|Absence makes the heart grow fonder. -|
No. 3, 07 January 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO USSR GAMSAKHURDIA FLEES. After 15 days under siege, Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia escaped under cover of darkness from the Georgian parliament building on January 6 and fled with his family and entourage first to Kazakh in Azerbaijan and thence to Idzhevan in Armenia. The Armenian government has offered him right of passage but not asylum, TASS reported on January 6. Georgian Military Council co-chairman Dzhaba Ioseliani is quoted in The Boston Globe on January 7 as stating that Georgia will request Gamsakhurdia's extradition from any country that offers him sanctuary. Gamsakhurdia had declared on January 4 that he was prepared to hold out indefinitely against the rebels. On January 5 he proposed a referendum on their demand that he should resign. Prisoners who had been held hostage by Gamsakhurdia in the besieged parliament alleged they had been beaten, tortured, and raped. Western journalists report widespread jubilation in Tbilisi at Gamsakhurdia's ouster, coupled with distress at the destruction of the past two weeks. (Liz Fuller) TENSIONS RISE OVER CONTROL OF ARMY, FLEET. Moves by Ukraine over the weekend to assert control over formerly Soviet military personnel and assets located in the republic have raised tensions with both the CIS military leadership and elements within the Russian Federation government. Command of the Black Sea Fleet, headquartered in Sevastopol, is at the center of the current conflict. On January 5, according to CIS and Western sources, Ukrainian Defense Minister Konstantin Morozov claimed the fleet for the republic, arguing that it could not be considered part of the strategic forces and that Ukraine ultimately must be a maritime power. (Stephen Foye) CIS COMMAND REJECTS UKRAINIAN CLAIM. CIS Commander in Chief Evgenii Shaposhnikov immediately disputed the Ukrainian claim, arguing that it contravened the Minsk agreements aimed at establishing jurisdiction over the armed forces. He warned that the fleet-the only warm water fleet possessed by the former Soviet Union-was indeed part of the strategic forces, that it was responsible for opposing the US Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean, and that one-half of its ships were capable of carrying nuclear weapons. Shaposhnikov's protest was immediately seconded by CIS Navy Commander in Chief Vladimir Chernavin and his first deputy commander, Ivan Kapitanets. (Stephen Foye) MORE PROBLEMS FOR CIS COMMAND. Shaposhnikov disclosed on January 5 that only five of the eleven CIS members are now interested in maintaining unified command over general purpose forces, CIS and Western sources reported. The five include the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. On December-30 it was announced that eight republics were interested in such an arrangement. On January-4, according to TASS, Shaposhnikov described the situation in the armed forces as "critical," and urged that a two-year transitional period be established to ease tensions. A January 6 Izvestia report quoted Shaposhnikov as saying that Ukraine had cut off systems of troop command from the General Staff. (Stephen Foye) SOLDIERS SWORN INTO UKRAINIAN FORCES. Military personnel continued to be sworn into the Ukrainian military over the weekend, a process that began on January 3. CIS television reported on January 6 that more than 80% of all troops in Ukraine's three military districts-some 500,000 men-had taken the oath. The administering of oaths also has angered military and political leaders in Moscow. Interfax reported on January 6 that 850-army officers had refused to swear loyalty to Ukraine and were being moved to the Russian Federation. (Stephen Foye) SHAPOSHNIKOV ON NUCLEAR WEAPONS. TASS quoted Shaposhnikov on January 5 as saying that he is in possession of one of the three "briefcases" containing nuclear codes, while another is with Russian President Boris Yeltsin, and the third is in reserve. He said that a special procedure has been instituted necessitating consultations with the leaders of the three other nuclear CIS states-Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan-for launching nuclear weapons. Shaposhnikov added that all tactical nuclear weapons will be transferred to Russian territory and destroyed. (Alexander Rahr) GEORGIAN REBELS CONSOLIDATE POWER. The Military Council which declared on January 4 that it had seized power in Georgia appointed as Prime Minister of a temporary government Tengiz Sigua, forced by Gamsakhurdia to resign from that post in August. Three senior officials who had occupied key posts in the administrative organs and the military in the early 1980s were named to the posts of Procurator, Minister of Internal Affairs, and Defense Minister. The Military Council will remain in power until elections are held, possibly within the next three months, according to National Democratic Party chairman Gia Chanturia. (Liz Fuller) SHEVARDNADZE, CLAIMANTS TO GEORGIAN THRONE PONDER RETURNING. In an interview given to French TV on January 5, former Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze, who was Georgian CP First Secretary from 1972 to 1985, called on Gamsakhurdia to resign in order to preclude further bloodshed and offered his services to speed the process of democratization in Georgia. Western news agencies reported on January 6 that Shevardnadze had been invited by Dzhaba Ioseliani to return to Georgia and that Shevardnadze would not rule out the possibility of running for Georgian president. Shevardnadze also announced the creation of a fund to rebuild Georgia's shattered economy. Also pondering a return to Georgia are several members of the Georgian royal family currently living in Spain. The Bagrations were forced into exile when Tsarist Russia annexed Georgia in 1801. (Liz Fuller) TACTICAL NUCLEAR WEAPONS SAID TO REMAIN IN GEORGIA. Contradicting recent announcements by Soviet military officials, the Georgian news agency IPRINDA claimed on January 5 that tactical nuclear weapons belonging to the former Soviet army were still deployed in Georgia. A spokesman for Danish military intelligence was quoted by Danish television on January 4 as saying that Danish intelligence officials also believed that there still were such weapons in Georgia. (Doug Clarke) PRICES FREED IN MOST STATES. Most retail prices were reportedly freed in Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan on January 6, and prices are scheduled to be liberalized in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan on January 10, according to Radio Rossii, Radio Moscow, and Western agencies on January 5 and 6. This leaves Tajikistan as the only state that has not specified a date for price liberalization or adjustment. The distribution of "family ration cards" began in Kazakhstan on January 6. In Turkmenistan, it was announced that the prices of locally made products would not be allowed to increase by more than three times. It appears that the retail prices of some staple foodstuffs and other basic goods and services will remain controlled in all Commonwealth states. (Keith Bush) SOME PRICE FALLS REPORTED. In a survey of retail price movements and reactions among Russian shoppers on January 6, TASS reported some price declines. In some instances, this was attributable to consumer resistance to the steep increases in prices since January 2, but the visible hand of the authorities was also deemed responsible. Thus, prices fell in Kirov after a 25% surcharge on some food items was removed and in Arkhangelsk after the "presidential tax" was lifted from cigarettes. The prices of meat and sausage were lowered in Stavropol after customers smashed shop windows. (Keith Bush) TRADE UNIONS PROTEST PRICE LIBERALIZATION IN UKRAINE. The Ukrainian Federation of Independent Trade Unions [official unions] issued a statement of protest to the Ukrainian government in connection with price liberalization, Ukrinform-TASS reported on January 3. The trade unions accused the Ukrainian president and government of not instituting proper safeguards for the population under conditions of increasing prices. The document stressed the necessity of social guarantees including: a minimum wage, a rational system of tax indexation based on income, and a program to support underprivileged segments of the population. (Carla Thorson) GAIDAR DECLINES WANNISKI PLAN. On January 3, Izvestia reported that Russian Deputy Prime Minister Egor Gaidar intended to wait a few weeks to see if the price liberalization was working. If not, he would turn to other solutions, including a "new plan" devised by Jude Wanniski, the director of Polyconomics, Inc. of New Jersey. [For Wanniski's recommendations, see From the Command Economy to the Market, pp. 181-189; cf. The Wall Street Journal, December 23, 1991]. On January 4, TASS carried Gaidar's rebuttal. Gaidar explained that Wanniski's plan was based on the assumption that Russian gold reserves were 10-15 times higher than their actual level. (Keith Bush) SUPPORT FOR EARLY IMF MEMBERSHIP. In a statement published on January 3, US Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady said that the US will support "early consideration" of International Monetary Fund and World Bank membership for six of the 12 Commonwealth states, RFE/RL's Washington bureau reported that day. The states named were Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, and Armenia. The US has extended diplomatic recognition to Russia and is proceeding to establish diplomatic ties with the other five. Brady said that once Washington establishes diplomatic ties with the remaining CIS members, it will urge speedy consideration of their applications for membership in the two institutions. (Robert Lyle and Keith Bush) RUSSIA TAKES OVER ALL USSR EMBASSIES. Western news agencies on January 3 quoted Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vitalii Churkin as saying that Russia has formally taken over all Soviet embassies around the world but will represent the diplomatic interests of other members of the CIS if they wish. Foreign ministers of the CIS member states will meet on January 10 to discuss the issue of diplomatic representation. Meanwhile, former Soviet Ambassador to the US Viktor Komplektov was recalled by Russian authorities and returned to Moscow on January 2. He left the embassy in the hands of Andrei Kolosovsky, representative of the Russian Federation at the embassy, Western agencies reported on January 4. The 34-year-old Kolosovsky is expected to be named Russian ambassador to the US, according to The Washington Post of January 4, but his appointment will not be official until his credentials are accepted by the US government. (Alexander Rahr and Suzanne Crow) CHRISTIAN-DEMOCRATS ATTACK RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT. Russian Christian- Democrats have issued a statement attacking the Russian government's reform program, Russian TV reported on January 4. The chairman of the Political Council of the Christian- Democratic Movement, Viktor Aksyuchits, at a press conference criticized the premature "destruction of a single country." Aksyuchits, coming close to the position taken by Russian Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi, attacked the liberalization of prices and the dissolution of state farms. Aksyuchits announced the convocation of a Congress of Patriotic Forces of Russia next month in Moscow, which its backers hope will become an influential opposition. (Alexander Rahr) TAJIKISTAN DENIES PLANS TO SELL URANIUM. The official TadzhikTA news agency reported on January 6 that Tajikistan's government has denied that it has been approached by Arab states seeking to buy enriched uranium. The story was issued by the unofficial news agency NANT; the Tajik Supreme Soviet has instructed the state prosecutor to investigate the release of the story. According to the official report, Tajikistan cannot sell enriched uranium-it does not have an enrichment plant. (Bess Brown) MOLDOVA ACCELERATES ECONOMIC REFORMS. The Moldovan parliament adopted on January 4 a law on bankruptcy which, inter alia, enables unprofitable state enterprises to declare bankruptcy and be broken up. On the same day, the parliament adopted a law on external economic relations which enables foreign investors to open firms with 100% foreign capital in Moldova and offers special incentives to ventures producing goods in short supply in Moldova, Moldovapres reported that day. On January 5, Prime Minister Valeriu Muravschi told Moldovan TV that privatization of trade and services is about to begin in Moldova. (Vladimir Socor) MOLDOVA NEGOTIATING ON OPENING EMBASSIES. Foreign Minister Nicolae Tiu told Radio Chisinau on January 3 that Moldova is currently negotiating with foreign states for the opening of some 17 to 20 Moldovan embassies abroad, and that Chisinau is setting aside a similar number of buildings for foreign embassies in the Moldovan capital. (Vladimir Socor) MOLDOVA OFFERING COMMISSIONS TO OFFICERS OF EX-USSR. In separate interviews with Literatura si Arta and with Moldovan TV on January 2 and 3, respectively, Minister of National Security Anatol Plugaru and the Director-General of the State Department for Military Affairs, Nicolae Chirtoaca, said that Moldova's army and border corps-both in formation-will accept all officers of the former USSR army and border troops now serving in Moldova, regardless of nationality. Professionalism and loyalty to the republic will be the only criteria for acceptance, the officials said. (Vladimir Socor) BALTIC STATES BALTIC COUNCIL GREETS CIS. The Baltic Council hailed the establishment of the CIS and called on member states to resolve immediately remaining security questions. In a statement released after a January-5 meeting in Jurmala, the Council appealed to leaders of CIS member states to withdraw former Soviet troops from the Baltic States quickly. The Council, attended this weekend by the three Baltic Supreme Council chairmen, also proposed that the withdrawing troops leave remaining military equipment in the Baltic for use by emerging local defense forces, BNS reported. (Riina Kionka) ESTONIA WANTS CONVENTIONAL WEAPONS. Commenting on the Baltic Council's proposal that withdrawing Soviet troops hand over their weapons to the Balts, acting chief of the Estonian Defense Forces General Staff Ants Laaneots said Estonia does not want high-tech strategic arms but only needs some conventional weapons for defense. As quoted by BNS, Laaneots continued, "Estonia is very interested in tanks, air defense equipment, and coast guard and mine ships. The Estonian Defense Forces could also use 1-2-fighter planes and helicopters." (Riina Kionka) ESTONIA PLANS LOAN TO COVER KROON. The government on January-6 approved an Estonian Bank proposal to borrow $150-million from outside lenders to establish a stabilization fund for its new currency, the kroon. BNS reported that Estonian Bank Assistant President Vahur Kraft said the government will put the proposal to the Supreme Council this week. If the proposal is approved, the bank will begin seeking lenders immediately. Minister for the Environment Tonis Kaasik added that preparations are already underway to use Estonia's forest industry as collateral for part of the loan. (Riina Kionka) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE WHILE POLISH WORKERS THREATEN TO STRIKE OVER PRICE HIKES,-.-.-. On January-4 the Polish Trade Union Federation (OPZZ) threatened to call a general strike to protest the sharp price increases on electricity, gas, and hot water. The formerly communist OPZZ and the Pensioners' Federation, which claim millions of members, have demanded the price hikes be rescinded. Opposition to the new prices is growing, particularly in the cities of Lodz, Bydgoszcz, Wroclaw, Zielona Gora, and Szczecin, PAP reports. On January-1 gas prices were raised 70%, electricity prices by 20%, and hot water by 83- 100%. Prices were increased last May by an average of 25%. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) .-.-. OLSZEWSKI THREATENS TO RESIGN. Speaking during a parliamentary debate on the draft 1992 budget on January-4, Prime Minister Jan Olszewski said he would rather resign than abandon the energy price increases. He told the Sejm deputies that to cancel price hikes would mean the "collapse" of the economy, adding "we do not have the right to imperil the stability of the state and of the economy." On January-3 the prime minister said the government would be forced to retreat in the event of the general strike, Western media reported. The draft budget provides for a record deficit of $1.6-billion in the first quarter of the current year. Last year's entire deficit was $2.7-billion. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) WARSAW INTENDS TO SLOW DOWN PRIVATIZATION. On January-6 Poland's new government indicated that it plans to slow down the privatization program and concentrate on helping ailing state industries. Tomasz Gruszecki, head of the Privatization Ministry, told newsmen "in order to move forward you sometimes have to step back," Western media reported. Emphasizing that privatization policy must be subordinated to industrial policy, he said his new ministry will focus on drafting legal reforms to strengthen the state treasury so it can act in the capacity of owner for thousands of state companies. He added that the new government plans to offer incentives to investors of Polish extraction in the West who have not made major financial commitments so far. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) HUNGARIAN FINANCE MINISTER ON ACCELERATING PRIVATIZATION. Hungarian Finance Minister Mihaly Kupa told a press conference on January-6 that the legislative foundations of economic privatization in Hungary will be further expanded during the course of this year, MTI reported. Kupa said that much of the basic economic legislation had already been enacted in 1991 and further basic legislation on cooperatives, land ownership, insurance, and customs will be adopted this year. He announced that new financial institutions to provide credit to the private sector are due to be created in 1992 and the privatization of major banks will also begin during the year. (Edith Oltay) HUNGARIAN AND NORWEGIAN FOREIGN MINISTERS SAY CIS STATES SHOULD JOIN CSCE. At a joint press conference in Budapest on January-6, Hungarian Foreign Minister Geza Jeszenszky and his Norwegian counterpart Thorvald Stoltenberg proposed that the member states of the Community of Independent States join the CSCE process as soon as possible. The two ministers agreed that the inclusion of the CIS member states in the CSCE process was essential for maintaining security and stability in Europe. They said that the CSCE has from its inception extended beyond Europe and should now include all republics of the former USSR. This was reported by MTI. (Edith Oltay) GENSCHER MEETS DIENSTBIER. German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher met his Czechoslovak counterpart Jiri Dienstbier in Stuttgart on January-6. The official German statement said that they discussed the German-Czechoslovak friendship treaty initialled last October but not yet signed. The accord recognizes existing borders and renounces any territorial claims by either country and calls for a peaceful solution of all bilateral disputes. The ministers were to discuss the manner and date for the signing ceremony. They also discussed preparations for a CSCE meeting scheduled for later this month, an RFE/RL correspondent reports. (Barbara Kroulik) TRIAL OF FORMER CZECHOSLOVAK OFFICIALS RESCHEDULED. The trial of three high-ranking Interior Ministry officials accused of repressing anticommunist dissidents and ordering arrests in 1988 and 1989 will continue on January-14, an RFE/RL correspondent reports. The three are former Interior Minister Frantisek Kincl, his first deputy, Aloiz Lorenc, and former top secret police officer Karel Vykypel. The trial was adjourned shortly after opening on December-16 in Tabor when defense lawyer Pavel Klimes objected that some judges on the military court might be biased in the case. (Barbara Kroulik) ROMANIAN ELECTIONS AND THE MEDIA. The campaign for local elections to be held on February-9 began on January-6. On January-3 Prime Minister Theodor Stolojan met with representatives of the 14-parties and groups making up the Democratic Convention, which appears to be the major challenger to the National Salvation Front. Guarantees of the neutrality of Romania's (state) television and the replacement of its management were requested, and Stolojan was asked to speed up parliamentary consideration of the election finance bill. On January-4 local media quoted Cazimir Ionescu, president of the newly created multiparty Commission for the Coordination of the Electoral Campaign on Radio and Television, that his commission will ensure free and fair preparations for the elections. He also said that the 12-regional television studios will participate in the campaign. (Mihai Sturdza) BUCHAREST FREEZING. Mayor Doru Pana complained to local media about the insufficient energy deliveries to industrial enterprises and residences. On January-2, for instance, while average outside temperatures were -3.7¡-C., the thermal energy delivered by the Ministry of Industry was only two-thirds of the required amount. Instead of the planned 550,000-m3 of natural gas and of the 6,500-tons/day of crude oil, only 360,000-m3 of gas and 1,069-tons of oil reached the users. (Mihai Sturdza) BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER'S ADDRESS. In a TV address to the nation on January-6 Prime Minister Filip Dimitrov analyzed the economic situation and the government's policy. As quoted by BTA, he said priority will be given in 1992 to privatization and restitution of property, moves expected to help increase production. A new law on foreign investments will be passed before January-20. He said that the measures to stabilize the economy will be painful but unavoidable. Dimitrov predicted price increases and growth of unemployment. A new tax system will be prepared for 1993 and a draft long-term agreement on foreign debt will be approved by the end of January for discussion with the creditor banks. (Rada Nikolaev) SECRET SERVICE GENERAL COMMITS SUICIDE. Former Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Gen. Stoyan Savov was found dead on January-6 in his native village of Lesichovo in front of a memorial to a communist resistance fighter. BTA quoted police as saying he was found with a bullet wound in his temple and a pistol beside him. A letter to his wife found in his home announced his intention to kill himself and gave political motives. Savov was to-have gone on trial on January-8, together with Gen. Vladimir Todorov, on charges of having caused the disappearance of the files on the murder of exiled writer Georgi Markov in London in 1978. (Rada Nikolaev) BULGARIAN SUPPORT FOR THE REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA. In an interview in Demokratsiya on January-4 President Zhelyu Zhelev said Bulgaria is categorically against the emerging position in the European Community to recognize Slovenia and Croatia before the Republic of Macedonia. He said this might cause a spillover of the military conflict and then there would be no guarantee that Bulgaria would not become involved in any ensuing conflicts one way or another. In a message to President Kiro Gligorov of the Republic of Macedonia reported by BTA on January-4, Zhelev said Bulgaria is for a free and independent Republic of Macedonia which will no longer be a target of territorial claims by any neighboring country. At an election rally in Sofia on January-5 Zhelev insisted that the EC should recognize the Republic of Macedonia together with Slovenia and Croatia, after which Bulgaria would also recognize it. (Rada Nikolaev) REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA TRIES TO MEET EC CONDITIONS. According to Western and local media reports on January-6, the Republic of Macedonia's national assembly amended its constitution in compliance with conditions laid down by the EC for recognition as an independent state. The amendments, aimed at reassuring Greece, stated that the Republic of Macedonia "has no territorial ambitions" towards any of its neighbors and that it would not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries. Greek Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis said on January-5, however, that Skopje has not yet met the EC conditions and emphasized that Greece "will not negotiate away its national rights." Greece does not recognize the existence of a Macedonian nation, and Mitsotakis demanded that the Republic of Macedonia change its name to eliminate the term "Macedonia." He referred to it as the "Republic of Skopje." Talks between Greece and the Republic of Macedonia broke down last week. Meanwhile, leaders of the Republic of Macedonia's Albanian minority said they will go ahead with a referendum on autonomy on January 11-12. (Milan Andrejevich) UN MONITORS FOR YUGOSLAVIA? As the latest cease-fire continued to hold, UN Secretary-General Boutros Ghali said on January-6 that he wants to send 50-observers to Yugoslavia to supplement the EC monitors. The truce must be seen as truly holding, however, before further UN peace-keeping troops are authorized to go. The central question remains whether Serbian and army authorities will be able to control local Serbian politicians and irregulars and bring them around to observing the agreement UN Special Envoy Cyrus Vance negotiated on January-2. (Patrick Moore) SLOVENIA RULING COALITION ENDS. Slovenia's ruling United Democratic Opposition of Slovenia, DEMOS, came to an end on December-30, 1991. Founded in December 1989, the six-party coalition made up of left, center, and right parties, won in elections in the spring of 1990. In October, the influential Democratic Alliance split off, weakening the coalition. Public criticism of the Christian-Democrat Prime Minister Lojze Peterle intensified in recent months over economic issues and abortion, further weakening the coalition. DEMOS now stands to lose the majority in parliament and the stability of Peterle's government is threatened. Elections have been tentatively scheduled to take place in April, and Slovenes project a victory for the left-wing parties that include the former communists. A recent poll shows that President Milan Kucan, former head of the Slovenian communists, would be reelected. (Milan Andrejevich)
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