|When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years. - Mark Twain|
No. 179, 17 September 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR ABKHAZ UPDATE. Georgian troops and Abkhaz National Guardsmen clashed near the Black Sea town of Gagra on 16 September despite the new ceasefire agreement due to take effect at midnight on 15 September, Reuters reported quoting local journalists. Under the terms of the new agreement, all troops subordinate to the Confederation of Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus must leave Georgian territory within ten days. The first plenary meeting of the CIS inter-parliamentary assembly in Bishkek issued a statement expressing concern that the armed conflict in Abkhazia could spread to neighboring states and calling for the disengagement of troops and an immediate ceasefire, ITAR-TASS reported. It also called on CIS member states to provide humanitarian aid to Abkhazia. (Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc.) KAZAKH-MEDIATED KARABAKH PEACE TALKS FAIL. A meeting in Alma-Ata on 16 September between Armenian and Azerbaijani working groups ended in deadlock after the Azerbaijani delegation announced that it was not empowered to conduct negotiations and proposed a meeting between the Presidents of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, ITAR-TASS reported. The Armenians agreed in principle on the condition that the Azerbaijani side first respond to the ceasefire proposal made on 25 August by Italian mediator Mario Raffaelli. A further round of talks was scheduled for early October. (Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc.) FALL IN RUSSIAN TRADE VOLUME CONTINUES. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations reports that the volume of foreign trade over the first eight months of this year is 27% less than that of the same period last year. The report, carried by ITAR-TASS on 16 September, indicated that trade with former socialist countries (former members of the COMECON trading group) remains the weakest, down 48%. Trade with developed industrial and developing nations was down 21% and 20% respectively. This year's trade deficit at the end of August was $200 million, which is an improvement over the deficit of $700 billion at the end of July, but way down from last year's January-to-August surplus of $6 billion. (Erik Whitlock, RFE/RL, Inc.) LIBERAL REFORMISTS ATTACK GAIDAR. Two leading Russian reformers have attacked the leadership of acting Prime Minister Egor Gaidar. Grigorii Yavlinski told the Italian newspaper La Stampa on 16 September that the "center"--by which he meant the Russian leadership--has already lost control over the political and economic processes at the periphery. According to him, Russia will soon disintegrate if the executive does not change its policy and reestablish its lost authority in the regions. Meanwhile, the Russian Minister of Economics, Andrei Nechaev, told Ostankino TV on the same day that his ministry has provided Gaidar's cabinet a new economic project because Gaidar has no clear reform concept of his own. (Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, Inc.) FORMER SOVIET DISSIDENT'S TESTIMONY STRICKEN BY CONSTITUTIONAL COURT. On 16 September, former Soviet dissident, Pyotr Abovin-Egides, testified as an expert witness on behalf of the communist party (CPSU), Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported. In a rousing defense of the CPSU, he attacked Russian President Yeltsin as well as former Soviet President Gorbachev and the coup leaders, arguing that, thanks to them, "the West won the third world war without a single shot." Abovin-Egides said the ban should be lifted since it "sows cruelty and hatred, intolerance of ideology, extremism, bitterness, confrontation and social disparity." After a short recess, however, the court struck the dissident's testimony from the record because Abovin-Egides had failed to speak about the issues and had abused his rights as an expert witness by making ideological rather than legal arguments. Court Chairman Valerii Zorkin repeated an earlier warning to both parties in the case on the inadmissibility of anti-constitutional proclamations and political evaluations. (Carla Thorson, RFE/RL, Inc.) RUSSIA SUPPORTS PANIC, UN MEMBERSHIP FOR RUMP YUGOSLAVIA. Following talks on 16 September with the prime minister of Serbia-Montenegro, Milan Panic, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev told reporters that Russia wants "the new Yugoslavia, that of Milan Panic, to receive international recognition and to occupy a worthy place in the family of civilized free peoples." Kozyrev added that Russia fully supports Panic's intention to apply for a UN seat for the "new Yugoslavia," and he stressed that Russia will do everything possible to see "full membership of a peaceful democratic Yugoslavia at the United Nations." (Suzanne Crow, RFE/RL, Inc.) RUTSKOI ON KOZYREV. Russian Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi is quoted by Interfax on 15 September as saying that Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev will remain in his job. Two months ago, Rutskoi had openly declared that he insists on the dismissal of Kozyrev. But he asserted that other reform-minded government members may be replaced at the next parliamentary session which is opening on 22 September. Rutskoi stated that the atmosphere at the session will be "tense" because of "conflicting opinions over developments in the Russian economy." (Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, Inc.) RUSSIAN DECREE ON TAIWAN. Russian President Boris Yeltsin signed a decree on 15 September on "Relations Between the Russian Federation and Taiwan," ITAR-TASS reported on 16 September. The decree was issued, according to its text, because of "differing interpretations of the position of the Russian leadership with regard to Taiwan." To clarify the Russian position, the decree states: "In its policy, Russia proceeds from the premise that only one China exists and that Taiwan is an indivisible part of it. Because of this, Russia does not maintain official interstate relations with Taiwan." (Suzanne Crow, RFE/RL, Inc.) CIS INTERPARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY ENDS FIRST SESSION. The first session of the newly created Interparliamentary Assembly of CIS states in Bishkek ended with the adoptation of an Assembly statute and the formation of five Assembly Commissions: for legal affairs, economics and finance, social politics and human rights, environmental problems, and security, ITAR-TASS reported on 16 September. Ruslan Khasbulatov said that his election as first chairman of the Assembly demonstrates that the other CIS states trust Russia. He stated that the Assembly is scheduled to become a supranational parliamentary organ which will "neutralize many of the negative processes characteristic of the CIS." (Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, Inc.) CIS SUMMIT DELAYED. The leaders of Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Belarus have decided to postpone the next summit of CIS state and government leaders which had been scheduled for 24-25 September to 9 October, ITAR-TASS reported on 16 September. According to a statement issued by the Kyrgyzstan president's press service, CIS leaders want to further examine some documents which will be discussed at the summit in Bishkek. (Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, Inc.) RUSSIAN BUSINESSMEN CALL FOR PARLIAMENT DISSOLUTION. Speaking at a press conference in Moscow on 16 September, the co-chairman of Russia's Party of Economic Freedom, Konstantin Borovoi, said his party supports the dissolution of the Russian Congress of People's Deputies and the parliament, Interfax reported. He said a constituent assembly should be set up instead. Borovoi accused the congress and the parliament of blocking economic reforms in Russia. He said he believed that at the next session the Congress would try to force Boris Yeltsin to resign. Borovoi said his party supports the idea of holding a referendum on the dissolution of the congress. (Vera Tolz, RFE/RL, Inc.) MINISTERS VISIT NUCLEAR TEST SITE. Pavel Grachev and Viktor Mikhailov, the Russian Ministers of Defense and Atomic Energy, respectively, arrived on 16 September at the nuclear test site on the arctic island of Novaya Zemlya. They joined the Commander in Chief of the Russian Navy, Admiral Feliks Gromov, who had arrived the day before. ITAR-TASS reported that the purpose of the visit was to investigate both the state of the technology at the test site and to inquire into problems facing personnel stationed on the island. Since the shutting down of the Semipalatinsk nuclear testing site in Kazakhstan, Novaya Zemlya has been viewed by the Russian government as the likely main site for any future nuclear arms tests. (Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc.) MORE SQUABBLES OVER BLACK SEA FLEET. According to Interfax reports on 15 and 16 September, a disagreement has broken out between Ukrainian and Russian military authorities over the disposition of two Naval academies in Sevastopol. Ukraine apparently wants to take control of the schools, while Russian officials contend that previous agreements place the academies under CIS jurisdiction. Interfax also reported on 16 September that Black Sea Fleet commander Igor Kasatonov has protested what he says are attempts by Kiev to transfer parts of the Kerchensko-Feodosisky naval base to Ukrainian jurisdiction. On the same day, the commander of the Black Sea Fleet from 1983-1985, Aleksei Kalinin, said on Sevastopol radio that Ukrainian Defense Minister Konstantyn Morozov ought to be dismissed for what he described as illegal actions leading to the weakening of the fleet. (Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc.) RUSSIAN TROOPS TO LEAVE CUBA BY MID-1993. The Cuban government announced on 16 September that the Russian troops still stationed in Cuba will be withdrawn by the middle of 1993. Western agency accounts quoted the official announcement as saying the presence of the troops had lost its meaning. The Soviets had what was known as a "training brigade" stationed in Cuba as well as a number of military advisors and a large intelligence facility. When the formal talks on withdrawing these troops began in September 1991, there were some 8,000 Soviet military and intelligence personnel in Cuba. In February of this year the Russians announced that the "training brigade" had been unilateraly cut from 2,800 to 2,150 men. (Doug Clarke, RFE/RL, Inc.) RUSSIA TO PAY INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY DEBTS. Western agencies reported that Russia promised to pay its outstanding debts to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The announcement was made to the agency's board of governors on 16 September at their meeting in Vienna. As the legal successor to the Soviet Union in the IAEA, Russia must also pay outstanding contributions for 1991. The reports said that Russia is responsible for around 13% of the agency's yearly budget of $186 million, or some $24 million per year. Russia would loose its voting rights in the agency should the debts remain unpaid. (Doug Clarke, RFE/RL, Inc.) RUSSIAN AIRCRAFT COMPANY FORGES AMERICAN TIES. The Russian Yakovlev Design Bureau has established a joint collaborative business alliance with an American aircraft engine manufacturer, Textron Lycoming's Turbine Engine Division. According to a 15 September company press release at the Farnborough air show in England, the American company will initially supply turbofan engines to replace the present engines on the small YAK-40 regional airliner. Lycoming could also supply the engines for the next-generation YAK-48 executive business aircraft. (Doug Clarke, RFE/RL, Inc.) "RUKH" LEADERSHIP MEETS. The leadership of "Rukh" met on 12 September and decided to convene a session of its Grand Council on 19 September, DR-Press reported on 13 September. The Grand Council will discuss questions related to the convening of the Fourth Congress of "Rukh," which should be held at the end of October. (Roman Solchanyk, RFE/RL, Inc.) GERMAN "REBIRTH" SOCIETY IN UKRAINE. The "Rebirth" society, which groups together members of the German minority in the former Soviet Union, held its official presentation in Kiev on 15 September, Radio Ukraine reported. The Kiev branch of "Rebirth" works closely with the German Cultural Union, which has forty-two centers in the former Soviet Union. The group's aim is to unite all Germans interested in their history and culture. (Roman Solchanyk, RFE/RL, Inc.) ECONOMIC IMPACT OF WAR IN TAJIKISTAN. The turmoil and fighting in Tajikistan during the last four months has caused a serious worsening of economic conditions in the country. ITAR-TASS reported on 16 September that a lack of fuel in Dushanbe has caused interruptions in public transport and in deliveries of food to the capital. Tajikistan may be in for a difficult winter. Foreign correspondents have reported seeing crops neglected in the fields while rural people were fighting for or against the now-deposed President Rakhmon Nabiev. (Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc.) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA TOPS THE CSCE PRAGUE MEETING'S AGENDA. Representatives of the 52 states participating in the CSCE process convened in Prague on 16 September for a three-day meeting. An RFE/RL corespondent reports that the meeting will hear reports by special investigators on the situation in Serb-controlled detention camps, and on the possibility of the civil war in Bosnia-Herzegovina spilling over into the Serbian province of Kosovo and the independent Republic of Macedonia. CSTK reports that Macedonia's application to join the CSCE process was rejected at the meeting. The meeting will also focus on the situation in Moldova and Nagorno-Karabakh. (Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc.) MAZOWIECKI ON FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. Speaking at a press conference in Prague on 16 September, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, former Polish prime minister and currently a special UN rapporteur for human rights in former Yugoslavia, said that human rights are being widely violated on the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Muslims in particular are victims of wide-spread human rights abuses as well as of ethnic genocide. According to Mazowiecki, the situation is most serious in concentration camps and besieged towns. Mazowiecki proposed the creation of an independent press agency, which would inform about the situation in former Yugoslavia in an objective manner. He warned that the conflict could easily spread to Kosovo, Vojvodina, and the Sandzak. Mazowiecki ruled out military intervention in Bosnia but suggested that UN peacekeeping troops be strengthened so that they can intervene when needed. (Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc.) LITTLE-KNOWN SIEGE OF NORTHERN BOSNIAN TOWN CONTINUES. The 17 September Washington Post reports that Serbian forces around Sarajevo continued "their three-day-old tank offensive" against the Bosnian capital on 16 September, despite UN pleas to register the tanks with monitors. The Croatian media in recent days, for their part, have also been reporting on the months-old siege of Gradacac in northern Bosnia, which is on the strategic route connecting Serbia with Serb-held areas of Bosnia and Croatia but where there are no Western correspondents. Croatian military and local Muslims have successfully resisted intensified Serbian shelling, which has destroyed over 80% of the mainly Muslim town, including its landmark medieval tower and central mosques. The local Croatian commander said that the spirit of Croat and Muslim defenders was good. Elsewhere, Slobodna Dalmacija on 16 September said that Cardinal Franjo Kuharic consecrated Herzegovina's new archbishop on 13 September in Neum, with Muslim leaders, including the Mufti of Herzegovina, in attendance. (Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc.) BOSNIAN CROAT LEADER REJECTS COURT DECISION. Mate Boban, president of the self-proclaimed state of Herceg-Bosna and chairman of the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) in Bosnia-Herzegovina, said that a ruling by the Constitutional Court of Bosnia-Herzegovina annulling a decision by the Croats to form their own republic in Bosnia-Herzegovina is "completely unconstitutional." The "Community of Herceg-Bosna," established in November 1991 and comprising municipalities in the south of Bosnia-Herzegovina where Croats are the majority population, declared itself an independent state on 3 July. Sarajevo Radio quoted Boban on 15 September as saying that his party will "ignore" the court's ruling. Srecko Vucina, spokesman for the Croatian Defense Council (HVO) in Mostar, indignantly rejected the ruling, which he says "seeks to discredit everything that the HDZ and HVO have done so far in the defense of the area around Mostar and Herceg-Bosna." (Milan Andrejevich, RFE/RL, Inc.) HIGH-RANKING ROMANIAN OFFICIAL IN BELGRADE. Teodor Melescanu, a state secretary in the Foreign Affairs Ministry, arrived in Belgrade on 16 September. In an interview with Radio Bucharest, Melescanu said that he discussed issues of mutual interest with officials in Belgrade, including recent Western initiatives to exclude the Yugoslav rump state from the UN. In a separate development, Traian Chebeleu, a spokesman for the foreign ministry, reafirmed his country's willingness to accept foreign observers to monitor the traffic to and from Serbia and Montenegro. (Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL, Inc.) ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY PROTESTS LEBED STATEMENT. On 16 September spokesman Traian Chebeleu said a recent statement by Gen. Aleksandr Lebed, commander of the 14th Russian Army in Moldova, may cause serious harm to Romanian-Russian relations. On Moscow's "Ostankino" TV on 14 September Lebed reportedly described the Romanian flag as "the flag of [Marshall Ion] Antonescu and Romanian fascists." Chebeleu said he finds such statements "irresponsible and insulting" to Romania. Romanian Foreign Minister Adrian Nastase summoned the Russian ambassador to Bucharest to protest Lebed's statement. (Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL, Inc.) POLISH PRIVATIZATION MINISTER UNDER FIRE. The Sejm voted on 17 September to consider a motion to dismiss Privatization Minister Janusz Lewandowski, who served in the same post for most of 1991. The motion was submitted by the Confederation for an Independent Poland (KPN) on the basis of a report by the Supreme Chamber of Control (NIK), Poland's central auditing institution. The government coalition parties say they will oppose the motion, and Solidarity deputies condemned the KPN's attack on Lewandowski as "a political game." NIK officials admitted on 16 September that their criterion for evaluating the ministry's performance was the letter of the law, not economic rationality. They also conceded that their inspectors were not experts in privatization. Lewandowski has argued that legal shortcuts were unavoidable in a system where private business was just taking root. The Sejm is also scheduled to debate the government's mass privatization program. (Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc.) POLISH GOVERNMENT SETS "PACT" TIMETABLE. Meeting with union representatives on 16 September, labor ministry officials proposed that negotiations on the government's draft "pact on state firms" conclude by the end of the month. Signing would be possible by the end of October. The labor ministry recommended that the unions send a joint representation to the talks; this would be a major departure for Solidarity, which has refused to negotiate in tandem with the former procommunist OPZZ federation. The government's economic committee recommended setting as a target the production of at least 50% of GDP (excluding agriculture) by private firms by the end of 1994. The committee also recommended shutting down seven of Poland's 26 steel mills by 2002, which would eliminate 80,000 jobs. (Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc.) HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT EVALUATES LAST TWO YEARS. In a speech to Parliament on 16 September, Prime Minister Jozsef Antall drew a positive balance of the performance of his government during its first two years in office, MTI and Radio Budapest report. He stressed in particular that the legal framework needed for a state based on the rule of law has been created through the parliament's legislative activity and that the government has successfully adjusted its foreign and economic policy to the changing international environment. Antall admitted that economic problems remain and that the government has to take unpopular measures in switching from a command to a market economy. He stressed, however, that his government has been able to keep the country solvent and has launched the largest and most successful privatization program in all of Eastern Europe. (Edith Oltay, RFE/RL, Inc.) ESTONIAN ELECTION UPDATE. The Estonian Ministry of Internal Affairs plans no special security measures in northeastern Estonia for the 20 September parliamentary and presidential elections. Deputy Minister Juri Kaljuvee told BNS on 16 September that he does not expect any provocations that day because local authorities "have realized that the prospects for international cooperation are better in Estonia than in Russia." Meanwhile, Lennart Meri, a presidential candidate and former foreign minister, has received a positive response from Council of Europe Secretary-General Catherine Lalumière on the establishment of a special international commission to look into charges against his father, diplomat Georg Meri. Lennart Meri proposed convening a special commission after widespread reports last week that Georg Meri was a KGB operative in the interwar period. In his letter to Lalumière, Lennart Meri said that the charges brought against his father "are absolutely false, but have been arranged in order to undermine my [presidential] candidacy," BNS reports. (Riina Kionka, RFE/RL, Inc.) LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT SESSION. At its 15 September meeting the Supreme Council two deputy speakers, Laima Andrikiene and Ceslovas Jursenas, were reelected, Radio Lithuania reports. Two laws--on competition and on the bankruptcy of enterprises--were passed and will go into effect on 1 November. Economics Minister Albertas Simenas noted that the purpose of the competition law is to prevent the formation of monopolies and thus allow consumers. to purchase goods at lower prices. An agency will be formed to monitor prices and a council composed of producer, consumer, and government representatives will apply sanctions when necessary. (Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc.) LITHUANIAN MODERATE MOVEMENT. On 16 September representatives of the Moderate Movement held a briefing at the Parliament, BNS reports. The movement intends to present a general list of 27 candidates for the Seimas elections who will also compete in single mandate districts. The list is headed by parliament deputy Eugenijus Gentvilas and includes in its top ten Albertas Simenas, Minister without Portfolio Stasys Kropas, and Zigmas Vaisvila, a former deputy prime minister. The movement's election program calls for 350 of the largest enterprises not to be privatized. Smaller businesses would be privatized under this plan, and foreign investors would be given the right to purchase the land on which the enterprise stands. (Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc.) STOLOJAN PLEDGES MORE SECURITY IN THE ELECTORAL CAMPAIGN. At a cabinet meeting on 16 September, Romanian Prime Minister Theodor Stolojan ordered increased security for presidential candidates. The move followed an attack on nationalist candidate Gheorghe Funar in Timisoara the previous day. Funar, who runs on the ticket of the Party for Romanian National Unity, had to be rescued by police from a crowd of about 2,000 jeering protesters. In a separate statement broadcast by Radio Bucharest, the government deplored the incident and urged the Timisoara police to identify the culprits. (Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL, Inc.) PARFENOV TRIAL STARTS IN RIGA. The trial of Sergei Parfenov, former deputy commander of OMON units in Riga, opened on 16 September, Radio Riga reports. Parfenov is charged with abuse of power and will have to answer for attacks against civilians by members of OMON, a special force under the jurisdiction of the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs, in Sigulda and the Vecmilgravis section of Riga in 1990 and Ainazi in 1991. Parfenov, who considers himself a Russian citizen and his supporters in Tyumen region want the case to be tried in Russia, while the Latvian authorities, who obtained his extradition from Tyumen, believe that the trial should be held in Latvia. (Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc.) BALTIC COUNCIL APPEALS TO CSCE. Leaders of the three Baltic States have appealed to the CSCE to not let up pressure for withdrawal of Russian troops from their territories because of the recent Russian-Lithuanian agreement for early pullout, BNS reports. In the joint communiqué issued by the Baltic Council after its 16 September Tallinn meeting, council members state that the Helsinki Declaration requirements can be considered fulfilled only when agreements [similar to that with Lithuania] are concluded and the whole of the Russian military has left all the Baltic States. (Riina Kionka, RFE/RL, Inc.) LATVIAN SUPREME COUNCIL ON RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA. On 15 September the Supreme Council adopted guidelines for further negotiations with Russia regarding the withdrawal of troops. Diena of 15 September says the document calls for the unconditional withdrawal of all troops by the end of 1993; the recognition that Latvia has borders that have been fixed and recognized by international treaties (especially the Latvian-Russian peace treaty of 11 August 1922); no naturalization of new citizens as long as a foreign army is present in Latvia; and the necessity of Russian forces in Latvia to act according to regulations approved by the Supreme Council. (Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc.) LATVIAN-POLISH DEFENSE ACCORD SIGNED. On 16 September in Riga Polish Minister of Defense Janusz Onyszkiewicz signed a military cooperation accord, Radio Riga reports. Details were not reported. During his three-day visit to Latvia, Onyszkiewicz met with Latvian officials and saw military training facilities at Sigulda and the naval harbor in Liepaja. (Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc.) DUBCEK'S CONDITION STILL SERIOUS. Two weeks after the car crash in which he broke his spine, ribs, and pelvis, Alexander Dubcek, leader of the 1968 Prague Spring and former chairman of the Czechoslovak parliament, is still too ill to have further surgery. Dubcek underwent an operation on his spine immediately after the 1 September accident. A statement from the Prague hospital treating Dubcek, released by CSTK on 15 September, says that another operation, as well as long-term rehabilitation, can take place only after stabilization of the patient's condition and after he is transferred to a specialized clinic. (Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc.)
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