|We are all apt to believe what the world believes about us. - George Eliot|
No. 98, 22 May 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT CHALLENGES UKRAINE OVER CRIMEA. On 21 May, the Russian parliament, meeting in closed session, voted to declare the transfer of Crimea in 1954 from the Russian Federation to Ukraine invalid, and to insist that Russia be involved in talks on the peninsula's future, Western and CIS agencies reported. A milder resolution describing the transfer as "unconstitutional" was rejected. Before the voting, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev had warned on Russian TV that "this is playing with fire and there could be a chain reaction." (Bohdan Nahaylo) CRIMEAN PARLIAMENT OPTS FOR COMPROMISE. Meanwhile, backing away from outright confrontation with Kiev, the Crimean parliament voted on 21 May to repeal its declaration of independence of 5 May by 111 votes to 25, Ukrinform-TASS reported. It also suspended preparations until 10 June for a local referendum on the issue of the peninsula's status which was scheduled to occur on 2 August. (Bohdan Nahaylo) BLACK SEA SAILORS TAKE HARD TACK. Radio Ukraine reported on 21 May that 55 sailors in the Black Sea Fleet have gone on hunger strike to protest what they claim is discrimination against them by their commanders because they have sworn an oath of loyalty to the Ukrainian people. The sailors have appealed to the Ukrainian authorities to protect them. (Bohdan Nahaylo) CHANGES IN THE RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT. The economic advisor to Boris Yeltsin, Aleksei Ulyukaev announced that the newly appointed Russian deputy prime minister, Georgii Khizha, has been placed in charge of administrative and personnel management within the Russian government, Interfax reported on 21 May. Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Shokhin, who is responsible for social affairs, has now been placed in charge of foreign economic issues as well. Another deputy prime minister, Valerii Makharadze, has been assigned to supervise regional economic issues and trade with other CIS states. A first deputy prime minister in charge of industry has still to be named. (Alexander Rahr) RUTSKOI'S PRESS SECRETARY SPEAKS OUT. Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi's former press secretary, Nikolai Gulbinsky, wrote in Moskovskie novosti (No. 20) that Russian State Secretary Gennadii Burbulis had, from the very beginning, opposed Rutskoi's inclusion in the inner circle of power and ultimately succeeded in creating enmity between Yeltsin and Rutskoi. Gulbinsky also claimed that some politicians have made several attempts to drag Rutskoi into the opposition's camp. (Alexander Rahr) FOUR RUSSIAN POLITICAL GROUPS CREATE UMBRELLA ORGANIZATION. Four Russian political groups have decided to form a coalition called "Civic Union," ITAR-TASS reported on 21 May. The groups are: Russian Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi's Free Russia People's Party (NPSR), Nikolai Travkin's Russian Democratic Party, Arkadii Volsky's "Renewal" Party, and the parliamentary faction "Smena-- New Policy." During a press conference, spokesmen for the new Civic Union criticized the Russian government but stressed their adherence to democratic political and economic reforms in Russia. A leading member of the Free Russia People's Party, Petr Fedotov, said the time had come to organize reformist forces dedicated to constructive and realistic principles (implying that the Gaidar-Yeltsin reforms have been unrealistic). (Vera Tolz) GORBACHEV REMEMBERS. Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev told a meeting of the Russian Academy of Sciences that the military-industrial complex had been his major opponent during perestroika, according to Reuters on 21 May. He indicated that former Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzhkov had been a major supporter of the military, and that significant opposition also came from "hundreds of thousands of hired propagandists who built their careers on the premise that there could be no real peace with the capitalist West." Gorbachev also admitted that he had to wage a private struggle with himself to break with "class ideology." (Alexander Rahr) POLISH PRESIDENT IN MOSCOW. Polish President Lech Walesa arrived in Moscow for a two-day visit on 21 May--his first official visit to Moscow. Walesa's schedule for 22 May includes meetings with Russian President Boris Yeltsin, industrialists, and par-liament chairman Ruslan Khasbulatov, ITAR-TASS reported. Moscow and Warsaw are expected to sign a treaty of friendship and cooperation, and their foreign ministers are to sign accords related to the withdrawal of an estimated 40,000 ex-Soviet troops from Poland by mid-November. (Suzanne row) WALESA'S COMMENTS ON TRIP. Walesa told Pravda on 21 May that East European countries should stand by each other as reforms are carried out. He said the democracies must "help each other to foster reforms, develop existing ties and restore severed contacts." He also noted that Eastern European countries must look after themselves because "the West will not help us." Expressing his dissatisfaction with the general state of Polish-Russian relations, Walesa told the Moscow daily that there are "huge possibilities for cooperation" which are not being explored. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) TATARSTAN REJECTS CONCEPT OF FEDERAL TAXES. The Tatarstan parliament decided on 21 May that in future all taxes will be paid into the republican budget, and the republic will make payments to the Russian Federation only to fund those functions delegated to the Federation, ITAR-TASS reported. Tatarstan is thus acting in the same way towards Russia as Russia did towards the USSR. This latest step is in keeping with Tatarstan's determination that its relations with Russia should be of a confederal rather than a federal nature. (Ann Sheehy) STATE OF EMERGENCY DECLARED IN DAGESTAN. The presidium of the Supreme Soviet of Dagestan has imposed a state of emergency for one month in the capital, Makhachkala, and the town of Kizilyurt, ITAR-TASS reported on 20 May. The step was taken as a reaction to the lawless behavior of members of the Shamil Popular Front who had taken the public prosecutor of Makhachkala hostage to demand the release of three of their members. Since the release of these men, the front had been celebrating its victory by continually firing weapons in the air. The situation in Dagestan seems to be generally lawless and there have been several terrorist attacks on officials in recent months. (Ann Sheehy) RUSSIA AND ARMENIA DISCUSS SECURITY ISSUES. Russian State Secretary Gennadii Burbulis led a Russian government delegation to the Armenian-Russian talks in Erevan which began on 21 May, ITAR-TASS reported. The Russian defense minister, Pavel Grachev, is also a member of the delegation. The talks are taking place behind close doors, and focus on economic reform and the impact of the collective security agreement, which was signed recently by Russia, Armenia and four other CIS states in Tashkent. (Alexander Rahr) RUSSIAN INVOLVEMENT IN NAKHICHEVAN? Following talks with Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan in Erevan on 21 May, Burbulis asserted that Russian troops stationed in Armenia would, if necessary take action to protect Armenia's security, but at the same time dismissed the possibility of Turkish military in Nakhichevan, Russian media reported. Meanwhile ITAR-TASS quoted a spokesmen for CIS border troops stationed in Nakhichevan as stating that these forces had been put on a higher stage of alert, but that they would not intervene in fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani units. Meanwhile, Nakhichevan parliament Chairman Geidar Aliev criticized CIS Commander in Chief Shaposhnikov's warning of a potential new world war as "thoughtless" and a reflection of "old thinking," Azerinform-TASS reported. (Liz Fuller) NAZARBAEV ON NAGORNO-KARABAKH. At a press conference at the UN on 21 May, following a meeting with UN Secretary-General Butros Ghali, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev appealed for a greater UN role in settling the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, Western agencies and ITAR-TASS reported. Last year Nazarbaev committed Kazakhstan to an active role in trying to solve the dispute. Nazarbaev also told the press conference that lack of agreement on economic policy within the CIS has caused serious problems, and those agreements that have been signed do not function because there are no coordinating organs and no sanctions for nonfulfillment. He also mentioned the close relations between Russia and Kazakhstan, saying that Russians and Kazakhs have no cause for conflict. (Bess Brown) RASTOKHEZ APPEALS FOR UNITY IN TAJIKISTAN. The Rastokhez Popular Front of Tajikistan, one of the members of the opposition coalition that won concessions from President Rakhman Nabiev last week, has issued an appeal to the people of Tajikistan to preserve the territorial integrity of the country and to work together to solve Tajikistan's problems, ITAR-TASS reported on 21 May. The Rastokhez appeal was presumably a response to recent threats by the authorities in two of Tajikistan's oblasts to secede from the country. (Bess Brown) REASSURING RUSSIANS IN TAJIKISTAN. The news agencies NEGA and Ekspres-khronika reported on 19 May that members of the Tajik government had met with representatives of the Russian population of Tajikistan to discuss ways to reassure the Russians and persuade them to remain in the country. Large-scale emigration of Russians from Tajikistan, which began after the 1990 disturbances in Dushanbe, has already affected health-care and education. The continued flight of Tajikistan's Russian population will also cause serious problems in industry, where the Russians constitute the majority. (Bess Brown) MORE ON RUSSIAN MILITARY INVOLVEMENT IN DNIESTER FIGHTING. Moldovan military officials told the RFE/RL Research Institute on 21 May that uniformed servicemen of Russia's 14th Army continued to fire on Moldovan positions on both banks of the Dniester. An additional armored convoy moved out of Army barracks in Tiraspol and took up fighting positions in Grigoriopol raion, securing new areas for the "Dniester" forces. After announcing on 19 May that he had lost control of elements of his 14th Army, who were disobeying orders to observe neutrality, Maj. Gen. Yurii Netkachev retracted that on Russian TV on 20 May. Nevertheless, unidentified "Russian military spokesmen" quoted by The Washington Post on 21 May "acknowledged that soldiers had been ordered out of the barracks to 'defend' Russian-speaking areas." (Vladimir Socor) MAKASHOV EMERGES AS MILITARY ADVISER TO "DNIESTER REPUBLIC." Col. Gen. Albert Makashov, a pro-communist and Russian ultranationalist, arrived in the self-styled "Dniester republic" on an "inspection visit" and was appointed military adviser to "Dniester" president Igor Smirnov, Moscow media reported on 16-17 May. Makashov was again reported in Tiraspol by ITAR-TASS correspondents in Moldova on 20 May. His continued presence there opens the possibility that the former commander of the Ural-Volga military district has had a hand in the planning and conduct of the "Dniester" offensive. (Vladimir Socor) PAN-RUSSIAN POLITICAL, MILITARY GROUPS MOBILIZE FOR "DNIESTER REPUBLIC." Moscow media reported on 16-17 May on a meeting of the Russian ultranationalist staffs of the newspaper Den and of the television program "600 seconds," at which such figures as Colonel Viktor Alksnis and Aleksandr Nevzorov expressed vocal support for the "Dniester republic." Communist and "national-patriotic" political groups in Russia have formed a "Russian National Committee to Support the Dniester Republic" and launched a recruiting drive for volunteers to be sent to the Dniester, ITAR-TASS reported on 19 May. Russian Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi charged on 19 May that Russians in Moldova were facing a "genocide," Interfax reported. Meanwhile, cossacks in the Kuban are preparing to send additional fighters to the Dniester, ITAR-TASS reported on 20 May. (Vladimir Socor) "DNIESTER" AND CRIMEAN RUSSIAN LEADERS SAID TO CONFER. Le Monde reported on 20 May that Russian leaders in Tiraspol and Simferopil are meeting intermittently and that one topic of discussion is the "Novorossiia" project for a Russian-oriented state that would stretch from the Crimea to the Dniester. Le Monde also quoted a leader in Tiraspol as confidently predicting that the Russian army would only withdraw from eastern Moldova "some time during the twenty-first century." (Vladimir Socor) MOLDOVA'S DNIESTER UKRAINIANS URGE KIEV TO HELP THEM. On 20 May, representatives of the Union of Ukrainians in the Trans-Dniester held a press conference in Kiev to draw attention to the plight of the Ukrainians caught up in the bloody conflict on the left bank of the Dniester between Moldovan forces and the "Dniester republic." Accusing the Ukrainian government of ignoring its blood brothers in a region where today the Ukrainians actually outnumber the Russians, they announced that during the last three months more than 50 Ukrainians had been killed and more than 100 wounded in the fighting. The speakers asked for humanitarian aid and called on Kiev to do more to promote a peaceful settlement of the conflict. (Bohdan Nahaylo) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE YUGOSLAV AREA UPDATE. Radio Bosnia-Herzegovina reports on 21 May that the thousands of Muslim refugees held by Serb militiamen for two days have been released in exchange for safe conduct for federal army troops from their besieged barracks in Sarajevo. Bosnian officials, however, said Gen. Ratko Mladic, the local federal army commander, has no intention of pulling out and that the Serbs released the refugees in exchange for food and medical supplies. Federal army officials have ordered the soldiers out and have sent a high-ranking officer to Sarajevo to enforce the order. There were no reports of heavy fighting in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Bosnian Serb leaders on 21 May ordered a general mobilization of men between the ages of 18 and 60 and women 18-55. EC-sponsored talks in Lisbon between the warring parties in the republic have been postponed because Muslim representatives are unable to attend for security and political reasons. (Milan Andrejevich) UN MISSION IN JEOPARDY; EC BEGINS MASSIVE RELIEF OPERATIONS. The federal army said it is suspending its withdrawal from eastern Croatia for two days after Croatian forces attacked withdrawing columns. The decision slows implementation of UN peacekeeping plans in Croatia. The UN Security Council has issued "an urgent demarche" to the Yugoslav government, saying the UN mission in Croatia is in jeopardy because UN troops are not being allowed to deploy in Serb enclaves as previously agreed. The EC said on 21 May that it has started a humanitarian aid program for the nearly 1.5 million people displaced by the war in the former Yugoslavia. Aid worth $8.3 million will be delivered to Belgrade and Zagreb for distribution. (Milan Andrejevich) KOSOVO EXTREMELY TENSE. Radio Croatia reports on 21 May that Serbian security forces have been placed on high alert in the province of Kosovo, where the Albanian majority plans to hold legislative and presidential elections on 24 May. Serbia calls the elections unconstitutional, but a spokesman for the leading Albanian Democratic League insists they are legal and will be conducted in the open and monitored by international observers. (Milan Andrejevich) BUNDESTAG RATIFIES CZECHOSLOVAK, HUNGARIAN TREATIES. The German Bundestag ratified the overall treaty with Czechoslovakia in Berlin on 20 May, over the opposition of some Christian Democrats. The treaty confirms existing borders but does not deal with property issues. The Bundestag also approved a resolution calling for expellees and other Germans to have the opportunity to settle in Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovak President Vaclav Havel welcomed the ratification and stressed that Czechoslovakia alone cannot meet the property demands of the Sudeten Germans. The resolution was criticized by some German and Czechoslovak deputies for paying too much heed to German claims and downplaying Nazi crimes against Czechoslovakia. In Budapest Hungarian Prime Minister Jozsef Antall greeted the Bundestag's unanimous ratification of the Hungarian-German friendship treaty, calling it of great importance that Germany pledges to support Hungary's admittance to the EC and will help its economic development, MTI reports on 22 May. (Barbara Kroulik & Edith Oltay) PROTESTS OVER RUSSIAN TROOPS IN MOLDOVA. On 21 May the Romanian parliament unanimously protested the "brutal intervention" of the Russian-controlled former Soviet 14th Army in Moldova and called for outside help to stop it. He suggested that the 150-million-lei election campaign fund should be distributed to the victims of "Russian imperial power" in Moldova. On 20 May the Romanian Foreign Ministry called on Russia to withdraw its troops and on 21 May Patriarch Teoctist, head of Romania's Orthodox Church, called on Patriarch Aleksei II of Russia to intervene to the same end. Also on the 21st, the presidium of the Lithuanian Supreme Council issued a statement strongly condemning the army actions as unwarranted interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state and a dangerous precedent, Radio Lithuania reports. In response to the appeal by Moldovan President Mircea Snegur on 20 May, the presidium called on all the involved parties to avoid the further use of force and urged Russia to order its forces to return to their bases. (Mihai Sturdza & Saulius Girnius) BULGARIA, GREECE SIGN COOPERATION TREATY. On 21 May Bulgarian and Greek prime ministers Filip Dimitrov and Constantine Mitsotakis signed a friendship and cooperation treaty that calls for improved bilateral contacts in areas such as business, environment, and science and technology. Parallel agreements to protect investments and establish ties between the armed forces were signed at the same time. Mitsotakis said Bulgarian-Greek relations "constitute one of the strongest foundations for establishing stability and progress in the Balkans." The two also discussed regional problems and agreed that unchanged borders, including those within ex-Yugoslavia, remain a "condition for peace and stability." Bulgarian-Greek differences regarding the ex-Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia were discussed, but without progress. Bulgaria was the first country to recognize the Republic of Macedonia, but Greece holds the view that use of the name Macedonia implies territorial claims on the northern Greek province of the same name. (Kjell Engelbrekt) CZECHOSLOVAK ELECTION APPEAL TO HUNGARIAN PRESS. In a letter of 20 May, Valtr Komarek and Frantisek Sebej, chairmen of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee, asked their Hungarian counterparts to see that the Budapest media "refrain from involvement in the Czechoslovak election campaign," specifically by not taking sides or discriminating against any political party or movement, either intentionally or unintentionally, CSTK reports. Three of the 40 parties running for seats in the federal, Czech, and Slovak parliaments represent citizens of the half-million ethnic Hungarians, most of whom live in Slovakia. The campaign for the 5-6 June elections officially began on 13 May. (Peter Matuska) POST-ELECTION AGENDA OF THE CZECHOSLOVAK FEDERAL ASSEMBLY. On 20 May the federal parliament's presidium said that on 25 June, after the elections, separate constituent sessions of the parliament's two houses will be held to select their organs and officers. The federal government is expected to resign on the 25th or 26th, although it could remain in power through 5 October according to the constitution. The presidium said it would be desirable for a new government to be appointed by President Vaclav Havel before the end of his term, but Havel himself did not think the coalition talks would be concluded before 3 July, when the election of a new president is scheduled to start, CSTK reports. (Peter Matuska) HAVEL LOSES ANOTHER AIDE. On 20 May Mlada fronta dnes said Vera Caslavska, an Olympic multiple gold medalist (in 1964 and 1968) and advisor to President Vaclav Havel since 1990, wants to quit because of the "heavy physical and psychic burden" of her job. Four advisors have already left in recent months to join the election campaign: Jiri Krizan, Ladislav Kantor, Ivan Gabal, Miroslav Kusy. The Prague daily observed that the level of Havel's personal confidence in his old associates "often exceeded their professionalism; it seems he has changed his view." (Peter Matuska) ANTALL ON HUNGARIANS IN UKRAINE. Hungarian Prime Minister Jozsef Antall proposed to his Ukrainian counterpart Vitold Fokin on 21 May in Budapest that "some kind of autonomy" be created for ethnic Hungarians living in the Transcarpathian region, MTI reports. ITAR-TASS quotes Fokin as replying that Antall's proposal is worthy of consideration, but he believes such moves toward autonomy are not in keeping with the current trend toward unification in Europe. Antall stressed that the question of minority rights plays a "very important" role in Hungarian-Ukrainian relations, and that the situation of the Hungarian minority in Ukraine serves as an example of the proper treatment of minorities. This is the first official visit to Hungary by a Ukrainian Prime Minister. (Edith Oltay) KRAVCHUK TO ESTONIA. Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk is set to visit Estonia on 25 May, principally to sign an agreement furthering bilateral cooperation in political, economic, and cultural spheres, ETA reports. (Riina Kionka) RUSSIAN ENVOY ACCREDITED IN LATVIA. On 21 May Aleksandr Rannikh presented his credentials to Latvian Supreme Council Chairman Anatolijs Gorbunovs. He told the press afterwards that working out a schedule for the withdrawal of ex-USSR troops from Latvia is complicated by both strategic and economic factors, stressing that the troops should not be seen as occupation forces. He said that the failure of Russia to honor its economic accords with Latvia is due to economic problems in Russia rather than a policy of economic sanctions, and emphasized the need for continued economic cooperation. Rannikh added that the choice of citizenship of Russians living in Latvia should be determined by whatever factors ease their residence in Latvia, BNS reported on 21 May. (Dzintra Bungs) GRACHEV: TROOP WITHDRAWAL FROM BALTICS COMPLETED BY 1994? Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev described to Izvestia of 21 May his impressions of the Russian Security Council session of 20 May, were, among other things, the withdrawal of Russian troops from neighboring lands was discussed. He said: "The withdrawal of troops from the Baltic States can realistically be completed in 1994 together with the withdrawal of the Western Group of Forces from Germany." This is the first indication by a top Russian official of when the troop pullout might be finished; a withdrawal schedule still remains to be negotiated. (Dzintra Bungs) FINLAND COMPENSATES ESTONIAN SOLDIERS. Estonian volunteers who fought with Finnish forces against the USSR in 1943-44 will finally be compensated for their service. According to Paevaleht of 22 May, Estonian and Finnish state banking officials agreed on 21 May that some 300 "Finnish boys" (Soomepoisid) who live in Estonia and who deposited their combat pay in two Finnish banks will receive the pay--plus interest--that has been waiting for them since the Soviet annexation. About $86,000 will be transferred from Helsinki to the Estonian Bank, which will distribute the money to the soldiers or their beneficiaries. Of some 3,700 Estonian men who fought in the Finnish Army, about 600 are estimated to be living. (Riina Kionka) ROMANIAN BROADCAST UNIONS STRIKE. Some 3,400 of the 5,000 workers at the state-owned radio and television company went on a two-hour warning strike on 21 May over unresolved wage and labor demands. Union leader Dumitru Iuga claimed that Romanian Radio and TV "remains the same old bastion of diehard communists" and are under the control of the authorities. Foreign and local media carried the story. (Mihai Sturdza) POLISH WORKERS PLAN STRIKE OVER FIAT DEAL WITH FIAT. On 21 May a trade union leader at the state-owned FSM automaker in Tychy, near Katowice, said workers are considering a strike to protest the 5,500 layoffs envisaged by a deal reached this week with the Italian car manufacturer. Kazimiera Glogowka, a Solidarity Union presidium member, told newsmen that three unions at the plant had begun a strike alert. Western and Polish wire services carried the story. (Wladyslaw Minkiewicz) ESTONIAN INTERIOR MINISTER UNDER FIRE. On 21 May a group of 27 deputies in the Supreme Council asked that their colleagues take a vote of no-confidence in Interior Minister Robert Narska, Rahva Haal reports on 22 May. The group, led by prominent members of former Prime Minister Edgar Savisaar's leftist-nationalist People's Center Party, criticized both Narska's performance in his three months as minister as well as his work as chairman of the government commission charged with preparing voter and citizenship lists. Deputy Vello Pohla accused Narska of sympathizing with the politics of the Committee of Estonia. Given Narska's short tenure, the stated reasons for yesterday's move seem thin and the call for a no-confidence vote is likely a new offensive by Savisaar and his supporters in their jockeying to regain power. (Riina Kionka) MOTIEKA PUBLICLY SPLITS FROM LANDSBERGIS. On 21 May at the session of the Lithuanian Supreme Council, broadcast live by Radio Lithuania, its deputy chairman Kazimieras Motieka read an appeal by 34 deputies of various factions that condemned the increased radicalization in the republic. The appeal stated that the 23 May referendum on the president was thrust upon Lithuania by a "political grouping seeking to speak in the name of the nation" and called for the rapid passage of a new constitution and the holding of parliamentary and presidential elections in the fall. It deplored the failure to reach an agreement of holding all the referendums the same day. It is rumored that Motieka might decide to run against Landsbergis for president. (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.) in Munich, Germany, with the assistance of the RFE/RL News and Current Affairs Division (NCA). The report is available Monday through Friday, except holidays, at approximately 0800 US Eastern Time (1400 Central European Time) by fax, post, or e- mail. The report is also posted daily on the SOVSET computer network. 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