Absence makes the heart grow fonder. -
RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 158, 19 August 1992





SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR

GEORGIAN TROOPS STORM ABKHAZ PARLIAMENT. Georgian National Guard
troops under Defense Minister Tengiz Kitovani reentered the Abkhaz
capital of Sukhumi on 18 August and stormed the parliament building;
an unconfirmed Interfax report said that five people were killed.
The status of Abkhaz parliament Chairman Vladislav Ardzinba,
whose resignation Kitovani had demanded, and who fled to Gudauta
with other ethnic Abkhaz parliament deputies, is unclear. Georgia's
Iprinda news agency denied a Georgian TV report that Ardzinba
had resigned. It is also unclear whether the storming of the
parliament was condoned by Georgian State Council Chairman Eduard
Shevardnadze. Georgian Prime Minister Tengiz Sigua had announced
previously that Georgian troops would remain in Abkhazia only
to safeguard roads and railways as part of a joint Georgian-Abkhaz
force. Shevardnadze was quoted as arguing that "every issue should
be resolved by the way of dialogue and negotiations," during
a closed meeting of the State Council on 18 August. (Liz Fuller)


THE NORTH CAUCASUS AND EVENTS IN ABKHAZIA. The Russian government
appealed to the peoples of the North Caucasus on 18 August to
show restraint and "refrain from actions leading to a destabilization
of the situation in the region," ITAR-TASS reported. The leadership
of Karachaevo-Cherkessia said there could be no question of sending
any volunteers to support the Abkhaz, and the president of Adigeya,
Aslan Dzharimov, told Rossiiskaya gazeta of 18 August that Adigeya,
Kabardino-Balkaria, Dagestan, Karachaevo-Cherkessia and Krasnodar
krai had appealed to the leaders of Georgia, Abkhazia and Russia
to put an immediate stop to military actions. In the Chechen
capital of Groznyi, however, the president of the Confederation
of Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus, Musa Shanibov, called on
the peoples of the Caucasus to support the Abkhaz in their struggle
for self-determination, and 4,000 volunteers reportedly had already
signed up. (Ann Sheehy)

CIS CHIEFS OF STAFF MEET. The Committee of the Chiefs of Staff
of the CIS Armed Forces held its first meeting, in Moscow, on
18 August. According to ITAR-TASS the deputy defense ministers
and chiefs of staff from all the CIS member states except Moldova
were present. General Viktor Samsonov, the chief of the General
Staff of the United CIS Armed Forces presided over the closed
meeting, where the participants were said to have discussed "the
exchange of information among the staff headquarters and other
issues of coordination." (Doug Clarke)

MORE DISSONANCE ON KURILE ISLANDS? Interfax reported on 18 August
that, according to a source in the CIS Navy, an order has been
issued to reinforce military units stationed on the disputed
South Kurile Islands. The order reportedly came from the General
Staff (presumably the Russian one). In particular, the report
said, the coastal naval missile battalion stationed on Iterup
Island will, by 1993, double both its manpower and the number
of missiles it deploys. If true, the order contradicts President
Yeltsin's clearly stated policy of withdrawing all Russian forces
from the disputed islands by 1995. (Stephen Foye)

NAZARBAEV TO PROPOSE CIS BANKING UNION. Kazakhstan President
Nursultan Nazarbaev told Rabochaya tribuna of 18 August that
he would propose the creation of a normal banking union at the
next session of the CIS heads of state. Nazarbaev said that a
single ruble zone was an objective necessity, but the ruble should
be not a Russian currency but a supranational one. He maintained
that there was no ruble zone as long as the non-Russian republics
had no say in the printing of rubles and the volume of credits.
He added that, if the other CIS states did not support the banking
union, then Kazakhstan would go ahead with Russia. The president
of the US Federal Reserve Bank, Gerald Kerrigan, had come to
Kazakhstan at Nazarbaev's invitation to help draw up the necessary
documents. Earlier attempts to set up a CIS interstate bank floundered
when Russia insisted on exercising control. (Ann Sheehy)

KRAVCHUK ASSESSES UKRAINE'S FIRST YEAR OF INDEPENDENCE . . .
In connection with the forthcoming first anniversary of Ukraine's
declaration of independence (24 August), President Leonid Kravchuk
gave a press conference in Kiev on 18 August. Kravchuk declared
that, despite the problems facing the fledgling state, independence
was the "only right way" and that there could be no return to
the previous Union, CIS and Western agencies reported. Reviewing
the last year, Kravchuk acknowledged the difficulties Ukraine
has had in overcoming its economic crisis and raising the standard
of living. However, he stressed that significant progress had
been made toward consolidating the republic's statehood and "establishing
the principles of democracy, freedom and justice." (Bohdan Nahaylo)


. . . DISMISSES GORBACHEV'S CALL FOR A NEW UNION. Kravchuk also
categorically rejected Mikhail Gorbachev's recent calls for the
formation of a new Union (see RFE/RL Daily Report, 18 August).
According to the Financial Times, Kravchuk said that: "To force
upon the people this idea, which has compromised itself and which
is responsible for the worst features of our society, would be
unwise and tragic." (Bohdan Nahaylo)

. . . INTERPRETS BLACK SEA FLEET AGREEMENT. Kravchuk also specified
that, in his view, the Yalta agreement on the Black Sea Fleet
signified that the fleet would be divided between the two countries
by 1995. A number of commentators have interpreted the agreement
to mean that the fleet would be divided only after the three-year
transitional period that ends in 1995. Kravchuk nevertheless
defended the agreement as a "necessary political compromise in
a difficult period for both Ukraine and Russia." (Stephen Foye)


. . . RULES OUT REINTRODUCTION OF RUBLE. Kravchuk openly rebuked
his central bank chairman, arguing that "the national bank exists
to carry out the will of the state, no more no less." Kravchuk
rejected the proposal made on 15 August by Vadim Hetman that
the ruble be reintroduced into the Ukrainian economy as a means
of bailing out the coupon (described by the Financial Times of
19 August as "Ukraine's faltering pseudo-currency"). Kravchuk
announced that, on 1 October, the coupon would assume all the
functions of a true currency apart from convertibility. Currently,
it accounts for 97% of cash transactions in Ukraine, but cannot
be used in non-cash operations. (Keith Bush)



BASHKORTOSTAN TO TAKE RUSSIA TO CONSTITUTIONAL COURT? The chairman
of the Bashkir parliament, Murtaza Rakhimov, said that Bashkortostan
will lodge a complaint with the Russian Constitutional Court,
if upcoming talks with Russia on Russia's annulment of Bashkortostan's
decision to add all local tax revenues to the republic's budget
produce no results, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 18 August.
Rakhimov was commenting on the joint declaration by Bashkortostan,
Tatarstan, and Sakha (Yakutia) on this issue. He said Russia
was blockading his republic by not giving it cash or credits,
and pointed out that Bashkortostan was in a position to cut oil
and gas supplies to Russia. Rakhimov maintained that Russia's
actions violated the Bashkortostan protocol to the federal treaty.
(Ann Sheehy)

RUSSIAN WORKERS LOATH TO STRIKE. Russia's official unions, the
Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia (FNPR), have
announced the results of a poll conducted among their members,
Interfax reported on 14 August. Of 10 million workers polled
by the FNPR, only 10% said they would support a strike to protest
the Gaidar government's policies. This does not mean workers
are happy with their lot: 86% of those polled said they were
ready to take part in rallies and protest demonstrations. But
the poll does cast doubt on the claims of the industrial lobby
that there will be a "social explosion" unless the government
relaxes its reforms, and it suggests that the unions have little
authority with Russia's workers. (Elizabeth Teague)

CANADA HALTS GRAIN SHIPMENTS TO RUSSIA. The Canadian Wheat Board
has halted all shipments of grain to Russia because of unpaid
bills, The Toronto Globe and Mail reported on 18 August. A spokesman
for the Board said that the suspension would remain in effect
until "they get their payment problems under some control, and
provide us with a plan of action for dealing with their outstanding
arrears." Russia reportedly requested a moratorium on its arrears
in June, which was rejected. However, Russia has made no interest
payments since then, and is now more than 100 days in arrears.
It is not known how much of the Canadian $1.5 billion line of
credit has already been drawn by Russia. (Keith Bush)

CONFUSION OVER RUSSIAN GRAIN IMPORTS IN 1992. At a news conference
in Moscow on 18 August, Russian Agricultural Minister Viktor
Khlystun said that the domestic grain harvest is now expected
to amount to 96-97 million tons and that 10 million tons more
grain will be imported, Interfax reported. Khlystun's statement
was misreported by some agencies who interpreted this to mean
that the total amount of grain imported in 1992 would be around
10 million tons. In fact, according to ITAR-TASS of 17 August,
14.7 million tons of grain have already been imported by Russia
during the first seven months of 1992. (Keith Bush)

RUSSIAN FARM MANAGERS FINED. Khlystun also announced that some
1,500 directors of state-run farms have been fined for "criminal
activities" linked with opposition to reform. He did not specify
the nature of the crimes, but it is thought that he meant directors
who have refused to allocate plots of land or who have given
greatly inferior plots to would-be private farmers. The fines
ranged up to 10,000 rubles. The minister also said that the full
privatization of state-owned farms and food-processing plants
would take 5-6 years, and he noted that the sale of privately-owned
land is not possible for the time being because there are no
government guidelines for regulating land transactions. (Keith
Bush)

TURKISH DIPLOMATIC DELEGATION TO VISIT ARMENIA. A high-ranking
Turkish delegation will visit Armenia on 22 August to evaluate
the relations between the two countries, Reuters reported, quoting
the Anadolu News Agency. A senior Armenian diplomat said the
discussions will include supplying Turkish power to Armenia;
Turkey is concerned that Armenia may, with German help, reactivate
the Medzamor nuclear power station near Erevan, which was suspected
of leaking radiation in the early 1980s. Attempts by Armenian
President Levon Ter-Petrossyan over the past two years to improve
Armenian relations with Turkey have been hindered by the ongoing
conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. (Liz Fuller)

UZBEKISTAN TO BUY TURKISH SUGAR. Uzbekistan will purchase 250,000
tons of sugar from Turkey with some of the $250 million in credits
supplied to Uzbekistan through Turkey's Eximbank, Reuters reported
on 15 August. The breakdown of inter-CIS trade has severely curtailed
Uzbekistan's sugar imports. The consumer price for sugar has
been maintained at eight rubles per kilo (with government subsidies
of thirty-two rubles per kilo), while in Moscow the price rose
to seventy rubles in April. (Cassandra Cavanaugh)

KAZAKHSTAN FORMS OWN BORDER TROOPS. Kazakhstan's President Nursultan
Nazarbaev has issued a decree creating border troops for the
country on the basis of the existing border guard units stationed
there, Kaztag-TASS reported on 18 August. The move is in accord
with CIS agreements on protection of borders. Kazakhstan is also
assuming jurisdiction over the former Dzerzhinski Higher School
for Border Troops in Alma-Ata which, along with Kazakhstan's
border troops, will be subordinate to the republic's National
Security Committee (formerly KGB) rather than to its military
establishment. (Bess Brown)

TAJIKISTAN AGREEMENT HAS LITTLE EFFECT. An agreement signed in
July between leaders of armed factions and political parties
in Tajikistan to stop fighting and disarm has had little effect,
Tajik Minister of Internal Affairs Mamadaez Navzhuvanov said
on Dushanbe TV, as cited by ITAR-TASS on 18 August. The main
reason for the failure of the Khorog Agreement has been the refusal
of opposing groups to give up their weapons; more arrive constantly
from Afghanistan, and some weapons are also being brought from
other CIS states, according to Navzhuvanov. He blamed opposition
leaders for having left the job of disarming their supporters
to the law enforcement agencies, and said that the militia will
not engage in bloodletting in order to take the weapons by force.
(Bess Brown)

ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK TO ACCEPT CENTRAL ASIANS. Membership in
the Asian Development bank(ADB) for the former Soviet Central
Asian Republics and Azerbaijan is close to confirmation, according
to an article in the Japanese daily Mainiti, quoted by ITAR-TASS
on 18 August. Using data collected during a recent three-week
visit to the six countries, ADB experts are now calculating the
membership dues for each state, to be set according to the per
capita national product. Membership, which will allow the states
to receive development assistance from the bank, is expected
to be granted in about one year. (Cassandra Cavanaugh)

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

BRITAIN PLEDGES 1,800 TROOPS FOR BOSNIA. The BBC on 18 August
interviewed Prime Minister John Major, who said that London would
make the soldiers available to protect relief convoys and stressed
that they would not be involved in fighting. He did not say what
would happen if the troops were shot at or otherwise attacked.
On 19 August, the Washington Post carries a story on a Senate
staff report released the previous day. The document says that
the Serbian policy of "ethnic cleansing" "has been so brutal
that it probably has caused more deaths than the bombing and
shelling of Bosnian cities."The report was prepared by two staffers
who visited the area from 7-14 August. (Patrick Moore)

NEW PRIME MINISTER NOMINATED FOR REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA. Kiro
Gligorov, President of the Republic of Macedonia, named Branko
Crvenkovski as the prime-minister designate on 17 August. The
leader of the Social Democractic Alliance (the former communist
party), Crvenkovski is a member of parliament. He follows a Petar
Gotsev, also a member of the Social Democratic Alliance and an
MP, nominated on 15 July for that same post. Gotsev was unable
to secure the needed support for the coalition which he proposed
to form, one which excluded the nationalist Internal Macedonian
Revolutionary Organization- Democractic Party for National Unity,
and included representatives of Albanian parties. Crvenkovski
will have 20 days in which to form a government and present it
to the legislature. (Duncan Perry)

CZECHOSLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTER GOES TO BELGRADE Czechoslovak Foreign
Minister Jozef Moravcik is leaving today for a fact-finding mission
to Belgrade, Czechoslovak Radio reported. He will be heading
a delegation of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in
Europe which will also include German and Swedish foreign ministry
officials and the Director of the Prague-based CSCE Secretariat,
Nils Eliasson. The group will hold talks with Serbian President
Slobodan Milosevic and representatives of Serbs in Bosnia. (Jan
Obrman)

WORST TRAIN ACCIDENT IN BULGARIA IN FIFTY YEARS. By evening,
18 August, at least eight people were known dead and more than
60 injured in what has been characterized by authorities as Bulgaria's
worst railroad accident in 50 years. Late in the day on 17 August,
a westbound express passenger train coming from the resort city
of Burgas, with reportedly about 520 people on board, slammed
into a freight train in the Kazichene station, about 10 miles
east of Sofia. Eight passenger cars were derailed. The engineers
of the freight train had failed to heed a stop signal and the
freight train moved onto the same track as the passenger train.
Rescue workers, using primative equipment and lacking a crane,
worked through the night to free passengers trapped in the wreckage.
The engineers responsible have been arrested and 21 other railroad
officials have been dismissed as a result of the accident. BTA
reported that Minister of Transport, Alexander Alexandrov, will
tender his resignation. (Duncan Perry)

NEW PIPELINE TO BE READY BY 1995. The Czechoslovak daily Hospodarske
Noviny reported on 18 August that a new oil pipeline connecting
the Czech Republic with the Bavarian city of Ingolstadt is to
be completed by 1995. The project will cost close to 600 million
German Marks and will have an annual capacity of 2.7 million
tons (about a third of the Czech Republic's needs). Czech officials
have repeatedly warned that a dependence on Soviet deliveries
of crude oil could create political and economic problems and
expressed concern over the possibility of political blackmail
by Slovakia as the only existing pipeline to the Czech Republic
goes through Slovak territory. (Jan Obrman)

EC DECISION ON CZECHOSLOVAK STEEL EXPORTS The European Community
made public on 18 August the 1992 quotas for Czechoslovak steel
tube exports to Germany and recommended quotas for other Czechoslovak
steel exports to Germany, France, and Italy. The EC Commission
cited complaints that the sudden cheap steel shipments from Czechoslovakia
were threatening steel plants in West Europe. Germany claimed
that the influx of cheap steel from Czechoslovakia was undercutting
EC steel prices by 20 to 30%. The Commission said that in 1992
sales of Czechoslovak steel should rise only about 20% over last
year. Actual sales rose up to 575% in the first months of this
year. (Jan Obrman)

HUNGARIAN AND AUSTRIAN PRESIDENTS MEET. Hungarian President Arpad
Goncz and his Austrian counterpart Thomas Klestil met in Sopron
on 18 August for unofficial talks, MTI reported. The talks focused
on the crisis in former Yugoslavia and the the refugee question.
The two presidents told an international press conference that
their countries will not provide soldiers to participate in a
possible UN military action in former Yugoslavia, and called
on European countries to share the burden of caring for refugees.
Goncz advocated the sending of UN observers to Voivodina, where
the Hungarian minority in Serbia lives. (Edith Oltay)

STATEMENT ON HUNGARIAN MINORITIES. The Hungarian government issued
on 18 August a statement supporting Hungarian minorities' efforts
to preserve their ethnic identity by achieving various forms
of autonomy, MTI reported. The statement said that the Hungarian
minorities anywhere do not question the borders of states in
which they live but seek either cultural or, in regions where
they form a majority, territorial autonomy. It condemned the
"anachronistic idea of national exclusiveness," as the greatest
obstacle to the democratic transformation of the region. Countries
espousing this idea looked upon minorities' efforts to preserve
their ethnic identity with suspicion, and even regarded them
as an obstacle to the state order and unity. The statement urged
the international community to adopt collective steps to put
an end to "inciting of hatred against minorities," pointing to
the "tragic conflict of the Southern Slav countries" as an example
of the consequences of such a policy. (Edith Oltay)

BORNHOLM MEETING ENDS. In an 18 August RFE/RL Estonian Service
interview, Prime Minister Tiit Vahi said the Bornholm meeting
of the five Nordic prime ministers and their three Baltic counterparts
had discussed Nordic-Baltic cooperation and relations with Russia.
Vahi said that the group talked at length about nationality problems,
and that Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt noted that the Baltic
states do not face "the classic problem of ethnic minorities"
in that minorities comprise just a small percentage of the total
population. Vahi added that Estonia does not differentiate between
the political rights of ethnic Estonians and non-Estonians, but
rather between the political rights of citizens and non-citizens.
(Riina Kionka)

LANDSBERGIS: RUSSIAN TV IS ANTI-BALTIC. Chairman of the Lithuanian
Supreme Council Vytautas Landsbergis told reporters on 18 August
that the Russian TV news program Vesti is conducting an anti-Baltic
campaign. According to a Lithuanian Supreme Council press release
of 18 August, the same day's Vesti announced in one of its news
segments that the Baltic states are throwing non-local residents
out of their homes and jobs, are not allowing them to learn the
native languages and are driving them into separated ghettos.
The press release quotes Landsbergis denying the allegations
and saying "this is an especially gross and primitive provocation."
(Riina Kionka)

POLISH GOVERNMENT APPROVES MASS PRIVATIZATION, DEBT RELIEF. The
first fruits of the new government's determination to deal with
the problems of state industry emerged on 18 August, when the
cabinet accepted draft legislation on mass privatization and
debt relief for state firms. In planning since 1991, mass privatization
had been persistently blocked by political upheaval. The government
proposes establishing 20 national investment funds to manage
400 commercialized state enterprises. After paying 10% of the
average monthly wage, each adult will receive a certificate entitling
him to one share in each investment fund. Certificates will be
negotiable. Workers in affected firms will receive 10% of the
shares in their enterprise free of charge. Privatization officials
estimated that each certificate will initially have a market
value of one million zloty (about $75), but said this could increase
tenfold in a few years. The government also approved legislation
enabling banks to reduce the debts of state firms that have recovery
prospects while abandoning hopeless bankrupts. (Louisa Vinton)


SIX-UNION PROTEST BRINGS MORE STRIKES. The protest call of the
six radical unions that are attempting to force the government's
hand on economic policy brought a scattered response. Seven coal
mines held strikes or protests under the aegis of Solidarity
'80. Some 80 workers who tried to stage a strike at the Gdansk
shipyard were promptly fired. The Self-Defense farmers' union
blocked a highway between Poznan and Wroclaw; police did not
intervene but warned the union it could face legal action. The
OPZZ announced it would stage a national one-hour protest action
on 21 August, but would not attempt a general strike. In the
meantime, Solidarity's coal-mining section announced it would
refrain from protests to allow the government a chance to present
its restructuring plans. The prime minister's press adviser announced
after the cabinet session on 18 August that current strikes are
not political in nature and that the government is willing to
negotiate with all law-abiding trade unions. While prepared to
take measures necessary to ensure national security, the government
feels the best answer to workers' protests is its legislative
package on state firms. (Louisa Vinton)

SELF-DEFENSE UNION TO BE BANNED? Responding to speculation in
the press, Justice Ministry officials announced on 18 August
that there are as yet no plans to ask the courts to ban the radical
farmers' union Self-Defense. Ministry officials said, however,
that the chief prosecutor's office has assumed supervision of
the six criminal cases pending against Self-Defense in various
parts of the country. The government also published a list of
the union's unlawful acts, including an attack on a policeman,
erecting roadblocks, arson threats, terrorizing bank and court
officials, and interfering with the work of bailiffs. A government
statement said that this list showed that Self-Defense members
"engage in illegal acts, violating safety and public order."
(Louisa Vinton)

MOLDOVAN PRIME MINISTER VISITING ROMANIA. Prime Minister Andrei
Sangheli arrived in Bucharest on 18 August for a two-day visit.
He will sign several agreements to boost political, economic
and cultural cooperation between Moldova and Romania. In an interview
with Radio Bucharest, Sangheli said that bilateral economic ties
would figure high on the visit's aggenda. He added that Moldova
was facing serious economic problems, largely resulting from
the transition to a market economy. (Dan Ionescu)

JAPANESE ECONOMIC DELEGATION IN ROMANIA. On 18 August Romania's
Prime Minister Theodor Stolojan received a Japanese delegation
headed by Tsutomu Tanaka, president of Japan's Economic Planning
Agency and deputy minister for international economic affairs.
In an interview with Radio Bucharest after the meeting, Tanaka
said that Romania would like to see more Japanese investments
in its economy. Tanaka suggested that Japanese investors were
waiting to see more political and economic stability in Romania,
and expressed hopes that the forthcoming Romanian elections would
bring clarificaton in that country's political and economic life.
(Dan Ionescu)


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