|The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none. - Thomas Carlyle 1975-1881|
No. 32, 17 February 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR MEETING OF HEADS OF CIS STATES IN MINSK. The heads of the CIS states who met in Minsk on 14-February signed a total of 20 documents on military and economic matters, ITAR-TASS and Belta-TASS reported on 14-February. The agenda also included a protocol on a CIS sports council and three items on the sharing out of the property of the former USSR. For reasons not known, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan were represented by their premiers. The Georgian minister of defense attended as an observer. At Yeltsin's suggestion, Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk presided, although the provisional agreement on the Council of Heads of States says that the presidents should preside in turn according to the alphabetical order of the names of member states. At Kravchuk's suggestion, the next meeting has been fixed for Kiev on 20-March. (Ann Sheehy) MEAGER RESULTS OF SUMMIT. As on earlier occasions, the documents signed by the heads of state were mostly declarations of intent. This point was made by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev, who deplored that the CIS still had no proper coordinating organ that would control the fulfillment of agreements. One of the documents signed was on regulating trade and economic cooperation in 1992. This states that the ruble will remain the sole monetary unit for financial operations within the Commonwealth though provision was made for the introduction of national currencies. The purpose of the agreement is to overcome the breakdown in ties between enterprises in different republics, which is threatening their closure. Sanctions are threatened for nonfulfillment of contracts, but it remains to be seen how effective the agreement will be. The Belarusian leader Shushkevich said on 15-February that Russia and Ukraine would sign a bilateral agreement on economic issues within two days, Belta-TASS reported on 15-February. (Ann Sheehy) MIXED PROGRESS ON MILITARY MATTERS. In a meeting that was supposed to be devoted to military matters, the leaders of the 11 republics making up the CIS showed in Minsk on 14-February that they are far from any sort of workable consensus in this area. While half of the 20 documents signed had to do with military or arms control matters, many of them were very minor. Few were subscribed to by all those present. Moldova did not sign the agreement on strategic forces, four republics-including Russia-did not sign the agreement on supplying the armed forces, and Belarus-which has said it would support unified conventional forces for a transitional period-would not sign the agreement on general-purpose forces. Only the leaders of Armenia, Belarus, and Ukraine showed up for the post-summit news conference. (Doug Clarke) ANOTHER STRATEGIC AGREEMENT SIGNED. One of the major military documents signed in Minsk was the Agreement on the Status of the Strategic Forces. However, the text of the agreement, as published by ITAR-TASS on 15-February, showed that many issues remain unresolved in this field. Five of the ten signatories felt compelled to add dissenting opinions or comments. The very definition of strategic forces remains up in the air. At a previous meeting in Minsk, on 30-December 1991, the CIS heads of state had agreed on a very broad definition which covered virtually all forces other than ground forces. The latest agreement merely says that the list of strategic forces will be "determined by each state in agreement with the command of the strategic forces" and will be confirmed by the Council of Heads of States. It is not even clear when the new agreement will take affect: one paragraph says it will come into force 10 days after all signatories have ratified it, while another says that it comes into force from the moment it is signed. (Doug Clarke) DETAILS OF SOME OTHER DOCUMENTS ADOPTED. ITAR-TASS issued on 15-February the texts of 7 of the documents signed by all eleven member states. One of these is a declaration of the principles of collaboration of member states, clearly inspired by Ukraine, under which member states undertake not to meddle in each other's affairs, respect each other's territorial integrity, and report objectively in the mass media on developments in member states. A protocol instructs the ministries of foreign affairs of member states to draw up for review in Kiev on 20-March, a document on the question of the legal heirship of treaties, all the property, the state archives, the debts and assets of the former USSR. An agreement on railway transport, which refers to the existence of a single economic space, provided for the creation of a council to coordinate the railways. (Ann Sheehy) SHAPOSHNIKOV CONFIRMED AS COMMANDER. Marshal Evgenii Shaposhnikov was confirmed as commander in chief of the Joint Armed Forces of the Commonwealth, ITAR-TASS reported on 15-February. The former Soviet defense minister has been criticized in the past by several of the republican leaders, especially Leonid Kravchuk, but the Ukrainian leader signed the appointing agreement. Turkmenistan and Moldova did not. Kravchuk told the post-summit news conference that Shaposhnikov had been asked to nominate candidates for commander of the strategic forces, commander of the unified conventional forces, and the chief of the general staff when the Council of Heads of States meets in Kiev on 20 March. (Doug Clarke) SHUSHKEVICH REVIEWS CIS SUMMIT. Belarusian leader Stanislau Shushkevich, in a valiant effort to paper over the cracks in the Commonwealth, told reporters at a press conference on 15-February, a day after the Minsk summit, that "we understand that the Commonwealth is a structure we cannot live without." Western and CIS agencies further quoted him as saying that "the illnesses in the states of the Commonwealth are the same, and we must unite to treat them." Shushkevich said that Belarus was one of four states-the others being Ukraine, Moldova, and Azerbaijan-that is not interested in joining a unified conventional armed force. However, he continued, for the time being the four are still part of a unified military. Shushkevich suggested that it would take about two years for Belarus to have its own armed forces. (Kathy Mihalisko) NAZARBAEV: KAZAKHSTAN A NUCLEAR STATE. In a 16-February interview on Ostankino TV, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev explained his republic's position on nuclear weapons. Although it aspired to be a nonnuclear state, it currently was one since, "through no fault of our own," Kazakhstan carried out a nuclear test in 1949. [The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty defines a nuclear state as one that has "manufactured and exploded" a nuclear weapon or device prior to 1967.] Nazarbayev said that Kazakhstan was getting rid of all the tactical nuclear weapons on its territory and would be willing to destroy the strategic ones if the United States, "the former Soviet Union, and our neighbor-the PRC [China]-" destroyed theirs. (Doug Clarke) UKRAINE, GEORGIA ANGRY AT SALE OF BLACK SEA SHIPS. During the Minsk summit Kravchuk is reported to have accused Shaposhnikov of creating a joint stock company that is "surreptitiously" selling off the Black Sea Fleet, according to a 14-February report on the "Novosti" newscast. Forty-nine warships were said to have been involved. Shaposhnikov is reported to have said that he had permission to make such deals. Interfax on 16-February reported that the Georgian observer delegation to the summit had also protested to Russia over the sales. Over the past several years the Soviet navy has been selling obsolete warships for scrap to foreign buyers on the grounds that there were insufficient yards within the former USSR capable of breaking them up. (Doug Clarke) GEORGIA WANTS PART OF BLACK SEA FLEET. Interfax reported on 14-February that Georgian Defense Minister Lt. Gen. Levan Sharashenidze, who attended the Minsk summit as an observer, said that Georgia "will definitely claim part of the Black Sea Fleet." He was quoted by Kuranty on 15-February as saying this meant first and foremost the naval base at Poti and a brigade of ships. (Doug Clarke) BLACK SEA MARINE COMMANDER SACKED. The commander of a Black Sea Fleet naval infantry (marine) battalion, Major Aleksandr Golobrodov, was dismissed by the fleet commander, Interfax reported on 15-February. Golobrodov and his battalion had expressed the wish to take the oath of allegiance to Ukraine. (Doug Clarke) RUSSIAN PILOTS "DEFECT" FROM UKRAINE. Six Russian aircrews flew their Su-24 FENCER jet bombers from their airbase at Starokonstantinov in Ukraine to Belarus and then on to Russia on 14-February, ITAR-TASS reported. The 13 airmen involved had refused to take an oath of allegiance to Ukraine. The aircraft were unarmed, but the pilots brought along their regimental banner. Ukrainian Defense Minister Konstantin Morozov called the unauthorized flight "a crime" and told Interfax that the Russian pilots had enjoyed the same rights as others who had taken the Ukrainian oath. Russian TV also reported that Ukraine had demanded that the aircraft be sent back. (Doug Clarke) PENSIONS INCREASED. Aleksei Ulyukaev, an adviser to the Russian Ministry of Economy and Finance, was quoted by Radio Rossii on 14-February as saying that pensions will be increased to offset the retail price increases of January. Pensioners in Russia will receive an additional 200 rubles in-February and March, while an additional 100 rubles will be given to families with several children. Ulyukaev also said that the Russian government plans to reduce taxes once the monthly inflation rate is lowered to 10%. He did not provide an estimate of the cost of these increases to the federation's budget. President Yeltsin is expected to announces changes in benefits on 19-February. (Keith Bush) VNESHEKONOMBANK SPLIT UP. The top executives of the bankrupt Vneshekonombank have been suspended and replaced by Yurii Ponomarev, former vice- president of the Paris-based, Soviet-owned Eurobank, and former head of the monetary department of the USSR Gosbank, The Financial Times reported on 14-February. Ponomarev's main task will be to divide Vneshekonombank into three parts: one to be merged with Vneshtorgbank; the second to be launched as an independent commercial bank; and the third to act as a conduit for the repayment of the debt owed by the former USSR. No principal on that debt-estimated at $70-80 billion-is being paid, by agreement with creditors, and interest payments have slipped "for technical reasons." (Keith Bush) CREDIT RESTRICTIONS REJECTED. The Russian Central Bank is resisting IMF and Russian government pressure to restrict credit. In an interview with The New York Times of 16-February, Nikolai Domonov, the Bank's director in charge of supervising Russia's new commercial banks, explained that the Bank feels obligated to provide fresh financing for the agricultural sector, which has no other source of finance, and can reduce credits only after this year's harvest. The central bank currently has 135 billion rubles outstanding in loans, much of it to banks that relend to farmers and farm equipment companies. [A curb on credit has been one of the preconditions set for the extension of a stabilization fund]. (Keith Bush) KHASBULATOV ATTACKS RUSSIAN EXEC-UTIVE. Russian Parliament Chairman Ruslan Khasbulatov warned at a meeting with leaders of regional councils in St. Petersburg that the Russian government may be replaced at the next Congress of People's Deputies in April if it does not become more cooperative and revise its economic reform program, ITAR-TASS reported on 15-February. Khasbulatov also criticized the institution of presidential envoys in the periphery for lack of cooperation with local parliaments. Khasbulatov stated that he would not criticize Yeltsin personally because the latter supported his candidacy to the post of parliament leader. (Alexander Rahr) RUTSKOI SAYS HE MAY BECOME RUSSIAN PRESIDENT. Russian Vice-President Aleksandr Rutskoi indicated in an interview with the British TV company ITN on 14-February that he does not exclude the possibility of becoming Russian president. Rutskoi denounced the present government for robbing its people and said government leaders should be prosecuted. Rutskoi stated that his latest appointment to oversee agriculture was "not ethical," since he is a soldier and not an agronomist. (Alexander Rahr) DDR LOSES INFLUENCE. The Democratic Reform Movement (DDR), created last year by Eduard Shevardnadze and Aleksandr Yakovlev as a kind of alternative all-union party, has lost its influence. No leading politician, with the exception of Moscow Mayor Gavriil Popov, participated at the Congress of the Russian branch of the DDR held in Nizhnii Novgorod on 16-February, "Vesti" reported. At the Congress, Popov was elected chairman of the Russian DDR. The Republican Party quit the DDR, thus further weakening it. Popov stressed that the DDR will fight for the re-election of all representative organs in Russia which, in his opinion, are still dominated by Communists. (Alexander Rahr) CORRECTION: The Daily Report of 13-February 1992 incorrectly stated that Yulii Vorontsov had been brought back to Moscow. Vorontsov has not yet officially given up his duties as ambassador to the United Nations and remains in New York. BALTIC STATES ESTONIAN CONSTITUTION APPROVED. Estonia's Constituent Assembly on 14-February approved the final draft of the new constitution, according to an RFE Estonian Service report. The Assembly, which was named jointly by the Supreme Council and the Con-gress of Estonia, voted for the draft by a narrow margin after five months of debate and revisions of earlier versions. The final draft must now be approved in a referendum, but considerable disagreement remains between the Supreme Council and the Congress of Estonia over how the polling will be done and who will be eligible to vote in the referendum. (Riina Kionka) ESTONIA REGULATES IMMIGRATION. The Estonian Immigration Authority on 15-February began registering illegal immigrants, according to BNS the previous day. According to a supplementary immigration law, all citizens of the former USSR with no legal basis for living in Estonia who entered the country after 15-January have been issued one-month permits to stay. The immigrants may extend their stay-and those who came earlier can legalize their presence-by registering with the Immigration Authority. Because the first one-month permits expired on 15-February, anyone who cannot document his or her status will be regarded as an illegal immigrant. The BNS report does not specify what will happen to the illegals. (Riina Kionka) LITHUANIA-RUSSIA TALKS COMPLETED. On 14-February talks on the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Lithuania were completed after four days of discussion behind closed doors, the RFE/RL Lithuanian Service reported on 15-February. The head of the Lithuanian delegation, Minister without Portfolio Aleksandras Abisala, said that talks were held in three groups; one discussed general principles and a protocol, the second-technical aspects of the withdrawal, and the third-compensation for losses inflicted on Lithuania by Soviet troops and social guarantees for the military. He said that Lithuania maintained its position that the troops should leave within 4-5 months, but "Russia has not yet revealed its position." (Saulius Girnius) GOVERNMENT UNPAID DUE TO LACK OF RUBLES. Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius said over Radio Lithuania on 14-February that officials in the Lithuanian and local governments (including himself) had not received their monthly salary due to the lack of rubles. The main reason given is that too many people are keeping rubles at home. He advised people to keep their money in bank accounts, which would be more secure in case Moscow enacts monetary reforms. The government is planning to triple the value of funds held in investment accounts. Vagnorius criticized the Bank of Lithuania for not informing him about the ruble shortage and noted that bank officials were in Moscow seeking more rubles. (Saulius Girnius) COUP INVESTIGATION CRITICIZED IN LATVIA. Deputy Aleksandrs Kirsteins criticized the investigation of the supporters in Latvia of the failed August 1991 coup in the USSR. He questioned the objectivity of the investigators, since most of them had been affiliated with the Latvian Communist Party and the KGB. Kirsteins suggested that the task be turned over to investigators without such affiliations. General Prosecutor Janis Skrastins admitted that the 95% of the investigators had been LCP members-a condition for employment under Soviet rule-and most of them had had professional contacts with the KGB. Warning against a witch hunt, Skrastins noted that all of the investigators had sworn allegiance to the Republic of Latvia, Diena reported on 13-February. (Dzintra Bungs) OMON THREATENS INVESTIGATORS. OMON officers, once stationed near Riga and Vilnius, have warned the Russian government that investigators seeking to detain OMON members hiding in the CIS states can expect stiff resistance: "Ten members of the enemy will suffer for every wounded comrade," Diena reported on 14-February. A copy of the OMON group's letter has reached Riga, where, the authors allege, a special search group has been formed to track them down and shoot them. The Latvian prosecutor's office denied the allegations, but stated that Latvia would continue to work together with the Russian procuracy-in the ways stipulated in earlier cooperation accords-in the investigation of OMON members suspected of crimes. Recently OMON commander Czeslaw Mlynnik threatened the authorities in Riga. (Dzintra Bungs) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE POLISH FINANCE MINISTER RESIGNS. In what seems to be the first major crisis of the Olszewski government, Karol Lutkowski has resigned. Lutkowski's press spokesman Andrzej Moroz told Reuters on 17-February that "a major difference over priorities and the implementation of economic strategy" has arisen between Lutkowski and "the group of personalities responsible for the economic and political life of the country." Such a possibility was already signalled on 13-February, when Lutkowski aligned himself against the government position and sided with Andrzej Topinski, acting head of the Polish National Bank, in supporting a high base interest rate. (Roman Stefanowski) POLISH GOVERNMENT PRESENTS ECONOMIC PROGRAM. On 15-February the government sent to the Sejm its economic program for 1992, Polish and Western media reported. Top priority of the Olszewski government for 1992 is to halt the recession so that the economy can "regain its development capacity" but without inflationary growth. The program aims at promoting investments and exports and restructuring the national economy, allowing for the commercialization of state enterprises with at least 30% of their sales from exports. A series of taxes is proposed to control consumption and wages while still guaranteeing the wherewithal to maintain the army, police, judiciary, diplomatic corps, and state administration. Quarterly reviews of certain prices, such as energy and fuels, medicines, rents, transportation and TV fees, have been also announced, and there will be fixed prices for certain agricultural products. (Roman Stefanowski) QUADRILATERAL BORDER AGREEMENT. On 16-February representatives of Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland and Ukraine signed an agreement in Jaslo, Poland, aimed at easing trade among the border regions, Polish and Western media reported. The agreement also provides for the establishment of an interregional bank, the setting up of free-trade zones, and cooperation between state and private companies. The signatory countries also promise mutual assistance in case of "mass emigration" from the CIS, as well as in promoting tourism and in protecting the environment. A permanent body, the Subcarpatian Council on Interregional Cooperation, was set up. (Roman Stefanowski) SERBIAN LEGISLATORS OUST BABIC AS KRAJINA "PRESIDENT." The BBC reported on 17-February that over half of the ethnic Serbian deputies to the parliament in Croatia's Krajina region had met in Glina and voted to remove Milan Babic as the area's chief executive. Babic stayed in Knin, the center of his support, 100-miles from Glina, and denounced the vote as meaningless. The BBC said that this deepens the rift among Serbs in the self-proclaimed independent Krajina. The majority of the elected officials there favor the UN peace plan, which would introduce peace-keeping forces to the area. Babic and his hard-core supporters fear this will leave them at the mercy of the Croatian authorities in the long run. (Patrick Moore) BOSNIA CONFERENCE ENDS. Media in the former Yugoslavia reported on 14 and 15-February that the EC-proposed conference on Bosnia-Herzegovina showed that the three ruling ethnic parties have conducted "tolerant talks" toward a negotiated peaceful settlement of republic's future. One Croat participant, Miro Lasic, told reporters that all sides agreed that Bosnia should be independent. Muslim and Croat leaders have scheduled a referendum on independence on 29-February-1-March. In an interview in Il-Messaggero, Croatia's President Franjo Tudjman categorically rejected speculation that the republics of Croatia and Serbia have struck a secret deal to partition Bosnia but suggested there are grounds for "setting up a canton for Croats," explaining that Serbs have already "separated their own areas" from Bosnia. (Milan Andrejevich) TROOPS IN THE FORMER FEDERAL YUGOSLAV ARMY ACCELERATE WITHDRAWAL FROM THE REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA. On-14 February Belgrade Radio reported that the rump federal Presidency confirmed that the pullout of former federal Yugoslav army troops and materiel from the Republic of Macedonia is "temporary." On 13-February, the radio reported that a convoy of over 400-vehicles loaded with military hardware and equipment, had left key installations for Serbia. Over the past two months the army has been withdrawing from Macedonia and estimates say 80% of its force before the drawdown have been reassigned to Serbia and Bosnia. The pullout is expected to be completed by 15-March. Officials in Skopje have accused the army of plundering crucial foodstuffs and medical equipment and supplies and destroying anything it cannot transport. Serbia has also set up roadblocks along its border with Macedonia, banning Macedonians from importing food and medical supplies. (Milan Andrejevich) THE REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA CONTINUES DRIVE TOWARD INDEPENDENCE. On-14-February, the Republic of Macedonia's parliament passed a law that allows the formation of its own army. Macedonia is seeking international recognition of its independence. On 16-February, the republic's foreign minister Denko Maleski called for EC recognition and said that his republic is ready to offer guarantees to Greece that it has no territorial claims on parts of northern Greece and the port of Thessaloniki. EC foreign ministers meet today in Lisbon to discuss Macedonia's request for recognition. On 14-February, Austrian television reported that an estimated one million Greeks demonstrated in Thessaloniki against the use of the word Macedonia in the republic's official title and in protest of alleged territorial claims on Greece by this former Yugoslav republic. (Milan Andrejevich) CALFA: SLOVAKIA'S REJECTION OF DRAFT ACCORD STARTED SEPARATION. On 15-February federal Prime Minister Marian Calfa said the separation of the Czech and the Slovak republics began on 12-February at the moment when the Slovak parliament presidium rejected the draft agreement on the future shape of the Czechoslovak federation. In a television interview Calfa said "many representatives of political parties, more expressly in Slovakia than in the Czech lands, lack the will to maintain a common state." The draft accord was produced after a week-long session of an expert commission set up by the Czech and the Slovak parliaments at Milovy, Moravia, on 9-February. (Peter Matuska) DEMONSTRATION AGAINST GERMAN-CZECHOSLOVAK TREATY. On 15-February some 4,000 people demonstrated in Prague against the upcoming signing of a new treaty between Czechoslovakia and Germany, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Several speakers at the rally criticized the treaty for failing to mention the expulsion of ethnic Germans from Czech lands after 1945. Late in January German government spokesman Dieter Vogel said the participation of Sudeten Germans in the auctioning of property seized during the former communist regime would remove criticism of the treaty. He said Kohl promised to raise this topic during his visit in Prague on 27-28-February to sign the treaty. (Peter Matuska) SECOND ROUND OF ELECTIONS IN ROMANIA. A second balloting in the local elections was held on 16-February in many constituencies because of inconclusive results in the 9-February vote. Some areas still haven't reported final results of the earlier election. However, Romanian Television said that of those races that have been concluded-in 32 of the country's 40-counties with an unspecified number of seats still to be decided- candidates of the ruling National Salvation Front won 57.8%, independents 12% and opposition Democratic Convention 8.2%. The latest results surprisingly reversed early unofficial reports, which suggested the opposition had won as many as 40% of the contests. (Crisula Stefanescu) ROMANIAN WORKERS RALLY. Thousands of Romanian workers rallied in Bucharest and 41-other cities on 14-February. The protests were called by the National Trade Union Consultative Council, which was angry over the government's economic policies. In Bucharest up to 15,000 people gathered to accuse the NSF of being dominated by former communists and to blame the government for the large disparity between wages and prices, local and Western media reported. (Crisula Stefanescu) KALUGIN ARRIVES IN SOFIA. Former KGB general Oleg Kalugin arrived in the Bulgarian capital on 16-February. In March last year he made revelations about Bulgarian and Soviet involvement in the murder of exiled writer Georgi Markov in London in 1978. BTA quoted him as saying upon his arrival that he had come at the invitation of President Zhelyu Zhelev and would be entirely at the disposal of the Bulgarian authorities. He expressed the hope that all questions in which Bulgaria is interested will be clarified. (Rada Nikolaev)
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