|Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov|
No. 49, 11 March 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR SHEVARDNADZE NAMED HEAD OF GEORGIAN STATE COUNCIL. On 10 March a joint meeting of the ruling Georgian Military Council and the Consultative Council decided to dissolve both bodies and create as a temporary legislative and executive body a State Council which Eduard Shevardnadze will head. Dzhaba Ioseliani, one of the co-chairmen of the Military Council, will serve as his deputy; acting Prime Minister Tengiz Sigua and Military Council co-chairman Tengiz Kitovani were also named members of the State Council, which is to begin work today, Russian and Western media reported. (Liz Fuller) NEW DIPLOMATIC INITIATIVE ON NAGORNO-KARABAKH. A meeting in Brussels of the North Atlantic Consultative Council on 10 March called upon the CSCE to make a new attempt to mediate in the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute. Czechoslovak Foreign Minister Jiri Dienstbier, whose country is currently CSCE chairman, immediately accepted and later held talks with the foreign ministers of both Armenia and Azerbaijan. Russia and Turkey have both endorsed the new initiative; the Russian Foreign Ministry has set up a 7-man working group on Nagorno-Karabakh, Interfax reported on 10 March. RIA on 10 March quoted Yeltsin's advisor on ethnic affairs, Galina Starovoitova, as arguing that Russia should recognize the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, which has requested CIS membership. (Joel Blocker/Liz Fuller) KAZAKHSTAN MUSLIMS URGED TO FIGHT IN NAGORNO-KARABAKH. The leadership of the Kazakh National-Democratic Party "Zheltoksan" has urged people to volunteer to defend Muslims "from Armenian militants" in Nagorno-Karabakh, Interfax reported on 10 March. Party chairman Hasan Kozhakmetov said he wants to discuss the issue with Kazakhstan president Nursultan Nazarbaev, and that, if government bodies refuse to provide material assistance, party activists will raise funds themselves. According to Kozhakhmetov, a congress of the Turkestan movement in Tashkent on 7 March also supported the idea of forming a Muslim battalion for action in Nagorno-Karabakh. (Ann Sheehy) COALMINERS' STRIKE POSTPONED. On 10 March, the Kuzbass Federation of Trade Union Organizations postponed for one day a general strike, originally scheduled for March 11, TASS and Radio Rossii reported. The strike had been called after a breakdown in talks with the Russian government over pay and other issues. The postponement was announced after the government promised to send a delegation to discuss the miners' demands. A separate group, the Council of Strike Committees, had disassociated itself from the strike call, accusing the Federation of seeking the downfall of Yeltsin's reform program. (Keith Bush) PILOTS' STRIKE THREATENED. The president of the Flight Crews Trade Union of Russia told RIA on March 10 that 70% of the flight crews at Russian airports had confirmed their intention to take part in the civil aviation pilots' strike scheduled for 20 March. Among the demands made by the civilian pilots are that their profession be granted special hardship status, that their pensions be indexed, and that collectives be given priority rights when state property is privatized. (Keith Bush) MORE PROJECTIONS OF OIL OUTPUT AND TRADE. The president of Rosneftgas, Lev Churilov, told Interfax on 10 March that Russian crude oil output this year is unlikely to exceed 360 million tons, well short of the 400 million tons planned. [Russian output of oil and gas condensate in 1991 was 461 million tons]. Churilov called for a temporary restoration of the old command lines to end what he called the "prevailing anarchy" in the oil sector. An independent Moscow consultant told The Journal of Commerce on 10 March that the republics of the former Soviet Union may be net importers of petroleum products this year, because of cutbacks in Russian crude to key refining regions, such as the Baltic states. (Keith Bush) GAIDAR TEAM STRENGTHENED? Kommersant of March 9 argues that the Gaidar team is settling in for the long haul after the initial "cavalry charge" of the shock-therapy reform. Valerii Makaradze's appointment strengthens the government's anti-corruption credentials; the appointment of Evgenii Yasin (an older reform economist who was in the 500 Days team as well as the Ryzhkov-Abalkin team, and more recently was with Arkady Volskii's Scientific-Industrial League) ends the boycott of the Gaidar team by more establishment-oriented economists. (Yasin is to present policies in parliament.) With Nechaev already taking a more senior role on the economy, Gaidar focuses on the top priority: finance. (Philip Hanson) BURBULIS AT RISK? The latest government re-shuffle in the Russian Federation was Yeltsin's last flourish before departing for another holiday; and that so far he has always returned from a holiday break with a political bombshell. The re-shuffles this time, Kommersant of 9 March argues, strengthen Gaidar. The Russian parliamentary opposition has lately been split between those demanding more spending, to protect mothers and children, and those demanding less taxes, to protect businessmen. Perhaps Yeltsin's bombshell, the authors suggest, will be to drop Burbulis as first deputy prime minister, but keep him as a key advisor. This would make Rutskoi and Khazbulatov happy, and change nothing real. (Philip Hanson) AN EXPORT-0NLY VARIANT OF REFORM? Dmitrii Chernov-Andreev in Kommersant of 9 March argues that Gaidar is now playing a double game, with an "export version" of the reform that keeps the IMF sweet, plus a version for the domestic market (mainly the Russian parliament) that involves a larger budget deficit than is implied in the late-February memorandum to the IMF. The article does not explain how this is being done, but stresses that the Russian parliament has still not approved the first-quarter budget. (Philip Hanson) COMMUNISTS AND NATIONALISTS PUBLISH JOINT DECLARATION. A joint declaration of Communist and extreme Russian nationalist groups, entitled "Justice, Nationality, Statehood, Patriotism," was published in Sovetskaya Rossiya on 10 March. The declaration attacked the present Russian leadership for "conducting dangerous experiments with the population" of Russia and it blamed Yeltsin for the disintegration of the Soviet Union. The declaration said the Russian leadership played in the hands of "the international reactionary forces." "Vesti" reported on 10 March that Communist and nationalist leaders were planning to hold a press conference on 11 March to announce the creation of a joint Communist-nationalist opposition bloc. (Vera Tolz) RUSSIA WILL CONSIDER MIRV BAN. At a press conference after the 10 March Brussels meeting of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC), Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev said that Russia and USA had to bring their positions on reducing strategic nuclear arms closer together "including the elimination of MIRVed [multiple independently-targeted re-entry vehicles] missiles." Western agencies reported that Kozyrev would discuss the matter with Secretary of State James Baker the following day. President Bush in January called for a ban on land-based MIRVed missiles. Kozyrev is likely to press for the inclusion of submarine-based missiles in any MIRV ban. (Doug Clarke) RUSSIAN COMMITTEE SUPPORTS CIVILIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY . . . On 10 March Col. Gen. Dmitrii Volkogonov, Boris Yeltsin's advisor on defense issues, told the Russian Supreme Soviet's Committee for Defense and Security that Russia had "a unique opportunity, a unique chance, to place the military . . . under civilian and parliamentary control." ITAR-TASS quoted Volkogonov as saying that only a civilian defense ministry could demilitarize the country and reduce the size of the armed forces. The committee was reported to have approved a draft decision on a civilian ministry, a republican military, and a Russian military doctrine. These documents will be submitted to the full Supreme Soviet on 26 March. (Doug Clarke) . . . AND REJECTS CIS DRAFT MILITARY AGREEMENTS. Radio Rossii reported that the committee rejected the 10 draft agreements on defense issues that had been prepared by the CIS joint armed forces high command for submission to the CIS heads of state when they meet in Kiev on 20 March. Sergei Stepashin, the chairman of the committee, told Interfax that the drafts were turned down because of the unclear status of the CIS. He was reported to have said that the committee would recommend to Yeltsin that he propose an agreement establishing a "military-political alliance" at the 20 March meeting. (Doug Clarke) GERMANS TO ABANDON IDEA OF VOLGA REPUBLIC? The question of abandoning the struggle for the recreation of the Volga German republic and promoting the mass emigration of Russian Germans to Germany will be put to the second congress of Russian Germans opening in Moscow on 20 March. This was stated at a press conference on 10 March by the leader of the Russian Germans, Heinrich Groth, ITAR-TASS reported. Groth said the Germans had been forced into this decision by the unwillingness of the Russian leadership to restore their republic, and that Germany would be asked to increase the present quota of 150,000 Germans allowed into Germany each year. Groth expressed approval of Ukraine's willingness to let Russian Germans settle in the Crimea, but said it was only a partial solution. (Ann Sheehy) NAZARBAEV FAVORS SUPRANATIONAL STRUCTURES FOR CIS. In an article in Kazakhstanskaya pravda marking the first 100 days since his popular election as president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbaev reiterated that CIS needs supranational coordination structures, KazTAG-TASS reported on 10 March. Nazarbaev said that without these structures the commonwealth would be "an empty sound, a beautiful form that is filled with no real content." Nazarbaev made a strong plea for Western aid so as to maintain stability in the CIS, but said that it would be most effective if it were directed to promising areas. (Ann Sheehy) RUSSIAN PROCURATOR THREATENS TO CHARGE LEADING TATAR ACTIVIST. At a press conference in Moscow on 10 March, the Russian Procurator General Valentin Stepankov said that he intended to raise the question of the immunity as a deputy of Fauziya Bairamova, leader of the Tatarstan independence party Ittifak, and to bring a criminal charge against her of inciting national enmity, RIA reported. It may be doubted whether such a statement is wise in the run-up to the 21 March referendum of the future of Tatarstan, which Stepankov pronounced illegal. (Ann Sheehy) DNIESTER SITUATION. While the cease fire agreed upon on 4 March under the aegis of the conciliation commission is holding, "Dniester" guards aided by Russian Cossacks continue to raid Moldovan villages on the left bank, beating up village leaders loyal to Chisinau and arresting individual Moldovan policemen, Moldovan media have reported in recent days. At least 40 Moldovan policemen from left-bank raions are currently being detained in Tiraspol. Moldova's Ministry of Internal Affairs has appealed to the Tiraspol leaders to release the captured policemen, disband the illegal armed units, halt attacks on lawful administrative bodies, and "understand that protracted confrontations can lead to uncontrollable situations" The appeal dramatizes Moldova's lack of means to deal with the situation. (Vladimir Socor) "DNIESTER" MILITARY LEADER ON GOALS. Vladimir Ryliakov, a former Komsomol official and currently the head of the "Dniester republic military and security department," told Reuters on 10 March that the would-be republic stood for the preservation of "a single Army and a single economic space across the territory of the Soviet Union. We have enough patriots not only here, but in Russia and other republics, to eventually ensure that unity." Reuters also reported on 9 March that "Dniester republic" armored vehicles (obtained from CIS units in the area) fly the flag of the former Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic and that "Dniester" military posts display such slogans as "The Dniester republic is a bulwark of internationalism." (Vladimir Socor) RUSSIAN LAW ON SECURITY ADOPTED. On 5 March the Russian Supreme Soviet adopted a Law on Security, ITAR-TASS reported. The law sets up the legal foundations for the security of individuals, society, and the state from external and internal threats. It said that the state security organs are directly responsible to the Russian President, the head of the Security Council. The Supreme Soviet watches over state security activities, while the Russian General Prosecutor monitors the observation of legal procedures. The law prohibits any security bodies not mentioned in the law. The draft of the law was not published in the mass media and was adopted almost without changes; the Supreme Soviet approved only 4 of the 45 proposed amendments. (Victor Yasmann) DISSENSION AMONG DAGESTANI MUSLIMS. Several political parties and movements in Dagestan have adopted a declaration expressing concern at dissension among the republic's Muslims on ethnic lines, ITAR-TASS reported on 10 March. Representatives of the Dargin and Kumyk communities objected to what they saw as a takeover by the dominant Avars of the leadership of the Dagestan Muslim Religious Board at a congress of Muslims at the end of February, and a mass meeting outside the Board several days later demanded that the congress be declared illegal. The situation was described as explosive. These events confirm that Islam is not at present a unifying force in Dagestan. (Ann Sheehy) EASTERN EUROPE BALTIC STATES MILITARY PARLIAMENTARIANS IN ESTONIA. The four representatives of the former Soviet military forces who sit on Estonia's Supreme Council seem likely to retain their seats until new elections are held, according to a 9 March BNS report. The Supreme Council Defense Commission has long regarded the presence of the four--who were "elected" by the military community in a ballot separate from the regular election--as compromising Estonia's sovereignty, and has repeatedly requested that the issue be put to a vote. The Justice Commission, however, is opposed on grounds that the status of the military parliamentarians has already come under debate within the context of Estonia's new proposed election law. The Supreme Council is scheduled to begin discussion on the new election law on 11 March. (Riina Kionka) ESTONIAN GOLD. Former government minister Endel Lippmaa says that Estonia's campaign for return of its gold could end up costing far more than the bullion is worth. In a 9 March BNS report, Lippmaa warns that Sweden and the UK may well demand return of assets belonging to their citizens and the state if Estonia demands return of its gold. In fact, neither Sweden nor the UK have brought up return of any assets during the months of gold negotiations and have strongly supported in principle the return of the deposits. (Riina Kionka) PASSPORTS BY APRIL. Citizens of Estonia may be able to travel on Estonian passports as early as April. According to Citizenship Authority director Linnar Liivamagi, the passports are being printed in the UK. Because each document costs $10 to print, Liivamagi said, recipients will have to pay for their passports in hard currency. BNS reported Liivamagi's remarks on 10 March. (Riina Kionka) TROOP PULLOUT FROM LITHUANIA NOT COORDINATED WITH LATVIA. Diena reported on 9 March that contrary to claims made by Northwestern Group of Forces press spokesman, the withdrawal of troops from Lithuania to Russia has not been coordinated with the Latvian authorities. The spokesman said that the passage through Latvia had been cleared with the Latvian customs department. Customs officials denied the claim and noted that they did not have the authority to coordinate such movements. The press spokesman also tried to explain away the substantial troops movement in and around Riga on March 5 as routine, rather than being part of larger maneuvers. (Dzintra Bungs) TROOPS TO START LEAVING LATVIA ON 19 MARCH? Col. Gen. Valerii Mironov, commander of the Northwestern Group of Forces, told ITAR-TASS on 10 March that withdrawal of troops of the former USSR from Latvia would start on 19 March. The first to leave would be the units (the number of troops was not given) stationed in Salacgriva. Mironov invited Latvian Supreme Council Chairman Anatolijs Gorbunovs to a farewell ceremony. Earlier reports from Moscow said the pullout from Latvia would begin between 10 and 20 March. (Dzintra Bungs) PREMIER DEMANDS EX-SOVIET BORDER GUARDS LEAVE LATVIA. Latvian Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis told the press in Stockholm on 10 March that Latvia is ready to take control of its borders on 15 March and demanded the departure of 2,000 border guards of the former Soviet Union, Western agencies report. He said that his government agreed with former Soviet KGB chairman Vadim Bakatin last fall to let Soviet and Latvian guards patrol the borders together until Latvia had formed its own border guard units. Earlier that day Godmanis signed a free-trade pact with Sweden. (Dzintra Bungs) IRANIAN SUBMARINE PERSONNEL STILL TRAINED IN LATVIA. For over a year about 100 Iranian naval specialists have been training at the ex-Soviet naval base in Bolderaja, Latvia, to man two submarines bought by Iran from the USSR, BNS reported on 9 March. Such training has not been authorized by the Latvian government. In the past the Soviet naval base has trained personnel from other countries, including India, Iraq, and Algeria, that had bought naval vessels and military equipment from the USSR. (Dzintra Bungs) GERMAN VISITORS TO LITHUANIA. On 10 March German Education Minister Rainer Ortleb and Bundestag deputy Wolfgang von Stetten, chairman of the Baltic-German parliamentary group, arrived in Vilnius, Radio Lithuania reports. Ortleb met with Vytautas Landsbergis and various Lithuanian education officials to discuss cooperation in vocational training and higher education. Von Stetten held talks with Deputy Prime Minister Vytautas Pakalniskis on legal questions and offered to assist Lithuania to send students to Germany for legal studies. On 11 March at the parliament session commemorating the reestablishment of Lithuanian independence, von Stetten was awarded Lithuania's 11 January Medal. (Saulius Girnius) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE POLAND, COMMERCIAL BANKS TO RESUME DEBT TALKS. On 10 March Poland and its commercial bank creditors agreed on conditions for restarting debt talks, Western and Polish media report. The agreement was reached in Warsaw at a meeting between Finance Minister Andrzej Olechowski and Jeff Stockley, head of a working group for the London Club of commercial banks. According to the agreement, the talks will be restarted once the Sejm has approved the budget and the government has reached an agreement with the IMF. Talks between Poland and the banks were deadlocked in June. Warsaw refused to pay $1.2 million in outstanding interest to commercial banks until final agreement is reached on reducing or rescheduling the debt, estimated at $11.4 million. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) CONFLICTING FIGURES ON WITHDRAWING FORMER SOVIET TROOPS. At the beginning of March for the first time the Russian authorities handed over official figures on the number of soldiers, weaponry, and materiel of the former USSR in Poland. However, a spokesman for Gen. Zdzislaw Ostrowski, Warsaw's official responsible for monitoring the troops in Poland and their withdrawal, told PAP on 10 March that the figures supplied do not correspond with the data gathered by the Poles and the discrepancies must be reconciled before figures are made public. The spokesman also said that on 10 March a joint Polish-Russian working group responsible for estimating ecological damage caused by former USSR troops stationed in Poland held its first meeting. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) HAVEL TESTIFIES ON COMMUNIST POLICE HARASSMENT. On 10 March, President Vaclav Havel testified at the trial for abuse of power of former communist Interior Minister Frantisek Kincl, former secret police chief Alojz Lorenc, and former counterintelligence chief Karel Vykypel. In the trial being heard by a military court in Prague the prosecution's case centered on the persecution of dissidents from the 1970s on. Havel said he had been jailed four times between 1977 and 1989 but stressed that he could not specifically condemn the three defendants. His testimony reflects his desire to avoid a witch hunt and the difficulty of apportioning blame for the faults of a system whose murkiest secrets died with it, Western media are reporting. (Peter Matuska) SLOVAK DEPUTIES BLOCK AMENDMENT ON ARMS TRADE. On 10 March Slovak deputies in the Czechoslovak federal parliament prevented the adoption of a constitutional amendment imposing strict conditions for the import and export of arms. The amendment also would have imposed new controls over trade in radioactive materials and narcotics, CSTK reports. Of the 61 Slovak deputies 26 voted in favor of the amendment, 26 abstained, 8 opposed it, and one missed the vote. Forty-five votes were needed for passage. The country's arms factories are centered in Slovakia, which has already been hard hit by deep cuts in Czechoslovak defense spending. (Peter Matuska) DUBCEK TO RUN AS SOCIAL DEMOCRAT. Federal Assembly Chairman Alexander Dubcek is expected to head an opposition list of the Slovak Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the June elections, an RFE correspondent reports. An SDP official said this arrangement was agreed by Dubcek and the SDP on 9 March, but Dubcek's decision to defect to the opposition ranks will be officially announced by the end of the week. In the country's 1990 parliamentary elections Dubcek supported the Public Against Violence movement, now represented in the Slovak government. (Peter Matuska) STOLOJAN BULLISH ON THE ECONOMY. On 9 March Romanian Prime Minister Theodor Stolojan expressed optimism that it will be possible to stop the current economic decline. He was speaking a day after the National Statistics Board published figures showing that industrial output rose in January 1992 by 7.4% as compared with December 1991. Production of textiles, leather and footwear, electric machinery, and medical equipment are on the rise, as is coal extraction. Declines are still being registered for the food industry, livestock production, and road transport. Imports still exceed exports, causing a $100 million balance of trade deficit in convertible currency. Internal trade and consumer purchasing power continue to shrink, but, Stolojan said, the private commercial sector is growing and reached 36% of domestic trade in January. (Mihai Sturdza) HUNGARIANS IN ROMANIA PROTEST. Some 6,000 ethnic Hungarians staged a protest rally on 9 March in the Transylvanian town of Miercurea Ciuc. The protest was called by the local branch of the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania over the right of ethnic Hungarians to instruction in their mother tongue, foreign media report. (Mihai Sturdza) ROMANIAN-MOLDOVAN CUSTOMS UNION PROPOSED. Adrian Severin, former minister for reform and now chairman of Romania's privatization agency, said the country should support the creation of a customs, monetary, and fiscal union with the neighboring republic of Moldova, Rompres said on 10 March. He also called for a joint commission to coordinate foreign policy and conclude a military agreement. All moves toward reunification should take the views of ethnic minorities in Moldova into account, Severin added. (Mihai Sturdza) BULGARIA AND THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE. Three representatives of the Council of Europe (CE), in Sofia since 6 March, presented their conclusions, extensively reported by the dailies on 10 March. They said they hope to make their recommendation to the CE Parliamentary Assembly that Bulgaria be admitted to the CE on 5 May as planned. It would, however, depend on developments in Bulgaria until then. The officials made several critical remarks, notably about the Bulgarian constitution, which prohibits parties based on religion or ethnicity, and the current attempts to ban the mainly Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms. They also criticized the polarization of political forces and questioned the forthcoming law banning former communists from state offices. (Rada Nikolaev) EC TO OPEN OFFICE IN SOFIA. The Commission of the European Community (EC) will open an office in Sofia in the next few months, Bulgarian and western media report from Brussels. Agreement on the subject was signed on 9 March by Foreign Minister Stoyan Ganev and the EC's external relations commissioner, Frans Andriessen. BTA also said that negotiations on Bulgaria's association with the EC had been preliminarily scheduled to begin on 13 April, and Andriessen had expressed hope that they might be concluded by the end of the year. (Rada Nikolaev) US RECOGNITION FOR CROATIA AND SLOVENIA? The 11 March Washington Post quotes Secretary of State James Baker as saying that "the United States will . . . give rapid and positive consideration to the requests for recognition by Croatia and Slovenia." The statement came after he met with his EC counterparts in Brussels on 10 March. Germany recognized the two on 19 December, and the rest of the EC followed suit on 15 January. European and US officials agreed on 10 March to delay recognizing Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia, but the Post adds that the Europeans hope by 1 April to be able to recognize the two as well as a new federation of Serbia and Montenegro. (Patrick Moore)
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