|Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov|
No. 42, 02 March 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR "NOMENKLATURA PRIVATIZATION" SCANDAL. At a Moscow news conference on 28 February, the head of the Russian Committee on State Property, Anatolii Chubais, promised that the government would act resolutely to combat "nomenklatura privatization," ITAR-TASS and Western agencies reported. Chubais confirmed widespread reports that a "unique joint-stock company" named Kolo, run by 15 officials of the former CPSU Central Committee and with a founding capital of one billion rubles, had tried to acquire state property and land on a huge scale and was currently under investigation. Among those released from their posts allegedly in connection with the Kolo affair were three senior officials of the Russian government, including Chubais' deputy. (Keith Bush) RUSSIAN ARMS EXPORTS. A senior Yeltsin adviser on conversion, Mikhail Malei, told Rossiiskaya gazeta of 28 February that Russia should transform its huge military-industrial complex into an arms-exporting industry. Within 3-4 years, it could be self-supporting. He thereby confirmed earlier statements by Yeltsin and other Russian officials to the effect that Russian arms exports will be encouraged to earn hard currency and to finance conversion. Malei said that nuclear and chemical weapons should not be exported, but suggested that Russia's quota of world uranium sales be raised from 5 to 20%. Malei also proposed that the CIS armed forces buy Russian arms for hard currency at world prices. (Keith Bush) SURPLUS MILITARY AIRCRAFT FOR SALE. The Russian Air Force has been authorized by a presidential decree of 27 February to sell up to 1,600 aircraft that are surplus to requirements, according to Interfax and Russian Television of 29 February. The transactions will be carried out through the Russian Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations. The anticipated profits of up to $9 billion will be spent on housing, infrastructure and on raising air force pay, as well as on financing further aircraft construction during the period 1992-2000. Izvestiya of 28 February reported that Kazakhstan plans to sell military equipment, including SU-24 bombers, on the world market. (Keith Bush) JOINT FORCES FOR AZERBAIJAN. Azeri President Ayaz Mutalibov told a meeting of political and social leaders on 27 February that Baku has agreed to subordinate general purpose forces in the republic to both the Azeri president and to the CIS military command, Interfax reported on 28 February. According to the president's press center, Mutalibov said that the dual subordination would be in effect during an undefined transition period, during which Azerbaijan would continue to create its own armed forces. Azerbaijan had earlier joined Ukraine and Moldova in insisting on the immediate creation of independent national armies but, as a result of worsening tensions with Armenia, appears to have moved toward a military policy closer to that of Belarus. (Stephen Foye) NEW DIPLOMATIC INITIATIVES ON NAGORNO-KARABAKH . . . Azerbaijani Prime Minister Hasan Hasanov told visiting Turkish Foreign Minister Hikmet Cetin on 28 February that Azerbaijan favors a four-way conference with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, and Turkey to discuss solutions to the Karabakh conflict, Western agencies reported. Hasanov was, however, reluctant to agree to the involvement of Russia or France in peace negotiations. On 1 March Turkish Prime Minister Suleiman Demirel issued a statement calling for an end to the fighting. At a press conference in Erevan on 28 February Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati expressed optimism that a solution could be found to the conflict. On 28 February CSCE member states called for an immediate cease-fire in Nagorno-Karabakh plus an embargo on arms sales. (Liz Fuller) . . . BUT FIGHTING CONTINUES. On 29 February Armenian forces for the first time extended operations beyond the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, killing two people in an artillery attack on the town of Agdam. Azerbaijani President Ayaz Mutalibov declared a three-day period of mourning for those killed in the Armenian offensive against Khodzhaly; Azerbaijani refugees from the town have told Western journalists hundreds of people were killed, mutilated, or are missing. On February 28 CIS Commander Evgenii Shaposhnikov sent a telegram to the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia calling on them to expedite the return of stolen weapons and equipment, ITAR-TASS reported. On 1 March Western agencies reported that CIS military convoys were converging on Stepanakert, apparently to organize the withdrawal of troops from the region. (Liz Fuller) URAZHTSEV VOTED OUT? A plenum of the coordinating council of the Russian military union "Shield" ("Shchit") has rendered a vote of no confidence in its chairman, Vitalii Urazhtsev, and removed him from his post, RFE/RL reported on 1 March. Plenum members accused Urazhtsev of acting in an authoritarian manner and making irresponsible statements to the press. The council reportedly voted to appoint Colonel Sergei Kudinov as interim chairman until the next union congress, scheduled for April. (Stephen Foye) SAMSONOV ENDS CHINA VISIT. CIS General Staff Chief Viktor Samsonov completed a six-day visit to China on 2 March, ITAR-TASS reported. Samsonov met with Jiang Zemin, chairman of China's Central Military Council, and other top military officials during his visit. In addition to discussing further military reductions along the CIS-China border, Moscow reportedly agreed to sell 24 SU-27 "Flanker" combat aircraft to China this year. Samsonov flew from Beijing to North Korea. (Stephen Foye) SHAPOSHNIKOV TO VISIT TURKEY. The Anatolian News Agency Shaposhnikov will visit Ankara sometime after April. It had originally been announced that the visit would take place on 10 March, but the scheduling apparently had to be changed. He is slated to meet with the Turkish General Staff chief. Although the announcement did not specify the focus of the talks, it seems likely that they will include discussions on the Armenian dispute with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh. (Stephen Foye) RUSSIA COULD SEND TROOPS TO YUGOSLAVIA. Russia would participate in the UN peacekeeping force to be deployed in Yugoslavia once the relevant agreement was signed between the Russian government and UN authorities, according to a Russian Information Agency report of 27 February. (Doug Clarke) ADMIRAL DENIES NUCLEAR DUMPING. A deputy commander of CIS naval forces, Admiral Vitalii Zaitsev, on 29 February denied earlier reports that the Soviet navy had dumped nuclear waste in arctic waters for more than twenty years. Zaitsev did admit, however, that low-level waste has been buried under the sea until 1985 around the archipelago of Novaya zemlya. He claimed that the navy's actions had not harmed the environment. (Stephen Foye) YELTSIN MOVES AWAY FROM MULTI-PARTY SYSTEM? The "New Russia" coalition in the Russian parliament has accused President Yeltsin of moving away from the idea of a multi-party system, RFE/RL reported on 28 February. Speaking at a Moscow press conference that day, representatives of the coalition put the blame on Yeltsin's staff. They said that his staff was "littered" with former Communist Party officials who opposed reform. The coalition leaders asked for a meeting with Yeltsin to present their own views on reforms and the political situation in Russia. (Vera Tolz) GORBACHEV IN COURT? Mikhail Gorbachev told the German newspaper Bild on 29 February that he was prepared to defend his record in court but refused to be a "scapegoat." Recently the Russian Federation Procurator's Office said that Gorbachev and other former top Party officials may be put on trial on charges of involvement in the CPSU's illegal financial operations. In the interview, Gorbachev also said he had no plans to leave Russia and that he would help the Russian government to carry out its reform program. The former USSR president reiterated that he was not planning to found a political party. (Vera Tolz) STATE-FUNDED MEDICAL SERVICES TO BE CUT? State-funded medical services for the Russian population are to be cut "substantially," according to Nezavisimaya gazeta of 27 February. The reason given is that the 19 billion rubles allocated to the government health service at the beginning of 1992 are not enough to implement even the most essential medical programs and the promised 10% of hard-currency receipts for medical supplies has not materialized. The Russian Health Ministry is said to have asked President Yeltsin to authorize the introduction of medical insurance in some areas even before the law "On Medical Insurance for Citizens of the RSFSR" comes into force on 1 January 1993. It is reported that 35% of Russia's population already has paid medical care. (Keith Bush) MOLDOVA PROTESTS PRESENCE OF COSSACKS IN DNIESTER REPUBLIC. The Moldovan Foreign Ministry has sent a note to the Russian Foreign Ministry protesting the presence in the self-styled "Dniester Republic" of Russian Cossacks, Radio Rossii reported on 25 February. The Cossacks had been welcomed with open arms and offered various benefits. The Moldovan press has published a plan for the development of a Cossack community in the "Dniester Republic," Radio Rossii reported on 27 February. This includes a Cossack bank, ecologically-sound farming, and several schools in Bendery to train young people to defend the frontiers of the "Dniester Republic." (Ann Sheehy) RUSSIA ESTABLISHES TIES WITH SOUTH AFRICA. On 28 February, Russia and South Africa established diplomatic relations, Western and Russian agencies reported. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev was in Pretoria to sign an agreement on the exchange of ambassadors. This step marked a continuation of the USSR's warming to South Africa which culminated in the establishment of consular ties in November 1991. (Suzanne Crow) MAFIA USES PRIVATE DETECTIVES AS FRONT. Mafia-linked racketeers are attempting to legitimize their activities under the cover of private detective agencies, Radio Rossii reported on 26 February. The racketeers are now registering themselves as private detective agencies. The other category of private detectives are former MVD officers, who operate like the racketeers but enjoy protection from their colleagues on active duty. The third category consists of former KGB officers, who are employed by big commercial concerns, banks and private security services. They are mainly dealing with the collection or protection of commercial secrets.(Victor Yasmann) KRAVCHUK WANTS EQUALITY WITH RUSSIA. In a recent interview in Argumenty i fakty, Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk said that political and economic stability in Russia and Ukraine are essential for both countries, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 February. The Ukrainian leader maintains that the point of departure is the independence of both countries and that neither is a part of the other. (Roman Solchanyk) KRAVCHUK TO VISIT WASHINGTON. Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk will visit Washington and meet with President Bush on 6 May, Ukrinform-TASS and Western agencies reported on 27 February. The invitation was extended during a telephone call from the American president to his Ukrainian counterpart on 27 February in the course of which the two leaders also discussed political and economic issues in Ukraine and the CIS. (Roman Solchanyk) RUSSIA-UKRAINE ACCORD ON CURRENCY. Russian and Ukrainian parliamentarians reached preliminary agreement on 28 February on various monetary problems, ITAR-TASS reported. The agreement provided for Ukraine to return ruble notes to Russia after these have been replaced by the new Ukrainian currency, the Grivna. The accord, which also sets out mechanisms for trade and payments, requires formal approval by the respective legislatures and acceptance by the two governments. At the same meeting, according to Ukrinform-TASS, there arose a dispute over the sharing out of the gold, diamond, and foreign-currency reserves of the former Soviet Union and its property abroad. (Keith Bush) CONFEDERATION OF MOUNTAIN PEOPLES REJECTS DRAFT RUSSIAN CONSTITUTION. Yusup Soslambekov, chairman of the parliament of the confederation of 14 mountain peoples, said after a meeting of the parliament in Groznyi on 27 February that, if the draft Russian constitution was adopted as it stood, then the peoples entering into the confederation would declare general elections and create an independent confederative state from the Caspian to the Black Sea, Radio Rossii reported on 28 February. The provisions of the draft constitution vis-a-vis the national-state structure of the Russian Federation are unacceptable to virtually all the republics. (Ann Sheehy) DAGESTAN SUPREME SOVIET DEBATES LAW ON FIREARMS. A draft law on the right to acquire and carry firearms aroused the most interest at the recent session of the Dagestan Supreme Soviet, "Vesti" reported on 28 February. Some argued in favor of the law on the grounds that the law enforcement agencies were unable to defend the population. Others said it would increase the crime rate. The law is being submitted to public discussion. At the same time inhabitants of Stavropol krai have appealed to the head of the local administration Evgenii Kuznetsov for "the management link of agricultural production" to be allowed to carry pistols, Radio Rossii reported on 29 February. Raids on farms, particularly those adjacent to the North Caucasian republics, to steal livestock, have resulted in loss of life. (Ann Sheehy) EASTERN EUROPE BALTIC STATES LANDSBERGIS IN GERMANY. After talks with NATO officials in Monaco on 28 February Chairman of the Lithuanian Supreme Council Vytautas Landsbergis flew to Bonn, Radio Lithuania reports. He attended a luncheon with German President Richard von Weizsäcker, who said that while Lithuania will have to solve most of its problems by itself, it could count on Germany's assistance. Landsbergis also met Foreign Minister Genscher, who urged the Baltic States to participate in the Baltic Sea States Conference in Copenhagen on 5-6 March. Later that evening Landsbergis spoke in Hamburg, where he identified the withdrawal of CIS troops and reducing dependence on fuel from the CIS as key issues for Lithuania. (Saulius Girnius) LITHUANIA-GERMANY SIGN INVESTMENT PROTECTION PACT. On 28 February Foreign Minister Genscher and Vytenis Aleskaitis, Lithuanian Minister of International Economic Relations, signed an investment protection agreement, an RFE/RL correspondent reports. By protecting investors against arbitrary actions, the agreement should help spur German investment in Lithuania and will facilitate German government credits. (Saulius Girnius) LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT CONCLUDES SESSION. On 28 February the Lithuanian Supreme Council concluded its fourth session and will begin its fifth session on 11 March. Most of the proceedings of the final week were broadcast live by Radio Lithuania. The state budget was approved on 27 February, but the following day, because of a lack a quorum, the parliament failed to set a date for a referendum on the powers of the Lithuanian president. (Saulius Girnius) ESTONIAN-EC TRADE ACCORD. On 27 February representatives of the European Community and Estonia initialed a trade and cooperation agreement that will serve to build closer trade, economic, and financial relations between the two signatories. Similar accords were signed with Lithuania on 31 January and Latvia on 4 February, Western agencies report. (Dzintra Bungs) BALTS ASKED TO MEDIATE IN NAGORNO-KARABAKH CONFLICT. BNS reported on 28 February that Farhad Geidarli, official representative of the National Council of the Republic of Azerbaijan, has requested the Baltic Council to mediate in the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute. Geidarli said that while Iran had also expressed readiness to mediate, he felt that Azerbaijan could trust the Baltic States more. Latvian Supreme Council Chairman Anatolijs Gorbunovs replied that this a very important request that must be carefully considered. The two leaders also discussed ways of expanding trade opportunities for their countries. Geidarli expressed thanks for Latvia's support for the Azeri minority living in Latvia. (Dzintra Bungs) DISINTEGRATING CHEMICAL WEAPONS IN THE BALTIC SEA? Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Petr Barbolya, spokesman for the International Committee for Peace, Disarmament and Ecological Security in Seas and Oceans, warns that chemical weapons dumped in shallow water in the Baltic Sea after World War II pose a grave ecological danger. If the casings become depressurized, some 50-100,000 tons of toxic gases may leak into the water. German and Russian experts are to examine the situation soon, Western agencies reported on 29 February. According to Diena of 28 February, Latvian environmentalists are worried that containers with 300,000 tons of toxic chemicals dumped by the USSR off the coast of Ventspils in 1945-57 could start to leak at any time. They urged that the topic be discussed with Russia at the upcoming meeting on troop withdrawals from Latvia. (Dzintra Bungs) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN PLEBISCITE VOTES FOR "SOVEREIGNTY AND INDEPENDENCE." On 29 February and 1 March over 60% of the electorate in Bosnia-Herzegovina turned out for an apparently overwhelming "yes" vote. The Serbian population--one-third of the ethnically mixed republic--boycotted the poll, and their leaders say they want to "remain in Yugoslavia." Several incidents and at least two deaths were reported over the weekend by the international media, but voting generally went smoothly. On 2 March the BBC said that Serbs had set up 14 barricades to cut off the capital, Sarajevo, from neighboring areas. Other Western media reported Muslim and Croatian barricades as well. Tension is high in Sarajevo with intermittent sniper fire and little traffic on the streets. (Patrick Moore) WHAT WILL BOSNIAN INDEPENDENCE MEAN? After the referendum, which was supervised by European monitors, Bosnia's foreign minister called for international recognition. German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher told Welt am Sonntag on 1 March that the ultimate path to peace in the Balkans lies through incorporating the individual republics into existing European structures. A special problem in Bosnia is the strong presence of the ex-Yugoslav army. Much of the army's equipment is made in that republic, but the Muslim and Croatian majority regard the federal military as a Serbian and Montenegrin occupation force. Politika on 29 February said that the last Slovenian, Croatian, and Macedonian generals in the federal army were replaced with Serbs the previous week. (Patrick Moore) MONTENEGRO VOTES TO STAY IN YUGOSLAV FEDERATION. On 1 March Radio Serbia reported that the majority of voters in Montenegro appear to have approved the republic's continued participation with Serbia in a federal Yugoslav state. Early estimates say that more than 75% of the 215,000 ballots cast support association in a Yugoslav state. There are 410,000 eligible voters in Montenegro. The republic's Muslims and Albanians, who constitute nearly 25% of population and generally favor Montenegro's independence, have largely boycotted the referendum. (Milan Andrejevich) ALBANIANS IN SERBIA VOTE ON AUTONOMY. On 1 March a referendum on territorial and political autonomy began in three municipalities in southern Serbia with predominantly Albanian population. Radio Serbia reported that the two-day referendum is expected to draw most of the 45,000 eligible voters in Presevo, Bujanovac, and Medvedja. The radio reported no incidents at the 70 polling places. The region, located along Serbia's border with Kosovo, is populated by some 100,000 Albanians, roughly 70% of the total population of the three municipalities. (Milan Andrejevich) ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT ON CROATIAN EXTREMIST LEADER? Western news agencies said on 1 March that eight people were wounded in Vinkovci when a bomb went off at the headquarters of the far-right Croatian Party of (Historic) Rights. National party leader Dobroslav Paraga and his deputy were scheduled to be in the building at the time but were unexpectedly delayed. Paraga is a highly controversial figure, regarded as a neofascist by many but admired by others for organizing a highly effective paramilitary force. There has been no official report on who planted the bomb or what the motive may have been. (Patrick Moore) WALESA ENDORSES ECONOMIC PLAN. Answering questions on 1 March on the BBC, Polish President Lech Walesa said that Poland has no alternative but to continue its market reforms even though they may bring recession, high unemployment, and deteriorating living conditions, Polish and Western media report. While previously Walesa had distanced himself from the government economic plan, now under study by Sejm committees, he appeared now to endorse it as a necessary course correction and "not a slowdown of reform." Walesa also touched upon such issues as the role of the Church in Poland, EC membership, parliamentary procedures, strikes, changes in Polish mentality as a result of the recent transformations, corruption, anti-Semitism, and the role of the press. (Roman Stefanowski) OLSZEWSKI RECEIVES WORLD BANK OFFICIAL. On 28 February Polish Prime Minister Jan Olszewski received Ian Hume, the World Bank's representative in Warsaw, Polish and Western media reported. A government communiqué issued after the meeting said Hume expressed satisfaction with the government economic plan. The plan has been criticized in the Sejm for being inflationary, but Andrzej Olechowski, now confirmed as finance minister, insisted that the reform plan will not cause a return to hyper-inflation and that there is no reason to expect a further major devaluation of the zloty. Olszewski has also called on the IMF to permit Poland greater latitude during the period of transformation from planned economy to free market. Olszewski said that the IMF's strict criteria, adherence to which are conditional for further help, are proving less relevant and sometimes even counterproductive. (Roman Stefanowski) HAVEL WORRIED ABOUT CZECHOSLOVAKIA'S FUTURE. In his regular Sunday radio address, President Vaclav Havel said lack of agreement on national priorities could bring about a "severe constitutional crisis." He was referring on the ongoing power struggle in both republics and the disputes between Czechs and Slovaks over the future constitutional structure of the federation. Czech leaders favor closer links between the two nations, while Slovak politicians advocate a confederative arrangement, or outright independence. Havel repeated his resolve to run again for president, saying he could not "bail out of a ship that is sailing through a dangerous storm." (Peter Matuska) CARNOGURSKY: SLOVAK REPUBLIC WANTS INTERNATIONAL STATUS. In an interview published in Figaro on 28 February, Slovak Prime Minister Jan Carnogursky said he wants Slovakia to have the same international status as the former Soviet republics and to have its own seat in the European Community. He added, however, that he would accept foreign affairs and defense ministries and a national bank shared with the Czech lands. Carnogursky said he is seeking a political solution through legal means. (Peter Matuska) HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENTARY GROUPS REAFFIRM SUPPORT FOR COALITION. In a joint statement on 28 February the parliamentary leaders of Hungary's three ruling coalition parties declared that "the survival of the coalition is a historical necessity," MTI reported. The statement warned that "attempts to deny the existence and necessity of the coalition through demagoguery and slander . . . endanger the country's development, and willy-nilly serve the interests of those who favor a return to dictatorship." The national presidium of the Independent Smallholders' Party recently quit the coalition but the government retains a comfortable majority in parliament because 33 of the 45 Smallholders deputies continue to support it. (Edith Oltay) HUNGARIANS, AUSTRIANS VISIT ROMANIA. A Hungarian military delegation, headed by Lt. Gen. Annus Antal, Secretary of State at the Defence Ministry, visited Romania on 29 February and 1 March to attend an "Open Skies" symposium, Rompres reports. Hungarian Defense Minister Lajos Fur, who was to have led the delegation, was reportedly ill and could not make the visit. Also on an official visit in Bucharest on 28-29 February was Austrian Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Alois Mock. His agenda included talks with President Iliescu, Premier Stolojan and Foreign Minister Nastase. Rompres said the Austrian leader pledged continuing support for reform in Romania and proposed a bilateral agreement to control the flow of illegal immigrants. Mock visited the Children's Village in Bucharest, traveled to Cisnadie, and attended the opening of the Austrian library at Timisoara University. (Crisula Stefanescu) ADDITIONAL RESULTS OF ROMANIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS RELEASED. The ruling National Salvation Front (NSF) won about 38% of the votes cast in second-round balloting for mayoral races on 23 February, and the opposition Democratic Convention (DC) finished a strong second with about 30% of the votes, Rompres reports, quoting the Central Election Commission. The DC defeated the NSF in Bucharest and other major cities, while the NSF held on to its power in rural parts of the country. Second-round voting was held on 1 March and another round will take place on 8 March in districts where no candidate has yet received more than 50% of the vote. (Crisula Stefanescu)
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