|When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain|
No. 87, 07 May 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR TAJIK OPPOSITION GAINS UPPER HAND? The situation in the Tajik capital, including the whereabouts of President Rakhman Nabiev, remains unclear, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 May. Several domestic and Western agencies have reported that government and opposition forces are negotiating an agreement on the creation of a coalition government that would include representatives from the opposition. On 6 May, the opposition was reported to have gained control of most of the city of Dushanbe, including the residence of the president. The parliament building, where Nabiev was said to have sought refuge, and the state radio remained in government hands. According to some reports, members of the new National Guard killed at least 14 opposition supporters, and the commander of the armed forces in Tajikistan has gone over to the opposition. (Bess Brown) CRIMEA TO REMAIN PART OF UKRAINE? On 6 May, the Crimean parliament approved by a large majority an amendment to its constitution stating that the peninsula is part of Ukraine, Western agencies reported. It goes on to say that Crimea determines its relations with Ukraine on the basis of treaties and agreements. The day before, the parliament declared Crimea's independence (samostoyatelnost), but in a form that stopped short of severing all ties to Kiev. The independence declaration is to be put to a referendum vote scheduled for 2 August. (Roman Solchanyk) CRIMEAN REFERENDUM ASKS TWO QUESTIONS. On 2 August, the Crimeans will be asked to respond to two questions, according to Radio Mayak. In addition to being asked whether or not they approve of the independence declaration adopted on 5 May, voters will also decide on whether they support a fully independent Crimea "in union with other states." The latter question was formulated by the Republican Movement of the Crimea (RDK), which favors the peninsula's secession from Ukraine and its return to Russia. (Roman Solchanyk) REACTION TO CRIMEAN INDEPENDENCE IN KIEV. Crimea's declaration of independence has evoked a strong reaction from the Ukrainian capital, Radio Ukraine and Western agencies reported. On 6 May the situation in Crimea was discussed by the Presidium of Ukraine's parliament, which asserted that the declaration was in contravention of the recently enacted Ukrainian law defining the status of the peninsula. It was decided to discuss the situation at a meeting of the full parliament. The Committee on Nationalities Affairs of the Cabinet of Ministers characterized the declaration as an encroach-ment on Ukraine's territorial integrity and a violation of the Ukrainian constitution. The Crimean declaration was also condemned by a rally in Kiev attended by some 5,000 people, which was organized by "Rukh" and a group supporting Ukraine's 1990 declaration of sovereignty. (Roman Solchanyk) BUSH-KRAVCHUK TALKS. US President George Bush and Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk held talks at the White House on 6 May and later signed several agreements on trade, investment, and US Peace Corps programs in Ukraine, Western agencies reported. The accords are seen as providing a basis for closer economic ties between the two countries. Under the trade pact, the United States will extend most-favored-nation status to Ukraine; the investment agreement provides guarantees to US businesses seeking to invest in the country. The Ukrainian president also visited the presidential retreat at Camp David. (Roman Solchanyk) YELTSIN CHAIRS TALKS ON MILITARY DOCTRINE. According to ITAR-TASS, on 6 May, Russian President Boris Yeltsin chaired a government session devoted to discussion of Russia's military doctrine, the formation of Russia's armed forces, and military procurement plans for 1993. Further details were not provided. (Stephen Foye) PARLIAMENTARIAN HITS MILITARY SPENDING. The chairman of the Russian parliamentary budget commission, Aleksandr Pochinok, on 6 May criticized the defense spending plans of the Yeltsin government, ITAR-TASS reported. Pochinok suggested that Yeltsin has been persuaded to continue funding for a number of high-cost military production programs, including the construction of more nuclear powered submarines. In the context of impending military manpower reductions and the difficulties faced by the Russian government in even meeting the payroll of troops currently in service, Pochinok asked where the government expected to find money to finance such weapons' procurements. (Stephen Foye) AGREEMENT REACHED ON CIS TROOP WITHDRAWAL FROM AZERBAIJAN. Interfax on 6 May quoted Azerbaijani Minister of Defense Rahim Kaziev as stating that an agreement has been reached on the withdrawal of all CIS troops from Azerbaijan over a period of two years, beginning next month. The agreement guarantees the rights of soldiers who decide to continue their service in Azerbaijan. (Liz Fuller) RUSSIAN MEDICAL WORKERS' STRIKE INTENSIFIES. The two-week-old strike by Russian medical workers has entered a new phase with doctors and nurses in some Moscow hospitals refusing to treat patients except in emergency cases, Western and Russian agencies reported on 5 May. The protest over salaries and funding for the health-care system began with picketing and doctors refusing to issue prescriptions in many Russian cities. The current actions are preventing many patients from receiving "optional surgery," and the doctors are reportedly threatening to withhold even emergency treatment beginning on 12 May. Moscow ambulance drivers have also vowed to stop working on 12 May if the dispute is not settled. (Carla Thorson) RUBLE SCAM INVESTIGATION. The investigation by Kroll Associates into the large sums of money that were spirited out of the former USSR is continuing, Radio Rossii reported on 4 May, citing a Radio Canada interview. AP also carried an interview with Jules Kroll. The firm has reportedly uncovered "hundreds" of bank accounts in foreign countries where party and government officials and joint ventures have stashed away considerable fortunes. Kroll declined to put a figure on the sum involved, but Radio Rossii repeated the popular estimate of around $100 billion. [The convertible currency debt of the former USSR was estimated to be $65 billion.] (Keith Bush) RUSSIAN KGB'S AIMS. Sergei Stepashin, Russian deputy minister of security, told Rossiiskaya tribuna on 17 April that a democratic Russia needs strong and effective state security organs. He asserted that the West is not interested in a strong Russian state and therefore continues hostile actions against Russia. Moreover, Russia is prepared to direct its intelligence activities against other CIS states if these countries threaten Russia's security interests. Stepashin also noted that the main aim of the Russian security service is to defend individual rights to private property, but he noted that older KGB employees have difficulty accepting that individual rights must be protected in the same way as state interests had been in the past. (Alexander Rahr) FORTHCOMING DECREES ON RUSSIAN COSSACKS. State Counsellor Sergei Shakhrai has told Izvestiya that at the end of May a number of decrees will be issued by the Russian president and parliament regulating various aspects of the life of Russian Cossacks, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 May. Shakhrai, who heads the government commission drawing up the draft law "On the rehabilitation of the Cossacks," said that the decrees envisage the creation of Cossack regiments in the new Russian army and restoring traditional Cossack land use in areas of compact Cossack settlement--thus meeting two major Cossack demands. Shakhrai added that the measures would "neutralize efforts by certain forces to use the Cossack movement for their political aims," and would turn the Cossacks into allies of the president and government. (Ann Sheehy) YELTSIN TOURS THE TRETYAKOV GALLERY. During his visit to the Tretyakov gallery on 4 May, President Yeltsin announced that $15 million had been allocated to resume the restoration of the greatest Moscow museum of Russian art. Work on the gallery began in the late 1980s, when Yeltsin was the first secretary of the Moscow Party organization, but it was stopped last year for lack of funds. Russian TV viewers could see former USSR Minister of Culture Nikolai Gubenko in the crowd that accompanied Yeltsin, rather than the current Russian minister, Evgenii Sidorov. (Julia Wishnevsky) THREE BELARUSIAN PARTIES FORM COALITION. Belta-TASS on 6 May announced the forma-tion of a coalition between the National-Democratic Party, the Peasant Party, and Christian Democratic Union of Belarus. In a declaration, the coalition said the three parties, which share the same goals, will coordinate their activities. (Kathy Mihalisko) "NO INCREASE" IN RADIATION IN GOMEL AREA. Efforts continue to extinguish wild fires that broke out earlier this week in Belarus' thirty-kilometer Chernobyl zone, provoking fears of a spread of radioactivity. Speaking on 6 May to Belta-TASS, however, Belarus' chief hydrometeorologist offered reassurances that no increase in the radiation level has been registered by the 52 control stations in the area. Thanks to low winds, radioactive particles have not spread beyond the zone, he added. (Kathy Mihalisko) PLACE NAMES IN TURKMENISTAN. Turkmen-press-TASS reported on 5 May that the Presidium of Turkmenistan's Supreme Soviet has issued a resolution instructing that place names in Turkmenistan shall be transliterated into Russian directly from Turkmen. The Russian versions of the towns of Tashauz and Chardzhou are to be written as Dashkhovuz and Chardzhev. Kushka, on the Afghan border, is to written Gushgy, and Turkmenistan's capital, Ashkhabad, is to be Ashgabat. (Bess Brown) MOLDOVAN ANTI-UNIONISTS FOR, PRO-UNIONISTS AGAINST REFERENDUM. Several hundred Moldovan policemen and volunteers fighting on the left bank of the Dniester have signed and publicized a petition for a referendum on the issue of Moldova's reunification with Romania. They oppose reunification and are confident that a referendum would bury the issue. The leaders of the Moldovan Popular Front, who advocate early reunification with Romania, appeared on Moldovan TV on 6 May to denounce the proposed referendum as inspired by the republican leadership which opposes reunification. At last count, only 46 Moldovan parliamentary deputies (comprising most of the Popular Front's parliamentary group), out of 366, support reunification, Rompres reported on 4 May. (Vladimir Socor) NEW RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH ABROAD OPENS IN MURMANSK. Radio Rossii reported on 29 April that a new parish of the Russian Orthodox Church abroad in Murmansk, which was registered already in January, has now begun its activities with a festive service. The parish has no church building yet and uses an apartment for CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UN ENVOY IN SARAJEVO. Radio Sarajevo and Western media report on 6 May that UN envoy Marrack Goulding and Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic were shot at by snipers as they were inspecting the damage in Sarajevo's historic Bascarsija district. They escaped uninjured. Goulding met with Muslim, Serb, and Croat representatives, later telling reporters that he doubts the warring parties have the political will to respect a long-term cease-fire that could pave the way for the deployment of UN peacekeeping troops. The latest cease-fire was for the most part holding in Sarajevo, giving the warring parties time to clear the streets of dead and wounded. Heavy fighting continued in western and northern Bosnia-Herzegovina. (Milan Andrejevich) INTERNATIONAL MEETINGS DISCUSS BOSNIA AND YUGOSLAVIA. The CSCE will resume talks on 7 May on whether Serbian-dominated new Yugoslavia should be excluded from membership. Portugal is suggesting a five-week membership suspension to give Yugoslavia time to meet CSCE conditions. US delegate John Kornblum called for immediate exclusion until there is unanimity among CSCE member states on whether Yugoslavia should be permitted to participate. He said that "further shock treatment" is needed in order to press Serbia into halting its aggression in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Bosnia's foreign minister Haris Silajdzic appealed to the CSCE for foreign military intervention, but that body has no mechanism for dispatching military forces. The EC is also holding Serbia primarily responsible for the fighting in Bosnia. At the EC-mediated conference on Yugoslavia in Brussels on 6 May, Serbia's President Slobodan Milosevic defended his government by denying that Serbia is responsible for the war in Bosnia. (Milan Andrejevich) SECRET DIVISION OF BOSNIA REACHED? Radovan Karadzic, President of the Serbian Democratic Party of Bosnia-Herzegovina, stated on Austrian TV on 6 May that he has reached agreement with representatives of Bosnia's Croatian Democratic Community on the division of Bosnia-Herzegovina into autonomous regions along ethnic lines. He said that a map of Bosnia-Herzegovina would be redrawn by 15 May. Karadzic did not name the Croat representatives, and Bosnian Muslims were apparently not included in the talks. Austrian TV said the meeting was held in secret in Graz. Radios Serbia, Croatia and Sarajevo made no mention of the talks last night. (Milan Andrejevich) POLISH FINANCE MINISTER RESIGNS. Andrzej Olechowski resigned his post on 6 May after the Sejm approved the Constitutional Tribunal's decision to render invalid two September 1991 laws that reduced state pensions and froze salaries of public employees. Reversing the law, Olechowski said, would add some $2.2 billion to the current $4.7 billion deficit, a sum just within the limit set by the IMF. An IMF team is now in Warsaw to negotiate the $2.5 billion credit package that was suspended last fall when Poland's former government failed to curb the soaring deficit. Olechowski will remain in the government in a caretaker capacity. His resignation will probably not directly affect the negotiations with the IMF but it certainly embarrasses the government in general. Spokesman Marcin Gugulski said, however, that the government will not resign "at least until the Sejm votes on the budget" now in the Sejm commissions. (Roman Stefanowski) TRILATERAL CONFERENCE. Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland agreed to submit a joint application for membership in the European Community. Czechoslovak President Vaclav Havel made the announcement to journalists after talks with Polish President Lech Walesa and Hungarian Prime Minister Jozsef Antall. Havel said the timing of their application will be established in later trilateral meetings and will also depend on talks with the EC. EC officials say it could take several years for the three to become full members. Havel, Antall, and Walesa called on the EC parliaments to ratify the association agreements before the end of 1992 so they can take effect by 1 January 1993. They also proposed informal talks before the July G-7 summit and spoke in favor of the creation of establishing peacekeeping forces under the auspices of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, CSTK and foreign media report. (Barbara Kroulik) DAM DISPUTE DELAYS CZECHOSLOVAK-HUNGARIAN TREATY. According to Czechoslovak Foreign Minister Jiri Dienstbier, the new bilateral state treaty with Hungary has been approved by both governments and only the time of its signature remains open, MTI reported on 6 May. Dienstbier admitted that the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros dam dispute had a "disturbing effect" on the signing of the treaty. Following his talks with EC Commission Vice Chairman Frans Andriessen in Prague, Slovak Prime Minister Jan Carnogursky said Czechoslovakia and Hungary have differing interpretations of the EC's conditions for the setting up with the EC of a trilateral committee to examine the issue: Prague says unilateral work on the dam does not violate these conditions while Budapest holds the opposite view. Carnogursky also expressed doubt that Hungary would accept any technical rulings on the dam from the EC. (Alfred Reisch) JESZENSZKY ON MINORITY RIGHTS. Hungarian Foreign Minister Geza Jeszenszky says that East Central European countries may need to adopt the Swiss governmental system of cantons to ensure that the rights of national and ethnic minorities are respected, an RFE/RL correspondent reports. Speaking in London at the Royal Institute of International Affairs on 6 May, Jeszenszky called for "collective" or group rights for minorities, which would entitle them to education in their mother tongue and to representation in the local and national governments. Jeszenszky also reiterated Hungary's support for the creation of a European "early warning system" to identify potential ethnic conflicts and to prevent the emergence of crises. (Edith Oltay) ROMANIAN OPPOSITION FAVORS CITIZENSHIP FOR MOLDOVANS. The Democratic Convention (DC) has come out in favor of granting Romanian citizenship to residents of the Republic of Moldova (about two-thirds of whom are Romanian-speakers) and to ethnic Romanians in areas now controlled by Ukraine. Radio Bucharest said on 4 May that the DC leaders have agreed on the text of the proposal and will submit it to parliament. (Crisula Stefanescu) LATVIAN RUBLE INTRODUCED. On 6 May Latvian Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis and Bank of Latvia president Einars Repse told Radio Riga that the Latvian ruble will be introduced on 7 May. The new currency will exist alongside the ex-USSR ruble in Latvia. It is being introduced because Latvia does not have enough bank notes to meet its financial obligations to its residents, a situation that has arisen because Russia has failed to honor its agreement to provide an adequate supply of banknotes. The Latvian ruble will serve as an interim currency until the lats is issued--possibly next spring. The exchange rate for the Latvian ruble to the ex-USSR ruble will be one to one. (Dzintra Bungs) ROMANIA FACES POLLUTION, . . . On 5 and 6 May the Ministry of the Environment reported that the rivers crossing the Jiu mining region and the industrial area around the city of Iasi are contaminated by toxic waste respectively 3 and 4.5 times the legal limits. In the mining areas of Baia Mare and Baia Sprie, rivers contain 2.5 times more copper and 4.5 times more manganese waste than permitted. The oil extracting areas in southern Moldavia are contaminated by petrochemical waste as high as 70-200 times the legal limits. Ammonia pollution in the Ialomita River and from the Sofret-Bacau and Azochim Piatra-Neamt plants is reported to be 2.5-10 times legal limits. (Mihai Sturdza) . . . INFLATION, AND UNEMPLOYMENT. Prime Minister Theodor Stolojan told the government on 6 May that it must take particular care in implementing the recent 25% slashing of subsidies on food staples, electricity, and essential services. Household power bills will jump by 600%. Butter will cost double, and bread, meat, and milk between 25% and 50% more. Annual inflation is already running at about 500%. Minimum salaries are slated to rise to 11,200 lei from 9,150 lei, and average monthly wages will increase to 21,840 lei (about $104) from 18,600 lei. In mid-April 570,000 persons (4.6% of the active population) were unemployed. By 6 May 116,000 of them had lost their unemployment benefits; another 73,000 Romanians were reportedly looking for a job without ever having been entitled to social benefits. Foreign and local media reported the story. (Mihai Sturdza) BULGARIA AND TURKEY SIGN BILATERAL TREATY. On 6 May in Ankara Turkey's prime minister Suleyman Demirel and his Bulgarian counterpart Filip Dimitrov signed an agreement on friendship, good neighborliness, cooperation, and security. Dimitrov, the highest-ranking Bulgarian visitor to Turkey since the mid-1980s, told a press conference that the accord signals an end to the tension between the two countries. The agreement is aimed at achieving a normalization of bilateral relations, which were severely damaged by Bulgaria's forced assimilation of ethnic Turks in 1984-89. Western agencies carried the story. (Kjell Engelbrekt) SHELOV-KOVEDYAEV IN TALLINN. On 6 May Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Fedor Shelov-Kovedyaev continued his tour of the Baltic States by visiting Estonia, ITAR-TASS reports. In talks with Estonian Supreme Council Chairman Arnold Ruutel and Prime Minister Tiit Vahi he said that it was impossible to comply with Estonian demands that former USSR troops be withdrawn from Estonia this year but he thinks they can only be removed by the end of 1997. He also said that the next meeting of Estonian and Russian delegations on the troop withdrawal will be held in Moscow later this month. (Saulius Girnius) LITHUANIA APPOINTS AMBASSADORS. On 6 May Lithuanian parliament press spokesman Audrius Azubalis announced the appointments of new ambassadors, Radio Lithuania reports. As ambassador to the Vatican, Kazys Lozoraitis will replace his brother Stasys, who will remain Lithuanian ambassador to the US. Ambassador to France Osvaldas Balakauskas was appointed envoy to Spain although he will continue to reside in Paris. Ambassadorial rank was also given to Algirdas Zemaitis, an official for many years at FAO headquarters in Rome. (Saulius Girnius) US AID TO RUSSIA TIED TO BALTIC WITHDRAWAL? On 6 May US Helsinki Commission Cochairman Senator Dennis DeConcini told a Senate hearing on aid to Russia that he and others will oppose any further aid unless it is directly linked to Russian policy toward the Baltic States, an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reports. In a letter circulated to senators, he wrote: "Although Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have regained their independence, over 100,000 troops of the former Soviet Union still occupy Baltic territory," continuing to hold maneuvers, artillery practice, and aircraft overflights "frequently neglecting to obtain permission or even inform the Baltic governments." He and three other senators are proposing an amendment to the president's aid package that would specify that Russia make "significant progress" toward removing the troops before any aid is sent. (Saulius Girnius) WALESA'S POPULARITY WANING. On 6 May PAP reported the outcome of a SONDA public opinion poll of 2628 people in 53 towns in 31 voivodships. It shows that only 34% of those asked would vote for Walesa if new presidential elections were to be held tomorrow. Only 14% of the respondents would vote for the current incumbent and 24% were not certain how they would vote. Some 24% said they would not vote at all. Asked about Walesa's performance as president, 6% assessed him as "very good," 11% as "good," 24% as "average," 26% as "bad," and 17% as "very bad." Sixteen percent of the respondents had no opinion on the matter. (Roman Stefanowski) NO DECREE ON EMPLOYMENT IN LATVIA OF FORMER KGB MEMBERS. On 6 May the Latvian Supreme Council addressed itself again to the decree proposed by Deputy Chairman Andrejs Krastins forbidding the employment of former KGB members in state institutions where security is required. The proposal, though approved by most of the deputies, failed to win the required majority for adoption. Krastins told BNS that day the proposal would be revised, possibly into a draft law, and offered again for consideration to the Supreme Council. (Dzintra Bungs) RENEWAL OF BULGARIAN RED CROSS ANNOUNCED. The Bulgarian Red Cross, its image tarnished in the totalitarian period, held its 58th congress on 28-29 April amid calls for a renewal. BTA said the congress approved a new set of statutes to restore the principles laid down when the organization was founded in 1885. A representative of the International Red Cross said its experts have analyzed the proposed new statutes and find them very democratic. Stoyan Staev, a professor of medicine, was elected chairman. (Rada Nikolaev) [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. 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