|Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov|
No. 229, 30 November 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR YELTSIN URGES CREATION OF PRESIDENTIAL PARTY. President Yeltsin called on his supporters on 29 November to set up a joint political force (a presidential party) to help him implement reforms and fight against conservative resistance to change, ITAR-TASS reported. At a forum of pro-reform movements in Moscow, attended by approximately two thousand people, Yeltsin said that "radical reforms need a strong social base" and an appropriate political structure. Yeltsin said he would be part of such a joint reformist political force. In the past, Yeltsin has refused to identify himself directly with any specific political group. In late 1991 and early 1992, the Democratic Russia movement tried to become a presidential party, but it failed to receive the necessary support from Yeltsin. (Vera Tolz) YELTSIN ASKS BURBULIS TO HELP LEAD PRESIDENTIAL PARTY. President Yeltsin wants Gennadii Burbulis, who has just lost his post as State Secretary, to become deputy leader of a new presidential party, which Yeltsin has proposed to create and personally head, Ekho Moskvy reported on 26 November. Deputy Premier Aleksandr Shokhin told Interfax on the same day that Burbulis's transfer to the post of head of Yeltsin's advisory group was not a demotion. His new job reportedly will carry the same status as that of a deputy prime minister. But Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 27 November that Burbulis's demotion was real and that Yeltsin had originally considered sending his long-time ally abroad to take up an ambassadorship. (Alexander Rahr) NEW DEMOCRATIC BLOC SET UP. Representatives of the same congress of reformist parties addressed by President Yeltsin on 29 November have set up a new political bloc, called the "Democratic Choice," ITAR-TASS reported. Organizers of the bloc announced at a press conference that day that they would rather establish a loose movement, rather than a properly structured political party as urged by President Yeltsin in his speech at the forum. A draft program document of "Democratic Choice" urges the strengthening of presidential power in Russia, the speeding up of the privatization process, and a legal confirmation of people's right to own private land. The idea to establish the Democratic Choice bloc was expressed for the first time by reformist movements in Moscow as early as July 1992. (Vera Tolz) RESPONSE TO GOVERNMENT CHANGES. Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi complained that President Yeltsin did not consult him on the recent personnel changes in the government, according to ITAR-TASS on 27 November. A co-leader of the Civic Union, Nikolai Travkin, said that the Civic Union has failed to force Yeltsin to change the reform course and conduct more serious changes in the cabinet. For his part, Yeltsin told journalists that he will not name any candidate for the post of prime minister until the final law on the government has been adopted, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 November. Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev told the Congress of the Intelligentsia that he does not want to remain in his post "as [former Soviet foreign minister Andrei] Gromyko] for thirty years." (Alexander Rahr) PARLIAMENT REJECTS GAIDAR'S ECONOMIC PROGRAM. The Russian parliament has rejected Prime Minister Egor Gaidar's proposed economic reform program as "unsatisfactory" ITAR-TASS reported on 27 November. The parliament urged the government to devise a new program and incorporate into it proposals from the parliament's own economic council, as well as those from the Central Bank. Parliamentary speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov called upon the government to "take the [parliamentary] resolution to heart" and come up with a new compromise plan. Gaidar had previously said that he was not prepared to make further compromises on the economic reform program. The Civic Union had accused Gaidar of having ignored many of the centrists' amendments to the program. (Alexander Rahr) DEMOCRATIC RUSSIA HOLDS MEETING; CRITICIZES YELTSIN. The Democratic Russia movement opened a session in Moscow on 28 November to decide whether to support a referendum on dissolving the Congress of People's Deputies, Interfax reported. The referendum is advocated by several "democratic" groups, including the Russian Movement for Democratic Reforms. The Republican Party, which is a member of the Democratic Russia, has expressed opposition to holding the referendum. Meanwhile, on 27 November, Democratic Russia issued a statement criticizing Yeltsin's latest attempts to reach an agreement with centrist and conservative forces on the eve of the Congress. Democratic Russia was especially critical of the latest dismissal by Yeltsin of several reformists in the government as well as the sacking of Egor Yakovlev as head of Ostankino TV. (Vera Tolz) GOVERNMENT ACTION ON STRATEGIC EXPORTS, CORRUPTION, NEPOTISM. The anti-crisis program presented by Acting Prime Minister Egor Gaidar to the parliament includes a provision for the temporary introduction of state control of the export of strategic raw materials and goods, according to ITAR-TASS on 26 November and Voice of Russia on 28 November. According to the program, beginning on January 1, 1993, the export of all strategic materials will be possible only through organizations belonging to the ministry of foreign economic trade. The new regulations against corruption and nepotism will include a ban on government officials establishing and co-owning foreign trade and other foreign commercial firms. Government and elected officials will also be prohibited from becoming involved in business activities. Moreover, there will be a careful screening of commercial bids submitted by relatives of government officials. (Victor Yasmann) SOVIET DEBT NEGOTIATIONS STILL TROUBLED. Obstacles still remain to scheduling the repayment of the external debt of the former Soviet Union. The main sticking point is a divergence of opinion concerning how much Russia can afford to service the debt in 1993, Reuters reported on 27 November. The Russian government, which assumed full responsibility for the debt last week, has announced that it would not be able to pay more than $3 billion of the $38 billion due to creditors next year. Western creditors reportedly want at least $5 billion. Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Shokhin characterized $5 billion as an "unrealistic" sum, and said to make such payments Russia would have to increase arms exports and sell more oil to the West at the expense of domestic and other consumers of the Commonwealth of Independent States. (Erik Whitlock) RUSSIAN 1992 DEFICIT TO EXCEED GOVERNMENT TARGET. Aleksandr Khandruev, a deputy chairman of the Russian Central Bank, told parliament on 29 November that the state's consolidated budget deficit would total about 1.5 trillion rubles, Reuters and Interfax reported. The government was still claiming it would keep the deficit below one trillion rubles as late as mid-September. The new figure, which seems in excess of 10% of Russian GDP, is also much higher than the target promised to the IMF and World Bank in early spring. Khandruev announced that the central bank, for its part, would greatly curtail money growth next year. (Erik Whitlock) RUSSIAN AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS' STRIKE. Russian air traffic controllers are planning an indefinite nation-wide strike beginning Tuesday morning (1 December) at 10:00 Moscow time. Fifty-seven out of 130 regional airports are expected to be affected, according to western press agencies on 28 November. An air controllers' spokesman has said that the strike will not initially affect international flights to and from Sheremetevo. Talks between the Air Traffic Controllers' Federation and the government broke down, because of the government's refusal to guarantee that courts will drop legal proceedings against air controllers who went on strike last August. (Sheila Marnie) WORK ON DRAFT CIS CHARTER COMPLETED. Belinform-TASS reported on 27 November that work on the draft CIS charter had been completed that day in Minsk and initialled by the head of the delegations of all the republics. The draft will now be submitted to the CIS heads of government and then to the CIS heads of state at their December summit. Evgeniy Ambartsumov, chairman of the Russian parliament's International Affairs and Foreign Economic Relations Committee complained on 27 November that the draft laid so much stress on independence and non- intervention that it would be useless since "it would virtually deprive Russia of the opportunity to defend human rights," Interfax reported. (Ann Sheehy) "RUSSIAN UNITY" WANTS COURT TO REVIEW TROOP PULLOUT DECISION. Leaders of the opposition parliamentary faction "Russian Unity" appealed on 27 November to the Constitutional Court of Russia to review the Russian Defense Ministry's decisions and activities concerning troop withdrawals from the Baltic States. They argue that the ministry is inflicting irreparable damage to Russia's defense capabilities since its borders in that region would be completely vulnerable, BNS reported on 28 November. (Dzintra Bungs) GRACHEV DETAILS MILITARY FORCE REDUCTIONS. In speeches in the Volga and Ural military districts, Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev provided a detailed outline of current progress in, and future plans for, Russian military reform. The speeches were reported by Interfax on 27 November. According to Grachev, in the past year the military has reduced its personnel by 180,000 troops, with the Ministry of Defense central staff having shrunk by some 27%, or 5,500 persons. Furthermore, approximately 100,000 troops and some 1,500 tanks have been redeployed into Russia from other states, a process that is to continue until 1995. Grachev went on to note that while 400,000 servicemen are scheduled to return to Russia in the next two to three years, the 39.9 billion rubles which has been allocated for housing construction is insufficient. (John Lepingwell) GRACHEV FAVORS BASING RAPID DEPLOYMENT FORCE IN NORTH CAUCASUS. According to an Interfax report of 27 November, General Grachev has provided more details on the future deployment and structure of the Russian military. He has called for the creation of rapidly deployable forces that can be used to fight brushfire wars along Russia's borders. To that end, he stated that the primary operational forces are to be based in the North Caucasus military district, with the Volga and Urals military districts providing second-echelon forces. The North Caucasus units will therefore be amongst the first to make the transition to contract-based service. Enlisted men on contracts will receive pay of approximately 10-12,000 rubles per month. Troops deployed in peacekeeping operations will receive higher pay. Grachev also called for a transition to a brigade and corps structure, a move that has been discussed for several years. (John Lepingwell) UKRANIAN PRIVATIZATION PROGRAM LAUNCHED. The Ukraine has announced a privatization plan with several features differing from that already underway in Russia, according to Reuters and Interfax on 27 November. Each citizen is to receive a bank account with 30,000 coupons (karbovanets) in it, which can be used to buy a share in shops or firms. Other cheques will be issued later allowing people to buy land. According to government officials, the funds in the bank accounts will rise in line with inflation. Unlike in Russia, citizens will not have the right to sell these accounts, and will not actually receive a coupon as a type of certificate. Once the privatization program is over, any money left in the special bank accounts will be transferred to the local government budgets. (Sheila Marnie) GEORGIA APPOINTS NEW DEFENSE MINISTER. The Georgian parliament has appointed General Anatolii Kamkamidze as republican minister of defense to replace Tengiz Kitovani, Rossiiskaya gazeta reported on 27 November. Kamkamidze had been recalled from Ukraine earlier this month to serve as Commander-in-Chief of the Georgian armed forces. A press spokesman for the Transcaucasus Military District subsequently rejected allegations by Kitovani that the Military District high command was failing to implement the Tashkent agreement on the transfer of military equipment and supplies to the former Soviet republics, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 November. (Liz Fuller) TAJIKISTAN REJECTS PRESIDENTIAL RULE. On 27 November Tajikistan's Supreme Soviet voted to abolish presidential rule and make the country a "parliamentary republic," Khovar-TASS reported. The same day Interfax reported that some 15,000 refugees from the fighting in southern Tajikistan had broken through a border fence to reach Afghanistan, but most were persuaded to return to Tajikistan after receiving promises that pro- Communist forces of the Kulyab National Front would not attack them. On 29 November Interfax reported that the level of tension remains high in Tajikistan although a ceasefire appears to be holding despite reports of occasional shooting in Dushanbe. (Bess Brown) MOLDOVAN-ROMANIAN INTERPARLIAMENTARY COMMISSION SET UP. The new chairman of Romania's Chamber of Deputies, Adrian Nastase, heading an all-party Romanian parliamentary delegation to Chisinau from 25 to 27 November, signed with the chairman of Moldova's parliament, Alexandru Mosanu, a protocol establishing a Romanian-Moldovan interparliamentary commission. A "technical organ," the commission is to "accelerate legislative integration" supporting economic and cultural cooperation among the two states, and begins with 14 deputies for each side. The Moldovan side includes two Russians, one Ukrainian, and one Gagauz, and no members in good standing of the pro-unification Popular Front. Moldova's Presidential Office told an RFE/RL correspondent that it hopes through the commission to gain the involvement of the Romanian parliament--which generally supports the Popular Front--in constructive contacts with official Chisinau on a "two-state" basis. (Vladimir Socor) MOLDOVAN POPULAR FRONT RALLY DENOUNCES "TWO-STATE" POLICY. Rallying in Chisinau on 29 November to mark the 44th anniversary of Transylvania's accession to Romania, 5,000 supporters of the opposition Moldovan Popular Front called for Moldovan-Romanian unification, including historic Moldovan areas now in Ukraine, Basapress reported. The rally shouted down the reading of a message from President Mircea Snegur which reaffirmed Moldova's policy calling for the coexistence and cooperation of "two Romanian states." Speakers at the rally denounced that policy as treasonous to the Romanian nation. (Vladimir Socor) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE YUGOSLAV AREA UPDATE. International media reported on 28 November that a UN aid convoy arrived in the besieged eastern Bosnian Muslim town of Srebrenica after many delays caused by Serbs blocking the road. Fighting was reported over the weekend near Osijek in Croatia and in many parts of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Western agencies said on 28 November that 14 UN military observers arrived in Macedonia to see whether UN troops should be sent there to prevent the spread of conflict. This would be the first case of UN troops being deployed as a preventive measure in the Yugoslav area. The Financial Times reports that UN experts have begun work to shore up a crumbling dam in Montenegro. The structure holds back tons of toxic waste that could cause an ecological catastrophe as far off as the Danube and the Black Sea. On 30 November, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung says that a British destroyer participating in the Adriatic blockade intercepted a ship carrying steel for Montenegro and sent it on to Italy. (Patrick Moore) UN TO DIG UP MASS GRAVE NEAR VUKOVAR. The 29 November New York Times said that the UN War-Crimes Commission is moving to uncover the grave at Ovcara believed to hold the remains of 300 Croats from the Vukovar hospital killed on 20 November 1991, the day after Serb forces took the town. It could be the basis for the first war-crimes trial of the conflict. The International Herald Tribune on 28-29 November reported on the "number one war-crimes suspect held in Sarajevo," a 21- year-old Serb. The young man described in detail how Serbian youths are recruited and trained by their superiors to become rapists and killers, and added that his own admitted killing of 20 prisoners and civilians "is lower than [the] average among [the] militiamen." On 30 November UN human rights investigator and former Polish prime minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki writes in the Washington Post about the "massive violation of human rights" he observed in Bosnia-Herzegovina. "The collected evidence leaves no doubt as to who is responsible for the horror: the Serbian political and military leaders in Bosnia-Herzegovina, supported by the authorities of the Serbian republic." Mazowiecki urges the setting up of safe havens for Muslims as an unpleasant but temporarily necessary measure. (Patrick Moore) UN GENERAL CHARGED WITH SEXUAL ABUSE. The former UNPROFOR commander in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Canadian Maj. Gen. Lewis MacKenzie, is charged with having sexually abused four teenage Muslim girls held in a Serbian prison camp. According to Zagreb's daily Vecernji list and Radio Slovenia on 29 November, Bosnia's military public prosecutor started proceedings against MacKenzie for alleged war crimes committed against the civilian population during his stay in Sarajevo. The Bosnian prosecutor is asking that the military authorities in Bosnia-Herzegovina demand that UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali withdraw MacKenzie's diplomatic immunity. Radio Serbia suggests the charges might be unfounded, however, because Bosnia's government had been sharply critical of MacKenzie's alleged pro-Serb leanings. (Milan Andrejevich) PANIC UNDER FIRE; MINISTERS RESIGN. On 26 November Serbian Foreign Minister Vladislav Jovanovic described Milan Panic's rump federal government's behavior as "masochistic" in its efforts to achieve a lifting of the UN-imposed sanctions by saying "it is offering the world things that were not even being asked of it." Meanwhile, two ministers close to Milosevic resigned. On 28 November Minister without Portfolio Radmila Milentijevic explained that the activities of the Panic government "do not coincide with the interests of the people." On 29 November Economy Minister Nikola Sainovic resigned, saying he does not want any part of Panic's practice of "introducing foreigners and the interests of foreign powers in government policies." Radio Serbia carried the reports. (Milan Andrejevich) SERBIA'S PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES. The ruling Socialist Party (SPS) confirmed on 27 November that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic will run for reelection as the party's candidate in the 20 December elections. Milosevic was popularly elected to the post in December 1990 in the first multiparty elections since 1938. So far, Milosevic has three challengers. National Party leader Milan Paroski, "Captain Dragan," a paramilitary commander and Serb folk hero, who announced his candidacy on 27 November, and now possibly Milan Panic. On 29 November Belgrade university students gathered over 10,000 signatures placing his name on the ballot hours before the deadline, Radio Serbia reports. Observers close to Panic said they do not rule out the possibility of him running against Milosevic. Panic has been at odds with Milosevic on numerous issues relating to Serbia's involvement in fighting in neighboring Croatia and Bosnia. Panic has not yet publicly declared his candidacy. The latest poll published by Vreme gave 42.6% support for Panic to 25.5% for Milosevic. (Milan Andrejevich) PLANS FOR SLOVAK DEFENSE MINISTRY REVEALED. On 27 November Czechoslovak Minister of Defense Imrich Andrejcak revealed some details of the structure of the Slovak Defense Ministry currently being created. CTK quoted him that there will be a total of 200-250 employees and departments of foreign relations, social affairs, military counterintelligence, logistics, and construction. Col. Emil Vestenicky, a member of a Slovak government commission dealing with the creation of the ministry, told journalists on 27 November that the Slovak army will have a purely defensive character. The structure of the armed forces will remain unchanged for some time to come, he said, and any future changes will depend on the budgetary situation. (Jan Obrman) SLOVAK, HUNGARIAN OFFICIALS MEET. CTK reports that representatives of the ruling parties in Slovakia and Hungary, the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia and the Hungarian Democratic Forum, met in Bratislava on 28 November to discuss current tensions between their two countries. Among the participants were Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar and the Deputy Chairwoman of the Hungarian Democratic Forum, Gabriela Farkas. Both sides indicated after the meeting that it is proving easier to negotiate at the party level than at the government level. Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar told journalists that both sides agreed to refrain from political statements that could further stir emotions and ethnic tensions. (Jan Obrman) CONSTITUTIONAL COURT TO DISCUSS HUNGARIAN RADIO AND TV. In a decision earlier this year the Constitutional Court ruled that a key point of the Council of Ministers decree is unconstitutional and asked the parliament to pass a new law by 30 November. The disputed point gives the government the right to supervise radio and TV without defining or limiting its sphere of influence. Parliament could not pass the new law because the coalition and opposition disagree on a new media law. Earlier the court allowed the government to oversee the two institutions based on this unconstitutional decree, because they could not be left unsupervised. Without new legislation the court might be forced to extend the deadline again. (Judith Pataki) ESTONIAN COMMUNIST PARTY CHANGES NAME. On 28 November in Tallinn the Estonian Communist Party held its 22th party congress, BNS reports. The overwhelming majority of the 105 delegates voted to rename the party the Estonian Democratic Labor Party (EDLP), which will retain all the party's assets. . The meeting continued as the first congress of the EDLP and discussed statutes and a program. The party has 3,217 members of whom 2,236 continue to pay party dues. (Saulius Girnius) LATVIANS PROTEST SOVIET VETERANS ORGANIZATIONS. In a note to the Russian authorities, the Foreign Ministry termed the activities of several Soviet military veterans and labor organizations unacceptable and a threat to Latvia's sovereignty and internal security. These organizations also have close contacts with representatives of the Northwestern Group of Forces and extremist organizations in Russia, such as the National Salvation Front, and they meet in a building in Riga that is under NWGF jurisdiction. Members of these organizations, including the Association of Russian Citizens, demanded that Latvian Supreme Council Chairman Anatolijs Gorbunovs receive their delegation. If Gorbunovs refuses, they threaten to start what they call a campaign of passive resistance on 1 December, BNS reports. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIA: NO TALKS WITH RUSSIA UNLESS YELTSIN CHANGES HIS MIND. Georgs Andrejevs, Latvia's new Minister of Foreign Affairs, told the press on 26 November that Latvia will not resume negotiations with Russia unless Boris Yeltsin changes his mind over the directive of 29 October in which he ordered the suspension of troop withdrawals from the Baltic States. Andrejevs explained that this is also the position of Prime Minister Godmanis when he talked with representatives of various countries at the UN in New York, BALTFAX reports. (Dzintra Bungs) SEJM APPROVES VAT, EXCISE DUTY. The Sejm passed a VAT and Excise Duty Law on 28 November, PAP reported. A value-added tax of 7% will be chargeable on goods six months after the law officially takes effect. Excise duty will be charged on 19 items, including gasoline, cars, alcohol, cigarettes, salt, and high-fi equipment. The Sejm rejected proposals, supported by the government, for 22% VAT on gas and electricity. Planned revenue from VAT accounts for almost 43% of next year's budget. The government has warned of still higher energy price increases to offset lost revenue. (Anna Sabbat- Swidlicka) LANTOS NOW FAVORS MFN FOR ROMANIA. US Congressman Tom Lantos arrived in Romania on 27 November for "a private fact-finding mission," Radio Bucharest reports. Lantos was the subject of media attacks in late September following Congress's decision not to grant MFN status to Romania. On 28 November Lantos met with high officials, and at a press conference held on 29 November, he said that he now favors granting the MFN status to Romania, having found "encouraging developments toward democracy," although progress still must to be made in the areas of national minority rights, an independent judiciary, and independent television. (Michael Shafir). ROMANIA, EFTA SIGN AGREEMENT. The European Free Trade Association concluded a free-trade agreement with Romania, Reuters reported on 27 November. The agreement covers industrial goods, processed farm products, and fish. It will be officially signed in December at a ministerial meeting of the Geneva-based organization. The agreement with Romania follows similar agreements with Czechoslovakia and Poland. (Michael Shafir) CZECHS EXPECT 17% INFLATION. According to Czechoslovak TV, the Czech government adopted a budget for the new Czech state on 27 November. Czech Finance Minister Ivan Kocarnik told journalists that state revenues will increase by about 12% in 1993. He added that the structure of government spending would change due to a decrease of subsidies to companies and cuts in the administration on the one hand and increases in social spending on the other. Kocarnik said that the inflation rate for 1993 would be 15- 17% due to the introduction of a new tax system, namely the new value- added tax, which will result in higher prices. The government will spend more on health care than originally anticipated but this will change after the privatization of the health sector is completed. (Jan Obrman) SALARIES RAISED IN ROMANIA. On 27 November, at its weekly meeting, the Romanian government decided to raise salaries by an average of 17.7%, Radio Bucharest reports. The raise will be in force for November and December and is intended to provide partial compensation for the last hikes in prices. Beginning 1 November, the minimum monthly salary will be 15,250 lei ($35.46). The government also decided to abolish taxes temporarily for the period 1 December 1992-15 March 1993 for imports of basic foodstuffs in order to stimulate imports needed for winter. (Michael Shafir). POLISH BISHOPS ON ABORTION. At a press conference on 28 November, Archbishop Henryk Muszynski presented a pastoral letter to believers from the Polish bishops. The bishops set out the Roman Catholic Church's opposition to the recent proposal that Poland's draft abortion law, which would provide prison terms for doctors performing illegal abortions and women aborting their own children, be subject to a referendum. The bishops' letter reminds believers that the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" comes from God and that nonbelievers should respect it as "the first law of nature." Muszynski explained that in Polish legal practice, a referendum cannot be a source of law. (Anna Sabbat- Swidlicka) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba & Charles Trumbull
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.