|To appreciate nonsense requires a serious interest in life. - Gelett Burgess|
No. 118, 24 June 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR UKRAINE AND RUSSIA REACH AGREEMENT. Ukraine and Russia signed an 18-point agreement on 23 June in the Black Sea resort town of Dagomys that both sides hailed as a major turning point in the often stormy relations between the two countries, CIS and Western agencies reported. The accord on interstate relations encompasses political, economic, military, and other issues and sets the framework for a future comprehensive political treaty. The agreement confirms the terms of the November 1990 treaty between the two countries as well as other accords. It provides for the introduction of a Ukrainian currency and establishes the principle of open borders with the gradual introduction of customs controls. Both sides agreed that their economic relations will in future be based on world prices. A joint commission charged with working out the division of the assets of the former Soviet Union is also to be established. As previously agreed, the thorny Crimean issue was not on the agenda. (Roman Solchanyk) RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN ACCORD ON SECURITY ISSUES. The 23 June agreement also contained a number of articles aimed at overcoming disagreements between Russia and Ukraine in the security sphere. Both sides restated their adherence to previously reached accords on the status of strategic forces in the CIS, agreed to pursue consultations on implementing the START agreement and other international accords on limiting nuclear arms, and agreed to move quickly on ratifying the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty. They also attempted to defuse tensions surrounding control of the Black Sea Fleet by saying that both Russia and Ukraine would get portions of the fleet with the rest remaining under CIS command; both sides would contribute to the financial maintenance of the fleet. Agreements were also reached on military oaths and utilizing housing for servicemen made available by Germany. (Stephen Foye) GRACHEV ON STRATEGIC FORCES. Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev sounded a discordant note in Dagomys, accusing Kiev of continuing efforts to establish administrative control over strategic forces located in Ukraine. He stated that the "unambiguous" Russian view was that the strategic forces must remain subordinated to the CIS central military command. (Stephen Foye) TERRITORIAL LOSS MAY FORCE MOLDOVA TO REUNIFY WITH ROMANIA. Interviewed by Radio Free Europe on 23 June, Romanian Foreign Minister Adrian Nastase dismissed the claim that the Russian insurgency in Moldova stems from fear of unification with Romania as "an interesting case of disinformation." However, Nastase said cryptically that should Russian policy proceed on that assumption and try to deprive Moldova of the Dniester region, it would probably produce the result it wishes to avoid--i.e. Moldova's reunification with Romania. In a report from Moldova, subtitled, "Most of the Population Fears 'Reunification' with Romania," Die Tageszeitung of 23 June cited a leader of the Moldovan Social Democratic Party and a Foreign Ministry official as saying that continuing reverses in the Dniester conflict and lack of international support would force Chisinau to shift toward Romania, marking "the collapse of its policy of [state] independence." (Vladimir Socor) SHEVARDNADZE-SNEGUR COMMUNIQUE. On 22 June, Moldovapres released a joint statement by Georgian State Council President Eduard Shevardnadze and Moldovan President Mircea Snegur, on which the two presidents agreed by telephone. The statement said that "the newly independent states are faced with a recurrence of Russian imperial thinking" and that "conflicts develop precisely in the areas where Russian troops are located." "Russia supports authoritarian and neocommunist forces [in the republics], a course of action that endangers Russia itself." The joint communique also noted that, "certain [Russian] circles seek new enemies ultimately in order to end democracy and reforms in Russia and reestablish a dictatorial and militarist regime there." (Vladimir Socor) US URGES WITHDRAWAL OF RUSSIAN ARMY FROM MOLDOVA. US officials told The Washington Post of 23 June that "it has been the US position for months that Russia should withdraw its 14th Army from Moldova," and that Secretary of State James Baker had taken up the issue in previous meetings with Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev. State Department spokeswoman Margaret Tutwiler also said that while the United States recognizes Yeltsin's concerns about ethnic Russians, it encourages Russia to enter into discussions with Moldova about withdrawing the Russian army from that country. (Vladimir Socor) RUSSIAN OFFICIAL ADVOCATES BORDER REVISION. Evgenii Ambartsumov, chairman of the Russian Supreme Soviet's Committee on International Affairs and a member of the Democratic Russia movement, told Russian TV on 22 June that he "essentially agreed" with Vice-president Aleksandr Rutskoi's recent statements threatening Moldova and Georgia. Refuting Shevardnadze's and Snegur's responses, Ambartsumov said that "the Dniester area was never part of Moldova" and that "if any national-territorial community wants to become part of the Russian Federation, it should not be denied that right." [He omitted the fact that the left bank of the Dniester has been legally Moldovan since 1924 and that Russians are only the third largest ethnic group there.] Opining that "we sometimes overrate the principle of the inviolability of borders," Ambartsumov said that changing the borders of the newly independent states can be justified by both human rights considerations and "the general geopolitical interests of Russia." (Vladimir Socor) MORE CALLS FOR PROTECTION OF RUSSIANS. Russia turned up the heat on Moldova, Georgia, Estonia and Latvia on 23 June with an article in the Russian government's official newspaper Rossiiskaya gazeta on 23 June. In the article, Presidential Counselor Sergei Stankevich criticized Russian foreign policy for its failure to stand up for the rights of the Russian population in other CIS states. He also accused the four named former republics of oppressing their Russian minorities, and threatened the use of force to protect "a thousand-year history [and] legitimate interests" in those former republics. Stankevich called upon the 14th Army stationed in Moldova to defend the Slavic minorities and noted that Russia would soon reemerge as a power (derzhava), capable of protecting its people. (Riina Kionka and Alexander Rahr) "RUKH" PROPOSES UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT OF NATIONAL ACCORD. The former Ukrainian opposition grouped in "Rukh" has appealed to President Leonid Kravchuk to form a government of "national accord" that envisages the removal of Prime Minister Vitold Fokin and his replacement by Kravchuk himself, Radio Ukraine reported on 23 June. In addition, "Rukh" has proposed that certain members of the cabinet be replaced, arguing that they are representatives of the discredited command-administrative system who are unwilling or incapable of implementing the necessary reforms, and has suggested a list of candidates in their stead. The struggle over Fokin's cabinet has been a major issue inside and outside of the parliament for the last several months. (Roman Solchanyk) GAMSAKHURDIA SUPPORTERS SEIZE TBILISI TV TOWER. Some 300 supporters of ousted Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia attacked a CIS military base and seized quantities of arms and a tank. They then proceeded to occupy the Tbilisi TV tower in the early morning of 24 June, and a statement that Georgia's "legitimate government" had been restored was subsequently aired, Western agencies reported. Gamsakhurdia's whereabouts are unclear. It is not known whether Georgian State Council Chairman Eduard Shevardnadze will travel to Dagomys on 24 June as scheduled for talks with Russian President Boris Yeltsin on the Ossetian conflict. (Liz Fuller) ARMENIAN OPPOSITION CALLS ON PRESIDENT TO RESIGN. On 23 June, the opposition Dashnak Party called on Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan to resign, accusing him of "indecisiveness" in the conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, but the Dashnak Party failed to force a vote on the issue, Western agencies and ITAR-TASS reported. Ter-Petrossyan rejected calls for "an economic, political and military union" with the Karabakh Armenian community, arguing that Armenia should try to avoid a military solution to the conflict and abide by internationally recognized principles. (Liz Fuller) UZBEKISTAN: A NON-ALIGNED STATE. During his official visit to Indonesia, Uzbek President Islam Karimov announced that Indonesian President Suharto has agreed to sponsor Uzbekistan's membership in the non-aligned movement, Reuters reported on 23 June. Suharto will take on the chairmanship of the movement at its September summit. Uzbekistan and Indonesia also established diplomatic relations, and concluded a series of trade, scientific and cultural agreements, including barter deals for exchanging Uzbek cotton for Indonesian products. (Cassandra Cavanaugh) STABILIZATION IN TAJIKISTAN. The Presidium of Tajikistan's Supreme Soviet has issued a demand that President Rakhmon Nabiev and the Government of National Reconciliation restore stability to the country, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 June. Fighting continues in many parts of Tajikistan between supporters and opponents of the former government and, according to the presidium's statement, the economy is paralyzed. If Nabiev is unable to put a stop to the disorders, the presidium has threatened to call a session of the Supreme Soviet, which was supposed to be replaced by a Majlis that has never met, and resign collectively. (Bess Brown) RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT DISCUSSES MASS MEDIA. On 23 June, the Russian parliament continued to discuss the situation of the republican mass media, "Vesti" reported. Information Minister Mikhail Poltoranin criticized the media for attacking the Russian political leadership. In his turn, Dean of the Moscow State University Department of Journalism Zasursky condemned Russian state and government officials for interfering in the work of the independent media. Several people's deputies criticized Russian TV for not giving the opposition access to broadcasting. (Vera Tolz) RUBLE LOSES GROUND. The ruble fell sharply for the second straight week on the Moscow interbank currency exchange on 23 June, Russian TV reported. On 9 June, the rate was 112 rubles to the US dollar. It dropped to 129 rubles on 16 June, and to 146 rubles on 23 June. The Russian Central Bank reportedly did not intervene to support the ruble. The bank also dropped its exchange rate to 100 rubles (from 85 rubles) to the dollar for Russian exporters who are obliged to exchange part of their hard-currency earnings, Izvestiya reported on 23 June. (Keith Bush) ERSATZ MONEY FOR RUSSIA. The deputy director of the Russian Central Bank, Vladimir Rasskazov, has ordered the issuing of "ersatz-rubles" for internal use in Russia, Rossiiskaya gazeta reported on 23 June. Experts on the budget planning commission of the Russian parliament suggested the printing of low denomination bonds using simplified technology as a way of speeding up the emission of cash. (Sarah Helmstadter) RUSSIAN OUTPUT DECLINE ACCELERATES. Industrial output in Russia fell by 13% during the first quarter of 1992, and is expected to drop by 16% during the second quarter, Radio Rossii reported on 23 June, citing Imapress. If this turns out to be correct, it would run counter to recent Russian government claims that the decline in output has been slowing in recent months. Imapress also reported that inflation in May slowed to 14%. (Keith Bush) MARKET FORCES AT WORK? Vodka prices in Moscow stores fell on 23 June "Vesti" reported. The price for a bottle of vodka now ranges from 106 to 118 rubles. Competition brought prices down; vodka was reportedly selling for less in other regions in Russia. (Sarah Helmstadter) PRIVATE FARMERS PONDER PROTESTS. Inspired perhaps by the example set by their French counterparts, private farmers of the Moscow Farmers' Union are considering holding mass demonstrations and blocking the roads into the capital, Interfax reported on 23 June. Their chairman declared that the region's small farmers are doomed unless the government takes emergency steps to help them. The farmers claim that the present land allocations, averaging three hectares per farmer, are too small to be viable and should be increased by a factor of ten. They also maintain that government credits are inadequate, and that the costs of buildings and equipment are rising sharply. (Keith Bush) SPACE MANUFACTURING IN TROUBLE. "Novosti" reported on 23 June that all rockets used by Soviet astronauts were produced in the city of Samar (formerly Kubyshev) at the factory "Progress." Most of these rockets were used for defense purposes, including satellite photography and electronic intelligence gathering. The fundamental scientific research that took place on these missions for civilian purposes is now being lost as manufacturers of space technology like "Progress" lose their financing, state orders, supply contacts and highly qualified personnel. Instead of space technology, some factories have reportedly started producing chocolate. (Chris Hummel) OUTBREAK OF DIPHTHERIA IN MOSCOW. Since the beginning of the year 346 people have been hospitalized with diphtheria in Moscow and eight have died, according to a 20 June "Vesti" report. Some 80% of those affected with diphtheria are adults. Medics credit the rise in the infectious disease to the refusal of parents to inoculate children, the shortage of disposable needles, and an ignorance of basic hygiene. (Sarah Helmstadter) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE US MAY TAKE ADDITIONAL STEPS IN BOSNIAN CRISIS, BAKER SAYS. The Los Angeles Times and other major American dailies on 24 June quote Secretary of State James Baker as saying the previous day that Washington is making new diplomatic moves against Serbia and may be considering further steps. The gist of the reports is that the United States seems to be increasingly thinking of multilateral military intervention in Bosnia-Herzegovina, at least to ensure the safety of relief work in Sarajevo. Some 21 people were killed and 135 wounded in fighting there on 23 June alone, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung notes. (Patrick Moore) CROATIAN ARTILLERY TO BREAK SIEGE OF SARAJEVO? The 24 June Washington Post says that the state-of-the-art German-built howitzers that recently enabled Croatian forces to break the Serbian grip on Mostar are now being put into place around Sarajevo. The Bosnian authorities seem to welcome the development but remain uneasy about the Croats' ultimate objectives in the multiethnic republic. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung publishes a list of Croatian and Bosnian doubts about the impartiality of UN peace-keeping forces, while the New York Times suggests that the Croats would like to have the UN out of the way in many places where the Croats now feel they could otherwise consolidate their position militarily. (Patrick Moore) SERB POLICE PREVENT MEETING OF KOSOVO LEGISLATURE. The 24 June Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports that "heavily armed Serbian police" prevented ethnic Albanian legislators from meeting in the parliament building in Pristina the previous day. The deputies were elected in a clandestine vote on 24 May, despite a ban by Serbian authorities. Some Albanian leaders were arrested during the incident at the parliament. Serbian repression in Kosovo is tight, but the Albanians, who make up over 90% of the population, have organized an extensive network of underground schools, hospitals, and other public functions. Meanwhile, Western news agencies report from Tirana that Albania is expelling Belgrade's ambassador in keeping with UN sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro. (Patrick Moore) DEADLOCK IN BELGRADE? The 24 June Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung notes that Dobrica Cosic, the respected Serbian writer recently named president of the rump Yugoslavia, has failed to find a prime minister within the originally specified time. He has asked Serbia and Montenegro for more time. The job is supposed to go to a Montenegrin, and some politicians from that republic have suggested that Montenegro should declare independence if Cosic names a Serb to the post. Some observers regard Cosic as a tool of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, while others see him as a potential counterweight or even alternative to the man who has increasingly made Serbia an international pariah. (Patrick Moore) CZECHOSLOVAK UPDATE. The new Slovak parliament at its constituent session on 23 June elected former Czechoslovak prosecutor general Ivan Gasparovic (Movement for Independent Slovakia--HZDS) as parliament chairman. Peter Weiss, head of the Democratic Left Party (the former Communists), became first deputy chairman. Vladimir Meciar, leader of the HZDS, was charged with forming the new Slovak government. Meciar told reporters that he expects a new Slovak parliament to declare Slovak sovereignty in July and adopt a new constitution in August. But he said that sovereignty and independence are not the same thing and that there is no need to write epitaphs for Czechoslovakia. Meanwhile, CSTK quotes Jan Strasky as saying that he is the Civic Democratic Party's candidate for federal prime minister but that nothing is official yet. Strasky was deputy prime minister in the outgoing Czech government. (Barbara Kroulik) HUNGARIAN MINORITY LEADER ON AUTONOMY WITHIN SLOVAKIA. In an interview with Radio Budapest on 18 June, Miklos Duray, chairman of the ethnic Hungarian Coexistence political movement in Slovakia, said the Magyars' demand for autonomy should Slovakia become an independent state was not new but based on a concept devised over a year ago. Duray sees three kinds of autonomy--cultural and educational, minority, and territorial--each of which would be achieved step by step over a number of years on the basis of the characteristics of a particular region. The long-term goal would be to have several autonomous territories comprising a number of regional self-governing administrative units both in Slovakia and Hungary and associated in a regional grouping. Following talks before the Czechoslovak elections with Vladimir Meciar, leader of the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia, Duray concluded that Meciar had developed "no constructive concept" in the area of minority policy. (Alfred Reisch) DEADLOCK OVER POLISH GOVERNMENT CONTINUES. Although a majority coalition has failed to coalesce around him, Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak has begun discussions on the composition of his cabinet. In remarks to Polish Television on 23 June, Pawlak indicated that three ministries--defense, internal affairs, and foreign affairs--would retain their current chiefs in any new cabinet. Other government "sectors" would be delegated to the control of specific parties. Pawlak can now count on firm support from 170 of the 460 Sejm deputies. Five peasant and Christian-democratic parties controlling 120 seats restated their opposition to any "recommunizing" government on 23 June. The Confederation for an Independent Poland (with 49 seats) continued to flirt with both rival blocs, announcing its support for either a decisively antirecessionary or a "presidential" government. Though not a participant in negotiations, the postcommunist Democratic Left Alliance continues to cast a long shadow; its 59 votes are likely go to Pawlak, but they may seem too tainted to rely upon for a majority. (Louisa Vinton) ANTALL RENEWS CALL FOR DISMISSAL OF MEDIA CHIEFS. On 23 June the Hungarian prime minister resubmitted to President Arpad Goncz his request for the dismissal of the chairman of Hungarian Radio and also asked for the dismissal of the TV chairman, MTI reports. Goncz refused Antall's request last month on the ground that the two should stay in their posts until parliament adopts a new law on the media. In a letter to Goncz, Antall recalled a recent ruling by the Constitutional Court that the president can only refuse to approve appointments to state positions if the democratic functioning of the institution is endangered, and cannot attach conditions to approving appointments. Opposition parties accuse the government of seeking to gain control of radio and TV by appointing its own candidates as chairmen. (Edith Oltay) BELARUS-POLAND TREATY. Belarus and Poland signed a friendship treaty on 23 June securing their common borders and guaranteeing the rights of the Belarusian and Polish minorities in each other's countries, Western agencies report. Belarusian President Stanislau Shushkevich and Polish President Lech Walesa signed the treaty at the start of a three-day visit by the Belarusian leader in Warsaw. The treaty creates a framework for closer bilateral political, economic, and cultural ties between the two countries as well as respect for internationally recognized rights of the minorities. (Roman Solchanyk) NATO AMBASSADORS MEET IN ROMANIA ON MOLDOVA. On 23 June Foreign Minister Adrian Nastase convened a meeting of the ambassadors of the 16 NATO countries to discuss the Dniestr conflict. Rompres said that the meeting involved an exchange of opinions on the situation in Moldova and prospects for a peaceful solution. No other details were provided. (Crisula Stefanescu) BAKER ON BUSH-YELTSIN MEETING. On 23 June at a meeting of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Secretary of State James Baker noted that presidents George Bush and Boris Yeltsin had discussed the continuing presence of former USSR troops in the Baltic States, a RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reports. Baker said that Bush told Yeltsin that the US believes the withdrawal could be achieved more quickly if new recruits were not sent to the Baltics to replace troops whose terms of duty had ended. (Saulius Girnius) DISPUTE OVER BULGARIA'S BALKAN POLICIES. Sharp exchanges between the government and the opposition were precipitated by critical remarks by BSP legislator Nikolay Kamov on TV on 20 June. Kamov said the government was playing down the risks from an expansion of the Yugoslav crisis and had made statements interpreted as detrimental to good relations with neighbor states, notably Greece. He demanded that Bulgaria unambiguously declare support for a peaceful settlement of the conflict and state that it would not participate, either directly or indirectly in any armed foreign intervention. The next day the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reacted with a formal statement and a radio broadcast in which they accused BSP leaders of acting "with destructive energy" against the confidence and friendship Bulgaria has managed to build up with its neighbors. At a BSP press conference on 23 June Kamov called the ministry's reaction "neurotic." (Rada Nikolaev) ZHELEV WILL SIGN PENSIONS LAW. In a TV address on 23 June, quoted by BTA, President Zhelev said he will sign the amended pensions law passed by the National Assembly on 12 June. The BSP caucus had asked the president to postpone signing because of its objection to the provision in the law that service as paid party functionaries should not be counted toward pensions. Zhelev said remanding the law might be interpreted as his fighting the government, cause a conflict with parliament, and might put on him the blame for a delay in updating pensions. He said, however, he would ask the Constitutional Court to examine the legality of the controversial provision. (Rada Nikolaev) HUNGARY LAUNCHES THIRD STOCK MARKET TIER. On 22 June Hungary established a third tier to its stock market in an attempt to bolster interest in the Hungarian market, MTI reports. The new tier, the "free market," was set up for stocks that do not meet full listing requirements on the other two markets. Stock market managing director Ilona Hardy told reporters that the new market was launched on the second anniversary of the start of Hungary's first securities market, the Budapest Stock Exchange. Trading on the new market is expected to begin next week, with up to 40 public companies and about 260 bonds seen as likely issues for trading. Budapest's official stock exchange currently lists 21 stocks and plans new offerings in the near future. (Edith Oltay) BOND EXCHANGE ESTABLISHED IN LATVIA. On 18 June shareholders met to establish a securities and bond exchange, called the Riga Fund Exchange, Diena reports. Gunars Slavinskis was elected chairman and Aivars Kreituss director of the administration. The new financial institution, with an initial investment capital of 28 million rubles, still must be registered with the Latvian authorities. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIAN BANK REFUSES INTEREST-FREE LOANS. Einars Repse, president of the Bank of Latvia, told the press on 19 June that the bank can meet the government's request for credits for only up to 2 billion rubles and only after the budget for the rest of this year has been approved by the Supreme Council. Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis wanted 4 billion rubles interest-free promptly for the purchase of grain and energy to forestall serious shortages of bread and fuel this fall. Repse indicated the additional emission of Latvian rubles cannot be considered as a solution to these problems. (Dzintra Bungs) ESTONIA JOINS WORLD BANK. Ernst Jaakson, Estonian ambassador to the US, signed the Articles of Agreement for the World Bank on 23 June, RFE/RL's correspondent in Washington reports. International Bank for Reconstruction and Development President Lewis Preston said the bank looks forward to being a partner in Estonia's reconstruction. Lithuania joined the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in April, and Latvia's membership is also expected soon. (Riina Kionka) POLAND POSTS TRADE SURPLUS. Poland recorded a positive balance of trade for the first five months of 1992, PAP reported on 23 June. The trade surplus of $340 million compares favorably with the deficit of $1.164 billion recorded during the same period in 1991. (Louisa Vinton) SERIOUS DECLINE IN LITHUANIAN INDUSTRY. Lietuvos rytas of 13 June reports statistics on the major decline in Lithuanian industrial production in the first five months of 1992. Production of electrical energy declined 25.4%, fertilizers--35.3%, laundry detergents--46.2%, cement--35.6%; TV sets--12.3%, refrigerators--61.3%, meat--15.5%, butter--21.6%, milk--36.7%, fish--52.8%, sugar--52.1%, flour--25.9%. The loss in meat and milk production were caused by a 52.8% decline in the production of grain feeds by state enterprises. While total sales reached 68 billion rubles, in comparable prices Lithuanian industrial enterprises sold 42.6% less goods than in the same period in 1991. In comparison with 1991, prices increased 12.9 times, with the prices of production in the fuel industry increasing 47 times and in the chemical and oil industries 30 times. (Saulius Girnius) [As Of 1200 CET] Compiled by Carla 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. 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