|The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper. - Eden Phillpotts|
No. 84, 04 May 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR YELTSIN MOVES AGAINST CONGRESS. Russian President Boris Yeltsin has called for a referendum on a new constitution which would abolish the Russian Congress of People's Deputies. In his speech to steel workers in Cherepovets, he said that one million signatures should be collected throughout the country in favor of holding the referendum, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 April. He added that the Congress has been a Communist invention and has now outlived its usefulness. Only a week before, Yeltsin had offered to cooperate with the Congress and asserted that he was against dissolving this body. He apparently changed his mind after three days of travelling and meeting with people in Northern Russia. (Alexander Rahr) GORBACHEV CRITICIZES YELTSIN. Ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev said before his visit to the United States that Yeltsin is pushing Russia too quickly toward reform and must slow down his course "if he is a realistic politician." Otherwise a wave of social explosions will "sweep him away." According to Western agencies on 30 April, Gorbachev did, however, admit that he had not pushed reforms quickly enough and had spent too much time trying to improve the system. He added that he wished he had moved faster to allow private ownership. Gorbachev also denied that he wants to return to politics. (Alexander Rahr) PRIMAKOV ON RUSSIAN FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE. Russian foreign intelligence chief Evgenii Primakov said during his visit to Sweden that the number of KGB agents in Russian embassies is being reduced. Western agencies quoted him as saying that his task is to protect Russia's interests "without seeking confrontation with other countries." When Swedish politicians complained to him about continued spying by the military intelligence service (GRU) in the West, he admitted that he had no control over the GRU since there was some rivalry between his agency and the GRU. (Alexander Rahr) SHAPOSHNIKOV ON CIS PROBLEMS. Marshal Evgenii Shaposhnikov, commander in chief of CIS military forces, said in Moskovskie novosti on 3 May that while he originally advocated retaining unified forces in the CIS, he now supports the late decision by Russia to create its own army. In other comments, Shaposhnikov complained that various CIS governmental agencies often failed to cooperate with the armed forces, but said that he had received unwavering support from Boris Yeltsin and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev. He was also harshly critical of developments in the Baltic republics, lashing out at Baltic leaders for the arrest of a Navy officer and for demanding a quick military withdrawal from the region. (Stephen Foye) RUSSIANS PEDDLE ARMS IN MIDDLE EAST. IDF Radio out of Tel Aviv reported on 30 April that Russian Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi had visited the Israeli Aircraft Industries earlier that day and had suggested increased cooperation with Russian military aircraft producers. Rutskoi reportedly scheduled a meeting in two weeks time at the Sukhoi production plants with an Israeli representative. Western reports out of Abu Dhabi on 30 April, meanwhile, said that two Russian delegations, one from the Russian Air Force and one from the Defense Ministry, have visited the United Arab Emirates in recent days as part of determined effort to sell arms to Middle Eastern countries. (Stephen Foye) MILITARY EXPERTS OUT OF LIBYA. An airlift home of hundreds of military experts from Russia and the other CIS states currently in Libya will begin this week, Reuters reported on 4 May. A Russian embassy spokesman said that all the experts, as well as family members, are expected to be out of Libya within two weeks. (Stephen Foye) MAY DAY CELEBRATIONS IN RUSSIA. On 1 May, Russia held its first May Day celebrations since the collapse of the Soviet Union, replacing the traditional parade with a giant Moscow party for orphans, the Russian media reported. Meanwhile, about 20,000 Communist supporters gathered near the Lenin statue in October Square in Moscow to protest against Yeltsin's policies. They then marched to Red Square, carrying portraits of Lenin and Stalin. The media also reported that in some other Russian Federation cities, including Khabarovsk and Petropavlovsk, pro- and anti-government demonstrations took place. (Vera Tolz) RUSSIAN PRICE RISES. Russian Economics Minister Andrei Nechaev told a news conference in Boston that energy prices in Russia are expected to rise by 50-70% on 10 May, Reuters reported on 1 May. He also said that the ruble should be convertible by early 1993. ITAR-TASS reported on 1 May that the prices of water, gas, and electricity are to be doubled in Moscow starting on 4 May. (Keith Bush) CHELYABINSK-RUSSIAN BUDGET CRISIS. In a move that is reminiscent of the Soviet fiscal federal crisis of 1990-91, Chelyabinsk has announced its intention to suspend payments into the federal (Russian) budget. The reason for the ultimatum is that Moscow has not been able to supply Chelyabinsk with the necessary amounts of cash. Arrears in the oblast on pension and wage payments total some 3 billion rubles, according to ITAR-TASS of 29 April. That figure is expected to grow to 5 billion rubles in May. On a more individual level, many industrial workers in the area are not showing up for work. Although fiscal federal relations within Russia have so far been manageable, political protests such as that in Chelyabinsk are bound to become more frequent (and problematic) as the macroeconomic imbalance in the country continues and grows. (John Tedstrom) BELARUSIAN REFERENDUM MIGHT TAKE PLACE. Speaking on 29 April at a press conference in Minsk, Belarusian parliamentary Chairman Stanislau Shushkevich said there may be no avoiding the holding of a national referendum on whether to call new elections to parliament now that over 400,000 signatures have been collected in favor of the proposed referendum, according to an RFE/RL correspondent's report. But he hinted that the ballot might present voters with a choice between the question that has been formulated by the Belarusian Popular Front and another proposal, which presumably will be backed by the incumbent authorities. Shushkevich has said in the past that he is opposed to the referendum. (Kathy Mihalisko) SPLIT IN UKRAINIAN REPUBLICAN PARTY. The Ukrainian Republican Party held its third congress in Kiev on 1-2 May, calling for Ukraine to leave the CIS, Radio Ukraine and Russian media reported. The congress also witnessed a formal split in the 12,000 strong organization, with supporters of the radical people's deputy, Stepan Khmara, leaving the party to form a new political grouping. People's Deputy Levko Lukyanenko, named Ukrainian ambassador to Canada, resigned from the party's leadership and was replaced by Mykhailo Horyn, an influential "Rukh" leader and supporter of President Leonid Kravchuk. (Roman Solchanyk) DEVELOPMENTS IN CRIMEA. A meeting of democratic forces in support of Crimea remaining within Ukraine was held on 2 May in Simferopol, Radio Ukraine reported. The meeting heard speakers urging the Crimean parliament, which opens on 5 May, to decide against holding a referendum on the peninsula's status. A resolution was adopted calling for the dissolution of the Crimean parliament should it opt for the referendum. According to Russian media, the meeting was poorly attended. (Roman Solchanyk) KRAVCHUK IN TURKEY. Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk arrived in Ankara on 3 May for a two-day official visit, ITAR-TASS and Western agencies reported. He met with Turkish Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel to discuss bilateral ties and regional and international issues. In February, Ukraine and Turkey initialed a Black Sea economic cooperation pact proposing the gradual elimination of trade barriers. Ukraine also wants to transform the Black Sea area into a nuclear-free zone. (Roman Solchanyk) GEORGIA SETS DATE FOR PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS. New parliamentary elections in Georgia will take place on 11 October, Interfax reported on 1 May; a date for local elections will be set later. Also on 1 May, the ruling Georgian State Council extended for another month the state of emergency and curfew introduced in early January prior to the ouster of President Zviad Gamsakhurdia, ITAR-TASS reported. (Liz Fuller) DRAFT PEACE SETTLEMENT REACHED ON SOUTH OSSETIA. On 2 May Russian TV carried a statement by Georgian Popular Front Chairman Nodar Natadze giving details of a draft agreement on resolving the ongoing conflict in South Ossetia, which has for three years campaigned to secede from Georgia. The agreement was reached during talks at a conference in Copenhagen on "Problems of National Minorities and National Conflicts in the Transcaucasus." It provides for the return of refugees and the lifting of transport blockades; its implementation will be monitored by representatives of the Georgian political organization, Charter 91, and the Ossetian Republican Party. (Liz Fuller) NEW DIPLOMATIC INITIATIVES ON NAGORNO-KARABAKH. A meeting of the CSCE's Committee of Senior Officials in Helsinki on 1 May decided to set up a mission to monitor a cease-fire in Nagorno-Karabakh as soon as an effective and durable cease-fire is reached. The size and composition of the mission will be decided later. IRNA reported on 3 May that Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan will meet in Tehran on 6-8 May with Azerbaijani acting President Yagub Mamedov for talks on the Karabakh conflict. Ter-Petrossyan will also open the new Armenian embassy in Tehran. (Liz Fuller) DEMIREL IN AZERBAIJAN. Arriving in Baku on 2 May on the final stop of his tour of the former Soviet Muslim republics, Turkish Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel called for a solution "based on justice and equal rights" to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, ITAR-TASS reported. At a subsequent private meeting with acting Azerbaijani President Yagub Mamedov, Demirel affirmed Turkey's readiness to channel private investment to Azerbaijan. Demirel also met with Abulfaz Elchibei, chairman of the Azerbaijan Popular Front; the two men agreed that international perceptions of Azerbaijan will depend largely on the democratic conduct of the presidential elections scheduled for 7 June, in which both Mamedov and Elchibei are candidates. (Liz Fuller) . . . AND IN CENTRAL ASIA. The Turkish Prime Minister wound up his visit to the Central Asian states with a stop in Turkmenistan on 1 and 2 May, Western and domestic agencies reported. He was scheduled to visit all five of the Central Asian states but cancelled the stop in Tajikistan because of political unrest there. In those countries he did visit, Demirel signed agreements on economic assistance and cooperation in trade, cultural and technical endeavors. Officials travelling with him said in Ashkhabad that Turkey wants to create a Turkic Council with the Central Asian states and Azerbaijan. (Bess Brown) SITUATION WORSENS IN TAJIKISTAN. Tajik President Rakhman Nabiev was empowered by Tajikistan's legislature to institute direct presidential rule on 30 April, Khovar-TASS reported on 1 May. On 2 May Nabiev ordered the creation of a National Guard that would answer to him directly. The same day, the chairman of the opposition Democratic Party was quoted by Interfax as saying that armed conflict between pro- and anti-government forces cannot be ruled out. On 3 May, ITAR-TASS reported that former Speaker of the Supreme Soviet Safarali Kenzhaev, forced out of office by the opposition in April, was restored to his parliamentary post, and opposition leaders refused to join a conciliation commission established a few days earlier. (Bess Brown) HELP FOR MEDIA IN UZBEKISTAN. Uzbek President Islam Karimov has signed a decree providing financial help for the country's information media, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 April. Among the measures to be taken are subsidies of 100 million rubles from the state budget, exemption from the value-added tax, favorable leases, and hard currency to enable media organizations to purchase new equipment. Similar measures were taken in Kazakhstan earlier in the month. (Bess Brown) MOLDOVA, TURKEY AGREE ON CULTURAL AID TO GAGAUZ. Returning from a visit to Turkey, Moldova's Parliament Chairman Alexandru Mosanu told Moldovapres and Nezavisimaya Gazeta on 27 and 29 April respectively, that the Turkish government was urging Moldova's Turkish-speaking Gagauz population to be "loyal and law-abiding citizens" of Moldova. Mosanu, along with Vladimir Kapanji, member of the Moldovan Parliament Presidium and the highest-ranking Gagauz politician, obtained Turkish pledges to conclude specific agreements with Moldova on cultural assistance to the Gagauz. The move should undercut the communist leaders of the self-styled "Gagauz republic" who promote continuing Russification of the Gagauz. (Vladimir Socor) MOLDOVA DISCUSSES MILITARY ASSISTANCE WITH SWITZERLAND. Moldova's Defense Minister, Lt. Gen.Ion Costas, met with the Swiss military attache in Moscow, Moldovapres reported on 30 April. The attache was cited as saying that Switzerland "intends to establish links between the military institutions of the two countries with a view to extending tangible assistance to Moldova in strengthening the defense capabilities of Moldova's military forces." (Vladimir Socor) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE BOSNIA FIGHTING RAGES ON. "The mindless war in Bosnia-Herzegovina is continuing" said Radio Sarajevo early on 4 May. The Bosnia capital was relatively quiet for several hours early this morning after a weekend of unprecedented violence. Many parts of the city were heavily damaged on Saturday by Serb militia forces in retaliation to an attack on a federal army barracks by Bosnian territorial defense forces. Gunfire resumed at dawn. Recriminations abound over who is responsible for the latest surge of warfare. One Belgrade radio report on 3 May quoted a Bosnian defense official as saying that 150 federal soldiers were killed. Serb paramilitary forces backed by the federal army also bombarded Mostar, causing extensive damage. (Milan Andrejevich) IZETBEGOVIC RELEASED, ARMY CONVOY AMBUSHED. On 2 May, Alija Izetbegovic was detained and held against his will by the federal army. The army said the Bosnian President was held for his own security when his plane landed at Sarajevo airport as he returned from inconclusive EC-sponsored peace talks on Bosnia-Herzegovina in Lisbon. Muslim and Croat militia surrounded federal army headquarters where Izetbegovic was being held. After 24 hours and following UN and EC intervention, Izetbegovic was released in exchange for guarantees that the federal army command personnel would be allowed safe passage out of Sarajevo under UN-EC supervision. Nonetheless, during the pullout the convoy came under fire and some deaths were reported. The federal army accused Izetbegovic and other top Bosnian officials of planning the ambush. EC envoy Colm Doyle told reporters that the incident raises questions whether Bosnia's Presidency has control over its own forces. Talks resume today between Izetbegovic and federal army officials at the UNPROFOR headquarters building. (Milan Andrejevich) GLIGOROV UNHAPPY WITH EC DECISION ON "MACEDONIA." Western media reported on 2 May that the EC foreign ministers, yielding to Greek demands, decided to recognize the independence of the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia only if the republic changes its name. President Kiro Gligorov of the Republic of Macedonia complained to reporters on the 3rd that "to barter the name of a state as a condition for its recognition" is unprecedented and violates the standards of international law. Greece argues that using a name other than Macedonia would help assure that the former Yugoslav Macedonian republic has no territorial pretensions on the northern Greek region of the same name. (Milan Andrejevich) HAVEL CONDEMNS NAMING ALLEGED StB AGENTS. On 3 May Czechoslovak President Vaclav Havel condemned last week's publication of the names of nearly 400 journalists alleged to have worked for the former secret police (StB), an RFE/RL correspondent reports. Havel called publication of the list "embarrassing and absurd" and said it was further evidence that the country has been unable to handle the issue of former StB collaborators in a "civilized and humane way." Havel also criticized the Czech government for planning a bill making it possible to publicly name tens of thousands of alleged StB agents and senior officials. He said such a list could contain errors and damage many lives. (Peter Matuska) BUSH PICKS NEW AMBASSADOR TO CZECHOSLOVAKIA. On 1 May the White House announced that Adrian Basora has been named to replace Shirley Temple Black as Ambassador to Czechoslovakia, Western agencies report. Currently a senior research associate at the Foreign Service Institute, Basora earlier served as Director of European and Soviet Affairs at the National Security Council and was Ambassador to France in the 1980s. His nomination must be approved by the Senate. (Peter Matuska) POLISH DEFENSE MINISTER INTERRUPTS HIS LEAVE. On forced leave since early April, when he accused some politicians of "fomenting intrigues to the detriment of the army and the country," Polish Defense Minister Jan Parys reiterated on 2 May that the country is under threat, Polish media report. Speaking to a group of supporters in Warsaw, Parys suggested the possibility of setting up state defense committees "in case the country finds itself without a budget, the government without authority, and the parliament without an election law." Commenting on Prime Minister Jan Olszewski's instruction to stay out of his office until a special investigation commission reports back, Parys said, "you may as well send on leave doctors who want to cure an illness." Olszewski has also instructed Parys to refrain from making any more public statements until further notice. (Roman Stefanowski) POLAND REOPENS IMF COOPERATION TALKS. An IMF delegation will meet today in Warsaw with Finance Minister Andrzej Olechowski to reopen credit talks suspended last fall when the Polish government failed to satisfy the IMF's request to curb the budget deficit. Polish media report that while the budget drawn up by the government appears to be acceptable to the IMF, it has not yet been approved by the Polish parliament. Further, while the Sejm Budget Commission still thinks that the actual deficit exceeds that foreseen in the budget, Olechowski said on 30 April that the latest measures taken assure that the deficit will be kept within limits. (Roman Stefanowski) HUNGARIAN-ROMANIAN TALKS. According to Theodor Melescanu, Romanian state secretary for foreign affairs, 80% of the bilateral state treaty with Hungary has been completed, but the problems remaining are "rather serious," Radio Budapest reported on 30 April. They include the question of Hungary's acceptance of the inviolability of the two countries' present border and a renunciation of any territorial claims against Romania. According to the Romanian, the many "negative elements" that have accumulated in bilateral relations make it difficult for Romania to make "an objective judgment" of the situation in every case. Following bilateral talks in Budapest, the two neighbors expect to sign an agreement concerning the expulsion of Hungarian and Romanian nationals living illegally in the other country. (Alfred Reisch) DEMONSTRATION AGAINST GABCIKOVO-NAGYMAROS DAM. One thousand persons took part in a demonstration organized in Budapest on 2 May by the Danube Circle and the Hungaria Green party, MTI reports. The demonstrators read appeals before the Austrian and Czechoslovak embassies and called for a boycott of Austrian products in protest against private Austrian bank loans to Slovakia to complete the project. The same evening, Prime Minister Jozsef Antall said on Hungarian TV that Hungarian-Czechoslovak differences over Gabcikovo cannot be allowed to imperil trilateral cooperation between Budapest, Warsaw, and Prague. Hungarian minister without portfolio Ferenc Madl told Magyar hirlap on 30 April that the dam dispute could endanger the bilateral state treaty between Hungary and Czechoslovakia should Prague make its signature contingent upon being allowed to complete the Danube dam project. (Alfred Reisch) CZECHOSLOVAKIA TO CUT ARMED FORCES. Defense Minister Lubos Dobrovsky said Czechoslovakia will reduce its armed forces from 135,000 to 90-100,000 men within five years. CSTK quoted his as saying cuts would commence after conscription is reduced next year to 12 months from the current 18 months. Under communist rule Czechoslovakia kept some 180,000 men under arms. (Peter Matuska) OFFICIAL PROTEST AGAINST NEW RUSSIAN TROOPS. On 30 April Lithuanian charge d'affaires in Russia Egidijus Bickauskas presented a formal protest to the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry about the dispatch of new Russian troops to Lithuania, the parliament Public Affairs Office in Vilnius reports. Bickauskas stressed that such unilateral actions can only complicate the negotiations about the withdrawal of former USSR troops from Lithuania and demanded the immediate departure of the new troops. Russian officials promised to inform the Russian government and officially reply to the protest note. (Saulius Girnius) HUNGARIAN-JAPANESE MILITARY TALKS. Miyashita Sohei, director-general of the Japanese Defense Agency, became the first Japanese defense official to visit East Central Europe when he held talks with his Hungarian counterpart Lajos Fur in Budapest, MTI announced on 1 May. The two sides expect to establish closer cooperation and exchange military attaches. (Alfred Reisch) HUNGARIAN FOREIGN TRADE SURPLUS. According to the Ministry of International Economic Relations, in the first quarter of 1992 Hungary achieved a $400 million foreign trade surplus, compared to a $100 million deficit in the same period of last year, MTI reported on 30 April. Exports amounted to $2.4 billion and imports to over $2 billion, a 13% increase and 10% decrease, respectively, compared to a year ago. (Alfred Reisch) HUNGARIAN UNEMPLOYMENT TO RISE. According to the Central Statistical Office, 421,000 persons, or 8.9% of the active population, were jobless in Hungary in the first quarter of the year, MTI reported on 30 April. On the other hand, the Labor Ministry reported 480,000 registered jobless and said it expects the number of the unemployed to rise to 700,000 by the end of the year. (Alfred Reisch) COUPONS ISSUED TO ALLEVIATE LITHUANIAN RUBLE SHORTAGE. On 1 May Lithuania began to issue a new set of coupons, commonly known as vagnorkas (in reference to the prime minister), that will serve as a temporary currency. Because the Russian Central Bank has not delivered sufficient quantities of rubles, many workers in Lithuania could not be paid. The coupons, intended to supplement regular ruble bills, will be issued in 200- and 500-unit denominations and will serve in the same way as rubles. (Saulius Girnius) ROMANIA BRACES FOR MORE PRICE INCREASES. Romanians face a series of big price increases on 4 May, when 25% of the state subsidies for a series of consumer products and services will be removed. In an interview broadcast on state television on 30 April, Premier Theodor Stolojan acknowledged that this will be a "very unpleasant measure" but an inevitable one. He urged workers and unions to support the move, adding that ending the subsidies will help crack down on corruption, speculative trading, and smuggling. Iacob Zelenco, the secretary of state in charge of prices, said the subsidies being removed are worth about $400 million. (Crisula Stefanescu) EXIMBANK CREDIT INSURANCE FOR ROMANIA. The US Export-Import Bank will make short-term credit insurance available for American exports to Romania, an RFE/RL correspondent reports. On 30 April a bank official explained that Bucharest stopped using credits for imports in the early 1980s, and the short-term credit insurance is the first step back towards eligibility for the bank's full range of export credits, financing, and insurance. (Crisula Stefanescu) BULGARIAN GAS PRICE INCREASES REVERSED. The 15-18% increases announced on 29 April and to have begun on 1 May, were repealed on the 30th as the government decided to postpone for one month planned customs rate. The revised price schedule shows the usual pattern of unchanged or slightly modified gas prices. Trud said on 1 May that since the beginning of the year not a single drop of the 3,000,000 tons of crude oil due from Russia under contract has been delivered. The paper predicted new, sharp price increases for fuel later. (Rada Nikolaev) RADIATION ACCIDENT IN BULGARIA. Strong radiation was reported on 29 April over an area limited to some 20-25 meters at the Redki Metali uranium processing plant at Buhovo. The accident was reported by BTA and the daily press two days later. Pieces of radioactive cobalt were spilled when a container was being loaded for transport. The pieces are reportedly being collected for disposal, and medical care will be provided for those involved in the spill and the cleanup. The media also reported on 1 May that the two 1,000-megawatt reactors of the Kozloduy nuclear power plant have been shut down, one for a scheduled three-month overhaul and in order to save fuel for the winter, and the other because of a failure which is expected to be repaired by noon on 4 May. Reuters quoted the director of the two units as saying that a leak of radioactive water was involved, but this was denied by 24 chasa on 4 May. (Rada Nikolaev) SHCHELOV-KOVEDYAEV TO LITHUANIA. On 4 May Russian Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Fedor Shchelov-Kovedyaev arrived in Vilnius, Radio Lithuania reports. He will hold talks with Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius and other top officials and present the ratification documents for the Lithuanian-Russian interstate treaty. After meeting with representatives of the Russian community in Lithuania, his delegation will fly to Riga in the evening. (Saulius Girnius) ROMAN ENDS US VISIT. Petre Roman, chairman of the National Salvation Front, and Caius Dragomir, NSF vice chairman, ended a two day-visit to Washington, Rompres reported on 2 May. In a short statement before departing, Roman expressed his satisfaction with the results of the meetings with US administration officials. (Crisula Stefanescu) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Carla Thorson & 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.