|Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith. - Christopher Fry|
No. 139, 23 July 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR RUSSIAN MILITARY ADMINISTRATIVE AND PERSONNEL CHANGES. On July 22, the Russian Defense Ministry Press Center announced that the Volga-Ural Military District, joined in September of 1989, had once again been split into separate administrative units. According to ITAR-TASS, Yeltsin had also ordered a number of personnel changes. The new appointments were as follows: Col. Gen. Anatolii Sergeev, formerly commander of the Volga-Ural Military District, was named commander of the Volga Military District; Col. Gen. Yurii Grekov, a former first deputy commander of the Transcaucasus Military District, was named to head the Ural Military District; Maj. Gen. Vladimir Churanov was appointed chief of Rear Forces; Col. Gen. Leontii Kuznetsov, formerly chief of the Main Operations Directorate of the CIS General Staff, was named commander of the key Moscow Military District; Col. Gen. Leonid Mayorov was named to command the Northwestern Group of Forces (in the Baltic republics); and Col. Gen. Leonid Kovalev was officially named commander of the Northern Group of Forces (in Poland). The extent to which the personnel changes were related to Yeltsin's criticism of the high command the day before was unclear. (Stephen Foye) RENEGADE WARSHIP STIRS BLACK SEA FLEET DISPUTE. The small warship from the Black Sea Fleet that was spirited to Odessa on 21 July flying the Ukrainian flag is creating large waves in the long-standing dispute over the future of the fleet. Western agencies on 22 July quoted Admiral Igor Kasatonovthe CIS commander of the fleet who was attending a meeting in Moscow when the incident occurredas saying he would have never allowed the ship to escape. He accused Ukraine of "snatching warships out of the fleet." The officer appointed to head the Ukrainian Navy, Rear Admiral Boris Kozhin, said that the crew had taken their "extreme unilateral actions" because they were being oppressed and humiliated. Meanwhile, the small ship itself has been nicknamed "Potemkin No. 2" after the Tsarist battleship that docked in Odessa in 1905 after being seized by revolutionaries. (Doug Clarke) RUSSIA WANTS MILITARY COOPERATION WITH ASEAN. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev said on 22 July that his country was prepared to develop military cooperation with Southeast Asian countries to maintain a balance of power in the region. He made the offer during a meeting in Manila with the six foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Kozyrev said that Russia was "prepared to develop cooperation in the military and military-technological area with the ASEAN states with the aim of maintaining their security at the level of reasonable sufficiency," Western agencies reported. He assured the ASEAN ministers from Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand that Russia was "ready to follow the rules of the game." (Doug Clarke) RUSSIAN GENERALS STILL BUILDING DACHAS? Andrei Gontar, deputy chairman of the Independent Union of Military Servicemen, told "Vesti" on 22 July that despite the fact that some 600,000 servicemen currently lack adequate housing, Russian generals continue to build private dachas. His charge that "Top Brass privatization" goes on as before comes, perhaps not coincidentally, only a day after a stinging attack by Boris Yeltsin on corruption within the Russian high command. (Stephen Foye) YELTSIN RETREATS FROM REFERENDUM IDEA. Russian President Boris Yeltsin seems to have retreated from the idea of conducting a referendum in order to change the existing political system in Russia. Interfax on 22 July quoted him as saying that Russia cannot solve its political structure problems quickly since society is "too pressed now with all manner of difficulties, to be saddled also with creating a new political structure." He stated, however, that the problem of new political structures is becoming more and more urgent. He expressed his desire to try to achieve some kind of cooperation between the executive and legislative branches. He also criticized attempts by regional soviets to stifle executive power on the local level. (Alexander Rahr) BURBULIS ON REFORM. Gennadii Burbulis, the Russian state secretary, told Ekho Moskvy on 21 July that recent changes in the government were necessary in order to create a balance between various political forces. He deplored the fact that the majority of the Russian population have not yet shown initiative and wait for reform to be carried out from above, while, at the same time, criticizing the reemergence of old Communist thinking in Yeltsin's entourage. He stated that he intends to continue to play the role of chief reform strategist and to act as head of an intellectual brain trust for Yeltsin, despite attacks against him from all sides. (Alexander Rahr) FURTHER SPLITS WITHIN DEMOCRATIC RUSSIA PREDICTED. On 22 July, Interfax quoted the chairman of the Novosibirsk branch of the Democratic Russia movement, Aleksei Manannikov, as saying that "the central leadership of Democratic Russia (Gleb Yakunin, Ilya Zaslavsky and Lev Ponomarev) seeks to turn the movement into a presidential party," which Yeltsin might try to use as a power base for the establishment of "unlimited dictatorship." Manannikov criticized the unquestioning support offered to Yeltsin by the movement's leadership and said that, instead the movement should develop into a "constructive opposition" to the Russian government and president. Unless the Democratic Russia changes its position, he warned, the movement may split into two different political organizations (pro-government and oppositionist) at its extraordinary congress scheduled to be held on 25-26 July. (Vera Tolz) PRESS MINISTER REFUSES TO REREGISTER IZVESTIYA. In a press conference, Russian Minister for Press and Information Mikhail Poltoranin said that he will not reregister Izvestiya as the official newspaper of the Russian parliament, as decided by a controversial resolution passed July 17. "The measure will not be fulfilled because it is illegal," Poltoranin remarked, and went on to say that as soon as he is formally given the order to reregister the daily, his office will bring the matter before the Constitutional Court. Poltoranin further commented that the conflict between the parliament and the media came to a head because there are many incompetent people in the parliament who react extremely negatively to the existence of an independent press. (Kathryn Brown) MEDVEDEV TESTIFIES ON BEHALF OF CPSU. Prominent Russian historian and Communist Party supporter, Roy Medvedev, testified on behalf of the banned CPSU at the Constitutional Court hearings on 22 July, Russian and Western agencies reported. Addressing the question of the CPSU's activities since March 1990 when its guaranteed monopoly on power was removed from the USSR Constitution, Medvedev argued that "Party was transforming itself with difficulty, painfully. Psychologically it was a very difficult process for many Party leaders." He noted, however, that the process had begun and was interrupted by Yeltsin's ban. Medvedev is one of many witnesses expected to be called over the next week in support of the Communist Party. (Carla Thorson) CHISINAU RUSSIANS APPEAL TO YELTSIN. The Russian and "Russian-speaking" deputies to Chisinau's City Council (who make up 50% of the Council's membership) addressed a message to Yeltsin asking him "to protect us not against [Moldovan president] Snegur, for whom our people voted overwhelmingly and who does not divide people by nationality, but against ["Dniester republic" president] Smirnov who has cut off gas and electricity supplies to the right bank." Pointing out that three quarters of Moldova's Russians live on the right bank, and that more Russians live in Chisinau alone than on the left bank, the deputies assured Yeltsin that the rights of Russians are being respected and that "all Moldovans gladly speak Russian." (Vladimir Socor) TRANSCARPATHIANS TO CHOOSE NATIONALITY. The Transcarpathian Oblast Council has ruled that inhabitants of the region will be permitted to redefine their nationality if they so wish, Radio Ukraine reported on 22 July. According to the ruling, anyone wishing to change their national identification can approach the local authorities, who will then make the appropriate change in the applicant's passport. This move is in response to the long-standing demand of the Ruthenian [Rusyn] movement in the region, whose supporters do not consider themselves to be Ukrainian. The only problem with the procedure is that the proposed new passport for Ukrainian citizens does not provide for listing one's nationality. (Roman Solchanyk) YELTSIN REPLIES TO COSSACKS ON FRONTIERS. During his visit to Krasnodar krai on 22 July, Yeltsin told local Cossacks who expressed concern about Russia's frontiers that the question of the frontier with Georgia, the one of most concern locally, had yet to be decided, ITAR-TASS reported. He said that about 20 mobile units had already started to form the frontiers with the Baltic states, and the establishing of a frontier with Azerbaijan would come next. The frontier with Ukraine would be only a customs border for the time being because of the large Russian population in Ukraine. Vechernyaya Moskva reported on 22 July that taxi drivers in Sochi has demanded the closure of the frontier with Georgia after a driver had been killed by two bandits from Georgia. (Ann Sheehy) GROWING FRICTION BETWEEN CHECHEN PRESIDENT AND PARLIAMENT. Three deputies of the Chechen parliament led by Yusup Soslambekov, the chairman of the committee for foreign affairs, issued an ultimatum to Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev on Chechen TV on 22 July calling on him to restore order in the republic within ten days, ITAR-TASS reported. Soslambekov said that the economy was in the hands of "mafia structures" and that, if Dudaev was unable to get rid of the good-for-nothings around him, "the Chechen people are capable of chucking out any dictator who is unwilling to take account of their interests." The parliament had earlier protested appointments made by Dudaev against its wishes, and there have been many other indications of growing dissatisfaction with Dudaev. (Ann Sheehy) SECOND AZERBAIJANI JET SHOT DOWN. An Su-25 Azerbaijani attack plane was shot down by an Armenian missile over Nagorno-Karabakh on 22 July according to Interfax and ITAR-TASS. They quoted the Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh self- defense staff as saying the plane had just completed a bombing raid. The agencies reported that the bomber was the second Azerbaijani aircraft shot down this week. Azerbaijan acquired its first Su-25 (a close-support jet used extensively by the Soviet Union in Afghanistan) in April of this year when an Azerbaijani pilot in the CIS forces landed his plane at an airbase which was in the hands of Azerbaijani militants. (Doug Clarke) PRIMAKOV, LEBED, YAZOV IMPLICATED IN 1990 BAKU ATTACK. An Azerbaijani parliamentary commission, tasked with investigating the killing of hundreds of innocent civilians in Baku in January of 1990, handed over the results of its investigation on 22 July to the republic's procuracy, "Vesti" reported. The commission members charged that the order to open fire had come from then Defense Minister Dmitrii Yazov, currently in jail for his role in the August 1991 coup attempt; that the main executor of Yazov's order on the ground in Baku was General Aleksandr Lebed, the current commander of the 14th Army in Moldova who has been instrumental in provoking tensions there; and that the main organizer of the operation in Baku as a whole was Evgenii Primakov, currently the head of the Russian foreign intelligence service. (Stephen Foye) NEW LANGUAGE LAW DEBATED IN TAJIKISTAN. A draft of a new law on language, prepared by experts of the official Tajik (Farsi) Language Fund, has appeared in the press in Tajikistan for public discussion, Khovar-TASS reported on 22 July. The Fund was created in 1989 to advance the use of the Tajik language in public life; the Fund, and many Tajik intellectuals, apply the term Farsi to their own language to stress linguistic and cultural ties with the Persian-speaking world. The new law would require that government and service employees be competent in Tajik, and that government business in Dushanbe be conducted in that language. A 1989 law declaring Tajik the state language was subsequently watered down to meet the objections of non-Tajiks. The Fund's draft appears to be a stricter version of the 1989 law; it apparently does not give Russian a special status. (Bess Brown) CIS PEACEKEEPING FORCE SOUGHT FOR TAJIKISTAN. Officials of Tajikistan's Kurgan-Tyube Oblast have demanded that President Rakhmon Nabiev declare a state of emergency in the oblast and requested that a CIS peacekeeping force be sent to the region to stop fighting motivated by political, religious and inter-clan disputes, ITAR-TASS reported on 22 July. The fighting in Kurgan-Tyube has claimed dozens of victims and has resulted in more than 150,000 refugees. According to the report, most of the members of the Presidium of Tajikistan's Supreme Soviet support the Kurgan-Tyube request, but the opposition and higher Muslim clergy have objected. The reasons for their reservations were not given, but they could be motivated by unease over potential interference by CIS military units in internal Tajik affairs. (Bess Brown) BIRLIK LEADERS COME TO TRIAL. Leaders of the "Birlik" party in Uzbekistan are being put on trial for "forcibly resisting law-enforcement officers," Russian TV reported on 23 July. The report erroneously called "Birlik" a Pan-Turkic organization, but did not give the names of the defendants or the city where the trial is being held. Most likely, the arrests were in connection with the 2 July demonstration organized by "Birlik" and an allied group "Erk" in Tashkent to protest the opening of the Uzbek Supreme Soviet session, and to demand new, genuinely democratic elections. Russian TV has reported the arrest of over twenty Birlik activists in the past two months. (Cassandra Cavanaugh) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE KLAUS AND MECIAR REACH AGREEMENT. The Czech and Slovak prime ministers, Vaclav Klaus and Vladimir Meciar, met in Bratislava in the night 22-23 July to discuss the future of the Czechoslovak federation. According to CSTK, they agreed to propose to the Federal Assembly a law entitled "On the End of the Federation." Should the federal parliament fail to approve the legislation, there would be other ways to dissolve Czechoslovakia, the two leaders said. One of them would be an agreement between the two national councils. Another would be a declaration of the Federal Assembly stating that it ceases to exist. Unlike a constitutional law, the declaration would only require a simple majority in the parliament. They added that the federal parliament should ideally pass the law on 30 September or 31 December of this year. Klaus and Meciar also agreed to split up the Federal Security and Information Agency, and proposed to privatize state radio, television, and the press agency CSTK. (Jan Obrman) KLAUS ON CZECH INDEPENDENCE. According to various agency reports, Vaclav Klaus said on 22 July, before the meeting with Meciar, that his government is determined to pave the way for Czech independence. Klaus made the remarks after a meeting of his cabinet at which the Czech draft constitution was discussed. Klaus said that the government "considers it entirely legitimate to prepare all necessary institutions able to provide for the future independent functioning of the Czech Republic." (Jan Obrman) BOSNIA UPDATE. Fighting continued around Sarajevo's airport on 22 July, prompting the commander of UN peace-keeping forces in Sarajevo, Maj. Gen. Lewis Mackenzie to warn that "the thread is very thin that is holding this thing together." Meanwhile, Bavarian Radio reported on 23 July that the mayor of Gorazde has said the town will fall within two days. Gorazde has been besieged by Serbian forces for three months, and is the last major Muslim stronghold in eastern Bosnia. Fighting was also reported in the central Bosnian town of Travnik. The widespread fighting appears to have shattered any hopes that the ceasefire that was to take effect on 19 July might hold. (Gordon Bardos) BELGRADE PRESS REVIEWS ALEXANDER'S VISIT. Crown Prince Alexander Karadjordjevic, the pretender to the Serbian and Yugoslav thrones, left Yugoslavia on 18 July after a twenty-day visit. Although the Serbian government shunned any official contacts with Alexander, he did receive a generally positive reception in the many cities and towns he visited. Alexander has emerged as a symbolic figurehead for the Democratic Movement of Serbia (DEPOS) in its efforts to oust President Slobodan Milosevic. In Belgrade Politika on 16 July published the results of a poll of 3,100 citizens in eight cities throughout Serbia taken before Alexander's visit, which show that 44.57% favor a return of the monarchy, while 26.24% said they are in favor of a republic. Alexander is due to take up permanent residence in Yugoslavia sometime in August. (Gordon Bardos) NEW CHARGES AGAINST ZHIVKOV. On 22 July Todor Zhivkov, the 80-year-old former Bulgarian communist leader who has been on trial for embezzlement of state funds since February 1991, is now being accused of having used public money to provide Third World communist regimes and movements with military assistance and arms. Two more trials concerned with Zhivkov's responsibility for the brutal conditions in the Lovech and Skravena labor camps and the 1984-89 assimilation campaign against ethnic Turks are expected to follow, Western medi report. (Kjell Engelbrekt) BULGARIAN TURKS LEAVE. Bulgarian newspapers have lately published reports indicating that tens of thousands of ethnic Turks have emigrated to Turkey this year. On 22 July Kontinent writes that almost entire villages in the Kardzhali region have been vacated, although it also quotes local Turkish politicians as saying many might return in the fall. The secretary of the MRF Osman Oktay told Otechestven vestnik that the situation is radically different than in 1989, when 320,000 Turks left with the encouragement of the communist authorities, but he suggested that nationalist extremism, along with economic dislocation, remains an important factor. (Kjell Engelbrekt) ROMANIA DISMISSES ETHNIC HUNGARIAN PREFECTS. The prefects of Covasna and Harghita counties in Transylvania, where the Magyar population constitutes a majority, have been dismissed and replaced by ethnic Romanians by a 18 July de-cree of the Romanian government, Radio Budapest reports. The county leaders of the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania, who had unsuccessfully tried to prevent the dismissals with the support of several local Romanian parties, now plans to organize street demonstrations to protest the action. (Alfred Reisch) ESTONIAN DEPUTY SUES FOR CITIZENSHIP. A deputy to the Estonian Supreme Council has filed suit for Estonian citizenship, ETA reported on 22 July. Vladimir Lebedev, an ethnic Russian who came to Estonia as a 5-year-old, said the Estonian government is ignoring the Estonian-Russian treaty of 1991 and violating his human rights in not granting him citizenship. BNS did not say whether Lebedev, one of the most pro-Soviet political figures in Estonia, has followed procedures for naturalization. According to Estonia's citizenship law put into motion last February, all those who have lived in Estonia for two years (counting from March 1990) and can demonstrate minimal competence in the language are eligible to apply for citizenship, which will be granted after a one-year waiting period. (Riina Kionka) ACCIDENT AT IGNALINA NUCLEAR POWER PLANT. On 23 July Radio Lithuania reported that there had been an accident on 20 July in the cooling system of the first reactor of the nuclear power plant at Ignalina. As a result the radiation increased by 15 curies to a level of 95 curies per day, which was still significantly below the accepted norm of 750 curies per day. The leak was brought under control within 40 minutes, and the defect in the cooling system was fixed within the day. Both Finnish and Swedish radiation monitoring stations had not noted any increase in radiation. (Saulius Girnius) MORE STRIKES IN POLAND. The FSM auto plant in Tychy joined the rising strike wave in Poland on 22 July. Strikers there are demanding wages equal to 10% of the market price of one of the Cinquecento cars produced at their plant. Negotiations are underway with representatives of Fiat, which has purchased a 90% stake in the plant. Mill workers in the Glogow branch of the Polska Miedz copper combine moved to shut down one of their furnaces on 22 July, despite the strike committee's decision to hold off on such measures for 48 hours. The Glogow workers also began an "occupation strike" on 23 July. A one-hour strike has been called for 23 July at the Katowice steel mill. Workers at the Mielec airplane factory (once a center for military production) continue their strike, despite the opening of talks in Warsaw. (Louisa Vinton) POLISH GOVERNMENT TO RESTRUCTURE MINING. During negotiations with the five coal miners' unions on 22 July, the government side emphasized that there would be no return to the provision of state subsidies for mining. Instead, the government pledged to draw up a list of eighteen unprofitable mines destined for liquidation by 17 August, and prepare a comprehensive restructuring and financing plan for the remaining mines by 30 September. A World Bank representative who took part in the talks pledged $200 million in low-interest loans for mine restructuring and said that an additional $200 million was available for retraining the unemployed, which could include miners. (Louisa Vinton) SOLIDARITY THREATENS GENERAL STRIKE. Meeting in Gdansk on 22 July, Solidarity's National Commission announced it would organize a "national protest action," extending even to a general strike, should the government fail to provide solutions for basic economic problems by 31 July. The union demanded "antirecessionary" measures, such as debt relief and easier credit for state firms, elimination of wage controls, wage guarantees, and the public supervision of privatization. Solidarity warned that "postcommunist forces" would manipulate public dissatisfaction "for their own ends," should the government fail to react. Some Solidarity leaders criticized the union's Sejm deputies for brokering the coalition agreement that produced the new government. (Louisa Vinton) CZECHOSLOVAK GOVERNMENT APPROVES CONVERSION FUNDS. According to Czechoslovak TV, the Federal Government agreed on 22 July to allocate about one billion koruny for converting the arms industry to nonmilitary production. The report said that the cabinet instructed economics minister Jaroslav Kubecka and finance minister Jan Klak to issue instructions for the use of funds by the end of the month. (Jan Obrman) HUNGARIAN FOREIGN TRADE. According to Bela Kadar, minister of international economic relations, Hungary's exports in the first half of 1992 rose by 16.5% compared to the same period of last year, while imports dropped by 6%, MTI reports. Exports reached a value of $5.1 billion, and the adjusted foreign trade turnover showed a surplus of $133 million. Some 70% of Hungarian exports went to developed countries, over 5% to developing countries, and nearly 25% to former socialist countries. Kadar said $800 million worth of foreign capital entered Hungary in the first half of 1992, bringing the total to more than $4 billion, and over 2,000 new joint ventures had been set up, for a total of some 13,000. (Alfred Reisch) ROMANIAN FOREIGN DEBT, INVESTMENT. Romania's foreign public debt at present is $3.2 billion. In the last six months the debt has grown by $916.1 million. The country is negotiating credits worth a total of $2.9 billion and debt servicing for 1992 will amount to $133 million. The figures were provided by George Danielescu, minister of economy and finance on 22 July and reported by Radio Bucharest. According to figures provided by the Romanian Development Agency and cited by Romanian TV on 21 July, some 87% of foreign investments in Romania in the first half of 1992 came from EC countries. This compares with only 5% in the same period last year. (Michael Shafir) LATVIAN-RUSSIAN ECONOMIC ACCORD. On 22 July in Moscow Latvian prime minister Ivars Godmanis and Russian acting prime minister Egor Gaidar signed an agreement to cooperate on financial matters, notably since Latvia has abandoned the Russian ruble. The two described their meeting as useful and indicated that they also discussed facilitating trade and establishing mutual accounting procedures, Radio Riga and ITAR-TASS report. (Dzintra Bungs) "PACKAGE DEAL" ON TROOP WITHDRAWAL. While in Moscow Godmanis discussed with Russian leaders ways to speed up ex-USSR troop withdrawal from the Baltic States. Gaidar said that the pullout process could be made speedier and linked again the pullout to the construction of housing for officers. Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Vitalii Churkin said the pullout could be hastened if a "so-called package solution to a number of problems" were accepted, and explained: "We have to define the status of the Russian troops on the territory of . . . the Baltic States and reach an agreement on preserving some of Russia's strategic installations [in . . .] these countries for longer periods of time, along with the solution of the Russians servicemen's social constraints," ITAR-TASS reports. (Dzintra Bungs) MORE ON RUSSIAN-ESTONIAN BORDER. Russia began patrolling the Russian side of the border with Estonia on 22 July, according to BNS, quoting Russian president Boris Yeltsin. Twenty mobile troops began guarding the frontier in an action Yeltsin said was intended both to stop the outflow of goods and to establish the border in political terms. Meanwhile, BNS reports that starting 1 August, Russian border troops will no longer guard Estonia's northern and western borders. Andrus Oovel, director-general of the Border Defense Department, told BNS on 21 July that this will mean that Estonians control the entire border. (Riina Kionka) UKRAINIAN SOLDIERS FLEE TO KLAIPEDA. Seven Ukrainian soldiers serving in the CIS army fled to Klaipeda by train and sought refuge at the Klaipeda Ukrainian Association, Radio Lithuania reports on 23 July. The soldiers said that they had been transferred from Sevastopol to Liepaja for training. There officers threatened them and tried to force them to take an oath of allegiance to the CIS. Wanting to remain faithful to Ukraine and to serve in its army, they decided to desert from the foreign CIS army. (Saulius Girnius) DALAI LAMA IN HUNGARY. Tibet's exiled religious leader arrived in Budapest on 20 July for a private visit, Hungarian media report. On 21 July the Nobel Peace Prize winner visited the headquarters of the Hungarian Democratic Forum, Hungary's largest governing party. Speaking at the Budapest sport stadium, the Dalai Lama called for compassion and understanding between human beings. On the 22nd, in the presence of Hungarian Church leaders, he inaugurated a Buddhist shrine dedicated to the memory of Sandor Korosi Csoma, a Hungarian Asian scholar. The Dalai Lama was also scheduled to meet President Goncz and the Catholic Primate Laszlo Cardinal Paskai. (Edith Oltay) [As of 1200 CET]
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