|The fool wonders, the wise man asks. - Benjamin Disraeli|
No. 246, 23 December 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT CODIFIES POWER GAINS. The Russian parliament has adopted a law on the government which gives the legislature the right to veto the appointment of the ministers of defense, security, interior and foreign affairs, Interfax reported on 22 December. The head of the parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs and Economic Relations, Evgenii Ambartsumov, indicated that Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev may not be approved by the parliament. The deputies wrote the new law without confirming that the president remains the chief executive power. (Alexander Rahr) CIS SUMMIT IN MINSK POSTPONED; YELTSIN SICK. The CIS summit scheduled for 25-December in Minsk has been postponed because the presidents of Russia and Kazakhstan are ill, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky announced on 22-December, Reuters reported. He also said that a meeting between Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk, which had been planned to take place on the eve of the summit will also be postponed. The summit will most likely be rescheduled for 22-January 1993, the spokesman added. (Bohdan Nahaylo) CHANGES IN THE RUSSIAN CABINET. The Russian Minister for Foreign Economic Trade, Petr Aven, has resigned from the cabinet, ITAR-TASS reported on 22 December. The new prime minister, Viktor Chernomyrdin, is quoted as saying that his consultations with President Yeltsin on the new cabinet are complete and that there will be "no drastic changes." Deputy Prime Ministers Anatolii Chubais, Georgii Khizha, Aleksandr Shokhin, Boris Saltykov and the respective ministers for economics and finance, Andrei Nechaev and Vasill Barchuk, are expected to stay in the cabinet. But several democrats and centrists favor Boris Fedorov, Russia's present representative at the World Bank, to become the new director of economic policy. (Alexander Rahr) UKRAINE ISSUES PACKAGE OF REFORM DECREES. The Ukrainian government issued a set of significant decrees concerning economic reform on 22 December, Reuters reported. One decree apparently liberalizes prices on many commodities left under state control after initial measures in January freed prices of goods and services representing 60- 70% of consumers' expenditures. Deputy Prime Minister Vasyl Yevtukhov said that, beginning early next year, state controls would be limited to goods produced in the metallurgical, chemical and machine-building industries as well as oil, cement, salt, sugar, vegetable oil and eggs. Monopolies would also remain under some price regulation. Two other decrees were issued the same day. One transfers ownership of private plots to those farming them, effective 1 March. The other revises the Ukrainian tax system. (Erik Whitlock) IMPENDING CHANGE IN RUSSIAN MONETARY POLICY DENIED. Several state officials on 22 December were quick to dismiss the previous evening's Izvestiya report of an imminent introduction of a new Russian ruble, recentralization of the banking system and massive new ruble credit issue. Deputy Central Bank chairman, Valerian Kulikov, who was quoted at length in the Izvestiya article, said that "Russia does not intend to introduce its own national currency in the near future," according to ITAR-TASS. Aleksei Ulyukaev, an advisor to Prime Minister Chernomyrdin, told a news conference that he did not foresee any major changes in monetary policy, Reuters reported. Aleksandr Pochinok, chairman of the parliamentary committee on the budget, taxes and prices, told parliament that no monetary reform was envisaged, according to Interfax. (Erik Whitlock) FIGHTING CONTINUES IN TAJIKISTAN. Pro- and anti-Communist forces were still fighting in southern Tajikistan on 22 December, Interfax and Western correspondents reported. Russian border guards stationed in Pyandzh were reported to have given refuge at their base to more than a thousand women and children, and pro-Communist supporters of the Tajik government threatened to attack the base if men from anti-government groups were given refuge there too. The same day Supreme Soviet Chairman Imomali Rakhmonov appealed on Tajik TV to Gorno-Badakhshan, which unilaterally declared itself an autonomous republic earlier in the year, not to destroy the territorial integrity of Tajikistan. Many of the anti-Communist fighters are either from Badakhshan or are of Badakhshani descent. The presence of a pro-Communist government in Dushanbe is likely to reinforce Badakhshani demands for autonomy. (Bess Brown) PAPER NAMES NEW RUSSIAN CHIEF OF STAFF. Rossiiskie vesti on 23 December said that it had learned from "well informed circles" that Col. General Mikhail P. Kolesnikov had been appointed chief of the Russian general staff by Minister of Defense Pavel Grachev. The previous chief of staff, General Viktor Dubynin, died of an illness on 22 November. Kolesnikov headed the Ground Forces staff and was promoted to the General Staff in 1991, where he was reputed to be the chief planner for the Ground Forces. The paper indicated that Grachev might not publicly name Kolesnikov until after his own confirmation in the new cabinet, but said that the appointment had already formally taken place. (Doug Clarke) NORTH KOREA SAYS SOVIET TREATY "INAPPROPRIATE." Radio Moscow on 21-December, quoting ITAR-TASS, said that the North Korean foreign ministry had sent a letter to its Russian counterpart declaring that the 1961 Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance signed by the Soviet Union and the Russian Republic was inappropriate under present circumstances. The broadcast said that a spokesman for the North Korean foreign ministry had pointed out that Russia and North Korea had established trade relations, which included trade involving military equipment, and said that Russian authorities had proposed that such relations be maintained in the future. (Doug Clarke) KOZYREV SAYS START-II TREATY "ALMOST READY." Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev told Interfax on 22 December that a new strategic arms agreement between Russia and the United States was "almost ready" and that a January meeting between Presidents Yeltsin and Bush was "quite probable." Kozyrev said that he had repeatedly spoken with U.S. Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger that day, and that Russian and American experts would "finish work" on the final text in Geneva on 23 December. (Doug Clarke) UKRAINIAN RATIFICATION OF START AT LEAST A MONTH AWAY. According to Interfax on 22 December, the press center of the Ukrainian parliament announced that the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) would not be submitted to the Ukrainian parliament for ratification before late January, 1993. (Doug Clarke) RUBLE EDGES UP. The ruble-dollar exchange rate closed at 415 on the Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange on 22 December, various Russian and Western news agencies reported. The rate at the start of trading was 416. Trade volume was higher than average at $71.03 million. (Erik Whitlock) SOUTH OSSETIA SEEKS RUSSIAN SUPPORT FOR INDEPENDENCE. South Ossetian parliament chairman Torez Kulumbegov is in Moscow seeking Russia's recognition of his region's self-proclaimed independence from Georgia, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Moscow. Kulumbegov said that Russian alone can guarantee stability in the region. In 1990, South Ossetia declared independence from Georgia with the aim of uniting with North Ossetia, which is across the border in Russia. In response to South Ossetia's efforts to secure independence, the Georgian government revoked the region's autonomous status. (Hal Kosiba) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE SERBIAN & MONTENEGRIN ELECTIONS. The latest unofficial results of the presidential elections in Serbia show Slobodan Milosevic with a convincing lead in 114 of the 188-municipalities in Serbia, Kosovo, and Vojvodina. With 63% of the vote counted, Milosevic received 55.9% against Milan Panic's 34.3%. According to Serbia's Institute for Statistics, the complete unofficial results of the presidential election is expected at 15:00 CET on 23-December and of the parliamentary elections on 24 December. Final results are expected on 25-December. In the federal assembly elections the ruling Socialist Party is leading, followed by the Serbian Radical Party, the Democratic Movement of Serbia (DEPOS) and finally the Democratic Party. For Serbia's 250-seat parliament, the SPS is saying it has won 99 seats, the SRS-75, and DEPOS-50. Radio Serbia carried the report on 22 December. Radio Montenegro reports that incumbent president Momir Bulatovic failed to win over 50% of the vote and will have to enter a second round of elections in less than two weeks against Branko Kostic, a former federal vice president. In partial official returns Bulatovic received 42.2% versus Kostic's 23%. In the local, republican, and federal legislative elections, candidates of the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists received the highest number of votes with 42.5%. (Milan Andrejevich) REACTIONS IN BELGRADE. Controversy continues in Belgrade, where the opposition is saying the balloting was rigged and Panic is asking the world not to blame the Serbian people. A DEPOS spokesman told the RFE/RL Research Institute that the grim faces of many Belgrade residents show they are even more confused and uncertain about their future than before the elections. Panic told Tanjug that he had complained all along that the election campaign was unfair. He said he had not been allowed proper access to Belgrade TV. DEPOS leader Vuk Draskovic also denounced the election results, saying Panic and his party won the "real election" and accused Milosevic's party of altering the vote count after the polls closed on 20-December. Panic says he will call for new elections to take place either in 90 day or in mid-May at the latest. (Milan Andrejevich) CENTRAL EUROPEAN FOREIGN MINISTERS IN WASHINGTON. Austrian TV reported on 22 December on the visit to the US capital by the foreign ministers of Austria, Hungary, Poland, and Slovenia. The four met with the outgoing president, but above all with key figures in Congress. The ministers stressed the need to end the war in the former Yugoslavia quickly before it spreads and involves other Balkan countries, and warned that Russia might adopt a more pro-Serbian policy if the war drags on. Discussion topics included enforcing the no-fly zone over Bosnia and setting up safe havens for Bosnian refugees. Elsewhere, the Croatian weekly Globus on 18 December quoted Prof. Mirjana Kasapovic as warning that the growing influx of Muslim refugees could pose a long-term social and political problem for Croatia. "If the Muslims become the Palestinians of Europe," she said, "then Croatia could become Europe's Jordan." (Patrick Moore) MACEDONIAN MEMBERSHIP ON UN AGENDA. Reuters reported on 22 December that in January the Security Council will consider Macedonia's application for membership. Foreign Minister Denko Maleski received assurances to that effect from Japan's ambassador to the UN, who becomes chairman of the Security Council on 1 January. Greece has been blocking EC recognition of Macedonia, but Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, and some other states have made it clear they will not allow Greece to stop them from recognizing Macedonia indefinitely. They consider ending Macedonia's international isolation essential if the conflict is to be prevented from spreading there. Macedonia is already recognized by Russia, Bulgaria, and a few other countries, and has agreed in principle to the deployment of a more than 800-strong UN peace-keeping force, the first instance in the Yugoslav conflict in which such a force would be stationed before hostilities broke out. (Patrick Moore) DISAGREEMENT OVER SLOVAKIA'S FOREIGN POLICY. According to CTK, Michal Kovac, chairman of the Federal Assembly and one of the leaders of the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia, confirmed reports that Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar and Foreign Minister Milan Knazko have disagreed over the course of Slovakia's foreign policy. Kovac played down the reports that conflicts between Meciar and Knazko were serious, saying that the disagreements concern only "the means of conducting foreign policy, not its concept." In an interview with Smena published on 22-December, Knazko said that "it is impossible to have two different foreign policies." In another development, the Slovak government did not approve the so-called concept of Slovak foreign policy prepared mainly by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, arguing that the document is worded too generally. Knazko told reporters that the document will have to be more specific on issues such as Slovak-Russian relationship and the Gabcikovo hydroelectric dam project. He also said that his ministry considers NATO the most important factor of European security and that Slovakia is interested in close contacts with that organization. (Jiri Pehe) DID MECIAR AND CHERNOMYRDIN MEET? The press secretary for Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin told an RFE/RL correspondent in Moscow on 22 December that there is no truth to reports that Chernomyrdin and Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar met recently in Slovakia's Tatra Mountains. The press secretary reacted to reports in Czechoslovak media which quoted Slovak Foreign Minister Milan Knazko as saying on 19-December that Meciar had met with Chernomyrdin in "recent days." A Russian foreign ministry official told the correspondent that Meciar and Chernomyrdin had met last summer and discussed how Slovakia would pay for Russian energy supplies. However, at a press conference in Bratislava on 22-December Knazko said again that Meciar, Slovak Deputy Prime Minister Roman Kovac, and himself met with Chernomyrdin "recently." Knazko said that the meeting was unofficial and suggested that the main topic of the discussion was economic cooperation, saying that reports about discussing military cooperation were "science fiction." (Jiri Pehe) POLISH GOVERNMENT ASSESSES STRIKE SITUATION. On 22 December the government debated the outcome of negotiations with striking miners and railway workers. Ten mines are back at work and 21 are preparing to do so. Railway workers called off a rotating strike. A communique carried by PAP says that a solution to the problems raised by the miners was possible only as part of the restoration program for the mining industry. It pledges to continue "fundamental talks" with the unions but says the strikes make it impossible for the government to sign the Pact on Enterprises at present and regrets that its benefits would not be felt immediately. Industry Minister Waclaw Niewiarowski and Deputy Labor Minister Michal Boni expressed optimism about the outcome of talks so far and Niewiarowski said that the government is prepared to use special powers to speed the restructuring program and hopes that the strike can be called off or suspended at the beginning of January. In letters to the Sejm and government President Lech Walesa warned that even the best programs will not work without public acceptance. (Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka) SOLIDARITY: NO GENERAL STRIKE YET. After an extraordinary meeting of Solidarity's National Commission in Katowice, the union's leadership criticized the government for foot-dragging with regard to the problems of the mining industry and lack of real results in negotiations on restructuring and social guarantees for industrial workers in general. It threatened to "extend" protest actions if the government does not produce positive solutions by 6 January 1993. A more radical motion to call a general strike for that date was voted down. Walesa had sent the Solidarity leadership a letter asking for patience and prudence. While expressing sympathy with the unionists' grievances, Walesa said "We will not solve Poland's problems by striking; we can however damage the economy and the state by sowing chaos and destabilization." (Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka) RUSSIAN DIPLOMAT SEEKS REFUGEE STATUS IN POLAND. Yurii Kozyrev, a former councilor at the Russian embassy in Warsaw, has applied for refugee status in Poland, an official of the Internal Affairs Ministry told PAP on 22 December. He admitted that Kozyrev and his wife were under its protection but refused to reveal any further details. On 18-December a Moscow paper had carried the story of a foiled attempt by Russian officials to take Kozyrev back to Russia against his will. The story was neither confirmed or denied by Polish border guards. The Russian embassy denied that there was any such attempt and said that Kozyrev failed to return his diplomatic passport and leave his official quarters after being dismissed from his post in April 1992 and that he had tried to bring "a large sum of money into Russia." The Polish Foreign Affairs Ministry said it was an internal embassy matter that should not affect good Polish-Russian relations. (Anna Sabbat- Swidlicka) FINAL ATTEMPT TO ESTABLISH VIABLE BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT. In a last-ditch effort, President Zhelyu Zhelev on 22 December asked economist Lyuben Berov to form a new Bulgarian cabinet, BTA reports. A 67-year-old economics professor and an advisor to Zhelev since 1990, Berov was nominated by the Movement for Rights and Freedoms after the party rejected UDF candidate Yordan Sokolov. Leaders of the two other parties in the National Assembly, the Union of Democratic Forces and the Bulgarian Socialist Party, both reacted negatively to Berov's candidacy, but dozens of politicians seem ready to break party ranks and support him. Should Berov's cabinet not gain approval, Zhelev will have to dissolve parliament and call new elections within two months. (Kjell Engelbrekt) EC AND BULGARIA SIGN ASSOCIATION ACCORD. On 22 December Bulgaria initialed an association agreement with the European Community. The accord could come into force within a few weeks, following ratification by Bulgaria and the Ministerial Council of the EC. An EC official told AFP that the association agreements with Bulgaria and Romania were "slightly less favorable" than those with Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia. At the same time, Reuters quoted a foreign ministry spokeswoman that EC negotiators had made some concessions in sensitive areas such as farm products, textiles, wine, and steel. Roughly one-third of Bulgaria's trade is with EC countries. (Kjell Engelbrekt) PROTESTS MAR ROMANIAN REVOLUTION ANNIVERSARY. Hundreds of demonstrators protested against the continued influence of former communists in Romania's political life, Reuters reported from Bucharest on 22 December. An estimated 500-demonstrators shouted and booed as President Ion Iliescu, Premier Nicolae Vacaroiu, and other government officials laid a wreath at Bucharest's University Square to honor those killed in the 1989 uprising against the former regime. Romanian Radio and TV reported on the ceremony, but were silent on the protest demonstration. (Michael Shafir) KING ORDERED TO STAY OUT OF POLITICS DURING ROMANIAN VISIT. According to a communique released by the Foreign Ministry and carried by Rompres on 22 December, during his Christmastime visit in Romania, former king Michael must refrain from politics. The ministry said the king has accepted the condition, but warned that Michael's visa will be revoked if his visit, defined as "private," leads to his involvement in "activities of a political nature, as was the case during his previous visit" last April. (Michael Shafir) ANTALL IS CHOICE AS HDF CHAIRMAN. MTI reports that Prime Minister Jozsef Antall is the overwhelming favorite to be reelected chairman of the ruling Hungarian Democratic Forum at its January 1993 party conference. With some 90% of the grassroots organizations having submitted their nominations, Antall leads with 94% of the votes. Istvan Csurka, the controversial former HDF vice president, garnered only 3%. An HDF spokesman said the party has also rejected to split the responsibilities of party chairman and prime minister. (Karoly Okolicsanyi) SPIROIU: ROMANIAN MILITARY DOCTRINE IS STILL DEFENSIVE. Romania's military doctrine was defensive in nature when the country was a member of the Warsaw Pact and is still so at present, says Minister of National Defense Lt. Gen. Nicolae Spiroiu. In an interview with Azi carried by Rompres on 22 December, Spiroiu said that when the other members of the pact had adopted an offensive military doctrine Romania, had refused to join them; therefore there was no need to make basic changes after Ceausescu's ouster. He added that Romania is studying various Western military models to adapt them to its needs. According to Spiroiu added that local industry is meeting 95% of the army's requirements for equipment. (Michael Shafir) BALTIC WITHDRAWAL SCHEDULE "UP TO BALTIC LEADERS." Col. Gen. Leonid Mayorov, the commander in chief of the Northwestern Group of Forces stationed in the Baltic region, told a Latvian newspaper that the schedule for the withdrawal of his troops would "ultimately depend on the astuteness of the Baltic leaders." His remarks were reported by Baltfax on 22 December. Mayorov said that more the 40% of the forces have been pulled out. He charged that the Baltic leaders are deliberately avoiding signing agreements with Russia on the withdrawal schedule and on the temporary stationing of Russian troops on their territories. (Doug Clarke) LATVIAN PARLIAMENT ELECTION DATE SET. On 22 December the Supreme Council voted to hold elections to the Saeima on 5-6 June, 1993, Baltfax reports. A proposal by the country's agricultural faction to hold the elections on 22-23 May was defeated as were efforts to postpone them until the fall because of expectations that only 60% of the citizens in Riga will have been registered by spring. (Saulius Girnius) ESTONIAN PRIVATIZATION COMPETITION. At 2:00 p.m. on 22 December the deadline passed for placing bids for the privatization of 38 large state enterprises, set on 17 November, BNS reports. The acting director of the Eesti Erastamisettevote Privatization Company, Tarmu Ossip, and German Treuhand representative, Herbert Schmidt, opened a box containing 103 bids that came primarily from Europe, but also from the US and Japan. In 90-days Eesti Erastamisettevote will negotiate with potential buyers and disclose the winners. (Saulius Girnius) CZECHOSLOVAK PRIVATIZATION "A SUCCESS." Federal Deputy Finance Minister Vladimir Rudlovcak told reporters on 22 December that the first wave of the so-called voucher privatization in Czechoslovakia is a success. CTK reports Rudlovcak as saying that during the five rounds of the first wave some 300 million shares in more than 1,400 companies were put on sale and only 21.5 million shares remain unsold. Rudlovcak said 291 firms were able to place all their shares with either individual investors or more than 300 investment funds. About 8.5 million people were eligible to obtain shares in exchange for vouchers which they purchased at discount prices at the beginning of 1992. In November the Czech parliament passed a law providing for the establishment of a computerized stock exchange in January 1993 at which shares purchased during the voucher privatization can be traded. (Jiri Pehe) FOOD RATIONING IN LITHUANIA. In an interview in the weekly Litas Prime Minister Bronislavas Lubys said that he supports the idea of introducing a rationing system for meat and other food products for six months or all of 1993, BNS reported on 22 December. Rationing is needed to ensure that the population will be able to buy food at relatively low prices when anticipated sharp increases in the price of energy will force higher prices. Rationing was introduced during the economic blockade by Russia in the spring of 1990 and still continues for sugar, flour, groats, and salt. Lubys said that salaries frozen in October 1992 will be increased next year by using the state budget. He said it is better to raise salaries and pensions rather than give subsidies. (Saulius Girnius)
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