|I'm going to turn on the light, and we'll be two people in a room looking at each other and wondering why on earth we were afraid of the dark. - Gale Wilhelm|
No. 137, 21 July 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR RUSSIA AND BELARUS AGREE TO COORDINATE ECONOMIC POLICIES. Russia and Belarus formally declared their intention to coordinate economic policies and reform strategies on 20 July, ITAR-TASS reported. Delegations from the two countries, led by Acting Prime Minister Egor Gaidar and Prime Minister Vyacheslav Kebich respectively, signed a series of documents pledging to maintain the ruble as their common currency and coordinate monetary, fiscal, pricing and export-import policies. The participants also announced further negotiations concerning division of obligations for the external debt of the former USSR. (Erik Whitlock) BELARUSIAN-RUSSIAN SECURITY AGREEMENT. In addition, Russia and Belarus on 20 July signed what was described by ITAR-TASS as a military cooperation agreement with supplemental agreements on the status of strategic forces temporarily stationed in Belarus. Gaidar was quoted as saying that the agreements "transcend" accords signed previously within the CIS framework, and he suggested that Russia was negotiating similar agreements with other CIS states. Belarusian Defense Minister Col. Gen. Pavel Kozlovsky said that the agreements specified that a part of the strategic forces stationed in Belarus be subordinated to Moscow, Interfax reported. At a later date, he said, they would be handed over to the CIS command. (Stephen Foye) RUSSIAN-BELARUSIAN AGREEMENTS: "A STEP IN THE DIRECTION OF CONFEDERATION." At a press conference after the signing of the Russian-Belarusian agreements, acting Russian Prime Minister Egor Gaidar, asked whether they marked the "beginning of a confederation" within the CIS, said they could be regarded "as a step in that direction," a view with which the Belarusian prime minister, Vyacheslav Kebich, concurred. (Ann Sheehy) BELARUSIAN-UKRAINIAN TALKS ON DEFENSE. On 20 July, Belarusian Deputy Defense Minister Petr Chaus told Interfax that defense officials from Belarus and Ukraine had met in Kiev to discuss cooperation in the defense sphere. The issues on the agenda apparently included coordinating air operations, renovating weaponry, and insuring social security for military personnel. He said that special bilateral agreements in all these areas would be signed by the two sides, and that their next meeting would be held in Minsk at the beginning of August. (Stephen Foye) RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN INTELLIGENCE AGREEMENT. Russian Minister of Security, Viktor Barannikov and the chief of the National Security Service of Ukraine, Yevhen Marchuk, have signed an document on cooperation of their international and regional activities, ITAR-TASS reported on 20 July. Both services also agreed not to work against each other and to combat intelligence gathering by third parties. When the Ukrainian KGB was a part of the All-Union agency, it had already used its own small foreign intelligence unit (known as "TR line") in cooperation with the central KGB and the Polish communist intelligence service. (Victor Yasmann) STANKEVICH TO BECOME MINISTER FOR CIS AFFAIRS? Sergei Stankevich, political advisor to the Russian President, has indicated that he may become the head of a new ministry for CIS affairs, according to Interfax on 17 July. Stankevich, who has recently become the most outspoken defender of the Russian minorities in the former Soviet republics, also emphasized that developments in the CIS call "for a special and independent sphere of Russian foreign policy" and noted that the CIS "must be dealt with on a daily basis, and not in between trips to London and Paris." Stankevich denied rumors that the present foreign minister, Andrei Kozyrev, will be dismissed and that he, himself, might take over Kozyrev's job. (Alexander Rahr) DEMANDS FOR EXPULSION OF "PERSONS OF CAUCASIAN NATIONALITY." Bus and trolleybus drivers in Bryansk have threatened to strike if "persons of Caucasian nationality" are not expelled from the city within two days, ITAR-TASS reported on 20 July. Two days earlier "Ostankino" TV reported that local traders had blocked the central thoroughfare of Vologda demanding the immediate expulsion from the oblast of all persons of Caucasian nationality. These incidents, which are becoming more frequent, almost invariably follow a crime involving a Caucasian. Gypsies have also been targeted on occasion. DR-Press reported on 18 July that the associations of fellow-countrymen of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia in St. Petersburg were drawing up an appeal to the local population pointing out that a hostile attitude towards Caucasians could provoke a similar attitude toward Russians in the Transcaucasian republics. (Ann Sheehy) IZVESTIYA APPEALS TO CONSTITUTIONAL COURT, CONTINUES TO PRINT. The showdown between Izvestiya's editors and the Russian Parliament is now heading to the Russian Constitutional Court. On 20 July, the Press and Information Ministry, having been ordered to reregister Izvestiya as the parliament's paper, refused after consulting lawyers, and decided instead to appeal to the Constitutional Court. Izvestiya's chief editor, Igor Golembiovsky, continues to describe the Parliament's maneuvers as a "fight for power"; Izvestiya's headline on Monday read, "Izvestiya ready to obey the law but not the ambitions of the legislators." Yeltsin's former legal advisor, Sergei Shakhrai, has said he is prepared to represent the newspaper in court. Meanwhile, Komsomolskaya pravda reported suspicions of rigged voting during the parliamentary vote on the newspaper's fate. According to the report, two deputies, Sergei Shakhrai and Oleg Rumyantsev, did not attend the session but were recorded as having voted in favor of the resolution. (Kathryn Brown) SOVIET ARMS SALES DOWN IN 1991. The value of arms sales to the third world by the former Soviet Union fell from $11.2 billion in 1990 to $5 billion in 1991, according to a study by the US Congressional Research Service, as reported in The New York Times on 21 July. Soviet arms sales had peaked at $24.8 billion in 1986. Moscow's exports of military hardware to Iran had increased in recent years, but its deliveries to Iraq were curtailed by the UN embargo, its arms supplies to Cuba dried up after 1987, and its sales to Vietnam, Syria, and India have been greatly reduced. (Keith Bush) RUSSIAN UNEMPLOYMENT RISING. Izvestiya of 16 July reported on a Russian Federation end-of-June official statistic of 200,000 registered unemployed, and a projection from the Russian Employment Service of an end-of-July figure of 235,000. These figures compare with 69,000 at the beginning of the year and 176,000 at the end of May. The Employment Service has also said that the number of notified vacancies had fallen from 882,000 in December to 350,000 in June, according to Ekonomika i zhizn, (no. 27). A particular concern is the rise of youth (up to 22 years of age) unemployment. In the Komi, Irkutsk, Sverdlovsk and Omsk regions, between one-quarter and one-third of unemployment falls in this category. (Philip Hanson) NEW POLITICAL COALITION IN UKRAINE. The newspaper, Visti z Ukrainy (no. 29), reported that a new coalition of national democratic parties will probably be formed by the end of the summer. Citing Mykhilo Horyn, head of the Ukrainian Republican Party (URP), the report said that the republicans will join forces with the Democratic Party of Ukraine (DemPU) and several other parties at a "Congress of National Democratic Forces" to be convened in August. According to Horyn, negotiations are underway with "Rukh," which is headed by Vyacheslav Chornovil, concerning its joining the coalition, which is meant to exert more forceful pressure on Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk. (Roman Solchanyk) "RUKH" CALLS FOR EARLY ELECTIONS. The leadership of "Rukh" issued a resolution on 19 July calling for the earliest possible dissolution of the Ukrainian parliament and new elections, Radio Ukraine reported. The organization also approved a series of measures to set in motion a referendum on the dissolution of parliament and set a date (30 October-1 November) for Rukh's fourth congress. (Roman Solchanyk) HEAVY FIGHTING REPORTED IN NAGORNO-KARABAKH. The Armenian Defense Ministry claimed on 20 July that there had been heavy fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces in the Mardakert region of Nagorno-Karabakh, and at least 88 people were killed. The Armenian report, quoted by Western and Moscow media, said that Armenian forces had captured one village. A report from the Nagorno-Karabakh capital Stepanakert said that five villages had been captured. Meanwhile, an Azerbaijani report, broadcast by Radio Rossii, said that Armenia was continuing to send military hardware into Nagorno-Karabakh. (Bess Brown) DISSATISFACTION IN SEVENTH ARMY. Upset over their living conditions, officers of the Armenian based Russian Seventh Army have sent an appeal to the Russian government and Defense Ministry, ITAR-TASS reported on 20 July. The appeal, formally drafted by an officers assembly of the army's staff and central administration, included demands for a doubling or tripling of pay, for each month of service in Armenia to count as two months, for a halt to arms transfers, and for the rapid construction of officers housing. (Stephen Foye) "DNIESTER GUARD" LEADER ARRESTED AND KILLED BY OWN SIDE; GROUP "LIQUIDATED." Nikolai (alias Yurii) Kostenko, a reserve Lt. Col. who commanded the "Dniester guard" battalion in Bendery, has been killed "by an unknown gang" while in the custody of the authorities in Tiraspol, ITAR-TASS reported on 20 July. The self-styled "Dniester republic prosecutor general," Boris Luchik, told ITAR-TASS that a group of "Dniester guards" in Bendery loyal to Kostenko had been "liquidated" on 16 July; and that Kostenko was arrested on that day. The "Kostenko group" was accused of having formed a "third force" acting both against the "Dniester" and against Moldovan forces in Bendery. Luchik added that Kostenko was handed over from one to another "law enforcement organ" before being killed, but failed to name either "organ". (Vladimir Socor) SHOKHIN TO VISIT CENTRAL ASIAN STATES. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Shokhin set out on a journey to Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan on 20 July, ITAR-TASS reported. He characterized the goal of his trip as the "activation of diplomatic relations" with these former Soviet republicsnow member states of the CIS. In each capital Shokhin will hold discussions on a number of bilateral issues, including military, economic and political questions, and the fate of Russian minorities in these states.(Cassandra Cavanaugh) UZBEKISTAN NATIONAL GUARDS TAKE OATH. Russian television reported on 20 July on the swearing in of Uzbekistan's first 1,000 national guards in Tashkent. The force includes an honor guard and a special forces unit. The TV report assessed the military preparedness of the units as high, and noted that their duties will include preventing terrorist actions, freeing kidnapped prisoners, guarding important economic installations and dealing with the consequences of natural disasters. (Cassandra Cavanaugh) KRASNAYA ZVEZDA ON THE STATE OF THE UZBEK ARMY. On 16 July, Krasnaya zvezda reported that the native language of 70% of the Uzbek Army officer corps is Russian, and so, for the time being, the language of communication in the army will remain Russian. In order not to drive these officers away, Uzbekistan has not yet mandated that they take an oath of loyalty to the Uzbek government; though, for those who wish to leave, Uzbek authorities are attempting to reach an agreement with Russia to preserve the ranks and privileges of these officers in the Russian army. Of the several thousand native Uzbek officers serving elsewhere in the former USSR, some, but not all, have returned to serve in Uzbekistan. (Cassandra Cavanaugh) UZBEKISTAN READY TO ADVANCE OLYMPIC BID. A delegation from Tashkent is in Barcelona lobbying the International Olympic Committee to host the summer Olympic Games in the year 2000, Reuters reported on 18 July. The mayor of Tashkent stated that "Whatever it costs to stage [the games] we will pay, and if we do not get it this time we will come back again and again until we do," AFP reported. Among the eight competitors, Tashkent is seen as the long shot, though Uzbek officials have promised to finance the games with proceeds from its rich oil and gold resources. (Cassandra Cavanaugh) RUSSIAN PASSPORT COSTS 50 RUBLES. The Russian government has priced a passport at 50 rubles, according to a 16 July Nezavisimaya gazeta report. This price supposedly reflects the actual cost in producing the passport. The Interior Ministry and the ministries of justice and finance were charged by the government with presenting suggestions within a two month period on changes and additions to the Russian Federation legal-administrative code, to strengthen regulations on "the careless storing of a passport, entailing for its loss, and other violations of the rules of the passport system." (Sarah Helmstadter) FIRES ESPECIALLY DANGEROUS IN RUSSIA. A 16 July report in Rossiiskie Vesti, blamed a lack of fire prevention measures and fire fighting equipment for the high rate of death and injury from fires in the Russian Federation. According to an Interior Ministry report, 7,800 died and 65,000 were seriously injured in fire-related incidents in 1991: this was said to be the highest such toll in the world. The ministry predicted that the year 2000 would see 14,000 people die and 130,000 injured in fires if present trends continue. Rural areas, where one third of all fires in Russia break out, are especially hard hit; they suffer half of all material damage from fire. (Sarah Helmstadter) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE HAVEL RESIGNS. At 6:00 p.m. on 20 July, the presidential flag was lowered over the Prague Castle, Vaclav Havel's residence for the past 30 months. Before his formal resignation, the president had a farewell meeting with members of the diplomatic corps. He told the diplomats that he was convinced that the fundamental principles of democracy would be preserved in both republics of the disintegrating Czechoslovakia. According to various news agencies, he said in a meeting with journalists that he considered it "a great failure" that Czechoslovakia could not be transformed into a "just and democratic federation." The federal government meanwhile asked federal prime minister Jan Strasky to assume Havel's powers. (Jan Obrman) FIGHTING FORCES CLOSURE OF SARAJEVO AIRPORT. UN officials were forced to close Sarajevo's airport on 20 July after intense fighting in the vicinity threatened incoming flights of relief supplies. The fighting brought a halt to the two-week old airlift, which was supplying Sarajevo with 20 planeloads a day of foodstuffs and medicine. Two UN soldiers were wounded by flying shrapnel when a mortar shell exploded near the airport. The Washington Post quoted the commander of UN forces in Sarajevo, Lt. Gen. Lewis Mackenzie, as saying that it was impossible to tell whether the besieging Serbs or the besieged Muslims were responsible for the shelling. Bavarian Radio reported midmorning on the 21st that the airport had been partially reopened and that a French relief flight had landed. Elsewhere in Bosnia, Serbs continued their offensive against the towns of Gorazde and Mostar. (Gordon Bardos) EC TO MEDIATE IN THE KOSOVO DISPUTE? Reuters reports on 20 July that Kosovo president Ibrahim Rugova and EC chief mediator in the Yugoslav crisis, Lord Carrington, have agreed to EC-sponsored talks between Serbia and Kosovo within the framework of the EC peace conference for the former Yugoslavia. For well over a year the Kosovars have been asking in vain for a place at any meetings dealing with that divided country's future, but it is not yet clear whether Serbia will agree. Belgrade regards Kosovo as its internal affair and has destroyed the province's autonomy in recent years, while Kosovo's 90%-plus Albanian majority has set up its own shadow government and conducts a campaign of passive resistance. The G-7 called for talks and the restoration of autonomy, and British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd wants observers to monitor the situation in Kosovo. (Patrick Moore) YUGOSLAV REFUGEES IN HUNGARY. . . Representatives of the Hungarian parliament's foreign relations and self-government (local government) committees visited four refugee camps on July 20 to examine the conditions under which refugees live, MTI and Radio Budapest report. They told reporters that the refugees are properly cared for and are generally in good health. Hungary still shoulders most of the financial burden for the care of the some 50,000 Yugoslav refugees on its territory. This year alone Hungary spent some 1,68 billion forint for the care of refugees (including over 70,000 ethnic Hungarian immigrants) exceeding substantially the one billion forint originally set aside for the purpose, the representatives reported. Hungary received 500 million forint in international refugee aid this year and is calling for more funds. (Edith Oltay) . . . AND ELSEWHERE. Some 230 refugees from Kosovo, Macedonia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina arrived in Tallinn en route to Finland. The refugees, many of whom are women and children, were taken care of by the Estonian Red Cross. According to BNS on 16 July, however, it is unclear whether Finland will allow the refugees passage into Helsinki. On 20 July Finland imposed visa requirements on refugees from the rump Yugoslavia; Foreign Minister Paavo Vayrynen said that the 1,800 Yugoslav refugees in his country were almost all from Kosovo. Western agencies reported of 20 July that Italy and Germany have begun to accept some Bosnian refugees. (Riina Kionka & Charles Trumbull) SLOVENIA, HUNGARY SIGN MILITARY ACCORD. Slovenian Defense Minister Janes Jansa and his Hungarian counterpart Lajos Fur signed a bilateral military cooperation agreement at the end of a two-day official visit by Fur, MTI reported on 19 July. The accord, the first of its kind signed by Slovenia, covers flight safety in border areas and consultations in the fields of security affairs, officer and NCO training, information, sports, and culture. (Alfred Reisch) NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL IN HUNGARY. Manfred Woerner visited Budapest on 17 July to receive an honorary doctorate from the Miklos Zrinyi Military Academy and lecture on the future of NATO, MTI reports. Woerner also discussed the ties between NATO and Hungary and the conflict in Yugoslavia in separate talks with Prime Minister Antall, Defense Minister Fur, and Foreign Minister Jeszenszky. The Hungarian media noted that while a Hungarian membership in NATO was not timely, the alliance is paying close attention to Hungary and would not remain passive should the country come under attack. (Alfred Reisch) ROMANIA'S KING WILL NOT RUN FOR PRESIDENT. Romania's exiled king, Michael I, rejected the offer of the National Liberal Party (NLP) to be its candidate in the presidential elections scheduled for 27 September. In a statement to RFE/RL's Romanian service on 20 July, the king said he wants to maintain his status of constitutional monarch who must be "an impartial guarantor of national unity." Meanwhile criticism continued in Romania of the NLP initiative. In a statement carried by Rompres, the Democratic Convention said the initiative aimed at "creating confusion and discord." Former prime minister Petre Roman said in a statement in the daily Evenimentul zilei the NLP leader Radu Campeanu is indulging into "politicking" and showing "disdain for democracy." (Michael Shafir) BILAK CHARGED OVER ROLE IN 1968 INVASION. Vasil Bilak, the former head of the ideology department of the CPCS' Central Committee, is being charged with crimes against peace for his role in the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. According to various agency reports, senior Prague prosecutor Vladimir Nechanicky informed journalists on 20 July that Bilak's signature appeared on a letter to former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev in which a group of orthodox Czechoslovak communists indirectly invited the Soviets to intervene. Bilak who is facing a prison term of between one and ten years if convicted, was not taken into custody because of his health and age. (Jan Obrman) MORE BULGARIAN COMMUNISTS JAILED. A wave of arrests against former top-ranking communists, which has already led to the seizure of three former prime ministers, is continuing. On 20 July Yordan Yotov, former secretary of the Communist Party, was detained by the prosecuting authorities. Three days earlier, Yotov's predecessor and CP Politburo member, Milko Balev, was taken into custody. Both are accused of gross misappropriation of state funds and could receive 10 to 20 years imprisonment. According to Bulgarian media, some sixty former communist officials might face similar charges. (Kjell Engelbrekt) NICU CEAUSESCU IN COURT AGAIN. Romania's Supreme Court announced in a hearing that it would rule on 27 July on the state prosecutor's appeal of Nicu Ceausescu's conviction of genocide, Romanian and Western agencies reported on 20 July. Nicu Ceausescu, the son of the late dictator, was sentenced to 16 years in prison on 3 June 1991. The prosecution wants the charges against him changed from genocide to a lesser offense, instigation to murder, on the grounds that the case does not fit the internationally recognized definition of genocide. (Michael Shafir). GERMAN PARLIAMENTARIANS IN BULGARIA. A delegation led by Rita Suessmuth, chairwoman of the Bundestag, arrived in Sofia on 20 July. Their first day was spent visiting the National Assembly, meeting with parliamentary speaker Stefan Savov and members of the foreign affairs committee. Committee chairman and leader of the UDF caucus, Aleksandar Yordanov, explained Bulgaria's Balkan policy as a multilateral approach aimed at avoiding the emergence of opposing alliances. Earlier the same day Suessmuth said Germany appreciated Bulgaria's stability "in the stormy Balkan sea." On 21 July the German delegation is scheduled for meetings with President Zhelev and Prime Minister Dimitrov. (Kjell Engelbrekt) LITHUANIAN-RUSSIAN TROOP WITHDRAWAL TALKS. The latest round of talks began on 20 July in the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry, Radio Lithuania reports. The Lithuanian delegation is headed by Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Gediminas Serksnys, replacing Minister without Portfolio Aleksandras Abisala, who will be nominated on 21 July as prime minister. A communiqué is expected on 22 July. (Saulius Girnius) 1,500 RUSSIAN RECRUITS TO LITHUANIA? On 21 July Radio Lithuania reports that Deputy Prime Minister Zigmas Vaisvila sent a telegram to Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev noting that Col. Gen. Evgenii Podkolzin, head of the Russian Airborne Forces, had asked the Lithuanian National Defense Ministry to allow the training for five months of 1,500 new recruits at the 242nd Airborne Training Division at Jonava. The letter asserted that Grachev had authorized this exception to his pledge not to send any more recruits to the Baltic States. Vaisvila asked Grachev for official confirmation of the letter, also reminding him that Russia is not fulfilling its promise in a written protocol to withdraw its troops from Vilnius. (Saulius Girnius) RUSSIAN PLAN FOR PULLOUT FROM LATVIA. Eriks Tilgass, adviser to Latvia's Minister of State, told an RFE/RL correspondent in Riga on 17 July that a detailed plan for troop withdrawals in 1992 from Latvia had been received from the Northwestern Group of Forces earlier that day. The plan is a follow-up to the Russian proposals made at the meeting of Latvian and Russian experts on troop withdrawal on 2 July and calls for the military to vacate 84 facilities (of which about a dozen have been or are being taken over by Latvia already), including the aviation engineering schools in Riga and Daugavpils, and to pull out about 13,500 troops, or less than one-fourth of the troops in Latvia. Tilgass said that Latvia would wait for the complete troop withdrawal schedule before responding to this plan. (Dzintra Bungs) RUSSIAN SOLDIERS IN LATVIA GO HOME. Latvia's Defense Minister Talavs Jundzis told Diena on 17 July that all the 19 Russian army draftees and soldiers who had been brought to serve in Latvia, but want to serve in their homelands, had gone home the previous day. Jundzis said that Russia had shown no interest in settling this matter diplomatically and that the young men had decided, therefore, to take matters into their own hands. (Dzintra Bungs) ESTONIA SUBORDINATES DEFENSE FORCES. The Estonian Defense Council on 20 July subordinated the defense forces to the Estonian government, BNS reports. According to the new constitution, the defense forces are formally headed by the commander-in-chief of the forces in times of peace. However, the government has not named a commander-in-chief since 3 July, when the new constitution came into force. As a result, the defense forces have not been under any definite leadership, a fact that may contribute to the recent spate of incidents involving the Russian military. (Riina Kionka) STOLEN CARS FOUND AT FORMER SOVIET BASE IN POLAND. Suspicions that former Soviet military bases in Poland have become warehouses for Russian smugglers were confirmed when Polish inspectors discovered a cache of stolen cars at the Legnica air base. Zycie Warsawy reported on 17 July that the local commander reacted to the discovery by refusing to allow the inspectors to leave and arguing that the base "belongs to the Russian Federation." Poland retaliated by banning the takeoff of planes from Legnica. Russian officers blocked a second inspection on 20 July. Polish authorities fear the military port in Swinoujscie is also being used to transport stolen goods to Russia. Zycie Warszawy also suggested that Russian forces are carrying out a scorched earth policy as they withdraw, looting anything of value, dismantling runways, and uprooting electrical systems. (Louisa Vinton) POLISH STRIKE UPDATE. Most of the 40,000 workers employed in the Polska Miedz copper combine in Legnica voivodship are taking part in the general strike that began on 20 July. In contrast to the wave of wildcat strikes at Upper Silesian coal mines, the copper miners' strike followed the exhaustion of all legally mandated forms of collective bargaining. In a referendum 90% of the work force voted to strike. Unlike the heavily indebted coal industry, the copper combine turns a profit, and the combine director has argued that pay raises above those offered by management would compromise the combine's self- financing status. The director has threatened a lockout should the strike last more than a week. Meanwhile, eight Silesian coal mines (eighteen by the organizers' count) held warning strikes on 20 July. New government talks are scheduled for 22 July, but officials have already warned that at least 18 coal mines may have to close this year. (Louisa Vinton) [As of 1200 CET]
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