|To live is so startling, it leaves little time for anything else. - Emily Dickinson|
No. 152, 11 August 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR YELTSIN SIGNS LAW ON CLOSED TERRITORIES. Russian President Boris Yeltsin signed a law on 10 August that closed all regions of the country involved in developing, producing, storing or utilizing weapons of mass destruction, processing radioactive materials, and accommodating military or other facilities which require a special security regime, ITAR-TASS reported. The law also reportedly contains provisions on procedures for the creation or abolition of such territories, for the redrawing of their borders, and for determining their budgets, administrative agencies, and social guarantees for their residents. The law is to go into effect within 14 days of its publication, except for an article on the budgeting, which will take effect on 1 January, 1993. (Stephen Foye) BLACK SEA FLEET COMMANDER HINTS HE MIGHT BE SACKED. Admiral Igor Kasatonov, the commander of the Black Sea Fleet, said in a 10 August interview with "Vesti" that he was satisfied with the recent agreement on the Fleet worked out by Presidents Yeltsin and Kravchuk. "I'm a serviceman and I will fulfill any orders," he said. Commenting on statements that the Ukrainians were trying to get rid of him, the Admiral said, "No matter who wants to get rid of me, we will have to work [together] for at least three to four months." (Doug Clarke) OFFICIAL DENIES CARRIER TO BE SOLD TO CHINA. Nikolai Kruglov, the deputy head of the Mikolaev (Ukraine) administration, has denied recent reports that the ex-Soviet aircraft carrier "Varyag" would be sold to China. Kruglov acknowledged the Chinese offer, but stressed that the fate of the ship had to be determined by the governments of Russia and Ukraine, ITAR-TASS reported on 10 August. He said that a special commission had been formed to study the situation and make recommendations to the two governments. "Even if we wanted to sell the aircraft carrier...we couldn't do so," said Viktor Antonov, Ukrainian Minister of Industry. He explained that the ship was only 70% complete, and its construction, and that of 30 other ships, had been suspended after Russia cut off supplies to the shipyard. (Doug Clarke) RUSSIAN-TATARSTAN TREATY READY BY END AUGUST? Commenting on the current treaty negotiations between Russia and Tatarstan. Tatarstan Vice-president Vasilii Likhachev said that Russia has agreed to Tatarstan's demands on a number of issues and that, by the end of August, the final text of the treaty will probably be ready for presentation to the Russian and Tatarstan presidents, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 8 August. Valerii Tishkov, chairman of the Russian State Committee for Nationality Affairs and a member of the Russian delegation in the treaty talks, was less optimistic. Tishkov said Tatarstan was still insisting on an interstate treaty in the classic sense, which was unacceptable to Russia. Tishkov suggested the issue could only be resolved by a meeting of the two presidents. (Ann Sheehy) NO POSTPONEMENT OF INDUSTRIAL UNION MEETING. The Russian parliamentary faction "Industrial Union" has denied a request by President Yeltsin to postpone the All-Russian session of manufacturers, Interfax reported on 10 August. The faction's leader, Yurii Gekht, said that it was pointless to postpone the meeting as 2,000 people from 80 Russian regions had confirmed their participation, and it would go ahead as planned on 13-14 August. Last week, it had been announced that the session would be postponed to 17-18 September. The meeting is expected to demand radical changes in the implementation of the government's reform program. (Keith Bush) PRICE OF RUSSIAN ENERGY EXPORTS TO CIS. The Russian cabinet meeting on 6 August dealt primarily with the federation's trade and economic relations with other CIS member states, including the payment of arrears and the tightening of customs controls. According to ITAR-TASS, Russian Economics Minister Andrei Nechaev told the meeting that Russia would have earned an additional 540 billion rubles during the first quarter of 1992 had it exported energy carriers to the CIS at world prices. In the event, it earned only 33.2 billion rubles. (Keith Bush) RUSSIAN ECONOMISTS PESSIMISTIC. A poll of 563 government, academic and business economists in Russia revealed that a majority sees no recovery until at least 1994. The results of the survey, taken by a Moscow University public opinion service and summarized by ITAR-TASS on 10 August, show that only 11% think the economy will stabilize this year and 15% next year. Some 53% of those polled are "certain" that the government's program for converting the ruble won't work, while 61% felt that the ruble would "soon" be devalued to the rate of 200-250 to the US dollar. (Erik Whitlock). HOUSING CONSTRUCTION DOWN BY TWO-THIRDS. Details on Russia's mid-year performance continue to trickle out of Goskomstat. Construction of housing was down 33% in the first six months of this year as compared to the same period last year. The drop has been most significant in rural areasnearly 50%. According to Interfax on 10 August, officials at Goskomstat predict total housing construction by the end of the year will have fallen to a little more than half of what it was in 1991. (Erik Whitlock) ANOTHER ESTIMATE OF RUSSIAN UNEMPLOYMENT. The International Fund for Economic and Social Reforms estimates that more than 5 million persons will be registered in Russian job centers by mid-1993, with 3.5 million being officially unemployed, Interfax reported on 10 August. The Fund reckons that Russia at present has no serious program for dealing with employment problems and that it is basically pursuing a policy of "patching up holes." Most official estimates of unemployment in Russia by the end of 1992 have been reduced from 6 million to 2 millionevidently in anticipation of a relaxed credit policy and only partial implementation of bankruptcy legislation. (Keith Bush) MINISTRIES OF STATE SECURITY AND INTERNAL AFFAIRS JOIN PRIVATIZATION COMMITTEE. "The Coordinating Committee for the Introduction of Privatization Vouchers" includes representatives from the Russian ministries of security, internal affairs and presidential state and legal department (GPU), according to Ekonomika i zhizn, No. 31. Among them are the chief of MVD Main Administration for Economic Crimes, Vyacheslav Saltaganov; the deputy security minister Nikolai Lisovoi, and the deputy chief of the GPU, Andrei Voikov. (Victor Yasmann) RUSSIAN SECURITY MINISTRY TO PUBLISH NEW JOURNAL. The Russian Security Ministry plans to publish its own journal called Sluzhba Bezopasnosti, the ministry's spokesman Aleksei Kondaurov told the RFE/RL Research Institute on 7 August. The editorial board of the journal includes First Deputy Security Minister Nikolai Golushko, Deputy Security Minister in charge of cadres Vasilii Frolov, Deputy Security Minister in charge of science and technology Anatolii Bykov. The journal intends to become a forum for discussion about cooperation with other intelligence services, to provide information on the day-to-day activities of the security ministry, and to publish memoirs by former KGB officials. (Alexander Rahr, Moscow) NEW CONSERVATIVE COALITION IN BELARUS. BelInform-TASS on 10 August reported the formation of a coordinating committee of social and political movements and organizations supporting "political and social stability in Belarus." The coalition includes the Party of Communists of Belarus, the Fund in Defense of Servicemen, the Republican Committee of Mothers of Servicemen, the Slavic Council "White Rus," and others. A spokesman for the coalition says that it will number half a million members, and that it intends to take part in forthcoming parliamentary elections as a bloc. The coalition has as its objective to resist "the breakdown of the [Belarus] population according to nationality and preserve the interethnic ties that have been formed over the centuries." (Roman Solchanyk) CAMPAIGN IN DEFENSE OF UKRAINIAN COMMUNISTS. The public action committee, "For the Repeal of Anti-Constitutional Decisions on the Banning of the Communist Party of Ukraine" has appealed to the Ukrainian parliament, the constitutional court, and to political parties, social organizations, and movements demanding that the ban on the Communist Party of Ukraine and other "anti-constitutional and discriminatory acts" directed against the party be lifted. The appeal was reported by Ukrinform-TASS on 10 August. The party was outlawed by the Presidium of the Ukrainian parliament on 30 August 1991. (Roman Solchanyk) CRIMEAN COMMUNISTS OFFICIALLY REGISTERED. The Union of Communists of Crimea has been officially registered as a "public organization," Ukrinform-TASS reported on 10 August. The group, which is led by the former first secretary of the Crimean Obkom, Leonid Hrach, claims to have 14 city and raion organizations and about 10,000 members and has as its main goal the facilitation and protection of social, economic, and national and cultural interests. (Roman Solchanyk) SHEVARDNADZE TO STAND AS PARLIAMENTARY CANDIDATE. Georgian State Council Chairman Eduard Shevardnadze told the newspaper 24 in an interview that he would stand as a candidate in the Georgian parliamentary elections to be held on 11 October, ITAR-TASS reported on 10 August. Whether Shevardnadze will stand as an independent candidate, or as a representative of a political party, was not specified. (Liz Fuller) COMMANDER OF ARMENIAN ARMY NAMED. ITAR-TASS reported on 10 August that Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan has appointed Lt. Gen. Norad Ter-Grigoryants as first deputy defense minister of Armenia and commander of the Armenian Armed Forces. Ter-Petrossyan remains armed forces commander-in-chief. According to ITAR-TASS, Ter-Grigoryants is 56 years old and had served previously as the deputy chief of the USSR ground forces main staff. He also reportedly headed an operational group in the Turkestan Military District and then served on the staff of the 40th Army in Afghanistan. (Stephen Foye) UZBEKISTAN LIMITS CONTACTS WITH TAJIKISTAN. Moscow TV on 9 August reported that starting on 10 August passengers would be removed from Dushanbe-Tashkent trains at the Uzbek border unless they could demonstrate that they had official permission to enter Uzbekistan. According to the report, the Dushanbe authorities are considering the action to be yet another indication of Uzbek fears that Tajikistan will export Islamic revolution; it could also be intended to stop the flow of Uzbek-speaking refugees from Tajikistan. (Bess Brown) TAJIKISTAN TO SELL ENRICHED URANIUM? "Ostankino" TV reported on 9 August that, according to Megapolis Ekspress, Tajik businessmen are planning to sell enriched uranium abroad and representatives of various states, including Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Pakistan have made inquiries. When a similar story emerged in the Moscow media early in 1992, Tajik officials angrily denied it and commented that Tajikistan had no enriched uranium to sellits mines are exhausted and the country has no enrichment plant. (Bess Brown) TAJIKISTAN TO HAVE OWN CURRENCY? Although Tajikistan wants to remain in the ruble zone, authorities in Dushanbe are considering introduction of a national currency, the "Somon," and have consulted a Canadian firm about printing banknotes, according to ITAR-TASS on 10 August. The same firm was approached on the issue of setting up a joint enterprise to print official documents and passports. (Bess Brown) ANTI-MONOPOLY LAW IN UZBEKISTAN. Uzbekistan's anti-monopoly law reportedly went into force on 8 August, according to Russian TV on 7 August. The law places restrictions on prices set by firms presently enjoying monopolies and forbids government authorities to engage in commercial activities, or serve in any capacity in non-governmental enterprises. The law is one of several statutes signed recently by President Islam Karimov that are intended to encourage the development of private enterprise in the republic, including foreign trade and investment. As of 1 August, all tariffs on imports were abolished until 1994, along with customs duties on imported food, medicines and medical equipment. (Cassandra Cavanaugh) UZBEK CONSUMPTION OF MEAT AND DAIRY PRODUCTS DOWN. Results of a study by the Uzbek Republican Center for Sociological Research, according to Russian TV on 9 August, revealing that 4.5% of Uzbeks have stopped eating meat entirely, while the majority of the have begun to consume meat, milk and fresh vegetables only once or twice a week. According to official statistics in the former Soviet Union, Uzbeks consume much less meat than Russians, averaging only 8 kilograms per capita annually compared to an all-Union average of 67 kg. The data from the study will be used to calculate the cost of a basic market basket of products, which the government will use to determine the necessary level for price subsidies. (Cassandra Cavanaugh) MOLDOVA MOURNS WAR CASUALTIES. Moldova observed a day of national mourning on 10 August to commemorate the victims of the war on the Dniester. Religious ceremonies were held throughout Moldova except in areas held by "Dniester" insurgents. In a message to the people of the republic, President Mircea Snegur deplored "the senseless and barbaric war which has been imposed upon this peaceful land" and asked the people to "forgive me for not having been able, as your president, to protect young [soldiers'] lives from this calamity," Moldovapres reported. Meanwhile, the cease-fire is holding and no casualties have been reported since 1 August. (Vladimir Socor) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE SECURITY COUNCIL VOTE ON BOSNIA RESOLUTIONS? The international media on 10 and 11 August continued to be filled with reports of alleged atrocities at mainly Serbian-run camps in Bosnia-Herzegovina and elsewhere in the former Yugoslavia. Bosnian Serb officials announced on 10 August they would soon close two of the supposedly worst centers, but some Western reporters said that prisoners were simply being moved around among camps previously opened to limited inspection. Meanwhile in New York, the US, Britain, France and Belgium hope to bring to a vote perhaps on 13 August two resolutions in the Security Council. One, circulated on 10 August, authorizes the use of force "nationally or through regional agencies or arrangements" to ensure delivery of relief supplies "to Sarajevo and wherever needed in other parts of Bosnia-Herzegovina." The other demands "immediate, unimpeded, and continued access to camps" and urges local authorities "in particular those of Serbia and Montenegro and all military forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina" to end human rights abuses. Finally, as the debate continues in the Western press about what the international community can and should do in Bosnia, 12 US Air Force cargo-handling specialists arrived at Zagreb airport to help the UN relief effort. (Patrick Moore) RUSSIAN STANCE ON YUGOSLAVIA. Statements by the leaders of a Russian parliamentary delegation currently in Serbia indicate sympathy for Serbia. Evgenii Ambartsumov, chairman of the Committee on International Affairs and Foreign Economic Ties, told ITAR-TASS on 10 August that the purpose of the trip is to overcome the one-sided position that the international community has adopted in the Yugoslav conflict. "We intend," he added, "to make efforts to dispel some myths, particularly the myth of the concentration camps on the territory of Yugoslavia." Constitutional Affairs Committee chairman Oleg Rumyantsev said Russia should adopt a much more active position regarding aid to the new Yugoslavia, especially "during such a dangerous time, when the threat of foreign military intervention is real," TASS paraphrased. Both parliamentarians criticized the MFA's handling of the Yugoslav crisis. Ambartsumov said Russia's position on Yugoslavia may change at the international conference on Yugoslavia to be held in London. (Suzanne Crow) PANIC IN ATHENS AND TIRANA. Radio Serbia and international media on 10 August report that the prime ministers of Greece and the rump Yugoslavia support an EC-sponsored international conference in Belgrade on the future of Kosovo. Constantine Mitsotakis and Milan Panic said in Athens also talked about the independence of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Panic said Yugoslavia would recognize the independence of Bosnia-Herzegovina if Bosnia had a "legitimate government" in which Muslims, Serbs, and Croats are equally represented. In Tirana Panic assured Albanian prime minister Aleksander Meksi that the violence in Bosnia will not be repeated in Kosovo. He announced that the Kosovo conference will be held as early as next week and will be attended by the Yugoslav government, leaders of Kosovo's Albanians, and Greece as the EC observer. Meksi said his government supports the right of Kosovo's Albanian majority to self-determination. Panic is reportedly willing to discuss autonomy but not full self-government for the Serbian province. Hundreds of protesters in Tirana greeted Panic waving Albanian flags and denouncing Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic. Last month Milosevic and Yugoslav president Dobrica Cosic rejected a British proposal for an EC conference on Kosovo. (Milan Andrejevich) KOSOVO TO RECEIVE SERB REFUGEES? Slobodan Popovic, Serbia's commisioner for refugees announced that the city of Belgrade can no longer handle the flood of displaced Bosnian Serbs and that most refugees will now be resettled to other parts of Serbia, many in Kosovo. On 10 August Radio Serbia reported that Popovic acknowledged that resettling Serbs into Kosovo is risky and did not exclude the possibility of violence. The Serbian Red Cross is concerned that the transfer of some of Belgrade's 140,000 Serb refugees into Kosovo will inflame political tensions. Meanwhile, Ibrahim Rugova, the president of the self-proclaimed Republic of Kosovo, repeated his call for UN military forces as the only means of averting major violence between Albanians and Serbs. In an interview with the Berliner Zeitung on 10 August, Rugova stated the the danger of ethnic war in Kosovo has become "awfully great." (Milan Andrejevich) LITHUANIA PREPARES FOR NEGOTIATIONS WITH RUSSIA. On 10 August Minister without Portfolio Gediminas Serksnys, the coordinator for negotiations with Russia, told the RFE/RL Lithuanian Service that Lithuania is changing 7 of the 14 members in its group of experts delegation due to the Russian decision that the talks will cover wider issues than just Russian troop withdrawal from Lithuania and is bringing in more legal experts. Serksnys was pessimistic about the planned meeting on 11 August since the head of the Russian delegation, Viktor Isakov, has made the "odd suggestion" that the delegations "exchange opinions" on the progress of the groups of experts working on various bilateral questions. Serksnys fears that this indicates that the Russian side was only prepared to discuss issues and not make concrete decisions, probably explaining as in past meetings that it lacks the authority to do so. (Saulius Girnius) ESTONIA DEMANDS APOLOGY. The Estonian government on 10 August agreed with the findings of a special commission investigating the 2 August incident at a former Soviet naval installation that "Russia is entirely responsible for the incident and an official apology is in order." Commission chairman and state minister Uno Veering told BNS that the commission regards the Russian military's use of force in Tallinn "a denial of Estonia's sovereignty that constitutes a gross violation of international law." Russian authorities maintain that Estonia provoked the incident in which two soldiers were injured. (Riina Kionka) RUSSIAN NAVY PLANS TALKS ON SHIP WITHDRAWAL FROM BALTIC. ITAR-TASS on 10 August reported that Adm. Vladimir Chernavinonce the head of the CIS Navy but now identified as a Russian admiralarrived in Kaliningrad that day. He leads a delegation of Russian naval officers whose mission is to "monitor combat training of the Baltic Sea Fleet" but he and his group will also discuss questions pertaining to the withdrawal of Russian ships from the territory of the Baltic States, according to an official of the fleet's press center. (Doug Clarke) ESTONIA-PETERSBURG AGREE ON REEMIGRATION. A joint Estonian-Petersburg-Leningrad Oblast commission has agreed in principle to guidelines paving the way for reemigration into Russia. According to BNS on 10 August, Russia is willing to take reemigrants, but cannot foot the bill. Leningrad Oblast, for its part, has agreed to make available land and to sell housing under construction to the reemigrants. A final agreement is expected to be ready for signing by 20 August. (Riina Kionka) JURKANS: LATVIA'S CITIZENSHIP LAW NOT LIKELY IN 1992. Latvia's foreign minister told the press on 7 August that it is unlikely that Latvia will adopt a citizenship law this year, BNS reports. He pointed out that a "law on citizenship is not merely our internal affairforeign policy and especially our relations with Russia greatly depend on our domestic policy. We cannot permit the appearance of a large number of residents without citizenship in Latvia." He added that "many people came to Latvia from Russia without realizing that they had come to a state that was once an independent country. Our duty is to understand the fate of these people, who, like we, are victims of the [Soviet] system." (Dzintra Bungs) DIGNITARIES TO ATTEND TOMASEK'S FUNERAL. According to Western agencies, "diplomatic sources" in Prague said on 10 August that the funeral of Cardinal Frantisek Tomasek on 12 August will be attended by a number of high foreign and local dignitaries, including a number of heads of state. Presidents Thomas Klestil of Austria and Lech Walesa of Poland plan to attend the ceremonies at St. Vitus Cathedral in Hradcany Castle, as do Prime Minister Jozsef Antall of Hungary and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. According to the reports, Kohl is also scheduled to meet with Czech prime minister Vaclav Klaus. Tomasek, who played a key role in toppling the communist regime in 1989, will be buried in the tomb of Prague's bishops in St. Vitus Cathedral. (Jiri Pehe) OPPOSITION CANDIDATE ON ROMANIAN ELECTORAL CAMPAIGN. Emil Constantinescu, presidential candidate for the Democratic Convention, met on 10 August with supporters in Suceava. The convention regroups Romania's main opposition parties and organizations. Radio Bucharest quoted Constantinescu as saying that "the inflation of presidential nominees, just like the inflation of parties, aims at diverting public attention from the serious problems of society." More than 20 candidates will compete on the tickets of different parties and alliances in the presidential race scheduled for 27 September. There are currently some 150 parties in Romania. (Dan Ionescu) PROTEST AGAINST FORMER KING'S VISIT TO ROMANIA. On 10 August the Timis county chapter of the Democratic National Salvation Front (DNSF) issued a statement protesting the decision of Nicolae Corneanu, Orthodox Metropolitan of the Banat, to invite Romania's exiled King Michael to attend religious celebrations at Timisoara on 15 August. The communiqué, which was read on Radio Bucharest, described Michael's planned visit as "a provocation aiming at destabilizing the country" during the current electoral campaign and called for its cancellation or postponement. The DNSF, which split from the ruling National Salvation Front in April this year, nominated president Ion Iliescu as its candidate for the 27 September elections. (Dan Ionescu) CZECHOSLOVAK RESPONSE ON GABCIKOVO. Czechoslovak federal prime minister Jan Starsky's letter to Hungarian prime minister Jozsef Antall was given to the Hungarian Foreign Ministry yesterday, MTI reports. It represents the first official response to Hungary's unilateral cancellation in May 1992 of the 1977 interstate treaty regulating the construction of the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros hydroelectric dam system. Details of the letter were sketchy, but according to a radio report no new ideas were proposed. A willingness to negotiate was expressed, but the Czechoslovaks did not indicate a willingness to suspend construction. (Karoly Okolicsanyi) RADICAL POLISH UNIONS TRY TO POLITICIZE STRIKES. Poland's radical unions have made a further move to take control over and politicize the several strikes in Poland. The National Interunion Negotiating and Strike Committee, set up by the leaders of five postcommunist unions and Solidarity 80 at the Polska Miedz copper combine on 7 August, met at the Fiat auto plant in Tychy on 10 August, supported the auto workers' illegal strike, and drew up a list of 21 demands. The committee called on the government to begin negotiations on these demands by 14 August, failing which, the radical unions will begin organizing a nationwide general strike. The 21 points, which include such sweeping demands as a departure from the current privatization law, protection of the domestic market against "the flood of foreign capital," elimination of taxes paid by enterprises, and the cancellation of enterprises' debts and cash flow problems, are intended to be reminiscent of the 21 demands of the Interfactory Strike Committee in Gdansk in August 1980 that paved the way for the rise of Solidarity. The government has rejected such comparisons as unfounded. (Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka) POLAND'S BUDGET NEEDS REVISION. Finance minister Jerzy Osiatynski told journalists on 10 August that the critical state of public finances most evident in the increasing budget deficit has necessitated a revision of this year's budgetary legislation. The amendments should aim to reduce expenditure and provide new sources of income, possibly by the issue of additional state bonds. He promised to introduce systemic measures to overcome the state budgetary crisis next year. At the same time, Osiatynski said that the general state of the Polish economy suggests that it is stabilizing. (Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka) UNEMPLOYMENT IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC. According to new data, released by the Czech Ministry of Labor on 10 August, unemployment in the Czech Republic has dropped by about 0.2% in comparison with May. There are now 140,167 unemployed people, or 2.67% of the work force, in the Czech Republic. In Prague the rate of unemployment is only 0.3%. In contrast, there are about 338,000 unemployed people, or 13.5% of the work force, in Slovakia. (Jiri Pehe) CIS DRUGS PASS THROUGH LATVIA. According to Aleksandr Kostenko of Latvia's Internal Affairs Ministry, Latvia is being used as a transit point by drug traffickers from the CIS to Scandinavia and Western Europe, BNS reported on 7 and 10 August. He said that Latvia lacks the facilities and the professional expertise to halt "the drug mafia," which specializes in ephedrine, poppy seeds, and opium. During the past year 148 drug-related crimes have been committed in Latvia. (Dzintra Bungs)
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.