|The fool wonders, the wise man asks. - Benjamin Disraeli|
No. 40, 27 February 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR MEETING OF CIS PARLIAMENTARY LEADERS IN MOSCOW. CIS parliamentary leaders are to meet in Moscow on 27-February to approve the documents on cooperation between CIS supreme soviets adopted at a meeting of deputy parliamentary leaders in Minsk on 24-January, ITAR-TASS reported on 26-February. According to the first deputy chairman of the Russian parliament, Sergei Filatov, only Uzbekistan had not yet confirmed its attendance. Filatov claimed that the idea of creating an interparliamentary assembly-which had been rejected in Minsk by Ukraine and Belarus as premature-had found general support during preparations for the meeting. (Ann Sheehy) FIVE CIS STATES SIGN HELSINKI FINAL ACT. The presidents of Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan signed the Accords of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe on 26-February, Western agencies and ITAR-TASS reported. At a press conference after the signing ceremony, Uzbek President Islam Karimov remarked that the future of the CIS depends on whether Russia's policies strengthen it. If Russia respects the equality of member states, the CIS could have a long life. Tajik President Rakhman Nabiev commented that the expansion of the CSCE to include the region extending to the Pamir and the Pacific meets the needs of today's global situation. (Bess Brown) MEETING OF CIS, GEORGIAN, AND BALTIC PROCURATORS. A meeting of the procurator generals of the CIS states (with the exception of Turkmenistan), Georgia, and the Baltic republics took place recently to discuss cooperation, the fate of the archive of the USSR Procuracy, and in particular the question of extradition, Izvestiya reported on 20-February. The procurators were unable to reach agreement on most professional issues because of the unresolved political problems of the CIS. They agreed only to ask their presidents and parliaments to set up a Council of CIS Procurator Generals. As regards the extradition of criminals, the majority decided they should be handed over. Only Latvia said that it would not extradite a citizen but would try them instead under Latvian law. (Ann Sheehy) LOBOV ON ARMIES, MINSK MEETING. Former General Staff Chief Vladimir Lobov told Postfactum on 26-February that he thinks CIS member-states-including Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Russia will soon begin to create national armies. Lobov also gave a positive assessment of the recent Minsk summit, but noted that once again republican leaders had failed to determine exactly which troops will be included within the united CIS forces. (Stephen Foye) "OPEN SKIES" COMPROMISE REVEALED. A report in the 26-February issue of Megapolis Express explained how the negotiators had solved one of the most contentious issues in the Open Skies aerial inspection talks conducted by members of NATO and the former Warsaw Pact. The Soviet Union had demanded to be able to overfly US bases in Japan, for example, before it would agree to open all of its territory to aerial inspection. The report says that it dropped this demand when NATO members agreed to provide information on their military activities at bases in other countries. Russia now occupies the Soviet seat at these Vienna talks, with representatives from Belarus and Ukraine also attending. (Doug Clarke) KOZYREV ON RUSSIAN INTERESTS. Prior to his departure for Africa on 26-February, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev told a "Novosti" correspondent that Russia respects the sovereignty of the CIS states and wishes to build relations with them on an equal basis. He added that at the same time, Russia will strictly defend its own interests. These are, according to Kozyrev, "a unified army, human rights, the protection of the Russian and the Russian-speaking population in other CIS states, and economic cooperation." (Suzanne Crow) KHASBULATOV ON FOREIGN POLICY. Speaking at a conference on "Russia in the Changing World" in Moscow on 26-February, Russian Supreme Soviet Chairman Ruslan Khasbulatov said that "a major task of Russia's foreign policy and diplomacy is to contribute to the efforts to create an efficient and dynamically developing economy." He added, this will enable Russia to take "a dignified place commanding respect in the world community." According to Khasbulatov, this was a "weak point in the foreign policy of the former USSR," and it has failed to be "adequately reflected" in Russia's foreign policy so far, Interfax reported. (Suzanne Crow) PRIMAKOV ON DEFENSE OF RUSSIAN NATIONAL INTERESTS. The main characteristic of Russian intelligence in the 1990s will be a less confrontational approach toward its counterparts, said Director of Russian Foreign Intelligence Evgenii Primakov at the conference, "Russia in the Changing World." According to Radio Rossii on 26-February, Primakov stressed the defense of Russian economic interests, and the prevention of terrorism, regional conflicts, and the proliferation of dangerous technology as the main objectives for his service. (Victor Yasmann) YELTSIN STILL SUPPORTS FEDERAL TREATY. President Boris Yeltsin said at meetings with Russian parliamentary committees and factions on 25 and 26-February that he remained a supporter of a federal treaty with Russia's constituent republics, ITAR-TASS reported. There have been suggestions that a federal treaty would lead to the break-up of the Russian Federation and should be replaced by an agreement on the delimitation of powers between the center and the republics, but the draft agreement has run into a lot of opposition in the republics. Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev said at a press conference on 26-February that both the draft Russian constitution and the draft agreement were unacceptable to a majority of the republics, Radio Rossii reported. The constitution is on the agenda of the Congress of People's Deputies scheduled for 6-April, but Yeltsin said on 25-February that he thought its adoption unlikely. (Ann Sheehy) KHASBULATOV THREATENS YELTSIN. Russian parliamentary leader Ruslan Khasbulatov resumed his attacks on the Russian government, urging President Boris Yeltsin to change the government since otherwise the Congress of People's Deputies may pass a vote of no confidence. Khasbulatov told Trud on 26-February that Yeltsin should give up his post as prime minister and indirectly warned him that the parliament might remove the special powers granted to the president last year. Ironically, Yeltsin now faces a similar danger from the Congress to that of last March, when hardliners, led by RSFSR CP chief Ivan Polozkov, had tried to remove him from power. (Alexander Rahr) SOBCHAK ATTACKS GOVERNMENT. St.-Petersburg Mayor Anatolii Sobchak has attacked the Russian government for having started economic reform too hastily. In an interview with Stern, quoted by Western agencies on 26-February, Sobchak called the Russian government "adventurous" and questioned whether it understands the consequences of its policy. Sobchak said the decision to free prices before privatization was "madness." He warned of "a social explosion" in Russia. Sobchak met with Russian government leaders in Moscow last week but said afterwards that he still does not understand the "political position" of the government, according to Radio Mayak on 21-February. (Alexander Rahr) RUSSIAN VAT TO BE LOWERED? The head of Russia's taxation service, Igor Lazarev, told a Moscow news conference on 26-February that the rates of value added tax may be reviewed in April if the financial situation permits, Reuters reported. A VAT of 28% is currently levied on most goods, although some staple items are taxed at 15% and certain items are exempt. Lazarev agreed that the current high rate of VAT was a disincentive to production, and thought that about 20% was optimal. The problem is that the tax collection system is not working well: in January, 10 billion rubles were taken in instead of the anticipated 31 billion. And potential Western creditors may be dismayed at the widening budget deficit that Lazarev's statement implies. (Keith Bush) DISPUTE CONTINUES OVER PAYMENT OF EXTERNAL DEBT. Russian Minister of External Economic Affairs Petr Aven told ITAR-TASS on 26-February that Russia saw no need to abandon existing agreements on servicing the former Soviet Union's external debt. He was reacting to the Kiev meeting on 25-February where all of the former Soviet republics, other than Russia and Georgia, called for the channelling of repayments through a reorganized Vneshekonombank that was removed from Russian jurisdiction (see the Daily Report, 26-February). Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk said that, for correctness and accuracy, a new mechanism for repaying the debt had to be worked out between the republics. (Keith Bush) "SCISSORS CRISIS" SHARPENS. Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Egor Gaidar met on 25-February with leading academics to discuss the progress of agrarian reform, Radio Rossii and Radio Moscow reported. Participants stressed that the fate of kolkhozes and sovkhozes should be decided not at public gatherings but according to the wishes of each individual peasant. The latest "scissors crisis" was debated-shades of 1923! Farmers have had to pay 14 or more times as much for agricultural machinery and other producer goods, while receiving only 4-5 times as much for their produce. [The period in question was not stipulated]. (Keith Bush) KRAVCHUK ON CIS, RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA. Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk, arriving in Helsinki on 26-February, told reporters that instability in Russia, given its size and power, could have a direct impact on the CIS, ITAR-TASS reported. Ukraine's duty with regard to normalizing the situation in Russia, he continued, was to adhere strictly to the 1990 treaty between the two countries. Kravchuk said that he was impressed with Boris Yeltsin's recent statement that the Russian parliament acted hastily and inadvisably with regard to the Crimean question. (Roman-Solchanyk) CRIMEA CHANGES ITS NAME. The Crimean Supreme Soviet on 26-February decided to rename the Crimean ASSR the Republic of Crimea, Ukrinform-TASS and Radio Kiev reported. The Crimean lawmakers also discussed the draft of a new constitution and adopted a resolution on the state anthem. (Roman Solchanyk) THREE-DAY CEASE-FIRE AGREED TO IN NAGORNO-KARABAKH? An Iranian claim on 25-February that a 25-hour cease-fire had been agreed to in Nagorno-Karabakh was denied by Armenian officials on 26-February. Armenian forces took the Nagorno-Karabakh town of Khodzhali on 26-February. Azerbaijani Interior Minister Tofik Kerimov said that 100 Azerbaijanis were killed, while Armenian sources claim that the town surrendered with virtually no resistance. A report by Interfax and Azerbaijani news agencies on 26-February that Iranian Foreign Minister Velayati had arranged a three-day cease-fire beginning 27-February had been agreed to has not been confirmed by Armenia. Meanwhile, the French government has drawn up a four-point peace plan involving the EC, the CSCE and the UN. The US State Department has called on the Armenian and Azerbaijani governments to end the fighting and begin peace negotiations. (Liz Fuller) MUTINY AT BAIKONUR. A military construction unit mutinied at the Baikonur space center from 23 to 25-February and three soldiers were killed, according to ITAR-TASS and "Vesti" on 26-February. The mutiny reportedly grew out of a conflict between an officer and the troops over rules violations. Western reports, quoting Alma-Ata police officials, say that the three soldiers died when a barracks burned down. These sources quoted the Dana-Press agency as saying that poor living conditions were among the causes of the mutiny. "Vesti" suggested that Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev's rather abrupt return from Pakistan may have been motivated by concern over the mutiny. (Bess Brown) TASHKENT MUFTI REELECTED. Tashkent journalist Tahir Umarov informed RFE/RL on 26-February that a kurultai (congress) of Central Asian Muslims had just reelected Mufti Muhammad-Sadyk Muhammad-Yusuf to the post of chairman of the Muslim Religious Board for Central Asia. There have been two attempts in the last year by disaffected Muslim clergy to dislodge him from the leadership of the board. The second attempt, in January, was accompanied by charges that the mufti had cooperated closely with the KGB. (Bess Brown) KAZAKH PREMIER IN CHINA. Kazakhstan's prime minister, Sergei Tereshchenko, signed a number of agreements during his visit to China, Western and CIS news agencies reported on 26-February. Tereshchenko told a news conference in Peking that among the economic agreements were two dealing with investments, transport and one that will allow Chinese entrepreneurs to sell consumer goods in Kazakhstan. Tereshchenko also told the news conference that he believed Kazakhstan's relations with the Kazakh minority in Sinkiang would be no hindrance to good relations with Peking. (Bess Brown) BALTIC STATES ESTONIAN CITIZENSHIP LAW PASSED. On 26-February, with the minimum required 52 votes, the Estonian Supreme Council passed a citizenship law, ETA reported. The law reestablishes the 16-June 1940 variant of the 1938 law that granted citizenship to residents of Estonia and their descendants. The earlier law was amended to reflect the current situation by granting citizenship to all people subsequently born in Estonia. Others can gain citizenship by demonstrating a 3-year residency in Estonia beginning on or after 30-March 1990 and submitting an application after 30-March 1992. Knowledge of Estonian, the state language, is required, but no level of proficiency is specified. Citizenship will not be granted to personnel serving in foreign armies, persons who served in Soviet repressive and intelligence organizations, convicted criminals, or persons without permanent employment in Estonia. (Saulius Girnius) DEBATE ON LITHUANIAN BUDGET. On 25-27 February the parliament continued discussing the 1992 budget, with parts of the debate being broadcast live over Radio Lithuania. On 25-February it voted to increase planned income to 29.627-billion rubles or 1.7-billion rubles more than in the government proposal. The increase would be financed by raising the value added tax from 15 to 18%. Debate on expenditures continued for the next two days. Proposed expenditures for the parliament and government apparatus were decreased by 15%, funding for the military was kept at the 1992 level with adjustments for inflation, and additional funds were granted to agriculture. Most of the other budget cuts proposed by the economics commission were not approved. It is not clear when the full budget will be approved. (Saulius Girnius) LATVIAN-RUSSIAN TALKS IN MARCH? On 25-February in Moscow Premier Ivars Godmanis of Latvia and Russian Deputy Premier Egor Gaidar signed economic accords for 1992, Radio Riga reports. That same day Godmanis and other Latvian representatives agreed with Russia's First Deputy Premier Gennadii Burbulis to hold two meetings on withdrawal of troops of the former USSR from Latvia-the first on 3-March among experts and a second on 23-March involving full delegations. The meeting-dates, as well as the developments in Lithuania, suggest that troop departure from Latvia may not start in March, as stated in the Latvian-Russian communique issued in Riga on 1-February. (Dzintra Bungs) TOWARD A CENTER PARTY? On 22-February about 500-persons of various political persuasions attended a public meeting sponsored by "Veterans of the People's Front of Latvia" on Latvia's future and the possibility of forming either a coalition of "democratic forces" or a new political party, Radio Riga reported. Most of the organizers, including Dainis Ivans, were active in the PFL in its first two years and felt that the PFL had become too radical. The meeting did not result in the formation of a new party or movement, but it was decided that by 1-March a coordinator of democratic forces would be designated and by 15-March a program would be drawn up. The new organization is intended to attract moderates of all nationalities living in Latvia. (Dzintra Bungs) BORDER TO BE ENFORCED THROUGH ESTONIAN-LATVIAN TOWN. Beginning 1-March border formalities will be enforced between the two sections of the single town straddling the border and known as Valka in Latvia and Valga in Estonia. On 25-February Diena quoted Valka mayor Ainis Bormanis that the Estonian and Latvian governments had refused establish a free economic zone in the town that would have fostered the sharing of common facilities and free movement for its residents. Henceforth Latvians wanting to visit Valga will have to obtain a visa costing 25-rubles, but residents requiring frequent access to Valga can obtain a long-term permit for 30-rubles. A fence has already been put up through the middle of the town dividing it into its Estonian and Latvian parts. (Dzintra Bungs) LITHUANIA SIGNS ARCHIVE AGREEMENT WITH BELARUS. On 26-February Radio Lithuania reported that Lithuania signed an agreement with Belarus on sharing of state archival materials. Similar agreements have been signed with two other states. (Saulius Girnius) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE CZECHOSLOVAK-GERMAN TREATY. On 26-February, speaking to Western journalists, President Vaclav Havel again condemned the expulsion of the Sudeten Germans, and added that the 1945 Potsdam Agreement only legalized "the transfer that was already underway." In an interview with the Prager Zeitung, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl said his country "wanted to complete our reconciliation [with the population of Czechoslovakia] and focus on the future." The Czechoslovak-German friendship treaty is to be signed by Havel and Kohl in Prague on 27-February. (Peter Matuska) DISPUTES OVER THE CZECHOSLOVAK-GERMAN TREATY. Critics in both countries have called the treaty a compromise that settles little. There has been domestic political squabbling on both side of the border, and rallies against the treaty were held in Czechoslovakia. The main criticism of the document is that it does not call the 1938 Munich Agreement null and void from the beginning. Several opposition deputies in the Czechoslovak parliament have sent letters to Havel asking him not to sign the treaty. In Germany the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the Sudeten Landsmannschaft had been pressing for provisions in the treaty to ensure Sudeten Germans' right to return to Czechoslovakia and to guarantee restitution of their property, CSTK reports. (Peter Matuska) SLOVAK DEPUTIES RAISE PERCENTAGE NEEDED TO ENTER PARLIAMENT. On 26-February the Slovak parliament voted to raise the minimum threshold required for representation in that body to five percent. A three percent threshold was in effect during the 1990 parliamentary elections. The measure will make it harder for small parties to win seats in the legislature, an RFE correspondent reports. The vote follows a similar move by the Czech parliament. The Slovak law, however, does not contain a provision for smaller parties to form coalitions and pool votes to reach the required percentage. (Peter Matuska) OLSZEWSKI PRESENTS HIS PROGRAM IN THE SEJM. On 26-February Prime Minister Jan Olszewski presented his government's antirecession program in the Sejm, Polish and Western media report. The social and economic program for 1992 seeks to overcome recession by providing financial help to state enterprises, increasing money supply to boost investments, reducing taxes and interest rates, and guaranteeing prices for agricultural products. The program has met extensive criticism. Former prime minister Jan Krzysztof Bielecki faulted the program for veering away from restructuring state enterprises and social services. Another former prime minister, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, told the Sejm that the antirecession drive would cause the collapse of the anti-inflationary policies. President Walesa distanced himself from the government program as well. (Roman Stefanowski) CONTROVERSIAL DEFENSE MINISTRY APPOINTMENT. On 25-February Olszewski appointed 29-year-old Polish-British journalist Radoslaw Sikorski as Deputy Defense Minister, Polish and Western media report. In the 1980's Sikorski fought in Afghanistan with the mujahidin and wrote extensively on the subject. At present he is an investment adviser to Rupert Murdoch and Warsaw correspondent of the London Sunday Telegraph. A number of Sejm deputies and papers such as Gazeta wyborcza have questioned Sikorski's loyalty, as a British subject, and his competence for the job. President Walesa also reacted coolly to the appointment. (Roman Stefanowski) ALARM AT POLISH ATOMIC ENERGY INSTITUTE. Stefan Chwaszczewski, Director of the Atomic Energy Institute at Swierk, told RFE/RL on 26-February that the facility is running out of money and has no funds beyond March. The institute receives half its funding by making and selling radioactive isotopes for medicine and the other half from the government. For the current quarter the government has handed over only 4% of the money due. Closing the institute, Chwaszczewski says, would mean that Polish nuclear scientists would be open to Third World offers; moreover, a shutdown could lead to problems in connection with the safe storage of the institute's two small nuclear research reactors. (Roman Stefanowski) ROMANIA REIMPOSES HARD-CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS. The National Bank has reimposed limits on the amount of hard currency citizens can buy, an RFE correspondent reports. Each year individuals may now exchange only 50,000-lei-about five months' pay for the average worker. Last November the government removed most controls on currency exchange with a view to reviving the economy, but in recent months imports have increased, exports are down, and production has declined. (Crisula Stefanescu) ROMANIA CRITICIZED DESPITE IMPROVED HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD. On 26-February human rights expert, Joseph Voyame of Switzerland, told the UN Commission on Human Rights, that although improvements in human rights in Romania were "more systematic and substantive," police were often "too brutal" in breaking up demonstrations and "too soft" in protecting "certain sectors of the population." He added that Romania's public officials need to respond "more vigorously" to complaints of human rights violations, especially from ethnic minorities, an RFE correspondent reports.(Crisula Stefanescu) ROMANIA, TURKEY SIGN COOPERATION ACCORDS. Turkish foreign minister Hikmet Cetin and his Romanian counterpart, Adrian Nastase, on an official two-day visit in Turkey, signed accords on 26-February to expand bilateral relations and joint efforts in fighting drug trafficking, Rompres reports. (Crisula Stefanescu) BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN BELGRADE. During a two-day visit to Serbia, Bulgarian foreign minister Stoyan Ganev met with his counterpart Vladislav Jovanovic and federal foreign affairs secretary Milivoje Maksic, as well as with Serbian prime minister Radoman Bozovic and parliamentary chairman Aleksandar Bakocevic, Bulgarian radio reported on 26-February. Ganev said he came to "speak frankly" about problems in bilateral relations, which have been strained since Bulgaria recognized four Yugoslav republics as independent. The talks also touched on minority rights and Black Sea regional cooperation. (Kjell Engelbrekt) EC PEACE CONFERENCE FOR EX-YUGOSLAVIA TO RESUME. The 27-February Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung says that the talks will resume during the week of 9-March, and the working groups on the economy, institutional change, and human rights will meet as early as 4-March. Slovenia wants a fourth unit set up to deal with the division of the former Yugoslavia's debt and property. The resumption was made possible on 26-February when Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, meeting in Belgrade with the EC's chief negotiator Lord Carrington, said that Serbia will return to the gathering. Milosevic withdrew support late last year when the EC imposed sanctions on Serbia. Carrington has stressed to the Serbs that the UN peace-keeping operation is not designed to lead to a final political settlement, which is the job of the EC conference. (Patrick Moore) INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS OF FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLICS ARE A COMPLEX AFFAIR. Lifting the EC sanctions may be easier-said than done, however. The Frankfurt daily reports-that Croatia and Slovenia were ostensibly exempted from the sanctions, but that practice has proven otherwise. German officials apparently believe that the cause is "a clear case of sabotage by some elements in the EC bureaucracy-.-.-. [as well as] some states, perhaps Great Britain." On 23-February German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher promised Slovenian leaders that he would raise the matter with EC Commission President Jacques Delors. Meanwhile, Slovenia finds itself recognized by Holland, but Dutch customs guards will not honor Slovenian passports. Promises made by the Italian foreign minister to Slovenia are apparently ignored by other Italian officials, while the Italian press runs "sensationalist" articles about alleged German ambitions in Slovenia. (Patrick Moore) CONFERENCE ON CROATIAN REFUGEES IN HUNGARY. On 26-February, an international conference dealing with the repatriation of Croatian refugees in Hungary opened in Budapest, MTI reports. Representatives of the Hungarian Ministry of the Interior, the Croatian government, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees are participating. The Hungarian Ministry of Interior puts the number of officially registered refugees from the former Yugoslavia at close to 50,000, and estimates that another 10-15,000 are not officially registered but are receiving aid from church and social organizations. Most refugees are staying with families, and some 2,000-have already returned to Croatia. The refugees' stay in Hungary is financed jointly by the Hungarian government and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. (Edith Oltay) As of 1200 CET Compiled by Carla Thorson & Charles Trumbull
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