|When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain|
No. 140, 24 July 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR BLACK SEA FLEET UPDATE. Ukrinform-TASS reported on 23 July that talks between Russian and Ukrainian delegations on the latest squabble over the Black Sea Fleet had produced several agreements, including one on the creation of a parliamentary commission to supervise observance of the Dagomys agreement and another on cooperation between the Russian and Ukrainian commanders of the fleet, to be aimed at avoiding future incidents. The accords, which came in response to the recent unsanctioned flight of an escort ship to Odessa, nevertheless appeared merely to paper over differences between the two sides. On 23 July, Ukrainian Defense Minister Konstantyn Morozov said that Kiev insisted on complete control of those naval bases located in Ukraine and charged that CIS naval forces had tried to damage the renegade ship, AFP and Reuters reported. Ukrainian military spokesmen, who at first condemned the actions of the rebellious crew, have now begun to justify them. (Stephen Foye) LEBED HAILED ON THE DNIESTER. The new commander of Russia's 14th Army, Maj. Gen. Aleksandr Lebed, a highly controversial figure because of his threats against Moldova and criticisms of Yeltsin, has become "the number one man in the Dniester region," his political statements having "propelled him to the pinnacle of authoritarian power" there, Izvestiya reported from Tiraspol on 20 July. Krasnaya zvezda reported on 22 July that officers' assemblies in 14th Army units have unanimously come out in defense of Lebed. The military daily also reported that Lebed has been linked to Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev ever since Lebed commanded a platoon in a company commanded by Grachev. (Vladimir Socor) YELTSIN PUSHES HOUSING FOR OFFICERS. CIS press agencies reported on 23 July that Boris Yeltsin signed a decree during his 21 July meeting with military commanders and local officials that specified a large allocation of state funds for the construction of military housing. Yeltsin also reportedly lambasted local government officials for violating his decree of 19 February that called for local authorities to provide housing for military personnel, and warned the local leaders that their actions risked setting off a "social explosion." His warning echoed complaints that military leaders have long leveled against regional leaders, and balanced the criticism that Yeltsin had meted out to military leaders for alleged abuses of office. (Stephen Foye) KOKOSHIN ON THE FUTURE OF THE DEFENSE INDUSTRY. In an interview with Krasnaya zvezda on 22 July, First Deputy Defense Minister Andrei Kokoshin claimed that weapons production in Russia had already dropped 50-60% (in some cases as much as 90%). He stressed the need to preserve Russia's scientific-technical potential, determine the new defense production needs of the state, and move to a contract-based procurement system. He also suggested that defense enterprises should diversify more, producing both military and civilian goods, and that some unification of the numerous models and types of existing military technologies "is simply required." Finally, he noted that while complete independence among CIS defense firms was possible, it was "not profitable." (Chris Hummel) CONSTITUTIONAL COURT CONSIDERS CALLING GORBACHEV. The Russian Constitutional Court decided on 22 July to limit the number of witnesses to ten for each side on each of the two issues before the court (that is, 40 in total), but on 23 July, following testimony from various witnesses denying the Communist Party's involvement in the coup and alleged illegal funding activities, some members of the court demanded that Gorbachev and other prominent former Party officials be called to testify, Russian and Western agencies reported. Judges Nikolai Vedernikov and Yurii Rudkin insisted that Gorbachev be summoned in order to clarify a number of issues. Other prominent officials who may be called include former KGB Chairman Vladimir Kruchkov, former Chairman of the Council of Ministers Nikolai Ryzhkov, former Deputy Director of CPSU Central Committee Affairs Valentin Leschinski, and Central Committee secretaries, Aleksandr Yakovlev, Vadim Medvedev, and Aleksandr Dzasokhov. (Carla Thorson) ARBATOV DENOUNCES GAIDAR. The director of the USA and Canada Institute, Georgii Arbatov, has denounced acting Prime Minister Egor Gaidar at a meeting of the Scientific Council of the Chairman of the Russian Supreme Soviet, Stolitsa (No. 29) reported. Arbatov called government members "liars" and lambasted Gaidar's economic program as a path toward "wild capitalism." He noted, in particular, that under present conditions, his personal driver has a bigger salary than he does. Parliamentary Speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov emphasized that the G-7 and IMF conditions are unacceptable for Russia and that the parliament would have to adjust the economic program. He, however, stated that he wants the government to stay. (Alexander Rahr) IS TRIPARTISM DEAD IN RUSSIA? Complaining that the tripartite commission set up at the beginning of this year (on which the Russian government, unions and employers are equally represented) has not reached a single constructive decision, Russia's official trade union federation (FNPR) on 8 July formed a new alliance with Russia's largest employers' association, the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs led by Arkadii Volsky. The new alliancethe Russian Assembly of Social Partnership (RASP)calls itself an alternative to the tripartite commission; it appears to be an attempt by the industrial lobby to gang up with organized labor against the government. Remarks by FNPR Chairman Igor Klochkov, quoted by Interfax on 21 July, indicate the Gaidar government reacted negatively to the creation of the new body. Klochkov claimed that as long as the unions operated on their own, the government ignored them, but now that they are in a coalition with business, the government has to take them seriously. (Elizabeth Teague) INDUSTRIALISTS TO CONFER. Industrial managers from all over Russia will gather in Moscow on 13-15 August. Announcing the upcoming conference on 22 July, Yurii Gekht, leader of the industrialists' union faction of the Russian parliament, was quoted by Reuters and Interfax as saying the conference was being held to put pressure on the government, which had so far ignored demands that it modify its economic reforms. He said the recent infusion of credits for industry and agriculture were inadequate. (Elizabeth Teague) G-7 TO FRONT RUSSIA MONEY FOR IMF MEMBERSHIP. The big Western economies have approved a loan to help Russia pay its IMF membership dues. Citing Japanese sources, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 July that Russia has been unable to come up with the hard currency portion of its dues, amounting to nearly $940 million. These dues are necessary for IMF members to obtain credit allocations from the Fund. Russia is hoping to draw its first such allocation in August. (Erik Whitlock) RUSSIA'S HALF-YEARLY RESULTS. The Russian Goskomstat report for the first six months of 1992, as summarized by ITAR-TASS of 23 July, presents a picture of almost unrelieved gloom. Consumer prices rose by a factor of 10, industrial wholesale prices by a factor of 15, and prices on the kolkhoz markets increased six-fold. The volume of retail trade turnover dropped by 42%, gross industrial output by 13%, and investment by 46%. Progress in privatization and land reform was modest and monopolistic tendencies continued to prevail in all sectors. The positive features claimed were a certain stabilization of the economy, the prevention of total collapse, and the maintenance of the ruble as a viable means of monetary transactions. (Keith Bush) RUSSIAN LIVING STANDARDS DOWN. Also, according to the Goskomstat report, prices grew twice as fast as money incomes, and nearly half of the Russian population are now below the poverty level. In June, this level was set at 2,150 rubles per capita per month. Consumption is down by one quarter. Income differentials widened. And transfer payments to alleviate hardship were often made with considerable delays. (Keith Bush) YELTSIN ENDS VISIT TO KALMYKIA. Yeltsin left Kalmykia for Omsk on 23 July after a 24-hour visit, the first by a Russian head of state in 270 years, ITAR-TASS reported citing Russian TV. Yeltsin sympathized with the local population over the ecological catastrophe that has affected millions of hectares of once-fertile black earth in the Caspian region. He also promised to allocate $50,000 from his personal social fund to buy pedigree sheep so that the Kalmyks can restore the flocks with broad soft hooves ideally suited for the Kalmyk steppes that were lost when the Kalmyks were deported en masse in 1943. The present flocks with their hard hooves have seriously damaged the steppe. (Ann Sheehy) KALMYKIA RECEIVES CONCESSIONS. Kalmykia was promised significant financial support from the Russian government on 23 July, Interfax reports. President Yeltsin signed documents in the autonomous republic's capital which permitted Kalmykia to retain 50% of the production of its main industriesnatural resources, wool and leather. The agreements also provide for subsidies from the Russian budget for economic development projects. (Erik Whitlock) PURCHASE PRICE OF GRAIN IN RUSSIA. The price paid to farmers by the Russian government for grain is now critical. Many farmers are asking for 1500 rubles a ton (15 rubles a kilo) or more, while the government has drawn a line at 1000 rubles a ton. On his arrival in Armavir on 22 July at the beginning of the Russian president's 3-day tour around the country, Yeltsin said that farmers who hope the price of grain will rise will be disappointed. He expressed concern that the region had sold only 164,000 tons of grain to the government, although ITAR-TASS quoted government sources to the effect that the region had about 3 million tons in storage. At his news conference on the same day, Deputy Prime Minister Shumeiko confirmed that the state purchase price for grain will remain at not more than 10 rubles a kilo. (Keith Bush) RUSSIAN VAT RATES TO REMAIN UNCHANGED IN 1992? During his news conference on 22 July, Shumeiko also said that the government agrees with parliament that the rates of value added tax should be reduced but that this should take place only at the end of the budget year (i.e., at the end of calendar year 1992). On the face of it, this statement appears to run counter to parliament's decision on 17 July to cut the VAT rates and thereby lower the projected budgetary revenue for 1992 by 460 billion rubles. (Keith Bush) TAJIK DEPUTIES CALL FOR PARLIAMENT SESSION. Tajik Supreme Soviet deputies from Kulyab and Leninabad Oblasts, the two regions that have refused to recognize the coalition government of communists and oppositionists, have called for a special session of Tajikistan's Supreme Soviet to discuss the political situation in those regions of the country that are engaged in a virtual civil war. ITAR-TASS reported the demand, addressed to President Rakhmon Nabiev and the Supreme Soviet Presidium, on 23 July. The signatories claim that the new government lacks authority with most of the population. Under the agreement between Nabiev and the opposition, Tajikistan's Supreme Soviet was to have been replaced by an assembly consisting of some Supreme Soviet deputies and opposition members, but the former refused to participate. (Bess Brown) UZBEK DISSIDENTS ASK RUSSIA FOR HELP. In an interview published in Moskovskie novosti (No. 30), Utkam Bekmuhamedov, leader of the "Samarkand" movement which seeks to defend the human rights of Tajiks in Uzbekistan, compared the situation of the Uzbek opposition with that of Russian dissidents in the 1970s. He urged Russia to press for democracy in Central Asia as the West did in Russia. Though the Uzbek government has succeeded in portraying "Samarkand" as an advocate of Tajik separatism, the group favors a multiethnic democracy within current borders. Nonetheless, lingering suspicion has kept the mainly Uzbek groups "Birlik" and "Erk" from cooperating with "Samarkand," although they share the same goals, and are subject to the same persecution. (Cassandra Cavanaugh) AIR CHINA RENTS UZBEK AIRCRAFT AND CREWS. AFP, quoting the China Daily, reported on 23 July that Air China has rented two Ilyushin IL-86 airliners and 70 crew members from Uzbekistan's newly-formed national airline. The planes are to be used on the route between Beijing and Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang. The report said that the Chinese carrier lacks planes to meet scheduled increases in domestic service. Xinhua reported the arrival of the first plane rented from Uzbekistan on 20 July. The aircraft rental is one of the first indications of concrete cooperation between China and its new neighbors. (Bess Brown) LARGEST MOSQUE IN RUSSIA OPENED. The largest mosque in Russia, built in Naberezhnye Chelni in Tatarstan in honor of the 1,100 anniversary of the adoption of Islam, was opened on 22 July, RFE/RL's correspondent in Tatarstan reported. The opening of the mosque is being followed by a two-day world forum of representatives of business circles and religious figures of the Arabic and Islamic world under the slogan "Muslims and The New World OrderOur Reality and The Horizons of the Future in the Framework of Cooperation." The forum is being attended by the heads of the Muslim religious boards of CIS states, leaders of world Islamic organizations, and businessmen from 40 foreign countries. (Ann Sheehy) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE AID CONVOY REACHES GORAZDE. A UN convoy carrying relief supplies reached the outskirts of the besieged Bosnian city of Gorazde late on 23 July. The convoy will attempt to enter the city, which has been surrounded by Serb forces for three months, on 24 July. An estimated 70,000 people are trapped in the town. Only small-scale fighting was reported in Sarajevo. In London the EC's chief negotiator for the Yugoslav crisis, Lord Carrington, told the Daily Telegraph that he will not attempt to broker any more cease-fire agreements until the warring Serbs, Muslims, and Croats reach either "stalemate or exhaustion." (Gordon Bardos) BALKANSA HUMANITARIAN NIGHTMARE. The fighting in what used to be Yugoslavia has caused the greatest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II, with more than two million people forced to evacuate their homes. The New York Times on 24 July reports that UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata has scheduled an international conference in Geneva by the end of the month in an attempt to deal with the problem. UN officials fear that those who have been uprooted, mainly Muslims who have become the primary victims of a policy of "ethnic cleansing," could become permanent refugees if Serb and Croat forces that have overrun most of Bosnia-Herzegovina prevent their return. (Gordon Bardos) ONLY ONE CANDIDATE FOR CZECHOSLOVAK PRESIDENT. There is, so far, only one candidate for the upcoming third round of voting for President Havel's successor, scheduled for 30 July. Zdenek Prochazka, a member of the extreme-right Republican Party announced his candidacy on 23 July, but he is given virtually no chance to be elected by the deadlocked federal parliament. Several Federal Assembly deputies have meanwhile proposed postponing the presidential elections, claiming that the repeated, inconclusive voting harms parliament's image. (Jan Obrman) CZECHOSLOVAK ARMY "IN NO HURRY TO SPLIT." The new Czechoslovak defense minister, Maj. Gen. Imrich Andrejcak, said on 23 July that even if the country's armed forces should be split up in the future, there should still be a joint command, CSTK reported. The minister also said that if the federation splits into separate states, any break-up of the army must allow it to be restored to a unified system at any moment. He added that the army feels obligated to maintain a united command until the combat and operational readiness of any possible republican armies is ensured. (Jan Obrman) HUNGARY'S TIES WITH SLOVAKIA. In an interview in Nepszabadsag on 23 July, Hungarian State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Janos Martonyi welcomed Slovak premier Vladimir Meciar's statement that Slovakia wants good neighborly and close economic, border, and regional cooperation with Hungary. He said Hungary, too, wants to maintain regional cooperation with Czechoslovakia and Poland in the framework of the Visegrad Triangle. Martonyi declined to comment on the stand of the Magyar minority on the issue of Slovakia's sovereignty, saying only that its was its own affair. Hungary supports the minority deputies' demand for cultural and educational self-government, and has no intention whatsoever to raise border or territorial issues with Slovakia, Martonyi concluded. In a 23 July interview with Radio Budapest, Hungarian Foreign Minister Geza Jeszenszky said his country hopes the Czech-Slovak separation takes place in a "constitutional, peaceful, and orderly" fashion and that politics "free of emotions" will prevail in the region. (Alfred Reisch) HUNGARIAN PRESIDENT WRITES HAVEL. In a warm personal letter ("Dear Vaclav") Hungarian President Arpad Goncz expressed his sadness at the resignation of Czechoslovakia's president, MTI reported on 22 July. Expressing admiration for Havel's efforts in promoting democracy, Goncz wrote that Hungary finds it important to "build and cultivate the best possible relations" with Czechoslovakia, no matter what the latter's future status will be. (Alfred Reisch) HUNGARIANS IN ROMANIA PROTEST PREFECTS' DISMISSAL. Ethnic Hungarians held meetings to protest the dismissal of the prefects of the counties of Harghita and Covasna, Radio Bucharest reported on 23 July. The two prefects, themselves ethnic Hungarians, were dismissed by the government on 18 July. The nationalist Party of National Unity of Romanians, however, maintains that the dismissals were legal and accused the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania of fomenting "antinational ethnic provocations that infringe on the constitution and on the principles of a state based on the rule of law." (Michael Shafir) NEW LITHUANIAN GOVERNMENT. On 23 July the Lithuanian parliament approved the cabinet proposed by Prime Minister Aleksandras Abisala by a vote of 70 to 2 with 8 abstentions, Radio Lithuania reports. The cabinet has four new members, Deputy Prime Minister Bronislovas Lubys (replacing three former deputy prime ministers), Communications and Information Minister Gintautas Zintelis, and two ministers without portfolio, Leonas Kadziulis and Stasys Kropas. Twelve ministers of the previous Vagnorius government were retained with four more being asked to remain temporarily. Abisala will present his nominees for the four ministers at the next parliament session on 30 July. (Saulius Girnius) ELECTION DATE FOR VILNIUS AND SALCININKAI RAIONS SET. On 23 July parliament approved elections to the councils of the Vilnius and Salcininkai regions to be held on 22 November, Radio Lithuania reports. Direct administration of these regions was introduced on 12 September 1991 because the councils had been engaging in anti- constitutional activities and had supported the August putsch. Direct rule was seen as the major stumbling block to establishing better Lithuanian-Polish relations. (Saulius Girnius) SAVOV REMAINS CHAIRMAN OF BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT. On 23 July the chairman of the Bulgarian National Assembly, Stefan Savov, narrowly escaped a demand for his removal raised by the BSP, BTA reported. In yesterday's secret ballot, most deputies115 to 112voted against Savov, thus leaving the result only one vote short of the required simple majority. While Savov conceded that the outcome was unfavorable, the leaders of the UDF and MRF groups declared their continued support. The BSP has accused Savov of being overtly partisan and applying double standards in leading parliamentary sessions. (Kjell Engelbrekt) SUCHOCKA STANDS FIRM IN SENATE. Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka presented the outlines of her government's policies to the Senate on 23 July. She said that the very fact that rival political forces had managed to form a government was a "moral fact of significance" that could restore hope for improvement in Poland. Suchocka acknowledged that the government could soon exhaust the public's trust if it did not prove capable of effective action. She ruled out economic miracles, but emphasized that systematic effort could bring results. Underlining her willingness to negotiate with trade unions, she warned that the government would not yield to protest actions designed to win privileges for one group at the expense of others. (Louisa Vinton) POLITICAL ACCENTS IN POLISH STRIKES. As strikes continued in Poland, charges were raised that radical groups such as Solidarity 80 were attempting to exploit wage disputes for political ends. Never far away when trouble is to be found, the Confederation for an Independent Poland (KPN) proclaimed that the proper place for Sejm deputies is not in parliament but at the side of striking workers. KPN leader Leszek Moczulski visited striking workers at the Zofiowka mine and the Katowice steel mill on 23 July. "KPN members should take charge wherever something's going on," he said. An adviser to the prime minister criticized the KPN for lending its support to unlawful strikes, in which miners' demands were "extremely unrealistic." At the other end of the spectrum, the postcommunist Democratic Left Alliance chimed in with an endorsement of strikes as "the ultimate form of defense of workers' rights in a country that lacks a coherent industrial policy." (Louisa Vinton) SEJM CONCLUDES "AGENTS" DEBATE, ABORTION STILL TO COME. After twelve hours of acrimonious debate held to conclude a nine-hour session that was suspended on 5 July, the Sejm voted on 23 July to accept the report of the commission investigating the "agents" disclosures made by former Internal Affairs Minister Antoni Macierewicz. The vote was 184 to 110, with 19 abstentions. The commission's report was highly critical of Macierewicz and former Prime Minister Jan Olszewski, and accused them of taking actions that could have destabilized Poland's highest state institutions. The Sejm launches a debate on abortion on 24 July; this promises to be even more heated. (Louisa Vinton) POLISH IMF TALKS TO RESUME. Finance Minister Jerzy Osiatynski announced on 22 July that an IMF mission will arrive in Warsaw at the end of August to resume talks on restoring credits suspended when the 1991 budget deficit exceeded IMF limits. (Louisa Vinton) LATVIA BANS EXPORT OF NONFERROUS METALS. In reaction to illegal exports and sales of non-ferrous metals and metal scraps, the Latvian Customs Department announced that as of 21 July all previous export permits for these metals and their alloys would be canceled and a careful of check will be made of vehicles suspected of being used to transport such metals. According to Western and Baltic dispatches of 22 July, in recent months thievery of bronze statues, copper wiring, and pipes has increased sharply. One of the boldest thefts was the removal of the official name plaque of the Latvian Supreme Council. (Dzintra Bungs) ROMANIA INTRODUCES VAT. The Romanian government has issued a directive introducing an 18% value added tax beginning on 1 January 1993 to replace the current tax on goods circulation. Governmental spokeswoman Virginia Gheorghiu made the announcement on 22 July, Radio Bucharest reports. (Michael Shafir) ESTONIAN-RUSSIAN TALKS. Troop withdrawal talks ended on 23 July with an agreement to resume the negotiations that Estonia broke off last month. According to the RFE/RL Estonian Service that day, the Russian side presented a timetable by which some 6,000 troops would pull out of Estonia this year, which reportedly makes up one-quarter of the former Soviet forces stationed in Estonia. Estonian chief negotiator Uno Veering told reporters that the timetable is not acceptable to Estonia. Russian chief negotiator Vasilii Svirin told reporters that recent incidents involving Russian troops and Estonia's civil militia, the Defense Union (Kaitseliit) will have no influence on the withdrawal talks. Svirin also said Russia does not regard the Defense Union's actions as being part of official Estonian government policy toward Russia. (Riina Kionka) LITHUANIAN-RUSSIAN TALKS. On 23 July groups of experts concluded four days of talks negotiating the withdrawal of former USSR troops from Lithuania, Radio Lithuania reports. The delegation heads told a press conference that the negotiations were conducted in a friendly atmosphere and were constructive. The Lithuanians, however, noted that the Russian side was unable to give a date for the completion of the withdrawal and did not respond to the Lithuanian timetable, proposed on 30 June, for the troops to depart in four months. (Saulius Girnius) LATVIA REJECTS RUSSIAN ACCUSATIONS. Latvia's Foreign Ministry expressed concern and dismay over two documents of 17 July from the Russian Supreme Soviet accusing the Baltic States, but especially Estonia, of human rights violations and threatening the Baltics with economic and other sanctions, Diena reported on 21 July. The Latvian Foreign Ministry said that it found the documents "unacceptable" and considered them as an effort on the part of Russia to "postpone the resolution of issues related to the withdrawal of the troops under its jurisdictions from the Baltic States." Chairman of the Russian Supreme Soviet's Council of Nationalities Ramazan Abdulatipov told BNS on 22 July that the Baltic legislatures are forming "ethnocentric, not democratic states." He used the term "humiliation" to describe a situation in which applicants for citizenship are required to know the national language and the constitution of that country. He claimed that "any other country would have long since started large-scale actions [against the Baltic States], including economic blockade." (Dzintra Bungs) BULGARIAN UN DELEGATE ON SOCIAL CONDITIONS. At a session of the UN Economic and Social Council on 22 July, Bulgarian delegate Vladlen Stefanov spoke about the deteriorating social situation in his country, an RFE/RL correspondent reports. Stefanov said government efforts to improve social "safety nets" could not offset the rapid decline in living conditions resulting from falling production and cuts in public spending. Among other issues, Stefanov specifically addressed increasing unemployment, worsening dietary problems, a sharp drop in preschool enrollment, and shortages of housing and medicine. (Kjell Engelbrekt) [As of 1200 CET]
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