He who knows nothing is nearer the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors. - Thomas Jefferson
RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 25, 06 February 1992


responsible for organizing meetings of CIS heads of state and
heads of government has settled a nine-point agenda for a two-day
meeting of CIS heads of government starting in Moscow on either
7-February (Interfax) or 8-February (TASS). The meeting, which
was originally scheduled for 24-January, will focus on economic
issues, TASS and Interfax reported on 5-February. The topics
will include material supplies and financing of the CIS armed
forces, food and agricultural imports, coordination in the sphere
of power supplies, and an interstate agreement on ecological
problems. For reasons that were made not clear, representatives
of Ukraine and Azerbaijan did not attend the working group's
session. (Ann Sheehy)

YELTSIN IN FRANCE. Russian President Boris Yeltsin arrived in
Paris for a three-day visit on 5-February. Speaking at a reception
in Versailles, Yeltsin called for the "renewal of the Russo-French
dialogue" which goes back in history. He noted that, "our states
have always been worthy partners and have gained sufficient experience
of cooperation." Following a meeting on the evening of 5-February
with French President Francois Mitterrand, Yeltsin said "full
understanding" was reached on disarmament questions, bilateral
issues, and aid. The sides are expected to sign a friendship
treaty on 6-February. (Suzanne Crow)

of the Crimea has proposed a Ukrainian-Russian summit with the
participation of Crimean representatives, the TV program "Novosti"
reported on 5-February. Today is the deadline for two Russian
parliamentary commissions to report on their study of the legality
of the 1954 transfer of the Crimea from the RSFSR to Ukraine.
In the meantime, a public opinion survey conducted in the Crimea
in-January shows that 42% of respondents favored remaining within
Ukraine while 15% wanted the peninsula to be part of Russia.
Another 22% felt that the Crimea should be a sovereign republic
within the CIS. Independent statehood was supported by only 8%.
(Roman Solchanyk)

OFFICERS AND POLITICIANS. The final results of polling data collected
at the 17-January All-Army Officers' Assembly were published
by Nezavisimaya gazeta on 5-February. Some 1,500 officers from
all over the CIS reportedly completed questionnaires. The most
alarming results came on a question concerning the political
position that the army should adopt. Nearly 80% of all respondents
said that the army must have the deciding vote on the army's
future, while only 19% said that the army should wait for decisions
by politicians. On the popularity of particular politicians,
respondents had the most favorable feeling toward Nursultan Nazarbaev
(65%), Aleksandr Rutskoi (36%), Viktor Alksnis (29%), and Boris
Yeltsin (21%). The politicians arousing the greatest antipathy
were Leonid Kravchuk (46%), Mikhail Gorbachev (45%), and Vladimir
Zhirinovsky (33%). Some 70% of all respondents said they wanted
to restore the former unified states within the USSR's borders.(Stephen

KOBETS SAYS ARMY "SIMMERING." In the same issue of Nezavisimaya
gazeta, Russian Federation security advisor Konstantin Kobets
said that discontent is "simmering" in the armed forces and that
unless that attitude is addressed, the discontent could explode
into civil war. Kobets expressed his doubts about the viability
of the CIS, called upon Russia openly to state that it will defend
its interests and build its own army, and called upon CIS leaders
to pass legislation on the political and social rights of servicemen.
(Stephen Foye)

CHERNAVIN ON ARMS CONTROL. The commander of CIS naval forces,
Admiral Vladimir Chernavin, told reporters on 5-February that
recent disarmament proposals by the Russian and US presidents
"are directed toward radically reducing nuclear confrontation
. . . and are both right and sensible." Chernavin nevertheless
suggested that the proposed Russian cuts were more comprehensive
than those being proposed by Washington, ITAR-TASS reported.
(Stephen Foye)

NAZARBAEV ON DISARMAMENT. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev
told visiting German Economics Minister Juergen Moellemann on
5-February that disarmament issues should be resolved through
consultations with military experts and in coordination with
all CIS states, Interfax reported. He added that hasty decisions
should be avoided, and was mildly critical of Boris Yeltsin's
latest disarmament proposals, commenting that there is a large
gap between the "essentially sound ideas underlying them" and
their implementation. Nazarbaev appears to be annoyed that although
the CIS states were informed in advance of Yeltsin's proposals,
they had no role in devising the proposals. (Bess Brown)

Leonid Kravchuk's three newly-appointed military district commanders
were interviewed on 5-February by Ukrinform-TASS. Lieutenant
General Valentin Boriskin maintained that tension in the ranks
of the army had abated after Kravchuk's recent visit to the Kiev
MD, when the president gave assurances that nationality would
not play a factor in decisions affecting military personnel.
Lieutenant General Vitalii Radetskii of the Odessa MD said the
army should stay clear of politics and concentrate purely on
military affairs. His counterpart in the Odessa MD, Lieutenant
General Valerii Stepanov, said that the implementation of reforms
is connected with the elimination of nuclear arms and planned
moves toward a professional army. (Kathy Mihalisko)

TAXES CUT, PENSIONS RAISED. At a news conference in Moscow on
5-February, Russian Minister of Labor and Employment Aleksandr
Shokhin and Russian First Deputy Minister of the Economy and
Finances Andrei Nechaev outlined the first major retreat from
the (nearly) balanced budget that was approved on 24-January.
As reported by ITAR-TASS of that date, Shokhin confirmed that
the value-added tax on certain staple foodstuffs will be lowered
from 28% to 15%, and that pensions and stipends will be raised
by some 200 rubles a month. The cut in VAT will make a "hole"
of about 25-30 billion rubles in revenues, while the pension
supplements will cost around 15 billion rubles a month. (Keith

HOPES FOR WESTERN FOOD AID. At the same news conference, Shokhin
regretted that massive Western food aid, expected after 20-January
in the wake of the Yeltsin government's commitment to economic
reform, had so far not materialized. He attributed the delays
to technical factors on both sides, including problems with credit
guarantees and with transportation. Shokhin expressed optimism
that these technical problems would be resolved in the next few
days. The minister gave the impression that the Russian government
is relying primarily-perhaps almost exclusively-on Western aid
to stabilize the food situation. (Keith Bush)

PRICES, SUBSISTENCE, AND POVERTY. Shokhin told the news conference
that retail prices had risen by 300-350% in January, i.e. by
more than had been envisaged. In the light of the price increases,
Shokhin put the current minimum subsistence level at 550 rubles
a month. According to the TV news program "Novosti" of 5-February,
Russian Minister of Social Affairs Ella Panfilova told the Russian
parliament that day that 80% of all Russians and 90% of Russian
pensioners are now living below the poverty level. (Keith Bush)

Soviet Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov's schemes to soak up the
ruble overhang was the advance purchase arrangement, aka specific
purpose loan, government warrant sale, and zero-interest note.
The consumer paid out the full price of a car or other coveted
consumer durable and was guaranteed delivery after a few years
(see Pravitelstvennyi vestnik, No. 29, 1990 for details). In
his progress report in Izvestiya of 29-January, Egor Gaidar concedes
that the present government cannot meet that inherited commitment,
even when the excise tax on the cars is removed and the face
value of the deposit doubled. [Retail prices for "Zhiguli" cars
have risen from around 10,000-rubles in mid-1990 to 114,000-168,000
rubles now]. (Keith Bush)

The Russian parliament's Commission on National-State Structures
and Interethnic Relations issued a statement on 5-February describing
attempts by national movements to proclaim new national-state
formations and create alternative power structures as unconstitutional
and a threat to interethnic relations and the integrity of the
Russian Federation, ITAR-TASS reported on 5-February. The commission
mentioned specifically the recent creation of a majlis (national
parliament) in Tatarstan, and similar steps by national movements
in Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachaevo-Cherkessia. (Ann Sheehy)

agency (YaSIA) has rejected reports in Russian parliamentary
circles and in the press that Yakutia is intending to secede
from Russia, ITAR-TASS reported on 5-February. In a statement
sent to ITAR-TASS, YaSIA says that the Yakut parliament decreed
that "the republic of Sakha (Yakutia) as a sovereign state in
the Russian Federation is in favor of treaty relations with the
Russian Federation." The crux of the matter is that the Russian
leadership has decided to go back on its initial plan to establish
treaty relations with its constituent republics, seeing this
as tantamount to recognizing their independence. The republics
are insisting that anything other than treaty relations is an
infringement of their sovereignty. (Ann Sheehy)

Chaikovskaya confesses in Literaturnaya gazeta (No. 5) to missing
Gorbachev "desperately." Under Gorbachev, she asserts, the country
made great progress towards his aim-transformation of the USSR
into a state based on law. Since Gorbachev's departure, Chaikovskaya
alleges, "not only have we not gotten any closer to this aim,
but we have gone a long way backward." Today, she claims, "the
law and order situation in Russia is fraught with the danger
of political trials." This seems to be the first time a liberal
journalist has expressed nostalgia for Gorbachev's leadership.
(Julia Wishnevsky)

PRAVDA TO PRINT ONLY 5 DAYS A WEEK. Pravda announced on 5-February
that the soaring price of paper would cause it to publish one
day less per week. (The newspaper will stop appearing on Thursday,
and it traditionally does not come out on Sunday.) A Western
agency quoted Deputy Chief Editor of Pravda Viktor Linnik as
saying the price of paper has gone up from 2,000 to 11,000 rubles
per ton. He also said Pravda had been forced to pay retailers
more to sell the newspaper. Linnik said there would be no reduction
in subscription rates despite dropping one day a week. (Vera

city deputies has forwarded a statement to the Ukrainian president
and the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet protesting anti-Ukrainian material
in the Russian mass media, Radio Kiev reported on 5-February.
The statement notes that the anti-Ukrainian campaign is linked
to Russian claims to the Crimea and qualifies these actions as
"unfriendly." Under these conditions, say the lawmakers, it would
be better for Ukraine to leave the CIS. (Roman Solchanyk)

rights organization in Uzbekistan's history was founded in Tashkent
on 2-February, Birlik Popular Front journalist Vasila Ahmadqizi
told RFE/RL on 5-February. Tashkent State University Associate
Professor Abdumannap Polatov, a member of the Birlik Executive
Council, was elected chairman of the independent Human Rights
Association of Uzbekistan, which is pledged to defend human rights
in the political, economic and cultural spheres. (Yakub Turan/Timur

of Tajikistan has issued an appeal to the country's citizens
denying opposition charges that the party was responsible for
violence during disturbances in Dushanbe in February, 1990, TadzhikTA-TASS
reported on 5-February. The appeal called for a parliamentary
statement on the 1990 events and said that the events should
not be used as a divisive issue. Publication of such an appeal
suggests that the ruling communists remain frightened of the
influence of the democratic opposition, which is still seeking
to dislodge them from power. (Bess Brown)

SOME PRICES REDUCED IN TAJIKISTAN. Radio Mayak reported on 5-February
that prices for some food products, including bread, flour, and
meat, have been reduced in Tajikistan, and Tajik President Rakhman
Nabiev has asked the Cabinet of Ministers to consider the reduction
of prices for children's shoes. Nabiev admitted earlier that
the population had been hit hard by the January price increases,
and social measures would have to be adopted quickly. (Bess Brown)


ARMS FOR ESTONIA? Estonia is looking to buy cheap weapons with
which to arm its border guards, according to State and Border
Defense Authority chief Toomas Puura. Puura told BNS on 4 February
that Estonia would most likely get arms from withdrawing former
Soviet troops. Puura said Estonia has considered buying weapons
from Czechoslovakia and was recently approached by an unofficial
dealer from the Chechen Republic. Puura also said Estonia thought
about buying arms from other former Soviet republics, but that
proved unworkable "since they don't have enough weapons for their
own use." (Riina Kionka)

TALLINN AIRPORT CLOSED. Acute fuel shortages closed Tallinn's
airport on 5 February, Reuter re-ported. Only the once-weekly
flight to Budapest took off-all others were cancelled. Airport
officials have suspended ticket sales until 12 February and were
unable to say when flights would resume. The closure is unlikely
to affect US Vice President Dan Quayle's scheduled arrival in
Tallinn on 6 February, since Quayle is flying aboard Air Force
Two. (Riina Kionka)

MIRONOV ON TROOP WITHDRAWAL. Col. Gen. Valerii Mironov, commander
of the Northwestern Group of Forces, told the press in Riga on
4 February that he has been authorized to deal on behalf of Russia
regarding the pullout of troops of the former USSR in the Baltic
States, Diena and TASS reported that day. He said the specific
withdrawal schedule and procedure still have to be worked out
and that the pullout is contingent upon ensuring the welfare
of troops and military pensioners. When asked to confirm the
correctness of the troop figure-45,000 altogether, of whom 17,000
are officers and praporschiki-used in the Latvian-Russian talks
on 1 February, Mironov only said that the figure is close to
the mark. (Dzintra Bungs)

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai said over Russian
television that Russia will finance the withdrawal of Soviet
army troops from the Baltic States. Shakhrai said that the withdrawal
would cost about 6 billion rubles "in old prices." He headed
a Russian delegation to the Baltic States last weekend, which
agreed that the withdrawal from Lithuania would begin this month
and from Latvia in March. No dates were set for the completion
of the withdrawal. (Saulius Girnius)

On 30-January, Latvian customs officials checked for
weapons a Northwestern Forces' military vehicle and its
passengers at the Latvian-Lithuanian border. The passengers
protested to their superiors against the inspection which was
done in accordance with the decision of the Latvian Supreme Council
of 22 January stipulating that everyone, including the military,
may be subject to a customs check in Latvia, BNS reported on
3 February. Asked about the right of Baltic customs officials
to check military persons, Mironov replied affirmatively, but
noted that an accord is needed, similar to those with Poland
and Germany, Diena reported on 4 February. (Dzintra Bungs)

LATVIA INITIALS EC TRADE PACT. On 4-February, European Community
and Latvian representatives initialled a trade and cooperation
agreement. An accord was recently signed with Lithuania, and
a similar agreement with Estonia is expected to be ready on 24
February, reported Reuter and AFP on 5 February. According to
an unidentified EC spokesman, the accords are a first step in
building closer ties between the EC and the Baltic States and
place relations with the Baltic States on the same level as those
with other Eastern European countries. The accord with Latvia
eliminates trade barriers for many goods, but not for textiles,
steel, and agricultural products. (Dzintra Bungs)

told Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania that they must accept responsibility
for part of the former Soviet Union's debt, a RFE/RL correspondent
in Ottawa reported on 5 February, Unnamed senior government officials
said that notes were sent to the Baltic capitals in January stating
that the republic in question must accept a share of the debt
before Canada will agree to negotiate terms of new credit lines.
Lithuanian and Latvian officials replied by saying that they
will pay back "only the share of the debt accumulated by Moscow
for spending within their own individual borders." This appears
satisfactory since officials from the Export Development Corporation
will travel to the Baltic capitals next week to negotiate the
details of credits. (Saulius Girnius)

FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. On 5-February Western news agencies
quoted UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali as saying that
leaders of Croatia and of Croatia's ethnic Serbs are stopping
the UN peace plan from going ahead. Boutros-Ghali's special envoy
Marrack Goulding had earlier said that the Serbs in Croatia refuse
to allow UN troops to be stationed inside their enclaves and
that Zagreb was trying to renegotiate the terms of the agreement
concluded on 2 January. The 6-February Frankfurter Allgemeine
Zeitung reports that German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher
phoned Croatian President Franjo Tudjman on behalf of the EC
on 3-February, and that the Croats deny that they have reneged
on their promises. The German Foreign Ministry accepts the Croatian
position and rejects reports that Zagreb has gone back on its
word. Meanwhile, the chairman of the EC's committee dealing with
the former Yugoslavia, Lord Carrington, has returned to the area
for talks with Serbian, army, Bosnian, and Croatian leaders.
Finally, On 5 February Macedonian police sealed off federal army
bases in that republic to prevent the military from removing
equipment as the army withdraws. Macedonia says that it paid
good money toward the military budget over the years, and that
consequently the equipment belongs to Macedonia. (Patrick Moore)

KOSOVO ALBANIAN LEADER FEARS WAR. The Secretary of the Committee
for the Protection of Human Rights in Kosovo fears an outbreak
of war there because of Serbia's repressive rule and the recent
activities of Albanian political groups. In an interview with
Borba on 5-February, Zenun Qelaj said that Albanians are becoming
more convinced that "life together with the Serbs is impossible,"
and are critical of Albanian political parties because some have
agreed to hold talks with the Serbian authorities and opposition
groups. More than 90% of Kosovo's population is Albanian. In
1990 Serbia ended Kosovo's self-governing autonomy, but last
year Albanian political groups declared Kosovo a republic, which
was endorsed in a popular vote. (Milan Andrejevich)

Central Electoral Commission, carried by Rompres and Western
agencies, say that some 16,648,000 Romanians are registered for
the local elections on 9-February, and 14,192 polling stations
will be opened. There are 12,175 candidates for mayoral jobs
and 119,736 for local councils, with 131-registered parties.
Almost 5,000 Romanians and foreigners sought accreditation as
observers. As regards Bucharest, the last opinion poll shows
the opposition Democratic Convention's candidate leading with
48%, with the NSF candidate trailing with 19%. Bucharest will
present its new government with major problems. Some $500 million
are needed to rebuild its water, sewage, telephone, and road
infrastructures. It is getting only 80% the water it needs,
and with about 2.2 million residents was short of 120,000 apartments
in 1991. It has had four mayors since December 1989. (Crisula

Nicolae Tiu paid an official visit to Bulgaria on 5 February
and signed a protocol establishing diplomatic relations. Bulgaria
had recognized the independence of Moldova last 24 December.
BTA said Tiu and his Bulgarian counterpart Stoyan Ganev also
agreed to prepare a treaty on friendship and cooperation, a consular
convention, a trade and economic agreement, and a protocol on
the exchange of goods for 1992 and 1993. Tiu was quoted as thanking
Bulgaria for having been one of the first to recognize his country
and saying that, after Spain and Turkey, Bulgaria is the third
country with which Moldova signed a protocol. (Rada Nikolaev)

The National Assembly on 5 February passed two laws on returning
expropriated private property to its owners or their heirs. They
concern expropriation by two different groups of laws, namely
one passed between 1948 and 1952, and another in the following
years up to 1990. A first law restoring property forcibly sold
on the basis of a law of 1975 was passed on 11 December 1991.
The new laws, as summarized by BTA, involve mainly housing, but
also enterprises like cinemas, print shops, food warehouses,
and others. A separate law will deal with property which has
since been destroyed. (Rada Nikolaev)

Committee met on 5 February for the first time under the new
government to discuss the reorganization of the armed forces
and the new overall defense concept, PAP said. According to Defense
Minister Jan Parys: "most of the time was taken up with discussing
the external threats to our sovereignty and internal threats
to the country's stability." The most controversial proposal
involved reducing the military by 50,000 to around 200,000 men.
It's sponsor said such a reduction is both "possible and necessary"
and is in accord "with the general trend toward disarmament obtaining
now in Europe." Cuts are already under way. In the last two years
the army's strength dropped by 14,000, and more are sure to go
after Parys' proposal last week at the Military Council that
all "who do not identify with the new pro-Atlantic option" leave
the army voluntarily. (Roman Stefanowski)

paid a one day official visit to Budapest on 5 February, Hungarian
radio said. He held talks with Hungarian leaders about expending
bilateral relations. He also expressed shock about the economic
damage caused to Hungary by "Marxism," but said that Hungary
is standing before a "flowering future." He compared Hungary
to South Africa, saying that both countries had given up old
and useless ideologies. (Karoly Okolicsanyi)

EC-HUNGARIAN TRANSIT FEE TALKS. An EC delegation started negotiations
in Budapest 5-February over Hungary's ten-fold increase in truck
transit fees this year, MTI said. Meanwhile, Greek truckers ended
their ten-day blockade of the Greek border crossing points to
Yugoslavia and to Bulgaria, which had been launched to protest
the hike. Hungary says it needs the money for road improvements.
The conflict in the former Yugoslavia led to road traffic between
Western and South-Eastern Europe being redirected through Hungary.
(Karoly Okolicsanyi)

CZECHOSLOVAK TANK UPDATE. A ship carrying 12 Czechoslovak-made
tanks bound for Syria has docked at the Danish port of Soeby
but must apply for an export permit before it can resume its
voyage, Danish Justice Ministry official Joergen Poulsen said
on 5 February. The ship is also carrying ammunition and spare
parts, Western agencies report. The shipment is believed to be
part of a deal signed last year involving the export of 250 T-72
tanks to Syria. Last week, German authorities recalled a German
ship with 16 Czechoslovak tanks in the Mediterranean. (Barbara
Kroulik) (As of 1200 CET) Compiled by Carla Thorson & Charles

[English] [Russian TRANS | KOI8 | ALT | WIN | MAC | ISO5]

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