|We are all apt to believe what the world believes about us. - George Eliot|
No. 4, 08 January 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO USSR KRAVCHUK AND HIGH COMMAND SET SCHEDULE FOR MILITARY OATH. The Ukrainian press has published a statement by President Leonid Kravchuk addressed to servicemen in Ukraine. As summarized on January-7 by Radio Kiev, Kravchuk said that, as of January 3, all but strategic forces formally belong to the Ukrainian armed forces. The republic's high command has set a schedule for taking the military oath to serve Ukraine, according to another Radio Kiev report that day. It will be administered from January 10 to 20 in the Kiev Military District, from January 17 to 19 in the Odessa MD, and from January 15 to 20 in the Carpathian MD. 6,400 military personnel, including railroad troops, parts of the air defense forces, and 3,200 officers, had taken the oath as January 6. (Kathy Mihalisko) PARLIAMENT TO DISCUSS UKRAINE'S MILITARY DOCTRINE. A military legislation package is on the January 8 agenda of the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet. Draft laws on military doctrine, civil defense, and martial law will be discussed. (Kathy Mihalisko) RUSSIAN LEADERS OBJECT TO UKRAINIAN DEFENSE MOVES. On January 5, Ruslan Khasbulatov, Chairman of the Russian Supreme Soviet, said that Russia would not allow another republic to seize its fleets and armies, and that efforts to do so could tear apart the Commonwealth, CIS and Western agencies reported. The New York Times reported on January 5 that leading members of the Russian parliament, including Aleksandr Rutskoi, had sent a sharply worded letter to Ukraine complaining about Ukrainian actions, charging that they had created an "explosive situation." (Stephen Foye) STOLYAROV, LOBOV ON MILITARY TENSIONS. Major General Nikolai Stolyarov, an aide to the CIS commander for personnel matters, told "Vesti" on January 7 that the high command might move the Black Sea Fleet to Vladivostok to preclude its being seized by Ukraine. In an interview aired by Russian TV the same day, former General Staff Chief Vladimir Lobov said that the army was in a "ridiculous position," and did not know whom it was serving. Lobov was fired a month ago, apparently for his views on military reform, and his re-emergence is itself interesting. (Stephen Foye) GENERAL CRITICAL OF ARMY SPLIT. Colonel General Valerii Mironov, commander of the Northwestern Group of Forces, has denounced the policy of "certain [republican] leaders" aimed at dividing the Soviet Army without asking the opinion of the military itself. Mironov told Central TV's program "Novosti" on January 7 that Russia is the legal successor state of the former USSR and should have the final say concerning these issues. (Alexander Rahr) MEETING ON MILIARY MATTERS. Military experts and officers from the CIS member states are gathering in Moscow on January 8-9 to discuss military and political problems, TASS reported on January 6. The meeting is in preparation for a conference of CIS foreign ministers scheduled for January 10. Meanwhile, a commonwealth-wide "Officers' Assembly" is scheduled for January 14 in Moscow, Western agencies reported on January-7. Hundreds of officers will reportedly gather to discuss military matters. According to General Stolyarov, leaders of the CIS states have also been invited. (Stephen Foye) SECURITY FORCES FIRE ON GAMSAKHURDIA SUPPORTERS. Gunmen subordinate to Georgia's ruling Military Council opened fire on a crowd of between 2,000 and 4,000 demonstrators supporting ousted President Zviad Gamsakhurdia in Tbilisi on January 7, Western news agencies reported the same day. At least two people were wounded. Military Council officials later argued that the move was justified given that demonstrations are currently banned, that live ammunition was only used when the gunmen ran out of blank cartridges, and that no other means of crowd control were available. (Liz Fuller) GAMSAKHURDIA'S STATUS UNCLEAR. Armenian Foreign Minister Raffi Hovanissian told journalists in Washington on January 7 that Gamsakhurdia has not been granted safe haven in Armenia but will not be forced to leave. A Georgian delegation travelled to Erevan on January 7 to discuss Gamsakhurdia's fate; an Armenian spokesman subsequently stated that no formal extradition request was made. Radio Moscow reported on January 7 that Gamsakhurdia had requested Armenian help in fleeing to an unspecified Western country. Some Georgian opposition figures insist he should be returned and stand trial. Prime Minister-designate Tengiz Sigua told TASS on January 7 that Gamsakhurdia had absconded with more than 200 million rubles. (Liz Fuller) GORBACHEV RECEIVED KGB SURVEILLANCE ON YELTSIN. The Russian Federation Procuracy has discovered secret KGB reports monitoring the activities of former USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev's political opponents among papers belonging to former Chief of the CPSU CC General Department Valerii Boldin. According to a report in Rabochaya tribuna of December 7, some of the reports indicate that Gorbachev authorized political surveillance of Russian President Boris Yeltsin and other leading Russian politicians. However, the newspaper added, the former Soviet leader, never used the information obtained in such "an illegal way." At the time, it was the KGB's routine duty to coordinate transportation and communications for Yeltsin and other high ranking officials. (Victor Yasmann) INTRODUCTION OF COUPONS/MONEY SUBSTITUTES IN CIS. In an interview on Russian Television on January 5, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Egor Gaidar voiced his concern about the issue of coupons in Commonwealth states. ". . . If anything in the economy is going to be our downfall, then it is primarily substitutes for money that other republics are introducing . . . ." That same day, on Ukrainian Television, the chairman of the Ukrainian National Bank confirmed that Ukrainian coupons were replacing the ruble, with the quantity of coupons already being equal to the quantity of rubles in circulation in Ukraine. And, according to RTR of January 6, Belarus, Uzbekistan, and Moldova plan to issue coupons shortly. (Keith Bush) EC FOOD AID TO BE SOLD. On December 23, Gaidar told the Presidium of the Russian Parliament that his government planned to sell European Community food aid through the retail trade net-work, Postfactum reported that day. On January-3, EC Commission Ambassador Michael Emerson confirmed this arrangement, according to The Times of January 4. A small portion of the total EC aid will be distributed directly to the needy, but most of the aid, valued at some $2-3 billion, will be sold or auctioned to wholesalers who will be obliged to sell the food to retail outlets at controlled prices. The idea is to "prime the pump" and get goods into the stores. Revenues from the sales will be used for humanitarian purposes. (Keith Bush) APPLICATIONS TO IMF. On January 7, Russia and Azerbaijan applied for full membership in the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, RFE/RL's Washington bureau reported that day. Ukraine applied for full membership in the two organizations on December 31. The application process will take up to one year to complete but, according to The Financial Times of December 11, Russia has already put out feelers requesting a special assistance program from the IMF before its full membership has been granted. (Robert Lyle and Keith Bush) KAZAKHSTAN REQUESTS ADMISSION TO UN. TASS reported on January 4 that Kazakhstan has applied for admission to the United Nations. The current chairman of the Security Council, who reported having received the application, was quoted as saying that Kazakhstan's request would be discussed by the Council before the end of January. (Bess Brown) A CAMPAIGN TO DISSOLVE BELARUS PARLIAMENT GAINS MOMENTUM. On January-6, the Popular Front of Belarus began to form a 100-person initiative committee to sponsor a popular referendum on whether to dissolve the country's Communist-dominated Supreme Soviet and hold new parliamentary elections, according to a report on January 7 by RFE/RL's Minsk correspondent Yas Valoshka. Five political parties already have agreed to join the committee. 350,000 signatures will have to be collected in order to support the holding of a referendum. The political future of Supreme Soviet Chairman Stanislau Shushkevich, one of the three architects of the CIS, seems very much to be an open question. (Kathy Mihalisko) CONCERN ABOUT NUCLEAR FUEL IN SOVIET SUBMARINES. Murmansk officials have suspended operations to unload nuclear fuel from decommissioned submarines belonging to the Soviet Northern Fleet. TASS reported on January-5 that the order was issued by Yevgenii Komarov, head of the Murmansk oblast administration. The report stated that the official was forced to take this step because the navy had been conducting ecologically dangerous operations for some time without warning civil authorities or the public. It claimed that "flagrant violations of radiation safety" had been detected at a Northern Fleet submarine overhaul facility. (Doug Clarke) NEW REVELATIONS ON SOVIET SPACE PROGRAM. Former Soviet cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov revealed in an interview with Argumenty i fakty (no. 52, 1991) that in June 1968, the Soviet Union was close to sending a spacecraft to orbit the moon-half a year before the historic US Apollo 8 flight orbited the moon for the first time. Leonov said the Soviet Union was technically capable of sending a spacecraft to orbit the moon, but lacked the finances to conduct a landing on the moon. He added that all Soviet manned moon flights finally were cancelled because of technical problems. Leonov also for the first time revealed details on the Soyuz-1 and Soyuz-11 catastrophes. (Alexander Rahr) STATUS OF TASS CHANGED. The status of TASS is being radically amended and the agency will have to start functioning according to strictly commercial criteria, Western news agencies reported on January 5. At a crucial meeting of Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Gennadii Burbulis and the Russian ministers for information and economics, Mikhail Poltoranin and Egor Gaidar, with TASS staff members it was decided that the agency's future appointments abroad will no longer be based on political or diplomatic but purely journalistic principles. TASS will therefore lose its traditional role as the Kremlin's mouthpiece and will face staff reductions. (Alexander Rahr) RUSSIAN ORTHODOX DIALOGUE WITH ROMAN CATHOLICS TO BE RENEWED. A TASS correspondent in Rome quoted on January 7 an interview by Cardinal Edward Cassidi published in the weekly Sabato. The Cardinal said in this interview that the Russian Orthodox Church has agreed to receive a Vatican delegation to discuss current problems. The meeting is scheduled for the end of February. The Cardinal said in this connection that Pope John Paul II at the end of December sent a letter to Patriarch Aleksii in which he suggested for the second time that the two Churches should again resume a dialogue. (Oxana Antic) NEW RELIGIOUS LESSONS IN AMUR SCHOOLS. TASS reported from Komsomolsk- on-Amur on January 3 that religious lessons will be included in the curricula of a number of schools in the Komsomolsk raion in Russia's Far East. Local priests will teach this new subject. (Oxana Antic) BALTIC STATES ESTONIA CUTS OFF FLOUR FOR "RUSSIAN" TROOPS. The Estonian government has stopped supplying Soviet armed forces stationed in Estonia with flour and cereals, according to ETA of January-7. State Border Defense Authority advisor Udo Helme said that in 1991 Russia failed to send Estonia the 125,000 tons of cereals promised in an earlier trade agreement. Helme said that Estonia, however, had fulfilled its side of the agreement. "In such a situation, where Russia has blocked the supply of cereal to Estonia,-.-.-. we can conclude that in reality, Russia is unwilling to feed its troops," Helme said. The move seems intended not only to compensate for Russia's nondelivery of promised goods, but also to speed along Soviet troop withdrawals. (Riina Kionka) BALTIC COUNCIL CONDEMNS VIOLENCE IN GEORGIA. At its January-5 meeting in Jurmala the Baltic Council issued a strong condemnation of the violence in Georgia. The statement published in Rahva haal on January-7, says the Baltic States "are convinced that no problem can come to a long-term resolution with the aid of weapons." The three Baltic Supreme Council chairmen called on the battling parties "to bring the armed conflict and violence to an immediate end." (Riina Kionka) OFFICIAL SAYS SOVIET NUKES STILL IN ESTONIA. Reports continue to surface that the repatriation to Russia of tactical nuclear weapons of the former Soviet army might not be as well advanced as some have indicated. Estonian Foreign Minister Lennart Meri, speaking to reporters in Helsinki on January-7, said that there are still short-range nuclear weapons on Estonian territory. He was quoted by the Suomen yleis radio network as saying the existence of the weapons had been confirmed by many sources. Meri said that Estonia is ready to propose to Latvia and Lithuania that the three sign a treaty pledging not to acquire nuclear weapons, but the Soviet weapons would have to first be withdrawn. (Doug Clarke) RIGA BUSES RUNNING OUT OF FUEL. Latvia's capital city had only limited bus service on January-7, and buses may stop running altogether on January-8 because of diesel fuel shortages. BNS reports that a similar situation developed in Tallinn last week, but an eleventh-hour delivery of fuel from Russia kept buses there on the road. In a related development an Estonian government official told BNS on January-7 that Estonia now has diesel fuel reserves to last the next 10-days. (Riina Kionka) LITHUANIAN DEFENSE CHIEF IN GERMANY. Lithuania's Defense Minister Audrius Butkevicius began three days of talks in Bonn on January-7, according to Western agencies. Butkevicius reportedly met that day with his German counterpart Gerhard Stoltenberg. The two discussed European security, NATO, and Germany's experience with Soviet troop withdrawals. Butkevicius is scheduled to visit a number of German military facilities before he travels to Brussels on January-9. (Riina Kionka) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE YUGOSLAV AIR FORCE SHOOTS DOWN EC HELICOPTER. Western media reported on January-7 that a MiG of the Serbian-dominated federal military destroyed a plainly marked EC helicopter with rockets and machine-gun fire in clear weather. The one French and four Italian passengers were all killed, but a second helicopter was not hit. Yugoslav federal authorities promised an investigation and suspended the air force commander, a Croat. The BBC said on January-8 that diplomatic circles are outraged but plan to treat the downing as an isolated incident by rogue elements in the military, possibly people with links to Milan Babic and other Serbian nationalists in Croatia. On January-7 the Vienna weekly Profil quoted leading Tito-era dissident Milovan Djilas as saying that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic had lost all control over the military, whose leaders have strong links with Serbian nationalists in Croatia. (Patrick Moore) TURKEY WANTS TO JOIN UN FORCE FOR YUGOSLAVIA. The BBC quoted UN diplomats as saying that the helicopter incident will not affect plans to send 50-UN observers to Yugoslavia soon and a substantially larger force later. On January-7 Western news agencies said that Turkey had joined several other nations in saying that it wants to join the peacekeepers. Turkey has repeatedly expressed concern over the situation of Muslims in Bosnia and Herzegovina and elsewhere in Yugoslavia, and plans to open a consulate in Bosnia's capital Sarajevo, which had belonged to the Ottoman empire until 1878. Turkish diplomats are currently on a fact-finding tour of Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, and Romania, and Ankara may decide on recognizing individual Yugoslav republics after their return. (Patrick Moore) SOLIDARITY CONSIDERS WARNING STRIKE. On January-8 Solidarity Trade Union leaders will discuss whether to declare a one-hour warning strike throughout the Gdansk region. The action, planned for the same day, would be to protest recent increases in energy prices, Western media reported. The union is also preparing for a strike in the mining region of Lower Silesia. The formerly communist Polish Trade Union Federation (OPZZ) has already called a national warning strike on January-16 to protest price hikes introduced on January-1. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) POLISH OMBUDSMAN SAYS DOCTORS' ABORTION BAN ILLEGAL. Ombudsman Ewa Letowska said on January 7 that the decision made at a national medical congress last month to impose a virtual ban on abortion is illegal. The doctors decided to allow abortion only in cases of rape or if pregnancy threatens a mother's life. Under the new code a medical association could ban a doctor performing abortions from practicing. Letowska said, however, that the association had no right to introduce such a code in contravention of existing Polish law, Western media reported. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) MEDIA RESOURCE CENTER SET UP IN POLAND. Training and other programs for print and broadcast journalists in Poland are under way in Warsaw as part of a new media resources center sponsored by Rutgers University. The program aims to provide Polish journalists with professional assistance, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Although the center's facilities are not yet completed, training seminars and workshops have already begun. Journalists and journalism teachers from the US have volunteered to serve as consultants and lecturers at the center. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) WALESA FORGOES CONFLICT OVER ADMIRAL. In a meeting with the new civilian defense minister, Jan Parys, on January-6, President Lech Walesa seems to have defused a potential conflict over the supervision of the armed forces. According to "unofficial sources" quoted by Gazeta wyborcza, the president withdrew his objections to the new government's decision to pension off former defense minister Adm. Piotr Kolodziejczyk. Walesa had previously proposed Kolodziejczyk for the post of inspector general, which pending legislation foresees as Poland's highest military office. Walesa reportedly agreed that the appointment of a civilian minister made changes "inevitable" in the defense ministry, but stressed that "security and defense issues cannot be the object of political infighting." It was agreed, Rzeczpospolita noted, that close cooperation between the defense ministry and the president's security staff is necessary. (Louisa Vinton) POLAND CUTS GENERALS. Rzeczpospolita reported on January-7 that Kolodziejczyk's retirement brings to eighty-one the number of generals on active service in the Polish armed forces. The General Staff predicts that another 20-generals will be removed in 1992 when they reach retirement age. At the beginning of 1988, Rzeczpospolita reports, there were 173-generals in the Polish military. (Louisa Vinton) LOT SELLS SOVIET-MADE AIRCRAFT TO UKRAINE. Poland's national airline LOT has sold 17-Soviet-made planes to a newly established Ukrainian airline, Western media reported. According to a LOT spokesman, the Ukrainians purchased seven long-range Il-62 jets and ten short-range An-24 propeller airliners that are between 7 and 25 years old. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) OECD ON CZECHOSLOVAKIA. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said that Czechoslovakia has made solid steps towards a market economy but prospects for a continued progress in 1992 are uncertain. In a report released on January-7 the OECD said that the upcoming sale of state industries could determine the success of the reforms. The report praised the government's monetary and fiscal policies and said it should be possible to keep inflation within single digits in 1992. Speaking at a press briefing in Paris, however, Czechoslovak Deputy Finance Minister Jan Mladek said he thought the survey was too optimistic about the prospects for inflation and estimated that the rate would actually be in the 15-20% range. (Barbara Kroulik) CZECH MINISTER DENIES LINKS TO SECRET POLICE. Czech Justice Minister Leon Richter on January-7 denied that he had collaborated with the communist secret police, the STB. He told reporters that he had refused a job in nuclear research in 1956 because he would have had to help the STB. He offered to resign as Justice Minister last week, citing as his reasons overwork, poor health, and criticism of his work. (Barbara Kroulik) AIR FRANCE TO LINK WITH CZECHOSLOVAK AIRLINES. Air France, the state owned French airline, and other investors plan to buy 40% of CSA-Czechoslovak Airlines. Air France said on January that the Czechoslovak government will retain 60% of the carrier. Air France estimates CSA's total value at about $150 million. Air France Chairman Bernard Attali said that a memorandum of understanding has been signed, pending approval by Czechoslovak and French authorities, Western agencies report. (Barbara Kroulik) ILLEGAL EXPORT OF ANTIQUES FROM CZECHOSLOVAKIA SOARING. Czech Culture Ministry official Tomas Klepek says Czechoslovakia last year lost $36 million worth of antiques as result of theft and illegal trade. Rude pravo reported on January-7 that about sixteen times more Gothic and baroque antiques were exported than in 1989. Klepek said the increase in theft has been brought about by the opening of the borders. Last year authorities imposed stricter export regulations for antiques and art objects. Klepek said state spending to prevent art thefts is being increased. (Barbara Kroulik) HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES COOPERATIVES LAW. On January-7 the Hungarian parliament approved a law allowing for the privatization of cooperative property in agriculture, industry, and services. The law establishes procedures for transforming cooperatives into companies, and determines how cooperative property can be divided or recombined in accordance with members' decisions. It also opens the way for the purchase of cooperative land by individuals whose land was confiscated by the communists. There are presently some 3,000 cooperatives in Hungary, most of them in agriculture and industry. (Edith Oltay) FIRST ROMANIAN CENSUS SINCE 1977. A national census began on January-7, the first in a quarter-century. Prime Minister Theodor Stolojan said he hopes the population will fully back the operation, which will last until January-14. He added that the census will be used only for statistical purposes: personal information will be held strictly confidential and protected by law. The census will cost more than one billion lei. Some 550-tons of paper have been used to print 15-million forms including 72-questions. Some 16,000 census-takers have been trained to perform inquiries in the Bucharest area alone. Vasile Ghetau, Director-General of the National Statistics Board, said that preliminary results will be available in May. (Mihai Sturdza) KEEN INTEREST AMONG MINORITIES. Manipulation of statistics by the former communist regime has prompted leaders of minority groups to insist upon receiving accurate census data, local media report. The heads of the religious denominations within the Hungarian minority have instructed their congregations to describe themselves clearly as "Magyars" and not use other terms such as "Hungarians" or "Szeklers" that might cause confusion. The General Association of Romanians of Uniate Greek Catholic Faith told its members "to courageously state their persuasion." The Democratic Union of the Romas [Gypsies] of Romania urged local leaders, elders, and other influential people to cooperate with the census takers. (Mihai Sturdza) STRIKE CALLED IN BULGARIA. The Confederation of Independent Unions (the former official trade union umbrella organization during the communist era) called a strike for January-8, according to BTA. Demokratsiya reports that some 180,000 strikers from among the more than 750,000 members of the confederation are expected on the picket lines. The objective of the strike, announced only on the evening of January-7, is to induce the new government quickly to begin discussions on minimum wages, social welfare, pensions, and development of a concrete program for fighting unemployment. Bulgaria's other major labor organization, Podkrepa, does not support this strike; its leaders, in fact, have said they view it as a potential danger to social order. (Duncan M. Perry) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Sallie Wise Chaballier & Charles Trumbull
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