|Every custom was once an eccentricity; every idea was once an absurdity. - Holbrook Jackson|
No. 70, 14 April 1993
RUSSIA ELECTIONS IN RUSSIAN REGIONS. The current political apathy among the Russian population became evident in the elections of heads of local administration held on 11 April in several regions of the provincial cities. According to ITAR-TASS on 12 April, only 12% of eligible voters turned out to vote in Norilsk and 30% in Chelyabinsk oblast. Elections also took place in Krasnoyarsk krai, Bryansk and Penza oblasts. Bryansk and Chelyabinsk oblasts will hold a second round of voting on 25 April because no candidate received more than 50% of the vote. The previous heads of administration had been appointed by President Boris Yeltsin. Recently Yeltsin issued a decree proclaiming illegal the elections in Chelyabinsk, which nevertheless still went ahead. Observers fear that elections of local leaders may lead to anti-Yeltsin forces coming to power in the provinces. In Orel oblast, for example, the former CPSU Central Committee Secretary in charge of agriculture, Egor Stroev, was elected head of local administration, beating five alternative candidates. -Alexander Rahr PRE-REFERENDUM HANDOUTS. During the past few days and in the period leading up to the 25 April referendum, according to Russian and Western agencies, President Yeltsin has issued decrees and made a number of promises that will, if implemented, raise government expenditure and/or lower government revenues. Presidential decrees have rescinded recent price increases for gasoline, restricted rents payable on state-owned housing, and raised undergraduates' stipends to the level of the minimum wage and graduates' stipends to double this amount. Yeltsin has also promised to raise pensioners' and veterans' benefits, lower taxes on coal exports, and he has implied that coal miners' wage rates will be nearly doubled. He ruled out increases in the price of coal; other administration figures have ruled out-for the time being-increases in the prices of other energy-carriers. In the face of a runaway budget deficit for 1993, Finance Minister Boris Fedorov forlornly appealed on 10-April to the president, the prime minister, and the parliament to avoid "destructive" populist measures during the referendum campaign. -Keith Bush KHASBULATOV: KOZYREV AN OBSTACLE TO START-2 RATIFICATION. Chairman of the Russian parliament Ruslan Khasbulatov suggested to a meeting of World War II veterans and militia and trade union members on 13 April that the START-2 Treaty would not be ratified as long as Andrei Kozyrev remained foreign minister. Summarizing an Izvestiya report, ITAR-TASS quoted Khasbulatov as saying that the treaty should be presented to parliament by a minister worthy of the respect and trust of society. Conservatives have long called for the removal of Kozyrev, and Izvestiya reportedly criticized Khasbulatov for personalizing discussion of the treaty. The meeting, during which Khasbulatov also promised the passage next month of a law "on veterans," appeared to represent an attempt by Khasbulatov to win favor within the military community. Yeltsin himself met with veterans groups on 9-April. -Stephen Foye SHUMEIKO OPTIMISTIC ON ECONOMY. At a news conference on 8 April, First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Shumeiko portrayed the first signs of stabilization in Russian economic performance, ITAR-TASS reported. He claimed that inflation in March was down to 17%, after 27% in January and 25% in February, and he predicted an inflation rate of 12-14% in April. After the government had reached an agreement with the Russian Central Bank, the growth of the money supply had declined to 9.9% in February, down from 28.4% in June-October 1992. Shumeiko concluded that the new figures showed that "the period of shock therapy and tearing the economy apart is over." In two speeches made on 12 April, President Yeltsin highlighted the good news on inflationary trends and also claimed that output was stabilizing. -Keith Bush RUBLE VALUE SHRINKS FURTHER. The ruble exchange rate jumped from 740 to 766 rubles to the dollar on the Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange on 13-April, various Russian news agencies reported. The volume of trade was $82 million. The ruble has lost 46% of its value since the beginning of the year, and 11% over the last ten days. -Erik Whitlock FOREIGN TRADE RESULTS FOR FIRST QUARTER. The Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations has released data for Russia's foreign trade during the first quarter of 1993, Biznes-TASS reported on 13 April. Exports totaled $6.7 billion and imports were valued at $3.5-billion. The volume of crude and petroleum products exported reached 21 million tons and were valued at $2.3 billion. -Keith Bush GRAIN HARVEST AND IMPORTS FORECAST. Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Zaveryukha told a news conference on 13 April that a grain harvest of 106-108 million tons was expected in 1993, ITAR-TASS reported. Since Russia's annual requirements are put at 126-128 million tons, about 20 million tons of grain will have to be imported. Zaveryukha also said that kolkhozes and sovkhozes have retained about 4 million tons of grain in storage from the 1992 crop. -Keith Bush GERMAN, RUSSIAN DEFENSE AGREEMENT, OTHER ISSUES. German Defense Minister Volker Ruehe and his Russian counterpart, Pavel Grachev, signed a cooperation agreement between the two defense ministries following talks in Moscow on 13-April, ADN reported. The agreement calls for exchanges of both information and personnel; members of the Russian armed forces will train in Germany and members of the Bundeswehr are to visit Russia. During the talks, the two ministers expressed support for a political solution to the conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina on the basis of the Vance-Owen plan. Grachev reportedly said that Russia was willing to participate in humanitarian relief flights in the former Yugoslavia, but he warned that NATO's enforcement of the no-fly zone over Bosnia risked dragging the alliance into the internal political conflict there. Grachev also thanked Ruehe for Germany's commitment to assisting the withdrawal of Russian troops from former East Germany. -Stephen Foye COUP PLOTTERS' TRIAL OPENS. The trial of the 12-men accused of treason and abuse of office for their part in the failed coup of August 1991 opened on 14 April in Moscow's Supreme Court, various Russian and Western media reported. Major General Anatolii Ukolov of the Supreme Court's military collegium is presiding over the hearings, together with two lay judges. It is expected that about 120-witnesses will be called, including Mikhail Gorbachev, parliamentary speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov and Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi. The accused have, since their release from detention, gained considerable publicity in the Russian media; one of their number, Oleg Shenin, has become the leader of the revived CPSU. -Wendy Slater TATAR NATIONALIST ORGANIZATIONS CONDEMN REFERENDUM. Eleven social organizations and movements of Tatarstan which advocate complete independence for the republic have issued a joint appeal to the peoples of Tatarstan saying that Tatarstan was never voluntarily a part of Russia and that the peoples of Tatarstan have no need of the referendum into which imperial forces want to drag them, Izvestiya of 13 April reported. -Ann Sheehy COMMONWEALTH OF INDEPENDENT STATES CIS SUMMIT BROUGHT FORWARD. The routine summit meeting of CIS heads of state scheduled for 30 April in Erevan has been brought forward and will now take place in Minsk on 16 April, ITAR-TASS and Belinform reported on 13 April. No reason was given for the change, but one factor must be the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Yeltsin may also hope that the results of the summit will improve his chances in the referendum. Yeltsin said in Novokuznetsk on 13 April that there would be only one item on the agenda-how to improve relations in the Commonwealth. It is reported that the summit will discuss Yeltsin's mid-March appeal to the heads of the CIS states to strengthen the Commonwealth, in particular by creating coordinating organs. This should include discussion of the statutes of the Coordinating-Consultative Committee, whose creation was provisionally approved at the last summit in January. -Ann Sheehy TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA OZAL IN BAKU. Speaking on his arrival in Baku-the final stop on his tour of the Turkic Soviet successor states-for a three day visit, Turkish President Turgut Ozal again denounced as "unacceptable" and as "an attempt to create a "Greater Armenia" the occupation of Azerbaijani territory by Armenian forces, Western agencies reported. Deputy Prime Minister Erdal Inonu likewise predicted in an address to the Turkish parliament that Armenia would be constrained to withdraw from the territory it had seized, according to Ankara TV. Talks between the Armenian and Azerbaijani prime ministers in Moscow on 13 April were called off after the Azerbaijani delegation decided that they "were not expedient," according to an RFE/RL correspondent. -Liz Fuller SHEVARDNADZE IN KIEV. On the second day of his two-day visit to Kiev for talks with Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk, Georgian parliament chairman Eduard Shevardnadze signed a number of bilateral agreements, including a treaty on friendship and cooperation, Ukrainian and Western agencies reported. Speaking at a joint press conference, Kravchuk implied that he agreed with Shevardnadze's arguments that there were forces in Russia interested in aggravating Georgia's relations with Abkhazia, but stressed that Georgian-Ukrainian relations did not pose a threat to any third country. -Liz Fuller UZBEK OPPOSITION PARTY EVICTED FROM HEADQUARTERS. Law enforcement officials evicted the Erk Democratic Party from its Tashkent headquarters on 13 April and told party members that the group would have to move into new quarters on the outskirts of the city, an Erk spokesman told RFE/RL. The police action, ordered by the mayor of Tashkent, is only the latest episode in an official campaign of harassment against Erk, Uzbekistan's first legally-registered opposition party. The day before the eviction, the party's leadership had sent a telegram to Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov asking permission to hold a congress. On 10 April, Erk chairman Muhammad Salih told RFE/RL that he had been held overnight for questioning in the Ministry of Internal Affairs in connection with a book on Erk that had been published in Turkey. Salih denied any knowledge of the book. -Bess Brown CONSTITUTIONAL DEBATE IN KYRGYZSTAN. Kyrgyzstan's Supreme Soviet has been debating a draft constitution for the country article-by-article for several months, drawing angry remonstrance from President Askar Akaev who has complained of the amount of time consumed by discussion. On 13 April, according to ITAR-TASS, the legislature handed the president a rebuff by rejecting a phrase permitting private land ownership under certain circumstances. Akaev had argued that private ownership would be necessary for the development of private enterprise in rural areas. The same day the Supreme Soviet also rejected the designation of the Russian language as the language of interethnic communication, despite the pleas of non-Kyrgyz deputies and demonstrations and letter-writing campaigns by non-Kyrgyz inhabitants of Kyrgyzstan. Bess Brown CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE AFTERMATH OF SERB SHELLING OF SREBRENICA. RFE/RL's UN correspondent reported on 13 April that refugee relief officials are considering a total evacuation of the embattled east Bosnian Muslim enclave where over 50,000 people are trapped under renewed Serbian fire. Meanwhile, the 14 April Washington Post and New York Times say that UN officials are outraged at the shelling on 12 April that left over 50 wounded and took place amid Serbian assurances that a ceasefire would be observed. One spokesman said that he hopes that the officer responsible for the deaths "burns in the hottest corner of hell," while adding that the Muslims seem to have no choice but "either to be transported like cattle or slaughtered like sheep." One Serb commander, however, charged that the Muslims had staged the explosions themselves to fool the UN, while Serbian TV said that the bodies shown to the UN were actually those of captured Serbs whom the Muslims had allegedly "tortured to death." The United States Department of State, for its part, has released the seventh in its series of reports on often grisly war crimes in Bosnia, mainly committed by Serbs against Muslims but also against "disloyal Serbs" trying to help their Muslim neighbors, the Washington Post notes. Meanwhile, Borba of 14-April quotes other disquieted Serbs as well as Muslims as reporting that local Serb forces in Trebinje in east Herzegovina began demolishing the town's remaining mosques on 11 April. Finally, the 14 April New York Times says that the UN has issued an emergency appeal for food aid for Bosnia, noting that there was "no response" to a similar call in March. -Patrick Moore UPDATE FROM THE YUGOSLAV AREA. Western news agencies on 13 April quoted Croatian human rights activists as charging that the government is doing nothing to stop well-organized provocations aimed at driving ethnic Serbs out of Croatia in a form of ethnic cleansing. Meanwhile in Belgrade, Borba reports on 14-April that the "all-Serbian parliament" called for by Krajina Serb leader Goran Hadzic will not be held. Serbian officials said that it is not a goal of Serbian foreign policy to give the impression abroad that Belgrade is aiming at setting up a greater Serbia. Another kind of parliament might take place, however, namely an illegal meeting of Albanian legislators in Kosovo, where the population is over 90% Albanian but where Serbia maintains a tight repressive regime. One spokesman for the Albanian Social-Democratic Party noted that the authorities are trying to intimidate the Albanians from holding their legislative meeting by using a variety of tactics, including buzzing by low-flying aircraft. Finally, in an article headlined: "Does Yugoslavia have nuclear weapons? The defense minister's strange answer," Borba reports on an interview given by rump Yugoslav minister Pavle Bulatovic, in which he refuses to confirm or deny that Belgrade has nuclear capabilities. -Patrick Moore HUNGARY CRITICIZES WEST'S BALKAN POLICY. Speaking at an economic conference in Copenhagen on 13 April, Hungarian Foreign Minister Geza Jeszenszky said that the "inability of Western Europe to deal with aggression [in the Balkans] carries a very bad message for the whole Eastern half of the continent." On the same day Hungary's UN ambassador told the UN Security Council that the postponement of a UN resolution on new sanctions against rump Yugoslavia would encourage those who ignore UN resolutions. This was reported by Western news agencies and by Radio Budapest. -Edith Oltay BULGARIA BARS TRANSIT OF SERBIAN FREIGHT TRAINS. Sofia dailies report on 14-April that Serbian freight trains will from now on be forbidden passage through Bulgarian territory. Introduced by the Bulgarian State Railways, the measure is a response to a five-day long blockade of Bulgarian rail traffic by Serbia, where railway workers are on strike. Otechestven vestnik says nearly 1,000 trains are currently waiting to enter Serbian territory and that costs amount to $150,000 each day. Reports from inside Serbia suggest that the strike is not connected to the United Nations embargo against rump Yugoslavia. The Belgrade daily Politika of 14 April says that so far no solution to the strike is in sight. -Kjell Engelbrekt and Patrick Moore MACEDONIAN GOVERNMENT SURVIVES CONFIDENCE VOTE. In the wake of Macedonia's recognition by the UN, albeit under a temporary designation, "The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia," the government narrowly won a confidence vote sponsored by opposition legislators on 13 April. According to Reuters some 62 of the 120 deputies supported the government of Branko Crvenkovski. Legislators are especially concerned about the economy which suffers from high inflation and growing unemployment. -Duncan Perry CZECH DEFENSE MINISTRY ASKS FOR MORE MONEY. A spokesman for the Czech Ministry of Defense appealed to parliament to increase the defense budget by some 10 billion koruny ($320 million), CTK reported on 13 April. The spokesman said at a press conference that the 23 billion koruny envisioned for fiscal year 1993 was not sufficient given the need to modernize the armed forces and increase their compatibility with the armed forces of NATO member countries. He said that the Czech army would barely survive on its current budget and might lose its defense capability; this, he said, is not acceptable given the unstable situation in the East. The spokesman said that the Czech Republic aimed to join NATO as soon as possible but this would be impossible if the army was deprived of the means to restructure and modernize. -Jan Obrman SLOVAK MANDATORY SERVICE TO BE CUT. The Slovak Ministry of Defense issued an instruction cutting mandatory military service from 18 to 12 months, TASS reported on 13-April. A spokesman for the ministry said that a new law on military service would probably be adopted only by the end of the year but the ministry wants to adapt to European standards as soon as possible. The measure will go into effect on 1 September. The Czech government is preparing a similar cut of mandatory service. -Jan Obrman POLES PROTEST RUSSIAN FISHING BAN. Polish trawlers are protesting Russian attempts to prevent them from fishing in the open waters of the central part of the Okhotsk Sea. Neither the Polish foreign ministry nor the transportation and maritime ministry has received official notification of the ban introduced by the Russian foreign ministry on 9-April, PAP reported on 14-April. An official of one of Poland's three major Baltic-based fishing companies told PAP that the ban, apparently affecting also Chinese and South Korean trawlers, should be treated as an international problem since it set "a dangerous precedent on an international scale." -Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka POLISH FISHERMEN RESUME PROTESTS. Resuming protest action begun before Easter, Polish fishermen have prevented the unloading of ships carrying imported fish. The action was begun on 13 April and will be continued indefinitely, PAP reported. The Polish Baltic Fishermen's Strike Committee is demanding lower fuel prices for fishing boats, cheap credits for interventionary fish purchases, and higher duty on imported fish. -Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka POLISH CATHOLICS COMMEMORATE GHETTO UPRISING. On 12 April, one week before the official 50th anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising is inaugurated, Cardinal Jozef Glemp, concelebrated a Mass for Jews and Christians "so that they may show the world by mutual forgiveness and genuine dialogue that they believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob," Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 13 April. The liturgy included words of contrition for "all the crimes against the Jewish people, the crimes of the holocaust, all forms of anti-Semitism and intolerance, all hatred and violence." Glemp said that the anniversary presented an opportunity to eliminate mutual misunderstandings. The forthcoming anniversary has been clouded by a delay in the transfer of Carmelite nuns from a building on the site of the former Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz to a new center just outside the camp's perimeter. Before his departure to Vienna and Rome on 13 April, Glemp reiterated that the Catholic Church hierarchy in Poland was fundamentally determined to resolve the issue and confirmed that the nuns would leave their present residence. -Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka GERMAN, FINNISH HELP TO SOLVE BALTIC ECOLOGICAL PROBLEMS. Germany's Environment Minister Klaus Toepfer said in Tallinn on 13 April that his country wants to help Estonia deal with environmental damage done by former USSR troops stationed there, and noted the special problems posed by the nuclear reactors at the naval base in Paldiski and the military facility that processes nuclear waste near Sillamae. On 14 April Toepfer is to sign in Riga a German-Latvian environmental protection accord. BNS also reported on 13-April that Finland had presented Latvia with equipment to monitor activities of industrial enterprises in the Gulf of Riga region; the equipment is designed to test air quality, perform microbiological analyses, and do other tasks necessary for helping clean up the area. -Dzintra Bungs RUSSIAN ASSOCIATION IN LATVIA WANTS RUSSIAN TROOPS OUT. The Russian Citizens' Association, headed by V. Smirnov, and members of the Liepaja city council have taken issue with the Russian government leaders and politicians who link the situation of Russians living in Latvia with the presence of Russian troops there, Diena reported on 13-April. Considering such linkage to be political propaganda, the association says that Russia is seeking excuses for not having completed the troop withdrawal and does not feel that the association's interests are served by such linkage. The association also blames the Russian government, rather than Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, for the demoralized state of the Russian military and feels that the withdrawal of the troops from Latvia could help stop the disintegration of the Russian armed forces. -Dzintra Bungs ESTONIA CRITICIZES RUSSIA ON TROOP WITHDRAWALS. On 13 April at an international conference in Copenhagen on economic prospects for Eastern Europe attended by 19 Western and 11 Eastern Europe states, Estonian Foreign Minister Trivimi Vellisti said that Russia's delay in withdrawing its troops from the Baltic States violated international norms and could have "serious adverse effects," Western media report. The conference that will conclude on 14 April will discuss the lowering and prospective abolishing of custom tariffs between the East and the West, but will not deal with East European countries wishing to join the European Community. -Saulius Girnius RUSSIA TO SELL MORE OIL AND REPAY SOME DEBTS TO LITHUANIA. Lithuanian Deputy Energy Minister Robertas Tamosiunas said that Russia has agreed to sell Lithuania 1.5-million tons of state oil and repay debts of about 5 billion rubles, BNS reported on 13-April. At negotiations last week with the Russian Economy Ministry that Tamosiunas described as very difficult, Russia agreed to resume the sale of the oil that had been cancelled after Lithuania signed a refining contract with Lukoil. The debts for energy and transit costs to Kalingrad will be transferred to Lithuania's 21-billion ruble debt to Lentransgaz for natural gas. A trade-economic cooperation agreement for 1993 between the two countries should be signed soon. -Saulius Girnius CONFLICT OVER BLACK SEA FLEET HEATS UP. The participation of Russian-controlled naval vessels from the Black Sea Fleet in operations connected to the Abkhaz-Georgian conflict has once again raised tensions in Moscow and Kiev over the disposition of the disputed fleet. Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 13-April that Ukrainian legislators had denounced the Russian operations, which were reportedly undertaken without the agreement of Ukrainian authorities. The latest upswing in tensions led the Ukrainian Defense Ministry to threaten renunciation of the Yalta agreement and to demand, failing resolution of this and other problems, the withdrawal of all Russian controlled naval vessels from the territory of Ukraine. In a radio interview broadcast on 13 April, Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk warned that Kiev's patience on the fleet issue was almost at an end. The Russian naval command, meanwhile, in remarks reported by ITAR-TASS on 13-April, charged that Kiev's actions constituted a "provocation" that would worsen the situation surrounding the fleet. -Stephen Foye UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES REVISED BUDGET. On 9 April, after four days of debate, the Ukrainian parliament accepted the revised draft budget for 1993, Ukrainian and Russian media reported.. Before the vote, the Ukrainian Prime Minister Leonid Kuchma successfully appealed to the conservative former Communist majority not to delay the privatization program any further. He stressed: "We must not expect the West to help us; we must rely on ourselves...to overcome this allergy to privatization and land reform." -Bohdan Nahaylo ILIESCU ENDS MIDDLE EAST TOUR. On 13 April Romania's President Ion Iliescu ended a Middle East tour with a six-hour stopover in Beirut., where he held talks on bilateral relations and the Arab-Israeli peace negotiations with Lebanese President Elias Harold and Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Iliescu 's tour began with a three-day visit in the United Arab Emirates and continued with a one-day visit Syria. Rompres reported that Romanians signed economic and trade agreements with both The United Arab Emirates and Syria. -Dan Ionescu EXILED KING CANCELS EASTER VISIT TO ROMANIA. Radio Bucharest announced on 13-April that Romania's former King Michael, who lives in Swiss exile, canceled plans for an Orthodox Easter visit to his native land because of conditions imposed by the authorities. Romania's Foreign Ministry suggested last week that Michael might receive a visa on condition that his visit remained strictly private and that he avoided any political activity. Michael, who was forced to abdicate in December 1947 by the Communists, made several attempts to visit Romania since 1990, including a successful one in April 1992, when he was greeted by enthusiastic crowds. -Dan Ionescu AFTERMATH OF WORKERS' PROTESTS IN ROMANIA. Radio Bucharest broadcast on 13-April a government statement describing the workers' protests of 12 April as an attempt to "replace constructive dialogue with street pressure." On the other hand, Romania's main opposition alliance, the centrist Democratic Convention, expressed support for the protests. In a separate development, the National Trade Union Bloc (NTUB), a union confederation, announced that it would not join a nationwide strike on 20 April to be launched by the National Consultative Council, an organization regrouping some of Romania's largest unions, including Alfa, Fratia (The Brotherhood) and the National Confederation of Romania's Free Trade Unions. The NTUB decided to continue negotiations with the government but said that it may stage strikes later this spring in case the talks failed to produce an agreement, -Dan Ionescu [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Wendy Slater and Jan B. de Weydenthal 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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