|The only thing one knows about human nature is that it changes. - Oscar Wilde|
No. 176, 14 September 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR YELTSIN CRITICIZES LOCAL OFFICIALS . . . On 11 September, addressing an all-Russian conference of administrators of the Russian Federation in Cherboksary, President Yeltsin accused local officials of "weakening Russia's nascent statehood" by ignoring his decrees and government resolutions, of violating Russian laws and of corruption. The Russian media quoted Yeltsin as saying that "the people will never forgive us if the hardships they are going through turn out to be in vain, if reforms fail to bring about positive results only because of disputes between the two branches [representative and executive] of power, especially at the local level." The president accused regional legislatures and city councils of interfering in the everyday affairs of executive organs and criticized mayors and chief administrators for assuming lawmaking powers. (Vera Tolz) . . . REVERSES HIMSELF ON CONGRESS. In the same speech, Yeltsin retreated from his previous demands to abolish the reform-resistant Congress of People's Deputies. The president said that since the "most difficult stage of reform is over, it is important to end all talk about the uselessness of deputies' work." He stated that the deputies should serve their term "established by law" and added that "the Supreme Soviet is capable of passing laws which are needed for Russians and Russia." Only two weeks ago, Yeltsin had called for the creation of a constitutional assembly in order to adopt a new constitution and abolish the Congress. (Alexander Rahr) . . . GRANTS CONCESSIONS TO LOCAL LEADERS. Yeltsin gave in to pressure from regional officials and decided to hand his right to appoint heads of local administrations to the local authorities, according to the Interfax report on Yeltsin's 11 September speech. As a result, Yeltsin has lost his major control mechanism over the Russian periphery to local leaders, most of which are former Communist Party leaders. Acting Prime Minister Egor Gaidar also indicated that the government lost its capability to conduct reform from the center and has to share power with local leaders. The Russian government promised to give local leaders access to its communication system and introduce a post of deputy prime minister in charge of regional affairs. (Alexander Rahr) RUSSIAN CONSTITUTION TO BE ADOPTED ONLY IN 1993. Oleg Rumyantsev, Secretary of the Constitutional Drafting Commission said that the draft of the new Constitution will be presented to the parliament in the autumn of 1992 and reviewed by the Congress of People's Deputies in March of 1993. He told ITAR-TASS on 12 September that the draft had also been studied by the European Commission for the Development of Democracy through Law. According to Rumyantsev, the parliament accepted 25 suggestions of the European Commission for altering the draft. (Alexander Rahr) CONSTITUTIONAL COURT HEARINGS ON CPSU TO RESUME. The Constitutional Court hearings on the status of the communist party in the Russian Federation are scheduled to resume on Tuesday, 15 September. A spokesman for the Constitutional Court made the announcement on 11 September, according to ITAR-TASS. The court had adjourned on 3 August after three weeks of hearings. The recess was called to allow the judges to review the evidence and testimony presented and to consider whether additional witnesses should be called. The court is considering the constitutionality of President Yeltsin's ban of the communist party and whether or not the communist party was itself constitutional. (Carla Thorson) THE DECISION ON JAPAN. State Secretary Gennadii Burbulis said, during an interview on Russian TV broadcast on 13 September, that the decision to postpone Yeltsin's trip to Japan came after "discussions were held within the government, the Supreme Soviet, and finally in the Security Council... It was in line with the collective views of these three bodies that the president made his final decision to postpone the trip." It is noteworthy that Burbulis did not mention any role played by the Russian Foreign Ministry in making the decision. Nonetheless, Burbulis explicitly rejected the idea that conservatives had pressured Yeltsin into canceling the trip. For his part, Yeltsin defended the trip's postponement. Speaking to reporters upon arrival in Cheboksary on 11 September, Yeltsin said that Japan had been "too categorical" on the issue of returning the islands to Japan. "We cannot deal like that," the Russian president said. (Suzanne Crow) AMBARTSUMOV, LUKIN DEFLECT CRITICISM ON JAPAN TRIP. Evgenii Ambartsumov, Chairman of the Supreme Soviet Committee on International Affairs and Foreign Economic Ties, said that Japan had taken too hard a position on the question of the Kuril Islands, and this put Yeltsin in a difficult position. Speaking on the Russian TV program "Krasnyi Kvadrat," Ambartsumov said that the question of guaranteeing Yeltsin's security was not the only consideration in calling off the visit, adding that in Russia, a negative feeling had developed about sending Yeltsin to Japan. Speaking on the same program, Russia's ambassador to the United States, Vladimir Lukin, said that the postponement of the trip could not be viewed as a great tragedy. Lukin also blamed Japan, saying that Tokyo's attempt to pressure Russia for the return of the islands brought the opposite result and stiffened Russian opinion against the move, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 September. (Suzanne Crow) HIGHER RUSSIAN STATE BUDGET DEFICIT. The Russian government is now allowing for a deficit "not exceeding" 950 billion rubles in 1992, Interfax reported on 13 September. The original budget deficit was projected at 300 billion rubles, but parliament insisted on additional expenditures for industrial subsidies and social programs. The new limit represents about 7% of GNP at current prices, and is far above the Gaidar administration's original aims and the IMF guidelines. It looks like an understatement, though because on 24 August the Russian finance minister admitted that the deficit had already risen to almost 1 trillion rubles and was heading towards a year-end total of 2 trillion rubles "which is tantamount to hyperinflation." (Keith Bush) VOLSKY, YASIN WARN GOVERNMENT. Arkadii Volsky, leader of the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, is turning up the political heat on the government. Speaking at a news conference in Moscow, Volsky announced that he would call a conference of industrial managers by November to pressure the government if it does not alter its economic policy to his liking, the Financial Times reported on 12 September. Evgenii Yasin, chief economist at the institute of Volsky's group, but also an advisor to the government, had warnings of his own during the news conference. Yasin said that hyperinflation was "closer than ever" as a result of disarray in the state's financial and credit policy. He claimed that new credit emission in September will be ten times greater than in March. (Erik Whitlock). UKRAINE DEMANDS REMOVAL OF KASATONOV. The Ukrainian parliamentary Commission on Defense and Security and the Ukrainian Defense Ministry demanded on 11 September that the current commander of the Black Sea Fleet, Admiral Igor Kasatonov, be relieved immediately of his duties, Interfax reported. A statement released by the two agencies reportedly criticized both Kasatonov and the Russian Defense Ministry for resisting efforts by Ukraine to take control of two naval academies in Sevastopol. Moscow apparently wants to subordinate the schools to the CIS command and to keep them under Russian jurisdiction. (Stephen Foye) GENERALS DISMISSED FOR CORRUPTION IN BELARUS. Interfax reported on 11 September that the Belarus military prosecutor could bring charges against several top generals, including the commanders of the 5th and the 7th tank armies--identified as generals Rumyantsev and Ivanitsky--for, among other things, illegally trading military property. The prosecutor denied that Defense Minister Pavel Kozlovsky was involved in illegal activities. He also said that crime within the armed forces had more than doubled this year, attributing the rise at least in part to the disbanding of the army's military-political organs. (Stephen Foye) FIGHTING CONTINUES IN AND AROUND NAGORNO-KARABAKH. Following the total deadlock of the CSCE-sponsored preparatory Karabakh peace talks in Rome on 10 September, Azerbaijan has accused Armenia of violating the agreement on a cease-fire on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. Armenian parliament deputy Samvel Shakhmuradyan was killed during an Azerbaijani artillery attack in Mardakert on 11 September, ITAR-TASS reported; dozens of Azerbaijanis and some Armenians were reported killed in heavy fighting on 12-13 September in the Armenian-controlled Lachin corridor that links Nagorno- Karabakh with Armenia, according to the press center of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, as cited by ITAR-TASS. (Liz Fuller) DESPITE ABKHAZ CEASE-FIRE, FIGHTING UNABATED. Clashes between Abkhaz and Georgian troops in which a total of 3 Georgians were killed and over a dozen wounded were reported on 12 and 13 September despite the completion of the formal disengagement of the two sides on 12 September under the terms of the latest cease-fire agreement, Georgian and Russian sources reported. Following an appeal by the Abkhaz parliament to Russian President Yeltsin to forestall what it terms the intention of the Georgian State Council to dissolve the parliament, Georgian and Abkhaz parliament deputies held a five hour meeting on 13 September in Sukhumi and signed an agreement pledging adherence to the 3 September cease-fire agreement, ITAR-TASS reported. (Liz Fuller) WESTERN GEORGIA STILL POLITICALLY UNSTABLE. Six representatives of the Georgian National Democratic Party were kidnapped by supporters of ousted Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia in the West Georgian town of Zugdidi during the evening of 10 September, ITAR-TASS reported. In an interview published in Le Quotidien de Paris on 11 September, Georgian State Council Chairman Eduard Shevardnadze stated that the parliamentary elections scheduled for 11 October have been postponed to a later (unspecified) date in Abkhazia and parts of Western Georgia because the situation there is so unstable. (Liz Fuller) TAJIKISTAN REPORTED QUIET. ITAR-TASS reported on 13 September that there had been no fighting in the town of Kurgan-Tyube for one day, and the rest of Tajikistan remained quiet. Fighting had been reported to be continuing on 11 September between supporters of the Tajik opposition in Kurgan-Tyube and supporters of President Rakhmon Nabiev. Nabiev himself, who has taken refuge in his home base in Leninabad Oblast, told Reuters on 11 September that he had been forced to resign at gunpoint and described the events of 7 September as a coup. Leninabad authorities, quoted by ITAR-TASS on 12 September, denied that Nabiev was using the oblast as a base to stage a comeback; they also claimed to be unaware that he was in Khuzhand, where the Reuters correspondent found him. (Bess Brown) INCIDENTS CONTINUE ON TAJIK-AFGHAN BORDER. The NEGA news agency, as cited by Reuters, reported on 12 September that seven people had been killed the previous day in a shoot-out between guards on the Tajik-Afghan border and a group of Tajiks returning from Afghanistan. An officer of the border troops was sanguine, however, in his prediction on 13 September that the border situation could be brought under control, ITAR-TASS reported, though he estimated that some 400 citizens of Tajikistan are still on the Afghan side and will try to return illegally. He also complained about the lack of support from local villagers and the unwillingness of local authorities to prosecute those who illegally cross the border. (Bess Brown) UN SENDS MISSION TO TASHKENT. In response to Uzbek President Islam Karimov's plea for help to UN Secretary-General Butros-Ghali after the events in Tajikistan last week, the ITAR-TASS correspondent at the UN reported on 11 September that a UN mission was being sent to Tashkent to study the situation. The mission will also go to Tajikistan, if invited. The same day ITAR-TASS reported from Tajikistan that the authorities in Leninabad Oblast, who are very unhappy over developments in Dushanbe, had requested that a UN mission visit the country. (Bess Brown) TRANSASIAN HIGHWAY DISCUSSED IN ALMA-ATA. Kazakhstan's minister of transport construction, Kyrgyzstan's minister of transport and the head of Turkmenistan's state highway corporation signed a protocol in Alma-Ata on 11 September on the construction of a highway that would link the Central Asian countries with Iran, Turkey and Pakistan and give the Central Asians access to the rest of the Near and Far East, KazTAG-TASS reported. Working groups are scheduled to be formed to study routes and work out the technical and economic basis for the highway. (Bess Brown) "DNIESTER REPUBLIC" FORGING AHEAD WITH OWN STATE STRUCTURES. Using the breathing room gained through the cease-fire agreement, and under the protective cover of the Russian troops, the "Dniester republic" is creating state structures of its own. On 11 September, Interfax and DR-Press reported that a decree by "Dniester president" Igor Smirnov established "Dniester border troops," subordinated to the "Dniester Ministry of National Security" which was created last week by the "Dniester Supreme Soviet." Tiraspol further announced that it had succeeded in creating the "Dniester republic's" own banking system, fully separate from that of Moldova, and that it is now conducting its own transactions with partners in the other CIS states, bypassing Moldova, DR-Press reported on 13 September. (Vladimir Socor) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN UPDATE. International media reported on 13 September that Serbian and Bosnian forces around Sarajevo have begun making their heavy weapons available for UN observation but that the Serbs had failed to take similar steps in three other areas of Bosnia. The republic's president, Alija Izetbegovic, said he will boycott peace talks in Geneva this week because of continuing Serb attacks against Bihac and Gorazde, where Muslims managed to drive the Serbs back just over two weeks earlier. The 14 September Washington Post reports that a UN report backs the Bosnian government's position on the death of two French soldiers at Sarajevo airport the previous week. The report says that the relief convoy drove into the middle of a firefight between Bosnian and Serbian forces, and concludes that the two were not deliberately killed by the Bosnians, as France has charged. (Patrick Moore) ANOTHER NO CONFIDENCE VOTE FOR PANIC? Radio Serbia and Politika report on 12 and 13 September that last week's resignation of the foreign minister of the rump Yugoslavia may bring about a second vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Milan Panic. According to reports, a group of deputies from the ruling Socialist Party and the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS) will raise the motion soon, but give no indication when. SRS leader Vojislav Seselj, stated on 10 September that Panic continues "to make mistakes," and specifically criticized Panic's decision to change the rump Yugoslav negotiating team for the Geneva Conference on the former Yugoslavia. Panic described the accusations as childish and rejected the existence of a Serbian foreign policy describing it as "political Mickey Mouse." (Milan Andrejevich) MILOSEVIC TO CHANGE POLITICAL OFFICE SOON? Politika reports on 12 September that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic will be elected president of the ruling Socialist Party (SPS) at the party's second congress in early October. The Belgrade daily says the move is an attempt by the SPS (former communists) to improve their chances for the next elections, expected sometime in December, by placing Milosevic at the head of their party. By law Milosevic would have to resign as president of the Republic of Serbia. He would have the choice of remaining in office until new elections are held or, if he requests an immediate replacement, the Serbian parliament would elect an interim president. Current SPS president Borisav Jovic is expected to retire from political life. Prime Minister Panic has indicated that he would not be saddened to see Milosevic vacate the Serbian presidency. (Milan Andrejevich) PANIC ON RELATIONS WITH HUNGARY. Prime Minister Panic told Hungarian TV on 11 September that he could envision ties between Hungary and his proposed economic "Union of Balkan States," MTI reports. According to MTI, Panic dismissed as ridiculous the views of some Serbian groups that Yugoslavia should have nothing to do with Hungary because Hungarians are natural enemies of Serbs. He said that Hungarians in Vojvodina have nothing fear as long as he is prime minister; he will defend the rights of all minorities and grant equal rights to all citizens regardless of nationality. (Edith Oltay) RIFT AMONG KOSOVO ALBANIANS. According to a Radio Serbia report on 13 September, some Kosovo Albanian leaders have openly expressed their displeasure with the performance in office so far Ibrahim Rugova, president of both the Democratic Alliance and the self-proclaimed Republic of Kosovo. In particular, the results of the London conference in late August are the focus of criticism. Redzep Qosija, Kosovo's most prominent intellectual, wrote in the latest issue of the weekly Zeri i rinise that Albanian observers should have walked out on the conference because they were treated only as a national minority. Qosija said Rugova is responsible for the "new division of the [Albanian] nation into several foreign sovereignties" because Albanians were represented in London in four delegations--from Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Albania. Qosija said that Rugova's biggest failure, however, was in letting protests by Kosovo Albanians die down completely, a policy he says was based on the mistaken belief that "our freedom and independence will be delivered to us on a silver platter." (Milan Andrejevich) ALBANIA'S ALIA ARRESTED. Former communist president Ramiz Alia was placed under house arrest on 12 September, Western agencies report. Alia succeeded strongman Enver Hoxha in 1985, but was defeated in elections in April 1992. The ruling Democratic Party has been calling for Alia's arrest for some time to join about 20 other former officials, including Hoxha's widow, already in detention on changes of abuse of power and misuse of state funds. In a statement appearing on 13 September in 24 ore ("24 Hours"), an organ of the Socialist Party (former communists) in Tirana, Alia protests the action as "purely political:" "I have done nothing. I have not given a single oral or written order. I had the courage well before 1990 to open the way for the democratic process and for pluralism," he writes. (Charles Trumbull) SLOVAK PREMIER ON PLANS FOR SLOVAKIA. Speaking in Michalovce on 12 September, Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar said that his government will ask the Slovak parliament to abolish the so-called lustration law that stipulates that government employees be screened for ties with the former secret police. The law also bars former communist officials from holding government jobs. Meciar said the law should be abolished before January 1993, when Czechoslovakia is to split into two states. Meciar also said that his government will borrow money abroad to be able to implement economic reform despite the state budget deficit. (Jiri Pehe) STRASKY WARNS AGAINST REFERENDUM. Addressing the Czechoslovak parliament on 11 September, Prime Minister Jan Strasky said that holding a referendum on splitting Czechoslovakia could cause developments like those in Yugoslavia. According to Strasky, a referendum may not be realistic because any campaign activities preceding the referendum could be dangerous. Strasky presented a government report which says that a constitutional declaration by the federal parliament is "an adequate and feasible way of formalizing the split." (Jiri Pehe) KLAUS ON POLISH VISIT, US FREE TRADE PROPOSAL. Speaking on Czech Radio after his talks with Polish Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka on 13 September, Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus said that he and Suchocka found "a common language" and established friendly relations. Commenting on the future of the so-called Visegrad Triangle, Klaus said that he and Suchocka, unlike the previous Czech and Polish governments, feel that "bilateral relations are the foundation. One must build the ground floor first, then the roof, and not the other way around." Also on 13 September, Klaus told CSTK that US President George Bush's recent pledge to seek free trade agreements with Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland is "very interesting for Czechoslovakia." Klaus said he will seek more information if he meets Bush during his visit to the US this week. (Jiri Pehe) POLISH SENATE TINKERS WITH "LITTLE CONSTITUTION." The Senate accepted 43 of 50 proposed revisions to the "little constitution" before returning it to the Sejm for consideration on 11 September. The final vote to accept the amended draft was 59 to 21, only one vote over the required two-thirds majority. The revisions mainly defended the Senate's own prerogatives; motions to expand the president's powers failed. The Senate refused to restore the president's right to request the government's dismissal and struck all reference to the president's national security office. Speaking for President Walesa, Lech Falandysz lamented that the Senate had missed the chance to restore equilibrium in the "little constitution." But he refused to say whether Walesa plans to veto the bill. The government is awaiting passage of the "little constitution," which would allow it to request the right to issue decrees. (Louisa Vinton) SUCHOCKA IN POZNAN, CRACOW. Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka attended two national gatherings of local elected officials in Poznan on 11 September. She pledged reforms aimed at building a "modern administration for a decentralized state." Speaking in Cracow on 12 September, Suchocka marked the third anniversary of the creation of Poland's first noncommunist government with words of praise for the round-table talks and the bloodless revolution that followed. Democracy is incomplete without respect for the law, she stressed. "We do not have democracy," Suchocka said, "in order to feel threatened by anarchy." Not every demand was just, and Poland could not be ruled by those "with the strongest elbows." (Louisa Vinton) ILIESCU TO SPAIN, ITALY. Romanian president Ion Iliescu attended festivities on "Romania's Day" at the world exhibition in Seville on 12 September. He was accompanied by Foreign Minister Adrian Nastase, Minister of Culture Ludovic Spiess, and other officials and well-known cultural and sports figures. The day before, Radio Bucharest reported that Iliescu met Spain's King Juan Carlos and Prime Minister Felipe Gonzales in Madrid. Iliescu cancelled an unofficial visit to Paris en route for reasons that are not clear, but he make a stopover in Rome on September 14 to meet Italian president Oscar Scalfaro and Pope John Paul II. Some independent Romanian media see in this tour an attempt by Iliescu to persuade electors that he is not isolated internationally as he fights for reelection in the 27 September presidential race. (Dan Ionescu) THOUSANDS RALLY FOR ROMANIAN OPPOSITION CANDIDATE. Some 15,000 gathered in Cluj on 12 September to show support for Emil Constantinescu, the main opposition candidate in Romania's presidential elections. Constantinescu, who is the rector of Bucharest university, is running on the ticket of the Democratic Convention, an alliance of centrist parties and organizations. In a statement read out at the rally and summarized by Western agencies, Constantinescu rejected "primitive nationalism, extremism, and chauvinism." Tension between Romanians and ethnic Hungarians has been on the rise in Cluj, whose mayor, Gheorghe Funar, is presidential candidate of the extreme nationalist Party of Romanian National Unity. (Dan Ionescu) TOKES ENDS FAST. On 11 September ethnic Hungarian Reformed Bishop Laszlo Tokes ended his ten-day protest fast in Timisoara. In a statement broadcast by Radio Bucharest, he said that he is breaking off his protest in order to contribute to a peaceful climate during the run-up to the elections. (Dan Ionescu) HUNGARIAN PRESIDENT CALLS FOR CONSENSUS. In an interview with Radio Budapest on 12 September, Arpad Goncz called on all political and social groups to work together to overcome the difficult problems arising out of the transition to a parliamentary democracy. He said that social problems pose the greatest challenge, and, referring to recent clashes between the government and the opposition over the media, said that it is far easier to set up the institutions of democracy than to apply it in everyday political practice. Goncz further said that while some anti-Semitism exists in Hungary, one cannot not speak of institutionalized anti-Semitism or of a threat to the Jewish population. (Edith Oltay) ESTONIA SETS MINIMUM WAGE, PENSION. On 14 September the Estonian government is expected to set the national minimum monthly wage at 300 kroons ($26.40) and the minimum monthly pension at 260 kroons ($22.80), BNS reports. (Riina Kionka) MORE CANDIDATES FOR LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT. On 12 September conferences of the Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party (LDLP), the Sajudis coalition, and the Center Movement approved their campaign programs and general lists of candidates for the Seimas elections, the RFE/RL Lithuanian Service reports. The LDLP list contains 72 names headed by party chairman Algirdas Brazauskas with only one parliament deputy (Ceslovas Jursenas) but many economists. The Sajudis coalition, consisting of Sajudis, Citizens Charter, Political Prisoner Union, Farmers' Sajudis, and the Greens Party, approved a list of about 100 candidates, 13 of the top 15 being parliament deputies headed by Parliament Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis. The Center Movement list includes 9 parliament deputies among the top ten, headed by deputy Mecys Laurinkus, parliament deputy chairman Kazimieras Motieka, Romualdas Ozolas, and Egidijus Bickauskas. It appears probable that the movement will form an election coalition with the Liberal Union. (Saulius Girnius) LATVIA PREPARES FOR ELECTIONS. Although no date has been set and all necessary legislation has not been adopted, Latvian politicians are preparing for the elections. Recently the Democratic Center Party announced that it will try to represent the interests of small businessmen. The Conservative Party is urging members of the National Independence Movement and the People's Front of Latvia to join its ranks. On 10 September leaders of various political parties met in Riga to discuss issues of common interest and agreed to meet again, even though they would be competing against each other. The same day the Committee of Latvia distanced itself from Latvia's National Democratic Party--American Way and its leader Armands Malins because the LNDP has been highly critical of the committee and organized a kind of national guard, an activity that the committee says is illegal, Diena reported on 4 and 10 September. (Dzintra Bungs)
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