|A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday. - Jonathan Swift|
No. 30, 13 February 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR RUSSIA TO CREATE OWN ARMY. Russian President Boris Yeltsin will issue a decree soon after the 14-February Minsk meeting that will authorize the creation of a Russian army, Russian presidential advisor, Colonel General Dmitrii Volkogonov told Nezavisimaya gazeta on 12-February. Initially, Russian armed forces will incorporate ground forces, naval forces, MVD troops, a defense ministry, general staff, committee for personnel work, and other administrative organs, he said. It will also include all troops in Russia, along with those troops now deployed outside the borders of the CIS. Over several years the Russian army will be reduced into a professional, mobile force of no more than 1.5 million men, he added. Volkogonov also recommended that both CIS Commander in Chief Evgenii Shaposhnikov and former General Staff Chief Vladimir Lobov be included in the new Russian command structure. (Stephen Foye) FEMALE RUSSIAN DEFENSE CHIEF? The newspaper Vechernaya Moskva, citing unnamed sources, reported on 12-February that Boris Yeltsin is considering appointing Galina Starovoitova to the post of Russian Defense Minister, Western agencies said on 13-February. The report said that Starovoitova, an adviser to Yeltsin, met with the Russian president on 10-February to discuss the job. It added that she has support among reform minded officers, but that many top commanders favor Shaposhnikov for the job. Starovoitova's name has been mentioned in the past in connection with a top Russian defense post. (Stephen Foye) UKRAINE AND BELARUS REFUSE TO SIGN PREPARATORY CIS DOCUMENTS. Russian TV and ITAR-TASS announced on 12-February that both Ukraine and Belarus refused to sign military-related preparatory documents for the forthcoming CIS summit in Minsk. The delegation from Kiev, which includes Ukrainian Defense Ministry officials, would not sign documents on the composition of the CIS military command and on the redistribution of forces among commonwealth states, although, as Radio Kiev reported, Defense Minister Konstantin Morozov was "one of the most active participants in the dialogue between his counterparts and CIS Commander in Chief Marshal Shaposhnikov." The Belarusian side balked at signing the majority of the military accords, as its representative, Mechislau Hrib, earlier had forewarned. (Kathy Mihalisko) KEBICH: MILITARY ISSUE IS KEY TO CIS SURVIVAL. In comments carried by BelTA-TASS on 12-February, Belarusian Prime Minister Vyacheslau Kebich warned that the continued existence of the "brittle CIS" would be "highly problematic" if, at the 14-February meeting in Minsk, member states do not resolve such questions as the financing of the army and the structure of the armed forces. Kebich complained that despite numerous statements on reductions in military personnel, it was not yet clear when, how, and at whose expense those cuts were to be made. Describing the financial situation in Belarus and the CIS overall as in a crisis, Kebich said that it might be to his country's advantage to sell surplus weapons abroad for hard currency rather than to set about the task of converting defense plants to civilian use. (Kathy Mihalisko) MOLDOVA WILL NOT CONTRIBUTE TO CIS FORCES' BUDGET. Prime Minister Valeriu Muravschi told Moldovan TV on 11-February that Moldova will not make any financial contributions to CIS general-purpose forces, Interfax reported that day. Moldova will only finance units of the ex-USSR armed forces that are stationed on Moldovan territory and accept Moldovan jurisdiction. Moldova had earlier announced its decision to withhold financing for CIS "strategic" forces and forces under unified command. On 12-February, according to Moldovapres, the parliament mandated the Moldovan delegation to the impending CIS summit to demand the return to Moldova of military equipment recently removed from the republic by the military. The parliament charged that the removal violated previous agreements in CIS on the republican takeover of that equipment. (Vladimir Socor) SIGUA SEES NO FUTURE FOR COMMONWEALTH. Acting Georgian Premier Tengiz Sigua has told Moskovskie novosti that he does not consider the question of Georgian membership in the Commonwealth topical. In an interview cited by Radio Rossii on 12-February, Sigua said the Commonwealth had no future, particularly against the background of Russian-Ukrainian and Armenian-Azerbaijani relations. Sigua will nonetheless be attending the meeting of the CIS heads of state in Minsk on 14-February. (Ann Sheehy) IIF REPORT ON CIS. The Institute of International Finance in Washington, which represents 135 banks around the world, has released a special report on the Commonwealth of Independent States, Western agencies reported on 13-February. It reckons that Russia should be able to make interest payments this year on the entire external debt of the former USSR, but its reforms may not be broad enough for it to qualify for loans from the IMF or World Bank. The IIF's individual member banks are considered unlikely to lend money to the CIS members because these are not deemed creditworthy. The Russian government is criticized for reversing some of its reform measures. And the IIF calculates that CIS enterprises are holding about $14 billion in overseas accounts. (Keith Bush) KOZYREV IN GENEVA. Speaking at a UN disarmament conference in Geneva on 12-February, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev said the United States and Russia should take the lead in nuclear disarmament by taking nuclear missiles off alert status, storing warheads separately from delivery systems, disarming nuclear submarines berthed at home ports, and storing missiles of heavy bombers in central storage facilities. Kozyrev argued that these measures would reduce the chance of accidental nuclear war, and would enhance stability by increasing verifiability, Western agencies and ITAR-TASS reported on 12-February. (Suzanne Crow) KOZYREV ON CIS FOREIGN POLICY COORDINATION. Speaking at the Geneva based institute for international politics on 12-February, the Russian foreign minister claimed that Russia understands the wishes of its partners in the CIS to become established as independent states and Russia does not see any insurmountable contradiction in Russia's relations with commonwealth governments. He added: "A normal process of agreement to mutually acceptable decisions, similar to that going on for decades in the European community, is taking place here," ITAR-TASS reported on 12-February. (Suzanne Crow) MORE ON VORONTSOV. Another report that Andrei Kozyrev will be replaced by former ambassador to the UN, Yulii Vorontsov, appeared in the Russian press on 12-February. The independent Moscow News agency, NEGA, quoted information from "circles close to Yeltsin" that Kozyrev will be appointed Russia's UN ambassador and Vorontsov will be appointed foreign minister. Vorontsov was recently brought back to Moscow to take on the post of special adviser to Yeltsin. (Suzanne Crow) YELTSIN REDUCES RUTSKOI'S POWERS. Russian President Boris Yeltsin has met with Vice-President Aleksandr Rutskoi and told him to concentrate in future on agricultural problems, "Vesti" reported on 12-February. Yeltsin also signed a decree on the tasks of the vice-president which apparently limited the latter's powers. Russian Parliamentary Chairman Ruslan Khasbulatov has said that Rutskoi should tender his resignation if he disagrees with Yeltsin's reform policy, according to Interfax on 12-February. But Khasbulatov emphasized that he himself will continue to criticize the Russian government "if it is necessary." (Alexander Rahr) RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT SEEKS BETTER RELATIONS WITH CONSTITUENT REPUBLICS. The Council of Nationalities of the Russian parliament decided on 12-February to set up a coordination group for working ties with the supreme soviets of the Russian Federation's constituent republics, ITAR-TASS reported on 12-February. It was decided that in future the flags of the constituent republics should fly outside the "White House," and instructions were given to create proper working conditions in Moscow for the leaders and other representatives of the republican parliaments. The question of making the chairmen of the republican supreme soviets ex officio deputy chairmen of the Russian parliament was passed to the committees. It is clearly hoped that these moves will help counteract the centrifugal tendencies in Russia. (Ann Sheehy) YELTSIN MEETS DEMOCRATIC RUSSIA LEADERS. Boris Yeltsin met on 11-February with parliamentarians, who are also members of the Democratic Russia Movement, Interfax reported on 12-February. The movement had organized the pro-Yeltsin rally which took place last weekend. According to the participants in the meeting, Yeltsin expressed satisfaction that this demonstration occurred. The DR leaders handed Yeltsin the rally resolution, which expressed support for current economic reforms, but also mentioned that the reforms were very painful for the population of Russia. (Vera Tolz) SHEVARDNADZE WARNS OF ANOTHER PUTSCH. Eduard Shevardnadze told the German TV ZDF program on 12-February that a new putsch, led by a union of extreme nationalist and Communist forces, was possible in the countries of the CIS. Shevardnadze said that if economic crisis continues, "the hungry people will stop supporting democrats." Shevardnadze said that the disintegration of the USSR took place too rapidly and the current situation in the CIS was more unstable than that in the USSR prior to the August putsch. (Vera Tolz) UKRAINIAN-ROMANIAN RELATIONS. Romania will soon be opening an embassy in Ukraine (and Belarus), Radio Kiev reported on 12-February. The announcement was made by a representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bucharest. Relations between the two countries have been strained because of Romania's territorial claims on Ukraine. At the end of last year the Romanian parliament and government expressed reservations about the legality of the 1 December referendum on the territories in question, and the Ukrainian foreign minister abruptly called off a planned visit to Bucharest. (Roman Solchanyk) UKRAINE AND THE FOREIGN DEBT. The head of Ukraine's National Bank, Volodymyr Matviyenko, refuted charges that Ukraine is torpedoing the repayment of the former Soviet Union's foreign debt, Radio Kiev reported on 13-February. Matviyenko stated that Ukraine is demanding its full share of finances in order to use them for repayment of its portion of the debt. (Roman Solchanyk) BAKER IN AZERBAIJAN AND TURKMENISTAN. Western and Soviet news agencies reported on the 12-February visit of US Secretary of State James Baker to Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. According to officials traveling with Baker, he will recommend that the United States establish diplomatic relations with Azerbaijan, after Azerbaijani President Ayaz Mutalibov said that he accepted US conditions for diplomatic relations, including respect for human rights. Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov was reported to have offered a similar guarantee. But RFE/RL learned on 12-February that leaders of the Turkmen opposition group Agzybirlik were placed under house arrest in Ashkhabad during Baker's visit to prevent a meeting with him. (Bess Brown) MEMORIAL MEETING IN DUSHANBE. Members of Tajik opposition groups held a memorial meeting in Dushanbe to honor the memory of those killed during army and OMON attacks on demonstrators in 1990, the Russian TV news program "Vesti" reported on 12-February. The square where the demonstrations and the memorial meeting were held was recently renamed Martyrs' Square in a gesture of reconciliation by conservative President Rakhman Nabiev. Participants in the meeting demanded the dissolution of the legislature and the holding of democratic, multiparty elections. (Bess Brown) ARMED IRANIANS DETAINED ON TURKMEN BORDER. Five Iranian citizens, equipped with automatic weapons and grenades, were detained by CIS border troops on 11-February near the Turkmen town of Serakhs, ITAR-TASS reported on 12-February. The five also had sacks containing 60 million Iranian rials. According to the report, an investigation is underway to learn what the five planned to do with the weaponry and money. (Bess Brown) DNIESTER REGION ARMY'S FUTURE IN DOUBT. Muravschi Moldovan TV on 11-February also said that the future of the 14th Army-based mainly on the left bank of the Dniester-will be decided in talks between Moldova and the CIS military. The 14th Army has openly supported the "Dniester republic" proclaimed by local Russians against Moldova. In late-January, the CIS command replaced the 14th Army's commander, Lt. Gen. Gennadii Yakovlev-who serves as chief of defense and security for the "Dniester republic"-and placed that Army directly under the CIS command while consenting to eventually place the right-bank forces under Moldova's authority. The move tends to create different legal regimes for the forces situated on the left and the right bank and appears aimed at ensuring that CIS forces remain in eastern Moldova. (Vladimir Socor) BALTIC STATES TALKS ON TROOP WITHDRAWAL. On 13-February Radio Lithuania reported that the talks in Vilnius between Russia and Lithuania on Soviet troop withdrawal will continue behind closed doors for a third day. The 10-member Russian delegation is headed by Viktor Isakov, deputy chief of administration in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, empowered with the rank of extraordinary ambassador for the talks. Minister without Portfolio Aleksandras Abisala is heading the Lithuanian delegation. (Saulius Girnius) UKRAINIAN TROOPS FEED THEIR OWN. An airborne unit of the former Soviet armed forces comprised of ethnic Ukrainians serving near Parnu in Estonia recently refused a shipment of food aid sent from Ukraine. Evidently deciding they were well enough fed, the unit opted to send the delivery to the Tallinn garrison with instructions that the food should be distributed only to soldiers of Ukrainian ethnic origin. ETA reported the story on 11-February. (Riina Kionka) GUARDING RIGA AIRPORT. Latvia's Minister of Defense Talavs Jundzis was asked why the Riga airport is still being guarded by border guards of the former USSR along with Latvian border guards, Diena and BNS reported on 12-February. He ex-plained that the question can be settled via interstate negotiations with Russia which, in many respects, considers itself to be the successor state to the-USSR. This question, he said, is linked to two unresolved issues: Latvia's borders with Russia and their protection, and the oversight responsibilities for the former USSR border guards. Until recently the USSR border guards were under KGB jurisdiction. Now as a result of the political changes in the USSR and the RSFSR, they are answerable neither to Russia nor to any other state. (Dzintra Bungs) LANDSBERGIS IN GERMANY. On 12-February Chairman of the Lithuanian Supreme Council Vytautas Landsbergis traveled to Stuttgart where he held talks with Erwin Teufel, Prime Minister of the State of Baden-Wrttemberg, Radio Lithuania reported. On 13-February he is scheduled to participate at a reception, commemorating Lithuanian independence day, 16-February, hosted by the Lithuanian ambassador in Bonn, Vaidotas Antanaitis. He will also meet with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Economics Minister Jrgen Mllemann, CDU and FDP parliamentary leaders, and the chairman of the Bundestag's Foreign Affairs Committee before flying back to Vilnius that night. (Saulius Girnius) "A WEEK WITHOUT THE PRESS" IN LATVIA. Newspaper editors and publishers have decided to stage a protest action, called "A Week Without the Press," from 17 to 24-February to draw public attention to problems that threaten the very existence of the press in Latvia. The most serious problem is the catastrophic paper shortage that affects all the regular newspapers. Two major dailies are already out of newsprint, reported Diena on 12-February. In most cases the shortages are the result of Russia not fulfilling its supply commitments. Although paper could be bought in the West, but the Latvian press does not have the hard currency to do so. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIA, UKRAINE AGREE ON DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS. A Latvian Foreign Ministry delegation visited Kiev on 12-February, Radio Riga reported that day. Their visit resulted in the signing of accords on the establishment of diplomatic relations between Ukraine and Latvia and cooperation between the two foreign ministries. (Dzintra Bungs) LENIN FALLS IN KOHTLA-JARVE. By order of the city council, a prominent statue of Lenin was taken down in Kohtla-Jarve on 12-February, BNS reports. Kohtla-Jarve, an industrial city in northeastern Estonia populated overwhelmingly by non-Estonians, was at the forefront of the opposition to Estonian independence until last August. (Riina Kionka) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE WALESA URGES JOURNALISTS, DON'T ROCK THE BOAT. Meeting with Polish Radio and TV journalists for the first time since his election, President Lech Walesa appealed for honest reporting, PAP reported on 12-February. Walesa said "our journalism is still groping in the dark: while the old style disappears, a new one has not as yet materialized. Instead of good objective information, journalism in Poland is often narrow, scandal-oriented, even gossipy." Still he expressed an appreciation of the influence of the mass media and the potentially positive role journalism can play, "particularly in the transition period," and appealed to journalists "to protect individual [leaders'] authority and educate people in patriotic and civic virtues." (Roman Stefanowski) SACHS DEFENDS POLAND'S ACHIEVEMENTS. Former Polish government economic adviser Prof. Jeffrey Sachs told Zycie Warszawy on 12-February that, to his great surprise, "Poles speak exclusively about the failures [of the economy]-nobody sees the changes for the better." For example, that imports doubled last year cannot be seen as a sign of depression-somebody is buying that stuff, says Sachs. He also points to the 35,000 private enterprises and 500,000 small businesses set up in the past two years. Foreigners regard this as progress, but not the Poles, probably because this sector is not included in the official statistics. What creates a bad impression abroad, said Sachs, are the relatively high wages (compared to productivity) in Poland, strikes, pressure for wage increases, and the often irresponsible and destructive political games. (Roman Stefanowski) AMERICANS TO TRAIN POLISH OFFICERS. On a one-day visit to Poland on 12-February Gen. Dennis L. Benchoff, Chief of Logistics at the US European Command, and Polish Defense Minister Jan Parys discussed possible American contribution to Poland's security, mainly through training, joint exercises, and, at a later stage, technical cooperation. According to PAP, Parys said that training can start as soon as a suitable group of English-speaking officers can be assembled. (Roman Stefanowski) CZECHOSLOVAK BUS FARES TO RISE. Bus fares in the Czech lands will rise on 1-April, the Czech government announced on 12-February. The higher fares follow a one- day strike by bus drivers on Monday. The government also announced an increase in state subsidies for the coming year; the striking drivers complained of a 50% reduction in subsidies. Transportation authorities plan to cut back unprofitable bus lines by 10%, CSTK reports. (Barbara Kroulik) DIENSTBIER SAYS GERMANY IS NO THREAT. Foreign Minister Jiri Dienstbier said that united Germany poses no threat to its neighbors and Czechoslovak fears of encroaching German influence through recent investments in their country are unfounded. In an interview with the Berlin weekly Freitag he said that Czechoslovakia needs foreign capital and that today the sources for capital are not exclusively German. According to an advance report of the interview, however, Dienstbier warns against any attempt by Bonn to tack extra conditions onto the overall bilateral friendship treaty to be signed later this month. The German Christian Social Union has called for language to protect property owned by ethnic Germans prior to their expatriation after World War II, an RFE/RL correspondent reports. (Barbara Kroulik) HUNGARY, BELARUS ESTABLISH DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS. Hungarian Foreign Minister Geza Jeszenszky and his Belarus counterpart Petr Krauchenka signed an agreement in Budapest on 12-February establishing diplomatic links, MTI reported. Krauchenka told reporters that the establishment of diplomatic relations means "the return of the Republic of Belarus to Europe-.-.-. on both the political and economic levels." He said that Belarus does not consider Russia the sole legal successor to the former Soviet Union, and stressed that Belarus, Ukraine, and many other republics are "collective successors" and will share the former Soviet Union's obligations and assets. (Edith Oltay) SANATORIUM FOR CHERNOBYL CHILDREN IN HUNGARY. A former Soviet military base at Hajmasker is to be rebuilt into a sanatorium for children from Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine, the three former Soviet republics most affected by the Chernobyl disaster, MTI reported. The sanatorium will be built and operated by the Chernobyl Foundation set up jointly by Hungary, Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine. Construction work, estimated at about $100-million, will be the responsibility of the Belarus government. Belarus Foreign Minister Petr Krauchenka, on a visit to the base, recalled that the Chernobyl disaster contaminated some 99% of Belarus' territory and that at least 800,000 children were adversely affected. (Edith Oltay) RUNOFF ELECTIONS NEEDED IN ROMANIA. The head of the government's Department of Local Affairs, Doru Ursu, said that runoffs would be held in 66-constituencies where less than half the elec-torate voted on 9-February, Rompres reported. Runoff voting for mayors will be held also on 23-February in 1,344 constituencies where no single candidate won a majority. The full results of much of the voting have not yet been reported. Radio Bucharest quotes Gheorghe Uglean, president of-the Central Electoral Commission, as saying that local commissions have been asked to recheck the doubt-ful ballot counts and to correct errors. (Crisula Stefanescu) ROMANIAN TRADE UNIONS CALL RALLIES. During a news conference on 12-February, the National Consultative Trade Union Council-including the Fratia Trade Union Federation, Alfa Trade Union Cartel, and the National Free Trade Unions Council of Romania-said that since the long negotiations between the trade unions and the government had reached "a kind of lack of communication," demonstrations will be organized in Bucharest and other cities on 14-February, Rompres reported. The main bone of contention has been the level of the minimum wage: the unions demand a minimum wage of 24,300-lei, while the government offers 8,500-lei. (Crisula Stefanescu) BULGARIA'S ELECTRIC POWER PROBLEMS PERSIST. Bulgarians face power cutbacks of one in every four hours for some time to come. The present round of rationing began on 3-February after a pump broke down at one of the two 1,000-megawatt reactors of the Kozloduy nuclear power plant. On 12-February Zhak Karakash, deputy chairman of the National Electricity Company, announced on Bulgarian Radio that repairs had been unsuccessful. After a test restart the previous evening the reactor had to be stopped again. He said a truck had been sent to bring a new pump and a motor from Czechoslovakia and he could not predict when repair would be completed. Meanwhile an RFE/RL report from Vienna said experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency are meeting with officials from Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, and Russia to discuss nuclear plant safety. (Rada Nikolaev) BULGARIAN LAND LAW PASSES FIRST READING. The law amending last year's law on ownership and use of agricultural land was passed on first reading on 12-February after two days of lively parliamentary debates. It is considered to be among the most urgent laws for speeding up economic reform. Last year's law contained flaws which delayed returning land to its former owners and disbanding of collective farms. The daily press on 13-February said the bill passed by a vote of 110 to 70 with 11-abstentions. No date for the second, final reading has been announced. (Rada Nikolaev) VANCE WANTS EARLY DEPLOYMENT OF UN FORCE IN CROATIA. Western media on 13-February say that UN special envoy Cyrus Vance called the previous day for sending a peace-keeping force to Croatia as soon as possible. The contingent would also be expanded from the planned 10,000 soldiers to 11,500-soldiers plus 500-police. Commentators said that Vance seems to feel that rapid deployment of the force is the best way to preserve the cease-fire that has more or less held since 3-January, and that the men could be on their way as early as next week. Vance had earlier received a letter from Croatian President Franjo Tudjman promising full compliance with the UN peace plan, although Tudjman also raised some "technical questions" regarding its implementation. Vance apparently chose to take Tudjman at his word and return to the reservations later. (Patrick Moore) OTHER DEVELOPMENTS IN THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. On 12-February Austrian TV reported that the federal army had shelled Osijek and nearby towns in eastern Croatia, but it was unclear whether the film footage showed new damage or ruins from earlier fighting. The 13-February Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung quotes the Croatian press as predicting a cabinet reshuffle in Zagreb if the foreign minister leaves to become his country's representative at the UN. The German daily adds that the federal army and the Macedonian government reached an agreement on 12-February by which the army will leave that republic by the weekend. (Patrick Moore) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Carla Thorson & Charles Trumbull
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.