|The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none. - Thomas Carlyle 1975-1881|
No. 233, 04 December 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR YELTSIN, RUTSKOI SEEK MORE POWER AT PARLIAMENT'S EXPENSE. Russian President Boris Yeltsin has asked Congress to provide him special powers, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Moscow on 2 December. Yeltsin presented a draft resolution that would empower him to submit to the parliament draft legislation on economic reform issues. Parliament would have to consider the president's draft laws in the first reading without examining them in committee. Parliament would have no right to alter the proposed law without consulting the president. Hardliners immediately asserted that Yeltsin was now seeking not only additional, but emergency powers. Aleksandr Rutskoi also demanded an increase in his vice presidential powers, Radio Rossii reported on 2 December. (Alexander Rahr) RUSSIAN CONGRESS CRITICIZES CABINET, SEEKS NEW POWERS. After ending debates on the state of the economy, legislators are expected to adopt a resolution describing the cabinet's performance as "unsatisfactory," ITAR-TASS reported on 3 December. First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Shumeiko stated that anyone who wants Acting Prime Minister Egor Gaidar replaced should be regarded as an opponent of reform, according to "Novosti" on 3 December. In the next few days, the legislators want to adopt amendments to the existing Constitution, altering one fifth of its provisions. They especially want to strengthen legislative control over the executive branch. The Congress' focus on altering the Constitution may delay the adoption of a new Constitution, which President Yeltsin regards as a prerequisite to continuing the reform process. (Alexander Rahr) REGIONAL LEADERS TO SUPPORT GAIDAR, BUT . . . President Yeltsin met with the leaders of the republics and regions of the Russian Federation, and asked them whether they would support the candidacy of Egor Gaidar for the post of prime minister. Gaidar is now the acting prime minister. On 3 December, "Novosti" quoted "very informed Kremlin insider sources" as saying that the republican and regional leaders agreed to support Gaidar in the first round of voting, but stated that if Gaidar failed the first time to receive the necessary majority, they would not again support his candidacy. They reportedly suggested that if Gaidar is rejected by the Congress, Yeltsin should nominate the present Secretary of the Security Council, Yurii Skokov. (Alexander Rahr) CIVIC UNION SAYS IT WILL SUPPORT GAIDAR. Speaking with reporters on 3 December, Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Shokhin said that after long discussions the Civic Union had decided to support Egor Gaidar's candidacy for the post of prime minister, Radio Rossii reported. The same day, Interfax quoted President Yeltsin's press secretary Vyacheslav Kostikov as saying the president will formally nominate Gaidar for the prime minister's post at the Congress on 4 December. Kostikov said Yeltsin did not have a candidate better able to deal with the economy. (Vera Tolz) BRAWL ERUPTS AT RUSSIAN CONGRESS. A fist fight erupted at the Congress of People's Deputies on 3 December, and it was covered live by Russian radio and TV. The brawl began when the Congress was considering possible changes in the Russian Constitution suggested earlier by parliament. One amendment would require parliamentary approval of key government posts, including those of the prime minister and his deputies. When the speaker, Ruslan Khasbulatov, suggested a vote on this proposed amendment by secret ballot, liberal supporters of Egor Gaidar and his market-oriented reforms rushed to the rostrum to argue with the speaker. Khasbulatov requested that other deputies "safeguard" him. Fist fights and shoving immediately ensued. (Julia Wishnevsky) COMMUNISTS EXPRESS HOPE FOR REVIVAL OF STRONG PARTY. Inspired by the Russian Constitutional Court ruling that President Yeltsin should not have banned local Communist Party cells, the last first secretary of the once-banned Russian Communist Party (RCP), Valentin Kuptsov, expressed hopes that local CP organizations would be restored by the end of the year and that at least one-third of the Party's former members would return. In an interview with Interfax on 3 December, Kuptsov called on Russia's officially registered pro-Communist groups: the Communist Union, the Socialist Party of Working People, the Russian Party of Communists and the Russian Communist Workers' Party, to join him in reviving the RCP. Kuptsov claimed that the RCP could easily become the largest political party in Russia. The same day, Pravda called for a congress of the RCP in Moscow on 5-6 December. (Vera Tolz) CPD RESOLUTION ON ECONOMIC REFORMS. The drafting commission of the Russian Congress of People's Deputies has drawn up a resolution on the progress of economic reforms, Interfax reported on 3-December. This recommends that the Congress confirm the strategy of transition to a free market economy, but lists a series of alleged mistakes by the government in the implementation of this goal. It calls for priority to be given to measures to halt the fall in production and for adjustment in the terms of trade between agriculture and industry. It suggests that the government submit to the parliament within one month a program of anti-crisis measures. (Keith Bush) RUTSKOI CONCEDES FAILURE OF AGRICULTURAL REFORM. In his speech on 2-December to the Congress of People's Deputies, Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi admitted that "reform in the countryside had come to nothing," Russian and Western agencies reported. Rutskoi, who has the no-win portfolios on agriculture, conversion, and health, blamed the impasse on the fact that he had been given "responsibility without authority-a particularly Russian invention." He reckoned that it costs 30 million rubles to set up a private farm, but no funds had been allocated. Rutskoi asked the Congress to pass legislation on agricultural reform. (Keith Bush) RUSSIAN WHEAT PURCHASE PRICES DOUBLED. A Russian government decree of 30-November doubles the prices paid for above-plan sales of bread-quality wheat, Interfax reported on 3 December. The previous price averaged 12,000-12,500 rubles a ton: the new prices will approximate market levels. The government's decision appears to concede defeat in the confrontation with farmers who have been withholding their grain. Against an annual requirement of some 20 million tons for bread-quality wheat, the state has so far purchased about 11.6 million tons. In addition to the higher price, farms will also be granted a 40% discount on the purchase of agricultural equipment and preferential credit rates of 28%. (Keith Bush) PROPOSED INDEXATION OF SAVINGS CHALLENGED. In an interview with Interfax on 2-December, Russian Social Security Minister Ella Panfilova described as "unrealistic" President Yeltsin's call during his speech to the Congress on 1 December for all savings to be indexed. (Yeltsin had not specified how frequently the indexation was to be carried out). Panfilova preferred a program of selective indexation, targeting the more vulnerable groups. She cited estimates that put 80% of the population on or below the poverty level. (Keith Bush) DEPUTIES ATTACK ECONOMIC REFORM. Of 22-deputies to have addressed the Congress during a discussion of economic reform on 3 December, only one had anything nice to say about the Gaidar cabinet, and even this praise was quite limited. Russian radio and TV broadcast speeches during which delegates complained about Gaidar's "bankrupt government," and such statements were welcomed with applause from the audience. However, only a minority of deputies seemed prepared to impeach a popularly elected president; far more appeared ready to sack Gaidar, Gennadii Burbulis (who is especially unpopular among delegates), and other Yeltsin aides. Supporters of democratic change appeared to have given up trying to defend the reform program, preferring instead to concentrate on supporting constitutional changes that would enable Yeltsin to enact reforms without parliamentary approval. (Julia Wishnevsky) RUBLE EXCHANGE RATE RISES AGAIN. The ruble is continuing to rise against the dollar, trading at the Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange for 398 to one US dollar on 3 December, according to Reuters on the same day. Interfax reports an official of the Russian Central Bank as attributing the current halt in the ruble's decline against the dollar to: positive general economic trends, such as the fact that privatization is now underway and a revival in interenterprise trading; the blocking of the flow of rubles from former republics; a crack down on "speculative activities" on the part of the Central Bank; and an increase in the demand for rubles due to the fact that the fiscal year is coming to an end. Volume traded on the exchange was $54.48 million. (Sheila Marnie) KHASBULATOV MOVES AGAINST PARLIAMENTARY PRESS COMMITTEE. Parliamentary speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov suggested that the Congress abolish the parliamentary Committee for Mass Media and Information, Ekho Moskvy reported on 2 December. This committee includes liberals who fiercely opposed Khasbulatov's recent attempts to curb the freedom of the press. Other lawmakers stated that the committee should be restructured, but not abolished. In a move to gain support from deputies, Khasbulatov proposed that the Congress convene every three months instead of at irregular, less formal intervals, as is now the case. He also suggested that the Congress end by Saturday, Radio Rossii reported on 3-December. Alexander Rahr) YELTSIN ENLISTS ALEKSANDR YAKOVLEV. On 3-December, President Yeltsin decreed the establishment of a commission for the rehabilitation of the victims of political oppression, and appointed former Politburo member Aleksandr Yakovlev as its chairman, Russian radio and TV newscasts reported. The decree stated that the commission will include the minister of security and the head of the state archives committee. The move is politically significant because it involves the recruitment by Yeltsin of a long-time Gorbachev adviser. Recently, the media has criticized the Russian government for using information in the CPSU archives against certain politicians, including Yakovlev. (Julia Wishnevsky) TATAR CALLS FOR VOLGA-URAL CONFEDERATION. At its session on 2 December the presidium of the milli-mejlis, the unofficial Tatar national parliament, supported the initiative of the All-Union Tatar Public Center and various national movements of Chuvashia and Mari-El for the creation of a Confederation of Peoples of the Volga and Ural regions, Interfax reported on 3 December. A member of the presidium suggested it could start as a social union, and then become something similar to the Confederation of the Peoples of the Caucasus. The purpose of creating the confederation-in which Tatars would play a major role-would be the economic integration of the republics and oblasts of the two regions and help in developing national cultures. (Ann Sheehy) DISARMAMENT OF ILLEGAL FORMATIONS IN NORTH OSSETIA AND INGUSHETIA. Sergei Shakhrai, the head of the interim administration in North Ossetia, said on 3 December that the authorities had started disarming illegal formations in the conflict zone, and the interior troops had confiscated a rocket launcher, an air defense gun, as well as machine guns and other weapons, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. Shakhrai told ITAR-TASS that information coming in suggested that there were forces on both sides who intended to resume hostilities after 10 December when the traditional 40-day mourning period will end. At a press conference in Moscow on 3 December, the chairman of the North Ossetian parliament, Akhsarbek Galazov, reiterated that Ingushetia had no right to the Prigorodnyi raion and therefore the Ingush proposal that the raion be put under direct presidential or federal rule was unacceptable. (Ann Sheehy) KABARDIAN CONGRESS PUTS BORDER QUESTIONS ON ICE TILL 1995. The chairman of the Congress of the Kabardian People, former USSR deputy Yurii Kalmykov, told Interfax on 3 December that the congress had decided not to pursue the question of a separate Kabardian republic until the Russian Federation's moratorium on border changes expires in 1995. The Balkars, who share a republic with the Kabardians, also want their own republic. The decision of the Kabardian Congress has eased relations with the Kabardino-Balkar authorities who were intending to proscribe the Congress. (Ann Sheehy) ADMIRAL KASATONOV LEAVING BLACK SEA FLEET. Admiral Igor Kasatonov, the former commander of the ex-Soviet Black Sea Fleet, will be leaving on 8 December to take up his new post as first deputy commander in chief of the Russian Navy. Interfax on 3 December reported that some residents of Sevastopol-where the fleet's headquarters are located-plan to send a petition to the Congress of People's Deputies requesting that his transfer be canceled. Reportedly, the petition charges that the move is a concession to Ukraine which will have a negative effect on the fleet. According to Radio Rossii, the Russian Navy's press center denied the charge. Rear Admiral Vitalii Larionov will be the acting commander of the fleet. (Doug Clarke) NEW TAJIK GOVERNMENT MOSTLY PRO-COMMUNIST. Western agencies confirmed on 3-December that the government approved by the Communist-dominated Supreme Soviet of Tajikistan on 2 December consists mostly of members of pro-Communist groups from Kulyab Oblast. The same day ITAR-TASS reported that before adjourning the Supreme Soviet voted to merge Kulyab and Kurgan-Tyube Oblasts again into a Khatlon Oblast. The two oblasts were united under this name from 1988 to 1990, when they were separated again due to friction between inhabitants of Kurgan-Tyube and Kulyab. The two oblasts have been the scene of much of the fighting in this summer's civil war; Kulyab supported deposed President Rakhmon Nabiev while Kurgan-Tyube supported the democratic-Islamic coalition. Interfax reported that fighting is continuing at Orzhonikidzeabad near Dushanbe and elsewhere. (Bess Brown) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE PANIC CANDIDACY REJECTED. On 3 December the Serbian Electoral Commission rejected federal Prime Minister Milan Panic's candidacy for president in the 20 December elections. The commission ruled that Panic does not meet the requirement that candidates for president must have resided in Serbia for at least one year. Panic, who called the decision as "insane and, above all, unconstitutional" provided proof that he signed a rental contract on a Belgrade apartment over a year ago. The commission said the document was "inadmissible" as evidence of residency because Panic inhabited the apartment "as a foreign citizen." Chairman Caslav Ignatovic rejected accusations that his commission's decision was politically motivated. Panic has filed an appeal with Serbia's Supreme Court-which is also chaired by Ignatovic. A decision is expected by 7 December. The commission rejected seven other presidential candidates and confirmed seven. Among those confirmed are incumbent Slobodan Milosevic, main opposition leader Vuk Draskovic, and Dragan Vasiljkovic, popularly known as "Captain Dragan." Radio Serbia carried the report. (Milan Andrejevich) REACTIONS TO THE DECISION. According to the independent Belgrade radio B92, Panic and opposition leaders have bitterly criticized the commission's decision. At an emergency session the executive committee of the Democratic Opposition coalition DEPOS, announced that it might boycott the elections if the decision is not overruled by the Supreme Court. Panic's press office and most opposition leaders reportedly find it absurd that the Socialist-dominated parliament would nominate and elect Panic as federal Prime Minister in July and then in November-when it became clear that Panic could defeat Milosevic-would adopt a residency requirement to try to keep him from running. Vojislav Seselj, head of the second largest party in the federal parliament, the ultranationalist Radical Party, said the commission should accept Panic's candidacy in order to avert the threat of violence. He added that his party will bring up another confidence vote on Panic at the next parliamentary session. Two previous attempts have failed. (Milan Andrejevich) DEFENSE MINISTRY CRITICIZES PANIC. On 4-December the Federal Defense Ministry Collegium issued a statement distancing itself from Panic, who also holds the post of defense minister, accusing him of a heavy political bias that threatens the military's political neutrality . Radio Serbia reported on 3-December that the collegium demands that Panic yield his defense minister post; Panic responded by saying that he intends to appoint a defense minister as soon as possible. He added that his activities in connection with seeking office are not party-oriented since he represents no single party. (Milan Andrejevich) TENSIONS IN KOSOVO. Radio Serbia reported on 3-December that one ethnic Albanian was killed and another wounded in a clash with Serbian-controlled police in Pristina. Police officials said the two illegal cigarette dealers were injured when they tried to escape arrest. The Serbian province's main Albanian party, the Democratic League, said one of the men died after being beaten by police, who then proceeded to arrest bystanders and opened fire against the unarmed crowd, wounding many others. Neither version of the incident has been independently confirmed. Radio Croatia reports that a crowd gathered outside a Pristina hospital after the wounded were taken there, and combat aircraft flew low over the city and military convoy movements were also observed in several other parts of Kosovo. An RFE correspondent reports from Washington that a State Department envoy is on his way to Kosovo to assess the situation. (Milan Andrejevich) PROTECTION SOUGHT FOR ETHNIC HUNGARIANS IN SERBIA. Gyula Szelei, Hungary's representative, told the UN General Assembly's Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee that Hungary is seeking more effective international protection of the human rights of ethnic Hungarians in Serbia's province of Vojvodina, Western agencies report. He said that tens of thousands of ethnic Hungarians have fled their homes in Vojvodina because of a "well-founded fear of persecution and serious violations of their human rights." Szelei proposed that the rights of ethnic Hungarians be protected by instituting "autonomous territorial and cultural units under effective international guarantees and controls" and by deploying international monitors in Vojvodina. Szelei also expressed concern about the situation of ethnic Hungarians in Romania, citing reports of "deliberate discrimination against minorities." (Edith Oltay) ROMANIA REOPENS DANUBE SLUICE. On 3 December opened its sluice at the Iron Gates hydroelectric dam to allow shipping be resumed on the Danube. Water traffic had come to a halt on 2 December when Belgrade ordered a sluice on the Serbian side of the river closed in retaliation for Romania's enforcement of the UN embargo against rump Yugoslavia. The Romanian sluice was closed for maintenance and was not expected to be opened until later this month. Radio Bucharest said that repair work was completed ahead of schedule due to "tireless efforts" by Romanian workers. Belgrade also detained a Romanian tugboat and six barges. The Romanian Foreign Ministry has threatened to take the case to international bodies if the vessels are not released immediately. (Dan Ionescu) RUSSIA CRITICIZES STATEMENT BY ROMANIAN OFFICIAL. On 3 December the Russian Foreign Ministry criticized a statement by Adrian Nastase, chairman of Romania's Chamber of Deputies and former foreign minister. Upon returning from a three-day visit to Chisinau on 30 November, Nastase said that Russia was trying to bind Moldova to its side through membership in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The Russian statement, quoted by Interfax, denounced Nastase's appeal to Moldovan legislators to "think twice" before voting for Moldova to join the CIS as an attempt to scare them. Moldova has been taking part in the work of CIS but its parliament has not voted on membership. (Dan Ionescu) ESTONIAN PRESIDENT NOMINATES CANDIDATES FOR TOP POSTS. On 3 December, after consulting various parliament groups, President Lennart Meri nominated candidates to several top posts for parliamentary approval, BALTFAX reports. Prof. Uno Mereste, former head of the statistics department at Tallinn Technical University and adviser to the Economics Ministry was nominated as chairman of the board of the Bank of Estonia. Eerik-Juhan Truuvali, who taught at the Estonian Institute of History and Tartu University and headed the Electoral Commission, was proposed for the post of Chancellor of Justice. Alexander Einseln, a colonel in the US army, was nominated as commander of the Estonian Defense Forces. In an address to the Estonian parliament Einseln said that if there were a war between Estonia and the US, he would fight for the US side for he had sworn an oath of allegiance to that country. (Saulius Girnius) DATE FOR LITHUANIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS SET. On 3 December the Seimas voted 119 to 0 with 3 abstentions to hold presidential elections on 14 February 1993, Radio Lithuania reports. The Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party (LDLP) had suggested that they be held on 31 January, but the opposition Homeland Concord felt that this was too soon. (Saulius Girnius) CONFLICT SHARPENS OVER POLAND'S CONTROL OFFICE. The Supreme Chamber of Control (NIK), the central accounting office headed by Lech Kaczynski, is the new focus for political combat. Kaczynski has been charged with using NIK to conduct partisan investigations; his inquisitorial style in audits of the privatization and finance ministries and the prime minister's office has irked the government. Kaczynski's twin brother, Jaroslaw, heads the Center Alliance and spearheads the opposition to the president and the government. President Lech Walesa called for "changes in NIK" on TV's Panorama on 3-December; his spokesman called NIK "a tool in a political game" on Radio Z the following day. Public administration minister Jan Maria Rokita likewise charged Kaczynski with "militant opposition to the government" and accused the Center Alliance of wanting to turn NIK into a "Cheka." The Sejm chooses the NIK chairman, and the political rumor mill has already selected a candidate to replace Kaczynski: the Peasant Party's Aleksander Luczak. No formal action has yet been taken, however. (Louisa Vinton) POLAND'S MARTIAL LAW PLANS STILL "TOP SECRET." Responding to an inquiry from an opposition parliamentary deputy, Defense Minister Janusz Onyszkiewicz said on 3-December that the "guidelines for martial law" should still remain secret. The guidelines, prepared by the Polish General Staff in 1981, contain classified information about Poland's military command systems still relevant to national security, Onyszkiewicz said. The minister added that the parliamentary commission considering the constitutionality of martial law had had access to the documents. He denied that the government was attempting to interfere with "a just assessment of the deeds and motives of that period." Onyszkiewicz's statement followed the publication of extracts from the documents by Zycie Warszawy, which asked why the plans for martial law were still kept under wraps. (Louisa Vinton) HUNGARY, BRITAIN SIGN DEFENSE AGREEMENT. Col. Gen. Kalman Lorincz, commander of the Hungarian Army, and Field Marshal Sir Richard Vincent, chief of Britain's defense staff, signed an agreement on 3 December in Budapest that provides for closer cooperation between the two countries' armed forces. Training colleges, academies, units, and military experts will exchange visits between 1993 and 1995. (Edith Oltay) FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN SLOVAKIA DROPS. Figures released by the Slovak National Agency for Foreign Investment on 3 December show that in the first nine months of 1992 Slovakia's share of foreign investment in Czechoslovakia was only 7.7%. Slovakia's population is one third of that of Czechoslovakia. In 1991 Slovakia attracted 27% of the foreign capital. Reuters quotes an official from the Slovak National Agency for Foreign Investment as saying that the main obstacle to foreign investment is Slovakia's poor image abroad. He argued that when potential investors actually visit Slovakia they are surprised that things are normal and "that there are no riots or nationalist propaganda." The CTK news agency also reports that Slovakia plans to impose a tax of one koruna per pack on cigarettes as soon as that nation becomes independent on 1-January. The revenues, which could amount to 400 million koruny ($10.4 million), will be used to help fund research on cancer and heart disease. (Jiri Pehe & Charles Trumbull) SIEMENS DROPS JOINT-VENTURES WITH SKODA. Siemens, one of Germany's largest companies, has decided not to set up two joint ventures with Skoda, the largest engineering firm in the Czech Republic. International media report that Siemens has pulled out of plans to establish two joint companies-Skoda Transport and Skoda Energo- because of "new and unacceptable demands on the part of Skoda's new management." (Jiri Pehe) LUBYS TALKS WITH BALTIC FLEET COMMANDER. On 3 December in Vilnius Lithuanian Prime Minister Bronislavas Lubys told Russian Baltic Fleet commander Adm. Vladimir Egorov that Lithuania will not change its policy on the withdrawal of Russian troops, Radio Lithuania reports. Lubys noted that they discussed the transit of Russian troops through Lithuania to Kaliningrad, the building of housing for withdrawing officers, and other commercial transactions that Lithuania wants to be decided on a parity basis. (Saulius Girnius) ANDREJEVS URGES RESUMPTION OF TALKS. Latvian Minister of Foreign Affairs Georgs Andrejevs told the press on 3 December that Russian President Yeltsin's directive of 29-October suspending the withdrawal of Russian military forces from the Baltic States is the main obstacle to resuming Latvian-Russian negotiations on the issue and urged that the necessary steps be taken to resume the talks. Andrejevs said that the negotiations should take place both at the delegation and the presidential levels and suggested that a meeting of the two heads of state take place in January 1993. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIA TEMPORARILY BARS PASSAGE OF RUSSIAN TANKS. Ilgonis Upmalis, head of the Latvian office coordinating the withdrawal of Russian troops, told the press that his office has prohibited transit of 105 Russian tanks, BALTFAX reported on 3 December. The Russian military authorities want to move the tanks from Estonia to the Kaliningrad region. Upmalis said that the transit of foreign military hardware is not permitted under Latvia's customs regulations and that the prime minister must decide the case. (Dzintra Bungs) RUSSIAN BORDER GUARDS LEAVE VENTSPILS AREA. Col. Leonid Korotovskikh, commander of the Russian border guard detachment in Latvia's Ventspils district, told BALTFAX on 2 December that earlier that day he had handed over the last border guard station under his command to the local home guards. He pointed out that compensation for most of the property left behind, valued at over 40 million rubles, still had to be paid by the Latvian authorities. (Dzintra Bungs) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba & Charles Trumbull
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