|Absence makes the heart grow fonder. -|
No. 77, 22 April 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR YELTSIN'S SPEECH CLOSES RUSSIAN CONGRESS. The sixth Russian Congress of People's Deputies ended on 21 April with a speech by President Yeltsin, covered by Radio Rossii and Russian TV. Yeltsin offered some major concessions to the Congress in connection with its ability to control the cabinet. Yeltsin said that the prime minister would be approved by parliament and that new candidates for ministerial posts would be discussed in the relevant committees and commissions. Yeltsin also noted his opposition to the disbandment of the Congress or the parliament and said that he would call for a referendum only if the Congress rejected the reformist course. The president repeatedly voiced profound concern over conservative attempts to set up a parallel structure of state power and also the open appeals by some deputies to seize power, even by armed rebellion. He added that attempts to revive the USSR are nothing other than an effort to establish a parallel power structure. (Julia Wishnevsky) DRAFT LAW ON THE CABINET OF MINISTERS. On the final day of the Congress (21 April), Yeltsin submitted a draft law on the cabinet to the Congress. According to Russian TV reports, the law specifies that the Russian president must propose his candidate for the post of prime minister to the parliament. In the event of parliamentary rejection of the nominee, the president would be entitled to appoint an acting prime minister for one year, or to perform the duty himself. Parliament Chairman Ruslan Khasbulatov, however, refused to distribute the draft among the deputies. The law must be approved by the parliament and it seems highly unlikely that parliament will agree to the above terms. (Julia Wishnevsky) REFERENCES TO USSR ELIMINATED? On 21 April, the Congress finally agreed to eliminate references to the Soviet Union from the Russian Constitution, according to Russian TV. However, three new articles to the Constitution were introduced which still contain references to Russia's willingness to form a "renewed union" with other republics. It took several days of difficult negotiating before the parliament's presidium could persuade deputies to vote for these changes. Dozens of earlier attempts to muster the necessary two-thirds majority had failed. (Julia Wishnevsky) OTHER BUSINESS AT THE CONGRESS. On 21 April, the Congress concluded its business with a discussion of problems in the Russian Far North, Russian media reported. A resolution "On the Defense of the Constitutional Structures of Power" attacking Gennadii Burbulis and other Yeltsin aides was also passed. The deputies confirmed the appointment of prominent jurist Veniamin Yakovlev, who had served in this capacity in the all-Union structure under Gorbachev, to the post of chairman of the Russian Federation's highest arbitration court. Following heated debate, the Congress deprived those deputies who have also been appointed to government posts of their parliamentary mandates. In conjunction with this constitutional provision, Yeltsin also accepted the resignation of Sergei Shakhrai as deputy prime minister, who had resigned in order to keep his parliamentary post. (Julia Wishnevsky) MOLDOVA ALARMED BY PRESSURE FROM RUSSIA. Reacting to the increasingly open political and military support from Russia to the self-styled "Dniester republic" in eastern Moldova, Moldovan President Mircea Snegur on 20 April cabled Russia'a Congress of People's Deputies an appeal against "intrusion in the domestic affairs of sovereign states." Snegur expressed concern that such intrusion "fans anti-Russian sentiment, setting other peoples, including the Moldovan people, against the Russian people. In these complicated times, we need restraint, balance, and correctness in interstate relations if we are to halt the spiral of tension," Snegur said in his cable as reported by Moldovapres. (Vladimir Socor) FURTHER ALARM SIGNALS FROM CHISINAU. Speaking at the oath-taking ceremony of the first battalion of the Moldovan army, Snegur expressed concern over "the strategic aspirations of left-wing forces" in Russia fanning the Dniester conflict and seeking to "drive a wedge between Moldova and Ukraine," Moldovapres reported on 19 April. On 20 April, Moldovan Prime Minister Valeriu Muravschi announced that Chisinau has cancelled the arrangements for hosting a high-level CIS meeting scheduled for 24 April, Moldovapres reported. (Vladimir Socor) "DNIESTER REPUBLIC" SETTING UP OWN "NATIONAL ARMY." Addressing an assembly of officers of Russia's 14th Army, headquartered in Tiraspol, the self-styled "Dniester republic" president, Igor Smirnov, announced the creation of a "national army" of the would-be republic, with an "initial" strength of 12,000, Western agencies reported on 20 April. That figure coincides with the manpower of the 14th Army on the left bank of the Dniester. Promising the officers a range of social benefits, Smirnov urged them to serve in the "Dniester republic's" army. The move looks like an attempt to place the 14th Army and its officer corps under "Dniester republic" authority. (Vladimir Socor) FLEET TALKS DELAYED. The inter-governmental talks between Russia and Ukraine concerning the former Soviet Black Sea Fleet--due to resume on 22 April--are now scheduled for 29-30 April. According to ITAR-TASS, Russian special envoy Yurii Dubinin told a 21 April press briefing at the Russian Foreign Ministry that there was no under-lying political reason for the postponement. He said that the change had been made so that the two sides could more carefully prepare their negotiating documents. While several sources named Dubinin as the leader of the Russian delegation, Interfax on 21 April announced that state legal adviser Sergei Shakhrai would head the 14-member delegation, which would include Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev and First Deputy Defense Minister Andrei Kokoshin. (Doug Clarke) SUB FOR SALE? Reuters reported on 21 April that the British publication Jane's Defence Weekly would reveal in its 25 April issue that the CIS has offered to sell to the United States a nuclear-powered Victor II attack submarine. Seven boats of this class were built between 1972 and 1978. Reuters also quoted a US Navy spokesman as denying the report. (Doug Clarke) MEMBERS OF RUSSIAN DEFENSE COMMISSION. Krasnaya zvezda of 14 April published the membership of the Russian State Commission for the Creation of a Russian Defense Ministry, created by Boris Yeltsin on 4 April. The Commission is chaired by Colonel General Dmitrii Volkogonov, military advisor to the Russian president, and the deputy chairmen are Colonel General Pavel Grachev (Russian first deputy defense minister), Army General Konstantin Kobets, and Yurii Skokov (Russian state advisor). As liberal critics have charged, the commission is dominated by senior military commanders--more than 20 out of a total of 36 members are uniformed officers holding the rank of Colonel General or above--including three top General Staff officers. (Stephen Foye) KAZAKH MILITARY COMMANDER NAMED. ITAR-TASS reported on 16 April that Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev has appointed Lieutenant General Anatolii Ryabtsev the first commander of Kazakhstan's armed forces. Ryabtsev, a Russian, is reportedly the commander of the Fortieth Army, currently based in Kazakhstan. (Stephen Foye) DRAFTEES CAN SERVE WHERE THEY WANT. The press center of the Siberian Military District has told RIA that, by order of the central military command, soldiers drafted this spring will be allowed to serve where they choose, Radio Rossii reported on 19 April. Servicemen who want to serve in dangerous areas must get the written permission of their parents and will be paid at higher levels than those not serving in such areas, the report said. (Stephen Foye) RUSSIAN PRIVATIZATION PROGRAM SPEEDED UP. Dmitri Vasiliev, a deputy chairman of the Russian State Property Committee, told a Moscow news conference on 16 April that the privatization process in the Russian Federation is to be accelerated, ITAR-TASS reported. This had been made possible by amendments to the privatization program by a joint government and parliament commission. Workers' collectives are to submit privatization plans before 1 September. AP of the same date quotes Vasiliev as saying that up to 85-90% of property would be sold for vouchers, leaving only 10-15% to be sold for cash. Employees would be able to own 51% of all stocks in an enterprise. (Keith Bush) STREET FOOD SALES BANNED IN MOSCOW. After recorded cases of botulism had increased by a factor of eight during the past year, and dysentery and gastric infections had spread, Moscow's chief sanitation officer banned street sales of most foodstuffs on 17 April, RIA reported. The ban applies to milk and other dairy products, meat, sausages, poultry, fish, canned food, and candies. (Keith Bush) COUNTERFEITING ON THE RISE IN RUSSIA. At a news conference on 14 April, an official of the Russian Ministry of the Interior said that "Russia's counterfeiting problem is small compared to Europe's, but the trend is growing here at an alarming rate," KrimPress-TASS reported. During the past five years, the authorities have confiscated about 40,000 rubles' worth of fake Russian money and about half a million dollars' worth of counterfeit foreign currency. Some 90% of the latter are dollar bills. (Keith Bush) RUSSIAN MECHANISM FOR TRADING WITH CIS. The Russian government has passed Resolution No. 221 establishing a mechanism for trade and economic cooperation with Commonwealth states for 1992, Interfax reported on 14 April. The document allows firms to sell their products to Commonwealth partners at free market prices and to carry out mutual transactions in rubles. It provides for the possibility of establishing regulated prices on shipments in the framework of intergovernmental agreements. The resolution also says that the volume of supplies not stipulated by intergovernmental agreements must be kept at a level of not less than 70% of shipments for 1991 to maintain economic ties with firms of CIS states. (Keith Bush) YAKUTIYA SEES FUTURE IN RUSSIAN FEDERATION. The president of Yakutiya, Mikhail Nikolaev, said on 15 April that Yakutiya was not trying to strengthen its sovereignty, as Tatarstan had done, ITAR-TASS reported. For Yakutiya it was not political but economic sovereignty that mattered, and that was why the republic had declared from the start that it would remain a subject of the Russian Federation. Nikolaev said that at the end of March Yakutiya had signed an agreement with Moscow under which the natural resources of Yakutiya could not be exploited without the permission of its government. Yakutiya now had the right to dispose independently of 20% of the gem diamonds and all the industrial diamonds mined on its territory. (Ann Sheehy) IN 1971: KGB ATTEMPTED TO ASSASSINATE SOLZHENITSYN. Western agencies on 20-21 April cited the Russian monthly newspaper, Sovershenno secretno (Top Secret), as saying that the KGB poisoned the author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in 1971. The story is based on an account from one member of a KGB team, Lt. Col. Boris Ivanov. According to Ivanov, the KGB followed Solzhenitsyn to the Southern Russian city of Novocherkassk, where the writer was poisoned as he stood in line at a food store on 8 August 1971. Ivanov said that Solzhenitsyn survived the attempt only because the dosage was not strong enough. In a letter to the monthly's editor, Solzhenitsyn confirmed the story, which was revealed for the first time on 23 March in an interview with cellist Mstislav Rostropovich and his wife Galina Vishnevskaya on Russian TV, close friends of the author.(Julia Wishnevsky) "TOP SECRET" DOCUMENTS: ZHDANOV, CHERNOBYL AND RAISA. The January issue of the journal Rodina contains a selection of materials from the Communist Party archives. These include a lengthy denunciation of a group of leading Russian writers sent in 1944 by the then KGB Minister, V.N. Merkulov, to Stalin's chief ideologist, Andrei Zhdanov. Another document, written by an unnamed Soviet journalist advised Raisa Gorbachev on how she should dress and behave during state visits abroad in order to counter her poor public image in Russia; this document was delivered to Gorbachev by the then director of the Novosti news agency Valentin Falin in 1987. Yet another publication contains previously top secret correspondence within the Gorbachev leadership on the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident. (Julia Wishnevsky) TAJIK DEMONSTRATORS TAKE PARLIAMENT DEPUTIES HOSTAGE. Talks in Dushanbe on the morning of 21 April between members of the parliament presidium and the opposition yielded an agreement that parliament would debate the opposition demands for the replacement of its speaker, Safarali Kendzhaev, and other members of the presidium. After the parliament voted not to replace Kendzhaev, however, demonstrators surrounding the parliament began forming armed groups, and members of the rebel national guard took several deputies hostage, Interfax reported. (Liz Fuller) KAZAKH TEACHERS AND DOCTORS PICKET PARLIAMENT BUILDING. Some 300 teachers and doctors began picketing the parliament building in Alma-Ata on 21 April to press for a debate, promised one month ago, on raising their salaries from 1,000 to at least 2,000 rubles, which they consider the minimum subsistence wage. The picketers also demand that the government provide housing, ITAR-TASS reported on 21 April. (Liz Fuller) UKRAINIAN CHURCH LEADER CONDEMNS RUSSIAN ORTHODOX PRESSURE. The head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Filaret, has publicly condemned the strong opposition from the recent assembly of Russian Orthodox bishops to grant autocephaly, or full canonical independence, to his supposedly autonomous church. According to Radio Ukraine of 15 April, Metropolitan Filaret, formerly known for his strong loyalty to the Moscow Patriarchate and opposition to Ukraine's "national" Ukrainian Catholic and Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Churches, deplored the "pressure" and threats to which he and the other Ukrainian representatives at the assembly had been subjected. He also told a press conference in Kiev that the assembly had forced him to issue a statement announcing his resignation but that he would not go along with this intimidation. The Moscow Patriarchate, he concluded, was under the influence of "forces who do not want Ukraine to have an independent Church." (Bohdan Nahaylo) JEWISH FEDERATION OF RUSSIA CREATED. The Congress of Jewish Communities of Russia in Nizhnyi Novgorod ended with the creation of a Jewish Federation of Russia, Radio Mayak reported on 15 April. The resolution of the Congress said that in future Russian (rossiiskie) Jews would decide all their problems in a centralized fashion through the board of the Federation. (Ann Sheehy) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE SERBS STEP UP ATTACKS ON SARAJEVO. International media reported on 21 April that Serbian forces attacked Sarajevo's police stations and shelled the television station, utilities, and the Muslim old town. On 22 April the BBC said that fighting had continued throughout the night and intensified at dawn. The New York Times noted that the Serbs have the city at their mercy because they hold the high ground and because the Muslims are totally outgunned. One Bosnian official said that the Serbs were trying to divide the capital, and on 18 April Bosnian Serbian leader Radovan Karadzic told The Guardian that "Sarajevo is very similar to Beirut. We need a map . . . as soon as possible." The 22 April Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported that Bosnian authorities have begun legal proceedings against Karadzic for having given the orders to Serbian forces to shell the city. (Patrick Moore) "SERBIA IS NOW THREATENED WITH INTERNATIONAL ISOLATION." This is the headline of the Frankfurt daily's story on diplomatic efforts in the United States and Europe to take Serbia to task for its aggression against Bosnia-Herzegovina. The paper added that, unlike during the Croatian crisis last year, Germany is no longer alone in criticizing Serbia but has been joined by Britain, France, and especially the US. The New York Times said that Serbia has rejected Western criticism, claiming that "Serbia has no territorial pretentions on others, and from the very start has been for a peaceful and legal solution to the Yugoslav crisis." In other developments, the Frankfurt paper reported that Portuguese diplomats meeting with the Greek and Macedonian foreign ministers over the weekend were unsuccessful in their attempts to persuade Athens to lift its veto of EC recognition of Skopje. (Patrick Moore) IS A SERBIAN UNIT FIGHTING ON THE CROATIAN SIDE? In a front-page story, the 21 April issue of Vjesnik said that a largely ethnic Serbian unit is fighting against the federal army and Serbian chetniks in Bosanski Brod. The Serbs appear to be mainly local people. The paper reported that Serbs, including deserters from the federal army, have fought in Croatian ranks since the start of the fighting, but this is the first time they have appeared together as a national unit. The reporter compared this group to the Italian anti-fascist brigades in the Balkans during World War II. The story has not been confirmed by other sources, however, and it is not clear how large the force is or exactly who its members are. (Patrick Moore) MOSLEM PARTY RULED LEGAL. Bulgaria's Constitutional Court rejected on 21 April a claim lodged by 93 deputies in the previous Grand National Assembly and later supported by 53 members of the current parliament to declare the mainly Moslem Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) as an anti-constitutional party and deprive the deputies elected from its list of their mandates. The ruling, reached in a split vote, has implicitly affirmed the MRF's legal status. The MRF has 23 deputies and is the third largest party in the parliament. (Rada Nikolaev) FORMER PRISON CAMP WARDERS ARRESTED. Three of the four defendants in the trial of the former warders of Bulgaria's notorious "camps of death" at Lovech and Skravena, two men and a woman, were arrested BTA reported on 20 April. The fourth defendant, former deputy minister of the interior Mircho Spasov, was not arrested because of his poor health. The two camps were maintained until 1962 but reports on extremely cruel treatment of prisoners, many of whom died there, surfaced only in early 1990. BTA said that the four had been indicted on the basis of the penal code in force at the time of their crimes. The defendants could receive sentences of 15 to 20 years or death. (Rada Nikolaev) PARLIAMENT PASSES STOCK EXCHANGE LAW. The Czechoslovak parliament on 21 April passed, by an overwhelming majority, a law clearing the way for the re-establishment of stock exchanges in Prague and Bratislava. The law calls for stock markets to be separate institutions supervised by the finance ministries in the Czech and Slovak Republics. Federal Finance Minister Vaclav Klaus told parliament the markets could open later this year, after further privatization of state-owned firms. He said by 1993 the country will have 2,000 to 3,000 joint stock companies worth about 33 billion crowns (about $1.1 billion). The law limits participation of foreign capital in the exchanges to 30%, CSTK reports. (Barbara Kroulik) JOB GUARANTEES FOR WOULD-BE ESTONIAN CITIZENS. The Estonian Supreme Council passed a law on 20 April making it easier for would-be citizens to retain their state sector jobs while their applications are being processed. According to BNS that day, the law allows people working in those public sector jobs requiring citizenship to keep their positions until 31 December 1993 if they submit applications for citizenship during this calendar year. (Riina Kionka) ESTONIA PREPARES FOR CURRENCY REFORM. The Estonian Currency Reform Bureau reports that preparations for currency reform are in high gear. According to BNS on 21 April, 21 local currency reform committees have been formed to compile lists of all permanent residents and foreigners who have lived in Estonian for at least one year. The deadline for the lists is 30 April, and residents must recheck their names and data on the lists by 15 May. Supreme Council forces have also decided to use the currency reform lists to compile a master list of those eligible to vote in Estonia's upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections and constitution referendum. (Riina Kionka) SWEDISH ROYALTY IN TALLINN. Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia will arrive in Tallinn on 22 April, ETA reports. The royal couple will meet with Chairman of the Supreme Council Arnold Ruutel, Prime Minister Tiit Vahi, and will tour Estonia. (Riina Kionka) HUNGARIAN DIPLOMATS TO LEAVE LIBYA. Following Hungary's demand, in line with the UN sanctions against Libya, for the recall of 5 of Libya's 14 diplomats in Budapest, the Libyan Foreign Ministry announced on April 16 expulsion of an unspecified number of Hungarian diplomats. On April 20, MTI reported that the exact number of those expelled was still not known; there had been three Hungarian diplomats stationed in Tripoli. Of the 550 Hungarians working in Libya, about 50 have opted to leave the country and some have already arrived in Hungary. (Alfred Reisch) GOVERNMENT CRISIS IN LITHUANIA. On 21 April Lithuanian Deputy Prime Minister Zigmas Vaisvila and nine ministers submitted a statement to Lithuanian Supreme Council Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis, Radio Lithuania reported. The statement proposed that the parliament examine the different functions and responsibilities of the ministers and prime minister. They believe that Vagnorius should not issue decrees without first consulting them to help avoid their revocation by the parliament. Four ministers who support Vagnorius had previously submitted their resignations explaining that they could not "work fruitfully," but Vagnorius refused to accept them. (Saulius Girnius) SWEDEN PLEDGES CURRENCY SUPPORT FOR BALTIC STATES. On 21 April the Swedish Foreign Ministry outlined a one billion crown ($165 million) aid program for Eastern Europe, Reuters reports. 300 million crowns ($50 million) would be used in the 1992/93 budget year to back up the new currencies Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia plan to introduce this year. Ove Heyman, head of the ministry section supervising the aid stressed the importance of a successful launch, noting: "It is difficult to remake a failed currency reform." The aid program will be put to a vote in the Swedish parliament on 29 April. Heyman also noted that the issue of how to compensate Estonia and Lithuania for more than 4 tons of gold deposited in Sweden in 1939 and then sent to Moscow in 1940 would be resolved later in the week. (Saulius Girnius) SOROS VISIT TO LITHUANIA. On 21 April Prime Minister Vagnorius accepted an offer by US philanthropist George Soros to finance the sending of Lithuanian economists abroad for further studies, Radio Lithuania reports. The Soros Fund established a "Open Lithuania Foundation" in 1990, granting $300,000 in aid in 1991 and $1 million for 1992. (Saulius Girnius) PROGRESS IN POLISH-SOVIET MILITARY TALKS. Interviewed in Krasnaya Zvezda of 21 April, Russian First Deputy Defense Minister Pavel Grachev said that some progress was recently made on the financial issues related to the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Poland. According to Grachev out of the $400 million proceeds expected from the sales of the Soviet army real estate holdings in Poland a quarter will be handed over to Poland as compensation for environmental damage. The rest will be used for the construction of housing for the returning soldiers. (Roman Stefanowski) POLAND ASKS FOR EXTRADITION OF EMBEZZLER. Justice Ministry press spokesman Andrzej Cubala said on 21 April that Poland would ask the German authorities for the extradition of Lech Grobelny, arrested near Hanover on 17 April. Grobelny was accused of embezzling some $3.69 million entrusted to him in 1989 by investors promised high interest rates, Polish and Western media reported. Grobelny, a currency dealer and owner of a private bank, vanished in June 1990. He is apparently also wanted by the US authorities for financial irregularities. (Roman Stefanowski) KING MICHAEL TO SPEND EASTER IN ROMANIA. The press office of former King Michael I of Romania announced that the King accepted the invitation of the Archbishop Pimen of Suceava and Radauti to spend Easter in Romania. The Romanian Foreign Ministry has instructed the embassy in Berne to "immediately give an entry visa to Mr. Michael von Hohenzollern if he applies," Rompres reported. The former monarch tried to visit Romania at Christmas 1990, but was expelled shortly after landing with his family, despite having had valid travel documents. (Crisula Stefanescu) FORMER CEAUSESCU AIDE COMMITS SUICIDE. Ioan Totu, a Foreign Minister during Ceausescu's regime, hanged himself at his home in the night of 20 April, shortly after being sentenced to a 16-year jail term for his part in trying to stop the 1989 revolution, Romanian and foreign media reported on April 21. The Supreme Court sentenced Totu and 20 other former high officials to prison terms ranging from 8 to 16 years. (Crisula Stefanescu) GENSCHER'S VISIT TO BUCHAREST. German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher on 21 April in Bucharest signed a treaty of Romanian-German Friendship and Cooperation. He said that the treaty, which guarantees the rights of the German minority, would make an important contribution to the development of German-Romanian relations and pledged Bonn's support for Romanian association with the European Community. During his stay in Bucharest Genscher had meetings with President Ion Iliescu, Prime Minister Theodor Stolojan, and representatives of Romania's ethnic German community, local and foreign media reported on 21 April. (Crisula Stefanescu) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Carla Thorson & Jan de Weydenthal 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.