|The fool wonders, the wise man asks. - Benjamin Disraeli|
No. 223, 19 November 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR YELTSIN WARNS CONGRESS. Russian President Yeltsin said at a meeting with legislators that he has no intention of violating the Constitution by introducing presidential rule, but he stressed that if the Congress moves against the reforms, he will "defend the will of the people," ITAR-TASS reported on 17 November. Yeltsin stated that he will replace some of the present ministers, but added that these changes should not be seen as a concession to the Congress. Yeltsin also held a personal meeting with parliamentary speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov and with heads of local governments. The latter have formed a new institution: the Union of Russian Governors, which aims to strengthen presidential institutions on the regional level. (Alexander Rahr) PARLIAMENT STILL CONSERVATIVE ON LAND REFORM. Private purchase or sale of land is still illegal in Russia, but the Democratic Russia Coalition has been helping organize a campaign to gather enough signatures to force a national referendum on private land ownership. One million signatures had to be collected within three months, and 1.9 million had been collected by the deadline on Wednesday. Parliament, however, continues to display a more conservative approach to land ownership; it has just approved draft legislation which would continue restrictions on the size and use of private plots. These developments were reported by Western news agencies on 18 and 19 November. (Sheila Marnie) RUSSIA, SOUTH KOREA SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENT. On 18 November Russian President Boris Yeltsin and President Roh Tae Woo of South Korea signed a bilateral agreement aimed at promoting stability in the South Pacific region, ITAR-TASS reported. The two sides pledged to settle all disputes by peaceful means, to hold regular meetings between heads of state and members of government, and to pool their efforts in combating organized crime. After the signing, Yeltsin handed over to the South Korean President the "black box" containing tapes with recorded reports from the crew of the South Korean Boeing-747 shot down in September 1983. At a meeting with representatives of the South Korean business community on the same day, Yeltsin reportedly said that Russia would discontinue military assistance to North Korea and that Moscow was ready to cooperate with Seoul in the area of military technology. (Stephen Foye) MOROZOV DENIES UKRAINE WILL SELL NUKES. Ukrainian Defense Minister Konstantin Morozov told a news conference in Kiev on 17 November that Kiev had no intention to sell its nuclear warheads and that it would tackle the problem of their elimination jointly with Russia, Interfax reported. His remarks came during a meeting between the Chairman of the Ukrainian parliament, Ivan Plyushch, and Prime Minister Leonid Kuchma with US General John Shalikashvili, the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, NATO's highest ranking officer. During the press conference it was reportedly announced that the Ukrainian parliament would soon ratify documents on nuclear arms reductions (presumably the START treaty) and on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons. (Stephen Foye) RUTSKOI (AGAIN) CLAIMS THE CRIMEA FOR RUSSIA. Russian Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi is quoted by Interfax on 17 November as having once again staked out Russia's claim to the Crimean peninsula and other territories that were formerly part of Russia. The Russia leader is said to have told students and teachers at Omsk University that "sooner or later" these territories will revert to Russia. Rutskoi has made similar statements on a number of previous occasions following Ukraine's independence declaration. The Crimea was transferred to Ukraine from the RSFSR in 1954. (Roman Solchanyk) RUTSKOI FOR END OF RADICAL REFORM. Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi said during his trip to Omsk that society is tired of radical reform and therefore the reform course must take a liberal and social-oriented character. Rutskoi maintained that the convening of the Congress of People's Deputies on 1 December is "unavoidable" and indicated that a socially-oriented reform program will be adopted soon. Rutskoi noted that he favors the program of the Civic Union. ITAR-TASS on 17 November reported that in Omsk, Rutskoi plans to meet local leaders of the military-industrial complex as well as with military commanders of the Siberian military district behind close doors. (Alexander Rahr) STANKEVICH ADVOCATES STRONG POWER. Presidential adviser Sergei Stankevich said on Ostankino TV on 16 November that a liberal-reformist policy had never been never successful in Russia since it was never supported by the people and therefore the present "radical-reformist" government will also ultimately fail. According to him, only a "union of elites" should be formed in Russia. He stated that, in his opinion, reforms would take 20 years to implement successfully, and this could take place only if an energetic, strong power emerges in Russia. He maintained that it was time for such a power to assert itself, and added that the president must become that power. Finally, he said that Russia's present borders can and must be preserved. (Alexander Rahr) RADICAL DEMOCRATS FORM NEW ORGANIZATION. A group of radical-democrats, which had split from "Democratic Russia," have formed the Russian Constitutional Union, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 17 November. The St. Petersburg radical-reformist deputy Marina Sale was elected head of the union which regards itself as a "democratic-liberal opposition to the present regime." The Russian Constitutional Union sees a way out of the crisis in the convening of a Constitutional Assembly which would adopt a new Constitution. The union does not support Yeltsin because it regards him as a potential dictator, and it calls for the abolishment of the present parliament, which it regards as Bolshevik. (Alexander Rahr) DECREE ON RUSSIAN CENTRAL BANK CHAIRMAN MINIMIZED. Various Russian officials have made statements minimizing the political significance of the recent presidential decree making the Russian Central Bank head a member of the government. Aleksandr Khandruev, a deputy chairman at the Central Bank, told Interfax on 17 November that the bank would lose none of its independence as a result of the action. Instead, Khandruev asserted, "the Central Bank will receive an opportunity to exert more influence .-.-. [on] credit and monetary policy." President Boris Yeltsin spoke in a similar vein saying that the move would enable closer collaboration between the government and the bank, but "does not mean that the bank is being put under the government," AFP reported on 18 November. (Erik Whitlock) CENTRAL BANK RELEASES 1993 PROGNOSIS. In a report issued to parliament, the Russian Central Bank has projected 1993 as another bad year for the Russian economy, according to Western news agencies. GNP is expected to drop 5-7% in real terms (compared to 21-23% this year). Industrial production is expected to fall by 12-15% (compared to 2022% this year). Inflation is forecast to run at a monthly rate of 12-15% (current inflation is over 20% per month). The Central Bank figures differ from government calculations which generally show greater drops in production and lower inflation. (Erik Whitlock) LAW ON STATE SECRETS IS DRAFTED. The new law on state secrets will define various categories of classified information in the areas of defense and intelligence generally, and in the fields of strategic nuclear and chemical weapons specifically, according to Sergei Ivanov, the head of the group drafting the law, in an interview with Rossiiskie vesti on 14 November. Ivanov also said the draft law will be linked with the law on state service and the law on emigration, both of which are now on the agenda of the Russian parliament. The immediate importance of this law stems in part from the arrest by the Ministry of Security of two military scientists, Lev Fedorov and Vil Mirzayanov, who had published classified information they obtained at work about Russia's production of new chemical weapons in spite of the Russian government's agreement to adhere to international treaties that prohibit such activities. Both scientists were subsequently released although the government has indicted Mirzayanov on charges of revealing state secrets. (Victor Yasmann) MORE ON STATE SECRETS LAW. According to the same article, the new law on state secrets bans the classification of information about natural and man-made catastrophes, social statistics, and fundamental research which is not linked directly with state security interests. The law prohibits the withholding of information about officials' incompetence, mismanagement, privileges, and benefits. Reflecting the needs of a market economy, the law requires publication of information about unfair business practices. Finally, a special provision of the law affords citizens the right to demand declassification of government files concerning important to society; the law also guarantees that officials respond to their request within one month. (Victor Yasmann) GRACHEV CALLS IN WEAPONS. Russian Minister of Defense General Pavel Grachev has issued an order requiring that all weapons not in "combat subunits" be handed over to central storerooms. ITAR-TASS on 16 November quoted the minister as saying that he was forced to take such a strict measure because of the increased number of thefts. He said that "the last straw" was the recent theft of arms and ammunition from a Ministry of Defense military institute. The order will apply to logistics and service units, civil-defense training units, and the like. Several weeks ago there was a report of a similar order last summer, but Grachev was said to have explained that it had only applied to units which were known to lose weapons. (Doug Clarke) SHAPOSHNIKOV WANTS NATO-STYLE FORCES FOR CIS. In an 18 November interview with Interfax, CIS Commander in Chief Marshal Evgenii Shaposhnikov said that he favored a NATO-style arrangement for the CIS, in which each of the members would provide a specified number of troops to join the unified forces to carry out assignments of common interest. He criticized the Russian Ministry of Defense for being in too much of a hurry to get the nuclear weapons still deployed in Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan transferred to Russia. Shaposhnikov suggested that the commander of Russia's Strategic Rocket Forces should be assigned as one of his deputies in the same manner as was presently done with the commanders of the Russian air force, navy, and air defense forces. (Doug Clarke) UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER DECLARES WAR ON ECONOMIC MISMANAGEMENT. In his report to the Ukrainian parliament on 18 November, Ukraine's new Prime Minister Leonid Kuchma delivered a grim picture of the state of the Ukrainian economy. He told the lawmaker in an address which was broadcast live by Ukrainian Radio that up until now the country had not had market reforms but "criminal mismanagement" and "economic crime." No other former Soviet republic, he claimed, had "sustained such a collapse," and "populist decisions" had reduced large sections of the population to poverty. What was need , Kuchma said, was something on the scale of the "post-war reconstruction." The prime minister said that the new government was ready to assume responsibility for the state of the economy, and asked for the powers of the government and president to be expanded in order for them to be better able to deal with the crisis. (Bohdan Nahaylo) UKRAINIAN EMERGENCY ECONOMIC MEASURES. On 18 November, the Ukrainian parliament agreed to grant special powers to Prime Minister Leonid Kuchma for six months, in order to enable him to implement his emergency economic measures, Interfax and Western press agencies reported. They include: rapid privatization of small enterprises and the transformation of large enterprises into joint stock companies. Kuchma also mentioned a proposed cut in sales taxes, controls over wage increases and the amount of foreign currency held by enterprises. He proposes to bring down monthly inflation from 30% to 2-3% within a year, and reduce the budget deficit from 44% to 5-6% of the GNP. (Sheila Marnie) CHECHEN-RUSSIAN DISENGAGEMENT ALMOST COMPLETE. Chechen and Russian forces each pulled back 8 kilometers from the disputed Chechnya-Ingushetia border on 17 November, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. This has led to some reduction in tension, but the Chechen Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement on 18 November claiming that Russian forces were still occupying part of Chechen territory, ITAR-TASS reported. The statement drew the attention of the world public to the explosive nature of this situation and declared that Russian troops should leave Chechnya and the whole of the Caucasus. (Ann Sheehy) SHAKHRAI ON NORTH OSSETIAN/INGUSH CONFLICT. At a press conference in Vladikavkaz on 18-November, Russian deputy premier Sergei Shakhrai who heads the provisional administration in North Ossetia and Ingushetia, said that 258 people including 11 military had died as a result of the conflict, and 580 had received serious gunshot wounds. The damage in the Prigorodnyi raion of North Ossetia was provisionally estimated at more than 11 billion rubles, and about 3,000 houses had been burnt or destroyed, ITAR-TASS reported. Shakhrai said that the situation was still not completely under control as illegal armed formations were still operating in the villages. At a press conference in Moscow on 17 November reported by Interfax and ITAR-TASS, spokesmen of the Civic Union put the blame for the situation in North Ossetia on the Russian government which still had no policy concept for the North Caucasus. They suggested that direct presidential rule should be introduced in the affected area. (Ann Sheehy) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE CZECHOSLOVAK PARLIAMENT FAILS TO PASS BILL ON THE ABOLITION OF FEDERATION. The Czechoslovak Federal Assembly failed on 18 November to approve legislation on the dissolution of the Czechoslovak federation on 1 January 1993. The bill had to be approved by a three-fifths majority in all three parts of the Federal Assembly-the House of the People, and the Czech and Slovak chambers of the House of Nations. CSTK reports that the bill gained the necessary majority in the House of the People and the Czech chamber of the House of Nations but failed by three votes in the Slovak chamber of the House of Nations. Passage was blocked by opposition deputies who demanded a retroactive "ratification referendum" on the split, to be held in December. Following the bill's defeat, the Federal Assembly elected a 12member committee charged with finding a compromise that would guarantee the bill's passage when the parliament votes again on 24 November. Both Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus and Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar have said that they will ask the republican parliaments to split the country, should the federal parliament fail to approve the separation bill. On 17 November both republican parliaments approved resolutions in which they recommended that the federal parliament approves the bill. (Jiri Pehe) WALESA RATIFIES SMALL CONSTITUTION. Polish President Lech Walesa ratified "the small constitution" on 17 November, barely one hour after the Constitutional Tribunal ruled that new parliamentary rules according to which it had been passed were not unconstitutional. The small constitution, which defines the division of powers between the president, the government, and the Sejm and gives the government special executive powers, replaces most of the provisions of the 1952 constitution, which has survived in a rump form since the end of 1989. It is to serve as an interim rump constitution until a new democratic constitution is passed. It might shortly be complemented by a Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms which, at Walesa's suggestion, could be incorporated into the new constitution. Addressing the Constitutional Commission of the General Assembly on 18 November, Walesa urged the lawmakers to "rise above party and personal differences" and to draft a constitution that would last into the 21st century, protect basic freedoms, ensure the rule of law and provide democratic controls. He declared his readiness to resign when the new constitution takes effect, according to PAP reports. Domestic observers believe the solution of the constitutional impasse will strengthen the government and help stabilize the political situation. (Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka) COALITION IN LITHUANIAN GOVERNMENT. Currently the major political question in Lithuania is the offer by the Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party (LDLP) to other parties to form a broad coalition in the government and the Seimas, Radio Lithuania reports. On 18 September LDLP chairman Algirdas Brazauskas met with parliament chairman Vytautas Landsbergis to discuss the principles of forming power in Lithuania, but no details of the talks have as yet been revealed. LDLP first deputy chairman Gediminas Kirkilas suggested that it is likely that four current ministers, including National Defense Minister Audrius Butkevicius, will be asked to remain. Another LDLP leader Nerijus Germanas said that only preliminary talks on appointments are being held. The radio's Russian service noted that many members of the LDLP presidium believe that the LDLP members will not necessarily make up the majority of the government. (Saulius Girnius) ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT DEBATES CABINET. Parliament debated on 18 November the make-up and program of the proposed cabinet of prime minister-designate Nicolae Vacaroiu. Opposition deputies criticized the presence in the new cabinet of several ministers who had served under Nicolae Ceausescu, including Dumitru Popescu, a former deputy electric power minister and Iulian Mincu, the nominee for health minister, who was involved in Ceausescu's so-called "scientific nourishment program." The nomination of another controversial figure, Vasile Mois, as minister for parliamentary relations was invalidated by a parliamentary commission, after which he withdrew his candidacy. The opposition also criticized Vacaroiu's governing program for proposing a slowdown in market-economy reforms. Vacaroiu defended his program against such accusations. More debates are expected today. (Dan Ionescu) LATVIAN ECONOMIC REFORMS MINISTER NOT APPROVED. On 17 November the Latvian Supreme Council voted 60 to 6 with 23 abstentions in favor of appointing former deputy finance minister Uldis Osis as the new minister for economic reforms, BNS reports. The vote, however, was one short of the required absolute majority of deputies. The major objections to Osis came from rural deputies who feel he lacks competence in agricultural issues. It is likely that his candidacy will be proposed again later this month. (Saulius Girnius) SERBS STEP UP ATTACKS ON BOSNIAN TOWNS. Western agencies reported on 18 November that Serbian forces have intensified shelling of several key Bosnian towns. These include Gradacac, Travnik, Bihac, and Maglaj, all of which remain under Muslim or Croatian control and which control important supply corridors. On 19 November the New York Times reported that NATO ambassadors agreed in Brussels the previous day to enforce the UN-authorized naval blockade of Serbia-Montenegro. The Atlantic alliance will coordinate its actions with the Western European Union and expects to have a detailed report on concrete measures ready on 20-November. The 19 November Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said that discussion is under way in Bonn over the terms of possible German participation in imposing the blockade. (Patrick Moore) WORLD FIGURES CALL FOR END TO "GENOCIDE" AGAINST MUSLIMS. Western agencies on 18 November said that former US Presidents Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, former US ambassador at the UN Jeane Kirkpatrick, and others issued a statement in Geneva warning that "the savagery can and must be stopped or the tragedy will spread far beyond Bosnia." Both Reagan and Thatcher were outspoken in 1991 in their support for Croatian and Slovenian independence. Meanwhile, Radio Croatia reported on 18 November that Slovenia has sent a message to all CSCE member states urging an end to the arms embargo on Bosnia, while Reuters quoted French foreign ministry officials as saying that France is calling for a meeting of foreign ministers to give "a new impulse" to international efforts to stop the fighting. Finally, Islamic states expressed anger on 18 November to the UN sanctions measures taken two days earlier. They regard the moves as too little and too late, and call for a tougher response to Serbian aggression. (Patrick Moore) REACTIONS TO THE SANCTIONS. Milan Panic, Prime Minister of the rump Yugoslavia described the new UN sanctions as "exaggerated" but said early elections, planned for late December, could lead to a lifting of them. Panic underscored that the latest UN decision only serves the political aims of Serbia's President Slobodan Milosevic, because "it unifies the Serbs in trouble." Federal foreign minister Ilija Djukic described the sanctions as "unjust," while Bosnia Serb leader Radovan Karadzic said the new sanctions will not bring peace to the region because it will only encourage the Bosnian Muslims and Croats to keep on fighting the Serbs. Yugoslav Transport Minister Milan Vujicic said the UN embargo on transport of oil, coal, and other products via Yugoslavia will place several thousand people out of work. Risto Nikovski, a Macedonian Foreign Ministry official, called the sanctions a disaster for Macedonia's energy-starved economy, and the director of Macedonian railroads said they will effectively halt all rail traffic between Macedonia and northern Europe. Radios Serbia and Croatia carried the reports on 17 November. (Milan Andrejevich) BULGARIA TO HALT OIL EXPORT TO FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLICS. On 18 November Bulgaria banned export of petroleum products to all former Yugoslav republics, Reuters reports. While Bulgarian trade officials said a ban appeared to be the only way of effectively enforcing the tightened UN embargo, the government may also be seeking to limit the damage done by widespread violations on the Bulgarian economy. The chairman of the national petroleum company told Western agencies that many Bulgarian gas stations can no longer be supplied due to the disappearance of some 1,000 railway cars in ex-Yugoslavia after delivering oil. Like Romania, Bulgaria has asked the UN for technical assistance to impose a naval blockade on the Danube. (Kjell Engelbrekt) MACEDONIAN ALBANIANS MIGHT SEEK DIVISION. The Guardian reports on 17 November that leaders of the Albanian minority in the Republic of Macedonia will be forced to declare western Macedonia autonomous if Albanians are not granted the same rights as Macedonians. Sami Ibrahimi, vice president of the Party for Democratic Prosperity, the main Albanian party in Macedonia, told the paper that his party will urge the EC to delay recognition of Macedonia until the republic's constitution is amended to grant Albanians the status of a nation. Ibrahimi added that if they are not so recognized, his party will have no option but to withdraw its representatives in parliament and government and demand partition. Ethnic Albanians make up between 20% and 40% of the republic's population, depending on whose figures are used. (Milan Andrejevich) ESTONIA FREEZES BANK ASSETS. On 17 November the Estonian Central Bank froze the accounts of three top commercial banks, BNS reports. The Estonian bank said the banks were mismanaged and did not have enough funds to pay depositors. An official of the Tartu Commercial Bank said the move is part of an attempt to blame all of Estonia's economic difficulties on "three unlucky banks." An official from the Union Baltic Bank, said the Central Bank failed to help it recover $40 million from Vneshekonombank, the former Soviet foreign trade bank, and that made his bank's failure inevitable. The third bank affected was the Northern Estonia Credit Union. Central Bank spokesman Kaja Kell told BNS on 18 November that the crackdown demonstrates Estonia is serious about banking reform. (Riina Kionka) ROMANIA, EC INITIAL ASSOCIATION ACCORD. On 17 November Romania and the European Community initialed an association agreement providing for closer trade, economic, and political ties. Western agencies reported that the accord had been initialed in Brussels by Romania's State Secretary for Trade and Tourism, Napoleon Pop, and EC external relations official Daniel Guggenbuhl. Differences between Romania and the EC on agriculture and an interim trade pact were resolved earlier this month. Romania is the fourth former Warsaw Pact member to sign an association accord with the EC, after Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary. The accord must be ratified by the Romanian and EC parliaments. Its trade provisions, however, will be in force before ratification. (Dan Ionescu) EC CALLS ON BULGARIA TO ACCEPT ASSOCIATION DEAL. Top EC officials visiting Sofia on 17-November called on Bulgaria to accept the proposed association deal and finalize an agreement by the end of 1992. Reuters quoted the head of the EC Commission's Foreign Affairs Directorate, Pablo Benavides, as saying that EC negotiators do not have much room to maneuver and that Bulgaria should consider dropping demands for greater trade access. The Bulgarian government is requesting bigger trade quotas for textiles, steel, and agricultural products. (Kjell Engelbrekt) EC IMPOSES DUTIES ON EAST EUROPEAN STEEL. A lobbying drive by hard-pressed West European steel makers ended up by raising import duties on Hungarian, Polish, Czechoslovak and Croatian steel. The new duties amount to between 10% and 30%, the Financial Times reported on 18 November. Steel imports by these countries jumped by 70% since March of last year, when quotas were dropped. According to an EC steel industry official, imports from Eastern Europe reached an 18% market share in 1992, up from 7.8% in 1988, and this constitutes dumping, undercutting Western prices by 25%. (Karoly Okolicsanyi) RUSSIA SAYS BALTIC PULLOUT UPSETS BALANCE OF POWER. A high Russian official believes that a Russian withdrawal from the Baltic States would alter the global political and military balance of power and says that NATO should compensate by withdrawing some of its own forces from "other regions." First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Shumeiko told BNS that in order to maintain global parity, troop withdrawals from the Baltic States should be followed by a NATO pullout. Shumeiko, who made the statement in connection with a Defense Ministry working group discussion on Baltic withdrawals on 18 November, did not specify the "other regions." (Riina Kionka) LUGAR VS. CARTER ON HUMAN RIGHTS. US Senator Richard Lugar told reporters on 18 November in Tallinn that former US president Jimmy Carter's remarks earlier this week on alleged human rights abuses in the Baltic States do not represent the views of the US government. Lugar, who is visiting Estonia this week, said former President Carter was on a private visit, and thus represented only himself. On 16 November, after visiting Russia and Kazakhstan-but not the Baltic States-Carter told Russia's Ostankino TV that the US is witnessing "violations of the rights of nonindigenous populations in Estonia and Latvia." BNS reported both statements. (Riina Kionka) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba & Charles Trumbull
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