Man's yesterday may ne'er be like his morrow; Naught may endure but Mutability. - Percy Shelley
RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 51, 13 March 1992





SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR

POPOV AUTHORIZES 17 MARCH RALLY. Moscow mayor Gavriil Popov has
granted a permit to Communist groups who want to hold a large
rally in Manezh Square in Moscow on March 17, ITAR-TASS reported
on 12 March. Earlier this month, Popov's deputy Yurii Lyzhkov
issued a statement that banned this rally. Popov himself previously
opposed the rally. In addition, the presidium of the Russian
parliament urged Popov on 11 March to deny the rally permission.
The sudden change in Popov's position on the rally may have been
motivated by the fear that suppressing such activities might
serve to bolster the popularity of Communists, who now try to
portray themselves as persecuted dissidents. (Vera Tolz)

RUSSIAN PRESS DEBATES USSR CONGRESS. Russian newspapers on 12
March debated the Communists' plan to reconvene the USSR Congress
of People's Deputies on 17 March. While the former conservative
Communist media supported the idea, Moskovsky komsomolets called
the plan "an attempt at a new coup d' etat." ITAR-TASS said that
the Russian procurator general had warned of legal actions against
organizers of the meeting. A former member of the now defunct
USSR Constitutional Compliance Committee, Vadim Filimonov, noted
that "neither the Russian procurator general nor the Russian
parliament have the legal right to prevent a meeting of the USSR
Congress." and that the threat to charge the organizers with
treasons is not well grounded. (Vera Tolz)

TODAY'S CIS PREMIERS' MEETING. Most of the items of the preliminary
agenda for the meeting on 13 March of CIS heads of government
items are economic, according to ITAR-TASS of 12 March. Those
items that refer to agreements on "principles" (of tax and customs
policy, in particular) or are uncontroversial (standardization,
commercial dispute resolution framework), may well produce agreements.
A proposed agreement on the principles and mechanisms (emphasis
added) of internal-debt service, along with discussion items
on foreign debts and assets and on an inter-bank union and payments
arrangements are more serious and more likely to end in tears.
(Philip Hanson)

THE SIZE OF THE EX-SOVIET NATIONAL DEBT. Irinia Demchenko in
Izvestiya of 5 March gives ex-USSR Gosbank data on the build-up
of the Soviet national (internal) debt since 1968. Of an end-1991
total of 940 billion rubles, more than 800 comes from the Gorbachev
period. This represents borrowing by the government from the
old state banking system to cover budget and crypto-budget deficits.
The growth in 1991 is put at 394 billion rubles. Demchenko notes
that the Russian government, quite separately, has built up a
debt of 125 billion rubles to its own central bank, over two
years. The article confirms the complete failure of the 1990
attempt to fund the Union deficit by issuing bonds. (Philip Hanson)


WHAT TO DO WITH THE EX-SOVIET NATIONAL DEBT? Demchenko notes
that, unlike the external debt, the inherited internal debt has
not been of much interest to the West, so little international
pressure has been put on Moscow to give information. With the
formal demise of USSR Gosbank on 1 March, however, information
can now be released. And the question of how the successor states
are to share and cope with this debt is relevant to final stabilization
attempts. Demchenko says the Russian government has told the
IMF it accepts responsibility for internal debt of 435 billion
rubles. That is its own plus less than half the Soviet debt legacy.
(Philip Hanson)

EXTERNAL DEBT REPAYMENT. Yurii Gromushkin, an adviser to the
Minister of Foreign Economic Relations, told Rossiiskaya gazeta
on 12 March that Russia was unable to service all of its own
foreign debt because it was having to shoulder 90% of the obligations
of the former USSR. He noted the unfavorable structure of debt
service payments, and forecast a peak in payments due in 1992
[other projections see 1993 as the peak year]. Gromushkin was
critical of other former Soviet republics for not meeting the
commitments they made in 1991 to assume joint and several responsibility
for the debt of the former USSR. In order to meet payments to
date, Russia had been obliged to freeze individual and company
hard currency accounts, running up an internal debt of several
billion dollars. (Keith Bush)

KRAVCHUK INTERVIEWS. Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk, in
interviews in Trud and the Warsaw newspaper Rzeczpospolita, discusses
Ukraine's view of the CIS, military issues, relations with Russia,
and the upcoming CIS summit in Kiev. Summaries of the interviews
were reported by ITAR-TASS and Radio Ukrainy on 12 March. Concerning
the CIS, Kravchuk repeated his oft stated position that the CIS
has a future if it avoids the path followed by the former USSR.
Ukraine, said Kravchuk, will never agree to the reanimation of
"old structures." The Ukrainian leader expressed his conviction
that military disputes with Russia, specifically the question
of the Black Sea Fleet, will be resolved at the 20 March CIS
summit in Kiev. (Roman Solchanyk)

KRAVCHUK ANNOUNCES HALT TO TRANSFER OF NUKES TO RUSSIA. On 12
March in Kiev, Kravchuk announced to the press his decision to
stop the withdrawal of tactical nuclear weapons from Ukraine,
a process that got under way in January with the transport of
tactical missiles to Russia and was due to be completed by June.
He justified the decision on the grounds that Ukraine, as a nuclear-armed
state bearing "extremely high responsibility . . . cannot guarantee
that the withdrawn weapons will be destroyed, that they will
be under the necessary control, or that they will not fall into
the wrong hands," in view of what Kravchuk termed "the political
instability that currently exists." (Kathy Mihalisko)

CALL FOR INTERNATIONAL CONTROL. In his remarks, which were received
by the RFE/RL Ukrainian service, Kravchuk said Ukraine is appealing
again to the governments of Western Europe and the United States
to put the withdrawal and elimination of the Ukraine-based nuclear
arsenal under international control. He considered Russian-based
facilities for the destruction of the weapons to be inadequate.
Kravchuk's announcement came after Foreign Minister Anatolii
Zlenko, together with his other CIS counterparts, took part earlier
this week in a North Atlantic Cooperation Council meeting in
Brussels where ten former Soviet republics were accepted into
the council. (Kathy Mihalisko)

FAILURE TO AGREE ON WITHDRAWAL OF STRATEGIC WEAPONS FROM BELARUS.
Parliamentary chairman Stanislau Shushkevich has said that work
on the draft documents for the 20 March CIS summit in Minsk has
become "very difficult" owing to the inability of the CIS General
Staff to "think in new ways," Belarusian Radio relayed on 9 March.
Referring to pre-summit talks last week in Moscow between republican
defense officials, Shushkevich maintained that Belarus had even
surpassed Ukraine in defending national interests against the
demands of the CIS command. He claimed that discord between the
commonwealth states and the commander in chief during those talks
arose after a breakdown in negotiations over the withdrawal of
strategic weapons from Belarus. (Kathy Mihalisko)

CHAUS CONCURS WITH SHUSHKEVICH. Acting Belarusian Defense Minister
Petr Chaus told Belarusian Radio on 9 March, that he agreed with
Shushkevich's criticism of the CIS General Staff that the staff
does not take the viewpoints of the commonwealth states into
account. But, Chaus added, those states do not agree among themselves
on the question of joint command over the armed forces. Whereas
the states on the western periphery of the CIS, and in part Uzbekistan,
want to create their own national forces, other Central Asian
states and the Republic of Armenia are arguing for unity. In
related news, the Belarusian parliament on 12 March announced
a decision to call back all its citizens who are currently performing
military duties as soldiers and NCOs in the Transcaucasian states
and Moldova, according to BELTA-TASS. (Kathy Mihalisko)

GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT CONVENES IN GROZNYI. Some 70 deputies to
the Georgian parliament convened in Groznyi on 12 March and condemned
the political situation in Georgia as an attempt by the Communist
mafia and criminal bands to bring Georgia back under the influence
of a modernized Russian empire, ITAR-TASS reported. They called
for a republic-wide campaign of civil disobedience in order to
achieve the restoration of constitutional rule and legality.
Addressing the session, ousted Georgian president Zviad Gamsakhurdia
attacked the newly created State Council as illegal and charged
that the West was "blinded by Shevardnadze." (Liz Fuller)

US CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE CEASE-FIRE IN NAGORNO-KARABAKH. Iranian
Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati telephoned Armenian President
Levon Ter-Petrossyan and Azerbaijani Premier Hasan Hasanov on
12 March to discuss the Karabakh situation, and an Organization
of the Islamic Conference mission arrived in Teheran for talks
prior to going to Armenia and Azerbaijan, Western agencies reported.
Speaking in Paris, Turkish deputy Prime Minister Erdal Inonu
stated that Hasanov had asked for Turkey and France to help bring
about a cease-fire Azerbaijani Popular Front leaders in Baku
said that negotiations with Armenia were unlikely until Azerbaijan
had "liberated" the territory captured by Armenia. After a telephone
conversation between US President Bush and Turkish President
Suleiman Demirel the White House issued a statement calling for
an immediate cease-fire between Armenia and Azerbaijan. (Liz
Fuller)

COMMON CURRENCY FOR CENTRAL ASIA? Among proposals made at a Tashkent
conference of Uzbek government representatives, members of the
opposition and leading economists has been a suggestion that
the five Central Asian republics should introduce a common currency,
Radio Rossii reported on 12 March, quoting Interfax. The common
currency proposal was advanced in the course of a discussion
of whether Uzbekistan should introduce its own currency. Both
Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan have raised the question of a national
currency, but since Kazakhstan became independent, its leadership
has supported remaining within the "ruble zone." (Bess Brown)


TURKMENISTAN TO RESUME GAS DELIVERIES TO UKRAINE. Turkmenistan
has agreed to resume natural gas deliveries to Ukraine, but at
prices that approximate world prices, Radio ukraina reported
on 11 March. The announcement was made by Turkmen President Niyazov
in a press interview. Niyazov also said that beginning next year
Turkmenistan will be charging world prices for all goods that
it delivers to its trading partners. (Roman Solchanyk)

DNIESTER RUSSIANS "INFURIATED" BY ARMY SHIFT. Maj. Gen. Vyacheslav
Sitnikov, chief of staff of the 14th Army of the CIS, told Reuters
on 10 March that the Army's recent shift to neutrality vis-a-vis
the "Dniester republic" had "infuriated" the local Russians,
who are staging threatening demonstrations outside barracks in
Tiraspol and putting the officers and their families under "great
social pressure." The Army's commander, Maj. Gen. Yurii Netkachev,
told Interfax on 10 March that local Russians--seeking arms--had
recently raided military depots in Tiraspol and that he had ordered
the grounds mined to prevent further raids. (Vladimir Socor)


14TH ARMY'S NEW COMMANDER. Netkachev became commander of the
14th Army in late January, replacing Lt. Gen. Gennadii Yakovlev
who was transferred to the reserves by the CIS command for having
openly assisted the "Dniester republic" against Moldova. Chisinau
has developed a satisfactory working relationship with Netkachev,
Moldovan officials told the RFE/RL Research Institute on 9 March.
They added that the general, who comes from Belarus, supports
an independent Belarus with its own army. (Vladimir Socor)

CONSTITUTIONAL COURT CONSIDERS TATARSTAN REFERENDUM. The Russian
constitutional court met on 12 March to discuss the constitutionality
of the 21 March referendum on the status of Tatarstan, the Russian
media reported. Tatarstan did not send a representative to the
hearing. Objections were raised to the wording of the referendum
question and also to the fact that under the Tatarstan referendum
law it is possible for a quarter of the population of Tatarstan
to decide the question of the territorial integrity of Russia.
Russian Vice-President Aleksandr Rutskoi and Deputy Premier Sergei
Shakhrai addressed the court. The court's decision is to be announced
on 13 March. (Ann Sheehy)

AUTONOMOUS TERRITORIES TO SIGN FEDERAL TREATY ON 20 MARCH. The
heads of the soviets of Russia's autonomous okrugs and oblasts
decided in the course of a two-day meeting in Khanty-Mansiisk
that they would sign the federal treaty delimiting powers between
Russia and its constituent territories in Moscow on 20 March,
ITAR-TASS reported. The leaders of Russia's constituent republics
have been invited to Moscow on 13 March to approve the federal
treaty, but it is not expected that all will attend. In an interview
with Radio Mayak on 12 March the chairman of the Chuvash parliament
Eduard Kubarev said the treaty should be signed soon even if
all the republics were not ready to sign it now. The Russian
leadership wants the treaty signed before the Congress of People's
Deputies considers the draft constitution. (Ann Sheehy)

EASTERN EUROPE

BALTIC STATES



DISPUTE OVER ABRENE. On 11 March the Russian Federation's Supreme
Soviet refuted the Latvia's Supreme Council decision of 22 January
1992 "On the nonrecognition of the annexation of the town of
Abrene and six wards of the Abrene district." The historically
Latvian area was taken over by Russia after World War II. Now
inhabited mostly by Russians, the area is known as Pytalovo and
forms part of Pskov Oblast. Insisting that the Latvian claims
are groundless, the Russian legislators accuse their Latvian
counterparts of exacerbating relations between the two states
and violating the CSCE accords and the 13 January 1991 agreement
between Latvia and Russia, despite the fact that the Russian
Supreme Soviet has not ratified the latter agreement. (Dzintra
Bungs)

UNEMPLOYMENT INCREASES IN LATVIA. Unemployment may reach 9-12%
in Latvia. From 15 January to 1 March, 7,901 persons had contacted
the employment office in search of work, but by 10 March that
figure had grown to 9,500; the respective figures for those officially
registered as unemployed were 1,825 and 2,500. Unemployment compensation
has been accorded to only 424 persons. Sergejs Blazevics, head
of the State Employment Service told Diena on 11 March that a
new program is required to cope quickly with the badly deteriorating
situation. (Dzintra Bungs)

NEW CHARGES AGAINST RUBIKS. Diena reported on 9 March that new
charges have been brought against Alfreds Rubiks, former First
Secretary of the Latvian Communist Party's Central Committee.
Rubiks was arrested in late August 1991 for his role in the failed
putsch. Latvia's Deputy Procurator-General, Jazeps Ancans, said
the new charges, raised on 20 February, have to do with Rubiks's
activities in January 1991, when communists tried to topple the
government of Latvia. Ancans said the investigation is continuing
and Rubiks would be brought to trial this year. (Dzintra Bungs)


CANADIAN COMPANY TO BUILD CELLULOSE PLANT IN LATVIA. Alfred Wong,
president of the Canadian-based Albokem Firm, said that his company
is building a plant for the production of cellulose in the town
of Dobele in southwestern Latvia, an RFE/RL correspondent in
Ottawa reported on 9 March. The plant is expected initially to
produce 7,000 tons of high quality cellulose to be used in the
making of specialty paper, such as bank notes. Wong said that
production would probably meet Latvia's domestic needs and there
would be something left over for export to Eastern and Central
Europe. (Dzintra Bungs)

DATE FOR LITHUANIAN PRESIDENTIAL REFERENDUM SET. On 12 March
the Lithuanian Supreme Council by a vote of 100 to 2 with 9 abstentions
decided to hold the referendum on presidential powers on 23 May,
Radio Lithuania reports. The voters will be asked to vote yes
or no to the question: "Do you agree with the proposals for the
Republic of Lithuania law on the president, on the institution
of the president of the Republic of Lithuania and changes and
amendments to the Temporary Fundamental Law of the Republic of
Lithuania?" In an earlier attempt on 28 February the parliament
failed to get the necessary 67 votes for the referendum. (Saulius
Girnius)

ESTONIAN SOCIAL WELFARE MINISTER CONFIRMED. The Estonian Supreme
Council confirmed Laur Karu as Minister for Social Welfare on
12 March, BNS reported that day. Karu, who won the post in a
62-5 vote with 5 abstentions, previously worked in Estonia's
Ministry of Health. (Riina Kionka)

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

WOERNER: NATO WILL NOT ALLOW "SECURITY VACUUM" IN EAST. On 12
March NATO Secretary-General Manfred Woerner said that even though
the alliance is not yet ready to accept new members, it will
not allow a "security vacuum" to develop in Central and Eastern
Europe. He told a security seminar in Warsaw that while it cannot
now offer formal security guarantees, NATO can help improve regional
security by bringing the countries involved closer to the alliance.
Woerner later told newsmen that during his recent talks with
top Polish officials there were no demands for NATO to grant
formal security guarantees to Warsaw. Western and Polish media
carried the story. Woerner continued on to Riga, where he begins
a two-day round of meetings with top Latvian officials on 13
March. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz & Dzintra Bungs)

OLSZEWSKI WILL BROADEN COALITION. On 12 March Prime Minister
Jan Olszewski held talks with representatives of seven parliamentary
clubs forming the hub of the government coalition. After the
meeting government spokesman Marcin Gugulski said that Olszewski
had been empowered to hold initial talks on broadening the coalition,
PAP reports. Jaroslaw Kaczynski, chairman of the Center Alliance,
said that Olszewski had already met with the Democratic Union
chief, Tadeusz Mazowiecki. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz)

POLISH SKINHEADS DEMONSTRATE AT ISRAELI EMBASSY. On 12 March
about 40 skinheads shouted anti-Semitic slogans and made Nazi
salutes in a noisy demonstration outside the Israeli Embassy
in Warsaw. Riot police cordoned off the embassy, and the youths,
carrying a banner with a Nazi-like insignia, left the scene singing
nationalist songs, Western media report. The demonstrators were
lead by Boleslaw Tejkowski, head of the small Polish National
Community Party. Tejkowski is due to stand trial next week for
allegedly making anti-Semitic statements during last year's parliamentary
election campaign. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz)

CZECHOSLOVAK PARLIAMENT PASSES RESOLUTION ON 1991 BUDGET. On
12 March the Czechoslovak parliament approved the report of the
federal government on the 1991 state budget. The government reported
an combined federal and republican budget deficit of 18.6 billion
koruny ($620 million). The deputies asked the government to report
on how it intends to handle the failure of the budget to meet
IMF monetary criteria, CSTK reported. (Peter Matuska)

DEMONSTRATION FOR SLOVAKIA'S INDE-PENDENCE. CSTK reports that
a demonstration for an independent Slovak state took place in
Bratislava on 12 March. The demonstration of several hundred
people was organized by one of the smaller Slovak pro-independence
parties, the Movement for the Liberation of Slovakia. Party Chairman
Frantisek Kollar said his party does not want to create a county
like the wartime Slovak state but rather a free, democratic Slovakia.
A Czechoslovak flag was burned at the end of the otherwise peaceful
rally. Referring to the 53rd anniversary of the foundation of
the wartime independent Slovak state, on 12 March federal parliament
Chairman Alexander Dubcek called this a tragic chapter in Slovak
history, but pointed out that the Slovak nation had rehabilitated
itself through its 1944 uprising against Nazi Germany. (Peter
Matuska)

BATA TO OPEN FIRST SHOP IN PRAGUE. On 13 March the Canadian-based
Bata Shoe Company, the world's largest, reopens a shop in Prague
in a building that housed the firm's headquarters before the
family left Czechoslovakia on the eve of World War II. The company
signed an agreement with the Czech government last December under
which it will open a total of 35 shops across the country, an
RFE/RL correspondent reported. Bata will own 70% of the shares
and the Czech government the rest. The company's local headquarters
are in Zlin, Moravia, founder Tomas Bata's native town. (Peter
Matuska)

CZECH UNEMPLOYMENT DROPS. On 12 March the Czech Ministry of Labor
and Social Affairs said that the unemployment rate in the Czech
Republic in February was 5.9% lower than in January, and the
overall unemployment rate in the republic stands at 4.14%, CSTK
reports. At the end of February 217,554 people were out of work.
Labor offices in the Slovak Republic report that in February
319,294 people, or 12.7% of the Slovak work force, were out of
work, but comparative data were not provided. Slovak Labor and
Social Affairs Minister Helena Wolekova told CSTK that she believes
that in three to four years unemployment in Slovakia could fall
to an acceptable level of 3-5%. (Peter Matuska)

HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT TO INVESTIGATE TV PRESIDENT. Radio Budapest
reports that on 12 March Prime Minister Jozsef Antall asked the
cultural committee of parliament to investigate the situation
at Hungarian TV and to ascertain whether its president Elemer
Hankiss is competent to run the institution. Hankiss was appointed
to the position about one year ago with the agreement with the
six parliamentary parties. Earlier this year he took off for
a six-month stay in the United States, leaving a chaotic situation
behind. When a deputy was appointed, Hankiss refused to accept
his decisions and reprimanded him, over the objections of Antall.
(Judith Pataki)

ROMANIAN-US RELATIONS. US State Department spokesman Richard
Boucher said on 11 March that in view of Romania's advance towards
democratic pluralism and a market economy, the US is ready to
sign a new trade agreement. Among other things, the treaty would
allow low tariffs on Romanian exports to the US under most-favored-nation
trade status. A treaty would require ratification by the Senate,
which will probably consider the matter this spring. On 12 March
the new US Ambassador to Romania, career diplomat John Davis,
who served previously as Ambassador to Poland and head of the
State Department's East European desk, presented his credentials
to President ION Iliescu in Bucharest. (Mihai Sturdza)

SPLIT WITHIN NSF NEARLY OFFICIAL. Iliescu met on 11 March with
the leaders of the main political parties. It was agreed that
general elections should be held no later than June. On 12 March,
during a meeting with the NSF deputies in parliament, Iliescu
said NSF leader Petre Roman must quit the party's leadership
"in order to ensure the NSF's salvation." No clear stand within
NSF's ranks has yet been expressed about the issue. (Mihai Sturdza)


ILIESCU APPEALS FOR RESTRAINT ON DNIESTR EVENTS. On 11 March
Iliescu appealed to Romania's political leaders to avoid voicing
claims about Romanian lands now in Moldova or in Ukraine. He
explained that such claims are seen as Romanian intervention
in the internal affairs of its neighbors, and that Western governments
have informed him that they are unsympathetic and would probably
not support such claims. (Mihai Sturdza)

LUKANOV TRAVEL BAN PROTESTED. In the National Assembly on 12
March a BSP deputy raised a question about the incident on 11
March in which police prevented former Prime Minister Andrei
Lukanov from leaving the country. The deputy complained that
Lukanov's human rights had been violated and that he is entitled
to parliamentary immunity. Debates on the matter were blocked
by National Assembly chairman Stefan Savov, who said that the
matter lies in the competence of the Constitutional Court. On
12 March Reuters quoted a BSP spokesman as saying Lukanov will
probably sue the government for "moral damages." (Rada Nikolaev)


BULGARIAN PENSIONERS DEMONSTRATE. Pensioners demanding an updating
of their pensions rallied in many places in the country on 12
March. In Sofia where Western agencies estimated the demonstrators
at 15,000, the rally was clearly influenced by the socialists,
and speakers called for resignation of the government. BTA reported
that in other places the demonstrators stressed their political
neutrality. (Rada Nikolaev)

CREDITS TO BULGARIA TO BE DELAYED? In a report by Vienna's Die
Presse on 11 March and picked up by several Sofia dailies the
next day, World Bank representative John Wilton was quoted as
saying that the IMF and World Bank are planning to delay the
second installment of the credits promised to Bulgaria. The reason
given is the continued lack of a law on privatization and the
lagging economic reform. Returning from the US on 12 March, Prime
Minister Filip Dimitrov assured Bulgarian Radio that the credits
will eventually be granted since they are linked to imminent
legislation. On 13 March BTA reported that several dailies had
disputed the reports on delay of the credits. (Rada Nikolaev)



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