|If you are not allowed to laugh in heaven, I don't want to go there. - Martin Luther|
No. 115, 19 June 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR YELTSIN LEAVES WASHINGTON. Russian President Boris Yeltsin left Washington on 18 June after signing the agreement to cut Russian and US long-range nuclear weapons by about two-thirds, Russian and Western agencies reported. Yeltsin noted that with the end of the Cold War, nuclear weapons have turned out to be obsolete and unnecessary. He also signed a "Charter for American-Russian Partnership and Friendship" that is aimed at creating a peaceful alliance of all democratic nations and calls for the creation of "a Euro-Atlantic peacekeeping capability" under the auspices of the CSCE. Other agreements signed during the summit covered global protection systems, non-proliferation of weapons, space cooperation, double taxation rights and a bilateral investment treaty. (Alexander Rahr) HARDLINERS THREATEN YELTSIN OVER ARMS CUTS. The leader of the Communist faction in the Russian parliament, Sergei Baburin, said on 18June that Washington's enthusiastic support for President Boris Yeltsin was the "pay-back for his effective military surrender," Reuters reported on 18 June. Another hardline deputy, Nikolai Pavlov, noted that if Yeltsin starts to conduct serious cuts in the country's strategic arsenal, as agreed upon in Washington, terrorist brigades will be set up in Moscow to prevent Yeltsin from what he called "a wholesale surrender to the West after decades of bitter competition with capitalism." (Alexander Rahr) KRAVCHUK SUPPORTS NUCLEAR ARMS ACCORD, BUT... At a 17 June press conference in Paris, Ukrainian President Leonid Kravhcuk endorsed the previous day's Russo/American accord on further cuts in strategic nuclear weapons. However, ITAR-TASS reported that the Ukrainian leader stressed that the agreement reached in Washington applied to Russia alone, and not to the other three republics of the former Soviet Union where strategic nuclear weapons are locatedUkraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. (Doug Clarke) ON RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA. Kravchuk also told journalists that he will discuss relations with Russia at his scheduled meeting with Boris Yeltsin on 23June. The Crimean issue, however, will not be on the agenda as it is an internal Ukrainian matter. Further, Kravchuk repeated his view that the CIS can play an important role if all of its members are viewed as equals. (Roman Solchanyk) INITIAL AGREEMENT ON NAGORNO-KARABAKH PEACE SETTLEMENT. Armenia and Azerbaijan reached a preliminary agreement on 18 June at the CSCE-sponsored Karabakh peace talks in Rome to appeal for a ceasefire and to send international observers to the region, Western agencies reported. The CSCE peace conference due to open in Minsk on 23 June has been postponed to allow further time for preparation. Also on 18 June, the US and the EC called on both sides to cease hostilities immediately and to renew their commitment to Helsinki principles, while France and Azerbaijan appealed to the UN Security Council to take measures to stop the fighting. Meanwhile the government of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic declared a state of emergency and general mobilization on 18 June as the Azerbaijani assault intensified, ITAR-TASS reported. (Liz Fuller) SHAKHRAI PREDICTS YELTSIN'S OUSTER. Sergei Shakhrai, who recently resigned as Yeltsin's legal advisor, said in Komsomolskaya pravda on 18 June that he is "almost certain" that hardliners will attempt in the coming months to force Yeltsin from power. He predicted that power will be transferred to "a collective leadership" in the Security Council that will command overall authority in the country and that Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi could play a decisive role in the coup. He noted that the parliament will support Yeltsin's ouster. He predicted that a "national-patriotic fascist dictatorship" will emerge since it is very easy for a personality of the like of Adolf Hitler to come to power through elections in Russia today. (Alexander Rahr) VOLSKY SAYS GAIDAR FACES CONFIRMATION FIGHT. Some doubt still hangs over Boris Yeltsin's appointment of Egor Gaidar as prime minister, since it is not clear whether Yeltsin himself remembered to resign from the post before nominating Gaidar. Meanwhile Arkadii Volsky, chairman of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, told Handelsblatt on 17 June that Gaidar's appointment would have to confirmed by parliament and that this would "not be easy." Doubts about the constitutionality of the appointment were expressed in the Russian Supreme Soviet on 17 June by the leader of the "Change--New Policy" parliamentary group. (Elizabeth Teague) VOLSKY AND TRAVKIN TO FORM ALLIANCE. It was announced on 17 June that the recently created "Renewal" party, which is headed by Arkadii Volsky and represents the industrial lobby, is to ally with Nikolai Travkin's Democratic Party of Russia and the People's Party of Free Russia (led by Vasilii Lipitsky but originally founded by Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi). The new political organization, which describes itself as a "moderate conservative" party in "constructive opposition" to the Yeltsin/Gaidar team, will be called "Civic Union" and will be formed in Moscow on 21 June; Volsky told Handelsblatt on 17 June that he would head it. It seems set to become Russia's largest party (if not yet "Russia's new ruling party" as some in Moscow had already begun to call "Renewal"). (Elizabeth Teague) "MOVEMENT OF OPPOSITION FORCES" PROPOSED. Interfax reported on 16 June 1992 that the Russian minister of the press and information, Mikhail Poltoranin, had met with leaders of the communists and other hardliners demonstrating outside the Ostankino TV and radio center. Poltoranin reportedly proposed the creation of an "all-Russian congress or movement of opposition forces." Such a body should work out its political platform for publication in the mass media; then, Poltoranin said, there could be a serious dialogue between the opposition and the government. (Elizabeth Teague) RUSSIAN LAW ON MONETARY SYSTEM. On 18 June, the Russian parliament passed a law on the monetary system of the Russian Federation, ITAR-TASS reported. This stipulated, among other things, that "the ruble may be used as a currency unit by other countries, but only on the basis of inter-state agreements signed by the Russian Federation." The parliament instructed the government and the central bank to "take measures to encourage in every possible way the introduction of non-cash payments to ensure the curtailment of the need for cash and also the improvement of encashment of the trade returns." The law comes into effect on 1 July. (Keith Bush) ONE TRILLION RUBLES' WORTH OF NEW BANKNOTES. The Managing Director of the Russian Central Bank, Aleksandr Zinchenko, told Interfax on 18 June that Russia plans to print up to one trillion (a million million) rubles' worth of new banknotes between July and September. He reckoned that the country's cash crisis should end in August when 5,000-ruble notes go into circulation. (Keith Bush) RUSSIA TO EXPORT LABOR. Deputy Minister of Labor Igor Khalevinsky urged temporary employment abroad for Russian citizens at a 16 June press conference, ITAR-TASS reported. In order to ensure the rights of its citizens, Khalevinsky said the labor emigration would have to be controlled by the Russian government. He believes that specialists would acquire skills abroad that upon their return would contribute to the economic and scientific growth of Russia. Sending workers abroad would ease unemployment and put hard currency in the treasury as the government would collect a percentage of the wages earned abroad. Russia has concluded agreements for its citizens to work in Germany and Finland, and is negotiating with other European and Persian Gulf countries. It has already reached an agreement with Germany granting 13,000 jobs to Russian building engineers. (Sarah Helmstadter) UKRAINE'S 1992 BUDGET APPROVED. After four abortive attempts and nearly half-way through the year, the Ukrainian parliament approved the state budget for 1992 on 18 June, Reuters reported. Revenues are set at 1,180 billion rubles, and expenditures at 1,230 billion rubles, leaving a planned budget deficit of 54 billion rubles, equivalent to 2% of the GNP. (Keith Bush) KAZAKH OPPOSITION DEMONSTRATES. Interfax reported on 17 June that about 5,000 demonstrators from several Kazakh opposition groups protested in front of the parliament to demand the resignation of the government and of the Supreme Soviet deputies elected by the Communist Party, Komosomol and other organizations that no longer exist. Jeltoqsan party leader Hasen Kozhahmetov threatened that if the demands of the rally were ignored by parliament, the groups would organize a 100,000-strong demonstration and push events along a course such as was followed in Dushanbe. Organizers of the Alma-Ata demonstration said earlier that they would demand the formation of a "Government of National Reconciliation," including members of the opposition, like that set in Tajikistan. (Cassandra Cavanaugh) GOVERNMENT CRACKS DOWN. On 18 June Kazakh OMON troops cleared away the tent camp set up in front of the Supreme Soviet building by opposition protestors, whose number was estimated at 15,000, according to Interfax. No arrests were reported, but an Interior Ministry spokesman stated that the demonstration was not sanctioned by city officials and was therefore illegal. President Nursultan Nazarbaev has asked parliament to consider a ban on unregistered political groups. (Cassandra Cavanaugh) CIS OFFICERS ASSEMBLY MEETS. The Coordinating Council of the CIS All Army Officers Assembly met for two days this week in Moscow. The officers were concerned about the failure of recent legislation to adequately protect the rights of servicemen and about internal CIS conflicts. According to Novosti on 18 June, 240,000 families of servicemen remain without adequate housing, and of the 120,000 apartments scheduled for their use, only 3,400 have so far been provided. Conference participants also urged an end to the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Captain Aleksandr Mochaikin, Chairman of the Coordinating Council, told ITAR-TASS at the conference that the fate of three servicemen captured in Azerbaijan in February was still not resolved. Participants also claimed that they have been abandoned politically and must now protect themselves. (Chris Hummel) SHAPOSHNIKOV'S PROPOSAL ON BLACK SEA FLEET. Marshal Evgenii Shaposhnikov, the commander in chief of the CIS joint armed forces, has suggested that one possible solution to the current impasse over the ex-Soviet Black Sea Fleet would be to divide it up among all the members of the CIS. He made this suggestion at the same Officers Assembly meeting. According to an RIA account, Shaposhnikov said that after such a division, the other CIS countriesless Ukrainewould then "delegate" their shares of the fleet to Russia. (Doug Clarke) ... AND A DUAL COMMAND IN SEVASTOPOL. ITAR-TASS on 18 June reported that there were two commanders of the Sevastopol Garrison: one from Ukraine and one from the Commonwealth armed forces. The bulk of the Black Sea Fleet is based at this Crimean port. The Ukrainian defense ministry has appointed Rear Admiral Boris Kozhin, the designated commander of the Ukrainian Navy, to the post, while Vice Admiral Vitalii Larionov remains in the post he has occupied for the last four years. The Ukrainian ministry indicated that Kozhin's authority would be only over "the Ukrainian units" of the garrison, and he would not interfere in the Black Sea Fleet's problems until its legal and political status was determined. The report said that the CIS fleet command charged that this latest Ukrainian move violated the republic's earlier pledge to avoid unilateral actions regarding the fleet. (Doug Clarke) GEORGIAN MILITIA COMMANDER KILLED BY BOMB. Tamaz Kurashvili, deputy commander of the Mkhedrioni militia group, was killed by a car bomb in Tbilisi on 17 June, Russian TV reported on 18 June. It is not known who was responsible for the attack. Seven people died in a similar attempt to murder Mkhedrioni leader Dzhaba Ioseliani on 13 June. Georgia's permanent representative in Moscow was quoted by ITAR-TASS on 17 June as claiming that preliminary investigations pointed to Groznyi, where ousted president Zviad Gamsakhurdia is currently living. (Liz Fuller) "DNIESTER REPUBLIC" FORMING OWN ARMY. Implementing plans made clear earlier this year, the self-styled "Dniester republic" has formally announced that it is forming an army. The former deputy chief of staff of Russia's 14th Army, Colonel Stefan Kitsak, has been "promoted" to Major General, appointed "defense minister," and formally instructed to "form a Dniester army" by the would-be republic's president Igor Smirnov, Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported on 18June. Kitsak told the newspaper in an interview that the "Dniester" army is instituting a draft and would "buy hardware, including heavy equipment." The equipment currently used by the "Dniester" forces has been obtained from the 14th Army, with whom Kitsak said they have "normal, friendly working relations". Russian TV's "Vesti' reported on 17 June that the "Dniester" military draft has already begun. (Vladimir Socor) THE "DNIESTER DEFENSE MINISTER". An ethnic Romanian native of northern Bukovina, Kitsak is a veteran Soviet paratroop officer who participated in the invasions of Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968 (Nezavisimaya Gazeta of 18 June said that he was among those who entered Prague in the night of 20 to 21 August), and Afghanistan. During 1991 he stated repeatedly that the "Dniester republic" stood for returning the USSR to the situation that existed prior to 1985. (Vladimir Socor) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE CZECH-SLOVAK TALKS. In talks on 17 June Vaclav Klaus of the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) and Vladimir Meciar of the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) agreed on a smaller, 10-member cabinet, to be evenly divided between Czechs and Slovaks, with a Czech to be prime minister. Klaus said he would rather be Czech premier than head a federal government set to self-destruct, as he has little faith in the longevity of this government and its ability to function. Meciar said he plans to become Slovak premier. President Vaclav Havel on 18 June shrugged off Klaus' decision to turn down the post of federal prime minister and dismissed the claim that the incoming government would serve only long enough to dissolve the federation. The fourth round of talks, to be held in Bratislava on 19 June, will focus on the exact makeup of the new federal government, CSTK and foreign agencies report. On 18 June hundreds of Czechs rallied in support of Havel. A petition calling on the Czech Republic to preempt the split with Slovakia has gathered 50,000 signatures. (Barbara Kroulik) MORE ON CROATIAN-BOSNIAN "MILITARY AGREEMENT." The 16 June Vjesnik carried the text of the understanding reached over the phone between Presidents Franjo Tudjman and Alija Izetbegovic. It includes vague calls for Croatian military "support" for Bosnia-Herzegovina, but appears designed mainly to ensure that future Croatian or Croatian-backed military activity on its neighbor's territory will have the approval of the Bosnian authorities. It therefore should not be seen necessarily as a move against UN-sponsored peace efforts. The 19 June Washington Post says nonetheless that Bosnian Muslims and Croats are increasingly coming to suspect the UN forces of pro-Serbian leanings, and adds that Sarajevo residents have dubbed the troops the "UN bungling force." (Patrick Moore) OTHER AREA DEVELOPMENTS. On 18 June international media report that UN forces began setting up operations at Sarajevo airport, with a view toward opening it to relief shipments if a cease-fire can be made to stick. On 17 June Western news agencies said that two Greek diplomats had left for Belgrade and talks with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. Greece, like Romania, is a historic ally of Serbia and has been reluctant to join international efforts to place the Milosevic regime in the dock. Finally, on 17 June Bosnia-Herzegovina appealed to an international conference of Islamic foreign ministers in Istanbul for military intervention. (Patrick Moore) ROMAN WON'T RUN FOR PRESIDENCY. A report on 17 June said that former Romanian premier, Petre Roman, now chairman of the National Salvation Front, has decided not to seek the country's presidency in elections scheduled for 27 September, foreign agencies report. In an interview with Rompres on 18 June, President Ion Iliescu confirmed that he will run again. The main opposition coalition, the Democratic Convention, is scheduled to choose its own presidential candidate by the end of the month. (Crisula Stefanescu) TWO MORE MINISTERS IN ESTONIA. After several weeks of trying, the Estonian Supreme Council on 18 June finally confirmed a candidate to head the newly-established Ministry of Defense, BNS reports. The new minister is Ulo Uluots, a member of the left-of-center Independent Democratic party and a former Popular Front leader. He was born in 1930 and was trained at the Tallinn Technical University. Jaan Kabin was also confirmed as Minister of Construction. Born in 1938 and also a Tallinn Technical University graduate, Kabin has spent his entire professional life working at Estonia's largest cooperative construction company, EKE. (Riina Kionka) ESTONIAN ELECTION LAW REVISEDAGAIN. In a surprise move the Supreme Council on 18 June passed a revision to the election law enfranchising all Estonian citizens, regardless of their place of residence, in parliamentary elections. Passage of the amendment will allow several thousand emigre Estonians abroad to vote in elections this fall. The motion, bitterly debated for months, was brought by the Independent Democratic Party. Because the party had not supported a revision of the law along these lines before, yesterday's move fueled speculation that their support was a quid pro quo for confirmation of Independent Democrat Ulo Uluots as Defense Minister. (Riina Kionka) PROGRESS IN SETTING LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT ELECTIONS? On 18 June the Supreme Council voted to hold elections to the new parliament on 25 October, Radio Lithuania reports. The election date had been decided in meetings between the parliament's factions that also proposed that 71 deputies be elected directly and 70 by a proportional system. Due to the lack of a full quorum, the vote is nonbinding and will be voted on again at the next session on 23 June. (Saulius Girnius) POLISH AGENTS UPDATE. Uproar over the issue of secret police collaborators continues to dominate Polish politics. On 17 June the special parliamentary commission formed to investigate the disclosures begun by the ousted government requested an additional two weeks to complete its work. Former acting defense minister Romuald Szeremietiew refused to testify before the commission until "all agents are purged from the Sejm and Senate." Former Prime Minister Jan Olszewski did testify, and defended his government's approach as the only one possible. According to a report in Gazeta wyborcza of 19 June, Internal Affairs Minister Antoni Macierewicz testified that President Lech Walesa's closest assistants had tried to bully him into keeping the president's police files secret. During a session that featured rancorous debate over Walesa's fitness for office, the Senate voted on 17 June to draft its own lustration law. Finally, Polish Primate Cardinal Jozef Glemp used Corpus Christi celebrations on 18 June to condemn the "chaos" that has consumed public life and confused good and evil in Poland. (Louisa Vinton) MORE ON HUNGARIAN MEDIA FLAP. According to MTI on 17 June, the parliamentary cultural committee of parliament continued discussions on the fate and possible dismissal of Elemer Hankiss, chairman of Hungarian TV. Smallholder deputy Istvan Prepeliczay told the committee that Hankiss's comments about US President Bush at a previous committee hearing necessitated a personal apology from Foreign Minister Geza Jeszenszky to the American ambassador. The hearing heard a report on a financially unfavorable contract Hungarian TV had signed with Novofilm, a company that had previously employed the business manager of Hungarian TV. Hankiss denied any impropriety. After 11 hours of hearings and often vicious fights between deputies representing coalition and opposition parties, the committee recommended Hankiss's dismissal. (Judith Pataki) THE KROON IS COMING! The Estonian government has announced its long-planned currency reform for 20 June, the RFE/RL Estonian Service reports. Starting that day and for the next two days, all permanent residents of Estonia will be allowed to exchange 1,500 rubles into the kroon (it rhymes with "prawn") at an exchange rate to be announced on 19 June. Bank accounts will also be converted, but most likely at variable rates. A changed tax structure intended to stabilize the state budget was also announced. According to the plan, Estonia's value added tax will be raised to 18%, tax on business profits will be set at 35%, and individuals who earn more than the kroon equivalent of 20,000 rubles (or ten times the current minimum wage) will pay 50% to the state. Estonian banking officials chose to introduce the kroon on 20 June in honor of Germany's 1948 currency reform. (Riina Kionka) HUNGARIANS' HARD CURRENCY ALLOWANCE RAISED. On 18 June Radio Budapest reported that the government will raise the ceiling on the amount of hard currency a citizen may possess from $50 to $350. The move will be discussed with the IMF on Monday. Principal beneficiaries are Hungarians traveling abroad who have often had to depend on illegal sources for hard currency expenses. The move is also seen as a step towards convertibility of the forint. (Judith Pataki) WARSAW GETS NEW AIRPORT, BIG MACS. Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak hailed the opening of Warsaw's new modern airport, Okecie II, on 17 June as an example of fruitful Polish-German economic cooperation. Built in two years by the German Hochtief firm, the $189-million airport will be paid for out of future airport profits. Also on 17 June the McDonald's hamburger chain opened its first restaurant in Warsaw. McDonald's is a relative latecomer to Poland, in part because Polish potatoes have failed to pass muster for the chain's French fries. Its decision to import potatoes from Russia has caused some controversy, including among members of Pawlak's own Polish Peasant Party, the Times reports on 17 June. In another business development, the American firm CPC International paid $8.8 million for an 80% share in the Polish firm Amino SA, which produces dried soups, desserts, and pasta. (Louisa Vinton) CRISIS IN BULGARIAN OIL PROCESSING INDUSTRY. On 16 June BTA reported that production at the Neftochim refinery in Burgas stopped because of lack of crude oil. The dailies on 18 June said that the Bulgarian National Bank had blocked the accounts of Neftochim and the other large oil processing plant, Plama in Pleven, because of their debts against credits from the state fund for reconstruction and development. While no strike is planned, the Podkrepa labor union with the support of various firms in Burgas has threatened to block the port and gasoline stations in the region. On 18 June the government recommended that Neftochim's creditors postpone payments of its debt while the government examines its situation. (Rada Nikolaev) CALLS FOR LATVIA TO TAKE OVER MILITARY FACILITIES. Supreme Council deputies Juris Dobelis and Odisejs Kostanda told the press on 15 June that currently there are five groups of ex-USSR armed forces in Latvia: army, navy, air force, air defense, and border guards. They also said that they have compiled a list of deserted or nearly deserted military facilities over which Latvia should establish authority without delay. Regarding those facilities in active use, they urged local governments to act in accordance with the directives of a government bureau dealing with the issues and the appropriate structures of the Supreme Council, BNS reports. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIANS MARK OCCUPATION ANNIVERSARY. On 17 June Latvians commemorated the invasion of the Red Army 52 years ago and demanded again a prompt withdrawal of the ex-USSR troops. The main observance was in Riga, where Supreme Council Deputy Odisejs Kostanda urged Latvians to work harder for the pullout of the troops, keep track of the military's activities, and take over the ex-Soviet military facilities that are nearly deserted in accordance with Latvian laws. The participants also picketed peacefully the headquarters of the Northwestern Group of Forces, where they were watched by a beefed-up contingent of guards in battle attire and members of the army fire brigade, Radio Riga reports. (Dzintra Bungs) FATE OF FOUR RUSSIAN SOLDIERS UNCLEAR. Four soldiers who sought protection from the Latvian authorities in Gulbene held a press conference in Riga on 17 June. They said that they came from the Tyumen region and would like to return there to complete their military service. They had arrived in Latvia, along with about 18 other recruits from that region, on 7 June. They had responded to a Russian army campaign for recruiting men to serve specifically in the Baltic area. They said that despite the pay that they were promised--around 1500 rubles a month--upon arrival in Latvia they realized that they did not want to serve in a foreign country. It was pointed out that the recruits should not be considered deserters, since they had not yet given their soldier's oath, BNS and Diena report. (Dzintra Bungs) ZHELEV BACK FROM LATIN AMERICA. President Zhelev returned on 17 June from his ten-day tour, which, besides his participation in the Rio ecological summit, included official visits to Venezuela, Uruguay, and Argentina. Zhelev and the Bulgarian media assessed the trip as a success in renewing Bulgaria's presence in a region neglected by the old regime. The embassy in Uruguay, closed down by the last communist government, will be reopened. The businessmen who accompanied the president established useful contacts. Zhelev told BTA that Brazil ordered 200,000 tons of cement and Venezuela may buy 100 railway carriages in exchange for iron ore. Argentina and Uruguay had expressed interest in joint ventures in fishing. (Rada Nikolaev) LILOV ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT CHINA. Aleksandar Lilov, until last December Chairman of the BSP and now director of the BSP's Center for Strategic Studies, described in Duma of 16 June his recent visit to China at the invitation of the Chinese Association for International Exchanges. Lilov was impressed with success of economic reform in China and played down shortcomings in its democratic development. He said China is building a socialist society with specific Chinese characteristics. (Rada Nikolaev) FLOODS IN ROMANIA. As a result of heavy rains in northeast Romania 850 houses were flooded and a two-year-old girl was swept away to her death, many cultivated hectares are under water, gas pipes and electricity lines are disconnected, and several national roads are impassible, Rompres reports on 18 June. (Crisula Stefanescu) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Stephen Foye 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. 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