|A host is like general: calamities often reveal his genius. - Horace|
No. 230, 01 December 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR RUSSIAN CONGRESS OF PEOPLE'S DEPUTIES OPENS. Despite an air traffic controller strike affecting 57 of 130 regional airports, most of the deputies have arrived at the opening session of the Seventh Russian Congress of People's Deputies in the Kremlin, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 December. One of the most controversial debates at the Congress will concern the extension of President Boris Yeltsin's special powers, which have expired. Hardliners, who control about one third of the Congress, have promised to block the extension of these powers. The outcome of the Congress will likely be determined by the ability of liberals and centrists to develop a joint policy and a coalition government. Economics Minister Andrei Nechaev said that it was conceivable that the entire cabinet would offer its resignation to limit attacks on Yeltsin. (Alexander Rahr) CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULINGS ON THE CPSU. The Russian Constitutional Court ruled on 30-November that President Yeltsin acted constitutionally in banning the executive bodies of the Communist Party, Western and Russian news agencies reported. But the court said he did not have the right to ban local Party organizations. The Court also said Yeltsin had the right to take away state property under the Party's control, but did not have the right to take away property whose ownership was not clear without a decision by the Court of Arbitration (the country's business court). The Constitutional Court also said it could not make a ruling on the government's contention that the CPSU itself was unconstitutional, because the CPSU in fact was not a political party but a "state within a state." (Vera Tolz) RESPONSE TO CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULINGS. Both the presidential side at the Constitutional Court and Communists have claimed victory following the announcement of the Court's rulings. The head of a group of presidential advisers, Gennadii Burbulis, said that by recognizing the constitutionality of Yeltsin's decree banning the CPSU, the Court has made an historic decision. Egor Ligachev, the CPSU's former ideologist, said that the Court's ruling that Yeltsin should not have banned the Party's local cells would allow the Party to "revive and unite," Western and Russian agencies reported. Some analysts suggested that the Court deliberately announced its decision on the eve of the Congress of People's Deputies, because its judges want to have a direct influence on Russian politics, an allegation denied by court chairman Valerii Zorkin. The chairman also stressed that the court had not been under any pressure from the Russian government before it passed the verdict, ITAR-TASS reported. (Vera Tolz) CONSTITUTIONAL COURT DELAYS HEARINGS ON BAN ON NATIONAL SALVATION FRONT. The Russian Constitutional Court will delay hearings on President Yeltsin's banning of the National Salvation Front because of the start of the Congress, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 November. Liberals fear that after the decision of the Constitutional Court granting Communists the right to reunite under a different name, former Communists may make an attempt to use the National Salvation Front to resist Yeltsin if the Constitutional Court also declares the ban of the front illegal. (Alexander Rahr) RUSSIAN PRIVATIZATION PROGRAM FOR 1993 APPROVED. The Russian Cabinet of Ministers approved on 30 November a program for the privatization of state and municipal enterprises in 1993, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. The value of privatized property sold for vouchers in 1993 is expected to reach 1.5 trillion rubles. Sectors of industry hitherto excluded will be privatized, including enterprises in the military-industrial complex, the fuel and energy sector, transportation, media, and in the wine, vodka, and tobacco industries. The program will be amended and then submitted to the parliament on 4 December. (Keith Bush) CREDITS FOR PRIVATIZED ENTERPRISES. President Yeltsin has issued a decree "On the Prohibition of Discrimination Against Privatized Enterprises in the Rendering of State Financial Aid," Interfax reported on 30 November. This authorizes the extension of government credits to privatized enterprises on the same terms as for state enterprises, thus providing a more level playing ground in competition between the state and private sectors. (Keith Bush) YELTSIN TO CHANGE DECISION ON EGOR YAKOVLEV. President Yeltsin told representatives of the Russian media on 30 November that Egor Yakovlev will either be appointed information minister instead of Mikhail Poltoranin or chairman of a reorganized Ostankino broadcasting company. This information was provided to an RFE/RL correspondent by Izvestiya chief editor Igor Golembiovsky. Yakovlev was sacked by Yeltsin as Ostankino chairman last week. Ostankino, which provides Radio and TV services, will be reorganized into separate radio and TV operations, Golembiovsky said. Yeltsin also reportedly told the meeting of media representatives that the formulation of his decree on Yakovlev's dismissal was incorrect and would be changed. The decree, which accused Yakovlev of "serious errors" concerning broadcasting policy, provoked strong criticism on the part of Russian journalists and politicians, who spoke in defense of Yakovlev. (Vera Tolz) KALUGIN, ZHIRINOVSKY, GDLYAN SIGN RECONCILIATION AGREEMENT. Eighteen small political parties and organizations identifying themselves as the "New Russia" group have signed an agreement on "civil peace and accord," Russian TV reported on 27-November. Those signing included former KGB general and co-chairman of "Officers for Democracy," Oleg Kalugin; the leader of Peasant's Party, Yurii Chernichenko; the leader of Liberal Democratic Party (an extreme right-wing party), Vladimir Zhirinovsky; and the leader of People's Party of Russia, Telman Gdlyan. The document, which the signatories called a "pact on civil reconciliation," states that "the ghost of civil war and the suffering of Russia" have compelled them to overcome their political differences. According to the joint document, the parties of "New Russia" promise not to form paramilitary units and to refrain from inciting violence. (Victor Yasmann) RUSSIAN NATIONALISTS IN CRIMEA CALL FOR MOSCOW'S SUPPORT. Ukrainian Radio reported on 30 November that around 200 people held a public meeting in Simferopol in Crimea at which they issued an appeal to the governments of the CIS and to the United Nations asking them to protect Crimea's Russians from "Ukrainian nationalism." Supporters of the Russian ultra-nationalist leader Zhirinovsky are reported to have held up a large map of "greater Russia," which included Poland, Finland and Alaska. Ukrainian Radio added that leaders of the Russian movement in Crimea have gone to Moscow to seek support from the participants in the Russian Congress of People's Deputies. (Bohdan Nahaylo) TATARSTAN PRESIDENT REJECTS CRITICISM OF NEW CONSTITUTION. On 30-November, Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev rejected criticism of the new Tatarstan constitution voiced earlier in the day by the leaders of two Russian political groups: Russian Vice-President Aleksandr Rutskoi of the Free Russia Party and Nikolai Travkin of the Democratic Party of Russia. Shaimiev told an RFE/RL correspondent by telephone that there was no reason why the Tatarstan constitution should conform to the present Russian constitution when Russian leaders themselves said that their own constitution was outdated. According to Interfax, the statement by Rutskoi and Travkin, which was distributed at the session of the Tatarstan parliament, maintained that the new constitution meant Tatarstan's withdrawal from the Russian Federation. The parliament had been asked by the Russian parliament not to bring the new constitution into force but deputies approved in principle a bill to do this. (Ann Sheehy) RUSSIAN CRITICISM OF ESTONIAN, LATVIAN HUMAN RIGHTS POLICIES. Participants at the 28-November hearings of the Human Rights Commission of the Russian Supreme Soviet criticized the human rights situation in Estonia and Latvia. Although the criticism was wide ranging, it tended to be vague and misleading. Sergei Zotov, head of the Russian delegation for talks with Latvia on troop withdrawal, once again objected to the process of granting citizenship in Latvia and Estonia, claiming that it conflicts with internationally recognized acts. Zotov failed to note that Latvia still has not adopted a law on citizenship and naturalization. Chairman of the Supreme Soviet's defense and security committee Sergei Stepashin indicated that Russia's leadership links "neither officially nor unofficially" the withdrawal of Russian troops from the Baltic States with the human rights observance there, Baltfax reported on 28 November. (Dzintra Bungs) RUSSIA TO EXPAND ARMS SALES. Russian Minister of External Economic Relations Petr Aven told parliament on 30 November that the country intends to promote arms sales vigorously, but only on a hard-cash basis, Interfax reported. Arms exports to Eastern Europe, Vietnam, and Cuba have been sharply reduced. The main recipients of Russian arms in 1992-93 would be India, China, and Iran, with the possibility of sales to Taiwan and Malaysia. In 1991, according to specialists cited by Interfax, Russia exported arms worth $7.8 billion, but more than $5-billion of this was either given away or sold on low- interest credits. It is thought that this year's sales could exceed $3 billion. Interfax reported a defense ministry official's statement that Russia weapons plants had more than 200 combat aircraft and around 1,000 modern tanks for immediate sale. (Keith Bush & Doug Clarke) IRAN CONFIRMS PLANS TO BUY TWO MORE RUSSIAN SUBS. Reuters reported on 30-November that the commander of the Iranian navy, Rear Admiral Abbas Mohtaj, has confirmed plans to purchase two more Kilo class diesel submarines from Russia. He did not specify when the additional submarines would be delivered. Mohtaj claimed that each submarine cost $450 million, implying a total sum of over $1-billion. Previous Western estimates have placed the total package cost at approximately $600-$750 million. The Baltimore Sun on 29 November reported that the second submarine had been launched at St. Petersburg in mid-October, and is presumably being fitted out. (John Lepingwell) LAW ON MILITARY SERVICE PASSED. On 27-November the Russian Supreme Soviet passed the law "On Military Service and the Armed Forces," according to an Interfax report of the same day. The law sets out the terms of military service for the Russian federation, and reportedly attempts to reverse the rapid decline in draft turnout that has sapped the Russian army of manpower. Reports did not indicate whether the law removed the draft deferment for university students, which the Ministry of Defense has been claiming allows the best qualified potential conscripts to avoid military service. The law does, however, create the new rank of Brigadier General, in accordance with the transition to a brigade and corps structure within the army. (John Lepingwell) UKRAINE FORMS SPECIAL COMMISSION TO INVESTIGATE FLEET. The Ukrainian defense ministry press bureau announced on 27 November that the ministry had formed a special commission to investigate "instances of illegal actions by the Black Sea Fleet Command and violations of the Russo-Ukrainian agreements on the Black Sea Fleet." As quoted by Interfax, the bureau said that the results of these investigations would be passed on the to prosecutor general. The Ukrainians once again pointed a finger at the acting commander of the fleet, Russian Admiral Igor Kasatonov, accusing him of using the fleet's warships "for the settlement of issues outside Ukraine, including conflicts between nationalities in the regions, without seeking Ukraine's agreement." (Doug Clarke) TWO AZERBAIJANI PARLIAMENT DEPUTIES ARRESTED. The Azerbaijani National Council has stripped two parliamentary deputies of their immunity. Abdul Guseinov, a former director of the Baku oil refinery, has been arrested in connection with illegal foreign currency transactions whereas Aga Akhundov is suspected of involvement in the abortive comeback attempt by former President Ayaz Mutalibov in May of this year, according to Nezavisimaya gazeta of 28 November. (Liz Fuller) CIS PEACEKEEPING FORCE FOR TAJIKISTAN. The defense ministers of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Russia in a meeting in Termez on 30-November with CIS Armed Forces Commander Evgenii Shaposhnikov and Chairman of Tajikistan's Supreme Soviet Imomali Rakhmonov, decided to establish a CIS peacekeeping force for Tajikistan, Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported. The force is to include the Russian 201st division already stationed in Tajikistan, battalions from Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, and a mobile regiment from Uzbekistan. According to ITAR-TASS, Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev objected to a proposal to use the 201st division in its present form as the basis for the peacekeeping force, since he wanted the force to be genuinely multinational. (Bess Brown) TAJIK PRIME MINISTER PRESENTS PROGRAM. The Chairman of Tajikistan's Council of Ministers, Abdumalik Abdullodzhonov, presented the program of his government to the Supreme Soviet on 30 November, Khovar-TASS reported. The program includes the encouragement of private enterprise, especially small and medium-size businesses, for a "gentle" transition to a market economy. Abdullodzhonov plans to request assistance from Western advisers but without following a foreign development model. He was also quoted as warning that it will take years to overcome the effects of the civil war. (Bess Brown) MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT SUPPORTS UKRAINE'S STAND IN THE CIS. Interviewed in Die Presse and the Frankfurter Rundschau, both of 25 November, Moldovan President Mircea Snegur expressed concern over tendencies within the CIS to "restore the center." Reaffirming Moldova's interest in economic cooperation within the CIS, Snegur said that Moldova shared Ukraine's concern over the "new centralism" in both the economic and the political spheres. "Chisinau sees Kiev as an ally here"; it will not sign the CIS charter if Ukraine does not, and will not become a full member of the CIS if it moves toward centralization, Snegur said. (Vladimir Socor) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE YUGOSLAV AREA UPDATE. Radios Croatia and Serbia report on 30 November that another cease-fire has been violated as fighting continues unabated throughout Bosnia. The latest cease-fire between Bosnia Serbs and Croats was supposed to halt cross-border shelling and facilitate the withdrawal of Croatian troops from Bosnia. In Geneva, the UNHRC heard extensive allegations of atrocities in Bosnia, and Austrian TV reports that the commission is ready to name Bosnian Serbs as the main offenders in the war. The president of the WEU Parliament, Hartmut Soell said Serbia has "outlawed itself from Europe" by its actions in the former Yugoslavia and should be punished. At the UN, Secretary Boutros Boutros-Ghali said that Serbs in the self-declared Croatian region of the Krajina are causing immense difficulties for UN peace-keeping troops. (Milan Andrejevich) MORE WOES FOR PANIC. Concerned over Prime Minister Milan Panic's nomination as candidate for the Serbian presidency, Oskar Kovac, the deputy prime minister of the rump Yugoslav government, resigned on 30 November. Kovac, a member of the ruling Socialist Party, wrote that his party already has a presidential candidate, Slobodan Milosevic, and that Panic's nomination puts him "in a moral dilemma." Kovac was in charge of coordinating economic policy for Panic government. He is the third member of Panic's cabinet to resign in the past three days, and the fourth since September. Meanwhile, Serbia's election commission said that Panic may be ineligible to run. Under Serbian law a presidential candidate must have been a resident of the republic for at least one year. Panic's top aid, David Calef, told reporters, however, that Panic rented a Belgrade apartment over a year ago. Panic is expected to announce shortly whether he will actually run for the presidency. Thirteen candidates have so far been nominated to run in the election scheduled for 20-December. Radio Serbia carried the report. (Milan Andrejevich) PANIC CRITICIZES MILOSEVIC. Panic called the resignations over the weekend of Economics Minister Nikola Sainovic and Minister without Portfolio Radmila Milentijevic, both close to Milosevic, as clearly inspired by fears that Panic will run successfully against Milosevic in the presidential elections. In a letter released by his press office, Panic described the resignations as "Milosevic's unconvincing attempt to undermine the government for his own political goals" and went on to say Milosevic has pursued "erroneous policies" that have destroyed the economy and ruined the country's international reputation. Radio Serbia carried the report. (Milan Andrejevich) PLIGHT OF MUSLIM RAPE VICTIMS. The 30 November Los Angeles Times reported on the seemingly impossible situation of what appear to be tens of thousands of Bosnian Muslim women raped by Serbian soldiers and militiamen. Systematic and repeated rape is apparently a part of the Serbian policy of ethnic cleansing. It seems intended to make the women unacceptable to conservative Muslim husbands, and the psychologically scarred women find little or no sympathy for their plight among their own people. One gynecologist said that some women face "probably no alternatives [for the rest of their lives] but madness or prostitution," and a women's rights worker noted that "every time one woman finds the strength to talk about what has happened to her, it turns out [that] every woman in her village was raped." The Croatian weekly Globus broke the story on systematic rape as an instrument of Serbian policy in its 25 September issue. (Patrick Moore) NEW CZECH BUDGET. The Czech budget for 1993 will be balanced, Czech Finance Minister Ivan Kocarnik told journalists on 30 November. He said that the government's most important goal was to minimize the consequences of Czechoslovakia's split and indicated that he expects an economic growth of 1-3% in 1993, despite anticipated difficulties. The Czech Republic will be burdened by a debt of 125-billion koruny (some $3.4 billion), the majority of which consists of the Czech Republic's share of part of Czechoslovakia's foreign debt that accumulated since the 1970s. Other government officials said that they hope to keep the unemployment rate in the Czech Republic below 5%, which would represent only a slight increase over the current 2.5%. In a separate development, the Czechoslovak federal government said that trade exchange between the two republics would decrease by about 10% in 1993 because of the split. (Jan Obrman) SLOVAK GOVERNMENT ASKS FOR PROSECUTION OF JOURNALIST. The Slovak press agency TA-SR reported on 30 November that the Slovak government asked the prosecutor general to initiate legal proceedings against a newspaper editor for "slandering state officials." Milan Zitny claimed in a televised debate on 29 November that Slovak authorities decided to do away with the so-called screening law because many current state officials had been listed as police informers and high-ranking officials in the communist People's Militia units. The screening law, the most important parts of which were recently confirmed by the Czechoslovak Constitutional Court, provides that former communist policy informers and People's Militia commanders be barred from government positions for five years. (Jan Obrman) DISCIPLINARY ACTION AGAINST HUNGARIAN TV CHAIRMAN. The Hungarian government has started disciplinary action against Hungarian TV Chairman Elemer Hankiss, MTI reported on 30 November. According to the prime minister's press office, Hankiss violated a law on civil servants by "breaching managerial duties." Administrative State Secretary in the Prime Minister's Office Jozsef Kajdi said that the government received information indicating a breach of duty and is obliged to initiate an investigation. Kajdi denied charges by the opposition that the government's action is related to the "media war" between the government and the opposition over control of Hungarian Radio and TV. (Edith Oltay) HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES LAW ON VAT. On 30 November Parliament passed a value-added tax bill that introduces a general 25% rate and a 6% preferential rate for a wide range of food items and services like heating and transportation. Only medicines and household electricity will be exempt from VAT. Long parliamentary debates preceded the passage of the bill, with both coalition and opposition deputies submitting amendments aimed at reducing taxes for low-income groups. (Edith Oltay) ROMANIAN NATIONAL DAY CELEBRATIONS MARRED BY HUNGARIAN PROTEST. On 1-December festivities in Romania will mark the forging of "Greater Romania" in 1918, with the main celebration taking place in Alba Iulia. On 30 November parliament held a special joint session of its two chambers. In a statement released on 30 November and quoted by Radio Bucharest, however, the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania protested against the decision to change the inscription on the statue in Cluj of Matei Corvin, a medieval Hungarian king partially of Romanian ancestry. Radio Bucharest reports that the original inscription on his statue in Cluj was replaced when Hungary regained northern Transylvania in 1940. The HDFR also protested the decision of the Romanian nationalist mayor of Cluj, Gheorghe Funar, to change the names of 68 streets, many named after Hungarian personalities. (Michael Shafir). NASTASE: MOSCOW TRYING TO KEEP CONTROL OF MOLDOVA. Adrian Nastase, chairman of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies, said in Bucharest that Russia is trying everything it can "to suck Moldova into the Commonwealth of Independent States." Nastase spoke at a press conference in Bucharest on 30 November, after returning from a three-day visit to Chisinau; he was quoted by Reuters. Romania is trying to "link Moldova with Europe and the West," he said, but fears a repetition of 1940, when the former Romanian province of Bessarabia was incorporated into the Soviet Union alongside other parts of Romanian territory, following a Soviet ultimatum. Nastase added that Romania should get more involved in helping Moldova solve its economic problems. (Michael Shafir) SOCIAL DEMOCRAT SUGGESTED AS NEW BULGARIAN PREMIER. After one week of consultations, on 30 November the Bulgarian Socialist Party mentioned a Social Democrat as the "most suitable" candidate for the post as prime minister, BTA reports. Economics professor Zahari Karamfilov, head of the National Statistical Institute and a deputy to parliament in 1990-91, in a first comment, stressed that he will not accept the nomination without the support of the two other parliamentary groups, the UDF and the MRF. He promised nonetheless that a cabinet led by him would be composed of experts and not serve the interests of political parties. Karamfilov has yet to be confirmed as the BSP's official nominee. (Kjell Engelbrekt) LOZORAITIS MAY RUN FOR LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT. On 30 November in a telephone interview with the RFE/RL Lithuanian Service, Stasys Lozoratis, the Lithuanian ambassador to Washington, said that he has been approached by representatives of several political movements in Lithuania urging him to run for the presidency. He said that talks are in a preliminary stage, but that he might agree to run if there is a consensus in favor of his candidacy. He said that Lithuania needs a figure who can unite all political forces and lead them out of the current political crisis. Parliament Chairman Algirdas Brazauskas and his predecessor Vytautas Landsbergis have been mentioned as other possible presidential candidates. (Saulius Girnius) SOFIA PROTESTS NEW ROMANIAN CUSTOMS FEE. On 30 November the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry officially protested Bucharest's recent decision to introduce a customs fee on private motor vehicles leaving Romania, BTA reports. The note, which was handed to Romania's ambassador in Sofia, Alexandru Petrescu, suggested that the Romanian government should either revoke the fee or expect reciprocal measures from Sofia. The Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said the move is causing considerable disruption of border traffic, and local media report that many motorists cannot afford the fee. (Kjell Engelbrekt) ESTONIA VOWS SUPPORT FOR RUSSIAN "DEMOCRATIC MAJORITY." On 30 November the Estonian government issued a statement on relations with Russia, the RFE/RL Estonian Service reports. "For the first time in history, both Estonia and Russia "have new governments dedicated to democratic ideals, willing to improve friendly and good-neighborly relations with each other," the statement read. The Estonian government intends to back Russia's democratic majority fully by supporting international project to build housing for troops withdrawing from Estonia; participating in international efforts to provide humanitarian aid to those facing economic hardship in Russia this winter; improving cooperation to secure the Estonian-Russian border against drug trafficking, arms trading, illegal immigration, and smuggling of radioactive material; further helping noncitizens obtain Estonian citizenship; and granting preferred status to Russian goods shipped to third countries via Estonia. (Saulius Girnius) DESPITE YELTSIN'S DIRECTIVE, SOME TROOPS LEAVE LATVIA. The Northwestern Group of Forces announced in mid-November intentions to vacate military facilities in Zvarde and Adazi and departures have already started from the aviation bombardment and weapons training grounds at Zvarde, Diena reported on 25 November. The announcement and its speedy implementation came as a surprise to most Latvians, especially in light of Russian President Boris Yeltsin's 29 October directive suspending the withdrawal of Russian forces from the Baltic States. Still Latvian authorities are worried about the condition of the land left behind. Initial examinations at Zvarde indicate that the Russian troops did not sweep the land mines, defuse explosives, or prepare the land for civilian use. (Dzintra Bungs) RUSSIAN VOUCHERS TO BE SOLD IN LATVIA? An affiliate of the Russian travel agency Turservis in Rezekne, a town in eastern Latvia, has announced plans to sell Russian privatization vouchers to local residents. The vouchers, with a face value of 10,000 Russian rubles, would be sold for 3,000 Latvian rubles or 6,000 Russian rubles apiece. The vouchers could be used to purchase shares in Russian enterprises, BNS reported on 30 November. (Dzintra Bungs) LITHUANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER IN CHINA. On 30 November Audrius Butkevicius arrived in Beijing for a five-day visit, Xinhua reports. He held talks with Chinese Defense Minister Qin Jiwei on friendly exchanges between the armed forces of their countries and international topics. (Saulius Girnius) HAS INSIDER TRADING COME TO WARSAW? The long-established Wedel confectionery company became the center of a financial scandal after its shares on the Warsaw stock exchange unexpectedly rose 10% on 17 November. It was only after trading closed that the company, in which PepsiCo holds a majority share, made public a decision taken by the Finance Ministry on 6 November granting it a three-year tax holiday. Trading in Wedel shares was suspended on 19 and 24 November pending clarification of the company's financial status, and an inquiry was instituted into how the leak occurred. Trading resumed on 27 November, but no Wedel shares could exchange hands because demand exceeded supply by over five times. Wedel expects net profits of 230-billion zloty ($15.3 million) in 1992. (Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba & Charles Trumbull
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