|There is no love sincerer than the love of food. - George Bernard Shaw|
No. 185, 25 September 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR RUSSIA REFUSES TO SELL WEAPONS TO TAJIKISTAN. In order to end the fighting between supporters and opponents of deposed President Rakhmon Nabiev, the government of Tajikistan asked to buy heavy weaponry from Russia, but Moscow turned the request down, the deputy chairman of Tajikistan's National Security Committee told ITAR-TASS on 24-September. The same day inhabitants of Dushanbe gathered in front of the Supreme Soviet building to protest the government's inability to stop the fighting. Volunteers from Dushanbe and mountain raions that support the opposition have joined a self-defense force organized by inhabitants of Kofirnihon (formerly Ordzhonikidzeabad) Raion on the Kulyab-Dushanbe road to stop an armed group from Kulyab that is trying to reach Dushanbe. The Nurek power station remains in the hands of fighters from Kulyab. (Bess Brown) RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT TO DISCUSS FIGHTING IN ABKHAZIA. On 25 September the Russian parliament will debate a draft proposal to deploy Russian peacekeeping troops in Abkhazia in order to safeguard the civilian population and the normal functioning of industry and transport, ITAR-TASS reported. Abkhaz parliament Chairman Vladislav Ardzinba is quoted as arguing that Russia cannot remain indifferent to the situation in Abkhazia as some 90,000 Russians live there; he also accused Georgia of violating virtually all the provisions of the 3 September ceasefire agreement. A Georgian State Council spokesman threatened on 24 September to begin "a real war" in Abkhazia if all North Caucasian armed groups fail to comply with the ultimatum to leave the area by 25 September, Reuters reported. (Liz Fuller) CONFUSION OVER RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN TRADE QUARREL. Details concerning the dispute over trade payments between Russia and Ukraine remain unclear. At issue is the reversal of an agreement between Russian Central Bank chief Viktor Gerashchenko and the Ukrainian government to pay unsettled trade accounts. When the story first emerged, Russian sources reported that the Gaidar government had only suspended credits issued to Ukraine as part of the agreement. On 23 and 24 September, Western sources suggested that Russia had halted all financial transactions between the two countries, thus effectively freezing trade. Who owes whom what is also unclear. Ukrainian Central Bank chief Vadim Hetman, according to Western sources, claims that Russian enterprises owe Ukraine 360 billion rubles, whereas Ukrainian enterprises owe Russia only 60 billion rubles. Russian observers have given significantly different figures for outstanding payments. (Erik Whitlock) RUSSIAN POLITICIANS QUESTION RESULTS OF WESTERN AID. The Boston Globe quoted the leader of the Industrial Union, Arkadii Volsky, as saying on 24 September that the Russian government was "slavishly following the advice of people from abroad, especially those who are not taken seriously in their own countries." The first deputy parliamentary speaker, Sergei Filatov, stated that "the great value placed on foreign aid, which is not making itself felt, is in fact the worst mistake [which the government is making]," according to Interfax on 23 September. Other criticism of Western assistance recently came from the speaker of the parliament, Ruslan Khasbulatov, the first deputy prime minister, Vladimir Shumeiko, and many other conservative deputies. (Alexander Rahr) GAIDAR WILL NOT RETREAT. Acting Prime Minister Egor Gaidar told The Financial Times on 24-September that he will not retreat from his market reforms approach. He said, however, that he may reach a compromise with the Civic Union on the issue of military conversion. He stated that those CIS states which do not want to remain in the ruble zone will not receive any more credits from the Russian central bank. He expressed his intention to cooperate closely with the head of the central bank, Viktor Gerashchenko, emphasizing that he does not think that the latter wanted to undermine the government's financial policy. He also told ITAR-TASS also on 24-September that government structures will be altered due to new requirements. (Alexander Rahr) POPOV SAYS REFORM IS HALTED. The leader of the Russian Movement for Democratic Reforms, Gavriil Popov, told Interfax on 24 September that Russia will try to divide Western countries against each other by choosing one Western partner, to whom Moscow will open its markets and resources rather than cooperating with the entire European community. Popov stated that the IMF reform program turned out to be unacceptable to Russia and that one must now think of implementing a different transition concept which takes into account Russia's unique situation. Popov asserted that acting Prime Minister Egor Gaidar has already given up on pursuing his own initial reform program and now is adopting ideas supported by the leader of the "industrial lobby," Arkadii Volsky. (Alexander Rahr) NEW WAGE REGULATIONS FOR RUSSIAN STATE EMPLOYEES. The wages and salaries of most employees paid directly out of the state budget will be raised and set under new, simplified regulations, Russian news agencies reported on 24 September. According to ITAR-TASS, the new regulations provide for wage indexation, adjusting wages upwards quarterly to offset inflation to some degree. Interfax reported that the regulations will be introduced starting in the fourth quarter of this year and will initially double wages and salaries from their June 1992 levels. The new regulations, which Labor Minister Gennadii Melikyan proposed, may affect the earnings of as many as 15 million Russians. (Erik Whitlock) ADJUSTMENTS IN RUSSIAN VOUCHER PROGRAM EXPECTED. With only a week left until the start of the distribution of privatization-vouchers, the Russian parliament is considering important changes in the program. Parliament's Supreme Economic Council will suggest such modifications as allowing citizens to use their vouchers not only as claims on state enterprise assets, but also to purchase land and municipal property, according to Interfax on 24-September. Other changes under consideration are a ban on the resale of vouchers and an extension of their expiration date, currently set at 31 December 1993, to the end of 1994. According to "Novosti" on 18-September, Gosznak began printing the vouchers last week, and it is reportedly producing 4 million daily. (Erik Whitlock) CANDIDATES FOR MOSCOW MAYORAL POST. The names of four politicians have so far been mentioned as confirmed or possible candidates in the forthcoming mayoral election, Ekho Moskvy reported on 23 September. Two of them-the liberal economist, Larisa Pyasheva, and the chairman of the Krasnopresnenski Raion Soviet, Aleksandr Krasnov-have already declared their candidacies. The other two candidates are Svyatoslav Fedorov, the distinguished eye surgeon from the Party of Economic Freedom, and Ilya Konstantinov, the Secretary of the Christian-Democratic Movement. The latter has announced that if elected, he will cut foreign aid and establish order in the city. The present Moscow mayor, Yurii Lushkov, told Interfax on 24 September that the candidates' announcements about running for his office were "not serious because neither the President nor the parliament have yet approved a new mayoral election. (Alexander Rahr) KHASBULATOV REINSTATES PARLIAMENTARY OVERSIGHT OF THE MBRF. On 22 September, the opening day of the Russian parliament's new session, the parliamentary speaker, Ruslan Khasbulatov, reestablished a parliamentary commission to monitor the activities of the Ministry of Security of the Russian Federation (the MBRF or MB, formerly the KGB). Khasbulatov himself closed the commission down a few months ago. However, the speaker has changed his mind due to a personal clash with Russian Security Minister Viktor Barannikov, who had written an message to his employees in the margins of a manuscript of Khasbulatov's book, Reforming the Reforms: The Speaker's Thoughts. Barannikov asked his assistant how Khasbulatov had spent the royalties for the book, citing information that Khasbulatov had donated the money to the Russian Assembly and other ultranationalist opposition organizations, Russian TV reported on 23 September. (Julia Wishnevsky) MAJORITY OF RUSSIAN CITIZENS NOSTALGIC ABOUT THE OLD DAYS. 80 percent of the citizens in the Russian Federation questioned in an opinion poll conducted by the well-known sociologist, Professor Grushin, say that life before perestroika was better than it is now. The results of the poll were published in Moskovskaya pravda on 24 September. According to the poll, 67 percent of the respondents still favour socialism. 50 percent of the respondents-the majority of whom are members of the older generation-have favorable thoughts about Stalin. 72 percent of those supporting Stalin are Muslims. (Alexander Rahr) SUPREME SOVIET PASSES REVISED LAW ON DEFENSE. The Russian Supreme Soviet on 24 September passed a version of the Law on Defense that incorporated some revisions requested by President Boris Yeltsin. According to ITAR-TASS, the new law allows the President to appoint the Defense Minister, Chief of the General Staff, and their deputies without the formal approval of the Supreme Soviet. However, the president will not gain the exclusive right to make appointments until a new constitution is adopted, leaving some uncertainty in the appointment process. The law also specifies that the Supreme Soviet will approve the structure and composition of the armed forces as recommended by the President, rather than the Prime Minister. (John Lepingwell) US OBJECTS TO RUSSIAN SUBMARINE SALE TO IRAN. On 24 September acting Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger expressed US concern over Russia's planned sale of three diesel-powered submarines to Iran, according to Western news agencies. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev defended the sale as enhancing communications with Iran as well as benefitting the Russian economy. Baltfax and the BBC on 24 September reported that the first of the Kilo-class submarines had set sail from a Russian naval base in Latvia where it was undergoing an overhaul and crew training. The Latvian government has protested the deal and the presence of Iranian crews several times during the past year. (John Lepingwell) LANGUAGE QUESTION IN THE DONBASS. A group of political parties in the Donbass has issued an appeal to the oblast council recommending that a local referendum be held on the language question, Radio Ukraine reported on 23 September. The appeal states that the people themselves should decide which language they speak, read, and think in and in which language their children should be taught. The referendum would decide whether Russian should become the second state language in the region. (Roman Solchanyk) BELARUS TO SPEED NUCLEAR WEAPONS REMOVAL? Interfax on 24 September reported that President Stanislav Shushkevich has requested the acceleration of research on the removal of nuclear weapons from Belarus. Although Belarus is committed to eliminating all nuclear weapons on its soil within seven years, the instructions reportedly call for investigating scenarios in which the weapons could be removed in two to five years. (John Lepingwell) BELORUSSIAN FILM DIRECTOR SHOT IN TAJIKISTAN. The noted Belorussian filmmaker, Arkadii Ruderman, has become a victim of the civil war in Tajikistan, "Novosti" reported on 23 September. Ruderman gained fame in 1988 for his documentary exposure of the attempt by Belorussian communist authorities to play down the centennial celebration of the Jewish painter Marc Chagall, who was born in Vitebsk but whose achievements the regime refused to recognize. For his daring documentaries exposing the ills of the communist regime, Ruderman won the highest awards at prestigious Soviet film festivals in 1988 and 1989. In November 1988, Ruderman was the first Russian TV journalist to interview the then dissident Czechoslovak politician Aleksandr Dubcek. Ruderman and his crew visited Tajikistan to make a film investigating the "artist's role in politics" for the Ostankino TV company, "Novosti" said. (Julia Wishnevsky) NAZARBAEV IN FRANCE. On 24 September, the first full day of his state visit to France, Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev met with state officials and businessmen, and thanked France for taking in thousands of Kazakhs and Russians who had fled Russia and Kazakhstan after the 1917 October Revolution, ITAR-TASS reported. Nazarbaev and French Prime Minister Pierre Beregovoy signed an agreement on the protection of investments similar to that signed by Nazarbaev in Germany earlier in the week. Seeking to persuade businesses to invest in Kazakhstan, Nazarbaev pointed out his country's rich natural resources-France's ELF-Aquitaine already has made a deal to develop oil fields in Kazakhstan-and also its stable political situation and commitment to developing a market economy. (Bess Brown) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE CAMPAIGNING ENDS IN ROMANIA. The presidential and parliamentary election campaign ended on 24 September with a televised debate among the six presidential candidates. During the three-hour live program, Ion Iliescu defended his political career under former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. He stressed that he had broken with Ceausescu in 1971 because of the latter's attempt to introduce a Chinese-style cultural revolution in Romania. Recent polls seem to indicate that Iliescu is regaining ground as the date for presidential and general elections, 27 September, approaches. Iliescu's main challenger is Emil Constantinescu of the Democratic Convention. The other candidates for president are Gheorghe Funar of the nationalist Party of Romanian National Unity; Caius Traian Dragomir of the center-left National Salvation Front; Mircea Druc, former premier of Moldova, running as an independent; and Ion Manzatu, candidate of the fringe Republican Party. In a separate development, the US House of Representatives decided on 24 September to postpone a vote on whether to restore Romania's most-favored-nation status until after the elections. (Dan Ionescu) BULGARIAN PARLIAMENTARY PRESIDENT RESIGNS. Stefan Savov, president of the National Assembly resigned at 17:00 on 24 September, Radio Sofia reports. A replacement must be elected within 14 days. The action headed off a no-confidence vote called for the same day and, at least for the moment lessens tension between the governing Union of Democratic Forces and its informal coalition partner, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms. The leader of the latter party, Ahmed Dogan, has pledged not to press forward with a call for a no-confidence vote on the government in order to give the UDF time in which to reorganize its cabinet. The MRF continues to insist on a change in certain cabinet positions, apparently including the ministries of finance, defense, trade, and interior. UDF leaders so far appear unwilling to give in. (Duncan Perry) GERMANY, ROMANIA AGREE TO EXPEL ILLEGAL MIGRANTS. Western agencies reported on 24-September that in Bucharest German Interior Minister Rudolf Seiters and his Romanian counterpart Victor Babiuc signed an agreement on returning illegal migrants. The accord, which allows Germany to repatriate rejected asylum-seekers to Romania even if they do not have identity documents, was described by Seiters as "an important step forward" in Germany's struggle to control the flood of illegal immigrants from Eastern Europe. More than 57,000 Romanian citizens, of whom some 60% are Gypsies, applied for asylum in Germany from January to August this year. Germany hopes to sign similar agreements with other East European countries. In Czechoslovakia, for instance, CSTK reported on 23-September that more than 21,000 refugees-most from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union-have been caught this year on the German border. Czechoslovakia is a major transit point for economic refugees heading to Western Europe. (Dan Ionescu & Jiri Pehe) SERB STEP UP BOMBING RAIDS ON JAJCE. Reuters on 24 September reported that Serb warplanes again attacked Jajce in central Bosnia, which they first bombed on 12 August. This picturesque town set in the mountains constitutes an important gap, together with Gradacac and Brcko, in attempts to link up Serbia with Serbian-held territories in Bosnia and Croatia. Muslim and Croatian forces are defending all three towns against recently intensified Serbian pressure. Jajce dates back to at least the 14th century, and was a symbol of Tito's Yugoslavia because he effectively launched his federalist program there at a conference in 1943. Elsewhere, the Serbs subjected Sarajevo to heavy shelling at a time when the UN peacekeepers are considering leaving the city for safer ground, Western Agencies report. (Patrick Moore) PANIC DISCUSSES SITUATION. Milan Panic, Prime Minister of the rump Yugoslavia, told a group of Yugoslav journalists in Washington on 24 September that his recent activities at the UN "achieved more than we expected." He described his meeting with the foreign ministers of the five permanent UN Security Council members as "a fantastic turnabout," because the ministers openly expressed support for his peace plan. On the home front, Panic said "I will never surrender Kosovo," and went on to criticize his detractors by saying "those who have been accusing me of wanting to give up Kosovo have, in fact, given everything away, and caused human losses without saving or changing anything." According to Radio Serbia, Panic said he finds the world's reactions to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic "inexplicable and intolerable" and that "never before has the world talked about or judged a man in this way." Nonetheless, the New York Times of 25 September says Panic is losing patience in Milosevic: "I think I am through with him.-.-.-. We are on a collision course." Western agencies report that Panic has sharply criticized past Serbian leaders for what he calls years of tragic mistakes and decisions. (Milan Andrejevich) PATRIARCH AND CARDINAL CALL FOR PEACE TALKS. Western news agencies on 24 September said that Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Pavle and Croatia's Cardinal Franjo Kuharic issued a joint statement in Geneva calling for immediate negotiations between Croats and Serbs. They condemned all ethnic cleansing and called for refugees to return home, as well as for the release of all prisoners and the closing of all camps. Muslim leader Jakub Selimoski, who had previously called for a meeting of all three religious leaders, did not attend; Pavle and Kuharic expressed regret at his absence. (Patrick Moore) CANDIDATES FOR LITHUANIAN SEIMAS. On 25-September Lietuvos aidas published the list of 448 candidates in the 71 single-mandate districts for parliamentary elections on 25 October. The number of candidates varies from 3 to 11. In 5 districts three current parliament members, and in 25 districts, two members will be competing against each other. The most notable race is in Kaisiadorys District, where former prime minister Gediminas Vagnorius of Sajudis will run against Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party chairman Algirdas Brazauskas. Both will undoubtedly be elected since they are the third and first candidates, respectively, on their parties' lists. In the 70 multiple-mandate districts, 743 candidates from 26 political parties and movements are registered. There will clearly be new deputies since in 11 single-mandate districts no incumbent deputies are competing. (Saulius Girnius) CZECHOSLOVAK PARLIAMENT FAILS TO ELECT PRESIDENT. In its fifth attempt since the beginning of July, the Czechoslovak Federal Assembly failed to elect a new federal president on 24 September, CSTK reports. Jiri Kotas, chairman of the tiny Free Bloc-Conservative party, won only 40 votes in the 300-member assembly. Since Czechoslovakia is to split into two states on 1 January 1993, the vote was treated as an empty formality by many deputies after Kotas had been officially nominated by one of the deputies. (Jiri Pehe) CZECHOSLOVAK PREMIER WRITES ANTALL ABOUT GABCIKOVO DAM. In a letter to Hungarian Prime Minister Jozsef Antall on 23 September, Czechoslovak Prime Minister Jan Strasky argues that the Czechoslovak-Hungarian dispute over the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros hydroelectric dam project should be solved with the help of a European Community commission of experts. Strasky says that submitting the matter to the International Court of Justice in the Hague, as proposed by Antall in his letter to Strasky on 18-August, would be "a step backwards." Published by CSTK, the letter further says that the so-called variant C of the dam project, pursued by Czechoslovakia after Hungary unilaterally withdrew from the project, will not, as claimed by Hungary, lead to the diversion of the Danube on the current Czechoslovak-Hungarian border, but only to the diversion of some of the river's water. (Jiri Pehe) DEMONSTRATIONS AGAINST EXTREME RIGHT IN HUNGARY. MTI and wire services reported that an estimated 50,000 people demonstrated in central Budapest on the evening of 24 September against the recent resurgence of the extreme right-wing nationalism. The rally was staged by the Democratic Charter, a civil rights group organized mainly by opposition party members in September 1991, and endorsed at the last moment by the Association of the Free Democrats, the leading opposition party. The demonstrators were addressed by the writer Gyorgy Konrad, one of the leaders of the Association of Free Democrats, who called on the crowd to defend democracy. Other speakers said that Hungary cannot be diverted from the path of peaceful change and called on Prime Minister Antall to make a clean break with his party's extreme nationalist wing. A similar rally took place in Miskolc. (Karoly Okolicsanyi) EAST-CENTRAL EUROPEAN DEFENSE MINISTERS CONFER. The Czechoslovak, Hungarian, and Polish ministers of defense meet today in Slovakia to discuss prospects for cooperation in view of the impending split of Czechoslovakia into two separate states and the consequent division of its armed forces into Czech and the Slovak units. (Jan de Weydenthal) POLAND WANTS TO INCREASE ARMS SALES. Jan Straus, an official in the Polish Trade Ministry who issues arms export licenses, said at a 24 September Warsaw news conference that Poland hopes to increase its exports of arms to developing countries. In a UPI account of his comments, Straus said that he knows of no case in which a Polish firm violated the UN arms embargo on sales to regions where there are conflicts. He said that a total of 51 firms have been licensed to sell arms. Straus revealed that in years past Poland was ordered by Moscow to export arms to various countries without receiving payment. He said that Poland plans to develop its exports to "so-called Third World countries." (Doug Clarke) US SENATE PANEL VOTES RESTRICTION ON RUSSIA AID. On 23 September the US Senate Appropriations Committee approved an amendment by its chairman, Sen. Robert Byrd, to restrict nonhumanitarian aid to Russia until all Russian troops are withdrawn from the Baltic States or a negotiated timetable for their withdrawal is approved, Reuters reports. Humanitarian aid was defined as food, clothing, and medicine in order to restrict most of the aid to Russia. Sen. Patrick Leahy said that he has been told the Administration strongly opposes the amendment. (Saulius Girnius) TALKS ON TROOP WITHDRAWAL FROM LATVIA STALEMATED. The latest round of talks on the withdrawal of Russian troops from Latvia, held in Jurmala on 22 and 23 September, ended in a stalemate, Radio Riga reports. The Russian side says Latvia was not sufficiently forthcoming over its offer to withdraw its troops by the end of 1994-earlier Moscow had proposed 1999-while maintaining some strategic installations in Latvia. Russia also wants Latvia to assume greater responsibility for the welfare of the active and retired Russian military in Latvia. The Latvian side simply wants all troops out by fall of 1993. Sergei Zotov, leader of the Russian delegation, expressed dismay over Latvia's desire to internationalize the troop withdrawal process and to bring up the issue at the UN, while Latvia felt offended that the Russian delegation continues to act as if Latvia joined the USSR voluntarily. (Dzintra Bungs) RIGHTS OF ESTONIA'S RUSSIANS ON AGENDA. Vasilii Svirin, Russia's chief negotiator for talks with Estonia, told reporters that the next round of talks between the two states would focus on the rights of ethnic Russians in Estonia. Svirin called that particular sphere of problems "one of the most difficult" in the talks. The next round of talks is set for October. BNS reported Svirin's remarks. (Riina Kionka) UKRAINE ENDORSES BALTIC STANCE. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Anatolii Zlenko has confirmed his country's support for Baltic efforts to achieve a speedy withdrawal of Russian troops from their territories. Zlenko also told Janis Lovniks, the newly appointed Latvian charge d'affaires in Ukraine, that his country considers the presence of former USSR troops in the Baltic States to be a violation of international norms, BNS reported on 23 September. (Dzintra Bungs) EC TO HELP FIGHT BALTIC SEA POLLUTION . On 24 September in Helsinki the European Community signed a new convention to fight pollution in the Baltic Sea, Western agencies report. In order to give the document more weight the Baltic littoral countries -Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany, and Denmark-asked the EC to endorse the new convention drawn up in April to replace a 1974 treaty. The new convention will go into effect as soon as all the signatory states ratify it. Meanwhile, these states are already monitoring and trying to curb pollution, especially with regard to the dumping and incineration of waste materials. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIA NEEDS MONEY TO MAINTAIN PRISONS. Latvia's minister of internal affairs, Ziedonis Cevers, appealed to businessmen for funds to be used to maintain various law enforcement facilities, including prisons. He said that his ministry has not received an expected 500 million rubles from the state budget, and if the deficit cannot be covered, certain detention facilities will have to be closed and some law enforcement activities will have to stop, Radio Riga reported on 22 September. The reason the ministry has not yet received its allocation is that payments into the state budget are coming in more slowly than anticipated. (Dzintra Bungs) JEWISH GENOCIDE DAY COMMEMORATED IN LITHUANIA. On 24 September Lithuania joined Israel in commemorating "Jewish Genocide Day," the RFE/RL Lithuanian Service reports. In official ceremonies, presided over by Supreme Council Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis, 20 crosses-12 posthumously-were presented to people who at great risk had rescued Jews from certain death during World War-II. It is planned to award more medals in the future. (Saulius Girnius) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba & Charles Trumbull
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.