|The trouble with being punctual is that nobody's there to appreciate it. - Franklin P. Jones|
No. 15, 25 January 1993
RUSSIA CIVIC UNION VS YELTSIN; RUTSKOI VS FURTHER RAIDS AGAINST IRAQ. Arkadii Volsky, leader of the Civic Union, said that he is "frightened" by the haste Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin took in recently reversing his decision on reestablishing price controls on many basic goods, Interfax reported on 23 January. The industrial lobby criticized the government for trying to artificially radicalize reforms. Another leader of the Civic Union, Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi, criticized Russia's policy in the Persian Gulf telling a RFE/RL correspondent on 23 January that Russia should veto any UN Security Council decision that will lead to further military action against Iraq. Alexander Rahr RUSSIAN NATIONALISTS SUPPORT SERBIA. Dozens of prominent Russian nationalist activists, including the writer Aleksandr Prokhanov, the journalist Aleksandr Nevzorov, academician Igor Shafarevich, the former dissident Vladimir Osipov, Pamyat leader Dmitrii Vasilev, head of the Russian Congress Aleksandr Sterligov, leaders of the National Salvation Front, Ilya Konstantinov, Gennadii Zyuganov and others, have signed an appeal to the Russian people calling for support for the Serbs. The appeal, published in Pravda on 21-January, referred to the war in former Yugoslavia as an intervention into the Slavic world and stated the need to send volunteers to fight on the side of the Serbs. It called upon the Russian parliament to remove Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev from office for his "anti-Slav policy." Alexander Rahr RUSSIA AND UKRAINE REMAIN AT ODDS OVER NUCLEAR WEAPONS. The leaders of the four ex-Soviet states where strategic nuclear weapons are stationed-Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine-could not agree on the ownership of these weapons at the CIS summit in Minsk on 22 January. Russia claims them, Belarus agrees, and Kazakhstan seems willing to accept this, but Ukraine will not. Ukrainian First Deputy Defense Minister Ivan Bizhan told ITAR-TASS that the 23 May 1992 Lisbon Protocol, which committed the four states to the START-1 treaty, named each of them as successor states of the USSR, and not just Russia. Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev told Interfax that Russian and Ukrainian military experts would start verifying the composition of the strategic nuclear forces in Ukraine on 26-January. He hoped that these bilateral talks would led to a compromise so that the CIS heads of states could approve the document on CIS strategic forces at their next summit. Doug Clarke RUSSIAN DEMONSTRATORS CONFRONT UKRAINIAN AUTHORITIES IN SEVASTOPOL. Interfax reported on 24 January that hundreds of Russian demonstrators were demanding the removal of the city's Ukrainian presidential representative. A leader of the Republican Movement of the Crimea, the movement that organized the protest, told the demonstrators that the population of Sevastopol was engaged in a psychological war with its Ukrainian leaders. Other speakers called on the Russian parliament to place Sevastopol under Russia's jurisdiction. Hal Kosiba RUSSIAN BLACK SEA OFFICERS SPEAK OUT. Russian officers of the Black Sea fleet held a meeting in Sevastopol on 21 January and demanded that the "economic blockade" of the fleet be lifted and its material and technical problems be immediately solved. According to an Interfax report, the officers condemned the actions of Rear Admiral Boris Khozin, the commander of the Ukrainian Navy, which they claimed served to destabilize the fleet. Because of the "conduct of the general staff of the Ukrainian Navy" they demanded that the fleet headquarters be moved away from Sevastopol. On 23 January, the Commander of the Russian Navy in an interview in Nezavisimaya gazeta expressed concern over the continuing uncertainty regarding the fleet. He suggested that many problems could be resolved if the fleet's officers and NCOs were granted dual citizenship. Doug Clarke and John Lepingwell NEW TENSION IN BLACK SEA FLEET. A platoon of Black Sea Fleet naval infantry on a training mission the night of 21/22 January mistook a Ukrainian air defense facility near Sevastopol for one of their own units and created a brief uproar when they assaulted the facility with dummy arms and ammunition. ITAR-TASS on 22 January announced that the commander of the Black Sea Fleet naval infantry commander had apologized to the colonel in charge of the Ukrainian air defense brigade. Nevertheless, the press center of the Ukrainian naval forces issued a protest, and warned sailors of the Black Sea Fleet to be on their guard against "provocations," Ukrainian TV reported on 22 January. Relations were not so calm at the Black Sea Fleet base at Izmail, a river port on the Danube along the border with Romania. Mayak Radio on 23 January reported that tension was growing in that garrison after a group of officers and warrant officers, who earlier had taken an oath of allegiance to Ukraine, seized a local fleet depot. Doug Clarke and Bohdan Nahaylo PROGRESS OF PRIVATIZATION IN RUSSIA. Anatolii Chubais, the Russian deputy prime minister in charge of privatization, told Interfax on 22 January that progress had been mixed in 1992. Whereas it had been planned to sell off half of the state-owned firms and enterprises by the end of the year, only 19% or 47,000 units had been privatized. Chubais attributed this shortfall to bureaucratic problems in processing the necessary documents. The total of 156-billion rubles was realized from the sales. Although Chubais claimed that this was nearly twice as much as had been projected, the figure was apparently couched in current prices and was therefore much less in real terms than the target total. Keith Bush DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF RUSSIA CALLS FOR EARLIER ELECTIONS. Leaders of the Democratic Party of Russia, which is part of the Civic Union, said they wanted the following question added to the 11 April referendum: "Do you think that the nation-wide presidential and parliamentary elections should be held earlier on a multi-party basis?" Interfax reported on 22-January. The referendum will serve as a vote to decide which principles will be adopted in the new constitution. The Democratic Party leaders claimed that the earlier elections were necessary, because Yeltsin created unconstitutional structures, putting his own close associates in charge of them. The agency also reported that the position of the Democratic Party of Russia was approved by another member-party of the Civic Union-the People's Party of Free Russia. The Democratic Party will reportedly try to get support on this issue from other members of the Civic Union. According to the current schedule, Russia's parliamentary elections will take place in 1995, whereas presidential elections will be held in 1996. Vera Tolz NEW PARLIAMENTARY MEDIA COMMITTEE CHAIR ELECTED. Vladimir Lisin was elected chairman of the parliamentary committee on the media at the 22 January sitting of the Russian parliament, various Russian media reported. The post had fallen vacant after the appointment of the previous incumbent, Vyacheslav Bragin, to head the Ostankino Broadcasting Company. Lisin is a member of the conservative "Rossiia" faction in the parliament and, before becoming a people's deputy, had worked as a local correspondent for Pravda. Reporting his appointment, Radio Rossii predicted conflict between Lisin and the members of the media committee, who had proposed another candidate for chairman. Commenting on Lisin's election, a committee member suggested that parliament might in future attempt further to curtail the independence of the media committee by dissolving it in its current form. Wendy Slater INTERREGIONAL SEVEN STATES SIGN CIS CHARTER. At the one-day summit of CIS heads of states in Minsk on 22 January, seven states signed the draft CIS charter, albeit some with reservations, ITAR-TASS reported. As anticipated, Ukraine, Turkmenistan, and Moldova did not sign, but all ten states signed a declaration in which they reaffirmed their participation in the Commonwealth and their adherence to its general principles. President Yeltsin said that the main thing was that the declaration allowed those states that had not signed to sign any time. In a gesture to Ukraine the declaration states that economic questions are the most important at present. Yeltsin seems to have been well pleased with this compromise and decided to postpone submission of his plans for strengthening the Commonwealth until the next summit in Erevan on 30-April. Ann Sheehy AGREEMENT ON INTERSTATE BANK, DEFENSE OF TAJIK-AFGHAN FRONTIER. The most important concrete result of the summit was the signature of an agreement on setting up an interstate bank which will simplify transactions between member-states. To reach agreement, however, the non-Russian member-states had to agree to Russia control of the issuance of currency and also to Russia's having 50% of the vote on the bank's board. Discussion of the situation in Tajikistan resulted in the five other states that signed the collective security agreement agreeing to send a battalion each to help defend the Tajik- Afghan frontier. At the same time they made plain that in time Tajikistan should be able to defend the frontier itself. A number of other agreements were signed at the summit, but little progress seems to have been made on the creation of a CIS economic court or a declaration on human rights, to which Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan have objected. Ann Sheehy TRANSCAUCASIA & CENTRAL ASIA CIS PEACEKEEPERS FOR TAJIKISTAN. Imomali Rakhmonov, Chairman of Tajikistan's Supreme Soviet, told Interfax on 24 January that four CIS motorized infantry battalions are to arrive in Dushanbe within the next ten days. The decision to send CIS peacekeepers to Tajikistan was taken at the CIS summit on 22 January. Rakhmonov echoed statements of participants in the summit who saw the need for CIS intervention in Tajikistan primarily in terms of protecting the border with Afghanistan. Rakhmonov also reported that Kazakhstan will provide 400,000 tons of grain to Tajikistan in 1993 to overcome the acute food shortage that has resulted from the neglect of agriculture during the 1992 fighting. Russia has promised food, medicine and fuel. Bess Brown RED CROSS SUPPLIES TO SOUTHERN TAJIKISTAN. The International Red Cross has sent four truckloads of food and medical supplies to southern Tajikistan where hunger has driven residents to eat fodder grain, resulting in some 6,500 cases of hepatitis, Interfax reported on 22 January. On 24 January First Deputy Chairman of Tajikistan's Supreme Soviet Abdulmadzhid Dostiev told Interfax that Afghan authorities refused to grant official status to a commission he heads that is supposed to ensure the return to Tajikistan of the thousands of Tajik refugees who have fled to Afghanistan. Western reports from the Tajik- Afghan border region indicate that repression of persons suspected of pro-Islamic or opposition sympathies is continuing. Bess Brown GAS PIPELINE EXPLOSION IN GEORGIA CUTS SUPPLIES TO ARMENIA. ITAR- TASS reported on 23 January that the destruction of a gas pipeline in Georgia had cut Armenia's gas supply in half. As a result of the gas cut-off, in Erevan on 23 January newspapers did not come out, the subway system did not open, and state radio remained silent. It was estimated that it would take at least two weeks to repair the pipeline. Georgian officials have not yet determined the cause of the explosion. Hal Kosiba CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE CROATIAN OFFENSIVE IN KRAJINA. Breaking a year-long truce, on 22 January Croatian forces launched an offensive against Serb-held areas near the coast of southwest Croatia. The action sparked condemnation from the UN and threats of intervention by the federal Yugoslav army. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman told UN mediators in Geneva that the intention is not to seize large areas of Serb-held territory but only to secure a site for a bridge linking northern and southern Croatia. Zagreb has expressed increasing impatience to regain about one-third of the territory it lost to the Serbs who unilaterally declared the creation of the Krajina Republic in December 1991. After the Croat attack Serb commanders in the Krajina announced a general mobilization and reminded the federal Yugoslav army of its promise to intervene if Serbs came under threat. Yugoslav army chief of staff Gen. Zivota Panic wrote UN commander Gen. Satish Nambiar warning that the Yugoslav army is ready to intervene. Serbian forces also raided UN protected weapons storage depots in Croatia seizing tanks and artillery pieces. Radios Croatia and Serbia carried the reports. -Milan Andrejevich TUDJMAN SAYS OFFENSIVE IS OVER. On 24 January fighting was reported heavy around Zadar and UN officials expressed concern of an escalation of the conflict and that it might affect the outcome of the Bosnian peace process in Geneva. Later that day, Tudjman said the offensive is over and that more than 120 Serbs and 10 Croats had died. The deputy prime minister of the rump Yugoslavia, Radoje Kontic, placed the toll higher saying that 500-civilians and 150 Serb militiamen had been killed. Yugoslav President Dobrica Cosic in a letter sent to the UN Security Council, wrote "we are now at a turning point, either towards peace or total war. " -Milan Andrejevich BOSNIA PEACE TALKS RESUME. Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic stated on 24-January that many things regarding the maps of the future division of Bosnia- Herzegovina have now been clarified. The internationally-mediated talks that resumed on 23 January in Geneva produced an agreement that the Muslims, Serbs, and Croats continue discussion over the boundaries of the ten provinces on 25 January. Karadzic claimed Bosnian Serbs and Croats "patiently and in a satisfactory way negotiated" over their boundaries. The Muslims, however, remain unsatisfied. Alija Izetbegovic, Muslim leader and president of Bosnia, said he cannot accept these boundaries because they are conducive to "ethnic division, or more precisely, to ethnic cleansing." A political adviser to Cyrus Vance said on 24 January that a "certain shift had been achieved and it was worthwhile to preserve an obviously existent favorable climate at the negotiations." Radios Bosnia and Serbia carried the reports. -Milan Andrejevich BELGRADE RELEASES ROMANIAN SHIPS. The Romanian Transport Ministry announced on 22 January that authorities in Belgrade have released three Romanian tugboats with their barges after detaining them for three weeks in apparent retaliation for Romania's enforcement of UN sanctions against the rump Yugoslav state. In a statement broadcast by Radio Bucharest, the ministry said that three other vessels are waiting for permission to leave Yugoslav ports. The developments came a day after the Serbian tugboat Bihac, towing six barges, managed to continue through Romanian waters by threatening to blow up a cargo of 6,000 tons of fuel if stopped. On 23 January three more Serbian tugboats and 24 barges left the Romanian port of Braila, claiming that they were returning to Reni, Ukraine, where they were loaded. Later they changed direction, heading for Yugoslavia. -Dan Ionescu "REGULAR" BORDER WITH SLOVAKIA. Czech Interior Minister Jan Ruml said in an interview with Czech TV on 23 January that the border between the Czech Republic and Slovakia should "have the same character as the one with Austria, Germany, and Poland." Ruml argued that until there is a "real Czech-Slovak border," it is impossible for the Czech Republic to have all attributes of a fully sovereign state. He made it clear that such a measure will not be directed against citizens from Slovakia, but against citizens from third countries. Ruml also announced that his ministry, along with the Czech Ministry of Defense, is prepared to close down the border with Slovakia immediately, in case the Czech government decides on the end of monetary union between the two republics. Czech Deputy Prime Minister Ivan Kocarnik explained that such a measure could become necessary to avoid "speculative transfers of money" between the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Lidova demokracie reported on 23 January that the republics will introduce separate currencies on 6 and 7-February. -Jan Obrman CONTROVERSY OVER SLOVAK COURT APPOINTMENTS. First Deputy Chairman of the Slovak Parliament, Peter Weiss, criticized Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar for naming judges to the Constitutional Court last week in the absence of a state president. Meciar responded by telling Slovak Radio on 22 January that only the Constitutional Court judges themselves can decide on whether his decision to appoint them before a Slovak president is elected is constitutional or not. According to a law adopted by Parliament on 20-January, however, Constitutional Court judges are barred from ruling on cases that involve their own interests. Moreover, Parliament passed a resolution on 21 January asking the government to postpone any decision on the naming of the judges for the time being. Meciar made it clear that he paid tribute to the parliament's recommendation by postponing the naming by two hours. He added that he selected the judges according to his conscience and that the new judges commanded the support of the different parties represented in parliament. -Jan Obrman PUNISH "DISINFORMATION," MECIAR SAYS. In an interview with Slovak Radio on 22-January, Meciar called for sanctions against people "who knowingly and intentionally spread wrong information about Slovakia and its government abroad." He warned that Slovakia will soon adopt a new penal code that will introduce a "totally new definition of punishable offenses." Meciar explained that "if someone speaks of civil unrest, promotes fighting, or calls for civil disobedience," it has nothing to do with freedom of opinion. He added that "any society has the right to defend its interests." -Jan Obrman CSURKA ON SLOVAK-HUNGARIAN BORDER. In an interview published by the Slovak daily Praca on 23-January, Istvan Csurka, the outspoken former deputy chairman of the ruling Hungarian Democratic Forum called for a change of the Slovak-Hungarian border. Slovakia, he says, has changed the border unilaterally by moving forward on the Gabcikovo hydroelectric project. Csurka argued that the Yalta agreements will expire in 1995 and that it will be necessary to start negotiating new ways of cooperation in Europe, in which context it "will be possible to address the question of borders." Csurka also expressed the opinion that the Hungarian minority in Slovakia is oppressed and that, in general, the situation of minorities in Hungary is better than that of minorities in Slovakia. Meanwhile, Slovak Foreign Minister Milan Knazko told journalists on 23 January that Slovakia has no territorial claims against any neighbor. -Jan Obrman ANTALL REELECTED AS PARTY CHAIRMAN. MTI reported on 23 January that Prime Minister Jozsef Antall was reelected unanimously over an indirect extremist challenge by Istvan Csurka at the Hungarian Democratic Forum's sixth national meeting. Although Antall was the only candidate, there had been speculation about a movement to draft Istvan Csurka. In a speech that won stormy applause from the delegates, Csurka said that real changes have not yet taken place in Hungary and that all [political and economic] transformations that have so far taken place could be reversed in two hours' time. Csurka also warned the delegates that if the HDF does not institute more radical political changes, the party's chances in the spring 1994 general elections will be slim. Antall, in contrast, called for party unity, stressing that Hungary's political transformation has already passed the most difficult phase. Antall's reconfirmation took place without a direct clash between moderates and extremists, so the stalemate between the center-right HDF moderates and the extremist Csurka followers continues. Csurka was elected to sit in the 20-member party presidium. The three-day meeting also endorsed an amended party platform and operational regulations. -Karoly Okolicsanyi POLISH GOVERNMENT LOSES PENSIONS VOTE. Confusion in the ranks of the government coalition led to the defeat of a pension bill considered essential to limiting the 1993 budget deficit. The bill would have reduced the indexing of pensions from 100% to 91% of the average wage. It had survived an earlier motion to dismiss in December only because television cameras had captured footage of deputies voting for absent colleagues, prompting a new ballot on the issue. Coalition forces voted down an initial attempt to throw out the bill altogether on 23 January, by a margin of seven votes. But, after an amendment was approved raising the indexing rate from 91% to 95%, coalition deputies lost their bearings and a second vote to reject the bill passed by a margin of 145 to 129. Government officials said that 100% indexing would cost the budget an unaffordable 13 trillion zloty ($823 million); sheepish coalition deputies immediately submitted a new 91% pensions bill. -Louisa Vinton SEJM ON HUMAN RIGHTS, LOCAL GOVERNMENT. In other parliamentary business the Sejm on 22 January voted to continue work on President Lech Walesa's proposed human rights charter. It rejected further consideration of an "economic rights charter" backed by the postcommunist parties; most deputies felt the draft charter offered social guarantees that even wealthy states can ill afford. On 23 January the Sejm voted to pursue the decentralization of state authority by restoring the self-governing "powiat," the institution of local administration that was dissolved in 1975. The government's plenipotentiary for local administration issues pledged that pending "special powers" will not be used to effect local government reforms. -Louisa Vinton SUCHOCKA CALLS COALITION TO ORDER. Amidst interparty friction and complaints of disorganization, Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka called a meeting of coalition party leaders on 22 January. Solidarity caucus leader Bogdan Borusewicz also attended. According to Polish TV, Suchocka demanded greater autonomy in personnel decisions. "My decisions cannot simply be the sum of the decisions of individual parties," Suchocka told reporters. The coalition apparently agreed to Suchocka's request. Coalition parties also offered unanimous support for the government's request for decree power. The prime minister denied rumors that Justice Minister Zbigniew Dyka and Environment Minister Zygmunt Hortmanowicz would be dismissed. Still, cabinet changes may be imminent, as Suchocka informed the coalition parties of her criteria for assessing ministerial performance. -Louisa Vinton BULGARIA AND DECOMMUNIZATION. There have lately been conflicting signals on which direction Bulgaria will go on the issue of decommunization. Prosecutor General Ivan Tatarchev told an RFE/RL correspondent on 21 January that he is preparing "the case of his life" against excommunists, whom he considers guilty of "national treason." Tatarchev spoke of two "attempts to betray Bulgaria," the first being the 1946 communist policy to persuade citizens in southwest Bulgaria to declare themselves ethnic Macedonians. The second is former president Todor Zhivkov's proposal to integrate Bulgaria with the USSR, for which Tatarchev said he now has evidence. However, a 21 January parliamentary decision to prohibit the disclosure of secret police files will probably hamper decommunization efforts. According to the amendment of the penal code, anybody who spreads information related to the activities of the secret police can be sentenced to three years in jail. In the case of a government official or if the information is spread by mass media, the jail term may be up to six years. The amendment also precludes the issuing of documents proving that politicians and state officials never collaborated with the State Security, a procedure introduced by the previous government. -Kjell Engelbrekt UKRAINE AND THE CIS. On 23 January Radio Ukraine reported that the declaration signed by 10 countries taking part in the CIS summit in Minsk was proposed by the Ukrainian delegation. The version proposed by the Russian delegation, which is said to have unequivocally supported the draft CIS charter, was rejected by Ukraine, Turkmenistan, and Moldova. Ukraine argued that it did not fully take into account the interests of the CIS member states. The Ukrainian alternative, which emphasizes that an economic agreement among the CIS member states should take priority, was later signed by the 10 countries. -Roman Solchanyk UKRAINIAN REFORMISTS ACCUSE COMMUNISTS OF COUP ATTEMPT. At a press conference called by the democratic "People's Council" fraction of Parliament on 21 January, participants characterized developments in Parliament on 20 and 21 January as an "attempt at a parliamentary coup" by former communists, DR-Press reported on 22 January. The latter are reported to have demanded that Ukraine sign the CIS charter, legalize the banned Communist Party, and reject the government of Prime Minister Leonid Kuchma and the parliamentary presidium. -Roman Solchanyk LEBED URGES TERRITORIAL CHANGES IN MOLDOVA. Lt.-Gen. Aleksandr Lebed, commander of Russia's 14th Army in Moldova, warned in Pravda of 20 January that hostilities may resume "at any moment" in the city of Bendery on the right bank of the Dniester and called for a referendum to determine whether the city should belong to Moldova or to the left-bank "Dniester republic". Largely Russified under Soviet rule, Bendery is currently controlled by the Russian insurgents who have pressured part of the Moldovan population into leaving the city. At stake along with the city is a large surrounding rural area on the right bank, claimed by the "Dniester republic" and infiltrated by its forces. In the same interview, Lebed called for the "Dniester republic's" accession to the Russian Federation under a status similar to that of Finland within Tsarist Russia. However, Lebed strongly implied in his interview that the independence of Moldova as a whole was only a temporary phenomenon and predicted that the Moldovan leaders will face criminal prosecution. -Vladimir Socor SWEDEN TO HELP FINANCE BALTIC NAVIES. At a 22-January Riga press conference reported by Baltfax, the commander of the Latvian navy announced that the Swedish government has decided to provide 10 million kronor ($1.4 million) to help restore the navies of the three Baltic States. Gaidis Zeibots noted that Sweden has a vested interest in these republics having strong maritime borders in view of the recent incidents of refugees attempting to enter Sweden after crossing the Baltic Sea. Zeibots was speaking just prior to a meeting of naval officials from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania who were scheduled to discuss naval cooperation among the three. -Doug Clarke CSCE COMMISSION CONCLUDES BALTIC VISIT. On-23 January a CSCE delegation headed by High Commissioner on Minorities Max van der Stoel ended its series of four- day visits to each of the Baltic States and departed for Moscow, Baltfax reports. Meetings were held with the presidents of Estonia, Lennart Meri, Latvia, Anatolijs Gorbunovs, and Lithuania, Algirdas Brazauskas, their foreign ministers, and other parliamentarians and representatives of the national minorities. At a press conference in Vilnius Van der Stoel said that the national minorities in Lithuania are in a better position than in the other two republics because of the citizenship law in that country. -Saulius Girnius LATVIAN JUSTICE MINISTER RESIGNS. On 19 January Viktors Skudra handed his resignation to Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis, Baltic media reported on 23-January. Skudra, who will continue to fulfill the ministerial duties until a replacement is found, said that his resignation was prompted by what he termed as the negative attitude of the government and parliament toward the judiciary. -Dzintra Bungs [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba and Charles Trumbull
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.