|In the effort to give good and comforting answers to the young questioners whom we love, we very often arrive at good and comforting answers for ourselves. - Ruth Goode|
No. 202, 20 October 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR MINISTERS WARN OF COUP. State Secretary Gennadii Burbulis, information minister Mikhail Poltoranin, foreign minister Andrei Kozyrev, and deputy prime minister Anatolii Chubais warned at a press conference that conservatives in the parliament are plotting against Russian President Boris Yeltsin and his reform policy, The Guardian reported on 19 October. Poltoranin stated that the "coup" is being prepared under the direction of parliamentary speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov. He accused conservatives of attempting to replace the present judges of the Constitutional Court to make that institution more obedient to right-wing forces. Burbulis claimed that the government has lost control over the police and prosecutors' offices in many regions to the right-wing opposition. (Alexander Rahr) KOBETS: MILITARY WOULD PREVENT COUP. General Konstantin Kobets, recently appointed as the chief military inspector of the Russian armed forces, told Interfax on 19 October that "the army will not allow an overthrow of the president." He claimed that the situation in the military was "stable enough, but its officer corps well understands the changes taking place in the country and is committed to the President and the government." Kobets, a former deputy chief of the Soviet general staff, played a prominent role in foiling the August coup attempt. Subsequently, he became a military advisor to Yeltsin. (Doug Clarke) YELTSIN SIGNS NUCLEAR TEST MORATORIUM DECREE. President Yeltsin on 19 October signed a decree prolonging until July 1, 1993 the Russian moratorium on nuclear weapons tests. ITAR-TASS reported that the decision had been taken in connection with the recent suspension of similar tests by France and the United States. Yeltsin appealed to the other two declared nuclear powers, Great Britain and China, to join the moratorium as soon as possible. At the same time, Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev said that the moratorium could be extended throughout 1993 if the United States would agree to follow suit. However, he told the visiting New Zealand minister of defense that "a moratorium cannot be unilateral permanently. If we do not reach accord, Russia, most evidently, will resume nuclear tests in the middle of 1993." (Doug Clarke) RUSSIA DENIES REPORT ON CHINA DEAL. Russian officials on 19 October denied a report published in The New York Times one day earlier-quoting US officials-that accused Moscow of fueling an arms race in Asia by selling advanced weapons systems to the China. The US charges focused on alleged sales to China of technology for enriching uranium, as well as missile-guidance technology, rocket engines and rocket technology. A Russian spokesman for "Oboroneksport," which oversees such transactions, said that Russia had violated neither the nuclear non-proliferation treaty nor other arms control agreements, and that Russia was operating strictly "within the framework of United Nations agreements." The story was reported by Western agencies. (Stephen Foye) CHINA SAID TO HAVE BACKED OUT OF FIGHTER DEAL. Quoting "competent sources," Interfax on 19-October reported that China had annulled an agreement to buy 10 Su-27 "Flanker" combat aircraft from the Gagarin plant in Komsomolsk-on-the-Amur. The sale was first reported by the same agency on 3-August, and seemed to have been confirmed by Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev during the visit to Moscow in late August by the Chinese minister of defense. The latest report said factory officials suspected that China intended to buy Western aircraft with more advanced electronics. They said that the Gagarin factory-which had the capacity to build 10 Su-27s each month-at present had only two of the fighter-bombers under construction. (Doug Clarke) GRACHEV, KOBETS ON BALTIC PULL-OUT. Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev said on 19 October that adverse conditions for Russian military forces in the Baltic States dictate an early withdrawal from the region, ITAR-TASS reported. Grachev pointed to training difficulties and to the prohibition against sending new conscripts to the Baltic states, saying that soon there would be only officers serving there. He said that the troops should be withdrawn "without delay" and suggested that military housing shortages in Russia should not be a factor. Grachev nevertheless appeared to hedge on the precise timetable of the withdrawal, saying it should commence "right after the pull-out from Eastern Europe in 1994," a qualification that will probably not please Baltic leaders. On the same day, Interfax quoted Army General Konstantin Kobets, the Russian Army's Chief Military Inspector, as saying that Russian terms for withdrawing from the Baltic were "completely reasonable," that "everything there is going according to schedule," and that there is "no special animosity in the process." (Stephen Foye) RUSSIAN GAS DELIVERIES CURTAILED. The supply of Russian natural gas to Germany and France was roughly halved last week, The Wall Street Journal reported on 19 October. The shortfall was attributed to the pumping of gas by Ukraine from transit pipelines, resulting in lower pressure, as a consequence of a disagreement between Russia and Ukraine over transit fees. The transport director for the Ukrainian gas utility, Urgasprom, was quoted by Reuters as saying that Ukraine has a right to take its share of Russian gas in the case of any shortfall. Deliveries of gas to Western Europe are reported to be slowly returning to the normal level. (Keith Bush) GAIDAR VISITS YAKUTIA AND MAGADAN. Russian Prime Minister Gaidar was on tour of the natural resource rich regions of Yakutia and Magadan on 16 and 17 October. In Yakutia, the President of the autonomous republic, Mikhail Nikolaev, and Gaidar signed a document creating a Russian-Yakut joint-stock company for mining, processing and marketing diamonds in the region. The two also discussed issues related to the decentralization of political and economic power within the Russian Federation, Interfax reported. In Magadan, Gaidar discussed the economic development of the Far East with oblast officials, and approved of their plans for attracting foreign companies to extract minerals in the territory, "Novosti" reported on 18 October. (Erik Whitlock) CHERNOBYL DEVELOPMENTS. The head of environmental policy at the European Commission and the German environment minister have expressed concern over the restarting of the third block of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor on 16 October, Western agencies reported. Meanwhile, a report by the State Commission of Ecological Experts on the impact of the 1986 explosion at Chernobyl on the Russian environment was scheduled to be presented to President Yeltsin on 19 October. One of its authors told an RFE/RL correspondent in Moscow that the study puts the cost of cleaning up the after-effects of Chernobyl within the Russian Federation at 74 billion rubles by the year 2000. At current rates of exchange, this works out at about $220 million. (Keith Bush) MINIMUM WAGE TO BE RAISED IN RUSSIA. ITARTASS reported on 19 October that the Russian Finance Ministry plans to raise the minimum monthly wage from 900 to 2,250 rubles, starting in January 1993. The average monthly wage is currently approximately 5,500 rubles. Increases to student grants and to pensions are also reported to be in the pipeline. According to Interfax, 19 October 1992, the head of the Social Security Department of the Labor Ministry has claimed that one third of the Russian population are currently living below the (unspecified) poverty line, and that living costs are expected to double by the end of the year. A new social security system is due to be introduced early next year. While extra protection is obviously required to protect the population from the effects of soaring prices and inflation, increases in the minimum wage and benefits will add extra strain to the budget deficit. (Sheila Marnie) TRADE UNIONS PLAN PROTEST ACTION. According to Interfax on 19 October, the Russian Federation of Independent Trade Unions is planning protest rallies the 24 October to support its demands that the minimum monthly wage be raised to 4000 rubles, that prices for bread, potatoes and milk be frozen, and that incomes and savings be indexed. The unions have also been demanding the dismissal of the Gaidar government. The government has set up a conciliatory commission led by the Minister of Labor, Gennadii Melikyan. If current negotiations between the commission and the unions fail to produce results, strike action may follow. November 23 has already been put forward as a tentative date for such action. (Sheila Marnie) RUSSIA AND MONGOLIA TO KEEP MILITARY TIES. Following the signing of an agreement on bilateral relations and cooperation in Moscow on 19-October, the Russian and Mongolian Foreign Ministers said that both sides would like to continue cooperating in the area of defense and security, Interfax reported. The Mongolian Foreign Minister said that the withdrawal of Russian troops from Mongolia does not signify an end to military cooperation with Moscow, and called for expanding these relations. (Stephen Foye) YAROV PESSIMISTIC ON BLACK SEA FLEET TALKS. Yurii Yarov, head of the Russian delegation negotiating with Ukraine on the Black Sea Fleet, said on 19 October that the talks were proceeding with difficulty, Interfax reported. He said that documents regulating the fleet's activities during the 3-year "transitional period" had not been completed by 1-October, as planned. He added that some areas of common interest had been found in terms of naming a new fleet command, that Russia insisted that as few new posts be created as possible, and that the fleet would be manned equally by Russian and Ukrainian citizens. (Stephen Foye) SHANIBOV IN GUDAUTA TO MEET ABKHAZ LEADERS. Musa Shanibov, president of the Confederation of the Peoples of the Caucasus, arrived in Gudauta (in Abkhazia) on 19 October. He told Interfax he had come to tell the Abkhaz leaders of the Confederation's decisions as regards political and military aid to the Abkhaz. Shanibov described the decisions as "radical" but refused further comment on them. Shanibov said that the Caucasus was well aware that its future would be decided in Abkhazia and was prepared, if necessary, to fight to prevent its occupation. Shanibov had come from a two-day session of the Confederation's parliament in Groznyi. (Ann Sheehy) EXTRAORDINARY SESSION OF CONGRESS OF KABARDIAN PEOPLE. An extraordinary session of the Congress of the Kabardian People (CKP) was held on 17 October in response to statements by the Kabardino-Balkar Supreme Soviet and the republican prosecutor that the activity of the CKP's Executive Committee during the continuous protest meeting from 24 September to 4 October was unconstitutional, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 20 October. Participants in the session rejected the charges, blaming recent political events on the shortsightedness of the republic's top leadership, which had refused a dialog with local political movements. They also declared they would continue providing assistance to the Abkhaz until the complete withdrawal of Georgian troops from Abkhazia. A third, extraordinary Congress of the Kabardian People is to be held in November where those delegates "who showed cowardice at critical moments" will be replaced. (Ann Sheehy) TAJIKS DEFEND RECORD ON MINORITIES. Tajikistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs defended the record of the Tajik government in providing help to refugees regardless of nationality, ITAR-TASS reported on 19 October. The ministry was responding to an expression of concern by its Russian counterpart, in which the Russian Foreign Ministry had called attention to the rise in Tajik nationalism and what it described as political pressure on the non-Tajik population. The Tajik response rejected the charges. The same day, acting President Akbarsho Iskandarov set up a Security Council consisting of the leadership of Tajikistan's legislature and the Cabinet of Ministers, and appointed filmmaker and opposition leader Davlat Khudonazarov his chief presidential advisor. (Bess Brown) CHECHENS ORDERED OUT OF UST-KAMENOGORSK. Reuters, quoting a CIS TV broadcast, reported on 19 October that the Eastern Kazakhstan Oblast Soviet in Ust-Kamenogorsk has ordered the deportation of all Chechens from the oblast. The previous day Russian TV's "Vesti" had reported that inhabitants of Ust-Kamenogorsk demanded the deportation after a group of Chechens from Orenburg were implicated in the murders of four Kazakhs in a city dormitory. Participants in a spontaneous demonstration attempted to march on a Chechen settlement, but were stopped by the militia. Reuters quoted a report of the independent Kazreview news agency that alcohol sales had been banned, and that the deportation decision might be rescinded. (Bess Brown) ANOTHER ATTACK ON BIRLIK LEADER. Two armed men attacked Abdurahim Pulatov, leader of the Uzbek opposition organization Birlik, on 19 October, Radio Rossii reported. The attack occurred in a Tashkent subway station. Pulatov told an RL/RFE correspondent that this was the third attempt on his life in six months. This time colleagues overpowered the attackers, who were armed, and handed them over to the militia. Earlier this year Pulatov was badly beaten and suffered a fractured skull. Birlik supporters believe that the attacks have been carried out at the instigation of the Uzbek government, which has cracked down on domestic opposition in the wake of the unrest in Tajikistan. (Bess Brown) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE POWER STRUGGLE IN BELGRADE. International media reported on 19 October that Serbian police had seized the interior ministry of SerbiaMontenegro and all of its files. This appears to be the latest chapter in a power struggle between Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and the rump Yugoslav leadership headed by President Dobrica Cosic and Prime Minister Milan Panic. Public opinion appears to be increasingly behind Cosic and Panic, but Milosevic can still count on the backing of the army and the police. The files would be invaluable in any future trials of war crimes, particularly those committed by Serbian forces in Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia Herzegovina. (Patrick Moore) IZETBEGOVIC AND COSIC MOVE TOWARD PEACE IN BOSNIA? On 19 October Cosic met under UN and EC sponsorship with Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic. International media reported that they agreed to stop and reverse ethnic cleansing, demilitarize Sarajevo, "eliminate" armed irregulars, and support bringing war criminals to justice. These pledges reaffirm those made at the London Conference in late August. The presidents enjoy considerable moral standing among their respective peoples, but most of the real authority in BosniaHerzegovina appears to be in the hands of local Serb and Croat leaders, so it is doubtful whether the promises can be kept. Izetbegovic confirmed to Vecernji list on 19 October that his government favored a "decentralized, not a unitary state," a position his people had also taken in London in an apparent departure from their previous insistence on a centralized state. They want, however, the autonomous regions based on geography rather than on ethnic criteria, which the Serbs advocate. It remains to be seen whether this is a bargaining ploy or a serious bid for compromise. (Patrick Moore) CROATIAN PARLIAMENT MOVES AGAINST FARRIGHT PARTY. On 17 October the Croatian Sabor voted to lift the parliamentary immunity of Croatian Party of [Historic] Rights (HSP) leader Dobroslav Paraga and two other HSP deputies. They are to face charges of terrorism stemming from the activities of the HSP's paramilitary group the Croatian Defense Force (HOS). Sabor President Stipe Mesic told Novi Vjesnik on 18 October that it was the stormiest parliamentary session in living memory and that justice would now take its course, adding that no country would tolerate private armies like HOS. Others note, however, that President Franjo Tudjman's government seems to be anxious to silence its critics from any point on the political spectrum and point to administrative measures taken recently against the leading independent daily Slobodna Dalmacija. HOS is popular in some of the wartorn parts of Croatia where it is credited with putting up a better fight than the Croatian military. Vecernji list on 18 October published a poll showing that 73% of those interviewed favored banning paramilitary groups but that twothirds opposed banning the HSP. (Patrick Moore) ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT DENIES EMBARGO INFRINGED. In a communique released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and broadcast by Radio Bucharest on 19 October, the government denied the trade embargo on former Yugoslavia was being infringed. It said that opposition leader Ion Ratiu, who made the allegation in Washington, had never before shown an interest in the problem and that his "sensational declarations" were intended to generate international "suspicion and mistrust" toward the government's policy. (Michael Shafir). ILIESCU STARTS COALITION TALKS. President Ion Iliescu has begun consultations with leaders of the political parties represented in the new parliament for the purpose of designating the new premier, Radio Bucharest reported on 19 October. He said he had no "prejudices" and no "hard feelings" and that he hoped to set up a government that would be "broadly accepted." The program of economic reform and the legislation connected with it must be completed, he added, in order to overcome the present crisis. At the end of the talks, Iliescu said they had been positive but the leader of the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic, Corneliu Coposu, ruled out collaboration with the Democratic National Salvation Front. (Michael Shafir) ROMANIAN OPPOSITION LEADER DENIES DCR ABOUT TO SPLIT. Corneliu Coposu, president of the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic and interim president of the Democratic Convention of Romania (DCR) denied the DCR was about to split. In an interview with the daily Romania libera on 20-October, Coposu said none of the eighteen parties and formations belonging to the DCR intended to leave it. Such a step, he said, would be "suicidal" for any formation deserting the convention. Arpress released an advance summary of the interview on 19 October. (Michael Shafir) ROMANIAN PARTY TAKES "TURN TO LEFT." The Party of National Unity of Romania (PRNU), the political arm of the antiHungarian organization "Romanian Cradle," has taken what the independent news agency Arpress termed on 19 October as a "turn to the Left." At its extraordinary national convention held in Cluj on 18 and 19 October, the leadership of the party approved the election of Gheorghe Funar, the PRNU candidate in the last presidential election, as president of the formation. The decision confirms a 3 October move to replace former PRNU leader Radu Ceontea, considered by observers as centrist on the economy and more moderate on the national question. (Michael Shafir). SUCHOCKA ON FOREIGN POLICY. Speaking on 18 October at the inauguration of the academic year at the Catholic University of Lublin, Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka said that the priorities of Polish foreign policy were European integration, association with NATO, and regional cooperation. Although optimistic about Poland's prospects of joining NATO, Suchocka said it would be naive to think that "distant alliances" could provide a substitute for secure relations with Poland's neighbors. She criticized the EC for treating the "triangle" countries as potential rivals rather than as partners; European integration would have to serve Poland's economic interests. Suchocka also warned against succumbing to the provincialism that Poland's past status as a Soviet satellite had fostered. (Louisa Vinton) SOLIDARITY TO HELP BROADEN COALITION. Parliamentary caucus leader Bogdan Borusewicz announced on 19 October that Solidarity's deputies in the Sejm would undertake talks aimed at bringing the Center Alliance into the government coalition. Solidarity deputies brokered the original coalition agreement in July. Although the sevenparty coalition needs another partner to secure a comfortable procapitalist majority, the Center Alliance may not be an especially attractive candidate. Guided in part by personal antagonism toward President Lech Walesa, Center Alliance leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski has voiced shrill opposition to the current government's policies. Disciplinary proceedings were begun on 19 October against four Center Alliance deputies who failed to vote with the rest of the party against the government's proposed revisions to the 1992 budget. The same four deputies had previously advocated bargaining for a place in the coalition. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka fired three voivodship heads on 19 October. Two of these were Center Alliance members who had opposed the government's budget proposals during the Sejm debate on 17 October. (Louisa Vinton) ECONOMIC UPTURN CONTINUES IN POLAND. Economic statistics released on 19 October showed that September was the sixth consecutive month in which Polish industrial production exceeded the previous year's totals. Production in September 1992 was 13.1% higher than in September 1991. Growth was recorded in all industrial branches, with the exception of paper and food processing. Prices in September rose 5.3% over August, the largest monthly jump in inflation since January 1992. This was mainly due to huge food price increases caused by the summer's drought. Real wages dropped 0.4% in September. (Louisa Vinton) NEW ESTONIAN PM CONFIRMED. The parliament approved Mart Laar as Estonia's new prime minister on 19 October, according to the local media. Laar, who was named Prime Minister Designate two weeks ago by President Lennart Meri, was formally confirmed after the Riigikogu approved the coalition agreement signed by the three parties forming the ruling majority. Laar has seven days to formally name a cabinet. The Riigikogu must confirm a number of the appointments, including the internal affairs, defense, foreign affairs and economics ministers. Laar has already announced his choice for five of the ministries: Marju Lauristin for social welfare, Lagle Parek for internal affairs, PaulErik Rummo for culture and education, Ain Saarman for economics and Kaido Kama for justice. (Riina Kionka) ESTONIA'S RULING COALITION PROPOSES LIBERALIZATION ON CITIZENSHIP LAW. In the coalition agreement approved on 19 October, the ruling majority has called for liberalization of the citizenship law. The agreement, signed by the parties Pro Patria, the Moderates, and the ENIP, proposes a number of changes aimed at eliminating much of the legal ambiguity that currently exists. It includes provisions for dual citizenship and derivation of citizenship through both male and female lines. It also calls on all CIS republics to grant citizenship to those living in Estonia who wish to take the citizenship of those states, and promises help for those wishing to leave Estonia. In his statement to parliament after the signing, Laar also said all nonEstonians who wanted to stay should be integrated into Estonian society, BNS reported. (Riina Kionka) RUSSIAN EMBASSY IN LATVIA PROCESSES CITIZENSHIP APPLICATIONS. BNS reported on 17 October that the Russian embassy in Riga had started to process applications for Russian citizenship from residents of Latvia. Some 300 applicants had already submitted forms which include a statement that the applicant has not already requested Latvian citizenship. Russians comprise 34% of Latvia's population of about 2.6 million. (Dzintra Bungs) BULGARIAN GYPSIES SET UP NATIONAL LOBBY ORGANIZATION. At a meeting in Sofia on 17 and 18-October Bulgarian gypsies set up a national organization, the United Roma Federation (URF). Vasil Chaprasov, a teacher from the city of Sliven who was elected chairman, told a Western agency the organization was independent and politically unaffiliated. According to Trud of 19 October, the URF adopted a declaration calling on the government to ensure Roma influence in local politics. It demanded the resignation of Culture Minister Elka Konstantinova who recently branded gypsies as "uncivilized." (Kjell Engelbrekt) PARTS OF THE DANUBE TO BE DIVERTED TODAY. A 30kilometer leg of the Danube is scheduled to be diverted by Slovak engineers today as part of the controversial Gabcikovo hydroelectric project. Although Hungarian news agency MTI reported on 19-October that the diversion might not begin as scheduled, there have been no reports from Slovakia indicating a change of plans. According to various sources, Czechoslovak, Hungarian, Austrian, and German environmentalists are planning to converge for demonstrations at the dam site. (Jan Obrman) HUNGARIAN DEFENSE MINISTER ON NATIONAL SECURITY. Defense Minister Lajos Fuer, in a 19-October interview in Magyar Hirlap, said Hungary was not threatened at present by any "direct military attack from either the East, or the South, or the North." On the other hand, the serious conflict to the south "could spill over into Hungary at certain points and in certain forms," Fuer added. Hungary's army would continue to show restraint in the Yugoslav conflict but would also make clear that it would take a resolute stand against "small aggression" coming from any quarter, he concluded. (Alfred Reisch) DEFENSE MINISTER OF REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA VISITS BULGARIA. Vlado Popovski, the Republic of Macedonia's Defense Minister, heading a delegation which included Chief of the General Staff, Colonel General Mitre Arsovski, met with counterparts in Sofia on 19 October. According to BTA, discussions focussed on regional security issues and Popovski informed Alexander Staliiski, Bulgaria's Defense Minister, that Bulgaria was an important and stabilizing factor in the Balkans especially for Macedonia. Both stressed that there were no problems between the republics of Macedonia and Bulgaria. Popovski noted that the Macedonian army was equipped with weapons from the former Yugoslav territorial defense forces and would seek those weapons which it lacked through normal diplomatic contacts. In order to counter recent allegations in the Bulgarian press that Bulgarian arms had been shipped to the new republic, Popovski stressed that "not one Bulgarian rifle sling has entered Macedonia." (Duncan Perry) RUSSIAN TROOP TRAIN DETAINED IN RIGA. Radio Riga reported on 19 October that earlier that day a Russian troop train had been detained at Skirotava station, Riga. The echelon, carrying troops, 6 tanks and 11 missile systems, arrived in Latvia from Estonia without an entry permit and failed to halt for inspection at Lugazi border post. Radio Riga said that such activity by the Russian military was a flagrant violation of earlier accords on movement of troops and weapons in Latvia. (Dzintra Bungs) SOLDIERS SUPPORT MORATORIUM ON TROOP PULLOUT FROM LATVIA. On 15 October members of a local organization defending the rights of Russian soldiers staged a demonstration in Daugavpils. They demanded a moratorium on troop withdrawal and that the Latvian government guarantee officers' families' welfare. They also called for a halt to the transfer of military structures to the Latvian authorities, BNS reported on 16 October. (Dzintra Bungs) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba & Anna Swidlicka
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