|One must learn by doing the thing; though you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try. - Sophocles|
No. 52, 16 March 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR CIS AGREEMENT ON DEBT REPAYMENT. At their meeting in Moscow on 13 March, the heads of governments of the Commonwealth of Independent States reached agreement on a number of economic accords, CIS and Western agencies reported. Eight members agreed to take joint responsibility on repaying the convertible currency debt of the former USSR. Russia will repay about 61%, Ukraine about 16%, and the remainder will apparently be divided among the rest of the CIS members. Sixteen agreements were reportedly signed, including those on coordinating tax policies, pensions, and prices, plus a tentative accord on forming a banking union. An agreement on interstate economic ties was deferred. (Keith Bush) MORE ON MEETING OF CIS HEADS OF GOVERNMENT. The 13 March meeting of CIS heads of government was attended by representatives of all eleven member states plus an observer from Georgia. The Azerbaijani representative was not empowered, however, to sign any documents. An examination of the 16 documents signed shows that not all the republics signed every document, and also that Georgia, though not a member of CIS, signed several. Georgia signed the agreements on the external debt, internal debt, and food imports, while Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan did not sign the agreements on the external debt. Ukraine did not sign the agreements on the principles of customs policy, the commission for food imports, taxation policy, scientific matters, or standardization. Turkmenistan also declined to sign several documents. (Ann Sheehy) 18 REPUBLICS OF RUSSIAN FEDERATION INITIAL FEDERAL TREATY. On 13 March authorized representatives of Russia and 18 of its 20 constituent republics initialled the federal treaty delimiting powers between the Federation and the republics, Radio Mayak and ITAR-TASS reported. A representative of Tatarstan attended but did not initial the treaty. Checheno-Ingushetia was not represented at the gathering. The text of the treaty was issued by ITAR-TASS on 14 March. The treaty, which has been through numerous drafts, is regarded as essential to preserve the integrity of the Russian Federation, and the Russian leadership wants it signed as soon as possible so that it does not share the fate of the Union treaty. (Ann Sheehy) IN CHECHNYA. The Chechen parliament adopted a constitution on 12 March which declares Chechnya an independent secular state, Central TV reported. A working meeting between experts of the parliaments of Chechnya and Russia in Dagomys near Sochi ended on 14 March, ITAR-TASS reported. Both sides expressed satisfaction with the results. An agenda for official talks between Russia and Chechnya was drawn up which will be submitted to the two parliaments. At the same time Chechen spokesmen criticized the federal treaty and reiterated that Chechnya is an independent state. Russian TV, citing RIA, reported on 14 March that Chechnya had agreed not to shut off its oil pipelines to Russia before 17 March. The Presidium of the Russian parliament is expected to examine Chechnya's threat to cut off oil supplies if Russia does not immediately give Chechnya the rubles it is owed. (Ann Sheehy) TATARSTAN TO ALTER REFERENDUM QUESTION? The Tatarstan Supreme Soviet is expected to meet in extraordinary session on 16 March to amend the referendum question on the status of Tatarstan scheduled for 21 March, the Russian media reported on 14-15 March. The decision follows the ruling of the Russian Constitutional Court on 13 March that the referendum was unconstitutional insofar as the original formulation of the question means that Tatarstan is not part of the Russian Federation. According to Russian TV on 14 March, the Presidium of the Tatarstan Supreme Soviet will propose that the question now read simply: Do you agree that Tatarstan is a sovereign state? (Ann Sheehy) ORGANIZERS OF MARCH 17 CONGRESS VOW TO PRESS ON. The chairwoman of the organizing committee of the USSR Congress of People's Deputies, Sazhi Umalatova, said the meeting will go ahead on 17 March despite a ban by Russia's parliament, ITAR-TASS reported on 14 March. Umalatova told Sovetskaya Rossiya that 1,400 former USSR people's deputies had agreed to attend. Meanwhile, on 15 March, mass demonstrations were held in Moscow, St. Petersburg and several other Russian cities to demand the resurrection of the old Soviet Union, ITAR-TASS reported. (Vera Tolz) INTERREGIONAL DEPUTIES' GROUP CONDEMN USSR CONGRESS. The Interregional Deputies' Group (IDG), formed by liberal parliamentarians in 1989, held a press conference at which it denounced conservative plans to conduct a USSR Congress of People's Deputies, Central TV reported on 14 March. The IDG was represented at the press conference by St. Petersburg Mayor Anatolii Sobchak and Russian Deputy Premier Mikhail Poltoranin. Sobchak suggested the creation of a new political organization based on the IDG for support of Russian reform. Poltoranin said that reactionary forces in Russia are receiving instructions from ex-Soviet parliamentary leader Anatolii Lukyanov who is still in prison. (Alexander Rahr) RUTSKOI, TRAVKIN, GAIDAR JOIN FORCES. The Democratic Party of Russia and the People's Party of Free Russia have held a joint "Conference of Social Forces" in Moscow at which they agreed to join forces in halting the process of fragmentation in Russia, ITAR-TASS reported on 15 March. The leaders of the two parties, Nikolai Travkin and Aleksandr Rutskoi signed an agreement on close cooperation. Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Egor Gaidar and former Politburo member Aleksandr Yakovlev--who participated at the conference--hailed the agreement. Travkin and Rutskoi assured Gaidar that from now on they will fully support the Russian government's radical reform program. (Alexander Rahr) BUDGET DEFICIT TARGET. In a draft budget for 1992, circulated in the Russian parliament, First Deputy Prime Minister Egor Gaidar states his government's intention of lowering this year's budget deficit to 1.5% of the GNP, Reuters reported 12 March. This laudable aim will be difficult to attain. On the revenue side, some VAT rates have been cut, tax-generating sources like the retail trade turnover are well below last year's level and below projections, and tax collection remains defective. As for planned expenditure, the coal miners have already "driven a coach and horse through the wage restraint policy" and other groups are expected to follow suit, social payments are rocketing, and the subsidy bill remains high. (Keith Bush) BUDGET DEFICIT OUTTURN. In a study for the Russian government, an unidentified group of experts calls the budget deficit the "principal problem for the future of the Russian government." Some of their findings appeared in Izvestiya of 12 March, according to ITAR-TASS. They estimate that the Russian budget deficit will amount to 8% of the GNP during the first quarter of 1992. They anticipate drops of 14% in oil output, 18% in food output, and steep declines in other indicators. An "extremely unpleasant" finding is that the fall in production has not led to a restructuring of the economy. (Keith Bush) UNION OF OFFICERS SEES US/NATO THREAT. Stanislav Serekhov, the chairman of the Union of Officers, was quoted by "Vesti" on 14 March as saying that the United States and NATO remained potential military adversaries. The Union met in Moscow that day and agreed on a model for the future CIS joint armed forces which it intends to submit to the CIS heads of state during their 20 March meeting in Kiev. Serekhov said that a future military threat from the Asia-Pacific region, centered on Japan, could not be excluded. (Doug Clarke) NO NUKES IN THE TRANSCAUCASUS. Two high-ranking CIS military officers have reiterated that there are no nuclear weapons remaining in the Transcaucasus. General Boris Pyankov, the deputy commander in chief of the CIS Armed Forces, said in an interview broadcast on 14 March on Russian TV that while Azerbaijani forces had recently seized an ammunition depot in Agdam, there were no nuclear weapons stored there or anywhere else in the region. AFP on 14 March carried an announcement from Tbilisi by General Sufian Bepayev, the deputy commander of the CIS forces there, that all nuclear weapons had been withdrawn from Georgia. He said that the launchers for these weapons would be withdrawn by 1 April. (Doug Clarke) SAFETY OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS QUESTIONED. The head of a special security laboratory in the "atomic city" of Chelyabinsk-70 claims that the safety of nuclear weapons located in the former Soviet Union has "sharply deteriorated" in the past year. In an interview published by Komsomolskaya Pravda on 12 March, Gennadii Novikov said that there never has been nor is there now adequate state control over nuclear weapons. He blamed the separation of responsibilities among various departments and their penchant for secrecy. "We conceal information from one another, including information affecting security," he was quoted as saying. With the collapse of "discipline and order" he worried about the "purposeful seizure of nuclear ammunition." (Doug Clarke) BELARUS ALSO WORRIED ABOUT TRANSFERRED NUCLEAR WEAPONS. Ukraine is not alone in being concerned about the fate of tactical nuclear weapons being transferred to Russia for their destruction. On 15 March, ITAR-TASS quoted Belarusian Defense Minister Petr Chaus as saying that the Belarusian leadership is worried about the "totally insufficient lack of information, about the place and method of destruction" of nuclear arms transferred from Belarus to Russia. (Bohdan Nahaylo) DEFENSE OFFICIALS TAKEN HOSTAGE IN ZUGDIDI. Troops loyal to ousted Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia took two senior Georgian defense officials and a group of National Guardsmen hostage in the west Georgian town of Zugdidi on 13 March, Western media reported. The Georgian State Council decided on 15 March to send 300 elite troops to Zugdidi should the rebels fail to comply with a 48-hour ultimatum to surrender, Interfax reported. (Liz Fuller) ONE KARABAKH CEASE-FIRE COLLAPSES . . . Azerbaijani deputy interior minister Natik Talybov travelled to Nagorno-Karabakh on 13 March for peace talks with Armenian officials, Baku radio reported. A cease-fire agreed to during a telephone conversation on 13 March between acting Azerbaijani President Yakub Mamedov and Nagorno-Karabakh parliament Chairman Artur Mkrtchyan collapsed the following day, Western agencies reported, but according to RIA a planned exchange of hostages and prisoners went ahead as planned. More deaths were reported on 15 March in renewed Armenian and Azerbaijani artillery and rocket attacks on the towns of Shusha and Stepanakert. (Liz Fuller) BUT IRANIAN MEDIATION SUCCESSFUL. On 15 March the Russian Ambassador to Tehran, Vladimir Gurov, joined talks between Armenian and Azerbaijani representatives chaired by Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati that had begun the previous day. Armenian and Azerbaijani deputy foreign ministers subsequently approved a draft agreement on a cease-fire to go into effect within one week, the exchange of prisoners and the bodies of those killed, and the lifting of economic sanctions, IRNA reported. (Liz Fuller) UN, CSCE MISSIONS TO NAGORNO-KARABAKH. UN special envoy Cyrus Vance departs 16 March on a fact-finding mission to Armenia, Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh at the behest of UN Secretary-General Boutros Ghali, Western agencies reported on 13 March. CSCE officials announced in Helsinki on 14 March that the CSCE will also send a mission to Nagorno-Karabakh this week to explore the possibilities for arranging an immediate cease-fire and sending observers to monitor it. The CSCE will also convene an international conference on Nagorno-Karabakh; the venue will be decided on 24 March at a meeting of CSCE foreign ministers. (Liz Fuller) KARIMOV IN CHINA. Uzbek President Islam Karimov ended a two-day visit to China on 14 March, during which he met with government head Li Pen and signed fourteen documents, ITAR-TASS reported. The documents included agreements on cooperation in culture, education, health, tourism and sport, science and transport, and also an agreement on consultations between the two countries at the foreign ministry level. ITAR-TASS reported on 13 March that Karimov told his Chinese hosts that Uzbekistan wanted to establish ties with China as an equal, and would study the Chinese experience in modernization. (Bess Brown) LEFT-BANK RUSSIANS IN MOLDOVA RAIDING RIGHT BANK. Between 9 and 13 March, "Dniester republic" guardsmen and Don Cossacks crossed over repeatedly from the left onto the right bank of the Dniester, shooting up or disarming several Moldovan police posts and patrols in Moldovan villages around the major right-bank city of Bendery which the "Dniester guard" largely controls. The Moldovan media reported that the police suffered several killed and wounded, but the casualty figures are not firm. Krasnaya zvezda of 6 March quoted a member of Bendery's Joint Council of Work Collectives, the dominant political force in the "Dniester republic," as saying that they will never renounce "this last patch of Soviet power" on the right bank. (Vladimir Socor) EASTERN EUROPE BALTIC STATES WOERNER IN THE BALTIC. Visiting Latvia on 13 and 14 March, NATO Secretary-General Manfred Woerner discussed with Latvian leaders European security and the pullout of troops of the former Soviet Union from the Baltic States. Woerner said it is in NATO's interest that the Baltic States maintain their independence and expressed the hope that the troop withdrawal can be accomplished peacefully, especially since all the parties involved are now members of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council. On 14 March Woerner flew to Tallinn for talks with Estonian Supreme Council Chairman Arnold Ruutel on the troop withdrawal question. He continued on to Vilnius, where he met with Lithuanian Supreme Council Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis on 15 March. On 16 March he will meet Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius, Foreign Minister Algirdas Saudargas, and National Defense Minister Audrius Butkevicius before holding a press conference. In addition to the troop withdrawal question, the discussions will touch upon Lithuania's integration into the European Security system and subsequently into its defense system. Local and Western media covered the story. (Dzintra Bungs & Saulius Girnius) BALTS PROTEST MANEUVERS. Baltic and Western media report that exercises of the former USSR air force have been planned over Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania on 17 March. The exercises were announced by Lt. Gen. A. Ivanov, commander of a division stationed in St. Petersburg. The plans were not coordinated with the Baltic governments. Military exercises have also been scheduled on Estonian and Lithuanian territory for 13-19 March. These activities are being protested by the Baltic governments. On 16 March Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian leaders are to meet in Jurmala to discuss ways to speed up the withdrawal of ex-Soviet troops from their countries. (Dzintra Bungs) ICELAND: BALTIC COUNCIL PART OF GERMAN SPHERE OF INFLUENCE. Iceland's Foreign Minister Jon Baldvin Hannibalsson told a conference in Reykjavik that the newly formed Council of the Baltic Sea States should be considered part of "a German sphere of influence," Reuters reported on 13 March. He felt that the ten-nation Baltic council would also mean the end of the Nordic Council comprising Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. (Dzintra Bungs) SAJUDIS PARLIAMENT SESSION. On 14 March the Sajudis parliament held a session that reelected Juozas Tumelis as its chairman, the RFE/RL Lithuanian Service reports. Honorary Sajudis Chairman Landsbergis deplored the efforts of some previous Sajudis council members to condemn the resolutions of the Third Sajudis Congress. Five people that he recommended for inclusion in the Sajudis Council were elected as were parliament deputies Zita Slicyte and Algirdas Patackas. Some notable members who had withdrawn from the Sajudis leadership have thus returned to active participation. The session also approved a resolution calling on the leaders of Lithuanian Radio and TV to resign. (Saulius Girnius) LITHUANIA PLANS TO REFINE WESTERN CRUDE FOR HARD CURRENCY. On 13 March Deputy Energy Minister Robertas Tamosiunas said that Lithuania is building an oil import terminal at Klaipeda and a 125-km pipeline to the Mazeikiai oil refinery, Reuters reports. The refinery, capable of refining 12-13 million tons of crude oil per year, is now operating at only 40% capacity due to the cut in oil supplies from the CIS. Foreign oil companies have expressed interest in refining crude oil at Mazeikiai and selling the product for hard currency. Tamosiunas also noted that the CIS has agreed to pay Lithuania $9 per ton for oil exports through Klaipeda, which has a capacity of about 15 million tons per year. (Saulius Girnius) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE DUBCEK TO LEAD SLOVAK SOCIAL DEMOCRATS IN ELECTIONS. Alexander Dubcek, engineer of the 1968 "Prague Spring" of communist reform, joined the Social Democratic Party in Slovakia (SDSS) on 15 March, Western media report. The announcement was coupled with the SDSS Council's decision that Dubcek will head the party's list in the 5-6 June parliamentary elections. Dubcek's move is calculated to boost SDSS chances in the elections. The party will not run in coalition with the Party of the Democratic Left, the former communists. Like President Vaclav Havel, Dubcek supports the idea of federal Czechoslovakia, but he is likely to call for more economic and political autonomy for Slovakia in line with the nationalist mood prevalent in the republic. (Peter Matuska) SLOVAK ANNIVERSARY MARKED. On 14 March a few thousand people demanded independence for Slovakia at a demonstration marking the 53rd anniversary of the Slovak state founded on the eve of World War II. The demonstrators criticized Slovak Premier Jan Carnogursky and federal parliamentary leader Alexander Dubcek as having sold out Slovakia, Reuters report. The people were urged to vote in June elections for parties which promise an independent Slovakia "at any price." Slovakia's main political parties distanced themselves from the demonstration, which was organized by the extreme nationalist extra-parliamentary Party of Slovak Unity. (Peter Matuska) DIENSTBIER ON FEDERATION. On 14 March at a congress of the Czech Civic Movement (OH) in Prague, Foreign Minister Jiri Dienstbier said only a referendum can decide on a possible split of Czechoslovakia's federation into two separate states, Western agencies report. He said a common Czechoslovak state can only exist as an expression of the will of the citizens of both Czech and Slovak republics. The Civic Movement named President Vaclav Havel as its candidate for president when parliament chooses a new leader after the June elections. Dienstbier won reelection as chairman of the party. (Peter Matuska) WARSAW ANNOUNCES FUEL PRICE RISE. In an unexpected move, the Polish government announced on 14 March that the price of gasoline and other fuels will go up by between 20 and 31.5%. According to Western and Polish media, CPN, the state fuel distributor, will increase the price of 94-octane gasoline by 27.5% to 6,500 zloty a liter. Unleaded gasoline will rise by 20% and diesel fuel by 31.5%. The increases are the result of the growing cost of imported fuel caused by the falling value of the zloty and a rise in the tax on imported and domestic fuels. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) OLECHOWSKI SEEKS IMF AND WORLD BANK SUPPORT. Finance Minister Andrzej Olechowski left Warsaw on 15 March for talks with IMF and World Bank officials in Washington. He said he expects to reach an agreement with the IMF about the Polish government's economic program and wants to "reassure them that what we are planning is prudent." He also plans to urge the World Bank to raise new financing to further reform the economy and to ask US Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady for technical assistance for Poland. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) DUBYNIN: USSR WAS READY TO INVADE POLAND IN 1981. Russian general Viktor Dubynin said that in 1981 Moscow was ready to send the Soviet Army into Poland to crash the Solidarity movement if martial law had not been declared. "If General Jaruzelski had not acted, our divisions would have entered Polish territory on 14 December. Everything was ready," he told Gazeta wyborcza on 14 March. "The Polish Army would have been neutralized. It would have had no chance to resist. Soviet troops would have been in every town in no more than two days." Dubynin commands the former Soviet Army's Northern Group of Forces stationed in Poland and is in charge of its withdrawal. In 1981 he was a division commander in neighboring Belarus. Commenting on the interview, Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski said he was not surprised by Dubynin's statement but did find it strange that for over ten years many people did not recognize the truth. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) HUNGARY GETS NAMES OF WAR PRISONERS. On 13 March Radio Budapest quoted Gusztav Menczer, director of the social department of the Compensation Office, that Hungary will receive from archives in Russia a list of at least 35,000 war prisoners whose names had been verified already. The total number might reach 60,000, although many names will remain unknown. The archives were opened following the signing of the Hungarian-Russian Treaty last December. The daily Uj Magyarorszag plans to print the names at regular intervals. The survivors will receive compensation in form of higher pensions. (Judith Pataki) VERBAL CLASHES AT HUNGARIAN HOLIDAY CELEBRATION. According to Radio Budapest on 14 March, the Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party (Communist) held its celebration of Hungary's national holiday in Debrecen a day early and under police protection in order to protect it from the crowd gathered to protest their presence. The counterdemonstration against the communists was called by the Association of Political Prisoners and the Association of Historical Justice. Only verbal clashes were reported. (Judith Pataki) NASTASE IN MOSCOW. Romanian Foreign Minister Adrian Nastase said on 14 March in Moscow that Romanian-Russian relations do not face great difficulties. The agenda of his visit included completing a draft bilateral treaty and discussing possible dates for a visit by President Boris Yeltsin to Romania. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, Nastase said, appreciates Romania's position on the need of a peaceful solution of the ongoing fighting in Moldova. He denied Romania's military involvement in the fighting and deplored the intervention of "Cossack units" and other foreign elements. (Mihai Sturdza) 1991 POLLUTION LEVELS IN ROMANIA. A representative of the Ministry for Economy and Industry said on 13 March that in 1991 128 million tons of toxic waste were released in the atmosphere. Chemical and industrial plants were primarily responsible for the 5 million tons of liquid waste poured into the country's rivers, while chemical and oil refining industries discharged 260 million tons of toxic waste into the soil. A seminar organized by the Ministry of Environment opened in Bucharest on 13 March. (Mihai Sturdza) BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER'S US VISIT ASSESSED. Both during Filip Dimitrov's 11-day business visit in the US and after his return on 12 March, Bulgarian media have been extensively reporting and commenting on its results. The unusually positive comments by Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger and by US media were noted as a definite plus for Bulgaria's image. On 14 March on Bulgarian TV Dimitrov reviewed his visit, emphasizing its political aspects, in particular the American appreciation of the stability in Bulgaria's democratization process and its coping with ethnic tension. He also expressed satisfaction with his numerous business meetings and the prospects for economic cooperation they generated. (Rada Nikolaev) BULGARIA'S FOREIGN DEBT. Coinciding with part of Dimitrov's visit, Minister of Finance Ivan Kostov also visited the US, returning on 14 March. In interviews on Bulgarian Radio and TV he said he had obtained the support of the World Bank and IMF in the forthcoming negotiations on Bulgaria's foreign debt. A reduction of the debt with the London Club of commercial banks and a deferment of the part owed to the Paris Club of official creditors will be sought. Kostov acknowledged that the IMF and the World Bank have expressed some dissatisfaction with the delay of Bulgaria's law on privatization. (Rada Nikolaev) BULGARIAN-TURKISH RELATIONS. The official visit of Minister of Defense Dimitar Ludzhev to Turkey ended on 13 March. Throughout, the visit was assessed as essentially political in nature with an emphasis on increasing mutual confidence. Bulgarian media report that the two countries agreed to abolish visa requirements and President Turgut Oezal was invited to visit Bulgaria in May. On the military side, both countries will pull their troops back from the border. An agreement on military cooperation is ready to be signed in Sofia by a Turkish delegation, part of which has already arrived. (Rada Nikolaev)
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