|If you are not allowed to laugh in heaven, I don't want to go there. - Martin Luther|
No. 237, 10 December 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR CONGRESS REJECTS GAIDAR, LIMITS YELTSIN'S POWERS. Acting Prime Minister Egor Gaidar failed by a very narrow margin to obtain confirmation from the Congress of People's Deputies for his nomination by President Yeltsin to become prime minister. In a secret ballot, 467 deputies voted for him, 486 against. Hardliners scored another victory over President Yeltsin by approving overwhelmingly a constitutional amendment which would automatically strip the President of his powers if he orders a dissolution of the Congress or the Supreme Soviet, Radio Rossii reported on 9 December. Congress also approved an amendment submitted by Yeltsin as a conciliatory gesture to Congress, making four major ministerial posts subject to approval by the parliament. (Alexander Rahr) YELTSIN CALLS FOR REFERENDUM, REGRETS PREVIOUS CONCESSIONS. In a speech which was broadcast live on Russian TV on 10 December, President Boris Yeltsin called for a state-wide referendum next month to let the people decide whether they want the parliament or the president to lead the country. Yeltsin blamed himself for having made unjustified concessions to seek a consensus. He accused parliamentary speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov of "re-establishing the old communist system rejected by the people." He said a dictatorship of the legislature is emerging and added that the coup d'etat which had not succeeded in August of last year is succeeding now. Yeltsin further stated that he will ignore Congress' rejection of Egor Gaidar as prime minister and will continue with reform. (Alexander Rahr) CONGRESS FEARS BEING DISBANDED BY YELTSIN. Parliamentary speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov told Congress that he thought he had been personally insulted by President Yeltsin, and in response he was offering his resignation, Russian TV reported on 10-December. After Yeltsin's call for a referendum, there were dramatic scenes in the hall. Some deputies demanded that the parliamentary guards should be reinforced to protect the Russian parliament building from a possible hostile seizure by forces loyal to the president. Yeltsin had told Congress previously that he had no intention of dissolving it. Security Minister Viktor Barannikov told the Congress that the security forces are not planning a coup. He said that they will protect the Constitution against any violation. Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi stated that people are tired of confrontation and called for a centrist compromise. (Alexander Rahr) GAIDAR'S LOSS: REVENGE OF CIVIC UNION? An RFE/RL correspondent quoted a leader of the Civic Union, Nikolai Travkin, as saying on 9 December that Yeltsin had broken his promise to the Union in his address to the Congress of the Intelligentsia on 29-November. Travkin referred to Yeltsin's statement that he did not actually sack "his own people"-namely, former Information Minister Mikhail Poltoranin and State Secretary Gennadii Burbulis-and that their removal was merely a temporary tactical move on the eve of the Congress. The removal of Burbulis and Poltoranin were on the list of demands presented by the Civic Union as a basis for compromise with Yeltsin. (Julia Wishnevsky) HARD-LINERS WANT ENTERPRISE DIRECTOR AS PRIME MINISTER. A spokesman for the opposition faction "Russian Unity," Vladimir Isakov, told ITAR-TASS on 9 December that he and his supporters wanted to propose enterprise director Georgii Kostin as prime minister instead of Egor Gaidar. ITAR-TASS described Kostin, who is the director of a machine-building enterprise in Voronezh, as a "completely unknown man in Russia." The agency said he participated in drawing up an economic program called "The Manageable Russian Economy," which reportedly closely resembles the program of the Civic Union. (Vera Tolz) CONGRESS ENACTS LEGAL REFORMS. On 8 December, the Congress took a major step towards enacting important legal reforms by introducing into the Constitution amendments seeking to guarantee universally recognized judicial principles, such as trial by jury and life-time appointments for judges. The latter provision gained the support of the chairman of the Russian Supreme Court, Vladimir Lebedev, but was opposed by Justice Minister Nikolai Fedorov, whose ministry currently controls Russia's judiciary. (Julia Wishnevsky) RUSSIAN CONGRESS CONCERNED OVER ARMS AGREEMENT WITH US. After an often heated debate that lasted nearly one hour, the Congress of Peoples' Deputies on 9 December tasked the Russian parliament with examining the 17 June 1992 agreement between Presidents Yeltsin and Bush on the provision of US aid in the dismantling of Russian nuclear warheads. The agreement was defended by Viktor Mikhailov, the Russian Nuclear Energy Minister. He welcomed the $400 million worth of equipment and assistance the United States had pledged, and said that it had removed a burden of 40 billion rubles from the country's "already overloaded budget." Evgenii Ambratsumov, the chairman of the parliamentary committee for international affairs and foreign trade, suggested that Russian concerns over the text of the agreement might be alleviated by an exchange of notes between the two governments so that the accord could be corrected "without blowing it up." (Doug Clarke) FIRST VOUCHER AUCTION IN MOSCOW LAUNCHED. The voucher privatization of the confectionery factory "Bolshevik" began on 9 December, according to Russian and Western news agencies. Some 44% of the factory will be sold for vouchers through a two week long auction that is the first of its type in Moscow. Issued at a nominal price of 1000 rubles per share, the number of shares ultimately acquired per voucher depends on the quantity of shares demanded by voucher holders in the bidding process. The first day of the auction, prepared with significant Western assistance, reportedly proceeded smoothly. Some three hundred bids were accepted by mid-afternoon. The factory's workers obtained 51% of the shares, a controlling interest, before the auction was organized. (Erik Whitlock) US FINANCIER TO SUPPORT FORMER SOVIET SCIENTISTS. George Soros, a Hungarian-born US financier, has pledged to provide $100 million to support research projects by scientists in the former Soviet Union over the next two years. As reported by the New York Times on 10 December, Soros will establish an International Science Foundation, which will provide $6 million for research projects in early 1993, and will have $85 million available by mid-1993. The remaining funds will be spent on administration. Soros' plan complements the recently established International Center for Science and Technology (ICST), funded by Western governments. The Soros project will cover all areas of the former Soviet Union and a wide range of scientific projects, while the ICST will concentrate on developing collaborative projects with former weapons and defense industry scientists in Russia and Ukraine. (John Lepingwell) SIXTEEN NUCLEAR SMUGGLERS ARRESTED. German and Austrian police have arrested 16 smugglers of nuclear material in a large undercover operation. Ten members of one gang were arrested in Germany in possession of 383 metal disks containing a total of one gram of plutonium. The gang of six arrested in Austria had a small quantity of radioactive cesium-137. According to reports from Reuters and other Western press agencies of 10 December, the radioactive material had been smuggled out of the former Soviet Union. (John Lepingwell) COSSACKS WOULD DEFEND RUSSIA'S BORDERS. Representatives of twelve Cossack armies announced at a Moscow press conference on 9-December that the Cossacks formed a force that is able to "to cover Russia's borders and to defend the single and indivisible Russia . . . . " According to Interfax, the Cossacks said that they had presented a number of proposals to Russian authorities on such subjects as state service of the Cossacks and the state program of Cossack revival. Ivan Rybokon, head of the Kuban Cossack army, said that the representatives stood for the creation of a Cossack force directly subordinate to the President as they had been under the command of the Tsar in pre-Revolutionary times. (Doug Clarke) KRAVCHUK CRITICIZES RUSSIAN LAWMAKERS. Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk told a press conference in Kiev that the main difficulties in Ukrainian-Russian relations stem from the legislative branch of the Russian government, Ukrinform-TASS reported on 9-December. The Ukrainian leader cited the resolution earlier this year by the Russian Supreme Soviet to review the 1954 transfer of the Crimea to Ukraine and the decision by the current Russian Congress of People's Deputies to have the parliament review the status of Sevastopol. It turns out, said Kravchuk, that the lawmakers are interfering in Ukrainian internal affairs, specifically in such an important sphere as the territorial integrity of Ukraine. (Roman Solchanyk) UKRAINE'S PARLIAMENTARY PRESIDIUM ON RUSSIAN TERRITORIAL CLAIMS. The Presidium of the Ukrainian parliament sharply criticized a recent decision by the Russian Congress of People's Deputies to examine the status of the Crimean city of Sevastopol, Interfax reported on 9 December. The statement said that the decision could only be seen as an attempt to make territorial claims on Ukraine, characterizing it as a gross violation of Ukrainian-Russian agreements. Sevastopol is the home of the disputed Black Sea Fleet. (Roman Solchanyk) UKRAINE REQUESTS MORE RUSSIAN OIL. According to Interfax of 9 December, Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk has appealed to Russian President Boris Yeltsin for an additional oil quota of 2.4 million tons in December, together with increased bank credits to the value of 100 billion rubles to pay for oil and gas deliveries. The appeal referred to the "critical situation" in Ukraine's fuel supply. The Ukrainian government is said to be hoping for 45-million tons of oil from Russia in 1993. If the report is accurate, this hope would appear to be unrealistic. (Keith Bush) SOME RUSSIAN TROOPS FROM GERMANY TO RESETTLE IN UKRAINE. Interfax on 9-December reported that Russian President Boris Yeltsin had directed Defense Minister General Pavel Grachev to reach an agreement with Ukraine on building apartments in the republic for members of the Western Group of Forces returning from Germany. The report said that Ukraine would receive DM 755 million out of the DM 7.8 billion Germany has pledged to provide for such construction. It said that the plans were to build 680 apartments in Novohrad- Volynskyi and 1,100 in Kiev by the end of next year. (Doug Clarke) UZBEK OPPOSITION LEADER ARRESTED IN BISHKEK. The chairman of Birlik, Uzbekistan's Popular Front movement, and two of his associates were arrested in Bishkek on 8 December by officials of Uzbekistan's Ministry of Internal Affairs who removed them to Tashkent, Interfax reported. Pulatov had told a human rights conference organized by the United Councils for Soviet Jews that the Uzbek leadership is using the threat of Muslim fundamentalism to persuade Russia and the West to tolerate dictatorial regimes in Central Asia. Kyrgyz human rights representatives promptly held a press conference to denounce the arrests and complain that officials in Kyrgyzstan had done nothing to prevent the arrests. (Bess Brown) UZBEKISTAN TO SEND PEACEKEEPERS TO TAJIKISTAN. At its 9 December session Uzbekistan's Supreme Soviet voted for an Uzbek battalion to participate in the multinational peacekeeping forces to be sent to Tajikistan under CIS command, Interfax reported. Uzbekistan had offered to provide a peacekeeping force in September. The CIS peacekeeping force is to comprise Russian units, including the 201st Motorized Division already stationed in Tajikistan, and units from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. It remains uncertain whether Kyrgyzstan's Supreme Soviet, now involved in a heated debate over the country's constitution, will reverse its earlier rejection of Kyrgyz participation in military actions in Tajikistan. (Bess Brown) OIL FROM KAZAKHSTAN. The Kazakhstan government estimates that exports of crude oil will amount to about 4,750,000 tons per year once the new oil pipeline from the Tengiz oil field to the Russian export terminal of Novorossiisk is opened next year according to an article in the Journal of Commerce of 8 December. This will rise to 5,250,000 tons in 1994, and 5,500,000 by the year 2000. However, construction of the 610 kilometer pipeline has just begun. Details of an agreement with the Chevron corporation to develop the Tengiz field, involving investments of billions of dollars, are now being finalized. K.K. Baikenov, Kazakhstan's Fuels and Energy Resources Minister, claims that the country's current oil production is 27,100,000 tons a year, and that output will rise to around 45,000,000 within six years. (Sheila Marnie) MORE FALLOUT IN MOLDOVA FROM ROMANIAN CALLS FOR UNIFICATION. Interviewed by Moldovan Radio on 8 December, Moldovan President Mircea Snegur again rebutted the recent remarks by Romanian Foreign Ministry officials anticipating Romanian- Moldovan unification. Reiterating his government's determination to "consolidate Moldovan independent statehood," Snegur said that the Romanian officials' remarks "are probably aimed at discouraging potential foreign investors" in Moldova. In Bucharest, the Romanian Foreign Ministry's spokeswoman was cited by ITAR-TASS as telling journalists that "the Romanian side can not be blamed for a possible deterioration in [Romanian-Moldovan] bilateral relations" and that Romania "hopes that its efforts to develop relations with Moldova will be met with the necessary understanding" by the Moldovan government. (Vladimir Socor) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE PANIC-MILOSEVIC CAMPAIGN IN FULL SWING. Radio Serbia reports on 9-December that Serbia's Constitutional Court (has ruled that federal Prime Minister Milan Panic can run for president of Serbia. It is the second time that the high court has overruled the republic's election commission, which rejected Panic's candidacy on the grounds that he failed to meet a one-year residency requirement. The court's decision is now final. Meanwhile Panic and Milosevic have been campaigning in the province of Vojvodina and western Serbia. Independent Politika TV reports that recent polls show that Panic is strongest in those areas. Newscasts on Belgrade TV news-controlled by Milosevic's Socialist Party-did not even mention Panic's campaign stops, however, while Milosevic's visits to a factory and village were given 20 minutes. Panic has challenged Milosevic to a TV debate next week. He told supporters that Serbia has had enough of war and pledged to bring peace and the lifting of UN sanctions. Milosevic told a rally that Serbia will "neither suffer from hunger or cold . . . we will survive the sanctions by accelerating development of our own resources." On 10 December Panic is expected to address union leaders in Nis, a Milosevic stronghold. (Milan Andrejevich) BOSNIA ROUNDUP. Radio Croatia reports on 9-December that fighting in and around the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo is not as intense as in previous weeks. More deaths have been reported nonetheless: five people in a bread line were killed by a missile that Bosnian officials say came from a nearby Serb position. Serb tanks also withdrew from the only road linking the airport and Sarajevo. A UN military spokesman said that relief flights will likely resume on 10 December if rival groups around the airport give assurances to hold their fire. An RFE correspondent reports that the UN Security Council will consider stronger measures against Bosnian Serbs if relief supplies are not allowed through to Sarajevo. The Security Council's statement mentioned no specific measures, but only said action would be taken "as soon as possible." A meeting of NATO ministers opens today in Brussels. High on the agenda will be the conflict in the former Yugoslavia and a discussion of plans for training and deploying troops for eventual peacekeeping missions. (Milan Andrejevich) SECOND ATTEMPT TO FORM BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT FAILS. Petar Boyadzhiev, former dissident and prime minister-designate of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, has failed to form a new government, BTA reported on 9 December. At a press conference presidential spokesman Valentin Stoyanov said President Zhelyu Zhelev had cancelled the BSP's mandate because Boyadzhiev did not present a cabinet within one week as prescribed by the constitution. According to Stoyanov, another reason why Zhelev could not support the BSP candidacy in the National Assembly was that Boyadzhiev apparently still holds dual citizenship; French authorities could not confirm Boyadzhiev's claim that he had asked to renounce his French citizenship. Later Zhelev's legal advisor, Plamen Bogoev, told reporters that the third largest parliamentary group, that of the mainly Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms, will be next to try to form a government. Meanwhile, following a motion by 51-BSP deputies, the Constitutional Court will try to clarify the legal ways out of the current government crisis, and has called for written statements from the presidency, the National Assembly, and the acting cabinet. (Kjell Engelbrekt) CZECH GOVERNMENT SETS RULES ON CITIZENSHIP. The Czech government set the rules for the acquisition of Czech citizenship on 9 December, CSTK reports. The draft law rules that Slovak citizens desiring Czech citizenship will have to apply no later than 31 December 1993 and must have lived on Czech territory continuously for at least two years. Other foreigners applying for Czech citizenship will have to prove that they have lived for at least five years in the Czech Republic. All applicants for Czech citizenship may not have been convicted for "premeditated criminal activity" within the past five years and must renounce citizenship in any other country. The draft law has yet to pass the Czech National Council. Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar offered the 50,000 Czechs living in Slovakia a dual citizenship but it is unclear whether the measure will indeed be realized. (Jan Obrman) US CONSULATE WAS ACTIVELY BUGGED UNTIL LAST MONTH. The US Embassy in Prague released a statement on 9 December saying that its Consulate General in Bratislava was bugged until an electronic sweep discovered well-concealed listening devices last month. Contrary to earlier assurances that the listening devices had been deactivated, it said, "someone was actively using them as recently as November 1992." The statement also claimed that there is "indisputable evidence that the devices were not disconnected as some reports have stated." Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar claimed earlier that the bugs were deactivated after the ousting of the communist regime in November 1992. (Jan Obrman) RIGHT-WING PRAGUE WEEKLY LISTS CZECH JEWS. Politika published a list of Jews active in Czech cultural life last week, prompting alarm and angry reactions among Czech Jews and others. The 168 names appeared under the headline "Partial List of Jews and Half-Breeds in the Current Culture of the Czech Republic." Several persons listed, including former Czechoslovak President Vaclav Havel, are not Jewish. Havel described the list as a very serious and extremely dangerous thing, Western agencies reported on 9 December. Karol Sidon, Chief Rabbi of Prague, called for action to stop such expressions of anti-Semitism: "such things must be nipped in the bud before it is too late." Even before the publication of the list, Martin Savel, the owner of Politika, was charged with inciting racial hatred and will have to stand trial. He faces a maximum of five years in jail. (Jan Obrman) ROMANIAN PRINTERS ON STRIKE. The printers' trade union declared a one-day warning strike on 9-December, Radio Bucharest reports. Dailies and weeklies due out on the 10th will not be printed. The union said that if its demands for the doubling of salaries and better working conditions are not met, a one-week strike to begin on 16 December will be declared . (Michael Shafir) ROMANIA, HUNGARY AND THE EXTRADITION OF DRAGHICI. Romanian Prosecutor-General Mihai Ulpiu Popa Cherecheanu now admits that Hungary did not actually refuse to extradite former Romanian Interior Minister Alexandru Draghici, but asked for additional information in order to make its decision. In an interview broadcast on Radio Bucharest on 9-December Cherecheanu said Romania will provide the requested information. One day earlier the Ministry of Justice had claimed that Hungary had turned down the request, but the claim was denied in Budapest. (Michael Shafir) ETHNIC HUNGARIANS IN ROMANIA PROTEST AGAINST FUNAR. The Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania issued a statement protesting against the latest measures by the Romanian nationalist mayor of Cluj, Gheorghe Funar, Western agencies reported on 9-December. The protest expressed anger against "the illegal decisions of the mayor, and mainly against the incitement to aggression against the monument to King Mathias." The HDFR says that "if legality is not restored and if the government fails to condemn the mayor's anti- Hungarian provocations," it will be forced to seek protection from the European Parliament and the United Nations. (Michael Shafir) HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT APPEALS TO ROMANIA. The Foreign Relations Committee of parliament sent a letter to its counterpart in Romania, expressing concern about the recent anti-Hungarian events in Cluj, MTI reported on 9 November. The committee said that it hopes that problems can be solved in spirit of good neighborliness and European values. The committee also expressed the hope that the political forces behind the recent ethnic tensions in Cluj will not hamper Romania's European integration. (Karoly Okolicsanyi) HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT SUSPENDS TV CHIEF. Hungarian President Arpad Goncz has once again refused to endorse Prime Minister Jozsef Antall's request to fire the heads of Hungarian TV and Radio and proposed a new way to nominate and recall media chiefs, MTI reported on 9 December. Goncz's action was not unexpected and his proposal was accordingly rejected by the government. The cabinet also endorsed the Justice Minister's call to suspend Elemer Hankiss, head of Hungarian TV, indefinitely. Earlier the government initiated an investigation into charges of financial mismanagement by Hankiss. The Association of Free Democrats, the largest opposition party in parliament, called the government's action a gross violation of the law and the constitution. The government maintains that Hungarian TV and Radio are under opposition influence. (Karoly Okolicsanyi) POLAND EXPELS GERMAN NEO-NAZI. The Polish provincial administrator of Opole decided on 9 December to expel a German neo- Nazi activist from the country. According to a PAP report, Guenther Boschuetz, a member of the German neo-Nazi group National Offensive was to leave Poland by 11 December because he failed to secure a residence visa. Several members of the group have recently arrived in Poland to spread anti-Polish propaganda. Their activities prompted complaints by the media and the political establishment. (Jan de Weydenthal) TRUCK PLANT STRIKE ENDS IN POLAND. Workers in the Star truck plant decided on 9-December to end their strike. The decision came after the management assured workers that the government will support the plant's reorganization and provide financial aid. PAP reported that plans for changes in the plant's structure and operations were presented to the government officials on 8 December. (Jan de Weydenthal) ELECTION COMMISSION CHOSEN IN LATVIA. The Supreme Council confirmed members of the election commission, suggesting that national elections could possibly take place in mid-May 1993 (i.e. at least five months after the formation of the commission). Supreme Court Chairman Gvido Zemribo chairs the commission, the members of which are Austra Bolsevica, Girts Krumins, Atis Kramins, Harijs Vizla, Silvija Dreimane, Vilhelms Kozlovskis, and Inara Raudone, Diena reported on 8 December. (Dzintra Bungs) RUSSIA DROPS LINKAGE AT NACC. Russia's delegate to the North Atlantic Cooperation Council has withdrawn a proposal that would link the observance of human rights to troop withdrawals from the Baltic States. Estonia's NACC representative Clyde Kull told BNS on 9-December that Russia earlier had pushed inclusion of the linkage proposal in the organization's final document, set for approval on 18-December at the NACC foreign ministers' meeting. In withdrawing the proposal, Kull said the Russian representative had made mention of the recent Moscow meeting between Estonian Foreign Minister Trivimi Velliste and his Russian counterpart Andrei Kozyrev. The NACC move may mark the end of Russia's practice, ongoing since last June, of linking human rights to troop withdrawals in international forums. (Riina Kionka) CHIEF RABBI IN ESTONIA. During a 9 December visit in Tallinn with Estonian Prime Minister Mart Laar, Scandinavian Chief Rabbi Melchior said he is satisfied with the government's treatment of ethnic minorities. Melchior said he supports the Estonian government's plan to restore the principles of the 1925 Cultural Autonomy Law on a constitutional basis, and said recent assaults against the government in the foreign press by some members of the local Jewish community were "regrettable." (Riina Kionka) THE PRICE OF OIL IN LITHUANIA. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Shokin told reporters on 9-December that Russia is having more trouble in selling energy to Lithuania than to the other two Baltic States. According to BNS, Shokin said Estonia and Latvia have been buying supplies at world prices, whereas Lithuania, which imports more petroleum products from Russia than the other two, is "insisting on" prices below the world level. Shokin said the two sides have reached agreement by which Russia will sell oil at around 10-15 dollars per barrel less than the world price in return for lower transit tariffs for energy supplies to Kaliningrad via Lithuania. (Riina Kionka) US-LATVIAN TRADE ACCORD. On 9 December US Ambassador Ints Silins and Latvian Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis signed an agreement on basic principles of mutual trade and investments, BNS and Baltfax report. The document sets the course for development of Latvian-US economic relations, including future agreements on trade, investments, tax policy, and intellectual property rights. (Dzintra Bungs) ROMANIA SEEKS TO IMPROVE IMAGE ABROAD. Romania has hired the British advertising agency Saatchi and Saatchi to improve the country's image and help attract foreign investors. Dana Simion of Romania's National Agency for Privatization told Reuters on 9 December that the British firm won the bid for a public relations project to begin this month. The project will cost more than one million dollars and will be financed by funds from the European Community. Among other things, the project will publicize Romania's plans to privatize more than 6,000 state enterprises. (Michael Shafir) As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba & Charles Trumbull
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