|It is easier to love humanity than to love one's neighbor. - Eric Hoffer|
No. 59, 25 March 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR UKRAINIAN ECONOMIC REFORM PROGRAM APPROVED. The Ukrainian parliament met in closed session on 24 March to discuss an economic reform program, Ukrinform-TASS and Western agencies reported. According to The Financial Times of 25 March, deputies approved the plan in principle, but refused to endorse the details, which they said were poorly thought out. The plan scraps the ruble in Ukraine and extends the use of the current coupons until a Ukrainian currency is introduced within three months. All trade with former Soviet republics will be on a hard- currency basis, imports from them will be subject to tariffs, and exports to them will be subject to VAT. Customs posts will be erected at all border crossings. Workers and employees will contribute towards their health insurance. Foreign investors will be encouraged, and allowed to own property and land. (Keith Bush) RADIATION LEAK AT LENINGRADSKAYA NUCLEAR PLANT. Early on 24 March, reactor no. 3 at the Leningradskaya nuclear plant in Sosnovy Bor near St. Petersburg shut down automatically after a malfunction caused radiation leakage, Russian and Western agencies reported. There were conflicting reports on the extent of the leak. The Russian Committee on Emergency Situations told ITAR-TASS that six times the allowable levels of radioactive gas, three times as much radiation, and 10 times as much iodine had been released into the atmosphere, while the Russian Atomic Energy Ministry said the leakage did not exceed permitted levels. Monitors in Finland, Sweden, and Poland so far have reported no detection of increased radiation levels, while a spokesman for the International Atomic Energy Agency said there appeared to be no radiation effect outside the Leningradskaya plant. He did, however, note that the findings were preliminary. (Carla Thorson) US RECOGNIZES GEORGIA. The United States will take immediate steps to establish diplomatic relations with Georgia and will support Georgian membership in international organizations including the IMF and the World Bank, a State Department spokesman announced on 24 March. The decision was apparently prompted by acknowledgement of Georgian State Council Chairman Eduard Shevardnadze's professed commitment to democracy, human and minority rights, and to a free-market economy. (Liz Fuller) CSCE TO CONVENE NAGORNO-KARABAKH PEACE CONFERENCE. After a day of acrimonious debate the foreign ministers of the CSCE states agreed at their meeting in Helsinki to convene a peace conference on Nagorno-Karabakh, to be attended by delegates from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh, and eight other countries. The conference will be held in Minsk following a visit by Czech Foreign Minister Jiri Dienstbier, currently CSCE chairman, to Karabakh in late March. After initially insisting on the right to select the representatives from Karabakh, Azerbaijan finally agreed that they should be nominated by the peace conference chairman. The conference will consider sending peacekeepers to Karabakh in conjunction with the UN. (Roland Eggleston/Liz Fuller) AZERBAIJANI PARLIAMENT CALLS FOR NATIONAL ARMY. Meeting in Baku on 24 March for the first time since the resignation of President Ayaz Mutalibov, the Azerbaijani parliament debated calls by interim President Yakub Mamedov and Defense Minister Rahim Gaziev for the immediate creation of a 20,000 man national army and the transfer of the economy to a war footing in order to reestablish Azerbaijani military control over Nagorno- Karabakh, Russian and Western media reported. Interior Minister Tair Aliev charged that Russia had contributed to the deterioration of the military situation by leaving behind quantities of armaments in Karabakh for the Armenians when CIS troops withdrew from the enclave. (Liz Fuller) WRANGLING OVER BLACK SEA FLEET CONTINUES. In an address to the personnel of the Black Sea Fleet published by Postfactum on 24 March, CIS Navy commander Admiral Vladimir Chernavin charged that while Moscow has offered 20-22% of the Black Sea forces to Ukraine, the republic wants 91% of the fleet's assets. He said that the situation involving the fleet had "sharply deteriorated lately." Ukraine's defense minister, General Konstantin Morozov, was quoted by Izvestiya on 25 March as saying that Ukraine had offered a draft agreement on the division of the fleet at the recent Kiev summit, but it had been turned down by the CIS military leaders. (Doug Clarke) UKRAINE CHANGES POSITION ON STRATEGIC FORCES. While confirming that strategic nuclear forces should be under a unified command, Morozov revealed in Izvestiya that the republic had changed its position regarding the officers, non- commissioned officers, and warrant officers that were serving in these forces. He said that those who had sworn the oath of allegiance to Ukraine would be protected by Ukrainian law and would be under the "jurisdiction" of the republic. (Doug Clarke) DEREGULATION OF RUSSIAN ENERGY PRICES DELAYED. Russian President Boris Yeltsin told leaders of parties and democratic movements on 24 March that the deregulation of most energy prices will now be put off until late May or early June, ITAR-TASS reported. In the Memorandum on Economic Policy, approved by the Russian government on 27 February and submitted to the IMF, the intention was expressed of freeing the prices for "fuel and other goods for production purposes" by 20 April, while temporarily retaining the regulation of prices for gas and electricity. Yeltsin said that he was bowing to the wishes of other CIS leaders, who wanted the freeing of prices delayed until the weather was better and the spring sowing completed. (Keith Bush) DRAFT PRIVATIZATION PROGRAM APPROVED. On 24 March, a joint session of the Russian Parliamentary Presidium and the Government Collegium approved the Russian draft privatization program of state and municipal properties for 1992, ITAR-TASS reported. The program, which must now go to the full parliament for approval, keeps acquisitions by private investors to a minimum for fear of abuse and corruption. It is said to emphasize reliance on auctions, with preferential treatment for work collectives. By the end of 1992, an estimated 12-20% of the total value of fixed and working capital could be privatized. (Keith Bush) MORE RETAIL PRICES FREED IN MOSCOW. The Moscow city government deregulated the retail prices of milk, salt, sugar and some types of bread on 24 March, ITAR-TASS and Western agencies reported. The director of the city's price department was quoted as saying that a resolution to this effect had been passed but that "smaller shops may not have received this information." Prices were reported to have held steady, but there was a run on salt prior to the deregulation. (Keith Bush) YELTSIN UNDER PRESSURE TO RESIGN. On 24 March, Russian President Boris Yeltsin told a meeting of Russian parliamentary and government leaders that he had no intention of resigning from his post as prime minister, although he anticipates pressure to do so during the upcoming Congress of People's Deputies, ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin also expressed confidence in his government and said it would be difficult for this government to continue to lead the country without him at the helm. Earlier the same day, Yeltsin also met with leaders of 16 political parties to discuss "the most acute problems of the day," including preparations for the congress, the new draft constitution and economic issues. (Carla Thorson) FIRST READING OF BILL ON CREATION OF INGUSH REPUBLIC. On 20 March, the Russian parliament adopted on the first reading a draft law "On the formation of an Ingush republic in the Russian Federation," ITAR-TASS reported. The government was instructed to set up a state commission to make preparations for delimiting the territory and holding elections. Postfactum reported on 20 February that Yeltsin had submitted the draft to the Russian parliament on 5 February in accordance with the Russian Federation's law on the rehabilitation of repressed ethnic groups and the results of the Ingush referendum of 2 December 1991. The Ingush are unlikely to be satisfied, however, since there is no mention of the return to them of the Prigorodnyi raion of North Ossetia. (Ann Sheehy) 28 MARCH POLL ON UNITY OF KARACHAEVO- CHERKESSIYA. A referendum is to be held in the Karachai- Cherkess republic on 28 March on the future of the republic, ITAR- TASS reported on 20 March. Rossiiskaya gazeta of 13 March had carried an appeal from leading local political and other figures calling on the population to vote in favor of preserving its unity and requesting Yeltsin and the Russian parliament to desist from action for the time being. In 1991 the Karachai, Cherkess, Abaza, and Zelenchuk-Urup Cossack and Batalpasha Cossack republics were proclaimed on the territory of the republic. On 5 February Yeltsin submitted a draft law to the Russian parliament on recreating the separate Karachai and Cherkess autonomous regions that existed before the 1943 deportation of the Karachai. (Ann Sheehy) CONFEDERATION OF MOUNTAIN PEOPLES DECIDES TO CREATE ARMY. The sixth session of the parliament of the Confederation of Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus in Vladikavkaz on 21-22 March decided to set up a defense committee, joint armed forces, and press organs, ITAR-TASS reported. The president of the confederation, Musa Shanibov, said the armed forces would be used only to solve interethnic conflicts, Russian TV said. A parliamentary commission was formed to conduct talks with South Ossetia and the provisional government of Georgia on regulating Ossetian-Georgian relations. (Ann Sheehy) YELTSIN ON TATARSTAN REFERENDUM. Apropos the referendum in Tatarstan, Russian President Yeltsin said on 24 March that one should not dramatize the events and whip up passions, ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin, who was meeting with the leaders of democratic parties, said that after the signing of the federal treaty an individual treaty could be concluded with Tatarstan. Yeltsin added that on no account should forcible measures be used. Oleg Rumyantsev, secretary of the Constitutional Commission, has advanced the idea of giving some republics the status of "freely associated states," "Novosti" reported on 24 March. A similar idea was advanced for the Baltic republics vis-a-vis the ill-fated Union treaty. (Ann Sheehy) ANOTHER FOOD POISONING WARNING. Shortly after cautions on the dangers of buying food from insanitary street vendors in Moscow, central newspapers on 20 March warned of hazards from rotten and moldy food sold by these and by regular stores, Western agencies reported. The foodstuffs in question had remained on sale past their expiration dates because their prices had put them out of the reach of most customers. Instead of lowering the retail prices, vendors had kept the goods on display until they became health hazards. The newspapers referred to outbreaks of trichinosis, botulism, and amoebic dysentery. Izvestiya reported one consignment of boiled ham on sale with an expiration date from last year. On 24 March, ITAR-TASS quoted an official in the Moscow sanitary-epidemiological station as saying that acute intestinal infections had more than doubled in Moscow so far this year. (Keith Bush) UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX BELIEVERS PROTESTING IN KIEV. A group of Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox believers has occupied the bell tower of Saint Sophia's cathedral in Kiev and has been on a hunger strike for the last nine days, Radio Ukraine reported on 25 March. The protestors are demanding the return of churches and property which were confiscated from the Ukrainian Autocephalous Church during the Stalin era, the improvement of Ukraine's law on religious freedom, and the replacement of officials whom the protestors accuse of blocking the revival of their church. (Bohdan Nahaylo) UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH ALSO WANTS INDEPENDENCE FROM MOSCOW. According to a "Novosti" newscast of 25 March, the issue of autocephaly for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has been placed on the agenda for the synod of the Russian Orthodox Church which opens in Moscow on 31 March. Under pressure from the Ukrainian national resurgence and the revival of the formerly banned Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, the hitherto pro-Moscow Ukrainian Orthodox Church has recently asked the Moscow Patriarchate to grant it full independence. (Bohdan Nahaylo) COSSACK NEWSPAPER PROHIBITED IN URALSK. Radio Rossii reported on 24 March that distribution of the Kazachii vestnik has been prohibited in Uralsk in Kazakhstan. Activities of the Ural Cossack Society have led to violent protests on the part of Kazakhs, who see them as a potential threat to Kazakhstan's territorial integrity. When the society was registered in Uralsk, the report said, it declared that its primary purpose was the study of the history, traditions, and dialect of the Ural Cossacks, but in fact it had published materials that could cause interethnic friction. (Bess Brown) DEMOCRATS HARASSED IN TAJIKISTAN. A member of the self-proclaimed democratic faction of Tajikistan's Supreme Soviet was quoted in the 19 March issue of Izvestiya as having pointed out to the legislature that since the demonstrations in Dushanbe last fall, members of opposition groups have been persecuted although the authorities had promised not to harass participants in the protests. Mirbobo Mirrakhimov, a leader of the Popular Front "Rastokhez," ended up in court and Democratic Party chairman Shodmon Yusupov has been harassed. Most egregious, however, was the arrest in February of Dushanbe Mayor Maksud Ikramov on a charge of bribery; according to the deputy, the arrest was carried out in an illegal manner. (Bess Brown) NEW PARTY IN TAJIKISTAN. A Republican Party has been established in Tajikistan, TadzhikTA-TASS reported on 24 March, which rejects religious or ideological orientations and proclaims itself to be opposed to separatism and to favor close cooperation with other states of the CIS. The former deputy chairman of the opposition Democratic Party, A. Ochilov, was chosen to head the Republicans' organization committee. Another Democratic Party official was reported to have joined the new party in protest against what he called the Democrats' policy of breaking up Tajikistan. The report suggests that the new party may be a grouping of more conservative opposition members, who are unhappy at the growing nationalism of the older opposition parties. (Bess Brown) UZBEKISTAN TO HAVE OWN CURRENCY IN APRIL? The Central TV midnight newscast on 25 March quoted a Megapolis-Ekspress report that Uzbekistan may introduce its own currency sometime in April. According to the report, the currency will be called tanga and is already being printed in Germany. (Bess Brown) BALTIC STATES ESTONIAN FOREIGN MINISTER DESIGNATED. On 24 March Prime Minister Tiit Vahi said that he will nominate Jaan Manitski to replace Lennart Meri as Estonia's foreign minister, Western agencies and ETA report. Manitski was born in 1940 in Estonia, but moved with his parents to Sweden during World War II and holds Swedish citizenship. He is currently living in Brussels and formally received Estonian citizenship two weeks ago. The parliament's foreign affairs committee has already expressed its support for Manitski's nomination. (Saulius Girnius) RUSSIA'S DELAY TACTICS IN WITHDRAWING TROOPS. Commenting on the recent talks between Latvian and Russian experts on the withdrawal of ex-USSR forces, Latvian Minister of State Janis Dinevics said that Russia is using subtle and not-so-subtle delay tactics in order to maintain its military presence in Latvia. Radio Riga reported on 23 March that he invited observers from Estonia, Lithuania, and Western democracies to attend the next talks. Deputy Minister of Defense Dainis Turlajs said that the latest Russian demands included guarantees that retired military officers could obtain Latvian citizenship and that officers in active service could become owners of the apartments that they presently occupy; without saying where or when the troops would go, the Russian side also asked for Latvian commitment to help construct housing for the troops. (Dzintra Bungs) TROOPS TRANSPORTING FOODSTUFFS? More troop and tank movements have been recently registered in Latvia. BNS reported on 23 March that a state of alarm was announced for several hours on 22 March in Martinciems and Adazi, where there are bases. The local military authorities did not provide an explanation, but Col. Gen. Valerii Mironov, commander of the Northwestern Group of Forces, said the latest troop activities were necessitated by the need to transport foodstuffs, Radio Riga reported on 24 March. (Dzintra Bungs) RUSSIA WANTS REDUCED PRICES ON LATVIAN IMPORTS. Russia has raised another obstacle to the implementation of the Latvian-Russian trade accord for 1992. A delegation from Moscow led by Nikolai Konovalov, Russia's deputy minister of trade and material resources, visited Riga and proposed substantial cuts in the US dollar value of goods to be exported by Latvia in exchange for petroleum products from Russia. The delegation also said that the amount, not the dollar price, of petroleum products would also be reduced by about 7%. Despite the reduction of petroleum coming from Russia, the lower prices on Latvian exports to Russia would still create a huge trade deficit for Latvia. Russia wants Latvia to make up the deficit of about $254.33 million by sending additional foodstuffs and consumer products, Diena reported on 23 March. (Dzintra Bungs) BELARUS DAYS IN LITHUANIA. On 25 March Belarus Supreme Soviet Chairman Stanislau Shushkevich will participate in the opening of the "Belarus Days" in Lithuania, Radio Lithuania reports. Lithuanian Supreme Council Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis invited Shushkevich and is scheduled to meet with him in the afternoon. He is accompanied by Petr Sadouski, chairman of the Foreign Economic Ties Commission of the Belarus Supreme Council. It is worth noting that the traditional Belarus independence day, 25 March, has been commemorated by Belarusians in Lithuania for three years running, while Belarus itself will commemorate the date this year for the first time. (Saulius Girnius) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE MECIAR UPDATE. On 24 March former Slovak Premier Vladimir Meciar denied a Slovak parliament committee report that he had collaborated with the former communist secret police (STB). His spokesman Milan Secansky told foreign journalists that Meciar has twice been screened by a federal parliament commission investigating all deputies for evidence of STB ties. Denying the allegations, Secansky charged that the investigation was headed by Meciar's political enemies. The parliament committee's report concluded that Meciar began working with the STB in 1985 and later, in the postcommunist period, used his offices to cover up the connection. Meciar is the chairman of the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia, which has been leading all other Slovak parties in preelection polls. (Barbara Kroulik) CZECHOSLOVAK DEFENSE COUNCIL TO CONTROL ARMS DEALS. The Czechoslovak Defense Council has decided to assume control over arms deals in the country until a law regulating such trade is adopted. This was decided on 24 March at a special session in Prague. The Council will be the only body empowered to authorize arms exports to military suppliers, Western agencies report. (Barbara Kroulik) POLISH WEAPONS DEALERS DETAINED IN GERMANY. German police have arrested seven Polish arms dealers accused of trying to sell weapons worth about $100 million to Iraq. The prosecutor's office in the state of Hesse said the Poles tried to sell two MiG fighter planes, 4,000 mortars, and about 80,000 Kalashnikov submachine guns. According to Western media, the arms had been declared as a shipment for the Philippines. The unidentified Poles were detained in Frankfurt a week ago on charges of violating German laws on arms exports. The deal would presumably also violate the UN embargo on arms supplies to Iraq. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) POLAND RECOGNIZES GEORGIA. On 24 March Poland recognized the Republic of Georgia as a state and declared its readiness to establish interstate ties. PAP reports that Foreign Minister Krzysztof Skubiszewski has been authorized to conclude an accord establishing diplomatic relations. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENTARY RESOLUTION ON DAM PROJECT. On 24 March, the Hungarian parliament adopted a resolution authorizing the government to cancel the 1977 Hungarian-Czechoslovak bilateral agreement on the Gabcikovo- Nagymaros hydroelectric project unless the Czechoslovak government stops construction work on its side of the project by 30 April. The preamble of the resolution reiterates the Hungarian position that the continuing construction and operation of the dam would have "grave ecological and economic consequences." The resolution warns that the Czechoslovak plan on finishing and operating the project would involve the changing of the Hungarian- Czechoslovak border and leave the Hungarian government no other choice but to cancel the agreement. The resolution states that Hungary will seek international support for its position. This was reported by MTI on 24 March. (Edith Oltay) HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ON MINORITIES. Hungarian Foreign Minister Geza Jeszenszky told the Helsinki CSCE conference on 24 March that the denial of minority rights can lead to conflict and called on the CSCE to develop means to monitor government compliance with international agreements on minority rights. He proposed that the CSCE develop an "early warning system" to detect and discover potential sources of minority conflicts and expressed Hungary's support for Holland's proposal to appoint a CSCE commissioner for minorities. This was reported by an RFE/RL correspondent on 24 March. (Edith Oltay) DECLINING HOUSING CONSTRUCTION IN HUNGARY. The Central Statistical Office reports that a total of 33,164 housing units were built in Hungary last year, a two-fold decrease compared to 1986. Already in 1991, one-fourth fewer apartments were built than the year before, and the number of new building permits issued (29,900) represented a 30% drop compared to 1990. This declining trend, which began in the mid-1980s, is due to the end of state involvement in apartment construction and has negatively affected counties that were formerly mining and heavy industry centers, MTI reported on 17 March. (Alfred Reisch) ROMANIA'S RELATIONS WITH MOLDOVA. A communique released in Helsinki on 24 March by the foreign ministers of Romania, Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine said that they will continue their efforts to resolve the conflict in Moldova and plan to meet again in April. President Ion Iliescu said that the meeting bodes well for the future. Meanwhile, Corneliu Manescu, chairman of the parliament foreign affairs commission, told the Timisoara newspaper Renasterea banateana that Moscow has lifted its opposition to Moldova's reunification with Romania, which can now be accomplished provided existing international agreements are respected. Moldova's ambassador to Bucharest, Aureliu Danila, said that President Iliescu's visit to Chisinau will probably have to be postponed because the draft bilateral treaty is not yet ready. (Mihai Sturdza) GANEV PROPOSED FOR UNGA CHAIRMANSHIP. The Bulgarian government has agreed to propose Foreign Minister Stoyan Ganev for the post of president of the 47th UN General Assembly beginning next September, the Bulgarian press reported on 24 March. An RFE/RL report from New York said the rotating presidency this year goes to an East European country, and it had been agreed that Bulgaria would submit a candidate who could be elected unopposed. The Bulgarian press emphasized the prestige of the post and the opportunities for contacts it presents. They said in the past Bulgaria had several times missed opportunities to name a candidate. (Rada Nikolaev) BULGARIA'S 1992 STATE BUDGET. On 24 March Minister of Finance Ivan Kostov presented in the National Assembly the draft budget for 1992. He proposed a budget deficit of 9.2 billion leva, or 4.3% of the gross domestic product, compared with a deficit of 3.9% of the GDP last year, but budget expenditures would be reduced. BTA also said Kostov expects an average inflation rate of 65%, a 4% decrease in production, and a 12% unemployment rate. The fluctuating exchange rate of the lev is expected to be stabilized and its real value possibly will increase. The government will try to reduce the interest rate by 5% in the first quarter and by 1% every following quarter. Negotiations on Bulgaria's foreign debt will be held with the creditor banks on 2-3 April. (Rada Nikolaev) UPDATE ON THE YUGOSLAV AREA. International media reported on 24 March that Croatia and Slovenia were accepted into the CSCE. Belgrade had blocked their applications last year. Meanwhile in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, fighting continued as both sides, particularly the Serbian forces, seek to consolidate their positions before UN peace-keeping forces are fully in place. UN commander Gen. Satish Nambiar warned that deployment of his men might be delayed if the cease-fire is not observed. Belgian and Russian UN troops came under fire, but no one was injured. Finally, the 25 March Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung quotes Albanian Democratic Party leader Sali Berisha as saying that his party will be more assertive in defending the interests of the Albanians in the former Yugoslavia than were the Socialists, who lost the 22 March election. He also pledged to make Albanian citizenship available to Albanians from across the border. (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). The report is available Monday through Friday, except holidays, at approximately 0800 US Eastern Time (1400 Central European Time) by fax, post, or e-mail. The report is also posted daily on the SOVSET computer network. For-inquiries about specific news items, subscriptions, or additional copies, please contact: In USA: Mr. Jon Lodeesen or Mr. Brian Reed RFE/RL, Inc., 1201 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036. Telephone: (202) 457-6912 or -6900 fax: (202) 457-6992 or -202-828-8783; or in Europe: Mr. David L. Troyanek or Ms. Helga Hofer Publications Department, RFE/RL Research Institute Oettingenstrasse 67 8000 Munich 22 Telephone: (-49 89) 2102-2631 or -2642 fax: (-49 89) 2102-2648
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.