|Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith. - Christopher Fry|
No. 22, 03 February 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR YELTSIN'S COMMENTS AT THE UNITED NATIONS. Speaking at the first-ever summit meeting of United Nations Security Council members on 31-January, Russian President Boris Yeltsin said: "Perhaps for the first time ever, there is a real chance to put an end to despotism and to dismantle the totalitarian order . . . ." Yeltsin, in expressing his commitment to human rights, declared that there are no political prisoners in Russia, Western agencies reported on 1-February. (Suzanne Crow) RUSSIAN-AMERICAN FRIENDSHIP PACT. Boris Yeltsin and US President George Bush signed a joint declaration on 1-February pledging friendship and expressing the intention to reduce nuclear arsenals, to expand trade and economic cooperation, and to respect human rights, Western agencies reported on 2-February. (Suzanne Crow) COOPERATION ON SPACE DEFENSE. Bush and Yeltsin also talked about cooperation in space defense. Yeltsin said during the presidents' joint news conference: "We did discuss . . . a global shield, if you will. We considered it a very interesting topic . . . It would be interesting to utilize these systems on a mutual basis, maybe even with the participation of some other nuclear club countries, but this requires . . . a very detailed study at the level of specialists." Dmitrii Volkogonov, Yeltsin's advisor on military matters who accompanied the Russian president on this trip, declared that in the future, the main threat will not come from the US or Russia but from terrorist regimes. (Suzanne Crow) YELTSIN CRITICIZES US BUSINESS. During the final stop of his trip, Boris Yeltsin sharply criticized US business leaders for failing to invest substantially in Russia. During his news conference on 1-February in Ottawa, Yeltsin also faulted "some governments" (explicitly excluding Canada) for their lack of confidence in his economic and political reforms and for their failure to provide assistance, The New York Times reported on 3-February. (Suzanne Crow) WESTERN AID. Asked at the airport upon his return what Russians will get out of his trip, President Yeltsin told Novosti early on 3-February that everyone had assured him that food deliveries would arrive soon. On 31-January, a follow-up meeting to the Washington aid conference was held in Minsk. Heads of the Western working groups on food, medicine, energy, shelter, and technical assistance met with representatives from the CIS. According to Reuters of 1-February, the CIS officials asked for prompt deliveries of food and feedstuffs. When the Russian representatives offered to handle incoming aid, the non-Russians present demurred. A further follow-up conference on medium- and long-term aid to the CIS has been scheduled for May in Lisbon (Keith Bush) KRAVCHUK ON CIS. Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk told a news conference in Davos on 1-February that the significance of the CIS should not be exaggerated, ITAR-TASS reported on the same day. Kravchuk said that many of the CIS members are inclined to favor some kind of central regulating organs, that is, to "return to old structures," which is unacceptable to Ukraine. He also said that, in practice, a single economic space no longer exists. Criticizing Russian claims to the Crimea, the Ukrainian leader noted that the legitimacy of any decision made by the USSR Supreme Soviet in the pre-perestroika period could also be questioned. (Roman Solchanyk) KRAVCHUK DEMANDS DISMISSAL OF BLACK SEA COMMANDER. Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk sent a telegram to Boris Yeltsin protesting Admiral Igor Kasatonov's refusal last week to meet with a group of Ukrainian parliamentarians and defense ministry officials, Radio Kiev reported on 1-February (see Daily Report, 31-January). Noting that the delegation from Kiev was forbidden to meet with other representatives of the fleet in what Kravchuk charged was a violation of the Constitution and laws of Ukraine, the telegram asked for Kasatonov's removal. Interfax reported on 31-January that Kravchuk sent the same demand to Marshal Evgenii Shaposhnikov. (Kathy Mihalisko) KASATONOV AND MOROZOV REPLY. Admiral Kasatonov defended himself against Kiev's accusations that sailors who pledge allegiance to Ukraine are being persecuted, according to Interfax on 31-January. That charge was forcefully repeated on 1-February by Ukrainian Defense Minister Konstantin Morozov, who added that officers who are dismissed for their "patriotic convictions" will be enrolled in the armed forces of Ukraine without loss of rank or privileges. (Kathy Mihalisko) RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT ADDRESS TO UKRAINE ON BLACK SEA FLEET. On 2-February, the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation appealed to the Ukrainian parliament to help "accelerate constructive talks across the full range of questions connected with the Black Sea Fleet." The appeal, which was published in Izvestiya on 3-February, also called on Ukrainian people's deputies to acknowledge the fleet as an integrated entity protecting the interests of all CIS members in the Mediterranean Sea region and to recognize, in addition, that personnel drafted into the Black Sea Fleet must take the CIS military oath in accordance with prior CIS agreements on strategic forces. (Kathy Mihalisko) OFFICERS' ASSEMBLY GROUP MEETS. The Coordinating Council of the All-Army Officers' Assembly, selected on 17-January, met on 31-January, ITAR-TASS reported that day. The Council approved an appeal urging that its representatives be allowed to take part in the 14-February CIS Minsk meeting and amended and approved a package of documents prepared by the CIS Commander in Chief for that meeting. Captain Aleksandr Mochaikin was elected Chairman of the Council. As the ITAR-TASS report noted, the Council hopes to become an active player in political bargaining over the armed forces. Russian Supreme Soviet Chairman Ruslan Khasbulatov has offered to meet with the presidium of the Coordinating Council. (Stephen Foye) ARMY'S LEGAL STATUS. A commentary published in Nezavisimaya gazeta on 2-February argues that since the dissolution of the old Soviet state system the CIS armed forces have ceased to be under civilian control. The article says that an "order No. 1" was signed on 31-December that liquidated the USSR Defense Ministry and transferred all CIS strategic and general purpose forces to the command of CIS Commander in Chief Evgenii Shaposhnikov, but that the order was never published. At the same time, the article alleges that the Russian State Committee for Defense Questions is only 6% staffed (18 men), and that plans are already in motion to abolish it and to simply replace it with the CIS command administration. (Stephen Foye) NEOCOMMUNISTS FORM SHADOW RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT. On 1-February Russian TV reported on a conference of "democratic forces" held in Moscow in support of the Yeltsin-Gaidar government against "the red and brown"-i.e., neocommunist and ultranationalist forces. The conference was called to prepare a democratic counter-demonstration for 9-February when neocommunist groups plan to protest outside the Russian "White House." The TV report also revealed that the Russian Communist Workers' Party had already formed a shadow government, the membership of which reads like a "who's who" on the Russian far right. Two of these "shadow ministers" are currently in jail for alleged attempts to overthrow the democratically elected government; they are Vasilii Starodubtsev, member of the State of Emergency Committee, and Sergei Parfenov, deputy commander of the Latvian "Black Berets." (Julia Wishnevsky and Carla Thorson) UKRAINIAN OFFER TO DEPORTED GERMANS. The German weekly, der Spiegel, reported that Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk has offered to resettle in Ukraine hundreds of thousands of ethnic Germans deported during WW II from their traditional homelands, according to Western agencies on 1-February. Kravchuk is quoted as saying that he would offer the Germans the best lands in the southern regions of Ukraine and in the Crimea. Recent efforts by Germany and Russia to settle the German question have faltered because of Russian President Boris Yeltsin's equivocal remarks on the issue. (Roman Solchanyk) UKRAINIAN-ROMANIAN RELATIONS. Romania and Ukraine have agreed to establish diplomatic relations in spite of a territorial dispute between the two countries, Western agencies reported on 1-February. Romania has recognized Ukraine, but relations between the two have been overshadowed by Bucharest's claims to Northern Bukovina and other areas now in Ukraine. The announcement on diplomatic relations was made in Davos after a meeting between the Romanian and Ukrainian presidents. (Roman Solchanyk) UKRAINIAN AID TO CRIMEAN TATARS. The Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers has decided to allocate 400 million rubles (in 1991 prices) to facilitate the return of Crimean Tatars to their homeland in the Crimea, Ukrinform-TASS reported on 31-January. A Commission on Deported Peoples of the Crimea has also been formed to coordinate efforts to aid those peoples deported from the Crimea during WW II. (Roman Solchanyk) BELARUSIAN JOURNALISTS SAY RUSSIA IS MONOPOLIZING MEDIA. According to a report of 31-January on Belarusian TV, the Union of Journalists of Belarus has protested against what they call "illegal actions" perpetrated against the Belarusian media and media consumers by Russian President Boris Yeltsin's recent decree on the liquidation of TASS and Novosti. The journalists charge that the creation of a new information agency, ITAR-TASS, which they regard as an attempt by the Russian government to form "a single information space" and to "monopolize the information market," constitutes interference in the "sovereign rights of the Republic of Belarus." (Kathy Mihalisko) US EMBASSY OPENS IN BISHKEK. KyrTAG-TASS reported on 1-February that the US Embassy in Bishkek was opened that day with a formal ceremony attended by Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev, who said he was pleased that of the 80 countries that have recognized Kyrgyzstan, the US was the first to open an embassy there. (Bess Brown) SIGNS OF LIBERALIZATION IN UZBEKISTAN. ITAR-TASS (31-January) and Moskovskie novosti (No. 4, 1992) report indications that Uzbek president Islam Karimov, shaken by the student riots of 16-17-January, is considering a liberalization of political life in Uzbekistan. He promised to register all political parties, according to the ITAR-TASS report, although it was unclear if the Islamic Renaissance Party would be included. Karimov has also spoken positively of the role played by the Popular Front "Birlik" during the disturbances, praising it for not giving in to provocation. Karimov blamed the riots on rival groupings within ruling circles. (Bess Brown) MOLDOVAN OFFICIAL SAYS REUNIFICATION NOT A BILATERAL MOLDOVAN-ROMANIAN ISSUE. Moldovan Presidential Counsellor Oazu Nantoi told Moldovapres and TASS on 1-February that the recognition of Moldova by over 80 states and the republic's admission to CSCE and impending accession to other international bodies had "consolidated Moldovan statehood." Any hypothetical "merger" with Romania would therefore no longer be a bilateral Moldovan-Romanian issue but an international one. (Vladimir Socor) RUSSIAN ULTRANATIONALISTS, COMMUNISTS DEMONSTRATE OUTSIDE MOLDOVAN MISSION IN MOSCOW. For the third consecutive Sunday, members of the Union for the Defense of Soviet Citizens, Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal-Democratic Party, Working Russia, Slavic Union, and the Russian Rebirth Party demonstrated on 2-February in front of Moldova's mission in Moscow in support of the would-be "Dniester republic," ITAR-TASS reported that day. The demonstrators also picketed the Romanian embassy, alleging that Romania had delivered arms to Moldova. (Vladimir Socor) PATRIARCH ALEKSII ON ANTISEMITISM. Moskovskie novosti No. 4 published the speech Patriarch Aleksii delivered to a meeting of representatives of Jewish communities in New York during the Patriarch's visit there in November, 1991. In this address the Patriarch stressed the common religious base and the mutual understanding between Judaism and Orthodoxy. He cited a number of leading Orthodox hierarchs and theologians who openly condemned anti-semitism during the last century, the beginning of this century, and during the Second World War. (Oxana Antic) BALTIC STATES TROOP WITHDRAWAL TALKS. On 31-January a Russian delegation headed by Deputy Premier Sergei Shakhrai held talks in Vilnius on the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Lithuania, Radio Lithuania reported on 1-February. Shakhrai and Deputy Chairman of the Lithuanian Supreme Council Ceslovas Stankevicius signed a communique that stated that the withdrawal will be conducted with respect for the independence and sovereignty of Lithuania, strictly observing Lithuanian law and agreements between the two parties. The withdrawal will begin in February. Moving on to Riga, the Russian delegation agreed to regard former USSR troops in Latvia "as foreign military forces which are to be withdrawn from the territory of another sovereign state," according to the communique issued by Shakhrai and Latvian Minister of State Janis Dinevics on 1-February. The accord was seen as a first step leading to a treaty. Dinevics told Reuters that day that laborious negotiations lie ahead. It was decided that withdrawal would begin in March and the timetable would take into account the security interests of both Russia and Latvia and the welfare of the troops and their families. It was not agreed when the last of the troops (estimated at over 50,000) will leave Latvia. (Saulius Girnius & Dzintra Bungs) SOVIET VETERANS' RIGHTS ORGANIZATION IN LATVIA. The Council of USSR Armed Forces and Labor Veterans, outlawed because of its efforts to undermine the restoration of Latvia's independence and to support the failed August 1991 coup in Moscow, has reconstituted itself into the Council to Defend Veterans' Rights, but kept its leader Anatolii Lebedev. The report in Diena on 31-January did not say when the reorganization took place but noted that the new council is legal under current Latvian laws. The new council is closely affiliated with the Veterans' Social Welfare Fund and both organizations were established at the same time by essentially the same people. Profits from the sale of various equipment from the bases of the Northwestern Group of Forces in Latvia are deposited into the welfare fund. (Dzintra Bungs) PEOPLE'S FRONT: ANCIEN RÉGIME OUT OF LATVIAN GOVERNMENT. The Council of the People's Front of Latvia decided that a law should be drafted barring for five years from certain public offices persons who actively campaigned against Latvia's independence, or held leading positions in organizations opposing the restoration of an independent and democratic Republic of Latvia. The decision was made on 25-January, according to Diena of 27-January. The restriction would apply to a wide variety of elected and appointed positions, including those in the Supreme Council, national and local governments, home guard, courts, etc. The proposal originated with the PFL Radical Association, as reported by BNS on 24-January. (Dzintra Bungs) LITHUANIA, EC INITIAL TRADE AGREEMENT. On 31-January Vytenis Aleskaitis, Lithuania's Minister of International Economic Relations, initialed an agreement on trade and economic cooperation in Brussels, RFE/RL reported. The agreement provides for most-favored-nation status in trade except for coal, steel, and textiles. Talks have begun for a separate agreement on textiles. Aleskaitis noted that the agreement was an important step in Lithuania's acquiring associate membership in the EC. (Saulius Girnius) ESTONIAN PROTEST TO CANADA. Estonian Foreign Minister Lennart Meri delivered a note to his Canadian counterpart Barbara McDougall on 30-January protesting recent Canadian actions surrounding delivery of aid to Estonia. According to Paevaleht the next day, a Canadian military airplane that arrived in Tallinn to help resolve technical questions related to an aid shipment failed to ask Estonian authorities for overflight and landing rights. Instead, Canada asked the CIS Defense and the Russian Civil Aviation Ministries for permission. The Estonian Foreign Ministry note, delivered at last week's Prague CSCE conference, reminded Canada of its nonrecognition policy and said that Estonia "cannot under any circumstances accept this impermissible erosion of Estonia's sovereignty." (Riina Kionka) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE CONTINUING DISUNITY WITHIN SERB RANKS. Milan Babic, leader of the ethnic Serbs in Croatia's Krajina region, told the BBC on 3-February that Krajina has not agreed to accept the UN peace plan for the former Yugoslavia. Krajina's parliament's speaker had earlier endorsed the project at a marathon session of the Serbian-dominated rump Belgrade presidency, but Babic said the man acted under duress and in any event had no authority to sign anything. Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic seems determined to bring the plan into effect, but Babic argues it would effectively return Krajina to Croatian control. Meanwhile, on 1-February, about 10,000 people in Cetinje demonstrated for Montenegrin independence, Austrian TV reported. Montenegro has been a loyal ally of Serbia throughout the crisis, but even President Momir Bulatovic has made it clear that Montenegro will not accept junior-partner status in relation to that republic. (Patrick Moore) VIOLENT WEEKEND IN THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. On 31-January Radio Serbia reported that two ethnic Albanian adults in Kosovo were killed in a clash with police as they were taking their children to school. A shootout left one man dead in Belgrade. Police say that there has been an alarming surge of violence in the past six months as all sides continue to arm themselves. The commander of the Serbian Guard, an independent paramilitary organization, however, has accused Vuk Draskovic. Serbia's main opposition leader, and his wife of organizing an illegal network of arms smuggling in an effort "to start a civil war in Serbia." Draskovic is to go on trial later this month charged with organizing last March's demonstrations in Belgrade that resulted in two deaths. On 2-February a federal army reservist in Bosnia killed three soldiers and three members of his fiancee's family. The incident illustrates a dramatic rise in violence and crime in recent months attributed in part to the increased presence of undisciplined army reservists in Bosnia. (Milan Andrejevich) BOSNIAN CROAT LEADER RESIGNS. On 2-February Radio Sarajevo reported the resignation of Stjepan Kljuic, head of the Croatian Democratic Community of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the republic's third largest party. Kljuic cited lack of unity within the party's leadership. His strongest criticism has come from the predominantly Croatian-populated areas of western Herzegovina, where leaders have declared themselves in favor of union with Croatia. Kljuic strongly opposes union and advocates independence for Bosnia-Herzegovina. Meanwhile Croats are at odds over the presence of the paramilitary HOS [Croatian Defense Forces] in western Herzegovina. Estimates say some 16,000 HOS troopers are stationed in the area, but some Herzegovinian Croat leaders say the force only involves about 100-men. Some see their presence as a desirable counterweight to the Serb-dominated Yugoslav army units stationed there. Critics say that HOS's presence will help push the area into war. (Milan Andrejevich) "AUTONOMY" SOUGHT FOR VOJVODINA HUNGARIANS. Hungarian Foreign Minister Geza Jeszenszky told the UN Security Council summit on 31-January, that the "future [well-being] of the Hungarian minority in [Serbia's province of] Vojvodina and of all minorities in the Southern Slav states can, among other things, be safeguarded through the institution of territorial and cultural autonomy." Jeszenszky also asked the Council to consider deploying UN monitors or peace-keeping forces "in all areas" of the former Yugoslavia where tensions or conflicts might arise. Jeszenszky said that the UN presence could contribute to "removing hotbeds of crisis by upholding democratic values and enforcing respect for human rights." This was reported in Uj Magyarorszag on 1-February 1992.(Edith Oltay) HUNGARY AND NATO. Returning from a four-day visit to NATO headquarters in Brussels, Hungarian Army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Janos Deak told MTI on 31-January that Hungary and NATO seek to develop both political and military cooperation. Deak said that there are plans to invite Hungarian and other East European military leaders to participate in the work of the NATO military council, starting in April 1992. There are also plans to accredit a permanent Hungarian representative at NATO headquarters. (Edith Oltay) SEJM DECLARES MARTIAL LAW ILLEGAL. In a vote of 220 to 6 with 38-abstentions on 1-February the Polish parliament ruled the 1981 declaration of martial law was illegal, Polish and Western media report. The resolution also clears the way for those persecuted during the martial law period for political reasons to register damage claims. A special commission is to be set up to determine "the extent of responsibility of persons who prepared and administered the martial law." The Democratic Left Alliance deputies walked out before the vote in protest of what they considered slanderous remarks by KPN leader Leszek Moczulski, who called the former communist legislators "paid traitors and Russia's lackeys." The DLA felt the Sejm should have waited on its resolution until the special commission finishes its work. (Roman Stefanowski) GUS ON THE POLISH ECONOMY IN 1991. The Main Statistical Office (GUS) has released economic data for 1991 that shows a distinct growth in the private sector and a decline in the public one, PAP reported on 31-January. While industrial production in the public sector decreased by 11.9% compared with the previous year, that in the private one increased by 25.4%. Prices in 1991 increased by 70.3% over 1990 levels-some of the increase is due to the 1990/1991 overlap-and the unemployment rate jumped to 11.4%, an increase over the previous year of 5.3%. The Gross National Product in 1991 is down by 8-10% and the 1991 budget deficit is some 3.5-4% of GNP. For the first time in 10-years GUS noted a drop in exports, by 1.4% in fixed prices. Even with a 39% increase in imports, however, a trade surplus of some $190-million was still achieved. (Roman Stefanowski) CZECHOSLOVAK TANKS. A German freighter bringing 16-Czechoslovak T-72 tanks to Syria was intercepted in the Mediterranean by the German navy on 30-January and ordered to return to Germany because the ship's owners did not have an export permit for the tanks. Czechoslovak Trade Minister Josef Baksay insisted the tanks were being exported legally and should be returned to Czechoslovakia. He said he had personally approved the contract to alleviate unemployment in Slovakia. President Vaclav Havel said in his weekly radio address that Czechoslovakia would honor export contracts already properly signed or approved but he hoped no more would be concluded in the future. Another 12-Czechoslovak T-72 tanks are being loaded onto a freighter in the Polish port of Szczecin. (Barbara Kroulik) ROMANIANS RALLY AGAINST ILIESCU. Thousands of Romanians calling for the resignation of President Ion Iliescu participated in a rally organized by the Democratic Convention multiparty opposition bloc in Bucharest on 2-February, Western agencies report. The leaders of the main opposition parties took the floor and vowed to run on joint lists in the forthcoming elections. Corneliu Coposu, the head of the Peasant Party, went so far as to urge the participants to unite and get rid of "the moribund neocommunists" who have pushed Romania to the brink of collapse. (Crisula Stefanescu) ROMANIAN STATEMENT ON CAMPAIGNING IN BARRACKS. Romania's National Defense Ministry issued a communique on 2-February saying that on several occasions election candidates seeking support from soldiers made statements aimed at "weakening the unity of the army" as well as "disparaging remarks about the leaders of the country, the heads of the National Defense Ministry, and the army itself," Rompres reported. The statement warned candidates that statements viewed as anti-army "would not be well received" by the military. (Crisula Stefanescu) ZHELEV IN DAVOS. Upon his return from the international economic forum in Davos on 2-February Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev singled out as his main accomplishment his meetings with the leaders of all Balkan countries. He told BTA that his meeting with Greek Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis had "cleared" the recent differences. Western agencies, however, are reporting widely divergent positions of Balkan leaders on the independence of the former Yugoslav republics. Zhelev said in an interview that the recognition of the republics is a stabilizing factor and he sees the disintegration of Yugoslavia as part of the collapse of world communism. (Rada Nikolaev) VICTIMS OF BULGARIAN PEOPLE'S COURTS REMEMBERED. Historians and public figures gathered in Sofia on 31-January and a church service was held on 1-February to commemorate the mass execution on 2-February 1945 of Bulgaria's political elite, sentenced by the so-called people's court. Prof. Georgi Markov, the main speaker at the earlier gathering, estimated the total number of victims of the central and local people's courts at 20,000 (the Bulgarian Encyclopedia gives the number of death sentences as 2,730). The Union of Democratic Forces seeks repeal of the 1944 decree establishing the people's courts. (Rada Nikolaev) [AS of 1200 CET] Compiled by Carla Thorson & Charles Trumbull
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