|There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in. - Graham Greene|
No. 162, 25 August 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR SHEVARDNADZE ON ABKHAZIA, ELECTIONS. In a radio address on 24 August, Georgian State Council Chairman Eduard Shevardnadze reiterated that negotiations with the Abkhaz leadership can begin only after the withdrawal from Georgian territory of irregular military units subordinate to the Confederation of Caucasian Mountain Peoples, Interfax reported. Shevardnadze said that according to unconfirmed reports, up to 500 such volunteers had gathered in the Abkhaz coastal town of Gudauta to which parliament chairman Vladislav Ardzinba fled on 18 August. Shevardnadze hinted that further destabilization of the situation in Georgia could lead to postponement of the parliamentary elections scheduled for 11 October, in which he is considering standing as a candidate for the Mshvidoba (Peace) bloc. An apartment in Tbilisi adjacent to that belonging to Georgian Defense Minister Tengiz Kitovani was seriously damaged by an anti-tank missile on 24 August, according to ITAR-TASS quoting Tbilisi police sources. (Liz Fuller) YELTSIN TO INTERVENE IN ABKHAZ CONFLICT. Russian President Boris Yeltsin told the Russian Security Council on 24 August that he will take steps to end the Abkhaz conflict, and called on all parties involved to open negotiations, ITAR-TASS reported. The Security Council drew up unspecified measures aimed at stabilizing the situation, and decided to send Russian State Secretary Gennadii Burbulis to Sukhumi immediately, according to Radio Moscow. Burbulis was scheduled to begin a four-day official visit to Turkey on 25 August. In a subsequent telephone conversation with Shevardnadze, Yeltsin condemned the threatened military intervention by North Caucasian irregulars, Interfax reported. (Liz Fuller) RUSSIA SEEKS DEBT RESCHEDULING. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Shokhin implied on 24 August that Russia will seek the deferral of its foreign debt servicing at the weekend meeting with G-7 representatives, Interfax reported. Shokhin was addressing a meeting of government and local administration officials in Moscow. He was quoted as saying that, even after the rescheduling already granted in 1992, the servicing due this year is two to three times higher than hard currency earnings anticipated from Russia's exports. Russia's total hard-currency debt at mid-1992 was recently estimated to be about $74 billion. Principal and interest payments originally due in 1992 were believed to amount to some $20 billion. (Keith Bush) RUSSIAN GRAIN RESERVE ESTABLISHED. President Yeltsin has signed a decree establishing a federal grain reserve, Interfax reported on 24 August. Grain for the reserve will be purchased from within Russia, from the CIS nations, and from abroad. It is intended to combat grain speculation and to improve the supply of grain to those regions of Russia that cannot supply themselves, as well as Moscow and St. Petersburg. It was not made clear how this new reserve will differ from the state reserves that existed throughout most of the existence of the USSR. (Keith Bush) GAIDAR ON OIL PRICE INCREASES. Acting Russian Prime Minister Egor Gaidar told Interfax on 24 August that wholesale prices for fuel would not be liberated this year. He declined to disclose when and by how much fuel prices would be raised as "advance disclosure of price increases, in particular for oil, will cause speculation and the subsequent disappearance of oil products." There has recently been some confusion and imprecision concerning Russian fuel price increases. The declared strategy of the Gaidar administration is to continue to regulate the prices of energy-carriers but gradually to raise these to world levels during the next two to three years. (Keith Bush) KHASBULATOV CONTRA YELTSIN. The chairman of the Russian parliament, Ruslan Khasbulatov, has openly rejected conditions set by the International Monetary Fund for Russia. ITAR-TASS on 21 August quoted him as saying that the IMF's policy was "in principle unaccaptable" for Russia and that Russian President Boris Yeltsin now also understands that. He stated that the present government has forced the IMF program on Yeltsin. He criticized parliament for having granted Yeltsin too much power. In another statement, broadcast by Radio Rossii on 22 August, Khasbulatov said that during the days of the putsch, Yeltsin had at one time considered moving from the "White House" to the nearby US Embassy, and that he [Khasbulatov] was the one who convinced Yeltsin not to leave. (Alexander Rahr) BOOK SAYS COUP BROUGHT LOSS OF CONTROL OVER NUCLEAR WEAPONS. A new book, authored by Russian Procurator Valentin Stepankov and his assistant, Evgenii Lisov, claims that former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev lost control over launch codes for Soviet nuclear weapons during the failed August coup. The New York Times and The Washington Post on 23 August cited excerpts from the book which were published in Nezavisimaya gazeta. Stepankov and Lisov also said that communications to Gorbachev's Crimean villa and to the nuclear command center in Moscow were cut on 18 August, and they asserted that it would have been possible for Soviet commanders to have launched nuclear weapons without the president's approval. (Stephen Foye) KIEV'S INTELLIGENCE SCRUTINIZES GORBACHEV'S ROLE IN COUP. According to the chief of the intelligence directorate of the Ukrainian State Security Service, Georgii Kovtun, Mikhail Gorbachev was not isolated at his dacha in Foros during last year's attempted coup, Radio Rossii reported on 20 August. Kovtun based this statement on information he obtained during an inspection visit of the former KGB border guards in Crimea, who are now under the command of the Ukrainian State Security Service. According to the guards who were protecting Gorbachev during the coup, the former general secretary CPSU enjoyed himself swimming and playing with his granddaughter. Moreover, dozens of visitors entered Gorbachev's dacha without restriction. (Victor Yasmann) RUSSIAN/CHINESE MILITARY COOPERATION. Russian Defense Minister, General Pavel Grachev will meet with his Chinese counterpart on 25 August. He told ITAR-TASS on 24 August that the most promising areas for military cooperation between the two countries were bilateral arms reductions along their mutual border and technical cooperation, particularly Russian arms sales to China. (Doug Clarke) MORE ON RUSSIAN NAVAL APPOINTMENT. Quoting a Russian Naval spokesman, Western agencies reported on 24 August that Admiral Feliks Gromov, who was recently named commander of the Russian Navy, will have jurisdiction over Russia's Baltic, Pacific, and Northern Fleets, and will share control over the Black Sea Fleet with Ukraine. Gromov thus effectively replaces Admiral Vladimir Chernavin, who had been serving as commander in chief of CIS Naval Forces. Chernavin had adopted a highly confrontational style in negotiations with Ukraine over the Black Sea Fleet, and his removal suggests that Yeltsin may be trying to ease the way toward better relations with Kiev. According to the reports, Chernavin has been appointed by Yeltsin to head a commission tasked with preparing for the 300th anniversary celebration of the Russian Navy, a clear downgrading of his status. (Stephen Foye) ZIL PRIVATIZES. The workers' collective of the Likhachev automobile works (ZIL) decided on 21 August to turn the factory into an open joint stock company, Interfax reported. They chose the option whereby 25% of nonvoting shares will be issued free to employees, 10% of voting shares will be sold to the workforce at a discount of 30% on the nominal price of 1,000 rubles, and 5% will be sold at full nominal price to the executives. A further 10% of ZIL stock will be withheld from the market and reserved for foreign investors. Many of the 108,000 ZIL workers are expected to use their 10,000-ruble privatization vouchers to buy stock in their factory. (Keith Bush) UKRAINIANS CELEBRATE ONE YEAR OF INDEPENDENCE. Several days of celebrations of the first anniversary of the declaration of Ukraine's independence culminated on 24 August--the actual anniversary--with parades, rallies, cultural exhibitions and musical performances throughout the country. In Kiev, prayers for the newly independent state were led in the 11th century cathedral of St. Sophia by 94-year-old Ukrainian Orthodox Patriarch Mstyslav, who as a young Ukrainian soldier had witnessed the proclamation of Ukraine's short-lived independence in 1918. Among other highlights were the reopening after 175 years of the celebrated Kievan Mohyla Academy, a parade in the Ukrainian capital by the the newly formed Ukrainian National Guard and an open air rally. (Bohdan Nahaylo) KRAVCHUK ON THE CIS AND RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA. In connection with the independence anniversary celebrations, Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk was interviewed live from Kiev on August 24 by Russia's Radio Mayak. According to ITAR-TASS, Kravchuk maintained that the main element in relations between members of the CIS are the bilateral economic agreements between the individual states. He said that he forsaw a process of integration proceeding along the lines of the European Community. Interestingly, in his speeches given during the anniversary celebrations, Kravchuk refrained from criticizing Russia, though on the other hand he did not seem to attach much significance to the CIS. (Bohdan Nahaylo). MOSCOW PATRIARCH PROTESTS TO KRAVCHUK. On 22 August, the Kiev Russian-language newspaper Nezavisimost published a letter from the Moscow Patriarch Alexii to Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk expressing his concern about the religious conflict which has arisen in Ukraine after the recent split of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church into pro-independence and pro-Moscow camps. The former head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Filaret of Kiev, has joined with leaders of the independent, and formerly banned, Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church to form the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kievan Patriarchate, headed by Patriarch Mstyslav; it is opposed by Metropolitan Volodymyr, who heads the hierachy which has remained loyal to Moscow. A struggle over church property and other issues has ensued. (Bohdan Nahaylo) KAZAKHSTAN OPPOSITION SEEKS TO DEFEND JOURNALIST. The independent Alma-Ata news agency Birlesu reported on 23 August that 20 of Kazakhstan's political groups, including at least three with primarily Russian membership but not the Kazakh nationalist Azat Movement, have created a committee to defend the publicist Karishal Asanov, who was arrested on 19 August on charges of repeatedly slandering the president of the republic. The defense committee is headed by the secretary of the Alma-Ata Helsinki group, Zhemis Turmagambetova. Asanov has been unable to find a lawyer, because local lawyers are unwilling to defend him. The case is another indication of a hardening attitude on the part of President Nursultan Nazarbaev's government toward the opposition, both Kazakh and Russian. (Bess Brown) TAJIKISTAN'S STATE PROSECUTOR KILLED. Tajikistan's State Prosecutor Nurullo Khuvaidullaev and his chauffeur were killed by unidentified gunmen in Dushanbe on 24 August, ITAR-TASS and Western agencies reported. The attackers escaped in Khuvaidullaev's car. According to ITAR-TASS, investigators said that there had been earlier attempts on Khuvaidullaev's life, and in June unidentified persons had broken into his office and demanded that he drop a bribery case against the former mayor of Dushanbe, opposition sympathizer Maksud Ikramov. Khuvaidullaev's connection to the Ikramov case suggests that his murderers may be associated with the opposition, which has been provoked in recent weeks by conservative President Rakhmon Nabiev's attempts to remove opposition sympathizers from the National Security State and Defense Committees. (Bess Brown) CONFERENCE OF RUSSIAN GERMANS' "WIEDERGEBURT" SOCIETY. On 23 August a two-day conference of the Russian Germans' "Wiedergeburt" society, the more radical of the two German organizations, ended in Moscow with a compromise on the issue of emigration versus recreation of the Volga-German republic, ITAR-TASS and Western agencies reported. The chairman, Heinrich Groth, had proposed that priority be given to emigration to Germany and that the question of the restoration of the Volga-German republic be regarded as dead, but delegates refused to abandon the slogan of recreating the republic, which Russia has promised to do in stages. The conference statement demanded full rehabilitation with material compensation from Russia, and dual Russian and German citizenship. (Ann Sheehy) MOLDOVA GETS ANOTHER GAGAUZ WARNING. Delegates of the "Gagauz republic" and "Dniester republic" have signed in the Gagauz administrative center, Comrat, an "agreement of friendship and mutual assistance, including military," whereby the Gagauz would support the "Dniester" side if hostilities resume in eastern Moldova, Izvestiya reported on 21 August. Although the Gagauz signatories were not identified, it seems clear that they belong to the minority hardline faction which has been defeated by Gagauz democrats in local elections earlier this year but retains control of the "Gagauz defense detachments." That faction has previously threatened to open a second front against Moldova and has ambushed Moldovan security patrols, killing some officers and turning some of the captives over to Tiraspol. The "Dniester Republic's" decision to conclude this agreement with the Gagauz is the latest in a series of moves to strengthen its military potential during the current cease fire. (Vladimir Socor) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE WESTERN ALLIES TO RULE OUT GULF-TYPE COALITION FOR BOSNIA? The 25 August Washington Post says that the US, Britain, and France "have decided to abandon temporarily plans" for a coalition effort to ensure humanitarian aid deliveries to Bosnia, and will back a UN-sponsored approach instead. To date, few countries have been willing to pledge troops for any Bosnian operation, even for one under UN auspices and limited to the protection of aid shipments. Meanwhile at the two-day UN General Assembly session on the Bosnian crisis, the VOA on 24 August quoted Slovenia's foreign minister as saying that the Serbian policy of "ethnic cleansing" must be stopped. (Patrick Moore) GROWING CONSENSUS FOR MAINTAINING A UNIFIED BOSNIAN STATE? The 25 August New York Times sees London and Paris drawing away from the policy of dividing Bosnia and Herzegovina into ethnic cantons, which is backed by most Serbs and many Croats. The paper says the two key Western allies are moving closer to the American and Bosnian governments' view that undermining Bosnia's unity "would reward Serbian aggression and send the wrong message to other armed ethnic groups across Europe and Asia." In Zagreb, meanwhile, news agencies on 24 August quoted Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic as repeating his call for restructuring his republic's government to include a balance of Muslims, Serbs, and Croats, and for setting up a human rights' commission as a watchdog. Most Serbs left the Bosnian government in opposition to its moves toward independence in the spring. (Patrick Moore) MAZOWIECKI DENIED ACCESS TO SERBIAN CAMP. The 25 August Washington Post said that a UN Human Rights Commission team led by former Polish Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki was denied access the previous day to the Serbian-run camp at Manjaca near Banja Luka. Mazowiecki said: "The people who tried to harass us did themselves a disservice because they showed their true face. Whatever they were trying to cover up, they revealed to us." (Patrick Moore) SANCTIONS REDUCE SERBIAN ECONOMY TO STATE OF VEGETATION' On 24 August the Belgrade daily Vecernje novosti stated that the United Nations sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro imposed nearly three months ago, have reduced the country's economy to a "state of vegetation." According to a survey conducted by the Belgrade Institute for Market Research, there is not a single company in Serbia and Montenegro which does not project it will be without any export orders in the next three months. The daily goes on to say that even if the blockade were lifted now, exports would continue to fall to around 40 percent below last year's level. If the sanctions continue until the end of the year, exports will be 70 to 80 percent lower than in 1991. Many firms have completely or partially lost business and nearly 1,000,000 workers stand to lose their jobs by the end of year because of the sanctions, according to the survey. (Milan Andrejevich) MECIAR REFUSES TO CONTINUE TALKS ON SPLIT. Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus announced to CSTK on 24 August that Slovak Premier Vladimir Meciar had refused to participate in the talks on Czechoslovakia's future scheduled for 27 August between his Movement for a Democratic Slovakia and Klaus's Civic Democratic Party (ODS). The meeting should have been the sixth in a series held since the 6 June elections. The 27 August session was to discuss joint action to prevent the deadlock of the Federal Parliament, fulfillment of the 23 July political agreement between the two parties, and the clarification of the first draft of legislation on the termination of the federation. Meciar sent Klaus a letter on 21 August cancelling the meeting; he cited the ODS's failure to fulfill the 23 July political agreement between the two republics. (Paulina Bren) KLAUS URGES MEETING TO PROCEED. On 24 August CSTK made public the text of a letter sent that day by Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus to Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar. Klaus urged Meciar to continue in talks on the future of Czechoslovakia, saying that Meciar should not use marginal issues to derail the talks. Meciar demanded, among other things, an apology for statements made by members of Klaus' Civic Democratic Party, suggesting that Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia was attempting to orchestrate a political left-wing putsch. Speaking to reporters in Prague, Klaus said that "an apology was out of question." (Paulina Bren) ROMANIAN OPPOSITION LEADER REGISTERS AS PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. Emil Constantinescu, who will run on behalf of Romania's Democratic Convention in the forthcoming presidential race, officially registered his candidacy with the Central Electoral Bureau on 24 August. In an interview with Radio Bucharest Constantinescu, who is a geology professor and rector of Bucharest University, appealed to his fellow intellectuals to actively engage in politics. He described the current electoral campaign as "a struggle between the past and the future." The Democratic Convention is an alliance of Romania's main opposition forces. It includes 18 parties and organizations. (Dan Ionescu) WARSAW PROTESTS GERMAN EXTRADITION. On instructions from Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka, Poland's foreign ministry summoned German ambassador Franz Bertele on 24 August to issue a "forceful protest" against Germany's decision to extradite four Poles to the US. Six Poles were arrested in Frankfurt on 10 March and charged with illegal arms trade. Unofficial reports quoted by Polish TV said that the six were accused of attempting to export 105,000 Kalashnikovs, 5,000 grenade launchers, 1,000 missiles, and two MiG fighter planes to Iraq. The Polish government insists the six violated no Polish or German law. The Polish foreign ministry expressed "surprise and astonishment" at Germany's decision, especially as Polish Foreign Minister Krzysztof Skubiszewski made a personal appeal to his German counterpart, Klaus Kinkel, to extradite the Poles to Poland. The foreign ministry statement noted that one of the Poles, the deputy director of the Lucznik plant in Radom, had been engaged in a legal search for export prospects. (Louisa Vinton) MORE AUTHORITY FOR ESTONIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY. The government decided on 24 August to widen the authority of Estonia's defense ministry with respect to troop withdrawal questions, BNS reports. The ministry will reportedly have more say in negotiations, and will be able to determine the logistics of the withdrawal. Questions related to former Soviet military real estate have also been handed over to the defense ministry. (Riina Kionka) WARSAW'S URSUS ON STRIKE. The 7,000 workers at the Ursus tractor factory near Warsaw went on strike on 24 August. The strike committee is demanding wages equal to the national average, debt relief for the firm, an effective restructuring plan, and credits to enable farmers to purchase Ursus tractors. Solidarity's radical Mazowsze region announced its support for the strike. At the brink of insolvency in summer 1991, Ursus was the beneficiary of a spectacular government bailout and intensive restructuring efforts. The government's press office on 24 August rejected the strikers' charges of official inaction and argued that the efforts undertaken in 1991 had saved Ursus from bankruptcy. (Louisa Vinton) SHOWDOWN AT FSM AUTO PLANT. The directors of the FSM auto plant in Tychy on 24 August began an attempt to wear down the participants in the month-old illegal strike there. About 2,000 employees willing to return to work responded to management's call to convene at the factory's gates. The strikers, who number from 2,000-3,800, refused to admit anyone into the plant, and attempted to drown out the proceedings with loudspeakers. FSM's director said similar assemblies will be held every morning until non-strikers are permitted to take up their tools. Elsewhere, only a single Silesian mine (Rozbark) remains on strike, but one miners' union is attempting to form strike committees in seven new mines. Deputy prime minister Henryk Goryszewski ordered an official investigation into how indebted coal mines behind on their taxes could afford the wage increases granted in July and August. (Louisa Vinton) STOLOJAN DISCUSSES SUBSIDY CUTS WITH POLITICAL LEADERS. On 24 August Prime Minister Theodor Stolojan met with leaders of Romania's main political parties. According to Radio Bucharest, the meeting focused on cuts in subsidies for food and energy, planned for 1 September. Though all participants agreed that subsidies should be gradually eliminated, most of them objected to the timing of the next round of cuts. They said that the move would seriously influence the forthcoming elections, and asked to postpone it for sometime in November. Prices for staples are expected to soar early next month, if subsidies are cut by 25%. A first reduction in subsidies was operated in May this year. (Dan Ionescu) ECONOMIC DECLINE CONTINUES IN ROMANIA. On 24 August the National Statistical Board released data on the state of the Romanian economy in July. According to Radio Bucharest, industrial production dropped by 13.7% as against June, and was 32.9% lower than in July 1991. Labor productivity was 11.1% lower in July as against June. The number of unemployed on 17 August was 750,000 (6.7 of the labor force). Unemployment jumped by 11% in July as against June. Though in July the trade balance registered a surplus of 22.2 million US dollars, the overall deficit for the first seven months of the year amounts to 641 million US dollars. Over the January-July period, Romania had to import 667,000 tons of wheat and 192,000 of maize. (Dan Ionescu) PROBLEMS BETWEEN THE IMF AND HUNGARY. Heti Vilaggazdasag reported in its 22 August issue that so far Hungary did not utilize its 1992 IMF stand-by-credit. This followed a "common understanding" with the IMF and was caused by the growing budget deficit, which reached over 210 billion forint or 2.7 billion US dollars, which is more than three times the amount planned for the entire year. An additional factor was that Hungarian reserves reached 5.3 billion US dollars. The IMF is now waiting to see the government's plans for the 1993 budget deficit and the proposals for reducing the 1992 deficit. (Karoly Okolicsanyi) LAND AUCTIONS STARTED. Radio Budapest reported on 24 August that the first land auctions started across Hungary. The auctions were made possible by the Compensation Law, which provides for partial and symbolical restitutions in form of compensation bonds for former land owners. Those willing to cultivate the land can use their bonds in the land auctions started yesterday by the agricultural cooperatives. Bidding prices yesterday did not exceed the opening prices by much, and at the banks compensations bonds sell at 77% of their face value. The long-awaited land auctions will help to privatize Hungarian agriculture. (Karoly Okolicsanyi) US DOUBLES ESTONIA'S CREDIT. The US has doubled Estonia's credit limit for buying grain from 5 to 10 million dollars, BNS reported on 24 August. (Riina Kionka) OPIC GROUP IN TALLINN. An OPIC-sponsored delegation of American investors began its week-long Baltic tour in Tallinn on 24 August, BNS reports. The investors, representing some 20 companies, are exploring the investment climate in all three Baltic states. OPIC (Overseas Private Investment Corporation) was established by Congress in 1969 to encourage investment in developing countries. (Riina Kionka) EC ENERGY CENTER OPENED IN VILNIUS. On 25 August the European Community (EC) opened an Energy Center in Vilnius. The center's purpose is to provide information and assistance on how to conserve energy in industry, housing, and transportation, Radio Lithuania reports. Similar centers were opened earlier this year in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Warsaw, and Budapest and will be set up in Kiev, Minsk, Riga, and Tallinn later this year.(Saulius Girnius) CONFERENCE ON LITHUANIA AND ITS EMIGRANTS. On 24 August the Lithuanian parliament press briefing was devoted to the results of the conference "Lithuania -- Emigration: Ties and Unused Opportunities," held in the town of Birstonas on 17-21 August, Radio Lithuania reports. Ethnic Lithuanians from 14 countries in the East and West were represented. Parliament deputy chairman Bronislovas Kuzmickas presented the conference's final document, a 15-point appeal that included suggestions that ethnic Lithuanians should have one or two representatives in the Lithuanian parliament, and the creation of an official institution solely dedicated to consolidating relations between Lithuania and its emigrants. (Saulius Girnius) POLICE CRACK DOWN ON CAR THEFTS IN HUNGARY. Police officials announced a campaign to crack down on auto thefts by organized crime, MTI reported on 24 August. Over nine thousand cars were stolen in the first half of 1992. One problem is that the police information system is inadequate, which makes it possible for a large number of stolen cars to leave the country before the border authorities are notified. An additional problem is that Hungarians, even owners of luxury cars, do not provide their cars with anti-theft devices, said the police. (Karoly Okolicsanyi)
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