|The fool wonders, the wise man asks. - Benjamin Disraeli|
No. 190, 04 October 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES OF THE USSR UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT VOTES OUT CABINET. The Ukrainian parliament on 1 October overwhelmingly approved a motion of no confidence in the cabinet of ministers, Western agencies reported. The decision followed Prime Minister Vitold Fokin's request to step down as head of government the day before. Ukrainian lawmakers gave President Leonid Kravchuk ten days to appoint a new prime minister, who then will work together with the President to form a new cabinet. The fall of Fokin and his cabinet was the result of constant charges by the opposition that the government was failing to implement economic reforms in the country. (Roman Solchanyk) KRAVCHUK VS CENTRALIZED CIS. Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk told parliament on 30-September that Ukraine will never allow itself to be subordinated to any kind of centralized CIS structures, Ukrinform-TASS reported. Kravchuk said that these kinds of ideas are currently being propagated, and that they are oblique references to recent proposals for tighter CIS integration made by Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbaev. At the same time, Kravchuk emphasized that as in the past, the closest possible ties will be maintained with Russia. (Roman Solchanyk) ADMIRAL KASATONOV REASSIGNED FROM BLACK SEA FLEET. Interfax on 1 October reported that the commander of the Black Sea Fleet, Admiral Igor Kasatonov, has been reassigned to the position of first deputy commander of the Russian Navy. The report indicated that a Russian-Ukrainian group of officers would assume command of the fleet in accord with a Russian-Ukrainian agreement to place the fleet under joint command until the end of 1995. The removal of Kasatonov had long been demanded by the Ukrainian government, which recently accused him of illegally selling off fleet assets to private concerns. (John Lepingwell) RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY AFFIRMS KURIL WITHDRAWAL PLANS. Japan's Kyodo news service reported on 30 September that the Russian government has reaffirmed its commitment to withdraw all Russian troops from the disputed Kuril islands. In a written reply to a query from Kyodo, the Russian Defense Ministry stated that the withdrawal, announced by President Yeltsin in May, will start after "politicians' decisions." No timetable was given for the withdrawal, although earlier Russian-Japanese talks had specified a one to two year time period. The Russian Defense Ministry has in the past opposed any such withdrawal. (John Lepingwell) RUSSIAN SUBMARINE SALE TO IRAN STILL ON? A Russian submarine is still sailing to Iran, the Washington Post reported on 2 October, despite Russian indications that the submarine sale was cancelled. The Post article indicated that the submarine was nearing the English Channel en route to the Persian Gulf. In response to the Russian sale, the US Senate on 1 October attached an amendment to a foreign aid bill that would cut assistance to Russia if it sells arms to Iran, Western news agencies reported. While the final bill must still be coordinated with the House of Representatives, the amendment was a sign of the seriousness with which the arms sale was being viewed. (John Lepingwell) CONTINUED STRIFE IN TAJIKISTAN. Fighting continued in southern Tajikistan on 1 October, ITAR-TASS reported, and the Russian division stationed there was taking additional measures to protect its equipment, some of which supporters of deposed President Rakhmon Nabiev have already stolen or otherwise acquired. Troops of the Tajik Ministry of Internal Affairs and prison administrators issued an ultimatum to the government and party leaders that they will release the inmates of correctional institutions if attacks on them are not stopped; armed groups have been raiding prisons in order to obtain arms from the guards. Meanwhile, Russian border guards reported more battles with persons seeking to cross the Tajik-Afghan border illegally. (Bess Brown) ABKHAZ FORCES LAUNCH NEW OFFENSIVE, TAKE STRATEGIC TOWN. A spokeswoman for the Abkhaz Supreme Soviet told an RL/RFE correspondent in Moscow on 1 October that the withdrawal from Abkhazia of volunteers from the North Caucasus had been suspended because Georgian troops were attempting to advance on Gudauta, where the Abkhaz leadership is currently based. Abkhaz and North Caucasian troops subsequently launched an attack on the coastal town of Kolkhida, ten kilometers south of Gagra, using tanks and rocket launchers, and took the town, inflicting heavy casualties on Georgian troops; they then advanced towards Gagra. The Georgian State Council convened an emergency session to discuss the situation. Whether State Council Chairman Eduard Shevardnadze attended the session is unclear; all scheduled sessions had been cancelled on 29 September because Shevardnadze was sick, according to ITAR-TASS. (Liz Fuller) RUBLE PLUNGES ON CURRENCY EXCHANGE. The ruble lost nearly 22% of its value against the dollar in narrow trading on the Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange on 1 October, Interfax reported. The dollar rose from 254 rubles to 309 rubles. The fall in the value of the ruble was generally attributed to fears of very high inflation (an annual rate of over 2,000% is expected in 1992) or hyperinflation. Acting Russian Central Bank Chairman Viktor Gerashchenko blamed the pending increase on the price of energy-carriers. Government adviser Aleksei Ulyukayev promised that the government would take unspecified joint measures with the Russian Central Bank to stabilize the exchange rate of the ruble, ITAR-TASS reported. And writing in Trud, Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Shumeiko called on the West to expedite the $6 billion stabilization fund to "correct" the ruble exchange rate. (Keith Bush) RUSSIAN RUBLE TO BE INTRODUCED? The Acting Chairman of the Russian Central Bank, Viktor Gerashchenko, told Interfax on 1 October that while his bank favored the retention of the ruble zone, Russia may have to introduce its own monetary and currency unit if other CIS governments insist on pursuing different economic policies and fail to agree upon and to coordinate policies. He called for clear government agreements on the size of credit emission in the ruble zone and on regulating credits provided to importers of Russian goods. Many observers believe that the ruble zone exists only on paper and that "Russian rubles" are already distinct from "Moldovan rubles" or "Kazakh rubles." (Keith Bush) OTHER CURRENCY DEVELOPMENTS. Belarus replaced the ruble on 1 October with a special coupon system in areas near the Lithuanian and Ukrainian borders, ITAR-TASS reported. A Belarusian National Bank official explained that the move was made because the introduction of non-ruble currencies in Lithuania and Ukraine could prompt an unwanted influx of rubles into Belarus. Lithuania replaced the ruble on 1 October with temporary coupons that will be used until the new Lithuanian currency, the litas, is introduced, Reuters reported. And Moldovan Economics Minister Sergiu Certan was quoted by Interfax on 1 October as saying that it would be a mistake to introduce a national currency now when Moldova is in an economic crisis. (Keith Bush) GORBACHEV ATTACKS YELTSIN. Former CPSU Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev told journalists that he is thinking about creating his own political party as part of a political comeback, but he added that the time for this was not yet right, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 30 September. He called President Boris Yeltsin "a loss," arguing that terrible mistakes had been committed in foreign and economic policies. He said Yeltsin's privatization plan was a "deception." He also criticized Yeltsin for not responding to Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev's proposal for tighter integration of CIS member states. Gorbachev recommended that President Yeltsin and other Russian leaders welcome Gorbachev advisors like Aleksandr Yakovlev into the inner circle of government decision-makers. (Alexander Rahr) FILATOV SUPPORTS YELTSIN. First deputy parliamentary speaker Sergei Filatov has joined forces with the democrats and called for an expansion of President Boris Yeltsin's executive powers. In an interview with Stolitsa (no. 38) he warned that parliamentary speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov is violating the constitution and seeking to create an administrative-command system in parliament, thereby restricting the rights of the deputies. He argued that the president should be given the right to dissolve at least part of the legislature, since parliament has the right to impeach the president. He noted that at the moment, the balance of power in Russia is distorted to the disadvantage of the executive branch. (Alexander Rahr) RYZHKOV TESTIFIES AT THE CPSU TRIAL. Speaking at the CPSU hearing in the Constitutional Court on 1 October, former USSR Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzhkov denied receiving instructions from the Communist Party leadership, Russian TV reported. Since the abrogation of the provision in the Soviet Constitution on the leading role of the Communist Party, Ryzhkov said that he answered only to the USSR President and his Presidential Council. However, Ryzhkov said that Gorbachev, who had combined the post of the CPSU General Secretary with that of the President, had often mixed up these two roles. Ryzhkov denied that the CPSU was the sole cause of the country's crisis. He said that immediately following the election of Boris Yeltsin to be Speaker of the Russian parliament in 1990, the CPSU in fact ceased to be the governing party, since its largest component, the Russian communists, became an opposition movement and could not act in the party's traditional manner. Ryzhkov also denied any wrongdoings by his government during the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986. (Julia Wishnevsky) TWO CHERNOBYL REACTORS TO BE RESTARTED? The director of the Chernobyl nuclear energy station told Reuters on 1 October that two of the station's four reactors will be restarted soon. The No. 3 reactor will be restarted in October and the No. 1 in November to meet increased demands for electric power in winter. Official pronouncements on whether the Chernobyl reactors will be recommissioned have been inconsistent and contradictory. The current intention appears to be that all power generation at the Chernobyl station shall be halted at the end of 1993 (see The Guardian, of 10 September). (Keith-Bush) KGB EXTERNAL SURVEILLANCE CODE MADE PUBLIC. The voice of the right nationalist opposition, Den, (Numbers 37-39) has published the complete instructions of secret surveillance methods employed by the former KGB. The document describes the techniques and equipment used by the KGB in overt and covert monitoring of its victims and opponents. The weekly obtained the instructions from former KGB officers, which left the agency because of "chaos and uncertainty prevailing in the present state security organs." Giving its own reason for the publication, Den wrote that the instructions can be used in support of the so-called "patriotic resistance" and underground activities in case pro-Western forces attempt to impose a direct dictatorship". (Victor Yasmann) SENATE RATIFIES START TREATY. On 1 October the US Senate ratified the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) which calls for Russian strategic to be reduced to approximately 6000 nuclear warheads, Western news agencies reported. The agreement must still be ratified by Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. Kazakhstan has ratified the Lisbon protocol, which commits the former Soviet republics to observe the treaty. A second US-Russian agreement to reduce Russian warhead levels to approximately 3,000 by the year 2003 has not yet been formalized as a treaty. (John Lepingwell) UKRAINE PLANS TO RATIFY START TREATY. In Washington on 1 October, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Anatoly Zlenko said he hoped that Ukraine would ratify the START treaty but noted that there were many opponents of ratification. Zlenko also met with U.S. Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney to seek US assistance in dismantling ex-Soviet nuclear weapons in Ukraine, according to RFE/RL correspondents' reports. (John Lepingwell) MILLENNIUM OF CHRISTIANITY IN BELARUS. The Belarusian Orthodox church,the largest in the republic,is concluding celebrations of its thousand year anniversary in Belarus, Radio Minsk reported on 29 September. In addition to special church services, an international conference in the Academy of Sciences was held, as well as a festive gathering in Minsk attended by state leaders. Speaking to journalists, Belarusian Metropolitan Filaret rejected accusations that the church is an instrument of Russian imperialism, arguing that priests are now encouraged to use the Belarusian language in sermons. However, the Belarusian eparchy is still a part of the Moscow Patriarchate.(Alexander Lukashuk) ROMANIAN, MOLDOVAN PRESIDENTS ON MOLDOVAN STATEHOOD. Challenged by an interviewer to speak out for the unification of Romania and Moldova, Romanian President Ion Iliescu told ECO Magazin (see the September-October 1992 issue ) that pro-unification propaganda in Romania "has backfired in Moldova, and not just among the Russian-speakers but among the Romanian Moldovans themselves. During the last two years one has witnessed there a movement away from unification...The [Moldovan] people's reservations on the issue of unification have grown." Moldovan President Mircea Snegur in turn told visiting Hungarian journalists on 30 September, as cited by Moldovapres, that "Moldova's independence is the choice of its people and no one has the right to conduct a policy opposing that choice...The existence of a Moldovan independent state is in the interest of all its neighbors, including Romania. (Vladimir Socor) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE CZECHOSLOVAK PARLIAMENT REJECTS LAW ON MODES OF SPLIT-.-.-. On 1 October the Czechoslovak Federal Assembly failed to pass a law on the modes of dividing the country. CSTK reports that in each chamber of the parliament the measure fell just short of the required three-fifths majority. The law would have allowed the federation to be dissolved without a referendum, which would represent only one four possible courses; the others would be a Federal Assembly declaration, an agreement by the republican parliaments, or unilateral declaration by one of the republics. Currently, secession by one republic based on the results of referendum held in that republic is the only "constitutional" way of dissolving the country. (Jiri Pehe) . . . AND ADOPTS RESOLUTION ON UNION. The Federal Assembly approved a resolution calling for legislation to create a "Czech-Slovak Union," which would replace the current federation. The resolution proposes a union consisting of a president, legislature, and governing council. The resolution was approved when deputies representing Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia banded together with opposition parties in voting for the resolution. Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus opposes the idea of the union. CSTK reports him as saying that the union "is not in the interest of the citizens of the Czech Republic, and we will not create it by any means." Klaus also sharply criticized the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia for supporting the resolution. (Jiri Pehe) ETHNIC CLEANSING CONTINUES APACE IN BOSNIA. The 2 October New York Times reports at length on the ethnic cleansing of some Muslim neighborhoods in central Sarajevo by Serb militants under the paramilitary leader known as Arkan. Their actions are in violation of pledges made by Serbian leaders at the London Conference in late August to halt the practice. The Washington Post adds that detention camps continue to operate despite similar promises by the Serbs to close them, although 1,500 Muslims were taken by 35 buses from the Trnopolje camp to Croatia on 1 October, the first such evacuation of inmates. Some of these refugees told reporters about massacres at the camp, including one of 125 Muslim men between 14 and 40 from the village of Hambarina near Prijedor in northwest Bosnia. Trnopolje has since been turned into "a kind of gruesome sanitized tourist attraction" for foreign visitors, but experts know of at least 21 other camps and suspect that many more exist unknown to the outside world. (Patrick Moore) SITUATION TENSE IN EASTERN CROATIA. A Russian colonel serving with UNPROFOR in Sector East near Osijek, Croatia, persuaded some 1,000 refugees not to continue a march to reclaim their homes in what is now Serb-held territory. Croatian politicians and the media have widely accused UNPROFOR, which they expected to return Serb-held areas to Croatian control, of helping to consolidate the Serbs' hold there instead. Osijek's outspoken mayor Branimir Glavas told Reuters that "patience is at an end." Meanwhile, international media said on 30 September that UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali warned in a report that ghting could resume in Sector East, given the determination of the Croats and the presence of lawless armed bands of Serb militias, estimated at 16,000 men. One UN official called the situation "profoundly insecure." (Patrick Moore) PANIC RETURNS TO BELGRADE AFTER US VISIT. Milan Panic, Prime Minister of the rump Yugoslavia, told reporters in Belgrade on 30 September that his trip to the US was "incredibly successful." He said the US was supportive of his peace efforts and that his request for oil imports for humanitarian purposes would be met on time, i.e. before the winter. Panic described the Tudjman-Cosic talks in Geneva, as positive and expressed hope that their agreement will ease the way to a final peace agreement with Croatia. Regarding Kosovo, Panic said Pristina University must be opened to the Albanians and that a solution must be found to reinstate "the several hundred professors" who were dismissed by Serbian authorities. Panic also reiterated his call for democratic elections and a free press. He proposed the "division" of Serbian TV, with its first channel presenting the views of the federal government and the second channel those of the Serbian government. Over the past three years, Serbian opposition parties have waged an intense struggle against the Socialist domination of TV editorial policies. Radio Serbia reported Panic's remarks. (Milan Andrejevich) ROMANIA'S OPPOSITION CHARGES ELECTORAL FRAUD. The Democratic Convention , an alliance of 18 centrist parties and organizations, stated on 1-October that it had "irrefutable proof" of manipulation of election results in at least one county-Dolj. The DC said it would ask prosecutors to annul the election and order a new vote there. Rompres quoted other instances of possible fraud from the Prahova and Dimbovita counties, where electoral officers had reportedly campaigned in the polling stations and spoiled ballots vanished before they could be verified. Meanwhile, the DC launched a drive to win the rural vote for Emil Constantinescu, its candidate in the 11-October presidential runoff. (Dan Ionescu) ROMANIA REACTS TO MFN VOTE. President Ion Iliescu expressed bitterness over the vote in the US House of Representatives against restoration of most-favored-nation trade status for Romania. Radio Bucharest quoted him as saying that the decision "protracts the discrimination to which Romania is unfairly subjected." Iliescu accused Hungarian-born US Congressman Tom Lantos of having "misinformed" the House on the situation in Romania. In a separate statement, the Foreign Ministry said that the House vote demonstrates both "a lack of understanding" for the changes in Romania and the "virulence of the anti-Romanian lobby in the US." (Dan Ionescu) PRESSURE INCREASING ON BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT. Osman Oktay, Secretary of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), said in an interview with RFE/RL on 1 October that his party is considering lodging a vote of no confidence against the UDF minority government next week. According to Oktay, the UDF should initiate a "joint analysis" of the present political situation with the MRF or risk standing alone in parliament. He also warned that the MRF has lost confidence in Prime Minister Filip Dimitrov. Meanwhile, President Zhelyu Zhelev told RFE/RL that the UDF cabinet under Dimitrov has gradually been isolating itself in Bulgarian politics. (Kjell Engelbrekt) OECD RECOMMENDS DEBT REDUCTION FOR BULGARIA. In a report released in Paris on 2 October, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development suggests that Bulgaria be offered a "substantial cut" in both its principal foreign debt and interest burden, Western agencies report. Without debt reduction, the report argues, Bulgaria can neither expect a significant inflow of foreign capital, nor will it be able to consolidate its economic achievements and speed up structural reforms. After a vote passed by the National Assembly last Friday, Bulgaria will be paying some 25% of the interest due for the last six months of 1992. (Kjell Engelbrekt) HUNGARIAN PROSECUTOR REFUSES TO INVESTIGATE 1956 KILLINGS. The head of the Military Prosecutor's Office in Gyor, Gyula Varadi, says that the killings did not constitute war crimes and after 15-years, in 1971, fell under the statute of limitations. Members of the Christian Democratic People's Party initiated proceedings against those who ordered soldiers to fire into a crowd at Mosonmagyarovar during the 1956 revolution. Some 100 died and 200-were injured. A CDPP representative says that he will appeal the decision. Defense Minister Lajos Fur commented that the killings should be considered war crimes and called it "unacceptable to close a case involving mass murder even if it took place 36 years ago," MTI reported on 1 October. (Edith Oltay) WALESA VISITS FSM PLANT. Polish President Lech Walesa visited the headquarters of the plant in Bielsko-Biala on 1 October. Walesa said he is fulfilling an election campaign pledge to help solve economic problems. He urged workers to take responsibility for their own fate. Citing unofficial sources, Polish TV reported that the president made Fiat's initiation of its formal takeover of the plant a condition of his visit. The final agreement between Poland and Fiat is now prepared, the TV report said, and will be signed in a few days, to take effect on 1 October. PAP reports that the plant's enormous debts were the sticking point in talks with Fiat, and that the state treasury has stepped in to guarantee nearly 2.5 trillion zloty ($180 million) in debts. (Louisa Vinton) SEJM GRUDGINGLY APPROVES BIELECKI'S PERFORMANCE. By a margin of 181 to 167 (25-abstentions), the Polish Sejm voted on 2 October to accept the performance of Prime Minister Jan Krzysztof Bielecki's government, which left office nearly a year ago. The vote had no legal implications, but offered an occasion for a test of strength between the opposition and the current government. Bielecki and two of his ministers now sit on the cabinet. The Sejm budget commission had recommended a disapproval vote, charging that Bielecki had caused a "collapse of public finances." Bielecki argued that no one could accuse him of shirking decisions and that a budget deficit of under 4% of GDP was hardly a catastrophe. The Center Alliance, which has been balancing between government and opposition, supported Bielecki, a move that may signal readiness to join the ruling coalition. (Louisa Vinton) ABISALA ON POLISH-LITHUANIAN RELATIONS. At a press conference on 1 October Lithuanian Prime Minister Aleksandras Abisala said that results of his recent trip to Poland were better than he expected, BNS reports. The talks were "correct, open, and friendly," and for the first time the problems of Lithuanians in Poland were discussed at a high level raising hopes that more attention will be paid to them. Polish Internal Affairs Minister Andrzej Milczanowski will visit Lithuania on 2 October. He noted that the ministries of justice should speed up the preparation of an agreement on legal assistance and that a planned visit by Polish businessmen should improve economic and trade cooperation. (Saulius Girnius) COUNCIL OF EUROPE CRITICIZES ESTONIA. Members of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly have criticized Estonia for not having allowed noncitizens to vote in the national elections. According to Estonian delegation member and former deputy speaker of the Estonian Supreme Council Marju Lauristin, quoted by BNS on 1 October, even the conservatives "attacked us very sharply. The psychological attack against Estonia has proved fruitful." The Council of Europe delegation that monitored last week's election has not yet filed its official report. (Riina Kionka) RUSSIA DENIES ANTI-BALT CAMPAIGN. Foreign Ministry spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky told BNS on 1 October that reports of an aggressive anti-Baltic Russian diplomatic campaign in the spirit of the Cold War are unfounded. "Such a campaign is just out of the question," Yastrzhembsky said, adding that the Baltic response to Russia's concern over the plight of Russians living in the Baltic "reminds me of the former Soviet Union's reaction to criticism for its violations of human rights." Earlier this week, Yastrzhembsky said that the way Estonia and Latvia are currently treating non-Balts could lead to a policy of "ethnic cleansing" along Serbian lines. (Riina Kionka) LATVIAN REPLY TO MAYOROV. In response to the protest note of Col. Gen. Leonid Mayorov, commander of the Northwestern Group of Forces, concerning Latvia's efforts to monitor the movements of Russian military personnel in Riga and Jurmala, the Foreign Ministry expressed regret about the inconvenience caused to R-Adm. Shestakov when he was briefly detained and asked to show his documents. The ministry pointed out that the guardsmen were acting on valid instructions and said that monitoring would continue. The incident occurred during the latest round of Latvian-Russian talks on troop withdrawal in which Shestakov participated, local media reported on 30 September. (Dzintra Bungs) NATO NAVAL DELEGATION IN LATVIA. On 1-October eight ships from five NATO member states arrived in Riga for a five-day visit. During their stay, members of the NATO delegation are to get acquainted with Latvia's defense and security situation, including the problems resulting from the continued presence of Russian naval forces. The arrival coincided with a conference on Latvia's defense policies, plans, training facilities, and future plans for foreign diplomats and specialists held by Latvia's Ministry of Defense. (Dzintra Bungs) FUTURE OF "NORTHERN TOWN" IN VILNIUS. The city government is engaged in discussions on the future of Vilnius's so-called Northern Town, 60 hectares of land now housing the 107th Motorized Rifle Division of the Russian army, BNS reported on 1-October. According to the 8 September agreement on troop withdrawal, the Russian troops should depart from the territory by 30 November. All fences, barracks, garages, and other worthless structures will be demolished and replaced by a modern social and commercial center with offices, conference halls, hotels, and restaurants. Since Lithuanian firms will be unable to build everything on such a huge territory, foreign investment is being sought. Depending on the pace of foreign investment, the project should begin in 1993. (Saulius Girnius) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba & Charles Trumbull
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.