|The only certainty is that nothing is certain. - Pliny the Elder|
No. 154, 13 August 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR KIEV: TENSIONS CONTINUE IN BLACK SEA FLEET. The press center of the Ukrainian Navy charged on 12 August that, despite the recent agreement signed by presidents Kravchuk and Yeltsin in Yalta, the Black Sea Fleet command continues to put pressure on seamen who have taken the oath of loyalty to Ukraine or who favor the creation of an independent Ukrainian navy. According to Ukrinform-TASS, the press center also accused the fleet command of purposefully manning the fleet's key units with ethnic Russian conscripts, of continuing efforts to exert ideological pressure on the fleet's personnel, and of promoting the idea that the fleet will remain indivisible. (Stephen Foye) "RUKH" CRITICIZES YALTA AGREEMENT. "Rukh" issued a statement on 11 August signed by its leader, Vyacheslav Chornovil, characterizing the Yalta agreement on the Black Sea Fleet as a regressive step towards empire, DR-Press reported on 12 August. The Yalta agreement, says the statement, gives independent Ukraine the status of a "sovereign province." In another statement, "Rukh" called for the dissolution of parliament, arguing that it had been elected when the CPSU had a monopoly on political life and no longer corresponded to today's needs. (Roman Solchanyk) ROTATION OF BLACK SEA FLEET COMMANDERS? Interfax reported on 12 August that the Russian Defense Ministry has confirmed that an annual rotation of commanders for the Black Sea Fleet has been agreed upon, apparently at the meeting in Yalta. The report, which provided no details of the agreement, said that the Russian and Ukrainian defense ministers are to agree on a candidate for fleet commander in the near future, and that a Ukrainian admiral will then replace the current Black Sea Fleet commander, Igor Kasatonov. It was not clear from the report when the change would occur. (Stephen Foye) MOLDOVAN-RUSSIAN TALKS ON TROOPS. On 12 August at the Russian Defense Ministry in Moscow, Moldovan and Russian delegates began the first round of talks on "the status of Russia's troops [in Moldova] and a time-table for their withdrawal," ITAR-TASS reported. At issue are Russia's 14th Army, headquartered in Tiraspol, and the Chisinau-based 300th paratroop regiment. ITAR-TASS noted that the talks were mandated by the joint communique signed by the Moldovan and Russian Prime Ministers, Andrei Sangheli and Egor Gaidar on 7 August. The delegations are headed by Moldova's new ambassador to Moscow, Petru Lucinschi, and by Russia's Deputy Defense Minister, Col. Gen. Boris Gromov, respectively. (Vladimir Socor) REPUBLICS SIGN PEACEKEEPING PROTOCOL. Interfax reported on 12 August that a permanent representative of the CIS joint forces high command, Col. Vasilii Volkov, has collected the signatures of seven CIS leaders on the protocol outlining temporary procedures for shaping and using CIS peacekeeping forces. Azerbaijan, Belarus, Ukraine, and Turkmenistan reportedly did not sign the protocol. Interfax said that each of the signatory states will have to send military units and armaments to the peacekeeping contingent, as well as appoint experts who will joint a group of military observers. (Stephen Foye) RUSSIAN DIPLOMAT KILLED IN KABUL. One Russian diplomat was killed and two injured on 11 August in Kabul when Russia's embassy was hit by artillery fire. Russia's permanent representative to the United Nations, Yulii Vorontsov, after consulting with his Chinese counterpart, called on the UN Security Council to discuss the situation in Kabul. Following meetings on 12 August, the Security Council called on the Afghan government to take measures to guarantee the safety of foreign diplomats in Afghanistan, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 August. (Suzanne Crow) BAN ON OMON USE AGAINST DEMONSTRATIONS. The Russian Interior Ministry has imposed strict restrictions on the activities of the OMON (Special Purpose Militia Detachments) against demonstrations and mass meetings, "Vesti" reported on 11 August. There has been increasingly sharp criticism from the media and the general public of OMON activities. In particular, the OMON was actively used against nationalist and neocommunist demonstrations on 23 February and on 22 June, during the blockade of the "Ostankino" Television Center. According to the new regulations, OMON units can be used only in extreme situations and by a written order of the interior minister, a spokesman for the ministry said. (Victor Yasmann) KGB STILL ACTIVE. The outspoken critic of the KGB, Yurii Vlasov, said that although he has left the democratic camp to join the nationalist-communist forces, he has no illusions about the current Russian state security organs. Despite the dismantling of the KGB, political surveillance, eavesdropping and secret informer networks are continuing to be used by the new authorities, Vlasov wrote in Den No. 32. Vlasov also stressed that only the KGB subdivisions directly involved in state security were being disbanded, while those involved in political surveillance were actually being strengthened. (Victor Yasmann) CONSTITUTIONAL COURT JUDGES GIVEN PAY INCREASE. Russian President Boris Yeltsin signed a decree on 4 August giving the 13 judges who sit on Russia's Constitutional Court a substantial pay raise. The decree, published in Moscow news' latest issue, gave the court judges a 30% salary increase above their rank in the civil service, and contained the provision, "not for publication." This salary increase may be justified as an adjustment for inflation, but it comes in the midst of the Constitutional Court's deliberations on the constitutionality of Yeltsin's decrees banning the Communist Party. (Carla Thorson) COMMUNISTS TO COORDINATE ACTIVITIES. Meeting in Moscow on 8-10 August, representatives of communist-oriented parties from Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Uzbekistan and other former Soviet republics agreed to set up an "All-Union Political Consultative Council," ITAR-TASS reported on 10 August. The various Russian parties represented set up an analogous Russian body to coordinate their activities. The majority of those present were against reestablishing the CPSU at present but agreed that the creation of a single party should be a long-term goal, the hardline communist Richard Kosolapov was quoted as saying. (Elizabeth Teague) MORE SPECULATION ON ZHIRINOVSKY PARTY'S REGISTRATION. Moskovsky komsomlets on 12 August explained why the Russian Justice Ministry has annulled the registration of the Liberal Democratic Party of the Soviet Union. When Vladimir Zhirinovsky registered the party in spring 1991, he provided a list of 6,142 members (the minimum necessary for registration under Soviet law being 5,000). It was clear the list was fictitious: 4,000 of the members had addresses in Abkhazia and many were duplicates. The USSR Justice Ministry registered the party only under pressure from Anatolii Lukyanov (currently under investigation for his role in the August 1991 coup). Zhirinovsky, who is currently visiting Germany, has applied to re-register the party as the Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia. (Elizabeth Teague) TRADE UNIONS TO FORM PARTY. Russia's official unions, the "Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia," plan to form a workers' party, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 6 August. Following the collapse of the CPSU, the official trade unions are the richest organization in Russia. The nucleus of the new party will be the initiative committee of the Party of Labor formed last October by a group of socialists and anarchists. Their leader, Boris Kagarlitsky, is predicting the emergence in Russia of a two-party system similar to Britain's, with Arkadii Volsky's Civic Union playing the role of the Conservative Party and the new Workers' Party being analogous to the British Labour Party. (Elizabeth Teague) RUSSIAN GRAIN PURCHASE PRICES RAISED. . . On 24 July, Rossiiskaya gazeta carried an article entitled "The Grain Market. Who Will Give In First?" It now looks as if the Russian government has given in to the farmers. According to Interfax, on 12 August the government announced that state purchase prices for most grains will rise to 12,000 rubles a ton, whereas it had hitherto insisted on a maximum price of 10,000 rubles a ton. The maximum purchase price for high-quality grains (like hard and durum wheats) will remain at 24,000 rubles a ton. There will also be a 20% bonus for above-plan sales of grain. Retail prices for most sorts of bread are expected to stabilize at around 30 rubles a kilo. (Keith Bush) ...BUT SELYUNIN SAYS PRICE RISE INEFFECTIVE. Well-known Russian economist Vasilii Selyunin, in an interview with Pravda on 11 August, expressed doubts that a price hike even to 15,000 rubles a ton would induce peasants to sell more grain to the state. He expects a repeat of last year's experience when farms held much of their grain until spring to force the state to offer better prices. Selyunin argued that this is how the peasant protects himself against inflation. He "will not rush to market with his grain for 15 rubles a kilogram, because he doesn't know what our ruble will be worth in December or May," Selyunin said. (Erik Whitlock) RUSSIA TO LIMIT ELECTRICITY USAGE. Vitalii Gorin, deputy chairman of the Committee on Electro-energy of the Fuel and Energy Ministry said that Russia will begin rationing electricity on 1 October. Gorin said current plans are to limit usage for one year, according to ITAR-TASS on 12 August. It is not clear from the report how extensive the rationing will be, however. Residential usage is not covered. Excluded as well are medical, communications, transport facilities, schools, and "a number of other enterprises and units." (Erik Whitlock) LATEST ON RUSSIAN PRIVATIZATION PROGRAM. Aleksandr Ivanenko, the first deputy chairman of the Russian State Property Committee, told Interfax of 12 August that plans to issue privatization vouchers to all citizens of Russia are on schedule. By 31 December, everyone, from infants to the elderly, will be given one privatization check. The value of the checks will be announced by President Yeltsin by mid-August; Interfax reckoned that the nominal value will be 10,000 rubles. The checks can be used to buy shares of enterprises destined for privatization or investment funds during the calendar year 1993. Every citizen will be able to sell his/her voucher or pass it on to his/her heirs. (Keith Bush) NEW BELARUSIAN POLITICAL PARTY. The "United Agrarian-Democratic Party" held its constituent congress and issued a statement criticizing the Belarusian parliament for failing to safeguard the interests of farmers in the republic, BelInform-TASS reported on 12 August. Eight political parties are now officially registered in Belarus, and two of them reflect agrarian interests. In contrast to the Belarusian Peasants' Party which supports private landholding, the United Agrarian-Democratic Party supports reform of the social system based on the principles of social democracy. (Roman Solchanyk) SHEVARDNADZE VOWS TO FREE HOSTAGES, RESTORE ORDER. Addressing a crowd of 20,000 people in Tbilisi on 12 August, Georgian State Council Chairman Eduard Shevardnadze vowed to use all legal means, including force, to secure the release of 11 security officials taken hostage on 11 August in Zugdidi, Russian and Western agencies reported. (One official has been released by the kidnappers.) Meanwhile the Georgian police stated that unless the kidnappers released the hostages by 10:00 local time on 13 August (07:00 CEST), 5,000 police would embark on a campaign to liquidate the "terrorists"; a contingent of the National Guard has already been dispatched to the area. The Georgian Foreign Ministry sent a formal note to the Russian Foreign Ministry requesting measures to curb "terrorist activities" by Gamsakhurdia, who is currently believed to be in exile in Grozny. (Liz Fuller) DISPUTE OVER PRESIDENCY IN TAJIKISTAN. A lively dispute over the institution of the presidency took place in the Supreme Soviet of Tajikistan on 12 August, ITAR-TASS reported. The debate was sparked by President Rakhmon Nabiev's report on the state of the country. Opponents accused him of excessive emotion and merely attacking the opposition instead of presenting a concrete plan for extracting Tajikistan from its present economic and political collapse. Several deputies, including the country's highest-ranking Muslim clergyman, Kazi Akbar Turadzhonzoda, questioned Nabiev's ability to deal with Tajikistan's problems and called on him to resign voluntarily. Supporters of Nabiev retorted that he had been popularly elected and must work under constant opposition pressure. The debate is expected to continue. (Bess Brown) TURKMENISTAN TAKES CONTROL OF BORDER FORCES. The president of Turkmenistan, Saparmyrat Niyazov, issued a decree on 11 August that placed all former Soviet Border Forces in the republic under the jurisdiction of Turkmenistan's government, ITAR-TASS reported on 12 August. Maj. Gen. Akmurad Kabulov was named commander of the Turkmen Border Forces. Kabulov earlier served as First Deputy Chairman of the Turkmen Committee for National Security. Niyazov apparently made the announcement at a meeting with the leadership of the Central Asian Border District, the report said. (Stephen Foye/Bess Brown) TURKMEN IMAM INTERVIEWED. Nezavisimaya gazeta on 12 August published an interview with the imam of the largest mosque in the Turkmen capital Ashghabat, Khezretkuli Khanov. Khanov suggested that some kind of Islamic regime will inevitably develop in all of the former Soviet Central Asian republics, though not of the Iranian type, which he views as more fanatical than fundamentalist. He declined to speculate on how much time this would take. The "secular government" specified in the Turkmen constitution is led by the same communist functionaries who do not command peoples trust, according to Khanov. Khanov characterized the official Turkmen Moslem leadership, the kaziate, appointed by the Tashkent mufti, as weak and obedient. (Cassandra Cavanaugh) Central and Eastern Europe UN REFUSES TO TAKE 28,000 EXPELLED BOSNIAN MUSLIMS. The UN sucessfully helped evacuate 300 mothers and children from Sarajevo on 12 August, but that same day representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees refused to accept 28,000 Muslims and Croats whom the Serbs want to drive from Bosnia to Croatia. The UNHCR told the BBC that the Serbs' move was "barbaric," and added that the UN would in effect be helping the policy of "ethnic cleansing" if it took in the people, who are now stranded on or near the border between the two former Yugoslav republics. Reuter quoted a UNHCR spokesman as saying: "What is going on in those areas is something beyond your imagination." (Patrick Moore) "SHELL GAME" WITH SERBIAN PRISON CAMPS? International indignation over Serb behavior in Bosnia reached a new level in August amid often grisly media reports of alleged beatings, torture, and killings in camps set up for Muslims and Croats. In defense, the Serbs claimed that Muslims and Croats were mistreating Serbs, and offered to open up some Serb-run camps for inspection. Journalists and Red Cross officials soon reported, however, that they were not free to do and see what they wanted in Serb-held areas. On 13 August the Washington Post said that suspicion is growing "among international relief officials and Western diplomats" that the Serbs "are playing a shell game with the thousands of Muslim and Croat prisoners they have taken." Once world attention is focused on a specific camp, "it is cleaned up, closed down, or depopulated. Prisoners are quickly shuffled off to other facilities, away from prying eyes." (Patrick Moore) PANIC IN ANKARA. During a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel in Ankara on 12 August,Yugoslav Prime Minister Milan Panic said that his country was prepared to recognize the independence of Bosnia-Herzegovina if it helped to end the bloodshed. He added that Bosnia's borders would not be changed. According to the Anatolian news agency, Panic was in Anakara to explore ways of finding peace without outside military intervention. He was quoted as saying that "we pray that we do not see the Turkish army in Yugoslavia." Radio Serbia reported on 13 August that Radmila Milentijevic, a Yugoslav federal minister without portfolio,was heard as saying that if Turkey sent its troops to Bosnia-Herzegovina it would create a situation worse than Vietnam. Turkey has offered to send more than 1,000 troops into the area if the UN approves military action to protect the flow of relief aid into Bosnia-Herzegovina. (Milan Andrejevich) BOSNIAN MUSLIMS CRITICIZE TUDJMAN. Radio Bosnia-Herzegovina reported on 12 August that the Muslim Party of Democratic Action (SDA) criticized Croatia's President Franjo Tudjman for having said on 10 August that Bosnia's Muslims intended to create some sort of Islamic state at the expense of the Croats and Serbs. The SDA statement said that Tudjman's remark was "received with great displeasure and surprise," and described it as "irresponsible." The SDA emphasized that there was no evidence to support Tudjman's claim, adding that it "indicates that Tudjman assumed Serbia's President Slobodan Milosevic's arguments against Bosnia's Muslims." (Milan Andrejevich) BULGARIA, MACEDONIA TO OPEN DIPLOMATIC MISSIONS.On 12 August Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov and his Bulgarian counterpart Zhelyu Zhelev announced an agreement on the establishment of general consulates, Western agencies reported. The announcement came during talks on bilateral affairs and the Balkan crisis, held in the Black Sea port of Burgas. Zhelev told reporters that the diplomatic missions are to open within two weeks, and he also revealed that there are plans for a friendship and cooperation treaty. (Kjell Engelbrekt) BALKAN AIR TO BE PARTIALLY PRIVATIZED. A government spokeswoman said on 12 August that Bulgaria is planning to privatize partially its airline company, Balkan Air, Reuters reported. According to a tentative time table, foreign investors will be invited to make tender offers as from 20 September, following the evalution of the airline by Western business consultants. BTA said the details of the scheme will be worked out by the Agency for Privatization.Nearly all sixty planes comprising the Balkan Air fleet are Soviet-made, and last year's budget ended with a $16 million deficit.(Kjell Engelbrekt) HEADS OF STATE ATTEND TOMASEK'S FUNERAL. Cardinal Frantisek Tomasek, who played a key role in toppling the communist regime in Czechoslovakia, was buried in the tomb of Prague's bishops in St. Vitus Cathedral on 12 August. CSTK reports that among the dignitaries who attended the ceremony were Polish President Lech Walesa, Austrian President Thomas Klestil, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Hungarian Premier Jozsef Antall, Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus, and Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar. Former Czechoslovak President Vaclav Havel spoke at the ceremony. The attending dignitaries held talks on relations between their countries. Walesa, Antall, Klestil, and Kohl said that in case Czechoslovakia splits, their countries will cooperate with both new states. Kohl vowed to support the two states' efforts to become successors to the Czechoslovak-EC association treaty. Walesa and Klaus discussed the possibility of holding a summit of the so-called Visegrad Triangle in September. (Jiri Pehe) CZECHOSLOVAK GOVERNMENT'S LETTER ON GABCIKOVO. On 12 July, CSTK made public the contents of the Czechoslovak government's letter of 10 August to the Hungarian government, in which Czechoslovakia officially responded to Hungary's unilateral cancellation of the interstate treaty regulating the construction of the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros hydroelectric dam system. The letter said that Hungary had no legal grounds for cancelling the treaty and that Czechoslovakia considered the cancellation of the treaty invalid. The letter further said that the Czechoslovak government was disappointed by the fact that the cancellation took place at a time when the European Community was almost ready to form a tripartite commission of experts, who were to evaluate the project. The Czechoslovak government expressed its wish to continue a dialogue with Hungary on the issue and said it would ask EC for further assistance in finding a "reasonable compromise." (Jiri Pehe) FOUR PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES IN ESTONIA. Four election coalitions have succeeded in gathering the necessary 10,000 signatures to put their presidential candidates on the ballot on 20 September, BNS reports. The election coalitions "Pro Patria," "Popular Front" and "Secure Home" are fielding former Foreign Minister Lennart Meri, California academic Rein Taagepera and current Supreme Council Chairman Arnold Ruutel, respectively, whereas the Estonian National Independence Party has nominated its chairman Lagle Parek. Two other presidential candidates could not muster the necessary signatures, and a third dropped out of the race for personal reasons. The State Election Commission also reports that 633 candidates will vie for the available 101 seats in parliament. Those candidates have until 21 August to register with the Election Commission. (Riina Kionka) ESTONIANS MAY TRAVEL VISA-FREE TO POLAND. Starting 1 August, Estonian citizens have been able to enter Poland without a visa. According to BNS on 12 August, the Polish government decided to reciprocate after the Estonian government earlier instituted visa-free travel for Poles. Those Estonian citizens who do not yet have a new Estonian passport may travel to Poland with USSR documents until the end of this year. (Riina Kionka) LATVIAN PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS NEXT SPRING?BNS and Diena reported on 11 and 12 August about moves in the Latvian Supreme Council, especially by its presidium, and the two major factionsPeople's Front of Latvia and Satversme (Constitution)to hold elections to the Saeima, as the parliament of independent Latvia will again be called, in March 1993. (Dzintra Bungs) FOREST FIRES CONTINUE IN LATVIA.New forest fires have sprung up in the vicinity of Incupe and Lilaste along the Riga-Tallinn railroad tracks, and around the village of Saulkrasti, Diena reported on 11 August.The fires at Lilaste are in the territory occupied by a Russian army weapons training base. (Dzintra Bungs) AGREEMENT ON RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO LITHUANIA. On 12 August the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed BNS that Lithuania has agreed totheappointment of Nikolai Obertyshev as Russian ambassador to Lithuania.Obertyshev,born in 1934, has spent several years working in Soviet foreign diplomatic offices in the Netherlands, Switzerland,andtheMFA Central Department. From 1989 to1992hewasRussia'sconsul general in Munich. (Saulius Girnius) LITHUANIAN-RUSSIAN TALKS CONCLUDE.On 12 August Russian and Lithuanian delegations, headed by Viktor Isakov and Ceslovas Stankevicius, respectively, concluded two days of talks on the withdrawal of Russian troops from Lithuania, RFE/RL Lithuanian Service reports.The joint communique of the meeting indicated that neither side had changed its earlier position. Isakov reaffirmed the proposals made by Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrov on 6 August and gave more specific data on the number of troops Russia plans to withdraw in 1992, 1993, and 1994.He said that Lithuania's demand for the total withdrawal this year was not a plan for withdrawing an army but for stacking soldiers into train cars. Stankevicius noted that his goverment's proposals were similar to agreements Russia had signed with other East Europe countries and that Russia should respect the wishes of the Lithuanian people expressed in a June referendum that the troops leave by the end of 1992. (Saulius Girnius) WALESA WRITES YELTSIN ON TROOPS. The president's press office announced on 12 August that President Lech Walesa had sent a letter to Russian President Boris Yeltsin concerning the financial aspects of the withdrawal of former Soviet troops from Poland. The contents of the letter were not made public, but the press office statement hinted that Poland is preparing to ask Western governments to finance the construction by Polish building firms of housing in Russia for officers withdrawn from Poland. This request would be in keeping with pledges made by Walesa during his visit to Moscow in May. (Louisa Vinton) STRIKE DEADLOCK CONTINUES. On his return from the Prague funeral of Cardinal Frantisek Tomasek on 12 August, President Walesa described as "blasphemy" comparisons between the current strikes in Poland and those that gave birth to Solidarity in 1980. "Striking was good and necessary when the government was unwilling to heed arguments," Walesa said. "Now the government and the president are willing but cannot find solutions. Different methods are necessary to find solutions." As strikes at the Polska Miedz copper combine and the FSM auto plant continued, the government held "informational" talks with the Network, the organization of Solidarity locals from Poland's largest industrial plants. Network representatives said afterward that they will refrain from forming a national strike committee until the government presents its views on the financing of state firms on 14 August. While open in their criticism of Solidarity's national leadership, Network representatives denied they were splitting the union. (Louisa Vinton) NEW RIGHT-WING COALITION IN POLAND? Five right-of-center parties, consisting largely of personalities who had supported the recently dismissed government of Jan Olszewski, signed a declaration of cooperation on August 10 in an attempt to mount a new anticommunist coalition. In addition to Olszewski himself, the signatories include former Defense Minister Jan Parys and his deputy, Romuald Szeremietiew, former Internal Afairs Minister Antoni Macierewicz, Olszewski's short-lived head of Radio and Television, Zbigniew Romaszewski, Center Alliance leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, and a former Polish Peasant Party leader, Roman Bartoszcze. The new coalition intends to "overcome the postcommunist arrangement" in Poland and ensure that the new constitution guarantees national sovereignty. (Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka) IMF OFFICIAL PRAISES ROMANIAN MONETARY REFORM. IMF Director Mohsin Khan was quoted by Radio Bucharest on 12 August in Bucharest that Romania achieved all the reform targets agreed under a 12-month standby agreement with the fund. Khan, who was visiting Romania to review progress made by Theodor Stolojan's coalition government, was also said to have praised Romanian efforts to boost exports and rein in inflation. Khan said that the IMF had already disbursed 220 million dollars from a new 12-month standby credit worth about 440 million dollars. (Dan Ionescu) ROMANIAN OPPOSITION LEADERS IN THE USA. A delegation of Romanian opposition leaders arrived in Washington on 12 August to attend the Republican Party's convention which begins in Houston, Texas, on 17 August. The five-man delegation includes Corneliu Coposu, president of the National Peasants' Party, and Nicolae Manolescu, president of the Party of Civic Alliance. The Romanian politicians, who are guests of the International Republican Institute, will be able to learn first-hand about the US political system. (Dan Ionescu)
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