|Some things have to be believed to be seen. - Ralph Hodgson|
No. 201, 19 October 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR TAJIK MILITANTS TAKE RUSSIAN HOSTAGES. Supporters of the Islamic Renaissance Party blockaded a Dushanbe school for an hour and a half on 15-October in an attempt to force a Russian division stationed in Tajikistan to repossess tanks and armored transports the militants believe were given by the Russians to forces fighting the Tajik government in the southern part of the country, ITAR-TASS, quoting the Russian Defense Ministry, reported on 17 October. The school is attended by Russian children as well as other nationalities. Western press agencies reported on 16 October that the militants subsequently took a group of Russians hostage near the school. (Bess Brown) IRAN OFFERS TO MEDIATE IN TAJIK CIVIL WAR. Iran has again offered to mediate between opposing sides in the continuing conflict in Tajikistan, ITARTASS reported on 17 October, quoting the official Iranian news agency IRNA. The offer was made by Iran's ambassador to Tajikistan, Ali Ashraf Mojtahed Shabestari, at a cultural symposium in Dushanbe. While the Iranian offer might be welcomed by some elements of the former opposition coalition, it is unlikely to be viewed favorably by forces opposed to the Tajik government, who reject any meddling by an Islamic state such as Iran. (Bess Brown) GEORGIA CALLS FOR WITHDRAWAL OF RUSSIAN FORCES FROM ABKHAZIA. Addressing the final session of Georgia's state council on 16 October, Georgian parliament speaker-elect Eduard Shevardnadze stated that if the next round of Georgian-Russian negotiations on a settlement of the Abkhaz conflict fails, Georgia will be compelled to use military force to recover the territory occupied by Abkhaz forces, ITAR-TASS reported. A Georgian government statement issued on 17 October called on the Russian military command to withdraw its forces from the conflict zone. A CSCE fact-finding delegation held talks with Shevardnadze on 17 October and with Georgian officials in Sukhumi on 18 October, Interfax reported. Pope John Paul II appealed on 18-October for peace in Georgia, which he termed "a country of long-established and important Christian tradition." (Liz Fuller) YELTSIN FOR POSTPONEMENT OF CONGRESS. Russian President Boris Yeltsin has asked the parliament to postpone the Seventh Congress of People's Deputies, ITAR-TASS reported on 16 October. Yeltsin argued that if the Congress was held in March and not, as scheduled, in early December, it could adopt the new Constitution which is not yet completed. He said that if convened now, the Congress would only lead to a political struggle. The leaders of the Republics of the Russian Federation issued a joint statement also asking parliament to postpone the date of the Congress. Yeltsin also accused the so-called "National Salvation Front" of attempts to set up power structures parallel to those in his administration, and he criticized the parliament for tolerating these activities. (Alexander Rahr) CHERNOBYL BLOCK SWITCHED ON. The third block of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor was switched on again on 16 October, an RFE/RL correspondent and Ukrinform-TASS reported. Trial operations were scheduled to be run for two days, after which the block was to operate at full capacity. The second block is to be restarted at the end of October. A spokesman for the Ukrainian parliamentary commission on Chernobyl rejected the warnings of Western specialists on the potential danger of restarting the Chernobyl reactor. Several authoritative Ukrainian spokesmen have reiterated that the Chernobyl reactor will be closed permanently starting in 1993, but that Ukraine will continue to need nuclear power. (Keith Bush) NEW RUSSIAN TV COMPANY ESTABLISHED. Following a recommendation by the Russian Ministry for Press and Information, President Yeltsin has issued a decree establishing a new TV company, the Federal TV and Broadcasting Agency (FTS-TV Rossiya), ITAR-TASS reported on 17 October. FTS-TV Rossiya will broadcast on the fifth channel, which has been used previously by St. Petersburg TV and RIA-TV. The boards of both TV companies have been incorporated into FTS-TV Rossiya. St. Petersburg TV will thus cease to exist as a separate body. The prominent St. Petersburg TV moderator, Bella Kurkova, has been appointed head of the new TV agency. (Alexander Rahr) RUSSIA TAXES IMPORTED VODKA. Russia has imposed a 100% tariff on imports of alcohol in an effort to protect domestic vodka producers, Interfax reported on 16 October. The tariff had been set at 15% in early 1992, and was raised to 30% in August. Sales of domestically produced vodka have plummeted. Many Russians appear to prefer the imported brands, which are more expensive, because they are thought to be superior in quality. (Keith Bush) RUSSIANS DETAIL GREENPEACE TERRITORIAL VIOLATIONS. Russian Foreign Ministry press spokesman Sergei Yastrzembski charged that the Greenpeace ship Solo, seized by Russian naval forces on 12-October off the Arctic nuclear testing ground on Novaya Zemlya, had deliberately violated Russian territorial waters. In remarks carried by Interfax on 16 October, he reported that water and soil samples had been discovered aboard the ship. He claimed that this proved that the crew had been engaged in research in violation of international law, since they had no permission for such work. The Solo arrived in Tyuva Guba, a military port near Murmansk, early on the morning of 18 October. Consular officials from six Western countries were taken to the site but not allowed aboard. Western agencies reported that, ironically, the Solo ended up towing its captor into port after the Russian ship broke down. (Doug Clarke) SHAPOSHNIKOV PESSIMISTIC OVER KURILS. In an interview published on 17 October by the Japanese Kyodo news service, CIS commander-in-chief Evgenii Shaposhnikov hinted that Russia could reconsider its earlier pledge to withdraw all its troops from the four southern Kuril islands claimed by Japan. He was quoted as saying that a Russian unilateral withdrawal was "meaningless," and that it would be necessary to beef up the border guards in the area if the islands were demilitarized. Shaposhnikov suggested that the way could be opened for a settlement of the island issue if Japan were to provide more economic assistance to Russia, and if "politicians in the new [Russian] generation" understood that Japan was not an enemy. (Doug Clarke) RUSSIANS STUDYING IDEA OF SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONE IN KURILS. An AFP report on 16-October cites a statement by Russian presidential adviser Sergei Stankevich that President Yeltsin is awaiting a report by experts before signing a decree transforming the Kuril Islands into a special economic zone. The plan was first announced in Hong Kong on 15-October by Valentin Fedorov, the Governor of Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands. Fedorov said that the zone would afford tax breaks and other incentives to foreign investors. (Hal Kosiba) GAPS IN CIS AIR DEFENSE SHIELD. Kommersant reported on 16 October that the CIS high command is concerned over the ongoing disintegration of the former Soviet air defense system, particularly as a result of developments in Central Asia and the Caucasus. According to the report, an exodus of military specialists and funding shortfalls have forced the closing of radar stations along the Tajik-Afghan border. At the same time, plans to disband in April of 1993 the 19th Air Defense Army, stationed in the Caucasus, are likely to create a gap there that would further impair the functioning of the formerly integrated air defense system. (Stephen Foye) GERMAN POLICE SEIZE ENRICHED URANIUM. According to a Reuters report of 16 October, German police seized 2.2 kilograms of allegedly highly enriched uranium in Munich on 13 October. The material was apparently smuggled in from Russia, and a German police union leader called for Russia to help prevent attempts to smuggle radioactive materials. Reports were unclear on the extent of enrichment: Reuters claimed that uranium-234, 235, and 238 were seized. Only the uranium-235, if sufficiently pure, would be of use in making an atomic bomb. Previous seizures of "highly enriched uranium" have involved uranium enriched to only 3-3.5% uranium235 for nuclear reactor fuel, rather than the much higher 90-100% enrichment required for producing atomic bombs. (John Lepingwell) YELTSIN AND GATES MEET. During a three day visit in Moscow, CIA Director Robert Gates met with President Yeltsin, Evgenii Primakov, the director of the Russian foreign intelligence service, and Viktor Barannikov, the minister of state security, ITARTASS and Western agencies reported on 17 October. Yeltsin told Gates that the Russian and American intelligence services could cooperate in the fight against drug smuggling, the proliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. He added, however, that Russia could not give away all of its secrets, including information about Russia's former KGB network in the West. Yeltsin also provided Gates copies of the declassified KGB documents concerning the shooting down of a South Korean passenger airliner in 1983. (Victor Yasmann). CIA CHIEF TELLS YELTSIN ABOUT LOST SOVIET SUBMARINE. ITAR-TASS reported that during his meetings with President Yeltsin and high-ranking Russian intelligence officials, Robert Gates gave Yeltsin details of the CIA's 1974 attempt to recover a Soviet Golf-2 class submarine, which sank in the northern Pacific in March 1968. Using the research ship Glomar Explorer, the CIA secretly raised a part of the sub from the ocean floor. The remains of six crewmen were recovered. Gates explained that the six were buried at sea in a ceremony that included the playing of the Soviet anthem. He gave Yeltsin the Soviet flag that had draped the remains during the funeral. (Doug Clarke) CABINET CHANGES IN UKRAINE. Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk issued three decrees affecting the composition of the Ukrainian government, DRPress reported on 17 October. Anatolii Lobov has been appointed minister of the cabinet of ministers, replacing Volodymyr Pyekhota, a longtime Communist Party functionary. Yurii Shcherbak, who will serve as Ukraine's ambassador to Israel, was relieved of his post as environmental minister. (Roman Solchanyk) BLACK SEA FLEET UPDATE. The commander of the Ukrainian Navy, Rear Admiral Boris Kozhin, told the newspaper Krymskie izvestiya that he believes the existing infrastructure of the Black Sea Fleet should belong to Ukraine. According to a 16 October Interfax summary of the interview, Kozhin also suggested that expert groups from Russia and Ukraine were completing a new agreement that would deal with the interim joint command of the fleet and the phased creation of independent Russian and Ukrainian navies. (Stephen Foye) UKRAINIAN ARMS DEALS. Ukraine and India concluded a barter deal on 17 October in which Kiev agreed to supply weapons and spare parts to New Delhi in exchange for Indian goods, including medicine and cloth, Reuters reported. India also agreed to pay partly in hard currency. The talks had appeared deadlocked on 16 September when the Ukrainian Minister of Machine-Building, the Military-Industrial Complex, and Conversion, Viktor Antonov, apparently insisted on dollar payments. Meanwhile, on 17 October the press service of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry denied a report published by Komsomolskaya pravda that a deal is in the works whereby Kiev would sell the aircraft-carrying cruiser Varyag to France in exchange for several French-made submarines. The denial was reported by Interfax. (Stephen Foye) BELARUS: GENERALS DISMISSED; OTHER DEVELOPMENTS. Prime Minister Vyacheslav Kebich has dismissed two Lt. Generals for "abuse of power" and "failure to manage military property," Interfax reported on 16 October. Three deputy defense ministers were reportedly also severely reprimanded and several top posts were eliminated. The corruption charges were first raised on 11 September. Meanwhile, Defense Minister Pavel Kozlovsky called upon parliament to increase the military budget, according to the same report. He said that the armed forces were having difficulties holding on to their best pilots and other specialists. He also said that the high command would not tolerate "any political organizations in the army." (Stephen Foye) KYRGYZ CONSTITUTIONAL COMMISSION COMPLETES WORK. A commission drafting a new constitution for Kyrgyzstan has completed its work, Interfax reported on 16 October. The group's chairman was quoted as saying that a statement that Kyrgyzstan is in the process of a spiritual rebirth oriented toward Islamic values has been deleted from the preamble to the draft constitution. The draft permits only the state to own water and natural resources. According to Interfax, Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev told the last session of the commission that he opposes creation of a constitutional court, because the Russian experience shows it can be misused to stage political trials. (Bess Brown) CENTRAL AND EAST EUROPE MAZOWIECKI TALKS ABOUT RIGHTS ABUSES IN KOSOVO. UN human rights envoy and former Polish Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki on 18-October warned that the human rights of Kosovo's Albanian majority which constitutes over 90% of the population were being "systematically violated" by Serbian authorities. He called for the establishment of a "joint AlbanianSerbian group under international auspices," and recommended one of his assistants to head the project, the BBC said on 19-October. The Albanians agreed to his suggestion, but local Serbian officials said they had no authority to accept. (Patrick Moore) BOSNIAN UPDATE. International media reported on 18 October that Bosnian officers had agreed to remove a roadblock on the main highway into Sarajevo to allow the UN to resume overland relief convoys after several days' break. The BBC said on 17-October that the Bosnians had claimed they were trying to prevent Serbian tanks from using the road. Its correspondent suggested, however, that they were simply trying to be difficult since they wanted arms, not aid. Austrian and German TV said on 17 and 18 October, respectively, that there were unconfirmed rumors in Sarajevo of a coup against President Alija Izetbegovic. The putsch was allegedly staged by Vice President Ejup Ganic and several ministers reportedly regarded as hardliners. On 18 October international media reported increased shelling in Sarajevo, while Croatian Radio said that Serbs had also intensified their attacks on Bihac and Maglaj. (Patrick Moore) ROMANIAN OPPOSITION LEADER SAYS UN EMBARGO VIOLATED. Ion Ratiu, vice president of the opposition National Peasant Party Christian Democratic, said in Washington Romania was violating the UN sanctions imposed on trade with former Yugoslavia, Reuters reported on 17 October. Ratiu said the government was helping Serbia and that violations included traffic on the Danube river and sharing of electricity. (Michael Shafir) SEJM REJECTS CRUCIAL SPENDING CUT. By a slim margin of three votes, the Polish Sejm voted on 17 October to accept the government's economic program for 1993 which favors investment over consumption. The Sejm voted down a motion to reject proposed revisions to the 1992 budget; these will raise the deficit ceiling by 16 trillion zloty ($1.1 billion), cut spending by 3.5%, and impose new taxes. The Sejm refused, however, to consider a related government proposal to reduce costofliving increases in pensions from 30% to 18%. The vote on the pensions issue was the government's first parliamentary defeat and drives home the need to broaden the ruling coalition. The Sejm's decision forces the government to choose between a further increase in the budget deficit, risking the IMF's displeasure, or additional unpopular cuts in social services. Finance Minister Jerzy Osiatynski said the failure to limit pension increases required the government to find new spending cuts of up to 23 trillion zloty ($1.6 billion). (Louisa Vinton) LITTLE CONSTITUTION CLEARS POLISH PARLIAMENT. The Sejm voted on 16 October to reject most of the Senate's proposed changes to the "little constitution," which is designed to clarify the balance of power in the executive branch. In normal circumstances, only the president's signature would now be needed to make the bill law. But, before voting, the Sejm changed its own rules of procedure to require a twothirds majority to accept the Senate's revisions rather than a twothirds majority to overrule them, as had been the case up until now. A group of 52 deputies has asked the Constitutional Tribunal for a ruling on the legality of this procedural change. President Lech Walesa, who has charged that the little constitution unduly limits the powers of the presidency, announced he would postpone any decision until the Constitutional Tribunal rules on the case. (Louisa Vinton) FIAT TAKES OVER POLISH AUTO PLANT. Representatives of Fiat and the Polish finance ministry signed "opening date" agreements on 17 October (backdated to 16 October) granting the Italian auto maker 90% ownership of the FSM firm. FSM is already producing compact Cinquecento cars. Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka attended the ceremony. The agreement makes possible the wage increases that were delayed by the summer strike at the FSM plant in Tychy. The Fiat deal, with a total value of $2 billion, is the largest Western investment in Poland so far. (Louisa Vinton) SEJM ON KATYN. On 17 October the Sejm adopted a resolution welcoming President Yeltsin's release of documents showing that the CPSU Politburo had ordered the execution of 21,000 Polish prisoners of war in 1940. "Although the Polish nation always knew the criminals' true names," the statement said, "the release of the documents creates a new moral situation in PolishRussian relations. The whole truth must be revealed, the crimes punished, and justice done." The statement expressed confidence that legality and truth would enable Poland and Russia to overcome the burden of the past in building the future. (Louisa Vinton) NEW ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT CONVENES. The new Romanian parliament, elected on 27 September, convened in Bucharest on 16 October, Rompres and Radio Bucharest reported on the same day. The parties represented in the new legislature's two chambers set up new parliamentary groups. The Socialist Labor Party, heir to the Communist Party, and the extreme nationalist Greater Romania Party (GRP) set up a joint group in the Senate, named "the national bloc" (partida nationala). It will be headed by Adraian Paunescu, a former "court poet" under Ceausescu. At a press conference in Bucharest Corneliu Vadim Tudor, a new senator and the GRP leader, said the next prime minister must be an "authentic Romanian" (an allusion to former prime minister Petre Roman's Jewish origins) and should not be a "personality of the diaspora" (an allusion to rumors that Iliescu might nominate former dissident Mihai Botez as premier). (Michael Shafir). KING MICHAEL AND THE ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT. Festivities were held in Alba Iulia on 17 October to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the inauguration of the town's cathedral and the coronation of King Ferdinand as sovereign of Greater Romania. Radio Bucharest broadcast on the same day a message from exiled King Michael and the response of the government. The king said that he had been hindered from attending the ceremonies by those who in the past had "backed a regime that brought misfortune" and who were now inventing new pretexts and going back on earlier promises. In reply, the government's spokeswoman said no pretexts or new conditions had been raised for the king's visit. The prolonged electoral process, the convening of the new parliament and the investiture of the president had made it impossible to issue in time a visa for the king to attend the celebrations. There would be "other occasions" for a visit by the royal family, the spokeswoman said. (Michael Shafir) DUBCEK REELECTED CHAIRMAN OF SLOVAK SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY. Alexander Dubcek, the former First Secretary of the Czechoslovak Communist Party and symbol of the "Prague Spring," was reelected chairman of the Slovak Social Democratic Party (SSDP) on 17 October. Dubcek joined the SSDP shortly before this year's June elections but failed to lead it to an election victory. The SSDP is represented in only one chamber of the federal parliament, and has no representation in the Slovak National Assembly. Meanwhile, Dubcek's condition remains critical after several operations following a car crash on 1 September in which he suffered chest and spinal injuries. (Jan Obrman) HUNGARIAN DEPUTY REPRIMANDED. Jozsef Debreczeni, a liberal deputy of the ruling Hungarian Democratic Forum was reprimanded by his party's ethics committee for publishing an article in the socialist daily Nepszabadsag criticizing a controversial essay by Istvan Csurka, one of the vice presidents of the Forum, MTI reported on 16-October. Debreczeni wrote that the essay, which had antiSemitic overtones, was the basis of Nazi ideology. The ethics committee called attention to its earlier decision that debates among party members should be published in periodicals close to the forum. Debreczeni said that he was not familiar with this decision. (Judith Pataki) HUNGARIAN CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATS MEET. The presidium of the Hungarian Christian Democratic Peoples' Party (HCDP) met on 17 October to discuss the political situation in the country. Party chairman Laszlo Surjan said that a common ideology was not enough to share in the responsibility of governing and that the HCDP was an open party ready to cooperate with any other political force that showed good will and even make ideological concessions to make a coalition work. Surjan's statements, made it clear, however, that he was not thinking about leaving the coalition before the next national elections in 1994. The meeting adopted a resolution stressing that war crimes and crimes against humanity committed after the 1956 revolution were not subject to the statute of limitations. (Judith Pataki) ENERGY PRICE INCREASES IN LITHUANIA. On 17 October Lithuanian Prime Minister Aleksandras Abisala said on national television that due to the higher costs of oil and natural gas from Russia energy prices in Lithuania would be increased, Baltfax reported on 18 October. Households will have to pay 5.4 coupons (the temporary currency in the republic) for a kilowatt of electricity. The monthly charge for hot water will be 139.5 coupons, for natural gas-196 coupons, and for heating-12.6 coupons per square meter. Hot water would be supplied to apartments for no more than 6 to 8 hours a day and apartments would be heated only to 15 degrees Centigrade. (Saulius Girnius) SWEDISH KING CONCLUDES VISIT TO LITHUANIA. On 17 October Swedish King Carl Gustaf XVI and Queen Sylvia completed an official threeday visit to Lithuania during which they held talks with Lithuanian officials and visited Vilnius, Trakai, and Kaunas, Radio Lithuania reported. On 16 October Swedish Foreign Minister Margaretha af Ugglas and Lithuanian counterpart Algirdas Saudargas signed a treaty on free trade and protection of investments. At a press conference she noted Sweden's concern about the safety of the Ignalina plant and promised 40 million krona to help insure its safety. (Saulius Girnius) IGNALINA LEAK AFFECTS LATVIA. Radio Riga reported on 15 October increased levels of radioactivity in various parts of Latvia following the leaks at the Ignalina nuclear power station in Lithuania. At Daugavpils, Zilani and Dagda the monitoring stations had noted readings of 14, 13, and 12 microroentgens per hour earlier in the day. On 17 October Lithuanian officials inspecting the second reactor at the Ignalina plant that had been shut down on 15 October discovered a crack a centimeter long in a pipe in the main cooling circuit of the reactor, Western agencies reported. Another crack was found in a pipe in the emergency cooling system. The repairs of the reactor will not be completed by 21 October as previously thought, but by 23 October at the earliest. (Dzintra Bungs and Saulius Girnius) ENVIRONMENT MINISTERS IN SOFIA OUTLINE STRATEGIES. At a conference on the ecological problems of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, organized by the Washingtonbased Center for Democracy, the Howard Gilman Foundation, and under the patronage of Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev, environment ministers representing some twenty countries adopted a joint declaration outlining chief strategies in fighting pollution. BTA reported on 16 October that the Sofia conference had found that many countries had little knowledge about the environmental problems of their neighbors. It had been suggested that a network for conveying such information be created. A larger conference involving all the environment ministers of the region is scheduled for early 1993 in Florida. (Kjell Engelbrekt) SLOVAK OFFICIALS TO DISCUSS GABCIKOVO IN BRUSSELS. A Slovak government delegation is scheduled to discuss the controversial Gabciko-Nagymaros hydroelectric project with EC officials on 19 October, CSTK reported. A spokesman for the Slovak Environment Ministry was quoted as saying that the Slovak delegation would present its position on the environmental, technical, and legal issues involved in the project. The Chairman of the Slovak parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, Ivan Laluha, said on 18-October that the Slovak side was willing to continue talks with the Hungarian government, but made it clear at the same time that Slovakia would commence diversion of the Danube on 20 October. Hungarian officials have argued that the diversion of the Danube would change the border between the two countries and was thus illegal. Meanwhile, more than a thousand people rallied in front of Hungary's parliament on 18 October to show their opposition to the Slovak plans. On the same day, the Hungarian Foreign Ministry formally protested to Slovakia, saying that the "unilateral opening of Gabcikovo breached EC recommendations." (Jan Obrman) LATVIANRUSSIAN TALKS TO START ON 23-OCTOBER? LatvianRussian talks on troop withdrawal have once again been postponed. At the request of the Russian side, they are now scheduled to start on 23-October in Moscow. Radio Riga also reported on 17 October that a group of Russian parliamentarians, after completing their factfinding visit to Latvia, told the press that they had found that the human rights of Russian troops in Latvia were not being violated-a claim that had been made by groups wishing to restore Soviet power in Latvia. (Dzintra Bungs) GERMAN EMBASSY IN RIGA REOPENS AFTER WATER SUPPLY RESTORED. On 16 October German Ambassador Hagen von Lambsdorf told the press in Riga that he had authorized the closing of his country's consular and diplomatic offices because the building had been without water since 12 October and the Riga city authorities had still not resolved the problem. Radio Riga announced on 18 October that the water supply had been restored during the weekend, and the German diplomatic and consular offices on Basteja Boulevard would reopen on 19 October. The problem may stem from Riga's antiquated water supply system. (Dzintra Bungs) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba & Anna Swidlicka
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