|The burnt child shuns the fire until the next day. - Mark Twain|
No. 177, 15 September 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR WARNINGS OF HYPERINFLATION IN RUSSIA. Somewhat belatedly, top Russian officials have been warning of the very real possibility of hyperinflation. President Yeltsin told regional officials in Cheboksary on 11 September that supporters of cheap credits and unrealistic social programs are pushing Russia into the abysss of hyperinflation, according to Reuter. Evgenii Yasin warned on the same day that hyperinflation had not yet arrived but that it was closer than ever before, Biznes-TASS reported. And Sergei Vasiliev, in an interview with The New York Times of 15 September, laid the blame for looming hyperinflation squarely on the acting chairman of the Russian Central Bank, Viktor Gerashchenko. (Keith Bush) PLAUSIBILITY OF WARNINGS. The generally accepted definition of hyperinflation is a rise in prices of 50% or more a month. This can well happen in October, in the opinion of Anders Aslund,quoted in the same New York Times article, "and once you hit hyperinflation, it destroys most economic institutions." Indeed,the imminent increase in the controlled wholesale prices of energy-carriers will cause a substantial leap in the overall price index. But, as the article suggests, these warnings are probably aimed primarily at creating a sense of emergency and at organizing public pressure on the parliament, the Congress of People's Deputies, and the Russian Central Bank to act more responsibly. (Keith Bush) ABKHAZ UPDATE. On 14 September ITAR-TASS summarized a statement by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Georgii Khizhaexpressing concern at ongoing clashes in Abkhazia. Khizha particularly condemned the use of aircraft and heavy artillery against the civilian population and instances of widespread looting and roery. A session of the Abkhaz parliament convened by Georgian deputies and planned for 14 September failed to take place. Speaking on Georgian Radio, State Council chairman Eduard Shevardnadze said that hisdecision to send troops to Abkhazia in August was precipitated by an unspecified "conspiracy" against the Georgian people, details of which he undertook to make public at a UN session in New York on 2425 September. (Liz Fuller) RUSSIA TO RECEIVE MORE US FOOD AID. The Department of Agriculture announced in Washington that the US is makinganother $1.15 billion in loans available to Russia for foodimports this winter, according to Western news agencies. Most of the aid, $900 million, is in the form of loan guarantees for creditors providing import financing. The Los Angeles Times on 15 September said that the Yeltsin government had lobbiedWashington to approve the food aid early, before winter got underway. Last year Russia began urgently appealing for Western assistance only after the winter's food supply crisis hadalready developed. Since the beginning of 1991, the US has reportedly provided Russia with $5.75 billion in food credit. (Erik Whitlock) KHASBULATOV ON POSSIBILITY OF CONFEDERATION. Russian parliamentary speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov said during his trip to Kyrgyzstan that he believes the establishment of an interparliamentary assembly of CIS states, which will become official at the summit of CIS state leaders in Bishtek on 25 September, is the beginning of the creation of a new confederation of former Soviet republics. The assembly is scheduled to become an independently operating organization with the right to dispute decisions made by the leaders of CIS states. Interfax quoted Khasbulatov as saying that Ukraine's absence in no way affects the work of the interparliamentary assembly because Ukraine will join the assembly at a later stage. (Alexander Rahr) "DEMOCRATIC RUSSIA" PREPARED TO FIGHT. The Coordinating Council of the "Democratic Russia" movement has issued an appeal to the Russian people to fight attempts by the old nomenklatura forces to halt privatization and reform, DR-Press reported on 11 September. The St. Petersburg regional section of the Democratic Party of Russia decided to support "Democratic Russia" and to distance itself from the central leadership of the Democratic Party of Russia, headed by Nikolai Travkin, which had formed a coalition with the Civic Union. Meanwhile, the leadership of the Civic Union decided to join a nationwide campaign for the organization of a referendum on private ownership of land. (Alexander Rahr) RUSSIA ASSURES US ON BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS. U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher on 14 September said that Russia had given assurances that it would end "all aspects" of its biological warfare program. Western press accounts of his statement indicated that the pledge had been given during talks between American and Russian representatives in Moscow on 1011 September. Boucher said that on-site inspections were among the measures agreed by both sides. Last month American and British government sources expressed doubts that the Russian program had been terminated despite President Yeltsin's earlier order banning the production of biological weapons. (Doug Clarke) RUSSIANS BALK AT SOME CONVENTIONAL ARMS INSPECTIONS. Richard Boucher said on 11 September that Russia had refused allied arms inspectors access to parts of some military facilities inspected during August and September under the terms of the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty. That treaty became legally binding on the signatories on 17 July 1992. According to Western agency reports, Boucher acknowledged that the treaty was a complex one and that problems during its implementation were "probably inevitable." He indicated that the Russians had barred inspectors from entering some storage, administrative, and other facilities in garrisons said to be housing military equipment limited by the treaty. (Doug Clarke) GORBACHEV TO ATTEND SOCIALIST INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS. Mikhail Gorbachev will attend the next Socialist International as a guest of honor, "Vesti" reported on September 14. (The Congress is scheduled to open today in Berlin.) About 70 parties from various states of the world have applied for membership and are waiting for their application to be reviewed at the Congress, "Vesti" noted. The list includes a number of Russian political parties, among them the Social Democratic Party of Russia, which includes a number of prominent politicians, such as Oleg Rumyantsev, the author of the official draft of the new Russian Constitution and an ardent Gorbachev critic. (Julia Wishnevsky) SUPREME SOVIET TO RECONSIDER DEFENSE LAW. The chairman of the Russian Supreme Soviet Committee on Legislation, Mikhail Mityukov, told ITAR-TASS on 14 September that the "law on defense" will be considered once again by the parliament at its upcoming session. On 10 August, Yeltsin refused to sign the law, which had been approved by the Supreme Soviet on 26 June, because, among other reasons, it limited his authority to appoint the defense minister. Mityukov said that members of his committee supported Yeltsin's proposal that the President be granted sole authority to name the defense minister, the chief of the General Staff, and the commanders of all service brancheswithout the approval of the Supreme Sovietand that the President himself should submit for approval to the Supreme Soviet plans for the composition, structure, and strength of the Russian armed forces and its leadership. (Stephen Foye). KOBETS NAMED TO NEW POST. Army General Konstantin Kobets has been named chief military inspector of the Russian armed forces by Boris Yeltsin, Interfax reported on 14 September. Kobets, 53, was a deputy chief of the USSR General Staff (for communications), and his role in organizing the defense of the Russian government building during the failed August coup catapulted him into a leading role in the post-coup Soviet and Russian armed forces. He subsequently served as chief (and then chairman) of the RSFSR State Committee for Defense and Security, as a military advisor to Yeltsin, and as a Deputy Chairman of the Russian State Commission for the Creation of a Russian Defense Ministry. It is unclear what powers he will exercise as chief military inspector. (Stephen Foye) STATE OF RUSSIAN TANK FORCES. The chief of Russian armored forces, Col. Gen. Aleksandr Galkin, said in Krasnaya zvezda on 12 September that the most modern machinesT-726's and T-80'sconstituted only 25% of the current total Russian tank fleet. He nevertheless expressed optimism that design work in tank production was moving ahead at an acceptable pace, and that the value of the tank forces would not be underestimated during the creation of a new, highly mobile and professional Russian army. Galkin's remarks were summarized by ITAR-TASS on 12 September. (Stephen Foye) "SOVIET PEOPLE"A REALITY? Researchers at the Institute of General Genetics of the Russian Academy of Sciences claim that the "Soviet people," long the mainstay of the Brezhnev-Suslov nationalities policy, really exist. The researchers say that their studies show that "the Soviet people"a concept despised by many former Soviet citizens and seen by many as a cover for Russification policiesis not an artificial ploy and that there is a single genetic code for the "Soviet people." Consequently, they argue, today's "dispersion in national apartments," that is, the independence of the former republics, is "only a temporary historical-geographical fluctuation." The report was cited by Arkadii Volsky, President of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, interviewed in Pravda of 9 September, in support of his argument that empires like the Russian and the Soviet ones do not disappear "without leaving a trace." Volsky stressed, however, his realization of the fact that "the restoration of the Soviet Union at present is excluded." (Roman Solchanyk) KRAVCHUK MEETS WITH OPPOSITION. Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk met with leaders of the Ukrainian Republican Party and other parties grouped around "Rukh" and the "New Ukraine" coalition, Ukrainian television reported on 11 September. The participants discussed topics such as the formation of a transition reform government, cadres policy, and shortcomings of the new draft constitution. According to the report, inspite of differences of opinion, those taking part were satisfied with the open and constructive nature of the discussion. (Roman Solchanyk) UKRAINIAN "CIVIC FRONT" A conference of the social and political organization "Civic Front of Ukraine" was held in Zhytomir on 12 September, DR-Press reported on 13 September. The purpose of the conference was to form an "anti-communist bloc in Ukraine." Three main issues were discussed: the economic situation, resignation of the government, and the fate of President Leonid Kravchuk. Among the participants were opposition leaders Vyacheslav Chornovil and Stepan Khmara. (Roman Solchanyk) TAJIKISTAN REPORTED QUIET. ITAR-TASS reported on 14 September that fighting had stopped in Kurgan-Tyube Oblast the previous day, and the country appeared to be returning to normal. The joint delegation of government officials which was credited with stopping the fighting in Kurgan-Tyube had reportedly gone on to Kulyab Oblast, from which armed groups supporting President Rakhmon Nabiev had attacked the town of Kurgan-Tyube. Nabiev was forced out of office last week, but his supporters had continued to fight. According to Acting Prime Minister Djamshed Karimov, the commission was offering to end a blockade of Kulyab to allow the import of food if the armed groups in the region would stop fighting. (Bess Brown) MORE ON TAJIKISTAN. In an interview with ITAR-TASS on 14 September, Acting Premier Djamshed Karimov denied that Nabiev's resignation was causing a government crisis in Tajikistan, because no structure of government had been affected. Apparently an opposition proposal to abolish the presidency and create a state council has been rejected by the government, which prefers to stick with the current constitutional structure for the present. Karimov would like to see a revised agreement with Russia signedthis was the issue that led to Nabiev's downfall, as the opposition believed the agreement would license Russian interference in Tajik affairs. (Bess Brown) CSCE DELEGATION IN MOLDOVA. A fact-finding team sent by the Chairman of the CSCE Committee of Senior Officials, and comprised of three Polish diplomats, completed on 11 September a week-long visit to Moldova. The team's leader, Daniel Adam Rotfeld, currently the Director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), told journalists that, in the team's assessment, the Dniester conflict was "a political, not an interethnic conflict," Moldovapres reported. That assessment coincides with that of Chisinau and contradicts the position of Tiraspol and its Russian nationalist supporters, who maintain that the conflict results from ethnic discrimination by Moldova against left-bank Russians. The fact-finding team will report its conclusions within a week to the Committee of Senior Officials, which will then devise a mechanism for CSCE assistance in settling the conflict. (Vladimir Socor) ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ON "LACK OF SIGNALS" FROM MOLDOVA. Interviewed in the Bucharest daily Meridian of 13 September, as cited by TASS, Romanian Foreign Minister Adrian Nastase told domestic critics that the question of Romanian-Moldovan unification should be resolved by and in Moldova, but nevertheless regretted that "we do not receive any signals from there." He added that Romania must strive for "including Moldova in its sphere of influence," preventing it from "falling under the influence of other countries" if unification does not take place. (Vladimir Socor) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE COURT RULES PRUNSKIENE COLLABORATED WITH KGB. On 14 September after three months of hearings, the Lithuanian Supreme Court ruled that former Prime Minister Kazimiera Prunskiene had consciously cooperated with the KGB, the RFE/RL Lithuanian Service reports. The ruling was based on information supplied by the parliament commission investigating KGB activities, including her pledge to cooperate signed on 8 June 1980. The court noted that Prunskiene did not present evidence disproving the commission's documents. The parliament is empowered to suspend her as a deputy and schedule a vote of confidence in her district, but is unlikely to do so since new Seimas elections will he held on 25 October and Prunskiene had announced several months ago that she will not run again. (Saulius Girnius) HEAVY SHELLING OF SARAJEVO. On 14 September the BBC said that Serbian artillery subjected the Bosnian capital to some of the worst shelling of the war. The 15 September Washington Post quoted UN personnel as saying that this showed that the Serbs had not revealed all their big guns to UN monitors and that both sides seem to be fighting a conventional war for strategic advantage before winter arrived in October. Serbian aircraft apparently based at Banja Luka dropped cluster bombs on Bihac, and fired air-to-ground missiles as well on 14 September. Western news agencies also quoted UN sources as saying that the Serbs heavily shelled Gradacac, Brcko, and Bosanski Brod. Meanwhile in Croatia, the 13 September Novi vjesnik gave extensive coverage to the second anniversary of Croatian antiterrorist units. (Patrick Moore) UN TO INCREASE ROLE IN BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA. On 14 September the Security Council voted to send up to 6,000 more troops to protect humanitarian efforts in the troubled republic in addition to the 1,500 UN forces already there. The BBC on 15 September said that the vote was 120-3, with China, India, and Zimbabwe abstaining. Canada, Britain, and France will contribute and pay for the bulk of the new land forces, while the US will offer air and sea support. Washington, London, and Paris failed to agree in time on the modalities of a no-fly zone for Bosnia, so no decision was reached on that issue. UN spokesmen have sa&id that Serbian aircraft shadow UN relief flights to Sarajevo to minimize chances of being shot at by Bosnian or Croatian forces. (Patrick Moore) PANIC IN MOSCOW AND BEIJING. On 13 September Milan Panic, the prime minister of the rump Yugoslavia, began a three-day visit to Moscow and Beijing. Panic is seeking support from both countries in order to prevent a possible vote on expulsion by the UN Security Council later this month. In Moscow Panic met with Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Kolokolov, who told ITAR-TASS that Panic gave him the impression that his government "really is trying to resolve the conflict." In Beijing Premier Li Peng said that all former Yugoslav republics and the rump Yugoslavia "should have their own place within the United Nations and other international organizations," stressing that "Yugoslavia's expulsion would have serious consequences for all." But the Chinese leader did not explicitly say whether China will support the rump Yugoslavia's claim to a UN seat. Li Peng also said China is concerned over the worsening situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina and expressed deep sympathy with the people there. Panic also requested from the Chinese "humanitarian aid with oil." Xinhua and Radio Serbia carried the report. (Milan Andrejevich) CRISIS CONTINUES IN REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA. A team of CSCE experts arrived in Skopje on 11 September to determine whether monitors ought to be posted to the Macedonian-Serbian border in an effort to check the possible expansion of the wars of Yugoslav succession. It is not clear whether the observers would be military or civilian, but the head of the mission, Robert Frowick, an American, noted that posting observers would "demonstrate the support of the international community for the territorial integrity of . . . Macedonia," Reuters and BTA report. The border between the Republic of Macedonia and the predominantly Albanian Kosovo region of Serbia is especially volatile. In a related story, other Western agencies report that the Republic of Macedonia's only oil refinery was shut down on 12 September because 70,000 tons of crude oil were blocked at the port of Thessaloniki, apparently as part of ongoing Greek pressure to force the new republic to drop the word "Macedonia" from its official name. (Duncan Perry) BULGARIA'S EXILED KING SEEKS A COMEBACK. Simeon II, who departed Bulgaria at the age of 6 following the onset of communism, said in a Madrid interview on 14 September that a return of the monarchy is in Bulgaria's best interest. He noted that the legislature could create a grand national assembly and restore himwithout the need of a popular referendum. The former king is a businessman in Spain, where he lives with his family. He has been low-key about pressing for his return to Bulgaria in order to give the legislature and the population time to consider the prospect. Simeon has a following in Bulgaria and a monarchist political party exists; however, he does not seem to have majority popular support and certainly does not have the support of a majority in the parliament. Simeon is married to a wealthy Spaniard and has five children, none of whom speaks Bulgarian. (Duncan Perry) GANEV ASSUMES UNGA PRESIDENCY. Bulgarian Foreign Minister Stoyan Ganev was elected president of the UN General Assembly and takes over that post officially on 15 September, Bulgarian and Western sources note. Ganev has energetically pursued a policy of integrating Bulgaria with Western countries and has succeeded in drawing Bulgaria closer to Europe; it joined the Council of Europe during his tenure in the Foreign Ministry. Ganev is 37 years old, a lawyer by training, and speaks Russian and English. (Duncan Perry) CZECH PREMIER LEAVES FOR UNITED STATES. Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus left on 14 September for a five-day visit to the United States. Klaus is scheduled to speak at a conference of the American Association of Economists in Dallas and at the World Congress of Economic Development in Washington organized by the CNN TV network. Before his departure, Klaus told CSTK that he is scheduled to meet with White House Chief of Staff James Baker, National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, and Acting Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger. He will also hold talks with officials of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. (Jiri Pehe) ILIESCU MEETS POPE. Romanian President Ion Iliescu was received on 14 September by Pope John Paul II at his summer residence Castel Gandolfo. Radio Bucharest, which described the private interview as a "tete-a-tete," noted that Iliescu is the first foreign official to see the pope after his surgery in mid-July. John Paul expressed hopes that Romania will completely restore democracy and religious freedom and that relations between the Vatican and Romania will further develop. Iliescu later met in Rome with Italian president Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, with whom he discussed mutual ties and prospects for Romania's association with the EC. Rome was the last leg on Iliescu's three-day visit to Spain and Italy. (Dan Ionescu) ROMANIA'S RUMP COMMUNIST PARTY BACKS ILIESCU. A spokesman for Romania's reborn communist party, the Socialist Labor Party, announced at a press conference on 14 September that his party has decided to support incumbent president Ion Iliescu in the 27 September presidential race. Reuters quoted the spokesman as saying that his party "will not field its own presidential candidate in order to preserve the unity of the left wing." In a press statement the SLP praised Iliescu for alleged "tolerance and transparency" during his term in office, saying he tried "to defuse tension and conflicts and strengthen the role of democratic bodies." Iliescu, a former communist, was a high-ranking party official before falling out of favor with late dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in 1971. (Dan Ionescu) ROMANIAN ASSOCIATION WITH THE EC. On 14 September a Romanian delegation began a new round of negotiations in Brussels on association with the European Community. In an interview with Radio Bucharest, delegation leader Napoleon Pop said that the two-day talks will focus on the text of some 10 articles (out of a 124-points association agreement) dealing with Romanian exports of agricultural products, iron and steel, and textiles to EC countries. (Dan Ionescu) FSM STRIKE ENDS. After 55 days, the strike at the FSM auto plant in Tychy appears to have ended. Strikers announced an "indefinite pause" at 4:00 a.m. on 15 September, and a final decision is expected later in the day. Agreement was reached through the mediation of Katowice archbishop Damian Zimon, who stepped in at the strikers' request but only after securing the consent of the FSM management. Zimon said he told the exhausted strikers that they had to reach agreement because "this strike is different from those in past years." After further talks on 15 September, the archbishop is to hold a mass dedicated to reconciliation at FSM. Citing unofficial sources, Polish TV reported that the strikers abandoned all wage demands in return for management's reversal of its firing of some 400 strike activists. FSM's weakened financial condition may impede the startup of new production. (Louisa Vinton) WARSAW SOLIDARITY HOLDS PROTEST MARCH. Several thousand members of Solidarity's radical Mazowsze region marched through Warsaw on 14 September. The protesters said their aim was to pressure the government and the parliament into providing an economic program satisfactory to workers. The Mazowsze region's firebrand leader, Maciej Jankowski, threatened a general strike as a last resort that would determine whether "the elites will send us packing or we will send the elites packing." Other demonstrators claimed that this would be the "last peaceful demonstration" by unionists in Warsaw and shouted, "We want facts, not pacts" and "No more thieving privatization." (Louisa Vinton) HUNGARIANS GET COMPENSATION FOR COMMUNIST SEIZURES. The head of the national compensation office, Tamas Sepsey, told MTI that his agency has ruled on 202,340 claims for compensation for property seized by the communist regime and has paid out some 9.5 billion forint. He reported that only 130,000 of the 830,000 applicants for compensation wish to use the compensation vouchers to buy land; during the first two weeks of land auctions 86 people received land. Sepsey said that Hungarians living abroad are also eligible for compensation but most of them do not know about the opportunity. He promised to provide more information about compensation through Hungarian embassies. (Edith Oltay) ESTONIAN SUPREME COUNCIL HOLDS LAST SESSION. The body met for the last time on 14 September. According to an RFE/RL Estonian Service report, the final session featured speeches by Speaker Ulo Nugis and Chairman Arnold Ruutel, and lasted a total of 20 minutes. The Supreme Council (formerly Supreme Soviet) has been in existence since Soviet annexation in 1940. The new State Assembly will be elected on 20 September. (Riina Kionka) LANDSBERGIS NOT TO RUN IN SINGLE DISTRICT. On 13 September, during his weekly television speech, Lithuanian Parliament Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis said that he will not be a candidate for the Seimas in a single voting district, but rather will head the general list of candidates of the Sajudis coalition, Radio Lithuania reports. He also noted that he will be a candidate for president. Democratic Labor Party Chairman Algirdas Brazauskas, who is probably the most significant challenger to Landsbergis, will head his party's general list and run again as a candidate from the Kaisiadorys voting district. (Saulius Girnius) USSR PASSPORTS STILL ISSUED IN LATVIA. At a time when Latvians are exchanging their Soviet passports for the new Latvian passports, USSR passports for travel abroad are still being issued by a department of Latvia's Ministry of Internal Affairs. Antons Baltacis, head of the ministry's Department for Visas and Registration of Foreigners, told Diena on 11 September that his department would continue to issue and extend the validity of the red USSR passports until the Russian government revokes them. He added that when Latvia adopts a law on citizenship non-ethnic-Latvian residents will have to obtain new passports from whatever country provided the old ones. (Dzintra Bungs) UNEMPLOYMENT UP IN ESTONIA . . . Estonia's unemployment rate crept up to about 0.5% as of 1 September. Some 7,500 people in Estonia are currently jobless, up about 16% from last month, BNS reports. Northeastern Estonia and Tartu had the highest unemployment rates, but only 56 people are officially seeking employment in Tallinn. (Riina Kionka) . . . AND IN HUNGARY. According to preliminary figures just released by the Ministry of Labor, the number of unemployed at the end of August was 601,000, or 11.1% of the work force, MTI reports. This is a slight increase over July, when 10.9% of the work force was unemployed. The growth rate slowed, however: in August some 14,000 new unemployed were registered, compared to 40,000 in July. The ministry is particularly concerned about the high number of unemployed among young people starting their careers52,000and the 20% unemployment rate in Szabolcs-Szatmar-Bereg County. (Edith Oltay)
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.