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No. 71, 15 April 1993
RUSSIA YELTSIN ON HIS FATE AFTER THE REFERENDUM. President Boris Yeltsin implied at a press conference on 14 April devoted to the forthcoming referendum that he intends to ask Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi to resign because the latter "categorically rejects reform", ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin asserted that should he win the referendum, he would take immediate measures to "neutralize the negative actions of the Supreme Soviet". He stated that if he were to loose the referendum, early presidential elections would be held in the autumn of 1993, but that he would stay in office until then because otherwise a power vacuum could emerge. Meanwhile, Russian news agencies quoted Rutskoi as saying that he will not resign and that in the current situation it was unclear "who would survive whom." -Alexander Rahr ZORKIN WARNS OF CIVIL WAR. Constitutional Court chairman Valerii Zorkin warned on 14 April that attempts to change the constitution could lead to "civil war," Reuters reported. He envisaged a scenario in which attempts by Yeltsin to disregard the constitution could encourage other groups to do the same: "Left and right will try to defend their own understanding of the constitution, which can only lead to civil war," he was reported as saying. Zorkin also warned that if Yeltsin was seeking Rutskoi's resignation, as he had inferred at his press conference held earlier that day, he must prove that Rutskoi had violated the constitution, since any other means of ousting Rutskoi would be unconstitutional. On 14-April Kommersant quoted Sergei Filatov, the head of the presidential staff, as saying that the draft of a new Russian Constitution is ready and will be published for discussion before the referendum. -Wendy Slater YELTSIN MEETS HEADS OF REPUBLICS. After chairing a meeting of the Council of the Heads of Republics on 14 April, President Yeltsin told journalists he was relieved that all the republics had confirmed that they would hold the 25 April referendum, ITAR-TASS reported. In fact the republics have little reason to object to the holding of the referendum now that it does not involve a vote on the new Russian constitution. The council adopted an appeal to voters to participate in the referendum, but the call on them to express their confidence in Yeltsin was dropped from the final text of the appeal. ITAR-TASS said that this was at the suggestion of Yeltsin and the representatives of the subjects of the federation, but Pravda said that only the president of Sakha (Yakutia) and the ex-president of Mordovia had been in favor of its inclusion. -Ann Sheehy YELTSIN WOOS REPUBLICAN HEADS WITH NEW CONSTITUTION. At a meeting with the heads of the republics, Yeltsin dwelt at length on the new draft constitution which he is about to unveil and which he said integrated the federal treaty and grants all the subjects of the federation "extensive autonomy, sovereignty, and rights." Yeltsin maintained that the existing constitution is a mass of contradictions and criticized the Congress of People's Deputies for preferring to introduce endless amendments rather than adopt a new constitution. According to the chairman of the Russian parliament, Ruslan Khasbulatov, the majority of amendments to the existing constitution and all the ones of substance were adopted at the instigation of the president. -Ann Sheehy JOUSTING BETWEEN MOSCOW AND KIEV ON NUCLEAR WEAPONS. Russian defense officials, meeting in Moscow on 14 April with a German delegation led by Defense Minister Volker Ruehe, continued to blame Kiev for the stalemate that has developed over control of strategic nuclear weapons based in Ukraine. According to ADN, the chairman of the Russian parliamentary Committee for Defense and Security Sergei Stepashin assured Ruehe that nuclear weapons in the former Soviet Union present no danger, but he did suggest that intransigence on Kiev's part had led to technical problems in maintaining nuclear weapons in Ukraine. On the same day, ITAR-TASS reported, a first deputy chief of the CIS central military command, Vladimir Krivonogikh, expressed similar concern to the German delegation that Ukraine had thus far "not taken a clear stance in relation to strategic weapons." The statements from Moscow capped a week of recriminations during which Yurii Kostenko, head of a Ukrainian parliamentary committee on nuclear disarmament, urged the West to give Ukraine more time for ratification of START-1 and said that nuclear disarmament would cost Ukraine some $3-billion. On 13 April, ITAR-TASS reported remarks by Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky in which he accused Ukraine of adopting a less than constructive attitude in negotiating nuclear policy with Russia. -Stephen Foye CHERNOMYRDIN FOR EXPANDING GOSZAKAZ. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, on a tour of Russia's southern regions, told farmers in Krasnodar that the system of state contracts (goszakazy) should be strengthened, various Russian news agencies reported on 13-April. State contracts were used extensively by the state in the late 1980's to maintain central distribution of goods but are currently limited to only a portion of defense, agricultural and energy output. Chernomyrdin suggested that such contracting should form the basis of state support for the agricultural sector and should also be expanded in industry. His views echoed similar statements made recently by parliamentarians. -Erik Whitlock LATEST UNEMPLOYMENT ESTIMATES. Oleg Slavutsky, director of Russia's Federal Employment Service, has predicted that the unemployment rate will rise from 1% to about 1.4% by the summer, and to 7%, or 5 million, by the end of the year, according to Reuters on 12-April. On 1 April there were 730,000 officially registered unemployed. Slavutsky claims that another 1.5-million workers represent the "hidden unemployed," or those who are currently on short-time work or unpaid leave. The new law on bankruptcy, which came into effect on 1 April, should force unprofitable enterprises to close down, and lead to sharp rises in the number of unemployed. Minister of Labor Gennadii Melikyan has estimated that the actual number of unemployed is currently 4.5-5 million, but this is not reflected in the official data, since they are not registered with the employment service, ITAR-TASS reported on 9 April. -Sheila Marnie LATEST PRICE AND WAGE INCREASES. In the same interview Melikyan reported that prices for consumer goods have risen by 2.4 times in the past four months, and the average wage by two times. In December 1992 prices rose by 27% and wages by 52%; in January 1993 prices rose by 27% and wages dropped by 2.4%. In February prices increased by 25% and wages by 15%, and in March the increases were 17.4% and 17% respectively. -Sheila Marnie NEW RESTRICTIONS ON FOREIGN BANKS. The Russian Central Bank has put up new barriers to foreign banks wishing to enter Russian financial markets, Reuters and various Russian news agencies reported on 13 and 14 April. Under the new regulations, foreign banks can now hold a maximum 12% ownership share in Russian commercial banks, and can establish their own branches in Russia with a minimum of $5 million. A minimum starting capital of only $130,000 is required from Russian banks. The actions are designed to protect Russian banks from Western competition and limit additional channels of capital flight from the country. -Erik Whitlock COUP PLOTTERS GO ON TRIAL. On 14 April, the opening day of the trial of the twelve former high Soviet officials accused of treason for their part in the failed coup of August 1991, the defendants attempted unsuccessfully to challenge the legitimacy of the charges, the prosecutors, and the trial itself. However, their claims that the Russian court had no right to try a case concerning the now defunct Soviet Union were dismissed, as were allegations of improprieties in the prosecution. The session was reported by various Russian and Western media. One defendant, Aleksandr Tizyakov, was taken ill during the session and hospitalized. Former Vice President Gennadii Yanaev, in an interview on British TV the same day, repeated his accusations that Mikhail Gorbachev had himself initiated the plan to introduce a state of emergency and that Yeltsin knew of the plans. Observers concurred that the defendants would attempt to turn the trial into a political spectacle and would drag out proceedings for as long as possible. -Wendy Slater CONCERN OVER RUSSIAN DIET. The State Com-mittee on Sanitary-Epidemiological Control has expressed concern over the unbalanced diet of the population, ITAR-TASS reported on 14 April. The consumption of potatoes and grain products rose by 13% and 4% respectively in 1992, while the consumption of milk and meat products declined by 28% and 9% respectively. The intake of Vitamins A and C was 34% and 50% short of the recommended norm. -Keith Bush TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA OZAL RAISES POSSIBILITY OF TURKISH-AZERBAIJANI MILITARY ALLIANCE. Addressing the Azerbaijani parliament on the second day of his three day visit to Baku, Turkish President Turgut Ozal again condemned the Armenian annexation of parts of Azerbaijan's territory and hinted that if all other means fail, Turkey might consider a military alliance with Azerbaijan, Western agencies reported. Azerbaijani President Abulfaz Elchibey conceded that the Karabakh issue could not be solved by war, and indicated that Azerbaijan was hoping that international diplomatic pressure would constrain Armenia to withdraw its troops from Azerbaijani territory over the next 3-4 months. Meanwhile fighting continued around the town of Fizuli, south-east of Nagorno-Karabakh. In Tehran a majority of parliament deputies signed a petition calling on the Iranian government to condemn Armenian "aggression" and increase "moral and material support" to Azerbaijan. -Liz Fuller KYRGYZ LEGISLATURE REJECTS DUAL CITIZENSHIP. The protracted debate of a draft constitution for Kyrgyzstan continued in the country's Supreme Soviet on 14 April. According to ITAR-TASS, the deputies voted to reject dual citizenship for citizens of the country. During public discussion of the draft constitution, some non-Kyrgyz citizens had appealed for recognition of dual citizenship, as well as for designation of Russian as the language of interethnic communication. The Supreme Soviet has rejected both pleas. -Bess Brown TAJIK PROSECUTOR CHARGES KHUDONAZAROV. ITAR-TASS reported on 14 April that Tajikistan's State Prosecutor has charged film maker and political leader Davlat Khudonazarov, former chairman of the USSR Cinematographers' Union, with attempting to overthrow the constitutional order and inciting civil war. The same charges were made earlier against the top leaders of the parties which made up an anti-Communist coalition of democratic, Tajik and Pamiri nationalist and Islamic parties and groups in 1992. Tajik government sources say that the opposition leaders who have been charged with fomenting the civil war have taken refuge in either Russia or Afghanistan, where some are forming a government in exile. The decision to prosecute Khudonazarov, who was the unsuccessful candidate of the democratic opposition in the November 1991 presidential elections, is somewhat surprising given his prominence as the best-known Tajik opposition figure in the CIS. The charge that he incited civil war is especially ironic, since he tried repeatedly to reconcile the warring factions during the fighting in the second half of 1992. -Bess Brown TURKMENISTAN TO HAVE NEW ALPHABET IN 1996. Turkmenistan's President Saparmurad Niyazov has issued a decree on the replacement of the present Cyrillic-based alphabet used to write the Turkmen language with an alphabet to be based on the Latin script. The new alphabet is to be introduced on 1 January 1996. Recently Turkish and Central Asian Turkic specialists announced an agreement under which all the Turkic-speaking states would adopt Latin-based alphabets. -Bess Brown CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE PRESSURE ON SERBIA MOUNTS. US Special envoy Reginald Batholomew, following a meeting with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic in Belgrade, said that the international community "will make Serbia a pariah state for as far ahead as we can see," unless the Bosnian Serbs sign on fully to the Vance-Owen peace plan, according to the Washington Post. He spoke as Bosnian Serb forces continued their offensive intended to eliminate Muslim resistance in eastern Bosnia. Bartholomew also noted that the US would ask the UN to end the arms embargo in Bosnia should the Serbs fail to sign the accord. His comments came on the heels of a plea by former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, for decisive Western action in Bosnia. For the moment however, such action is unlikely because of events in Russia, a traditional ally of Serbia. Western leaders fear that such moves as lifting the arms embargo on Bosnia could jeopardize Russian President Boris Yeltsin's chances in the 25 April national referendum on reform. Finally, in a related story, General Philippe Morillion, commander of the UN forces in Bosnia, will be replaced, according to Le Monde and other French sources. A successor has not been named and the French Foreign Ministry has been at pains to argue that the removal of the contoversial general does not signal caving in to Serbian demands that he be replaced. -Duncan Perry SERBS IMPOSE DANUBE TRANSIT FEE ON ROMANIA. A spokeswoman for the Romanian Ministry of Transport told Reuters on 14 April that Belgrade has imposed a steep transit fee on Romanian ships transiting Serbia on the Danube in retaliation for Bucharest's efforts to enforce the UN embargo against rump Yugoslavia. An official in the Danube port of Giurgiu told Reuters the fee amounted to 7,500 US dollars per ship. In another development, Radio Bucharest said on 14-April that consultations had been underway in Bucharest between Romanian and Bulgarian diplomats concerning coordination of the supervision of the embargo in line with the WEU initiative on this matter. The consultations will be followed by negotiations between the two countries, on one hand, and the WEU, on the other hand, concerning collaboration in the embargo supervision. -Michael Shafir SERB-BULGARIAN RAIL LINK REOPENS. Railway traffic between Serbia and Bulgaria is being restored, a Bulgarian official said on 14 April. Bulgarian State Railways Director Atanas Tonev told BTA that the blockade caused by a strike among Serbian railway workers has been lifted and that trains have begun to move in both directions. Tonev said also that owing to the current traffic jam at the border it would take 3 to 4-days before traffic runs normally. -Kjell Engelbrekt DENMARK RECOGNIZES MACEDONIA WHILE GREEK MACEDONIA TALKS PROCEED. Denmark became the first EC country to recognize the Republic of Macedonia as a sovereign state on 14 April, according to Reuters. Meantime, the talks between Greece, which has blocked Macedonia's recognition by the EC, and Macedonia are making progress concerning their differences over Macedonia's official name, national symbols and other issues. -Duncan Perry WORLD BANK HOPES TO HELP RELAUNCH BULGARIAN PRIVATIZATION. A World Bank mission visiting Sofia is investigating ways to speed up Bulgaria's delayed privatization, a government spokesman told Reuters on 14 April. Spokesman Boyan Petkov said World Bank economists are paying special attention to the idea of setting up investment funds to help finance privatization, as well as to the possibility of debt-equity swaps between Bulgaria's semi-independent commercial banks and deeply indebted state firms. In Kontinent daily, Director of the Agency for Privatization, Aleksandar Bozhkov, complained that politicians thus far have been unwilling to provide his organization with much needed power to act. -Kjell Engelbrekt HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT ADOPTS SECURITY POLICY. On 14 April, Hungary's parliament unanimously adopted the basic principles of Hungary's national security, MTI reports The parliament moved that Hungary has currently no discernible enemy and considers all countries respecting the basic principles of international law as partners. Hungary sees its security as based primarily on eventual membership in the EC, NATO, and the West European Union. It regards the recognition of the rights of Magyar minorities as a basic requirement for good relations with its neighbors. Hungary rejects forced changes of borders and all attempted modifications of the ethnic make-up of populations. The document obliges the government to report to parliament at least once a year on the condition of the armed forces. -Edith Oltay HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT BANS TOTALITARIAN SYMBOLS. On 14 April, the Hungarian parliament voted by 130 to 73 and 23 abstentions to amend the penal code to allow for the banning of the public display of Nazi and Communist symbols, MTI reports. Under the amendment, "the wearing of Swastika, SS badge, arrow-cross (the Hungarian fascist symbol), hammer-and-sickle or five-pointed red star, or dissemination of such symbols, or their public display constitutes an offense" punishable by a fine or imprisonment of up to one year. The bill was introduced by the largest governing party, the Hungarian Democratic Forum, following an incident at the anniversary of the 1956 revolution last October when President Arpad Goncz was prevented from delivering his speech by skinheads wearing Nazi symbols. Police was criticized for not acting to disperse the skinheads but the display of fascist symbols was not legally prohibited at the time. -Edith Oltay ANTALL MEETS CROATIAN PARLIAMENTARY DELEGATION. On 14 April, Hungarian Prime Minister Jozsef Antall met with a Croatian parliamentary delegation headed by President Stipe Mesic, MTI reports. Antall stressed that Hungary will continue to support Croatia at all international forums, and regretted that the West was slow to recognize the dangers that the Balkan war entailed. He termed the situation of ethnic Hungarians in Vojvodina extremely grave and reiterated that their interests will continue to shape Hungary's policy toward the Balkans. Both sides evaluated the development of bilateral relations very positively and called for deeping economic ties. -Edith Oltay SEJM REJECTS VISA APPEAL. The Sejm has rejected an appeal drafted by a group of deputies urging that the government introduce tighter immigration controls for citizens of former Soviet Union countries, PAP reported on 14 April. The draft appeal referred to the possibility of a temporary introduction of visas, with preferential treatment being given to persons of Polish origin, and demanded that the government report to the Sejm by the end of April on what it was doing to prevent illegal trading, smuggling of liquor and radioactive materials, illegal export of hard currency, and crime, whose rapid increase has been connected to the flood of visitors from the East. Although the appeal failed to gain acceptance by 185 to 121 with 25-abstentions, the government received much criticism for its lack of action. Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka POPE ON AUSCHWITZ CARMEL. In a letter to the Carmelite nuns still in residence on the site of the former Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz, John Paul II emphasized that it was the "will of the Church" that they move to a new center just outside of the camp's perimeter. The presence of Catholic nuns on the holocaust site had been a source of distress to many Jews and representatives of the Catholic Church had agreed in 1987 to the nuns' transfer to a new multidenominational Center for Information, Meeting, Dialogue, Education and Prayer. Now that construction of the new center is almost complete, the nuns, who had not been consulted, are reluctant to abandon their original abode. According to the local bishop, Tadeusz Rakoczy, who had handed the Pope's letter to them, the nuns were now prepared to bow to the will of the Church. The Catholic Church is anxious not to allow the carmel to cast a cloud over next week's commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising. PAP quoted the Vatican spokesman on 14-April as saying that the Pope's letter did not constitute a formal order for the nuns to move. Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka ESTONIAN LEADERS CRITICIZE HUMAN RIGHTS IN RUSSIA. Estonian president Lennart Meri and over 40 Estonian parliamentarians have urged in separate messages the Russian government and Supreme Soviet to uphold the human rights of Finno-Ugric peoples in Russia. They acted after the Russian militia on 29 March apparently beat to death Prokopi Sopachin, a Khanty human rights activist, and beat up Auzori Barakalaya, a student from Tartu. Meri also appealed to the presidents of Hungary and Finland to launch joint actions to save the Finno-Ugric peoples and their unique cultures. The two statements are dated 13 and 14 April. -Dzintra Bungs LATVIA COOPERATES WITH MOLDOVA AND TURKEY. Radio Riga reported on 14 April that an accord on cooperation in legal matters had been signed by the state prosecutors of Latvia and Moldova. The expansion of trade and economic cooperation was discussed that day by Latvian Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis and Turkey's ambassador Erkan Gezer. The Turkish foreign minister is expected in Riga in May to restore the pre-World War II friendship agreements that existed between Turky and the three Baltic States. -Dzintra Bungs LITHUANIAN AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA PRESENTS HIS CREDENTIALS. Romualdas Kozyrovicius, Lithuania's first ambassador to Russia since the end of World War II, presented his credentials to Russian vice president Aleksandr Rutskoi in Moscow on 14 April. When Lithuania regained its independence in 1990, its mission-later embassy-in Moscow was headed by Egidius Bickauskas, now the deputy speaker of the Lithuania's parliament, BNS reported on 14 April. -Dzintra Bungs LITHUANIAN BORDER GUARDS DETAIN KURDISH REFUGEES. Over 50 refugees were detained in Vilnius on 11 April and sent back to Minsk the same day. Lithuanian officials suspect that around 300 Kurds are waiting in Minsk for propitious circumstances for a transfer from Belarus to Scandinavia, via Lithuania. Some of the Kurds had come to Vilnius in a bus, while others had taken the train traveling from Minsk via Kaliningrad, BNs reported on 14 April. -Dzintra Bungs ESTONIAN BORDER GUARDS INTERCEPT RUSSIAN SHIP. Estonian border guards intercepted two Russian ship near the island of Saaremaa, BNS reported on 14-April. The ships had violated the regulations of crossing the Estonian territorial waters. They ships were allowed subsequently to leave the Tallinn port where they had to take care of the formalities. In the past two months five such violations have been reported by the Estonian authorities.-Dzintra Bungs LATVIAN BANKS LOWER INTEREST RATES, MORE LATI INTRODUCED. BNS reported on 13 April that as a consequence the Bank of Latvia's recent reduction of its interests rates, commercial banks in Latvia are starting to follow suit. The Riga-based Neftehimbank has lowered by about 40% the interest rates charged in 1992 (about 140-160%). BNS also reported on 13 April that the two-lati coin, worth 400 Latvian rubles, is to become available on 15-April. This would be the third unit of currency that Latvia has reintroduced since 5-March. -Dzintra Bungs INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS SEMINAR OPENS IN KIEV. A two-day international seminar on human rights was opened in Kiev on 14 April by Deputy Prime Minister Mykola Zhulynsky, Ukrainian TV reported. It is organized by the Council of Europe, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry and the Institute for International Relations. -Bohdan Nahaylo UKRAINIAN LAWYERS CONTINUE STRIKE. Ukrainian TV reported on 14 April that the strike begun by Ukrainian lawyers on 5 April is continuing. The lawyers are demanding, among other things, higher renumeration through exemptions from taxation and more professional working conditions. -Bohdan Nahaylo KRAVCHUK SACKS CONTROVERSIAL KIEV OFFICIAL. Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk has sacked his controversial representative in Kiev, Ivan Salii, Ukrainian Radio reported on 14 April. Salii was accused of "systematically" overstepping his prerogatives which led to a prolonged conflict with the city's local authorities. -Bohdan Nahaylo UKRAINIAN DELEGATIONS VISITING CHINA AND PERSIAN GULF STATES. A Ukrainian governmental delegation headed by Prime Minister Leonid Kuchma is currently visiting the Persian Gulf States. It is hoping to establish full diplomatic relations with these states and is seeking new sources of oil for Ukraine. Meanwhile, a parliamentary delagation led by the speaker of the Ukrainian parliament Ivan Plyushch is visiting China, Ukrainian media report on 12 April. -Bohdan Nahaylo SLOVAK PARLIAMENTARIANS IN ROMANIA. A Slovak parliamentary delegation headed by parliament vice-chairman Josef Prokes of the Slovak National Party met in Bucharest with Romanian parliamentarians, Radio Bucharest said on 14 April. Prokes said Hungary is "abusing the tolerance" displayed in both Romania and Slovakia toward the Hungarian national minorities living there, adding that this affects negatively European stability. -Michael Shafir MELESCANU ON HUNGARIAN CONSULATE. According to the independent daily Evenimentul zilei of 14 April, Romania's foreign minister Teodor Melescanu has recently suggested that Hungary open a consulate in either Harghita or Covasna (two counties where the Hungarian ethnic minority makes up the majority of the population) instead of Cluj. The controversy over the opening of the Hungarian consulate in Cluj, (Transylvania's largest town) has long marred Romanian-Hungarian relations. The daily also says Melescanu suggested widening some (unspecified) rights of the Hungarian minority in exchange for the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania's cooperation with the ministry he heads. In another development, Radio Bucharest said on 14 April that the first meeting of the recently-established Council for National Minorities was held in Bucharest under the chairmanship of the government's secretary general, Viorel Hrebenciuc. -Michael Shafir [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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