|The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none. - Thomas Carlyle 1975-1881|
No. 152, 20 August 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR ABKHAZ VOW TO RESIST GEORGIAN "OCCUPATION." The situation in Sukhumi on 19 August was reported by ITAR-TASS to be calm, although occasional shots were fired. Abkhaz parliament Chairman Vladislav Ardzinba, who had retreated to Gudauta with 1,500 members of the Abkhaz National Guard, denied reports of his resignation. The advance of Georgian National Guard troops northwards from Sukhumi towards Gudauta was halted by fighting near the villages of Esheri, according to Interfax. Abkhaz parliament deputy Zurab Achba warned that the Abkhaz parliament was preparing a campaign of armed resistance against the Georgian "occupation." Georgian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandre Kavsadze, who was abducted by supporters of ousted President Zviad Gamsakhurdia last month, was freed on 19 August. On his return to Tbilisi he vowed to campaign for the release of two senior Georgian security officials still held hostage. (Liz Fuller) CONFEDERATION OF MOUNTAIN PEOPLES ISSUES ULTIMATUM TO GEORGIA. The Confederation of Mountain Peoples has issued an ultimatum to Georgia to withdraw its troops from Abkhazia by 21 August and pay compensation for the damage it caused, ITAR-TASS reported on 19 August. The ultimatum was issued by an extraordinary session of the confederation's parliament meeting in Groznyi and attended by nine delegations from North Caucasian republics. If Georgia does not comply, the confederation will declare the start of hostilities against Georgia. In the meantime, a delegation from the North Caucasian republic of Adigeya has been in Moscow to discuss the situation in Abkhazia. The deputy prime minister of Adigeya, Ruslan Khadzhibekov, told ITAR-TASS on 19 August that the leaders of the North Caucasian region will meet in Armavir on 20 August to work out a common position towards Georgia. Adigeya has condemned the actions of the Georgian leadership. (Ann Sheehy) ATTEMPT TO ASSASSINATE ARMENIAN PRESIDENT? On 19 August, Radio Baku broadcast a report carried by Radio Erevan the previous day that shots had been fired at Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan as he was leaving his home on 17 August. One of Ter-Petrossyan's bodyguards was seriously injured. Radio Baku implied that the attacker was motivated by dissatisfaction with Ter-Petrossyan's policy over Nagorno-Karabakh. (Liz Fuller) "DNIESTER REPUBLIC" FORMING OWN ARMY. "Dniester republic president" Igor Smirnov announced on 13 and 14 August that the republic intends to form its own army, Interfax and DR-Press reported. On 14 and 16 August, the "Dniester republic" held military parades in Tiraspol. In speeches marking the occasion, Smirnov and the commander of Russia's 14th Army, Maj. Gen. Aleksandr Lebed, said that the 14th Army will help the "Dniester republic" to create its own army. An air show marked the debut of the "Dniester republic's" air force, consisting of planes and helicopters transferred from the 14th Army, DR-Press reported on 17 August. On 18 August, the "Supreme Soviet" in Tiraspol began deliberations on forming the republic's own army which will also include spetsnaz and border troops, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. (Vladimir Socor) "DNIESTER" RUSSIAN VOLUNTEERS FOR SERBIA. Representatives of "Working Russia" and other communist-nationalist Russian organizations are recruiting volunteers for Serbia among "Dniester" Russian armed detachments and Cossack units which had arrived on the Dniester from the Russian Federation, DR-Press press reported from Tiraspol on 17 August. Several volunteers were intercepted in Romania on their way to Serbia, the agency added. The "Serbian Republic of Krajina" formed on Croatian territory is the first entity to have extended recognition to the "Dniester republic." (Vladimir Socor) WORK ON DRAFT CIS CHARTER NEARS COMPLETION. Work on the draft CIS charter will be completed by 1 September, Ivan Korotchenya, the head of the working group responsible for organizing CIS summits, told BelInform-TASS on 19 August. The charter will set out the rights and obligations of member-states. For reasons that are not clear, the representatives of only six member-states (Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, and Uzbekistan) seem to have been taking a full part in the discussions, while Ukraine and Turkmenistan have been represented by observers. The draft charter includes sections on an economic court, a human rights commission, and collective security. The latter heading alone suggests it will not find favor with all member-states. (Ann Sheehy) LEADERS OF KAZAKHSTAN, TATARSTAN, AND BASHKORTOSTAN MEET. The presidents of Kazakhstan and Tatarstan, Nursultan Nazarbaev and Mintimer Shaymiev, and the chairman of the Bashkortostan Supreme Soviet, Murtaza Rakhimov, met in the west Kazakhstan city of Uralsk on 19 August. Kaztag-TASS reported. In a joint communique the three leaders expressed support for the preservation of a common economic space and for Nazarbaev's initiatives in strengthening integrationary processes in the CIS. They also expressed their desire for greater economic cooperation and increased contacts between their peoples. In a statement on Abkhazia they said an attempt was being made to solve political questions by force, "ignoring the legally elected organs of state power." Although the statements of the three leaders seem to have been unexceptionable, some may look with apprehension on this coming together of Kazakhstan with the two leading Muslim territories of Russia. (Ann Sheehy) YELTSIN ANNOUNCES MORE DETAILS ON VOUCHERS. President Yeltsin devoted a significant part of his television address on 19 August to privatization vouchers. Calling for the creation of "millions of owners, not a small group of millionaires," Yeltsin announced that the distribution of vouchers for buying shares of state-owned enterprises would begin on 1 October. Each Russian citizen is to receive one voucher valued at 10,000 rubles. The voucher holder may purchase available shares directly, through an investment company or sell it for cash. Yeltsin also confirmed that the total value of state assets (calculated according to 1 January price levels) that will be made available for purchase through the voucher program is 1,400 billion rubles. (Erik Whitlock) NEW PROPOSAL TO COMBAT "SCISSORS CRISIS." Minister of Agriculture Viktor Klystun has proposed a new approach to reversing the growing disparity between agricultural and industrial goods' prices, according to the Financial Times on 19 August. This disparity, often referred to as the "scissors crisis," has caused severe financial problems for the agricultural sector which receives low prices for its output, but must buy high-priced industrial inputs. Klystun's idea is to privatize the sectors in such a way as to integrate industrial and agricultural firms. Creating cross-ownership, in Klystun's view, will reduce the present monopolistic behavior of the industrial firms towards the agricultural sector. (Erik Whitlock) RUSSIAN TRADE BANK OBSTACLE TO MILLIONS IN TRADE. The Russian Trade Bank, Rosvneshtorgbank, which handles most of Russia's financial transactions with foreigners, is impeding billions of dollars worth of business with the West, according to the Journal of Commerce on 14 August. The US Export-Import Bank alone has approved financing for 113 million dollar trade and investment projects between Russian and American firms that are awaiting required cosignatures from the Russian bank. The German trade bank, Dresdner, also has millions worth of deals caught in the Rosvneshtorgbank bottleneck. The report gave little indication why the Russian bank is not processing the credits. (Erik Whitlock). RUSSIA SEEKS MORE GERMAN CREDITS. A visiting Russian delegation asked the German government on 13 August for an additional two-year import credit to purchase urgently needed food, raw materials, and medical supplies, The Journal of Commerce reported on 14 August. The German government was reported to be hesitant about the request as it has earmarked its export credit insurance program to help companies in the eastern part of Germany export to the former Soviet Union. Bonn has already authorized Hermes export credits to the value of DM 5 billion mostly to firms in the eastern part of the country that are trading with the former Soviet Union. (Keith Bush) GORBACHEV'S ROLE IN YELTSIN'S CAREER. Gorbachev told Radio Liberty on 14 August that, when Boris Yeltsin resigned as Moscow Party boss in October 1987, Yeltsin asked to retire on a pension. But, telling him "life still lies ahead," Gorbachev insisted that Yeltsin take the job of deputy construction minister instead. The first disgraced Soviet leader ever to return to politics, Yeltsin bounced back to the limelight in the parliamentary elections of March 1989. (Volik Rahr) REVELATIONS ABOUT PUTSCH. Izvestiya of 13 August published excerpts from an interview which Russian Prosecutor Valentin Stepankov recently gave to the German magazine, Stern. Stepankov revealed that former KGB chief Vladimir Kryuchkov found out that Gorbachev and Yeltsin had concluded a secret agreement to change the government and replace Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov with Kazakh leader Nursultan Nazarbaevz. Stepankov further suggested that although Gorbachev had lost control over the country's nuclear weapons during his isolation in the Crimea, the Army General Staff never lost that control. (Alexander Rahr, Moscow) PAKISTAN HALTS FLIGHTS TO UZBEKISTAN. Pakistan International Airlines was forced to suspend a weekly flight to Uzbekistan scheduled for Sunday, 17 August, due to fighting in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, AFP reported on 16 August. The shelling has disrupted air traffic around the capital. There is no word as to when the flights will resume. (Cassandra Cavanaugh) MORE UZBEK DEMOCRATS ARRESTED, BEATEN. Megalopolis Ekspress confirmed on 19 August what Russian TV reported on 12 August, that another leader of the Uzbek popular democratic movement "Birlik," former USSR People's Deputy and member of the commission investigating the 1991 August putsch, Pulat Akhunov, was arrested in the city of Andijan, and accused of assault. Ironically, other leaders of "Birlik" have been recently subject to random beatings, presumed to have been carried out on government orders. Among the recent victims is Bobir Shakhirov, a dissident imprisoned in the 1970s, who recently proposed the idea of a "milli mejlis" or national popular assembly, and who has been twice attacked by unidentified assailants. (Cassandra Cavanaugh) MORE MCDONALDS FOR MOSCOW. The Moscow city government has given a 24-year lease on a site on the Arbat to the Moscow-McDonalds joint venture, Interfax reported on 12 August. The restaurant is scheduled to open in 1994. There are plans to open 20 McDonalds fast food restaurants in the city. (Keith Bush) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE DEVELOPMENTS IN BOSNIA. On 19 August, Bosnian Foreign Minister Haris Silajdzic, speaking in Washington, offered a glimpse into Bosnia's strategy for the upcoming EC Conference on Yugoslavia in London, to be held later this month. Silajdzic said the Bosnian government would propose a significant decentralization of political authority in that republic. Constituent units controlled by individual ethnic groups would even be given some degree of independence in carrying on relations with neighboring states, apparently a reference to Serb and Croat ties to their mother republics. This appears to be a significant concession on the part of the Bosnian Muslims, who have up to now refused to negotiate while fighting continued, and had insisted on a unitary state structure for the republic. (Gordon Bardos) SERBIAN PARTIES FAIL TO AGREE ON TALKS. The 19 August meeting of the ruling Socialist Party (SPS) and 13 opposition parties, designed to organize round table talks preparing the upcoming November elections in Serbia, failed to yield any concrete results. Most opposition parties maintained that the talks should decide problems, while the SPS and Serbian insisted that anything discussed there should only be taken as recommendations. Consultations on organizing the round table are to continue next week. Also next week the federal government begins similar talks on preparing federal elections. Vuk Draskovic, leader of Serbia's largest opposition party, the Serbian Renewal Movement, refused to take part in the talks. (Milan Andrejevich) CROATIAN FORCES CLASH IN BOSNIA. The Belgrade, Ljubljana and international media reported on 19 August that there have been an increasing number of clashes between Croatian forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina in recent weeks. Clashes involve Croatia's Defense Council forces (HVO) stationed in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Croatian Defense Forces (HOS), the ultra-right military arm of the Croatian Party of Rights. On 9 August a HOS general and 8 of his troopers were slain by HVO troops in Herzegovina. HOS retaliated by attacking HVO positions. One HVO officer told Britain's ITN on 19 August that "we will eliminate HOS because they have ruined Croatia's reputation." (Milan Andrejevich) POLAND'S COPPER STRIKE SUSPENDED. The month-old strike at the Polska Miedz copper combine was suspended indefinitely shortly after midnight on 20 August, PAP reported. Finance ministry officials apparently agreed to adjust the combine's status under the excess wages tax, which would allow for limited wage increases. The apparent conclusion of the strike by some 38,000 employees at Poland's largest industrial plant may take the wind out of the sails of the radical and postcommunist unions that are attempting to use pay disputes to force the government to abandon market economic policies. (Louisa Vinton) POLAND'S STRIKE SITUATION. Frustrated by the lukewarm response to its call for a national protest on 18 August, the six-union strike committee threatened even more radical actions beginning 20 August. It also demanded across-the-board raises of 1,100,000 zloty for every employee and pensioner in Poland "in order to restore the living standards of 1989." The radical farmers' union Self-Defense threatened to block highways at 60 points; a Silesian train drivers' union declared a general strike on regional railways; and the postcommunist miners' union said it would open a protest. The response to these protest calls is unlikely to match the radicalism of the strike committee's rhetoric. Only a handful of coal mines remained on strike on 20 August, and the railway protest got off to a half-hearted start, perhaps thanks to warnings by the railway management that the strike was illegal because mediation was in process. Solidarity's train drivers' section cautioned its members against taking part and warned of possible legal consequences. The Gdansk shipyard management asked police to evict the 40 workers who persisted in staging a sit-down strike on the premises; the police declined to act unless a crime was committed. (Louisa Vinton) GOVERNMENT'S FIRM STANCE PAYING OFF? As the six trade unions intent on politicizing Poland's labor conflicts seemed to fall short of their aim to repeat the experience of August 1980, the government restated its determination to hold firm and offer systemic solutions rather than local remedies for strikes. Speaking in Cracow on 19 August, Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka said that anarchy and destabilization were not imminent threats. While willing to negotiate with all law-abiding trade unions, the government "refuses to race around Poland to answer their every call." This approach is evidence of determination, not arrogance, Suchocka said. She added that her cabinet's goal is to eliminate the causes, not the consequences, of public dissatisfaction. (Louisa Vinton) WORLD POLES CONGRESS OPENS IN CRACOW. Both Suchocka and President Lech Walesa attended the opening session of the Congress of Polonia and Poles from Abroad on 19 August in Cracow. This is the first such congress to be held in Poland since the war. Suchocka told the 300 delegates that Poland was open to all Poles who wanted to return to their homeland, but was not equipped to conduct an organized repatriation campaign for Poles living in the former Soviet Union. (Louisa Vinton) BALTICS AND THE UN. The Baltic representatives have formally appealed to the UN to take up the issue of former Soviet troops remaining in the Baltic states, western agencies report. In a 19 August letter to the UN Secretary General Boutros-Ghali, the Baltic representatives said that they have not seen much progress from European organizations such as the CSCE, and that bilateral talks with Russia "have been largely unsuccessful." Meanwhile, a Russian human rights expert attached to a UN subcommission dealing with protection of minorities told reporters on 19 August in Geneva that Estonia and Latvia have adopted "discriminatory legislation" vis-à-vis non-Baltics living in the area. Stanislav Chernichenko, who claimed ethnic Russians do not have the right to own land in Estonia and Latvia, said the situation in Lithuania is "not as bad." In fact, land ownership in Estonia and Latvia is determined not by a person's ethnicity but by his or her citizenship status. (Riina Kionka) SWEDISH BANK TRADES IN KROONS. The Swedish bank Forex has become the second foreign bank to buy and sell the Estonian kroon, the RFE/RL Estonian Service reported on 19 August. Last month, the Lithuanian bank Litimpex was the first foreign bank to trade in kroons, and last week a Finnish bank became the first outside the former Soviet Baltic states to accept kroons for deposit. (Riina Kionka) ZHIRINOVSKY SPEAKS OUT. The leader of Russia's so-called Liberal-Democratic Party has called for a reassertion of Russian control over the Baltic states, western agencies report. Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who recently returned from a trip to Germany where he met with a number of like-minded extreme rightist political parties, also told reporters on 19 August that Zionism and the United States are the two enemies of Europe. "Zionists think up ideas and the US puts them into practice," Zhirinovsky said. (Riina Kionka) LANDSBERGIS CONGRATULATES YELTSIN. Chairman of the Lithuanian Supreme Council Vytautas Landsbergis sent Russian President Boris Yeltsin a note congratulating Yeltsin on the coup anniversary, ITAR-TASS reports. Landsbergis's message reportedly called the coup "the victory of Russia's democratic forces over the putschists" during which "our nations defended in solidarity democracy and the possibility of civilized development." (Riina Kionka) IMF TOUR CONTINUES. IMF Director Michel Camdessus wraps up his Baltic tour by holding talks today (20 August) in Vilnius with Lithuanian Prime Minister Aleksandras Abisala, BNS reports. The two are scheduled to discuss Lithuania's economy and the prospect of IMF loans. (Riina Kionka) WORLD BANK ASSISTANCE TO BULGARIA. John Wilton, since last week head of the World Bank's Sofia office, said in an interview published in 24 Chasa on 19 August that two requirements had to be met before a second tranche of economic assistancetotalling $100 millionwould be released. Wilton added that the money, which had already been formally allocated, would be forthcoming after Bulgarian adopts contemporary legislation on bank regulation and detailed rules on the implementation of privatization. He also mentioned the need for a law on social security. Depending on the progress of reforms, Wilton estimated that the World Bank might release some $200-300 million per annum to Bulgaria. (Kjell Engelbrekt) U.S. SENATORS VISITING CZECHOSLOVAKIA. A group of five U.S. Senators arrived in Prague on 19 August, CSTK reported. The group, headed by Senate majority leader George Mitchell, met with Czechoslovak Prime Minister Pavel Strasky and Defense Minister Imrich Andrejcak to discuss, among other things, the prospects of Czechoslovakia's disintegration. The senators said that the United States will support changes in Czechoslovakia and expressed hope that the division of Czechoslovakia will be peaceful. Strasky told the senators that while the question of Czech-Slovak relations was important, the key issue was the transformation of the economy, in particular the process of privatization. Strasky emphasized that a number of American firms already own or co-own firms in Czechoslovakia. He said that the transformation of Eastern Europe will not be possible without active US involvement. (Jan Obrman & Jiri Pehe) CZECHOSLOVAK VOUCHER PRIVATIZATION MOVING FORWARD. Czechoslovak Deputy Finance Minister Vladimir Rudlovcak was quoted by CSTK on 19 August as saying that 75 percent of the so-called investment coupons (vouchers), purchased earlier this year by Czechoslovak citizens interested in participating in the process of privatization, have been traded for company shares. 8.5 million Czechs and Slovaks bought the vouchers. The first round of share auctioning began in mid-May; the second round ended on 18 August. Rudlovcak said that in the two rounds, the demand for shares in 428 joint-stock companies was below the number of shares offered; in 42 companies the demand was greater than the supply. The third round of auctioning will start on 26 August. (Jiri Pehe) ANTALL ON HUNGARIANS ABROAD. Prime Minister Jozsef Antall said at the opening of the third world congress of Hungarians in Budapest on 19 August that "it is the constitutional duty of the Hungarian government to take responsibility for Hungarians abroad," MTI reported. Recalling that the Peace Treaty of Trianon allotted two-thirds of Hungary's territory and some 3.5 million Hungarians to neighboring countries, he said that while "no one can deny that this hurt [Hungarians]," this could not justify any demands to change borders by force, Radio Budapest reported. Antall said, however, that Hungary expected its neighbors to grant full ethnic rights to Hungarians and pledged to continue to speak out in defense of those rights, stressing that the "minority question is not an internal matter." Over 4,000 Hungarians from all over the world are attending the congress, which is the biggest international gathering of ethnic Hungarians in more than half a century. (Edith Oltay) ROMANIA AGREES TO GIVE ECONOMIC AID TO MOLDOVA. On 19 August Modlovan prime minister Andrei Sangheli ended a two-day visit to Romania. Before returning home, Sangheli signed accords with Romania that might help Moldova reduce its economic and energy dependence on the former Soviet Union. Most of Moldova's energy supplies pass through the Dniester region, and separatists there have disrupted deliveries several times. Radio Bucharest quoted Romanian prime minister Theodor Stolojan and deputy foreign minister Teodor Melescanu as saying that Romania agreed to help improve roads, banking, and tourism in Moldova. It will also try to tie Moldova into its electricity grid and oil supply network. (Dan Ionescu) ROMANIAN PRIME MINISTER CALLS FOR NORMALIZATION WITH RUSSIA. A Radio Bucharest correspondent in Moscow reported on 19 August that Romanian prime minister Theodor Stolojan had sent a message to his Russian counterpart, Egor Gaidar. The message, which was delivered by Romania's charge d'affaires in Moscow, called for a normalization of bilateral relations in all fields, and especially in the economic one. Stolojan also invited Gaidar to visit Romania. (Dan Ionescu) [As of 1200 CET]
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