|If you are not allowed to laugh in heaven, I don't want to go there. - Martin Luther|
No. 189, 01 October 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER RESIGNS. Ukrainian Prime Minister Vitold Fokin offered his resignation on 30 September, Ukrinform-TASS and Western news agencies reported. The announcement was made by President Leonid Kravchuk in his address to the parliament. Kravchuk asked Fokin to stay on until a new head of government is appointed. Fokin was quoted as saying that his decision to resign was dictated by his desire to ensure peace and consensus in the country, and added that his economic program would continue in his absence. Fokin also blamed constant attacks by the media for his decision to resign; as he told Reuters: "This has been brewing for a long time and I see no sign of it ending." Meanwhile, Vyacheslav Chornovil, the leader of the opposition Rukh movement, declared that Fokin's departure was "a victory for reform and democracy in Ukraine." (Roman Solchanyk) UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT SEEKING WAY OUT OF CRISIS. Heated debate, broadcast live by Radio Ukraine, continued in the Ukrainian parliament on 1-October following the resignation of Prime Minister Vitold Fokin. It confirmed not only the deep economic crisis in which Ukraine finds itself, but also the crisis in government and the division of political powers. Amid calls for the creation of a government of national conciliation, numerous deputies argued that the entire Cabinet of Ministers should resign along with Fokin, leaving the new prime minister freedom to create a new government capable of accelerating reforms. Rukh's leader Vyacheslav Chornovil on 30 September called on President Kravchuk to assume control of the government until the end of the year. (Bohdan Nahaylo) SHAPOSHNIKOV CALLS FOR RUSSIAN "STATEHOOD" FOR NUCLEAR WEAPONS. In a 30 September Krasnaya zvezda article, CIS Marshal Shaposhnikov suggested that the existence of nuclear weapons on the territory of four former Soviet republics would complicate the implementation of the START treaty. He proposed giving nuclear weapons their own "statehood," which would be Russian. This move would presumably entail greater Russian operational and administrative control over the weapons. Shaposhnikov noted that Belarus and Russia are close to agreement on this point, while Kazakhstan is drawing nearer. (John Lepingwell) UKRAINE REJECTS INCREASED RUSSIAN CONTROL OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS. Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk rejected CIS Marshal Shaposhnikov's call for increased Russian control over nuclear weapons in a speech to the Ukrainian parliament on 30 September, as reported by Interfax and Western news agencies. Kravchuk stated that Ukraine "does not want to keep its fingers on the nuclear button, but it should give the world community guarantees that the nuclear weapons stationed on its territory will not be used by a third state." While reiterating Ukraine's determination to become a non-nuclear state, his remarks reaffirmed Ukraine's commitment to maintaining substantial control over the weapons and their elimination. Kravchuk also rejected the idea of Ukraine joining any CIS defense alliance. (John Lepingwell) SHAPOSHNIKOV RENEWS CALL FOR JOINT CIS MILITARY. In an article in Krasnaya zvezda on 30-September, CIS Marshal Evgenii Shaposhnikov urged closer CIS military cooperation. Criticizing US attempts to create a "unipolar world," Shaposhnikov warned of a possible new North-South confrontation and called for the CIS to act as a "stabilizing counterweight" between the North and South. To strengthen the military role of the CIS, Shaposhnikov called for a joint military structure, possibly including mixed troop formations made up of units from the CIS states. He also called for the CIS states to coordinate policies on military personnel to prevent rising disparities between the national armies and subsequent unrest within the military. (John Lepingwell) MUSLIM LEADERS REACT TO SHAPOSHNIKOV'S REMARKS. The Co-Chairman of the Caucasus Supreme Religious Council, Sheikh Muhammad Karachai, said on 30 September that many Russian leaders were infected with an anti-Islamic virus, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Moscow. Karachai was reacting to a statement by CIS commander Evgeniy Shaposhnikov to Krasnaya zvezda, in which Shaposhnikov said a system of collective security for the CIS could counter growing Islamic influence. Karachai, who was attending an international Islamic conference in Moscow, said Russian leaders would have to face the reality that Muslims seek ways of unification. However, Salman Musaev, a Muslim official from the Caucasus, and the Kazakh mufti Aslanbek Abdurakhman Ali, who were also attending the conference, rejected the idea of a political union between the Central Asian states and other Islamic nations. (Ann Sheehy) RUSSIAN REINFORCEMENTS ARRIVE IN TAJIKISTAN. Reinforcements for the Russian troops stationed in Tajikistan have arrived in Dushanbe and taken control of the city's airport; Tajik fighters who had been besieging Russian troops in the southern part of the country have ended their blockade, Western and Moscow agencies reported on 30 September. A Tajik security official said that roads into Dushanbe have been put under strict control to prevent arms being brought into the city. Acting President Akbar Iskandarov appealed to both CIS leaders and the UN to help stop the fighting, because Tajikistan's government cannot do so. The 30 September issue of Megapolis-Ekspress speculates that the commander of the CIS troops in Tajikistan, Major-General Mukhriddin Ashurov, might be named to the vacant post of Minister of Defense. (Bess Brown) MORE REFUGEES IN DUSHANBE. Refugees from the fighting in southern Tajikistan are flooding into Dushanbe, Western and Moscow agencies reported on 30 September, and hundreds of refugees from Kurgan-Tyube, the opposition stronghold, are picketing the Russian ambassador's residence demanding an end to Russian interference in Tajikistan. They are presumably reacting to rumors that the Russian forces have given weaponry and equipment to supporters of deposed President Rakhmon Nabiev. Russian military sources insist that pro-Nabiev fighters from Kulyab Oblast forcibly seized equipment from the Russian troops to use in their battles in Kurgan-Tyube. According to the 30 September issue of Megapolis-Ekspress, law enforcement officials of the ministry of internal affairs and National Security Committee who are supposed to stay neutral in the interregional fighting are getting involved on the side of their region of origin. (Bess Brown) KULYAB PEACE DEMANDS. The 30 September issue of Megapolis-Ekspress lists demands made of the government in Dushanbe by pro-Nabiev forces in Kulyab Oblast that would have to be met before the Kulyab fighters would agree to lay down their arms. One of these demands, the appointment of Communist economist Abdumalik Abdullodzhanov as prime minister, has already been met. Other demands include the removal of prominent opposition figures from the government: Deputy Prime Minister Davlat Usmon of the Islamic Renaissance Party, Tajik Radio and TV Chairman Mirbobo Mirrakhimov of Rastokhez, and deputy National Security Committee Chairman Davlat Aminov. The Kulyab forces would also like to see Akbar Turadzhonzoda removed from his post as the highest-ranking Muslim clergyman in Tajikistan. (Bess Brown) VOUCHER PRIVATIZATION BEGINS TODAY AMID UNCERTAINTY. The Russian government will launch its mass privatization program today by beginning to issue vouchers to each Russian citizen. The distribution process is scheduled to last three months. The vouchers represent claims on state assets which will be auctioned off beginning some time next year. Western news agencies on 30 September catalogued the problems confronting the program. The major obstacles include: delays in printing and delivering the vouchers; delays in state enterprises transforming themselves into public share companies; outstanding questions about which state assets the vouchers can be traded for; and confusion among the Russian people over how the voucher program works. (Erik Whitlock) CONTROVERSY OVER VALUE OF RUSSIAN VOUCHERS. Issued with a face value of 10,000 rubles, the real value of the vouchers to its holder has been a focus of heated political debate. The real value of any given voucher will be decided by the "market" in which a holder chooses to trade. The holder may participate directly in auctions for state assets, in which case the value will depend on the bidding process for the assets. Holders may trade their vouchers for shares in an investment fund, in which case the value to holders depends on the quality of investment decisions the fund makes. Finally, if holders sell their vouchers for cash, the value will depend on supply and demand on this "secondary" market. In the uncertain economic conditions in Russia, it is very hard to predict the outcome of any of these choices. (Erik Whitlock) SHEINIS DEFENDS ABKHAZIA STATEMENTS. Russian parliamentarian Viktor Sheinis told a press conference on 30 September that the documents adopted by the parliament the previous week (on 25-September) were fully in accord with international norms. According to international law, Sheinis said, "the protection of human rights is not an internal affair and Russia, like any other state, can raise the question of human rights, wherever they are violated." On the question of arms controlled by forces in Russia's Transcaucasian Military District, Sheinis said that under no circumstances should Russia transfer these weapons to Georgian authorities, ITAR-TASS reported. (Suzanne Crow) CRIMEAN SEPARATISTS "REORGANIZE." The Republican Movement of the Crimea (RDK), which has spearheaded the drive for Crimean independence, has reconstituted itself as the Russian Movement of the Crimea (RDK), Radio Ukraine reported on 29 September. The name change was announced in a statement saying that the old RDK had been rendered "illegal" by the recent changes to the Crimean Constitution, that is, by the Crimean parliament's compliance with Kiev's demand that the peninsula bring its constitution and laws in line with the Ukrainian Constitution. The new RDK maintained that the Crimea's future lies in its union with the CIS, even if the latter is restricted to Russia. (Roman Solchanyk) CONSTITUTIONAL COURT STILL DEMANDS TESTIMONY OF GORBACHEV, FALIN. In response to summons from the Russian Constitutional Court, Valentin Falin, the former chief of the International Department of the CPSU Central Committee, who is now receiving medical treatment in Germany, listed seven conditions which the court would have to meet before he would agree to testify, "Novosti" reported on 30 September. These included full reimbursement for round-trip airfare and other expenses related to his trip to Moscow. Moreover, according to Western agencies on 30 September, Falin said that he would testify only if former CPSU Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev did the same. ITAR-TASS reported on 30-September that the court was willing to pay for Falin's airfare, but that it rejected Falin's linking his testimony to that of Gorbachev. Also on 30 September, Reuters reported a statement by the court chairman, Valery Zorin, that he might have to order "executive authorities" to ensure Gorbachev's appearance. On October 1, the court will receive testimony from former USSR Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzhkov, who has criticized Gorbachev for the latter's refusal to testify. (Julia Wishnevsky) SITUATION IN KABARDINO-BALKARIA NORMALIZING. ITAR-TASS reported on the morning of 30-September that the situation in Kabardino-Balkaria was normalizing. The agency said that the Executive Committee of the Congress of the Kabardinian people had disassociated itself from the movement's fighters who were demonstrating, and that labor collectives were supporting the president and government. Roadblocks had been removed from all roads and the airport. However, supporters of the Confederation of the Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus and the fighters were preparing to hold a new meeting demanding the resignation of the president of the republic. Krasnaya zvezda of 30 September expressed concern that those meeting included more and more volunteers returning from Abkhazia. (Ann Sheehy) GAIDAR VISITS AZERBAIJAN, ARMENIA. A Russian government delegation headed by Prime Minister Egor Gaidar travelled to Baku on 30 September. Gaidar met with Azerbaijani President Abulfaz Elchibey and signed a number of bilateral economic agreements, ITAR-TASS reported. In a letter addressed to Russian President Boris Yeltsin, Elchibey expressed the hope that the visit marked the beginning of a new chapter in Azerbaijani-Russian relations. Gaidar then travelled to Erevan for talks with President Levon Ter-Petrossyan and Prime Minister Khosrow Arutyunyan. According to Interfax, Armenian officials requested that Russia create an air defence system on Armenian territory. (Liz Fuller) RUSSIAN BORDER TROOPS TO LEAVE GEORGIA BY MAY 1994. The head of Georgia's Central Border Protection Administration, Colonel Otar Gumberidze, told Interfax that an agreement has been reached whereby Russian border troops will be withdrawn from Georgia beginning in 1993; the withdrawal will be completed by 7 May 1994. Gumberidze conceded that at present Georgia is "physically unable" to protect its border with Turkey and has proposed that Russia and Georgia jointly finance protection of that section of the frontier for the time being. (A similar arrangement has been concluded between Russia and Azerbaijan over protection of the frontier between Iran and Azerbaijan). (Liz Fuller) MORE FIGHTING IN WESTERN GEORGIA. Clashes are continuing in western Georgia between Georgian National Guard contingents and supporters of ousted president Zviad Gamsakhurdia. Georgian forces retook the town of Khobi last week and on 30-September repulsed an attempt by Gamsakhurdia's supporters to occupy the police station in Senaki; four of the attackers were killed in an ensuing gunfight, according to ITAR-TASS. (Liz Fuller) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE COSIC, TUDJMAN SIGN ACCORD. Radios Croatia and Serbia report on 30 September that Croatia's President Franjo Tudjman and Dobrica Cosic, president of the rump Yugoslavia, signed a joint 8-point declaration in Geneva. The agreement calls for the withdrawal of the federal Yugoslav army from Croatian Prevlaka Peninsula, strategically located on the Croatian-Montenegrin border. The federal forces are to leave by 20 October, thus removing the threat of renewed attacks on Dubrovnik and formally achieving the withdrawal of the federal army from Croatia. Prevlaka would be demilitarized and placed under UN supervision. The leaders also renewed pledges to use their influence to end fighting in Bosnia, condemned "ethnic cleansing," reiterated existing commitments that borders can not be changed by force, and agreed to consider the normalization of relations between the Republic of Croatia and Yugoslavia (Serbia-Montenegro). (Milan Andrejevich) SERB REACTIONS. On 29 September, before the accord was signed, Col. Miodrag Miladinovic, the federal commander at Prevlaka, reportedly warned that his troops would defend the peninsula, which protects the key naval base in the Bay of Kotor, with force "if the politicians lose it." Upon hearing of the signing of the Tudjman-Cosic accord, Bozidar Vucurevic, the Serb leader from eastern Herzegovina, was said to have called it "harmful to Herzegovina's Serbs," because Croatian forces are now in a better position to penetrate Serb-controlled areas. Ultranationalist Serb leaders like Vojislav Seselj have allegedly described plans to withdraw the federal forces from Prevlaka as "shameful and treasonous." Radio Serbia carried the reports. (Milan Andrejevich) ETHNIC CLEANSING COMES TO SARAJEVO. The BBC on 1 October quoted Muslim refugees as saying that armed Serbs had systematically forced them to flee their homes in two Sarajevo suburbs the previous day. They were given as little as 15 minutes to prepare, and one woman told the BBC that she was raped before she could reach Muslim lines. The Serbs have been trying to split Sarajevo into two for some time. In Washington, the Senate voted to approve up to $50 million in military aid to the Bosnian government, whose forces are greatly outgunned by the Serbs, but the measure is unlikely to be approved by the House or the White House, the Los Angeles Times says on 1 October. Meanwhile in Geneva, international mediators Cyrus Vance and Lord Owen announced on 30 September that leaders of the two sides have agreed to start talks on demilitarizing the Bosnian capital under the good offices of UNPROFOR. (Patrick Moore) CZECHOSLOVAKS HOLD FINAL DEBATE ON SPLIT. The Czechoslovak parliament held its final debate on 30 September on a draft law on the division of Czechoslovakia, with most opposition deputies rejecting the law and calling for a referendum on the issue. The parliament is to vote on the law on 1-October. Commenting on the prospective split of the country, former Czechoslovak President Vaclav Havel told CSTK that a referendum on whether Czechoslovakia should split does not make sense any longer. He said he could not imagine a referendum in Slovakia which would decide anything. Havel, however, suggested that a referendum could be held to ratify the split. In the evening of 30 September, Havel met for dinner with Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus. Speaking to reporters afterwards, Klaus rejected the idea of a ratification referendum. He said that "the referendum issue is a game the opposition parties are playing" and that it is useless to "waste energy on referendum arguments." (Jiri Pehe) SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER ON ARMY, FOREIGN RELATIONS. Vladimir Meciar told the Slovak Press Agency on 30 September that Slovakia will establish its own ministry of defense. Meciar also said that, with the exception of Hungary, Slovakia's relations with other countries are good. He argued that the relations with Hungary could improve but that, like Slovakia, Hungary must take steps in that direction. The Slovak premier further said that he was unhappy about a letter which he received on 30 September from Hungarian Prime Minister Antall in which, in Meciar's words, "Antall accused Slovakia of violating Hungary's borders and threatening Hungary's sovereignty." Meciar also defended the performance of his government during the first 100-days in office against sharp criticism from opposition parties. (Jiri Pehe) HUNGARIAN DEMOCRATIC FORUM POSTPONES CONVENTION. According to MTI, the ruling party will hold its fourth national meeting at the end of January and not at the end of November as planned. The presidium of the party denied that the meeting was postponed for political reasons-i.e., because of the controversy surrounding the pamphlet written by one of the forum's vice presidents, Istvan Csurka. Rather, they say, more time is needed to concentrate on parliamentary work. (Judith Pataki) RECOUNT IS CALLED IN ROMANIAN VOTE. Romania's electoral bureau said on 30-September that some 3.6 million votes had to be declared void because people failed to understand the complicated ballot papers. Rompres quoted a Romanian official as saying that 13.6% of votes cast for the Chamber of Deputies were annulled, along with 12.9% for the Senate, and 4.8% for the presidency. In a communique broadcast by Radio Bucharest on 30-September, Romania's Central Electoral Bureau called for a recount within 24 hours. The Democratic Convention, an alliance of the main opposition forces, pointing to the unusually high number of invalid ballots, expressed serious doubts about the accuracy of counting procedures. The counting will now probably take several more days. (Dan Ionescu) ILIESCU CALLS FOR COALITION. On 30 September President Ion Iliescu called for a government of national unity to cope with Romania's "grave problems." Speaking at a press conference, Iliescu expressed hopes that his Democratic National Salvation Front and the centrist Democratic Convention could find "a platform of minimal understanding." He suggested that a wide-based coalition might include all political groups in the new parliament. Another alternative mentioned by Iliescu was that of a cabinet of technocrats accepted by all parties in parliament. Iliescu also described fears of a slowdown in economic reforms after his party's victory as unfounded, but added that reforms should be made "tolerable." (Dan Ionescu) HOUSE REJECTS MFN TRADE STATUS FOR ROMANIA. The US House of Representatives rejected on 30 September by a 283 to 88 vote the restoration of most-favored-nation trade status to Romania. There was no debate before the vote, which had been delayed because some members of the Congress wanted to see the results of the elections. Romania is currently the only East European country which does not enjoy the MFN status, which grants low tariffs to exports to the United States. (Dan Ionescu) ANOTHER SETBACK FOR POLISH MASS PRIVATIZATION. The Sejm voted on 30-September to postpone any decision on whether to send the government's mass privatization program to committee, pending an official reckoning of the costs of the program. Privatization Minister Janusz Lewandowski said the program would be self-financing, thanks to World Bank and EC assistance and fees paid by participants. But objections as to costs missed the point, he added, as mass privatization aims to improve the performance of 600 selected firms and rapidly broaden private ownership. Indeed, finances do not seem to have been the real concern of the program's opponents; their zeal for healthy state budgets is sporadic. Although the Sejm may still approve further work on the plan, the vote for postponement-172 to 147 (20 abstentions)-showed the parliamentary weakness of the government coalition and the potential strength of the state industry lobby. Mass privatization has been in the planning stage in Poland for two years. (Louisa Vinton) SEJM DEBATES DEFENSE INDUSTRIES. Sejm deputies also urged the government to save Poland's defense industries, which lost virtually their entire market with the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact. Defense Minister Janusz Onyszkiewicz reported on 30 September that 3-trillion of Poland's 26.5-trillion zloty defense budget is earmarked for equipment purchases in 1992. Domestic purchases will amount to 2-trillion zloty. The defense budget has been cut by nearly 60% since 1986, Onyszkiewicz noted, severely limiting state support for defense industries. Industry Minister Waclaw Niewiarowski said that planned restructuring would reduce military production to 19% of the 1988 level and eliminate 27,000 jobs. Of the 80-existing defense plants, only 28 would remain. Many deputies urged the government to expand international arms sales and exact payment for deliveries made to the former Soviet Union. (Louisa Vinton) HUNGARIAN BUDGET SENT TO PARLIAMENT. On 30 September, Finance Minister Mihaly Kupa presented next year's budget to the parliament. A deficit of 180-185 billion forint is anticipated. Kupa said two items are expected to spark debate: the introduction of a double-level value-added tax system and a change in the distribution of tax revenues between national and the local governments. Until now, this income was divided equally, but now local governments are to receive only 30% . Kupa said the new tax law is also ready to be sent to parliament. (Judith Pataki) BANKING REFORM IN BULGARIA. On 30 September, as part of the government's economic reconstruction program, 22 of Bulgaria's commercial banks were merged. The resulting corporation, the United Bulgarian Bank (UBB), will commence operations in January 1993. UBB assets are estimated at 18 billion leva ($788 million) according to Western sources. The move is the first step in the direction of privatizing Bulgarian banking, a process expected to take up to three years. The next banking merger is expected to be between Bulgaria's two largest financial institutions, the Economic Bank and Mineral Bank, which between them are expected to control over one third of the country's banking business. (Duncan Perry) BULGARIA MAY FACE ENERGY CRISIS. The consequences of an incident at the Kozloduy nuclear power plant last week, when short circuits caused a brief fire, could lead to severe power rationing Bulgarian officials warned on 30 September. Plant spokesman Yordan Yordanov first told Western agencies that a single 440-megawatt reactor would be operating during the next two months, though he later said experts are investigating a temporary solution that would allow a 1000-megawatt unit to be connected to the power grid within two weeks. In the meantime the Bulgarian National Electric Company has signed contracts for emergency electricity supplies from Ukraine and Moldova. (Kjell Engelbrekt) LITHUANIA, RUSSIA SIGN MUTUAL ACCOUNTING AGREEMENT. On 30 September in Moscow Lithuanian Deputy Prime Minister Bronislavas Lubys and his Russian counterpart Aleksandr Shokhin signed an agreement on settling accounts between the two states after 1-October, when Lithuania leaves the ruble zone and introduces its temporary coupons, Radio Lithuania reports. A similar agreement was also signed for the time when Lithuania introduces its currency, the litas. A further protocol provides for the settling within a month of all bills for goods and services made prior to 1 October 1992. (Saulius Girnius) ESTONIA'S FIRST BANKRUPTCY. A regional court in Estonia declared a merchandising company bankrupt on 30 September, marking the first bankruptcy in Estonia in the postwar period. The case against Norten, Ltd. is the first in what is expected to be a series of suits the government will bring in compliance with new bankruptcy regulations, which took force on 1-September. As of that day, Estonian companies owed the state some 235 million kroon, BNS reports. (Riina Kionka) MAYOROV PROTESTS TREATMENT OF MILITARY. Diena reported on 28 September about letter of protest addressed to the Latvian government by Col. Gen. Leonid Mayorov, commander of the Northwestern Group of Forces, demanding a halt to what he terms as provocative behavior of Latvian authorities against the Russian military. Mayorov also threatened that the army would use all means at its disposal to protect its own interests. The letter was prompted by Latvian efforts to monitor the movements of Russian military around several buildings in Riga and Jurmala that have been turned over to the Latvian authorities-but not yet vacated-by the military. One incident specifically mentioned in a report by Latvijas Jaunatne on 25 September involved attempts of the Latvian Home Guard to verify the documents of Mayorov's second in command, RAdm. Shestakov. (Dzintra Bungs) RUSSIA STEPS UP VERBAL ATTACKS ON BALTS. On 30 September Russian Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi urged Belgium to help defend the rights of Russians in the Baltic States. According to Interfax, Rutskoi made the statement to visiting Belgian Foreign Minister Willy Claes, who responded that Russia should remove its troops from the Baltic States. Rutskoi, in turn, said Russia wants to remove the troops, but has no place to house them. Meanwhile, Lithuanian Supreme Council Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis was quoted by Interfax as saying that Moscow is carrying out a new "Cold War" against the Baltic States. Landsbergis told reporters in Vilnius that Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev is leading a campaign against the Balts in talks in various international forums. (Riina Kionka) As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba & Charles Trumbull
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