|In the effort to give good and comforting answers to the young questioners whom we love, we very often arrive at good and comforting answers for ourselves. - Ruth Goode|
No. 142, 28 July 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR GENERALS OPPOSE KURILE ISLAND CUTS. The Japanese agency Kyodo, reported on 27 July that the Russian General Staff had submitted to the Supreme Soviet a document calling for a freeze in proposed troop reductions on the four disputed Kurile Islands. The action came a day before closed hearings on the islands were scheduled to begin and amid speculation that Boris Yeltsin planned to announce more troop cuts on the islands. According to the report, troops levels have already been cut from approximately 10,000 to 7,000. The General Staff document reportedly warned that concessions to Tokyo on the islands would encourage Japan and other neighboring countries to make fresh territorial claims on Russia. (Stephen Foye) CHERNAVIN ON RUSSIAN NAVY. In an interview broadcast by Radio Rossii on 27 July, Admiral Vladimir Chernavin (who was commander in chief of CIS naval forces, but who now apparently holds that position in the Russian armed forces) said that the Russian navy currently consists of all four fleets and that he himself sits on the Russian Ministry of Defense Collegium. Chernavin said that the Baltic Fleet would remain in the Baltic, and that the fleet command hoped to secure bases in Tallinn, Estonia, and in Liepaja, Latvia, as well as several other places. He also said that the Russian navy would be smaller than the Soviet navy, with old vessels to be retired and manpower reductions totaling 100,000 men to be effected by 1995. Finally, he praised the Yeltsin government for having raised the salaries of naval officers and said that Yeltsin had ordered regional leaders at a recent meeting to provide more housing for military personnel. (Stephen Foye) MOST WARSHIPS NOW FLYING RUSSIAN NAVAL FLAG. The Navy Day holiday on 26 July was the occasion for most warships of the ex-Soviet Navy to haul down the hammer-and-sickle naval ensign and replace it with the flag of St. Andrews, traditionally flown on Russian warships since 1699. Russian and western agencies reported that the ceremony was skipped in the Black Sea Fleet and the Caspian Flotilla, both of which are bones of contention between Russia and various other republics. (Doug Clarke) BELARUS TO SELL ARMS. Belarusian First Deputy Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich said on 27 July that Belarus intended to sell surplus armsparticularly tanksoverseas, Interfax reported. He emphasized, however, that Minsk had no intention of selling weapons to support particular regimes or to countries that either violated human rights or that were on the verge of hostilities with neighbors. He also said that Belarus would not peddle nuclear arms systems. (Stephen Foye) SS-25S TO BE CONVERTED TO CIVILIAN LAUNCH VEHICLES. The Russian Army's SS-25 intercontinental ballistic missiles will now be used as launch vehicles for communications and other civilian satellites, Radio Rossii reported on 24 July. According to Lev Solomonev, a top official involved in the construction of the SS-25s, 75 of the missiles had previously been destroyed with US inspectors looking on. This conversion project, he argued, represents a far better use of the vast resources invested in building the missiles than does simple destruction. (Chris Hummel) STANKEVICH TO BECOME CIS MINISTER? Presidential advisor, Sergei Stankevich, is the most likely candidate for the post of minister of CIS affairs, Radio Rossii on 27 July quoted "informed government sources" as saying. The new ministry will be created on the basis of the present CIS department at the Russian Foreign Ministry. The decision to set up the CIS ministry was taken at a meeting of the Russian Security Council on 1 July, but that decision has still to become legal through a presidential decree. Government sources also reported that there is strong opposition within the Russian leadership to such a ministry, and Yeltsin may postpone the decree. (Alexander Rahr) RADICAL WING OF DEMOCRATIC RUSSIA HOLDS CONGRESS. A radical wing of the Democratic Russia movement, headed by Professor Yurii Afanasev and St. Petersburg activist Marina Sale, organized an extraordinary congress in Moscow over the weekend, the Russian media reported on 26 July. The leadership of the movement as a wholeLev Ponomarev, Ilya Zaslavsky and Gleb Yakuninwere against the congress. Many regional Democratic Russia organizations also refused to participate in the congress. On 27 July, "Vesti" reported that Marina Sale announced that the St. Petersburg branch of the movement would become a formal opposition group to the Yeltsin-Gaidar leadership, which Sale accused of moving away from democratic reforms. In contrast, Ponomarev, Zaslavsky and Yakunin intend to transform Democratic Russia into a presidential party. (Vera Tolz) BUKOVSKY WILL NOT RUN FOR MOSCOW MAYOR. Former Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky has rejected the offer of several Moscow City Council deputies to run for the post of Moscow mayor in December, according to ITAR-TASS on 27 July. Speaking at the Moscow City Council, he argued that he cannot see a broad socio-political base of support for his candidacy, criticizing Muscovites for their lack of political activity and blaming the Yeltsin-Gaidar government for failing to destroy the old communist system. He said that if a new popular prodemocratic movement is founded, he would be prepared to return to Moscow and participate in the political process, but not necessarily as mayor. (Alexander Rahr) WITNESSES AGAINST THE CPSU BEGIN TESTIMONY. Witnesses called by Yeltsin's lawyers to support the ban on the Communist Party began to testify before the Russian Constitutional Court on 24 July, Russian and Western agencies reported. Vladimir Solodin, former deputy director of Glavlit, gave details on the level of censorship and the banning of publications up until the agency was abolished in July 1991. For example, despite the introduction of Glasnost in 1986, Glavlit was instructed to launch a "special campaign" to control information on the Chernobyl nuclear accident. Izvestiya correspondent and former Central Committee member, Otto Latsis, also testified that Party hardliners had begun planning for Gorbachev's removal long before the August 1991 coup attempt, DR-Press reported. Other witnesses included a former prosecutor, Viktor Belov, who testified on Party interference in the judicial process. (Carla Thorson) KGB OFFICIAL TESTIFIES IN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT. On 27 July, more witnesses were called by the Russian president's lawyers in the Russian Constitutional Court, Russian and Western agencies reported. Viktor Ivanenko, former chairman of the Russian Republican KGB, testified that the KGB had shadowed Russia's top leaders, including President Yeltsin, for two years prior to the August 1991 coup attempt. Ivanenko also said that former Soviet KGB Chairman Vladimir Kryuchkov had ordered telephone wire taps on top Soviet state officials, including Aleksandr Yakovlev and Eduard Shevardnadze, and even on fellow coup leaders in the days leading up to the coup attempt. Ivanenko noted that he thought Gorbachev was aware of these surveillance operations, and cited documentary evidence that Gorbachev knew of the wire tapping. (Carla Thorson) MORE DETAILS ON RUSSIA'S ASSUMING SOVIET DEBT. Russian plans for assuming the foreign debt obligations of other former Soviet republics became clearer on 27 July. As quoted by ITAR-TASS, Deputy Foreign Minister Viktor Shillin said that "Russia hopes the obligations of a number of sovereign states to pay the external debt of the former USSR will be maintained." However, in the event that a state refuses to pay its share of the debt, Russia will assume the obligation and register the sum as a Russian loan to the non-paying republic. Russia is presently making payments on 61% of the Soviet foreign debt which a total of eight republics of the former USSR had promised to assume jointly last year. (Erik Whitlock) GAIDAR MEETS WITH DEFENSE INDUSTRY LEAGUE. In a meeting with Egor Gaidar, Russia's acting prime minister, on 24 July, the presidium of the League of Russian Defense Enterprises demanded the development of a national policy on conversion and the protection of the country's military, scientific, and technical capability, as reported by ITAR-TASS. The league, which represents over 600 enterprises and organizations, did announce its support for the economic reforms being carried out by the government but also expressed concern over the state of affairs in the defense industryin particular the continuing decline of production and the growing threat of undermining the country's scientific and technical potential. (Chris Hummel) RUBLE EXCHANGE RATE DOWN. The value of the ruble fell to 156 rubles to the dollar at the Moscow interbank auction on 23 July, despite intervention by the Russian Central Bank, Western agencies reported. At a news conference on 24 July, government economic adviser, Aleksei Ulyukaev, said that the Russian government has given up hope that the ruble can become fully convertible in 1992 at a rate of around 80 to the dollar. He suggested that a more realistic rate might be closer to the current auction level. Ulyukaev attributed the decline to inflation and to the loose credit policies of the other former Soviet republics. (Keith Bush) SOME HARD-CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS REMOVED. The Russian Central Bank announced on 27 July that it was lifting restrictions on the purchase of foreign currency by Russian citizens, Interfax and RFE/RL's Moscow correspondent reported. For amounts of up to $500, no documentation will be required. To purchase larger sums, the individual will have to present a passport or other means of identification, but will no longer have to show a foreign-travel passport or an exit visa. However, private citizens who travel abroad will be forbidden to take more than $500 out of the country without special authorization. (Keith Bush) VNESHEKONOMBANK TO REOPEN FROZEN ACCOUNTS. Russia's First Deputy Minister of Finance Andrei Vavilov announced that the accounts of Vneshekonombank USSR would be unfrozen by the end of this year, Ekho Moskvy reported on 26 July. Accounts at the troubled bank, which conducted foreign currency transactions for the state, enterprises and private individuals during the Soviet period, had been inaccessible for several months. On 21 July, according to Interfax, Deputy Supreme Soviet Chairman Yurii Voronin had suggested that the bank would be reorganized or its operations transferred to the Central Bank or the Foreign Trade Bank of Russia. (Erik Whitlock) TUVINIAN INDEPENDENCE CAMPAIGN HALTED. The Popular Front of Tuva, which decided at its first congress on 20 June to collect signatures to hold a referendum on the independence of Tuva, has suspended its campaign in the face of local opposition, DR-Press reported on 25 July. It has been proposed instead that the new Tuvinian constitution should include the right of the republic to secede from Russia. The Tuva Republic is located near Mongolia. (Ann Sheehy) CRIMEAN TATARS DEMAND STATEHOOD. The leader of the Crimean Tatar Assembly (Mejlis), Mustafa Dzhemilev, has called upon the Ukrainian authorities to define their position on the Crimean Tatars, ITAR-TASS reported 25 July. Dzhemilev repeated the Crimean Tatars' demand for the restoration of their statehood in Crimea within Ukraine and warned of civil disobedience if their demands are ignored. (Roman Solchanyk) MOLDOVAN LEADERSHIP DEFUSES PROTESTS. The several hundred protesters, including over 100 armed volunteer soldiers, demonstrating since 24 July outside the parliament and government buildings in Chisinau, dispersed peacefully on 26 July after their spokesmen were received by President Mircea Snegur and other Moldovan leaders. The leaders pledged never to accept territorial losses or a return of communists to power in Moldova and to continue to press for the withdrawal of Russia's troops; but they refused to give in to most of demonstrators' demands (see Daily Report, 27 July) on the grounds that these issues can only be resolved in parliament and by "taking into account the views of all sections of society," Moldovan media reported. (Vladimir Socor) CEASE-FIRE IN TAJIKISTAN? A cease-fire was agreed upon at a meeting in the town of Khorog attended by leaders of Tajikistan's political parties, the armed bands that have been fighting in the country's southern regions, members of the clergy and leaders of all the country's oblasts, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 July. The cease-fire was to go into effect on 28 July, but Russian TV's evening news reported the previous day that the leader of the Kulyab "self-defense units," that have played a major role in the continuing violence, announced that his followers would not surrender their weapons until the coalition government of Communists and oppositionists in Dushanbe resigns. (Bess Brown) COUNCIL OF EUROPE FINDS UZBEKISTAN LEAST DEMOCRATIC. ITAR-TASS provided a summary of a 27 July Le Monde commentary on Council of Europe General Secretary Catherine Lalumière's recent visit to five former Soviet republics. Lalumière met with opposition representatives in Kazakhstan, and with Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev, particularly respected for his commitment to democracy. In contrast, while in Uzbekistan the delegation met only with the ruling People's Democratic Party (formerly Communist), which continues to use force to suppress the opposition. Though observer status for the Central Asian states is not yet under serious consideration, Le Monde ex-pressed doubt about Uzbekistan's eligibility, arguing that it is the "furthest away from Strasbourg," the headquarters of the council. (Cassandra Cavanaugh) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN PEACE TALKS RESUME IN LONDON. Leaders of the three warring factions in the Bosnian civil war returned to London on 27 July, but little progress is reported. EC mediator José Cutilheiro has adopted a new strategy for the negotiations, trying to forge an agreement on a new constitutional arrangement for Bosnia-Herzegovina instead of focusing on achieving a ceasefire first. Cutilheiro told reporters that "I believe that a political settlement would stop the war." Bosnian Foreign Minister Haris Silajdzic, however, has refused to negotiate about any future arrangements, and is calling instead for international military intervention to end the war. International media carried the reports. (Gordon Bardos) BOSNIAN SERBS DEFINE BORDERS. Before the London talks, the assembly of the Serbian Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina defined the "indisputable borders of the Serbian Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina." Velibor Ostojic, minister of information of the Serbian Republic, explained the borders were drawn only on the basis of ethnic criteria and majorities. The Serbs (with one-third of the population) claim some two-thirds of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Muslim areas are not defined. Ostojic traced the external borders of the Serbian Republic including a small outlet to the Adriatic at Neum, a predominantly Croat-populated area, which, Ostojic said, is based on Serbia's historic access to the Adriatic. The internal borders which Ostojic stressed are still open to negotiationwould run along the lines of ethnic contact between the Serbian nation and Bosnia's Croats and Muslims. The report was carried by Radio Serbia on 26 July. (Milan Andrejevich) MORE ON REFUGEES. On 26 July the last of the current group of 5,600 Bosnian refugees arrived in Germany and went on to centers in the north and east. German politicians demanded that other EC members carry a fairer share of the burdeneven without a formal policy agreementof what is expected to be a continuing flood of desperate people fleeing their homes. Reuters, however, quotes other West European officials as charging their German counterparts with playing domestic politics to an electorate that feels that Germany bears a disproportionately high share of the costs in European affairs, and one which shows more than a few signs of "compassion fatigue." Tanjug says Serbia wants international help for caring for what it claims are 400,000 refugees. In Brussels the G-24 group of major industrialized nations pledged $100 million for international relief, although that is only equivalent to what Croatia alone spends on refugees in 50 days. (Patrick Moore) BULGARIA CLAIMS MOSLEMS DEPORTED TO MACEDONIA. Referring to a source in the office of UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Bulgaria's newly appointed UN ambassador Slavi Pashkovski on 26 July accused Serb irregulars of having deported some 30,000 Moslems to Macedonia, near Bulgaria's western border. Speaking on Bulgarian radio, Pashkovski said Serbia's "ethnic cleansing" policy threatens to alter the population balance in Macedonia and plant "explosive material" in the vicinity of Bulgaria. In an interview published yesterday in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Prime Minister Filip Dimitrov warned that the consequences of involving Macedonia in the Balkan conflict could be "unforeseeable." (Kjell Engelbrekt) ROMANIA AGAIN DENIES BREAKING EMBARGO. Foreign Ministry spokesman Traian Chebeleu told RFE/RL on 24 July that if embargo violations are taking place on Romanian territory, they are being carried out without the government's knowledge. Minister of transportation Traian Basescu told a press conference on the same day the consequences of Romania's observance of the embargo are "very serious." He said ten thousand employees are "technically unemployed" as a result of diminished traffic on the Danube and revenues have dropped. On 25 July Rompres quoted a political attaché of the US embassy in Bucharest visiting Galati as saying the West is "concerned over Romania's failure to observe the embargo." (Michael Shafir) TUDJMAN SLIPS IN CROATIAN POLL. Croatia holds elections for the lower house and the presidency on 2 August. President Franjo Tudjman has held a comfortable lead over all challengers throughout the campaign, but a poll run by Vecernji list on 26 July suggests that Liberal challenger Drazen Budisa has narrowed the gap between them from 23 points to 14 in the course of the past two weeks. Tudjman now has 39% to Budisa's 25%, and during this time the percentage of undecided voters has dropped by half. The national campaign has been overshadowed by the war, and questions of Croatia's future development have largely taken a back seat. Tudjman's party has stressed continuity, while other mainstream parties simply claim that they could do the same job better. Regional personalities and issues are expected to dominate the legislative vote. Women and minorities are generally poorly represented on the party slates, even though Savka Dabcevic-Kucar is a presidential candidate with 7.7% in the latest poll. (Patrick Moore) NEGOTIATIONS ON THE DIVISION OF CZECHOSLOVAKIA. On 27 July Czech and Slovak parliamentary leaders Milan Uhde and Ivan Gasparovic met in Bratislava to discuss the prospective split of Czechoslovakia into two countries, CSTK reported. They agreed to establish a number of commissions that will deal with issues related to the economy, foreign policy, defense, and civil rights. Until 14 August the commissions will be composed only of experts; after that date, the experts will be joined by deputies from both republican parliaments. The two leaders hope to complete the negotiations on the division of Czechoslovakia by the end of September. (Jiri Pehe) CANDIDATES FOR CZECHOSLOVAK PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. Three candidates have met the registration deadline and will compete in the third round of Czechoslovak presidential elections on 30 July, CSTK reports. They are Zdenek Prochazka of the Republican Party, Zdenek Pinta of Movement 90, and Marie Kristkova of the Liberal-Social Union. All three candidates were proposed by individual deputies rather than by political parties. Vaclav Havel's reelection bid was defeated in the first round of the presidential elections on 3 July. Miroslav Sladek, chairman of the extreme right-wing Republican Party, failed to win the election two weeks later. Czechoslovakia has been without a president since Havel's resignation on 17 July. (Jiri Pehe) MECIAR WARNS HUNGARY. In a 25 July radio statement, Slovak prime minister Vladimir Meciar warned Hungary to expect "negative consequences" in bilateral relations if Budapest meddles in Bratislava's minority policy, Radio Budapest reported on the same day. Meciar was reacting to an earlier statement by a leader of Slovakia's Hungarian Christian Democratic Movement to the effect that his movement would turn to the Hungarian government and to international organizations should minority rights not be observed in an independent Slovakia. (Alfred Reisch) SLOVAKIA NO THREAT TO HUNGARY. According to an analysis by Hungary's Security Policy and Defense Research Center published on 25 July in Magyar nemzet, a breakup of Czechoslovakia and the emergence of an independent Slovak army would not represent an increased threat to Hungary's security. The experts say Slovakia could become a natural ally of Hungary and the latter should seek to reduce Bratislava's mistrust by proposing an "open skies" agreement similar to the one between Hungary and Romania. (Alfred Reisch) CASUALTIES IN RUSSIAN-ESTONIAN INCIDENT. Two Russians were wounded on 27 July when a group of 30 Estonian soldiers temporarily took over a building in Tallinn housing a subunit of the former USSR navy, ITAR-TASS reports. Twenty-four Estonians were arrested. Russian sources say the Estonians opened fire. Local agencies, however, say the move was part of a prearranged transfer of military property but that the building had been leased to a business that was actually a front operation for the former Soviet military. Estonian sources claim the Estonian soldiers had no ammunition, so the two must have been wounded by "friendly fire." Both sides have protested the action, and Estonian Defense Minister Ulo Uluots characterized the incident as "a groundless provocation." (Riina Kionka) ESTONIAN FOREST BRETHREN ASK FOR RECOGNITION. A group of former Forest Brethren gathered last weekend in Adavere to call for immediate and full rehabilitation and to ask that they be allowed to set up their organization again, BNS reported on 27 July. The Forest Brethren was a postwar partisan armed opposition movement that was more or less eliminated by Soviet intelligence forces by the late 1950s. A number of Russian and Western observers have recently alleged that the Forest Brethren have been reconstituted under the guise of Estonia's official civil militia, the Defense Union (Kaitseliit), but the appeal for official reinstatement would seem to belie that claim. (Riina Kionka) WALESA BATTLES CORRUPTION. Meeting with Justice Minister Zbigniew Dyka on 27 July, President Lech Walesa expressed concern at the limited effectiveness of Poland's justice system in fighting corruption and economic crime. "The rule of law cannot be simply a declaration," Walesa said. He proposed increasing prosecutors' powers and televising major trials to show Poland's determination to fight financial scandals. Dyka stressed that economic crimes were not unique to Poland. "We must not create an atmosphere of panic [by suggesting] that Poland alone faces a massive wave of economic crime," he added. (Louisa Vinton) NICU CEAUSESCU TO BE RESENTENCED. Romania's Supreme Court has revised the charges against Nicu Ceausescu, Radio Bucharest announced on 27 July. The son of the former dictator has served 31 months of a 16-year sentence on the charge of genocide. The court accepted an appeal by the prosecution to drop the genocide charge and substitute for it that of "instigation to murder under aggravating circumstances." Ceausescu will remain in prison and the prosecution will prepare new charges against him. (Michael Shafir) KOSTOV TALKS TO THE WORLD BANK, IMF. Returning from negotiations with the World Bank and the IMF, Bulgarian finance minister Ivan Kostov expressed satisfaction with the understanding reached. In Demokratsiya on 27 July, Kostov said he expected Bulgaria's general macroeconomic program and budget for 1993 to be accepted by mid-September, paving the way for a more extensive agreement with the World Bank. In particular, Bulgaria is hoping for assistance in dealing with its creditor banks, to which it owes over $12 billion. (Kjell Engelbrekt) UNEMPLOYMENT STILL ON THE RISE IN LATVIA. New figures reported in Diena on 22 July indicate that 22,614 persons are looking for jobs, 11,235 (compared with about 8700 at the beginning of the month) have been registered as unemployed, and 9362 are receiving unemployment compensation. A sizable contingent of the job seekers are women with higher education. A further rise in the number of unemployed is anticipated because several enterprises are expected to declare bankruptcy. (Dzintra Bungs) SEJM REJECTS LIBERAL ABORTION DRAFT. In a long-postponed debate the Sejm on 24 July rejected a draft bill that would have allowed abortion in a few specific cases: when the woman's health or life is endangered, when the fetus is damaged, when the pregnancy is the result of a crime, or when the pregnant woman finds herself in "extremely difficult life conditions." A proposal for a national referendum on the issue was also rejected. The Sejm opted instead to continue work on a more stringent draft that would impose a total ban on abortion, give the fetus the legal status of a person,and provide for two years imprisonment for anyone committing an abortion. (Louisa Vinton) CZECHOSLOVAK-DANISH DISPUTE OVER KURDISH REFUGEES. A dispute over the fate of thirteen Kurdish refugees stranded in Czechoslovakia seems now to be resolved, CSTK reports. The refugees flew to Copenhagen on 24 July after their private chartered plane stopped in Prague to refuel. Danish officials deported the refugees back to Prague on an SAS airliner. But Czechoslovak officials refused to accept them and grounded the plane when the pilot refused to take the refugees back to Denmark. Several Danish policemen who escorted the refugees were also detained. On 28 July Denmark agreed to allow the refugees to return to Copenhagen. Danish Justice Minister Hans Engell told Danish TV the refugees should not become "a political football." (Jiri Pehe) MEXICAN PRESIDENT IN HUNGARY. Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari arrived on 27 July for a three-day official visit to Hungary. He met with President Arpad Goncz and Prime Minister Jozsef Antall, and signed bilateral agreements on technical and scientific cooperation and tourism. Both sides stressed the need for expanding bilateral economic ties. (Edith Oltay) LITHUANIAN-UKRAINIAN TALKS. On 27 July Deputy Lithuanian Foreign Affairs Minister Rokas Bernotas told Radio Lithuania about his recent visit to Kiev where he held talks with Ukrainian officials on the preparation of 16 to 20 accords, the most important of which is an intergovernmental friendship and cooperation treaty. (Saulius Girnius)
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