|Every custom was once an eccentricity; every idea was once an absurdity. - Holbrook Jackson|
No. 151, 10 August 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR RUSSIAN-MOLDOVAN TALKS. On his first visit abroad, Moldova's new prime minister, Andrei Sangheli, headed a government delegation for talks with Russian Acting Prime Minister Egor Gaidar and other Russian officials in Moscow on 7 and 8 August. According to Moldovan media reports, the delegation obtained the resumption of Russian fuel and raw material deliveries contracted for 1992, which had come to a standstill in June in what President Mircea Snegur and other Moldovan officials had charged were Russian "economic sanctions" against Moldova. Gaidar told ITAR-TASS that Russia was "satisfied with the new Moldovan government's constructive approach to the whole range of issues in Russian-Moldovan relations, its moderation and realism, and its evident wish to work toward the stabilization of the situation in the region." Gaidar and Sangheli also agreed that the two governments would set up a joint commission to settle questions connected with the status of Russia's 14th Army in Moldova. (Vladimir Socor) ARMENIAN PRESIDENT PROTESTS AZERBAIJANI AGGRESSION. In a telegram to those CIS heads of state who signed the collective security agreement in Tashkent in May, Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan condemned as "the beginning of an undeclared war" the Azerbaijani attack on the Armenian enclave of Artsvashen in western Azerbaijan and requested that the cosignatories "fulfill their obligations to the Republic of Armenia by using political, military or other means to prevent a war," ITAR-TASS reported on 9 August. (Liz Fuller) A MONROE DOCTRINE FOR RUSSIA? The chairman of the Committee of International Affairs of the Russian parliament, Evgenii Ambartsumov, called for the development of a Russian foreign policy doctrine similar to the US Monroe Doctrine. In a secret document, cited by Izvestiya on 8 August, he proposed that the G-7 should assign Russia the role of guarantor of political and military stability on the territory of the former USSR, including the Baltic states. He emphasized Russia's need to protect Russian minority rights and Russia's military presence in other CIS states. He stated that the independence and stability of Chinese foreign policy should serve as a model for Russia. (Alexander Rahr, Moscow) RUTSKOI ADDRESSES COSSACKS. Russian Vice-president Aleksandr Rutskoi, addressing a two-day meeting of the Council of Atamans in Moscow on 7 August, suggested there should be a department for Cossack affairs in the Russian Center for Land and Agro-industrial Reform, and a department for the rehabilitation of the Cossacks in the Russian State Committee for Nationality Affairs, ITAR-TASS reported. Rutskoi noted that they could revive their military traditions by creating Cossack units and battalions within regiments and also serve on contract. The Council of Atamans, which represents over 70 Cossack organizations of Russia and several other CIS states, was meeting to discuss implementation of recent Russian legislation on the rehabilitation of the Cossacks. (Ann Sheehy) RUTSKOI SAYS THE CRIMEA IS RUSSIAN. During his address to Cossack leaders, Rutskoi once again staked Russia's claim to Crimea, Western agencies reported. Rutskoi said that he did not recognize any agreements that gave Russian land to other countries. "The Crimea was Russian," he asserted, "it's covered with Russian blood, and it must be Russia's." Rutskoi's position conflicts with that of President Boris Yeltsin, who has stated that the Crimean question is an internal Ukrainian matter. (Roman Solchanyk) SHAKHRAI ON SECURITY COUNCIL. Former presidential legal advisor, Sergei Shakhrai, believes that if the putschists had the same law on security and the same functioning organ as the present Security Council, they would not have needed to proclaim emergency rule in the country through unconstitutional measures. Shakhrai told Komsomolskaya pravda on 8 August that he would welcome the authoritative structures of the new council if they were directed toward stabilizing reform but warned that the council seems to have escaped control of democratic institutions and has fallen into the hands of hardliners who want a return to the administrative-command system. (Alexander Rahr, Moscow) COMMUNISTS SATISFIED WITH CONSTITUTIONAL COURT HEARINGS. At a press conference on 6 August, representatives of the Communist Party expressed their general satisfaction with the conduct of the hearings by the Russian Constitutional Court, Interfax reported. Valentin Kuptsov, former central committee first secretary of the Russian Communist Party, declared, "we managed to successfully block Yeltsin's decision to put an end to the CPSU since 7 July, and Sergei Shakhrai's intention to prove the unconstitutionality of the Party in 40 minutes." He said, that in his opinion, the Party's witnesses had proven that the CPSU was not a state structure, and that they had managed to debunk the widely-spread myths of Party participation in the August 1991 coup attempt and of countless hidden riches of the CPSU. (Carla Thorson) LUKYANOV'S LAWYER WITHDRAWS FROM COUP CASE. The attorney for former USSR Supreme Soviet Chairman Anatolii Lukyanov (accused of complicity in the August 1991 coup attempt) has asked to be taken off the case because he doesn't want to be part of a political show trial. Nezavisimaya gazeta of 7 August published a letter which lawyer Genrikh Pavda sent to Lukyanov in prison, in which Pavda argued that the case against the coup plotters is not about the administration of justice but a political settling of accounts. He also suggested that the charges against Lukyanov should be dropped because neither the state nor the authorities against which the coup plotters allegedly conspired still exist. (Carla Thorson) RUSSIAN TROOPS IN GERMANY DESTROY ARMS BUT MAY NOT DISBAND. Troops of the Russian Western Group of Forces (WGF) in what was once East Germany began destroying some of their weapons on 8 August in accordance with the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty. Western agencies reported that they began dismantling 2,500 armored vehicles in Wuensdorf, the Group's headquarters. The previous day ITAR-TASS had reported that Russia might not disband the 8th Guards Army when it is withdrawn from Germany. (The 8th Guards Army is one of five ex-Soviet armies that made up the WGF. Two of its four divisions were withdrawn in 1991 and the remainder are scheduled to be pulled out this year.) Valerii Shuikov, the secretary of the Russian parliament's committee for defense and security, was quoted as saying that the 8th Armywhich fought at Stalingrad and Berlinwas sacred for Russia, adding that "sacred things are never thrown away." (Doug Clarke) BELARUSIAN MILITARY WILL TAKE OATH IN DECEMBER. Belarusian Defense Minister, Col. Gen. Pavel Kozlovsky was quoted in the Minsk newspaper Vo Slavu Rodiny on 7 August as saying that all officers and warrant officers of the Belarusian armed forcesregardless of their nationalityhad the right to choose a state for their further military service before they took an "oath of enlistment." In a summary of the article by ITAR-TASS, Kozlovsky was reported to have said that the majority of those who wished to serve in other republics had already left Belarus, and those who had not taken "the final decision" would have time to decide. The Belarusian oath would be administered in December of this year. The minister said that by then the republican parliament would have passed the necessary laws to create a solid legal basis for the national forces, and for the social protection of servicemen. (Doug Clarke) RUSSIAN ARMS PURCHASES TO DECLINE. Russian arms purchases from the former Soviet military industrial complex will decline by 68% from last year and the amount of money allocated to funding military scientific research will fall by 16%, according to Deputy Prime Minister Georgii Khizha. He met on 7 August with directors of St. Petersburg's major enterprises and representatives of commercial banks, Interfax reported. Khizha said that a reshaping of the defense industries must take place, but that the process would take at least ten years. (Stephen Foye) GAIDAR AND GERASHCHENKO COMPROMISE ON NEW CREDITS. The clash between government and central bank policy-makers over inter-enterprise debts appears to have been resolved. The Central Bank will assume financing of a significant portion of these debts, but not as much as chairman Gerashchenko originally intended. Details of the compromise, as reported by Western agencies and Russian TV on 7 August, are still not clear, however. Originally, sources claimed that the inflation-wary Gaidar had negotiated the new credit or cash issue down to total 500 billion rubles. On 9 August, "Ostankino" TV carried a report that suggested the sum would amount to only 350 to 400 billion rubles. (Erik Whitlock) GAIDAR ON FOREIGN AID, DEBT. Prime Minister Egor Gaidar said that Russia would use the $1.04 billion dollar loan received recently from the IMF to bolster low hard currency reserves. Gaidar noted that added reserves would give Russia much need flexibility in dealing with foreign creditors, according to ITAR-TASS on 8 August. The prime minister also has discounted stories that Russia will assume the foreign debts of other former Soviet republics, Interfax reported on 7 August. He added, however, that Belarus and Turkmenistan have offered to hand over claims on former Soviet assets in return for Russia taking on their debt. (Erik Whitlock) SLUMP IN OIL PRODUCTION TO PERSIST. Russian Energy Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin expects oil production to continue to fall into next year, Western agencies reported on August 7. The announcement follows the release of figures by Goskomstat showing oil output down 13% at mid-year from last year's June mark. The International Energy Agency, according to the 7 August Wall Street Journal, has forecast total oil output of the former Soviet Union dropping from an average 10.4 billion barrels a day in 1991 to 9.2 billion this year. The agency predicted that daily production will be under 9 billion barrels by the fourth quarter of this year. (Erik Whitlock) STATE TO PAY MORE FOR FARM PRODUCTS? A grain harvest two weeks behind schedule and growing peasant dissatisfaction may force the Russian government to raise the price it pays for agricultural output. Vice-president Aleksandr Rutskoi has called for a significant rise in grain prices, Interfax reported on August 8. Earlier in the week, on 5 August, according to Russian TV, Gaidar suggested that such a hike would occur soon and result in higher consumer food prices by fall. (Erik Whitlock) YAVLINSKY AND THE RUSSIAN GOVERNORS. The well-known Russian economist Grigorii Yavlinsky, who now heads a non-government economic think tank organization in Moscow, has invited all local administrative leadersor governorsto Nizhnii Novgorod in September to discuss the state of the Russian economy, a local official from Nizhnii Novgorod told the RFE/RL Research Institute on 7 August. The governors are supposed to develop alternative proposals for the government. Yavlinsky, a strong critic of the Gaidar government, is presently touring Russian provinces seeking personal political support and insights into economic problems in the periphery. (Alexander Rahr, Moscow) TURKMEN PIPELINE PROJECT PROCEEDING. The only concrete development project to emerge from the May regional summit between Iran, Turkey, Pakistan and four of the Central Asian states was the construction of a pipeline to ship Turkmen gas to Europe via Iran and Turkey. A coordinating council has now been formed to design and carry out the project, Turkmenpress-TASS reported on 7 August. The council is supposed to arrange for foreign construction bids and set up a consortium of Turkmen organizations and foreign investors to carry out the construction and utilization of the pipeline. Earlier in the year, Iranian officials promised major assistance to Turkmenistan in the pipeline project, but Iran probably lacks the resources to make such a contribution. (Bess Brown) NEW PRESS LAW IN KYRGYZSTAN. Kyrgyzstan's new law on the press was published on 7 August; the Kyrgyztag-TASS report noted that despite revision by the Supreme Soviet, the law contains many prohibitions. These include giving information about juvenile offenders or current judicial investigations without the written permission of the State Prosecutor's Office. The press is also prohibited from inciting violence or ethnic friction, revealing commercial and state secrets, insulting religious feelings or using offensive language. (Bess Brown) FEWER UNAUTHORIZED CROSSINGS AT THE AFGHAN-TAJIK BORDER. Officials of the Central Asian border district told a Khovar-TASS correspondent on 7 August that the number of Tajiks trying to slip across the Afghan border had declined. But Tajiks who had already crossed in May and Juneduring the confrontation between the government and opposition in Dushanbeare now attempting to return home with weaponry acquired in Afghanistan. In the last two weeks some 40 such border-crossers have been caught, the officials reported. They also claimed that a training camp for Tajiks has been set up in the Afghan border village of Imamsahib, where trainees are provided with weapons and instructions on fighting the existing order in Tajikistan. (Bess Brown) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UN DISCUSSING MILITARY INTERVENTION; VATICAN URGES ACTION. International media report on 8 and 9 August that the US, Great Britain, and France are nearing an agreement with other members of the UN Security Council on a resolution approving the use of force if necessary to ensure that humanitarian aid reaches civilians in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Security Council members, however, are expressing reluctance on committing ground forces. The Vatican renewed its appeal for intervention in Bosnia-Herzegovina, cautioning the international community against "cynical indifference." An editorial in L'osservatore romano explained that the Vatican is not advocating armed intervention, but rather asking that the world community "not be passive in the face of barbarity." (Milan Andrejevich) BOSNIAN MUSLIMS APPEAL FOR WEAPONS. Muslim leaders of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina are appealing for weaponsout of the necessity for survival. Speaking in Islamabad, Pakistan, Foreign Minister Haris Silajdzic condemned Europe's apathy toward the bloodletting in his republic and reiterated his plea to Muslim countries to intervene by providing military hardware and humanitarian aid. Pakistan's foreign minister Mohammed Saddiq said that his country is pledging $70 million in humanitarian aid and loans to Bosnia-Herzegovina. During a visit to Teheran, Silajdzic also criticized Islamic countries for indifference. Bosnia's UN ambassador, the US-raised banker Muhamed Sacirbey, told CNN on 7 August that if the West does not want to intervene militarily, then Bosnia should at least be supplied with weapons for purposes of self-defense. Bosnian president Alija Izetbegovic told reporters on 9 August that he welcomes President Bush's statement that Americans should not die in Bosnia, explaining that Bosnia has plenty of able men but lacks the necessary weapons. (Milan Andrejevich) PANIC WANTS CAMPS CLOSED; MEETS MITSOTAKIS. Milan Panic, prime minister of the rump Yugoslavia, told reporters on 7 August that he will order the Bosnian Serbs to dismantle the internment camps within 30 days, adding that he will personally remove Karadzic as leader of Bosnia's Serbs if the camps are not closed. Panic also met with Croatian prime minister Franjo Greguric in Hungary, where the two agreed to exchange 1,100 prisoners of war. On 10 August Panic is scheduled to meet with Greek prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis in Athens to discuss the overall situation in the Balkans, bilateral relations, and the Macedonian question. Panic plans to recognize Macedonian independence, which Greece opposes. Later in the day Panic travels to Tirana to meet with Albanian leaders. According to Radio Serbia, Kosovo is on the agenda. While in Athens and Tirana, Panic is also planning to discuss the creation of a Balkan economic association. (Milan Andrejevich) MECIAR ON THE FUTURE OF SLOVAKIA. Speaking at a meeting of the Slovak Heritage Foundation in Martin on 8 July, Slovak prime minister Vladimir Meciar said that Slovakia does not want to orient itself toward the East but will be forced to do so if the West "shuts the door on Slovakia." Meciar also said that the world wants Slovakia to maintain democratic development and respect the rights of national minorities. In Meciar's opinion, if Slovakia complies with these requirements, its integration into Europe will be without problems. He argued that "only our own mistakes can halt the process." Meciar also said that Slovakia will not be a destabilizing factor in Europe, nor will it be isolated within Europe. (Jiri Pehe) SUCHOCKA RESTATES GOVERNMENT'S WILL TO ACT. Poland's prime minister Hanna Suchocka has pledged that her month-old government will be "a working government." In a public relations visit to her hometown of Poznan on Friday, Suchocka met with the local Catholic Church hierarchy, local government officials, and members of the public. She reaffirmed her determination to present within one month specific action programs in the five priority areas identified last week. She said that her government is doing something constructive for the state and contrasted that with the activity of strike leaders whom she accused of "anarchizing" the state. (Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka) MORE BALTIC REACTION TO FOREIGN MINISTERS MEETING. On 7 August Radio Lithuania read a statement by parliament chairman Vytautas Landsbergis on the talks between the Russian and Baltic foreign ministers. The statement noted that some of the "wishes" expressed by Russia can be viewed as interference in internal matters. Russia's desire to maintain strategic objects in the Baltic States contradicts the 10 July declaration of the CSCE in Helsinki that call for the "early, orderly, and complete withdrawal of foreign forces." Russia should take note, he said, of the 14 June referendum in Lithuania that called for the complete withdrawal of its troops this year with suitable compensation for damages. He also regretted that Russia has not given a concrete reply to the schedule for withdrawal that Lithuania had presented in June. The same day Andrejs Krastins, deputy chairman of the Latvian Supreme Council, told the press that Latvia cannot agree to the conditions offered by the Russians for the withdrawal of troops or to having foreign troops on its territory. Latvia's foreign minister Janis Jurkans said earlier that he will be able to breathe easy only after the last Russian soldier is gone, BNS reports. (Saulius Girnius & Dzintra Bungs) YELTSIN'S LETTER TO ANTALL. Ivan Aboimov, the Russian ambassador to Hungary, handed a letter from the Russian president to Prime Minister Jozsef Antall on 7 August, MTI reports. Yeltsin reinforces the understanding between the two countries regarding financial claims involved in the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Hungary last year. It was agreed that Hungary will not reimburse Russian for the cost of military facilities and materiel left behind, nor will Hungary be reimbursed for the environmental damage caused by the Russian troops. Antall expressed hope that the agreement will be signed in Budapest and that with this problem solved, attention can now focus on paying back Hungarian trade surpluses. (Karoly Okolicsanyi) BULGARIAN SATISFACTION WITH YELTSIN VISIT. Assessing the results of the visit by Russian President Boris Yeltsin on 3 and 4 August, leading politicians and economists have expressed satisfaction over the signing of a friendship treaty. On 7 August, Foreign Minister Stoyan Ganev noted that the treaty is a very positive and pragmatic means of improving bilateral relations. The treaty includes an agreement to cooperate in providing Bulgaria access to the former USSR's communist party archives, as well as those of the KGB and the foreign ministry. In Otechestven vestnik of 6 August, presidential advisor on economic affairs Boyan Slavenkov said the outcome exceeds most expectations. While he did not comment on the unsolved problem of $500 million in Russian debts, Slavenkov said he was pleased that several barter deals were underway, especially those ensuring oil imports. (Kjell Engelbrekt and Duncan M. Perry) HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ENDS BALTIC VISIT. Geza Jeszenszky returned from a three-day visit to Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuaniathe first high ranking Hungarian visit to the area. Hungarian Radio said his talks focused on three main areas: visa-free travel, enhanced economic relations, and a Hungarian offer to mediate diplomatically between the Baltic States and the Russian Republic. (Karoly Okolicsanyi) EXILED KING PLANS SECOND VISIT TO ROMANIA. Radio Bucharest announced on 8 August that former King Michael will pay another visit to Romania soon. The tour will include Timisoara, cradle of the December 1989 revolution, and Brasov, a Transylvanian city where workers staged the first anticommunist revolt in 1987. Michael plans to attend religious ceremonies on St. Mary's day (15 August) at the Orthodox cathedral in Timisoara, whose construction he sponsored in the early 1940s. Last April Michael was cheered by enthusiastic crowds on his first visit back in his homeland. Michael recently declined an offer to run for the presidency in the elections scheduled for 27 September. (Dan Ionescu) POLISH LABOR ROUNDUP. Talks on 7 August between the government and officials of Solidarity and the postcommunist OPZZ labor alliance on compensating workers for energy price increases were inconclusive. Solidarity's National Commission continues talks with the Labor Ministry today. OPZZ expects to continue talks later on in the week. Strikes are continuing in three major industrial plants and new protest actions are threatened this week at the Tarnowskie Gory rail junction and the Warsaw Steelworks. National leaders of all the major unions except Solidarity met with the striking Polska Miedz copper miners and pledged to start organizing a nationwide general strike if the government persisted with its policy of nonintervention and did not act to bring about an agreement between the striking miners and their management by today. OPZZ has called today for nationwide solidarity demonstrations with the striking workers. (Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka) UNEMPLOYMENT IN SLOVAKIA. According to new data, released by the Slovak Statistical Office on 8 July, there are now 338,000 unemployed people, or about 13.5% of the work force in Slovakia. This represents an increase over May, when 283,000 people, or 11.3% of the work force, were reported unemployed in Slovakia. (Jiri Pehe) BULGARIAN UNEMPLOYMENT DATA SHOW INCREASE. Velik Vanov, Bulgarian minister of finance, reported in an interview printed in Kontinent on 6 August, that as of 17 July, some 490,000 people were unemployed in Bulgaria. Western media quoted him a day later that the current unemployment figure is 506,094 or 13% of the active work force. Vanov noted that experts estimate the figure will climb to about 750,000 by the end of 1992, although he expects the number to be more like 620-630,000. He compared these figures to 1989 when about 850,000 or 25% of the work force of 3.5 million was out of work. (Duncan M. Perry) SOCIAL CONDITIONS IN BULGARIA. In the same interview Vanov indicated that a majority of Bulgaria's 1.5 million pensioners will realize a pension increase effective 7 August. Before the onset of the new program, the average pensioner received 508 leva per month (about $22). Under the new program the average monthly pension rate will increase to 715 leva, or about $31. (Duncan M. Perry) HUNGARIAN HUMOR WEEKLY IMPOUNDED. The Budapest prosecution office's investigating department ordered all copies of this week's Heti Szuper Pszt! to be sized because of a government complaint about an article referring to Foreign Minister Geza Jeszenszky MTI reports. The action was taken in conformity with a 1978 law making the distribution of libelous materials illegal. (Karoly Okolicsanyi) ROMANIA CRACKS DOWN ON ILLEGAL WHEAT SALES. The government ordered heavy penalties for anybody who sells wheat outside official trade channels. Rompres said on 8 August that the move is directed at eliminating black market sales of wheat and wheat flour. All state farms will have to sell their 1992 entire wheat crop (with the exception of seed grain for next year's planting) to the Romcereal state corporation. Violators face fines of up to 100,000 lei and other penalties. (Dan Ionescu) CENTRAL BANK OF RUSSIA DISLIKES LATVIAN RUBLE. The Central Bank of Russia has frozen the corresponding account of the Bank of Latvia, as a consequence of Latvia's monetary reform of 20 July. At that time Latvia went over entirely to its own interim currency, the Latvian ruble. Earlier the CBR reduced the technical credit from 3 billion to 500 million rubles for the Bank of Latvia. This latest step has further undermined Latvian-Russian commercial activities: the Bank of Latvia is at this time insolvent and new contracts on deliveries from Russia cannot be concluded until the balance rises at least 0.5%. The Latvians hope that the account might be restored by the end of August. (Dzintra Bungs) NO EX-GDR WEAPONS FOR HUNGARY. Relations with Germany will not be damaged after Chancellor Helmut Kohl's decision not to sell Hungary weapons from the ex-GDR's arsenal, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung reports in its weekend edition, quoting an advisor to Prime Minister Antall. A lead editorial in Nepszabadsag on Friday said that the German decision may force Hungary to buy Russian weapons and confirms that Hungary is in a crisis area, not to be supplied by weapons according to the German constitution. (Karoly Okolicsanyi) "THE WANDERING ESTONIAN:" HAVE WASTE, WILL TRAVEL. An Estonian-registered ship carrying three tons of radioactive waste finally sailed out of Ukrainian territorial waters on 8 August after several weeks of negotiating for docking privileges, BNS reports. The Heltermaa, christened "The Wandering Estonian" by local journalists, has been seeking a port since the early summer, when Bulgaria refused it docking rights. The ship has been anchored 9 kilometers off the coast of Odessa since 31 July, when authorities from all Ukrainian ports collectively decided to provide the ship with a fresh crew and supply food, but not to allow the Heltermaa to dock. The ship will reportedly try Russia's Black Sea ports next. (Riina Kionka)
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