|Every individual has a place to fill in the world, and is important, in some respect, whether he chooses to be so or not. - Nathaniel Hawthorne|
No. 38, 25 February 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR REORGANIZATION OF ECONOMIC MINISTRIES. A presidential decree, reported by Rossiiskaya gazeta on 21-February, has split the former Russian Ministry of Economics and Finance into two parts-the Ministry of the Economy and the Ministry of Finance. Andrei Nechaev was named to head the economy ministry and Egor Gaidar is to head the finance ministry. On the face of it, this looks like a demotion for Gaidar, but The Wall Street Journal of 25-February quotes Nechaev as saying that Gaidar will continue to maintain "overall guidance" of the economy. Another presidential decree, cited by Interfax of 24-February, transforms the Foreign Economic Relations Committee of the Russian Foreign Ministry into a new Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations. The committee's head, Petr Aven, was named to lead the new ministry. (Keith Bush) NECHAEV IS CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC. In his first news conference as Russian Economics Minister, Andrei Nechaev managed to detect some rays of hope amid the prevailing economic gloom, CIS and Western agencies reported on 24-February. The good news was that the prices of some foodstuffs have stabilized, food supplies have improved, the ruble has strengthened against the dollar, and there have as yet been no "major social upheavals." On the other hand, Nechaev foresaw sharp falls in output during the next two months, "acute financial crisis" for uncompetitive firms, and a jump in the number of unemployed. (Keith Bush) NECHAEV ON PRICES AND INFLATION. According to ITAR-TASS, Nechaev said that the Russian government was looking at the possibility of freeing prices on oil products at the end of April. Provided that this was accompanied by a rigorous credit, financial, and monetary policy, the overall price level should not rise during the second quarter by more than 100% over its present level. This would seem to suggest that prices will have risen by factors of five or six by 1-July-far higher than had been predicted by Russian government spokesmen. (Keith Bush) MAN DIED DURING THE SUNDAY RALLY? On 24-February, Russian TV broadcast a statement signed by a group of Russian nationalist deputies, complaining about the use of force during Sunday's conservative demonstrations. The signatories claimed that Moscow authorities had deliberately provoked the clashes in order to dissolve the elected Soviets and to set up an authoritarian regime in the capital. The statement also claimed that a war veteran, retired General Nikolai Peskov, had died as a result of the police actions. The deputies urged that a parliamentary commission investigate both the episode and the activities of the Moscow city government. (The statement was read by a speaker normally responsible for announcing the program schedule as "Vesti's" anchor, Yurii Rostov, had apparently refused to read it.) (Julia Wishnevsky) EMPLOYERS' LOBBY CREATED. Businessmen from the CIS and the Baltic states met in Moscow on 22-February to create a new employers' association, the International Congress of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, Russian TV reported. This is the successor to the USSR Scientific-Industrial League (NPS), which was disbanded at the same time as the USSR. Like the NPS, the new body represents a large number of defense-industry plants as well as new private businesses. The former chairman of the NPS, Gorbachev-associate Arkadii Volsky, was elected to head a new Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs on 11-January. (Elizabeth Teague) TRIPARTITE COMMISSION MEETS. The tripartite commission which Yeltsin set up by presidential edict on 15 November 1991 held its latest meeting on 22-February, ITAR- TASS reported. The commission brings together representatives of government, business, and unions but has been dogged by disputes over whether employers should be represented by government ministries, and whether workers should be represented only by the official trade unions, the FNPR, or by the independent unions too. On the agenda of the 22-February session was a draft general agreement for 1992, but it came in for heavy criticism and was sent back for revision. (Elizabeth Teague) CONSUMER ORGANIZATION FORMED. A movement to defend consumers' rights in the former USSR was set up in Moscow on 22-February, Western agencies reported. The movement claims already to have thousands of members in nine of the former Soviet republics and sees its role as helping the consumer make informed choices now that goods are so much more expensive. Its president is Aleksandr Auzan, an economist on the staff of Moscow State University. (Elizabeth Teague) DEMROSSIYA RECOMMENDS KOKOSHIN FOR DEFENSE MINISTER. The Democratic Russia movement and the group, "Military for Democracy" have recommended a civilian, Andrei Kokoshin, for the post of Russian Defense Minister, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 19-February. Kokoshin is a deputy director of the US and Canada Institute, the director of the Center for Conversion and Privatization, and a corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Kokoshin, who was interviewed on the most popular TV shows, "Itogi" and "Authors' TV," on 23 and 24-February, appears to be the front runner for the job. However, these recommendations are not binding on President Yeltsin, who will make the final decision on the appointment. (Julia Wishnevsky) MORE MARINES TAKE UKRAINIAN OATH. A second naval infantry (marine) battalion of the Black Sea Fleet has taken the oath of allegiance to Ukraine. Interfax reported on 24-February that the commanding officer of the battalion and his deputy were immediately dismissed from their posts by Admiral Igor Kasatonov, the commander in chief of the Black Sea Fleet. Another battalion pledged allegiance to Ukraine on 15-February, with the same results. There is a naval infantry brigade attached to the Black Sea Fleet. It is believed to have some 3,000-4,000 men organized in nine battalions. (Doug Clarke) "BLACK COLONEL" TO RESIGN. Colonel Viktor Alksnis, a leader of the right-wing Soyuz faction in the former USSR Supreme Soviet and one of the "Black Colonels" referred to by former Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze in his resignation speech, has said that he plans to leave the military. Alksnis was quoted by Postfactum on 24-February as saying that he intended to devote himself fully to political activities in the future. He was one of the speakers at the anti-government rally in Moscow on 23-February. (Doug Clarke) DETAILS OF 1992 TROOP PULLOUT FROM GERMANY. Colonel General Matvey Burlakov, the commander of the Western Group of Forces stationed in Germany, confirmed that 100,000 of his troops would be withdrawn from Germany this year. In a report distributed by the Russian Information Agency on 24-February, he said that his forces would pull out of Dresden, Leipzig, Weimar, and Ludwigslust, as well as some other unspecified locations. (Doug Clarke) SHAPOSHNIKOV ON COOPERATION WITH NATO. After meeting with visiting NATO Secretary General Manfred Woerner, CIS Commander in Chief Marshal Evgenii Shaposhnikov said that he believed there would be military cooperation between NATO and the CIS. In an interview with "Vesti" on 24-February, Shaposhnikov said the most likely assistance would be in the area of military reform "because the armies of the NATO countries already have such features as professional armies, for example, and contract service." He said that he an Woerner had reached agreement on such matters and future cooperation would be based on "principles of mutual trust and respect." (Doug Clarke) POLTORANIN PROMOTED. Russian President Boris Yeltsin has signed a decree, appointing the Minister of Mass Media and Information Mikhail Poltoranin, to the position of deputy chairman of the Russian Government, ITAR-TASS reported on 24-February. Poltoranin has thus become the fifth deputy premier-the others being Gennadii Burbulis (first deputy), Egor Gaidar, Sergei Shakhrai, Aleksandr Shokhin. (Alexander Rahr) END OF DEMOCRATIC REFORM MOVEMENT? Vladimir Lysenko, co-chairman of the Russian Federation's Republican Party (RPRF), complained during a round table discussion on Russian TV on 23-February that the Democratic Reform Movement (DDR) had turned into "a party of one man"-Moscow Mayor Gavriil Popov. The RPRF left the founding congress of the Russian DDR held in Nizhnii Novgorod a few weeks ago because Popov was elected the Russian DDR chairman. Later that day, Popov told another TV interviewer why the DDR's most prominent leaders were not in Nizhnii Novgorod. Eduard Shevardnadze, Popov explained, is totally preoccupied with Georgian affairs, while Aleksandr Yakovlev is busy running the Gorbachev Foundation. Yet, Gorbachev, according to Popov, continues to be viewed as a "controversial" figure, and it would be bad for public relations if the Democratic Reform Movement was perceived as being run by Gorbachev's men. (Julia Wishnevsky) ARCHIVES OF THE CPSU CC TO BE OPENED IN MARCH. The archives of the CPSU Central Committee will be open beginning in March, ITAR-TASS reported on 21-February. The director of the Center for the Preservation of Contemporary Documentation set up on the basis of these archives, Rem Usikov, said that the Center contains documents on CPSU activities from 1952 to August 1991. Documents on earlier Party history are kept in the Russian Center for the Preservation and Study of Modern History Documents (formerly, the Central Party Archives at the Institute of Marxism-Leninism). The documents on Politburo activities and the personal archives of CPSU general secretaries are still kept separately in the so-called "Kremlin archives," which in recent years had been personally supervised by Mikhail Gorbachev. Usikov said these archives will also be merged with those held by his center. (Vera Tolz) GERMAN MINORITY IN UKRAINE. A German delegation representing Bonn's ministries of internal and foreign affairs has concluded a visit to the Mykolaiv region of Ukraine, Radio Kiev reported on 24-February. The German officials were in Ukraine in connection with the recent offer made by Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk to resettle ethnic Germans deported from their traditional homelands in southern Ukraine. (Roman Solchanyk) UKRAINIAN-IRANIAN OIL DEAL. Ukrainian First Deputy Prime Minister Kostyantyn Masyk held talks on 24-February with Iranian officials in Teheran, ITAR-TASS and Radio Kiev reported. The two sides discussed the annual sale of four million tons of Iranian crude oil to Ukraine, construction of an oil pipeline capable of delivering fifty million tons of oil annually and an oil terminal on the Black Sea. They also discussed construction of a gas pipeline, and the sale of three billion cubic meters of natural gas annually. Iran is said to be prepared to sell oil to Ukraine without delay. (Roman Solchanyk) CIS MILITARY BASE ATTACKED IN NAGORNO-KARABAKH. Azerbaijani forces have attacked a CIS military base near Stepanakert, killing two soldiers and injuring two others, ITAR-TASS reported on 24-February. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati left for Baku on 24-February to mediate the Karabakh dispute according to IRNA. Azerbaijani President Ayaz Mutalibov told Saudi Foreign Minister Price Saud al-Faysal that he welcomes all such initiatives, Interfax reported on 24-February. Turkish President Turgut Ozal told a news conference on 24-February that "a solution must be found" to the Karabakh conflict, but that while Turkey "should be more active" in this process it should not play the role of mediator. (Liz Fuller) SHEVARDNADZE INVITED TO RETURN TO GEORGIA. On 24-February Radio Moscow quoted Georgian Military Council co-chairman Dzhaba Ioseliani as claiming that a parliamentary democracy will be the most suitable system for Georgia. (A campaign for the restoration of the monarchy has suffered a serious setback in that none of the three claimants to the throne is considered suitable, The Times reported on 24-February.) Ioseliani further stated that former Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze had been invited to return to Georgia. The new elections which the Military Council originally planned to hold in the spring of this year have been postponed until the autumn. (Liz Fuller) ALL RESIDENTS OF MOLDOVA TO BE OFFERED CITIZENSHIP. Moldovan President Mircea Snegur issued a decree on 24-February saying that all residents of Moldova would be offered Moldovan citizenship, Reuters reported. The decree said they would have to decide by 4 June whether they wanted Moldovan citizenship. No special identification cards will be issued, but a special stamp will be entered in citizens' existing Soviet internal passports. (Ann Sheehy) NEW STATISTICS ON RELIGIOSITY OF RUSSIANS. On 22-February, "Novosti" reported the results of research carried out by the Russian Academy of Sciences. According to these statistics, in 1990 and 1991, 29% responded positively when asked whether they believe in God. In 1990, 46% confirmed that they identify themselves with Orthodoxy while in 1991, only 19% responded positively. "Novosti" commented that the decline in those associating themselves with Orthodoxy is probably because many people now identify themselves with Christianity in general. According to these statistics, the number of atheists has also declined sharply in the past 2 years. (Oxana Antic) BALTIC STATES BELARUS LAYS TERRITORIAL CLAIMS ON LITHUANIA. On 24-February in Minsk Belarus Foreign Minister Petr Krauchenka told a European Community delegation led by External Relations Commissioner Frans Andriessen that he wants to record his country's claim on Lithuanian border territory in the presence of an international audience . According to Reuters, when asked by an EC official whether the claim extends to Vilnius, Krauchenka replied "yes," but he added that border areas are those at issue. Krauchenka's claims were totally unexpected; Lithuania and Belarus had previously signed an agreement recognizing each other's borders. (Saulius Girnius) LATVIA TEMPORARILY HALTS SUPPLIES TO RUSSIA. Diena reported on 21-February that a group of enterprises in Latvia that are the sole producers in the former USSR of certain goods had agreed to stop sending their products to Russia for a period of three days. The protest action, prompted by Russia's failure to honor its agreements to provide Latvia with fuel and raw materials, surprised officials in Moscow and has apparently spurred them to take steps to bring Latvian-Russian economic relations into better order. A Latvian-Russian economic accord is expected to be signed on 25-February, Radio Riga reported on 24-February. (Dzintra Bungs) TEMPORARY PRICE CONTROLS IN LITHUANIA. On 24-February Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius issued a decree establishing temporary ceilings on price rises for commercial goods, Radio Lithuania reported. Goods sold by large commercial enterprises could only be raised 8% while those by small enterprises by 17% (or 25% if the goods are received independently from large enterprises). Controls are needed because of price instability caused by shortages of money and credit. The controls will go into effect on 25-February and last until 10-March. (Saulius Girnius) LITHUANIA TO TAKE OVER CUSTOM POSTS. On 25-January Lithuanian National Defense Minister Audrius Butkevicius informed the Russian authorities that Lithuania is going to take complete control over its customs posts and that the former Soviet border troops stationed there should withdraw. On 21-February, despite verbal protests, the troops at the custom posts at Lazdijai withdrew peacefully. At the Mukran ferry in Klaipeda, however, despite a previous agreement, troops refused to leave their facilities and even fired shots into the air when Lithuanian officials arrived to take over. Radio Lithuania on 25-February reported that after long discussions the troops agreed to leave that day but had not done so by early afternoon. (Saulius Girnius) CHINA WITHDRAWS EMBASSY FROM LATVIA. Chinese charge d'affaires Chen Di announced that his country is temporarily closing its embassy in Latvia and left Riga with his staff on 24-February, Western agencies report. This step, just short of breaking relations, was prompted by Latvia's decision to establish consular relations with Taiwan, which Beijing claims is in violation the accord that established diplomatic relations. In formal instruments of this sort China routinely insists on a clause specifying that Taiwan is part of China and the only legitimate government is in Beijing. An announcement from Beijing said that China hopes Latvia will reverse its position and bring relations back to normal. (Dzintra Bungs) CHURKIN SAYS ESTONIA "PARDONING" NAZI COLLABORATORS. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vitalii Churkin criticized as too broad a recent Estonian law that seeks to rehabilitate those convicted by Soviet courts after World War-II. Churkin said that even if many innocent persons obtain pardons under the law, so would others who were responsible for atrocities against civilians. The law declares illegal decisions made by Soviet tribunals that send thousands of Estonians to prison on charges of helping the Nazis, Reuters reported on 24-February. Heretofore, Estonia had been handling pardons on a case- by-case basis. (Dzintra Bungs) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE OLSZEWSKI SEEKS WIDER PARLIAMENTARY BASE. Polish Prime Minister Jan Olszewski met on 24-February with the parliamentary leadership of five parties to solicit support for the government's 1992 economic program. Government spokesman Marcin Gugulski expressed optimism, PAP reports, and although the party leaders themselves were more reserved, they will leave final decisions to their parliamentary fractions. Speaking to the editors of Nowy swiat, President Lech Walesa expressed irritation with the Polish political elites and spoke of a possible suspension of parliament if it appears that democracy is failing, with the government ruling by decree-subject to popular approval. (Roman Stefanowski) TYMINSKI READY TO FORM GOVERNMENT. On a visit to Poland Stanislaw Tyminski, former presidential candidate and leader of Party "X", told PAP on 22-February that he is willing to stay in the country permanently and form a government "if he receives popular support." After public meetings in Lodz and Katowice, Tyminski said that he has a cabinet list ready. He said the country is threatened by a social explosion that the current leadership-including Walesa-cannot control. Given three months for quick fixes, Tyminski says, he would start by setting up soup kitchens to feed the hungry. (Roman Stefanowski) POLISH ARMY CHANGES ANNOUNCED. Speaking in Szczecin on 24-February to army officers of the Pomeranian Military Region, Deputy Defense Minister Romuald Szeremietiew announced plans for change and rejuvenation in the military, particularly the higher level, training with the American army, and normalization of the functioning of the armaments industry. According to PAP, Szeremietiew said that the priority is to halt the deterioration in the Polish army. He pointed out that "among politicians there is a feeling that the army is diehard conservative and has bad morale." The army, Szeremietiew said, will be apolitical and nonparty. The politicians must find financial means for the army, he said, because they realize that-"with-out the army, as the guarantor of our sovereignty, no changes in Poland are possible." (Roman Stefanowski) PROTESTS AGAINST CZECHOSLOVAK-GERMAN TREATY. On 24-February about 7,000 people protested in central Prague against the Czechoslovak-German friendship treaty which is to be signed on 27-February, CSTK reported. The protest was organized by Movement 90, a grouping of rightist parties and movements, founded in August 1990. The rally was addressed by several leftist speakers, including communist deputy Miloslav Ransdorf, who called the present government one of "national treason," Reuters reported. Although the country's leaders have never made unconditional offers to return property confiscated from the expelled ethnic Germans, some Czechs still say the treaty is the first step toward recognizing German claims. (Peter Matuska) LAMBSDORFF DEFENDS CZECH LIBERAL PARTY. On 23-February the president of the Liberal International, Otto Graf Lambsdorff, expressed fear that the Czech conservative parties would wage a smear campaign against the liberal Civic Movement Party of Jiri Dienstbier in the June election campaign, an RFE correspondent reported. He quoted Dienstbier as saying that conservative finance minister Vaclav Klaus had taken a "very hostile stand" against the liberals because they do not share his view on a radical "de- bolshevization" in the country. Klaus has been faulted for "neglecting social measures for victims of the economic reform process." The German liberals promised to help both the Czech and the Hungarian liberals in the election campaign. (Peter Matuska) NO NUCLEAR PLANTS PLANNED FOR BOHEMIA AND MORAVIA. On 24-February Czech Environment Minister Ivan Dejmal said his government has no plans to build new nuclear plants in Bohemia and Moravia in the next decade, CSTK reported. Dejmal added, however, that the plant currently under construction at Temelin in southern Bohemia would be completed. On the same day federal, Czech, and Slovak finance ministers agreed to continue financing construction of the controversial dam at Gabcikovo-Nagymaros. An RFE correspondent reported that the Hungarian government will ask parliament this week to approve the government's intention unilaterally to cancel the 1977 bilateral treaty under which both countries started the project. (Peter Matuska) NEW YORK, BUDAPEST EXCHANGES TO COOPERATE. Under a cooperation agreement signed by the chairman of the board of the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) and the Budapest Commodity Exchange (BCE) on 24-February, NYMEX will offer the Budapest Exchange technical and professional aid and the two sides will exchange information about mutual business opportunities. NYMEX, the world's largest oil market, considers Hungary, which is crossed by all major oil pipelines in the region, an important point for the sale of Russian oil and natural gas to Western Europe. The Budapest Exchange, set up three years ago for trading livestock and grain, wants to start trading oil futures later this year with help from the New York Commodity Exchange. This was reported by MTI. (Edith Oltay) DROP IN HUNGARY'S POPULATION. According to preliminary figures released by the Hungarian Central Statistical Office, Hungary's population numbered about 10,355,000 on 1-February 1992, a drop of 20,000 compared to a year ago, MTI reported. Approximately 146,000 people died in 1991 but only 126,000 babies were born. There were about 90,000 abortions, which amounts to 71 abortions for every hundred live births. Hungary's population has been decreasing since 1981. (Edith Oltay) OPPOSITION WINS ROMANIAN CITIES. Partial results from the 23-February runoff elections suggest that candidates from the opposition Democratic Convention (DC) won important races against the ruling National Salvation Front (NSF), including the mayorships of Bucharest, Brasov, Timisoara, Arad, Sibiu, Alba Iulia, Bacau, Constanta, Ploiesti, and Satu Mare, Radio Bucharest reports. In general the DC dominated contests in major towns, while the NSF held on to its power in rural parts of the country. (Crisula Stefanescu) BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN BUCHAREST. During his visit to Romania on 24-February, Bulgarian foreign minister Stoyan Ganev held talks with President Ion Iliescu and-other officials. Iliescu, quoted by Rompres, said that the talks concerned mutual relations and the situation in the former Yugoslavia. Both sides agreed that all states bordering Yugoslavia must clearly renounce territorial claims. Ganev proposed a Helsinki- type process for Balkan nations that would guarantee existing frontiers, and said that security was linked to the safety of frontiers, self-determination, and re-nunciation of territorial claims. (Crisula Stefanescu) TASK FORCE TO ANALYZE BULGARIA'S POWER PROBLEMS. On 24-February the Bulgarian government set up a task force of officials and experts to find a quick solution to the country's energy shortages, BTA reports. The move was prompted by the lingering effects of a fault in a reactor at the Kozloduy nuclear plant, forcing authorities to keep rationing at 50%. Among other things, the task force will look into the possibility of buying electricity from Poland or Turkey, as well as coal from Ukraine or Russia. (Kjell Engelbrekt) PUSHKAROV ON BULGARIA'S "STRUCTURAL REFORMS." At a press conference on 24-February, Minister of Industry and Trade Ivan Pushkarov discussed plans and probable effects of sweeping structural transformations of the economy. According to BTA, Pushkarov said those companies that seem competitive will receive encouragement while others will have to be closed. He warned that some 150-200,000 jobs in the largely unprofitable mining industry could be abolished. At the same time Pushkarov promised that retraining and unemployment compensation programs financed by World Bank credits would be made available to many. (Kjell Engelbrekt) CONSENSUS IN BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA? The 25-February Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports that the Muslim, Serbian, and Croatian leaders of the ethnically mixed republic reached a compromise amid American encouragement in Lisbon over the weekend. The gist of the plan is to set up a Swiss-type loose federal system based on cantons, but with the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the republic intact. This meant a retreat by the Muslims from their demand for a unitary republic, while Serbian and Croatian nationalists will have to give up hope of breaking away from Bosnia to join Serbia and Croatia, respectively. Nonetheless, the BBC said on 24-February that Muslim and Croatian leaders that day called for the federal army to leave Bosnia if next weekend's referendum backs independence. The Serbian population wants the army to stay. (Patrick Moore) As of 1200 CET Compiled by Carla Thorson & Charles Trumbull
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