|Absence makes the heart grow fonder. -|
No. 184, 24 September 1992
A Publication of the RFE/RL Research Institute SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR TAJIK LEADER CALLS FOR VOLUNTEERS. Acting President Akbarsho Iskandarov has signed a decree calling for volunteers to join Internal Affairs troops and Russian units to try to stop the fighting in Kurgan-Tyube Oblast south of Dushanbe, Interfax reported on 23-September. The same day ITAR-TASS reported that about 50,000 refugees from Kurgan-Tyube have gone to neighboring Kulyab Oblast, where 800,000 inhabitants are reported to be already on the verge of starvation. Attempts to send food shipments by road from Dushanbe have been blocked by fighting along the highway. Ostankino TV on 21 September reported having learned that Tajikistan's foreign minister planned to ask the UN General Assembly to authorize UN peacekeeping forces for Tajikistan. (Bess Brown) NEW ABKHAZ CEASEFIRE; Shanibov DETAINED. A new ceasefire agreement was signed on 23 September by Georgian, Abkhaz and Russian representatives, whereby Abkhaz and Georgian troops would be withdrawn from the River Bzyb, which is to become a demilitarized zone, ITAR-TASS reported. The agreement also provides for the creation of a commission which will begin work on 1 October to stabilize the situation in Sukhumi; at that time Georgia will withdraw from the area all its troops except those needed to protect roads and railways. Meanwhile, Yuri Shanibov, the chairman of the Confederation of Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus (the body responsible for sending volunteers to fight in Abkhazia) has been detained in Nalchik by investigators from the Russian procurator's office, which last month began proceedings against him for "endangering the security of the state and spreading war propaganda," an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Moscow. (Liz-Fuller) AZERBAIJAN CLAIMS STRATEGIC GAINS IN ADVANCE OF CEASEFIRE. Azerbaijani forces retook the Nagorno-Karabakh town of Martuni on 23 September and subjected the capital of Stepanakert to aerial bombardment; fierce fighting was also reported along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, ITAR-TASS reported. Commenting on the 19 September meeting at which the ceasefire agreement was concluded, Azerbaijan Minister of Defense Rahim Kaziev told ITAR-TASS that until a clear mechanism for enforcing the ceasefire is worked out, it is premature to claim that the conflict has been resolved. Russian Defense Minister Grachev told Russian journalists that one reason why Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to the ceasefire was that they are running out of military hardware. Azerbaijan President Abulfaz Elchibey was quoted last week by ITAR-TASS as claiming that the war was costing each side 25-30 million roubles per day. (Liz Fuller) YELTSIN RETURNS DRAFT LAW TO PARLIAMENT. Russian President Boris Yeltsin has sent back to the parliament a draft law on the constitutional protection of the power of state institutions, arguing that the draft violated the Russian constitution, Interfax reported on 23-September. The parliament's draft envisioned the creation of "parallel power structures." Yeltsin said that these bodies would confer executive power on the parliamentary presidium, a development that he opposed. He recommended that the matter be reviewed by the Constitutional Supervisory Committee. The draft further demonstrates the effort by parliamentary speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov to strengthen his position. (Alexander Rahr) KHASBULATOV AGAINST REMOVAL OF GOVERNMENT. Although many conservative deputies, such as Communist leader Sergei Baburin, insisted on a vote of no-confidence in the government, parliamentary speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov told the parliament to let the team of Acting Prime Minister Egor Gaidar continue working, ITAR-TASS reported on 23-September. Khasbulatov backed away from a confrontation with the government after President Boris Yeltsin publicly declared that he also no longer sought to abolish the present legislature. Khasbulatov rejected demands by conservative deputies to convene an extraordinary Congress and stated that preparations for the next Congress will start, as required by the constitution, in November-December. (Alexander Rahr) SHOKHIN ON IMPORTS, WESTERN LOANS. Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Shokhin said that Russia is having some problems making use of credits extended by Western nations and international agencies, the New York Times reported on 24 September. Shokhin, in Washington with other high level Russian officials to discuss debt issues, claimed that Russia had not yet drawn on the $1 billion dollar loan approved by the IMF in August because the interest payments, at 7.5%, would be too burdensome. Shokhin also said that at the current low ruble rate of exchange, Western imports were too expensive for many Russian enterprises despite the availability of Western financing. (Erik Whitlock) RUSSIA BUILDS GRAIN RESERVES. The Russian grain reserve, which will total over 20-million tons, is being divided into federal and regional "funds," Interfax reported on 23-September. Regional authorities apparently will send grain procured in their localities in excess of current consumption and local reserve requirements to the federal fund. The federal fund will serve as the reserve for the needs of the army, large cities, and territories with low local grain production. Any shortfalls in building the funds will be made up for with imports. The Russian grain reserve was established by presidential decree in late August. (Erik Whitlock) CIVIC UNION COOPERATES. The leaders of the Civic Union, Arkadii Volsky and Aleksandr Rutskoi, stated at a press conference that they want to cooperate with the government, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 September. Volsky said that the Civic Union's economic program should not be regarded as an alternative program. He criticized the government for refusing to invite leading economists from the beginning to work on its reform plan and for not having learned from the Chinese reform experience, which preserved the state sector. Volsky's economic aide, Iosif Diskin, said that the Civic Union's economic program seeks first of all to protect key industries from economic decline and only at the second stage does it envision measures to stimulate production. (Alexander Rahr) MINISTRY OF INDUSTRY CALLS FOR INCREASED MILITARY EXPENDITURES IN 1993. According to a Reuters report of 22 September, Russian Minister for Industry Alexander Titkin called for a 60% increase in defense spending in 1993 over planned levels. Titkin reportedly made the suggestion in an internal government memorandum obtained by Reuters. The planned 1993 military procurement budget is reportedly 164 billion rubles, a 10% percent increase over current levels. Titkin argued that expenditures should increase to 263 billion rubles to prevent plant closures and the loss of up to 800,000 jobs in defense and related industries. In the absence of such an increase, Titkin claimed that production of such weapons as the MiG-29, MiG-31 and T-72 tank would have to be halted. (John Lepingwell) GROMOV ON RUSSIAN TROOP WITHDRAWAL PLANS. In a speech to the Russian Supreme Soviet on 22 September, Deputy Defense Minister Boris Gromov stated that the 14th Army will be withdrawn from Moldova "only when the situation in the region gets stabilized," according to Interfax. He estimated that this might happen in 2 to 3 years. Gromov also repeated Russian plans to withdraw troops from Lithuania by the end of 1993, and from the other Baltic states by the end of 1994 if withdrawal agreements are reached. All but 6,000 troops are to be withdrawn from Poland by 15 November 1992, with the rest leaving by the end of 1993. (John Lepingwell) SUPREME SOVIET COMMITTEE CRITICIZES LITHUANIAN TROOP WITHDRAWAL AGREEMENT. The agreement to withdraw troops from Lithuania was criticized on 22-September by the Russian Supreme Soviet's Committee on International Affairs for failing to protect Russian interests and the rights of Russian servicemen in Lithuania, according to ITAR-TASS. The committee requested that the agreement be renegotiated. The committee's reaction, together with the increasing strength of Russian nationalists in the Supreme Soviet, suggests that the treaty with Lithuania, and potential treaties with Latvia and Estonia may run into parliamentary roadblocks and possibly even non-ratification.(John Lepingwell) US-RUSSIAN OFFICIALS DISCUSS GLOBAL DEFENSES. On 21-22 September, US and Russian officials met to discuss potential areas of cooperation in the development and deployment of early warning systems and ballistic missile defenses. In a communique issued on 22 September and carried by ITAR-TASS, they reported positive discussions on topics including the exchange of ideas on global defense systems, cooperative technical development projects, and legal bases for cooperation. There was also discussion of a possible "demonstration experiment" to exchange early warning information. Despite the positive report, however, the indications are that two sides are not close to substantive agreements on joint defenses. (John Lepingwell) NEW RUSSIAN NAVAL COMMAND APPOINTMENTS. On 22 September, Krasnaya zvezda reported that to replace retiring officers new personnel were being appointed to the Russian Navy high command. Admiral Valentin Selivanov, formerly commander of the Leningrad naval base, was appointed chief of the main staff. Vice-Admirals Georgii Gurinov and Vasilii Eremin were both appointed deputy commanders of the Navy. Vice Admiral Aleksandr Gorbunov was appointed deputy commander for combat readiness. The announcement indicated that a substantial restructuring and restaffing of the Navy command is underway. Interfax on 23 September reported that the controversial commander of the Black Sea Fleet, Admiral Igor Kasatonov, also may be appointed deputy commander of the Navy. (John Lepingwell) RUSSIA REJECTS SWEDISH SUBMARINE ALLEGATIONS. A spokesman for the Russian Ministry of Defense on September 23 rejected Swedish charges that a Russian submarine had entered Swedish waters, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 September. The spokesman pointed out that the Swedish Navy had been unable to identify the submarine and claimed that Russian submarines carry out their training exercises and combat operations outside the territorial waters of other states. (John Lepingwell) PRUNSKIENE DENIES VOLUNTARY COOPERATION WITH KGB. In interviews given to Literaturnaya gazeta, (No. 39) and Komsomolskaya pravda, on 16-September, the former prime minister of Lithuania, Kazimiera Prunskiene, called the verdict of the Lithuanian Supreme Court confirming her collaboration with the KGB a "politically biased decision" (See, RFE/RL Daily Report, 15 September). Prunskiene said that her reports about her scientific contacts abroad that were discovered in the KGB's archives were signed in her own name; the agents of the KGB, however, usually had to sign their "denunciations" (a term that was used in KGB domestic operations) with their KGB cover name. Prunskiene failed to mention that she was accused of collaboration not with the KGB's domestic services, but with the first department of the Lithuanian KGB, which was an element of the Soviet KGB's foreign intelligence service. (Victor Yasmann) KASATONOV FAVORED FOR CRIMEAN PRESIDENCY. Komsomolskaya pravda of 22-September reports that the extraordinary congress of the All-Crimean Movement of the Electorate for the Republic of the Crimea has named Admiral Igor Kasatonov, the commander of the Black Sea Fleet, as its choice for president of the Crimea. The congress expressed its dissatisfaction with the Crimean parliament, calling for its early dissolution and new elections. The congress also demanded that the moratorium on a referendum defining the Crimea's state status be lifted. (Roman Solchanyk) UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT MEETS ON THE ECONOMY. The Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers has met to discuss steps to intensify economic reform in the country, Ukrainian radio and TV reported on 22-September. The main speaker was First Deputy Prime Minister Valentyn Symonenko, who presented an overview of his plan, which is said to propose that Ukraine abandon the ruble zone in the very near future. According to the report, the plan demonstrates the government's determination to take full responsibility for implementing economic reforms. (Roman Solchanyk) GEORGIAN RADICAL QUESTIONS LEGITIMACY OF ELECTING PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER. The chairman of the Georgian National Independence Party, Irakli Tsereteli, has demanded that the Georgian Supreme Court rule on whether the proposal to elect a parliament chairman by majority vote with no alternative candidate conforms with the Georgian Constitution, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 September. A court ruling is expected by the end of this week. (Liz-Fuller) NAZARBAEV IN FRANCE. Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev arrived in France on 23 September for a three-day state visit, Western agencies reported. He signed a friendship treaty with France providing for regular top-level meetings between France and Kazakhstan and also signed the CSCE Charter. Before ending his official visit to Germany and traveling to France, Nazarbaev signed a deal with Daimler-Benz under which the German firm will assemble buses in Kazakhstan and deliver used Mercedes cars and trucks to the Central Asian state. (Bess Brown) BIRLIK, DEMROSSIYA TO ISSUE STATEMENT ON ABUSES IN UZBEKISTAN. The Democratic Russia Movement and the Uzbek Popular Front movement Birlik have prepared a statement on human rights abuses in Uzbekistan, a DemRossiya official told an RFE/RL correspondent on 23 September. The DemRossiya Coordinating Council has asked Russian President Boris Yeltsin and the Russian Supreme Soviet to look into the charges raised in the statement, including the use of violence against the opposition in Uzbekistan, before Russia concludes a bilateral treaty with that country. (Bess Brown) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE CROATIA, BOSNIA ANNOUNCE DEFENSE PACT. International media on 23 September quoted Presidents Franjo Tudjman of Croatia and Alija Izetbegovic of Bosnia in New York as saying that they have reached a defense agreement covering the territory of the two republics. This follows upon previous understandings and agreements reached earlier this year, but details of the new text are not yet available. Regular and paramilitary Croatian units alike in Bosnia and Herzegovina formally follow a policy of good relations with the Muslims, but there have been some clashes between Bosnian and Croatian regular forces in recent weeks. The Croatian authorities blame agents of the ex-Yugoslav military intelligence for sowing mistrust between what they term "two victims of the same [Serbian] aggressor." Time alone will tell what, if anything, the latest Tudjman-Izetbegovic agreement will mean in practice. (Patrick Moore) SERBS SHELL BIHAC, SLAVONSKI BROD. Western news agencies on 23 September reported that Serbian artillery hit the hospital in the besieged mainly Muslim town of Bihac, killing 11 and wounding 20. Meanwhile in eastern Croatia, almost daily bombardment has continued for four months against Slavonski Brod and the surrounding villages. (Patrick Moore) KOSOVO DEVELOPMENTS. Fehmi Agani, vice president of Kosovo's main party, the Democratic Alliance, told reporters on 18 September that Kosovo's Albanian delegation attending the peace talks at the UN-EC mediated conference on the former Yugoslavia in Geneva will demand recognition as an independent republic. Kosovo, formerly an autnomous province within Serbia, is about 90% Albanian. Agani also said his party received the rump Yugoslav federal government's 14-point draft program on Kosovo and commented that Albanian parties will not agree on Kosovo remaining a part of Serbia. He added that the proposals are only initiatives for future talks. He did say, however, that his party regards the government's proposal on lifting all restrictive measures on the Albanian-language media as encouraging. Belgrade media carried the report on 20 September. Western agencies report on 23 September that street names in Pristina have been "Serbianized," and the city's university has been named after Dositej Obradovic, an 18th-early 19th century Serbian scholar. According to the reports, Albanian children and their teachers have been barred from entering schools by Serbian police. Last month federal Prime Minister Milan Panic ordered all schools opened to Albanians, despite protests from local Serbs and Serbia's government. (Milan Andrejevich) HAVEL SAYS THAT REFERENDUM WOULD NOT HELP SITUATION. Former Czechoslovak President Vaclav Havel said in an interview with the Czech daily Mlada Fronta dnes published on 24 September that it is too late for a referendum on the future of the Czechoslovak federation. Havel, who was one of the staunchest supporters of a referendum on Czechoslovakia's constitutional setup, said that the democratically elected Slovak leadership wants an independent state and will not allow anything but a "ratification" of the republic's independence. Even if Czechs vote in favor of a common state, it will not have any impact on developments. Havel stressed that Slovaks have the right to be independent and that it is in the interest of all involved to carry out the division in a proper way. (Jan Obrman) BULGARIAN PARLIAMENTARY TROUBLES. Stefan Savov, president of the National Assembly and leader of Bulgaria's Democratic Party, faces a no-confidence vote on 24-September. The vote, postponed from 23 September, results from accusations that he has failed to represent the parliamentary coalition majority even-handedly. His ouster is being sought by the leaders of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, Bulgaria's predominantly Turkish party. They issued a declaration on 23 September calling for the removal not only of Savov, but also of Prime Minister, Filip Dimitrov as well as for a restructuring of the government and a new strategy to stimulate economic reform. According to the declaration obtained by RFE/RL's Sofia Bureau, the MRF alleges that the Coordinating Council of the UDF has often forgotten that the parliamentary majority the governing Union of Democratic Forces holds in the National Assembly results from an informal UDF-MRF coalition, which has now all but fallen apart. Meanwhile, the Bulgarian Socialist Party has indicated it supports the idea of a restructured Dimitrov cabinet. (Duncan Perry) POLAND, HUNGARY AGREE ON FREE TRADE ZONE. Poland and Hungary intend to create a bilateral free trade zone, possibly as early as 1 January 1993, Western agencies reported. Polish Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka and her Hungarian counterpart Jozsef Antall reached agreement on the issue on 23 September, during Suchocka's two-day official visit to Budapest. Czechoslovakia had been envisaged as a third partner to the agreement, but its disintegration prompted Hungary and Poland to press ahead with a bilateral arrangement. The final agreement, to be signed in November 1992 in Cracow, is expected to boost bilateral trade, which Antall says has declined such that trade with Poland now only accounts for 1.5% to 2% of Hungary's total. Suchocka and Antall signed agreements eliminating double taxation and facilitating the flow of capital between the two countries. Antall also urged the EC to provide a clear outline of the conditions the "triangle" countries would have to fulfill to become full members of that body. (Louisa Vinton & Karoly Okolicsanyi) VISEGRAD TRIANGLE MILITARY LEADERS TO MEET. MTI reports, quoting government sources, that the Defense Ministers of Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary will meet on 25-September in Tatranske Zruby, Czechoslovakia, to discuss European security issues, including the Yugoslav crisis. (Karoly Okolicsanyi) LIVE FROM WARSAW: WALESA ON RFE. In a 50-minute live broadcast from Warsaw on 23-September, Polish President Lech Walesa took questions from RFE/RL journalists and listeners. Walesa expressed the hope that the borders between Poland and its neighbors will cease to divide and instead begin to bring together different nations. He added that while politicians can create the conditions for international cooperation, they cannot dictate it. The interview with Walesa was broadcast by RFE/RL to Belarus, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, and Ukraine. (Louisa Vinton) SOLIDARITY REFUSES TALKS WITH POSTCOMMUNIST UNIONS. Meeting behind closed doors in Gdansk on 23 September, Solidarity's National Commission decided to enter into negotiations with the government on the "pact on state firms," but "staunchly refused" to sit at the same table with other trade unions during the talks. A spokesman charged that the former official OPZZ federation is more interested in the legitimacy it could gain from sitting at Solidarity's side than in the outcome of the negotiations. The Solidarity leadership also rejected a demand from its radical Mazowsze region for changes in the union's parliamentary caucus. The region had expressed outrage that some Solidarity deputies had voted against the motion to dismiss Privatization Minister Janusz Lewandowski on 18 September. (Louisa Vinton) BIG OPPOSITION RALLY IN BUCHAREST. Thousands of Romanians marched through central Bucharest on 23 September to show their support for Emil Constantinescu, the main opposition candidate in the 27-September elections. Constantinescu is running on the ticket of the Democratic Convention (DC), an alliance of 18-centrist parties and organizations. In a rally following the march, DC supporters called for "true democracy" in Romania and denounced incumbent president Ion Iliescu as "Bolshevik." Western agencies report that in his speech Constantinescu stressed the need for "moral rebirth" and the DC's concern for minority rights in Romania. Geza Domokos, a prominent member of the Hungarian minority in Transylvania, also addressed the crowd. (Dan Ionescu) ROMANIA'S NSF LEADER ON POST-ELECTORAL STRATEGY. Petre Roman, leader of the National Salvation Front and former prime minister, praised his opposition rivals at a press conference on 23-September. Roman said that the DC is likely to win the elections and to form Romania's first genuinely democratic government since the 1989 anti-communist revolution. He further pledged his party's support for the DC in the parliament, even if the NSF is not part of the next government; but added that the offer was limited to the period necessary to achieve stability in Romania. Roman declined to be drawn out on press speculations that he could become foreign minister in the new cabinet. (Dan Ionescu) ESTONIA REBUTS RUSSIAN STATEMENT. The Estonian Foreign Ministry has rebuked the Russian government for interfering in Estonia's internal affairs. In a sharply worded statement issued by Tallinn on 23 September, the Estonian government takes issue with remarks made by the Russian government's press spokesman Gennadii Shipitko to ITAR-TASS on 22 September alleging that last weekend's elections in Estonia ignored the interests of Russian-speakers there. The Estonian Foreign Ministry "regards [the statements] as a threat directed at the Republic of Estonia-.-.-. and as an attempt to influence the activities of the newly-elected Riigikogu (parliament) and the soon-to-be elected president." (Riina Kionka) LANDSBERGIS CONCLUDES VISIT TO BELGIUM. On 23 September Lithuanian Supreme Council Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis completed a three-day official visit to Belgium. On 21-September he met with King Baudouin-I and Belgian Senate officials. On 22-September he participated in ceremonies opening the Lithuanian embassy and gave a speech at the Royal Institute for International Relations. On 23-September he held talks at NATO headquarters with Secretary-General Manfred Woerner and urged NATO to send observers to oversee Russian troop withdrawals and help the Baltic States establish their own armed forces. He also had meetings with EC president Jacques Delors and European Parliament chairman Egon Klepsch. On 24 September he held a press conference on the visit, broadcast live by Radio Lithuania. (Saulius Girnius) LITHUANIA TO ABANDON RUBLE ON 1 OCTOBER. On 23 September Prime Minister Aleksandras Abisala told national television that Lithuania will abandon the ruble as its currency on 1 October, replacing it with temporary coupons that can be exchanged for rubles on a one-to-one basis until that day. Thereafter rubles will be exchanged as foreign currency in Lithuanian banks. The coupons will be valid until the introduction of the litas at some as yet unannounced date. (Saulius Girnius) UNEXPECTED SUCCESS OF CZECHOSLOVAK ECONOMIC REFORM. According to Josef Tosovsky, the President of Czechoslovak State (Central) Bank, Czechoslovak economic reforms have been successful and will continue even after the country's disintegration. Tosovsky told reporters in Washington on 22-September that inflation is under control and the rate will remain lower than 10% throughout the year; GDP growth is expected to be higher than last year. Tosovsky said that the country's economy is doing so well that it will not need to draw on the remaining $285-million of its current stand-by loan from the IMF. The IMF reportedly anticipated a $600-million balance-of-payments deficit for Czechoslovakia, but it turns out that the country had a $1-billion surplus for the first eight months of the year instead. (Jan Obrman) ITALIAN CONCERN INVESTS IN POLISH STEEL MILL. On 23 September, the Italian firm Lucchini signed an agreement with trade unions from the Huta Warszawa steel mill. Officials say the agreement paves the way for a $300-million investment in Poland's troubled steel industry. In return for a 51% share in the mill, Lucchini has granted a six-month moratorium on dismissals and promised average monthly wage increases of 2-million zloty ($143) over the coming 18-months. The work force endorsed the agreement almost unanimously, Polish TV reported. Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Henryk Goryszewski told an audience of bankers, managers, and unionists in Poznan that "Poland must be open to foreign capital." Poland's shortage of domestic resources rules out "capital autarky," Goryszewski said. (Louisa Vinton) FOREIGN CAPITAL FLOW TO HUNGARY CONTINUES. MTI reports that in the first seven months of 1992, $827-million worth of capital came into Hungary. This year's plan calls for $1.5-billion, but present trends indicate that at the end of the year final amounts will be higher. (Karoly Okolicsanyi) ESTONIA: GOOD WORKS FOR THE JOBLESS. The outgoing Estonian government adopted a ruling on 23-September saying that the unemployed may be used in emergency relief works for up to 10-days each month with a maximum of 80-hours per month, BNS reported. Labor Minister Arvo Kuddo is quoted as saying that those who refuse to participate in the program for reasons other than health will be denied unemployment benefits for a two-week period. (Riina Kionka) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba & Charles Trumbull
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