|A man seldom thinks with more earnestness of anything than he does of his dinner. - Samuel Johnson|
No. 3, 07 January 1993
RUSSIA KOZYREV: RUSSIA USING "COVERT VETO" OF FORCE IN BOSNIA. In an interview with Russian TV's "Utro" program on 6-January, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev said that Russia had used a "covert veto" on the question of using an internationally sponsored military force to settle the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. He said that Russia had accomplished this by persistently questioning Western proposals for military intervention in Bosnia and by supporting a continuing process of negotiation among the conflicting sides. As to the lack of clarity surrounding Russia's position on former Yugoslavia, Kozyrev argued that the positions of most politicians around the world are plagued with uncertainty when it comes to the crisis in the former Yugoslavia. Suzanne Crow CHERNOMYRDIN ADDRESSES MOSCOW INDUSTRIALISTS. In what may have been his first major policy statement since taking office, Viktor Chernomyrdin spoke on 5-January to a gathering of Moscow industrialists. To judge from the ITAR-TASS and Interfax accounts, many of his pronouncements were unclear and ambivalent. Among his declared priorities were: halting the fall in output, curbing inflation, promoting privatization (including the use of vouchers to purchase land and housing), eschewing a wage and price freeze, and pressing on with conversion. He committed the government to the preservation of "socially acceptable prices." Yurii Gekht, the head of the "Industrial Union" faction in parliament, declared his "special satisfaction" with the speech which was "everything the industrialists were waiting for." Keith Bush RUSSIAN PROFIT LIMITS EXTENDED. On 5 January, ITAR-TASS carried a summary of a decree signed by Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin that "expanded the mechanism of the state regulation of prices on certain types of goods and products of enterprises that do not belong to the category of monopolists." The decree was said to have taken effect on 1 January. Among the items whose prices would reportedly be regulated were bread, bread and flour products, tea, salt, milk, butter, meat, certain kinds of sausage, baby foods, and ethyl alcohol [sic]. Subsequent reports on 5 January added vodka to the list. The first deputy president of the Russian State Committee on Price Policy was quoted as saying that the decree would stabilize prices. Keith Bush ELABORATION AND CONFUSION ON PROFIT LIMITS NO FULL TEXT OF THE DECREE APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED. Russian and Western agencies reported problems in clarifying the extent and impact of the edict as most officials were on holiday. Interfax on 6 January provided details of the profit ceilings for the relevant consumer goods which ranged from 10% to 50% of prime costs. It also revealed that a 25% profit ceiling had been imposed on a large range of producer goods, including steel, iron, plastics, fabrics, and building materials, and a 50% profit ceiling had been introduced for iron ore, bauxite, and timber. Western agencies on 7 January quoted officials as denying that the decree sought to regulate prices: it was supposedly meant merely to cap profits. Keith Bush RUSSIAN SUBSIDY BILL SOARS. Aleksandr Pochinok, the head of the parliamentary commission for budget, taxes, and prices, told a news conference on 6 January that the total subsidies planned for 1993 in Russia would probably exceed one trillion rubles, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. Bread subsidies alone would cost between 2 and 3 billion rubles a day. It was not clear whether Pochinok had included the additional subsidies arising from the 5 January profit limitation decree. Pochinok expressed the hope that the 1993 budget deficit would not exceed 6-7% of the GNP, but he would not give precise figures because his commission was currently determining the system for calculating the GNP. Keith Bush PRIVATE FARMERS FACE PROBLEMS. Russia's new private farmers are troubled by lack of cash and soaring prices, according to a Reuters report on 5 January. The president of the Association of Russian Farmers is quoted as saying that the that the development of new farms is also being slowed down by the failure of the government to finalize laws on land ownership and mortgage payments. The big collective farms are supposed to be transformed into small private units or into joint stock companies, but collective farm managers are proving reluctant to cede control of the farms. There are now 173,000 private farmers cultivating a total of 7.3 million hectares of land. Most of the new private farms are in the traditional agricultural areas of the Volga and Don regions. Sheila Marnie STRIKE IN RUSSIA'S NORTHERN PITS. The work force of the northern Vorgashorskaya coal mine has been on strike since 4-December, according to Interfax on 6 January. The strike has caused the mine to incur a total of 1.5 billion rubles of damages, including 960 million rubles in lost production. Miners in another northern town, Vorkuta, have now called on all pits in the region to hold a 24-hour strike on 18-January in support of the Vorgahorskaya miners. The strikers are calling for regular payment of wages, and guarantees that wages will be increased regularly to keep pace with inflation. Sheila Marnie RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY: START-2 SERVES RUSSIAN INTERESTS. Russian First Deputy Defense Minister Andrei Kokoshin told Interfax on 6 January that the ministry had tried to visualize the composition of Russia's nuclear forces in the years 2005-2010 when forming its position on the START-2 negotiations. He said that their "optimal" results fell within the ultimate START-2 limits. Kokoshin, the senior civilian in the ministry, had no regrets about giving up the SS-18, calling it a "dangerous magnet inviting a pre-emptive nuclear strike." He noted that the airborne component of strategic forces had been cut sharply in the new treaty, but said that it was most unlikely that Russia could raise the money to meet the ceilings set for it in this area. Doug Clarke RUSSIAN MILITARY LAUDS START-2. Virtually all top Russian defense officials have welcomed the recently signed START-2 strategic arms reduction treaty. The newly appointed Chief of Staff, General Mikhail Kolesnikov, joined the chorus at a 6-January press conference reported by ITAR-TASS. Kolesnikov noted that the Russians had succeeded in getting the Americans to agree to allow the conversion of 90 SS-18 silos, a feature of the new treaty that he estimated would save Russia some two billion rubles. He said that while Russian nuclear forces would not become a "mirror image" of the Americans', he did note that Russia would increase the sea-based component of its strategic forces. Doug Clarke BUT RUSSIAN PARLIAMENTARIANS WARN OF RATIFICATION PROBLEMS. Vyacheslav Bragin, a member of the presidium of the Russian parliament, told ITAR- TASS on 5 January that the ratification of the START-2 treaty "will not be easy." He claimed there were quite a few "conservative-minded" deputies who would do everything in their power to thwart the treaty. Aleksandr Piskunov, the deputy chairman of the parliament's defense and security committee, said that ratification would be "a complex and hard" process. As quoted by Interfax on 5 January, Piskunov hoped that American diplomatic and military witnesses could address the parliamentarians during the hearings. Doug Clarke TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA ALMA-ATA INDUSTRIAL WORKERS WANT RESTORATION OF USSR ECONOMIC RELATIONS. Workers at an Alma-Ata machinery plant, backed by the city's Organization of Communists and other Communist-oriented political groups, have appealed to Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev for the restoration of the economic relationships that existed in the USSR, Interfax reported on 5 January. What the signatories of the appeal apparently want in fact is the restoration of the USSR; they blame the economic decline in the last year on the collapse of the Union. Most of Alma-Ata's industrial workers and most of the members of the pro-Communist groups cited are Russians and other non-Kazakhs. The appeal is indicative of the pressures Nazarbaev faces in trying to maintain ethnic peace in Kazakhstan. Bess Brown UN INTERVENTION IN ABKHAZIA PREMATURE. A UN spokesman told an RFE-RL correspondent on 6-January that the Security Council has not yet taken any action on Georgian State Council chairman Eduard Shevardnadze's request for the deployment of UN peacekeepers in Abkhazia. A spokesman for the Russian mission to the UN quoted Security Council chairman Yoshio Hatano as stating that "the time is not yet ripe" to address the Abkhaz situation. On 6 January the Abkhaz Defense Ministry conceded that an Abkhaz attack on the Georgian-held town of Sukhumi on 5 January had failed, ITAR-TASS reported. Both sides claimed the other had suffered heavy losses in the attack. Liz Fuller AZERBAIJANI GOVERNMENT ACCUSED OF TORTURING OPPOSITION MEMBERS. Opposition figures detained following the anti- government demonstrations in Baku in late December have been subjected to torture and beatings while in custody, Azerbaijani lawyer and human rights activist Avaz Gumbatov told Interfax on 5 January. Liz Fuller TAJIK GOVERNMENT CLAIMS IT CONTROLS MOST OF COUNTRY. The government of Tajikistan is in control of most of the country, a spokesman for Tajikistan's National Security Committee told Interfax on 6 January. Anti-government resistance remains strong only in the Garm, Dzhirgatal and Komsomolabad Raions east of Dushanbe and the government has not determined how to rout the opposition from these areas without causing considerable losses among the population, the spokesman said. ITAR-TASS reported the same day that the city of Rogun and its power plant were in the hands of the Tajik opposition; Russian refugees from there complained of the anti-Russian sentiments of those in control. Bess Brown NEGOTIATIONS ON TAJIK WEAPONS SURRENDER CONTINUE. Interfax reported on 6 January that talks were continuing between government, parliamentary and law enforcement representatives and representatives of the Tajik opposition in the town of Yavan in southern Tajikistan on the surrender of weapons. The Chairman of Tajikistan's National Security Committee told the agency that pro-government groups are also starting to hand in their weapons. He was also reported to have said that the 100,000 refugees gathered on the Afghan border have left the Pyandzh area, but it was unclear where they had gone. Some 20,000 refugees are reported to have assembled in a nature preserve several kilometers from the Afghan border. Bess Brown KYRGYZSTAN SEEKS ENERGY INDEPENDENCE. Kyrgyzstan's President Askar Akaev told energy workers in Bishkek on 6 January that the country is facing a severe energy crisis, Interfax reported, and he would like to see foreign investments concentrated on developing hydroelectric power. At present Kyrgyzstan is selling about a third of its electric power for only 22-25% of world prices, while Turkmenistan is getting 60% of the world price for its natural gas, Akaev complained. Further development of Kyrgyzstan's considerable hydroelectric potential would enable the country to produce 20-billion kilowatt hours by 2000, he said. Bess Brown CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE SLOVAK GOVERNMENT PURGES NEWSPAPER. The editor and director of the state-owned newspaper Smena were fired, deepening fears that press cenorship in Slovakia may be imposed, Reuters reported on 5-January. Editor in Chief Karol Jezik and Director Jozef Weiss were dismissed on 4 January. At a press conference on the 5th Jezik and Weiss rejected government assertions that the changes at Smena, which won a wide readership with its independent reporting, had been prompted by falling profits. They said that Smena made a profit of more than 8 million koruny last year. According to various reports a majority of Smena's editorial staff intends to leave the paper and join Jezik and Weiss in an effort to set up a new independent daily. The Slovak Journalists' Union expressed support for Jezik and Weiss and said in a published statement that "steps such as this are against the principles of democracy and freedom of the press." Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar recently warned that he will not tolerate what he termed "slander of his government" and "distortion of Slovakia's image." In late 1992 the Slovak government initiated a purge of state-run TV, and replaced several leading officials by Meciar loyalists. -Jan Obrman CZECH, SLOVAK NEWS AGENCIES HALT COOPERATION. The Czech news agency CTK and its Slovak counterpart TA SR announced on 5 January that they will immediately halt all cooperation. The Director General of CTK, Tomas Kopriva, said that the two organizations failed to agree on a contract for financial reasons. He said the offer of TA SR for services provided by CTK was far too low. Kopriva also announced that CTK will station eight correspondents in Slovakia to cover Slovak domestic events. -Jan Obrman MECIAR TO EMPHASIZE ARMS PRODUCTION. At a meeting with Slovak military commanders on 5-January, the Slovak prime minister said that he will renew arms production wherever possible to push down the country's unemployment rate, Western agencies reported. Meciar said Slovakia will only produce weapons that have export potential and added that they will not be exported to regions of tension or areas under embargo by the UN. He criticized the defunct Czechoslovak government for cutting arms production. -Jan Obrman INTERNATIONAL MEDIATORS IN BELGRADE. Radio Serbia and international media report that the cochairmen of the Geneva Conference, Cyrus Vance and Lord Owen, concluded talks in Belgrade with Serbian leaders on 6 January. Owen told reporters after a meeting with Serbia's President Slobodan Milosevic that the negotiations have reached a critical stage and are at "an absolutely historic moment," without elaborating. Milosevic said they discussed "not only a simple cease-fire" but "a much more serious approach" to ending the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In New York Bosnia's President Alija Izetbegovic told Reuters that he is not optimistic that the Geneva talks will find a solution to the war and accused the Serbs of being very uncooperative. Milan Andrejevich COSIC ADDRESSES THE NATION. Dobrica Cosic, president of the rump Yugoslavia, warned in a nationally televised address on 6 January that if Serbian leaders do not accept the latest UN-EC Bosnian peace plan, both Bosnian Serbs and Serbia-Montenegro "will be the target of a war and missile attack" by the US and NATO. He added that the UN and the EC want to force the Serbs to accept the plan, but doing so unilaterally "would risk turning Bosnia into a battleground and a place of genocide and jihad." He said the international community has thus taken Serbia- Montenegro "hostage" to put pressure on Bosnian and Croatian Serbs "who are fighting for bare survival," adding that the Serbs are left with a stark choice between "political and military surrender and an attack from the most powerful countries in the world." The Geneva talks are "not very promising," Cosic said, and urged the US, Europe, and Russia to alter their negative policy toward Serbia-Montenegro. -Milan Andrejevich ROMANIAN SHIPS DETAINED BY RUMP YUGOSLAVIA. Bucharest protested the detention of four Romanian ships on the Yugoslav sector of the Danube. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said that Bucharest has requested the "immediate and unconditional release" of the vessels, detained 31 December-3 January. Radio Bucharest quoted the spokesman as saying that Belgrade is apparently acting in retaliation for Romania's enforcement of the UN sanctions against rump Yugoslavia. He added that Romania would ask the UN Security Council to intervene in case the vessels are not freed. The ships were carrying sugar, timber, fuel oil and iron ore. A similar incident took place on 28-November 1992, when the Yugoslav authorities had detained a Romanian tugboat and six barges. They were released on 8-December, following repeated Romanian protests. -Dan Ionescu POLISH GOVERNMENT TO REQUEST "SPECIAL POWERS." Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka told PAP during a break in a cabinet meeting on 5 January that the government plans within a week to ask the Sejm for the right to issue decrees with the force of law. The "little constitution" that took force in December allows the Sejm, in a simple majority vote, to empower the government to issue decrees in all but a few restricted areas. Suchocka said the government will use decrees to enact its five priority programs, including privatization and adaptation to EC requirements. Officials announced that the government's request will be given "urgent" status, forcing the Sejm to take action by March at the latest. The government also intends to give "mass privatization" legislation urgent status. Some of the coalition parties complained that they had no advance notice of the government's plans. -Louisa Vinton POLAND'S DEFICIT SMALLER THAN EXPECTED. The budget deficit for 1992 was 10 trillion zloty ($650-million) less than anticipated, Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 5 January. Finance Minister Jerzy Osiatynski confirmed the same day that Poland closed the year with a deficit of 72 trillion zloty, rather than the 81.5 trillion planned in the amended 1992 budget. Osiatynski said commercial banks are responsible for the lower deficit; the government lacked the cash to make planned expenditures. Revenues were also 3 trillion zloty higher than expected. -Louisa Vinton REFERENDUM FOR EARLY HUNGARIAN NATIONAL ELECTIONS. The Society of People Living below the Minimum Standard has collected more than the 100,000 signatures needed to call a referendum on national elections, MTI reports. In order to emphasize the need for early elections, the society is still collecting signatures. According to the constitution elections are held every four years and are next scheduled for spring 1994. Political parties are divided over the constitutionality of holding a referendum for dismissing Parliament, and the Constitutional Court is expected to rule on the issue soon. -Judith Pataki HUNGARIAN TV AND RADIO PRESIDENTS RESIGN. On 6 January the presidents of Hungary's state-owned radio and TV, Csaba Gombar and Elemer Hankiss, handed in their resignations to President Arpad Goncz, MTI reports. In their letters, Gombar and Hankiss stressed that they want to guarantee the independence of the Hungarian state-owned media, but the ruling parties, yielding to right-wing pressure, made this impossible. Hankiss called for the authorities follow through on a formal reprimand of him for alleged financial irregularities in order to prove that the charges brought against him were unfounded. Goncz said that he understands the reasons motivating the two men's actions, but did not indicate whether he would accept the resignations. Tamas Katona, the political state secretary in the office of the prime minister, denied charges that the government wants to control the two institutions. He said that some agreement should be reached by the political parties over the media law that was recently rejected by parliament and noted that the frequency moratorium should possibly be lifted. -Judith Pataki BULGARIANS STOP CLEARANCE OF COLLABORATION CHARGES. As one of the first actions in his new position, Minister of Internal Affairs Viktor Mihaylov on 4 January halted the review and certification intended to clear politicians and top officials of unfounded charges of collaboration with the former State Security apparatus, BTA reports. The decree, under which prominent Bulgarians could demand a review and, if exonerated, a certificate confirming that they never collaborated, was introduced on 14 December by former Prime Minister Filip Dimitrov. In justifying the move Mihaylov told an RFE/RL correspondent that the decree is unfair since it makes no distinction among various kinds of collaboration, some of which might have been for the good of the nation. New prime minister Lyuben Berov is expected to revoke the decree in its entirety. -Kjell Engelbrekt MORE WESTERN CREDITS FOR LATVIA. IMF has decided to continue extending credit to Latvia based on its economic performance, BNS and Diena reported on 6 January. The most recent loan of $14-million may be used to stabilize the interim currency, the Latvian ruble. Deputy Minister of Finance Uldis Osis said that he expects soon to receive credits worth $100-million from the European Community. An accord to that effect is expected to be signed by the two sides this week. -Dzintra Bungs RUSSIAN STEPS TO TIGHTEN HOLD ON EASTERN MOLDOVA. Addressing the Russian work force of the Kirov military plant in Tiraspol, Lt. Gen. Aleksandr Lebed, commander of Russia's 14th Army, said that Russia will soon open a consular office there which will grant Russian citizenship to local residents desiring it, Basapress reported from Tiraspol on 5 and 6 January. Noting that Moldovans form 40% of the "Dniester republic's" population (and without mentioning the 28% Ukrainians), Lebed claimed that these Moldovans, too, desire access to the Russian Federation. This is feasible, he said, despite the lack of territorial contiguity. He also said that the army and the local authorities will shortly open a military chair to train officers for the Russian army at the University of Tiraspol (recently de-Moldovanized and converted to a Russian institution). -Vladimir Socor LEBED ASSAILS USA. In the same address, Lebed accused the USA of conducting "an imperial policy vis-ˆ-vis Russia and the "Dniester republic," suggested that the dismantled monument to Feliks Dzerzhinsky in Moscow ought to be replaced by one to US President George Bush, and called US Ambassador to Moldova, Mary Pendleton, "a mediocre woman" for having rejected invitations to visit the "Dniester republic." -Vladimir Socor SEVEN CANDIDATES FOR LITHUANIA'S PRESIDENT. At midnight, 5 January, the deadline for the registration of candidates for the presidential elections to be held on 14 February expired. Seven candidates were registered, Radio Lithuania reports. The last registration was that of Remigijus Vilkaitis, a popular comedian. Four candidates, Algirdas Brazauskas, Kazimieras Antanavicius, Kazys Bobelis, and Kazimieras Uoka, hold seats in the Seimas. The other two are Republican Party Chairman Kazimieras Petraitis and Lithuania's ambassador to Washington Stasys Lozoraitis. The seven have to present 20,000 signatures of eligible voters supporting their candidacies by 20 January in order to complete their official registration. -Saulius Girnius LITHUANIA REPAYS FUEL DEBTS TO RUSSIA. On 5 January the Lithuanian government gave 1 billion coupons (Lithuania's provisional currency) to the Energy Ministry to cover part of the 1.6-billion-ruble debt to Russian oil companies, BNS reports. The remainder of the debt will be paid by the Mazeikiai refinery, which has received loans from Lithuanian commercial banks. The Energy Ministry will also pay a significant part of the republic's 8.5 billion ruble debt to the Russian Lentransgaz company either this week or next week. The settling of these debts will allow Lithuania to hold more successful negotiations for oil supplies, but Lithuanian enterprises still owe 15-billion coupons to the state for gas, heating, and electricity. -Saulius Girnius NO RESULTS IN RUSSIAN-ESTONIAN TALKS. The latest round of negotiations on border issues between Estonia and Russia ended in Pskov on 6-January with no results, ITAR-TASS reports. The Estonian side maintains that all border disputes should be settled using the 1920 Tartu Peace Treaty as a legal point of departure, whereas the Russians insist that the January 1991 Russian-Estonian agreement must govern further relations. -Riina Kionka LATVIA, BELARUS REACH BORDER GUARD AGREEMENT. On 4 January in Riga the two sides signed a protocol outlining cooperation between their border guards, BNS reported on 6 January. The protocol includes a provision for both sides to inform the other side within three hours of cases of frontier intruders. Latvia set up border posts soon after it regained its independence and these posts are to be kept, and Belarus intends to establish such posts in March. BNS also reports the detention of the first refugees from Yugoslavia at the Latvian-Russian border. The refugees, traveling on the Moscow-Riga train, were heading for Germany. -Dzintra Bungs BELARUS TV STATION CLOSED. The only commercial television station in Belarus has been closed as of 1 January, an RFE/RL correspondent in Minsk reports. On 28 December the government announced that TV licensing will be reviewed by the end of January, but on 30 December Channel 8 broadcast a Communications Ministry statement that the station would stop operating. On 31 December the three commercial broadcast organizations that subcontract the channel's time aired a joint round-table discussion complaining about the decision. On 6 January RFE/RL correspondents reported that the station went off the air at the request of station employees who objected that some of the material broadcast was of low cultural value and even pornographic and that pirated films were being shown. Channel 8 producers have been asked to submit for governmental review their own plan for programming by the end of January. -Barbara Kroulik & Vera Tolz STRONG OPPOSITION IN UKRAINE TO PROPOSED CIS CHARTER. More prominent Ukrainian politicians and scholars have been voicing their opposition to Ukraine's adhering to the proposed CIS charter, which is due for discussion at the CIS summit on 22 January in Minsk. On 5 January Vyacheslav Chornovil, the leader of Rukh, told Ukrainian Radio that the proposed charter is a "camouflaged variant of a union treaty" that would in effect create a confederation intended to develop into a federation. This view was echoed the next day on Radio Ukraine by scientist Maksym Strikha and economist Veniamin Sikora. Sitrikha stressed that adherence to the provisions of the 23-page document would mean the end of Ukraine's independence and its becoming part of a Russian-dominated confederation. -Bohdan Nahaylo [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba & Charles TrumbullTHE RFE/RL DAILY REPORT IS PRODUCED BY THE RFE/RL RESEARCH INSTITUTE (A DIVISION OF RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, INC.) with the assistance of the RFE/RL News and Current Affairs Division (NCA). The report is available by electronic mail via LISTSERV (RFERL-L@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU), on the Sovset' computer bulletin board, by fax, and by postal mail. For inquiries about specific news items, subscriptions, or additional copies, please contact: in USA: Mr. Jon Lodeesen or Mr. Brian Reed, RFE/RL, Inc., 1201 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC-20036 Telephone: (202) 457-6912 or -6900; fax: (202) 457-6992 or -202-828-8783; Internet: RI-DC@RFERL.ORG or in Europe: Ms. Helga Hofer, Publications Department, RFE/RL Research Institute, Oettingenstrasse 67, 8000 Munich 22; Telephone: (+49 89) 2102-2631 or -2642; fax: (+49 89) 2102-2648, Internet: Pubs@RFERL.ORG 1992, RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. RFE/RL Daily Report
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