|To appreciate nonsense requires a serious interest in life. - Gelett Burgess|
No. 24, 05 February 1993
RUSSIA MORE OPPOSITION TO RUSSIAN REFERENDUM. Leaders of the centrist faction "Smena" said at a press conference attended by an RFE/RL correspondent on 4-February that the referendum on the new constitution should be abandoned because it will cost more than 20-billion rubles and will destabilize Russian politics. They appealed to President Yeltsin to back away from the idea of holding a referendum. Parliamentary speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov and the head of the Constitutional Court, Valerii Zorkin, have recently spoken out against holding the referendum. The leaders of "Smena" were supported by the influential deputies' faction, "Sovereignty and Equality," which consists of representatives of the republics. The faction's spokesman, Umar Temirov, said that the referendum would only increase inter-ethnic tensions. -Alexander Rahr HEADS OF LOCAL ADMINISTRATIONS AGAINST REFERENDUM. Concern over holding the 11 April referendum was also expressed by heads of local administrations, Kommersant reported on 2 February. Local political leaders said some of Russia's republics and regions could include in the referendum additional questions aimed at increasing their sovereignty. If this happens, separatist tendencies in the Russian Federation would further increase, heads of local administrations argued. Similar concern has been expressed by the secretary of the Constitutional Commission Oleg Rumyatsev and Yeltsin's political adviser Sergei Stankevich. -Vera Tolz CIVIC UNION CHALLENGES YELTSIN. The chief ideologist of the Civic Union, Vasilii Lipitsky, complained in an interview with Megapolis-Express on 3February that President Yeltsin had rejected the offer to cooperate with the Civic Union, and has not permitted Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin-a member of the Civic Union-to form his own government. Lipitsky criticized Chernomyrdin for not having abandoned the policies of the former head of government, Egor Gaidar. He suggested that new parliamentary and presidential elections be held this October. He also stated that the Civic Union would endorse its own candidate for president, but that instead of being selected by the Civic Union leadership, this candidate should be elected at a congress of the various parties belonging to the Civic Union. -Alexander Rahr KOZYREV FAVORS VANCE-OWEN PLAN IN BOSNIA-HERCEGOVINA. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev told reporters in Moscow on 4 February that "the entire weight of the Security Council and the power of sanctions should be placed behind" the Vance-Owen peace plan for Bosnia-Hercegovina, AFP reported. Kozyrev was quoted as saying that sanctions should be "imposed against any side that refuses to go along with the principles of the plan." His remarks followed a meeting with Canadian Secretary of State for External Affairs, Barbara McDougall. -Stephen Foye YELTSIN DRESSES DOWN TOP ECONOMICS OFFICIALS. At a meeting of the presidium of the Russian Council of Ministers on 4 February, President Yeltsin sharply criticized the work of several top economic policy-makers, ITAR-TASS and various Western news agencies reported. Yeltsin said that the Ministry of Economics, headed by Andrei Nechaev, had done little in the way of formulating investment and restructuring policy despite a crumbling economy. He called on the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations, led by Sergei Glaziev, to expeditiously produce more aggressive policies for supporting exports, encouraging foreign investment, controlling capital flight and reestablishing trade with Eastern Europe. Yeltsin also reprimanded the Central Bank, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Economics for working at cross purposes. He reserved particular criticism for the Central Bank's "crude mistake and adventurism" of overly lax credit policies. -Erik Whitlock DISSATISFACTION WITH DEVELOPMENT OF DEFENSE INDUSTRY. The presidium of the Russian Council of Ministers apparently could not reach an agreement concerning the future goals of the defense conversion program on 4 February, according to ITAR-TASS. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin criticized the chairman of the Committee on the Defense Industry, Viktor Glukhikh, for his poor report on performance in this area, and ordered him to prepare a more in-depth study. President Yeltsin found fault with the general direction of conversion, saying that policy had gone too far in reducing arms production and not far enough to encourage arms exports, the Los Angeles Times reported. Meanwhile, speaking in Nizhnyi Novgorod, Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi called for more investment in the military-industrial complex, to "preserve the technological potential of the country concentrated in these branches." -Erik Whitlock CENTRAL BANK SUPPORTED RUBLE WITH $1 BILLION. The Russian Central Bank has revealed that it spent some $1 billion last year to support the ruble, AFP reported. In the first half of 1992, Central Bank sales of dollars made up about 60% of the volume traded on the Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange. In the second half of the year, this share dropped to 30%. The interventions were, in any case, ineffective in halting the ruble's depreciation. The ruble-dollar exchange rate rose from 140 on 1 July, 1992 to the present 572. -Erik Whitlock YELTSIN PLEDGES NO RUSSIAN SUBMARINES TO ENTER SWEDISH WATERS. Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt met with Russian President Yeltsin in Moscow and signed an agreement setting out the basic principles for Russian-Swedish relations, the RIA press agency reported on 4 February. Asked by a reporter about the alleged intrusions by Russian submarines into Swedish waters which triggered a diplomatic incident in September 1992, Yeltsin stated that no Russian submarines will intentionally enter Swedish waters. The Russian government, like the Soviet government before it, has denied any responsibility for the reported intrusions. -John Lepingwell RUSSIAN NAVY REPORTS ALL TACTICAL NUCLEAR WEAPONS WITHDRAWN. The Russian Navy issued an official statement on 4 February declaring that all naval tactical nuclear weapons have been removed from Russian fleets. The withdrawal was declared by Soviet President Gorbachev on 5 October 1991, and subsequently reaffirmed by Russian President Yeltsin. The statement was carried by ITAR-TASS. -John Lepingwell SENIOR GENERAL STAFF OFFICER ARRESTED FOR COMPUTER THEFT. The Moscow police and the Prosecutor of the Moscow garrison have arrested the chief of the department of the Russian General Staff responsible for the protection of classified information, Ostankino TV and ITAR-TASS reported on 4 February. The officer, whose name was not immediately released, was accused of stealing computer equipment from the General Staff building. The criminal police have stated that they arrested the officer only after having obtained proof of the officer's involvement in the affair. The police also managed to recover the stolen equipment valued at over 800,000 rubles. The criminal police said, however, that it did not appear that any classified information contained in the computer software had been leaked. -Victor Yasmann FREEDOM OF TRAVEL STILL NOT A REALITY FOR MOST RUSSIANS. After waiting two years for the law on free entry and exit to come into effect, Russian citizens trying to leave Moscow's international airport encountered problems in January. The May 1991 USSR law on free travel came into force on 1 January 1993, but on 22 December 1992, parliament adopted a resolution modifying the law during a transition period that will end on 1 March 1993, ITAR-TASS reported on 3-February. These regulations appear to have been imprecise, and they have left citizens and authorities in some confusion as to current exit regulations. According to an earlier AFP report on 24-January, Russian citizens with passports for foreign travel issued after 1 January will not need an exit visa, but these passports do not yet exist. Holders of the old passports still need an exit visa, although this is now called a stamp rather than a visa. The state security organs can still legally prohibit a citizen from leaving the country on the grounds that he has had prior access to state secrets. Starting on 1-January, invitations have no longer been necessary for exit visas, but as of 1 March, a new passport will cost 5,000 rubles. -Sheila Marnie TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA TAJIKISTAN CONSIDERS NEW ELECTIONS. The deputy chairman of Tajikistan's Supreme Soviet, Abdumadzhid Dostiev, told visiting journalists on 4-February that the country's present government is considering holding general elections at all levels if the situation stabilizes further, ITAR-TASS reported. He also repeated earlier official claims that most of the country is now under government control, and absolved Afghanistan's government of blame for the continuing instability of the Tajik-Afghan border. According to Dostiev, the return of Tajik refugees from northern Afghanistan has been hampered by Kabul's lack of control over the region. -Bess Brown RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER IN DUSHANBE. Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev arrived in Dushanbe on 4 February to discuss the status of the Russian 201st Motorized Division which has been stationed in Tajikistan throughout that country's civil war, ITAR-TASS reported. Grachev also discussed Russian assistance to Tajikistan in creating a national army under the terms of the collective security agreement signed at a CIS summit in 1992. On the same day, the chief of Tajikistan's National Security Committee warned that the armed opposition still controls the region around the town of Garm, one of the main centers of the Islamic movement, and it cannot be ruled out that they will launch a spring offensive against government forces. -Bess Brown OFFICIAL CASUALTY FIGURES CITED FOR TAJIK CIVIL WAR. The civil war that raged in parts of Tajikistan during the last half of 1992 claimed around 20,000 lives, representatives of Tajik law enforcement organizations told correspondents on 4 February. ITAR-TASS noted that this figure does not include persons who disappeared without trace. The same source cited a figure of approximately 200,000 people who have become refugees as a result of the fighting, but did not include an estimate of how many of those have fled to Afghanistan. The number of armed opposition fighters who are still active was estimated at 700 to 800. -Bess Brown SITUATION IN NORTH OSSETIA AND INGUSHETIA REMAINS TENSE. The situation in North Ossetia and Ingushetia remains tense despite the presence of Russian MVD troops, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 February. Illegal armed formations have not been disbanded, and the exchange of hostages by both sides has come to a halt. The North Ossetian parliament is scheduled to debate possible solutions to the conflict on 9 February. -Liz Fuller CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE IZETBEGOVIC CALLS FOR WESTERN AIR STRIKES. The 5 February Washington Post quotes Bosnian president Alija Izetbegovic as again urging air strikes against Serb positions in his embattled republic. He also stresses, however, that Bosnia does not want foreign ground troops but simply the lifting of the arms embargo to enable Bosnia to defend itself. Izetbegovic rejects the Vance-Owen plan, which he says would reward ethnic cleansing. The New York Times notes that the two international mediators call for "appointing four ombudsmen to hear citizens' complaints" about ethnic cleansing and for "citizens to be able to call for the internationally supervised redeployment of armed forces in their area if these cause them trouble." Defenders of the plan, which would divide Bosnia into ten loosely linked cantons, stress that it is the only package on offer. Meanwhile, international media report continued fighting in Sarajevo, northern Bosnia, and Croatia's Krajina region, as well as tension in eastern Slavonia. -Patrick Moore OPPOSITION TO TUDJMAN IN THE CROATIAN MILITARY? THE 5 FEBRUARY FRANKFURTER ALLGEMEINE ZEITUNG SAYS THAT UNNAMED TOP MILITARY PERSONNEL FEEL THAT PRESIDENT FRANJO TUDJMAN'S DECISION TO BACK THE VANCE-OWEN DIVISION OF BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA IS UNWISE AND REFLECTS THE OVERLY STRONG INFLUENCE OF HIS HERZEGOVINIAN ADVISORS. The generals say that granting the Serbs a corridor across northern Bosnia would harm Croatia's strategic interests, and that the plan is doomed to fail because it would be at the expense of the republic's largest single ethnic group, the Muslims. The military stress the importance of the Croat-Muslim alliance, which Tudjman is known to regard with distaste. Views similar to those of the generals are widely held in Tudjman's own party, the Croatian Democratic Community. -Patrick Moore CONTINUING DANUBE SAGA. In talks in Odessa on 4 February Romanian and Ukrainian officials agreed on ways of implementing sanctions against rump Yugoslavia, Vladimir Yelchenko, an official of the Ukrainian foreign ministry told RFE/RL's Moscow correspondent. The two sides agreed on measures to prevent sanction-breaking on the Danube. The memorandum calls for international teams in the Ukrainian ports of Reni and Ismail to help implement the embargo and compensation for losses suffered by the two countries as a result of the embargo. Radio Bucharest reports that rump Yugoslavia continues to detain four Romanian tugboats and 21 barges and quoted a Belgrade official's challenge: Romanian ships will not be allowed through "if our ships cannot navigate." -Michael Shafir VOJOVDINA LEADER CLARIFIES AUTONOMY ISSUE. In an interview with Borba on 26-January, Andras Agoston, leader of the Democratic Community of Vojvodina Hungarians (DZVM), explained that terms such as "parliament of the Hungarian minority" and "ethnic Hungarian autonomy" mentioned in a press release issued after a meeting of the DZVM are basically meaningless. He stressed that the DZVM's political activities are still confined to legally constituted governmental bodies and that the DZVM will continue to negotiate with Serbia over autonomy in a "peaceful and democratic" way, without outside mediation. -Milan Andrejevich MACEDONIAN SHORTS. In Rome on 4 February, after meeting with his Macedonian counterpart, Branko Crvenovski, Italian Prime Minister Giuliano Amato announced that his country will soon break with other EC nations and recognize the former Yugoslav republic. "We realize we should continue to show our solidarity with the European Community, but we can no longer be co-responsible for this injustice of not recognizing Macedonia," he said. Reuters also reports that the Greek government now says that its dispute with the republic over its name should be submitted to binding international arbitration. Radio Slovenia reported on 2 February that Macedonia has opened its first diplomatic mission abroad, a consulate in Ljubljana; Stefan Nikolovski is the Macedonian Consul-General in Slovenia. President Zhelyu Zhelev of Bulgaria-which recognized Macedonia a year ago- plans a one-day unofficial visit to Skopje on 5 February. Meanwhile, international agencies report that 60-Scandinavian troops, the first of a planned UN contingent of 680, arrived in Macedonia to patrol its borders with Albania and the Serbian province of Kosovo. -Charles Trumbull and Milan Andrejevich BELARUS RATIFIES START-1 TREATY. After a four-hour debate the Parliament on 4-February ratified a number of key arms control agreements, according to ITAR-TASS and Reuters. The 360-member parliament passed the START-1 treaty and Lisbon protocol by a 218-to 1 vote, with 60 members abstaining, despite an earlier call by the 130 member Belarus faction for a delay in ratification. The parliament also ratified the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, an agreement with Russia on the status of the nuclear weapons in Belarus, and an agreement coordinating Russian and Belarusian military activities. Deputies reportedly were critical of the accords governing the withdrawal of the 81 SS-25 missiles to Russia, where they are to be redeployed, and demanded more Belarusian control of the process. Belarus has called for the weapons to be removed by the end of 1994. -John Lepingwell BELARUS LIFTS "SUSPENSION" ON CP. On 4 February the Supreme Soviet repealed a resolution of 25-August 1991 temporarily suspending the activity of the Communist Party in the republic, Belinform-TASS reports. The resolution, however, confirmed that the property of the Communist Party will be retained by the state. -Bohdan Nahaylo WALESA PROVOKES CONFLICT WITH GOVERNMENT. President Lech Walesa used a meeting of his culture council on 4 February to announce his refusal to name Zbigniew Klajnert as culture minister. Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka nominated Klajnert, a professor of geography and glacier specialist at Lodz University, on 4 January. The ministry was allotted to the Christian National Union in the original division of cabinet posts in July 1992, but remained unfilled because the candidate was ill. Walesa's decision opens a clear conflict with the government, as the "little constitution" gives the president a voice only in the choice of the ministers of defense, internal affairs, and foreign affairs. In other cases, the president is expected to appoint the prime minister's nominee. Suchocka's spokesman said she would return to the matter in a meeting with Walesa; it was clear a forceful protest had been lodged with Belweder. Walesa apparently voiced no objections to Klajnert's candidacy when it was originally proposed. Coalition members expressed bewilderment at Walesa's action, coming at a time when he needs all the political friends he can get. -Louisa Vinton SEJM DEPUTIES LOSE IMMUNITY. The Sejm voted by large margins on 4 February to lift two deputies' parliamentary immunity. The first, Maciej Zalewski, is accused of using his post in the president's national security office to extort funds from the infamous Art-B firm. Prosecutors charge that Zalewski also tipped off Art-B's owners about the police investigation against them, enabling them to flee to Israel, where they remain. Zalewski asked the Sejm to lift his immunity so that he could clear his name. The other deputy, Jozef Pawlak, is charged with using a company called Florida Travel, Inc. to swindle would-be travelers. Pawlak called the charges against him "political persecution" and opposed the Sejm's decision. The Sejm has voted to lift immunity only once before, when a postcommunist deputy was involved. The current decision suggests that the Sejm sees the need to take action to dispel the aura of scandal that surrounds it. -Louisa Vinton CZECH FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS SLOVAKIA. During his first trip to Slovakia since the split of Czechoslovakia, Josef Zieleniec met on 4 February with Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar and Foreign Minister Milan Knazko. Slovak and Czech media report that Meciar told Zieleniec that Slovakia was afraid that various customs measures that are being introduced by the Czech Republic could limit the exchange of goods between the two states. Meciar and Zieleniec also agreed that the Czech and Slovak republics should closely cooperate within the framework of the Visegrad Quadrangle initiative. Meciar said that this would give the two states the advantage "of having two votes where we used to have only one." Zieleniec and Knazko signed an agreement on cooperation in consular services. Under the agreement, the foreign missions of either state will provide emergency aid to Czech and Slovak citizens lacking diplomatic representation in the country. The also agreed that their countries would open diplomatic missions in Prague and Bratislava on 1 March. -Jiri Pehe SLOVAK HUNGARIAN PARTIES' MEMO TO COUNCIL OF EUROPE. A 21-point memorandum, the main objective of which is to list conditions that should be fulfilled by Slovakia before it can be admitted to the Council of Europe, was signed on 4 February by the leaders of four Hungarian ethnic parties in Slovakia-the Coexistence, the Hungarian Christian Democratic Movement, the Hungarian Civic Party, and the Hungarian People's Party. Slovak media and CTK report that the memorandum calls attention to what it terms the discrimination against Hungarians in the laws on rehabilitation and land ownership and demands that the discriminatory provisions be abolished. These laws, the memorandum claims, do not make possible the restitution of property confiscated from Hungarians between 1945 and 1948 and prevent them from getting back more than 50 hectares of land per person. The memorandum also demands amendment of some Slovak laws, such as those on language and birth records, that allegedly contravene regulations and resolutions passed by the Council of Europe. -Jiri Pehe HUNGARIAN-SLOVAK TALKS ON GABCIKOVO. No compromise could be reached at the 4-February talks in Budapest between Hungarian and Slovak experts about the quantity of water Slovakia is to return into the original bed of the Danube, MTI and Radio Budapest report. Instead of the 90% agreed upon last year in London, Hungary will now accept 60- 80% in summertime and 50% otherwise., while Slovakia proposed to return only 25-30%. The legal question of whether both the Czech Republic and Slovakia or Slovakia alone would turn with Hungary to the Hague International Court could not be solved either, putting into doubt a 9 February meeting in Brussels between the Slovak and Hungarian state secretaries for foreign affairs. -Alfred Reisch UKRAINE TO OPEN CONSULATE IN HUNGARY. In addition to its embassy in Budapest, Ukraine will open a consulate in Nyiregyhaza, MTI announced on 4-February. Hungary already has a consulate in Uzhgorod in Ukraine's Transcarpathian oblast, where some 160,000 ethnic Magyars live. The new consulate could open as early as February during the visit of Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk. -Alfred Reisch KUCHMA IN THE CRIMEA. Ukrainian Prime Minister Leonid Kuchma arrived in the Crimea on 4 February for meetings with the top leadership of the peninsula, Radio Ukraine reports. The trip to the Crimea follows a visit to the Donbass last week. The report says that Kuchma is devoting personal attention to those regions of the country particularly troubled by social, economic, or political problems. -Roman Solchanyk UKRAINE CONVERTING TANKS UNDER CFE ACCORD. ITAR-TASS reported on 4 February that Ukraine started converting 80 T-54, T-55, and T-62 tanks for civilian use, as provided for under the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty. The tanks are being converted at the Lvov tank repair plant, with international monitoring. Ukraine must destroy or convert over 2000 tanks under the agreement. Belarus has also recently begun destroying treaty-limited equipment. -John Lepingwell MOLDOVAN-RUSSIAN TROOP TALKS. First Deputy Commander in Chief of the Ground Forces of the Russian Federation Col.-Gen. Eduard Vorobev and Moldovan Defense Minister Lt.-Gen. Pavel Creanga are holding a fourth round of talks in Chisinau on the withdrawal of Russia's 14th Army from Moldova, and have announced that Presidents Boris Yeltsin and Mircea Snegur will meet in Moscow on 10 February to sign the agreement, Basapress reports. Russia's high command and the 14th Army command have often claimed that most of that army's servicemen are "local residents" who will stay there when the Army is withdrawn. In fact, those were assigned to Moldova from various parts of the ex-USSR in the last few years. -Vladimir Socor EX-COMMUNIST TO HEAD MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT. Petru Lucinschi, First Secretary of the Moldovan Communist Party in 1989-91, was overwhelmingly elected chairman of the Moldovan Parliament on 4-February. He replaces Alexandru Mosanu, who was forced to resign on 29 January along with three other pro-Romanian parliamentary leaders. Lucinschi, 53, has the reputation of a liberal reformer and a flexible consensus- builder who was promoted steadily under Gorbachev. In his inaugural address in parliament he pledged to focus on settling the Dniester conflict politically and on pursuing balanced relations with Romania and Russia. -Vladimir Socor ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT OPPOSES MOLDOVAN REFERENDUM. The Chamber of Deputies passed a resolution on 4 February asking leaders in neighboring Moldova to call off plans for a referendum on the unification of the two countries as "inappropriate." Western agencies reported that, like supporters of unification in Moldova, the Romanian legislators fear the Moldovans would reject the idea if it were put to vote now. Public opinion polls have consistently showed low support for the unification among the Moldovan population. -Michael Shafir ROMANIA LIFTS BAN ON MINORITY NEWS BROADCASTS. State TV has lifted the ban on news in the Hungarian and German languages instituted on 1-February. TV Director-General Paul Everac said in a letter to his German-language department, quoted by Western agencies on 4 February, that there are "no problems whatsoever" with its programming. The ban evoked protests from national minorities and by Hungarian and German journalists employed by state TV. -Michael Shafir BULGARIAN CABINET ADOPTS "PLAN OF ACTION." The government led by Prime Minister Lyuben Berov on 4 February presented its "plan of action" for 1993, BTA reports. In the first half of the 80-page document, the cabinet outlines its priorities and expectations in the economic sector. Large-scale privatization, at the top of Berov's agenda, is to be launched in April. Besides trying to arrest the steep fall in overall economic output, the government intends to concentrate its efforts on the specific problems of agriculture, light industry, tourism, and parts of the machine-building and chemical industries. The government foresees a 4% drop in GDP during 1993, a 90-100% inflation rate, and a 6-9% budget deficit. The second part of the plan describes the goals of each ministry and government agency. Among priority issues, more funds will be made available to the police and the armed forces. -Kjell Engelbrekt MOSCOW CITY VS ESTONIA, LATVIA. Acting on the proposal of Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, the city government has suspended economic contacts with Estonia and Latvia, Kommersant reported on 3 February. The decision was prompted by Luzhkov's accusations that human rights of "Russian-speakers" are being violated in the two countries. Luzhkov recommended that Russian government institutions take similar steps. -Dzintra Bungs LATVIA DETAINS RUSSIAN HELICOPTER. A Russian MI-8 helicopter that crossed without permission into Latvian airspace from Estonia on 29 January and landed in Ventspils, is being detained by the Latvian border guards. The pilot has been fined 2000 Latvian rubles. The border guards at Ventspils have announced that they intend to confiscate the helicopter, Diena reported on 4 February. -Dzintra Bungs COURT DECISIONS ON SEIMAS ELECTIONS. On 4-February the Collegium for Civic Affairs of the Lithuanian Supreme Court rescinded the decision of the Chief Elections Commission that gave the seat in the 22nd electoral district for the Seimas to Sajudis candidate Stasys Malkevicius instead of Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party candidate Ricardas Zurinskas, Radio Lithuania reports. The collegium had made similar decisions in December and January on other disputed seats. The CEC, however, has refused to comply with the rulings, which would raise the number of LDLP deputies in the 141-member Seimas from 73 to 75 and reduce the Sajudis deputies from 30 to 28. -Saulius Girnius [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Hal Kosiba and Charles Trumbull
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