|The person who knows how to laugh at himself will never cease to be amused. - Shirley MacLaine|
No. 65, 02 April 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR RUSSIA TO STREAMLINE ARMY. The Russian republic will significantly reduce existing former Soviet forces over the next few years and build a military organization that emphasizes highly mobile professional forces and a defensive doctrine. The proposal was outlined by Colonel General Pavel Grachev, First Deputy Commander in Chief of the CIS armed forces and a top defense official in the emerging Russian defense establishment, in a Krasnaya zvezda interview on 1 April and in conversations with American and NATO defense officials in Brussels reported by Western agencies on 2 April. Grachev said that Russian forces would number between 1.2 and 1.3 million men, that tank components would be reduced, and that the army would be relieved of economic tasks. He also stressed that the plan was only a proposal and failed to delineate the exact boundary between CIS and future Russian forces. (Stephen Foye) FOURTEENTH ARMY UNDER RUSSIAN CONTROL? Boris Yeltsin signed a decree on 1 April that placed the Fourteenth Army and several other units deployed in Moldova under Russian jurisdiction, according to an ITAR-TASS report of that day. The report said all troops in Moldova had been subordinated to the CIS Commander-in-Chief and that Colonel General Vladimir Semenov, commander of CIS Ground Forces, was named Russian representative of all Russian troops in the republic. The report is confusing insofar as the CIS command structure remains formally separate from the Russian. A Moldovan Deputy Defense Minister immediately labelled the decree illegal, stressing that all forces in Moldova except for those on the left bank of the Dniester have been put under the legal jurisdiction of Moldova. (Stephen Foye) "RUSSIA WILL PROTECT RIGHTS OF RUSSIANS." Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev was quoted by ITAR-TASS on 1 April as saying that Russia "will be protecting the rights of Russians in other states of the [CIS]. This is top priority. We shall be protecting their rights firmly and will be using powerful methods if needed." Kozyrev made this statement in an interview with Nezavisimaya gazeta published on 1 April. (Suzanne Crow) FIGHTING CONTINUES IN "DNIESTER REPUBLIC." Special units of the Moldovan MVD attacked the city of Bendery on 1 April leaving at least ten people dead, CIS and Western news agencies reported. The attack is described as one of the heaviest onslaughts on the breakaway Dniester Republic during the last month. In the meantime, the two-day talks among representatives of the foreign ministries of Moldova, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine appear to have achieved little in the way of resolving the conflict. Another meeting may be scheduled later this month. (Roman Solchanyk) CHEMICAL WEAPONS STOCKS IN UDMURTIA. The Udmurt Supreme Council is discussing how to liquidate stocks of lewisite, a poison gas, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 April. The report says 7,000 tons of lewisite have been stored in the town of Kambarka for over 40 years, and are part of the former USSR's admitted stocks of toxic weapons, said to total 40,000 tons. All the stocks are said to be in Russia. An agreement of 1 June 1990 between the US and Soviet presidents committed both countries to beginning the liquidation of chemical weapons stocks before the end of 1992. Izvestiya of 21 October 1991 drew attention to the lack of any preparation on the Soviet (as it then was) side. Udmurtia has a very high concentration of military industry. (Philip Hanson) MORE AIR FORCE BOMBERS FLEE UKRAINE. An official of the Carpathian Military District has charged that six strategic bombers recently were "illegally" transferred from Ukraine to Belarus. Radio Ukraine reported on 1 April that the district's military procurator claimed that the aircraft left a long-range aviation regiment base at Stryi on 6 February, ostensibly for combat training at Bobruysk, in Belarus. They were due back on 21 February, but have yet to return. While the official did not identify the aircraft, the bases at both Stryi and Bobruysk are subordinate to the 46th Smolensk Air Army, which is made up of Tu-16 'Badger,' Tu-22 'Blinder,' and Tu- 22M 'Backfire' bombers. (Doug Clarke) TOP BRASS ACCUSED OF ILLEGAL SALES. Komsomolskaya pravda reported on 1 April that an investigation carried out by the CIS central command has implicated numerous senior commanders in illegal scams to sell off military assets to private companies for their own financial gain. General Leonid Ivashov, head of the armed forces Internal Affairs Department and author of the charges, reportedly turned his findings over to CIS Commander in Chief Evgenii Shaposhnikov on 26 February. As summarized by AFP on 1 April, the report accused officers of taking advantage of legal loopholes to "privatize" state property in their names. (Stephen Foye) RUSSIAN ARMY DAY? Leading officials from the Shchit military organization told ITAR-TASS on 1 April that public organizations would be holding an unofficial army day on 5 April. According to the report, the date recalls a Russian military victory over the Teutonic knights on Lake Peipus 750 years ago. Vitalii Urazhtsev, a founder of Shchit, told ITAR- TASS that the new army day could replace the former Soviet armed forces day, held on 23 February. (Stephen Foye) CONFRONTATION LOOMS BETWEEN YELTSIN AND CONGRESS. Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Deputy Prime Minister Gennadii Burbulis, on 1 April, again rejected calls for the government to resign at the upcoming Congress of People's Deputies, ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin told reporters that this government should not be "thrown to the wolves." The Congress, which convenes on 6 April, is expected to be a political showdown over the government's economic reforms and over the draft constitution which reduces the powers of the legislature and increases presidential authority. An alternative draft has already been prepared under the auspices of the Movement for Democratic reforms, while Nezavisimaya gazeta of 1 April reported that Yeltsin and his advisors are preparing their own "counterstrike" and a yet another alternative "presidential draft constitution" to be put to a national referendum, if the Congress refuses to ratify the proposed constitution. (Carla horson) LIGACHEV SEEKS COMEBACK. Former Politburo member Egor Ligachev said at a meeting with steel workers in St. Petersburg that he is prepared to lead a patriotic movement for the reestablishment of the former USSR. According to Radio Rossii on 1 April, Ligachev predicted that the Yeltsin leadership will soon fall, and therefore preparations for the recreation of the USSR should begin soon. He stressed the need to abandon market reforms and reinstall the planned economy. Ligachev denounced ex-Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev as a "rightist revisionist" and said that in reality he- -Ligachev--and not Gorbachev had been the initiator of reform in 1985. (Alexander Rahr) INITIAL RUSSIAN REACTION TO WESTERN AID PACKAGE. The CIS wire services reported the US and German announcements of the aid package promptly. On Central Television, it did not feature among the lead stories, and the commentary contained qualified approval. Russian officials contacted by Western agencies expressed their appreciation but hoped that the US would be able to deliver, while stressing that Russia must be able to help itself. (Keith Bush) DELAY REQUESTED IN FUEL PRICE RISE? According to "Vesti" program on 1 April, the heads of government of Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Uzbekistan, and Ukraine will submit a joint declaration to Russia on 2 April requesting that the prices of energy carriers not be raised until 1 October. The prompt raising of energy prices to a level approaching world prices is one of the IMF's principal recommendations for any reform of the Russian economy. Russian President Boris Yeltsin has already agreed to postpone the first stage of adjustment of energy prices from 20 April until late May or early June. (Keith Bush) GERMAN CREDIT GUARANTEES FOR CIS. The German government has extended credit guarantees to Belarus and Ukraine but not to Russia for the time being, RFE/RL's Bonn correspondent reported on 1 April. Both Belarus and Ukraine had provided the customary government guarantees and were therefore entitled to draw on the DM 5 billion total credit made available by Bonn for all CIS members in January. The Russian government has not yet provided the necessary guarantee. A German government statement expressed the hope that Russia will soon resolve the guarantee problem. (Michael Wall and Keith Bush) DE BEERS OBTAINS RIGHTS TO SELL DIAMONDS FROM YAKUTIA. ITAR-TASS of 1 April reported that Nicholas Oppenheimer, deputy chairman of the firm De Beers Cententary, the South African trust that holds the world monopoly in diamonds, signed a sales agreement with the President of Yakutia, Mikhail Nikolaev, according to which the De Beers' Central Sales Organization would be given the right to market all Yakutia's gem diamond production. Yakutia produces 99.8% of the diamonds produced in the Russian Federation and under terms of a recent decree has the right to sell 10% of its production indepen-dently. (Charles Carlson) STANKEVICH ON RUSSIAN FOREIGN POLICY. Sergei Stankevich, rumored to be in the running for the post of Russian Federation foreign minister, offered his philosophy on what Russian foreign policy should consist of in a commentary published in Nezavisimaya gazeta (28 March). Among other things, Stankevich suggested that Russia may become too preoccupied in signing agreements with the CIS states to the exclusion of achieving a basic foundation in its relations with these states. He expressed great concern about the fate of ethnic Russians and Russian speakers in non- Russian republics, stressing that Russia's interest in these people does not constitute interference in another state's internal affairs. (Suzanne Crow) CRIMEA TO EXAMINE AGREEMENT WITH KIEV. The Supreme Council of the Crimean Republic opened its session on 1 April, Radio Ukraine reported. The main item on the agenda is the agreement recently reached between Kiev and the Crimean authorities regarding delineation of power between Ukraine and the Crimean Republic, which takes the form of a draft Ukrainian law that is to be approved by both sides before enactment. The agreement will eventually be incorporated into the new Ukrainian constitution. (Roman Solchanyk) UKRAINIAN ECONOMIC REFORM. At a press conference on 1 April, state counselor Oleksandr Yemelyanov explained that the new economic reform program proposed by Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk is meant to free Ukraine from its economic dependency on Russia, Radio Ukraine reported. This does not mean, he asserted that Ukraine wants to exacerbate relations with Russia or prepare the groundwork for leaving the CIS. Economic ties with the CIS states will be maintained, said Yemelyanov, who is the author of the new economic reform. (Roman Solchanyk) CONFRONTATION CONTINUES IN TAJIKISTAN. According to Interfax of 1 April, protests demanding that the Tajik Parliament be disbanded, a new Constitution be immediately adopted, elections be held for a permanent Parliament, and persecution be ended against political dissidents are still continuing in Dushanbe. However, Tajik Vice President Narzully Dustov issued a statement to the Tajikistan press claiming the absence of a mechanism in the republican laws that would permit either the president or another authoritative body to disband Parliament. Leaders of Tajikistan's political opposition, including the Islamic Revival Party, the Democratic Party and Rastokhez are dissatisfied with the progress of talks with Tajik President Rakhom Nabiev. At a press conference leaders of these movements stated that the government had turned a deaf ear on the protestors and rejected accusations that opposition leaders were not willing to hold talks. (Charles Carlson) TURKEY LAUNCHES TV BROADCASTS TO TURKIC-SPEAKING REPUBLICS. Reuters of 1 April reported that Turkey began testing a new television channel to the Turkic-speaking republics of the former Soviet Union, using earth stations in Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan that receive signals from Turkey via a satellite above the Indian Ocean. Sedat Orsel, Deputy Head of Turkish State Television (TRT) is quoted as saying "we'll be Central Asia's window to the world." TRT plans 69 hours of Turkish-language news and entertainment a week as well as late-night Turkish broadcasts from Europe which last until five in the morning, Orsel said. (Charles Carlson) BISHOPS MEET IN MOSCOW. ITAR-TASS reported on 31 March that a bishops' "sobor" opened that day in the Danilov monastery in Moscow. [A bishops' sobor is held at least once every two years, and has the authority to make changes in church policy.] On the agenda are questions of canonization of "new martyrs" (believers killed by the Communist authorities), especially of Metropolitan of Kiev Vladimir, Metropolitan Veniamin of Petrograd, and the Grand Duchess Elisaveta; and also the appeal of bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to Patriarch Aleksii II to grant this Church "full canonical independence." (Oxana Antic) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE HAVEL GETS FILES ON 1968. Czechoslovak President Vaclav Havel and Russian President Boris Yeltsin signed a treaty of friendship and cooperation in the Kremlin on 1 April. It is the first bilateral accord between the two countries. The preamble of the treaty was changed prior to the signing to include a strong condemnation of the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia and of the 20-year presence by Soviet troops. Later Yeltsin handed Havel files containing KGB and CPSU archive materials on the invasion, calling it a crucial step in the development of relations. Havel also met former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, CSTK and Western agencies report. (Barbara Kroulik) SLOVAK INDEPENDENCE MOVES. Another effort in the Slovak parliament to declare the republic's sovereignty failed in a vote on 1 April. The parliament in Bratislava lacked a quorum after several deputies walked out, but the body voted to continue seeking a constitutional resolution on the future of the union. Earlier the same day in Vienna, Slovak politician Vladimir Meciar predicted that Slovakia will declare sovereignty after the June elections and will achieve it by the end of 1992. In another development the Slovak branch of the Czechoslovak news agency CSTK became officially independent on 1 April. It will be known by the initials TKSR, Western agencies and CSTK report. (Barbara Kroulik) WALESA IN MUNICH, BERLIN. On 1 April Polish President Lech Walesa visited the site of the former concentration camp at Dachau, where he laid a wreath in memory of the 10,000 Poles who died there, Western media report. Later, Walesa had lunch with Bavarian Minister President Max Streibl. The Polish President said he considered the relationship established at the meeting as a bridge that "links Poland and Bavaria and shapes the path to the future." He also said the US-sponsored Munich radio station RFE/RL and its Polish Section, banned for many years, became a symbol of independence and credibility in Poland. Concluding his Bavarian visit, Walesa traveled to Berlin for talks with mayor Eberhard Diepgen, Brandenburg State Prime Minister Manfred Stolpe, and other officials. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) POLAND SEEKS SPECIAL RELATIONS WITH WEU. On 1 April Foreign Minister Krzysztof Skubiszewski said Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary would like to have a special relationship with the West European Union defense group. He told a WEU meeting in Berlin that the East European countries want to make a greater contribution to European security. WEU Secretary General Willem van Eekelen said that Western security institutions are "very slow" in responding effectively to the changed strategic situation in Europe and the increasing number of European security groupings is making it more difficult to create a "rational pan-European security architecture," he noted. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) HUNGARY CALLS FOR MORE REGIONAL COOPERATION. On 1 April Hungarian Ambassador Istvan Gyarmati told the CSCE conference in Helsinki that more regional cooperation could help defuse some European problems, an RFE/RL correspondent reports. He said that the practical benefits of such cooperation would include an increase in trade, greater exchange of experience in managing local and regional affairs, and development of common cultural projects. Gyarmati sees this as a way to "corner the ghosts of aggressive nationalism" and reiterated his government's interest in settling conflicts before they turn into hostilities. (Edith Oltay) ROMANIAN AUTHORITIES ON THE CONFLICT IN MOLDOVA. A short communique from the Romanian Defense Ministry on 1 April rejects recent speculation in both the Russian and Romanian media about the involvement of Romania's military forces in the conflict in Moldova. The note reiterated the defensive nature of the country's military position and promised to keep the population informed about any planned maneuvers. Patriarch Teoctist, the head of Romania's Orthodox Church, called on the Patriarch of Moscow and on the Metropolitan of Kiev to pray for a peaceful solution of the conflict in Moldova. (Mihai Sturdza) LORD CARRINGTON NOTES PROGRESS IN BRUSSELS TALKS. The EC's chief negotiator told the BBC on 1 April that "substantial progress" has been made in discussions between the leaders of the six ex-Yugoslav republics. He gave no details, but Western media suggest that the six are about to drop various mutual trade restrictions imposed during the past year. Also in Brussels, the Portuguese foreign minister met with his Greek counterpart to try to convince Athens to drop its objections to recognizing Macedonia. Some media reports say that the Greeks are yielding, while other accounts claim that they are not. In Macedonia itself, some 40,000 Albanians demonstrated in Skopje on 31 March for political and territorial autonomy and for a fair share of government jobs. Vjesnik of 30 March and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of 2 April reported the story. (Patrick Moore) FIGHTING CONTINUES IN CROATIA AND BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA. Austrian TV said on 1 April that six people had died "on the Croatian-Serbian front" in the previous 24 hours. It also noted that Zagreb airport reopened to civilian air traffic when an Aeroflot plane arrived on 1 April from Moscow via Budapest, but added that a federal jet fighter overflew the Croatian capital that same day. The Austrian broadcast reported from Sarajevo that Serbs in Bosnia- Herzegovina's police force were leaving that body to form their own purely Serbian units, which declared themselves in control over self-proclaimed autonomous Serbian areas. The commentator noted that this parallels the actions of ethnic Serbian police in Croatia a year ago at the start of the crisis in that republic. At EC-sponsored talks, representatives of Bosnia-Herzegovina's three main ethnic groups agreed to a cease-fire, but violations were reported almost immediately. (Patrick Moore) ALBANIA TO USE SCUDS TO DEFEND KOSOVO? Albanian army Col. Luturak Germenji, who is also the editor of a military journal, told Nedjeljna Dalmacija on 26 March that Tirana wants a political solution to the Kosovo question. He added, however, that "Albania will not look on passively if Serbia begins a large massacre of Kosovo Albanians." The colonel claimed that Albania has "enough weapons (planes, tanks, 'Scuds,' guns, and munitions) to defend our brothers from Kosovo. We will mobilize all Albanians wherever they may be, including Kosovo Albanians fit for fighting." He reminded his Croatian readers that "Germans aren't the Croats' only allies," and called for an "alliance of Croatia, Slovenia, Albania, and Hungary" against "great-Serbian expansionism." Germenji expressed sympathy for the Albanians in Macedonia, but added "we have nothing against the Macedonians and Macedonia." He concluded by indicating some doubts about the UN peace-keeping operation, suggestion that it ultimately serves Serbian interests. (Patrick Moore) ESTONIA APPEALS TO NATO. Estonia has asked NATO and the North Atlantic Cooperation Council to help secure its border and stop arms and narcotics smuggling, according to an RFE/RL interview on 1 April. At the meeting in Brussels of defense ministers from NATO and Eastern European states, Estonian representative Clyde Kull said there have been at least two attempts to use the port of Tallinn as a transit point for weapons sales from former Soviet military stores. One shipment of 15,000 Makarov-type pistols was intended for the UK via Helsinki, Kull said, while a truckload of light arms and antitank missiles was bound for Nagorno-Karabakh. Kull did not rule out that the UK-bound pistols were intended for the Irish Republican Army, adding that British officials were unable to determine where the weapons were supposed to go. (Riina Kionka) UK CONCERNED ABOUT WEAPONS TRADE. British Defense Secretary Tom Kind said he is "keenly interested" in Estonia's appeal for help in controlling its borders. King told Western agencies on 1 April that the breakup of the Soviet Union has led to "enormous quantities of surplus arms" in the region, and that the republics of the former USSR need proper controls on arms sales. King added that the risk that guns will fall into the hand of terrorists is "very significant." (Riina Kionka) SWEDEN BANS ARMS SALES TO BALTIC. Swedish war equipment inspector Sven Hirdman said on 1 April that the Baltic States will not be allowed to buy Swedish arms. The Swedish TT agency quotes Hirdman as saying that such arms sales would contradict Sweden's policy of not selling weapons to countries that are either in conflict or risk entering into a conflict. He said "the Baltics are in a complicated position, they are vulnerable, there are large Slavic minorities, and the border questions are not yet resolved." Russia also falls under Sweden's arms sales ban. (Riina Kionka) WARSAW PROPOSES TOUGHER ARMS CONTROLS. On 1 April Foreign Trade Minister Adam Glapinski told a news conference in Warsaw that he is proposing a bill to give his office better control over Poland's 47 arms exporters. According to Western and Polish media, the legislation would precisely define what weapons may be exported to which countries and oblige officials to scrutinize applications for arms export licences. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) LITHUANIAN GUN SALES BOOMING. Weapons sales in Lithuania are brisk, according to BNS of 31 March. Last year, the Lithuanian government decided to allow citizens to own smooth-barreled hunting rifles, gas pistols, and Mace, and authorized ten stores to sell the goods. In the past two months over 500 gas and noise pistols have been sold. BNS reports that requests for weapons sales authorization are pending for nearly 100 other stores in Lithuania. (Riina Kionka) AGREEMENTS ON ENDING BULGARIAN MINERS' STRIKE. The strike of Bulgarian ore miners ended late on 1 April after an agreement was signed between the government and the strike committee of the Podkrepa Federation of Miners, BTA reports. A symbolic strike will continue until all problems are settled. Back wages will be paid by 8 April and a working group will provide recommendations within two weeks on the future of ore and uranium mining. A compromise on the demand that Minister of Industry Ivan Pushkarov resign was reached by giving the prime minister control over all institutions and persons connected with the mining industry. The government also signed a similar agreement with the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions, which had not been directly involved in the strikes. (Rada Nikolaev) NEW HEAD OF BULGARIAN TV. On 1 April the National Assembly elected Asen Agov as head of Bulgarian Television, BTA reports. The post has been vacant since Ognyan Saparev was dismissed on 6 November 1991. The parliamentary commission on TV and radio considered at least eight candidates, of which Agov, head of the news department of Bulgarian TV and highly popular TV journalist, had been considered the most likely. (Rada Nikolaev) PRINCIPAL DAILY IN LATVIA TO PRIVATIZE. On 1 April the Latvian Supreme Council acceded to the request of the staff of Diena to privatize. The newspaper was formed in November 1990 with the financial backing of the Supreme Council and the government of Latvia to carry all "official" news in Latvia. Arvils Aseradens, commercial director of Diena, told Radio Riga on 1 April that the idea that Diena would be privatized was present from the outset. He said that next week Diena intends to start publishing a weekly business newspaper and next year it aims to start a news magazine. (Dzintra Bungs) COMMISSION TO INVESTIGATE CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY IN LATVIA. Radio Riga reported on 31 March that the Supreme Council decided on the creation of a 19-member commission to investigate the crimes against humanity committed during the Soviet and Nazi German rule of Latvia. Headed by deputies Peteris Lazda and Odisejs Kostanda, and Edmunds Bumanis, chairman of the Association of the Politically Repressed, the commission is to submit plans for a documentation center by 15 April. Initially the work will be done without pay by volunteers, but it is expected that next fall the Supreme Council will allocate funds as the work of the commission expands. (Dzintra Bungs) CZECHS TO INTRODUCE NEW ABORTION LAWS. On 31 March the Czech government submitted a bill to parliament aimed at making it harder for women to obtain an abortion. The bill would be the first in central Europe to overturn liberal communist legislation on abortions. According to The Daily Telegraph even though it will introduce high fees for most abortion procedures, it will still be one of the most liberal among central Europe's planned new abortion laws. Slovakia is likely to propose a harsher bill. Meanwhile, Pope John Paul on 1 April greeted a group of Czech pilgrims with a denunciation of abortion. (Barbara Kroulik) [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. 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