|He who knows nothing is nearer the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors. - Thomas Jefferson|
No. 133, 15 July 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR RUSSIAN-US STATEMENT ON MISSILE DEFENSE. At the conclusion of two days of talks in Moscow, Russian and US arms-control experts on 14 July released a joint statement indicating that the two sides will continue to work together toward creating a joint global system of defense against ballistic missiles, ITAR-TASS reported. According to the report, Moscow and Washington have agreed to create three groups of experts to be tasked with working out a global defense plan, a plan on cooperation and technology, and a plan on non-proliferation. (Stephen Foye) YELTSIN OPTIMISTIC. Russian President Boris Yeltsin met with leaders of the government and parliament and called for their support, Interfax reported on 14 July. He warned of attempts by parliamentary leaders to curb freedom of the press. Yeltsin told Russian TV on 15 July that he excludes the possibility that the reforms will collapse, and he emphasized that the radical reform program has intensified lately. In addition, Yeltsin argued that since the G-7 meeting in Munich, Russia has become "an equal partner" with the West. At the same time, he noted that the limit of peoples' confidence in reform has obviously been reached and more radical reform steps may cause social upheavals. (Alexander Rahr) KHASBULATOV AGAINST PRESIDENTIAL SYSTEM. The head of Russia's parliament, Ruslan Khasbulatov, in Pravda on 14 July, argued that the parliamentary system should be preserved and the current deputies keep their mandates until 1995, when the legislature's term expires. He noted that the current congress and Supreme Soviet could better stabilize the political situation than the government. He accused the government of attempts to develop authoritarian rule and said that the Russian parliament would prevent this. Khasbulatov's remarks indicate that he clearly opposes President Yeltsin's call to hold a referendum on a new constitution which would establish a presidential system and limit the power of parliament. (Alexander Rahr) RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT ATTEMPTS TO SUPPRESS THE MEDIA. The presidium of the Russian parliament has drafted a resolution, according to which the independent newspaper, Izvestiya, is to be closed and a newspaper with the same name, subordinate to the parliament, is to be set up instead, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 15 July. Such a suggestion was made earlier this year by Ruslan Khasbulatov, who was displeased with the fact that Izvestiya published critical material about him. Another resolution drafted by the presidium stipulated the creation of a special council which would oversee state-run media organizations. The resolutions are scheduled to be discussed by the Russian parliament on 16 July. (Vera Tolz) JOURNALISTS APPEAL TO YELTSIN. The same issue of Nezavisimaya gazeta reported that leading representatives of the Russian mass media appealed to President Yeltsin on 14 July, asking him to protect the media from attempts by the parliament to violate freedom of the press in Russia. Among those who signed the appeal were the chief editor of Izvestiya, Igor Golembiovsky, the chief editor of Moscow News, Len Karpinsky, and the head of "Ostankino" TV channel, Egor Yakovlev. In an interview with Interfax on 14 July, Yeltsin criticized the draft resolutions and said they "may bring us back to that sad, voiceless epoch and harm young democracy." (Vera Tolz) FORMER MOSCOW MAYOR ATTACKS CIVIC UNION. On 14 July, former Moscow mayor and leader of the Russian Movement for Democratic Reforms, Gavriil Popov, said that forces supporting state control over the economy and "nomenklatura reforms" had launched "another offensive against democracy" by setting up a bloc, called "Civic Union." The bloc held its founding congress last month; it unites three major political parties--the Democratic Party of Russia, the People's Party of Free Russia, and the all-Russian "Renewal" Union. Interfax reported that Popov made this statement, while addressing a constituent conference of the Russian Trade Union Congress representing the non-government economic sector in Moscow. Popov said he believed that, in spite of its claims to be a centrist party, the Civic Union's activities were, in essence, "one group of apparatchiks fighting another." (Vera Tolz) RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT SEEKS CONTROL OVER FORMER KGB. The Russian parliament passed a resolution on streamlining the central structures and eliminating duplication within the management staff of the Ministry of Security, Interfax reported on 14 July. The resolution instructed the ministry to cooperate more closely with the parliament. The parliament, in particular, seeks stronger control over appointments within the former KGB. Security Minister Viktor Barannikov reported to the parliament that he has initiated legal proceedings against the heads of the commission charged with investigating the KGB's activities during the August 1991 putsch, deputies Lev Ponomarev and Gleb Yakunin, who, in Barannikov's opinion, have made public several documents containing state secrets. (Alexander Rahr) CPSU HEARINGS ADJOURNED. After six days of testimony, the Russian constitutional court hearings on the banning of the Communist Party were adjourned until 21 July, ITAR-TASS reported on 14 July. The adjournment was called in order to allow judges and representatives of both sides in the case to study documents presented to the court so far and to consult experts. (Carla Thorson) RUTSKOI IN CHISINAU. . . Mandated by Yeltsin to facilitate a political resolution of the conflict in Moldova, Russian Vice-president Aleksandr Rutskoi and Security Minister Viktor Barannikov on 13 and 14 July conferred with Moldovan President Mircea Snegur in Chisinau. Moldova's Presidential Office told RFE/RL that Rutskoi sought a commitment from Chisinau on granting the left bank of the Dniester the status of a republic federated with Moldova, but President Snegur resisted the demand. He asked, in particularm whether Moldova was expected to grant autonomy to the 40% of the left bank's population who are Moldovans or to the 25.5% who are Russians. The Moldovan parliament is currently considering three different draft laws on local self-government which would include autonomy for the left-bank cities of Tiraspol and Rabnita where most of the area's Russians live. (Vladimir Socor) . . . AND IN TIRASPOL. The self-styled "Dniester republic Supreme Soviet's" chairman, Grigore Maracuta, told ITAR-TASS on 14 July that Tiraspol leaders were disappointed with the stand taken by Rutskoi in their talks. The Russian vice-president abandoned the demand for granting the left bank status as a republic and urged left-bank deputies to return to the Moldovan parliament (which they have been boycotting) in order to participate in the determination of the left bank's future political status. (Vladimir Socor) GAIDAR ON THE CIS. In an interview with ITAR-TASS on 13 July, Acting Russian Prime Minister Egor Gaidar said that he thought that the member-states of the CIS would gradually create coordinating structures such as those which exist in the European Community. Gaidar stated that he would not go so far as to say that, if a coordinating economic organ was created in the fall, the CIS could then be considered a confederation. In his view, there would inevitably be different types of participation in the CIS, but some of the member-states would be interested in forming an effective system of coordination of the confederative type. (Ann Sheehy) RUSSIAN FOREIGN EXCHANGE REGULATION LAW. The Russian parliament passed a law on foreign exchange regulation and control on 14 July, Interfax reported. This included a repeal of the ban on wage payments and other remunerations in foreign currency within Russia. Some deputies argued that the law contradicted the presidential decree of last November that ordered a halt in the circulation of foreign currency with effect from 1 July 1992. Proponents of the law pointed out that foreign currency was still widely used and that any prohibition would drive such transactions underground. Foreign businessmen had reportedly been told that the presidential ban had, in any case, been postponed until 1993. (Keith Bush) FURTHER REGULATIONS ON FOREIGN CURRENCY. Commenting on the law, a parliamentary official told Interfax that it "removed discrimination against Russian citizens." He disclosed that a new presidential decree is being prepared that will oblige foreign exchange stores to sell half of their goods for rubles at a rate set by them. He also foresaw the banning of internal trade in foreign currencies by 1 January 1993. (Keith Bush) CHAUS ON BELARUS MILITARY POLICY. Belarusian Deputy Defense Minister Petr Chaus told the newspaper, Zvyazda, on 14 July that Belarus had no need for strategic nuclear forces on its territory (in contrast to Ukraine), or for powerful tank forces or a number of other systems deployed in the republic during the Soviet period. He said that Minsk understood, however, that Moscow was currently unable to withdraw all these forces into Russia. Chaus also said that Belarus had not signed the CIS agreement on collective security because of its stated policy of neutrality, and that the republic continued to view its national armed forces as an attribute of statehood and as a part of the overall European security system. His remarks were reported by Belta-TASS. (Stephen Foye) GEORGIA TO ISSUE OWN CURRENCY. Georgian Prime Minister Tengiz Sigua announced on Georgian television on 13 July that Georgia plans to introduce its own currency, the "Maneti," in September, RFE/RL learned on 14 July. According to a Kavinform report, the first banknotes will be printed in France, as will Georgia's new passports. (Bess Brown) PEACEKEEPING FORCE IN SOUTH OSSETIA. A peacekeeping force consisting of 500 Russian and 350 Georgian troops moved into South Ossetia on 14 July to enforce a cease-fire between South Ossetian separatists and local Georgian armed groups, domestic and Western agencies reported. An additional part of the force, consisting of North and South Ossetians, was reported by ITAR-TASS to be moving to join the Russians and Georgians. As the peacekeeping force moved in, local Georgian armed groups were reported to have moved out of the area. The peacekeeping force, the first of its kind in the former USSR, is to be deployed along a buffer corridor to keep the combatants apart. The force was created following an agreement in June between the Russian president and Georgian leader Eduard Shevardnadze. (Bess Brown) ARMENIA WON'T REJOIN PEACE TALKS. The chief Armenian delegate to the Rome peace talks with Azerbaijan announced on 14 July that the Armenian delegation will not participate further until the other eleven countries participating in the negotiations condemn the recent Azerbaijani offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh, Kavinform reported. Armenia broke off the talks on 6 July at the height of the offensive. The spokesman for Azerbaijan's mission in Moscow complained to an RFE/RL correspondent that Armenia is unnecessarily complicating the negotiations. Also on 14 July, the chief of Azerbaijan's human rights committee informed the Azerbaijani parliament that the country will abolish irregular armed units and will place all Azerbaijani forces under central control, a Baku journalist told RFE/RL. (Bess Brown) TURKMENISTAN TO FORM ARMED FORCES. On 14 July the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan decided to begin formation of the republic's armed forces, Interfax reported. The president's press service said that the current defense department of Turkmenistan, headed by Danatar Kopekov, will likely be transformed into a defense ministry. The cabinet also moved to create a national guard, with an initial strength of 1,000. The creation of an independent Turkmen army apparently grows out of a declaration initialed in Ashgabat on 8 June by Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev and Kopekov. The Turkestan Military District, of which Turkmenistan was a part, was abolished as of 30 June. (Stephen Foye) TAJIK SCHOOLS CLOSED IN UZBEKISTAN. Radio Rossii reported on 14 July that Tajik-language schools in Uzbekistan, including Samarkand's Tajik University, are being closed as a result of the worsening relations between the two countries. Part of the reason for the deterioration, according to the report, is the flood of refugees entering Uzbekistan from Tajikistan. Many of these may be Uzbeks fleeing regional violence and chaos in Tajikistan. Uzbek President Islam Karimov recently warned that he expected an Islamic fundamentalist threat from Tajikistan. The Tajik schools in Uzbekistan (and Uzbek schools in Tajikistan) were opened in recent years in an effort by both republics to improve relations. The current turmoil in Tajikistan seems to have put an end to those efforts on the part of the Uzbeks. (Bess Brown) HALF OF UNIVERSITY GRADUATES IN ST. PETERSBURG UNEMPLOYED. ITAR-TASS reported on 6 July that at least half of all graduates from St. Petersburg higher education institutes face unemployment. Out of 2047 people graduating from the local university, only half received jobs. Only 1 in 5 engineers graduating from the St. Petersburg Polytechnic has the possibility of working in his/her area of specialty, while not even 1 in 10 Technological Institute graduates can find a job. The labor exchange for young persons has 1,000 names on its books but expects many more later this year. As state enterprises are facing massive layoffs, they are unwilling to take on new specialists. Many graduates are looking for work in private business. (Sarah Helmstadter) EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR FEMALE GRADUATES LIMITED. The same source reports that the "almost official discrimination" against female workers has forced women students to take quick courses in bookkeeping, secretarial training, or hairdressing.(Sarah Helmstadter) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE BORDERS CLOSED TO BOSNIAN REFUGEES. The BBC reports on 15 July that Croatia is no longer accepting refugees from the war-torn neighboring republic. The Hungarian Interior Ministry also said visas will now be required for Bosnian refugees coming through Croatia, Hungarian Radio reports. Bosnian refugees coming through Serbia, the most common route, however, will reportedly still be allowed to enter Hungary without visas, but Western news agencies suggest that the situation at Hungary's Kelebia crossing with Serbia is not yet clear. Bosnians seeking asylum in Hungary since July 2 have numbered over 2,000, and the BBC says Croatia is spending $2 million a day on refugees. Both countries say their abilities to absorb refugees are stretched to the limits, and that they are in desperate need of money and supplies. Austria and Germany have also effectively closed their borders to those fleeing the fighting. (Patrick Moore & Karoly Okolicsanyi) SERB OFFENSIVES AND "ETHNIC CLEANSING" CONTINUE. On 15 July the Boston Globe presents a graphic account of the plight of Bosnian soldiers and refugees. The international media report that Serbian forces are continuing their offensive against Croats near Odzak and against the Muslims at Gorazde, and are keeping their grip on the mainly Muslim town of Gradacac. This is part of an effort to link up Serbia with mainly ethnic Serb parts of Croatia and Bosnia by killing, expelling, or imprisoning under brutal conditions the Muslim and Croat inhabitants in their way. Meanwhile, Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has offered a cease-fire to mark talks involving Bosnia's warring communities and EC negotiator Lord Carrington in London starting 15 July. (Patrick Moore) ROMANIA: YUGOSLAV EMBARGO STRICTLY ENFORCED. Official denials of allegations of nonobservation of the UN-imposed embargo against Yugoslavia, continued on 14 July when the Ministry of Transportation released a communiqué to Rompres stating that the "sea, river, air, rail and road embargo has been applied with utmost strictness," and providing details on Romanian, Yugoslav, and other cargoes that were not permitted to leave ports after the enforcement of the embargo. The ministry said it is willing to provide details to any embassy. Transportation minister Traian Basescu reiterated the position at a press conference broadcast by Radio Bucharest on 14 July. (Michael Shafir) PANIC BECOMES YUGOSLAV PRIME MINISTER. Serb-American businessman Milan Panic was sworn in as the rump Yugoslavia's first prime minister on 14 July. Reports in the New York Times and the Washington Post quote Panic as saying that his government will recognize the independence of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and is willing to begin negotiations aimed at giving self-determination to the Albanian majority in Serbia's Kosovo province. Expressing his determination to bring peace to the region, Panic said that "There is no idea worth killing for at the end of the 20th century." Most observers foresee a fierce power struggle between Panic and Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic, the outcome of which is uncertain. An unnamed diplomat was quoted as saying that Panic is "a businessman, not a politician, who has been dropped into a snake pit." (Gordon Bardos) VAGNORIUS DISMISSED AS PRIME MINISTER. On 14 July in a secret ballot the Lithuanian parliament passed a vote of no-confidence (69 to 6 with 2 spoiled ballots) on Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius, Radio Lithuania reports. Vagnorius had offered to resign in May, but parliament refused to accept his resignation. On 25 June the National Progress Faction had proposed the no confidence measure, which the parliament had been debating for several weeks. The dismissal comes at an inopportune time since the parliament is expected to end its spring session on 15 July and its chairman, Vytautas Landsbergis, who must propose a replacement will only return to Lithuania today after a two-day visit to Belarus. It is likely that only a caretaker government will be approved since elections to a new parliament will be held on 25 October. (Saulius Girnius) SUCHOCKA GETS DOWN TO BUSINESS. Polish Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka set a no-nonsense tone at the new government's first cabinet meeting on 14 July. She instructed the cabinet that political criteria will determine the distribution only of ministerial posts; professional qualifications will govern all other appointments, from deputy ministers on down. She implicitly ruled out partisan purges of the sort undertaken by her predecessor. She emphasized the need for cooperation with the president and coordination among ministries. Appearing later on Polish television, Suchocka said she would not hesitate to fire any minister who tried to conduct policy independent of or in conflict with the government's line. Suchocka added that no party conflicts had surfaced; these were the province of the parliament. (Louisa Vinton) WALESA SETS PRIORITIES. In attendance at the first cabinet session, President Lech Walesa expressed the hope that the new government would prove that "it is possible to govern not only against someone, but in cooperation." He presented a list of national priorities: rapid and fair privatization; solving the indebtedness of state industry; creating a state treasury; banking, taxation, and customs reforms; and building a new social security system. Suchocka said her government shares these priorities. Walesa said there are three possible relationships between the president and the government: "enmity, mutual indifference, and cooperation." Cooperation is best for Poland, he stressed. The current arrangement is Poland's "last-chance government," according to Walesa. Should Suchocka's government collapse, he warned, a "presidential government" would follow, adding that this was meant not as a threat but as a form of encouragement. (Louisa Vinton) CZECH PARLIAMENT APPROVES GOVERNMENT'S PROGRAM. The Czech National Council approved its government's program on 14 July, CSTK reports. The program was approved by 105 votes, with 60 against. Twenty-seven deputies in the 200-member republican parliament abstained. All deputies who represent the four coalition government parties voted for the program. Prior to the vote, the program was criticized by the opposition parties as unclear and anticipating the breakup of Czechoslovakia. Responding to this criticism, Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus said that the program is pragmatic and respects the current constitutional arrangement. Klaus further said that the program is a cautious but unavoidable reaction to Slovakia's separatist tendencies. (Jiri Pehe) HUNGARIAN PARTY IN SLOVAKIA CRITICIZES GOVERNMENT. The Hungarian Christian Democratic Movement, one of the two ethnic Hungarian parties represented in the Slovak National Council, criticized the government of Vladimir Meciar on 14 July. CSTK reports that the movement's chairman, Bela Bugar, said that while the previous government of Jan Carnogursky "at least talked to us," the current government "does not want to hear our opinions." Bugar said that his movement has not been not invited to participate in the drafting of a new Slovak constitution. Also on 14 July, the movement's leaders told the press that they will demand territorial autonomy for Slovakia's ethnic Hungarians. This, argued the leaders, does not mean that the Hungarians want to secede from Slovakia. Their statements came on the day when Meciar presented to the Slovak parliament his government's program aimed at making Slovakia "a legal subject with political and economic sovereignty." (Jiri Pehe) THIRD BULGARIAN EX-PREMIER ARRESTED. On 14 July Grisha Filipov, former prime minister and secretary of the BCP Central Committee was arrested, BTA reports. The 73-year-old Filipov is the third Bulgarian premier to have been jailed in the last three months, following Georgi Atanasov and Andrey Lukanov, all of whom served under Communist Party leader Todor Zhivkov in the 1980s. Accused of misappropriation of state funds, Filipov could face a 30-year prison sentence. On 14 July the prosecutor in the case against Zhivkov, who could get 10 to 20 years' imprisonment, told reporters that trial is expected to end in August. (Kjell Engelbrekt) ROMANIAN OPPOSITION CALLS FOR OPENING CANDIDATES' FILES. The Democratic Convention, an umbrella organization uniting many parties of the opposition and some grass-root organizations, has called for the opening of the former secret police files of all candidates running in the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for 27 September. In a communiqué sent to Rompres on 13 July, the convention's executive committee demanded that the Romanian Information Service make public the files in order to prevent attempts to falsify or use selectively the data in them. Such attempts, the committee said, could prompt "disinformion of the electorate, compromising personalities or political parties, and destabilizing political life during the electoral campaign." (Michael Shafir) NARVA'S STATUS DEBATED. The Narva city council is planning a referendum on the future status of this city in Estonia. The exact question to be put before the voters has not yet been decided, but city council chairman Vladimir Tsuikin told BNS on 13 July that polling on whether Narva should switch from Estonian to Russian jurisdiction was possible, although "inadvisable." The council on 9 July appealed to the population to gather signatures for a referendum on the city's future. The Estonian Supreme Council Presidium issued a sharp warning to the local authorities, however, that any attempts to hold a referendum questioning Estonia's territorial integrity would be countered using "all possible measures," BNS reports on 14 July. The warning came during a meeting last weekend when the Presidium summoned Tsuikin to Tallinn to discuss Narva's plans. A Supreme Council spokesman told reporters that official reactions to Narva's referendum would probably be different if the voting did not call into question Estonia's territorial integrity. (Riina Kionka) LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES EMISSION OF CREDIT. On 14 July parliament continued to debate a government proposal made at the 11 July session to issue 20 billion rubles in credit to help enterprises pay each others outstanding debts and unfreeze their finances, Radio Lithuania reports. While there was agreement that credits should be issued, there was disagreement on how much with other deputies proposing sums of 4 and 12 billion rubles. After numerous votes the parliament by a vote of 60 to 13 with 13 abstentions finally approved the issuing of 12 billion rubles. (Saulius Girnius) POLISH INFLATION LOW. Poland's statistical office reports that inflation in June was a low 1.6%. Inflation for the first six months of 1992 is running at 22.4%. PAP reported on 14 July that unemployment stood at 12.6% at the end of June. (Louisa Vinton) ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN CENTRAL ASIA. Adrian Nastase left Bucharest on 14 July on an official visit to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan, Rompres reports. High ministry officials said the visit was aimed at developing and diversifying political and economic ties as well as exploring other mutual interests. (Michael Shafir) BULGARIAN GYPSIES HARD HIT BY CRISIS. At a press conference on 13 July, Mihail Ivanov, presidential advisor on national, ethnic, and religious affairs warned that although the overall ethnic tension in Bulgaria is decreasing, Gypsies are suffering especially in the economic crisis. According to BTA, Ivanov said a presidential fact-finding mission has found cases of starvation in the Plovdiv region, while some local authorities report more than 60% unemployment among Gypsies. Ivanov stressed that most Gypsies had nothing to do with the steep rise in crime, but he stressed the to learn more about Gypsy living conditions and social patterns. (Kjell Engelbrekt) BALTIC APPEAL FOR INVESTIGATION OF SOVIET MILITARY DUMPING. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have asked the UN and the CSCE to establish an international commission to investigate the dumping of toxic materials on their territories. They say that following World War II the Soviet Union dumped tons of poisonous military chemicals in the Baltic Sea and a part of them were buried in the territorial waters of the Baltic States. The results of the investigation should be announced at a conference to coincide with observances of "The International Day of the Sea" in September, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from New York on 13 July. During his visit to Finland, Russian president Boris Yeltsin said that chemical dumping may result in an ecological disaster worse than that of Chernobyl. (Dzintra Bungs) UPDATE ON FOREST FIRES IN LATVIA. Although rain has fallen on Latvia, the danger of continuing forest fires remains. The Latvian authorities are urging people to stay away from forests and requiring special permits of those who need to go into forests. Heavy rain fell on the Slitere nature preserve and helped contain the fires burning there. Minimal or no rain fell on the Adazi area; the situation there is still precarious. Upward of 5000 hectares of forests have been destroyed, Radio Riga reported on 14 July. (Dzintra Bungs) [As of 1200 CET]
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.