|Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith. - Christopher Fry|
No. 245, 22 December 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT DEBATES COST OF YUGOSLAV, IRAQI, LIBYAN SANCTIONS. The Russian Supreme Soviet has been holding hearings on the cost to Russia of UN sanctions against the former Yugoslavia, Iraq, and Libya, Interfax reported on 21 December. While the Committee on International Affairs and External Economic Relations has estimated the cost to Russia of sanctions at $15 billion, a representative of the Ministry of External Economic Relations implied that the estimate was inflated. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs defended the decision to impose the sanctions, noting that the step had been taken after diplomatic efforts had failed. The Supreme Soviet has requested that Foreign Minister Kozyrev brief it on measures taken to implement a resolution passed by the parliament last week calling for a more pro-Serbian position. Kozyrev and other Foreign Ministry officials have been highly critical of what they consider the parliament's incompetent and unwarranted interference in foreign policy. (John Lepingwell) TAJIK PRIME MINISTER IN MOSCOW. Tajikistan's Prime Minister Abdumalik Abdullodzhonov was in Moscow on 21 December to discuss economic collaboration with Russian officials, Interfax reported. Abdullodzonov told the agency that he hoped Russian assistance would ease the shortages of bread, fuel and construction materials in Tajikistan. The ravages of the civil war can be overcome, he said, only with help from the large CIS states such as Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine. Abdullodzhonov said that due to the civil war in Tajikistan, 10,000 to 20,000 had died in Tajikistan, there were 60-70,000 Tajik refugees in Afghanistan, and 120,000 Tajik families were homeless. (Bess Brown) UKRAINE AND THE FORTHCOMING CIS SUMMIT. Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksandr Yemets says that the forthcoming CIS summit in Minsk on 25-December should not be in a hurry to deal with political issues, Radio "Mayak" reported on 20 December. Specifically, Yemets downplayed the question of the CIS charter, emphasizing that priority should be given to finding solutions to several outstanding economic questions. Solving economic problems, he said, means solving political problems. (Roman Solchanyk) SHAPOSHNIKOV LOOKS AT CIS AFTER ONE YEAR. Marshal Evgenii Shaposhnikov, the commander in chief of the CIS Joint Armed Forces, met with representatives from the CIS member states in Moscow on 21 December. According to Interfax, there were no delegations from Ukraine, Georgia, Turkmenistan, and Moldova. He complained that the collective security treaty signed by six republics and the agreements on peace-keeping forces "still do not work." Shaposhnikov expressed the view that the CIS leaders would decide at their next summit whether they should create a "strong, viable" association, or continue with the present "amorphous Commonwealth which is busy only with the preparation of conferences and spends the people's money in vain." (Doug Clarke) SHAPOSHNIKOV WORRIES ABOUT STRATEGIC NUCLEAR FORCES. In the same interview, Shaposhnikov also said that the recent inspection of strategic nuclear forces in the three non-Russian republics where they are stationed: Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan, "revealed a trend toward upsetting nuclear security." He blamed the security violations discovered during these inspections on the lack of a mechanism for providing spare parts for these nuclear systems. Shaposhnikov said that this problem would be on the agenda of the next summit. He also expressed the hope that a nuclear weapons agreement between Russia and Ukraine would be concluded at the meeting. (Doug Clarke) WAS RUSSIAN HELICOPTER CRASH IN GEORGIA AN ACCIDENT? On 21 December the press office of Georgian parliament chairman Eduard Shevardnadze issued a statement claiming that the preliminary investigation indicates that the crash of a Russian military helicopter over Abkhazia on 14 December may have been the accidental result of overloading, since the number of passengers aboard and the weight of the cargo significantly exceeded the norm, ITAR-TASS reported. Interfax on 21 December quoted Shevardnadze as calling in a radio broadcast for measures to improve Georgian-Russian relations which have been seriously strained by Russian allegations that Georgia was responsible for shooting down the helicopter. However, Western agencies reported on 21 December that Shevardnadze also said that whatever the cause of the helicopter crash, it had been making an unauthorized flight over Georgian territory, and therefore Georgian forces would have been justified in shooting it down. (Liz Fuller) MANEUVERING BEFORE THE PRESENTATION OF NEW RUSSIAN CABINET. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin is expected to present his cabinet today. So far, he has fired only Ella Pamfilova, Minister for Social Protection, Western news agencies reported on 21-December. President Yeltsin has reportedly not yet accepted Pamfilova's resignation. Pamfilova was known for criticizing the privileges of high-ranking state officials. Meanwhile, the leader of the Democratic Party of Russia, Nikolai Travkin, suggested that the economists Grigorii Yavlinsky and Evgenii Saburov return to the government, Ekho Moskvy reported on 18 December. Travkin stated that he himself wants to replace Valerii Makharadze as Deputy Prime Minister in charge of regional politics and thus responsible for working with local governments throughout Russia. (Alexander Rahr) TRAVKIN'S PARTY SPLITS. The Democratic Party of Russia, led by Nikolai Travkin, split during its recent congress, Ekho Moskvy reported on 19 December. In defiance of Travkin, the St. Petersburg branch of the party favored the economic policy of former Acting Prime Minister Egor Gaidar, and spoke out against cooperation with the centrist Civic Union. Travkin declared at the congress that his party will no longer be part of the opposition; rather, it would support the new government of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. This step caused liberal reformers from the St. Petersburg branch to leave the Democratic Party and seek an alliance with former State Secretary Gennadii Burbulis, who is reportedly working on the creation of a new market-oriented, liberal party. (Alexander Rahr) KHASBULATOV ATTACKS FILATOV. Parliamentary speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov has asked his first deputy, Sergei Filatov, "to stay out of the way," and to delegate his duties to a parliamentary secretary, Interfax reported on 21 December. Khasbulatov accused Filatov-an associate of President Boris Yeltsin-of "working against parliamentary interests." Presidential spokesman Vyacheslav Kostikov issued a statement saying that Khasbulatov had publicly said that Kostikov should be "thrown out and destroyed." Kostikov described Khasbulatov as an politician with the "mindset of a criminal," and warned that such people had succeeded in becoming leaders of Russia in the past. (Alexander Rahr) SHIFT IN RUSSIAN CENTRAL BANK POLICY IMMINENT? Deputy chairman of the Russian Central Bank Valerian Kulikov revealed that a significant shift in credit policy may occur "any day now," according to Izvestiya on 21 December. Kulikov criticized what he termed the excessively passive role of the bank in the past. "Unfortunately everything was decided for the central bank by the International Monetary Fund, and we had to be robots," he said. Kulikov suggested that in the future the Central Bank would be more interventionist, issuing more credits to industry and providing investment capital for commercial banks at very low interest rates. The article, which was summarized by Western news agencies, also cited Finance Minister Vasilii Barchuk as saying that the Central Bank would issue an additional 1-trillion rubles before the end of the year. (Erik Whitlock) RUSSIAN FOREIGN TRADE STATISTICS RELEASED. The volume of Russian foreign trade from January to November was down 22% from the corresponding period last year, according to the Russian Committee on Statistics as reported by Interfax on 21 December. Trade with members of the former Soviet trading bloc fell the farthest, 40%. Trade with industrialized and developing countries declined 17% and 22% respectively. Russia's trade balance at the end of November stood at a $1.7-billion surplus as compared to $7.1 billion at the end of November of last year. Exports dropped 26% overall. Imports were down 17%, with only the value of grain and medical products showing an increase. (Erik Whitlock) RUSSIAN ARREARS TO U.S. BANKS MOUNT. Russia's chronic defaulting on loan payments to U.S. banks continues, Western news agencies reported on 21 December. U.S. Department of Agriculture spokesman Roger Runnigen said that total overdue payments on loans for food commodities have passed $58 million dollars. Last week the total was just over $49 million. The loans are guaranteed by the U.S. government. (Erik Whitlock) ANOTHER BUSH/YELTSIN CONVERSATION ABOUT NUCLEAR WEAPONS. On 21-December U.S. President George Bush and Russian President Boris Yeltsin spoke again by telephone concerning the removal of obstacles to a new treaty making further cuts in the strategic nuclear arsenals of the two sides. Western agencies reported that Bush had initiated the call. A White House official, who did not want to be identified, was quoted as saying that their talk was short but fruitful. "It was another step in the right direction," he said. The official added that it was clear that both sides wanted to have the new treaty-informally called START II-wrapped up prior to 20-January, when President-elect Bill Clinton will be inaugurated. (Doug Clarke) TOUGHER RUSSIAN LAWS AGAINST ARMS EXPORTS, NUCLEAR SMUGGLING. President Yeltsin has proposed changes to the criminal code that would tighten laws concerning the illegal export of weapons, weapons technologies and information, and raw materials for arms industries. Jail sentences of up to five years could be imposed for breaking the law. Illegal export of materials and equipment that could be used to manufacture nuclear weapons or missile systems would carry a jail term of from three to ten years. The amendments to the criminal code appear to be a reaction to requests from the COCOM countries for the CIS states to restrict the sale of arms technologies to unstable areas and to crack down on the smuggling of nuclear materials. (John Lepingwell) RUSSIAN POLICE ARREST URANIUM SMUGGLERS. Interfax on 21 December reported that Russian police had arrested a number of suspects and seized 80 kilograms (176 pounds) of uranium in a raid in the city of Glazov, some 1,000 kilometers east of Moscow. The report said that other arrests had been made in Belarus and Lithuania, with a total of 13 people suspected smugglers being detained. The uranium was said to have come from a processing plant in Udmurtia-where Glazov is located-and was to have been shipped to Poland in the near future. It did not say whether the uranium was enriched or not. (Doug Clarke) UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT CONCLUDES SESSION. The Sixth Session of the Ukrainian parliament closed on 20 December with a speech by Prime Minister Leonid Kuchma, Radio Rossii reported. Kuchma told the deputies that his program outlining the work of the cabinet of ministers will be ready in three weeks. Among other initiatives, the lawmakers formed a temporary parliamentary commission on questions concerning the fight against organized crime. (Roman Solchanyk) DRAFT DEFENSE LAW PRESENTED IN KAZAKHSTAN. Kazakhstan's Minister of Defense, Col. General Sagadat Nurmagambetov, presented a draft law on defense and the armed forces to the country's Supreme Soviet on 21 December, Interfax reported. Nurmagambetov told the agency that Kazakhstan's military doctrine will be purely defensive; its strategic basis is the military tie with Russia as formalized in a treaty between the two states. Interfax learned from other sources that Kazakhstan's armed forces will soon consist of 80-90,000 men. The country can equip them from existing weapons stocks, so will not need to purchase arms for ten years. Kazakhstan's draft budget for 1993 provides for defense expenditures of 76,251,000,000 rubles. (Bess Brown) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE SERBIAN ELECTIONS "SERIOUSLY FLAWED." On 21 and 22 December Serbian and international media report widespread voting irregularities in Serbia's presidential, federal, republic and local legislative elections. Jack Zetkulic, coordinator of the 119 member CSCE monitoring mission, told reporters that the elections are "seriously flawed" and that as many as 5% of those casting votes (most of them opposition supporters) were not registered. With nearly 30% of the vote counted incumbent President Slobodan Milosevic is leading Milan Panic, the federal prime minister, by 56% to 34%. Milosevic leads in districts in Vojvodina and western Serbia were Panic was favored. Panic, the Democratic Movement (DEPOS), and the Democratic Party (DS) have all accused Milosevic and his ruling Socialists (SPS) of cheating and demanded new elections in 90 days under strict international control. SPS spokesman Ivica Dacic replied that Panic has the right to be unhappy about his defeat but added "no country can accept the practice of holding repeated elections until the opposition wins." (Milan Andrejevich) PRELIMINARY LEGISLATIVE RESULTS. The SPS is leading in republican legislative elections, followed by DEPOS. In a surprising development the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS) headed by Vojislav Seselj is receiving about 20% of the vote, much better than the 12% projected in most preelection polls. Though no thorough analysis has been made, the SRS might have received wide support from undecided voters, who, on average, accounted for 25% of the electorate in most polls. Serb refugees from Croatia and Bosnia might also have voted for the SRS in districts where Panic and DEPOS were favorites in the early polls. (Milan Andrejevich) MONTENEGRIN BALLOTING. Radio Montenegro reports on 22 December that, with 30% of the ballots counted, the ruling Democratic Socialist Party (DPS) is leading in legislative elections but may not have won an absolute majority. The Liberal Alliance is a distant second. In the presidential race, incumbent Momir Bulatovic is leading his nearest competitor, Branko Kostic, a former federal vice president and head of the Warriors 91-92 Alliance (a pro-Serb veterans group). Bulatovic is projected to win in the first round of balloting, and the current government of Mile Djukanovic is expected to be returned. Opposition parties campaigned almost exclusively on the issue of declaring Montenegrin independence from rump Yugoslavia. (Milan Andrejevich) INTERNATIONAL REACTION. International media report on 21 December that British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd warned that "Serbia has very little time to reform its policies after the result of the presidential election is known if it is to avoid complete isolation." Dutch Foreign Minister Hans van den Broek told reporters in Brussels that he believes a Milosevic victory would lead to tougher sanctions "unless he changes his policies dramatically, which I don't expect." An RFE/RL correspondent reports from Washington that US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher reiterated that preelection campaigning was unfair. He added that the US is not passing any final judgment on the elections and is comparing notes with other observers. Meanwhile, after four days of talks with Bosnian Serb, Croat, and Muslim leaders Lord Owen told reporters in Sarajevo on 21 December that the framework for the demilitarization of the Bosnian capital has been laid but cautioned that there will "no doubt be many difficulties" before it can be enforced. The UN resumed humanitarian relief flights after suspending deliveries on 1 December following the shooting down of a US cargo plane. Radio Croatia carried this report. (Milan Andrejevich) BUDGET FOR INDEPENDENT SLOVAKIA APPROVED. On 21 December the National Council of the Slovak Republic approved the budget for Slovakia after the Czechoslovak federation ceases to exist on 1 January. Czech and Slovak media report that the balanced budget shows receipts and expenditures amounting to 158 billion koruny. About one third of all expenditures will be spent on labor and welfare. Some 8.2 billion koruny are earmarked for defense and establishment of Slovakia's armed forces. The Press Agency of the Slovak Republic (TA SR) will receive 45 million koruny, Slovak Radio 85 million, and Slovak Television 66-million. A new source of income in the budget is represented by customs fees, so far collected on the federal level; receipts for Slovakia are estimated at some 40 billion koruny. (Jiri Pehe) "VISEGRAD TRIANGLE" TRADE PACT SIGNED. In Cracow on 21 December Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary signed an agreement gradually to start regularizing trade. By the year 2001 all national barriers are to be removed and trade among the signatories will proceed according to the same regulations prevailing in the European Community. The agreement will be adapted to embrace the Czech Republic and Slovakia after they split on 1-January. Meanwhile, after receipt of an honorary degree from Wroclaw University, former Czechoslovak President Vaclav Havel told reporters that close cooperation between Poland and the two new states would benefit the entire region and give all of them a better chance to join the EC. Western agencies carried the stories. (Charles Trumbull) POLISH GOVERNMENT NEGOTIATES WITH STRIKERS... In an attempt to defuse the tense labor situation the Polish government held talks on 21 December with representatives of striking labor forces on several fronts, PAP reported. In Katowice an agreement was reached on the delivery of vital coal supplies to coke producers and steelworks in return for government cash flow guarantees. In Warsaw, after an all-night session in the Industry and Trade Ministry, a "certain rapprochement" was achieved with the Silesian miners' Regional Strike Committee after an initial examination of the miners' demands. These talks are to be continued on 29 December. Striking Silesian railway workers discussed their economic and social demands in the Labor and Social Policy Ministry. Talks will continue today. Deputy Prime Minister Henryk Goryszewski, employers, and Industry Ministry officials met with representatives of steelworkers to discuss the government's restructuring plans and social welfare in the transition period. (Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka) ... BUT LABOR UNREST CONTINUES. The chairman of the miners' Regional Strike Committee, Waclaw Marszewski, told PAP on 21 December that the miners will not be satisfied with "illusory promises" and that the strike will not be called off until specific and firm agreements were made. After the talks he said that the progress achieved is not sufficient to suspend the strike. In the meantime, preparations for a general strike are being made in the Lodz region and by steelworkers. Joining in the fray, the postcommunist OPZZ Labor Alliance announced on 21 December that it is backing out of its decision to sign the Pact on Enterprises that it negotiated with the government, because of "the continuation by the government of social and economic policies unacceptable to the workers." It demanded solution of the problems and talks within one month on social guarantees. (Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka) SEJM VOTES TO CUT PENSIONS FOR DISCREDITED POLICEMEN. The Sejm voted on 19-December to approve a Senate amendment to the Law on Pensions in the Uniformed Services that would deprive certain police and army officials of privileged pension rights. Affected would be all those who violated the law or used repression against democratic opposition activists in the period 1944 to 1989; they would not be entitled to draw pensions based on employment during that period and could draw only the basic lowest pension. The Council of Ministers is to determine the criteria governing such circumstances. The provision was criticized by some deputies as being imprecise and allowing for arbitrary application. Internal Affairs Minister Andrzej Milczanowski said it would destabilize the security forces and thereby harm the interests of the state. (Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka) SLOVAKIA PLANS TO PRIVATIZE GABCIKOVO. Slovakia hopes to persuade foreign investors to buy shares in the controversial Gabcikovo hydroelectric dam project. In an interview with Reuters published on 21 December, Ivan Carnogursky, the general director of the company that built the dam, said that Slovakia is ready to "privatize Gabcikovo." He said the country needs about $230 million to complete the project. In his words, foreign companies will be offered to buy shares "from one to 100-percent." Carnogursky said that Slovakia will not be able to finish the Gabcikovo project without foreign investment. (Jiri Pehe) ANTALL REBUFFS ILIESCU ON SUMMIT. MTI reports that for the third time Hungarian Prime Minister Jozsef Antall has rejected Romanian President Ion Iliescu's suggestion for a personal meeting. Antall said that meeting for meeting's sake would not be productive but urged that ministerial-level meetings continue. (Karoly Okolicsanyi) ROMANIA COMMEMORATES 1989 UPRISING. On 21 December the two chambers of Parliament convened in a solemn joint session to commemorate the third anniversary of the 1989 uprising that put an end to Nicolae Ceausescu's regime in Romania. In a key speech, broadcast by Radio Bucharest, President Ion Iliescu took the opportunity to criticize the way reforms had been carried out in postrevolutionary Romania. He spoke out for continuing reforms in a "coherent manner," but avoiding "excessive politicization" in their implementation. He also insisted that "the state should coordinate the process of reforms," but added that this should not be interpreted as a return to the command economy. (Dan Ionescu) METROPOLIS OF BESSARABIA REACTIVATED. On 19 and 20 December Radio Bucharest reported that the Romanian Orthodox Church has decided to reactivate the Metropolis of Bessarabia, headquartered in Chisinau, which had been abolished by the Soviets after World War II. The decision was taken at the request of a Moldovan delegation headed by Bishop Petru of Balti. The Moldovan Church, previously subordinate to the Russian Orthodox Church, will enjoy autonomy under the canonical jurisdiction of the Romanian Patriarchate. (Dan Ionescu) BULGARIA TO RESTRICT CIS VISITORS. The acting Bulgarian government decided on 21-December to impose travel restrictions on visitors from the Commonwealth of Independent States, BTA and Reuters report. From the beginning of next year, when entering Bulgaria CIS citizens will need a formal invitation from their hosts, a return ticket, and the equivalent of $40 for each day of their planned stay. Exceptions will only be made for business travel and charter tourism. The measure comes less than two weeks before the CIS states are expected to lift visa restrictions for its own citizens, an act which is likely to boost travel. In the eastern parts of Bulgaria, local authorities have recently complained that CIS citizens are responsible for the spread of organized crime and illegal peddling. (Kjell Engelbrekt) KROON WILL NOT BE DEVALUED. Bank of Estonia Vice President Bo Kragh said that the rumors that the kroon will be devalued are unfounded, Baltfax reported on 21 December. The rumors were probably prompted by the bank's decision on 18 December to liquidate the Tartu Commercial Bank and extend a moratorium on two other major commercial banks until 18-January. Kragh noted that the law does not provide for a devaluation of the kroon, which is pegged at one-eighth of the German mark. (Saulius Girnius) ESTONIAN ARMED FORCES HOLD FIRST EXERCISE. The deputy commander of the Estonian General Staff, Col. Raul Luks, reports that the exercises of the Estonian armed forces that began on 19 December are proceeding smoothly. An Estonian newspaper said that they involve 1,000 personnel and 30 armored vehicles, and are the first for the new armed forces. The scenario is to counter aggression from neighboring state "Y," where a totalitarian regime has usurped power. Luks complained that only 500 of the 750 reservists called up for the exercise actually showed up. "We cannot punish the evaders," he said, "yet we will notify their place of work." The maneuvers are to end on 22-December. (Doug Clarke) WITHDRAWAL OF RUSSIAN TROOPS FROM VILNIUS. On 21 December the 107th Motorized Rifle Division, based in the North Town of Vilnius, postponed the deadline for its withdrawal, Radio Lithuania reports. The deadline had been that day, but is now set for 24-December. The reason for the postponement is the lack of trucks needed to transport the troops' equipment. On 29 December the documents officially transferring the territory to the Vilnius authorities should be signed. Even after this withdrawal, the Russian army will still maintain two subdivisions around the capital: a SAM battery at Visoriai and a maintenance unit in Burbiskes. (Saulius Girnius) BRITAIN'S PRINCE CHARLES VISITS PRAGUE. Prince Charles arrived in Prague on 21-December for a three-day visit. According to CTK, he and former Czechoslovak President Vaclav Havel plan to establish the Prague Heritage Fund to protect city's monuments and architecture. The foundation will raise money through cultural events. During his stay in Prague, Charles will also work on a BBC documentary film about Prague, which will be broadcast worldwide next June and be used for fundraising. Charles, traveling without Princess Diana, will also visit southern Bohemia. (Jiri Pehe) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba & Charles Trumbull
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