|He who knows nothing is nearer the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors. - Thomas Jefferson|
No. 167, 01 September 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR FIGHTING CONTINUES IN ABKHAZIA. Despite the ceasefire agreement reached on 29 August,fighting continued on 31 August near Gagra between Georgian National Guard troops and Abkhaz and North Caucasians. Georgian forces also launched a massive attack on Gudauta, the headquarters of Abkhaz Parliament Chairman Vladislav Ardzinba, Interfax reported. At an emergency session of the Georgian State Council on 31 August, State Council Chairman Eduard Shevardnadze stated that Georgia must take all measures to bring about a ceasefire before his scheduled meeting in Moscow with Russian President Yeltsin and Abkhaz and North Caucasian representatives on 3 September, but that a ceasefire must be linked to the withdrawal of all North Caucasian irregulars from Georgian territory. (Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc) SHEVARDNADZE TO RUN FOR GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT CHAIRMAN. Arguing that "Georgians cannot help being original," Georgian State Council chairman Eduard Shevardnadze told Georgian Radio on 31 August that he will stand for the post of parliament chairman in the 11 October parliamentary elections, ITAR-TASS reported. The existing election law was amended on 29 August, after Shevardnadze had announced his intention to stand as a candidate for the bloc that includes the successor party to the Georgian CP, to make provision for the simultaneous election of a parliament chairman, who may not be a member of any registered political party. (Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc.) IMF WARNS OF HIGHER INFLATION IN RUSSIA. The International Monetary Fund believes that there is a serious risk of a further intensification of inflationary pressures in Russia because of a lack of monetary and fiscal control. The warning comes in an IMF report due to be released later in September and which was quoted by AP on 31 August. The IMF estimates that retail prices in Russia rose by 875% during the first eight months of 1992. The Russian GDP declined, in real terms, by 9% in 1991 and by 14% in the first half of 1992. Net financial flows to the former Soviet republics amounted to $9.25 billion in 1991 and are expected to reach $21 billion in 1992. (Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc.) CIVIC UNION WANTS TO CHANGE CIS INTO CLOSER UNION. The Political Council of the Civic Union has spoken out in favor of initiating in the parliaments and governments of CIS states the recreation of a closer union of states, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 1 September. The council recommended the establishment of a collective organ that would conduct a unitary economic, scientific and cultural policy on the territory of the CIS. The council emphasized the need to defend Russian minorities in former Soviet republics. The major force behind the attempt to recreate the union is the industrial lobby, which is most interested in preserving links between various industrial entreprises on the territory of the former Soviet Union. (Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, Inc.) VOLSKY: INDUSTRIALISTS RESPONSIBLE FOR STABILITY IN RUSSIA. The leader of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneures, Arkadii Volsky, denied that he intends to become Prime Minister. In an interview with Delovoi mir (no 166), he said he wants to make his union as powerful as the industrial lobbies in Western countries. He added that the industrialists understand the economic situation better than the present government. He maintained that the enterprise directors have put a lot of effort into protecting the social welfare of their factory workers and in doing so have saved the reform process. He said that the newly created Civic Union, which is dominated by the industrial lobby, could win as a bloc in the next parliamentary elections. (Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, Inc.) KHASBULATOV DEMOTES HIS FIRST DEPUTY. The chairman of the Russian parliament, Ruslan Khasbulatov, issued an order on 21 August concerning the division of responsibilities between the chairman and the deputy chairmen of the parliament. This change deprived his first deputy, Sergei Filatov, of most of his powers and limited his functions to such areas as control over agriculture, an RFE/RL stringer reported on 27 August. While Khasbulatov's policy has been and remains directed toward fighting the executive branch, Filatov always tried to find a compromise between the executive and legislative branches. The order is being regarded as further evidence that Khasbulatov is fighting to increase his own personal power. (Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, Inc.) REPUBLICAN PARTY WARNING ABOUT KHASBULATOV. The Political Council of the Republican Party of the Russian Federation has issued a warning about attempts by the Russian parliament and its leader, Ruslan Khasbulatov, to take power in the country. The statement, published in Nezavisimaya gazeta on 1 September, asserted that the leadership of the conservative parliament wants to deprive President Boris Yeltsin of his additional powers, replace reformers in the government with hardliners, and hold elections on the local level to bring the old nomenklatura back into power, thereby halting the economic reform process. The Republican Party also called upon democrats to quit the Civic Union and to form a new bloc of parties around "Democratic Russia." (Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, Inc.) MORE ON EXIM BANK DEALS WITH RUSSIA. The Export-Import bank will be starting negotiations with Russia next month for guarantees on a 2 billion-dollar purchase of oil and gas equipment, an RFE/RL Washington correspondent reported on 28 August. Vice-chairman of the EXIM Bank Eugene Lawson expects that the deal will be completed by October. The report also clarifies ITAR-TASS coverage of the recent $102 million dollar guarantee agreement signed on August 27 (Daily Report, #165, p. 2) which involves $121 million dollars worth of purchases for nuclear power facilities, car and battery factories, as well as pre-fabricated construction. ITAR-TASS reported that EXIM bank activity with the region, then the USSR, was stopped due to US objections to Soviet emigration policies. ITAR-TASS apparently was confusing the Jackson-Vanik amendment with the Stephenson and other amendments which blocked credits and guarantees but which were not tied to emigration. (Erik Whitlock/Robert Lyle, RFE/RL, Inc.) . . .RUSSIAN TRADE BANK DENIES BLOCKING DEALS. In a related story, Rosvneshtorg bank defended itself against accusations that it is obstructing over 100 projects by not cosigning deals that have already received EXIM bank approval (Daily Report #159, p. 2). According to the Journal of Commerce on 31 August, Deputy Chairman of Rosvneshtorg bank Sergei Osinyagov said that his bank considers many of the Russian partners in the proposed deals utterly incapable of paying back loans and thus it may not approve their purchases at all. (Erik Whitlock, RFE/RL, Inc.) RUSSIA REFUTES WESTERN BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS CHARGES. Izvestia on 31 August carried a rebuttal to recent Western hints that Russia might not have ended its illegal program to produce offensive biological weapons. The paper quoted a foreign ministry staff member as saying it was "impossible to imagine that the President of Russia should not be in control of an area so important to Russia's strategic defense." President Yeltsin has banned the production of biological weapons. Western press reports on 31 August indicated that the United States and Britain had doubts that Yeltsin's orders were being carried out. The two countries were said to have asked Russia to take "concrete steps" to prove that the program--outlawed by international agreement--had been ended. (Doug Clarke, RFE/RL, Inc.) UKRAINE TO TAKE GRADUAL APPROACH TO TRANSITION. First Deputy Prime Minister Valentyn Symonenko told a press conference on 31 August that, although pressing forward with reform of the Ukrainian economy, the nation would not opt for a "shock therapy" approach, Western news agencies reported on 31 August. "We are not talking about speedy changes but about evolutionary work," he was quoted as saying. Symonenko used the opportunity to touch on a number of other topics as well. He discussed Ukraine's voucher-privatization scheme which is to begin this fall with the opening of special bank accounts to citizens valued at 30,000 coupons (about $100) for use in purchasing shares in state companies. Symonenko, saying there "was no way back," also reaffirmed the government's intention to introduce its own currency, the hrivnya, by the end of the year. (Erik Whitlock, RFE/RL, Inc.) RUSSIAN DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER KHIZHA MEETS NORTH CAUCASIAN LEADERS. In advance of the 3 September meeting in Moscow between Yeltsin and Shevarnadze to discuss Abkhazia, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Georgii Khizha met the heads of the North Caucasian republics (except Chechnya and Ingushetia), Krasnodar and Stavropol krais, and Rostov oblast, as well as representatives of the peoples of the North Caucasus and Cossacks in Armavir on 31 August, ITAR-TASS reported. Khizha said that the withdrawal of Georgian troops from Abkhazia and the disbandment and disarming of armed formations were essential to the establishment of a lasting peace. Participants denounced the Confederation of Mountain Peoples' call for the despatch of volunteers to Abkhazia to fight on the side of the Abkhazians. There were also calls to turn the administrative frontier between Russia and Georgia into a formal state one. (Ann Sheehy, RFE/RL, Inc.) MOUNTAIN PEOPLES' CONFEDERATION TEMPORARILY SUSPENDS DESPATCH OF VOLUNTEERS. The Confederation of Mountain Peoples of the North Caucasus issued a statement on 31 August saying that from 1 September they were suspending the despatch of volunteers to Abkhazia, ITAR-TASS reported citing CIS TV. The suspension would be in operation until 4 September, when the outcome of the 3 September talks in Moscow between the leaders of Russia, Georgia, Abkhazia, and the North Caucasus should be known. (Ann Sheehy, RFE/RL, Inc.) ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT ON AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT. Azerbaijani presidential spokesman Niazi Ibragimov is quoted by ITAR-TASS as asserting that an incident on 29 August in which a KAMAZ truck rammed a police car escorting Azerbaijani President Abulfaz Elchibei's car near the raion center of Geranboy was an assassination attempt. The truck driver, whose identity is not known, was detained; Elchibei was not injured. (Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc.) DEMONSTRATORS TAKE HOSTAGES IN DUSHANBE. Threatening that if Tajik President Rakhmon Nabiev would not meet with them voluntarily, they would haul him out by force, a group of opposition picketers invaded the Presidential Palace in Dushanbe on 31 August, and held government employees and members of the president's staff hostage, ITAR-TASS reported. The opposition had set 31 August as the deadline for Tajik President Rakhmon Nabiev either to stop the fighting that has turned much of southern Tajikistan into a civil war zone for the last two months, or resign. There was no sign that Nabiev intended to resign. The demonstrators also demanded the release of General Rakhim Nurullobekov, who has been detained by National Security in connection with the assassination last week of the state prosecutor. (Bess Brown RFE/RL,Inc.) CIS MIILTARY OBSERVERS IN TAJIKISTAN. A group of military observers from Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and CIS armed forces headquarters are visiting the parts of southern Tajikistan where fighting is occurring, Khovar-TASS reported on 31 August. The observers are assessing the potential danger for the rest of the Commonwealth and the possibilities for reconciling the warring groups. They were invited by the Tajik government, which has been criticized by the opposition for an agreement reached last week between President Nabiev and CIS armed forces commander Evgenii Shaposhnikov on the deployment of CIS peacekeeping forces in Tajikistan. (Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc.) TAJIK PRIME MINISTER RESIGNS. ITAR-TASS reported on 31 August that Tajik President Nabiev had accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Akbar Mirzoev on 30 August. No reason was given for Mirzoev's departure. He was appointed to the post in January and was considered a close associate of Nabiev. Mirzoev is one of the government officials who came from Kulyab Oblast, which has rejected the Dushanbe coalition government because it contains members of the opposition. His departure from the government may further exacerbate relations between Kulyab and Dushanbe. (Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc.) KAZAKH-US AGREEMENT ON ENERGY. A memorandum between Kazakhstan and the United States concerning cooperation on energy was signed in Alma-Ata on 31 August, ITAR-TASS reported. The memorandum provides for the privatization of Kazakhstan's existing energy complex and US assistance in the preparation of laws on energy. (Bess Brown, RFE/RL Inc.) LEBEDAGAIN CAUTIONED AGAINST POLITICAL STATEMENTS. Russia's Defense Minister, General Pavel Grachev, told Izvestiia of 1 September that he has "issued additional written instructions to General Lebed," the commander of Russia's 14th Army in Moldova, on "the impermissibility of [making] political statements." Grachev's announcement followed complaints by Moldova's ambassador to Russia, Petru Lucinschi, to Grachev about Lebed's recent public statements terming the Moldovan government "fascist" and "criminal" and pledging continued Russian assistance, including military aid, to the "Dniester republic." Lucinschi told Grachev that such statements undermine Yeltsin's policy, contravene CIS commitments, fuel Moldovan suspicions of Russia, and cause "an explosive situation" in Moldova, Izvestia reported. Lebed had been instructed to refrain from political statements in early July following his first series of statements, but he continued to make them afterward. (Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc.) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE ALEXANDER DUBCEK IN CRITICAL CONDITION AFTER CAR ACCIDENT. CSTK reports that Alexander Dubcek, former chairman of the Czechoslovak Federal Assembly and leader of the 1968 Prague Spring, was involved in a car accident on the highway connecting Prague and Bratislava in the morning of 1 September. Dubcek was transported to a hospital in Humpolec, where he was diagnosed as having suffered a broken spine, ribs, and hips. (Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc.) MAZOWIECKI WARNS OF SPREADING ETHNIC CLEANSING. Western news agencies on 31 August quoted UN human rights monitor and former Polish prime minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki as blaming all sides for human rights violations in the Yugoslav conflict. He added, however, that Croatian persecution of Serbs "cannot be compared to the systematic use of violence against ethnic Croatians and Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina." Mazowiecki cited systematic execution of prisoners by Serbian irregulars, as well as "particularly grave incidents of physical abuse of Catholic priests and nuns." There were signs that the Serbs were beginning to extend ethnic cleansing to the Sandzak, Kosovo, and Vojvodina, and international monitors should be sent to those areas soon, he concluded. He also requested more UN peace keepers for the conflict and asked that they be given powers to intervene to stop human rights violations. (Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc.) VANCE: ALL SIDES HAVE BROKEN LONDON AGREEMENTS. The chief UN envoy in the Yugoslav conflict, Cyrus Vance, said on 31 August that all parties had already violated the terms they had approved on 26 and 27 August, including the cease-fire. Western news agencies added that Vance would consider taking up some of the recommendations in Mazowiecki's 18-page report. The envoy will resume negotiations on the crisis on 4 September in Geneva. (Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc.) UN SANCTIONS BROKEN AT HUNGARIAN BORDER. According to Reuters on 31 August, UN trade sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro are repeatedly being broken by shipment of goods across the Hungarian border. The report was based on an interview with a representative of the Dutch transport union Vervoersbond FNV, who was sent to the border to investigate claims that drivers passing through Serbia are often forced to load cargoes in violation of the sanctions. (Judith Pataki, RFE/RL, Inc.) PANIC TO FACE NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE. Radio Serbia reported on 31 August that the federal assembly of the rump Yugoslavia will take a vote of no-confidence on Prime Minister Milan Panic. The motion was proposed by 68 deputies of the ruling Socialist Party and the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party. The vote could take place as early as 3 September and would require only a simple majority of the 178 deputies to pass. Expressing the view of those deputies who oppose Panic, Brana Crncevic, a popular columnist and socialist deputy, said Panic's talks with Croatian President Franjo Tudjman and Kosovo's leader Ibrahim Rugova in London "exceeded the boundaries of his mandate" since the talks "were conducted in secret." Crncevic also complained that Panic acted without giving prior notice to members of the Serbian and Montenegrin delegations in London and disregarded the assembly's instructions in connection with the London meeting. Crncevic also said that Panic's pledges on recognizing the independence of Croatia and the restoring Kosovo's autonomy were out of line. (Milan Andrejevich, RFE/RL, Inc.) REACTIONS TO THE NO-CONFIDENCE PROPOSAL. President of the rump Yugoslavia Dobrica Cosic told Tanjug that he is surprised by the move, as are Deputies of Montenegro's Democratic Party of Socialists (formerly League of Communists). Svetozar Marovic, a Montenegrin deputy, expressed his doubts that such a "radical and one-sided move" can contribute to the stabilization of the situation in the country." Panic's spokesman, David Calef, told reporters that Panic is "not worried." It is widely believed that the latest action may be the result of Panic's attempts to restrain Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, widely regarded as the chief instigator of continuing warfare in the former Yugoslavia. Earlier Panic put Milosevic on notice that he must comply with the London agreements "or else . . . I will demand his resignation." On 29 August, however, Panic said his statement had been misinterpreted: "I said if anyone fails to comply, he would have to resign." Radio Serbia carried the reports. (Milan Andrejevich, RFE/RL, Inc.) SLOVAK PARLIAMENT DISCUSSES CONSTITUTION. On 31 August the Slovak National Council opened a session dedicated to debating a draft Slovak constitution. Presenting the draft, which had been prepared by the Slovak government, Slovak prime minister Vladimir Meciar called it Slovakia's first truly democratic constitution. He also said that the constitution is based on "civic rather than national principle." Meciar praised the fact that deputies have submitted more than 400 amendments to the draft constitution. He argued, however, that the efforts by ethnic Hungarian deputies to have minority rights enhanced through amendments were "justly rejected," because "they would cast doubt on the integrity of the Slovak Republic." During the parliamentary debate, Hungarian deputies criticized the draft as "repressive" and said they would vote against it. Responding to criticism that the constitution gives too much power to the government and weakens the parliament, Meciar said that "the government is not parliament's front office." (Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc.) POLISH SENATE EXPERTS CRITICAL OF DRAFT CONSTITUTION. Several constitutional experts have proposed that the Senate reject the draft of a new Polish constitution that was approved by the Sejm on 1 August. Testifying at a hearing held by the Senate's Constitutional Commission on 31 August and reported by PAP, the experts said that the draft rules for the formation of the government are confusing and could complicate the operation of the government, that the proposed constitution excessively limits the president's prerogatives, and that it restricted the Senate's authority by enhancing the Sejm's powers. The draft must be approved by the Senate and signed by the president. Poland's current constitution was adopted in 1952 at the height of communist rule and, as a result of frequent amendments, it confuses rather than clarifies the rules and procedures of government. (Jan de Weydenthal, RFE/RL, Inc.) ILIESCU LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN. On 31 August Romanian president Ion Iliescu opened his campaign for reelection. He made a general statement on Radio Bucharest and answered questions from listeners, telling Romanians that his policies helped "demolish the communist totalitarian system" in the country as well as avert "chaos and anarchy" during the transition to democracy and a market economy. A high-ranking communist party functionary under Ceausescu until 1971, Iliescu is backed by the Democratic National Salvation Front, which broke away from the National Salvation Front in April. (Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL, Inc.) ANTALL DISTANCES HIMSELF FROM CSURKA PAMPHLET. On 31 August, the first day of parliamentary session after the summer break, Prime Minister Jozsef Antall distanced himself from the "political pamphlet" written recently by Istvan Csurka, vice-president of the governing Democratic Forum, MTI reports. Antall called Csurka's critical study of the performance of the Democratic Forum and the government "politically harmful" because it gave wrong answers to important questions. Antall stressed that neither he, his cabinet, nor the party have identified with those answers. Antall was also critical of a leading liberal member of his party, Jozsef Debreczeni, who took the debate outside the party by publishing an answer to Csurka's essay in the opposition daily Nepszabadsag. (Judith Pataki, RFE/RL, Inc.) HUNGARIAN PARTY DOCUMENTS TO BE MADE PUBLIC. Radio Budapest reported on 28 August that several documents of the former Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party will become accessible to the public on 1 September when the law passed by Hungarian parliament last December on the fate of the documents comes into effect. Some party documents, such as membership lists, were returned to the Institute of Party History. Although some material is readily available at the archives, materials less than 30 years old can be researched only if the Ministry of Education and Culture, which supervises the archives, grants permission to do so. (Judith Pataki, RFE/RL, Inc.) TROOPS TO BE WITHDRAWN FROM BALTICS IN 1993? On 31 August Oleg Muradyan, head of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Baltic Affairs department, told BNS that Russia is ready to withdraw its troops from the Baltic States by the end of 1993. He said that this is an "unofficial position" but that Russian President Boris Yeltsin will make this proposal at his 8 September meeting with Lithuanian parliament chairman Vytautas Landsbergis. In an interview with the RFE/RL Lithuanian Service, Landsbergis said that the "good will and flexibility" shown by the Russians in negotiations on troop withdrawals made him "moderately optimistic" that an agreement on a "package of documents" on the withdrawal could be reached. (Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc.) UDF REACTION TO ZHELEV'S CRITICISM. On 31 August Bulgarian prime minister and UDF leader Filip Dimitrov rejected the sharp criticism directed at his ruling coalition by President Zhelyu Zhelev the previous day. Dimitrov said Zhelev's claims that the political situation in Bulgaria is tense and that the parliament and the government are not functioning efficiently "do not correspond to the truth," BTA reports. Following a meeting of the UDF Coordinating Council, spokesman Mihail Nedelchev said Zhelev ought to have made his remarks directly to the coalition before going public. Zhelev is a founder and former leader of the UDF. (Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc.) BULGARIAN GYPSIES MEET. On 30 August, leaders of the Bulgarian Gypsy community, which has been rent by many divisions, ended a two-day session which they called the "National Round Table for the Union of Gypsies," BTA reported. The meeting yielded a declaration which calls for equal treatment of Gypsies. It indicates that Gypsies wish to cooperate with state agencies in diminishing tensions between Gypsies and other citizens. Bulgaria's Gypsy leaders wish to form a national organization and are planning a conference in Sofia on 17 October to pursue this goal. Gypsies comprise the third largest ethnic group in Bulgaria after Bulgarians and Turks. (Duncan Perry, RFE/RL, Inc.) BULGARIA TO SERVICE FOREIGN DEBT. Given the approval of the National Assembly, from mid-September Bulgaria will resume payments on its $12 billion foreign debt the government decided on 31 August. According to BTA, Finance Minister Ivan Kostov told a press conference that the decision is a result of concessions made by both Bulgaria and its commercial creditors. Although he declined to reveal details, Kostov said the creditor banks have agreed to Bulgaria's request for a comprehensive settlement and is offering substantial debt reduction. (Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc.) POLISH STRIKE UPDATE. PAP reports that on 1 September the management of the car parts factory in Tychy began sending dismissal notices to about 400 strikers occupying the plant. PAP also reported that the management of the Silesian Rozbark coal mine made public the names of 17 striking miners to be dismissed for disciplinary reasons. Both strikes are regarded as illegal. In a related development, workers in the Ursus tractor plant near Warsaw decided to continue a partial strike. Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka declined the workers' invitation for an urgent meeting to discuss their problem. (Jan de Weydenthal, RFE/RL, Inc.) STOLOJAN DEFENDS SUBSIDY CUTS; UNIONS CALL PROTESTS. In an interview broadcast by Radio Bucharest on 31 August Romanian prime minister Theodor Stolojan again defended his cabinet's decision to go ahead with subsidy cuts planned for 1 September. Stolojan, who admitted that the move was likely to have a negative impact on the forthcoming elections, insisted that Romania cannot "afford the luxury of linking its economic reforms to the electoral cycle." The new round of subsidy cuts--the second this year--is expected to lead to a substantial increase in prices for staples, services, and energy. Romania's main trade union organizations called for rallies on 11 September to protest sinking living standards. (Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL Inc.) START OF SCHOOL YEAR IN LITHUANIA. On 31 August Darius Kuolys, Lithuanian minister of culture and education, told a press conference that with the start of the school year on 1 September Lithuanian education was entering its second stage of reform. More than 40 new textbooks will be used to replace Soviet materials throughout the school system. Fourteen new primary schools and eight high schools have been opened. "Moral training" classes, either in religion or ethics, will be required for pupils in primary and high schools. (Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc.) CORRECTION: In RFE/RL Daily Report 165 of 28 August, The post of Bulgarian Deputy Foreign Minister Valentin Dobrev was incorrectly given. In the item on debt settlement (Daily Report 166) on 31 August, while Bulgaria's foreign debt amounts to $12 billion, its commercial debt stands at about $10 billion.
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