|To appreciate nonsense requires a serious interest in life. - Gelett Burgess|
No. 33, 18 February 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR BAKER IN MOSCOW. US Secretary of State James Baker held talks with Russian President Boris Yeltsin on 17-February to discuss Baker's tour of CIS states, economic reform in Russia, and disarmament. Baker offered US assistance in destroying nuclear weapons. According to Western agency reports, Yeltsin accepted an American offer of 25 armored railway cars especially designed to protect nuclear warheads from terrorist attack, as well as other safety equipment. The US also pledged to provide $25 million "seed money" for the joint German/American/Russian project to employ former Soviet nuclear scientists in non-military research. Baker began meetings with Foreign Minister Kozyrev on the morning of 18-February, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 and 18-February. (Suzanne Crow and Doug Clarke) KRAVCHUK DEMANDS RETURN OF BOMBERS. ITAR-TASS reported on 17-February that Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk sent a sharp protest to Boris Yeltsin over what he termed the "hijacking" of six long-range bombers from Ukraine to Russia (see Daily Report, 17-February). Calling the crews' action "a crime that contradicts international agreements and Ukrainian law," Kravchuk asked Yeltsin to take steps to return the "offenders," the planes, and the regimental banner they took with them. (Kathy Mihalisko) AIR DIVISION OPTS FOR UKRAINE. The First Strategic Air Division, based at Uzin in Ukraine, has renounced its subordination to Moscow and has accepted Ukrainian jurisdiction, according to a 17-February ITAR-TASS report. [There are 21 BEAR H cruise-missile carrying strategic bombers stationed at Uzin.] Colonel General Igor Kalugin, the commander of CIS long-range, or strategic aviation, immediately fired the division commander from his post, but the report said that this decision was abrogated by the Ukrainian minister of defense on instruction from President Kravchuk. This incident is more unusual than the many cases of conflicting loyalties in the conventional forces, since Ukraine has not laid claim to units clearly belonging to the strategic forces-such as this air division. (Doug Clarke) OFFICERS' COUNCIL WANTS TROOP WITHDRAWALS SUSPENDED. The All-Army Officers' Assembly called on the CIS Heads of State to suspend the withdrawal of troops from Germany, Poland, and the Baltics until "structures and mechanisms" to provide for their social and legal protection had been provided. The substance of the address, which contained a number of other requests, was given to correspondents by Aleksandr Mochaykin, the Chairman of the Assembly's Coordination Council, and was published by ITAR-TASS on 14-February. (Doug Clarke) SUBMARINE COLLISION IN NORTHERN FLEET. A nuclear-powered attack submarine of the Northern Fleet collided with what was first called "an unknown underwater object" near the entrance to Kola Bay on 11-February ITAR-TASS reported on 14-February. Northern Fleet officials confirmed the collision and first hinted that fishing trawlers might have been involved. According to Interfax of 14-February, they later said that a foreign submarine had been hit. On 17-February, Interfax reported that an expert at the Main Naval Headquarters in Moscow had speculated that the other submarine may have been an American one sailing submerged in Russian territorial waters. The Northern Fleet boat had no casualties and only minor damage. (Doug Clarke) REGIONAL SUMMIT ENDS IN TEHERAN. The Economic Cooperation Organization summit conference ended in Teheran on 17-February after participants signed an agreement to introduce preferential tariffs among member states, set up a development bank, and cooperate in modernization of transport, communications, industry, and agriculture, Western news agencies reported. The organization, which originally consisted of Iran, Turkey and Pakistan, admitted Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Kazakhstan has observer status. The group plans to work toward creation of a common market of Muslim states. News reports said that Turkish President Turgut Ozal pressed for the development of free-market economies and an infrastructure similar to that of the European Common Market. (Bess Brown) RUSSIAN CONGRESS OF PEOPLE'S DEPUTIES SCHEDULED. The Russian Supreme Soviet decided on 14-February to convene the next Congress of People's Deputies on 6-April, ITAR-TASS and Radio Rossii reported. The opening of the Congress had originally been proposed for 20-April. The draft of the new Russian Constitution is expected to be completed in time for debate and ratification during this session. (Carla Thorson) NEW RUSSIAN CONSTITUTION AND CONSTITUENT REPUBLICS. Sergei Filatov, first deputy speaker of the Russian parliament, expressed confidence at a news conference on 17-February that agreement will have been reached with the constituent republics of the Russian Federation on Russia's national-territorial structure by the time the Russian Congress of People's Deputies meets to debate the new constitution, Interfax reported on 17-February. Filatov's prognosis seems somewhat overoptimistic. On 17-February the North Ossetian parliament was the latest to reject the draft agreement delimiting powers between the Federation and the republics, saying that it deprived the republics of their elementary sovereign rights, "Vesti" reported on 17-February. (Ann Sheehy) AGREEMENT ON UKRAINIAN CURRENCY? Russian and Ukrainian officials told a news conference in Brussels on 17-February that agreement had been reached on the modalities of introducing a Ukrainian currency sometime this year, Western agencies reported. The officials had been attending a conference on trade and currencies in the former Soviet Union. The agreement will be submitted to the two governments. Under its terms, Ukraine will inform other states using rubles in advance of the date of introduction of the new currency. The introduction will be quick and non-discriminatory. Rubles will be withdrawn from circulation in Ukraine and remitted to the Russian Central Bank. (Keith Bush) STATISTICAL REPORT FOR 1991. The newly configured Goskomstat has published the statistical report for the economic activity of the republics of the former USSR-except Georgia-during 1991 in Ekonomika i zhizn, No. 6, 1992. Composite declines (in comparable prices) for the current eleven members of the CIS were recorded in 1991 in respect of the following indicators: GNP-17%; national income (produced)-15%; total consumption of goods and services-15%; and housing completions-17%. (Keith Bush) GAIDAR ON GROWTH PROSPECTS. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Egor Gaidar told Russian TV on 16-February that "the most optimistic hypothesis allows us to reckon with a restoration of healthy growth in 1993." [Estimates of the decline in output anticipated in 1992 range between 5% and 20%.] This would not be possible unless finances are stabilized and the economy is restructured. Gaidar saw the government's chief task as encouraging private consumer and electronics industries, while cushioning the country against the decline of heavy industry and the military complex. He was cautiously optimistic about chances for the stabilization of the ruble and of prices. (Keith Bush) MARATHON CONTRACT TO BE RECON-SIDERED. A spokesman for the Marathon Oil Company confirmed on 13-February that the Russian government had formed a committee to reconsider its award of a multi-billion-dollar contract to develop oil fields near Sakhalin Island, The International Herald Tribune reported in its issue for 15-16-February. The contract was awarded on 28-January to a consortium of Marathon, Mitsui, and McDermott International. [This reversal, coming shortly after the introduction of stiff new taxes and currency regulations affecting oil exports, plus the Chevron hiatus in Kazakhstan, will hardly encourage Western investment in Russian oil exploration and exploitation]. (Keith Bush) HEALTH SITUATION IN RUSSIA. A US health team visited six regions in the southern Urals and in south-central Siberia from 16-January through 6-February. Its findings were published by the Center for Disease Control and reported by Reuters on 13-February. The US specialists found critical shortages of vaccines against measles, polio, diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis: the number of reported cases of some of these diseases rose in Russia in 1991, reversing an earlier downward trend. Polluted drinking water in parts of Siberia has caused sharp rises in dysentery and gastroenteritis. (Keith Bush) YAKOVLEV FEELS THREATENED BY DEMOCRATS. Former Politburo member Aleksandr Yakovlev told Izvestiya on 17-February that the new democratic leadership of Russia is threatening to prosecute him because of his former involvement in the CPSU financing of foreign Communist parties with state money. Yakovlev did not deny that he, in his capacity as supervisor of the CPSU's International Department, helped to finance Communists abroad, but he also maintained that he had managed to reduce this financial support from 25 million rubles to 12 million rubles per annum. He said that he learned of such transactions for the first time as Soviet ambassador to Canada. (Alexander Rahr) KHASBULATOV ATTACKS GOVERNMENT, PRESS. Russian Parliament Chairman Ruslan Khasbulatov has accused the Russian press of having "declared war on the state." In an interview with Novoe Vremya summarized by ITAR-TASS on 17-February, Khasbulatov fiercely attacked the press for its criticism of him and the parliament. Khasbulatov again denounced the government's reform policy and called upon President Boris Yeltsin to relinquish his post as premier in order to concentrate himself entirely on state affairs. At the same time, Khasbulatov attacked Yeltsin's deputy premiers, Gennadii Burbulis and Egor Gaidar for taking government affairs entirely into their own hands. (Alexander Rahr) YELTSIN'S PRESS SECRETARY LEAVES HIS POST. On 16 January, "Vesti" quoted Radio Liberty as reporting that the Russian presidential press secretary, Pavel Voshchanov, left his post to return to journalism. The next day, ITAR-TASS confirmed this news. According to RFE/RL and "Vesti" the reason behind Voshchanov's resignation was his disagreement with Yeltsin over the Russian leadership's media policy. Voshchanov reportedly felt that it was Yeltsin's legislation that has brought many Moscow periodicals to the verge of bankruptcy. (Vera Tolz) FOREIGN POLICY COUNCIL TO COME. Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Vitalii Churkin said on 13-February that a Foreign Policy Council will be created within the Russian Foreign Ministry, ITAR-TASS reported that day. The membership is to include "representatives of political and business circles." Churkin did not elaborate on the planned functions of the Foreign Policy Council, but it may parallel the now-defunct USSR MFA Collegium. (Suzanne Crow) OBMINSKY, DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER? A report on Russia's foreign political ties carried by Biznes-TASS on 14-February referred to Ernest Obminsky (formerly a deputy foreign minister in the USSR Foreign Ministry) as Russian deputy foreign minister. Following the dissolution of the USSR, all USSR deputy foreign ministers were made ambassadors-at-large temporarily. This news of Obminsky's new job is the first observable appointment of a USSR deputy minister to a comparable position in the Russian Foreign Ministry. (Suzanne Crow) AKAEV IN CANADA. Western agencies reported on 17-February that Canada and Kyrgyzstan have established diplomatic relations. The agreement was formalized during a meeting between Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev and Canadian Minister of External Affairs Barbara McDougall during Akaev's visit to Canada, where he has met with Canadians involved in the planning of Kyrgyzstan's economic reform program. (Bess Brown) MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT VISITING US. Moldovan President Mircea Snegur, who left on 16-February for his first visit to the United States since his election in December, told journalists at Chisinau airport that the main aim of his visit was to accelerate the establishment of diplomatic relations with the United States and Canada, ITAR-TASS reported on 16-February. Snegur is to attend the session of the UN General Assembly when Moldovan membership is to be formally accepted, and he will also meet US President George Bush. (Ann Sheehy) DRUC ELECTED CHAIRMAN OF MOLDOVAN OPPOSITION PARTY. A congress of the Moldovan Popular Front on 15-16-February changed the front's name to the Popular Christian-Democratic Front and elected former Premier Mircea Druc, chairman, ITAR-TASS reported on 17-February. The congress proclaimed the unification of Moldova with Romania as its chief aim. The election of Druc as chairman of the front is likely to aggravate the political struggle in Moldova. In his pre-election speech Druc said he did not exclude armed struggle to achieve national liberation. According to Moldovapres on 17-February, the front changed its name as a preliminary to presenting candidates in Romanian elections due in a few months. (Ann Sheehy) BALTIC STATES CALL FOR DEMILITARIZATION OF KALININGRAD. On 16-February at ceremonies marking the 74th anniversary of Lithuania's independence, broadcast live by Radio Lithuania, Chairman of the Lithuanian Supreme Council Vytautas Landsbergis called for the withdrawal of armed forces from Kaliningrad Oblast. Landsbergis first called for the demilitarization of Kaliningrad at a press conference in Bonn on 13-February. In an interview with the RFE Lithuanian Service on 17-February he observed that if Russia has truly renounced Soviet expansion into Europe, the presence of the army in Kaliningrad is a "historical anachronism." (Saulius Girnius) LALUMIéRE IN VILNIUS. On 17-February Catherine Lalumire, Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, met Landsbergis, Minister of Foreign Affairs Algirdas Saudargas, and Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius, Radio Lithuania reported. The Baltic States applied for membership in the Council of Europe in September, but were only granted special guest status in the Council's parliamentary assembly. The purpose of Lalumire's visit is to discuss the membership applications. She will visit Latvia on 18-February and Estonia on 19-February. (Saulius Girnius) POLICE POWERLESS AGAINST ILLEGALS. Three days after Estonian police began registering illegal immigrants, an advisor to the Police Authority admitted the law enforcement agency is unable to take any measures against the illegals. Igor Aaman told BNS on 17-February that the Supreme Council must draw up a new administrative code before the police can take any action, because the old code does not take into account the existence of illegal immigrants. Aaman further said that one likely action-deportation of illegals from Estonia-must be governed by an interstate treaty. (Riina Kionka) ESTONIA CHARGES LATVIA. Estonia will start charging Latvia five US cents per kilowatt hour for electricity, BNS reported on 17-February. Prime Minister Tiit Vahi told reporters that day that charging hard currency for electric power sold to Latvia would bring in $700,000 a day. Vahi said Estonia would be willing to take payment in barter using convertible rubles, adding that Latvia could deliver food, lumber, and manufactured goods in return for the electricity. In case Latvia does not agree, Vahi said, Estonia would increase internal electricity use and sell more to Russia and Belarus. (Riina Kionka) "A WEEK WITHOUT PRESS" STARTS IN LATVIA. Latvian newspaper publishers started "A Week Without Press" on 17-February, Radio Riga reported that day. Speaking for the organizers of the action, Arvils Aseradens, president of the Publishers and Editors Association, stressed that the action was economic (i.e. prompted by newsprint shortage), rather than political. Apparently most of the 799-newspapers registered in Latvia are supporting the action, although exact information is not available. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIAN STANDARD OF LIVING. On 14-February Radio Riga reported about a poll taken by "Save the Children" association in Latvia on family income. The association argues that the minimal monthly salary (670-rubles) and pension (540-rubles) and monthly child support supplement (240-rubles) that was set in-February by the Council of Ministers are too low. They also point out that the information supplied by state statistics is overly optimistic: the monthly per capita income of 7.2% of Latvian families is under 300-rubles, and under 500-rubles for 19% of families. According to their own poll of 2216-families (averaging 4.3-members each), the respective figures were 32% and 68%. The association urged the government to recalculate minimal income and child support levels on the basis of precise statistical information. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIA ANTICIPATES UNEMPLOYMENT. Radio Riga reported on 12-February that there were about 4500-unemployed persons in Riga; at the same time there were over 6000-openings for either highly skilled professionals or unskilled laborers. Greater unemployment is expected, and, according to Arnis Kalnins, Minister for Economic Reforms, unemployment compensation will be calculated at 70-90% of subsistence-level income as determined by the government. Currently, monthly unemployment compensation is 600-rubles. Kalnins did not say whether this sum was at subsistence level. According to calculations of the independent trade unions, the minimal monthly salary should be 1586-rubles and pensions-1090-rubles. (Dzintra Bungs) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE START OF SOLIDARITY-GOVERNMENT TALKS. PAP reports that the first round of Solidarity-government talks started on 17-February. According to Ewa Lewicka, head of the Union delegation, the main subject of the talks was unemployment and the ways and means to fight it. Also discussed were the special programs proposed for regions particularly threatened with unemployment and new principles of the employment policy. Andrzej Slowik, Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Policy, promised to submit a government document "determining the principles of social policy in 1992" within two weeks. The next round of talks is to take place on 16-March. (Roman Stefanowski) CATHOLIC-JEWISH LIAISON COMMITTEE IN POLAND. A delegation of the International Catholic-Jewish Liaison Committee, representing world Jewry, arrived in Poland to continue its cooperation with Catholic and lay institutions, PAP reported on 17-February. Meeting with the Polish Episcopate on 17-February, the delegation explored the possibility of sending a group of lecturers to inform Polish Catholics about Judaism in order to overcome mutual prejudices. Polish Primate Cardinal Jozef Glemp told the delegation that "there can be [in Poland] no question of tolerating anti-Semitism or of any other manifestation of anti-Jewish feelings, since anti-Semitism is irreconcilable with the teachings of the Church." (Roman Stefanowski) CZECHOSLOVAK INVESTMENT FUNDS START ACCEPTING PRIVATIZATION COUPONS. On 17-February Czechoslovakia took another step to-ward privatizing large pieces of the state-owned economy. Industrial assets with an estimated book value of $9 billion are involved. In a so-called "zero-round," about 8.4-million holders of privatization coupons can opt to pool them in any of 437-officially sanctioned funds. Investors can also choose to-invest their coupons directly in any of some 800-companies slated for privatization this year. Recent polls indicate that about one-third of investors intend to entrust their coupons to funds set up by banks and private financial groups, Western media report. Foreigners already are allowed to set up investment funds to handle coupons. (Peter Matuska) HUNGARY URGES ABANDONMENT OF DAM PROJECT. In a verbal statement to the charge d'affaires of the Czechoslovak embassy in Budapest on 14-February, the Hungarian government has again called on the Czechoslovak government to abandon construction work on the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros hydroelectric dam project. The note said that Czechoslovakia's unilateral decision to build the dam by deflecting the Danube river is "illegal and unacceptable," because it violates the 1977 interstate agreement between Hungary and Czechoslovakia as well as "principles of international law concerning respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, and the inviolability of international borders." The Hungarian parliament is currently considering a government proposal to cancel the 1977 agreement. (Edith Oltay) MORE ON LOCAL ELECTIONS IN ROMANIA. Crin Halaicu, candidate of the opposition Democratic Convention (DC) for mayor-general of Bucharest, criticized the way local elections were organized by the ruling National Salvation Front, Rompres reports. He spoke of "improvisation and chaos everywhere." Other DC representatives singled out irregularities, including exploitation of loopholes in the electoral law, undue pressures from the administration, and attempts by the TV to influence the electorate on the second round of elections. (Crisula Stefanescu) WARNING STRIKE IN GALATI. Workers at more than 20-enterprises in Galati, Romania, have gone on strike to express discontent over the government-trade union negotiations on a national work contract. The strikes were preceded by a march by drivers, Rompres reports. (Crisula Stefanescu) TURKISH MILITARY DELEGATION IN ROMANIA. A Turkish military delegation headed by Gen.-Dogan Gres, chief of staff of the Turkish armed forces, arrived in Bucharest on 17-February, Rompres reports. An agreement is to be signed between the two governments on cooperation in military training, technology, and science. (Crisula Stefanescu) ROMANIA AND BELARUS ESTABLISH DIPLOMATIC TIES. On 14-February Romania and Belarus formally established diplomatic ties, Rompres reported. Both countries agreed to open embassies in each other's capital. Belarus foreign minister Petr Krauchenka held talks with his Romanian counterpart, Adrian Nastase, in Bucharest last week. (Crisula Stefanescu) BULGARIAN ROUND TABLE ON PRIVATIZATION. Problems of privatization were discussed over the weekend in Sofia by government economists and participants from Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Hungary, the World Bank, and the PHARE program. Dailies on 17-February said that a compromise was reached on a bill presented by Asen Michkovski, the chairman of the parliament's economic commission, that covers all levels of privatization. It had been criticized for being too unwieldy. Opponents of the measure, foremost among them Alex Alexiev, head of an economic consultative council set up by Prime Minister Filip Dimitrov, strongly advocate separate, advance legislation to get small privatization started. (Rada Nikolaev) BANU-NIKOLA PETKOV HOLDS CONGRESS. The Bulgarian Agrarian National Union-Nikola Petkov held its extraordinary congress as scheduled on 15-16-February. Its leader, Milan Drenchev, who on 8-February signed an agreement to unite with the formerly official BANU-United, was opposed to the congress being held. BTA reported that BANU-NP elected as its new secretary-general Anastasia Dimitrova-Moser, daughter of the late Agrarian opposition leader Georgi M. Dimitrov who died in exile in 1972. She lives in the US and flew in especially for the congress. The participants in the congress are opposed to uniting with the official BANU-U and are supposed to have opted for cooperation with the Union of Democratic Forces which BANU-NP left last September. Details are not yet available, however. (Rada Nikolaev) BOUTROS-GHALI WANTS UN TROOPS IN CROATIA UNTIL SETTLEMENT IS REACHED. International media report that the UN secretary-general asked on 17-February that the 13-14,000-strong UN Protection Force (UNPROFOR) be kept in Croatia until a final political arrangement is agreed upon. This would prevent the Zagreb authorities from ordering them out once the Serbian-dominated army had evacuated ethnically Serbian enclaves in order to reestablish control over those areas. Twelve countries including Russia, France, and Czechoslovakia have been asked to contribute 900-man infantry battalions. Meanwhile, Milan Babic, the last major ethnic Serbian leader in Croatia to oppose the UN plan, appears to have backed down on his earlier implied threats to resist the peace-keepers. Babic nonetheless stressed that Croatia's Serbs are reluctant to part with their weapons and that they insist on being full participants in any negotiations on their future. (Patrick Moore) RUSSIA RECOGNIZES CROATIA. Croatia's HINA news agency said on 17-February that Russia has formally recognized that republic and wants to start talks on the establishment of diplomatic ties. Russia recognized Slovenia on 14-February. On 17-February, EC foreign ministers met in Lisbon and agreed to send observers to monitor Bosnia's upcoming referendum, Austrian TV reports. The 18-February Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung adds that Greek objections continue to block an EC consensus on recognizing Macedonia, despite recommendations from a special commission in January that Macedonia had met conditions for recognition. The paper noted that German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher is seeking to maintain a unified EC position on recognizing both Bosnia and Macedonia. Authorities in London announced to news agencies on 17-February that Britain will provide almost $900,000 in humanitarian aid to Croatia and Slovenia through both UN and nongovernmental agencies. (Patrick Moore) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Carla Thorson & Charles Trumbull
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