|The fool wonders, the wise man asks. - Benjamin Disraeli|
No. 21, 02 February 1993
RUSSIA PARLIAMENT SUGGESTS ADDITIONAL QUESTION FOR REFERENDUM. The presidium of the Russian parliament proposed on 29 January that the following question should be added to the 11 April referendum on "the principles of the new Russian Constitution": "Do you agree that early parliamentary and presidential elections should be held in the spring of 1994?" The radio station, Echo of Moscow, said that the question had been proposed by parliamentary speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov. On 30 January Ostankino TV quoted him as claiming that if early elections were held, he would not stand as a candidate in any of them. -Vera Tolz YELTSIN COMMEMORATES BATTLE OF STALINGRAD. In a speech devoted to the fiftieth anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad, Russian President Boris Yeltsin on 1 February paid tribute to the heroism and perseverance of the Red Army and the Soviet people during the decisive World War II battle. Yeltsin also used the occasion to stress several themes relevant to contemporary Russian politics and international relations. He equated the difficulties faced by the Soviet people in 1943 with those faced by Russians today, and called for a similar application of determination and courage to overcome them. In an obvious reference to tensions between the former Soviet republics today, he said that the Nazi attack had brought unity to "Russians, Ukrainians, Belarussians, Uzbeks, Kazakhs, and people of all nationalities." Finally, Yeltsin said that the current generation of Germans should not be held accountable for the war, and praised the current state of relations between the two countries. ITAR-TASS published a text of the speech on 1 February. -Stephen Foye. KHASBULATOV WARNS OF NEW COUP ATTEMPT. It has become a fashion among top Russian politicians to warn about possible coup attempts. Recently, the head of the Federal Information Center Mikhail Poltoranin suggested that parliamentary speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov was behind such attempts. On 1 February, Khasbulatov himself made a public statement to the effect that he feared a new coup. Khasbulatov was quoted by Western and Russian agencies as saying that his fears were caused by "steps taken by some of the leaders" of Russia. He failed to cite any specific names. The parliamentary speaker also said: "In the first attempted coup [in August 1991], we lost the Soviet Union. In a second one we may lose Russia." Khasbulatov was speaking in Volgograd, where he was attending ceremonies marking the fiftieth anniversary of the battle of Stalingrad. -Vera Tolz KOZYREV DOESN'T RULE OUT "LIMITED INTERVENTION" IN BOSNIA. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev said he would not rule out a military deployment of international forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the form of a "limited intervention." He quickly added, however, that Moscow would oppose any use of force against Serbia and Montenegro. Kozyrev's remarks appeared in an interview published in the French newspaper La Croix on 1-February and were summarized by the German DPA news agency the same day. -Suzanne Crow SHARP PRICE RISES IN RUSSIA. On 1 February Russians were hit by prices rises for natural gas, airline tickets, telephone charges, and some imported goods, according to a Reuters report of the same day. The price of natural gas for industrial enterprises almost tripled, and for households it doubled. The price of airline tickets had already doubled on 1-January, but doubled again from 1 February. Monthly charges for telephone service and the tariff for foreign calls also rose, and a 20% duty was imposed on all imported goods, apart from food, medicines, children's goods, and some technical equipment. A report distributed at the Russian parliament claims that prices grew twice as fast as average wages in 1992, and that Russians spend most of their income on food, cutting back on clothing purchases, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 February. The report also claims that price rises have changed the pattern of food consumption, with the consumption of milk, fish, meat, fruit and vegetables dropping and that of bread and potatoes rising. -Sheila Marnie BATTLES LOOMING OVER PRIVATIZATION. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais expects a tough political struggle with conservative parliamentarians over the government's 1993 privatization program. Speaking at a press conference in Davos, Switzerland, on 1 February, Chubais said: "There are influential forces in parliament who oppose the privatization process...and will do all they can to stop it." He also asserted that the goals of the program for this year were so extensive that "if we win only a part of what we want...it will be enough to make the process irreversible." The government's program envisages selling hundreds of large enterprises and most small and medium-sized enterprises by the end of the year. -Erik Whitlock NATIONAL SALVATION FRONT FORMS SHADOW GOVERNMENT. The banned NSF opposition movement has formed a "shadow patriotic government", according to a 1 February report on the radio station, Echo of Moscow. The NSF leadership declined to name the members of the "shadow government", which had been formed at the first meeting of the NSF's national council held the previous day, saying only that the main task of the movement at present was the struggle against the Russian government. The report also said that the NSF had voted to boycott the forthcoming referendum on the provisions of a new Russian Constitution. -Wendy Slater INTELLECTUALS CALL FOR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY. A group of well-known Russian intellectuals, among them playwrights Aleksandr Gelman, Stanislav Govorukhin, Oleg Efremov, Mark Zakharov, Elem Klimov, and Mikhail Ulyanov, and politicians such as Gavriil Popov, Vadim Bakatin and Aleksandr Yakovlev, published an open letter in Izvestiya of 2 February calling for the creation of a Constituent Assembly. In the letter they argue that national elections should be held to the Constituent Assembly and that the present parliament should not be entrusted with adopting the new Russian Constitution because its political interests are too specific. They further state that because of the political games played with the old Constitution, it has lost the spirit and authority of a legal document. -Alexander Rahr RUSSIANS DO NOT TRUST EXISTING POLITICAL PARTIES. 400 people were questioned in the Russian cities of Vladimir and Yurev-Polsky about their attitude towards the fourteen largest political parties in Russia. The poll was conducted last month by the center for political studies at Moscow's Academy of Administration. According to ITAR- TASS on 1-February, 64% of those polled had no information about any political party, including those that are members of the influential Civic Union bloc. 56% answered negatively when asked whether they support any of the parties. Only 9% gave a positive answer to this question, and the remainder were undecided. The agency noted that the poll cannot be regarded as representative for the entire Russian Federation, because Vladimir and Yurev-Polsky are known as places with very low popular political activity. However, many Russian provinces seem to be in a similar situation, the agency argued. -Vera Tolz RUSSIA SAID TO DROP MILITARY ALLIANCE WITH NORTH KOREA. The Japanese Kyodo news agency on 1 February, quoting unnamed Russian diplomatic sources in Pyongyang, reported that Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Georgii Kunadze, on an official visit to North Korea since 29 January, had told North Korean officials that a military alliance should no longer be part of the two countries' bilateral treaty. The present agreement, signed in 1961, is said to contain a clause guaranteeing Soviet military assistance should North Korea be attacked. An ITAR-TASS report from Pyongyang said that Kunadze and his North Korean counterpart had agreed to reconsider the 1961 treaty and bring it into line with "existing realities." -Doug Clarke CRACKS IN SUNKEN SUB'S HULL, BUT NO LEAKS. A spokesman for the Russian Navy announced on 1-February that Russian naval experts had found two cracks in the hull of the Soviet nuclear submarine which sank in the Norwegian Sea in 1989, but said that there was no radiation leaking from the boat. ITAR-TASS quoted Valentin Lyashenko as saying that the experts, who are believed to have visited the site during the last week of January, found no change in the level of radiation in the water since their last inspection in 1991. -Doug Clarke TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA RUSSIA TO MINE MILITARY INSTALLATIONS IN GEORGIA. In a statement carried by ITAR-TASS on 1 February, the Russian Military Command in Georgia warned that it will mine military installations there in order to prevent further thefts of weapons and equipment and "to defend the honor and dignity" of servicemen and their families. The statement further accused highly-placed officials within the Georgian Defense Ministry of orchestrating previous attacks on Russian military bases "in an attempt to destabilize the situation in the republic in their own interests" - a clear reference to maverick Defense Minister Tengiz Kitovani. Meanwhile some 25 parties represented within the Georgian parliament have expressed opposition to the ongoing Russian-Georgian negotiations which provide for the continued stationing of Russian troops in Georgia, Western agencies reported. Georgian parliament chairman Eduard Shevardnadze has proposed a republic- wide referendum on this issue. -Liz Fuller SCHOOLS TO REOPEN, FIGHTING CONTINUES IN TAJIKISTAN. Khovar-TASS reported on 1 February that educational institutions in Dushanbe had reopened that day after a three-month interruption caused by fighting in the city and the need to house refugees in school buildings. The same day ITAR-TASS reported that anti-government forces holed up in the Ramit Gorge east of Dushanbe are continuing to offer strong resistance to government troops trying to dislodge them. National Security Committee Chairman Saidamir Zukhurov assured correspondents that the state of emergency declared in the Tajik-Afghan border region over the weekend was preventing Afghans from coming to the assistance of the anti-government forces. Other ITAR-TASS sources, however, said that many Afghans were already fighting alongside the opposition. -Bess Brown NAZARBAEV VISITS NATO. Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev paid a visit to NATO headquarters in Brussels on 1 February, ITAR-TASS reported. Nazarbaev used the occasion to tell NATO officials about his project for an Asian counterpart to the CSCE which he had first proposed before Kazakhstan's independence and has since patiently repeated to many Asian leaders and other visitors to Kazakhstan. He also told NATO officials that NATO can help Kazakhstan to develop its own armed forces, and asked for help in overcoming the medical and ecological effects of the nuclear tests carried out in Kazakhstan. -Bess Brown CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE BOSNIA PEACE PLAN DISCUSSED. Seeking support for their peace plan for Bosnia- Herzegovina, international mediators Cyrus Vance and Lord Owen met on 1-February with UN and US officials in New York. Vance and Owen moved the talks from Geneva in an attempt to win formal endorsement of the plan from the UN Security Council. Owen told CNN on 1-February that he will urge the US to help persuade Bosnian Muslims to accept the peace accord. US Secretary of State Warren Christopher has expressed some reservations; senior US officials have said that the plan rewards Serbian aggression and that even if all three parties in Bosnia accept the plan it would be difficult if not impossible to enforce according to the New York Times on 2 February. EC foreign ministers meeting in Brussels called on Bosnia's warring parties and the Security Council to implement the plan and said they will hold off imposing more sanctions on Serbia-Montenegro for fear of derailing the negotiations. -Milan Andrejevich CROATIA UPDATE. Croatian Foreign Minister Zdenko Skrabalo said on 1 February that Zagreb will not support the renewal of the UN peacekeeping mandate in Croatia if UN troops do not disarm the Serbian militia in Croatia's Krajina region. The UN mandate expires at the end of February. In a letter to the UN Security Council, Radoje Kontic, deputy prime minister of the rump Yugoslavia, has requested that the mandate be renewed until a political solution to the crisis is found. Heavy fighting is reported between Croatian and Serbian forces in the Serb-controlled Krajina enclave of Croatia. Each side accuses the other of large-scale attempts to win ground and both claimed victories in the field of combat. Radios Croatia and Serbia carried the reports. -Milan Andrejevich ROMANIA BLOCKS MORE SERB BARGES AT IRON GATE. The Romanian authorities have halted more Serb oil barges at the Iron Gate Two locks on the Danube. Rompres said two tugboats sailing under the flag of rump Yugoslavia and their barges were refused permission to use the Romanian locks on 1 February. A spokesman for the Ministry of Transport quoted by Reuters said one of the tugboats abandoned its barges some 1.5 miles downstream from the locks. The director of the locks said if any boats try to force their way through the locks, he will close them again. -Michael Shafir BULGARIA REQUESTS MONITORING OF UN EMBARGO. On 1 February the Bulgarian government called on the United Nations to post observer missions at the lower Danube river to monitor the enforcement of UN sanctions, Western agencies report. While expressing "deep concern" with the latest examples of sanction-breaking by tugboats from rump Yugoslavia, the government declared it had, under the circumstances, "exhausted the possibilities to enforce Resolution 787 unilaterally and by peaceful means." On the previous day Prime Minister Lyuben Berov had warned that the use of force against Serbian vessels might spark a wider Balkan war. Responding to international pressure on Sofia and Bucharest to take decisive action, the cabinet also asked the UN to consider "signals that the embargo violations are occurring before the Bulgarian and Romanian sections of the river." -Kjell Engelbrekt ESTONIA CONDEMNS CRISIS IN FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. In a statement issued on 30-January, the Government of Estonia "decries the continuing violence in Bosnia and Croatia." The statement, released to RFE/RL, says that Estonia, "being a multiethnic country itself, where people of differing cultures and religions live peacefully side-by-side, Estonia cannot accept the Serbian policy of ethnic cleansing and condemns the attempted genocide resulting from this policy." Should the violence continue, the statement says, Estonia will support UN-sponsored military intervention to restore peace in the region. -Riina Kionka KOSOVAR WARNS OF ETHNIC CLEANSING. Western news agencies quoted Kosovo Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova on 31 January and 2 February as saying that Serbs are carrying out "silent ethnic cleansing" against that province's more than 90% Albanian majority. Serbian police allegedly search for arms in Albanian homes in a three-stage process that includes beatings and expulsions from town. Rugova reaffirmed the Kosovo Albanians' commitment to nonviolence to obtain an independent, demilitarized Kosovo "open to both Serbia and Albania in a regional framework," but warned that some of the youth were becoming impatient. The overwhelming majority of the Kosovars elected Rugova their president in May 1992 in a clandestine vote that the Serbian authorities called illegal. -Patrick Moore CZECHS, SLOVAKS PREPARING FOR CURRENCY SPLIT. The parliaments of the Czech Republic and Slovakia are scheduled to hold sessions on 2 February, when they are expected to discuss the question of establishing separate Czech and Slovak currencies. CTK reported on 1 February that two committees of the Czech parliament have expressed support for a draft law on the currency split submitted by the Czech government. The Slovak government met in a special closed-door session on 1 February, apparently to discuss the currency split. Czech National Bank Governor Josef Tosovsky said on 1 February that both republics have been coordinating their actions on currency separation and worked together on the relevant legislation. Czech Finance Minister Ivan Kocarnik was quoted by CTK on 1 February as saying that neither state can act unilaterally on the currency question. -Jiri Pehe WALESA'S FILES REMAIN CLOSED. The Polish president's attempt to dispel charges of collaboration with the secret police by proposing an independent review of his files has been thwarted. On 1 February, Internal Affairs Minister Andrzej Milczanowski rejected Walesa's request to make an exception to secrecy regulations and release the president's files to an independent arbiter. In a letter delivered personally to Belweder and carried by PAP, Milczanowski said that legal restrictions bound him not to disclose any materials. Supreme Court Chief Justice Adam Strzembosz likewise turned down a request to conduct a review of the president's files. Strzembosz cited both legal impediments and a lack of practical expertise, and suggested that a lustration procedure approved by the parliament was the appropriate solution. Acceding to Walesa's request would violate the principle of equality before the law, he added. -Louisa Vinton AGENTS CONTROVERSY DRAGS ON. The president's spokesman revealed on 1 February that an unnamed former secret police officer had telephoned Belweder to report that he had supervised the collection of 44-volumes of documents on every aspect of Walesa's life. Fourteen of these, collected under the code name "Bolek," were to be used as evidence in an attempt to put the Solidarity leader on trial in 1982. No trial was held. These documents were reportedly destroyed in 1989. The former officer said that he was prepared to testify in court that there was no evidence of collaboration on Walesa's part. In the meantime, Center Alliance leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski called on the president to "resign with honor" and former Prime Minister Jan Olszewski said Walesa had gone over to "the other side." Walesa's spokesman called these the attacks of politicians frustrated by their loss of political support and influence. The spokesman added that Walesa is in favor of legislation to complete lustration as quickly as possible. -Louisa Vinton POLISH COALITION CLOSES RANKS. Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka met on 29 January with the leaders of the seven-party governing coalition. Gazeta Wyborcza reported that the coalition agreed to defend the government's 1993 budget "with unity and determination." In view of the threat to the government's budget targets arising from recent Sejm votes to increase spending and cut taxes, the coalition agreed to draw the line on the deficit at 81-trillion zloty ($5.1 billion). This will require revising laws already adopted by the Sejm, which have boosted the deficit level to 102 trillion zloty ($6.5 billion). Despite speculation that cabinet changes are imminent, the coalition did not discuss ministerial posts. Rzeczpospolita says Suchocka made the dramatic statement that her government could not exist without the budget and, without her government, Poland's democratic system could collapse. -Louisa Vinton POLISH GAINS IN GDP. The Main Statistical Office released economic results for 1992 at a press conference on 29 January. Industrial production was up 4.2%; GDP rose for the first time in three years. The financial condition of firms remained bad, however. Real wages dropped 3.6% in 1992, PAP reported. Inflation was 44.3%. The budget deficit, at 69.3 trillion zloty ($4.4-billion), was only 84.7% of the amount planned in the revised 1992 budget. For the first eleven months of 1992 Poland reported a positive trade balance of $734-million. Negotiations with the London Club on Poland's $12 billion commercial debt are to open on 11-February in Vienna. The World Bank agreed on 29-January to lend Poland $450 million to fund industrial and bank restructuring. The central planning office predicted on 31 January that agricultural production will be 3-7% lower in 1993 than in 1992, as a consequence of last year's drought. -Louisa Vinton NEW HUNGARIAN PARTY GEARS UP FOR 1994 ELECTIONS. At its general assembly held in Budapest on 30-31 January, Hungary's National Democratic Union reelected Imre Pozsgay as its chairman and Zoltan Biro as "cochairman," MTI reports. Pozsgay, a former communist official and one of the main architects of Hungary's 1989 peaceful transition from dictatorship to democracy, told the media that his party will gain parliamentary representation in the 1994 general elections. The assembly adopted a centrist program based on the harmonization and representation of the interests of all strata of society. -Alfred Reisch HUNGARIAN ROMAS ORGANIZE. A National Coordinating Center of Roma Communities was established by nine organizations meeting in Szeged on 30 January MTI reports. The aim of the center is to select and prepare individuals for local and national elections and to enlighten the Romas about their rights. The organizers accused the leaders of the top Gypsy organizations of being remnants of the old [i.e., communist] system and of not keeping promises to the rural Roma population. The chairman of the Czech and Slovak Roma Congress also attended and urged those present to fight for their rights. -Alfred Reisch ROMANIA BANS MINORITY NEWS BROADCASTS. Romanian state television has banned the broadcast of news in Hungarian or German, Western agencies reported on 1 February. Broadcasts in the languages of ethnic groups must be limited to cultural and what were termed "traditional" themes. The order triggered protests from the directors of the services and from representatives of the Hungarian minority in Parliament. -Michael Shafir ROMANIA SIGNS EC AGREEMENT. On 1 February in Brussels Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu and Foreign Affairs Minister Theodor Melescanu signed an association agreement with the European Community. The agreement grants Romania trade benefits and a regular political dialogue with the community. The accord is similar to those the EC has with Hungary and Poland and is negotiating with Bulgaria, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. Also on 1 February, a Romanian parliamentary delegation arrived in Strasbourg for the opening of the winter session of the Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly. Radio Bucharest said the delegation will press the case for Romania to become a full council member. Romania was given special guest status in February 1991, but its application for full membership has been repeatedly delayed, apparently because of doubts about the Romanian authorities' commitment to democracy. -Michael Shafir BULGARIA NOT TO TAKE PART IN BLACK SEA MEETING. A parliamentary foreign policy committee on 29 January voted to decline an invitation for a Bulgarian delegation to attend a meeting of member states of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation initiative in Istanbul scheduled for 4-5 February. According to Bulgarian media, the decision should be seen as a protest against plans to establish an organizational framework for the group. A majority in the committee agreed that the adoption of statutes is premature and the creation of a formal assembly goes beyond the original cooperation agreement signed last year. -Kjell Engelbrekt KUCHMA ON THE UKRAINIAN ECONOMY. Ukrainian Prime Minister Leonid Kuchma says that Ukraine is for all intents and purposes bankrupt, Radio Ukraine reported on 1 February. Speaking to miners in the Donetsk region, he reported that last year's deficit amounted to 1.325 trillion karbovantsi (in world prices, about $20 billion). Kuchma, noting that 60% of Russia's deliveries move on Ukraine's railroads and through its ports, said that thus far Kiev has not received a single kopeck from Moscow. -Roman Solchanyk MOLDOVA SEEKING WINE-BOTTLING EQUIPMENT. On his official visit to Paris, Moldovan President Mircea Snegur told a news conference on 30-January that Moldova has bottling capacity for only 10% of its massive output of sparkling and still wines and brandy, and that it seeks to acquire bottling technology from the West. Moldova reportedly accounts for one third of the ex-USSR's total marketable wine output, but its wine has been mostly bottled in other Soviet republics. Moldova's hopes to earn foreign currency rest primarily on its wine industry. -Vladimir Socor CHECHEN PRESIDENT MAKES SURPRISE VISIT TO LITHUANIA. On 29 January Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudayev arrived unexpectedly in Vilnius, saying that he had come at the request of opposition leader Vytautas Landsbergis, BNS reports. At a press conference on 30-January after meeting with Dudayev, Landsbergis said that he had not known about the visit in advance, but viewed it as a "positive occurrence" prepared by "people engaged in concrete cooperation between Lithuania and Chechnya." Dudayev also met unofficially with Seimas chairman Ceslovas Jursenas before flying from Vilnius that night. Dudayev was interested in the possibility of using Lithuanian construction workers, presently employed in Armenia, to help build up the Chechen capital, obtaining Lithuanian help in training customs workers, and in return sending fuel and using each other's airports for stopovers in airline flights. -Saulius Girnius RUSSIAN TROOPS FROM GERMANY TO USE LITHUANIAN PORTS. Gediminas Serksnys, the head of the Lithuanian delegation negotiating with Russia, says that Russian and Lithuanian negotiators have agreed to allow Russian troops from Germany to be withdrawn on the ferry from Mukran, Germany, to Klaipeda, and by rail through Vilnius to Belarus and on to Russia. The report said that the project will begin as soon as it was signed by both sides. The 29 January Baltfax account also included a statement from Stasys Knezys, the Lithuanian commissioner for the Russian military withdrawal, who said that such transfers were already taking place without an agreement. -Doug Clarke RUSSIA'S DIPLOMATS VISIT RUSSIAN MILITARY BASE IN LATVIA. On 29 January Russia's envoys to the Baltic States-Aleksandr Rannikh in Riga, Nikolai Obertyshev in Tallinn, and Aleksandr Trofimov in Vilnius-met with the commander of the Northwestern Group of Forces Leonid Mayorov. On 30 January they all visited the Russian military base in Adazi to inspect the living conditions of the Russian military stationed there. The working visit of the Russian diplomats was coordinated with Latvia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Diena reported on 1 February. -Dzintra Bungs UPDATE ON CITIZEN AND RESIDENT REGISTRATION IN LATVIA. Diena reported on 1-February that as per the 1989 census, about 88% of Latvia's residents have been registered by the Citizenship and Immigration Department. Of those registered, 75% are citizens, and of these registered citizens about one-fourth are non-Latvians. On 30 January Radio Riga reported that about 5,000 citizens living abroad have been registered. Only about 300 of these are in Russia. One reason for this low figure, according to Maris Plavnieks, director of the department, appears to be harassment of the Latvians by the local authorities. Registration is almost complete in most parts of Latvia though enrollment of citizens living abroad is expected to continue longer. -Dzintra Bungs [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Wendy Slater and Charles TrumbullTHE RFE/RL DAILY REPORT IS PRODUCED BY THE RFE/RL RESEARCH INSTITUTE (A DIVISION OF RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, INC.) with the assistance of the RFE/RL News and Current Affairs Division (NCA). The report is available by electronic mail via LISTSERV (RFERL-L@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU), on the Sovset' computer bulletin board, by fax, and by postal mail. 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