Genius is an African who dreams up snow. Vladimir Nabokov - Vladimir Nabokov
RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 57, 23 March 1992





SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR

TATARSTAN VOTES FOR INDEPENDENCE. Despite a last minute appeal
by Russian President Boris Yeltsin for a "no" vote in the 21
March Tatarstan referendum on the state status of the republic,
preliminary results show that 61.4% voted in favor while 37.2%
voted against, ITAR-TASS reported on 22 March. Altogether 81.6%
of the electorate paticipated, which means that 50.2% of those
entitled to vote were in favor of ndependence. The "yes" vote
was highest in the predominantly Tatar rural areas (75.3%), while
in Kazan and some other cities a majority voted against. (Ann
Sheehy)

REACTIONS TO REFERENDUM RESULTS. After the results were known,
Aleksandr Lozovoi, deputy chairman of the Tatarstan parliament,
said the republic now intends to negotiate with Russia for a
new status for Tatarstan within the Russian Federation, Russian
and Western agencies reported. Lozovoi warned that Russian pressure
on Tatarstan could encourage separatists. The chairman of the
Tatar Public Center, Marat Mulyukov, described the results as
a "great victory." Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Gennadii
Burbulis appealed to Tatarstan to remain part of Russia and to
sign the federal treaty. (Ann Sheehy)

SIGNING OF RUSSIAN FEDERAL TREATY POSTPONED. Yeltsin's press
service announced on 22 March that the signing of the federal
treaty had been postponed to 31 March, ITAR-TASS reported. The
reason was said to be "purely organizational problems." Only
two days previously it had been said the signing would take place
on 25 March. The treaty had earlier been initialled by representatives
of Russia's constituent republics, krais, and oblasts, with the
exception of Tatarstan and Checheno-Ingushetia. However, it has
already run into problems in the republics. The Buryat Supreme
Soviet is to discuss the objections of its constitutional commission
on 26 March, and the Kabardino-Balkar Republic will only sign
if changes are made, ITAR- TASS reported on 20 and 21 March respectively.
(Ann Sheehy)

CONGRESS OF RUSSIAN GERMANS CALLS FOR FREE EMIGRATION. At the
end of a three-day congress of Russian Germans in Moscow Russian
German leader Heinrich Groth said that emigration to Germany
was now the top priority for the Interstate Council for the Rehabilitation
of the Germans of the Former USSR and that the council intended
to call on Russia and Germany to enable all who wish to leave
to do so in three to five years, ITAR-TASS reported on 22 March.
This marks a serious setback for the German government's efforts
to persuade them to stay in the successor states of the former
Soviet Union. Yeltsin's recent decree on a gradual restoration
of the former Volga German Republic was dismissed as an effective
refusal to recreate German autonomy. (Ann Sheehy)

SIBERIAN SEPARATISTS CAUTIONED. The procurator of the Tomsk region
in Western Siberia has said that criminal proceedings may be
instituted against anyone who calls for Siberia to secede from
the Russian Federation, RFE/RL's Russian Service was informed
by Moscow journalist Andrei Makarov on 19 March. The warning
was issued as preparations got under way for a Congress of Siberian
local government bodies, to be held in Krasnoyarsk on 27-28 March.
Some of the Congress organizers, who include the Independent
Siberia Party, want the Congress to adopt a declaration of independence
and to proclaim itself the supreme organ of a newly-proclaimed
sovereign state of Siberia. (Jean Riollot and Elizabeth Teague)


CIS SUMMIT DOES LITTLE TO STRENGTHEN COMMONWEALTH. The one-day
meeting of CIS heads of state in Kiev on 20 March did little
or nothing to strengthen the Commonwealth. Although a total of
17 documents were signed, a majority of these were not signed
by Ukraine, and decisions on key issues were once again postponed,
the CIS and Western media reported. Acrimonious words were exchanged
between Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Ukrainian President
Leonid Kravchuk. The latter complained that decisions taken by
CIS leaders were never implemented, but Ukraine is the main opponent
of any coordinating bodies. Russia angered Ukraine by refusing
to discuss the sharing out of the assets of the former Soviet
Union, currently mostly in Russian hands. The next summit meeting
has been scheduled for 15 May in Tashkent. (Ann Sheehy)

FEW MILITARY DECISIONS AT KIEV SUMMIT. The leaders of 11 CIS
states again failed to grapple with the most serious military
issues at their meeting in Kiev. Yeltsin told ITAR-TASS on 20
March that they did not have enough time to decide on the composition
of the CIS strategic forces or the matter of a joint military
budget. In a 22 March interview on Ostankino TV, Kravchuk said
that the leaders had agreed on a document providing for the material
and technical support of the military--one of the few military
documents Ukraine signed at the summit. Radio Mayak on 20 March
announced that the leaders also decided to establish a CIS peace-
keeping force, but its utility seems in question. It will only
be able to operate with the consent of both conflicting parties,
and Azerbaijan and Armenia were reported to have opposed the
measure. (Doug Clarke)

MILITARY CHIEFS CONFIRMED. ITAR-TASS announced on 20 March that
the CIS presidents formally appointed Colonel General Viktor
Samsonov as the head of the CIS Armed Forces General Staff, Army
General Yurii Maksimov to command the CIS Strategic Armed Forces,
and Colonel General Vladimir Semyonov to head the CIS General
Purpose Armed Forces. All three officers have been serving in
these or similar positions. (Doug Clarke)

NO CHANGE IN UKRAINIAN STAND ON NUKES. At the post-summit press
conference, broadcast by Radio Mayak on 20 March, Ukrainian President
Kravchuk said that Ukraine continued to insist on a temporary
suspension of the transfer of tactical nuclear weapons to Russia
until the joint commission called for in the Alma- Ata accord
was functioning. In his 22 March interview, Kravchuk said that
this commission would initially be made up of representatives
from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, but, in a second
stage, it would be opened up to "international observers." (Doug
Clarke)

NAZARBAEV ON NUCLEAR WEAPONS. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev
said in an interview published in the Italian daily La Stampa
that Kazakhstan has the right to be a member of the club of nuclear
nations because of the nuclear weapons tests conducted on its
territory, ITAR-TASS and Western agencies reported on 20 March.
Nazarbaev added that Kazakhstan had become a nuclear power against
its will, but now intends to participate in strategic arms reduction
negotiations. Removal of the strategic missiles from Kazakhstan
would cost billions of rubles which the country does not have,
he said. (Bess Brown)

UKRAINIANS SEE CIS DAYS AS NUMBERED. After more friction between
Ukraine and Russia, Ukrainian leaders appear to have assessed
the Kiev CIS summit as "the beginning of the end" of this association.
President Kravchuk's advisor on legal and international affairs,
Volodymyr Vasylenko, was quoted in The Washington Post of March
21 as saying: "I think this was the second-to-last meeting of
the Commonwealth." Kravchuk himself publicly criticized Russia's
leaders, especially for not budging on the crucial issue of dividing
up the embassies and other foreign assets of the former USSR.
According to The New York Times, he declared at a press conference
that "Russia behaves as she does and cannot behave otherwise."
"Ukraine will also behave as she is compelled to by objective
circumstances. We will not bend." (Bohdan Nahaylo)

RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT-LABOR-BUSINESS TALKS. Russian TV reported
on 18 March that the Russian Tripartite Commission on the Regulation
of Social-Labor Relations was meeting in Moscow. It groups representatives
of government, trade unions and "entrepreneurs." Agenda items
include the situation in Kemerovo (i.e., the miners' strike threats)
and other labor issues. The commission was established following
Yeltsin's edict of 15 November 1991 on social partnership. (Philip
Hanson)

KOMI STRIKERS STILL BARGAINING. On 21 March, according to ITAR-TASS
of 22 March, the strike committee in Usinsk decided to continue
its work stoppage until midnight on 23 March, and demanded that
the tripartite (labor-business-government) commission of the
Russian Federation visit the Komi Republic to consider their
demands. This decision was taken despite a visit to Usinsk by
a senior official of the Russian Ministry of Fuel and Energy,
apparently with some concessions. The strike now extends to teachers
and other service-sector workers in the area. The oil production
affected by the strike is of the order of half a million tons
a year. (Philip Hanson)

VNESHEKONOMBANK'S INDEBTEDNESS. The deputy director of the Russian
Central bank told Izvestiya on 21 March that Vneshekonombank
owes $5.4 billion to foreign creditors. He was presumably alluding
to arrears in its payments, rather than to the external indebtedness
of the former USSR. Some 15-20% of the debt is held by commercial
banks. The bank plans first to pay off its debts to private citizens
and to commercial banks. Clients who deposited money after 1
January 1992 will have unrestricted access to their funds, but
several hundreds of millions of dollars deposited by other clients
remain frozen, including some $200 million belonging to diplomatic
missions in Moscow. (Keith Bush)

BELARUSIAN COUPONS SOON. Belarusian National Bank Administration
Chairman Stanislau Bogdankevich told a Minsk news conference
on 21 March that his republic will introduce coupons as an alternate
currency "very soon," ITAR-TASS reported. Bogdankevich claimed
that the Belarusian coupons "will be better" than those being
used in Ukraine and that they will be "like real money," but
did not elaborate. The issue of Belarusian coupons has been declared
imminent for several months now--see TASS of 13 December 1991
and 27 January 1992--and assurances have been given that the
rubles thereby displaced will be destroyed. (Keith Bush)

KOZYREV COMPLETES ASIA TOUR. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei
Kozyrev held talks in Tokyo with his Japanese counterpart, Michio
Watanabe, on 21 March. In a news conference following the meeting,
Kozyrev said that Russia will approach the Kurile Islands dispute
"on the principle of law and justice," adding that this approach
was "unknown to the former communist government." But, Kozyrev
also said that a new Russian draft constitution, which calls
for a national referendum to settle territorial disputes, may
hinder settlement of the Kurile question, Russian and Western
agencies reported. (Suzanne Crow)

ROGACHEV ON BORDER AGREEMENTS. Igor Rogachev, Russia's ambassador
to China, said in an interview with Interfax published on 20
March that two sections of the Russo-Chinese border remain disputed
despite the conclusion of a border agreement between the two
countries in May 1990. (This agreement was ratified by Russia
on 13 February 1992.) According to Rogachev, the areas in dispute
include two small islands in the Amur River called Bolshoi Ussuriysky
and Tarabarov, and the Bolshoi Island in the Argun River. Rogachev
also said that there had been agreement in principle among Russia,
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan to continue talks with
China on their respective borders with the PRC. Rogachev said
Yeltsin is likely to visit China at the time of his trip to South
Korea and Japan in September. (Suzanne Crow)

CRIMEAN TATARS DEMONSTRATE IN KIEV. Radio Ukraine reported on
19 March that several hundred Crimean Tatars had been staging
a protest action in Kiev for several days calling for the restoration
of an autonomous Crimean Tatar state and urging the Ukrainian
government to facilitate the resettlement of Crimean Tatars in
the Crimea. The demonstrators, who were allowed to pitch tents
in a central square, stressed in particular that the authorities
in the Crimea are unsympathetic, if not hostile, to them. (Bohdan
Nahaylo)

CRIMEAN REFERENDUM ON SECESSION LOOKS LIKELY. On 20 March, Radio
Ukraine reported that the predominantly Russian "Republican movement"
in the Crimea, which is seeking the peninsula's secession from
Ukraine, has now collected 178,000 of the necessary 180,000 signatures
for a local referendum to be held on this issue. The movement
has until 3 April to gather the remainder.(Bohdan Nahaylo)

FIGHTING CONTINUES DESPITE NAGORNO-KARABAKH CEASEFIRE. Western
agencies reported sporadic fighting and artillery fire in and
around Nagorno-Karabakh on 20-22 March despite the Iranian-brokered
cease-fire but an exchange of prisoners took place on 22 March
as planned. Visiting the enclave on 20 March, UN special envoy
Cyrus Vance expressed the hope that the cease-fire would lead
to a lasting peace. On 21 March Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan
welcomed the tentative agreement reached the previous day at
the CIS summit in Kiev to create a volunteer peacekeeping force
that could be deployed in Nagorno-Karabakh. (Liz Fuller)



BALTIC STATES



RUSSIANS DEMONSTRATE IN TALLINN. On 21 March a crowd of Russians
estimated at 8-10,000 protested in Tallinn, Western agencies
report. The rally, organized by the former hard-line Communist
faction of the Estonian parliament, is the first large-scale
protest since Estonia became independent. The demonstrators demanded
that the government freeze prices and guarantee basic foodstuffs
to the poor and called for talks on the new citizenship law,
which grants immediate citizenship to ethnic Estonians but requires
a waiting period for later immigrants. Speakers also condemned
Russian President Boris Yeltsin and called for bringing Mikhail
Gorbachev to trial for allowing the USSR to disintegrate. (Saulius
Girnius)

MERI WORRIED ABOUT CIS TROOPS. On 22 March in an interview with
Deutschlandfunk Estonian Foreign Minister Lennart Meri said that
he is worried about the possibility that former Soviet troops
may stay on in the Baltic States. He noted that he has seen no
signs the CIS forces are disbanding, but rather they are demonstrating
increased discipline. Meri said he fears the generals might want
to stage a coup. He advised the West to bear in mind that the
Baltic States could well be the first--and definitely not the
last--victims of "new imperial demands" by Russia. (Saulius Girnius)


RUSSIA WANTS TO KEEP MILITARY "OBJECTS" IN LATVIA. Sergei Zotov,
chief of the Russian delegation for talks on the withdrawal of
ex-Soviet troops from Latvia, said on 19 March that although
"we are not eager to leave our bases in Latvia, we are especially
interested in maintaining certain objects [there] that would
be of interest not only to Russia, but to global politics." Zotov
said one of these objects would be the radar station in Skrunda,
Diena reported on 19 March. He said the troop withdrawal timetable
depends on how fast housing and technical facilities can be created
in Russia. He added that if the armed forces were withdrawn momentarily,
Latvia's roads would be paralyzed for over a year. Zotov said
that currently there are 58,000 troops of the armed forces and
border guard in Latvia, a figure that does not square with the
estimate of 45,000 given earlier by Col. Gen. Valerii Mironov.
(Dzintra Bungs)

GORBUNOVS ON CITIZENSHIP REFERENDUM. Latvian Supreme Council
Chairman Anatolijs Gorbunovs told Reuters on 20 March that the
lack of clear legislation on citizenship is causing disputes
over who can become citizens of Latvia and hindering vital economic
reforms. Gorbunovs said he favors holding a referendum on the
citizenship issue and that in view of Latvia's "unique demographic
situation" participants should be restricted to those who were
citizens of Latvia before it was annexed by the USSR in 1940
and their descendants. He explained that after waves of Soviet
immigration to the republic in the postwar decades, the Latvian
share of the population declined from 75% in 1940 to about 52%
in 1989. Gorbunovs also said that he favors a 10-year residency
requirement for prospective citizens, rather than the 16-year
requirement adopted by the Supreme Council. (Dzintra Bungs)

LANDSBERGIS ON THE BBC. For one hour on 22 March Lithuanian Supreme
Council Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis answered telephoned questions
on the BBC World Service. Landsbergis discussed the republic's
political and economic situation, foreign investments, citizenship
law, and rights of minorities, among other topics. He said that
the happiest day in Lithuania will be when the last ex-Soviet
troops leave the country. Landsbergis said he welcomed the opportunity
to give the world audience a better understanding of Lithuania's
situation. The BBC has had similar programs with the Czechoslovak,
Romanian, and Polish Presidents, and Russian State Secretary
Gennadii Burbulis. (Saulius Girnius)

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE



POLISH PRESIDENT CONTRADICTS HIMSELF ON POWER. Lech Walesa told
Die Welt on 23 March that as president he must keep many options
open, including that of taking over as prime minister. He expressed
confidence he would have a safe majority in Sejm if he runs as
a candidate for that office. He added, however, that taking over
as prime minister would only be the last resort in case Prime
Minister Olszewski fails. Speaking at a press conference on 19
March, however, he denied he is seeking to concentrate political
power into his own hands. Defending his draft presidential law
on procedures relating to a new constitution, he said he believes
the constitutional work was so important that large numbers of
people need to be involved. He said the main aim of his approach
is to stimulate discussion, stressing the draft does not represent
an attempt to gather power into his own hands. Western and Polish
media carried the story. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz)

SEJM TO CONSIDER BUDGET. The Polish government sends its proposed
budget and economic reform plan to parliamentary deputies on
23 March. According to Western media, formal debate on the budget
is expected to begin next month. The budget proposes to reduce
public spending and raise taxes in order to trim Poland's deficit.
If approved by parliament the budget will reopen Warsaw's access
to IMF loans worth about $1.5 billion. Parliamentary approval,
however, could be hindered by agricultural and trade union lobbies
who are demanding an easing of Poland's economic austerity measures.
(Wladyslaw Minkiewicz)

OLSZEWSKI PROMISES STREAMLINED INVESTMENT PROCEDURE. Prime Minister
Jan Olszewski said he plans to streamline government procedures
in order to make foreign investments in Poland easier. He told
French officials and businessmen in Paris on 19 March that he
is determined to get around the "bureaucratic slowness" that
has caused lengthy delays in discussion on investment projects
in Poland. He said this administrative sluggishness is an unfortunate
vestige of more than four decades of communist rule in Poland,
Western media report. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz)

CZECHOSLOVAKIA, EFTA FREE TRADE AGREEMENT. On 21 March in Prague,
Czechoslovakia became the first East European country to sign
a free trade accord with the seven-member European Free Trade
Association. An EFTA official said that the move is a significant
step toward fully integrating Czechoslovakia into wider European
economic cooperation. The agreement must be ratified by the Czechoslovak
and EFTA countries' parliaments and is expected to become effective
on 1 July. It calls for tariffs and quotas to be lifted immediately
by the EFTA countries, while Czechoslovakia will be allowed to
do so gradually over the next 10 years, Reuters reports. (Barbara
Kroulik)

CZECH FOREIGN MINISTRY. The Czech parliament on 20 March decided
to set up a foreign ministry for the Czech Republic on 1 June.
CSTK quotes Czech Premier Petr Pithart as saying that the Czech
Republic needs representation with foreign partners but denying
that the move was made in answer to the creation two years ago
of the Slovak Ministry for International Relations. (Barbara
Kroulik)

DIENSTBIER MEETS BAKER. Czechoslovak Foreign Minister Jiri Dienstbier
and US Secretary of State James Baker held talks in Washington
on 20 March about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. They also discussed
this week's follow-up meeting in Helsinki of the Conference on
Security and Cooperation in Europe. Dienstbier also met Deputy
Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, who will lead the US
delegation. Dienstbier said it was agreed that the role of the
CSCE in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict should be to coordinate
separate initiatives of various countries. The task of chief
coordinator will fall to Dienstbier, as Czechoslovakia currently
holds the rotating CSCE chairmanship, an RFE/RL correspondent
reports. (Barbara Kroulik)

HUNGARIAN OPPOSITION PARTIES CALL FOR MINISTER'S DISMISSAL. The
steering committees of the Alliance of Young Democrats and the
Alliance of Free Democrats called on Prime Minister Jozsef Antall
to dismiss minister of justice Istvan Balsai, MTI reported on
20 March. The two parties accuse Balsai of "severely violating
the law" by appointing several county chief justices who were
not supported by judges' organizations and of seeking to appoint
judges loyal to the government. The Association of Hungarian
Judges also condemned the appointments as "a violation of the
law" and called on Balsai to reach a compromise with judges'
organizations. Balsai maintains that he strictly kept to the
letter of the law on judicial appointments and points out that
the legality of his appointments has been confirmed by the parliament's
constitutional committee. (Edith Oltay)

MOLDOVAN LEADERS IN ROMANIA. On 21 March Moldova's President
Mircea Snegur, Prime Minister Valeriu Muravschi, and Parliament
President Alexandru Mosanu paid a 7-hour, surprise visit to Bucharest.
After meeting President Ion Iliescu, Snegur said that there is
no other way to solve the Dniestr conflict except the rational
peaceful way. On 22 March Iliescu said that the presidents of
Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, and Romania plan to hold talks on the
conflict at the CSCE meeting beginning on 23 March in Helsinki.
(Mihai Sturdza)

MINERS' LEADER AGAIN IN THE LIMELIGHT. Miron Cosma, who on 17
March again brought miners' and industrial unions' leaders to
Bucharest, was described by the press as a "terrorist" jeopardizing
the normalization of Romania's political life. Prime Minister
Theodor Stolojan deplored Cosma's violent behavior during their
meeting. The parliamentary commission in charge of inquiring
into the four rampages by the miners in Bucharest in 1990 and
1991 decided to release its long-awaited report, which identified
Cosma as having been an instigator of the disorders. The report
requests the authorities to take legal steps against him. On
20 March the NSF deputies in parliament expressed their approval
of Stolojan and his defense of legality in his encounter with
Cosma. (Mihai Sturdza)

BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER ENDS VISIT TO ISRAEL. Filip Dimitrov
returned on 20 March from his four-day official visit to Israel,
where he met political leaders, representatives of business circles,
and a number of the some 50,000 Bulgarian emigrants. Bulgarian
media reported that agreement was reached on cooperation in various
sectors of the economy, in part through Israeli investments.
Bilateral agreements on protection of investments and on avoiding
double taxation will be forthcoming. One subject of political
tension is the proposed Bulgarian law canceling the sentences
by the so-called people's courts in 1945. Dimitrov explained
to the Israelis that the law would not mean rehabilitation of
those few guilty of crimes against the Jewish population, but
rather of innocent victims, among whom were precisely those people
who worked to save Bulgarian Jews. (Rada Nikolaev)

AMENDMENT OF LAND LAW PASSED. Following heated debates and controversies,
the amended 1991 law on farmland, considered crucial for Bulgaria's
economy, was finally passed on 20 March. It provides for return
of collectivized land to the former owners and defines procedures
for doing so, abolishes collective farms disguised as cooperative
farms and enables free association in genuine cooperatives, abolishes
the ceiling on the amount of land an individual may own, and
permits joint companies with less than 50% foreign participation
to own land. The law also permits land sales. The socialist opposition
sharply attacked the law. (Rada Nikolaev)

CONTINUED FIGHTING ACROSS CROATIA. Western and Yugoslav-area
media reported continued fighting over the weekend, including
in all three regions where UN peace-keeping troops are to be
stationed. Croatian spokesmen repeated their charge that the
federal army and Serbian irregulars are seeking to establish
as many solidly Serbian enclaves as possible by driving out Croatian
civilians, settling Serbian irregulars or refugees in their homes,
and burning other Croatian settlements. The Serbs say they will
not allow Croatian authorities to reestablish themselves in predominantly
Serbian areas. Austrian TV carried a report on the problem on
21 March.(Patrick Moore)

EXCHANGE OF PRISONERS, DEMOBILIZATION IN CROATIA. The 23 March
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports that the federal army
and Croatian military have agreed on an plan to exchange prisoners
of war. The swap is scheduled to start on 27 March and "in principle"
could involve all prisoners taken to date in the conflict. Amnesty
International and the international media have reported extensive
maltreatment of prisoners on both sides. Meanwhile in Zagreb
the 22 March Vjesnik says that President Franjo Tudjman has announced
the demobilization of 20,000 draftees, 16,000 of whom have already
gone home. In conjunction with this demobilization, men in uniform
who are urgently needed to return to key jobs in the economy
will be replaced in the ranks by new draftees. (Patrick Moore)
[As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Carla Thorson & Charles Trumbull






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