|There is no love sincerer than the love of food. - George Bernard Shaw|
No. 135, 17 July 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR CIS PEACEKEEPING FORCE TO BE SET UP. At their a meeting in Tashkent on 16 July, the foreign and defense ministers of the CIS agreed to create a CIS peacekeeping force within the next week, Interfax reported. The presidents of each member state have, however, still to sign the accord. A communique from the ministers said that the planned force will not participate in military actions when it intervenes in a given conflict. It is also supposed to intervene only after being invited by the parties directly involved. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev noted that he hopes the force will begin operating before the next CIS summit in Bishkek on 25 September. He added that, although some issues remain unresolved, the CIS is becoming more efficient. (Alexander Rahr) KOZYREV ON NEW CIS MINISTRY. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev responded with skepticism to the notion of creating a new special ministry for relations between Russia and the CIS. He suggested that removing this task from the Foreign Ministry's authority might send the wrong signal to the other CIS states, for they might regard such an institution as "a department for ex-colonial affairs." He said the issue would be resolved by the president and the government, Izvestiya reported on 16 July. (Suzanne Crow) RUTSKOI ATTACKS GOVERNMENT, KOZYREV. Speaking at the first meeting of the Political Consultative Council of the newly founded "Civic Union," Russian Vice-president Aleksandr Rutskoi called for the strengthening of presidential power, attacked the government for its failure to solve the economic crisis, and demanded the resignation of Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, ITAR-TASS reported on 16 July. Rutskoi said he insisted on Kozyrev's departure for his provocative statements about a possible putsch. He urged a new reorganization of the government and the replacement of the current theoreticians with "people of practical knowledge." He denied that the Civic Union's criticism is directed against the president. (Alexander Rahr) CENTRIST BLOC PROPOSES ALTERNATIVE PROGRAM. The Political Consultative Council of Russia's new centrist bloc, "Civic Union," met for the first time on 16 July, Russian TV's "Vesti" reported. Leading the agenda was the "Alternative Economic Policy." This is Civic Union's alternative to Gaidar's reform program, but it was described by a clearly hostile Nezavisimaya gazeta on 17 July as calling for "a state-regulated economy founded on a strong defense industry extending throughout the former USSR." Civic Union called on President Yeltsin to make "energetic corrections" to the strategic course of the reform and assured him of Civic Union's willingness not only to provide an economic program but also to provide the cabinet ministers to carry it out. Civic Union invited Yeltsin to enter into consultations with it. (Elizabeth Teague) YELTSIN PLEDGES TO UPHOLD INDEPENDENT MEDIA. On 16 July Boris Yeltsin met with top Russian print and broadcast editors and pledged to support the media against a controversial draft resolution that would establish a special council to control Russian television and the press. The discussion of the draft resolution in parliament planned for July 16 was postponed to July 17. Yeltsin said that he would block any law that would undermine an independent media, according to "Vesti." The Russian president asserted that a strong leader does not need to control the media: "If a leader begins to put pressure on the press, it means he's weak." Media editors warned that the Russian parliament's attempts to bring the independent media under the control of the government threaten the fragile balance between legislative and executive power. (Kate Brown) PARLIAMENT VERSUS EXECUTIVE. After President Yeltsin resisted the attempt of parliamentary chairman, Ruslan Khasbulatov, to establish parliamentary control over the mass media, the parliament adopted a new "Law on the Protection of Constitutional Organs of State Power" which is intended to prevent Yeltsin from setting up a new Security Council. According to ITAR-TASS on 16 July, the law stipulates that no parallel executive structures to the existing constitutional bodies should be created. The law said that those organs, which seek the functions of state power for themselves, should be dissolved. Yeltsin has recently empowered the Security Council with responsibilities which are not envisioned in the Russian Constitution. (Alexander Rahr) SHAKHRAI INJURED IN CAR CRASH. Yeltsin's top representative at the Constitutional Court's hearing on the banning of the CPSU, Sergei Shakhrai, has been injured in a car crash which, according to Western news agencies on 16 July and "Vesti" of 17 July, has aroused suspicion that it could have been an assassination attempt. Shakhrai's car was traveling at 130 kilometers per hour in a central lane reserved for official cars when it was suddenly hit by a Zhiguli that overtook his Volga and pushed it into oncoming traffic. Shakhrai suffered a shoulder injury; his body guard and driver were hospitalized. (Alexander Rahr) "DNIESTER" LEADER VOWS TO CONTINUE WAR. The self-styled "Dniester republic Supreme Soviet" chairman Grigore Maracuta told "Vesti" on 15 July that the "Dniester" leaders saw no point in negotiating with Chisinau over the political status of their area. Reacting to Chisinau's invitation to Tiraspol leaders asking that they begin those negotiations, return to parliament, and take up major ministerial posts, Maracuta retorted that "the continuation of the war is the only real course in relation to Moldova." (Vladimir Socor) MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT APPEALS TO DEMOCRATS IN CIS. In an interview with Italian TV, excerpted on Moldovan TV on 16 July, Moldovan President Mircea Snegur said that Moldova met with understanding from Russian democrats including Yeltsin but is being threatened by "national-chauvinist forces still hoping to restore the empire. These forces threaten the independence of all newly-independent states. The democrats in all these states must join together to counter those forces," Snegur said, according to Moldovapres. (Vladimir Socor) RUSSIAN BUDGET DEFICIT INCREASED. During the 16 July session of the Russian parliament, anticipated revenues for the 1992 budget were cut, while projected expenditures were raised, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. The top rate of value-added tax was lowered from 28% to 20%, while the tax on some staple foodstuffs was reduced to 15%. Acting Prime Minister Egor Gaidar announced increases in planned agricultural subsidies and in allocations for housing construction for the military. Economics Minister Andrei Nechaev said that "parliament had not only demonstrated its incompetence, but [also] its complete lack of responsibility," and warned of adverse reaction by the IMF. A final decision on the amended state budget was postponed until 17 July. (Keith Bush) PRESSURES FROM BELOW ON THE RUSSIAN BUDGET. Reasons for the relaxation of budgetary discipline include pressures from numerous regions, in addition to those from national pressure-groups, Russian TV and ITAR-TASS reported on 15 and 16 July. Recent examples include: a resolution by the Ivanovo oblast council to withhold payments to the federal budget (blocked in the courts); continuing demands from farm managers for higher state procurement prices, with the Rostov region calling for arrears of state payment in 1990 and 1991 to be made up; calls from an assembly of "small towns" for increased funds; calls for Siberian economic independence from the Siberian Agreement association, meeting in Ulan-Ude. (Philip Hanson) AID FOR RUSSIAN AGRICULTURE. Russian government officials announced more financial support for the ailing agricultural sector on 16 July. Acting Prime Minister Egor Gaidar, as part of a very disturbing budget report to parliament, stated that critical financial circumstances will require doubling previously projected price subsidies on agricultural products this year. Quoting from an interview in Izvestiya with Agricultural Minister Viktor Khlystun, ITAR-TASS also confirmed that the first $1 billion of IMF credits are to go to the agro-industrial sector. Khlystun said that the funds would be used for "development and the creation of an infrastructure of banks specializing in agriculture." (Erik Whitlock). RUSSIAN CENTRAL BANK CHAIRMAN RESIGNS. On 16 July, the Russian parliament accepted the resignation of Central Bank Chairman Georgii Matyukhin; he had offered this "for reasons of health," ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. Matyukhin had repeatedly been at odds first with the Yeltsin administration, allegedly for printing too much money, then, more recently, with the parliament for his excessively tight monetary control. Khasbulatov announced that Matyukhin's successor would have to be approved by Yeltsin. Interfax named Viktor Gerashchenko and Boris Fedorov as the most likely candidates. (Keith Bush) RUSSIA'S FOREIGN DEBTS. The Russian Federation Statistics Committee has given authoritative figures for Russia's convertible currency debts in its report on the federation's foreign trade in Rossiiskaya gazeta of 3 July. Russia's convertible currency debts as of 1 April were said to be $59.1 billion; additional interest for the remaining period of the credits, $14.4 billion; deferred payments for imports, $4.4 billion; debts under lend-lease, $0.8 billion; debts to the former socialist countries, $33.7 billion; and debts under clearing and barter deals, $5.9 billion. Russia's total indebtedness is thus considerably higher than was previously thought. (Keith Bush) RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPER KILLED IN SOUTH OSSETIA. A Russian member of the peacekeeping force deployed in South Ossetia earlier in the week was killed when the vehicle in which he was riding struck a land mine on 16 July, AFP reported, quoting Interfax. Four other members of the peacekeeping force were injured. A Georgian source reported that both Russians and Georgians had been in the vehicle. This incident was the first report of violence in South Ossetia since the force, consisting of Russian, Georgian and Ossetian troops, took up positions near Tskhinvali on 14 July. (Bess Brown) KAZAKH DEFENSE MINISTER ON NUCLEAR WEAPONS. Kazakh State Advisor Tulegen Zhukeev and Defense Minister General Sagadat Nurmagambetov met with a delegation from the US Department of Defense on 16 July in Alma-Ata, according to Kaztag-TASS. Nurmagambetov gave a statement in which he emphasized that all strategic nuclear weapons on Kazakh territory would be dismantled according to schedule. He also noted that Russia has agreed to help Kazakhstan develop its armed forces, which are likely to consist of a small number of highly mobile units. The US delegation will also visit Ukraine, Belarus and Russia to discuss the technical problems of nuclear disarmament, which the US has committed $400 million to support. (Cassandra Cavanaugh) KUNAEV DENIES WANTING OLD REGIME BACK. Former first secretary of Kazakhstan's Communist Party and longtime Brezhnev crony, Dinmukhamed Kunaev, has denied that he signed an appeal by hard-line Communists for the restoration of the old Communist Party and Komsomol in Kazakhstan. Izvestiya's Alma-Ata correspondent reported in the 15 July issue that the appeal had appeared over the signatures of hard-liners such as Viktor Alksnis, Albert Makashov and Sazhi Umalatova, as well as Kunaev, in an independent Alma-Ata newspaper. Kunaev told an RFE/RL correspondent that he had never signed such a document, and that he now intends to write further memoirs to reveal everything he knows about communist rule. (Hasan Oraltay/Bess Brown) NATO DELEGATION VISITS KYRGYZSTAN. A group of high-level NATO officers began a four-day visit to the capital of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek, on 16 July, Kyrgyztag-TASS reported. The group will study Kyrgyzstan's national security policy, its defense agreements, and will visit military installations, the parliament, and the State Committee on Defense. The main purpose of the visit is to aid the CIS in the creation of a multi-national "peace-making" force, agreed to by the foreign and defense ministers of the CIS states at their meeting in Tashkent on 16 July. (Cassandra Cavanaugh) ALTERNATIVE SERVICE APPROVED IN TURKMENISTAN. Interfax reported on 16 July that Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov has issued a decree approving alternative service for military conscripts who have a valid reason for refusing military service. The alternative service is to involve labor on important construction sites in Turkmenistan. (Bess Brown) MINORITY LANGUAGE TEACHING IN TRANSCARPATHIA. Beginning with the new school year, Slovak will be added to the list of languages in which national minorities in Transcarpathia will be taught, Pravda Ukrainy reported on 7 July. Pupils in the region already have the opportunity to be taught in Hungarian, Romanian, and German. Support will be provided by Slovak authorities, who have agreed to provide textbooks. (Roman Solchanyk) MOLDOVAN-ISRAELI CONTACTS. Two Israeli diplomats visiting Chisinau were received by Moldovan parliamentary leaders on 15 July, Moldovapres reported. The Moldovans expressed the wish that Israel contribute military observers to a possible international peacekeeping force in eastern Moldova and that it participate in the international commission that Moldova proposes to be established in order to oversee the future withdrawal of Russia's 14th Army. The Israeli diplomats were cited as "expressing gratitude to Moldova's leadership for the good will shown toward the Jewish community in assisting the preservation of its identity, language and culture," and expressing concern over the situation of Jews in the "Dniester" area who "face persecution and forced recruitment in the separatist military units." (Vladimir Socor) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE HAVEL RECEIVES 1968 LETTERS CALLING FOR SOVIET INVASION. On 16 July Russia handed over to Czechoslovakia several documents related to the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, CSTK reports. Czechoslovak President Vaclav Havel revealed that two of the documents were letters written in 1968 inviting the Soviet Union to invade Czechoslovakia. One letter was signed by top Czechoslovak communist officials Vasil Bilak, Alois Indra, Drahomir Kolder, Oldrich Svestka, and Antonin Kapek. The other was signed only by Kapek. Havel handed the letters over to the Czechoslovak prosecutor general, who said that Bilak, the only one of the five officials who is still alive, could face up to ten years of imprisonment. Bilak alleges that the letters, together with his signature, were forged. (Jiri Pehe) BRITAIN WARNS CROATS, SERBS AGAINST CARVING UP BOSNIA. Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd called for a political settlement to end the fighting, with guarantees for minority rights but without any division of the embattled republic's territory. Britain is the current EC chair, and Hurd was speaking in Zagreb on 16 July, Western news agencies report. He turned down a proposal to set up safe havens for refugees in Bosnia on the model of Kurdish enclaves in Iraq, apparently feeling that no such safety could be guaranteed. Elsewhere, the BBC quoted UN officials that the number of refugees and people displaced by the war in the former Yugoslavia stands at over 3 million. Finally, international media report Bosnian Serbian leader Radovan Karadzic's latest "peace offer," including a cease-fire in Goradze, but note that Serbian forces continue to shell the besieged Muslim town, which is filled with refugees. (Patrick Moore) ROMANIA'S PRESIDENT ON YUGOSLAV EMBARGO. At a press conference broadcast on Radio Bucharest on 16 July, President Ion Iliescu denied allegations that Romania has broken the UN embargo on Yugoslavia. He pointed out that the Danube is an international waterway and Romania can control only its own part of it. Iliescu reiterated Romania's pledge to respect the embargo. (Michael Shafir) ISLAMIC LEADER LAMBASTES SERBIAN CHURCH. In an often bitter interview with Vecernji list on 16 July, Hadji Jakub Effendi Selimoski blamed the Serbian people and their Orthodox Church for standing by while 40,000 Muslims were killed in Bosnia. He noted that 200 mosques have been destroyed and 250 more badly damaged out of a total of 2,000 buildings belonging to the Islamic community. Selimoski charged that "what's going on in Bosnia-Herzegovina is not a war, but a massacre of the Muslims," and warned Europe that the Muslims would regard those who do not help them to the fullest as "accomplices of the aggressor, to put it politely." He met earlier for an hour and a half with Pope John Paul II, and the two "had identical positions about the aggressor," but a meeting with the Serbian patriarch has yet to materialize. The Islamic leader compared alleged current Serbian massacres of Muslim children to similar incidents in World War II, and in a reference to alleged forced conversions said: "you must realize that you cannot make a Christian out of a Muslim." (Patrick Moore) PANIC IN PARIS. Milan Panic, prime minister of the rump Yugoslav federation, is to meet with French President François Mitterrand on 17 July in Paris, according to Tanjug. The two will discuss a French proposal to convene an international peace conference to deal with the crisis in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Meanwhile, in Belgrade, Reuters reports that the announcement of the members of Panic's new cabinet this week is drawing mixed reviews. Panic himself has taken on the post of defense minister, and several posts have gone to allies of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, drawing harsh rebukes from the opposition Serbian Renewal Movement. Other observers, however, foresee an attempt by Panic and Yugoslav President Dobrica Cosic to ease Milosevic out of office. (Gordon Bardos) ETHNIC HUNGARIAN IN YUGOSLAV CABINET. On 15 July Radio Budapest interviewed Tibor Varadi, new minister of justice in the Panic government. Varadi, who was a candidate of an opposition party in the latest Yugoslav election, is an international law expert. On his first day in office he began drafting a law to exonerate all those who refused military service during the Yugoslav conflict or had gone abroad to escape the draft. Varadi's move can be expected to be unpopular and is likely to plunge him into immediate controversy. (Alfred Reisch) CZECHOSLOVAK PARLIAMENT APPROVES GOVERNMENT PROGRAM. A program of the Czechoslovak federal government, presented by Prime Minister Jan Strasky, was approved by the Federal Assembly on 16 July, Czechoslovak media report. The program, which was criticized by some deputies as being too provisional, calls for the Czech and Slovak republican parliaments to reach an agreement on the future of Czechoslovakia by 30 September. Until the country's fate is decided, the government will maintain control over foreign affairs, finance, defense, transport and communications, economic policy, and environmental affairs. (Jiri Pehe) SLOVAK PREMIER LASHES OUT AT CZECHS, . . . Speaking on Slovak Radio on 15 July, Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar said he was stunned by a confidential report of the Czech government discussing preparations for Czechoslovakia's breakup. Meciar said that the plan provides for economic and social oppression of Slovaks and forced evacuation of Gypsies and Slovaks from the Czech Republic when Slovakia becomes independent. Former Czech premier Petr Pithart, whose government authored the document, said that the report was just a study of all possible scenarios arising from the collapse of the federation. He said the report does not discuss any measures for forced evacuation but it mentions the possibility of a large exodus of Gypsies and other minorities from Slovakia. On 16 July federal deputy prime minister Antonin Baudys said that the previous Slovak government had prepared a similar study. (Jiri Pehe) . . . WARNS HUNGARIAN PARTIES. Before the vote that saw 104 of the Slovak parliament's 135 deputies present come out in support of his government program, Meciar had strong words for the 14 ethnic Hungarians deputies who refused to support his government program, Radio Budapest reported on 15 July. The state alone and not the deputies can represent the minority, he said. Meciar feels Slovaks are worried about the minority's demand for autonomy, and suspects Budapestmight be trying to meddle in Slovak politics. Adding that he was not accusing the minority deputies of acting at Budapest's command, Meciar warned Hungarians "not to provoke artificial tension in the region." (Alfred Reisch) RUSSIAN-HUNGARIAN TROOP AGREEMENT NEAR. A Hungarian government spokesman said on 16 July that compensation issues regarding the Soviet troop withdrawals have been resolved, Hungarian Radio reports. The Russian and Hungarian foreign ministers will sign the agreement shortly, stipulating that both sides are giving up their request for compensation. The Russians seek payment for installations left behind, while Hungary wants compensation for the environmental damage, about $800 million, left behind. The agreement was achieved in principle by Prime Minister Antall and President Yeltsin at the CSCE summit in Helsinki. (Karoly Okolicsanyi) TENSION WITH RUSSIAN MILITARY IN LITHUANIA CONTINUES. On 16 July Lithuanian Deputy Prime Minister Zigmas Vaisvila sent a telegram to Lt. Gen. Fedor Melnichuk, first deputy commander of the Northwest Group of Forces (NWGF), asking that the Russian military exercises in Lithuania planned for the second half of July be canceled since they are a violation of Lithuania's sovereignty, Radio Lithuania reports. The commander of the Russian garrison in Vilnius, Col. Valerii Frolov, sent a message to the Lithuanian National Defense Minister stating that after the deaths of Russian soldiers in Armenia and attacks on Russian military vehicles in Estonia he had received orders from the NWGF that all Russian soldiers traveling on Lithuanian roads should be armed. (Saulius Girnius) BRIDGE OVER THE RIVER NARVA. With the help of three armored boats, Russian border officials in Ivangorod on 15 July began full-time patrols of the Narva River, which forms the Estonian-Russian border in northeastern Estonia. Estonian border officials told BNS the next day that relations with their Russian counterparts are good, and that commanders from both sides meet each morning to discuss potential problems. Russian authorities in Ivangorod began charging Estonians wishing to visit Russia 25 rubles for an entry permit. Last week, Russian officials at the Estonian-Pskov border began charging Estonian visitors $10 for entry. (Riina Kionka) ILIESCU: EBRD WOULD BACK RUSSIAN WITHDRAWAL FROM MOLDOVA. At a press conference on Radio Bucharest, Romania's president Ion Iliescu said that the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is willing to "financially back the withdrawal of the 14th army from the republic of Moldova". Romania was also willing to participate in covering the costs for building new homes for the 14th army's soldiers, he said. Iliescu added that he had discussed the issue with both EBRD president, Jacques Attali, and with Russian president Boris Yeltsin. Iliescu said the current military conflicts in the "Euro-Atlantic-Asian area" are caused not by ethnic enmities but by the presence of foreign troops on the territories of independent states. (Michael Shafir) TRAVEL BAN ON TOP IOC OFFICIAL. Officials of the International Olympic Committee on 16 July condemned a foreign travel ban by Bulgaria on Ivan Slavkov, a member of the IOC and head of its Bulgarian branch, Reuters reported. On the same day, IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch asked the Bulgarian government to lift the restrictions. Slavkov was on his way to chair an IOC finance meeting when his passport was withdrawn. Prosecutor General Ivan Tatarchev said the ban was linked to the ongoing trial against former Communist Party leader Todor Zhivkov--Slavkov's father-in-law. (Kjell Engelbrekt) SECOND DAY OF SOFIA TRANSPORT STRIKE. On 16 July the Bulgarian capital experienced a second day of an almost total public transport strike. More than 100 military and other buses helped commuters to get to work while a sharp increase in private vehicle usage caused serious traffic jams. BTA reports indicate that trade unions are coming under pressure to halt the strike. Several public transport companies have filed suits against the organizers of the strike and the government has appealed to transport workers to return to their jobs. However, Bulgarian miners have promised to lay down their tools for one hour on 17 July in solidarity with the transport workers. (Kjell Engelbrekt) POLISH GOVERNMENT HOLDS TALKS WITH MINERS. The strike wave in Upper Silesia has hit fourteen coal mines so far, PAP reported on 16 July. Although the government is hosting talks on possible forms of assistance to heavily indebted mines, the prime minister's office issued a statement saying that "the government is not a side in conflicts over pay." These should be hashed out between unions and management. The government warned directors not to promise pay raises they cannot afford. Mine directors who had ended strikes by granting strikers' demands admitted that they had no idea where to find money to cover the raises. They seemed to expect a government bailout. Meanwhile, Labor Minister Jacek Kuron refused on 16 July to hold talks with the Solidarity 80 unionists occupying the Katowice headquarters of the state coal industry. "A government delegation cannot meet with people who are committing a crime," Kuron said. Meeting with Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka on 16 July, World Bank representative Ian Hume offered $150-200 million to help restructure Polish mining. (Louisa Vinton) POLISH INVESTMENT AGENCY BEGINS WORK. The State Foreign Investment Agency began operations on 16 July in Warsaw. The agency is designed to promote investment in Poland, help foreign capital find suitable partners, and eliminate the bureaucratic snarls that have discouraged would-be investors. Agency director Bogdan Chojna told a press conference that management training is also a priority. According to the Polish statistical office, nearly 7,000 joint ventures are now active in Poland, with foreign capital of more than $740 million. (Louisa Vinton) INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION DECLINES IN LATVIA. During the first half of 1992 industrial production was down 30.9% of what it was for the same period in 1991, BNS reported on 16 July. The largest declines were registered in the metal industry (down 54%) and machinery, paper, food and forestry industries (down 31.5%). Production has declined in 430 of 614 industries in Latvia. At the same time, the price of finished products has increased 11-fold, making them much more difficult to market. In June 82.2% of Latvian production had still not been sold. (Dzintra Bungs) [As of 1200 CET]
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