|The only certainty is that nothing is certain. - Pliny the Elder|
No. 62, 30 March 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR MOLDOVA DECLARES STATE OF EMERGENCY AND ISSUES ULTIMATUM TO REBELS. After weeks of escalating violence in Moldova, on 29 March President Mircea Snegur declared a state of emergency throughout the republic, Western and CIS agencies reported. Calling on the separatists of the "Dniester Republic" to surrender their arms and acknowledge the authority of the Moldovan government, he ordered Moldova's security forces to "liquidate and disarm the illegitimate armed formations" which were backing the Dniester "pseudo-state." The leadership of the "Dniester Republic" has responded with a call to arms and has appealed to Russia for protection, The Los Angeles Times reported on 30 March.(Bohdan Nahaylo) RUSSIA ON SETTLEMENT OF DNIESTER PROBLEM. The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement calling on Moldovan authorities and all parties concerned to act strictly in accordance with the norms of international law, legality, and respect for the rights of individuals and ethnic minorities. [No date of MFA statement provided.] Russian Minister Andrei Kozyrev also sent a message to the foreign ministers of Ukraine, Moldova, and Romania calling for practical steps to be taken to settle the conflict, Interfax reported on 29 March. On the same day, Romanian President Ion Iliescu said that foreign ministry officials from the four countries will hold talks in Chisenau on 30 or 31 March, Western agencies reported. (Suzanne Crow) UKRAINIAN REACTION TO DEVELOPMENTS IN MOLDOVA. Radio Bucharest reported on 28 March that Ukrainian Prime Minister Vitold Fokin had expressed his concern about developments in Moldova in a telephone conversation with his Moldovan counterpart, Valeriu Muravschi. On 29 March, the Presidium of the Ukrainian Supreme Council issued a statement warning that the escalation of the armed conflict in Moldova could have dangerous consequences for the republic's neighbors, especially Ukraine, Radio Ukraine reported. That same day, the head of the Ukrainian parliamentary commission on external affairs, Dmytro Pavlychko, who had just returned from Moldova, told Radio Ukraine that Ukraine considers the existing border with Moldova as inviolable. (Bohdan Nahaylo) NAGORNO-KARABAKH UPDATE. Despite an agreement on 27 March between Armenia and Azerbaijan to extend the informal Iranian-brokered cease-fire in Nagorno-Karabakh, a passenger plane flying from Stepanakert to Erevan was hit by an Azerbaijani heat-seeking missile on 27 March, and Stepanakert and other Armenian villages were subjected to missile attacks on 28-29 March, killing at least eight people, Western agencies reported. Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mahmoud Vaezi told reporters on 29 March that Russian representatives will participate in quadripartite talks on Karabakh to be held this week. (Liz Fuller) GAMSAKHURDIA SUPPORTERS SEIZE TOWNS IN WESTERN GEORGIA. Supporters of ousted Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia occupied the towns of Abasha, Khobi, Senaki, and Tsalendzhik in western Georgia on 28 March, and dismissed the local authorities, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 March. The ruling State Council has ordered a mobilization of National Guard reservists in order "to protect public order" throughout Georgia. (Liz Fuller) ONLY SEVEN STATES AGREE TO CIS INTER-PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY. Only seven of the eleven states which are members of the CIS agreed in Alma-Ata on 27 March to form an inter-parliamentary assembly, ITAR-TASS reported. Moldova and Turkmenistan were not represented at the meeting, and Ukraine and Azerbaijan did not sign the agreement. The chairman of the Ukrainian parliament, Ivan Pliushch, explained that Ukraine accepted the need for inter-parliamentary consultations between the CIS states, but not for an inter-parliamentary assembly. (Bohdan Nahaylo) DETAILS OF RUSSIAN ARMED FORCES, MILITARY BUDGET. Lt. Gen. Valerii Manilov told a press conference on 27 March that the Russian armed forces would have 1.2-1.3 million men. According to Interfax, he predicted that the Russian military would be formed by the end of the current "transitional period" of perhaps two years. Speaking on Russian TV that same day, Russian parliamentary deputy Valerii Shinko revealed that the draft budget called for defense expenditures of 50,727 million rubles in the first quarter of this year, 118,802 million in the second, and an average of 132,612 million for each of the last two quarters. Shinko complained that there had been no justification for the sharp increase in the second quarter spending. (Doug Clarke) STUDY: EX-SOVIET MILITARY COULD "EXPLODE." Rossiiskaya gazeta on 27 March published a study warning that demoralization and the decline of discipline in the former Soviet military had reached a "dangerously explosive" point. The study had been prepared by the Istina Research Center of the Russian Science Ministry. The authors said that the military lacked state or public controls and was at the center of the "contradictions" that were tearing apart the CIS. (Doug Clarke) UKRAINE CHANGES NUKE REMOVAL DEADLINE? Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk told an audience in New Delhi on 27 March that all the former Soviet tactical nuclear weapons would be removed from Ukraine "this year." He was also quoted by Western agencies as saying that Ukraine would sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Ukraine had agreed at the December 1991 Alma-Ata CIS summit to transfer all the tactical nuclear weapons to Russia by 1 July. The Ukrainian parliament has yet to ratify this agreement. Reuters reported on 26 March that the parliament would discuss a proposal to delay the withdrawal of strategic nuclear weapons from its territory. These are due to be pulled out by 1995. (Doug Clarke) RUSSIA TO BUILD NEW BALLISTIC MISSILE. Postfactum on 27 March carried a report that Russian President Boris Yeltsin had approved the development of a new single-warhead inter-continental ballistic missile. It referred to a supposition by military experts that this new program was related to the possibility that Russia and the United States might agree to eliminate multiple-warhead strategic nuclear missiles. (Doug Clarke) DROP IN DEFENSE INDUSTRY EXPORTS. The chairman of the All-Russian Trade Union of Defense Industry Workers told Krasnaya zvezda of 26 March that Russian defense industry exports were 3.8 times less in 1991 than in 1989, ITAR-TASS reported. He attributed some of the blame to "the Russian government's lack of a military doctrine," and claimed that 21% of the defense industry enterprises were on the verge of bankruptcy. No authoritative data appear to have been published on Soviet or Russian arms exports, but the trade union official's assertion contradicts other pronouncements. For instance, Kommersant, as quoted by TASS on 20 January, reported that the Soviet Union was the world's leading arms exporter in 1991, with $11.65 billion's worth of sales. (Keith Bush) DRAFT PLAN PROPOSED FOR TATARSTAN-BASHKORTOSTAN CONFEDERATION. On 27 March, the Presidium of the Tatarstan Parliament indicated its opposition to a draft plan proposed by a group of Tatarstan deputies on the creation of a "Volga-Ural Confederation" on the territories of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan. The draft plan, which the Tatarstan Parliament called a "political provocation on the eve of talks with Russia," calls for a presidential republic consisting of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan with its own legislation and citizenship--a republic that would be open for entry to the Chuvash, Udmurt and Mordovian republics, the capital of which would be either Kazan or Ufa. (Charles Carlson) BASHKORTOSTAN REJECTS RUSSIAN FEDERATION TREATY. On 28 March, the Bashkortostan Parliament rejected the Russian Federation Treaty in its present form, saying it would sign only if proposed amendments are introduced that recognize the fundamental principles of Bashkortostan's declaration of sovereignty, grant the republic more rights, recognize the republics in the Russian Federation as founders of the federation, and limit the powers given to the Russian central government. The treaty, initialed by Bashkortostan parliament Chairman Murtaza Rakhinmov last week, is scheduled for signing on 31 March in Moscow. Tatarstan and the self-proclaimed Chechen republic have also said they will not sign the federation treaty. (Charles Carlson) TATAR CONGRESS CONCLUDES. The first session of the Milli-Majlis--the national congress of Tatars--has ended in Kazan, Interfax reported on 29 March. At its opening session on 28 March, the Milli-Majlis was proclaimed the supreme representative body of the Tatar people vested with legislative powers to repeal any laws or decisions passed by the parliament or the Cabinet of Ministers of Tatarstan which contradict the declaration of national sovereignty or the interests of the Tatar people. On its last day, the Milli-Majlis focused on military matters and participation in the World Congress of Tatars (scheduled for June), since official authorities have denied the Milli-Majlis their recognition and have instead proposed that the World Congress of Tatars form an alternative milli-majlis. (Charles Carlson) SIX MILLION UNEMPLOYED FORECAST. Russian First Deputy Labor Minister Vladimir Kosmarsky told a Moscow news conference on 27 March that some 6 million people are likely to be unemployed in Russia by the end of 1992, and he expects that some 2 million of these will receive unemployment benefits, Reuters reported. Social payments will total tens of billions of rubles each quarter. He was unable to say whether these have been provided for in the state budget, but said that they must be paid, even if it meant increasing the budget deficit. Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Egor Gaidar repeated that estimate of 6 million unemployed by year's end to the Russian parliament on 27 March, AFP reported. (Keith Bush) ONE-OFF PAYMENT TO PENSIONERS PROPOSED. The Russian minister of social security told Rossiiskiy vesti on 26 March that it was intended to make a one-off payment of 300 rubles to pensioners in April. Additional payments to families with children were also being considered. The minister hoped that the Russian parliament would expedite the passage of the new pension law so that it could take effect from May and not July, as had originally been envisaged. This would, inter alia, raise the level of the minimum pension to not lower than the officially-determined subsistence level. (Keith Bush) WEST URGED TO SPEED UP ASSISTANCE. At a conference in Turkey on 27 March, representatives from the Central Asian and Caucasian republics of the former Soviet Union asked the West to expedite aid, Reuters reported. The two-day meeting at Antalya, focussing on technical aid to these republics, was hosted by the Turkish Export-Import Bank. The CIS and Georgian representatives said that they have enough natural resources but need foreign technical help in five main areas: human resources, health, ecology, restructuring, and transportation. (Keith Bush) BESSMERTNYKH REPLACES SHEVARDNADZE AT FPA. Eduard Shevardnadze has resigned as president of the Foreign Policy Association, a foreign policy think tank which he created in 1991. Former USSR Foreign Minister Aleksandr Bessmertnykh was elected by the Association on 28 March to succeed Shevardnadze. Shevardnadze, whose duties as Chairman of the State Council in Georgia prevent him from continuing as the FPA's president, was voted to be honorary president by the Association, Interfax reported on 28 March. (Suzanne Crow) UKRAINE SEEKS ECONOMIC COOPERATION WITH JAPAN. Ukraine is keen to develop good economic relations with Japan and in April is planning to propose three agreements on bilateral economic cooperation, ITAR-TASS reported from Tokyo on 26 March. The Ukrainian deputy minister for foreign trade, Leonid Steshenko, explained in an interview for a Japanese newspaper that Ukraine is anxious to reduce its dependence on Russia and other former Soviet republics. (Bohdan Nahaylo) UKRAINE DEVELOPS TIES WITH INDIA. On 29 March Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk concluded an official visit to India, ITAR-TASS reported. The main result of the visit, according to Kravchuk, was the signing of a bilateral agreement on friendship and cooperation, and agreements on cooperation in the economic and trade spheres. (Bohdan Nahaylo) UNOFFICIAL RALLY CONTINUES IN DUSHANBE. An unofficial rally organized by demonstrators demanding new parliamentary elections and the release of former Dushanbe Mayor Maksud Ikramov was continuing into its fourth day, Interfax reported on 28 March. Ikramov was arrested earlier this month for misusing his authority and taking bribes. The rally, which began after parliament dismissed Tajik Interior Minister Mamadayez Navzhuvanov for ignoring orders by top republican authorities, was discussed on Russian TV on 29 March by Tajik President Rakhmon Nabiyev, who said that he does not have the power to dissolve parliament as long as the new constitution has not been drafted and that the courts must first decide whether Ikramov is guilty or not. If Ikramov is not guilty, Nabiyev said, those authorities who authorized his arrest should be held accountable. (Charles Carlson) SPLIT AMONG UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX BELIEVERS COMPOUNDED. On 27 March, Radio Ukraine reported on a split in the ranks of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, which unlike the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (formerly, simply part of the Russian Orthodox Church) was banned by the Soviet authorities. This Church now appears to have divided into those, led by Metropolitan Ioann, who want to join with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church led by Metropolitan Filaret (who is currently pressing for autocephaly, or canonical independence from the Moscow Patriarchate), and those who have remained loyal to the Patriarch of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, Mstyslav. (Bohdan Nahaylo) METROPOLITAN REJECTS CRITICISM. Zhizn published in no. 11, March 1992, an interview with Metropolitan Pitirim of Volokolam and Yurev. The metropolitan, who is the head of the publishing department of the Russian Orthodox Church, is one of its leading hierarchs. He was accused recently in the press of being a "KGB operative." The metropolitan told the interviewer that he thinks it "unnatural" to defend himself against the campaign being waged now but that he never did anything illegal or amoral. (Oxana Antic) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UK RETURNS ESTONIAN GOLD. British Ambassador to Estonia Brian Buik Low signed a note on 27 March returning the gold Estonia had deposited in the UK before World War II, ETA reported that day. Bank of Estonia President Siim Kallas said the gold, worth about $50-60 million, will remain in London to back the planned Estonian kroon. (Riina Kionka) LATVIA BECOMES MEMBER OF EBRD. Latvia's Deputy Minister for Economic Reforms Dainis Ritins told Diena of 26 March that Latvia has become a member of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. He said that Latvia's membership was announced in a letter dated 18 March from EBRD president Jacques Attali to Arnis Kalnins, Minister for Economic Reforms. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIAN GOVERNMENT RECKONS WITH ECONOMIC STATE OF EMERGENCY. The Latvian government has asked the Supreme Council to accord it special powers to deal with an economic state of emergency, should such a situation arise. Minister for Economic Reforms Arnis Kalnins said that this request was included in a wide-ranging economic stabilization program that the government had submitted to the legislature. Kalnins told Diena of 26 March that the program focuses on ways to keep essential enterprises working, secure adequate supplies of energy and raw materials, provide social security and unemployment benefits, and maintain public order. (Dzintra Bungs) NO LATVIAN TRAVEL DOCUMENTS FOR ALKSNIS. First Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Andris Staris told Diena of 27 March that the ministry has received a request from the editor of the Moscow newspaper Nezavisimaya gazeta to provide Col. Viktor Alksnis with travel documents, since Alksnis has been invited to take part in an international conference in Paris on 22 April on developments in the East. Staris pointed out that Alksnis does not recognize the independent Republic of Latvia and belongs to the armed forces of a foreign country; the fact that Alksnis is registered as a resident of Latvia is not an adequate reason for Latvia to issue him with Latvian travel documents. (Dzintra Bungs) WALESA SEEKS GERMAN INVESTMENT FOR POLAND . . . Before leaving Warsaw on 29 March for a four-day official visit to Germany, President Lech Walesa said that he feels there is still not enough German investment in Poland. Interviewed by Zycie Warszawy on 27 March he acknowledged, however, that to attract foreign capital "we must put our own house in order." Walesa also reminded Poles who might still hold onto prejudices left over from World War II that "the Germany of today is democratic, liberal and modern." Poles must not keep looking to the past, "or else they will be unable to move forward," he noted. Arriving in Bonn, the Polish President told German television "it is time to close the last chapter which has divided Europe into East and West." Western and Polish wire services carried the story. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) . . . CALLS FOR "PARALLEL" ALLIANCES FOR FORMER EAST BLOC. Walesa called for former communist states of Eastern and Central Europe to join new alliances, which, he said, would run "parallel" to the EC and NATO. He made the comment to Italian President Francesco Cossiga, who stopped in Warsaw on 29 March en route to meetings in Moscow. Walesa told Cossiga that Eastern Europe "will never accept Russian domination," Western and Polish media report. He said the new parallel organizations he proposes could be created under EC auspices. Cossiga promised support for "the Polish way to a freemarket economy." (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) POLISH GOVERNMENT AGREES TO BROADEN COALITION. On 27 March the Polish minority government agreed to start formal talks with pro-reform parties on expanding the coalition. After meeting leaders of his center-right coalition, Prime Minister Jan Olszewski said he has been authorized to hold negotiations with all democratic parties. He specifically seeks the support of two influential parties, the Democratic Union and the Liberal Democrats, led by former prime ministers Tadeusz Mazowiecki and Jan Krzysztof Bielecki respectively. According to Western and Polish media, their backing would give the government a legislative majority in parliament. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) POLISH OFFICIALS EXPRESS CONCERN OVER ARMS ARRESTS. Polish officials have expressed concern over the arrest of seven Poles in Germany on charges of trying to sell arms illegally. On 28 March Gazeta wyborcza said the Polish embassy in Bonn protested the failure of German authorities to inform Warsaw of the arrests. According to the paper, Polish Consul Stanislaw Bijak called the case "a misunderstanding." Meanwhile, Foreign Ministry spokesman Grzegorz Dziemidowicz said the detained Poles have been provided with legal and consular aid. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) DUBCEK TO LEAD SLOVAK SOCIAL DEMOCRATS. Czechoslovak federal parliament Chairman Alexander Dubcek was elected chairman of the Slovak Social Democratic Party (SDSS) at the party's congress in Bratislava on 28 March. Dubcek joined the SDSS only two weeks ago. He told the congress that the basic goals of the SDSS program are a prosperous social-market economy oriented toward ecology, democratic rights, and freedoms for all citizens and a common state of Czechs and Slovaks based on equality. He said, "Our aim is a united Europe and a dignified place for Czechoslovakia in it." He also said that the SDSS is going into the June elections as a separate party but does not reject cooperation with other parties, CSTK reports. On 29 March a faction in the Christian Democratic Movement in Slovakia held a constituent congress. It established the Slovak Christian Democrats as a separate party, elected leader Jan Klepac Party Chairman and approved a platform that calls for the declaration of Slovak sovereignty. (Barbara Kroulik) HUNGARIAN-ISRAELI COOPERATION AGREEMENT. On 27 March in Budapest Hungarian and Israeli officials signed an interstate agreement on scientific and technological cooperation, MTI reports. The agreement provides for extensive cooperation between the two countries' scientists and universities in the fields of biotechnology, engineering, and mathematics. Lajos Nyiri, the deputy president of Hungary's Technical Development Committee, commented that the agreement serves as a "model" for similar agreements with other countries. (Edith Oltay) ROMAN SCORES VICTORY AT NSF CONVENTION. The NSF convention ended its work on 29 March. On the 28th NSF leader Petre Roman accused excommunists and the secret police of blocking progress and succeeded in postponing the selection of a candidate for the presidential elections. Hundreds of partisans of President Ion Iliescu walked out while Roman's supporters shouted "Down with communism!" About 64% of those delegates who remained voted to support Roman's reform program, and reelected him as leader with the new title of NSF president. The new statutes define the NSF as a party of the modern social-democratic type. Roman urged that presidential and legislative elections be held by June at the latest. (Mihai Sturdza) ROMANIAN LEADERS ABOUT THE CONFLICT IN MOLDOVA. On 28 March President Ion Iliescu met with Prime Minister Theodor Stolojan and several ministers to consider the crisis in Moldova. They expressed readiness to support Moldova in defending its territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence, and spoke in favor of a peaceful solution to the present crisis. The same day, NSF leader Petre Roman hinted that the key might be a land swap between Moldova and Ukraine. Alluding to Stalin's annexation of Romanian territories in 1940, Roman said that "the Dniester area was not part of Moldova in 1940, but at that time Moldova included some lands which are not part of it today." (Mihai Sturdza) BULGARIAN STRIKE UPDATE. The miners' strike that began on 26 March, involves some 40,000 miners, according to the Podkrepa strike committee, but this figure could not be confirmed by the government. Talks between the government and the strike committee resumed early on 30 March, Bulgarian Radio reports. From various publications and broadcasts, meanwhile, it is clear that the strikers are protesting the intended discontinuation of uranium and lead mining and are demanding payment of the wages due to them for the past several months and the resignation of Minister of Industry and Trade Ivan Pushkarov. Prime Minister Filip Dimitrov said on Bulgarian TV on 28 March that money for the back wages must be found, but he refused categorically to discuss Pushkarov's resignation. (Rada Nikolaev) BSP LEGITIMACY QUESTIONED. A Sofia regional court on 27 March found that the Bulgarian Communist Party was never registered as a legitimate legal entity, association, or party, BTA reports. The court action had been initiated by Yanko Yankov, leader of the Liberal Congress Party, who asked for invalidation of the 10 April 1990 court registration of the Bulgarian Socialist Party since it merely meant renaming the BCP, which was not registered. Yankov pointed out in Demokratsiya on 28 March that since it is not a legitimate party, the BSP can not avail itself of the protection of Bulgarian or international law. This will have special significance for the BSP when the expected law on decommunization is passed. (Rada Nikolaev) CEASE-FIRE IN BOSANSKI BROD. International media report that the Serbian-dominated federal army on one side and the Croatian and Muslim militias on the other agreed on a cease-fire for this embattled transportation hub on 28 March. A buffer zone has been set up through the middle of the town, and the truce appears to be holding. A number of Serbian civilians were apparently massacred in a nearby village on 27 March, but the circumstances of the incident are unclear. A Muslim member of the republic's governing Presidency subsequently repeated his call for UN peace-keepers to come to Bosnia-Herzegovina. Serbian, Croatian, and Muslim leaders meet on 30 March in Brussels again in a new round of talks on the republic's political future. Finally, on 27 March the federal army completed its evacuation of Macedonia. (Patrick Moore) AGREEMENT SIGNED BETWEEN TURKEY AND BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA. On 19 March in Ankara a visiting delegation headed by Deputy Prime Minister Muhamed Cengic signed a protocol aimed at boosting economic links. Prime Minister Suleiman Demirel as well as opposition politicians met with the guests from Bosnia-Herzegovina, whose population is about 43% Muslim, many of whom feel a particular attachment to Turkey. The Turkish authorities said they back the territorial integrity of the ethnically mixed republic and want good relations with all the former Yugoslav republics, including Serbia and Montenegro. Cengic also met with the Turkish defense minister and the two sides agreed to explore possibilities for cooperation in the military industry, with a Turkish delegation expected soon in Bosnia-Herzegovina to continue the talks. Oslobodjenje ran the story on 20 and 21 March. (Patrick Moore) US AMBASSADOR TO YUGOSLAVIA BACKS KOSOVO ALBANIANS. Media in the Yugoslav area and Western agencies on 29 March quoted US representative in Belgrade Warren Zimmermann as calling Kosovo "the biggest human rights problem in Europe." He described the scene there, where the Serbian authorities have virtually eliminated human and political rights for the 90%-plus Albanian majority, as a "typical colonial situation." Zimmermann said "time [is] on the Albanians' side, and I think they will get their freedom." (Patrick Moore)
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.