|To live is so startling, it leaves little time for anything else. - Emily Dickinson|
No. 10, 16 January 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO USSR GAMSAKHURDIA RETURNS TO GEORGIA. Radio Rossii reported early on January 15 that ousted Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia had been on a hunger strike for three days to protest "his illegal detention by the Armenian authorities." Later that day Gamsakhurdia, his family, and bodyguards travelled from Idzhevan to Erevan. Western agencies initially reported that they had flown from Erevan to Grozny in Chechen-Ingushetia at the invitation of Chechen President Dzhakhar Dudaev, a Gamsakhurdia ally, but a Chechen spokesman denied these reports this morning (January 16). Western news agencies report this morning that Gamsakhurdia flew from Erevan to the Abkhaz capital of Sukhumi late on January-15 and then travelled by car today to the Mingrelian capital of Zugdidi in northwest Georgia, where support for him is strongest. (Liz Fuller) MEETING OF CIS LEADERS. The meeting of the CIS leaders to be held in Moscow today (January 16) will focus on military problems as well as coordination of CIS foreign policy and establishment of an organizational group to prepare future meetings of CIS heads of state and government, RIA reported January 15. RIA said it was told by a competent Russian government source that the meeting was originally scheduled for later this month, but had been moved up to accommodate the schedules of all the CIS heads of state. Russian TV said, however, that the meeting had originally been planned for the CIS prime ministers, but was changed to a "working session" about military matters among the CIS heads of state. (Ann Sheehy) UKRAINIAN DEFENSE PLANS CRITICIZED. Following talks between Russian and Ukrainian experts in Moscow on January 14, two top Russian generals criticized Ukrainian designs on the Black Sea Fleet. According to Russian TV on January 15, the experts reached agreement on the composition of CIS strategic forces, but again stumbled on the issue of the fleet. Later, General Boris Pyankov, head of a CIS team negotiating with Kiev, said Ukrainian claims to the Black Sea Fleet were "incomprehensible," and that they conflicted with Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk's professed goal of defending the republic's coastline. Yeltsin adviser Dmitrii Volkogonov echoed Pyankov's remarks, and called for a two-year transitional period during which defense reform could be carried out. (Stephen Foye) SHAPOSHNIKOV VISITS CENTRAL ASIA. Continuing his visits to member-state capitals, CIS Commander in Chief Evgenii Shaposhnikov met with political leaders in Tajikistan and Turkmenistan on January 15. According to TASS reports, Shaposhnikov expressed satisfaction with the results of both meetings. Speaking of his conversation with Tajik President Rakhmon Nabiev, Shaposhnikov said that Tajikistan remains committed to "preserving a single armed forces within the framework of the commonwealth." (Stephen Foye) YELTSIN FACES ANGRY ST. PETERSBURG RESIDENTS. In the final stop on his tour of the Russian Federation, President Boris Yeltsin was confronted by angry St. Petersburg residents demanding to know how they will be able to feed their families in light of rising prices, Western and Russian agencies reported on January 15. Yeltsin responded that unscrupulous producers were artificially inflating prices, which only served to undermine economic reform. In response to repeated questions about land privatization, Yeltsin reportedly said that a new decree on privatization for some farms would take effect on March 1. Yeltsin also met with striking taxi drivers, and TASS reported that the ten-fold increase in tariffs would now be cut in half. (Carla Thorson) MINERS WARN OF IMPENDING STRIKES. Representatives of Russia's Kuzbass and Vorkuta mines warned government officials that wildly fluctuating prices are fueling pro-strike sentiments among the miners in these regions, TASS reported on January 15. Aleksandr Oslanidi, acting chairman of the Kuzbass workers' committee, was quoted as saying that the Russian government would fall unless something is done to soften the impact of price deregulation. Meanwhile Russian Supreme Soviet Chairman Ruslan Khasbulatov met with members of the strike committee from the Vorkuta region to discuss their demands. The Vorkuta miners have already launched a four-day strike which ended on January 13. (Carla Thorson) KHASBULATOV PREFERS CONSERVATIVES. During a meeting with Russian journalists, Khasbulatov said that the present government is incompetent in economics, defense, and foreign affairs. According to "Vesti" of January 15, Khasbulatov suggested former Prime Minister Ivan Silaev, or his deputies Oleg Lobov and Yurii Skokov, for the post of Russian Prime Minister. On January-14, "Vesti" cited Khasbulatov as proposing the replacement of present Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev with veteran Soviet diplomat Yulii Vorontsov, currently Russian ambassador to the UN. (Julia Wishnevsky) RUSSIAN DEPUTIES CRITICIZE KHASBULATOV. Russian Supreme Soviet deputies criticized Khasbulatov for demanding that the Russian government resign, TASS reported on January 15. The parliament is currently meeting to evaluate the effectiveness of economic reforms instituted by Yeltsin. One deputy, Mikhail Molostvov, commented that Khasbulatov's remarks did not reflect the general opinion of the parliament. (Carla Thorson) RUSSIA TO IMPORT RECORD AMOUNTS OF GRAIN IN 1992. Despite great hopes placed on plans for agricultural and land reform in Russia, the government is planning to import as much as 20-million tons of grain in 1992. The Russian Agriculture Minister, Viktor Khlystun, made the announcement during a press conference on January-14, TASS reported the same day. In 1991, Russia received only 16 million tons of grain from abroad, according to Khlystun. To a significant degree, Russia's imports will depend on the availability of aid packages from the West. (John Tedstrom) RUSSIA MAY INTRODUCE OWN CURRENCY. In response to reports of Ukraine's intention to abandon the ruble, Yeltsin told reporters in St. Petersburg on January 15 that Russia might be forced to introduce its own currency as well. Yeltsin indicated that Russia would not take this step unless it had to, but noted that if Ukraine carries out its current plans, Russia could introduce its own currency sometime in July. (Carla Thorson) CIS OIL OUTPUT TO FALL IN 1992. The International Energy Agency predicts that oil output in the CIS will fall from a 1991 level of 10.4 million barrels per day to 9.5 million barrels per day in 1992. It is not clear how the IEA arrived at its estimates, but reviews of its report in the Western press indicate that the agency may be extrapolating, largely, from output trends in the former USSR. If so, the estimates may be too optimistic; the breakdown of supply links among the former Soviet republics has become more acute since the USSR dissolved, and that trend will hurt production throughout the CIS region. Although domestic demand for energy ought to ease somewhat in 1992, soft energy markets may keep prices low enough to discourage aggressive CIS sales. (John Tedstrom) ENERGY PRICES IN RUSSIA ON THE RISE. According to Vladimir Lopukhin, Russia's Minister for Fuel and Energy, the price of coal has increased five times, coking coal by eight times, oil by five times, gasoline by three times, kerosene by five-times, natural gas by five times, and electricity by four times as a result of the price liberalization January 2. Even with these price increases, not all of the oil fields in Russia can become profitable, Lopukhin told a press conference January 13. TASS covered his remarks the same day. (John Tedstrom) HOPE FOR A UNIFIED ENERGY SYSTEM. In his press conference, Lopukhin laid heavy emphasis on maintaining a unified energy system and reported that he is negotiating with other republics (Ukraine in particular) on that question now. There are already fault lines in the "unified system:" Lithuania is reported (by Radio Moscow on January 16) to be considering halting electricity supplies to Belarus and Kaliningrad because of supply shortages in its electricity sector. Lithuania gets most of its primary energy from Russia and Belarus. Estonia is also facing an energy crisis due to stoppage of fuel deliveries from Russia, Estonia's Economics Minister Jaak Leimann reported January 14. (John Tedstrom) KOZYREV IN BONN. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev and German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher met in Bonn on January 15 for talks on bilateral issues, aid, and nuclear proliferation. Kozyrev offered assurances that German humanitarian aid to Russia is reaching the intended recipients and supported the idea of developing an effective distribution system for aid. Kozyrev stressed that short-range nuclear weapons should be eliminated and called the creation of a fund to keep Soviet nuclear scientists at home doing peaceful research in an effort to dissuade them from selling their skills for military purposes abroad, Western agencies reported January 15. (Suzanne Crow) KOZYREV ON SOVIET GERMAN AUTONOMY. At his press conference in Bonn with Genscher on January 15, Kozyrev said that Russia stood by the joint declaration signed by Yeltsin in Bonn last fall as regards the restoration of Soviet German autonomy, TASS reported January 15. Kozyrev said that a Russian presidential decree was being drawn up on the restoration of the statehood of the Volga Germans, but it was a complex question which could not be solved quickly. He proposed the creation of a joint German-Russian commission to implement the program. German government spokesman Dieter Vogel called for Yeltsin to keep his promise with regard to Soviet German autonomy, saying that Yeltsin's recent statement that autonomy would only be granted in areas with at least 90% German population was never discussed before, Western agencies reported January 15. (Ann Sheehy) VOSHCHANOV ON SOVIET GERMAN AUTONOMY. Yeltsin's press secretary Pavel Voshchanov issued a statement on January 15 saying that Yeltsin had not changed his position on Soviet German autonomy, TASS reported January 15. Voshchanov said the problem would be solved in three stages. First, certain raions would be assigned for German settlement. Second, as the German share of the population in these raions increased, they would be designated national raions. Finally, the status of these raions would be raised, up to the formation of an autonomous oblast. This program is unlikely to satisfy the Germans, who want the recreation of a German autonomous republic now. (Ann Sheehy) RUSSIA TO TAKE OVER UNESCO SEAT. UNESCO Director General Federico Mayor said on January-15 that Yeltsin has requested that Russia be granted the former USSR's seat in the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. Mayor said Yeltsin committed his republic to taking over all aspects of the former USSR's membership, including financial, Western agencies reported January 15. (Suzanne Crow) PRAVDA, TV JOURNALISTS PROTEST YELTSIN'S MEDIA POLICY. St. Petersburg's television journalists have set up a strike committee to protest transformation of their network into two government-controlled stations: the All-Russian Television Company "St. Petersburg," subordinated to the local City Council, and a St. Petersburg division of the All-Russian State Television Company "Ostankino", Radio Rossii reported on January 15. The directive creating the new stations was signed by "Ostankino" president Egor Yakovlev, St. Petersburg mayor Anatolii Sobchak, and Russian Minister of the Press and Mass Media Mikhail Poltoranin. Meanwhile, Pravda on January 6 accused Yakovlev of censorship and unfair commercial practices toward the opposition press. Pravda's advertisements were taken off the air allegedly for mentioning that the newspaper was banned three times: by Nikolai II, by Alexander Kerensky, and by Yeltsin. A commercial for Moscow News was shown instead. (Victor Yasmann) UKRAINE'S INTERNATIONAL TIES. Ukrainian Prime Minister Vitold Fokin is on an official visit to Greece where he met with the host country's head of government and president, Radio Kiev reported on January 15. The sides signed an agreement covering economic and scientific cooperation and documents establishing formal diplomatic relations. (Roman Solchanyk) SNEGUR CABLES YELTSIN OVER "MERCENARIES" IN "DNIESTER REPUBLIC." Moldovan President Mircea Snegur has cabled Yeltsin to complain about citizens of the Russian Federation "taking part in armed raids of the so-called Dniester guard for generous pay, in effect as mercenaries." Snegur told Yeltsin in the cable that the "Dniester republic" was "a bridgehead of the reactionary forces of the former USSR which oppose the Alma-Ata accords, try to preserve the empire, and seek revenge for their defeat in the August 1991 putsch," Moldovapres reported on January 14. (Vladimir Socor) SNEGUR SWORN IN. Elected recently by popular vote, Snegur took the oath of office on January 15 at a solemn session of the parliament, swearing loyalty to "the people of Moldova," TASS reported on January 15. In an address upon taking the oath, Snegur said that he would make "the observance of human rights and of the equilibrium among the three branches of government the keystone of his policy." He also pledged to form "an executive team capable of ensuring cooperation of all political forces" and urged parliament to speed up the drafting of the new Moldovan constitution. (Vladimir Socor) BALTIC STATES GOVERNMENT CRISIS UNRESOLVED. Despite several hours of debate, the Estonian Supreme Council on January-15 failed to take a stand on the future of Prime Minister Savisaar and his proposal that the Supreme Council declare an economic state of emergency and grant the government special powers. In a meeting broadcast live on Estonian Radio, the Supreme Council discussed the proposal point by point, and listened to recommendations from the economic and legal commissions against passing the proposal. Earlier this week, Savisaar threatened to resign should the proposal not go through. Voting on the proposed measure is scheduled to take place today (January-16). However, because of widespread criticism of the motion in the Supreme Council yesterday, government insiders believe that Savisaar may withdraw his proposal altogether, thereby eliminating the need to make good on his offer to step down. (Riina Kionka) PARATROOPERS IN LITHUANIA GIVE YELTSIN ULTIMATUM. On January-15 officers of two airborne divisions based in Lithuania issued an ultimatum to Russian President Yeltsin to sign a withdrawal agreement with Lithuania by February-1, TASS reported. The message, also sent to CIS Commander in Chief Shaposhnikov, said that the officers, soldiers, and their families wanted "real social guarantees" and "reserve the right to ignore criminal and inhuman orders to withdraw and dissolve the divisions" and to join any state that can offer them "social and legal guarantees." The officers threatened to take "all measures necessary for the defense of our honor and dignity, including the use of our professional capacities." (Saulius Girnius) MORE ON KOZYREV IN TALLINN. More information has come out about Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev's January-14 meeting with his Estonian counterpart Lennart Meri in Tallinn. According to Western agencies quoting Baltfax, the meeting dealt mainly with planned withdrawals of former Soviet military troops from Estonia. Kozyrev reportedly told Meri that Russia understands his position, but asked Estonia to take into account the difficulties of withdrawing the troops. The Estonian side reportedly said it understood the need for a gradual withdrawal and a guarantee of Russia's security interests. Meri also reportedly said Estonia was ready to build housing for withdrawing units. (Riina Kionka) GODMANIS ON ENERGY CRISIS IN LATVIA. Speaking on Latvian TV on January-14, Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis said that the government will purchase petroleum from private enterprises in Latvia in order to safeguard the functioning of the most vital sectors of the economy. He said that food would be supplied to Soviet troops in Latvia only in exchange for the promised fuels. Godmanis pointed out that the Tyumen region owes Latvia with 600,000 tons of petroleum for 1990 and 1991; the Tyumen region has not supplied Latvia 300,000 tons of petroleum annually, as it had agreed to do in order to repay for the roads and buildings Latvia constructed in that region. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIA REQUESTS MEDICAL AID. Radio Riga reported on January-15 that the Latvian Supreme Council has requested medical aid from the WHO, Red Cross, and various governments. Currently Latvia's medical reserves can last only until March and some medicines and medical supplies are already unavailable. Deputy Ivars Krastins pointed out that the supply system from the successor states of the USSR has completely broken down and that Latvia lacks enough hard currency to purchase medical supplies abroad at world market prices. (Dzintra Bungs) LITHUANIA ADMITTED TO WHO. The Director General of the World Health Organization sent a telegram to Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius announcing that Lithuania had been admitted to the organization, Radio Lithuania reported on January-15. The organization decided to exempt Lithuania from paying membership dues this year. (Saulius Girnius) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE WAVE OF RECOGNITION FOR CROATIA AND SLOVENIA. An EC report on January-15 recommended recognition for the two republics. Germany had already recognized them in December, and now the other 11-Community members followed suit. They were joined by Canada and a number of European states, including Turkey, Austria, Switzerland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Malta. Iceland, Ukraine, the Vatican, and San Marino had recognized Croatia and Slovenia earlier. The authorities in Belgrade protested the moves, but crowds were jubilant in Croatia. (Patrick Moore) GERMANY AT CENTER STAGE. At diplomatic celebrations in Zagreb and Ljubljana, Germany received pride of place and formally elevated its consulates there to embassies. Both Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher said that recent events, including Serbian acceptance of a UN peace plan, had proved that Germany was right in urging recognition as a means to ending the war. Kohl suggested that complaints from some countries about Germany's successful diplomacy stemmed from an "envy complex." There were no complaints in Croatia, however, where state-run radio and television played the new song "Danke, Deutschland." (Patrick Moore) EASTERN EUROPEAN POSITIONS. Hungary and Poland joined the EC countries in recognizing and establishing diplomatic relations with Slovenia and Croatia. The Hungarian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Hungary would upgrade its general consulate in Zagreb to an embassy and set up an embassy in Ljubljana. It said that Hungary will study the possibility of establishing diplomatic relations with the other former Yugoslav republics which declared their independence. Hungary has been concerned about the situation of the 400,000-strong Hungarian minority in Serbia which has in recent months been subjected to growing pressures by the Serbian authorities. PAP reported that the Polish Foreign Minister Krzysztof Skubiszewski, justifying the move in the Sejm, said that "Poland has condemned in the past and still condemns now the use of force in Yugoslavia." Skubiszewski said that Poland, like many other countries, had delayed recognition for fear of exacerbating the conflict. Czechoslovakia and Romania did not immediately join the rush to recognize. On January-15 CSTK quoted Czechoslovak Foreign Ministry official Jan Kubis as saying that the federal government would decide on recognition of Slovenia and Croatia at its session on January-16. Kubis also said that the Czechoslovak stand should be close to that of the European Community. He let it be known that Czechoslovakia is most likely to establish diplomatic ties with Slovenia but the question of Croatia remains open. In a statement to Adevarul Romanian Foreign Minister Adrian Nastase said on January-10, "Romania is not ready yet to recognize the independence of the Yugoslav republics. We follow with great interest what is going on there however and will make a decision based upon the stand of the EC and the UN." Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia all extended recognition to Slovenia and Croatia last autumn. Former Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze told Austrian TV on January-15 that the USSR was partly to blame for the war in Yugoslavia, since it was too absorbed in its own affairs to use its good offices as a mediator effectively. (RFE/RL RI staff) NO MAJOR MOVEMENT TO RECOGNIZE BOSNIA, MACEDONIA. The EC report added that ethnically-mixed Bosnia and Herzegovina should hold a referendum on independence before Brussels could recommend recognition. Austrian TV said that the EC committee had no objections in principle to recognizing Macedonia, but that Greece vetoed recognition. Greece demands that Macedonia change its name and claims that the republic might have territorial ambitions in northern Greece. The Republic of Macedonia denies the accusations and refuses to change its name. The Italian foreign minister said he hoped Macedonia would win broad recognition soon. Nonetheless, Bulgaria, which strongly backs Macedonian independence as a safeguard against potential Serbian expansion, recognized the independence of four republics: Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Most political forces in Bulgaria warmly supported recognition; a spokesman for the socialist opposition approved the move with some reservations; while the socialist daily Duma was rather critical. Meanwhile, the president's adviser on national security and a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense said on Bulgarian Radio that there was no concentration of troops or special military activity on the Bulgaria's western border. Bulgaria's move was preceded by intensive diplomatic activities, including Foreign Minister Ganev's talks in Rome, Athens, and Bonn, urging European Community recognition of Macedonia. As reported on Athens TV Greece reacted to Bulgaria's recognition with a statement describing it as a "forced and incorrect move" that threatens Balkan stability and security and would disrupt Bulgaria's course toward the European Community. (Patrick Moore & Rada Nikolaev) INTERNATIONAL BANKERS IN POLAND. On January-15 President Walesa and Prime Minister Olszewski received representatives of the World Bank headed by the Bank's Deputy Chairman Wilfried P.Thalwitz and the chief of the World Bank's Mission in Poland Ian Hume. PAP reported that according to both the presidential and the government spokesmen the talks related to the country's economic situation and the cooperation between the World Bank and Poland. While Walesa assured the bankers that Poland will take all possible anti-inflationary measures, Olszewski declared Poland's determination to continue with the economic reform. The bankers in turn assured Poland of continued financial help, particularly in the area of agriculture and food processing. (Roman Stefanowski) CZECH PREMIER CRITICIZES FEDERAL FINANCE MINISTER. On January-14 Czech Premier Petr Pithart described a recent statement by federal Finance Minister Vaclav Klaus on the 1991 budget deficit as an "offensive move in the preelection struggle." On the subject of the country's overall deficit amounting to 23,000-million koruny ($770 million), Klaus said the Czech and Slovak republics "behaved in a socialist manner." Pithart pointed to the tendentiousness of Klaus' conclusions, saying that Klaus is also the Chairman of an "ambitious party [the Civic Democratic Party, ODS] striving for an election victory [in the June 1992 elections]. Pithart concluded that the cause of the Czech budgetary deficit is lower revenues, CSTK reported. (Peter Matuska) CENSUS MANIPULATIONS IN ROMANIA? Jozsef Czedli, a member of the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania (HDUR), told Radio Budapest on January-14 that the recent Romanian census was marked by a series of abuses, starting by the listing of Szekler as a separate language from Hungarian and the use of a pencil to answer the questions pertaining to nationality, mother tongue, and religion. The HDUR forwarded several cases of abuse to the central census authorities, which said the census takers, though they would be disciplined, had not been politically motivated but had merely misinterpreted their instructions. The census office felt, however, that any resulting falsifications would not significantly distort the true picture. The HDUR has asked its members to report any violations and to use their right to recheck their census forms at the local councils. (Alfred Reisch). ROMAN MEETS WESTERN POLITICIANS. Petre Roman, the leader of Romania's ruling National Salvation Front, is currently visiting France and Spain for an exchange of views with the socialist leadership of these countries. He told Laurent Fabius, President of the French National Assembly, and Spanish Prime Minister Felipe González, that the NSF is a democratic party with a center-left electoral program, fostering democracy and economic reform. (Mihai Sturdza) STALEMATE IN LABOR NEGOTIATIONS. Romanian Prime Minister Stolojan told parliament on January-15 that talks with trade union representatives had bogged down over the wage issue. Some unions requested a minimum monthly wage that would more than triple the current level of 7,000 lei. Stolojan said that wages could be raised only through indexing and threatened to resign if he is forced to slow down the pace of reforms. National Bank Governor Mugur Isarescu said that the inflation rate reached 300% during 1991, although the bank and the government had advised a rate of 120 to 140%. Negotiations were continuing late in the evening, local media said. (Mihai Sturdza) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Sallie Wise Chaballier & Charles Trumbull
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.