|The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper. - Eden Phillpotts|
No. 97, 21 May 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR AZERBAIJAN TO LEAVE CIS? In an interview published in Komsomolskaya pravda on 20 May, Azerbaijani Popular Front chairman and presidential candidate, Abulfaz Elchibey, asserted that "Azerbaijan will not be a part of the present CIS," and that all agreements signed by former President Ayaz Mutalibov are invalid because they have not been ratified by parliament. (Mutalibov travelled to Alma-Ata in December and committed Azerbaijan to CIS membership despite a unanimous vote against by the National Council.) (Liz Fuller) CRIMEAN ISSUE AT CRUCIAL STAGE. Moving to defuse the tension between Ukraine, Crimea and Russia over the issue of Crimea's secession from Ukraine, the Crimean parliament voted on 21 May to repeal its declaration of independence made earlier this month, and also, in effect, to refrain from holding a planned referendum on this question, Western and CIS agencies reported. However, a technicality exploited by pro-Russia deputies led to a second vote, which fell three short of the required majority. The Crimean parliament is continuing the debate. Meanwhile in Moscow, the Russian parliament is due to discuss the Crimean issue on 21 May despite strong objections from Ukraine. A spokesman for a Ukrainian delegation which has been holding talks in Moscow with Russian officials on Crimea, warned on 20 May, according to Reuters, that the actions of the Russian parliament "could play the role of a detonator" and lead to "unpredictable consequences." (Bohdan Nahaylo) RUSSIAN SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS. The newly created Security Council of the Russian Federation met for the first time on 20 May, ITAR-TASS reported. The chairman of the Security Council is Russian President Boris Yeltsin. The Council is slated to become the institution through which the executive and the legislature will control Russian security policy. Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi and the first deputy chairman of the parliament, Sergei Filatov, have been appointed permanent members (postoyannye chleny) of the Council--as representatives of the executive and legislative branches, respectively. (Alexander Rahr) COMMENTARY, GRACHEV INTERVIEW ON RUSSIAN ARMY. Commenting on recent developments in the Russian armed forces, Moskovsky Komsomolets on 20 May characterized Pavel Grachev's appointment to the post of Russian Defense Minister as a "temporary compromise." The newspaper also confirmed that First Deputy Defense Minister Andrei Kokoshin will deal with the military industrial complex, and indicated that there are currently 2,623,000 men serving in the armed forces under Russian jurisdiction. Grachev himself is quoted as being very concerned with draft shortfalls in Russia, laying the blame for these problems partly on journalists and politicians and, more surprisingly, on what he called an unfortunate order from CIS Commander in Chief Evgenii Shaposhnikov that widened the qualifications for draft deferments on the basis of poor health. (Stephen Foye) JAPAN UPSET BY REMARKS ON KURILE ISLANDS. The Japanese news service Kyodo reported on 20 May that Japanese Foreign Ministry officials are upset by an ITAR-TASS report of 19 May in which Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev was quoted as saying that Russia would not withdraw its military forces from the disputed Kurile Islands. A Japanese official reportedly said that Grachev's remarks, if true, contradict a statement made by Boris Yeltsin to Japanese Foreign Minister Watanabe earlier this month in Moscow. Yeltsin, he said, made it clear that all troops would be withdrawn from the Kuriles within a year or two. Japanese diplomats in Moscow have reportedly been ordered to get a clarification of Grachev's remarks. Some 7,000 troops are believed to remain on the island. (Stephen Foye) YELTSIN APPOINTS NEW DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER. Georgii Khizha, a deputy mayor of St. Petersburg, has been appointed as a Russian deputy prime minister by Boris Yeltsin on 20 May, ITAR-TASS reported. The presidential press service described Khizha as a 54-year-old engineer, born in the Turkmen capital of Ashgabat. His appointment as Yeltsin's fifth deputy prime minister would seem to answer criticism that his administration has too few industrial experts. (Carla Thorson) YELTSIN BACKS PRESIDENTIAL ENVOYS. Boris Yeltsin has met with his personal envoys to the republics and regions of the Russian Federation to sort out conflicts between his envoys and the local administrations, "Vesti" reported on 20 May. The chiefs of the local administrations regard the presence of presidential envoys in their regions as a sign of the Russian president's mistrust. Yeltsin has criticized the local administrations, the vast majority of which still consist of former Communists, for resistance to his reforms. Yeltsin asserted that he will continue to rely on the information he receives from his envoys. (Alexander Rahr) RUBLE RATE UP. In a revealing announcement, the Russian Central Bank on 16 May raised its fixed "market rate" for the ruble from 100 to 90 to the US dollar, Reuters reported. It is still planned, apparently, to move towards a single rate of exchange with effect from 1 July, and then to make the ruble convertible in August, hopefully at a rate of around 80 rubles to the dollar. Many observers are skeptical that this timetable will be kept. (Keith Bush) NUCLEAR WASTE DISPOSAL PLAN. The Russian Minister of Atomic Energy, Viktor Mikhailov, said on 19 May that scientists in the "atomic city" of Arzamas-16 are developing ways to destroy nuclear and chemical waste through nuclear detonations, AFP reported. He thereby partially confirmed a recent Greenpeace assertion that Russia plans to destroy nuclear and chemical waste by nuclear blasts at the Barents Sea archipelago of Novaya Zemlya. Mikhailov did not comment on the location of the project, and promised that international scientists would vet the safety aspects of any such disposal procedures. (Keith Bush) RUSSIA TARGETS JOBLESS YOUTH IN CRIME PREVENTION DRIVE. The Russian government on 19 May unveiled a program aimed at keeping unemployed and homeless youths out of trouble by offering state and private enterprises financial incentives to give them jobs. Reuters and Interfax quoted Major General Boris Voronov, head of the crime prevention department of Russia's Ministry of Internal Affairs, as saying rising unemployment, particularly among young people, lies at the root of the present sharp rise in Russia's crime rate. In the first quarter of 1992, Voronov said, the crime rate rose by over one third, with the increase in juvenile delinquency being especially marked. While in 1987 juveniles committed every tenth crime, in 1991 juveniles were responsible for every sixth. (Elizabeth Teague) FIGHTING CONTINUES IN NAKHICHEVAN DESPITE DIPLOMATIC OVERTURES. Heavy artillery fire continued on 20 May on the border between Armenian and Nakhichevan; Nakhichevan parliament Chairman Geidar Aliev told Western journalists that he had spoken by phone to Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan and the latter had reneged on a promise to try to arrange a cease-fire. Armenia's Ambassador to the UN, Alexander Arzoumanian, told RFE/RL on 20 May that he hoped Turkey and the US would support an Armenian proposal for cooperation with Nakhichevan. IRNA carried a warning to Armenia by the Iranian Foreign Ministry that Iran considers any attempts to alter existing borders by force "an act of aggression." Erevan Radio reported that Iran had agreed to a joint proposal by Armenia and Nakhichevan to send observers to Nakhichevan. Turkish Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel ruled out the dispatch of Turkish troops to Nakhichevan, but Radio Baku reported that he had promised to send "aid" to the region. (Liz Fuller) SHAPOSHNIKOV WARNS AGAINST FOREIGN INTERVENTION IN NAGORNO-KARABAKH. Speaking at a press conference in Moscow on 20 May, CIS armed forces Commander in Chief Evgenii Shaposhnikov warned that if outside powers attempt to intervene militarily in the Karabakh conflict "that will obviously place us on the brink of a new world war," Western media reported. (Liz Fuller) TAJIK REGIONS REJECT NEW GOVERNMENT. The authorities in Tajikistan's Leninabad and Kulyab Oblasts announced on 20 May their refusal to recognize the new government that was created last week under an agreement between Tajik President Rakhman Nabiev and the opposition coalition. Leninabad officials had threatened to ask Uzbekistan to annex their oblast, if the Tajik government reached an accommodation with the opposition. Authorities in Kulyab, who likewise opposed an agreement with the opposition, have threatened to create an independent state. Groups of parliamentary deputies from the two oblasts have informed the acting speaker of parliament that they will participate in neither the newly-formed Popular Assembly or the Supreme Soviet. (Bess Brown) DETAILS ON TURKMENISTAN CONSTITUTION. On 20 May, Radio Rossii provided additional information on Turkmenistan's new constitution, adopted on 18 May and just published in the republican press. The highest organ of power will be the Halk Maslahaty (Council of the People), with a Mejlis (Assembly) functioning as the working parliament. Oblasts will be known as velayets, raions will become etraps, the chief administrators of which will be hakims and archins, respectively. The report notes that ethnic and religious political parties are prohibited. (Bess Brown) KARIMOV ON UZBEK ARMY. The Imanpress agency quoted Uzbek president Islam Karimov on 19 May as saying that Uzbekistan's army will not exceed 35,000 men. (Bess Brown) DNIESTER CASUALTY TOLL UP. Twenty-four were killed and 87 were wounded on both sides when "Dniester" Russian insurgents attacked the Moldovan police bridgeheads on the left bank on 18-19 May, Moldovan and Moscow media reported on 20 May. The updated toll is considerably higher than initially reported (see Daily Report, 20 May), and the fighting is continuing. (Vladimir Socor) RUSSIAN MILITARY UNITS JOIN "DNIESTER" FORCES. On 19-20 May, several units of Russia's 14th Army joined the "Dniester" forces in military operations, Moldovan and Moscow media reported. In one case, 10 tanks, 10 armored personnel carriers, and a field artillery battery moved from barracks in Tiraspol and, jointly with the "Dniester guard," attacked Moldovan positions on both banks of the Dniester. The army's commander, Maj. Gen. Yurii Netkachev, reportedly told both Chisinau and Moscow that he had lost control over elements of his army who were disobeying his orders to observe neutrality. The 14th Army has assisted the "Dniester" forces all along but has usually avoided direct involvement in combat. (Vladimir Socor) MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT APPEALS TO THE PEOPLE. In a radio and television address to the people of Moldova on 20 May, President Mircea Snegur said that units of Russia's 14th Army were seizing areas on the left bank of the Dniester. "The independence and integrity of our republic are being placed in mortal danger. Yesterday's occupiers seek to restore their power over us and to force us once again on our knees," Snegur said. He called on Moldova's citizens to be prepared to repulse the aggression. (Vladimir Socor) SNEGUR APPEALS TO WORLD. In a message to the leaders of the member countries of the UN Security Council, of the CSCE, and of the CIS, reported by the Moldovan media on 20 May, Snegur "informed them that Russian military forces, using the 14th Army's armor and artillery, have begun open military actions against the Republic of Moldova and the legal forces of order." Besides constituting an aggression against an independent state, the military intervention also foils Moldova's search for a political solution to the conflict, Snegur said. He asked these states to "find ways to support us in these decisive moments for the existence of an independent Republic of Moldova." Previous appeals for support against the military-communist takeover of Moldova's eastern area have largely been ignored. (Vladimir Socor) UKRAINIANS IN RUSSIA AND MOLDOVA ORGANIZING. Ukrainians living outside of Ukraine in other former Soviet republics (6.2 million in 1989) are continuing to organize themselves. On 15 May, Radio Ukraine reported, an association of Ukrainians living in Russia has been formed with the aim of defending the cultural rights of the 4.4 million Ukrainians living in Russia. So far, 42 regional and local Ukrainian societies and organizations have sprung up in Russia. Meanwhile, Reuters and Radio Ukraine reported that on 16 May some 10,000 Ukrainians living in Moldova on the left bank of the Dniester held an assembly in the town of Rashkov. Speakers criticized Kiev for "ignoring" the 200,000 Ukrainians caught in the conflict between the "Dniester republic" and Chisinau. A total of 600,000 Ukrainians live in Moldova. (Bohdan Nahaylo) UNDERTAKERS ON STRIKE IN KRASNODAR. Morgue attendants in the southern Russian city of Krasnodar went on strike on 19 May, Radio Moscow reported, to demand an increase in wages. They are refusing to issue death certificates, undertake postmortems, or accept corpses for burial. (Elizabeth Teague) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN FIGHTING UPDATE. Intense fighting was reported in Tuzla, where 49 federal soldiers were killed by Muslim paramilitary forces as they were pulling out of their base. Radio Serbia says on 20 May that three barracks in Sarajevo also remain under siege, delaying the federal army withdrawal from Sarajevo. For the first time ever Bosnia's Presidency has officially called the Yugoslav federal armed forces "an army of occupation," and demanded their complete and immediate withdrawal from the republic. The Presidency also proposed two laws establishing the republic's army. Serb militiamen continue to hold a predominantly Muslim convoy of refugees in Sarajevo; they are demanding the safe evacuation of federal army personnel from Sarajevo and time to recover their dead. Most of the refugees have been placed in Serbian homes and shelters. Reports on the number of hostages range from 2,500 to 7,200 people. EC-sponsored talks between the warring parties are scheduled for 21 May, but Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic is unlikely, for security reasons, to attend and has asked that the talks be delayed until the 25th. (Milan Andrejevich) BOSNIA'S DEATH TOLL AND REFUGEES. Bosnia's health and social security crisis center told reporters on 20 May that the death toll in the republic has risen to 2,225 with 7,663 wounded and 2,555 missing since the fighting broke out two months ago. Refugees from Bosnia-Herzegovina in neighboring republics number 580,000, while 350,000 have fled their homes and relocated elsewhere in Bosnia. Some 32 health centers have been destroyed. On 21 May, an emergency meeting in Vienna of 10 European states, UNHCR, Red Cross, and the EC will discuss ways of handling the 1.5 million Yugoslav-area refugees, the largest wave of displaced people since 1945-46. Radio Bosnia-Herzegovina carried the reports. (Milan Andrejevich) KOSOVO ALBANIANS MUST FIGHT. Azem Vllasi, former head of Kosovo's communist party, told Croatian TV on 19 May that the time has come for Albanians to decide between "silence and war." But silence, he said, would be fatal, and the only course left for Kosovo's Albanians is to fight "the repressive Serbian police state." On 24 May Kosovo Albanians will hold legislative and presidential elections under the auspices of the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo founded in September 1990. The assembly declared Kosovo independent of Yugoslavia in October 1991 after a referendum in September 1991 overwhelmingly approved independence. Serbia has said the elections are illegal. Radio Serbia reported on 19 May that Lord Carrington's special aide Thierry de Beauce, speaking in Pristina, stressed that the EC will not recognize the independence of Kosovo. On 20 May, the CSCE, which has accused Serbia of "continued violation of CSCE commitments" in Kosovo, said it will soon send a fact-finding mission to the area. (Milan Andrejevich) BULGARIAN CABINET SHAKE-UP. On 20 May the Bulgarian National Assembly approved the new government proposed by prime minister Filip Dimitrov. The reshuffle, which came little more than six months after Dimitrov assumed responsibility for government, involves seven new appointments, five faces new to high government posts, and the splitting-up of two economic ministries into three. Aleksandar Pramatarski and Georgi Stoyanov, lawyers without party affiliation, were given the trade and agricultural ministries, while the 34-year-old engineer Rumen Bikov assumes the industry portfolio. Defense Minister Dimitar Ludzhev, under fire for allegedly allowing controversial arms sales, was replaced by 67-year-old Sofia jurist Aleksandar Staliiski. The key position of deputy prime minister in charge of economic affairs went to 43-year-old Ilko Eskenazi, recently appointed head of the Bulgarian delegation negotiating with the EC on an association agreement. The three other deputy premiers are Svetoslav Luchnikov (justice), Nikolai Vasilev (education and science) and Nikola Vasilev (health care). (Kjell Engelbrekt) WALESA--GOVERNMENT'S SURVIVAL CHANCES SLIM. On 20 May Polish President Lech Walesa said to Prime Minister Jan Olszewski that his cabinet's chances of survival are slim, Western and Polish media report. In his toughest criticism of Olszewski yet, Walesa also blamed the government for provoking quarrels among Poland's ruling bodies and stoking social unrest. "The president is concerned that possibilities of the current government may be exhausted," presidential spokesman Andrzej Drzycimski told newsmen, "although that does not mean that he is calling for the government's resignation." Olszewski told state radio that he would resign if Walesa withdrew support for the government, but declined to comment directly upon Drzycimski's statement. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) ESTONIAN REFERENDUM SET FOR 28 JUNE. The Estonian Supreme Council voted on 20 May to hold the constitutional referendum on 28 June, Postimees reports. The referendum involves two issues: whether citizens approve the draft constitution in combination with its enabling legislation, and whether they wish to extend the franchise to citizenship applicants. The Supreme Council's 20 May decision restricted the franchise for the referendum itself to citizens over the age of 18. (Riina Kionka) MORE CRACKS IN THE NSF. On 19 May Marian Enache, vice president of the Chamber of Deputies left the National Salvation Front and, together with 13 earlier defectors from the ruling coalition, has created a new group called A Future for Romania. Dan Martian, chairman of the Chamber of Deputies, also resigned from the NSF on the same day and went over to the [pro-Iliescu] Democratic NSF, which now numbers 65 deputies. NSF chairman Petre Roman said that Martian's statements have offended the remaining 128 NSF deputies. Meanwhile, two more local branches of the Democratic NSF said they will back President Ion Iliescu if he chooses to run again for the presidency, local media reported on 19 and 20 May. (Mihai Sturdza) HUNGARIAN-AMERICAN ENTERPRISE FUND SETS UP CORPORATION. On 20 May the Euroamerica Capital Corporation was established with a $4 million capital base to promote the establishment of small and medium-sized private companies in Hungary and to advise companies on attracting capital, MTI and Western agencies report. John C. Whitehead, the chairman of the fund, was optimistic that the new corporation will help turn Budapest into the financial center of East Central Europe. He said that the US congress appropriated over $60 million to promote private enterprise in Hungary, and that since its establishment in 1990 the Hungarian-American Enterprise Fund has provided over 200 loans and investments to Hungary. (Edith Oltay) DE BENEDETTI BUYS SECOND HUNGARIAN PRINTING COMPANY. On 20 May the Carlo de Benedetti group acquired a majority stake in the venerable KNER printing firm in Bekescsaba, MTI reports. The group bought an 85% stake in the 110-year-old company, which produces packaging materials and high-quality books and controls a major share of the Hungarian packaging markets. The de Benedetti group already owns the Petofi printing company in Kecskemet, the other major Hungarian packaging material producer. Spokesmen for the group said that the two printers "could create an important pillar in Central Europe's packaging industry." The investors have committed themselves to increasing capital investments significantly, raising the salaries of KNER's 1,200 employees, and making workers shareholders. The deal was valued at some $20 million. (Edith Oltay) FIAT ACQUIRES POLISH AUTOMAKER. On 20 May the Italian automaker Fiat and Polish authorities signed an agreement opening the way for a $2-billion deal by which Fiat obtains a 90% interest in the state-owned FSM auto factory. Renato Ruggiero, head of the Turin-based company, and caretaker Finance Minister Andrzej Olechowski signed the protocol anticipating the final agreement, which is to be finalized on 28 May. The deal must still be approved by the Polish government and the Fiat board. FSM will be turned into a joint stock company and the Polish side will retain a 10% share, Western media report. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION DOWN IN LATVIA. During the first four months of 1992, industrial production decreased in Latvia. Compared with the same period in 1991, the smallest (10%) decline has been registered by the porcelain and ceramics industry, while the largest (35%) drop was in light industry. About 21,500 workers lost their jobs in the period January-April, but over 12,000 had found other employment; about 8,500 persons have been registered with the unemployment office. The average monthly pay of an industrial worker in this period was 3000 rubles, Radio Riga reported on 20 May. (Dzintra Bungs) MORE GERMAN TOXIC WASTES UNEARTHED AT SIBIU. Continuing inquiries in villages in Sibiu County lead to the discovery on 20 May of more sites where highly hazardous waste materials were dumped. Besides the two dumps in the city of Sibiu reported in local and German media on 8 and 9 May, now an additional 500 tons of chemical waste illegally shipped to Romania by German firms has been found. The Basel Convention stipulates that all international shipments of waste materials are subjected to rigid sanitary and customs controls, but it appears that none of the countries or firms involved in the transport of these shipments from Germany to Romania has complied. Formal suit has been brought against the management of some Sibiu chemical firms. Mishandling of German-Romanian agreements on movement of chemical products prompted the resignation last December of Dolfi Drimmer as vice president of the Ecological Movement, although he continues in his job of waste-recycling specialist at the Ministry of Industry. (Mihai Sturdza) RIFT IN BULGARIAN HOLY SYNOD DEEPENS. In a statement read by its secretary, Bishop Neofit, at a press conference on 20 May, the Holy Synod, the governing body of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, expressed consternation that three of its members had decided to leave the body, but said it hopes they will "realize their error" and rejoin. According to BTA, Bishop Neofit also confirmed that two metropolitan bishops have come out in support of the three church officials. BTA suggests that Hristofor Sabev, a former dissident priest and a well-known critic of the spiritual leadership of the Church, may have encouraged the defections of the Holy Synod members. (Kjell Engelbrekt) TREATY QUARREL MARRING WALESA'S MOSCOW VISIT. The Polish president's visit to Moscow on 22 May is being overshadowed by a row in Warsaw over the treaty he is to sign with President Boris Yeltsin. The Olszewski government is unhappy that the treaty lacks a specific condemnation of the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact of 1939, which paved the way for the Soviet annexation of Eastern Poland. On 20 May, after the cabinet studied the text, Walesa, Olszewski, Foreign Minister Krzysztof Skubiszewski and speakers of the two chambers of parliament tackled the issue again. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) LATVIAN FORCES TAKE OVER EX-USSR MILITARY FACILITY. Radio Riga reports that on 19 May Latvian security forces took over a military training facility of the former USSR forces in the Ciekurkalns district of Riga. For over six months the facility been used for purposes other than training; at the time of the takeover fewer than 30 officers and soldiers, plus families, were staying there, and two buildings had been rented to cooperatives. The takeover was coordinated with the base commander, but the Latvians had not specifically cleared the move with the Northwestern Group of Forces, who filed a note of protest. (Dzintra Bungs) NORTHERN FLEET SHIP ARRIVES IN BOLDERAJA. On 19 May a warship of the Northern Fleet arrived in Bolderaja without having cleared its arrival with the Latvian authorities. Latvians are expected to protest this breach of their sovereignty by Russia/CIS, Radio Riga reported on 20 May. (Dzintra Bungs) RETURN OF COL. CHERNYKH TO KLAIPEDA. On 20 May the Lithuanian parliament reported that Klaipeda mayor Benediktas Petrauskas received an unexpected phone call from Col. Ivan Chernykh, Radio Lithuania reports. Chernykh said that he had been in the city since 16 May handing over his command. Sharp protests from the CIS military authorities were evoked when on 7 April Lithuania arrested Chernykh for having backed the August putsch and for attempting to overthrow the Lithuanian government. Azubalis noted that during the discussions for Chernykh's release on bail, Col. Gen. Valerii Mironov, commander of the North-west Group of Forces, had promised that Chernykh would not return to Lithuania except to answer questions by the Lithuanian procuracy. Parliament chairman Vytautas Landsbergis noted the broken promise and said he hopes Chernykh will leave Lithuania as soon as possible. (Saulius Girnius) [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.) network. 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