Liberty of thought means liberty to communicate one's thought. - Salvador de Madariaga
RFE/RL Daily Report

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






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