|Every custom was once an eccentricity; every idea was once an absurdity. - Holbrook Jackson|
No. 4, 08 January 1993
RUSSIA FILATOV APPOINTED YELTSIN'S CHIEF OF STAFF. First Deputy Chairman of the Russian Supreme Soviet Sergei Filatov confirmed on 7 January that he had been appointed chief of staff to President Boris Yeltsin, ITAR-TASS reported. Filatov, a proponent of fundamental democratic reforms, said that Yeltsin wants to "reinforce his circle with democrats." Filatov replaces Yurii Petrov, who has reportedly been criticized for his "insufficiently decisive position" during the December 1992 session of the Congress of People's Deputies, and for his allegedly conservative influence on the president. Keith Bush/Alexander Rahr KOZYREV ON RAPID DEPLOYMENT FORCES. Defending nuclear disarmament in a recent interview, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev said that "the real challenge to our security today lies in regional conflicts." He argued that nuclear weapons were of "absolutely no importance whatsoever" for conflicts such as those in Tajikistan, South Ossetia, Abkhazia, or Moldova. He said Russia should direct its "efforts, attention, resources" to equip rapid deployment forces for use in regional conflicts and peacekeeping. The interview appeared on Russian TV's "Utro" program, 6-January 1993. Suzanne Crow SWEDEN AS EXAMPLE. In the same interview, Kozyrev said that he had recently discussed his ideas on rapid deployment forces while on a visit to Sweden. Sweden, Kozyrev said, is a superpower in its own right with decades of experience in training troops, equipping them, and providing language instruction for involvement in U.N. operations to keep the peace. Kozyrev continued: "That is what we need. This is where we should have become a superpower." Suzanne Crow RUSSIAN COAL INDUSTRY TO BE PRIVATIZED. According to Interfax of 5 January, President Boris Yeltsin signed a decree on 30 December ordering the privatization of the Russian coal industry by 31 March 1993. A total of 54 enterprises are to be sold off, including 19 mining organizations and 17 coal machine-building plants. The government is to confirm a statute on state support for coal enterprises within a two-month period. Keith Bush VOLSKY OPTIMISTIC. The industrialists' leader, Arkadii Volsky, told Moscow TV on 5-January that he has seen the latest IMF appraisals of the Russian economy and that they favor his program over that of former acting prime minister Egor Gaidar. He emphasized that the industrialists found a common language with the new Prime Minister, Viktor Chernomyrdin, during their meeting in Moscow on 5-January. Volsky cited a recent opinion poll which said that 22% of those questioned would vote for the centrist Civic Union in popular elections against only 4% for the democrats and 3% for communists. Volsky stated that he intends to become more involved in political affairs. He also spoke in favor of resurrecting a new common state on the territory of the former Soviet Union. Alexander Rahr OIL EXTRACTION AND EXPORTS DOWN IN 1992. The extraction of oil in the Commonwealth of Independent States (excluding Azerbaijan) in 1992 totalled 409 million tons, down from 515 million tons in 1991. The comparable figures for Russia were 395-(460) million tons. These and other data were supplied by Rosneftegaz to Interfax and Western agencies on 5 January. The preliminary totals of oil exports in 1992 were 71 million tons from the CIS, including about 60 million tons from Russia. It was not stipulated whether these estimates took account of oil shipments made by independent producers or producing regions. Keith Bush TRADE BETWEEN US AND CIS SLOW TO PICK UP. According to officials of the US Trade Representatives Office, only five members of the CIS-Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine-have so far achieved most-favored-nation status with the US. Belarus and Kazakhstan are expected to attain MFN status with the US within the next two months. Trade between the CIS and the US increased by 7.5% in the first nine months of 1992, but it is only possible to identify the destination and source of about half of the exports and imports. Of that portion, 88%, or $855 million, was with Russia, and 9%, $86 million, with Ukraine. Sheila Marnie/ Robert Lyle. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA FUNERAL SERVICES FOR PRIVATIZATION VOUCHERS. A firm in Kurgan is offering funeral services in exchange for privatization vouchers, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 January. For one voucher with a face value of 10,000 rubles, the firm provides a package valued at 20,000 rubles. It includes a monument, a fence around the grave, and the delivery of the coffin. Customers will have to pay extra for the grave and the religious service. Keith Bush STATE OF EMERGENCY IN DUSHANBE. The Chairman of Tajikistan's Supreme Soviet and the country's head of state, Imomali Rakhmonov, imposed a state of emergency and curfew on Dushanbe and nearby raions on 7 January, Radio Dushanbe reported. Similar decrees by earlier governments had been largely ignored. Rakhmonov's decree includes both the pro-government stronghold of Gissar and the opposition stronghold Kofarnikhon and bans demonstrations, strikes, hunger strikes, and sporting events and limits movement of traffic, warning that individuals will be subject to document checks and physical searches. Political parties and other associations will be restricted if they are deemed to endanger the political situation. Bess Brown TAJIK GOVERNMENT TAKES ON BADAKHSHAN. Interfax reported on 7 January that the Tajik authorities have begun confiscating weapons in Gorno-Badakhshan. In early 1992 the Autonomous Oblast in the Pamirs declared itself an Autonomous Republic; its autonomy movement, Lali Badakhshan, was part of the coalition that unseated the Communist regime of former President Rakhmon Nabiev. Pamiris were strong supporters of the democratic-Islamic groups. The Interfax report noted that the Pamiris have ignored the orders of the present government to surrender their weapons. The same day, Tajik head of state Imomali Rakhmonov received a delegation of women from Badakhshan seeking help in overcoming serious food shortages in the region. Bess Brown RESPONSES TO TASHKENT SUMMIT. Russian and Western news media are describing the outcome of the meeting of Central Asian leaders in Tashkent on 3 and 4 January as tantamount to the creation of a Central Asian union. Articles in the 6 January issue of Nezavisimaya gazeta characterized the meeting as practically restoring the pre- revolutionary Turkestan, but noted that this term could not be used because it would offend the Tajiks, although the present Tajik government, heavily dependent on support from Uzbekistan, is less likely to defend Tajik national interests against the country's Turkic neighbors than was the highly nationalistic Tajik anti-Communist and pro-Islamic opposition. The desire of the Central Asian leaders to create a regional association is widely explained by the shortcomings of the CIS. Bess Brown SHEVARDNADZE DENIES HE HAS HAD HEART ATTACK. On 7 January Georgian parliament chairman Eduard Shevardnadze denied reports by Georgian and Western agencies that he had suffered a minor heart attack the previous day, Interfax reported. A spokesman for Shevardnadze claimed that the latter had spent "a normal working day" on 6 January; ITAR-TASS reported that Shevardnadze met on 7 January with the vice-president of the International Sakharov Committee, Hans-Christian Nirskoff. Liz Fuller ELCHIBEY RESPONDS TO YELTSIN/BUSH STATEMENT ON KARABAKH. In an undated response broadcast on 7 January by Radio Baku to the Bush/Yeltsin joint statement of 3-January calling for an immediate end to the bloodshed in Nagorno-Karabakh and the resumption of peace negotiations under the aegis of the CSCE, Azerbaijani president Abulfaz Elchibey reiterated that the sole cause of the conflict is Armenia's aggression against Azerbaijan, and accused the US Congress of discrimination-against Azerbaijan. Elchibey pledged support for any efforts quickly to resolve the confrontation "in a just way and on the basis of international law." Liz Fuller TURKEY, AZERBAIJAN HOLD TALKS ON OIL PIPELINE. On 7 January Azerbaijan's oil minister, Sabit Bagirov, concluded two days of talks in Ankara with officials of the state-run Turkish pipeline company Botas on the feasibility of transporting Azerbaijani oil to the Mediterranean via Turkey, AFP reported. Representatives of Amoco and British Petroleum, which have signed contracts to develop Azerbaijan's offshore oil deposits, also participated in the talks. Liz Fuller KAZAKHSTAN STARTS TO MINT OWN MONEY. Kazakhstan began minting its own coins on 1 January, Interfax reported on 6 January. An independent daily in Alma-Ata was quoted as saying that a single German machine in a metallurgical plant in East Kazakhstan is turning out 750 coins per minute. Bess Brown CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN SERBS WILL NOT ALTER NEGOTIATING POSITIONS. Radovan Karadzic said in a message televised on Belgrade TV for Orthodox Christmas that Bosnian Serbs are sticking to their negotiating positions while leaving the door open for flexibility at the stalled Geneva peace talks expected to resume in a few days. Karadzic called on "Serbs not to worry about the way the Geneva negotiations are going." He added "The essential thing is the result . . . the one the Serbian people want . . . of freedom and independence." In the latest issue of the independent Croatian weekly Globus, Karadzic said that Bosnian Serbs have the right to self-defense and warned, "it is not difficult to procure nuclear weapons on the open market." In the same issue of the Zagreb weekly Lord Owen, cochairman of the Geneva conference, stated that all problems in Bosnia-Herzegovina seem to him solvable "except the Serb demand for their own republic in Bosnia-Herzegovina," which would in fact be a state within a state. There is no way this could fit into our peace plan, Owen said. -Milan Andrejevich SESELJ BLASTS COSIC. Vojislav Seselj, leader of the Serbian Radical Party, Serbia's second largest political party, stated in an interview on Belgrade TV on 7-January that he was astounded by federal President Dobrica Cosic's televised 6 January speech. Cosic stated that if the Serbs do not accept the latest UN-EC Bosnian peace plan, both Bosnian Serbs and Serbia-Montenegro could be the target of US and NATO attacks. He described Cosic's speech as "fatalistic" and "dishonorable," because it conveyed a feeling of capitulation onto the people. Seselj suggested "Panicky statesmen should step aside and leave state business to level-headed leaders who can boldly face all danger." Cosic, he alleged, is dissatisfied with the results of last month's elections, he continued, and blames them on popular ignorance. Seselj concluded that the Federal Assembly, which his party and the Socialists dominate, had made a mistake in electing Cosic as President in June and recommended that "the best thing would be for Cosic to return to his books." -Milan Andrejevich SERBIAN PATRIARCH DENOUNCES WAR. In a grim, emotional message marking Orthodox Christmas on 7-January, Serbian Patriarch Pavle spoke of the suffering inflicted by the wars in Croatia and Bosnia and said Serbs are feeling ashamed as they celebrate their Christmas Day. Pavle told his congregation, "We as religious people, as Christians, know that a Godless person is he who does evil and acts inhumanely regardless of what uniform he is wearing. Our surroundings are polluted with gun smoke; the smell of blood, the still unfound and unburied bones on the fronts cry out to us. There is not enough black cloth to mourn the dead." While lip service is paid to humane principles, people still believe there is more benefit to their own nation through evil than through good, that their nation has the right to defend itself with cruelty and crime, Pavle said. Radio Serbia carried the report. -Milan Andrejevich MACEDONIA AND THE UN. Kiro Gligorov, president of the Republic of Macedonia, announced on 7 January that he is initiating a formal application for his country's admission to the UN, Reuters reports. The effort comes more than a year after the Republic of Macedonia was established and is in part intended to gain broad international recognition, which has been blocked by Greece. Athens demands that the republic drop the word Macedonia from its official name. In a related matter, more than 150 Canadian UNPROFOR troops arrived in Macedonia on 7 January. They are intended as a deterrent to expansion into Macedonia of the war in the former Yugoslavia. -Duncan Perry MACEDONIA RECEIVES LOAN FROM SOROS. Hungarian-born American financier and philanthropist George Soros will lend the Republic of Macedonia $25-million to aid in purchasing fuel and other supplies essential for surviving the winter. He announced the loan on 5 January, according to Soros Foundation sources and Western media. Soros is seeking to draw international attention to what he called "the critical and dangerous situation in Macedonia today," a reference to deteriorating economic conditions and the resultant growing potential for civil disorder. He called for immediate international recognition of Macedonia. In addition to other philanthropic activity in Eastern Europe, Soros has donated $50 million to aid the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina and $100 million for preserving basic science in Russia. -Duncan Perry RUMP YUGOSLAVIA RELEASES ROMANIAN SHIPS. On 7 January the authorities in Belgrade released 4-Romanian tugboats and 18 barges that were detained along with their crews last week. Western agencies quoted a spokesman for the Romanian Foreign Ministry as saying that the detentions are thought to be a Yugoslav retaliation for Romania's enforcement of the UN trade embargo against rump Yugoslavia. He described the release of the vessels as "a good sign," but added that nobody could "anticipate Yugoslavia's next move." Also on 7-January Rompres reported that Serbian authorities have detained another Romanian ship at the Danube port of Novi Sad, claiming the river was too frozen at that point to permit further passage. No further details or official comment were available. -Dan Ionescu SEJM VOTES ABORTION BAN. By a vote of 213 to 171-with 29 abstentions, the Polish parliament on 7-January approved a bill banning virtually all abortions. Although far more restrictive than the European norm, the bill allows exceptions not contained in the original draft, which permitted abortion only to save a pregnant woman's life. Amendments were approved to legalize abortion in cases of rape or incest (when documented by a prosecutor); when the pregnant woman's health is threatened (as certified by two physicians); or if the fetus has incurable genetic defects. All penalties were removed for women who induce abortion themselves. Doctors who perform abortions still face prison terms of two years. Other amendments mandated sex education and ready access to contraceptives. The Sejm rejected a motion to hold a national referendum on abortion, although nearly a million citizens have signed petitions demanding one. The bill now goes to the Senate, which is expected to restore most of its original provisions. -Louisa Vinton SOLIDARITY, GOVERNMENT END COST-OF-LIVING DISPUTE. Labor Minister Jacek Kuron and Solidarity Chairman Marian Krzaklewski signed an agreement on 5 January closing talks on compensation for cost-of-living increases. The union had opened the conflict in August. Solidarity won a guarantee of increased real wages in industry in 1993, provided growth in GDP continues. The government secured the union's agreement to limit consumption growth to half the rate of GDP growth, in order to allow for increased spending on investment. Solidarity's national leadership gave the agreement conditional approval on 7-January. Coming in the wake of Solidarity's negotiated conclusion of the recent general strike in mining, the agreement confirms the union's preeminent position on the Polish labor scene and reinforces its image as a conciliatory negotiating partner for the government. -Louisa Vinton WALESA SETS UP ECONOMIC COUNCIL. A presidential advisory "council on economic growth" met for the first time on 5 January to begin deliberations on a long-term economic strategy for Poland, PAP reported. President Lech Walesa said the council will not meddle in the government's day-to-day policy decisions, but will rather concentrate on his idea of a "master plan." Walesa's chief economic adviser, former Finance Minister Andrzej Olechowski, said that the president's five-year term of office predestined him to formulate Poland's "economic constitution." The council, whose membership is open, includes 29-prominent business leaders and 18 economic experts, including former Deputy Prime Minister Leszek Balcerowicz. In an unrelated development, Walesa's press spokesman dismissed as "inferior science fiction" charges that the president had attempted to purchase nuclear arms from Ukraine and that his closest aide had completed a course for secret police officers. The charges were made by former officials, now fallen from grace, who are renowned for sensationalistic accusations. -Louisa Vinton LITHUANIAN PRIME MINISTER IN POLAND. Polish Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka met with her Lithuanian counterpart, Bronislavas Lubys, in a monastery near Suwalki on 7-January. The discussion focused on economic and trade issues. The two prime ministers agreed to set up a joint commission to begin work on a Polish-Lithuanian free-trade zone. Poland also offered 2,000 tons of fuel oil to help with heating shortages, PAP reports. Suchocka announced that Poland will submit a draft of a bilateral treaty to Lithuania within ten days. Although the two countries signed a cooperation declaration in January 1992, friction over the position of the Polish minority in Lithuania has so far impeded the conclusion of a full treaty. -Louisa Vinton ROMANIA'S FORMER RULING PARTY FORMS SHADOW CABINET. The National Salvation Front announced on 7 September that it has formed a shadow cabinet to offer an alternative government and to fight the economic crisis facing the country. NSF leader Petre Roman said at a press conference that the move, which he described as "a novelty" for Romania, is "not directed at undermining the authority" of the current cabinet, which is dominated by the rival Democratic National Salvation Front. He attacked it, however, for "failing to tackle the country's major issues and for favoring a slower pace of reforms." The members of the shadow cabinet are NSF politicians who held senior jobs in Roman's former cabinet, which was ousted in a wave of street violence in September 1991. -Dan Ionescu SLOVAK DEPUTIES ON OFFICIAL VISIT TO PRAGUE. A delegation of the National Council of the Slovak Republic, headed by its Chairman Ivan Gasparovic, paid an official visit to Prague on 7 January, agencies report. The visit is the first of its kind since the disintegration of Czechoslovakia. Representatives of the Czech and Slovak parliaments stressed that the legislators from both countries will cooperate closely in the future. CTK reported that the leaders of the Czech and Slovak parliaments agreed to set up joint commissions to oversee compliance with the bilateral agreements signed between the two republican parliaments before the split. Both sides concluded after the talks that the meeting was held in a "very friendly atmosphere." -Jan Obrman CZECH REPUBLIC BEGINS STAMPING BANK NOTES. Special stamps are being placed on millions of bank notes to prepare for a possible early monetary split between the independent Czech and Slovak states, agencies reported on 7 January. Czech National Bank spokesman Martin Svehla said in an interview with CTK that bank notes worth 20 to 30 billion koruny are currently being stamped and will be stockpiled until they are needed. It was also reported by Czech media that new bank notes are being printed but that it might take several months before they are available. Before 31-December the two republican governments agreed to maintain a common currency for the time being, without determining a date for the introduction of separate currencies. Czech officials called on the republic's population to withdraw as little money as possible from their accounts to make the transition smooth. Slovakia has also initiated the first steps toward a monetary split. -Jan Obrman COMMERCIAL BANK PRESIDENT SACKED IN ESTONIA. The commission charged with liquidating the Tartu Commercial Bank sacked that bank's president on 7 January, BNS reports. The commission relieved Rein Kaarepere of his duties, and also fired Mart Mikker, manager of the bank's Haapsalu branch. Mikker simultaneously served as CEO of another bank, the Bank of Tallinn. -Riina Kionka ESTONIAN HARD CURRENCY RESERVES GROW. The Estonian Central Bank reports an increase of some 157 million kroon (about $12 million) in hard currency reserves in December. According to BNS of 7 January, hard currency reserves have increased by 1.3-billion kroon since the currency reform in June. -Riina Kionka BANK OF LATVIA TO REORGANIZE. BNS reported on 7 January that the Supreme Council Presidium has endorsed regulations governing the reorganization committee of the Bank of Latvia. The committee will oversee the privatization process of the bank. Since mid-1992 the bank has suffered losses of several billion Latvian rubles in its dealings with the ruble-based CIS states, while making a profit from purchasing and selling operations of foreign currency. -Dzintra Bungs VAGNORIUS CRITICIZES MONEY DEVALUATION. On 6 January at a news briefing at the Seimas former Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius deplored the devaluation of the coupon (Lithuania's provisional money), whose value with respect to the dollar had decreased by about 50% between 30 October and 30 December, BNS reported on 7 January. He accused the Bank of Lithuania of issuing six billion coupons in December without consulting the government and the Seimas. Bank president Vilius Baldisis told the Seimas on 5 January that the coupons had been issued after coordination with IMF experts and in accordance with the principles of the Lithuanian economic policy memorandum that the IMF had approved. -Saulius Girnius COUNTERFEIT COUPONS IN LITHUANIA. Baltfax reported on 7 January that Lithuania has been inundated with counterfeit coupons, especially of the 500-unit value (the largest sum issued). It is difficult to distinguish the counterfeit bills from the real ones since they are produced by the same offset method and differ only by the absence of a watermark. -Saulius Girnius LITHUANIAN GOVERNMENT ADVISOR ON CATHOLIC CHURCH. Cardinal Vincentas Sladkevicius has suggested former head of the Lithuanian Security Service Petras Plumpa for the post of government advisor on problems of the Catholic Church, BNS reported on 7-January. Prime Minister Bronislavas Lubys had previously asked the Lithuanian Conference of Bishops to nominate a candidate. Plumpa was an active dissident and was imprisoned in 1973-81 for duplicating the underground publication, Chronicle of the Lithuanian Catholic Church. The Seimas has named former Supreme Council deputy Jurgis Jurgelis as director-general of the Lithuanian Security Service. -Saulius Girnius LATVIA CONFISCATES EX-SOVIET NAVAL VESSEL. Baltfax on 7 January reported that Latvian customs officials that day confiscated the former Soviet spy ship Zond for illegally entering Latvian territorial waters in mid-December. Zond is a 700-ton converted trawler used as an intelligence collection ship by the Soviet Navy. It was built in East Germany in the 1960s. In November the Latvians accused Russia of using the naval base in Bolderaja as a trading port without paying the proper taxes. Zond anchored at the base on 14-December. On 28 December BNS reported that the chief of staff of the Russian Baltic Fleet denied that the ship belongs to the Baltic Fleet. -Doug Clarke US UNDERLINES PRIORITIES WITH UKRAINE. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher indicated that American officials told visiting Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Tarasyuk that Ukraine must ratify the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and join the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) before security assurances and financial aid can be discussed. Boucher's 7 January press briefing was reported by Western agencies. Tarasyuk is in Washington to explain Ukraine's position on nuclear disarmament. He is expected to meet President George Bush on 8 January. In a statement issued by the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington and quoted by Reuters, Tarasyuk said that "Ukraine continues to receive only negative impulses from the West, pushing it to accede to the NPT and scrap nuclear weapons instead of getting real assistance in nuclear disarmament." -Doug Clarke CHRISTMAS CELEBRATIONS IN UKRAINE. For the second year running, Christmas (marked on 7 January according to the Julian calendar) was a public holiday in Ukraine and the Ukrainian media, especially television, have helped to create a seasonal spirit. Observers point out, however, that the celebrations are overshadowed by the deep economic crisis in which Ukraine finds itself and the bitter split between Ukrainian Orthodox believers into two camps: supporters of an independent Ukrainian church and those who have remained loyal to the Moscow Patriarchate. -Bohdan Nahaylo UKRAINIAN ATTITUDES TOWARD THE FORMER SOVIET UNION AND CIS. The results of two opinion polls published in Kiev on 6 January and reported by Reuters show that many Ukrainians regret the collapse of the Soviet Union because of the economic hardship it has brought but nevertheless strongly oppose the restoration of the USSR. According to a survey taken by the Kiev International Sociological Center, 52% of respondents view the collapse of the Soviet Union as a "great tragedy"; most singled out the steep price rises in Ukraine during 1992 as the main reason for thinking so. On the other hand, according to a poll carried out by the Russian-language former Communist Party daily, Pravda Ukrainy, only 5.9% of those questioned want to see the Soviet Union revived. Just over one fifth, 22.3%, want Ukraine to withdraw from the CIS. Furthermore, on 7-January, Ukrainian TV reported that the latest opinion polls show strong support for for an acceleration of economic and political reform and for Ukraine's withdrawal from the CIS.-Bohdan Nahaylo SNEGUR ON MOLDOVAN INDEPENDENCE. Snegur told Molodezh Moldovy of 7 January, as cited by Basapress, that recent statements by Romanian officials pressing for Romanian-Moldovan unification prompted him to suggest that the issue be put to a referendum (which antiunification forces are expected to win heavily). Snegur singled out for criticism the latest in the series of those statements, one made by Romania's intelligence chief Virgil Magureanu, who was quoted as saying that his service "is doing everything" for unification. Snegur urged all politicians to keep in closer touch with the people of Moldova and ascertain its views on the matter. -Vladimir Socor BELARUSIAN DELEGATION VISITS CHINA. On 8-January Parliament Chairman Stanislau Shushkevich, began a five-day visit to China, Belinform and TASS report. He is accompanied by the Foreign Minister Pyotr Krauchenka The purpose of the trip is to discuss ways of broadening bilateral ties and cooperation. -Bohdan Nahaylo [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Keith Bush and Charles Trumbull
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.