|We are all apt to believe what the world believes about us. - George Eliot|
No. 248, 29 December 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR CALLS FOR MORE INTEGRATION AT CIS ASSEMBLY MEETING. At a meeting of the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly in St. Petersburg, parliamentary leaders of the seven CIS states which have joined this body adopted in principle accords calling for greater coordination in laws covering constitutional reform, citizenship, the economy and the environment, Russian news agencies reported on 28 December. The chairman of the Russian parliament, Ruslan Khasbulatov, was quoted as calling for the Interparliamentary Assembly to become more effective and for a common development policy to be worked out for the CIS. Among others who urged greater integration were CIS Armed Forces commander Yevgenii Shaposhnikov and the chairman of the St. Petersburg municipal council, Aleksandr Belyaev. The latter pointed out that the CIS "resembles more a committee for the elimination of the former Soviet Union than a powerful stimulus for integration." (Bohdan Nahaylo) SHAPOSHNIKOV WANTS CIS DEFENSIVE ALLIANCE. Marshal Evgenii Shaposhnikov, the commander in chief of the CIS Joint Armed Forces, proposed on 28 December that the CIS set up a defensive military alliance in his remarks to the CIS interparliamentary assembly in St. Petersburg. Interfax quoted him as telling the delegates that "military integration was no infringement on the independence of sovereign states," but rather a vital necessity. Shaposhnikov complained that only six CIS states had signed the collective security system agreement, and only three of these had yet ratified it. He expressed concern about the combat readiness of his forces, and warned that the "process of disintegration" could not be stopped without taking effective measures for the common defense. (Doug Clarke) MOVEMENT FOR DEMOCRATIC REFORMS CALLS FOR CLOSER CIS INTEGRATION. The International Movement for Democratic Reforms held a congress in Moscow on 26-December. Ostankino TV said 86 delegates and 46 observers from Russia and other unidentified countries of the former Soviet Union attended the congress, which adopted an appeal to the people and leaders of the countries of the CIS urging them to stop "fratricidal wars" and to make the defense of human rights their top priority. Congressional delegates said that the main goal of the Movement for Democratic Reforms is the transformation of the CIS "from a mechanism of civilized divorce into a mechanism of consolidation of new states." The movement was set up in Moscow in 1991 by leading Russian reformist politicians, including Aleksandr Yakovlev, Eduard Shevardnadze, Gavriil Popov and Anatolii Sobchak. At the time the movement had a goal that proved unrealistic: the unification of the democratic forces of the entire USSR. (Vera-Tolz) KIEV GRAPPLES WITH ECONOMIC CRISIS. The Ukrainian cabinet of Ministers is meeting on 29-December to discuss further measures to deal with the grave economic crisis in which Ukraine finds itself, Ukrainian Radio reported. Reuters also reported that the Ukrainian parliament has also cut short its winter break and will resume its work in early January. After protests by workers against the recent sharp price increases, Ukrainian cabinet members and parliamentary deputies met on 28 December with workers from the Kiev Arsenal factory and trade union leaders, Ukrainian TV reported. Meanwhile, on 28 December, Interfax reported that Ukraine's deputy foreign trade minister, Leonid Steshenko, and two of his aides have been arrested on corruption charges involving the illegal export of "strategic" goods," including oil. (Bohdan Nahaylo) MOSCOW CONDEMNS MURDER OF RUSSIAN SERVICEMEN IN TAJIKISTAN. The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a strongly worded condemnation of the murder of three servicemen of the Russian 201st Motorized Division that is stationed in Tajikistan, Interfax reported on 28 December. The bodies of the three were found on 26 December near the town of Kofarnihon, a stronghold of the Tajik opposition. The servicemen had been taken hostage by an anti-government group two weeks earlier. According to the report, the three had been shot and their bodies showed signs of torture. Interfax added that retreating Islamic Renaissance Party supporters had killed civilian hostages. In response to the discovery of the three Russians, the same source reported on 26 December, the Tajik government appealed to the officers of the 201st Division not to leave the country as they had earlier threatened to do if Russian servicemen were attacked. (Bess Brown) IMF RELEASES FORECAST FOR FORMER SOVIET UNION. A summary report of the International Monetary Fund on the world's developing and former centrally-planned economies predicts continued, if abated, decline in the region of the former Soviet Union. The report, released on 22 December, shows real gross domestic product in the area falling by 7.6% in 1993 as opposed to the 18.6% decline this year. Although export volume is expected to rise by 17% in 1993, the current account balance will worsen, dropping 20.4% in dollar terms. With regard to Russia, the report was critical of the relaxation of monetary policy in the region, but also cited, as a positive development, hardening budget constraints on enterprises. (Erik Whitlock) RUSSIAN EXPORTS FALL 26%. Citing figures of the Russian Committee for Statistics, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 December that the volume of Russian exports between January and November was 26% lower than the corresponding period in 1991. Although the numbers by themselves were not encouraging, they seemed to support claims that exports have been stabilizing in recent months. The figures for the first half of this year indicate that Russian exports were much worse, down 35% from the corresponding period last year. (Erik Whitlock) DEMOCRATIC RUSSIA TO SUPPORT YELTSIN IN APRIL REFERENDUM. A leader of the Democratic Russia movement, Father Gleb Yakunin, told a press conference in Moscow on 28-December that his organization plans to form a coalition to support President Yeltsin in next April's referendum on a new Russian constitution. Yakunin was quoted by Western and Russian agencies as saying Democratic Russia, in coalition with other pro-democratic movements, intends to launch an campaign in support of a draft constitution favored by Yeltsin. In addition to Democratic Russia, the coalition would certainly include the Republican Party and the Radical Democrats faction in the Russian parliament. Yakunin said he also hoped that the Russian Movement for Democratic Reforms, the New Russia coalition, and the Party for Economic Reforms will join the Democratic Russia in support of Yeltsin. (Vera Tolz) MORE ON RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT AND THE MEDIA. The new Russian Federal Information Center will exercise authority over Ostankino TV, the federal TV company Rossiya, 89 regional TV centers, and the wire services ITAR-TASS and RIA-Novosti, according to the full text of President Yeltsin's decree, published by ITAR-TASS on 27 December. Led by a long-time Yeltsin confidant, Mikhail Poltoranin, the new agency will promote support for the reform process in the media. At the same time, the Ministry of Information, led by another Yeltsin ally, Mikhail Fedotov, will control the licensing of publishers and broadcasters. Although the Russian government this year contributed approximately 100-billion rubles to the mass media, the general public is poorly informed about this governmental support, according to Poltoranin as quoted by ITAR-TASS on 26 December. (Victor Yasmann). NEW INFORMATION MINISTER OUTLINES HIS POLICY. Mikhail Fedotov, new Russian Minister for Information and Mass Media, told journalists on 29-December that the defense of the rights of journalists and mass media against "discrimination, monopolization and interference in the internal life of editorial offices" was the main goal of his ministry. ITAR-TASS reported that when asked about the new Russian Federation Information Center created by President Yeltsin, Fedotov said he saw it as "a consultative-analytical body of the presidential structure" which directs mass media on the president's behalf. Critics have charged that the creation of the Information Center marks a step toward censorship. The charge was rebuffed by the center's head, former information minister, Mikhail Poltoranin, who said on 27 December that the center would in no way infringe on journalists' rights. (Vera Tolz) START TALKS IN GENEVA. Both U.S. Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger and Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev expressed satisfaction with their talks in Geneva on 28-December to finalize START 2. Eagleburger refused to predict whether the treaty would be completed during meetings on 29-December, but a spokesman for the American side said that US President George Bush remained hopeful that the accord could be finished, Russian and Western agencies reported. (Suzanne Crow) RADIOACTIVE WATER LEAKS INTO RESERVOIR. Radioactive water from the Beloyarsk nuclear power station in the East Siberian Altai Krai has polluted the water in the Beloyarsk reservoir, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 December. The agency quoted the Russian State Atomic Supervisory Commission as saying that the water was not polluted severely enough to endanger people living in the area. The commission is investigating the incident. (Vera Tolz) CHINA WANTS RUSSIAN HELP IN BUILDING CARRIERS. Interfax on 23 December quoted a "high-ranking" CIS naval official as saying that China had recently asked for Russian technical assistance in the construction of two Chinese aircraft carriers modeled on the Soviet Kiev-class. The official discounted rumors that the Chinese wanted to buy two such ships, the Minsk and Novorossiisk. Both are in poor condition: Minsk is in the reserve fleet and ready for the scrap yard, while Novorossiisk is soon "to be put on the redundant list." He did say that a delegation of Chinese sailors and shipbuilders had recently visited the Novorossiisk to study its design. Mayak Radio on 25 December reported that the Chinese Foreign Ministry also denied that China was hold talks with Russian on the sale of the two ships. (Doug Clarke) YELTSIN DECREE ON SOCIAL SECURITY FOR MILITARY. Interfax on 28 December announced that President Yeltsin had issued a decree "on measures for the social security of servicemen, ex-servicemen and members of their families." The decree calls for the creation of a new social organization, the "Inter-State Association Legion." It indicates that this association will participate in running new enterprises-apparently privatized "military-technical property" and military plants converted to civilian use-which will benefit those covered by the decree. The Russian government was also tasked to propose a draft law whereby employment in these enterprises could be an alternative to military service. (Doug Clarke) TAJIK ARMS SURRENDER DEADLINE EXTENDED. Chairman of Tajikistan's Supreme Soviet Imomali Rakhmonov has extended the deadline for anti-government forces to surrender their weapons to 4-January, Interfax reported on 28 December, quoting Tajik TV. The original deadline was 28 December, and government officials had threatened reprisals against those who failed to comply. The same day Rakhmonov's deputy told Interfax that only 3,000 small arms had been confiscated so far; official sources estimate the number of unregistered weapons circulating in the country at 18,000, while unofficial sources claim 30-35,000. (Bess Brown) AZERBAIJAN AND IRAN TO BROADEN CONTACTS. An Azerbaijani delegation led by Secretary of State Panakh Guseinov departed for Iran on 28 December to sign agreements broadening relations between Iran and Azerbaijan, an RFE/RL correspondent reported on the same day quoting Interfax. The documents reportedly concern the expansion of trade, economic, scientific, and cultural relations between the two countries. Meanwhile, on the same day, Russia handed turned over to Azerbaijan 19 border posts and a checkpoint on the border with Iran and Turkey as part of an agreement signed last October, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. (Hal Kosiba) RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT CANCELS WARSAW PACT TREATY. The Russian parliament on 23 December ratified the protocol that canceled the 1955 Warsaw Treaty which spawned the Warsaw Treaty Organization or Warsaw Pact. According to Interfax, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vitalii Churkin told the deputies that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) no longer represented the threat it used to be. One hardline deputy, Vladimir Isakov, called on his colleagues not to ratify the protocol, arguing that "sooner or later" the former Pact members would want to cooperate and it would then "be difficult to restore the treaty." (Doug Clarke) NEW RUSSIAN ARMY GROUP TO BE FORMED. Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev has announced that a "new Russian army grouping" would be set up on the basis of the Leningrad Military District. As reported by Baltfax on 27 December, Grachev said that the new organization would combine the best units to be withdrawn from the Baltic states and Germany. The Leningrad Military District would become a "border district" covering the northwest of Russia, and would thus have several "strategically important tasks." (Doug Clarke) RUSSIANS REVEAL COMBAT LOSSES SINCE 1918. The Russian military publishers Voyenizdat have just published a statistical study of all Soviet combat losses from 1918 through 1989. According to Interfax on 28 December, the press service of the Russian Defense Ministry said that this data had previously been regarded as "sensitive" material. The study says that 8,668,400 military personnel-including border guards and interior troops-were killed during the Great Patriotic War. Over 139,100 military personnel lost their lives in combat operations between the two World Wars, including 8,931 in the 1939 campaign against Japan in the Far East, and 126,875 in the Soviet-Finish war of 1939-1940. The study claims that 16,100 Soviet servicemen lost their lives while doing their "internationalist" duty between 1950 and 1989. These included 14,453 killed in Afghanistan. (Doug Clarke) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE BREAK IN THE SARAJEVO SIEGE IN THE OFFING? International media report on 29-December that UN sources have identified a large massing of Bosnian troops to the south of the encircled capital. From another direction, Bosnian and Croatian forces appear to be grouping, prompting speculation that the Bosnians might seek to realize their hope of ending the eight-month siege. Muslim leader Alija Izetbegovic has long called on the Croats to help break the Serbian hold on the town, but has also stressed that the Muslims could do the job themselves if properly armed. This has been a major reason behind his request that the UN arms embargo be lifted on his republic. Meanwhile in Geneva, talks between Muslims and Croats on Bosnia's political future ended without agreement. (Patrick Moore) CANADIAN UN TROOPS REACH MACEDONIA. Reuters said on 28-December that the first troops of what will be a Canadian force of 150 have arrived in Macedonia. They will stay until a larger Scandinavian group comes in mid-February. Other UN personnel have been in Macedonia since 15-December. This will constitute the first case in the Wars of the Yugoslav Succession that peace-keeping troops have been stationed without fighting having broken out. Meanwhile, international media report that Albania has again called on Macedonia to grant full equality to its 20-to-40% Albanian minority as a prerequisite for diplomatic recognition, which Tirana is otherwise eager to extend. Greece, however, is continuing its campaign against international recognition of Macedonia, and the foreign minister has returned to Athens to direct the operation. Macedonia is seeking international backing through the UN after nearly a year of failing to overcome a Greek veto of recognition by the EC. (Patrick Moore) ROMANIAN VOLUNTEERS FIGHTING FOR SERBIA? In an interview broadcast on Radio Bucharest on 28-December National Defense Minister Nicolae Spiroiu denied Romanian officers are fighting as volunteers on Serbia's side. The denial came in the wake of a declaration made in Geneva by Croatian President Franjo Tudjman and reported by AFP and Hungarian Radio. Spiroiu said that there are no Romanian volunteers or Romanian military personnel in Serbia or elsewhere on the territory of former Yugoslavia. (Michael Shafir) PROTEST STRIKE AT INDEPENDENT CROATIAN NEWSPAPER. Western news agencies said on 28-December that employees of the Split daily Slobodna Dalmacija have staged a one-day warning strike in protest against government attempts to control editorial policy. The paper is the only one of Croatia's three main dailies that is not in effect subordinated to the government and the ruling Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ), but the authorities have tried for several months to influence or control editorial policy by setting up a "privatization board" in what really amounts to an attempted takeover. The employees and their editors say they can run and manage the paper themselves, and want to abolish the board. The HDZ-dominated government of President Tudjman controls the broadcast media, the national news agency, and a weekly news magazine. It has forced one independent weekly news magazine out of business and has taken legal measures against two other weekly newspapers. (Patrick Moore) DEVELOPMENTS PRIOR TO THE SPLIT OF CZECHOSLOVAKIA. CTK reports that on 28-December Czechoslovak Foreign Minister Jozef Moravcik, Czech Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec, and Slovak Foreign Minister Milan Knazko signed agreements that will govern the division of Czechoslovakia's fixed and movable assets abroad between the Czech Republic and Slovakia. In another development, Czech authorities have begun building provisional check-points at future border crossings between the Czech Republic and Slovakia. According to Czech Interior Ministry officials, only trucks "suspected of smuggling" will be checked at the border. Passenger cars will be checked randomly. CTK reports Slovak officials as saying that Slovakia will not build similar installations before 1-January 1993. (Jiri Pehe) SLOVAKS ASK FOR CZECH CITIZENSHIP. A CTK report on 26 December said that the Czech Interior Ministry is receiving more than 3,000 applications a day from Slovaks for Czech citizenship. Czechoslovak TV reported earlier that some 30,000 Slovaks have so far applied and that the Czech Interior Ministry is only able to process about 100 applications a day. More than 300,000 Slovaks live on the territory of the Czech Republic. According to the new Czech citizenship law they have until 31 December 1993 to opt for Czech citizenship. (Jan Obrman) END TO POLISH STRIKES IN SIGHT? Talks between representatives of Solidarity and Finance Ministry officials on 28-December brought the first signs of a successful conclusion to the collective dispute over rising living costs in which Solidarity and the government have been involved since August 1992, PAP reports. The government forecasts a 3-4% percent increase in real wages in the production sector in 1993. Agreement would also satisfy some demands of the striking miners and railway workers. Separate talks between lignite miners, employers, and government representatives on 28 December led to initial agreement in several areas, including a framework for restructuring of the industry. Industry Minister Waclaw Niewiarowski was quoted by PAP as saying that if the talks continue as they have begun, the threat of strikes would disappear. Talks between Silesian railway workers and labor ministry officials also resumed on 29-December amid expectations of a successful outcome. (Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka) SKUBISZEWSKI ON NORTH ATLANTIC COOPERATION COUNCIL. Polish Foreign Minister Krzysztof Skubiszewski told reporters on 23-December that the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, which includes foreign ministers of the NATO countries and 15-East European countries, discussed the possibility of involving member states in peace operations under the auspices of the UN and CSCE and that consultations in this respect would be continued. The program adopted by the NACC for next year includes political consultations and practical discussions on such topics as the structure of the armed forces and its adaptation to cooperation with NATO; defense policy, training, and command systems. Military contacts are to be expanded and bilateral contacts will help forge links between NATO and the non-NATO countries. Skubiszewski told PAP that the program suits Poland's needs and hopes for broader cooperation with NATO. (Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka) BEROV PRESENTS MAIN OBJECTIVES. On 28-December Bulgarian prime minister-designate and economics professor Lyuben Berov outlined his views on the overall aims of the government he wants to form. BTA summarized Berov's statement, in which he said that in the economic sector he will concentrate on promoting large-scale privatization, supporting private business, and introducing legislation to regulate bankruptcy and the administration of state-owned companies. He also discussed the need to step up crime-fighting measures, strengthen national security arrangements, and launch an active labor market policy. While the BSP and MRF parliamentary groups said they are generally satisfied with the declaration, the UDF leadership refused even to meet with Berov. At the same time, in a tentative cabinet lineup just made public, the majority of new ministers are UDF legislators, two from the current acting government. Berov, who has said he would go on implementing the UDF platform from the October 1991 elections, promised not to rewrite any of the key laws introduced by the previous UDF government. (Kjell Engelbrekt) ROMANIANS PROTEST HANDLING OF KING'S VISIT. Over 130-Romanian politicians, cultural figures, and scientists signed a protest against the government's handling of the aborted visit of former King Michael to Romania over Christmas. The protest was sent to Rompres and quoted by Radio Bucharest on 28-December. The signatories said the government has "once more displayed antidemocratic behavior," demonstrating "obstacles specific to totalitarian regimes" may also be "encountered on the path to democracy." (Michael Shafir) PROGRESS ON HUNGARIAN REFERENDUM. MTI reports that over 81,000 signatures have been collected so far by the Association of People Living Below Minimum Standards. This ad hoc group is hoping to turn over to the speaker of the parliament 200,000 signatures in January 1993, thereby forcing parliament to call a nationwide referendum on whether or not to dissolve parliament and call for new elections before the next scheduled general elections in March 1994. The group cited falling living standards and general political dissatisfaction as reasons for their drive. Some legal experts, however, question the constitutionality of recalling parliament by referendum. (Karoly Okolicsanyi) RUSSIAN PULLOUT FROM VILNIUS COMPLETED. On 28-December the 107th Motorized Rifle Division of the Russian Army completed its withdrawal from the base in Northern Town in Vilnius, Baltfax reports. The papers officially transferring the base to Lithuania will be signed on 29 December by Russian army officials and Col. Stasys Knezys, the Lithuanian government commissioner for army withdrawal. (Saulius Girnius) NEW DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF LITHUANIAN RADIO & TV. At an extraordinary meeting on 28-December the Seimas by a vote of 68 to 24 with 9-abstentions approved the appointment of Laimonas Tapinas, former film critic and head of the journalism department of Vilnius University, as director-general of Lithuanian Radio and TV, Radio Lithuania reports. The newly appointed board of Lithuanian Radio and TV, headed by former Supreme Council deputy Gediminas Ilgunas, approved the nomination on 27-December. ESTONIAN BANK TO BE AUCTIONED. On 28 December the liquidation commission of the Tartu Commercial Bank announced that the bank's property, including claims, will be sold at an auction on 15-January, BNS reports. The bank is one of three whose operations were suspended on 18-November. On 18 December it was decided to dissolve the bank, which failed due to mismanagement and possible credit fraud. Some bank officials are under investigation. (Saulius Girnius) BULGARIAN CENSUS CONFIRMS LARGE-SCALE EMIGRATION. The first results of the Bulgarian census, held between 4 and 14 December this year, have confirmed a sharp population decrease as a result of large-scale emigration, BTA reports. Released by the National Statistical Institute on 28-December, the aggregate figures for population and housing show that the total population, now standing at 8,472,724, has decreased by 476,000 since 1985. There are 3,061,000 dwellings in the country, and 67.1% of the population live in cities. (Kjell Engelbrekt) BULGARIA RAISES INTEREST RATE. On 1 January Bulgaria's prime interest rate will rise from 41 to 47%, Reuters reported on 28 December. The decision to raise the lending rate was taken by the Bulgarian National Bank, which said the move was motivated by "political instability, a forecast inflation rise, and the lack of an approved 1993 budget law." During 1992 the prime interest rate has hovered between 54-and 41%, while year-on-year inflation was recently estimated at 90%. (Kjell Engelbrekt) DECLINING FOOD CONSUMPTION, RISING UNEMPLOYMENT IN ROMANIA. A study released by the National Statistics Board of Romania, quoted by Rompres on 14-December, shows a steady decline in food consumption. The study, based on a representative sample of working families, shows that average monthly consumption in the first half of 1992 was lower than in the same period in 1991. Romanians eat less fresh meat and meat products, fish and fish products, eggs, sugar, potatoes, and fruit. Consumption among pensioners is even lower than the average. Expenditures on food, on the other hand, grew among wage-earners from 51.6% in 1991 to 56.5% in 1992 and among retired persons from 61.7% to 66.6%. Romania lags behind other former communist countries, such as Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, and Czechoslovakia in food consumption. According to data released on 28 December by the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection and carried by Radio Bucharest and Rompres on the same day, the number of unemployed persons in Romania has risen to 1,043,780-9.4% of the total work force. (Michael Shafir). PLANNED POLISH-PAKISTANI TANK DEAL. Poland's Foreign Economic Relations Ministry confirmed reports that Poland and Pakistan are interested in a contract that would call for the export of 320-Polish T-72 tanks to Pakistan. Quoting a ministry spokeswoman, PAP said on 28 December that the sum of $450-million mentioned in some Pakistani papers would be considered by the Poles as the Pakistanis' starting offer. (Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka) KURDISH REFUGEES IN ESTONIA. The fate of 125-Kurdish refugees who entered the country from Russia and were detained in Parnu and Tallinn on 21-and 22 December remains unsettled, BNS reported on 27 December. Their expulsion was supposed to have taken place on 23 December. The refugees are being held at border guard barracks, where living conditions are described as "abnormal." Only 14 of the Kurds have decided to go to Latvia or Russia, while the rest seek political asylum in Estonia or are requesting to be sent to Sweden. (Saulius Girnius) [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba & Charles Trumbull
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