|The only certainty is that nothing is certain. - Pliny the Elder|
No. 148, 05 August 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR GEORGIA LAUNCHES POLICY OF NATIONAL RECONCILIATION. On 4 August, the ruling Georgian State Council announced the end of the state of emergency and curfew imposed in Tbilisi in January and an amnesty for some supporters of ousted Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia as part of a policy of national reconciliation, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. How many people will benefit from the amnesty is not clear; unofficial lists exist of 250 persons arrested since January for their political affiliation, but the total number of political prisoners is estimated at several thousand. (Liz Fuller) CSCE KARABAKH TALKS ADJOURN. The CSCE-sponsored talks in Rome on resolving the Karabakh conflict adjourned on 4 August without reaching a compromise, Western media reported. The Armenian delegation from Karabakh had boycotted the final day, alleging that the Italian chairman had gone back on an agreement to grant them special status as a negotiating party. (Liz Fuller) THE POWER OF THE RUSSIAN SECURITY COUNCIL. The Russian Security Council, under its secretary, Yurii Skokov, has already taken power into its hands and controls the entire government with the exception of the Foreign Ministry, Nezavisimaya gazeta claimed on 4 August. It also apparently controls the entire information flow to the president and all cadre appointments. The decision to appoint General Lebed as commander of the 14th Army in Moldova, according to Nezavisimaya gazeta, was taken by the Security Council against Boris Yeltsin's will. The council has also reportedly taken over the functions of the former State Council which, at one time, was viewed as a potential "super-ministry" for general politics. (Alexander Rahr, Moscow) KOZYREV DEFENDS HIS FOREIGN POLICY. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev has denounced his critics from the right in an article in Trud on 4 August. He rejected the so-called Eurasian line in foreign policy, arguing that Russia should seek admittance into the family of democratic, developed nations with a market economy. He termed all calls for a separate Russian way as an effort to prevent Russia from joining Western democracies. Kozyrev said that in the event that the Eurasian line prevails, Russia would need a new foreign minister and a new president. He also rejected the idea of creating a separate CIS ministry on the grounds that this would humiliate other CIS states. Finally, he accused his former allies, such as former Moscow Mayor Gavriil Popov and parliamentary chairman Ruslan Khasbulatov, of opposing his policy because of their own personal ambitions. (Alexander Rahr, Moscow) CHINA REPORTED READY TO BUY EX-SOVIET CARRIER. A Japanese newspaper is the latest source to carry the persistent rumor that China plans to buy an unfinished aircraft carrier once destined for the Soviet navy. On 4 August, Sankei Shimbun reported that China and Ukraine had reached an agreement on the purchase of a 67,500-ton "Kuznetsov"-class aircraft carrier with the public announcement of the sale to come soon. While not identified by name, the ship in question is the "Varyag" which was fitting out in a Mikolaev shipyard when the USSR disintegrated. Ukraine offered the ship for sale through a Norwegian broker. (Doug Clarke) VOLSKY WARNS OF "SOCIAL EXPLOSION." In an interview in Izvestiya of 4 August, Arkadii Volsky, president of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (industrial lobby) and a leader of the Civic Union, warned of the danger of a "social explosion" in the streets. "The policies of the reformist government are on the brink of collapse," Volsky maintained. "Immediate and radical changes in social and economic policies are necessary." Volsky also criticized the proposed program of rapid privatization. Another member of the Civic Union, Evgenii Molkin, during a news conference on 4 August, called for wage indexation and strict regulation of the ruble exchange rate. (Keith Bush) INDUSTRIAL LOBBY PROPOSES OWN PROGRAM. The "industrial lobby" has presented its alternative reform program, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 August. The alternative program rejects the priority of financial stabilization laid out in Gaidar's program and proposes instead to revive the Russian economy through a strengthening of the country's scientific-technological centers. The "industrial lobby" hopes to implement its program by September. An economic advisor to President Yeltsin, Konstantin Zatulin, told Nezavisimaya gazeta on 5 August that the head of the "industrial lobby," Arkadii Volsky is widely regarded as a potential successor to Gaidar should the alternative program be implemented. (Alexander Rahr, Moscow) "RENEWAL" PARTY CONFERENCE RESCHEDULED. The "Renewal" Party, which is backed by Russia's powerful "industrial lobby," has rescheduled from 15 August to 17-18 September a major conference to be held in Moscow. During the conference, "Renewal" is expected to unveil its own economic reform program, billed as an alternative to the Gaidar program. The program has already won enthusiastic backing from Russian Vice-president Aleksandr Rutskoi. It was drawn up by a team led by Yurii Yaremenko, director of the Institute for National Economic Forecasting. Yaremenko, a former part-time adviser to Mikhail Gorbachev, was the author of an alternative concept of conversion drawn up toward the end of the perestroika period. (Elizabeth Teague) DEADLOCK ON RUSSIAN DEBT CANCELLATION. Russian Economics Minister Andrei Nechaev told Interfax on 4 August that the government has ordered the Central Bank to reverse its decision canceling debts owed by enterprises. But in Izvestiya, Central Bank Chairman Viktor Gerashchenko defended his controversial instructions of 28 July to the bank's settlement agencies. He conceded that the debt forgiveness had disadvantages "but what other alternative do we have?" Gerashchenko's first deputy also supported the debt cancellation in an interview with ITAR-TASS. The Central Bank answers to parliament, and it is not clear what the governmentwhich is split on this issue can or will do if the bank holds firm. (Keith Bush) IMF STILL TO GRANT LOAN. Recent worrisome events in Russian economic policy-making are not expected to delay the first $1 billion loan from the IMF, according to Reuters on 4 August. Observers noted that international political support for the loans is strong enough to override current concern over the future of Russian economic reforms. Final approval of the money is scheduled for this week. Russia and the IMF are reportedly planning to sign agreements on additional IMF credits in October. (Erik Whitlock) CONSTITUTIONAL COURT WARNS YELTSIN AGAINST WITHHOLDING WAGES. Constitutional Court Chairman Valerii Zorkin sent a letter to President Yeltsin informing him that delays in wage and pension payments by the state violate Russia's laws and constitution, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 August. Zorkin noted that the court had received over 100 appeals from those whose wages, pensions, scholarships and holiday allowances have been held up. Such actions, Zorkin stated, threaten people's right to live. He asked Yeltsin to take immediate action on this problem. The letter is merely a warning, however, and has no legal force. (Brenda Horrigan) AVERAGE WAGES IN RUSSIA. The Russian Goskomstat has calculated that the average monthly wage of workers and employees in the federation during the first half of 1992 was 2,880 rubles, Radio Rossii reported on 4 August, quoting IMA-Press. This was 7.8 times higher than in the first half of 1991. The growth of money wages offset the increase in prices by only one-half, according to the report. The cost of a weekly basic foodbasket in Moscow in July was given as 368 rubles. (Keith Bush) RUSSIAN CONSUMER PRICE INDEX THROUGH JUNE. The consumer price index in Russia during the first half of 1992 was up by 982% over December 1991, Rossiiskaya gazeta reported on 25 July. The index measures changes in retail prices in state, cooperative, and private trade and in consumer services, based on the prevailing structure of consumption during the previous year. (Keith Bush) CONGRESS OF NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC FORCES IN UKRAINE. The new coalition of political parties and groups that joined forces at the Congress of National Democratic Forces in Kiev on 2 August has been characterized as a new "Rukh," Molod Ukrainy reported on 4 August. The analogy was made by Mykola Porovsky, a "Rukh" leader. The new coalition includes the Ukrainian Republican Party, the Democratic Party of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Language Society "Prosvita," the Union of Ukrainian Students, and other groups. "Rukh," which effectively split in the spring and is now headed by Vyacheslav Chornovil, has not joined the coalition. The coalition supports President Leonid Kravchuk but at the same time has called for the resignation of the Cabinet of Ministers, new parliamentary elections, and Ukraine's abandonment of the CIS. (Roman Solchanyk) SITUATION IN TAJIKISTAN. An article in Nezavisimaya gazeta of 4 August said that the agreement reached in Khorog at the end of July by the various opponents in Tajikistan's civil war has apparently led to a degree of reconciliation in Kulyab Oblast, where much fighting has taken place. A second meeting of the agreement's signatories took place on 1 August; leaders of the opposition parties in Dushanbe are unhappy that President Rakhmon Nabiev has not participated in either of the meetings and he is again being accused of lack of leadership in efforts to stop the fighting. ITAR-TASS noted on 4 August that few weapons have been surrendered under the terms of the Khorog agreement. (Bess Brown) TURKMEN FOREIGN MINISTER RESIGNS. Interfax reported on 4 August that Turkmen Foreign Minister Avdy Kuliev had resigned for unspecified health reasons. Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov was reported to have announced that he plans to appoint Supreme Court Chairman Khalykberdy Ataev to replace Kuliev, who will become an ambassador-at-large. Kuliev has been one of the most active foreign ministers of the new Central Asian states, frequently traveling abroad to further Turkmenistan's international relations. (Bess Brown) Fourteen DIE OF MUSHROOM POISONING. Fourteen people, including 9 children, have died in recent days after eating bottled mushrooms in the central Russian region of Voronezh; 143 people have been hospitalized. ITAR-TASS said on 3 August that the poisoning was caused not because people eat poisonous varieties of mushrooms, but because those they ate had been badly preserved. The incident follows earlier reports from Moscow of food poisoning among people buying home-prepared food on the street or at markets. On 31 July, Russian TV also warned that rats are now a health hazard in St. Petersburg, where they are thriving on rubbish piling up in the streets. (Elizabeth Teague) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UN ASKS SERBIA TO OPEN CAMPS TO INSPECTORS. Major US dailies report on 5 August that the Security Council the previous evening demanded that international inspectors be allowed into detention camps, where numerous media reports say that Muslims and Croats are being systematically beaten, tortured, and killed. The US called on Serbia to admit Red Cross personnel to the sites and apparently was instrumental in bringing about the Security Council measure. Washington nonetheless seemed to distance itself on 4 August from its earlier stand on the camps, now claiming that, while the State Department has reports on the alleged Serbian death camps, it cannot confirm them and has no personnel in Bosnia-Herzegovina to do so. The Baltimore Sun adds that "despite the lack of confirmation, some officials worry that the actual story... could turn out to be even more horrible that refugees have described it." (Patrick Moore) BOSNIAN SERBS CLAIM THOUSANDS EXECUTED IN CROAT-MUSLIM CAMPS. The war of words over alleged atrocities escalated again on 4 August as Radio Serbia charged that over 6,000 Serbs have been executed in concentration camps set up by Muslim and Croat forces in areas of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Velibor Ostojic, minister for information of the self-proclaimed "Serbian Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina," stated that about 42,000 Serbs are being detained in more than 20 camps in Bosnia-Herzegovina, adding that in Sarajevo alone, there are another 22 camps for Serbs. He denied the existence of Serb death camps for Muslims and Croats explaining that Serbs have only set up "prisons for captured Muslim fighters." Ostojic invited representatives of international humanitarian organizations and the press to visit and verify their statements since, as they put it, "the Serb side has nothing to hide". Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic told British Sky News TV on 4 August that several British reporters have already inspected ten locations and found no concentration camps. He also alleged that arms and ammunition, mostly made in Turkey, are being parachuted in to the Muslim forces from planes carrying humanitarian aid to Sarajevo. To date, these allegations have not been confirmed. (Milan Andrejevich) SARAJEVO FIGHTING INTENSIFIES. Fighting worsened in Sarajevo on 4 August, and the UN closed Sarajevo's airport for three days. UN forces leader Gen. Lewis Mackenzie noted that "the situation is getting worse, not better." Over 500 flights of relief supplies have reached the airport since it was turned over to the UN by Serb forces. Water supplies to the city were allegedly cut by Serb troops in control of a reservoir outside Sarajevo. Bosnian president Alija Izetbegovic sent a letter to the UN Security Council again urging that the arms embargo on the former Yugoslav republics be lifted. In Belgrade Yugoslav prime minister Milan Panic said he was "deeply disturbed" by Izetbegovic's request, and that he would ask the UN to "forbid arms exports to the Balkans now and forever." A Turkish delegate to the UN Security Council also urged that the ban on arms exports be dropped, and suggested that Article 42 of the UN Charter, which authorizes the use of military force, be invoked to aid the Bosnians. (Gordon Bardos) ROMANIA COMPLYING WITH SANCTIONS AGAINST SERBIA. On 4 August US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe Thomas Niles told members of the Congress that Romania has pledged to respect the ban on oil shipments to Serbia and Montenegro. An RFE correspondent in Washington quoted Niles as saying that no Romanian oil is reaching the Yugoslav rump state, although some may have gotten through the embargo shortly after it had been imposed. Romania has repeatedly denied reports that it is breaking the embargo. (Dan Ionescu) YELTSIN CALLS FOR RECOGNITION OF MACEDONIA. World and local media report that at a joint news conference with Bulgarian president Zhelyu Zhelev in Sofia on 4 August, Russian president Boris Yeltsin said Russia must immediately recognize the Republic of Macedonia and called as well for international recognition for the ex-Yugoslav republic. Thus aligning himself with the Bulgarian position, Yeltsin said he and Zhelev would appeal to the European Community for recognition of Macedonia. The move predictably angered Greece, which objects to the establishment of a state using the name "Macedonia." In Athens the foreign ministry summoned the Russian ambassador to demand clarification of what the Greek government termed "an unfriendly act," the Greece Radio Network announced. (Charles Trumbull) RUSSO-BULGARIAN FRIENDSHIP ACCORD SIGNED. Yeltsin and Zhelev also signed a new treaty on friendship and cooperation on the 4th, BTA reports. Referring to the traditions of friendly relations as well as the "positive experience" of previous cooperation, the new accord outlines coordination in the political, economic, cultural, ecological and military fields. In particular, Russia and Bulgaria agree not to allow their territories to be used for aggression against the other party, to solve bilateral problems only by peaceful means, and to hold consultations in case regional security is threatened. Replacing the 1967 Soviet-Bulgarian treaty, the current document will be valid for ten years, and can then be renewed every five years. (Kjell Engelbrekt) OTHER RUSSO-BULGARIAN INITIATIVES. Several other important agreements were made on 4 August, the second day of Yeltsin's visit to Bulgaria. First, Bulgaria's deputy prime minister Ilko Eskenazi told BTA that an intergovernmental commission is to deal with bilateral economic, trade and scientific issues, including the some $500 million in Russian debts to Bulgaria. Second, an agreement on cooperation between the defense ministries of both countries was signed. Third, Russia and Bulgaria declared they will open all archiveseven those of the foreign ministries and secret services containing information on bilateral relations. (Kjell Engelbrekt) CARDINAL TOMASEK DEAD. The Archbishop of Prague and Primate of Bohemia and Moravia, Frantisek Cardinal Tomasek died on 4 August in Prague at the age of 93. According to various media reports he died of heart failure complicated by pneumonia. Tomasek, who spent several years in a forced labor camp, had been a symbol of nonviolent but resolute resistance to the communist regime for Czechoslovak Catholics and non-Catholics alike. During the dramatic events of November 1989 he openly called on Czechs and Slovaks to do away with the communist regime, thus giving the opposition crucial moral backing. The Cardinal's funeral will take place on 12 August in Prague. (Jan Obrman) POLISH GOVERNMENT SETS PRIORITIES. Meeting on 4 August, the Polish cabinet identified 11 priority goals and pledged to prepare detailed plans, deadlines, and legislative drafts to deal with five of them by the end of September. The top five priorities, presented as slogans, are: "restructuring and privatizing [state] enterprises," "opportunities for farming," "a just and secure state," "healthy public finances," and "social security for citizens." The government will also report on progress in the remaining six areasunemployment, economic growth and small business, education, housing, state administration, and regional economic restructuringby the end of September. Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka commented that "we will not transform the country in three months, but we can define what needs to be done to ensure that the program for Poland's development encompasses every individual's hopes and aspirations." The choice of priorities was the result of negotiations within the seven-party governing coalition. (Louisa Vinton) WALESA CLARIFIES STANCE ON STRIKES. Responding to the confusion surrounding President Lech Walesa's stance on the two-week old strike at the Polska Miedz copper combine, a spokesman explained on 4 August that the president would only attempt to mediate the conflict once the strikers return to work. The Polska Miedz management stressed that strikers' pay demands are unrealistic and that losses incurred so far will cut into the wage increases offered before the strike began. Privatization Minister Janusz Lewandowski said that restructuring the combine might free up some added funds but warned that continuation of the strike would bankrupt the firm, leaving more than 38,000 people out of work. Meanwhile, the management at the FSM auto plant in Tychy resolved to press ahead with legal measures against organizers of the strike there, which is illegal. (Louisa Vinton) ROMANIAN PREMIER PRESSES FOR FAIR ELECTIONS. On 4 August Theodor Stolojan attended a meeting of an experts' commission in charge of organizing the 27 September elections. In his address, which was broadcast by Radio Bucharest, Stolojan emphasized the government's interest in "free and fair parliamentary and presidential elections in Romania." He stressed the importance of the prefects' role in the electoral campaign, urging local government officials to refrain from favoring one party or the other. (Dan Ionescu) DEFENSE MINISTER ON ROMANIAN ARMY'S ROLE. On 4 August Nicolae Spiroiu addressed a conference marking the 75th anniversary of the World War I battles of Marasti, Marasesti and Oituz. Radio Bucharest quoted Spiroiu as saying that the army should "guarantee the sovereignty, independence, and unity of the [Romanian] state," at a time when "plans to federalize or break up" the European states created after the World War I are being "implemented in a hasty and brutal manner." The Romanian army will "discourage and repel any aggression against the Romanian state and people," the minister added. (Dan Ionescu) ESTONIA REDUCES TERM OF MILITARY SERVICE. The Estonian government has reduced the term of compulsory military service from 18 to 12 months, BNS reported on 4 August. According to Deputy Defense Minister Toomas Puura, the decision was made because of a shortage of professional officers and to lessen the economic burden on the state. (Riina Kionka) LITHUANIAN-US ACCORD ON WAR CRIMINALS. On 3 August Lithuanian Prosecutor-General Arturas Paulauskas and US ambassador to Lithuania Darryl Johnson (on behalf of the US Justice Department) signed a memorandum of cooperation, BNS reports. The two parties pledge to give each other all necessary assistance in tracking down and prosecuting persons suspected of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity during World War II on Lithuanian territory. The memorandum envisages the confidential exchange of information on suspects through diplomatic channels and assistance in obtaining copies of archive documents in the two countries. Lithuania has signed similar agreements with Australia and Scotland. (Saulius Girnius) ATTEMPT TO DEPOSE BANK OF LITHUANIA CHAIRMAN FAILS. On 4 August by secret ballot parliament voted 59 to 43 to depose Bank of Lithuania chairman Vilius Baldisis, Radio Lithuania reports. The motion failed, however, since it did not gain the needed 65 votes. In a subsequent vote the parliament unseated the bank's deputy chairmen and board of directors and instructed Baldisis to propose a new board to the parliament's presidium for confirmation. The fall session of the parliament will open on 10 September. (Saulius Girnius) ESTONIA ACCREDITS RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR. The Estonian Foreign Ministry sent a formal note of agreement to its Russian counterpart on 4 August regarding the appointment of Aleksandr Trofimov as Ambassador to Estonia, BNS reports. Trofimov, who was born in 1937, is a career diplomat who has served in Togo, Turkey, and Mali. Estonia rejected Russia's first nomination as ambassador, Artur Kuznetsov, because he holds Estonian citizenship and is a well-known figure in Estonian political life. (Riina Kionka) HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER TO ESTONIA. Hungary's Foreign Minister Geza Jeszenszky is scheduled to visit Estonia for the first time on 8 August, BNS reports. (Riina Kionka) KRASTINS: RUSSIA SHOULD WITHDRAW INTELLIGENCE NETWORKS. Latvian Supreme Council's deputy chairman Andrejs Krastins confirmed his views on Russia's intelligence gathering in Latvia to Diena and BNS on 3 August. He said that Latvia should press for the removal of Russian intelligence networks, especially in view of its "incorrect activities" regarding Latvia's internal affairs. Krastins added that these are his private views and he stands by them, even in light of a note from the Russian Foreign Ministry describing his earlier statements as unfriendly.(Dzintra Bungs) MEDICINE PRICES TO RISE IN HUNGARY. On 17 August prices will increase by an average of 12.5 %, the Hungarian Ministry of Social Welfare told Hungarian Radio. Because of the low price of medicine in Hungary, an official explained, consumption is higher than the international norm. In addition the social security system no longer has the funds to continue price supports. The use of antibiotics in particular has reached dangerous proportions and threatens to damage the health of patients, the official said. Twenty-two of the hundred most commonly used drugs in 1991 were antibiotics. (Karoly Okolicsanyi) POSTAL RATES UP IN LATVIA. Diena reported on 3 August that Latvia's postal service will raise its rates again this year. Nonetheless, the new rates will not cover the actual costs of the mail services. An airmail letter to the USA will cost 37.70 rubles, while a letter to Denmark, Finland, or Sweden will cost only 5 rubles owing to the direct air links with those countries. (Dzintra Bungs) NINA RICCI OPENS SHOP IN RIGA. The French fashion house has opened a shop in Riga, BNS reported on 4 August. Initially it will specialize in menswear and perfumes, but will handle orders for other products. It has exclusive distribution rights for Nina Ricci products in the Baltic States and is the only Nina Ricci shop in the ex-USSR since the shop in Moscow closed. (Dzintra Bungs)
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