Fear of life in one form or another is the great thing to exorcise. - William James
RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 47, 09 March 1992



SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR

MUTALIBOV RESIGNS. Yielding to intense pressure from Azerbaijani
militants incensed by recent Armenian successes in Nagorno-Karabakh,
President Ayaz Mutalibov submitted his resignation on 6 March
to an extraordinary session of the Azerbaijani parliament, CIS
and Western media reported. Mutalibov's powers were temporarily
transferred to parliament chairman Yakub Mamedov and the country's
cabinet was dissolved. Prime Minister Gasan Gasanov was instructed
to submit candidates to form a new government within 10 days.
Mutalibov's resignation, celebrated by his critics in the streets
of Baku on the night of 6 March, is expected to result in an
escalation of the fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan. In
his short resignation speech, Mutalibov said he feared "there
might be some aggression against our people." (Kathy Mihalisko)


FIGHTING CONTINUES. Armenian Defense Minister Vazgen Sarkisyan
told Reuter on 7 March that Azerbaijani forces launched a large-scale
tank and infantry assault on the town of Askeran in Nagorno-Karabakh
on 6 March, resulting in numerous casualties. Azerbaijani and
Armenian spokesmen in Moscow later announced, according to Western
media reports, that Armenian forces halted the offensive on 7
March. Despite a plea for negotiations by interim president Yakub
Mamedov on 8 March, fighting raged throughout the disputed enclave
over the weekend, particularly in the Askeran and Shaumyanov
areas, according to ITAR-TASS on 8 March. Baku media reported
on 8 March that the Azerbaijani town of Agdam had come under
heavy shelling. (Kathy Mihalisko)

ARMENIA ACCUSES CIS, TURKEY. Armenians officials have accused
former Soviet army troops of aiding the Azerbaijani side in the
attack on Askeran, Los Angeles Times reported on 8 March. The
head of the Armenian parliamentary commission on Nagorno-Karabakh
was quoted as saying that Turkey is trying to spread its influence
among the Muslim republics but that Armenia and Karabakh "are
in the way." Another politician, Vahan Shirkhanyan, accused Turkey
of fabricating stories of Armenian atrocities. Radio Moscow said
on 8 March that the planned opening of a new border crossing
between Armenia and Turkey has been postponed indefinitely. (Kathy
Mihalisko)

"DNIESTER" ACTIVISTS BRIEFLY SEIZE ARMY COMMAND. The new commander
of the 14th Army of the CIS, Maj. Gen. Yurii Netkachev, and his
entire command staff were held prisoner for 12 hours in their
headquarters in Tiraspol by hundreds of "Dniester Republic" activists
who managed to break in during the night of 6 to 7 March, Moscow
and Moldovan media reported. The activists included the leaders
of the Joint Council of Work Collectives (OSTK, the strongest
political force on the left bank of the Dniester) and the Womens'
Strike Committee. They demanded that the 14th Army turn over
its armament and vehicles to the "Dniester republic" and that
the military personnel be assigned to "guard the borders" of
the would-be republic. The command turned down the demands and
was released from detention after negotiations with "Dniester
republic president" Igor Smirnov. In a follow-up statement, Netkachev
said that he would never take orders from what he termed "the
so-called Dniester republic." (Vladimir Socor)

SHEVARDNADZE RETURNS TO GEORGIA. Vowing to help Georgians as
much as he possibly can, former Soviet foreign minister Eduard
Shevardnadze returned to his native Georgia on 7 March for what
he said will be an indefinite stay, according to Western and
CIS media. He was met at the airport by two leaders of the anti-Gamsakhurdia
forces, Jaba Ioseliani and Tengiz Kitovani, and a mob of well-wishers.
On 8 March Shevardnadze, speaking from Tbilisi, appealed for
Western aid for Georgia. (Kathy Mihalisko)

DRAFT BUDGET FOR 1992 PREPARED. For the last six months, the
Russian government has been projecting its budget quarter by
quarter due to the instability in the Russian and CIS macroeconomy.
An ITAR-TASS report of 6 March indicates that the government
has projected a draft budget through the end of the year. Total
budget spending for the year is estimated at about 2.1 trillion
rubles and total incomes at 1.9 trillion rubles. The projected
deficit of about 242 billion rubles is equal to 3.6% of the projected
GNP of 6.4 trillion rubles for 1992. (John Tedstrom)

BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS. According to the ITAR-TASS report, the year's
budget is based on replacing the system of enterprise profit
payments with a corporate income tax, increased exports of fuel
and other raw materials, and a unified customs duty. Expenditures
on military equipment are to be cut by 3.5 times in real terms
(1991 expenditures were reported at 39.65 billion rubles and
the 1992 budget assigns only 11.2 billion). Thus far, the 1992
budget is running "practically without a deficit" according to
government officials, but remittances from foreign economic activity
and the new value added tax are not being collected as thoroughly
as had been hoped. (John Tedstrom)

RETAIL PRICES OF MORE STAPLE FOODSTUFFS PARTIALLY FREED. A Russian
government decree on retail prices, signed by Boris Yeltsin in
his capacity of prime minister, was issued on 7 March, ITAR-TASS
reported. It gave local authorities throughout Russia the authority
to "abolish the maximum coefficients of price increases" for
such staples as bread, milk, kefir, low-fat cottage cheese, sugar,
vegetable oil, salt, and matches. The decree recommended that
the funds freed by the liberalization of prices should be diverted
to the "funds of social protection of the population." This further
liberalization is in line with the Economic Policy Memorandum
of 27 February and also with IMF recommendations. (Keith Bush)


HEALTH DANGERS FROM STREET VENDORS. In the latest issue of Zhizn,
the weekly supplement to Izvestiya, Moscow's chief sanitary officer,
Irina Piskareva, warned of possible health hazards from some
foods sold by street vendors, Reuters reported on 8 March. Piskareva
said that a recent check on small private markets around Moscow
found that some vendors were selling meat from dogs and cats
to unsuspecting buyers. Many cases of contaminated foods were
found, and many selling places were infested with rats. She described
the situation as "very serious," with many cases of food poisoning
being reported. (Keith Bush)

YELTSIN DECREE ON TROOPS. Russian President Boris Yeltsin signed
a decree on 4 March that transferred former Soviet troops in
Germany, Poland, Mongolia, and Cuba to Russia's jurisdiction,
Interfax reported on 6 March. Russian State Defense Committee
Chairman Colonel General Pavel Grachev was reportedly named Plenipotentiary
on questions relating to the presence of Russian troops in these
countries. (Stephen Foye)

OFFICERS OPPOSE YELTSIN REFORMS. Only 17% of former Soviet army
officers support Yeltsin's reform plans, while 56% disapprove,
Krasnaya zvezda reported on 6 March. The soldiers polled belonged
to ten regiments based in Russia. Poll results also indicated,
however, that some 90% of those queried believed that governing
Russia should be left to professional politicians. That finding
would seem to contradict an earlier poll, taken at the 17 January
All-Army Officers Assembly, which suggested that a majority of
officers were ready to take military-political questions into
their own hands. (Stephen Foye)

KOZYREV ON ARMS; BARGAINS IN SPAIN. Russian Foreign Minister
Andrei Kozyrev, speaking in Denmark on 7 March, criticized the
Soviet Union for selling arms on an ideological basis and too
cheaply, Reuter reported. He said that Russia would henceforth
sell weapons only to stable, normal governments, including NATO
states. Meanwhile, Reuter reported on 8 March that second-hand
military hardware from the former Soviet Union will be auctioned
off in May at a base in northeastern Spain. Assault helicopters
can be had cheaply, as well as fighter aircraft and possibly
even warships. The sale was reported by the Diari de Barcelona
newspaper, which said that middle eastern countries were expected
to make a number of purchases. (Stephen Foye)

GORBACHEV SAYS RUSSIAN MEDIA IS BIASED. In an interview with
RFE/RL on 8 March, Mikhail Gorbachev criticized the current Russian
media for biased reporting. The former Soviet president said
that the Russian government was trying to impose censorship of
the media similar to the one that "existed under the CPSU." Therefore
Radio Liberty was still needed, Gorbachev said. (Vera Tolz)

RUSSIAN SCIENTISTS DENY "BRAIN-DRAIN" REPORTS. A group of nuclear
physicists from the CIS defended their integrity amid reports
of questionable job offers from Third-World nations, Reuters
reported on 6 March. The United States had expressed concerns
that countries wanting to develop nuclear weapons--such as Libya--might
try to recruit underpaid nuclear scientists from the CIS. The
scientists said that there was no more reason to question their
integrity than that of West European and US physicists. The statement
acknowledged the situation of scientists, including nuclear specialists,
in the CIS to be a cause for concern. It welcomed Russian and
Western initiatives to adapt their skills for peacetime uses.
(Vera Tolz)

STALINIST RALLIES IN MOSCOW. About a thousand Muscovites met
on 5 March in Red Square to mark the anniversary of their idol,
Josef Stalin, and to lay flowers on his grave (in the Kremlin
wall). According to Russian television, the admirers praised
Stalin for his struggle against the World Zionism and voiced
their firm conviction that sooner or later Stalinism would win
in the entire world. Later that day a small group of the extremist
movement "Vozrozghdenie," led by prominent Russian ultranationalist
Valerii Skurlatov, gathered at Pushkin Square to burn an effigy
of Boris Yeltsin, "Vesti" reported. The Skurlatovites were less
successful than the pure Stalinists, for the police confiscated
the effigy and arrested the rally's ringleaders. (Julia Wishnevsky)


ANOTHER PRO-COMMUNIST MEETING IN MOSCOW. Another pro-Communist
meeting was held in Moscow on 8 March to mark the international
women's day, Radio Moscow reported. The meeting, organized by
the Communist group "Edinstvo" (Unity), was attended by about
1,000 people. It adopted a resolution demanding the ouster of
Moscow mayor Gavriil Popov, his deputy Yurii Luzhkov and the
head of the Moscow police, Arkadii Murashev. (Vera Tolz)

TURKMENISTAN SIGNS GAS DEALS. Turkmenistan 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 electrical 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)


RUSSIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COMMISSION MEETS. Members of the Russian
Constitutional Commission meeting on 7 March expressed concern
lest Russia suffer the same fate as the Soviet Union, ITAR-TASS
reported. The secretary of the commission, Oleg Rumyantsev, dwelt
particularly on chapter 14 of the draft constitution which deals
with the powers of the federation, republics, krais, and oblasts.
According to Rumyantsev the difficult question of delimiting
powers could be resolved before the Congress of People's Deputies
meets on 6 April to discuss the new constitution, though full
agreement might not be reached with some republics. Rumyantsev
said the idea of organizing so-called "lands" (zemli) had been
dropped because the republics feared the lands would swallow
them up. (Ann Sheehy)

KOZYREV IN SCANDINAVIA. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev
held talks in Copenhagen on 7 March with Danish officials and
signed three documents: a joint communique on friendly relations
between Denmark and Russia, a protocol on consular ties, and
an agreement between Russia, Denmark, and Greenland on fishing
cooperation, ITAR-TASS reported. On 7 March, Kozyrev traveled
to Norway for where he signed (on 8 March) a joint protocol for
a working program to develop contacts and increase cooperation
between Russia and Norway. During talks between Kozyrev and Norway's
Foreign Minister Thorvald Stoltenberg, it was agreed that the
two countries would resume talks on their border dispute in the
Barents Sea with a new round of negotiations to begin in April
1992, ITAR-TASS reported. (Suzanne Crow)

CIS PUBLISHERS CONDEMN POLTORANIN. Knizhnoe obozrenie no. 4 contained
an appeal of the Association of Book Publishers of the Independent
States to the parliaments and presidents of the CIS member states.
The publishers say that the second congress of the Association
held in Moscow in January voted unanimously for no confidence
in Mikhail Poltoranin, the Russian Minister of the Mass Media
and Information, widely viewed as Yeltsin's closest associate.
The appeal accuses him of arbitrariness and systematic violations
of the law on entrepreneurship and other Russian laws by closing
down and expropriating publishing houses, firing their managers
without legal grounds and ignoring the opinions of the employees.
(Julia Wishnevsky)



EASTERN EUROPE

BALTIC STATES



LITHUANIA-RUSSIA TRADE AGREEMENTS SIGNED. On 6 March Prime Minister
Gediminas Vagnorius and Russian First Vice Premier Gennadii Burbulis
signed six mutual supply agreements, Radio Lithuania reports.
Russia agreed to send 3 million tons of oil, 4.1 billion cubic
meters of gas, 1,500 atomic fuel cassettes, and other goods valued
at $968 million, receiving in return 70,000 tons of meat, 400,000
tons of milk, industrial goods, and electricity for Kaliningrad.
Lithuania was also granted the right to purchase from Russian
enterprises goods worth $2.6 billion including an additional
2.5 million tons of oil and 110,000 tons of metals. Lithuania's
annual demand for these products is substantially higher, and
it is not yet clear how it will obtain them. (Saulius Girnius)


LANDSBERGIS CONTINUES JAPAN VISIT. On 6 March Lithuanian Supreme
Council Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis spoke at the opening of
an exhibition at the Sezon Museum of Art in Tokyo of Mykalojus
Konstantinas Ciurlionis (1875-1911), Lithuania's most famous
painter, about whose music and art Landsbergis has written extensively.
Together with International Relations Minister Vytenis Aleskaitis
he held talks with Japanese businessmen on trade and investments,
and on 7 March he met Foreign Minister Michio Watanabe, Radio
Lithuania reports. Throughout the visit Landsbergis has stressed
the urgency of the ex-Soviet troops to leave Lithuania. He said
he expects Lithuania to join the IMF in April and hopes that
a stabilization fund will be created to expedite the introduction
of Lithuania's currency, the litas. (Saulius Girnius)

TROOP WITHDRAWAL TALKS. On 6 March Lithuanian Supreme Council
deputy chairman Ceslovas Stankevicius, Lithuanian chief negotiator
for withdrawal of former Soviet troops, sent a telegram to his
Russian counterpart Sergei Shakhrai proposing 16 and 20 March
as dates for the second round of talks in Vilnius, Radio Lithuania
reports. (Saulius Girnius)

MILITARY BUILDING IN KAUNAS HANDED OVER. On 6 March a large crowd
gathered around the Military Officers Club in Kaunas demanding
that the military vacate the premises, the RFE Lithuanian Service
reports. After talks with Lithuanian officials, the CIS officers
agreed to hand over the building temporarily to the Lithuanian
National Defense Ministry until an agreement between Lithuania
and the Northwest Group of Forces on the its fate is concluded.
On 7 March Kaunas District Military commander Maj. Virginijus
Vilkelis said that his troops were guarding the building in accordance
with the September 1991 government directive on military property.
(Saulius Girnius)

GENSCHER PROPOSES BALTIC UNIVERSITY. At the conference of the
Baltic Sea States in Copenhagen, Germany's Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich
Genscher proposed the creation of a Baltic European university
in either Estonia, Latvia, or Lithuania. Genscher envisages the
university as receiving funding from the European Community and
as specializing in law, administration, and economics, Western
agencies reported on 6 March. It is not clear if Genscher received
his inspiration from the Baltic University that existed in the
north German town of Pinneberg after World War II. (Dzintra Bungs)


BALTIC MINORITY RIGHTS OFFICE TO BE ESTABLISHED? Responding to
observations by Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev and Polish
Foreign Minister Kryzstof Skubiszewski about problems of minorities
in the countries around the Baltic Sea, the newly established
Council of the Baltic Sea States will probably consider these
issues in the near future. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Algirdas
Saudargas, while denying Kozyrev's accusations that the Baltic
States are violating the rights of their Russian-speaking minorities,
offered Vilnius as home for a minority rights office. Other foreign
ministers pointed out that the new council should not duplicate
the work of the CSCE, Western agencies reported on 6 March. (Dzintra
Bungs)

THE CHECK'S IN THE MAIL? Estonia's Ambassador to Russia Juri
Kahn told BNS on 6 March that he had not yet received an invitation
to come the Russian Foreign Ministry to clarify Estonia's new
citizenship application law . BNS reported earlier that Russia's
Foreign Ministry had already formally summoned Kahn to the Kremlin.
(Riina Kionka)

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

UPDATE ON FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. Austrian TV reported on 8 March
that the federal army shelled Osijek for several hours the previous
night. The BBC on 9 March quoted UN peace-keepers as saying that
they are determined to go ahead with their mission nonetheless.
Two important events are slated for 9 March: the resumption of
the EC-sponsored peace talks in Brussels and an antigovernment
protest in Belgrade. The object of the planned demonstrations,
Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, was injured in a car accident
on 8 March and will not be joining in the Brussels talks; he
will be represented by his foreign minister. Meanwhile, the 9
March Vecernji list reports that Croatia plans to seek membership
in UNESCO in conjunction with plans to rebuild and restore Dubrovnik,
which Serbian and federal forces shelled last year. Over the
weekend the German and Austrian media reported that a tense peace
continues in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina. (Patrick
Moore)

OLSZEWSKI: NO ALTERNATIVE FOR GOVERNMENT PROGRAM. Polish Prime
Minister Jan Olszewski told a news conference on 6 March that
his government will not resign despite the rejection of his economic
program in the Sejm on 5 March, Polish and Western media reported.
Olszewski said the Sejm vote was ambiguous and the result more
of a political game than a difference of opinion on substance.
He said he would draft a new budget and submit it to the Sejm
by 23 March. The provisional budget for the first quarter of
1992 is a holdover from the previous government. Olszewski said
he will treat the next vote on the budget as an issue of confidence
and will resign if it goes against him. Speaking on Polish TV
on 8 March Olszewski said "there is currently no alternative
to the government economic program" a situation he finds regrettable,
since "in a democracy a government should not be facing situations
where there are no alternatives." (Roman Stefanowski)

BUSH WRITES WALESA. On 6 March President Lech Walesa's press
office released a summary of a letter US President George Bush
wrote him on 28 February inquiring how he could help Poland,
Polish and Western media report. In his letter Bush said he understands
that the Poles are anxious about their economic future, but they
must understand that the key issue for them is attracting foreign
investment, essential for job creation and the integration of
the Polish economy with that of the world. Bush offered to send
a team of experienced US business experts to advise on attracting
investments, but he also stressed that it is vital for Poland
"to return to the economic program supported by the IMF." The
letter refers to Walesa's speech to the European Parliamentary
Assembly in Strasbourg on 4 February, in which, disappointed
with the level of Western help, Walesa accused the West of deluging
Poland with consumer goods but refusing to undertake major investments.
(Roman Stefanowski)

SLOVAK CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATS SPLIT. On 7 March the Christian Democratic
Movement in Slovakia split into two factions because of differences
over Slovakia's relationship within the federal Czechoslovak
state, an RFE correspondent reported. The new faction, called
Slovak Christian Democratic Movement, is led by Slovak parliament
Deputy Chairman Jan Klepac, who opposed the Slovak government's
position in favor of a negotiated agreement with the Czechs on
the structure of Czechoslovakia and joined with the opposition
in refusing to support any agreement before the elections. Both
parties said they would remain in the Slovak government coalition
to avoid a governmental crisis. (Peter Matuska)

THREE SLOVAK GROUPS HOLD UNIFICATION CONGRESS. On 7 March nearly
100 representatives of the Movement for an Independent Slovakia,
the Slovak People's Party, and the Slovak National Unification
Party held a congress to outline common goals. The congress called
for the creation of a pluralistic, democratic, and neutral Slovak
state. The Chairman of the Slovak Unification Party, Jan Veselovsky,
told the meeting that Slovak independence is not only an emotional
objective but also an economic necessity, an RFE correspondent
reported. (Peter Matuska)

SCREENING LAW CRITICIZED. On 6 March the International Labor
Organization called on Czechoslovakia to "scrap or change" the
law barring people linked to the former communist regime from
jobs in state bodies or private business, Reuters reports. The
ILO's ruling came in response to a report by two Czechoslovak
trade unions alleging that the law extends the principle of collective
guilt to tens of thousands of people probably largely innocent.
On 6 March Alexander Dubcek, chairman of the Czechoslovak parliament,
handed CSTK a letter from Catherine Lalumihre, secretary-general
of the Council of Europe, in which she says that the screening
law's restrictions "must be unequivocally applied on an individual,
not a collective basis." (Peter Matuska)

POLISH, CZECHOSLOVAK, HUNGARIAN DEFENSE MINISTERS MEET. The military
chiefs of the so-called Visegrad Triangle countries consulted
in Budapest on 6 March 1992, MTI reports. Military cooperation,
coordination of defense industries, plans for a joint air defense
system, and a possible common approach to NATO, were discussed.
The ministers were also received by Prime Minister Jozsef Antall.
The joint communiqui stated that the meeting was intended to
contribute to stability in Central and Eastern Europe and building
European security and was not directed against any one power.
(Karoly Okolicsanyi)

HEALTH WORKERS' DEMONSTRATION. About 30,000 nurses, doctors,
and other health workers staged a demonstration in Budapest on
7 March Saturday, MTI reports. The main trade union speaker demanded
an immediate 50% wage hike and government expenditure increases
for the health sector at a level matching inflation. Public Welfare
Minister Laszlo Surjan also addressed the crowd. The demonstration
was designed to underscore the union's demands in the wage negotiations
now under way. (Karoly Okolicsanyi)

ROMANIAN OPPOSITION SOUNDS ALARM ON MOLDOVA. In a statement circulated
by Rompres on 8 March, the Democratic Convention has urged the
government officially to denounce the recent fighting in Moldova
between Moldovans and Russian-speaking separatists in the self-declared
Dniester Republic and to proclaim "any attack against the integrity
of Moldova's people and territory an attack against Romanian
territory and citizens." The statement calls on the government
to offer Moldovans Romania citizenship without delay. President
Ion Iliescu supports Moldovan independence. (Crisula Stefanescu)


HIGH LEVEL CONSULTATIONS IN BULGARIA. President Zhelyu Zhelev
had a four-hour meeting on 6 March with top figures of the National
Coordinating Council and the parliamentary caucus of the ruling
UDF. The meeting appeared to have successfully reduced tensions.
Bulgarian dailies reported on 7 March that Zhelev reemphasized
his commitment to the UDF principles. Among the main issues discussed
were the separation of powers and the supervision of the special
services, which will be subject to parliamentary control and
a special law. Also discussed were the recent allegations that
Foreign Minister Stoyan Ganev and Ahmed Dogan, leader of the
Movement for Rights and Freedoms, gave lists of secret agents
to foreign embassies, but it was decided only make public all
relevant information in the case. It was decided to hold such
meetings about once a month. (Rada Nikolaev)

DUMA MAY STOP PUBLISHING. The BSP daily Duma has intensified
its campaign to stay in business. Its publishing house is under
threat of being confiscated on the basis of the law on party
property of 13 December 1991. On 6 March Duma reported that its
editor-in-chief, Stefan Prodev, had sent an open letter to French
President Mitterrand, complaining of the "attempt to liquidate
the largest opposition paper in Bulgaria." On 7 March it published
messages of support from functionaries of the International Organization
of Journalists. On 5 March BTA quoted Minister of Finance Ivan
Kostov as saying that the property of the newspapers affected
by the law--such as Trud and Zemedelsko zname in addition to
Duma--would be taken over by the state but would be made available
for reasonable rents. (Rada Nikolaev) As of 1200 CET


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