|When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain|
No. 212, 03 November 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR STATE OF EMERGENCY DECLARED IN NORTH OSSETIA AND INGUSHETIA. On 2 November Yeltsin issued a decree declaring a state of emergency in North Ossetia and Ingushetia for a period of one month, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. The decree was a reaction to an attempt by Ingush irregulars to join the Prigorodnyi raion of North Ossetia to Ingushetia. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Georgii Khizha was named as head of the temporary administration. Russia's interior ministry said that the quick deployment of Russian troops in North Ossetia had successfully stabilized the situation, but it remains tense and shooting continues. The Russian parliament approved Yeltsin's decree, as did the North Ossetian parliament, but only after protests that the chairman of the North Ossetian parliament had not been consulted and that the decree was a violation of the federal treaty and North Ossetian sovereignty. The clash between the Ingush and Ossetians is the first outbreak of armed interethnic violence in the Russian Federation. The Ingush have been trying since 1957 to get back Prigorodnyi raion which they lost to North Ossetian when they were deported in 1944. (Ann Sheehy, RFE/RL Inc.) SHEVARDNADZE CONDEMNS GEORGIAN SEIZURE OF RUSSIAN ARMS. Eduard Shevardnadze on 2 November criticized Georgian army units who earlier that day had seized a large cache of Russian arms stored at a depot in the town of Akhaltsikh, Interfax reported. Shevardnadze warned that such disputes with the Russian army could "cost us dearly." The arms seizure apparently took place in the early hours of 2 November when some 200 troops backed up by five armored personnel carriers reportedly descended on the Russian base. According to Interfax, Russian guards did not respond with fire because they feared an explosion of what was said to be a large cache of ammunition at the site. (Stephen Foye, RFE/RL Inc.) LITHUANIAN-RUSSIAN WITHDRAWAL AGREEMENT VOIDED? Aleksandr Udaltsov, identified as a deputy chief of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Second European Department, said on 2 November that the 8 September Lithuanian-Russian troop withdrawal agreement had been "formally voided" by President Yeltsin's 29 October directive suspending the Baltic pull-out. That agreement had specified that all Russian troops would be out of Lithuania by 31 August, 1993. Udaltsov said that temporary agreements containing social guarantees for Russian servicemen were being prepared by the Russian government and would be presented to the Baltic governments shortly, and that Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vitalii Churkin would soon visit Tallinn to discuss Yeltsin's instructions. He said that Russia would defend firmly the rights of Russians in the Baltic States. His remarks were reported by Baltfax. (Stephen Foye, RFE/RL Inc.) NEWSPAPER WARNED FOR PUBLISHING SALVATION FRONT DOCUMENTS. The Russian Information Ministry issued an official warning to a Moscow opposition newspaper which published documents describing the goals of the National Salvation Front. The front, set up by pro-Communist and Russian nationalist activists last month, has recently been banned by President Yeltsin on the grounds that it called for the violent overthrow of the Russian government. On 2 November, ITAR-TASS quoted the Information Ministry as saying that the newspaper, Den, has gravely violated the press law, which specifically bans the publication of material calling for the government's overthrow. The ministry was quoted as saying that if it has to warn the newspaper again, it may seek court action to close the newspaper. (Vera Tolz, RFE/RL Inc.) FIRST LAND AUCTION HELD IN RUSSIA. An experimental auction of land was held on 31 October in the Moscow suburb of Ramenskoe, Interfax of 31 October and The Wall Street Journal of 2 November reported. The auction drew seventeen potential buyers who bid for nine of twelve designated plots of land. The highest price realized was over three million rubles. Under the recent presidential decree, the land may be used only for private housing construction. Participation was limited to Russian citizens who are permanently resident in Moscow or Moscow oblast. The decree allows buyers to pass on the land to heirs, but does not permit resale. (Keith Bush, RFE/RL Inc.) RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES FIRST DRAFT OF LAND LAW. The Russian Parliament's Council of Republics adopted the first version of the draft law on land on 2 November, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. The draft envisages a reduction in the moratorium on the sale of land from ten to five years for farmers, and to three years for farms and market gardens attached to factories. Moreover, the moratorium is eliminated for the land used for dachas, garages, and individual small-holdings. Foreign citizens may acquire land for investment purposes. The draft sets minimum and maximum sizes of lots. Land rent duration is increased from fifty to ninety-nine years. (Keith Bush, RFE/RL Inc.) RUSSIAN LAW ON CURRENCY CONTROL COMES INTO FORCE. Important legislation broadening the rights of Russian citizens and enterprises to hold foreign currency and defining responsibility for subsequent state policy-making on such currency matters is to come into force on 3 November, Interfax reported. The preparation and final passage of the law have taken months. The latest obstacle to President Yeltsin signing parliament's most recent draft into law was the virtual exclusion of the administration from policy-making in hard-currency exchange. The final law gives the government the right to determine the amount of hard-currency earnings Russian exporters are required to sell to the domestic banking system. (Erik Whitlock, RFE/RL Inc.) RUSSIAN COUNCIL ON INDUSTRIAL POLICY MEETS. The consultative body that Prime Minister Egor Gaidar promised industrial managers on his recent visit to Tolyatti held its first meeting on 2 November, ITAR-TASS reported. The purpose of the council, Gaidar said, was to realize "practical interaction between enterprise managers and the government of the Russian Federation and the consolidation of their efforts for developing production and state support of entrepreneurial activity." The council is to have twenty-five members, primarily representing the biggest enterprises in Russia, according to Interfax. The first meeting discussed organizational matters. (Erik Whitlock, RFE/RL Inc.) TALKS BETWEEN GOVERNMENT AND TRADE UNIONS POSTPONED. The conciliatory commission of representatives of the Russian government and of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions (FITU) has had to postpone a scheduled meeting due to the failure of the government side to prepare documentation on the social effects of defence industry conversion, and on a new minimum wage, according to an Interfax report of 2 November. The commission was set up to work out compromises between trade unions and the government on the pace and effects of economic reform. The trade unions are threatening strike action if talks break down. (Sheila Marnie, RFE/RL Inc.) AGENDA FOR CIS DEFENSE MINISTERS. Valerii Manilov, a spokesman for the CIS joint armed forces, said on 2 November that participants of a meeting of CIS Defense Ministers planned for 3 November intend to examine draft documents on the composition of the CIS Strategic forces and on protecting victims of armed conflicts. The Council, which is preparing for next month's summit of CIS Heads of State, will also discuss provisions on the functioning of the CIS joint forces command, ITAR-TASS reported. (Stephen Foye, RFE/RL Inc.) RUSSIAN COMMANDER BEMOANS ARMY'S PROBLEMS. Colonel General Yurii Grekov, the commander of the Urals Military District, complained in an interview with Uralsky rabochii on 31 October that enduring anti-military sentiment in Russia continues to cause problems for the army. Grekov claimed that up to 70% of all young men in Russia were now avoiding military service (he did not specify if this was a result solely of draft evasion or if it included the granting of deferments), and that desertion had reached proportions unknown either in the Russian or the Soviet armies. He criticized social organizations and media organizations that, he said, continued to encourage draft evasion. (Stephen Foye, RFE/RL Inc.) ARRESTED SCIENTIST'S CLAIMS ON CHEMICAL WEAPONS. Vil Mirzayanov, the scientist charged with violating security laws in connection with an article that he coauthored on Russia's chemical weapons, claimed that the Soviet Union was turning out such weapons long after former USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev declared an end to such production. The article was confiscated from the editorial office of Argumenty i fakty by the Russian Security Ministry but published by Nezavisimaya gazeta on 30 October. One of its assertions was that Gorbachev secretly awarded Lenin Prizes to "a group of comrades" in April 1991 for developing Soviet "binary" chemical weapons and organizing their industrial production at a plant in Volgograd. In December 1987, the Soviet Union declared that it had halted the production of chemical weapons. (Doug Clarke, RFE/RL Inc.) PARLIAMENTARIANS WORRIED ABOUT "DISARMED" RUSSIAN ARMY. Interfax on 2 November reported that the Russian Defense Ministry late this summer had sent a message to all military districts instructing them to place all soldiers' weapons in warehouses. Units were only allowed to have on hand enough small-arms ammunition for two details of armed guards. The agency quoted "a well-informed source in the Russian Supreme Council close to the Russian military circles." Yurii Voronin, the deputy chairman of the parliament, was said to have made an official appeal to Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev to explain the order. Grachev reportedly said the order was only sent to units which were known to lose weapons. (Doug Clarke, RFE/RL Inc.) UKRAINIAN DEFENSE DEVELOPMENTS, PROBLEMS. Ukrainian Defense Minister Konstantin Morozov has issued a decree disbanding one of the Kiev Military District's operational groups, Interfax reported on 2 November. The move was said to be connected with the reorganization of the Ukrainian armed forces. The Defense Ministry press bureau stressed that officers discharged in connection with the change would be provided for, and repeated Kiev's plans to replace the existing three military districts with two operational commands. Meanwhile, the acting Chief of Staff of Ukraine's army, Georgy Zhyvytsa, said on 2 November that several thousand conscripts have deserted since the beginning of this year. According to Reuters, quoting Ukrinform-TASS, the general called for tougher conscription enforcement laws and for higher pay to create a "financial incentive" for those serving. (Stephen Foye, RFE/RL Inc.) OPPOSITION TO UNITE WITH GEORGIAN GOVERNMENT ON ABKHAZIA? Georgian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Kavsadze informed ITAR-TASS on 1 November that there have been high-level discussions between Georgian government officials and leaders of the Georgian opposition. One of the results of these talks is that opposition military forces will serve with the regular army in Abkhazia. According to Kavsadze, despite the personal ambitions of opposition leaders, they came "to an understanding of the need to take the road of compromise and to unite." (Hal Kosiba, RFE/RL Inc.) ISKANDAROV TO MOSCOW. Tajikistan's acting President Akbarsho Iskandarov paid a surprise visit to Moscow on 2 November, ITAR-TASS reported, and met with acting Prime Minister Egor Gaidar to discuss the Russian motorized division stationed in Tajikistan. Iskandarov and other Tajik leaders would like for the division to assume a peacekeeping role, but some government supporters, particularly in the Islamic Renaissance Party, believe that the Russian division is supporting antigovernment fighters. A meeting of Central Asian leaders to discuss the civil war in Tajikistan is scheduled for 3 November; the Tajik legislature, scheduled to meet on 4 November to discuss the legality of President Rakhmon Nabiev's resignation, has been asked to defer the session. (Bess Brown, RFE/RL Inc.) TAJIKISTAN ECONOMIC SITUATION WORSENS. The food situation in both oblasts of southern Tajikistan has dramatically worsened, Khovar-TASS reported on 2 November. A government blockade of Kulyab Oblast, where anti-government forces are concentrated, was having severe effects on the food supply more than a month ago, but now Kurgan-Tyube, the site of much of the fighting between pro- and antigovernment forces, is also in a desperate situation. There is no fuel to run cotton-harvesting machinery. Even in Dushanbe the food situation is reported to be a problem, with little available and kolkhoz market prices rapidly rising. (Bess Brown, RFE/RL Inc.) TURKIC SUMMIT ENDS. A summit meeting of heads of state from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Turkey closed in Ankara on 31 October with the participants signing a declaration to improve economic relations, Western news agencies reported. They agreed to develop transportation and telecommunication links and to cooperate in developing industry, agriculture, oil and gas extraction and mining. The six also agreed to hold annual meetings. Tajikistan, although not a Turkic-speaking state, was also invited to attend the Ankara summit but the civil war in that country prevented Tajik participation. On 1 November ITAR-TASS reported that Turkish and Turkmen officials had signed an agreement to study construction of a gas pipeline across Turkish territory to ship Turkmen gas to Europe. (Bess Brown, RFE/RL Inc.) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE PANIC SUFFERS SETBACK. Radio Serbia and international media reported on 2 and 3 November that the lower house of the rump Yugoslav Federal Assembly's Chamber of Citizens passed a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Milan Panic's government. Of 117 deputies, 93 deputies voted against the government and only 24 in his favor. The lower house is dominated by Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist Party and the ultranationalist Radical Party. Both parties accused Panic of betraying the Serbian cause by his policy of compromise with Croatia and his well publicized efforts to restore some autonomy to Kosovo, a region with a 90% Albanian population. The upper house, the Chamber of the Republics, is scheduled to vote on the motion of noconfidence on 3 November. If the motion is passed, the mandates of Panic and the federal government will cease. Montenegro's deputies appear to continue their support of Panic and could serve to block the motion. (Milan Andrejevich, RFE/RL Inc.) JAJCE EPIC CONTINUES. International media reported on 2 November that up to 40,000 mainly Muslim refugees from Jajce continued to pour into Travnik in the biggest single exodus in Europe since the World War II era. Some have stayed out of exhaustion in the overcrowded town, while others have gone on to Vitez and Zenica, which are also controlled by Bosnian and Croatian forces. Most of the refugees are without shelter at a time when the harsh Bosnian winter is setting in, and Reuters said that UN relief workers would send in 100,000 blankets, 1,000 winter tents, and other supplies. UN officials complained about local commanders of the various factions holding up relief supplies, noting that there was "a complete lack of cooperation among the parties to the conflict." (Patrick Moore, RFE/RL Inc.) HAVEL FORESEES NO PROBLEMS IN COOPERATION WITH KLAUS. Former Czechoslovak President Vaclav Havel said that he shared many of Vaclav Klaus' views and that they could cooperate without abandoning their respective ideals. Havel made the statements at a meeting with journalists on 2 November. He said that he had somewhat different views on foreign policy, as Klaus wanted to pursue predominantly what he considered to be Czech interests, while the former president believed it necessary to take up "broader responsibility" for world events which would have a positive impact on the Czech Republic's image abroad. Havel added that he would place more emphasis on close relations with Poland and Hungary. Klaus's Civic Democratic Party recently pledged its support for Havel should he decide to run for president. It is not yet clear whether the first Czech president will be elected by popular vote or by parliament. (Jan Obrman, RFE/RL Inc.) CZECH CONSTITUTION "ALMOST READY." Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus said on 2 November that the Czech constitution was "almost complete," CSTK reported. Klaus made the announcement after an extraordinary session of the Czech government. He said the only parts that were still under discussion involved issues related to minorities and the protection of their rights. He also made it clear that the draft constitution contained nothing that would restrict the opposition's rights and hoped it could be passed before the dissolution of Czechoslovakia on 1 January 1993. Klaus indicated that the draft would be presented to the Czech parliament by the end of this week. Slovakia already has a new constitution. It went into effect on 1 October. (Jan Obrman, RFE/RL Inc.) ROMANIA STILL WITHOUT A GOVERNMENT. Another round of talks aimed at forming a new government in Romania failed to produce results on 2 November, more than one month after the parliamentary elections. However, judging from several declarations made on Radio Bucharest by party leaders who participated in the talks with president Iliescu, it seems that the next prime minister is likely to again be an economist, and possibly one who, like outgoing premier Theodor Stolojan, has no official party affiliation. There were unconfirmed rumors in Bucharest on 2 November that the choice might fall on Misu Negritoiu, who heads the Romanian Agency for Development. (Michael Shafir), BULGARIA REJECTS CLAIMS OF PLUTONIUM SALE. Bulgaria's Interior Ministry on 2 November rejected allegations of an international conspiracy to provide Iraq with weaponsgrade plutonium via Bulgaria, BTA reported. According to the British Sunday Express on 1 November, the conspiracy was to have involved Western businessmen, as well as Russian and Bulgarian military and excommunist officials, who were planning to smuggle 300 kilograms of plutonium from Russia to the Iraqi Embassy in Sofia. The Bulgarian Interior Ministry announced that the alleged plutonium 239--kept in 140 slightly radioactive capsules deposited at a Sofia hotel--contained less than one gram of a residual product of nuclear fuel, considered "unsuitable for making atomic weapons." The ministry said that the capsules, which were normally used to analyze combat gas, had been stolen from a warehouse in December last year. In a letter to BTA, the Iraqi Embassy in Sofia also denied the allegations. (Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL Inc.) VISEGRAD TRIANGLE DISCUSSES FREE TRADE ZONE. Representatives of Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia are meeting in Budapest in the Ministry for International Economic Relations in order to discuss the possibility of establishing a free trade zone. The report was carried by MTI on 2 November. Hungary and Poland are particularly interested in such an agreement which they would like to take effect as soon as possible. At a meeting of Polish and Hungarian government leaders in September, it was decided that the two countries would go ahead with a separate bilateral agreement if no agreement could be signed with the Czech and Slovak partners. (Judith Pataki, RFE/RL Inc.) PARTY POLITICS IN ESTONIA. The Estonian National Independence Party has decided not to join forces with the election coalition Pro Patria, which is set to become a unified party on 21 November. At the fifth ENIP Congress, held over the weekend in Parnu, the party decided that since it had competed with Pro Patria in the elections, to unite now would mean cheating the voters. According to Rahva Haal of 2 November, the party voted to continue cooperating closely with Pro Patria in the ruling government coalition, and to join forces with Pro Patria in upcoming local and municipal elections. (Riina Kionka, RFE/RL Inc.) GORBUNOVS CALLS FOR INTEGRATION OF MINORITIES IN LATVIA. In his address to Latvia's diplomatic corps on 30 October, Supreme Council Chairman and head of state Anatolijs Gorbunovs analyzed Latvia's internal and external political situation, Radio Riga reported that day. He stressed that Latvia should work harder to integrate its minorities in order to ensure a cohesive citizenry, rather than a bipolar population consisting of Latvians, on the one hand, and Russians and Russianspeakers on the other. He proposed that the Supreme Council adopt a law on citizenship and naturalization and that this law be endorsed by a referendum. Gorbunovs noted that even if such a law were to be adopted soon, it was unlikely that all of the potential voters could take part because of the time required for the naturalization process. Gorbunovs also reiterated his view that the residency requirement should be 10 years and each prospective citizen should have command of the Latvian language, and swear an oath of allegiance. (Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL Inc.) POLAND ADOPTS A NEW DEFENSE DOCTRINE. Poland's National Defense Committee has adopted a new defense doctrine, PAP reported on 2 November. The committee is chaired by President Lech Walesa and includes Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka, the ministers of defense, finances, and foreign and internal affairs, in addition to the Sejm and Senate speakers, the army's chief of staff and other ranking officials. The document, entitled "Security Policy and Defense Strategy of the Republic of Poland," lays the foundations of a comprehensive Polish military policy. It says that Poland considers its borders inviolable, sees no country as a foe, and makes no territorial claims on any other country. While there is no immediate threat of invasion, Poland needs its own security system capable of responding to any potential threat. The doctrine also restates Poland's preference for the establishment of an international security system involving Europe, the United States and Canada. (Jan de Weydenthal). DIVISION OF CZECHOSLOVAK ARMY IN FULL SWING. Based on agreements between the governments of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the Czechoslovak army began moving a considerable part of its technical equipment from Western parts of the country to Slovakia. General Karel Pezl, Chief of the Czechoslovak General Staff was quoted by CSTK on 2 November as saying that equipment which was located in forward positions along the German border was being moved to new positions on Slovak territory. Although the transfer of military equipment has been going on for some time, politicians have urged the military to have most of it completed before the dissolution of the country on 1 January 1993. Some 80% of the army's assets were previously based on Czech and Moravian territory but the leadership of both republics agreed to divide all assets at a ratio of 2:1, to reflect the size and population of the two countries. (Jan Obrman, RFE/RL Inc.) MEETING OF BALTIC COUNCIL LEADERS ON 5 NOVEMBER. On 2 November Radio Lithuania reported that Chairman of the Lithuanian Supreme Council Vytautas Landsbergis would host his Estonian and Latvian counterparts at a meeting of the Baltic Council on 5 November in Vilnius. The three will discuss the internal political situation in their countries as well as their policies on Russia's decision to renegotiate the conditions of its troop withdrawals from the Baltic States. The meeting had been first scheduled for 3 November, but had been postponed "for technical reasons" to provide more time for its preparation. (Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL Inc.) LANDSBERGIS TALKS TO YELSTIN. On 2 November Lithuanian Supreme Council Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis spoke to Russian President Boris Yeltsin by telephone and was told that the final deadline for the final withdrawal of the Russian troops from Lithuania, the summer of 1993, remained unchanged, Radio Lithuania reported. Yeltsin also told Landsbergis that Russia was satisfied with the Lithuanian government's policy on minorities. (Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL Inc.) BORDER DISPUTE CONTINUES. Russian Supreme Council Chairman Ruslan Khasbulatov told local agencies on 2 November that the upcoming Russian Congress of People's Deputies would formally confirm the current EstonianRussian administrative border as the interstate border. Khasbulatov reportedly made the statement during his weekend trip to Ivangorod and St. Petersburg. The Congress of People's Deputies is set to meet on 1 December. In response, Estonian Foreign Minister Trivimi Velliste told BNS that the interstate border could not be declared unilaterally, but must be drawn on the basis of a bilateral treaty. "The only treaty concluded so far with Russia on this matter is the 1920 Tartu Peace Treaty, all other questions between Estonia and Russia can only be resolved in the course of negotiations." (Riina Kionka, RFE/RL Inc.) RUSSIA HANDS OVER VILJANDI BASE. Russian defense authorities have handed over to Estonia all military properties located in the central Estonian town of Viljandi, BNS reported on 2 November. According to Deputy Defense Minister Toomas Puura, the fifteen troops remaining in Viljandi are due to leave within days. Viljandi was reportedly the site of a former Soviet military intelligence gathering base. (Riina Kionka, RFE/RL Inc.) HUNGARIAN OFFICIAL THANKS EC FOR MEDIATION. Hungarian Foreign Minister Geza Jeszenszky has thanked European Community officials for mediation in Hungary's dispute with Czechoslovakia over the controversial Gabcikovo dam on the Danube river. Although EC experts have so far determined that the hydroelectric facility meets technical specifications, their report also contains several alternative suggestions for completion of the project. This and another commission that has yet to report were set up on the basis of an agreement reached between the two countries and the EC in London on 28 October. On 2 November Hungarian domestic media and foreign agencies reported the first signs of ecological damage along the Danube after its recent diversion by Slovakia. Water levels are in some places two meters below the previously recorded low and some of the branches of the river have already dried up causing serious ecological changes on both sides of the river. Several wells have also dried up in both countries and some of Hungarian communities are without drinking water. (Judith Pataki, RFE/RL Inc.) REPATRIATION OF ROMANIAN GYPSIES FROM GERMANY. In line with an agreement signed between the Federal Republic of Germany and Romania in late September, the German authorities have begun processing documents aimed at speeding the repatriation of Romanians who are in Germany illegally. A spokesman for the German interior ministry told an RFE/RL correspondent on 2 November that reports suggesting mass deportations of thousands of Romanians in the near future were "fantasy." On 2 November Germany deported seventeen Romanian asylumseekers. Human right groups in both Germany and Romania have protested against the agreement. Most of those involved are believed to be Gypsies. Radio Bucharest said on 30 October that between 50,000 and 140,000 Gypsies who had illegally entered Germany and did not have identity documents or whose request for asylum had been rejected would be repatriated. (Michael Shafir). CORRECTION: In the RFE/RL Daily Report no. 204 (22 October 1992), the item "Yeltsin under Attack" stated mistakenly that the Civic Union was involved in establishing the National Salvation Front in Russia. Western and Russian news agencies quoted Russian State Secretary Gennadii Burbulis as asserting this connection. Later, however, Burbulis denied making this statement. [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba & Anna Swidlicka
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