|The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper. - Eden Phillpotts|
No. 165, 28 August 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR MORE FIGHTING IN ABKHAZIA. Three people were killed on 27 August when a civilian hydrofoil was attacked by an unmarked helicopter in Georgian territorial waters, ITAR-TASS reported. According to Interfax, a clash between some 100 supporters of ousted Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia and Georgian National Guard troops resulted in several casualties on both sides. Georgian State Council Chairman Eduard Shevardnadze ruled out an immediate ceasefire because of the presence on Georgian territory of volunteers from the North Caucasus. Meanwhile, Georgian Foreign Minister Aleksandre Chikvaidze invited CSCE observers to visit Abkhazia on a fact-finding mission. In a statement published in Krasnaya zvezda on 28 August, Russian President Boris Yeltsin appealed to all parties involved in the fighting to begin peace talks, as Russia's security would be threatened by an escalation of the fighting. (Liz Fuller) COMMISSION FOR NORTH CAUCASUS ESTABLISHED IN RUSSIAN SECURITY COUNCIL. Russian Minister of Justice Nikolai Fedorov told TASS that a Commission for the North Caucasus had just been set up in the Russian Federation's Security Council, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 August. Fedorov said that the main task of the commission, which will have direct access to Yeltsin and function on a permanent basis, is to forestall interethnic conflict in the region, which is frequently described as a powder-keg. Fedorov, who is deputy chairman of the commission, said it would include representatives of the Russian ministries of security, defense, finance, and economics, and would have quarters in the North Caucasus as well as Moscow. (Ann Sheehy) MOUNTAIN PEOPLES' CONFEDERATION PROSECUTED. The Russian Prosecutor General's Office has initiated criminal proceedings against the Confederation of Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus for inciting national discord, carrying out terrorists acts, and for taking hostages, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 August. The Prosecutor's press center said that the confederation, which was an unregistered association, had ignored warnings about the illegal nature of the actions it had undertaken in connection with developments in Abkhazia. (Ann Sheehy) CEASEFIRE AGREED IN NAGORNO-KARABAKH? Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan accepted unconditionally the 60-day ceasefire proposal made by CSCE mediator Mario Rafaelli in Erevan on 26 August, although the proposal lacks enforcement mechanisms, his press secretary Ruben Shugaryan told ITAR-TASS. According to an unconfirmed KazTAG report, the Armenian and Azerbaidjani foreign ministers signed a Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire agreement at a meeting in Alma-Ata convened by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev on 27 August. According to this agreement, all fighting in the region should cease on 1 September. (Liz Fuller) UKRAINE DENOUNCES RUSSIAN PROPOSAL TO CREATE "CONFEDERATION." Ukrainian authorities have denounced the terms of a Ukrainian-Russian treaty proposed by Russia which would effectively result in a "political confederation" of the two states. Both sides had agreed in June at the Ukrainian-Russian summit in Dagomys to prepare a wide-ranging political treaty which would govern future bilateral relations. But after the appearance this week of the Russian proposal in a Kiev newspaper, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Anatolii Zlenko told Reuters on 27 August that the proposed treaty reflected "an extreme position put forward in order to satisfy (Russia's) interests." He added that confederation of any sort with Russia "is totally out of the question." Ukrainian foreign ministry officials have also disclosed that three alternative versions of the treaty are under preparation. (Bohdan Nahaylo) UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENTARY LEADER SLAMS MOSCOW'S "GREAT-STATE CHAUVINISTS." Meanwhile, the head of the Ukrainian parliament, Ivan Plyushch, in an interview given to Trud on 27 August, accused Moscow politicians of continuing with their old "imperial" thinking. Vestiges of "great-state" chauvinism, he said, were causing all sorts of problems, including the delay in withdrawing Russia's troops from the Baltic states and Moldova. As for Ukraine and Russia, he charged that: "Someone clearly is not interested in maintaining stability in our relations. Someone still wants to see Ukraine play the role of "little brother." "All we ask is one thing," Plyushch stressed: "Don't interfere in the affairs of our sovereign state." (Bohdan Nahaylo) RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT OPTIMISTIC ABOUT 1993 INFLATION. Russian government advisor, Aleksei Ulyukaev, said that current budget projections for next year assume a monthly inflation rate of 7-8%, according to ITAR-TASS on 27 August. The figure is down from the double-digit levels of this spring and equivalent to this July's monthly rate reported by Gaidar two days earlier. Existing government plans to jack up domestic energy prices to world levels over 1993-4 put the inflation forecast in some doubt, however. (Erik Whitlock) RUBLE EXCHANGE RATE DROPS. The exchange rate for the ruble on the Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange dropped on 27 August from 168.1 rubles to 205 rubles to the dollar, Western and Russian agencies reported. Trading was very narrow, with only $20.8 million on offer. The decline was attributed to several factors, including the introduction of new import tariffs scheduled for 1 September, the proposed further restrictions on commodity exports, and the anticipated relaxation of credit policy. Most observers expected further declines in the exchange rate of the ruble. Indeed, in view of the domestic inflation so far in 1992--variously estimated at between 800% and 2,000%--the ruble exchange rate has held up rather well. (Keith Bush) EX-IM BANK SIGNS FIRST DEAL WITH RUSSIA IN 18 YEARS. The US Export-Import bank signed an agreement with the Russian Federation guaranteeing $102 million worth of loans for the purchase of American machinery, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 August. The agreement was the first deal in nearly two decades between the EX-IM Bank and the countries of the former Soviet Union. Such deals were stopped by the United States in objection to emigration policies of the Soviet regime. Eugene Lawson, vice chairman of the EX-IM bank, expects a great deal more activity in the future, since his agency has a backlog of 5.1 billion dollars worth of credit applications. (Erik Whitlock) RUSSIAN MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS FAULTS PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE FOR MYOPIA, SECRECY. MFA spokesman Aleksandr Rozanov questioned the judgment of the Parliamentary Committee for International Relations and Foreign Economic Ties for focusing on the Kurile Islands question despite the emergence of other pressing international issues. "We cannot impose an agenda on the deputies but we would like to remind them that the Foreign Ministry would like to rely on the opinion of Russian lawmakers as regards a broad range of international issues," Rozanov said. He also faulted the committee for excluding the MFA leadership from a recent session devoted to Yeltsin's approaching visit to Japan, saying: "surprisingly, the [committee] prepared and discussed Proposals for a state visit to Japan' without the [MFA]." Rozanov noted that the Japanese media had been notified of the discussion in advance, ITAR-TASS reported on 26 August. (Suzanne Crow) MORE ON MEETING OF RUSSIAN/CHINESE DEFENSE MINISTER. Chinese Defense Minister Qin Jiwei, visiting Moscow, seems to be in the market for jet fighters, but no public mention has been made of previous Chinese interest in Russian-built surface-to- surface missiles. ITAR-TASS on 26 August reported that Qin and Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev discussed the possible delivery of Russian MiG-27 fighters and "air defense complexes," in addition to the already-announced Chinese purchase of Su-27 jet fighters. Although Grachev talked about contracts for twenty-four of the Sukhoi aircraft, press reports indicated that China had shown an interest in purchasing up to seventy-two. (Doug Clarke) RUSSIA CALLS FOR BETTER PROTECTION FOR "BLUE HELMETS". On August 25, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that Russia would support "energetic and if need be tough measures to influence those who are held responsible for encroachments on the life and security of servicemen manning U.N. military contingents in Yugoslavia." According to ISAR-TASS, the statement called on the U.N. Security Council to "take the most decisive measures to ensure the security of the peacekeeping force's personnel." The report noted the "alarming situation" in Sarajevo, where the Ukrainian contingent has come under fire, resulting in the deaths of two soldiers and injuries to eight others. (Doug Clarke) DEFENSE COOPERATION BETWEEN RUSSIA AND TURKEY. The Istanbul newspaper "Daily News" reported on 27 August that there would be cooperation in the future between Turkish and Russian defense industries, which could include military technology transfer from Russia to Turkey. The paper, quoting Turkish "official sources," said that plans for Turkey to purchase Russian-made guns, aircraft, and helicopters were being discussed during the current visit to Ankara of Russian State Secretary Gennadii Burbulis. According to the report, which was carried by the Chinese Xinua news agency, Turkish Foreign Ministry officials confirmed that Turkey was seeking to buy weapons from Russia. The paper quoted Vechislav Mironov, a member of Burbulis' delegation, as saying that the purchase of weapons required by the Turkish gendarmerie was "a beginning." (Doug Clarke) TRANSCAUCASUS MILITARY DISTRICT TRANSFORMED; NEW COMMANDER NAMED. ITAR-TASS reported on 27 August that Russian President Boris Yeltsin has issued a decree transforming the Transcaucasus Military District into the Group of Russian Troops in Transcaucasia, with its headquarters in Tbilisi. The change, which parallels that which occurred in the Baltic States in November of 1991, is in recognition of the fact that the former Soviet troops in the region are now on foreign territory. ITAR-TASS also reported that Lt. Gen. Fedor Reut has been named commander of the group, apparently replacing former military district commander Col. Gen. Valerii Patrikeev. Reut was born in 1946 in the Moscow oblast. Most recently, he had served as commander of the Seventh Guards Army, based in Armenia. According to the report, he is a proponent of the phased withdrawal of that army from Armenia. (Stephen Foye) KRAVCHUK THREATENS TO EXPEL "SUBVERSIVE" VISITORS. Angered by oustpoken criticism of political and economic conditions in Ukraine by some of the more hardline "emigre" participants in the recent World Forum of Ukrainians, Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk has threatened to have "subversive" visitors in Ukraine deported and banned from reentering. According to a statement issued on 26 August by Ukrinform on Kravchuk's instructions, visitors to Ukraine, regardless of their citizenship, will be expelled if they violate the laws of Ukraine by carrying out activity that undermines the country's unity, political stability and ethnic harmony. (Bohdan Nahaylo) UKRAINIAN COORDINATING COUNCIL FOR ECONOMIC REFORM ESTABLISHED. On 27 August, the Ukrainian parliamentary newspaper Holos Ukrainy published the presidential decree of 19 August establishing a Coordinating Council For Questions of Economic Reform in Ukraine "to accelerate" economic reforms. It is headed by newly appointed First Deputy Prime Minister, Valentyn Symonenko, and its other seventeen members include: Oleksandr Yemelyanov,the State Duma's councillor on economic matters, the head of the Ukrainian National Bank, Vadym Hetman, and the ministers for machine-building, the military-industrial complex and conversion, investment and construction, labor, foreign and economic trade relations, and finance. (Bohdan Nahaylo) REMAINS OF EXILED UKRAINIAN CHURCH LEADER RETURNED TO LVIV. On 27 August, the remains of Cardinal Iosyf Slipyi, the former head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, who died in exile in Rome in 1984, were returned to Ukraine. According to Reuters, tens of thousands of people turned out in Lviv to pay tribute to the indomitable religious leader who spent 18 years in Soviet prisons and labor camps before being exiled to Rome in 1963. Cardinal Slipyi's remains will be reburied in Lviv's St. George's Cathedral on 29 August. (Bohdan Nahaylo). UPDATE ON TAJIKISTAN. Eight members of parties in Tajikistan's opposition coalition were killed on 27 August in Kurgan-Tyube by supporters of the Communist leadership, AFP reported from Dushanbe. Five members of the Democratic Party of Tajikistan were gunned down in their offices and three members of Lali Badakhshan were killed in their homes. The pro-Communist Ashkara group, which has been fighting against supporters of the democratic coalition for two months, had demanded on 24 August that the opposition leave Kurgan-Tyube by 27 August, and that opposition members of the government resign. (Bess Brown) RUSSIAN REGIMENT TO BE WITHDRAWN FROM CHISINAU. On 26 August the Russian defense minister, Gen. Pavel Grachev, and the Moldovan defense minister, Maj. Gen. Pavel Creanga, signed an agreement in Moscow on the withdrawal from Moldova of Russia's 300th paratroop regiment, which is currently stationed in central Chisinau, Moldovapres reported. The regiment's withdrawal had been agreed upon in principle by Russian and Moldovan military authorities in May, at which time the Russian General Staff announced their intent to transfer the regiment to Siberia. The regiment is not a part of Russia's 14th Army, which is stationed in eastern Moldova and is involved in the military conflict there. (Vladimir Socor) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE SOME POSITIVE SIGNS FROM LONDON CONFERENCE . . . The UN-EC sponsored international conference concluded on 27 August. A long-term plan for a peace settlement was created through the establishment of an international forum which will begin mediating with the purpose of solving the crisis in the former Yugoslavia next week in Geneva. Six working groups directed by a steering committee of 22 nations will support the efforts towards reaching a peaceful solution. The groups will be co-chaired by UN envoy Cyrus Vance and EC mediator Lord Owen. The conference also adopted 13 principles regarded as measures for a settlement of the crisis in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The main points call for a cessation of violence; the handing in of all heavy weapons within 96 hours; bringing all forces under central control; full collaboration by all parties in the delivery of humanitarian aid; the unconditional release of all detained civilians and the closure of all detention camps; and stronger enforcement of UN imposed sanctions in the region. (Milan Andrejevich) . . . WILL THE AGREEMENT HOLD? British Prime Minister John Major admitted that the world "cannot rely on the goodwill of the parties" but said pressure would be exerted and intensified as necessary to force a political solution. Nonetheless, doubts have been raised over the question of the parties' respect for their commitments. For example, lacking a definition of what is meant by withdrawing from a "substantial portion" of seized territory enabled Radovan Karadzic, the Serb leader in Bosnia to say that he will abide by the principles while adding that the Bosnian Serbs are willing to negotiate the return of only 20% of the territory they control. (Milan Andrejevich and Michael Shafir). A MIXED BAG OF REACTIONS. Radio Serbia reports that Slobodan Milosevic told Belgrade TV that the conference represents the "most significant step so far for the Yugoslav crisis to be finally settled". However, Western press reports say that Milosevic was rebuked by Milan Panic, the prime minister of the rump Yugoslavia. France's foreign minister Roland Dumas told reporters that the two men quarreled in front of the full conference. According to Radio Croatia, Panic told Milosevic that he was out of line when speaking about the situation in Serbia's province of Kosovo, adding that no one in his delegation was allowed to speak without his permission. An RFE correspondent in London reported that when Milosevic was asked for his assessment of the talks, he replied "Talks? What Talks",? as he stormed out of the conference hall. Croatia's President Franjo Tudjman told reporters that he is appreciative of the efforts made in adopting the resolution, but cautioned that "the international community has not yet found an effective mechanism for ending" the conflict. (Milan Andrejevich) BULGARIA STRICTLY OBSERVING UN SANCTIONS AGAINST RUMP YUGOSLAVIA. "We are deeply impressed by the rigor with which Bulgaria is enforcing the sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro" -- so said Jessica Pierce, leader of the group of experts from the EC and the US who are evaluating the UN sanctions imposed on rump Yugoslavia, according to BTA. The group, which is visiting Sofia, noted that Bulgaria is the only state bordering on the former Yugoslavia that is strictly observing the UN resolution, and called for more stringent enforcement of the ban with respect to Danube traffic. The matter of compensating Bulgaria for losses suffered as a consequence of the embargo was also discussed. Deputy minister of industry Kiril Velev estimated the losses at 45 million US dollars per month. (Duncan Perry) OBSERVERS TO BE STATIONED ON BORDER BETWEEN FORMER YUGOSLAVIA AND BULGARIA? BTA announced that discussions concerning the possibility of stationing observers along Bulgaria's border with the former Yugoslav state were held in Sofia on 27 August between two officers representing the EC and deputy defense minister Valentin Dobrev and chief of the general staff Lyuben Petrov. The visit is in response to Bulgaria's request for third party observers. Questions of how such observers would function, the extent of their authority and financing the mission were addressed. (Duncan Perry and Kjell Engelbrekt) JESZENSZKY: AUTONOMY FOR MINORITIES IS KEY TO SOUTH SLAV PROBLEMS. Geza Jeszenszky told journalists attending the London conference that without the protection of minority rights there will be no true peace in former Yugoslavia, reported an RFE/RL correspondent. Jeszenszky said that autonomy in various forms was the best way to achieve the double goal of ensuring the rights of minorities while at the same time reassuring the state in which they live. The recognition by the leading European politicians that minority relations are crucial could help solve not only the Yugoslav problem but also contribute to all-European security, he said. Jeszenszky also praised the Democratic Community of Hungarians (DCH) of Vojvodina, saying that this organization's legitimate and constructive attitude had been demonstrated in several elections; although the DCH was a Hungarian political organization it was loyal to the republic of Serbia, Jeszenszky said. (Karoly Okolicsanyi and Michael Shafir) WALESA OPENS NEW OFFENSIVE. Embarking on one of his periodic "activist" campaigns, president Lech Walesa dispatched letters to the Sejm leadership and Poland's chief prosecutor on 27 August. Walesa asked that the Sejm give priority to issues vital to the nation: economic recovery and law and order. He chided the justice ministry for sluggishness and expressed impatience that prosecutors had not heeded his suggestions about fighting corruption. In an interview with PAP the same day, Walesa emphasized the need "to transform justified protest into creative solutions and effective work." He returned to his idea of a "master plan" for reform that would make clear exactly who had responsibility for what. So far he had left things up to democracy, he said, but if no improvement occurs in six months time, "presidential actions" will be necessary. The president is to visit the Gdansk shipyard today. (Louisa Vinton) KLAUS PREDICTS CZECHOSLOVAK PARLIAMENT WILL APPROVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. Speaking at a press conference in Prague on 27 August, Czech prime minister Vaclav Klaus said he hoped that the federal parliament would approve a constitutional amendment abolishing the Czechoslovak federation, CSTK and Western media report. Currently, only a referendum can be used to decide on the question of the continuing existence of the federation. The amendment would permit two options for a break up -- either through a vote of the federal parliament or by agreement between the republican parliaments. (Paulina Bren) CZECH-SLOVAK EXCHANGE RATE TO BE FIXED EARLY. Czech premier Vaclav Klaus said on 27 August that two independent currencies would be set after the break up of Czechoslovakia, with a fixed rate of exchange of 1:1, CSTK reported. According to Klaus, independent currencies with fixed rates of exchange must be set when the economies of the two republics are still identical and not "too far apart." He added that disparate economic developments in the Czech republic and in Slovakia could change the exchange rate. The vice-chairman of the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia, Augustin Marian Huska, made a similar statement, adding that the process would be implemented so as not to harm the citizens. (Paulina Bren) NEW CANDIDATES REGISTER IN ROMANIA'S PRESIDENTIAL RACE. On 26 August, Ion Minzatu, leader of Romania's Republican Party, registered with the authorities as a presidential candidate in the forthcoming elections. Minzatu is a controversial political figure, known for his collaboration with the former regime. Two further candidates registered on 27 August, namely Caius Traian Dragomir, running on the ticket of the National Salvation Front and Mircea Druc, who runs as an independent. Dragomir, who is one of the NSF's main strategists, told Radio Bucharest that his party was striving for "national reconciliation." Druc, a former Moldovan prime minister who became a Romanian citizen this year, advocates Romania's rapid reunification with the republic of Moldova. He was the sixth contender to officially join the presidential race. (Dan Ionescu) POLISH POLICE STEP IN AT FSM A decisive test of strength seems to be approaching in two of the illegal strikes now underway in Poland. Early on 28 August, Katowice authorities sent in the police to remove the 40 members of the radical union Solidarity '80 who had taken over the management offices of the FSM auto plant in Tychy the previous afternoon, PAP reports. The strikers, who first locked management personnel inside the building and then forced them to leave, fled when police arrived. The strikers apparently sought to prevent the plant's directors from following through with their threat to fire all strikers who did not return to work by 8:00 a.m. on 28 August. The FSM strike committee says it will ignore this ultimatum. (Louisa Vinton) CONFLICT SHARPENS AT STRIKING MINE IN POLAND. Industry minister Waclaw Niewiarowski announced on 27 August that strikers occupying management buildings at the Rozbark coal mine (the only mine still on strike) will be fired as well, along with the strike committee. According to a PAP report, the strikers had forced the works council to suspend the director when he refused to raise wages, only to have the industry minister impose direct control over the mine and reappoint the same director. A group of predominantly female employees attempted to harangue the strike committee into allowing them to work, at which point the committee ordered all women and supervisors to leave the mine. In announcing his decision, Niewiarowski explained that "no one can accuse the government or the industry ministry of not demonstrating a maximum of good will, but we cannot permit a situation in which all conceivable transgressions are committed in a drastic fashion." Peaceful talks took place between the government and strikers from the Ursus tractor factory. (Louisa Vinton) PRICES IN CZECHOSLOVAKIA TO BE INCREASED. A finance ministry official revealed on 27 August that a ten percent rise in prices is expected in Czechoslovakia by mid-1993, CSTK reported. The official said that in the first half of 1992 the inflation rate had been only 3 %. Price increases will in part be caused by the introduction of a value-added tax in January 1993 and the further reduction of subsidies. There will also be other price increases, especially for water, coal, electricity and postage fees. (Paulina Bren) NEGOTIATIONS BETWEEN THE IMF AND HUNGARY. Talks in Budapest between the Hungarian government, the National Bank and the IMF about present and future trends in the Hungarian economy continued, reported MTI. The IMF registered the positive signs of decreasing inflation and a favorable balance of payment, but expressed concern about the smaller than planned gross domestic product, a much larger than planned budget deficit and growing unemployment. The negotiators also examined how the large budget deficit could be reduced while maintaining low interest rates and avoiding inflation. Further discussions will take place in September, during the IMF's general assembly session. (Karoly Okolicsanyi and Michael Shafir) ESTONIAN-RUSSIAN ECONOMIC TALKS. During the latest round of economic talks with Russia on 27 August, Russia proposed that both sides simply wipe the slate clean by forgiving each other's outstanding debts. Estonia's minister for the economy, Olari Taal,told BNS that the Russian side also reiterated Russia's offer from earlier this year to assume Estonia's share of the former USSR's foreign debt. Economic talks continue on 2 September at the prime minister level. (Riina Kionka) SWEDISH PRIME MINISTER VISITS LITHUANIA. On 27 August Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt arrived in Vilnius on an informal visit, Radio Lithuania reports. He held talks with Lithuanian Supreme Council chairman Vytautas Landsbergis that focused on the continued presence of the Russian army in the Baltic States and economic problems. Bildt returned to Stockholm on 28 August. (Saulius Girnius) UNEMPLOYMENT IN LITHUANIA. As of 17 August, 5,587 unemployed persons were registered at Lithuania's labor exchange, of whom 5,181 were being paid benefits, BNS reported on 27 August. (Saulius Girnius) DEVELOPMENTS IN BULGARIAN TOURISM. Preliminary figures indicate that 1992 will be a significantly better year for Bulgaria's tourism industry than the disastrous 1991, BTA reported on 27 August. According to statistics presented at a press conference by chairman of the committee on tourism Slaveyko Bozhinov, there has been a 75% booking of hotel beds at major sea resorts, while the number of foreign visitors is up by 23-25%. Bozhinov disclosed that within its PHARE program, the EC has agreed to release one million Ecu for privatization of Bulgaria's tourism sector, and said the transformation of state enterprises into joint-stock companies would pave the way for successful businesses. (Kjell Engelbrekt) CDU MEETING IN HUNGARY. The German Christian Democratic Union parliamentary deputies from Berlin are holding consultations in Hungary, reported MTI. Over 100 deputies and other city leaders, including the mayor of Berlin, flew to Debrecen, using for the first time an abondoned Soviet airport. The meeting will actually take place in the south Hungarian city of Szeged. (Karoly Okolicsanyi)
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