|The fool wonders, the wise man asks. - Benjamin Disraeli|
No. 231, 02 December 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR YELTSIN ASKS CONGRESS FOR STRENGTHENED EXECUTIVE. Russian President Boris Yeltsin has asked the Congress of People's Deputies to agree to a stabilization period of about one-and-a-half years during which the powers of the presidency would be strengthened at the expense of those of the legislature, ITAR-TASS reported on 1-December. Yeltsin's six point proposal included a provision to curtail the powers of the Congress so that its only role in government would be to amend the Constitution. He suggested that only parliament should be empowered to adopt laws, and that all executive powers should be exercised by the president and his cabinet. Yeltsin urged the Congress to allow him to retain the power to appoint ministers without parliamentary approval. Yeltsin said that if Congress agreed to his six-point program, he would be prepared to give up his special powers. Yeltsin indicated that the stabilization period would end when a new Constitution was adopted. (Alexander Rahr) KHASBULATOV SAYS REFORM PROCESS HAS COLLAPSED. Parliamentary speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov told the Congress that the reform process has ended in a "collapse," and that a further decrease in production should not be allowed, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 December. He said that no market mechanism had been created and that the people have lost their motivation to produce. He stated that the population cannot endure the hardship created by reform, and called for a round-table to seek a way out of the crisis. Khasbulatov told the Congress that the composition of the cabinet and the appointment of the prime minister should correspond to the type of market economy favored by the deputies. Yeltsin indicated in his speech that he may move away from the radical free- market policies espoused by Acting Prime Minister Egor Gaidar, and instead favor the more gradual reform ideas supported by the Civic Union. (Alexander Rahr) DEPUTIES COMMENT ON YELTSIN'S, KHASBULATOV'S SPEECHES. Vyacheslav Bragin, chairman of the parliamentary committee on the mass media, praised President Yeltsin's speech at the Congress, saying he thought there was still a chance for a compromise on reform between the Congress and the president. Members of the "Radical Democrats" parliamentary faction and representatives of Russia's provinces supported Yeltsin's plea for a strong executive power. In contrast, a member of the centrist "Smena" faction thought that Yeltsin's speech undermined chances for a compromise. Sergei Baburin, of the hard-line "Russian Unity" faction, said that Yeltsin was striving to accumulate dictatorial powers. Khasbulatov's speech also provoked a mixed reaction. The chairman of the Democratic Center bloc, Vladimir Novikov, said that the speaker's address was the first instance of a high level official telling the whole truth about Russia's situation. Vyacheslav Volkov, of the Democratic Russia, in contrast, accused Khasbulatov of being too populist and of playing on the feelings of the more emotional deputies. These comments were broadcasted on Russian TV on 1 December. (Vera Tolz) DEVELOPMENTS AT THE CONGRESS. As what appeared to be an initial victory for President Yeltsin, the Congress rejected early calls from hardliners for an immediate review of Yeltsin's performance by the Constitutional Court and a vote of confidence in his government, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 December. At the same time, legislators voted in favor of debating a constitutional amendment concerning the new law on the government which would fully subordinate the executive to the parliament. Yeltsin had earlier vetoed the bill, and Acting Prime Minister Egor Gaidar had threatened to resign if the bill became law. The head of the Constitutional Court, Valerii Zorkin, told the Congress that Russia was in a deep constitutional crisis and he appealed to the president and the Congress to cease their confrontation. (Alexander Rahr) BURBULIS SAYS CONGRESS MAJORITY LEANS AGAINST YELTSIN. In an interview with Interfax of 1 December, the head of a group of presidential advisers, Gennadii Burbulis, said a majority of deputies of the Russian Congress who were present on the opening day appeared to be critical of the government and wanted major personnel and policy changes. He estimated that some 450 deputies were critical of the government, whereas around 400 remained loyal supporters. Burbulis said, however, that it seemed unlikely to him that the Congress would approve any major constitutional changes involving the functioning of Russia's council of ministers. (Vera Tolz) YELTSIN ON CIS. In his speech to the Russian Congress of People's Deputies on 1-December, Yeltsin said that in the foreseeable future developments in Russia would depend to a significant extent on the situation in the "near abroad," where Russia's fundamental political, defense, economic, and humanitarian interests lay. Yeltsin went on to say that the CIS had not managed so far to take over worthily the enormous heritage of the former Soviet Union, and that many questions of legal succession and the civilized division of joint property, joint economic infrastructures, army property, and the army itself had been less than half solved. (Ann Sheehy) YELTSIN ON EXPANDING RIGHTS OF SUBJECTS OF FEDERATION. Yeltsin said that the subjects of the federation must be given the right to decide their internal problems themselves, that they should be given a substantial part of the powers of the former central organs, and that their economic independence should be expanded. To counteract separatist tendencies he said that the executive would stimulate the formation of Russian transregional corporations, both private and state, that would include enterprises belonging to different republics, krais, and oblasts. This would do more for the unity of Russia than any state power structure. (Ann Sheehy) YELTSIN ORDER ON PROTECTION OF RIGHTS OF RUSSIAN CITIZENS ABROAD. Yeltsin has issued an order "On Questions of the Defense of the Rights and Interests of Russian (rossiiskie) Citizens Outside the Bounds of the Russian Federation," ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported on 1 December. The order instructs the Russian Ministries of Justice and Foreign Affairs to step up work on concluding legal aid treaties with CIS member-states, Georgia, Latvia, and Estonia, and the conclusion of consular conventions with the states of the former USSR. Russia and Lithuania recently signed a legal aid treaty. The Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense are tasked with accelerating work on concluding agreements with the states of the former USSR on the status of Russian troops on their territory. (Ann Sheehy) CIS SUMMIT RESCHEDULED FOR 25 DECEMBER. Ivan Korotchenya, the head of the working group that organizes CIS summits, said on 1 December that the next summit of CIS heads of state would now take place on 25 December, Interfax reported. Korotchenya said that all the CIS heads of state had confirmed that they would attend. The summit, originally been scheduled for 4 December, had been postponed to 18-December because of the Russian Congress of Deputies. It had to be further rescheduled because Yeltsin will be in China on 18 December. (Ann Sheehy) STATE OF EMERGENCY IN NORTH OSSETIA AND INGUSHETIA EXTENDED. On 1-December at Yeltsin's request the Russian Supreme Soviet extended the state of emergency in North Ossetia and Ingushetia until 30 January 1993, ITAR-TASS reported. The head of the Interim Administration in North Ossetia and Ingushetia, Sergei Shakhrai, described the situation in the conflict area as reminiscent of that in late October when armed clashes took place in Prigorodnyi raion, Interfax reported. Speaking in Vladikavkaz he said that in the village of Chermen terrorists acts were committed almost daily, with both Ossetians and Ingush being victims. (Ann Sheehy) RUSSIAN OFFICERS IN THE BALTICS VS GRACHEV. The Coordinating Council of the Officers' Assemblies of the Baltic region sent an open letter to the Congress of Peoples' Deputies demanding the resignation of Russian Defense Minister General Pavel Grachev. As reported by Interfax on 1 December, the group also called for the restoration of democratic institutions in the military and an investigation into high-level corruption. The Council was particularly critical of what it termed the defense ministry's attempt to withdraw forces from the Baltic states without providing suitable basing sites in Russia. It charged that the armed forces could no longer defend the country from external aggression as a result of the recent reforms. The latter accused Grachev and his deputies of trading in military property, thereby "causing tremendous damage to the forces and the state in general." In October the Council had applauded President Yeltsin's decision to halt the withdrawal of the Northwestern Group of Forces from the Baltic states. (Doug Clarke) FOREIGN POLICY CONCEPT FINALIZED. The Russian Foreign Ministry's concept, a set of principles for guiding foreign policy, has been finalized, Interfax reported on 1-December. In the works since February, the final document does not differ dramatically from the draft version published on 31 October; it is significantly longer, however. The completion of the report and addition of detail is a concession on the part of Foreign Minister Kozyrev. He had previously resisted pressure from opponents to lay down a detailed set of principles for foreign policy on the grounds that such guidelines could not be used effectively in day-to-day practice. In Kozyrev's view, the demands for such a set of guidelines reflected the inability of some to manage without documents like a communist party program or Das Kapital. (Suzanne Crow) CREDIT GUARANTEES FOR FOOD IMPORTS SUSPENDED AGAIN. Russia has been suspended again from the US Agriculture Department's export credit program because of failure to make repayments to lending banks, according to western press agencies on 1-December. Last week Russia was suspended briefly for the same reason, but was reinstated the following day after the overdue payments were made. The Agriculture Department is assuming that this is another temporary interruption. The program gives Russia access to government-backed loans to make food imports from the United States. According to an official from the Russian Finance Ministry, a "cash shortage" is the reason for the default on payments. He also hinted that the Russians are having trouble juggling available funds between the claims of their various creditors. (Sheila Marnie) RUSSIAN OIL PRIVATIZATION DECREE. President Yeltsin has signed a decree that spells out limited privatization plans for the oil industry, The Financial Times reported on 1 December. Foreigners are given the right to acquire up to 15% of the value of oil companies. The Russian government retains a controlling stake, and workers are entitled primarily to non-voting shares. On 30 November, Russian Economics Minister Andrei Nechaev told a news conference that export tariffs for oil would shortly be lowered from $37 to $27 a ton, Reuters reported. (Keith Bush) KAL-007 BLACK BOXES PARTLY EMPTY. During his visit to South Korea in November, President Yeltsin turned over the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder "black boxes" from the Korean KAL-007 airliner shot down in 1983. However, Western news agencies reported on 30 November and 1 December that the tapes from the flight data recorder are missing, while the tapes in the voice recorder are copies. Korean parliamentarians have called for a halt to loans to Russia worth up to $1.5 billion until the matter is resolved, although the government has rejected such a move. In response to a formal inquiry by South Korea, the Russian Foreign Ministry has claimed that it never intended to hand over all the tapes to South Korea, but that it will give them to an investigating committee from the US, Japan, South Korea, Russia, and the International Civil Aviation Organization at a meeting in Moscow on 8 December. (John Lepingwell and Doug Clarke) RUSSIAN ARMED FORCES TAKING CONTRACT SERVICEMEN. Lt. General Gennadii Bochaev, in the organizational and mobilization directorate of the Russian ministry of defense, told ITAR-TASS on 1 December that the Russian armed forces had begun to accept servicemen on a contract basis that day. He indicated that junior commanders, computer specialists, divers, paratroopers, and drivers would be the first to be offered two and three year contracts. (Doug Clarke) KAZAKHS TO PRESENT TERMS FOR OIL AND GAS BIDDING. Interfax reported on 28 November that a delegation from Kazakhstan, headed by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Energy Kadyr Baikenov was traveling to Houston to present terms for bidding on oil and gas exploration rights in three fields in Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan's political stability has made it attractive to foreign petroleum and gas firms. (Bess Brown) "DNIESTER REPUBLIC" EMPLOYING EX-USSR KGB, OMON OFFICERS. At a televised news conference in Tiraspol on 29 November, reported in the local press and summarized by Basapress, the "Dniester republic Security Minister," a Colonel hitherto known as Vadim Shevtsov, confirmed that he is in fact Vladimir Antyufeev, a former high official of Soviet Latvia's KGB and overseer of the OMON (Special Purpose Militia Detachments) in Riga. He said that he and other officers of the ex-USSR KGB and OMON (an MVD unit) and also members of Estonia's Interfront paramilitary group, had been assigned by "Russian democratic forces" to strengthen the "Dniester republic"'s security forces. The officers rejected charges of corruption levelled against them by a local anti- "mafia" crusader, Colonel Mikhail Bergman, whom they accused of being a spy for Israel. (Vladimir Socor) LEBED WEIGHS IN. While proudly admitting their own KGB links, the officers rejected Bergman's charge that the "State Secretary" of the "Dniester republic," Valerii Litskay (who functions as "Foreign Minister"), is also a former KGB staffer involved in corruption. The commander of Russia's 14th Army in Moldova, Lt. General Aleksandr Lebed, however, appeared at news conference in Tiraspol the next day and produced Litskay's KGB personnel file. Lebed's news conference was covered by the "Dniester" media and reported by Basapress on 30 November. (Vladimir Socor) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE PANIC ENTERS SERBIA'S PRESIDENTIAL RACE. Radio Serbia reported on 1-December that Milan Panic, prime minister of rump Yugoslavia, officially announced his candidacy for Serbian president in the elections to be held on 20 December. He told journalists that it is time for a change, since incumbent Slobodan Milosevic has led the country into "economic chaos" and isolated Serbia on the international stage "while war rages uncontrollably" in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Panic, a naturalized US citizen, said he wants to offer "something different, a hope for the future, and a program of reconciliation and economic recovery." Panic reiterated his charge that Milosevic has undercut his efforts as prime minister, a post he has held since 14 July. Twelve candidates have been nominated to enter the presidential race to challenge Milosevic's bid for reelection. The latest polls show Panic leading Milosevic by as much as 25%. (Milan Andrejevich) REACTIONS TO PANIC'S ENTRY. The Serbian electoral committee is challenging Panic's entry by raising questions whether he meets residency requirements. The commission has asked him to submit a new Belgrade residence registration form. A final ruling on the validity of candidacies will be made on 5 December. Under a Serbian law passed last month, only people resident in Serbia for more than a year may run in the elections. Panic's press office is insisting that all the legalities were reviewed before Panic announced his candidacy, while Panic assured reporters, "I was born a Serb." The Democratic Opposition Movement (DEPOS) welcomes Panic's entry. Vuk Draskovic, chairman of the main opposition Serbian Renewal Movement and DEPOS member, said if Panic is allowed to run, Draskovic will step aside and promise his party's support. Draskovic, who was beaten on the first round by Milosevic in the Serbian presidential elections in December 1990, said a rejection by the committee of Panic's candidacy would be a serious political scandal. (Milan Andrejevich) WAR OF WORDS BETWEEN BELGRADE AND TIRANA. On 30 November the Foreign Ministry of the rump Yugoslavia lodged a protest with the Albanian embassy over its position on the war in the former Yugoslavia and of supporting secessionist activities in Serbia's predominantly Albanian province of Kosovo. Belgrade's protest responded to a statement to Western media by Albanian President Sali Berisha on 27 November that he advocates air strikes against military facilities and airports in Serbia-Montenegro as the only method to end the war and to keep it from spreading throughout the Balkans. The protest letter said such statements contradict the obligations that Albania assumed when it joined the CSCE, as well as the UN Charter and principles on which relations between states are based. Radios Serbia and Croatia carried the reports. (Milan Andrejevich) INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENTS IN BOSNIAN CRISIS. International media reported on 1 December that the UN Human Rights Commission has condemned Bosnian Serbs as being primarily responsible for the atrocities in the current conflict, including "ethnic cleansing and systematic rape." The report endorsed recommendations by special envoy Tadeusz Mazowiecki calling for new relief corridors and for setting up safe havens, but did not repeat his call for a stepped-up UN role in the conflict as a whole. That same day Islamic foreign ministers opened a session in Jidda, Saudi Arabia, to discuss the crisis. Bosnian and Saudi leaders called on the UN to lift its arms embargo on Bosnia to counterbalance the Serbs' preponderance in weapons. Public opinion in the Middle East and elsewhere in the Islamic world is pressuring governments to take a more forceful position on behalf of the Bosnians. Reuters reports from Brussels that NATO ships may be stationed off Albania, ostensibly to help tighten the blockade on Montenegro. Albania has been eager for a NATO presence to help deter Serbia from expanding the war into Kosovo and on to Albania. (Patrick Moore) HUNGARY, SLOVENIA SIGN TREATY. On 1 December in Budapest Hungarian Prime Minister Jozsef Antall and his Slovenian counterpart, Janez Drnovsek, signed a basic treaty providing a framework for developing bilateral relations, MTI reports. The two leaders also signed a declaration of intent to introduce a free-trade zone between the two countries. At a joint press conference, the two prime ministers called Hungarian-Slovenian relations "exemplary." Drnovsek also met with President Arpad Goncz and National Assembly Chairman Gyorgy Szabad. (Edith Oltay) PRIME MINISTER GETS HUNGARIAN RADIO & TV BUDGET. Parliament voted on 1-December for an amendment to the 1993 budget that would place the budget of Hungarian Radio and TV under the prime minister's office budget, MTI reports. It was formerly an independent budget item. Opposition parties protested the move as an attempt to place public radio and TV under government control and announced that they will ask the Constitutional Court to rule on the constitutionality of the amendment. Alliance of Free Democrats parliamentary deputy Miklos Haraszti said that the amendment escalated the "media war" into a "total war." Finance Minister Mihaly Kupa commented that since radio and TV operate on public funds it is the duty of the government to supervise their finances. (Edith Oltay) ROMANIAN NATIONAL DAY MARKED. On 1 December Romanians marked the 72nd anniversary of the date on which Transylvania joined the former Kingdom of Romania at the end of World War I. Radio Bucharest reports that President Ion Iliescu received leading politicians, cultural figures, and diplomats at Cotroceni Palace, his official residence. Iliescu hailed the creation of the Romanian "national unitary state" in 1918, and drew a parallel between changes in Europe after World War I and the fall of communism in the late 1980's. He also expressed concern over growing instability in Eastern Europe. The first of December was proclaimed Romania's National Day in July 1990, to replace the traditional communist commemoration on 23 August. (Dan Ionescu) BSP CANDIDATE DECLINES OFFER TO FORM CABINET. On 1 December Zahari Karamfilov told BSP group leader Nora Ananieva he will not try to form a Bulgarian government. According to BTA, Karamfilov pointed to the uncompromising resistance of the UDF, the largest caucus in the National Assembly. Although both the BSP and the MRF favored his candidacy, the former economics professor said UDF support is a precondition for his "government of national accord" formula. Meanwhile, some UDF leaders have already begun to call for new elections, and 59 of the coalition's 110-deputies reportedly signed a declaration calling for further efforts to resolve the current government crisis. (Kjell Engelbrekt) SOLIDARITY ACCEPTS "PACT ON STATE FIRMS," DECLARES STRIKE. In a decision reaffirming the union's two-pronged strategy of tough talk and conciliatory bargaining, Solidarity's national leadership voted on 1 December to accept the government's proposed "pact on state firms," on several conditions. The union said it will sign the pact if the government uses special legislative procedures to ensure that the parliament does not tinker with terms already agreed upon and that legislation governing mass privatization secures union approval. During the same session, the Solidarity leadership declared a two-hour national warning strike for 14 December to demand that the government revise the 1993 budget to prevent real wages from declining. (Louisa Vinton) POLISH GOVERNMENT APPROVES STEEL RESTRUCTURING PLAN. The government accepted a ten-year plan to restructure the steel industry on 1 December, PAP reports. Drawn up by a Canadian consortium, the plan would cut steel production by almost half, from 19 million tons per year to about 10 million, and reduce employment by two- thirds, from 123,000 to 43,500 people. Two huge plants--the Katowice and Sendzimir (formerly Lenin) Mills--are to be merged. The restructuring program will cost $4.5 billion, only part of which can be covered from the state budget. Industry Minister Waclaw Niewiarowski explained that the costs of maintaining unprofitable mills would in a short time outstrip any restructuring costs. He noted that Solidarity has endorsed the program. (Louisa Vinton) POLAND PREPARES TO ADAPT TO EC RIGORS. At the same meeting, the government approved a 120-page program listing the steps needed to adapt the Polish economy to EC conditions. Most important among these are privatization, agricultural reform, and the replacement of the outmoded economic priorities of textiles, steel, and mining with new technologies. The government's report notes that Poland's per capita GNP is only half that of the poorest EC states (Portugal and Greece) and one-quarter that of the richest. PAP reported that the government's plenipotentiary for European integration, Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, argued that the criterion for Poland's full membership in the EC should be "a healthy--rather than wealthy--economy." (Louisa Vinton) CZECH FOREIGN MINISTER ON JOINING EC. Speaking at a press conference in London on 1 December at the close of a two-day visit to Great Britain, Czech Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec said the Czech Republic wants to start discussions by 1996 on a timetable for joining the European Community. He gave the end of century as a target date for the republic to become an EC member. An RFE/RL correspondent in London reports Zieleniec as saying British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd indicated full support for Czech membership but "the problem remained of finding an explicit formulation of general terms for our membership." Zieleniec said he is convinced the formulation can be found. In the meantime, he said, "it is up to us to prepare our economy and society for membership." (Jiri Pehe) EBRD TO HELP BUILD ROADS IN BULGARIA. On 1 December the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development approved a $43-million loan to improve Bulgaria's road system. The loan is intended to upgrade a 32-km section between Plovdiv and Orizovo as well as some 800 km of primary roads serving regional and long-distance traffic. An RFE/RL correspondent in London quoted EBRD Vice President Mario Sarcinelli that the improvements will facilitate traffic in southeastern Europe and help integrate Bulgaria into international markets. (Kjell Engelbrekt) LUBYS NOMINATED AS LITHUANIAN PRIME MINISTER. At the 1 December Seimas session Acting President Algirdas Brazauskas nominated Bronislavas Lubys, deputy prime minister in the former cabinet, as prime minister, Radio Lithuania reports. Lubys, born in 1938, was general manager of Azotas, one of Lithuania's largest industrial enterprises. He led energy talks with Moscow, and was a member of the Liberal faction in the Supreme Council although not a member of any political party. Presenting his program to the Seimas, Lubys noted that his main tasks will be obtaining fuel, regulating financial and banking problems, and revising the tax system. The Seimas will discuss his candidacy on 2 December and are expected to approve his nomination that afternoon. (Saulius Girnius) ESTONIAN-RUSSIAN TALKS. On 1 December Prime Minister Mart Laar appointed Minister without Portfolio Juri Luik to head the Estonian delegation for talks with Moscow, Radio Tallinn reports. Foreign Minister Trivimi Velliste has arrived in Moscow for a two- day visit during which, on 2 December, he will hold talks with Andrei Kozyrev on bilateral relations. The two foreign ministers are expected to sign a consular agreement. (Saulius Girnius) MORE ON TROOP WITHDRAWAL FROM LATVIA. Ilgonis Upmalis, head of the office overseeing the withdrawal of Russian troops from Latvia, told BNS on 1 December that the Latvian government has resolved to establish two commissions supervising the transfer of Russian army facilities in Latvia. He said the process can be speeded up if similar commissions are established by the Russian military leadership and if the facilities to be handed over are first cleared of explosives and other dangers. Upmalis added that no concrete timetables for the transfer of Zvarde and Adazi have been worked out because the local commanders do not have the authority to relinquish the facilities. (Dzintra Bungs) RUSSIANS RALLY IN LATVIA, ESTONIA. On 1 December several organizations representing Soviet war veterans, Russian citizens, and civilian employees of the Northwestern Group of Forces picketed in front of the Latvian Supreme Council in Riga. Expressing support for the USSR, they demanded the release of former Latvian communist chief Alfreds Rubiks and equal rights for both citizens and noncitizens of Latvia, Radio Riga reports. In Estonia six organizations representing mostly Russians and other Eastern Slavs drafted a charter for a Community of Russian-Speaking Residents of Estonia, a voluntary, social organization that says it would like to participate in affairs of the state and society in Estonia and maintain contacts with the government of Russia and other states, BALTFAX reports. (Dzintra Bungs) MEMORIAL TO JEWS ERECTED IN RIGA. Diena reports that on 29 November a monument was unveiled in Riga to commemorate the thousands of Jews killed in Latvia during World War II. The monument marks the site of the synagogue burned down by the Nazis in July, 1941. (Dzintra Bungs) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba & Charles Trumbull
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