|Words that open our eyes to the world are always the easiest to remember. - Ryszard Kapuscinski|
No. 47, 10 March 1993
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Inc. RUSSIA CONGRESS TO REVIEW CONSTITIONALITY OF YELTSIN GOVERNMENT. The Eighth session of the Russian Congress of People's Deputies opened in the Kremlin on 10 March and was broadcast live on Russian Television. In his opening speech, chairman Ruslan Khasbulatov, condemned those "high officials" who threaten society with using unconstitutional means to resolve the current political and economic crisis. (Khasbulatov's statement clearly referred to Russian President Boris Yeltsin.) Yeltsin's supporters attempted to exclude from the agenda discussion of whether Russia's top officials have acted in accord with the Constitution; after two votes it was decided by a small majority to include the issue on the agenda. The Congress, however, rejected the suggestion of a conservative deputy to schedule debate on appealing to the Constitutional Court to review Yeltsin's public statements in an effort to determine if they were in line with the constitution. Julia Wishnevsky KHASBULATOV WARNS YELTSIN. On the eve of the Congress of People's Deputies, Ruslan Khasbulatov told journalists that the leadership of the parliament will seek a dialogue with the executive and a way out of the political crisis, Ostankino TV reported on 9 March. Khasbulatov said that he personally agrees with the referendum questions proposed by Boris Yeltsin but does not know whether the Congress accepts them. He stated that Yeltsin must bear responsibility for a possible failure of the referendum if too few people show up at the polls. He added that a failure of the referendum will further destabilize the political situation in Russia. Alexander Rahr YELTSIN DENIES INTENTION TO DISSOLVE THE CONGRESS. At a meeting with Russian lawmakers on 9 March, Yeltsin denied that he intends to break up either the Congress of People's Deputies, the parliament, or local soviets, Russian TV reported on 9 March. Yeltsin claimed that the allegations of that sort are "planted" by his conservative opponents in order to discredit reformers. According to Yeltsin, when he told his radical supporters that the president had a "third" and unconstitutional option to resolve the current constitutional crises, he had not meant a military coup but rather something like the adoption of a law on government. At a separate press briefing, Ruslan Khasbulatov dismissed the idea of such a law, saying that Russia already had the law on government, i.e., the Constitution. Julia Wishnevsky ROUNDTABLE URGES RESTRAINT. Representatives of the four main political blocs of Russia (Civic Union, New Russia, Democratic Choice and Russian Unity) organized a "roundtable" meeting on 9 March in preparation for the start of the Congress of People's Deputies. ITAR-TASS described the "roundtable" as "unusually representative," since it was attended by figures from groups as diverse as the revived Communist Party and the most radical wing of Democratic Russia. The participants adopted an appeal to President Yeltsin and the Congress, in which, warning of the threat of dictatorship, they called on both sides to show "maximum responsibility and caution and to restrain from any actions which flout the constitution." Wendy Slater ASSURANCES OF THE ARMY'S NEUTRALITY. In remarks to reporters on 9 March, Defense Minister Pavel Grachev gave assurances once again that the army would remain neutral during the Congress of People's Deputies. ITAR-TASS and Russian television quoted Grachev as saying that the Army had not put a single unit on alert before the last Congress and that it would follow the same procedures for this one. He denied rumors that the Defense Ministry and Air Force commands were preparing a missile attack against key targets during the proceedings. Stephen Foye YELTSIN PLANS TO HOLD PLEBISCITE. First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Shumeiko told reporters on 9-March that President Yeltsin is preparing to go ahead with a plebiscite if the Congress cancels the 11 April referendum and rejects the president's new power-sharing proposals, Russian and Western news agencies reported. Shumeiko said that a governmental commission had already made preparations for such a plebiscite and had drafted the necessary presidential and governmental decrees. The vote, he said, may include questions in addition to those already proposed by Yeltsin. Shumeiko noted that although the plebiscite would not have the force of law, it would act as "a powerful lever" and would "allow the president to lean on the opinion of the people." Wendy Slater PARLIAMENT DISMISSES YELTSIN'S QUESTIONS. At its last session, held on 9 March, the parliament refused to pronounce judgment on the questions suggested by Yeltsin to be put on the 11 April referendum. Instead, the parliament ruled that this problem should be decided by the Congress of People's Deputies, Russian TV reported. Julia Wishnevsky MEETING OF COUNCIL OF HEADS OF REPUBLICS. The meeting of the Council of Heads of Republics on 9-March chaired by Yeltsin discussed both the imminent Eighth Congress of People's Deputies and the implementation of the federal treaty, ITAR-TASS reported. According to Yeltsin, the Council decided to appeal to the Congress to draw up and adopt a law on the principles of and mechanism for implementing the treaty and suggested that a commission be set up for this purpose chaired by the president. Ann Sheehy LEADERS OF REPUBLICS, KRAIS, AND OBLASTS CALL FOR CANCELLATION OF REFERENDUM. In appeals made on 9 March to the Eighth Congress of People's Deputies, Yeltsin, deputies, and the Constitutional Court, the heads of the soviets of the republics, krais, oblasts, autonomous formations, and the cities of Moscow and St.-Petersburg called for the cancellation of the referendum, ITAR-TASS reported. They described the referendum as ill-prepared and said that the resolution of the Seventh Congress decreeing the referendum had not found mass support among the populace. They warned that the holding of the referendum could have unforeseen consequences, citing the negative results of Gorbachev's referendum of March 1991. Yeltsin told a meeting of deputies from a wide political spectrum that the leaders of the republics, krais, and oblasts were proposing that no referendums, elections, or other political measures be held in 1993-4. Ann Sheehy US ASSISTANCE TO CIS FOR NUCLEAR DISMANTLING ASSESSED. The New York Times and Reuters reported on March 10 varying assessments of the effectiveness of US efforts in assisting nuclear disarmament in the former Soviet Union. Major General William Burns, responsible for discussions with CIS states noted that there remained substantial uncertainties concerning the disposition of the plutonium from the weapons and that a final agreement for the US to purchase highly enriched uranium from the warheads had not yet been signed, despite earlier Russian reports that it had. Burns also noted that negotiations were being hampered by Russia's continuing concerns over secrecy and its belief that the plutonium from the warheads has significant commercial value. John Lepingwell FIRST CANDIDATES FOR BANKRUPTCY? ON 9 MARCH, THE INDUSTRIAL POLICY COMMITTEE OF THE RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT DREW UP ITS FIRST LIST OF ENTERPRISES TO BE CONSIDERED FOR BANKRUPTCY PROCEEDINGS, ITAR-TASS REPORTED. First Vice President Vladimir Shumeiko told a news conference after the committee's session that 4-5 coal mines and 4-5 enterprises in other sectors had been selected. (The bankruptcy law came into effect on 1 March, although it is not clear whether all of the enabling legislation is in place.) Keith Bush TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA RUSSIAN MINERS POSTPONE STRIKE. Russian miners have decided to postpone a strike planned for 10-March, AFP reported on 9 March. By postponing the action, miners signal their intention to stay out of the power struggle between Yeltsin and the Russian parliament, expected to be played out at this week's session of the Congress of People's Deputies. The miners already obtained pay hikes in early February, but have put forward a further 18 demands concerned with the future marketization of the coal industry. There have been rumors that up to 20% of Russia's mines will have to be closed once restructuring gets underway. Sheila Marnie CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE LIMITATIONS ON INFORMATION MEDIA IN TAJIKISTAN. Dushanbe's state prosecutor has threatened to prosecute journalists who publish "destabilizing" materials or incite interethnic or religious hatred, ITAR-TASS reported on 9 March. The prosecutor, Salomiddin Sharopov, said that much of the blame for the conflicts in Tajikistan in 1992 can be attributed to the press and broadcast media. The former dissident who headed the Tajik Radio and TV organization under the coalition government that held power in Dushanbe through much of the last half of 1992 has been arrested and charged with inciting the civil war. According to the prosecutor, the editor of the progressive newspaper Charogi ruz would have been arrested too, but law enforcement officials have not apprehended him. -Bess Brown PRESSURE MOUNTS ON SERBS TO ACCEPT VANCE-OWEN PLAN. The 10 March Los Angeles Times reports that the presidents of Russia, the United States, and France have all urged the warring parties in Bosnia to accept the two mediators' program to divide the ethnically mixed republic into 10 highly autonomous regions. The Bosnian government is apparently on the verge of agreeing to it after receiving "certain assurances" from the US, according to remarks to the Washington Post by the republic's UN ambassador. The Serbs are balking, since they would have to renounce many, if far from all of their conquests according to the plan. Yeltsin said that "the parties to the conflict are confronted with the choice between approving the basic components of that plan and assuming responsibility for continued bloodshed." The Los Angeles daily adds that his French counterpart pointed out that the agreement "is not perfect, but we know of no better instrument of peace." -Patrick Moore BOSNIAN UPDATE. International media said on 9-March that a UN relief convoy reached Gorazde in eastern Bosnia that day, but that the Serbs had prevented another mission from reaching Konjevic Polje. During the night American aircraft made their tenth airdrop over the embattled republic, this time at Srebrenica. The town has 4,000 refugees from Cerska, which the Serbs took last week. The World Health Organization, moreover, wants to evacuate 96 critically injured people from there, but officials fear that any move to evacuate people from Srebrenica could easily turn into a mass exodus in the area. Elsewhere, the US government has issued its sixth report on alleged war crimes in the former Yugoslavia, most of which are attributed to Serbs. In New York, the UN high commissioner for refugees said the Serbian policy of ethnic cleansing has created a trail of "murder, torture, mutilation, and rape" across the republic. -Patrick Moore ANTIGOVERNMENT COMMEMORATION IN BELGRADE. Vuk Draskovic, leader of the opposition Serbian Renewal Movement, addressed a rally of about 1,000 people to mark the second anniversary of the 1991 opposition-led demonstrations against the government of Slobodan Milosevic. Draskovic told the crowd "Milosevic's regime is living its last months. The hungry will soon revolt, and we are tired of war and destruction. Serbia is in a quagmire, but we will rise again." A few hundred demonstrators tried unsuccessfully to convince Draskovic to take over Belgrade's television station, which they consider a mouthpiece for Milosevic. Draskovic had asked his followers earlier not to demonstrate, fearing a clash with police. The protesters then stoned the police after a popular street singer was arrested. Several injuries were reported before the protest ended. Radios Serbia and B92 carried the report. -Milan Andrejevich KOSOVO SITUATION UPDATE. Belgrade TV reported on 9 March that Serbia's National Assembly supports a government proposal calling for legislative elections in Kosovo patterned after the December 1992 elections in Vojvodina. The Democratic League, Kosovo's main Albanian party, rejected the proposal, saying the Albanians of Kosovo have already elected a parliament in unofficial elections in May 1992. Albanians constitute more than 90% of Kosovo's population. Borba's Pristina correspondent reports on alleged foreign intelligence activities in Kosovo. Pristina police sources claim to have evidence of German, Austrian, Turkish, and Albanian secret services working locally to subvert Serbia with the aim of provoking outside intervention. The Borba reporter's sources claim the agents travel together with foreign parliamentary and human rights delegations. Meanwhile, Jerlab Gorani, head of Kosovo Independent Trade Unions, charged that Kosovo's 70% unemployment rate is due to Serbian ethnic discrimination, Radio Serbia reports. -Milan Andrejevich ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENTS IN SLOVAKIA. Speaking to reporters in London on 8 March, Premier Vladimir Meciar said that Slovakia will not hold a second round of voucher privatization but will sell enterprises directly to foreign firms in public competition. He contradicted Privatization Minister Lubomir Dolgos, who said in early January that Slovakia would launch the second round of voucher privatization. On 9 March Dolgos was quoted in the Journal of Commerce as saying that voucher privatization takes much longer than anticipated. The newspaper also said that the government is drawing up a package of incentives, including tax holidays, for potential Western investors. Also on the 9th, in an interview published in the Czech daily Rude pravo, Peter Mihok, chairman of the Slovak Chamber of Commerce, said that banks have been unable to issue credits since October 1992. Banks have no funds to provide credits, Mihok said, and if they could provide them they would have to charge an interest rate of up to 28%. Mihok criticized a recent government decision to reduce hard currency supplies to private business. He said the step is likely to reduce imports and make them more expensive. He argued that the Slovak Central Bank may be heightening inflationary pressures. -Jiri Pehe TALKS ON TIGHTENING CZECH-SLOVAK BORDER. Czech Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec and Slovak Foreign Minister Milan Knazko met in Brussels on 9-March to discuss the Czech proposal for tightening the Czech-Slovak border. CTK reports Zieleniec as saying that the proposal seeks to fill gaps in the existing border arrangement. According to Zieleniec, citizens from both republics living within 20-25 kilometers of the border would be permitted unlimited movement across the border without special permits; other citizens could also cross the border without restrictions but would need valid passports. Foreigners and all goods would be allowed to cross only at certain points. Meanwhile, the new Slovak ambassador to Prague, Ivan Mjartan, who took up his post on 9 March, informed the media that the Czech and Slovak Republics will soon start talks on the new border regime. In Bratislava, Filip Sedivy, the new Czech ambassador to Slovakia, who also took up his post on 9 March, told the Slovak media that he had met briefly with President Michal Kovac to discuss the Czech government's proposal on tightening the border. -Jiri Pehe POLISH-GERMAN ASYLUM TALKS. Official silence reigned in Warsaw on 9 March after the third round of bilateral talks on planned revisions to Germany's law on political asylum that would expel refugees to the countries from which they entered Germany. The communique issued after the talks said merely that an agreement on "migrational movements" and Poland's "refugee infrastructure" had been discussed. German negotiators quoted by Western agencies said they are optimistic an agreement will be reached before the revised law takes effect. Polish officials were more circumspect, but suggested that the German side agreed not to expel to Poland "pre-existing cases:" failed asylum-seekers already in Germany. A fourth round of negotiations is scheduled for 5-6 April in Bonn. -Louisa Vinton PROSECUTOR TO CHARGE KACZYNSKI. The Polish prosecutor's office announced on 9 March that it plans to press slander charges against Center Alliance leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski in connection with his repeated allegations that President Lech Walesa's closest aide, Mieczyslaw Wachowski, was an agent of the communist secret police. The prosecutor's office requested on 9 March that the Sejm lift Kaczynski's immunity from prosecution. Kaczynski said he would support this request. In a brief submitted to the Sejm leadership, deputy prosecutor general Stanislaw Iwanicki charged that "the information presented publicly by J. Kaczynski about M. Wachowski's past is not true." The only evidence so far presented by Kaczynski-a photo of men in soccer shorts who were participants in a 1975 internal affairs ministry course-has been discredited. Forensics experts recently concluded that the contested figure in the photo was Lublin's police commissioner, not Wachowski. Kaczynski nonetheless announced through an intermediary that he upholds his charges and welcomes a trial. -Louisa Vinton HUNGARIAN-UKRAINIAN MILITARY RELATIONS. Newly appointed Political State Secretary of the Defense Ministry Laszlo Szendrei pays a two-day official visit to Ukraine starting on 10 March to meet with First Deputy Defense Minister Col. Gen. Ivan V. Bizhan, MTI reports. The topics of discussion are expected to be regional security, the Yugoslav crisis, and bilateral military cooperation. Hungary has already signed several military cooperation agreements with the Ukraine and a military attache was posted to Kiev last year. Szendrei will also make preparations for the upcoming Ukrainian visit of Defense Minister Lajos Fur. -Judith Pataki DELORS WRITES ANTALL. EC Commission Chairman Jacques Delors has written to Hungarian Prime Minister Jozsef Antall concerning the Gabcikovo dam construction issue, MTI reported on 9 March. Delors warns that the lack of agreement on the Gabcikovo issue could heighten political tension and imperil cooperation among the countries of the Visegrad Group. Delors says he finds the Hungarian stand realistic and stands ready to help find a solution to the present dead-end. Delors calls for political decisions at the highest level are to find a solution. The Foreign Ministry spokesman outlining the letter for the press added that Antall still has not received an answer to his 5 February proposal for a high-level meeting with his Slovak counterpart. The spokesman stressed that Hungary expects Slovakia to state unequivocally that it is ready to comply with the EC's 16 February proposals prior to the high-level meeting. -Judith Pataki ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT DEBATES ECONOMIC PROGRAM. On 9 March the two houses in joint session debated the government's four-year economic program, which was presented by Prime Minister Vacaroiu on the 4th. The austerity program includes reforms aimed at ending price subsidies for staples and services in May and gradually cutting inflation over the next four years. It also calls for privatizing 20% of state-owned industries. Opposition leaders attacked the program as too confusing and called for parliamentary vote. At the start of the debates, Corneliu Coposu, leader of the National Peasant Party-Christian Democratic urged Vacaroiu to assume responsibility for the proposed reforms. Under the constitution the government is not bound to submit its program to a vote automatically, but it may hold such a ballot if it wishes. Radio Bucharest broadcast the debates live. -Dan Ionescu GERMANY TO REMOVE TOXIC WASTE FROM ROMANIA. Two trains arrived on 9 March to take back more than 400 tons of toxic waste to Germany, Radio Bucharest reports. The trains, with 54 cars carrying more than 3,000 special steel barrels, will load the waste, which was illegally shipped to Romania last year and dumped at sites near Sibiu. Environment Minister Aurel Constantin Ilie told Parliament on 8 March that Bucharest allowed the material to enter because it was presented as agricultural aid. Germany has agreed to pay for the return of the waste. The costs of the operation are put at some 2.3 million marks. -Dan Ionescu BULGARIA, ROMANIA CONSIDER DANUBE DAM. Bulgaria and Romania are investigating the possibility of building a dam and hydroelectric power complex on the Danube, Reuters reported on 9 March. Ivan Sotirov, Deputy Chairman of Bulgaria's National Electricity Company, told the agency the two countries have agreed to approach an international consortium to finance a feasibility study of the project. Preliminary estimates suggest that total costs could reach $2 billion, but foreign investments will only be invited at a later stage. Sotirov said the project could lead to improvements both for Danube shipping-since the dam would help to stabilize the water level-and cross-river traffic-by combining it with a road and rail link. The prime site is 300 km (190 miles) west of the Black Sea, between the Bulgarian port of Nikopol and the Romanian port of Turnu Magurele. -Kjell Engelbrekt MOLDOVA'S MAJORITY PARTY OUTLINES VIEWS. Agrarian Democratic Party leader Dumitru Motpan urged in the party's newly launched newspaper, Pamint si oameni [Land and People], of 8 March that the specific interests of the Gagauz and the nontitular population in Transdniester be fully taken into account by Chisinau in devising forms of local autonomy compatible with Moldova's integrity. The solution in Transdniester also depends on Moldovan-Russian cooperation, as "Russia has definite interests in the region and Moldova can not afford to ignore them." Once the status of Transdniester is settled and Russia's 14th Army withdraws, Moldova will pursue "a policy of nonalignment," Motpan reaffirmed. A political statement in the same issue dismissed the opposition Popular Front's desire for unification with Romania as "out of touch with the people" and vowed to realize Moldova's "unique historic chance to be an independent state." Newly dominant in the government and parliament, and best organized in the countryside, the Agrarians enjoy a clear head start in the elections expected for later this year. -Vladimir Socor BELARUSIAN PRIME MINISTER PROPOSES CLOSER ECONOMIC UNION. Vyacheslav Kebich told a press conference in Minsk on 9 March that he will shortly propose that the CIS countries enter into a closer economic union, Belinform-TASS reports. He said such a union is necessary because the processes of disintegration are placing production on the edge of catastrophe. Kebich said his ideas are shared by Russia and Kazakhstan and that such a union would only strengthen the commonwealth. Kebich added that he is more and more convinced that without Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and some other republics Belarus can not exist, let alone prosper. -Ann Sheehy UKRAINIAN-RUSSIAN ENERGY DISPUTE EASES. Ukrainian Prime Minister Leonid Kuchma and his Russian counterpart, Viktor Chernomyrdin, have resolved the deadlock between their two nations over oil deliveries for the moment, according to Reuters on 9-March. Last month Russia threatened to cut off supplies, ostensibly because Ukraine was not paying its bills (other political issues are involved as well). No details of the agreement between Kuchma and Chernomyrdin were given, but it appears to be quick-fix until the two can discuss the issue more fully later this week. Beyond this agreement, the Ukrainians reportedly also secured 7.1 million tons of Russian oil with a commitment to invest some 6.4 billion rubles (about $10 million) in Siberian oil facilities. -Erik Whitlock LITHUANIA'S GAS DEBT TO RUSSIA. The government is encountering difficulties in fulfilling its pledge that the state enterprise Lietuvos Dujos will pay its debts for natural gas to Lentrangaz, a St. Petersburg concern, by 1 April, BNS reported on 9 March. It has managed to pay back only $680,000 plus DM 179,000 (about $110,000)-payment for about one day's supply. On 1 March the debt was about 31 billion Lithuanian coupons and is increasing due to fines of 0.05-0.15% each day If the debt is not paid, Lentrangaz may cut off supplies. -Saulius Girnius LATVIA, MOSCOW COUNCIL AGREE ON ECONOMIC COOPERATION. Diena reported on 8 March that Evgenii Panteleev, head of the industry section of the Moscow City Council, has signed an agreement on trade and economic cooperation for 1993 with Latvia. Under the accord, Latvia will provide the Russian capital with foodstuffs and medicine, receiving in return rolled metal and rubber products. Moscow also agreed to encourage the establishment of a Latvian school there. The accord supersedes the decision initiated by Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov early in February to institute economic sanction against Latvia and Estonia because of alleged human rights violations. -Dzintra Bungs BALTIC FOREIGN MINISTERS EYE TURMOIL IN RUSSIA. After an intensive day of discussions in Tallinn on 9 March, Trivimi Velliste of Estonia, Georgs Andrejevs of Latvia, and Povilas Gylys of Lithuania signed a protocol pledging closer cooperation, notably on economic and security issues. They agreed to meet twice a year to seek solutions to issues of common concern. In a joint communique they repeated demands for an early, orderly, and total withdrawal of all foreign troops from their countries. More than 50,000 Russian troops are still estimated to be deployed in the Baltic States. The ministers also expressed concern over the possible consequences of the political turmoil in Russia for their countries, Baltic and Western agencies report. -Dzintra Bungs As of 1200 CET Compiled by Suzanne Crow and Charles Trumbull THE 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. For inquiries about specific news items, subscriptions, or additional copies, please contact: in North America: Mr. Brian Reed, RFE/RL, Inc., 1201 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC-20036 Telephone: (202) 457-6912 or -6907; Fax: (202) 457-6992 or 828-8783; Internet: RIDC@RFERL.ORG or Elsewhere: Ms. Helga Hofer, Publications Department, RFE/RL Research Institute, Oettingenstrasse 67, 8000 Munich 22, Germany;.Telephone: (+49 89) 2102-2631 or -2624; Fax: (+49 89) 2102-2648, Internet: PD@RFERL.ORG 1993, RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved.
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