|Every custom was once an eccentricity; every idea was once an absurdity. - Holbrook Jackson|
No. 204, 22 October 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR YELTSIN UNDER ATTACK. Hardliners will seek to impeach President Boris Yeltsin and abolish the institution of the presidency at the next Congress, Komsomolskaya pravda reported on 20 October. The opposition is united in a newly created front of national salvation: an organization that has already started to establish its units on the local level. In Ekaterinburg, for example, the front conducted a congress of workers, peasants and "labor intelligentsia" of the Central Urals which called for Yeltsin's resignation. The Civic Union, which apparently helped set up the front, has now officially distanced itself from that organization. Yeltsin and Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi have reportedly joined forces to fight the Front. (Alexander Rahr) CONGRESS WILL TAKE PLACE IN DECEMBER. The Russian parliament has rejected the proposal made by President Yeltsin and the leaders of the republics of the Russian Federation to postpone the Seventh Congress of People's Deputies until spring 1993, ITAR-TASS reported on 21 October. Observers believe that the Congress, which is scheduled to start on 1 December, may seriously weaken the position of Yeltsin and the reformist government. At the suggestion of the Civic Union, parliament also summoned for testimony four senior members of the Russian leadership (Gennadii Burbulis, Andrei Kozyrev, Mikhail Poltoranin and Anatolii Chubais), who at a press conference on 16-October had warned of an impending coup attempt against the President by members of the legislature. Parliament will demand that the ministers to explain their reasons for issuing this warning. (Alexander Rahr) ANOTHER WARNING OF HYPERINFLATION IN RUSSIA. Professor Jeffrey Sachs has warned of hyperinflation in Russia, The Times reported on 21-October. Speaking at a London conference on banking reform in Eastern Europe organized by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Sachs stated that the Russian money supply had ballooned by 150% since 1 July, from 1.5 trillion to 4 trillion rubles. This has caused prices to accelerate by perhaps 10% a week, that is, an annual rate of more than 14,000%. "There has been no help from outside and Russia's problems are about to explode." (Keith Bush) RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT HIKES PENSIONS. On 21 October, the Russian parliament enacted a bill "On Raising State Pensions in the Russian Federation," Interfax reported. This stipulates an increase in the minimum state pension from 900 rubles to 2,250 rubles a month, effective 1 November. It also provides for indexing minimum pensions every three months, starting on 1 February 1993. (On 19 October, ITAR-TASS reported that the Russian government proposed to raise the minimum wage from 900 to 2,250 rubles starting in January 1993). No price tag was put on the pension increase, but the finance minister and the employment minister warned parliament of the inflationary impact. (Keith Bush) ILO PREDICTS STEEP RISE IN RUSSIAN UNEMPLOYMENT. The ILO has carried out its second survey of industrial enterprises in Moscow and St.-Petersburg, and is predicting that mass layoffs will begin early in 1993, according to western agencies on 21 October. The first survey covered 500 enterprises, and the second one, carried out in mid-1992, covered 191, 109 of which were also included in the earlier survey. After the first survey the ILO predicted that unemployment figures would reach ten to eleven million by the end of 1992. The numbers of unemployed registered with the state employment service in September was however still below 1 million. 40% of the enterprises covered by the second survey claim that they will cut employment by mid 1993. (Sheila Marnie) KUCHMA ON ECONOMY, POLITICS. Newlyappointed Ukrainian Prime Minister Leonid Kuchma told Le Figaro that Ukraine has been preoccupied with politics rather than economics. Privatization, he asserted, should have begun a long time ago. His remarks appear in an interview published in the newspaper on 21 October. Kuchma argues that privatization should be initially focused on the trade and service sector and that farmers should be given the land to work. In the industrial sector, small and middle-sized enterprises should be privatized, but the nuclear, energy, and military industries must remain under state control. Kuchma also told the newspaper that he proposes the formation of a government of popular trust that will be committed to the reform process. (Roman Solchanyk) UKRAINE CAUTIONED ON SEPARATE CURRENCY. Ukrainian Central Bank Chairman Vadim Hetman told a Kiev news conference on 21 October that it was technically possible to launch the hrivnya by the end of the year, but he advised against it, Reuters reported. "Nowhere has it proven possible to introduce a new currency amid catastrophic economic conditions." Hetman recommended that the country first work out a coherent reform program based on privatization. He repeated Ukraine's intention of paying its 16.37% share of the debt of the former Soviet Union, and ruled out Russia's proposals that Moscow assume full responsibility for the debt provided that it inherited all former Soviet assets. (Keith Bush) FOREIGN POLICY "CONCEPT" TO APPEAR SOON. The Russian Foreign Ministry's long-awaited "concept" of Russian foreign policy-a statement which is intended to map out Russia's overall foreign policy goals and stances-is expected to appear soon. Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 21-October that the 53-page document is all but complete and needs only President Yeltsin's stamp of approval. According to the paper, the Foreign Ministry's report continues to emphasize good relations with the "near abroad" (the former republics of the USSR), and rejects the use of strong-arm tactics in this region. The authors of the document emphasize the utility of bilateral agreements, thus continuing a trend of Russian policy toward the near abroad, which started in the spring of 1992, and which is designed to hedge against the collapse of the CIS. (Suzanne Crow) YELTSIN TO SPEAK AT FOREIGN MINISTRY. Reports about the coming publication of the Foreign Ministry concept coincide with reports that President Yeltsin plans to address the Russian Foreign Ministry in late October. His talk will be designed to show support for the embattled policy line of Andrei Kozyrev, the Russian foreign minister, Interfax reported on 20 October. The fact that this speech will occur in the weeks preceding the Congress of the People's Deputies is intended to send a message to legislators: criticism of Kozyrev will not find sympathy with Yeltsin. It is likely that the Russian president's speech will also be used for christening the new Foreign Ministry concept for Russia's foreign policy. (Suzanne Crow) FINANCIAL VIOLATIONS IN GORBACHEV FOUNDATION DISPUTED. An article in Moscow News (No.-43) asserts that President Yeltsin's closure of the Gorbachev Foundation was an act of political oppression. According to the article, in August 1992, Yeltsin sent to the foundation an audit commission from the Russian Ministry of Finance with instructions "to find illegal sources and uses of the income and property by the Gorbachev Foundation." In fact, the commission found no financial violations, only minor cases of confusion that resulted from unclear instructions from the newly established Russian fiscal agency. According to Moscow News, the Russian government is trying to convince the public that the foundation's employees have enriched themselves at the public's expense, but this accusation is totally unfounded, since the Russian government has not contributed a single ruble either to the foundation or to the upkeep of its premises. (Julia Wishnevsky) BELARUS RATIFIES THE CFE TREATY. The Supreme Soviet of the Republic of Belarus ratified the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty at a closed session on 21 October, ITAR-TASS reported. The treaty, which sets limits on five categories of conventional weapons in Europe, came into force on 17 July this year. Armenia is now the only one of the 29 signatories not to have ratified the treaty. (Doug Clarke) BLACK SEA FLEET APPOINTMENT. Interfax reported on 21 October that Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev has appointed Vice Admiral Petr Svyatashov Chief of Staff of the Black Sea Fleet. The report provided no details as to the exact role that the Admiral would play in the disputed fleet or whether his appointment needed also to be approved by the Ukrainian side. (Stephen Foye) OUTLINES OF THE NEW UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT. The new Ukrainian cabinet of ministers will retain Konstantin Morozov and Anatolii Zlenko, the ministers of defense and foreign affairs, respectively, according to remarks made by Prime Minister Leonid Kuchma to Interfax on 21 October. Kuchma also said that probably the ministers for industry, the military-industrial complex, conversion (Viktor Antonov), and health (Yurii Spizhenko) would also be included in the new government. (Roman Solchanyk) UKRAINIAN STUDENTS CONTINUE STRIKE. As of 19 October, 22 students were continuing their hunger strike in Kiev as part of a campaign to force new parliamentary elections and Ukraine' withdrawal from the CIS. At the same time, more students have abandoned their classrooms in support of the campaign. All institutes of higher education in Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk have gone on strike, as well as the Luhanksk Pedagogical Institute, the Ukrainian National Humanitarian Lyceum, individual departments of Kiev State University, the Kiev Polytechnic, and the Kiev Agricultural Institute. (Roman Solchanyk) RUSSIAN-ABKHAZ TALKS. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev and Abkhaz parliament chairman Vladislav Ardzinba met in Moscow on 21-October. Ardzinba subsequently told journalists that the talks had yielded a better understanding of the issues at stake but no progress had been made on resolving the conflict. He affirmed that Abkhazia was complying with the terms of the 3 September ceasefire agreement and wanted a peaceful settlement, but insisted that Georgia withdraw its troops from Abkhazia. Ardzinba also accused Georgia of wishing to create "a new unitary state structure" that would entail the abolition of any autonomy for Abkhazia, ITAR-TASS reported. (Liz Fuller) RUSSIAN COMMANDER WARNS GEORGIANS. Interfax reported on 21 October that General Fedor Reut, commander of the Transcaucasus Military District, has sent a letter to Eduard Shevardnadze warning him that attacks on Russian military personnel in Georgia could lead to unpredictable consequences. The report suggested that the letter was not written in a hostile tone, and speculated that Reut is himself bound by instructions from Russian Deputy Defense Minister Georgii Kondratev and by a General Sigutkin, identified in the report as the Russian Defense Ministry's special representative in Abkhazia. (Stephen Foye) ARMENIA, AZERBAIJAN SIGN PROTOCOL ON RAIL TRAFFIC. The ongoing talks between Armenian and Azerbaijani defense ministry officials on safeguarding rail traffic between the two states resulted on 21 October in the signing of a protocol establishing security zones along the frontiers between the two states from which all armed formations and military hardware are to be withdrawn on 24-25 October, Radio Erevan reported on 21-October. Implementation of the agreement will be monitored by Russian, Azerbaijani and Armenian observers. (Liz Fuller) WORSENING SITUATION IN TAJIKISTAN. Deputy Prime Minister Asmiddin Sohibnazarov appealed to the world community for humanitarian aid, saying on 21 October that there are now more than 200,000 refugees who have fled their homes to escape fighting in the southern parts of Tajikistan. Most have gone to Dushanbe and the Kulyab and Leninabad Oblasts, and local resources are nearly exhausted. Sohibnazarov's appeal follows reports that the economic situation of the country is disastrous. Much of Tajikistan's cotton crop was not harvested, and several regions, including Kulyab Oblast, face severe shortages of food. (Bess Brown) RUSSIAN DIVISION GIVEN PERMISSION TO SHOOT. On October 21, ITAR-TASS reported that the commander of the Russian motorized division stationed in Tajikistan has authorized his men to shoot without warning if their personal safety is threatened. An increase in the number of attacks on division soldiers has been reported recently. Tajik militiamen have also been authorized to fire on vehicles ignoring an order to stop. The same day, ITAR-TASS reported that acting President Akbarsho Iskandarov wants units of the Russian division to take part in peacekeeping operations and has submitted a plan to the representative of the Russian Defense Ministry in Dushanbe. (Bess Brown) MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ON LEFT BANK'S STATUS. President Mircea Snegur outlined Moldova's policy on the "Dniester" question to a visiting party of fifty-six Russian journalists in Chisinau on 16 October, as reported by Moldovapres and Interfax, and in an interview with Nezavisimaya gazeta of 21 October. Moldova will continue to resist its transformation into a "federation" of republics and the creation of a "Dniester republic" with an army, security services, border guards, and other attributes of statehood. Chisinau is, however, prepared to grant the left bank of the Dniester "self-government" with political, economic, and cultural autonomy, within an "integral and indivisible" Moldova. Chisinau is also ready to recognize the left bank's full right of self-determination in the event of "a change in Moldova's status as a state" (that is, unification with Romania, which the "Dniester" Russian leadership professes to fear and which Moldova itself opposes). (Vladimir Socor) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UN STOPS RELIEF FLIGHTS TO SARAJEVO. The 22 October Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported that the UN had announced the previous day that fighting between Croats and Muslims near Novi Travnik had made it impossible to continue aid flights safely, and that the missions would be stopped. The previous weekend, similar fighting had prompted the UN to halt overland shipments from Split. Sarajevo's food reserves are reportedly exhausted, and tank shells recently put the city's vital flour mill out of action. Meanwhile, an RFE/RL correspondent at the UN said on 21 October that Milan Panic, prime minister of the rump Yugoslavia, had offered to provide a secure overland relief route from Belgrade to Sarajevo. Panic pledged 100 trucks with drivers and safe passage, but it was not clear whether he could actually bring Bosnian Serb leaders around to agree. Finally, the 22 October Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung quoted UN human rights envoy Tadeusz Mazowiecki as reporting from Bosnia that it was not a question of refugees surviving the winter, but of their surviving the autumn. (Patrick Moore) WHAT IS GOING ON IN BOSNIA? The 22 October Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said that Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic had told UN mediator Cyrus Vance in Geneva that he approved dividing his republic into 8 to 10 cantons set up on a geographic, not an ethnic, basis. Izetbegovic said he would not stand for reelection when his term runs out on 18-December, but he denied rumors in the Croatian media that he had already been toppled by Vice President Ejup Ganic in a coup allegedly aimed at uniting Bosnia with rump Yugoslavia. Bosnian officials mocked the Croatian reports, calling them "silly" and propagandistic. The 22 October New York Times reported that the current wave of fighting between Muslims and Croats might be the result of desperation by the Muslims, who might well fear that the Croats and possibly Izetbegovic have made a deal with Belgrade at their expense. Another theory suggested that Izetbegovic was trying to rally Muslim troops serving in Croatian units to turn on the Croats in a desperate lifeordeath struggle. Finally, as if to add to the confusion, international media on 21-October reported renewed fighting between Serbs and Croats southeast of Dubrovnik. (Patrick Moore) CONTROVERSY OVER INTERIOR MINISTRY CONTINUES IN BELGRADE. The independent Belgrade daily Borba warned on 20 October that the takeover by Serbian police of the Federal Interior Ministry in Belgrade has heightened tensions between Serbia's President Slobodan Milosevic and leaders of the federal rump Yugoslav government and raised fears of the army's intervention. A statement by Serbia's main opposition party, the Serbian Renewal Movement, described the move as "Milosevic's foolish resolve to provoke war in Serbia" adding that "to keep his own position, this man is prepared to turn Belgrade into Sarajevo." A Serbian Interior Ministry statement said that the federal administration had to move out because a Belgrade court ruled the building was the property of the Republic of Serbia. However, Bratimir Tocanac, head of that court said he knew nothing about such a ruling, according to Radio Serbia on 20 October. The Federal Interior Ministry relocated to the federal government's Palace of the Federation building and announced it would prosecute the Serbian police, who, according to Belgrade media, were backed by Serbian militia from Croatia and Bosnia. (Milan Andrejevich) KOSOVO DEVELOPMENTS. Radio Serbia reported on 21 October that 19 ethnic Albanians had been convicted by a provincial court of planning to use violent means to seek Kosovo's independence from Serbia. The group, allegedly members of the National Front of Albanians, were given sentences totalling more than 70 years. International media reported that Bujar Bukoshi, Prime Minister of the selfproclaimed Republic of Kosovo, has urged the US to press Serbia to lift martial law and also asked the UN to impose a "nofly" zone over Kosovo and take control of Serbian military hardware there. Bukoshi added that such actions were necessary in order to head off an imminent "massacre" of Albanians by heavily armed Serbs. He made the remarks at the end of his three day visit to the US on 21 October. Kosovo's Albanians, who make up more than 90% of the province's population, reject Serbian domination and seek independence. (Milan Andrejevich) NEW ESTONIAN GOVERNMENT. President Lennart Meri named Prime Minister Mart Laar's choices for the new government on 21 October, local sources report. The new government, drawn from the strongly promarket ruling coalition of Pro Patria, the Moderates and Estonian National Independence Party, stands as follows: former deputy Foreign Minister Trivimi Velliste (Pro Patria) for Foreign Affairs; Kiel professor Hain Rebas (ENIP) for Defense; former dissident Lagle Parek (ENIP) for Interior Affairs; Stockholm economist Madis Uurike for Finance; former deputy speaker Marju Lauristin (Moderates) for Social Welfare; agronomist Ain Saarmann (Pro Patria) for the Economy; former Supreme Council deputy Kaido Kama (Pro Patria) for Justice; poet PaulEerik Rummo (Pro Patria) for Culture; agricultural engineer Jaan Leetsar (Moderates) for Agriculture; former Transportation Ministry functionary Andi Meister (ENIP) for Transportation; geographer and former Supreme Council deputy Andres Tarand (Moderates) for the Environment. The two ministers without portfolio include scientist and former Supreme Council deputy Liia Hanni (Moderates) for Minister of Reform; and Toronto energy executive Arvo Niitenberg for Energy, a post he held under the previous government. (Riina Kionka) LATVIAN GOVERNMENT SURVIVES VOTE OF CONFIDENCE. With the exception of the Minister for Economic Reforms, the government of Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis survived the vote of no confidence in the Latvian Supreme Council, Baltic media reported on 21 October. Votes were also taken against Foreign Minister Janis Jurkans and Internal Affairs Minister Ziedonis Cever, but failed to force their resignation. After these votes it appears unlikely that the government will resign en masse. (Dzintra Bungs) ELECTION LAW ADOPTED IN LATVIA. On 20-October the Latvian Supreme Council adopted a new election law that stipulates that all citizens of Latvia can vote, provided they are at least 18 years old and have not been members of organizations opposing Latvia's independence, such as the KGB, Radio Riga reported. (Dzintra Bungs) BULGARIAN PREMIER ASKS FOR CONFIDENCE VOTE. On the evening of 21 October the Bulgarian government proposed that the National Assembly take, on the following day, a vote of confidence on the government's performance and policies, BTA reported. Prime Minister Filip Dimitrov, who had been rebuked by parliament earlier that day for his decision to send a political adviser to discuss an arms deal with Macedonian leaders, told reporters that a government could not continue to rule if it had been denigrated and its arms and legs were tied. In a statement the UDF's governing body accused President Zhelyu Zhelev of instigating recent attacks on the government. Emergency talks between UDF leaders and their MRF counterparts, who hold the balance of power in parliament, carried on through the night. (Kjell Engelbrekt) NO COALITION GOVERNMENT IN SIGHT IN ROMANIA. On 21 October Romania's President Ion Iliescu ended two days of talks with political party leaders on forming a government. Interviewed by Radio Bucharest, Iliescu admitted that the talks had failed to produce a national unity government, or a broadbased coalition involving the main political parties. He added that the focus would now shift to the possibility of forming a narrower coalition led by his Democratic National Salvation Front (DNSF). Iliescu, who called for "a political pact" in the parliament, proposed a parliamentary "moratorium," a period of grace during which the parties that did not join the ruling coalition would not obstruct a DNSFled government. (Dan Ionescu) NEW DATE SET FOR DIVERSION OF DANUBE. Czechoslovak Foreign Minister Jozef Moravcik said on 21 October that the planned diversion of the Danube as part of the controversial Gabcikovo hydroelectric project will take place on 3 November, CSTK reported. Moravcik's announcement conflicts with earlier official Slovak statements which said that the diversion would begin on 7 November. The federal foreign minister also said that his government was ready to take into consideration any recommendations of the EC as long as they were presented by 2-November at the latest. He added that the diversion of the Danube was not irreversible and that even after the damming of the river the Danube can be diverted to its original river bed. Meanwhile, Hungarian, Czechoslovak, and EC officials are scheduled to discuss Gabcikovo in Brussels today. They will consider the setting up of a tripartite commission that would offer solutions for the current deadlock. (Jan Obrman) SLOVAKIA COMMEMORATES DEPORTED JEWS. A memorial ceremony was held on 21 October in the Slovak town of Nitra in remembrance of Slovak Jews who were deported to death camps during the war. The ceremony marked the 50th anniversary of the first group of Slovak Jews to be sent to the camps. In the presence of Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, Slovak parliament Chairman Ivan Gasparovic, and Israel's Ambassador to Czechoslovakia, Yoel Scher, a monument was unveiled to commemorate the estimated 70,000 people who were deported. Gasparovic told the 300 people who gathered for the ceremony that there will be no room for racism and antiSemitism in the new Slovak state. (Jan Obrman) CZECH PARLIAMENT APPROVES LAW ON CZECH PRESS AGENCY. The Czech National Council approved a law on the new Czech Press Agency (CTK) on 21 October. The law makes provision for the introduction of CTK as a legal public entity on 15 November and its full privatization within the next two years. It stipulates that no government official or Czech parliamentary deputy may become CTK's director or sit on the 7member council that will oversee its activities. The council will be elected by the Czech National Council. Unlike its federal predecessor, CSTK, CTK will not be obliged to publish official government statements. (Jan Obrman) LIMITED CONVERTIBILITY FOR HUNGARIAN CURRENCY. Radio Budapest reported on 21 October that the Hungarian government had accepted the basic outline of a new law on the convertibility of the forint. After the law is passed by parliament, Hungarian enterprises will be able to freely convert their forints into foreign currency for business purposes. This is an important step forward toward the liberalization of the forint's convertibility and an indication of Hungary's good foreign trade and balance of payment performance. (Judith Pataki) IMF APPROVES CREDIT FOR LITHUANIA. On 21-October the executive board of directors of the IMF accepted the Lithuanian economic reform program and approved credits of $82 million in the next eleven months, Radio Lithuania reported. Part of the credits will be paid out immediately with additional credits at the end of February, May, and August. Lithuania will begin paying the annual interest of 46% in 1994 with the deadline for paying the balance of the loan in 1998. The board of the World Bank is expected to discuss granting a $60 million import loan to Lithuania on 22 October. (Saulius Girnius) BICKAUSKAS PERPLEXED OVER RUSSIAN ANNOUNCEMENT. Lithuania's charge d'affaires in Moscow Egidijus Bickauskas told Baltfax on 20-October that he was perplexed over a Russian announcement to suspend the troop withdrawals from the Baltic States. Recalling that Russian officials had already signed several documents stipulating 31-August 1993 as the completion date for the troop pullouts from Lithuania, Bickauskas expressed regret that "once again [Russia] has unilaterally announced plans to break its own commitments" and noted that such actions shed doubt on the sincerity of statements of Russian representatives who said they were striving to resolve these problems. (Dzintra Bungs) LANDSBERGIS DOUBTS RUSSIAN MILITARY WITHDRAWAL FROM LITHUANIA WILL BE SUSPENDED. On 21 October Lithuanian parliament chairman Vytautas Landsbergis told reporters that he thought that the statement of the Russian Defense Ministry on suspending the withdrawal of troops from the Baltic States was "meant for inner use and to calm down certain influential group assemblies of officers, by showing a general concern for their social needs," BNS reports. Noting that the texts of the agreements on the withdrawal made provision for postponing the removal of units if preparations for their settlement were not complete, he said that "as far as he knew units from Lithuania were not being withdrawn to empty fields," and had no reason "to believe that the army's withdrawal from Lithuania was to be suspended or slowed down." (Saulius Girnius) RUSSIAN TROOP TRAIN TO LEAVE LATVIA FOR KALININGRAD? Radio Riga reported on 21 October that preparations were being made to send to Kaliningrad the Russian train carrying troops and weapons that entered Latvia illegally on 19 October. The Latvian government also decided not to confiscate the train's cargo in order to show its good will to Russia and demonstrate its desire for a speedy resolution of the troop withdrawal issues. Radio Riga said that the next round of troop withdrawal talks was still expected to start on 23 October in Moscow. (Dzintra Bungs) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba & Anna Swidlicka
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