|Absence makes the heart grow fonder. -|
No. 22, 03 February 1993
RUSSIA RUSSIAN MINERS' STRIKE ACTION. Miners at the "Severnaya" mine in Vorkuta, who were the first to begin the miners' strike in 1989, declared a strike alert on 31 January, according to ITAR-TASS on the same day. The strike warning was issued when the Ministry of Fuel and Energy failed respond to their demands. The miners are demanding indexation of their wages to inflation, regular wage payments, a new tariff agreement for 1993, and the adoption of a law on the north. The miners are also calling for the privatization of the coal industry, and in particular would like the "Severnaya" mine to be taken over by the work collective. ITAR-TASS also reported on 1-February that miners in another mine, the "Vorgashorskaya" in Vorkuta, have decided to stop their two month strike. The work collective has decided to dismiss the manager, and has created a special commission to prepare privatization. If attempts are made to disrupt their privatization plans, the miners intend resuming their strike. -Sheila Marnie SPLIT IN DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF RUSSIA? LEADERS OF THE LIBERAL WING OF NIKOLAI TRAVKIN'S DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF RUSSIA (DPR), A MEMBER OF THE INFLUENTIAL CENTRIST CIVIC UNION POLITICAL BLOC, ANNOUNCED ON 1 FEBRUARY THAT THEY WERE PLANNING TO LEAVE THE DPR TO SET UP THEIR OWN PARTY, ACCORDING TO A REPORT ON RADIO ROSSII. The founding congress of the "Union of Progress of Russia" would be held in mid-1993. Sergei Baidin, one of the leaders of the new body, told a NEGA correspondent that it included among its aims the establishment of a presidential republic with a clear delimitation of powers, and the development of a strong Russian middle class. -Wendy Slater PAVLOV DESCRIBES DUPING WESTERN CREDITORS. Former Soviet Finance Minister and participant in the failed coup of August 1991, Valentin Pavlov, described in an interview with Sovetskaya Rossiya on 2-February how top Soviet officials maintained the myth of enormous gold reserves that had long since been depleted. The ruse, he claims, was effective in supporting the Soviet Union's credit rating and therewith encouraging large amounts of financial assistance and investment from the West. Well-known economist Grigorii Yavlinsky was the first to reveal the true state of the Soviet Union's gold reserves-less than a fourth of what was generally assumed- in September 1991. "Yavlinsky...inflicted a death blow to the economy of the country, its balance of payments and trust in us [by] opening his mouth," Pavlov said. Pavlov also used the interview to rail against the government's current macro-economic policy, the IMF and the "deception" of privatization -Erik Whitlock NEW GOVERNMENT APPOINTMENTS. The 35 year old diplomat Sergei Vybornov has been appointed chief of the new Department for International Finance and Investment Cooperation of the Government Apparatus, the daily Kommersant reported on 30 January. The new department replaces the old government Department for Cooperation with International Finance Organizations, created by former government head Egor Gaidar. Vybornov's predecessor, economist Aleksei Mozhin, has become Russia's representative to the IMF last November. The reorganization of the department is a further indication of the major overhaul taking place in the government under the new Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. The latter has also set up a personal secretariat which will consist of 24 employees and an analytical group of 12 officials. -Alexander Rahr BUSINESSMEN SUPPORT YAVLINSKY. Some well-known Russian businessmen have founded a political coalition "Entrepreneurs' political initiative" in order to support reformist forces, Kommersant reported on 2 February. The leadership of the coalition met with former State Secretary Gennadii Burbulis and Moscow mayor Yurii Luzhkov to discuss joint political action. The coalition also seeks cooperation with centrist forces in the parliament, such as the "Smena" faction. Plans for 1993 include support for the return of economist Grigorii Yavlinsky into politics. Businessmen praise Yavlinsky's successful regional economic reform experiment in Nizhnii Novgorod, which they think should be extended to other regions. The coalition wants to finance Yavlinsky's political campaign. -Alexander Rahr POLL INDICATES YELTSIN STILL MOST TRUSTED RUSSIAN POLITICIAN. Russian President Boris Yeltsin remains the most trusted politician in Russia, according to an opinion poll conducted by the All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion, published by the independent news agency Ezhednevnaya glasnost on 30 January. Of the 1,640 people questioned, 22% still trust him, a substantial decrease in his popularity rating compared to least year. 50% of pro-Yeltsin respondents are new entrepreneurs. Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi is trusted by 18% of the respondents; Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin by 9%. The fourth most trusted politician is the head of the Democratic Party, Nikolai Travkin (6%). He is followed by parliamentary speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov (5%), and ex-Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev (4%). It should be noted that other recent polls have indicated a much lower approval rating for President Yeltsin and much higher support for Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi. -Alexander Rahr and Vera Tolz LEADING RUSSIANS CRITICIZE WESTERN DISINTEREST IN RUSSIA. The deputy chief of Germany's ruling CDU-CSU faction, Karl-Heinz Hornhues, said after talks in Moscow that Germany should demonstrate to Russia that Germany is still concerned about it. Hornhues said that he received the impression through meetings with Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Anatolii Adamishin, Security Council Secretary Yurii Skokov, and Mikhail Gorbachev that Russia was very disappointed with the West's apparent lack of interest in Russia, and especially with that of the United States, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported on 2 February. -Suzanne Crow TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA RUSSIAN DIVISION COULD BE BASIS FOR TAJIK ARMY. The Russian 201st Motorized Division that has been stationed in Tajikistan throughout that country's six- month civil war could become the basis for a national army in the Central Asian state, ITAR-TASS reported on 2 February. Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev is scheduled to visit Tajikistan later in the week to discuss the status of the division, which recently started recruiting citizens of Tajikistan into its ranks. In January the Tajik government announced that irregular units loyal to the pro-Communist side in the civil war would form the basis for a national army. -Bess Brown ARMENIAN PRIME MINISTER FIRED. On 2 February Armenian President Levon Ter- Petrossyan signed a decree dismissing his prime minister, Khosrow Arutyunyan, for committing what was termed "a gross violation of etiquette" in criticizing the government's draft budget and economic plan for 1993 during a parliament debate, Western agencies reported. Arutyunyan's first deputy, Grant Bagratyan, who advocates radical reform and a swift transition to a market economy, has been appointed acting prime minister; a new government will be formed within a week. Arutyunyan's predecessor as prime minister had similarly threatened to resign in April 1992, when the Armenian parliament twice rejected his proposed plan for socio-economic development. -Liz Fuller CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE CONTROVERSY CONTINUES OVER PEACE PLAN FOR BOSNIA. Major American dailies on 3 February report that EC negotiator Lord Owen has called on Washington to back the plan drawn up by him and UN special envoy Cyrus Vance for the ex-Yugoslav republic. The Clinton administration is still reviewing policy options on Bosnia, and Secretary of State Warren Christopher has expressed some doubts about the Vance-Owen plan. The warring Bosnian parties open talks at the UN in New York on 4 February, as do representatives of both Croatia and its 12% Serbian minority. Supporters of the Vance- Owen proposal to divide Bosnia into ten cantons with a loose central government argue that it is the only workable plan under consideration. They point to the reluctance of the international community to propose alternatives or undertake military intervention to force the Serbs to give up their conquests. Critics charge that the plan sanctions the gains the Serbs have made through ethnic cleansing. Meanwhile, Newsday says that all three sides are trying to consolidate their positions on the ground. -Patrick Moore "YUGOSLAV" ARMY THREATENS TO INTERVENE IN CROATIA. Tanjug and Western news agencies on 2 February quoted rump Yugoslav Foreign Minister Ilija Djukic as saying that his government's troops could intervene in Croatia if Croats continue to attack the Serbian-held Krajina region or expand their campaign into Slavonia. The ex- Yugoslav military are part of the complex grouping of forces that have systematically worked together to establish a greater Serbian state ever since the Serbs began fighting in Croatia and Slovenia in 1991. Meanwhile, international media reported that the army has a more immediate task on its hands and has sent busses and drivers to provide public transportation in Belgrade. Some 2,000 public transportation workers staged a warning strike to demand higher pay and indexing to keep up with inflation. Rump Yugoslavia has an unemployment rate of 25% and an annual inflation rate of 20,000%. -Patrick Moore DANUBE SAGA. A meeting of Romanian and Ukrainian representatives will be held on 4-February in Odessa to discuss the UN embargo against oil shipments to rump Yugoslavia, Radio Bucharest reports. Rompres said that Romanian port authorities in Braila and Giurgiu continue to detain ten Serbian barges, most loaded with oil. Serb authorities detained four Romanian naval transports but later decided to let the ships continue on their route. officials of several Romanian ministries and the custom service discussed the embargo with Minister of State Dan Mircea Popescu, including taking delivery on the motorboats and surveillance systems offered by the US. Returning from Brussels, Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu said on 2 February that the EC has offered to help Romania enforce the UN sanctions and Reuters reports EC official Hans van den Broek promised to provide Romania with equipment to apply the sanctions. Michael Shafir GREECE TILTING TOWARD ACCOMMODATION ON MACEDONIA'S NAME? UPON HIS RETURN FROM AN EC FOREIGN MINISTERS' MEETING IN BRUSSELS ON 2 FEBRUARY, GREEK FOREIGN MINISTER MIHALIS PAPAKONSTANTINOU STATED THAT GREECE IS AGAINST INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION OF THE REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA "BY THE NAME MACEDONIA EXCLUSIVELY," AFP REPORTS. Some observers regard this as a subtle signal that Greece may be prepared to compromise on the name issue. -Duncan Perry CZECH, SLOVAK PARLIAMENTS APPROVE CURRENCY SPLIT. The parliaments of the Czech and Slovak Republics approved on 2 February laws on the separation of Czech and Slovak currencies. Under the laws, for every adult banks and post offices will exchange a maximum of 4,000 Czechoslovak koruny, the currency currently used by both states, for currency bearing government stamps. CTK reports that a Czech government decree issued after the adoption of the law specifies that the exchange in the Czech Republic will start on 4-February; the currency split itself will occur on 8 February. Czech Finance Minister Ivan Kocarnik told parliament that ending use of the Czechoslovak koruna as the common currency with Slovakia had been made necessary by divergent economic developments in the two republics. Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus and Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar appeared on their respective national television programs to announce the split. -Jiri Pehe HAVEL INAUGURATED. Vaclav Havel, elected to the post of Czech President on 26 January, took oath of office on 2 February at a ceremony at Prague Castle. Austrian President Thomas Klestil, Polish President Lech Walesa, Hungarian President Arpad Goncz, German President Richard von Weizscker, and Slovak Deputy Prime Minister Roman Kovac attended the ceremony. CTK reports that following the ceremony Walesa and Goncz met to discuss Polish-Hungarian relations and the future of the "Visegrad Quadrangle." -Jiri Pehe SPLIT IN SLOVAKIA'S RULING PARTY DEEPENS. Slovak Radio reported on 2 February that the leadership of the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia will meet on 6-February to discuss recent statements made by Slovak Foreign Minister Milan Knazko and Rudolf Filkus, members of the party's leadership. Knazko and Filkus have been critical of developments in the party, which is headed by Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar. At a press conference after a meeting of the party leadership on 2 February, Filkus told reporters that the party finds itself "at a crossroads." He warned that the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia could become a party that is trying to accumulate power and create tensions. In Filkus's opinion, the party should strive for a broad coalition with other parties and observe political agreements. In a statement given to CTK on 2 February, Filkus and Knazko echoed Filkus's earlier statements. They said that both of them favor a party based on democratic principles. -Jiri Pehe CONTROVERSY OVER INDEPENDENT CZECH TV CHANNEL. The 30 January decision of an independent board supervising Czech Radio and Television to allow an independent broadcasting company, CET 21, to become the principal TV broadcaster on the second channel currently used by Czech TV has led to a heated controversy. On 1 February, Mark Palmer-former adviser to President Ronald Reagan, later the US Ambassador to Hungary, and currently the president of CEDC, a US-based broadcasting corporation that backs the CET 21-project-told reporters that Czech TV should apologize to him for some of the negative comments it carried after the licensing of CET 21 was officially announced. Palmer said that the existence of independent press and TV "is the best guarantee of democracy." Vladimir Zelezny, a Czech representative of CET 21, told reporters that CET 21 is backed by personalities "who represent the best and most democratic circles among Western conservatives." Also on the 1st, the ruling Civic Democratic Party released a statement in which it asked the independent radio and TV board to reconsider its decision, terming it "hasty and politically dangerous." The statement says that the fact that people such as Palmer or Fedor Gal (the former chairman of the Slovak Public against Violence) are among the representatives of CET 21 "has politicized the whole matter" and could lead to "anti-Hungarian and anti-Slovak TV broadcasts in the Czech Republic. -Jiri Pehe HUNGARY-EFTA ACCORD INITIALED. The multilateral agreement between the European Free Trade Association and Hungary was initialed in Geneva on 2 February, MTI reports. According to Minister of International Economic Relations Bela Kadar, Hungary has so far signed bilateral accords regulating agricultural products with five EFTA members and hopes to reach agreement within a month with the sixth, Austria. -Alfred Reisch HUNGARY STARTS DISMANTLING NAGYMAROS PROJECT. Works to restore the original state of Hungary's partly completed site of the joint Danube dam and power plant project with the former Czechoslovakia began at Nagymaros on 2 February, MTI announced. The task will cost 7 billion forint (about $90 million), with the dismantling of the dam itself scheduled to begin in 1994. Julius Binder, director of the Slovak enterprise building the Gabcikovo waterworks, told Slovak Radio on 1 February that Hungary has no right to demolish the facility since the entire dam matter is to be turned over to the International Court of Justice in the Hague. Talks between Hungarian and Slovak legal and hydrological experts are scheduled to take place in Budapest on 4 February to hammer out the joint request to the court. -Alfred Reisch BULGARIA'S TOP BANKER SUBMITS RESIGNATION. Todor Valchev, head of the Bulgarian National Bank, has tendered his resignation, Bulgarian dailies reported on 2 February. It is the second time in less than one year that the 70-year-old chief banker has offered to step down. Last summer the National Assembly refused to accept Valchev's resignation following allegations of corruption. At a press conference last week he alleged that the Podkrepa trade union and the First Private Bank had tried to influence BNB policies, but he later declined to comment on the subject. Valchev said he plans to stay on until the summer so that parliament will have sufficient time to find a suitable successor. -Kjell Engelbrekt POLISH COALITION FRETS OVER BUDGET. The Sejm leadership announced that a special session devoted to the 1993 budget will be held on 12 February. The seven-party governing coalition met on 2-February for the second time in a week to stress the need for "100% discipline" in defending the government's proposals. To mollify the liberals, the coalition decided to forego raising the highest income tax bracket from 40% to 50%. A spokesman described as "speculation" rumors that Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka is planning to link the budget vote to a vote of confidence in the government. In other parliamentary news, two senators were stopped by police on 2 February but refused to take a drunk-driving test, citing their immunity from prosecution. A number of similar incidents have occurred in recent months. Meanwhile, Deputy Sejm Speaker Andrzej Kern announced he will not give up his leadership post, despite criticism arising from two scandals: his alleged attempt to induce a Lodz prosecutor to press charges against his daughter's boyfriend when his daughter ran away from home, and allegations by the author of a steamy best-seller on the private lives of parliamentarians, Erotic Immunities, that he forced her to have sex with him. -Louisa Vinton ROMANIA PRODUCING NUCLEAR FUEL. Officials say Romania is producing fuel for its first nuclear reactor, which is expected to start operating at Cernavoda in 1994. The general manager of Renel, the official electricity authority, told Reuters on 1-February that Romania can produce about 180 tons of uranium fuel per year. Another Renel official quoted by Rompres said the fuel is manufactured at the plant at Pitesti. Operation of the reactor at Cernavoda depends on the supply of heavy water, which will be produced to a large extent by a plant at Drobeta-Turnu Severin, with the rest of needed heavy water purchased elsewhere, he added. -Michael Shafir UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT BEGINS NEW SESSION. The seventh session of the Ukrainian parliament opened on 2 February with the economy as the first item on the agenda, Radio Ukraine and ITAR-TASS report. Lawmakers heard Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economics Viktor Pynzennyk present the government's proposed measures on the economy for the current year. Some deputies are reported to have criticized the plan, although it is said to have overall support. A parliamentary decree adopted last fall allows the government to undertake economic reform measures without parliamentary approval. -Roman Solchanyk TURKEY PLAYING "CONSTRUCTIVE ROLE" IN MOLDOVA. Moldova's presidential office has told the RFE/RL Research Institute that Turkey is playing a "constructive role" in encouraging the Gagauz to settle for the autonomy offered by Chisinau as opposed to a Gagauz republic, as demanded by the Russian-oriented intransigent faction. In a success for the moderates, the Gagauz leadership resolved on 29-January to change Gagauz writing from Cyrillic to Latin script, thus facilitating improved ties with both Chisinau and Turkey, and formed a delegation to complete negotiations with Chisinau over a draft autonomy statute now found broadly acceptable by both sides. Turkey announced on 30 January that it will dispatch a convoy of humanitarian aid to Moldova, most of it destined for the Gagauz-inhabited area. -Vladimir Socor GEORGIA, MOLDOVA ON ABKHAZIA-"DNIESTER" ALLIANCE. In similarly worded statements reported by ITAR-TASS and Basapress on 29 and 30 January, the Georgian and Moldovan foreign ministries said that the Abkhazia-"Dniester" alliance treaty just signed in Tiraspol promotes armed conflict, seeks to consolidate unlawful power structures within states, and violates national and international law as well as the spirit and goals of the UN and the CSCE. The precedent being set is potentially dangerous to the international system as a whole, the statements said. -Vladimir Socor LITHUANIAN PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN. With less than two weeks left before the 14-February elections for Lithuania's president, candidates Algirdas Brazauskas and Stasys Lozoraitis have been campaigning actively throughout the republic. Academician Raimundas Rajeckas heads the Brazauskas's campaign team, while Valdas Adamkus, an official of the US Environment Protection Agency, leads the Lozoraitis campaign. On 2 February Social Democratic Party leaders called for a broad coalition with Lozoraitis as president and Brazauskas as prime minister, the RFE/RL Lithuanian Service reports. Election polls indicate that Brazauskas is running ahead except in Kaunas. -Saulius Girnius LITHUANIAN GOVERNMENT APPOINTMENTS. The government announced the formation of an eleven-member state delegation for negotiations on trade and economic cooperation for 1993 with Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan, BNS reported on 2 February. It is headed by Minister of Industry and Trade Albertas Sinevicius. Also appointed were representatives to various international organizations: Foreign Affairs Minister Povilas Gylys to the EC's PHARE program, Bank of Lithuania Chairman Vilius Baldisis to the IMF, and Finance Minister Eduardas Vilkelis to the World Bank and EBRD. Economics Minister Julius Veselka was appointed deputy representative to all four organizations. -Saulius Girnius LITHUANIAN LIBERAL UNION CONGRESS. On 30-January the Lithuanian Liberal Union held an extraordinary Congress at which its chairman, philosopher Vytautas Radzvilas, proposed that businessman Sarunas Davainis replace him as party leader, the RFE/RL Lithuanian Service reported on 31 January. The Congress approved the proposal and made other amendments to the union's statutes. The change in leadership will help the union, which failed to have any of its candidates elected to the Seimas, focus more on practical work of bringing its ideas to the general public instead of intellectual work on the idea of liberalism. Radzvilas was reelected to the union's council and will probably remain in charge of its ideology. -Saulius Girnius VILNIUS ASKS FOR PARFENOV. Lithuanian prosecutor's office investigator Antanas Stepucinskas says that Lithuania will ask Latvia to hand over Sergei Parfenov, former OMON deputy commander in Riga, for questioning on the destruction of the Lithuanian customs post at Smelyne on 23 May 1991, BNS reported on 1 February. Latvian Procurator General Janis Skrastins said that a formal request for extradition has not been received from Lithuania, but if such a request is made and it is well founded, the response may be positive, Diena reported on 1 February. Parfenov was sentenced to two years imprisonment on 14 December 1992, but according to the provisions of the Latvian-Russian protocol on the extradition of criminals signed on 16 January 1993, he might be allowed to serve his sentence in Russia. -Saulius Girnius & Dzintra Bungs LATVIANS MAY DECLINE CITIZENSHIP. Latvians may now either choose or refuse citizenship. On 2-February the Supreme Council decided that those residents of Latvia who qualify for citizenship may decline that citizenship, Diena reports. The deputies, filling one of several gaps in the citizenship laws, approved a temporary procedure whereby a citizen may request to have his citizenship revoked. -Dzintra Bungs SEVENTEEN RUSSIAN VESSELS SUNK IN LATVIAN HARBORS. BNS reported that 12 ships and 5 submarines of the Russian navy sunk in Latvian harbors during the storms in January. The Latvian environmental protection commission is demanding the Russian navy to pay fines of $5000 for not informing the Latvian authorities about the sunken vessels and the resultant oil spills. The commission also said that the possibility that the vessels had been sunk on purpose by the navy also cannot be ruled out, since naval officials had described them as being in poor condition. The commission also ordered the Latvian sea inspectorate to clean up the damage but the inspectorate cannot comply due to lack of necessary equipment. -Dzintra Bungs RUSSIAN ASSEMBLY CHAIRMAN: ESTONIAN CITIZENSHIP LAW IS OK. The chairman of the newly established Russian-Speakers' Representative Assembly in Estonia says Estonia's citizenship law does not discriminate against immigrants, according to Hommikuleht of 2-February. "It's more a question of the limitation of the interests of noncitizens," Nikola Yugantsev told reporters. The Assembly was established last week by Russian-speakers in Estonia as a lawful means to influence politics. -Riina Kionka MOSCOW MAN ASKS ESTONIA FOR ASYLUM. A Russian from Moscow has applied for political asylum at the Estonian embassy in that city, BNS reported on 2 February. The young man was hoping to avoid a possible conviction for evading the draft in Russia. Embassy authorities have reportedly turned down the request. -Riina Kionka [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba 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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