|Words that open our eyes to the world are always the easiest to remember. - Ryszard Kapuscinski|
No. 9, 15 January 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO USSR CIS LEADERS TO MEET JANUARY 16? Belarus leader Stanislav Shushkevich told Interfax on January 14 that the presidents of the CIS states wanted to hold an extraordinary meeting in Moscow on January 16. Shushkevich said he was not sure which leaders would attend, but Yeltsin would be there, and most probably also Kravchuk, albeit a bit late. (Ann Sheehy) RUSSIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT ANNULS KGB/MVD MERGER. In the first major decision since its judges were appointed last October, the Russian Constitutional Court unanimously voted to annul Russian President Boris Yeltsin's decree merging the KGB and MVD at an open hearing on January 14. TASS reported that the court's ruling found Yeltsin's decree contrary to the Russian constitution's provisions concerning "the separation of executive, legislative, and judicial powers." The court reached its decision after listening to six hours of arguments. Sergei Shakhrai, Russian Deputy Prime Minister in charge of legal affairs, commented that, in his opinion, the court's verdict "is not a decision of law, but a political decision," according to TASS and Radio Mayak of January 14. (Carla Thorson) COUP PLOTTERS TO BE BROUGHT TO TRIAL. On January 14, after over four months of investigation, the Russian Prosecutor's office announced formal charges against the alleged leaders of the failed August coup attempt, TASS reported. Russian Deputy Prosecutor General Evgenii Lisov said that the people under investigation were accused "not of betraying the motherland, but of conspiring to seize power." Lisov also noted that former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev could be called as a witness in the case, but the investigation revealed no evidence of his possible involvement in the coup. (Carla Thorson) GEORGIA TO PROSECUTE GAMSAKHURDIA? Acting Georgian Prime Minister Tengiz Sigua told a news conference in Tbilisi on January 14 that enough evidence had been collected to demand the extradition of ousted President Zviad Gamsakhurdia from Armenia, where he was granted temporary asylum on January 11, TASS reported on January-14. Acting Prosecutor Vakhtang Razmadze listed the charges against Gamsakhurdia as "large-scale robbery of state goods, incitement to inter-ethnic confrontation, abuse of power, destruction of cultural and architectural riches, and organization of genocide in South Ossetia." Novosti quoted the Inform-Ekspress news agency on January 14 as reporting that an official loyal to Gamsakhurdia had arrived in Paris to request asylum in France for Gamsakhurdia through the mediation of the Georgian emigre community there. (Liz Fuller) LACK SEA FLEET CONTROVERSIES. Ukrainian military experts, meeting in Moscow on January 14 with their Russian counterparts, argued that most of the fleet can be classified as non-strategic and should go to Ukraine, Interfax reported. Meanwhile, Rossiiskaya gazeta published an open appeal to Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk on January-15 in which four top-ranking military leaders, including two admirals, criticized Kiev's intent to take over the fleet. The authors alluded to what they called the Crimea's historical Russian past and said that naval officers would consider exercising their "right" to refuse illegal orders by failing to respond to those issued by Kiev. Finally, TASS interviewed a deputy Commander in Chief of the Navy on January 14, who said that Ukraine would be unable to maintain the fleet. (Stephen Foye) KRAVCHUK WARNS RUSSIA. Meanwhile, Kravchuk on January 14 issued a sharp warning to Russia and its leadership to stop interfering in Ukrainian internal affairs. The warning came in a television and radio address to the nation that focused on economic and military matters. Kravchuk told viewers that certain Russian leaders feel free to engage in insulting behavior. Russian imperial interests, he said, have reached the point of disrespect towards another state. "I want to stress," said Kravchuk, "that independent Ukraine will not permit anyone to dictate conditions of any kind." The Ukrainian president referred specifically to a recent interview in Trud with Russian Minister for the Press and Mass Information Mikhail Poltaranin. (Roman Solchanyk) NAZARBAEV, SHAPOSHNIKOV ON DEFENSE. Following a meeting with CIS Commander in Chief Evgenii Shaposhnikov on January 14 in Alma-Ata, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev repeated his call for a unified army. According to reports by Novosti and KAZTAG, he also said he had received assurances that Kazakh conscripts serving outside the republic could return home if forced to swear an oath of allegiance to another republic. Shaposhnikov expressed satisfaction with the talks, and contrasted Kazakh policies favorably with those undertaken by Ukraine. On January 13 Nazarbaev met with leaders of Kazakhstan's defense industries to address their concerns over falling government orders and other economic problems that they face, KAZTAG reported the next day. (Stephen Foye) SOVIET NAVY PULLS BACK. British Defense Secretary Tom King told Parliament on January 14 that warships of the former Soviet Navy have withdrawn entirely from the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean for the first time since records began being kept in 1960, Western agencies reported. (Stephen Foye) RUMYANTSEV ON TATARSTAN, RELATIONS WITH AUTONOMIES. Oleg Rumyantsev, secretary of the Russian Supreme Soviet's Constitutional Commission, told a press conference in Moscow on January 14, that Tatarstan was determined to achieve state independence, TASS and Radio Mayak reported on January 14. Rumyantsev, who had just returned from a visit to Kazan, said that a draft law on Tatarstan citizenship has been prepared, and a law on a referendum approved under which it would be necessary for only 26% of the electorate to vote in favor of independence for the motion to be carried. Rumyantsev warned of the danger of the Russian Federation disintegrating, and said that a draft document delimiting the powers of the federal authorities and the republics, krais, and oblasts represented the last chance of holding Russia together. The document has already been criticized by several of the constituent republics. (Ann Sheehy) RUMYANTSEV ON UKRAINE. Rumyantsev told the same press conference that his recent visit to Ukraine convinced him that Ukraine was not interested in strengthening the CIS. The strategic aim of its leadership was rapid entry into the European Community. In fact, the Ukrainian leadership has made no secret of the fact that this is its aim. (Ann Sheehy) BURBULIS DENIES IMMINENT MONETARY REFORM. In an interview with Central Television's Novosti January 14, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Gennadii Burbulis denied rumors that the government would carry out a monetary reform "in the near future." Monetary reforms are a common prescription for economies with runaway inflation. Rumors have been circulating in Moscow that a monetary reform would be implemented January-16. Burbulis said that there was no danger of a monetary reform for at least one month and perhaps longer, depending on the situation at the time. In the meantime, Russia is coming out with a system of checkbooks, apparently similar to Eurocheques, sometime in the next two weeks. (John Tedstrom) DEMOCRATIC RUSSIA SUPPORTS YELTSIN. The co-leader of the "Democratic Russia" Movement, Vladimir Bokser, told TASS on January 14 that the Movement has set up committees for Russian reform in regions and cities of Russia, based on the Movement's local organizations, to support Yeltsin's reform program. Bokser criticized the Kadet Party, which left the Yeltsin camp. The Kadets will join the Christian-Democrats and Nikolai Travkin's Democratic Party of Russia in forming a center-right movement as an opposition to Yeltsin's government. That movement will be founded at a forthcoming congress of "civic and patriotic forces" at the beginning of February. (Alexander Rahr) GORBACHEV UPDATE. Colonel Viktor Alksnis, former leader of the conservative parliamentary faction Soyuz, has accused former Gorbachev of having sanctioned KGB surveillance of leaders of all political parties, including Yeltsin. Alksnis told Sovetskaya Rossiya on January 14 that the information gathered had been kept in eight safes in the offices of Gorbachev's presidential apparatus. (See Daily Report of January 8 for similar allegations.) The Russian Deputy Prosecutor General, Evgenii Lisov, has denied recent reports that Gorbachev is restricted to the Moscow area (see Daily Report, January 13). He told Radio Rossii the same day that if Gorbachev wants to give lectures in the US, nobody will stop him. Gorbachev is reported to be working on a new book on the collapse of the USSR. (Alexander Rahr) GORBACHEV STARTS NEW JOB. After three weeks off following his resignation as USSR President, Gorbachev yesterday started his new job as head of the Foundation for Social-Political Research, which also carries his name, TASS reported on January-14. The foundation will be registered in the near future and Gorbachev plans to use the new think tank to continue his involvement in domestic and international politics. Former US President Ronald Reagan, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger reportedly have agreed to participate in the foundation's work. (Alexander Rahr) SOUTH OSSETIA TO HOLD REFERENDUM ON INDEPENDENCE. A session of the South Ossetian Supreme Soviet has voted to hold a referendum on January 19 on whether South Ossetia should be independent and "be reunited with Russia," Radio Mayak reported on January 14. A Georgian delegation left for the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali on January 14 for talks on a settlement of the two-year old crisis, according to Western news agency reports of January 14. (Liz Fuller) UZBEK SUPREME SOVIET PASSES LAW ON UZBEKS ABROAD. RFE/RL has learned that Uzbekistan's Supreme Soviet passed a law on January 14 permitting Uzbeks who are citizens of foreign countries to apply for Uzbek citizenship while retaining their foreign citizenship. Uzbeks living abroad are granted the same benefits enjoyed by citizens of Uzbekistan, including the right to enter the country without a visa, to buy property, and to enroll their children in educational institutions. (Yakub Turan and Timur Kocaoglu) STRIKES SPREAD IN KAZAKHSTAN. Radio Mayak reported on January 14 that Kazakhstan's Prime Minister Sergei Tereshchenko has gone to Karaganda Oblast to meet with striking coal miners. One mine has been struck since prices were liberalized at the beginning of the month; it has since been joined by nine others, and the losses to the Kazakh economy are considerable. The Mayak report said that Tereshchenko had promised the miners that the government would join them in seeking solutions to the problems caused by marketization, but did not indicate the miners' response. (Bess Brown) IRAN OPENS EMBASSY IN TAJIKISTAN. Radio Rossii reported on January 14 that Iran has opened an embassy in Dushanbe. It is the first foreign country to do so. The street on which the embassy is located has been renamed Teheran Street (formerly it was Gorkii Street). (Bess Brown) SNEGUR CABLES YELTSIN OVER INCIDENT AT MOSCOW MISSION. Moldovan President Mircea Snegur cabled Yeltsin on January 13 to complain about the "violation of diplomatic immunity" of Moldova's representation in Moscow on January-12. During the demonstration held on Manezh square that day by Russian ultranationalist and communist groups, several hundred demonstrators forced open the gate of Moldova's mission located nearby and over-ran the courtyard, chanting slogans in favor of the "Dniester republic." Snegur told Yeltsin in the cable that the incident had been organized "by adversaries of the Alma-Ata accords" to damage relations between Moldova and Russia, and that Moldova would continue to promote those relations. (Vladimir Socor) UKRAINIAN-SWEDISH RELATIONS. The Swedish foreign minister arrived in Kiev January 13 and held talks with Ukrainian President Kravchuk and Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Anatolii Zlenko, Radio Kiev and TASS reported on January 13. The two sides intend to sign a package of agreements. On the same day, Ukraine and Sweden signed an agreement to establish diplomatic relations between the two countries. (Roman Solchanyk) NEW INSTITUTE FOR BUDDHISM. TASS reported on January 9 that an Institute for the Study of Buddhism opened that day in Moscow. One of the main goals of the Institute is the study, commentary, and translation into Russian of Chinese and Buddhist texts. (Oxana Antic) BALTIC STATES ESTONIAN GOVERNMENT SET TO FALL? In a January-13 speech to the Supreme Council, Prime Minister Edgar Savisaar said Estonia has enough meat to last five more days and enough gasoline for two weeks, according to BNS that day. The speech came the day after Savisaar asked the Supreme Council to grant his government special powers during an economic state of emergency. Savisaar has threatened to step down along with his cabinet if the proposal is not passed. The Supreme Council will vote on that proposal today (January-15) or tomorrow. (Riina Kionka) VAGNORIUS ADDRESSES PARLIAMENT. On January-14 Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius discussed the country's economy in a speech to the Lithuanian parliament broadcast live by Radio Lithuania. He noted that economic reforms are being carried out at a faster pace and in a more organized legal manner than in other former communist regimes but that the greatest obstacles are the need to add more guarantees to the law on foreign investments and the backwardness of Lithuania's banking system. If the pace of 1991 can be maintained, the plan for privatizing two-thirds of Lithuania's economy by the end of the year should be completed successfully. (Saulius Girnius) LITHUANIAN SUPREME COUNCIL SESSION. The session also amended the law "On Citizens' Rights to Remaining Property" to allow the children of former property owners to inherit their rights to the property, Radio Lithuania reported on January-15. The amendments, in effect, allow the grandchildren of the original property owners to make claims for the restoration of the property. Such claims, however, have to be filed by January-31, 1992. Deputy Aurimas Taurantas also announced the formation of another faction in the parliament, the National Progress Faction. (Saulius Girnius) NEW PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSION CHAIR-MEN IN LATVIA. On January-14, after debating heatedly the work of its Foreign Relations Commission, the Latvian Supreme Council elected Indulis Berzins as the new chairman of that commission, Radio Riga reported. He was endorsed by 85 of the 134-deputies present; as head of the People's Front of Latvia parliamentary faction, he was evidently backed by all PFL deputies. His opponent Maris Budovskis, nominated by the Satversme (Constitution) faction, received 35-votes. The previous chairman, Mavriks Vulfsons, has started to work for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Guntis Grube was elected as chairman of the Agriculture and Forestry Commission replacing Voldemars Strikis. (Dzintra Bungs) ARMY SLOW TO FULFILL PROMISES OF FUEL. Ziedonis Blumbergs, Latvia's Deputy Minister of Industry and Energy, told Diena of January-14 that the Northwestern Group of Forces has delayed fulfilling its promise of supplying the Latvian transport system with 100,000 tons of diesel fuel and 50,000 tons of gasoline. So far the army has provided only about 100-tons of diesel fuel and 70-tons of gasoline, despite an acute need for all forms of fuel by Latvia. Blumbergs also noted that Latvia also faces a shortage of liquid gas. (Dzintra Bungs) CONVERSION OF MILITARY PLANTS STARTED IN LATVIA. On January-11 Radio Riga described a recent conference where heads of seven factories in Riga, heretofore making products for the Soviet military, discussed with Latvian officials the process of converting production to meet civilian needs. The conversion process was started last summer and has been proceeding satisfactorily, though all of the factories are still under the jurisdiction of the USSR Ministry of Defense and have contracts to fulfill for that ministry. The conference revealed that in none of the seven factories do military personnel make up more than 25% of the employees; in most plants only a handful of military persons are employed. (Dzintra Bungs) KOZYREV IN ESTONIA. Paevaleht reported on January-14 that Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev and his Estonian counterpart Lennart Meri met that day in Tallinn and exchanged ratification documents for the Estonian-Russian treaty signed January-12, 1991, but only ratified by the Russian Supreme Soviet last week. The Estonian Supreme Council ratified the agreement in the spring of 1991. (Riina Kionka) PRISON GUARDS WANTED IN ESTONIA. The Estonian Prison Authority is now accepting applications for a number of prison guard jobs left vacant by withdrawing Soviet Interior Ministry forces. According to Paevaleht of January-14, the authority has received over 200 applications, and 80 people have been hired as guards in Tallinn at a monthly salary of 1500 rubles. It is not clear how many jobs are available. (Riina Kionka) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE EC REPORT ON RECOGNIZING CROATIA AND SLOVENIA EXPECTED TODAY. Western media reported on January-14 and 15 that an EC commission composed of judges is expected to state on the 15th that Croatia and Slovenia meet Community conditions for recognition as independent states. Some doubts had been expressed about protection of minority rights in Croatia, but President Franjo Tudjman is expected to issue a declaration on January-15 to clear up the issue. Some confusion nonetheless remains as to the exact content of the judges' findings and about which countries will actually move to recognize the two. To date Germany, Ukraine, the Baltic States, Iceland, San Marino, and the Vatican have extended recognition, and Czechoslovakia and Hungary appear headed in the same direction. Domestic political in-fighting, however, seems to be preventing the Austrian government, long sympathetic to the two republics, from granting formal recognition as yet. Finally, most reports agree that the judges will not recommend recognition for Bosnia and Herzegovina or Macedonia, but Portuguese Foreign Minister Jo‹o de Deus Pinheiro said they could get the green light in "days or weeks." (Patrick Moore) YUGOSLAV UPDATE. The January-15 Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung says that Greek Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis urgently asked for a meeting with Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher on the 14th when it was learned that Bulgarian Foreign Minister Stojan Ganev had spoken to them that day. Sofia backs independence for the Republic of Macedonia, while Athens is firmly opposed. In Bosnia Western agencies on January-14 quoted the deputy interior minister as saying that 2 million out of 4.3-million inhabitants are armed and cannot be easily controlled. The BBC's Romanian Service on January-15 quoted Serbian sources in that ethnically mixed republic as saying that local Croats might join the Serbs in urging a "cantonization" of the area (i.e., division into districts in which one nationality has more or less a majority). (Patrick Moore) HUNGARY AND YUGOSLAVIA. Hungarian State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Tamas Katona told MTI that once the EC countries recognize the independence of Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Macedonia, Hungary will follow suit within 24 hours. Hungarian Foreign Ministry spokesman Janos Herman told a press conference that Hungarian and EC officials are expected to sign a protocol in Budapest this week expanding the EC's monitoring activity in Yugoslavia to Hungary's border region. Accredited EC observers will set up their headquarters in Pecs, the site of trilateral talks between the Croatian National Guard, the Yugoslav federal army, and EC observers. This was reported by MTI on January-14. (Edith Oltay) CORRUPTION IN KOSOVO. The January-14 Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung says that Serbs in Kosovo have collected thousands of signatures against corrupt Serb officials sent from Belgrade. The targets of the petition drive run the state-administration and 350-firms under state control. Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic has promised to settle at least 100,000 Serbs in the area, the population-of which is over 90% Albanian. The petitioners charge, however, that even Milosevic's own officials refuse to settle there and simply view their assignment as an opportunity to make easy money. (Patrick Moore) DANGER OF FURTHER STRIKES IN POLAND INCREASES. After the widespread Solidarity warning strikes on January-13, the former communist OPZZ unions are launching as of January-15 protest actions in the metal and armaments industry that could lead to strikes if their demands are not met. According to Polish and Western media, they are demanding more money be allocated to the defense sector and improvement of the industry's financial position. Factions within both OPZZ and Solidarity are also demanding further strike actions, particularly in view of the government refusal to rescind the controversial energy price hikes. (Roman Stefanowski) UKRAINIAN DEFENSE MINISTER IN POLAND. Ukrainian Defense Minister Gen. Konstantin Morozov arrived in Poland on January-14 on what his Polish counterpart Jan Parys called "a visit of historical importance," Polish and Western media report. At a joint press conference at the end of the one-day official visit, Morozov stressed that Ukraine is developing a defensive military doctrine under which it would never start an armed conflict. He assured Poland that Ukraine has no territorial claims on its neighbors and will never use nuclear weapons. He said that short-range nuclear weapons will be removed from the country by July-1, 1992, and strategic nuclear weapons by the end of 1994. (Roman Stefanowski) WALESA WRITES YELTSIN. The presidential press office has released a letter to President Boris Yeltsin dated January-13 in which President Lech Walesa asks for the return of files taken out of Poland by the NKVD during and after World War II. According to PAP, these documents relate to the prewar Polish army, state police, and state administration. Walesa also asks for access to documentation concerning the fate of Polish officers interned at the Kozielsk, Ostashkov, and Starobielsk POW camps and many of whom were murdered at the Katyn, Mednoe and Kharkov sites. (Roman Stefanowski) TRIAL OF FORMER CZECHOSLOVAK OFFICIALS RESUMES. The trial of former Interior Minister Frantisek Kincl, his first Deputy Alojz Lorenc, and former top secret police officer Karel Vykypel resumed in Tabor on January-14, CSTK and Western agencies report. Kincl denied charges of repressing noncommunist dissidents and said he was only carrying out the instructions of the leaders of the Communist Party. He also said he was innocent of charges that he had destroyed secret police files after the November 1989 revolution. (Peter Matuska) HERSANT BUYS INTO CZECH PAPER. Hersant, which owns the Paris-based daily Le Figaro, France soir and 27-other smaller newspapers in France, has paid $22 million to buy a 48% interest in Mlada fronta dnes, the largest Czech daily, with a circulation of 400,000. The French group beat out competitors from Italy, the US, and Germany, including the powerful Allgemeine Zeitung press group, the Financial Times reported on January-14. Hersant already has a stake in the largest daily in Poland, Rzeczpospolita, and seven other provincial Polish dailies. It also owns 49% of Magyar nemzet, the oldest and second-largest daily in Hungary. (Peter Matuska) HUNGARY SATISFIED WITH THE PACE OF PRIVATIZATION. Lajos Csepi, head of Hungary's State Property Agency-in charge of privatizing state property-expressed satisfaction with the pace of privatization of state companies in 1991, Radio Budapest and Hungarian dailies reported on January 13 and 14. Csepi said that the agency collected 40-billion forint in revenues (85% of it in foreign currency) from selling off state companies, exceeding its anticipated revenue for 1991 by 100-million forint. Ten percent of the 1880 state companies were privatized in 1991. Noting that domestic investors lack the capital to participate significantly in privatization, Csepi urged government measures to help them keep pace. (Edith Oltay) ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER IN TURKEY. Gen. Nicolae Spiroiu arrived in Ankara on January-13 for three days of talks with Turkish military officials on bilateral cooperation. Turkey's Defense Minister Nevzat Ayaz said the visit will enhance relations between the two countries. (Mihai Sturdza) BULGARIA RECOGNIZES MORE FORMER SOVIET REPUBLICS. On January-13 Bulgaria recognized the independence of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan and expressed readiness to establish diplomatic relations with them. The independence of Georgia and Azerbaijan was also recognized, but without an offer of diplomatic relations. Bulgaria recognized Belarus, Moldova, Armenia, and Kazakhstan on December-23 and 24, and had earlier established relations with Russia and Ukraine. (Rada Nikolaev) KOZLODUY NUCLEAR PLANT. No.-5, the first of the two 1000-megawatt reactors at the Kozloduy nuclear power plant, was scheduled to be switched on again after a general check when, on January-5, a defect in the thermal insulation caused smoke. By January-13, BTA said, the fault had been repaired and authorization was given to restart the reactor. International sensitivity about the risks from Kozloduy led to a misunderstanding, however, and German Minister of Environment Klaus Tšpfer told Western agencies on January-14 that Bulgaria had switched on one of the two oldest, 440-megawatt reactors, which last year were closed down at the insistence of international experts. The Bulgarian authorities immediately reacted to deny these charges and set the record straight. (Rada Nikolaev) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Sallie Wise Chaballier & Charles Trumbull
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