|Life is what happens to us while we're making other plans. - John Lennon|
No. 209, 29 October 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR YELTSIN DECREES BAN OF HARDLINE OPPOSITION. Russian President Boris Yeltsin has issued decrees banning the National Salvation Front and the parliamentary guards, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 October. The parliamentary Committee for Mass Media, which is staffed chiefly by Yeltsin supporters, also recommended that the nationalistic group, Pamyat, be banned on the grounds that it, like the Front, violates the constitution. Yeltsin also told the Russian TV program "Vesti" on 27 October that all democrats who support the president should unite to fight hardliners at the upcoming Congress. He said that there was still a chance that despite parliament's decision to hold the Congress in December, it might be postponed until spring 1993. (Alexander Rahr) RUSSIAN REFORMERS ON PRESIDENTIAL RULE. A number of prominent Russian liberals (supporters of a rapid transition towards a market economy), such as the former mayor of Moscow and leader of the Russian Movement for Democratic Reforms, Gavriil Popov, and the governor of Sakhalin, Valentin Fedorov, have openly demanded the introduction of presidential rule throughout the country along with a temporary suspension of parliament, arguing that Russia is in political deadlock, Kommersant reported on 27-October. Another liberal, Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Shokhin, said, according to ITAR-TASS on the same day, that he would support authoritarian rule if all democratic means to stabilize the situation were exhausted. Shokhin welcomed Yeltsin's decision to ban the National Salvation Front. (Alexander Rahr) CENTRISTS REJECT IDEA OF PRESIDENTIAL RULE. Presidential advisor Sergei Stankevich, who recently argued for a government takeover of the Civic Union, rejected the notion that presidential rule should be introduced, and spoke out in favor of preserving parliament in an interview with Rossiiskie vesti on 27 October. Centrist parties, including Vice-President Aleksandr Rutskoi's Party of "Free Russia," also voiced their opposition to an introduction of presidential rule, and accused President Yeltsin's liberal advisors, such as Gennadii Burbulis, of pushing the president toward such action, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 October. The economist Grigorii Yavlinsky urged Yeltsin not to let himself be pushed into taking anti-constitutional actions. (Alexander Rahr) MINISTRY OF SECURITY SUPPORTS YELTSIN. The collegium of the Russian Security Ministry (the former KGB) met for an extended session to discuss the worsening situation in Russia, Interfax reported on 27 October. The ministry issued a statement warning of the danger represented by the "appearance of anti-constitutional structures which endanger the rebirth of the Russian state." The statement was clearly alluding to the danger posed by the recent establishment of the National Salvation Front, which President Boris Yeltsin is attempting to ban. In his speech at the Foreign Ministry, broadcast by ITAR-TASS on 27 October, Yeltsin praised the analyses of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service and said they were more informative than those reports sent to him by the Foreign Ministry. (Alexander Rahr) KHASBULATOV ABSENT IN OFFICIAL TALKS ON GUARD. The ban of the parliamentary guard has been discussed at a meeting in the offices of first deputy parliamentary speaker Sergei Filatov, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 October. President Yeltsin also called Filatov (an opponent of Khasbulatov) and invited him to discuss the matter. The head of the parliamentary Committee for Defense and Security, Sergei Stepashin, stated that the issue has to be settled by the parliament itself. It is noteworthy that Yeltsin called Filatov rather than Khasbulatov to discuss Khasbulatov's guard, and that Filatov was chairing the meeting to discuss the guard without Khasbulatov's attendance. (Alexander Rahr) GUARD COMMANDER PLEDGES CONTINUED LOYALTY TO KHASBULATOV. Interfax quoted the commander of the guard, Ivan Boiko, as saying that he will obey the orders only of speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov and that he will ignore Yeltsin's decree. Rossiiskaya gazeta on 29 October called the ban "perplexing," because the guard supported Yeltsin during the putsch last year. (Alexander Rahr) PARIS CLUB TO RESCHEDULE FORMER SOVIET DEBTS? Representatives of eighteen Western creditor-nations met with Russian and Ukrainian officials in Paris on 28 October to discuss the repayment of the convertible currency debts of the former Soviet Union, Reuters reported. After the meeting, the French Finance Ministry announced that "the creditor-countries expressed their readiness to consider rapidly...a rescheduling of the obligations due to them up to the end of 1993...linked to an appropriate upper credit tranche arrangement of the Russian Federation with the IMF....Both sides expressed their expectation that it would be possible to agree on a rescheduling before the end of November." (Keith Bush) BUT THE IMF MUST WAIT ON RUSSIA. On 27-October, Aleksei Mozhin, the head of the department for relations with international financial institutions in the Russian government, suggested that the next round of talks between Russia and the IMF, scheduled for 10 November, would probably be postponed until 1993. The Financial Times of 28 October quoted Mozhin as saying that "normally we would have a timetable fixed for negotiations with the Fund-but the political uncertainties in the country now make it impossible." An IMF official in Washington told an RFE/RL correspondent "It's up to them. Until they send us a signal they have their program together, there is not an awful lot we can do." (Keith Bush &-Robert Lyle) RUSSIAN ENERGY EXPORTS TO CIS TO BE CUT? Russian First Deputy Premier Vladimir Shumeiko has said that energy supplies to other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States may be reduced by 60-63% in 1993, Interfax reported. He justified this on the grounds that the former Soviet republics and East European countries were reexporting Russian fuel and raw materials. As an example, he named Hungary which, he claimed, had earned $1 billion this year by reexporting Russian oil, fertilizers, and metals. It is thought that Russia has recently cut back on oil supplies to CIS members who were in arrears. (Keith Bush) RUSSIAN INFLATION HIGHEST SINCE JANUARY. Retail prices grew by 6.4% the third week of October, according to Goskomstat figures carried in Izvestiya on 27 October. The monthly rate is expected to be at least 25%, which is the highest since immediately after January's price liberalization. Official monthly retail price growth had been settling down to 10% in the summer before turning up again in September. Monthly inflation in food prices, for example, was up from 8-10% between May and August, to 17% in September (Ekonomika i zhyzn, #42). Among the factors contributing to the rise of retail price inflation are the loosening monetary and fiscal policy (beginning late spring) and the increases in prices for grain (in mid-August) and energy-carriers (in mid-September). (Erik Whitlock) OFFICIAL SAYS NO NUCLEAR WEAPONS BRAIN-DRAIN. Gennadi Evstafiev, chief of a newly created division of the Russian intelligence service responsible for arms control and non-proliferation, told a Moscow briefing on 28 October that the threat of Russian nuclear experts leaving the country is "virtually nonexistent." Interfax reported that Evstafiev said that only about 1,500 people were engaged in nuclear arms development, and "nuclear secrets" were known by only "a few dozen people," all living in so-called closed towns. These numbers appear significantly lower than previous estimates. He described them as "honorable people" and "patriots" who were aware of their responsibilities. The new division will carefully monitor the development of nuclear weapons capabilities in neighboring countries, as well as prevent attempts to export controlled materials. (Doug Clarke & John Lepingwell) RUSSIAN DRAFT TO BE EXTENDED TO STUDENTS? The National Council of Russian Youth Organizations protested on 28 October that the Russian Defense Ministry is preparing a decree for President Yeltsin that would abolish draft deferrals for students. At present, university students are not drafted, but an increase in draft-dodging and deferrals for health reasons are creating personnel shortfalls of up to 40% in the military. The Ministry of Defense confirmed that a decree was being prepared and noted that removing the deferral would increase the draft pool by 100,000 men. The story was reported by ITAR-TASS on 28 October. (John Lepingwell) NEW GREENPEACE PROTEST IN RUSSIA. A Greenpeace spokesman in Moscow revealed on 28-October that two Russian warships were preventing the environmental organization's vessel "Rainbow Warrior" entering Postovaya Bay on the Pacific coast, the site of a naval base where decommissioned nuclear submarines are moored. Interfax quoted Greenpeace as saying that four retired boats, each with two nuclear reactors, were at the base-which is located within 300 meters of peoples' homes. It charged the submarines were an environmental hazard. According to the news agency, after the Greenpeace announcement, the commander of the Russian Pacific Fleet promised to remove one submarine from the base this year and the remaining three in 1993. (Doug Clarke) SOME IN UKRAINE WANT NUCLEAR WEAPONS. Ukrainian Defense Minister Konstantin Morozov presented a draft concept of the republic's military doctrine to the Ukrainian parliament on 28 October. According to the Interfax account of the debate, several deputies criticized provisions in the draft which renounced nuclear weapons. Morozov stated that Ukraine had wanted to get rid of all the ex-Soviet strategic weapons on its soil by the end of 1994, but had received none of the foreign assistance required. Accordingly, he reported that Ukraine "made corrections in our course of actions" and joined the START agreement-which has a seven-year elimination deadline. Morozov also revealed that the Ukrainian armed forces would include a detachment of "rocket-space" troops. (Doug Clarke) KRAVCHUK TO CHINA. Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk leaves for China on 29 October for talks that are expected to focus on China's experience in developing market mechanisms in a state-dominated economy, Reuters reported. The two sides may also discuss the sale of military equipment, according to the report. This is the first visit to China by a Ukrainian leader. (Roman Solchanyk) BLOCKADE OF BLACK SEA FLEET LIFTED. On 27 October the blockade of Black Sea Fleet vessels stationed in Poti was lifted according to an ITAR-TASS report of 28 October. The report also stated that Abkhazian parliamentarians had expressed concern over the lifting of the blockade, because they fear the ships will be transferred to Georgia for use against Abkhazia. Interfax reported on 28 October, however, that the deputy commander of the Georgian Navy, Guram Pirveli, denied Georgian responsibility for the blockade. The ships are now engaged in evacuating Russian naval personnel and dependents from Poti. (John Lepingwell) GEORGIAN ELECTION RESULTS. The final results of the Georgian parliamentary elections of 11 October were published in Tbilisi on 27 October, Interfax reported. Four political blocs and twenty parties are now represented in parliament. The Mshvidoba (Peace) bloc won the greatest number of seats with twenty-nine; its membership is comprised of seven parties, including former communist party representatives, members of the intelligentsia, some monarchists, and others. The October 11 bloc placed second with eighteen seats; its membership includes the National Front, the Republican Party, the Christian Democratic Party, and the Organization "Democratic Election for Georgia." Georgian elections did not take place in nine constituencies in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Western Georgia. (Hal Kosiba) CASPIAN FLOTILLA OUT OF AZERBAIJAN. The chief of staff of the Caspian Flotilla told ITAR-TASS on 28 October that the main combat units of the flotilla had been withdrawn from Azerbaijan. Captain Yurii Startsev said that only one warship and twenty ships support would remain at the flotilla's former headquarters in Baku. At one time the flotilla consisted of some sixty warships. Early the this year decision was taken to split the flotilla among the four republics bordering the Caspian Sea: Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan. In August, the Russians announced that the headquarters of the flotilla would be moved to Astrakhan. (Doug Clarke) UZBEK HELP SOUGHT IN TAJIK CONFLICT. Tajikistan's Interim Prime Minister Abdumalik Abdullozhanov met with deputies of Uzbek President Islam Karimov on 28 October to ask that Uzbekistan close its border with Tajikistan in order to prevent anti-government Tajik forces from escaping into Uzbekistan, Abdullozhanov told a Reuters correspondent. The Uzbek representatives agreed to raise the issue with Karimov, he said; an Uzbek delegation is to be sent to Dushanbe to discuss economic assistance. (Bess Brown) NABIEV CHAIRS MEETING; MORE RUSSIAN TROOPS TO DUSHANBE? In the northern Tajik city of Khuzhand, Tajikistan's deposed President Rakhman Nabiev chaired a meeting of anti-government supreme soviet deputies from Kulyab, who demanded the convocation of a session of the legislature, Interfax reported on 28 October. The meeting ended after news arrived of the murder by unknown gunmen of the chairman of the Kulyab Oblast soviet executive committee, Dzhumakhon Rizoev. The same source quoted the deputy commander of Russia's land forces, Eduard Vorobev, as saying that units of the Russian division stationed in Tajikistan might be transferred to Dushanbe to give the Tajik government the force it lacks to ensure stability in the city. Russian forces are already guarding important buildings in Dushanbe. (Bess Brown) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT RESIGNS. Early on 29-October, following defeat in a confidence vote in the National Assembly, Prime Minister Filip Dimitrov announced his cabinet's resignation, Bulgarian and Western agencies report. The Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) government, Bulgaria's first communist-free government since 1944, was brought down by a coalition of the Bulgarian Socialist Party and Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF). The vote was 120 to 111. The UDF government's requested a confidence vote last week, after nearly three months of intense political turmoil. The cabinet had been accused of not doing enough for the country's economy, of going too far with its anticommunist stance, and of neglecting national security interests by considering a possible arms deal with Macedonia. Reuters quoted a Western diplomat as saying that the resignation was "a step backwards" in the reform process. Although the UDF is likely to be asked to form a new government, it is unclear whether the coalition is prepared to make major concessions to the MRF, its former political partner. If not, the current political crisis might lead to new elections. (Kjell Engelbrekt) BOSNIAN SERBS REJECT VANCE-OWEN PLAN. AFP reported on 28 October that Bosnian Serbian leaders said that the constitutional program drafted by international mediators is unacceptable because it sets up autonomous regions chiefly on geographic and economic criteria and not on an ethnic basis. Reuters said that the plan provides for up to 10 regions, which would control their own affairs except for foreign policy, defense, and foreign trade; these would remain with the central authorities. The regions would have their own police forces, but other armed militias would be banned, and there would be only one Bosnian citizenship. The mediators said that the international community would not accept ethnically-based cantons set up by force. Ethnic Serbs constitute only one-third of the republic's population but have seized over two-thirds of its territory in the course of the year. (Patrick Moore) MAZOWIECKI SAYS MUSLIMS "VIRTUALLY THREATENED WITH EXTERMINATION." The 29-October Los Angeles Times quotes a new report by special UN envoy and former Polish Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki on the worsening human rights situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina. He says that the Serbs' policy of "ethnic cleansing does not appear to be the consequence of the war but rather its goal." Mazowiecki adds that "this goal, to a large extent, has already been achieved through killings, beatings, rape, destruction of houses, and threats." He calls for outsiders to take urgent action before winter sets in. Reuters on 28 October said that France and Germany plan to build "villages" in Bosnia for refugees. About 10,000 people are waiting to be freed from detention camps but have nowhere to go, an RFE/RL correspondent noted. French UN troops will guard the new settlements, but earlier plans to set up "safe havens" were criticized as providing potential magnets for ethnic cleansing. Finally, the Los Angeles Times article quotes forensic pathologists as saying that they now put the number of suspected mass graves near the Serb-held Croatian town of Vukovar at at least four. (Patrick Moore) SERBIAN AIRCRAFT UNDER UN CONTROL? The BBC on 29 October reports that UN negotiators and Bosnian Serb officials have reached an agreement to place the Serb aircraft at Banja Luka under UN observation there. The Serbs had previously promised to transfer the planes and helicopters to Serbia, but then claimed this was too costly and impractical. On 27 October Croatian media reported that the Serbs were using the aircraft to attack Jajce in violation of the UN ban on such flights. Lord Owen on 28 October told Western agencies that the Serbs had indeed used helicopters, but no planes. It is not yet clear whether UN control over the aircraft will be unconditional or whether the Serbs will reserve the right to use them under certain circumstances, as they have with artillery they have registered with the UN in Sarajevo. (Patrick Moore) "VISEGRAD TRIANGLE" LEADERS MEET EC OFFICIALS. Hungarian Prime Minister Jozsef Antall, Polish Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka, Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus, Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, and Czechoslovak Deputy Prime Minister Antonin Baudys met with EC officials in London on 28 October to discuss criteria for their countries' full membership in the EC. International media report that EC leaders, including EC Executive President Jacques Delors and British Prime Minister John Major, whose country now holds the EC presidency, promised to provide the information after the EC summit in Edinburgh in December. Major said that an exact timetable for the three countries' membership cannot be set; the three must wait until they are economically prepared to join. A joint statement issued after the meeting spoke of "a common commitment to democracy and human rights, market economics, and liberal trade." It also cited the need "to make up for lost opportunities since World War II." The Polish daily Rzeczpospolita summed up the summit with the headline, "Lots of Words, Few Hard Facts." (Jiri Pehe) CZECHOSLOVAKIA AND HUNGARY NEAR COMPROMISE ON GABCIKOVO? Reuter reported on 28-October that Hungarian and Czechoslovak officials, meeting during the London summit, had agreed in principle on a four-point plan as the basis for settling their dispute over the Gabcikovo hydroelectric dam project on the Danube. Hungarian Secretary of State Janos Martonyi told reporters that the four points include an immediate halt to work on the dam by Czechoslovakia; the acceptance of binding international arbitration; a commitment to maintain the normal volume of water in the river; and the creation a small group to examine the immediate consequences of the Danube's damming. British Prime Minister John Major told reporters that he was optimistic a settlement would be reached. CSTK reported on 28 October that the dam had been generating some 40-megawatts of power per hour since 26 October. (Jiri Pehe) LAST COMBAT TROOPS LEAVE POLAND. With the departure of four Russian torpedo boats from the Baltic port of Swinoujscie, the last former Soviet combat troops left Poland on 28 October. The Russians were eighteen days ahead of schedule; the Polish-Russian agreement signed in Moscow in May stipulated that all combat troops leave Polish soil by 15-November. Some 6,000 Russian troops will remain in Poland until the end of 1993 to assist in the troop withdrawal from Germany. In a statement carried by PAP, Polish President Lech Walesa said the withdrawal was final confirmation of Polish sovereignty. Together with recent revelations about the Katyn massacre, the withdrawal laid foundations for mutual trust and good-neighborly relations, Walesa said. According to Rzeczpospolita of 29 October, the withdrawal ceremony was marred by Russian complaints that Poland had failed to help construct housing for officers, imposed customs controls on Russian military transports, and promoted anti-Russian propaganda in the mass media. (Louisa Vinton) NEW DEADLOCK IN ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT NEGOTIATIONS. Despite the progress reported by Radio Bucharest on 27 October, negotiations on the creation of a minority government headed by the Democratic National Salvation Front (DNSF) reached a deadlock again on the following day. Radio Bucharest said that the two sides, the DNSF on one hand and the Democratic Convention of Romania (DCR) and the National Salvation Front (NSF) on the other, could not agree on the "political neutrality of some state institutions," (meaning the demand of the opposition that a number of pro-DNSF figures be removed from office) and on the chairmanships of the parliament's two chambers. (Michael Shafir) ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT ELECTS CHAIRMEN. As a result of the deadlock, the parliament convened to elect its chairmen. Adrian Nastase, foreign minister in the outgoing government and vice-president of the DNSF, was elected chairman of the Chamber of Deputies. He defeated Victor Babiuc, the candidate of the NSF and the DCR. The vote was 180 to 145. In addition to his own party, Nastase was supported by the Greater Romania Party and the Socialist Labor Party. Enlisting the support of the same alignment of forces as Nastase, the DNSF candidate Oliviu Gherman was elected chairman of the Senate. He defeated Emil Tocaci, the joint candidate of the DCR and the NSF, by 81 votes to 59. Gherman is the president of the DNSF. (Michael Shafir) HUNGARIAN MINISTER ON 1956 COMMEMORATION INCIDENT. Hungarian Interior Minister Peter Boross rejected as "great lies" charges by the opposition that Hungarian border guards had participated under orders from his ministry in the demonstration that prevented President Arpad Goncz from delivering his address on the anniversary of the 1956 revolution. Contrary to what Western media reported, Boross stated that not just a group of extremists, but also much of the crowd of 8,000-10,000 people jeered Goncz. He estimated that only 6 or 7 people wore Nazi symbols and that at most 70 skinheads were present, MTI reported on 28 October. (Edith Oltay) HUNGARIAN BISHOPS CONDEMN RACISM. In a statement issued on 28 October, the Catholic bishops' council expressed concern about the "emergence in the world and in Hungary of racial discrimination and anti-Semitism," MTI and Radio Budapest report. The council warned that extremist views and attitudes "lead not only to discrimination in social life but also create serious [social] conflicts." The statement condemns differentiation between human beings on the basis of race, color, social situation, or religion, and stresses that all forms of racism and anti-Semitism offend God and mankind. (Edith Oltay) MEMBERS OF HUNGARIAN NEO-NAZI GROUP SENTENCED. On 28 October, the Gyor municipal court sentenced Istvan Gyorkos, the leader of the "national socialist action group" in Gyor, to one year in prison for "instigation against the community" and abuse of firearms and ammunition, MTI reports. The group had accumulated a stock of military equipment and had been suspected of an armed plot to establish a "national socialist state." The sentence was suspended for five years. One of Gyorkos's sons received a one-year suspended sentence; a second was placed on probation because he was a juvenile at the time of the crime. One other defendant was fined, and a last one was acquitted. (Edith Oltay) BRAZAUSKAS PRESS CONFERENCE. On 28 October Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party chairman Algirdas Brazauskas held a press conference at the Lithuanian parliament, Radio Lithuania reports. He denied charges that he had called for the burning of all KGB files in Lithuania and said that the files contain valuable historical information worth preserving. He called for the creation of a broad coalition government. The general wage freeze suggested by the IMF was impossible, he argued, and necessary economic reforms should be made "less painful" for the public. He said he knew nothing of Russian attempts to influence the Seimas elections and said he thought the Lithuanian public was too intelligent to attempt a coup against a new government. (Saulius Girnius) POLISH GOVERNMENT PREPARES 1993 BUDGET. Meeting on 27 October, the cabinet accepted draft budget outlines for 1993 that forecast slight growth in production and national income; no major improvement in the financial condition of state firms; inflation at a yearly rate of 38%; and a deficit amounting to up to 5.5% of GDP. To meet this last goal, the government will have to keep the deficit from rising more than .8% above the ceiling for this year, according to Rzeczpospolita of 28 October. Difficulties in financing the deficit are also expected. Efforts will be made to limit social security benefits and enforce tax and customs discipline. Real wages are to drop by 2% in 1993. (Louisa Vinton) LATVIAN-RUSSIAN ECONOMIC ACCORDS. Several economic cooperation accords were signed by Latvia's Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis and Russia's acting prime minister Egor Gaidar on 28 October after their meeting in Moscow, Baltfax reported that day. The documents include accords granting their countries most-favored nation status and deal with bank payment transfers (necessary because the two countries no longer have the same currency). Although the issue of Russia's supplying fuel to Latvia was not directly discussed, Gaidar indicated that delivery problems stemmed from unresolved payment procedures, which, he said, could be settled shortly. (Dzintra Bungs) UN HUMAN RIGHTS EXPERTS IN LATVIA. On 27-October UN experts on human rights arrived in Riga at the invitation of Latvia's Supreme Council Chairman Anatolijs Gorbunovs. The experts' group, headed by Ibrahim Falla of Somalia, are to assess the human rights situation in Latvia, especially with regard to Russians and other Slavs, who have complained recently of rights violations. (Dzintra Bungs) BILDT SUPPORTS NEW ESTONIAN GOVERNMENT. In a visit just five days after Estonia's conservative-center government was formed, Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt expressed strong support for the market-oriented path chosen by his Estonian counterpart Mart Laar. Bildt, who ended his visit on 27-October, devoted discussions with Laar, Foreign Minister Trivimi Velliste, Defense Minister Hain Rebas, and Social Welfare Minister Marju Lauristin to security issues and economic cooperation, according to Paevaleht of 29 October 92. Government sources say the strength of Bildt's support came as a welcome surprise. (Riina Kionka) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba & Louisa Vinton
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