|The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none. - Thomas Carlyle 1975-1881|
No. 67, 07 April 1993
RUSSIA RADIOACTIVE EXPLOSION IN TOMSK-7. Radioactivity released by an explosion on 6 April contaminated an area around a chemical facility in Tomsk-7, an RFE/RL correspondent and ITAR-TASS reported. A tank containing a uranium solution was involved in the explosion. No casualties were reported. Subsequent commentaries emphasized that the amount of radioactivity released was much less than at Chernobyl in 1986 and that the prevailing wind had blown the radioactivity away from populated areas. -Keith Bush PARLIAMENT TO SET UP SECURITY DEPARTMENT. The "Department for Security of the Supreme Soviet", which the parliamentary Presidium has decided to establish, will have the functions of a special military unit, according to a report in Izvestiya of 6 April. The department, subject only to the parliamentary head, is supposed to become a federal organ of state security. Its staff will be armed with modern weapons and communication technology. The director of the security department can confer military rank on the department's personnel. The department will also receive the right to conduct various kinds of investigation inside the parliament, into corruption for example, although it is not clear how these tasks coincide with existing laws. Observers think that the Russian criminal code could well be altered by the parliament in order to justify the creation of the department. -Alexander Rahr RUTSKOI ATTACKS GOVERNMENT. Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi, speaking at the fourth sitting of the "Round Table" of social and political forces, established earlier this year by the parliamentary presidium and the government, warned that the current chaos in Russia would lead "either to civil war or to dictatorship," ITAR-TASS and AFP reported on 6 April. In a speech sharply critical of the Russian government, he said that the situation would not improve until the government's current composition was changed and until it adopted the economic programs worked out by the Civic Union and other participants in the Round Table "on the basis of national concord." Deputy Prime Minister Georgii Khizha and Commander-in-Chief of the CIS armed forces Evgenii Shaposhnikov also attended the meeting. Yurii Voronin, first deputy parliamentary chairman, opening the sitting, welcomed the participation of the Communist Party and the Republican Party. -Wendy Slater DISARRAY IN THE CIVIC UNION. Vasilii Lipitsky, chairman of the Civic Union's Executive Committee, was quoted by Russian TV "Vesti" on 5 April as saying that serious conflicts have emerged inside the Civic Union. Lipitsky distanced himself from the statements of the Civic Union co-leader Arkadii Volsky who had rejected the idea of a coalition government. Volsky had stated that Russia's various parties and movements were too weak at present to be capable of running the country. But Lipitsky stressed that the aim of setting up a coalition government remains a major goal for the Civic Union. Lipitsky also distanced himself from remarks by "Smena-Novaya politika." Leaders of that parliamentary faction had criticized the Civic Union's weak performance at the last Congress, and Lipitsky said that the faction may leave the Civic Union coalition. -Alexander Rahr MORDOVIA ABOLISHES PRESIDENCY. The Mordovian parliament voted on 2 and 3 April by 116 votes to 37 to abolish the post of republican president and vice president, the Russian media reported. The deputies blamed the popularly elected president Vasilii Guslyannikov for current economic hardships, saying that reforms had failed. The conflict between the "democratic" president and the conservative parliament had been brewing for some time. Izvestiya of 7 April said that the speaker of the Mordovian parliament Nikolai Biryukov had run unsuccessfully for president under communist party colors. In December 1992 the parliament had considerably curtailed the president's powers by instituting the post of head of government (Mordovia had been a presidential republic until then). According to Russian Radio of 5 April, conservative Russian deputies Sergei Baburin and Vladimir Isakov addressed the latest session of the Mordovian parliament. -Ann Sheehy YELTSIN'S SUPPORTERS CALL FOR PARALLEL REFERENDUM. The Social Committee of Democratic Organizations of Russia, created in March out of the unofficial "round table" formed on the initiative of the Democratic Russia group as an alternative to the par-liament-initiated Round Table, called on citizens to support Boris Yeltsin in the forthcoming referendum, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 April. The committee accused the Congress of People's Deputies of imitating the ruling structures of the CPSU. The committee also sent an open letter to Yeltsin, calling on him to conduct a parallel referendum asking whether the Congress should be retained as the highest body of power; whether a constituent assembly should adopt the new constitution; and whether private land ownership should be introduced. Only 32 of the 88 groups represented on the committee, and reportedly the less influential ones, signed the letter. Yeltsin had earlier rejected the idea of a parallel referendum. -Wendy Slater CHAIRMAN OF KARELIAN SUPREME SOVIET ON NEED FOR EARLY ELECTIONS. Viktor Stepanov, chairman of the Karelian parliament, said in an interview in Nezavisimaya gazeta of 6 April, that there was a need for early elections to all federal bodies of power. He expressed the view that even if the forthcoming referendum did not produce a vote in favor of early elections, ways should be found to reform legislative power. In particular, the Supreme Soviet should be expanded to 700-750 deputies and take over many of the powers of the Congress, which should occupy itself with the work on the draft constitution, the rotation of Supreme Soviet members, and the appointment of the head of government. As regards the proposal to create a Council of the Federation, Stepanov thought it required further elaboration taking into account the experience of the all-Union Council of the Federation. -Ann Sheehy PUBLIC OPINION AND THE "CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS." A poll of fifteen cities across Russia conducted during the constitutional crisis in Moscow showed that many, though not a majority of the population, disapproved of the actions taken by the Constitutional Court and the Congress of People's Deputies against President Yeltsin. A plurality (43%) of respondents did not support the constitutional court's decision against Yeltsin's decree, while almost one in four (24%) did. The attempt by the Congress to oust the president was viewed negatively by 50% of the respondents, while 25% approved the proceedings. In both cases, a substantial number of respondents did not express an opinion or were undecided. More respondents had some to absolute confidence (41%) in Yeltsin than had little or no confidence (33%). Yeltsin garnered greater confidence than either Rutskoi (25%) or Zorkin (17%). Yeltsin's position has improved in light of recent events: in January 1993, the same researchers found that fewer respondents expressed some to absolute confidence (32%) than those who had little or no confidence (40%) in Yeltsin. The Public Opinion Fund (Fond obshchestvennoye mneniye) interviewed 1,288 adults in fifteen cities across Russia from 27-28 March 1993. The margin of error was ± 3%. -Albert Motivans KOZYREV IN PAKISTAN. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev arrived on Islamabad on the evening of 6 April for talks on regional issues, Russian prisoners from the Afghan war, and nuclear non-proliferation. Kozyrev is to hold talks with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and other leaders on 7 April. From Pakistan, Kozyrev's Central Asian tour will continue with visits to Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan, ITAR-TASS and Western agencies reported. -Suzanne Crow RUSSIAN NUCLEAR WEAPONS ROUND-UP. Speaking to reporters in Kamchatka on his return from Vancouver, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev said that the implementation of agreements reached at the US-Russian summit depended in large part on Russia's ratification of the START-2 Treaty. As reported by Nezavisimaya gazeta on 6 April, he warned that parliament's failure to ratify could block Russia's entry into the world economic community and reintroduce tension and fear into Russia's relations with the West. Meanwhile, Mayak Radio reported on the same day comments by Aleksei Yablokov, Boris Yeltsin's advisor on environmental matters. Yablokov said that Yeltsin had vowed that Russia would not start a new round of nuclear tests. On 5 April, finally, Tokyo's Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported that the Japanese government has decided to provide significant financial assistance and technological cooperation for Russia toward the peaceful use of plutonium left over after the dismantling of Russian nuclear warheads. -Stephen Foye KURILE ISLAND TO ASK FOR JAPANESE HELP? OFFICIALS OF KUNASHIR ISLAND, ONE OF THE KURILE ISLAND GROUP, MAY ASK JAPAN FOR HELP IF THE RUSSIAN AUTHORITIES DO NOT SEND THEM SOME FUEL SOON, ITAR-TASS REPORTED ON 5 APRIL. The Kunashir authorities have declared a state of emergency because of the fuel shortage. If they cannot get supplies quickly from Sakhalin oblast, they may have to turn to the prefect of Hokkaido island for a tanker loaded with diesel oil. -Keith Bush TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA ARMENIAN FORCES LAUNCH NEW OFFENSIVE: THOUSANDS FLEE FIGHTING. Azerbaijan's Ambassador to Moscow, Hikmet Gadzhi-Zade, told journalists on 6 April that Azerbaijani forces had repulsed an Armenian offensive against the town of Fizuli, southeast of Nagorno-Karabakh. A new Armenian attack on the town of Kubatli west of Karabakh was also halted, but fighting continued in Kelbadzhar raion, according to an Azerbaijani Defense Ministry spokesman. The Commander of the Armenian self-defense forces of Karabakh and a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman were quoted by the Noyan Tapan News Agency and ITAR-TASS as rejecting Azerbaijani claims that Russian troops were participating in the fighting in Karabakh. The office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva estimated on 6 April that tens of thousands of Azerbaijani civilians were fleeing from Kelbadzhar, and that many had died of cold, hunger, and exhaustion on the way, Reuters reported. -Liz Fuller INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC REACTION TO FIGHTING IN AZERBAIJAN. On 6 April the UN Security Council expressed "serious concern" at the invasion of Kelbadzhar by "local Armenian forces" and called for an immediate ceasefire and unimpeded access to the region by international humanitarian agencies, according to an RFE/RL correspondent. US Secretary of State Warren Christopher, in a statement summarized by the New York Times of 7 April, condemned "the offensive by ethnic Armenian forces" and called for an immediate withdrawal of Armenian troops from Kelbadzhar. The chairman of the Turkish parliament Husamettin Cindoruk was quoted by Turkish radio as suggesting that a military response by Turkey to Armenian aggression should not be excluded. Turkish Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel affirmed that Turkey "would not abandon" Azerbaijan and compared the situation to "a chess game - we must play our men carefully to ensure that both Turkey and Azerbaijan emerge victorious." CIS armed forces Commander-in- Chief Evgenii Shaposhnikov told Russian radio that he would like to try to mediate a settlement between Armenia and Azerbaijan; Russian and Turkish diplomats have been working for the past month in Ankara on a new peace initiative. -Liz Fuller RUSSIAN-GEORGIAN TALKS OPEN IN SOCHI. Shortly before the departure on 6 April of a Georgian government delegation headed by Prime Minister Tengiz Sigua for Sochi to conduct talks with Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, the Georgian parliament voted against a resolution calling for the withdrawal of all Russian troops from Abkhazia, ITAR-TASS reported. Reuters quoted Sigua as informing Grachev that the Georgian government has hard evidence of Russian military involvement in the Abkhaz conflict; Grachev has consistently denied this. -Liz Fuller CHEVRON-KAZAKHSTAN JOINT VENTURE FINALIZED. Western news agencies reported on 7 April that the chairman of the Chevron Corporation of California and Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev have signed a final memorandum creating the Tengizchevroil joint venture to develop and exploit the Tengiz and Korolev oilfields in western Kazakhstan. The agreement is to last for 40 years, with the government of Kazakhstan receiving 80% of the revenues from the project. Final agreement was slowed by disputes over taxes and technical matters, including a refusal by a Russian pipeline firm to ship Tengiz crude oil because of its sulfur content. -Bess Brown RUSSIAN BORDER GUARDS ABDUCTED IN TAJIKISTAN. Ten Russian border guards were abducted by unidentified armed men on the Tajik-Afghan border on 5 April, a border guards spokesman told correspondents in Moscow the following day. According to an RFE/RL correspondent, the spokesman said that the kidnapping had occurred in the Khorog border district in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast. Gorno-Badakhshan has sympathized with pro-Islamic forces in the Tajik civil war, and the authorities there are reported to have established their own informal relations with Afghanistan. The Russian border guards spokesman said that the Russian authorities are trying to determine whether Afghans or anti-government Tajiks abducted the guards. -Bess Brown CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN UPDATE. International media reported on 6 and 7 April that UN-sponsored Bosnian peace talks in Sarajevo failed to materialize on 6 April. The Muslims talked with UN officials outside the conference room and refused to join the Serbs and Croats; the 7-April Los Angeles Times adds that the Serb commander declined to come in person. Meanwhile, Bosnian officials continued to block the UN from evacuating civilians from besieged Srebrenica. Finally, the 7 April Washington Post and Los Angeles Times report on President Bill Clinton's remarks on Bosnia at his 6 April press conference. He said that the United States can work only through the UN and with its allies and not take unilateral action, even when "all of our views may not always prevail." -Patrick Moore RUSSIAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER TO BELGRADE. Politika of 7 April says that Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vitalii Churkin is expected in the Serbian capital for a new diplomatic effort aimed at persuading the Bosnian Serbs to accept the Vance-Owen plan to divide the embattled republic into ten highly autonomous cantons. Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has postponed a visit to Moscow, where he was invited by the nationalist opposition to Yeltsin. Meanwhile, on 6 April Greek Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis arrived in Belgrade for talks with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and rump Yugoslav President Dobrica Cosic. The 7 April Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung says that Cosic urged Greece, a traditional ally of Serbia, to argue in diplomatic circles against international sanctions on Belgrade. Borba reports that Mitsotakis is concerned about the conflict spreading in the Balkans if no peaceful solution is found, and quotes Greek journalists as saying that the visit is probably in connection with international efforts aimed at bringing Karadzic and his followers around to accepting the Vance-Owen plan. -Patrick Moore ROMANIA'S ETHNIC HUNGARIANS RENEW PROTESTS. Leaders of the ethnic Hungarian minority renewed criticism of the recent government decision to appoint ethnic Romanians as prefects in two counties where Magyars are in majority. In a statement released on 6 April, the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania said that Hungarians in the Covasna county considered the appointments as "unacceptable." The statement accused the government of promoting a nationalist, discriminatory policy towards ethnic minorities. In response to the accusations, Viorel Hrebenciuc, the cabinet's secretary, told Reuters that the appointments were "a political, not an ethnic matter." He also suggested that the dialogue between the authorities and the HDFR on that issue would continue. In turn, Reformed Bishop Laszlo Toekes reiterated in Debrecen (Hungary) the statement that Romania's ethnic Hungarians were being subjected to a process of "ethnic cleansing," Romanian television reported on 6-April. Toekes said the discrimination against Hungarian ethnics today was comparable to that against the Jews in the 1940's. -Dan Ionescu and Michael Shafir HUNGARIAN FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE TO PROTEST ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT DECISION. Hungarian radio reported on 6 April that the Foreign Relations committee of the parliament decided to send a letter of protest to the Romanian government, expressing "incomprehension and regret" about the recent appointment of Romanian ethnics as prefects in Harghita and Covasna. -Karoly Okolicsanyi HUNGARY AND GERMANY WIDEN MILITARY COOPERATION. German Defense Minister Volker Ruehe paid an official visit to Hungary on 5-6 April and held talks with President Arpad Goncz, Premier Jozsef Antall, and Foreign Minister Geza Jeszenszky, MTI reports. The two countries upgraded their cooperation by extending their 1990 military cooperation agreement for an unlimited period. As announced last November, Germany will provide the Hungarian Army spare parts, as well as electronic and training equipment such as training aircraft (but no weapons) from the stocks of the former East German army. These will be provided free of charge to help Budapest maintain its military capability. Ruehe declined to give any figure, but Radio Budapest put the value of the aid at 70 million DM. The training program for Hungarian officers in Germany (41 this year) will be continued. According to Ruehe, Hungary has a special relationship to NATO and does not need more at present. Hungarian Defense Minister Lajos Fur said Hungary did not ask for security guarantees from NATO because the time for that has not yet come. --Alfred Reisch ESTONIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN BUDAPEST. During an official visit, Trivimi Velliste invited Hungarian Prime Minister Jozsef Antall to a Finno-Ugric summit between Finland, Estonia and Hungary to be held in October 1993, MTI reported on 6 April. He emphasized there was a long tradition of good relations between Estonia and Hungary. Hungarian Foreign Minister Geza Jeszensky emphasized the importance of the economic relations between the two countries. They both agreed that satisfied aspirations of national minorities induce political stability. During a press conference, Velliste rejected President Yeltsin's charges against Estonia at the Vancouver summit and expressed hope that by Christmas all Russian troops will leave his country. -Karoly Okolicsanyi SUCHOCKA VISITS PRAGUE. Polish Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka arrived in Prague on 7 April for an unofficial one-day visit. Speaking at a press conference after her meeting with Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus, Suchocka said she and Klaus had agreed to open new border crossings between the two countries and to speed up the creation of a free-trade zone between the countries of the Visegrad Quadrangle. Suchocka also said she does not see a reason why the Czech Republic and Poland should compete with each other in trying to join European institutions. Klaus told journalists that both countries should clearly and firmly formulate their policies toward the European Community. Klaus also said he and Suchocka had agreed that both countries had the same interests vis-a-vis changes in German asylum policies. -Jiri Pehe WALESA TO VISIT UNITED STATES. The Polish president's office announced on 6 April that Lech Walesa will visit the US in the second half of the month. Western agencies report that the visit is scheduled for 21-23 April. US President Bill Clinton invited Walesa during a telephone conversation on 3 March. While in Washington, the Polish president will hold talks with Clinton and take part in the opening of the Holocaust Memorial Museum. In a letter to Walesa quoted by Polish Television, Clinton pledged to support market reform and democracy and called both Walesa and Poland "important partners" for the US. Vice President Al Gore is expected to attend ceremonies in Warsaw marking the 50th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising on 19 April. -Louisa Vinton KNAZKO FORMS HIS OWN CAUCUS. Seven Slovak parliament deputies from the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia announced on 6 April that they were leaving the ruling party's caucus and joining former Foreign Minister Milan Knazko in forming an "independent deputies' caucus." In a communique released to the media, the deputies said that they did not agree with some of the ruling party's policies in the areas of economy, education, health care, and culture, and were alarmed by "the return to methods that resemble those from before November 1989." Following the deputies' departure, the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia, which has completely dominated the government since it lost in March its coalition partner, the Slovak National Party, will have 66 deputies in the 150member Slovak parliament. -Jiri Pehe US CONGRESSMAN SAYS MFN FOR ROMANIA CONDITIONAL. In an interview with RFE/RL's Romanian Service on 6 April, US congressman Frank Wolf (R-Virginia) praised Romania's progress in areas such as freedom of speech and religion as well as in the treatment of ethnic minorities. Wolf said that it was time for Romania to be granted the Most Favored Nation trade status. But he added that, if granted, that status would be on a one-year conditional basis in order to make sure that minority rights were respected. Wolf and Senator Daniel Coates (R-Indiana) are currently on a fact-finding mission in Romania. -Dan Ionescu FORMER KING PLANS EASTER TRIP TO ROMANIA. Western agencies announced that Romania's exiled King Michael, who lives in Switzerland, has applied for a visa to visit his native country for the Orthodox Easter on 18 April. Last April the king returned to Romania for the first time after being forced into exile in January 1948, and was warmly welcomed by crowds in Bucharest. The authorities denied him permission to enter Romania on three other occasions. Several senior Orthodox Church leaders and mayors of major cities extended invitations this year. -Dan Ionescu RUSSIAN-AMERICAN COMMISSION VISITS BALTIC STATES. A Russian-American Commission searching for information on American POWs and MIAs imprisoned in the USSR after World War II visited the three Baltic capitals. On 6 April its co-chairman, former US ambassador to the USSR Malcolm Toon, told a press conference in Vilnius that although he had visited Moscow four times he had received little information on the fate of the missing American soldiers, the RFE/RL's Lithuanian Service reports. As in Tallinn and Riga earlier in the week, he made a courtesy call on Lithuanian President Algirdas Brazauskas to help publicize the commission's work. -Saulius Girnius BALCEROWICZ VISITS LITHUANIA. At the invitation of the ruling Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party, former Polish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Leszek Balcerowicz visited Vilnius. He held talks with President Algirdas Brazauskas and Prime Minister Alfonsas Slezevicius. Balcerowicz said that Lithuania had not chosen a direction for its economic reform yet and should follow the example of Estonia and Latvia that had introduced strong currencies and stopped inflation, the RFE/RL's Lithuanian Service reported on 6 April. He noted that a slow rate of reform augments its social price and that state subsidies to enterprises should be stopped when they are on the brink of bankruptcy. -Saulius Girnius LATVIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN US. On 5 April Latvian Foreign Minister Georgs Andrejevs, who is visiting the USA, spoke at Georgetown University, an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reports. He stated that Russian President Boris Yeltsin was "badly mistaken" when he asserted in Vancouver that human rights of Russians were being violated in Latvia and Estonia. The accusations against the Baltic States do not promote democracy, he said, and any delay in the troop withdrawals "means a delay in the democratic reforms in Russia and promotes regional instability." Andrejevs will meet with US Secretary of State Warren Christopher on 8 April -Saulius Girnius BULGARIAN AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS SUSPEND STRIKE. Following a government decision to meet some of the air traffic controllers' demands, the strike of the controllers was suspended, an RFE/RL correspondent in Sofia reported. Precisely what the government has agreed to remains unclear and the strike could be resumed if the government fails to meet other demands of the controllers. -Duncan Perry LITHUANIA TO IMPORT MEAT. While Lithuania had been a reliable exporter of meat after World War II, costs had risen so greatly and production decreased so much that it will not be able to satisfy local meat needs, BNS reported on 6 April. The production of meat this year is expected to drop to 150,000 tons. Current meat prices of $1.27 to $1.43 per kilogram exceed world prices. The first shipment of 1,000 tons of meat at $.95 to $1.00 per kilogram are expected to arrive in Lithuania this week. -Saulius Girnius [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Wendy Slater and Michael Shafir 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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