|A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday. - Jonathan Swift|
No. 226, 24 November 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES OF THE USSR UKRAINE TO BE COMPENSATED FOR NUCLEAR WARHEADS. At a press conference on 23-November Senators Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar announced that Ukraine will receive financial compensation for dismantling its nuclear warheads. The US has already agreed to purchase up to five billion dollars worth of uranium from warheads dismantled in Russia, and Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan are also to be paid a share of the proceeds. Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk has been insisting that before Ukraine ratifies the START treaty it must receive assurances from the West that it will be provided both financial assistance for dismantling, and payment for the contents of the weapons. Both these conditions now appear to have been met, although the third condition, that the West provide security guarantees, has not. Nevertheless, these assurances may help speed the ratification of the START treaty. The news conference was reported by Western news agencies and Interfax. (John Lepingwell,) YELTSIN TO PROPOSE NEW ARMS CUTS. Senators Nunn and Lugar also reported that President Yeltsin had informed them that he plans to make new proposals for reductions in strategic nuclear arms in the near future. Yeltsin had suggested, in a post-election phone call to President-Elect Bill Clinton, that the US and Russia move forward on completing the draft of a START II treaty. According to Interfax, Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev stated during the press conference that Russia will consider the START treaty to be in force only after both the treaty and the Lisbon protocol have been ratified by all the CIS nuclear weapons states. (John Lepingwell) RUSSIA ASSUMES UKRAINIAN DEBT OBLIGATIONS. Russia and Ukraine negotiators have come to an agreement over payment of the $70-80 billion foreign debt of the former Soviet Union, Reuters and Interfax reported on 23 November. According to the agreement signed in Moscow on Monday, Russia will take over Ukraine's approximately 16% share of the debt in return for the latter renouncing its claim on debt owed to the former USSR by third world countries. The deal resembles those Russia made with the other members of the CIS, and it means that Russia now bears full responsibility for the debt. With the issue of liability greatly simplified, Russia and Western creditors may now be able to finalize a payments schedule over which they have been struggling for months. (Erik Whitlock) PREPARATIONS FOR RUSSIAN CONGRESS. Certain groups within the Civic Union and the parliamentary block "Russian Unity" (which is led by Sergei Baburin and whose membership includes numerous hardline opponents of the Yeltsin government) are discussing conditions under which they would support the government's economic program at the upcoming Congress, Vesti reported on 22 November. The two groups wish to support the joint economic program of Acting Prime Minister Egor Gaidar and the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, but they will also demand the replacement of State Secretary Gennadii Burbulis, Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, and deputy prime ministers Mikhail Poltoranin and Valerii Makharadze. Meanwhile, some communist deputies, including Sergei Baburin, claimed in an article in Sovetskaya Rossiya on 22 November that the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has infiltrated Russian politics. In response, presidential spokesman Vyachselav Kostikov called Baburin and his followers "political scum," according to Western and Russian news agencies on 23 November. (Alexander Rahr) YELTSIN MEETS WITH RUSSIAN HIGH COMMAND. Russian President Boris Yeltsin met with the Russian Ministry of Defense Collegium and the commanding officers of military districts, fleets, and other major units on 23 November. The meeting was also attended by Vice President Rutskoi and Ruslan Khasbulatov. In his address Yeltsin emphasized the military's role in ensuring state security and stability, singling out the recent events in North Ossetia as an example. Yeltsin declared his support for the military but noted that military reform must proceed rapidly to prevent disorder and loss of discipline. According to Yeltsin the Russian military will have been reduced by 200,000 troops by the end of 1992. Yeltsin also confirmed that the overall military budget will remain the same in 1993, although procurement will increase by 10%. The meeting appeared to be an attempt to solidify Yeltsin's support within the military in advance of the Congress of Peoples' Deputies meeting in December. The meeting was covered by Interfax and Western news agencies.(John Lepingwell) BURBULIS SUPPORTS CONCEPT OF "ASYMMETRICAL FEDERATION." State Secretary Gennadii Burbulis, who heads the Russian delegation in the negotiations with Tatarstan, said on 23 November that he supports the idea of an "asymmetrical federation," in which each subject of the Russian Federation exercises its powers in its own way, Interfax reported. Burbulis was speaking after a meeting of the Russian parliament's commission for constitutional structure and a working group of the Constitutional Commission that met to discuss the recently adopted Tatarstan constitution and the treaty delimiting powers between Tatarstan and Russia. Burbulis said he supported the compromise proposal put forward by Oleg Rumyantsev, secretary of the Constitutional Commission, calling for the Tatarstan parliament to bring the new constitution into conformity with the Russian constitution and at the same time appealing to the Russian Congress of People's Deputies to grant Tatarstan a higher status. (Ann Sheehy) CHUBAIS ON RUSSIAN CENTRAL BANK. Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais suggested in an interview with Interfax on 23 November that the government's fight to control inflation would only be successful if it gained control of Central Bank policies. The recent presidential decree making the chairman of the bank a member of the government was a move in that direction, Chubais said. He also warned that inflation was accelerating; November's rate would be higher than the 25% of October. The Ministry of the Economy has reported (Izvestiya on 17 November) a 28% inflation in October and predicted a 30% rise in food prices in November (Erik Whitlock) RUSSIANS' REACTION TO PRIVATIZATION VOUCHERS. About one quarter of the Russian population has now received privatization vouchers. Distribution of the vouchers began on 1-October. At the end of October, the Moscow polling organization VTsIOM polled 1,500 Russians to find out their attitudes toward the vouchers, according to Interfax and western press agencies on 23 November. The results of the poll showed that 58% of the respondents were not interested in investing in vouchers, and most planned to sell their vouchers for cash. Only 15% wanted to buy vouchers. The potential buyers tended to be under 25, male, and in good private or state sector jobs. Interest in buying vouchers was also markedly higher among those with salaries of over 10,000 rubles a month.(Sheila Marnie) CHECK ON NUCLEAR STRATEGIC FORCES. Radio Moscow on 20 November reported that the high command of the CIS Joint Armed Forces had been that week conducting checks on the units of the strategic forces deployed in Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine. The radio said that this was the first time that CIS high command had conducted such inspections. Their purpose was to check the training and daily routine of the strategic forces with an emphasis on nuclear safety and installation defense. (Doug Clarke) IRAN RECEIVES RUSSIAN SUB. On 23 November, Iran formally inducted into its navy a Kilo-class submarine sold to it by Russia in a deal initially made by the Soviet government. While the US government had protested the sale, and the Russian government appeared to waver on the issue, the sale quietly proceeded. A second submarine is under construction, and Iran has an option on a third, according to Western news agencies Interfax on 19 November reported that a payment dispute between Iran and Ukraine has prevented the delivery of support equipment for the submarine, but this does not appear to have prevented the formal transfer of the submarine. (John Lepingwell) RUSSIAN NAVY TO KEEP A WARSHIP IN THE GULF. Interfax on 23 November reported that it had learned from the Russian Defense Ministry that a second warship would be sent to the Persian Gulf when the destroyer presently on duty there ends its two-month tour in early December. The replacement, the Admiral Trebuts, is a Udaloy-class anti- submarine guided-missile destroyer and a sister-ship of the vessel now in the Gulf. The "high-ranking military official" in the ministry said that Kuwait and some other Persian Gulf countries had indicated they were looking at the possibility of expanded military cooperation with Russia. (Doug Clarke) CORRUPTION REPORTED AMONG HIGH-LEVEL RUSSIAN DEFENSE OFFICIALS. Air Forces Maj. General Vladimir Rodionov and his deputy, Colonel Georgii Iskrov, have been arrested by the military procuracy on corruption charges in the eastern military district, according to ITAR-TASS on 20 November. Rodionov, who was commander of a large military transport base in Ussuriisk, allegedly permitted the use of his planes for his own private profit. Meanwhile, the right-wing nationalist weekly Den (no. 45) has accused Russian Minister of Defense Pavel Grachev of exploiting his official position for personal business profit, in part through his co-ownership of a joint stock aviation enterprise called "Aviakon-Info." The weekly went on to assert that other Aviakon-Info owners included the chief of the information administration of the defense ministry, Valerii Manilov, the head of the state committee for civil defense, Sergei Shoigu, and the chairman of the Russian military-industrial association "Konversiya," Aleksandr Temerko. (Victor Yasmann) POLITICAL APATHY INVALIDATES 11 UKRAINIAN BY-ELECTIONS. The preliminary results about the 27 parliamentary by-elections held in Ukraine on 22 November, which Ukrainian TV has provided, reveal that in 11 of the constituencies the turnout was so low that the elections were invalid. New elections in ten of these constituencies have been scheduled for 6 December. The turnout was especially low in Kiev, where all three by-elections were invalid. Ukrainian Radio noted on 22 November that the difficult economic situation in Ukraine was having a considerable impact on public attitudes and that political apathy was on the rise. (Bohdan Nahaylo) FORTY-NINE INGUSH HOSTAGES HANDED OVER. Forty-nine Ingush hostages were handed over to Russian MVD troops and militia on 23 November, ITAR-TASS reported. There were no reports of the release of Ossetian hostages. Sergei Shakhrai, the Russian interim administrator in North Ossetia and Ingushetia, had said that the Russian military would act if all the hostages were not released by midnight. Shakhrai and the chairman of the North Ossetian parliament Akhsarbek Galazov flew to Moscow on 23 November, where Galazov is said to be intending to address the Russian parliament on the North Ossetian- Ingush conflict. The same day Chechnya strongly protested the planned construction of an airport for Ingushetia in Sunzha raion, ITAR-TASS reported. The statement, issued by the chairman of the Chechen parliament's committee for foreign affairs, Yusup Soslambekov, claimed that the planned site of the airport is on Chechen territory. (Ann Sheehy) SHEVARDNADZE CHRISTENED. In an interview on Tbilisi radio on 23 November Georgian Head of State Eduard Shevardnadze revealed that he had recently been christened and had received the church name of Georgii, ITAR-TASS reported. He would, however, continue to use the name Eduard for most purposes. Shevardnadze added that he now had an icon of the Virgin in his office. In the same interview Shevardnadze said he was very pleased with the first round of Georgian-Russian talks that had just ended, and hoped that the second round, due to start in Moscow on 7 December, would be even more successful. Shevardnadze said that the number of Russian troops in Georgia had been more than halved recently, but it was in Georgia's interest that Russian anti-aircraft and frontier units should remain. (Ann Sheehy) RUSSIAN ARMY CONSCRIPTING MOLDOVAN RESIDENTS. Marking the Russian Army's "Conscript Day," Lt. General Aleksandr Lebed, commander of Russia's 14th Army in eastern Moldova, addressed a festive gathering of local draftees just conscripted into the 14th Army, Dnestrovskaya pravda reported on 17 November. Flanked by "Dniester republic" officials, Lebed instructed the conscripts to defend the Russian homeland and peace on the Dniester. The "Dniester republic" military commissar, Colonel Aleksandr Moroz, told the conscripts that 80% of them will serve with the 14th Army and 20% with the "Dniester" forces. Basapress cited Moroz as announcing that 1,500 conscripts are being inducted this autumn, for a monthly salary of 3,000 to 4,000 rubles. The event represents the latest and clearest indication of a gradual fusing of the 14th Army and "Dniester" forces and of the Russian military's view of the "Dniester republic" as a defacto extension of Russia. (Vladimir Socor) RUSSIAN-MOLDOVAN TROOP NEGOTIATIONS IN IMPASSE. The third round of negotiations on the withdrawal of Russia's 14th Army from Moldova ended on 20 November in Chisinau without results, the Moldovan media reported. The Russian side proposed the "disbandment," rather than outright withdrawal, of some units on the left bank of the Dniester and the transfer of their assets to "local authorities," i.e. to the "Dniester republic." Chisinau, however, demanded that the units be withdrawn from Moldova, renewed its protest against the transfer of 14th Army equipment and personnel to the "Dniester" forces; and condemned the drafting of left-bank residents of Moldova for service with Russia's Army as a "gross violation of international law." The Russian chief delegate, Col. General Eduard Vorobev, was quoted as warning that disputed issues will ultimately be "settled by Russia on its own," which the Moldovan delegation termed "yet another demonstration of disrespect for Moldova's independence and territorial integrity." (Vladimir Socor) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE BLOCKADE HALTS SHIPS IN THE ADRIATIC. On 23 November, the first full day of the UN-authorized sea blockade of Serbia-Montenegro, Western warships stopped three merchant freighters, inspected their cargoes, and let them proceed after finding nothing suspicious. International media added that the UN has registered over 100 violations of its no-fly zone over Bosnia involving mainly Serbian but also some Croatian aircraft. Heavy Serbian pressure was reported against Bosnian and Croat-held Bosnian towns including Travnik, Gradacac, Brcko, and Tesanj. Travnik is under bombardment from Serb artillery on nearby Mt. Vlasic, while Austrian TV said that FROG missiles have been brought within range of Gradacac, although apparently not yet fired. Western agencies added that the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has suspended food aid to Serbs in eastern Bosnia until those Serbs permit long-delayed convoys to reach the Muslim towns of Gorazde and Srebrenica in the area. The 24 November International Herald Tribune reports that pop singer Michael Jackson has given $2.1 million to aid Bosnian children through his Heal the World Foundation and AmeriCares. Jackson's aid is expected in Bosnia next week. (Patrick Moore) GREECE MIGHT CLOSE BORDER WITH MACEDONIA. In a letter to the EC, Greek President Constantinos Karamanlis noted that Greece may be forced to close its border with the ex-Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to protect "its security and national dignity." He explained that such a move may happen if Macedonia's independence is recognized before that republic changes its name. Karamanlis describes as groundless the argument by some EC partners that recognition would prevent the spread of hostilities. he pointed out that recognition of Croatia and Slovenia did not solve the problem. He said that once the problem of recognition is resolved, Greece will provide Macedonia with political support and economic aid. Meanwhile, Greece lifted an effective ban on fuel supplies to Macedonia "for humanitarian reasons" on 22 November. Greek Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis told reporters on 23 November that Athens authorized the move after talks with the cochairmen of the Yugoslav peace conference, Lord Owen and Cyrus Vance. Greece halted all oil shipments from its northern port of Thessaloniki to Macedonia in early October. Foreign Minister Michalis Papakonstantinou said Greece could "not be held responsible if the oil is shipped elsewhere because there are no customs controls" between Macedonia and Serbia. Macedonia, which has been increasingly complaining of the devastating effect the Greek blockade has been having on its economy and ultimately upon its political stability. Radios Serbia and Macedonia carried the reports. (Milan Andrejevich) CROATIA ACCUSES SERBIA OF STEALING OIL. Croatia's major oil company INA has accused Serbia of "systematically pillaging" crude oil and natural gas from its oilfields in Serb-controlled eastern Croatia, where UN peacekeeping troops are stationed. According to Radio Croatia on 23 November, company officials estimate that 400 tons of crude oil were being taken daily from five of its wells in Slavonia, an area of Croatia seized by Serbs. The Serbian shipments were being carried out "right under the nose" of the UNPROFOR, which is supposed to keep a watch on the borders, the officials said, calling the smuggling a flagrant violation of UN sanctions against rump Yugoslavia. (Milan Andrejevich) NEW CZECH-SLOVAK AGREEMENTS. Czech and Slovak government leaders met in Bratislava on 23 November to discuss new draft agreements that will govern Czech-Slovak relations after the dissolution of Czechoslovakia on 1 January 1993, including an agreement on the division of army archives and an agreement on cooperation in defense matters. CTK reports that the leaders also signed nine agreements they had discussed two weeks ago. The two governments failed to agree on how to divide fixed property belonging to federal institutions. The Czech side insists that such property remain in the possession of the republic on which territory it is located--as stipulated by the 13 November constitutional law on the division of the federation's assets. Since such property in the Czech Republic amounts to more than double the property in the Slovak k republic, the Slovaks want financial compensation in addition, so that the division of such property reflects the 2:1 population ratio between the two republics. The issue will be discussed at the next meeting. (Jiri Pehe) SLOVAKIA STOPS WORK AT GABCIKOVO. CTK reports that Slovakia has complied with an agreement sponsored by the European Community and stopped work on the Gabcikovo hydroelectric dam project to enable an EC commission to study the environmental and social impact of the project. However, an official of the company that is building the dam said the stoppage might cause flooding, as the EC limitations do not allow work on an overflow channel that is designed to keep the reservoir from overflowing its banks. Czechoslovak and Hungarian representatives are to meet with EC representatives in Brussels on 27 November. (Jiri Pehe) HUNGARIAN RAIL WORKERS HOLD WARNING STRIKE. A two-hour warning strike was called on 23 November in order to press workers' demands for job security and higher wages. The strike was organized by five unions and involved about 25,000 workers on duty during the time of the strike. The stoppage affected 687 Hungarian locals and 19 international passenger trains. The strike followed weeks of negotiations between the rail unions and government. The government has refused to grant union demands for higher wages, fewer layoffs, and more financial help because freight traffic dropped by 50% and passenger traffic by 23% during the past three years, while the average pay doubled. The reports about the strike were carried on 23 November by MTI and Radio Budapest. (Judith Pataki) NEW ROMANIAN PREMIER MEETS THE PRESS. Nicolae Vacaroiu held his first press conference on 23 November, three days after his cabinet was sworn in. Radio Bucharest quoted him as saying that his government is preparing a long-term strategy for economic and social reforms. Vacaroiu disclosed that new cuts in subsidies for certain goods and services will take place soon, since, he argued, subsidies have been a perpetual source of embezzlement and corruption. He also pledged to promote foreign investments in Romania. On the other hand, Vacaroiu insisted on the need for increased state intervention in the economy. Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu, who also attended the conference, described closer ties with the European Community and NATO as the main aim of Romania's foreign policy. He called for intensifying efforts directed at improving Romania's image abroad. (Dan Ionescu) POLISH PEASANT PARTY FOR "THIRD WAY." The opposition party, a former communist satellite that reverted to prewar agrarian and national traditions in 1989, held its third congress on 21 and 22 November. The congress called for a "third way" of national development to harmonize economic and social goals and prevent "the absolute subordination of the human being to free-market mechanisms." Incumbent Waldemar Pawlak, interim prime minister during the June 1992 government crisis, was reelected chairman. Politicians of all parties praised Pawlak and offered to cooperate with his party, the third largest in the Sejm. (Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka) WALESA PROPOSES GOVERNMENT PLENIPOTENTIARY FOR WARSAW. President Lech Walesa has formally proposed the establishment of a government plenipotentiary to administer the eight local government councils in Warsaw from 1 January 1993 until the confusion reigning at present can be regulated by law, PAP reported on 23 November. Walesa's proposal is in line with the recommendations of the Warsaw voivod, a central government official. Elected councilors plan to defend their autonomy. (Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka) MIELEC STRIKE SUSPENDED. The strike in the crisis-ridden aviation plant in Mielec that has been continuing on and off since spring, 1992, was suspended on 23 November after Industry Minister Waclaw Niewiarowski came to Mielec in person and presented the government's proposals for the region, PAP said. As an area of structural unemployment, Mielec qualifies for special government aid. Labor unrest keeps breaking out because of the plant's inability to pay wages on schedule. (Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka) LOCAL COUNCIL ELECTIONS IN "POLISH" RAIONS OF LITHUANIA. On 22 November elections were held to the local councils in the Polish inhabited raions of Vilnius and Salcininkai that had been dissolved after the failed coup against Gorbachev in August 1991. The RFE/RL Lithuanian Service reports that due to a voter turnout of less than 50%, the elections were valid in only 18 of the 29 districts in Salcininkai and only 3 of 47 in Vilnius. A date for new elections has not been set, but they must be held within two months. In the meantime, direct rule will remain. (Saulius Girnius) LDLP CONTESTS FOUR SEATS. On 22 November the presidium of the Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party protested the decisions of the Main Election Commission in four single-mandate districts in the Seimas elections on 15 November. These were districts in which LDLP candidates who led in the preliminary results lost the elections, BNS reports. They will protest to the Lithuanian Supreme Court, claiming that the decisions of the Sajudis-dominated commission should be annulled. The LDLP still maintains a majority of 73 of the 141 deputies in the Seimas, which will hold its first session on 25 November. (Saulius Girnius) RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT PRESIDIUM APPROVES TREATY WITH LITHUANIA. On 23-November the presidium of the Russian Supreme Soviet approved the Russian- Lithuanian treaty on legal assistance, signed in July, and sent it to Parliament for ratification, ITAR-TASS reports. The treaty establishes the principle of mutual recognition and implementation of court decisions in the two countries. It also states that citizens of both countries enjoy equal legal protection in the other country and calls for both sides to provide assistance, including legal documents needed in criminal court cases.(Saulius Girnius) RUSSIA TO DISCUSS BALTIC HUMAN RIGHTS. The Human Rights Committee of the Russian Supreme Soviet has scheduled a discussion of human rights in Estonia and Latvia for 28 November, BNS reports. The discussion will involve committee members, representatives of several other parliamentary committees, and independent experts. The ambassadors from Estonia and Latvia have also be invited to participate. (Riina Kionka) LATVIAN IMMIGRATION DIRECTOR REGAINS JOB. Overturning the decision of lower courts, the Latvian Supreme Court ruled that Maris Plavnieks be restored to his former position as director of the Latvian Immigration and Citizenship Department, BNS reported on 21 November. Since Plavnieks' dismissal in May, in accordance with the demand of Minister of Justice Viktors Skudra, Viesturs Karnups had been serving as acting director of the department. (Dzintra Bungs) DINEVICS MEETS WITH CLINTON TEAM. While visiting the US, Latvian Minister of State Janis Dinevics discussed the necessity for a speedy and complete withdrawal of Russian troops from Latvia with UN officials and members of the transition team of US President-elect Bill Clinton. Dinevics told Diena of 21 November that the discussions had been positive and that the next round of Latvian-Russian talks might possibly take place even before the Congress of People's Deputies, which is to convene on 1 December. (Dzintra Bungs) JURKANS TO ESTABLISH WELFARE FUND. On 19 November Janis Jurkans, Latvia's former minister of foreign affairs, announced that he is establishing a foundation to warm and feed Latvia's population, BNS reports. The foundation, also backed by former economics minister Janis Aboltins, deputy Vladlen Dozortsev, and Minister of Internal Affairs Ziedonis Cevers, awaits financial backing from businessmen in Latvia and hopes to receive support also from abroad. It is expected that Jurkans will use the foundation as a way to resume his political activity in Latvia. (Dzintra Bungs) A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME. The Estonian Communist Party is considering changing its name, BNS reports on 23 November. In a recent poll conducted among party members, over 90% favored a name change. The ECP is scheduled to discuss the name change and a number of other issues--including party reform, a new platform and preparations for the upcoming congress--at a central committee plenum on 24 November. In September's parliamentary elections, the ECP-backed election coalition Left Opportunity failed to clear the 5% barrier (of the national vote) needed to win representation in parliament. (Riina Kionka) UNEMPLOYMENT IN CZECHOSLOVAKIA DROPS. The Federal Statistical Office announced on 23 November that the unemployment rate in Czechoslovakia was 5% at the end of October--a drop of more than 2% in comparison with January 1992. The unemployment rate in the Czech Republic stood at 2.5% in October, while in Slovakia it was 10.4%. In January the unemployment rate in the Czech republic was almost 4% and in Slovakia almost 13%. (Jiri Pehe) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba & Charles Trumbull
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