|The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none. - Thomas Carlyle 1975-1881|
No. 14, 22 January 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO USSR LIMITED CEASE-FIRE AGREED IN GEORGIA. Troops loyal to Georgia's ruling Military Council took the town of Abasha on 21 January after a 14-hour gun battle in which at least five of their men were killed, Western news agencies reported the same day. Talks between Military Council leader Dzhaba Ioseliani and Zugdidi prefect and Gamsakhurdia supporter Valter Shurgaya ended in deadlock, according to Interfax of 21 January. A pro-Gamsakhurdia demonstration took place in the Black Sea port of Poti, but although the town's mayor Tengiz Baramidze subsequently agreed to a cease-fire TASS reported gunfire in the town later on the night of 21 January. It is not yet clear whether Gamsakhurdia supporters in Zugdidi complied with a deadline to lay down their arms by midnight local time on 21 January. (Liz Fuller) KAZAKHSTAN EXPLAINS MISSILE TEST. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev's press office has explained the launching of a ballistic missile from Baikonur on 20 December as an experiment in the conversion program, KazTAG-TASS reported on 21 January. A TASS report of the same day described the test as part of an effort to retool intercontinental missiles for launching space vehicles. The statement from Nazarbaev's office reiterated his commitment that the Baikonur facility should be used to benefit all members of the Commonwealth, adding that the issue would have to be resolved gradually in order to avoid chaos in the process of military reform. (Bess Brown) UZBEK PRESIDENT CALLS FOR CENTRAL ASIAN UNION. At a press conference 20 January, Uzbek President Islam Karimov called on leaders of the other Central Asian states to join him in creating a Central Asian union to overcome present economic difficulties, a Tashkent journalist reported to RFE/RL on 21 January. Karimov said that if the five states pooled their rich resources, they would be a strong and respected entity. He claimed that forces opposed to such a union had been behind the deaths of several students during riots in Tashkent last week. Karimov expressed considerable distrust of Russia, suggesting that the command of the unified CIS armed forces should be modeled on NATO and complaining that the head of the Russian military should not automatically head the Commonwealth forces. (Yakub Turan and Timur Kocaoglu) UZBEK STUDENTS TO INVESTIGATE RIOTS. Radio Rossii reported on 21 January that Uzbek student leaders have said that they will carry out their own investigation of the disturbances last week that resulted in as many as six deaths, because they disagree with the government's version of what occurred. RFE/RL has learned that the 22 January issue of the Erk Party newspaper contains an appeal from opposition writers and political figures, including Muhammad Salih, a member of the parliamentary commission investigating the disturbances, demanding that the commission's findings be made public. (Yakub Turan and Bess Brown) NEW OFFICERS' UNION CREATED. In the wake of the first All-Army Officers' Assembly, a new "patriotic" officers' association was formed in Moscow on 21 January, TASS and Novosti reported. Called the "Officers' Movement for the Revival of Russia," the new organization reportedly will attempt to influence the political process in order to insure that officers' problems are addressed. One of the group's organizers, Major General Aleksandr Sterligov (identified by Novosti as a personal aide to Russian Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi), said that participants at the initial meeting had criticized both perestroika and the current political course of the Russian government. He lamented Russia's current borders, the dissolution of the Soviet state, and the dismemberment of the army. (Stephen Foye) SHAPOSHNIKOV CANCELS VISIT TO US. CIS Commander in Chief Evgenii Shaposhnikov has cancelled an official visit to the US planned for the end of January, Interfax reported on 20 January. He instead will visit the US, during that same time period, as part of a delegation led by Russian President Boris Yeltsin. The report suggested that Shaposhnikov would meet with US Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney on 1 February. In Moscow, meanwhile, Shaposhnikov met on 20 January with British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd to discuss CIS military reforms and control over the CIS nuclear arsenal. (Stephen Foye) BELARUS COMMUNIST TO HEAD CIS WORKING GROUP. At last week's meeting of the CIS heads of state in Moscow, Ivan Karachenya, leader of the Communist majority in the Belarus Supreme Soviet, was chosen to head a working group tasked with the organization of meetings of the CIS Council of Heads of State and Council of Heads of Government. According to a report on 21 January to RFE/RL's Belarus service from its Minsk correspondent, Karachenya is also a member of a committee that is trying to organize a successor to the Communist Party of Belarus. He was proposed by Supreme Soviet Chairman Stanislau Shushkevich to head the CIS working group, possibly as a ploy to rid the Belarus parliament of a deputy who has proved to be an obstacle to progress. It remains to be seen whether CIS coordinating bodies will justify previous warnings by Belarus democrats that Minsk will be a bureaucratic "dumping ground." (Kathy Mihalisko) KRAVCHUK ON UKRAINIAN-RUSSIAN RELATIONS. Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk told French journalists on 21 January that Ukraine and Russia could resolve their differences amicably, Western news agencies reported the same day. Referring to the long history of ties between the two countries, Kravchuk said that he did not believe that differences could lead to an armed conflict. Although dismissing hasty conclusions that the CIS is not viable, the Ukrainian leader repeated earlier warnings that the Commonwealth would not prevail if its members reneged on their commitments. (Roman Solchanyk) UKRAINIAN ARMED FORCES UPDATE. According to Vasyl Durdinets, head of the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet committee on defense and security, 250,000 troops serving in Ukraine by now have sworn the new oath of loyalty to Ukraine. As reported on 22 January by CIS TV, however, there have been some important hold-outs: the commander of the Carpathian Military District did not participate in the oath ceremony, although his chief of staff, Gennadii Gurin, and other officers did. Durdinets decried recent calls in Moscow "for yet another transitional period, for a common defense space. . . ." (Kathy Mihalisko) GAIDAR: ECONOMY IMPROVING. According to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Egor Gaidar, prices in Russia have started to fall and the supply and variety of goods in the stores are improving, albeit slowly. TASS of 21 January reported Gaidar's remarks. Gaidar also said that the Russian budget deficit for the first quarter should amount to about 11.5 billion rubles. Russia (and several other former Soviet republics) are forming their 1992 budgets on a quarterly basis, due to the hyperinflation now gripping the region. Total expenditures for the first quarter of 1992 should not exceed some 409.2 billion rubles and incomes should total about 397.7-billion. Defense spending should fall by 4.5%. (John Tedstrom) RUSSIA, MOSCOW TO PUSH PRIVATIZATION. According to TASS reports of 17 and 21 January, both the Russian and Moscow governments are close to issuing new reform measures that will govern the privatization of stores and trade networks in Russia. In Moscow, the new government plans to privatize about 8,000 stores in the first half of the year. The Russian parliament is scheduled to adopt a new law on privatization within several days. It is not clear whether this new law will cover the privatization of larger state and municipal enterprises (they are covered under a law passed in July 1991 by the RSFSR Supreme Soviet) or just smaller firms and stores. The privatization of both land and housing in Russia is covered under separate legislation. (John Tedstrom) ENERGY PRODUCTION CONTINUES TO FALL. An energy crisis is slowly but surely encompassing virtually the entire territory of the former USSR. Several areas, including the Baltic, Kazakhstan,-and the Transcaucasus have reported serious energy deficits resulting in more frequent work stoppages and less energy for home heating this winter, according to reports from the region in the first half of January. Coal is in especially short supply in the Far East, while Belarus and Ukraine are suffering from shortages of fuel oil. For 1991, both oil and coal production were down 11% from the 1990 level, Central TV reported on 21 January. (John Tedstrom) COMMUNIST DEMONSTRATORS MARK LENIN'S DEATH. A gathering of communist supporters took place outside the Lenin Mausoleum in Red Square on 21 January to mark the 68th anniversary of Lenin's death, Western agencies reported. Between 100 and 200 demonstrators carried portraits of Lenin and denounced the reformers and the collapse of the USSR. The protest was also directed against repeated suggestions that Lenin's body be removed from the mausoleum. (Carla Thorson) LATEST NEWS ON COUP CASE. The August coup attempt was by no means a spontaneous affair, as some of its leaders claim, Russian General Prosecutor Valentin Stepankov asserted at his latest-news conference broadcast by "Vesti" on 21 January. In preceding months, Stepankov revealed, the putschists had prepared a package of documents annulling all the laws adopted in the USSR from 1985 to 1991 in order to return the country to the system that existed in 1984. According to "Vesti," the prosecution wants the coup trial to be open but could not give its exact date. In other news, Russian TV reported that another, third criminal case has been detached from that of the coup attempt, reportedly based on the testimony of one of the accused, who claims that one official on former USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev's team took bribes. (Julia Wishnevsky) PHONES OF YELTSIN'S OPPONENTS BUGGED? In Moscow News No. 2, Evgeniya Albats cites "well-informed sources" as claiming that the telephones of all actual and potential opponents of the Russian government-including its former allies-are bugged. Moreover, Albats adds, some telephones in the headquarters of the Russian Supreme Soviet are not secure either. This allegation could become particularly interesting, should the Russian authorities indeed charge Gorbachev for having sanctioned the bugging of his opponents' phones. (Julia Wishnevsky) BONN READY TO COMPROMISE ON SOVIET GERMAN AUTONOMY. Recognizing that there is no chance that the Volga German republic will be recreated in the immediate future, Horst Waffenschmidt, parliamentary state secretary in Germany's interior ministry, has said that the German government is willing to accept only limited autonomy for the Soviet Germans at present, RFE/RL's correspondent in Bonn reported on 20 January. Bonn has not, however, abandoned the goal of state autonomy. It wants the Germans to see their future in the former Soviet Union rather than in Germany. Following a visit to Moscow the foreign policy spokesman of the German Christian Democrats Karl-Heinz Hornhues also urged a compromise on the issue. (Michael Wall and Ann Sheehy) CAUCASIAN PARLIAMENT MEETS IN MAKHACHKALA. Following a session of the parliament of the Confederation of the Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus in Makhachkala, the confederation's president Yurii Shanibov said that the parliament was not an alternative to existing governments, "Vesti" reported on 21 January. Shanibov said its mission was rather to solve regional conflicts by peaceful means. Unfortunately, said Shanibov, there were no representatives of the Turkic peoples at the session (i.e. the Karachai, Balkars, and Nogais), nor were Cossack atamans invited, although tension was growing in the region. Radio Mayak reported on 20 January that the session had adopted a declaration stating the that North Caucasian republics could not be part of any empire and must strive for full state sovereignty. (Ann Sheehy) MOLDOVAN INTERIOR MINISTRY APPEALS TO HELSINKI FEDERATION. In an appeal addressed to the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, and reported by Moldovapres on 20 January, Moldova's Minister of Internal Affairs Ion Costas supplied a lengthy list of "armed provocations" mounted recently by "hardline communists" on the left bank of the Dniester against the lawful Moldovan authorities and also against families of Moldovan policemen and civil servants. Supported and armed by "reactionary circles in Moscow" and the military establishment, the "Dniester leaders are talking in the language of force and ultimatums to Moldova." Noting that the "Dniester" leaders were "trying artificially to create a confrontation between the Moldovan and the Russian-speaking population," the minister solicited "the attention of the international community" to the events on the left bank of the Dniester. (Vladimir Socor) "DNIESTER" FORCES AGAIN SEIZE MILITARY EQUIPMENT. An armed detachment of the "Dniester republican guard" in the right-bank city of Bendery on January 20 seized 41 military transport vehicles belonging to CIS military units stationed in Moldova and due to have been taken over by the republic, Moldovapres reported on 21-January. CIS officers and soldiers in the convoy made no attempt to interfere with the seizure. This was the third time in the last three weeks that the "Dniester" forces have seized a large quantity of military equipment due to have been taken over by Moldova. In two of the three cases, CIS military personnel appeared to be colluding with the "Dniester" forces. (Vladimir Socor) BALTIC STATES SAVISAAR STYMIED, MAY RESIGN. After two attempts, on 16 and 20-January, the Savisaar government is still unable to muster enough votes in the Supreme Council to approve a joint Supreme Council-government commission to administer the new state of emergency. According to the text of the state of emergency proposal passed last week, the Supreme Council must approve the commission before Savisaar may begin using his special powers. Given Savisaar's inability to form the commission and the opposition's newly strengthened position, many observers expect Savisaar to resign on 23-January. (Riina Kionka) PRESSURE BUILDS ON SAVISAAR. Political pressure continues to build for Savisaar's resignation. The Social Democratic Party, which includes Savisaar's closest former supporters, on 21-January called on the government to resign, according to ETA. The Social Democrats join the Liberal Democratic Party, the Estonian Trade Union Association and the election coalition Fatherland ("Pro Patria"), which have all condemned the state of emergency move in the last week. Savisaar's own party, the Popular Center Party, is also caving in. On 20-January, the head of the party's parliamentary faction, longtime Savisaar supporter Ignar Fjuk, said he was stepping down, BNS reports. Most significantly, a large and powerful group of deputies representing those who voted against the state of emergency will be registered today as a parliamentary faction, according to an interview broad-cast by RFE/RL on 20-January. This group, consisting mostly of those having belonged to the election coalition "Fatherland" and therefore borrows its name from the now defunct coalition, seems likely to form Estonia's new government. (Riina Kionka) BALTIC ASSEMBLY PLENARY SESSION THIS WEEKEND. Radio Riga and BNS reported on 21-January that the Baltic Assembly plenary session will open in Riga on 24-January. It will be the first joint meeting of the Baltic parliamentarians after the initial meeting in Tallinn last year and a document outlining the functions of the assembly is expected to be adopted. This session of the assembly is expected to be chaired by Latvian Supreme Council Chairman Anatolijs Gorbunovs, but subsequent sessions are expected to be chaired by his counterparts in Estonia and Lithuania, depending where the session takes place. (Dzintra Bungs) MIRONOV: SOVIET TROOP WITHDRAWAL CONDITIONAL ON HOUSING. On 21-January Col. Gen. Valerii Mironov, commander of the Northwestern Group of Forces, formerly the USSR Baltic Military District, told the press that these forces are now under the jurisdiction of Russia. He said the withdrawal of these forces would take place but that it must be handled via international accords and is conditional on the housing provided for the men. Mironov also said that at least five years would be needed for the withdrawal, reported Radio Riga and Diena on 21-January. (Dzintra Bungs) RUN ON SHOPS IN LATVIAN BORDER TOWNS. Diena reported on 16-January that Latvian communities near the Estonian and Russian borders had complained to Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis about a severe run on their shops by people across the border. This situation has become particularly acute for the towns on the Estonian border. Godmanis recommended issuing food coupons in Valka, but town authorities there decided instead to add another stamp on the "visiting cards"-an ID card permitting residents of a given community to shop in local stores-and told the shops to honor-only customers with proper identification. (Dzintra-Bungs) LANDSBERGIS IN LONDON. On 21-January Chairman of the Lithuanian Supreme Council Vytautas Landsbergis flew to London for a three-day visit, Radio Lithuania reported. On 22-January he will open the Lithuanian embassy in London and meet with Prime Minister John Major. On 23-January he will make the opening address at a two-day conference, "The Reintegration of the Baltic States into the World Community" sponsored by the three Baltic governments, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, and the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry. (Saulius Girnius) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE CZECHOSLOVAK PARLIAMENT REJECTS HAVEL'S AMENDMENT. The Czechoslovak parliament on 21-January rejected two of the five amendments proposed by President Vaclav Havel, Czechoslovak and foreign media report. The parliament voted down a draft procedure on a new constitution and Havel's proposal to call a referendum on whether Slovakia would remain in the federal state. Havel had proposed that a new constitution be adopted only after it is approved by the Czech and Slovak parliaments, but both Czech and Slovak deputies opposed the move. The Slovak deputies also voted heavily against the amendment for a referendum, which, however, was backed by the Czech part of the house. The other amendments-a proposal to increase presidential powers, a draft electoral law on proportional representation, and a proposal to create a new, one-chamber parliament-will be debated later this week. (Barbara Kroulik) CZECHOSLOVAKIA'S COUPON PRIVATIZATION. Czechoslovaks are dashing to buy privatization coupons, as the government is about to divide ownership of about 40% of the economy to citizens who register. Any Czechoslovak over 18 can buy the book of coupons for about $35 and must register it by 31-January. The coupons can later be exchanged for shares in state companies that are being privatized. Government offices have had to stay open late as interest has picked up in recent weeks. There have been a number of problems. Most offices have run out of coupons and there have been suspicions of abuse. Some of the new investment funds have bought millions of books for speculation and recently it was discovered that of the eight million books printed only three million have been registered, Western media report. (Barbara Kroulik) RUN ON POLAND'S FIRST PRIVATE BANK. Thousands of people rushed to withdraw their savings from one of Poland's first private banks after Gazeta wyborcza reported that its founder, David Bogatin is wanted for tax evasion in New York. The run on the First Commercial Bank in Lublin started on 18-January when the paper claimed that Bogatin, a Soviet emigre and the bank's majority shareholder, fled a possible prison sentence in the US. He is charged with tax fraud for buying and reselling gasoline without declaring taxes. Since the story appeared, thousands of customers lined up at his bank's 14-branches for withdrawals. Spokesman for the National Bank of Poland Tomasz Uchman admitted that Bogatin's background had not been checked before a license was issued in November 1990. (Wladyslaw-Minkiewicz) SOLIDARITY RELENTS. Meeting behind closed doors on 21-January, the Solidarity leadership voted to hold talks with the new Polish government-without prior conditions, a major concession for the union. Solidarity had initially demanded that the government "suspend" the electricity and home heating price increases introduced on 1-January, before it would agree to participate in any negotiations. According to Solidarity figures, some 80% of Poland's work places had followed the union's call for a one-hour warning strike on 13-January to protest the manner in which the price hikes were imposed (without legally mandated consultations with the trade unions). The union had also begun a referendum among its rank and file to test support for a general strike. Personal appeals by the prime minister and the government's argument that the price hikes were essential to limit the budget deficit seem to have swayed the union. (Louisa Vinton) HUNGARIAN-AMERICAN MILITARY TALKS. Hungarian Political State Secretary in the Ministry of Defense, Erno Raffay, and US Secretary of the Air Force Donald B. Rice, held talks in Budapest on 21-January on developing bilateral military ties, MTI reported. Rice invited Hungarian military experts to the US for training in civilian and military air traffic control. He said that the major goal of his visit is to impart American experiences regarding the functioning of a professional military under civilian control. Rice stressed US interest in the success of democratic transforma-tion in Hungary, which he called the region's most stable country. (Edith Oltay) HOW FAIR ARE ROMANIAN POLLS? Nicolae Manolescu, president of the opposition Civic Alliance Party and an opponent of President Ion Iliescu in the next presidential race, said on 20-January that the Romanian Institute for Public Opinion Polls (IRSOP) has failed to provide forecasts for the local elections of 9-February and is loosing credibility. Meanwhile, a report by the International Republican Institute, a US-based body, funded by the Republican Party, that monitors the democratic process around the world, said that the local elections are unlikely to be free and fair. It reinforced claims from Romania's opposition that ex-communists in the leadership are obstructing real democracy, Western media said. (Mihai Sturdza) ILIESCU ON MOLDOVA. In his strongest comment yet on the neighboring republic of Moldova, President Ion Iliescu said on 20-January that the process of Moldova's unification with Romania is inevitable. He also said, however, that Romania should not press the issue but rather wait for Moldova to initiate a move towards unification. (Mihai Sturdza) UDF ASSESSES PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. The National Coordinating Council of the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF), whose candidate won the presidential election, stated on 21-January that the voters supported the team best able to lead the country to democratization. UDF spokesman Mihail Nedelchev, as quoted by BTA, also said that the BSP electorate remained firm and many people are discontent with the slow process of reform. The UDF has asked a team of specialists for an analysis of the election results on which it can base its future activities. A national conference of the UDF scheduled for February was postponed until April, Nedelchev said. Meanwhile, the official final results of the presidential elections were announced. Zhelev-Dimitrova won with 52.8% of the vote and Valkanov-Vodenicharov scored 47.1%. Voter turnout was 75.9%. (Rada Nikolaev) BULGARIAN NUCLEAR POWER, GAS PROBLEMS. On 20-January BTA announced that the first of the two 1,000-megawatt nuclear reactors at Kozloduy, which had been closed for repair for eight months, was being switched on again. Only a day later BTA reported a technical failure in the second, new 1,000-megawatt reactor which, it said, did not involve radioactive material. It was hoped to repair it within 24-hours but temporary rationing of electric power for households was imposed. In another development, on 21-January Ukrainian specialists succeeded in sealing off a natural gas well at Butan burning since 11-January. The well erupted under high pressure during drilling, and some 1,000,000-m3 of gas were lost. (Rada Nikolaev) YUGOSLAV UPDATE. Talks in Pecs, Hungary, between representatives of Croatia and the Serbian-dominated federal army broke down on 21-January. Austrian TV said the two sides talked past each other, with Croatia wanting to discuss the army's withdrawal from Croatian territory and the army preferring to raise charges of Croatian violations of the existing cease-fire. An RFE/RL correspondent said that Croatia wants the army to evacuate that republic altogether, while the army has called for a "high-level political decision" first as to whether it is to leave parts of Croatia where UN peace-keeping troops will not be deployed. On the diplomatic front, ATA said that Albania has recognized Croatia and Slovenia, having earlier recognized Kosovo's independence, the only country to do so. (Patrick Moore) THE WAGES OF WAR. Citing a federal government official, Tanjug reports on 21-January that the rate of inflation in 1991 for Yugoslavia as a whole exceeded 1,000%. Price hikes of up to 50% were reported last week on basic food items, coffee, and alcoholic drinks as well as mail and telephone services. Yugoslav media report that almost 40% of Yugoslavs live at or below subsistence levels, that the GNP has fallen more than 25%, and almost 60% of Yugoslav companies are showing losses. Croatia and Slovenia had normally accounted for some 45% of Yugoslavia's GNP and their separation can only exacerbate the economic situation in the rest of the country. The war in Croatia has cost the country more than $25-billion in lost revenues. (Milan-Andrejevich) [As of 1200 CET] CORRECTION In the Daily Report of 21-January Turkish deputy prime minister Erdal InšnŸ was erroneously identified as foreign minister. Hikmet Cetin is Turkish foreign minister. Compiled by Sallie Wise Chaballier & Charles Trumbull
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