|The trouble with being punctual is that nobody's there to appreciate it. - Franklin P. Jones|
No. 20, 30 January 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR YELTSIN PROPOSES ARMS CUTS. Hours after President George Bush announced cuts in US-defense spending, Russian President Boris Yeltsin appeared on nation-wide television to describe planned arms reductions in Russian and CIS military forces. Saying that it was time to move faster down the road of disarmament, Yeltsin announced, among other things, that Russia: has taken off alert about 600-strategic land- and sea-based missiles and will eliminate 130 land-based missile silos; will halt production of "Black Jack" and "Bear" heavy bombers, as well long-range air and sea-based cruise missiles; will cut Russian defense procurement by 50% and reduce overall defense spending by 10% this year. As The New York Times noted, many of the proposals are either not new or have been necessitated by Russian economic problems. Yeltsin also appeared to speak for strategic weapons located outside of Russia. (Stephen Foye) YELTSIN TRAVELS TO BRITAIN, US, CANADA. Boris Yeltsin was scheduled to leave Moscow for a trip to Great Britain, the US, and Canada on 29-January, TASS reported that day. The highlight of the trip will be his participation at the session of the UN Security Council on 31-January. During the trip, Yeltsin is scheduled to meet most of the world's top leaders. Yeltsin will be accompanied by the top leadership of Russia, including State Secretary Gennadii Burbulis, economic overlord Egor Gaidar, foreign minister Andrei Kozyrev, chairman of the parliamentary commission on international affairs and foreign trade Vladimir Lukin and the com-mander in chief of the CIS Armed Forces Evgenii Shaposhnikov. (Alexander Rahr) YELTSIN-BAKER MEETING. Boris Yeltsin met with US Secretary of State James Baker on 29-January for talks concerning his trip to the United Nations and United States. According to TASS on 29-January, Yeltsin and Baker also exchanged opinions on the course of the Middle East peace talks taking place in Moscow. (Suzanne Crow) KOZYREV DENIES CONFRONTATION WITH UKRAINE. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev told reporters on 29-January that there is no political confrontation between Ukraine and Russia, Western agencies reported the same day. The question of the status of the Black Sea Fleet, he said, was a dispute not unlike disagreements between Western countries. Kozyrev said that the differences between Ukraine and Russia were a matter of getting rid of the heritage of the past. (Roman Solchanyk) KASATONOV SNUBS UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENTARIANS. Black Sea Fleet commander, Admiral Igor Kasatonov refused to meet with a group of parliamentarians and Ukrainian Defense Ministry officials who travelled to Sevastopol, Ukrinform-TASS reported on 29-January. After a 90 minute wait outdoors in cold temperatures, the visitors also learned that no one else from the fleet would meet with them either, and they would not be allowed aboard ships. TASS noted that the delegation from Kiev arrived soon after Kasatonov had met on 28-January in Novorossiisk with Boris Yeltsin. In related news, a Radio Kiev report on 29-January denied Russian media assertions that a majority of crewmen do not want to swear an oath to Ukraine. It said that 70-80% of officers and midshipmen had done so, and that most of the resistance was among senior officers and staff members. (Kathy Mihalisko) THE BLACK SEA CONTROVERSY: PUBLIC OPINION. Admiral Igor Kasatonov, the commander of the Black Sea Fleet, receives hundreds of letters daily which say, in effect, "while there is nothing to eat in this country, you folks are dividing up ships with missiles," the TV news of 29-January reported, adding that the content of the letters could only be summarized and not quoted because of the strong language used in reference to Presidents Yeltsin and Kravchuk. Asked who finances the fleet, Admiral Kasatonov revealed that he had received 350 million rubles for the next quarter from Ukraine and 250-million rubles for the next month from Russia. The Russian funds, however, have been frozen by the Ukrainian state bank which makes Ukraine the sole supporter of the fleet. Nonetheless, the admiral added, "I would not mind if either of them pays more," and he would be happy to receive funds from any third party. (Julia Wishnevsky) GLOOMY PROSPECTS FOR UKRAINIAN OFFICER CORPS? On 25-January, Krasnaya zvezda, the main newspaper of the military command, suggested that planned force cuts will soon leave many officers who have sworn loyalty to Ukraine out of work. The newspaper claimed to have received the information from the Ukrainian center of alternative information in Kiev. It suggests that only one of ten officers in the Carpathian Military District will be employed long term and that those native Ukrainian officers now serving outside the republic will face difficulties finding billets if they return home. The article seemed designed to frighten officers in Ukraine who are considering taking that republic's oath, and to discourage Ukrainian officers outside the republic from returning home. (Stephen Foye) UKRAINE TO BREAK G-7 DEBT ACCORD. In a statement reported by Western agencies on 29-January, Ukrainian Prime Minister Vitold Fokin called on Western creditor-nations to divide up the debt owed by the former USSR. He said that Ukraine wished to service its own 16.37% share of the outstanding debt (variously estimated at between $60-$90 billion), and implied that Ukraine would seek to expedite payment of its share. However, under the November 1991 agreement with G-7 nations, all states of the former USSR reputedly accepted "joint and several liability" for the entire debt-even if Fokin subsequently qualified the Ukrainian position. (Keith Bush) UKRAINE ADOPTS DRAFT PRIVATIZATION LAWS. The Ukrainian Supreme Soviet adopted a package of draft privatization laws on 29-January, Radio Kiev reported. The legislation included privatization of state enterprises, small state enterprises, and shares, stocks, and securities. According to Western agencies, a separate bill on private land ownership will be examined next week. (Roman Solchanyk) MATYUKHIN ON RUBLE STABILIZATION. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal of 29-January, Russian Central Bank Chairman Georgii Matyukhin confirmed his bank's intention to intervene in currency markets in order to stabilize the ruble. Matyukhin aired the opinion that the West will not bankroll a ruble stabilization fund, which puts him at odds with Russian President Boris Yeltsin, Russian Deputy Premier Egor Gaidar, and virtually everyone else in the Russian administration. For an informative review of the long-standing feud between Matyukhin and the Russian cabinet-which is expected to come to a head soon-see The Financial Times of 22-January. (Keith Bush) RUTSKOI RESUMES ATTACK. Russian Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi, who is recovering from surgery, attacked the Russian government for destroying the Russian state in an article in Pravda on 29-January He said that Russia has reached a political and economic dead end created by former Communist rulers and the current government's experimentations. He denounced the Yeltsin/Burbulis government as a "wrecking team" and called for a restoration of Russia's "historical" borders and a review of its present borders. He stated that the principle of a "unified and indivisible Russia" should be fixed by the constitution and emphasized the need for the establishment of a strong center. (Alexander Rahr) ALEKSANDR YAKOVLEV: YELTSIN'S REFORMS ARE TOO "LIMITED." Western aid for Russia should be given only "for specifics" and must be closely monitored, warns Aleksandr Yakovlev in an interview with The Independent on 29-January; he said he supports Yeltsin's reforms "in principle" but added that so far they have been only "limited." Yakovlev advocated full privatization of land, housing, and industry. He is pessimistic about CIS prospects for survival if new links between its member states are not created. Cautious on Yeltsin, Yakovlev praised the Russian leader's "decisiveness." He said he had warned Gorbachev there would be a coup as early as March of last year. According to Yakovlev, the main reason for the August putsch was Gorbachev's "toadying to the military industrial complex." (Julia Wishnevsky) RUSSIAN MEDICS CALL OFF STRIKE. Medical workers in 73 of Russia's 77 regions called off their strike planned for 29-January, Radio Rossii reported that day. The reason given was that Russian President Boris Yeltsin had met the workers' demands, including the raising of the base salary for doctors to 1,150 rubles a month as of 1-February, the allocation of 35 billion rubles during the first quarter of 1992 for health care, and the earmarking of hard-currency for importing medical supplies. (Keith Bush) MORE ON THE SAKHALIN CONTRACT. More details are emerging on the contract awarded to a Japanese/American consortium to evaluate and, possibly, develop oil and gas reserves off Sakhalin (see The RFE/RL Daily Report for 29-January). The contract was described by Western agencies on 29-January as giving the consortium the right to conduct a feasibility study on exploiting the two fields, and to negotiate for a contract to extract the oil and gas. Sakhalin governor Valentin Fedorov was reported by Interfax to have resigned from the Russian government commission in charge of the project-apparently after a disagreement with Moscow over the terms of the contract. (Keith Bush) RUSSIAN, ITALIAN FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev met in Moscow with his Italian counterpart, Gianni de Michelis, on 29-January, TASS reported that day. De Michelis and the Chairman of the Russian committee on foreign economic ties, Petr Aven, exchanged documents on Italian credits. Russia will receive 75% of one of the Italian credits. (TASS did not report the amount. Italy recently agreed to release a $1.3 billion credit originally scheduled for the USSR but frozen during the August coup attempt.) (Suzanne Crow) NEW THINK TANK OPENS. The Russian Center for Strategic Research and International Studies was founded in Moscow at the end of December, 1991. It describes itself as a non-governmental, non-profit, scientific and educational organization. The Center's head, Vitalii Naumkin, comes from the Institute of Oriental Studies (where he was Deputy Director); he brought several IOS staff members with him. The aims of the Center are to provide independent analysis of Russian political, economic, and military issues for members of the Russian government, private organizations, and individuals. Naumkin, who recently spoke at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London, said that the Center is advising the Russian Supreme Soviet on international issues. (Suzanne Crow and Annette McGill) RUTSKOI PARTY NOT TO ATTEND THE PATRIOTIC CONGRESS. The People's Party of Free Russia, led by vice-president Aleksandr Rutskoi, will not take part in the forthcoming Congress of Patriotic Forces for fear that "right-wing nationalist and anti-democratic groups may gain the upper hand" at the gathering, Interfax reported on 28-January. Scheduled for 8-9-February, the Congress was called by the Christian Democratic Movement and other parties that split from Democratic Russia after accusing it of encouraging the disintegration of the USSR and Russian Federation. The organizers wanted Rutskoi to preside over the "patriotic forces," however he declined since the organizers have invited known hardliners, such as Colonel Viktor Alksnis, Russian deputy Sergei Baburin, mathematician Igor Shafarevich and editors of the monthly Nash sovremennik (see Moskovsky komsomolets, 18-January). Interfax reported that the PPFR leaders have now decided to call the forum, "patriots for democracy." (Julia Wishnevsky) UKRAINIAN-CZECHOSLOVAK RELATIONS. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Anatolii Zlenko says he hopes to sign a treaty with Czechoslovakia establishing diplomatic relations, in an interview with the CSTK news agency on 29-January. Zlenko is quoted as saying that he is satisfied that Czechoslovakia has not raised any border issues with Ukraine. Some political parties in Czechoslovakia are campaigning for the return of the Zakarpattya [Transcarpathian] Oblast. Zlenko also noted that thus far 91 states have recognized Ukraine and 28 have established diplomatic relations. (Roman Solchanyk) MILITARY COUNCIL TROOPS TAKE ZUGDIDI. Georgian Military Council troops took the town of Zugdidi during the night of 28-29-January after a brief shootout in which three people were wounded and imposed a curfew there, Western agencies reported on 29-January. The remaining forces loyal to ousted president Zviad Gamsakhurdia have reportedly retreated north to Gali. (Liz Fuller) GAMSAKHURDIA GIVES INTERVIEW TO TASS. On 29-January TASS carried an extensive interview with ousted Georgian president Zviad Gamsakhurdia at an undisclosed location in Western Georgia. Gamsakhurdia stressed that he remains the legally elected president, that he will not resign, and that claims by the Military Council that popular support for him had plummeted were untrue. He further stated that the opposition had rejected his offer of creating an opposition council to discuss unresolved problems. The opposition had also precluded Georgian membership in the CIS by physically preventing him from travelling to the 21-December Alma-Ata meeting and from convening a Supreme Soviet session to debate membership. (Liz Fuller) BALTIC STATES SAVISAAR STRIKES BACK. Estonia's outgoing Prime Minister Edgar Savisaar has dealt his enemies in the Supreme Council their first blow in what seems sure to be a drawn-out battle. In an open letter printed in Estonia's major Russian-language daily, Estoniya, on 29-January, Savisaar defends the presence of the four Soviet military officers appointed to sit in the Supreme Council. He says any attempts at getting rid of the four represents "a propaganda trick with which some political forces are trying to maintain their popularity." The move comes two weeks after Savisaar was saved from being forced out only by the votes of the four officers. Since then many voices in the Supreme Council have lobbied for removal of the four on grounds that troops of an occupying army should not have a role in a sovereign state's parliament. (Riina Kionka) SOLDIERS TRADE FLOUR FOR BREAD. The Tartu city council has assured that local civilians will be fed by requiring former Soviet troops stationed there to trade wheat, flour, and sometimes petroleum products for any foodstuffs they receive instead of paying in currency. According to Paevaleht of 25-January, enterprises in Tartu are only allowed to distribute bread and baked goods to the troops in return for an equivalent amount of flour or wheat. One liter of milk costs the troops one kilogram of flour or wheat, but the military must pay 10-kilograms or petroleum products "at especially attractive prices for the city" for a kilogram of meat. All exchanges must be approved by the city government, which will assure that no more food than was sold to the troops last year will be traded in 1992. (Riina Kionka) LANGUAGE SKILLS PAY OFF. The Tartu city council decided on 23-January that competence in the state language may substitute for a ration card, according to Paevaleht of 23-January. The city council already requires merchants to sell goods only to those with ration cards but decided last week that competence in the state language-or a photo identity card-would also prove that a would-be buyer lives in the Republic of Estonia. Since January 1989 Estonia's state language has been Estonian. (Riina Kionka) WILL LATVIA INTRODUCE "WHITE MONEY?" Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Maris Gailis told the press on 28-January that Latvia is ready to introduce a kind of interim currency that would replace the Soviet ruble and precede the introduction of the lats. This idea has been discussed for over one year. Such money, popularly referred to as "white money," would help insulate Latvia's economy from financial instability in the former USSR. Gailis gave no date or further explanation, according to a RFE/RL correspondent's report from London of 28-January. Supreme Council Chairman Anatolijs Gorbunovs told German TV, however, that the ruble would not disappear this year, according to BNS on 29-January. (Dzintra Bungs) GAS PRICE SKYROCKETS IN LATVIA. Radio Riga reported on 29-January that the cost to the consumer of a cannister of liquiefied gas is expected to rise from 14-rubles to about 530. This increase is necessitated by the declining supply of gas from Russia and the need of the Latvian distributors to break even, given the suppliers' demand for payments in hard currency. Most sorely affected by this increase are people who live in older buildings, where such gas is used for heating and cooking. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIAN CUSTOMS TO CHECK ALSO MILITARY VEHICLES. On 22-January the Latvian Supreme Council decided that Soviet military transport vehicles should be checked by Latvian customs officials as they leave Latvia. Heretofore these vehicles were exempt from a check at the border on the basis of a Latvia government decree on 10-January 1991, which the Supreme Council revoked. Customs chief Imants Geidans told Diena on 22-January that the Supreme Council decision is not directed against the former USSR armed forces, but is aimed to ensure that Latvian laws apply equally to all concerned. (Dzintra Bungs) LITHUANIA INCREASES POSTAL, TELEPHONE RATES. Substantial increases in postage and telephone rates will take effect on 1-February according to reports on Radio Lithuania on 29-January. Letter mail (up to 20 grams) internally will cost 70-kopecks and postcards 50-kopecks, while letters abroad will cost 1.5-rubles surface and 2.5-rubles by air. The monthly basic telephone service rate will rise from 12.5 to 30-rubles and a one-minute conversation between cities within the republic will be 75-kopecks. Rates for invalids and for former deportees, political prisoners, and victims of the ghetto will not be raised until the government decides on special lower rates in other key areas, such as fuel, municipal services, electricity, and telephone equipment. (Saulius Girnius) LITHUANIA-RUSSIA MEETING. On 29-January Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius-held talks in Moscow with First Deputy Prime Minister Gennadii Burbulis and Deputy Prime Minister Egor Gaidar, BALTFAX reported. Lithuania's temporary charge d'affaires in Russia Egidijus Bickauskas told the press that the talks "are difficult, but for the moment fruitful." The talks center on the supply and prices of raw materials, including oil, from Russia to Lithuania. A Lithuanian Economics Ministry report noted that due to shortages of these raw materials industrial output in Lithuania for the first quarter of 1992 may decline by 1.5-2-billion rubles (about 20%), creating unemployment for 40-45,000 workers. (Saulius Girnius) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE INTERIOR MINISTRY REPORT ON POLAND'S SECURITY. The Polish Interior Ministry published a report on 29-January showing a dramatic deterioration in the country's security. According to PAP, the report says there is a major threat "to the basic political and economic interests of the country" and blames it on "the administration's moral laxity and lack of discipline, both at the central and local government levels." In addition, the report says, Poland continues to be a target of penetration for foreign intelligence, and is threatened with terrorism, both domestic and international. The authors of the report expect the situation to deteriorate further because of instability brought about by the recession and unemployment, coupled with the fascination with violence among some youth. (Roman Stefanowski) OLSZEWSKI ON THE MILITARY. Speaking on 29-January at the meeting of the Defense Ministry's Military Council, Prime Minister Jan Olszewski said that "the fact that the Polish army was used for the partial crushing of national aspirations has resulted, particularly in the younger generation, in decreasing respect for a soldier's uniform." Nevertheless, the premier said, "a huge majority of the soldiers and officers have behaved in those difficult times in a way that when we meet we can look each other in the eyes." The country's "absolute priority," Olszewski said, is to maintain the readiness of the armed forces at a level that will guarantee the basic security of the country. At the moment the greatest danger, Olszewski said, is presented by the destabilization resulting from the collapse of the USSR. It is not extraordinary, Olszewski concluded, that "our eastern border is subject of particular concern." PAP carried the report. (Roman Stefanowski) CZECHOSLOVAK PARLIAMENT PASSES ELECTORAL LAW. The Czechoslovak parliament on 29-January passed a new electoral law ahead of general elections in June. CSTK says the new legislation is based on a draft submitted by deputies. President Vaclav Havel's proposed law which calls for the election of deputies by a combination of proportional representation and direct simple majority voting, was rejected. The new law maintains the requirement that a single party win 5% of the vote to gain seats in the parliament. A coalition group of two or three parties must win 7%, and those of four or more parties must win 10% of the vote to win parliamentary seats. The new law limits the election campaign to 23-days and says any party or movement with a membership of at least 10,000 or currently represented in the parliament has the right to enter candidates in the elections. (Barbara Kroulik) CARNOGURSKY ON SLOVAK SOVEREIGNTY. Slovak Premier Jan Carnogursky said at a political rally in Kosice on 29-January, that Slovakia wants to take step-by-step actions "to achieve the same sovereignty enjoyed by other European nations." He said he wants those steps taken with unity and economic stability in mind. The CSTK report did not say whether he meant Czechoslovak or merely Slovak unity; Carnogursky in the past had been a supporter of a federal Czechoslovakia. (Barbara Kroulik) HUNGARIAN-MACEDONIAN TALKS. Hungarian Foreign Minister Geza Jeszenszky and his counterpart from the Republic of Macedonia, Denko Maleski, held talks in Budapest on 29-January, MTI reported. Jeszenszky expressed his conviction that the Macedonian government is committed to parliamentary democracy and is ready to comply with the EC's criteria for recognizing its independence. He said that Macedonia's recognition would come about because its claim to it was "legitimate." Maleski was optimistic that Macedonia and Greece could settle their differences, and categorically rejected the idea of changing the borders. (Edith Oltay) ROMANIAN DEADBEATS TO BE LEFT IN THE DARK AND COLD. The National Electricity Board told some forty state industrial firms that unless they pay their huge back power bills their electricity will be cut off. Unpaid bills range between 300,000 and 15-million lei, local media said on 28-January. Half the firms promptly obliged, and as power began to fade on the premises of other enterprises, more payments were rushed in, including one for 10-million lei from the Semanatoarea machine tool company in Bucharest. (Mihai Sturdza) ROMANIAN THEATER DIRECTOR FIRED. The director of the National Theater of Iasi, writer Mihai Ursachi, has been fired. He was accused of having allowed the building to be used by the Union Council, whose meeting on 24-January called for Romanian-Moldovan union, and by the Democratic Convention, the umbrella organization gathering together all main opposition parties. The authorities claim that official buildings cannot be used by political parties during the electoral campaign. Ursachi, who opposed the late dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, lived in exile from 1981 to 1990, and taught at US universities. (Mihai Sturdza) BULGARIA TO INCREASE POSTAL CHARGES. Quoting the chairman of the Committee on Communications Stefan Sofiyanski, on 29-January BTA reported a number of sharp increases in postal and telephone rates. At the beginning of March the cost of telephone calls will go up 50%. Beginning 10-February the cost of letters will increase 3.3-times and of parcels 2.3 times. The increase for mail-abroad will be even sharper. A letter will cost 7.00-leva, up from 0.80-leva now, and a postcard 5.00-leva. The aim is to ensure a small profit instead of the present losses, and it was pointed out that rates in Bulgaria are still below World Postal Union recommendations. Sofiyanski regretted that the increases could not immediately be accompanied by improved quality-the telephone system in use is still the old Siemens model of 1929. (Rada Nikolaev) BULGARIAN FOREIGN DEBT NEGOTIATIONS. Little information has become available on the talks in Vienna on 28-January with the London Club on Bulgaria's debt to foreign banks, which totals some $9-billion. Bulgarian media reported on 29-January that the creditors are pleased by the authorization just given by the National Assembly for the government to negotiate foreign debt issues. They said the talks will resume before the end of March in order to find an acceptable solution to the problems. Minister of Finance Ivan Kostov, who headed the Bulgarian delegation, complained that recent calls for his resignation are badly timed and unhelpful. (Rada Nikolaev) CROATIAN-SLOVENIAN RELATIONS STRAINED. Relations between the former Yugoslav republics of Croatia and Slovenia are not good, suggest reports appearing in the Slovenian and Serbian press on 29-January. The Maribor daily Vecer commented that delay in signing an agreement on diplomatic relations is only "a consequence of deeper differences and complications." It added that a system of payments between the two states does not function, and the volume of trade remains below agreed targets. The Ljubljana daily Vecerno delo said that some aspects of the "cooling of relations-.-.-. could be a dangerous adventure that might get out of control." The Belgrade daily Politika quotes Slovenian foreign minister Dimitrij Rupel as saying "constructive cooperation with Croatia is impossible." Slovenia has been insisting upon the return some 20,000 Croatian refugees as soon as possible and demands hard-currency payments from Croatia for electricity produced at the Krsko nuclear power plant located in Slovenia. Both republics helped finance construction of the facility. The Slovenia-Croatia border in the Istrian Peninsula is also a bone of contention, says Politika. (Milan Andrejevich) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Carla Thorson & Charles Trumbull
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.