|There is no love sincerer than the love of food. - George Bernard Shaw|
No. 136, 20 July 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR RUSSIAN PRESIDENTIAL CONSULTATIVE COUNCIL MEETS. Russian President Boris Yeltsin summoned the Presidential Consultative Council to the Kremlin, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 July. Members of the council criticized the parliament's negative interference in the economic reform program and thanked Yeltsin for his defense of the press. Economists on the council, such as Pavel Bunich and Nikolai Shmelev, praised the government's second stage of economic reform but suggested some corrections. Meanwhile, the "Civic Union" rejected the government's second stage reform program and proposed its own alternative program which emphasizes social policy, Rabochaya tribuna reported on 17 July. (Alexander Rahr) YELTSIN FOR COOPERATION WITH PARLIAMENT. Yeltsin also met with leaders of various parliamentary factions in the Kremlin, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 July. He criticized the parliament for slowing down the creation of a legal basis for market reforms, noting that, out of 29 proposals for new legislation presented to parliament, only seven have been adopted. He stressed the need to coordinate the work of parliament and government. Yeltsin also declared his intention to preside over the next meeting of the Constitutional Drafting Commission, which suggests that the president now favors cooperation with the parliament on a new constitution rather than holding a referendum on his own version. (Alexander Rahr) KHASBULATOV, RUTSKOI ON REFORM. The chairman of the Russian parliament, Ruslan Khasbulatov, rejected Yeltsin's suggestion that the parliament is not supporting reform. Khasbulatov claimed that the parliament has adopted 50 laws and 59 resolutions directed toward implementing economic reform since the last Congress of People's Deputies, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 July. Vice-president Aleksandr Rutskoi has meanwhile raised doubts about whether the government has a real strategic reform plan. In a television interview on 17 July, Rutskoi said that reform cannot be called reform if it hurts people. He called the current program, an experiment on the people. (Alexander Rahr) RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT VOTES TO TAKE OVER IZVESTIYA. The Russian parliament voted on 17 July to take over ownership of Izvestiya, asserting that the newspaper'sclaim to independent status is illegal. The new resolution, approved by 136 to 23 with 12 abstentions, signals an attack on the free press by conservative parliamentary factions led by Ruslan Khasbulatov. Khasbulatov applauded the decision, saying that Izvestiya's editors used their paper to "drive a wedge" between the parliament and Yeltsin's government. Izvestiya's chief editor, Igor Golembiovsky stated that the parliament's decision is illegitimate and the newspaper's staff will continue to publish an independent paper. Yeltsin expressed concern that the parliament is attempting to silence critical analysis of its own activities, and promised to use all legal and constitutional means to defend the press. The parliament also postponed the decision on another draft resolution that stipulated the creation of an oversight committee for state radio and television. (Kate Brown) NEGOTIATIONS ON THE BLACK SEA FLEET CONTINUE. Military experts and government officials from Russia and Ukraine held the next phase of their negotiations on the fate of the Black Sea Fleet on 18 July in Moscow. According to ITAR-TASS, the delegations were led by Yurii Yarov, deputy chairman of the Russian Supreme Soviet, and Vasilii Durdinets, first deputy chairman of the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet. On 16 July in Sevastopol, Russia had suggested a 60-40 division of the Black Sea Fleet in its favor and an examination of this issue in isolation from the rest of the CIS navy, while Ukraine laid claim to all ships positioned in its ports. Andrei Kokoshin, the Russian first deputy defense minister, expressed the hope that a mutually-acceptable compromise could be reached but added that "now it is too soon to talk about that," "Novosti" reported. (Chris Hummel) MOLDOVA SACKS DEFENSE, SECURITY MINISTERS. On 16 July, Chisinau announced the release of Defense Minister Maj. Gen. Ion Costas, and National Security Minister Anatol Plugaru from their posts. Chisinau spokesmen described President Mircea Snegur's measure as part of the formation of a new Moldovan cabinet under Prime Minister-designate Andrei Sangheli, following the resignation of Valeriu Muravschi's cabinet last month. Moldova's Presidential Chancellery told RFE/RL that the release of the two ministers is primarily intended to facilitate the acceptance by left-bank Russian representatives of the four ministerial posts offered to them in a planned coalition government. In addition, Plugaru has also been held responsible for the arrest of a number of agents of Moldova's fledgling security service by Gagauz militants. (Vladimir Socor) SEVASTOPOL BECOMES AN OPEN PORT. The sea-trading port of Sevastopol will henceforth be open to commercial ships from any country, Kuranti reported on 19 July. This decision was reportedly taken by leaders of the city, of the Black Sea Fleet, of the customs protection service and of the state security organs. (Chris Hummel) RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT BOOSTS DEFICIT. Russian lawmakers approved a federal deficit of 950 billion rubles accompanying a 1992 budget of over 3.3 trillion rubles on 17 July, ITAR-TASS reported. This deficit figure is 100 billion rubles more than Acting Prime Minister Egor Gaidar had requested on 16 July. The gap represents 12-14% of the forecasted year-end GNP recently cited in Ekonomika i zhizn, which is up from the 8-10% of GNP estimated by the Finance Ministry at the end of the first quarter of 1992. (Erik Whitlock) GERASHCHENKO TAKES CHARGE OF CENTRAL BANK. Viktor Gerashchenko was voted the new head of the Russian Central Bank by parliament on 17 July. Gerashchenko, the former chairman of the now defunct USSR Gosbank, had some sober words to say about near-term prospects for the ruble. According to Interfax, he asserted that convertibility is an unrealistic goal at the present time as "World experience shows that it is impossible . . . without a balanced economic situation." Criticizing the current policy of propping up the ruble with dollar interventions on the foreign exchange market, he said that dollars would be better spent reducing foreign debt obligations. (Erik Whitlock). ECONOMIC PROJECTIONS FOR 1992. Russian Economics Minister Andrei Nechaev has given the tripartite commission a projection of Russian economic performance in 1992, Interfax reported on 17 July. The GDP is expected to decline by 18% and the national income by 19%. Nechaev noted that the cost of living rose by a factor of ten in the first half of 1992, and that the average family monthly income was 4,100 rubles in June. The minister forecast that the general wholesale price index will rise by three times over its first quarter level, while consumer prices will double. It was not clear whether the two latter increases were predicated on further increases in energy prices, which the cabinet has apparently ruled out for this year. (Keith Bush) FARMERS WITHHOLD GRAIN. On 18 July, Russian media reported widespread unrest among farmers in many regions of Russia. They were protesting the terms of trade between agriculture and industry; the prices that they receive for their produce have risen far more slowly than the prices of their industrial inputs, such as machinery and chemicals. Russian Vice-president Aleksandr Rutskoi has reportedly received 50 warnings of possible strikes by farmers in various regions. One Stavropol region has decided not to sell any grain unless the price is raised from the 8,000 rubles a ton offered by the state to 15,000 rubles a ton. (Keith Bush) STRIKE MORATORIUM IN RUSSIA. On 17 July, Russian Federation of Independent Trade Unions' [official unions] Chairman Igor Klochkov told ITAR-TASS that the several million members of his organization will refrain from strikes for two months to give the government time to address workers' complaints. Klochkov criticized weak government policies thus far, particularly the failure to raise the minimum wage from 900 to 2,600 rubles a month to compensate for rising prices. If the government does not make decisive improvements in the situation by autumn, he added, the federation will reconsider collective action, including strikes. (Brenda Horrigan) CLOSED CITY LAW TO BE MODIFIED. According to Western agencies on 17 July, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that the government wants to modify recent legislation which closed 16 regions and cities to foreigners. This revision would ensure that the new law is in line with a recent US-Russian agreement on opening closed cities and regions. Last week, a US State Department spokesman noted that the new law appeared to be an attempt to establish access rules for sensitive security-related facilities. (Brenda Horrigan) MILITARY DRAFT, HOUSING CONSTRUCTION IN BELARUS. The Belarusian military draft began on 19 July, Radio Rossii reported (quoting ITAR-TASS). Defense Minister Lt. Gen. Pavel Kozlovsky said that Minsk would build its armed forces on the basis of brigades rather than divisions and repeated that, ultimately, the Belarusian armed forces would be manned by approximately 90,000 men. He also said that the republic was prepared to accept the return of some 40,000 Belarusian officers currently serving outside the republic. Meanwhile, Belta-TASS reported on 18 July that two building sites in Belarus had been designated for the construction of over 2,000 apartments, to be allocated to former Soviet officers withdrawing from Germany. They are apparently a part of the 36,000 apartments that Germany has promised to build in the CIS for returning officers. (Stephen Foye) NEW UKRAINIAN POLITICAL PARTY. The official registration of the "Liberal Democratic Party of Ukraine" has raised the number of political parties in the country to thirteen, Ukrinform-TASS reported on 17 July. The party's leader, Volodymyr Klymchuk, emphasized that his organization has nothing to do with Vladimir Zhirinovsky's party of the same name in Russia. The liberal democrats in Ukraine have joined the opposition coalition, "New Ukraine," and their major goal is the struggle for human rights. (Roman Solchanyk) AZERBAIJAN FACES SHORTAGE OF OFFICERS. The press center of the Azerbaijani Military Commissariat said on 19 July that the republic faced a serious deficit of officers, "Novosti" reported. According to the same report, there are now more than 7,000 ethnic Azerbaijani officers serving in other CIS republics. Baku is reportedly trying to entice them into returning to Azerbaijan. (Stephen Foye) COUNCIL OF EUROPE SUPPORTS TURKISH MODEL FOR CENTRAL ASIA. Upon concluding her trip to five former Soviet Republics, including three in Central Asia, Council of Europe General Secretary Catherine Lalumiere expressed support for using Turkey as a model for the Central Asian states' development, ITAR-TASS reported on 19 July. Turkish Foreign Minister Hikmet Chetin, the current chairman of the council's ministerial committee, accompanied Lalumiere on the trip. Lalumiere stated that the West should support Turkey's attempts to aid the new states. Lalumiere's statement gives a boost to Turkey, which so far has played the most prominent role in aiding the five Central Asian states. (Cassandra Cavanaugh) TRILATERAL TRADE MEETING: UZBEKISTAN, AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN. Pakistan, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan held their first trilateral trade meeting in Islamabad, AFP reported on 17 July. The meeting was agreed upon during Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's visit to Uzbekistan in late June. The meeting focused on agreements for transport links between the three states, including measures to repair roads destroyed in the Afghan war. Afghanistan has recently demanded reparations for war damage from the CIS states, Russian TV reported on 18 July. (Cassandra Cavanaugh) TAJIK DELEGATION IN AFGHANISTAN. A government delegation led by the acting head of the presidium of Tajikistan's Supreme Soviet, Akbarsho Iskanderov, has visited Afghanistan to meet with the new president and seek Afghan assistance in stopping the flow of weapons from Afghanistan to armed groups in Tajikistan. According to ITAR-TASS on 18 July, the Afghan leadership had expressed concern over the situation on the border and agreed that it was not helping to stabilize Tajikistan. Iskanderov said that the Afghan side had promised to disarm illegal armed bands on its own side of the border and undertook to enforce border controls in order to stop the transport of narcotics. The two countries also agreed to establish diplomatic relations. (Bess Brown) ANOTHER ATTEMPT TO REDUCE EMIGRATION FROM TAJIKISTAN. On 18 July, Tajik President Rakhmon Nabiev told a meeting of legislators, government officials and representatives of the country's political parties and Muslim clergy that the legislature must devise a package of laws to protect the rights of non-Tajik ethnic minorities in the country in order to reduce emigration. Nabiev repeated these assertions to an ITAR-TASS correspondent, noting that more than 12,000 people, mostly highly qualified specialists, have left Tajikistan in the last few months. He blamed "irresponsible" statements by unidentified political leaders and a "provocation campaign" by some independent publications and Tajik TV (which is controlled by the opposition) for intensifying the fears of non-Tajiks. Loss of non-Tajik specialists is severely damaging the Tajik economy, which even the opposition has acknowledged. (Bess Brown) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE SLOVAKS DECLARE SOVEREIGNTY. With a margin of 113 to 24 (with 10 abstentions and three deputies absent) the Slovak National Council overwhelmingly adopted a declaration of sovereignty on 17 July, Radio Bratislava reports. The document says that it represents "the foundation of the sovereign state of the Slovak nation." The declaration does not establish Slovakia as an independent state, and its value is mostly symbolic since the republic's sovereignty had been guaranteed already by the communist constitution of 1969. Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus reacted to the declaration by saying that the Czech Republic will not immediately respond. CSTK reports that he said Czech ministers will from now on not participate in Slovak government sessions and that Slovak ministers will no longer be admitted to Czech government meetings. (Jan Obrman) HAVEL ANNOUNCES RESIGNATION. In a televised speech on 17 July Havel said that he would resign on 20 July at 6:00 p.m. He explained that he could no longer carry out his pledge of allegiance to the federation in the postelection situation and mentioned that he failed to be reelected by the new Federal Assembly. Havel made it clear that he cannot bear responsibility for developments he cannot influence. The federal government will take over his responsibilities until a new president is elected or the federation disintegrates. (Jan Obrman) DOMESTIC REACTION. Vaclav Klaus called Havel's decision "correct and logical." Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar said in an interview with CSTK on the same day that he does not believe that the president's decision to resign was linked to Slovakia's declaration of sovereignty, as Havel called him to congratulate on the document. He added, however, that the timing of the resignation makes it "look nasty." Several leading Czech politicians indicated that Havel's resignation opens the way for him to become Czech president, a possibility Havel has not expressly rejected. (Jan Obrman) HAVEL GIVES LAST WEEKLY RADIO ADDRESS. Havel said on 19 July that his decision to resign was not an "impulsive act of protest" against the Slovak declaration of sovereignty, rather he simply did not want to stand in the way of the developments. Havel made it clear that he respects the events in Slovakia, and that supporters of Czechoslovakia's federal setup underestimated Slovakia's desire for "emancipation." Havel also said that both the Czech Republic and Slovakia should adopt their respective constitutions on the same day, so that the federal constitution becomes invalid on the whole territory at the same time. (Jan Obrman) PANIC IN SARAJEVO. Milan Panic, prime minister of the rump Yugoslavia, paid a goodwill visit to Sarajevo on 19 July to show his and Serbia's sincerity in promoting peace. The 20 July New York Times quotes him as saying that he could bring peace because he expresses what most Serbs, Muslims, and Croats really want, and if a commander in the field did not obey his orders to respect the cease-fire, "so help him God." The BBC said that the conversation between Panic and Bosnian president Alija Izetbegovic was heated, apparently because Panic feels that all three nationalities are to blame for the war, while Izetbegovic blames the Serbs as the aggressor. Panic later termed Bosnian politics "Mickey-Mouse," while Izetbegovic suggested that Panic was not yet well informed. That same day, the cease-fire brokered on 17 July by Lord Carrington was to have come into effect, but the fighting continued. On 19 July Reuters quoted British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd and Albanian President Sali Berisha as calling for international observers to go to Kosovo. (Patrick Moore) REFUGEES FROM FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. Some 230 refugees from Kosovo, Macedonia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina have arrived in Tallinn en route to Finland. The refugees, many of whom are women and children, were fatigued from their long bus ride and were fed by the Estonian Red Cross. According to BNS on 16 July, it is unclear whether Finland will allow the refugees passage into Helsinki. Western agencies report that Italy and Germany have begun to accept some Bosnian refugees. (Riina Kionka & Charles Trumbull) LANDSBERGIS WANTS ABISALA AS PRIME MINISTER. On 19 July in his weekly address over Lithuanian TV, Supreme Council Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis said he will propose Aleksandras Abisala as prime minister. The 37-year old parliament deputy from Kaunas was appointed minister without portfolio in February 1991 and has led the Lithuanian work groups negotiating the withdrawal of the former USSR army. It is not certain that parliament will approve Abisala as prime minister on 21 July since it had previously rejected his nomination as minister of communications and information sciences several times. (Saulius Girnius) ROMANIAN KING FOR PRESIDENT? The National Liberal Party (NLP) has nominated Michael I, Romania's exiled king, as its candidate for the presidential elections scheduled for 27 September, Rompres and Western agencies reported on 18 July. Party leader Radu Campeanu, who refused to accept the nomination himself and proposed the king instead, said he will travel next week to Switzerland to offer the nomination. There has been no reaction from the king to the proposal. Campeanu is expected to be nominated if the king refuses the offer. The Democratic Convention (DC) has nominated Emil Constantinescu, a monarchist, as its candidate. The NLP has left the convention in spring and one of its leaders, Constantin Ticu Dumitrescu, attacked Campeanu's gesture as a "cheap and damaging propaganda stunt." (Michael Shafir) ROMANIAN OPPOSITION PROTESTS PRESIDENTIAL APPOINTMENT. The DC protested against the appointment by President Iliescu of Razvan Theodorescu to the recently-established National Audio-visual Council. Theodorescu, president of Romanian TV, has often been accused by the opposition of progovernment leanings. The DC emphasizes that the new body will play a crucial role in the September elections and that, as a candidate in these elections, Iliescu has no right to influence the council. (Michael Shafir). LATVIA DROPS THE RUSSIAN RUBLE. As of 20 July, the only legal tender in Latvia is the Latvian ruble. No longer can a consumer choose to pay either in Latvian or Russian rubles; a choice had existed since May when the Latvian ruble was introduced in order to alleviate a shortage of Russian rubles. The Russian ruble is now considered foreign currency. The Latvian ruble will be used until the introduction, possibly this fall, of the lats, Radio Riga reports on 20 July. (Dzintra Bungs) POLISH MINERS' CONFLICT CONTINUES. Mine directors granted wage hikes in 63 coal mines on 17 July, temporarily halting the strike wave in Upper Silesia. The government warned immediately that most mines can not afford the increases, and deputy prime minister Henryk Goryszewski threatened to fire any director who promises unrealistic raises. Miners' unions meanwhile pressured government negotiators in Warsaw to relax wage controls for the mining industry. Talks broke off on 18 July when the government refused to yield. Although the government has scheduled new talks for 22 July, one miners' union has called two-hour warning strikes in twenty coal mines for 20 July. Copper miners have also scheduled a general strike for 20 July. (Louisa Vinton) TRANSPORT STRIKE ENDS IN BULGARIA. Following a five-day strike in Sofia, buses, trams, and trolleys are expected to be back in operation on 20 July, BTA and Western agencies report. On the afternoon of the 19th a deal giving the workers a wage raise slightly below the government's 26% ceiling was struck between the strike committees and the Sofia City Council, and mayor Aleksandar Yanchulev promised to withdraw law suits filed against the organizers of the strike. In a TV interview Yanchulev implied that trade unions were responsible for the escalation of the labor conflict. (Kjell Engelbrekt) RUSSIAN LEGISLATURE SLAMS ESTONIA. The Supreme Soviet on 17 July passed a resolution threatening Estonia with economic sanctions in response to alleged "human rights violations" there. Without citing any evidence of human rights abuses, Russian lawmakers in the resolution called on the government to consider imposing sanctions if the alleged violations do not cease. The resolution also appealed to the UN to raise the issue during the current General Assembly session. The resolution also instructed a parliamentary committee to draft by 20 September an additional resolution to suspend the Estonian-Russian interstate agreement of January 1991. Not coincidentally, elections for the new Estonian parliament are scheduled for 20 September. (Riina Kionka) "ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE BALTIC STATES." On the same day the Supreme Soviet also adopted a statement "On Human Rights in the Baltic States," ITAR-TASS reports. The body "resolutely repudiates the inclusion in the legislative acts of the Baltic States of articles that make discrimination on grounds of nationality the norm and that lead to an increase in social and political tension and have a negative influence on regional stability." (Dzintra Bungs) ESTONIA REBUFFS RUSSIAN CLAIMS. In a statement released later on 17 July, the Estonian government rejected Russia's claims of human rights abuses. Citing Estonia's citizenship law as among the most liberal in Europe, the statement said Estonia has not "arbitrarily deprived anyone of citizenship and the political rights that follow," but instead has established procedures for easy naturalization. The statement further notes that Estonia regards Russia's continuing military and political pressure "as a direct attempt to damage relations between the two countries immediately before [troop withdrawal] negotiations and to assume a position of force" in those negotiations. (Riina Kionka) RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY PROTEST. The Russian Foreign Ministry turned up the heat on 17 July with its own protest note over alleged Estonian territorial claims on Russian land. According to the note, delivered by Russian deputy foreign minister Vitalii Churkin, Estonia's new constitution contradicts the basic principles of international law. Churkin also handed over the two Supreme Soviet resolutions and said it was necessary "to avoid dangerous situations to which the continuation of discrimination of the Russian and Russian-speaking minority can lead," ITAR-TASS said that day. (Riina Kionka) NO MORE NEW RECRUITS TO BE SENT TO LITHUANIA. On 19 July Russian defense minister Pavel Grachev sent a letter to his Lithuanian counterpart Audrius Butkevicius informing him that no more new Russian army recruits would be sent to Lithuania to replace soldiers whose terms of duty have ended, Radio Lithuania reports. (Saulius Girnius) BULGARIAN MILITARY REPLACEMENTS, VISITS. A series of replacements in the top leadership of the Bulgarian army were announced on 17 July. BTA reported that Maj. Gen. Boris Bakavliev will leave his post as deputy chief of general staff and head of the Operative Department, to be replaced by Maj. Gen. Petko Prokopiev, previous commander of the First Army. Further, Maj. Gen. Lyubomir Vasilev will assume command of the First Army, while Maj. Gen. Gancho Denev takes over the Second Army. Meanwhile, a group of officers of the NATO South European Command--assigned to coordinate NATO relations with Bulgaria--spent 13-17 July in the country. Also, on 19 July British officials arrived on an inspection tour in accordance with the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty. (Kjell Engelbrekt) NASTASE'S CENTRAL ASIAN TOUR. On 16 July Romanian foreign affairs minister Adrian Nastase visited Bishkek, where he met Murat Imanaliev, Kyrgyzstan's interim minister of foreign affairs, and signed a protocol on collaboration between the two foreign ministries. Nastase flew to Tashkent the same day and on the 17th met with Uzbekistan's first deputy foreign minister, Latif Teshabiev, Rompres and Radio Bucharest reported on the 17th. On the 19th the delegation proceeded to Dushanbe, Tajikistan. (Michael Shafir) SUCHOCKA IN VIENNA. Making her first official visit abroad, Polish prime minister Hanna Suchocka attended the meeting of the Central European Initiative (formerly the "Hexagonale") in Vienna on 17-18 July. She also held talks with both the Austrian prime minister and president. On her return to Warsaw, Suchocka expressed confidence that the international community welcomes the formation of her government as a sign of stabilization in Poland. (Louisa Vinton) MACIEREWICZ OUSTED FROM PARTY. The Christian National Union voted on 19 July to expel from its ranks former internal affairs minister and party deputy chairman Antoni Macierewicz. Macierewicz had been responsible for the release of names of alleged secret police collaborators on 4 June. The name of party leader Wieslaw Chrzanowski appeared on one of Macierewicz's lists. The party ruled that Macierewicz's handling of the disclosures had been politically manipulative, harmed innocent people, and compromised the very idea of lustration. (Louisa Vinton) SCOTTISH COURT HOLDS GECAS GUILTY OF WAR CRIMES. On 17 July, after a four-month trial that included hearings in Lithuania, Scottish judge Lord Milligan ruled that Scottish TV had not libeled Antanas Gecas in its 1987 documentary, "Crimes of War," Western agencies report. Milligan found that Gecas had "participated in many operations involving the killing of innocent Soviet citizens including Jews in particular in Belorussia during the last three months of 1941, and in doing so committed war crimes against Soviet citizens, including old men, women, and children." It is likely that Gecas will be tried under the 1991 British War Crimes Act. (Saulius Girnius) [As of 1200 CET]
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