|There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in. - Graham Greene|
No. 141, 27 July 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR GRACHEV ON FUTURE NUCLEAR ARMS CUTS. Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, speaking at the Royal United Services Institute at the conclusion of a four-day visit to London, said that further reductions in strategic missile arsenals were possible, but that any future negotiations must include the UK, France, and China, the Financial Times reported on 25 July. Without the participation of these countries, Grachev said, "further reduction of nuclear weapons will become a destabilizing factor not only for Russia, but for the whole world." Grachev also said that any reductions beyond those already agreed to by the US and Russia earlier this year were contingent upon strict observation of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. (Stephen Foye) SHOKHIN AGAINST MINISTRY FOR CIS AFFAIRS. . . Russian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Shokhin told ITAR-TASS on 24 July that he is against the proposed creation of a separate ministry for CIS affairs, which suggests that this issue has not yet been decided. He stated that instead of creating a ministry, as parliamentary speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov proposed, the government should set up an interinstitutional commission to coordinate the activities of all organizations dealing with the CIS. The money for the suggested ministry may not be available anyway. According to Interfax on 24 July, acting Prime Minister Egor Gaidar wants to cut by 50% the foreign currency budget of the Russian Foreign Ministry. (Alexander Rahr) . . . ON RESULTS OF CENTRAL ASIAN VISIT. Upon returning from a four-day visit to Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, Shokhin told ITAR-TASS on 24 June that the goals of the visit were "practically accomplished." Negotiations focused on trade and defense agreements, as well as the Central Asian countries' intentions regarding the ruble zone. Efforts to reach a conclusive agreement on the use of the ruble apparently did not meet with much success. Shokhin said that, although the leaders of the four states agreed "in principle" to remain in the ruble zone, they reserved the right to abandon the currency if they felt that their economies were adversely affected by it. Uzbekistan did, however, announce this week that it will likely put off introducing its own currency in 1992/3, and Kazakhstan also reaffirmed its faith in the ruble, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 July. (Cassandra Cavanaugh) NEW RUSSIAN CONSTITUTION IN 1993. The new Russian Constitution will be adopted at the next Congress of People's Deputies which is now scheduled for the beginning of 1993, the secretary of the Constitutional Drafting Commission, Ivan Fedoseev announced on 24 July. The congress cannot meet earlier since the budget for the organization of congresses has been already spent for this year, ITAR-TASS reported. Russian President Boris Yeltsin will preside over the next session of the Constitutional Drafting Commission and suggest several changes to the draft constitution which had been discussed at the last congress. He is not expected to present an alternative draft but only focus on the status of presidential power. (Alexander Rahr) DEMAND FOR RESIGNATION OF DUDAEV. The Coordination Council of the Social and Political Movements of Chechnya demanded the resignation of the Chechen government and of Chechen President Dzhakhar Dudaev on 25 July, Radio Rossii reported. The council stated that if its demands were not met by 10 August, mass protest meetings against Dudaev's regime would be held. The session of the council was held on the initiative of the All-National Congress of the Chechen People, the body that put Dudaev in power a year ago. (Ann Sheehy) ABKHAZIA DECLARES SOVEREIGNTY. On 23 July, the Abkhaz Supreme Soviet suspended the autonomous republic's 1978 constitution and ruled that the constitution of 1925, under the terms of which the Abkhaz ASSR was designated a sovereign state, remain in force until a new constitution is adopted, Russian TV reported. (Abkhazia was downgraded to an ASSR within Georgia in 1930 or 1931.) Georgian State Council Chairman Eduard Shevardnadze cut short a visit to western Georgia and returned to Tbilisi to discuss the Abkhaz move. As in August 1990, when the Abkhaz parliament similarly declared independence from Georgia, the Georgian State Council ruled the Abkhaz declaration illegal and null and void on 25 July, ITAR-TASS reported. (Liz Fuller) RESETTLEMENT PROGRAM FOR DEPORTED NATIONS OF THE CRIMEA. The Crimean parliament has passed a resolution on the resettlement of Armenians, Bulgarians, Greeks, and Germans deported from Crimea during the war, Radio Ukraine reported on 23 July. The resolution calls for the resettlement of almost 70,000 people by the year 2000 and provides for guarantees for the cultural and linguistic rights of minorities. Before the war, these groups totaled more than 98,000 people in Crimea. (Roman Solchanyk) UKRAINIZATION OF KIEV. The presidential representative in the city of Kiev, Ivan Salii, has issued a directive that by 1 August all signs and announcements in the capital must be in Ukrainian, DR-Press reported on 25 July. By 1 October, all forms and rubber stamps are to be in Ukrainian. The city of Kiev, according to the 1989 census, was 72.4% Ukrainian and 20.9% Russian. (Roman Solchanyk) MOLDOVAN POPULAR FRONT ASSAILS GOVERNMENT. On 21 July, the rump Moldovan Popular Front issued an appeal, reiterating demands aired recently by the front's leadership, and signed this time by 500 volunteer soldiers. The appeal demanded Moldova's withdrawal from the CIS and more forceful military operations by Moldova in the Dniester conflict; and denounced the Moldovan-Russian agreement (signed by presidents Snegur and Yeltsin) which allows for the use of Russian troops as peacekeepers in the conflict. The appeal also denounced Andrei Sangheli's new government as "communist," and its appointment by President Mircea Snegur and the parliamentary majority as "a coup d'etat." The signatories demanded that the government be dismissed and the previous defense and national security ministers be reinstated. (Vladimir Socor) ANTI-GOVERNMENT PROTESTS IN CHISINAU. More than 100 armed Moldovan volunteer soldiers from the Dniester front arrived in Chisinau on 24 July to support protests by 10 hunger strikers and several dozen other citizensmostly from the Association of Victims of Communist Persecutionwho have been picketing the parliament since 20 July. All of these groups endorsed the demands made by the Popular Front (see above) and called for Snegur's resignation. The protest attracted several hundred demonstrators outside the parliament building on 24 and 25 July. The protesting soldiers encamped outside the parliament and government buildings with their arms. They were led by a prominent Popular Front activist who had just returned from Romania where he had been campaigning for unification. Front leaders and unification advocates, Mircea Druc and Iurie Rosca, also just returned from Romania. (Vladimir Socor) MOLDOVAN LEADERSHIP REACTS. Addressing the people of Moldova on radio and TV on 24 July, Snegur accused "the Popular Front's extremist wing" of orchestrating the protests and of instigating an all-out war to discredit the government domestically and internationally and seize power in the ensuing chaos. Terming that section of the Popular Front and the protest leaders "ambitious adventurers," and their acts "anticonstitutional and even criminal," Snegur expressed apprehension that the soldiers' involvement in the protest could have explosive consequences in a situation in which thousands of civilians possess firearms. He called on all citizens to maintain civil peace. (Vladimir Socor) RUSSIAN MEDIA ON KAZAKH BORDER CLAIMS. Radio Rossii, quoting the conservative Rabochaya tribuna and the little-known news agency Aktsent, reported on 25 July that "certain circles" in Kazakhstan are preparing to make territorial claims against Russia, specifically for Orenburg Oblast. The story, which supposedly originated with unidentified "competent" sources, also claimed that plans exist to "Islamize" parts of Orenburg Oblast and attach them to a "Muslim Union" to include Kazakhstan, Tatarstan and Bashqortostan. The story is guaranteed to harm relations between Kazakhstan and Russia; it was apparently inspired by statements made in 1991 by a few Kazakh intellectuals who, angered by demands of Cossack groups that threatened Kazakhstan's territorial integrity, pointed out that Kazakhs had an historic claim to Orenburg. (Bess Brown) RUSSIA TO HELP CREATE TURKMENISTAN'S ARMED FORCES. Russia pledged to help Turkmenistan create its own armed forces in an agreement reached by delegations from the two governments in Ashgabat on 24 July. ITAR-TASS reported that the delegations also finalized a protocol on border troops and several other agreements, including one on joint activities in connection with the creation of the republican armed forces. On 14 July, the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan had decided to begin formation of the republic's armed forces. (Doug Clarke) UZBEK OPPOSITION LEADER IN MOSCOW. Abdurahim Pulatov, leader of the Uzbek opposition movement, Birlik, is in Moscow, Radio Rossii reported on 24 July. He will undergo treatment for head injuries received on 29 June in what Birlik supporters believe was an attack sponsored by the Uzbek government. Pulatov was discharged from the Tashkent hospital on 18 July where he had been treated for a fractured skull. During his stay in Moscow, he will meet with members of the Russian government, and then travel to Baku to confer with other exiled Birlik leaders. (Cassandra Cavanaugh) RUSSIAN CENTRAL BANK CHAIRMAN CRITICIZES GOVERNMENT. Viktor Gerashchenko, the newly appointed chairman of the Russian Central Bank, criticized the government's handling of the economy in an interview with Nezavisimaya gazeta on 24 July. He accused the administration of lacking a coherent set of policies, and attacked its plans for rapid and widespread privatization, for quick convertibility of the ruble, and for halting low- interest loans for loss-making enterprises. Gerashchenko's interview will be welcomed by the founders of the new coalition between "Renewal" and the "Party of Economic Freedom." It runs counter, however, to the published advice of the IMF, and contrasts sharply with the official memorandum that was cosigned by Gerashchenko's predecessor, Georgii Matyukhin. (Keith Bush) RUSSIA TO ASSUME SOVIET DEBT? The Russian government is considering assuming all the foreign debt of the former Soviet Union, Interfax reported on 24 July. Such action would be preceded by negotiations among the republics and Western lenders and the declaration of "non-fulfillment" of the common debt. It was not clear from the report whether or how the debt share of the other republics would be added to their existing obligations to Russia. According to "Novosti," President Yeltsin has said that the other CIS countries presently owe Russia 300 billion rubles. (Erik Whitlock). RUSSIA'S AGRICULTURAL PROGRAM. More details emerged on 24 July concerning the nascent agricultural program of the Russian Federation. At a news conference reported by Russian and Western agencies, Vice-president Aleksandr Rutskoi disclosed that a forthcoming decree will set up land banks that will trade "land certificates," which grant titles to land and specify its uses. Individuals will no longer need to apply to local authorities to purchase land. The program will also seek to improve distribution systems and reduce waste. Interfax reported that the new program, to be called "Russia's Bread," aims to raise grain production to 125 million tons by 1995 and to obviate the necessity for grain imports by then. (Keith Bush) RUSSIAN FUEL PRICES TO RISE SOON? Lev Mironov, the chairman of the oil and gas industry workers' trade union, has said that fuel prices are expected to rise in August or September, Interfax and "Vesti" reported on 23 July. Citing Viktor Chernomyrdin, the deputy prime minister in charge of the fuel and energy complex, Mironov stated that the price of oil will rise to 6,600 rubles a ton, or about one-third of the world level. In early 1993, fuel prices will rise again, to about 70% of the world level. These increases will not affect consumer prices, according to Mironov. His statement contradicts the assertion made on 17 July by Russian Economics Minister Andrei Nechaev, that the cabinet does not envisage any further increases in energy prices this year. (Keith Bush) CASH SHORTAGE TO END BY LATE SUMMER? Two officials on 22 July spoke optimistically of winding down the severe liquidity crisis plaguing Russian enterprises. The deputy speaker of parliament, Yurii Voronin, said, according to Interfax, that the problem would be resolved by mid to late August. Voronin was reporting the conclusions of a recent meeting of government and parliamentary officials concerning financial affairs. The same day, in a interview summarized by ITAR-TASS, Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Shumeiko, appeared confident that the issue of large denomination ruble notes and increased faith in the banking system would reduce the cash-shortage. (Erik Whitlock) DISTRIBUTION OF PENSIONS IN RUSSIA. Pensioners in the southern Russian city of Samara have received their first pension payment in many months, Reuters reported on 22 July. The payments have done little, however, to relieve their financial woes. The pensions were paid in new 5,000 ruble notes. Many pensioners are being forced to share a single 5,000 ruble note. To make matters worse, they are finding themselves unable to spend the money, because stores can not make change for the large bill. (Sarah Helmstadter) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN REFUGEES BEGIN ARRIVING IN GERMANY. Between 25 and 27 July, six trains arrived in southern Germany from the front-line Croatian town of Karlovac. Most of the 5,000 passengers were Muslim refugees from the fighting in Bosnia and Herzegovina, who had lost their homes in the Serbs' process of "ethnic cleansing," German media said. Reuters on 26 July quoted leading German politicians as railing against the unwillingness of their EC partners to accept Bosnian refugees, using terms like "hard-hearted and mean." One suggested that EC politicians had compassion for the Bosnians only when the television cameras were on. Germany now has a total of about 200,000 refugees from the fighting in the former Yugoslavia. On 26 July the UN gave up its latest attempt to send relief to Gorazde, where 70,000 mainly Muslim inhabitants and refugees have been under siege for three months, international media report. (Patrick Moore) IS MILOSEVIC'S SUPPORT CRUMBLING? A rift appears to be growing in Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's ruling Socialist Party. On 22 July Milosevic said that the party needs "major changes because of its bureaucracy and political inferiority." On 23 July Borislav Jovic, president of the Socialist Party of Serbia, nominally considered to be a Milosevic ally, struck back, saying that Milosevic's comments "could damage the Socialist Party and Milosevic's own reputation." Several members of the Socialist Party have announced their intention to break with the party and form a "Social-Democratic Party" to compete in a new round of elections scheduled for November. Many reports suggest Milosevic will choose not to run, or may even resign beforehand. International media carried the story. (Gordon Bardos) DUBCEK CALLS FOR REFERENDUM ON CZECHOSLOVAKIA'S FUTURE. Speaking at a news conference in Bratislava on 24 July, Alexander Dubcek, the former chairman of the Federal Assembly, said that a referendum is the only legitimate way to decide whether Czechoslovakia should split into two states. Dubcek insisted that such an important question should not be left in the hands of political parties. Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus, speaking with reporters in Prague, said that a referendum is a possible option but noted that referendums were never held at critical points in Czechoslovakia's history. A public opinion poll released on 23 July indicates that more than 80% of Czechs and Slovaks want a referendum; only 16% of the respondents in both republics said they were in favor of two independent states. (Jiri Pehe) GENSCHER SEES BOTH CZECHOSLOVAK STATES AS SUCCESSORS. In an interview published in Rude pravo on 25 July, former German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher said that in case Czechoslovakia splits into two new states, both should be regarded as successors to the Czechoslovak-German Friendship Treaty. The treaty was signed in February and has been ratified by both the Czechoslovak and German parliaments. Genscher also said that the same policy of joint succession should apply to Czechoslovakia's association accords with the European Community. (Jiri Pehe) ROMANIAN PARTIES CHOOSE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES. The National Salvation Front ha chosen Caius Dragomir as its candidate in the presidential elections scheduled for 27 September, after former prime minister Petre Roman declined once more to run in the elections, radio Bucharest reported on 26 July. Dragomir has been head of the government's information department since June 1991. The Party of National Unity of Romanians, an anti-Hungarian extremist formation, has chosen as its candidate Gheorghe Funar, the controversial mayor of Cluj. (Michael Shafir). FIRST PRESS CONFERENCE BY NEW LITHUANIAN PRIME MINISTER. On 24 July Prime Minister Aleksandras Abisala told a news conference that he had resigned from the Sajudis parliament council the previous day and does not intend to run for the new parliament to be elected on 25 October, BNS reports. He said that cabinet meetings will no longer be held in his office but rather at one or another of the ministries once a week, the first one at the Ministry of Agriculture on 31 July. He noted that the issue of the board of directors of the Bank of Lithuania will be brought up at parliament's next session on 30 July and that his cabinet unanimously agrees that the board should be replaced. (Saulius Girnius) BULGARIAN CABINET FENDS OFF NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE. On 24 July the Bulgarian government survived a vote of no confidence introduced by the BSP. Even though all 104 Socialist parliamentarians backed the party motion, they were easily defeated by 130 deputies representing the stable coalition between the ruling UDF and the mainly Turkish MRFthe latter holding the balance of power. According to BTA, after the vote MRF deputy Mehmed Hodzha stated that his party's support was not unconditional, but that it would never join a coalition with the BSP. (Kjell Engelbrekt) SUCHOCKA PROPOSES "SOCIAL PACTS." Meeting with Solidarity leader Marian Krzaklewski on 24 July, Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka agreed to draw up an outline of government measures to restructure state industries by the end of July. The government will present a package of draft laws for consideration by mid-August. These bills will provide the basis for the proposed "stabilization pact" the government hopes to reach with the trade unions. In a TV appearance on 26 July, Suchocka explained that the government hopes to maintain calm in the difficult transition period through a series of such social pacts. Suchocka said she plans to seek special powers to impose decrees with the force of law, should the Sejm and the president agree. (Louisa Vinton) POLISH GOVERNMENT UNDER STRIKE PRESSURE. Government mediation on 25 July failed to resolve the strike of 40,000 workers at the Polska Miedz copper combine, Poland's largest industrial plant. Citing the round-table agreement of 1989, strikers upheld demands for wage hikes well exceeding what the firm's directors say they can afford. Labor Minister Jacek Kuron reminded the strikers that "the system has changed [since the round table]; you can only divide what money you have." Kuron told the Sejm on 25 July that 38 strikes (28 in mines) and 47 labor protests were held in Poland during July. Although the number of strikes remains lower than in 1991, Kuron said that the patience of workers in state firms is nearing exhaustion. He said the government was working on systemic solutions. A push by the parliamentary extremes for a debate on the strike situation failed in a close vote. (Louisa Vinton) POLISH DEFICIT UP, ENERGY PRICES TO RISE. The Polish government is pushing ahead with unpopular decisions put off by its predecessors. On 26 July the government increased the sales tax on gasoline, raising gas prices by up to five cents a liter. Home heating and electricity prices are to rise on 1 August. Finance Minister Jerzy Osiatynski said that the postponement of these measures had led to an increase in the budget deficit; without action to increase revenues, the deficit could reach 100 trillion zloty by year's end (65 trillion is the legal limit). This in turn could bring higher inflation and jeopardize Poland's international financial standing. Meanwhile, Poland's national bank predicted on 24 July that inflation would not exceed 38% for the year. (Louisa Vinton) ECONOMIC BASE FOR RUSSIAN PRESENCE IN ESTONIA? A member of an Estonian government commission investigating the sales of former USSR military property thinks that Russia is setting up an economic basis for a continued presence in Estonia. Attorney Vaino Villak told BNS on 23 July that many transactions are so-called "donation agreements," in which formerly military property is signed over directly from one institution to another, that is, the transactions are only on paper. Villak told reporters he sees no other explanation for this other than a wish to retain the economic means to support what he termed a "fifth column" in Estonia. In a related development, the government commission announced that it has brought suit in over 30 cases of possible misconduct in sales of former Soviet military property. Former minister of state, Raivo Vare, and the current deputy minister, Viljar Meister, are under investigation for possible involvement in illegal sales of military property to businesses, at least one of which is owned by Vare himself. (Riina Kionka) IMF MAY ENDORSE LATVIA'S ECONOMIC REFORMS. Latvia has signed a "letter of intent" with the IMF setting out in detail the steps it plans to take to transform its economy, and, according to Reuters of 24 July, the IMF is expected to endorse Latvia's plan before the fund holds its semiannual meeting on September 22-24. If the plan is approved, Latvia could receive up to $100 million in a standby loan. Latvia is the first former republic of the USSR to reach tentative agreement with the IMF on a full economic reform program. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIAN GOVERNMENT REPAYS DEBT. The Latvian government has repaid the 500-million-ruble loan to the Bank of Latvia, BNS reported on 24 July. The loan was taken earlier this month to cover a budget deficit. The prompt repayment came as a consequence of income tax payments received from enterprises. (Dzintra Bungs) LITHUANIAN-RUSSIAN MUTUAL ACCOUNTING DOCUMENTS PREPARED. On 23 July Lithuanian and Russian government delegations, headed by deputy economics minister Vytas Navickas and first deputy chairman of the state committee for economic cooperation with members of the CIS, Sergei Dubinin, met in Moscow and discussed currency and financial settlement questions, BNS reports. The meeting prepared a number of documents including draft protocols for regulating debts between enterprises in the two countries, an intergovernmental agreement on the accounting procedures to be used after Lithuania introduces its own currency, the litas, and an interbank agreement on payments. (Saulius Girnius) JESZENSZKY CALLS FOR CLOSER TIES TO EC. In an interview with The European of 24 July, Hungarian Foreign Minister Geza Jeszenszky said that Hungary seeks to strengthen its political, economic, and defense ties with the EC. He called EC membership the major vehicle for reintegrating Hungary into Western Europe, and said that Hungary is making "strenuous efforts" to adapt its laws and economy to EC standards. Jeszenszky said that Hungary represents a "special case" because its democratization of the last two years created "all the necessary conditions . . .for close political cooperation" with the EC. He said that the ethnic and social conflicts of Eastern Europe can only be resolved through a stronger engagement of Western governments in the region. Hungary has associate status with the EC and hopes to become a full member by the end of the decade. (Edith Oltay) BULGARIA AND COCOM. A US delegation of specialists on export control regulations held consultations with top Bulgarian officials on 23-24 July, BTA reports. Robert Price, the head of the US delegation, told a press conference on 24 July that the removal of Bulgaria from the lists of the Coordination Committee for Multilateral Export Controls will occur in several stages. Price said the Bulgarian government had expressed a will to build up a national system of export controls as well as to begin cooperation with COCOM states. Deputy trade minister Kiril Velev stressed the need for new domestic legislation complying with COCOM rules. (Kjell Engelbrekt) MINORITY ISSUES IN TRANSCARPATHIA. The Transcarpathian Oblast council has turned down a request by ethnic Magyar deputies to make bilingual signs mandatory in minority-inhabited areas because such a measure would not conform with Ukraine's language law, Radio Budapest reported on 23 July. No agreement could be reached on the issue of an autonomous Hungarian district for Berehovo (Beregszasz) raion, requested by that raion's inhabitants in a December 1991 referendum, as the oblast council found that only cultural autonomy was acceptable. The Hungarian-Ukrainian joint commission on minorities, set up in the wake of last year's bilateral statement on minority rights, will hold its first session in Budapest on 27 July, MTI reported on 24 July. (Alfred Reisch) LATVIATRANSIT POINT FOR THIRD-WORLD REFUGEES? Lauma Mezecka of the Latvian Consular Department told BNS on 25 July that Third-World refugees are increasingly using Latvia as a transit point for entering Scandinavia. She said that this year 31 fugitives with forged papers, including counterfeit visas for Scandinavia that were acquired in Latvia, have been identified by authorities. On 21 July Diena reported on 14 Kurdish refugees arriving at the Finnish port of Hanko aboard the Latvian yacht Turaida. The captain was fined for illegal entry of Finnish territory, and because the Turaida also violated Latvia's shipping regulations, he may have to answer to the Latvian authorities as well. (Dzintra Bungs) ILIESCU IN KUWAIT. The Romanian president paid a two-day visit to Kuwait on 25 and 26 July, Romanian media report. He held talks with the Kuwaiti head of state, Amir Jaber Sabah, the prime minister, the finance minister, the interim minister for oil, the governor of the central bank, and other officials. Before leaving Iliescu said there are chances for the resumption of oil deliveries to Romania and possibilities that Kuwaiti crude can be processed in Romanian refineries. The two countries agreed on cooperation in foreign policy, culture, and health. (Michael Shafir)
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