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No. 18, 28 January 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR MIDEAST CONFERENCE OPENS. The third round of the Middle East peace talks opened in Moscow on 28 January. According to conference organizer Vladimir Petrovsky (formerly first deputy foreign minister of the USSR), "the Middle East has for us always been the subject of special attention because of its geographical position and historical connections. Today, in addition to objective strategic interests are added the economic interests of Russia," TASS reported on 27 January. (Suzanne Crow) KOZYREV MEETS LEVY, MOUSSA. Kozyrev met with his Israeli counterpart David Levy on 27-January. Russia is prepared to play the "role of honest broker," Kozyrev told Levy. Kozyrev stressed that Russia is interested in the cessation of confrontation in the region, adding: "we are also interested in economic cooperation with the countries in the region, including Israel." Kozyrev met the same day with Egyptian Foreign Minister Amre Moussa. TASS reported that the two foreign ministers have the same approach to the peace talks. (Suzanne Crow) PIYASHEVA PLANS TO QUIT. The chief of Moscow's privatization campaign, Larissa Piyasheva, told a news conference there on 24 January that she plans to quit, The Los Angeles Times of 25-January reported. She spoke of her frustration that Egor Gaidar's strategy of privatizing by auction had been selected rather than her plans for selling shares in enterprises to employees. Piyasheva has also long advocated that privatization and demonopolization precede price deregulation, whereas Gaidar has maintained that the freeing of prices could not be deferred any longer. Piyasheva was pessimistic about the chances for Yeltsin's reform program. (Keith Bush) MEDICAL WORKERS' STRIKE POSTPONED. On 25 January, Pravda reported that health care workers in 73 of Russia's 77 regions had voted to strike to protest low wages and inadequate funding for medical care. Their union had called for the strike to start that day. A union official said that 35-billion rubles were needed during the first quarter of 1992 to fund medical services, but only 17.9-billion had been allocated, and doctors were living "on the poverty line." Later that day, Russian TV announced that the wages of all medical workers had been raised by 45% over the level set on November 15, and that the strike had been postponed until 29-January. (Keith Bush) GOLD RESERVES NEAR EXHAUSTION? A report in Komsomolskaya pravda of 21 January lends support to the assertions of Grigorii Yavlinsky et al that the gold reserves of the former Soviet Union had been run down to an unprecedentedly low level by the end of 1991. It quotes a South African newspaper to the effect that Soviet gold appearing on the world market last year contained ingots bearing prerevolutionary markings. The South African source is further quoted as warning that the-CIS output of diamonds and precious metals could in-crease greatly with Western aid, and their expanded exports could put pressure on world prices, to the detriment of South African producers. (Keith Bush) IMMINENT RECOVERY OF THE RUBLE? The head of the Economic Administration of the Russian Foreign Economic Relations Committee, Yurii Petrov, told a news conference in Moscow that the ruble will recover against the dollar in the next few weeks, TASS reported on 27 January. Petrov justified his assertion with the explanation that significant amounts of foreign currency, stemming from the tax on export earnings of Russian enterprises, will be available for auction. He reiterated official displeasure with the conduct of Georgii Matyukhin, the chairman of the Russian Central Bank. And he announced that Russia plans to export 50 million tons of oil in 1992, even though the other CIS states need about twice that amount. (Keith Bush) IZVESTIA ON MISSILE RETARGETING. Izvestia on 28 January published comments by the Strategic Missile Forces Main Staff on Boris Yeltsin's announcement-in an ABC Television interview on 25 January-that Russian nuclear missiles would no longer be targeted on US cities. Suggesting that Yeltsin had not yet issued an actual order to that effect, the missilemen said that retargeting would take several days to effect and that if they receive such an order from Yeltsin they will certainly implement it. Members of the main staff also reportedly said that they were awaiting with anticipation a statement from Yeltsin on Russia's new defensive doctrine. (Stephen Foye) GENERAL ON RUSSIAN MILITARY BUDGET. The head of the CIS Armed Forces Central Financial Directorate said on 27 January that the military budget just passed by the Russian government allocated sufficient funding, albeit barely, to cover the military's most pressing needs. Lt. Gen. Vasilii Vorobev said that the budget would fund not only troops on Russian territory, but also CIS strategic forces in other republics. He suggested that Russia would also be paying for general purpose troops in other republics, excepting Ukraine. A commentary in the European Wall Street Journal on 27 January observes that the Russian government appears to have successfully played the officer corps off against the military industries by using big procurement cuts to finance improved living conditions for the soldiers. (Stephen Foye) BLACK SEA FLEET OATHS OF LOYALTY. Radio Rossii, quoting the Ukrainian news agency Respublika, reported on 27 January that CIS naval commander Vladimir Chernavin arrived that day in Sevastopol and ordered Black Sea Fleet military personnel to begin immediately swearing the oath of loyalty to the CIS. Interfax quoted an ethnic Russian legislator in the Crimea as saying that of 6,400 recruits in Sevastopol, approximately 5,300 took the oath. Personnel in units assigned to guarding the Black Sea Fleet maritime area reportedly have begun taking oaths of service to Ukraine. (Stephen Foye) INTELLECTUALS CONCERN OVER THE RISE OF THE FAR RIGHT. On January 26, "Vesti" reported on a meeting of the elite "Moscow Tribune" club held in the Moscow Mayor's headquarters earlier that day. The intellectuals voiced their concern over the rising influence of ultranationalist and neocommunist forces united by their common concept of Russia as a "great power." According to "Vesti," speakers cited errors and abuses of the democrats now in power in Russia to explain the growing influence of the right. The participants called for an "anti-Fascist" rally at the Russian White House on 9 February to counter a demonstration planned by the neocommunists. (Julia Wishnevsky) SHEVARDNADZE ABOUT CREATION OF DEMOCRATIC INTERNATIONAL. Eduard Shev-ardnadze told Russian TV on 23 January that the Foreign Policy Association together with Gorbachev's Fund, the Fund of Survival headed by Evgenii Velikhov and the Council for Global Stability headed by Alexander Yakovlev aims to mobilize concerned politicians and scientists on political, military, social and ecological issues. The heads of the foundations, would like to create a kind of "Democratic International" backed by their supporters in the CIS. Such an organization could be modeled on the Socialist International and could be a major counter-balance to the block of rightist and chauvinist forces, added Shevardnadze. (Victor Yasmann) BELARUS EXPANDING FOREIGN TIES. Following a period of uncertainty, Belarus is advancing its interests more aggressively on the world stage. On 27 January Belarus asked the UN Development Program for "developing country" status in order to qualify for technical assistance from the UN. Also that day, as reported by TASS, Belarus (the homeland of gymnast Olga Korbut) turned to the International Olympic Committee with a request to recognize the National Olympic Committee of Belarus. Diplomatic ties were established with France on 25 January during a visit to Minsk by French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas. A Portuguese delegation also arrived on 26-January. (Kathy Mihalisko) UKRAINIAN SUPREME SOVIET AGENDA. Chairman of the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet Ivan Plyushch held a press conference devoted to the agenda of the upcoming Fifth Session of the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet, Radio Kiev reported on 27 January. The Ukrainian lawmakers will focus their attention on economic reform, the military, and reorganization of the state administration. In addition, they will discuss the Black Sea Fleet, the Crimean question, and demands for the government's resignation. (Roman Solchanyk) EXPATRIATE OFFICERS MEET IN KIEV. For the first time in its seven-month history, a conference of the Union of Officers of Ukraine, which took place on 25-26 January in Kiev, was attended by officers who are presently serving outside the republic, Radio Kiev reported. Much attention was devoted to the question of military oaths throughout the CIS; the expatriate officers were assured that oaths to a state other than Ukraine would be annulled if they returned to serve in their republic of origin. According to defense and security commission chairman Vasyl' Durdinets, to date 350,000 Ukraine-based troops, including border and national guard personnel, have sworn allegiance to Kiev. (Kathy Mihalisko) NEW FIGHTING IN GEORGIA. At least one person was killed and several injured on 27 January when Military Council troops attacked the Black Sea port of Poti, held by supporters of ousted President Zviad Gamsakhurdia, Western agencies reported that day. Russian TV reported on 27 January that Gamsakhurdia's private plane had been seized by his supporters after the pilot and crew were arrested on landing at Vnukovo airport in Moscow and sent back to Georgia. Gamsakhurdia's whereabouts are still a mystery. (Liz Fuller) GAMSAKHURDIA SAID TO HAVE TRIED TO JAIL SHEVARDNADZE. According to Russian TV news on 26 January, information has been revealed that, last November, former Georgian president Zviad Gamsakhurdia ordered the arrest of Eduard Shevardnadze. The then Georgian prosecutor Razmadze reportedly refused to issue a warrant for Shevardnadze's arrest, and was subsequently removed as prosecutor on 25 November, ostensibly "at his own request," (Svobodnaya Gruziya, 27 November 1991). Thereupon Gamaskhurdia threatened to find "others" to do this. (Julia Wishnevsky) AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT IN TURKEY. Azerbaijani President Ayaz Mutalibov flew to Turkey on 23 January , where he met with Turkish Prime Minister Suleiman Demirel, Minister of Foreign Affairs Hikmet Cetin and President Turgut Ozal, and signed an agreement on friendship, trade and economic and technological cooperation. Mutalibov also met with Turkish businessmen who expressed interest in opening a Turkish trading center in Baku to coordinate economic ties with the Central Asian republics, TASS reported on 25-January. Speaking to journalists in Istanbul on January 26, Mutalibov disclosed that Turkey is prepared to assist Azerbaijan in training officers for an Azerbaijani National Army, TASS reported. (Liz Fuller) FOREIGN TRADE LIBERALIZED IN KAZAKHSTAN. Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbaev's economic reform program took a major step on January 27 with the promulgation of a presidential decree permitting individuals and enterprises to engage in foreign trade without government permission, and permitting citizens of Kazakhstan to open hard currency bank accounts. Kazakhstan's National Bank will determine the exchange rate. The decree was reported by TASS on the same day. Only goods "of national interest" are excluded. In this category the report lists fuels, minerals and mineral fertilizer, grain, cotton, wool, caviar and pharmaceutical components. These may be exported only by state organizations. (Bess Brown) DUMAS VISIT TO KAZAKHSTAN. Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbaev told a press conference following French foreign minister Roland Dumas' visit to Kazakhstan that one of the main-topics of discussion during the visit was control over nuclear weapons, according to a Radio Rossii report of 25-January. Nazarbaev said that medium-range missiles are already being removed from Kazakhstan, and that there is no foundation to claims that Kazakhstan is exporting nuclear weapons and technology to Arab states. KazTAG reported the same day that Dumas and his Kazakh counterpart Toleutai Suleimenov had signed a protocol on establishing diplomatic relations. (Bess Brown) KARIMOV ABOLISHES TASHKENT OMON. In the wake of student demonstrations in Tashkent on 17-19 January during which OMON troops reportedly fired on demonstrators and killed at least one, Uzbek president Islam Karimov has abolished the Tashkent OMON detachment. A Radio Rossii report of 27 January said that Karimov had issued a decree ordering the Uzbek MVD to replace the OMON unit with a militia battalion to keep order during at the time of disasters and other extraordinary circumstances, and to apprehend armed criminals. (Bess Brown) MOLDOVAN, ROMANIAN PRESIDENTS MEET. The Presidents of Moldova and Romania, Mircea Snegur and Ion Iliescu, met on 25 January on the Moldovan side of the common border, marking the first time that Iliescu set foot on Moldovan soil as president of Romania. Held the day after the convention of a pro-reunification group and in contrast to that convention, the presidential meeting did not produce any call for reunification. A joint joint communique announced the intention to set up a free economic zone in a border area and to speed up a study of cooperation in agriculture. Iliescu accepted an invitation to visit Moldova in March, when a "treaty of fraternity and cooperation" is expected to be signed. (Vladimir Socor)
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