|The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper. - Eden Phillpotts|
No. 221, 16 November 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES OF THE USSR YELTSIN ADDRESSES INDUSTRIALIST CONGRESS. Russian President Boris Yeltsin gave the opening speech at the Congress of Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs-which constitutes the main part of the Civic Union-thus demonstrating his interest in cooperation with the centrist opposition, ITAR-TASS reported on 14 November. Yeltsin said that he would welcome a rapprochement between enterprise directors and the government which would be finalized in a joint economic program. He stated that the government will now do more than previously to support industrial production, as demanded by the Civic Union, but he warned that he would not halt the government's strict fiscal policy. Yeltsin noted that there have been some improvements in the Russian economy recently. (Alexander Rahr) YELTSIN SEES POSITIVE SIGNS IN RUSSIAN ECONOMY. In his address to the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, Russian President Boris Yeltsin drew attention to some faint signs of economic improvement in the country, according to Interfax on 14 and 15-November. Yeltsin claimed that in the last three months overall production had begun to stabilize and that civilian industrial production had even increased in September. He also cited the elimination of the cash shortage through the issue of larger denomination ruble notes and the reduction of inter-enterprise debt. Much of this stabilization has come through lax monetary and fiscal policies. Prime Minister Gaidar, speaking at a meeting of Russian Federation regional leaders on 14 November, said that monthly money growth since May had increased from 9-14% to 25%. (Erik Whitlock) NEW MEASURES TO STABILIZE RUBLE? The Russian Central Bank will soon introduce some new measures to keep the ruble exchange rate below 500-rubles to the dollar, ITAR-TASS reported, citing "trustworthy sources" within the bank. In addition to undertaking more restrictive credit policies, the Central Bank may draw more rubles out of circulation through purchases on the currency market and floating government bonds. The Bank may also require exporters to sell 100% of their hard currency earnings. Most of these measures would not be implemented for some time. With the dollar passing the 300 ruble mark last month and the 400 ruble mark last week, it is highly questionable whether a 500 ruble-to-dollar ceiling can be achieved. (Erik Whitlock) RUSSIA'S ECONOMIC PROGRAM FOR THE FIRST QUARTER OF 1993. The Russian government has prepared a program of measures designed to revive the economy which are to be implemented by the end of the first quarter of 1993, according to an Interfax report of 13-November. The program is reported to include measures aimed at reactivating economic links with CIS members and other countries, and at giving financial support to priority branches and enterprises in the form of tax breaks and special loans. Particular mention is made of the fuel and energy complex, the metallurgy, chemical and machine building industries. Credits of approximately 250 billion rubles are to be allocated for the conversion of defense industry enterprises. (Sheila Marnie) KHASBULATOV ON COUP ATTEMPTS. Parliamentary speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov told a meeting of regional deputies that emergency rule could not be introduced legally without the approval of parliament, ITAR-TASS reported on 15 November. He also said that all attempts to bypass parliament on this matter should be termed a coup d'etat and the organizers of such action should be declared state criminals. He said that certain ministers in President Yeltsin's entourage are engaged in these kind of "provocations," and that the president himself does not know about it. Khasbulatov indicated that Acting Prime Minister Egor Gaidar has completely lost his authority over his cabinet and that today every senior minister regards himself as the prime minister. (Alexander Rahr) GRACHEV DENIES COUP CHARGE. In an interview on Russian Ostankino TV (Novosti) on 14 November, Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev denied that either he or the army is in any way involved in an alleged plan to establish a state of emergency in Russia and to disband parliament. The charges were leveled by a Russian parliamentarian, Iona Andronov, on 13 November. Grachev was alleged to be one of the instigators of the planned action. Grachev called the charges a provocation and a lie, and said they were aimed at discrediting the army and drawing it into political battles. Grachev reportedly emphasized that he opposed the imposition of a state of emergency in Russia, although he suggested that emergency measures might be necessary in regions where blood is being spilled. President Yeltsin's office also denied Andronov's charges, and Deputy Prime Minister Mikhail Poltoranin said that there were no plans of any kind being made in the executive branch for imposition of a state of emergency. (Stephen Foye) RUSSIA AND CHECHNYA REACH AGREEMENT ON PULLBACK. Russia and Chechnya reached a new agreement on 15 November to pull back their forces facing each other along the disputed Chechen-Ingush frontier, ITAR-TASS reported. A similar agreement last week broke down after each side accused the other of violating its terms. The new agreement is said to have been coordinated with President Yeltsin and signed by Yeltsin envoy Sergei Shakhrai and a Chechen delegation in Nazran. Earlier, Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev had accused Russia of preparing to occupy Chechnya, a claim that was twice denied by Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev. (Ann Sheehy) SITUATION IN NORTH OSSETIA REMAINS TENSE. The situation in the Prigorodnyi raion of North Ossetia and Vladikavkaz remains tense, ITAR-TASS reported on 15 November, with isolated shooting in some villages. But on the whole, the Russia military is said to have the situation under control. A hundred Ingush were detained on 14 November when they arrived in buses and trucks allegedly to identify bodies. According to the Ossetians, some of the men had taken part in fighting against the Ossetians. Two CNN correspondents detained with them were later released. Meanwhile, there are repeated reports of atrocities having taken place. (Ann Sheehy) MORE DETAILS ON MINIMUM WAGE. On 13 November the Russian parliament approved the new minimum wage of 2,250 rubles per month, according to an Interfax report of 13-November. This minimum wage will be valid for state employees from 1 January 1993. Trade Unions had been demanding a minimum wage of 3,375 rubles per month. From 1 April 1993 the minimum wage is to be index-linked to inflation once every 3 months. This minimum will cover state employees only, i.e. about 70% of the workforce; protection for the rest of the workforce appears to be non-existent, since the law requires that non-state employers introduce "whatever minimum wage their funds permit." (Sheila Marnie) MOSCOW HOUSING RENTS TO BE RAISED. Moscow City Council is proposing to raise the housing rent in 1993, according to an Interfax report of 12-November. The increases are to be introduced in stages, and rent is to vary according to the facilities in the buildings. The rent for buildings with all conveniences will be one ruble per square meter in January, and three rubles in July. Residents currently pay only 3.5% of housing maintenance costs. It is thought that in the course of the year tenants' expenditure on housing will rise to 5% then 7% and finally to 10% of family income. (Sheila Marnie) RUSSIA FOR LIMITS ON US, JAPANESE ANTI-SUB PATROLS IN OKHOTSK. A Russian arms control official has indicated that Russia is thinking of proposing limits on American and Japanese antisubmarine warfare (ASW) activities in the Sea of Okhotsk in the current U.S./Russian strategic arms negotiations. The Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun on 12-November carried an interview with Sergei Rogov, deputy director of the USA-Canada Institute. Rogov cited this as one of the measures "to promote strategic stability" that should be incorporated in a START II treaty. The article, quoting a "Russian military source in charge of the nuclear disarmament issue," said that the proposed limit would include the prohibition of foreign military exercises and strict limitations on the activities of American and Japanese submarines and ASW aircraft in the Sea of Okhotsk. The Russians use this closed sea as a sanctuary for some of their ballistic-missile submarines. In strategic arms negotiations, the Americans have traditionally opposed any such restrictions . (Doug Clarke) DECREE ON SALE OF RUSSIAN MILITARY PROPERTY. President Yeltsin has issued a draft decree that would give the Russian Defense Ministry authorization to sell military property, excluding arms and ammunition, to both domestic and foreign buyers, according to an Interfax report on 11 November. Domestic sales are to be conducted mainly through commodity exchanges and auctions, while foreign sales will go through what was described as the Ministry's material resources and foreign economic relations department. Proceeds from the sales are to be deposited in a special Defense Ministry fund and allocated for military housing. Sales earnings will be tax exempt. The text of the draft decree was not available. (Stephen Foye) UKRAINIAN CABINET AND PARLIAMENT DISCUSSING ECONOMIC CRISIS. According to Radio Ukraine, the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers decided on 14 November to raise pensions and the minimum wage in the country to 2,300 karbovantsi. It also decided to ask the Ukrainian parliament to expand the government's and president's powers in order to enable them to deal more effectively with the economic crisis. On 16 November the Ukrainian Supreme Council is to examine the question of the social protection of the population and is to hear reports from the economics and finance ministers. On 18-November the parliament will hear a report from the new Ukrainian prime minister Leonid Kuchma on the problems of economic reform. (Bohdan Nahaylo) UKRAINE AND THE CIS. Ukrainian Prime Minister Leonid Kuchma told journalist after the 13 November meeting of CIS heads of government that Ukraine will not adhere to the proposed CIS charter, ITAR-TASS reported. Kuchma said the Ukrainian president would not sign the charter in the form in which it was presented at the session. Ukraine, maintained the prime minister, will not delegate powers to the CIS and favors instead direct bilateral agreements. (Roman Solchanyk) UKRAINIAN MINERS ON PROTEST STRIKE. Miners in the Donetsk region launched a 24-hour strike on Friday, according to an Interfax report of 13-November. The miners were on strike in protest against a law on the settlement of labor disputes which is currently being put before the Ukrainian Supreme Council. The strikers object in particular to a clause in the law on lockouts. The strike was apparently supported by workers in other branches of the economy, and further action is threatened for 17-November, if parliament refuses to revise the law. (Sheila Marnie) ARMENIAN ENERGY CRISIS WORSENS. Armenian Energy Minister Steve Tashjan told Reuters on 13 November that ongoing disruptions in the supply of oil and natural gas from Russia following the destruction of the main gas pipeline through the North Caucasus last month have compelled Armenia temporarily to halt all gas supplies to domestic users in Erevan beginning 16 November. All schools in the city will also close. Erevan is already without domestic heating, and gasoline prices are reportedly ten times higher there than in Moscow. (Liz Fuller) AZERBAIJANI INTERIOR MINISTER THREATENS NUCLEAR STRIKE AGAINST ARMENIA. Azerbaijani Interior Minister Iskander Gamidov, who has ties with the Turkish right wing National Labor Party ("Grey Wolves), claimed at the third congress of the Azerbaijan Musavat Party in Baku that Azerbaijan has a total of six nuclear weapons, and that "if the Armenians do not come to their senses" he would authorize a nuclear strike against Erevan, according to Rossiiskaya gazeta of 13 November. Gamidov also reportedly advocated the creation of a Turanian state that would encompass northern Iran, and extend to Siberia, China and India. (Liz Fuller) APPEAL FROM RUSSIAN BORDER FORCES IN TAJIKISTAN. Representatives of Russian officers serving in Border Forces units in Tajikistan have sent an appeal to President Yeltsin that questions their continued presence in the region and demands legal and social guarantees against what they describe as moral and physical pressures being exerted on them. According to a 14 November ITAR-TASS report, the officers warned that Russian border troops are in danger of becoming embroiled in local political battles and in cross-border disputes with various groups in Afghanistan. They reserved the right to cease performing their duties if their demands are not met. (Stephen Foye) KARIMOV OVERSEES COTTON TRADE. Uzbekistan's deputy minister of cotton production Utkur Umarbekov was quoted by a Western correspondent in Tashkent on 12 November as saying that any cotton export deal of 5,000 tons or more has to be authorized by President Islam Karimov. Umarbekov commented that previously Moscow gave the orders, but now Karimov handles 85% of the country's cotton trade, and there is little sign that state control of the cotton industry will be relinquished. Uzbekistan expects a reduction in its cotton output this year because spring rains damaged the crop; Umarbekov predicted foreign sales of 400,000 tons. In 1991 Uzbekistan sold more than 500,000 tons of cotton on the world market. Despite the country's efforts to escape the Moscow-ordained cotton monoculture, cotton remains Uzbekistan's most important export and accounts for 80% of its hard currency earnings. (Bess Brown) MOLDOVAN OFFICIALS ON ETHNIC IDENTITY, LANGUAGE POLICY. Based on interviews with officials of Moldova's Presidency and the Ministries of Education and Nationality Affairs, Novoe Vremya (no.-45/1992) reports that Chisinau sees Austria's relationship with Germany-two separate states despite the identity of language-as the model for its own relationship with Romania in the long run. The latest Moldovan opinion survey shows that only 9% desire unification with Romania. Moldova's language policy emphasizes, "along with the introduction of the Romanian state language, also the preservation of the identity of the ethnic minorities living in Moldova. It is precisely this multiethnic character of the state that can, if preserved, help shape a Moldovan national consciousness distinct from the Romanian," the officials are cited as arguing. (Vladimir Socor) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE LDLP GAINS MAJORITY IN LITHUANIAN SEIMAS ELECTIONS. On 16 November the chairman of the Lithuanian election commission Vaclovas Litvinas told a press conference, broadcast live by Radio Lithuania, that the final results of the elections to the Lithuanian Seimas the previous day in 9 of the 61-districts had not yet been finally determined because the votes in all precincts as well as absentee ballots and those from Lithuanians voting abroad had not yet been received. The Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party (LDLP) gained a majority by winning at least 30 seats. The Sajudis coalition won at least 8, the Lithuanian Christian Democratic Party-5, the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party-3, and the Independence Party, Center Movement, National Union of Lithuania, Union of Christian Democrats, Union of Poles, and a candidate who nominated himself-one each. Adding the 44-seats won in the first round, the LDLP has at least 74 of the 141 seats and will have a majority in the Seimas. (Saulius Girnius) VACAROIU PRESENTS HIS CABINET. On 13 November Romanian prime minister-designate Nicolae Vacaroiu presented to a joint session of the parliament's two chambers the list of the members of the new cabinet and outlined the government's short-term program. The new cabinet has 22 members; of these, 11 belong to the Democratic National Salvation Front and the rest are independents. Four ministers will have the rank of minister of state and will coordinate activities in their respective areas. The parliament must yet formally approve the components of the government. (Michael Shafir) POLISH PRIME MINISTER APPEALS FOR BROAD POLITICAL SUPPORT. Speaking on 15-November at a party meeting in Poznan, Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka said "Poland needs a broadly-based political movement capable of providing the necessary foundations for peaceful and effective democracy." According to a PAP report, Suchocka noted that this movement would have to be able to lead Poland to the community of European nations without undermining "its religious convictions and national sovereignty." She also said that the government should do its utmost to minimize disputes about "the place of the [Catholic] Church in public life." These disputes have recently emerged as one of the most divisive elements in Polish politics. Meanwhile, nationalist and populist leader Leszek Moczulski said in a speech delivered to a political meeting on 15 November in Lublin that the government will soon fall and new elections will be necessary. (Jan de Weydenthal) MRF DEMANDS POSTS IN NEW BULGARIAN CABINET. On 15 November the chairman of the mainly Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), Ahmed Dogan, announced that his party will select several ministers in the new government presently being negotiated with the UDF. Dogan told BTA that the MRF is claiming one deputy prime ministership, three ministerial portfolios, four deputy minister posts and two chairmanships of parliamentary committees. In a TV interview on the previous day UDF leader Filip Dimitrov had renewed a warning that his coalition would not betray its basic principles to strike a compromise with the MRF. Dimitrov has until Thursday to form a new cabinet. (Kjell Engelbrekt) CZECHOSLOVAK PARLIAMENT APPROVES LAW ON DIVISION OF ASSETS. After two unsuccessful attempts to pass a law on the division of federal property, Federal Assembly deputies eventually adopted a slightly modified version of the draft on 13-November. The bill represents a key to the "civilized" separation of Czechoslovakia. According to media reports, movable assets will be divided according to a 2:1 ratio, while fixed federal property will be remain the property the republic on which it is located. The division of some property, including assets of federal television and radio, will be covered in separate legislation. The Czechoslovak parliament also adopted a law on the dissolution of the Federal Security and Information Agency. (Jan Obrman) DUBCEK LAID TO REST. On 14 November an official memorial service was held for former CPCS First Secretary Alexander Dubcek in Bratislava. Dubcek died in Prague on 7 November. Mourners included former Czechoslovak President Vaclav Havel, German Bundestag Chairwoman Rita Suessmuth, Austrian parliament Chairman Heinz Fisher, the Chairman of the Italian Senate, Giovanni Spadolini, the Vatican's representative in Czechoslovakia Giovanni Coppa, Socialist International Chairman Pierre Mauroy, and dignitaries from over 50 countries. The service was followed by a private funeral for the immediate family. (Jan Obrman) SLOVAKIA FAVORS GOOD RELATIONS WITH HUNGARY. Slovak Foreign Minister Milan Knazko told a delegation of Hungarian parliament representatives headed by its deputy chairman, Matyas Szuros, that Slovakia has "the utmost interest in good relations with Hungary," CSTK reported on 14 November. He said that formal meetings between representatives of the two countries should be held as often as possible and expressed hope that the controversial Gabcikovo hydroelectric dam system will "not remain a political problem." Szuros said that the economic transformation in both countries makes close cooperation between them mandatory. The Hungarian delegation was attending the memorial service for Alexander Dubcek. (Jan Obrman) HUNGARY PROTESTS SLOVAK MOVE TO REMOVE HUNGARIAN SIGNS. State Secretary Geza Entz said on 13 November 1992 that new orders by Slovak Transportation Minister Roman Hofbauer to remove Hungarian language village and city signs in communities populated by the Hungarian minority are "harsh, provocative and injurious," reported MTI. Entz protested against the systematic removal and called for a halt to the campaign. (Karoly Okolicsanyi) HUNGARIAN OPPOSITION PARTY SELECTS NEW LEADER. Historian Ivan Peto became the new head of the Association of Free Democrats (SZDSZ), MTI reported on 13 November. In a 525-292 vote during the party's three-day conference, Peto replaced Peter Tolgyessy. Relations between Tolgyessy and Peto had been strained since Tolgyessy, who became SZDSZ president in November 1991, did not belong to the "Beszelo" circle, a group of old friends clustered around the former samizdat publication, and which effectively controlled the party. The SZDSZ faces a sharp decline in popularity; latest polls put its strength only at 8% of the electorate. Peto vowed to start new talks with the Hungarian Democratic Forum to resolve the deadlock over a new media law. (Karoly Okolicsanyi) SHAKY BOSNIAN CEASE-FIRE. International media on 15 November quoted the UN commander in Bosnia, Gen. Philippe Morillon, that the ceasefire that took effect on 13-November was still generally holding despite some violations. Groups of children and the sick and elderly were evacuated from Sarajevo to Belgrade and Kiseljak; one group included 200-Jews, who left on 14 November. The BBC and Reuters on 14 November quoted UN peace-keepers as accusing Serbs of "flagrantly violating" the cease-fire by bombarding Maglaj in north-central Bosnia. Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, for his part, wrote to US, UN, and Russian leaders to say that the international community must pressure Muslims and Croats, and not just Serbs, if it wants peace. Karadzic added that "the world seems amazed that the Serbian side refuses to lie down and die," Reuters reports. Finally, Bosnian Serbs on 14 November released 700 male Muslim and Croat prisoners from the Manjaca camp. The men are under 18 and over 40. (Patrick Moore) ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT AGREES TO LOWER GASOLINE PRICES. Representatives of the outgoing Stolojan government and leaders of the drivers' trade unions agreed on 14-November on a compromise concerning the union's demand to return gasoline prices to what they were before 22 October, Radio Bucharest reported on the same day. The drivers had been threatening to go on general strike on 16-November if their demands are not met. According to the compromise, prices for premium gasoline will be reduced from 220 lei ($0.51) to 160 lei ($0.37) per liter until 1 January 1993. A monthly quota of 40 liters will be priced at 100 lei ($0.23) until that date. The dual-price system will disappear on 1 January. The Stolojan government has yet to approve the compromise. (Michael Shafir) ROMANIAN DOCTORS, HEALTH WORKERS, TO STRIKE. On 16 November Romanian physicians and other health workers went on a nationwide general strike of indefinite duration. Radio Bucharest carried a communique released by the Sanitas trade union saying activity in hospitals will be reduced by 60% and stations for ambulatory treatment will close down indefinitely. Reacting to the announcement, the government said the strike is illegal. (Michael Shafir) SOFIA TO INTRODUCE TRANSIT VISAS FOR TURKS. Beginning in February 1993 all Turkish citizens will need visas to enter Bulgaria, regardless of their length of stay. A government decision adopted on 13 November may affect as many as three million Turks transiting the country each year, mostly on their way to and from Western Europe. In a statement distributed by BTA, the Bulgarian government said the move is necessary because of the sharp rise in transit travelers in the last few years. A government spokesman told Reuters that the revenue from the visas will go to the Turkish-populated areas in the southeast, a region which has suffered heavily from economic deterioration. By introducing a general visa requirement, Bulgaria will in effect cancel the 1979 bilateral agreement permitting Turks to cross the country within 24 hours without visas. In an effort to limit the influx in the other direction, Turkey imposed travel restrictions on Bulgarian citizens in late September. (Kjell Engelbrekt) BULGARIAN CURRENCY RESERVE EXCEEDS $1-BILLION. According to the semiannual report of the Bulgarian National Bank released on 13 November, by the end of September the country had accumulated a $1.095 billion foreign exchange reserve. Representing a net increase of $316.6 million since the beginning of 1992, the reserve was bolstered through an inflow of IMF and EC credits ($420 million) as well as an active BNB policy on the foreign exchange market ($310 million). The assets are invested in foreign securities, current accounts, and fixed-term deposits with Western banks. (Kjell Engelbrekt) ESTONIA ANNOUNCES BIDDING FOR PRIVATE COMPANIES. On 17 November the Estonian Privatization Agency will announce which state-owned enterprises will be the first 38 to be privatized through a process of competitive bidding, BNS reports. Andres Bergmann, head of the agency, said they are all large enterprises with work forces of 300-10,000 people. He told BNS that a full list of the companies and the terms of sale will be published after 17-November, and potential buyers will have until 22 December to put in their bids. Bids will be evaluated not only on the basis of money but also on the bidder's plans for the business and the number of jobs to be affected. Some early decisions may come as soon as the day after bidding begins, Bergmann said. (Riina Kionka) BALTS TO SUSPEND OSTANKINO BROADCASTS. Lithuania and Latvia will stop rebroadcasting Russia's Ostankino television programs starting next year, BNS reports. Officials in both states cited the high cost of retransmitting as a barrier, but officials in all three Baltic States have also complained in the last months about Ostankino's anti-Baltic tone. Because the leadership of Estonian Radio and TV is still up in the air after September's elections, officials in Tallinn have not yet announced its plans in regard to Ostankino transmissions. (Riina Kionka) THE TWO-MILLION-ZLOTY TYPO. An embarrassment for the Polish National Bank could be a boon for collectors of bank notes. The Polish word for "constitutional" on the new two million-zloty ($138) note is misspelled. The note, which bears a likeness of Ignacy Jan Paderewski, the pianist and interwar prime minister, will, however, not be withdrawn from circulation, according to Gazeta Wyborcza of 12 November. (Christopher Wellisz) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba & Charles Trumbull
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