|Life is what happens to us while we're making other plans. - John Lennon|
No. 232, 03 December 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR GAIDAR'S SPEECH TO THE CONGRESS. Addressing a largely hostile and in part uncomprehending Congress of People's Deputies on 2 December, Acting Prime Minister Egor Gaidar defended his administration's record over the past year and vowed to maintain a course of radical economic reform, Russian and Western agencies reported. Among the successes listed were the absence of massive and widespread unrest, a slowing down in the fall of production, and some recent orders for arms sales. Gaidar conceded failures in limiting the budget deficit, and warned that the greatest danger now facing Russia was hyperinflation. (Keith Bush) WILL GAIDAR REMAIN IN OFFICE? After listening to Egor Gaidar's speech, hardliners said that they will intensify efforts to oust him and the cabinet, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Moscow on 2-December. Reformist deputies stated that the chances for Gaidar's remaining in office were 50:50. Christian democratic leader Viktor Aksyuchits proposed replacing Gaidar with Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi, Interfax reported the same day. A leader of the Civic Union, Arkadii Volsky, suggested that the Russian ambassador to France, Yurii Ryzhov, be selected to become prime minister. Another Civic Union leader, Nikolai Travkin, asserted that President Yeltsin had already spoken to Ryzhov about this possibility. (Alexander Rahr) RUTSKOI PRAISES CIVIC UNION; CRITICIZES GAIDAR. In an interview with Literaturnaya gazeta of 2 December, Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi suggested that the Civic Union had become the main centrist force in Russia capable of striking a balance between the extreme right and left. Rutskoi himself is a member of the Union, and his People's Party of Free Russia is one of the three main original cofounding organizations in it. Rutskoi said that the Gaidar government was overtly optimistic about the country's economic situation, and insisted that the Civic Union was offering an important and realistic appraisal of current problems. When he spoke at the Congress, Rutskoi also attacked Gaidar. The same day, in an interview with an RFE/RL correspondent, another leader of the Civic Union, Nikolai Travkin, also attacked the cabinet, and claimed that Gaidar was not suitable as prime minister. An RFE/RL correspondent in Moscow said that Yeltsin and members of the Civic Union are currently conducting confidential talks concerning a new prime minister. (Vera Tolz) DEVELOPMENTS AT CONGRESS. The chief economist of the Civic Union, Iosif Diskin, has detected "serious conceptual differences between the economic visions" of Egor Gaidar and President Yeltsin. He told a news conference that Yeltsin had stated clearly his acceptance of the main policy positions of the Civic Union, whereas Gaidar was not seeking such a compromise with the political center, Reuters reported on 2 December. In his speech to the Congress, Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi complained that both conservative and liberal forces have disrupted his efforts to implement agricultural reform, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. He said that without government credits, reform in the agricultural sector will end this spring. (Alexander Rahr) DEMOCRATIC DEPUTIES LOBBY FOR CONSTITUTIONAL ASSEMBLY. A group of deputies from democratic factions intend to suggest to the Congress the creation of a special body to write and adopt a new Russian Constitution. The deputies, Aleksei Manannikov, Vyacheslav Volkov and Marina Sale, began collecting signatures on 2 December to support the proposal which calls on the Congress to set up a Constitutional Assembly, an RFE/RL correspondent in Moscow reported. Sale, a leader of Democratic Russia, and Gavriil Popov, a leader of the Russian Movement for Democratic Reforms, earlier proposed the creation of the Assembly to replace the Congress; now they do not suggest the Congress' disbandment. They think that the assembly might not be an elected body, but could instead be formed through consensus between Yeltsin and the Congress. They say that after a new Russian Constitution is adopted, the assembly could be dissolved and the Congress would be in charge of adopting laws, including those concerning the constitution. (Vera Tolz) CONGRESS TO END ON SATURDAY? On 2 December "Vesti" quoted Russian parliamentary speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov as saying that the current session of the Congress of People's Deputies will end on Saturday, 5 December. The Congress was originally expected to last until 9-December. "Novosti" noted that the current session is unusually quiet, so much so that the deputies have subjected Khasbulatov and Acting Prime Minister Egor Gaidar to no questioning whatsover. This apparent passivity on the deputies' part was explained by the "Vesti" anchor, who quoted an unidentified Civic Union leader as saying that all important political issues are being settled behind the scenes. Consequently, the deputies have very little work to do in the main hall of the Congress. (Julia Wishnevsky) TATARSTAN VICE-PRESIDENT COMMENTS ON ZORKIN'S SPEECH. Tatarstan Vice-President Vasilii Likhachev said in Kazan on 2 December that the main difficulty in Tatarstan's relations with Russia was a process whereby "a dynamically changing political reality comes into contradiction with legal conservatism," Interfax reported. Likhachev was commenting on the speech at the Russian Congress of People's Deputies on 1 December by the chairman of the Russian Constitutional Court Valerii Zorkin. Zorkin had called in strong terms for observance of the existing Russian constitution, pointing out that it made no provision for the status of an associated state, which Tatarstan claims in its new constitution. Clearly concerned at signs that the Russian leadership may be prepared to reach a compromise over Tatarstan's status, Zorkin argued that unless the deputies made sure that the existing constitution was observed there would never be any need for a new constitution. (Ann Sheehy) NUCLEAR SAFETY VIOLATIONS IN UKRAINE. A deputy chairman of Ukraine's Atomic Energy Inspection Agency told AFP on 2 December that the safety systems at the South Ukraine nuclear power station were switched off at least three times this year in order to boost electricity generation. On the occasions when the safety systems were turned off, no record was made of the dates or the names of those who had authorized the action. Part of the problem in identifying such breaches of nuclear safety was that Ukraine could not afford to pay adequate salaries to safety inspectors. Three out of five inspectors left during the past year. (Keith Bush) OPPONENT SAYS YELTSIN/BUSH NUKE DEAL ONE-SIDED. An opposition politician on 2 December charged that an agreement dated 17 June 1992 between Presidents Bush and Yeltsin, which promised U.S. help in dismantling Russian nuclear weapons, was an act of Russian unilateral disarmament. Mikhail Astafev, a member of the "Russian Unity" faction, said that a document he was given proved that the agreement would allow U.S. servicemen free access to any part of Russia and its installations, making Russia "an occupied territory." Sergei Yastrembsky, head of the Russian Foreign Ministry's information department, said that "this totally false assertion indicates that the people who made it are either legally incompetent or cannot read what is written in black and white." The exchange was reported by Interfax and ITAR-TASS. (Doug Clarke) NUMBER TWO MAN IN GRU DIES IN CAR CRASH. The number two man in the GRU (military intelligence), Col. General Yurii Gusev, has died in a head-on, "frontal" car crash on a highway near Moscow, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 December. His driver and wife were slightly wounded. According to the Moscow traffic police, the reason for the crash was negligence on the part of the other car's driver, who also died in the crash. The death of Gusev is the second recent unnatural death of a high-ranking military intelligence officer. On 26 November, five youths murdered the colonel of the eighth administration of the Russian general staff, Vladimir Zenin. Zenin was responsible for internal security and classification on the general staff. According to the Moscow police, the five youths stated that they killed the colonel in order to steal his car. (Victor Yasmann) UNEMPLOYMENT HITS WOMEN HARDEST. According to a report presented to the Congress of People's Deputies by the Russian State Committee for Statistics (Goskomstat), the level of unemployment on 1 October was only 0.45%, but 50-75% of the unemployed are said to be women, Interfax reported on 2 December. The number of registered unemployed was 367,500, of whom 219,000 were receiving unemployment benefits. Every third unemployed person was under 29 years old, and above-average levels of unemployment were recorded in the Yaroslavl, Kostroma, Pskov, Ivanov and Sakhalin Oblasts, the Mordov SSR, the city of St.-Petersburg, as well as the North Caucasus. Above- average figures in the latter region cannot, however, be attributed to the reform process, since a lack of jobs there was already a problem in the pre-reform period. (Sheila Marnie) UKRAINE WANTS ITS SOLDIERS OUT OF HOT SPOTS. Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk signed a decree on 1 December calling for the repatriation of all Ukrainian officers and men serving in Georgia and Tajikistan. According to Interfax of 2 December, the cabinet of ministers has been directed to guarantee the return of the soldiers by February 1993, and of the officers when their tours of duty are up. Apparently, the host republics have not fully agreed to these terms, as the agency reports said that delegations from the ministry of defense and two public committees supporting servicemen would be required to visit Georgia and Tajikistan for negotiations on the return of the servicemen. (Doug Clarke) AZERBAIJAN CLAIMS RIGHT TO DEFEND CO-NATIONALS IN GEORGIA. Addressing the National Council on 1 December, Azerbaijan parliament speaker Isa Gambarov claimed that the human rights of the 300,000 strong Azerbaijani minority in Georgia have been violated, and that Azerbaijanis there are threatened with mass deportation, Assa-Irada reported on 2 December. Gambarov argued that Azerbaijan has the right to defend its conationals "at any cost." The National Council will send a delegation to Georgia to discuss the situation. Azerbajanis in Georgia addressed an appeal to the Azerbaijani parliament in the spring of this year. (Liz Fuller) TAJIK LEGISLATURE APPROVES NEW GOVERNMENT. The Supreme Soviet of Tajikistan approved most of Prime Minister Abdumalik Abdullodzhonov's nominees for a new Cabinet of Ministers on 2 December, but rejected the appointment of former Supreme Soviet Chairman and Acting President Akbarsho Iskandarov to head the State Committee for Foreign Economic Relations, according to ITAR-TASS and Radio Dushanbe. Appointments for the posts of minister of defense and internal affairs and of chairman of the national security committee (formerly KGB) were apparently not announced. Only four of the ministerial appointees had held posts in the previous Government of National Reconciliation. (Bess Brown) AGREEMENT ON TROOP PULLBACK ALONG BORDER WITH CHINA. Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, and Tajikistan-forming a single delegation at the eighth round of border talks, held in Beijing-agreed with China to pull most of their troops back 100 kilometers on each side of the 7,500-kilometer border between China and the four CIS states. According to Izvestiya of 3 December, the parties would be allowed to keep a limited number of troops in the border zone. Large cuts will be made in offensive weapons in the zone. The paper reported that the cuts would be spread out over a fairly long period, perhaps up to the year 2000. A ninth round of talks will be held in Moscow, but the date was not announced. (Doug Clarke) KAZAKHSTAN'S INTERIOR MINISTERS WANTS BANK OVERSIGHT RIGHTS. Kazakhstan's Ministry of Internal Affairs has asked President Nursultan Nazarbaev for the right to oversee large-scale bank transactions, Interfax reported on 1 December. The ministry's proposal calls for banks to be required to report transfers to private accounts of sums exceeding 100,000 rubles in order to verify the legality of the activity that generated the payment. The ministry also wants the right to obtain information about ongoing financial operations ad the amount of money in individual accounts and those of legal entities such as enterprises. The reason given by Minister of Internal Affairs Vladimir Shumov for the request is the amount of money Kazakhstan has lost in questionable financial transactions: 8,200,000,000 rubles in 1992 alone. (Bess Brown) FROM RUSSIAN TO "DNIESTER" ARMY IN MOLDOVA? As cited by Interfax, Nezavisimaya Moldova reported on 2 December from "reliable sources" that an operation on the transfer of equipment from Russia's 14th Army to "Dniester" forces is in progress; and that the Army's commander, Lt. General Aleksandr Lebed, has signed relevant documents with "Dniester republic president" Igor Smirnov. This would be consistent with the position of the Russian delegation headed by Col. General Eduard Vorobev, Deputy Chief of Staff of Russia's Armed Forces, at the talks in Chisinau on 18-20 November; with Vorobev's and Lebed's interviews on Tiraspol TV on 21 November, and with Lebed's interview in Dnestrovskaya Pravda of 25 November and speech to the "Dniester republic Supreme Soviet" on 2 December. In all of these statements it was announced that the equipment of 14th Army units slated for eventual withdrawal from Moldova would be turned over to the "local authorities" in the "Dniester republic" or "sold" locally and that the units themselves would be "disbanded" locally instead of being withdrawn (thus facilitating personnel transfers to the "Dniester" forces). (Vladimir Socor) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE LUBYS ELECTED LITHUANIAN PRIME MINISTER. On 2 December the Seimas approved the nomination of Bronislavas Lubys as prime minister by a vote of 87-to 0 with 40 abstentions, Radio Lithuania reports. The abstentions were by the right-of-center Homeland Concord, whose 52 deputies noted that they have nothing against Lubys personally but feel he might have to follow the policy of the Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party, against which they have pledged to be a constructive opposition. (Saulius Girnius) CONTROVERSIAL BULGARIAN DISSIDENT ASKED TO FORM GOVERNMENT. On 2 December former dissident and political prisoner Petar Boyadzhiev was tapped by President Zhelyu Zhelev to form a government. Despite his optimism, the prime minister- designate is believed to have little prospect of carrying out his task. Most political observers seem to believe that the mere fact that he was nominated by by the Bulgarian Socialist Party (successor of the communist party) would probably be enough to guarantee that he would not succeed, After a meeting with the new nominee, UDF Chairman and Acting Prime Minister Filip Dimitrov told BTA that the coalition remains committed not to support a BSP candidate. Shortly after his return from French exile in 1991 to set up a nationalist-oriented party, the 51-year-old Boyadzhiev emerged as a controversial political figure, partly for his sharp criticism of the mainly Turkish MRF party. MRF leader Ahmed Dogan commented that the BSP nomination was unacceptable and ridiculed the idea of a "government of national accord." Boyadzhiev will need at least partial backing from either the UDF or the MRF parliamentary group. He has seven days to create a new cabinet. (Kjell Engelbrekt) ISLAMIC CONFERENCE ISSUES DECLARATION ON BOSNIA. International media report from Jidda on 3 December that foreign ministers of member states in the Organization of the Islamic Conference have agreed to admit Albania, Kyrgyzstan, and Zanzibar, and have issued a declaration on Bosnia. The text calls on the UN to intervene militarily to end Serbian aggression and to lift the arms embargo on Bosnia to enable it to defend itself against the much better armed Serbian forces. The ministers also want the UN to block the flow of arms from Montenegro and Serbia to Serb troops in Bosnia. The declaration urges the Security Council to act on the Bosnian crisis by 15 January, and the BBC said that observers took this to mean that OIC countries could then feel free to arm Bosnia if the UN fails to intervene by then. Iran, like Serbia, has been trying to portray the conflict as a religious one, while Turkey, like Bosnia and Croatia, has stressed that the war is about land and power. Turkey has urged the UN to consider intervention and has already offered to provide a force. (Patrick Moore) LEADING BOSNIAN JOURNALISTS WIN AWARD. Reuters on 1 December said the International Women's Media Foundation in New York presented its courage-in-journalism award to two editors of the Sarajevo daily Oslobodjenje, Kemal Kurspahic and Gordana Knezevic. Kurspahic told reporters that the award "is a symbolic sign that what we do is not unnoticed." The daily has managed to appear fairly regularly throughout the conflict under the most trying of human and material circumstances. Elsewhere in the Bosnian conflict, the latest issue of the German weekly Stern runs a cover story the plight of the Muslim women who are victims of systematic rape by Serbian militiamen. The article notes that some of the women are refusing to yield to despair and resignation, and shows a photo of some of them praying in the Muslim fashion and wearing the uniform of the Bosnian army. (Patrick Moore) TENSION BETWEEN ROMANIA AND RUMP YUGOSLAVIA. In separate interviews with Radio Bucharest on 2 December, Romania's Deputy Foreign Minister Traian Chebeleu and Transport Minister Paul Teodoru suggested that tension between Romania and rump Yugoslavia is increasing over recent Romanian moves to enforce the UN embargo against Serbia and Montenegro. Three Yugoslav-flag ships sailing on the Danube with cargoes of fuel oil and coal were detained by Romania between 27 November and 2-December. Belgrade retaliated by holding a Romanian tugboat and six barges returning from Germany. It later brought Danube shipping to a halt by closing a sluice at the Iron Gates hydroelectric dam. Teodoru said that halting river traffic could have "extremely grave consequences" for Romania. A second sluice, on the Romanian side, is closed for repair work. (Dan-Ionescu) ROMANIAN OFFICIAL ON UNION WITH MOLDOVA. Adrian Dohotaru, an undersecretary of state with the Romanian Foreign Ministry, said on 1 December that his country hopes to unite with the former Soviet republic of Moldova within a few years. During Dohotaru's visit to Washington Western agencies quoted him as saying that Bucharest favors a policy of gradual integration with the neighboring republic rather than a quick "German-style" unification. Dohotaru stressed that his government has no target date for reunification, and unforseeable developments in the former Soviet Union could speed up the process, but Dohotaru said he personally believes it could happen within eight years. (Dan Ionescu) ROMANIAN LEFTIST LEADER MEETS CHINESE PARTY OFFICIAL. The leader of Romania's Socialist Labor Party, Ilie Verdet, met a top Chinese communist official in Beijing on 2 December and praised China's economic policies. Verdet, who was prime minister under Nicolae Ceausescu from 1979 to 1982, was received by Li Ruihuan, standing committee member of the Communist Party Central Committee. Xinhua reports that Verdet hailed the "profound changes" which have taken place in China. The SLP, which is the successor to the Romanian Communist Party, won 13 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 5 in the Senate in this autumn's parliamentary elections. (Dan Ionescu) CZECHOSLOVAK PARLIAMENT VOTES TO DISSOLVE FEDERAL MEDIA. On 2 December, the Federal Assembly approved the dissolution of Czechoslovak Television, Czechoslovak Radio, and the Czechoslovak Press Agency (CSTK) on 1 January 1993, when Czechoslovakia is to split into two states. While Czechoslovak TV and Radio will continue to operate until 31 December 1992, CSTK was abolished de facto in November, when its assets were divided between two newly established republican press agencies-the Czech Press Agency (CTK) and the Press Agency of the Slovak Republic (TA SR). CTK reports that on 2 December the Federal Assembly also voted to dissolve the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences as of 1 January 1993 and transfer its assets to the Czech Academy of Sciences and the Slovak Academy of Sciences. (Jiri Pehe) POLAND READIES COAL RESTRUCTURING PLAN. At a press conference on 2 December, Industry Minister Waclaw Niewiarowski outlined the government's plans to restructure the ailing Polish coal industry. Employment is to be reduced by nearly half (150,000 miners will lose their jobs) over ten years, while coal extraction will continue at the same level. Productivity is to double. No plan yet exists to create new jobs for displaced miners. The mines, which now operate as independent financial entities, will be grouped into seven holding companies, a measure that will force the profit-makers to support the bankrupts. Only 22 mines operate at a profit; 41-are loss-makers. The government anticipates that the mines themselves will cover some restructuring costs, which is likely to mean higher prices for coal. (Louisa Vinton) POLISH FARMERS FORM PROTEST COMMITTEE. Four farmers' unions, including Rural Solidarity and the radical Self-Defense union, banded together in Warsaw on 2 December to form a joint protest committee. The meeting was originally called to organize protests against competition from foreign food imports, but the agenda quickly grew to include the farmers' ritual demands: debt-relief, "social control" over the privatization of state farms, guaranteed minimum purchase prices, and bigger budgetary subsidies. PAP reported that the nature of the protests was left undefined, but Polish TV said on 2-December that the farmers had not ruled out blockades at border crossings. (Louisa Vinton) INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION FALLS IN HUNGARY. According to a report by the Ministry of Industry and Trade based on data released by the Central Statistical Office, industrial production fell by 22.2% in the first nine months of the year compared to the same period last year, MTI reports. The pace of decline has slackened, however, dropping from 19.5% in the first quarter to only 5% in the third quarter. Production in the pharmaceutical, gas, silk, and fur industries fell, while growth was registered in heavy industry and the chemical, oil, and paper sectors. The ministry blames the fall on a sharp decline in domestic demand. (Edith Oltay) HUNGARIAN STUDENTS DEMONSTRATE. University and college students held demonstrations throughout Hungary on 1 December to protest government plans to introduce a uniform monthly tuition of 2,000 forint in 1993, MTI reports. The students demanded that the introduction of tuition be coupled with a comprehensive reform of the higher education system and that student loans be made available. The students also urged that revenue from tuition be earmarked for financing higher education. (Edith Oltay) UN FINDS NO VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN LATVIA. According to a summary report of the fact-finding mission by a team from the UN Human Rights Commission issued after a visit to Latvia on 27-30 October 1992 and published by the UN, no gross or systematic violations of human rights were found. The report noted, however, that among some of the national minorities there is a sense of insecurity that stems from concern about "the future status and the civil, political, and economic rights of the non- ethnic population of Latvia, as well as for the present draft law on citizenship, the application of the language law and the registration of Latvia's inhabitants." After examining Latvia's citizenship laws and draft legislation, the commission said that "Latvia is not in breach of international law by the way it determines the criteria for granting its citizenship" and noted that "no one has as yet been deprived of citizenship and no segment of the population has been disenfranchised." (Dzintra Bungs) MAJORITY OF RUSSIANS IN LATVIA WANT LATVIAN CITIZENSHIP. According to a recent poll conducted by the All-Russian Center for Public Opinion Research, 75% of the Russians living in Latvia believe that over the last 2-3 years the attitude towards them has worsened in Latvia; 32% of the respondents believe that a mass exodus of Russians from Latvia will begin in the near future, Interfax/Baltfax reported on 30 November. Nonetheless, the same poll shows that 69% of the Russian respondents questioned want to adopt Latvian citizenship. (Dzintra Bungs) MIGRATION FIGURES FOR LATVIA. According to a BNS report of 30 November, the number of emigrants from Latvia exceeded by about 30,000 the number of immigrants during the first 9 months of this year. About 33,000 of the 35,000 emigrants went to the republics of the former USSR: for example 16,116 to Russia, 7,012 to Belarus, and 6,297 to Ukraine. Among those who left Latvia, 20,173 were ethnic Russians and 5,478 were Ukrainians. Also 833 Latvians left Latvia, while 913-Latvians have returned. Some 406 persons emigrated to the United States, 250 to Israel, and 176-to Germany. (Dzintra Bungs) ESTONIAN-RUSSIAN TALKS. On 2 December at a press conference in Moscow, Estonian and Russian Foreign Ministers Trivimi Velliste and Andrei Kozyrev called their talks a "very successful beginning of an intensive dialogue." Velliste told the RFE/RL Estonian Service that Russia has dropped its objections to Estonia's Citizenship Law as discriminatory. He said Russia has apparently acknowledged the need for an Estonian-language requirement and expressed interest in practical questions such as the objectivity of the language exams for naturalization. Velliste said that his government is considering simplifying the language exam for some old and handicapped people. Moreover, since unemployment benefits can be counted as a source of income, Russian-speaking residents need not fear that they will be refused Estonian citizenship should they lose their jobs. The foreign ministers signed a consular treaty and discussed opening consulates in Narva and St. Petersburg. (Saulius Girnius) PROGRESS IN DEPARTURE OF RUSSIAN TROOPS FROM LITHUANIA. On 2 December Lietuvos rytas reported that already there is no Russian military presence in Vilnius, but Col. Valerii Frolov, the Russian army commander in Vilnius, told BNS that the newspaper was "a bit too early," for the act of transfer of territory of the 107th Infantry Division would only be signed on 3 December. The withdrawal, he said, is proceeding according to the schedule signed by the Russian and Lithuanian Defense Ministers on 7 September, that calls for the complete withdrawal of the 107th division from Lithuania by 15 December. (Saulius Girnius) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba & Charles Trumbull
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