|The fool wonders, the wise man asks. - Benjamin Disraeli|
No. 203, 21 October 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR WITHDRAWAL OF TROOPS FROM BALTIC SUSPENDED? The Russian Defense Ministry announced on the morning of 21 October that the withdrawal of Russian forces from the Baltic would be suspended for those units scheduled to be redeployed to areas in Russia that lacked adequate housing, Interfax reported. While Defense Minister Pavel Grachev said that he would "not station forces in a bare field," he nevertheless suggested that the overall timetable for the withdrawal would not be changed; the movement of individual sub-units will apparently be altered to conform with the availability of housing in Russia. Grachev said that the Defense Ministry had issued the statement to draw the public's attention to the army's housing shortage, but the obvious confusion in policy statements suggests that military leaders may themselves be split over the withdrawal issue. (Stephen Foye) STANKEVICH ACCUSES, CHURKIN THREATENS BALTIC STATES. Sergei Stankevich, an advisor to Russian President Boris Yeltsin, sent a letter to the Council of Europe in which he accused Estonia and Latvia of stripping their Russian residents of the possibility of becoming loyal citizens of the two countries and of unspecified human rights violations against the Russians, Interfax reported on 20 October. That same day Vitalii Churkin, identified by Interfax as Russia's First Deputy Foreign Minister, said that despite the fact that the European Community had advised against using "power measures" to resolve human rights issues in Estonia and Latvia, the Russian Supreme Soviet has not ruled out the possibility of using economic sanctions against the two Baltic states. (Dzintra Bungs) GRACHEV ON MILITARY REDUCTIONS, RUSSIAN MINORITIES. In a wide-ranging interview published by Rossiiskaya gazeta on 21 October, Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev repeated Moscow's plans to stand-down strategic missiles throughout the CIS. He also said that air defense troops on the island of Novaya Zemlya would be significantly reduced, while several radar units and fighter squadrons would be transferred to the mainland. He said that there was now little difference between nuclear and conventional war. Turning to the former Soviet republics, he said that there were no immediate plans to withdraw the 201st motor rifle regiment from Tajikistan, the 345th parachute assault regiment (or any other troops) from Abkhazia, or the 14th Army from Moldova. Russian assault troops will be withdrawn in the very near future from South Ossetia, he said. Grachev also defended orders he has issued for Russian troops to protect themselves, saying that it was "not I who sent the troops into our former republics, and it is not for me to decide how and when to withdraw them." (Stephen Foye) HARDLINERS RENEW CLAIM ON IZVESTIA. The Russian parliament has renewed its claim to the newspaper, Izvestiya, ITAR-TASS reported on 20-October. Both chambers of the parliament voted in favor of taking over the founding rights for the Izvestiya publishing house, and authorized the Presidium of the parliament to appoint a new director. The bill calls on the parliamentary presidium to confirm the publishing house's charter and to appoint its director. The conservative-minded parliament had already made an attempt last summer to take the newspaper under its jurisdiction, but President Boris Yeltsin resisted the move by issuing a decree confirming the paper's independence. Information Minister Mikhail Poltoranin said that the Russian leadership will appeal the decision to the Constitutional Court. (Alexander Rahr & Vera Tolz) YELTSIN ACCUSED OF CURBING FREEDOM OF SPEECH. The former director of St. Petersburg TV, Viktor Yugin, complained that President Yeltsin's latest decree abolishing the independence of his TV station by placing it under governmental control is aimed at silencing criticism of Yeltsin's policies, Western news agencies reported on 20 October. He said that the decree curbs freedom of speech. Information Minister Mikhail Poltoranin had accused St. Petersburg TV of favoring hardliners and nationalists. Yeltsin decreed that the station, which broadcast on the fifth channel, be transformed from a local into a federal Russian TV company called Rossiya. (Alexander Rahr) PARLIAMENT CHAMBER VOTES ON FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT BILL. The Russian parliament's Council of Nationalities approved on the first reading a draft law which gives citizens of Russia the right to freely choose their place of residence within the Federation, ITAR-TASS reported on 20 October. This draft eliminates the existing system of residence permits according to which the authorities could give or deny citizens the right to live in any city or village of the country. ITARTASS said the Council of Nationalities called for more revisions to the draft aimed at eliminating several unclear points. (Vera Tolz) RUBLE EXCHANGE RATE DROPS FURTHER. The ruble fell to 368 to the US dollar at the 20 October trading session of the Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange, Biznes-TASS reported. The rate on 15-October had been 338 rubles to the dollar. The volume traded was $46.7 million, up from $37.9 million at the previous session. Contributory factors cited included high inflationary expectations, the continuing decline in output, and a government decision to oblige state enterprises to convert 100% of their hard-currency receipts at the market rate by the end of 1993. However, this last factor may not be valid, as earlier government pronouncements suggested that mandatory full conversion of hard-currency would be enforced "soon." (Keith Bush) USE OF FOREIGN CREDITS IN RUSSIA. On 20-October, the Russian Government Collegium approved a draft directive on the use of foreign credits, Interfax reported. The directive, which was proposed by Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Shokhin, distinguishes between trade and investment credits. To receive a trade credit, an enterprise must pay its entire cost outright, either in hard currency or in rubles at the market rate. To receive an investment credit, the enterprise will have to pay 15% of the total value in advance and undertake to repay the balance within the stipulated period. The credits will be distributed on a competitive basis through auctions instead of being administratively allocated. (Keith Bush) GORBACHEV WANTS TV TIME TO REPLY TO ZORKIN. On 20 October, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev sent a letter to the chairman of the Russian State TV and Radio Broadcasting Company, Oleg Poptsov, requesting TV time to reply to accusations made against him by Constitutional Court Chairman Valerii Zorkin. At a TV press conference, Zorkin attacked Gorbachev for ignoring summons to attend the constitutional court and described them as evidence of Gorbachev's disrespect for the law. He said that Gorbachev has deprived himself of the rights of Russian citizenship. Interfax quoted Gorbachev's letter as saying that the press conference cast doubt on Zorkin's objectivity and independence. On 20 October, deputy prime minister and information minister Mikhail Poltoranin reiterated that Russian authorities hold "very serious documents" signed by Gorbachev that could incriminate the former Soviet leader. (Vera Tolz) NEW UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER PESSIMISTIC ON ECONOMY. Newly appointed Ukrainian Prime Minister Leonid Kuchma says that Ukraine's economy is in worse condition than he had suspected, Reuters reported on 19 October. Kuchma is reported to have told the Ukrinform news agency that he could not promise "an easy life" and that the economic situation would grow worse. At the same time, he promised that his government would work "conscientiously." Kuchma is due to announce his cabinet next week. (Roman Solchanyk) MEETING OF UKRAINIAN AND RUSSIAN INDUSTRIALISTS. Ukrainian and Russian industrialists and entrepreneurs were scheduled to meet in Belgorod on 20 October to discuss coordination of their activities, Radio "Mayak" reported. It was expected that Arkadii Volsky and Vasilii Yevtukhov, the heads of the Russian and Ukrainian organizations of industrialists and entrepreneurs, would address the meeting. (Roman Solchanyk) NO PROGRESS IN ABKHAZ PEACE TALKS. Georgian Foreign Minister Aleksandre Chikvaidze returned to Tbilisi on 20 October after talks with Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev in which no progress was made on an Abkhaz peace settlement, Russian foreign ministry spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky told Interfax. Parallel talks took place behind closed doors in Sukhumi on 19 October between members of the ethnic Abkhaz and Georgian factions within the Abkhaz parliament, ITAR-TASS reported. Continued fighting between Abkhaz and Georgian troops was reported near Sukhumi and Ochamchire on 19-20-October. (Liz Fuller) WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE OFFICIAL GEORGIAN ELECTION RESULTS? Ten days after the Georgian parliamentary elections, the central electoral commission has apparently still not made public the composition of the new parliament. On 20 October the unofficial Iberia News Agency cited statistics on the distribution of 145 of the total 234 seats, which confirm earlier predictions that the Mshvidoba (Peace) bloc, which is dominated by former Communist Party apparatchiks, is the largest single faction within the new parliament with 24 seats, followed by the moderate 11 October and Unity blocs with 18 and 14 seats respectively. The Neue Zuercher Zeitung reported on 14 October that 226 seats in the new parliament had been filled. (Liz Fuller) ARMENIA APPOINTS NEW DEFENSE MINISTER. Former Prime Minister Vazgen Manukyan, who resigned over policy disagreements with Levon Ter-Petrossyan in September 1991, shortly before the latter's election as Armenian President, has been appointed Armenian Minister of Defence, according to Armen-Press-TASS. Manukyan replaces Vazgen Sarkisyan, who has been named special advisor to Ter-Petrossyan and envoy to the Armenian raions bordering on Azerbaijan. (Liz Fuller) RESIGNATION OF VALERII TISHKOV. Valerii Tishkov, chairman of Russia's State Committee for Nationality Affairs, has resigned after only seven months in office, Radio Rossii reported on 19 October. Tishkov told Rossiiskie vesti (20 October) that one reason was his inability to get a new building in the center of Moscow or recruit the best people for the committee. More important reasons were the senselessness of many Russian laws, which were dictated by narrow political interests (Tishkov cited in particular the laws on the rehabilitation of the repressed peoples and the Cossacks which anyone aware of the situation knew would only provoke conflicts) and the failure of the top decision-making bodies to consult the committee. (Ann Sheehy) YELTSIN AT OPENING OF YAKUT PERMANENT REPRESENTATION. Continuing his wooing of the Russian Federation's republics, Yeltsin attended the opening of the permanent representation of the republic of Sakha (Yakutia) in Moscow on 20 October, ITARTASS reported. Yeltsin said that the representations of the republics in Moscow would have a special role to play in the development of new federal relations. (Ann Sheehy) CONFEDERATION OF CAUCASIAN PEOPLES' PARLIAMENT CALLS FOR DENUNCIATION OF FEDERAL TREATY. The session of the parliament of the Confederation of Caucasian Peoples in Groznyi on 18 October endorsed the decision of the October Congress of the Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus to call on the North Caucasian republics to denounce the federal treaty with Russia, Interfax reported on 20-October. Interfax said that the parliament also decided to send a delegation to Baku to discuss the Lezgin question. The consequences of the possible establishment of a state frontier between Russian and Azerbaijan that would split the Lezgin people is to be discussed at the 4th Congress of the Lezgin People in early November. (Ann Sheehy) SITUATION IN TAJIKISTAN. Tajik Foreign Minister Khudoberdy Kholiknazarov and newly appointed State Advisor Davlat Khudonazarov met with Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev on 20 October to explore ways to find a way to end the civil war in southern Tajikistan, ITAR-TASS reported. None of the three described what concrete proposals had been discussed, but Kozyrev said that Russian help could not take the form of interference in Tajikistan's internal affairs. Tajikistan's highest-ranking Muslim clergyman, Kazi Akbar Turadzhonzoda, was reported by a Western news agency to have said on 19 October that Russia could end the Tajik civil war in two days if it wanted, by ending its support for fighters in Kulyab Oblast who oppose the present Tajik government. (Bess Brown) LENINABAD OFFICIALS APPEAL FOR RUSSIAN HELP. Officials in Tajikistan's Leninabad Oblast have issued an appeal for more Russian troops to be sent to the country, Khovar-TASS reported on 20 October. Leninabad, which has rejected the inclusion of opposition forces in the government in Dushanbe and which is known for procommunist sympathies, has succeeded in staying out of the armed conflict that has ravaged southern Tajikistan since June. The oblast leadership denied that arms from Leninabad have been supplied to forces in the south that support deposed President Rakhmon Nabiev, who is now living in Leninabad, and it offered to host meetings between the opposing sides in the southern conflict. (Bess Brown) EAST KAZAKHSTAN CANCELS CHECHEN DEPORTATION. The Deputy Chairman of the East Kazakhstan Oblast Soviet, Mukhtar Nukeshev, told an RL/RFE correspondent on 20 October that the council had reversed its earlier order that all Chechens be expelled from the oblast. The decision was reversed, according to Nukeshev, because a confrontation between Kazakhs and Chechens in Ust-Kamenogorsk had ended. Kazakhs had demonstrated for several days, demanding the expulsion of the Chechens, after Chechens were implicated in the murder of some Kazakhs. A commission was sent from Alma-Ata to examine the legality of the deportation order, and Interfax reported that a delegation from the Chechen parliament was on its way to Ust-Kamenogorsk. (Bess Brown) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE TUDJMAN AND COSIC SIGN AGREEMENT. The New York Times reported on 21 October that the presidents of Croatia and SerbiaMontenegro had signed an agreement under UN sponsorship in Geneva a day earlier. The agreement commits the two to some concrete goals, such as opening the main BelgradeZagreb highway as well as liaison offices in each other's capitals. An earlier agreement concluded on 30 September has not been truly implemented, though one clause was fulfilled on 20 October when Serbian forces completed their withdrawal from Croatia's Prevlaka peninsula near Dubrovnik, which is now under UN control. (Patrick Moore) BOSNIAN UPDATE. The BBC reported on 21 October that UN armored personnel carriers had succeeded in rescuing a relief mission trapped by fighting between Muslims and Croats in the town of Vitez between Sarajevo and Travnik. The two sides are nominal allies in a fight against the Serbs, but the Muslims suspect the Croats of having agreed to the partition of BosniaHerzegovina with the Serbs and of now trying to consolidate their positions. The Croats may well be keeping all options open. There have been clashes between Muslims and Croats before, notably around Mostar, and the Muslims wonder out loud why the Croats do not move up from their strong positions in Herzegovina to break the siege of Sarajevo. The BBC also said that UN human rights envoy and former Polish Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki had visited Serbian and Muslim detention camps in Bosnia on 20 October. Mazowiecki said that the difference between the two was one of "hell and happiness," with hundreds of Muslims living in cramped conditions on the floors of the Serb camp, while a smaller number of Serbs had "proper beds and two regular meals per day" in the Muslim facility. (Patrick Moore) KOSOVO ALBANIAN STUDENTS POSTPONE PROTESTS. The Committee for Albanian Education in Kosovo has suspended protests by ethnic Albanian pupils and students until officials of the rump federal Yugoslav and Serbian education ministries meet representatives of Albanian educational associations on 22 October in Belgrade. The committee warned the protests would continue if talks did not yield "concrete results," Radio Serbia reported on 19-October. Ibrahim Rugova, chairman of Kosovo's main party, the Democratic League, reiterated in the latest issue of the Albanian weekly Bujku his insistence on creating a "neutral and independent Kosovo," as the basis for all his talks with Serbian officials. Serbia opposes any form of sovereignty for Kosovo whose population is over 90% Albanian. (Milan Andrejevich) WILL THERE BE EARLY ELECTIONS IN SERBIA? According to Radio Serbia on 19 October, parliamentary caucus chairmen in Serbia's National Assembly agreed at a closeddoor meeting with Assembly President Aleksandar Bakocevic that early elections should be held in Serbia by the end of this year. They also agreed that republican elections should be held on the same day as federal elections. Proposals on their organization and date are to be submitted by the end of this week. A constitutional amendment allowing for early general and presidential elections failed to win public approval in a recent referendum. (Milan Andrejevich) SLOVAKIA POSTPONES DIVERSION OF DANUBE... Slovakia announced on 20 October that it would postpone the planned opening of the Gabcikovo hydroelectric project which involves diverting the Danube. A spokesman for the Slovak government said that the decision was based on technical, rather than political considerations and that the river would be diverted by November. The Czechoslovak federal government will discuss the possibility of setting up a threeparty commission of Czechoslovak, Hungarian, and European Community experts to settle the dispute between Hungary and Slovakia. Negotiations between the interested parties are beginning in Brussels today. (Jan Obrman) ...AND ANTALL APPEALS TO WORLD LEADERS. Meanwhile, MTI reported that Hungarian Prime Minister Jozsef Antall sent a letter to leading politicians in Europe and North America (including Presidents George Bush and Boris Yeltsin) in which he made it clear that the diversion of the Danube "will seriously violate the interests of the international community and create a new source of conflict in Central Europe endangering stability and European cooperation." Antall asked the statesmen to "help rationality to prevail" and urge the Czechoslovak government to postpone the diversion "at least until international inquiry and mediation proceedings are completed." (Jan Obrman) HUNGARY DENIES ALLEGED TROOP MOVEMENTS. Following a phone inquiry from the Czechoslovak Ministry of Defense about alleged Hungarian troops movements near Rajka on the SlovakHungarian border, Hungary's Defense Ministry has stated that there was no military nor extraordinary border guard activity in that area, MTI reported on 20 October. Hungary's Deputy State Secretary of Defense Rudolf Joo called in the Czechoslovak military attache in Budapest and proposed setting up a joint monitoring group to strengthen mutual confidence and reassure the local population, as well as to prevent misunderstandings. (Alfred Reisch) SLOVAK MINISTER REJECTS COMPLAINTS OF HUNGARIAN MINORITY. Slovak Foreign Minister Milan Knazko accused Miklos Duray, the Chairman of the predominantly ethnicHungarian opposition party Coexistence of stirring ethnic tensions in Slovakia, CSTK reported on 20 October. Earlier, Duray told reporters that the new Slovak constitution sharply curtailed minority rights and that Hungarians were in many respects worse off now than under the communist regime. Knazko said that these statements were "unfounded and baseless." He added that Duray was a "militant, interpreting the constitution in a twisted way to hurt ethnic relations in Slovakia for political reasons." (Jan Obrman) NATIONAL ASSEMBLY CHASTISED BULGARIAN PREMIER. After a closed session which carried on past midnight, a narrow majority of the Bulgarian parliament on 21 October chastised Prime Minister Filip Dimitrov for his way of dealing with a Macedonian request to buy arms from Bulgaria, BTA reported. Dimitrov was criticized for actions that might have led to "lowering the country's prestige" and "damage to national security." Parliament praised the investigation led by head of counterespionage, General B. Asparuhov, but expressed disapproval that he had stated publicly his suspicions of government involvement in illegal arms deals. All UDF deputies boycotted the vote in protest. A day earlier the UDF daily Demokratsiya published what it claimed were the minutes of a 2 October meeting between the Premier and President Zhelyu Zhelev, according to which the two had agreed that Dimitrov had acted in an appropriate manner. (Kjell Engelbrekt) ILIESCU HOLDS TALKS ON FUTURE CABINET. On 20 October Romanian President Ion Iliescu held talks on forming a government with leaders of the parties represented in parliament. According to Radio Bucharest, Iliescu received leaders of the Democratic National Salvation Front (DNSF) which had backed him in the 27 September elections; the National Peasant Party-Christian Democratic; the Democratic Agrarian Party; the Civic Alliance Party; the Party of Romanian National Unity; and the National Salvation Front (NSF). NSF leader Petre Roman stated that he had offered support for the rival DNSF in parliament on condition that it promised to foster market reforms despite its pledges to the contrary during the electoral campaign. He also said that the NSF might join a coalition government that included the centrist Democratic Convention. (Dan Ionescu) NEW POLITICAL PARTY IN LATVIA. On 17 October, 98 delegates convened in Riga for the formal founding of the Democratic Center Party. The main speakers were Supreme Council Deputy Janis Skapars and former Deputy Prime Minister Ilmars Bisers, who said that the party would aim to steer a moderate course both politically and economically and seek its adherents among all the nationalities living in Latvia. Among the new party's activistists are former liberal communists who supported and worked for the People's Front of Latvia when it was founded in October 1988, Radio Riga reported on 18 October. (Dzintra Bungs) POLISH GOVERNMENT PROPOSES NEW BUDGET CUTS. Responding to the Sejm's refusal to consider limiting costofliving increases for pensioners in 1992, the Polish government approved new spending cuts of 1.8 trillion zloty ($129 million) on 20 October. The cuts, part of a package of revisions to the 1992 budget, would reduce subsidies to the railways and defense industries, credits for farmers, central investments and budgetary reserves. At the same time, the government pledged to return to the pension issue in the draft budget for 1993. Social security payments have in recent years become a huge drag on the budget. They will amount to 20% of expenditures in 1992 and, if unchecked, could rise to 30% in 1993. Finance ministry officials argue that no normal state can afford this burden. (Louisa Vinton) RECORD VOLUME ON WARSAW STOCK MARKET. Trading reached record levels on the Warsaw stock market on 20 October after most of the firms represented reported positive economic results for the first three quarters of 1992. Volume exceeded 55.1 billion zloty ($4 million). Demand for shares in two firms-Prochnik and Mostostal-was so great that trading in them had to be suspended. Eight of the nine firms which announced their results before the trading session opened (of the sixteen on the market) have so far recorded profits in 1992; two others reported balances in the black earlier in the month. (Louisa Vinton) BULGARIA TO RECEIVE EC CREDITS. The finance ministers of European Community countries agreed at a meeting in Luxemburg to release 100 million Ecu in credits to help Bulgaria overcome its present balance of payments problems, Bulgarian and Western dailies wrote on 20 October. The first of two installments will be made available immediately, while the second part is to be provided when Bulgaria has renegotiated its debt agreement with the Paris Club of creditors. (Kjell Engelbrekt) ROMANIA'S ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE IN SEPTEMBER. Romania's National Statistics Board released on 20 October data on the previous month's economic performance. Industrial production was up 5.5% from August, but was still 23.5% below the level of September 1991. The trade balance registered a surplus of $68.2 million. Compared to August, prices for consumer goods and staples were 10.1% and 12.1% higher, respectively. Compared with October 1990, when price liberalization began, food prices were up 1,074%. Over 869,000 people (7.7% of the labor force) were out of work. The communique said that seasonal sowing was behind schedule, with only 29% of wheat fields sown. (Dan Ionescu) WALESA: SOVIET PARTY WAS "CRIMINAL ORGANIZATION." In an interview with the Russian weekly Novoe Vremya on 20 October, Polish President Lech Walesa took the part of Russian President Boris Yeltsin. Walesa said the Soviet communists who enslaved Poland were a "criminal organization." Resolving this question once and for all through the release of documents on the Katyn massacres, Walesa said, had opened the way for democratic relations between the two nations. "Without Yeltsin," Walesa said, "this would have been impossible." Walesa called the conflict between Yeltsin and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev a "contest over Russia's future policies." Only Yeltsin had understood that revealing the full truth about the criminal nature of the communist system was the only way to keep Russia moving forward and to forestall efforts by former communist leaders to pretend that the old system "wasn't really so bad." "Other Soviet leaders knew the truth but were afraid to reveal it," Walesa observed. (Louisa Vinton) UPDATE ON RUSSIAN TROOP TRAIN. Radio Riga reported on 20 October that in response to Latvian inquires about the illegal entry of a Russian train transporting troops and missiles to Latvia from Estonia, the Russian embassy and the Northwestern Group of Forces leadership apologized, claiming that this was a "misunderstanding" and that the Estonian authorities regretted that they had not promptly informed Latvia of the Russian military's plans to send the train. Minister of State Janis Dinevics said that a protest note had been sent and that Latvia would seek a peaceful solution to the incident. (Dzintra Bungs) ESTONIAN OPPOSITION CALLS NEW GOVERNMENT NATIONALISTSOCIALIST. Two opposition factions in the Estonian parliament are calling the proposed ProPatriaModeratesENIP government "national socialist," BNS reports. The Coalition Party Alliance and the Rural Union Alliance, which together formed the preelection coalition Secure Home, circulated a statement criticizing the government program approved on 20 October by the Riigikogu. The Secure Home coalition is made up of former Savisaar government ministers and collective/state farm directors. (Riina Kionka)
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