To appreciate nonsense requires a serious interest in life. - Gelett Burgess
RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 72, 16 April 1993







RUSSIA



YELTSIN SAYS HE WILL IGNORE CONGRESS RULING ON VOTE COUNT. At
a meeting with representatives of the democratic movement on
15 April, President Boris Yeltsin was quoted by Russian and Western
news agencies as saying that he would issue a decree stipulating
that the results of the referendum shall be determined by the
majority of those who turn up at the ballot boxes, and not by
the majority of eligible voters as demanded by the Congress of
People's Deputies. The Congress insisted that, according to the
law on referenda, the count should be based on the total of eligible
voters. Yeltsin's supporters point out, however, that the law
stipulates this provision for counting votes only as regards
questions that concern constitutional amendments. The 25 April
referendum does not pose such questions. -Vera Tolz

YELTSIN PUNISHES HIS DISSENTING VICE-PRESIDENT. The day after
Yeltsin had inferred that he would be requesting the resignation
of his Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi, the latter's armoured
Mercedes limousine was replaced by a Volga car, the number of
his bodyguards was reduced from 16 to four , and his personal
physician was recalled, according to the 15 April Russian TV
"Novosti." The program quoted Rutskoi's spokesman Andrei Fedorov
as saying that the decision "demonstrates the intellectual level"
of the officials responsible. Last year, former Soviet president
Mikhail Gorbachev was similarly punished for having criticized
Yeltsin when he was given a Volga car in place of his limousine,
and when the premises of his think tank, the Gorbachev foundation,
were confiscated. -Julia Wishnevsky

RUTSKOI TO BE STRIPPED OF POST. At his 15 April meeting with
democratic groups, Yeltsin announced that within the next few
days, Aleksandr Rutskoi would be removed from the post of overall
responsibility for Russian agriculture, various Russian and Western
media reported. Rutskoi would, however, retain the post of chairman
of the commission for combatting crime. A long article by Rutskoi,
published in Pravda of 15 April, criticised govermnment agricultural
policy. Later that day, Yeltsin said that Rutskoi, "with the
honor of an officer, should have resigned long ago if he had
disagreements with the president." -Wendy Slater

G-7 APPROVES MULTILATERAL ASSISTANCE. The seven most advanced
industrial nations, the G-7, have endorsed an aid plan of $28.4
billion for Russia, various Western news agencies reported on
15 April. The assistance includes a proposed $3 billion from
the International Monetary Fund, to be disbursed immediately
after the Russian government produces a memorandum reaffirming
its commitment to reform and macro-economic stabilization. Additional
loans of over $14 billion will be forthcoming from the IMF and
the World Bank if Russia meets certain macro-economic policy
targets. Other multilateral financial institutions are being
urged to make available over $10 billion in loans for essential
imports and the development of Russian small- and medium-sized
businesses. The sums contained in the plan include much money
earmarked but not used last year due to Russia's inability to
meet the conditions for its release. -Erik Whitlock

KOZYREV ON TIES WITH JAPAN. The territorial issue between Moscow
and Tokyo must not eclipse other problems of Russo-Japanese relations,
Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev said in Tokyo on 15 April.
Kozyrev was attending the G-7 foreign and finance ministers'
conference on aid to Russia. Kozyrev said Yeltsin might visit
Japan in May, depending on the results of the April referendum,
ITAR-TASS reported. -Suzanne Crow

CHURKIN'S BALKAN VISITS. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vitalii
Churkin continued talks in Belgrade on 15 April in an effort
to convince the Bosnian Serbs to accept the Vance-Owen peace
plan. Churkin was quoted by ITAR-TASS as saying: "If the Bosnian
Serbs refuse to sign maps of future provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina,
contained in the Vance and Owen plan, I of course will be disappointed
but I shall understand them, since they have to take very difficult
decisions which are aggravated by the fact that they have no
leader capable of assuming full responsibility for this step."
Following talks in Belgrade, Churkin traveled to Zagreb where
he will meet a group of Russian parliamentarians touring the
former Yugoslav republics. -Suzanne Crow

PROMOTION OF YELTSIN ALLY. Boris Yeltsin has appointed a long-standing
ally, Oleg Lobov, to the post of First Deputy Prime Minister,
various agencies reported on 15 April. (The post of Vladimir
Shumeiko, also a First Deputy Prime Minister is unaffected.)
Lobov, born in 1937, rose through the communist party to become
second secretary of the Armenian Communist Party. He served as
Yeltsin's direct subordinate in 1983-1985 when the latter was
first secretary of the Sverdlovsk regional party organization.
Lobov was defeated in 1990 by hardliner Ivan Polozkov in elections
to the leadership of the Russian Communist Party. He was briefly
Russian First Deputy Prime Minister in the Silaev government
in 1990-1991. His most recent appointment was to chair Yeltsin's
council of experts in September 1992. Before this he served as
an advisor to parliamentary chairman Ruslan Khasbulatov. Lobov,
who will be entrusted with economic matters, is seen as an ally
of the industrialists rather than a radical reformer. -Wendy
Slater

POLITICAL BLOCS ON REFERENDUM. The Democratic Russia movement
is calling on people to express support for Yeltsin and his economic
reforms in the 25-April referendum. The movement also thinks
that people should vote in favor of early parliamentary elections
but reject the proposal for early presidential elections. The
Russian media reported on 14-April that the Civic Union is divided
over the referendum. The majoirty of its leaders are calling
on voters to answer positively to the questions of early presidential
and parliamentary elections, but negatively to the questions
on trust in the president and his policies. One of the CU leaders,
Arkadii Volsky, said, however, that he thinks that if on the
eve of the referendum Yeltsin promises to alter his economic
policies, the CU should urge people to vote for the president.
The recently revived Russian Communist Party issued a statement
urging the population not to support the president, to support
the proposal for new presidential elections, and to say "no"
to the question of early parliamentary elections. -Vera Tolz


RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT RATIFIES CIS CHARTER. On 15 April the Russian
parliament ratified the CIS charter, ITAR-TASS reported. The
charter, which was signed by seven CIS heads of state at the
Minsk summit in January, had been ratified by the Kazakhstan
parliament at the end of March. First Deputy Foreign Minister
Anatolii Adamshin, who presented the document to the Russian
parliament, said the charter was aimed at strengthening the centripetal
tendencies in the CIS and was yet another proof that the CIS
was moving not towards a civilized divorce, as some predicted
on its creation, but towards civilized work. -Ann Sheehy

COMMONWEALTH OF INDEPENDENT STATES



EXTRAORDINARY CIS SUMMIT IN MINSK. The extraordinary CIS summit
to be held in Minsk in the afternoon of 16 April will be attended
by all the CIS heads of state except for the Turkmen and Kyrgyz
presidents, who will be absent on the grounds of health and another
engagement respectively, CIS and Western media reported on 15
and 16 April. The summit, which, contrary to an earlier report,
will not necessarily replace the regular summit planned for 30
April in Yerevan, was called on President Yeltsin's initiative
to discuss the strengthening of the Commonwealth. There are no
specific documents on the agenda, and Yeltsin's main aim seems
to be to seek the support of the other CIS leaders in the run-up
to the Russian referendum. -Ann Sheehy

ARMY NEWSPAPER PREVIEWS CIS MEETING. The Russian Ministry of
Defense newspaper Krasnaya zvezda speculated on 16 April that
the issue of CIS collective security would be one of the main
topics of discussion at the meeting of CIS Heads of States, scheduled
for that day in Minsk. Commentator Oleg Falichev suggested, in
fact, that an earlier request for action on CIS military matters
sent by CIS Commander in Chief Evgenii Shaposhnikov to Presidents
Boris Yeltsin and Nursultan Nazarbaev may have been an important
reason for convening the meeting. Falichev notes that it is almost
a year since the Collective Security Treaty was signed, but suggests
that the failure of CIS governments to implement it may have
been one reason why the Central Asian states and Kazakhstan recently
moved to set up a regional union. He quotes CIS command spokesman
Leonid Ivashov as saying that the CIS military leadership is
giving priority to the creation of coordinated peacekeeping and
air defense forces. -Stephen Foye

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA



BAN ON BIRLIK EXPIRES. An official ban on the activities of Uzbekistan's
Birlik opposition movement expired on 15 April. The group's co-chairman
Shukhrat Ismatullaev told an RFE/RL correspondent in Tashkent
that Birlik had not heard from the authorities about the outcome
of an official investigation of the organization, and that if
there has been no official word by Monday 19 April, Birlik will
resume its activities. The ban, which represented the culmination
of an official campaign of harassment during the second half
of 1992, was imposed by the Supreme Court of Uzbekistan in January
1993, ostensibly to give the authorities time to determine whether
Birlik members had broken the law, as was claimed by law enforcement
officials. -Bess Brown

AKAEV PROPOSES ELECTIONS IN FALL. Kyrgyzstan's Supreme Soviet
began the second reading of a draft constitution on 15 April,
methodically depriving the president of the powers which the
legislature had approved on the first reading, ITAR-TASS reported.
President Askar Akaev, who has seen several of his reform proposals
jettisoned by the legislature, accused the Supreme Soviet of
trying to grab all power for the legislative branch and called
for either the creation of a constitutional assembly to approve
a new constitution or the holding of presidential and parliamentary
elections in the fall. These suggestions are likely to find favor
with the Kyrgyz democratic opposition, which has expressed reservations
about entrusting the adoption of a post-independence constitution
to a legislature elected in 1990 when the republic was tightly
controlled by one of the most conservative Communist Party leaderships
in Central Asia. -Bess Brown

TAJIKISTAN'S LEADERSHIP HOPES TO STEM RUSSIAN EXODUS. In hopes
of slowing, if not stopping, the migration of the Russian-speaking
population out of Tajikistan, the country's leadership is considering
revising the law on the state language to give Russian equal
status with Tajik, ITAR-TASS reported on 15 April. The Russian
community in the Central Asian state is expected to propose additional
measures, including the recognition of dual citizenship. According
to official sources, more than 150,000 non-Tajiks have left in
the period since the collapse of the Soviet Union, and government
sources fear the loss of the country's most qualified industrial
workers and medical and scientific specialists. Similar fears
have been voiced by republican leaders since the late 1980s.
The Dushanbe riots of 1990 and the civil war of 1992 only accelerated
a flight of Russian speakers that was already underway. -Bess
Brown

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE



IS SREBRENICA ABOUT TO FALL? INTERNATIONAL MEDIA REPORTED ON
16 APRIL THAT A MAJOR SERB OFFENSIVE THE PREVIOUS NIGHT HAS ALL
BUT BROKEN THE DEFENSE OF THE EMBATTLED MUSLIM ENCLAVE IN EASTERN
BOSNIA. The BBC and Spanish Radio say that panic has taken hold
of the civilian population, and it is not clear whether a negotiated
surrender will be possible or on what terms. On 15 April a UN
relief convoy left the town but Bosnian officials allowed the
UN to take along only five civilians. The Bosnians say that the
evacuations assist the Serb policy of ethnic cleansing and demand
that Bosnian wounded be evacuated by helicopter first, a condition
that the Serbs have refused to accept. On 14 and 15 April, moreover,
the BBC and Borba reported fighting between Croats and Muslims
near Mostar and Travnik as both sides seek to shore up their
positions in preparation for any peace settlement. -Patrick Moore


OTHER DEVELOPMENTS IN THE YUGOSLAV AREA. On 15 April Western
news agencies quoted Croatian parliament speaker Stipe Mesic
as calling on NATO to end the fighting by creating a buffer zone
around Serbia. Meanwhile in Croatia itself, the weekly Globus
on 16-April carries a fresh opinion poll that reaffirms two trends
generally evident in Croatian polls this year: first, that the
country is moving toward a two party system, and second, that
the Croatian Social Liberal Party is quickly catching up to the
ruling Croatian Democratic Community in overall popularity. President
Franjo Tudjman remains the most popular politician with 30% of
the total, but Liberal leader Drazen Budisa is less than five
points behind him. This marks a slip in popularity for Tudjman
since last summer's elections rather than a gain for Budisa,
but the Liberals are picking up strength in Slavonia and in the
Split area. Finally, the 16 April Politika reports that masked
men the previous day robbed the troubled Jugoskandik Bank in
Belgrade of DM 3.5 million, or virtually the last of the bank's
hard-currency holdings. -Patrick Moore

SERBIA CLARIFIES DANUBE TRANSIT FEE. A spokesman for the Romanian
ministry of foreign affairs said on 15 April that Serbia has
notified Bucharest that the transit fee on the Danube will apply
to all embarkations transiting its territory on the river, and
not to Romania's ships alone. One day earlier, Reuter reported
from Bucharest that Belgrade was imposing the transit fee on
Romanian embarkations in retaliation for Bucharest's compliance
with the UN sanctions against rump Yugoslavia. The Romanian spokesman
added that his country has asked the Security Council to rule
whether the provisions of the Danube Convention are still in
force. -Michael Shafir

ROMANIA DENIES BREAKING UN EMBARGO. Romania rejected accusations
by Bulgaria that it had violated the UN embargo on rump Yugoslavia
by delivering oil to Serbia. In a statement of the transport
ministry carried by Radio Bucharest on 14 March, it was stated
that a Romanian ship towing barages loaded with oil had not reached
the Serbian port of Prahovo, as claimed in Sofia, but returned
to Romania from the Bulgarian port of Vidin, where the ship had
been detained by Bulgarian customs and police authorities. The
statement did not make it clear, however, why the Bulgarian officials
had taken over the ship. A Bulgarian foreign office statement
carried by Western agencies said the Romanian tugboat was seen
on 11 April towing five barages with 6,000 tons of oil to the
Serb section on the Danube and that on 15-April the tugboat was
spotted without the barages heading downstream. The tugboat had
sailed upstream from Vidin without permission, after having been
denied clearance by the custom authorities. Bulgaria has instructed
its representatives to the UN to inform the sanctions committee
of the Security Council of the case. -Michael Shafir.

BULGARIAN CENTRIST PARTIES TO COOPERATE. Twelve political parties
and groups sharing centrist views signed on 15 April a protocol
of cooperation, BTA reports. Among them are the mainly Turkish
Movement for Rights and Freedoms, the Alternative Social Liberal
Party-formerly in the Union of Democratic Forces, the Bulgarian
Social Democratic Party and the Green Party. The loosely formed
coalition, which is to work together on drafting alternative
proposals for the parliament, is called the Council for Cooperation.
In Otechestven vestnik of the same day, a commentator suggested
that the coalition might secure the political future of President
Zhelyu Zhelev, who in mid-March broke completely with UDF leaders.
-Kjell Engelbrekt

BULGARIA'S ETHNIC, RELIGIOUS MAKE-UP. On 15-April the National
Statistical Institute presented the current ethnic and religious
make-up of Bulgaria. NSI officials said the 1992 December census
had shown that, out of a total population of 8,472,724 citizens,
822,000 [or 9.7%] are Turks. The second largest group, the Gypsies,
was put at 288,000 [or 3.4%]. The figures for smaller ethnic
communities were not provided, but Muslims were said to account
for 1,078,000 and Christians 7,373,000. First to react, the Muslim
Spiritual Union in Bulgaria expressed deep disbelief in the new
figures, saying it represented "another attempt to fool the international
community about the true size of the Muslims , aimed at preventing
the full restoration of their rights." Under the last years of
communist leader Todor Zhivkov, Bulgarian authorities denied
the existence of a Muslim, or Turkish, minority. -Kjell Engelbrekt


CZECH REPUBLIC AND SLOVAKIA ADMITTED TO GATT. The Czech Republic
and Slovakia were formally admitted to the General Agreement
on Trade and Tariffs (GATT) on 15 April, agencies reported. While
the former Czechoslovak federation had been a member, its two
successor states were only given provisional membership after
the country's split on 1-January 1993. -Jan Obrman

CZECH FOREIGN CURRENCY RESERVES INCREASE. A spokesman for the
Czech National Bank informed journalists that its foreign currency
reserves have increased by US $424-million since the beginning
of the year, CTK reported on 15 April; they amount to more than
$1 billion. The Slovak National Bank has announced that it will,
for the first time, publish information on Slovakia's hard currency
reserves. Slovak Minister of the Economy Jaroslav Kubicka revealed
at a press conference on 8 April that the reserves decreased
from US $ 250 million in January to $ 20 to $ 25 million in early
April. -Jan Obrman

60% SLOVAKS NERVOUS ABOUT FUTURE. According to a public opinion
poll published on 15 April, some 50% of Slovak citizens would
vote against the split of the Czechoslovak federation if a referendum
was held today, while only 29% would vote in favor. The opinion
poll, conducted in late March by the Center for Social Analysis,
was distributed by CTK. Some 79% of the respondents said that
the split was carried out in haste and only 18% declared that
Slovakia "was ripe" to become independent. About 60% of the Slovaks
expressed "fear" about the future of the independent Slovak state.
The opinion poll was sponsored by the Washington-based National
Endowment for Democracy and the American Jewish Committee. -Jan
Obrman

CONFUSING SIGNALS ON RUSSIAN TROOP WITHDRAWALS. Baltic media
reported on 15-April that contradictory messages were coming
from Moscow regarding the pullout of Russian troops from the
Baltic States. Boris Yeltsin is reported to have told a Russian
audience in Moscow's Bolshoi Theater that Russian troops would
remain in Estonia and Latvia as long as the rights of ethnic
Russians were being violated there. But Dutch Foreign Minister
Pieter Hendrick Kooijman told Latvian officials that same day
that Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev had assured him
on 13 April that his country was not linking its foreign policy
with the problems of human rights in Latvia. At the same time,
Russian troops withdrawals appear to be continuing. Latvian official
Ilgonis Upmalis told the press that so far troops have vacated
160 of the 800 military installations in Latvia. Upmalis also
said that the Russian fleet has announced that it would leave
Latvian territory by the end of 1994. -Dzintra Bungs

BRAZAUSKAS IN LONDON. Both Lithuanian president Algirdas Brazauskas
and British Prime Minister John Major expressed satisfaction
over their hour-long meeting on 14 April in London, BNS reported
on 15-April. The two leaders discussed problems of Russian troop
withdrawals from Lithuania, possibilities of joint ventures and
foreign investments in Lithuania, development of Lithuania's
banking system, and migration and crime. Major accepted an invitation
to visit Lithuania, but noted that such a visit would probably
not be possible this year. Brazauskas also met with EBRD officials
and discussed the reintroduction of the litas. -Dzintra Bungs


RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT RATIFIFIES TREATY ON CONVICTS WITH LATVIA.
On 15 April the Russian Supreme Soviet ratified a treaty with
Latvia allowing convicts, sentenced in one country, to serve
out their terms in their home country. The Latvian Supreme Council
ratified the treaty already on 30 March. According to Russian
Prosecutor General Valentin Stepankov, the treaty could affect
three women and the former Omon leader Sergei Parfenov, who is
currently serving a prison term in Latvia. -Dzintra Bungs

SEJM PASSES NEW ELECTORAL LAW. The Sejm passed a new electoral
law by 239 votes to 132, with 4-abstentions, PAP reported on
15 April. The bill, which still needs the approval of the Senate
and the president, aims to end the political fragmentation by
reducing the number of parties represented in parliament. Only
parties that overcome the 5% hurdle (8% in the case of party
coalitions) will be entitled to seats. Voters will be able to
choose individual candidates from party-sponsored lists. Right-of-center
opposition parties have criticized the new law as being disadvantageous
to them. The next general elections are scheduled to be held
in the fall of 1995 but several opposition parties have been
calling for early elections in the hope of increasing their parliamentary
representation. -Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka

POLAND PREPARES FOR GHETTO ANNIVERSARY. PAP reported on 15 April
that some 3,500 to 5,000 people from Israel and many other countries
are expected to attend events connected with the 50th anniversary
of the uprising in the Warsaw ghetto that began on 19-April 1943
and held out for a month before the Nazis finally raised it to
ground, leaving only a handful of survivors. The events, organized
under the joint patronage of Polish President Lech Walesa and
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, include a number of commemorative
events, concerts and exhibitions throughout the country. Vice-President
Al Gore will represent the USA. A number of books and albums
have been published, including a first unabridged translation
into Polish of Anne Frank's Diary. The Independent Students Union
is hosting a group of Israeli students. In a three-day build
up to the anniversary, the Catholic Church has organized a number
of events aimed at defeating long-standing prejudices and misunderstandings
between Poles and Jews. -Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka

SCANDAL IN POLISH HEALTH MINISTRY. After the question of a conflict
of interest was raised in connection with contracts signed between
an Austrian medical consulting company and the Polish ministry
of health, the Sejm's health commission has asked the Supreme
Audit chamber to examine the contracts and to rule on the propriety
of the ministry's decision to appoint the company as its plenipotentiary
in servicing a foreign credit of $ 200-million {earmarked for
health service investments. PAP quoted the minister, Andrzej
Wojtyla on 15 April as saying that the company in question had
not yet received any payment and that its activities on behalf
of the ministry had been suspended immediately after doubts as
to the propriety of the contract had been raised. -Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka


KRAVCHUK SLAMS WEST'S APPROACH TO RUSSIA AND UKRAINE. Ukrainian
President Leonid Kravchuk has again criticized the West for allegedly
concentrating its attention and aid on Russia while at the same
time ignoring Ukraine and disregarding its interests as a state.
In an interview given to Reuters on 15-April Kravchuk said that
while he supported Western aid to Russia, it should not exclude
Ukraine and the other newly independent states. He said that
the G-7 countries "decide themselves who they will help and who
they won't," but it is a "mistake if Western states think that
by helping Russia they are helping everybody." Kravchuk complained
that promises of economic aid to his country and support for
building democracy had turned out to be just "high-sounding declarations."
As for events in Russia, Kravchuk reiterated his support for
Boris Yeltsin. If the latter were to be relaced, Kravchuk said,
"it could be a tragedy not just for Ukraine but everywhere."
-Bohdan Nahaylo

ROMANIAN TRADE UNIONS MAY DECLARE GENERAL STRIKE. Gabriel Vasai,
leader of the Fratia trade union, told Reuter's Bucharest correspondent
on 15 April that talks with the government had collapsed and
a countrywide general strike may be declared on 5 May. Vasai
spoke after leaders of the main trade unions, grouping together
some five million members, met to coordinate policies in view
of the price increases that will affect the economy on 1-May.
Victor Ciorbea, another union leader, said the decision to call
a general strike has been adopted after the government rejected
the unions' demand for a guaranteed monthly wage of 46,000 lei
($80), instead of the present 17,600 lei ($29). -Michael Shafir




[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Wendy Slater and Jan B. de Weydenthal



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