|Every custom was once an eccentricity; every idea was once an absurdity. - Holbrook Jackson|
No. 206, 26 October 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR ANTI-GOVERNMENT FORCES REACH DUSHANBE. In the morning of 24 October, forces from Kulyab Oblast who support deposed Tajik President Rakhmon Nabiev entered Dushanbe and seized the presidential palace, the Supreme Soviet building and the radio and TV centers, Interfax and other news agencies reported. The former speaker of the Tajik parliament, Safarali Kenzhaev, broadcast a statement accusing the anti-Communist coalition of democratic, nationalist and Islamic groups of seeking to force Muslim fundamentalism on Tajikistan and of having started the civil war that has raged in the country since June. Kenzhaev, who was forced out of office in May in a compromise between Nabiev and the opposition coalition, announced that the Kulyab "National Front" intended to restore the government that had been in office before opposition figures were added in May. (Bess Brown) FIGHTING IN DUSHANBE. Fighting continued in Dushanbe on 24 and 25 October, according to Interfax and other agencies in the Tajik capital. Hundreds of people were reported to have been killed. According to some reports, government supporters, hastily reinforced by pro-government fighters from outside Dushanbe, succeeded in recapturing some of the buildings occupied by the forces from Kulyab. On 25-October a ceasefire was agreed to. Russian forces stationed in Tajikistan were ordered to remain neutral; their commander persuaded Kenzhaev and acting President Akbarsho Iskandarov to meet. The two agreed on convening an emergency session of the Tajik legislature to discuss the forced resignation of Nabiev and to try to end the civil war. (Bess Brown) RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY ON TAJIKISTAN. On 24 October, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued an official statement on developments in Tajikistan. "A real threat of a further escalation of the conflict and of expansion of the civil war persists. This is fraught with disastrous consequences for the territorial integrity of Tajikistan and the security of the entire Central Asian region. The destiny of Russian citizens and the Russian-speaking population in that country is a matter of particular concern for the leadership of the Russian Federation." The statement also explained that Russian troops, while neutral, had been instructed to guarantee the security of certain installations, ITAR-TASS reported on 25 October. (Suzanne-Crow) KOZYREV THREATENS "IRRESPONSIBLE ELEMENTS." Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev said in an interview with ITAR-TASS published on 25-October that the Russian Federation's Security Council and the Russian parliament should hold special sessions to discuss the security of Russians and Russian-speakers in Tajikistan. The point of such meetings would be a "coordinated strategy of legislative and executive power which would leave irresponsible elements, wherever they may be, in no doubt that the entire might of the Russian state is poised to defend human rights, including the rights of Russians and of the Russian-speaking population." (Suzanne Crow) REPORTS OF CHANGES IN RUSSIAN CABINET. Amid a flurry of reports that cabinet changes were imminent, a cabinet meeting, and a one-on-one meeting between Yeltsin and Gaidar took place on 24-October, according to Russian and Western agencies. No official announcement of changes has been reported. During a visit to Tolyatti on 25 October, Gaidar denied that a government shakeup was imminent. He did not completely exclude changes, but said that radical changes would not be made before the session of the Congress of People's Deputies, scheduled for 1 December. (Keith Bush) ANTI-GOVERNMENT DEMONSTRATIONS. Weekend anti-government demonstrations took place in various Russian cities on 24 and 25 October, Western news agencies reported on 26 October. Approximately 10,000 demonstrators gathered in the center of Moscow to demand the resignation of President Yeltsin. Similar demonstrations were reported in St.-Petersburg, the Far East, and Siberia. In Moscow, leading hardliners, such as General Albert Makashov, Colonel Viktor Alksnis, the Communist deputy leader Sergei Baburin, and the writer Aleksandr Prokhanov, founded a "National Salvation Front," which declared as its goal the removal of the president and his cabinet by "constitutional means." The front advocated new elections for all constitutional bodies in early 1993. (Alexander Rahr) YELTSIN'S AIDES SAID TO ADVOCATE DISSOLUTION OF PARLIAMENT. On 23 and 24 October, "Vesti" cited unidentified "circles close to Russian President [Yeltsin]" as advocating the introduction of what was termed "direct presidential rule" in Russia. One result of this move would be the "dissolution of parliament," according to "Vesti." On 24 October, Russian TV broadcast a special meeting of the leaders of the Russian Democratic Reform Movement, whose chairman, the former mayor of Moscow, Gavrill Popov, asserted that the introduction of direct presidential rule would be only "a temporary retreat from democracy." The idea to disband parliament arose in response to the refusal of Russian legislators to postpone the next Congress of People's Deputies, whose membership includes many ex-communists who are critical of Yeltsin's reform program. (Julia Wishnevsky) KHASBULATOV'S HEALTH SUFFERS; HIS GUARD AT ODDS WITH POLICE. Parliamentary speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov has been hospitalized suffering after suffering a sudden increase in blood pressure at a parliamentary session on 22 October, Rossiiskaya gazeta reported on 23 October. Before the session, Khasbulatov had told journalists that he did not expect to die a natural death, and complained that the former KGB was keeping him under constant surveillance. Some officials have accused Khasbulatov of planning a coup. More information is coming to light about the speaker's 5,000-strong parliamentary guard, three members of which exchanged shots last week with Moscow police, who were intervening in defense of a taxi driver who was being threatened by a relative of Khasbulatov. (Alexander Rahr) GRACHEV: MILITARY SUPPORTS PRESIDENT. Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev released a statement on 23 October in which he reaffirmed that the military supported the lawfully elected Russian President, according to ITAR-TASS. Grachev rather ambiguously warned politicians who criticized the government and President that they were not aware of the consequences, both political and potentially violent, of their actions. The statement came after a 22 October Defense Ministry Collegium meeting, in which the members unanimously disagreed with the sentiments of the open letter published in Pravda on 21 October by conservative deputies. According to an Izvestiya account of 24-October, the officers were upset over the increasingly confrontational approach taken by the Russian Supreme Soviet and conservative groups. (John Lepingwell) ADVISERS TO RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER RESIGN. Three advisers to the Russian Defense Minister have resigned, according to an Interfax report of 24 October. The advisers, A. Yevstigneev, G. Melkov, and V.Sadovnik, reportedly were protesting Grachev's statement of support for Yeltsin. According to the "Shield" union, the advisers felt it inappropriate to support the person of the President, rather than the Constitution, and were concerned that Grachev was interfering in a political matter. They called for the armed forces to remain neutral. The Russian Defense Ministry claimed, however, that the advisers had been dismissed on 21 October for failing to fulfill their duties. (John Lepingwell) NATIONAL SALVATION FRONT ORGANIZER CLAIMS OFFICERS' BACKING. The Chairman of the Russian Officers' Union, Stanislav Terekhov, claimed that 99% of Russian officers support the goals of the new National Salvation Front, and dismissed Grachev's declaration of support for Yeltsin. While admitting that the officers may support Yeltsin more than the Gaidar government, he brushed off Grachev's comments as coming from a "well-fed corrupted military" in contrast to the hardships faced by regular officers. Terekhov's union claims only 10,000 members, and no evidence was provided to support his statements. (John Lepingwell) RYZHOV TO SECURITY COUNCIL? On 24 October, Interfax reported that Yuri Ryzhov, the Russian Ambassador to France, had been summoned to Moscow to attend a conference on 27 October. According to Interfax, reform-oriented groups are urging that Ryzhov be placed on the Russian Security Council in order to counterbalance the conservative Council Secretary, Yurii Skokov. Before becoming Ambassador, Ryzhov was director of the Moscow Aviation Institute. He was also a member of the Soviet Congress of People's Deputies where he advocated radical military reform. (John Lepingwell) RUSSIA CAN REPORTEDLY KEEP MISSILE RADAR IN LATVIA. Sergei Zotov, the leader of the Russian delegation to the talks with Latvia on the withdrawal of Russian military forces, said that Latvia has agreed to allow Russia to continue using the missile-warning radars at Skrunda (120-kilometers west of Riga) after the departure of Russian troops from Latvia. Zotov's remarks were reported by the Baltic News Service. The Skrunda complex formed a vital link in the Soviet Union's anti-ballistic missile defenses. A "Hen House" radar used for missile warning and space tracking is located there, and a new, large phased-array radar similar to the one built near Krasnoyarsk has been under construction there for years. (Doug Clarke) BULK OF RUSSIAN BALTIC FLEET TO KALININGRAD. Admiral Feliks Gromov, the commander in chief of the Russian Navy, was quoted by Mayak Radio on 23 October as saying that the bulk of the former Soviet Baltic Fleet would be transferred from the Baltic states to the naval base at Baltiisk, in Kaliningrad Oblast-the 15,000 square kilometer Russian enclave cut off from the rest of Russia by Lithuania and Belarus. A small part of the forces would be transferred to locations in northwestern Russia and to the Kronstadt naval base near St.-Petersburg. Baltiisk has long been the headquarters for the Baltic Fleet and the homeport for some of the largest ships of the fleet. However, most of the warships have been based in Estonia and Latvia, particularly at Liepaja. (Doug Clarke) UKRAINIAN OPPOSITION FORCES TO UNITE? Representatives of several opposition groups held a news conference on 23 October in Kiev at which they announced their intention to form a united bloc, DR-Press reported. The press conference was attended by representatives from New Ukraine, the Congress of National Democratic Forces, the Union of Ukrainian Students, and the All-Ukrainian Association of Solidarity with Toilers. "Rukh" was reportedly not represented because of Vyacheslav Chornovil's participation at a local conference in Lviv. The participants called attention to the danger of a "red putsch" in Ukraine. (Roman Solchanyk) INTRODUCTION OF NEW UKRAINIAN CURRENCY. On 25 October, Andrei Nechayev, citing Ukrainian Prime Minister Leonid Kuchma, said that Ukraine will delay the introduction of the accounting unit, the karbovanets, until next year, while the introduction of the Ukrainian national currency, the grivna, will be delayed "indefinitely," Interfax reported. The deputy head of the Ukrainian National Bank told Reuters on 25 October that Ukraine will introduce the karbovanets by the end of 1992. He confirmed that Ukraine must delay the introduction of a convertible national currency until it has built up foreign currency reserves, and suggested that "it would be good if our Western partners could support us with a stabilization fund worth $1-1.5 billion." (Keith Bush) UKRAINE PROTESTS BLACK SEA FLEET APPOINTMENT. Ukrainian Defense Minister Constantin Morozov on 24 October described the recent appointment of Vice Admiral Petr Svyatashov to be chief of staff of the Black Sea Fleet as a "one-sided action" breaching the Yalta agreements on the future of the fleet. According to Interfax, Ukraine has barred the admiral from assuming his new duties. Svyatashov was appointed by Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev. In August, Yeltsin and Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk agreed to place the disputed Black Sea Fleet under joint control for a three-year interim period. The leaders of Russia and Ukraine were to share authority over the fleet and jointly appoint its commanders. (Doug Clarke) NAKHICHEVAN "COUP ATTEMPT" FAILS. A group of some 200 armed supporters of the ruling Azerbaijan Popular Front (AzPF) occupied the Interior Ministry and TV center in Nakhichevan for five hours on 24 October before being dislodged by police, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. Some 35,000 people assembled in front of the occupied buildings to protest what Nakhichevan Parliament Chairman Geidar Aliev, in an interview given to Radio Liberty, termed a coup attempt by the Baku government. An Azerbaijan Popular Front spokesman in Baku denied Aliev's claims. Relations between Aliev and the AzPF deteriorated when the Nakhichevan parliament rejected Baku's proposed candidate for the post of Nakhichevan Interior Minister. (Liz Fuller) MOLDOVA APPEALS TO U.N. The office of the U.N. Secretary General Boutros Ghali on 25 October distributed as a U.N. document a message addressed to Ghali by Moldovan Foreign Minister Nicolae Tiu, protesting Russia's "interference in the internal affairs" of Moldova and other independent states "on the pretext of defending the rights of ethnic Russians." Russia's policy, Tiu wrote, poses "the threat of destabilization" to Moldova and other states. The message renewed Moldova's appeal to the U.N. to send military observers to monitor the implementation of the Moldovan-Russian convention on settling the conflict in eastern Moldova and also to attend as observers the Moldovan-Russian negotiations on the withdrawal of Russia's 14th Army from Moldova, the Moldovan media reported. (Vladimir Socor) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE POSTCOMMUNIST PARTY TOPS VOTE IN LITHUANIAN ELECTIONS. In the elections to the Lithuanian Seimas held on 25 October, the successor to the Lithuanian Communist Party appears to have captured the largest share of the vote, Radio Lithuania reports. According to initial reports by the German-French polling firm INFAS, the postcommunist Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party (LDLP) captured about 40% of the vote and is likely win 35 of the 70 seats awarded in the proportional system. The Sajudis coalition is set to win 18 seats, the Christian-Democratic Party (in coalition with the Democratic Party and Union of Political Prisoners) - 10 seats, the Social-Democratic Party - 5, and the Union of Poles - 2 seats. The numbers may change as the "Young Lithuania" coalition, now with 3.9% of the vote, may pass the 4% barrier when all the votes are counted. At a press conference on 26 October, election commission chairman Vaclovas Litvinas said that preliminary results from the 71 single-mandate districts so far show 14 winners, 10 of whom are members of the LDLP. (Saulius Girnius). CONSTITUTION APPROVED IN LITHUANIAN REFERENDUM. Election commission chairman Litvinas added that preliminary results indicated that the referendum on the new Lithuanian Constitution had been approved by about 53% of eligible voters and had thus passed. Radio Lithuania reports that about 85% of those taking part in the elections supported the referendum. Voter turnout was over 70%. (Saulius Girnius) CZECHOSLOVAKIA BEGINS DAMMING THE DANUBE. On 24 October Czechoslovak authorities started damming the Danube riverbed at Cunovo with the aim of diverting some of the river's water to the canal leading to the hydroelectric power plant at Gabcikovo, CSTK reported. The work started despite protests by the Hungarian government that the diversion of the Danube unilaterally changes the Slovak-Hungarian border and will cause widespread ecological damage. On 23 October Hungary officially invoked the CSCE emergency procedure designed to resolve international conflicts. Hungary also turned to the International Court of Justice in the Hague. The European Community's executive arm reported on 23 October that it had failed to resolve the conflict in talks with Hungarian and Czechoslovak officials. Also on 23 October, Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar accused Hungary of using the issue for political purposes. Michal Kovac, chairman of the Federal Assembly, said that Hungary is using the issue "to stop the march of Slovakia toward sovereignty." On 24 October, Hungary asked United Nations Secretary-General Boutrous Boutrous-Ghali to "help find means for a peaceful settlement of the debate," MTI reported. The Slovak Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement on 24 October in which it said that the dam dispute is "being needlessly dramatized." (Jiri Pehe) HUNGARIAN PRESIDENT JEERED AT 1956 COMMEMORATION. A hostile crowd consisting mostly of skinheads prevented President Arpad Goncz from delivering an address commemorating the 36th anniversary of the 1956 revolution, MTI reported on October 23. Before Goncz could start speaking, the crowd began to boo and shouted "Down with Goncz," and "Resign." The crowd also called out its support for the government and for Istvan Csurka, the controversial Hungarian Democratic Forum deputy chairman, Western news agencies report. The Prime Minister's Office and the Ministry of the Interior expressed regret over the incident and denied opposition charges that the government and the coalition parties bore responsibility for it. The Ministry of the Interior categorically rejected charges that it had supported or organized the incident. Budapest deputy police chief Janos Lazar argued that the police could not have intervened because under Hungarian law it is not a crime to shout Nazi slogans or wear Nazi symbols. (Edith Oltay) END-GAME APPROACHING FOR BOSNIAN MUSLIMS? International media on 24-25 October reported that Serbian forces in northern Bosnia were moving in on Gradacac, a largely Muslim town defended by Croats and Muslims. Meanwhile in central Bosnia, fighting between Croats and Muslims spread from the Travnik-Vitez area northwest of Sarajevo to Prozor, which is almost due west of the capital. The 25 October Washington Post quoted a local Croatian commander as saying that "this was a war, not a misunderstanding," and the Post charged that Croatian troops "were hunting Muslims" as the anti-Serb marriage of convenience between the two nationalities increasingly seemed to have broken down. Reuters on 25 October reported a rise on Croat-Muslim tensions in Mostar. Muslims fear that the Croats and Serbs have already agreed on a plan to partition Bosnia-Herzegovina between them, leaving the Muslims with a tiny, landlocked state at best. According to this theory, the current Croat attacks on Muslims are an effort to consolidate their positions. (Patrick Moore) MILOSEVIC AGAIN ELECTED AS SOCIALIST PARTY PRESIDENT. Radio Serbia reported on 24 October that Serbia's President Slobodan Milosevic was elected as president of the ruling Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS, formerly the communist party) during the party's two-day congress. Of the 934 delegates, 915 voted for Milosevic, who was the only candidate. Milosevic was SPS president when the party was founded over two years ago, but resigned soon after being elected president of the republic in December 1990. Serbia's constitution does not permit the President of the republic to hold the chairmanship of any political party. Before the party congress, Milosevic said that if re-elected he would not resign as Serbia's president, but would turn his party duties over to general secretary Milomir Minic. He told the congress that the crisis in the country was not the result of developments in Serbia alone, but was largely due to international factors. (Milan Andrejevich) PANIC'S 100 DAYS. On 25 October, Prime Minister of the federal rump Yugoslav government Milan Panic said Milosevic's re-election reminded him of "the best communist traditions." Panic added that if the people still vote for Milosevic and the SPS in December "they deserve what they get." On 24 October Panic held a news conference to distribute a list of 46 achievements from his first 100 days in office. These included his own election, his meetings in Kosovo with ethnic Albanian leaders, and the arrest of paramilitary leaders accused of atrocities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. His major aims-peace in Bosnia and the lifting of UN sanctions-remain unfulfilled. He announced that elections to the federal Chamber of Citizens will be held on 20 December, with elections to the Chamber of Republics to follow within 30 days. Both houses will then elect a President and Prime Minister. Panic is not a candidate for either house, but expressed confidence that the federal assembly would reelect him as prime minister, Radio Serbia reported. (Milan Andrejevich) SUCHOCKA RETURNS FROM ROME. Speaking to journalists in Warsaw after returning from a two-day private visit to Rome, Polish Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka said that Pope John Paul II had expressed confidence that Poland will be a stabilizing factor in Eastern Europe. Suchocka had a 40-minute private audience with the Pope on 23 October. She also met with Italian prime minister Giuliano Amato. Suchocka told reporters that her talks with Amato had helped to ease Italy's qualms about allowing Poland to use the $10 billion stabilization fund provided by Western countries for banking reform. (Louisa Vinton) POLISH ECONOMY SHOWS IMPROVEMENT. At a joint press conference in Warsaw on 23 October, Poland's Main Statistical Office and Central Planning Board presented a cautiously optimistic economic prognosis. Industrial production has risen steadily since April. Production for the first three quarters of 1992 was 1.2% higher than at the same point in 1991; by the end of 1992, it could exceed the 1991 tallies by 2%. This growth was attributed to the creeping devaluation of the zloty, which promotes exports; increased demand for better quality domestic products; and a 10.5% leap in labor productivity. Exports are so far 11.8% higher than in the comparable period of 1991, and Poland posted a third-quarter trade surplus of over $1 billion. Despite these positive trends, national income is still expected to be 2% below 1991 figures, and investment, 3%. The budget deficit is expected to amount to 8.1% of GDP by year's end; unemployment is to rise to 14.7%; and real wages are to drop by 5%. Yearly inflation is forecast at 47% for 1992. (Louisa Vinton) POLISH DEFENSE REFORM MOVES FORWARD. Defense Minister Janusz Onyszkiewicz signed an order on 22 October that restricts the ministry to the civilian role of political oversight over the armed forces and puts the general staff in charge of strictly military matters. This measure, eliminating the dual function performed by the ministry under communism, is designed to make the armed forces immune to political interference. The defense ministry now has three departments: training; strategy; and military infrastructure. Military intelligence and military courts answer directly to the defense minister. President Lech Walesa and Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka addressed a meeting of the officer corps on 22-October. Walesa restated his opposition to legislated lustration of the army and criticized draft evasion. While pledging to increase defense spending as soon as possible, Suchocka expressed doubt that new funds would be available in 1993. (Louisa Vinton) ILIESCU AIDE SUGGESTS OPPOSITION MAY BE INVITED TO FORM CABINET. Romania's Foreign Minister Adrian Nastase, a top aide to President Ion Iliescu, suggested on 24 October that the opposition Democratic Convention might be asked to form the next government if the Democratic National Salvation Front (DNSF) declined to do it. Nastase told Rompres that the DNSF, the party that backed Iliescu's re-election, did not want to rule "at any price" without support from reformist parties. The DNSF emerged from the 27 September elections as the strongest party but failed to win a majority. (Dan Ionescu) ROMANIAN OPPOSITION PLEDGES TO SUPPORT DNSF MINORITY GOVERNMENT. On 25 October four groups belonging to the centrist Democratic Convention (DC) issued jointly with the National Salvation Front (NSF) a statement pledging support for a minority government led by their rival, the Democratic National Salvation Front (DNSF), on the condition that that party continues political and economic reforms. The four DC members are the National Peasant Party-Christian Democratic, the Liberal Alliance, the Party of Civic Alliance, and the Romanian Social-Democratic Party. The statement says that the move is designed to obviate the need for the DNSF to court extremist political groups, which could "push the country to the brink of disaster." (Dan Ionescu) LATVIAN-RUSSIAN TALKS INCONCLUSIVE. A two-day round of Latvian-Russian talks on the withdrawal of Russian troops from Latvia ended inconclusively on 24 October. Russian delegation leader Sergei Zotov told Interfax on 24 October that a wide range of problems had been resolved, suggesting that the Latvian side had acquiesced to most of the Russian demands, including Russian oversight of the Skrunda radar station even after the troops depart. Although a report by the Latvian side is not yet available, the protocol signed by both sides indicates that no breakthrough was achieved on any of the major issues; for example, no accord was reached on the Skrunda radar. Moreover, the Latvian side wants the troops out by 1993, while the Russian side "does not rule out the possibility of pulling out its troops in 1994" if other conditions are met. (Dzintra Bungs) PEOPLE'S FRONT OF LATVIA HOLDS FIFTH CONGRESS. At its fifth congress on 24-25 October in Riga, the People's Front of Latvia adopted new statutes that define the front as a political organization that will field candidates for national and local offices. The People's Front faction in the Supreme Council was criticized for not upholding the PFL program; delegates demanded that the faction no longer use the PFL name. Uldis Augskalns was elected as the new PFL chairman on the second ballot; he defeated Andrejs Rucs. Previous chairman Romualdas Razukas did not run, Radio Riga reported on 25 October. (Dzintra Bungs) BULGARIAN AGRARIAN PARTIES FINALLY TO UNITE? At a meeting of the ruling bodies of BANU-United and BANU-Nikola Petkov on 25 October, both parties approved a protocol confirming that they are to merge, BTA reports. Formal unification will take place at a joint congress, scheduled for 7-and 8 November, which is also to adopt a new party platform and statutes. At the meeting agrarian leaders claimed 95% of the local chapters are already in the process of merging and that this time there is "no going back." During the past three years there have been repeated efforts to reconcile the vehemently anticommunist BANU-Nikola Petkov with its sister party BANU-United, the successor of a communist satellite organization. (Kjell Engelbrekt) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba & Louisa Vinton
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