Absence makes the heart grow fonder. -
RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 96, 20 May 1992


US President George Bush on 19 May, Kazakh President Nursultan
Nazarbaev promised that Kazakhstan will adhere to the START treaty,
Western and Moscow agencies reported. The two leaders issued
a joint statement in which the Kazakh side undertook to remove
all nuclear weapons from its territory, and the US promised to
assist in eliminating the weapons. Several trade and invest-ment
agreements were also signed between the two countries. The same
day Nazarbaev met with Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney to discuss
Kazakhstan's plans to create its own armed forces. (Bess Brown)

RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY PRIORITIES. In his initial remarks following
his surprise appointment as Russian defense minister on 18 May,
Army General Pavel Grachev said that his primary task would be
the improvement of living conditions of Russian servicemen. More
concretely, he said that the structure of the new Defense Ministry
would differ significantly from that of the old USSR Defense
Ministry, that top posts would be filled on a competi-tive basis,
and that the functions of the ministry and the Russian General
Staff would be clearly delineated. Grachev reiterated that the
size of the Russian army would be reduced to 1.5 million or less
in two to four years, and that it would be based on the Western
Group of Forces in Germany. (Stephen Foye)

KHASBULATOV SUPPORTS ARMY. Ruslan Khasbulatov, chairman of the
Russian parliament, in a clear attempt to win support within
the armed forces, criticized government plans to reduce military
expenditures in an interview with Krasnaya zvezda on 19 May.
He argued for more social support for the military and called
it an illusion to believe that economic problems can be solved
at the expense of the army. The army, he added, remains a significant
political tool and Russia must preserve its military potential.
Khasbulatov also suggested that only the president and the parliament
should deal with military matters and promised to defend the
army from "non-parliamentary influence." (Alexander Rahr)

vote of 15 to 3, members of the Presidium of the Crimean parliament
on 19 May endorsed a set of recommendations put forth by Chairman
Nikolai Bagrov that the parliament rescind Crimea's act of independence
of 7 May and change the purpose of this summer's scheduled referendum
from approval of independence to approval of the Crimean constitution.
(The constitution specifies that Crimea is a part of Ukraine.)
The recommendations, which were intended for the session of parliament
that begins on 20 May in Simferopil, also called on the "Referendum"
Initiative Group to withdraw the question of Crimean independence.
(Kathy Mihalisko)

that Russia and Ukraine are stepping away from confrontation,
Ukrainian Prime Minister Vitold Fokin met in Moscow on 19 May
with Russian President Boris Yeltsin to discuss a range of topics,
including economic ties within the CIS, the situation in Moldova,
and the Russian-Ukrainian border issue. ITAR-TASS quoted Yeltsin's
press secretary, Vyacheslav Kostikov, as saying that as seen
from an historical perspective, the sharp disputes that have
been marring mutual relations are pointless. (Kathy Mihalisko)

the head of Russia's largest political party, the Democratic
Party of Russia, announced that his organization will become
an opposition party to the Russian government. Speaking on 19
May, at a conference on economic issues in the Kremlin, Travkin
said the Russian government has no social support. He argued
that such support could have been provided by entrepreneurs,
but small-scale businesses have no chance to develop in Russia
today. ITAR-TASS also quoted Travkin as saying that another possible
social base of support for the government could have been the
peasantry, but the government has no definite program for helping
the peasantry to get back on its feet. (Vera Tolz)

RUSSIAN OFFICIAL SAYS NO "BRAIN DRAIN." Speaking during a three-day
conference in Norway, Russian Minister of Atomic Energy, Viktor
Mikhailov, said on 18 May that Russian nuclear scientists were
not leaving the country to work abroad and that the feared "brain
drain" had not occurred. At the conference which was devoted
to a discussion of Russia's attempts to convert closed nuclear
cities from military to civilian production, Mikhailov said many
nuclear projects in Russia had stopped. He maintained, however,
that all nuclear scientists were still being paid. The official
said nuclear materials and weapons were safe within the ten closed
cities. He also expressed hope that some of the cities with nuclear
research and production facilities could be opened in five years,
Reuters reported. (Vera Tolz)

Andrei Nechaev announced on 15 May that his government plans
to spend at least 42 billion rubles in 1992 on restructuring
industry, ITAR-TASS reported. Nechaev was addressing the heads
of supreme soviets of the republics within the Russian Federation.
The reconversion programs will focus on transportation, energy,
and ecology. Nechaev stressed the need for "restructuring production
above all." He was quoted as saying that "the government must
change its priorities" and drop a policy based on "strictly financial
concepts." (Keith Bush)

discussed progress towards payment arrangements among the ex-Soviet
republics that might keep the ruble as a viable currency for
the whole ruble zone (RZ). At a meeting of central bank heads
in Bishkek (7-8 May) it was agreed to create an Inter-Bank Coordinating
Council of Central Banks of the RZ States. The only non-signatories
were Lithuania, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. This council would
coordinate monetary policies, agree to limits on budget deficits,
and set the level of currency emission each quarter. Kommersant,
citing unidentified "experts," said there was much doubt about
the workability of the scheme. (Philip Hanson)

to Kommersant, got most RZ states to attempt a joint monetary
policy by making this a condition of access to IMF funds. The
Russian Central Bank is described as opposed to the scheme's
success, since it would, under the scheme, lose its present monopoly
on currency emission. According to Kommersant, it has used this
so far to shift the percentage of currency emission allocated
to Russia from 66% in 1990-91 to 80% in the first quarter of
1992. It has also refused to accept bills of exchange and checks
from other RZ states. In short, it has shifted some of the burden
of monetary stringency from Russia to other RZ states. (Philip

PLANS TO PRINT MORE RUBLES. In a Russian TV interview on 18 May,
Egor Gaidar outlined plans to raise the rate of currency emission
to counter the "cash shortage" that has led to wage and benefit
payment delays, given the rapid rise of prices and incomes. By
introducing 200 and 500 ruble notes in the near future, and then
5,000 ruble notes, the authorities will raise the rate of new
currency emission from 64 billion rubles a month in April-May
to 124-128 billion rubles a month in June-August, and then to
a rate of 250 billion rubles from September. It appears from
this and earlier sources that cash in circulation would rise
during 1992 from 263.4 billion rubles to about 1.86 trillion
rubles. (Philip Hanson)

KAZAKH CURRENCY CONSIDERED? In an article that appeared in several
Kazakh newspapers on 17 May, the Kazakh president is quoted as
saying that his republic may have to introduce its own currency
"without waiting for economic stabilization," Interfax reported.
He reportedly argued that, in the medium term, preserving the
ruble could jeopardize Kazakhstan's economic development, and
that the behavior of "the countries in the ruble zone is hardly
predictable and does not respect their partners' needs." He said
that Kazakhstan needs 3 years to achieve stable market conditions,
and may become one of the world's "new industrial countries"
in about 15 years. (Keith Bush)

SHUSHKEVICH ON THE BELARUSIAN RUBLE. Belarusian parliament Chairman
Stanislau Shushkevich told visiting representatives of the Council
of Europe that Russia is helping Belarus to introduce, at the
end of June, a "Belarusian ruble," according to Belta-TASS 19
May. One Belarusian ruble will be equivalent to ten Soviet rubles.
This is necessary, Shushkevich added, to protect the Belarusian
market and because, at the present time, the country does not
have the gold and precious metals to put its own currency into
circulation immediately. Shushkevich also told the visitors that
Belarus wants to join the European Community (EC) and will send
all the necessary documents this week. (Kathy Mihalisko)

of the Nakhichevan Autonomous republic, Riza Abadov, appealed
on 19 May to Turkey to send modern arms to Nakhichevan to repel
Armenian aggression, and to permit those injured in recent fighting
to be treated in Turkish hospitals, Azerbaijani and Western media
reported. The Armenian Ministry of Defense denied that Armenian
forces had seized the village of Sadarak in Nakhichevan and claimed
that for three days Armenian villages had been subjected to artillery
bombardment from Nakhichevan's territory, according to ITAR-TASS.
On 20 May, Radio Rossii quoted the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry
(citing a release by the Nakhichevan parliament press center)
as asserting that it was CIS troops that spearheaded the attack
on Sadarak on 18 May. (Liz Fuller)

US, CSCE, IRAN CONDEMN FIGHTING. On 19 May the US State Department
condemned the recent fighting in Azerbaijan and asserted that
it would not condone changes in the status of any Azerbaijani
territory on the basis of violence. The CSCE Council of Senior
Officials, meeting in Helsinki, condemned the seizure of Lachin
as a "totally unacceptable" act of aggression. (ITAR-TASS quoted
Armenian Foreign Minister Raffi Hovanissian as informing his
French counterpart Roland Dumas that Armenian self-defence units
from Nagorno-Karabakh were not involved in the capture of Lachin
but circumvented the town to secure the road linking it with
Armenia.) Meanwhile, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mahmoud
Vaezi denounced the recent assault on Azerbaijani territory as
"flagrant aggression," Western agencies reported. Azerbaijan's
envoy to the UN, Hasan Hasanov, has sent a formal complaint about
Armenia's "aggression" to the UN Security Council President.
A three-man UN fact-finding mission is due to travel to Nagorno-Karabakh
on 20 May. (Liz Fuller)

AZERBAIJAN'S ONE-PLANE AIR FORCE. CIS military authorities in
the Transcaucasus military district have placed two MiG-23 fighters
near Tbilisi on constant alert to try and intercept the lone
Su-25 jet strike fighter in the hands of Azerbaijani militants,
according to a Postfactum report of 19 May. An Azerbaijani pilot
from a CIS unit near Baku had landed the Su-25--known to NATO
as the Frogfoot--at the air base at Sangachiliy on 8 April. That
field was in the hands of the militants. The recent report said
the plane now is operating out of a civilian airfield at Yevlakh,
some 220 kilometers west of Baku. It also indicated that the
Azerbaijani air force might grow, as Czech-built L-29 jet trainers
at Sangachiliy were being equipped with racks that would enable
them to fire air-to-ground rockets. (Doug Clarke)

which disapproved of the creation of a coalition government in
Tajikistan last week, has threatened to make the city independent
of Tajikistan, "Vesti" reported on 15 May. Inhabitants of Kulyab
Oblast in southern Tajikistan took a prominent role in defending
the Communist-dominated government against the opposition, reportedly
because many members of the government are from Kulyab. Last
week six people were reported to have been killed in fighting
in Kulyab that reportedly began as a dispute between opposition
factions and later involved government supporters. The city council's
threat to vote for secession could result in further unrest in
Tajikistan. (Bess Brown)

DNIESTER FIGHTING INTENSIFIES. 16 combatants on both sides were
killed and 55 were wounded on 18-19 May, Moldovan and Moscow
media reported. The "Dniester" Russian forces failed in this
latest attempt to dislodge the Moldovan police bridgeheads on
the left bank of the Dniester north and south of Dubasari. The
attacks are the most massive violation to date of the cease-fire
concluded on 18 April, which never took full effect. The strongest
attacks by "Dniester" forces have regularly been timed to meetings
by President Mircea Snegur with foreign leaders--in this case
the visit of the Romanian President. (Vladimir Socor)

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT IN MOLDOVA. Romanian President Ion Iliescu
completed on 19 May a two-day visit to Moldova. Both on the eve
of and during the visit, President Mircea Snegur and other Moldovan
leaders were at pains to emphasize the tenets of Moldovan independent
statehood and two Romanian states (i.e. non-reunification). This
first official visit by Iliescu to Moldova was long overdue,
but Chisinau postponed it twice and refused a "treaty of fraternity"
recently drafted by Bucharest. Instead, only nonpolitical documents
were signed. While Iliescu and Foreign Minister Adrian Nastase
accommodated Chisinau's stance, the Romanian opposition press
attacked them and Snegur for not promoting reunification. (Vladimir


BOSNIA UPDATE. Radio Sarajevo reports on 19 and 20 May that fighting
in the republic has slackened somewhat. According to a Bosnian
government spokesman, five people were killed and 54 wounded,
but he stressed that these are incomplete figures. The federal
army is expected to complete its withdrawal of all non- Bosnian
personnel from Sarajevo on the 20th. In all but four other towns,
the army's withdrawal has been completed. In order to reassess
its mission, the ICRC is temporarily withdrawing its representatives
following the death of one delegate. On 20 May the UN Security
Council is expected to recommend to the General Assembly that
Bosnia-Herzegovina be given UN membership. (Milan Andrejevich)

reports both in the Yugoslav-area and Western media about the
holding of more than 1,000 refugees by Serbs in Sarajevo. Reports
say that the mainly Muslim convoy of refugees, including many
women, children, and elderly, was being held hostage by Serb
militia. Several reports say the Serbs are demanding the safe
evacuation of federal army personnel from Sarajevo, others say
the militia are seeking to recover the bodies of relatives and
friends killed in the fighting. The Bosnian Serb news agency
SRNA reported on 19 May that the column of 3,200 refugees was
forcibly stopped by parents and relatives of a large number of
Serbs allegedly massacred by Muslims. The refugees were later
released, but they remain in Sarajevo. The alleged massacre--as
reported by Borba on 19 May--took place on 16 May in the Sarajevo
suburb of Pofalici. Muslim "Green Beret" paramilitary units are
supposed to have killed 200 Serbs, mostly women and children,
with another 300 still missing. (Milan Andrejevich)

BOSNIAN-CROATIAN CONFEDERATION? Radios Croatia and Sarajevo report
on 19 May that leaders of Bosnia's ruling ethnic Muslim Party
of Democratic Action and the Croatian Democratic Community have
discussed a possible confederation with the republic of Croatia.
According to Vjesnik, the talks were held in Split on 15 and
16 May. The representatives vow never negotiate with the extreme
faction of Bosnia's Serbian Democratic Party and have agreed
that the future political shape of the republic will be decided
by referendum. They also agreed to join forces to combat Serb
forces. Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic said there is no
signed agreement. Vjesnik also reports that Izetbegovic and Croatian
President Franjo Tudjman will shortly hold talks. Aleksa Buha,
the foreign minister of the Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina,
told Radio Serbia that his government is not opposed to the proposed
Muslim-Croat confederation. (Milan Andrejevich)

HUNGARY CANCELS DAM TREATY. Hungarian Minister Without Portfolio
Ferenc Madl announced on 19 May that the Hungarian government
will cancel the 1977 interstate treaty with Czechoslovakia on
building the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros hydroelectric power project.
MTI quotes Madl as saying that the reason for the decision, effective
25 May, is that Czechoslovakia has continued construction work
on its side of the project despite repeated appeals by Hungary.
Hungary suspended construction in 1989 out of concern for environmental
damage. Czechoslovak Prime Minister Marian Calfa said on 19 May
that neither the agreement nor international law entitle the
Hungarian government to take such a step. Slovak Prime Minister
Jan Carnogursky vowed to continue construction, "adhering to
the guidelines approved by the Slovak and federal governments,"
which see the opening of the Gabcikovo hydrological plant as
the solution to a variety of problems in the country, Western
agencies and Radio Bratislava report. (Edith Oltay & Peter Matuska)

Shervashidze, president of the National Electric Company's control
board, said two Western companies have been selected to raise
safety standards at the Kozloduy nuclear power plant and that
a contract will be signed soon. The project to improve the plant,
which is widely regarded as unsafe, will be financed by $15 million
from the EC. According to Reuters it was also the EC Commission
that proposed the offer should go to two specific companies,
Westinghouse of the US and Empresados Agrupados of Spain. (Kjell

Olszewski dismissed Janusz Zaorski as Chairman of the State Radio
and TV Committee. The move is seen as part of the disputes between
the government and various political groups regarding TV management,
Western and Polish media report. President Lech Walesa's spokesman
Andrzej Drzycimski criticized the move, saying it proves that
present government is a spent force. Committee Deputy Chairman
Jan Mariusz Owsinski will temporarily exercise the duties of
chairman. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz)

President Arpad Goncz has refused to approve a motion by Prime
Minister Jozsef Antall to dismiss Csaba Gombar, president of
Hungarian Radio, on grounds of incompetence, MTI reported on
19 May. Goncz said that Gombar's dismissal would seriously disrupt
the radio's democratic functioning, and that a new radio president
should only be appointed after parliament passes a new media
law. The opposition parties applauded Goncz's decision, fearing
that the government seeks to gain control of the media by placing
its own appointees in key positions. For its part the government
expressed "astonishment" over Goncz's decision, and the parliamentary
deputies of the government coalition issued a statement accusing
Goncz of "violating the constitution." (Edith Oltay)

Romanian TV signed an agreement with British-based Atlantic Television
to establish an independent commercial TV station in Bucharest.
It will start operating at the end of 1992 to broadcast news,
current affairs programs, and dramatic productions. The British
will invest up to $25 million and own 80% of the venture. The
agreement is valid for 15 years. The Romanians say it is the
first large-scale TV privatization agreement to be concluded
in Eastern Europe since the downfall of communism. (Mihai Sturdza)

WARSAW APPROVES VAT. On 19 May the Polish government approved
a draft law to impose a value-added tax (VAT) on goods and services.
The draft also calls for an excise tax on luxury goods, alcohol,
cigarettes, and cars. Under the proposal the VAT will have a
basic rate of 22% and a preferential rate of 7%. According to
Western and Polish media, the tax will apply to all goods and
services, except for export goods. The draft law must be approved
by the Sejm. Deputy Finance Minister Witold Modzelewski says
the government is suggesting a six-month delay in implementing
the measure to allow time for everyone to learn the new rules.
(Wladyslaw Minkiewicz)

NEW 1000-KORUNY BANKNOTE. On 18 May the governing council of
the Czechoslovak State Bank approved a new design for a 1000-koruny
banknote. The bank note, basically violet in color and bearing
the likeness of Frantisek Palacky, will be put into circulation
as of May 1993, CSTK reports. Palacky (1798-1876) was a Czech
philosopher, historian, and politician and author of the most
comprehensive review of Czech history. Czechoslovak banknotes
now come in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, and 1000 koruny.
(Peter Matuska)

ROMANIAN RAILWAY WORKERS STRIKE. On 19 May thousands of Romanian
railway workers stopped a warning strike just a few hours after
it began. The demonstrators belong to a federation of unions
pressing the authorities to negotiate a new labor contract. The
strike was suspended for at least 72 ¿days in response to a ruling
from the High Court of Justice, which acceded to a request from
the National Company of Romanian Railways. (Mihai Sturdza)

HUNGARIAN-ROMANIAN TALKS. On 19 May Hungarian Foreign Minister
Geza Jeszenszky and State Secretary Tamas Katona held talks with
Romanian Secretary of State Teodor Melescanu in Budapest, MTI
reports. The two sides discussed various bilateral issues including
cultural exchanges, improving border facilities, the return of
illegal emigrants, and the formulation of a basic treaty. Jeszenszky
told Radio Budapest that no progress has been made regarding
the treaty because of continued disagreement on the question
of minority rights and borders. Hungary would like a statement
on minority rights included in the treaty while Romania is seeking
guarantees of the integrity of current borders. Melescanu assessed
the two days of discussions as "positive," but some Romanian
journalists complained about a "highly offensive" Hungarian TV
program about Romania broadcast on 17 May. The next round of
talks will be held in Bucharest. (Edith Oltay & Mihai Sturdza)

Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk ended his two-day official
visit by praising Polish-Ukrainian ties as a good example of
relations between two independent and equal states. Polish Foreign
Minister Krzysztof Skubiszewski also said he was very satisfied
with the result of talks with his Ukrainian counterpart, Anatolii
Zlenko, on bilateral cooperation in East European security matters.
Skubiszewski said that relations with Kiev are a high priority
for Poland. Western and Polish wire services carried the story.
(Wladyslaw Minkiewicz)

Council Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis returned to Vilnius from
a two-day visit in Stockholm, Radio Lithuania reports. On 18
May he had a meeting with King Carl Gustaf XVI and the following
day held talks with the prime minister, head of parliament, and
foreign ministry officials as well as with Social Democratic
Party Chairman Ingvar Carlsson. (Saulius Girnius)

May that Aleksandr Rannikh arrived in Riga that day. Rannikh
previously held diplomatic positions in the CIS states and Finland.
According to Komsomolskaya pravda, Rannikh is a fine athlete
and an expert in judo and karate. He is to present his credentials
to the Latvian Supreme Council on 21 May. (Dzintra Bungs)

Pavel Grachev told Moskovskii komsomolets of 19 May that large
units of ex-USSR troops will not leave the Baltic States until
troops have been withdrawn from Eastern Europe. The withdrawal
from East Germany is to be completed in 1994. He complained that
"to demand from us an urgent pullout is unfair: we are not an
occupying force. We shall withdraw in stages on the basis of
treaties, as we are doing with troops based in Germany and Poland."
Grachev also stressed that he would not bring people back if
there is nowhere to house them. (Dzintra Bungs)

the Lithuanian parliament took place on 19 May, Radio Lithuania
reports. A noisy crowd of supporters of the 23 May presidential
referendum blocked the entrance, injuring one deputy and a reporter.
Members of the Joint Sajudis, Conciliation, and National factions
boycotted the meeting in order to prevent a rider on the 14 June
referendum. The session also heard statements by six cabinet
members on the government crisis and invited Prime Minister Gediminas
Vagnorius to speak at the next session. (Saulius Girnius)

the Department of Citizen-ship and Migration Affairs, has been
dismissed, Radio Riga reported on 19 May. Plavnieks' office was
in charge of monitoring immigration/emigration procedures, registration
of citizens, and issuance of residency permits. Recently it had
found irregularities in permits issued to ex-USSR officers and
their families stationed in Latvia. Minister of Justice Viktors
Skudra told the Supreme Council on 18 May that he would be lodging
a formal complaint with the State Prosecutor's office against
Plavnieks for spreading slanderous information about the work
of the ministry. Over the weekend Plavnieks had told the Riga
TV that certain materials had been stolen from his department's
files and that this had occurred after the ministry's chief notary
public for the registry of enterprises had had access to them.
(Dzintra Bungs)

BULGARIANS AND RELIGION. According to a poll of 4,780 Bulgarians
recently conducted by the National Statistical Institute (NSI),
nearly half the population characterize themselves as believers,
BTA reported on 19 May. At a press conference in Sofia, the public
opinion experts said this represents a slight increase over earlier
figures, but rejected suggestions that the change might be connected
with the current economic crisis. The survey also found that
89.1% of the population traditionally belonged to the Christian
faith, while 10.5% declared themselves as Muslims. (Kjell Engelbrekt)
[As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Carle Thorson and Charles Trumbull


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

[English] [Russian TRANS | KOI8 | ALT | WIN | MAC | ISO5]

F&P Home ° Comments ° Guestbook

©1996 Friends and Partners
Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole
Please visit the Russian and American mirror sites of Friends and Partners.
Updated: 1998-11-

Please write to us with your comments and suggestions.

F&P Quick Search
Main Sections
Bulletin Board
Chat Room
F&P Listserver


News From Russia/NIS
News About Russia/NIS
Newspapers & Magazines
Global News

©1996 Friends and Partners
Please write to us with any comments, questions or suggestions -- Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole