|When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years. - Mark Twain|
No. 17, 27 January 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO USSR RUSSIAN BUDGET APPROVED. On 24 January, the Russian Parliament approved a (nearly) balanced budget for the first quarter of 1992, Western agencies reported that day. The deficit is planned at 11.5 billion rubles (about 1% of GNP)-although CIS media did not refer to any deficit at all-compared with an RSFSR budget deficit of 108.4 billion rubles (or 17% of GNP) in 1991. In his presentation of the proposed budget, Russian Deputy Premier Egor Gaidar said that defense expenditure would be cut to about 50 billion rubles, or 4.5% of the GNP. Military procurements would be less than one-seventh of the 1991 level, but more would be spent on servicemen's welfare. Credits of 10 billion rubles were approved to assist conversion. (Keith Bush) UKRAINIAN REACTION TO CRIMEA CLAIM. Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk and Foreign Minister Anatolii Zlenko have both rejected Russian claims to Crimea, TASS reported on 24 January. Kravchuk said that the decision to transfer Crimea to Ukraine was taken by the Supreme Soviets of the USSR and Ukraine and affirmed by the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet. Moreover, he argued, the 1 December referendum results in Crimea showed that the majority of the Crimeans wished to remain in Ukraine. Zlenko also referred to the referendum results, stating that Ukraine rejects all territorial claims wherever they may originate. (Roman Solchanyk) YELTSIN SAID NOT TO BACK CRIMEA CLAIM. Ukrainian Prime Minister Vitold Fokin says that his discussion with Russian President Boris Yeltsin on the Crimean issue has led him to conclude that the Russian leader does not support those Russian deputies campaigning for Crimea's return to Russia, TASS reported on 25 January. Fokin was in Moscow at the head of a delegation of Ukrainian miners and leaders of industrial enterprises. And in an interview with the news program "Novosti" the same day, Yeltsin advisor Galina Starovoitova maintained that the Russian president had no part in the initiative to review Crimea's status. (Roman Solchanyk) "GENERAL INSPECTORS" ABOLISHED. By a presidential decree dated 11 January, Boris Yeltsin has abolished the so-called Group of General Inspectors, retiring 53 marshals and army generals, Izvestia reported on 24 January. Also discharged were 62 lieutenants and officers up to the rank of colonel who were serving as orderlies and staffers to the senior group. Other benefits enjoyed by the inspectors have also been removed, including thirty-five black "Volga" cars and a number of dachas. Izvestia also provided a brief history of the group, noting that it was established in 1958 and characterizing it as a sinecure or "paradise" by which senior commanders could go into semi-retirement while retaining all the benefits of service. In 1988, the newspaper said, then Defense Minister Dmitrii Yazov cut the group in half. (Stephen Foye) FOUR MARSHALS NOT EFFECTED. The Yeltsin decree reportedly did not effect the status of four marshals, who remain "consultants and advisors" to the CIS central command. They are: Sergei Sokolov, Viktor Kulikov, Vasilii Petrov, and Nikolai Ogarkov. (Stephen Foye) BELARUS WANTS TO BE FIRST NUCLEAR-FREE STATE IN CIS. In remarks quoted on 26 January by Western and CIS agencies, the deputy chairman of the security committee of the Belarus parliament, Leonid Privalau, said that the first batch of tactical nuclear weapons has left Belarus for Russia, where eventually they will be destroyed. Like Ukraine, Belarus hopes to withdraw all such weapons by 1-July. Foreign Minister Petr Krauchenka said that day that his government wants Belarus to be the first nuclear-free member of the CIS. Privalau indicated that Belarus would be free of its long-range missiles by 1996 or 1997. (Kathy Mihalisko) DEFENSE OFFICIAL SAYS ARMY WILL BE HALVED. Aleksandr Tsalko, a top Russian Defense official, said in Oslo on 23 January that because of economic problems Russia must cut its army by half in the next two years. Tsalko and another Russian defense official, Vitalii Shlykov, were in Norway on an official visit, Western agencies reported. Tsalko also said that Russia could not afford to withdraw its forces from the Baltic republics before 1994, and that to force the pace could have dangerous consequences. Shlykov reportedly talked about the problems involved in opening up the former Soviet Union's "closed cities," including the so-called "nuclear cities." He said that some 1.5-million people live in these cities, and that some have been cut off from outside contact for 40 years. (Stephen Foye) NEW MOSCOW GOVERNMENT FORMED. A new cabinet of the Moscow government held a press conference in Moscow on 24 January, Russian TV reported that day. Two weeks ago Deputy Mayor Yurii Luzhkov announced the disbandment of the old city government and the creation of a new cabinet of economic reforms. The television said, however, that the overwhelming majority of the new cabinet members served in the old government. This applies even to Boris Nikolsky, whose presents in the old government was criticized. Nikolsky's prestige is very low due since he was second secretary of the Georgian CP during the 1989 Tbilisi massacre. (Vera Tolz) SOCIAL BENEFITS FOR RSFSR POPULATION. An independent trade union of coal miners and the Russian government finally reached an agreement on 24 January, Russian TV reported. According to the agreement, from now on the salary of coal miners in the Russian Federation will be doubled. The same day, the new Moscow government signed an agreement with local trade unions to establish a social safety net in Moscow. New measures are aimed at combatting unemployment in the Russian capital, the improvement of medical care, and upgrading of salaries in connection with the growing inflation, TASS reported on 24 January. (Vera Tolz) MORE REGULATED PRICES? On 26 January, during a tour of Yakutia, Russian Parliament Chairman Ruslan Khasbulatov said that the parliament is drafting a joint (parliament/government) document expanding the list of goods that are sold at government-regulated prices, TASS reported that day. Khasbulatov had already advocated an increase in the number of regulated prices in Kazan on 11 January. No reaction to his advocacy on the part of the government has been monitored. [Prominent reformers have argued that the list of regulated prices is already too large]. (Keith Bush) CONSUMER INCOMES AND SAVINGS ON THE RISE IN 1992. TASS, on 23 and 24 January reported that personal incomes and savings have increased significantly in the first three weeks of the new year. Oleg Yashin, first vice president of the Russian Savings Bank, said that from 3 to 20-January, savings deposits have increased by about 1 billion rubles, six times the amount for the same period last year. In Donetsk, on 22 January alone, citizens deposited as much money in their savings accounts as they did in the whole of the XII-Five-Year Plan. Despite the liberalization of prices, goods availability has yet to improve, and some consumers have considerable amounts of extra cash. A main concern in Russia is where those rubles will go when other CIS countries-especially Ukraine-introduce their own currencies later this year. (John Tedstrom) RUSSIAN UNEMPLOYMENT FORECAST. At a Moscow news conference on 24 January, Russian Deputy Labor Minister Fedor Prokupov forecast a total of 7-8 million unemployed in Russia by September 1992, TASS reported that day. This would represent 10-12% of the population of working age. Prokupov said that 60,000 were registered as unemployed as at 1 January, of whom 70% were women. He also reported that there are more than 840,000 registered job openings currently unfilled in the federation. Prokupov drew a parallel with Poland, where joblessness has risen steadily since prices were freed in January 1990. Currently the rate is 11.4% with some 2.16 million registered unemployed. (Keith Bush) PLENUM OF DEMOCRATIC REFORM MOVEMENT. Russian TV and radio newscasts depicted a plenary session of the board of the Democratic Reform Movement held in Moscow on 25 January. The board adopted the status of the DDR Political Council and elected its 46 members-among them Russian Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi, playwright Mikhail Shatrov, and economists Pavel Bunich and Nikolai Petrakov. The Council is entitled to speak on behalf of the DDR, to develop its program and political strategy, and to represent the movement in contacts with foreign and other domestic organizations. The board also elected the DDR Auditing commission. "Vesti" noted DDR plans to develop a strategy for military reforms, the transition process to a market economy and its social consequences, and to set up a center on interethnic relations. (Julia Wishnevsky) )KARELIA DISCUSSES ITS STATUS. The session of the Karelian parliament on 23 January debated the inclusion of the possibility of Karelia leaving the Russian republic on its agenda , "Vesti" reported on 23 January. The following day, 43 deputies (mostly Russians) voted for the separation of Karelia from the Russian Federation. The majority turned down this proposal, however, Russian TV reported. After heated debates, the parliament voted to call on Moscow to sign a federation treaty with autonomies of the Russian Federation. If this is not done, Karelia will again return to debating the issue of independence, the parliament warned. (Ann Sheehy and Vera Tolz) DIVISIONS IN DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT IN BELARUS. A BelTA-TASS report of 24 January drew attention to the sour relations between the Belarus Popular Front and Belarus Social Democrats. At a plenum on that day, the Social Democrats endorsed the creation of a bloc of leftist and progressive political forces under the name "New Belarus," but the Popular Front rejected both an invitation to attend the plenum and the idea of a bloc. (The Popular Front is wary of the socialist orientation of the Social Democrats, who are led by the creative intelligentsia.) Despite the conflict, the plenum-supported a Popular Front initiative to organize a referendum on the holding of new elections to the Communist-dominated parliament. (Kathy Mihalisko) UKRAINIANS OF THE WORLD UNITE. Radio Kiev reported on 23 January that 1,000 representatives of Ukrainians living outside of Ukraine took part in the first Congress of Ukrainians, which was held in Kiev on 22-23 January. Addressing the gathering, President Leonid Kravchuk called for unity, solidarity and support for the new independent Ukrainian state. He stressed that almost a third of Ukrainians live outside of Ukraine and he promised that the government of independent Ukraine would do its best to help them in whatever way possible. (Bohdan Nahaylo) GEORGIAN SITUATION REMAINS UNCLEAR. TASS reported on 24 January that resistance to the ruling Military Council was intensifying, and that Gamsakhurdia supporters had blown up three bridges near Khobi on the main highway linking Tbilisi and western Georgia. A state of emergency was imposed in Abkhazia on 24 January, Radio Tbilisi reported the same day. Gamsakhurdia supporters demonstrated without incident in Tbilisi on 25 and 26 January. An advisor to acting Georgian prime Minister Tengiz Sigua told RFE/RL on 25-January that fighting had ceased in Zugdidi, that Gamsakhurdia's supporters were fleeing the town and the situation was stabilizing. Interfax reported on 26 January, however, that pro-Gamsakhurdia forces were still in control of Zugdidi although the situation there was "anarchic." Gamsakhurdia supporters controlling the Black Sea port of Poti held talks on 26 January with Military Council representatives on a peaceful transfer of power, Western news agencies reported on 26 January. Gamsakhurdia's private plane flew from Sukhumi to Grozny on 26 January with 20-passengers; it is not known whether Gamsakhurdia himself was one of them. (Liz Fuller) KAZAKHSTAN'S DEVELOPMENT PLANS. Kazakhstan's deputy minister for foreign economic relations, Bolaton Taiyanov, told an important group of German industrialists that Kazakhstan is prepared to assume its share of the former USSR's foreign debt, according to the January 24 issue of Handelsblatt. Kazakhstan's share is set at 3%. Taiyanov also said that Kazakhstan plans to retain the ruble, but is considering introducing its own currency. Taiyanov, who is leading a delegation of politicians and managers on a quest for investment, told the German group that Kazakhstan hopes to use its mineral deposits to quickly raise its export earnings, adding that lack of transport is the main hindrance to increased foreign exports. He said that Kazakhstan wants to avoid accepting credit abroad. (Bess Brown) COUNCIL FOR UNION OF MOLDOVA WITH ROMANIA ISSUES PROCLAMATION. The National Council for Union, a joint Moldovan-Romanian body established in December 1991 held its inaugural convention in Iasi on Romania's side of the common border on 24 January. Although broadly representative in Romania, membership of the Council is narrowly based in Moldova, where only 50 opposition deputies-out of 366 parliamentarians-have joined. The Council issued a proclamation calling for early action to restore "the Romanian national unitary state" including Bessarabia and northern Bukovina with Romania (Moldova comprises most of Bessarabia while the remainder of Bessarabia and northern Bukovina currently form part of Ukraine). "Only thus can we avoid the danger of a military conflict with the anti-national forces in these territories," the proclamation said. On January 23, Moldovan President Mircea Snegur told AP in an interview (carried by Radio Bucharest that day) that the Moldovan Parliament might have to disavow its members participating in the Council for Union and to call a referendum on the issue of reunification. Supporters of reunification strongly oppose a referendum [see Romanian perspective below]. (Vladimir Socor) BALTIC STATES BALTIC PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY SESSION. Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian deputies convened in Riga on 24 and 25-January to affirm the guidelines for the work of the assembly and to discuss common problems, especially the presence of the former Soviet armed forces still in their countries. Latvian deputy Maris Budovskis was elected chairman of the assembly, with Ulo Nugis of Estonia and Aurimas Taurinskas of Lithuania as deputy chairmen. Latvian Supreme Council Chairman Anatolijs Gorbunovs proposed the creation of a juridical bureau, similar to the one that the Baltic States had from 1931 to 1940, to help foster greater cooperation. (Dzintra Bungs) LOPATIN ON TROOP WITHDRAWAL, ARMY PROPERTY. Vladimir Lopatin, deputy chairman of the Russian state committee for defense issues, told the press in Riga on 25-January that Russia has not only taken over the jurisdiction of the USSR armed forces but also the property of those forces. He said that Russia is prepared to discuss with the Baltic States only the property taken over by the Soviet forces in 1940. On troop withdrawal Lopatin said that first the issue of housing must be resolved for the approximately 128,000 officers and 13,000 praporschiks stationed in the Baltics. The Baltics view on this matter is that the troops withdrawal should be prompt and should not hinge on matters of social welfare of the officers, BNS reported on 25-January. (Dzintra Bungs) SHAKHRAI TO TALK ABOUT TROOP WITHDRAWAL FROM THE BALTICS. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai is expected in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania on 28-30-January, according to BNS and TASS of 25-January. Vladimir Lopatin made the announcement in Riga, where he met with participants of the Baltic Assembly on 25-January. Lopatin also said that the troop withdrawal from the Baltics cannot start before the departure of the former Soviet forces from Poland and Germany. He added that Russia is interested in retaining bases in the Baltics as a part of a European defense system. (Dzintra Bungs) LITHUANIA-POLAND PROTOCOL SIGNED. On 24-January in Vilnius Lithuanian Minister of Transportation Jonas Birziskis and Polish Minister of Transportation and Maritime Economy Ewaryst Waligorski signed a protocol on the legal foundations of international transport between Lithuania and Poland, Radio Lithuania reported. The protocol calls for signing treaties on air, road, and railroad transport by March, on sea transport by April, and on the construction of a customs post on the Szypliszki-Kalvarija road as soon as possible. Birziskis said that normal railroad and highway traffic through the post would probably only begin in June after the two countries decide on regulations. (Saulius Girnius) FIRST LITHUANIAN PASSPORTS ISSUED. On 24-January Lithuanian Deputy Prime Minister Algis Dobravolskas handed out the first new passports of the Republic of Lithuania, Radio Lithuania reported. The recipients of the passports were the four Lithuanian athletes who leave on 25-January to participate in the Winter Olympics in Albertville, France. The athletes should have no visa problems on the trip since they also possess Olympic passports issued by France. (Saulius Girnius) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE POLISH PARLIAMENT APPROVES PROVI-SIONAL BUDGET. On 25-January, following a two-day debate, the Sejm approved a provisional first-quarter budget that cuts spending on schools, health, pensions, and energy subsidies. Voting 195 to 135 with three abstentions, the deputies accepted the assertion of Prime Minister Jan Olszewski that there is no money to fund increased social benefits. In spite of the austerity measures, the budget foresees a deficit of some $1.5-billion in the first quarter of 1992. Finance Minister Karol Lutkowski warned that a higher deficit would ignite a new round of hyperinflation, Western and Polish media reported. He told the Sejm that Poland had to press on with its difficult reforms, adding "there is no room" to bail out unprofitable state industries. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) SOVIET TROOPS TO LEAVE POLAND BY END OF 1993. On 26-January speaking at a press conference in Legnica, Gen.-Viktor Dubynin, the commanding officer of the former Soviet Army's Northern Group of Forces, said that all of the units will be withdrawn by the end of 1993. He confirmed that, as previously agreed, all combat troops will leave by 15-November of this year, leaving behind 6,000 transport and signal troops to supervise the transit of Soviet forces still stationed in the former East Germany, Western and Polish media reported. According to PAP, however, the press conference turned into a heated debate between Dubynin and Polish government negotiator Gen.-Zdzislaw Ostrowski over the two sides' financial obligations for the stationing, transit, and withdrawal of the former Soviet troops from Poland. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) POLISH INDUSTRY HIT BY RUSSIAN GAS SUPPLY CUT. Poland's national gas distribution manager Aleksander Findzinski said on 24-January that falling supplies of Russian natural gas have forced many factories in heavy and chemical industries to limit or even stop production. Daily supplies of gas from Russia have been cut by over 40% since the start of the year and the situation has deteriorated as freezing temperatures increase public use of gas for heating. "Most steel mills and fertilizer plants are either idle or in a holding pattern," he added, stressing that the situation is likely to improve only if temperatures rise or if talks with Moscow are successful. Foreign Trade Ministry spokeswoman Anna Ferens said that top-level talks with Moscow on the issue are continuing, Western and Polish media reported. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) CZECHOSLOVAK RIGHT AGREES TO COOPERATE. The Czechoslovak Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA), at a conference held in Prague 25-26-January, decided on a coalition for the June elections, Western agencies report. It called for a nationwide union with the Slovak Democratic Civic Union, which emerged from the former Public Against Violence (ODU-VPN). The ODA also wants to cooperate with the newly formed Entrepreneurs Party (SCSP). Its third coalition partner will be the Liberal Democratic Party (LDS). Present at the conference were Klaus Francke Teil of the German CSU and Stephen Biller of the British Conservative Party, who promised assistance. (Barbara Kroulik) HUNGARIAN PARTY CALLS FOR DISMISSAL OF RADIO AND TV HEADS. The executive committee of the Hungarian Christian Democratic People's Party, a member of the ruling coalition, issued a statement demanding the resignation of the directors of Hungarian radio and television, MTI reported on 25-January. The statement said that the directors "have proven that they are unfit to manage public radio and television because they ignored the protests of a substantial part of Hungarian society against the downgrading of religious programs." The leaders of Hungary's major churches have recently demanded more air time for religious programs and charged that the directors' decision to change the schedule and broadcast wavelengths of those programs made them less accessible to the public. (Edith Oltay) HUNGARY'S TRANSIT TAX HIKE PROTESTED BY GREEK TRUCKERS. Greek truckers blockaded a major highway crossing at the Greek-Yugoslav border on 25-January to press the Greek government to ask Hungary to roll back its recent transit tax hike. The Hungarian government recently raised transit taxes steeply, affecting Greek truckers who use Hungary as their main transit route to the West because of the civil war in Yugoslavia. The Greek government lodged a first protest to Hungary earlier this month against the increase. (Edith Oltay) ROMANIANS, MOLDOVANS DISCUSSING UNIFICATION. On 24-January the National Council for Union, which comprises a wide range of politicians from Romania and Moldova, met in Iasi amid increasing calls from nationalists on both sides of the border for reunification and issued a proclamation calling for the restoration of a unitary state. Mircea Druc, a former prime minister of Moldova and chairman of the Council, called for "the restoration of Romania within its natural borders." NSF leader Petre Roman and Yuri Rosca, president of Moldova's Popular Front, said that reunification is at the center of the political agenda, although, Rosca added, a specific date cannot be set yet. Ex-King Michael and Patriarch Teoctist, head of Romania's Orthodox Church, sent messages. [See above for Moldovan reaction.] The same day in Bucharest Moldova's ambassador, Aurel Constantin Danila, presented his credentials while the Civic Alliance Party rallied several thousand people to demand reunification. (Mihai Sturdza) UNIONS WARN ABOUT GENERAL STRIKE. Alfa, Fratia, and the General Confederation of Romania's Free Unions, the unions which participated in wage talks with the government, will meet on 28-January to discuss a call for a general strike on 6-February. They want the present minimum salary of 8,500-lei to be raised to 24,000-lei. On 24-January the Hercules union lent its support but said the call for a general strike shortly before the local elections is a political diversion to discredit the unions, local media said. (Mihai Sturdza) PRESIDENT ZHELEV INTERVIEWED. In a 50-minute interview with RFE/RL broadcast on 24-January, the recently reelected president defended Bulgaria's recognition of the Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. He regretted the tension this created with Greece, but said Greece's anger was unnecessary and he hoped it would soon be dissipated. Zhelev spoke of the moderate position he had shown in his TV debate with Velko Valkanov and criticized the latter's campaign behavior. Zhelev also emphasized that economic reform should be given priority and rejected the BSP's accusations of an emerging totalitarianism from the right. Zhelev also said that the president should be able to initiate legislation, an idea he expressed to the press after his swearing-in ceremonies on 22-January. Zhelev's RFE/RL interview was quoted by several Sofia dailies. (Rada Nikolaev) EX-TSAR PROPOSES MONARCHY. Bulgarian media on 25-January reported statements by ex-Tsar Simeon-II made in Spain, proposing a constitutional monarchy for Bulgaria. This, he said, is the wish of the majority of Bulgarians. He said he is at the nation's disposal. The daily 24-chasa reported that a royal press center will open in Sofia on 27-January. Demokratsiya on 24-January said Simeon had thanked the deputy mayor of Sofia for restoring the name Maria Luisa (the Tsar's grandmother) to one of Sofia's main streets, long known as Georgi Dimitrov, and the renaming of another to honor his father, Boris-III. The renaming of some 40-streets in Sofia had been announced the previous day. (Rada Nikolaev) BOSNIA HEADED FOR CIVIL WAR? Following an all-night discussion, the Muslim and Croatian majority of Bosnia-Herzegovina's legislature voted on 25-January for a referendum on a "sovereign and independent Bosnia-Herzegovina, a state of equal citizens and nations of Muslims, Serbs, Croats." Serbian legislators had left the session earlier, and on 26-January the local Serbian leader, Radovan Karadzic, told the BBC that his people had already "voted to stay in Yugoslavia" and that hence what remained was to agree on a division of the republic. The 27-January Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, however, also quotes Karadzic as calling the parliament's vote on the referendum "the war option." The republic's population is roughly 40% Muslim, 33% Serb, and 18% Croat, and the three groups live so intermixed as to make drawing neat borders between them impossible. (Patrick Moore) OTHER YUGOSLAV DEVELOPMENTS. On 26-January UN Under Secretary-General Marrack Goulding arrived in Belgrade to begin talks with the various parties to the ongoing conflict. His goal is to prepare a report to the Secretary-General on the soundness of sending in a peace-keeping force, Western media reported. That same day Western news agencies quoted the Croatian press as saying that former Yugoslav Presidency President Janez Drnovsek had agreed to set up an interim Slovenian government. Elections are slated for June. Finally, on 24-January Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Kljusev told a press conference that Greece was stopping Macedonian trucks and "harassing Macedonian citizens." He accused Athens of setting up "a blockade," Western news agencies said. (Patrick Moore) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Carla Thorson & Charles Trumbull
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