|History is made out of the failures and heroism of each insignificant moment. - Franz Kafka|
No. 228, 27 November 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR HEADS ROLL IN RUSSIAN CABINET. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Mikhail Poltoranin has resigned, as he said, "in order to protect the president from mounting attacks from an opposition bent on revenge," ITAR-TASS reported on 25 November. Russian President Boris Yeltsin also abolished the position of State Secretary, and named Gennadii Burbulis, who had held that position, to head a newly created group of presidential advisers, ITAR-TASS reported on 26 November. Poltoranin told Ekho Moskvy on that day that Yeltsin is also thinking about replacing Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev; however, ITAR-TASS reported that Kozyrev denied on the same day that he was going to resign. The resignations of Poltoranin, Burbulis and Kozyrev, the most radical-reformist politicians in Russia, has been demanded by the centrist Civic Union as a condition for its supporting Yeltsin at the upcoming Congress of People's Deputies. (Alexander Rahr) CIVIC UNION REVERSES POSITION, DROPS SUPPORT FOR GAIDAR. While President Yeltsin was meeting Civic Union demands for changes in the cabinet, the Civic Union suddenly departed from an accord reached earlier with Acting Prime Minister Egor Gaidar, saying that it will not back the government's economic program, ITAR-TASS stated on 26-November. The leader of the Civic Union, Arkadii Volsky, complained that the program which Gaidar presented to the parliament was not identical to the program worked out by the government and the Civic Union previously. Gaidar made clear that the government had adopted "the most practical points" made by the Civic Union, but would not compromise on several other points. (Alexander Rahr) GAIDAR PRESENTS ANTI-CRISIS PROGRAM. The economic program Gaidar presented to parliament shows little evidence of compromise with the more conservative economic policies of the Civic Union. Although promising additional limited support to industry, Gaidar stressed that the government would not accede to key aspects of the industrialists' positions: wage and price freezes, centralized state allocation of important commodities, more expansionary fiscal and monetary policies, and fixing the ruble at an artificially high rate of exchange with foreign currencies. Gaidar was more vague concerning what support the government was willing grant to industry, but it included tax incentives, long-term credit for investment, and measures to promote exports as well as some limited subsidies to critically troubled enterprises, according to Russian and Western news sources. (Erik Whitlock) RUTSKOI, KHASBULATOV MANEUVER FOR POWER ON EVE OF CONGRESS. Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi said that a power struggle within the Yeltsin administration has hindered reform, according to Interfax on 25 November. He stressed that Russia needed a "normal team that would not struggle to [gain] influence with the president but would be busy with real deeds." Rutskoi claimed that the Civic Union is the "only political force that can ensure transformations necessary to society." Meanwhile, parliamentary speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov told President Yeltsin that he could ensure Congress' support for reform if Yeltsin grants him more power. Khasbulatov indicated that he wants to be included in the Security Council, Izvestiya reported on 26-November.(Alexander Rahr) YELTSIN, BURBULIS, CONSERVATIVES REACT TO CHANGES. President Yeltsin said that the government changes so far have been done according to plan and not under pressure from conservative forces, ITAR-TASS reported on 26 November. Gennadii Burbulis told Ekaterinburg TV on the same day that he will continue to support Yeltsin in his efforts to eliminate the totalitarian thinking still present in Russia. Conservatives were dissatisfied with Yeltsin's shift of Burbulis from the position of State Secretary to that of head of Yeltsin's advisory council. The leader of the Christian Democrats, Viktor Aksyuchits, called the move "more of Yeltsin's intrigues." The head of the banned National Salvation Front, Ilya Konstantinov, said the move was "insufficient." (Alexander Rahr) MALASHENKO APPOINTED ACTING HEAD OF OSTANKINO. Egor Yakovlev's first deputy at the Ostankino Radio and TV Broadcasting Company, Igor Malashenko, has been appointed acting chairman of the company following Yakovlev's dismissal, ITAR-TASS reported on 25-November. In the past, Malashenko was an official at the CPSU Central Committee apparatus, but his colleagues from Ostankino have characterized his performance at Ostankino as positive. Meanwhile, the Moscow Union of Journalists urged the Russian president to withdraw his decree on Yakovlev's dismissal. The union also called for the reinstatement of Mikhail Poltoranin as minister of information. On 25 November, the People's Party of Free Russia, led by Vice President Rutskoi, issued a protest against the dismissal of Yakovlev. This party is a member of the Civic Union, which, while supporting Yakovlev, has demanded the ouster of Poltoranin. (Vera Tolz) US TEMPORARILY SUSPENDS FOOD EXPORT PROGRAM. On 24 November the U.S. Agriculture Department suspended for the first time Russia's credit guarantees which allow it to borrow from commercial banks to purchase food imports from the United States, according to Reuters and the Wall Street Journal on 25 November. Credit rights were suspended due to Russia's failure to fulfill repayment obligations on time, but were re- established on Wednesday after the late payments finally came through. The US Agriculture Department has a program providing five billion dollars in credit guarantees for commercial bank loans to Russia, and this was the first time that Russia had defaulted on payment. Russia failed to pay 10.9 million dollars due on 13-November to four banking institutions, and is due to pay another $10 million this week. Russia has had trouble recently in paying on time for food imports from Canada and Europe, but will clearly have to rely on credits for some time, since its agricultural sector is still in chaos. (Sheila Marnie & Robert Lyle) GAIDAR SUGGESTS RUSSIA MAY LEAVE RUBLE ZONE. In his speech to parliament on 26-November Prime Minister Gaidar announced that Russia may establish exchange rates between the Russian ruble and the ruble used in other CIS states. The move implies the creation of a new Russian currency and the end of Russia's membership in the ruble zone. Gaidar said the action may be necessary to gain adequate independence from the economic policies of other countries in the zone. He hinted that the new exchange rates may be introduced as early as 1-January. (Erik Whitlock) UKRAINE TO DELAY START RATIFICATION? The speaker of the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet, Leonid Plyushch, at a news conference on 25 November, apparently contradicted President Kravchuk's recent assurances to visiting US senators that Ukraine would ratify the START treaty by January. Plyushch warned that the process could be delayed because of the lengthy documentation that parliamentarians needed to study before voting. Furthermore, Plyushch called for Ukrainian control over the dismantling process, more concrete information and assurances from the US concerning aid for the dismantling, and raised questions concerning security guarantees. These conditions, if insisted upon, could further delay and complicate the ratification process. Plyushch's remarks were reported by Western news agencies. (John Lepingwell) LATEST SQUABBLES OVER BLACK SEA FLEET. Ukraine has protested to Russia that the Russian defense ministry has promoted three senior officers in the former Soviet Black Sea Fleet, and charged that Russians have been "pilfering" and selling-off the fleet's assets. As reported by Interfax on 26 November, the Ukrainians regard the promotions as a direct violation of the Yalta agreement wherein the presidents of Russia and Ukraine agreed to share control of the fleet. The Ukrainian foreign ministry made an official protest to its Russian counterpart over the alleged sale by the Russian defense ministry of equipment of the Black Sea Fleet stored at bases in Bulgaria. (Doug Clarke) NUNN AND LUGAR CALL FOR US ATTENTION TO CIS NUCLEAR PROBLEMS. In Washington after their tour of the former Soviet nuclear weapons states, Senators Nunn and Lugar emphasized that US policy towards the CIS must not be allowed to drift during the transition period. In a press conference on 25 November that was covered by Western press agencies, they emphasized the need to push forward with attempts to get Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus to ratify the START treaty and to complete the START II agreement. Senator Nunn also noted the danger of instability in the nuclear-armed regions, and the increasing risk from attempts to smuggle nuclear materials out of the CIS. According to the Washington Post of 26 November, Russian negotiators recently provided the US with draft proposals aimed at solving outstanding issues in the START II negotiations, and a US State Department official indicated that the issues could be resolved before the end of the Bush administration. (John Lepingwell) MORE ALLEGED WEAPONS-GRADE URANIUM SEIZED. According to an AFP report of 26-November, Bavarian police seized 307 grams of uranium from a Romanian-born German citizen. According to the report the material may have been stolen from a CANDU nuclear reactor in Cernavoda, Romania. (The material was in the form of 21 tablets, apparently consisting of uranium oxide.) However, CANDU reactors use natural uranium, which is not suitable for weapons use. In the past, reports of "weapons grade uranium" being seized have turned out to be false, although slightly enriched reactor fuel and other radioactive materials have been seized. (John Lepingwell) CHINA SHOWS INCREASED INTEREST IN RUSSIAN ARMS. According to a 24 November report by AFP, the Chinese government is showing strong interest in purchasing Russian arms. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Shokhin is in China this week discussing possible deals with the Chinese government, although details of the discussions have not been released. China has already agreed to purchase Su-27 long-range fighter-interceptors from Russia, and reportedly wants to purchase MiG-31 interceptors as well. China's interest in the arms has been strengthened by recent decisions in Taiwan to purchase both F-16 and Mirage-2000 fighters. (John Lepingwell) RUSSIAN ACADEMIC ON US PRESSURE, RUSSIAN INTERESTS IN CUBA. Viktor Volsky, the director of the Russian Institute for Latin America, told the Mexican news agency Notimex on 25 November that the United States was pressuring the Russian government to abandon its relations with Cuba. He cited the unilateral and unconditional withdrawal of Russian troops from Cuba as an example. Volsky claimed that the U.S. was also putting pressure on Russia to abandon the electronic listening-post near Havana, but said that this effort had not succeeded because there were people in the Russian government "who understand that it is not convenient to lose positions in Cuba where we have strategic interests." Volsky was quoted as supporting the maintenance of friendly relations with Cuba and other socialist countries. "Neither the United States nor Russia," he said, "has the right to deprive Cuba of its social experiments." (Doug Clarke) RUSSIAN CONSCRIPTION LAGGING. Russian Defense Minister General Pavel Grachev on 25-November told a meeting of the leaders of Russian military-patriotic clubs that the Fall conscription turnout was far short of the military's requirements. According to Interfax, he said that only 18% of the vacancies had been filled with only one month remaining in the conscription season. He also told the meeting that the planned reductions in the Russian armed forces would not be a repeat of the abrupt reductions made by former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. The current effort, he said, would be "gradual and thoroughly considered." (Doug Clarke) APPARENT CEASEFIRE IN TAJIKISTAN. Field commanders of factions involved in the Tajik civil war signed a ceasefire agreement on 25 November, Interfax and Khovar-TASS reported. Sangak Safarov, leader of the pro-Communist Kulyab Popular Movement, showed little sign of wanting a reconciliation with anti-Communist forces, whom he accused of being responsible for the fighting. The Kulyab faction earlier used the same argument to violate ceasefire agreements. This time Safarov also blamed the Supreme Soviet for allowing Islamic leaders to enter the political arena. Two commanders of the anti-Communist forces were quoted by Interfax on 26-November as saying that they are prepared to accept the new government of Tajikistan, but that they blame pro-Communist officials for the war. (Bess Brown) RUSSIAN PLAN TO TRANSFER 14TH ARMY UNITS TO "DNIESTER REPUBLIC." Following the Russian-Moldovan negotiations on 20 November in Chisinau concerning the withdrawal of Russia's 14th Army from Moldova, the chief Russian delegate, Col. General Eduard Vorobev, told "Dniester republic" leaders in Tiraspol-and Lt. General Aleksandr Lebed, the commander of Russia's 14th Army in eastern Moldova, told Tiraspol TV-that units slated for withdrawal would be "disbanded" on the left bank of the Dniester (i.e. facilitating personnel transfers to the "Dniester" forces); that assets of such units would be turned over to the "Dniester republic"; and that Russia would link the Army's ultimate withdrawal to Moldova granting the "Dniester republic" a political status (which Russia defines as republican status). Vorobev's and Lebed's remarks were reported by DR-Press and Basapress on 21 November. (Vladimir Socor) JEWISH, ISRAELI OFFICIALS ON ETHNIC ISSUES IN MOLDOVA. Menakhem Loebel, a senior official of Israel's Ministry of Education, inspecting Jewish schools in Moldova, expressed in the Chisinau weekly Faclia of 20 November "gratitude for the favorable atmosphere created in Moldova for the rebirth of Jewish culture." The president of Moldova's Federation of Jewish Communities, Theodor Magder, told Basapress on 23 November that "there is no antisemitism in Moldova either as a state policy or as a social phenomenon... The Moldovan government goes to great lengths to meet the Jewish community's needs...While Moldova may rank at the bottom economically, it ranks at the top with regard to the consideration its leadership shows to the ethnic minorities." (Vladimir Socor) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE PARLIAMENT APPROVES DIVISION OF CZECHOSLOVAKIA. After two unsuccessful tries, the Czechoslovak Federal Assembly eventually approved legislation providing the legal basis for the federation's split by a very narrow majority (183 votes of 300-3-more than necessary) on 25 November. The adoption of the law, which was designed to prevent a chaotic and unconstitutional split of the country, was praised by the Czech and Slovak prime ministers, Vaclav Klaus and Vladimir Meciar, as a "calming gesture to the whole world." Former Czechoslovak President Vaclav Havel said that a rejection of the draft would have dramatically complicated the situation of the two republics. (Jan Obrman) BRAZAUSKAS ELECTED SEIMAS CHAIRMAN. On 25 November in its first session the Seimas elected Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party Chairman Algirdas Brazauskas as its chairman and acting president by a vote of 81 to 4, Radio Lithuania reports. His opponent, Social Democratic Party Chairman Aloyzas Sakalas, received only 7 votes. Ceslovas Jursenas of the LDLP was elected Seimas deputy chairman. The right-of-center deputies did not participate in the vote since no hearings have as yet been held on the accusations that Jursenas, as well as five other Seimas deputies, cooperated with the KGB. At the second day's Seimas session on 26 November, Prime Minister Aleksandras Abisala announced the resignation of his government. Brazauskas accepted the resignation, but asked Abisala to carry on until a new cabinet is formed. State Comptroller-General Kazimieras Uoka also resigned. Three factions normally registered in the Seimas: the Christian Democrats with 10-members under chairman Povilas Katilius, Sajudis with 20-members without a chairman as yet, and Citizens' Charter with 10 members and Saulius Saltenis as chairman. The chairmen of two other factions, Sakalas of the LSDP and Justinas Karosas of the LDLP, also made statements although their factions have not yet officially registered. (Saulius Girnius) RELIGIOUS LEADERS IN EX-YUGOSLAVIA MEET. The 27 November Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports that Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Pavle, Roman Catholic Cardinal Franjo Kuharic, and Muslim Reis ul-ulema Jakub Selimoski met in Zurich. The three issued a joint declaration calling for an end to the Bosnian bloodshed and urge people around the world to observe 23 December as a day of prayer and solidarity with the Bosnian war victims. On 26-November a UN relief convoy succeed in reaching Gorazde but Serbs continued to prevent a second convoy from arriving in Srebrenica. The UN has halted aid to Serb communities as long as Serbs continue to block relief for the two mainly Muslim towns in eastern Bosnia near the Serbian border. (Patrick Moore) FROSTY RECEPTION FOR PANIC IN GERMANY. German TV reported on 26 November that Milan Panic, prime minister of Serbia-Montenegro, came to Bonn at his own request. Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel met Panic, but Kohl refused to be photographed with him. Government spokesmen said that Kohl and Kinkel agreed to the meeting only so as not to miss any possible chance to promote peace in the former Yugoslavia. In what were described as brutally frank talks, the Germans told the Serbs that it is not enough for Panic to talk about peace, and that now the world expects concrete deeds from him. Elsewhere on the diplomatic scene, Western agencies report that Greece has opened a new diplomatic offensive to block EC recognition of Macedonia. The conviction has been generally growing in Europe that Macedonia cannot be left isolated indefinitely if peace is to be preserved there, and that Greece's objections must be overruled by the majority. (Patrick Moore) ALBANIA PREPARED FOR WAR OVER KOSOVO? The 18 November Split weekly Nedjeljna Dalmacija carried an interview with Albanian Col. Fluturak Germenji, the editor of the Albanian military's journal. He said that Tirana and the Albanian leadership in Kosovo have held consultations about possible joint action in the event of a war over Kosovo, and that the Albanian military is well prepared for such a conflict. Germenji said that war could be provoked if the Serbs were to launch a wave of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo and sent refugees streaming into Albania. The colonel added that women and children from Kosovo would receive sanctuary in his country while Albanian men from both sides of the frontier fought the Serbs. Germenji told the Croat paper that Albania is in touch with NATO, the CSCE, and the UN about Kosovo, and predicted that a war in Kosovo would lead to a general Balkan conflagration. (Patrick Moore) SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO INVESTIGATE CSURKA PROBLEM. At it weekly meeting on 25-November, the presidium of the Hungarian Democratic Forum unanimously decided to ask Prime Minister Jozsef Antall to set up a special committee to investigate and to make recommendations concerning HDF vice president Istvan Csurka, whose essay criticizing the leadership style of the forum caused a political storm in Hungary because of its anti-Semitic overtones. Shortly before the presidium meeting, Csurka issued a statement to MTI expressing regret that his statements offended many Hungarian Jews. He stressed that the Jews he criticized were Hungarian communist officials like Matyas Rakosi, Bela Kun, and Gyorgy Aczel, who betrayed not only Hungarians but Jews as well by harming Hungarian national interests and denying their Jewish faith. Csurka said that he does not see a universal Jewish conspiracy but he does see the danger of communists returning to power. The report was carried by MTI. (Judith Pataki) ROMANIAN PARLIAMENTARY DELEGATION VISITS MOLDOVA. Adrian Nastase, the chairman of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies, arrived in Chisinau on 25 November for a three-day visit at the head of a parliamentary delegation that represents all political groups in the chamber. Radio Bucharest and Rompres said that Nastase called for the coordination of legislation and that a joint Moldovan-Romanian parliamentary commission was established. Addressing the Moldovan parliament, Nastase said that the time of "mere statements of [mutual] love" has passed and priority should now be given to the stepped-up economic integration of the two countries as a means of doing away with the consequences of the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact. On 26-November Nastase also held talks with Moldovan Foreign Minister Nicolae Tiu, Prime Minister Andrei Sanghieli, and President Mircea Snegur. (Michael Shafir) ILIESCU ATTACKS RUSSIAN-HUNGARIAN AGREEMENT ON MINORITIES. At a press conference carried live by Radio Bucharest on 26 November, President Ion Iliescu criticized the joint Russian-Hungarian statement on national minorities signed during Boris Yeltsin's visit to Budapest in mid-November. Iliescu said the statement showed a nostalgia of the two states for their lost empires and said the joint statement "did not comply with international norms." It is very dangerous for Europe, he said, if one state pretends it has the right to protect its ethnic minorities living on the territory of another. (Michael Shafir). CONSTANTINESCU TO HEAD DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION. The Democratic Convention of Romania (DCR), an umbrella organization uniting the main forces of the opposition, has elected its presidential candidate, Emil Constantinescu, as chairman. The media announced on 26 November that Constantinescu replaces Corneliu Coposu, the leader of the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic. At a press conference the Party of Civic Alliance, a member of the DCR lately rumored to be considering leaving the convention, said it supports the continued unity of the DCR but favors its reorganization. At another press conference on the same day, Petre Roman, leader of the National Salvation Front, said his party will oppose any attempt to block the economic reform. On another matter, Roman said the time was not ripe for the publication of the files of the former secret police. (Michael Shafir). UNGA ENDORSES RUSSIAN TROOP PULLOUT. On 25 November the UN General Assembly approved, without a vote, a resolution introduced by Latvian Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis to help achieve a speedy and complete withdrawal of Russian troops from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Depicting the troop presence as a threat to international peace and security, Godmanis added that the Baltic States also seek assurances that their sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity are respected. The Balts are willing to negotiate with Russia, he said, but they will not grant the troops legal status in their countries, an RFE/RL correspondent in New York reports. Russia had been previously consulted on the consensus resolution. Ambassador Yulii Vorontsov said that an orderly withdrawal is not possible without agreements on "social protection" of Russian-speaking populations in the area. (Dzintra Bungs) POLISH DEFENSE MINISTER ON KALININGRAD. Janusz Onyszkiewicz told PAP on 26-November that Poland will strive for a reduction of the Russian military presence in Kaliningrad Oblast. He defended himself against accusations in the Russian press of "political tactlessness" and explained that, while Poland understands the reasons for such a concentration of forces it will, nonetheless, prefer that this be a transitional situation. (Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka) RUSSIA'S ELECTRIC BILL. BNS reported on 25-November that Russian army units stationed in Latvia owe the local authorities some 83 million rubles for electricity; the sum covers the period since February 1992, when Russia assumed jurisdiction over the Soviet forces in Latvia. In addition the army also owes large sums for land taxes that it has not been paying to Latvia. (Dzintra Bungs) SLOVAKIA WANTS TO SELL TANKS TO PAKISTAN. Slovakia is planning to bid for the sale of 300 T-72 tanks to Pakistan, Reuters reported on 26-November. The agency quoted Slovak Foreign Ministry spokesman Roman Buzek as saying that the possibility of tank exports was discussed during a visit to Pakistan three weeks ago by Slovak Deputy Foreign Minister Anton Rakicky. Another spokesman for the Slovak government said that the deal would be carried out after the division of Czechoslovakia on 1 January 1993, when the authority to license arms exports is transferred to the individual republics. The volume of Czechoslovak arms exports decreased from 27 billion koruny ($1-billion) in 1987 to less than 6 billion koruny ($222 million) in 1991, but Slovakia has recently developed efforts to open new markets for its arms industry. (Jan Obrman) BULGARIAN ARMS INDUSTRY WORKERS STEP UP PROTESTS. Having stopped nearly all railway traffic through the city for six days, arms industry workers in Kazanlak went on to block a main highway on 26 November , BTA reports. By extending the blockade, the workers sought to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with a decision of the National Assembly the previous day not to deal directly with the problems of the arms industry but referring the issue to a special commission. Since this summer, workers in the Arsenal factory in Kazanlak have called on the government to assume the debts of Bulgarian arms companies and promote arms export. The blockade has already caused severe transport problems in central Bulgaria. There have been signs that employees in other arms companies, which employ a total of some 140,000 workers, are supporting the actions. (Kjell Engelbrekt) FIVE POLES EXTRADITED TO US. Five Polish citizens involved in the sale of arms to Iran in violation of a UN embargo and arrested in Frankfurt in March were extradited to the US on 25 November, PAP reports. The case of a sixth Pole, Rajmund Szwonder, director of a Polish arms factory, has yet to be decided by the German Constitutional Tribunal. The Polish Foreign Ministry had tried to have the six sent back to Poland and made diplomatic representations on Szwonder's behalf on humanitarian and health grounds. In Poland Szwonder is seen as having acted in the best interest of the company and its work force. (Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka) POLISH STATE FARMS IN DEBT. Polish state farms are indebted to the tune of 17 trillion zloty ($1.1 billion). At a press conference on 26 November representatives of the Agricultural Property Agency, which is taking over the 2,500 farms, said that only 800 are creditworthy. There will be no blanket debt reduction but the financial prospects of each farm will be analyzed individually and those that are salvageable will have their debts rescheduled. (Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka) HUNGARIAN BUSINESS BRIEFS. Domestic and foreign media report that the German auto maker Audi, a subsidiary of Volkswagen, has decided to build an engine plant in Hungary. Hungary was chosen over eastern Germany because of its lower wage costs. Meanwhile, a report in Nepszabadsag says that the Italian firm Alitalia may soon buy a 35% ownership interest in Malev, the Hungarian state airlines. Official confirmation was not forthcoming from either side, although a final decision is expected in a few weeks. The other major competitor, Lufthansa, dropped out of the bidding due to its own financial difficulties. (Judith Pataki & Charles Trumbull) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba & Charles Trumbull
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