|To appreciate nonsense requires a serious interest in life. - Gelett Burgess|
No. 215, 06 November 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR SHAKHRAI RETURNED TO CABINET IN CHARGE OF NATIONALITIES AFFAIRS. Sergei Shakhrai has been returned to the Russian cabinet as chairman of the State Committee on Nationalities Policy with the rank of deputy premier, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 November. Shakhrai, who is currently representing Yeltsin in the Russian Constitutional Court in the CPSU case, will take up his new post on 25 November. His appointment with the rank of deputy premier, which his predecessor did not enjoy, is an indication of the increased importance of the nationalities question. Valerii Tishkov, Director of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Ethnography, who resigned as chairman of the state committee at the end of September complaining that he was not consulted. Tishkov suggested that Shakhrai would be an ideal successor as he had more political clout. (Ann Sheehy) SHAKHRAI'S APPOINTMENT WELCOMED BY RUTSKOI, FILATOV, AND SHUMEIKO. Shakhrai's appointment has been welcomed by Vice-President Aleksandr Rutskoi, First Deputy Chairman of the Russian Supreme Soviet Sergei Filatov, and First Deputy Premier Vladimir Shumeiko, who all consider that his legal expertise will be useful in his new post. Filatov and Shumeiko both suggested that progress might now be made in implementing the federal treaty so as to give more rights to the republics and regions, which they see as the key to the success of the economic reform. (Ann Sheehy) STAROVOITOVA DISMISSED AS YELTSIN'S NATIONALITIES ADVISER. A decree dismissing Galina Starovoitova as Yeltsin's adviser on nationalities issues was issued on 4 November, Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported. No reason was given for her dismissal, which came as a complete surprise to Starovoitova, although she told Interfax that she had lately had difficulty in arranging meetings with Yeltsin. Starovoitova has been one of the most prominent reformers, but has run into criticism for her liberal stand on nationalities issues. She has frequently been criticized by both Yeltsin's right-wing opponents and by "centrists" for advocating the right of the Armenian majority to secede while denying the same right to the Russian-speaking majority in the self-proclaimed Dniester republic. (Ann Sheehy) MORE ON GOVERNMENT DEAL WITH CIVIC UNION. First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Shumeiko said that the government has adopted many of the proposals included in the Civic Union's economic program. According to Interfax on 4 November, Shumeiko had asked the leader of the Civic Union, Arkadii Volsky, about the existence of a list of alternative ministers which the Civic Union allegedly sent to the president. Volsky denied the existence of such a list. Volsky said that if the parliamentary faction of Smena issues such a list, he would demand the exclusion of Smena from the Civic Union coalition. (Alexander Rahr) FURTHER PRONOUNCEMENTS ON GOVERNMENT CHANGES. At a news conference in Moscow on 5 November, President Yeltsin declared that he would not enter into any kind of alliance with the Civic Union regarding a government reshuffle, Interfax reported. He said that only three or four small amendments contained in the Civic Union's anti-crisis program would be introduced into his government's own program. At another news conference on the same day, one representative of the Civic Union stated that "we have no wish to dictate any names to the president," while another insisted that no discussion had taken place at the meeting between Yeltsin and the Civic Union concerning a reshuffle at government or any other level. And Vice-President Rutskoi told "Mayak" that the Civic Union had given no lists to President Yeltsin of possible changes in the cabinet. (Keith Bush) YELTSIN'S VISITS TO BRITAIN AND HUNGARY. President Yeltsin told the same news conference that he would not appoint an acting president to mind the store during his official visits to Britain and Hungary scheduled for next week. "I shall not give up the reins of power to anybody. I shall rule Russia and direct the progress of reforms from there." (Keith Bush) YELTSIN OFFERS TO DISCUSS STRATEGIC ARMS CUTS WITH CLINTON. During a telephone conversation with President-Elect Bill Clinton, Yeltsin offered to discuss strategic arms reductions at a proposed post-inauguration summit in Moscow, Interfax reported on 5 November. The arms reductions would apparently be based on the June 1992 US--Russia agreement to cut strategic nuclear forces to approximately 3,000 warheads on each side. The June agreement has not yet been formalized in a treaty because of new Russian positions concerning the use of silos and the elimination of land-based multiple warhead missiles. It was unclear whether Yeltsin suggested any further reductions, or concessions on the points that are now stalling the negotiations. (Doug Clarke and John Lepingwell) RUSSIAN CASUALTIES IN TRANSCAUCASUS. The press center of the Transcaucasian military district announced on 5 November that 59 Russian servicemen or military dependents had been killed since the beginning of the year and 100 wounded as a results of attacks on military facilities within the district, Interfax reported. The highest number of deaths were reported in Georgia, where 42 were killed and 35 wounded. Six people lost their lives in Armenia and 12 were wounded while 11 servicemen were killed in Azerbaijan and 53 wounded. Also in that republic 3,217 artillery pieces were seized. Another 634 pieces were lost in Georgia. The press center also reported that 1,306 military cars had been hijacked with only 119 recovered. (Doug Clarke) SITUATION NORMALIZING IN NORTH OSSETIA. The Press Service of the North Ossetian Security Council said on 5 November that the cease-fire was generally being observed in the Prigorodnyi raion of North Ossetia and that Ingush armed formations had been expelled from all settlements, ITAR-TASS reported. An active exchange of hostages was also taking place. The North Ossetian Ministry of Health reported that since the night o 30 October 115 people had been killed and 272 wounded. Yusup Soslambekov, the Chechen chairman of the parliament of the Confederation of Peoples of the Caucasus, told ITAR-TASS that the confederation did not favor either side, and its armed units had not been asked by either side to intervene. (Ann Sheehy) GRACHEV AND BARANNIKOV TO NORTH OSSETIA. Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev (an Afghan veteran) flew to North Ossetia on 5 November to oversee the efforts of Russian troops as they sought to disarm Ossetian and Ingush militants, Interfax reported on 5 November. Grachev was accompanied by Interior Minister Viktor Barannikov. According to Interfax, the two are expected to draw up proposals on the conflict for an upcoming meeting of the Russian Security Council. They were expected back in Moscow on 6 November. (Stephen Foye) AFGHAN VET TO HEAD RUSSIAN INGUSH COMMITTEE. Ruslan Aushev, an ethnic Ingush and a much decorated veteran of the Soviet war in Afghanistan, was named on 5 November as the chief Russian administrator in Ingushetia, AFP and Interfax reported. The 38 year-old Aushev has long been involved in Afghan veteran affairs and was most recently serving as an advisor to Russian Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi. AFP also reported that the Russian government had created a new executive headquarters under the leadership of Interior Minister Viktor Yerin that is tasked with establishing order and guaranteeing "the security of Russian citizens in the conflict zone." Boris Gromov, a Russian Deputy Defense Minister and also an Afghan veteran, was among those named to that body. (Stephen Foye) DUSHANBE FEARS RENEWED ATTACK. According to agency reports on 5 November the streets of Tajikistan's capital were deserted and the city was paralyzed because the inhabitants feared anti-government forces will attack again. Supporters of deposed President Rakhmon Nabiev invaded the city and seized government buildings on 24 November, retreating two days later after considerable loss of life in battles with government supporters. The fears of Dushanbe residents were given some substance by the refusal of anti-government forces to accept a proposal from Central Asian leaders for the formation of a state council in Tajikistan that would include all factions. (Bess Brown) CALL TO SELL UKRAINE'S NUCLEAR WARHEADS. Western agencies reported on 5 November that a Ukrainian First Deputy Prime Minister has suggested that Kiev ought to sell or auction off to the highest bidder nuclear warheads that remain in the country. Ihor Yukhnovsky apparently told a news conference that the 176 strategic warheads on Ukrainian territory belong to the Ukrainian people and should not be given up for free. He suggested that Russia should get first option on the warheads, with other states already possessing nuclear weapons also eligible to make a bid. (Stephen Foye) UKRAINE TO LEAVE RUBLE ZONE "SHORTLY." Ukrainian Prime Minister Leonid Kuchma told a news conference in Kiev on 4 November that Ukraine will shortly introduce the coupon and ignore cash currency, The Financial Times reported on 5 November. This would effectively take Ukraine out of the ruble zone. Kuchma warned of impending economic disaster in Ukraine. He plans to restrict the allocation of credit to faltering state enterprises and to raise the Ukrainian Central Bank's discount lending rate to at least 50% a year at a time, as the newspaper notes, when inflation is exceeding that rate in a month. (Keith Bush) RUSSIAN CENTRAL BANK TO STEM DOLLAR FLOW TO FSU NATIONS. The Russian Central Bank has issued orders temporarily forbidding enterprises, banks and other organizations of countries of the former Soviet Union (FSU) from buying hard currency on the Russian market, according to Interfax on 5 November. The Central Bank recently granted enterprises and individuals significantly broader freedom to convert rubles into hard currency. The Bank apparently feared that, without the ability to control the creation of ruble purchasing power in the other nations of the region, Russia would experience increased dollar outflow and further depreciation of the ruble. The Central Bank also put restrictions on investment in Russia by enterprises of other FSU nations. (Erik Whitlock). RUBLE SLIPS FURTHER. The ruble exchange rate eased to 399, up from 396, rubles to the dollar on the Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange on 5 November, Biznes-TASS reported. Volume traded was $40.46 million. (Erik Whitlock) IMF WARNS OF RUSSIAN HYPERINFLATION. The managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Michel Camdessus, told bankers in Bonn on 5 November that Russia faced a risk of hyperinflation that could destroy confidence in its economy, Reuters reported. Camdessus claimed that Western aid promised to Russia for 1992 was being disbursed as planned, with $11.4 billion of support put in place during the first half of the year, including about $9.2 billion in grants and credits and $2.2 billion in debt deferrals, and a further $7 billion's worth of grants, credits, and debt deferrals in the second half of 1992. He said that Russia had agreed to postponement of the $6 billion stabilization fund until inflation had been brought under control. (Keith Bush) MORE ON RUSSIAN PRIVATIZATION. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais has announced that preparations are underway for auctions of state property in December, where privatization vouchers can be used to purchase shares, according to "Novosti" reports on 5 November. The first auctions are programmed to be held in the Vladimir oblast', Perm, Moscow and St. Petersburg. Several large enterprises are to be put up for auction, as well as Intourist hotels and Berezka foreign currency shops. According to Chubais, these auctions will help to raise the value of the vouchers which, according to a report in Finansovye izvestiya on 29 October, are currently being traded in Moscow for an average of 5-7,000 roubles, well under their face value of 10,000 roubles. (Sheila Marnie) HOW THE RUSSIANS RATE THEIR STANDARD OF LIVING. An opinion poll carried out by the Russian Center for Public Opinion and Market Research (VTsIOM) suggests that 41% of Russians think that they live badly, over 50% that they live "averagely", and 8% that they live well, according to an Interfax report of 5 November. Other VTsIOM research suggests that 47% of Russians think that life is difficult, but "tolerable". On the basis of this, sociologists claim that the situation may not be as catastrophic as it has been portrayed in the mass media. (Sheila Marnie) NABIEV REJECTED STATE COUNCIL. In an interview issued by Interfax on 5 November, deposed Tajik President Rakhmon Nabiev said that his supporters would reject the plan for a state council of all factions proposed by Central Asian leaders at a summit in Alma-Ata on 4 November, because such a council would perpetuate the influence of Supreme Soviet Chairman Akbarsho Iskandarov, who has been acting president since Nabiev was forced to resign at gunpoint. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev told journalists after the summit that in his opinion Nabiev should not try to reclaim the presidency of Tajikistan because not enough of the country's citizens back him. (Bess Brown) OPPOSITION BOYCOTT IN BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENT. Opposition deputies in Belarus have announced that they would boycott certain actions of the parliament, Western news agencies reported on 5 November. The decision was taken to protest parliament's earlier rejection of calls for early elections. The boycott was announced in a statement signed by 32 lawmakers from the opposition Belarusian Popular Front and broadcast by Radio Minsk. The deputies said that they would continue to attend parliamentary sessions but abstain from certain debates and voting. (Roman Solchanyk) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE SERBS BLOCK UN AID CONVOY. Western agencies reported on 5 November that Serbian civilians in Bratunac had blocked a UN convoy heading from Serbia into Bosnia to the mainly Muslim town of Srebrenica, whose 30,000 inhabitants have been under siege for about six months. Both towns are just inside Bosnia's border with Serbia. This is not the first incident in which apparently well-organized Serb civilians have prevented UN convoys from reaching besieged Muslims. Milan Panic, the prime minister of Serbia-Montenegro, has repeatedly promised that UN convoys could use Serbia and Serbian-held territory in Bosnia to transport relief supplies, and has also promised to provide the trucks. (Patrick Moore) UN HAS SERIOUS PROBLEMS IN PEACE-KEEPING. Cedric Thornberry, the deputy chief of the UN mission in former Yugoslavia, said on 5 November that Sarajevo faced famine and that the nominally UN-controlled areas of Croatia were submerged in chaos thanks to armed and uniformed Serbian gangs. The 6 November Washington Post quoted him as saying that the "armed criminals... usually target Croats and other minorities, usually old people." Thornberry added that Serbian aircraft had apparently violated the UN no-fly zone in Bosnia 18 to 20 times, but it was not clear whether they had actually engaged in military operations against Muslims and Croats, the New York Times reported. He blamed both Serbs and Croats for hindering relief shipments bound for Sarajevo, and said that Serb forces in Croatia had refused to tell the UN where they had placed mines in the giant Peruca hydro-electric dam. (Patrick Moore) RUSSIAN GENERAL VISITS HERZEGOVINA. Radio Serbia reported on 5 November that Russian General Viktor Filatov paid an official visit to Serb-controlled areas of Herzegovina to observe the situation there and to see for himself "who is defending himself and who is the aggressor." Filatov, a member of the General Staff of the Russian Army, said that aggression was being waged against Serbs and promised to recommend to the Russian General Staff that Russia support the Serbs. The Russian Defense Ministry's newspaper Krasnaya zvezda has generally taken a pro-Serb line, which suggests that Filatov may have support within the Russian high command. (Milan Andrejevich) IRAN PLEDGES TO SUPPORT BOSNIA. Sarajevo Radio reported on 5 November that the general headquarters of Iran's armed forces issued a statement pledging their readiness to provide "any kind of material or moral assistance" to the Muslims of Bosnia-Herzegovina if ordered to do so by Iran's leaders. In an interview broadcast by Tehran TV on 5 November Alija Izetbegovic, President of Bosnia-Herzegovina, said Bosnia's Muslims and government were grateful to Ayatollah Khamene'i, President Hashemi-Rafsanjani, and the government and people of Iran, for declaring their support for the Muslims of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Last week Izetbegovic paid an official visit to Teheran. (Milan Andrejevich) NEW ROMANIAN PREMIER PREPARES PROGRAM, STARTS TALKS. On 5 November Romania's Prime Minister-designate Nicolae Vacaroiu presented a preview of his government's program. At a press conference broadcast by Radio Bucharest, Vacaroiu said that his government's top priority would be to ensure supplies of heat, energy and food for the winter. He also pledged to work out together with his team a long-term strategy for economic changes in Romania. Vacaroiu, who was a little known senior Finance Ministry official before being nominated prime minister by President Ion Iliescu, spoke on the prospects for economic reforms in Romania. While insisting that he was fully committed to pursuing reforms, he warned against decisions that might lead to a sharp drop in living standards. Vacaroiu also stressed the importance of the state's role during the period of transition to a market economy. In a first round of talks on his future cabinet, Vacaroiu met with leading figures from the economic and financial spheres. (Dan Ionescu) BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT PRESIDENT NAMED. Alexander Yordanov, a Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) MP, was elected president of the Sobranie or parliament on 5 November, according to BTA. He replaced Stefan Savov who was forced out of office by opposition from the predominantly Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), the lynchpin in contemporary Bulgarian politics. MRF deputies withdrew their support for the minority UDF government of Filip Dimitrov, voting no confidence on 28 October, thus causing the prime minister to resign. While relations between the UDF and the MRF are strained, Yordanov's appointment, which received a clear endorsement from the MRF, may signal willingness by both sides to resume cooperation. Neither wishes to work closely with the Bulgarian Socialist Party, the only other party with seats in the parliament. (Duncan Perry) CANDIDATE NOMINATED FOR LATVIAN FOREIGN MINISTER. On 3 November the chairman of the Latvian Supreme Council Foreign Affairs Commission Indulis Berzins announced that the commission had approved a proposal by Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis to nominate its commission member Georgs Andreevs to the post of Latvian Foreign Minister, the RFE/RL Latvian Service reported. Andreevs, a doctor of medicine of Russian extraction who is fluent in Latvian, Russian, English, and German, had been recommended because of his excellent performance heading the Latvian delegation to the Council of Europe. The Latvian Supreme Council will vote on his candidacy next week. (Saulius Girnius) CZECHS WANT HAVEL FOR PRESIDENT. According to a public opinion poll published on 5 November, a solid majority of Czechs would like to see former Czechoslovak President Vaclav Havel as the Czech Republic's first president. The Prague-based Institute for Public Opinion said that 57% of the Czech Republic's citizens favor Havel's candidacy. Havel has indicated his willingness to reenter politics if there is broad support for him. (Jan Obrman) DRAFT OF CZECH CONSTITUTION READY. Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus announced on 5 November that the Czech government has completed work on a draft constitution for the Czech Republic, Czechoslovak Television reported. It will be submitted to the Czech parliament for approval on 10 November. The draft would create a bicameral parliament, introducing a Senate in addition to the existing lower house, the National Council. Members of the Senate would be elected for six-year terms; Senate elections would alternate, with one third of its members facing elections every two years. It is not clear whether the draft will win the support of opposition parties which is crucial since Klaus' coalition does not have the necessary three-fifths majority in the parliament to adopt constitutional laws. (Jan Obrman) LEADER OF THE HUNGARIAN DEMOCRATIC COMMUNITY OF VOIVODINA TESTIFIES. Andras Agoston, the chairman of the Hungarian Democratic Community of Voivodina testified before the human rights committee of the Hungarian parliament on 4 November. Agoston said that the peace efforts in his country were not proceeding well, and it was feared that the civil war might even escalate. Agoston said the Hungarians supported the policy of Yugoslav Prime Minister Milan Panic, but that Panic could only be truly acceptable to the Hungarians if he were willing to start a dialogue with them. The DCV leader said talks could only be based on the Carrington plan. He stressed that Voivodina Hungarians did not want the borders changed, but wished to ensure that their human rights were respected within the present borders. According to Agoston, some 25,000 Hungarians have left Voivodina as a result of the war, and the Serbs wanted to replace them with 30,000 Serbians. This was unacceptable for the DCV because it would change the ethnic composition of Vojvodina. The report was carried by MTI. (Judith Pataki) SOLIDARITY ACCEPTS CONSUMPTION LIMITS. During talks on the government's proposed "pact on state firms" on 5 November, Solidarity agreed that consumption should be limited to half of the growth in national income over the next ten years. The rest, the union agreed, should be devoted to increased spending on investment. The formerly procommunist OPZZ federation has objected to this proposal, arguing that the government was trying to burden the unions with responsibility for declining living standards in recent years. Labor Minister Jacek Kuron argued that unions have an interest in encouraging investment: "the unions won't be able to defend workers' interests if the economy collapses." Solidarity leader Marian Krzaklewski told reporters that the union had won government concessions on many issues and was prepared to sign the pact. (Louisa Vinton) CAMDESSUS ENCOURAGED BY EAST EUROPEAN ECONOMY. International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Michel Camdessus has said several countries in Eastern Europe have made encouraging economic progress, Western media reported. Speaking to bankers in Bonn on 5 November, Camdessus specifically named Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Poland. He said recent developments in those countries justified "cautious optimism" that the sharp drops in output during the past few years were "possibly at an end." He added that 1993 may see positive growth in their gross domestic product for the first time in almost five years. "We are possibly at a turning point," he said. (Jan Obrman) ARMS SALES TO SUDAN ILLEGAL, STRASKY SAYS. Czechoslovak Prime Minister Jan Strasky said on 5 November that Slovakia was violating present laws in negotiating the sale of armored personnel carriers to Sudan, CSTK reported. Sales to sensitive areas, to which Sudan belongs (its government is believed to support international terrorism), require federal government approval. Strasky said that Slovakia had already shipped one vehicle for testing and that the Slovak economics ministry has created a commission to handle future sales. (Jan Obrman) RUSSIA AND LITHUANIA SIGN AGREEMENT ON OIL AND GAS. On 3 November in Moscow Lithuanian Deputy Prime Minister Bronislavas Lubys and his Russian counterpart Aleksandr Shokhin signed an agreement on supplying oil and gas to Lithuania in 1992, Radio Lithuania reports. Russia will send Lithuania 1,400 million cubic meters of natural gas (at $75 per thousand cubic meters) and almost a million tons of crude oil (at $110 per ton). The payment can be made in hard currency or rubles at the official Russian exchange rate. (Saulius Girnius) POLISH PRIME MINISTER IN BONN. During her first official visit to Bonn Polish Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka received once again Germany's pledge to support Poland's efforts to enter the European Community. According to a report in the Warsaw daily Rzeczpospolita of 6 November, Germany Chancellor Helmut Kohl promised to support Poland's cause at the forthcoming EC summit meeting in Edinburgh and suggested that Poland might join the EC in about ten years' time. Kohl emphasized, however, that EC acceptance of Poland's full membership would depend on the success of economic changes in the country. Suchocka also attended a joint sitting in Bonn of the foreign committees of the Bundestag, the French Assemblee Nationale, and the Polish Sejm. Before she leaves for Poland on 6 November, Suchocka is scheduled to meet German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel and other German economic and political officials. (Jan de Weydenthal) NATO AGAINST SUSPENSION OF WITHDRAWALS. According to BNS of 5 November, citing the NATO News Bulletin, the NATO leadership thinks that last week's suspension of troop withdrawals from the Baltic states violates international law. NATO reportedly called on Russia to continue the pullout. (Riina Kionka) RUSSIA KEEPS VIOLATING LATVIAN AIRSPACE. Russian military aircraft continue to violate Latvian airspace, according to the Latvian Defense Ministry, whose spokesman told Diena on 4 November that between 30 October and 1 November alone, Russian military aircraft performed 24 unsanctioned flights over Latvia en route to Ukraine and Russia. During October, Russian military planes made some 88 uncleared flights. (Riina Kionka) YELTSIN'S MESSAGE TO HEADS OF BALTIC STATES. At a Moscow press conference on 5 November Russian President Boris Yeltsin said that his decision to suspend troop withdrawals from the Baltic States had been made since the Defense Ministry had overstrained the process by stationing some units in open fields, Radio Lithuania reported. Yeltsin said that the schedule signed with Lithuania would be followed and that commissions had been formed to discuss such schedules for Latvia and Estonia which would not be linked with the rights of the Russian-speaking minorities there. He denied that the suspension was the result of internal Russian political pressure. (Saulius Girnius) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Keith Bush & Anna Swidlicka
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