|Words that open our eyes to the world are always the easiest to remember. - Ryszard Kapuscinski|
No. 27, 10 February 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR LITTLE PROGRESS AT CIS MEETING. The meeting in Moscow on 8-February of government representatives from the CIS failed to agree on most of the 11 salient issues on the agenda, ITAR-TASS and Radio Rossii reported that evening. No agreement was recorded on preserving existing trade links and a unified economic space, on demonopolization measures, the repayment of the external debt, on centralized imports, the tariff-free transit of goods across the territories of member states, and the financing of the CIS armed forces. Accords were signed on cooperation in the fields of electric power, ecology, and transportation rates. (Keith Bush) UKRAINIAN POSITION AT CIS MEETING. The CIS meeting in Moscow on 8-February appears to have yielded few tangible or significant results largely because of Ukraine's steadfast position to safeguard its independence, Western agencies reported over the weekend. The meeting reportedly began with a heated debate over the relatively low-level delegation that was sent from Kiev, which, moreover, was not empowered to sign any agreements. All CIS members except Ukraine agreed that Russia would act as guarantor on future CIS transactions involving the former Soviet foreign debt. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Gennadii Burbulis, however, was optimistic on Ukraine's future role in the CIS. (Roman Solchanyk) GEORGIA REPRESENTED AT CIS MEETING. Georgia was represented at the meeting of the Council of CIS Heads of Government in Moscow on 8-February by a group of observers headed by acting premier Tengiz Sigua, ITAR-TASS reported on 8-February. Georgia signed the protocol adopted at the meeting on centralized purchases of food and agricultural imports in 1992 and agreed that Russia should act as the guarantor of their credits. The "TV-Inform" reported on 8-February that Georgia would also be attending the meeting of the Council of CIS Heads of State in Minsk on 14-February as an observer. Sigua said the Georgian parliament would decide whether or not Georgia should become a full member of the CIS. (Ann Sheehy) YELTSIN PROPOSES UKRAINIAN-RUSSIAN SUMMIT. The Russian President told reporters upon returning to Moscow on 7-February that he will seek a meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart, Leonid Kravchuk, "Vesti" reported. Yeltsin said that after the CIS meeting in Minsk scheduled for 14-February he will ask Kravchuk to conduct bilateral negotiations on relations between Ukraine and Russia, particularly with regard to military issues. Western reports quote the Russian leader as saying that all differences could be resolved and that Russia is not making any territorial claims on Ukraine. (Roman Solchanyk) PRO- AND ANTI-YELTSIN DEMONSTRATIONS. Demonstrations both in protest and in support of Yeltsin's reforms were held on 8-9-February in Moscow and other cities of the Russian Federation, the Russian media reported. On 8-February, several hundred demonstrators in Moscow called for "real economic reforms" to be carried out in Russia "for the benefit of the people, not the mafia," Interfax reported. On 9-February, tens of thousands of people gathered at a demonstration on Manezh Square organized by the pro-Communist "Labor Russia" Movement. They demanded the reestablishment of the Soviet Union, the dismissal of Yeltsin's government, a halt to economic reforms and the trial of Mikhail Gorbachev. The same day a counter-demonstration, in support of Yeltsin's policies, was organized in front of the Russian parliament. Fewer people participated in the latter demonstration, however. Anti-Yeltsin demonstrations also took place in other cities of the Russian Federation, including Ekaterinburg and Novosibirsk. (Vera Tolz) CONGRESS OF CIVIC AND PATRIOTIC FORCES. A Congress of Civic and Patriotic Forces, organized by the Russian Constitutional Democrats and the Christian Democratic Union, was held in Moscow on 8-9-February, "Vesti" reported on 9-February. Both parties left the Democratic Russia Movement earlier this year. Another party, which now stands in opposition to Democratic Russia and the Yeltsin leadership, the Democratic Party of Russia headed by Nikolai Travkin, decided not to take part in the congress. The Party of Free Russia, headed by Russian Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi, also decided to avoid the congress. However Rutskoi himself did address the congress despite objections from his own party. According to "Vesti," the congress called for the recreation of the Russian empire and strongly condemned the policies of the current Russian leadership. (Vera Tolz) RUTSKOI, KHASBULATOV, SOBCHAK CRITICIZE YELTSIN. Three former close supporters of Russian President Boris Yeltsin have each attacked the radical reforms of the Russian government. Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi, speaking before the Congress of Civic and Patriotic Forces, said the reforms are leading to "economic genocide" and suggested the introduction of a "state of economic emergency," according to ITAR-TASS on 8-February. Meanwhile, the chairman of the Russian Supreme Soviet, Ruslan Khasbulatov, told Russian TV that the reforms were initiated too hastily. St. Petersburg Mayor Anatolii Sobchak told Belgian TV on the same day that Yeltsin's shock therapy is too harsh and could end up destroying the economy completely. (Alexander-Rahr) KHASBULATOV DEFENDS THE LEGISLATURE AGAINST THE EXECUTIVE. Certain members of President Yeltsin's circle are pushing a policy line aimed at belittling the importance of the Russian Supreme Soviet, Ruslan Khasbulatov was heard complaining on Russian TV on 7-February. He seemed to have in mind Gennadii Burbulis and Sergei Shakhrai. Khasbulatov was speaking in a Supreme Soviet debate during which it was pointed out that a handful of deputies, who are serving as government ministers, are doing so in violation of the Russian Constitution, which forbids a combination of legislative and executive posts. They should therefore be deprived of their status as deputies. Khasbulatov is also keen to revoke Yeltsin's special powers to appoint ministers without the approval of the Supreme Soviet. (Julia Wishnevsky) RUSSIAN PRIVATIZATION PROGRAM OUTLINED. At a Moscow news conference on 7-February reported by Western agencies, the chairman of Russia's State Property Committee, Anatolii Chubais, outlined the federation's privatization program for the remainder of 1992. Russia plans to sell off a quarter of state-owned enterprises by the end of the year. Foreign investment will "regrettably" remain tightly controlled while exchange rates are so unfavorable to the ruble, "otherwise we would end up with a situation where a shop in Moscow would cost about $1,000." Chubais said that the government expects to raise about 92 billion rubles in 1992 from privatization. (Keith Bush) UKRAINE RE-REGULATES PRICES. On 1-February, Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk issued a decree ordering the resumption of state regulation of prices in Ukraine until antimonopoly legislation had been passed, Radio Moscow reported that day (cf. Demokratychna Ukraina, of 4-February). No reaction to this unilateral and uncoordinated move on the part of Ukraine's CIS partners has been monitored, nor have reports been noted of massive influxes of shoppers from neighboring states. On the face of it, the Ukrainian move contravenes two of the cardinal commitments signed on 8-December, namely to coordinate the conduct of radical economic reform and to coordinate price liberalization. (Keith Bush) CIS DEFENSE CHANGES. The CIS military command has developed a plan whereby two-thirds of the former Soviet Union's ground forces, including armor and artillery, and two-thirds of aviation, will go to Russia, while the rest will be distributed among other CIS member states, Radio Moscow reported on 7-February. A planned reduction of 700,000 men in the "Russian army staff" will be carried out mainly on the basis of withdrawals of troops from the Baltic states, Germany, and Poland. The withdrawal of strategic nuclear weapons is scheduled to be completed in Ukraine by 1994, in Belarus by 1995-1996, and in Kazakhstan by 1998-1999, the report concluded. Meanwhile, CIS Commander in Chief Evgenii Shaposhnikov said in France on 8-February that he favored creation of joint CIS armed forces to resolve inter-ethnic conflicts, ITAR-TASS reported. He also granted that republics have the right to their own armies, but said they should only be created during a transitional period. (Stephen Foye) OFFICERS WARN SHAPOSHNIKOV. Colonel Aleksandr Mochaikin, recently elected chairman of the All-Army Officers Assembly Coordinating Council, has warned Evgenii Shaposhnikov that army officers favor maintaining the army's unity. He also said that if order is not restored in the country by political leaders, the officers will do it themselves, Postfactum reported on 6-February. The report also said that the Coordinating Council, elected at the All-Army Officers Assembly on 17 January, will have fifteen full-time officials. (Stephen Foye) YAZOV SURFACES. Dmitrii Yazov, the former Soviet Defense Minister arrested for his participation in the August coup, has authored an article on the army's problems that was published in Sovetskaya Rossiya on 8-February. According to a TASS summary, Yazov complained that the defense potential of the CIS has already been weakened, and said that old structures should not be dissolved until new ones are created. Yazov also called for the CIS armed forces to be constructed in a fashion similar to the Warsaw Pact Treaty Organization or NATO, and said that Russia should act as the legal successor to the Soviet Union with respect to control over the armed forces. He also suggested that recent arms control initiatives by the US and Russia confer an advantage on the US. (Stephen Foye) LAST POLITICAL PRISONERS RELEASED IN RUSSIA. The Russian government announced that the last ten political prisoners in the country were released on 7-February from the Perm-35 labor camp in Mordovia. All ten were serving terms for betrayal or attempted betrayal of their homeland. According to ITAR-TASS, the majority of those released were either sentenced for hijacking airplanes or for illegally attempting to cross the border. (Vera Tolz) RAIDS ON MILITARY BASES IN CHECHNYA. There were various reports in the Russian media on 7 and 8-February of attacks by large groups of people on military and MVD bases in Chechnya. Such attacks are said to be becoming more frequent. In the recent raids large quantities of weapons and ammunition were captured. In a raid on the arsenal of a Russian MVD regiment in Groznyi on 6-February a major explosion was accidentally set off that killed several of the raiders. The reports differ as to whether the raids are being carried out by supporters or opponents of Chechen president Dzhakhar Dudaev. Dudaev himself, who has been given special powers for 30 days, says they are provocations by the Russian military leadership. (Ann Sheehy) UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT CRITICIZED. The Ukrainian Supreme Soviet on 7-February strongly criticized the Cabinet of Ministers for incompetence, Radio Kiev reported on 8-February. The deputies authorized Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk to form a new cabinet and proceed with a reorganization of the executive structures of government. (Roman Solchanyk) MUSLIM CONGRESS TO MEET ON 26-FEBRUARY. A kurultai (congress) of Central Asian Muslims is to meet on 26-February to adopt new statutes for the Muslim Religious Board of Central Asia so that it can register as a public organization, and to elect a mufti to head the board, according to Radio Mayak on 7-February. So far only the incumbent mufti, Muhammad-Sadyk Muhammad-Yusuf, has registered as a candidate. In the last year there have been two attempts by disaffected Muslim clergy to unseat the mufti, who was charged with corruption and excessive subservience to the state. A formal investigation reportedly cleared him of the corruption charge. His deputy, Zahidjan Kadirov, reportedly attributed the latest attempt to Uzbek authorities displeased with the mufti's independent policies. (Bess Brown) BIRLIK ACTIVISTS ON HUNGER STRIKE. Radio Mayak reported on 9-February that activists of the Uzbek Popular Front, Birlik, are on hunger strike in protest against the refusal of the authorities to register Birlik's publication. The report noted that although the hunger strike in Birlik headquarters had gone on for four days, representatives from the Uzbek Red Cross-Red Crescent Society had not appeared. (Bess Brown) GAGAUZ "REPUBLIC" ABJURED BY TURKEY, SUPPORTED BY "RUSSIAN PATRIOTS." Moldovan Foreign Minister Nicolae Tiu told Moldovapres on 8-February upon returning from an official visit to Turkey that Ankara has officially declared that it does not support the would-be "Gagauz republic" in southern Moldova. On 9-February in Moscow, on the other hand, a congress of "Civic and Patriotic Forces of Russia" [see item above] passed a resolution on "Gagauzia as an ancestral Russian land," Russian TV reported that day. (Vladimir Socor) BALTIC STATES QUAYLE IN LITHUANIA. On 7-February US Vice President Dan Quayle visited Vilnius for more than six hours, the RFE/RL Lithuanian Service reports. Thousands of people lined the route from the airport to the Vilnius television tower, where he placed flowers at the monument to the 11-January victims. Quayle signed agreements with Supreme Council Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis authorizing Peace Corps volunteers to work in Lithuania and with Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius on trade relations and US aid for Lithuania's energy program. Quayle participated in the formal reopening of the US embassy in Vilnius and spoke to 10,000 people in Independence Square, noting that the future belongs to those who will live in a society based on democracy and a market economy. (Saulius Girnius) SIGNATURES FOR REFERENDUM PRESENTED. On 7-February Sajudis officials presented to the Presidium of the Lithuanian Supreme Council petitions with 370,000 signatures calling for a referendum on the powers of Lithuania's president, Radio Lithuania reported. Sajudis secretary Audrius Kubilius noted that the gathering of signatures took two months and was quite difficult as the populace had lost its enthusiasm. Even if the Presidium recognizes the validity of the petition, with more than the required 300,000 signatures, it is not clear whether a majority of registered voters will cast votes for increased presidential powers. (Saulius Girnius) ESTONIAN CITIZENSHIP LAW ONE STEP CLOSER. The Supreme Council is set on 10-February to begin discussing a draft law on applying citizenship submitted by the government last weekend, BNS reported on 7-February. The proposal, which follows up on the actual citizenship law passed by the Supreme Council last Fall, offers a number of start dates for counting minimum residence in cases of naturalization. The start dates range from 16-November 1988, the day Estonia declared sovereignty, to the future day the occupation ends. The start date for naturalization has been one of the most controversial issues in the yearlong process of hammering out a law on citizenship. (Riina Kionka) BALTIC FOREIGN MINISTRIES COORDINATE POLICY TOWARD RUSSIA. On 5-February deputy foreign ministers of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania agreed to form a permanent working group to ensure regular exchange of information; consultations on juridical, economic, and consular matters; and to make recommendations leading to the formulation of a coordinated Baltic foreign policy. The participants agreed to maintain a unified policy toward Russia, Diena reported that day. They expressed concern over Russia's efforts to demobilize some of the units of the former Soviet armed forces stationed in the Baltics. At the recent meetings on troop withdrawal with Russian officials, the Balts had agreed to help construct housing in Russia for the troops to be withdrawn, if Russia pays the expenses. (Dzintra Bungs) SHAKEUP IN ESTONIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY. According to Paevaleht of 9-February Estonian Foreign Minister Lennart Meri has fired his two deputies-Enn Liimets, a Foreign Ministry functionary under the old Communist government, and Rein Mullerson, a former official in the Soviet Foreign Ministry. Although Meri publicly gave no reason for firing Liimets and Mullerson, observers say the Foreign Minister had been displeased that the two had failed to coordinate with the Foreign Ministry their public statements on key political issues. (Riina Kionka) FUEL SHORTAGE CUTS FLIGHTS OUT OF RIGA. Russia's failure to honor its promise to supply aviation fuel to Latvia has forced the Riga airport to cut its flights to the CIS states. The fuel shortage has also necessitated employee layoffs, airport director Vilnis Ezers told BNS on 7-February. Apparently Russian officials at the Russian-Latvian border are not issuing permits to allow trains with aviation fuel for Latvia to proceed. Flights to and from Western Europe are continuing normally since the fuel required for those flights is purchased with hard currency. (Dzintra Bungs) POLES, LITHUANIANS CLASH IN VILNIUS. Lithuanian youths clashed with several dozen Poles holding a demonstration over property rights outside the Lithuanian Parliament in Vilnius. According to PAP, the Lithuanians dispersed the Poles but the police did not interfere. The demonstrators from the Buivydiskes district protested the government's refusal to return land nationalized by the former Soviet authorities. The agency said that of the 4,500-acres involved, 3,750 are to be given to the Buivydiskes district authority and only 750 acres will be returned to the former owners. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) NUNCIO ARRIVES IN VILNIUS. On 9-February the papal nuncio to the Baltic States, Bishop Justo Mullor Garcia, arrived in Vilnius, Radio Lithuania reported. He held a Mass in the Vilnius Cathedral with Lithuania's bishops. On 10-February he will hold talks with Vagnorius, visit the parliament to present his credentials to Landsbergis, and meet with Foreign Minister Algirdas Saudargas. Although Soviet Lithuania had broken off formal ties in August 1941, the Vatican continued to recognize the diplomatic corps of independent Lithuania with Lithuania's ambassador to the US Stasys Lozoraitis retaining his Vatican accreditation. (Saulius Girnius) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE LOCAL ELECTIONS IN ROMANIA. The president of Romania's election committee told RFE/RL that he expects voter turnout in the first free local elections for more than 50 years to be about 74%. Preliminary results are expected around midweek. Some pail-electoral polls and preliminary projections indicate gains for the opposition Democratic Convention candidates in Bucharest, Timisoara, and, surprisingly, Iasi, which strongly supported the National Front in the general elections two years ago. Runoff elections will be held in places where the results are inconclusive. Most observers found no major irregularities in the conduct of the elections, although some smaller problems that were reported included the late opening of some voting centers, problems with stamping identity cards that enabled some to vote more than once, and electoral registers that listed people who were dead or otherwise ineligible. Some voters were confused about the correct polling place to use and others complained they had difficulties deciding between the huge number of candidates fielded by more than 120 political parties. Violent incidents occurred in Sapinta, where an opposition candidate, Toader Stetca, was barred from running because of a crim-inal charge which was later dropped. (Crisula Stefanescu) ROMANIAN INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION IN 1991. According to the National Statistical Board, industrial production in Romania totalled 2.7-billion lei in 1991 (59.6% of 1989 levels). Shortages of fuel-25 million tons less than 1990-and electricity were felt in all industrial branches. Labor productivity in industry dropped 11.6% from 1990 to 1991, while the total number of persons employed dropped 8%. The monthly average pay in 1991 was 7,504 lei-221.7 % of the 1990 level, Rompres reported on 7-February. (Crisula Stefanescu) ROMANIAN-US ECONOMIC RELATIONS. In 1991 Romanian trade with the United States was valued at nearly $300 million, down some $50 million from 1990, Constantin Fota, Minister of Trade and Tourism reported on 7-February. Fota was addressing a meeting of business agents developing commercial activities with US partners, Rompres reported. (Crisula Stefanescu) POLISH DEFENSE MINISTER REJECTS ARMY CUTS. On 7-February Jan Parys rejected a proposal to further cut the strength of the army, Western and Polish media reported. Speaking to newsmen in Warsaw, he said "this is not the time for more reductions." On 5-February the plan to cut the army by 50,000 soldiers was presented to a meeting of the National Security Council. Cuts in defense spending in the two years since the collapse of communism had gone far enough, Parys said, adding "further spending cuts will simply cause a collapse of the defense [system]." Meanwhile, on 9-February President Lech Walesa denied there was a conflict between the president and the government over the army. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) POLISH-BELARUSIAN TRANSPORT AGREE-MENT. On 8-February Belarus and Poland signed a long-term agreement on cooperation in rail, road, and air transport, ITAR-TASS reported. The accord calls for an expansion and modernization of border checkpoints between the two countries. Belarusian Deputy Prime Minister Stanislau Bril told reporters in Warsaw his country has a vital interest in using the experience and practical help of its neighbors in reorganizing transport. Belarus plans to use Poland's Baltic ports. Polish railroad officials have already promised to handle the transshipment of over two million tons of Belarusian maritime freight. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) CZECH BUSMEN ON STRIKE. About 85% of intercity bus drivers went on strike on 10-February to protest a cut in subsidies for CSAD, the state-owned bus company, CSTK reports. Earlier talks between Czech Premier Petr Pithart, Labor Minister Josef Horalek, and the leaders of the Czech Independent Public Road Transport Union failed to settle the issue. Pithart is trying to organize a ministerial meeting to deal with transport problems. Slovak drivers have indicated they will not strike because state subsidies are being maintained there. Czech Minister for Economic Policy and Development Karel Dyba insisted there were no economic reasons for the strike and thanked those few bus drivers who did go to work. The police report that no major traffic problems have occurred so far. (Barbara Kroulik) SLOVAK DEPUTIES TO SET UP DIRECT TIES WITH BULGARIA. A Slovak parliamentary delegation headed by chairman Frantisek Miklosko left for a visit to Bulgaria on 9-February with the goal of establishing "direct Slovak-Bulgarian relations." The Slovak parliamentarians will have talks with Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev and leaders of political parties, an RFE/RL correspondent reports. (Barbara Kroulik) SMALLHOLDERS MAY LEAVE COALITION. According to Radio Budapest reports on 7-February, Jozsef Torgyan, Chairman of the Independent Smallholders' Party (ISP), said in a press conference that his party has no chance of gaining more influence within the coalition and therefore will leave the coalition on 29-February as decided earlier by his party's congress. Torgyan said that miracles could happen but saw the chances that the coalition will survive as slim. The party is getting ready for the role of an opposition party. Even if Torgyan leaves the coalition, the majority of the ISP deputies will stay in parliament. (Judith Pataki) YOUNG DEMOCRATS HOLD CONGRESS. Radio Budapest reports that the Alliance of Young Democrats (AYD) held its fourth national congress in Pecs on 8-9 February. About half the party's presidium members, mostly by AYD parliamentary deputies, were replaced, indicating that the party is getting ready for the 1994 national elections. Party Chairman Viktor Orban was very critical of the ruling Hungarian Democratic Forum, but did not exclude the possibility of forming a coalition with any of the parties. The congress placed special emphasis on the party's liberal and religious image and seeks to join the Liberal International, probably in October. (Judith Pataki) BULGARIA'S STATE BUDGET. On 6-February Minister of Finance Ivan Kostov presented in the Council of Ministers a draft for the state budget for 1992. Details were reported by the Sofia dailies on 7-February. The budget envisages reduced state participation in redistribution of funds and economic activities. Total expenditures of the consolidated (state and local) budget are planned at 105.4-billion leva, which is 47.5% of the gross domestic product. The government budget foresees revenues of 77.2-billion leva and expenditures of 85.7 billion leva. A deficit of some 9-billion leva is expected to be covered by credits from the Bulgarian National Bank. The draft budget will be introduced in the National Assembly by 14-February. (Rada Nikolaev) CROATIA'S SERBS BACK UN PEACE PLAN. Western media reported on 9-February that elected officials among ethnic Serbs in Croatia's Krajina region voted overwhelmingly to support the UN peace plan. Legislators voted 87 to 81 in favor of the program, while 15 of 16-local government leaders had issued a statement the previous day against Krajina's leader Milan Babic, a strong opponent of the UN plan. Reuter quoted one local leader as saying that "from this moment Babic can represent only himself .-.-.-." Meanwhile, the 10-February Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports that the permanent peace vigil begun in Belgrade in October has ended. Its supporters said that the cease-fire seems to be holding. Finally, on 8-February Croatia and Slovenia took part in the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Albertville, France, as independent countries for the first time. (Patrick Moore) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Carla Thorson & Charles Trumbull
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