Words that open our eyes to the world are always the easiest to remember. - Ryszard Kapuscinski
RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 55, 19 March 1992





SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR

ARMENIA DECLARES STATE OF EMERGENCY. The Armenian Foreign Ministry
declared a state of emergency throughout Armenia on 18 March
in response to what it terms Azerbaijan's "intolerable" economic
blockade, Radio Erevan reported. The statement stressed that
Armenia has no territorial claims either on Nagorno- Karabakh
or on Azerbaijan, but is demanding self-determination for Nagorno-Karabakh
and seeking a political solution to the problem. The statement
calls on the international community to put pressure on Azerbaijan
to end the blockade which, it says, could otherwise lead to an
expansion of the ongoing conflict. (Liz Fuller)

MEETING BETWEEN TER-PETROSSYAN AND MAMEDOV CALLED OFF. Armenian
President Levon Ter-Petrossyan has called off his meeting with
acting Azerbaijani President Yakub Mamedov scheduled for 19 March
on the eve of the CIS heads of state summit in Kiev because of
the Azerbaijani economic blockade, a spokesman told Western agencies
on 18 March. Radio Erevan said the chairman of the Nagorno-Karabakh
parliament, Artur Mkrtchyan, sent a telegram to Ukrainian President
Leonid Kravchuk requesting that representatives from Nagorno-Karabakh
be permitted to attend the meeting and that the Karabakh issue
should be included on the agenda. (Liz Fuller)

UKRAINE REPEATS PLEDGE ON NUCLEAR ARMS, BUT . . . Interfax reported
on 18 March that Ukraine's president Leonid Kravchuk assured
Russian President Boris Yeltsin by phone on 16 March that Ukraine
will stick to its declared commitment of removing all tactical
nuclear weapons from its territory by 1 July. However, Kravchuk
advisor Mykola Mykhalchenko told Reuters that Ukraine "has every
reason not to trust the leaders of Russia." The transfer of weapons
to Russia for destruction would be resumed, he said, only if
the West could monitor what became of the weapons once they reached
Russia. (Bohdan Nahaylo)

BELARUS TO SET UP OWN ARMY. The parliament of Belarus voted on
18 March to establish a national army, ITAR-TASS reported. The
move follows the announcement on 16 March that Russia would form
its own defense ministry. (Elizabeth Teague)

GEORGIAN PROCURATOR DEMANDS GAMSAKHURDIA HANDOVER. Georgian Procurator
Vakhtang Razmadze has appealed to Chechen President General Dzhokhar
Dudaev to hand over ousted Georgian president Zviad Gamsakhurdia,
currently resident in Groznyi, so he can be brought to trial,
Sakinform-TASS reported. An investigation indicates that Gamsakhurdia
may be implicated in the embezzlement of up to 36 million rubles
from the Georgian state budget and also in smuggling activities.
(Liz Fuller)

CIS GENERAL KIDNAPPED ON UKRAINIAN TERRITORY? Has a serving CIS
army commander been kidnapped by Moldovan authorities on Ukrainian
territory? It is claimed by the chairman of the Supreme Soviet
of the rebel "Dniester Republic" in Moldova, Grigorii Marakutsa,
as reported on 18 March by Moscow RIA, that the commander of
the 14th Army, Lieutenant General Gennadii Yakovlev, was kidnapped
by masked gunmen on 17 March in Ukraine's Razdelnyansky district
while traveling to Odessa and is being detained in Chisinau.
A Moldovan Interior Ministry official is quoted by Moscow RIA
as denying any knowledge of this incident. (Bohdan Nahaylo)

DECONTROL OF OIL PRICES. At a news conference in Moscow on 18
March, Russian Economics Minister Andrei Nechaev confirmed that
the prices of oil and petroleum products will be fully decontrolled,
ITAR-TASS reported, but the decontrol will occur not on April
1, as had been widely rumored, but "significantly later." Nechaev
did not specify a date, but it is assumed that he meant later
this year. It has been proposed that the price of coal also be
decontrolled, but coalminers have demurred because coal cannot
compete with other fuels; Nechaev intimated that the price will
eventually be freed and that state subsidies will be necessary.
The prices of natural gas and electricity will remain controlled.
He reckoned that the freeing of prices on energy carriers will
result in a general price hike of 50-70%. (Keith Bush)

MINIMUM PAY AND MINIMUM PENSIONS TO BE RAISED. To compensate
for the anticipated price hike, Nechaev announced that it was
proposed to double minimum pay rates and minimum pensions in
the Russian Federation. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr
Shokhin elaborated on the proposed increases during a parliamentary
session. Starting in the second quarter, and by regional stages,
he suggested that a new monthly minimum wage of 750 rubles be
introduced, while a new monthly minimum pension of 650 rubles
should be instituted by the pension law that will come into effect
on 1 May. (The current minimum wage and pension are both 342
rubles a month). Increases are also recommended in child and
student benefits. (Keith Bush)

SOBCHAK WARNS AGAINST FUEL PRICE DEREGULATION. St. Petersburg
Mayor Anatolii Sobchak warned that the Russian government might
fall if it frees fuel prices. At a news conference on 18 March,
reported by Interfax, Sobchak said that deregulation of fuel
prices would be "heart failure and death" for the country, but
since nations do not die, "the government will." Sobchak called
for breathing space to analyze the results of the first stage
of the reform and also to understand that privatization and land
reform will take time. (Sobchak had earlier criticized the Yeltsin
government for freeing prices before commencing privatization).
(Keith Bush)

MOVES TO COORDINATE MONETARY POLICY IN THE CIS. Rossiiskaya gazeta
reported on 18 March that the central banks of the CIS states
had agreed to create a joint body to coordinate the control of
the money supply. Like the freeing of oil prices, this is probably
the outcome at least in part of IMF pressure. (Philip Hanson)


93% OF RUSSIANS BELOW POVERTY LEVEL. A study by the Russian Goskomstat
found that only 7% of the population had a monthly per capita
income of more than 1,500 rubles--deemed to be the "minimum subsistence
income"--in February, Interfax reported on 18 March. The average
per capita income was said to be 895 rubles a month. The average
pay of workers and employees in January 1992 was 1,440 rubles,
which was 350% higher than in January 1991. Retail prices, however,
were higher by a factor of 11 than in February 1991 and 380%
higher than in December 1991. (Keith Bush)

ARMS FOR SALE. Buyers with hard currency can purchase front-line
jet bombers, tanks, and even a former nuclear missile site. Rossiiskaya
gazeta on 17 March quoted Kazakh businessmen and officials as
saying that, as of May, entrepreneurs in Kazakhstan will be selling
Su-24 "Fencer" all-weather jet bombers and a still-secret military
electronic device. On 11 March Literaturnaya gazeta revealed
that 40 combat helicopters and 90 T-55 and T-62 tanks were recently
sold for scrap at the Tashkent exchange. The paper said that
there had been "whispered reports" during that sale about the
availability of jet bombers. Postfactum on 17 March reported
that the Far Eastern Military District had received approval
to sell off a former nuclear missile site, and planned to offer
it for $10 million. While not identified, the description of
the site matches the former SS-12 complex at Novosysoyevka, some
115 kilometers north of Vladivostok. (Doug Clarke)

KYRGYZSTAN TO SELL URANIUM. Kyrgyz president Askar Akaev told
a press conference in New Delhi that Kyrgyzstan plans to sell
uranium under International Atomic Energy Agency supervision,
Western agencies reported on 18 March. Akaev, who is on a three-day
visit to India, promised that uranium would not be sold to states
identified as "undesirable" by the UN, but said India could buy
enriched uranium from his country if it wished. Noting that all
the Central Asian countries have set out on their own courses,
Akaev said he saw little possibility of a confederation of Islamic
states in Central Asia. (Bess Brown)

MORE ON KAZAKH MISSILES. Kazakh officials are still smarting
over stories in Stern and the New York Times that missiles with
nuclear warheads disappeared from Kazakhstan and turned up in
Iran. The March 18 issue of Nezavisimaya gazeta quoted the first
deputy chairman of Kazakhstan's State Defense Committee, Seidabek
Altynbekov, as saying that all tactical nuclear weapons have
already been removed from Kazakhstan, and it would be impossible
to misplace strategic missiles. The Moscow newspaper said Kazakh
officials were convinced the story of the lost missiles had been
invented to persuade public opinion that Kazakhstan was incapable
of controlling its own nuclear potential. (Bess Brown)

RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT MEETING ON TATARSTAN REFERENDUM. The Russian
parliament voted on 18 March to hold a special session on 19
March to discuss the situation in Tatarstan in connection with
the 21 March referendum on the state sovereignty of the republic,
ITAR-TASS reported. The decision was a reaction to the Tatarstan
parliament's refusal to take note of the Russian Constitutional
Court's ruling on 13 March that parts of the question being put
to referendum were unconstitutional on the grounds that a "yes"
vote would mean Tatarstan was no longer part of the Russian Federation.
The chairman of the Constitutional Court, Valerii Zorkin, addressed
the parliamentary session and called on the authorities to enforce
the ruling. (Ann Sheehy)

YELTSIN TO SPEAK ON EVE OF REFERENDUM. Yeltsin has agreed to
speak on Russian TV on the eve of the Tatarstan referendum, ITAR-TASS
reported on 18 March. Yeltsin had been asked to do so at his
meeting with parliamentary factions on 18 March. When one deputy
said that, in his view, Tatarstan had effectively seceded from
the Russian Federation already, Yeltsin said he was not so pessimistic;
"the main thing is to act carefully, gradually, and in a friendly
manner." Since there seems to be nothing the authorities can
do to stop the referendum going ahead, Yeltsin is presumably
hoping to encourage a "no" vote. (Ann Sheehy)

RUSSIAN KRAIS AND OBLASTS INITIAL FEDERAL TREATY. Authorized
representatives of 53 krais and oblasts of the Russian Federation
and of the cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg initialled the
treaty on delimiting powers between their territories and the
Russian federal authorities at a meeting in Moscow on 18 March,
ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. The treaty is a counterpart
to the federal treaty initialled by 18 of the 20 republics of
the Russian Federation on 13 March. The signing of the two treaties,
which the Russian leadership hopes will take place in the near
future, is regarded as important for preserving the integrity
of the Russian Federation. (Ann Sheehy)

SLOWER DECLINE IN RUSSIAN OUTPUT AHEAD? Russian Economics Minister
Andrei Nechaev is forecasting a slower decline in industrial
output in the near future than in the recent past, Western agencies
reported on 18 March. He said February's level was 12.5% below
February 1991, and January's was 15% down from the previous January.
This in fact is worse than the decline between 1990 and 1991,
reported at 8%, but Nechaev claims to find the deceleration in
February encouraging. He also said that the social response to
shock therapy had been encouragingly calm, but limited subsidies
would be needed to avert the closure of food-processing plants.
(Philip Hanson)

KOZYREV TO JAPAN. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev completed
talks with South Korean Foreign Minister Yi Sang-ok on 18 March.
On 19 March, he went on to Tokyo, the final leg of his Asia tour,
for talks with Japanese officials. During his news conference
in Beijing on 17 March, Kozyrev said that a peace treaty with
Japan "is on the agenda today," adding, "although we should not
rush here; we will have to tackle this problem, including a final
territorial settlement," ITAR-TASS reported on 17 March. (Suzanne
Crow)

SAMSONOV SUPPORTS RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY. In a conversation
with military journalists reported by TASS on 17 March, Col.
Gen. Viktor Samsonov--the chief of the general staff of the CIS
armed forces--applauded the creation of a Russian defense ministry.
"I am in favor of any entity that would be subject to the law
and would be operative," he said, adding "We cannot carry on
like this or there will be a total collapse." Samsonov complained
that the expensive creation of a defensive perimeter built up
over the years had been broken by "the short-sighted policy of
certain leaders." In the event of a future conflict, "hope can
only be pinned on the forces in the center of Russia." (Doug
Clarke)

MOLDOVA UNABLE TO COPE WITH RUSSIAN INSURGENCY. Addressing an
extraordinary session of the Moldovan parliament, Prime Minister
Valeriu Muravschi was cited by Moldovapres on 18 March as saying
that "it was increasingly difficult to contain the ['Dniester'
Russian] Guard and the Cossacks" in their offensive in eastern
Moldova. The republic must either raise a military force or seek
international support, he said. Replying to a group of deputies
who urged that Moldovan volunteers be sent to defend the left
bank of the Dniester, Defense Minister Ion Costas told parliament
that "What we face on the left bank are military professionals
endowed with heavy armament." Addressing the same parliamentary
session, President Mircea Snegur expressed his "puzzlement" at
the Russian government's and parliament's failure to respond
to a series of messages from Moldova in recent weeks, asking
Russia to clarify its attitude to the Russian insurgency in eastern
Moldova and the participation of armed units of citizens of Russia
in the fighting on Moldovan territory. (Vladimir Socor)

BALTIC STATES



EC COMMISSIONER CALLS FOR BALTIC TRANSPORT NETWORK. On 18 March
EC Commissioner for Transport Karel van Miert told an international
transport conference in Szczecin that "a joint effort should
be undertaken for the planning and financing" of transport networks
to help reestablish the Baltic as one of Europe's great trade
areas, a RFE/RL correspondent in Brussels reports. His appeal
to the European Investment Bank, the World Bank, the EBRD, and
the G-24 to consider ways for paying for new transport links
is the first time an EC official has called for outside financing
for European transport projects. An important part of the transport
plans is the building of the Via Baltica highway through these
states. (Saulius Girnius)

SOME EX-SOVIET SOLDIERS LEAVE LATVIA. Forty-nine soldiers and
officers of the former USSR armed forces are leaving their base
in Bolderaja, a seaside community near Riga, on 19 March; they
are taking with them 29 units of unspecificed technical equipment.
Their families went to Russia earlier. The convoy is expected
to cross the Latvian-Russian border en route to Vyborg on the
mid-morning of 20 March, Radio Riga reports. (Dzintra Bungs)


MILITARY FLIGHTS OVER ESTONIA. Although the Russian Air Force
exercises over the Baltic States scheduled for 17 March have
been called off, Radio Tallinn reports "intensive military flights"
over Estonia, specifically in the vicinity of Paldiski and Amari.
Noting that the Estonian authorities had not yet issued their
evaluation of the nature and purpose of the flights, Radio Tallinn
also mentioned the troop movements in Latvia that day and linked
the military activities in the Baltics to the events in Moscow.
(Dzintra Bungs)

SOVIET TROOP WITHDRAWAL TALKS CONTINUE. On 18 and 19 March a
13-member Lithuanian delegation headed by Minister without Portfolio
Aleksandras Abisala holds talks in the Lithuanian embassy Moscow
on the withdrawal of former Soviet troops from Lithuania, Radio
Lithuania reports. The previous round of talks was held on 11-14
February. The Lithuanians had sent the Russian side 4 proposals
on the timing and terms of the withdrawal, rules for the withdrawing
troops, and other legal and organizational questions. (Saulius
Girnius)

RUSSIA STILL LAGS IN OIL SUPPLIES TO LATVIA. Ziedonis Blumbergs,
deputy Minister for Industry and Energy in Latvia, told Reuters
on 18 March that despite Russia's failure to supply the promised
petroleum products, Latvia does not yet intend to close the Ventspils
harbor to Russian exports. Such a retaliatory step has been considered,
but, Blumbergs said, if it were taken then "we'd lose too." For
the first three months of 1992 Russia had agreed to send Latvia
22,000 tons of gasoline, 18,000 tons of diesel, 153,000 tons
of fuel oil, and 15,000 tons of liquid petroleum. (Dzintra Bungs)


LATVIAN SUPREME COUNCIL ON PRIVATIZATION. On 17 March the Latvian
Supreme Council adopted additional legislation on privatization,
including a law on commissions to handle the privatization of
state and municipal property and a decree extending the registration
deadline from 15 March to 1 July 1992. BNS reports that only
about one-sixth of the agricultural enterprises that are to be
privatized have been registered with the Enterprise Registry
of Latvia. (Dzintra Bungs)

VAGNORIUS CONCLUDES SWEDEN VISIT. On 18 March Lithuanian Prime
Minister Gediminas Vagnorius returned to Vilnius after a two-day
visit to Sweden, Radio Lithuania reports. He was accompanied
by Minister of International Economic Relations Vytenis Aleskaitis,
parliament foreign affairs commission chairman Vidmantas Povilionis,
and the president of Lithuania's Investment Bank. On 18 March
he met Swedish opposition leaders Pierre Schori and Mats Carlson
and spoke at the Swedish Export Council and Swedish Foreign Politics
Institute. (Saulius Girnius)

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

BOSNIAN LEADERS REACH AGREEMENT. . . Radio Sarajevo reported
on 18 March that the leaders of Bosnia-Herzegovina's three ruling
ethnic parties have agreed in principle to reshape the political
and constitutional make up of the multiethnic republic. The leaders
also agreed to reorganize the republic into three autonomous
ethnic units for Muslims, Serbs, and Croats. The agreement guarantees
full political and religious freedom, respect for human rights,a
free enterprise system and a market economy, and a two-chamber
parliament in which each of the ethnic groups will have an equal
number of representatives. The central government will run foreign,
monetary, and defense policy. Each of the three ethnic units
will have powers over trade and economic issues, education, police,
and social security. It is not yet clear, however, how much power
the central government will have over the three units. The issue
of a Bosnian army will be decided at a later date. (Milan Andrejevich)


. . . BUT BORDERS REMAIN UNCLEAR. The agreement, brokered by
EC official Jose Cutilheiro, states that Bosnia-Herzegovina will
be composed of national units taking into account as yet undefined
"economic, geographic, and other criteria." The current borders
of the republic will remain intact, according to the agreement.
The boundaries of each unit would be decided by the national
absolute or relative majority in each of the republic's 109 municipalities.
However, the problem with the formulation is that few ethnic
boundaries can be clearly defined. One-fourth of the republic's
population live in areas that are ethnically mixed. Talks are
to resume on 30 March. (Milan Andrejevich)

GENERAL STRIKE IN SLOVENIA. Radio Croatia reports on 18 March
that some 400,000 Slovenian workers took part in a one hour general
warning strike over the rapid decline in the standard of living
brought on by the government's failure to introduce a comprehensive
economic reform program. The strike was organized by two independent
trade unions, but its effect was weakened because of disagreements
between the unions. Mass rallies were called off at the last
minute. The government viewed the strike as an attempt by opposition
parties to bring down the government. Organizers say another
strike is being planned for mid-April. (Milan Andrejevich)

WARSAW APPROVES 1992 BUDGET. On 18 March the cabinet gave final
approval to a proposed 1992 budget that requires sharp spending
cuts and higher taxes to trim Poland's deficit. Government spokesman
Marcin Gugulski told reporters "nobody is hiding the fact that
this is a difficult budget." The government has promised the
IMF that it will keep the deficit below 5% of Poland's gross
domestic product. On 17 March the IMF gave Finance Minister Andrzej
Olechowski conditional approval for the proposed budget, which
still must be passed by the Sejm. Parliamentary approval of the
budget would allow Poland to regain access to $1.5 billion in
IMF loans, Western and Polish media report. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz)


POLAND PROTESTS TO LITHUANIA OVER MINORITY COUNCILS. On 18 March
Warsaw protested to Vilnius what it said is a failure to set
a date for local council elections in the two Polish- populated
areas of Lithuania. Foreign Ministry official Jacek Czaputowicz
told Lithuanian charge d'affaires in Warsaw Dainius Junevicius
that Poland considers this a breach of the cooperation and friendship
Agreement signed in January. The two local councils in Lithuania
were dissolved in September after the attempted coup in Moscow.
According to Western and Polish media, Vilnius promised new elections
without setting a date. The accord also promised Poles the right
to be educated in Polish, to spell their names in Polish, and
to receive Lithuanian citizenship without having to declare their
loyalty to Vilnius. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz)

FORMER CZECHOSLOVAK DISSIDENTS DEFEND JAN KAVAN. Twenty-four
prominent opponents of the former regime, including current Foreign
Minister Jiri Dienstbier, on 18 March denounced the state's case
against parliamentary deputy Jan Kavan. Kavan, who led a dissident
group from London before returning to Czechoslovakia, is among
those deputies accused of contacts with the former communist
secret police (STB). CSTK says the former dissidents demand an
unbiased analysis of the case and say that they never saw any
evidence that Kavan collaborated with the STB. Adding to the
controversy, BBC television recently alleged that Kavan has not
been telling the truth. (Barbara Kroulik)

HAVEL: NO DANGER OF AUTHORITARIAN RULE. Czechoslovak President
Vaclav Havel says he does not believe there is a danger of his
country's democratic system being overthrown by an authoritarian
regime. But he said it is necessary to strengthen democratic
institutions. His made the comments in an interview with the
German weekly Die Zeit of 19 March. He also dismissed fears that
Czechoslovakia is being "Germanized." (Barbara Kroulik)

INVESTIGATION AGAINST FORMER COMMUNIST PARTY STARTED. According
to a 17 March Radio Budapest report Miklos Gaspar, a deputy of
the Christian Democratic Peoples' Party, was asked in parliament
about millions of dollars that were sent illegally to the Soviet
Union by the former Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party. Chief
Prosecutor Kalman Gyorgyi admitted that preliminary investigations
begun on 18 February lend credence to the charges and that the
case is now being investigated, but said it is too early to make
any conclusions. (Judith Pataki)

HUNGARIAN AGRICULTURAL COOPERATIVES OPERATE ON DEFICIT. According
to the National Association of Agricultural Cooperatives and
Producers, the 1991 losses of Hungary's agricultural cooperatives
were greater than expected, MTI reported on 16 March. Losses
amounted to some 19 billion forint ($152 million) while profits
were below 5 billion forint ($40 million). Two-thirds (800) of
the agricultural co-ops closed the year with a deficit and the
state sector of agriculture is expected to show similarly poor
results. (Alfred Reisch)

HUNGARIAN FOOD INDUSTRY IN CRISIS. Participants at a conference
dealing with the situation of the Hungarian food industry warned
that forceful government measures will be needed to avert a crisis,
MTI reported on 18 March. Food industry representatives pointed
out that production dropped by 10% in 1991 and the number of
employees by 7% compared with 1990. Currently, every fourth company
in the food industry faces bankruptcy. (Edith Oltay)

HUNGARIAN-AMERICAN MILITARY COOPERATION. Hungarian Defense Minister
Lajos Fur told Radio Budapest on 18 March following talks with
Pentagon officials in Washington that a joint committee headed
by Hungarian and US deputy secretaries of state will coordinate
military cooperation between the two countries. The committee
will first convene in Washington in May this year. Fur also announced
that the number of Hungarian military officers sent for studies
in the US will be increased. (Edith Oltay)

ROMANIAN MILITARY COMPLAINS ABOUT INSUFFICIENT BUDGET. Defense
Minister Lt. Gen. Nicolae Spiroiu said on 17 March that Romania's
military forces need a minimum of 358 billion lei in 1992 to
modernize their training and equipment, and for maintenance costs.
Parliament has allotted only 137 billion lei. The defense budget
provides some $750 million--26% less than in 1991--for arms,
ammunition, and fuel. The army also provides medical care to
veterans and reserve officers and their families, together making
up 10% of Romania's population, as well as for running the elite
Elias Hospital. Spiroiu said that the army's state allotment
for medical care is only 671 million lei although it should expect
about 10% of the country's total health budget of 14 billion
lei. (Mihai Sturdza)

UDF PREPARES NATIONAL CONFERENCE. The National Coordinating Council
of the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) met on 17 March to settle
details of the national conference earlier postponed from February
to April and now set for 11-12 April. Some 1,500 to 1,800 participants
will include 15 representatives of each member party plus nationwide
local representation. Guests from several international organizations
will be invited. UDF spokesmen also were quoted by the Sofia
dailies as saying that the conference will approve a memorandum
on the UDF's coalition character. On the current discussion of
restoring monarchy they said that, although in the UDF there
are both republicans and monarchists, they have agreed that the
issue might only become topical after the communist system has
been totally dismantled. Until then they will firmly support
the republic. (Rada Nikolaev) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Elizabeth
Teague & Charles Trumbull



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