|The absence of alternatives clears the mind marvelously. - Henry Kissinger|
No. 12, 20 January 1993
RUSSIA SHAPOSHNIKOV ON NUCLEAR WEAPONS TALKS, CIS ARMED FORCES. The Commander in Chief of the CIS Joint Armed Forces, Marshal Evgenii Shaposhnikov, told reporters on 19-January that Presidents Leonid Kravchuk and Boris Yeltsin had, at their recent meeting, found the keys to resolving disagreements between the two sides over the disposition of nuclear weapons still deployed in Ukraine. According to reports by Interfax and Russian Radio ("Mayak"), Shaposhnikov also linked the fate of the CIS armed forces to broader political developments within the CIS. A move toward political and economic integration would be reflected in the security sphere, he argued, and his command would oversee joint forces and peacekeeping forces, as well as strategic forces (until their elimination outside of Russia). If broader integration is not achieved and command over nuclear weapons is handed to Russia, Shaposhnikov said, the CIS command would be abolished and collective security renounced. Stephen Foye CIVIC UNION DISCUSSES FOREIGN POLICY CONCEPT. The political council of the Civic Union met on 16 January to discuss an alternative Russian foreign policy concept, presented by the deputy director of USA-Canada Institute, Sergei Rogov, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 19 January. The concept foresees sanctions against CIS states which violate the human rights of Russians on their territories. Members of the Civic Union complained that President Yeltsin remains reluctant to accept the idea of a round table discussion, which would include members of the government and all the factions in the Civic Union, but praised Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin for favoring such talks. Andrei Fedorov, assistant to the Vice President, warned that the upcoming referendum may fail because less than 40% of the people might take part. Alexander-Rahr CHERNOMYRDIN APPROVES PRIVATIZATION PLAN. The Russian deputy prime minister in charge of privatization, Anatolii Chubais, told Izvestiya on 19-January that Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin had approved Chubais' draft proposal for further privatization and had forwarded it to President Yeltsin. "There is no difference in principle in our positions, except on the question of assistance to privatization in rural areas," Chubais affirmed. The minister warned of opposition to privatization in parliament. An article in Komsomolskaya pravda on the same day said that a draft law on privatization now before the parliament would make vouchers virtually worthless. By giving priority to employees in the factories being privatized, it would leave only about 1% of the shares available to voucher holders. Keith Bush CONTROVERSY OVER HOLDING CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY. Various democratic leaders have been advocating for some time the idea of holding a constituent assembly to adopt a new Russian Constitution. Advocates of the plan say the adoption of the constitution should not be entrusted to the conservative Congress of People's Deputies. On 17 January, St. Petersburg mayor Anatolii Sobchak was quoted by Ostankino TV as saying the Congress and many local soviets had turned "into a stronghold of reaction" and therefore the convening of the Constitutional Assembly was the only solution. In contrast, President Yeltsin's political adviser Sergei Stankevich rejected the idea of the Constituent Assembly as a step that would further destabilize the situation in the Russian Federation and contribute to centrifugal tendencies in it. Vera Tolz NEW OSTANKINO CHIEF DENIES "INFORMATION BLOCKADE OF OPPOSITION." The recently appointed new chief of Ostankino TV, Vyacheslav Bragin, denied that communist and Russian nationalist opposition to the government does not have access to Russian TV, ITAR-TASS reported on 19 January. Earlier this month, representatives of the opposition have started to reiterate demands for better access to TV. Bragin argued that in reality opposition leaders regularly appear on Ostankino. Vera Tolz RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN DEBT DEAL? A PROTOCOL ON AN AGREEMENT BETWEEN RUSSIA AND UKRAINE ON THE SERVICING OF THE DEBT OF THE FORMER SOVIET UNION WAS SIGNED IN KIEV ON 16-JANUARY AND MADE PUBLIC ON 19 JANUARY, REUTERS REPORTED. The agreement reportedly provided for the parties to service the external debt of the former Soviet Union separately and to divide its assets by the end of March. However, at a news conference later on 19 January, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Shokhin played down the announcement of the agreement, ITAR-TASS reported. "This option is technically very complicated and it still has to be assessed by specialists...We do not yet know whether it is possible to do it at all." Keith Bush RUSSIAN PARLIAMENTARIANS ASK FOR START-2 DOCUMENTS. Several committees of the Russian parliament have officially asked the Foreign and Defense Ministries to present to parliament the package of agreements comprising START-2, Interfax reported on 18 January. Sergei Stephashin, spokesman for the Defense and Security Committee said that he thought the first round of hearings would begin on 2 or 3-February. Another committee chairman, Evgenii Ambartsumov, said that the Americans had suggested holding a TV "bridge" between Russian and American lawmakers and arms control experts in preparation for the ratification of the treaty. He added that he was against "hasty evaluations of that treaty either in enthusiastic or utterly negative terms." President George Bush submitted the treaty to the U.S. Senate for ratification on 15 January. Doug Clarke. CHEMICAL WEAPONS TREATY TO BE EXPENSIVE FOR RUSSIA. General Anatolii Kuntsevich, President Yeltsin's advisor on the destruction of chemical weapons, told the Russian parliament on 19 January that the recently signed UN. convention on chemical weapons would cost Russia approximately $500 million in inspection costs alone. As quoted by Interfax, Kuntsevich explained that the cost of international inspectors must be born by the country on whose territory they are working. Since Russia had the world's largest declared stockpile, it would have the largest inspection bill. Kuntsevich suggested that others countries might wish to contribute funds to an international pool to cover inspection costs. Doug Clarke RUSSIA'S CHEMICAL DESTRUCTION PLAN CRITICIZED. Parliamentarians criticized the government's plans for destroying chemical weapons (CW), which would entail moving them from their seven storage sites to two or three destruction facilities. One of these facilities is planned for a former CW production facility at Novocheboksarsk, in the Chuvash Republic. However, that republic's parliament has decided to ban the introduction of poisonous substances into Chuvashia. Interfax quoted a Chuvash member of the Russian parliament as saying the republic had no intention of giving in on this issue. Moreover, a representative of Tartarstan said that the republic would not give permission for chemical weapons to be transported across its territory. Doug Clarke SCIENTIST QUESTIONS CW STOCKPILE FIGURES. Dr. Lev Fedorov, a chemist who has criticized the Russian chemical weapons program in the past, told Interfax on 19 January that Russia was responsible for destroying far more than the 40,000 tons officially acknowledged. He estimated that from 500,000 to 1,000,000 tons of chemical weapons had been manufactured during the Soviet era, and much of it had been buried or burned, causing an enormous toxic waste problem. Fedorov also made public the locations of the seven major CW stockpiles. He said that two were in Urdmurtia, and the others in the Kurgan, Penza, Kirov, Saratov, and Bryansk Oblasts. Fedorov, a Chuvash, said that the weapons must be destroyed where they were stored and not moved to other elimination sites. Doug Clarke YELTSIN CALLS FOR "TOTAL WAR" AGAINST CORRUPTION AND CRIME. In a statement to an inter-agency Russian government conference concerning ways and means of combating corruption, President Yeltsin said that "All branches of power must begin a frontal attack against corruption, organized crime and bribe-taking," ITAR-TASS reported on 19-January. According to Reuters, Yeltsin claimed that mafia-type structures in Russia are becoming more widespread and disruptive than in Italy. The border between legality and illegality is, however, not always clearly defined in Russia, since private businesses often have to bribe state officials in order to operate. Minister of Justice Nikolai Fedorov said that the law against "speculation" (broadly defined as including all black market activities) should be reinstated; the parliament abolished this law last year. Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai said that decisive measures must to taken to prevent organized crime from becoming involved politically in ethnic conflicts taking place in various regions within Russia, including the North Caucasus. Victor Yasmann & Sheila Marnie TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA UZBEK SUPREME COURT SUSPENDS BIRLIK. Uzbekistan's Supreme Court has suspended the activity of Uzbekistan's major opposition group, Birlik, until 15-April, Interfax reported on 19 January. The Ministry of Justice claimed that Birlik should be banned because between 1991 and 1993, 166 of its members were charged with breaking the law. Uzbekistan's Supreme Soviet had ordered the ministry to investigate the movement to determine if it should be banned; this order was widely interpreted as a revocation of Birlik's registration. The authorities seem to have decided to observe scrupulously the law on public organizations and entrust repression of Birlik to the Supreme Court. Bess Brown KYRGYZSTAN LOOKS TO SOUTH AFRICA. After the official visit to Israel, Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Ednan Karabaev will travel on to South Africa, he told Interfax on 18 January. The two countries have already established diplomatic relations; the Kyrgyz side hopes to gain South African assistance on projects to develop Kyrgyzstan's mining industries. According to Karabaev, Kyrgyzstan is particularly interested in South Africa's experience in creating ethnic harmony. Bess Brown INTERREGIONAL NON-RUSSIAN CIS MEMBERS SEEK RETURN OF NATIONAL TREASURES. Representatives from over half of the CIS states met in Minsk on 12-13 January, to discuss renewing efforts to secure the return of national cultural and historical treasures which were removed during the Soviet and tsarist periods and which have largely ended up in Russian museums. The states which took part were Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan; Armenia and Azerbaijan sent observers. A year ago, at the CIS summit in Minsk of 14-February, the heads of the CIS states signed an agreement on the return of cultural and historical treasures but this accord was in effect torpedoed when on 20 May the Russian parliament rejected it. The head of the Ukrainian Commission on the Return of Cultural and Historical Treasures, Oleksandr Fedoruk, told the RFE/RL Ukrainian Service on 19 January that at last weekend's meeting in Minsk it was decided to form an inter-state commission to work on this problem and to enlist the help of international experts. New documents are also being prepared for discussion at forthcoming CIS summits. Bohdan Nahaylo CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN SERBS DEBATE GENEVA PEACE PLAN. The Assembly of the self- proclaimed Serb Republic in Bosnia-Herzegovina began debate on 19 January on the peace plan proposed by international mediators Cyrus Vance and Lord Owen. After hearing opening speeches by the Bosnian Serb leadership, the assembly adjourned its session until the 20th. Radio Serbia predicts that the assembly will adopt the plan with some reservations, but the voting "will not be easy or unanimous." Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic told the assembly that the time has come to "look at the possibilities of peace" and a "definite solution to the political crisis." Biljana Plavsic, vice president of the Serb Republic, called for the rejection of the plan. -Milan Andrejevich BOSNIA MAY BRAND CROATIA "AGGRESSORS." Fighting between Bosnian Muslim forces and units of the Croatian Defense Council (HVO) around the key town of Gornji Vakuf in central Bosnia continued on 19-January with no end in sight. In an address on Bosnian TV on 18 January Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic warned of a "new aggression" by Croats, accused Croatia of meddling in Bosnia's internal affairs, and blamed some Croat units for instigating the fighting. On 19-January Radio Bosnia reported that the Bosnian government threatened to declare Croatia an "aggressor state" and appeal to the UN if fighting between Bosnian Croats and Muslims does not stop by 21 January. In a letter to Izetbegovic Bosnian Croat leader Mate Boban rejected the Muslim condemnation of the Croats, saying that evidence points to Muslim military commanders ordering the attacks in central Bosnia. According to Radio Croatia Boban also stated that accusations that Croatia is meddling in Bosnia's internal affairs undermines the "friendship and cooperation" between the two states. Boban threatened to withdraw Croat representatives from the Bosnian government if Izetbegovic fails to halt the fighting. Cyrus Vance and Lord Owen are due to arrive in Zagreb and Sarajevo today. -Milan Andrejevich BEROV SEEKS US SUPPORT IN BALKAN CRISIS. On 19 January Bulgarian Premier and acting Foreign Minster Lyuben Berov discussed the impact of the war in ex- Yugoslavia with the US ambassador to Sofia, Hugh Kenneth Hill. According to a government press release, Berov called on the US to show its determination and help stop military actions in former Yugoslavia. Warning that tension is spreading over the Balkans, he especially noted that the Republic of Macedonia is lacking security guarantees. Berov also pointed out that Bulgaria has lost over $1-billion in adhering to UN sanctions. -Kjell Engelbrekt STATE DEPARTMENT REPORT ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN FORMER YUGOSLAVIA-.-.-. In its annual report on the status of human rights around the world issued on 19 January, the US State Department roundly condemns abuses in the former Yugoslavia. The report accuses the Serbian forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina of conducting a campaign of "cruelty, brutality and killing," notably the policy of "ethnic cleansing," unrivaled in Europe since Nazi times. "It borders on genocide." All sides in the Yugoslav conflict have been guilty of atrocities, the report says, but those of the Croats and Bosnian Muslims pale in comparison to those of the Serbs. -Charles Trumbull .-.-.-AND ELSEWHERE IN THE REGION. The State Department report, however, is generally positive about the other countries in Central and Eastern Europe. In Bulgaria, the report says, human rights performance was generally good in 1992 and some progress is being made in addressing the rights of ethnic Turks, Gypsies, and other minorities, although more could be hoped for in establishing a sound judicial basis for addressing human rights complaints. Progress was also noted in Romania, where the government "generally expressed willingness to comply with Western human rights norms," but was sometimes ineffective in responding to instances of ethnic discrimination, especially against Gypsies and ethnic Hungarians. Concern over the rights of these same two minorities in Slovakia is also expressed in the report, which details in particular "misgivings" by leaders of the new state's 600,000-strong Hungarian minority about the Slovak constitution, social legislation, and some government actions. Continuing social discrimination and occasional incidents against Gypsies in the Czech Republic are mentioned, as are isolated anti-Semitic incidents such as the provocative publication in a Prague tabloid of a list of people, allegedly Jews prominent in Czech culture. Human rights in Hungary, the report says, are "generally respected in practice," but cautions that right- wing populists, including some in the prime minister's own Hungarian Democratic Forum (former HDF vice president Istvan Csurka is specifically mentioned) have exploited popular discontent. Examples of antidemocratic, anti-Semitic, and anti-Gypsy incidents in Hungary are also given. Poland, the report says, has moved from a communist state to a multiparty democracy with "a lively, independent parliament" and "a vigorous free press," but the country continues to grapple with all the issues of "social, gender and ethnic intolerance." -Charles Trumbull CZECH REPUBLIC, SLOVAKIA ADMITTED TO THE UN. On 19 January the UN General Assembly admitted the Czech and Slovak Republics as the 179th and 180th members of the UN, international agencies report. The new members were admitted by acclamation, without any voting. Assembly Chairman Stoyan Ganev of Bulgaria welcomed the new members. Czech Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec told the assembly that the Czech Republic desires a stable Europe "opened to natural integration trends and developing good neighborly relations in its center." Slovak Foreign Minister Milan Knazko said his republic intends to abide by human rights principles and reject the use of violence. He said Slovakia will base its domestic policy and foreign policy on the principles of pluralistic democracy, socially oriented market economy, and the rule of law. -Jiri Pehe SLOVAK PARLIAMENT PASSES CITIZENSHIP LAW, REJECTS CREATION OF NEW CHAMBER. The National Council of Slovakia approved a new law on Slovak citizenship on 19 January. CTK reports that according to the law all people who were citizens of Czechoslovakia's Slovak Republic on 31 December 1992 automatically became citizens of the independent Slovakia. Noncitizens can apply for citizenship if they have resided in Slovakia for five years, have a good command of Slovak, and have not been found guilty of committing a crime in the last five years. In another vote on the 19th, Parliament rejected a draft constitutional amendment providing for the creation of a provisional second chamber of the Slovak parliament consisting of the Federal Assembly deputies elected in Slovakia. The vote contravened the constitutional law on the abolition of Czechoslovakia passed by the Federal Assembly on 25 November 1992, which stipulated that after the split of Czechoslovakia legislative power in Slovakia would belong to the deputies of the National Council of Slovakia and the Federal Assembly deputies elected in Slovakia. -Jiri Pehe DIFFERING VIEWS ON SLOVAKIA'S NATO TIES? THE BUDAPEST DAILY NEPSZAVA NOTED ON 12-JANUARY THAT THERE APPEAR TO BE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER VLADIMIR MECIAR AND THE FOREIGN MINISTRY OVER THE COUNTRY'S TIES WITH NATO. In a 4 January statement, Meciar told Defense Ministry members that Slovakia had to decide whether to remain neutral, move towards NATO, or act within a new kind of Central European security system. During a two-day conference on NATO and East European security in Budapest on 9-10-January in Budapest, an unnamed official of the Slovak Foreign Ministry said this is only Meciar's "private opinion"; the Foreign Ministry view is that Slovakia wishes to participate both politically and economically in both the EC and NATO. The only road for Slovakia, he continued, is integration with the West, including the latter's military security system. Foreign Ministry analyst Svetoslav Bombik told Magyar hirlap on 11 January that Slovakia will not depart from Czechoslovakia's West- oriented policy and that both his country and Hungary face a common threat from the East, i.e. the former Soviet Union, and thus cannot afford a conflict over the national minority issue. -Alfred Reisch CSURKA, ANTALL CLOSE TO BREAK. Istvan Csurka, controversial presidium member of the ruling Hungarian Democratic Forum, said at a news conference reported by MTI that in the party conference on 22-January new leaders cannot be selected before the candidates are given a chance to express their opinions as had been suggested earlier by a conference steering committee. Csurka also rejected political stability for stability sake. He said he does not want to attack Prime Minister Jozsef Antall openly but that nobody is above criticism. Csurka called attention to a lead editorial in the weekly he edits, which says Antall has lost his political popularity and is an obstacle to HDF success. Csurka and Antall cannot "paddle together in the same boat", the article says. Earlier Csurka announced that he will not challenge Antall for HDF leadership, although these new developments now call that statement into question. -Karoly Okolicsanyi HUNGARIAN HIGH COURT REJECTS REFERENDUM. MTI reported on 19 January that the Constitutional Court has ruled that holding a referendum on new elections would violate the constitution. The referendum would represent an amendment to the constitution, which cannot be changed this way. The ruling was necessary because a signature collection drive is under way calling on Parliament to announce a referendum to decide whether to call for an unscheduled general election. The Constitutional Court also recommended changing the present law regulating referendums, which permit popular votes to call for new elections. -Karoly Okolicsanyi POLISH GOVERNMENT REQUESTS DECREES. The cabinet approved a draft bill on 19-January that would grant the government the right to issue decrees with the force of law. Decrees would apply in all but a few restricted areas, including the constitution, the budget, and civil rights. After consultations with the coalition parties, the draft will be given "urgent" status and sent to the Sejm, PAP reports. Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka said that "special powers" would be used to accelerate economic transformations, restructure state institutions, and bring the Polish legal system into conformance with European Community norms. The government has several dozen bills already earmarked for decree status. Attending the cabinet session, President Lech Walesa, long a supporter of "special powers," said that decrees would not limit but rather strengthen and defend democracy. He pledged "to do his utmost not to collide with the government." Under the "little constitution" enacted in 1992, the president is empowered to sign government decrees into law or refer them to the Constitutional Tribunal. -Louisa Vinton KATYN INVESTIGATION NEARING CONCLUSION? SERGEI STANKEVICH, AN ADVISER TO RUSSIAN PRESIDENT BORIS YELTSIN, MET WITH MEMBERS OF THE FEDERATION OF KATYN FAMILIES, THE ASSOCIATION FORMED BY RELATIVES OF THE 21,000 VICTIMS OF THE KATYN MASSACRE, ON 19 JANUARY. According to Polish TV, Stankevich announced that Russian military prosecutors will conclude their investigation of Katyn in 1993. Katyn Family members gave Stankevich a standing ovation when he stressed the need for justice to be done. Stankevich also met with Walesa's representatives to discuss Yeltsin's upcoming visit to Poland, which is expected to take place "in the next few months." He told reporters that ten agreements would be signed during the visit, on matters including the status of Kaliningrad, energy supplies, and international crime. -Louisa Vinton POLAND ARRESTS WOULD-BE URANIUM DEALER. Polish TV reported on 19 January that the State Security Office has arrested former deputy culture minister Kazimierz Clapka and three others on charges of attempting to sell large quantities of uranium and plutonium to German journalists posing as arms dealers. A German television program had aired footage of Clapka offering radioactive materials for sale in December. Western agencies reported that two Poles and a German were arrested on the Swiss-French border on 19 January when police discovered four kilograms of cesium, a rare metal used in the nuclear industry, in their car. The cesium apparently originated in Lithuania. -Louisa Vinton LILOV LOSES IMMUNITY. Aleksandar Lilov, former member of the Politburo of the Bulgarian Communist Party and 1990-91 leader of the successor Bulgarian Socialist Party, has been stripped of his parliamentary immunity. Following a 12-hour debate at an extraordinary session of the National Assembly on 19 January, a slight majority of deputies-113 votes to 104-supported a request by Prosecutor General Ivan Tatarchev to lift Lilov's immunity. Tatarchev made the request on grounds that he would charge the excommunist for his part in granting millions of dollars to communist regimes in the Third World. On a proposal by the MRF party, however, the parliament rejected Tatarchev's recommendation to put Lilov under arrest, saying the National Assembly is not a court of law. -Kjell Engelbrekt UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT CONVENES TODAY. The Parliamentary Presidium decided to convene a plenary session of Parliament on 20 January, Ukrainian TV reports. Nearly 100-deputies demanded that Parliament convene immediately, reportedly to discuss the question of Ukraine's adherence to the CIS charter and the legalization of the banned Communist Party. The Presidium ruled that social and economic questions will top the agenda. -Roman Solchanyk UKRAINE SEEKS SECURITY GUARANTEES. Konstantin Grishchenko, director of the arms control department of the Defense Ministry, told journalists on 19-January that Ukraine is conducting negotiations with the French and Chinese governments on guaranteeing Ukraine's nuclear security. His remarks were reported by Interfax. He expressed hope that Ukraine and Russia will be able to agree on the destruction of the nuclear warheads now in Ukraine, adding that they would be destroyed in Russia if "Russia's position is rational." The previous day CIS commander in chief Marshal Evgenii Shaposhnikov told a Moscow briefing that he believes the problems between Russia and Ukraine over the strategic weapons could be resolved within the next month. He said that Presidents Yeltsin and Kravchuk "found the key to solving these problems" during their 15 January meeting. -Doug Clarke FEW MOLDOVANS FAVOR UNIFICATION. In connection with recent calls for a referendum to confirm Moldova's independence, the National Institute of Sociology (which is directed by Romanian scholars) conducted a public opinion survey. As reported by Interfax and Basapress, the survey found that only 8% of citizens would vote for unification with Romania in a referendum; 18% would vote for Moldova joining the CIS; 67% would vote for independence (the Moldovan leadership's option); while 7% expressed no definite opinion. The survey area did not include the left bank of the Dniester, where approximately 15% of Moldova's population resides and where support for unification with Romania among the ethnic Moldovan plurality of the population is known to be even lower than on the right bank. -Vladimir Socor MINISTERIAL CHANGES IN LATVIA. Diena reported on 19 January that the Supreme Council has confirmed Aivars Kreituss as minister of economic reforms. Kreituss, former head of the Latvian Stock Exchange, replaces Arnis Kalnins, who resigned last fall. In November the Supreme Council narrowly rejected the nomination of Uldis Osis, deputy minister of finance, to replace Kalnins, but endorsed Kreituss with a strong majority. Diena also reports the resignation of Minister of Finance Elmars Silins but did not offer an explanation. -Dzintra Bungs ESTONIAN TANKER ACCIDENT NO "DISASTER." Minister for the Environment Andres Tarand says the situation caused by the grounded oil tanker Kihnu is an expensive accident but not yet a disaster. Tarand told the RFE/RL Estonian Service on 19 January that the accident was caused in part by sloppiness, including poor navigation. As of 20 January most of the diesel fuel had been pumped out of the grounded tanker to shore, and workers had begun pumping out the remaining heating fuel. -Riina Kionka [As of1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba & Charles Trumbull
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