|We were born to unite with our fellowmen, and to join in community with the human race. - Cicero|
No. 24, 05 February 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR YELTSIN CHAIRS MEETING ON UPCOMING CIS SUMMIT. Russian President Boris Yeltsin chaired a meeting of the Russian Federation government on 4-February that discussed inter alia preparations for the CIS summit in Minsk on 14-February, Interfax reported on 4-February. Yeltsin has said that the commonwealth leaders will discuss in detail his recently announced disarmament proposals. There have been objections from both Kazakhstan and Belarus that he did not discuss them beforehand with the other CIS leaders. Other topics expected to be on the agenda in Minsk are the financing of the CIS military budget, a draft accord on reducing conventional arms, the possibility of Georgia joining the joint commonwealth military, and the division of the Black Sea Fleet. (Ann Sheehy) MILITARY BUDGET PROBLEMS. Russia is the only CIS republic to allocate funding for the first quarter 1992 CIS military budget, the head of the central military financial administration said in Krasnaya zvezda on 4-February. According to Lieutenant General Vasilii Vorobev, a proposal to divide up CIS military spending will be among those discussed at the 14-February meeting in Minsk. The TASS summary of Vorobev's remarks did not specify which forces are to be funded through the joint CIS budget, nor did it mention the fact that Ukraine, at least, is now providing much of the financing for forces on its territory. (Stephen Foye) NUCLEAR ARSENAL UNSAFE? A Russian nuclear scientist warned in Komsomolskaya pravda on 4-February that the nuclear arsenal of the former Soviet Union is unsafe and that Russia lacked specialists with sufficient experience to dismantle nuclear weapons. Boris Gorbachev, identified as head of a construction department working with nuclear warheads, said hundreds of Chernobyl type accidents could result from attempts to disarm tactical nuclear weapons. He said that the Soviet nuclear arsenal was at present in a "catastrophic" condition. Gorbachev's remarks were summarized by ITAR-TASS and Western agencies.(Stephen Foye) STOLYAROV ON ARMED FORCES. Speaking to reporters in Washington on 3-February, Major General Nikolai Stolyarov warned that tensions in the CIS armed forces are growing, particularly in Ukraine, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Stolyarov is an aide to the CIS commander in chief for personnel matters and chaired much of the 17-January All-Army Officers' Assembly. He said that pressures to swear more than one military oath have divided loyalties in the army, and help is needed both for those soldiers being asked to transfer within the CIS, and those being discharged into the civilian economy. The Cox Newspapers reported on 4-February that Stolyarov is also negotiating a potential barter deal with an Arizona company to provide prefabricated housing for CIS military personnel. (Stephen Foye) KRAVCHUK IN BONN. Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk concluded a two-day official visit to Germany on 4-February with a meeting with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Ukrinform-TASS and Western agencies reported. Kohl told the Ukrainian leader of his concern about nuclear profileration in the former Soviet republics and expressed satisfaction with Ukraine's commitment to abide by all disarmament treaties previously concluded by the Soviet Union and its desire to be nuclear-free. Kravchuk stressed Ukraine's desire for close cooperation with the European Community and explained his proposal to resettle Germans from former Soviet republics in Ukraine. It was agreed that Germany's top official on ethnic Germans would go to Kiev for further talks on this question. (Roman Solchanyk) RALLIES ON RED SQUARE BANNED. The Moscow city government announced a ban on Red Square demonstrations except those sponsored by the government and said it would charge a fee for rallies that stopped traffic, ITAR-TASS reported on 4-February. There was some conflict among various Russian media over how far-reaching the ban is. Interfax, for instance, said on 4-February that the Moscow government also banned all marches and rallies throughout Moscow for the coming weekend. (Vera Tolz) YELTSIN PROMISES TO HELP MEDIA. Russian President Boris Yeltsin met newspaper editors on 4-February and promised them he would make sure they would be able to stay in business. On 5-February, Rabochaya tribuna quoted Yeltsin as saying he would sign a special document to save the mass media, especially large-circulation newspapers, from being "bankrupted and stifled." Yeltsin made the promise in response to a warning issued by the editors to the effect that recent price increases were threatening continued operation of the media. (Vera Tolz) SOVETSKAYA ROSSIYA REVIVES THE "BLOOD LIBEL." The communist newspaper, Sovetskaya Rossiya, has again raised the ancient superstition that Jews murder non-Jews in order to obtain blood for religion rituals. The allegation was made in connection with attempts by members of the Habad religious movement to obtain the Shneersohn collection from the Lenin Library. On 1-February, the newspaper quoted one of the librarians as saying that the Jews are anxious to obtain the books because they are afraid of being compromised by their contents, since "many documents contain descriptions of so-called ritual murders." (Julia Wishnevsky) TATAR PRESIDENT CHARTS MODERATE INDEPENDENCE COURSE. Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev rejected radical independence moves on 3-February, saying Tatarstan will pursue its statehood "exclusively in a civilized and constitutional way." Interfax reported his remarks following a declaration of Tatarstan independence issued by a non-governmental "Tatar National Assembly" on 1-February. Interfax quoted Shaimiev as saying that all disputes with Russia or other Commonwealth republics would be handled through negotiations. Meanwhile, delegates to the unofficial Tatar National Assembly proclaimed the restoration of an independent Tatar state. The assembly said it would seek UN membership and called on other CIS states to recognize Tatarstan. (Vera Tolz) AT THE RUSSIAN FARMERS' CONGRESS. To judge from ITAR-TASS and the TV news program "Novosti" of-February 4, the first day of the Russian Farmers' Congress in Moscow was a boisterous affair. The delegates demanded the appearance of Russian President Yeltsin, but had to be content with deputy prime ministers, Gaidar and Burbulis. They complained, inter alia, about the high cost of credit, the exorbitant prices of producer goods, and the 28% value-added tax. Gaidar promised to support their demands for the right to bear firearms to protect their crops, for police intervention against speculators, and for exemption from the draft for their sons. He also promised them a preferential credit charge of 8%. (Keith Bush) KAZAKH PRESIDENT ON ECONOMIC REFORMS. The president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbaev, told Nepszabadsag that it is essential for the former Soviet republics to introduce economic reforms instead of waiting for Western help. Speaking to a Hungarian correspondent at the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland, Nazarbaev was quoted as saying that "time is pressing, but the West is in no hurry to grant loans. We could find ourselves in a dangerous situation unless we launch reforms." He said that "genuine aid cannot be provided for 300 million people" and urged the countries of the former Soviet Union to "rely on their own strength." Nazarbaev said that his state is "proceeding at full speed towards a market economy." (Edith Oltay) UKRAINIAN ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE DISMAL IN 1991. According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Statistics the country's GNP fell by 10% last year, Ukrinform-TASS reported 3-February. Labor productivity was off by nearly 10% from the 1990 level as well. The 1991 budget deficit was 39.5 billion rubles. Production of some 118 (or more than 80%) of the country's most important products fell, while overall industrial production fell by 4.5%. In agriculture, gross output was almost 12% less than in 1990, and the grain harvest came in at 38.6 million tons, some 12.4-million tons less than in 1990. These developments, among others, including ecological problems, have contributed to a reduction in the natural population growth in Ukraine. The number of deaths exceeded the number of births by some 20,000. (John Tedstrom) UKRAINE AND IRAN CUT $7 BILLION PIPELINE DEAL. Ukrainian sources say that an agreement concluded last week between Iran, Azerbaijan, and Ukraine on the construction of a huge, three-stream pipeline at a cost of $7 billion is Kiev's "largest economic contract ever." Radio Kiev said on 4-February that 50 million tons of Iranian oil will be transported annually through Azerbaijan to Ukraine. Izvestiya wrote that same day that deliveries of gas and oil from Iran will start as early as this year-and none too soon, since in the past two months alone, deliveries of fuel oil from Russia fell short by 600,000 tons. In return, Ukraine will provide building materials, metals and machinery to Iran. (Kathy Mihalisko) VELIYATI DENIES PIPELINE CONTRACT INVOLVES ARMS. Commenting on another aspect of the deal that has caused some controversy, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Veliyati, speaking to Western agencies on 4-February, denied reports that the pipeline deal involved the delivery of arms to the Islamic republic. However, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Konstantin Masyk was quoted last week as saying that his country's contract with Iran "possibly" included arms. (Kathy Mihalisko) UKRAINIAN DEPUTIES TO VISIT THE CRIMEA. The Ukrainian Supreme Soviet discussed the Crimean issue on 4-February and decided to send a group of Presidium members there today, the TV news program "Novosti" and Radio Kiev reported on 4-February. The parliamentarians will discuss the situation in the Crimea after the delegation returns. In the meantime, a campaign to gather signatures in support of a referendum on the Crimea's territorial status is underway. If successful, Crimean residents will be asked: "Are you for an independent Republic of Crimea in a union with other states?" (Roman Solchanyk) BELARUS EYES PIPELINES AS SOURCE OF INCOME. A new law on "transit taxes" gives Belarus the right to charge for services carried out over its territory, Belarusian TV news reported on 30-January. A radio report said it cannot be excluded that Belarus will impose a tax on pipelines carrying gas and oil from Russia to East Europe. It said the pipelines could be a "serious, convincing factor" in economic negotiations with neighboring states. The transit tax law, published in the Belarusian press on 30-January, was approved at the recently concluded session of the Belarusian Supreme Soviet. (Kathy Mihalisko) BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION PREDICTS VICTORY BY THIS FALL. Supreme Soviet opposition leader Zyanon Paznyak told a press conference on 4 -February in Minsk that Belarus will have a new parliament and new government by this fall. ITAR-TASS said the press conference was called in connection with the creation on 2-February of a new movement, Novaya Belarus, which unites numerous political parties and organizations in the republic. The Belarusian Popular Front headed by Paznyak is at the forefront of a campaign to call a referendum on holding new elections to a parliament that is still dominated by representatives of the ancien regime. ITAR-TASS on 4-February also quoted Prime Minister Vyacheslau Kebich as saying that his government has no intention of resigning. (Kathy Mihalisko) MILITARY DATA ON SEMIPALATINSK DECLASSIFIED. Military data on the nuclear weapons tests conducted at the Semipalatinsk test site have been made available in Kazakhstan, KazTAG-TASS reported on 4-February, quoting the Alma-Ata newspaper Ekspress. The data provided so far will enable scientists to prepare a radiation map of the region and assess the radiation exposure to local inhabitants and the environment. The report cited the cooperation given by the specialists at the test site to a Kazakh government commission and quoted the commission chairman as saying that these specialists should remain in Kazakhstan. (Bess Brown) TAJIKISTAN CAN'T AFFORD MOSCOW PERIODICALS. The sale of Moscow periodicals has ceased in the news kiosks of Dushanbe because ordinary people can no longer afford to buy them, Radio Rossii, quoting ITAR-TASS, reported on 4-February. The report blamed the unrealistic prices on the monopoly enjoyed by Soyuzpechat, the distribution agency of the former USSR, and noted that another firm, Ikar, is attempting to compete in Dushanbe, but offers only Izvestiya. (Bess Brown) TAJIK-TATAR TRADE AGREEMENT. TadzhikTA-TASS reported on 4-February that Tajikistan and Tatarstan have concluded an agreement on trade and economic cooperation. The agreement includes a promise to maintain goods deliveries, particularly of consumer items. The two sides also plan an exchange of trade representatives. (Bess Brown) BALTIC STATES ESTONIA REJECTS YELTSIN'S AMBASSADOR. Russian President Boris Yeltsin has named former Estonian government Minister Artur Kuznetsov as Russia's ambassador to Estonia, Interfax reported on 3-February. Yeltsin's announcement came at 1:00 p.m. that day, but the Russian Foreign Ministry did not consult its Estonian counterpart until 4:00 p.m. An unnamed Estonian Foreign Ministry official told BNS that Estonia cannot accept the appointment because Kuznetsov "is a citizen of the Republic of Estonia, and in light of his political past." Accreditation will likely be withheld for these reasons. Kuznetsov, an Estonian citizen by birth, drew considerable criticism for his outspoken rejection of Estonian government and state policies while serving as minister without portfolio responsible for nationality affairs in the Savisaar government. Meanwhile, the Russian government on 4-February accredited Estonia's ambassador-designate to Moscow Juri Kahn. BNS reported that Kahn and nine other diplomats presented their credentials to Russian President Boris Yeltsin that day. (Riina Kionka) KUZNETSOV NOT ALARMED. Kuznetsov is not alarmed over the flap surrounding his appointment as Russia's ambassador to Tallinn. He told BNS on 4-February that "those in the Estonian Foreign Ministry with a need to know already knew about Russia's intention to name me to that position." Kuznetsov also said he had applied for Russian citizenship immediately after Russia passed its citizenship law, but he did not clarify whether he had renounced his Estonian citizenship. (Riina Kionka) KGB ACTIVITIES CONTINUE IN LATVIA? On 3-February Briva Latvija carried an interview with an unidentified middle-rank KGB reserve officer from Latvia, who said that most of the remaining KGB employees received their last salary in January, although KGB chief Edmunds Johansons still has people working for him. In recent years there were 200-300 specially trained KGB officers in Latvia ready to take over in case of emergency; it is not clear what all of them are doing now. Many men who held higher positions in the KGB are now directors of various enterprises. The KGB unit of the Northwestern Group of Forces is still striving to defend the military's interests and gathering information about Latvian leaders, the officer said. (Dzintra Bungs) TOWARD A BALTIC CUSTOMS UNION? On 31-January Diena reported about a meeting in Riga of Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian customs officials. A nine-member working group was formed to coordinate the work of the three customs systems with an eye to forming a Baltic Customs Union, which could be easily integrated into the European customs network. The participants envisaged establishing 11-customs points at the Latvian-Lithuanian border and 6 at the Latvian-Estonian border and reckoned that such posts will be needed for another 10-years. (Dzintra Bungs) ENERGY SITUATION IN LITHUANIA. Algirdas Stumbras, a chief engineer of the Lithuanian Energy System, told RFE/RL on 4-February that a relatively mild winter had enabled Lithuania to escape an energy crisis caused by reduced importation of fuel. Still, Lithuania has been using up its fuel reserves at an undesirable rate, especially after the temporary shutdown of the first reactor at the Ignalina atomic power plant. Electricity has been obtained from Belarus and Latvia-countries that normally import power from Lithuania. Lack of raw materials to process has resulted in a one-third decrease in energy use by Lithuanian industry over last year's level, and the temperatures in homes have been decreased by 3¡ C. The situation should improve after 8-February when the reactor will resume normal operation. (Saulius Girnius) SHOPKEEPERS' STRIKE IN VILNIUS. On 4-February Radio Lithuania reported that all the photo shops in Vilnius have gone on strike, protesting privatization through auctions. The strike committee chairman explained that employees of the shops, most of which occupy commercially desirable sites, fear that persons wishing to use the location for more profitable businesses will win the auctions. The strikers demand a cessation of the auctions, a holding of auctions only if the current employees of the shops are unable to pay the initial auction price, and a prohibition on changing the nature of the shops for five years. The strike is supported by other small service shopkeepers, such as barbers and shoe repairmen. (Saulius Girnius) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE PROTESTS IN HERZEGOVINA. Western media reported on 4-February that several hundred protesters blocked a main road in Mostar, Herzegovina's main town, with trucks and antitank barricades. Mostar's population is mainly Muslim and Croat, and the issue was the behavior of Serbian reservists in federal army units stationed in the area. The army later agreed to prevent the men from searching civilian vehicles and entering nearby settlements. Tensions have been on the rise between Bosnia-Herzegovina's 40% Muslim, 33% Serbian, and 18% Croatian populations. The Muslim political organization favors keeping the republic together, while the Serbs and, increas-ingly, the local Croats prefer partitioning it. (Patrick Moore) UPDATE ON UN PEACE PLAN FOR FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. The 5-February Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung quotes UN special envoy Cyrus Vance as criticizing both Croatian and Serbian representatives for trying to backtrack on the agreement he finalized with them on 2-January. The paper also cites top Serbian officials in the rump federal Presidency as stressing again that Milan Babic, leader of the ethnic Serbs in Croatia's Krajina region, will not be allowed to torpedo the peace plan. They pointed out that Babic speaks only for Krajina, not for all Serbian areas of Croatia, and that the UN troops will indeed be stationed within those settlements, not just on their "borders" with Croatian-controlled territory. They warned Babic to stop obstructing the plan and suggested he could be "replaced, since Yugoslav laws are still valid" in Krajina." (Patrick Moore) KRAJINA SERB LEADERS ASSAIL BABIC. Babic's support among Krajina Serbs may not be as secure as he would like to think. Three main leaders of the Serbian Democratic Party (SDP) of Croatia from Knin have condemned his recent actions. According to Belgrade Radio on 4-February, the party's chairman Jovan Raskovic told reporters in Belgrade that the SDP will resume its activities in Croatia to "restore and safeguard" the rights of Serbian minority in Croatia. Jovan Opacic stated that the SDP was "obliged to oppose hatred and war" and would work toward an agreement on establishing a permanent peace with Croatia's political leaders. He accused Babic of creating an autocratic regime in the Krajina by "keeping the people in a state of political narcosis" and blamed him for misrepresenting Krajina's institutions and abusing the rights of the Serbian people to promote his own interests. Another SDP leader, Dusan Zelenbaba demanded that Babic resign. Relations between the three SDP leaders and Babic have been cold for some time, most recently because of Babic's opposition to the deployment of UN peacekeeping forces in Croatia. (Milan Andrejevich) WALESA IN STRASBOURG. During his one-day visit in Strasbourg on 4-February, Polish President Lech Walesa talked with leading politicians, met with the local Polish community, and addressed Europe's Parliamentary Assembly, Polish and Western media report. He called on the West to provide greater assistance to former communist East European nations that are now pursuing the path of democratic and free-market reforms. Walesa said that for democracy to take firm root in the region, East Europe needs a measure of economic prosperity. Disappointed with the level of Western help, Walesa accused the West of deluging Poland with consumer goods but refusing to undertake major investments. Walesa said that "reality has mocked all those who thought the overthrow of communism would move the Eastern world closer to its Western counterpart." In fact, Walesa said, the richer part of Europe has shut itself off from the poorer part." (Roman Stefanowski) GENSCHER IN WARSAW. On 4-February, at the end of his two-day official visit to Warsaw, German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher said that Germany will support Poland's application for full membership in the European Community, stressing however that full integration will depend on the success of the country's economic reforms. Genscher and his Polish counterpart Krzysztof Skubiszewski raised a number of issues of bilateral concern: trade and investments, opening border crossings to facilitate traffic to Kaliningrad, youth and cultural exchanges, and the recent attacks on Poles in Germany, Polish and Western media report. While Genscher stressed Poland's function as a bridge for contacts between the CIS and the West, Skubiszewski said Central Europe should not be seen as a buffer zone against instability in the ex-USSR, but as "a participant in creating new stability and a new balance in Europe." (Roman Stefanowski) HAVEL AT DAVOS. Czechoslovak President Vaclav Havel on 4-February urged Western investors not to be deterred by the apparent chaos in Eastern Europe and the CIS. Addressing the World Economic Forum, Havel said Western assistance was extremely important and that the West should have confidence in the political changes in the region, as the move to democracy is irreversible. He further said that communism itself had helped the West to maintain unity and develop market economy and parliamentary democracy. He said the West is going through a shaky period in the face of post communist surprises. The collapse of communism, he said, signals the end of the age of "the cult of objectivity and statistical averageness that began with the renaissance," Western agencies report. (Barbara Kroulik) COUPON PRIVATIZATION MAY CURTAIL SLOVAK NATIONALISM. Ivan Miklos, Slovak Minister of Privatization, told Czechoslovak TV on 4-February that the coupon privatization plan will strengthen the Czechoslovak federation and may dampen nationalism as Czechs invest their coupons in Slovakia and vice versa. He said the popularity of the coupon plan, which is to take effect this spring, is "a de facto defeat of the national and socialist forces in Slovak politics." (Barbara Kroulik) ILO PROGRAM IN HUNGARY. The International Labor Organization will launch a program in Hungary aimed at stimulating employment, MTI reported on 4-February. This was announced by ILO officials in Budapest at the end a two-day international conference on employment policy during the period of transition to a market economy. The Japanese government will allocate $400,000 to support the ILO's program in Hungary. (Edith Oltay) CRIME ON THE RISE IN ROMANIA. Maj. Gen. Gheorghe Gambra, head of the General Inspectorate of Romania's Police, told Tineretul liber that steps are being taken to "demilitarize" the police. Also, because of an increase in certain types of offenses, units specializing in combatting drugs, arms trafficking, prostitution, and economic crimes will be strengthened. (Crisula Stefanescu) NORWAY SAYS ROMANIA SOLD HEAVY WATER. Norwegian public prosecutor Anstein Gjengedal said that a Norwegian police investigator visited Romania last month to determine the whereabouts of the 12.5-tons of heavy water that Norway sold to Romania in 1986. It was determined that the heavy water had been illegally diverted to India shortly after it arrived in Bucharest, Reuters reports. International regulations restrict shipments of heavy-water to India, which has not signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, to one ton. (Crisula Stefanescu) BULGARIAN NATIONALISTS BOYCOTT SCHOOL CLASSES. The issue of teaching Turkish in Bulgarian schools has again aroused passions, as it did last September and October, when ethnic Turkish children demanded instruction in Turkish. After the government authorized elective Turkish classes, on 4-February Bulgarian nationalists in the city of Kardzhali called for a protest boycott, Bulgarian media and Western agencies report. The action is to last until 8-February. Bulgarian dailies on 5-February said that Kardzhali schools had operated as usual on the first day of boycott and only 17% of all pupils stayed away. About half of the inhabitants of Kardzhali are ethnic Turks. (Rada Nikolaev) BULGARIAN-GERMAN AGREEMENT. German federal Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Norbert BlŸm visited Sofia on 4-February and signed with his Bulgarian counterpart Vekil Vanov an agreement on qualification of Bulgarian workers and specialists. BTA said it will be valid for three years and provides for an annual quota of 1,000 Bulgarians to improve their professional and German language qualifications in Germany. Minister BlŸm was also received by President Zhelev and Prime Minister Dimitrov. (Rada Nikolaev) As of 1200 CET Compiled by Carla Thorson & Charles Trumbull
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