia of not fulfilling its delivery
promises for 1991. Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar
denied the charges, saying that Estonia had concluded earlier
agreements with the USSR, not with Russia. (Riina Kionka)

CORRECTION. Estonia has sufficient gasoline and diesel fuel reserves
for only three days, not three months, as reported in the Daily
Report, December 27.



CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

CZECHOSLOVAKIA WANTS SOVIET DEBT IN KIND. An advisor to Czechoslovak
Finance Minister Vaclav Klaus says that Czechoslovakia wants
the Commonwealth of Independent States to repay the USSR's debt
to Czechoslovakia in goods rather than in money. CSTK reported
on December 27 that Zdenek Rachac had estimated that the debt
amounted to about $5 billion. He said that Czechoslovakia had
not yet worked out what each former Soviet republic owed it.
(Barbara Kroulik)

BIG POLISH-RUSSIAN TRADE DEAL. Poland and Russia signed a trade
agreement on December 24 covering "strategic" commodities worth
$1.4 billion for each side. Poland is to provide Russia with
coal and sulphur, $500 million in food, and $400 million in medicines,
according to a report in Gazeta Wyborcza on December 27. In return,
Russia is to supply Poland with natural gas and oil. These deliveries
should cover all of Poland's natural gas needs and half its oil
needs for 1992. A special payments mechanism was devised to avoid
the problems of the past. The Poles will pay hard currency into
a special account at the Polish Trade Bank; the Russians will
draw on this account for their purchases; and a zero balance
should be the end result. The agreement was the result of outgoing
Finance Minister Leszek Balcerowicz's visit to Moscow on December
18. (Louisa Vinton)

PROBLEMS ON POLAND'S BORDERS. Huge crowds of travelers hoping
to enter Poland from Ukraine have led the Polish authorities
to consider "very drastic measures," including the imposition
of entry visas, Deputy Internal Affairs Minister Jerzy Zimowski
reported at a press conference on December 23. Ukrainian officials
in the Lvov area imposed a ban on the export of 56 goods, including
alcohol and food, on December 22 in an attempt to limit border
congestion. According to PAP, Ukrainian officials admitted to
their counterparts that "horrible corruption" prevailed among
Ukrainian customs and border security personnel. The informal
trading conducted at Polish bazaars by travelers from the East
has also become a serious problem. Polish officials estimated
that Soviet "tourists" returned home from Poland with about $1
billion in 1991, despite the fact that the sale of dollars to
foreigners is illegal. Officials also said that some 200 people--most
of them Romanians--are apprehended every month during illegal
attempts to cross Poland's western border into Germany. (Louisa
Vinton)

CROATIAN UPDATE. German and Croatian media on December 28 quoted
President Franjo Tudjman as telling parliament that Croatia must
fight on until "the Serb occupier" is evicted "from the last
bit of Croatian territory." He also repeated his call for early
deployment of UN peace-keeping forces. Meanwhile, for the first
time in the war a general alarm went out in Zagreb as the Serbian-dominated
federal army fired surface-to-surface missiles nearby. The army
also intensified its offensive against Karlovac southwest of
Zagreb, with shelling resulting in at least 10 deaths in 24 hours.
In eastern Croatia, Osijek continued to be bombarded by Serbian-backed
forces. (Patrick Moore)

SERBIA DIVIDED OVER WAR, OPPOSES SOCIALISM. Two opinion polls
conducted by the Belgrade Institute for Political Studies suggest
that Serbia is divided on the issue of the war in Croatia and
is turning away from socialism. In a poll published by the Belgrade
daily Politika on December 24, 52% of the respondents supported
Serbia's government policy on the war, while 48% opposed it.
53% felt the mobilization of the army reserve was fully jusitified,
but 28% saw no reason to fight and said they would avoid the
call up. On December 29, the daily published results of another
poll showing that only 27% supported socialist ideas, down from
40% a year ago. The proportion of non-socialists and anti-socialists
had risen from 54% to over 67%. (Milan Andrejevich)

SERBIA TO OBSERVE MAJOR RELIGIOUS HOLIDAYS. For the first time
in fifty years, Serbian citizens will be given the day off with
pay in observance of major religious holidays. According to Radio
Belgrade, Serbia's National Assembly on December 27 passed a
law extending such rights to the republic's Eastern Orthodox,
Roman Catholic, Jewish and Muslim believers. (Milan Andrejevich)


ROMANIAN AND MOLDAVIAN PRIME MINISTERS MEET. Romanian Prime Minister
Theodor Stolojan and his Moldavian counterpart Valeriu Muravschi
held talks on December 28, at the latter's request, in the Romanian
border town of Husi. Muravschi said he wanted to inform Stolojan
about recent developments in the former Soviet Union, which he
said could help speed up the process of economic and cultural
integration between Romania and Moldavia. Meanwhile, at a holiday
gathering on December 27, Stolojan told reporters that reversing
the decline in production, which is 35% below the 1989 level,
was Romania's priority for 1992. He described the new wage system
that takes effect on January 1; this allow the liberalization
of salaries on the condition that managers lay off inefficient
employees, Rompres reported. (Crisula Stefanescu)

HUNGARIAN TAX OFFICIALS GET BROADER POWERS. On December 27, the
Hungarian parliament modified the law on taxation to make it
possible for tax, customs, and social security authorities to
obtain information from banks on depositors' accounts to ascertain
a taxpayer's financial situation, MTI reported. Beginning in
1992, Hungarian taxpayers will also have to make yearly property
returns to provide tax authorities with a "photograph of their
financial position." The law passed by a vote of 170 to 108,
with 5 abstentions. The major opposition parties criticized the
law as a violation of the right to privacy. Finance Minister
Mihaly Kupa argued that the law "does not give unlimited interference
rights to the tax office, only a fair chance to correctly supervise."
It was Kupa who introduced income taxes to Hungary in 1988, a
unique move among communist countries at the time. (Edith Oltay)



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