|The absence of alternatives clears the mind marvelously. - Henry Kissinger|
No. 13, 21 January 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO USSR SUPPORT FOR GAMSAKHURDIA DWINDLES. Western news agencies reported on 20 January that supporters of ousted Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia had begun peace talks in Samtredia with representatives of the ruling Military Council. Gamsakhurdia himself is variously reported to be in Gali, in Sukhumi, or to have left Georgia altogether. Military Council co-chairman Dzhaba Ioseliani stated that the Council would hand over power to a civilian administration "in about one month." (Two weeks ago National Democratic Party leader Gia Chanturia said the Military Council would relinquish power "within days.") The Georgian Cabinet of Ministers has issued a decree on the creation of a temporary "Consultative Council" that will advise acting Prime Minister Tengiz Sigua and which includes a number of respected moderate intellectuals as well as Gamsakhurdia's former parliament chairman Akaki Asatiani. (Liz Fuller) KARIMOV PROMISES LOWER PRICES FOR STUDENTS. In the wake of three days of student demonstrations in Tashkent that reportedly resulted in six deaths, Uzbek President Islam Karimov appeared on TV and promised that students would be able to buy goods at pre-reform prices, TASS and the central TV news reported on 20 January. Price liberalization, introduced in Uzbekistan nearly a week later than originally planned, was the reason for the disturbances. The TV news report said that Karimov accused the opposition of having manipulated the demonstrators in hopes of launching a struggle for power in Uzbekistan, and asked for six months of peace and hard work in order to give a better life to the citizens of the country. (Bess Brown) POPOV REJECTS NEW CITY GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATION. Moscow Mayor Gavriil Popov has rejected the new composition of the city government proposed by Deputy Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, Russian Television reported on 20-January. The mayor had accepted his government's resignation on 9 January and ordered the streamlining of the government structure in order better to implement reforms. The report did not indicate why Popov had rejected Luzhkov's plan, but a press conference has been scheduled for 22 January at which the new government structure is expected to be revealed. (Carla Thorson) KUZBASS COAL MINERS ANNOUNCE STRIKE. The Independent Trade Union of Coal Miners from the Kuzbass region of Russia called for a strike to begin on 25 January, Radio Rossii reported on 20-January. The Kuzbass Miners Union Council was quoted as saying that the uncontrolled rise in prices leaves them no choice but to strike. The Radio also reported that a delegation of administrators from the Kuzbass mines and representatives of the trade union travelled to Moscow on 20 January to meet with Russian leaders. (Carla Thorson) RUSSIA TO SELL ARMS ABROAD? One way of earning hard currency for investment in the program to convert defense industries to civilian production would be to sell arms abroad, according to Russian Supreme Soviet deputy Vladimir Shorin, Chairman of the Supreme Soviet's Committee for Science and Education. Shorin, currently traveling with Supreme Soviet Chairman Ruslan Khasbulatov, made his remarks to Soviet reporters in Izhevsk, Udmurtia, a region heavily dominated by defense industries, on 20 January, according to TASS the same day. (John Tedstrom) RUTSKOI ON ARMY'S TROUBLES. In a Pravda interview published on 17 January, Russian Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi blamed political leaders for politicizing the armed forces. As summarized by Western agencies, Rutskoi warned that deteriorating conditions in the armed forces could lead to "unpredictable consequences." The former Air Force pilot also criticized what he called the effect of "personal ambitions" on the fate of the Black Sea Fleet and charged that since 1986 political leaders had carried out a campaign of destruction against the military. His remarks appeared as 5,000 officers gathered in Moscow for the first All-Army Officers' Assembly, a meeting that Rutskoi was reportedly unable to attend because of illness. (Stephen Foye) GROMOV TO MOLDOVA? During the recent All-Army Officers Assembly, CIS Commander in Chief Evgenii Shaposhnikov appeared to say (his words were indistinct) that the Fourteenth Army has been subordinated to the Ground Forces and that Colonel General Boris Gromov has been named its commander. The Fourteenth Army is deployed in Moldova and has been actively involved in the efforts of pro-Moscow forces in the so- called "Dniester Republic" to undermine Moldovan independence. Gromov was the last commander of Soviet forces in Afghanistan and has often been viewed as a leader of reactionary forces in the armed forces. (Stephen Foye) MILITARY SPOKESMAN ON FUTURE OF ARMY. Valerii Manilov, a spokesman for the central military command, told a news conference on 20-January that while the military leadership was prepared to help republics build their own armies, strategic forces must stay under central control. According to Novosti and Western agency reports, Manilov criticized "unrestrained privatization" of army assets and said that political leaders ignored the army's needs only at their own risk. He also characterized the army as a powerful force for stability, and warned against politicizing it. (Stephen Foye) SIZE OF DEFENSE COMMUNITY IN RUSSIA. An adviser to Russian President Boris Yeltsin on military affairs, Dmitrii Volkogonov, told Central TV on 19 January that some eight million Russians work, in one way or another, for the Russian defense establishment. Together with their families, he said, some 30 million of Russia's 150 million people are therefore involved in defense. (Stephen Foye) LOPATIN: SPLITS IN MILITARY LEADERSHIP. Colonel Vladimir Lopatin, Deputy Chairman of the Russian State Committee for Defense Questions, claimed in an interview published by Nezavisimaya gazeta on 7 January that the military leadership has been riven since the August coup attempt by a power struggle involving three top generals: CIS Commander in Chief Shaposhnikov, former General Staff Chief Vladimir Lobov, and Russian Federation military adviser Konstantin Kobets. His observations include the following: Lobov was dismissed because he lost a power struggle with Shaposhnikov over the role of the General Staff; Shaposhnikov and Kobets continue to resist radical military reform; the military reform plan considered by republican leaders in Minsk on 30 December was drafted not by Shaposhnikov, but by Kobets. Lopatin also claims that Kobets obstructed the investigation into the army's role in the attempted August coup, and charged that he has placed two allies-Colonel General Yurii Rodionov and Lieutenant General Viktor Samoilov-atop the former Defense Ministry Main Personnel Directorate in order to build a patronage network within the armed forces. (Stephen Foye) HURD PLEASED WITH YELTSIN MEETING. According to a TASS report of 20 January, British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd was pleased with the openness of his talks in Moscow that day with Yeltsin. Hurd told a press conference that he and Yeltsin discussed "all questions" dealing with economic policy and security matters. (Sallie Wise Chaballier) YELTSIN TO G-7? Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev was quoted by TASS on 18 January as saying that he does not exclude Yeltsin's attendance at the G-7 meeting scheduled for May in Munich. Kozyrev said it would be necessary to prepare such a visit by Yeltsin with care so that he would not leave empty-handed as did former USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev following the July, 1991 G-7 meeting in London. (Suzanne Crow) CUBA SIGNS TRADE ACCORDS WITH KYRGYZSTAN, TAJIKISTAN. In an apparent effort to recover some of its severely diminished trade with the former USSR, Cuba has concluded separate 5-year trade and economic cooperation agreements with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. According to Western agency reports of 20 January, quoting the official Cuban news agency Prensa Latina, Cuban Foreign Trade Minister Ricardo Cabrisas signed the two accords last week during talks in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Prensa Latina is reported to have said that Cuba recently also has signed similar economic cooperation agreements with Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and the city of St. Petersburg. Cabrisas is said to have been in the CIS for several weeks, and is still trying to conclude a trade agreement with Russia. (Sallie Wise Chaballier) TURKMENISTAN WANTS TO SELL ELECTRIC POWER AND OIL TO IRAN. Tehran Radio, as quoted by a Western news agency, reported on 20-January that Turkmen Vice President Ata Charyev has discussed sales of surplus Turkmen oil and gas with his Iranian counterpart. Charyev also proposed establishment of a joint transport company and direct telephone links between Turkmenistan and Iran. A Turkmenpres-TASS report of the same date said that Turkmenistan also is hoping to sell electric power to Iran and Afghanistan in order to acquire hard currency. (Bess Brown) BELARUS AND CHINA ESTABLISH DIPLOMATIC LINKS. As reported on 21 January by Western agencies, China and the Republic of Belarus have signed agreements establishing diplomatic ties between the two countries and promoting trade. That gives the PRC full official links with all three Slavic and five Central Asian members of the CIS. China Daily quoted Belarus Prime Minister Vyacheslau Kebich, who is heading the delegation to Beijing, as saying that Belarus recognizes the PRC's claim over Taiwan. (Kathy Mihalisko) STILL GRAPPLING WITH CHERNOBYL. On 17-January, a high-ranking budget official in Minsk told Belarus Radio that owing to the creation of the Commonwealth, Belarus will-have to pay the costs of the Chernobyl cleanup-which will amount to an estimated 16 billion rubles in 1992-out of its own budget. In related news, animal slaughter on a mass scale is taking place in Gomel Oblast in response to the wide-spread shortage of meat, despite the concerns of health officials who point out that radioactivity levels in that region are still high. (Kathy Mihalisko) KRAVCHUK ON CIS. Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk in an interview with Interfax denied that he is planning to take Ukraine out of the CIS, Western agencies reported on 21-January. At the moment, said Kravchuk, this is not the point. In recent comments the Ukrainian leader has suggested that Ukraine would pull out of the Commonwealth if the agreements signed in Alma-Ata and Minsk by its members were not being observed. (Roman Solchanyk) KRAVCHUK ON UKRAINIAN COUPONS. Kravchuk said on Ukrainian TV's first program on 19 January that before introducing its own currency Ukraine would consult with Russia and other states, Radio "Mayak" reported that day. Kravchuk also said that at present Ukraine has two currencies, coupons and the ruble, and that this has resulted in hardships both for the population of Ukraine and others. (Roman Solchanyk) BACK TO THE FUTURE. In a return to a time difference originally ordered by Stalin in 1930, most parts of the Russian Federation on 19 January set clocks ahead one hour. Moscow time is now set for GMT +3. Ukraine refused to go along, leading to widespread confusion in, above all, transportation schedules. Kiev time is GMT +2. (Kathy Mihalisko) UKRAINIAN-POLISH RELATIONS. Polish Foreign Minister Krzysztof Skubiszewski was quoted by TASS on 20 January as saying that he is ready to initial the Ukrainian-Polish treaty at a moment's notice. Ties between the two countries are excellent, he said, and there is nothing that prevent him from visiting Kiev. Final details of the treaty need to be agreed upon after which the document will be signed at a higher level. (Roman Solchanyk) AZERBAIJAN COMMISSION ACCUSES PROPAGANDA, CPSU, AND KGB. The Azerbaijan State Investigative Commission has concluded that the military operation in Baku on 20 January, 1990 was a "carefully planned and cynically executed punitive action," TASS reported on 18 January. During the joint military action of the Soviet Army, KGB, and MVD 131-people were killed and 744 wounded. The report placed direct responsibility for organization of the action on the Soviet central government. During the operation the central authorities were represented in Baku by former USSR Defense Minister Dmitrii Yazov, former USSR MVD Minister Vadim Bakatin, and former Politburo member Egor Ligachev. (Victor Yasmann) CHURCH OF RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH ABROAD OPENED IN MOSCOW. "Vesti" reported on 19 January that the first church of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad has opened in the Mitinskoye cemetery in Moscow. The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (New York based) is called in Russia the Free Russian Orthodox Church since its followers consider the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate to be compromised by cooperation with the former Soviet regime. (Oxana Antic) BALTIC STATES LATVIAN-RUSSIAN TREATY MAY BE RATIFIED IN FEBRUARY. Russian delegation chief Aleksandr Granberg has recommended that the RSFSR Supreme Soviet ratify the treaty between Latvia and Russia that was signed by Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Latvian Supreme Council Chairman Anatolijs Gorbunovs on 13-January 1991. He also suggested that a letter urging ratification be sent by representatives of the Russians in Latvia and the minority Ravnopravie faction of the Latvian Supreme Council. Such letters had been sent by Russians in Estonia and Lithuania before treaties with those countries were ratified by the Russian Supreme Soviet. Granberg said that the treaty with Latvia may be ratified in February, Radio Riga and BNS reported on 20-January. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIA REMEMBERS OMON VICTIMS. On 20-January Latvians recalled the OMON assault on the Ministry of Internal Affairs in 1991 and held many commemorative ceremonies in honor of the five men killed in Riga as a consequence of that attack. Minister of Internal Affairs Ziedonis Cevers pointed out that the situation in Latvia in January 1991 was more precarious than is widely known: besides the continual threats of violence from OMON, there was the danger of intervention from Soviet paratroopers, according to Radio Riga of 20-January. (Dzintra Bungs) EXTRAORDINARY CONGRESS OF FARMERS' ASSOCIATION. Latvia's Farmers' Association (Latvijas Lauksaimnieku Savieniba) convened in Riga on 17-January to discuss the organization's future and the agricultural policy in Latvia. Heretofore its membership has supported the interests of those affiliated with collective farms in Latvia. Given the ongoing privatization of farming in Latvia, that organization needs a new program. Radio Riga reported on 20-January that the congress also discussed whether the organization should become a political party in its own right, or join forces with the renewed Farmers' Union (Zemnieku Savieniba) that existed as a political party representing farmers' interests during the interwar period; that issue remained undecided. (Dzintra Bungs) 7,000 CLAIM PROPERTY IN TALLINN. Local authorities have received over 7,000 applications in the capital city alone for the return of property illegally confiscated under Communist rule. According to Tallinn Real Estate Authority chief Ene Novek, quoted in Rahva haal of 18-January, the applications will be registered and files opened for processing and investigation by city committees. Novek did not say when applicants would receive replies, but noted that the first responses would be negative, going to those applicants who could not demonstrate their inheritance or ownership rights. (Riina Kionka) CANADA OPENS DIPLOMATIC OFFICE IN VILNIUS. Canadian External Affairs Minister Barbara McDougall announced in Ottawa that Canada is opening an embassy office in Vilnius, Western agencies reported on 20-January. The Vilnius office will be a satellite of Canada's embassy in Stockholm and will provide trade and investment-promotion assistance. Canada has already opened offices in Riga and Tallinn. McDougall pledged continued friendship with the Baltic republics: "We are actively supporting their efforts to strengthen their democratic institutions and and implement economic reforms." (Saulius Girnius) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE YUGOSLAV DIPLOMATIC UPDATE. Austrian TV reported on 18-January that Italian President Francesco Cossiga and Austrian Foreign Minister Alois Mock over the weekend became the first foreign officials to visit Slovenia and Croatia following their recognition by most European countries on or after 15-January. Italian and Slovenian officials sought to play down potential problems over the status of Slovenia's Italian minority, while Austrian businessmen were anxious to pursue opportunities in rebuilding Croatia's economy. Vecernji list reported that Poland will send some of its world-famous restoration experts to work on Croatia's damaged churches and other historical buildings, and will also supply construction materials at cost. The paper also reprinted a letter dated 15-January from former US President Ronald Reagan to Croatian President Franjo Tudjman congratulating the Croats on recognition by the EC. (Patrick Moore) YUGOSLAV ARMY DENIES CHARGES OF BRUTALITY. On 20-January the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said that the Yugoslav army denied reports in the Western press that the Serbian-dominated military was waging a systematic campaign of terror and destruction against Croatia and its civilian population. The paper also noted that the Serbian Orthodox Church had joined some of the Serbian nationalist opposition in attacking President Slobodan Milosevic for agreeing to the UN peace plan requiring the federal army to leave Serbian enclaves in Croatia. (Patrick Moore) MILOSEVIC TO VISIT TURKEY. On 20-January Radio Serbia reported that Serbia's President Slobodan Milosevic and the republic's foreign minister will pay a visit to Ankara on 22-January for talks with Turkey's President Turgut …zal and foreign minister Erdal Inou at Serbia's request. Talks will center on aspects of the Yugoslav crisis, Balkan developments, and bilateral relations. Turkey has offered to contribute troops to the UN peacekeeping force planned for deployment in war-torn areas of Croatia and along the border between Bosnia and Croatia. Turkey has pledged support for Yugoslavia's Muslims and Turks and said it will soon extend recognition to four former Yugoslav republics. Bosnia and Macedonia have large Muslim and Turkish populations. Last week Milosevic met with top Greek officials. Leaders from all the other former and current Yugoslav republics have met with Greek and Turkish officials in recent weeks. Yugoslav media say that both countries have become important factors in resolving the Yugoslav political crisis. (Milan Andrejevich) HUNGARY ON BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA. On 18-January in Budapest, Hungarian Foreign Minister Geza Jeszenszky told his counterpart from Bosnia-Herzegovina Haris Silajdzic that international recognition of the former Yugoslav republics is justified if they comply with democratic criteria outlined by the EC. Describing Bosnia-Herzegovina as one of the republics which "honestly seek to establish democratic conditions and build a market economy," Jeszenszky said that an independent Bosnia-Herzegovina would be a "very promising" economic partner for Hungary. Silajdzic reiterated his proposal that the former Yugoslav republics should form "a commonwealth." (Edith Oltay) HUNGARIAN AND AUSTRIAN POLICE COOPERATE. On 20-January Hungarian Ministry of Internal Affairs and police officials attended the inauguration of a joint Hungarian-Austrian police academy, Radio Budapest reported. The academy is to conduct joint training in fighting terrorism, arms smuggling, border violations, and neo-Nazism. Hungarian and Austrian police have been cooperating closely in tracking down neo-Nazis in both countries. On 20-January Hungarian police launched investigations against a Hungarian neo-Nazi group which maintained links with Austrian neo-Nazis. The groups had sought to set up a "national-socialist state" and accumulated a stock of military equipment. (Edith Oltay) KLAUS SAYS PRIVATIZATION WILL GO AHEAD. Czechoslovak Finance Minister Vaclav Klaus says his plan to privatize large industries will proceed on schedule despite the disappearance of millions of investment vouchers. Klaus said both Czech and Slovak governments agreed that the plan could not be delayed any further. Under the plan the govern-ment has distributed investment vouchers which citizens can use to buy stock in corporations. Offi-cials suspect that investment funds and speculators got hold of the missing booklets. The vouchers must be registered by 31-January. Klaus is not considering any extension of the deadline, Western agencies reported on 20-January 1992. (Barbara Kroulik) FORMER GERMAN PROPERTY IN CZECHO-SLOVAKIA. Chancellor Helmut Kohl's Bavarian allies in the Christian Social Union Party demanded on 20-January 1992 that Bonn continue pressing for the return of former German property in Czechoslovakia. The CSU is protesting the sale of property once owned by ethnic Germans. Kohl rejected earlier CSU demands to include the property question in the friendship treaty with Prague that was initialled last October, Western agencies report. The German government's coalition parties are to discuss the disputes over the treaty on 21-January.(Barbara Kroulik) CZECHOSLOVAK TRUCK FIRM FOR PARTNERSHIP WITH IVECO. The Czechoslovak truck manufacturer Tatra has chosen Iveco European Group as its partner in a joint venture, reports said on 18-January. Tatra submitted the project to the Czech government for approval, Mlada Fronta dnes reported. Tatra will assemble around 6,000 Iveco lorries and produce 10,000 of its own four-, six-, and eight-wheel-drive trucks a year. The joint venture will start after Tatra is privatized in the spring of 1992. Recently Tatra criticized the terms of a Mercedes, Liaz, and Avia association as "unacceptable." (Barbara Kroulik) ILLEGAL CROSSINGS OF POLISH BORDERS INCREASE. On 20-January Border Guards spokesman Jaroslaw Zukowicz said that 524 people, including 440 Romanians, were detained last week while trying to enter Poland illegally. He added that guards stopped four Vietnamese attempting to cross the Polish-Lithuanian border. Meanwhile, German border police in Frankfurt-on-the-Oder said that some 120 people from third countries, mostly Romanians, Bulgarians, Indians, and Vietnamese, were caught last weekend trying to cross illegally from Poland into Germany. Western and Polish wire services carried the story. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) POLAND TO GET FUNDS TO PRESERVE FORESTS. Poland will receive $4.5 million from the Global Environment Fund to protect forests against decline. The Fund is sponsored by the World Bank and the UN. PAP reported on 20-January that the money is to be used to preserve trees in the Sudety Mountains and the primeval forest of the Bialowieza National Park in eastern Poland. In another development, a report for the EC published in Brussels on 20-January said that forests in Eastern Europe showed twice as much ecological damage as those in the EC countries. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) ROMANIAN DECREE ON WAGES STIRS CONTROVERSY. On 18-January four trade unions that did not participate in wage and salary negotiations with the government said that the official decision to increase the minimum wage is still insufficient and that the three unions that did participate-with no more than two million members-are in no way representative of the union affiliates. On 20-January Radu Campeanu, head of the National Liberal Party, and Geza Domokos, President of the Democratic Union of Romanian Hungarians, urged the unions to postpone their criticism until after the local elections scheduled for 9-February, Romanian media reported. (Mihai Sturdza) ROMANIA'S LEADERS ON ECONOMIC REFORM. President Ion Iliescu said on 20-January that the country's failure to attract large amounts of foreign aid was due to Romania's poor image abroad,-which, in turn, has made it difficult for the government to promote reform and improve living conditions. Prime Minister Theodor Stolojan warned the unions about stirring labor unrest through unceasing demands for higher wages, as salaries cannot be increased by repeated indexing unless production rises. There will be no compromise in the move towards market economy, Stolojan said. (Mihai Sturdza) BULGARIA AND THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE. Catherine Lalumi¸re, Secretary General of the Council of Europe (CE), accompanied by several officials, arrived in Sofia on 19-January for an information session on the CE that opened on 20-January. After her meeting with Foreign Minister Stoyan Ganev, BTA reported that three CE commissions will come to Bulgaria in March to prepare reports on the possibility of Bulgaria's association with the CE. Their findings will then be discussed at a session in Strasbourg beginning on 7-May. Among subjects Ganev discussed with Lalumi¸re were Bulgaria's recognition of four Yugoslav republics and its policy on ethnic minorities. (Rada Nikolaev) BULGARIA ESTABLISHES DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS WITH ARMENIA. Armenian Foreign Minister Raffi Hovannisian arrived in Sofia on 18-January on a previously unannounced two-day official visit. With his host Stoyan Ganev he signed a protocol on establishment of diplomatic relations. Bulgaria recognized Armenia on 24-December. BTA reported that a protocol on consultations between the two ministries was also signed and it was agreed later to sign a basic treaty on friendship and cooperation. Experts will prepare the opening of a direct Sofia-Erevan air link. (Rada Nikolaev) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Sallie Wise Chaballier & Charles Trumbull
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