|To live is so startling, it leaves little time for anything else. - Emily Dickinson|
No. 164, 27 August 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR MORE FIGHTING IN ABKHAZIA. There was further overnight fighting near Gagra between Abkhaz and Georgian troops on 25-26 August; each side claimed to have sustained minimal losses while killing dozens of the enemy. Three North Caucasians were killed when some 50 pro-Abkhaz forces attacked the Sukhumi railway station on 26 August. Abkhaz parliament chairman Vladislav Ardzinba rejected an ultimatum to resign which he said underscored that the Georgians were intent on solving political problems by force, ITAR-TASS reported. Georgian State Council chairman Eduard Shevardnadze invited Ardzinba to Tbilisi for peace negotiations; the two men are scheduled to meet in Moscow on September 3 for talks that will also include Russian President Boris Eltsin and representatives from the North Caucasus. (Liz Fuller) "LIBERAL RADICALS" ATTACK YELTSIN. In Moscow on the evening of 26 August, a group of prominent intellectuals describing themselves as "liberal radicals" held a press conference to launch a book highly critical of the Yeltsin government and to call for a campaign of radical change. Professor Yury Afanasiev, a deputy to the Russian parliament, introduced a panel of fellow authors of A Year Since August: the Bitterness and the Choice. Among those who spoke were Elena Bonner, Dr. Leonid Batkin, founder of the "Moscow Tribune" political club, philosopher Vladimir Biblin, the journalist and editor Yury Burtin, and the writer Lev Timofeev. Economists Larisa Piyasheva and Vasily Selyunin attacked the Gaidar reforms as too slow and ineffective. Panelists had difficulty in answering one question from the audience: when would the intellectuals stop complaining and start their own businesses? (Iain Elliot, Moscow) IMF DELEGATION IN MOSCOW. At the end of his visit to Moscow on 26 August, IMF Deputy Managing Director Richard Erb gave what Interfax called a "closed press conference for foreign journalists." To judge from Western agency and newspaper coverage, Erb gave a very tentative, limited, and conditional approval to the fiscal performance of the Gaidar administration so far this year. He welcomed the fall in the monthly inflation rate recorded in July and during the first part of August, but cautioned about reading too much into such short-term trends. Significantly, Erb implied that the standby agreement needed for release of the second tranche of credit may not be signed until late 1992 or early 1993. (Keith Bush) RUSSIA ASKS FOR FAIR TREATMENT FROM THE WEST. In an interview with Handelsblatt on 26 August, Russian Economics Minister Aleksei Nechayev complained that Western creditor nations discriminated against Russia. Russia comes in for criticism when it is late with its interest payments, Nechayev asserted, while other CIS republics, which do not even try to meet their obligations, are rewarded with new credits. He asked that the West apply more pressure to other former Soviet republics to contribute their share to servicing the debt of the FSU. Nechayev further claimed that the IMF insisted on far more rigorous criteria for Russian membership of the Fund than was asked of other former Soviet republics. (Keith Bush) KOZYREV ON RUSSIAN PATRIOTISM. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev has called attempts to islotate Russia from the world community "national treason." In an article in Nezavisimaya gazeta on 20 August, he said that a truly patriotic foreign policy should seek to include Russia in the world community of democratic, market-oriented nations. He compared the present situation to that which existed in Germany in 1933, when, instead of leading Germany into the League of Nations, Hitler chose an imperial course that led to a national catastrophy. He said that Russia's present Balkan policy is seeking a just solution for all the Slavic nations involved, i.e., not only for the Serbs. (Alexander Rahr) ANOTHER RUSSIAN ATTEMPT TO CONTROL TAJIK-AFGHAN BORDER. Russian border troops stationed on the Tajik-Afghan border have given their approval to a decree by Russian President Boris Yeltsin placing them directly under Russian jurisdiction, Khovar-TASS reported on 26 August. The border troops have engaged in frequent armed clashes with Tajiks bringing weapons from Afghanistan into Tajikistan to arm participants in the fighting in the southern part of the country, and some border guard officers have complained of the hostility of local villagers. The Tajik opposition has objected to the presence of Russian troops guarding the Tajik border; the government in Dushanbe and leaders of other CIS states regard the border as the most important line of defense against Islamic fundamentalism from Afghanistan. (Bess Brown) MOSCOW CONFERENCE ON DISSIDENT MOVEMENT. The "Memorial" research center ended its three day international conference on 26 August with further revelations on KGB repression. Arseny Roginsky, a consultant to the Russian parliament's Human Rights Committee, was able to prove after researching in KGB files that even the most realistic Western scholars had greatly underestimated the numbers repressed for dissident activities. Speaking in the Russian State Humanities University (formerly the CPSU Higher Party School) on Moscow's Gottwald Street, Roginsky cited messages from KGB leaders to the Politburo to show that at the height of detente the numbers imprisoned each year for human rights activities numbered thousands, not hundreds as formerly estimated. (Iain Elliot, Moscow) NOMENKLATURA REGAINING POWER. According to an internal report by Vitalii Mashkov, the presidential representative for the Ekaterinburg region, Russia is now undergoing a gradual constitutional coup, in the course of which power is being gained by technocrats who were part of the old nomenklatura and who had accumulated billions under Brezhnev, but could not then effectively enjoy their fortunes under the Marxist system. According to Mashkov's report, a copy of which was obtained by the RFE-RL Research Institute, these technocrats initiated perestroika in order to abandon Marxism and to create a market system which only they could control. He wrote that under these technocrats, Russia is turning into something resembling a Latin American country. He noted that Russian democrats are too weak to resist this process. (Alexander Rahr) "AFFAIR OF 140 BILLIONS" IS REVIVED. The scandal involving 140 billion roubles, which included the involvement of senior Russian officials in 1990, was not a KGB fabrication, according to the chief investigator of the Russian Procuracy, Vladimir Kalinichenko, who was interviewed on Ostankino television on August 26. Rather, asserted Kalinichenko, this was a genuine attempt to launder "Criminal Capital." Gibbins, the British subject who made illegal deals with former Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennadii Filshin, as well as with businessmen from the firms ANT and Russian House, is wanted by Scotland Yard and the Swiss police on various charges. Although the KGB knew in advance about Gibbin's background, it purposely did not inform responsible officials. Subsequently, in December 1990, Vladimir Kryuchkov, Valentin Pavlov, and Mikhail Gorbachev exploited this affair in their attacks on the Yeltsin government. However, according to Alexander Mikhailov, a spokesman for the Russian Ministry of Security, this does not reduce the negligence of Filshin (who is now with the Russian Trade Mission in Vienna) and his associates. (Victor Yasmann) VOLKOGONOV ALLEGES KAL COVERUP. Yeltsin military adviser Col. Gen. Dmitrii Volkogonov said in Seoul on 26 August that the Soviet government had systematically covered up events surrounding the downing of a Korean Air Lines jetliner over Sakhalin Island in 1983. He gave a South Korean news agency the minutes of an enlarged emergency Politburo meeting held immediately after the incident. According to Volkogonov, hardliners led by then Defense Minister Dmitrii Ustinov overrode a proposal by Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko that Moscow express "regret" to the families of the victims. All information on the incident was turned over to the KGB and Defense Ministry and kept secret. Volkogonov, who said that the intelligence agencies were still reluctant to release the information, also said that Mikhail Gorbachev had attended the emergency meeting as a Politburo member. Volkogonov's remarks were reported by AFP. (Stephen Foye) INDONESIA DENIES IT WILL BUY SCUDS. The Indonesian armed forces information service on 26 August denied an earlier report that the country planned to purchase Russian-made Scud missiles, Jakarta Radio reported. On 24 August the newspaper Kompas had published remarks by the chief of the Indonesian air force, Marshal Siboen, that suggested that Indonesia was considering buying Scuds, according to a UPI report. Scud surface-to-surface missiles were used extensively by Iraq both in its war with Iran and during the more recent Gulf War. (Doug Clarke, Stephen Foye) UKRAINE AND UZBEKISTAN SIGN AGREEMENTS. On 25 August, during the official visit to Kiev of Uzbek President Islam Karimov, several Uzbek-Ukrainian agreements were signed, Holos Ukrainy reported the following day. They included a treaty of friendship and cooperation, an agreement on trade and economic cooperation during 1993, and a protocol on the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two states. Ukrainian president Leonid Kravchuk said in an interview on Ukrainian TV on 25 August that the issues of Ukrainians living in Uzbekistan and of deported peoples would also figure in his discussions with Karimov. (Bohdan Nahaylo). NAGORNO-KARABAKH CEASEFIRE PROSPECTS BLEAK. CSCE negotiator Mario Raffaelli told Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan in Erevan on 26 August that failure to agree on his proposal for a 60-day ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh would result in the CSCE declaring its Karabakh peace conference closed, ITAR-TASS reported quoting the Pro-Armenia information center. Ter-Petrossyan argued that the ceasefire proposal should be agreed not between Armenia and Azerbaijan, but between Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh, and that Armenia would then work with Russia and Kazakhstan towards a peaceful settlement. Azerbaijani presidential advisor Vafa Guli-Zade likewise pointed out that the CSCE ceasefire proposal was predicated entirely on the good will of the parties involved and contained no mechanism for its implementation. The UN Security Council on 26 August also called for an immediate ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh. (Liz Fuller) IRAN TO BUILD RAIL LINK TO NAKHICHEVAN? Nakhichevan Parliament Chairman Geidar Aliev, currently on a three-day official visit to Iran, told a news conference in Tabriz that Iran is considering building a road and railway through Iranian territory to link Azerbaijan with its exclave, Nakhichevan, AFP reported. Iran has also agreed to supply Nakhichevan with unspecified quantities of gas, electricity and fuel oil to counter problems of supplying of the region through Armenian territory. (Liz Fuller) BURYATS, TATARS DEMAND WITHDRAWAL OF RUSSIAN TROOPS. One of the leaders of the Buryat-Mongolian People's Party, Khomutaev, has demanded the withdrawal of Russian troops from Buryatia, CIS TV reported on 28 August. He argues that, if the 250,000 troops in the republic are withdrawn, the Buryat share of the population will rise (Buryats accounted for only 24.0 percent of the population of just over a million in 1989) and that the stationing of such a large number of troops in the republic is a relic of the past. A meeting of the milli-mejlis or alternative parliament created by Tatar nationalist organizations in Tatarstan has also demanded the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from Tatarstan, "Vesti" reported on 25 August. (Ann Sheehy) DAGESTAN OPPOSITION DEMANDS DISSOLUTION OF PARLIAMENT. For three days, meetings of the opposition parties of Dagestan have been held in the center of Makhachkala demanding the resignation of the government and the dissolution of parliament, DR-Press and ITAR-TASS reported on 26 August. A tent city has been erected where the protesters intend to remain until their demands, which include the removal of monuments to Lenin and other Bolshevik leaders, are met. Activists of the Confederation of Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus are also on the square collecting funds and enrolling volunteers to go to Abkhazia. DR-Press reported that the authorities had invited leaders of the opposition to a "round table," and that they might be prepared to sack some members of the government. (Ann Sheehy) MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ON RELATIONS WITH THE USA. On 26 August, Moldovan President Mircea Snegur received letters of accreditation from the new US ambassador, Mary Pendleton. During this meeting, Snegur said that US support for Moldova "is being palpably experienced each time a Moldovan official comes into contact with representatives of this great state which is our friend. This support gives us confidence that our young democracy has not been left alone to face those who are trying to take independence and freedom away from us before we have fully tasted either," according to a quote by Moldovapres. (Vladimir Socor) MOLDOVAN-RUSSIAN TROOP TALKS POSTPONED. A preliminary round of talks between Moldova and Russia on the status and terms for withdrawal of Russia's troops in Moldova was held in Moscow on 12 to 14 August. The talks were due to resume a few days thereafter but have not been continued. Moldovapres reported on 26 August that the talks will continue in September. No precise date was given for the resumption of the talks. (Vladimir Socor) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE LONDON CONFERENCE ON YUGOSLAV CRISIS OPENS. International media on 26 and 27 August report at length on the first session on 26 August, at which delegates approved principles for a settlement. These include a ceasefire; acceptance that borders can only be changed by mutual consent; guarantees for human and minority rights; and international access to detention camps. Most speakers stressed the responsibility of the Serbs for the violence and human rights abuses, and US acting Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger said: "it is the Serbs, alas, who are the most guilty today of crimes which mimic those of their former tormentors." British Prime Minister John Major argued that pressure would "inexorably increase" on any of the warring parties who stood in the way of a settlement. (Patrick Moore) POLITICAL MEASURES UNDER DISCUSSION . . . Other speakers called for setting up a war crimes tribunal for those guilty of promoting "ethnic cleansing" and other human rights abuses. Diplomats meanwhile continued to discuss establishing a permanent crisis-management body, which would consist of a steering committee and six topical working groups. They are also considering appointing monitors to check on the enforcement of sanctions and to prevent the spread of the conflict to Kosovo, the Sandzak, and Vojvodina. (Patrick Moore) . . . AND MILITARY ONES, TOO. The BBC on 27 August said that agreement was imminent to set up a 6,000-strong European force to protect aid shipments, which would "stretch the rules" for such operations by allowing the units to clear mines and remove roadblocks. UN secretary-general Boutros Boutros-Ghali reportedly feared the proposed force would confuse the UN's role by mixing protection and combat, but reluctantly concurred because the Europeans agreed to pay for the operation. At the conference Bosnian Foreign Minister Haris Silajdzic called again for armed intervention, saying "force can only be checked by force...Air strikes [are] long overdue." (Patrick Moore) SARAJEVO'S LIBRARY BURNS. International media reported on 26 August that Serb artillery had subjected Sarajevo to the heaviest bombardment of the war. The Baltimore Sun on 27 August said that 17 were killed and 150 wounded, but the BBC put the totals higher. The central library with its 3 million volumes went up in flames. The Moorish-style building is the former town hall that had been dedicated on 28 June 1914 by Habsburg Archduke Franz Ferdinand minutes before his assassination, which then set off a chain of events that began World War I. (Patrick Moore) ROMANIA'S STANCE AT THE LONDON CONFERENCE ON YUGOSLAVIA. On 26 August acting US Secretary of State Lawrence Eagelburger informed the London conference on Yugoslavia on Romania's decision to accept international monitors on its territory to oversee compliance with the embargo against Serbia and Montenegro. In another development, Western agencies quoted Romanian foreign minster Adrian Nastase as saying that the conference should not try to create new international laws in seeking a solution to the Bosnian crisis. Nastase insisted that any measures decided upon in London should be one-time solutions. Romania delegates later said that Nastase was referring to the principles on the status of the minorities. (Dan Ionescu). BULGARIA AND THE UN SANCTIONS. On 26 August two representatives of the EC observer mission in Zagreb, as well as a team of US and EC experts assigned to coordinate UN sanctions against Serbia, arrived in Sofia for talks with Bulgarian officials. BTA said the two EC representatives will discuss a Bulgarian proposal to station military observers on the border to ex-Yugoslavia. Meanwhile, the British ambassador to Bulgaria, Richard Thomas, told deputy foreign minister Valentin Dobrev that the EC considers the UN resolution 757, imposing sanctions on Serbia, to have priority over other international matters; consequently, Bulgaria and other Danube states have the right and obligation to control whatever cargo is being shipped to Serbia. (Kjell Engelbrekt) MONTENEGRIN ALBANIANS PLAN REFERENDUM. Radio Serbia reported on 26 August that the Democratic Forum of the Albanians in Montenegro will seek autonomy. The forum says the plans for autonomy are a fundamental condition to preserve the national identity of Albanians in Montenegro. Meeting in the coastal-resort town Ulcinj near the Albanian border, the forum emphasized a referendum should be held as soon as possible. It is not clear whether the forum is proposing cultural or political autonomy. The Democratic Forum is made up of members of the main Albanian Democratic Alliance, the third largest party represented in Montenegro's parliament. Albanians account for 8.5% of Montenegro's population. (Milan Andrejevich) CZECHOSLOVAKIA TO BE DIVIDED BY 1 JANUARY . Meeting in Brno on 26 August, Czech premier Vaclav Klaus and Slovak premier Vladimir Meciar agreed that the Czechoslovak federation should split into two separate states by 1 January, domestic and international media report. Speaking to reporters, Meciar stated that "it is not possible to maintain the current situation." Klaus echoed the statement, remarking that the breakup will allow for "better and more lasting relations" between the two republics. The 1 January goal is set in hope of preparing separate budgets for 1993. Klaus, however, added that, "This will be a gradual transition. There will be no earthquake on 1 January." (Paulina Bren) TIMETABLE FOR CZECHOSLOVAKIA'S BREAKUP. According to the timetable worked out between Meciar and Klaus and reported by CSTK on 26 August, the federal parliament should aim to adopt a law on the dissolution of the federation, division of property and delineation of successor rights by the end of September, domestic and international media reported. If needed, the deadline could be extended into October. Furthermore, by the end of November each republic should pass legislation on areas of future co-existence, including civic and economic ties. Both sides have also agreed to set up a customs union. Initially, a monetary union would also be established, with a long-term goal of creating two separate currencies. (Paulina Bren) CZECHOSLOVAK SECURITY SERVICES DIRECTOR DISMISSED. On 26 August, the federal government agreed to dismiss the director of the federal security and information service (FBIS), Stefan Bacinsky. Bacinsky's resignation had been demanded by Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia. On 22 September, Pavel Slovak, who currently serves as director of regional police in Cadca, will be named as the new director. According to CSTK, the choice of Slovak was a pragmatic solution. He will head the FBIS until it is abolished later this year and its powers transferred to the republican security agencies. Earlier this week, the Czech government appointed Stanislav Devaty, a member of Vaclav Klaus' Civic Democratic Party, as a deputy director of the FBIS. (Paulina Bren) ROMANIAN NATIONALIST MAYOR REGISTERS AS PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. On 26 August, the controversial Cluj mayor Gheorghe Funar registered with the authorities as a candidate in the 27 September presidential elections. Funar runs on the ticket of the extreme nationalist Party of Romanian National Unity. In an interview with Radio Bucharest, Funar said that he hoped to win the elections on the first ballot, claiming that "at least ten million Romanians" supported him. (Dan Ionescu) FSM STRIKERS GET ULTIMATUM. The directors of the FSM auto plant in Tychy announced on 26 August that they will fire all strikers who do not return to work by 8:00 a.m. on 28 August, according to PAP. Privatization minister Janusz Lewandowski explained that the government could no longer tolerate a situation in which one part of the labor force prevented the rest from working. The strike committee responded with defiance. The illegal FSM strike has lasted over a month, and the government worries that it could jeopardize Fiat's purchase of the factory. Finance ministry officials met with Fiat representatives on 26 August to discuss the terms of the formal takeover, which is tentatively planned for 1 September. (Louisa Vinton) URSUS STRIKERS MARCH. Some 4,000 striking workers from the Ursus tractor factory marched in Warsaw on 26 August, carrying banners reading "End the Recession" and "We Won't Be Cheated." PAP said that a delegation was received by president Lech Walesa's chief of staff and press spokesman, and by industry minister Waclaw Niewiarowski. Niewiarowski reminded the strikers that government action in 1991 had saved Ursus from collapse and warned that the strike could jeopardize the factory's debt rescheduling talks, leading directly to bankruptcy. Ursus has more than 2 trillion zloty (150 million US dollars) in debts. Government talks on the situation at Ursus begin on 27 August. (Louisa Vinton) WARSAW TALKS TO MINERS' UNIONS. The Polish government presented its outline program for coal mining restructuring to the five miners' unions on 26 August, Polish television reported. By the year 2010, the government plans to cut employment in mining from 310,000 to 225,000, close 11 loss-making mines, and set up holding firms that would link solvent mines with insolvent ones. Only 22 of 63 Polish coal mines now turn a profit, but the government plans to keep 30 of the 41 loss makers open until they run out of coal. Only the two moderate unions (Solidarity and Kadra) signed the protocol summarizing the meeting; the others --two postcommunist unions and Solidarity '80-- refused to sign. A frustrated Niewiarowski wondered aloud afterward whether negotiations with the three "frivolous" unions made any sense. (Louisa Vinton) LANDSBERGIS, YELTSIN TO SIGN AGREEMENT ON TROOP WITHDRAWAL. On 26 August Russian president's press spokesman Vyacheslav Kostikov reported that Boris Yeltsin and Lithuanian Supreme Council chairman Vytautas Landsbergis had agreed in a telephone conversation to meet in Moscow on 8 September, Radio Lithuania reports. The two leaders are expected to sign an agreement and approve a timetable for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Lithuania. Russian defense minister Pavel Grachev and his Lithuanian counterpart Audrius Butkevicius will also attend the meeting. (Saulius Girnius) FEWER TROOPS IN THE BALTIC THAN ESTIMATED. According to new figures released by the Russian general staff, there are far fewer troops left in the Baltic states than was believed earlier. According to the figures, which were passed to the Lithuanian ministry of defense and were presented at a conference on Baltic security last week in Latvia, there were just over 60,000 troops left in the Baltic states as of 1 August. Of those, nearly 12,000 were in Estonia, 28,000 in Latvia and around 21,000 in Lithuania. The lower numbers come from the fact that soldiers ending their tours of duty apparently are not being replaced fully. If the units remaining in the Baltic states were filled to capacity, there would be about 22,000, 40,000 and 35,000 troops in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, respectively; these numbers are far closer to earlier estimates. (Riina Kionka) INVESTIGATION OF RUBIKS TO BE CONCLUDED BY 23 OCTOBER. On 26 August Latvian deputy prosecutor Jazeps Ancans told BNS that 23 October is the deadline for ending the investigation of former Latvian Communist Party first secretary Alfreds Rubiks. Rubiks had been arrested in August 1991 and was accused of playing a role in anti-government activities in 1990 and 1991 and of supporting the putsch against former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in August 1991. Ancans said the investigation had been slowed by the large amount of evidence to be checked. If found guilty, Rubiks could be imprisoned for up to 15 years. (Saulius Girnius) ROMANIAN, MOLDOVAN PRESIDENTS TO MEET ON 28 AUGUST. The presidents of Romania and Moldova, Ion Iliescu and Mircea Snegur, will meet in the Romanian town of Husi on 28 August. Radio Bucharest said that they would discuss mutual interests, without elaborating. Moldovan Prime M§inister Andrei Sangheli visited Romania on 18 and 19 August, and signed several agreements, including one on mutual economic cooperation. (Dan Ionescu) FIVE COMPANIES SEEK PERMIT TO PUMP OIL IN LITHUANIA. By 17 August five of the twelve foreign oil companies invited by Lithuania in March to submit bids to search for and exploit oil in Lithuania did so, BNS reported on 26 August. The five are from the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Germany, and the US. The winner, to be announced in late September or early October, will invest about 15-20 million US dollars and establish a joint venture with the Gargzdai State Oil Geology Enterprise, receiving in return about 25% of the extracted oil. The oil reserves on land in western Lithuania are estimated to be about 137 million tons, of which 47 million tons can be extracted. A similar tender to exploit oil in the Baltic Sea, estimated to be about 178 million tons, will be held in 1994-1995. (Saulius Girnius) ESTONIA APPROVES FIRST KROON BUDGET. The Estonian Supreme Council on 26 August approved the country's first national budget in the new currency, the kroon, BNS reports. The 1,508 million kroons budget covers the second half of 1992. (Riina Kionka)
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.