|Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith. - Christopher Fry|
No. 41, 28 February 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR MEAGER RESULTS OF MEETING OF CIS PARLIAMENTARY LEADERS. The meeting of CIS parliamentary leaders in Moscow on 27-February had much in common with the earlier meetings of CIS leaders in Minsk, to judge from CIS and Western agency reports. The participants were upbeat about the results, but only four out of the nine documents on the agenda were signed, and the major issue-the possible creation of an interparliamentary assembly-was once again postponed. Aleksandr Emets, a member of the Ukrainian delegation, said after the meeting that Ukraine was concerned that any coordinating bodies within the CIS "could very soon turn into ruling bodies." The parliamentary leaders are to meet again in Alma-Ata at the end of March. (Ann Sheehy) YELTSIN MEETS FEDERATION'S REPUBLICAN PREMIERS. President Yeltsin told the premiers of the constituent republics of the Russian Federation at a meeting on 27-February that he would propose at the Congress of People's Deputies in April that they suspend the "parade of sovereignties" for two years and get on with dealing with the problems facing Russia, ITAR-TASS reported, citing Yeltsin's acting press spokesman Aleksei Novikov. The idea is said to have been supported by 15-of the 21-republics. Yeltsin said that the leaders of the republics would receive the final draft of the new Russian constitution at the beginning of next week and they would meet in Moscow in mid- March to discuss it. Those present-it was not revealed how many republics were represented-are said to have supported Yeltsin's proposal that a federal treaty should be signed with a view to its forming part of the new constitution. (Ann Sheehy) RUSSIAN ECONOMIC REFORM PACKAGE ADOPTED. The Russian cabinet has adopted a memorandum on the Federation's economic policy for 1992 that had previously been approved by the International Monetary Fund, ITAR-TASS reported on 27-February. The "shadow program," in IMF parlance (see The Wall Street Journal of 27-February), will be forwarded to the IMF "in the nearest future" to support Russia's application for full membership of the Fund. If membership is granted, at the end of-April as anticipated, Russia would then qualify for IMF assistance as early as June or July. The full text of the program will be published next week. (Keith Bush) MORE PRICES TO BE DECONTROLLED. A-salient feature of the reform program is the planned deregulation of almost all retail prices by the end of March. The exceptions listed by economic advisers Konstantin Kagalovsky and Aleksei Ulyukaev were the retail prices of medicines, certain baby foods, and public utilities such as heating, water, gas, and electricity. The wholesale prices for energy-carriers will be gradually adjusted upwards until their prices reach about 30% of the world levels. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Egor Gaidar expressed the conviction that Russia will have a normally functioning market economy by the end of 1992, and "low" inflation rates of 2-3% a month. (Keith Bush) YELTSIN STRENGTHENS CONTROL OVER SECURITY AND FOREIGN POLICY. Russian President Yeltsin has placed himself directly in charge of the ministries of security, foreign affairs and justice. A decree "On the Ministries of the Russian Federation" dated 25-February stipulates that in order to ensure the swifter resolution of questions arising from the implementation of economic reform, the president himself will direct these ministries, Rossiiskaya gazeta reported on 28-February. The decree also stipulates that First Deputy Prime Minister Gennadii Burbulis is now responsible for the daily operations of the foreign ministry and Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai for the daily activities of the ministries of security and internal affairs. (Alexander Rahr) RUTSKOI'S NEW POWERS. President Yeltsin has signed a decree on the new duties of the vice president. The decree empowers Aleksandr Rutskoi to issue orders on agricultural matters which are binding on ministries, departments, and organs of executive power in Russia, Interfax reported on 27-February. The decree tasks Rutskoi to direct the conversion of the military-industrial complex into the agriculture sector and to use proceeds from arms sales and from selling former Soviet military real estate abroad to modernize agriculture. In addition, Rutskoi will be responsible for selling military hardware and armaments abroad. (Alexander Rahr) NUKES BEING MOVED TO RUSSIA. A senior CIS defense official told participants at an arms seminar in Washington on 27-February that the transfer of short-range nuclear weapons from other CIS republics to Russia will probably be completed in May, two months ahead of schedule. General Sergei Zelentsov said that short-range nuclear weapons had already been moved to Russia from all republics except Belarus and Ukraine. Evgenii Avrorin, chief scientist at the Russian nuclear arms complex at Chelyabinsk-70, told the same conference that he knew of no former Soviet scientists who have been employed by Third World countries. He also said that about half of all nuclear scientists formerly employed by the USSR are no longer working on military projects. Their remarks were reported by Western agencies. (Stephen Foye) KAZAKH OFFICIAL ON NUCLEAR WEAPONS. Krasnaya Zvezda on 26-February published an interview with Burkutbay Ayagonov, identified as the chief of the public opinion research and sociological forecasting section in the office of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev. Ayaganov said that Kazakhstan's possession of nuclear weapons would enable it to be "an equal among other sovereign states." He also noted that Kazakhstan was surrounded by nuclear and potential nuclear powers and thus would "always feel safer with nuclear-tipped strategic missiles on its territory than without them." He supported the "single defense area" as long as ex-Soviet missiles were based in four republics but suggested that future control of these weapons should be based on a new, bilateral agreement between Russia and Kazakhstan once strategic weapons were removed from Ukraine and Belarus. (Doug Clarke) RUSSIAN MILITARY ADVISORS TO REMAIN IN ANGOLA. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, visiting Angola, said on 27-February that military cooperation with the West African nation would continue, and this would mean leaving "a small number of Russian military-technical specialists" in the country. ITAR-TASS said that Kozyrev also indicated that an agreement had been reached during his talks with Angolan authorities to wrap up the activities of the former Soviet military mission to Angola. (Doug Clarke) DUDAEV SENDS ULTIMATUM TO RUSSIA. Chechen President Dzhakhar Dudaev sent Yeltsin an ultimatum on 27-February threatening to stop delivering oil products to Russia if Russia did not let Chechnya have the one billion rubles it is owed within three days, "Novosti" reported on 28-February. Chechnya produces 92% of the aviation oil in Russia. (Ann Sheehy) FOOD SITUATION IN ST. PETERSBURG. Interviewed on Russian TV on 27-February, parliamentarian Galina Starovoitova said that the food situation has recently improved slightly in her constituency, St. Petersburg. Starovoitova's impression is supported by reports from other informants, who say the situation is now comparable to what it was in 1984. (Elizabeth-Teague) YELTSIN TAKES STEPS TO SAVE PRESS FROM BANKRUPTCY. President Yeltsin signed a decree "On Additional Legal and Economic Safeguards for the Periodical Press and State Book Publishers," the Russian media reported on 25-February. On 26-February, Radio Rossii provided details of the decree which orders paper producers to sell 70% of their output for a fixed price which can not exceed 4,000 rubles per ton. The decree also promises subsidies for Rospechat (the Russian retail newspaper agency), which has a monopoly on the distribution of periodicals in Russia. The subsidies will lower the prices which Rospechat charges newspapers for its services. Yeltsin's decree comes in response to sharp complaints by Russian journalists, editors and publishers. (Vera Tolz) CREATION OF "VOICE OF RUSSIA." Beginning on 1-March, the former Soviet foreign broadcasting service (Inoveshchanie) will be transformed into the "Voice of Russia" under the administration of the Russian State Radio and Television Company headed by Oleg Poptsov, Radio Moscow reported on 27-February. The new station will take over the assets, facilities and employees of Radio Moscow's external broadcasting. "Voice of Russia" will broadcast in the same foreign languages and on the same wavebands as the former external services. (Victor Yasmann) NEW WOMEN'S GROUP FORMED. St.-Petersburg women have formed a movement called "Survival," Russian Information Agency reported on 26-February. Its purpose is to fight against the commercialization of creches and kindergartens, price rises, and unemployment which, the group points out, is especially high among female workers. Further details of the group are not available but its creation bears out the impression that, as in other former Socialist countries such as the former GDR, women are bearing much of the brunt of the transition to the market. (Elizabeth Teague) CRIMEA AND UKRAINE. Crimean lawmakers are continuing to discuss the draft of a new constitution for the Republic of Crimea, "Novosti" reported on 26 and 27-February. Thus far, the deputies have dropped the word "autonomous" and the phrase "within Ukraine" from the republic's basic law. At the same time, it does not refer to secession from Ukraine and the delineation of powers between Crimea and Ukraine is now under discussion. (Roman Solchanyk) "RUKH" CONVENES ITS THIRD CONGRESS. The-Ukrainian democratic reform movement "Rukh," formerly the focus of opposition to the communist regime, begins its third congress on 28-February, Western agencies reported. "Rukh" is threatened by a split between those urging support for the policies of Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk and proponents of keeping the organization in opposition to the current leadership of the country. (Roman Solchanyk) BELARUSIAN OFFICIAL ON FUTURE OF NATIONAL ARMY. Myacheslau Hryb, chairman of the Belarusian Supreme Soviet Commission on Security, Defense, and the Fight Against Crime, told Krasnaya zvezda on 27-February that Belarus needs a small but effective army. Hryb said his country will have a force of approximately 90,000 servicemen. After a certain transitional period, Belarus will assume responsibility for all costs related to the maintenance of an army on its territory. (Kathy Mihalisko) CEASE-FIRE COLLAPSES IN NAGORNO-KARABAKH . . . Armenia and Azerbaijan blamed each other for the violation after only a few hours of the 3-day ceasefire brokered by Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati. Radio Rossii reported on 27-February that Azerbaijan launched a major offensive against the town of Askeran, using tanks and military helicopters, but according to ITAR-TASS, the shooting stopped at nightfall. The renewed fighting forced Velayati to abandon plans to visit the disputed region; he travelled instead direct to Erevan. The Armenian Defense Ministry has broadcast an appeal to Armenians serving in the CIS armed forces to return home to form the basis of an Armenian National Army. (Liz Fuller) BUT THE SEARCH FOR SOLUTIONS CON-TINUES. Addressing a meeting of foreign ministers of CSCE member states in Prague on 27-February, Czechoslovak Foreign Minister Jiri Dienstbier called on the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan to end the fighting in the region and begin peace nego-tiations. The French Secretary of State for Human-itarian Affairs Bernard Kouchner has revealed details of the French plan to provide humanitarian aid to Karabakh and deploy monitors to observe a ceasefire. In Geneva a spokesman said the International Red Cross will begin humanitarian operations in the NKAO in two-three weeks. (Liz Fuller) AKAEV ON INFORMATION FAMINE. Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev has proposed the creation of a "unified information space" embracing the entire CIS as a means of overcoming the present information famine, KyrgyzTAG-TASS reported on 27-February. The report notes that many publica-tions do not reach the population of many parts of the former USSR, broadcast times of central TV and radio have been reduced, and local journalists cannot fill the information gap. Akaev has proposed that representatives of the most popular dailies and of press services gather in Bishkek to devise an all-CIS information policy. (Bess Brown) NEW VICE PRESIDENT IN KYRGYZSTAN. Feliks Kulov, Kyrgyzstan's liberal MVD chief, has been elected vice-president on the recommendation of Kyrgyz President Akaev, KyrgyzTAG-TASS reported on 27-February. Kulov, one of Akaev's closest associates in the latter's efforts to create a functioning democracy in Kyrgyzstan, received an award from Gorbachev for his role in defending democratization in the republic during the August coup. Akaev's choice may reflect his concern, expressed in an interview with Pravda of 10-February, that social and ethnic stresses resulting from the economic reform program could endanger political liberalization. Kulov would be expected to defuse tensions in Kyrgyzstan as a whole with the same skill he used in Frunze in 1990. (Bess Brown) BALTIC STATES ESTONIAN REHABILITATION LAW. On 27-February responding to the charges on 24-February by Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vitalii Churkin that the Estonian rehabilitation law would clear Nazi war criminals, Estonia's parliament issued a statement saying that Nazi war criminals were not included, Reuters reports. The law, passed on 19-February, rehabilitates those who had been sentenced by Soviet tribunals without court trials, but explicitly states that the Estonian Supreme Court could reopen cases if evidence linking a rehabilitated person to actual war crimes were presented. (Saulius Girnius) SOVIET TROOPS LEAVE MICKUNAI. On 27-February troops of the former Soviet Union left the air defense division base at Mickunai, Radio Lithuania reports. The planned signing of documents handing over the base after inspection did not occur because the Russian side did not show up. Moreover, most of the military equipment was transferred to the base in Visoriai in violation of the agreement that Lithuania would be informed prior to any military movements. When asked about the reports that the troops leaving Lithuania would pass through Latvia en route to Pskov Oblast, Latvian Minister of Defense Talavs Jundzis said that without obtaining Latvia's agreement such activities would be a "gross violation of international law." (Saulius Girnius) .-.-.-AND WHAT ABOUT LATVIA? German Bundestag deputies interested in defense issues ended a visit to Latvia on 27-February, Radio Riga reported. After meeting with Latvian leaders, they talked with the commander of the Northwestern Group of Forces. When asked for the withdrawal timetable of the troops (which the Germans estimate to number 170,000) from the Baltic States, Col. Gen. Valerii Mironov would only say the pullout of the 120,000 troops will take about five years. Noting that some troops prefer to stay on account of their families, he added that the problems of housing and infrastructure would have to be solved before they can depart. In a related development, Latvian Premier Ivars Godmanis said that Moscow had agreed that the pullout of troops would be proportional and parallel from each of the Baltic States. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIAN CUSTOMS CONFISCATES PETRO-LEUM FROM THE ARMY. On 25-February Latvian customs officers confiscated 750-tons of petroleum from the ex-Soviet army detachment stationed near Daugavpils. Army officials had tried to divert to a destination outside Latvia the railroad transport bringing the petroleum to the city of Daugavpils. Now Daugavpils is using the badly needed-petro-leum. The customs officers also told BNS on 26-February that the army detachment would be charged a hefty fine for this offense, especially since in the past the unit had also been involved in the il-legal transport of goods outside Latvia. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIA'S BUDGET FOR FIRST HALF OF 1992. After days of heated debate, on 27-February the Latvian Supreme Council adopted a budget of 6.6-billion rubles, according to BNS and Radio Riga. Roughly broken down, 25% of the budget goes for education, 18% for fostering the economy, 27% for culture and social security, and 16% for state administration (including courts), 6% for defense, and 7% for the Internal Affairs Ministry. Special assignations were made to help compensate for the increased cost of heating, the development of Latgale, the easternmost region of Latvia, and the preservation of the Baltic coastal area inhabited by the Livs, a Finno-Ugric minority that has lived there for centuries and is on the verge of extinction. (Dzintra Bungs) LANDSBERGIS IN MONACO. On 27-February Lithuanian Supreme Council Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis spoke at a forum on European security in Monaco, Radio Lithuania reports. He also held talks with Prince Rainier on ecological problems, tourism, and cultural exchanges. On 28-February he will hold talks with NATO representatives and travel to Bonn for meetings with German President Richard von Weizscker and Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher. On 29-February he will speak at a political forum on "Freedom, Equality, Solidarity" in Hamburg before returning to Lithuania in the evening. (Saulius Girnius) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE KOHL, HAVEL SIGN FRIENDSHIP TREATY. On 27-February German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Czechoslovak President Vaclav Havel signed a friendship treaty aimed at putting decades of distrust behind their countries. The treaty acknowledges the Czechoslovak state's continuous existence since 1918, and said the two countries have no territorial claims toward each other, that they will not raise any in the future, and that they will settle all disputes by peaceful means. The treaty provides for expanded bilateral economic cooperation and ensures Germany's support for Czechoslovakia's entry into the European Community, CSTK reports. (Peter Matuska) DIENSTBIER URGES ARMENIA, AZERBAIJAN TO HALT FIGHTING. Chairing a meeting of foreign ministers of the 48-state Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) on the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis, Czechoslovak Foreign Minister Jiri Dienstbier asked the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan to end the fighting and open peace negotiations. The two-day meeting, which opened in Prague on 28-February is considering the findings of a special Czechoslovak-led CSCE team that visited Armenia, Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh earlier in-February. A CSCE spokesman told an RFE correspondent that the fact-finding team was "highly alarmed" at the situation. (Peter Matuska) MOST CZECHS AND SLOVAKS LACK CONFIDENCE IN PARLIAMENT. The percentage of the country's population expressing trust in the Federal Assembly dropped 9% from last November to this-February, bottoming out at 26%, according-to the Prague and Bratislava-based Institute for Public Opinion Research, CSTK reports. The Czechs' trust in the Federal Assembly declined from 37% to 25%, while the Slovaks rate of approval dropped from 31% to 29%. In the Czech Republic, the most pop-ular party is the right-wing Civic Democratic Party (ODS) headed by Finance Minister Vaclav Klaus, which garnered a 22% rating (up 1% from January). In the Slovak republic, 31% (up 4% from January) favor the opposition center-left Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) led by former Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar. (Peter Matuska) OLECHOWSKI: DEFICIT SHOULD BE HALVED. Andrzej Olechowski, Poland's finance minister-designate, told journalists on 27-February that the projected $10 billion budget deficit should be halved. According to PAP, Olechowski said he would prefer to have the entire deficit invested in future economic growth by financing big projects, building up the infrastructure, and setting up credit institutions, thereby regaining public confidence. In the 27-February Sejm debate on the government's economic program, some speakers pointed out that the program does not meet the expectations of the citizenry. The Sejm will vote on the program on the 28th. (Roman Stefanowski) NO GIVEAWAY PRIVATIZATION IN POLAND. Privatization Ministry spokeswoman Jolanta Szaban told a press conference in Warsaw that the ministry had changed its mind about giving citizens free share vouchers, Reuters reported on 27-February. Free shares had been touted as one of the main attraction of the country's mass privatization drive. Szaban said that a survey showed that people tend to appreciate more something for which they have paid, and for this reason the ministry is expected to recommend that shares be sold at 5-20% of their face value. (Roman Stefanowski) LITHUANIAN-POLISH ECONOMIC COOPER-ATION. On 27-February in Warsaw Lithuanian Economics Minister Albertas Simenas and his Polish counterpart Adam Glapinski signed an agreement on economic cooperation. According to PAP the agreement covers a wide field, from construction materials, food processing, finance and banking to tourism and environmental protection. The agreement is particularly intended to foster border region cooperation. (Roman Stefanowski) BUDAPEST AWARDED 1996 WORLD FAIR. On 27-February, the Paris-based International Expositions Office awarded Budapest the right to host the 1996 World Fair. Last fall the Hungarian government abandoned the idea of staging the fair because of the opposition of the Budapest city council, which argued that Hungary could not afford it. Last December, however, the Hungarian parliament decided to proceed, and Budapest subsequently approved scaled-down plans for the event. The Hungarian Economic Chamber welcomed the news, describing the fair as "Hungary's greatest business undertaking, [which] offers an unprecedented opportunity for the development of the Hungarian economy." Foreign Minister Geza Jeszenszky said that holding the fair in Hungary would show the world what can be achieved in post-communist Europe. (Edith Oltay) ROMANIA CLARIFIES POSITION ON HUNGARIAN STATEMENTS. On 26-February Undersecretary of State at the Foreign Ministry Gheorghe Tinca emphasized that the ministry's 21-February statement, responding to earlier statements by Hungarian Defense Minister Laszlo Fur and Secretary of State Geza Entz on the situation of Hungarians abroad, was meant to underscore-the seriousness with which the Romanian side is treating the issue. The Romanians found "peculiar" and "incompatible with international law" Fur's affirmation that the defence of Hungarians everywhere is an inseparable part of Hungarian national security. Furthermore, they found his statement referring to the threat to the Hungarian minority in neighboring countries lacking in any factual basis as far as-Romania is concerned, Rompres reports. (Crisula Stefanescu) BRITISH COMMISSION TO STUDY ROMANIAN PSYCHIATRIC ABUSES. British parliamentarians are setting up a commission to work for the rehabilitation of psychiatry in Romania. The unofficial nonpartisan group, set up following a visit by two legislators, senior psychiatrists, and human rights campaigners to Bucharest who looked into allegations of systematic psychiatric abuse, will monitor and attempt to improve conditions in Romania's psychiatric hospitals. The Romanian government has agreed to a full-scale independent investigation, an RFE correspondent reports. (Crisula Stefanescu) BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT ADOPTS LAW ON BANKS. On 26-February a law defining the status and rules of banks and credit institutions was passed on its final reading in the National Assembly. Speaking on Bulgarian TV the same evening, Bulgarian National Bank director Todor Valchev envisaged major changes in banking within the near future. Valchev said that in its second letter of intent to the IMF, the government promises a consolidation of the banking system that will likely result in a decrease in the number of large banks from over 80 to 10. (Kjell Engelbrekt) REFERENDUM WEEKEND IN THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. On 29-February and 1-March citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina will vote on independence for their multiethnic republic. The referendum takes place at a time of serious political and economic crisis, which many Bosnians fear could lead to civil war. The main issue is finding agreement on the republic's political shape among the three major ethnic groups. Serbs oppose independence, while the Muslims and Croats support it. There has been widespread speculation that the Croats and Serbs have agreed to divide the republic between themselves; Muslims have publicly opposed a number of suggested reorganization plans. Montenegro also holds a referendum on 1-March in which it is expected to approve continued participation with Serbia in a rump Yugoslav federation. Montenegro's government supports this idea, but Muslim and Albanian leaders in the republic do not. Further, residents of the Montenegrin capital Titograd will vote to have the city's name revert to Podgorica as it was called before 1945. (Milan Andrejevich) SERBIA'S PRESIDENT MILOSEVIC SAYS WAR IS NEARLY OVER. In his first address to the Serbian parliament in months, Milosevic declared on 27-February that the impending arrival of UN peace-keeping forces means the war in Croatia will soon be over. Austrian TV said that he also repeated his call for all Serbs to be united in one state, but the BBC reported that such a reference was noticeably absent. Milosevic made his speech on the eve of the referendums in Bosnia and Montenegro, and less than two weeks before a major opposition protest is scheduled to take place in Belgrade. Meanwhile, Croatian media reported cease-fire violations from Dubrovnik to Osijek, which the Serbian-dominated forces shelled for 8-hours. On 26-February, ITAR-TASS said that a joint session of "the parliaments of the Serbian autonomous regions in Croatia" voted in Borovo Selo to replace Milan Babic with Goran Hadzic as "president." (Patrick Moore) As of 1200 CET Compiled by Carla Thorson & Charles Trumbull
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