|The burnt child shuns the fire until the next day. - Mark Twain|
No. 63, 31 March 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR TENSION MOUNTS IN MOLDOVA AFTER CHISINAU'S ULTIMATUM TO REBELS. After the declaration of a state of emergency in Moldova on 29 March by President Mircea Snegur, both sides in the conflict have been calling on the other to back down but preparing for the worst, Western agencies reported. President Snegur warned on 30 March that his government will take "all the necessary measures" to restore its authority in the breakaway "Dniester Republic" and threatened to take back an offer to grant the region the status of a "free economic zone." The leader of the "Dniester Republic," Igor Smirnov, stated on the same day that his supporters would do everything possible to protect their region, including, as his spokeswoman Alina Dimkova told Reuters, turning part of the area's industry over to military production. There were also reports of more sporadic violence and a number of new casualties.(Bohdan Nahaylo) FOREIGN MINISTERS OF FOUR STATES TO MEET TO DISCUSS MOLDOVA CONFLICT. The Moldovan president's press service announced on 30 March that a meeting of the foreign ministers of Moldova, Ukraine, Russia, and Romania would take place in Chisinau on 31 March to discuss the conflict in the republic. (Bohdan Nahaylo) NAGORNO-KARABAKH CEASE-FIRE CRUMBLES. Armenia claimed on 30 March that 12 people had been killed overnight in an Azerbaijani offensive against the Nagorno-Karabakh capital of Stepanakert. Azerbaijani spokesmen denied this report and claimed that Armenians had violated the Iranian-brokered cease-fire with a rocket attack on the town of Shusha, ITAR-TASS reported. Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mahmoud Vaezi told acting Azerbaijani President Yakub Mamedov in Baku on 30 March that a mechanism is urgently needed to control observance of the cease-fire. A CSCE mission headed by Czechoslovak Foreign Minister Jiri Dienstbier departed on 30 March for Baku, Nagorno- Karabakh and Erevan. (Liz Fuller) GEORGIAN STANDOFF CONTINUES. The ruling Georgian State Council will take military action if necessary against supporters of ousted Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia following the expiration at midnight local time on 30 March of an ultimatum to surrender their arms and reopen blocked roads in western Georgia, Central TV reported. Gamsakhurdia supporters plan to mark his 53rd birthday today by converging on the town of Abasha and then marching to Kutaisi, which they intend to occupy and proclaim the capital of Georgia. In a television interview aired on 30 March Gamsakhurdia claimed that the majority of the Georgian population still supports him, and denounced Eduard Shevardnadze's return to Georgia as a neocommunist putsch organized by the Russian leadership and the troops of the Transcaucasus Military District. (Liz Fuller) RUSSIAN DEMOCRATS PROPOSE CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY. Moscow Mayor Gavriil Popov announced on 30 March that the Movement for Democratic Reforms believes a constituent assembly should be held to pass a new Russian constitution, ITAR- TASS reported. Popov, as chairman of the Movement, said the Russian Congress of People's Deputies, scheduled to convene on 6 April, "is not the kind of body which can discuss and pass the basic law." St. Petersburg Mayor Anatolii Sobchak, who supervised work on an alternative draft constitution, echoed Popov's sentiments. He argued that a constituent assembly offered the only way out of Russia's current constitutional crisis. The Congress is expected to consider a draft constitution supervised by the Russian Constitutional Drafting Committee, while Sobchak's alternative version has been prepared under the auspices of the Movement for Democratic Reforms. (Carla Thorson) CALLS FOR SOBCHAK'S RESIGNATION. The St. Petersburg City Council called for Mayor Anatolii Sobchak's resignation on 30 March, arguing that Sobchak has overstepped his constitutional authority, Reuters reported. The city council deputies voted to present Russian President Boris Yeltsin and the Russian Constitutional Court with a list of alleged unconstitutional dealings undertaken by Sobchak. The council's resolution included accusations against Sobchak of creating unauthorized executive structures and signing contracts which were not in the city's interest. The resolution also criticized Sobchak for drafting an alternative Russian constitution, arguing that the mayor had no right to oppose Russian national policy. (Carla Thorson) RUSSIAN REPUBLICS HOLD CLOSED CONFERENCE. Delegations from eighteen republics of the Russian Federation which are considering the signing of the Federal Treaty on 31 March gathered for a closed conference in Moscow on 30 March, Interfax reported. A delegation from Tatarstan, which was in Moscow to conclude a bilateral treaty with Russia, did not participate in the conference. Representatives of Chechnya did not attend the conference either. Interfax quoted Vice Chairman of the Council of Nationalities of the Russian parliament, Vitalii Syrovatko, as saying the discussion included signing a joint protocol in addition to the Federal Treaty. The protocol is expected to reflect points which, a number of republics believe, should be added to the treaty. (Vera Tolz) BASHKORTOSTAN WILL NOT SIGN FEDERAL TREATY; YAKUTIA DEMANDS AMENDMENTS. Interfax of 30 March quoted Bashkortostan parliamentary leader Murtaza Rakhimov as saying the republic will not sign the Federal Treaty. The Treaty, he said, does not solve the main issues on property, mineral resources, budget and economic policies. However, Rakhimov said Bashkortostan will not secede from the Russian Federation, but favors equitable relations with Russia within the framework of a bilateral agreement similar to the position of Tatarstan. In the same report, Yakutia's President Mikhail Nikolaev said that Yakut parliament has made changes in the draft treaty on provisions dealing with property, budget, and tax policy. If these amendments will be reflected in the final treaty, Yakutia will consider signing the document, Nikolaev said. (Charles Carlson) BASHKORTOSTAN DENIES PLANS FOR A CONFEDERATION. Bashkortostan parliamentary leader Murtaza Rakhimov has denied reports given by RIA on 28 March (see Daily Report for 30 March) that a group of Tatarstan deputies have proposed forming a "Volga-Ural" confederation between Tatarstan and Bashkortostan, according to an ITAR-TASS report of 30 March. Rakhimov, speaking to journalists after a meeting with Russian President Boris Yeltsin on Bashkortostan's rejection of the Federal Treaty, called the reports "disinformation." (Charles Carlson) RUSSIA TO SEEK SAFEGUARDS FOR RUSSIAN- SPEAKING MINORITIES. Russia has told the CSCE conference in Helsinki on 30 March that it is concerned about the situation of the Russian-speaking population in several parts of the former Soviet Union. The leader of the Russian delegation, E. Gussarov, told the session that Russia would insist that Russian-speaking minorities benefit from all the minority agreements in the CSCE process. According to the RFE/RL correspondent attending the conference, Gussarov did not specifically identify any country on the territory of the former USSR where the Russian-speaking population might face problems. (Vera Tolz) ILO FORECAST OF CIS UNEMPLOYMENT. In a study released on 30 March and carried by Western agencies and ITAR-TASS, the International Labor Organization forecasts that the number of unemployed will exceed 15 million in the Commonwealth of Independent States this year. The jobs of about 30 million more may be at risk or they may be kept on, albeit underemployed. The ILO estimates that over one quarter of those currently employed are surplus to requirements. The study is based on interviews with government officials in the CIS and visits to 500 factories there. (Keith Bush) ITALY GIVES RUSSIA 1990 CREDIT. During their talks on 30 March in Moscow, Boris Yeltsin and Italian President Francesco Cossiga announced that Russia has taken over the credits which Italy granted the Soviet Union for 1990. The credits, earmarked for food and industrial goods, were reformulated for Russia and are already in operation. Talks on what to do with Italy's 1991 credit for the USSR will begin after the Italian parliamentary elections in April, ITAR-TASS reported. (Suzanne Crow) NEW DEMANDS OVER TENGIZ PROJECT. Kazakhstan has set new conditions for the joint venture development of the Tengiz oil field, according to Interfax as quoted by Reuters on 30 March. Chevron Corporation has reportedly been told that its profit share would be cut to no more than 13%, while Kazakhstan's royalties would be more than doubled to a possible $25 billion. Kazakhstan would also demand increased payments for land use and would retain all excess profits from any higher oil prices. If Chevron rejects the new terms, other firms will be allowed to bid for exploration rights. The Tengiz venture has been under discussion for more than three years, and is seen by many as a touchstone for Western investment. (Keith Bush) TAX CONCESSIONS TO JOINT VENTURES? In the course of an article on the alleged buy-out of a Western partner in the "White Knights" joint oil venture, The Journal of Commerce on 26 March reported anticipated changes in Russian tax regulations. Many Western firms have expressed concern over the confusing and often punitive taxes levied on foreign investors. Indeed, Phibro Energy Inc., one of the partners in the "White Nights" venture, was reported to be sending home much of its expatriate staff and shutting down two drilling rigs because of the tax environment. The newspaper quotes trading sources in Moscow to the effect that joint ventures may soon be exempt from the export tax and instead be taxed at 18% across the board on their profits. (Keith Bush) RUSSIAN SUICIDE RATE UP? Addressing a conference in Moscow on Russia's future, Gennadii Osipov, the director of the Institute of Socio-Political Studies, said that one million Russians attempted suicide in 1991 and 60,000 of them succeeded, Interfax reported on 27 March. This latter figure was 50% higher than in 1990, according to Osipov and to Narkhoz 90. He also cited opinion surveys by his institute indicating that one in five Russians wanted to emigrate. The Times of 28 March, however, pointed out that the conference seemed to focus on despair and disaster and that Osipov's and others' revelations were plausible but hardly disinterested. (Keith Bush) NAZARBAEV PLEAS FOR WESTERN ASSISTANCE. In an interview with Time magazine of 6 April, Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbaev said the West must help the former Soviet republics become part of the world economy. Thousands of millions of dollars are needed to stabilize the ruble, and basic help is needed in carrying out privatization and denationalization, Nazarbaev said. Especially needed are credits and equipment as well as foreign investments in Kazakhstan's oil, gas, and precious metals resources, he noted. (Charles Carlson) SIDOROVA NAMED KOZYREV'S ADVISER. Galina Sidorova, whose outspoken and liberal commentaries on Soviet and Russian foreign policy have appeared in the weekly Novoe vremya for many years, was named an adviser to Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev on 26 March. Her title is adviser to the Russian foreign minister for political questions and representative of the minister for ties with the public and the press. (This is a new position in the Russian Foreign Ministry.) Sidorova told ITAR-TASS on 28 March that she does not believe that it is necessary to agree with Kozyrev on everything in order to fulfill her duties as his adviser. Indeed, Sidorova emphasized, she and Kozyrev have entirely different approaches which will lead to an "internal pluralism of opinion" and, hopefully, help Russia to arrive at the best policies. Sidorova will remain on the editorial board of Novoe vremya and does not intend to give up journalism. (Suzanne Crow) UKRAINIAN NATIONALISTS HOLD CONFERENCE IN KIEV. The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), which in the 1940s and early 1950s led the armed resistance to Soviet rule in Ukraine, was the co-organizer of an international conference on Ukrainian nationalism held last weekend in Kiev, Radio Ukraine reported on 30 March. The conference drew about 600 participants, including former veterans of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), and a number of deputies. The gathering was addressed by leader of the Bandera-faction of the OUN from Munich, Slava Stetsko. Among other things, the conference called for Ukraine to leave the CIS. (Bohdan Nahaylo) UKRAINE'S JEWS PLANNING FIRST CONGRESS. Radio Ukraine reported on 30 March that Ukraine's Jews are planning to hold their first congress later this year. The head of the organizing committee, Eli Levitas, said that Ukraine's Jewish community was very hopeful about the prospects for developing Jewish cultural life in independent Ukraine. Among plans which he said Ukraine's Jewish Cultural Society were working on with the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture are the reopening of a Jewish theatre, the creation of a state museum of Jewish culture and history, and a state ensemble of Jewish song and dance. (Bohdan Nahaylo) ARMENIAN CP RESUMES ACTIVITIES. On 30 March Radio Mayak, quoting the Armenian news agency Snark, reported that the Armenian Communist Party, which split last September into two separate groups, has resumed its activities, after a prolonged interval, with a Central Committee meeting to discuss organizational measures. The Party adopted an appeal to the Armenian people stressing its readiness to cooperate with all progressive forces. (Liz Fuller) UZBEKISTAN WILL NOT CREATE FRONTIER TROOPS. Alexander Bogdanov, Commander of the Central Asian Frontier District has said following talks with republican leaders in Tashkent on 27-28 March that Uzbekistan does not intend to create its own contingent of frontier troops, Interfax reported on 30 March. The decision was made after Uzbek President Islam Karimov had passed a decree on transferring frontier forces already located in the republic to the Frontier Troops Department of Uzbekistan's National Security Service. Bogdanov said frontier troops located in Uzbekistan would remain a part of CIS forces. (Charles Carlson) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE BALTIC-SWEDISH ENVIRONMENTAL ACCORD. On 30 March Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania signed an agreement to cooperate in most areas of environmental protection, including research and information exchange as well as sewage disposal and technology for storing nuclear waste. Western agencies also report that Sweden has allocated up to 40% of its development aid for Baltic and East European countries for environmental protection and cleanup projects. (Dzintra Bungs) RUSSIA: TROOPS OUT BY 2000. The Estonian government has rejected a proposal from Russia under which international observers would monitor the withdrawal of former Soviet troops until the year 2000. In an interview with Dagens Nyheter on 30 March, quoted by dpa, Prime Minister Tiit Vahi said his country cannot agree to the offer because Estonia wants the troops out by the end of this year. Vahi reportedly noted that of the 50,000 troops stationed in Estonia before independence was reinstated last August, half have already withdrawn. (Riina Kionka) ESTONIA BUYS ARMS FROM RUSSIA. Estonia will buy arms for its defense forces from Russia, according to Defense Forces Acting General Chief of Staff Ants Laaneots. Laaneots told BNS on 30 March that Estonia plans to buy 20 armored personnel carriers, pistols, grenades, ammunition, and automatic weapons with the 40 million rubles earmarked for defense. (Riina Kionka) RUUTEL TO GERMANY. Estonian Supreme Council Chairman Arnold Ruutel is due to open an Estonian culture festival in Karlsruhe on 2 April, ETA reports. During his visit to Germany, Ruutel is also set to meet with Federal President Richard von Weizsaecker, Bundestag Chairwoman Rita Suessmuth, and Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher. (Riina Kionka) FORMER SOVIET OFFICERS MAY STAY AS CIVILIANS IN LITHUANIA. Vytenis Aleskaitis, Lithuania's Minister of International Economic Relations, told a Baltic investment conference in Copenhagen on 30 March that officers of the former USSR armed forces stationed in Lithuania could stay as civilians in that country, Reuters reports. He said this might help get the estimated 43,000 ex-Soviet troops out of Lithuania. He added that up to 50% of the officers in some units are willing to join the Lithuanian army or stay in Lithuania as civilians, but he did not explain how he had obtained that information. (Dzintra Bungs) ATMODA TO STOP PUBLICATION TEMPORARILY? Radio Riga reported on 30 March that the last issue of Atmoda, a weekly newspaper published under the auspices of the People's Front of Latvia since October 1988, is to appear on 31 March. Publication will cease because registration with the Latvian authorities has expired and the PFL board has not renewed it. Editor Elita Veidemane said that the newspaper may reappear in the near future as an independent weekly. (Dzintra Bungs) WALESA: FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY NEED ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. On 30 March Polish President Lech Walesa urged a revival of trade links among former Comecon countries as well as between Poland and Germany. Speaking to the Bundestag's Foreign Affairs Committee in Bonn, he warned of great dangers from a new division in Europe because of differing standards of living. He said freedom and democracy need economic development and people require a feeling of security, lest they lose confidence in democracy and seek easier solutions. All dictatorships have resulted from crises, he noted. Walesa also said that German-Polish ties should become a model of peaceful cooperation, expressing hope that that will happen. Earlier, he told German President Richard von Weizsaecker that Poland, with a united Germany on one side and the CIS on the other, considers itself a bridge- builder between East and West. Von Weizsaecker repeated Bonn's support for eventual Polish entry to the EC, saying it is in Germany's vital interest in the long term. He also told Walesa that Germany's goal is a European union with Poland playing a central role, an RFE/RL correspondent reports. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) WARSAW: NO GROUNDS TO EXTRADITE ARMS SUSPECTS. On 30 March Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman Wladyslaw Klaczynski said the US has no grounds to extradite from Germany six Poles detained on charges of selling weapons to Iraq illegally. In response to a Los Angeles Times report claiming that the US would seek extradition, Klaczynski told PAP there would have to be proof that US law had been broken. If any crime had been committed, he said, it would be a violation of the UN resolution banning the sale of arms to Iraq. Six Polish suspects were arrested on 10 March in Frankfurt; a seventh holds dual Polish-American citizenship. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) POLISH DEPUTIES CALL FOR REFERENDUM ON ABORTION. On 30 March Polish deputies supporting the right to abortion submitted bills that would keep the procedure legal or else decide the issue through a binding national referendum to determine under what conditions the citizens favor permitting abortion. Barbara Labuda, the leader of the Sejm's women's caucus, said she is not optimistic about prospects for keeping abortion legal. She added, however, that the call for a referendum had a better chance of passage in the Sejm, Western media report. The bills, signed by 91 deputies, respond to antiabortion legislation introduced on 27 March and signed by 171 members of the 460-seat Sejm. The bills provide for legalizing abortion and call upon the government to provide sex education and ensure availability of contraceptives. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) MECIAR DENIES COLLABORATION CHARGES. Former Slovak premier Vladimir Meciar on 30 March for the first time personally denied charges he collaborated with the former communist secret police. He told reporters, "If I came into contact with STB, then it was not because I visited them but because they were interested in me." He said that the charges were aimed at destroying his party's political credibility. The Slovak parliament last week voted to approve the report by its investigating committee, which said Meciar had been a collaborator and later, in the postcommunist period, abused his positions by destroying evidence. Meciar had previously denied the allegations through a spokesman. (Barbara Kroulik) CZECHOSLOVAKIA, POLAND, HUNGARY UNHAPPY WITH PROGRESS IN NATO TIES. Ambassadors to NATO from Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Hungary, meeting in Brussels on 30 March, said that progress toward establishing closer ties with the alliance has been too slow. Czechoslovakia's ambassador, Karel Lukas, later told reporters that all three agreed that NATO should step up efforts to establish a "privileged" military relationship with these former Warsaw Pact countries. All three seek closer military cooperation with NATO and see their participation in the new North Atlantic Cooperation Council as only one step on the road to membership in NATO. (Barbara Kroulik) CZECHOSLOVAKIA HAS NO CLAIMS ON SUBCARPATHIAN RUS. Czechoslovak Prime Minister Marian Calfa says his country does not want to change its border with Subcarpathian Rus (Transcarpathia) and the government respects all international conventions that borders can only be changed by peaceful means. CSTK reports that in his interview with Ukrainian TV, Calfa was reacting to calls in Czechoslovakia for a referendum in the region on reintegration into Czechoslovakia. Subcarpathian Rus came under Czechoslovak administration in 1919. In 1945 the Czechoslovak parliament approved a treaty ceding the region to the USSR; it is now part of Ukraine. Calfa also said Ukraine will have to liberalize its economic relations if it is interested in economic cooperation with Czechoslovakia. (Barbara Kroulik) NEMETH ON EUROPEAN BANK FOR RECONSTRUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT. On 31 March in Budapest EBRD vice president and former Hungarian prime minister Miklos Nemeth commented on the EBRD's first annual report that in 1991 the bank approved projects representing 621 million ecus, which brought 2.1 billion ecus in total investments after allowance for cofinancing contributed by several partners. Nemeth said that the bank closed its first year with slight losses but planned to double its capital of 591 million ecus this year. He called the bank "the Marshall Plan" for the region and sees as its political mission the promotion of democracy through financial means. MTI and Radio Budapest reported Nemeth's remarks. (Edith Oltay) NEW CRACKS IN THE NSF. Romanian and foreign media report on 30 March that Petre Roman's victory at the latest NSF convention has not solved the conflict between himself and those he described as President Ion Iliescu's communist supporters. Reformist National Bank Governor Mugur Isarescu turned up as a alternative candidate to Roman, although he had always claimed he was not affiliated with the NSF, and senator Vasile Vacaru resigned as leader of the NSF group in parliament. Nine senators left the NSF, while another went over to the neocommunist Socialist Party of Labor. Speculation is continuing about the creation of one or more new parties out of NSF factions. (Mihai Sturdza) OPPOSITION LEADERS INVITED TO GERMANY. German Ambassador to Romania Klaus Terfloth said on 30 March that the leaders of the opposition parties comprising the Democratic Convention have been invited to Germany. They will meet German politicians and have a closer look at the functioning of a Western democracy. According to Romanian media, Terfloth added that there is no question of forging political alliances or to map out bilateral political strategies. (Mihai Sturdza) BULGARIAN STRIKE SITUATION. No progress was made in talks between the government and the miners' strike committee of the Podkrepa labor confederation that resumed early on 30 March. Demokratsiya on 31 March said the government had expressed readiness to fulfill the miners' demands, but the miners' refusal to sign an agreement indicated that their strike had political motives. BTA said that early on 31 March the strike committee had given green light for an escalation of the strike, allowing miners to go on a hunger strike and permitting their wives to go down into the mines, making good on earlier threats. On 30 March BTA reported that coal miners of Maritsa Iztok had announced they would join the strike. Solidarity had also been expressed by the Podkrepa organizations in trade and light industry. (Rada Nikolaev) NEW BULGARIAN PARTIES. A faction of the Bulgarian Agrarian National Union (BANU) within the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) held a national conference on 29 March. The meeting was called a constituent congress of a new agrarian party to be known as BANU-Nikola Petkov-UDF. Georgi Petrov, leader of the faction and the new party, took the initiative after it became clear that the mainstream BANU-Nikola Petkov was willing to cooperate with the UDF but would not join it. The daily press said the new party claims a membership of 39,950. The same day the Bulgarian Social Democratic Party, headed by Ivan Kurtev, which had remained in the UDF, changed its name to the Social-Democratic Party in order to distance itself from the Petar Dertliev's BSDP, which has left the UDF. (Rada Nikolaev) BULGARIAN BLUE HELMETS FOR CAMBODIA. The Bulgarian government has agreed to participate in the UN peacekeeping force in Cambodia, Podkrepa reported on 27 March. If parliament approved, Bulgaria will send a reinforced infantry battalion of 850 men, 16 military observers, and 75 police. BTA said the Ministry of the Interior acted immediately to begin recruiting 75 police volunteers. (Rada Nikolaev) [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.