|The fool wonders, the wise man asks. - Benjamin Disraeli|
No. 72, 13 April 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT RESIGNS. The Russian government has submitted its resignation, arguing that it cannot conduct economic reform under the restrictions put on it by the Congress, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 April. But the leader of the Communist faction in the Congress, Sergei Baburin, claimed that the government's resignation was aimed to blackmail the Congress to reverse its 11 April decision to limit Yeltsin's special powers. According to the Constitution, Yeltsin now must form a new government and submit it for approval to the Congress. Western politicians had warned the Congress that any aid to Russia is tightly bound to radical reforms, and Deputy Premier Aleksandr Shokhin, addressing a rally of Yeltsin supporters in Moscow on 12 April, said that the Western aid package is now "hanging by a thread." (Alexander Rahr) A COMPROMISE REACHED? In one of a series of weekend meetings aimed at brokering a solution to Russia's political crisis, Yeltsin aides met on 12 April with leaders of various factions in the Congress of People's Deputies, Russian TV reported. The aim was to agree on a final version of the resolution on the progress of economic reform. Following the meeting, Egor Gaidar told Reuters that agreement had been reached but that he was not sure whether it would be enough to save his reform program from rejection by the Congress. The first deputy chairman of the parliament, Sergei Filatov also told ITAR-TASS that Yeltsin would, in fact, keep all his special powers. Ruslan Khasbulatov, head of the parliament and the government's major critic, was conspicuously absent from the meeting. (Elizabeth Teague and Alexander Rahr) MIXED RESULTS TO YELTSIN'S SPEECH AT THE CONGRESS. In his second address to the Congress on 10 April, Yeltsin had romised to make some changes in his government and leave the post of prime minister, ITAR-TASS reported. He defended the Gaidar team but acknowledged the need to appoint a new first deputy prime minister in charge of industry. Yeltsin stressed that this appointment would be made during the Congress and that he had already chosen a candidate who would "impress" the Congress. Yeltsin also said that he planned to reduce the size of the government bureaucracy and abolish some presidential structures. He ended his speech with a patriotic statement that Russia will be united and strong, which met with general approval among deputies. Nevertheless, this speech was not sufficient to prevent the vote to remove Yeltsin's special powers on 11 April, although it did inspire the deputies to approve the federal treaty. (Alexander Rahr) CONGRESS APPROVES FEDERAL TREATY. Following Yeltsin's speech on 10 April, the Congress endorsed, by a large majority, the federal treaty delimiting powers between the Russian Federation and its constituent territories that had been signed on 31 March by all but Tatarstan and Checheno-Ingushetia, ITAR-TASS reported. The voting was 848 in favor, with 10 against and 40 abstentions. The resolution stipulated that the treaty be included in the Russian constitution. The congress then went on to discuss amendments to the existing Russian constitution. It is proposed to partially amend 93 articles and remove completely 47. (Ann Sheehy) SHAKHRAI CRITICIZES CONGRESS. Yeltsin's legal advisor, Sergei Shakhrai, said that if the Congress gains the right to appoint the government, the country will be deluged by a crisis of power, according to ITAR-TASS on 10 April. He added that the Congress is fighting the government because it is annoyed by the government's "independence." The Congress had voted 492-313 with 64 abstentions to approve Yeltsin's economic program but fell short of an absolute majority of the 1,046 deputies registered. The co-chairman of Democratic Russia, Gleb Yakunin, stressed that his movement wants to collect signatures for a nationwide referendum in support of Shakhrai's version of the constitution. (Alexander Rahr) CEASE-FIRE HOLDING IN MOLDOVA. The cease-fire is generally holding on the left bank of the Dniester, although there have been isolated shooting incidents and the situation remains tense, CIS media reported on 10-12 April. Observers have arrived from Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, and Romania, and met with the leaders of the self-styled "Dniester republic," ITAR-TASS reported on 12 April. Russian envoy Viktor Komplektov has also arrived in Tiraspol, where, according to reports from the Moldovan authorities, his main task will be to determine the status of the 14th army. (Ann Sheehy) COSSACKS LEAVING LEFT BANK OF DNIESTER. The president of the self-styled" Dniester Republic," Igor Smirnov, has issued a decree ordering all "foreign" armed formations to leave the territory of the left bank of the Dniester, "Novosti" reported on 11 April. A similar order has been given by a Cossack ataman. The presence of Cossack volunteers from the Don and Kuban fighting on the side of the "Dniester Republic" had been strongly objected to by Moldova. There are reports that the Cossacks are leaving the area, although "Vesti" reported that some were refusing to do so. (Ann Sheehy) GAGAUZ AGREE TO ABANDON IDEA OF OWN REPUBLIC. At a meeting with Moldovan parliamentary leaders in Chisinau on 10 April representatives of the Gagauz said they were prepared to give up the idea of their own republic, Radio Mayak reported on 12 April. The meeting was attended by the president of the so-called Gagauz republic Stepan Topal and Gagauz deputies to the Moldovan parliament. They condemned the request sent by the Gagauz prime minister to the Russian Congress of People's Deputies requesting that the Gagauz republic be recognized and become part of the Russian Federation. (Ann Sheehy) KRAVCHUK: CIS DOES NOT EXIST. Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk told Interfax in an interview released on 10 April that the CIS does not, in fact, exist. "We are just trying to create such a structure," Kravchuk said. Responding to criticism that Ukraine is trying to bring down the CIS, Kravchuk responded: "Nonsense. There is nothing to be ruined." In its present form, predicted the Ukrainian president, the commonwealth will not be able to survive. (Roman Solchanyk) KRAVCHUK CONFERS WITH "RUKH." President Kravchuk met with the central and regional leaders of "Rukh" on 10 April to discuss a wide variety of current issues facing the Ukrainian state. During two hours of talks with Ivan Drach, Vyacheslav Chornovil, and regional "Rukh" leaders, the Ukrainian president discussed the work of the executive and government, military issues, Ukraine's continued membership in the CIS, the economy, the Crimean and Black Sea Fleet questions, and other issues. (Roman Solchanyk) UKRAINIANS NOT A NATION, SAY PROTESTERS. Pickets outside the Ukrainian embassy in Moscow on 12 April demanded the resignation of Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk and the Ukrainian government, Radio Ukraine reported. The picketing was organized by the Moscow branch of the National Republican Party of Russia. Its leader, Yurii Gudimenko, said in an interview that "the separatists who call themselves the Ukrainian nation are in reality nothing other than an ethnic group of the Russian people." (Roman Solchanyk) UKRAINE BLOCKS ANOTHER CIS VISIT. Radio Rossii reported on 10 April that the Ukrainian authorities had refused permission for Colonel General Evgenii Podkolzin--the commander in chief of the CIS Airborne Troops--to visit one of his units stationed near Lviv. The order came from Ukrainian Defense Minister Konstantin Morozov, who has previously banned travel to Ukraine by CIS Air Force commanders. (Doug Clarke) UKRAINIAN ADMIRAL LOOKS TO THE MED. In a 10 April press conference, the recently-appointed head of the Ukrainian Navy said that Ukraine needs a naval presence in the Mediterranean Sea. Rear Admiral Boris Kozhnin claimed that this would be necessary to ensure the protection of Ukraine's maritime lines of communication and trade. His remarks were carried by AFP. Koshnin repeated the earlier Ukrainian position that CIS ships based in Ukrainian ports should belong to Ukraine and form the basis of the Republic's navy. (Doug Clarke) REPUBLICS DISAGREE ON START. Representatives from the four CIS republics which have strategic nuclear weapons on their territory on 11 April failed to agree on how they should implement the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). Western agencies reported that the four could not even agree on the text of a joint statement. The treaty was signed by the United States and the Soviet Union. Russia apparently wants the treaty to remain a bilateral one, while Ukraine is said to demand that it should become a separate party to the accord. Krasnaya zvezda reported on 10 April that treaty had been submitted for ratification that day to the Russian parliament. (Doug Clarke) AIR DEFENSE COMMANDERS ON PROBLEMS. Interviewed by ITAR-TASS on 10 April on the occasion of air defense troops day, a PVO first deputy commander said that the break-up of the union had disrupted both PVO operations and its training system. Colonel General Viktor Miruk lamented the situation of PVO officers serving in the Baltic states, Transcaucasus, and Moldova, but said that the air defense of Moscow, St. Petersburg, and numerous other facilities on Russian territory remained secure. He also insisted that Russia needed a system of space defense, and that such a system would be established. (Stephen Foye) ON S-300 MISSILE. Meanwhile, Nezavisimaya gazeta carried an interview on 10 April with Colonel General of Aviation Anatolii Kornukov, who also discussed current problems faced by his service, but who praised the S-300 surface-to-air missile system, which he said was in many ways superior to the American Patriot missile. On 11 April, Austrian Television (ORF) reported from a base near Moscow that Russia intends to sell the S-300 system to Third World countries. (Stephen Foye) WORLD BANK LOANS TO FORMER SOVIET REPUBLICS. World Bank President Lewis Preston told The New York Times on 12 April that the Bank plans to loan $12-$15 billion to the former Soviet republics by 1995. In 1992, the Bank expects to have loaned $1.5 billion of the $24 billion G-7 package recently promised to the former USSR. Thereafter, World Bank loans will increase to an expected $4.5-$5 billion a year by 1995. A large share of the credits will be extended for farm and energy projects and will be tied to specific import shipments to reduce the possibilities of fraud and corruption. World Bank loans will have to be repaid with interest. (Keith Bush) ARMY OF RUSSIAN TAX INSPECTORS TO BE MOBILIZED. One of the reasons why the Russian budget is registering a huge deficit is that taxes are not being collected. The Russian cabinet has announced that it will seek to close this loophole by hiring up to 100,000 tax inspectors this year, Radio Mayak reported on 12 April. A total of 813 million rubles was allocated to the Russian tax service for the first quarter of 1992. (Keith Bush) NEW AZERBAIJANI OFFENSIVE IN NAGORNO-KARABAKH. At least 20 Armenians were killed during the night of 10-11 April when some 1,000 Azerbaijani troops using armored vehicles attacked the village of Maraga in northern Nagorno-Karabakh, ITAR-TASS reported on 11 April. Meanwhile Armenian forces took the village of Dzhamilli in the Fizuli raion that borders on eastern Karabakh. On 12 April Azerbaijani troops attacked a second Armenian village and shelled the town of Stepanakert, according to Armenian officials. (Liz Fuller) GEORGIA TO CREATE OWN ARMED FORCES. Georgia's ruling State Council issued a decree on 12 April on the creation of a 20,000 man national army that will comprise all currently existing armed formations. Enlisted men will serve for 18 months. The army will have the use of former Soviet army arms and equipment now in the possession of Georgian military formations, "Vesti" reported on 12 April. (Liz Fuller) BADAKHSHAN DECLARES SELF AN AUTONOMOUS REPUBLIC. Legislators in Tajikistan's Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast declared the region to be the Pamir-Badakhshan Autonomous Republic on 11 April, ITAR-TASS reported. The report noted that citizens of the region's capital, Khorog, had demonstrated in December for a change in the region's status, but the Tajik Supreme Soviet had not raised the issue in subsequent sessions. The Badakhshan deputies stated that a change in the region's status would make it possible to deal with the region's serious socio-economic problems. They also declared their support for opposition demonstrators in Dushanbe who are trying to force the resignation of the Supreme Soviet. (Bess Brown) KARIMOV VISITS SAUDI ARABIA. Western and Moscow news agencies reported on 11 April that Uzbek President Islam Karimov was beginning a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia. Karimov had received an invitation to visit the kingdom from Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal during the latter's trip to the new Central Asian states in February. Members of the Uzbek delegation told ITAR-TASS that they expected to sign agreements on cooperation between the two countries. ITAR-TASS also reported that Karimov plans to make a pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina during his stay in Saudi Arabia. (Bess Brown) EASTERN EUROPE CEASE-FIRE NEGOTIATED IN BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA. International media reported on 12 April that EC negotiator Jose Cutilheiro had brokered an agreement between the Muslim, Croatian, and Serbian leaders in that troubled, ethnically mixed republic. It came into effect at midnight, local time, but fighting apparently is continuing in the Herzegovinian town of Kupres and in Sarajevo. The pact includes provisions for disarming and demobilizing paramilitary forces, for resuming talks aimed at dividing the republic into "cantons," or zones, and for denying recognition of border changes carried out by force. (Patrick Moore) IS SERBIA PLANNING A LAND-GRAB? Over the weekend, a number of Western dailies said that Serbia nonetheless seems bent on linking up Serbian enclaves in Bosnia-Herzegovina by force. The pattern follows the one established last year in Croatia: Serbian irregulars first drive out Muslims and Croats, while the federal army then consolidates control, claiming that it is "protecting" local Serbs. The BBC on 13 April suggested that failure to include the army in the cease-fire agreement might doom the pact to failure. In other weekend developments, unknown persons blew up a bridge on the one main road linking Sarajevo and Mostar, while in Zagreb a bomb went off outside a museum of the Serbian Orthodox Church, German TV said. Finally, the 12 April Vjesnik reported that Croatian President Franjo Tudjman discussed the Bosnian situation with a Libyan special envoy. (Patrick Moore) HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER ASKS EBRD FOR AID. On 10 April in Budapest, Hungarian Prime Minister Jozsef Antall told Jacques Attali, the president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, that the Hungarian government expected substantial help from the EBRD in achieving its goal of joining the EC. Antall said that it would help the process of economic transformation if the EBRD would finance not only infrastructure projects but also projects aimed at stabilizing new financial institutions. Attali praised Hungary's progress in setting up a market economy. The EBRD's first annual meeting opens in Budapest on 13 April and is expected to discuss programs to guide Eastern Europe and the CIS toward a market economy. (Edith Oltay) SNEGUR CONDEMNS ATTEMPTS TO RESTORE SOVIET EMPIRE. Speaking in the Romanian town of Suceava on 12 April, Moldova's President Mircea Snegur charged that forces nostalgic for the former Soviet regime were attempting "to restore the empire under Lenin's flag" by staging the current conflict in Moldova. Snegur was speaking at a ceremony commemorating Moldova's medieval hero Stephen the Great. Officials and clerics from Romania, Moldova, and Northern Bukovina attended the ceremony. President Ion Iliescu joined Snegur in the evening and told journalists that the foreign ministers of Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, and Romania had agreed to continue talks about the normalization of the situation in Moldova. (Mihai Sturdza) POLISH GOVERNMENT COALITION TALKS CONTINUE. At a five-hour meeting on 11 April, the seven parties supporting the government and the three parties of the "little coalition"--the Democratic Union, the Liberal Democratic Congress, and the Polish Economic Program--reaffirmed their general intention to broaden the governing coalition. Prime Minister Jan Olszewski told journalists after the meeting that the participants aimed to restructure the government to reflect the character of the new, broader coalition. Little of substance seems to have been agreed, however. All parties accepted current government spending plans and the proposed budget deficit ceiling of 5% of GDP. Democratic Union Chairman Tadeusz Mazowiecki said after the meeting that the "little coalition" had demanded more even-handed treatment by the state mass media. The next round of talks has been scheduled for 21 April. (Roman Stefanowski) CALFA: BREAK-UP OF CZECHOSLOVAKIA POSSIBLE. Speaking in Washington, Czechoslovak Prime Minister Marian Calfa said the future of a unified Czech and Slovak state would depend on the June parliamentary elections. Calfa told reporters on 10 April that public opinion polls point toward a victory for a political block that favors partitioning the country. He said the split could take place in the latter half of 1992. Calfa met with President George Bush at the White House, a RFE/RL correspondent reports. Calfa said that Czechoslovakia hopes the US Congress will quickly approve a foreign aid bill that includes assistance for Prague. He said his country needs private investment whereas US assistance now emphasizes technical aid. Calfa said he sensed a "certain hesitancy" during his talks with US officials on additional aid. (Barbara Kroulik) UDF HOLDS NATIONAL CONFERENCE. On 11-12 April, Bulgaria's Union of Democratic Forces held its first national conference since it won the elections last October. More than 1,500 representatives of its 20 member parties and local organizations participated. The UDF amended its statute to read that it is a national movement of parties, organizations, and citizens, organized in a political coalition, thus reconciling diverging views of the UDF as a movement or a coalition. The National Coordinating Council was preserved as the UDF's ruling body. Local citizens' committees were renamed as clubs of UDF sympathizers with consultative status. The conference called for structural and personal changes in the government. BTA commented that despite internal differences the UDF had not split. (Rada Nikolaev) POLISH PRIME MINISTER BEGINS US VISIT. Polish Prime Minister Jan Olszewski begins a two-day official visit to the US on 13 April. Accompanied by Finance Minister Andrzej Olechowski and central planning chief Jerzy Eysymontt, Olszewski plans to report to President George Bush and US politicians and businessmen on Poland's progress toward a market economy. According to Olszewski's chief adviser Zdzislaw Najder, the purpose of the visit is not so much "to obtain new credits as to activate what is already waiting its turn." Olszewski may use the visit to announce an appointment of a special ombudsman to aid foreign investors. He mentioned this possibility when talking to American journalists in Warsaw on 9 April, Polish and Western media reported. (Roman Stefanowski) ZOMO MEMBERS ARRESTED FOR MARTIAL LAW DEATHS. Three former members of the disbanded ZOMO riot police were arrested on 10 April under suspicion of having caused the death of nine miners in December 1981, Polish and Western media reported. ZOMO troops stormed the Wujek coal mine to put down a strike after the declaration of martial law. A justice ministry spokesman also announced that the three generals from the former security police who were arrested in January for burning police files after the fall of communism would be brought to trial soon. The documents concerned investigations of the Catholic clergy and the opposition movement. (Roman Stefanowski) HUNGARIAN UNEMPLOYMENT STILL RISING. At the end of March, the number of Hungary's unemployed stood at 478,000, a 5.1% increase over the previous month, MTI reported on 10 April. The unemployment rate for the national work force of 5.4 million thus rose from 8.5% to 8.9%. According to labor ministry figures, the number of people receiving assistance increased by 12% to 375,000 at the end of March. The number of unemployed is expected to exceed 500,000 by the end of April. (Alfred Reisch) ESTONIA'S NEW CONSTITUTION READY. Estonia's Constituent Assembly wrapped up over seven months of work on 10 April by approving a final draft and enabling legislation for the new constitution, BNS reported the next day. The draft constitution foresees a parliamentary system of government with a more-or-less ceremonial role for the president. The first president will be elected jointly by popular vote and by the new State Assembly, but subsequent presidents will be chosen only by the parliament. The current Supreme Council is expected to put the draft constitution to public referendum by May, and new parliamentary elections are set to be held within two months after the public approves the constitution. (Riina Kionka) DEADLINE EXPIRES FOR UNDERGROUND PRIESTS. A Vatican deadline expired on 12 April for secret Catholic priests still operating underground to report to their bishops. The Secretary-General of the Czechoslovak Bishop's Conference Frantisek Radkovsky said the Church wants to integrate the priests into normal Church work. The priests, believed to number at least 200, were secretly ordained during communist rule. In a pastoral letter the Church last month demanded that the priests come into the open or be considered illegally ordained. It is not known how many have obeyed the instruction. A number of the underground priests are believed to be married and have children. Radkovsky ruled out that these will be ordained formally but said efforts will be made to involve them in the Church's work. The Vatican decision was greeted with disappointment among those who were active in underground circles, The New York Times reports. (Barbara Kroulik) LATVIA REVOKES TRAVEL VISAS FOR ITS RESIDENTS. Radio Riga reported on 8 April that the Latvian Ministry of Internal Affairs had revoked the previously required travel visas for Latvia's residents wishing to travel abroad. Such visas were instituted last year, mostly for the purpose of curbing the resale abroad for hard currency of goods in short supply in Latvia. The favorite destination of such sales trips was Poland. The travel visas were very unpopular because they affected all potential travelers. The visa requirement was also criticized by the Polish authorities because it restricted the ability of Poles in Latvia from visiting their relatives in Poland. Radio Riga noted that while the Latvian government had lifted travel restrictions for Latvia's residents, the policies of other governments had not changed. (Dzintra Bungs) LANDSBERGIS FAVORS REFERENDUM ON TROOP WITHDRAWAL. Lithuanian Supreme Council Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis said on 10 April that he favors holding a referendum on the urgent withdrawal of the former USSR armed forces from his country. He told residents of Zarasai, a town in northeastern Lithuania, that a referendum might facilitate the pullout of troops this year. He added that the Supreme Council can pass a resolution to hold the referendum, Baltfax reported on 10 April. (Dzintra Bungs) ROMANIAN ELECTIONS PROMPT PARTY MANEUVERING. On 10 April, NSF Chairman Petre Roman threatened to sue the splinter NSF-22 December Party, should it chose to campaign under this name in the forthcoming elections. Roman claimed that the similarity of names might harm the NSF's image. Meanwhile, despite widespread admonitions against splintering the opposition, Radu Campeanu, President of the National Liberal Party (NLP), spoke again on 10 April about abandoning the Democratic Convention coalition. However, local media reported on 11 April that, after Campeanu's stance was roundly criticized, the delegates at the NLP convention were told they were free to side with the coalition on a local level. (Mihai Sturdza) ROMANIA DISAVOWS ARAFAT'S AIRMAN. On 11 April, the Romanian government disavowed any link with Petre Gheorghe, one of the three crewmen killed four days earlier when the airplane carrying Yasser Arafat crashed in the Libyan desert. Gheorghe, a former employee at the Tarom aircraft factory, had been hired on a private contract earlier this year to work for the Palestinian leader. The communique, which said that the Romanian government was not involved in Gheorghe's contract, seemed to be aimed at defusing rumors that Romania was still cooperating with the PLO, as it had previously under Nicolae Ceausescu. Local media carried the story. (Mihai Sturdza) US AMBASSADOR TO LATVIA ACCREDITED. On 10 April Ints Silins presented his credentials to Latvian Supreme Council Chairman Anatolijs Gorbunovs and was duly accredited as US ambassador to Latvia, Diena reported that day. Afterwards, Silins told the press that he intends to work for the creation of new democratic institutions in Latvia and the transformation of its economy into a market economy, and help develop Latvia's economic relations with the rest of the world. A career US diplomat, Silins was born in Latvia 50 years ago. (Dzintra Bungs) BULGARIAN-GREEK CONTACTS. The Greek Minister of Macedonia and Thrace, Panaiotis Hadzinicolau, held talks with the Bulgarian government on 10-11 April in Sofia and Sandanski near the Greek border. They dealt with economic issues and the long standing problem of the waters of the Mesta (Nestos) river which flows from Bulgaria into Greece. BTA reported that the Salonika port will give priority to Bulgarian goods transported by rail. Talks are still pending on creating a transnational economic zone and opening two additional border crossing points. (Rada Nikolaev) [As of 1300 CET] Compiled by Carla Thorson and Louisa Vinton (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. 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