|A disagreement may be the shortest cut between two minds. - Kahlil Gibran|
No. 172, 08 September 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR NABIEV RESIGNS. Tajik President Rakhmon Nabiev resigned on 7 September after armed opponents stopped him at Dushanbe airport, ITAR-TASS and Western agencies reported from Dushanbe. Nabiev was reported to have intended to fly to his home base in Leninabad oblast to confer with leaders there. Instead, after several hours of talks with government leaders at the airport, he agreed to resign, later saying on CIS-wide TV that he had done so voluntarily in order to stop the civil war in Tajikistan. Nabiev handed his powers over to Supreme Soviet Chairman Akbarsho Iskandarov. Khovar-TASS reported that Nabiev's resignation would be discussed by the Supreme Soviet on 8 September. That body was unable to muster a quorum to vote on his removal. (Bess Brown, RFE/RL Inc.) SHEVARDNADZE CALLS FOR AN END TO ABKHAZ BLOODSHED. In an address broadcast on 7 September on Georgian Radio and summarized by Interfax, Georgian State Council Chairman Eduard Shevardnadze appealed for an end to what he termed "the senseless war" in Georgia; he also criticized as "irresponsible" arguments by unnamed Georgian political figures that the Abkhaz crisis should be resolved by force. Four Georgian soldiers were killed and 29 wounded in three separate clashes in Abkhazia on 7 September, and a major railway line was destroyed by an explosion near the town of Ochamchire, ITAR-TASS reported. Russian members of the commission formed to monitor implementation of the cease-fire agreement signed in Moscow on 3 September are scheduled to arrive in Abkhazia on 8 September. (Liz Fuller, RFE/RL Inc.) AIR LINKS WITH CHECHNYA CUT. The president of Chechnya, Dzhokhar Dudaev, has called on Tatarstan and Bashkortostan to stop providing services to the Russian civil air fleet, Radio Mayak reported on 5 September. Dudaev's appeal was in response to a telegram from Moscow saying that from 6 A.M. on 5 September there would be no further air links between Groznyi and any city in the Russian Federation. At the same time Dudaev threatened that if any government interfered in the internal affairs of Chechnya, "then we will wage war on its territory." The Russian government's action is presumably aimed at making it more difficult for volunteers to go to Abkhazia. (Ann Sheehy, RFE/RL Inc.) YELTSIN MEETS WITH HEADS OF ADMINISTRATION. On 7 September, Boris Yeltsin met with local government leaders of the Russian Federation to discuss issues to be included in the agenda of an all-Russian conference of the leaders of local soviets and executive bodies. Interfax quoted Yeltsin's press secretary Vyacheslav Kostikov as saying relations between representative and executive bodies, and between regional executive bodies and the central Russian government were discussed at the meeting. Interfax said that at the meeting, Yeltsin complained that forces hampering progress towards a market economy were prevalent in Russia. (Vera Tolz, RFE/RL Inc.) YELTSIN REJECTS ELEVEN DRAFT LAWS. President Yeltsin vetoed eleven draft laws discussed at the fourth session of the Russian Supreme Soviet. Interfax reported on 7 September that among those drafts to be returned to parliament for further scrutiny are the laws on trade and manufacture of goods, legal protection of electronic computers, data banks, computer chip technology, and patents, Russia's monetary system, defense, interior troops, and monetary regulation and control. Interfax reported the same day that over 260 bills and fifty resolutions had been proposed for the discussion at the fifth session of the Russian parliament, which will begin on 22 September. (Vera Tolz, RFE/RL Inc.) SPLIT AMONG RUSSIA'S CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATS. A regional organization of the Russian Christian Democratic Movement in the city of Orel adopted a resolution attacking the movement's Moscow leaders, Viktor Aksyuchits, Ilya Konstantinov and Artem Artemov. The DR-Press (an independent news service of the Democratic Russia Movement) reported on 7 September that the Orel organization accused the three leaders of getting too close to Russia's "red-brown opposition" (the extreme nationalist and pro-Communist forces). The resolution complained that by cooperating with such overtly anti-reformist forces, the leaders of the Christian Democratic Movement discredit the very ideals of Christian democracy and the movement as a whole. (Vera Tolz, RFE/RL Inc.) DEMOCRATIC RUSSIA ASKS POPOV TO LEAVE ITS RANKS. On 7 September, the DR-Press distributed an open letter addressed to former Moscow Mayor Gavriil Popov. The letter was written in response to Popov's recent article in Izvestiya, in which he summed up mistakes made by democrats, including members of the Democratic Russia, after the 1991 August coup. In the article, Popov also described anti-democratic tendencies within the movement. The letter complained that despite his criticism of the movement, Popov is still one of its members. It suggested that if the former mayor indeed has such a poor opinion of Democratic Russia, he should formally announce his resignation from its ranks. (Vera Tolz, RFE/RL Inc.) CHUBAIS: BANKING SYSTEM UNFAIR TO PRIVATE SECTOR. Chairman of the Russian State Property Commission Anatoly Chubais criticized current lending practices of the Russian banking system, Interfax reported on 4 September. Chubais asserted that scarce credit is still allocated administratively to a large degree in Russia, and banks discriminate against non-state enterprises. He singled out the recent issue of new credits to state enterprises suffering from payment crises as an example of the problem. He further noted that the persistence of a non-market approach to the distribution of credits will be an obstacle to the transformation of state enterprises into joint-stock companies, which is an essential step in the privatization process. (Erik Whitlock, RFE/RL Inc.) SUBSIDY FOR RUSSIAN DEFENSE INDUSTRY. The Russian government has allocated an additional 13.2 billion rubles in subsidies for the defense industry in 1992, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported on 7 September. The sum is earmarked for salaries of employees of firms and organizations, including research and development personnel, who are working on government procurement contracts. It is aimed at preserving the cadres and capacity of the defense industry. No details are available on how much was allocated in the 1992 budget for defense industry subsidies: these are thought to have been included in the overall defense vote. The new allocation will presumably add to the consolidated budget deficit, currently running at over 1 trillion rubles. (Keith Bush, RFE/RL Inc.) FINANCIAL PROBLEMS IN RUSSIAN GAS INDUSTRY CITED. "Vesti" carried a story on 6 September detailing some of the severe financial difficulties the gas industry is currently experiencing. The concern Gasprom, made up of enterprises of the former Ministry of the Gas Industry, is reportedly on the edge of financial disaster because of delinquent payments from customers totally 90 billion rubles. Also damaging are burdensome government taxes on the concern, which take from between $2.5 and 3 billion rubles out of profits yearly. In addition, Gasprom claims that a significant share of its hard-currency earnings must be spent on buying food and other goods for workers rather than on much needed capital investment. (Erik Whitlock, RFE/RL Inc.) JAPAN AND RUSSIAN DIGNITY. Comments by Boris Yeltsin's personal spokesman, Vyacheslav Kostikov, reflect Russia's continuing concern that the turnover of the Kuril Islands to Japan in exchange for Japanese economic assistance would be a blow to Russian dignity. "We are willing to give something in return for such help but we don't see this help as the be all and end all," Kostikov is quoted by the 8 September Financial Times as saying. "The Japanese do not understand this. They talk to us like a chronically sick child. But we are not chronically sick. We are just ill with communism. When Russia gets better, it will surprise the world with its dynamism," Yeltsin's spokesman said. (Suzanne Crow, RFE/RL Inc.) AFGHANISTAN STILL A "MAIN INTEREST." Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev told a group of Russian diplomats recently evacuated from Kabul that "Afghanistan was and still is one of Russia's main global interests." At the same time, Kozyrev stressed that Russia is not forming a confrontational alliance with the United States in the region, and there are "no imperialist pretensions" attached to Russia's interests. Kozyrev added that Russia's embassy in Kabul will be reopened as soon as the safety of diplomats can be guaranteed, Interfax reported on 7 September. (Suzanne Crow, RFE/RL Inc.) AZERBAIJAN TO DISCUSS CIS MEMBERSHIP. The chairman of the Azerbaijani parliament, Isa Gambarov, told IMA-press on 5 September that the Azerbaijani parliament will debate whether Azerbaijan should join the CIS, and that the National Council will take a decision on this issue before the Bishkek summit on 25 September. Following the ouster of President Mutalibov in the spring of this year, the Azerbaijan Popular Front had argued that Azerbaijan was not a CIS member, because the parliament had not ratified Mutalibov's signature on the Alma-Ata agreement. Azerbaijani representatives have nonetheless regularly attended CIS summits; Azerbaijan and Moldova were given an ultimatum in July to come to a final decision on CIS membership prior to the Bishkek summit. (Liz Fuller/Ann Sheehy, RFE/RL Inc.) FOKIN DETERMINED TO STAY ON. Ukrainian Prime Minister Vitold Fokin told a press conference in Kiev that he has no intention of resigning under pressure from the opposition, "Novosti" reported on 5 September. He maintained that he would leave office only if he was convinced that his activities were harmful to the people or if he felt that he had lost the confidence of President Leonid Kravchuk. Fokin also announced a new plan for further economic reform. (Roman Solchanyk, RFE/RL Inc.). COSSACKS IN STAVROPOL KRAI TO BE ARMED? Evgenii Kuznetsov, head of the administration of Stavropol krai, told an extraordinary assembly of Cossacks of southern Russia that the Russian government had decided to arm the Stavropol Cossacks, Radio Rossii reported on 7 September. Each Cossack patrolling the streets and residential areas will now be permitted to have a helmet, a bullet-proof vest, a rubber truncheon, a "Cheremukha" tear gas aerosol, and a Makarov pistol. At the same assembly the Cossacks said they would not send Cossack units to Abkhazia. They demanded that movement around the North Caucasus of armed groups of extremists being formed in Chechnya be blocked. (Ann Sheehy, RFE/RL Inc.) SOCIOLOGICAL STUDY OF COSSACKS IN NORTH CAUCASUS. Part of a sociological study being conducted in all fourteen Cossack hosts in Russia has shown that on the Don there are one to one and a half million ethnic Cossacks, or 100 times more than experts had estimated, Radio Rossii reported on 5 September. Another unexpected result was that they are not against private property, although their official program stipulates communal land ownership. (Ann Sheehy, RFE/RL Inc.) COSSACKS ON THE DNIESTER DESCRIBED AS ANTI-SEMITIC AND "RED-BROWN." A correspondent for Nezavisimaya gazeta who recently visited the theater of hostilities in eastern Moldova reported in the daily's issue of 1 September that anti-Semitism and "red-brown" views are widespread among the Russian Cossack volunteers fighting for the "Dniester republic," and that they can often be heard commenting that Jews have seized power in Russia. Confirming the correspondent's assessment, Valerii Shukov, a member of the Main Staff of the Union of Cossack Hosts of Russia and chief editor of its press organ Stanitsa, who opposes anti-Semitism, told the correspondent that many Don and Kuban Cossacks--who provide most of the volunteers to the "Dniester" cause--are "infected by anti-Semitism" and that their leadership is "bolshevized" and "red-brown." Another Cossack dissident cited by Shukov described the present Cossack leaders as a combination of "reds" and "black hundreds." (Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL Inc.). ARMENIA PROTESTS TO TURKEY OVER VIOLATION OF ITS AIRSPACE. Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Georg Gazinyan told reporters in Erevan on 7 September that Armenia had sent a protest note to Turkey following an incident on 6 September, in which a Turkish military plane demanded permission to land at Erevan's main airport, saying that it was carrying international arms control delegates who were authorized to land there, Radio Erevan reported. The plane was refused permission to land as it had not obtained prior permission to overfly Armenian airspace, and finally returned to Turkey. Gazinyan told reporters he did not know which agency the arms control delegates in question represented. (Liz Fuller, RFE/RL Inc.) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UN CONSIDERING ADDITIONAL TROOPS. International media report on 7 September that UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali is reviewing proposals for an expanded peacekeeping force in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The plan calls for an additional 8,000 troops and support staff to escort food and medical aid convoys. According to Radio Bosnia-Herzegovina on 7 September, Sarajevo health officials say that the city only has about three days of food left and repeated warnings that residents face widespread disease and hunger within a few weeks. Relief aid flights are still grounded after the apparent downing of an Italian plane on 3 September. Nearly two-thirds of Sarajevo's supplies are brought in by airlift. Cyrus Vance and Lord Owen, cochairmen of the Yugoslav peace conference in Geneva, announced they are traveling to Zagreb, Sarajevo, and Belgrade this week in an effort to find ways of resuming humanitarian aid flights. (Milan Andrejevich, RFE/RL Inc.) KARADZIC PROMISES TO BEAT DEADLINE. Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic told Belgrade TV on 7 September that his forces "will beat" a 12 September deadline which places Serb heavy weapons surrounding Sarajevo, Gorazde, Bihac and Jajce under UN supervision. Karadzic charged that while the Serbs are complying with the agreements reached in London in late August, Croat and Muslim forces are using the opportunity to "massacre and expel" Serb communities. He was referring to Western, Serbian, and Slovenian media, which in the past two weeks have reported large columns of Bosnian Serbs fleeing from eastern Herzegovina and the town of Gorazde. Borba reports on 7 September that since April Muslim forces have cleared out all Serb villages in the Gorazde area and that in late August they killed more than 200 people from a column of mostly 1,700 Serb refugees. (Milan Andrejevich, RFE/RL Inc.) HUNGARY BREACHING UN YUGOSLAV EMBARGO? Romania says 12 gasoline tank trucks driven by Yugoslav citizens trying to transport fuel from Gyor, Hungary, reached the checkpoint at the Romanian-Hungarian frontier at Nadlac on 1 September. Rompres said in a dispatch on 7 September that according to the travel documents the transport destination was "Yugoslavia." The Romanian customs did not allow the tanks to transit Romania, considering the transport a clear case of breaching the embargo imposed on former Yugoslavia. Two days later another shipment was stopped, this time indicating "Skopje, Macedonia," as the destination. (Michael Shafir, RFE/RL Inc.) ETHNIC HUNGARIAN PARTIES CRITICIZE MECIAR. In a statement published by CSTK on 7 September, the Hungarian Christian Democratic Movement and Coexistence, two groups representing Slovakia's ethnic Hungarians in the Slovak parliament, accused the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia and its leader, Slovak Premier Vladimir Meciar, of ignoring the interests and demands of ethnic Hungarians and of refusing to recognize the legitimacy of Hungarian deputies in the Slovak parliament. The statement says the coalition of the two Hungarian parties represents more than 75% of all voters of Hungarian nationality in Slovakia. The statement accuses Meciar of being hostile toward ethnic Hungarians and, in particular, toward leading politicians and deputies representing ethnic Hungarians. The two parties also reject statements in the Slovak media alleging that deputies representing ethnic Hungarians are causing political tension in Slovakia. (Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL Inc.) MECIAR ON RELATIONS WITH HUNGARY. Speaking to Hungarian journalists in Bratislava about his 9 September visit to Hungary, Meciar said he is looking forward to his trip "not with optimism but realism," Radio Budapest reported on 7 September. For Slovakia, he said, the Gabcikovo project is a technical, not a political problem, and it is up to Hungary, which unilaterally renounced the relevant 1977 state treaty with Czechoslovakia, to make the next move. Meciar called "unrealistic" Hungary's desire to solve minority issues with its neighbors through bilateral treaties on the basis of collective minority rights. Bilateral treaties were not possible, he said, because "nationality issues are the internal affair of a given state," while collective rights are not granted anywhere in the world and autonomy could lead to separatism. Meciar also noted the existence--alongside Budapest's "rational and subdued policies" towards its neighbors--of "nationalist currents" in official Hungarian policy "aimed at the restoration of a Greater Hungary." (Alfred Reisch, RFE/RL Inc.) WALESA PROPOSES "REFORMIST CONFEDERATION." During a two-hour meeting with Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka and Solidarity Chairman Marian Krzaklewski on 7 September, President Lech Walesa proposed the creation of a "solidarity confederation of reformist forces." According to the president's spokesman, this confederation would include the labor unions, employers, and political parties that have opted for reform rather than a return to the old order. Walesa stressed the importance of a "master plan" for Poland. Suchocka noted that the government's "pact on state industry" is designed to achieve this end. The government presented this legislative package to the major unions on 7 September with a request for speedy consideration. (Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL Inc.) HAVEL IN POLAND. Former Czechoslovak president Vaclav Havel, on a private visit to Poland, told reporters on 7 September that he does not consider the imminent breakup of Czechoslovakia tragic or dramatic and hopes the process can remain quiet and friendly. Havel also said he had not decided whether he will run for president of an independent Czech Republic. In Warsaw Havel met with President Walesa. Havel told reporters the two discussed "regional issues." He is to meet with Premier Hanna Suchocka on 8 September. (Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL Inc.) FSM FACES BANKRUPTCY. On 7 September some 8,000 auto workers from 16 FSM plants responded to a call by the FSM management to "show their will to work" by appearing at the gates of the Tychy factory, where a sit-in strike has been underway for over a month. Strikers and nonstrikers engaged in a shouting match. FSM's director announced that 12,300 of the firm's 21,500 employees have signed a declaration indicating their desire to work and their contempt for the strikers' "illegal methods." He set the plant's daily losses at 12 billion zloty ($900,000) and warned that the stoppage threatens hundreds of thousands of other workers in the industry. The head of the FSM strike committee admitted to Polish TV that the strike's aims are political. (Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL Inc.) CZECH PREMIER ON RATIFICATION OF EC ACCORDS. In an interview with Mlada Fronta dnes, Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus dismissed the view of some EC members that Czechoslovakia should suspend the ratification of its association agreement with the European Community due to the planned division of the country. According to Klaus, "this is not what John Major and Helmut Kohl tell me in face-to-face talks." He acknowledged, however, that Czechoslovakia cannot expect the association agreement to be ratified in September as originally planned. "An unstable country on its way to division cannot become a member of any international community, including the EC," said Klaus. (Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL Inc.) EC AGREES TO BALTIC LOANS. On 7 September the Financial Times reported that the EC finance ministers at a weekend meeting in Bath, England, agreed in principle to provide $300 million in medium-term loans to the Baltic States to reduce their balance of payments deficit. The EC loan would represent half of a $600 million package of loans from the G-24. EC Finance Commissioner Henning Christophersen said that he expects a quick decision on the EC half of the loan within the next few weeks. (Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL Inc.) POLAND-IMF AGREEMENT IN OCTOBER? After consultations with IMF officials, Finance Minister Jerzy Osiatynski announced on 7 September that Poland could sign an agreement with the IMF in early October. Michel Deppler, the deputy director of the IMF's European department, praised the government's resolve and Poland's economic performance. The one major sticking point in the talks is the scale of the budget deficit. IMF officials predict that the 1992 deficit will reach 107 trillion zloty, while the Polish government sets it at 80 trillion. Both figures exceed the 5%-of-GDP target set in the 1992 budget law. Osiatynski noted, however, that the gap between IMF and government figures is narrowing and that the IMF will assist in the planning of the 1993 budget. (Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL Inc.) HUNGARIAN-BELGIAN JOINT STATEMENT. Hungarian Foreign Minister Geza Jeszenszky and his Belgian counterpart, Willy Claes, signed a joint statement on bilateral cooperation in Budapest on 7 September, MTI reports. Claes expressed Belgian support for Hungary's cooperation with the EC, NATO, and the West European Union as well as for a political dialogue between the Benelux Union and the Visegrad Triangle (Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland.) (Judith Pataki, RFE/RL Inc.) BISHOP TOKES'S PROTEST FAST. On 7 September Bishop Laszlo Tokes withdrew his acceptance of an invitation from President Ion Iliescu for talks on his demands and is continuing his protest started on 2 September, Radio Bucharest reports. Tokes said he his decision was prompted by Iliescu's statement in which he called the fast a "political diversion." The bishop said he was still considering an appeal by the Democratic Convention to end the fast, however. Meanwhile, prominent religious leaders in Timisoara, including Nicolae Corneanu, head of the Orthodox Church in the Banat, and Rabbi Ernst Neumann, leader of the Timisoara Jewish community, expressed support for Tokes. (Michael Shafir, RFE/RL Inc.) STOLOJAN: "SABOTEURS" TRY TO INFLUENCE ELECTIONS. Prime Minister Theodor Stolojan said the distribution of bread and other food is being disrupted by saboteurs trying to undermine proreform candidates in the September elections, Western agencies report. This phrasing is a euphemism for former communists in the bureaucracy, and possibly also for the Democratic Front of National Salvation, on whose ticket Iliescu is running. Stolojan said he is considering the militarization of distribution networks to ensure deliveries. (Michael Shafir, RFE/RL Inc.) LITHUANIA, RUSSIA TO SWAP HOUSING FOR SHIPS. On 6 September at a meeting in Kaliningrad Baltic Fleet commander Vice Admiral Vladimir Egorov and Lithuanian Deputy Foreign Minister Valdemaras Katkus agreed that Russia will hand over two torpedo boats and two small antisubmarine vessels if Lithuania builds housing in Kaliningrad for 10,000 military officers withdrawing from the republic, Radio Lithuania reports on 8 September. Russia also agreed to train crews and prepare workshops and armaments for the ships. (Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL Inc.) GORBUNOVS INSISTS ON COMPLETE TROOP PULLOUT. On 7 September Estonian Supreme Council Chairman Arnold Ruutel consulted via telephone with his Latvian counterpart, Anatolijs Gorbunovs, about recent press reports that Gorbunovs might be ready to discuss the possibility of Russia maintaining some bases in Latvia after the main contingent of troops leaves. Gorbunovs denied such allegations and said that he advocated a speedy and complete withdrawal of Russian troops from Latvia. Ruutel and Gorbunovs also discussed Latvia's debt to Estonia regarding the supply of electricity, BNS reported on 7 September. (Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL Inc.) RUSSIA, ESTONIA SIGN TRADE AGREEMENT. Estonian Prime Minister Tiit Vahi and Acting Russian Prime Minister Egor Gaidar signed a free trade agreement on 7 September in Moscow, BNS reports. Among other things, the agreement provides for establishing trade representations in Tallinn and Moscow, cooperation in customs procedures, and guaranteed energy supplies. The two sides also discussed troop withdrawals and other bilateral issues. According to an RFE/RL Estonian Service interview with Vahi's press secretary, Neeme Brus, Russia raised concerns over the treatment of non-Estonians, but did not link human rights questions to a troop pullout. The Russian side asked instead whether Estonia might compromise on keeping in Estonia somewhat longer some units that it would be too expensive to withdraw this year; Vahi reportedly said Estonia would consider a compromise. Brus added that Monday's talks were carried out in a spirit of greater mutual understanding than any previous discussions. (Riina Kionka, RFE/RL Inc.) BULGARIA, MOLDOVA SIGN FRIENDSHIP PACT. Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev and Moldovan President Mircea Snegur signed a friendship treaty in Sofia on 7 September. Valid for 10 years and renewable, it guarantees the rights of the 89,000 ethnic Bulgarians residing in Moldova. In addition, it calls for the revival of commercial opportunities (disrupted by the war in Moldova), as well as closer cooperation in political, economic, and cultural spheres. It also articulates cooperation in transport, energy, health, technology, and environmental areas among others, BTA reports. (Duncan M. Perry, RFE/RL Inc.) BULGARIA ADMITS ARMS SHIPMENTS TO IRAQ. At a press conference on 7 September, an official of the government commission on arms trade said a state company had illegally exported light artillery guns worth $15 million to Iraq, BTA and Reuters report. According to the official, Georgi Bozduganov, Kintex managed to circumvent arms export legislation by employing Polish firms as intermediaries and using forged documents listing the Philippines as end receiver. In May Defense Minister Dimitar Ludzhev stepped down after allegations that as chairman of the government commission on arms trade he had allowed illegal arms deals. (Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL Inc.) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba & Charles Trumbull
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