|One must learn by doing the thing; though you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try. - Sophocles|
No. 143, 29 July 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR NO RESOLUTION TO KURILE ISLANDS DISPUTE. Stormy debate at a closed session of the Russian parliament on 29 July failed to resolve a bitter disagreement between liberals and conservatives over the fate of the Kurile Islands, Russian and Western agencies reported. Yeltsin is scheduled to visit Tokyo in mid-September, and there have been rumors that the Foreign Ministry has backed a policy of concessions on the islands in order to win financial aid from Tokyo. Russian nationalists have opposed proposals to return the islands to Japan, and a number of legislators at the 29 July session, including the Chairman of the parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, Evgenii Ambartsumov, reportedly called upon Yeltsin to cancel the Tokyo visit. (Stephen Foye) DEFENSE MINISTRY OPPOSED TO CONCESSIONS. The Russian military leadership reportedly charged at the session that a return of the islands would compromise Russian security in the Pacific, and recommended halting troop withdrawals from the islands until the political dispute is resolved. According to ITAR-TASS on 28 July, military leaders argue that concessions on the islands could also lead to further territorial demands by Japan and could even weaken the Russian position in border negotiations with China; that it would undermine the integrity of the Pacific fleet, disrupt the region's unified radar system, and compromise Russian coastal defense in the far east; and that ultimately Russia would have to allocate large sums of money to rebuild its defenses in the region. (Stephen Foye) SKOKOV REJECTS PUTSCH RUMORS. Secretary of the Russian Security Council Yurii Skokov told Russian TV on 27 July that the leadership of the army, the former KGB and the interior ministry are firmly supporting President Boris Yeltsin and therefore no coup is possible in the Kremlin. Yeltsin's new national security advisor also emphasized that there is nobody in the president's entourage who wants to change the political system by force. He acknowledged that the Security Council's status has recently been enhanced but stated that this body "remains a constitutional body" which helps the president to run the state and to develop measures to protect citizens. (Alexander Rahr) CONSUMPTION DOWN IN RUSSIA. Referring to Goskomstat data, Radio Rossii of 25 July reported that, in comparison with last year, the population of the Russian Federation is now consuming 25% less milk products, 15% less meat, 30% less fruit, and 20% less sugar and confectionery. The amount of clothes and shoes purchased has more than halved. (Sarah Helmstadter) EKATERINBURG CITIZENS LOSE FAITH IN YELTSIN. The Washington Post reported on 26 July that residents of Ekaterinburg, Yeltsin's base, are disillusioned and discouraged with his administration. The city, the fifth largest in Russia and until 1990 a "closed" defense industry center, has been hit hard by the economic reforms. Like other local enterprises, the former SS-20 plant is attempting to convert and now produces timber-cutting equipment. Yet thousands of workers are threatened with unemployment and many are already on unpaid or partially paid vacations. Uralmash, which employs 40,000, last paid its workers in May. (Brenda Horrigan) STRIKES ON THE RISE IN RUSSIA? According to government statistics, the number of man-days lost in Russia through strikes was nearly twice as high in the second quarter of 1992 as in the first quarter of the year. ITAR-TASS on 24 July said that, of 9 million man-days lost in Russia in the first six months of this year, eleven-twelfths were caused by shortages of raw materials, including energy. The remainder (750,000 man-days) can presumably be attributed to strikes. Since strikes caused a loss of 268,000 man-days in January-March 1992, this means the figure for April-June was 482,000. This increase in workers' protests seems mainly to have been provoked by the shortage of cash for wages. (Elizabeth Teague) AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS TO STRIKE? Air traffic controllers decided at a 24 July plenum of the Central Council of the Federation of Air Traffic Controllers of Russia (FPAD) to begin a nation-wide strike on 15 August, according to Interfax and ITAR-TASS. FPAD is demanding increased wages and fulfillment of Yeltsin's 20 March decree on the creation of a state committee on air space and air traffic control. Aircraft used for rescue and other humanitarian flights reportedly will not be affected by the strike. (Brenda Horrigan) NUCLEAR EXPERTS TO STRIKE? Employees of the once-closed city of Arzamas-16, which Yeltsin decreed the Russian "Federal Nuclear Center" during a February 1992 visit, are threatening to strike, Russian TV reported on 26 July. The specialists at the research center plan to halt their current work, which is the dismantling of nuclear warheads, unless they get their back pay and receive their future wages on a regular basis. An unidentfied spokesman from the nuclear center said that several protests had already been lodged before the technicians received their May wages. (Brenda Horrigan) RUSSIA AND NORTH KOREA. The Russian foreign ministry rejected a South Korean defense ministry official's suggestion that Russia end its military ties with North Korea and termed the proposal an attempt "to dictate to Russia how to develop its relations with other countries." The Russian foreign ministry noted that Moscow would adhere to all international agreements inherited from the USSR, including ones with North Korea, Reuter reported. Indeed, Russia not only stands by these agreements, but also renewed on 7 July the friendship treaty signed by Moscow and Pyongyang in 1961. At the signing, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Georgii Kunadze said, "we and the Korean People's Democratic Republic share common concerns of a strategic nature," Russian TV reported on 7 July. (Suzanne Crow) BAZHANOV ON CONVERSION. Mikhail Bazhanov, head of the Russian State Committee on Conversion, told Business-TASS on 27 July that "what we are going through is not conversion but convulsion" and that rash actions had already led to negative consequences. He said that conversion need not exceed 3% a year and criticized the Russian program for moving too quickly70% of defense enterprises in two years. He also estimated that the cost and duration of conversion in the US and in Russia would be roughly the same. Thus far, the Russian government has allocated only 15 billion rubles toward conversion and set aside 43 billion rubles in credits for the process. Furthermore, the Ministry of Industry and the State Committee on Conversion will set up a special directorate for implementing an innovation program with the aid of Russian and foreign capital. (Chris Hummel) PESSIMISM OVER RUSSIAN BUDGET DEFICIT AND INFLATION. The Financial Times of 28 July quotes both foreign experts and government officials in Moscow as expressing pessimism over Russia's finances. The government is considered to be rapidly losing control over the budget deficit and over inflation. They cite the approval of 1 trillion rubles' worth of credits for industry, the postponement of the convertibility of the ruble, and the increased purchase prices for grain as factors contributing to hyperinflation (quantified as a monthly increase in prices of over 50%). Hopes for a standby agreement with the IMF in the fall are said to be evaporating. (Keith Bush) RUBLE CONTINUES SLIDE. The ruble fell again on 28 July at the Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange The dollar now buys 161.1 rubles compared with 134.8 rubles at the beginning of the month. Russia's Foreign Trade Bank, according to Reuters, identifies reluctance by central bank to support the ruble as the chief cause of the decline. ITAR-TASS offers expectations of increased inflation as the culprit. (Erik Whitlock). OUTSTANDING DEBTS TO RUSSIA. Russian Foreign Trade Minister Petr Aven told Komsomolskaya pravda on 28 July that Russia was owed more than $140 billion by former allies and by nations of the third world. Cuba was said to be the biggest debtor, owing $75 billion. Aven also named other countries who "are scarcely in a position to pay us," such as Zambia, Algeria, Angola, and Uganda. The first authoritative estimate of third world and socialist community debts to the former Soviet Union was 86 billion hard-currency rubles at the end of 1989 (Izvestiya, 2 March 1990). The sharp increase in the value of this debt since then is evidently attributable to the inclusion of the subsidies paid in Soviet-Cuban trade and accrued interest. (Keith Bush) RUSSIAN EXPORTS DOWN, IMPORT TARIFFS UP. Export revenue plummeted 35% in the first half of 1992, according to the Russian State Statistical Committee, Western agencies reported on 24 July. June exports amounted to $3 billion dollarsonly 49% of last year's figure. The fall in oil exports is reportedly the primary factor in the worsening trade figures. In a related story, the Russian government announced a tripling of tariffs on most imported goods in September, Western agencies reported. The import tax is intended to help improve Russia's international payments imbalance and protect domestic industry from competition abroad. (Erik Whitlock) STATE PURCHASES OF GRAIN IN RUSSIA. The first deputy chairman of the Russian Committee on Bread products, Aleksandr Kudelya, told a news conference on 27 July that one million tons of grain had been purchased from farmers, Interfax reported. The total planned for the year is 29 million tons. Kudelya claimed that farmers had increased their sales to the government after President Yeltsin conrmed last week that the purchase price would not be raised. He also maintained that the state purchase price of 8-10 rubles a kilogram was equal to world market prices and to price levels on the stock exchanges. (Keith Bush) KOVALEV REVEALS NUMBER OF POLITICAL PRISONERS. Testifying at the Constitutional Court on 28 July, the chairman of the Russian parliament's human rights committee, Sergei Kovalev, revealed the number of people to have been sentenced in 1976-86 under two laws which were applied most often against political opponents of the Soviet regime, Russian TV reported. According to the records uncovered by Kovalev's aides in the Party archives, a total of 667 persons were sentenced under Article 1990-1 "Dissimulation of Known False Fabrications Slandering the Soviet State and Civil Order," while 2,186 people were sentenced under Article 70 "Anti-Soviet Agitation and Propaganda" of the RSFSR Criminal Code. (Julia Wishnevsky) MORE FIGHTING IN TAJIKISTAN. Shortly before a ceasefire was due to go into effect between armed groups in Tajikistan on 28 July, Radio Dushanbe reported continuing fighting in Kurgan-Tyube Oblast in the southern part of the country. More than 1000 people were reported to have staged a demonstration on 27 July in front of the Kurgan-Tyube government building demanding that Tajik President Rakhmon Nabiev resign for failing to stop the fighting in the oblast. The radio report gave no indication whether the latest attempt to institute a ceasefire has had any success. An earlier attempt, arranged by liberal leader Davlat Khudonazarov, was largely ignored by combatants. (Bess Brown) NEW UIGUR PARTY FORMED IN KYRGYZSTAN. Radio Rossii reported on 28 July that a party with the name "For a Free Uiguristan" had held a founding congress near Bishkek. The objective of the new party is the creation of an independent state in China's Xinjiang province. The creation of such a party is no surprise given the number of Uigurs living in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The example of the independent Central Asian states could hardly avoid inspiring Uigurs in Xinjiang as well as in the new states with hopes that they too can have an independent state. Uigur activities aimed at realizing this goal are likely to complicate relations between China and its new western neighbors, however. Both Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan look to China as a valuable trade partner. (Bess Brown) LEBED DIGS IN. Addressing a session of the self-styled "Dniester republic Supreme Soviet" on 28 July, Maj.-General Aleksandr Lebed, the new commander of Russia's 14th Army in Moldova, said that his Army can not withdraw from Moldova for at least another 15 years, a Radio Liberty correspondent reported from Tiraspol. Lebed claimed that most of the Army's officers and NCOs were "local inhabitants"a claim made repeatedly by Russia's military leaders recently in attempting to counter international demands for the Army's withdrawal. In fact, almost all of that Army's officers and NCOs are natives of the former Soviet republics, mostly of the Russian Federation, who were sent to Moldova for military service in the last years of Soviet rule. (Vladimir Socor) MOLDOVAN REFUGEE PROBLEM GROWING. The number of officially registered Moldovan refugees from the left to the right bank of the Dniester has grown to 50,377 as of 22 July, the Moldovan government's Commission for Refugee Problems announced on July 24, Moldovapres reported. The actual number is presumed to be somewhat higher, as the authorities have not managed to register all refugees. Refugees from right-bank villages occupied by left-bank Russian insurgents are also not included in that figure. The majority of the refugees are peasant women and children. (Vladimir Socor) UKRAINIAN OPPOSITION COALITION. The Kiev regional organization of the Congress of National Democratic forces held its founding congress in the Ukrainian capital on 26 July, DR-Press and Radio Ukraine reported. The organization adopted its programmatic principles, a statement, and a statute. Participating in the meeting were representatives of the Ukrainian Republican Party, the Democratic Party of Ukraine, "Rukh," and other national democratic parties and groups. The Congress is scheduled to meet in Kiev on 2 August. (Roman Solchanyk) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN FIGHTING UPDATE. Hajrudin Somun, an advisor to Bosnian president Alija Izetbegovic, claims that on 28 July up to 60 Yugoslav Army tanks crossed the border from Serbia into Bosnia to relieve the northwest Bosnian town of Brcko, where Serb forces have been surrounded by Muslim fighters. The Yugoslav Army General Staff in Belgrade denied the allegation, claiming that Bosnian Muslim leaders were attempting to provoke foreign military intervention. Sporadic artillery and gunfire was reported in Sarajevo. Serb and Croat military commanders are due to hold talks on 29 July aboard the British warship HMS Avenger to discuss the disengagement and withdrawal of their forces around Dubrovnik. The Avenger is in the Adriatic as part of the WEU fleet that is monitoring compliance with UN sanctions. (Gordon Bardos) DIPLOMATIC INITIATIVES. A second day of EC-sponsored talks on the Bosnian civil war on 28 July made little progress. Bosnian foreign minister Haris Silajdzic demanded that a ceasefire be implemented before any negotiations could begin. Another sticking point is the EC's plan for drawing up a new constitution for Bosnia-Herzegovina, which envisions a cantonization of the republic with each ethnic group having significant control over its own territory. Serb and Croat leaders have accepted the EC plan in principle, but Muslim officials continue to demand a unitary state structure. In Geneva the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, is holding a one-day conference on 29 July to deal with the growing refugee problem in the former Yugoslavia. More than two million people have been driven from their homes by the fighting thus far. (Gordon Bardos) SERBIAN GOVERNMENT SEEKS CONTROL OF POLITIKA. Radio Serbia reports on 28 July that Serbia's parliament is expected to vote today on a government proposal to acquire majority ownership of Belgrade's oldest newspaper, Politika. The government says it wants to protect the paper's assets. Journalists say they will hold a general strike if the measure is passed, calling it a blatant attempt to ensure government control of the media. A spokesman for the independent journalists union at Politika told the RFE/RL Research Institute that the government has targeted Politika in recent months because of the daily's coverage of the activities of Serbia's opposition parties. The union spokesman predicts widespread public opposition: "all of Serbia has sprung to its feet, sending a clear message to the government to keep its hands off." (Milan Andrejevich) POLISH STRIKES FUELED BY UNION RIVALRIES. Fiat threatened on 28 July to pull out of an agreement to buy a 90% share in the FSM auto plant in Tychy, where workers have been on strike for a week. The strikers want wages equal to 10% of the market value of a Cinquecento auto. In a pattern followed elsewhere in Poland, Solidarity has withdrawn from the strike and opened negotiations with management, whereas the Solidarity 80 splinter union has tried to sharpen the protest. FSM has moved to press legal charges against strike organizers. The continuing strike at the Polska Miedz copper combine has forced the gradual shutdown of furnaces as copper supplies are exhausted. One Solidarity local has abandoned that strike. Solidarity 80 threatened on 28 July to declare a national strike unless the government withdraws energy price hikes planned for 1 August. Solidarity issued a more moderate protest, calling for efforts to limit the impact of the increases. (Louisa Vinton) BUDGET CRISIS FOR POLAND? During a cabinet meeting on 28 July, Deputy Prime Minister Henryk Goryszewski warned that revenue shortfalls threaten Poland with a crisis of public finances. In the first half of 1992, revenues were only 39% of the year's planned total. Without scheduled price hikes and rigorous tax enforcement, the budget deficit could reach 8-9% of GDP by year's end, well exceeding the 5% maximum set in the budget. Finance Minister Jerzy Osiatynski called the shortfall a "service" of the ousted Olszewski government, which put off necessary spending and delayed raising sales taxes. Meanwhile, Labor Minister Jacek Kuron indicated that some state firms could gain exemptions from the excess wages tax as of 1 January 1993. Only firms with high profits and no outstanding tax obligations would be eligible. (Louisa Vinton) ANOTHER ESTONIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. The Estonian National Independence Party announced on 28 July that it had nominated its chairman, Lagle Parek, for president, the RFE/RL Estonian Service reports. Parek, one of the former Soviet Union's leading female dissidents, was born in 1941. She was deported to Siberia as a child with the remainder of her familySoviet occupying troops had shot her father, an officer in the Estonian Army. In 1982 Parek received a sentence of 8 plus 3 years for anti-Soviet political activity, but she was released early in 1987. Since 1989 she has been the chairman of the ENIP, Estonia's first alternative political party to the ECP. So far, four other candidates for president have been posted. (Riina Kionka) FATE OF CZECHOSLOVAK-EC ASSOCIATION TREATY. Commenting on his talks with EC officials, Czechoslovak Foreign Affairs Minister Jozef Moravcik told CSTK on 28 July that in case Czechoslovakia splits, the two new states would have to negotiate their own association treaties with EC. However, should the level of integration and cooperation between the two new states remain at least at a level corresponding to that enjoyed by current EC members, the EC would be willing to apply to both successor states the terms of the current association treaty with Czechoslovakia, signed in December 1991. Moravcik said that owing to changing conditions on European markets, the terms of new association treaties will be less advantageous than those of the current treaty between Czechoslovakia and EC. (Jiri Pehe) KLAUS, MECIAR TO VISIT HUNGARY. Czech and Slovak prime ministers Vaclav Klaus and Vladimir Meciar have accepted invitations by Hungarian prime minister Jozsef Antall to visit Hungary in the near future, MTI reported on 28 July. The invitations were conveyed by state secretaries Gyula Kodolanyi and Tamas Katona during recent talks in Prague and Bratislava. With Meciar Katona discussed Hungarian-Slovak cooperation, the situation of the Hungarian minority, and the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros hydroelectric power project. MTI described both sets of talks as "exceptionally open, constructive, and pragmatic." (Edith Oltay) TRANSYLVANIAN HUNGARIANS ESCALATE PROTESTS. On 28 July Prime Minister Theodor Stolojan and Romania's two secretaries of state at the Department for Public Administration received a joint delegation of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (HDFR) and Democratic Convention from Harghita and Covasna Counties, Radio Bucharest reports. The delegation informed the premier on the reaction of the local population to the replacement of Magyar by Romanian prefects. HDFR president Geza Domokos said his organization will call on the population of the two counties to escalate the protest and, if the government will not revise its decision, the HDFR will call on the population to wear white arm bands in protest. Domokos's statement was carried in Romania libera on 27 July. (Michael Shafir) UKRAINIAN VISIT TO ROMANIA. Anatolii Voronkov, Ukrainian minister for foreign economic relations, was received on 28 July by Romanian prime minister Stolojan and conducted talks with foreign affairs minister Adrian Nastase and other officials, Radio Bucharest reports. The two sides explored possibilities of expanding economic relations and signed several agreements on economic and scientific-technical cooperation. (Michael Shafir) HUNGARIAN-UKRAINIAN JOINT COMMITTEE MEETS. The Hungarian-Ukrainian Joint Minority Committee held its first meeting in Budapest on 28 July, MTI reports. The committee was set up in the wake of the signing last May of a declaration on ethnic minority rights that grants minorities not only individual but also group rights. The committee's task is to review the situation at regular intervals and work out proposals concerning minority affairs with the participation of minority representatives. Geza Entz, Hungarian state secretary and head of the Office for Hungarians Abroad, called the setting up of the committee "exemplary" and said that Hungary hopes to set up similar committees with all neighboring countries. (Edith Oltay) NARVA MEETING CALLS FOR REPRESENTATION. A group of 50 representatives of non-Estonian organizations met in a closed-door session in Narva last weekend to hammer out plans for their own representative body. The meeting passed a resolution establishing an 11-member directorate, which includes some former Intermovement leaders. The directorate will prepare for elections to the "Representative Assembly," probably to be held alongside the Estonian general election on 20 September. The assembly does not seek an alternative parliament or to engage in international relations, but to influence internal Estonian politics. The Estonian press has been silent on the Narva meeting, which was closed to journalists. The RFE/RL Estonian Service broke the story on 28 July. (Riina Kionka) ESTONIA SUSPENDS SOME MILITARY LEADERS. Pending investigation of Monday's incident between the Estonian Defense Forces and the Russian Navy, the Estonian government on 28 July suspended all Defense Forces General Staff officers from duty, BNS reports. A government commission has been formed to look into the dispute. (Riina Kionka) DENMARK "SHOCKED" BY SOVIET TROOP BEHAVIOR. Danish Foreign Minister Uffe Ellemann-Jensen told reporters on 28 June that his government is "shocked by the way Russian troops behave themselves in Estonia," BNS reports. After hearing about Monday's incident between Estonian Defense Forces and the Russian Navy, Ellemann-Jensen said "such behavior is a brutal violation of international law and once again highlights the need to withdraw foreign troops from the Baltics." Ellemann-Jensen spoke in Tallinn after signing an economic cooperation agreement with Estonia. (Riina Kionka) JUNDZIS: RUSSIAN MILITARY CONCEPT KEEPS OLD SPIRIT. Latvian defense minister Talavs Jundzis described a draft Russian military concept, distributed to an international seminar in Moscow on 13-15 July, as hiding the old imperialistic spirit behind a veil of peaceful notions, Diena reported on 27 July. Jundzis expressed concern about such ill-defined expressions as "potential enemy" and "strategic balance" and the freedom of action that Russia would like to reserve for itself, including defense of its nationals abroad, intervention in potential military conflicts between CIS states, and unspecified reaction in case troop strengths or foreign forces increase in bordering countries. According to Jundziz, the draft also states that political or economic pressure could also provoke hostilitiesa notion that Jundzis finds menacing, since Latvia is trying to place political pressure on Moscow to hasten the pullout of ex-USSR forces. (Dzintra Bungs) LITHUANIA PROPOSES MEETING ON TROOP WITHDRAWAL. On 27 July Lithuania suggested that the next meeting of the delegations be held in Vilnius on 4 August, Radio Lithuania reports. Parliament chairman Vytautas Landsbergis has accepted a proposal to meet Col. Gen. Leonid Mayarov, new commander of the Northwest Group of Forces, in Vilnius on 30 July. (Saulius Girnius) ZHIVKOV MAY FACE 10-YEAR SENTENCE. Concluding the case against Bulgaria's former president and Communist Party leader Todor Zhivkov on 28 July, prosecutor Krasimir Zhekov demanded a 10-year jail term, Western agencies report. Zhivkov is accused of embezzlement of 26.5 million leva in state funds that he allegedly used for buying flats and Western cars for his family and other high-ranking communist officials. (Kjell Engelbrekt) BULGARIAN COUNTERESPIONAGE AND PARTY POLITICS. "The desire of political forces to gain control of the National Counter-Espionage Service is causing information leaks," its Director Maj. Gen. Brigo Asparuhov charged in a rare public appearance on 28 July. According to BTA, Asparuhov told a press conference in Sofia that he and his colleagues are strongly opposed to political meddling in their work but that they hope new legislation will clarify their status. He said Bulgarian counterespionage currently concentrates on international terrorism, illegal trafficking in arms and technology, and ethnic problems. (Kjell Engelbrekt) GERMAN-LITHUANIAN SEA TRANSPORT AGREEMENT SIGNED. On 28 July Jonas Birziskis, Lithuanian transportation minister, and Wolfgang Grobl, first deputy German transportation minister, signed an agreement granting each other's ships the same rights as native ships in German and Lithuanian ports, Radio Lithuania reports. Grobl's delegation arrived on 27 July for a five-day visit. That day he held talks with Prime Minister Abisala and on 28 July with Landsbergis on the signing of international transportation treaties, financing reconstruction of Lithuania's railroads, favorable credits for purchasing railroad cars, and the further development of the Klaipeda-Mukran ferry with particular attention to the transfer of ex-USSR troops from Germany. (Saulius Girnius) [As of 1200 CET]
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