|When we can begin to take our failures non-seriously, it means we are ceasing to be afraid of them. It is of immense importance to learn to laugh at ourselves. - Katherine Mansfield|
No. 48, 10 March 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR AZERBAIJANI POPULAR FRONT CALLS FOR DISSOLUTION OF PARLIAMENT. The Azerbaijani Popular Front called on 9 March for the dissolution of parliament and transfer of legislative power to the 50-man National Council. A parliament session scheduled for 10 March was postponed, western news agencies reported on 9 March. (Liz Fuller) BOMB ATTACK IN WESTERN GEORGIA. Three policemen were killed and several wounded in a bomb explosion and subsequent attack on police headquarters in the west Georgian town of Zugdidi by 50-60 supporters of ousted Georgian president Zviad Gamsakhurdia, ITAT-TASS reported on 9 March. (Liz Fuller) CONFUSION SURROUNDS ARMENIAN ATTACK ON CIS BASE. The Armenian government denied claims by a CIS military spokesman that Armenian militants had killed Soviet soldiers in an attempt on 8 March to steal weapons from a CIS anti-aircraft base in Western Armenia. An Armenian presidential spokesman claimed that the attackers were Armenian refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh seeking weapons to defend themselves against Azerbaijanis, according to The Los Angeles Times of 10 March. (Liz Fuller) MOSCOW GOVERNMENT DENIES PERMISSION FOR MARCH 17 RALLY. The office of the Moscow mayor denied a request from pro-Communist opposition groups to hold a mass rally on Manezh Square on 17 March, Radio Mayak reported on 9 March. The radio quoted a memorandum signed by the deputy mayor Yurii Luzhkov saying that the rally was meant to support a meeting of the USSR Congress of People's Deputies, disbanded after the Minsk agreement in December. The memorandum stressed that attempts to reconvene the congress were proclaimed unconstitutional by the Russian parliament. Luzhkov also said rally organizers offered "insufficient guarantees" with regard to ensuring public order. He also cited violence during a rally held by the same groups on 23 February. (Vera Tolz) RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT'S PRESIDIUM DISCUSSES DRAFT CONSTITUTION. One of the main topics on the agenda of the Russian parliament's presidium on 9 March was the draft Russian constitution to be submitted to the Congress of People's Deputies opening on 6 April, the Russian media reported. At a press conference afterwards Oleg Rumyantsev, the secretary of the Constitutional Commission, said that a preliminary draft would be published next week, and the official text immediately before the congress. Participants in the press conference foresaw sharp debate on the draft, but said it should at least be adopted on the first reading. If not, it should be submitted to a referendum. (Ann Sheehy) THE DRAFT CONSTITUTION AND THE REPUBLICS. Rumyantsev repeated that the constituent republics of the Russian Federation were prepared to support the draft after some further reworking, but the adoption of the constitution must be preceded by agreement on the delimitation of powers between the center and the republics. Ruslan Khasbulatov, chairman of the Russian parliament, said there would be a meeting of the republican parliamentary chairmen on 12 March, after which the process of signing the federal treaty would start. These statements would seem to be rather sanguine in view of the position of Tatarstan and the situation in Checheno-Ingushetia. Moreover, "Novosti" reported on 9 March that the Bashkortostan parliament had rejected the draft Russian constitution. (Ann Sheehy) RUSSIAN LEADERSHIP DECLARES WAR ON CORRUPTION. Declaring a war on corruption, First Deputy Premier Genadii Burbulis ordered all law enforcement agencies to urgently work out a joint program of action against corruption. Speaking at the conference of senior officers of 3 ministries, the State Procuracy, the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service and the Committee for Protection of Russian Economic Interests, Burbulis outlined the goals of the bodies during privatization, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 March. Areas of likely corruption include military property abroad and the trade in oil, gold, and diamonds. The other First Deputy Premier, Egor Gaidar, had said previously that the fight against corruption has become the top priority of the government. This fight had previously been proclaimed one of the country's major goals by former general secretary Yurii Andropov-- without success. (Viktor Yasmann & Alexander Rahr) RUSSIAN WARNING ON NATIONAL CURRENCIES. Reuters on 9 March claimed that it had obtained an unsigned Russian government document that warns other CIS members against introducing their own currencies without prior consultation. Russia is said to require republics that are planning to issue their own currencies to surrender 80% of the rubles in circulation on their territories. The balance would be credited to republic accounts at the Russian Central Bank; (unspecified) action would be taken against republics that overdraw their accounts. (Keith Bush) POLAND, RUSSIA AGREE TO TREATY TEXT. ITAR-TASS reported on 6 March that Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev and Polish Foreign Minister Krzysztof Skubiszewski met in Copenhagen that day to plan for a Russian-Polish summit to discuss concrete questions related to bilateral relations. The report also said that the two ministers had reached agreement on the text of a treaty of friendship and good-neighborly relations for signing by Boris Yeltsin and Lech Walesa. (Suzanne Crow) KOZYREV IN BELGIUM. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev held talks in Brussels with EC Commission President Jacques Delors and with the Belgian foreign minister on 9 March. Russia and Belgium signed a joint declaration pledging to seek friendly relations. On 10 March, Kozyrev took part in the special session of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, ITAR-TASS reported. (Suzanne Crow) MILITARY AGENDA FOR CIS SUMMIT IN KIEV. Twelve draft agreements on military forces in the CIS have been prepared for the scheduled CIS summit on March 20 in Kiev, Radio Ukraina and BELTA-TASS reported on 9 March. It is hoped, above all, that commonwealth leaders will reach agreement on a list that has been prepared by the high command of the joint CIS armed forces defining those military formations and installations that are to be included in the strategic forces and those that are to be part of general purpose forces. Due to especially sharp disagreements, a proposed accord on financial contributions to a single military budget has not yet been finalized, BELTA-TASS added. (Kathy Mihalisko) EX-SOVIET ARMY OFFICERS TRAIN AZERI FORCES. Ukrainian officers of the former Soviet Army stationed in Azerbaijan, have started to help Azerbaijan set up its own army, The Financial Times reported on 10 March. They have asked the Ukrainian government for permission to work under contract for the Azerbaijan defense ministry to train new Azeri troops. The Azerbaijan army will recruit volunteers from its own state and a corps of volunteers from other former Soviet republics. (Alexander Rahr) PYANKOV ON DIVIDING UP THE TROOPS. Col. Gen. Boris Pyankov, director of a group of CIS military experts tasked with resolving troop disputes with republican governments, told Krasnaya zvezda on 7 March that the former Soviet army should be divided up in a "civilized" manner. Pyankov also said that in the Soviet Union the best troops and facilities had been located in the Western republics, and that this fact explained Ukraine's hastiness to claim all the military assets on its territory. He added that the creation of national armies by other republics could easily force Russia to create its own army. Pyankov's remarks were summarized by ITAR-TASS. (Stephen Foye) ZAPOROZHIAN COSSACKS APPEAL TO KRAVCHUK. Izvestiya, quoted by Radio Rossiya, reported on 9 March that Zaporozhian Cossacks have appealed to President Leonid Kravchuk for inclusion of an article "On the Revival of Cossackry" in Ukraine's new constitution, which is still in the draft stages. The report went on to say that the Association of Zaporozhian Cossacks now has 100,000 members and is planning to open a boarding school. The Cossacks already have formed a mounted guard to keep watch over Khortitsa, the historical Sich, or base, of the Zaporozhians. (Kathy Mihalisko) SOUTHWESTERN TVD DISBANDED, SITE TAKEN OVER BY MOLDOVA. The command of the former USSR's Southwestern Military Theater, based in Chisinau, is being formally disbanded during these days and its premises are being taken over by the Moldovan Defense Ministry, Moldovan officials told RFE/RL by telephone on 8 and 9 March. The CIS staff has already left the premises. Although much of its equipment has recently been spirited away to Russia, Moldova is still inheriting a great deal of electronic and communications equipment. (Vladimir Socor) CHISINAU HAS NEW COMMANDER. Exercising his authority as commander in chief of military forces in Moldova, President Mircea Snegur has recently dismissed the commander of the Chisinau garrison, Col. Gen. Vladlen Kolesov of the CIS forces, appointing the Moldovan Maj. Gen. Tudor Dabija to that position, Moldovan officials told RFE/RL by telephone on 8 and 9 March. (Vladimir Socor) TATARSTAN PARLIAMENT ISSUES STATEMENT ON REFERENDUM. In connection with the Russian parliament's objections to the Tatarstan referendum, the Tatarstan parliament adopted an appeal to the people of Tatarstan on 7 March, ITAR-TASS reported on 8 March. The appeal maintained that "the question being put to referendum [on 21 March] does not envisage either the secession or the non-secession of Tatarstan from Russia." According to Radio Rossii on 9 March, the Tatarstan parliamentary opposition objected to this interpretation of the question, which they said had no legislative validity, and were demanding an extraordinary session of the parliament. (Ann Sheehy) PROTEST MEETING AGAINST TATARSTAN REFERENDUM. Between 150 and 500 opponents of the referendum staged a demonstration in Kazan on 7 April, "Vesti" and Radio Mayak reported. They adopted a resolution condemning the decision to hold the referendum and complaining that the question was equivocal and incomprehensible for most voters. The Western media had reported on 5 March that the Russian Constitutional Court will meet on 12 March to consider the constitutionality of the Tatarstan parliament's decision to hold the referendum. (Ann Sheehy) MAYOR OF DUSHANBE ARRESTED. Dushanbe mayor and Tajik Supreme Soviet deputy Maksud Ikramov was arrested on 6 March in the chamber of the Supreme Soviet after two-thirds of the deputies voted to lift his parliamentary immunity, TadzhikTA-TASS reported on 7 March. He had been accused of having taken bribes, although, according to a "Vesti" report on 8 March, a search of his apartment had turned up only 10,000 rubles, $2, and several Iranian rials. Ikramov sanctioned the removal of the largest statue of Lenin in Dushanbe during anti-Communist demonstrations in September, 1991, and his arrest is probably part of the ruling Communist Party's campaign to discredit the opposition. (Bess Brown) IRAN AND TURKMENISTAN SIGN FOOD FOR COTTON DEAL. A Western news agency, quoting the Iranian news agency IRNA, reported on 5 March that the Iranian Foundation for the Oppressed and War-Disabled has signed an agreement with the head of Turkmenistan's Foreign Trade Committee to barter 211 tons of food for 100 tons of Turkmen cotton. Another agreement signed in Ashkhabad provides for Iran and Turkmenistan to exchange goods worth $60 million by the end of 1992, IRNA reported. (Bess Brown) AKAEV DEFENDS PRICE INCREASES. Kyrgyz president Askar Akaev has defended January's price increases as a key step in lessening Kyrgzystan's dependence on Russia and other CIS states, Radio Rossii reported on 5 March. He pointed out that in 1991 Kyrgyzstan had imported 5.2 billion rubles' worth of goods from what are now the countries of the CIS, more than half of which came from Russia. As a part of the "ruble zone," Kyrgyzstan was affected by the financial shenanigans of other states. (Bess Brown) DEFENSE OF THE PATRIARCH. On 2 March Izvestiya published an article by Andrei Kuraev, the personal advisor of Patriarch Aleksii II of Moscow and all Russia. Kuraev quotes a letter, Aleksii had written in 1985 when he was the Metropolitan of Tallinn and Estonia to Secretary General of the CPSU, Mikhail Gorbachev. Aleksii asked Gorbachev to grant the Church more possibilities to increase its activities in fighting various defects and illnesses in society. Kuraev saw this as proof that Aleksii had always tried to strengthen and increase the Church's sphere of influence. (Oxana Antic) KRISHNAS FLOURISHING IN RUSSIA. The Hare Krishna movement has become Moscow's "most visible religious sect," The Chicago Tribune reported on 8 March. Hare Krishnas claim to have sold 5 million books during the last two years, and they say that the Moscow Hare Krishna center receives 3,000 letters a day. (Oxana Antic) EASTERN EUROPE BALTIC STATES LITHUANIAN SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY CONFERENCE. On 7 March the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party held a conference in Vilnius, the RFE Lithuanian Service reports. Party chairman Aloyzas Sakalas criticized the laws on the return of property and land reform as causing a fall in production. He called on the Supreme Council to pass a reorganization and reconstruction program for economic reform. He said that the Social Democrats should help form a center coalition among the parliament's factions. The conference passed a resolution on the political situation and guidelines for party activities, with particular attention paid to economic problems and social welfare. It urged that diplomatic relations with Russia be based on the 1920 treaty between the two states. (Saulius Girnius) EX-SOVIET MILITARY MAY EXCHANGE APARTMENTS IN LATVIA. The Latvian government has decided to allow ex-Soviet military personnel to exchange their apartments in Latvia for apartments of their choice in Russia or elsewhere, provided that the apartment in Latvia is made available to Latvians returning to their homeland from regions of the former USSR. This decision will be effective until such a time that an accord on the withdrawal of armed forces of the USSR from Latvia is ratified, BNS reported on 5 March. (Dzintra Bungs) ACADEMY IN LATVIA RESISTS TRANSFER. Officers of the aviation engineering school in Daugavpils have decided to disregard the order of Marshal Evgenii Shaposhnikov to transfer the school to Engels, Russia. After visiting Engels, the officers found the city lacks both the infrastructure and housing needed for such a school, its staff, and students. Officers' representatives have gone to Moscow to resolve the problems there, BNS reported on 6 March. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIAN FACTORY WANTS ITS DOLLARS BACK. The Daugavpils Chemical Fiber Plant has asked the Russian arbiters' office to intervene in helping it get back the more than $1 million that it had deposited in Vneshekonombank. The bank was supposed to transfer the money from the Daugavpils plant account to pay for manufacturing equipment from the Japanese firm Marubeni but failed to do so. The Japanese firm has agreed to accept goods manufactured by the Daugavpils plant as payment for the debt, BNS reported on 4 March. (Dzintra Bungs) BIRTH RATE DECLINES IN LATVIA. Latvijas Jaunatne of 13 February published statistical information about Latvia in 1991 showing that the number of births (35,413) barely exceeded the number of deaths (34,751) and suggesting that the downward population trend that began in 1987, when 42,365 births and 32,135 deaths were recorded, is continuing. In 1991 23,341 marriages were performed as compared with 25,539 in 1987. The respective figures for divorces were 11,019 and 11,037. There has been a decline in the number of unwed mothers: in 1991 there 1,891, in 1987--3,408. (Dzintra Bungs) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE MASSIVE PROTESTS IN BELGRADE. German TV reported on 9 March that about 40,000 people took part in antigovernment protests in the Serbian capital. Opposition leader Vuk Draskovic called for making "Serbia a frozen country" through strikes against President Slobodan Milosevic's policies. He added that Milosevic has ruined Serbia by fighting a costly but unsuccessful war that has left the country isolated: "we don't have a friend in the world." The demonstrations were called to mark the anniversary of last year's protests, which at their height drew out 200,000 people. (Patrick Moore) BOSNIAN AND OTHER TALKS CONTINUE IN BRUSSELS. Western media said on 10 March that some progress had been made in two sets of talks in Brussels dealing with the former Yugoslavia. One round of discussions involves the six former republics in peace talks and also will deal with dividing the property as well as the legal rights and obligations of the former federation. The second round brings together the Muslim, Serb, and Croat community leaders of Bosnia-Herzegovina to discuss that republic's future organization. The likely outcome is a compromise that will keep the republic intact, as the Muslims want, but will also give broad self-rule within it, in the manner of Swiss cantons, which the Serbs consider essential. In other developments, the 10 March Vecernji list reports that Iran has recognized Bosnia, Croatia, and Slovenia. The Zagreb daily repeats recent speculation in the Croatian press that the US may soon change its policy toward the Yugoslav area. The BBC and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung note continued cease-fire violations not only around Osijek, but near Dubrovnik, Sibenik, Split, and Zadar as well. (Patrick Moore) WOERNER: EAST EUROPEAN STATES COULD JOIN NATO. NATO Secretary-General Manfred Woerner said Poland and other former communist states might eventually be accepted into NATO but not in the immediate future. On 9 March, two days before his visit to Warsaw, he told PAP that NATO's relations with Poland and other Eastern countries are part of "a dynamic process that progresses with time." At the end of that process there will be a "possibility" of membership. Warsaw's participation in the NATO Cooperation Council has already "visibly improved Poland's security situation," he concluded. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Krzysztof Skubiszewski described his trip to an extraordinary meeting of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council in Brussels as a key element of the standing cooperation between Warsaw and European structures. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) SECOND CSCE MISSION TO CIS. Czechoslovakia, which currently holds the rotating CSCE chair, is organizing a second mission to the CIS, an RFE correspondent reports. The Foreign Ministry said the mission would leave from Turkey on 10 March for a week-long trip to Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. The mission's members will meet government officials, opposition leaders, and representatives of various ethnic communities. A first CSCE mission is now visiting Ukraine, Moldova, and Belarus. (Peter Matuska) WALESA, OLSZEWSKI TALK. On 9 March President Lech Walesa met with Prime Minister Jan Olszewski to discuss the Sejm's rejection of the government's economic program on 5 March, PAP reports. Presidential spokesman Andrzej Drzycimski said that Walesa stressed the need to broaden the governmental coalition as a parliamentary base for Olszewski's cabinet. According to Drzycimski, the necessity to broaden the coalition results from Sejm's rejection of Olszewski's sociopolitical points. The two leaders also discussed the draft budget. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) HAVEL CALLS FOR REVIEW OF SCREENING LAW. On 9 March the Czechoslovak president called for a review of the controversial screening law barring people linked to the former communist regime from holding governmental posts, Reuters reports. Havel said he was not surprised at international pressure on Czechoslovakia to scrap the law and said he hopes such pressure will force parliament to reconsider it and request a Constitutional Court ruling. The International Labor Organization had found that the law violates labor rights and has called for it to be abolished or amended. The Council of Europe has also criticized it as being too broad. (Peter Matuska) GONCZ PROPOSES FACT-FINDING COM-MITTEE. In response to the Constitutional Court's rejection of a law that sought to lift the statute of limitations on crimes committed by the communists, President Arpad Goncz has asked parliament to set up a committee to uncover and detail, by naming names and pointing out specific instances, the political crimes committed in the period between 21 December 1944 and 23 October 1989, MTI reports. Goncz said the committee's findings should be made public even though no legal action would be taken, because "the Hungarian people has the right to know its own history." Goncz is apparently responding to public disappointment over the court's rejection of the bill and has called on all political parties to support his recommendation. (Karoly Okolicsanyi) HUNGARIAN-SLOVENIAN MILITARY TALKS. Slovenian Defense Minister Janez Jansa and his Hungarian counterpart Lajos Fur discussed the preparation of a military agreement between the two states in Budapest, MTI reports. Regular meetings and the exchange of military attaches were proposed, but weapons sales were not discussed. Jansa said that given the relative inexperience of Slovenia in military matters, all help is welcome. (Karoly Okolicsanyi) ROMANIA DENIES INVOLVEMENT IN MOLDOVA FIGHTING. The Romanian Foreign Ministry denied a story on Russian and CIS (Ostankino) TV that Romanians have joined the fight in Moldova's Dniestr region against the Russian-speaking minority that has proclaimed a separate republic there. The Russian report claimed that 28 Romanians had died in the fighting and their bodies had been brought back to Romania. The Romanian Foreign Ministry on 9 March called the allegations "obvious disinformation" and detrimental to Romanian-Russian relations. (Mihai Sturdza) DEMOCRATS RALLY IN BUCHAREST. Under the slogan "Justice and Bread," the Democratic Opposition Party organized a rally in Bucharest's Revolution Square on 7 March. Party leader Dumitru Dinca called on all opposition parties to support the unity of the Democratic Convention (DC) and announced that his party, founded in January 1992, adheres to the convention, Rompres reports. (Crisula Stefanescu) RISING INTERNATIONAL STANDING OF ROMANIA'S OPPOSITION. Paris Mayor Jacques Chirac congratulated Crin Halaicu, recently elected as mayor of Bucharest on the DC ticket, and expressed hope that they might meet soon. Nicolae Manolescu, leader of the Civic Alliance Party and for the time being the only DC candidate for the forthcoming presidential elections, plans travel to Paris to meet leading French political figures. A spokesman for the National Liberal Party said that the leaders of four of the opposition parties making up the DC will pay a visit to the US at the invitation of the State Department. (Mihai Sturdza) CBI CONFERENCE ON BUSINESS IN ROMANIA. On 9 March the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) held a conference on business and investment in Romania, Rompres reports. Industry Minister Dan Constantinescu addressed the gathering. The CBI has pointed out that Romania offers business opportunities in many sectors, and recent reforms have made it an increasingly attractive partner for trade and investment. (Crisula Stefanescu) BULGARIA'S PATRIARCH TO BE DISMISSED. The Directorate on Religious Faiths has stated that Patriarch Maxim, head of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church since 1971, was not elected in conformity with the statutes of the Church and declared his election invalid. In a statement addressed to the Holy Synod, quoted by BTA on 9 March, the directorate pointed out that the National Church Council, which according to statute is to be held every four years, had not been convened for 38 years. The directorate called on the Holy Synod to make arrangements for a regular election of a patriarch. The statement accused the Holy Synod of having acted arbitrarily in order to please "those whose goal it was to annihilate the faith and the church of the Bulgarian people." (Rada Nikolaev)
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.