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No. 8, 14 January 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO USSR RUMOURS ON YELTSIN'S RESIGNATION. Ruslan Khasbulatov, chairman of the Russian parliament, urged Russian President Boris Yeltsin to replace his government, according to TASS on January 13. He stressed that if Yeltsin fails to do so, the parliament will change the Russian government by "constitutional means." Interfax reported on the same day that Yeltsin will quit the post of prime minister to concentrate entirely on political questions of the CIS. The report said that the post of prime minister will go to Vice-President Aleksandr Rutskoi, the mayor of St. Petersburg, Anatolii Sobchak, or eye surgeon Svyatoslav Fedorov. Yeltsin's spokesman, Pavel Voshchanov, subsequently denied that report. (Alexander Rahr) GAIDAR DEFENDS GOVERNMENT. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Egor Gaidar rejected Khasbulatov's criticism of the government in an interview with "Vesti" on January 13. He stressed that the government has no intention of resigning. He defended the decision of the government to sharply reduce military spending, raise taxes, and liberalize prices. Gaidar added that it would be better to spend money on social needs for employees of the military-industrial complex than to continue to pump money into unnecessary defense programs. Russian First Deputy Prime Minister, Gennadii Burbulis, called the parliament led by Khasbulatov a "bailiwick of the totalitarian system," Novosti reported on January 14. (Alexander Rahr) YELTSIN TO MEET COMMANDERS BEFORE ASSEMBLY. Boris Yeltsin will meet with military district commanders on January 16, the day before a scheduled "officers assembly," Interfax reported on January 13. Quoting "well informed military sources," the report suggested that the meeting was meant to address the concerns of commanders upset by the potential collapse of the army. Interfax also reported on January 13 that the January 17 assembly will be attended by some 5,000 officers. It quoted a deputy chairman of the armed forces personnel committee, who said that the officers would present no ultimatums to CIS political leaders. Press reports recently have suggested that the assembly could turn into a dangerous forum for disgruntled officers. (Stephen Foye) KRAVCHUK ON CIS. In an interview published on January 14 in The New York Times, Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk denied charges that he is trying to undermine the Commonwealth but insisted that the CIS is not a state and that it is "natural" that some states will protest if their sovereignty is "diluted." He said while his country should have a policy of not arguing with Russia, Ukraine must not abandon its interests. (Kathy Mihalisko) . . . ON UKRAINIAN-RUSSIAN RELATIONS. Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk said yesterday that political and military disagreements with Russia were in the process of being smoothed out, The New York Times reported on January 14. Kravchuk also noted that he intended to replace some cabinet members with younger faces who favor a quick transition to a market economy and to name an advisory group to speed up this process. Ukrainian-Russian differences were not fully resolved, he argued, but the process was underway. (Roman Solchanyk) FLEET TALKS LAUNCHED. A delegation of Ukrainian military experts arrived in Moscow for talks on dividing up the Black Sea Fleet, Western news agencies reported on January 14. The talks are a follow-up to the agreement reached by Ukraine and the Russian Federation on January 11, and will undoubtedly focus on defining what portion of the fleet is to be considered "strategic" and remain under the CIS central military command. The remainder will apparently be given to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry. (Stephen Foye) UKRAINE FOOTING THE MILITARY BILL. Ukrainian Defense Minister Konstantin Morozov told the January 13 press conference in Kiev that sailors who refuse to pledge allegiance to Ukraine will be transferred to strategic forces under unified CIS command (approximately 30% of Black Sea personnel consists of ethnic Ukrainians). In addition, he provided partial confirmation of a report received on January 11 by the RFE/RL Ukrainian service to the effect that the republic has started to finance Ukraine-based military units, including the Black Sea Fleet, out of its own budget, although Morozov refused to give any figures. The RFE/RL report said that the Ukrainian national bank had blocked the transfer of rubles from the Defense Ministry in Moscow to units in Ukraine. (Kathy Mihalisko) REPUBLICS WANT TO DIVIDE UP CASPIAN FLOTILLA. With the debate over the future of the Black Sea Fleet still not completely resolved, several republics have indicated they want a part of the former Soviet Caspian Sea Flotilla. This force is made up of some 85 vessels, of which the largest are 4 frigates. Azerbaijani Defense Minister Tadzheddin Mekhtiev was quoted by Interfax on January 13 as saying that the four republics that border on the Caspian Sea-Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan-each had a right to claim a share of the fleet. Western agencies quoted Alexander Bogdanov, a member of the Turkmen Presidential Council, as saying his republic intended to ask for control of part of the fleet, including the naval base at Krasnovodsk. (Doug Clarke) NAZARBAEV SUPPORTS UNIFIED MILITARY. President Nursultan Nazarbaev said on January-13 that he continues to favor retention of a unified commonwealth military structure and criticized Ukraine for seeking to split the armed forces, TASS reported. His remarks came on the eve of a visit to Kazakhstan by CIS Commander in Chief Evgenii Shaposhnikov. Interfax reported on January 13 that Shaposhnikov hoped also to discuss social and legal guarantees for former Soviet servicemen in Kazakhstan. (Stephen Foye) BELARUS CUTS DEFENSE SPENDING. Belarus Defense Affairs Minister Petr Chaus on January-13 told Russian TV that his republic has diverted about 30% of funds intended for arms procurement to housing construction instead. He also said that troop strength in Belarus will be cut for the purpose of cost reduction. Belarus on January 11 asserted its authority over general purpose forces on its territory. There are indications that the current commander of the former Soviet Belarus Military District, Anatolii Kostenko, will be tapped to head the republic's new Defense Ministry. (Kathy Mihalisko) BURBULIS CRITICIZES UKRAINIAN COUPONS. Speaking to TASS on January 13, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Gennadii Burbulis criticized Ukraine for introducing special coupons as a parallel currency. He complained that the coupons could provoke an influx of rubles into the Russian economy, thereby triggering higher inflation and other "serious consequences." The coupons went into circulation last week and will be used in tandem with the ruble until the introduction of the Ukrainian currency, the hryvnia, sometime later this year. The coupons look like small banknotes and may in fact be the prototype design of the hryvnia. (Kathy Mihalisko) RUSSIA INTRODUCES SEVERE PENALTIES FOR VIOLATIONS OF FEDERAL LAW. Boris Yeltsin has presented to the Russian Federation Supreme Soviet a legal package, which calls for stiff penalties against those violating executive directives, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai told Russian Television on January-13. The new Article 200(1) of the Russian Federation Criminal Code envisions 3 to 7 year prison terms and 5- year suspensions from state office for officials who intentionally break the law. Article 166(2) of the Administrative Code envisions a fine of up to 16,000 rubles, dismissal from office, and confiscation of profits for business activities which violate federal law. Finally, a separate law gives Yeltsin the right to dismiss an administrator or to disband a government organization for non-execution of his orders. (Victor Yasmann) ST. PETERSBURG TAXI DRIVERS PROTEST. More than 200 taxis disrupted traffic outside the St. Petersburg City Council building on January-13. The drivers were protesting the more than ten-fold increase in tariffs since prices were deregulated on January 2, TASS reported. The drivers argued that the majority of potential passengers have been scared away by this "abrupt and excessive" increase. Russian television also reported that the taxi drivers intend to block approaches to the city hall on January 15 when Russian President Boris Yeltsin is scheduled to visit St. Petersburg. (Carla Thorson) STRIKING VORKUTA MINERS RETURN TO WORK. The Vorkuta miners in Northern Russia returned to work on January 13, ending a four-day strike, TASS reported. The miners agreed to return to work after mine managers agreed to wage increases, some portion of which will be paid in food products. The miners began the strike on January 9 to protest price increases. (Carla Thorson) ANTISEMITIC PUBLISHER IN BELARUS MAY FACE TRIAL. In an unprecedented development, the Procurator of Belarus has instituted a criminal case against the chief editor of Slavyanskie vedomosti, an openly anti-Semitic newspaper, for violation of the law against incitement of ethnic hatred. The State Committee for the Press has also been asked to consider ordering the newspaper to cease publication. Several months ago, parliamentary opposition deputies charged that Slavyankie vedomosti and two other publications may have been responsible for recent criminal acts against Jews. (Kathy Mihalisko) PRIME MINISTER CHOSEN IN UZBEKISTAN. UzTAG-TASS reported on January 13 that Uzbekistan's Supreme Soviet chose 44 year-old Abdulkhashim Mutalov to fill the newly-created post of prime minister. The report gave no further information about Mutalov. (Bess Brown) UZBEKISTAN TAKES CONTROL OF MVD TROOPS. UzTAG-TASS reported on January 13 that Uzbek president Islam Karimov has issued a decree placing units of the former USSR MVD troops stationed in Uzbekistan under the jurisdiction of the republic. They are to form the basis for creation of Uzbekistan's own internal affairs troops. (Bess Brown) DEMONSTRATIONS CONTINUE IN TASHKENT. Radio Rossii reported on January 12 that demonstrations against the former head of the Muslim Religious Board of Central Asia, who resigned last week, were continuing in Tashkent. Mufti Muhammad-Sadyk Muhammad-Yusuf was accused of corruption in 1991; demonstrators are reportedly saying that he helped himself to large sums from believers' offerings. He is also being accused of having cooperated with the KGB. According to the report, neither law enforcement agencies nor the authorities attempted to interfere with the demonstrations. (Bess Brown) UZBEKISTAN, KYRGYZSTAN APPLY FOR UN MEMBERSHIP. According to TASS reports of January 10, both Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan have submitted requests to the UN Secretary-General to be admitted to the organization. Uzbekistan also offered to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. After Uzbekistan's Supreme Soviet adopted the republic's declaration of independence last year, Ukraine was asked to look after Uzbekistan's interests at the UN until the latter was admitted to the world body. (Bess Brown) MOLDOVA'S TREATMENT OF ETHNIC MINORITIES PRAISED BY HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER. On the eve of an official visit to Moldova, Hungarian Foreign Minister Geza Jeszenszky told Radio Free Europe in an interview aired on January 13 that Moldova fully observes the rights of ethnic minorities in accordance with international standards. Describing Moldova's policy as "exemplary," Jeszenszky also expressed the hope that Romania might emulate this model in the future. Terming Moldova "a Romanian state," Jeszenszky added that Hungary's objective of establishing good relations with the Romanian people stands a higher chance of early fulfillment with Moldova than with Romania. (Vladimir Socor) DNIESTER SITUATION. In three separate incidents on the night of January 12 to 13, joint patrols of "Dniester republic" guardsmen and uniformed Army soldiers shot at Moldovan police cars and posts near Dubasari, injuring two Moldovan police officers and three civilian bystanders. The police as usual did not return fire in order to avoid bloodshed, Moldova's Ministry of Internal Affairs told TASS on January 13. The "Dniester" authorities acknowledged the facts to TASS but blamed the Moldovan side for provoking the "Dniester" guard into shooting. (Vladimir Socor) BALTIC STATES ESTONIAN GOVERNMENT CRISIS HEATS UP. On January-13 the Estonian government upped the ante in the escalating government crisis by vowing to step down if the Supreme Council rejects its proposed economic state of emergency. That statement, relayed to RFE/RL by the Estonian Foreign Ministry that day, in effect makes the issue a vote of confidence in the Savisaar government. The Supreme Council Presidium added the government proposal to the agenda on January-13, and the proposal is currently in committee. The Supreme Council is expected to vote on the proposed state of emergency on January-14 or 15. On January-12, Estonian Prime Minister Savisaar proposed that the Supreme Council declare an economic state of emergency until the new currency is introduced and to grant the government extraordinary powers for the duration. (Riina Kionka) COMMEMORATIONS OF JANUARY VICTIMS. Lithuania commemorated the first anniversary of the brutal attack by Soviet troops on the Vilnius television tower. Chairman of the Lithuanian Supreme Council Vytautas Landsbergis spoke at a special session of parliament on January-12 after the showing of a 15-minute videotape of the attack. Speaking from the balcony of the still-barricaded parliament building at 2:00-a.m. January-13, he noted that the path to independence is still not fully open and Soviet troops still remain in the republic. The high point of the commemorations on January-13, a national holiday, was a requiem Mass in Vilnius Cathedral celebrated by Lithuania's bishops and broadcast live by Radio Lithuania. (Saulius Girnius) SOVIET MANEUVERS IN LATVIA CALLED OFF. Col. Gen. Valerii Mironov, commander of the Northwestern Group of Forces, told Latvian Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis on January-13 that the maneuvers planned for January-14 in Latvia had been cancelled, reported Radio Riga that day; the military activities would be limited to the territory of the bases and that forces loyal to Latvia would monitor Soviet military activities throughout Latvia. The cancellation was prompted by the protest statements issued by Latvian Council of Ministers, presidium of the Supreme Council, the board of the People's Front of Latvia, and the picket staged in front of the Northwestern Group's military headquarters in Riga by Latvia's National Independence Movement earlier that day. (Dzintra Bungs) NO PROGRESS ON DEFINING STATUS OF SOVIET MILITARY IN LATVIA. Latvia's Minister of State Janis Dinevics told Diena of January-13 that during his most recent visit to Moscow that no Russian official was willing to discuss with him the status of the Soviet forces in Latvia. Dinevics also noted that Russia had still not formed a commission to discuss with Latvia the economic aspects of Latvian takeover of property heretofore occupied by the Soviet military. At a meeting in Moscow on January-6, the Russian authorities had indicated that such a commission would be formed promptly. They also indicated to Prime Minister Godmanis that Soviet troop departure might take place only in five to seven years. (Dzintra Bungs) BALTICS SEEK UNDP AID STATUS. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have requested the status of aid-recipients from the UN Development Program (UNDP), the largest technical-aid agency in international development, an RFE/RL correspondent in New York reported on January-13. The UNDP Governing Council will review the request when it meets in New York next month. Granting of aid-recipient status would help the states in their transition from a command to a free market economy. (Saulius Girnius) ESTONIAN WATER RUNS COLD. Thousands of Estonian homes were without hot water starting January-13 as a result of nondelivery of promised energy supplies from Russia. According to Western agencies, quoting Baltfax, hot water was only available in hospitals, orphanages, and retirement homes. Estonia has received no gasoline or diesel fuel from Russia since the beginning of the year and only 12,000 tons of heating fuel. According to Baltfax, homes in all Baltic States were likely to lose their central heating soon. (Riina Kionka) LATVIAN TRANSPORT MINISTER DIES. Radio Riga reported on January-13 that Janis Janovskis, Latvia's Minister of Transport, died on January-11 of injuries suffered when his chauffeur-driven car hit an oncoming bus. (Dzintra Bungs) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE SOLIDARITY STAGES WARNING STRIKES. According to PAP and Western agencies some 80% of Solidarity Trade Union branches staged a one-hour national warning strike on January-13, protesting against energy price increases. Government spokesman Marcin Gugulski told PAP that "the government is treating the warning strike as protest against economic and social policies of the past" and announced that union-government talks will take place soon. Solidarity Chairman Marian Krzaklewski insists, however, that the increases be rescinded as a precondition for negotiations. Lech Walesa's spokesman Andrzej Drzycimski said "the President is of the opinion that the current strikes-.-.-. should be creative, lead to improvement in the situ-ation, and give the government a chance to prepare a new economic program." (Roman Stefanowski) POLISH-LITHUANIAN DECLARATION SIGNED. In Vilnius Foreign Ministers Krzysztof Skubiszewski and Algirdas Saudargas signed a wide-ranging 10-point declaration of friendship and neighborly relations as well as a consular convention, Polish and Western media reported on January-13. The signing had been delayed because of the dispute regarding the minority rights of Poles in Lithuania. (Roman Stefanowski) UNEMPLOYMENT WORSENS IN POLAND-.-.-. Unemployment has hit a new high, reaching 2,155,600 by the end of 1991, Western and Polish media report. According to a report issued on December-10 by the Central Office of Statistics (GUS), the figure is more than double the number unemployed a year earlier. The highest current unemployment rate-over 18%-was in the rural northeast. Urban areas and industrial regions have not been as hard hit. In Warsaw the jobless rate was 4.2%, in Poznan 5.5% and in Krakow 6.6%. The government Planning Office said that as many as 3.5 million people, or about 18% of the total work force, could be out of work by the end of this year. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) .-.-.-AND HUNGARY. According to preliminary figures just released by the Hungarian Ministry of Labor, the number of unemployed in Hungary as of December 1991 was over 400,000, up from 80,000 at the end of 1990, MTI reported. This five-fold increase within a year brings the rate of unemployment to 8.3%. Particularly affected are Szabolcs, Nograd, and Borsod counties in the northeast, where the unemployment rate ranges from 13.8% to 16.3%. The Ministry of Labor had originally estimated the number of unemployed for 1991 at 200,000 to 250,000, and had forecast 530,000 to 580,000 for 1992. Labor Ministry officials,-however, now say that unemployment may reach 700,000 in 1992 due to plant closures and other measures aimed at establishing a market economy. (Edith Oltay) HUNGARIAN EXODUS FROM TRANS-CARPATHIA. In a note sent to the Hungarian and Ukrainian governments on January-9, the Presidium of the Hungarian Cultural Association of Subcarpathia (HCAS) reported that since 1979, the number of Magyars in that western Ukrainian oblast (some 156,000) dropped by 3,000, with 800 leaving last year alone. The reasons given for the exodus, MTI reports, were the very bad economic situation, serious border crossing difficulties, and the growth of Ukrainian nationalist and anti-Magyar sentiments following the December-1, 1991 referendum asking for autonomy status for Transcarpathia. (Alfred Reisch) BONN: CZECHOSLOVAK-GERMAN TREATY WON'T BE CHANGED. The German government says that the text of the Czechoslovak-German friendship treaty will not be changed. The accord, initialled in October, has not yet been signed. The Christian Social Union, part of Chancellor Helmut Kohl's coalition government, demanded changes last week, saying that before the signing, Prague should stop auctioning property belonging to Germans expatriated after World War-II. Czechoslovakia also rejected the demand for changes. Presidential spokesman Michael Zantovsky said in Prague that there is no reason to modify or delay the treaty and praised Kohl's stand on the treaty issue, Western agencies report. (Barbara Kroulik) IMF APPROVES CZECHOSLOVAK LOAN. The International Monetary Fund approved a loan to Czechoslovakia of about $147 million to help cover unexpectedly high oil imports costs. It is the third time that Czechoslovakia has drawn on the Fund's special provision for oil imports in the past 12-months. The oil loans were granted in addition to a standby arrangement Czechoslovakia has with the IMF to help finance economic reforms. Czechoslovakia has borrowed a total of about $1.458 billion from the IMF during the past year, an RFE/RL correspondent reports. (Barbara Kroulik) COUNCIL OF EUROPE DELEGATION IN BUCHAREST. The 25-member Commission for Parliamentary and Public Relations of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly arrived in Bucharest. It will meet with government members and minority deputies in parliament and report back to the assembly in Strasbourg about Romania's application for full membership in the European Community. Romania has been eligible to join the council's activities in education, culture, and sports since December 19, 1991, when it signed the European Cultural Convention. (Mihai Sturdza) GOVERNMENT TALKS WITH TRADE UNIONS. The government and the National Advisory Council of the Trade Unions (NACTU) are continuing minimum wage talks. Industry Minister Dan Constantinescu said on January-11 that demands to raise the present average monthly wage from 7,000 to almost 24,000 lei, would jeopardize price policy. On January-13 while NACTU and government agreed to create a national commission for the indexing of wages, other non-NACTU unions were threatening a general strike, local media said. (Mihai Sturdza) FIRST COMMENTS ON BULGARIAN ELECTIONS. President Zhelyu Zhelev, who failed to win the absolute majority, was quoted by BTA as saying that the question "communism or democracy" has not yet been solved. He expressed confidence that he would win the second ballot on January-19 and emphasized that it is important for the Bulgarian president to have wide popular support. In a statement to BTA Zhelev invited his opponent Velko Valkanov to a TV debate on January-17. BTA commentator Panayot Denev said the surprise success of the third candidate, George Ganchev, was due to people who abhor communism but are suspicious of anyone in power. Blagovest Sendov, who finished fourth with about 2% of the vote, said the main objective-to stop Zhelev in the first round-had been achieved. (Rada Nikolaev) YUGOSLAV UPDATE. Western and Yugoslav media on January-13 reported no major violations of the cease-fire. In Vienna the 50-UN liaison officers taken from contingents around the world prepared to leave for Yugoslavia on January-14. Their Australian commander told them to "be firm, fair, and friendly." The Vatican formally recognized Croatia and Slovenia. Yugoslavia protested and fired its own ambassador to the Holy See, who will now represent Croatia there. Pope John Paul-II has frequently spoken out for an end to the fighting in Yugoslavia, and Vatican recognition has special symbolic importance for the two predominantly Roman Catholic republics. Estonia recognized the independence of Croatia on January-13, according to ETA (Estonia recognized Slovenia last September). Finally, an RFE/RL correspondent at the UN reports that Bulgaria said in a note to the UN Security Council that any delay in extending recognition to the Republic of Macedonia would work against stability in the Balkans. (Patrick Moore) MACEDONIAN ALBANIAN VOTE ON AUTONOMY. Reports in the Yugoslav media are conflicting regarding the results of last weekend's two-day referendum on autonomy by Macedonia's Albanian minority. On January-12 Radio Skopje claimed that in several predominantly Albanian towns, most Albanians stayed away from the polls. The report also said that ethnic Turks and Muslims, who were encouraged to take part in the balloting, had boycott the referendum. Radio Croatia reported low turnouts in several towns, but quoted referendum organizers as saying that more than three-quarters of the ballots cast favor cultural and political autonomy with eventual union with the neighboring province of Kosovo with its 90% Albanian population. The Macedonian republican government says the referendum is illegal. The 1991 census shows that 21% of Macedonia's population is Albanian, 5% Turkish, and 3% Muslim. (Milan Andrejevich) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Carla Thorson & Charles-Trumbull
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