|We are all apt to believe what the world believes about us. - George Eliot|
No. 227, 25 November 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR YELTSIN AND VOLSKY REACH ACCORD. First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Shumeiko said that President Boris Yeltsin has reached a compromise with the Civic Union on a joint economic program, Interfax reported on 24 November. The program reportedly includes subsidies to state owned enterprises-a major demand of the Civic Union. Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais said that the new program and the support it will draw from the Civic Union deputies will enable the government to survive at the upcoming Congress. ITAR-TASS on 23 November quoted Yeltsin as saying that he may convene another meeting with Civic Union leaders before the beginning of the Congress. (Alexander Rahr) RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT AND INDUSTRIALISTS MERGE PROGRAMS. A group of economists representing the Russian government and the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (the Civic Union) have produced a compromise anti-crisis program effective for the next six months, according to various Western news agencies on 24-November. Details on specific policies were not available, but the program reportedly envisages more emphasis on stabilizing production and living standards than original government reform plans. Concessions made by the Industrialists include abandoning their insistence on wage and price freezes and retreating from their demand for a return to centralized distribution of some commodities. The compromise program also advocates higher interest rates on bank deposits, limited government spending on defense and agriculture, and support for small business. (Erik Whitlock) CIVIC UNION SPLITS. The Civic Union seems to be heading toward a serious split on the eve of the Congress. Whereas the main leader of the Civic Union, Arkadii Volsky, has worked out a compromise with the government on future economic reform, other Civic Union leaders, including Aleksandr Vladislavlev and Nikolai Travkin, have conducted separate talks with hardliners from the faction "Russian Unity" and with members of the National Salvation Front, prohibited by a previous Yeltsin decree, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 24 November. Although Vladislavlev and Travkin disagreed with hardliners on the need to impeach Yeltsin, they made clear that they would support the hardliners' proposal for a no-confidence vote in the government if Yeltsin does not fire some of his senior ministers. (Alexander Rahr) UKRAINIAN CENTRAL BANK CHIEF SACKED. Vadim Hetman, the director of the Ukrainian central bank, was fired on 23 November by the new Ukrainian prime minister, Leonid Kuchma, Western agencies have reported. According to Reuters of 24-November, the decision to replace Hetman was made because he "didn't follow the orders of the new prime minister, especially in economic relations with Russia." The two had apparently disagreed over how to settle payments between Ukraine and Russia after Kiev abandoned the ruble earlier this month. Hetman's successor is reported to be his former deputy, Boris Markov. (Bohdan Nahaylo) YELTSIN SEEKS COMPROMISE. In planning his strategy for testimony before the upcoming Congress of People's Deputies, President Yeltsin said that in order to reduce attacks on Acting Prime Minister Egor Gaidar-who was originally scheduled to make the initial presentation-he [Yeltsin] and the speaker of parliament, Ruslan Khasbulatov, may also provide opening testimony. ITAR-TASS on 23 November quoted the Russian president as saying that he will probably have to sacrifice some ministers but that he will preserve the overall momentum of the reform program. Yeltsin again called for a "ceasefire" between the executive and legislative branches for a period of 12 to 18 months, during which stabilization should be achieved. Khasbulatov warned Yeltsin in Nezavisimaya gazeta on 24 November that the introduction of presidential rule without consulting the parliament would constitute a coup d'etat. (Alexander Rahr) KHASBULATOV FOR EXTENSION OF YELTSIN'S POWERS. Parliamentary speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov said that he will support the extension of President Yeltsin's special powers for another year on the condition that the president signs the law on the government, which gives parliament the right to approve or reject ministerial appointments, Interfax reported on 24-November. Nikolai Travkin, one of the leaders of the Civic Union, continues to criticize the current government. He told The Independent on 25 November that Russia needed a "more capable person as prime minister than Gaidar." The "ideologist" of the Civic Union, Vasilii Lipitsky, said that despite the agreement on the economic program, the Civic Union insists on personnel changes in the cabinet. (Alexander Rahr) KOZYREV SAYS CIS SUMMIT POSTPONED UNTIL 8 DECEMBER. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev told an Interfax correspondent that he knew nothing of a postponement of the summit of CIS heads of state from 4 December to 18 December. According to Kozyrev, Russia agreed to the summit being postponed until 8 December, that is, until immediately after the Russian Congress of People's Deputies. (Ann Sheehy) YAKOVLEV DISMISSED FROM OSTANKINO OVER CAUCASUS REPORTING. Liberal journalist Egor Yakovlev has been dismissed as chairman of the Ostankino Russian TV and Radio Broadcasting Company, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 November. President Yeltsin's decree explaining the dismissal accused Ostankino of violating the Russian president's order on "restraining the dissemination of information on the situation in North Ossetian and Ingush Republics." Commenting on his dismissal, Yakovlev said that it was apparently prompted by Ostankino's broadcast of a documentary film about the Ingush- Ossetian conflict. Western and Russian agencies quoted him as saying that "the film tells of the tragedy of Ingushetia, of the terrible mistake of making all mass media adopt a pro- Ossetian position." Ostankino's main news program said that the chairman of the North Ossetian parliament, Akhsarbek Galazov, had demanded Yakovlev's ouster. (Vera Tolz) EMERGENCY IN NORTH OSSETIA AND INGUSHETIA TO BE EXTENDED? At their first session on 24 November, members of the newly created consultative Council of Heads of the Republics almost unanimously called for an extension of the state of emergency in the North Ossetia and Ingushetia, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. Sergei Shakhrai, head of the provisional administration in the conflict area, said that the situation remain difficult, and there could be no guarantee that there would not be more bloodshed. He named the large number of hostages, refugees and uncontrolled weapons as particular problems. So far, 33,000 Ingush refugees have been registered, which is equivalent to 89-percent of the Ingush population of North Ossetia prior to the recent armed conflict. Yeltsin announced that he is sending an additional regiment of MVD internal troops to the area. (Ann Sheehy) FIRST SESSION OF COUNCIL OF HEADS OF RUSSIAN REPUBLICS. During the session on 24-November, the Council of Heads of the Republics of the Russian Federation included on its agenda working out a mechanism for implementing the Federal Treaty, reaching agreement on the 1993 Russian budget, and dealing with the situation in the North Caucasus, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. It was decided to set up a working group to draft ways of implementing the Federal Treaty, and all the members of the council except the president of Tatarstan agreed that the treaty should be incorporated in the new Russian constitution. The council also approved unanimously the 1993 Russian budget which Yeltsin said aimed at accelerated development of the regions. (Ann Sheehy) YELTSIN DEFENDS CREATION OF COUNCIL. At the meeting President Yeltsin noted that the creation of the council had met with a mixed reaction, but he considered it was a fully legitimate institution, since the collective opinion of the heads of the republics on complex issues was needed. By way of defusing some of the criticism of the creation of the council, Yeltsin suggested that Anatolii Tyazhlov, chairman of the recently formed Council of the Heads of Administration of the Krais and Oblasts of Russia, be made a member of the council, and this was accepted. (Ann Sheehy) COCOM TO RELAX RESTRICTIONS. The Coordinating Committee (COCOM) for establishing export controls on Western technology to the former East bloc has revised its regulations, Reuters reported on 24 November. Countries currently subject to restrictions may apply for exemptions for next year if they apply by year-end 1992 and pledge specifically not to re-export or use sensitive technology for military purposes. It is not clear, however, how far COCOM is now willing to relax restrictions; it is still insisting that it will make judgments on a country-by-country basis. Although there has been some relaxation over the last few years, COCOM technology embargoes still handicap significant projects in the region, including the Trans-Siberian fiber optic communications line. (Erik Whitlock) WORLD BANK LOAN TO HELP RUSSIA CREATE SOCIAL SAFETY NET. The World Bank has approved a $70 million loan to help Russia create a social safety net to deal in particular with the problem of mass unemployment, which is expected to come to the fore in the next two years, according to Reuters on 24 November. The Bank is forecasting four million unemployed in 1993, and 10 million in 1994. The loan is to be used to develop the administrative capacity for processing benefit claims, to improve labor market monitoring, to develop the state employment service network, to draw up special programs to deal with mass lay-offs, to create retraining programs, and to improve the administration of the pension system. It follows a previous loan of $600-million granted by the World Bank to help with other aspects of the reform process, and a third loan is expected to be forthcoming to help with the privatization program. (Sheila Marnie & Robert Lyle) RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS VIEW OIL PROSPECTS. Deputy Energy Minister Andrei Konoplyanik told a news conference in Moscow on 24-November that existing taxes for companies operating in the Russian oil industry may be discouraging foreign investment in the sector, Western agencies reported. The admission confirms what Western firms have been complaining of for some time. Another Ministry official, Viktor Ott, at the same conference said that present oil export levels to non-CIS states would be maintained next year. Ott's comments implied that CIS trading partners would bear the brunt of supply cuts in the face of declining Russian exportable oil output. (Erik Whitlock) REPORTS DETAIL RUSSIAN NAVY'S RADIOACTIVE WASTE. The American ABC television network reported on 24 November that the former Soviet Navy had dumped more than 11,000 containers of solid radioactive waste and barrels filled with 43 million gallons of liquid radioactive waste at a total of 12-ocean sites over the years. The international environmental organization Greenpeace charged that the Russian Navy was continuing to dump radioactive waste in the Pacific Ocean and Arctic waters. As reported by Reuters, Greenpeace said that Russia's Northern Fleet was dumping up to 10,000 cubic meters of liquid and 2,000 cubic meters of solid radioactive waste at sea each year. (Doug Clarke) MORE INFORMATION ON SUNKEN SOVIET SUBMARINES RELEASED. On 23-November, ABC-TV reported that a recent examination of the sunken Soviet submarine Komsomolets discovered that some radioactive cesium-137 was apparently leaking from the reactor core. The report also quoted a Soviet submarine designer who warned that plutonium from the sub's nuclear-armed torpedoes might also leak over time. French TV reported on 24 November that one of the Soviet submarines lost at sea had sunk some 500 miles (800 km) off the Brittany port of Brest. The sub, which reportedly sank in 1970, was apparently carrying nuclear arms but was not nuclear powered. (John Lepingwell and Doug Clarke) DO SUNKEN SOVIET SUBS POSE A RADIATION HAZARD? The New York Times on 24-November reported that Russian authorities in negotiations with scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute had revealed the location of four sunken nuclear submarines as well as the resting places of decommissioned naval nuclear reactors and nuclear materials that were dumped at sea. The article noted, however, that the reactors and their fuel were well protected against leakage, and that the risk of plutonium leakage from nuclear weapons was also very small. On 25 November, the New York Times reported that earlier in 1992 the Russian government had asked the US to help raise the Komsomolets, but that the US declined because of fears that the submarine could break apart during the operation and release even greater quantities of radioactive material. According to Reuters on 24 November, the Norwegian government has also characterized the danger of radioactive leakage from the Komsomolets as small at present. (John Lepingwell) EFFECTS OF DUSHANBE BLOCKADE. Tajikistan's Prime Minister Abdumalik Abdulladzhanov told the Tajik Supreme Soviet on 24 November that the blockade of the railway from Uzbekistan to Dushanbe by warring factions has resulted in the exhaustion of food supplies in the capital and the cutting off of gas and hot water, Interfax reported. Schools are closed and industrial enterprises and city transport are barely functioning. Abdullodzhanov proposed that the Russian division stationed in Tajikistan be asked to assume control of the railway. ITAR-TASS reported that fighting was continuing in various places; Acting President Imomali Rakhmonov told Interfax that he is prepared for any compromise that will end the civil war, and plans to meet with the leaders of opposing armed groups to seek a settlement. (Bess Brown) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE BALKAN CONFERENCE IN TURKEY. International media report on 24 November that a Balkan conference on the crisis in Bosnia-Herzegovina will convene 25-November in Istanbul. The conference will be at the foreign-minister level and will include discussion on ways to prevent the spread of the conflict to the Sandzak, Kosovo, and Macedonia. Turkish Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel said 10-countries are expected: Austria, Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Macedonia, Romania, Slovenia, and Turkey. Greece refuses to attend and Serbia was not invited. Demirel did not comment on what action might be decided on at the conference, but warned that neighbors of the former Yugoslavia must act "to extinguish the fires" in Bosnia. An RFE/RL correspondent in Brussels reports that the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry has called for an urgent meeting of the international conference on the former Yugoslavia. (Milan Andrejevich) SERBS CRITICIZE ISTANBUL CONFERENCE. Radio Serbia reports on 24-November that Ilija Djukic, foreign minister of the rump Yugoslavia, said Serbia-Montenegro, if invited, would not attend the conference because it was hastily convened and held outside the framework of the Geneva Conference. Radovan Karadzic, leader of the Bosnian Serbs described the conference as a "a farcical repeat" of late 19th and early 20th century history because the Serbia and Montenegro's position is not taken seriously by the international community, Sandzak and Kosovo are again being treated as lying within Turkey's sphere of interest, and Turkish and Austro-Hungarian Empire interests have always overlapped in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Karadzic added that Turkey and Austria are meddling in the affairs of the region and warned that Serbs "will not surrender" to any internal or external influences. On 23 November the commander of the Bosnian Serb army, Gen. Ratko Mladic, told Radio and TV Serbia that he is not afraid of foreign military intervention in Bosnia: Anyone who wished to do so "could come to former Bosnia-Herzegovina-but how they would leave is a different question." (Milan Andrejevich) ZHELEV SAYS HANDS OFF MACEDONIA. In an interview published in Bulgarian and Macedonian dailies on 24 November, Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev urged all Balkan states to stay out of the ex-Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in case of conflict there. Repeating Bulgaria's official position, Zhelev said the best methods of ensuring stability in the region were to recognize Macedonian sovereignty and to strengthen the UN presence. He rejected the idea of sending Bulgarian forces or weapons into any part of former Yugoslavia and refuted allegations of a tacit agreement among Bulgaria, Greece, and Serbia to partition Macedonia. (Kjell Engelbrekt) OIC PUSHES FOR MILITARY INTERVENTION IN BOSNIA. The Organization of the Islamic Conference will push for military intervention in Bosnia-Herzegovina at its foreign ministers' conference in Jidda on 1-2 December, according to OIC Secretary-General Hamid Algabid. He told a press conference that the OIC will likely urge the UN to lift its embargo on "defensive arms" for Bosnia. Several IOC members, he said, are prepared for "military intervention .-.-. within the framework of international law in the event such measures prove ineffective." Islamic countries seek "a balance between the warring parties and the possibility for the Muslim population to defend itself" against the Serbs, Algabid said. Radio Croatia carried the report on 24-November. (Milan Andrejevich) FIRST SESSION OF SEIMAS. At noon, 25 November, the oldest deputy of the Seimas, 82-year-old Juozas Bulavas, will open the first session of the new Lithuanian parliament. He did the same in March 1990, when he was the head of the Main Election Commission. Majority Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party chairman Algirdas Brazauskas will be elected as Seimas chairman. The election of his deputy or deputies is unclear since the new constitution does not say how many there should be. It is likely that LDLP member Ceslovas Jursenas will be his first deputy; another deputy is rumored to be Egidijus Bickauskas, charge d'affaires in Moscow and a member of the Center Movement. Previous parliament chairman Vytautas Landsbergis, who was thought to have been offered the post, said in an interview in Lietuvos aidas, that it would be difficult to accept since the LDLP had based its campaign on contempt for his work, the RFE/RL Lithuanian Service reports. (Saulius Girnius) PARLIAMENTS APPROVE CZECH-SLOVAK AGREEMENTS. On 24 November the Czech parliament approved 15 and the Slovak parliament 16-treaties that will govern relations between the Czech Republic and Slovakia after the dissolution of Czechoslovakia on 1-January 1993 and the treaties go into effect. More than 30-treaties have been drafted by Czech and Slovak government leaders in the past month. One that was approved on 24-November by both parliaments was a treaty on monetary arrangements, which stipulates that both republics maintain the common currency after the split. A deputy of the Slovak parliament told CTK after the vote, however, that it may be in the interest of Slovakia to cancel the treaty soon, as "there is not enough money in the Slovak banks" to meet the provisions of the treaty. The deputy warned that should Slovakia not be able to increase its exports or obtain hard currency loans it will have to devaluate its currency. (Jiri Pehe) POLAND, IMF AGREE LETTER OF INTENT. Poland and the IMF agreed the terms of a letter of intent valid until March, 1994, PAP reported on 24 November. Poland is to receive $700-million, provided it keeps its budgetary deficit to 5% of GNP, brings inflation down to 32%, and succeeds in activating state-owned industrial enterprises. Progress will be verified quarterly. A standby arrangement replaces the three-year extended fund facility that was originally negotiated in 1991. That agreement was broken off because Poland was unable to stay within the negotiated budget deficit and inflation figures. Finance Minister Jerzy Osiatynski claims that the draft 1993 budget is more realistic in its estimates of state income than were previous budgets. The IMF agreement, if approved, will enable Poland to try to use a $1 billion stabilization fund to restructure the banking system. (Anna Sabbat- Swidlicka) POLISH GENERALS FACE COMMISSION. Four generals, members of the Military Council of National Salvation, which imposed martial law on Poland on 13-December 1981 and interned 9,786 Solidarity and democratic opposition activists, appeared before the Sejm's Constitutional Responsibility Commission on 24-November. RFE/RL's Polish Service said they refused to answer questions but delivered statements reiterating old arguments and taking offense at the charges made against them. The commission will determine whether they are to be brought before the State Tribunal. Another special commission is examining the human and economic costs of martial law. (Anna Sabbat- Swidlicka) HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT DISCUSSES UNION ACCORD. On 23 November Finance Minister Mihaly Kupa presented in parliament the agreement reached by members of the Interests Reconciliation Council during the weekend. The council consists of representatives of the major trade unions, employers, and the government. The trade unions threatened to strike if no agreement were reached. Intense negotiations produced a comprehensive package deal that, among other things, raises contributions to the unemployment fund but shortens the period over which benefits can be drawn. The new agreement defines the minimum wage at 9,000 forint per month and raises the age limit for female pensioners gradually after 1995. Major changes were approved in a bill on dual-tier taxation, and the government agreed to withdraw its proposal concerning trade-union elections and the division of the assets of the former communist trade union. A new union law based on an agreement between the major trade unions will be submitted to parliament by 10-December instead. Radio Budapest reported the agreement. (Judith Pataki) VACAROIU ON UNEMPLOYMENT IN ROMANIA. Sources in the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare estimated on 23 November that the number of the officially recorded unemployed has reached 970,000, Rompres says. The figure is expected to jump to over one million in the next few weeks. Requested to comment, Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu said that the number of unemployed should not exceed 6-7% of the active labor force, that is to say about 700,000 persons. Vacaroiu said he is optimistic about reducing the number of job-seekers by absorbing them into underdeveloped sectors of the economy such as services, cooperative associations, trade, and tourism. (Michael Shafir) ILIESCU IN FRANCE. Romanian President Ion Iliescu paid a one-day visit to Paris on 24-November, local and international media report. Accompanied by the new foreign minister, Teodor Melescanu, he was received by President Fran¨ois Mitterrand and Senate President Rene Monory, and conducted talks with French businessmen. Romanian radio and TV presented the trip as if it were a state visit, but Reuters said French officials said the meeting with Mitterrand was simply a "courtesy call" on Iliescu's initiative and that as far as they knew, the main reason for the visit was to attend a symposium in Paris on the development of the Black Sea. Iliescu did not attend the symposium. (Michael Shafir). G-24 CONCLUDES RIGA MEETING. Representatives of the G-24 countries and the Baltic States concluded a two-week meeting in Riga on 24 November, BNS reported. Both Latvian and Estonian leaders commended the participants on how well informed they were about the economic situation of the Baltic States. Among the issues discussed were ways to aid Baltic economic development. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIAN LEGISLATORS ON PARFENOV. The Latvian Supreme Council adopted a text in response to a request of the Russian Supreme Soviet asking that the deputy commander of the OMON branch in Riga, Sergei Parfenov, be returned to Russia. The answer points out that Parfenov, who is being tried for abuse of power in Riga, cannot be allowed to leave Latvia until the court reaches a verdict. A similar response was also given by Latvia's head of state and Supreme Council Chairman Anatolijs Gorbunovs to the Russian authorities who had made similar requests, Radio Riga and BNS reported on 24 November. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIA TO CUT POWER TO RUSSIAN EARLY WARNING RADAR. According to a 24-November BALTFAX report, the Kuldiga regional council in Latvia has decided to stop supplying electricity to the Skrunda ballistic missile early warning station. The report claims that electricity has already been cut off to the station for three days, and that the cutoff will be permanent unless the commanders of the radar station negotiate with regional authorities over the transfer of the station. The Russian chief engineer of the station reportedly knew nothing of the decision, however. This station has been an item of contention in troop-withdrawal negotiations. Russia seeks to maintain the integrity of its early warning system, while Latvia wants the station closed. (John Lepingwell) UNESCO PROGRAMS IN LITHUANIA. Alfredas Josmantas, the secretary-general of the Lithuanian commission of UNESCO, said that body has agreed to finance eight of the ten programs he proposed, BNS reported on 24 November. Included are creation of a TV information center ($30,000), a program for preservation of traditional culture and folklore ($10,000), reorganization of the national library in Vilnius ($24,700), and an information program for education ($30,000). Josmantas noted that as a member of UNESCO Lithuania will have to pay the membership fee, but since it still does not have its own currency, the issue is still under discussion in UNESCO. (Saulius Girnius) HUNGARIAN TANKS DESTROYED. MTI reports on 24 November that the dismantling of 510-T-34 and other tanks has started in a machine factory in Godollo, near Budapest. The action is taken in accordance with the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty signed in Vienna in 1990 by 16 NATO countries and five members of the Warsaw Pact, including Hungary. An international delegation was present at the factory to make sure the tanks cannot be reassembled. (Judith Pataki) NICU CEAUSESCU SET FREE. The son of Romania's executed dictator and the former first secretary of the Romanian Communist Party in Sibiu County was paroled for health reasons and left the Jilava jail near Bucharest accompanied by members of his family, Radio Bucharest reported on 24 November. Ceausescu had been serving a five-year sentence for illegal port of firearms. Earlier, the younger Ceausescu had received a 20-year sentence for being an accomplice to genocide in connection with his having ordered opening fire on demonstrators against his father's regime in December 1989. This sentence was first reduced to 16 years and later lifted completely. (Michael Shafir). LATVIAN LUTHERAN ARCHBISHOP DEAD. Head of the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church, Archbishop Karlis Gailitis, died in a car crash on 22-November. Gailitis, 56, had been driving to a church service in Sabile to mark All Souls' Day, Radio Riga reports. (Dzintra Bungs) NOTICE: The RFE/RL Daily Report will not appear 26 November, which is a public holiday. [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba & Charles Trumbull
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