|The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none. - Thomas Carlyle 1975-1881|
No. 240, 15 December 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR CHERNOMYRDIN ELECTED RUSSIAN PRIME MINISTER. During the evening session of the Congress on 14 December, President Yeltsin named Viktor Chernomyrdin as his final choice for the post of Russian prime minister. Chernomyrdin, who won 621 votes during the preliminary vote earlier that day, came in second after Yurii Skokov, the head of the Russian Security Council. The final round of elections for Chernomyrdin followed: 721 deputies voted in his favor; 128 against. In his address to the Congress, Chernomyrdin said that he supported the reform policy but without "a profound pauperization of the people." The 54 year old Chernomyrdin has worked in oil fuel industry. He served as the minister of the oil and gas industry in the Gorbachev government. Chernomyrdin was appointed deputy prime minister after the sixth session of the Congress, held in April 1992; at that time he recommended to Yeltsin that he "strengthen" the Gaidar government of "theorists" with experienced economic managers. (Julia Wishnevsky) RESPONSE TO CHERNOMYRDIN'S ELECTION. After the election of Viktor Chernomyrdin as prime minister on 14 December, Egor Gaidar told journalists that he would resign from the government and not return. ITAR-TASS quoted him as adding that he would recommend that some ministers stay in the government. A leader of the Civic Union, Vasilii Lipitsky, hailed the election of Chernomyrdin as a "reasonable compromise." He said that the Civic Union thinks Gaidar should stay in the cabinet in some capacity. Deputy Nikolai Pavlov from the nationalistic "Russia" faction called Chernomyrdin's election a "victory of the people," ITAR-TASS reported. In contrast, the Democratic Russia movement called the election "catastrophic," and said it was a "betrayal of reform." A leader of the movement Lev Ponomarev told an RFE/RL correspondent that Democratic Russia should announce its formal opposition to the government. (Vera Tolz) CONGRESS ENDS. The seventh session of the Congress of People's Deputies ended on 14-December. The Congress once again voiced approval of its agreement with President Yeltsin. The Congress also decided that there will be no referendum until 11-April 1991. The Congress ruled that no other questions will be put on the 11 April referendum except those concerning the principles guiding the future Russian Constitution, as discussed with Yeltsin and Zorkin. The Congress elected a special commission to ensure that the coverage of its session by Russian radio and TV will be informative and objective. In his closing address, speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov said that the Congress proved its worth during the session, and that the body acted as a protector of democracy, having saved Russia from the familiar communist tendency to live in a permanent state of emergency. (Julia Wishnevsky) CONGRESS CALLS ON CIS PARLIAMENTS TO CREATE CONFEDERATION. On 14-December the Russian Congress of People's Deputies called on the parliaments of the other CIS states to examine the question of forming "a confederation or other form of rapprochement of the independent states of Europe and Asia, whose peoples are expressing their desire for unity," ITAR-TASS reported. The call came in an "Appeal to the Parliaments of the Independent States-Former Republics of the USSR." (Ann Sheehy) BARANNIKOV REPEATS KRYUCHKOV'S ACCUSATIONS AGAINST THE WEST. In an unusually hardline address to the Russian Congress, Minister of Security Viktor Barannikov said that his agency, the MB (formerly called KGB), is struggling against the "subversive activities of western secret services and [their] efforts to transform Russia into a raw materials' appendage of the developed countries," Radio Russia reported on 14 December. Barannikov also accused the West of trying to gain control of Russia's nuclear arsenal; thanks to "countermeasures" by his service, however, such efforts have failed, he added. He also reported that more than ten "western agents" are presently being investigated by the MB. Concerning corruption, Barannikov said the state security organs have opened criminal files on more than 3,000 state officials. Finally, Barannikov stressed that his service is "not inclined in order to heed the current mood to reject the colossal experience of our predecessors . . . the former KGB . . . and the Russian secret services of the past centuries." In many instances, Barannikov's speech was similar to the much publicized address by former KGB chairman Vladimir Kryuchkov in December 1990. (Victor Yasmann) LUKYANOV, OTHER COUP LEADERS FREED ON BAIL. Russian Prosecutor General Valentin Stepankov has signed the indictment in the case of the August 1991 coup, Russian TV reported on 14-December. The documents on the case were turned over to the military collegium of the Russian Federation's Supreme Court. Simultaneously, four of the eleven accused were freed on bail. They are former speaker of the USSR parliament Anatolii Lukyanov, Army General Valentin Varennikov, and two KGB generals, Vyacheslav Generalov and Yurii Plekhnov. Another coup leader, a collective farm chairman, Vasilii Starodubtsev, was freed on bail earlier this year. Furthermore, three other former officials suspected of being involved in the coup (the head of Gorbachev's staff, Valerii Boldin, KGB general Viktor Grushko, a CPSU Politburo member, and Party secretary Oleg Shenin) were released because of poor health, and their cases will be handled separately, (Julia Wishnevsky) KOZYREV DRAMATIZES THREAT FROM CONSERVATIVES. In an unconventional move made without prior warning, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev simulated what a hard shift to the right would mean for Russian foreign policy during a speech to the council of CSCE foreign ministers in Stockholm on 14 December, the Russian and Western media reported. Within an hour of making the speech, however, Kozyrev returned to the podium and explained that his words had been delivered in an attempt to demonstrate what would happen to Russian foreign policy if more conservative forces gained control. The negative international reaction to the apparently changed foreign policy line was probably intended to send a message to Kozyrev's opponents in Moscow. The fact that Kozyrev would pull such a rhetorical stunt at the CSCE may suggest that he is not optimistic about his chances of remaining foreign minister. (Suzanne Crow) RUSSIAN TV LIMITS REPORTING ON KOZYREV'S "JOKE." All four newscasts of both channels of Russian TV on 14 December failed to report negative reactions of several Western leaders to Andrei Kozyrev's speech at the CSCE conference that he later retracted. All the newscasts described Kozyrev's speech as a "joke," failing to mention the controversial nature of the incident. (Julia Wishnevsky) ESTIMATED COST OF UN SANCTIONS. The Russian parliament's Committee on International Affairs and External Economic Relations has come up with a remarkably precise estimate of the losses that Russia has sustained from its adherence to UN sanctions against Iraq, Libya, Serbia, and Montenegro, Interfax reported on 13 December. The estimate, which was circulated at the Congress of People's Deputies, put the total revenue foregone at $15,763,700,000. (Keith Bush) KOHL IN MOSCOW. German Chancellor Helmut Kohl started a two-day visit in Moscow on 14 December. The German media reported that the main subjects of the talks would be Russian debt settlement and withdrawals of ex-Soviet troops from Germany. (Suzanne Crow) NO "RUSSIAN RUBLE" YET. Russian Central Chairman Viktor Gerashchenko has ruled out the introduction of a new Russian currency for the time being, ITAR-TASS reported on 13-December. Addressing apprehensions aired by, among others, Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi, that former Soviet republics which had left the ruble zone were swamping Russia with unwanted rubles, Gerashchenko minimized the scale of this threat. The amounts concerned were small, he said, and their value was being rapidly eroded by inflation. (Keith Bush) POLISH POLICE ACCUSED OF ROUGHING UP RUSSIAN SOLDIERS. According to Krasnaya zvezda of 15 December, a detachment of Polish police broke into the homes of some Russian servicemen on the evening of 11 December and subjected them to "physical and moral insults." The incident took place in the Trzebien garrison, near Legnica, the headquarters of the Northern Group of Forces. The account said that the men were forced to lie on the floor and were handcuffed, while the women and children were forced to their knees on the floor at gun point. A Polish regional police official later explained that the police had received a tip-off that weapons were hidden in the building. According to PAP of 14 December, the same official rejected charges of police brutality. A spokesman for the Northern Group of Forces called the incident a "most blatant and unprecedented violation of intergovernmental agreements" between the two countries. (Doug Clarke) FIRST RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPING DIVISION FORMED. The Russian Defense Ministry announced that the first division of Russian peacekeeping forces has been formed. According to Interfax on 14 December, the division is stationed in the village of Totskoye-2, in Orenburg oblast. This oblast-some 1,300 kilometers southeast of Moscow-borders Kazakhstan. The ministry's press service said that 13,224 Russian military personnel were presently serving in "hot points" throughout the former USSR. (Doug Clarke) CRACKDOWN ON UKRAINIAN MANAGERS THREATENED. In an interview with Kievskie vedomsti of 13 December, as reported by Interfax, Ukrainian Prime Minister Leonid Kuchma promised to "toughen and even somewhat harshen" government policy towards the directors of state-owned factories. Power had fallen into the hands of the managerial corps, Kuchma asserted, because of the economic situation. (Mikhail Berger of Izvestiya has also said that Russian enterprise directors now effectively control some 90% of the Federation's property). Kuchma warned of forthcoming moves on foreign exchange operations, pricing, customs tariffs, and leasing, together with measures against tax evasion and capital flight. (Keith Bush) ATTEMPT TO LEGALIZE UKRAINIAN COMMUNIST PARTY. The Ukrainian parliament reconvened on 14 December and witnessed attempts by former members of the Communist Party of Ukraine to lift the ban on their party, Ukrainian TV reported. The proposal to place the question on the agenda of the session, which was introduced several times, ultimately was rejected. According to the report, proponents of the move may have been emboldened by the election of several of their sympathizers to vacant parliamentary seats. (Roman Solchanyk) UKRAINE AND RUSSIA ARGUE OVER SHIP REPAIR YARDS. The ship repair facilities for the former Soviet Black Sea Fleet have become the latest bone of contention between Russian and Ukraine. ITAR-TASS on 14 December reported that the Ukrainian ministry of defense had decreed that all these plants were to be switched to its full jurisdiction. The Russian navy's press centered charged that such an action was a "flagrant violation" of the agreements placing the fleet under the joint administration of the two republics. (Doug Clarke) NEW CEASEFIRE IN ABKHAZIA. On 13 December Georgian and Abkhaz leaders signed a new ceasefire agreement promising to withdraw heavy weaponry from all areas of conflict by 18-December, and all their respective forces from the Gumista river north of Sukhumi and from Ochamchire raion, AFP reported quoting Russian and Abkhaz defense ministry statements. According to ITAR-TASS, the Georgian Military Command in Abkhazia has rejected a claim by the Russian Defense Ministry that on 14 December Georgian forces in Abkhazia shot down a Russian army helicopter evacuating Abkhaz civilians from the town of Tkvarcheli. (Liz Fuller) EBRD APPROVES STRATEGY FOR ARMENIA. On 14 December the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development approved a strategy for Armenia, noting the progress made there towards democracy and a market economy. However, EBRD chairman Jacques Attali warned that economic recovery is conditional on political stability in the Transcaucasus, an RFE-RL correspondent reported. EBRD operations in Armenia will focus initially on securing uninterrupted energy supplies, the development of agriculture and related business, financial sector development and environmental protection. (Liz Fuller) TAJIK GOVERNMENT THREATENS OPPOSITION WITH USE OF FORCE. Tajikistan's new government held its first meeting in Dushanbe on 14-December to discuss overcoming the economic effects of the civil war, and threatened to use force against opposition democratic-Islamic units in Kofarnihon Raion near the Tajik capital if those units refuse to lay down their arms, Interfax reported. The same source also reported learning from Russian border troop spokesmen that many supporters of the Islamic Renaissance Party (IRP) are among the 70,000 refugees trying to reach Afghanistan, and the border troops fear there could be casualties if government loyalists pursue the IRP. (Bess Brown) NIYAZOV PROMISES PROSPERITY IN TEN YEARS. Turkmenistan's President Saparmurad Niyazov told the Halk Maslahaty, the newly-elected supreme council of representatives of the executive, legislative and judicial branches, on 14 December that the country should achieve economic prosperity and become a strong democratic state within ten years, Interfax reported. This prediction was based on maintaining political stability while introducing economic innovations such as seven free economic zones. Turkmenistan plans to introduce its own currency in the second half of 1993 although, Niyazov said, it supports preservation of the ruble zone. (Bess Brown) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS OVER BOSNIA. On 14-December international media reported that the CSCE foreign ministers' meeting in Stockholm agreed to back investigations into war crimes in the crisis but was divided over lifting the arms embargo on Bosnia. An RFE/RL correspondent quoted Bosnian Foreign Minister Haris Silajdzic as saying that his republic will veto any measure that does not enable it to obtain weapons to defend itself. More discussion is slated for 15 December. Elsewhere, the German media reported on 14 December that Minister for Posts and Telecommunications Christian Schwarz-Schilling resigned his position in protest over what he regards as the government's "do-nothing" attitude toward Bosnia. He has been in the cabinet since Chancellor Helmut Kohl first took office over ten years ago. The 15 December Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung quotes a statement by the Serbian Orthodox Bishops' Conference in Belgrade as denying that Serbs have conducted mass rapes on Bosnian Muslim women. The bishops called such reports "war propaganda" aimed at "satanizing" the Serbian nation, and added that the Serbs have no camps for women. Western journalists and human rights workers have, however, confirmed that bordellos and camps exist and concluded that mass rape is an instrument of Serbian policy in ethnic cleansing, not just an excess by unruly soldiers. (Patrick Moore) LOUDER THREATS OF INTERVENTION IN BOSNIA. Dobrica Cosic, president of rump federal Yugoslavia, and the Federal Defense Ministry both warned on 8-December that the Yugoslav army might intervene to defend Bosnian Serbs against alleged Croatian aggression or foreign military intervention in Bosnia-Herzegovina. On 8 December Cosic told a meeting of officers of the Yugoslav army that the country "faces very serious and terrifying threats that we must regard as realistic," and exhorted the officer corps to "respond to such threats like men, according to the best of our traditions." Cosic was more explicit in a letter to UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali dated 12 December, warning that the Yugoslav army would be forced to take drastic measures to defend Bosnian Serbs if Croatian forces do not cease military operations in eastern Herzegovina and along Montenegro's border. Cosic made a similar statement last month. Politika carried the reports. (Milan Andrejevich) COSIC ENDORSES PANIC. Dobrica Cosic, President of rump Yugoslavia, endorsed Milan Panic in his bid to oust incumbent Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. Cosic said he wants to bring peace to the region and an end to Yugoslavia's international isolation. But he warned the West not to interfere in the elections by openly supporting one or other candidate. Cosic's endorsement of Panic is considered crucial in the latter's challenge to Milosevic. According to Belgrade's independent radio B92, Cosic's endorsement of Panic was not carried on state-controlled Belgrade TV, but Cosic is expected to make another endorsement live on Belgrade TV before the 20 December election. Meanwhile, Panic told Ouest-France that his election is the "only chance" for peace in the region. In a speech to a group of Serbian businessmen he welcomed reports that the US and Russia might lift sanctions immediately if Panic is elected as "good news." (Milan Andrejevich) MILOSEVIC'S CAMPAIGN. On 14 December French Channel 2 TV interviewed Milosevic, who categorically denied that Yugoslavia has a single soldier on the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina and accused Europe of having "a false image of the situation in Kosovo." He explained that Serbs are not in conflict with the Albanians but rather with the "Kosovo separatist movement." State-controlled Belgrade TV broadcast the interview in its entirely. Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic told reporters in Belgrade that the self-proclaimed Assembly of the Serb Republic will endorse a declaration on ending the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina on 17 December. Some Serbian opposition parties say Karadzic's announcement is aimed at helping Milosevic in his bid for reelection. Radio Serbia carried the reports. (Milan Andrejevich) HUNGARIAN DEMOCRATIC FORUM RESHUFFLE. The presidium of the ruling Hungarian Democratic Forum held a meeting on 11 December, MTI reports. The main topic of discussion appears to have been the tensions within the party caused by the essay published in August by Istvan Csurka, then one of the six vice chairmen of the HDF. His essay demanded stronger party and government actions against the former communist nomenklatura and was fraught with anti-Semitic references. The presidium, which heard recommendations from an ad hoc investigating committee, evidently opted to restructure the hierarchy by eliminating all vice chairmanships. Laszlo Medgyasszay, press secretary of the forum, later told journalists that, looking to its next congress in January, the 21-member presidium has assumed the responsibilities of the vice chairmen who will, nevertheless, remain presidium members. Lajos Fur remains executive chairman of the party and is in charge of preparing for the congress. (Judith Pataki) SCENE IN ROMANIAN SENATE. Three of the main opposition parties demonstratively left the Senate chamber on 14 December, Radio Bucharest and Rompres report. The National Peasant Party Christian Democrat, the Party of Civic Alliance and the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (HDFR) senators left the hall after the leader of the extreme-nationalist Greater Romania Party, Corneliu Vadim Tudor, demanded that the HDFR and the Timisoara Society be outlawed. He read in the chamber a letter sent from Budapest by three Hungarian citizens, alleging that on the occasion of the celebrations marking the third anniversary of the revolution, members of the HDFR and the Timisoara society plan to stage actions said to be dangerous for Romania's territorial integrity. (Michael Shafir) SOLIDARITY'S WARNING STRIKE WORRIES GOVERNMENT. Solidarity Chairman Marian Krzaklewski told Polish TV on 14 December that several thousand union locals participated in the two-hour warning strike held that day. He said this proved that Solidarity is the "single social organization" capable of conducting a protest on a national scale. The strike, organized around demands for better real wages, seemed designed more to allow the rank-and-file to let off steam than to achieve concrete results. It was boycotted by the Network, the dissident association of Solidarity organizations from Poland's largest industrial plants. A spokesman quoted by PAP said the government sees the strike as a worrying sign of social frustration but was cautiously hopeful that negotiations would work to solve conflicts. (Louisa Vinton) POLISH MINERS ON STRIKE. Solidarity's two-hour warning strike yielded the beginnings of a general strike in Silesia's coal mines. PAP reports early on 15-December that 14 mines have so far joined in. Solidarity endorsed the strike, and the leader of Solidarity's mining branch told Polish TV "we have nothing to lose." The miners have drawn up a list of 23-demands, including an end to the decline in real wages, debt relief for mines, and "government guarantees of funds to save mining." The same demands were voiced in strikes that broke out when the current Polish government was formed in July. (Louisa Vinton) GERMANY REASSURES POLAND ON ASYLUM-SEEKERS. German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger visited Warsaw on 14-December to inform Polish officials of expected changes in German asylum laws. She assured Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka that these revisions are not meant to burden Germany's eastern neighbors with the problem of asylum-seekers and pledged "organizational and financial assistance" in repatriating would-be refugees. The justice minister also expressed support for Poland's recent decision to expel a German neo-Nazi activist. Germany's opposition SPD demanded on 14 December the domestic political compromise on asylum be broadened to include formal agreements with Poland and Czechoslovakia. (Louisa Vinton) BULGARIANS CAN BE CLEARED OF COLLABORATION CHARGES. According to a decree issued by interior minister Yordan Sokolov on 14 December, Bulgarian politicians and top officials are entitled to ask the ministry to clear them of charges of collaboration with the former state security, BTA reports. Sokolov told journalists that each applicant who has been unjustly accused of collaboration will receive a document certifying that the charges are groundless. An investigation will cost 1,000 leva ($45) and will involve checking the files of the former secret police. Acting Prime Minister Filip Dimitrov supports the decree even though he realizes the issue is controversial both from a legal and political point of view, but he explained that he is ready to take the consequences. (Kjell Engelbrekt) IMF REPRESENTATIVES IN HUNGARY. A delegation of the International Monetary Fund led by Gerard Belanger, deputy chairman of the European Section, has started talks at the Ministry of Finance in Budapest, MTI reported on 14 December. They will also hold talks with the Hungarian National Bank on the Hungarian budget and its macroeconomic implications and especially the high budget deficit. Meanwhile, the Financial Times reports that IMF directors met in Washington the same day to consider ways to revoke the membership of the former state of Yugoslavia in a way that would permit applications to the IMF and the World Bank from Slovenia and Croatia to be favorably entertained while at the same time excluding Serbia, which is viewed as the aggressor in the civil war. (Judith Pataki & Charles Trumbull) EC TO STOP GRAIN TO BALTICS IN 1993? Owing to financial difficulties, the European Community may discontinue supplying grain in aid to the Baltic States in 1993, BNS reported on 14 December. In 1992 the EC allocated 45 million ecus for grain aid to the Baltics. Latvian Minister of Agriculture Dainis Gegers said that he would request a fuller explanation of the decision, especially since EC grain deliveries to CIS countries remain unaffected. (Dzintra Bungs) MANITSKI HEADS ESTONIA'S PRIVATIZATION BOARD. On 14 December former foreign minister Jaan Manitski was elected chairman of the supervisory board of the Estonian Privatization Agency. BNS also reported on 14 December that the deadline of 22-December for accepting bids for large enterprises to be privatized has not been extended, despite a change in leadership of the agency. (Dzintra Bungs) OMON LEADER SENTENCED. Baltfax reported on 14 December that a Riga court has sentenced Sergei Parfenov, former deputy commander of OMON forces in the Latvian capital, to four years imprisonment for abuse of power. Actually Parfenov is to serve only two years because of the terms of the applicable laws in Latvia. Russia's ambassador to Latvia, Aleksandr Rannikh, told the press that he does not expect the sentence to impair Latvian-Russian relations, though he still hopes that Parfenov will be returned to Russia, where he lived before he was extradited to Latvia. (Dzintra Bungs) CSCE, RUSSIA, AND THE BALTICS. Baltfax reports that on 14 December the Russian Foreign Minister presented a memorandum to the CSCE foreign ministers' meeting in Stockholm accusing Estonia and Latvia of political, economic, and social discrimination against their Russian populations. The document states that it would be better for Estonia and Latvia not to force the Russians to return to their historic motherland, but to integrate Russians in the native societies while allowing them to preserve their ethnic culture. The same day the CSCE foreign ministers discussed a document entitled "Shaping a New Europe," which includes a recommendation to send a mission to Estonia in order to stimulate integration and better understanding between the Estonian and Russian communities, BNS reports. The mission, to be formed by 15 February 1993, would work in Estonia for six months and would focus in particular on ways to diminish tensions and increase stability in areas where the population consists mostly of Russians and Russian-speakers. Toivo Klaar, Estonian CSCE delegation chief, said that his country welcomes the idea. (Dzintra Bungs) PULLOUT OF NAVAL UNITS FROM LATVIA DISCUSSED. On 12 December Latvian officials met in Riga with Staff Commander of the Russian Baltic Sea Navy Valerii Grishanov to discuss the schedule and other issues related to withdrawing Russian naval units from Latvian territory. Latvian naval commander Gaidis Zeibots said that the Russian side is interested in simplifying the regulations for the entrance of Russian warships into Latvians ports, while the Latvians are concerned primarily with the problems of turning over Russian naval property to Latvia. Although no concrete agreements were reached, the Latvian side termed the meeting as fruitful, BNS reports. (Dzintra Bungs) UNEMPLOYMENT IN ROMANIA. The unemployment rate has reached 9.1%. Rompres reported on 14-December that according to data supplied by the Labor and Unemployment Department, the number of unemployed receiving allowances, together with those who are no longer entitled to an allowance and people registered as unemployed who do not fall under the provisions of the law, now totals 1,013,425. (Michael Shafir) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba & Charles Trumbull
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