|The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper. - Eden Phillpotts|
No. 45, 05 March 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR NEW KARABAKH PEACE INITIATIVES FROM NAZARBAEV, YELTSIN . . . Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev issued a statement on 4 March proposing that CIS leaders call for an immediate cease-fire a halt to attempts by all CIS states to create their own armed forces, the creation of a CIS peacekeeping force and for mediation by CIS representatives parallel with the CSCE initiative, Interfax reported. In an ITAR-TASS statement, Russian President Boris Yeltsin likewise called for an immediate cease-fire and peace negotiations. (Liz Fuller) . . . AND AZERBAIJAN. A spokesman for Azerbaijani President Ayaz Mutalibov told reporters in Moscow on 4 March that Azerbaijan would accept any offer of outside mediation in the Karabakh dispute, Interfax reported. Addressing the UN on 4 March, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Hussein-Aga Sadykhov proposed the deployment of UN peace-keeping troops along the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan--a proposal that is likely to be rejected out of hand by both the Armenian government and the Armenian population of Karabakh. (Liz Fuller) CIS WITHDRAWAL FROM KARABAKH CONTINUES. The evacuation of CIS Troops from Stepanakert resumed on 4 March, according to ITAR-TASS; military helicopters were used to transport troops to Gyandzha. At a news conference in Moscow an Azerbaijani presidential spokesman claimed that CIS troops had collaborated with Armenian forces in the massacre of civilians during the capture of the Azerbaijani town of Khodzhaly on February 25-26. Russian television quoted a French journalist as claiming that video film of victims of the Khodzhaly fighting shown at the press conference had been falsified, and comprised old footage of an exchange of bodies under the auspices of the Iranian Red Crescent Society. (Liz Fuller) DNIESTER SITUATION. Fighting in the village of Cocieri near Dubasari on 4 March between the "Dniester Republic Guard" and Russian Cossacks on one side and Moldovan peasants and policemen on the other has resulted in 6 dead and 25 wounded on the "Dniester" side and 3 dead and 4 wounded on the Moldovan side (all Moldovan casualties are peasants). On 2 March in Dubasari, the "Dniester" side lost 2 dead and 2 wounded while the Moldovan side incurred no casualties. This overall casualty toll was released on 4 March in both Chisinau and Tiraspol. These clashes mark the first time since the outbreak of clashes in September 1991 in the Dniester region that the dead and wounded toll favors the Moldovan side. (Vladimir Socor) CEASE-FIRE AGREEMENT REPORTED. Sketchy reports in the Moscow and Moldovan media on 5 March indicate that representatives of the Moldovan government and of the authorities in Tiraspol have met in Dubasari and concluded a cease-fire The specific terms have not as yet been reported. (Vladimir Socor) MOSCOW GOVERNMENT TO CURB DEMOS IN THE CAPITAL? The Moscow city government is to seek a temporary ban on public demonstrations following clashes in the capital on 23 February between Communist protesters and police, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 March. The agency said the city administration decided to "persuade" the citizens to accept a "moratorium" on protests during the period of economic reforms. A number of groups, including those which took part in the 23 February protest, had asked permission to hold further demonstrations later this month and in April. Meanwhile, on 4 March representatives of pro-Communist and nationalistic groups demonstrated near the building of the Russian parliament, demanding to put the leadership of the Moscow government on trial for their alleged responsibility for the 23 February clashes. (Vera Tolz) STATE INVESTMENT DRAMATICALLY CUT BACK. Speaking to the Russian parliament 4 March, Russian Economics Minister Andrei Nechaev announced a sharply reduced state investment program, ITAR-TASS reported. In 1991 prices, the 1992 state investment program will amount to only 60% of last year's total. The structure of investment is different as well; investment in housing and other social programs is increasing relative to investment in industry. (John Tedstrom) DETAILS ON INVESTMENT PROGRAMS. The global limit on investment in the first quarter of 1992 is only 33 billion rubles. Some 3.7 billion rubles are targeted at the Chernobyl cleanup effort--higher than in 1991. Other major programs include construction in the agro-industrial complex, housing and other facilities outside the agro-industrial complex, and transportation. No details are available about investment for the conversion of the defense industries or in the fuel and energy sector. As regards industrial investment generally, enterprises are responsible under the new conditions of enterprise management and self-financing. (John Tedstrom) RUSSIAN ARMS SALES. There still appears to be no real mechanism for regulating Russian arms exports. A decree signed by Russian President Boris Yeltsin and reported by Interfax on 27 February tasked Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi with overseeing such activities. Meanwhile, General Staff Chief Viktor Samsonov said in Beijing on 2 March (as reported by ITAR-TASS) that a new Military Committee had been created within the Russian government to supervise Russian arms sales. It is not clear if Rutskoi will be heading this committee. Samsonov said that sales would follow guidelines established by the United Nations, that they would be conducted on a commercial basis, including barter deals, and that profits would go to the government and the defense sector. (Stephen Foye) ARBATOV OPPOSES JOINT SPACE DEFENSE. Aleksei Arbatov, director of the Center for Disarmament and Strategic Stability of the Foreign Policy Association, argued in the 4 March Nezavisimaya gazeta that Russia would be mistaken to pursue the creation of a space-based ABM system, either on its own or in tandem with the US. His remarks were summarized by ITAR-TASS. Arbatov said that deployment of such a system would sharply complicate the balance of forces between Russia and the US, and could hinder the process of nuclear disarmament. He also said that it would require funds that could better be used elsewhere and, if the US emerged as the senior partner in a joint effort, could compromise Russian sovereignty. (Stephen Foye) RECORD GRAIN IMPORTS ENVISAGED. The General Director of Eksportkhleb, Oleg Klimov, is still handling the grain imports for all CIS members. In an interview with Handelsblatt of 4 March, he predicted that the CIS will be importing record amounts of grain and feedstuffs. Whereas in 1991, the former USSR imported a total of 34.7 million tons of grain, Klimov expects imports of 30-32 million tons in the period January-July 1992. For the financing of these purchases, Klimov appeared confident that credits will be forthcoming. (Keith Bush) PRIVATIZATION OF GAZ AND VAZ. The GAZ truck and car plant in Nizhni-Novgorod will be offered for sale to its 100,000 employees and other investors this year, ITAR-TASS reported on 3 March. The factory will first become a stock company with all shares owned by the state. The shares will then be offered to employees, starting in the second quarter of this year. An illustration of the problems involved in pricing enterprises for privatization was provided by the International Herald Tribune of 3 March. The VAZ car plant values itself at $4 billion; Bear Stearns & Co., representing the Russian government, has come up with a price tag of $9 billion; but the merchant bank representing Fiat claims that the plant is not worth more than $2 billion. (Keith Bush) UKRAINE-TURKMENISTAN GAS DISPUTE (CONTINUED). On 4 March, Western news agencies continued to cover the gas price dispute between Ukraine and Turkmenistan (see Daily Report of 4 March), but started to report the Turkmen side of the argument. Turkmen officials have refused to accept the "ridiculously low" price offered by Ukraine; Deputy Prime Minister Nazar Suyunov was quoted as telling Interfax that Turkmenistan is willing to resume negotiations but will probably insist on a price as high as that Russia charges. The 4 March Austrian TV news expressed alarm that Ukraine had shut down the pipeline that carries not only Turkmen gas across its territory, but also Russian gas to the West. (Bess Brown) GORBACHEV IN GERMANY. Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev began a one-week trip to Germany on 4 March where he met with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl for talks on the current political situation in the former Soviet Union, Western aid, and other topics, Western agencies reported. Gorbachev's trip is sponsored by the Bertelsmann publishing house. (Suzanne Crow) NO PAPAL VISIT TO CIS IN 1992. The Pope has said that he does not plan to visit the Commonwealth of Independent States this year, but will go "when the conditions are right," La Stampa reported on 4 March. Relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church are somewhat strained at the present time. A joint communique on talks between the two churches in Geneva this week called for closer consultation. (Oxana Antic) MORE ON UPCOMING TATARSTAN REFERENDUM. Three Russian deputies, including Oleg Rumyantsev, secretary of the Russian Constitutional Commission, have appealed to the republic's Constitutional Court to examine the constitutionality of the 21 March referendum on the status of Tatarstan, Radio Rossii reported on 4 March citing Kuranty. The deputies say the question of Tatarstan sovereignty, being put to the vote in a veiled form, will lead to the republic's secession from Russia, and they fear that many who do not want a break with Russia will vote in favor because they do not understand the essence of the question. An appeal from Russian deputies to the people of Tatarstan is expected to be adopted on 5 March, "Vesti" reported on 4 March. (Ann Sheehy) YELTSIN DECREE ON SOVIET GERMANS PUBLISHED. Yeltsin's decree calling for the creation of German national okrugs in Saratov and Volgograd oblasts as a first stage to restoring Russian German statehood on the Volga was published by TASS on 4 March. The decree was signed on 21 February. No reason was given why it was only announced on 2 March. It entrusts the Russian government with setting up an organizing committee to prepare proposals for creating the national okrugs; provides for the formation of the Russian part of a non-governmental Russian-German commission on a stage by stage restoration of Russian German statehood; and directs a number of ministries to conduct explanatory work on implementing the decree. (Ann Sheehy) FORMER PARTY PROFESSOR APPOINTED RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE. Leonid Smolyakov, since November 1991 plenipotentiary representative of Russia in Ukraine, has been appointed Russian ambassador to Ukraine, ITAR-TASS reported 4 March. Smolyakov, a Russian aged 50, graduated from Kiev University in 1965, and after that worked in Ukraine. From 1971-87 he taught in the Higher Party School of the Ukrainian CP Central Committee, and from 1987-91 was a professor of the CPSU Central Committee's Academy of Social Sciences. (Ann Sheehy) TISHKOV APPOINTED CHAIRMAN OF RUSSIA'S STATE COMMITTEE FOR NATIONALITY POLICY. Valerii Tishkov, a professional ethnographer and director of the Institute of Ethnography and Anthropology of the Academy of Sciences, has been nominated chairman of Russia's State Committee for Nationalities Policy, Radio Rossii reported on 4 March. In an interview with the radio, Tishkov said it was too early to talk of a program, but one of his priorities would be much better representation for the non-Russian peoples in the political and above all central structures of the republic. (Ann Sheehy) ALASH PARTY MEMBERS TO BE TRIED. RFE/RL was informed on 4 March that leaders of the ultra-nationalist Islamic Alash Party of Kazakhstan are to be put on trial this month, after several delays. The Alash leaders are charged with having assaulted Mufti Ratbek Nysanbaev, head of Kazakhstan's Muslim Religious Board, insulting the honor of President Nursultan Nazarbaev, and holding unauthorized rallies. The group, which has never been registered, denies the assault charges, although they accuse the mufti of working for the KGB, but Nysanbaev says that they broke his arm. (Bess Brown) TURKEY AND UZBEKISTAN ESTABLISH DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS. Turkish foreign minister Hikmet Cetin signed a protocol in Tashkent on 4 March establishing diplomatic relations between his country and Uzbekistan, Uza-TASS and Western agencies reported. One agency reported that Uzbekistan requested that Turkey represent it in foreign countries and international organizations, and that Uzbek president Islam Karimov had accepted a Turkish offer to train Uzbek diplomats. The Turkish foreign minister is on a tour of Turkic-speaking CIS states. On 3 March he signed protocols establishing diplomatic relations with Kyrgyzstan. (Bess Brown) SCIENTIFIC COOPERATION IN CENTRAL ASIA. The presidents of the Academies of Sciences of the Central Asian states and Azerbaijan have signed an agreement to create a unified "scientific space," because the collapse of former connections between the republics in scientific ventures has had a negative effect on scientific work in the region, TASS reported on 4 March. All the Central Asian states have sought to conclude an agreement on scientific coordination among the agreements they have signed with neighboring countries as well. (Bess Brown) EASTERN EUROPE BALTIC STATES BALTIC REGIONAL CONFERENCE STARTS IN COPENHAGEN. The foreign ministers of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Germany are convening in the Danish capital on 5 and 6 March to discuss ways of expanding cooperation among their countries, especially in the fields of energy, environmental protection, transportation, communications, education, and culture. They are expected to found a council of the Baltic Sea states, Western agencies reported on 4 March. (Dzintra Bungs) FLUCTUATIONS IN VALUE OF RUBLE. On 4 March Radio Lithuania reported that the Bank of Lithuania is buying US dollars for 100 rubles and selling them for 140 rubles. Purchases of dollars are limited $300 and may be made only by persons traveling abroad. On the previous day dollars were bought for 100 rubles but sold for 130 rubles. On 29 January the sale and purchase prices had been 110 and 135 rubles respectively, on 5 February--125 and 135 rubles, on 19 February--96.3 and 90 rubles. The great fluctuations undoubtedly create confusion and are a clear indication that the ruble's value can not be calculated accurately. (Saulius Girnius) LITHUANIAN DISSATISFACTION ON TROOP WITHDRAWAL. According to a report carried on the RFE/RL Lithuanian Service on 4 March, Ceslovas Stankevicius, Deputy Chairman of the Lithuanian Supreme Council, said that the withdrawal of former Soviet troops is only symbolic. The planned withdrawals in March will primarily involve the removal of valuable equipment and not soldiers. Problems are likely to arise later in the spring if Russia disregards Lithuania's clear statement that new recruits will not be allowed to enter the republic. Stankevicius countered the Russian argument that it needs to maintain the strength of its units by pointing out that such considerations do not apply to an army that is withdrawing. Moreover, Stankevicius said, according to agreements signed with the West, the CIS is supposed to be disarming a number of paratroop and armor units. (Saulius Girnius) NEW TRANSPORTATION MINISTER IN LATVIA. On 4 March the Latvian Supreme Council endorsed Andris Gutmanis as the new Minister of Transportation, Radio Riga reports. Gutmanis replaces Janis Janovskis, who died in a traffic accident in January. Gutmanis was heretofore deputy minister of economic reforms. (Dzintra Bungs) TRAIN CRASH CLAIMS LIVES. On 3 March, Radio Riga reports, the Riga-Moscow passenger train collided with a freight train; the first three cars of the passenger train caught fire. The accident, which took place about 300 km west of Moscow near the town of Nelidovo, has so far claimed about 40 lives. (Dzintra Bungs) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE VANCE RETURNS TO BELGRADE AND SARAJEVO. International media reported on 4 March that UN special envoy Cyrus Vance held talks in Belgrade with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and federal Defense Minister Blagoje Adzic. Vance said that Adzic is firmly behind the peace plan, and Milosevic told the press that there are no more obstacles to the UN plan. Vance ruled out sending additional UN peace-keeping troops to Bosnia, however. He is holding talks in Sarajevo on 5 March, where, on 4 March, President Alija Izetbegovic and hundreds of citizens took to the streets in the evening to show that one could walk about safely. Earlier that day Izetbegovic told Le Figaro that a "balance of fear" was keeping the peace in the tense, ethnically mixed republic. (Patrick Moore) POLISH TROOPS TO SERVE IN CROATIA. President Lech Walesa has instructed Defense Minister Jan Parys to send Polish troops to serve in the UN Peace Force in Croatia. Gen. Marian Robelek is in overall charge. A Defense Ministry spokesman told PAP on 4 March that the 900-man battalion will be recruited among volunteers mainly from the Silesian Military Region. An advance group is going to Croatia later this month. Over the past 40 years Poland has participated in four international commissions and one observer group and has provided two UN peace force contingents--in the Sinai and the Golan Heights. (Roman Stefanowski) GENERAL MOTORS INVESTS IN POLAND. A long-awaited memorandum of understanding was signed in Warsaw on 28 February between Robert Eaton, President of General Motors Corporation-Europe and Poland's Industry and Trade Minister Andrzej Lipko. According to Western media, GM agreed to invest $75 million in a joint venture with the state owned FSO Warsaw auto maker. Eaton told a press conference that GM's investment in Poland could grow to more than $300 million dollars "if conditions are appropriate." A specially built assembly line will produce 35,000 Opel Astras annually, mainly for Poland's domestic use. Having outbid French and Italian competitors, GM will own 70% of the joint venture, with the Poles holding 30%. GM has also agreed to help update the technologically outdated Polonez hatchback. (Roman Stefanowski) MORE HELP FOR POLISH SCIENCE. German Research and Technology Minister, Heinz Riesenh|ber, told a Warsaw press conference on 4 March that Poland may expect a substantial share of the 45 million-ecu PHARE EC research fund, provided it proposes concrete projects. According to Polish and Western media, Riesenh|ber also said that Germany is providing an initial DM 2.1 million to set up the joint Polish-German Historical Institute in 1993 "where scholars of both countries can collaborate and to draw conclusions from our common, not always contentious past." Riesenh|ber has also inspected the Kaweczyn Electric Power Plant, built with German cooperation and which has pioneered in technologies to eliminate the emanation of sulfur dioxide and nitric oxide. (Roman Stefanowski) HAVEL: STATE SYSTEM MUST BE CHANGED. On 4 March, in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, President Vaclav Havel said the country's federal system is a relic of the past and "cannot be preserved." Havel, however, doubted the change would mean a split between the Czechs and the Slovaks. He stressed that the country's citizens must have the right to decide on the state order in a referendum, and criticized those who advocate an independent Slovakia but oppose such a referendum. "They know an unequivocal vote for unity would undercut separatism for a long time." (Peter Matuska) PARLIAMENT VOTES FOR PUBLIC ACCESS TO SECRET POLICE FILES. On 4 March the Czechoslovak parliament approved a resolution allowing all citizens access to files kept on them by the former StB secret police. The decision requires the federal government to take measures to enable opening of the files, an RFE/RL correspondent reports. The parliament rejected a proposal that the federal government be asked to submit a bill allowing publication of the names of StB members and collaborators. (Peter Matuska) EAGLEBURGER ON INVESTING IN CZECHOSLOVAKIA, BULGARIA. Addressing a conference of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation in Washington on 4 March, Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger called Bulgaria "one of the great but largely unsung success stories of postcommunist Europe" and said that no government in Eastern Europe "is more unreservedly committed to economic liberalism" than that in Prague. He said he would not hesitate to encourage Americans to invest in Czechoslovakia, despite the many irritants that remain there for Western business executives. Bulgaria, he said, has great potential as a trading partner and has made great progress in creating a climate attractive to foreign partners. Bulgarian Prime Minister Filip Dimitrov and Czechoslovak federal Finance Minister Vaclav Klaus, both on visits in the US, each attended the conference, an RFE/RL correspondent reports. (Peter Matuska & Rada Nikolaev) HUNGARY REIMPOSES VISAS FOR CHINESE. A Hungarian Foreign Ministry spokesman told an RFE/RL correspondent on 3 March that Hungary will reintroduce visas for Chinese effective 17 March as part of a new effort to curb the tide of illegal immigration. Visas for Chinese were abolished in January 1989, and since then thousands of visiting Chinese have chosen to stay in Hungary illegally beyond the 30 days permitted by law. The Hungarian Ministry of Interior estimates that some 25,000 Chinese came to Hungary last year alone. Many tried to slip across the border into Austria on their way to the West, while others stayed in Hungary and earned their living selling goods in the street and by establishing businesses. Chinese restaurants have been proliferating in Budapest and in the suburbs. (Edith Oltay) HUNGARIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY SPOKESMAN RESIGNS. On 4 March Hungarian Defense Ministry spokesman Gyorgy Keleti handed in his resignation, MTI reports. Keleti spent 28 years in military service and was one of the few senior officials in the ministry remaining from the communist era. An official ministry statement said that Keleti's departure was "associated with recent changes in ministry personnel and organization." Keleti told Radio Budapest that he was finding it increasingly difficult to obtain access to information within the ministry and was coming under criticism for his association with the Hungarian Socialist Party, the former communist party. Keleti became well known during the Romanian revolution when he provided the press with reports intercepted by Hungarian military monitors. (Edith Oltay) HUNGARY, UKRAINE SIGN MILITARY COOPERATION AGREEMENT. On 3 March Hungarian Defense Ministry State Secretary Erno Raffay and Ukrainian Defense Minister Konstantin Morozov signed a military cooperation agreement in Budapest, MTI reports. The agreement calls for an exchange of information and cooperation between the two defense ministries on disarmament and training. Raffay announced that military attachis will soon be posted in Budapest and Kiev. The treaty is intended to replace the one signed with the Soviet Union just before its breakup. Hungary shares a 135 km border with Ukraine and has already concluded defense agreements with former Warsaw Pact members Romania, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, and Poland. (Edith Oltay) ROMANIA'S PARLIAMENT DEBATES BUDGET. On 4 March the parliament began debates on a 1992 austerity budget, which stresses low inflation at the expense of economic growth. The state expects to collect 1992 revenues of about $5.21 billion with estimated expenditures of $5.66 billion--a planned deficit of some $450 million. Reuters quotes budget expert Mircea Cosea as saying that since state spending is no longer centralized, the budget reflects only a small part of what will be produced in Romania. According to official figures, the share of the private sector in the gross national domestic product--which stood at 2,100 million lei (the leu is currently quoted at 198 per dollar)--rose to 21% compared with only 15% in 1990. (Crisula Stefanescu) GERMAN OFFICIAL URGES ETHNIC GERMANS TO STAY IN ROMANIA. Horst Waffenschmidt, German Secretary of State for Repatriation of Ethnic Germans, on a three-day official visit to Romania, urged ethnic Germans to stay in Romania rather than emigrate to Germany. He assured them that the door to Germany will remain open but stressed he did not think they now face oppression in Romania. Waffenschmidt told Rompres on 4 March that the two countries will set up a joint commission on ethnic German affairs. (Crisula Stefanescu) KOZLODUY UPDATE. A Bulgarian government official, quoted by Western agencies, said on 4 March that the damage caused by fire outside the 1,000-megawatt No. 6 reactor at the Kozloduy nuclear power plant has been repaired and preparations are being made to reconnect it to the power grid. The fire broke out last Saturday night, just after it was announced on TV that energy rationing would be discontinued. Rationing had been in force since early February at the rate of three hours on, one hour off, but a two-and-two-hour schedule was temporarily imposed for one day last week. The frequency of accidents at Kozloduy has prompted increasing allegations in the press of sabotage. Meanwhile, on 4 March Bulgarian officials criticized French environmentalist Jacques Yves Cousteau, who has been monitoring pollution of the Danube, for taking unnecessary risks when he made a helicopter flight over Kozloduy on 29 February. (Rada Nikolaev)
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