|The trouble with being punctual is that nobody's there to appreciate it. - Franklin P. Jones|
No. 90, 12 May 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR COALITION GOVERNMENT IN TAJIKISTAN. On 11 May, opposition leaders and Tajik President Rakhman Nabiev agreed on the creation of a coalition government in which opposition figures would hold one third of the posts, including the ministries of defense and internal affairs, Western and domestic news agencies reported. The compromise allows Nabiev to retain the presidency, to the displeasure of some opposition leaders, particularly in the Islamic Party, who complained to Western journalists that his resignation was their chief demand. An interim legislature was also agreed on, to function until elections in December. Its 70 members are to be equally divided between government supporters and the opposition. (Bess Brown) CONTROL TIGHTENED ON AFGHAN BORDER. The first deputy commander of the Central Asian Border Guard District told ITAR-TASS on 11 May that control on the Tajik-Afghan border had been tightened as a result of a statement by the head of the Democratic Party of Tajikistan, Shodmon Yusuf, that opposition forces in Tajikistan have the right to ask for help from neighboring states. According to some Moscow news media, the opposition is questioning the role played by Commonwealth forces during the recent violence in Dushanbe, although the commander of Commonwealth forces stationed in Tajikistan has insisted that his troops stay out of the local conflict. (Bess Brown) CIS EXPERTS SIGN DRAFT AGREEMENT ON NATIONAL CURRENCIES. Meeting prior to the gathering of CIS heads of state and government scheduled for 15 May, CIS economic experts have reached an agreement on establishing national currencies in the former Soviet republics, Radio Rossii reported 11 May. According to the draft agreement, those states wishing to leave the ruble zone are required to notify the other CIS governments 6 months prior to the introduction of a national currency. The governments naturally must also establish their own fiscal and monetary systems, and provide for payment of internal and external debts in the new currency. (John Tedstrom) MORE ON NATIONAL CURRENCIES. Although this remains essentially a working document that must be approved by the heads of state and government at their upcoming summit in Tashkent, it does provide a comprehensive framework for discussion and could promote a relatively predictable, if accelerated, movement to multiple currencies in the former Soviet region. It should be remembered, however, that because Russia so dominates the region in terms of trade flows, even those states that introduce their own currencies are bound to be strongly influenced by Russian economic and financial policies and conditions.(John Tedstrom) MILITARY PREVIEWS OF CIS SUMMIT. Seven military issues will be tabled at the upcoming Tashkent meeting of CIS heads of state on 15 May, while the heads of government--meeting at the same time and place--will have ten military issues on their agenda. In an 11 May interview on Radio Moscow, Lieutenant General Leonid Ivashov, the chief of the administrative directorate of the CIS General Staff, said that one of the most important was the draft of a treaty on collective security that would be presented to the heads of state. He said that both groups would look at the question of financing the joint armed forces. Another important topic would be how the CIS members would divide up the former Soviet Union's entitlements under the terms of the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty. (Doug Clarke) BLACK SEA FLEET TALKS TO RESUME. Russian TV on 11 May announced that the next round of talks between Russia and Ukraine over control of the Black Sea Fleet would begin on 20 May in Dagomis, a Russian town on the Black Sea coast near Sochi. Western agencies quoted Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk as telling reporters in New York that Ukraine had a "historical and juridical right" to its own fleet, and it hoped to persuade Russia to change its mind about the fleet. (Doug Clarke) KRAVCHUK AT UNITED NATIONS. Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk visited the UN headquarters in New York on 11 May, the final day of his official stay in United States, ITAR-TASS and Western agencies reported. After meeting with the UN secretary general, Kravchuk held a press conference. Commenting on relations with Russia, the Ukrainian president once again criticized Moscow for its self-proclaimed role as the successor state to the Soviet Union. Kravchuk asserted that "no one gave such powers to Russia." He also reaffirmed Ukraine's right to its own fleet, noting that Ukraine had played an important role in the building of the former Soviet navy. (Roman Solchanyk) AID FOR THE CRIMEAN TATARS. Commenting on the situation in Crimea, Kravchuk said that Kiev intends to provide cultural, linguistic, and other facilities for the approximately 200,000 Crimean Tatars who have thus far returned to their homeland. Kravchuk played down the 5 May Crimean declaration of independence, stressing instead that the Crimeans have chosen to remain part of Ukraine. (Roman Solchanyk) STRIKES SPREADING IN RUSSIAN SERVICE SECTOR. Public service workers are on strike in many parts of Russia. Doctors and teachers are demanding higher wages; bus drivers in Vladivostok are protesting because they have received no wages for two months. Teachers are threatening a general strike on 22 May. The deputy chairwoman of the Russian Union of Public Health Workers told RFE/RL on 11 May that Moscow doctors, who have been on strike for two weeks, would demonstrate in Moscow's Manezh Square on 12 May and ambulance workers would also stop work that day. On 7 May, Yeltsin set up a working group, headed by first deputy premier Egor Gaidar, to propose ways of improving the health service; the group was to present proposals by 12 May. (Elizabeth Teague) RUBLE EXCHANGE RATE PEG DELAYED? Less than a week after Konstantin Kagalovsky told a Moscow news conference that the exchange rate of the ruble would be pegged within a 15% range in August (see the RFE/RL Daily Report of 6 May), the chairman of the Russian Central Bank said that the fixing will not be attempted until "sometime this autumn." In an interview with The Financial Times of 11 May, Georgii Matyukhin stressed that convertibility must be backed by a tight credit policy, and that a sophisticated system of currency exchanges would have to be created throughout the CIS, backed by adequate communications. Other CIS members could expect "financial assistance" from Russia only if they remained in the ruble zone. (Keith Bush) 1992 GRAIN HARVEST FORECAST. The US Department of Agriculture projects this year's grain harvest in the former USSR at 178 million tons, against an adjusted total of 152 million tons in 1991, Reuters reported on 11 May. Grain imports are forecast to be 27 million tons, down by 11 million tons on last year. (Keith Bush) RUSSIAN LOAN GUARANTEES. Speaking at the East-West economics conference in Muenster on 9 May, German Economics Minister Juergen Moelleman announced that Russia has agreed to guarantee payment for German deliveries, Western agencies reported. This opens the way for the CIS to utilize German credits amounting to some $3 billion. Moelleman said that Germany may increase the value of export credit guarantees extended to the CIS. Meanwhile, AFP of 10 May reported that Russia has informed South Korea that it cannot guarantee the repayment of loans worth $1.45 billion and proposed that South Korea recover the debt from North Korea, which owes Moscow more than $3 billion. (Keith Bush) KYRGYZSTAN ASKS RUSSIA FOR CASH. Interfax of 11 May reports that the government of Kyrgyzstan has requested some 1.5 billion rubles from Russia to support its spending programs in the second quarter of 1992. The primary budget pressure point is the government's decision to raise wages and pensions. The Kyrgyz government is also expanding the use of credit purchases and is scheduled to introduce checkbooks soon in order to combat the shortage of cash in the economy. (John Tedstrom) ALTERNATIVE RUSSIAN ECONOMIC PLAN. The leader of the Russian Christian-Democrats, Viktor Aksyuchits, told the RFE/RL Research Institute on 11 May that the opposition is strong enough to get rid of Russian President Boris Yeltsin this October, if he does not change his course. He said the opposition has formed a shadow cabinet headed by the governor of the Sakhalin region, Valentin Fedorov. He also noted that the former RSFSR economics minister, Evgenii Saburov, had developed an alternative economic reform plan which would be introduced to replace Egor Gaidar's program. Saburov's program emphasizes a strengthening of the military-industrial sector. (Alexander Rahr) ZHIRINOVSKY RELENTS. Addressing a meeting in St. Petersburg's Palace Square, Vladimir Zhirinovsky said his Liberal Democratic Party is no longer insisting that its call for the reestablishment of Russia within its pre-World War I boundaries must mean the reincorporation of Finland into Russia. "If they left in 1917," Radio Mayak on 7 May quoted Zhirinovsky as saying, "let them stay where they are." (Elizabeth Teague) NEW WOMEN'S ORGANIZATION CREATED. A new organization, "Women for Social Democracy," has been set up by the Social Democratic Party of Russia, Interfax reported on 8 May. Its leader is Galina Venediktova. The Social Democratic Party opened its fourth congress in Moscow on 7 May, ITAR-TASS reported, saying that the party claims 5,000-6,000 members. (Elizabeth Teague) NAGORNO-KARABAKH UPDATE. Acting Azerbaijani President Yagub Mamedov conceded in a radio address on 11 May that Armenian forces had taken the town of Shusha virtually without a fight and that its surrender by Defense Minister Rahim Kaziev was "an act of betrayal." Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mahmoud Vaezi travelled to Baku on 11 May for talks on the fighting. Mamedov sent an appeal to Russian President Yeltsin to "do all in his power to restrain the aggressor," Azerinform-TASS reported on 11 May. Meanwhile, Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan asked the UN Security Council, which will meet 12 May to discuss the fighting, to send peacekeeping troops to Karabakh. Western agencies reported from Ankara on 12 May that Turkish Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel had telephoned US President Bush to ask him to "play an active role" in achieving a peaceful settlement. (Liz Fuller) GOVERNMENT CRISIS LOOMS IN ABKHAZIA. The Abkhaz Minister of Internal Affairs, Givi Lominadze, an ethnic Georgian, has refused to comply with a decree issued by the autonomous republic's Abkhaz-dominated parliament to relinquish his post, Interfax reported on 11 May. Lominadze accused the Abkhaz parliament of infringing on the rights of the republic's majority Georgian population and warned of the risk of mass unrest similar to that which erupted in July, 1989. Georgians held demonstrations and erected roadblocks in the republic's capital of Sukhumi in support of Lominadze. (Liz Fuller) MOLDOVAN FOREIGN MINISTER CRITICIZES ROMANIAN CALLS FOR REUNIFICATION. In Bucharest for a working meeting with his Romanian counterpart Adrian Nastase, Moldovan Foreign Minister Nicolae Tiu criticized Romanian calls for reunification with Moldova. Such calls "interfere with the normal development of relations among our states. These loud slogans may help some [politicians] in the electoral campaign," Tiu told ITAR-TASS on 8 May. (Vladimir Socor) MORE CASUALTIES ON THE DNIESTER. In renewed violations of the cease-fire "Dniester" forces attacked the Moldovan bridgeheads on the left bank of the Dniester on 9, 10, and 11 May. Six Moldovan policemen and two Russian insurgents (including one Siberian Cossack) were killed in the fighting, Moldovan and Russian media reported. A number of civilians, mostly local Moldovan peasants, were injured when their homes in police-controlled villages came under fire. (Vladimir Socor) "WORKING PEOPLE'S CONGRESS" IN TIRASPOL. A two-day "Congress of Work Collectives" of the "Dniester republic" finalized plans to host in Tiraspol an "all- Union" meeting of workers from the former Soviet republics, ITAR-TASS and Moldovapres reported on 10 May. The "Dniester" congress also appealed to all member states of the CIS to extend recognition to the "Dniester republic." The resolution threatened to cut off oil and gas pipelines, electricity transmission lines, and rail lines linking Moldova to Ukraine and Russia unless all Moldovan police units and other authorities withdraw from the left bank of the Dniester by 15 May. The congress was attended by delegates of communist and Russian ultra-nationalist organizations from Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other cities of Russia. (Vladimir Socor) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE BOSNIA UPDATE. Fighting in Sarajevo is intense, and several outlying communities have fallen to Serb militia forces, which have also taken over control of all access roads to the Bosnian capital. Food and medicine are in short supply. Bosnian officials say Serbs are engaged in an offensive to overrun Sarajevo. Federal army spokesmen say its tanks and paratroopers have taken control of Mostar's historic center. Fighting over the past two months has left 1,320 dead and 6,700 wounded. Some 325,000 people have been displaced and are living in other parts of the republic while 350,000 have fled to Croatia, Serbia, and Slovenia, according to Bosnian government figures. Meanwhile, on 11 May Bosnia applied for membership in the UN, and Foreign Minister Haris Silajdzic met with US Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger in Washington. (Milan Andrejevich) EC TALKS POSTPONED. Jose Cutilheiro, chairman of the EC conference on Bosnia-Herzegovina cancelled negotiations scheduled for 13 May because of the inability of the warring parties to honor a cease-fire. Both Serbia's government and Bosnian Serb leaders expressed deep regret over the cancellation, fearing that negative political and psychological consequences would escalate the fighting in the republic. Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic blamed the Muslims for deliberately breaking the cease-fire agreement in order to force delay of negotiations. Talks over the future status of the federal army in the republic are scheduled to resume today between Bosnian officials and the federal army, however, according to Radio Sarajevo. Karadzic told Belgrade TV on 11 May that once the political shape of the republic is determined by a consensus of Muslims, Serbs, and Croats, the republic would be gradually transformed into a demilitarized region. (Milan Andrejevich) EC TO RECALL ENVOYS, SPLIT OVER MACEDONIA DEEPENS. The EC foreign ministers meeting in Brussels agreed on 11 May to recall their ambassadors from Belgrade and push for suspension of the rump Yugoslavia from the CSCE. The moves are meant to increase the diplomatic isolation of the new Yugoslavia unless it stops inciting the civil war in Bosnia-Herzegovina and withdraws its troops from the republic. Western media and Belgrade radio also report that the EC ministers agreed to take four weeks more before recognizing the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. An EC fact-finding mission will be sent to Macedonia to examine both the internal situation of the republic as well as Greek claims that using the name Macedonia implies a territorial threat to the northern Greek region of the same name. The BBC reports great pressure mounting on Greek Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis from the other 11 EC states that are fed up with Greece's obstructions. (Milan Andrejevich) REGIONAL DIPLOMATIC MOVES. Czechoslovakia and Croatia formally established diplomatic relations on 11 May during the visit in Prague of Croatian Prime Minister Franjo Greguric. CSTK quotes Czechoslovak Foreign Minister Jiri Dienstbier as noting with satisfaction Croatia's observance of the rights of its minorities, including its ethnic Czechs and Slovaks. In a letter to UN Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali, Hungary said that Yugoslavia's membership in international organizations is "defunct," Western news agencies reported on 11 May. Hungary argues that Serbia's and Montenegro's declaration last month that they constitute the "Federal Republic of Yugoslavia" does not create a legal basis for a decision on the continuity of Yugoslavia in international organizations. (Barbara Kroulik & Edith Oltay) ALBANIA, BALTIC STATES SIGN EC ASSOCIATION AGREEMENT. On 11 May in Brussels Albanian Prime Minister Aleksander Meksi, Estonian Foreign Affairs Minister Jaan Manitski, and his counterparts Janis Jurkans of Latvia, and Algirdas Saudargas of Lithuania signed trade and cooperation agreements with the European Community, Western agencies report. The 10-year agreements provide for regular political dialogue from ministerial level downwards and more liberal trading arrangements in all sectors except iron, steel, coal, and textiles. (Saulius Girnius) OLSZEWSKI SUPPORTS MORE PRESIDENTIAL POWERS. On 11 May Polish Prime Minister Jan Olszewski said he agreed with President's Lech Walesa call for more presidential powers. PAP reports that Olszewski told a meeting of Polish governors that in his view the president should be able to rule by decree under certain circumstances, and the Sejm could operate more effectively if some of its powers were handed over to the executive branch. Dismissing what he called rumors about the government's imminent resignation, the prime minister said his cabinet would continue to fulfill its duties as long as there is no constitutional alternative. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) WORLD BANK APPROVES POLISH LOANS. On 11 May the World Bank announced it has approved loans to Poland worth $190 million for two projects: $130 million for health services development and $60 million for development of private enterprise, Western agencies report. Caretaker Finance Minister Andrzej Olechowski said that the IMF might again make aid available in July, despite the Sejm's approval of a big increase in public spending. The IMF cut off Poland's access to $2.5 billion in aid last September when the country's budget deficit soared. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) POLAND TO BEGIN SELLING BONDS TO PUBLIC. On 11 May Olechowski announced that government savings bonds will soon be available for sale to the public. He said they are intended to help finance Poland's budget deficit. The government is hoping that by paying higher interest rates than do banks on similar bonds a large number of smaller savers will be attracted. The issue price and the interest rate of the bonds have not yet been announced. The 3-year bonds will also be available to foreign investors, Western media report. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) LATVIAN GOVERNMENT OFFERS PROGRAM FOR ECONOMIC STABILIZATION. The Latvian government's program of urgent tasks to stabilize the country's economy is to be discussed by the Supreme Council this week, BNS reported on 11 May. According to Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis, the program focuses in particular on ways of securing food, medicine, transportation, and energy for the population, instituting a stable financial system, and maintaining law and order. Godmanis also said that fuel must be obtained from abroad to guarantee that hospitals and kindergartens are heated properly. (Dzintra Bungs) ONE-KROON COINS NOT ON THE WAY. The Estonian government will try to alleviate its ruble shortage without issuing one-kroon coins in lieu of 500-and 1000-ruble bills as previously planned. According to an 11 May BNS report, a shipment of 100 million rubles expected by the end of May will go a long way toward relieving the shortage. (Riina Kionka) HUNGARIAN BANK BOARD URGES BANKS TO FOLLOW LAWS. Katalin Botos, the head of Hungary's bank supervisory board, is urging bank officers to keep to the letter of the law and to get their banks better organized, MTI reported on 11 May. Botos reproached the banks for failing to set aside 7.25% of their capital as required by the new banking law that went into effect last December. She proposes that banks generate maximum reserves and pay lower dividends in order to strengthen their capital positions. Botos says that banks must be in good fiscal order to facilitate privatization in Hungary. (Edith Oltay) BULGARIAN BANK'S LIQUIDITY QUESTIONED. On 11 May, Balkanbank, one of Bulgaria's most successful "commercial" banks, for the second time had to answer questions about its liquidity. Following reports in Bulgaria that an English court ordered the freezing of Balkanbank assets in the UK, on 10 May some bank clients hurried to withdraw their savings. Although the freeze involved only $12 million--an insignificant fraction of the bank's assets--the Bulgarian Central Bank decided to guarantee the savings of all 700,000 clients in order to stop speculations. (Kjell Engelbrekt) CZECHOSLOVAK BISHOPS ON CONFISCATED PROPERTY. The Czechoslovak Bishops Conference has expressed its regret at the federal parliament's rejection on 15 April of a bill concerning the return of Church property confiscated in 1948. A statement published by CSTK on 11 May says that the constructive process of developing relations between the Catholic Church and the state have been seriously damaged. (Barbara Kroulik) LITHUANIAN SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY CONGRESS. On 10 May the 16th Congress of the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party was held in Vilnius, the RFE/RL Lithuanian Service reports. The congress passed resolutions urging a "no" vote in the presidential referendum and calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius. It called for cancelling the referendum on the withdrawal of the former USSR army but if it should take place, the Social Democrats urge the populace to vote in favor of withdrawal. It urged the parliament pass as soon as possible rules for the election to the seimas (the new parliament) on the basis of proportional representation, a presidential election law, a new government cabinet law, and laws on courts, including a Constitutional Court. (Saulius Girnius) CZECHOSLOVAKIA ON DAM DECISION. Czechoslovakia on 12 May repeated its opposition to Hungary's decision to withdraw from a treaty for the joint construction of a Danube dam project. Presidential spokesman Michael Zantovsky told reporters that "unilateral decisions will not result in a solution." The Slovak government also issued a statement saying that the treaty could not be rescinded unilaterally and that the Slovak government still regards it as valid, foreign agencies report. Slovak Premier Jan Carnogursky informed Hungarian Minister without portfolio Ferenc Madl that Slovakia would not follow Budapest's suggestion to discuss any halt of the construction of the dam, MTI announced on 12 May. Hungary is likely to stick to its decision to abrogate the 1977 state treaty on 25 May. (Barbara Kroulik & Alfred Reisch) RUSSIAN-ESTONIAN CONSULTATIONS GOING NOWHERE. Expert groups from the Russian Federation met with their Estonian counterparts on 11 May in Moscow to discuss setting up general disengagement talks, BNS reports. The groups primarily discussed the defense of Russian-speakers' rights in Estonia. (Riina Kionka) ATTACK ON LATVIAN HOME GUARD. Early in the morning of 11 May about one kilo of explosives damaged an armored vehicle and the building serving as headquarters for the home guard unit in the Majori district of Jurmala, Radio Riga reports. There were no injuries or casualties. In the winter of 1990 and spring of 1991 there was a spate of unaccounted for explosions at monuments and sites throughout Latvia that appeared to have been intended to provoke conflict among the multiethnic population of Latvia. The explosions were widely believed to be caused by members of OMON. (Dzintra Bungs) BULGARIAN TRADE UNIONS CALL ON GOVERNMENT TO STEP DOWN. On 11 May the chairmen of Bulgaria's two major trade unions, Podkrepa and the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria (CITUB), demanded that all members of the UDF cabinet hand in their resignations, BTA reports. Following talks with president Zhelyu Zhelev, Konstantin Trenchev and Krastyu Petkov called on the government to draw the logical consequences of their failure to solve the country's problems and urged the next cabinet to restore the "interrupted dialogue" between trade unions and the UDF. (Kjell Engelbrekt) Popular Front Back in the Ring. After declaring itself more or less defunct during its congress last month, the Estonian Popular Front has now declared it will participate in upcoming elections for a new parliament. Popular Front leader Heinz Valk told BNS on 11 May that the front will not take part as an umbrella organization, but as "an ally of those political forces with whom we have unified views." The front began in 1988 as a mass movement with a broad spectrum of political views, but within the last two years has become the soapbox of former Prime Minister Edgar Savisaar and his national-socialist People's Center Party. (Riina Kionka) ROMANIA'S ROADS NEED REPAIR. Economistul reports on 8 May that Romania's 72,816 km of roads form one of the sparsest networks in Europe. Only 22.2% meet modern standards. Less than one-third (28.5%) of the roads are paved with at least 10 cm of asphalt, while 49.3% of the roads are gravel- or earth-surfaced. Some 10,000 km require urgent repair and 6,500 km pose a risk to motorists. Other problems such as increasing local and national traffic since 1990, slow speeds, narrow turns, and hazardous intersections have resulted in overconsumption of fuel, an inefficient commercial transport system, and environmental pollution. Romania can claim only 113 kilometers of high-speed highways, and the Bucharest biweekly calls the government's plans to build more "mere fantasy." (Mihai Sturdza) GORBUNOVS IN THE USA. Latvian Supreme Council Chairman Anatolijs Gorbunovs addressed the 41st congress of the American Latvian Association in Minneapolis. On 11 May he described to VOA his impressions of the congress and the questions that were addressed to him there, including his career in the Latvian Communist Party. Gorbunovs said that he finds it natural that people reproach him for his activism in the Latvian Communist Party and that he accepts the responsibility for his actions, adding that responsibility must be personal, rather than collective. He pointed out, however, that in the late 1980s, when he was the party's ideological secretary, he was able to neutralize the influence of the conservative LCP Buro and Central Committee and thus facilitate the development of the People's Front of Latvia. (Dzintra Bungs) [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). 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