|The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper. - Eden Phillpotts|
No. 220, 13 November 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR CHECHEN FORCES ON HIGH ALERT. Chechen military forces were in a state of high alert on 12-November because of Russia's decision to suspend the withdrawal of troops from the disputed Chechen-Ingush border area, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. Chechen president Dzhokhar Dudaev called on all citizens to drive Russian troops out of the area by force. He accused Russia of breaking its agreement to withdraw. The press bureau of the Russian government said that Russia halted its withdrawal only after Chechen units moved into the area in violation of the agreement. (Ann Sheehy) SHAKHRAI ARRIVES IN NORTH CAUCASUS. Sergei Shakhrai, the newly-appointed Russian deputy prime minister in charge of nationalities affairs, arrived in Vladikavkaz on 12-November to head the temporary administration for North Ossetia and Ingushetia, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. Shakhrai was also granted special "coordination powers" for three other North Caucasian republics-Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachaevo-Cherkesiya, and Adigeya-as well as Stavropol and Krasnodar krais and Rostov oblast. North Ossetian officials reported that a Russian soldier and several civilians were among those killed in the republic in isolated shooting incidents on 12-November. At the same time the exchange of hostages continued. (Ann Sheehy) STAROVOITOVA: RUSSIA NOT NEUTRAL IN OSSETIAN-INGUSH CONFLICT. Interfax released on 12 November the full text of comments made by Galina Starovoitova, Yeltsin's former adviser on ethnic affairs, shortly before she was informed of her dismissal on 4-November. Starovoitova said the Russian federal authorities were partly to blame for the North Ossetian-Ingush conflict evolving into armed confrontation. She also accused the Russian mass media and the forces despatched to the region by the central government of adopting a pro-Ossetian stance. It is possible that these remarks precipitated the decision to dismiss Starovoitova, but she had not been able to meet Yeltsin for some time before that. (Ann Sheehy) CIS HEADS OF GOVERNMENT TO DISCUSS CIS CHARTER. The CIS charter will be the key item on the agenda of the meeting of CIS heads of government on 13 November, ITAR-TASS reported on 12 November. The charter was discussed at the meeting of CIS foreign ministers on 12 November. The majority were in favor of continuing work on the draft with a view to its being signed at the meeting of the CIS heads of state on 4 December. Ukraine and Turkmenistan were said to be inclined not to sign the document at all. Ashgabat maintained that it was not ready for such a level of integration, while Kiev, in the opinion of some who took part in the meeting, seemed to be interested above all in deciding the property questions arising from the collapse of the USSR. Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Anatolii Adamishin said that those states that were ready for closer integration should go ahead without waiting for the others. (Ann Sheehy) CIS COMMANDER ON PEACEKEEPING FORCES AND UKRAINE. CIS armed forces Deputy Commander in Chief Boris Pyankov told Interfax on 12-November that the enduring potential for hostilities breaking out in the CIS, particularly in Central Asia and the Caucasus, makes the creation of CIS peacekeeping forces a necessity. Pyankov complained that to date Russia appeared to be the only CIS country ready to provide peacekeeping forces and, in the course of the interview, suggested on several occasions that Ukrainian opposition had proven to be the major stumbling block in the creation of regular CIS forces. He urged that Russia maintain peacekeeping forces as "fire brigades" prepared to intervene in conflicts at their "embryonic stage." He specified that the decision to use peacekeeping forces should be made by CIS heads of state, and that only following such a decision would the allocated national forces come under the command of the CIS joint armed forces. (Stephen Foye) SHAPOSHNIKOV URGES NUCLEAR ARMS SUMMIT WITH UKRAINE. The Commander in Chief of the CIS Joint Armed Forces, Evgenii Shaposhnikov on 12 November called for a Russian-Ukrainian summit to discuss the disposition of nuclear weapons still deployed in Ukraine, Interfax reported. Shaposhnikov reiterated Moscow's view that Russia alone should possess the former USSR's nuclear arsenal. He also charged that the situation in Ukraine had become dangerous because, in his view, Ukraine lacks experts to maintain the weapons. Shaposhnikov spoke during a meeting of CIS Foreign Ministers in Moscow. He also said that there were no nuclear weapons remaining in CIS hotspots. (Stephen Foye) UKRAINE SUSPENDS RUBLE. A decree signed by President Leonid Kravchuk effectively pulls Ukraine out of the ruble zone, suspending the ruble as legal tender as of today, various news agencies reported on 12 November. The karbovanets becomes the official currency unit of the nation fully replacing the ruble. The karbovanets appeared earlier this year as coupons valid only for cash transactions, but are now to be used in non-cash transactions, e.g. between enterprises through bank accounts, as well. Ukrainians will be able to exchange rubles for karbovanets at the rate of one to one for at least the next three days before the Ukrainian central bank establishes a new parity. Kravchuk pledged to maintain full karbovanets-to-ruble convertibility. (Erik Whitlock) YELTSIN STRENGTHENS POSITION. Russian President Boris Yeltsin has managed to consolidate his political position on the eve of the Congress of People's Deputies, slated to begin on 1 December. According to a lead article in Nezavisimaya gazeta on 13-November, Yeltsin will defend his reform policy at the Congress with a strengthened team, in which all personal conflicts have been resolved. The article stressed the importance of consolidating relations between presidential bodies (e.g., the Security Council) and the cabinet. It also noted that representatives of the Civic Union, such as Vladimir Shumeiko, who had been included in the government last May in order to slow the pace of reform, are now defending the government's policy against the Civic Union. Finally, a split has occurred inside the Civic Union, which now seems less united than the reformist camp. (Alexander Rahr) VOLSKY AND GAIDAR CLOSE TO COMPROMISE? The leader of the Civic Union, Arkadii Volsky, has denied that the Civic Union's economic program is an alternative to that of the government. Interfax on 12-November quoted him as telling a meeting of the parliamentary faction Democratic Center that the major difference between the government and the Civic Union is that the latter wishes to preserve state control over the economy during the transition to a market economy. Acting Prime Minister Egor Gaidar agreed at the same meeting on the necessity to "regulate" the market economy from above. He also agreed to take a closer look to the Chinese economic model, favored by the Civic Union. Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi and parliamentary speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov attended the meeting and called for a consolidation of all constructive forces. (Alexander Rahr) KOZYREV IN PARIS. "I am very much pleased with the interest and understanding of our problems shown by the French leader," Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev said following talks on 12 November in Paris. He added that the French government regards Boris Yeltsin's government as a reliable and stable partner. Kozyrev and French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas signed eight agreements including a preliminary accord on the safe destruction of nuclear weapons in Russia and an agreement on providing France with Russian archival documents. Kozyrev's visit is scheduled to continue until 14 November, ITAR-TASS reported. (Suzanne Crow) FRANCE TO HELP RUSSIA DESTROY NUCLEAR WEAPONS. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev and his French counterpart, Roland Dumas, signed an agreement in Paris on 12 November under which France will help Russia dismantle much of its nuclear arsenal. France thus joins the United States and Great Britain in this effort. Reuters quoted French defense officials as saying that the agreement covered the transportation and storage of the nuclear warheads but also the actual means of destruction. France will supply sophisticated machines to cut up the weapons and extract the nuclear material. The two countries will then conduct joint studies to determine the best way of dealing with the recovered nuclear material. It could either be stored, or used to fuel special atomic reactors. (Doug Clarke) KOKOSHIN ON STRATEGIC ROCKET FORCES. Russian First Deputy Defense Minister Andrei Kokoshin said in an interview published in Izvestiya on 13 November that Russia was "on the brink of the adoption of very important decisions on the strategic nuclear forces." The minister made the comment while visiting a strategic missile division in Valday, in northwest Russia mid-way between Moscow and St. Petersburg. The article indicated that the SS-17 strategic missiles in the division-the only ones still on service-would be phased out over the next two years, and that the SS-25 mobile missiles now in Belarus would be redeployed to Valday. (Several weeks ago authorities in Belarus said that the 81 SS-25s based at Mozyr and Lida would be relocated to Russia in 1993 and 1994.) The Izvestiya article also said that Russia would continue to build SS-25s in 1993, but in the future "the strategic nuclear forces are to have a fundamentally new, standardized missile of the next generation." (Doug Clarke) RUSSIAN OIL INDUSTRY TO BE PRIVATIZED. After weeks of heated debate, the Russian parliament has approved the government's decree on commercializing and privatizing state enterprises in the oil industry, according to Interfax 12 November. The enterprises are to be transformed into joint-stock companies by the end of the year. Privatization will follow with the state maintaining control of 38-40% of enterprise assets through a state holding company, Rosneft. The decree reportedly permits foreigners to hold only a 15% interest in companies. This percentage seems low given the government's repeatedly professed belief that foreign investment was the key to revitalizing the ailing Russian oil sector. (Erik Whitlock) RUBLE FALLS ANOTHER 3%. The ruble-to-dollar exchange rate rose on the Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange to 419 on 12 November, Biznes-TASS. The dollar began the day at 403 rubles. Volume traded was 51.26 million dollars. (Erik Whitlock) RUSSIAN LAW ON BANKRUPTCY PASSED. The Russian parliament has passed on the second reading a law entitled "On the Bankruptcy of Enterprises," according to Interfax and Reuters reports of 12-November. This law has been blocked in the past by reform opponents and those who feared its implications for unemployment. A final vote on the law still apparently has to take place once legal experts have examined it. The law defines the procedure for voluntary and compulsory liquidation of indebted enterprises. Enterprises may be forcibly liquidated by the arbitration court, and bankruptcy proceedings may be launched by either a debtor, a creditor, or by the procurator. (Sheila Marnie) UN SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR ABKHAZ PEACE TALKS. UN Secretary-General Boutros Ghali has asked UN Security Council members to call on Georgians and Abkhaz "to meet at the highest level without preconditions to establish an effective ceasefire and resume the peace process in line with the 3 September agreement," AFP reported. The UN could participate in such a meeting as an observer, and UN peacekeepers could monitor a resultant agreement. Georgian parliament Chairman Eduard Shevardnadze, who travelled to Abkhazia on 11-November, was quoted by Interfax as telling Sukhumi residents that he thinks the chances of a peaceful settlement of the conflict are more remote now than before the 3-September agreement. (Liz Fuller) KAZAKHSTAN SUSPENDS PRIVATIZATION PROGRAM. Kazakhstan's Prime Minister Sergei Tereshchenko has told Interfax that the country's privatization program has been halted until a "clear-cut mechanism" for reappraising the value of fixed assets of manufacturing enterprises can be introduced, the news agency reported on 12 November. Rapid inflation is making it difficult to assess the true value of such enterprises, which are next on the list of state assets to be privatized. Housing, service and retail trade establishments are already in the process of being sold or auctioned. Tereshchenko said that the value of investment vouchers to be distributed to the population would be expressed in "conditional units" rather than rubles to protect them from inflation. (Bess Brown) NAZARBAEV SAYS KAZAKHSTAN MUST FIND ITS OWN WAY OUT OF CRISIS. In a closing speech to a meeting of oblast administrative chiefs and chairmen of oblast soviets, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev complained that his initiatives for the economic integration of the CIS had not received support from other CIS leaders at the Bishkek summit, and said that Kazakhstan must find its own way out of the economic crisis. He also criticized his own government for copying the Russian reform program, which is not going anywhere, and called for strengthening of the powers of the presidency in Kazakhstan so that he may institute anti-crisis measures and, if necessary, dissolve the legislature. (Bess Brown) TAJIK FOREIGN MINISTER CALLS FOR STATE OF EMERGENCY. Tajikistan's Foreign Minister Khudoberdy Kholiknazarov met with Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev on 12-November and told Interfax that a state of emergency should be declared in Tajikistan and enforced by a Russian military division. The same day Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev's press secretary told Interfax that Akaev wants the UN to take on a peacekeeping role in Tajikistan. Akaev was reported to be discussing the creation of a UN peacekeeping force in Tajikistan with UN Special Envoy Raymond Sommereyns, whom he told of a report that three people have already starved to death as a result of various blockades that have made the food situation in Tajikistan catastrophic. (Bess Brown) MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT IN CENTRAL ASIA. Moldovan President Mircea Snegur conferred and signed an interstate treaty and a trade agreement with Kyrgyzstan's President Askar Akayev in Bishkek on 11 November. Snegur told a press conference that the two presidents saw eye to eye on economic reforms and interethnic relations, and agreed on the need to clearly distinguish between the right of national self-determination and ethnic separatism, Interfax and Radio Mayak reported. On 4 November, Snegur had signed with Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev in Alma-Ata an interstate treaty and a trade agreement, ITAR-TASS and Ostankino TV reported. Turkmenistan asked Snegur to postpone his scheduled visit there, apparently because of the Turkmen President's schedule of meetings on the situation in Tajikistan. Snegur's trip reflects Moldova's preference for direct bilateral ties with CIS member states as opposed to proceeding through multilateral CIS structures. (Vladimir Socor) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE BOSNIA UPDATE. World and local media report the latest cease-fire in Bosnia-Herzegovina has been breached. The republic's Muslims, Croats, and Serbs have accused each other of breaking the truce they had all agreed to. Though the cease-fire seemed to be holding in Sarajevo with only sporadic shelling around the city, heavy fighting was reported in several war zones. Reports say 20 people have been killed. Meanwhile, Germany and Bosnia-Herzegovina are to formally establish diplomatic relations on 13 November. Germany becomes the second EC member after Denmark to establish formal diplomatic ties with Bosnia. (Milan Andrejevich) COSIC MIGHT SEND TROOPS INTO HERZEGOVINA. Radio Serbia and Politika reported on 12-November that Dobrica Cosic, president of the rump Yugoslavia, urgently appealed to UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali as well as to the UN Security Council and the EC, to put pressure on Croatia and the Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina to halt the fighting, especially in eastern Herzegovina. Cosic also asked the UN to warn Croatia to stop provoking incidents in the Prevlaka Peninsula on the Bay of Kotor, which he said threaten UN-mediated agreements on the demilitarization of the strategically important area on the Croatian-Montenegrin border. Cosic accused Croatia of launching a major offensive in eastern Herzegovina and said crimes committed against Serb civilians "can be classified as genocide." He warned that if Croatia continues to violate peace initiatives and agreements, "the Yugoslav Army will be forced to take drastic measures to protect the Serbian people in eastern Herzegovina and Montenegro." (Milan Andrejevich) IS SOFIA LOOKING THE OTHER WAY? In an article in Die Zeit of 12 November, a correspondent claims the UN embargo against Serbia is being systematically violated along Bulgaria's western borders and that the government in Sofia has done nothing to stop it. The correspondent says corrupt customs officials in the southern town of Petrich regularly let through fuel deliveries destined for Serbia. Members of an CSCE observer team told the German daily that the situation is similar along the entire border, and the head of the team in Bulgaria was quoted as saying that the embargo is "an empty gesture." Earlier Bulgarian media carried reports of individual motorists driving across the Bulgarian-Serbian border with filled fuel tanks. (Kjell Engelbrekt) BULGARIA PROTESTS DANUBE TOLLS. On 12-November Bulgaria joined Hungary in protesting Belgrade's decision to introduce tolls on Danube shipping. Bobi Mirchev of the Bulgarian Transport Ministry told Reuters that, according to the Danube River Convention, every state should maintain the waterway at its own expense. For this reason the Bulgarian official rejected Belgrade's claim that imposition of tolls is necessitated by the $10-12 million it costs to keep its part of the Danube in good repair. (Kjell Engelbrekt) MACEDONIA'S NEIGHBORS READY TO SECURE BORDERS. Serbia, Albania, and Bulgaria have expressed support for a Greek initiative to guarantee the current borders of the ex-Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Reuters reports. On 12 November Greek Foreign Minister Mihalis Papaconstantinou said the agreement shows that none of the Balkan states has any designs on the former Yugoslav republic. So far only Bulgaria and Turkey have recognized Macedonia as an independent state, while Greece has blocked the EC from following suit. Athens' initiative comes after outbreaks of violence in Macedonia and growing speculation that the EC may soon move ahead without Greece and end the republic's diplomatic isolation. Meanwhile, Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov has asked UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali to send peacekeeping troops to his country, saying the situation has worsened since last week's clashes in Skopje between Macedonian police and ethnic Albanians. (Kjell Engelbrekt & Milan Andrejevich) BERISHA IN SKOPJE. ATA reports on 11 November that Albanian President Sali Berisha told CSCE representatives in Skopje that Albania and the Albanians will always be an important factor for stability and peace in the Balkans. He said he supports the efforts of Ibrahim Rugova, Kosovo's self-styled president, to settle the problems in Kosovo through "dialogue and peaceful means." Berisha called on Albanians to avoid provocations "organized by the Serbs," who are attempting to provoke conflicts in both Macedonia and Kosovo. He also warned that the December elections in Serbia will be "meaningless" because they might legalize the dictatorship of Serbia's President Slobodan Milosevic. (Milan Andrejevich) SLOVAK PREMIER ON ARMS SALES. Speaking at a press conference in Bratislava on 12-November, Vladimir Meciar said that "if there is demand in politically low-risk countries for weapons produced in Slovakia, the Slovak government will do nothing to prevent arms sales." Asked whether such policy does not violate federal laws, according to which only federal institutions can license arms exports, Meciar replied that "this depends on the interpretation of the laws," which is the domain of the constitutional court. The Slovak premier confirmed that he will soon visit Russia but denied reports that one of the objectives of his trip is to negotiate arms exports to Russia. Slovak Foreign Minister Milan Knazko told BBC that he was "surprised" by Meciar's statements because "it is the federation that still decides about arms exports." Knazko said that when Slovakia becomes an independent state, the Slovak government will make its own decisions on arms sales but that "currently such steps are not desirable." (Jiri Pehe) GERMANY TO HELP BULGARIA REPATRIATE MIGRANTS. Under an agreement signed in Bonn on 12 November, Germany will pay the Bulgarian government 28 million marks over five years to repatriate Bulgarian nationals who have been refused political asylum, Reuters reports. German Interior Minister Rudolf Seiters said the money is earmarked for the regions from which most migrants originate-Karlovo, Pleven, and Pazardzhik-and will be used to establish education centers for metal technology, electronics and woodwork. Some 25,000 Bulgarians, mostly unskilled workers, have sought asylum in Germany this year but have practically no chance to stay. Although politically controversial, similar agreements have previously been signed with Poland and Romania. (Kjell Engelbrekt) ROMANIAN MINORITIES AGREE TO COOPERATE. The 13 parliamentary representatives of Romania's smaller ethnic minorities decided on 12-November to step up collaboration for the purpose of securing their interests, Western agencies report. These deputies have one seat each in the Chamber of Deputies according to a constitutional provision for representation of ethnic minorities that do not gain representation through the regular electoral process. The 13 met at the initiative of the German Democratic Forum. The participants (not including the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania, which gained representation through regular elections) declared their loyalty to the state and called for the setting up of a separate state secretariat for minority questions. They also expressed regret that their parliamentary group had not been consulted before formation of the new government. (Michael Shafir) HUNGARY BACKS AWAY FROM NEW TAXES. After a cabinet meeting on 12 November, a government spokesperson said that the present tax-free status of basic foodstuffs could be maintained in 1993 instead of the planned 8% rise, Hungarian Radio reports. In addition, apartment and house sales will be exempt from the planned 25% value-added taxes for two more years. The government's retreat came after heated opposition to the planned new taxes, some of which came from government coalition party members. (Karoly Okolicsanyi) BIG BUSINESS TO GET TAX BREAKS IN ESTONIA? During his two-day trip through northeastern Estonia, Prime Minister Mart Laar told a trade union council in Narva that the tax debts of Estonia's large enterprises will be frozen for a certain time to help stabilize the economy, BNS reported on 12 November. Trade union leaders asked Laar to lower the value-added tax on food and to reform the corporate tax system to encourage investment. Laar reportedly told them that a lowered VAT would not lower prices, but that the government plans to revamp the tax system. Laar added that they can not expect foreign investments in the area until potential investors are assured of the area's political stability. (Riina Kionka) ON LATVIA'S AGENDA: LEGAL PROSTITUTION, SUGAR SHORTAGE. The Supreme Council Committee on Commerce and Public Services on 12-November recommended legalizing prostitution, BNS reports. The committee voted 4-0 to recommend legalization, with one abstention from chairman Alfreds Cepanis, who declined to vote, saying Latvia faces more urgent problems than whether or not to legalize prostitution. Meanwhile, the Supreme Council's agriculture faction met with sugar refiners and distributors in hopes of averting a sugar shortage. According to BNS of 12 November, Latvia's sugar producers have cut back on raising sugar beets because cultivation costs are high while wholesale prices are low. The deputies resolved to try raising duties on imported sugar to help the local farmers. (Riina Kionka) LANDSBERGIS COMMENTS ON BRUSSELS TRIP. On 12 November at a press conference in Vilnius broadcast live by Radio Lithuania, Chairman of the Supreme Council Vytautas Landsbergis reported on his recent trip to Brussels, where he spoke about developments in the European Community. He distributed copies of the speech on the Baltic States and their relations with the EC that he had given at the conference. During a stopover in Warsaw Landsbergis sent a telegram to President Lech Walesa on the occasion of the Polish independence day. (Saulius Girnius) LITHUANIA AND THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE. At the same press conference Adolfas Venckus, ambassador to the EC and NATO, noted that Lithuania would have already been admitted to the Council of Europe if the European Parliament had not decided to tie Lithuania's membership to those of Estonia and Latvia-which were being delayed due to their "inflexible laws on citizenship." (Saulius Girnius) ABISALA CONTINUES WASHINGTON VISIT. On 12 November Lithuanian Prime Minister Aleksandras Abisala held an hour-long meeting with Acting Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger and signed an agreement to allow Lithuania to apply for permission to fish within America's 200-mile exclusive economic zone, Radio Lithuania reports. He also held meetings with Undersecretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and Trade Representative Carla Hills. On 13 November Abisala is scheduled to have talks with IMF Managing Director Michel Camdessus and USAID Administrator Ronald Roskins and will attempt to phone president-elect Bill Clinton or Al Gore. (Saulius Girnius) LITHUANIAN SUPREME COUNCIL SESSION. On 12 November the Supreme Council Presidium called a special plenary session for 19 November, Radio Lithuania reports. One of the main issues to be discussed will be an act on the formal restoration of the Lithuanian army. Chairman of the parliament's National Defense and Internal Affairs Commission, Saulius Peceliunas, said that the act would be only ceremonial-simply a declaration that the army exists. Nothing in the current defense system would change. (Saulius Girnius) DUBCEK AUTOBIOGRAPHY. Alexander Dubcek, leader of the 1968 Prague Spring who died on 7-November, finished work on his autobiography four weeks before the accident on 1 September in which he suffered fatal injuries. Jiri Hochman, a prominent Czech journalist in 1968 who currently teaches history at Ohio State University, told reporters on 12-November that he and Dubcek had completed the draft. Among other things, the book recounts Dubcek's kidnapping the day after the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia on 21 August 1968 and describes his interrogation by CPSU General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev and Soviet Prime Minister Aleksei Kosygin. The draft, entitled "Hope Dies Last," is now being reviewed by Dubcek's sons and associates for publication on 1 May 1993 in 10 languages by the Japanese publisher, Kodansha. Dubcek will be buried on 14 November in Bratislava. (Jiri Pehe) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba & Charles Trumbull
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