|If you wish to make an apple pie truly from scratch, you must first invent the universe. - Carl Sagan|
No. 85, 05 May 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR TENSE SITUATION IN TAJIKISTAN. On the night of 3 May, opposition demonstrators in Dushanbe tried to storm the residence of Tajik President Rakhman Nabiev, Domestic news agencies reported on 4 May. The president has reportedly been conducting talks with opposition leaders to try to defuse tensions in Dushanbe. Various reports indicated that the situation was becoming even more tense, with barricades being built and stories circulating about attempts to seize military weapons, though it was unclear whether these attempts were being attributed to government supporters, the opposition or both. (Bess Brown) BURBULIS PREDICTS CABINET CHANGES. Russian State Secretary Gennadii Burbulis was quoted by Interfax on 30 April as saying "dismissals and new appointments" may soon be made in Russia's defense, interior, and security ministries; he denied these would lead to any change in the strategy of the Yeltsin government. Meanwhile Vladimir Shumeiko, deputy chairman of the Russian Supreme Soviet, was quoted by ITAR-TASS on 1 May as calling for changes in the government's economic policy. Shumeiko, who is widely tipped to enter Yeltsin's cabinet, called for a reduction in the control exercised by the Ministry of Industry over firms and a corresponding increase in the independence of industrial managers. (Elizabeth Teague) RUSSIAN BUSINESSMEN CREATE NEW POLITICAL ORGANIZATION. A new organization, calling itself the "Union of Russia's Renewal," plans to hold its constituent congress at the end of May. Among the organizers is Aleksandr Vladislavlev, First Vice President of Russia's influential employers' association, the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. He told Interfax on 30 April that the new organization is dedicated to the introduction of a market economy and that it stands for "a strong state" able to provide the stable social environment and legal framework in which industrialists, farmers, scientists and engineers can prosper. (Elizabeth Teague) RUTSKOI: A CHALLENGE TO YELTSIN? The journal Novoe Vremya (no.11) published a detailed analysis of Russian Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi's political stance, portraying him as a man of firm democratic convictions, loyal to Yeltsin but at the same time striving to be an independent politician. He is also perceived as a man who is easily influenced, and the journal commentary noted that the military-industrial complex, national-patriots and former Communists are all competing for influence over Rutskoi. The article concludes that Rutskoi is preparing his own political program to challenge Yeltsin. (Alexander Rahr) NEO-BOLSHEVIK PARTY DENIES PLANNING COUP. Leaders of the Russian Communist Workers' Party, which claims 150,000 members, held a press conference in Moscow on 28 April to deny charges by Russia's Justice Ministry that the party is plotting the violent overthrow of the state, Sovetskaya Rossiya reported on 30 April. The charges arise out of the fact that the "emergency action program" adopted by the party in January of this year contained an appeal to "armed defenders of the homeland." Viktor Anpilov, leader of the "Working Russia" movement, told the press conference that his organization has begun collecting signatures to call for referendums: (1) to deprive Boris Yeltsin of the extraordinary powers parliament gave him last year and; (2) to recall Gavriil Popov from the post of Moscow mayor. (Elizabeth Teague) PEASANTS THREATEN STRIKE. In the wake of last month's refusal by the Sixth Congress of Russian People's Deputies to legalize the sale of land, the Peasant Party of Russia is going over to "open, nonviolent opposition," Radio Rossii reported on 4 May. The party will concentrate its efforts on the city of St. Petersburg where it will try to force hardline officials in the surrounding Leningrad Oblast to speed up the transfer of land to private farmers. On 25 May, the party will stage a 24-hour blockade and refuse to allow milk and meat supplies to enter St. Petersburg. If the Oblast Soviet still refuses to transfer land to private farmers, the party will cut off supplies for a 10-day period. (Elizabeth Teague) CENTRIFUGAL TENDENCIES IN RUSSIA. According to Radio Mayak of 1 May, leaders of the Republican Party of the Far East have appealed for the establishment of an independent Far Eastern Republic on Russia's Pacific seaboard. The call to separatism was published in the former Communist Party newspaper in Primorsky Krai and is said to be attracting the attention of the local procurator. On 28 April, Russian TV reported that a meeting of deputies to local Soviets in Chelyabinsk in central Russia attracted an audience 13,000 people. Organizers denied reports, however, that the purpose of this meeting was to call for the establishment of a separate Urals Republic and said only economic policy was discussed. (Elizabeth Teague) FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE COMPLAINS ABOUT WESTERN PRESSURE. The press spokesman of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Agency, Yurii Kobaladze, has criticized the West for attempts to force Russia to stop its intelligence activities abroad. He told Izvestiya on 4 May that many sensational revelations of alleged Russian industrial spying in the United States, France, and Belgium which recently appeared in the press were "forgeries." Meanwhile, he noted that the United States and France have not cut down their espionage activities in Russia. He also denied that the Russian Foreign Intelligence Agency was acting independently from the Russian Government. (Alexander Rahr) CIS COMMAND FACES DRAFT PROBLEMS. According to Komsomolskaya pravda of 25 April, the General Staff of the CIS central military command foresees an exacerbation of the army's already serious manpower shortages when the actual collection of conscripts begins on 15 May for this year's spring draft. The report states that because of various exceptions and deferments for education, health, and other reasons, only 28% of the total draft-age contingent is even available for service this year, and expected high rates of draft evasion will cut into the manpower pool even further. At the same time, virtually all the non-Russian CIS states are keeping all, or the vast majority, of their recruits at home. Even Chechnya and Tatarstan have reportedly decided not to send recruits beyond their own borders. (Stephen Foye) SURVEY OF SERVICEMEN. The Center for Military Sociological, Psychological, and Legal Research, attached to the CIS central military command, informed ITAR-TASS on 29 April of results from its latest survey on the attitudes of officers stationed in Russia toward the Russian reform program. The April survey reportedly showed that 66% of officers questioned favored enterprise privatization, 75% supported the sale and privatization of land, and 69% approved of housing privatization. However, a majority opposed price liberalization and privatization of state enterprises. A majority of officers apparently also favored the creation of a Russian army, but some 35% of those surveyed said they wanted to leave the armed forces in the next two years. Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi remains the most popular politician with a 48% approval rating; Boris Yeltsin came in second at 38%. (Stephen Foye) MILITARY DISTRICT COMMANDER REPLACED? According to a Postfactum dispatch on 1 May, unconfirmed reports indicate that the commander of the Far Eastern Military District, Colonel General Viktor Novozhilov, has been relieved of his command. Postfactum said that some reports attributed the dismissal to disagreements between Novozhilov and the CIS military leadership, while others suggested that he had mismanaged nuclear capable forces in the district. The latter sources claimed that Novozhilov has been replaced by Colonel General Viktor Chechevatov, formerly commander of the Kiev Military District. The Far Eastern command refused to confirm the personnel change. (Stephen Foye) RUSSIAN EXPORTS DROP. During the first quarter of 1992, Russian exports fell by nearly 20% while imports rose by 15%, according to Interfax of 4 May. The drop in exports was attributed to the new tax rates which left exporters with only 40% of their earnings against the 60% that previously obtained. The Interfax commentary asserted that it is now more advantageous for entrepreneurs to import goods, as domestic prices have practically risen to world levels in the wake of the January 1992 price liberalization. (Keith Bush) BLACK SEA AND AZOV SEA IN TROUBLE. Mikhail Vinogradov, deputy director of the Oceanology Institute in Moscow, told ITAR-TASS on 3 May that the Black Sea and the Azov Sea were on the brink of ecological catastrophe and required huge investments to avoid disaster. Vinogradov said that the Dniepr, Dnestr, and Danube rivers bring in millions of tons of industrial waste and pesticides each year to the two seas, while ships dump millions of tons of oil there. The fish catch has declined by one third in recent years. Vinogradov reckoned that the cost of cleaning up the seas would be in the billions of dollars. (Keith Bush) WILDFIRES IN CHERNOBYL-CONTAMINATED AREAS. ITAR-TASS on 4 May reported "massive outbreaks" of wildfire in areas contaminated by the Chernobyl accident. About 100 fires have been extinguished in the Gomel Oblast of Belarus alone during the previous two days. The fires were reported to be spreading radioactive substances to previously uncontaminated areas. (Keith Bush) RUSSIAN-INDIAN TRADE HALTED. Trade between Russia and India has been brought to a virtual halt, The Journal of Commerce reported on 1 May. Although the trade protocol between the two countries for 1992, which was signed in February, provided for trade to be conducted in rupees, both sides are now insisting on payment in dollars. (Keith Bush) CRIMEA AND THE REFERENDUM. The Crimean parliament will begin its session on 5 May to discuss whether or not a referendum should be held on the peninsula's status. The parliament's Presidium decided on 4 May that the question will be put before the deputies, Radio Ukraine reported. In the meantime, the Sevastopol City Council is preparing to hold its own debate on whether or not it will participate in such a referendum. The problem has arisen because Sevastopol's special status subordinates it directly to Kiev rather than to the Crimean authorities. (Roman Solchanyk) KRAVCHUK TO THE UNITED STATES. Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk is scheduled to arrive in Washington on 5 May as part of an official visit that will also take him to Houston, Philadelphia, and the state of Iowa. A major item on the agenda for the visit is the fate of Ukraine's nuclear arsenal. Kravchuk is expected to ask for international guarantees of Ukraine's security, which Washington and other Western capitals are reluctant to provide. The Ukrainian leader left for the United States from Ankara, where he had talks with Turkish leaders. (Roman Solchanyk) ARMENIANS ATTACK VILLAGES IN NAKHICHEVAN. Western agencies on 4 May quoted Azerbaijan Interior Ministry spokesmen and the chairman of the Nakhichevan parliament as claiming that Armenians had for the first time attacked villages in the Azerbaijani enclave of Nakhichevan, killing three people. Meanwhile the Nagorno-Karabakh capital of Stepanakert was reportedly subjected to artillery attack for the third consecutive day. Speaking at a news conference in Erevan on 4 May, the representative of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, Manvel Sarkisyan, argued that the interests of Karabakh have been poorly defended by Armenia, that it is crucial to extend international recognition to the NKR, and that the involvement of the CSCE in seeking a settlement is counter-productive, ITAR-TASS reported. (Liz Fuller) "DNIESTER" FACTORIES SAID TO START ADVANCED ARMS PRODUCTION. According to Russian reports cited by Moldovapres on 3 May, the self-styled "Dniester republic" has begun producing Alazan rockets and armored personnel carriers at factories in Tiraspol. Moldovan officials have told the RFE/RL Research Institute that the factories in question are unlikely to have such capabilities and that the reports are probably designed to serve as a cover for stepped-up transfers of such items to the "Dniester" forces by the Russian military. Moldova for its part has no arms industry. (Vladimir Socor) "DNIESTER" LEADERS TO HOST CIS-WIDE "WORKING PEOPLE'S" CONGRESS. The leadership of the "Dniester republic" has called an "extraordinary congress of working people," open to "workers and kolkhoz peasants" from all member states of CIS, to convene this month in the Dniester administrative center Tiraspol. One stated purpose of the congress is to mobilize CIS-wide support for the "Dniester republic" and promote its recognition by the CIS member states, TASS reported on 3 May. (Vladimir Socor) MOSCOW NAME-CHANGES CONTINUE. The Moscow authorities are continuing their campaign to strip Moscow's streets of their communist-era names and restore their pre-revolutionary identities. Radio Mayak noted on 28 April 1992 that "Pavlik Morozov Lane" has been renamed "Novovagyankovsky Lane" and will no longer bear the name of the boy hero who in 1932, at the age of 13, denounced his father as an enemy of the state and was murdered in retaliation by his uncle and grandfather. Under Stalin, Pavlik Morozov was held up as a model for Soviet children. In the 1980s, he was both denounced as a monster and lauded as a martyr by the liberal and conservative press respectively. (Elizabeth Teague) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE BOSNIA FIGHTING UPDATE. On 4 May Radio Sarajevo reported "all-out war" in Sarajevo. Mortar and artillery shells exploded at dawn and gunfire was reported throughout the city and surrounding hills. The radio said that a large number of dead and wounded have been lying in the streets since Sunday. On 4 May the Serb-dominated federal army took over the predominantly Muslim town of Doboj. Radio Serbia reports that Bosnian Muslim and Croatian paramilitary forces have completely cut off the town of Tuzla and have driven Serbs out of the town of Konjic and nearby villages. Federal warplanes also destroyed the last bridge linking the republic with Croatia, and 25 EC monitors have withdrawn from the Bosnian capital for safety. Bosnia's President Alija Izetbegovic has called for foreign intervention. The CSCE will hold a special session tomorrow on the crisis in Bosnia-Herzegovina. (Milan Andrejevich) FEDERAL OFFICIALS BLAME IZETBEGOVIC FOR VIOLENCE. Radios Serbia and Sarajevo report on 4 May that 171 federal army personnel captured by Muslim-Croat militia over last weekend's fighting have been released. Gen. Milutin Kukanjac, commander of the federal army's 2nd Military District in Sarajevo, accused Izetbegovic of breaking a UN-EC mediated agreement to allow safe passage of the army's command out of the city. Kukanjac said he believes that Izetbegovic was indirectly involved in the ambush on the convoy on Sunday, and the federal Presidency alleged that Izetbegovic's vehicle left the convoy moments before the ambush. Izebegovic has not yet replied. (Milan Andrejevich) FEDERAL ARMY TO BEGIN PARTIAL WITHDRAWAL. On 4 May Yugoslavia's Presidency ordered the withdrawal from Bosnia-Herzegovina within 15 days of federal army personnel and their families who are citizens of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The order does not apply to members of the military who are from Bosnia-Herzegovina. According to federal officials, about 60,000 federal troops are stationed in the republic and some 80% of federal troops are from Bosnia-Herzegovina; Bosnian officials say the latter figure is exaggerated and should be about 20%. (Milan Andrejevich) "VISEGRAD" SUMMIT BEGINS TODAY. According to Ivan Baba, Hungary's deputy secretary for foreign affairs, apart from the joint concluding statement on Wednesday, Budapest expects few concrete results from the Czechoslovak-Hungarian-Polish summit in Prague on 5-6 May, MTI reports. The emphasis will rather be on ideas about the integration of the Visegrad Three with Europe, with Hungary asking for inclusion in the EC coordinating mechanisms because of the slowness in ratifying the associate EC membership of the three countries. Baba also announced that in order not to burden the summit, neither Budapest nor Prague will raise the issue of the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros dam. (Alfred Reisch) WESTERN SPECIALISTS VISIT EX-SOVIET BASES IN LATVIA. Participants in the North Atlantic Assembly seminar "Stability and Security in the Baltic Region" visited two military bases near Riga, Radio Riga reports. The visit to Adazi took place on 28 April, and the visitors noted that efforts had been made to spruce up the base before their arrival--paint had not dried on some of the buildings--and to show only what the military wanted the visitors to see. The visit to the Bolderaja naval training base on 30 April revealed that there was little activity there. Base commander Donats Dargevics said that there were no Libyans at the base and that only a few foreign specialists (about 60 Iranians, according to Latvian Defense Ministry sources) were being trained there and 40-60 members of the Latvian naval academy. (Dzintra Bungs) TROOP WITHDRAWAL FROM LITHUANIA NOT BEFORE END OF 1997. On 4 May Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Fedor Shelov-Kovedyaev in an interview over Lithuanian television said that the withdrawal of former USSR troops from Lithuania could not be completed before the end of 1997 for purely economic reasons, Western agencies report. He noted that Russia has a severe shortage of housing for returning soldiers and suggested creating a "relocation fund" though he did not where the money might come from. He offered that the next round of talks on the troop withdrawal should be held in Moscow on 15-16 May, suggesting that the talks could last longer. His withdrawal timetable will clearly not be acceptable to Lithuania, which is holding a referendum on 14 June on the issue of demanding that the troops be withdrawn by the end of this year. (Saulius Girnius) RUSSIA-LITHUANIA ESTABLISH DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS. On 4 May Lithuanian Supreme Council Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis and Shelov-Kovedyaev also signed the ratification documents of a treaty establishing formal diplomatic relations between the two states, the RFE/RL Lithuanian Service reports. The establishment of a Russian embassy in Vilnius is expected to take at least several months. The head of the Russian troop withdrawal negotiating team, Viktor Isakov, rumored to be a candidate for the post of Russian ambassador to Lithuania, remained in Vilnius for further discussions and did not travel to Riga that evening with the rest of the Russian delegation. (Saulius Girnius) KLAUS CALLS CRITICISMS OF ARMS EXPORTS HYPOCRITICAL. Czechoslovak Finance Minister Vaclav Klaus said on 4 May that the West is being hypocritical when it criticizes Czechoslovakia for manufacturing and exporting arms. He noted that Western countries' arms exports greatly exceed those of Czechoslovakia and added that if any of those countries that have been critical were faced with the same economic circumstances as Czechoslovakia, they would declare the situation a world crisis, an RFE/RL correspondent reports. (Barbara Kroulik) KROON COIN TO REPLACE RUBLE. Estonia plans to start using one-kroon coins to replace 500- and 1,000-ruble banknotes, ETA reported on 4 May. Prime Minister Tiit Vahi told reporters that the coin would alleviate some of the monetary viscosity plaguing Estonia and would provide a kind of transitional currency until the ruble is fully eliminated at the end of May. (Riina Kionka) ROMANIAN BANK ALLOWS HARD CURRENCY ACCOUNTS. Governor Mugur Isarescu said on 4 May that the National Bank will allow Romanian companies to hold hard currency accounts and they will no longer be required to convert all hard currency into lei, Radio Bucharest reports. Isarescu expressed the hope that relaxed currency controls will encourage exports and accelerate economic reforms. (Crisula Stefanescu) USA WARNS POLAND ON TARIFFS. On 4 May Suzanne Lotarski, director of the US Commerce Department's Office of East Europe and CIS Affairs, told a Washington meeting of the Polish-US Trade and Economic Council that Polish-American trade could be "severely" affected unless Poland removes the 15-20% tariff advantage it now gives to West European goods. According to an RFE/RL Washington correspondent, Lotarski said that these tariffs, combined with the elimination of duties on some 1,600 EC products, puts American exporters at a severe disadvantage and jeopardizes more than $100 million in US exports to Poland, almost half the value of all US manufactured goods exported there. (Roman Stefanowski) HUNGARIAN COMPENSATION PROGRAM LAGGING. Processing of individual claims for compensation for property taken over by the communist regime has been proceeding slowly due to inadequate staffing, Tamas Sepsey, head of the Compensation Office, told MTI on 4 May. Only 1.5% of the 830,000 claimants have so far received compensation bonds. The situation is especially bad in provincial offices. Additional funds have been requested to increase the number of processors, failing which, Sepsey warns, completion of the first phase of the compensation program could last up to four years. (Karoly Okolicsanyi) POLAND LEGISLATES TO ELIMINATE SECURITY AGENTS. The Polish Interior Ministry has prepared three legal drafts aimed at eliminating former security agents from public service, PAP reported on 4 May. According to ministry press spokesman Tomasz Tywonek, the first draft law foresees voluntary verification procedures with the full cooperation and presence of the person involved. The second would eliminate from important public offices all former security employees. The third draft, already accepted by the Council of Ministers, deals with the protection of state secrets and calls for screening of all persons with access to such material. (Roman Stefanowski) ATANASOV TO REMAIN IN CUSTODY. After a hearing on 4 May, the Supreme Court ruled that former prime minister Georgi Atanasov and former economics minister Stoyan Ovcharov are to remain in custody, BTA reports. They were arrested on 24 April to await trial for misappropriating money from a fund for orphans. BTA reported that following the court ruling on 4 May Atanasov's wife, journalist Lyudmila Filipova, went on hunger strike in her home, and a group of intellectuals issued a protest against Atanasov's retention. Atanasov and Ovcharov are the first of 47 former officials expected to be tried for causing Bulgaria's economic disaster. Former party leader Todor Zhivkov will be tried for paying foreign currency into a Moscow fund for support of communist movements in capitalist countries. (Rada Nikolaev) PROTEST AGAINST CLUJ RESTRICTIONS ON PUBLIC GATHERINGS. The Human Rights League and the Helsinki Committee of Romania have protested against a decision by the Mayor of Cluj-Napoca, Gheorghe Funar (of the Romanians' National Unity Party) ordering that all public meetings in that city be registered with his office at least three days in advance. In a note sent to Rompres on 4 May, the two organizations call the ruling a flagrant breach of the constitution and a form of censorship and call for steps to be taken to reestablish the rights of citizens to gather peacefully. (Crisula Stefanescu) CZECHOSLOVAK DIPLOMATS RETURN FROM LIBYA. Two Czechoslovak diplomats ordered by Libya to leave the country returned to Prague, CSTK reported on 4 May. Their expulsion was in response to Czechoslovakia's restrictions on the Libyan military attache's activities and its demand that Libya reduce its diplomatic presence in the country. Prague's move is part of the UN sanctions against Libya that took effect last month. Seven Czechoslovak diplomats remain in Libya, including a military attache and an air attache. (Peter Matuska) HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER RETURNS FROM CHINA. After talks with Foreign Minister Qian Qichen and Premier Li Peng in Beijing and visits to Canton and Foshan, Geza Jeszenszky returned from his official visit to China, Radio Budapest reported on 3 May. Jeszenszky expressed the belief that political reforms would in time follow economic ones in China. He was not optimistic for the short-term prospects of Hungarian products in China. China, which is set to open a trade office soon in Budapest, is expected to do much better on the Hungarian market. (Alfred Reisch) CZECHOSLOVAKIA, SOUTH AFRICA SIGN COOPERATION PACT. On 4 May Czechoslovakia and South Africa signed two mutual cooperation agreements in Johannesburg. The accords are aimed at encouraging trade missions, promoting technology transfer, and establishing joint business ventures. Visiting Prime Minister Marian Calfa said he expects the accords to boost bilateral trade and urged South Africans to invest in Czechoslovakia, noting that his country has streamlined its trade laws to guarantee investors flexibility in transfer of their profits, an RFE/RL RIOTS IN THE BULGARIAN COUNTRYSIDE. Massive protests in many villages have been reported in the last several days against the amended law on agricultural land, passed on 20 March, and particularly against the "liquidation councils" appointed to dismantle collective farms and other structures of agricultural management. A major riot occurred on 28 April in Tsalapitsa, Plovdiv region, where villagers on strike for almost two weeks clashed with police. The daily press continues reporting protest actions from several other regions as well. A representative of the BSP admitted on TV on 30 April that it had circulated a pamphlet calling on farmers to oppose the liquidation councils. On 4 May BTA quoted a BSP call for the resignation of interior minister Yordan Sokolov and a new amendment of the land law. (Rada Nikolaev) NEW CITIZENS MOSTLY ETHNIC ESTONIANS. Nineteen people became Estonian citizens on 4 May under a special accelerated program, BNS reports. Applicants with special qualifications may be nominated at their work places for accelerated citizenship. In the first group was former chief architect of Tallinn, Dmitri Bruns, who was nominated by the Estonian Union of Architects. The remaining 18 naturalized citizens were local ethnic Estonians whose parents had not been citizens of the interwar republic. (Riina Kionka) [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
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