|History is made out of the failures and heroism of each insignificant moment. - Franz Kafka|
No. 239, 14 December 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR REFERENDUM ROUNDUP. On 10 December President Boris Yeltsin appealed to the Russian people. He proposed holding a referendum on 24 January to decide whom the people trust more-the Congress or the President. A few hours later, the Congress responded with its own appeal to the nation, announcing its intention to held the referendum with different questions. On 11 December, however, the Congress amended the Russian Law on Referenda to add a ban on holding referenda on either the abolition or curtailment of the powers of the President, the Congress, or the Constitutional Court. The appeals and sessions of the Congress were carried live by Russian TV and radio. (Julia Wishnevsky) COMPROMISE REACHED. On 12 December, a compromise was brokered by the chairman of the Constitutional Court, Valerii Zorkin. Under its terms, a referendum will be held on 11-April 1993 to approve the draft principles of a new Russian Constitution. These will be formulated by the parliament, the president, and the Constitutional Court, and may include alternative provisions in case of disagreement. The amendments passed on 11 December will not come into effect until the next session of the CPD scheduled for late April 1993, i.e., after the referendum. Another feature of the compromise provides for the selection of a prime minister: this is expected to take place on 14-December. (Julia Wishnevsky) REGIONAL LEADERS PLAYED KEY ROLE IN COMPROMISE. The delegation of President Boris Yeltsin at the negotiations consisted of the President of Yakutia, Mikhail Nikolaev, the head of the Moscow regional administration Anatolii Tyazhelov, as well as the Secretary of the Security Council Yurii Skokov and the government leaders Egor Gaidar, Aleksandr Shokhin and Sergei Shakhrai, ITAR-TASS reported on 12 December. The delegation of parliamentary speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov included the local parliamentary heads of Karelia and Arkhangelsk Viktor Stepanov and Yurii Guskov, as well as deputy parliamentary speaker Yurii Yarov, the head of the Soviet of Republics, Nikolai Yarov, and the head of the parliamentary Committee for Science, Vladimir Shorin. (Alexander Rahr) BURBULIS DISMISSED. In an interview with the "Ostankino" TV program "Itogi" on 13-December, Zorkin confirmed that Yeltsin had signed a decree dismissing his chief adviser, Gennadii Burbulis. According to Zorkin, Burbulis' ouster was agreed during a meeting between Yeltsin and a group of deputies on 11 December. Since 1990, Burbulis has held several loosely defined positions: plenipotentiary representative of the Supreme Soviet chairman; chairman of the State Council; First Deputy Prime Minister; State Secretary of the Russian Federation; State Secretary to the Russian President. Burbulis was demoted to his last position as the head of Yeltsin's advisers on the eve of the current session of the Congress. (Julia Wishnevsky) YELTSIN'S SPOKESMAN ATTACKS RUTSKOI. President Yeltsin's spokesman Vyacheslav Kostikov read a statement to journalists on 11 December saying that, in his addresses to the Congress, Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi "had substantially gone beyond his constitutional prerogatives," ITAR-TASS reported. The statement said that Rutskoi's opposition to Yeltsin's call for a referendum was a demonstration of "political disloyalty" on the part of the vice president. Kostikov said that Rutskoi's behavior was at "variance with the Constitution," recalling that Rutskoi and Yeltsin were elected in the 1991 election on a common platform. (Vera Tolz) DEMONSTRATIONS IN SUPPORT OF YELTSIN. Several thousand people demonstrated in Moscow on 11 December in support of Yeltsin and his reforms. The demonstrators also supported Yeltsin's call for a referendum. ITAR-TASS said the demonstration was organized by the Democratic Russia movement despite appeals by the president and the Congress to refrain from mass rallies. On 12-December, a similar demonstration was held in St.-Petersburg. The demonstrators demanded that Egor Gaidar be confirmed as prime minister. Interfax reported on 11 December that the Russian General Procurator's office had demanded that the several hundred Kuznetsk coal miners, who had come to Moscow to "support" the President, "stop their unlawful actions immediately." (Vera Tolz) SHAPOSHNIKOV REPORTS TO THE CONGRESS. Marshal Evgeni Shaposhnikov, the commander of the CIS Joint Armed Forces, called for more integration of the CIS republics in an 11 December report to the Congress, according to Radio Rossii. He called for "strong, coordinating bodies" and suggested that Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan, and Armenia-and perhaps Turkmenistan and Belarus-were ready for closer integration, with other republics becoming associate members or observers, while some states might leave the Commonwealth altogether. Shaposhnikov criticized some republics for striving to join NATO instead of the CIS collective security system. (Doug Clarke) SHAKHRAI DENIES INTRODUCING MEDIA CENSORSHIP. On 13 December, Radio Rossii and ITAR-TASS reported that the head of Russia's temporary administration in North Ossetia and Ingushetia, Sergei Shakhrai, issued regulations on the introduction of media censorship in the zone of the Ossetian-Ingush conflict. The radio and the agency said that representatives of mass media could face administrative or even criminal charges if they disobeyed Shakhrai's rules. In an interview with RFE/RL the same day, Shakhrai denied introducing censorship of reportages filed from the conflict zone. He said he only ordered that all journalists working in the state of emergency zone register within three days with the press center at the temporary administration. (Vera Tolz) TAJIK GOVERNMENT NEGOTIATES WITH OPPOSITION. Negotiations between Tajikistan's new government and opposition military commanders continued on 13-December, ITAR-TASS reported. The goal of the negotiations is to persuade the "Popular Democratic Army" of Tajikistan's Islamic and democratic groups to stop fighting with pro-Communist formations and surrender its weapons. Fighting continued in Dushanbe suburbs during the weekend, and a Western correspondent reported that fuel storage tanks had been set on fire and the capital's main heating plant was not functioning. A story from 11 December that Dushanbe mayor Maksud Ikramov, an opposition supporter, had been kidnapped, was denied the same day by Tajik Radio. (Bess Brown) SITUATION OF TAJIK REFUGEES WORSENS. The situation of the estimated 75,000 refugees waiting on the Tajik-Afghan border to cross into Afghanistan in order to escape the fighting in Tajikistan has worsened, according to ITAR-TASS on 13 December. Russian border guards said that the refugees, who are without food, shelter, or fuel, were robbing border installations and occupying some of them. A British aid official for Afghanistan warned that the refugees from Tajikistan were not likely to find conditions much better in Afghanistan, The Independent reported on 12 December. On 13-December, Interfax quoted a Kurgan-Tyube Oblast kolkhoz director as saying that 50,000 refugees have gathered on his farm and more than 100-children are dying daily in the raion. (Bess Brown) GEORGIA TO PROSECUTE GAMSAKHURDIA SUPPORTERS. The head of a Georgian public prosecutor's inquiry, Anzor Balaushvili, told a news conference in Tbilisi on 11 December that Georgian justice officials have prepared a court case against 41 out of a group of 53-supporters of ousted Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia accused of attempting to seize power by force. They will not, however, be brought to trial until Gamsakhurdia himself is arrested, Interfax reported. Balaushvili claimed that an inquiry has established that Gamsakhurdia masterminded and took part in attempts to kill Georgian parliament chairman Eduard Shevardnadze and deputy prime minister Aleksandr Kavsadze. (Liz Fuller) US, RUSSIA DISCUSS START II ACCORD. Acting US Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger met with Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev in Stockholm on 13 December to discuss obstacles that have been delaying the conclusion of the START II agreement. Western press reports indicate that while some progress was made, not all of the outstanding issues were resolved. The Bush administration has been trying to conclude the agreement before leaving office, but Eagleburger noted that it was "by no means assured" that an agreement could be reached by then. (John Lepingwell) UKRAINE EXPECTS SANCTIONS IF NUCLEAR TREATY NOT RATIFIED. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Anatoliy Zlenko on 11 December reaffirmed that the republic intended to ratify the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and join the nuclear NonProliferation Treaty. Radio Ukraine World Service summarized his comments to the heads of foreign missions in Kiev. The minister said that Ukraine would be grateful for some help in the elimination of strategic missiles on its territory, noting that it had yet to receive any money for this purpose. In an earlier interview in the newspaper Respublika Zlenko was quoted as saying that Ukraine knew exactly what measures would be taken against it if it did not ratify the strategic arms treaty: "First of all, this is about economic and political sanctions." (Doug Clarke) KOZYREV SUGGESTS RUSSIA JOINS SWEDEN IN SUB HUNT. At a 13 December joint press conference with his Swedish counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev suggested that Russia and Sweden join forces to hunt for the mysterious submarines that have been violating Swedish territorial waters for the last decade. Most Swedes believe these intruders belonged to first the Soviet and now the Russian Navy. Western agencies quoted Kozyrev as saying that since there was a concern "that foreign submarines are violating territorial waters [of Sweden], and we also have a concern to defend our territorial waters, why don't we join the efforts." (Doug Clarke) CHURKIN IN BELGRADE. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vitalii Churkin said Russia is taking an active part in efforts to find ways to settle the conflict in the former Yugoslavia and is maintaining contacts with the United States and the European Community. Speaking at a news conference in Belgrade on 11 December, said the aim of his visit was to study the situation and familiarize Moscow with Belgrade's position. During the visit, Churkin met with rump Yugoslavia's president, Dobrica Cosic, foreign minister Ilija Djukic, prime minister Milan Panic, and Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic. In keeping with past Russian statements, Churkin said Russia is calling for the alleviation of UN sponsored sanctions, including permission to bring oil into Yugoslavia for humanitarian purposes, ITAR-TASS reported on 11 December. (Suzanne Crow) PRICE OF VOUCHERS RISES. On the Russian Commodity and Raw Materials Exchange (RTSB), privatisation vouchers were trading for an average of 7,000 rubles on 7 December, Radio Rossii reported on 8 December. The going rate for vouchers (which have a face value of 10,000 rubles, but were trading for nearer 5-6,000 in November) rose markedly last week. The current street price is reported to be between 6-7,000 rubles. Oleg Akhinin, deputy chairman of the Moscow Property Fund, gave two reasons for the rise. Firstly, enterprises are buying up vouchers, because , according to one privatization option, they need to buy 51% of the shares, and to make 70% of the payment in vouchers in order to secure a controlling interest. Secondly, the sale of state enterprises at special voucher auctions has begun. (Sheila Marnie) INTERENTERPRISE DEBT PROBLEM UNSOLVED. The Deputy Chairman of the Central Bank of Russia, Tatyana Paramonova, has stated that the settling of the interenterprise debt accumulated before July 1992 (which amounted to 3.2-trillion rubles) through the emission of Central Bank credits is now complete, according to Interfax on 11 December. She claims that this has required of credits of what will amount to approximately 181-billion rubles, to be paid out by 31 March 1993, and noted that this was much less than the 1 trillion ruble figure originally predicted. The Bank's chairman, Viktor Gerashchenko has however spoken of the need for further credits to cover new interenterprise debts, arising since July, which now amount to 3 trillion rubles, according to ITAR-TASS on 12 December. (Sheila Marnie) DRAFT CHARTER FOR CIS INTERSTATE BANK APPROVED. A draft charter of the CIS Interstate Bank was approved at a meeting of experts from CIS members held 7-9 December, according to Interfax on 11 December. The main function of the bank is to secure conditions for "the many-sided clearing between banks in interstate and other payments." It was decided that the means of payment for the Interstate bank will be the Russian ruble. Each state is to have one vote in the management board of the bank, regardless of its economic potential. The starting fund is expected to be "no less than 5 million rubles", and Moscow is considered the most appropriate location for the bank. (Sheila Marnie) SECOND CHERNOBYL REACTOR REOPENED. The Number One reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant was reopened on 13 December, Western agencies reported. The Ukranian parliament had voted in October 1991 to close down Chernobyl completely by the end of 1993. The plant was indeed completely closed down earlier this year, but No. 3 reactor was reopened in October. Ukrainian officials are reported as saying that the partial reopening of the plant is necessary due to the shortage of energy supplies, which has become more acute following the reduction in supplies of cheap oil and gas from Russia. (Sheila Marnie) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE EC PRIME MINISTERS DO NOT RECOGNIZE MACEDONIA. The European Community prime ministers, meeting in Edinburgh during the weekend of 12-13 December, chose not to recognize officially the Republic of Macedonia in the interest of preserving EC unity, Reuters reports. Begging the issue because of Greece's vehement continuing opposition to recognition, the prime ministers enjoined their foreign ministers to "remain seized of this question." They did agree to provide the fledgling republic with $62-million in humanitarian aid, however, and endorsed a UN resolution to send 700 troops to Macedonia. Leaders in Skopje regard the assistance as a step toward recognition; the Greeks feel that the EC held the line against recognition of Macedonia. According to Western sources, Macedonia will soon seek UN recognition as well as assistance from the IMF and World Bank-steps outside the EC framework, where Greek opposition would likely be less effective. Finally, contrary to earlier reports, the Macedonian parliament did not vote to change the name of the state to the Republic of Macedonia-Skopje. (Duncan Perry) SERBIAN ELECTION CAMPAIGN. On 11 December Milan Panic, prime minister of the rump Yugoslavia, told a rally of several thousand supporters in Nis that Serbia's economy has been ruined by the fighting in Bosnia-Herzegovina. He did not mention Serbia's President Slobodan Milosevic by name, but underscored that Serbia was a "rich land and someone made it poor." He said there has been enough destruction, death, and impoverishment in the region adding "no longer, at the end of the 20th century, can cannon be used to solve problems." In an interview with the Novi Sad daily Dnevnik on 12 December Serbian Prime Minister Radoman Bozovic described the aim of the Panic's government is to establish "a protectorate over Serbia and Yugoslavia by some foreign governments." He described Milosevic as a man of "extraordinary education and experience" who is "truly loyal" to Serbia. Radios Serbia and B92 carried the reports. (Milan Andrejevich) MILOSEVIC ON KOSOVO, MACEDONIA. The highlight of Milosevic's activities this past weekend was an interview on Greek TV. He said that the prospects of Serbia's predominantly Albanian populated province of Kosovo of becoming a war zone depends on "Serbia's enemies and people who would love to see it happen." He warned, however, their are great risks involved "because we are giving our country to no one." Milosevic referred to Macedonia as the "Republic of Skopje" for the first time publicly and cautioned that "without the consent of Greece, recognition would be very dangerous." Belgrade TV broadcast excerpts of the interview on the main evening news. (Milan Andrejevich) BOSNIAN UPDATE. International media on 13 December reported that the United States is considering enforcing the UN-imposed no-fly zone over Bosnia-Herzegovina, and that France is prepared to help. The Washington Post quoted Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger as saying that Washington also now supports at least a partial lifting of the arms embargo against Bosnia. The paper also cited a statement by President-elect Bill Clinton calling for moves that would "turn up the heat a little" on the Serbs. Elsewhere, Newsday reported on a massacre of Serb villagers by Bosnian troops, and cited a Muslim war crimes center official as saying that "it is a war crime and it will be treated as such." The man added, however, that there is "a big difference between organized evil and an occasional case of revenge." Finally, the 14 December Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung says that Croatian and Bosnian forces have pressed an offensive over the weekend designed to break the Serbian strategic corridor across northern Bosnia. (Patrick Moore) YUGOSLAV SHIP LEAVES ROMANIAN PORT. A Yugoslav ship detained by Romania last week on suspicion of violating the UN economic sanctions against rump Yugoslavia has left the port of Galati with its cargo, Romanian authorities told Reuters on 13 December. The officials refused to give any explanation for the release of the ship. There was no word about two other Yugoslav vessels detained in Romania last week. (Michael Shafir) MANY SLOVAKS SEEKING CZECH CITIZENSHIP. Czech Interior Minister Jan Ruml told the press on 11-December that hundreds of Slovaks are applying for Czech citizenship every day. He said that many of the applicants are Slovak intellectuals and that Czech authorities will not be able to process that many applications this year. According to a Czech draft law on citizenship, 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. More than 300,000 Slovaks are already living in the Czech Republic, making them by far the largest ethnic minority in Bohemia and Moravia. (Jan Obrman) MECIAR: "US NOT COOPERATING." Slovak Prime Minister Meciar has accused the US of failing to cooperate with a Slovak commission investigating the bugging of the US consulate in Bratislava, Czechoslovak Radio reported on 11 December. In an address to labor leaders in Kosice, Meciar challenged Washington's assertion that the listening devices found in the embassy were active until their discovery in an electronic sweep last month. Meciar said that US officials have refused to show the bugs to Slovak authorities and was quoted as saying "I wonder who is playing this dirty game at our expense." (Jan Obrman) POLISH BUDGET DEBATE: MIXED OUTCOME. The Sejm voted overwhelmingly on 12-December to send the government's proposed budget for 1993 to committee. A motion to reject the budget outright failed by a margin of 257 to 136. At the same time, however, the Sejm voted 199 to 196 to reject a related government proposal that would have limited pension increases in 1993. Finance Minister Jerzy Osiatynski said the Sejm's decision would require additional spending of 13 trillion zloty ($850-million) in 1993 and that such funds are simply unavailable. Denying that the vote would undermine Poland's agreement with the IMF, Osiatynski indicated the government would try to achieve the same end with a different pension formula. On 13 December a group of legislators submitted a motion to retake the vote after Polish TV showed footage of deputies casting ballots for absent colleagues. (Louisa Vinton) SOLIDARITY STAGES WARNING STRIKE. Scattered work stoppages are reported early on 14-December in response to a call from Solidarity's National Commission for a two-hour warning strike. Solidarity has two demands: that the government take measures to compensate for increases in the cost of living, including eased wage controls; and speedier action to restructure the Walbrzych region, where the closing of four mines has led to 21% unemployment. Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka chaired a special government meeting on 12-December to explore the delays in Walbrzych restructuring. She proposed centralizing control in the hands of a single official. The government pledged to present Solidarity with new restructuring proposals by 21-December; the union signaled its approval. (Louisa Vinton) 780,000 SIGN PETITION FOR ABORTION REFERENDUM. With the Sejm vote on a nearly total ban on abortion approaching in mid-December, at least 780,000 Poles have signed a petition demanding a national referendum on the issue, according to PAP. The referendum would ask whether abortion should be punished. The proposed law would impose a two-year prison term for those performing abortions. The petition campaign aims to put pressure on the Sejm, which has rejected two previous referendum proposals. (Louisa Vinton) UDF CONFERENCE ACCEPTS COALITION FORMULA. On 13 December, although it imposed a number of specific conditions, the Union of Democratic Forces accepted the idea of a coalition government with the mainly Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms, Bulgarian and Western agencies report. At a national conference, a two-thirds majority of the 270 UDF delegates supported renewed negotiations with the MRF, which is next in line to try to form a new cabinet. According to the resolution, the UDF demanded the transfer of the Bulgarian counterintelligence service from the Presidency to the government and guarantees that the MRF will not try to bring about a substantial revision of recent legislation or suddenly defeat the coalition. A UDF government was brought down jointly by the MRF and Socialist Party on 28 October. (Kjell Engelbrekt) HUNGARIAN TV MANAGERS INVESTIGATED. The investigation into the financial affairs of Hungarian TV will continue on 14 December. According to an MTI report on 11 December, the National Police Headquarters has started investigations against TV director Gabor Banyai and financial manager Laszlo Nagy on charges of financial misconduct filed against them by Justice Minister Istvan Balsai. The two have been called to appear at police headquarters on 14-December and their TV identity cards have been withdrawn. Suspended TV President Elemer Hankiss told reporters that he will respect the orders of the chief prosecutor banning him from entering the building as long as his deputy Gabor Nahlik does not try to implement major changes during the investigation of Hankiss. On 12-December, in an interview on Hungarian TV Prime Minister Antall denied that the flurry of investigations means that he is succumbing to pressures from contrversial author and former vice chairman of the Hungarian Democratic Forum Istvan Csurka. (Judith Pataki) CSCE TO INVESTIGATE HUNGARIAN MINORITY PROBLEM? On 12 December the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe approved the appointment of former Dutch foreign minister Hans Van der Stoel as the first High Commissioner for Minority Issues, an RFE/RL correspondent reports. Hungarian diplomats at the Stockholm CSCE conference said Van der Stoel may be asked to investigate the problem of the ethnic Hungarian minority in Cluj, where Romanian nationalist mayor Gheorghe Funar and ethnic Hungarian groups have recently been at odds. (Michael Shafir) ROMANIAN EX-KING PLANS CHRISTMAS VISIT. King Michael, Romania's former monarch, plans to spend Christmas in the country with his family, Radio Bucharest announced on 11 December quoting a press release from the king's office in Versoix, Switzerland. Michael has informed the Romanian authorities about his plans, but there has been no official reaction. The former monarch was given a warm welcome by the population when he visited the country last Easter. He tried to visit Romania for Christmas in 1990 but was expelled soon after arrival. (Michael Shafir). LATVIAN JEWISH LEADERS DISAGREE WITH ARTICLE IN LIFE. At a press conference on 11-December in Riga, Latvian Jewish leaders expressed disagreement over a recent article in Life magazine about anti-Semitism in Latvia. Parliament deputy Ruta Sacs- Marjass and Jewish leader Grigorii Krupnikov noted factual inaccuracies in the article, which they said could be detrimental to for the Jewish community in Latvia whose activities are only now reemerging after many years of difficulty. Foreign Ministry official Mavriks Vulfsons, himself a journalist, said that although the state cannot be accused of anti-Semitism, records of individual Latvian leaders should be reassessed, BNS and Radio Riga report. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIAN RESIDENCY REGISTRATION EXTENDED. According to Maris Plavnieks, director of the Department for Citizenship and Immigration, the registration of Latvia's inhabitants should be completed by 1 March 1993. So far only about 66.9% of the inhabitants have been registered; in Riga, the figure is only 48.8%, Baltfax reported on 11 December. (Dzintra Bungs) BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES ENERGY CREDITS. Energy problems continue to plague Bulgaria. On 11 December BTA reported that the legislature, at the request of acting prime minister Filip Dimitrov, approved an economic credit package of 1.6 billion leva ($65-million) for thermal power plants and the coal-mining industry. The move will allow the energy industry to pay off outstanding debts, and it appears that a rate hike for consumers has been averted as winter sets in. (Duncan Perry) LATVIAN ENTERPRISES OWE BILLIONS FOR ENERGY. Baltfax reports that, according to Juris Stals of Latvenergo, republican enterprises in Latvia owe about 4 billion Latvian rubles for heating and electricity. Supplies to the most indebted enterprises have already been cut off and the cases taken to court. (Dzintra Bungs) NEW CZECH BANK NOTES. Czech newspapers reported on 12 December that a set of new Czech bank notes is expected to be ready in July. It remains unclear when the new currency will replace the current Czechoslovak money, however. The Czech and Slovak prime ministers, Vaclav Klaus and Vladimir Meciar have agreed to introduce a temporary monetary union but experts expect that this arrangement cannot be maintained for more than a few months because of the incompatibility of the two republics' economic and monetary policies. The cost of the currency transition in the Czech Republic is estimated at $31 million. (Jan Obrman) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Keith Bush & Charles Trumbull
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