|A host is like general: calamities often reveal his genius. - Horace|
No. 43, 03 March 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR GROMOV TO SUPERVISE TROOP WITHDRAWAL FROM NAGORNO-KARABAKH. Some 300 CIS airborne troops were sent to Nagorno-Karabakh on 2 March to protect the 366th Motorized Infantry Regiment as it began withdrawing from Stepanakert, Western agencies reported. Russian TV reported that General Boris Gromov would supervise the withdrawal, which is to be completed by tonight. Komsomol'skaya pravda of 3 March reported that Armenian civilians attempted to prevent the troop withdrawal. Armenian president Levon Ter-Petrossyan expressed concern that the removal of troops, whom he termed "a stabilizing factor," would exacerbate tensions. Western journalists have reported that dozens of Azerbaijanis were killed in the Armenian attack last week on Khodzhaly. Azerbaijani President Mutalibov is being subjected to increasing domestic criticism for failing to halt the Armenian attacks. (Liz Fuller) "DNIESTER" FORCES SEIZE DUBASARI POLICE HEADQUARTERS. The "Dniester Republic Guard" and Russian Cossacks stormed the Moldovan police headquarters in the town of Dubasari on the left bank of the Dniester during the night of 1-2 March. The attackers lost at least two killed and two wounded in the initial phase of the fighting, before the police--who are under standing orders to avoid bloodshed at almost any cost--surrendered and were disarmed. According to preliminary reports in the Moldovan media on 2 March, 34 policemen were taken prisoner. The "Dniester" forces had besieged the Dubasari police headquarters in September and December 1991 but had failed to seize it on those occasions as police reinforcements and groups of Moldovan peasants from neighboring villages had rushed to help. (Vladimir Socor) "DNIESTER" FORCES MASS ON LEFT BANK. "Dniester Guard" units, some with armored vehicles, and Cossack fighters have been deployed on bridges across the Dniester and on roads on the left bank, effectively isolating it from the right bank, Moldovan and Russian media reported on 2 March. Armed, staffed, and trained by local military garrisons, the "Dniester" forces enjoy a clear military and logistical superiority over the Moldovan police. In a statement radiotelevised in Chisinau on 2 March, Prime Minister Valeriu Muravschi accused the "Dniester" leaders and "the imperial forces supporting them" of staging a major provocation. (Vladimir Socor) RUKH CALLS FOR UKRAINE TO LEAVE CIS. On March 2, the last day of a three-day congress of the Rukh Ukrainian independence movement, delegates voted in favor of a motion calling for Ukraine to leave the CIS, Western agencies reported. Reuter said the wording of the motion was later redrafted by Rukh leaders to say that Ukraine should leave the CIS if Ukraine's interests were not fully secured. Delegates also called for presidential rule to be imposed in the Crimea. The resolution said that the Crimean parliament had overstepped its authority in removing from its draft constitution any reference to Crimea being part of Ukraine. The congress, which was called to decide the future of the movement, decided that it should remain in opposition. Rukh's charter was changed to say that its main goal is to consolidate the independence of Ukraine and build a democratic republic. (Ann Sheehy) SPLIT IN RUKH NARROWLY AVERTED. Rukh narrowly averted a split on 29 February when the incumbent chairman Ivan Drach and another leader Mikhailo Horyn together with their supporters walked out because of disagreements with the more radical Vladimir Chornovil over future strategy and the movement's attitude towards Ukrainian president Leonid Kravchuk. Chornovil wanted Rukh to stay in opposition, while Drach and Horyn wanted to support Kravchuk. After two hours of backstage talks, a compromise was reached and all three men were elected co-chairmen of the movement. (Ann Sheehy) YELTSIN DECREE ON GERMAN REGIONS ON VOLGA. Yeltsin signed a decree on 2 March "On urgent measures for the rehabilitation of the Russian Germans," ITAR-TASS reported. The decree provides for a stage by stage restoration of Russian German statehood in the Russian Federation. The first step is to be the creation of a German National Okrug in Volgograd oblast and of a German National Raion in Saratov oblast. The former Volga-German ASSR was situated on the territory of these two oblasts. Sergei Shakhrai, a legal adviser to Yeltsin, said on "Novosti" that the inhabitants of 23 sovkhozes in Saratov oblast where the national raion will be created had expressed their agreement. Opposition to the restoration of German autonomy has been particularly strong in Saratov oblast. It remains to be seen whether this move will stem German emigration from Russia. (Ann Sheehy) NEW APPOINTMENTS IN RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT. Russian President Boris Yeltsin has promoted finance minister Egor Gaidar to the rank of First Deputy Premier, ITAR-TASS reported on 2 March. The Russian government will now be supervised by two first deputy premiers--Gaidar, who will be in charge of the economy, and Gennadii Burbulis who will concentrate on foreign policy. Yeltsin also appointed Valerii Makharadze Deputy Premier in charge of operational questions concerning the government. Makharadze's former post of chief of the Control Directorate of the Administration of the President (the institution which controls presidential envoys in the regions) went to the young St. Petersburg deputy, Yurii Boldyrev. (Alexander Rahr) DRAFT YELTSIN PROGRAM DISCLOSED. Ahead of the formal unveiling of the Yeltsin economic reform program scheduled for sometime this week, Izvestiya of 29 February has disclosed some of its key provisions. By 1 April, only 5% of the population's monetary incomes will be spent on goods and services at regulated prices. The wholesale prices for energy-carriers will reach world market levels by the end of 1993. By 20 April, there will be two exchange rates for the ruble: a single floating rate for day-to-day transactions, and a separate permanent exchange rate for the movement of capital. All export quotas and export licences will be abolished by 1 July, except for fuel exports and security-related items. (Keith Bush) NEW UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS. The program envisages the replacement of the existing unemployment allowance, which is based on the average wage, by two categories of benefit. The "enhanced allowance" will be paid to those who have lost their jobs as a result of the closure or major reorganization of their enterprise; it will consist of not more than 90% of the previous average wage. The "ordinary allowance" will not exceed 75% of the minimum wage. (Keith Bush) RUSSIAN PAY RAISE. Russian President Boris Yeltsin has decreed a 45% increase in the wages of workers and employees at state-financed enterprises, Moscow Radio-1 reported on 29 February. The raise was to take effect on March 1. It did not apply to those whose wages were already increased in January. (Keith Bush) YELTSIN VISITS ARZAMAS-16. On 28 February Boris Yeltsin visited the closed city of Arzamas-16, a formerly secret nuclear weapons production center that lies approximately 250 miles east of Moscow. According to Western agencies and a Russian television broadcast later that day, Yeltsin promised scientists at the center higher wages and increased benefits. He also announced a decree that will transform Arzamas-16 and similar facilities at Chelyabinsk-70 into Russian centers for nuclear research. Yeltsin told reporters that he had met with a large group of nuclear scientists on 21 January to examine problems connected with nuclear arms production, destruction, conversion, and living conditions for specialists in the nuclear weapons industry. (Stephen Foye) CALM RESTORED AT BAIKONUR. According to Reuter, the Dana-Press agency reported on 28 February that government officials have agreed to improve living conditions for servicemen at the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan. A commission reportedly created to investigate the causes of the 23-25 February rampage at the center that left three dead (see Daily Report, 27 February) also dismissed seven officers for the "unhealthy moral and psychological climate" in the construction battalion that staged the revolt. A Postfactum report of 28 February said that the violence would not affect the launching of a Soviet-German space flight scheduled for 17 March. (Stephen Foye) KHASBULATOV CRITICIZES RUSSIAN MEDIA. On 2 March "Vesti" quoted the chairman of the Russian parliament, Ruslan Khasbulatov, as reiterating his criticism of the Russian media. Khasbulatov reportedly accused the media of deliberately downplaying the importance of the 27 February meeting of heads of the CIS parliaments. Previously, Khasbulatov had accused the Russian media of "being at war" with the Russian political leadership. (Vera Tolz) ZHIRINOVSKY A "JEWISH ACTIVIST"? The anti-Semitic leader of the right-wing Liberal Democratic Party, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, was active as late as 1988 in Jewish movements, according to Zhizn, No. 7, 1992 (the supplement to Izvestiya). The article claims that Zhirinovsky tried to promote himself in "Vaad," the coordinating council of Soviet Jewish organizations. It also reports that Zhirinovsky graduated from the Institute of Oriental Languages, an institution reputed to have had close connections with the KGB. The article does not present any evidence of direct ties between the extremist leader and the KGB. (Viktor Yasmann) RUSSIA BLASTS LOZORAITIS. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vitalii Churkin said on 2 March that "the Kaliningrad oblast is and will remain a part of the Russian Federation and that its status enjoys the reliable support of international law." Churkin criticized statements by Lithuanian Ambassador to he United States Stasys Lozoraitis to the effect that Kaliningrad could some day become part of Lithuania so as to prevent the restoration of a Berlin-Moscow axis. Churkin said such a statement from a Lithuanian official was provocative and "completely unacceptable." He also called for an official explanation from Lithuania, ITAR-TASS reported. (Suzanne Crow) CHURKIN ON KOZYREV TOUR. Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Vitalii Churkin said on 2 March that Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev's recent trip to Angola, South Africa, and Egypt "demonstrated Russia's continuing interest in strengthening and developing its ties with the countries of the African continent," ITAR-TASS reported. (Suzanne Crow) EIGHT JOIN UN. Azerbaijan, Armenia, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Turmenistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan were accepted as members of the UN on 2 March, ITAR-TASS reported. (Suzanne Crow) KAZAKHSTAN WANTS TO JOIN EC. Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbaev has told European External Relations Commissioner Frans Andriessen that Kazakhstan wants to be a full member of the European Community, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported on 2 March. Nazarbaev made the statement to Andriessen in Alma-Ata during Andriessen's recent visit to four former Soviet republics to discuss their future relationship to the EC. When Andriessen pointed out that the Treaty of Rome restricts Community membership to European states, Nazarbaev wanted to know how this problem could be overcome, and warned that if Europe won't accept Kazakhstan, it will have to join an Arab or Asian association. (Bess Brown) KAZAKHSTAN'S FOREIGN CONTACTS. The transportation ministers of Kazakhstan and Iran have signed a transport agreement, the Iranian press agency IRNA reported on 1 March. This is said to call for the continuous shipment of goods between Caspian seaports, the creation of a joint transport committee at the ministerial level, and the setting up of an air link between Tehran and Alma-Ata. On 29 February the Frontier Post of Peshawar contained an interview with Pakistani parliamentarian and former ambassador Mian Abdul Wahid, who said that Kazakhstan, which he had recently visited, was ready to assist Pakistan in the field of nuclear technology, provided it is for peaceful purposes. (Bess Brown) ANOTHER SACRED COW BITES THE DUST. Throughout the Soviet period, Soviet newspapers prided themselves on their attention to workers' letters, touting this as a form of popular democracy. Sceptics saw letter-writing as more a substitute for democracy than the real thing. However, Izvestiya informed its readers on 2 January that it was slashing the staff of its letters department and would no longer acknowledge letters nor, as in the past newspapers were legally obliged to do, forward them to government bodies. Supporting the idea that letters were a substitute for popular participation and that the population is turning to other forms of political activity, Izvestiya said the number of letters it received dropped from 300,000 in 1989, 200,000 in 1990, to 110,000 in 1991. Attention was paid to letters, Izvestiya said, "to create the impression of caring about the workers." (Elizabeth Teague) RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH CHARITY ACTIVITIES. On 19 February, Vechernyaya Moskva published an interview with Sergei, the archbishop of Solnechnogorsk, who is the chairman of the Department for Charity and Social Services of the Moscow Patriarchate. Archbishop Sergei discussed the various forms of charity which Orthodox brotherhoods are engaged in and the new brotherhood of the "Righteous Elisaveta Fedorovna" of which he is the honorary chairman. Talking about the activities of the brotherhoods, the archbishop stressed that most of the support for these activities comes from the West while Russian businessmen hardly react to Church appeals for help. (Oxana Antic) EASTERN EUROPE BALTIC STATES SOVIET TROOP WITHDRAWAL BEGINS. On 2 March Col. Gen. Valerii Mironov, commander of the Northwestern Group of Forces, talked with Lithuanian National Defense Minister Audrius Butkevicius in Vilnius on former Soviet troop withdrawals, Radio Lithuania reports. The air defense battalion unit from Mickunai, escorted by Lithuanian defense ministry and police officials, departed from Vilnius at 10:45 a.m. on 3 March for the Latvian border, where they will be met by Latvian officials. The Lithuanian ministry also received a list of other military units scheduled to be withdrawn from Lithuania in March. The list does not include the Vilnius 107th division, whose withdrawal Lithuania has particularly requested. (Saulius Girnius) MORE TROOPS ARRIVE IN LATVIA. BNS reports that despite the start of talks in Moscow on 3 March between experts on the withdrawal of troops of the former USSR from Latvia, more soldiers have been arriving in Latvia recently. Last week about 270 "paratroopers" from Lithuania were transferred to Adazi, a base near Riga. In addition, about 500 new recruits have arrived in Liepaja; about 100 other new recruits in civilian clothes arrived in Zakumuiza, on the outskirts of Riga. The dislocation of additional troops and the sending of recruits to Latvia violate the accords that were reached between the Latvian and Russian officials in February. (Dzintra Bungs) FORMER USSR TROOPS READY TO "PROTECT THEIR PROPERTY." The Officers' Council of the Northwestern Group of Forces asked the president and government of Russia to draw up a program to safeguard the welfare of soldiers and officers, Radio Rossiya and BNS reported on 2 March. The group also expressed readiness to protect with arms, if necessary, the property in the Baltic States that they believe belongs to the armed forces, the former Soviet border guards, and the Russian Federation against anyone who attempts to take it until such a time that an agreement is reached between Russia and the Baltic States. Lt. Gen. Fedor Melnichuk said that the troop pullout from the Baltics will take 6-7 years and new recruits will have to be sent in because "an army cannot consist only of officers." (Dzintra Bungs) LITHUANIA TO DEMAND APOLOGY. Egidijus Bickauskas, Lithuanian representative to Russia, was called to the Russian Foreign Ministry at 8:00 p.m. on 28 February, where he was read complaints about Lithuania demanding that the former Soviet troops abandon their bases and leave behind all their equipment, Radio Lithuania reports. The ministry later acknowledged that the charges were without substance, but provided no apology to the Lithuanians. Bickauskas said that he would file a formal protest. (Saulius Girnius) BORDER TROOPS UNDER RUSSIAN SUPERVISION. At a press briefing on 2 March Lithuanian parliament spokesman Audrius Azubalis disputed charges by the Russian Foreign Ministry on 25 February that Lithuania is illegally taking over border posts, Radio Lithuania reports. Azubalis made it clear that as an independent state Lithuania has the right to control its borders, and the presence of Soviet officers is a violation of the republic's sovereignty. The Russian note, however, made it clear that the border forces were under the direct control of Russia and not the CIS as Lithuania had earlier believed. (Saulius Girnius) NORDIC INVESTMENT PROGRAM FOR THE BALTIC STATES. Following a meeting of the prime ministers of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden in Helsinki, Finnish Prime Minister Esko Aho told the press on 2 March that the Nordic countries have agreed to invest 100 million ecus (about $125 million) in the Baltic States in order to promote small and medium-sized business enterprises there. Both the Nordic Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development would be involved in the program. In addition, funds to help establish national investment banks and promote ties between Nordic and Baltic enterprises are to be set up, Reuters reported on 2 March. (Dzintra Bungs) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE TENSIONS EASE IN SARAJEVO. Western media report on 3 March that barricades, put up mainly by Serbs, began coming down late on 2 March after an agreement was struck between the Bosnian government and the Serbian minority. The federal army backed the government and criticized the Serbs for putting up the roadblocks. The tensions had grown out of the weekend referendum for independence and as a result of the killing of a Serb on 1 March, when a Serbian wedding party flying the Serbian flag drove through a Muslim neighborhood. Several deaths and injuries were reported on 2 March when Serbs on the barricades or positioned elsewhere as snipers fired into crowds of mainly young peace demonstrators. The protesters eventually carried the day, however, and public transportation began moving again. (Patrick Moore) IMF'S TENTATIVE SUPPORT FOR POLAND. In a letter to Lech Walesa released by the presidential press office on 2 March, the managing director of the IMF, Michel Camdessus, declared his "unchanged support for the Polish program of quick and solid economic improvement and the readiness of the fund to support a stronger policy of structural changes leading to increased economic growth." According to Polish and Western media, however, Camdessus also warned the Polish leadership that the country's economic success--and a positive assessment by international financiers--will depend on the budgetary decisions now being made. He urged the lawmakers to stimulate the economy, hold down spending, and restrain inflation. (Roman Stefanowski) EBRD OPENS WARSAW BRANCH. On 2 March the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development opened its first East European branch. Others in Budapest, Moscow, Prague, Sofia and Bucharest will soon follow, Polish and Western media report. Before arriving in Warsaw, on 28 February Attali held talks with Czechoslovak Finance Minister Vaclav Klaus. The two men discussed the country's economic situation and the bank's part in financing the completion of the nuclear power plant at Mochovce, Slovakia. They also discussed a project for financing the development of telecommunications in Czechoslovakia. Attali's visit in Eastern Europe was made in connection with preparations for the first conference of the EBRD set for 13-14 April in Budapest. The EBRD was set up in May 1990 with a $12 billion dollar capital to help former communist countries develop market economies. (Roman Stefanowski & Peter Matuska) POLAND, BELARUS ESTABLISH DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS. In Warsaw on 2 March Polish Foreign Minister Krzysztof Skubiszewski and his Belarus counterpart Petr Krauchenka signed an agreement on diplomatic and consular relations. According to PAP, Skubiszewski presented Krauchenka with a draft of a full treaty the two countries plan to sign shortly. Krauchenka was received by Prime Minister Olszewski with whom he has discussed economic issues, particularly transit facilities and access to Poland's Baltic ports, and by President Walesa, who invited Belarus President Stanislau Shushkevich to visit Poland. (Roman Stefanowski) CZECHOSLOVAK PROSECUTOR GENERAL DISMISSED. On 2 March President Vaclav Havel dismissed Ivan Gasparovic, the country's prosecutor general, who has been accused by parliamentarians of failing to prosecute senior officers of the disbanded StB secret police, Western media report. Presidential spokesman Michael Zantovsky said the move follows a letter to Havel from deputies from several right-wing and centrist parties. Havel named Martin Lauko, the Slovak republic's first deputy prosecutor general, to replace Gasparovic. Lauko was not a member of the communist party, CSTK reported. (Peter Matuska) COUPON PRIVATIZATION IN CZECHOSLOVAKIA. On 2 March the Coupon Privatization Center in Prague told CSTK that 8.6 million people--some 80% of Czechoslovakia's adult population--have registered their coupon booklets to participate in privatization of the country's state companies. Some 6 million of those registered are from the Czech lands and 2.6 million from the Slovak Republic. Under the coupon scheme, Czechoslovak citizens may buy for 1,000 koruny ($33) a booklet of coupons which can be "invested" in state-owned companies or in private investment funds. (Peter Matuska) COMPENSATION FOR COMMUNIST SEIZURES IN HUNGARY. The director of Hungary's Compensation Office, Tamas Sepsey, says that some 830,000 people have applied for compensation for land, housing and private enterprises confiscated from them by the communists, an RFE/RL correspondent reported on 2 March. Only a few claims have been settled thus far, and processing the applications is expected to take until the end of the year. The claimants will receive vouchers which can be used to buy land, state-owned apartments, businesses, or shares. The maximum amount of compensation is 5 million forint; most claimants are expected to receive between 100,000 to 500,000 forint. (Edith Oltay) PORTUGUESE SUPPORT FOR HUNGARY'S EC MEMBERSHIP. Speaking at a news conference at the end of his two-day official visit to Hungary, Portuguese Prime Minister Anibal Cavaco Silva said that Hungary can expect to become a member of the European Community between 1995 and 2000, MTI reported on 29 February. Cavaco Silva, whose country currently holds the rotating EC presidency, said a more specific date may be set at the EC summit in Lisbon in June. Cavaco Silva held talks with Prime Minister Jozsef Antall and President Arpad Goncz, and was optimistic that Hungary can be the "gateway for Portugal toward other East European countries." This was the first meeting between a Portuguese and a Hungarian head of government. (Edith Oltay) HUNGARIAN-UZBEK ECONOMIC AGREEMENT. On 2 March, Uzbek Prime Minister Abdul Hashim Mutalov and Hungarian Minister of International Economic Relations Bela Kadar signed an economic cooperation agreement in Budapest, MTI reported. The agreement covers joint ventures, mutual investment opportunities, training, and cooperation between banks. Uzbekistan will send mostly cotton and chemical products to Hungary, while Hungary will export mainly agricultural and light industrial products to Uzbekistan. This is the first economic agreement between Hungary and a Central Asian republic of the former Soviet Union. The two countries are expected to sign a basic treaty on bilateral relations on 3 March. (Edith Oltay) GAINS FOR ROMANIAN ECONOMY. The National Statistics Board reports an overall increase of 7.4% in industrial production from December to January, following six months of decline. The figures show a large increase in coal extraction and a smaller increase in production of electricity, but a decline in output of processed foods and beverages, oil refining, vehicles, and computer technology. The total number of commercial companies with foreign capital in Romania stood at 9,089 in mid-February. Their funding amounted to more than 35 billion lei. The number of private entrepreneurs has reached about 160,000, Rompres reported on 2 March 1992. (Crisula Stefanescu) UNEMPLOYMENT AND INFLATION IN ROMANIA. According to data supplied by the National Statistics Board, the unemployment rate--the ratio between the total number of people receiving unemployment compensation or registered with employment offices and the total active population--was 3.4% on 31 January. At the same time the inflation rate was 236%, while the consumer price index was 434.6% for foodstuffs, 257.5% for consumer goods, and 306.6% for services. Real income has fallen 8% since December 1991, Rompres reports. (Crisula Stefanescu) ZHELEV CALLS FOR NATIONAL UNITY. In an address on the evening of 2 March, preceding national day celebrations, Bulgarian president Zhelyu Zhelev called for national unity during the transition to democracy. Zhelev's call comes against the background of sharpening conflict between the main political forces, the BSP and the UDF, in recent weeks. The president said that now just as on 3 March 1878, when Ottoman forces signed the peace treaty that eventually led to an independent Bulgarian state, Bulgarians must pursue common goals regardless of their political or religious persuasions. (Kjell Engelbrekt)
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