|Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith. - Christopher Fry|
No. 195, 09 October 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR SUKHUMI RESIDENTS FLEE EXPECTED ABKHAZ ATTACK. Up to 20% of the population of the Abkhaz capital, Sukhumi, have fled in anticipation of an attack by Abkhaz forces, according to a Georgian Red Cross official quoted by Reuters. An Abkhaz representative in Moscow denied that an attack on the town was imminent. Georgian and Abkhaz forces engaged in shelling and small arms fire in northern Abkhazia, and two Georgian soldiers were killed when their armored car was destroyed by a landmine. The UN Security Council called for an immediate halt to the fighting and compliance with the 3 September ceasefire agreement, and voted to send an observer mission to Georgia next week. A request by Georgian Foreign Minister Aleksandre Chkheidze for NATO observers to monitor the Georgian elections was rejected on the grounds that other organizations are better qualified to do so. The First International Congress of Abkhaz in Lykhny addressed an appeal to the UN to support Abkhaz self-determination and to impose sanctions on Georgia, AFP reported. (Liz Fuller) CIS SUMMIT STARTS. The CIS summit in Bishkek started on 9 October with a joint session of the heads of state and heads of government, ITAR-TASS reported. All ten member states are participating, and Georgia and Azerbaijan have sent observers. ITAR-TASS said that it had been decided to postpone the adoption of a declaration on obligations in the field of human rights until a CIS summit in Minsk on 8 December. After two hours of discussion, agreements on coordinating economic legislation, the creation of an international TV company, the mutual recognition of property rights, and cooperation in ensuring stability on the Commonwealth's external frontiers were said to be ready for signing. Progress on the other items on the agenda seems to have been more limited. Agreement was reached in principle to create an intergovernmental bank for the ruble zone, and the CIS charter was given its first reading only. ITAR-TASS reported that an agreement on creating a Consultative Economic Working Commission (presumably a less tightly knit body than the planned consultative-coordinating economic council) would be adopted together with the charter at the next summit, and that it had been agreed to sign a document on the "course of the formation" of the economic court. (Ann Sheehy) CIS HEADS OF STATE TO DISCUSS NUCLEAR WEAPONS CONTROL. In Bishkek today, a proposal by CIS Commander in Chief Shaposhnikov to give Russia sole control over launch codes and the dismantling of nuclear weapons will be discussed, Interfax reported on 8 October. Russian Defense Minister Grachev claims that Belarus supports the proposal and will dismantle its weapons within three years, rather than the seven previously agreed. Kazakhstan has agreed on both control and dismantling issues. Ukraine rejects the proposal completely. On 8 October, Ukrainian President Kravchuk stated that Ukraine did not desire sole launch authority for its nuclear weapons, but insisted that it be able to veto any launch order from the Russian or CIS command. Kravchuk claimed that the proposal would complicate ratification of the START treaty. Ukraine has also been reluctant to allow the removal of the weapons to Russia for dismantling. It seems likely that the summit will produce a split decision, with Kazakhstan and Belarus handing over control to Russia, while Ukraine refuses, introducing even greater uncertainty into the nuclear control system, and increasing tensions between Russia and Ukraine. (John Lepingwell) DETAILS OF CIS DRAFT TREATY ON DEFENSE AND COLLECTIVE SECURITY RELEASED. According to Interfax reports of 8 October, the signatories agree to defend each other from external threats, in accordance with decisions by the CIS Council of Heads of State. The "United Armed Forces" of the CIS would apparently include strategic nuclear weapons as well as conventional forces. The draft agreement was initialled by nine states on 8 October, excluding Moldova and Ukraine. Azerbaijan initialled the treaty but is unlikely to sign it in the wake of its decision not to join the CIS. Ukraine claims that the treaty makes sense only until all its nuclear forces are dismantled. The treaty's provisions on nuclear forces are unclear: to be consistent with new CIS proposals on nuclear weapons, Russia would presumably assign strategic nuclear forces to the CIS command in the event of an emergency. (John Lepingwell) CIS PEACEKEEPERS FOR TAJIKISTAN. Following two days of talks mediated by a CIS delegation headed by Kirgiz Vice-President Felix Kulov, the Tajik Supreme Soviet agreed provisionally on 8 October to the Kirgiz proposal to send peacekeepers to separate the warring sides in south-west Tajikistan, Radio Moscow reported. Interfax quoted acting Tajik President Akbar Iskandarov as stating that only Kirgiz peacekeeping troops would be acceptable and not contingents from other CIS states. (Liz Fuller) SUBSIDIES RAISED ON IMPORTED GRAIN. The Russian ministries of finance and economics have announced an increase in the subsidy paid on imported grain from 80% to 95%, Interfax reported on 8 October. An unnamed finance ministry official was quoted as saying that, at current exchange rates (334 rubles to the dollar) and without a subsidy, bread baked with imported grain would retail at 100 rubles a kilo instead of the current 44 rubles a kilo, "putting it out of reach of Russian citizens." This development could revive earlier proposals by Vice President Rutskoi that Russian farmers be paid in hard currency for their grain sales to the state. (Keith Bush) FORMER SOVIET REPUBLICS FACING OIL CUTBACK. In an interview with an RFE/RL correspondent on 8 October, the deputy head of the Finance Department of the Russian Fuel and Energy Ministry elaborated on Russia's 7 October warning on oil shipments. Evgenii Lelenkov said that Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan are in arrears with payments for past oil deliveries and face reductions in supplies starting 12 October. The Baltic states were also said to owe Russia money for past deliveries of fuel and energy, but they enjoy positive overall trade balances with the Russian Republic. (Keith Bush) PARLIAMENTARY RESOLUTION CRITICIZES RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT. On 8 October, the Russian Supreme Soviet passed a resolution criticizing the way the government was currently implementing economic reforms. The resolution described the government's work as unsatisfactory, and called on the government to present within a month a series of measures to combat the crisis in the country. ITAR-TASS reported that the document was initially approved by a vote of 124 to 29. There were seven abstentions and 70 deputies were absent. Later the same news agency said that the voting procedure was deemed improper; consequently, the resolution was annulled and the deputies will discuss it again today. The Supreme Soviet also decided that the Congress of Peoples Deputies would meet on 1 December. The agenda will include the government's reform policy, a new Russian Constitution, and a debate on whether to prolong President Yeltsin's special powers. (Vera Tolz) KOKOSHIN DELEGATION LEAVES KOREA, VISITS CHINA. At the end of an historic five-day visit to South Korea, a Russian military delegation headed by First Deputy Defense Minister Andrei Kokoshin arrived in Beijing on 8 October. ITAR-TASS quoted Kokoshin as saying the his delegation would continue the work begun during the August visit of Chinese Defense Minister Qin Jiwei to Moscow. "Our program includes...discussions on a wide range of issues concerning our expanding cooperation with China, and the resolution of a whole set of practical questions," he added. (Doug Clarke) POLICE BLOCK EMPLOYEES OF GORBACHEV FOUNDATION. All Russian TV newscasts ascribed great prominence on 8 October to the police blockade of the Gorbachev Foundation and to Gorbachev's subsequent press conference. Gorbachev condemned the blockade of his research institute as "a stupid and arbitrary action," and alleged that Yeltsin's treatment of Gorbachev might be a test for Russian society generally and a sign of an impending dictatorship. Within hours of the issuance of Yeltsin's decree transferring the Foundation's premises to a Russian financial school, some thirty armed police officers surrounded the five-building complex to stop 200 foundation employees from entering their offices. The only employee whom the police did not dare to stop, the foundation's vice-president, Aleksandr Yakovlev, termed the action "the lawlessness without limits, like the 1917 [Bolshevik] revolution." (Julia Wishnevsky) ITALIAN FOREIGN MINISTER INSISTS ON GORBACHEV VISIT. According to the ITAR-TASS and the DR Press on 8 October, on 5 October the Italian foreign ministry instructed its embassy in Moscow to issue a formal note to the Russian foreign minister, Andrei Kozyrev, in view of last week's confiscation of Mikhail Gorbachev's travel documents due to his refusal to testify in the Constitution Court. The note cited Russian obligations to respect internationally recognized democratic norms, as provided by the conference on security and cooperation in Europe, of which both countries are members, and stated Italy's expectations that Gorbachev's visits abroad, including his planned visit to Italy scheduled to start in the mid-October, will take place as expected. At his press-conference held on 8 October, Gorbachev said that he would rather go to prison then testify at the CPSU the Constitutional Court hearings. (Julia Wishnevsky) FALIN REJECTS THE CHARGE OF MISUSE OF FUNDS. Valentin Falin, former head of the CPSU Central Committee International Department, on 8-October began his testimony at the Constitution Court hearings on the CPSU. Earlier, Falin refused to break off his lecture tour in Germany unless the Constitutional Court compensated him for expenses; the court met this condition. Falin is a prime suspect in the government's investigation of alleged CPSU embezzlement of public funds to subsidize "fraternal" (communist) parties abroad after the failed coup of August 1991. According to Falin, the CPSU always compensated the state bank with rubles for the hard currency it borrowed to support foreign communists. Falin added that the same system of the ruble compensation existed for Soviet trade unions, the Komsomol, the USSR Academy of Sciences, and other such bodies. Falin also denied that the Party had ever supported terrorists, apart from PLO fighters who, he maintained, are not regarded "terrorists" in today's Russia. (Julia Wishnevsky) RUSSIAN SPACE PROGRAM SAID TO BE ON THE MEND. Oleg Lobov, the chairman of the presidential Council of Experts, told ITAR-TASS on 8 October that the Russian space program "is pulling out of a crisis." He said he became convinced of this conversion of the aerospace complex. Lobov added that it was not true that Russia had lost its scientific and technical potential in this important field. The previous day, Valentin Stepanov, the director-general of the general engineering department in the ministry of industry, told a Moscow press conference that he hoped the Buran space shuttle would be launched again in November. The 36 meter long Buran has been into space only once-an unmanned flight in November 1988. It is carried aloft by the giant Energiya booster rocket. (Doug Clarke) YELTSIN ORDERS SPECIAL UNITS TO FIGHT CRIME AND CORRUPTION. President Yeltsin has ordered the establishment of an inter-branch commission under the aegis of Russian Security Council to combat organized crime, ITAR-TASS reported on 8-October. It will coordinate activities of the ministries of interior, security, and defense, as well as the state customs committee and the federal service for export and currency control. Under the direction of Vice President Alexander Rutskoi, the commission includes the first deputy of the speaker of parliament, Sergei Filatov, State Secretary Gennadii Burbulis, and the secretary of the security council, Yurii Skokov. The same decree authorized fast reaction teams in the MVD. Yeltsin's decision to establish these special units is probably the result of pressure from the Russian political right and the public's general dissatisfaction over rising crime. (Victor Yasmann) "RUKH" SUPPORTS CRIMEAN TATARS. "Rukh" has adopted a resolution condemning the authorities for the attack on the Crimean Tatar settlement in Krasnyi Rai on 1 October, "Mayak" and DRPress reported on 8 October. The destruction of the Crimean Tatar homes on the territory of a state farm there has resulted in an escalation of the conflict. "Rukh" calls the actions of the authorities a continuation of the genocide against the Crimean Tatars. (Roman Solchanyk) AZERBAIJAN TIGHTENS SECURITY ON IRANIAN FRONTIER. Azerbaijan has deployed tanks, armored cars and additional frontier troops along its border with Iran following a decree by Azerbaijani President Abulfaz Elchibey imposing a state of emergency in the Dzhalilabad and Yardymly raions in south-east Azerbaijan, according to an AFP report from Tehran quoting travellers. An Azerbaijani presidential spokesman said the move was intended to prevent the smuggling of drugs and contraband across the frontier. On 6 October ITAR-TASS reported a recent increase in frontier violations, including some by "groups of armed horsemen." (Liz Fuller) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE SERBS INCREASE PRESSURE IN NORTHERN BOSNIA. International media reported on 8-October that Serbian aircraft bombed Gradacac, Orasje, and Maglaj, which were also hit with incendiary shells. The towns are among the few still controlled by Croatian and Muslim forces along the strip linking Serbia with ethnic Serb enclaves in Croatia and western Bosnia. Meanwhile, an RFE/RL correspondent reports from the UN that Bosnia's ambassador presented that body with a list of alleged atrocities committed by the Serbs. He appealed to Islamic countries for aid, even if they have to supply protection for their missions themselves. Ambassador Mohamed Sacirbey added that Turkey, Pakistan, and Malaysia said they are willing to do this. Malaysia earlier had made a blanket offer of asylum for any Muslim refugees forced to flee "ethnic cleansing." (Patrick Moore) BULGARIA WANTS UN OBSERVERS ON ITS WESTERN BORDER. Bulgaria, through its UN Ambassador Slavi Pashovski, has officially requested the deployment of UN military observers on its territory, an RFE/RL correspondent reports. On 8 October Pashovski told the General Assembly that the conflict in ex-Yugoslavia might be more easily contained if the UN presence in the region were increased. He said Bulgaria would also accept a UN mission to monitor the application of sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro. Over the last few days observers and customs officials sent by the EC and the CSCE have been stationed along Bulgaria's western border and in its Danube ports. (Kjell Engelbrekt) CZECHOSLOVAK PARLIAMENT APPROVES POWER-SHARING LAWS. The Federal Assembly passed two constitutional amendments aimed at transferring federal powers to the Czech and Slovak Republics. The first amendment reduces the number of federal ministries from 15 to 5 (foreign affairs, defense, interior, economics, and finance). The remaining ministries will cease to exist and their jurisdictions will be assumed by the corresponding republican ministries. A second bill was first rejected and refereed to an arbitration panel but a compromise version was eventually approved. It will give the republics the power to investigate "crimes against the security of the state" and transfer state media institutions to the republics. It also ends the federal monopoly on film. (Jan Obrman) SUCHOCKA PRESENTS GOVERNMENT PROGRAM. Three months after taking office, Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka presented her government's full economic program to the Sejm. Poland most needs "a sense of order" and "clear prospects for growth," she said on 9-October. After three years devoted to transforming its economic system, Poland now has the chance to open a period of steady economic growth. The goal-to double national income in 10-years' time-could be met under certain conditions: legal stability and a strong state; increased domestic spending on investment; an influx of foreign capital; reduction of Poland's foreign debt; lasting social peace; and courage and self-confidence. Suchocka warned, however, that economic growth will require limiting consumption for the coming five years and that real wages can not grow faster than production. Suchocka's address preceded a debate on the government's economic plan for 1993. (Louisa Vinton) POLAND PRESSES FOR EC MEMBERSHIP TIMETABLE. On the second day of her visit to Brussels, Polish Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka urged the European Community to set a fixed timetable for full membership for the countries of the Visegrad triangle. Suchocka also pressed for better access to EC markets and authorization to use the $1-billion stabilization fund to finance Poland's budget deficit and enact banking reform. Speaking to the European Parliament on 8-October, Suchocka said that Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary "do not insist on rapid acceptance, but we would like to be taken into account in the construction of the European union." The EC's response was noncommittal; commissioner Frans Andriessen commented that "today was not a day to be specific." On her return to Warsaw, Suchocka nonetheless expressed confidence that Poland would join the EC within ten years and NATO even sooner. She added that Poland had restored its image among EC countries as a bulwark of stability in Eastern Europe. (Louisa Vinton) LAST DEBATE BEFORE ROMANIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. In a four-hour television program on 8 October, incumbent president Ion Iliescu and challenger Emil Constantinescu debated mainly economic issues. Constantinescu attacked the record of the Iliescu administration and asked viewers to consider whether there are any grounds to assume that things will improve in the next four years. He presented a program for economic redress and said a social moratorium was necessary for the economy to be put on the right path. Iliescu reiterated his views on economic "restructuring," saying that the state must have instruments for intervention when necessary, and attacked the Constantinescu's program, calling it "liberal idealism." (Michael Shafir) COMPOSITION OF THE ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT. The Central Electoral Bureau announced the first-cut distribution of seats in the parliament elected on 27 September. The final distribution will be established after the centralization of the results at country level according to a complicated system. At this stage, the Chamber of Deputies will comprise Democratic National Salvation Front (DNSF)-117 seats; Democratic Convention of Romania (DCR)-82; National Salvation Front (NSF)-43; Party of Romanian National Unity (PRNU)-30; Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (HDFR)-27; Greater Romania Party (GRP)-16; Socialist Labor Party (SLP)-12. In the Senate the seats will be distributed as follows: DNSF-49; DCR-34; NSF-18; PRNU-14; GRP-6; Democratic Agrarian Party-5; and SLP-5. Meanwhile, the DCR says it will contest the results of the parliamentary and presidential elections. The decision was announced in an official statement published in the daily Dreptatea on 8 October. DCR campaign manager Ilie Paunescu told Reuters that the protest will be filed because of "the large number of annulled votes, fraud attempts, and major irregularities." (Michael Shafir) KING MICHAEL REQUESTS VISA TO VISIT ROMANIA. Exiled king Michael has asked the embassy in Bern to issue a visa for a visit to Romania accompanied by his family. Teodor Melescanu, secretary of state at the ministry of foreign affairs, said in an interview with Radio Bucharest on 8 October that Romania's official position remains that in principle there are no objections to visits by the royal family, but only after the end of the present elections. He added that the government's willingness to grant entry permits referred to visits for pilgrimages, family commemorations and similar occasions. Other problems connected with what he termed "the clarification of the relationship between the royal family and Romania" must await the formation of the new government. (Michael Shafir). ROMANIAN CULTURAL CENTER OPENS IN BUDAPEST. Romanian Minister of Culture Ludovic Spiess said at the opening ceremony on 8 October that "in Budapest today Romania opens a new door to Europe" and "an opportunity for dialogue that the two countries urgently need." A Hungarian cultural center opened in Bucharest on 1 October. Spiess and his Hungarian counterpart Bertalan Andrasfalvy expressed the hope that the cultural centers will promote closer cooperation between the two countries. MTI carried the report. (Edith Oltay) POSSIBLE COMPROMISE ON THE MEDIA FRONT IN HUNGARY. Representatives of Hungary's three opposition parties told a press conference following talks with President Arpad Goncz on 8 October that they are willing to make "sound compromises" to end the country's media war. They agreed to enter into discussions with the government on the appointment of new radio and TV chiefs as well as the package of laws on the media. The opposition parties have until now insisted that the appointment of heads of radio and TV be discussed only after the enactment by parliament of the media laws. The government dismissed the radio and TV chiefs months ago, but they remain in their posts because President Goncz refused to approve the dismissals. Quarrels between the government and the opposition over control of the media have for the past two years blocked the passing of much needed laws on the media. (Edith Oltay) LAAR NAMED ESTONIAN PREMIER. As expected, Estonian President Lennart Meri on 8-October named Pro Patria chairman Mart Laar as his candidate for prime minister. Laar, 32, told reporters that Estonia needs to be more "energetic" in its dealings with Russia. Laar also said speeded up market reforms will be among his first tasks, Rahva Haal reports on 9-October. Laar's appointment will be put to a vote in parliament on 19 October (Riina Kionka) PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSIONS FORMED. Ten parliamentary commissions have been officially registered in the newly elected Estonian State Assembly, Rahva Haal of 9 October reports. With one defection from Secure Home, Pro Patria is by far the largest faction, with 30-seats. Other factions include the Central faction (15); the Moderates (12); the Estonian National Independence Party (11); and the Royalists (8). The election coalition Secure Home has split over ownership policy into two separate factions-the Coalition Party Alliance (8)-and the Rural Union Alliance. (Riina Kionka) ETHNIC COMMUNITIES DELEGATION IN LITHUANIA. On 7 October representatives of the Federation of Ethnic Communities of Europe held talks with the Lithuanian Supreme Council's Citizens' Rights and Nationality Affairs Commission as well as the Foreign Affairs Commission, Radio Lithuania reports. The latter's chairman Vidmantas Povilionis said that the delegation learned that Lithuania has already passed laws regulating the status of all minorities and not just some as is the case in many European countries. Povilionis suggested that Lithuania's laws could be a model for other countries. The delegation visited the Tatar mosque in Kaunas and the Russian cultural center in Vilnius. On 9-September the delegation will have a meeting with Prime Minister Aleksandras Abisala and hold a press conference before departing. (Saulius Girnius) WESTERN DIPLOMATS: HUMAN RIGHTS OBSERVED IN LATVIA. BNS reported on 7-October that Western diplomats told the press, that, despite Russian allegations, the rights of Russian-speakers in Latvia are not being violated. British ambassador Richard Samuel said that the Latvian government wants to observe human rights of all minorities and has not noticed any examples of violation of those rights. US embassy press attache James Kenny said that as far he is concerned, the Baltic States are observing human rights and noted that in response to US queries, Russia has failed to provide facts about claims of human rights violations. German ambassador Count Hagen von Lambsdorf pointed out that a distinction should be drawn between human and civil rights. Other diplomats noted that while human rights were being observed in Latvia, some problems were caused by the way the Latvian authorities are handling the citizenship and language issues. (Dzintra Bungs) REFERENDUM ON LITHUANIAN CONSTITUTION. On 8 October Supreme Council Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis held a press conference devoted to the new Lithuanian constitution, Radio Lithuania reports. After long negotiations the constitution projects presented by the Sajudis coalition and a parliament commission had been reconciled, he said, and the parliament's presidium had decided to call a special session of the parliament on 12-October to approve the holding of a referendum on the constitution on 25 October, when elections to the Seimas will be held. The Seimas would be empowered to approve the final version of the constitution. The draft calls for the direct election of the president for a five-year term. The president would offer a candidate for prime minister that the Seimas would have to approve. The prime minister would, in turn, offer candidates for his cabinet that the president would approve. The prime minister would then present the cabinet and his program for the approval of the Seimas. (Saulius Girnius) RAVNOPRAVIE DEPUTIES DENY COOPERATION. In response to Latvian Defense Ministry's protest concerning the anti-Latvian activities of the Association for the Defense of Veterans Rights, several deputies of the Ravnopravie faction of the Latvian Supreme Council denied their affiliation with the pro-Russian and pro-Soviet organization, while others did admit to contacts with it and similar organizations, such as the Russian Citizens Association, saying that they need to maintain contacts with their voters, Diena reported on 7 October. Ravnopravie deputies are mostly Russian-speakers and originally supported the idea that Latvia should remain a part of the Soviet Union. (Dzintra Bungs) BALTIC COOPERATION ON ENERGY. During a meeting in Riga on 6 October, Baltic ministers responsible for fuel and energy coordinated their policies on how to cope with the expected shortages this fall and winter. They decided that the Latvian port of Ventspils and the Lithuanian port of Klaipeda would be available for common use to receive and channel further emergency energy aid resources from abroad; similarly, the port of Riga would be used to receive gas from abroad. Estonia agreed to discount electricity exports to Latvia in exchange for the use of Latvia's gas reservoirs, BNS reported on 7 October. (Dzintra Bungs) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba & Charles Trumbull
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