|Every custom was once an eccentricity; every idea was once an absurdity. - Holbrook Jackson|
No. 46, 06 March 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR AZERBAIJAN PARLIAMENT CHAIRWOMAN RESIGNS. Elmira Kafarova resigned as chairwoman at the opening of an emergency session of the Azerbaijani parliament on 5 March, ITAR-TASS reported. Baku medical school dean Yakub Mamedov was elected to replace her. Azerbaijani President Ayaz Mutalibov rejected calls for his resignation by deputies and demonstrators angered at his failure to take more decisive action against Nagorno-Karabakh. Mutalibov insisted that what was required was a political solution to the Karabakh impasse, arguing that it takes time to create a national army. Meanwhile RIA reported that up to 20 people were killed in ongoing fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh. (Liz Fuller) FURTHER DIPLOMATIC ACTIVITY OVER NAGORNO-KARABAKH. Turkish President Turgut Ozal told reporters in Izmir that Turkey should take a more active role in resolving the Karabakh conflict, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 March. IRNA quoted Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati as stating that a high-level Iranian delegation will visit Armenia and Azerbaijan next week in a further attempt at mediation. After meeting with UN Secretary-General Boutros Ghali in New York on 5 March, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Husein-Aga Sadykhov told RFE-RL that Boutros Ghali had agreed to mediate the Karabakh dispute on condition that both sides restore a ceasefire and express their willingness to negotiate. (Liz Fuller) MOLDOVAN SITUATION. The ceasefire agreed on by representatives of Moldova and the "Dniester re-public" on 4 March in Dubasari appears fragile. There is no agreement yet on the terms for a disengagement of forces and for an exchange of prisoners. "Dniester" forces shot their way into two Moldovan villages on 5 March, Radio Chisinau reported, adding that the peasants are demanding arms to defend their villages. Minister of National Security Anatol Plugaru informed the Moldovan Parliament that the "Dniester" forces have mined the dam of the Dubasari electric power plant which provides almost 80% of Moldova's power consumption. Radio Tiraspol has announced that additional units of Russian Cossacks are on their way to Moldova to assist the "Dniester republic." (Vladimir Socor) SNEGUR ON THE SITUATION. In an speech to Parliament and a radio and television address to the people of Moldova, both on 5 March, President Mircea Snegur charged that the "Dniester republic" and the Moscow media "are deliberately portraying the conflict as inter-ethnic . . .in an attempt to disguise the military-communist nature of the phantom "Dniester republic" and to attract the support of the national-patriotic forces of Russia." Appealing to all citizens for calm, Snegur called for a resolution of the conflict by exclusively peaceful means and with "the full observance of Moldova's territorial integrity and indivisibility." He reiterated the earlier offer of establishing a "free economic zone" around Tiraspol where the Russian population on the left bank of the Dniester is concentrated. (Vladimir Socor) "DNIESTER" LEADER ON THE SITUATION. The self-styled "Dniester republic president" Igor Smirnov was cited by The Guardian on 5 March as saying that the cease-fire had "little chance of succeeding" and that military assistance from Russia was justified since the Dniester region is "Russian land." Like most Russians in the region--who form 25.5% of the region's population, according to the last Soviet census--and most of the would-be republic's leaders, Smirnov emigrated there from Russia. (Vladimir Socor) CIS COMMAND PUTS PRESSURE ON MOLDOVA. Snegur told Parliament in his speech that, following the outbreak of the clashes, he had received a cable from the commander in chief of CIS forces, Marshal Evgenii Shaposhnikov, urging that a moratorium be imposed on the formation on the Moldovan republican army. Without such a moratorium, Shaposhnikov warned, the conflict in the Dniester region could escalate. Snegur termed the suggestion unacceptable. (Vladimir Socor) UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT POSTPONES VOTE ON EMERGENCY ECONOMIC POWERS. Ukrainian president Leonid Kravchuk asked parliament on 5 March to approve the imposition in Ukraine of a state of economic emergency, CIS media announced. Kravchuk asked for emergency powers so that he could act swiftly and decisively on economic reform. As reported by Radio Rossiya, Kravchuk said that industrial production had fallen by 20% compared with 1991 and that Ukraine is operating with a budget deficit of 50 billion rubles. The parliament, however, decided to postpone a vote on Kravchuk's proposal until the president provides more details on the implications of a state of economic emergency. (Kathy Mihalisko) SAVCHENKO SACKED FROM UKRAINIAN NATIONAL BANK. The well-known Ukrainian economic reformer Oleksandr Savchenko was fired from his post as deputy head of the Ukrainian National Bank and "transferred to academic work," according to Reuter, quoting bank officials, on 5 March. Fellow economic reformer Volodymyr Pylypchuk called Savchenko's removal a "blow against reform," while other colleagues quoted by Reuter said Savchenko was a victim of a power struggle between reformers and conservatives in the bank and government. Savchenko was closely associated with the planned introduction of a Ukrainian currency. (Kathy Mihalisko) BELARUSIAN OFFICIALS SAY DEMOCRATS ARE PROVOKING SOCIAL TENSION. The news from Belarus continues to be dominated by the progress of the opposition's campaign to collect signatures for the holding of a referendum on early reelections to the parliament. The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet and the government of Belarus issued a statement on 4 March to protest "attempts to increase social tension" under the cloak of democracy, referring specifically to the referendum effort, according to CIS TV on 4 March. Radio Mayak said on 4 March that Supreme Soviet chairman Stanislau Shushkevich is ready to unveil his plan to reorganize the work of the Supreme Soviet. Such a reorganization, he said, would accomplish more than the opposition's proposed referendum. (Kathy Mihalisko) DEMOCRATIC UNION OF GEORGIA PROPOSES COMMITTEE OF NATIONAL SALVATION. Sakinform/TASS reported on 5 March that the Democratic Union of Georgia had appealed to Georgia's ruling Military Council to create a Committee for National Salvation as a temporary ruling body and to invite former Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze to become a member. Speaking in Moscow on 5 March, Teimuraz Stepanov, who worked closely with Shevardnadze since his time as Georgian Party first secretary, told Western reporters that Shevardnadze would "probably" stand as a candidate when parliamentary elections are finally held in Georgia. (Liz Fuller) SHAPOSHNIKOV FIRES DEFECTING AF GENERAL. A 5 March announcement on the "Novosti" newscast said that CIS commander in chief Marshal Evgenii Shaposhnikov had removed the commander of a Ukrainian-based strategic air division from his post. Major General Mikhail Bashkirov and some of his staff last month pledged allegiance to Ukraine. At that time it was reported that Bashkirov had been fired by the chief of the CIS strategic air force and subsequently dismissed from the armed forces, but these measures were then "abrogated" by the Ukrainian minister of defense. Ukraine has acknowledged that strategic nuclear forces should remain part of the unified armed forces. (Doug Clarke) RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY URGED. A resolution on the enactment of the law on security, adopted by the Russian Supreme Soviet on 5 March, contains a recommendation that the president of Russia consider creating a Russian Defense Ministry and a state committee for border defense, RIA reported that same day. The creation of a Russian Defense Ministry has been a contentious issue for some two months now, with the Russian parliament taking the lead in urging its creation and Russian President Boris Yeltsin and the CIS military command apparently moving with more caution. (Stephen Foye) CONSCRIPTS IN PERM. An investigating committee from the Russian parliament has gone to Perm oblast to check a request by some 100 Central Asian conscripts to be permitted to finish their military service at home, ITAR-TASS and Radio Rossii reported on 5 March. The conscripts are serving as guards at one of the penal colonies in the region, and the local command was able to persuade them to return to their posts only after representatives of the group had visited Moscow and received permission to return to Central Asia. At the same time, the report said, some 150 recruits hailing from the Ural region have themselves arrived home after being expelled from non-Russian republics for their unwillingness to swear another military oath. (Stephen Foye) GORBACHEV IN GERMANY. While he still disagrees with many of Russian President Boris Yeltsin's opinions, Mikhail Gorbachev does not wish to see the reforms fail. During his second day in Germany (5 March), Gorbachev made pleas for support during meetings in Bonn with Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Bundestag President Rita Suessmuth, and Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, Western agencies reported. (Suzanne Crow) . . . LONGS FOR UNION. During the 5 March news conference following talks with Kohl, Gorbachev said that he favored the concept of the Soviet Union, but believes he must support the CIS. During talks with Rita Suessmuth the same day, Gorbachev criticized trips by Western foreign ministers to the individual states of the CIS. He said that when one Western foreign minister after another visits each CIS state, the young politicians there get dizzy and have the impression that the whole world is looking at them. He also criticized Western countries' conclusion of treaties with CIS members on the grounds that this practice gives the leaders of these states the impression that they are in competition with each other, RFE/RL's Bonn correspondent reported on 5 March. (Suzanne Crow) GERMAN MEDIA REACTION. Gorbachev's arrival in Germany received wide coverage on television, but subdued treatment in the press. The Koelnische/Bonner Rundshau and Allgemeine Zeitung (Mainz) carried commentaries on 5 March praising Gorbachev's contribution to German unification and lamenting that Gorbachev is not appreciated in his own country. In contrast, papers in eastern Germany were cold or silent on Gorbachev's arrival. Neues Deutschland, the Berlin newspaper owned by the reformed communist party, carried nothing at all on Gorbachev's arrival. The Maerkische Allgemeine criticized Gorbachev's failure to visit any city in what was the GDR, including Berlin, asking: "Is it ignorance or misplaced tact that keeps Gorbachev from trying to think of his visits to the former German Democratic Republic?" (Suzanne Crow, Stephen Kampmeier) PRIVATIZATION OF LAND IN RUSSIA. At a news conference in Moscow on 5 March, reported by Western agencies, the chairman of the Russian government's Committee on Land Reform, Nikolai Komov, stated that at least one-third of Russia's cultivated land will be privatized by the end of 1992. To date, 6.5 million hectares out of 215 million hectares of cultivated land have been privatized and are now in the hands of 14 million families, including 12 million urban families. Russia has 75,000 private farms; their number is expected to increase to 150,000 by the end of the year. Komov warned, however, that private farmers are not yet in the position to feed the country, as they provide only 2-3 % of agricultural output in Russia. (Keith Bush) INDUSTRIAL PRIVATIZATION IN UKRAINE. The Ukrainian parliament approved the republic's first law on privatization by a vote of 341-7 on 4 March, Western agencies reported. The law applies to state enterprises valued at more than 1.5 million rubles. Ukrainian citizens will be issued with special bonds or certificates with which they can bid for property at auctions. Priority will be given to employees who choose to pool their certificates and buy shares in their own enterprises. (Keith Bush) RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER TATAR REFERENDUM. On 5 March the Russian parliament adopted an appeal to the Supreme Soviet, the people, and the president of Tatarstan in connection with the referendum of the status of Tatarstan scheduled for 21 March, ITAR-TASS reported. The appeal said the referendum threatened the break-up of the Russian Federation and expressed the hope that the people of Tatarstan would not go along with separatist forces. (Ann Sheehy) . . . AND ASKS CONSTITUTIONAL COURT TO INTERVENE. The Russian parliament also asked the republic's constitutional court to pronounce on the constitutionality of the referendum, pointing out that under the Russian constitution only the Congress of People's Deputies has the right to alter its territory, and requesting that the court ask the Tatarstan parliament to suspend its decision to hold the referendum. (Ann Sheehy) TURKMENISTAN SIGNS GAS DEALS. Turk-menistan has agreed to supply Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan with natural gas, a Western news agency reported on 5 March, quoting Interfax. In return for its gas, Turkmenistan is to receive elec-trical engineering and chemical industry equipment, consumer goods and food, and accounts on both sides will be settled at world prices in US dollars on a clearing basis. The signatories have agreed not to interfere with gas shipments across their territories. In the ongoing dispute between Turkmenistan and Ukraine over gas prices, Ukraine has threatened to shut down a pipeline across its territory that carries Turkmen gas as well as Russian. On 5 March, Radio Rossii broadcast a report that Turkmen gas was no longer reaching Armenia, and gas supplies to industries and homes had ceased. (Bess Brown) EASTERN EUROPE BALTIC STATES COUNCIL OF THE BALTIC SEA STATES ESTABLISHED. The foreign ministers of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia, and Sweden gave a press conference in Copenhagen on 6 March after a signing a declaration formally establishing the Council of the Baltic Sea States. The Council is intended to help democratic and economic development in the region, foster cooperation among the member states, and strengthen ties between the European Community and EC nonmembers in the region. At the conference on 5 March Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev criticized the Baltic States over "non-respect for the human rights of Russian-speakers" and asked the council to appoint a trouble shooter on minority rights. Neither the accusation nor the proposal was supported by the other foreign ministers, Western agencies report. (Dzintra Bungs) LANDSBERGIS IN JAPAN. On 5 March Chairman of the Lithuanian Supreme Council Vytautas Landsbergis met for 55 minutes with Japanese Emperor Akihito, Radio Lithuania reports. They discussed the histories of their nations and the need for more cultural ties. Accompanied by International Relations Minister Vytenis Aleskaitis, Landsbergis also talked with Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa on political and economic questions. It was agreed that Lithuanian education specialists would visit Japan in the fall. (Saulius Girnius) MORE TALK ON TROOP WITHDRAWAL FROM LATVIA. Dainis Turlajs, Latvia's First Deputy Minister of Defense, gave an upbeat report to Radio Riga on 5 March about the talks in Moscow between Latvian and Russian experts on the withdrawal of ex-USSR troops from Latvia. On 3 and 4 March the two sides presented their outlines for the accord. Turlajs suggested continuing the talks and drafting the final document in Latvia in mid-March. Turlajs said that the full Russian and Latvian delegations will probably not meet on 23 March but sometime later. He did not mention any dates when troop withdrawal from Latvia might begin, even though a Baltfax dispatch of 5 March suggested the first pullout might be between 10 and 20 March. (Dzintra Bungs) FIGURES ON TROOPS IN LATVIA STILL SECRET. Turlajs told Radio Riga on 5 March that, despite repeated inquiries, Latvian authorities have not been able to obtain precise figures on the number of ex-Soviet armed forces in Latvia. He noted that when there is talk of defense, troop figures are lowered, but when the issue is withdrawal, the figure is raised to give the impression that the pullout is a momentous task. Radio Riga also reported unannounced troop movements in and around Riga on 5 March. A spokesman for the Northwestern Group of Forces told BNS that day that recent reports of the arrival of new recruits in Latvia are unsubstantiated and probably have to do with the movement of troops within Latvia. (Dzintra Bungs) LITHUANIA OFFERS HOMES TO CIS OFFICERS. On 5 March Lithuanian National Defense Minister Audrius Butkevicius told Reuters that 5,000 of the 8,000 former Soviet army officers in Lithuania will be offered the opportunity to take over the housing now allocated to them. The officers will be able to sell the apartments or keep living there if they obtain other employment. Russia has repeatedly cited the lack of housing at home as a main factor delaying withdrawal of the troops from the Baltic States, and this proposal is intended to speed up the process. (Saulius Girnius) AGREEMENT WITH RUSSIA FOR OIL AND GAS. On 5 March in Moscow Lithuanian Economics Minister Vytas Navickas discussed trade relations with Russia, Radio Lithuania reports. Lithuania will receive 3 million tons of oil and 4,500 cubic meters of gas. Permission was obtained to import another 2.5 million tons of oil through individual agreements with oil suppliers. In a related matter the Lithuanian government has empowered the Ministry of Construction and Urban Development to sign treaties with the Tyumen region in Russia to obtain oil and gas in exchange for construction and road building. (Saulius Girnius) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE MASSIVE PEACE DEMONSTRATION IN SARAJEVO. Austrian TV said on 5 March that over 10,000 people gathered outside government buildings in the Bosnian capital for the biggest peace rally in the former Yugoslavia since the army invaded Slovenia last June. Serbian leader Radovan Karadzic called for the federal army to intervene in Bosnia and accused the EC of provoking civil war there, but the army rejected his demand. UN special envoy Cyrus Vance urged all parties to exercise restraint, the 6 March Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung says. Vance held talks with President Alija Izetbegovic, who backs an independent, united, and secular state. The Austrian broadcast also covered the funeral of a Muslim teenager killed by Serb neighbors. The top Muslim clergy of Bosnia and the former Yugoslavia participated in the rites. (Patrick Moore) MUSLIMS READY TO DEFEND SARAJEVO. On 4 March Irfan Ajanovic, a leader of the main committee of the Party for Democratic Action (PDA), Bosnia's largest party, told reporters that Muslims are ready to defend Sarajevo in case the local Serbs continue erecting barricades and otherwise fanning the tense situation. Ajanovic said that the PDA has calmed down Muslim radical militiamen but they would be called out "if the need arises." He also confirmed that one formation, the Muslim "Green Berets," has appeared in Sarajevo, adding that other "multinational paramilitary groups" have been formed and are also prepared for action. Radio Sarajevo carried the report. (Milan Andrejevich) SEJM REJECTS GOVERNMENT ECONOMIC PLAN . . . On 5 March, by a vote 171 to 138 with 38 abstentions, the Polish Sejm rejected the controversial plan, which many see as inflationary and, insofar as it abandons strict monetarism, likely to provoke confrontation with the IMF. The government's antirecessionary plan, devised to help ailing industrial enterprises and provide agriculture with price and credit subsidies, was perceived as being motivated more by politics than economics. It is not yet clear what the final consequences of the Sejm vote will be. While government spokesman Marcin Gugulski refused to comment altogether, presidential spokesman Andrzej Drzycimski said that "the Sejm's rejection does not imply that the government must resign." The government is meeting on 6 March to debate the situation. Polish and Western media carried the story. (Roman Stefanowski) . . . AND ENDORSES NATIONAL BANK CHAIRMAN. By an overwhelming vote of 222 to 96 with 35 abstentions on 5 March the Sejm approved on Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz as chairman of the Polish National Bank (NBP), Polish and Western media report. A Warsaw University expert on banking and law, she was rejected by the Sejm when first proposed for the position by President Walesa last December, on the ground she lacks banking and administrative experience. Immediately after the vote, Gronkiewicz-Waltz indicated she would try to restrain the government's plans "to abandon monetary orthodoxy." Walesa's previous candidate for the top bank post, Marek Dabrowski, was rejected by the Sejm last September. Finding a chairman for the NBP is critical at a time of systemic changes in Poland; the seven-month search started in August 1991 when Grzegorz Wojtowicz was dismissed in the wake of the ART-B banking scandal. (Roman Stefanowski) LAW ON FOREIGNERS IN CZECHOSLOVAKIA. On 4 March the Federal Assembly passed a law on foreigners on Czechoslovak territory, setting conditions for their entrance, stay, and exit, CSTK reports. The law reflects efforts to create room for expanding tourism and protect the country against undesirable influx of immigrants. Foreigners will now have to present a valid passport and, if applicable, a Czechoslovak entry visa. The duration of a short-term stay is limited to 180 days. Applications for long-term stays or permanent residence must be dealt with by the federal Interior Ministry within 60 days. (Peter Matuska) CALFA REVEALS ACCORD ON REPAYMENT OF SOVIET DEBT. Czechoslovak federal Prime Minister Marian Calfa said that under a tentative agreement Russia will repay part of former USSR debts to Czechoslovakia with deliveries of natural gas. Russia owes Czechoslovakia the equivalent of $5 billion, CSTK reported on 5 March. The Russian government wants to repay $1 billion with gas deliveries. Calfa said the agreement calls for Russia to start repaying another $2 billion with trade credits starting in January 1996. The two governments are still discussing how Russia will repay the remaining $2-million debt. (Peter Matuska) SLOVAKS PROPOSE TOUGHER ABORTION LAW. On 5 March the daily Lidove noviny reported that the Slovak government is proposing a law to permit abortion only if the fetus is defective, the mother's health is threatened, or the birth would pose severe social hardship. The proposal, which has been sent to Slovak par-liament, is much stricter than the one proposed by the Czech government, setting the stage for yet another political conflict between the Czech and the Slovak republics. (Peter Matuska) HUNGARIAN MINORITY LAW CRITICIZED BY ETHNIC GERMANS. Geza Hambuch, the chairman of the Association of Germans in Hungary, called the draft minority law recently approved by the Hungarian government "unacceptable," DPA reported on 6 March. The draft law fails to fulfill the demands of minorities for cultural autonomy and representation in parliament, Hambuch said. He pointed out that German-language education from kindergarten through high school would be necessary in order to revive the German language, which in the past decades has become a "grandmother language . . . spoken only by elderly people." Hambuch called for an expansion of the German-language school system and for more radio and TV time for German-language programs. There are over 200,000 Germans in Hungary. (Edith Oltay) NASTASE ON ROMANIAN-HUNGARIAN RELATIONS. Romanian Foreign Minister Adrian Nastase has called relations between Romania and Hungary "unsatisfactory," Rompres reported on 5 March. Nastase said that from a number of signals, especially in the past two years, Romanians get the feeling that Hungary is trying to create an international climate receptive to Hungarian notions of a "peaceful" modification of the boundaries between the two countries. Nastase called for a good-neighbor treaty in which the two countries would renounce territorial claims on each other now and in the future. (Crisula Stefanescu) NEW ELECTIONS IN IASI. Emil Alexandrescu, elected mayor of Iasi on the National Salvation Front ticket in the 23 February election runoff, died of a heart attack on 5 March, Radio Bucharest reports. Iasi is the largest of the very few cities which the NSF won in local elections. According to Viitorul romanesc on 28 February Alexandrescu had decided to quit the party. Radio Bucharest announced on 5 March that new elections will be called. (Crisula Stefanescu) CHANGES AT BULGARIA'S FOREIGN MINISTRY. The Council of Ministers on 5 March decided on a number of issues concerning the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, BTA reports. It approved proposals made by Foreign Minister Stoyan Ganev on changes in the basic functions and tasks of the ministry and a 25% reduction in the central staff, from 780 to 580. Ganev had repeatedly announced his intention to trim the staff and had dismissed numerous senior officials, two of whom staged a hunger strike a month ago in protest. Another of the new decisions bans members of the national intelligence service from work in the central administration of the Foreign Ministry. The government also empowered Ganev to take the lead on Bulgaria's association with the European Community. (Rada Nikolaev) BULGARIAN MINERS TO STRIKE? The national strike committee of miners at the Confederation of Labor Podkrepa was reported by 24 chasa on 5 March as saying it would decide on 6 March whether to resume the strikes it discontinued last August. It is protesting a government decision of 29 December 1991 to discontinue, for reasons of eco-logy, production of lead in Bulgaria. On 6 March 24 chasa published data on the ecological damage in the area of the lead plant near Plovdiv. (Rada Nikolaev)
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