|When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years. - Mark Twain|
No. 234, 07 December 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR RUSSIAN TROOPS IN DUSHANBE STOP PRO-COMMUNIST ATTACK. The Russian 201st Motorized Division stationed in Tajikistan has driven off an attack on Dushanbe by an armed group from Gissar, Interfax reported on 6 December. Gissar is a main staging area for pro-Communist forces in the Dushanbe area. Dushanbe mayor Makhmud Ikramov thanked the Russian forces for the.ir help in protecting the city. Earlier in the year, leaders of some of the anti-Communist political groups in Tajikistan accused the Russian troops of giving covert support to fighters loyal to deposed President Rakhmon Nabiev; Democratic Party chairman Shodmon Yusupov still sees the Russian troops as a disruptive element, but democratic sympathizer Ikramov disagrees. (Bess Brown) YELTSIN'S POWER SURVIVES CONGRESS VOTE. On 5 December, the Congress of People's Deputies voted by secret ballot on nine constitutional amendments, some of which would have curtailed the president's power to appoint Russia's ministers without parliamentary approval, Russian TV reported. These presidential powers unexpectedly survived the vote. Altogether, 694 votes are necessary at the Congress to amend the Constitution. Those seeking to require the president to submit his nominee for the position of prime minister to the Congress for its approval lost by a slender four vote margin. 693-delegates voted for a proposed amendment that would have required President Yeltsin to obtain parliament's approval of key government ministers.(Julia Wishnevsly) REACTIONS TO VOTE. Vasilii Lipitsky, leader of one of the Civic Union's factions, told The Boston Globe on 6 December that nearly all the Civic Union's supporters voted in favor of the constitutional amendments that would have severely limited the president's power. Another Civic Union representative stated that at the next Congress in April, deputies will demand the resignation not of Egor Gaidar but of President Yeltsin. Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai told ITAR-TASS on 6 December that Yeltsin had done "a bad job of preparing his tactics . . . at the Congress." He added that the chance for a change in the reform policy is "great." Liberal deputy Gleb Yakunin told Western news agencies on 5 December that he was absolutely convinced that if the amendments had passed, direct presidential rule would have been introduced the next day. (Alexander Rahr) LEADERS IN COUNTRYSIDE WILL REMAIN UNELECTED. According to Russian TV, during the same vote, the Congress agreed to postpone the elections of the heads of local governments until the end of their term in Spring 1995. Only Moscow, St.-Petersburg, and Severo-Dvinsk are governed by elected mayors; all other local executives in Russia were appointed by and are responsible to President Yeltsin. Moreover, until the 5 December vote at the Congress, these executives were subordinated to Yeltsin's local representatives who were appointed by the same section of Yeltsin's government that appointed the local government leaders. The Congress abolished the institute of presidential representatives but approved the practice of unelected executives directing local government. In fact, the largely conservative Congress sided with the president against the radical Democratic Russia movement, which usually strongly supported Yeltsin in the past. DR-press reported on 1 December that the most recent Democratic Russia plenary session demanded that direct elections for executive positions in the administrations be held in 1993. (Julia Wishnevsky) YELTSIN WILL NOMINATE GAIDAR AS PRIME MINISTER. Russian President Boris Yeltsin stated that he will nominate Egor Gaidar to the post of prime minister, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 December. Approximately half of the factions in the Civic Union are said to have agreed to support Gaidar's candidacy. But Yeltsin's spokesman Vyacheslav Kostikov questioned the need for constant behind-the-scenes negotiations with the Civic Union when he told journalists that the Civic Union has turned out to be less influential than he originally believed, Interfax reported on 4 December. He said that the influence of the Civic Union in the Congress was "mythical." He added that the Civic Union has no ability to influence deputies, and that conservative deputies were even more hostile to reform than the Civic Union had anticipated. (Alexander Rahr) "NO" TO THE EAGLE, "YES" TO PRIVATE LAND OWNERSHIP. Only 479 out of the 694-necessary votes were cast by the Congress for an amendment that would reinstate the Tsarist double-headed eagle as Russia's national emblem. Therefore, the communist hammer and sickle remains the national symbol. More importantly, the overwhelming majority of the deputies voted to amend the Constitution to permit private land ownership, "Novosti" reported on 5 December. The Yeltsin administration has been trying to introduce such an amendment since the second session of the Congress in Fall 1990, but so far the only result has been a compromise that allows only severely limited private land ownership. On the eve of the current session, Democratic Russia had obtained the one million signatures necessary to hold a national referendum calling for an "unconditional" right of private land ownership. (Julia Wishnevsky) THIRD RUSSIAN DEFAULT ON AGRICULTURAL LOANS. On 4 December, Russia defaulted on an additional $12.9 million in loans guaranteed by the US government for buying American farm products, an RFE/RL Washington correspondent reported. This brought the total Russian arrears to $20.6-million. Russia has been suspended from the credit program twice in recent weeks for missing payments. (Keith Bush) HUNDREDS OF STATE ENTERPRISES FACE BANKRUPTCIES? Up to 30,000 (70%) of Russia's state enterprises, employing 30 million people are on the verge of bankruptcy, according to a western press agency report on 4 December, which quotes a Trud article of the same day. Leonid Paidiev, an official from the Economics Ministry, is quoted as saying that several hundred enterprises may fold up next year. The actual number will depend on the extent to which the government continues to bail out loss-making enterprises. Paidiev recommended that the government make selective subsidies to the more efficient enterprises producing key goods, for which there is clearly a social need or consumer demand; he stated that if the government tries to support all failing enterprises, the economy will simply collapse. (Sheila Marnie) WESTERN CREDITOR BANKS RESCHEDULE. For the fourth time in 1992, Western creditor banks have granted the former Soviet republics a three-month delay in repaying outstanding debts, Western agencies reported on 4 December. The Frankfurt committee, chaired by the Deutsche Bank and representing some 600 banks, agreed that payments on principal falling due during the first quarter of 1993 and all payments delayed so far would be postponed. Meanwhile, Western creditor nations are believed to be moving towards a rescheduling of the debt of the former Soviet Union over ten years, with a five-year grace period. (Keith Bush) RUSSIAN DEFICIT DECLINES. The Russian federal budget deficit fell from 820 billion rubles to 534-billion rubles over September and October, according to Ministry of Finance figures cited by Kommersant (#44) on 6 December. The drop was the first of its kind since the short-lived austerity measures introduced in the first quarter of this year. The primary source of the improvement was a significant increase in tax payments from enterprises due to increased energy prices and the alleviation of inter-enterprise debt situation. The Kommersant article went on to cite additional positive signs in the monetary situation of the economy, including a reduced credit issue by the central bank since a peak at the end of the summer and the withdrawal of Ukraine from the ruble zone. (Erik Whitlock). LATEST UNEMPLOYMENT FIGURES. According to the Russian State Statistical Office (Goskomstat), there were 442,400 registered unemployed at the beginning of November, 267,000 of whom were receiving unemployment benefits, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 December. Unemployment has thus increased more than seven-fold since the beginning of the year, when there were 61,900 registered unemployed and 11,800 receiving benefits. The figures have risen steadily throughout the year, but fall far below the April 1992 government forecast of 6-million. (Sheila Marnie) RUSSIAN PLEA FOR MARKET-SHARING IN ARMS TRADE. In a speech to the International Press Club in Moscow on 4 December, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev called on the West to "make room for Russia" in the international arms market, AFP reported. He said that Russia should have the opportunity to sell arms to "those countries which pursue stable policies," and referred to possible customers in the Persian Gulf and Asia, as well as NATO member-countries. Weapons and defense equipment represent the only major category of fabricates where Russia can compete on the world market, and arms sales are thought to be the only viable source of hard-currency earnings to finance the conversion effort. (Keith Bush) NEW MARKETS FOR RUSSIAN ARMS. Russian Minister of Foreign Economic Relations Peter Aven said that Russia had "effectively reached" an agreement with Malaysia for the sale of up to 30 MiG-29 fighters according to an interview published by Interfax on 4 December. The agency also said that it had learned from reliable sources that South Korea was considering the purchase of Russian "Grad" multiple rocket launcher systems, S-300 antiaircraft missile systems, Su-25 ground attack planes, and Su-27 fighters. Aven disclosed that the three KILO-class diesel submarines recently sold to Iran fetched more than $400-million each, adding that Russian intended to strengthen this market "regardless of the opposition of American competitors." Aven also said that Russia was negotiating the sale of S-300 systems and other weapons to the United Arab Emirates. The S-300, known to NATO as the SA-10 "Grumble," is the Russian counterpart of the American Patriot missile system used against Iranian Scud missiles in the Gulf War. (Doug Clarke) UKRAINIAN RUKH MOVEMENT TO BECOME POLITICAL PARTY. Ukraine's former popular movement for restructuring, Rukh, which spearheaded the country's drive for independence and democracy, will register itself as a political party, Ukrainian and Western media have reported. The decision was made at the movement's fourth congress, which was held in Kiev on 4-6 December. Rukh effectively split earlier this year over the question of what type of role it should play in an independent Ukrainian state led largely by former Communists, such as President Leonid Kravchuk. The congress elected the leader of the more radical tendency, Vyacheslav Chornovil, as Rukh's chairman; the original leader of Rukh, Ivan Drach, did not attend. With a membership of about 50,000, Rukh remains the largest democratic force in Ukraine and intends to nominate candidates in the next national and local elections. (Bohdan Nahaylo) ARMENIA DENIES BUILDING NUCLEAR WEAPON. Armenia has denied accusations by the official Azerbaijani news agency AzerINFORM that it is developing bombs and artillery shells stuffed with radioactive waste from a nuclear power plant for use if Azerbaijan attempts to deport the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh, ITAR-TASS reported on 3 December. On 5 December ITAR-TASS carried an official denial by the Israeli Embassy in Moscow of reports that Israel is supplying military assistance to Azerbaijan or any other warring party in the Caucasus. (Liz Fuller) ARMENIA TO REACTIVATE NUCLEAR POWER STATION? Following the decision by the Turkish government on 4 December to reconsider under pressure from the opposition Motherland Party its offer of last month to supply surplus electricity to Armenia, the Armenian government ruled on 6 December to ask parliament to consider reactivating the Medzamor nuclear power station that was closed in 1989, ITAR-TASS reported. Medzamor supplied up to 36% of Armenia's energy needs; the energy shortfall has been exacerbated by Azerbaijan's ongoing blockade of Armenia. (Liz Fuller) NO NEW ELECTIONS IN AZERBAIJAN. Addressing a congress of the ruling Azerbaijan Popular Front in Baku on 5 December, Azerbaijani Interior Minister Iskander Gamidov stated that he and his supporters will not give in to demands by demonstrators in Baku for new parliamentary elections, which were promised for this autumn when the Azerbaijan Popular Front seized power in May 1992. Gamidov predicted that Azerbaijan President El'chibey would remain in power for at least ten years. In his speech to the congress on 4 December, El'chibey stated that an improvement in Azerbaijani-Iranian relations would be conditional on Iran granting cultural autonomy to its 16 million Azerbaijanis. (Liz Fuller) MOLDOVA AT UN. DECRIES 'SCREEN OF SILENCE' OVER DNIESTER. Addressing the UN General Assembly's Third Committee on 3 December, Moldovan delegate Vitalie Snegur charged that Russia's 14th Army was underwriting large-scale violations of the human rights of the indigenous population by the unlawful "Dniester" authorities in eastern Moldova. Describing the situation as "devastating," Snegur listed the banning of the Latin script for the native language, the reintroduction of Russian communist textbooks in place of Moldovan ones, the closure of some Moldovan schools and of all colleges, the elimination of all native-language newspapers, the jamming of Chisinau radio and TV broadcasts, the introduction of conscription into the Russian army, and the purges and arrests of Moldovans who oppose the "Dniester republic." "A screen of silence has been drawn over this tragedy," Snegur said, reiterating Moldova's oft-made call for UN observers to be sent to the area. (Vladimir Socor) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE SLOVENIAN ELECTIONS. On 6 December voters in Slovenia voted in their first parliamentary and presidential elections since gaining independence in June 1991. The latest projections with 75% of the vote counted show incumbent president Milan Kucan winning nearly 64% of the vote. In elections for 130-seats in the two-chamber parliament, the moderate Liberal Democratic Party of Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek lead with 27%, followed by Christian Democrats and the Unity List (former communists and several other center-left parties) with 14% each, and the right-wing National Party with 12%. With no party in the majority, Drnovsek will surely seek a coalition with the Christian Democrats, Unity List and the National Party. Radio Slovenia carried the report on 7 December. (Milan Andrejevich) PANIC'S POLITICAL MERRY-GO-ROUND. On 6-December, Serbia's Election Commission again refused to place Milan Panic on the presidential ballot for the 20 December election. The action came one day after Serbia's Supreme Court overruled the Commission's decision of 3 December that Panic fails to meet residency requirements. Panic's lawyers have filed another appeal. A final Supreme Court decision may come as early as 7 December. If the high court again overturns the commission's ruling, Panic will be eligible to run. Panic told reporters that he is pleased with Supreme Court decision because it "shows that Slobodan Milosevic is in a panic." Meanwhile, main opposition leader Vuk Draskovic said he would withdraw from the presidential race should Panic be allowed to run, but the commission has indicated that it will not permit him to strike his name from the ballot. Numerous opposition parties have said they will boycott the elections and organize mass demonstrations if the court upholds the Commission's latest decision. Radio Serbia and international media carried the reports. (Milan Andrejevich) SERBS PRESS OFFENSIVE IN BOSNIA. International media reported over the weekend of 4-6 December that Serb forces are stepping up an offensive against Bosnian-controlled towns in northern and western Bosnia, as well as against some western and southern suburbs of Sarajevo. German radio said on 6 December that some Muslim and Croat civilians were killed by Serbian gunmen when they lined up to be evacuated from one suburb taken by the Serbs. International media on 5 December quoted the UN deputy commander in Sarajevo as saying that international peace efforts "have failed completely," while the 7 December Washington Post reports that Serbs are pressing an ethnic cleansing campaign in the Banja Luka area. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung quotes Croatian Cardinal Franjo Kuharic as calling the Serbian policy of systematic gang rape "the worst crime of this war." (Patrick Moore) ALBANIAN PARLIAMENT WARNS THAT "WAR IN KOSOVO IS IMMINENT." On 4-December ATA ran a report on the legislature's session on Balkan problems held the previous day. The deputies agreed on the likelihood of war because of "Serb-Slav chauvinism," and said that Albania is opposed to changing borders. They called for demilitarizing Kosovo, and for sending international observers there. Kosovar leaders themselves have publicly taken similar positions. ATA also reported that the deputies discussed the delicate Slav-Albanian relations in Macedonia, but did not elaborate. Albanian and Macedonian spokesmen have suggested that Serbia is trying to provoke a confrontation between Macedonians and Albanians in that southernmost ex-Yugoslav republic, where the Albanians make up between 20 and 40% of the population, depending on whose figures are used. (Patrick Moore) EC SUMMIT TO CONFRONT DEADLOCK ON MACEDONIA. British and Greek media over the weekend of 4-6 December reported that no compromise has been reached between Greece and some of its partners on the question of recognizing Macedonia, which is expected to be a major issue at the EC Edinburgh summit on 10-11 December. Athens reportedly rejected the formula of calling the former Yugoslav republic "Republic of Macedonia, Skopje," arguing that the name Macedonia is Greek patrimony and that for the neighboring state to use it is for it to imply territorial claims on northern Greece. The issue has become a heady one in Greek politics. Macedonian Slavs argue that the Macedonian heritage belongs to all peoples living in that area, and Skopje's officials have repeatedly denied any claims on Greek territory. Certain of Greece's EC partners are reportedly impatient with Athens and many of them want to recognize Skopje to help prevent the spread of conflict to that republic. A Macedonian consulate has already opened in Bonn. (Patrick Moore) BULGARIA OPENS DIPLOMATIC MISSION IN SKOPJE. Bulgaria has opened a consulate in Skopje, capital of the ex-Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Western agencies report on 6-December. General Consul Angel Genchev appeared on Bulgarian TV and said Sofia will upgrade its diplomatic presence to embassy level as soon as Macedonia is recognized by the EC. Bulgaria was the first country to recognize Macedonia. Meanwhile, because Bulgaria has suffered a severe setback in trade as a result of UN sanctions against ex-Yugoslavia, Foreign Minister Stoyan Ganev has requested UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali to consider compensation. (Kjell Engelbrekt) EC RULES OUT TIMETABLE FOR ADMISSION. On 4 December the Executive Commission of the European Community ruled against setting a timetable for East European countries to join the organization, saying it would premature. At the same time, however, the commission urged EC leaders to confirm that they accept the goal of membership for these countries once they meet the necessary conditions. Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary recently submitted a joint memorandum to the EC asking for membership negotiations to begin in 1996 with a view to joining the organization by the end of the century. The report points out that the prospect of eventual EC membership is important as a stimulus to investment and a discouragement to excessive nationalism in the former communist countries. (Jan Obrman) DEEP DIVISIONS IN CZECH PARLIAMENT OVER CONSTITUTION. The Presidium of the Czech National Council released a statement on 4 December saying that there are major divisions between the governing coalition and the opposition on the Czech constitution currently being drafted. Opposition representatives have repeatedly complained about provisions that passage of a law would require only a simple majority, rather than a three-fifths majority that is required by the federal constitution. Another main point of contention is the administrative setup of the Czech Republic. (Jan Obrman) US CONSULATE IN BRATISLAVA BUGGED. Czechoslovak TV reported on 5 December that every room in the US consulate in the Slovak capital was bugged and that the US State Department has protested to the Czechoslovak federal government. The bugging devices were reportedly of recent manufacture. US Consul-General Paul Hacker confirmed to Reuters that "something was found in the building" without further elaboration. Czechoslovak media later reported, however, that Hacker also complained to Slovak authorities about alleged inadequate protection of the US compound and that consulate staff have suspected they were being followed. In his regular televised address on 6 December Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar implied that the communists were responsible for the bugging and that the current Slovak government had nothing to do with it. Meciar also suggested that the affair might be a sophisticated plot by Czech and federal authorities designed to discredit Slovakia. (Jan Obrman) CZECH CP LEADER STABBED. A masked assailant stabbed Czech Communist Party leader Jiri Svoboda at his home on 5 December, CTK reports. Svoboda underwent surgery but his condition is described as stable. Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus condemned the attack as a "great misfortune" for the country's reputation abroad and its long tradition of democracy. (Jan Obrman) MOLDOVA'S TIU IN BUDAPEST, BUCHAREST. Moldovan Foreign Minister Nicolae Tiu paid an official visit to Budapest on 4 December and met with his Hungarian counterpart, Geza Jeszenszky, as well as with President Arpad Goncz and other officials, MTI reports. Tiu and Jeszenszky signed a protocol instituting regular bilateral diplomatic consultations, TASS reports, and a Hungarian Foreign Ministry spokesman said Hungary will send an ambassador to Chisinau, raising the level of diplomatic representation there. He also said that Moldova favors the Hungarian proposal to include Moldova in the initiative launched by Hungary, Ukraine, Slovenia, and Croatia to protect the rights of minorities. Jeszenszky voiced support for Moldova's request for assistance from international organizations in settling the Dniester conflict, TASS reports. Later stopping off in Bucharest, Tiu conferred with Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu, who told Radio Bucharest on 6 December that "an attempt was made to establish a mechanism for diplomatic consultations between Bucharest and Chisinau". (Karoly Okolicsanyi & Vladimir Socor) ETHNIC TENSION RISES IN TRANSYLVANIA. Friction between the Hungarian minority and the Romanian majority in Transylvania increased over the weekend after the nationalist mayor of Cluj banned a Hungarian rally scheduled for 6 December to protest recent restrictions on minority cultural rights. On 30 November Mayor Gheorghe Funar ordered Hungarian street names in Cluj changed and a Romanian-language plaque installed on the statue of mediaeval Hungarian King Mathias. Radio Bucharest quoted Funar on 5 December as saying that the planned Hungarian rally was "illegal" and "neo-Horthyist." Emil Constantinescu, leader of the centrist Democratic Convention of Romania, described Funar's moves as "a provocation" against Romania's Hungarians, who number 1.6-2.0 million. The Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania cancelled the rally to prevent trouble, organizing instead a march of some 5,000 through the center of Cluj. Hundreds of police cordoned off the area. No violence was reported despite counterdemonstrations by groups of Romanian nationalists. (Dan Ionescu) "CONSERVATIVE PARTY" FORMED IN POLAND. The jostling for position among Poland's multitude of right-of-center parties continued with the creation on 6 December of a Conservative Party, formed from the merger of the Democratic Right Forum (formerly the right wing of the Democratic Union), the Republican Coalition, and a regional splinter group from the Liberal Democratic Congress. The party mixes support for capitalism with respect for Christian and national traditions, and is led by Aleksander Hall, a one-time ally of former Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki. In coalition with two other small parties, the Conservative Party is represented in the Sejm by the Polish Convention caucus. It belongs to the government coalition. (Louisa Vinton) WALESA HAILS MILITARY SERVICE. Polish President Lech Walesa looked on as his son swore the oath of military service at a naval training base at Ustka on 5 December. In remarks during the ceremony that were carried by PAP, Walesa said that military service "is a necessity, but also an honor." He urged the young soldiers to remember that "he who does not respect his own army will be forced to respect a foreign one." These convictions have led Walesa to resist pressure to pardon Roman Galuszko, a would-be conscientious objector now serving a one-and-a-half year prison term for draft evasion. (Louisa Vinton) MOLDOVAN PREMIER IN ESTONIA, LATVIA, BELARUS. On 4 December Andrei Sangheli completed a tour of Estonia, Latvia, and Belarus. Bilateral agreements on trade and economic cooperation for 1993 were signed, and Sangheli and his three host prime ministers agreed that political treaties between Moldova and each of the three will be drafted for early signature. Prime Ministers Mart Laar of Estonia and Ivars Godmanis of Latvia agreed with Sangheli on the need for mutual support in international forums to obtain the withdrawal of Russian troops from their countries, Moldovapres reports. Belarus Supreme Council Chairman Stanislav Shushkevich accepted an invitation to visit Chisinau later this month to sign the political treaty. (Vladimir Socor) RUSSIAN BORDER GUARDS CONTINUE WITHDRAWING FROM ESTONIA. Baltfax reported on 4-December that 38 of the 42 border posts manned by Russian forces have been turned over to Estonia and that three more will be turned over in the very near future. (Dzintra Bungs) SWEDISH AID FOR ESTONIA. Sweden has approved a decision to extend 10 million kronor, which will probably be used to help Estonia buy fuel, Baltfax reported on 4 December. (Dzintra Bungs) ZHIRINOVSKY'S VIEWS OF THE BALTIC STATES. Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of Russia's Democratic-Liberal Party, told the Latvian press that if the Baltic States refuse to cooperate with Russia, they should be dismembered, Baltfax reported on 5 December. The heavily Russian-populated areas of Estonia and Latvia should become parts of the Pskov and Smolensk regions of Russia, Zhirinovsky said, adding that only Kaunas, Siauliai, and Panevezys are Lithuanian cities and the rest belong to Russia. Zhirinovsky suggested that returning the three Baltic States to Moscow's jurisdiction would be an even better solution. (Dzintra Bungs) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba & Charles Trumbull
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