|The burnt child shuns the fire until the next day. - Mark Twain|
No. 69, 08 April 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR YELTSIN DEFENDS REFORM. In his speech to the Russian Congress of People's Deputies, broadcast by Russian TV on 7 April, President Boris Yeltsin projected optimism that by 1993 the economic hardship would be softened. He defended his reform program and blamed the former USSR government leaders Nikolai Ryzhkov and Valentin Pavlov for the collapse of the economy. Yeltsin admitted that his government had made mistakes and promised that the policy of privatization will be corrected. He said that reforms need a broader social base in the population. Yeltsin also stressed the need for further cuts in military spending and made some critical remarks about the work of the foreign ministry. (Alexander Rahr) DETAILS ON ECONOMIC REFORMS. Yeltsin released fresh data on economic activity and proposed new measures. He announced that an upswing had occurred in foreign trade, with exports rising from $2.2 billion in January to $5 billion in March, while the fall in imports had halted. He promised the simplification of, and reduction in, tax rates. Confirming Gaidar's announcement that the credit squeeze would be relaxed, Yeltsin said that up to 50 billion rubles of extra credit will be allocated in April to industry and 70 billion rubles for investment purposes. Priority will be given to technological development, to consumer goods, and to agriculture. (Keith Bush) ON PRIVATIZATION AND MEDICAL CARE. Yeltsin admitted that "nomenklatura privatization" had not yet been halted. He announced the opening of personal privatization accounts, whereby "every citizen of Russia should receive his own personal privatization payment no later than the fourth quarter of this year. We need millions of owners and not hundreds of millionaires." A small-scale subsidiary, private economy will be encouraged: "millions of small- and medium-sized enterprises will become effective tools in the anti-monopoly policies." To boost the system of medical care, Yeltsin promised that more proceeds from privatization will be allocated to health services, while confirming that private health insurance is being readied. (Keith Bush) YELTSIN ON RUSSIAN ARMY. Yeltsin told delegates that Russia would remain a great power, but that positive changes in the international environment allowed the country to cut military spending. He said that he had created a state commission under the direction of Colonel General Dmitrii Volkogonov to begin the establishment of a Russian army. He also said that the future Russian Defense Ministry would gradually shift to civilian contract services. (Stephen Foye) SHAPOSHNIKOV ADDRESSES CONGRESS. In what was a surprisingly hard-line speech, CIS Commander in Chief Evgenii Shaposhnikov told delegates on 7 April that he was first and foremost a Russian citizen and that the existence of a powerful Russian army would largely determine the country's influence in the world. Shaposhnikov also criticized the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for not protecting Russian interests and had harsh words for Baltic leaders who are trying to end the presence of former Soviet armed forces there. He also criticized the "arbitrary privatization" of military property, called for a more even distribution of the defense burden among CIS states, and urged that military men not be allowed to serve in the various legislatures. (Stephen Foye) YELTSIN DECREE ON BLACK SEA FLEET. The three-month-old dispute between Kiev and Moscow over ownership of the Black Sea Fleet took a sharp turn for the worse on 7 April, when President Boris Yeltsin issued a decree asserting Russian Federation jurisdiction over the disputed fleet. Shaposhnikov read the text of the decree before the Russian Congress of People's Deputies, stating that the move was a direct response to President Leonid Kravchuk's decree of 6 April, asserting Ukrainian control of the fleet and other former Soviet military assets (an action that itself was prompted by recent statements by Russian officials, in particular Vice-President Aleksandr Rutskoi, concerning the fleet and fate of Crimea). As summarized by ITAR-TASS and other agencies, the Yeltsin decree left room for compromise in that it instructs Russia's defense and foreign affairs ministries to hold negotiations with Ukraine over the basing of ships in Ukrainian ports and the transfer of part of the fleet to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. (Kathy Mihalisko) KRAVCHUK REACTS. As summarized by Reuters, President Kravchuk told Ukrainian TV on 7 April that the CIS is living by the principle "might makes right" and accused Russia of treating Ukraine like an enemy. The Ukrainian president also defended his decree of 6 April on the grounds that it is necessary to control the destruction of nuclear weapons. He was quoted as saying that "until the complete dismantling and withdrawal of the nuclear forces, I should have a button... As soon as the last rocket is gone I will, with great satisfaction, surrender that key." (Kathy Mihalisko) DECREE DEFIES APPEAL BY UKRAINIAN PRESIDIUM. On 6 April, the Presidium of the Ukrainian parliament distributed a statement accusing Russian and CIS military leaders of attempting to destabilize the situation surrounding the Black Sea Fleet. As relayed by Ukrinform-TASS, the statement referred specifically to Rutskoi's comments on 4 April during the vice-president's trip to Crimea but said that other visits, telegrams and instructions had gone out to the fleet that undermined the authority of Ukraine's legislative and executive organs, which was "unacceptable." The Presidium called on the Russian parliament to join in efforts to normalize the situation. (Kathy Mihalisko) BAKER CAUTIONS UKRAINE. U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, in a statement televised on 7 April, said that American aid to Ukraine would be reduced if Kiev failed to keep to its promise to send tactical nuclear weapons to Russia for dismantling. Although more than half of those weapons have already been transferred, Ukraine last month suspended the operation pending assurances that the weapons were indeed being destroyed. Baker said that US aid could be linked not only to commitments to democracy and free markets but also, in Ukraine's case, to the fulfillment of commitments on nuclear safety and responsibility. Baker offered Ukraine an assurance that the United States would oppose any attempted nuclear "blackmail" of the country after it had disarmed. (Kathy Mihalisko) UKRAINIAN DELEGATION IN SEVASTOPOL. A delegation from Kiev of parliamentarians and representatives of the ministry of defense is in Sevastopol, Radio Ukraine reported on 7 April. The delegation, led by first deputy chairman of the Ukrainian parliament Vasyl Durdynets, is in the Black Sea Fleet base to explain President Kravchuk's latest decree on the military and the recent statement on the fleet adopted by the Presidium of the Ukrainian parliament. The group has also met with deputies to the Sevastopol City Council. (Roman Solchanyk) RUSSIANS ERECT BARRICADES IN SEVASTOPOL. AFP reported on 7 April that the Russian-headed "Republican Movement of Crimea" had erected barricades in the streets leading to Black Sea Fleet headquarters in the port city of Sevastopol. The Movement's members told AFP that they would defend the headquarters and its commander, Admiral Igor Kasatanov, against any attack by special Ukrainian forces. Kasatanov on 7 April met with the Ukrainian parliament delegation but rejected Ukraine's claim to command of the fleet, according to Postfactum. Earlier that same day, Kiev was reported to have ordered the grounding of the fleet's aircraft. (Kathy Mihalisko) CRIMEA WANTS UKRAINIAN-RUSSIAN SUMMIT. The Presidium of the Crimean parliament on 7 April appealed to the public and the parliamentary heads of the CIS countries, urging that the presidents of Ukraine and Russia meet with Crimean representatives to discuss the Crimean issue. According to "Novosti," a recent poll shows that more than 69% of Crimeans want the peninsula returned to Russia. (Roman Solchanyk) MOLDOVAN REACTION TO RUTSKOI VISIT. President Mircea Snegur told a press conference in Chisinau on 7 April that recent statements by Russian Vice-President Aleksandr Rutskoi while visiting the breakaway "Dniester Republic" were "irresponsible," ITAR-TASS reported. Snegur said that he hoped that the majority of Russian deputies did not share the position of Rutskoi and Yeltsin adviser, Sergei Stankevich. If Russia recognizes the "Dniester Republic," added Snegur, it should also recognize Tatarstan and Chechenya. (Roman Solchanyk) CIS DRAFT MILITARY AGREEMENTS INITIALLED. Participants at a working meeting of CIS defense ministers in Moscow initialled ten out of eleven draft CIS military agreements, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 April. All CIS states sent delegations except Moldova, although Ukraine and Azerbaijan did not initial documents dealing with creation of CIS common defense structures. The report said that agreement was reached by all delegations on many issues, the most important of which was a draft document on allocating funds for a single defense budget. The draft documents will be included in the agenda of the next CIS summit in Tashkent scheduled for 15 May. (Stephen Foye) YELTSIN ON FOREIGN POLICY... During his speech to the Congress, Yeltsin highlighted the connection between Russia's domestic and foreign policies: "The success of our foreign policy initiatives is determined by how correct our course is and how steadfastly it is implemented. It depends not least on the development of the situation inside the country and how consistently democratization and political, economic, and social reforms are carried out." Yeltsin assured deputies that the "work to strengthen international position...by no means amounts to an attempt to usurp the role of superpower that once claimed to decide the world's fate," ITAR-TASS reported. (Suzanne Crow) OVER HALF THE DEPUTIES OPPOSE GAIDAR'S GOVERNMENT. Russian TV newscasts on 7 April cited the Russian parliament's "Informational and Analytical Group" analysis of the voting during the first day of the Congress session. According to the data, only 130 deputies entirely support the Gaidar government; 266 support it partially; and 653 oppose the government (483 of these opponents, the analysis found, oppose the government "categorically"). However, an RFE/RL Russian service reporter noted that Gaidar's address on the second day of the Congress made a better impression on the audience than Yeltsin's. (Julia Wishnevsky) VOLSKY IN LINE FOR CABINET APPOINTMENT? An obvious candidate for promotion to the Yeltsin cabinet is Arkadii Volsky, chairman of the Russian League of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, the employers' association which represents many of Russia's largest state enterprises, or Volsky's deputy, Aleksandr Vladislavlev. Volsky, a reformer who has several times recently criticized the timing of Gaidar's program, is one of the leaders of the Movement for Democratic Reforms which, together with "Democratic Russia," sponsored the 5 April "Citizens' Assembly." The enterprises Volsky represents are demanding subsidies, tax breaks, and credits to enable them to keep afloat during the reform period and threatening that production shortfalls and unemployment will result if they do not get them. (Elizabeth Teague) PETROV RESIGNS. The head of the Russian Presidential Administration, Yurii Petrov, has resigned, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 April. Petrov, a former Communist Party first secretary from the Sverdlovsk Oblast, had been blamed by democrats recently for bringing old-fashioned Party apparatchiks back into the Russian leadership. Until now, Yeltsin has resisted demands to fire Petrov and stressed that he would defend his associate. Petrov's resignation may be connected with the recent restructuring of the executive organs. The Presidential Administration is to be incorporated into the structures of the State Council, run by State Secretary Gennadii Burbulis. (Alexander Rahr) PRESIDENTIAL RULE IMPOSED ON SOME RAIONS OF AZERBAIJAN. Radio Baku reported on 7 April that acting President Yakub Mamedov had imposed presidential rule in several raions. Meeting in Baku with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mahmoud Vaezi, Mamedov stated that as a precondition for a ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh all arms and equipment left behind in Karabakh by retreating CIS troops must be removed or destroyed. (Liz Fuller) KYRGYZ PRESIDENT IN GERMANY. Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev, the first Central Asian president to visit Germany since the Central Asian states became independent, arrived in Bonn on 6 April for a 4-day round of talks with various German government officials. News agencies reported on 7 April that the German Foreign Ministry had issued a statement on Akaev's talks with Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, in which Akaev offered favorable investment conditions for German investors, and Genscher offered support for Kyrgyzstan's economic and constitutional development. The offer was repeated by German Chancellor Helmut Kohl on 7 April. (Michael Wall/Bess Brown) EASTERN EUROPE CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE US RECOGNITION FOR THREE FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLICS. Western and Yugoslav area media gave extensive coverage to the formal recognition by the US of the independence of Croatia, Slovenia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. In a written statement on 7 April President George Bush announced that the US is preparing to establish full diplomatic relations with the former Yugoslav republics and that the four-month-old economic sanctions against the independent republics have been lifted. Sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro will be lifted as well, but only after they lift their blockade of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia. According to a RFE/RL correspondent's report, the White House action was the first practical demonstration of an agreement last March by which the US and the EC agreed to coordinate recognition of former Yugoslav republics. Austria and Croatia have also recognized Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Germany announced it is setting up an embassy in Sarajevo. (Milan Andrejevich) VIOLENCE, UNCERTAINTY PERSIST IN BOSNIA. Radio Sarajevo reports that armed battles, terrorist activities, and looting continue to disrupt daily life in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Federal warplanes bombed the Herzegovinian town of Siroki Brijeg, killing five civilians, and attacked two other villages claiming that illegal Croatian paramilitary units are stationed there. Bosnia's government condemned the actions and announced that it was taking steps to suspend some federal laws in the republic. Street fighting in Sarajevo has died down, but police are concerned over the activities of "thugs and hooligans" disrupting police efforts to maintain peace. Meanwhile, the Committee for National Salvation renamed itself the "Peace Committee of the All-People's Parliament" and continued its protest meeting in the republic's assembly building. A proclamation was issued suspending the activities of the government and parliament and announcing new elections within a few months. Shortly afterwards, about 50 deputies of the republican assembly, which had been in session in the same building, were ordered out by uniformed militiamen declaring themselves police regulars loyal to the republic. Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic issued an appeal on Austrian TV to the EC asking for help; he said the Serbs and federal army are preparing a coup. (Milan Andrejevich) GLIGOROV CRITICIZES GREECE, EC. Radio Skopje gave extensive coverage last night to a press conference in which Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov blamed Greece for making "incomprehensible and unacceptable demands" that the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia change its name. Greece opposes an independent state along its borders with the same name as its northern province of Macedonia and fears that Skopje has territorial pretensions toward the area. Gligorov reiterated that his republic has absolutely no claims to Greek territory. He also denied that the EC's decision not to recognize the republic's independence at this time was influenced by demands for full autonomy on the part of the republic's Albanian minority. On 3 April Albanians in the town of Struga declared the area the "Albanian Autonomous Republic of Ilirida." Macedonia's government responded by saying that it will not permit any part of the republic to create "parallel authority" and political autonomy. (Milan Andrejevich) PARYS'S STATEMENT JOLTS ESTABLISHMENT. The assertion by Polish Defense Minister Jan Parys that certain politicians have been courting high army officers behind his back and tempting them with promised promotions to join in their intrigues, has jolted the Polish political establishment, local and Western media report. President Walesa, as if to preempt possible suspicion that he was the addressee of Parys's criticism, said that "it is difficult for the president as Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces to avoid contacts with the army." Parys was also attacked by most of Poland's political leadership. Speaking to RFE/RL on 7 April, Bronislaw Geremek, Chairman of the Democratic Union parliamentary caucus, said "creating an impression that the army and the police are mixed up in conspiracies serves Poland badly." Andrzej Urbanski of the Center Alliance said that his party has been, "for some time now pointing to the dangerous precedent of meetings within the presidential office, outside the parliamentary and government structures, and without [the knowledge] of the president." Former deputy defense minister Janusz Onyszkiewicz said that Parys's speech "shows a great deal of irresponsibility--and a minister of defense should be a responsible man." (Roman Stefanowski) BALTIC LEADERS DISCUSS EX-SOVIET TROOP PULLOUT. On 4 April leaders of the Baltic delegations for negotiation of ex-USSR troop pullout from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania met in Vilnius, Diena reports. They compared their talks so far with Russia; in an effort to coordinate their work, they decided to hold regular consultations. From this meeting it emerged that both Latvia and Estonia have decided that if agreement cannot be reached with Russia on a timetable for the troop pullout, they would not sign the Helsinki-2 accord on the agenda for the next CSCE meeting. Lithuania expects a meeting with the Russian delegation in April on setting a withdrawal schedule; if this proves unsuccessful, Lithuania intends to internationalize the matter by bringing it up at the next CSCE meeting. Negotiators for Estonia and Russia will meet on 14-15 April in the Estonian resort town of Parnu. Russian chief negotiator Vasilii Svirin told BNS on 6 April that the talks will be difficult: "The parties are or are likely to be at odds on a number of questions," he said. (Dzintra Bungs & Riina Kionka) UKRAINE TO PULL TROOPS, BELARUS UNDECIDED. Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk has reacted positively to an Estonian proposal for Ukraine to call home its troops serving in Estonia, BNS reports. Chairman of the Estonian Supreme Council Arnold Ruutel made the suggestion to call home the 2000 troops in telephone discussion with Kravchuk last week, saying "an absurd situation has arisen in which the troops of one UN member-state are serving in the armed forces of a second UN member-state on the territory of a third UN member-state." Ruutel's Belarus counterpart Stanislau Shushkevich was less enthusiastic, saying Belarus cannot call home its troops until it can provide housing and social guarantees. (Riina Kionka) ANTALL ON GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS. In a television interview on 7 April Hungarian Prime Minister Jozsef Antall rejected charges by opposition parties that he dominates the government and seeks to build the prime minister's office and the Ministry of Interior into centers of power. Antall said that while many people in Hungary are still used to the idea that a "party center" exercises political power, in reality "there are no attempts whatsoever at centralizing power, and the ministers are fully able to assert their independence." He also rejected charges that some members of his party, the Democratic Forum, and of the ruling coalition have extremist views. Antall said that the Democratic Forum is a middle-of-the-road party that is stable enough to ward off extremist views and to balance out different political opinions. Antall was speaking on the eve of the second anniversary of the Hungarian parliamentary elections out of which the current parliament emerged. (Edith Oltay) HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT ASKED TO REQUEST NATO MEMBERSHIP. In an individual parliamentary motion, deputy Gyula Horn, chairman of the Hungarian Socialist Party (as well as chairman of parliament's foreign relations committee), proposed a resolution calling upon the government to seek NATO membership for Hungary, Radio Budapest reported on 7 April. As early as February 1990, when still foreign minister of Hungary's reform communist government, Horn had said that he could imagine Hungary becoming a member of NATO's political organizations in a few years. He justified his present motion by the need to clarify Hungary's international status, strengthen its security, and promote its integration with the West. Parliament has until Monday to decide whether the put the motion on its agenda. (Alfred Reisch) PRAGUE WANTS SHARE IN EAST BLOC PRIVATIZATION. Czechoslovakia says it has proposed forgiving the debts owed by Russia and Bulgaria in return for shares in privatized industries in those countries. Presidential spokesman Michael Zantovsky told reporters on 7 April that Russia owes Czechoslovakia $5 billion, Bulgaria $343 million. Zantovsky said the proposals were presented during President Havel's recent visits to Moscow and Sofia. The Russian ministers reportedly reacted positively but the Bulgarian government feared that the proposal might not be approved by the parliament. Finance Minister Vaclav Klaus was identified as the author of the scheme. (Barbara Kroulik) LALUMIERE CRITICIZES CZECHOSLOVAK SCREENING LAW. The Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, on her visit to Prague on 7 April, spoke out about the controversial Czechoslovak screening law, saying it does not protect people from unproven accusations. Catherine Lalumiere said the law violates the European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which Czechoslovakia signed last month. She said the screening law should contain "safety measures" to ensure no one is held liable for collaboration with the communist secret police until the accusation has been proven. The law passed last year bars former communist party officials, members of state security forces and collaborators from holding high public office until 1996. (Barbara Kroulik) ROMANIA: INCREASING POVERTY... According to official data released on 4 and 6 April, 42% of the more than 22 million Romanian citizens now live beneath the official poverty line. In February and March 1992, 5,501 persons were found guilty of serious offenses, including illegal possession of arms. Some 19,408 persons had come under investigation, 2953 more than in the same period last year. The statistics mentioned that 7,146 persons had paid fines totalling 3,325 million lei for stealing wood from forests or construction sites. Some 16,700 police raids in trains, ports, railway stations and airports uncovered theft worth 18.4 million lei. Juvenile crime is steadily rising as well. The Ministry of Health has issued a warning about sales on the black market of spoiled food from state enterprises. Unemployment figures stand officially at 4%, but the figure is expected to rise significantly. (Mihai Sturdza) ...AND CORRUPTION. Miron Cosma, the miners' leader accused in an official report of heading a series of violent labor actions in 1990-92, struck back at his critics in a speech last week reported in the local press on 7 April. Cosma alluded to dubious deals involving radioactive waste materials that have proved profitable to highly-placed persons. Meanwhile, Adevarul is continuing its series entitled "Corruption Stories" about new-minted billionaires and how they use their useful connections. Reportedly, from 1 January to 15 March 1992, 2,147 illegal money changers were forced to pay fines totalling 64 million lei; the largest single illegal currency transaction involved 2 million Dutch guilders. Adevarul writes on 7 April that the real problem is the law establishing a single exchange rate for the leu, which has distorted the market mechanism. Both legal and illegal casinos are proliferating in the country. Some 1132 cases of corruption, bribery, and influence-peddling are under investigation. (Mihai Sturdza) LITHUANIAN DEPUTY'S MANDATE SUSPENDED OVER KGB CHARGES. The Lithuanian Supreme Council has suspended the mandate of deputy Virgilijus Cepaitis, who is accused of having collaborated with the KGB. The charges were made by a parliamentary commission, according to reports received by the RFE/RL Lithuanian Service on 7 April. Cepaitis was an associate of Supreme Council Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis. His mandate has been suspended until new elections are held in his election district; he can run as a candidate if he chooses. (Dzintra Bungs) KROON ON THE WAY? The delivery of a container under armed police blockade on 7 April to the Estonian Bank building in Tallinn has fueled speculation that Estonia is on the verge of introducing its new currency. According to a BNS report that day Tallinn police chief Raik Saart denied having any special assignment. Saart, however, said the police provide security for all currency deliveries in Estonia, including ruble deliveries, adding that matters related to introduction of the kroon were strictly confidential. An Estonian Bank secretary queried by BNS refused comment. According BNS calculations, the amount of money needed to carry out a currency reform would fit into two shipping containers of the sort delivered this week. (Riina Kionka) CORRECTION. The Estonian Supreme Council vote of 6 April confirming Jaan Manitski as foreign minister was 46-8, with 16 abstentions, Rahva Haal reported the next day. [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Carla Thorson and Charles Trumbull (END) 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.