|Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal. - John F. Kennedy|
No. 75, 16 April 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR CONGRESS DECLARATION ON REFORM PROGRAM. On 15 April, the Congress of Peoples Deputies partially reversed itself and passed a declaration of general support for the Russian governments economic reform program, ITAR-TASS reported. However, as observers have pointed out, the Congress refused to withdraw any of its amendments to the reform program that were spelled out in the 11 April resolution. The government had submitted its resignation because it opposed that resolution. Parliament Chairman Ruslan Khasbulatov insisted that the provisions of the 11 April resolution be maintained because it was necessary to emphasize that the Congress was not revising its policy. Thus, the earlier provisions, such as recommendations for the indexation of savings deposits, giving labor collectives the right to a controlling group of shares during privatization, and for the maintenance of real incomes, technically remain in force. (Keith Bush and Alexander Rahr) AMENDMENTS TO CONSTITUTION REJECTED. On 15 April, the Congress failed to pass some crucial amendments to the Constitution, ITAR-TASS reported. It resisted giving the president the right to dissolve parliament in the event that parliament fails on the third vote to approve presidential proposals on the composition of the government. The Congress also rejected the proposal that the president must consult parliament on major government appointments and denied members of the Supreme Soviet the right to be appointed to government positions. Yeltsins legal advisor Sergei Shakhrai called the failure to adopt the amendments, contradictory to previously adopted legislation. (Alexander Rahr) FEDERAL TREATY BECOMES PART OF RUSSIAN CONSTITUTION. Among the amendments to the Russian constitution adopted on 15 April by the Russian Congress of Peoples Deputies was the inclusion in the constitution of the Federal Treaty signed on 31 March and approved by the congress on 10 April, ITAR-TASS reported. Although Article 8 of the treaty stipulates that the treaty should be part of the Constitution, the question of whether the Constitution or the Treaty should have primacy in relations between the subjects of the Federation was debated for some time. The text of the Treaty, which now forms Section 12 of the Constitution, was amended in accordance with the protocol signed along with the Federal Treaty. (Ann Sheehy) RUSSIA: NEW OFFICIAL TITLE. After several days of debate, on 16 April, the Congress finally gained the necessary two-thirds majority vote to change the official name of the RSFSR to Russia, according to Radio Rossiis live broadcast of the Congress proceedings. The Supreme Soviet had already adopted the titles, Russia or Russian Federation (dropping Soviet and Socialist), in December 1991. Technically speaking, however, an amendment to the Constitution passed by the full Congress was necessary to officially revise the countrys title. (Carla Thorson and Julia Wishnevsky) BURBULIS ON GOVERNMENT CHANGES. Russian State Secretary Gennadii Burbulis told ITAR-TASS on 15 April that President Boris Yeltsin may give up his additional powers if the government becomes stable. He stressed that the government will concentrate on economic questions from now on, while the president and parliament will deal primarily with political and legislative matters. He stated that the government ministries for social affairs and industry will be restructured soon and professionals will be appointed to head these ministries. (Alexander Rahr) DECREE ON FORMATION OF RUSSIAN ARMY EXPECTED. President Yeltsin intends to sign a decree on the creation of a separate Russian armed forces on 9 May, Western agencies reported on 14 April. General Dmitrii Volkogonov, the head of the commission to oversee the creation of the Russian Army, said that the Russian army would consist of about 1.5 Million volunteer servicemen rather than draftees. He also noted that for the first 2-3 years, the Russian Army would be subordinated to a military defense minister but then a civilian should take over. (Alexander Rahr) FLEET TALKS SUSPENDED. The press center of the Black Sea Fleet told ITAR-TASS on 15 April that the Russian and Ukrainian delegations scheduled to begin bilateral negotiations that day on the future of the fleet had not arrived in Sevastopol as planned. It reported that the talks had been suspended for an indefinite time. According to ITAR-TASS, observers speculated that the Russian governmental crisis was the reason. (Doug Clarke) AZERBAIJANIS TO GET QUARTER OF CASPIAN FLOTILLA. ITAR-TASS on 15 April reported that delegations from the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry and the CIS Main Naval Staff had reached a compromise agreement on the division of the former Soviet Caspian Sea Flotilla. The two sides agreed that Russia and Azerbaijan would each retain control of one quarter of the ships and facilities of the flotilla. The fate of the remaining 50% would be settled during negotiations between Russia, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan. Earlier that day, ITAR-TASS had quoted the chief CIS negotiator as saying that he would propose to the Azerbaijani defense minister that the flotilla remain united. Western sources estimate that the flotilla has some 85 vessels, chiefly patrol and amphibious craft. (Doug Clarke) IMF MEMBERSHIP FOR CIS SOON? The managing director of the International Monetary Fund expects that all former Soviet republics will be admitted to membership of the Fund soon, RFE/RLs Washington bureau reported on 15 April. Michel Camdessus was quoted as saying that the executive board of the IMF had endorsed the economic reform programs of all 15 former Soviet republics, and that he expected positive responses by 27 April from all IMF member-countries to ballots on membership for these republics. On 14 April, the World Bank approved admission of the 15 former Soviet republics, paving the way for them to become full members in the near future. (Keith Bush) ESTIMATE OF AID REQUIRED BY CIS. At the same news conference, Camdessus said that the former Soviet republics will require about $145 billion in foreign aid over the next four years. $44 billion will be needed in 1992: this includes the $24 billion already promised to Russia by Western industrialized countries, and $20 billion for the other republics. Camdessus said that the IMF stood ready to provide $25-$30 billion to the former Soviet republics over the next four years provided that economic reforms continued. (Keith Bush) AGREEMENT ON JOINT CIS FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE SIGNED. Eight of the CIS states have signed, on 4 April in Alma-Ata, an agreement on close cooperation in intelligence affairs, ITAR-TASS on 15 April quoted Tatyana Samolis, the spokesman of the Russian Agency of Foreign Intelligence, as saying. Only Ukraine, Armenia and Azerbaijan have backed away from their previous intentions to sign the agreement. The agreement signed in Alma-Ata stipulates that the CIS member states will not conduct spying against each other and will coordinate their foreign intelligence activities. A coordinating organthe Council of Heads of Intelligence Organshas been set up. It is scheduled to meet four times a year. (Alexander Rahr) BURBULIS REPORTS DECREASE IN WORKER UNREST. Predictions that Russias 2 January price hikes would lead to massive worker unrest proved exaggeratedin fact, the number strikes in this period reportedly dropped in comparison to 1991. Gennadii Burbulis told the Congress of Peoples Deputies on 14 April that even in coal-mining areas, where there have been many recent strike threats, the actual number of strikes decreased in the early months of 1992, Interfax reported. Burbulis, whose personal intervention was credited with averting a threatened strike by miners in Vorkuta in February (Moscow News, No. 9, 1992) said a new mechanism for cooperation between government, trade unions, and employers associations has great potential for defusing workplace conflicts. He said a group of specialists is being created which will be responsible for assessing pre-strike situations and recommending ways of averting industrial action. (Elizabeth Teague) DISCUSSION OF THE MEDIA AT CONGRESS. On 15 April, the Russian Congress of Peoples Deputies failed to pass a resolution on the work of the Russian media as planned. Many deputies have complained that Russian media, especially television, are biased in their coverage of the Congress. The Congress resolution on the issue is set to be discussed on 16 April. On 15 April, Ostankino TV quoted a member of the conservative Russian Unity bloc at the Congress, Vladimir Isakov, as saying that a council, consisting of representatives of all Russias political parties, should be set up to supervise the work of the television station which is government-owned. This proposal found support not only from conservatives, but also from more democratically-oriented politicians. (Vera Tolz) CHECHNYA INTRODUCES CENSORSHIP. The Chechen Cabinet of Ministers has decided that prior censorship of the mass media is to be introduced in Chechnya, Novosti reported on 16 April. The move was justified by the need to preserve stability during the state of emergency, that is while the circumstances of the attempted coup of 31 March are being investigated. (Ann Sheehy) UKRAINE PROMISED ITALIAN CREDITS. Ukraine and Italy have signed an economic declaration which includes a pledge to extend about $2 billion worth of credit for Kiev, ITAR-TASS reported on 15 April. The announcement was made by Ukrainian Prime Minister Vitold Fokin, who was in Rome for talks with Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti. Fokin also said that Ukraine is prepared to repay 20% of the former Soviet Unions foreign debt. (Roman Solchanyk) SHUSHKEVICH SEES POLITICAL STABILITY. Belarus parliamentary Chairman Stanislau Shushkevich believes that his republic will attain political stability at the latest by next year, Western agencies reported on 15 April. He said most of the political parties in Belarus pursue the same aims as the leadership. Shushkevich made the statement during a joint press conference with visiting German Minister for Foreign Economic Cooperation Carl-Dieter Spranger. (Roman Solchanyk) CIRCUMSTANCES OF NAGORNO-KARABAKH PARLIAMENT CHAIRMANS DEATH A MYSTERY. The death of Nagorno-Karabakh parliament Chairman Artur Mkrtchyan on 14 April was an accident, according to a statement issued on 15 April by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet and the Council of Ministers of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic carried by ITAR-TASS. No details of the circumstances were given. Originally it had been reported that Mkrtchyan had been assassinated by unknown assailants: Interfax reported on 15 April that the Azerbaijani permanent mission in Moscow had denied any Azerbaijani involvement in Mkrtchyans death. (Liz Fuller) SNEGUR EXPECTS END SOON TO ARMED CONFLICT IN DNIESTER AREA. Moldovan President Mircea Snegur told a meeting of the Moldovan government in Chisinau on 15 April that he expected the armed conflict on the left bank of the Dniester to end soon, ITAR-TASS reported. However, he intended to retain the state of emergency until due order was restored in the republic. According to Radio Moscow, Snegur wants to use the state of emergency committees to solve agrarian problems. The cease-fire is still largely being observed on the left bank of the Dniester, and, according to Novosti, the last 14 Kuban Cossacks were leaving the area on 15 April. Efforts to disband the armed formations that clashed in Bendery on the right bank are continuing. (Ann Sheehy) LAND LAW IN TAJIKISTAN. Tajikistans new land law went into effect on 15 April, Khovar-TASS reported. The law grants landholders lifetime possession and also stipulates that land may be inherited, leased to others, and requires that landholders be compensated if their holding is taken by the state. It does not create a free market in land. The law allows anyone to become a landholder regardless of nationality or length of residence in Tajikistan but gives preference to those with previous agricultural experience. (Bess Brown) HELP FOR INFORMATION MEDIA IN KAZAKHSTAN. Moscow media reported on 15 April that Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev had signed a decree intended to provide assistance for the information media in Kazakhstan. The Cabinet of Ministers was instructed to ensure that periodicals and book publishers can obtain paper and are freed from the value-added tax. The decree also prohibited the creation of press monopolies. (Bess Brown) NIYAZOV DISCUSSES GAS PIPELINE. Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov had discussions on 14 April with the Iranian petroleum minister on the possibility of transporting Turkmen gas across Iran, Turkmenpress-TASS reported. The minister promised Iranian help in building a pipeline; the discussions also dealt with an Iranian offer of $50 million credit to buy food in Iran. The Turkmen leadership wants to find ways to export gas to Turkey and Western Europe that bypass the Commonwealth of Independent States. Iran had already been approached for assistance before the Turkmen-Ukrainian dispute over gas prices. (Bess Brown) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE US MAY SEEK SERBIAS SUSPENSION FROM CSCE. Western media reported on 16 April that the US State Department said it will ask for Belgrades suspension from that international body if Serbian units continue fighting in Bosnia-Herzegovina. German TV on 15 April and the Washington Post on 16 April said that reporters in Bosnia-Herzegovina could see that Serbian claims of noninvolvement and army claims of neutrality were false. The Post noted that the Serbian government seems to be trying to marshal support by showing it is the victim of a German-Vatican, fundamentalist-Islamic, American-imperialist conspiracy, to which Belgrade now adds that it is the target of media-information genocide as well. The BBC on 16 April said that Washington seems determined to turn Serbia into an international pariah if its aggressive behavior continues. (Patrick Moore) SERBS CRIPPLE LAND COMMUNICATIONS IN BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA. That broadcast went on to note that, within the troubled multi-ethnic republic, movement is strangled by Serbian road-blocks. German and Austrian TV on 15 April showed the ruins of the Sarajevo bus depot and rows of demolished busses following the shelling by Serbian forces the previous night. UN special envoy Cyrus Vance arrives in Sarajevo on 16 April following talks with Serbian officials in Belgrade the previous day. Vance called for a halt to the fighting, but noted that the UN simply does not have the resources to mount a peace-keeping operation in Bosnia-Herzegovina. (Patrick Moore) CZECHOSLOVAKIA EXPELS LYBIAN DIPLOMATS. Czechoslovakia on 15 April closed its airspace to Libyan aircraft and asked Libyan diplomats to leave the country. CSTK says the Foreign Ministry officially asked Libya to close down its military mission immediately. Earlier, the Ministry announced restrictions on Czechoslovak aircraft flying to Libya. Czechoslovak experts working in Libya were ordered to suspend their activities. The moves are a part of the UN sanctions against Libya that took effect on that day. (Barbara Kroulik) WAY CLEAR FOR WALESAS MOSCOW VISIT? The tentative Russian-Polish agreement on financial aspects of the Soviet troop withdrawal reached on 14 April seems to have removed the last obstacle to Polish President Lech Walesas long-postponed official visit to Russia. Walesa had refused to travel to Moscow until all the terms of the withdrawal were settled to mutual satisfaction. Polish officials attributed the breakthrough to the participation of Russian Deputy Defense Minister General Pavel Grachev, the plenipotentiary for the withdrawal of Russian troops from abroad, who arrived with a decision-making mandate from Russian President Boris Yeltsin. Walesa received Grachev on 15 April. The presidents spokesman reported that the meeting had been unusually lively and spontaneous and that all the problems that could arise seem to have been resolved. Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Jerzy Makarczyk immediately departed on a one-day trip to Moscow on 15 April to discuss the specifics of the visit. He reported on his return to Warsaw that the exact date of the visit depends on the presidents calendar. (Roman Stefanowski and Louisa Vinton) POLES TO HELP FINANCE TROOP WITHDRAWAL? The seven-point Polish-Russian agreement must still be accepted by the governments of both countries. Its terms remain secret. General Grachev did divulge that the most important element was Polands agreement to help finance the transfer and resettlement of former Soviet troops, using the profits from Polish-Russian joint-ventures to be established at former Soviet facilities in Poland. Although the agreement stipulates that no funds are to come from the Polish state budget, it seems clear that the Poles have abandoned any hope of breaking even on the withdrawal. In this spirit, Walesa commented on 15 April that Poles and Russians should find the strength to rise above the legacy of the past and leave any exact settling of accounts to history. Polish Foreign Minister Krzysztof Skubiszewski noted that the costs for environmental damage had not yet been negotiated because the Polish side was still being refused access to Soviet bases, but added that Grachev had pledged to resolve this problem. (Roman Stefanowski and Louisa Vinton) YELSTIN ON RUSSIAN-LITHUANIAN TREATY. Lithuanian Supreme Council Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis has received a telegram from Russias President Boris Yeltsin indicating that Russia would soon complete action on the Lithuanian-Russian treaty on interstate relations that was signed by the two leaders last July. RFE/RL Lithuanian Service reported on 15 April that Yeltsin had said that the matter would be handled by Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Fedor Shelov-Kovedayev, who would travel to Vilnius; no date was given for his arrival. (Dzintra Bungs) BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT SETS NEW PRICES. On 15 April the government announced new price limits for some of the fourteen important food items under its control and liberalized the prices of the rest. These last are now to be governed by the market. It also set new minimum procurement prices for a number of agricultural products. Price increases of 35% were announced for electric power and 60% for coal. Government experts were quoted by BTA as saying that the new prices legalize the existing upward trend but prevent excessive inflation. BTA also said a package of compensation measures for the population had been approved, but gave no details. The government discussed price policy with the labor unions on 14April, but according to press reports the two sides separated in disagreement. After the liberalization of prices on 1 February 1991 and several increases in the course of the year, the government had announced a price freeze on 30 January. (Rada Nikolaev) ROMANIAS OPPOSITION COALITION PUSHES ON, DESPITE DEFECTION. Romanias major opposition parties have decided to remain allied in the Democratic Convention for this years parliamentary and presidential elections, despite the defection of Radu Campeanus National Liberal Party. Convention party leaders met on 15 April to try to avert a split in the alliance. Campeanu, who attended the meeting, said that the opposition alliance had been suitable only for the local elections (when the alliance captured the most important cities and about 30% of the national vote). Campeanus decision to abandon the Convention seemed to be dictated by his ambition to make a solo bid for the presidency. Democratic Convention leaders have planned further meetings (without the Liberals) for 16 April, to discuss alliance strategy. Civic Alliance Party leader Nicolae Manolescu announced earlier that Convention members still intended to run joint election lists and support a single presidential candidate. (Crisula Stefanescu) OIL WORKERS ON STRIKE IN BULGARIA. After repeated strike warnings, the workers at the Plama oil processing plant in Pleven went on strike on 15 April, BTA reported. Earlier reports said they were protesting both the way their management had been appointed and the risk to their jobs because of the lack of crude oil to process. BTA had reported on 10 April that crude oil was arriving, but this failed to resolve matters, and 1,211 workers and specialists opted to support the strike after their initiatives to open talks with the government had failed. Early on 16 April Bulgarian Radio reported that Minister of Industry and Trade Ivan Pushkarov was in Pleven. He condemned the pressure put on the government by the strikers, but reported some progress in talks. (Rada Nikolaev) EX-KGB MEMBERS IN LATVIAS DEFENSE AND INTERIOR MINISTRIES. On 14 April the Latvian Supreme Council debated heatedly issues related to the employment of about 120 former KGB members in Latvias ministries of defense and internal affairs, BNS reported that day. Currently there are 41 such persons working in the internal affairs ministry. The discussion was prompted by a draft resolution presented by Supreme Council Deputy Chairman Andrejs Krastins. The purpose of the resolution was to stop ex-KGB infiltration of Latvian institutions where security is essential. The resolution will be discussed further on 5 May. Former Latvian SSR Minister of Internal Affairs Bruno Steinbriks, now directing counterintelligence activities of the Baltic region border guards of the former USSR, told Diena of 14 April that his subordinates are still continuing their work, but dismissed the threat to Latvia of KGB underground operations there. (Dzintra Bungs) COMMUNIST GENERALS STRIPPED OF RANK. A presidential decree, quoted by BTA on 15 April, stripped of generals rank three former top military figures, all of them now well over 70. Colonel General Kiril Kosev had served as chief of the armys political command between 1971 and 1984. Two lieutenant generals, Georgi Kumbiliev and Apostol Kolchev, had been deputy internal affairs ministers in the 1950s. They were among the Stalinists purged together with former dictator Valko Chervenkov in 1962, but were both later rehabilitated. Also on 15 April, the defense minister moved to strip former Health Minister Kiril Ignatov of his colonels rank. Ignatov was accused of engaging in criminal activities while serving as a military counterintelligence officer in 1947-1949. (Rada Nikolaev) GOVERNMENT STEPS IN ON ELECTION LAW. The Estonian government has intervened on behalf of exile Estonians who were recently denied the right to vote in the election law passed two weeks ago in the Supreme Council. According to the RFE/RL Estonian Service, Prime Minister Tiit Vahi submitted a proposal to the Supreme Council on 15 April asking the body to allow Estonian citizens living abroad the right to vote in parliamentary elections. The mechanism of the government proposal is unclear, however. Vahi asked the Supreme Council to reenfranchise exiled Estonians without making a concrete proposal for the Supreme Council to reconsider the election law. Despite Vahis positive stance toward the exile community, his 15 April proposal appeared to be an attempt to placate concerned exiles or serve internal political ends rather than a serious solution to problems in the election law. (Riina Kionka) NEW LOANS FOR ROMANIA. European Community Vice President Henning Christophersen announced on 14 April, at the first annual meeting of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in Budapest, that he would propose that the Group of 24 industrial countries make additional loans of $200 million to Romania. A previously approved credit of $230 million to help Romania finance its balance of payment deficit will be released soon, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. (Crisula Stefanescu) US GRANTS HUNGARIAN GOODS UNCONDITIONAL MFN STATUS. US President George Bush has informed Hungarian Prime Minister Jozsef Antall in a letter that the US is extending to Hungarian goods unconditional most favored nation status, MTI reported on 15 April. Bush wrote that the step expressed US recognition for Hungarys progress in reforming its political and economic system. He was optimistic that a bilateral trade agreement would soon be signed providing mutual protection for investments and increasing US investments in Hungary. (Edith Oltay) UNEMPLOYMENT UP IN ESTONIA. Some 2,400 people in Estonia were jobless as of 1 April, according to Estonian Unemployment Office specialist Ludmilla Smirnova. Smirnova told BNS on 14 April that the number of unemployed grew by 62% in March, mostly among workers in Narva, Kohtla-Jarve, Tartu, Polva and Voru. Smirnova said the state paid out some 1,240,000 rubles in unemployment benefits in March alone, adding that a similar or larger increase in unemployment is expected in April. (Riina Kionka) CZECHOSLOVAKIA, AUSTRIA SIGN DEFENSE AGREEMENT. Czechoslovak and Austrian Defense Ministers Lubos Dobrovsky and Werner Fasslabend signed a military cooperation agreement on 14 April in Bratislava. The accord calls for cooperation between the two states in line with the provisions of the conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. The agreement species what steps would be taken if one of the countries airspace was violated, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. (Barbara Kroulik) LATVIA RECOGNIZES BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA. On 14 April the Latvian Supreme Council voted to recognize Bosnia-Herzegovina as an independent state and expressed the wish that international support would help Bosnia-Herzegovina to regain independence peacefully. The legislature also authorized the Latvian Foreign Ministry to investigate possibilities of establishing diplomatic relations, Diena reported that day. Latvia recognized Slovenia and Croatia last fall. (Dzintra Bungs) US ENVOY TO LITHUANIA ACCREDITED. US ambassador Darryl Johnson presented his credentials to Lithuanian Supreme Council Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis on 14April, according to RFE/RL Lithuanian Service reports. Since September 1991 Johnson had served as US chargé daffaires in Lithuania. (Dzintra Bungs) As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Carla Thorson & Louisa Vinton (END) NOTE: The RFE/RL Daily Report will not appear on 17 and 20 April, which are public holidays. 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