|There is no love sincerer than the love of food. - George Bernard Shaw|
No. 175, 11 September 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR RUSSIAN LEADERS BLAME JAPAN FOR POSTPONEMENT OF TRIP. Vyacheslav Kostikov, the Russian presidential press secretary, has blamed the Japanese government for the postponement of President Boris Yeltsin's trip to Japan. He told Izvestiya on 11 September that the ruling Liberal-Democratic Party wanted to exploit the issue of the Kuril islands for its electoral campaign. The first deputy parliamentary speaker, Sergei Filatov, told Ostankino TV on 10 September that the "hysterical" approach to the Kuril islands in Japan prevents the constructive resolution of the issue by the two nations' respective leaders. Yeltsin's press department denied reports that the Russian President also plans to postpone his forthcoming trip to China. (Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL Inc.) REACTION TO POSTPONEMENT OF YELTSIN'S TRIP TO JAPAN. Viktor Alksnis and Vladimir Zhirinovsky, two leading Russian nationalists, celebrated President Boris Yeltsin's decision to postpone his trip to Japan as a victory for patriotic forces, Interfax reported on 11 September. Liberals, such as Russian Minister of Foreign Economic Relations Petr Aven, warned that the postponement could effect negotiations on Russia's foreign debt, since Japan maintained the strictest position in Russia's negotiations with major creditors. Japanese Foreign Minister Michio Watanabe told the Japanese news agency Kyodo on 11 September that Yeltsin had indicated that he plans to visit Tokyo in the beginning of 1993. (Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL Inc.) KARABAKH TALKS COLLAPSE. The fifth round of CSCE-sponsored Karabakh preparatory peace talks ended in Rome on 10 September; disagreements over procedural issues, such as the designation of the Armenian delegation from the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, precluded substantive discussion of Chairman Mario Raffaelli's cease-fire proposal, Western agencies reported. No date was set for resuming the talks. On 10 September, Turkey's Anatolia News Agency quoted Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Tofik Gasymov as arguing that all Armenian troops should be withdrawn from Karabakh prior to the convening of a fully-fledged peace conference in Minsk. (Armenia disclaims responsibility for the Armenian units fighting in Karabakh.) Speaking in Istanbul, Armenian Foreign Minister Raffi Hovannissian accused Turkey of abandoning its neutral position and extending military aid to Azerbaijan, Western agencies reported. (Liz Fuller, RFE/RL Inc.) TALKS ON IMPLEMENTATION OF ABKHAZ CEASE-FIRE HITS OBSTACLE. The tripartite Russian/Georgian/Abkhaz talks in Sukhumi on implementation of the Abkhaz cease-fire agreement were reported deadlocked on 10 September over the status of the Abkhaz National Guard, Interfax reported. Abkhaz delegate Colonel Viktor Kakalia rejected a demand by Georgian Prime Minister Tengiz Sigua that there should be no independently controlled armies on Georgian territory. The Abkhaz National Guard is composed exclusively of ethnic Abkhazians and is directly subordinate to the presidium of the Abkhaz Supreme Soviet. (Liz Fuller, RFE/RL Inc.) NO ISLAMIC STATE IN TAJIKISTAN. Akbarsho Iskandarov, chairman of Tajikistan's Supreme Soviet and the closest thing the country has to a leader, told correspondents at celebrations marking the first anniversary of Tajikistan's independence that the removal of President Rakhmon Nabiev will not lead to the creation of an Islamic state. Iskandarov's statement was reported by various domestic and Western agencies on 9 September, and broadcast on the Turkish "Avrasya" TV channel for Central Asia. Correspondents in Dushanbe reported that large crowds turned out in Dushanbe for the Independence Day celebrations. However, fighting was reported to be continuing on 10 September in Kurgan-Tyube between local supporters of the anti-Communist opposition and an armed band from neighboring Kulyab Oblast. (Bess Brown, RFE/RL Inc.) CIS TROOPS TAKE UP POSITIONS ON TAJIK-AFGHAN BORDER. AFP reported on 10 September that approximately 1,000 border troops from Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan had taken up positions on the Tajik-Afghan border to strengthen CIS units trying to stop the smuggling of weapons from Afghanistan to Tajikistan. The presidents of the four states announced on 4 September that the additional border troops were being sent because the situation on the border posed a threat to the rest of the CIS. Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov is so upset over developments in Tajikistan that he is looking to Russia as a protector, he told an interviewer from the French daily Liberation on 8 September. (Bess Brown, RFE/RL Inc.) RUSSIAN OIL PRICES TO DOUBLE. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin told a news conference after a cabinet meeting on 10 September that the wholesale prices of energy carriers will be raised next week, ITAR-TASS, Interfax, and the Financial Times reported. The price of oil will roughly double, from 1,800-2,200 rubles a ton to 4,000-5,000 rubles a ton. This may be seen largely as a technical correction for inflation: prices throughout the economy have more than doubled since the last price increase for oil. At the current rate of exchange, the new price will represent some 14-18% of the world price. A 50% tax will be levied on income derived from sales at prices higher than the guidelines. (Keith Bush, RFE/RL Inc.) RUSSIAN INDUSTRY HEAD CRITICIZES PRIVATIZATION PLANS. Minister of Industry Aleksandr Titkin has sent a letter to President Yeltsin condemning current plans for industrial privatization, Interfax reported on 9 and 10 September. Titkin claims that the plans are exacerbating chaos in industry and accuses the State Property Commission of engaging in a "self-serving process" inconsistent with national interests. He also outlined his own variant of privatization that envisages an initial stage of industrial restructuring managed by the ministry itself. (Erik Whitlock, RFE/RL Inc.) AVEN AND SHOKHIN ON DEBT RELIEF. Minister for Economic Foreign Relations Petr Aven and Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Shokhin are asking Western creditors to approve a medium-term debt rescheduling plan, Western news agencies reported on 10 September. Aven suggested in Moscow that only such a longer-term arrangement would provide Russia a realistic chance to make timely payments on its share of the more than $70 billion debt of the former Soviet Union. Shokhin made similar comments in Brussels, where he was meeting with EC parliamentarians and concluding a $150-million-ecu emergency credit for medicine and medical equipment imports. (Erik Whitlock, RFE/RL Inc.) RUSSIA TO BE SELF-SUFFICIENT IN GRAIN? Russian Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi told a news conference in Moscow on 10 September that Russia will need to import only 12-15 million tons of grain this winter, Interfax reported. The introduction of modern technology and improved seed should obviate the requirement for grain imports in 1993, in Rutskoi's opinion. Other estimates have put the total grain imports required for calendar year 1992 at around 25 million tons. Rutskoi may later regret having made this prediction, although it is true that a smaller amount of feed grain will be needed as livestock herds have been drastically culled. (Keith Bush, RFE/RL Inc.) CHERNOBYL TO REOPEN FOR A YEAR? The chairman of Ukraine's nuclear power utility, Vladimir Fuks, told The Guardian of 10 September that two of the reactors at Chernobyl will reopen in October. However, Fuks insisted that the plant will be closed down for good at the end of 1993. Subject to parliamentary approval, three pressurized water reactors will be commissioned elsewhere in Ukraine to replace the Chernobyl output. Official pronouncements on the final closure of the Chernobyl reactors have been contradictory. (Keith Bush, RFE/RL Inc.) RUSSIAN SPACECRAFT FOR SALE. A German-Russian joint venture company in Munich, Energiya Deutschland, is offering the Soyuz-TM 13 spacecraft for sale to the highest bidder. According to Western press reports on 10 September, the proposed price is ten million marks (approximately $7 million), but the company will accept the highest offer. The Soyuz-TM 13 made only one trip into space. It was launched from the Tyuratam launch site on 2 October 199, and carried a Russian, a Kazakh, and an Austrian cosmonaut up to the Mir space station. The spacecraft returned to Earth on 25 March 1992 with two Russians and a German cosmonaut on board. Munich's Deutsche Museum has expressed interest in buying the spacecraft, but said it would need to raise the purchase price from sponsors. (Doug Clarke, RFE/RL Inc.) UKRAINE STILL UNDECIDED ABOUT CIS INTERPARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY. Ukraine has yet to make a decision whether or not it will take part in the first plenary session of the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly, Ukrainian TV reported on 8 September. The Presidium of the Ukrainian parliament may discuss the question in the next few days. The session is scheduled to take place in Bishkek on 16-18 September. According to the report, Ukrainian lawmakers have been cool to the idea. (Roman Solchanyk, RFE/RL Inc.) FIRST JEWISH GYMNASIUM IN KIEV. The first Jewish gymnasium (secondary school) in Ukraine opened in Kiev this school year, Nezavisimost reported on 5 September. The gymnasium, which was formerly school No. 299, has 520 students who will be studying humanitarian subjects, including the history, culture, religion, and languages of the Jewish people. (Roman Solchanyk, RFE/RL Inc.) REPORTS OF ATTEMPT TO ASSASSINATE AZERBAIJAN'S PRESIDENT DENIED. Azerbaijani presidential press secretary Niazi Ibragimov was quoted by the Turan News Agency on 10 September as denying reports made in unspecified mass media that an attempt had been made on the life of Azerbaijan's President Abulfaz Elchibey by unknown persons on the night of 9 September. An assassination attempt on Elchibey two weeks ago failed. In a further indication of domestic instability, former Azerbaijan Deputy Prime Minister and Ambassador-designate to Italy Rufat Agaev was arrested in Baku for allegedly organizing hooliganistic actions in front of the Azerbaijan parliament building during the visit to Baku last weekend of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, TASS reported. Agaev is also said to be implicated in illegal currency transactions. (Liz Fuller, RFE/RL Inc.) REGIONALISM INCREASING IN TAJIKISTAN. Attempts to restore stability in Tajikistan are likely to be frustrated by regional loyalties, the Dushanbe correspondent of Moskovskiye novosti notes in issue no. 36. The political organizations that have been formed in Tajikistan during the summer all have a regional, rather than an all-Tajikistan, base, and have been formed to protect purely local interests. This phenomenon has been reported by other observers in Tajikistan as well. It remains unclear whether Nabiev has sought refuge in his home region, Leninabad Oblast, but should he do so he might well use regional loyalties to try to regain power. (Bess Brown, RFE/RL Inc.) MOLDOVAN PRIME MINISTER VISITS SIBERIA. Moldovan Prime Minister Andrei Sangheli, accompanied by several ministers and other economic officials, began a tour of Siberia and the Russian Far East, Moldovapres and Interfax reported on 9 September. The delegation seeks medium-term contracts for fuel and raw material deliveries in exchange for Moldovan foodstuffs. They also signed an agreement along these lines for 1993 with Tyumen oil producers. In addition, the Modovan delegation is concerned about the status of the thousands of Moldovans working on Siberian oil and gas projects; they are proposing that the labor of these workers be counted toward Moldova's payment for the resources. (Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL Inc.) "DNIESTER REPUBLIC" ESTABLISHES MINISTRIES. The current session of the "Dniester Republic Supreme Soviet" is discussing the establishment of a full-fledged government with ministries, DR-Press reported in recent days from Tiraspol. Ministries of defense and national security have already been established, Aleksandr Nevzorov's TV program "600 Seconds" reported on 9 September. Echoing a theme often heard from Russian ultranationalist supporters of the "Dniester republic," Nevzorov hailed the progress of "this first republic free of democrats." (Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL Inc.) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE ANOTHER BOSNIAN CEASE-FIRE; MORE UN TROOPS. International media report on 10 September that UN envoy Cyrus Vance and EC envoy Lord Owen met separately with the leaders of the Muslim and Serbian warring sides in Bosnia-Herzegovina. A new cease-fire agreement was hammered out, and both sides agreed to meet in Geneva on 18 September. Vance said the most important outcome of the talks is that Alija Izetbegovic, Bosnia's President, agreed to attend the conference. Izetbegovic had previously rejected all efforts at getting the Muslims to sit in the same conference room with the Serbs. On 9 September Bosnian Croat leader Mate Boban agreed to participate. Vance said Boban, Izetbegovic, and Serb leader Radovan Karadzic would all be meeting in Geneva for the first time. Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali has formally requested an additional 6,000 peacekeepers for Bosnia and proposed expanding UN relief efforts to an additional 11 regions in the republic. (Milan Andrejevich, RFE/RL Inc.) IRAN DENIES ARMS DELIVERY. At a news conference in Beijing, Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani stated that Iran will consider sending arms to Bosnia's Muslim-lead government if diplomatic efforts fail to end the war. The Los Angeles Times reports on 11 September that Rafsanjani also dismissed as "lies" and "fabrications" US newspaper reports that Croatia had impounded a planeload of Iranian arms headed for Bosnia. However, on 10 September, Radio Croatia reported that Croatia's government officially confirmed that the Iranian arms were confiscated at Zagreb airport on 4 September. (Milan Andrejevich, RFE/RL Inc.) TURKEY URGES ACTION. Turkish media report that Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel, speaking at a meeting of Council of Europe representatives in Istanbul, urged member states to convene a summit to discuss means of ending the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Turkey, which has historic ties to Bosnia dating back centuries, fears that the conflict could touch of a Balkan-wide war. Turkey is especially concerned about the fate of Muslims in Bosnia and has offered 1,000 peacekeeping troops to assist the UN force there. (Duncan Perry, RFE/RL Inc.) IS LIBYA SUPPORTING "REUNIFICATION?" Belgrade media are widely speculating about an alleged proposal by Libya's leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi's support for the reunification of the former Yugoslav republics of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia with the rump Yugoslavia, made up of Serbia and Montenegro. Panic reportedly described Qadhafi's idea as "very good" and indicative of the Libyan leader's support of Panic's efforts toward establishing a Balkan economic association. Radio Serbia carried the report on 9 September. (Milan Andrejevich, RFE/RL Inc.) MUSLIM MERCENARIES? Reuters reports on 10 September that Ashark al-Aswat, a London-based Arabic-language daily, carries an interview with one Abu Abdel-Aziz, identified as the leader of foreign Muslim warriors who have gone to Bosnia to defend their faith. Abdel-Aziz (a nom de guerre) would not give his nationality and provided no estimate of the size of the foreign Muslim forces. The story was datelined "Mujahideen Headquarters in Central Bosnia." Rumors of mercenaries and other irregular fighters in Bosnia have circulated before. (Charles Trumbull, RFE/RL Inc.) JOVANOVIC RESIGNS; BLASTS PANIC. Vladislav Jovanovic, minister of foreign affairs of the rump Yugoslavia, submitted his "irrevocable resignation" on 10 September. In a letter sent to Prime Minister Milan Panic, Jovanovic said Panic's approach to resolving the crisis in the former Yugoslavia profoundly clash with Jovanovic's "notion of national duty and dignity," adding that "I find it impossible to continue to remain in a government that is increasingly and openly pursuing a policy opposed to the interests of Serbia and the Serb nation." Panic accepted the resignation saying that he "greatly respects" Jovanovic as a person, but also made it clear that there are differences between the two "in approach and style of conducting foreign policy." Ilija Djukic, Belgrade's ambassador to the People's Republic of China has been tagged as Jovanovic's successor. Radio Serbia carried the report. (Milan Andrejevich, RFE/RL Inc.) SCREENING CONTINUES IN CZECHOSLOVAKIA. CSTK reports that the Czechoslovak Ministry of Internal Affairs has received more than 214,000 applications for screening government employees and other people for their ties with the former secret police since 1 November 1991, when the screening (lustration) law went into effect. The law stipulates that all government employees be screened for police ties under the communist regime and that those found guilty of collaboration be dismissed from their jobs. Moreover, the law provides that any Czechoslovak citizen may themselves apply to the ministry to be screened. The ministry has been able to process some 146,000 cases so far; 10,244 people have been identified as secret police collaborators. A ministry official said that in light of the planned division of Czechoslovakia, the future of the screening process is unclear. He suggested that one of the republican ministries of internal affairs could taker over. (Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL Inc.) GABCIKOVO TO BEGIN OPERATING IN NOVEMBER. Ivan Carnogursky, the general director of the company that is building the Gabcikovo hydroelectric plant on the Danube, told CSTK on 10 September that the facility will partly be put into operation at the beginning of November. Construction will be fully completed by the end of 1992. Carnogursky rejected claims made by Hungary that the so-called "C" variant of the project, adopted by Czechoslovakia after Hungary withdrew from the project, would change the Slovak-Hungarian border. The variant requires diverting the Danube. Carnogursky also said that he approves the setting up of a joint parliamentary review committee with Hungary to deal with disagreements over the project. (Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL Inc.) POLAND'S "LITTLE CONSTITUTION" SURVIVES SENATE VOTE. Disregarding the recommendation of its constitutional commission, the Senate voted on 10 September not to reject the "little constitution" adopted by the Sejm on 1 August. The "little constitution" was designed as a provisional measure to delineate the respective powers of the president, government, and parliament. The motion to reject the bill in its entirety failed by a wide margin: 18 to 63, with 3 abstentions. The constitutional commission had argued that the "little constitution" unduly curtailed the powers of both the president and the Senate and complicated the formation of the government. The Senate is to vote on over fifty proposed revisions to the bill on 11 September. (Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL Inc.) SUCHOCKA: FSM STRIKE "IRRATIONAL." Polish Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka issued the government's sharpest warning yet to the strikers at the FSM auto plant. In a written response to a plea for action from one of the Solidarity regions most at risk if FSM were to close, Suchocka called the strike "completely irrational" because it was making a bankrupt of a firm with guaranteed growth prospects. The government will not permit a minority to thwart a majority with economic rationality on its side, she said. The "state of unlawfulness" in Tychy could drive the government to take "harsh measures" to restore the legal order. PAP carried the text of Suchocka's letter. Meanwhile, a two-hour warning strike called for 10 September by the Network (Solidarity locals at large industrial plants) drew only a scattered response. (Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL Inc.) ROMANIAN HIGH COURT RULES ON ILIESCU'S SENATE CANDIDACY. On 10 September the Supreme Court of Justice rejected an action by attorney Nicolae Cerveni against the Democratic National Salvation Front (DNSF), the party backing Ion Iliescu's candidacy for a seat in the Senate. Cerveni contends that the DNSF's decision to field Iliescu violates the electoral law, which provides that parliament candidates be members of the party they run for. Iliescu, who is also the DNSF's presidential candidate, has no official party affiliation. Meanwhile, Radio Bucharest reports that Iliescu continues his electoral campaign in the provinces. On 10 September he visited the town of Calarasi. (Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL Inc.) ROMANIA ACCUSES DIPLOMATS OF MEDDLING. On 9 September Traian Chebeleu, a spokesman for the Romanian Foreign Ministry, suggested that diplomats in Bucharest are meddling in the electoral campaign. Rompres quoted Chebeleu as saying that his ministry has received several complaints about alleged attempts by foreign diplomats to influence the electorate. Chebeleu, who refused to say which embassies were involved in these actions, insisted that Romania welcomes foreign election observers, including members of the diplomatic corps, on the condition that they observe neutrality. (Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL Inc.) SOLE MAGYAR OFFICIAL IN ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT DISMISSED. Radio Budapest reported on 9 September that Andor Horvath, state secretary for education and the only Romanian cabinet official of Hungarian nationality, has been dismissed from his post. No reason was given for the move. The educational sector is considered crucial by Romania's two million ethnic Hungarians who are fighting for more schools with instruction in Hungarian. (Judith Pataki, RFE/RL Inc.) BULGARIAN SOCIALIST PARTY TO BE EXCLUDED FROM SOCIALIST INTERNATIONAL. The Bulgarian Socialist Party, successor of the Bulgarian Communist Party, reportedly will not be invited to join the Socialist International, a forum for socialist and social-democratic parties around the world. In an interview on 10 September Hans-Eberhard Dingels, chief of the international relations section of the German Social Democratic Party, informed an RFE/RL correspondent that the BSP does not meet the admission criteria. Moreover, one Bulgarian party is already affiliated with the Socialist Internationalthe Social Democratic Party. (Duncan Perry, RFE/RL Inc.) UDF CRITICIZED FROM WITHIN. On 10 September the chairman of Bulgaria's Alternative Social Liberal Party (ASLP) and Deputy Premier Nikolay Vasilev said it is time for the ruling UDF coalition to "think carefully," BTA reports. The admonishment comes after a wave of criticism of top UDF leadership and its ten-month-old minority cabinet that was triggered by the remarks of President Zhelyu Zhelev, a founder of the UDF. Vasilev, speaking after an ASLP national conference, acknowledged that mistakes had been made and characterized the present confrontation with trade unions as "political suicide." ASLP economist Asen Michkovski also took the opportunity to explain his objections to the policies of Finance Minister Ivan Kostov. (Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL Inc.) ABISALA'S SPEECH IN PARLIAMENT. On 10 September Lithuania's parliament began its sixth and final session; the new Seimas will be elected on 25 October, Radio Lithuania reports. Prime Minister Aleksandras Abisala gave an hour and a half long speech, broadcast live, on the socioeconomic situation in the republic and the government program that had been outlined in a memorandum to the IMF. Because of inflation since December 1989 prices have increased 21 times, wages 19 times, and the minimum living standard 13 times, he said. Although government revenue has increased, the budget deficit will be greater than the planned 1.4 billion rubles. The drought had created huge agricultural losses especially in grain feeds. Lithuania exported goods for 38.5 billion rubles and imported for 30 billion in the first half of the year. He said that there are now about 9,000 unemployed people in Lithuania, but it is estimated that their number will rise to between 40,000 and 200,000 by the end of the year. (Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL Inc.) BALTIC PRIME MINISTERS IN TALLINN. Estonia's Tiit Vahi, Latvia's Ivars Godmanis and Lithuania's Aleksandras Abisala will meet on 11 September in Tallinn to sign a number of interstate agreements on trade, joint customs and visa regulations, and mutual accounting, BNS reports. Meanwhile, Estonian Foreign Ministry counselor Ago Tiiman said "Estonia not satisfied with the current [state] of Baltic cooperation," adding that today's meeting of prime ministers should help address the problem. Further, the Baltic Council has scheduled its next meeting for 16 September in Tallinn, BNS reports. (Riina Kionka, RFE/RL Inc.) THWARTED EXPECTATIONS IN RUSSIAN-ESTONIAN TALKS Estonia's expectations were not fully met during the latest round of general disengagement talks with Russia, BNS reports. Estonian Foreign Ministry counselor Ago Tiiman told BNS that during the two-day round, the sides initialed only two of four humanitarian-legal agreements and only one of two economic pacts. Tiiman noted, however, that Estonia is pleased that "we have reached the stage of serious negotiations rather than the mere introduction of each other's positions." Tiiman said the other two working groupsthose considering military and border questionsmade progress. (Riina Kionka, RFE/RL Inc.) TALKS ON LATVIAN TAKEOVER OF MILITARY FACILITIES CONTINUE. Supreme Council deputy Juris Dobelis told Diena of 9 September about some of the oral agreements achieved that day with Lt. Gen. Petr Ledyaev, deputy commander of Russia's Northwestern Group of Forces, and Maj. Gen. Nikolai Tailakov, who is in charge of NWGF troop withdrawal. Dobelis said that the two military leaders had agreed that the Latvian side would be informed two weeks in advance of military objects that the NWGF intends to vacate and would be allowed to examine them. In the future regular meetings between the Latvian and NWGF representatives are planned to resolve issues of mutual interest. (Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL Inc.) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba & Charles Trumbull
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