|There is no love sincerer than the love of food. - George Bernard Shaw|
No. 29, 12 February 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR MILITARY WORKING GROUP MEETS. A number of CIS republican defense ministers and other military experts met in Minsk on 11-February to prepare an agenda for the scheduled 14-February meeting of CIS leaders, BELTA-TASS reported on 11-February. CIS Commander in Chief Evgenii Shaposhnikov was among those present, but the chairman of the Russian state defense committee, Colonel General Pavel Grachev, was absent, as was Ukrainian Defense Minister Colonel General Konstantin Morozov. (Stephen Foye) BELARUSIAN OFFICIAL FINDS MOST MILITARY PROPOSALS UNACCEPTABLE. Mechislau Hrib, chairman of the Belarusian Commission on National Security, told Postfactum that only three or four of the draft documents on military issues to be discussed at the CIS summit starting 14-February appear to be acceptable to Belarus. The acceptable proposals concern arms reduction and the fate of the strategic forces. Hrib said there can be no unified armed forces since there is no unified state. Hrib's comments seem to bring the Belarusian position on the CIS military closer to Ukraine's oppositional stand. In the past few days Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev, on the other hand, has called for unified armed forces. (Kathy Mihalisko) PROBLEMS ON CFE. NATO sources believe that the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty (CFE) is threatened by a conflict between Russia and Ukraine over the future disposition of thousands of tanks and other hardware covered by the treaty, Reuters reported on 11-February. Ukraine reportedly was demanding equality while the Russians wanted an overwhelming advantage in these weapons systems, the report said. It added that if the treaty were implemented as signed, Ukraine would wind up with more military equipment than Russia west of the Urals, a possibility the Russians find unacceptable. The two sides are also arguing over ownership of military equipment withdrawn from former Eastern Germany. (Stephen Foye) KRAVCHUK ON RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA AND CIS. In wide-ranging interviews yesterday, Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk discussed Ukraine's relations with Russia, the future of the-CIS, the Black Sea Fleet question, his working relation-ship with Yeltsin, and his own political career, Western agencies and ITAR-TASS reported on 11-February. The Ukrainian leader once again warned Russia against imperial ambitions but sug-gested that certain leaders in Yeltsin's circle and not the Russian president bore responsibility for Ukrainian-Russian tensions. He also repeated that Ukraine would never agree to the CIS functioning as a state. On the question of the fleet, Kravchuk said that Ukraine probably did not require the entire fleet for its purposes. Kravchuk was interviewed in Pravda and on CIS TV. (Roman Solchanyk) UKRAINE DISPUTES DIVISION OF FORMER SOVIET ASSETS. Ukrainian representatives yesterday again criticized Russia of taking more than its fair share of former Soviet assets, Western news agencies and ITAR-TASS reported on 11-February. Foreign Trade Minister Valerii Kravchenko told a trade conference in Kiev that Ukraine is entitled to more than 16% of the assets and that Russia had frozen gold and hard currency reserves. At the United Nations, meanwhile, Prime Minister Vitold Fokin circulated an appeal to international financial institutions to block Russia's property rights to former Soviet assets until they are divided among the former Soviet republics. (Roman Solchanyk) ANOTHER DEMAND FOR MORE DM. Shortly-after Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev reportedly asked Germany for an additional DM 7-billion to cover the withdrawal of CIS troops (see RFE/RL Daily Report for 11-February), the commander of the Western Group of Forces asked for even more. According to ITAR-TASS and Western agencies of 11-February, Colonel General Matvei Burlakov has given an interview to Stern magazine where he reckoned that the real estate left behind by the CIS forces in Germany was worth DM 10.5 billion. The German Finance Ministry described the valuation as "fantasy." (Keith Bush) GERMANY: NO MORE DEMANDS. German Economics Minister Juergen Moellemann warned Russia against straining Bonn's generosity by demanding more cash for withdrawing troops from eastern Germany. Moellemann said on 11-February in Bonn that "it does not help anybody in a situation like this . . . to burden the atmosphere with unfounded demands," Western agencies reported. (Suzanne Crow) WILL GORBACHEV GET A FAIR TRIAL? Citing Izvestiya, the Daily Telegraph and the Financial Times reported on 11-February that Mikhail Gorbachev and fellow reformers, Aleksandr Yakovlev and Eduard Shevardnadze, may be prosecuted for their role in the transfer of state funds to foreign Communist parties. Speaking at the Supreme Soviet on 10-February, Evgenii Lisov, the deputy Russian General Prosecutor in charge of the case, said that all former Politburo members will be questioned as witnesses, however, on 1-February Lisov had told the New York daily, Newsday, that he views Gorbachev as a suspect. According to Soviet law-while an accused person is not required to testify against himself, a witness must, and everything that a witness says may be written down and used against him in a court (without warning). (Julia Wishnevsky) GORBACHEV HAS NO INTENTION TO CHALLENGE YELTSIN. Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev said, in an interview with NBC broadcast on 11-February, that he has no intention of joining the opposition to Russian President Boris Yeltsin as long as the latter proceeds along the path of reforms. Gorbachev indicated that he will return to politics and oppose Yeltsin if the Russian president departs from the course of democratization and-eco-nomic reform. Gorbachev denounced Russian Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi's call for economic emergency rule in Russia as harmful to democracy. Gorbachev also stressed the need to develop close ties between all former Soviet republics. (Alexander Rahr) CHALLENGE TO YELTSIN'S GOVERNMENT FROM THE LEFT. The faction of "Radical Democrats" in the Russian parliament has formed a "shadow cabinet" in order to oppose Russian government policy in a constructive way, ITAR-TASS reported on 11-February. The cabinet will work out ways of solving both the strategic and tactical tasks of a transition from totalitarianism to democracy, as well as develop a "new ideology of the transitional period," but it has no intentions to actually replace the Yeltsin/Burbulis government. Economists such as Grigorii Yavlinsky and Larissa Pyasheva have reportedly joined the cabinet already. (Alexander Rahr) SUBSISTENCE LEVEL DEFINED. The Russian government has introduced a new criterion for defining the subsistence level, Radio Rossii reported 9-February. It is called the "physiological subsistence minimum" and is based on the retail prices of ten staple foodstuffs necessary for survival. At the end of January, this was calculated at 550 rubles a month. Using the new measure, a one-off supplement is to be readied in February for pensioners and other vulnerable groups, and payment will thereafter be made on a quarterly basis. (Keith Bush) PRESS CONFERENCE OF RELEASED POLITICAL PRISONERS. Five of the ten political prisoners, who were released from the Perm labor camp No. 35 by President Yeltsin's decree of 30-January, gave a press conference in Moscow on 11-February, Radio Rossii reported. They alleged that while Yeltsin's decree pardoned the prisoners, in fact the majority of them still had to be rehabilitated since their charges of the betrayal of motherland were fabricated. The released prisoners also rejected as false the statement by the Russian leadership that they were the last of Russia's political prisoners. They said that there were still political prisoners in labor camps for criminals. (Vera Tolz) "RUKH" ON TRANSCARPATHIAN AUTONOMY. The Ukrainian reform movement "Rukh" has charac-terized as "unacceptable" the draft autonomy status for Transcarpathia, Radio Kiev reported on 11-February. The draft was worked out by the-oblast Soviet, which "Rukh" characterizes as "reactionary" and dominated by communists. Transcarpathia voted for self-administrative status in a local referendum on 1-December. (Roman Solchanyk) STRIKE IN BELARUSIAN POTASSIUM MINES. On 11-February, potassium miners in Salihorsk, in central Belarus, shut down two mines and partially halted work at a third on the first day of a strike. A report that day to the RFE/RL Belarusian service said that the miners will demand the resignation of the government if it does not negotiate with them for a new wage agreement and other benefits. (Kathy Mihalisko) GAMSAKHURDIA NOW IN CHECHNYA. Ousted Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia is now reportedly in the Chechen Republic, according to "Vesti" of 10-February. In an open letter to Russian President Boris Yeltsin, published in the Chechen newspaper, Golos Checheno-Ingushetia on the same day (as cited by the Russian Information Agency), Gamsakhurdia accused Russia of complicity in Georgian events. The letter also suggested that the Russian media are failing to acknowledge the signs of a totalitarian regime being established in Georgia. Meanwhile, Interfax reported on 10-February that Gamsakhurdia had accused the CIS member states of tacitly recognizing the coup against him by allowing a Georgian representative to participate in the CIS meeting held in Moscow on 8-February. (Carla Thorson) NEW APPOINTMENTS IN ARMENIA. Armenian President Lev Ter-Petrosyan has appointed three new top officials, ITAR-TASS reported on 11-February. The new interior minister is Vano Siradegyan, the chairman of the Board of Directors of the ruling Armenian National Movement. Valerii Pogosyan, the former interior minister, has now been placed in charge of the National Security Agency (the former Armenian KGB), while General Usik Arutunyan, the former chairman of the Armenian KGB, has been named head of the Tax Inspectorate. (Carla Thorson) KYRGYZ GOVERNMENT REORGANIZED. Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev has reorganized the structure of the government of Kyrgyzstan, cutting in half the number of ministries and departments, KyrgyzTAG-TASS reported on 11-February. Akaev subordinated the government directly to himself, and made newly-appointed Prime Minister Tursunbek Chyngyshev his deputy chairman. The appointment was reported to RFE/RL by Bishkek journalist Tynchtykbek Chorotegin, who also quoted Akaev as saying that the new government is the first genuinely democratic government of the Kyrgyz state. The office of vice-president was abolished in the reorganization, and incumbent German Kuznetsov has been appointed a deputy prime minister. (Bess Brown) TURKMENISTAN DENIES TRAINING SOLDIERS FOR KARABAKH CONFLICT. The press service of Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov has denied a report in Moskovskie novosti that Central Asian republics, including Turkmenistan, are training Azerbaijani soldiers for service in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Turkmenpress-TASS reported on 11-February. The press service denial described the Moskovskie novosti report as disinformation intended to destabilize interethnic relations in Turkmenistan. The concern is not without foundation: in 1989 Armenian shops in Ashkhabad were attacked by crowds angered over the high prices charged by cooperative traders. Niyazov appeared on TV to reassure Turkmenistan's Armenian population. (Bess Brown) BAKER IN MOLDOVA. US Secretary of State James Baker held four hours of talks with President Mircea Snegur and other Moldovan leaders on 11-February in Chisinau. Following the talks Baker told a joint news conference (which was carried by Moldovan TV and reported by Western agencies) that he was "very pleased with Moldova's commitment to democracy, human rights, the peaceful resolution of disputes, and the transition to a market economy." Baker also termed "fully satisfactory" Moldova's guarantees of the rights of ethnic minorities. He praised Moldova's readiness to sign the treaties curbing nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and to adhere to limitations on conventional forces negotiated as part of the CSCE process. Baker further told the press conference that the US supports Moldova's admission to inter-national bodies and is prepared to establish diplo-matic relations with Moldova shortly. (Vladimir Socor) SNEGUR DUE IN WASHINGTON. Baker announced at the same press conference that Snegur is expected next week to visit the White House in Washington. Snegur in his turn told the press conference that he has invited President George Bush for an official visit to Moldova. (Vladimir Socor) "DNIESTER REPUBLIC" LEADERS SAID TO PLAN MILITARY OPERATIONS. Moskovskie novosti, No.-5, reports from Tiraspol that "Dniester republic" officials are "analyzing several scenarios of war with Chisinau" and "thoroughly preparing for it." The chairman of the would-be republic's "Defense Committee," Vladimir Rylyakov (who is a former Komsomol official) told Moskovskie novosti's correspondent that in the event of an attack by Chisinau, the "Dniester republic" would use the large arms stores of the military in the area "to arm the entire adult population" and "prepare an Afghanistan here." Chisinau has, however, consistently shied away from a military confrontation with the "Dniester republic," propounding a political solution. (Vladimir Socor) BALTIC STATES ESTONIAN STATE OF EMERGENCY ENDS. In the second day of trying, the Estonian Supreme Council finally mustered enough votes to nullify the state of emergency it declared on 16-January. According to ETA on 11-January, the nullification motion passed 55-0, with 12-abstentions. (Riina Kionka) PRIVATIZATION DISCUSSIONS IN CHAMBERS-.-.-. . On 11-February the Latvian Supreme Council started discussing the government's program for the privatization of state property. The deputies interviewed later that day by Radio Riga said that while the program has some merits, there are points in it that require clarification and expansion. Besides the government's program, there are two other privatization programs under consideration, one drafted by the Supreme Council's economics commission and the other by the People's Front of Latvia. (Dzintra Bungs) .-.-.-AND ON THE STREETS. On 11-February the Lithuanian parliament was picketed by employees of small service shops from Vilnius, Kaunas, Panevezys, and elsewhere demanding a halt to privatization of their shops by means of auctions, Radio Lithuania reported. They urged that auctions be held only if the employees are unable to purchase the shops. Deputy chairman of the Lithuanian Supreme Council Kazimieras Motieka told them that the protest was an indication that the laws might have to be amended. The parliament also passed a nonbinding resolution calling for a halt in the sale of small service shops. (Saulius Girnius) LANDSBERGIS IN GERMANY. On 11-February Chairman of the Lithuanian Supreme Council Vytautas Landsbergis held talks with German Chancellery Minister Friedrich Bohl, an RFE/RL correspondent in Bonn reported. Bohl stressed Germany's support for the speedy signing of a trade and cooperation accord between the EC and Lithuania and praised Lithuanian cooperation in the transit of Soviet troops from Germany. Lands-bergis also attended the founding session of the German-Baltic parliamentary group that elected Wolfgang von Stetten its chairman and met Social Democratic Party leader Hans-Ulrich Klose. Klaus Asche, the vice president of the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, explained that his organization will support Lithuania's membership in the IMF and other financial organizations. (Saulius Girnius) TRANSFER OF IMPRISONED OMON COMMANDER TO RUSSIA-A RUMOR. Latvian Minister of State Janis Dinevics denied that on 1-February that he had suggested to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai that there is a possibility of transfer of OMON commander Sergei Parfenov to Russia, Diena reported on 10-February. Such a story, disseminated by the Russian news agency RIA on 4-February, was also denied by Shakhrai's press secretary. Parfenov is currently awaiting trial in Riga; he is accused of involvement in the violence committed by OMON in January and August 1991 in Latvia. A campaign for his release has been started in Russia despite the fact that he was extradited from Russia to Latvia with the full cooperation of the RSFSR Procuracy. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIAN-CUBAN TRADE ACCORD. BNS reported on 7-February that Latvia and Cuba have signed an economic and trade cooperation accord for 1992. Latvia is to supply Cuba with cheese, condensed milk, and tallow in return for unrefined sugar. Additional agreements may be signed to trade in other products. (Dzintra Bungs) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE POLISH GOVERNMENT PREPARING ANTIRECESSION PLAN. Following the publication of the "state of the nation report" on 10-February, the government is putting the final touches on a plan to fight recession. Government spokesman Marcin Gugulski told Independent Radio on 11-February that the cabinet would unveil its social and economic program later this week. Gugulski said the plan will change the general direction of the previous government in that "it will take an antirecessionary direction rather than the one which has up to now been pushing us deeper and deeper into an economic slump." In addition Gugulski has called for "a mobilization of the entire society." (Roman Stefanowski) POLAND'S CONSTITUTIONAL COURT REJECTS PENSION LAW. The court decided on 11-February that most provisions of the retirement law passed by the Sejm last October are unconstitutional. According to PAP, the most controversial points concern reduction of the maximum pensions rates and the ban on pensioners taking jobs. The ruling puts additional strain on the state budget, but the court has decided that "economic expediency" can not be used as legal justification and the law cannot be manipulated for political and economic reasons. Some 4-million pensioners would have gotten larger pensions and some 2.5-million would have suffered cuts. All three trade union organizations-NSZZ Solidarity, Solidarity-"80," and OPZZ-welcomed the court's decision, but Michal Boni, former labor and social policy minister and coauthor of the law, criticized the action as "political rather than legal." The Sejm can overturn the court's decision if it can muster a two-thirds majority. (Roman Stefanowski) UKRAINIAN-POLISH CONFERENCE. A dele-gation of Ukrainian parliamentarians visited Poland to attend a conference on "The Ukrainian Road to Europe" organized by the Polish International Affairs Institute, PAP reports. The seminar got under way on 10-February in Jadwisin, near Warsaw. Ukrainian and Polish notions of national security was one key topic of discussion. The visitors said-that not only will all nuclear arms be gone from Ukraine by the end of 1994, but all CIS troops will have departed as well. Theconference judged Ukrainian-Polish relations as good, and hope was expressed that the "big treaty" between Ukraine and Poland may still be initialled by the end of this month. Sejm deputy Bronislaw Geremek said, however, that "friendly Ukrainian-Polish relations should not be developed in a way detrimental to [Po-land's]-good relations with Russia." (Roman Stefanowski) HUNGARIAN-POLISH COOPERATION AGREE-MENT. In Warsaw on 11-February Hungarian Minister of Internal Affairs Peter Boross and his Polish counterpart Antoni Macierewicz signed a cooperation agreement aimed at coordinating responses to the increasing flow of refugees across their borders, MTI reported. The agreement will allow the two interior ministries to exchange information on refugees and other related issues. Boross told reporters that cooperation was necessary because the large influx of refugees heading west from the former Soviet Union could pose problems for both countries. (Edith Oltay) HUNGARIAN BORDER GUARDS SHOT 12 DEAD BETWEEN 1972-1989. Attila Krisan, a spokesman for the Hungarian Border Guard told MTI that between 1972 and 1989 Hungarian guards shot dead 12 people who failed to stop when challenged at the border. Krisan said that until 1989 guards had orders to shoot border violators who failed to stop on warning. The victims included 7 Hungarians, one each from Romania, the GDR and Bulgaria, and two unidentified persons. Krisan said that since 1989 guards have been prohibited from using their firearms to stop border violators, and weapons can only be used in self-defense or as a final resort to prevent serious crimes. (Edith Oltay) ROMANIAN OPPOSITION STRONG IN CITIES, RULING FRONT IN COUNTRYSIDE. Partial results of the local elections show the opposition Democratic Convention leading races in the major cities, including Bucharest, and in Transylvania, while the governing National Front retains its popularity in the countryside and in the northeast, Rompres reported. Foreign observers noted progress in the conduct of the elections but said that many problems remain, particularly in vote counting. According to Nicolae Manolescu, leader of the Civic Alliance Party, the slow vote count in remote rural areas means "we cannot rule out the possibility of electoral fraud." (Crisula Stefanescu) ROMANIA'S HIGHWAY PLANS. Minister for Transport Traian Basescu told RFE that Romania plans to build-with foreign participation-more than 1,400 km of four-lane highways before the year 2000 and another 1,600 km after the turn of the century to link important towns and to connect Romania to the rest of Europe. At present there is only one 113-km highway in the country and another one under construction by Italian and French companies in cooperation with Romanian firms. Romania will finance the new highways by allowing builders to charge tolls and by granting concessions to operate gas stations, shops, and other facilities. (Crisula Stefanescu) PODKREPA CONGRESS. The Confederation of Labor Podkrepa, Bulgaria's former opposition labor union, began its second congress on 8-February, the third anniversary of its foundation. The press reported on 11-February that Chairman Konstantin Trenchev and Deputy Chairman Oleg Chulev were reelected almost unanimously. A move to ban former communists from membership in Podkrepa caused a major row because it would have violated the principle of freedom to join labor unions; in the event, excommunists were only banned from holding leading positions. The congress expelled some organizations that have supported a separatist Podkrepa faction headed by Plamen Darakchiev. At the opening session Podkrepa was given warm support by the UDF, despite its opposition to some ministers of the UDF government which it upheld during the congress. (Rada Nikolaev) DOCUMENTS ON MARKOV MURDER. On 10-February Scotland Yard delivered documents, including the autopsy report, on the death of exile writer Georgi Markov, the victim of the "umbrella murder" in London in 1978. According to Bulgarian media, the documents confirm that he was murdered by a poison pellet. Over the past several days the local media have carried interviews with Markov's brother Nikola, who lives in the US and is visiting Bulgaria for the first time since the murder. He is expected to provide some background on the case, and more information is also expected from former Soviet secret service general Oleg Kalugin, due to visit Sofia later this week. (Rada Nikolaev) MESIC CALLS FOR "DELEGALIZATION OF YUGOSLAVIA"-.-.-. On 11-February the leaders of a number of Croatian political parties as well as other top Croatian officials spoke to a conference in Bonn, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Stipe Mesic, secretary-general of the Croatian Democratic Community, called on the international community to "derecognize" Yugoslavia in order to remove the legal underpinnings of the federal army. He noted that Serbia is using federal institutions for its own ends and claimed that Serbia will try to maintain some sort of federation because it "needs others' money" to survive. Mesic stressed that Croatia's Serbs have more rights under current Croatian law than they did under Tito and have lost only the privileges many of them enjoyed as part of the communist power network. (Patrick Moore) .-.-.-AND RECOGNITION OF INDIVIDUAL REPUB-LICS. Mesic also called on the EC to recognize all former Yugoslav republics that want independence, including Kosovo. The Albanian majority-there has voted to become an independent republic but has been recognized so far only by Albania. Mesic said recognition would level the playing field and enable the various former Yugoslav peoples to sit down and talk as equals. The German audience of over 200 repeatedly questioned the Croats-regarding any reservations they might have about the UN peace plan, while the Croats insisted that they were fully complying with it. One speaker stressed that Croatia was having great difficulty developing demo-cratic institutions, including a responsible and free press, amid wartime conditions and after almost-half a century of "the communist mentality." (Patrick Moore) CEASE-FIRE VIOLATIONS REPORTED. Since 10-February a number of incidents have made the news, especially fighting near Vinkovci, which each side blames on the other. On 10-February Austrian TV's commentator said that the renewed combat shows that the UN peace plan rests on illusions and is doomed sooner or later. On 11-February the Croatian government formally approved the plan. President Franjo Tudjman made it clear that Zagreb regards the UN presence in ethnic Serbian areas of Croatia as temporary and that Croatia wants its "civil authorities" to return there as soon as possible, the 12-February Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports. AFP quotes Milan Babic, the Serbian leader from Croatia's Krajina region, as saying that he wants the UN to establish a "protectorate" there to stop the Croats from reasserting their authority. Finally, Albanian and Western media reported on 11-February that Albanian President Ramiz Alia met with ethnic Albanian leaders from Kosovo, whose cause enjoys broad support across the Albanian political spectrum. (Patrick Moore) As of 1200 CET Compiled by Carla Thorson & Charles Trumbull
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