|In the effort to give good and comforting answers to the young questioners whom we love, we very often arrive at good and comforting answers for ourselves. - Ruth Goode|
No. 88, 08 May 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR OPPOSITION TAKES OVER IN DUSHANBE. Anti-government forces took control of Dushanbe on 7 May and formed a Revolutionary Council to govern Tajikistan. The announcement on Tajik radio, reported by Western correspondents in Dushanbe, said that the Council appealed for life in the city to return to normal. Apparently an agreement between the government and the opposition to set up a coalition government has fallen by the wayside. A Radio Rossii correspondent said that employees of the Tajik Ministry for National Security (former KGB) had told him that President Rakhman Nabiev was holed up in the ministry. Earlier in the day Nabiev revoked decrees establishing a state of emergency and creating a National Guard. (Bess Brown) EFFECT OF AFGHAN DEVELOPMENTS. Western and Moscow agencies, commenting on events in Tajikistan on 7 May, speculated on the effect the fall of the Communist government in Kabul had on events in Dushanbe. Correspondents in Dushanbe report that members of the opposition have denied that there was a direct connection between events in Kabul and in Dushanbe but admit that the mujahidin victory in Afghanistan had provided inspiration for anti-government forces in Tajikistan. One report quoted "Western diplomatic sources" as claiming that the Islamic Party, one of the members of the anti-government coalition, has received some weapons from Afghan fundamentalist leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. (Bess Brown) YELTSIN DECREE CREATES RUSSIAN ARMY. Russian President Boris Yeltsin on 7 May issued decrees ordering the creation of a separate Russian army with himself as commander in chief. While copies of the long-awaited decrees are not yet available, Western and Russian sources indicated that Russian First Deputy Defense Minister Pavel Grachev has been promoted to the rank of Army General, and has been made temporary commander of the Russian army. Grachev, a 44-year-old former paratroop commander who distinguished himself during the August attempted coup, has reportedly been given a month to prepare an organizational plan for the Russian armed forces, their financing, and the creation of a defense ministry. Related reports indicated that the Russian army would eventually be cut to 1.5 million men or less. (Stephen Foye) RELATIONSHIP TO CIS FORCES? While the future relationship of the Russian command to the CIS central military command remains unclear, ITAR-TASS reported that, at least for the time being, leadership of the Russian armed forces would continue to be exercised through the former USSR Defense Ministry and General Staff. At the same time, the joint CIS military command over strategic forces, commanded by Marshal Evgenii Shaposhnikov, will be maintained. According to an ITAR-TASS summary of an interview given by Shaposhnikov to Izvestiya on 7 May, the CIS commander in chief claimed that CIS member states were on the verge of agreeing to "an alliance of a new type," adding that neither Russia nor the other CIS states can do without a treaty on collective security. (Stephen Foye) KAZAKHSTAN TO HAVE DEFENSE MINISTRY. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev issued a decree transforming Kazakhstan's State Defense Committee into a ministry, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 May. Committee chairman Sagadat Nurmagambetov was appointed minister of defense. The change was motivated, according to the decree, by Kazakhstan's need to protect its "sovereign right to security" and its territorial integrity. (Bess Brown) STORM CLOUDS ON THE HORIZON? The Washington Post reported on 8 May that Nezavisimaya gazeta had carried an interview that same day with Colonel General Leontii Kuznetsov, a deputy chief of the CIS General Staff. In it, Kuznetsov reportedly warned that Russia was only inheriting the scattered remains of what once was the most powerful military force on the Eurasian continent, and that Ukraine now enjoyed a significant advantage in conventional forces in Europe. He also warned that reductions in Russian military manpower should be gradual, and that a two-million man army should be maintained at least until 1995 to avoid the decimation of military units and problems associated with massive discharges. (Stephen Foye) KRAVCHUK ON UKRAINIAN-RUSSIAN RELATIONS. Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk on 7 May held a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington on the results of his talks with President George Bush and senior US officials, ITAR-TASS reported. Responding to a question about relations with Russia, Kravchuk said that Russian President Boris Yeltsin understands that there can be no return to the empire. Nonetheless, he noted, certain political circles in Russia continue to make territorial claims on Ukraine. Kiev, said Kravchuk, wants a fair division of assets of the former Soviet Union. (Roman Solchanyk) AGREEMENT REACHED IN ARMENIAN-AZERBAIJANI PEACE TALKS. Five hours of somewhat strained negotiations in Tehran on 7 May chaired by Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani ended in the signing by Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan and acting Azerbaijani President Yagub Mamedov of an agreement on a stage-by-stage resolution to the Karabakh conflict, ITAR-TASS reported. Unconfirmed reports say the agreement calls for a permanent cease-fire the stationing of foreign observers in the region, the unblocking of roads, an exchange of prisoners, and unspecified measures to improve relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan. No direct representative of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic participated in the talks, and it is not clear whether the government of the NKR considers itself bound by the agreement. (Liz Fuller) TURKEY EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER NAKHICHEVAN FIGHTING. A Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman expressed concern on 7 May over ongoing clashes in the Azerbaijani enclave of Nakhichevan, which has a 12 km border with Turkey, and said that Turkish Foreign Minister Hikmet Cetin had discussed the situation with US Secretary of State Baker. Former Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit called for the dispatch of Turkish troops to fight Armenian forces in Nakhichevan before the situation is aggravated, Western agencies reported from Ankara. (Liz Fuller) SHAKHRAI'S RESIGNATION REPORTED. On 7 May, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported that State Counsellor of the Russian Federation Sergei Shakhrai had submitted his resignation to Boris Yeltsin. The official explanation was Shakhrai's reported physical and psychological exhaustion. ITAR-TASS added, however, that some people "close to Shakhrai" said that, in fact, Shakhrai's resignation was prompted by "disagreements over future strategy for reforms with some other close associates of the president." The agency also quoted Shakhrai as saying his resignation did not mean that he wanted to join the opposition to Yeltsin. In March, Shakhrai resigned his other government post--that of deputy prime minister. He is also a deputy in the Russian Congress of People's Deputies. (Vera Tolz) BURBULIS FOR DISSOLUTION OF RUSSIAN CONGRESS. Russian State Secretary Gennadii Burbulis has repeated President Boris Yeltsin's calls for the dissolution of the present Congress of People's Deputies. Interfax on 6 May quoted him as saying that a referendum on the new constitution should be held in September or October of this year. He added that after the adoption of the constitution, "there will be no more Congress." He argued that Yeltsin's constitution was fully supported by the population and that there is no danger that Yeltsin might lose in a referendum vote. (Alexander Rahr) RUSSIAN COVERAGE OF GORBACHEV'S FULTON SPEECH. Unlike CNN's live coverage of Gorbachev's speech in Fulton, Missouri on 6 May, Russian TV newscasts the next day paid little attention to the proposals of the former USSR president and Nobel laureate. Gorbachev's proposal for establishing a global government was mentioned in the foreign news reports, and the coverage was generally positive, however. It should also be borne in mind that in pre-Gorbachev times, reporters would have been forbidden even to mention the name of a fallen leader. On the eve of Gorbachev's trip to the United States, the same TV anchors had hinted that the Russian leadership was jealous of Gorbachev's popularity in the West. (Julia Wishnevsky) SHAKHNAZAROV LIKELY AUTHOR OF GORBACHEV SPEECH. In Fulton, Gorbachev spoke of "the need for some kind of global government" and called for a strengthened UN Security Council to deal with "conflicts arising from apocalyptic nationalism." Striking parallels between Gorbachev's speech and an article by his close aide Georgii Shakhnazarov in Pravda on 15 January 1988, suggest that Shakhnazarov, who is often described as an architect of Gorbachev's "new political thinking" in foreign policy, played a role in drafting Gorbachev's latest speech too. (Elizabeth Teague) SHAKHNAZAROV/GORBACHEV DIFFERENCES. While there were parallels between Shakhnazarov's ideas and Gorbachev's, there were also differences. Gorbachev on 6 May blamed both the United States and the USSR for a post-war failure of vision which led to Cold War. Had the superpowers "correlated their national interests," he said, today's world would be a better place. (Whether Communist Parties would still be in power in Eastern Europe and the USSR, or whether there would still be a USSR, Gorbachev did not speculate.) Shakhnazarov was more candid in his 1988 explanation of why the USSR in the post-war period did not support the idea of world government: he said it would have led to "world domination of American capital." Shakhnazarov went on to argue that world government was now a possibility because Japan and Western Europe were strong enough to prevent US supremacy. This argument is echoed in Gorbachev's 6 May proposal that Japan, Germany and India should become members of the UN Security Council. (Elizabeth Teague) RETAIL PRICES OF VODKA DECONTROLLED. The retail prices of vodka in Russia were freed on 7 May, ITAR-TASS reported. (The retail price of the most common varieties of vodka had been pegged at 50 rubles for half a liter excluding container charges). Vodka may henceforth be produced at any state-owned enterprise and not just at specifically authorized distilleries. The state has surrendered its monopoly over the production of wine and beer, but will continue to levy excise and value-added taxes on alcoholic beverages. (Keith Bush) MEDICAL WORKERS ASK FOR 1000% PAY RAISE. An official of the Russian health-care workers' union told a news conference in Moscow on 7 May that its members are demanding a ten-fold increase in salaries to keep pace with inflation, ITAR-TASS reported. The official cited a current minimum wage of 342 rubles a month for health workers [although this is due to rise to 900 rubles a month, effective 1 June]. The speaker did not expect the ongoing medical workers' strike to move to the third stage--that of withholding all medical care. (Keith Bush) TENGIZ AGREEMENT SIGNED. The Kazakh government and the Chevron Overseas Petroleum Company signed a joint venture agreement on 7 May to exploit the Tengiz oilfield, ITAR-TASS reported. The venture is to begin operations in 1993 and the agreement is valid for 40 years. The project was described as being export-oriented, with a pipeline being built from Tengiz to a Black Sea port. Chevron has been negotiating the deal for over three years, first with the central authorities in Moscow and, more recently, with the Kazakh government. It has been seen as a touchstone agreement for similar projects involving Western expertise and capital. (Keith Bush) EXIMBANK GUARANTEES FOR OIL SECTOR. The US Export-Import Bank announced on 7 May that it would guarantee loans for two Russian firms to import US oil equipment to the value of $90 million, Reuters reported. An official of the ExImBank was quoted as saying that a further $500 million to $1 billion in credits could be made available "for starters" to the Russian oil sector. The credits were the first from the ExImBank to the former USSR since 1974. (Keith Bush) ARMS SALES TO FINANCE CONVERSION. Addressing a news conference in Moscow on 7 May, Mikhail Malei, Russian presidential adviser on conversion, restated Russia's intention to finance conversion through the export of arms, Western agencies reported. Malei repeated his earlier estimate that $150 billion over 15 years will be needed for the task of conversion, and that this kind of money can only be earned from the sale abroad of Russian weapons and nuclear raw materials. (Keith Bush) INTEREST RATES TO BE RAISED. ITAR-TASS on 7 May reported that interest rates for private savers in Russia are to be raised by up to 50%, although it did not specify when these higher rates would come into effect. Russian savings banks have been offering rates of between 3% and 15% since January 1992. These have been negative interest rates, as inflation exceeded 400% during the first quarter of this year. (Keith Bush) CHERNOBYL-TYPE PLANTS TO CONTINUE OPERATING. Speaking at a nuclear safety seminar in Brussels on 7 May, Russian presidential adviser Evgenii Velikhov said that Russia's 11 RBMK reactors must continue operating, AP reported. A shutdown of the plants, according to Velikhov, would cause an immediate and radical slump in energy production with "tragic socio-economic consequences." (Keith Bush) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UPDATE ON SERB-CROAT AGREEMENT TO PARTITION BOSNIA. Radios Serbia and Croatia reported on 7 May that Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and Bosnian Croat leader Mate Boban, meeting in Graz, Austria, have agreed to a cease-fire in Bosnia-Herzegovina and said there are no reasons for the continuation of armed conflicts between Serbs and Croats in the republic. The meeting was first reported on Austrian TV on 6 May. In a six-point statement the leaders agreed that all controversial issues should be resolved through peaceful means, including what Radio Croatia described as "the delineation between Croat and Serb constituent units" in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Both sides said disagreements exist with regard to the drawing of borders between the two national communities, but pledged to honor the principles adopted at the EC-sponsored conference on Bosnia-Herzegovina in March. They also stressed that talks should be expanded to include Muslims, the republic's largest ethnic community. Radio Serbia said that Bosnian Serb leaders showed journalists a map indicating that Muslims would receive only one large area in northwestern Bosnia with Bihac as its capital. (Milan Andrejevich) REACTIONS TO THE AGREEMENT. Radio Sarajevo quotes Bosnian Muslim leaders as saying that they are opposed to any agreement between Serbs and Croats that draws up new administrative units in the republic. Serbia's President Slobodan Milosevic told Radio Serbia yesterday that the Serb-Croat agreement is a very positive development, but underscored that a political solution for Bosnia can only be achieved on the basis of a consensus among Muslims, Serbs, and Croats, adding that Yugoslavia would not support any agreement lacking a tripartite consensus. (Milan Andrejevich) BOSNIAN CEASE-FIRE SHATTERED, PEACE TALKS CONTINUE. Yugoslav area media report on 7 and 8 May that the latest cease-fire has been broken in several areas in Bosnia-Herzegovina. After two days of relative calm, Sarajevo was pounded by heavy artillery and mortar fire. Radio Serbia reports that the federal army has commenced its withdrawal from Bosnia-Herzegovina. UN envoy Marrack Goulding met with Milosevic and federal officials in Belgrade yesterday and told the BBC that all sides in the fighting have made mistakes that led to the violent breakup of Yugoslavia. Milosevic implied that Serbia shares the blame for the Bosnian conflict when he told reporters after the meeting that "no one is blameless in Bosnia; no side is innocent," an apparent modification of his position since he had said on 6 May that Serbia is not responsible for the situation. In Istanbul Bosnia's deputy prime minister Muhamed Cengic told a meeting of the Islamic Conference that Bosnia-Herzegovina is on the brink of famine and called on Muslim nations for aid. He described the fighting in his republic as "a war between good and evil." (Milan Andrejevich) ROMANIA RECOGNIZES YUGOSLAVIA. Romania recognized the transformation of the former Yugoslav Socialist Federal Republic into the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. A Foreign Ministry communique on 7 May said, however, that recognition does not imply that Romania is taking a position on the claim of the new republic to be the successor of former Yugoslavia nor on the status of other former Yugoslav territories already recognized as independent states or seeking recognition. Romania has recognized Slovenia and Croatia. (Mihai Sturdza) WALESA ADDRESSES SEJM ON POLAND'S CRISIS. President Lech Walesa addressed the Sejm on 8 May on Poland's economic and parliamentary crisis. Earlier he promised he would present a remedy for the governmental paralysis caused by a parliament divided among 29 parties. According to Bavarian Radio at noon CET, Walesa proposed constitutional changes that would create a stronger presidency on the model of the French system in which the president would appoint and dismiss the prime minister and cabinet subject to parliamentary approval. He is also expected to discuss the resignation of Finance Minister Andrzej Olechowski. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) IMF DELAYS DEAL WITH POLAND. On 7 May IMF representative Michel Deppler said that the resignation of Finance Minister Andrzej Olechowski will delay a new IMF agreement with Poland. He told PAP that negotiations will last longer than expected and a preliminary agreement planned for 12 May would be put off indefinitely. Deppler said the IMF is worried about Poland's ability to hold its budget deficit to an agreed $4.7 billion. Meanwhile, Olechowski, who has agreed to stay on as a caretaker, continues talks with IMF negotiators in Warsaw on renewing Warsaw's access to the suspended IMF aid package. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) STUDY PROPOSES CHANGES IN WESTERN AID. A task force organized by the private, New York-based Institute for East-West Studies released a report in Bonn on 7 May proposing major changes in Western aid programs for Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland. The group, chaired by former French premier Raymond Barre, proposes creation of a new assistance coordination council to be chaired by the European Community but also including the three East European countries. It recommends that more Western aid be provided in the form of grants and less as loans that must be repaid and calls for the opening of Western markets to Eastern goods. (Barbara Kroulik) BULGARIA AND EUROPE. At a ceremony in Stras-bourg on 7 May, Bulgaria was formally admitted to the Council of Europe. According to an RFE/RL correspondent, Foreign Minister Stoyan Ganev, on signing the instruments of accession, noted that the event marks "the first result of European magnitude" following the defeat of communism in last October's general elections. In a comment on Bulgarian TV, President Zhelyu Zhelev said he would not be surprised if Bulgaria could become associate member of the European Community (EC) by the end of 1992. Negotiations with the EC are expected to begin next week. (Kjell Engelbrekt) VISEGRAD SUMMIT UPDATE. The three Central European leaders meeting in Prague on 6 May discussed the creation of a new regional group to include the former Yugoslav republics and possibly Ukraine. The "Visegrad Three"--Czechoslovakia, Poland and Hungary--plus Austria, Italy, and the former Yugoslavia comprise the "Hexagonal" grouping, which, however, is moribund because of the disintegration of Yugoslavia. (Barbara Kroulik) BALTS SIGN EUROPEAN CULTURAL CONVENTION. On 7 May Estonian Foreign Minister Jaan Manitski, Latvian ambassador to France Aina Abols, and Lithuanian ambassador to the EC Adolfas Venskus signed the European Cultural Convention, an RFE/RL correspondent in Strasbourg reports. The signing moves the Baltic States a step closer to full membership in the Council of Europe. The three states already have guest status in the council's parliamentary assembly that allows them to participate in the assembly's debates and committee work without voting rights. They will now be able to participate in all intergovernmental activities in the fields of culture, education, youth, and sports sponsored by the council. (Saulius Girnius) BULGARIAN MINISTER OF CULTURE RESIGNS. Elka Konstantinova confirmed to journalists on 7 May a rumor leaked the previous day that she has submitted her resignation. She expressed her frustration at not being able to resolve problems of "dying" Bulgarian culture; she had complained earlier about insufficient funding for culture. Konstantinova also made it clear to BTA that as leader of the Radical Democratic Party she does not support Prime Minister Filip Dimitrov's recent call for the resignation of Defense Minister Dimitar Ludzhev, who she thinks is doing a fine job. These and other changes in the government are expected to be announced next week. (Rada Nikolaev) LATVIA ADOPTS LAW ON RADIO AND TV. The Latvian Supreme Council, after nearly two years of debate, adopted a law on radio and television on 6 May, Diena reports. The new law provides for the dissolution of the State Committee on Radio and Television and creation of separate administrative bodies for both radio and television. These new organizations will be answerable to the Supreme Council and their directors will be appointed by the council; nonetheless, the new law forbids the Supreme Council, government, and other state institutions from interfering in the work of radio and TV. The law also stipulates the creation of a Radio and Television Council to assign channels and frequencies. (Dzintra Bungs) HUNGARY TO CANCEL DAM TREATY WITH CZECHOSLOVAKIA. On 7 May the Hungarian government decided to cancel unilaterally the 1977 treaty with Czechoslovakia on the joint construction of the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros hydroelectric dam project, MTI reports. Minister without Portfolio Ferenc Madl told reporters that the cancellation will take effect on 25 May and that on 15 May Hungary plans to make a last attempt to convince the Czechoslovak side to suspend construction work until environmental effects can be assessed by international experts. Hungary suspended work on its part of the project in 1989 because of environmental concerns and warned earlier this year that it would cancel the treaty if Czechoslovakia continued construction work. (Edith Oltay) ROMANIAN MAGYAR LEADER TO QUIT. Geza Domokos, the moderate chairman of the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania since December 1989, announced on 7 May in Bucharest that he will not seek reelection at the organization's next congress after Romania's general elections this summer, Radio Budapest reports. Domokos, referring to his past membership in the Ceausescu-era nomenklatura (he was an alternate member of the Romanian CP central committee) and the state of his health, said he intends to make room for younger leaders. (Alfred Reisch) BOTH LITHUANIAN REFERENDUMS ON SAME DAY? In a speech broadcast by Radio Lithuania on 7 May Supreme Council Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis told parliament that the meeting of the parliament's presidium had discussed the idea of holding the two scheduled referendums on the same day, 6 June, in order to increase participation and save money. A referendum on presidential powers is scheduled to be held on 23 May and another--on the withdrawal in 1992 of the former USSR army--on 14 June. (Saulius Girnius) CONCERN ABOUT ROMANIAN ELECTIONS. Parliament voted on 7 May that parliamentary elections will take place in July on a date to be set by the government. The US-based International Human Rights Law Group has voiced concern about a provision in the election law that would reduce the number of election observers to one for each polling station. It also expressed concern about restrictions on freedom of assembly and expression in Cluj, where many ethnic Hungarians live; and the withdrawal of press credentials of Gilda Lazur, who has been critical of President Iliescu. The umbrella Democratic Convention, uniting almost all opposition parties, said the election law hampers fair representation and does not prevent the candidacy of former leading communists. Local and foreign media carried the stories. (Mihai Sturdza) K-MART BUYS PRAGUE DEPARTMENT STORE. The US K-Mart Corporation purchased the Maj department store in Prague. K-Mart chairman Joseph Antonini announced the purchase at a news conference in Washington on 7 May together with Tomas Jezek, Czechoslovak Minister of Privatization. K-Mart received tentative approval to buy 11 other stores in Czechoslovakia and paid $100 million for the entire deal. Antonini says K-Mart will share its technology, distribution methods, and merchandising skills with the Maj store. It will refurbish the building and plans to retain local employees. (Barbara Kroulik) PEOPLE ACCEPT LATVIAN RUBLE, BUT BANKERS WARY. Radio Riga reported on 7 May that the first payments of salaries and pensions have been made in Latvian rubles and that recipients seem to accept the new currency. Banks and commodities exchanges appeared to be largely ignoring the Latvian ruble, using the ex-USSR ruble in their transactions. A notable exception was Parex, the largest banking establishment specializing in the exchange of foreign currency, which already started to sell US dollars for Latvian rubles. The current exchange rate was not reported, although Radio Riga said that the value of the dollar against the Russian ruble had fallen this week. Several banking experts, however, see the Latvian ruble as an impediment to speedy monetary and financial reform in Latvia, Diena reported on 6 May. (Dzintra Bungs) UN, GERMANY TO ASSIST BULGARIA FIGHT DRUG TRAFFICKING. The United Nations will grant Bulgaria some $250,000 to be used in a program to stop drugs from entering from Turkey, Reuters reported on 7 May. The money is intended for antidrug scanning equipment, sniffer dogs, and training programs for personnel. According to another agreement signed yesterday, Germany will provide two million marks to the same end. (Kjell Engelbrekt) [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. 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