|Greatness lies not in being strong, but in the right use of strength. - Henry Ward Beecher|
No. 60, 26 March 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR TRIPARTITE TALKS SCHEDULED ON NAGORNO-KARABAKH. Following three hours of talks in Helsinki on 25 March between Armenian and Azerbaijani representatives, Armenian Foreign Minister Raffi Hovanissian told journalists that agreement had been reached on holding tripartite talks on a cease-fire and lifting the economic blockade. These talks would be held parallel to and in preparation for the CSCE peace conference on Nagorno-Karabakh scheduled for Minsk. Azerbaijan agreed in principle on the participation of a representative from Nagorno-Karabakh, but objected to Nagorno-Karabakh parliament Chairman Artur Mkrtchyan or any other representative who insists on independence for Karabakh. (Liz Fuller) MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT CRITICIZES RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT'S APPEAL. The Moldovan parliament described the 20 March appeal from the Russian parliament on the conflict in the Dniester region as an unfriendly act and interference in the internal affairs of another state, the Radio Odin network and ITAR-TASS reported on 25 March. At the same time, the Moldovan parliament received with satisfaction the statement of the CIS heads of state adopted in Kiev on 20 March which reaffirmed the principle of the inviolability of borders. At the Helsinki Foreign Ministers' conference, Moldova protested the activities of illegal armed forces operating on the left bank of the Dniester, RFE/RL's correspondent reported on 25 March. The Romanian government also circulated a statement at the conference condemning the activities of armed forces on the left bank of the Dniester. Meanwhile there have been further shooting incidents in the area involving casualties. (Ann Sheehy) RUSSIAN "SHADOW" CONSTITUTION. On 24 March, Russia's Constitutional Commission agreed to submit its draft document to the Congress of People's Deputies on 6 April. "Vesti" reported on 25 March that the final draft envisaged a parliamentary-type system, that is, one in which the legislature enjoys significant powers vis-a-vis the president. Deputy Prime Minister Mikhail Poltoranin told a press conference on 25 March that he disliked the new draft because it called for the abolition of presidentially-appointed local governors and enhanced the power of local soviets instead. Poltoranin added that he believed that a presidential, not a parliamentary, system was suitable for Russia. Meanwhile, Moscow News (No. 11) revealed that an alternative constitution is being drafted under the auspices of the mayor of St. Petersburg, Anatolii Sobchak, on behalf of the liberal Movement for Democratic Reforms (MDR). In the past, Sobchak has favored a presidential-type system, that is, one in which the balance of political power is weighted in favor of the executive rather than the legislature. Moscow News says that, if the Congress rejects the draft constitution, the MDR will call for a countrywide referendum. (Julia Wishnevsky and Elizabeth Teague) "ENLIGHTENED DICTATORSHIP" FOR RUSSIA? According to Kommersant (No. 12), Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Gennadii Burbulis has asked the Moscow think-tank, Institute of the World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO), to provide the Russian government with a research paper addressing two questions: (1) How might "enlightened" authoritarianism be introduced in Russia? (2) How might the necessity for such a regime might be explained to the public? On 24 March, RFE/RL's Russian Service learned that, during a meeting with the leaders of Russian political parties, Yeltsin said he could not rule out the possible introduction of authoritarian rule should the forthcoming Congress of Russian People's Deputies reject the new draft Russian constitution or deprive the president of the privilege of appointing ministers without the approval of the parliament. (Julia Wishnevsky) RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT CONSIDERS BILL ON POLITICAL PARTIES. The Russian parliament is considering a draft law on political parties, Interfax reported on 23 March. The new legislation draws on the experience of Germany, Italy, and Spain as regards the granting of state subsidies to political parties and state control over their financial activities. The right to receive a state subsidy would, under the draft, be restricted to parties that win over 1% of the total number of votes cast during a general election. (Elizabeth Teague) YELTSIN ON BILATERAL TREATY WITH TATARSTAN. Russian President Yeltsin said on 25 March during his meeting with the "Smena" parliamentary faction that he was sure Russia would sign a separate bilateral treaty with Tatarstan, possibly before the Russian Congress of People's Deputies opens on 6 April, ITAR-TASS reported. (Ann Sheehy) BASHKORTOSTAN AND FEDERAL TREATY. At a conference in Ufa devoted to the constitutional status of Bashkortostan, the chairman of the republic's parliament Murtaza Rakhimov said that the republic was, in principle, in favor of signing the federal treaty but would scrutinize every provision, Postfactum reported on 25 March. Rakhimov said that the Bashkortostan leadership fully supported Tatarstan in its struggle for sovereignty. (Ann Sheehy) LANDMARK AGREEMENT SIGNED; UNIONS PROMISE NOT TO STRIKE. Russian TV's evening news led with extensive footage of the signing, in Moscow on 25 March, of a General Agreement (the first of its kind) between the Russian government, the official and the unofficial trade unions, and Russia's fledgling entrepreneurs' associations. (Since 96% of Russia's enterprises are still in state hands, the tripartite agreement is, according to RFE/RL Russian Service stringer Mikhail Sokolov, essentially a bipartite affair.) Champagne was drunk as the unions promised that, if the government adheres to the extensive social guarantees (minimum wages and pensions, wage indexation) listed in the agreement, they will not call their workers out on strike against the government's economic reform program during the coming year. (Elizabeth Teague) DISPUTE OVER ENERGY PRICES. In interviews given on 25 March to Komsomolskaya pravda and Russian TV, as reported by ITAR-TASS, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Egor Gaidar defended the decision to free the prices of oil and petroleum products (now scheduled for late May or early June). "The current structure of prices, based on cheap energy, cannot continue. A little longer and the whole sector will grind to a halt and will bring the whole economy down with it." But Russian parliament Chairman Ruslan Khasbulatov told a parliamentary session that a further liberalization of fuel prices would destroy industry and harm the population, and the parliament would veto any such move. (Keith Bush) WESTERN BANKERS TO DEFER CIS DEBT REPAYMENT? Ahead of the 26 March meeting in Frankfurt of the panel representing some 600 Western banks which have made loans to the former Soviet Union, Western agency reports on 25 March were unanimous in forecasting a further three-month roll-over of principal payments by the successor states. One leading German banker was quoted as saying that the payment of principal will be deferred repeatedly. A three-month roll-over would at least ensure that contact between the creditor banks and CIS officials was maintained. The total owed by the CIS to Western banks is estimated to be around $25 billion. (Keith Bush) CIS PARLIAMENTARIANS TO DISCUSS CREATION OF ASSEMBLY. The main item on the agenda of the CIS heads of parliaments at their meeting in Alma-Ata on 27 March will be the creation of an interparliamentary assembly, the chairman of the Russian parliament Ruslan Khasbulatov told the parliament on 25 March. But he went on to say that it would be a great triumph if the assembly was set up, ITAR-TASS reported. At previous interparliamentary meetings Ukraine in particular has opposed the creation of an assembly. (Ann Sheehy) AGREEMENT ON CIS INTELLIGENCE SERVICES COOPERATION. The foreign intelligence services of the CIS states have signed an agreement which states that the republics will not spy on each other and will cooperate in their intelligence activities, spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, Tatyana Samolis told ITAR-TASS on 25 March. The Russian Federation has already set up a coordinating group and also has completed a draft of the law on the foreign intelligence service in the republic, Samolis added. (Victor Yasmann) UKRAINIAN SECURITY SERVICE REFORMED. Radio Ukraine reported on 25 March that the Ukrainian parliament has passed a law on Ukraine's state security service. It is designed to transform the former Ukrainian KGB into an agency serving the interests of an independent and democratic Ukrainian state. (Bohdan Nahaylo) STAROVOITOVA RUMOR SCOTCHED. Russian President Boris Yeltsin has denied that Galina Starovoitova is to be appointed Russian defense minister--a post that Yeltsin himself is occupying on an interim basis. The "Vesti" newscast on 25 March reported that Yeltsin refuted this rumor during a recent meeting with a group of Russian Supreme Soviet members. (Doug Clarke) NUMBER OF NUKES IN UKRAINE REVEALED. A report in the 26 March Komsomolskaya pravda, claiming the CIS Joint Armed Forces High Command as its source, said that there were 1,420 strategic and 2,390 tactical nuclear warheads still on Ukrainian territory. It repeated that 57% of the tactical weapons had already been removed, which would have given an original stockpile of some 4,200 weapons--considerably higher than most Western estimates. The report also quoted Lieutenant General Sergei Zelentsov as saying there were not enough trains available to remove these weapons by the 1 July deadline unless the transfers were resumed by the end of March. (Doug Clarke) UKRAINE RECALLS ITS SOLDIERS FROM TROUBLE SPOTS. President Leonid Kravchuk has issued a decree recalling Ukrainian nationals serving in the CIS armed forces in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Moldova, Ukrinform-TASS reported on 25 March. (Bohdan Nahaylo) CRIMEAN TATARS MAINTAIN THEIR PRESSURE ON UKRAINIAN AUTHORITIES. Crimean Tatar activists are continuing their protest in Kiev. Radio Ukraine reported on 25 March that the deputy chairman of the Crimean Tatar "Medzhlis" (Council), Rafat Chubarov, was allowed to address the Ukrainian parliament. He called for the restoration of national-territorial autonomy for the Crimean Tatars in Crimea and castigated the Russian-dominated Crimean authorities for blocking this and the resettlement of his people in the peninsula. According to Reuters of 25 March, Ukrainian leaders have expressed support for many of the demands being made by the Crimean Tatars but have said that their hands are tied at present by the tense situation in Crimea where there is a strong movement for secession from Ukraine. (Bohdan Nahaylo) AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IN JUNE. The Azerbaijani parliament voted on 25 March to hold presidential elections on 7 June, ITAR-TASS reported. Following the resignation on 6 March of President Ayaz Mutalibov, it had been proposed to abolish the office of president. (Liz Fuller) ARMENIA INTRODUCES STATE OF ECONOMIC EMERGENCY. Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan issued a personal decree on 25 March introducing a state of economic emergency to cope with the ongoing energy crisis resulting from Azerbaijan's economic blockade, ITAR-TASS reported. The decree also calls for increased security around state buildings and other vital facilities. (Liz Fuller) ARMENIA DECIDES ON ITS OWN CURRENCY. The Armenian parliament decided on 25 March to introduce a national currency, to be called the "dram," ITAR-TASS reported, quoting the chairman of the Finance-Budget Commission, Tigran Sarkisyan. He added that talks are scheduled to begin with foreign companies on 26 March for manufacture of the new currency. (Liz Fuller) UZBEKISTAN TO CREATE BORDER GUARDS. Uzbek President Islam Karimov has signed a decree ordering the formation of border guard units under the authority of the republic's National Security Service, ITAR-TASS reported on 25 March. The decree subordinates all CIS border guard units based in Uzbekistan to the new border guard department of the National Security Service. (Carla Thorson) KYRGYZSTAN NOT TO CREATE OWN ARMY. The chairman of the Kyrgyz parliament's committee on military affairs, Dzhanibek Umetaliev, said on 25 March that Kyrgyzstan has no intention of setting up its own national army, Interfax reported. He said the Kyrgyzstan authorities would take into account the wishes of Kyrgyzstan recruits who do not want to be posted outside the republic, but about 7,000 of this year's 11,000 draftees will be required to serve in other CIS republics. (Ann Sheehy) EASTERN EUROPE BALTIC STATES CALL FOR CSCE ROLE IN TROOP WITHDRAWAL. On 25 March the three Baltic foreign ministers attending the CSCE conference in Helsinki said that the CSCE could help in the withdrawal of former Soviet troops from their republics, Western agencies report. The Lithuanian Algirdas Saudargas said that his government wants to have "a precise bilateral agreement already this spring." If this were not done, Lithuania would raise the withdrawal issue in the CSCE meetings that will end in early July. Outgoing Estonian foreign minister Lennart Meri said: "As a CSCE member, Russia, has a moral duty to remove the forces," but doubted that a withdrawal agreement would be signed in the next three months. Janis Jurkans of Latvia said that the CSCE should monitor the troop withdrawals from the Baltic States to help "prevent conflicts and stabilize the region of central Europe." (Saulius Girnius) MERI CRITICIZES RUSSIA OVER ACCIDENT. In a speech to CSCE foreign ministers at the Helsinki meeting, Meri sharply criticized Russia for not having provided full information about Tuesday's nuclear incident at a plant west of St. Petersburg. Ironically echoing Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev's call for protection of the rights of the Russian minority in the Baltic States, Meri said, "Allow me to point out that in the border town of Narva, where the Soviet Union settled a large Russian population after World War II, the level of radioactivity had doubled by [the evening of 24 March]. The Russian population in Narva does require protection--but from radiation." An RFE/RL correspondent in Helsinki reported Meri's remarks on 25 March Meanwhile, Estonia's Ministry of the Environment reports that levels of radiation are stable everywhere in Estonia except in Narva, where they are higher than normal but do not yet constitute a health risk, BNS reports. (Riina Kionka) EC MEETING ON REVITALIZATION OF THE BALTIC REGION. Leaders and parliamentarians of Baltic and Nordic countries are meeting on 26 March in Stockholm and 27 March in Tallinn to consider prospects for a Baltic Sea economic area and designate priority areas for international cooperation and assistance. Baltic participants have a special guest status at the conference, sponsored by the European Community, since their countries have not yet been accorded full EC membership, an RFE/RL correspondent in Paris reports. In a show of solidarity with the Baltic States, the Nordic Council has allocated DM 130,000 to make it possible for Baltic participation in the UN environmental conference in Rio de Janeiro in June, Western agencies reported on 25 March. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIA DRAFTS DEFENSE CONCEPTS. Diena reported on 24 March that the Commission on Defense and Internal Affairs of the Latvian Supreme Council has completed drafting the concepts for the defense of Latvia. According to Minister of Defense Talavs Jundzis, the concepts are based on the premise that Latvia, assuming a defensive rather than an offensive posture, must guarantee the security of its citizens and its borders. The draft document also states that Latvia rejects foreign military bases on its territory and activities on its territory leading to aggression against another state. (Dzintra Bungs) RUSSIAN-ESTONIAN TALKS TO RESUME. General disengagement talks between Russian and Estonian negotiators may resume on 5-6 April, according to BNS of 24 March. The chief negotiators, Uno Veering for Estonia and Vasilii Svirin for Russia, reached agreement on resuming talks during their meeting in Moscow on 25 March. The talks, which are to govern military, political, social, and economic issues, stalled in the wake of Estonia's governmental crisis last January. (Riina Kionka) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE POPE RESTRUCTURES CHURCH IN POLAND. On 25 March the Vatican announced that Pope John Paul II has ordered an extensive restructuring of the Catholic Church in Poland. Only one of Poland's 27 dioceses will remain unchanged. The size of most dioceses will be reduced to give each an average of a million people. The Pope also increased the number of dioceses to 40, created 13 new bishoprics, and redrew the borders of six dioceses extending into Ukraine and Belarus. According to the Vatican, the Pontiff was able to change the border dioceses because of "historic changes in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe." Cardinal Jozef Glemp will remain as primate, but his seat will move from Warsaw to Gniezno and in the future the title of primate will go to the newly created post of archbishop of Gniezno. Western and Polish media carried the story. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) WALESA ON THREAT OF ANARCHY IN CIS. The Polish president has expressed concern about what he perceives as the threat of anarchy and large-scale disorder in the former USSR. Walesa also said that Poland alone would be unable to deal with the possibility of a wave of refugees from the East. Such problems can only be solved on a European level, he told Sueddeutsche Zeitung in an interview appearing on 26 March. Referring to Polish differences with Lithuania, Walesa suggested that Vilnius should treat the country's Polish minority in the same spirit as Warsaw deals with German minority in Upper Silesia. Assessing progress in stability and democratization in the country, Walesa told Frankfurter Rundschau that Polish democracy is not being threatened, adding that Poland is in every respect more stable than former East Germany. He also said that the democratization process in Poland is considerably more advanced than in Czechoslovakia. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) STOLTENBERG ENDS VISIT TO POLAND. On 25 March in Gdynia German Defense Minister Gerhard Stoltenberg met with Rear Adm. Romuald Waga, commander of the Polish Fleet, Western and Polish media report. During the fourth and final day of his visit to Poland he also laid a wreath at the Wester-platte monument near Gdansk to honor soldiers of a garrison who defended their small post at the beginning of WW II. Stoltenberg noted that Germany and Poland currently enjoy good relations and stressed that German forces present no threat to Poland or any other country. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) BROTHER OF SLOVAK PREMIER LINKED TO STB. On 25 March Slovak Parliament Vice Chair-man Ivan Carnogursky denied allegations that he had been an informer for the former communist secret police. The charges against him were made by Roman Hofbauer, parliament deputy for the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia. Hofbauer's charges follow the release of a Slovak parliament report naming his party's chairman Vladimir Meciar a collaborator. On 23 March the full parliament voted to approve that report. Slovak radio quotes Ivan Carnogursky as saying the charges against him were fabricated. He and his brother Jan, the Slovak premier, are political rivals of Meciar. Speaking to reporters Hofbauer refused to provide details about the charges and said documents backing them have been given to the parliament. (Barbara Kroulik) CZECH GOVERNMENT APPROVES TRUCK DEAL. On 25 March the Czech government approved a joint venture between German automaker Mercedes-Benz and the local companies Avia and Liaz. Czech industry minister Jan Vrba told CSTK the deal calls for Mercedes to invest 7 billion koruny (about $230 million) in Liaz and Avia, makers of heavy and light trucks. A letter of intent was signed in January. A government official said that final agreement should be signed by mid-year and Mercedes trucks should start rolling off the assembly line six months after that. (Barbara Kroulik) COST OF CZECHOSLOVAK ELECTIONS. The Czechoslovak Interior Ministry said on 25 March the upcoming June parliamentary elections are expected to cost about one billion koruny ($33 million). CSTK says the federal government has so far allotted 578 million koruny and the Czech republic another 150 million koruny. The Slovak government has not yet made public its financing plans. The ministry also said it has set up a government coordinating commission to oversee compliance with federal and republican election laws. (Barbara Kroulik) HUNGARY PROTESTS YUGOSLAV ARMY SHOOTING. On 25 March, the Hungarian Foreign Ministry handed Yugoslavia's ambassador in Budapest a note protesting the violation of Hungary's sovereignty and territorial integrity by the Yugoslav Federal Army, MTI reports. Federal troops fired shots at two people working in the fields on Hungarian territory in the region of Puspokboly. Violations of Hungarian territory in the past have prompted Hungarian protests.(Edith Oltay) FOREIGN INVESTORS GET ACCESS TO HUN-GARIAN STATE SECURITIES. The Hungarian National Bank decided to allow foreigners indirectly to purchase state securities through an investment fund controlled by the government, MTI reported on 25 March. National Bank Vice President Frigyes Harshegyi said that the bank's new regulations allow up to 20% of the fund, worth some $37.5 million, to be owned by foreigners. Hungary uses the proceeds from the sale of the securities to finance its state de-ficit. Previously the bank barred foreigners from buy-ing Hungarian state securities because it feared the country would lose money on the transactions since the securities paid an interest rate much higher than similar securities in Western Europe. Harshegyi said the creation of an investment fund controlling the level of investment makes losses less likely.(Edith Oltay) BUCHAREST DEBATES CONFISCATED HOMES. A property war involving hundreds of thousands of houses confiscated by the communists throughout Romania is under way between the former owners and the present tenants. The Daily Telegraph reports on 24 March that a forthcoming law will have to umpire between the Association of Tenants, which wants to buy the nationalized houses from the state, and the associations of former owners, who claim the houses and are demanding that the rent be paid to them, not the state. Both groups demonstrated in Bucharest. According to former owners, the parliament's NSF majority backs the tenants because the finest houses of the prewar bourgeoisie are now in the hands of the postwar nomenklatura. (Mihai Sturdza) BULGARIAN-GERMAN ECONOMIC RELATIONS. The 14th session of the German-Bulgarian economic commission was held on 25 March in Bonn. Demokratsiya on 26 March says that a protocol on economic cooperation was signed. The Bulgarian delegation was headed by Minister of Industry and Trade Ivan Pushkarov. An RFE/RL report quoted German representatives as saying that German business is very interested in deals with Bulgaria, but trade will depend on continued Bulgarian economic and financial reform as well as on the foreign debt negotiations in April. Direct German financial aid was called not possible because of Bulgaria's problems, but Germany has been channeling a great deal of money to Bulgaria through international programs. The Germans also noted that they have resumed credit guarantees for exports to Bulgaria. An accord on training of Bulgarian economic experts and managers is also anticipated. (Rada Nikolaev) EBRD LOAN FOR BULGARIAN ENERGY. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has approved a $52 million loan to Bulgaria to improve its energy supplies. An RFE/RL report from London on 25 March quotes the EBRD as saying that the loan will go to the coal-burning Maritsa Iztok power plant and a part will be used to reduce pollution from coal industry. Maritsa Iztok has recently been able to make up for part of the energy shortage caused by failures of the Kozloduy nuclear power plant. This prompted President Zhelev on 21 March, amidst persistent strike threats, to send a message of gratitude to the coal miners. (Rada Nikolaev) FIGHTING ON CROATIA, BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA BORDER. International media on 25 March report that the federal army and Serbian irregulars continue to shell Bosanski Brod, with some mortar fire reaching Slavonski Brod across the river in Croatia as well. As many as six people may have been killed. The 26 March Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung quotes local Croatian police as saying that the Serbs are trying to take control of Bosanski Brod, whose population is, however, only one-third Serb, as well as a nearby highway. The paper adds that the fighting has cast a shadow over talks on the political future of the ethnically mixed republic, slated to begin at the end of the week in Brussels. (Patrick Moore)
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