|Absence makes the heart grow fonder. -|
No. 170, 04 September 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR SHAPOSHNIKOV ON PEACEKEEPING FORCE FOR TAJIKISTAN. Last week Marshal Evgenii Shaposhnikov, commander-in-chief of the CIS armed forces, reached an agreement with Tajik President Rakhmon Nabiev on sending CIS peacekeeping forces to Tajikistan. But on 3 September, after the announcement of Nabiev's ouster, Shaposhnikov told ITAR-TASS that it would be difficult to deploy a CIS peacekeeping force in Tajikistan now. He said that CIS members must make every effort to prevent the spread of the Tajik turmoil to other states, but that the deployment of a peacekeeping force would require that the opinions of all parties to the conflict in Tajikistan be taken into account. Anti-Nabiev forces are unlikely to agree to a peacekeeping force, which they see as Russian interference. (Bess Brown) CIS LEADERS SEE DANGER IN TAJIK CONFLICT. The presidents of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia issued a warning on 3 September to the government and political groups of Tajikistan, branding the civil war in that country a danger to the Commonwealth, and announcing that Russia and the Central Asian states intend to intervene. The statement mentions as concrete dangers the large-scale smuggling of arms from Tajikistan's southern neighbors and the danger that Tajikistan could be taken out of the CIS and lose its sovereignty. The only specific measure mentioned in the statement was the sending of additional border troops to Tajikistan; the implication was, however, that other types of intervention might follow if the Tajiks cannot restore order themselves. (Bess Brown) DEMONSTRATORS STILL HOLED UP IN PRESIDENTIAL PALACE. Western agencies report from Dushanbe that the demonstrators who took over the Presidential Palace were still holed up there on 3 September, although they had released all their hostages. The militants, from a Dushanbe youth group, say they refuse to leave before the opening of the Supreme Soviet session scheduled for 4 September, because their departure might mean that President Nabiev could reestablish himself in power. (Bess Brown) STRIKES IN UKRAINE CONTINUING. The strike action in Ukraine called by the independent Association of Free Trade Unions, which is disrupting rail and air transport, is continuing (see Daily Report, 3 September, 1992). Western and CIS agencies report that government and union negotiators failed to reach agreement at their first round of talks held in Kiev on 3 September. The government has declared the strike illegal but has reportedly offered to drop legal action against the organizers if they end their work stoppage. According to Ukrinform-TASS, the government has also ordered the Ministry of Defense to take over air traffic control. (Bohdan Nahaylo) CEASEFIRE AGREED IN ABKHAZIA. After several hours of tough negotiations in Moscow, Russian President Yeltsin, Georgian State Council Chairman Eduard Shevardnadze, Abkhaz parliament leader Vladislav Ardzinba and representatives of the peoples of the North Caucasus signed a ceasefire agreement on 3 September, whereby Georgia will withdraw virtually all its troops from Abkhazia, leaving only a small contingent to guard roads and railways. The ceasefire is to begin at noon local time on 5 September, and a joint Russian-Abkhaz-Georgian commission will be created to monitor it. Shevardnadze admitted that the ceasefire agreement would be difficult to implement; Ardzinba said he was not happy with the agreement, but expressed hope that "Yeltsin will not permit the annihilation of the Abkhaz people," ITAR-TASS reported. (Liz Fuller) "REFORM" DEPUTIES CALL FOR KHASBULATOV'S OUSTER. A group of Russian democratic parliamentary deputies, called "Reform," strongly criticized the parliament's speaker, Ruslan Khasbulatov, at its press conference on 2 September, and proposed his ouster. A coalition leader, Leonid Volkov, was quoted by ITAR-TASS as saying Khasbulatov regularly exceeds his authority. The same day, a leader of the Democratic Russia movement, Lev Ponomarev, said representatives of the movement would propose to the Presidium of the Russian Supreme Soviet that it discuss Khasbulatov's ouster at the presidium's session scheduled for 7 September. (Vera Tolz) RUSSIAN BUDGET DEFICIT MOUNTS. Addressing a Kremlin conference on 24 August on the progress of regional economic reform, Russian Finance Minister Vasilii Barchuk announced that the budget deficit to date amounted to almost 1 trillion rubles, Radio Mayak reported. He warned that the deficit threatens to rise to 2 trillion rubles by the end of the year "which is tantamount to hyperinflation." In current prices, the Russian GNP is thought to be something like 15 trillion rubles. This would suggest that the budget deficit, on an annual basis, is running at over 13% of GNP, i.e., well over government projections and far higher than Russian commitments to the IMF and G-7. (Keith Bush) MORE ON RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT, CENTRAL BANK RIFT. Central Bank Deputy Chairman Voilukov said in an interview with Trud, summarized by ITAR-TASS on 3 September, that the government's promises about inflation and financial stabilization by the end of the year were not realistic. Voilukov also said, apparently referring to the issue of new credits during the rest of 1992, that the economy would need an injection of 1.5 to 2 trillion rubles--much more than the ceiling on credit creation demanded by the IMF. In a related story, Interfax on 3 September reported that a Russian parliamentary commission would soon consider a Yeltsin memorandum explaining his veto of the Law on Currency Regulation. Many members of the government consider that the law, passed on 14 July by parliament, gives the Central Bank too much power in determining hard currency regulations in Russia. (Erik Whitlock) CAPITAL FLIGHT FROM RUSSIA. Unidentified "monetary sources" in Moscow told Reuters on 3 September that over $5 billion in convertible currency was stashed away in overseas bank accounts by Russian exporters during the first half of the year. Other estimates have put the amount of illegal holdings much higher. Russian TV on 10 July quoted Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs figures suggesting that deposits totaling $20 billion belonging to enterprises, commercial organizations, and individuals were lodged in Western banks. In March, the Russian government hired Kroll Associates to help it track down and repatriate the billions of dollars held abroad by enterprises and by former party and government officials. (Keith Bush). POLITICAL PARTIES GET ACCESS TO TV IN ST. PETERSBURG. As of 1 September, representatives of all parties and movements that are active in St. Petersburg have been granted access to local TV. Representatives of local political forces are now given an hour of broadcasting time per week to express their views, Pravda reported on 3 September. The Committee for Glasnost and Mass Media at the St. Petersburg City Soviet is concerned about the decision of the city TV management to grant broadcasting time to all political parties, because some of them adhere to extreme right-wing views. (Vera Tolz) WILL YELTSIN MAKE IT TO JAPAN? An announcement from the Russian Federation President's Security Service carried by ITAR-TASS on 3 September said: "during the process of the preliminary study of the issues connected with ensuring security for the Russian president's visit to Japan, there have appeared a number of material negative factors indicating the absence of a complete guarantee of the security" for the Russian delegation during the 13-16 September visit to Japan. It is unclear whether security concerns expressed on the Russian side are genuine or if they are meant to prepare the ground for the cancellation of the visit--something which conservatives in Russia have demanded over the last several weeks. (Suzanne Crow) ON CIS DEFENSE MINISTER MEETING. Serious differences between Russia and Ukraine on the issue of control over nuclear weapons appeared at the CIS Council of Defense Ministers meeting in Moscow, Interfax reported on 3 September. Russia wants to be the only state allowed to have its own strategic forces. Nuclear weapons on the territory of other states should, in Russia's view, be placed under the command of the Joint CIS Armed Forces until they are removed or destroyed. Ukraine insists that the strategic forces on its territory should be under the jurisdiction and control of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry. CIS defense ministers are also experiencing difficulty agreeing on a concept of collective security, since not all CIS states signed the Treaty of Collective Security last spring. (Alexander Rahr) RUSSIA TO DISPLAY TOP AIRCRAFT AT BRITISH SHOW. Aleksei Didenko, an official of the Russian aviation industry, was quoted by ITAR-TASS on 1 September as saying that Russia would display future civilian aircraft and Russia's most modern fighters, bombers, attack aircraft and helicopters at the upcoming Farnborough Air Show in Great Britain. Among the aircraft listed to appear at the show was the IL-78 strategic refueling aircraft. These aerial tankers have been one of the many bones of contention between Russia and Ukraine. The only regiment of these planes in the former-Soviet airforce was located at Uzin, in Ukraine. Last March, Ukraine "appropriated" this regiment and threatened to use the planes as the basis of the republic's civil airline. (Doug Clarke) RUSSIA INTRODUCES NEW ID CARDS. Russian citizens will have to wait until 1994 before their Soviet passports will be abolished and replaced by Russian identification cards, ITAR-TASS reported on 2 September. Moreover, it may take five-to-seven years to introduce new Russian passports. The chairman of a sub-committee of the parliamentary Human Rights' Committee, Mikhail Arutyunov, said that the new identification cards will bear the citizens' legal residence, but no state symbol, reference to ethnic origin, family status, or criminal record. (Alexander Rahr) YET ANOTHER CEASEFIRE IN NAGORNO-KARABAKH. Armenian and Azerbaijani representatives met on 3 September in the village of Kayan-Avan on the border between the two countries and signed a ceasefire agreement based on last week's Alma-Ata protocol, to take effect on 15 September, ITAR-TASS reported. The upcoming round of CSCE-sponsored talks in Rome beginning 7 September is to work out mechanisms for enforcing the ceasefire. Azerbaijani President Abulfaz Elchibey again ruled out independence for Nagorno-Karabakh and said that autonomy for the region would be conditional on the creation of a similar status in Armenia for Azerbaijanis displaced over the past four years, AFP reported. In an apparent snub to Kazakh President Nazarbaev, Elchibey stated that he considered mediation efforts by international organizations preferable to those by individual states, ITAR-TASS reported. (Liz Fuller) MOLDOVA SOFTER ON RUSSIAN TROOP ISSUE. Petru Lucinschi, Moldova's ambassador to Russia and the head of the Moldovan negotiating group on the future of Russia's troops in Moldova, told Nezavisimaya Moldova on 2 September that "unlike the Baltic states, Moldova does not insist on an immediate withdrawal of Russian troops and is prepared to reach agreement on the conditions of their temporary presence on Moldova's territory." Lucinschi added that Moldova would continue negotiating the terms of the eventual troop withdrawal, but that it set a higher priority on economic agreements with Russia. This signal of a weakening Moldovan position on the troop issue is apparently linked to Lucinschi's recently expressed anxiety, shared by the Moldovan leadership, about a possible "Yugoslav scenario" on both banks of the Dniester (see Daily Report, 2 September). (Vladimir Socor) MOLDOVA SEES NEED FOR RUSSIAN GOODWILL. A political adviser to President Mircea Snegur predicted to Interfax on 2 September that should Chisinau fail to grant the left bank of the Dniester a political status, as pledged by President Mircea Snegur recently in Moscow, "there will be a renewed conflict followed by a Russian economic blockade of Moldova, the deterioration of the Moldovan economy, and the threat of a political coup." By the same token, "many of Moldova's problems can only be resolved through Moscow's mediation." Such assessments, as well as those of Lucinschi (see item above) reflect the Moldovan leadership's growing sense of vulnerability to Russia and its search for Russian goodwill in the wake of Moldova's military defeats in the Dniester conflict. (Vladimir Socor) SNEGUR IN SWITZERLAND. Moldovan President Mircea Snegur paid a visit to Switzerland for talks with Swiss Confederation President Rene Felber and with banking circles, Moldovapres reported on 2 and 3 September. Snegur said at the end of the visit that Swiss neutrality could be a model for Moldova, which also intends to be a neutral state; and that Moldova could usefully study the Swiss experience in political-administrative decentralization. The Swiss side offered credits to support Moldovan pilot projects in food processing and management training in 1993, with Swiss experts to provide technical assistance in setting up the projects. It was also agreed to set up a Swiss-Moldovan trading company and bank. (Vladimir Socor) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE RELIEF PLANE DOWN IN BOSNIA. Relief flights into Sarajevo were halted on 3 September and the airport was closed on the 4th after an Italian relief plane crashed 20 miles west of the embattled Bosnian capital en route from Split. The crew of four was killed, and four US helicopters searching for the wreckage were turned back by ground fire, the New York Times reports. The cause of the crash is not clear, but mechanical failure was suggested by Italian TV, while Bavarian Radio has speculated about a ground-based rocket attack. Tanjug reports that a letter from the headquarters of the Bosnian Serb forces to UNPROFOR commander Satish Nambiar categorically denies that the plane was shot down by its forces and claims that the area of the crash is controlled by Croat Muslim forces. Reuters reports that Turkey is willing to send troops and the US has offered logistical support, possibly including air cover, for aid convoys in Bosnia. (Charles Trumbull) GENEVA CONFERENCE OPENS. The international conference on former Yugoslavia, jointly sponsored by the United Nations and the European Community and cochaired by Cyrus Vance of the US and Lord Owen of the UK, opened on 3 September. The conference will remain in permanent session and has divided its activities into six working groups: on Bosnia-Herzegovina, confidence building measures, humanitarian issues, economic problems, minorities, and legal issues. Opening statements by the cochairman, widely reported in the press, stressed the long-term nature of the conference's work and warned against expectations of quick solutions. (Charles Trumbull) PANIC ON THE OFFENSIVE. Milan Panic, prime minister of the rump Yugoslavia, told a news conference on 3 September that he will take the offensive in the Federal Assembly on 4 September. He stressed that he will directly attack the "old guard" by speaking the truth: "the time of lies, swindles, and cheating is over." He said that it will only be a matter of time until Yugoslavia will be respected again on the international scene. Panic declined to comment on whether the initiative to submit a no-confidence motion in his government was a consequence of his sacking of Deputy Interior Minister Mihail Kertes, a Socialist hard-liner ("the politically dead," in Panic's phrase). Panic deflected the question of whether Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and Socialist Party chairman Borisav Jovic were behind the motion of no-confidence He also announced that he is going to Kosovo on 5 August for talks with leaders of ethnic Albanian parties. Radio Serbia carried the report. (Milan Andrejevich) ARMY, STUDENTS SUPPORT PANIC. The prime minister also told reporters that he enjoys the full support of the Yugoslav armed forces. Panic, who is also federal defense minister, said that he has been in frequent contact with the military adding "I can sense whether or not someone supports me. I believe the entire Army supports me." Panic also said that he enjoys the support of students and called on them to stay at home and not to gather outside the Federal Assembly building in Belgrade for the 4 September session that will discuss the work of the Yugoslav delegation at the London conference. (Milan Andrejevich) SLOVAK CONSTITUTION SIGNED. In a ceremony at the Bratislava castle on 3 September, Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar and Parliament chairman Ivan Gasparovic signed Slovakia's new constitution which was adopted on 1 September. The constitution went into effect immediately after the signing ceremony, but some of its provisions are frozen until 1 January 1993 to avoid clashing with federal laws. Federal Prime Minister Jan Strasky and Milan Uhde, chairman of the Czech National Council, attended the ceremony. CSTK reports that delegates representing ethnic Hungarians walked out of the ceremony in protest against what they see as insufficient protection of minority rights in the constitution. Speaking to reporters in Prague, Jan Kasal, a deputy chairman of the Czech National Council, said that "by adopting a full constitution, Slovakia has [in effect] quit the federation." (Jiri Pehe) HUNGARIAN OFFICIALS ON GABCIKOVO. Prime Minister Jozsef Antall has categorically denied that his government ever suggested to the Slovak government that the Gabcikovo plant could be opened even if Hungary stopped building its section of the Danube project. According to Radio Budapest, Antall was replying to a statement by Vladimir Meciar, who said that such an offer had earlier been made to Czechoslovakia by Hungary. Minister without Portfolio Ferenc Madl, in a interview in the 2 September issue of Magyar hirlap, noted Czechoslovakia's contradictory statements regarding the Gabcikovo dam, namely that it is ready to bring the issue before the International Court of Justice in the Hague and will soon divert the Danube. Should Czechoslovakia proceed, Madl said, Hungary will ask the ICJ to require its northern neighbor to suspend work. The contentious issue is sure to come up again when Antall meets with Meciar in Budapest on 9 September. Since a year of bilateral talks have brought no progress, Hungary hopes both countries will agree to apply jointly to the ICJ, Madl said. (Judith Pataki & Alfred Reisch) GOVERNMENT STATEMENT ON THE HUNGARIAN POLITICAL SCENE. In connection with the political tensions after the appearance of a critical political essay by Hungarian Democratic Forum vice president Istvan Csurka, the government adopted a statement during its 3 September session, local media report. The statement condemns political hysteria and increasingly harsh rhetoric in domestic public life. In a reference to President Arpad Goncz's refusal to sign the dismissals of the top leaders of Hungarian Radio and TV, the statement condemns arbitrary interpretation of the constitution. In reference to the Csurka essay, the government attacked what it called extremist political views burdened by prejudices, firmly rejecting endeavors of any orientation characteristic of totalitarian states, intentions running counter to general moral values, human and minority rights, the UN spirit and charter, or the government's international obligations. The government promised to do everything necessary to safeguard the constitutional order. The statement expressed hope that all political forces will make efforts to easing confrontations. (Judith Pataki) ROMANIAN REACTIONS TO TOKES'S PROTEST FAST. President Ion Iliescu released to the media an open letter addressed to the Magyar bishop Laszlo Tokes. Iliescu rejects as unfounded Tokes's accusations of government laxity in prosecuting those responsible for anti-Hungarian actions. Among other things, the letter claims that the ethnic clashes in Tirgu Mures in March 1990 were "fomented from abroad" and began when "massive groups" of Hungarian citizens visiting Romania "behaved in an objectionable manner." Iliescu says Tokes is resorting to "spectacular gestures" that could be dangerous for the country's tranquillity before the elections. The Democratic National Salvation Front, on whose ticket Iliescu is running in the elections, accused Tokes of staging the fast on the orders of the CIA and other intelligence services, according to Reuters. And the extreme nationalist Greater Romania Party said the action signals "the beginning of a series of diversions" that could "lead to ethnic clashes and bloodshed" before the elections. (Michael Shafir) ROMANIAN-UKRAINIAN TALKS. Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Anatolii Zlenko arrived in Bucharest on 3 September and signed with his Romanian counterpart Adrian Nastase an agreement on cooperation in culture, science, and education as well as two consular conventions. Rompres said the agreements facilitate the "creation of conditions" conducive to the satisfaction of "the cultural and religious requirements" of ethnic Romanians in Ukraine and Ukrainians in Romania. Zlenko was also received by Prime Minister Theodor Stolojan, with whom he discussed economic links. On 2 September Radio Bucharest reported that a Romanian delegation from Chernovtsy had complained that the Romanian minority in Ukraine "does not enjoy rights equal to those extended to other ethnic minorities." (Michael Shafir) BULGARIAN PREMIER ON COUP RUMORS. On 3 September Bulgarian Prime Minister Filip Dimitrov rejected rumors of a military coup as "further attempts to create turmoil," BTA reports. Dimitrov said he finds the idea that incumbent UDF leaders would prepare a coup "insane." He said there is something paradoxical about people who on the one hand "were concerned" about heightening political tension while at the same time "labor to increase it." On 3 September several major dailies carried reports of alleged coup preparations, mostly based on anonymous sources. (Kjell Engelbrekt) RUSSIAN TROOP WITHDRAWAL SCHEDULE FROM LITHUANIA SET? On 3 September National Defense Minister Audrius Butkevicius said on local TV that it appeared that in their two-day meetings in Moscow Russian and Lithuanian delegations agreed on a troop withdrawal schedule acceptable to both sides, Radio Lithuania reports. Work on the schedule is not yet complete, but should be finalized by 8 September for the meeting between Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Lithuanian Parliament Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis. (Saulius Girnius) LITHUANIAN ECONOMICS MINISTER'S PRESS CONFERENCE. On 3 September Minister of Economics Albertas Simenas told a press conference that the government has approved an economic political memorandum to the IMF detailing its economic policies for 1993, Radio Lithuania reports. An IMF council meeting in October is expected to approve $287 million in credits for the fiscal year. Simenas also noted that discussions on economic relations with Russia have become more efficient, and draft economic and accounting agreements should be ready for signing by mid-September. At present Russia owes Lithuania 10.7 billion rubles for goods delivered while Lithuania owes Russia 4.7 billion rubles. (Saulius Girnius) DEPUTIES FORM INTERREGIONAL COUNCIL IN ESTONIA. A group of eight longtime pro-Soviet Supreme Council deputies has formed a body called the Estonian Interregional Deputies' Council, BNS reported on 3 September. The deputies, most but not all of whom are non-Estonians ethnically, say they will continue to represent what they call their disenfranchised voters. The deputies--Aksinin, Israelian, Lebedev, Gusev, Kuznetsov, Sakharov, Panfilov and Annus--told BNS that they will work within the new Estonian constitution. This is the second such group formed so far in Estonia to represent the interests of noncitizens who cannot vote in this month's parliamentary elections. (Riina Kionka) ESTONIAN FOREIGN MINISTER TO US. Jaan Manitsky will make an official three-day visit to the US starting 15 September, BNS reports. Manitsky will meet with Acting Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger to discuss trade and investment and Estonian-Russian relations. Manitsky is also set to meet with members of Congress and senators. (Riina Kionka) LATVIA STRUGGLES WITH THEFT OF NONFERROUS METALS. In order to stop widespread theft, the Latvian government has ruled that as of 1 September only two state firms will be permitted to purchase nonferrous metals in Latvia and resell them abroad. Moreover, on 26 August the Ventspils prosecutor's office ordered a ship owned by the British-based World Trading Company to remain in port until investigation is completed concerning its load of nonferrous metals that it was to take out of Latvia on behalf of Klints, a company registered in Latvia. According to BNS of 2 September, the metals are worth about $250,000. Thefts of valuable nonferrous metals continue unabated, however. During the night of 29 August thieves removed 25 bronze plates from gravestones of German POWs in Riga. Recently the plaque was stolen from the monument in honor of Col. Oskars Kalpaks, hero of Latvia's 1918-19 fight for independence, BNS and Radio Riga reported on 2 and 3 September. Criminal organizations are believed to be buying up the metals for resale abroad for hard currency. (Dzintra Bungs) IS ESTONIA BECOMING A DUMP? A number of recent reports have drawn attention to Estonia's increasingly difficult environmental state. According to Sweden's Sydsvenska dagbladet on 2 September, 4 million tons of uranium ore waste (including a reported 1,200 tons of pure uranium) have been dumped into an artificial lake near Sillamae, an important Russian-run nuclear industrial site in Estonia. BNS reported on 3 September that it will take several days to clean up an oil spill caused by a collision of two railway tank cars near Tallinn harbor. The harbor is currently under a light film of oil which is not expected to harm sea life. Finally, German ZDF TV reported on 3 September that German industrial waste is being exported to Estonia under the guise of humanitarian aid. A Westphalian company has reportedly shipped at least 500,000 tons of used tires to Estonia in this guise. Other German wastes, including sewage sludge, car paint, and used lubricants, has also reportedly been sent to Estonia. (Riina Kionka) CHINA'S TRADE DEBT TO HUNGARY SETTLED. After two years of negotiations, China's foreign trade debt to Hungary of 106 million Swiss francs ($85 million) has been purchased from Hungary's National Bank by the Hungarian private firm Autotrade for an undisclosed sum. It will be paid in two installments within one year, MTI reported on 2 September. Autotrade, which has ties with 16 Chinese companies, will purchase Chinese goods for the same amount, its chairman Gyorgy Matrai announced. (Alfred Reisch)
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