|The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper. - Eden Phillpotts|
No. 183, 23 September 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR SITUATION IN TAJIKISTAN. On 22 September deputies of Tajikistan's Supreme Soviet went to the town of Kulyab to negotiate with supporters of deposed President Rakhmon Nabiev, who are fighting opposition forces in the southern part of the country, AFP reported from Dushanbe. The same source had reported the previous day that Dushanbe residents had demonstrated all day in front of the Supreme Soviet building, demanding arms to protect themselves against attacks by pro-Nabiev forces. Also on 21 September the independent daily Charogi ruz criticized the appointment of Abdumalik Abdullodzhanov as interim prime minister, accusing him of corruption and association with Tajikistan's economic mafia. (Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc.) ARMENIA, AZERBAIJAN AGREE ON CEASEFIRE. At a meeting in Sochi on 19 September the defense ministers of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Russia signed an agreement on a ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh and along the Armenian-Azerbaijani frontier and a two-month moratorium on military activity in the region, according to Krasnaya zvezda of 23 September. The ceasefire is to take effect at midnight on 25 September after which Armenia and Azerbaijan have pledged to begin the "phased withdrawal" of troops from the area. Observers from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan will monitor the ceasefire. Whether representatives from the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic participated in the meeting and whether Karabakh defense units consider themselves bound to comply with the ceasefire is not clear. A three-day ceasefire along the border between Nakhichevan and Armenia was agreed on 22 September, Azerinform reported. (Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc.) GAIDAR REPORTS ON STATE OF THE ECONOMY. Russian Prime Minister Gaidar presented a dim evaluation of the Russian economy to parliament on 22 September, various Russian and Western news agencies reported. Gaidar said that from August 1991 to August 1992 industrial production had fallen 27%. In the agricultural sector, although grain production is up from last year, cattle and poultry stock have dropped substantially. Milk production is down 17% and eggs 12% from last August's levels. Unemployment was officially 300,000 in August and expected to quintuple by year-end. Gaidar also confirmed that the budget deficit stood at 101.3 billion rubles at mid-year, which is 7.5% of GNP, higher than the 5% promised the IMF. (Erik Whitlock, RFE/RL, Inc.) RUBLE DOWN, INFLATION UP. The ruble dropped 14.7% in value against the dollar on 22 September, according to various Russian and Western news agencies. The dollar reached 241 rubles, up from the 205.5 at the previous Thursday's trading on the Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange. The direct cause of the change was attributed by some observers to the recent announcement of energy price increases. Recent reports have also borne out expectations of increased inflation, a significant factor in exchange rate fluctuations. Russian government officials have said September's inflation rate is running at 20%, up from July-August's 7-8%. Prime Minister Gaidar told parliament on 22 September that consumer prices had risen 15 times between last August and this August. This is significantly higher than the officially reported thirteen-fold increase from June 1991 to June 1992. (Erik Whitlock, RFE/RL, Inc.) RUSSIA SUSPENDS CREDITS TO UKRAINE. Prime Minister Gaidar, speaking before the Russian parliament on 22 September, said that the Central Bank is suspending ruble credits to Ukraine, according to ITAR-TASS. Gaidar said credits would not be forthcoming until the two states worked out an agreement on trade payments. The controversy over Russian credit to other CIS republics erupted earlier this week, when reform parliamentarians accused the central bank of giving away Russia's "national wealth" by lending Ukraine hundreds of billion of rubles. According to Western news agencies, Ukraine government officials are very displeased over the suspension. First Deputy Finance Minister Viktor Ilyin is quoted as saying that "The action will lead to an even greater crisis because Ukrainian firms are likely to stop supplying Russian customers." (Erik Whitlock, RFE/RL, Inc.) MINISTRY OF FINANCE FORECASTS YEAR-END FOOD PRICES. A report published by the Ministry of Finance suggests what the Russian consumer may expect in food prices by the end of 1992. The forecasts of what appear to be retail trade prices were reported by ITAR-TASS on 22 September. Beef is to rise to 160-220 rubles per kilogram as compared to the recent 84 rubles (reported by Ekonomika i zhizn, no. 36). The price of a liter of milk is predicted to increase from 12 to between 15 and 19 rubles. Butter can be expected to rise to 225-280 rubles/kilogram from last month's 189. Wheat bread may cost 37 rubles, up from 24 rubles. The report says that the 23-fold increase in procurement prices for grain over last year is the primary culprit for the general rise in food prices. (Erik Whitlock, RFE/RL, Inc.) RUSSIA TO JOIN IMF BOARD. Russia has gained a seat on the IMF Board of Governors, an RFE/RL correspondent reported in Washington, D.C. on 23 September. Approval for Russia's inclusion in the Board was granted on Tuesday at the annual meeting of the IMF/World Bank in Washington. Konstantin Kagolovsky, an ambassadorial-level official with the Russian government's department for relations with international financial organizations, is expected to represent Russia on the board. (Erik Whitlock/Robert Lyle, RFE/RL, Inc.) RUTSKOI CHALLENGES REFORMERS. Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi told Delovoi mir on 19 September that although he remains loyal to President Boris Yeltsin, he--together with other leaders of the Civic Union--will put pressure on the executive branch to adopt the Civic Union's alternative economic reform program. Rutskoi said he favors the introduction of a market system through a strengthening of law and order and the reestablishment of economic ties between former the Soviet republics. He accused democrats in Yeltsin's entourage of having made several attempts to isolate him from the president in the months before the Sixth Congress last April, but he indicated that after the Congress, his access to the president has improved. (Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, Inc.) KHASBULATOV'S SECRETARIAT. Parliamentary speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov has set up a personal secretariat which consists of former CPSU Central Committee officials. The secretariat is supervising the work of the parliamentary department, the membership and structure of which are almost identical to the staff of ex-Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev's chief of staff, Valerii Boldin. Deputies are dependent on the speaker because he has power over foreign travel, apartments, and other privileges. Novoe vremya (no 38) commented that the Russian parliament has become an institution dominated by deputies' group interests. In such a situation deputies care more about preserving their own interests than about adopting laws. (Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, Inc.) PARLIAMENT SESSION OPENS. Parliamentary speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov opened parliament with a conciliatory speech calling for "concrete action" rather than confrontation, Interfax reported on 22 September. The parliament rejected the proposal by a number of liberal deputies to force Khasbulatov to give an account of his work to the parliament, and it also rejected the proposed formation of a commission to assess the work of the Director of the Russian Central Bank, Viktor Gerashchenko. The parliament did, however, approve several other proposals by liberal deputies to investigate the performance of the parliamentary presidium. (Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, Inc.) KOZYREV CRITICIZES ESTONIA OVER ELECTIONS. In his speech at the UN on 22 September, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev harshly criticized the recent Estonian elections. While registering his "special discomfort" at discrimination against Russians, Ukrainians, and Jews in some of the former Soviet Republics, he singled out Estonia for violating the rights of its Russian minority. Claiming that 42% of Estonia's population was ineligible to vote in the election, Kozyrev stated that this violated international law and that Russia would raise the issue at the UN. At the same time, however, Kozyrev said that Estonia's action would not affect Russia's commitment to withdraw its troops in the shortest time possible. (John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc.) RUSSIA SUPPORTS STANDING UN ARMY. At the United Nations in New York on 22 September, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev supported the idea of establishing a standing UN army. UN Secretary-General Boutros Ghali has called for the formation of such a military force, which would be put under UN command and which could be used on short notice in trouble spots, but which would be paid for by those countries contributing forces. This proposal has also received the support of the United States and Great Britain. Kozyrev was quoted by the UPI as also saying that UN peace-keeping forces "should return fire . . . when fired upon." (Doug Clarke, RFE/RL, Inc.) SWEDISH PRIME MINISTER CRITICIZES RUSSIA OVER SUBMARINE INTRUSION. Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt on 22 September stated that he suspected Russia of being responsible for a submarine intrusion in Swedish waters on 21 September, according to Western news agencies. Bildt noted that the incident, in which Swedish forces fired depth charges, grenades, and a torpedo at the intruding submarine, matched the pattern of earlier incidents. Bildt suggested that the failure of the new Russian government to halt the intrusions may indicate that it has only weak control over the actions of its navy. The strong measures taken against the most recent intruder suggest that Sweden is making the cessation of such intrusions a high priority in its relations with Russia. (John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc.) VOLKOGONOV SAYS NO AMERICAN POWS ALIVE IN RUSSIA. In an interview with Western news agencies on 21 September, Gen. Dmitri Volkogonov claimed that no evidence has been found indicating that any American POWs are alive or being held against their will in Russia. Volkogonov is an advisor to President Boris Yeltsin and the chairman of a joint US-Russian committee established to investigate reports of US POWs in Russia. (John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc.) WHERE IS THE CIS INTERPARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY MOVING TO? The newly created CIS Interparliamentary Assembly is scheduled to be moved to the Tavricheskii palace in St. Petersburg, DR-Press reported on 20 September. The palace is now being used by a Russian government personnel education center. In a letter to the St. Petersburg mayor, Anatolii Sobchak, the director of the center protested the decision to move the Assembly into the palace. He recommended to Sobchak that the Assembly be moved into the former House of Political Education, which is still in Communist possession. (Alexander Rahr, RFE/RL, Inc.) CRIMEAN SEPARATISTS LIST DEMANDS. The Republican Movement of Crimea (RDK) has issued an appeal to the Crimean parliament, which is scheduled to open on 24 September, Radio Rossii reported on 20 September. The RDK wants Crimean lawmakers to defend the Crimean constitution; pass an electoral law based on multiparty participation and laws on citizenship and public associations; repeal its moratorium on a referendum on the Crimea's state status; and set a date for new parliamentary elections. (Roman Solchanyk, RFE/RL, Inc.) NAZARBAEV IN GERMANY. Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl signed agreements on the protection of German investments in Kazakhstan and on economic cooperation on 22 September, but the Kazakh president was unable to obtain concrete commitments from the German government to provide financial aid to the Central Asian country, the Munich daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported on 23 September. The German economics ministry has promised to consider a Kazakh request for more credits and expert assistance for Kazakhstan's privatization program. Nazarbaev boasted to a meeting of German industrialists that Kazakhstan could be the world's most important oil exporter in the next century. (Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc.) ECONOMIC DECLINE CONTINUES IN KYRGYZSTAN. Price liberalization on 1 September has resulted in a reduction of output at Bishkek's dairy products and flour combine. In addition, industrial and agricultural output throughout Kyrgyzstan has declined 20% this year, and food output is down almost 40%, KyrgyzTAG-TASS reported on 22 September. Although wage rates have risen twice in 1992, they have not begun to keep up with raging inflation; the report estimates that an average salary can cover only half the cost of food for a normal family. In addition, the threat of mass unemployment is looming as 920 firms plan staff reductions. Prime Minister Tursunbek Chyngyshev complained that natural disasters this year have overtaxed the country's budget. Angry citizens have already begun demonstrating against the price rises. (Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc.) ROMANIANS IN NORTHERN BUKOVYNA PUBLISH FIRST BOOK IN LATIN SCRIPT SINCE WW II. For the first time since 1944, a Romanian-language book in the Latin script has been published in northern Bukovyna, the Romanian media reported on 17 and 18 September. The book, a literary and historical almanac, was published by the Chernivtsy-based Eminescu Society for Romanian Culture. Moldovans/Romanians in the region are currently beginning to reinstate the Latin script in the native language press, education, and public signs. The Ukrainian authorities' flexibility in this matter contrasts sharply with the attitude of the "Dniester" Russian authorities, who have just reimposed the Cyrillic alphabet on the "Moldovan" (i.e. Romanian) language in place of the Latin script. (Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc.) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE "YUGOSLAVIA" EXPELLED FROM UNITED NATIONS. By a vote of 127 to 6, with 26 abstentions, the UN General Assembly voted to exclude the rump Yugoslavia from membership in that body. All Eastern European states (except Yugoslavia itself) and all but three of the ex-USSR states voted with the majority. The precedent-setting UNGA resolution specifies that the rump Yugoslavia may not automatically take over the old Yugoslavia's membership in the United Nations (presumably including the specialized agencies), although the document specifically mentions only exclusion from the General Assembly. The new Yugoslavia will have to apply for membership. In an eleventh-hour appeal, Prime Minister Milan Panic argued that expulsion of his country from the UN would be unjustified and would hamper his efforts to promote peace in the area. Whatever the outcome of the vote, Panic promised, Belgrade will continue its support of UN peace efforts. (Charles Trumbull, RFE/RL, Inc.) SKUBISZEWSKI AT THE UN. Polish Foreign Minister Krzysztof Skubiszewski asked the United Nations to establish an emergency system to address serious human rights violations. Speaking before the UN General Assembly on 22 September, Skubiszewski said that Poland supports Austria's proposal for such a system, which should be discussed at the UN conference on human rights in Vienna next June. Skubiszewski demanded that all detention camps in the former Yugoslavia be closed immediately. He added that Poland will offer one of the former Soviet military bases on its territory for the training of UN peacekeeping forces. In 1993 Poland will put two or three infantry battalions at the disposal of the UN Security Council. (Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc.) ROMANIA TO SEEK COMPENSATION FOR IRAQ EMBARGO. Romanian Foreign Minister Adrian Nastase said in an interview with Radio Bucharest on 22 September that his country will seek compensation for losses resulting from the UN embargo against Iraq. Nastase, on his way to New York to attend the UN General Assembly session, claimed that Romania's transition to a market economy and its economic reform program had been seriously affected by the losses in its trade with Iraq, which Romanian sources put to some $3 billion. Nastase added that he would also discuss the negative impact of the UN sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro on the Romanian economy. (Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL, Inc.) US CALLS FOR WAR CRIMES COMMISSION FOR YUGOSLAV AREA. On 22 September the US government gave the UN a report on war crimes in the conflict, the Los Angeles Times reports on 23 September. The document blames all sides for atrocities, but singles out the Serbs for committing war crimes as "part of a systematic campaign toward . . . the creation of an ethnically pure state." The daily says that the text paves the way for eventual war crimes trials. On 22 September the New York Times reported on an alleged massacre of over 200 Muslim men by Serbs at Varjanta, near Travnik, in Bosnia. Western news agencies have carried similar stories, and Acting Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger told reporters that Washington is looking into the reports. (Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc.) LORD OWEN WARNS OVER KOSOVO. The BBC on 23 September quotes the EC chief negotiator in the Yugoslav crisis, Lord Owen, as warning that the conflict could turn into a general Balkan conflagration if it spills over into Kosovo. On a visit to Greece he said that the Albanians in Kosovo should not demand independence but that they should receive back the autonomy that Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic took away from them in recent years. Meanwhile, Western and other media continue to report on the alleged presence of foreign Islamic warriors in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Die Zeit on 17 September said that they number in the hundreds at the most. Stories are already legion about culture shock between devout Muslims from the Middle East who have come to fight a jihad, and the highly secular and European Bosnians who want just to defend their homes. Reuters stated on 22 September that the Bosnians want weapons, not volunteers. The Bosnian authorities reportedly have about 40,000 men who are ready to fight but who lack weapons. (Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc.) FEDERAL ASSEMBLY APPROVES GOVERNMENT REPORT ON BREAKUP. The Federal Assembly has asked the Czechoslovak government to present, by mid-October, a program that would prevent a disorderly breakup of the country. CSTK reports that the parliament approved, "with reservations," a government report on the state of the federation. The government was also asked to prepare a concept for Czech-Slovak relations after the federation's disintegration by mid-November. In a separate development, former Czechoslovak President Vaclav Havel urged Czechs and Slovaks to dissolve the country in an orderly manner, avoiding "chaos and civic conflicts." According to CSTK, Havel expressed his concern that the division might not be carried out "as elegantly, cleanly, and professionally" as possible. (Jan Obrman, RFE/RL, Inc.) POLISH GOVERNMENT COMPLETES PRIORITY PLANS. Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka announced on 22 September that the government will complete work on its five priority action plans by the end of the week. These plans are designed to restructure state industry, fight corruption and organized crime, modernize agriculture, revive public finances, and guarantee a minimum of social security. Suchocka will present the plans to the public, as promised, by 10 October, exactly three months after she took office. Suchocka said the government has worked with great speed and hopes the same will be true of the trade unions and the parliament. Gazeta Wyborcza reported that one of the government plans will substantially expand police powers, permitting freer use of firearms and "sting" operations. (Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc.) PARTY LEADERS CALL FOR RESIGNATION OF LATVIAN GOVERNMENT. On 17 September political leaders representing the liberal, conservative, liberal-democratic, democratic labor, and renaissance parties signed a document calling for the resignation of the government of Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis and for the formation of a government of popular accord, Diena reported on 17 September and Radio Riga on 22 September. The signers envisage the new government as focusing primarily on Latvia's catastrophic economic situation and stipulate that such a government would exist only until the election of the new parliament. This call can also be seen as an effort by political parties, with memberships ranging from former liberal communist to national democrat to work together as a coalition. (Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc.) TURMOIL CONTINUES AROUND BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT. A Gallup poll conducted in Bulgaria in recent days and published in 168 chasa on 22 September indicates that if elections were held now, 33% of the respondents would vote for the governing Union of Democratic Forces, 28% for the Bulgarian Socialist Party, 8% for the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, and 16% for other parties. Some 15% said they would not vote. Unity in the UDF remains fractured, while the BSP has said it will not support a no-confidence vote in the government, though it still hopes to bring down Stefan Savov, president of the National Assembly. MRF and UDF leaders have evidently not resolved their differences, leaving the effectiveness of their loose coalition in the parliament in doubt. (Duncan Perry & Nick Kaltchev, RFE/RL, Inc.) EX-POLICEMAN TRIES TO SET UP ROMANIAN FASCIST PARTY. Ionica Catanescu announced in Bucharest on 22 September that he will try to set up a National Legionary Party in order to revive the pre-war Romanian fascist movement, known as the Iron Guard or the Legion. Reuters reports that Catanescu appears to be the sole member so far. This move, coming only a week before the 27 September elections, is being interpreted by some as an electoral maneuver by the left to win sympathies by conjuring up the ghost of fascism. (Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL, Inc.) KADAR FAULTS AUSTRIA. Hungarian International Economic Relations Minister Bela Kadar has charged that Austria conducts restrictive trade policies, hindering the growth of Hungarian exports, Hungarian Radio reports. Kadar said that Austria will have to liberalize its foreign trade if it wants to be an EC member and wishes to maintain its position as the country to which Hungary gives most preferential trade treatment. Kadar warned that if Austria does not change its trade policy, Hungary will have to retaliate. (Karoly Okolicsanyi, RFE/RL, Inc.) HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT ACCEPTS JURISDICTION OF THE INTERNATIONAL COURT. Hungarian deputies voted on 22 September to accept the Hague International Court's jurisdiction, Hungarian Radio reports. Formal acceptance of the court's jurisdiction is a precondition for Hungary to seek adjudication in the Hague. Hungary is planning to ask the court to rule in its dispute with Czechoslovakia over the Gabcikovo hydroelectric dam system. (Karoly Okolicsanyi, RFE/RL, Inc.) JARUZELSKI DEFENDS MARTIAL LAW. General Wojciech Jaruzelski appeared before a Sejm commission on 22 September to defend the imposition of martial law in 1981 as a "lesser evil" that had saved Poland from a "national tragedy." The Sejm commission is considering a motion submitted by KPN deputies to try Jaruzelski and the rest of the Council of State and the Military Council of National Salvation on the grounds that the martial law decree violated the constitution. Senator Ryszard Reiff, the only member of the Council of State to oppose martial law, challenged Jaruzelski's suggestion that he had saved the country from a Soviet invasion. Martial law was a "historical error," Reiff said. The party should have followed the example of First Secretary Wladyslaw Gomulka in 1956, Reiff argued, and persuaded "the Russians that what was good for Poland was not necessarily bad for Russia." (Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc.) DELAY IN SIGNING TROOP WITHDRAWAL FROM LITHUANIA? On 22 September the Russian Supreme Soviet committee on international affairs and foreign economic relations urged President Boris Yeltsin to delay the signing of agreements on Russian troop withdrawal from Lithuania until the interests and rights of Russians there are taken into consideration, ITAR-TASS reports. The committee points out that although three of the seven draft agreements on the withdrawal have been signed, they are not legally binding since the main treaty has not been signed. The committee urges that all agreements with Lithuania be submitted to the Supreme Soviet for approval. (Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc.) LANDSBERGIS COMMENTS ON TROOP WITHDRAWAL. On 22 September the Lithuanian Parliament public affairs office issued a statement by Supreme Council Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis, who is on an official visit to Belgium, noting that the efforts of the Russian parliament committee to terminate the agreements on troop withdrawal are indicative of "representatives of imperial thinking," who are interested "not in peace and cooperation, but in increasing tension and expansion." He said that he does not believe that they would "be able to compromise the policies of the new democratic Russia" by terminating the agreements signed two weeks ago. (Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc.) LATVIAN-RUSSIAN TALKS CONTINUE. On 21 September Latvian representatives met with leaders of the Northwestern Group of Forces to continue discussions of specific issues related to the pullout of Russian troops from Latvia. One point of discussion was the takeover by Latvia of bases vacated by NWGF, but not on the list of facilities to be turned over to Latvia this year. On 22 September another round of Latvian-Russian talks started in Jurmala. The principal point of discussion was also troop withdrawal, and Latvia's comprehensive proposal as to how all troops could be pulled out by fall of 1993, Radio Riga reported on 21 and 22 September. (Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc.) SKODA PLZEN TO FIRE OVER 1,200, LAY OFF 2,000 MORE. According to CSTK, Skoda Plzen, the Czech Republic's largest industrial employer, plans to dismiss about 1,200 workers in October and lay off another 2,000 temporarily due to financial problems. Czech Minister of Trade and Industry Vladimir Dlouhy said that most of the employees will be rehired once the company is in a healthier position and announced that they will continue receiving 60% of their salaries as unemployment benefits. Skoda's main problem has been the huge sums owed to the company by the state-owned railways for the delivery of locomotives. Dlouhy ruled out any state subsidies and said that the dispute between Skoda and the railways would have to be settled in court. (Jan Obrman, RFE/RL, Inc.) ROMANIA'S GYPSY KING ASKS GERMANY TO COMPENSATE NAZI VICTIMS. In an interview with German ZDF TV broadcast on 22 September, Ion Cioaba, the self-proclaimed "king of all Gypsies," threatened to launch mass demonstrations if Germany refuses to pay compensation for Nazi atrocities against Gypsies in World War II. The interview was conducted in the Transylvanian town of Sibiu. Germany faces a flood of refugees, including thousands of Romanian Gypsies, which has provoked racist backlash. Cioaba promised to call his fellow Gypsies home if Bonn agrees to pay compensation. Cioaba's authority, however, appears to be rather limited; on 11 September another Gypsy chieftain from Romania, Iulian Radulescu, proclaimed himself an emperor of all Gypsies. (Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL, Inc.)
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