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No. 153, 12 August 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR YELTSIN REJECTS DRAFT DEFENSE LAW. On 10 August, Boris Yeltsin refused to sign a draft law "On Defense" approved by the Russian Supreme Soviet on 26 June of this year. According to a "Vesti" report on 10 August, First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Filatov suggested that Yeltsin's objections to the draft were only of an "editorial" character. However, ITAR-TASS on 11 August said that Yeltsin objected to an article stating that the head of state needed the approval of the Supreme Soviet to appoint the Russian defense minister. Currently, he does not need that approval. The change appears to represent an effort by the Supreme Soviet to increase its powers in the national security sphere. ITAR-TASS reported that members of the Supreme Soviet Committee For Questions of Defense and State Security believe that the parliament will stand by its version of the law. (Stephen Foye) DRAFT STATUTE ON OFFICERS ASSEMBLIES UNDER FIRE. "Novosti" reported on 11 August that a draft statute regulating the activities of officers assemblies in the Russian army has been criticized by the Coordinating Council of the CIS Joint Forces Officers Assembly. The draft apparently grants officers the right to form assemblies only at the regiment level (or ship level in the navy). Therefore, according to the coordinating council, the assemblies would be unable to take up issues beyond the scope of those that would be discussed at the regimental level. The report did not say who had drafted the statute. Since its formation last year the coordinating council has attempted to play a major role in political negotiations between the former Soviet states, and clearly does not want to see its role circumscribed by the new statute. (Stephen Foye) RUTSKOI, KOKOSHIN PUSH RUSSIAN MILITARY AIRCRAFT. During his remarks at the opening of the "Mosaeroshow-92" aviation exhibition on 11 August, Russian Vice-president Alexander Rutskoi said he would urge Boris Yeltsin to support the country's aircraft design bureaus. According to ITAR-TASS, he said that it would take 20 to 30 years to make up the losses if the development of aviation stalls because of financial difficulties. At the same event, Russian First Deputy Defense Minister Andrei Kokoshin said that the development of military aviation had the highest priority and the Ministry of Defense would do everything possible to preserve the design bureaus and aircraft production enterprises. (Doug Clarke) LOYAL AIR FORCE OFFICERS PLANNED TO BOMB KREMLIN DURING COUP. The Germany news magazine Stern reported on 11 August that Soviet air force officers loyal to Boris Yeltsin had a contingency plan to bomb the Kremlin during the abortive coup one year ago. The magazine quoted Russian General Prosecutor Valentin Stepankov as claiming that the officers had decided to bomb the coup leaders had the coup forces launched an attack on the Russian White House, the seat of the Russian government. Stepankov also revealed that the trials of the coup leaders were not expected until the summer of 1993. (Doug Clarke) POLITICAL ORGANS IN MILITARY CONTINUE FUNCTIONING. The independent Institute of Foreign Policy issued a report on the state of affairs in the former Soviet Army in which it stated that the leadership of the CIS Armed Forces not only consists of former Soviet army commanders, the majority of whom sided with the putschists, but also still includes 50,000 political officers who continue to perform similar propaganda functions. It also claims that only 60 out of 389 generals from the former Main Political Administration have been retired. The report, which contradicts earlier official statements on the status of the military political organs, also noted that the CIS army leadership is resisting reform. The RFE/RL Research Institute has obtained a copy of this report. (Alexander Rahr, Moscow) YELTSIN'S CONTROL OVER ARMY QUESTIONED. General Aleksandr Vladimirov, a military expert of the Russian parliamentary faction of radical democrats told Stolitsa (no. 31) that Russian President Boris Yeltsin has lost control over the military. He asserted that the 23rd division of the Russian Army entered the battle in Nagorno-Karabakh at a time when Yeltsin and Defense Minister Pavel Grachev were outside the country, and even State Secretary Gennadii Burbulis, whom Yeltsin had left in charge, lacked the authority to stop these military actions. Vladimirov seems to have been referring to Russian military activity in NKAO in June when Yeltsin and Grachev were in Washington and then Dagomys, Ukraine. (Alexander Rahr, Moscow) GEORGIAN INTERIOR MINISTER KIDNAPPED BY GAMSAKHURDIA SUPPORTERS. Georgian Interior Minister Roman Gventsadze, together with a group of officials including an aide to State Council Chairman Eduard Shevardnadze, was taken hostage by supporters of ousted Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia in the western Georgian town of Zugdidi, Western agencies reported on 11 August. The officials had traveled to Zugdidi to negotiate the release of persons taken hostage earlier. (Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandre Kavsadze was taken hostage a month ago.) Shevardnadze subsequently warned in a TV address that the Georgian authorities were prepared to take "extreme measures" in order to secure the release of those kidnapped. (Liz Fuller) ZHIRINOVSKY'S PARTY BANNED. ITAR-TASS reported on 11 August that the Russian Justice Ministry has annulled the registration (carried out in April 1991 by the USSR Ministry of Justice) of the Liberal-Democratic Party of the Soviet Union. The misleadingly-titled party, which is led by Vladimir Zhirinovsky, was only the second party (after the CPSU) to be registered in the USSR. Now Russia's Justice Ministry says it is rescinding the party's legal status because irregularities occurred when the party was registered in 1991. The party is believed to have overstated the size of its membership in order to ensure registration, but the Russian Justice Ministry also criticized the fact that the party still uses the designation "of the Soviet Union" in its title. (Elizabeth Teague) PLANNED AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS' STRIKE IN RUSSIA CALLED ILLEGAL. The Russian general prosecutor has ruled illegal the general strike by Russian air traffic controllers planned to commence on 15 August, Izvestiya reported on 11 August. The air controllers demand a doubling of their salaries (which have risen during the past six months by a factor of 30) and the creation of an independent state committee for air traffic control. The general prosecutor has stated that the controllers' trade unions are not legally entitled to interfere in the work of state enterprises, and that strikes are banned at civil aviation enterprises. The trade unions have been warned that they will be held "criminally and materially" liable for the consequences of any strike. (Keith Bush) INDUSTRIAL UNION ECONOMIC PROPOSALS OUTLINED. Some of the draft proposals to be discussed at the conference of the Industrial Union that is scheduled to open on 13 August have been listed by Interfax on 11 August. Although the language is less than precise, many of these draft proposals envisage a sharp reversal of current economic policies. They include: the reimposition of state control over wholesale and retail prices; an "urgent" increase in the minimum wage and the monthly indexation of wages and pensions; and a "thoroughly balanced protectionist policy" in foreign trade. (Keith Bush) RUBLE HOLDS STEADY WITHOUT SUPPORT. The dollar rose by only 20 kopecks against the ruble at the last trading of the Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange, Bizness-TASS reported on 11 August. This is the third week running that ruble has maintained its 161-162 exchange value with virtually no interventions from the Central Bank, according to "Novosti" on 10 August. The Bank spent some $400 million on supporting the ruble in the first half of the year. The news that $250 million of the $600-million World Bank loan would be distributed through the exchange has led some observers to predict a 155-166 ruble-dollar exchange rate in the near future. (Erik Whitlock) SALTYKOV ON BRAIN DRAIN. Russian Minister of Science and Higher Education Boris Saltykov again raised the danger of a brain drain from Russia, Western agencies reported on 11 August. Saltykov speculated that several thousand top scientists had already left Russia. He said that the creation of international institutes was the best hope of keeping scientists in Russia. Saltykov spoke after talks with the German science minister who presented Russia with a DM 40 million aid program for 1992-93 in the fields of space exploration and science. (Sarah Helmstadter) RUSSIA INVITED TO JOIN SDI RESEARCH. An RFE/RL correspondent reported on 11 August that Edward Teller, who directed the building of the first US hydrogen bomb, urged Russian scientists at an international conference on defense technology and the environment in Dubna, to cooperate in Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) research. In the same speech, Teller claimed SDI elements could be adapted for use in environmental protection; for example, devices developed for missile detection could also detect pollution or natural disasters. (Brenda Horrigan) INCIDENTS ON UZBEK-AFGHAN BORDER. Izvestiya reported on 7 August that Uzbekistan's border guards have lodged a number of complaints with Afghan officials about people making unauthorized crossings from Afghanistan to Uzbekistan. Most recently, there had been a fire-fight between Uzbek border guards and armed persons from Afghanistan found examining a structure in Surkhandarya Oblast. The report did not give the date of the incident, nor did it identify the Afghans or the structure that had interested them. Uzbek President Islam Karimov has complained recently that he fears Islamic fundamentalism will be exported from Afghanistan and Tajikistan to Uzbekistan. The Izvestiya story gives some substance to his worries. (Bess Brown) SUPREME SOVIET SESSION OPENS IN DU-SHANBE. Tajikistan's Supreme Soviet opened its session on 11 Augusta day late, because on 10 August a quorum of deputies was not present. Among the issues facing the legislature is ending the virtual civil war in the country, but, according to ITAR-TASS, part of the first day was spent on mutual accusations and wrangling over the agenda. Later, however, the deputies voted to strip President Rakhmon Nabiev of the special powers granted to him in April, which had set off fighting in the capital. Akbarsho Iskandarov, who has been acting chairman of the Supreme Soviet Presidium and has taken a major role in trying to end the strife in Tajikistan, was elected chairman of the legislature. (Bess Brown) OMSK COSSACKS COMPLAIN OF TREATMENT OF BRETHREN IN KAZAKHSTAN. Radio Rossii reported on 10 August that the Omsk branch of the Cossacks of Siberia has sent an appeal to the president and government of Russia on behalf of the Cossack groups, and the Russian population of northern Kazakhstan whom, the appeal claims, are being oppressed by the government of Kazakhstan and Kazakh nationalist groups. The activities of Cossack organizations in northern and western Kazakhstan have caused great unease among Kazakh government officials and the Kazakh intelligentsia, who fear that these groups may trigger demands, either on the part of the Russian population of the northern oblasts or the Russian government, for revision of the Russian-Kazakhstan border. (Bess Brown) NAZARBAEV MEETS IRANIAN DELEGATION. Kaztag-TASS reported on 11 August that Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev met with a delegation from Iran, led by Minister for Petroleum Resources Goliam Aga-Zade. The Iranians expressed their willingness to aid Kazakhstan in the transport of oil across the Caspian and in the construction of refineries and production of machine oil. While no concrete agreements were mentioned in the press release, President Nazarbaev was quoted as thanking the Iranians, and noting that any agreements reached would be mutually beneficial. (Cassandra Cavanaugh) ESTONIA OPENS CONSULATE IN ST. PETERSBURG. The Estonian ambassador to Russia, Juri Kahn has visited St. Petersburg to clear the way for the opening of a consulate there, the news agency Ezhednevnaya glasnost reported on 10 August. A temporary office for issuing visas to Estonia was set up. All applicants will have to show an invitation and submit a valid passport. (Alexander Rahr, Moscow) MOLDOVAN PRIME MINISTER IN WASHINGTON. In his first visit to the West, Moldova's new prime minister, Andrei Sangheli, left for Washington at the head of a government delegation on 11 August, Moldovapres reported. The Moldovan officials will sign documents related to Moldova's admission to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, will negotiate credits of up to $50 million from the Commodity Credit Corporation for Moldovan imports of feed grain, and will seek US private investments in Moldova's agricultural and food-processing sectors. (Vladimir Socor) MYSTERY BEHIND DEADLY MUSHROOMS. Specialists have suggested 2 reasons for the mass poisonings from mushrooms which have occurred over the past few weeks in parts of Russia and Ukraine, ITAR-TASS reported on 11 August. The first theory is that poor ecological conditions caused the poisonous toadstool mushroom to take on the appearance of an edible mushroom. The second and more prevalent theory is that under unfavorable weather and ecological conditionsnamely, heat and droughtedible mushrooms began to produce parasites. Because of the lack of moisture the mushrooms actively soaked up toxic substances from the ground. In Ukraine there have been over 500 poisonings and 60 deaths from the mushrooms. In Russia close to 200 people have fallen ill, and at least 24 have died. (Sarah Helmstadter) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UN WARNS OF NEW WAVE OF "ETHNIC CLEANSING." The 12 August New York Times and Los Angeles Times quote various UN officials as saying that Serbian forces are trying to expel 20-28,000 Muslims and Croats from around Bihac in northwest Bosnia. The apparent goal is to complete the linkup between Belgrade and the Serbian-controlled enclaves in Bosnia and Croatia. UN officials said that they face a paradox: if they do not accept the deportees, the UN thereby leaves them to a miserable existence; if the UN takes them, it is in fact helping the process of "ethnic cleansing." The BBC said that a similar dilemma confronts those sponsoring the evacuation of 200 shell-shocked children from Sarajevo by bus today. The sponsors are also worried lest any of the warring factions go back on their agreements to let the children pass. Ten days ago Serbian gunmen killed one Serbian and one Muslim child in another evacuation effort. (Patrick Moore) IZETBEGOVIC PRAISES ARMED SUPPORT FOR RELIEF CONVOYS. The 12 August New York Times and news agencies quote the Bosnian president as calling the willingness of the US and its allies to protect humanitarian missions a "first step" in what he hopes will be a greater military involvement on Bosnia's behalf. He said: "The Americans can use their sophisticated technology to silence Serb artillery, and we can do the rest," adding that his experts feel that only 10,000 foreign ground troops with helicopter support will be needed. On 11 August, the US Senate passed a resolution 74-22 backing the use of force to protect relief missions, but also calling for armed support for inspection teams wanting to visit detention camps. The measure asked the UN to reconsider lifting its arms embargo on Bosnia-Herzegovina so that Izetbegovic's government might better defend itself, and urged the setting up of a tribunal to investigate war crimes. (Patrick Moore) ROMANIANS SUGGEST CIS STATES BREAKING EMBARGO. Traian Basescu, Romania's transport minister, said on 11 August that dozens of ships flying the flag of the former Soviet Union are sailing up the Danube to Serbia each week. These ships could originate in either Russia or Ukraine. Basescu added that Romania, which itself has vigorously denied allegations that it is breaking the trade embargo against the rump Yugoslav state, cannot interfere with traffic on the Danube in international waters. A spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry admitted that enforcing the embargo is a "difficult and complicated matter" and that it is "not easy to control the situation." But the spokesman insisted that "to the best of [his] knowledge," Russia is strictly observing the sanctions. (Dan Ionescu) PANIC UNDER FIRE OVER KOSOVO. Milan Panic, prime minister of the rump Yugoslavia, is under sharp criticism from Serbia's ruling Socialist Party and the nationalist opposition Serbian Radical Party. Radio Serbia reports on 11 August that the two parties take exception to the statement Panic made after meeting with Albanian Prime Minister Aleksander Meksi on 10 August. Panic said he would lift the state of emergency in Kosovo next week to coincide with a Greek-Yugoslav plan for an international conference on Kosovo. The two Serbian parties accuse Panic of not consulting with the Serbian and federal parliaments on matters relating to the Serbian province. They also reject the idea of an international conference. Radio Croatia reports on 11 August that the main Albanian party in Kosovo, the Democratic Alliance, issued a statement saying that its leader Ibrahim Rugova will only negotiate on neutral territory and criticized the Greek-Yugoslav plan as an attempt to "create confusion in Kosovo and the international community." (Milan Andrejevich) UNREST IN MONTENEGRO. On 9 and 10 August Belgrade media reported on signs of unrest in Montenegro. Borba says that on 8-9 August Montenegrin paramilitary groups surrounded municipal buildings and Muslim-owned businesses in Pljevlja protesting a Montenegrin government order to transfer 20 local police officers. In recent weeks several shops have been destroyed and Muslims harassed. The Montenegrin government responded by dismissing local police officers, accusing them of "complicity" with illegal paramilitary groups and failing to protect Pljevlja's Muslims from extremists. Order has reportedly been restored in Pljevlja, but Mirko Jovic, leader of the extremist Serbian Radical Party told a Belgrade daily that this incident is a warning to the authorities of what will happen when trying "to score points . . . by protecting a Muslim minority which is in no way threatened." (Milan Andrejevich) MACEDONIA ON THE MOVE. Kiro Gligorov, president of the Republic of Macedonia, gave an interview, published in the 31 July edition of NIN, in which he rejected Greek attempts to have the republic change its name, saying that "if the name Macedonia is erased, then we become a people without a name . . . and they can again start saying that we are Serbs, Greeks, or Bulgarians." Concerning the UN sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro, Gligorov said that they are hurting Macedonia more than the other two states. Gligorov also played down potential problems between the Macedonians and the large Albanian population in the republic, noting "borders do not have to be barriers which create homogeneous national states. In the Balkans, that is simply impossible." Bulgarian president Zhelyu Zhelev will receive Gligorov on 12 August in Burgas for discussion of these and other issues, an RFE/RL correspondent reports. The Republic of Macedonia, which borders Bulgaria, has been recognized diplomatically by only a handful of countries, including Bulgaria, Turkey and Russiabut not by the EC or the USand the former Yugoslav republic remains ineligible for assistance from major international financial agencies. Bulgaria has warned that the strife in Bosnia could spread to the Macedonian Republic and Kosovo, possibly leading to a Balkan war. (Gordon Bardos & Duncan M. Perry) BELGIAN CHIEF OF GENERAL STAFF VISITS BULGARIA. Joseph Charlier, chief of the Belgian General Staff, arrived in Sofia on 9 August for a brief visit. He was met by his Bulgarian counterpart, Col. Gen. Liuben Petrov. The two discussed military reform in Bulgaria, including such matters as training, professionalism in the armed forces, and armsissues with which Belgium has significant experience. Petrov noted to reporters that Bulgaria wishes to develop excellent bilateral relations with Belgium. Charlier was also scheduled to visit President Zhelyu Zhelev and other top officials, BTA reported. (Duncan M. Perry) DIMITROV'S SPANISH VISIT. BTA reports that Bulgarian prime minister Filip Dimitrov returned from Spain on 10 August, where he met King Juan Carlos and Foreign Minister Javier Solani. A return visit of Spanish officials is expected in October. Dimitrov also held talks with deposed Bulgarian King Simeon II, who lives in Madrid. Various topics were discussed, notably economics and foreign policy matters. The current conditions in the Balkans were of special concern. Bulgaria's former ruler also recently met with president Zhelyu Zhelev. (Duncan M. Perry) ROMANIAN OFFICIAL TO MEET EXILED KING. Rompres announced on 11 August that Teodor Melescanu, state secretary at the Romanian foreign ministry, had left for Geneva to meet exiled King Michael on behalf of Prime Minister Theodor Stolojan. No purpose of the envoy's meeting with the king was given, but it comes three days after the king announced that he will visit Timisoara and Brasov in mid-August. Radio Bucharest reported on 11 August that the mayor of Iasi also invited Michael. King Michael, who is 70, was forced out of Romania by the Communists in 1947. He was cheered by big crowds when he visited Romania in April. (Dan Ionescu) NEW CZECHOSLOVAK PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. Jiri Kotas, leader of the small Conservative Party, is the first official candidate for the fifth round of the Czechoslovak presidential elections, scheduled for 24 September. CSTK reports that Kotas was nominated on 11 August by Ales Mucha, the leader of the Green Party who is a Federal Assembly deputy for the Liberal and Social Union. Born in 1952, Kotas emigrated to Canada in 1979 and returned to Czechoslovakia in 1990 to become a politician. His party has so far failed to win any seats in the parliament. In the parliamentary elections in June 1992, Kotas sought a place on the ticket of the Movement of Pensioners but was eventually disavowed by the movement. (Jiri Pehe) AUSTRIAN PRESIDENT IN CZECHOSLOVAKIA. Austrian president Thomas Klestil, who arrived in Czechoslovakia on 11 August to attend the funeral of Cardinal Frantisek Tomasek on the 12th, met with Czech prime minister Vaclav Klaus, CSTK reports. The two discussed plans to split Czechoslovakia into two states. Klaus assured his guest that the country's division will not cause instability and that Austrian investments in both new states will be safe. On 12 August Klestil is to meet in Prague with federal prime minister Pavel Strasky and Polish president Lech Walesa. (Jiri Pehe) LATVIA JOINS WORLD BANK. On 11 August in Washington Latvia's Minister for Economic Reforms Arnis Kalnins signed the World Bank's articles of agreement, thus formalizing Latvia's membership in the World Bank. That same day Kalnins also signed documents for Latvia to join the International Development Corporation, a World Bank affiliate that lends money to poor nations and charges virtually no interest, according to RFE/RL correspondent in Washington. (Dzintra Bungs) POLISH STRIKE UPDATE. Striking workers in the Polska Miedz copper combine received a letter on 11 August from Privatization Minister Janusz Lewandowski suggesting suspension of their strike pending agreement on "a protocol of agreement," followed by negotiations on wage demands. The strike committee accused the minister of "lack of good will to seek a genuine compromise" and submitted its own draft. In the meantime, the strike continues. The strike committee is threatening to take over the running of the combine. The six radical and postcommunist unions that have tried to take national control over the strikes attempted on August 11 to initiate a "collective labor conflict" with the government. Labor Minister Jacek Kuron said there are no legal grounds for such a state of affairs. (Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka) WALESA TRIES TO PREEMPT FURTHER LABOR UNREST. In the Gdansk Shipyard the Solidarity local has transformed itself into a strike committee in anticipation of a national protest action by the radical Solidarity cells from large industrial enterprises known as "the Network." In an attempt to preempt the protest, President Lech Walesa has arranged for a meeting between Network representatives and a government delegation headed by Deputy Prime Minister Henryk Goryszewski. The only good news from the labor front is that the two-hour warning strike due to be held by Silesian railway workers on 12 August was called off after the Polish State Railways management offered talks "with the prospect of meeting the employees' demands." (Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka) LITHUANIAN-RUSSIAN TALKS STARTED. A new round of talks opened behind closed doors on 11 August in Vilnius. An official communique is expected only after their completion on 12 August. Viktor Isakov, the head of the Russian delegation, told reporters during a break in the meeting that he had presented specific timetables for the Russian troop withdrawal in 1994 and concrete proposals on other issues, such as initializing the text of a consular convention, BNS reports. Parliament deputy chairman Ceslovas Stankevicius, the head of the Lithuanian delegation, said that Lithuania stands by its position that the troops leave this year. He also noted that Lithuania would not drop its claims for damages caused by the army. (Saulius Girnius) TWO AWOL ESTONIANS RETURN. Two soldiers from the Estonian Defense Forces who deserted to Moscow have been returned to Estonia, BNS reports. The two left the Kuperjanov unit in southern Estonia on 8 August after complaining of harassment. They rode a freight train to Moscow, where they gave themselves up at the Estonian Embassy. After telling embassy officials they had actually "had no problems at all" and that they had gone AWOL "because of nerves," the two were sent back to Estonia. Both soldiers are ethnic Estonians who had served for two months. (Riina Kionka) ONE DEAD IN TALLINN OLYMPIC ACCIDENT. The collapse of a four-story high construction scaffolding that dozens of teenagers were using as a viewing stand during a welcome back rally for Estonia's Olympic team on 10 August has left one dead and ten seriously injured. Sixteen year-old Aivar Kevask died on 11 August after emergency surgery for severe chest and head injuries sustained when the scaffolding he was standing on collapsed. Among those still hospitalized is a 23-year-old Italian citizen, BNS reports. (Riina Kionka) CORRECTION: The Daily Report of 11 August incorrectly identified Viktor Antonov as Ukrainian Minister of Industry. In fact, Antonov is Ukrainian Minister of Machine Building, the Military Industrial Complex, and Conversion.
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