|The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none. - Thomas Carlyle 1975-1881|
No. 19, 29 January 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR YELTSIN SURFACES IN NOVOROSSISK. Underscoring the importance of CIS security issues to his political future, Russian Federation President Boris Yeltsin paid an unexpected visit to the port city of Novorossisk on 28 January to assure seamen there that the Black Sea Fleet would not fall under Ukrainian control. The visit explained Yeltsin's cancellation of several key meetings scheduled for that day, including one with the Japanese foreign minister. Yeltsin was accompanied by CIS Commander in Chief Evgenii Shaposhnikov and the CIS naval commander, Vladimir Chernavin. While the visit was officially explained as part of Yeltsin's preparations for an upcoming session of the UN Security Council and subsequent meetings on nuclear security problems, CIS and Western accounts indicate that the primary purpose of the visit was to assure naval officers that the fleet would remain under CIS jurisdiction. (Stephen Foye) MIDEAST CONFERENCE OPENS. Speaking at the opening of the Mideast peace talks in Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev said: "we have no intention of vying with anyone for ideological influence or for spheres of military domination, and imperial ambitions are alien to us." Kozyrev proposed that arms reductions in the region become one of the main themes of future talks and stressed that Russia maintains an interest in seeing peace come to the region, TASS reported on 28 January. (Suzanne Crow) KRAVCHUK ON THE CRIMEAN QUESTION. Referring to last week's decision by the Russian parliament to examine the 1954 transfer of Crimea from the RSFSR to Ukraine, Kravchuk told parliamentarians that the Russian "imperial disease" would take time to pass. And in an interview in the Italian newspaper Repubblica, the Ukrainian President said that questioning the legal basis of Crimea's current status would result in even greater territorial problems. In this connection, Kravchuk suggested that Ukraine could claim territory presently in Russia on the basis of its Kievan Rus' legacy as well as Stalin's transfer of territory from Ukraine to the RSFSR. (Roman Solchanyk) KRAVCHUK REPLACES THREE MILITARY DISTRICT COMMANDERS. In a decision that is almost certain to increase tension between Kiev and Moscow over the armed forces, on 28 January Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk issued a decree appointing new commanders of Ukraine's three military districts. As reported by Radio Kiev, General Valentin Boriskin was named commander of the Kiev MD; Lieutenant General Valerii Stepanov for the Carpathian MD; and Lieutenant General Vitalii Radetskii for the Odessa MD. By the same decree, Viktor Chechevatov, Viktor Skokov, and Ivan Morozov were relieved of their duties. (Kathy Mihalisko) STAROVOITOVA AS RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER? Sources close to the Russian parliament speculate that state counselor Galina Starovoitova could soon be appointed Russian Defense Minister, Radio Mayak reported on 28 January. According to the newspaper Moskovskii komsomolets, the report said, the potential appointment explains Starovoitova's presence at the recent All-Army officers assembly. (Stephen Foye) CURRENCY CIRCULATION ORDER. The Presidium of the Russian Parliament has passed a decree on the urgent normalization of currency circulation in the Federation, Russian TV reported on 28 January. Effective immediately, all enterprises are to keep their money in bank accounts and all transactions are to be on a non-cash basis only. Staff wages may be kept in an enterprise for a maximum of three days. No explanation was monitored, but there have been widespread reports of shortages of banknotes as retail prices and wages have soared during the past few weeks. Although the printing presses have been operating non-stop, they have been unable to deliver enough of the existing denominations and have not yet started to produce the higher denomination notes that have been promised/threatened. (Keith Bush) TAX SCARE FOR JOINT VENTURES. According to The Journal of Commerce of 28 January, Russian government officials have been reassuring foreign partners in oil joint ventures that the stiff new taxes and currency regulations pertaining to oil exports are not meant to apply to them. The reassurances have, however, stopped short of denying that the new measures will affect them. The export tax, as written, applies to virtually all natural resources and raw materials, including oil. Western oil executives reckon that it could add nearly $5 a barrel to their expenses in exporting crude from Russia. The measures can only exacerbate the continuing uncertainty over proposed joint ventures, such as the Chevron project at Tengiz. (Keith Bush) SAKHALIN OIL AND GAS CONTRACT AWARDED. The Russian Ministry for Ecology and Natural Resources has awarded a Japanese/American consortium the right to assess and develop oil and gas reserves off Sakhalin island, The New York Times reported on 29 January. The companies involved are the Mitsui Corporation, Marathon Oil Co., and McDermott International Inc. The value of the project has been put at $8-10 billion. It is estimated that the fields hold about 100 million tons of oil and over one trillion cubic meters of gas. The success of the venture is thought to hinge on Japanese financial assistance, which could depend on the resolution of the northern territories issue. (Keith Bush) JAPAN OFFERS EMERGENCY AID TO RUSSIA. Japan's $100 million in emergency food aid originally promised for the Soviet Union will now be given to the Russian Federation, Western agencies reported on 28 January. The aid will come in the form of loans from the Export-Import bank of Japan. According to unidentified Japanese government sources, if other former Soviet republics want assistance from Japan, part of the $100-million will be lent through Russia. Details of such an arrangement were not provided. (Suzanne Crow) RODIONOV ON GENERAL STAFF ACADEMY. In an interview published by Krasnaya zvezda on 28-January the head of the General Staff Academy, Colonel General Igor Rodionov, called for creation of a single military science for CIS member states and proposed that his academy become the center for training CIS officers. At the same time, he proposed subordinating the school to the Russian government and turning it into the "Academy of National Security and Defense of the Russian Federation." (Stephen Foye) HOMELESS SERVICEMEN. Nearly 286,000 families of servicemen across the CIS currently lack housing, Sovetskaya Rossiya claimed on 24-January. With the final withdrawal of troops from Eastern Europe and the discharge of thousands of officers as a result of force reductions, the number of ex-servicemen and family members lacking housing will grow to a million people, the report added. As summarized by TASS, the newspaper said that a short-sighted policy on military reductions, together with price liberalization, will leave thousands of officers on the edge of poverty. (Stephen Foye) OMSK: TANKS FOR SALE. The Sunday Times (London) reported on 27 January that leaders in the Siberian city of Omsk are looking to sell tanks and other military hardware as a means of solving local economic problems. Some 1,500 tanks were reportedly stored near the city as a result of CFE cuts and the Soviet withdrawal from Eastern Europe. The newspaper reported that local military leaders also have urged sales, hoping to use the revenues to improve conditions for military personnel. The report notes that other Russian cities are currently engaged in similar activities. A TASS report on 22 January said Yemen and South Ossetia had expressed interest in purchasing tanks. (Stephen Foye) THE END OF THE LENIN LIBRARY. The Lenin Library (second largest in the world) has been renamed the "Russian State Library" in accordance with Yeltsin's edict, "Vesti" announced on 27-January. "Vesti" quoted its new director, Igor Filippov, as saying that the state will be unable to finance the library and that its management should rely on sponsorship and commercial activities. Before the revolution, the library bore the name of its founder, Count Rumyantsev. During the Gorbachev era, the library had problems because of mismanagement, lack of funds, and anti-Semitic outbursts by employees in the Library's manuscripts department. (Julia Wishnevsky) BELARUS DEFENSE MINISTER IS APPOINTED. Petr Chaus, former chief of staff of the Baltic Military District and, since December, Belarus minister for defense affairs, was chosen on 28-January to head the recently created Belarus Ministry of Defense, BelTA-TASS announced that day. His closest rival for the post was the current commander of the Belarus Military District, General Kostenko. On 21 December, the BelaPAN news agency released information on Kostenko's actions during the August coup that demonstrated his readiness to carry out the orders of the State of Emergency Committee. (Kathy Mihalisko) KRAVCHUK ASKS PARLIAMENT FOR EXPANDED POWERS. Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk addressed the opening session of the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet on 28 January and requested additional powers to push through economic and political reforms, Radio Kiev and Western agencies reported. Arguing that reforms were often blocked on the local level, he urged deputies to amend the constitution so as to enable him to appoint his own representatives. The Ukrainian leader also expressed his support for Prime Minister Vitold Fokin, who has come under fire for the ineffectiveness of economic reform. At the present juncture, he said, it would be unwise to change the composition of the Cabinet of Ministers. (Roman Solchanyk) UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY DOUBLING ITS SIZE. Radio Kiev announced on 28 January that the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry is doubling the number of its personnel and will shortly be moving to the former building of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine. Radio Kiev also reported that there was a shortage of suitable premises in Kiev for new embassies of the more than 90 foreign states which have now recognized Ukraine's independence. (Bohdan Nahaylo) MILITARY COUNCIL TROOPS TAKE POTI. Georgian Military Council troops took the Black Sea port of Poti early on 28 January after a day of fighting in which at least six people were killed and twenty wounded, Western news agencies reported on 28 January. The town of Zugdidi is still in the hands of Gamsakhurdia's supporters who have refused to negotiate with the Military Council and vowed not to surrender. (Liz Fuller) HELICOPTER SHOT DOWN OVER NKAO. At least 40 people, including women and children, were killed on 28 January when a civilian Azerbaijani helicopter flying from Agdam to Shusha in Nagorno-Karabakh was shot down by a heat-seeking missile fired from the Armenian village of Shushkent, TASS and Interfax reported that day. (Liz Fuller) KAZAKHSTAN DENIES NUCLEAR SALES STORIES. The foreign ministry of Kazakhstan has issued a denial of stories that have appeared in the foreign press claiming that the Central Asian state is selling nuclear weapons, according to a KazTAG-TASS report of 28 January. The statement accused the inventors of such stories of damaging Kazakhstan's reputation in the eyes of the world community. The same day Radio Dushanbe broadcast a statement by Tajikistan's Defense Committee rejecting a claim by an Afghan resistance leader that the Tajik government is supplying weapons to the Afghan government. (Bess Brown) KGB CHIEF APPOINTED TURKMEN DEFENSE MINISTER. Soviet news agencies reported on 28-January that Turkmenistan's KGB chairman Danatar Kopekov has been named to head the defense ministry created on 27 January. Kopekov, who has headed the Turkmen KGB since March 1991, is the first Turkmen to hold that post in at least 20 years. The new ministry is to be responsible for Turkmenistan's internal affairs troops, national guard and civil defense, and will serve as a link between former Soviet forces stationed in Turkmen-istan and the CIS central command. (Bess Brown) UZBEKISTAN ASSUMES JURISDICTION OVER MILITARY. UzTAG-TASS reported on 28 January that Uzbekistan's Supreme Soviet has adopted a resolution placing military units of the former USSR and military schools located on its territory under the jurisdiction of Uzbekistan. Strategic forces remain directly subordinate to the unified CIS command. According to the report, the resolution was adopted in recognition of the fact that as of 1 February, general purpose forces will no longer be financed by former all-Union bodies. (Bess Brown) SNEGUR REAFFIRMS MOLDOVAN STATE INDEPENDENCE. In an interview with AP, released on 27 January, Snegur said that reunification with Romania was "a very long time away." While Romania and Moldova have "largely the same history and the same language," nevertheless "there are two Romanian states. Two," Snegur was quoted as saying. He was further quoted as saying that "a large majority of Moldovans prefer independence after centuries of control by Russians, Turks, and even their Romanian relatives." (Vladimir Socor) BALTIC STATES SQUABBLES OVER FORMING GOVERNMENT. Old rivalries have come to the fore again over the formation of Estonia's new government. In a Postimees interview of 27-January, Congress of Estonia chairman Tunne Kelam put in his bid for the government to include those movements not represented in the Supreme Council: "it is clear that formation of the new government is not possible without the support of the Committee of Estonia." But former Prime Minister Savisaar's Popular Central Party issued a statement, carried by BNS that day, strongly disagreeing with any plans to incorporate Kelam's group-led by the Estonian National Independence Party-into the new government. Tiit Vahi is expected to announce his cabinet on 30-January. (Riina Kionka) TROOP WITHDRAWAL TALKS POSTPONED AGAIN. Radio Riga reported on 28-January that the talks, scheduled for this week, between Russian and Baltic officials on the withdrawal of the armed forces of the former USSR from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have been postponed. The reason given for the indefinite postponement by Moscow is the illness of the Russian delegation's leader, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai. Interviewed by Moscow TV on 28-January, Maj. Gen. Vladimir Lopatin, repeated the proposal that some former Soviet army troops remain stationed in the Baltics for mutual defense. In a related development, BNS of 28-January corrected the troop figures in the Baltics that it had reported on 25-January to a total of 128,000 of which 28,000 are officers and 13,000 praporschiki. (Dzintra Bungs) ESTONIA PASSES MILITARY SERVICE LAW. The Estonian Supreme Council on 27-January passed a law outlining military service, BNS reported that day. The law foresees mandatory service of no more than 18-months for all male citizens aged 18-28-and provides for 24-months of alternative service for those who do not wish to serve in the military for ethical or religious reasons. Those who have already served in the armed forces of a foreign country, for instance the Soviet Union, are exempt. Exemptions are also provided for invalids, persons who must care for an invalid, sole breadwinners, and other categories. (Riina Kionka) LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT SESSION. On 28-January the Lithuanian Supreme Council voted to annul a government decree that authorized the establishment of a government television channel, Radio Lithuania reported on 29-January. The session also voted not to discuss laws on the powers of the Lithuanian president. Sajudis secretary Alfonsas Vaisnoras told RFE/RL that Sajudis was disappointed by this decision, because passing laws on the president's powers might have obviated the necessity for a referendum on the question. Sajudis has already gathered more than 310,000 signatures (300,000 are needed) in favor of such a referendum. (Saulius Girnius) ENERGY CRISIS IN LATVIA WORSENS. Latvian media attribute the current economic crisis in the country as stemming primarily from an inadequate supply of gasoline and other petroleum fuels. Russia, heretofore the principal supplier, has been steadily reducing, even curtailing, shipments to Latvia since last year, despite agreements to maintain them. Radio Riga reported on 28-January that trainloads of fuel for Latvian cities are being held up at the border by Russian authorities. Diena reported on 23-January about fuel shortages in the countryside as well, which in turn would hamper the transportation of foodstuffs to the cities and create higher consumer prices. Public transportation throughout Latvia has been significantly reduced. (Dzintra Bungs) OIL CUT OFF TO LITHUANIA DUE TO "TECHNICAL REASONS." On 28-January Lithuanian Energy Minister Leonas Asmantas said his Russian counterpart Vladimir Lopukhin had told him that the cutoff of oil to the refinery in Mazeikiai was due to "technical reasons" because "there are no other ostensible reasons for the cutoff," Western agencies reported. The two ministers are attending a conference in London, "Opening Up the Russian Oil Industry." Asmantas said that he told Lopukhin that if oil supplies were not restored, Lithuania would be forced to cut electricity exports to Kaliningrad Oblast and Belarus. (Saulius Girnius) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE RUSSIA BREAKS POLISH BARTER DEAL. Polish Minister of Foreign Economic Cooperation Adam Glapinski was told on 28-January in Moscow that Poland would have to renegotiate the oil and barter deal for 1992 signed on 24-December, Polish and Western media reported. The $2.8-billion deal guaranteed Poland 8.1-cubic meters of natural gas and 5-million tons of oil in return for foodstuffs, sulfur, coal, and pharmaceutical goods. According to Lopukhin, the Polish-Russian agreement "was not signed in a normal way" since the Economy Ministry, which signed the barter agreement, had not consulted with Lopukhin's Energy and Fuels Ministry, which monitors availability of energy resources. Pending renegotiation Russia has slashed natural gas deliveries to Poland by half, causing stoppages in steel mills, foundries, and in chemical and glass plants. Glapinski said he expects adequate deliveries to be reinstated within a week. (Roman Stefanowski) POLISH-UKRAINIAN TALKS. Back from a visit to Kiev, Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Jerzy Makarczyk told PAP on 28-January that he is returning "with a Polish-Ukrainian treaty practically ready for signing." The treaty, said Makarczyk, guarantees equal and sovereign relations between the two countries. Talks ended the same day in Warsaw between Polish Environment Protection Minister Stefan Kozlowski and his Ukrainian counterpart Vasyl' Kostytsky. They discussed the protection of common hydrographic features, means to combat pollution across borders, and the setting up international parks and reservations on both Polish and Ukrainian territory. (Roman Stefanowski) DEFENSE INDUSTRY PROTESTS. On 28-January Poland's defense industry trade unions have formed a National Protest Committee and instructed it to enter into talks with Prime Minister Jan Olszewski by 15-February. According to PAP, the defense industry is demanding payments for military equipment delivered to the army last year and insists the government place its orders now for the current year. The unions also demand that the government reduce the list of countries to which exports of military equipment are banned, pay the industry for last year's deliveries to the USSR, and compensate it for the losses incurred when contracts with Iraq and Yugoslavia had to be broken. (Roman Stefanowski) ANOTHER HAVEL PROPOSAL TURNED DOWN. The Czechoslovak parliament on 28-January turned down a proposal from President Vaclav Havel to give the president power to dissolve the parliament. Havel sought that power to prevent a constitutional impasse that could split the country. Talks between the Czech and Slovak parliaments to draft new constitutions are deadlocked. Havel's proposal got only about half the votes needed. He said later that the rejection of the proposal was expected and that the issue should be dealt with in the new constitution being drafted. This is the fourth of the five constitutional amendments proposed by Havel in November to have failed. One last proposal, an electoral law favoring reforms of proportional representation, has yet to be acted on. (Barbara Kroulik) HUNGARIAN COURT RULES ON PRESIDENTIAL APPOINTMENTS. The Constitutional Court ruled on 28-January that the president must endorse candidates submitted by the prime minister for high state posts within "a reasonable time" or give reasons for refusing to endorse candidates. The court had already ruled in September that the President may only block such appointments if "the democratic functioning of the institution in question is seriously threatened" by the proposed appointment. President Arpad Goncz has for several months blocked Prime Minister Jozsef Antall's nominations to fill vice presidential posts at Hungarian Radio and Television, creating a political uproar. (Edith Oltay) WHERE IS ROMANIA'S HEAVY WATER? A Norwegian team of experts has left for Bucharest to look into the whereabouts of 12.7 tons of heavy water sold by the Norsk Hydro company to Romania in 1986. Romania was suspected of having sold the heavy water to India, Western media said on 28-January. Oslo forbade further exports in 1988, when allegations were circulating that several countries were manufacturing atomic bombs using Norway's heavy water. (Mihai Sturdza) ROMANIAN ECONOMIC UPS AND DOWNS. Official data published on 28-January show that from October 1990 to December 1991 the price of city transportation and train tickets shot up by 620%, airway fares-1,140%, radio and TV taxes-400%, international mail-560%, and hotel rooms-900%. Subsidized prices for electric energy, heating, rents, and monthly transportation tickets did not change. Reportedly 5,633-foreign companies invested a total of $156.3-million in Romania during 1991. The four top investors are France's Phoceenne de Metallurgie ($14.5-million) and Bouygue ($8-million), US Colgate-Palmolive ($7.5-million), and Germany's Siemens ($6.5-million). Of several hundred tons of gold owned by Romania in 1946, only 80-tons were left at the end of 1991. (Mihai Sturdza) BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT ASSAILED ON ECONOMY. For the past several days the Confederation of Labor Podkrepa has been calling for the resignation of Minister of Finance Ivan Kostov and Minister of Industry and Trade Ivan Pushkarov because the economic reform program is stagnating. On 27-January their call was supported by the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions (CITUB) which further demanded the resignation of the ministers of transport and agriculture. On 28-January the National Coordinating Council of the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) and the UDF parliamentary caucus discussed the situation at separate sessions. They confirmed their support for the government but said it should speed up its work, according to the BTA report. (Rada Nikolaev) BULGARIAN-US MILITARY RELATIONS. On 27-January visiting US Secretary of the Air Force Donald Rice met President Zhelyu Zhelev and Prime Minister Filip Dimitrov and conferred with Minister of Defense Dimitar Ludzhev. BTA quoted the guest as saying that Bulgaria's position during the Gulf war had marked the first step in cooperation in the sphere of security. He brought a letter from Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney offering to include Bulgaria in an international program of military education and training. The US has earmarked $75,000 for training Bulgarian officers, and it was reported that US experts will visit soon to settle details. At a press conference Rice ruled out US aid for the Bulgarian Air Force in the near future, saying that military cooperation between the two countries was still in its initial stage. (Rada Nikolaev) MORE UNCERTAINTY SURROUNDS UN PEACE PLAN FOR YUGOSLAV AREA. Western media on 28-January quoted UN Under Secretary-General Marrack Goulding as saying that he had failed to persuade Milan Babic, the Serb leader in Croatia's Krajina region, to accept the UN peace plan. It calls for stationing peace-keeping forces in Krajina and other Serbian-inhabited areas, which Babic rejects since it treats those districts as part of Croatia, whereas Babic's "government" has declared its independence from that republic. Goulding also reported "one or two" points of disagreement in his talks with Croatian President Franjo Tudjman. The 29-January Los Angeles Times calls the peace process "effectively deadlocked." Goulding said that a meeting of the Security Council will discuss further steps, and added that he thought that the cease-fire is generally holding well enough to merit sending in a peace-keeping force. Meanwhile in Prague, senior CSCE officials agreed to grant Slovenia and Croatia observer status, but CSTK said that representatives of the Serbian-dominated rump Yugoslav government blocked their full membership. (Patrick Moore) MASSIVE EAST EUROPEAN EMIGRATION TO SOUTH AMERICA? The 27-January Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports that Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela have told the EC that they are willing to open their doors to East European emigration in return for financial assistance. Spain, which acts as liaison between the Community and Latin America, backs the proposal and will present it in Brussels. All five countries were traditional goals for European emigrants earlier in the century and would now welcome new European settlers, especially to settle in their sparsely-populated rural areas. Uruguay says it is particularly interested in Balts, while Chile would like Yugoslavs and Volga Germans. Other countries mentioned Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, and Hungarians as likely candidates. (Patrick Moore) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Carla Thorson & Charles TrumbullThe RFE/RL Daily Report is produced by the RFE/RL Research Institute (a division of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Inc.) with the assistance of the RFE/RL News and Current Affairs Division (NCA). The report is available by electronic mail via LISTSERV (RFERL-L@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU), on the Sovset' computer bulletin board, by fax, and by postal mail. For inquiries about specific news items, subscriptions, or additional copies, please contact: in USA: Mr. Jon Lodeesen or Mr. Brian Reed, RFE/RL, Inc., 1201 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC-20036 Telephone: (202) 457-6912 or -6900; fax: (202) 457-6992 or -202-828-8783; Internet: RIDC@RFERL.ORG or in Europe: Ms. Helga Hofer, Publications Department, RFE/RL Research Institute, Oettingenstrasse 67, 8000 Munich 22; Telephone: (+49 89) 2102-2631 or -2642; fax: (+49 89) 2102-2648, Internet: Pubs@RFERL.ORG 1992, RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. DAILY REPORT
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.