|A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday. - Jonathan Swift|
No. 58, 24 March 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR TATARSTAN SEEKS NEW RELATIONSHIP WITH RUSSIA. At a press conference on 23-March, Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev said that the republic's immediate political task was to sign a bilateral treaty with Russia on the principle of powers being delegated from below, ITAR-TASS reported. He reiterated that Tatarstan would not sign the federal treaty. Shaimiev envisaged delegating responsibility for questions of defense and security to Russia, in other words a confederal arrangement. At a press conference in Moscow, representatives of the Democratic Party of Russia who were in Tatarstan for the referendum as observers made accusations of irregularities and obstruction. They forecast that the political situation in the republic would deteriorate, and called for the introduction of presidential rule and the removal from office of the republic's leaders. (Ann Sheehy) AUTONOMOUS REGIONS INITIAL FEDERAL TREATY. The Jewish Autonomous Oblast and the ten autonomous okrugs of the Russian Federation initialled the federal treaty in Moscow on 23-March, ITAR-TASS reported. This means that the treaty, which delimits powers between the federal authorities and its constituent territories has now been initialled by all these territories except Tatarstan and Checheno-Ingushetia. (Ann Sheehy) RUSSIA AGAIN TO FUND BLACK SEA FLEET. Marshal Evgenii Shaposhnikov, the CIS Joint Armed Forces commander in chief, has announced that Russia will resume financing the disputed Black Sea Fleet. Ukraine has been paying the fleet after freezing the bank account containing the 250-million rubles allocated to the fleet by the Russians. As reported on the 23-March "Vesti" television news, Shaposhnikov said that Russia would now pay for the fleet without relying on the services of the Ukrainian State Bank. (Doug Clarke) SHAPOSHNIKOV ON THE KIEV SUMMIT. Marshal Shaposhnikov declared himself to be very satisfied with the results of the 20-March CIS summit meeting in Kiev, saying that they had "exceeded the hopes which we had pinned on them." He was quoted in the 24-March issue of Izvestiya as saying the unresolved issues-- the financing of the armed forces, the draft, and the future of the Black Sea Fleet--would be turned over to the governments of the states for discussion. Now that Russia had its own Defense Ministry, he thought that such contentious issues could be more easily resolved at the state level. (Doug Clarke) KRAVCHUK EXASPERATED BY RUSSIA'S ATTITUDE TOWARDS CIS "EQUALS." Taking stock of the rift between Ukraine and Russia at the CIS summit in Kiev, Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk told journalists in a broadcast shown on 23-March on Ukrainian TV that he sees no future for the CIS. "We want to have equal rights with Russia," he stressed, "and Russia does not." Kravchuk, as reported by Reuters, went on to say that he was "starting to get worried" about Russia's view of itself as the sole legal successor to the USSR. "This is not something Kravchuk has invented," he pointed out, adding "I was the one who always said we had common interests with Russia and that they were a priority for us." The Ukrainian president is facing mounting pressure from Ukraine's national democratic forces to take Ukraine out of the CIS. (Bohdan Nahaylo) CIS LEADERS ON DNIESTER CONFLICT. In a statement signed at the CIS summit in Kiev on 20-March the CIS heads of state said that they regarded the preservation of the territorial integrity of Moldova as the cornerstone of their policy with Moldova. They undertook to take measures to prevent the involvement of their citizens in the conflict in Moldova, to do their utmost to see that those already involved were returned to their place of residence as soon as possible, and to deny transit through their territory of armed formations and contraband weapons. The text of the agreement was issued by ITAR-TASS on 23-March. Moldova had complained to both Russia and Ukraine about Don Cossacks fighting on the side of the so-called "Dniester Republic." (Ann Sheehy) UKRAINE AND THE CONFLICT IN MOLDOVA. Reflecting Kiev's continuing concern about the armed conflict in neighboring Moldova, the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers has established a working group to monitor the situation in the border zone. Radio Ukraine also reported on 23-March that the number of refugees who have fled across the border into the Odessa region of Ukraine has now risen to over 7,000. (Bohdan Nahaylo) ARMS SWAP IN MOLDOVA. Quoting "reliable sources," the Russian Information Agency reported from Chisinau on 23-March that the CIS military authorities would move the Moldova-based Commonwealth air and paratroop units to Russia but leave enough military equipment behind to equip the Moldovan armed forces. General Boris Pyankov, a deputy commander in chief of the CIS forces, was in Moldova that day to confer with General Ion Kostas, the Moldovan defense minister. Western sources list the 98th Guards Airborne division in Chisinau as the main CIS unit in Moldova. (Doug Clarke) KOZYREV ON CSCE. The "Novosti" television program reported on 24-March that Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev met in Russia's Helsinki embassy with representatives of Moldova, Romania, and Ukraine on 23-March. [Radio Rossii reported on 22-March that the Romanian president had called for such a meeting to be held during the Helsinki CSCE meeting.] The point of the discussion, according to a Russian Information Agency correspondent quoted by "Novosti," was to discuss the conflict in Moldova. Using the start of the CSCE meeting in Helsinki on 23-March as a forum, Kozyrev argued that the "we should urgently raise the question of creating a mechanism of peace-keeping forces and of creating a mediation mechanism for, among other things, the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh," Western agencies reported. (Suzanne Crow) NAGORNO-KARABAKH UPDATE. Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mahmoud Vaezi told Western reporters in Erevan on 23-March that the Iranian-brokered cease-fire in Nagorno-Karabakh was generally holding despite some violations. Arriving in Helsinki on 23-March for the CSCE Foreign Ministers' meeting, Armenian Foreign Minister Raffi Hovanissian called for an international peace conference on Nagorno-Karabakh; he and Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev both proposed deployment of a CSCE peacekeeping force in the region. Speaking at the UN, Armenian parliament Chairman Babken Ararktsyan said that if mediation efforts fail the Karabakh crisis will intensify; he also called for deployment of an international peacekeeping force. (Liz Fuller) GEORGIA TO BE ADMITTED TO CSCE. Georgia is to be admitted to the CSCE today in Helsinki on the basis of international confidence in former Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze's commitment to human rights and the rule of law, Western diplomats told RFE/RL on 23-March. France, Portugal, and Germany extended diplomatic recognition to Georgia on 23-March and the EC stated its readiness to do so; the US is still reviewing the recognition issue. (Roland Eggleston/Liz Fuller) GENERAL STAFF PLANS PERMANENT COSSACK FORMATIONS. A group of officers within the CIS joint Armed Forces General Staff are considering the creation of permanent Cossack military detachments, Radio Mayak reported on 23-March. The officers, who are of Cossack origin, are drafting new regulations, military ranks, a modern uniform, and programs for appropriate military academies. Over the last year or so, Cossack communities have been reestablished in ten regions which had been traditionally settled by Cossacks in Tsarist Russia. (Victor Yasmann) RUSSIAN TRADE UNIONS TO PROPOSE ALTERNATIVE REFORM PROGRAM. Russia's Federation of Independent Trade Unions (the official unions) are preparing their own program for economic reforms which they will present to the Russian government shortly, Interfax reported on 19-March. The unions are critical of the reform program of the Yeltsin government, which they say places too much emphasis on foreign investment and Western aid, provides inadequate safety nets for workers, and plans to move too fast with the privatization of state property. (Elizabeth Teague) UKRAINIAN STATEMENT ON PAYMENT OF USSR'S EXTERNAL DEBT. With the aim of rectifying "distortions in CIS and Western media," a statement by Ukrainian Prime Minister Vitold Fokin was circulated in Kiev on 20-March during the CIS summit, Ukrinform-TASS reported. This recorded the signing in Moscow on 11-March of an agreement whereby Ukraine and Russia will be co-chairmen in the Inter-State Council on Servicing the Foreign Debt of the Former Soviet Union. "Vneshekonombank, preserving the right of the competent bank, acquires an international character, and will provide for complete openness of operations to the Inter-State Council and, thus, to all the CIS republics." (Keith Bush) RUSSIAN BUDGET DEFICIT. The "Memor-andum on Economic Policy," published on 4-March envisaged a "huge" budget deficit during the first quarter of 1992 for the Russian Federation. A document issued by the Russian Ministry of Finance and reported in Izvestiya of 23-March (as quoted somewhat confusedly by ITAR-TASS) spells out some of the component factors of this defi cit. VAT revenues will be far less than planned, owing to the fall in output and in consumer demand. Revenues from foreign economic activity will amount to 9 billion rubles, compared with a planned budgetary income of 228 billion rubles. The reasons given are the "catastrophic" fall in exports, the financial status of exporters, the destruction of the oil refining industry, and the lifting of export duties on what appears to be the bulk of fuel shipments. (Keith Bush) PENSIONS TO BE RAISED BUT FUNDING UNCERTAIN. Economic adviser to the Russian government, Aleksei Ulyukaev, confirmed that the minimum pension will be raised to 550-rubles a month starting in April, Radio Rossii reported on 23-March. However, on the same day, according to Radio Moscow-2, the chairman of the Russian parliamentary commission on social policy, Mikhail Zakharov, told a session of the parliamentary presidium that pensions will not be paid in full in April. The pension fund could not afford to pay the higher interest rates introduced recently, and the government had not made the necessary provisions for this. (Keith Bush) PAVLOV ATTACKS THE PROSECUTION. Sovetskaya Rossiya published on 21-March an open letter by former USSR Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov to the Russian general prosecutor Valentin Stepankov. Earlier, it was reported that Pavlov has spent the time since his arrest in conjunction with last August's attempted coup reading legal literature; now, Pavlov accuses the prosecution of having violated the Russian Federation Code of Criminal Procedure while investigating his case. The charges brought against him, Pavlov said, are not precise, as required by law. Pavlov also denies that he joined "a conspiracy aimed at seizing power." He had enough power and could not get more, Pavlov writes. Moreover, he claims to have wanted to resign his post long before the attempted coup in August. (Julia Wishnevsky) NEW UKRAINIAN CONSTITUTION TO BE UNVEILED SOON. Work on Ukraine's new constitution is nearing completion. Radio Ukraine reported that on 23-March President Kravchuk chaired a meeting of the parliamentary commission charged with its preparation. Among other changes, the new draft envisages the replacement of the Supreme Council by a bicameral National Assembly. (Bohdan Nahaylo) KRAVCHUK TO VISIT INDIA. Radio Ukraine reported on 23-March that President Kravchuk will be paying an official five- day visit to India, beginning on 25-March. (Bohdan Nahaylo) AMNESTY IN TURKMENISTAN. On the eve of Navruz, the Persian New Year widely celebrated in Central Asia, Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov issued a decree pardoning individuals sentenced for padding cotton production figures, Radio Mayak reported on 20-March. According to the report, the decree affects 41 people. Niyazov said that the decree was motivated by recognition that such machinations had occurred in response to the totalitarian system and command economy of the former USSR. Although Turkmenistan's "cotton affair" of the mid-1980s was not on the scale of that in Uzbekistan, many officials, particularly in Mary Oblast, lost their jobs and some were prosecuted. (Bess Brown) CHANGES IN FORMER UZBEK COMMUNIST PARTY. The Communist Party of Uzbekistan changed its name to the Popular Democratic Party of Uzbekistan and discarded its Marxist ideology before the collapse of the Soviet Union. According to the 28 February issue of Ozbekistan avazi, there have been other basic changes as well: 53.6% of the party membership is under 40, and 79% is Uzbek. Russians make up only 4.3% of the membership, even less than the Kazakh share (4.6%). (Timur Kocaoglu) BALTIC STATES ESTONIAN FOREIGN MINISTER RESIGNS. Estonia's Prime Minister Tiit Vahi told the press on 23 March that Foreign Minister Lennart Meri has submitted a request to be released from office. Vahi said that after discussions with members of the government, it was decided to accept the resignation. Vahi said that Meri had done fine work in the realm of foreign relations and that his release would not become effective immediately but at a more suitable time. ETA of 23 March quoted an unnamed Estonian official as saying that while Meri was very good at lobbying for Estonia's independence, he was not good at running the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (Dzintra Bungs) DUMAS OPENS FRENCH EMBASSY IN TALLINN. On 23 March French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas participated in the ceremonies opening the French embassy in Tallinn, Radio Lithuania reports. His visit in Estonia was brief; on 24 March he flew to Helsinki for the opening of the CSCE foreign ministers' meeting. (Saulius Girnius) YELTSIN PLACES BALTIC BORDER TROOPS UNDER RUSSIA. Interfax of 20 March and Novosti of 21 March reported that Russia's president Boris Yeltsin signed a decree placing the former USSR border guards in the Baltic States under Russian jurisdiction. Lt. Gen. Valentin Gaponenko was designated to deal with the border guards' temporary presence and eventual withdrawal. Yeltsin also instructed the Russian delegation to begin talks with the three Baltic delegations on defining the status of the border guards and the procedures for their withdrawal as well as setting the terms for joint patrolling of the borders pending withdrawal. (Dzintra Bungs) GAIDAR REMOVES SOME TRADE BARRIERS. Russia's First Deputy Prime Minister Egor Gaidar has signed decree No. 186 "On halting export taxes on goods from the Russian Federation to the Baltic States," BNS reported on 23 March. This decree temporarily countermands an earlier decree--No. 91 of 31 December 1991--and will be effective until 30 June 1992. The latest decree is expected to ease somewhat the economic situation in the Baltics and make it possible to implement some of the Baltic-Russian economic accords. The export fees, calculated in ecus, practically stopped the flow of essential goods from Russia to the Baltic States and had the effect of a virtual economic blockade. (Dzintra Bungs) ANOTHER INCIDENT WITH BORDER GUARDS. On 23 March Radio Lithuania reported yet another incident involving the former USSR border guards. An armed guard in the port of Klaipeda refused to allow a Swedish businessman to board a Swedish ship exporting cement, despite appeals by the ship's captain and Lithuanian customs and defense officials. Demands by the Lithuanian authorities that the former Soviet border guards cease their activities have been ignored. The border guards continue to inspect all ships entering and leaving the port, sometimes cooperating with Lithuanian customs officials. Rimantas Sukys, deputy chief of the Lithuanian customs post at Klaipeda, noted that 30-35 former Soviet customs officials are now employed by Lithuania's customs. (Saulius Girnius) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE OLSZEWSKI PRESENTS TOUGH BUDGET IN SEJM. On 23 March Prime Minister Jan Olszewski unveiled a proposed budget in the Sejm that provides for virtual elimination of remaining state subsidies. According to Western media, the proposal faces stiff parliamentary opposition. At a news conference, however, Olszewski pledged "iron determination." The draft budget calls for coal prices to go up by 5% monthly except for the summer months, natural gas to increase by 5% quarterly, and central heating and hot water to go up 33% by October. Rents for public housing would be doubled next month and train fares would climb by 28%. Gasoline taxes and the price of medicine would also rise sharply. The Sejm will debate the proposed budget next month. Appearing with Olszewski, Finance Minister Andrzej Olechowski said the vote "will determine whether 1992 will be remembered as the year the recession was ended or year the financial crisis began," adding that "in order to avoid a financial crash, reforms must involve austerity measures." (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) SLOVAK PARLIAMENT REJECTS SOVEREIGNTY PROPOSAL. On 23 March for the third time Slovakia's parliament rejected an attempt to proclaim the republic's sovereignty. The legislation was proposed by Jozef Prokes, leader of the separatist Slovak National Party. Czech and Slovak opponents of such a declaration say it would be unconstitutional and a step toward the breakup of the country. Prokes's sovereignty motions have been thwarted twice in the past six months, but a number of Slovak parties have adopted a declaration of sovereignty as part of their platforms for the June elections, Reuters reports. (Barbara Kroulik) SLOVAK PARLIAMENT COMMISSION SAYS MECIAR WAS COLLABORATOR. A Slovak parliament panel in a report released on 23 March says that former Slovak Premier Vladimir Meciar, now chairman of the republic's most popular political party, collaborated with the former secret police (STB). The report says Meciar aided the STB during the communist regime, operating under the code name "Doktor," and abused his postcommunist positions as Slovak interior minister and premier to destroy evidence of his alleged collaboration, dismiss those who attempted to disclose it, and promote police officials who agreed to remove files on secret collaborators, according to an RFE/RL correspondent. No comment on this report was available from Meciar, but he has denied such allegations in the past. (Barbara Kroulik) GERMAN DEFENSE MINISTER IN WARSAW. On 23 March German Defense Minister Gerhard Stoltenberg began talks in Warsaw on European security and German-Polish cooperation. After meeting Prime Minister Olszewski as well as defense and foreign ministers, Jan Parys and Krzysztof Skubiszewski, Stoltenberg said it was important for him to hear Poland's judgments and concerns about the situation in the former USSR. Describing his talks as fruitful, the German Defense Minister said bilateral ties between Warsaw and Berlin are developing "very successfully." Skubiszewski said Poland is interested in closer cooperation with NATO and especially with Germany, Western and Polish media report. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) CAR DISPUTE DELAYS POLAND'S EC ASSOCIATION ACCORD. A lingering dispute between the EC and Poland over automobile quotas is hampering full implementation of Poland's association, an RFE/RL correspondent reports. Poland had insisted on giving preferential treatment in auto imports to Western companies prepared to invest in Poland. France and Britain describe this as discriminatory measure. The EC Commission's chief Eastern European negotiating expert Pablo Benavides arrived in Warsaw for talks with Foreign Ministry and economic officials to try to reach a compromise. Most aspects of the liberalized trade regimes of the EC association accords with Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary took effect this month. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) HUNGARY, ARMENIA ESTABLISH RELATIONS. On 20 March, Hungary established diplomatic rela-tions with Armenia, Hungarian Foreign Ministry spokes-man Janos Herman told MTI on 23 March. This brings to nine the number of Soviet successor states with which Hungary has diplomatic relations. Preparations are under way to establish diplomatic relations with Kyrgyzstan and Azerbaijan. (Edith Oltay) PRINCESS DIANA IN HUNGARY. On 23 March, Britain's Princess Diana, the wife of British heir to the throne Prince Charles, arrived for a 24-hour unofficial visit to Hungary, MTI reports. She began her visit with a tour of the internationally renowned Peto Institute for disabled children, which has enjoyed Princess Diana's sponsorship since she first visited Hungary two years ago. She also attended a performance of the English National Ballet in the company of Hungarian President Arpad Goncz. (Edith Oltay) ROMANIAN TRUCK DRIVERS STRIKE. Following the failure two weeks ago of negotiations on new labor contracts between the unions and the state, some 60,000 truck drivers began a 48-hour strike to demand pay raises. Union leader Mihai Vlase said the workers cannot live on starvation wages and called for the government to set minimum monthly wages at the equivalent of $90. Romanian media report that the unions warn that if their demands are not met the strike could continue for many days. (Mihai Sturdza) PERSISTENT RIFT IN ROMANIA'S NSF. Bitter tensions between the competing wings of the National Salvation Front again surfaced during a plenary meeting on 22 March. Pressure from the attendees forced NSF leader Petre Roman to put President Ion Iliescu's candidacy in the next presidential elections to the vote. Of 605 votes, 435 were in favor of Iliescu, but Roman nonetheless postponed the validation of the vote until the NSF's national convention on 27 March. Romanian media said on 23 March that Eugen Dijmarescu, a minister in the former Roman cabinet, has resigned from the presidency of the Bucharest region NSF organization. (Mihai Sturdza) BULGARIAN AGRARIAN PARTY HOLDS CONGRESS. The Bulgarian Agrarian National Union-United, successor to the former official BANU, held its extraordinary congress on 21-22 March amid serious disagreements. As the daily press on 23 March reported, the congress did not justify its motto "For Agrarian Unity," since members of BANU-Nikola Petkov, with whom a union is being sought, were not invited and the unification issue was not even on the agenda. Discussions centered mainly on the need for renewal and ridding the party of former communist collaborators. Various proposals for a new leader were made, but finally the congress reelected as secretary the former exile Tsenko Barev, who had held this post since last July. A 116-member administrative council was also elected. (Rada Nikolaev) BULGARIAN LABOR CONFLICTS. Miners protesting the government's intention to halt lead, zinc, and uranium production have repeatedly been threatening strikes. On 23 March Prime Minister Filip Dimitrov met with miners from the two labor unions and, according to BTA, challenged them to submit proposals for ecologically safe recovery of these ores. Later BTA reported that the miners in the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions will hold talks with the government on 25 March, but some might even strike before that date. Also on 23 March the two labor unions' conflict with the government escalated when union representatives failed to attend a meeting on wage controls. The unions accuse the government of failing to propose an acceptable framework for government-union "social partnership" to replace the former tripartite commission. (Rada Nikolaev) CONTINUED FIGHTING IN BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA. International media reported on 23 March that fighting continued between Serbs and Muslims around Gorazde. The dispute began over allocating city jobs and gasoline ration coupons between members of the two nationalities. The federal army and republican police are working together to restore order. Around the Adriatic town of Neum, however, the federal forces are battling local Croats. There UN and EC representatives are trying to restore peace, the 24 March Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung says. (Patrick Moore) COMPROMISE ON LEGAL ORDER IN DISPUTED TERRITORIES? In Zagreb the head of the Croatian commission dealing with the UN peacekeeping operation, Milan Ramljak, has suggested that preconflict Yugoslav federal and Croatian republican legislation could be reintroduced as legal writ in areas where UN troops are stationed in his republic. This, he says, would be a compromise between Croatian demands that current Croatian law be introduced and Serbian insistence that laws of the present Serbian self-proclaimed governments be maintained. Ramljak notes that the fundamental law would be the 1974 Yugoslav constitution, which gives wide berth to republican legislation. Vjesnik ran the story on 23 March. (Patrick Moore) KOSOVO ALBANIAN LEADER CALLS FOR COOPERATION WITH MACEDONIA. That same issue of the Zagreb daily reports on a recent meeting between Kosovar leader Ibrahim Rugova and Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov. Rugova says that Serbia has tried to profit from tension between Macedonia's Slavs and Albanians, and suggests that Macedonia and Kosovo thwart these moves by promoting open borders and cooperation between themselves. Kosovo is over 90% Albanian and borders on areas of Macedonia, where many Albanians, who account for at least 20% of Macedonia's citizens, live. The 24 March Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung quotes Gligorov as saying that the "kiss of death" for Yugoslavia came from Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's aggressive policies against the Albanians, the Slovenes, and other peoples of the former federation. (Patrick Moore) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Carla Thorson & Charles Trumbull The RFE/RL Daily Report is produced by the RFE/RL Research Institute (a division of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Inc.) in Munich, Germany, with the assistance of the RFE/RL News and Current Affairs Division (NCA). 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