|The soul that is within me no man can degrade. I am not the one that is being degraded on account of this treatment, but those who are infliciting it upon me. - Frederick Douglass|
No. 157, 18 August 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR GEORGIA REASSERTS CONTROL IN ABKHAZIA. Georgian State Council Chairman Eduard Shevardnadze told Georgian Radio on 17 August that Georgian authority had been restored throughout the republic, although sporadic shooting and looting were reported in Sukhumi. The State Council issued a statement guaranteeing Abkhazia's right to self-determination within Georgia, according to ITAR-TASS. Abkhaz Interior Minister Aleksandr Ankvab gave the death toll in the recent fighting as more than fifty. Meanwhile, Georgian Defense Minister Tengiz Kitovani put the peace process in jeopardy by threatening to invade Sukhumi and forcibly disband the Abkhaz parliament if its chairman, Vladislav Ardzinba, refuses to resign, Western agencies reported. (Liz Fuller) ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT DECIDES AGAINST VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE. The emergency session of the Armenian parliament on 17 August closed without reaching a decision on whether to hold a referendum on whether president Levon Ter-Petrossyan should resign, ITAR-TASS reported. (Liz Fuller) YELTSIN: TROOPS CAN BE WITHDRAWN FROM KURILES. Boris Yeltsin said in a 17 August interview broadcast by Japanese TV that Russia is prepared to withdraw its military forces from the southern Kurile Islands by the middle of 1995, ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin also said that Moscow was prepared to sign a withdrawal agreement to that effect during his upcoming visit to Japan in mid-September. Yeltsin reportedly added that the withdrawal of Russian troops from the southern Kuriles would constitute fulfillment of the third stage of a five-stage plan that he had put forth in 1990 to resolve the long dispute over ownership of the islands. He said that the next stage would involve signing a bilateral peace treaty, and that Moscow had already worked out more than ten variants for concluding the fifth stage of negotiationsnamely, a final resolution of the territorial problem. He warned, however, that pressure for a settlement from the Japanese side would undermine chances for concluding a treaty, and said that success could only come through mutual trust and economic cooperation. (Stephen Foye) UKRAINE TO BEGIN DESTROYING CONVENTIONAL ARMS. Ukrainian TV, quoting Ukrinform-TASS, reported on 15 August that the Ukrainian Defense Ministry intends to begin CFE mandated weapons reductions between 18 August and 18 September. The report quoted Lt. Gen. Ivan Oleinyk, deputy defense minister for armaments, who said that some 2,450 tanks, 2,220 armored combat vehicles, and large caliber artillery pieces are scheduled to be destroyed at factories in Zhytomyr, Kiev, Lviv, Mykolaiv, and Kharkiv. CFE signatory states have been notified of Ukraine's plans, he said, and the destruction of the weapons is to be carried out under strict international control. Oleinyk also said that the destruction process was costly, and recommended that at least some of these weapons be converted to civilian uses rather than be destroyed. (Stephen Foye) PROBLEMS WITH UKRAINIAN CONVERSION. Viktor Antonov, the Ukrainian minister of machine-building, the military-industrial complex, and conversion, told Delovaya Ukraina that impediments to military conversion in Ukraine persisted, Interfax reported on 14 August. Antonov complained that the Ukrainian Defense Ministry had not yet worked out a military doctrine or submitted to his ministry any guidelines for implementing conversion. He added that the conversion effort was not receiving sufficient funding. Antonov also said that Ukraine will cease producing aircraft carriers, cruisers, and strategic missiles. (Stephen Foye) RUSSIAN MILITARY IN KAZAKHSTAN FOR NUCLEAR TALKS. The chief of Russia's General Staff, Viktor Dubynin, is leading a high-ranking military delegation conducting talks with defense officials in Kazakhstan on strategic nuclear weapons stationed there, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 August. In earlier discussions, Dubynin told a correspondent accompanying the delegation, drafts of a number of agreements between the two states have been prepared. Among the topics that are expected to be covered in these talks is the status of the testing sites in Kazakhstan. The former nuclear test site at Semipalatinsk is supposed to be transformed into a scientific center, but funding is lacking. (Bess Brown) RUSSIAN BORDER GUARDS FACE SERIOUS PROBLEMS. The Russian Border Guards are currently responsible for maintaining borders with 16 countries; of these, only the borders with Norway, Finland, Poland, Mongolia and North Korea have legally agreed to status, while the status of parts of the borders with the US, Japan, and China is unclear, according to the chief of the Russian Border Guards, Maj. Gen. Aleksandr Tymko. He also told Rossiiskaya gazeta on 14 August that more acute problems exist on Russia's borders with other CIS statesespecially with Azerbaijan. Although the border guards have already set up 133 check points, large sections of the border are exposed to "human and technological intelligence," and illegal weapon and drug trafficking, Tymko said. (Victor Yasmann) GORBACHEV ADVOCATES NEW UNION. At a press conference in Moscow on 17 August on the lessons of the August 1991 putsch, Mikhail Gorbachev said that he supported Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbaev's proposal for the creation of new union based on the principle of confederation, Russian and Western media reported. Gorbachev noted that he was making this proposal at a time when work was underway to change the structure of the CIS. He warned that, without a new union, a long drawn-out conflict over territorial borders could begin. Nazarbaev's proposal, to create a new Union of Independent States with strong coordinating structures and a single bank, was also supported by Industrial Lobby leader Arkadii Volsky at the recent all-Russian conference of Manufacturers, DR-Press reported on 13 August. (Ann Sheehy) GORBACHEV SAYS HE'S SYMPATHETIC TO CIVIC UNION. Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev spent an hour and 20 minutes on 14 August answering questions phoned in by listeners to Radio Liberty; the program was broadcast by RL's Russian Service on 15 and 16 August. Asked which of today's political parties has his sympathy, Gorbachev said his views are close to those of Civic Union, the centrist block led by Vice-president Aleksandr Rutskoi and industrialist Arkadii Volsky. Gorbachev added that he does not aspire at present to any high office but remains active in politics and is concentrating on building up his Gorbachev Foundation. (Savik Shuster and Volik Rahr) KRAVCHUK ANNOUNCES AMNESTY. In connection with the first anniversary of the declaration of Ukraine's independence (24 August), the country's president, Leonid Kravchuk, has announced a broad amnesty for those serving sentences for non-serious crimes, Ukrinform-TASS reported on 17 August. To mark the anniversary, the Ukrainian authorities have organized elaborate celebrations, the highlight of which will be a World Forum of Ukrainians, which will be held in Kiev from 21-24 August. (Bohdan Nahaylo) REFORM IN NIZHNII NOVGOROD. Economist Grigorii Yavlinsky has developed a concept of regional economic policy based on the example of Nizhnii Novgorod, Komsomolskaya pravda reported on 14 August. Inhabitants of that region do not face the same level of economic hardship as other regions. Yavlinsky received 7 billion rubles from the Central Bank to conduct his "experiment" and today other regions are turning to him for advice. The experiment is regarded as a direct challenge to the Russian government which lacks a regional economic program. President Yeltsin and parliamentary chairman, Ruslan Khasbulatov, are expected to pay a visit to Nizhnii Novgorod soon. (Alexander Rahr, Moscow) ANOTHER RUSSIAN HARVEST DECREE? Russian Vice-president Aleksandr Rutskoi discussed the draft of a presidential decree on the grain harvest with government officials on 16 August, ITAR-TASS reported. The draft decree is said to exempt farmers from value-added tax during the harvest and exempts those recruited to help with the harvest from income tax. It is also reported to forbid farmers from selling their grain on the free market until they have met their state delivery quotas. Officials were quoted as saying that the pace of the grain harvest has picked up considerably since the government raised the state purchase price for grain: they now project a grain harvest of about 98 million tons. (Keith Bush) DRAFT SHORTFALL IN TATARSTAN. According to the vice chairman of Tatarstan's parliament, Aleksandr Lozovoi, Tatarstan has, for the first time, failed to fulfill its military conscription plan, Interfax reported on 13 August. Although the induction period has been extended until August, he said, only 88.5% of the expected number of draftees have been sent to military units, a shortfall of some 1,400 young men. He claimed that draft evasion grew after appeals by several public organizations in Tatarstan that urged soldiers to leave their units and serve only in their home republic. Meanwhile, Radio Rossii reported on 12 August that, according to ITAR-TASS, 11 sailors from Tatarstan have threatened to commit suicide or flee from service unless they are sent back to their home republic. (Stephen Foye) LEBED ADDRESSES COSSACK ASSEMBLY. Maj. Gen. Aleksandr Lebed, commander of Russia's 14th Army based in Moldova, was acclaimed by the Council of Atamans of Russian Cossack Hosts which convened in Tiraspol, DR Press reported on 14 August. Lebed called for "the revival of the Russian great-power state" and for mass media coverage of military issues to be "objective in the necessary direction." The council called on Yeltsin to recognize the "Dniester republic" and give it multifaceted assistance, "including military." (Vladimir Socor) "DNIESTER REPUBLIC" TO HOST ALL-USSR CONGRESS. As previously announced at the "all-USSR" conference in May in Tiraspol, the communist Joint Council of Work Collectives (OSTK), the dominant political force in the "Dniester republic," intends to host a "Congress of Workers' Councils" from the entire former Soviet Union. The congress agenda includes the preservation of the USSR, the dismissal of the Gaidar government, and protests against privatization, DR Press reported on 14 August. The congress is scheduled for 10-13 September in Bendery. (Vladimir Socor) MOLDOVA NEGOTIATES OIL AND GAS DEAL WITH IRAN. Moldova's Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations and Iran's doubly-accredited ambassador to Romania and Moldova, earlier this month, reached an understanding of principle on Iranian oil and gas deliveries to Moldova, Moldovapres reported on 14 August. Moldova would pay for the gas by contributing to the construction of a pipeline from Iran to Ukraine, and would have the option to pay for the oil through barter. Deliveries would commence before the end of this year. Moldova seeks to reduce its dependence on Russian oil and gas. Talks held earlier this year with Kuwait were fruitless because Kuwait insisted on hard-currency payments for its oil, Moldovan officials told the RFE/RL Research Institute. (Vladimir Socor) TURKMENISTAN RECEIVES TURKISH CREDITS. According to an ITAR-TASS report of 14 August, Turkey has promised credits worth $75 million to Turkmenistan in an agreement signed by the president of Turkey's Eximbank, Ahmet Ertugrul, and the director of Turkmenistan's Foreign Economic Bank, Khudaiberdy Orazov. The credits, the first provided by any foreign government, will be used to purchase food products and fertilizers, and also to finance industrial construction projects. A Financial Times report of 8 July noted that interested foreign investors have found that Turkmen economic officials are able and willing only to arrange barter deals because of a lack of cash. The Turkish credits will lessen this difficulty for Turkish firms. (Cassandra Cavanaugh) KYRGYZ-UZBEK MILITARY AGREEMENT SIGNED. On 17 August, in the Kyrgyz city of Osh, Uzbekistan's Defense Minister, Lt. Gen. Rustam Akhmedov and the chairman of Kyrgyzstan's State Defense Committee, Maj. Gen. Janybek Umetaliev, signed a protocol on cooperation in military affairs, Kyrgyztag-TASS reported. The protocol includes cooperation on questions of day-to-day military affairs, and on the development of closer ties between the two armed forces. According to the report, this protocol in no way contradicts any CIS military agreements. (Cassandra Cavanaugh) INDEPENDENT ALMA-ATA NEWSPAPER TO BE PROSECUTED. The independent Alma-Ata information agency Birlesu, (as cited by DR-Press on 14 August), reported that the editorial board of the newspaper Birlesu, published by the independent trade union movement in Kazakhstan, must appear in court on 27 August. The newspaper has been charged with insulting Jews after the publication of humorous poems by Igor Guberman, now an Israeli citizen. The charges also allege that Birlesu insulted the prime minister of Kazakhstan and the mayor of Alma-Ata, incited mass disturbances and the overthrow of the system. Birlesu's chief editor traces these accusations to an article in a competing publication that quoted material out of context. (Bess Brown) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN FIGHTING FLARES ANEW. Sarajevo suffered another day of mortar and sniper fire on 17 August, with at least six people reported killed. Mortar shells struck the Europa Hotel in the city, home to 800 refugees, and firefighters were still battling the blaze well into the night. The BBC and Tanjug said that the mortar shells came from Serbian positions in revenge for a Muslim attack on a Serbian town, but Bosnian Serbian leader Radovan Karadzic denied responsibility. Approximately 1000 Sarajevo women and children are to be evacuated to Belgrade on 18 August. Meanwhile, the Bosnian city of Jajce, about 100 km. northwest of Sarajevo, is reported to be under Serbian attack. UN Colonel Richard Gray reported that an agreement is to be signed on 18 August with the Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, placing all Serbian heavy weapons around Sarajevo under UN supervision. Gray said that negotiations for the same purposes were continuing with the Bosnian Muslims. In Croatia, a Canadian soldier assigned to the UN peacekeeping forces was killed when his truck ran over a land mine, the first Canadian to die in the conflict. International media carried the reports. (Gordon Bardos) BOSNIAN AND CROATIAN SERBS MOVE TOWARD UNITY. Belgrade's Politika reported on 13 August that the governments of the "Serbian Republic" in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the "Serbian Republic of Krajina" announced several moves toward unification with each other on 12 August. According to Momchilo Krajishnik and Mile Paspalja, the leaders of the two parliaments, work is already in progress on creating a new joint parliament, the goal of which is to build a "unified Serbian state [of the two respective regions ] where there would be one monetary system, a common defense, economy, and everything that goes with that." Rebel Serbs in Croatia control a third of that republic, while the Bosnian Serbs have conquered over 60% of the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina. (Gordon Bardos). BOSNIA ISSUES NEW CURRENCY. Radio Bosnia-Herzegovina reported on 17 August that the government issued a new currency to counter what the national bank governor called the Serbian "monetary aggression." The new Bosnian money will be tied to the German mark at one mark to 350 Bosnian dinars. The currency will only be used in Sarajevo, Tuzla, Zenica and parts of Bihac, areas controlled by Bosnian forces. The new currency will not be valid in Serb and Croat-controlled areas where the dinars issued by Belgrade and Zagreb are legal tender. Some 70% of Bosnia-Herzegovina are now under Serb or Croat control. Radio Croatia raised the question "is the new dinar an indication of the beginnings of a third state in Bosnia?" (Milan Andrejevich) BULGARIA REMODELS PRIVATIZATION AGENCY. Bulgaria's Agency on Privatization, which is currently being reorganized by the newly appointed Supervising Council, will employ some 265 officials and have a network comprising eleven regional offices, BTA reported on 17 August. This was revealed by the chairman of the Supervising Council, Nikola Katsarski, who also told reporters that several top officials would retain their posts. In an interview in yesterday's issue of Pari daily, the agency's acting Deputy Chairman Dimitar Stefanov said the most important achievement so far lay in the training of personnel. (Kjell Engelbrekt) KLAUSON REGIONAL COOPERATION. Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus ended his one-day official visit to Hungary on 17 August; he said that his trip "was most successful." According to various news agencies, Klaus and his Hungarian counterpart, Jozsef Antall agreed to create a free trade zone between the two republics well ahead of the year 2001 as initially scheduled by the "Visegrad Troika." As to the future of the Troika itself, Klaus, who has in the past indicated that he was not very fond of overly close cooperation between Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Hungary, said that the grouping would never become an institution and made it clear that he understood it as "an instrument of regional solidarity." (Jan Obrman) FINANCIAL EFFECTS OF UN SANCTIONS. The Hungarian Ministry of International Economic Relations estimates that Hungary will suffer losses of $300 million by the end of the year as a result of UN sanctions against former Yugoslavia, MTI reported on 18 August. Additional costs to Hungary from the loss of traffic transit fees and rerouting of traffic are expected to amount to some $100-120 million and gas and railway transit fees and unpaid Serbian and Montenegrian debts are to cost another $50-60 million. The rest of the losses are expected to come from the standstill in bilateral trade, estimated to represent $15-20 million each month. (Edith Oltay) HUNGARIAN PERSONAL SAVINGS GROW. According to the Hungarian National Bank, preliminary figures for July indicate that personal savings are increasing at an even faster pace than in previous months, MTI reported on 18 August. Personal savings at financial institutions totalled 948.8 billion forint, an increase of 34.6 billion forint in one month. A growth was registered for both forint and foreign currency savings accounts, which stood at 512.2 and 146.3 billion forint respectively, an increase of 118.9 and 4.2 billion forint since June. The increase in securities and cash holdings at financial institutions was more moderate, amounting at the end of July to 205,4 and 231 billion forint respectively. (Edith Oltay) ABOUT1,000 EX-SOVIET SOLDIERS STILL IN HUNGARY. The Hungarian daily Nepszadadsag on 17 August reported that some 1,000 former Soviet soliders were still living in Hungary one year after the withdrawal of the Southern Group of Forces. The paper said the soldiers had deserted from their units and were living in the country with forged documents, with many involved in criminal activities. Recently, police broke up a gang of ex-Soviet soldiers in the city of Kiskunhalas who were "exporting" stolen vehicles to Poland, Romania, and the republics of the former Yugoslavia. (Doug Clarke) NORDIC COUNCIL: TROOP WITHDRAWAL WOULD CONTRIBUTE TO REGIONAL STABILITY. The prime ministers of the five Nordic states on 17 August urged Russia to withdraw its troops from the Baltic states, saying that "a rapid and positive solution" to the problem of Russian troop presence would "contribute to the stability of the whole region." The nordic leaders, meeting for two days on the Danish island of Bornholm, also urged an immediate withdrawal from the Baltic capitals. The three Baltic prime minsters are due to join the Nordic Council today (18 August). (Riina Kionka) GORBACHEV: TROOP PRESENCE = REGIONAL STABILITY. In an interview with the RFE/RL Russian Service on 17 August, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev said he saw the presence of former Soviet troops in the Baltic states as a stabilizing factor, adding that he was therefore opposed to a speedy withdrawal. Gorbachev said his views on the issue are close to those of Russia's Civic Union, a coalition of three political parties calling for slowed reforms. (Riina Kionka) LATVIA AGREES TO IMF CONDITIONS. The Latvian government's refusal to hand over millions of rubles to Russia has become a stumbling block for the allocation of western credits ot Latvia, AFP reports. The IMF, whose director Michel Camdessus is visiting Riga today (18 August), says that in order to get western credits, Latvia must return the Russian rubles withdrawn from circulation after Latvia began issuing its own ruble in May. Latvia's Minister of State Affairs Janis Dinevics is against returning the money. The return of the rubles is one of the few unresolved issues standing in the way of an $80 million aid package. Latvia has already agreed to a number of other IMF requirements, including raising taxes and cutting its budget deficit. (Riina Kionka) US BUSINESSES: GETTING TO KNOW YOU. Representatives of some 20 American companies are getting acquainted with investment possibilities in the Baltic states on a tour sponsored by the Overseas Private Investments Corporation (OPIC). Managers from such firms as Eli Lilly, Dow and Caterpillar began their four-day Baltic tour on 17 August in Estonia, where they are holding discussions on investment courtesy of the government guarantee agency (OPIC). (Riina Kionka) SIX UNIONS TEST STRENGTH IN PROTEST CALL. Scattered new strikes broke out in Poland on 17 and 18 August, as the day arrived for the national protest organized by six radical and postcommunist trade unions. Attempting to replicate the experience of Solidarity in 1980, the six-union strike committee had sought initially to force the government to open talks by threatening a general strike. The government failed to budge, however, apparently leading the six unions to adopt a less ambitious protest formula. So far, larger or smaller parts of the work force at four coal mines (Czeczott, Piast, Rozbark, and Chwalowice) have responded to a strike call by Solidarity '80. The farmers' union Self-Defense has threatened to erect roadblocks, while the OPZZ plans mass meetings. Should the six-union committee fail to rouse a convincing response among the nation's industrial workers, the government could regain the upper hand in dealing with the strikes. (Louisa Vinton) WALESA: "THERE ARE LIMITS." Presidential spokesman Andrzej Drzycimski warned on 17 August that labor conflicts cannot drag on indefinitely. In the case of a threat to national security President Walesa will take action. This danger is not imminent, Drzycimski stressed. Walesa is still prepared to mediate in the conflict at the Polska Miedz copper combine, but only if the strike there ends. "The president does not deny that demands are just, but there are limits to [our] ability to meet them." Rapid privatization is the long-term remedy for strikes, in the president's view. Appearing on the television program "Panorama" on 15 August, the president's economic adviser, Andrzej Olechowski, described the current strikes as "an attempt to leap the fence in the other direction" (a reference to Walesa's leap over the fence in 1980 to take charge of the strike at the Gdansk shipyard) and said that fulfilling the 21 demands of the six-union strike committee would mean a return to a centrally-planned economy. (Louisa Vinton) SOLIDARITY SKEPTICAL ABOUT STRIKES. In an appeal to the Solidarity organization in the copper region, Solidarity leader Marian Krzaklewski asked unionists to consider withdrawing from the Polska Miedz strike and accepting the wage package negotiated by Solidarity before the strike began. That package, Krzaklewski said, was the only realistic option. Moreover, it "respected the principle of solidarity with other members of our union and workers at other plants . . . where wage levels are often lower than the amount of the pay increase demanded" by the copper combine strike committee. Krzaklewski explained that Solidarity had not joined the six-union strike committee because of its "unambiguously political" ambitions and its domination by "ex- and crypto-communist structures." (Louisa Vinton) ROMANIAN PREMIER CALLS FOR FURTHER CUTS IN SUBSIDIES. In an interview with Radio Bucharest on 17 August, Romania's Prime Minister Theodor Stolojan said that his country should go ahead with plans to cut food-price subsidies by a further 25% on 1 September. Earlier subsidy cuts led in May to a sharp increase in prices for staples and services. Stolojan acknowledged that the move could have a negative impact on voters ahead of general elections scheduled for 27 September. But he said that the country's economic reform policy should not be linked to the electoral campaign. (Dan Ionescu) ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER WARNS HUNGARY OVER TRANSYLVANIA. Romania's foreign minister Adrian Nastase warned Hungary that a forthcoming pan-Hungarian congress in Budapest might damage bilateral relations by fostering separatist tendencies among ethnic Hungarians in Transylvania. In a letter to his Hungarian counterpart that was broadcast by Radio Bucharest on 17 August, Nastase expressed "deep concern" over statements made in advance of that conference, which, he claimed, had an "inciting and slanderous character." (Dan Ionescu) ILIESCU DENIES ASSAULTING NEWSPAPER REPORTER. A spokesman for Romanian president Ion Iliescu denied on 17 August allegations by journalists that he had jostled a newsman in Constanta two days before. Radio Bucharest quoted the spokesman as saying that the president had only "conducted a dialogue" with the reporter, who had joined a group heckling Iliescu. Journalists who witnessed the incident insisted that the president grabbed the newsman by his arms and neck, leaving some bruises. The Romanian Journalists' Association offered legal assistance to those journalists who wanted to take the case to the courts. (Dan Ionescu)
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.