|The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion. - Thomas Paine|
No. 9, 15 January 1993
RUSSIA RUSSIAN PARLIAMENTARIANS IN SERBIA. Interfax reported on 14 January that on 15 January a group of Russian opposition parliamentary deputies from the "Russian Unity" bloc would depart for the Former Yugoslavia on a private visit. The group included deputy Ilya Konstantinov, who declined to name other delegation members. Konstantinov said that the delegation would meet with Serbian leaders and consider the "threatening tendency towards the situation in Yugoslavia" posed by NATO's potential military involvement. Konstantinov said "the situation in Yugoslavia will inevitably arouse" a discussion of the policies of Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev and his fitness to remain at his post. Tanjug reported on 13 and 14 January that a group of Russian opposition parliamentarians was already in Belgrade. According to Tanjug, the group had expressed confidence that the Russian parliament would vote on 17-January to lift sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro. Suzanne Crow YELTSIN FAVORS INCLUSION OF VOTE ON LAND REFORM IN APRIL REFERENDUM. President Yeltsin is reported to have expressed his support for the inclusion of the issue of private land ownership in the April 11 referendum on the draft constitution, according to Reuters on 14 January. Prior to the Congress of People's Deputies in December, the "Democratic Russia" movement and other groups had gathered 1.8 million signatures supporting their demand for a referendum on the question of land reform. Congress, however, passed a constitutional amendment on private ownership of land, and decided that the question of land ownership was thereby resolved. The issue remains controversial, with those in favor of a referendum calling the constitutional amendment a half-way measure. Article 12 of the constitution already allowed private ownership of land, but the amendment removes the previous ruling whereby owners of plots could not sell until 10 years after acquiring the land. This applies, however, only to plots used for garden produce and private house construction. The buying and selling of land for commercial purposes is still subject to a five or ten year moratorium. Sheila Marnie CONSTITUTIONAL COURT STARTS HEARINGS ON NATIONAL SALVATION FRONT. The Russian Constitutional Court begins on 15 January hearings on the legality of President Yeltsin's ban of the National Salvation Front, ITAR-TASS reported. In October, Yeltsin banned this organization on the grounds that its founding documents-drawn up by hardline communists and extreme nationalists-called for the overthrow of the constitutional power in Russia. Leaders of the front appealed to the Constitutional Court to investigate whether Yeltsin's ban was legal. Apparently to strengthen his position at the Constitutional Court, Yeltsin issued a decree on 13 January ordering the Russian government and procurator general to take measures against all organizations that violate constitutional order and instigate ethnic or religious strife. Vera Tolz RUSSIAN COAL MINERS THREATEN TO FORM ARMED POLICE UNITS. Concerned by the rise in violent crime in their cities, miners in Russia's two largest coal mining areas-Western Siberia's Kuzbass and the Arctic Vorkuta region-are threatening to set up their own armed police detachments. The Kuzbass miners have already enlisted the support of local Cossacks. Leaders of Russia's Independent Miners' Union have met violent deaths in both regions in recent months, Komsomolskaya pravda reported on 5 January 1993, but the mayor of Vorkuta has said that he will never allow private police to operate in his city. Elizabeth Teague PRICES/PROFITABILITY CONTROLS DECREE PUBLISHED. Two weeks after it was signed by Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, the 31 December decree "On the State Regulation of Prices on Individual Products and Goods" has been published in Rossiiskaya gazeta of 13 January. The title is unfortunate, since apologists have insisted that no state regulation of prices is envisaged, rather only of profits. Meanwhile, after its criticism by Fedorov and Chubais, the decree has now been blasted by Shumeiko. At a news conference on 14 January, reported by Interfax, Shumeiko said that the document "in principle should not have been publicized." He blamed staffers, since it was signed "but not intended for release." Shumeiko disclosed that only part of the third section of the decree (dealing with anti-monopoly law) will be kept; all other clauses will be dropped. Keith Bush RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN TALKS. The Russian and Ukrainian prime ministers met in Moscow on 14 January to discuss a variety of economic issues, CIS and Western agencies reported. They appeared to make some progress towards settling a dispute over oil and gas supplies to Ukraine from Russia and prices. They agreed to meet again next month to discuss establishing what they called a "mini-OPEC," which could entail Ukraine's participation in developing deposits in Russia. Chernomyrdin and Kuchma failed, however, to agree on how to apportion the foreign debt accumulated by the USSR and have reportedly asked Western creditors to help them settle this dispute. That same day, leaders of the Industrialist blocs in Russia and Ukraine appealed to the presidents of their countries to settle their economic differences to prevent further economic deterioration in both countries, Reuters reported. On 15 January the presidents of Russia and Ukraine are meeting in Moscow and the issues of economic and military relations are expected to dominate their talks. Bohdan Nahaylo. RUSSIAN-CHECHEN TALKS ENVISION FUTURE COOPERATION. ITAR-TASS reported on 14 January that the president of the Russian state committee for nationalities policies, Sergei Shakhrai, and the president of the nationalities council of the Russian parliament, Ramazan Abdulatipov, had just finished meeting in Groznyi with high-level Chechen officials to discuss cooperation. Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev did not meet with the Russian delegation. The two sides agreed to establish working groups to prepare an agreement that would regulate relations between Russia and Chechnya. When asked by reporters whether the question of Russian recognition of the Chechen Republic had been discussed at the meeting, Shakhrai said that "the Chechen Republic has already been recognized by the Congress of People's Deputies of Russia through relevant amendments to the Constitution of the R[ussian] F[ederation]." Hal Kosiba SHAFRANIK ADVOCATES FREEING ENERGY PRICES. The newly appointed Russian Minister of Fuel and Energy, Yurii Shafranik, told a news conference in Tyumen on 14 January that energy prices should be freed, Interfax reported. If this had been done at the beginning of 1992, the minister said, "we would not have as many economic problems today." He was cautiously optimistic about oil output: the decline in production was slowing. Future trends depended on whether Russia's finance system is stabilized. Keith Bush KHASBULATOV ATTACKS FEDERAL INFORMATION CENTER. Speaking to a joint session of the two chambers of the Russian parliament on 14 January, parliamentary speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov continued his attacks on the Yeltsin administration. Among other things, he alleged that the recently established Federal Information Center, headed by Mikhail Poltoranin, has put him (Khasbulatov) under "a spy-glass," Interfax reported. The center was created by President Yeltsin at the end of December to supervise government-sponsored media. The move was considered controversial by many conservative and liberal journalists who feared that it was an attempted to limit the freedom of the press in Russia. In his speech, Khasbulatov suggested that the parliament should consider cutting off funding for the information center if it "continues to subject parliamentary leaders to such surveillance." It was not clear, however, whether Khasbulatov really meant that the Information Center was acting as a front for actual surveillance of parliamentary deputies or whether he was merely objecting to the manner in which the Russian government press has been covering stories concerning the Russian parliament. Vera Tolz CIVIC UNION PREPARES FOR CONGRESS. The Civic Union plans to hold a congress at the end of February in order to discuss the bloc's program for 1993 and its position towards the April referendum. At a meeting of the Union leaders on 12 January, one of the participants, Vice President Rutskoi said that President Yeltsin was attentively watching the Civic Union's activities and did not regard it as an antireformist force. Yeltsin also reportedly asked Rutskoi to directly inform him about all the Union's important decision. Giving other details, Kommersant reported on 14 January that Yeltsin wanted to assign a fixed day for regular meetings with the Civic Union representatives on a weekly basis. Vera Tolz GROUP TO INVESTIGATE CORRUPTION IN SECURITY ORGANS. Interfax reported on 14 January that the parliamentary group Army Reform has formed a commission to investigate corruption, embezzlement, and other economic crimes among high ranking officials in the Defense, Internal Affairs, and Security Ministries. The commission will reportedly be headed by deputy Yurii Yudin. Stephen Foye PUBLIC INVESTIGATION OF RUSSIAN SECURITY SERVICES. A group of 25 prominent Russian public figures have established a public committee to investigate past activities and to monitor current operations of the Russian secret services. The committee will propose legislation that would prohibit the acquisition of high-level Russian government positions by people who are currently working or who have worked in the past for the Soviet or Russian secret services, according to an article by former human right activist, Sergei Grigoryants, which appeared in Izvestiya on 12 January. The group includes Aleksandr Yakovlev, Sergei Kovalev, Tatyana Zaslavskaya, Galina Starovoitova, Lev Ponamorev, Gleb Yakunin, Sergei Yushenkov, and Grigorii Pomerants. The group is planning to organize public hearings on connections between the Russian secret service and the Russian Orthodox church, the secret services of Eastern Europe, and newly created businesses and banks. An additional hearing will be devoted to the issue of public and parliamentary control over Russian security and intelligence organizations. Victor Yasmann TRANSCAUCASIA & CENTRAL ASIA TAJIK GOVERNMENT FORCES IN GARM. On 14 January ITAR-TASS quoted a statement by First Deputy Chairman of Tajikistan's Supreme Soviet Abdumadzhid Dostiev that government forces seeking to bring the Garm region east of Dushanbe under their control were there at the request of local inhabitants who had complained of terrorist actions and banditry by anti-government forces. Garm has been one of the main strongholds of the Islamic opposition during the Tajik civil war; a blockade by government forces is reported to have led to an extreme shortage of food in the region. The same day Russian border troops told ITAR-TASS that few Tajik refugees have returned from Afghanistan, though thousands more are expected to return soon. Bess Brown NO SOLUTION TO TAJIK-KYRGYZ BORDER DISPUTE. Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan agreed on 14-January to establish diplomatic relations but delegations of the countries' legislators were unable to devise a solution to the border dispute that has affected relations between the two states since at least 1988, Interfax reported. The dispute, which began between two border villages over water use, led to fighting and several deaths in 1989. Governmental commissions have tried to resolve the quarrel without success. Kyrgyzstan's Supreme Soviet chairman Medetkan Sherimkulov wanted a treaty confirming the inviolability of existing borders but the Tajik delegation was unwilling to agree. Bess Brown CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE WILL BOSNIAN SERBS APPROVE PEACE PLAN? THERE ARE MIXED SIGNALS FROM BOSNIAN SERBS OVER THE LIKELIHOOD THAT THE ASSEMBLY OF THE SELF-PROCLAIMED SERB REPUBLIC OF BOSNIA WILL ENDORSE AN INTERNATIONAL PEACE PLAN ALREADY APPROVED BY BOSNIAN SERB LEADER RADOVAN KARADZIC. Karadzic, however, has vowed to hold on "at all costs" to a corridor across northern Bosnia linking the western part of that republic to Serbia. This Serbian-held corridor is planned include part of a Bosnian Croat province. The prime minister of the "Serb Republic of Bosnia," Vladimir Lukic, says the assembly will never accept the Geneva plan because Serbs will never give up the idea of creating their own state. The EC has given the Bosnian Serbs six days to accept the plan or face punitive measures. Momcilo Krajisnik, president of the assembly, rejected the ultimatum saying blackmail will not effect the assembly's decision, but he did say the plan is "good, wise, and realistic" and hopes it will be accepted. Several influential representatives are also backing the plan, but many from areas won by the Serbs in fighting are sharply critical of it. The 80-member assembly will meet at an undisclosed site early next week. Radios Serbia and Croatia carried the reports. -Milan Andrejevich ZHELEV SUPPORTS MILITARY ACTION IN EX-YUGOSLAVIA. Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev has again expressed support for Western military involvement in former Yugoslavia in order to ensure Serbian compliance with UN resolutions. Speaking in an interview with Reporter 7 on 14 January, Zhelev criticized Western states for having been too passive and said the European Community should have kept a higher profile in the Balkan conflict. Referring to the danger of widening the war, however, he ruled out Bulgarian participation in any future military actions. Zhelev also said he would oppose any proposal to let Turkish troops use Bulgarian territory for an attack against Serbia. -Kjell Engelbrekt IRAQ ACTION WINS GENERAL SUPPORT IN THE REGION. Local and international media are reporting reactions to the UN-backed actions in Iraq. In a statement released on 14 January, Estonia supports the "peace-enforcing action" taken under the UN aegis "to secure peace and stability in the Middle East and to protect the sovereignty and freedom of the Kuwaiti peoples." The statement, released to RFE/RL, says "it is the responsibility of all UN signatories to honor interstate and international treaties and, by virtue of collective action, to enforce those treaties." The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs also issued a statement on the 14th supporting the air strike as did Romania's Foreign Ministry. The latter statement described the bombing of Iraqi positions as a warning and "an unequivocal signal" that the international community is determined not to tolerate violations of UN Security Council resolutions on the Gulf conflict. Hungarian Foreign Ministry spokesman Janos Herman told MTI on the 14th that Hungary agrees with the goals of the limited raids and reiterated Hungary's interest in lasting peace and security in the Gulf region. Reuters reports that senior Ukrainian Foreign Ministry official Viktor Nahaichuk said on 14-January that Ukraine supports all Security Council decisions on Iraq, but added "we believe that the use of military force is an extreme measure to be used only when all chances for a peaceful settlement are exhausted." -RFE/RL RI staff. CONVENTION ON CHEMICAL WEAPONS SIGNED. On 14 January in Paris Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu signed the convention banning chemical weapons and later, in a speech at UNESCO headquarters, stressed that Romania has no chemical weapons and will neither produce nor acquire such weapons in the future. New Bulgarian Prime Minister Lyuben Berov took the occasion of being in Paris for the signing to get acquainted with some of his colleagues. Berov told Bulgarian Radio on 14 January that he regards the convention as an important instrument in the process toward stable peace and security in the post-cold war period. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev signed the convention on the 13th. Poland's Krzysztof Skubiszewski, the Czech Republic's Josef Zieleniec, Estonia's Trivimi Velliste, and Lithuania's Povilas Gylys were also among the foreign ministers who were charter signers of the convention. -RFE/RL RI staff. LITHUANIA TO JOIN COUNCIL OF EUROPE. On 14-January Vygaudas Usackas, counselor in the Lithuanian Embassy in Brussels, told the RFE/RL Lithuanian Service that CE Secretary General Catherine Lalumire had shown Ambassador Adolfas Venckus the report of the CE political committee recommending that Lithuania be admitted as a member. It is planned that the formal accession will be on 14 May. -Saulius Girnius UKRAINIAN DEPUTIES CONTINUE WORKING ON START-1 TREATY. Ukrainian TV reported on 14 January that the parliamentary working group dealing with ratification of the START-1 treaty and signing of the Nonproliferation Treaty has held another meeting. The Ukrainian Supreme Council is due to debate the ratification of START-1 when it reconvenes later this month and after it has dealt with pressing economic issues. That same day, according to ITAR-TASS, Prime Minister Leonid Kuchma told a press conference in Moscow that he is confident that Parliament will eventually ratify the treaty. The Ukrainian leadership, he continued, remains committed to the idea of their country becoming a nonnuclear state. -Bohdan Nahaylo DONETSK COMMUNISTS WORKING TO REVIVE PARTY. A meeting of Communist leaders in Ukraine's Donetsk region has issued a protest against the recent sharp price increases and general approach to economic reform by the central government, Ukrinform-TASS reported on 13 January. One participant, Pyotr Simonenko, Party second secretary in the Donetsk region before the Ukrainian parliament banned the CP in August 1991, told Interfax that he and his colleagues are organizing a conference in Donetsk in the second half of February as part of their efforts to restore the Communist Party of Ukraine. -Bohdan Nahaylo DONBAS LEADERS SPLIT OVER UKRAINE AND CIS. Meanwhile, also in Donetsk, a consultative meeting of the leaders and deputies of the Donetsk region's local councils, and local political and trade union leaders, has revealed a split between those who want Ukraine to integrate more fully into the CIS, and defenders of Ukraine's independence, Ukrainian TV reported on 13 January. -Bohdan Nahaylo BELARUS LEADER AGAINST STRONGER CIS INTEGRATION. Zyanon Pazniak, leader of the Belarusian Popular Front, has come out against Belarus's signing of the proposed CIS charter at the 22 January CIS summit in Minsk. According to Belinform-TASS of 14 January, Pazniak is urging the Belarusian government to concentrate on strengthening Belarus statehood and on cultivating bilateral ties with other CIS members. -Bohdan Nahaylo ANOTHER FIRE AT CHERNOBYL. A second fire within two days has broken out at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant near Kiev, Western and CIS agencies reported on 14 January. Ukrainian officials say that neither fire was serious: they did not affect the reactors and there were no injuries. -Bohdan Nahaylo POLISH PROSECUTOR TO PROBE ACCUSATIONS. Justice Minister Zbigniew Dyka announced on 14-January that the Warsaw prosecutor's office will begin criminal proceedings in connection with allegations that President Lech Walesa's closest aide, Mieczyslaw Wachowski, was and remains a secret police agent. Dyka did not specify what charge would be lodged, or against whom. Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the former presidential chief of staff who is orchestrating a shrill campaign against Walesa, restated his charge that Wachowski completed an internal affairs ministry course in the summer of 1975-despite the fact that several course participants have come forward to dispute his claim. These include Lublin police commissioner Arnold Superczynski, who on 13 January identified himself as the man in the photo (showing four men in soccer outfits) whom Kaczynski asserts is Wachowski. Kaczynski claimed to have other evidence to support his charges, but refused to disclose it until the case goes to court. -Louisa Vinton THIRD DRAFT EVADER SENTENCED IN POLAND. In what appears to be a concerted campaign to reduce draft evasion, a military court in Wroclaw sentenced Radoslaw Jamrozik to a year's imprisonment on 14-January. Jamrozik is the third young Pole to be given a prison sentence for draft evasion in the past three weeks, PAP reports. Jamrozik's request for alternative service on moral and ethical grounds was earlier rejected. The court referred explicitly to the "social impact" of Jamrozik's act in explaining the severity of the sentence. In the two other cases the highest military court revised earlier suspended sentences and ordered convicted draft evaders to serve prison terms. -Louisa Vinton POLISH FERRY CAPSIZES IN BALTIC. A Polish ferry loaded with trucks and rail cars capsized in high winds and heavy seas on 14 January while en route from Swinoujscie to Ystad. Nine survivors were rescued; the remaining 54 people on board are presumed dead. The Polish government set up a special commission to investigate. The high winds were also reported to have caused extensive damage in northern Germany, Lithuania, and Latvia. -Louisa Vinton HARSH WINTER IN MACEDONIA. With a heavy snowfall on the ground and temperatures hovering around -15” C, some Macedonians have begun to experience energy rationing. An RFE/RL correspondent reported that on 11 January, Skopje began a regime in which electricity is blacked out every third day for 10 hours in one of three districts set up for energy regulation. The energy crisis results from a combination of factors including a fuel shortage and lack of financial resources, problems rooted in Greece's objection to the Republic of Macedonia's name and the associated successful lobbying efforts by Athens to block diplomatic recognition by the US and the EC, unseasonably low temperatures, and the need to maintain industrial production to shore up the sagging economy. -Duncan Perry NO COMPROMISE ON GABCIKOVO. Dominik Kocinger, a Slovak government commissioner for the Gabcikovo Hydroelectric Plant project, told journalists after a meeting of Slovak, Hungarian, and European Community experts in Bratislava on 14 January that the views of the Slovakia and Hungary are still at variance. CTK reports Kocinger as saying that Hungarian and Slovak sides have raised different demands with regard to the future of the project. Kocinger also said that "if it does not make sense," the Slovak delegation will not attend the next round of talks, scheduled to take place in Brussels next week. -Jiri Pehe DISMISSED SLOVAK EDITORS LAUNCH NEW PAPER. Former editors of the Slovak state-owned weekly Smena launched a new paper on 14 January. Smena Director Jozef Weiss and Chief Editor Karol Jezik were fired on 4 January in a move that sparked fears that the government wants to curb independent expression, and which prompted protests from the Slovak Journalists Union and a walkout of some 50 editors who joined Jezik in setting up the new newspaper called Sme ("We Are"). The first (weekly) issue appeared on 14 January with a circulation of 115,000. A daily edition is planned to begin 15 January. -Barbara Kroulik. ASEA BROWN BOVERY SETS UP JOINT VENTURE IN CZECH REPUBLIC. The Swiss power engineering giant Asea Brown Bovery has formed a joint venture with the Czech power equipment maker First Brno Engineering (PBS), beating out competing offers from General Electric and Siemens. Under the deal ABB will hold a 67% stake in the venture to be called ABB-PBS. About 4,000 people will be employed. According to agency reports from 7 January, the deal is the second largest privatization project so far, after the acquisition by Volkswagen of the Skoda works. ABB spokesmen said that their company will benefit from PBS's technology in the field of small industrial power plants, a sector in which ABB holds about a 25% world market share. With more that $30 billion in annual revenues, ABB has recently bought several companies in Poland, Hungary, and Romania. -Jan Obrman ROMANIA'S ETHNIC HUNGARIANS HOLD CONGRESS. A three-day congress of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (HDFR) opens on 15-January in Brasov amidst growing concern among Romanian politicians over possible demands for territorial autonomy from the country's large Hungarian minority. Local media report that a radical HDFR wing, which is pressing for autonomy, is likely to take over the party's leadership at the congress. In an interview with Radio Bucharest on 14 January, Geza Domokos, the moderate HDFR chairman, announced his intention to step down. Romanian political leaders are urging the HDFR to show restraint and avoid raising thorny issues like autonomy claims. -Dan Ionescu WITHDRAWAL OF RUSSIAN TROOPS FROM LITHUANIA BEHIND SCHEDULE. On 14 January the National Defense Ministry circulated a report on the withdrawal of Russian troops from Lithuania, BNS reports. Of the 288 units in the republic 61 units (23 land forces, 1 paratroops, 4 air defense, 30 air force, and 3 navy) that were to have been removed in the first stage in accordance with the agreement of 8 September 1992, by 31 December 1992, only 47 were withdrawn. Lithuania has taken over 52 military installations of which the largest were in Vilnius, Ukmerge, Pabrade, and Marijampole. They slowed in October and especially in November while Russia was pressing claims that no separate agreement on handing over military installations had been signed. The process was better coordinated in December. -Saulius Girnius LATVIA COMPLAINS OF ARRIVAL OF ADDITIONAL RUSSIAN TROOPS. The Foreign Ministry sent a note of protest to the Russian Embassy concerning the arrival of Russian troops in Latvia. The Russian army is permitted to bring only personnel necessary for the withdrawal of its troops, BNS and Baltfax reported on 14 January. The same agencies are also reporting a statement by Russian President Boris Yeltsin, as made public by his press secretary, expressing concern about human and property rights of Russians. Latvian deputy Indulis Berzins suggested that the timing of the accusations is related to the upcoming talks on the withdrawal of Russian troops from Latvia, Diena reports on 15-January. -Dzintra Bungs INFLATION UP, PRODUCTION DOWN IN LATVIA. Compared with 1991, industrial production in Latvia dropped in 1992 by 31.5% while consumer prices rose 1051%. Crime rose by 48%. Of the 61,900 law violations registered in 1992, 293 were murders or attempted murders, but most of the crimes were thefts and robberies. In 1992 33,200 persons or about 2.3% of the able work force were registered as unemployed, but 44,300 persons were affected by temporary layoffs and shortened working hours-an indication that the employment problem is more serious than suggested by just the bare unemployment figures. BNS reported the statistics on 13 and 14 January. -Dzintra Bungs VIOLENT CRIME UP IN ESTONIA. During 1992 217 persons were killed and 57 rapes were reported, up from the previous year's figures of 119 and 50, respectively. According to BNS on 6 January, some 41,000 crimes were reported for 1992, up from nearly 32,000 in 1991. The only category of "crime" to decrease was traffic fatalities-only 58 in 1992 as opposed to 153 in 1991. This drop is most likely due to the high price of gasoline in Estonia. -Riina Kionka ESTONIA REPORTS TRADE SURPLUS. The Estonian customs authority on 9 January told BNS that the country had a trade surplus in November of 18.3 million kroons. According to the report, imports reached 541.3 million that month, whereas exports stood at 559.6 million kroons. Estonia's main trading partners in November were Russia, Finland, Sweden, Germany, and Denmark. There are about 12 kroons to a dollar. -Riina Kionka [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba & Charles Trumbull
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