|The trouble with being punctual is that nobody's there to appreciate it. - Franklin P. Jones|
No. 16, 24 January 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO USSR RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT DEMANDS RETHINK ON CRIMEA. A week after temporarily shelving the issue, Russian deputies voted on 23 January by 166 to 13 with eight abstentions to reconsider the constitutionality of the 1954 transfer of Crimea from the RSFSR to Ukraine, Western agencies reported on 23 January. The parliamentary committees for foreign affairs and legislation were instructed to examine the legitimacy of the transfer and present their findings by 6 February. The Russian deputies asked the Ukrainian parliament to reexamine the issue as well, and also asked Ukraine to "accelerate negotiations on all issues relating to the Black Sea Fleet." (Ann Sheehy) SECRET LETTER SUGGESTS CRIMEA BARGAINING CHIP. The Toronto Globe and Mail reported on 23 January that a secret letter from Vladimir Lukin, chairman of the Russian parliament's Committee for Foreign Affairs, to the parliament's chairman Ruslan Khasbulatov, just published in Komsomolskaya pravda suggested that Ukraine should be given the choice of giving up either the Black Sea Fleet or the Crimea. According to the Mail, the letter argued that concessions to Ukraine over the Black Sea Fleet would play into the hands of hard-line Russian nationalists. At one point the letter suggested that perhaps Russia should simply issue a decree transferring the fleet to Russian jurisdiction and at another that Ukrainian factories might be threatened with loss of military orders. (Ann Sheehy) BLACK SEA FLEET UPDATE. CIS Commander in Chief Evgenii Shaposhnikov has proposed assigning to Ukraine only 7% of the Black Sea Fleet, TASS reported on 23 January. At a news conference in Kiev on 23 January, described by the same report, Lieutenant General Ivan Bizhan-identified as head of the Ukrainian delegation conducting talks on the future Ukrainian army-and Vitalii Lazorkin-a Ukrainian Defense Ministry consultant- continued to argue that Ukraine should receive all the fleet except for strategic units. They also proposed a plan whereby Ukraine would receive the entire fleet and would coordinate its actions with the CIS armed forces on strategic tasks until 1994, when Ukraine will become a non-nuclear power. (Stephen Foye) GEORGIAN STALEMATE. Supporters of ousted Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia in the Black Sea port of Poti intend to continue resistance to the ruling Military Council and have threatened to blow up parts of the town in spite of local authorities' desire to negotiate a settlement, Western news agencies reported on 23 January. Gamsakhurdia supporters in Zugdidi reached an agreement with Military Council troops to dissolve the existing local council and replace it with a committee representing opposition parties. The Consultative Council that advises acting Georgian Prime Minister Tengiz Sigua met on January 23 and agreed that new parliamentary elections should be held, but set no date, TASS reported on 23 January. (Liz Fuller) CIS PARLIAMENTARY LEADERS TO MEET IN MINSK. Deputy chairmen of the CIS parliaments are to meet in Minsk on 24 January to discuss closer cooperation between the parliaments, TASS, Interfax, and Central TV reported on 23 January. Deputy Chairman of the Belarus parliament Vasilii Sholodonov said they intend to sign an agreement to institute a CIS economic court and agreements on organizing coordinating structures for the commonwealth. Interfax said Belarus would request the speedy development and implementation of republican anti-monopoly laws. First Deputy Chairman of the Russian parliament Sergei Filatov said on Central TV that questions of citizenship, pensions, and housing need legislative regulation. (Ann Sheehy) OFFICERS' COUNCIL TO MEET. The coordinating council of the all-army officers' assemblies is scheduled to meet for the first time in Moscow on 29 January, TASS reported on 23 January. The council, which consists of 120 people elected by the recent All-Army Officers' Assembly, will elect a seven or eight-man presidium, to work on a permanent basis, a council official said. (Stephen Foye) GOVERNMENT NEWS AGENCY SET UP IN RUSSIA. TASS and Novosti press agencies have been merged into the new Russian Information and Telegraph Agency (RITA), Russian President Boris Yeltsin announced in a decree on 22 January. According to the decree, the agency will be subordinated to the Russian president, the parliament, and the government. Within the new agency, TASS will prepare reports for the domestic audience and the CIS, whereas Novosti will write news for distribution abroad. The Russian Information Agency (RIA), which was set up in 1990, will continue to exist as a private company. On 23 January, a TASS correspondent reported that the new move was heavily criticized by local journalists as well as by representatives of Western agencies, who said the merger of two news agencies with different aims will only bring confusion to their work. On 22 January, the Russian parliamentary Media Committee urged Yeltsin to suspend his controversial decree, Interfax reported. (Vera Tolz) DEMOCRATIC RUSSIA SPLITS. A number of leaders of the Democratic Russia political movement have suspended their membership in the movement. They include Democratic Russia's co-chairman Yurii Afanasev, its theorist Leonid Batkin, a coeditor of its newspaper, Demo-kraticheskaya Rossiya, and an activist of the miners' movement Bella Denisenko. According to "Vesti" of 23 January, the dissenters protested the alleged mixing up of the movement's leaders with "reactionary forces." Radio Mayak of the same day cited Afanasev and his supporters as "accusing other leaders of all the mortal sins," such as lobbying [Moscow Mayor] Gavriil Popov, who combines co-chairmanship in Democratic Russia with the same post in the Democratic Reform Movement. Mayak said that Afanasev and his colleagues want to call an extraordinary congress of Democratic Russia, aimed at reelecting the movement's leadership. (Julia Wishnevsky) GORBACHEV MAY BE QUESTIONED OVER CPSU FINANCES. Deputy Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation Evgenii Lisov told Rossiiskaya gazeta on 23 January that former USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev should be interrogated in connection with the investigation of the CPSU's financial activities which is now underway in Russia. Lisov said that hundreds of millions of dollars secretly had been paid by the CPSU over the last ten years to Communist parties around the world and that Gorbachev could shed light on these particular activities. Meanwhile, a former official of the CPSU CC International Department, Anatolii Smirnov, told a western agency on 23 January that the Party had paid out about $20 million a year since 1978 to more than 80 Communist parties and movements worldwide. (Vera Tolz) RUSSIAN RAILWAY MINISTRY ESTABLISHED. Yeltsin issued a decree on 22 January establishing a railway ministry of the Russian Federation. Russian TV reported that the new ministry would take over the assets of the former Soviet railway ministry. Gennadii Fadeev was appointed Russian railway minister. (Carla Thorson) RUSSIAN ECOLOGICAL CRISIS. Aleksei Yablokov, Russian presidential adviser on ecology and health, told reporters that Russia's deteriorating environment is directly responsible for declining life expectancies, TASS reported on 22 January. Yablokov revealed the results of a government study which found two thirds of Russian rivers, lakes, and reservoirs to be too polluted for use as drinking water. The report also found that 30% of food produced in Russia is contaminated by pesticides. (Carla Thorson) RUSSIA, VIETNAM TO DISCUSS WITHDRAWAL FROM CAM RANH BAY. A Russian diplomat, requesting anonymity, told reporters in Hanoi on 23 January that Russia plans to send a military delegation to Vietnam to negotiate a withdrawal from the base at Cam Ranh Bay, and that former Soviet military advisers still in Vietnam will leave by this May. Western agency reports of 23 January quoted the diplomat as saying "We're ready to leave. There's no problem," although he did not specify how long the withdrawal would take. (Sallie Wise Chaballier) BAKATIN: "I DID NOT OVERCOME THE KGB." The 18 January edition of "Sovershenno sekretno" contained a 30-minute interview with Vadim Bakatin, the now unemployed former chairman of the USSR KGB. The State Council named Bakatin to chair the KGB after the August coup attempt with the task of crushing this "state within the state." Bakatin resigned his job last December, having been accused of "high treason" in the media after he offered the American ambassador the blueprint for bugging in the new US Embassy building in Moscow. In the interview, Bakatin said that the campaign against him was unleashed by the Russian KGB in revenge for his attempt to reform the agency. He added that the KGB still enjoys much influence even in the "democratic" newspapers, which have published every self-proclaimed "expert" wiling to attack him, but not his official explanation. (Julia Wishnevsky) NEW DATA ON "COOPERATION" OF CHURCH AND KGB. Chairman of the Russian Supreme Soviet's Committee on Denominations and Freedom of Religion Vyacheslav Polosin asserted to Megapolis ekspress of 21 January that many clergymen of the Russian Orthodox Church, including its top hierarchs, were agents of the former KGB's Fifth Main Administration for Ideological Subversion (FMA). Among the churchmen Polosin identified as active KGB agents were Chief of the Russian Orthodox Church's Publications Department, Metropolitian Pitirim, and the Metropolitan of Krutitsi and Kolomna, Yuvenalii. The information became available after documents from the Fourth ("Religious") Department of the KGB FMA and the CPSU Central Committee were declassified. Polosin also alleged that in 1983, due to efforts of the KGB network within the World Council of Churches, Emilio Castro was elected as the body's General Secretary; a KGB report described Castro as "a candidate acceptable to us." (Victor Yasmann) KRAVCHUK ON CIS. Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk told Le Figaro that there would never be an armed clash between Ukraine and Russia. The interview with Kravchuk was published on 23 January and summarized by TASS the same day. The Ukrainian leader also warned that the CIS would not last long if one of its members attempted to play a dominant role. (Roman Solchanyk) AUTONOMISTS IN ZAKARPATTYA. Representatives of the Transcarpathian Ruthenian Society want the Czechoslovak parliament to annul the 1945 Czechoslovak-Soviet treaty transferring Transcar-pathia to the USSR, Radio Kiev reported on 23 January. The request was made to members of the foreign affairs committees of the Czechoslovak federal parliament on Wednesday. Czechoslavak parliamentarians are said to consider the request inappropriate. Both Ukraine and Hungary have protested. (Roman Solchanyk) SHUSHKEVICH METES OUT PUNISHMENT TO OPPOSITION. As reported on 17 January by Belarus radio and on CIS TV on 21 January, Supreme Soviet Chairman Stanislau Shushkevich seems to be settling scores with deputies from the parliamentary opposition who two months ago signed a statement calling for the resignation of the government and the disbanding of the Supreme Soviet: he has refused to give them their quarterly bonus payment, on the grounds of poor fulfillment of parliamentary duties. (Kathy Mihalisko) KAZAKHSTAN WANTS TO MONITOR BAIKONUR. Kazakhstan intends to demand the right to monitor operations at the Baikonur space center and associated military facilities, Interfax reported on 23 January. The agency quoted Deputy Prime Minister Evgenii Ezhikov-Babakhanov as saying that the issue would soon be raised with the Commonwealth military. The decision of the Kazakh government to demand monitoring rights is probably in response to the scandal caused by the launch of a ballistic missile in December. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev tried to assert some degree of influence over Baikonur even before the republic declared itself sovereign in 1990; in early 1991 he discussed the issue with relevant Moscow ministries and stated publicly that the complex should benefit Kazakhstan. (Bess Brown) RUSSIA TO PAY WORLD PRICES FOR TURKMEN GAS. Russia has agreed to pay Turkmenistan world prices in convertible currency for the gas Turkmenistan exports to the Russian Federation, Turkmenpress-TASS reported on 22 January. Turkmenistan is to ship 11.28 billion cubic meters of gas to Russia in 1992. Earnings from the sales are to be used, in part, to further develop Turkmenistan's gas industry. (Bess Brown) MOLDOVA INTRODUCING OWN CURRENCY. Moldova's Parliament voted on 23 January to institute Moldova's own currency, the "Moldovan leu" (plural: lei), to replace the ruble. "Leu" is the name of Romania's currency but also of a coin which was the most common unit of accounting until the last century in Moldova. The parliament opted for the name "Moldovan leu" in order to differentiate it from the Romanian. Moldova's National Bank is to put the new currency in circulation within four months. The measure had been promised by the government of Prime Minister Valeriu Muravschi upon taking office in May 1991. Implementation was accelerated by the perceived need to defend Moldova's consumer market against the influx of devalued rubles soaking up Moldovan goods. (Vladimir Socor) BALTIC STATES REPAYMENT OF FORMER USSR DEBTS. On 23-January Vytautas Landsbergis told the opening session of a conference in London entitled "The Reintegration of the Baltic States into the World Community" that Lithuania was not responsible for any part of the debt of the former USSR because it was never legally part of it, Western agencies reported. He noted, however, that Lithuania would agree to pay credits of about $100 million that had been obtained "directly for Lithuanian economic projects." The Supreme Council chairman criticized the West for "suggestions, even threats of not granting assistance" if Lithuania did not pay back part of the USSR debt. Lithuania has already printed its own currency, the litas, but needs a large hard-currency stabilization fund, similar to that given to Poland two years ago, to back its introduction. (Saulius Girnius) DENMARK TO PROPOSE EC CREDIT LINES FOR BALTICS. On 23-January Denmark's Foreign Minister Uffe Ellemann-Jensen told CNN that he was "deeply worried but not at all surprised" by the fall of the Estonian government. He noted that all three Baltic States were "in a very dangerous situation" and are "in desperate need of international assistance." He said that at the 27-January meeting of EC foreign ministers he would propose the EC "take the initiative to establish credit lines for the three Baltic countries." (Saulius Girnius) FUEL DELIVERIES FOR ESTONIA. Agreements concluded in recent days with Estonia's neighbors will alleviate somewhat the country's nearly critical fuel shortage. The Finnish government agreed on 22-January to provide credits of $10.4-11.5 million to a Finnish energy group to ship some 100,000 tons of heavy fuel oil to Estonia soon. On 20-January Sweden pledged to donate nearly $700,000 worth of oil, and 2.5-tons of fuel arrived in Tallinn on 22-January. Finally, on 20-January Estonian officials came to an agreement with the Russian Federation to take delivery of $60-million worth of heating oil, diesel fuel, and gasoline. Western and Baltic agencies reported the agreements. (Riina Kionka) ESTONIA TAKES OVER MILITARY PROPERTY. The Estonian Supreme Council on 23-January ordered all property belonging to the former Soviet armed forces to be turned over to the Estonian state. The resolution covers land, buildings, arms, and other equipment. The action was taken in response to violations of a September agreement between outgoing Prime Minister Edgar Savisaar and Soviet Defense Minister Shaposhnikov by units withdrawing from Estonia. According to the terms of that agreement, all equipment from the former armed forces was to remain in Estonia. (Riina Kionka) CIS MILITARY KEEPS INCOME FROM EQUIPMENT SALES. Col. Gen. Valerii Mironov, commander of the Northwestern Group of Forces, said that he considers all Soviet military equipment in the Baltics the property of the forces he commands. He said that the income from the recent sales of military equipment is deposited in a special bank account, called the "Commander's Fund." This fund is intended to ensure the social welfare of the forces that would have to be withdrawn from the Baltic States, BNS reported on 22-January. The Latvian government, which has no control over such sale of military equipment, is concerned about the legality and the practical consequences of these actions. (Dzintra Bungs) IRANIANS TRAINED BY FORMER SOVIET NAVY IN LATVIA. Latvian Defense Ministry official Auseklis Plavins told an RFE/RL correspondent on 23-January that Latvia has demanded an end to the training of 600-700 Iranian officers at Bolderaja, a base near Riga of the former USSR navy. Plavins said that the Iranians are attending a two-year course. What Plavins said substantiates US naval intelligence reports that Iran is buying new attack submarines from the CIS and having its sailors trained in Latvia. In fall 1990 Latvia protested Soviet Navy training of Iraqis at Bolderaja. (Dzintra Bungs) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE POLISH PRESIDENT APPEALS FOR AID FOR CIS STATES-.-.-. On 24-January Lech Walesa appealed for large-scale aid to the CIS states to prevent a mass exodus of "hungry refugees," adding that "misery" in the states of the former USSR could lead to a flood of people wanting to go to Poland. Saying that Poles have not got much to share with CIS refugees, he warned that Poland would transport such refugees to "Japan or the West" rather than bear the burden of feeding them, Western media reported. "I will give them every possible means of transport," he added. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) .-.-. MEETS POLISH PREMIER AND HIS TWO PREDECESSORS. Walesa hosted a dinner on 24-January for Prime Minister Jan Olszewski and his two predecessors, Tadeusz Mazowiecki and Jan Krzysztof Bielecki, both old Solidarity associates, in a bid to strengthen the country's minority government. Presidential spokesman Andrzej Drzycimski said only that they discussed Poland's "political, economic, and social situation," PAP and Western media reported. The president told his guests that for the good of the nation, political frictions between them should be minimized and stressed the need for the three parties to form an alliance of reformist forces. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) POLAND CONCERNED ABOUT RUSSIAN FUEL DELIVERIES. On 24-January Prime Minister Olszewski said Poland faced an energy shortage because of falling supplies of Russian oil and natural gas, Western media reported. He told newsmen he phoned a Russian economic leader [unnamed] to discuss the problem, adding "there are difficulties concerning Russian oil and gas supplies." On 1-January Russia nearly halved its daily deliveries of natural gas to Poland, despite having agreed a few days earlier to a major barter deal that would have increased supplies in 1992. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) CZECHOSLOVAK PARLIAMENT ADJOURNS DEBATE ON CONSTITUTIONAL REFORMS. The Czechoslovak parliament on 23-January postponed until February the debate on constitutional reform because of new differences of opinion between Czechs and Slovaks on the future state setup. The planned constitutional changes can only be completed when the so-called state treaty between both republics is ready. The text of the treaty was discussed by republican parliament chairmen and will be submitted to the federal parliament. The question of who will sign the state treaty is still open as well. The Slovaks want the contract to be signed by republican government heads, while the Czechs want it to be done by the parliament. Czech Deputy Parliament Chief Jan Kalvoda sees little reason for optimism as the differences seem too great, foreign agencies report. (Barbara Kroulik) CZECHOSLOVAK PRIVATIZATION UPDATE. Because of great demand for state-issued privatization coupons, the government has extended the deadline for their registration until 29-February. The coupons are bought for use later in purchasing stock in companies, part of the plan to privatize a large part of state-owned industry by divesting ownership to Czechoslovak citizens. The total number of registered coupon-holders is expected to reach seven million, Western agencies report. (Barbara Kroulik) HUNGARIAN NATIONAL MILITARY CONCEPT DEBATE POSTPONED. The national defense committee of the Hungarian parliament has postponed the much delayed discussion of the basic principles of Hungary's new military concept. (The term "concept" is being used in place of "doctrine" to avoid association with former Warsaw Pact military doctrine.) The postponement was due to the withdrawal by the foreign ministry of its proposals regarding Hungary's national security because of the many important changes that have taken place of late in the region, MTI reported on 23-January. (Alfred Reisch) HUNGARY SEEKS TO IMPROVE RELATIONS WITH SERBIA. Officials of the Hungarian Foreign Ministry and the Ministry for International Economic Relations told an RFE/RL correspondent on 23-January that Hungary is seeking to improve relations with Serbia and that there are signs that certain elements in Belgrade are willing to reciprocate. The officials referred to a recent conciliatory statement by the vice president of Serbia's ruling Socialist Party, Mihajlo Markovic, to MTI as a sign that Belgrade also wants to improve relations. Hungarian-Serbian relations have been marked by tensions throughout the civil war, with Hungary accusing Serbia of discriminating against the Hungarian minority in Vojvodina, and Serbia charging that Hungary is aiding Croatia. Hungarian officials pointed out that Serbia accounted for fully one-half of Hungary's trade with the former Yugoslavia. (Edith Oltay) ROMANIA'S RELATIONS WITH USSR SUCCESSOR STATES. Foreign Ministry spokesman Traian Chebeleu said on 22-January that the treaty concluded between Romania and the USSR was null and void, as the USSR no longer exists. He added that the talks with Ukraine will not include the topic of Northern Bukovina and Herta in order to concentrate on the establishment of normal links. On 24-January, the meeting in Iasi of the Union Council, a group fostering union with Moldova, will be attended by dignitaries from both states. President Ion Iliescu will meet Moldova's President Mircea Snegur on 25-January to discuss international and bilateral issues. (Mihai Sturdza) CONTRADICTING STATISTICS ON UNEMPLOYMENT IN ROMANIA. Some 302,041 unemployed, including 173,950 women, were registered by the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare by 20-January. Of these, 255,087 were industrial workers, Rompres said. On 17-January, however, Western agencies reported figures of 359,671 unemployed, of which 290,000 are entitled for a nine-month period to receive benefits amounting to 60% of their most recent salary. Some 40,000 new jobs had been provided through labor offices in 1991, and 1,500 jobs are currently unfilled. The Western reports speculated that actual figures are quite different, as many enterprises report hirings and firings inaccurately or not, and hundreds of thousands of Romanians are looking for a job but have not registered with the authorities. (Mihai Sturdza) BULGARIA AT WASHINGTON CONFERENCE. Foreign Minister Stoyan Ganev participated in the conference on aid to the CIS and was introduced to President Bush by German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher on 22-January. Bulgarian Radio said that at the conference Ganev had spoken about the desirability of including Bulgaria in triangular aid schemes for the CIS, and said his country could help with housing construction, transport, and in the food and pharmaceutical industries. RFE/RL reported that Bulgaria also suggested setting up an international center in Varna to coordinate aid. (Rada Nikolaev) MACEDONIA "LEFT IN THE WAITING ROOM." This is how President Kiro Gligorov summed up his feelings to Western news agencies on 23-January about the EC's delay in recommending recognition for his country. The 24-January Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung quotes Portuguese Foreign Minister Jočo de Deus Pinheiro as saying that recognition for Bosnia-Herzegovina is likely after its upcoming referendum, but that Greek opposition makes a similar recommendation for Macedonia unlikely. On 23-January Western news agencies also reported that Albanian Foreign Minister Ilir Bocka briefly visited Skopje en route to Turkey for talks with Gligorov and representatives of the ethnic Albanian minority . Meanwhile in Ankara, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic told Western news agencies that countries that have not already done so should not recognize Slovenia and Croatia. He advised against "premature recognition" before a "negotiating process [could bring] a peaceful solution . . . without additional pressure from outside." (Patrick Moore) REGIONAL COOPERATION. On 23-January Vienna's Die Presse said that the Hexagonal Group promoting regional cooperation in Central Europe dropped Yugoslavia from the rotating chairmanship in favor of Austria. The body grew out of the Alpine-Adria grouping and will soon be rechristened the Central European Initiative. As late as 1989 the group consisted of "regions," including Croatia and Slovenia, but in November of that year was expanded to embrace entire countries. It is thus likely that Croatia and Slovenia will eventually replace "Yugoslavia" as full members soon. Elsewhere, following a two-day meeting in Nyiregyhaza, Hungary, top officials from neighboring counties in Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Ukraine agreed to set up a new regional economic community called Carpathians-Tisza and modelled after the Alpine-Adria regional economic community. MTI reported on 23-January that the founding document is expected to be signed on 24-April 1992. Regional cooperation based on mutual benefits will cover the fields of the economy, cultural, science, tourism, territorial settlement, information and environmental protection. (Patrick Moore & Alfred Reisch) As of 1200 CET Compiled by Sallie Wise Chaballier and Charles Trumbull
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