|The person who knows how to laugh at himself will never cease to be amused. - Shirley MacLaine|
No. 191, 05 October 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR HEAVY FIGHTING IN ABKHAZIA. On 2 October some 3,000-4,000 Abkhaz National Guardsmen and volunteers from the North Caucasus captured the town of Gagra after heavy fighting with the 200-Georgian troops there; some 100 people were killed, Western agencies reported. The Georgian State Council announced plans to mobilize 40,000 reservists. State Council Chairman Eduard Shevardnadze flew to the Abkhaz capital, Sukhumi, where he told journalists that while Georgia had complied with the 3 September ceasefire agreement, Abkhaz forces had consistently violated it with the support of the Russian parliament. He vowed that Georgia would retake Gagra. Meeting in Tbilisi on 3 October in Shevardnadze's absence, the Georgian State Council voted to seize all former Soviet military equipment on Georgian territory. Also on 3 October, Shevardnadze's helicopter was fired upon as he travelled to Sochi for talks with Russian military officials. Gagra was reported calm on 4-October, but a representative of the State Council told AFP that the Abkhaz were committing "atrocities" against the civilian population. Georgian reinforcements were dispatched to the towns of Gantiadi and Leselidze, between Gagra and the Russian frontier. The State Council appealed to NATO Secretary-General Manfred Woerner and to the CSCE to help calm the situation, according to AFP. Addressing a rally in Sukhumi, Shevardnadze called on the Georgian population of Abkhazia to participate in the 11 October parliamentary elections which he termed the key to stabilizing the situation in the republic. (Liz Fuller) GRACHEV WARNS GEORGIA ABOUT ARMS SEIZURES. Russian Defense Minister General Pavel Grachev on 4 October warned Georgia that any attempts to take control of Russian military equipment in the republic could lead to armed clashes between Russian and Georgian forces. Grachev was responding to the recent Georgian State Council's decision to seize all Russian arms stationed in Georgia. ITAR-TASS quoted Grachev as saying that this decision was "a flagrant breach of earlier agreements" and that he had given orders to all Russian troops to prevent any forcible seizure of military facilities. Russian and Georgian authorities had previously worked out arrangements for the transfer of some Russian military equipment to the republic. In August, the Russians announced that the 10th Motorized Rifle division in Akhaltsikhe, stationed along the Turkish border, would be disbanded and its equipment handed over to Georgia. However, on 17 September the Russian Defense Ministry charged that Georgian units were attacking Russian troops and civilians, and warned that its forces reserved the right to fight back. (Doug Clarke) WESTERN CORRESPONDENTS VISIT TAJIKISTAN WAR ZONE. Reports on 2,3 and 4-October from Western correspondents visiting Kurgan-Tyube and other locations in southern Tajikistan provide some confirmation of charges made earlier by opponents of deposed President Rakhmon Nabiev that Russian forces stationed in the country are helping pro-Nabiev fighters. The pro-Nabiev forces from Kulyab Oblast have severely damaged the town of Kurgan-Tyube, and thousands of refugees from there were reported to be making their way to Dushanbe. In an interview on Tajik Radio on 4 October, Tajik Deputy Prime Minister Davlat Usmon, a leader of the Islamic Renaissance Party, compared the role of Russian troops in Tajikistan with that of Soviet troops in Afghanistan and accused the Russians of siding with forces opposed to the present Tajik government. (Bess Brown) EXPERIMENTAL LAND SALES IN RUSSIA. President Yeltsin has signed a decree "On Carrying Out an Experiment in Moscow Oblast in 1992 in Auctioning Off Plots of Land for Housing Construction," ITAR-TASS reported on 2 October. Officials in the Ramenskoye raion will be authorized to auction plots of land to residents of Moscow and the Moscow oblast for housing construction. They will be asked to submit reports within one month on the results of the experiment. The State Committee for Land Reform is expected to use the results to help determine land values in any future widespread land privatization. (Keith Bush) RUSSIA TO TIGHTEN CONTROL OF HARD-CURRENCY EARNINGS. Russian First Deputy Foreign Trade Minister Sergei Glazyev told Parliament on 2 October that the government would soon require state enterprises to sell all of their hard-currency earnings to the state, Interfax and Radio Rossii reported. At present, state enterprises must sell half of their hard-currency earnings to the state at the going market rate. Glazyev did not specify when the proposed measure would take effect. He told Interfax that firms had stashed away some $3.5-billion in foreign bank accounts, while an additional $1.5 billion was "outside government control." It is thought that anticipation of this move was a factor in last week's decline in the exchange rate of the ruble. (Keith Bush) KRAVCHUK APPOINTS ACTING PRIME MINISTER. Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk on 2-October appointed Valentyn Symonenko as acting prime minister, Ukrinform-TASS and Western news agencies reported. The move follows the resignation of Vitold Fokin and the parliamentary vote of no confidence in his government. Symonenko, who was appointed Kravchuk's representative in Odessa earlier this year, subsequently was named first deputy prime minister. His appointment came after Volodymyr Lanovyi, the market-oriented minister of economics and deputy prime minister, was sacked by Kravchuk. (Roman Solchanyk) RUSSIA, UKRAINE CONCUR ON FORMER USSR DEBT. Russian Prime Minister Egor Gaidar and Ukrainian President Kravchuk announced in Kiev on 3 October that their countries would accept responsibility for their individual shares of the $70-$80-billion debt of the former Soviet Union, but no more. The two nations are thereby rejecting the concept of "joint and several" responsibility for the debt to which they agreed with Western creditors last December. The concept of "joint and several" responsibility basically means that in case of non-payment on the former Soviet debt by one or more of the republics, the remaining republics must make up the difference. This decision by Russia and Ukraine may cause further problems in upcoming negotiations over debt repayment with Western creditors. (Erik Whitlock) RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN AGREEMENT ON TRADE ISSUES. Gaidar's visit to Kiev also produced an agreement between Russia and Ukraine on resolving their current trade dispute. Few details were provided. Western news agencies quoted Gaidar as saying simply that the agreement would contribute to "normalizing uneasy relations between the two countries." The recent dispute concerns outstanding payments between Ukrainian and Russian enterprises for imports. Russian unilateral actions to stem the growth of this indebtedness has significantly hampered already floundering trade between the two states. The documents signed by Gaidar and acting Ukrainian Prime Minister Valentin Symonenko also appear to include provisions for the introduction of a new Ukrainian national currency. (Erik Whitlock) DEMOCRATS AND CIVIC UNION SEARCH FOR CONSENSUS. Representatives of the "Democratic Russia" movement and the Civic Union have met to discuss economic reform and decided to set up groups of joint experts of various political groups to monitor and advice the government on reform, DR-Press reported on 4 October. Representatives of the Civic Union suggested that an invitation be extended to members of a right-wing group opposed to the group of experts, but the democrats rejected the idea. Members of the Civic Union said that the Arkadii Volsky's "thirteen point program," which had been published in Izvestiya on 13-September, was not the official economic program of the Civic Union. (Alexander Rahr) GORBACHEV BARRED FROM FOREIGN TRAVEL. ITAR-TASS quoted on 2 October a press release issued by the Russian Constitutional Court concerning its request that the Russian Foreign Ministry along with the Ministry of Security (formerly the KGB) ensure the appearance in the Court of former CPSU Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev. The request was made in response to Gorbachev's refusal to testify at the communist party hearings "and in the connection of his scheduled trip abroad." ITAR-TASS quoted the Constitutional Court as stating that the aforementioned ministries had taken "appropriate measures" to stop Gorbachev from going abroad. On 6 October, Gorbachev was supposed to begin a visit to South Korea; according to The Los Angeles Times of 4 October, after the authorities withdrew his passport, Gorbachev informed the Koreans that the trip had to be postponed. Gorbachev reportedly had plans to visit several Latin American countries; he also was to visit Berlin to receive that city's honorary citizenship on 6 November. (Julia Wishnevsky) YELTSIN SIGNS DECREE ON GOVERNMENT. President Boris Yeltsin has signed a decree on the reorganization of the government, ITAR-TASS reported on 2-October. It abolishes the ministry of architecture, construction and housing management, the ministry for industry and twenty-two state committees. Six new state committees, including one for industrial policy, will be created. Twenty-six other ministries will be reorganized and a new post of deputy prime minister for agriculture will be established. The former State Committee for Procurement (Gossnab) will be transformed into a share holding company called Roskontrakt. Yeltsin signed the decree before the parliament concluded its discussions on a new law on the government, which may cause new friction. In an apparent effort to minimize anticipated negative political reaction, Prime Minister Gaidar told an ITAR-TASS correspondent on 24-September that the current governmental structure was hurriedly thrown together in a moment of crisis as the Soviet Union was falling apart. The planned restructuring, he said, is simply an attempt to "instill order, [and] define functions and competence... [in] the hierarchy of agencies." (Alexander Rahr & Erik Whitlock) CRIMEAN MEJLIS TO HOLD EMERGENCY SESSION. Crimean Tatar leaders are calling for an emergency session of their parliament, the Mejlis, Interfax and Western news agencies reported on 4 October. The action follows a clash between Tatars and Crimean authorities after the latter ordered the removal of temporary houses built by the Tartars in the southern town of Alushta. More than 50 people were reported injured. (Roman Solchanyk) EXTRAORDINARY CONGRESS OF MOUNTAIN PEOPLES OF THE CAUCASUS. The two-day extraordinary congress of the mountain peoples of the Caucasus held in the Chechen capital Groznyi to discuss the situation in Abkhazia ended on 4 October, ITAR-TASS reported. Its final declaration calls on the official leaders of the North Caucasian republics to denounce the federal treaty that governs their relations with Russia as not in accord with the interests of the peoples of the North Caucasus. It also recommends that political organizations and movements in the republics demand that the leaderships strive for real independence, recognize the independence of Chechnya, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia, and create joint forces of regional security. If the republican leaderships refuse to do this, the confederation threatens to organize mass protests demanding their resignations. The congress also demanded the immediate withdrawal of all Russian troops from the region. (Ann Sheehy) CONFEDERATION OF MOUNTAIN PEOPLES RENAMED. The congress decided to rename the Confederation of the Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus the Confederation of the Peoples of the Caucasus in the hope that the local Cossacks and others would join it. In an interview with ITAR-TASS on 3 October, the confederation's president, Musa Shanibov, said that although Chechnya was the standard-bearer of freedom in the region, he still believed that the other 15 peoples who are members of the confederation should for the time being continue to link their fate with Russia to avoid a conflagration. A session of the confederation's parliament is due to take place in two weeks' time. (Ann Sheehy) PRESIDENT OF KABARDINO-BALKARIA CRITICIZES RUSSIA. Valerii Kokov, president of Kabardino-Balkaria, told Russian journalists on 4 October that Russia's policy towards the North Caucasus was "inadequate," and lacking in an understanding of the situation, ITAR-TASS reported. He said that the arrest in Nalchik of Musa Shanibov, the leader of the Confederation of the Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus, had been illtimed. The arrest sparked off round-the-clock protests meetings in Nalchik that are still continuing. Interfax reported on 4 October that protesters were still awaiting a response from the republican government to their demands that Russian MVD troops withdraw and that Kokov resign. (Ann Sheehy) POLL ON POLITICAL PARTIES IN AZERBAIJAN. On 3 October Interfax cited the results of a poll conducted by the Baku Center for Sociological Studies which indicates that the ruling Azerbaijan Popular Front is the most popular political organization in Azerbaijan, with a rating of 37.2 per cent among an unspecified number of respondents in the cities of Baku and Sumgait. The radical National Independence Party of Azerbaijan, headed by Etibar Mamedov, was second with 26 per cent. Among the Azerbaijani leadership, Iskander Gamidov, the pan-Turkist Minister of Internal Affairs, is supported by 58.7 per cent of those polled, followed by Defense Minister Ragim Kaziev (50 per cent) and Nakhichevan parliament Chairman Geidar Aliev (39.5 per cent). No rating was listed for President Abulfaz Elchibey. (Liz Fuller) OIL INDUSTRY DEVELOPMENTS. Azerbaijan has signed a preliminary agreement with Pennzoil, Remco, and Pennzoil Caspial to develop oil and gas deposits in the Guneshli offshore field in the Caspian Sea, Turan, RIA, and The Wall Street Journal reported on 2-October. The Western companies are expected to invest $2.5 billion during the next 10 years. Russia's top corruption investigator was quoted by Trud on 2-October as saying that corruption in the oil industry is "alarming" and that only one-quarter of the value of exported oil is repatriated. And the governor of Tyumen oblast told Reuters on 2 October that his oil industry will fight to keep its 20% share of oil revenues. (Keith Bush) KYRGYZ VICE PRESIDENT VISITS TAJIKISTAN. Kyrgyzstan's Vice President Feliks Kulov was the first representative of a CIS state to visit the war zone in southern Tajikistan, Tajik acting President Akbarsho Iskandarov told Interfax on 2 October. The following day Kulov told Interfax that the issue of a peacekeeping force for Tajikistan will be raised at the CIS summit on 9 October, and Tajik leaders will present plans for the deployment of peacekeepers. The opposing sides in the conflict agreed to support the deployment of a CIS peacekeeping force, according to Kulov, but want it to be made up of troops from a neutral state. (Bess Brown) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN UPDATE. International relief flights began again to Sarajevo on 3 October, following a one-month break after an Italian cargo plane was shot down by a shoulder-launched missile of undetermined origin. The thick Sarajevo fog forced a delay in additional relief flights on 3 October, but the BBC said that the first plane had brought new radar equipment to enable the airport to stay open throughout the fog season. The New York Times quoted President George Bush as calling Serbian bombing attacks in Bosnia a "flagrant disregard for human life" and supporting a ban on all flights in that republic except those authorized by the UN. In Strasbourg EC special envoy Lord Owen told an RFE/RL correspondent that the effects of ethnic cleansing by Serbian forces will eventually be undone by "persistent application of principle-.-.-. not over months but over years." Finally, Reuters quoted UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata and the chief of the International Committee of the Red Cross Cornelio Sommaruga as condemning ethnic cleansing, including what Ogata referred to as encouraging "rape of women of another ethnic group." (Patrick Moore) ALLEGATIONS OF SYSTEMATIC ASSAULTS ON MUSLIM WOMEN. Western news agencies on 2-October quoted Bosnian Serbian leaders as denying recent media reports that their fighters are systematically raping Muslim women, and military liaison officer Momo Starcevic promised to punish any guilty parties. On 25 September the Zagreb weekly Globus reported on a particular incident in which 40 Muslim young women from one village said they had been gang-raped by Serbs over a period of several days. One of the men told them it was part of a policy to wipe out the Muslim nation. Globus further reported that a team of UN gynecologists examined the women, confirmed their stories, and concluded that such mistreatment appears to be a "war strategy-.-.-. [ordered] from the top." The story was not corroborated, however. (Patrick Moore) ATMOSPHERE IN CZECHOSLOVAK COALITION DETERIORATING. After deputies of Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) supported a resolution of the leftist opposition in the federal parliament on the creation of a Czech and Slovak Union on 1 October, Czech officials charged Meciar with breaking earlier agreements between the coalition partners. Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus published a statement on 2 October in which he said that he feels betrayed. He said the HZDS's shift of position is dangerous "for the future of democracy in our country." After an emergency session of the Czech government on 3-October, Klaus made it clear that he has no intention of postponing scheduled meetings with the Slovak government to discuss further steps of dividing the country, despite Meciar's urging to do so. Klaus also said that Czechoslovakia will cease to exist on 1 January 1993, thus indicating that he will not take into consideration the federal parliament's proposal on creating a union between the two republics. Former President Vaclav Havel supported the Czech government's view; he was quoted by CSTK on 3-October as saying that a union would only prolong the agony. (Jan Obrman) CIVIC MOVEMENT BECOMES A PARTY. Delegates to a special congress of the Civic Movement, one of the heirs to the Civic Forum, which toppled the Czechoslovak communist regime in November 1989, voted on 4 October to transform the movement into a political party. Delegates abolished the movement's collective, open membership and replaced it with a fixed structure. Before the elections of June 1992, the Civic Movement was a dominating political actor on the federal level and in the Czech Republic, but it failed to win enough support in the elections to be represented in either the Czech or the federal parliaments. Former Foreign Minister Jiri Dienstbier was elected the party's chairman. He said the party's goal is to form a liberal, nonsocialist alternative in today's political scene. (Jan Obrman) FINAL RESULTS IN ROMANIAN PRESIDENTIAL RACE. On 4 October the Constitutional Court released the final results of the 27 September presidential race. Incumbent President Ion Iliescu won 47.34% of the votes, followed by Emil Constantinescu, candidate of the centrist Democratic Convention, with 31.24%; Gheorghe Funar of the Party of Romanian National Unity (10.88%); Caius Traian Dragomir of the National Salvation Front (4.75); Ioan Manzatu from the fringe Republican Party (3.05%); and Mircea Druc, a former prime minister of Moldova who ran as an independent (2.75%). Radio Bucharest quoted the president of the court as saying that the share of invalid votes (4.65%) was "normal." A runoff between Iliescu and Constantinescu is scheduled for 11 October. (Dan Ionescu) CONSTANTINESCU CRITICIZES VOTE COUNTING. The same day Radio Bucharest broadcast a statement by Constantinescu criticizing what he termed "confusion and lack of transparency" surrounding the vote counting. Constantinescu spoke of "serious irregularities" and stressed that roughly one in ten votes for the parliament had been declared invalid. He appealed to the authorities to show "a maximum of fairness" in staging the runoff for presidency, and challenged his rival Ion Iliescu to at least three debates to be broadcast live by Romanian radio and television. (Dan Ionescu) FUNAR BECOMES INTERIM PRESIDENT OF HIS PARTY. The National Council of the Party of Romanian National Unity (PRNU), the political arm of the nationalist "Vatra Romaneasca" (Romanian Hearth) organization, announced on 3 October that Gheorghe Funar was appointed the party's interim president at a council meeting in Cluj-Napoca. Funar placed third with almost 11% of the votes in the presidential race, while his PRNU was also third in the parliamentarian elections. Before appointing Funar, the council "suspended" former party president Radu Ciontea and "discharged" another four leaders. It also appointed a delegation including Funar to conduct talks in Bucharest on the building of the next government, Radio Bucharest said. (Dan Ionescu) IN POLAND, GAIDAR AGREES TO ZERO-SUM DEBT SETTLEMENT. Mutual debt claims were the focus of talks between Russian Prime Minister Egor Gaidar and Polish officials in Warsaw on 2 October. Gaidar and Polish Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka signed agreements on investment protection and cross-border cooperation. Gaidar pledged that Poland will be able to buy as much oil from Russia as it can afford in 1992 and 1993. Russia supports the idea of a "zero-sum settlement" of mutual debt claims, he said. President Lech Walesa earlier told Gaidar that Poland insists on a zero-sum solution. Polish TV reported that Poland owes Moscow $1.5-billion and 5-billion transfer rubles, while Russia owes Poland $300 million and 7-million transfer rubles. A joint commission was formed to settle the question. Gen.-Leonid Kovalev announced that the withdrawal of Russian combat troops from Poland will conclude by the end of October, two weeks ahead of schedule. Walesa said that Poland wants good relations with Russia, but with respect for the principles of partnership and democracy. (Louisa Vinton) POLISH MASS PRIVATIZATION MOVES FORWARD. Poland's mass privatization program survived an important test on 2 October, when the Sejm voted down a motion to throw out the government's draft legislation. PAP reported that the vote on rejecting the legislation outright was 146 to 180, with 17-abstentions. The vote on the mass privatization program, which aims to privatize 600 selected firms and distribute shares in 20 national investment funds to the general public, had been delayed because the Sejm demanded an official reckoning of the expected costs. Privatization Minister Janusz Lewandowski reported that the program would begin to pay for itself as soon as the first million citizens paid their minimal participation fees. Some 1020-million Poles are expected to take part in the mass privatization program. (Louisa Vinton) POLAND PLANS DEFENSE ACCORDS WITH NEIGHBORS. Defense Minister Janusz Onyszkiewicz told a press conference on 2 October that Poland plans to sign military cooperation agreements with Germany, Russia, Ukraine, and Lithuania in the near future. These agreements will resemble those Poland has already concluded with Hungary, France, and Latvia. Onyszkiewicz added that the defense ministry will not take an official stance on the issue of Col. Ryszard Kuklinski, the Polish officer who spied for the CIA for eleven years. There were many "question marks" about Kuklinski's behavior, Onyszkiewicz said, adding that Kuklinski had access only to those Warsaw Pact operational plans that involved the participation of Polish armed forces. (Louisa Vinton) SLOVENIAN ELECTIONS IN DECEMBER. Slovenia's first multiparty parliamentary and presidential elections since declaring independence from Yugoslavia in June 1991 will be held on 6 December. A second round is scheduled on 20 December for candidates failing to win more than 50% of the vote. There are currently eight presidential candidates, including the current president, Milan Kucan. Kucan, a former chairman of the Slovenian League of Communists, won in a run-off election in April 1990 during Slovenia's first multiparty elections since 1938. Recent polls show that Kucan is the republic's most popular politician. Radio Slovenia carried the report on 1-October. (Milan Andrejevich) HUNGARY TO RESTORE NAGYMAROS LANDSCAPE. The Hungarian government approved a plan to restore the landscape at Nagymaros, the Hungarian section of the joint Hungarian-Czechoslovak Gabcikovo-Nagymaros hydroelectric power project, MTI reports. If parliament votes to accept the plan in the coming weeks, work on restoring the landscape can begin next spring and is expected to take two and a half years. The major work involves removing the dam, filling the Danube river bed, and making the river navigable. Costs are estimated at over 7 billion forint. State Secretary in the Ministry of Transportation, Communications, and Water Conservation Zsolt Rajkai said that normal operations of the Gabcikovo dam on the Slovak side should not cause problems, but a peak operation raises the danger of flooding for both sides. Hungary started construction at Nagymaros in 1977 but pulled out of the joint project in 1989 because of environmental concerns. (Edith Oltay) ALBANIAN ECONOMY ON VERGE OF COLLAPSE. A study appearing in Business Eastern Europe, the weekly of the private consulting group, Business International, says industrial output in Europe's poorest country will likely drop by 17% this year to a level only 35% of what it was in 1990, at the time of the fall of the communist regime. Only one-third of the 300-largest enterprises are operating, unemployment in industry is at 50% and rising, and inflation, currently at about 220%, could shoot up as well. Foreign aid to Albania remains vital, the report says. At the same time Reuters reports that during a 3-October visit, Prime Minister Alexander Meksi secured an additional $30 million in emergency aid from Italy, the main donor nation to Albania, and established formal bilateral economic relations. (Charles Trumbull) OIL SPILL IN BELARUS APPROACHING LITHUANIA. On 3 October the Lithuanian Environmental Protection Department reported that nearly 200 tons of oil, spilled into the Nemunas River when a deranged person pried open oil containers at a furniture factory 70-kilometers from Grodno, are approaching Lithuania, BNS reports. Only a small portion of the Nemunas bank has been contaminated and workers at Druskininkai, Alytus, and Prienai have built barriers of hay to prevent the further spread of the contamination. (Saulius Girnius) SKINHEADS ATTACK GERMANS IN CRACOW. Three German truck drivers were attacked by skinheads in Nowa Huta, near Cracow, on the night of 1 October. One of the Germans died as a result of injuries suffered in the attack. Cracow police apprehended a group of 10 teenage suspects and placed four under arrest. About 100 skinheads waged a battle with police in the center of Cracow on the night of 2 October. One policeman was seriously injured. Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka expressed "deep sorrow and regret" at the incident, according to PAP. Hundreds of horrified Cracow residents placed flowers and lit candles at the site of the attack. (Louisa Vinton) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba & Charles Trumbull
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