|We are all apt to believe what the world believes about us. - George Eliot|
No. 178, 16 September 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR SITUATION IN TAJIKISTAN. Authorities in Kulyab Oblast have accused opposition forces of killing nine people and taking ten hostages in a gun battle on 14 September, ITAR-TASS reported the following day. The invaders apparently came from Kurgan-Tyube Oblast, which has been attacked repeatedly by fighters from Kulyab who support deposed President Rakhmon Nabiev. Ostankino TV's evening news reported on 14 September that Tajikistan's leading Muslim cleric, Kazi Akbar Turadzhonzoda, has protested the decision of opposition-controlled Tajik TV to stop rebroadcasting Russian TV programs. The head of Tajik TV claimed that Russian reporting on events on Tajikistan was distorted. The kazi agreed, but objected to "an information famine." (Bess Brown) SITUATION IN ABKHAZIA STILL "EXTREMELY COMPLICATED". The tripartite commission charged with monitoring the Abkhaz peace agreement met in Adler on 15 September and drew up an accord on the disengagement of Abkhaz and Georgian forces in north-west Abkhazia and a new ceasefire agreement to take effect at midnight on 15 September, ITAR-TASS reported. Addressing the State Council in Tbilisi, Chairman Eduard Shevardnadze said that he had informed Russian President Boris Yeltsin by telephone that Abkhazia was violating the ceasefire agreement. Shevardnadze characterized the situation in Abkhazia as still "extremely complicated" and stated that Georgia's military contingent in the region would be strengthened. (Liz Fuller) RUSSIA REJECTS UN EXPULSION OF YUGOSLAVIA. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky said on 15 September that Russia opposes the idea of isolating rump Yugoslavia by expelling it from international organizations such as the United Nations. He noted that Russia could use its veto power during a vote at the UN to block the expulsion of Yugoslavia, ITAR-TASS reported on 15 September. This statement is in line with remarks made by Milan Panic in late July, apparently based on discussions during the CSCE summit in Helsinki. Panic was quoted by Izvestiya on 31 July as saying: "President Boris Yeltsin promised me that if necessary, Russia will use its veto one hundred times in the UN Security Council to oppose a resolution on the exclusion of Yugoslavia." (Suzanne Crow) CIS INTERPARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY OPENS. The Interparliamentary Assembly of the CIS has gone into its first session in Bishkek, ITAR-TASS reported on 15 September. Parliamentary delegations from Armenia, Belarus, Kazhakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan--the CIS states which have signed the agreement on the creation of the Interparliamentary Assembly--are participating. A delegation from Uzbekistan, which also signed the agreement, did not arrive for the first session. The parliamentary delegations are being headed by the speakers of the parliaments of the CIS member states. The Assembly will discuss the development of interstate relations inside the CIS, the role of parliaments in the social protection of the population, and general economic problems. (Alexander Rahr) KHASBULATOV ELECTED HEAD OF INTERPARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY. Russian parliamentary speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov has been elected Chairman of the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly, ITAR-TASS reported on 15 September. Khasbulatov will preside over the work of the Assembly for one year. It has also been decided that St. Petersburg will become the seat of the Interparliamentary Assembly. The statute of the Assembly was adopted and agreement has been reached on the creation of permanent Assembly commissions on cooperation in legal, economic, humanitarian, ecological and military affairs. (Alexander Rahr) BANKER WARNS AGAINST RUSSIAN DEBT REDUCTION. The managing director of the prestigious Washington-based Institute of International Finance, Horst Schulman, announced at a news conference that offering Russia debt relief would be a mistake. According to a RFE/RL correspondent reporting on 16 September, Schulman asserted that such action would send a very unfavorable message to both creditors and debtors around the world: "in the face of what is clearly [a] very unsatisfactory performance," debt relief would be viewed as "an entitlement program" for Russia. In Schulman's opinion, Russia has not done enough to pay its foreign debts. He cited Russia's reluctance to raise domestic prices for oil, a policy which would restrict domestic demand and free up supplies for hard-currency sales. (Erik Whitlock/Robert Lyle) RUSSIAN FARMERS DEMONSTRATE. Farmers gathered outside the Russian government building in Moscow to demand economic assistance, various Russian and Western news agencies reported on 15 September. In particular, the demonstrators called for more investment in the agricultural sector, tax and debt relief, as well as low-interest loans. Reports variously estimated the number of participants at between four hundred and two thousand. According to ITAR-TASS, the demonstration lasted an hour and a half. The protest follows a similar action in August that was viewed as largely ineffective. Interfax quoted demonstrators as saying that this was their "last soft action," and that they would use more serious methods in the future if the government did not respond to their demands. (Erik Whitlock) VOLSKY CRITICIZES PRIVATE BUSINESS SPECIALISTS. President of the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, Arkadii Volsky, stated that about one and a half million specialists are duplicating various intellectual and business activities in countless fictitious enterprises, Voice of Russia reported on September 13. Although these people have created an enormous number of foundations, analytical centers, consulting bureaus, and middleman companies, the result of all this activity is next to zero, Volsky was quoted by Voice of Russia as telling Patriot (no.35). Voice of Russia accused Volsky of being a high-level KGB officer, a charge it has made frequently in the past. (Victor Yasmann) COMMUNIST PARTY HEARINGS RESUME WITH EXPERT TESTIMONY. After a six-week recess, the Russian Constitutional Court resumed the hearings on the status of the communist party on 15 September. Opening the session, court chairman Valerii Zorkin said that 13 legal experts would testify on whether the communist party is a true political party and whether the Russian Communist Party (RCP) is independent from the Soviet Communist Party (CPSU), Interfax reported. Zorkin noted that six of these experts have given written opinions supporting the Russian president's ban, while seven other experts contend that the ban was illegal. The court is also expected to examine the question of who owned and disposed of party property. Meanwhile, Valentin Kuptsov, the former RCP first secretary, asked the court to legalize the party temporarily until the court reaches a verdict, Russian and Western agencies reported. (Carla Thorson) NATIONALIST PARTIES RESUME PICKETING OF OSTANKINO. On 15 September, representatives of extreme Russian nationalist parties resumed their picketing of the Ostankino TV station demanding daily broadcast time on Russian TV, ITAR-TASS reported. Their picketing of Ostankino first started this past summer, and it led to the opposition obtaining broadcast time on a monthly basis; now they want more. (Vera Tolz) YELTSIN HOLDS TALKS WITH TATARSTAN PRESIDENT. On 15 September, Russian President Boris Yeltsin held talks in Moscow with the Tatarstan President, Mintimer Shaimiev, ITAR-TASS reported. The agency quoted Yeltsin's press office as saying the two presidents discussed preparations for a draft treaty on the division of functions between the Russian central and Tatar authorities. The Russian and Tatar authorities agreed in July to prepare a treaty on Tatarstan's sovereignty and its union with Russia. (Vera Tolz) ORDERS FOR MILITARY HARDWARE TO GROW. ITAR-TASS reported on 11 September that state orders by the Russian government for military hardware in 1993 will be higher than in 1992. No specifics on the orders were provided. The increase was attributed to the need to maintain the scientific and intellectual level of the defense sector, and to reduce the effects of Russia's general economic decline. The decision was reportedly reached at a closed-door meeting of Russian government officials and leaders of the military industries on 10 September. (Stephen Foye) RUSSIA OFFERS TO SELL WARSHIPS TO THE PHILIPPINES. A spokesman for the Philippine Navy said on 11 September that Russia had offered to sell fast attack craft, corvettes, and minesweepers to the Philippines. According to the Chinese Zinhua news agency, the spokesman said that the offer had come during a meeting that day in Manila between a Russian delegation and the chairman of the Philippine Navy's weapons board. The agency also quoted Philippine Air Force chief, Brigadier Gen. Leopoldo Acot, as saying that a proposal to purchase MiG-29 jet fighters from Russia was being "carefully studied." (Doug Clarke) UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT OPENS. The sixth session of the Ukrainian parliament opened on 15 September against a background of unresolved economic problems and the opposition's determination to force new parliamentary elections and the dismissal of the present government. Western news agencies reported on 15 September that Prime Minister Vitold Fokin, in a message read to the lawmakers, warned that the economy is in an "extremely deep crisis." Fokin said that the government's new economic reform plan was still being discussed and would be presented to parliament no later than 28 September. The lawmakers were met by protesters at the parliament, which has become almost traditional for each new parliamentary session. (Roman Solchanyk) BELARUS TO RATIFY CFE TREATY. Belarus President Stanislav Shushkyevich told German leaders on 15 September that his government would ratify the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty by the end of the year. Shushkyevich was visiting Bonn and his remarks were reported by Western agencies. The treaty, signed by the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the former Warsaw Pact--including the successor states to the USSR--sets limits on five categories of conventional weapons allowed between the Urals and the Atlantic. The agreement came into force on 17 July 1992 even though two of the 29 signatories, Armenia and Belarus, had not yet ratified it. They were given 120 days to complete the process. (Doug Clarke) NAZARBAEV PROMOTES ECONOMIC COOPERATION. Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev told a meeting of industrialists in Alma-Ata that political ambition is prevailing over economic rationalism in the CIS, and he will propose to the CIS summit in Bishkek that supragovernmental structures be created in the Commonwealth, Russian TV reported on 14 September. On 15 September, the Russian economics minister, Andrei Nechaev, and the chairman of Kazakhstan's State Economics Committee, Tleukhan Kabdrakhmanov, signed a protocol on economic cooperation between the two countries, ITAR-TASS reported. This agreement provides for prognoses of socio-economic development, cooperation in currency and credit policy, and various joint mining and environmental projects. Nechaev did not lend encouragement to a pet project of Nazarbaev, the creation of a supranational currency authority. (Bess Brown) "DNIESTER" MOLDOVAN TEACHERS TO STRIKE FOR LATIN SCRIPT. Most teachers in Moldovan schools controlled by "Dniester" Russian authorities are protesting against the recent "Dniester" edict on languages, which imposes the Russian alphabet on the "Moldovan" (i.e. Romanian) language in place of the Latin alphabet (see RFE/RL Daily Report, 10 September). The teachers have announced plans for a general strike beginning on 20 September, Radio Rossii and DR-Press reported on 14 and 15 September, respectively. (Vladimir Socor) "DNIESTER REPUBLIC" CONTINUES CREATING STATE STRUCTURES. The "Dniester republic Supreme Soviet" decided to set up a customs system for the would-be republic, Interfax reported on 11 September; it began functioning on 15 September, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on the 16th. The same source reported that Moldova's television relays located on the left bank of the Dniester have been taken over by the "Dniester" authorities. On 14 September, Interfax reported that the "Dniester republic" intends to introduce its own citizenship. Since 2 September, using the breathing spell gained through the ceasefire and the protective cover of Russian troops, ostensibly in Moldova to carry out impartial peacekeeping duties, the "Dniester republic" has also proceeded to set up a government with full-fledged ministries, including those of Defense and State Security; announced the establishment of its own air force and border troops, and the intention to create its own professional army; it has also formed its own banking system. (Vladimir Socor) MOLDOVA FEELS CHEATED. An unnamed senior official of Moldova's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, representing Moldova on the Joint Control Commission which nominally supervises the Russian peacekeeping forces on the Dniester, "expressed concern over certain activities of that body...The presence of the peacekeeping forces is being used by the Tiraspol leaders to consolidate illegal state structures in the Dniester area." The Moldovan official called for "a rigorous control of the [Russian-Moldovan ceasefire] convention by international bodies...to avoid arbitrary or hostile interpretations," Rompres reported on 13 September. The statement, the first of its kind from Moldova since the convention was signed on 21 July, appears to reflect the apprehension that Snegur's gamble in accepting the deployment of Russian peacekeeping troops in Moldova in exchange for Russian promises to restrain the "Dniester" secession, is backfiring against Moldova. (Vladimir Socor) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE EC MOVES TO EXCLUDE SERBIA-MONTENEGRO FROM UN. Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, the US, and Islamic Conference member states will apparently join Britain and the EC in taking steps this week to bar Serbia-Montenegro from holding the former Yugoslavia's seat in the UN and related organizations. International media reported on 15 and 16 September that it is not yet clear whether Russia will agree to such a ban. Serbia-Montenegro call themselves "Yugoslavia" but the state remains internationally unrecognized, largely because its creation is widely regarded as an attempt by the Belgrade authorities to claim much of the legitimacy and assets of Tito's now defunct federation. For its part, Serbia-Montenegro says that it does not see how it can continue to participate in a UN-backed peace process if that organization excludes Belgrade from its work, the BBC said on 16 September. (Patrick Moore) "NO-FLY ZONE" OVER BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA? International media also report that the Security Council is expected to consider stetting up a "no-fly zone" on the Iraqi model over the troubled republic. Of the combatants, only Serbian forces have aircraft, and they have been accused of shadowing UN relief flights as a way of obtaining cover on bombing missions against Bosnian and Croatian forces. Peace envoys Cyrus Vance and Lord Owen on 15 September deplored Serb air attacks the previous day on four Muslim-controlled towns in Bosnia, Western news agencies report. UN peace-keeping operations chief Marrack Goulding said that the attacks show how urgent it is to set up the "no-fly zone." Meanwhile, 68 badly injured Bosnian refugees were taken by air from Banja Luka to London for treatment. The Red Cross had selected them from numerous inmates of Serbian "detention centers." (Patrick Moore) CROAT-MUSLIM CONFLICTS IN BOSNIA. Radios Serbia and Slovenia report on 14 and 15 September that there has been a rise of clashes between Croatian and Muslim militia in towns in Herzegovina. In the Bosnian towns of Prozor and Vitez, local education officials decided that instruction in primary schools will be based on those in Croatia. Muslims have protested the decision saying Muslim children would not attend schools modeled on those of another state. The majority population in Vitez is Muslim, but all authority is in the hands of the Croats. On 14 September Radio Bosnia-Herzegovina reported the republic's Constitutional Court passed a decision saying that the establishment of the "Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna" on 18 November 1991 was illegal. The Bosnian authorities have also earlier condemned successionist moves by Serbian groups. Vecerniji list on 15 September, however, quoted Bosnia's vice president as playing down reports of tensions between Muslims and Croats. (Milan Andrejevich) MACEDONIAN BORDER SECURITY TIGHTENED. As a response to the ongoing Bosnian war and fear that it might spread to the Republic of Macedonia, the Skopje government has decided to strengthen security along its 240-km border with Serbia, Reuters and Makpres report. The move came just after a CSCE mission recommended patrols along the border to help head off expansion of the war there. Evidently only main highways until now have had border checkpoints. Military personnel will soon begin construction of defense facilities along the border according to Nova Makedonija. The CSCE patrols, which would augment the frontier guard force, may be composed of civilian observers. (Duncan Perry) SERBIAN PREELECTION SCENE. On 14 September round-table talks between the rump Yugoslav government and opposition parties resulted in the adoption of parts of a declaration on the electoral system and the financing of upcoming elections. The adoption of these documents will be placed on the federal assembly's agenda on 18 September. The remaining aspects of the declaration referring to the role of the media are also slated for debate soon. Meanwhile, Zoran Andjelkovic, a leading official in the ruling Socialist Party (SPS) stated on 15 September that Slobodan Milosevic, in addition to his candidature for SPS chairman, will run as "the SPS candidate in the forthcoming elections for the most responsible state functions in the republic." Andjelkovic did not elaborate. Radio Serbia carried the reports. (Milan Andrejevich) DEMONSTRATIONS OVER HUNGARIAN TV PRESIDENT. According to a 14 September Radio Budapest report, two demonstrations are being organized involving Elemer Hankiss, the president of Hungarian TV. Hankiss was dismissed by Prime Minister Jozsef Antall earlier this year, but President Arpad Goncz refused to sign the dismissal order. The first demonstration--against Hankiss--is organized by the Committee for Free Hungarian Information, which includes some journalists, members of the World Federation of Hungarians Fighting in 1956, and some chapters of the Hungarian Democratic Forum and the Christian Democratic Peoples' Party. The demonstration will start next Saturday and, organizers say, will last until Hankiss remains in office. The second demonstration--in support of Hankiss--is organized by artists and reportedly more resembles a picnic than a political event. (Judith Pataki) ROMANIA TIGHTENS VISA RULES FOR THIRD WORLD. Romanian Interior Minister Victor Babiuc announced on 15 September that Romania will tighten visa regulations for 24 countries in an effort to curb illegal immigration. Under the new rules, citizens of those countries need an invitation from a Romanian citizen or firm, and these must assume financial responsibility for the visitors. Albania is the only European country on the list; the others are mostly Arab and Third World countries. Western agencies quoted Babiuc as saying that many foreigners are using Romania as a springboard to the West. There are currently some 30,000 foreigners in Romania who have overstayed their tourist visas. (Dan Ionescu) NATIONALIST PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE BESIEGED IN TIMISOARA. Some 2,000 protesters jeered Romanian presidential candidate Gheorghe Funar in Timisoara. Funar, the mayor of Cluj, is running on the ticket of the Party for Romanian National Unity (PRNU), the political arm of the extreme nationalist Vatra romaneasca ("Romanian Hearth") organization. The protesters shouted "Communist" and "Fascist" and threw fruit and vegetables at Funar while he was laying a wreath at a monument outside the cathedral in Timisoara to honor those killed in the December 1989 revolution. Many carried signs hailing the Democratic Convention, the main opposition alliance. Radio Bucharest carried a PRNU statement condemning the incident. (Dan Ionescu) GORBUNOVS IS LATVIA'S INTERIM HEAD OF STATE. On 15 September the Supreme Council ruled that the chairman of the Supreme Council will serve as head of state until the Saeima (parliament) convenes. Saeima deputies are still to be elected and an election date has not been set, though elections are expected to take place in the fall of 1993. The functions of the head of state are representational. This decision supplements the law on the duties and functions of the Supreme Council that was adopted on 5 August and does not grant new powers to Supreme Council Chairman Anatolijs Gorbunovs, Radio Riga reports. (Dzintra Bungs) PRESIDENTIAL POLL IN LITHUANIA. On 15 September BNS reported on the results of a poll conducted in late August and early September by the Sociological Research Laboratory of the University of Vilnius. The leading candidate for president is parliament chairman Vytautas Landsbergis with 31% of the poll, followed by Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party chairman Algirdas Brazauskas with 19% and Lithuanian chargé d'affaires in Moscow Egidijus Bickauskas with 5%. When asked who they would like to see in the new parliament, 20% of the respondents mentioned Brazauskas, 18%--Landsbergis, and 12%--Bickauskas. BNS gave no margin of error for the poll. (Saulius Girnius) IMF APPROVES FIRST CREDIT FOR LATVIA. On 15 September Latvia became the first of the former USSR republics to achieve a full stand-by arrangement with the International Monetary Fund, making it eligible to draw loans of up to about $81 million over the coming year. The credit is meant to support a comprehensive economic reform that includes continued price liberalization and a speeded-up privatization process. The IMF says that without outside help Latvia's "decline in output and employment could be significantly larger than anticipated," RFL/RL correspondent reported on 16 September from Washington. (Dzintra Bungs) DIFFICULTIES WITH LITHUANIA-RUSSIA TRADE AGREEMENT. During a meeting in Moscow on 18 September, Lithuanian Prime Minister Aleksandras Abisala and Russia's acting Prime Minister Egor Gaidar were expected to sign a long-term trade agreement. On 15 September, citing unofficial sources, BNS said that the meeting had been postponed to 22 September at Lithuania's request. Deputy chairman of the Lithuanian Parliament Ceslovas Stankevicius, who heads the state delegation for negotiations with Moscow, had earlier told BNS that although agreements on mutual accounting and payments were ready for signing, Russia's proposals on trade required further discussion since Russia suggested quotas and licenses that would allow it to introduce certain limitations that were unacceptable since Lithuania wanted a real "free trade agreement." (Saulius Girnius) EC TALKS ABOUT BALTS. The European Parliament in Strasbourg has delayed a vote on commercial and trade agreements with the Baltic States by one month. Europarliament socialist delegate Gary Titley from the UK told an RFE/RL correspondent on 15 September that the vote was delayed because of concern over Estonia's constitutional referendum, citizenship law, and election law. Officials from the Europarliament Secretariat, however, told the RFE/RL Estonian Service on 16 September that the delay is "purely technical." The draft agreement was submitted to the Foreign Trade Commission, which must approve all agreements before they are considered by the parliament. (Riina Kionka) ESTONIA'S JOBLESS RALLY FOR "HUMAN RIGHTS." About 1000 demonstrators rallied in support of "human rights" in Narva on 15 September, Estonian TV reports. The demonstration, organized by a group calling itself the Estonian Association of the Unemployed, demanded that the government "restore economic ties with Russia and CIS member states in order to cut unemployment" in formerly all-union factories, BNS reports. Unemployment in Estonia is currently at an all-time high of 0.5%. Over 90% of Estonia's current trade is with CIS member states. (Riina Kionka) POLISH GOVERNMENT SAVORS VICTORY IN FSM STRIKE. As the FSM auto plant began preparations to resume production, Deputy Prime Minister Henryk Goryszewski commented that "for the first time, a strike has ended in something other than a victory for the strikers; this time, the public and its democratic state won out." The strikers abandoned all wage demands and accepted the terms of an agreement negotiated between the management and the trade unions on 29 July, shortly after the strike began. This gives them limited raises as soon as Fiat takes over the plant. Workers will also receive loans from local authorities. Management has agreed not to take disciplinary action against strike participants, and to consider rehiring the 347 strike activists fired during the strike. Both sides agreed to help speed Fiat's assumption of control. (Louisa Vinton) POLAND'S ECONOMY GROWS, BUT SO DOES DEFICIT. Poland's industrial output in August was 6.8% higher than in August 1991, the Main Statistical Office reported on 14 September. Industrial production for the first eight months of 1992 was just 0.8% below last year's level. Economists from the Main Trade School reported that Poland had not experienced the typical summer slowdown in economic activity. Prospects for the rest of 1992 are good: firms and banks report that new orders are up, while indebtedness and inventories are down. Investment in machines and equipment rose in August for the first time in a year. Deputy Finance Minister Wojciech Misiag said on 14 September that the government had already decided to ask the Sejm to revise the 1992 budget to deal with the larger than predicted deficit. Misiag said a 30 trillion zloty ($2 billion) shortfall was likely. PAP reported that the unemployment rate at the end of August was 13.4%. More than one-third of the unemployed are not entitled to benefits. (Louisa Vinton) POLISH DEFENSE MINISTRY OPPOSES LUSTRATION. Deputy Defense Minister Bronislaw Komorowski told the Sejm's defense commission on 15 September that passage of the "decommunization" laws now under consideration would mean "the loss of virtually the entire command structure of the Polish army." Only two generals--one the military bishop, the other an academic worker--would survive the process. Noting that 14,000 officers had been removed in 1990-91, ministry officials argued that further cuts would undermine Poland's defense capability. Proponents of lustration charged the defense ministry with attempting to remove the army from parliamentary supervision, but a majority of the Sejm commission seemed to agree that the armed forces deserved special treatment. The commission thus asked to participate in deliberations on the six draft bills now before the Sejm. (Louisa Vinton)
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.