|The only thing one knows about human nature is that it changes. - Oscar Wilde|
No. 180, 18 September 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR KULYAB APPEALS FOR CIS TROOPS. The authorities in Tajikistan's Kulyab Oblast, a stronghold of support for deposed President Rakhmon Nabiev, have appealed to the leaders of the Central Asian states and Russia to send CIS troops to stop the fighting in Tajikistan, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 September. Nabiev had asked for a CIS peacekeeping force prior to his fall. The opposition found the request provocative, but in recent days several government and opposition figures have suggested that CIS military help may be necessary to restore stability in the country. On 17 September, the government asked a CIS division stationed in Tajikistan to help local Internal Affairs forces guard important installations; the same day, ITAR-TASS reported that Kulyab guards had taken control of the Nurek dam. (Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc.) SHEVARDNADZE CRITICIZES ABKHAZ MONITORING COMMISSION. Georgian State Council Chairman Eduard Shevardnadze travelled to Sukhumi on 17 September, where he criticized as "ineffective" the tripartite commission set up to monitor the 3 September Abkhaz ceasefire agreement, Interfax reported. Shevardnadze complained that fighters subordinate to the Confederation of Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus still remain in Abkhazia. Speaking on Georgian television, Georgian Defense Minister Tengiz Kitovani stated that Georgia "will use force" if the troops in question do not leave Georgia within ten days, Radio Rossii reported. A Turkish foreign ministry spokesman stated on 17 September that Turkey will send 15 tons of food aid and medical equipment to Muslims in Abkhazia, Western agencies reported. (Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc.) RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY WARNS GEORGIA. A statement issued by the Russian Defense Ministry on 17 September charged that Russian troops and civilians in Georgia were being repeatedly attacked by Georgian units, and warned that Russian forces reserve the right to fight back. In particular, the Defense Ministry has blamed Georgia for a helicopter attack that occurred last month on a hydrofoil carrying Russian refugees and vacationers. While the Defense Ministry claims to have "irrefutable proof" that Georgia was behind the attack, Georgia has denied involvement. The exchange was reported by ITAR-TASS and Western agencies. (Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc.) YELTSIN DECREE RAISES ENERGY PRICES. Russian President Boris Yeltsin signed a much-anticipated decree raising basic energy prices, various Russian and Western news agencies reported on 17 September. Prices on oil products will double from the current price of 1,800-2,200 rubles. Coal prices will rise 30%. According to ITAR-TASS, the decree also eliminates the ceiling on oil prices, replacing it with a tax structure that discourages setting prices in excess of 4000 rubles. The report was not clear on details of the new price-setting rules. To soften the impact on consumers, the decree calls on the government to raise price subsidies for household energy consumption, transportation, and basic agricultural goods. Commenting on the inflationary impact of the decree, government economic advisor Aleksei Ulyukaev said that the government predicted an economy-wide increase in prices of 20-25%. (Erik Whitlock, RFE/RL, Inc.) GERASHCHENKO WARNS OF DRASTIC BUDGET CUTS. Outspoken Russian Central Bank Chairman Viktor Gerashchenko claims that the government may be forced to make big cuts in spending in October, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 September. He said that the government had as yet only collected 40% of the revenue planned for the year. Therefore, he asserted, "we may be forced to simply restrict the expenditure side of the budget and keep it within the limits of collected revenues." Gerashchenko suggested that the budget cuts would be across-the-board and include social programs. The government has recently predicted a 1992 year-end deficit of about 1 trillion rubles, significantly higher than the one approved in its original budget. (Erik Whitlock, RFE/RL, Inc.) GOVERNMENT UNDER ATTACK. Acting Prime Minister Egor Gaidar was quoted by the Russian TV program "Vesti" on 17 September as saying that the government has lost its ability to maneuver. Gaidar's first deputy, Vladimir Shumeiko, told journalists that some personal changes will soon be conducted in the government, Ostankino TV reported on 16 September. The right-wing parliamentary opposition bloc "Russian Unity" demanded the convening of an extraordinary congress which would replace the government, according to ITAR-TASS on 17 September. The foreign edition of ITAR-TASS's newspaper 24 reported on 17 September that a decree for the appointment of Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi as prime minister has already been prepared by President Yeltsin. (Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, Inc.) STANKEVICH FOR COALITION GOVERNMENT. Presidential advisor Sergei Stankevich told Rossiiskie vesti on 17 September that he favors the establishment of a coalition government which would include representatives of the Civic Union and the democrats, but he did not rule out the possibility of forming a more right-wing coalition without the democrats. He criticized Gaidar's government for its adherence to macroeconomic theories, and said he supported the more cautious reform approach of the Civic Union. He listed his major political achievements as follows: successfully convincing President Yeltsin to adopt policies that strengthen the Russian state, solving the crisis in the Trans-Dniester region, and drawing greater public attention to the problems which Russians are experiencing in the non-Russian former Soviet republics. (Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, Inc.) GAIDAR ON INCREASING ARMS EXPORTS. Prime Minister Egor Gaidar, currently touring various cities in Russia, said in Tula that the government would permit increased arms exports, according to Russian news agencies on 16 and 17 September. Gaidar suggested that weapons producers would be allowed to directly contract with foreigners for the sale of output, as long as the deals in question were not covered by state orders and were approved by the government. He emphasized that increasing the opportunities for sales abroad would not mean weakening government control and supervision of weapons exports. (Erik Whitlock, RFE/RL, Inc.) LAWYER DEFENDS COMMUNIST PARTY IN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT. Speaking on 17 September at the Constitutional Court hearings on the Communist Party, Defense Attorney Boris Lazarev said Yeltsin's decrees first suspending and then banning the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and Russian Communist Party were illegal, since at the time of their adoption only the Soviet Supreme Court had the right to make decisions on the status of political parties. ITAR-TASS quoted Lazarev as calling Yeltsin's leadership "incompetent." Lazarev also rejected the accusation that the CPSU was "unconstitutional." The lawyer argued that there was no legislation in the country defining the "constitutional responsibilities of parties" at the time when Yeltsin's decrees were adopted. (Vera Tolz, RFE/RL, Inc.) CORRUPTION IN RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY? Vasilii Lipitsky, leader of the People's Party of Free Russia, commonly known as "the party of [Vice-President] Aleksandr Rutskoi," has appealed to President Yeltsin and the Russian parliament, requesting that they investigate corruption in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Writing in the 37th issue of Megapolis Express, Lipitsky says that representatives of his party had been unable to attend the current session of the Socialist International in Berlin, to which they had been invited, because the Foreign Ministry failed to provide them exit visas. Instead, they were advised to seek visas in a private "co-operative" firm, run by foreign ministry officials who sell exit visas for their private gain. The party, Lipitsky writes, refused to be served by such a "co-operative" out of principle. (Yeltsin's decree on the fight against corruption forbids governmental officials from becoming involved in commercial activities.) (Julia Wishnevsky, RFE/RL, Inc.) KHASBULATOV FAVORS GENERAL CIS CITIZENSHIP. The Chairman of the Interparliamentary Assembly, Ruslan Khasbulatov, favors the establishment of a common citizenship on the territory of those CIS member states who support the new Assembly, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 17 September. He also suggested that the Russian Foreign Economic Bank should take complete control of all CIS foreign currency accounts. Meanwhile, the Russian first deputy parliamentary speaker, Sergei Filatov, revealed in an interview with Moskovskie novosti (no.38) details on his political battle against Khasbulatov at the most recent Congress. Filatov attacked Khasbulatov for building a personal dictatorship in the parliament, and hinted that the speaker may soon be replaced. (Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, Inc.) LUKYANOV SAYS COUP LEADERS SHOULD HAVE BEEN MORE DECISIVE. Former Soviet parliament chairman, Anatolii Lukyanov, who is now in jail on charges of participating in the attempted coup last year, gave an interview to Nezavisimaya gazeta on 17 September. Lukyanov said that he would act more decisively if the August events were repeated today. He said that the Committee for the State of Emergency, which tried to seize power after putting Gorbachev under house arrest in August 1991, was poorly conceived and organized. (Lukyanov was not a member of the committee). Lukyanov said the committee's actions were not a coup but rather an attempt to rescue the Soviet socialist system. He said that he still supports "full-blown Soviet power and a renovated Soviet federation." (Vera Tolz, RFE/RL, Inc.) NO RUSSIAN NAVAL BASE AT NOVOROSSIISK. Black Sea Fleet commander Admiral Igor Kasatonov said on 16 September that Russia has no plans to build a naval base in Novorossiisk because the port there is inadequate for heavy naval traffic. His comments come as Russian access to Ukrainian Black Sea ports is becoming increasingly limited and follows the evacuation of Russian naval personnel from the Georgian Black Sea port of Poti. (Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc.) MOROZOV ON UKRAINIAN MILITARY REFORM. Ukrainian Defense Minister Konstantin Morozov said in an interview in Krasnaya zvezda on 17 September that Kiev intends to build two operational commands on the basis of the three existing military districts in Ukraine. He also said that a new service -- the Air Defense Troops -- would be formed by combining two currently existing force branches (presumably the Air Force and Air Defense Forces. See Krasnaya zvezda, 5 September). The interview was summarized briefly by "Novosti." This past summer the commander of the Ukrainian Air Defense Forces, Lt. Gen. Mikhail Lopatin, had criticized proposals to subordinate his forces to the Air Force (see Krasnaya zvezda, 1 August). (Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc.) UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENTARIANS WANT TO KEEP MISSILES. At a conference in Washington on 16 September, members of the Ukrainian parliament indicated that Ukraine might balk on its pledges to transfer ex-Soviet long range ballistic missiles to Russia for destruction. According to a UPI account of the meeting, parliamentarian Yurii Kostenko said Ukraine must retain these weapons on its territory for "national security reasons." The Ukrainian legislators told the conference that the republic needed the considerable amount of hard currency that the enriched uranium in the warheads would bring on the open market. (The United States has recently agreed to buy the enriched uranium from Russian nuclear weapons in a deal that some experts estimate might ultimately be worth $5 billion.) Other CIS representatives at the conference cautioned that the Ukrainian statements were not those of the government. (Doug Clarke, RFE/RL, Inc.) COMPETING DEMONSTRATIONS IN KIEV. On 16 September, the second day of the new parliamentary session in Kiev, Ukrainian lawmakers arriving for work were greeted by demonstrators and pickets defending opposite points of view. DR-Press reports that in the morning war and labor veterans with red flags and portraits of Lenin were demanding an improvement of their overall situation. They were joined by activists from the Socialist Party of Ukraine and the "Toiling Ukraine" Association. Several hours later demonstrators from "Rukh" arrived with the national blue and yellow flag and stayed until the end of the day. In the meantime, the parliament discussed a package of economic legislation. (Roman Solchanyk, RFE/RL, Inc.) UN OBSERVERS INVITED TO TAJIKISTAN. The UN delegation that arrived in Tashkent earlier in the week in response to an urgent plea from Uzbek President Islam Karimov has received an invitation from the government of Tajikistan to visit that country as well, Khovar-TASS reported on 17 September. Karimov had asked the UN to send representatives to examine the destabilizing influence in the Central Asian region of recent events in Tajikistan. The invitation from the Tajik government promises that the visitors will be given an opportunity to meet leaders of a variety of political parties and movements. The Tajik authorities are presumably eager to present their version of events to the outside world. (Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc.) NAZARBAEV MEETS WITH KAZAKHSTAN'S GERMANS. On 17 September, on the eve of his official visit to Germany, Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev met with representatives of the country's German population and reiterated promises to do everything possible to make continued residence in Kazakhstan a more attractive option than emigration, KazTAG-TASS reported on 17 September. The German representatives requested that Nazarbaev raise the issue of assistance promised earlier by German government officials which has not materialized; they would also like to be able to travel to Germany without a visa. Nazarbaev earlier said that an autonomous German region would not be set up in Kazakhstan. (Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc.) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE IZETBEGOVIC PROTESTS SERB ATTACKS. The BBC on 17 September said that the Bosnian president urged the UN to take action in the wake of Serb air attacks on four Bosnian cities or towns. The Security Council is expected to discuss soon proposals for setting up a "no-fly zone" over the troubled republic, where only the Serbs have aircraft. Meanwhile, the Serbian bombardment of the Bosnian capital entered its fourth day, and Sarajevo Radio said that it was the worst shelling since the Serbs began the war in Bosnia in the spring. The 18 September Washington Post quotes the UN commander in Sarajevo as saying that "this is not the atmosphere to implement the UN mandate." Both sides seem to be trying to consolidate their positions before winter sets in next month. (Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc.) BOSNIAN PEACE TALKS TO OPEN IN GENEVA. International media report that the latest round of UN- and EC-sponsored negotiations is slated to start on 18 September, with mediators meeting separately with each of the three warring sides. There has been much public posturing in recent days, especially by Serbian and Muslim leaders. The Muslims threatened at one point to boycott the gathering, while the Serbs say they will press for a partition of the republic, which is a nonstarter for the Muslims. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman is known to be mistrustful of the Muslims and supportive of partition, but most Croatian politicians argue that no lasting peace is possible without the Muslims, and that Croatia's own state interests require Zagreb to insist on the sanctity of existing frontiers. (Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc.) IS "ETHNIC CLEANSING" SPREADING TO THE SANDZAK AND VOJVODINA? The 9 September Split independent weekly Nedjeljna Dalmacija reported at length on moves by Serbian irregulars in Montenegro to intimidate local Muslims with the at least tacit cooperation of Montenegrin authorities. Most of the action has taken place in the ethnically mixed Sandzak area, but Muslims and Albanians have also been forced to flee Podgorica, the capital, for safer havens. Serbs blame the tension on "Islamic fundamentalists," but the paper said that the pressures seem to be coming almost exclusively from the irregulars, many of whom are outsiders who drift in and out from the front in Bosnia. Elsewhere, on 17 September Western news agencies carried related stories, with one account saying that 69,000 out of 400,000 Muslims had fled the Sandzak in the face of "provocations." Other accounts told of similar moves directed at the ethnic Hungarians in Vojvodina. (Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc.) ATTEMPT TO EXPORT ARMS TO FORMER YUGOSLAVIA STOPPED. Czechoslovak TV reported on 17 September that a private Czechoslovak firm, Ikona Frydlant, attempted to export five Soviet-made MI-8 attack helicopters to former Yugoslavia, most likely to Croatia. At least one of the helicopters was obtained in Poland. The shipment was stopped by Czechoslovak authorities. An official at the Ministry of Foreign Trade said that under Czechoslovak law the company's officials cannot be punished but the helicopters can be confiscated. (Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc.) BULGARIAN, MACEDONIAN OFFICIALS MEET. Bulgarian Prime Minister Filip Dimitrov met with a delegation of officials from the Republic of Macedonia led by Vice President Jovan Andonov on 17 September, an RFE/RL correspondent reports. Present for the discussions, which focused on trade and other economic issues, were Rumen Bikov and Aleksandar Pramatarski, Bulgarian ministers of trade and industry, respectively, and Petrush Stefanov, minister of economics of the Macedonian republic. (Duncan Perry, RFE/RL, Inc.) SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTER TO BUCHAREST. On 16 and 17 September Milan Knazko, minister of international relations and vice-president of the Slovak government, paid an official visit to Romania. Knazko held talks with Foreign Minister Adrian Nastase, Trade and Tourism Minister Constantin Fota, and other Romanian officials. He was also received by Prime Minister Theodor Stolojan. The talks focused on political, economic and cultural cooperation. (Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL, Inc.) GERMANY TO SEND BACK ROMANIAN ASYLUM-SEEKERS. The German Interior Ministry announced on 17 September that Bucharest agreed to take back thousands of Romanian citizens who failed to obtain political asylum in Germany. Western agencies said that German Interior Minister Rudolf Seiters will sign an agreement on the deportation next week in Bucharest. Deportations will begin on 1 November. So far this year, more than 43,000 Romanian citizens--of whom about 60% are Gypsies--have applied for asylum in Germany. Romania declared itself ready to accept even those refugees who had destroyed their identity papers in order to prevent repatriation. (Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL, Inc.) HUNGARIANS PROTEST SOCCER INCIDENT IN BRATISLAVA. According to CSTK, 16 people were injured on 16 September in Bratislava during a European Championship Cup match between Slovan Bratislava and Ferencvaros Budapest. It was not clear how many injuries were caused by police called in to suppress fights between Slovak and Hungarian fans, but CSTK described the police action as "brutal." 250 policemen took part in the action. The Hungarian Foreign Ministry made an official protest to Czechoslovakia. Hungarian Foreign Ministry spokesman Janos Herman told MTI that video films and eyewitness accounts indicate that the Slovak police indiscriminately beat up and seriously injured many of the estimated 7000 defenseless Hungarian fans. Some Hungarian police officials who witnessed the incident, however, defended their Slovak colleagues saying that Hungarian fans provoked the police action. (Jiri Pehe & Edith Oltay, RFE/RL, Inc.) LEWANDOWSKI SURVIVES DISMISSAL VOTE. Voting on 18 September, the Sejm narrowly rejected a motion to dismiss Polish Privatization Minister Janusz Lewandowski. The vote was 189 to 174 with 36 abstentions; the abstentions counted as "no" votes. The postcommunist and patriotic-fundamentalist opposition parties banded together in the attack on Lewandowski. The KPN, which sponsored the motion, had based its charges on a state audit for 1991 that criticized the privatization ministry for undervaluing state assets and overspending on foreign consultants. The KPN did not conceal, however, that its larger aim was to bring privatization to a halt. The close vote reveals the fragility of the government's parliamentary base and suggests that new challenges from supporters of state socialism are likely. (Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc.) POLISH GOVERNMENT COUNTERS COALITION SPECULATION. Although cabinet members admit that the government needs 30 more votes in the Sejm to secure a stable majority for its programs, the prime minister's press secretary told Polish TV on 17 September that "the government is not considering expanding the coalition." Jan Maria Rokita, minister for public administration, said the same day that "we aren't going to beg anyone for help." The government has nothing against expanding the coalition to include the Center Alliance or the Peasant Party, he said, but the initiative would have to come from the parties themselves. The Center Alliance, which had walked out on the original coalition at the last minute in July, met outside Warsaw earlier in the week to debate--apparently inconclusively--whether to join the hard-line opposition or parley for a place in the government. (Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc.) SAVOV UNDER ATTACK IN NATIONAL ASSEMBLY. Stefan Savov, president of the Bulgarian National Assembly, is under fire from opponents in the Bulgarian Socialist Party and the predominantly Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms, an RFE/RL corespondent reports. Savov, who has been accused by his detractors of bias and intolerance regarding those who do not share his views, is currently the head of the Democratic Party, an organization which is part of the ruling Union of Democratic Forces coalition. The proceedings could begin against him as early as 18 September and will likely generate bitter debate. (Duncan Perry, RFE/RL, Inc.) LITHUANIAN-RUSSIAN TALKS ON RETURN OF KGB FILES. On 16 September the two delegations discussed the return of KGB files, the RFE/RL Lithuanian Service reports. The deputy chairman of the commission to return KGB archives, Sajudis chairman Juozas Tumelis, noted that although the talks were long and boring, they were positive since Russia no longer disputes Lithuania's right to have them. Expressing concern that the files on the so-called "national defenders" might be used to prosecute these agents for genocide, Russia said that they should remain in Russia under joint control. Lithuania, however, would only agree to this if they were kept in a third country. Groups of experts are to prepare a protocol on limiting access to the files, especially for journalists, for the next meeting, scheduled for 2 October. (Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc.) WITHDRAWAL OF RUSSIAN TROOPS FROM LITHUANIA. The Lithuanian government commissioner for army withdrawal problems, Stasys Knezys, noted that Russia has started serious preparations for its troops to leave Lithuania by asking permission to take out equipment and other property, BNS reported on 17 September. Household goods are removed first, followed by military cargoes and fighting equipment. Battle equipment has been taken apart and removed only from missile complexes such as those near Klaipeda and Vilnius. Knezys noted that the number of Russian troops has decreased by 12,000 since the beginning of the year due to Lithuania's efforts not to allow new recruits. (Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc.) ELECTION CONTROVERSY HEATS UP. A three-member team of investigators appointed by rival election coalitions in Estonia has found no evidence of KGB collaboration among the four candidates standing for president in the 20 September elections, BNS reports. The investigative commission, however, confirmed the authenticity of documents suggesting that the father of presidential candidate Lennart Meri was a high-level KGB agent. Meri denies charges that his father, interwar diplomat Georg Meri, was a collaborator, but the commission's findings have rocked the Lennart Meri campaign just three days before elections. (Riina Kionka, RFE/RL, Inc.) BALTIC ADMISSION TO CE EXPECTED AFTER ELECTIONS. The Baltic States are expected to be admitted as full members of the Council of Europe after they hold new parliamentary elections. Currently they have a guest status. The decision to admit each country separately came at the request of the EC Executive Commission after it had considered a report critical of Estonia's treatment of its Russian minority, according to RFE/RL correspondent's report of 15 September. Latvian Supreme Council deputy Andrejs Pantelejevs told the press on 16 September that the Baltic States can hope to become EC members sometime in 1993, but not simultaneously, since the pace of political development in each country is different. He also noted EC objections to capital punishment, which is still allowed in the Baltics, BNS reports. (Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc.) NATO TO TRAIN BALTIC OFFICERS? An Estonian defense official says that NATO is willing to help train Baltic officers. According to BNS of 17 September, Deputy Chief of the General Staff Col. Raul Luks said NATO officials had issued Estonia invitations for five officers to study at the organization's schools in Rome and Stuttgart. Luks was given the invitations at a NATO seminar held this week in Brussels. (Riina Kionka, RFE/RL, Inc.) LATVIA RATIFIES ACCORD WITH CE. On 16 September the Latvian Supreme Council ratified an accord with the European Community on commercial and economic cooperation. The ten-year agreement signed on 11 May, grants Latvia most-favored-nation status in trade with EC member states and can be renewed every year automatically if neither side objects. On 16 September the Latvian Supreme Council also ratified the 1 March 1954 Hague Convention which, among other things, restricts the use of weapons, BNS reports. (Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc.) SKODA PLZEN TO STOP PRODUCTION. CSTK reported on 17 September that Skoda Plzen, the largest heavy-engineering plant in the Czech Republic, will cease production on 1 October because of lack of cash. According to plant officials, the shortage is caused partly by the fact that Czechoslovak State Railways owes the company 1.3 billion koruny that cannot be collected. The company itself owes 4.4 billion koruny and creditor banks have refused to postpone the payment. Earlier this year, Skoda Plzen successfully concluded several joint venture deals with Western companies, including the German firm Siemens. (Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc.) POLAND'S STRIKE BALANCE. With the resumption of production at the FSM auto plant in Tychy on 17 September, relative labor peace returns to Poland. FSM's management rehired all those fired for organizing the 55-day strike there. Poland's statistical office reports that the August strike wave did not affect the overall level of industrial production, which in August exceeded 1991 levels for the fifth month running. Thirty strikes ended in August, including twelve in the copper mining and smelting industry. Some 30,000 workers took part. Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka met with Solidarity leader Marian Krzaklewski on 17 September to open talks on the "pact on state firms." Krzaklewski said that Solidarity would not negotiate jointly with the former official OPZZ federation, a measure the government hoped would save time. (Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc.)
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