|Life is what happens to us while we're making other plans. - John Lennon|
No. 138, 22 July 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR YELTSIN CRITICIZES MILITARY LEADERSHIP. At a meeting of some two hundred military commanders and regional leaders held in the Kremlin on 21 July, Boris Yeltsin accused the Russian military leadership of corruption and abuse of office, and ordered it to put its financial house in order, Russian and Western agencies reported. According to Yeltsin press aide, Vyacheslav Kostikov, who was the main source of information on the meeting, Yeltsin focused in particular on the army's implication in the illegal sales of military property and warned against a possible merger of military supply services with commercial interests. He hinted that there might be some personnel changes in the military command. At the meeting, which was reportedly devoted to a discussion on insuring decent living standards for servicemen, Yeltsin also leveled criticism against regional leaders for failing to provide housing promised to officers. (Stephen Foye) LATEST BLACK SEA FLEET DISPUTE. A frigate from the Black Sea Fleet with a rebellious crew bolted from a training exercise at its home port of Donuzlav on 21 July, raised the Ukrainian flag, and set off without permission for Odessa, Western and CIS agencies reported. Russian commanders sent at least three ships and a plane to intercept the vessel, but they then let the ship dock in Odessa. Ukrainian naval commander, Admiral Boris Kozhin, criticized the action, saying that it violated the Dagomys agreement reached by presidents Yeltsin and Kravchuk. That accord forbade taking any unilateral actions with respect to the fleet. The rebellious crew, which was commanded by an ethnic Ukrainian, claimed to have fled over humiliations suffered at the hands of the mainly Russian fleet command. Negotiations were reportedly taking place on 22 July over the fate of the crew. (Stephen Foye) PEACEKEEPING TROOPS IN THE CIS. Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev said in Krasnaya zvezda on 21 July that Russian troops will be trained as peacekeeping troops over the next several years for possible deployment both with UN peacekeeping forces and with proposed CIS peacekeeping units. His remarks were summarized by Western agencies. On the same day, Radio Rossii reported that Boris Yeltsin signed a protocol, originally prepared by CIS defense and foreign ministers in Tashkent on 16 July, on the creation and use of CIS peacekeeping forces. Meanwhile, Ukrinform-TASS reported on 21 July that a battalion formed in Ukraine would be leaving that night to join a UN peacekeeping force in Bosnia. (Stephen Foye) MOLDOVAN PEACE AGREEMENT SIGNED. Following negotiations launched by Moldovan President Mircea Snegur with Russian President Yeltsin in Moscow on 3 July, which were subsequently continued by their military and political representatives, an agreement on ending the hostilities in eastern Moldova was signed by Yeltsin and Snegur in Moscow on 21 July. "Dniester republic president" Igor Smirnov was present at the meeting but did not sign. The sole provision known thus far is that Moldova grants the "Dniester" area the right to decide its own fate if Moldova changes its statehood, (that is, if it unites with Romania). In fact, this right was previously offered by Chisinau to Tiraspol in January 1992. This offer was devised by anti-unification officials in Snegur's chancellery as a way of creating yet another disincentive to unification with Romania. (Vladimir Socor) FRENCH MILITARY INSPECTORS ARRIVE IN UKRAINE. In accordance with the CFE treaty, which came into force in Ukraine on 17 July, a team of French military inspectors has arrived in Ukraine. Ukrinform-TASS reported on 21 July that the team will conduct verification inspections of installations in the Donetsk region. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry's press agency certified that the visitors were given the go-ahead to confirm Ukraine's adherence to an "open, peace-loving and good-neighborly policy" and its preparedness in practice to abide by the obligations of the CFE treaty. (Chris Hummel) RUSSIAN DEPUTIES DENY HAVING CENSORSHIP INTENTIONS. On 21 July, Russian TV broadcast a live interview with the chairmen of the two chambers of the Russian parliament, Nikolai Ryabov and Ramazan Abdulatipov. They denied that the parliament was going to introduce censorship in the Russian media, and noted that the public should evaluate the laws adopted by the parliament rather than the draft proposals that are circulated in the corridors of power. Ryabov also pointed out that the executive branch exercises undue control and censorship over Russian television and cited a memorandum, signed by acting Prime Minister Gaidar, requesting extensive coverage of Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev's activities. The much publicized controversy over the recent attempt by the parliament to take over Izvestiya was not raised in the course of the interview. (Julia Wishnevsky) CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RESUMES HEARINGS ON CPSU. After a one-week recess to review evidence presented on the ban of the Communist Party (CPSU), the Russian Constitutional Court resumed its hearings on 21 July, Russian and Western agencies reported. The court heard testimony from regional Communist Party officials who denied that the Communist Party had organized or supported the August 1991 coup attempt. Gennadii Sklyar, former party chief in the town of Obninsk, denied ever having received a telegram from the CPSU Central Committee instructing him to support the coup. Another witness, Lyubov Oleinik, former member of the regional Party committee in Kurgan oblast, also testified that the Party bosses in Kurgan did not support the coup. (Carla Thorson) STANKEVICH ANNOUNCES POLICY CHANGE. Boris Yeltsin's chief political advisor, Sergei Stankevich, announced at a meeting with Russian journalists that reforms will be slowed down and the reform process will be conducted with a strong hand, "Vesti" reported on 21 July. He noted that Russia will base its reforms on its own traditions and customs, suggesting that Russia will no longer follow a strictly Western-oriented reform course. He said that Russia has to become a great power again and this idea should unite people behind the course of reform. He noted that the Russian state should look to its inner strengths and concentrate all the country's energy on a future economic and cultural breakthrough. (Alexander Rahr) GAIDAR ASSUMING 1100 TO 1600 PERCENT INFLATION IN 1992? Gaidar's speech to the Russian parliament on 16 July gives a figure for expected current-price GNP this year of 15 trillion rubles. What this implies about the government's expected inflation rate for 1992 over 1991 depends on which Russian government agency's figures it is based on. The Economics Ministry says current-price GNP last year was 1.42 trillion rubles, and expects a real decline this year of 11.6%; the State Statistics Committee has been betting on 1.04 trillion rubles and 15.8%, respectively. The former implies an 1100% increase in the general price level (GNP deflator), but Goskomstat's numbers would make the increase in price level about 1600%. (Philip Hanson) RUTSKOI FORECASTS GRIM FUTURE FOR AGRICULTURE. Vice-president Aleksandr Rutskoi predicted that agricultural production would fall 27% and require no fewer than six years to recover, Trud reported on 21 July. Rutskoi also warned of state procurement deteriorating into confiscation if farms did not voluntarily sell their grain. His comments, which were made at a meeting with trade union leaders from agro-industrial enterprises, appeared just after the government released a disappointing estimate for the 1992 grain harvest. The estimate96 million tonswas less than projections made earlier in the year. (Erik Whitlock) LOSSES FROM RUSSIAN OIL EXPORTS. An official of Soyuznefteksport told Interfax on 21 July that Russia loses about $1 billion a year on its oil exports. He attributed this to the removal of tight state control on oil exports, the lack of experience among oil traders, and speculation. This latter factor was confirmed by a Gaidar consultant in London, who lamented: "they bought for rubles and sold for hard cash on the world market." The Soyuznefteksport representative recommended that oil firms receive a greater share of hard currency profits, the reduction of export duties, and the introduction of world prices within the CIS. Interfax reported that Russia plans to export 60 million tons of oil in 1992. (Keith Bush) RUBLE DROPS 10% AGAINST THE DOLLAR. The ruble-for-dollar exchange rate jumped to 151.1 on 21 July, Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported. The rate, established by auction at the Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange, had been 135.4 rubles to the dollar previously. The recent appointment of Viktor Gerashchenko as head of the Central Bank is blamed for the ruble dive. Gerashchenko has suggested that the Central Bank has been too active in supporting the ruble in the past. (Erik Whitlock) COPING WITH THE CASH CRISIS. The shortage of cash to pay wages has become so acute in the Central Russian city Voronezh that firms are reduced to paying their workers with television sets, Russian TV reported on 16 July. On 6 July, Russian TV reported that in Russia's third largest city, Nizhnii Novgorod (formerly Gorkii), auto workers had only that day received their wages for April. (Elizabeth Teague) INTERENTERPRISE DEBTS STILL MOUNTING. Deputy Chairman of the Russian Parliament Yurii Voronin told Interfax on 21 July that interenterprise debts in the Russian economy now total 3 trillion rubles. This appears to indicate a considerable increase in outstanding debts since the beginning of the month. Yet, the presidential decree of 1 July ordered the freezing of such debts as of that date and the introduction of new payments system. It was then expected that old debts would be netted out to discover which enterprises were net debtors. Just what was to be done with them has yet to be decided. (Keith Bush) MILITARY INDUSTRY BROKERAGE OPENS. In its July 1992 issue (no. 27), Ekonomika i zhizn reported the 1 July opening of the Military-Industrial Bureau (VPB) in the city of Kaliningrad. VPB trades goods from the specialized instruments and materials, electronics, chemical, metallurgical and construction industries for in-demand consumer goods. VPB also offers around-the-clock access to information resources and trading partners. VPB joins the ranks of a growing number of military-industrial exchanges, such as "Konversiya," "ESTRA," and others. (Brenda Horrigan) RUSSIAN BRAIN DRAIN. Some 100 scientists are leaving Russia to work in Mexico because of higher wages, AFP reported on 21 July. While Russia is beginning to export labor, it is concerned with a possible brain drain, and has taken steps to avoid this. For example, the Russian government launched a program to regulate intellectual migration (ITAR-TASS, 18 February). The program called for a law on scientific and intellectual property rights, simplification of the process for scientists returning from abroad, and the introduction of dual citizenship rights. On the international front, ITAR-TASS of 19 July reported that the European Community intends to allocate DM 8 million to help preserve the scientific and technical potential of CIS countries. The United States has already promised $25 million for establishing an international center in Moscow where former nuclear scientists could work. (Sarah Helmstadter) RUSSIAN EFFORTS TO PROTECT INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS. ITAR-TASS of 21 July reported that the Russian Agency on Intellectual Property Rights (RAIS) will represent the country at the Worldwide Convention on Authors' Rights. ITAR-TASS noted that never before in Russian history had there been a court case on the illegal use of an author's work. RAIS will strengthen oversight of the use of authors' works, and is declaring a war against video and audio pirating. (Sarah Helmstadter) KYRGYZ NATIONAL SECURITY DISCUSSED. Deputy Chairman of the State Committee on National Security of Kyrgyzstan Valerii Verchagin told Nezavisimaya gazeta in an interview published on 21 July, that the committee had begun to develop the main principles of Kyrgyz national security. While Kyrgyz priorities focus mainly on relations with major regional powers such as China, Turkey, Iran and Pakistan, the committee will also take into account the interests of the United States and Russia. The committee, based on the former republican KGB, will concern itself mainly with the prevention of terrorism, the investigation of corruption, the narcotics trade, and the defense of citizens' constitutional rights. Verchagin emphasized that it will not interfere in the activities of political parties. (Cassandra Cavanaugh) SOLZHENITSYN TO RETURN TO RUSSIA. Nataliya Solzhenitsyna told Trud on 21 July that her husband, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, will soon return to Russia but has no intention of becoming a representative for any political organization. She stated that Solzhenitsyn wants to unite, not disunite people and that after his return he will start meeting with the general public. She noted that the her husband is aware of the many hostilities which still await him in Russia, particularly from national-Bolshevik forces which charge him with helping to destroy the Soviet empire through his literature. She argued that Solzhenitsyn's political convictions fall in between liberal Westernizers and conservative Slavophiles. (Alexander Rahr) COLLECTING FINES PROVES PROFITABLE BUSINESS. Kuranty of 21 July warned "rabbits" to beware. Racketeers, posing as ticket controllers on the Moscow public transport system, are collecting fines from unsuspecting, if not wholly innocent, passengers. Police raids have shown that only half of those posing as controllers are genuine. In one day of intensive work, a "controller" can make over 2,000 rubles. Kuranty advised passengers to ask controllers for identification and official receipts for imposed fines. (Sarah Helmstadter) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UN COMMANDER IN SARAJEVO SAYS BELLIGERENTS SHELL THEMSELVES. Reuter on January 21 quoted Gen. Lewis Mackenzie as calling his Bosnian operation "the most bizarre situation I've ever seen." He noted that he had "evidence that both sides shell themselves in order to create a particular image," and added that he told the Serbs and the Muslims: "if you'll stop shelling yourselves, maybe we'll have peace around here." Mackenzie also said that both sides use Red Cross vehicles to move their weapons around and place guns near hospitals or schools. Meanwhile, EC chief negotiator Lord Carrington shared Mackenzie's "a plague-on-both-your-houses" attitude, saying: "all three sides . . . have broken the cease-fire, . . . the Muslims as much as, if not more than, anyone else." Croatian president Franjo Tudjman and his Bosnian counterpart, Alija Izetbegovic, signed a formal declaration in Zagreb, but it appears only to repeat the vague formulas about cooperation found in their earlier joint documents. Meanwhile, on 20 July Greece and Croatia established diplomatic relations, and a Greek official was on his way to Slovenia to formalize official ties there was well. (Patrick Moore) PANIC IN NEW YORK. Yugoslav Prime Minister Milan Panic visited the United Nations on 21 July, seeking an end both to the fighting in Bosnia-Herzegovina and to Yugoslavia's international isolation. In a letter delivered to Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali, Panic suggested that UN monitors be stationed at all Yugoslav military bases, thereby allowing them to determine whether Yugoslav troops are involved in the Bosnian fighting. Panic repeated his previous claim that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic will not be permitted to stand in the way of Panic's efforts to bring peace to the region, which Panic has described as his first priority. The UN and other international organizations have demanded an end to alleged Yugoslav involvement in Bosnia as a precondition to the lifting of economic sanctions against that country. International media carried the reports. (Gordon Bardos) GERMAN DAILY SAYS ROMANIA, GREECE VIOLATE EMBARGO. The Sueddeutsche Zeitung writes on 21 July the two countries are breaching the UN embargo against rump Yugoslavia by supplying it with oil. The paper says Greece is also buying electricity from Bosnia-Herzegovina and paying Serbia a fee because the power lines stretch across Serbian territory. According to the daily, the German intelligence agency has a "range of information" that the two countries are circumventing the sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro. The paper says Romania is allowing Russian oil to be transported across the Danube to Serbia. Romania has repeatedly denied such allegations. (Michael Shafir). AVEL CONCERNED ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS IN SLOVAKIA. In an interview published in the Czech weekly Respekt on 19 July, and reprinted in the German daily Frankfurter Rundschau on 20 July, former Czechoslovak president Vaclav Havel said that he is concerned about the future of human rights in an independent Slovakia. Havel said he was concerned because the Slovak National Council refused to include a statement on minority rights in the declaration of sovereignty. Havel described this as "a serious political signal." He said that until now the new Slovak government has not taken steps which would threaten minority rights. Should that happen, "I would protest," said Havel. (Jiri Pehe) SLOVAK COMMUNISTS WANT DUBCEK AS SLOVAKIA'S PRESIDENT. The Party of the Democratic Left (formerly the Slovak Communist Party) plans to nominate Alexander Dubcek, formerly the chairman of the Federal Assembly and the leader of the Prague Spring in 1968, for the post of Slovak president when the position is created next month. In an interview with CSTK on 21 July, Pavol Kanis, the deputy chairman of the party, argued that Dubcek is the only Slovak politician known to the world. Dubcek said that it is premature to react to the proposal. (Jiri Pehe) SLOVAKS, HUNGARIANS IN FLAP OVER TROOP RUMORS. Czechoslovak Defense Minister Imrich Andrejcak, who was nominated for the post by Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia, questioned on 21 July recent statements by Meciar that Hungary is conducting large-scale military exercises on Slovakia's border. CSTK reports Andrejcak as saying that the Czechoslovak and the Hungarian armies have close contacts and that they keep each other informed about their military moves. Andrejcak said that the information on which Meciar based his statements is exaggerated. MTI reports that the Hungarian Defense Ministry has denied Meciar's allegations. Defense Ministry state secretary Antal Annus said that there are no large-scale exercises in progress or planned near the Slovak border, and warned that Meciar's "absurd assertion" could damage bilateral relations. (Jiri Pehe & Edith Oltay) HUNGARY'S NATIONAL MINORITIES IN PARLIAMENT. The Hungarian government will soon submit to parliament draft legislation ensuring parliamentary representation by 1994 for the country's national and ethnic minorities, MTI reported on 17 July. According to Janos Wolfart, chairman of the National and Ethnic Minorities Office, this will be done through "positive discrimination," i.e. instituting preferential conditions to enable each minority to elect deputies. At general elections, minorities will gain seats by running in individual districts, on territorial and national lists, and on a minority national list. If passed, the measure will increase by 13 the present number (386) of deputies to provide parliamentary seats for Hungary's Gypsy, German, Slovak, Serb, Croat, Slovene, Romanian, Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Ruthenian, Greek, Armenian, and Polish minorities. (Alfred Reisch) INTERVIEW WITH ETHNIC ROMANIAN LEADER. Gyorgy Petrusan, chairman of the Association of Romanians in Hungary, told the daily Magyar Hirlap on 21 July that the 25,000-strong Romanian minority today is served by 13 elementary schools, one secondary school, and four teachers' collegesabout the same number as in 1989. Petrusan noted an improvement in the field of culture and religion, and came out in favor of bilingual instruction for Hungary's Romanian minority. Turning to the problems faced by Hungarians in Romania, Petrusan condemned the prohibition on the teaching of geography and history in Hungarian in Romania's Hungarian schools and charged that educational policies are still directed by apparatchiks surviving from the Ceausescu regime. The current anti-Hungarian campaign, Petrusan said, is the "last revenge" of the servants of that regime. (Alfred Reisch) ROSEN: SECURITATE BEHIND ANTI-SEMITISM. The chief rabbi of the Jewish community in Romania, Moses Rosen, says that there is no anti-Semitism among the Romanian people as such; the latest wave of anti-Semitism is an "artificial" productthe result of manipulations by the former secret police. Rosen made the statement in an interview with Baricada, parts of which were carried by Rompres on 21 July. (Michael Shafir) ABISALA IS LITHUANIAN PRIME MINISTER. On 21 July the Lithuanian Supreme Council by a vote to 67 to 5 with 22 abstentions elected former minister without portfolio Aleksandras Abisala as prime minister replacing Gediminas Vagnorius, who was removed in a no-confidence vote on 14 July, Radio Lithuania reports. Abisala said that he would present his cabinet, with only 4 or 5 new members, to the parliament's factions today and to the full parliament for approval at its next session on 23 July. He expressed the hope that Lithuania will be able to introduce its own currency, the litas, before the elections to the new parliament on 25 October. (Saulius Girnius) LITHUANIAN-RUSSIAN TREATY SIGNED. On 21 July in Vilnius Russian Justice Minister Nikolai Fedorov and his Lithuanian counterpart Vytautas Pakalniskis signed an interstate treaty, On Legal Assistance and Legal Relations in Civil, Family, and Criminal Cases, Radio Lithuania reports. (Saulius Girnius) ESTONIA PROPOSES 1920 BORDERS. In a surprise move, the Estonian government issued a statement on 21 July, reported by BNS, calling on Russia to pull its border guards back to the frontier set in the 1920 Tartu Peace Treaty. By the terms of the proposal, prepared by the Estonian government working group on border questions and issued by the Foreign Ministry, Russian border authorities would take up guard at the interwar frontier, which in the northeast and southeast runs a few kilometers to the east of the present frontieri.e., in what is currently Russian territorywhile Estonian border guards would remain on the current border. The move is the first formal indication that Estonia may seek the return of territory annexed after World War II by the RSFSR. Although the Estonian government proposal is probably only intended as a bargaining chip in upcoming negotiations with Russia, given the current heightened tension in Estonian-Russian relations, the move will undoubtedly be seen by Russia as throwing oil on the fire. (Riina Kionka) POLISH GOVERNMENT UNYIELDING ON STRIKES. Striking workers at the Polska Miedz copper combine threatened on 21 July to shut down copper mill furnaces to force management to agree to wage demands. Meanwhile, 1,600 coal miners dumped sacks of coal in front of the industry ministry. The miners demand job security and an end to the recession. The picket line was organized by the former official miners' unions, which are more radical in their methods than Solidarity. The Mielec airplane factory is also on strike. In a statement issued on 21 July, the government restated its willingness to negotiate general restructuring plans with all trade unions "operating within the law." But it warned that one branch would not be allowed to gain privileges at the cost of others. "Exceptions will not be coerced through strikes." Disassociating itself from wage negotiations, the government warned it would sack directors who granted raises their firms could not afford. (Louisa Vinton) UDF-PODKREPA TENSION CONTINUES. The ruling UDF coalition and the Podkrepa trade unionpreviously close alliesremain in sharp conflict following last week's strike among Sofia's transport workers. An article in the UDF daily Demokratsiya on 20-21 July alleges that Podkrepa leader Konstantin Trenchev had ties to the former communist nomenklatura. Then the daily Podkrepa on 21 July printed a statement of the trade union's confederate council attacking the government's economic policy as well as accusing the UDF leadership of media manipulation. The CITUB trade union declared that it agrees with Podkrepa's analysis. (Kjell Engelbrekt) BULGARIAN FARMERS TO GET PREFERENTIAL CREDITS. The Bulgarian National Bank and the finance ministry will grant a total of 370 million leva in preferential credits to farmers, Demokratsiya writes on 21 July, quoting deputy agriculture minister Rumen Hristov. The credits, which will reduce interest rates by 40%, will be available for short-term use until the end of 1992. According to Hristov, 200 million leva are predestined for private farmers and cooperatives, while 150 million will go to pig and poultry breeding in farms with more than 50% state involvement. The credits will be administered by the so-called commercial banks. (Kjell Engelbrekt) SMOOTH SWITCHOVER TO THE LATVIAN RUBLE. The changeover to a single legal tender in Latvia on 20 July went smoothly, according to a report of an RFE/RL correspondent in Riga. There were only minor problems, such as an inadequate supply of smaller-denomination Latvian-ruble bills in some shops. Businesses expecting payment in hard currency were inconvenienced by the Supreme Council decision regarding the Latvian ruble, because they now are required to price their goods and accept payment also in the Latvian ruble. Several such establishments, still preferring hard currency, posted exorbitant ruble prices. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIAN INVESTMENT BANK FORMED. BNS reported on 20 July about the establishment of the Latvian Investment Bank, a joint-stock company intended to serve local and foreign businesses and investors. The new bank is affiliated with the Helsinki-based Nordic Investment Bank and will work together with the EBRD as well as the EC's PHARE program. The new investment bank has received a starting capital of 100 million rubles from funds under the jurisdiction of the Latvian government; this sum is to be paid back by 1 January 1993. (Dzintra Bungs) UNEMPLOYMENT TOPS 10% IN HUNGARY. According to the Ministry of Labor, the country's unemployment rate at the end of June stood at 10.1% compared to 9.7% a month earlier, MTI reported on 21 July. The number of unemployed rose by 24,000 in June and stood at 547,000 at the end of the month. Hungary had 406,000 unemployed at the end of 1991 and their number could reach 700,000 by the end of 1992. (Edith Oltay) NASTASE WINDS UP ASIAN TOUR. In Dushanbe on 20 July, Romanian foreign minister Adrian Nastase and Khudoberdy Khalikhanazov, his Tajik counterpart, signed an agreement to establish diplomatic relations, Radio Bucharest and Rompres report. Flying on to Ashkhabad, on 21 July Nastase and Turkmenistani foreign minister Avdy Kuliev signed a similar protocol providing for the establishment of diplomatic relations between their countries, Rompres and Radio Bucharest announced. (Michael Shafir). [As of 1200 CET]
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