|The absence of alternatives clears the mind marvelously. - Henry Kissinger|
No. 207, 27 October 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR YELTSIN VERSUS CONGRESS. The last weekend meeting of Russian President Boris Yeltsin with senior ministers at the government dacha in Staro-Ogarevo was not a meeting of the Security Council to select a new prime minister as reported by Russian media but a routine government meeting, Vice Prime Minister Aleksandr Shokhin was quoted by Radio Rossii on 25 October as saying. Shokhin denied that any talks on government personnel changes had been discussed. He stated that the meeting focused on the government's tactics at the forthcoming Congress. He hinted that Yeltsin may organize a referendum concerning the abolition of the Congress--an idea which is being supported by democratic leaders such as Gavriil Popov, Anatolii Sobchak and others. (Alexander Rahr) RUSSIAN TRADE UNION CHALLENGES GOVERNMENT. The chairman of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia, Igor Klochkov, told journalists that 1.5 million people have participated in anti-government demonstrations throughout the country on 24 October. ITAR-TASS quoted him as saying on 26 October that these have been the largest trade union demonstrations in Russia in recent memory. He stressed that the trade unions demand a correction of the government's economic reform policy away from shock therapy. He warned that if the government rejects the demands, the trade unions will press for the creation of a government of national trust. According to Klochkov, the Russian trade unions are being supported by trade unions in other CIS states. (Alexander Rahr) RUSSIAN TROOPS ORDERED TO RETURN FIRE IN ABKHAZIA. Russian troops have been ordered to return fire if they come under attack in Abkhazia, AFP reported on 26 October, quoting a Russian defense ministry spokesman. To date, the Russian defense ministry has insisted that its troops are remaining neutral in the Abkhaz-Georgian conflict. In an interview given to Ostankino TV on 26 October and summarized by ITAR-TASS, Georgian parliament Chairman-elect Eduard Shevardnadze argued in favour of a "civilized solution" to the continued stationing of Russian troops in Georgia. In a Tbilisi Radio address Shevardnadze argued that Georgia still needs Russian troops to guard its borders and to provide anti-aircraft missile defenses. (Liz Fuller) YELTSIN ON REFORMS; BONNER WARNS OF FASCISM. Russian President Boris Yeltsin told a delegation of US financiers that although he may replace some of the present ministers, his strategy of reform remains unchanged and that the main obstacles to reform have been overcome, ITAR-TASS reported on 26 October. The same day, some former Russian human rights activists, including Elena Bonner, criticized the National Salvation Front's struggle for power in an open letter in Izvestiya, warning of the danger of fascism. (Alexander Rahr) BLACK SEA FLEET VESSELS BLOCKADED IN POTI. ITAR-TASS reported on 26 October that ships and sailors of the Black Sea Fleet were being blockaded in the Georgian port of Poti. Tanks have been positioned on the approach to the naval base, while barges have been positioned in the harbor to prevent the departure of naval vessels. Weapons are reportedly being demanded from the sailors. The Black Sea Fleet has been conducting refugee evacuation operations from Abkhazia, moving over 20,000 refugees from the region. (John Lepingwell) TAJIK GOVERNMENT AGAIN CONTROLS DUSHANBE. On 26 October the government of Tajikistan regained control of the capital, according to domestic and Russian news agencies, and armed forces from Kulyab Oblast had left Dushanbe, escorted out of the city by Russian armored vehicles. The fighters from Kulyab had tried to overthrow the government during two days of fighting in Dushanbe that caused considerable damage to the city and paralyzed public services and retail trade. The number of casualties is unknown, but Western correspondents in Dushanbe report a number of bodies lying in the streets. Occasional gunfire could still be heard in the city, according to various reports. Acting President Akbarsho Iskandarov, encountered by a Reuters correspondent as he surveyed the wreckage of the Supreme Soviet chamber, said that the Kulyab forces were regrouping in Tursunzade near the Uzbek border. (Bess Brown) DISPUTE OVER BLACK SEA FLEET APPOINTMENTS. The command of the Black Sea Fleet has rejected Ukrainian Defense Minister Morozov's complaint that its chief of staff, Vice Admiral Petr Svyatashov, had been improperly appointed. According to an ITAR-TASS report of 26 October, the Black Sea Fleet claims it is under the joint command of the Russian and Ukrainian presidents, and therefore the Ukrainian minister of defense should not interfere in the direction of the fleet. The statement did not indicate whether the decision to appoint Svyatashov was coordinated between the presidents. ITAR-TASS reported on 27 October that Admiral Kasatonov in an interview with Krasnaya zvezda had called for maintaining a strong Russian Navy and stated that Russian and Ukrainian interests in the Black Sea coincided rather than conflicted. (John Lepingwell) KHASBULATOV BACK AT WORK. Parliamentary speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov recovered from his collapse last week and chaired a meeting of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, ITAR-TASS reported on 26 October. He rejected congressional plans to oust the government, noting that, according to the Constitution, parliament can pass a vote of no confidence against the government without convening a Congress. He also stated that the Congress should adopt a basic law on land ownership which would end accusations that the parliament was against private land ownership. He emphasized that he personally was in favor of convening the Congress next year, but since parliament had decided differently, everyone must obey. (Alexander Rahr) RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS PROPOSAL TO ACCELERATE WORK ON NEW CONSTITUTION. On 23 October the Russian parliament rejected a proposal to speed up work on the draft of the new Russian constitution to have it ready by the opening of the 7th Congress of People's Deputies on 1 December, ITAR-TASS reported. Nikolai Ryabov, the chairman of the Council of the Republic, who put forward the proposal, argued that, if the draft was not ready, the integrity of the Russian Federation would be threatened inasmuch as the majority of the republics of the Russian Federation are likely to adopt new constitutions before the end of the year and they will not be based on the new Russian constitution, which will create a very complicated legal situation. (Ann Sheehy) RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT RATIFIES AGREEMENT ON STATUS OF CIS ECONOMIC COURT. On 23 October the Russian parliament ratified the agreement on the status of the CIS Economic Court, signed in Moscow in June by the heads of state of Armenia, Belorussia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, ITAR-TASS reported. Each signatory state is to appoint or elect two judges for ten years. The chairman of the court and his deputy will be elected by the court's judges and approved by the Council of the CIS Heads of State. The economic court, which will adjudicate disputes between enterprises in different CIS states, is one of the five coordinating bodies called for by Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbaev. (Ann Sheehy) DELAY SOUGHT IN REPAYMENT OF RUSSIAN FOREIGN DEBT. The Russian Foreign Economic Relations Minister Petr Aven told Interfax on 26 October that Russia will seek a two month delay in this year's payments on its foreign debt. The proposal will be made at the 28 October meeting of the Paris Club of Western creditor-nations. Aven said that Russia will seek the short-term postponement because creditor-nations "are not ready" to make "a final decision with respect to a ten or fifteen year delay of the Russian debt" in the near future. Aven thought that Russia will be able to repay $2.5-3 billion in 1993. (Roughly the same amount will be repaid this year, against a non-deferred due amount of about $10 billion). (Keith Bush) RUSSIA AND KAZAKHSTAN SIGN ECONOMIC PROTOCOL. The Prime Ministers of Russia and Kazakhstan, Egor Gaidar and Sergei Tereshchenko, on 22 October signed economic agreements concerning debt settlement and coordination of economic policies, Interfax reported. The central bank chairmen of the two countries were also present at the signing in Moscow. The protocol included measures for rapidly reducing mutual enterprise debts (Kazakh enterprises owe Russian enterprises about 75 billion rubles, Russian enterprises owe Kazakhstan about 150 billion rubles) as well as creating a special bilateral committee to help coordinate interest rate, credit emission, trade, taxation and state spending policies. (Erik Whitlock) ELECTIONS FAIL TO TAKE PLACE IN KARACHAEVO-CHERKESIA. The elections that were to have been held in Karachaevo-Cherkesia on 25 October did not take place, ITAR-TASS reported. Voters were supposed to elect deputies to the new republican bodies to be set up as a result of the transformation of the territory from an oblast into a republic, but the various nationalities inhabiting the republic have been unable to agree on what the structure of the new institutions should be. It has been suggested that the oblast soviet of deputies, elected at the last election, be allowed to function until 1995 as the republic's supreme soviet. (Ann Sheehy) PRESENTATION OF NEW UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT. The newly-chosen Ukrainian prime minister, Leonid Kuchma, is scheduled to present his choices to the Ukrainian parliament for consideration on 27 October. During the past week Kuchma has been holding talks with various political parties concerning the composition of the new government. Thus far, only two former cabinet ministers, Minister of Defense Konstantin Morozov and Minister of Foreign Affairs Anatolii Zlenko, can rest assured that they will retain their jobs. The formation of the new Ukrainian government is taking place against a backdrop of disarray within the camp of the reformist opposition and growing popular dissatisfaction with the economic situation, particularly price increases. (Roman Solchanyk) SCHEDULE FOR PULLOUT OF RUSSIAN MISSILES FROM BELARUS. Interfax reported on 26 October that a schedule had been drawn up and approved for the withdrawal of nuclear-armed strategic missiles from Belarus to Russia. It calls for the pullout of eight missile brigades in 1993 and the remaining eight in 1994. By the end of that year, Belarus will be free of nuclear weapons. The last command and support sub-unit will leave for Russia in June 1995. (As of 1 September 1990 there were 54 mobile SS-25 missiles based at Mozyr and Lida in Belarus. Subsequently, additional missiles were deployed, bringing the total to 81.) (Doug Clarke) BELARUS TO RECALL TROOPS. The Belarusian government has called for all citizens of Belarus serving in the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Baltic states to return to Belarus by 1 January 1993, according to an ITAR-TASS report of 26 October. Apparently, troops located in Russia and Ukraine will remain with their units. (John Lepingwell) RUSSIAN SPACE ROCKET BUILDER SIGNS US DEAL. NPO Energomash, the builder of rocket engines that have placed all Soviet space vehicles and payloads in orbit since the 1957 Sputnik launch, signed an agreement on 26 October with the American firm Pratt & Whitney Space Propulsion. According to a U.S. Information Agency report, the deal provides Pratt & Whitney with exclusive U.S. rights to market the Russian firm's rocket engines and other technology. The American company is particularly interested in the giant RD-170 rocket engine, capable of delivering over 734,000 kilograms of thrust and considered to be the most powerful liquid-fueling rocket engine in the world. An official of Pratt & Whitney said that the company might eventually manufacture the RD170 in the United States under license. (Doug Clarke) AKAEV FEARS TENSIONS IN SOUTHERN KYRGYZSTAN. Kyrgyzstan's President Askar Akaev met with demonstrators in Dzhalal-Abad in southern Tajikistan on 26 October, Interfax reported, to try to defuse tensions that he said could lead to a Tajikistan-style civil war in the region. The demonstrators, supporters of Dzhalal-Abad oblast administration chief Bekmamet Osmanov, were protesting the Kyrgyz government's decision to monitor the activities of the Dzhalal-Abad oblast administration in Osmanov's absence. Akaev intended to discuss the situation in Dzhalal-Abad Oblast with both supporters and opponents of Osmanov. The report gives no indication whether interethnic tensions are involved, but Dzhalal-Abad is located in the Fergana Valley, the site of bloody fighting between local Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in 1990. (Bess Brown) MOLDOVAN-UKRAINIAN TREATY. The Presidents of Moldova and Ukraine, Mircea Snegur and Leonid Kravchuk, met in Chisinau on 23 October to sign a "treaty of good neighborliness, friendship and cooperation." It provides for the observance of the rights of Moldovans in Ukraine and of Ukrainians in Moldova in accordance with internationally recognized standards; expanded cooperation in the fields of education and culture; bilateral coordination of customs procedures; transit facilities across Moldova for Ukraine's western trade and across Ukraine for Moldova's eastern trade; and the prohibition of the formation and transit of armed groups hostile to one of the sides on the territory of the other. The latter two provisions clearly benefit Moldova, 80% of whose foreign trade moves across Ukraine, and which contends with irregular Russian armed groups crossing Ukraine from Russia to fight on the Dniester. (Vladimir Socor) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE MORE LITHUANIAN ELECTION RESULTS. Preliminary results of the Seimas elections on 25 October indicate that five groups captured the 70 seats allocated proportionally, Radio Lithuania reports. The Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party (LDLP), the successor to the Lithuanian Communist Party, won 44.7% of the vote; Sajudis - 19.8%; the three-party Christian Democratic coalition - 11.6%; the Social-Democratic Party (LSDP) - 5.9%; and the Union of Poles (UP)2.3%. Only 14 of the 71 contests for seats in single-mandate districts were decided on 25 October; 11 of these went to the LDLP. The fate of the rest of the single-mandate districts will be determined in the second round of the elections, to be held on 8 November. (Saulius Girnius) BRAZAUSKAS CALLS FOR BROAD COALITION IN LITHUANIA. At a press conference on 25 October, chairman of the Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party Algirdas Brazauskas urged all political forces in the future Seimas to form "a broad coalition in the name of civil concord and prosperity in Lithuania," Radio Lithuania reports. He said that relations with Russia should be normalized, with adjustments on economic matters and trade, but added that he will continue to demand both the complete withdrawal of Russian troops from Lithuania and compensation for the damages they inflicted. (Saulius Girnius) CZECHS AND SLOVAKS AGREE ON CUSTOMS UNION, COMMON CURRENCY. On 26 October Czech and Slovak leaders, meeting in Javorina, Slovakia, agreed on a customs union between the Czech and Slovak republics after Czechoslovakia splits on 1 January 1993. Under the terms of the agreement, there will be duty-free exchange of goods and services between the Czech Republic and Slovakia and the two states will have common trade and customs policies toward third countries. A joint council and a permanent secretariat will coordinate these policies. The two sides also reached agreement on retaining a common currency. CSTK reports Slovak Premier Vladimir Meciar as saying that the Czechoslovak koruna will remain the common currency indefinitely, but that either side could pull out of the arrangement at any time. Meciar also said that he and Czech Premier Vaclav Klaus had decided against a "common citizenship." The status of Czechs in Slovakia and Slovaks in the Czech Republic will be decided by the two republics' parliaments. Czech and Slovak leaders also approved draft laws on the abolition of federal laws and federal institutions. The federal government approved these drafts the same day and submitted them to the Federal Assembly. (Jiri Pehe) MORE ON MASS GRAVE NEAR VUKOVAR. The 27 October Los Angeles Times says that a mass grave found near Vukovar appears to contain the remains of over 170 Croatian soldiers. The paper quotes Clyde Snow, a US forensic anthropologist working with the UN human rights investigation team headed by former Polish Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki, as saying that three more months of investigations will be needed. The wounded men were reportedly taken by Yugoslav army soldiers and Serbian irregulars from the Vukovar hospital following that strategic town's fall last November. Witnesses claim that the men were beaten and killed by their abductors. (Patrick Moore) US TO TAKE 1,000 BOSNIANS. Major US dailies report on 27 October that the State Department announced the previous day that Washington has agreed to allow 1,000 Bosnian camp inmates to immigrate. The US had sought to keep the refugees as close to Bosnia as possible to permit their eventual easy return home, but international aid agencies have been urging Washington to take some former camp inmates to help speed up emptying the camps. Over 10,000 inmates are awaiting resettlement. Some two million people have been displaced in the Yugoslav conflict, and the lives of up to 400,000 people may be at stake in the upcoming harsh Bosnian winter. (Patrick Moore) BOSNIAN TOWN REPORTED WIPED OFF THE MAP. Radios Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia reported on 26 October that the predominantly Muslim town of Prozor was wiped off the map by forces of the Croatian Defense Council (HVO) during an attack on 24 October. A statement released by the Bosnian Army command in Sarajevo said "Prozor no longer exists." There has been no independent confirmation of the report, however. The Bosnian presidency has refused comment, fearing a chain reaction in other villages where tension between Croats and Muslims is running high. Radio Croatia reports on 26 October that key Muslim leaders and the army are on the verge of breaking with Bosnia's President Alija Izetbegovic, on the grounds that his policy of maintaining a close alliance with Croatia has failed to benefit Muslim interests. (Milan Andrejevich) TENSIONS RUNNING HIGH IN THE SANDZAK. Tensions are also rising in the Sandzak in southwest Serbia after the abduction on 22 October of some 20 Muslims traveling from Bosnia to their jobs in the town of Priboj. Unconfirmed reports say the Muslims were executed near Priboj. Rump Yugoslavia's Prime Minister Milan Panic ordered an investigation on 26 October and said that every effort will be made to reduce tension. Panic and cabinet members also met with military officials and ordered increased border patrols in the Priboj region along the border with Bosnia-Herzegovina. Sandzak Muslim leaders urged local residents to remain calm. Radio Serbia carried the reports. Muslims have been complaining of provocations and other incidents since the summer, and about 60,000 of them have moved from mixed areas to largely Muslim areas as a result. (Milan Andrejevich) CZECHOSLOVAK GOVERNMENT UNABLE TO AGREE ON GABCIKOVO. Meeting in the early hours of 27 October, the Czechoslovak federal government failed to reach agreement on stopping work on the controversial Gabcikovo hydroelectrical dam project. Speaking to reporters in Prague, Federal Premier Jan Strasky said that "the Slovak ministers were against stopping work at Gabcikovo." Deputy Prime Minister Miroslav Macek said that the Czech ministers had demanded that "the damming of the Danube be stopped immediately," which would create conditions for a special EC commission to evaluate the project and for further negotiations. According to Macek, the Slovak ministers insisted that the damming of the Danube, which began on 24 October, must continue so that shipping on the river can be renewed on 3 November. (Jiri Pehe) HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENTARY DEBATE ON GONCZ INCIDENT. Hungarian deputies debated at the 26 October parliamentary session the demonstration that prevented President Arpad Goncz from delivering his address at the commemoration of the 1956 revolution on 23 October, MTI reports. Opposition parties called for an ad hoc committee to investigate the incident. Sandor Olah, a member of the Smallholder deputies in the governing coalition, said that Nazi symbols had surfaced for the first time at an official celebration organized by the interior ministry and urged the interior minister to draw the consequences and resign. Prime Minister Jozsef Antall rejected charges that his government was in any way responsible for the incident and said no investigation was necessary. Several Hungarian Democratic Forum deputies, including parliamentary caucus leader Imre Konya, said that the major reason for the incident was that Goncz opened himself to criticism by getting involved in everyday politics. (Edith Oltay) DEADLOCK REPORTED IN ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT TALKS. Petre Roman, National Salvation Front (NSF) leader and Romania's former prime minister, suggested on 26 October that political leaders had reached an impasse in efforts to form a government. He accused President Ion Iliescu and his Democratic National Salvation Front (DNSF) of continuing a campaign of calumnies against his party. The DNSF, which broke away from the NSF in March-April, is generally seen as opposing radical reforms. In a statement broadcast by Radio Bucharest, DNSF deputy leader Adrian Nastase said that his party might withdraw from the race to form a new cabinet and join the opposition instead. Neither the DNSF, which failed to win a majority in recent elections, nor the opposition seems eager to govern during what is likely to be a difficult winter. (Dan Ionescu) TENSION OVER ETHNIC AUTONOMY IN ROMANIA. Radio Bucharest broadcast on 26 October excerpts from a statement adopted the previous day by the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania (HDUR) at a conference in Cluj-Napoca. The statement, which insisted that ethnic Hungarians "neither want to emigrate nor be assimilated into the Romanian nation," demanded "self-administration" for Hungarian communities. It also said that "autonomy for ethnic and religious communities" is part of Transylvania's political tradition. The extreme nationalist Greater Romania Party warned in a communique of possible ethnic strife following the HDUR declaration, which it described as "an irresponsible attack on the country's Constitution." (Dan Ionescu) LATVIAN FOREIGN MINISTER RESIGNS. Latvia's Minister of Foreign Affairs Janis Jurkans has resigned, according to an RFE/RL correspondent's report on 27 October. Jurkans had been widely criticized by members of the Latvian Supreme Council. He survived a parliamentary vote of confidence last week after legislators evaluated the performance of the government of Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis. (Dzintra Bungs) DANISH LEADER OFFERS ASSISTANCE FOR TROOP WITHDRAWAL. While discussing the Russian troop withdrawal from the Baltic States, Danish Foreign Minister Uffe Ellemann-Jensen told his Russian counterpart Andrei Kozyrev that Denmark had worked vigorously to establish an international fund to finance the construction of military housing in Russia, Interfax reported on 26 October. Ellemann-Jensen said that the efforts had led nowhere so far and his country had thus decided on a unilateral initiative to expand housing in Russia using Danish funds. Kozyrev endorsed this idea. (Dzintra Bungs) KOZYREV LINKS HUMAN RIGHTS WITH TROOP WITHDRAWAL. Kozyrev also told the Danish Foreign Minister that the issues of Russian troop withdrawal from the Baltic States and the rights of Russian speakers in the Baltics are interrelated. When asked how far Moscow would go to protect Russian speakers in the former USSR republics, Kozyrev said: "We are prepared to resort to the most far-reaching, tough, radical measures, but within the framework of international law." He did not rule out the possibility of using force "for the purpose of ceasefire and other peacekeeping functions in the areas of armed conflicts," but not for the purpose of "ethnic cleansing." Kozyrev stressed that Russia "is categorically against the Yugoslav version," Interfax reported on 26 October. (Dzintra Bungs) SALVATION FRONT PLANS ACTIONS IN THE BALTIC STATES. The program of the newly formed National Salvation Front in Russia includes actions in the Baltic States, according to BNS and Interfax reports of 24 and 26 October. The organization has announced plans to visit Russian army garrisons in the Baltic States in the period 20-30 November for the purpose of securing the rights of the troops and their families. Among the leaders of the Salvation Front are Col. Viktor Alksnis and Russian TV journalist Aleksandr Nevzorov. (Dzintra Bungs) BULGARIA TO LAUNCH LARGE-SCALE PRIVATIZATION. According to a detailed plan distributed to the media on 26 October, the Bulgarian government aims to begin the privatization of at least 92 companies before the end of the year. The Agency on Privatization, which prepared the plan, is to deal with eleven companies worth more than 10 million leva. While the agency has attributed first priority to companies involved in industry and agriculture, it is advising municipalities to concentrate on sectors such as building, trade, services, transport, and communications. Although political differences have delayed large-scale privatization, the government has in the meantime managed to spread ownership through its policy of restoring property rights to precommunist owners. (Kjell Engelbrekt) POLAND COURTS WESTERN INVESTMENT. A three-day forum designed to promote Western investment in Poland, sponsored by the Polish government and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, opened in Warsaw on 26 October. President Lech Walesa, the forum's honorary chairman, said that without foreign capital Poland's economic transformation would take a hundred years. Deputy Prime Minister Henryk Goryszewski pledged that Poland will remain friendly to investors, despite public fears of foreign domination. An opinion poll published in Rzeczpospolita on 26 October showed that 44% of respondents feel there is too little foreign investment in Poland; 25% think the level is just right; and only 20% believe that there is too much. However, 51% of respondents said they would oppose the sale of their own work place to a foreign investor. (Louisa Vinton) WORLD BANK OPENS BUDAPEST OFFICE. The World Bank opened a new office for the East Central European region in Budapest on 26 October, MTI reports. Finance Minister Mihaly Kupa said at the inauguration ceremony that the presence of the office will facilitate the Hungarian government's goal of turning Budapest into the region's financial center. Kemal Dervis, the director of the World Bank's East Central European department, told Radio Budapest that the World Bank is concerned about Hungary's large budget deficit and hopes that the government will take resolute measures to reduce it. (Edith Oltay) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba & Louisa Vinton
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