|Life is what happens to us while we're making other plans. - John Lennon|
No. 172, 08 September 1993
RUSSIA MAJOR CHANGE IN ECONOMIC COURSE IMMINENT? A DRAFT PRESIDENTIAL DECREE, TO BE COMPLETED BY 9 SEPTEMBER, WILL REPRESENT A MAJOR REVERSAL OF THE REFORM POLICY HITHERTO CONDUCTED, BIZNES-TASS AND OTHER AGENCIES REPORTED ON 7 SEPTEMBER. The new course originat ed with First Deputy Prime Minister and Economics Minister Oleg Lobov and reportedly has the support of President Boris Yeltsin and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. The Lobov memorandum noted the failure of current policies to stabilize the economy and to check inflation (now reported to have exceeded 30% in August). The proposals include increased subsidies for agriculture and "essential" industries; the indexation of savings retroactive to January 1992; and a large increase in credits extended to ind ustry. -Keith Bush WESTERN CREDITS ON HOLD. Western diplomats and representatives of international financial organizations in Moscow are convinced that economic reform in Russia is stalled and that no new Western aid will be forthcoming in the near future, The Financial Tim es reported on 7 September. Thus the second tranche ($1.5 billion) of the IMF's transformation facility and the World Bank's $600-million rehabilitation loan designed to support the budget are unlikely to be paid this year. The fate of the G-7 package is also uncertain. Only the World Bank's recent $610-million loan to the oil industry is expected to go through. -Keith Bush BUSINESSMEN PREPARE FOR ELECTIONS. A leader of the recently created political bloc "Entrepreneurs for New Russia," Konstantin Zatulin, told ITAR-TASS on 7-September that his bloc is currently setting up branches in Russia's regions. Zatulin said that the bloc is supported in the regions by local businessmen and directors of enterprises. He said his bloc occupies a centrist position and intends to cooperate with Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai who is setting up his own party with strong regional repr esentation. Zatulin expressed confidence that his bloc will do well in parliamentary elections, because it represents the interests of a distinct group in Russian society and also because it has enough financial resources to organize a successful election campaign. -Vera Tolz BURBULIS ON PREVIOUS MISTAKES. Former State Secretary Gennadii Burbulis told Rossiiskie vesti on 7-September that President Yeltsin should, for tactical reasons, agree to early presidential elections in order to force deputies to call early parliamentary elections. He said that the first mistake the Yeltsin administration committed after assuming power was its failure to create a strong pro-Yeltsin party which could have allied all democratic forces and would have served as a social base for reform. The s econd mistake of the administration Burbulis named was the lack of resistance to old bureaucratic structures which boycotted reforms. He cited the failure to build "civilized relations" with the deputy corps and the quarrel with parliament as the third ma jor mistake. -Alexander Rahr PRESIDENTIAL COUNCIL STRONGER. The work and structures of the Presidential Council are being streamlined, Kommersant-daily reported on 4 September. The body is developing from a pure debate club into a more analytical-advisory body. Expert groups have bee n established within the council, headed by well-known specialists. Two major working groups are those for economic questions (headed by former Acting Prime Minister Egor Gaidar) and regional and interethnic problems (headed by the expert of the Gorbachev Foundation Emil Pain and geographer Leonid Smirnyagin). The role of the presidential advisors and their analytical expert staffs has been significantly reduced after the departure of State Secretary Gennadii Burbulis. -Alexander Rahr COUP TRIAL REOPENS. The trial of the twelve men accused of treason for their part in the attempted coup of August 1991 reopened on 7 September in Moscow's Supreme Court, ITAR-TASS and Western agencies reported. The trial had already been postponed three t imes since April. This time, however, the court dismissed objections from the defense which would have caused further delay. The court ruled that the accused need not be tried together. One of them, Aleksandr Tizyakov, is still in the hospital. The court also rejected the request to replace the prosecution on grounds of prejudice, although the judges did say that the court would bear in mind the prosecution's potential bias. The judges also condemned the Russian parliament for disrespect for having failed to meet the court's request of four months ago to appoint independent prosecutors. -Wendy Slater RYABOV ON PROGRESS IN CREATING FEDERATION COUNCIL. Deputy chairman of the Russian parliament Nikolai Ryabov told ITAR-TASS on 7 September that the significance of the Federation Council would be reduced if it was formed by presidential decree. It must be formed by the subjects of the federation themselves. However, so far only 91 of the 176 representatives of legislative and executive power in the republics and regions had approved the documents on setting up the council, while 19-had expressed their disa pproval, and the remainder had not yet decided. Ryabov said that Yeltsin should be more active in promoting the council. He added that the documents would need to be revised. There were two major sticking points: how the opinion of the minority was to be taken into account and the place of the chairman of the Russian parliament in the council. -Ann Sheehy CLINTON AND YELTSIN TALK. In a 7 September telephone conversation, the Russian and US presidents discussed bilateral relations, the events surrounding the Crimean summit meeting between Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk and Yeltsin (3 September), the po sition of the Russian-speaking population in the Baltic states, and the prospects for settlements in Bosnia and the Middle East, ITAR-TASS reported. In addition, Yeltsin and Clinton spoke about legislation pending in the United States on aid for and trade to Russia. -Suzanne Crow TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA DIPHTHERIA IN MOSCOW. A Moscow medical official announced that 50 people in the city have died of diphtheria in recent months, Reuters and AFP reported on 7 September. Tatyana Pushkarenko told reporters that the distrust of vaccine among the population made it difficult to carry out an immunization program. She also complained of shortages of antitoxins, antiserums, and antibiotics. Pushkarenko was quoted as saying: "This is now the start of an epidemic. We have not succeeded in stabilizing the situation. " -Keith Bush TURKEY/RUSSIA/IRAN/KARABAKH. Russian border guards patrolling the Armenian-Turkish frontier twice came under fire from Turkish territory on 6-September, but no one was injured, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 September; the semi-official Anatolia News Agency quot ed a Turkish military spokesman as denying that Turkish troops were responsible. A Russian-Turkish hotline will be set up during the official visit to Moscow starting 8 September of Turkish Prime Minister Tansu Ciller; her talks with Russian President Yel tsin will focus on Nagorno-Karabakh and bilateral political and economic cooperation, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported. Talks in Moscow on 7 September between Azerbaijan's parliament Chairman Geidar Aliev and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai yi elded an agreement on the need for an immediate ceasefire in Karabakh, according to ITAR-TASS; an unnamed Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman told RFE/RL that the possible deployment of Russian troops in Azerbaijan will be discussed during the CSCE talks d ue to begin on 9-September. A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman condemned the presence of Iranian troops in Azerbaijan, according to AFP, while the Iranian Foreign Ministry on 7 September again called for the immediate withdrawal of Armenian forces from occupied Azerbaijani territory, The New York Times reported on 8 September. -Liz Fuller GEORGIAN UPDATE. Some 200 armed supporters of ousted Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia occupied local government buildings in the town of Gali in southern Abkhazia during the night of 6-7 September, ITAR-TASS reported quoting a local official. At an e mergency session of the Georgian parliament in Tbilisi which endorsed a reduction in the number of ministries and government departments, parliament chairman Eduard Shevardnadze announced that he would make use of his additional powers personally to appoi nt ministers to the new government in order to preclude "inappropriate" stormy disputes among deputies, according to Radio Rossii quoting the Iprinda news agency. -Liz Fuller UN TO SPONSOR ABKHAZ PEACE CONFERENCE. Following several months correspondence between the Abkhaz government in Gudauta and the UN, it was announced on 7 September that the UN will sponsor talks to open in Geneva on 13 September aimed at reaching a politi cal solution to the Abkhaz conflict, AFP reported. The talks will be chaired by Edouard Brunner, the Swiss Ambassador to Paris, who led a UN factfinding mission to Abkhazia in late May. -Liz Fuller UZBEKISTAN WILL SWITCH TO THE LATIN ALPHABET. The Uzbek parliament passed a law on 2 September to switch to the Latin alphabet instead of reverting to Arabic script to replace the present Cyrillic, Reuters and RFE/RL reported on 3-September. An academicia n interviewed by Reuters said the choice of the new script, which will be based on a modified version of the Turkish alphabet, reflects Uzbekistan's desire to orient itself towards the West rather than the Islamic world. An RFE/RL reporter in Tashkent sai d that the script will be taught in Uzbek schools by 1995 and the switch will be completed before the year 2000. -Yalcin Tokgozoglu SIX SIGN NEW RUBLE ZONE AGREEMENT. Representatives of the governments and national banks of six countries of the former Soviet Union signed an agreement outlining measures for the creation of a new ruble zone, according to Western and Russian news agencie s on 7 September. The multilateral document signed by Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan is intended to be complemented with bilateral accords between Russia and the others on specific measures for unifying national monetary, fiscal, banking, and customs policies. A Russian-Uzbek accord reportedly may be ready for signing in the next two weeks; the others are expected to take longer. The current agreement permits the circulation of national currencies in the signatory countri es for a transitional period, but requires that the issue of these non-ruble currencies be strictly regulated. The new monetary regime is open to other nations besides the present signatories. -Erik Whitlock CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE RUSSIA TO TAKE OVER ARMENIAN, AZERBAIJANI DEBTS. Russian Prime Minister Chernomyrdin and his Armenian counterpart Hrant Bagratyan signed an agreement in Moscow on 7 September whereby Russia will take over Armenia's $80 billion share of the former Soviet d ebt in return for unspecified assets on Armenian territory, Reuters reported. A similar agreement was signed between Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Shokhin and Azerbaijani Deputy Prime Minister Abbas Abbasov. -Liz Fuller IZETBEGOVIC MAKES PLEA TO UN. International media on 7 and 8 September report on the Bosnian president's visit to New York. He urged the Security Council to "defend us or let us defend ourselves. You have no right to deprive us of both." His now familiar program included granting the Muslims more territory than allowed under the Geneva plan, lifting the siege of Sarajevo within a prescribed deadline, removing the 1,200 Serb artillery pieces from the surrounding hills and mountains, ending ethnic cleansing , using NATO air strikes to end the fighting, and ensuring delivery of relief supplies. Izetbegovic added that he is willing to resume peace negotiations "unconditionally," but that the international negotiators must approach him to that end. The BBC quote d diplomats as saying that talks could resume as early as next week if all the parties agree. The Serbs and Croats have said that the current plan is basically a take-it-or-leave-it proposition and that they are not willing to discuss any significant modifi cations with the Muslims. -Patrick Moore NEW YUGOSLAV ARMY COMMANDERS APPOINTED. Radio Serbia reports on 7 September that the Yugoslav Supreme Defense Council has appointed new generals and admirals to major command posts following last month's retirement of 42 senior officers. Key appointments w ere made to the chiefs of staff, headed by Maj. Gen. Momcilo Perisic, who replaced Col. Gen. Zivota Panic last month. Maj. Gen. Nikola Mandaric was named deputy chief of staff. Also appointed were Brig. Gen. Miloje Pavlovic as commander of the Air Force, Maj. Gen. Jevrem Cokic commander of the First Army, Brig. Gen. Bozidar Babic, commander of the Second Army, and Brig. Gen. Dusan Samardzic, commander of the Third Army. Naval and corps commanders were also named. -Milan Andrejevich KOSOVO UPDATE. At the beginning of the new school year, the Serbian police tried to prevent access to the underground system of Albanian schools in Kosovo, Rilindja reports on 1 and 2 September. About 85% of the pupils go to these illegal but well-organiz ed private schools, which have become a symbol of defiance of the Serbian authorities. Elsewhere, the directors of the biggest state enterprises in Kosovo-such as posts and telecommunications, electric power, some banks, and other public companies-will be replaced by local members of President Slobodan Milosevic's ruling party, Borba reports on 7 September. At a press conference, two party officials declared that this might happen as well to all Socialist Party of Serbia cadres who "don't know or are unable to fulfill their obligations." Meanwhile, Nevzat Halili, the chairman of the Party for Democratic Prosperity, the strongest Albanian party in Macedonia, was blamed by some other party members for the Albanians' failure to obtain either autonomy or the sta tus of a "people of the state" in Macedonia. At the party congress, the nationalist radical wing tried to replace the executive committee, Borba reported on 2-September. -Fabian Schmidt GREECE BARS ENTRY OF MACEDONIAN MINISTER. AFP reports on 7 September that Greece has refused entry to Macedonian Health Minister Jovan Tofovski, preventing him from attending a conference of the World Health Organization in Athens. Reaction in Skopje was reportedly astonishment. The action by Athens follows an emerging parliamentary crisis in Greece that could force early elections. Greek Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis's parliamentary majority has slipped to one seat after one deputy defected to th e Political Spring Party of former Foreign Minister Antonis Samaras. Samaras's party has repeatedly called for a harder line on both Macedonia and Albania and Mitsotakis, by taking a stronger stand on Macedonia, is no doubt trying to win over other potent ial defectors. The decision to bar the Foreign Minister is most certainly linked with last week's decision by the Mitsotakis's New Democracy Party to block the entry of Albania's ruling Democratic Party into the European Democratic Union, alleging that Al bania denied basic rights to its Greek minority in southern Albania. -Robert Austin VISEGRAD DEFENSE OFFICIALS MEET IN POLAND. The Czech, Hungarian, Polish, and Slovak military forces will develop a program of supplying each other with military equipment and spare parts for weapons systems, and will increase the volume of orders from eac h other for technological improvements in their equipment. This was the most important element in the communique issued at the conclusion of a meeting of defense officials from the Visegrad group of countries held in Cracow on 6-7 September. In the subsequ ent statement, the Polish Deputy Minister of National Defense Gen. Jan Kuriata told PAP that the program is designed to "increase compatibility of equipment [used by the Visegrad group] with that of NATO . . . [and] should be seen as a step toward rapproc hement with NATO." -Jan de Weydenthal POLISH-DANISH DEFENSE AGREEMENT. Denmark will sign a defense agreement with Poland in October, the Danish Defense Ministry announced,Western agencies report. The agreement would open the way to joint Polish-Danish-German naval maneuvers, perhaps in 1994. In a related development, Die Welt said on 6-September that joint Polish-German maneuvers would soon be held in Poland, but a Polish defense spokesman denied the report. -Jan de Weydenthal SWEDISH-HUNGARIAN MILITARY TALKS. During an official three-day visit to Sweden that ended on 7-September, Hungarian Defense Minister Lajos Fur and his Swedish counterpart Anders Bjoerck discussed the preparations for a bilateral military agreement and ways to coordinate peacekeeping activities. According to Radio Budapest, a cautious remark by Fur that future possibilities exist in the field of military technology cooperation, presumably in the air defense sector, indicates that no concrete accord is to be expected in the near future. Hungary had in the past expressed an interest in the purchase of modern Swedish combat aircraft but lacks the necessary financial means. -Alfred Reisch HUNGARY WANTS FULL NATO MEMBERSHIP. In an interview in the 7 September issue of Magyar Nemzet, Ambassador Istvan Gyarmati, the head of the Foreign Ministry's security policy department, said full NATO membership in three stages is now an official strategic goal of Hungary's foreign policy. Gyarmati advocated the joint admission of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia, stressing that common NATO membership would help solve Hungarian-Slovak differences in "a much more civilized manner." and thus serve the interests of both countries. Next to a permanent consultative system, Hungary wants closer military cooperation with NATO in the fields of peacekeeping, joint maneuvers, and humanitarian aid. -Alfred Reisch EC OFFICIAL ON ACCORD WITH SLOVENIA. EC Commissioner for External Affairs Hans van den Broek told reporters in Ljubljana on 7 September that he wants to open preliminary talks soon with Slovenia on a possible EC association agreement, a main foreign polic y goal of the Slovenes since achieving independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991. Radio Slovenia carried the report. -Milan Andrejevich RUSHDIE CONTROVERSY IN PRAGUE CONTINUES. Czech President Vaclav Havel indirectly attacked Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus on 7 September when he said that "distancing oneself from the British author Salman Rushdie" is wrong. As reported by CTK, Havel said tha t support for Rushdie is support for justice and law-traditional European values which should serve as a basis for European integration. Havel argued that it is strange that someone who has officially embraced these values and wants to participate in Europ ean integration is at the same time searching for reasons why he should not get involved with Rushdie. Havel's comments came in the wake of a statement issued on 6 September by Klaus, in which the Prime Minister distanced himself from Rushdie's 3-5 Septem ber visit to Prague, during which the British author met with and received moral support from Havel. Klaus said that the meeting was a private matter of the president and expressed hope that Islamic states would not see the meeting as an act aimed against them. On 7 September the Helsinki Citizens Assembly, which organized Rushdie's visit to Prague, said that it was deeply disappointed by Klaus's statement. Klaus told journalists on 7 September that he could reply to Havel's criticism only by submitting a philosophical essay and that Havel's own philosophical deliberations on the Rushdie case have "absolutely nothing to do with politics." -Jiri Pehe SLOVAK GOVERNMENT DENIES CTK REPORT. TASR reports on 7 September that the recent news release by CTK concerning Premier Vladimir Meciar's statements on Romanies was misstated. The Slovak government's press department gave TASR a tape recording of Meciar's speech, which is translated as: " . . . what we [next] have to take into consideration is the expanded reproduction of the socially unadaptable and mentally retarded population. We simply cannot implement a family policy based on family allowances, thus putting a family under pressure in a way which supports this expanded reproduction. In such a social group, where children are already giving birth to children or grandmothers still have babies, it often happens that these children are mentally ill, socia lly unadaptable, and too heavy a burden for society. That is why we will interfere with the family allowances system. Although we are taking a beating for this action by trade unions, we cannot see any more just way out. There is nothing to pay [for these allowances] with. . . . " According to TASR, "some CTK reporters have been purposely damaging the good name of Slovakia and its political and economic interests abroad by giving slanted and distorted information on life in Slovakia." In particular, this report on Meciar led to "a remarkably negative response," both domestically and abroad, against the premier and the Slovak Republic. CTK reported on 7-September that the Slovak government plans to sue CTK over the matter. The brouhaha began with a 3-Septe mber report by CTK that Meciar, in reference to Romanies, said it is necessary to reduce family welfare payments so that "the reproduction of socially unadaptable and mentally retarded people drops." -Sharon Fisher SLOVAK MAGYARS PROTEST EDUCATION PROPOSAL. More than 45,000 ethnic Hungarians sent a petition to Parliament Chairman Ivan Gasparovic on 7-September, TASR reports. The petition protests "intentions of the Ministry of Education to introduce so-called altern ative education," meaning that natural sciences will be taught in Slovak, while humanities will be taught in the language of the minority. Erzsebet Poganyova, speaker for the Hungarian Coexistence movement, said the petition was organized because discussi ons with ministry officials "did not bring any results." -Sharon Fisher ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN PRAGUE. On 7-September, during a visit to Prague by Teodor Melescanu, he and Czech Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec initialed a Czech-Romanian friendship and cooperation treaty and signed an agreement on cooperation between th e two countries' foreign ministries. Melescanu also met with Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus and President Vaclav Havel. He invited both officials to visit Romania. At a press conference after his meeting with Melescanu, Zieleniec welcomed the willingness of R omania to sign a repatriation treaty with the Czech Republic governing the repatriation of illegal immigrants. -Jiri Pehe HEAD OF BULGARIAN SECURITY SERVICE FACES DISMISSAL. In a TV interview on 7 September Interior Minister Viktor Mihaylov confirmed reports that Col.-Arlin Antonov, the Director of the National Security Service, is about to be fired. Without specifying the acc usations, Mihaylov said Antonov's "incompetent leadership" has led to violations of the regulations under which the NSS is operating. The NSS Director is one of several top state officials to be sacked by the government over the last few months, and the mo ve will clearly breed further speculation about political purges. Whereas 24 chasa seems convinced that Antonov is being ousted because he allegedly allowed phone tapping of highly placed politicians, businessmen, and trade union leaders, Novinar says he is the victim of his own success against organized crime, claiming that powerful groups affiliated with crime have been lobbying for his demise. -Kjell Engelbrekt ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS CORRUPTION MOTION. An opposition motion calling for the dismissal of three top officials allegedly involved in corruption failed on the night of 6-7 September. The vote (231-151) was not on an official censure motion, despite ear lier reports that it would be one. On 7-September in parliament former Prime Minister Petre Roman denied allegations that he had been involved in corruption surrounding the purchase of three Airbus planes for the Romanian national airline in 1991. A repor t by a parliamentary inquiry commission dominated by the ruling Party of Social Democracy of Romania said Romanian negotiators received a $20-million bribe and that the deal was awarded despite a lower bid by Boeing. But Roman said he had not been involve d in the negotiations and that the report was based on documents that smacked of reports of the Romanian Information Service, Radio Bucharest and Western agencies report. Former Minister of Transportation Traian Basescu also denied accusations of corrupti on included in the report. -Michael Shafir MOLDOVA HAS UNTIL 1 NOVEMBER TO JOIN CIS. Russia has agreed to suspend until 1 November the prohibitive excise taxes and customs duties it imposed on 1 August on goods imported from Moldova, a non-CIS state, Radio Moscow reported on 7 September. The new t ariffs price Moldovan goods out of the Russian market, their largest by far, also nullifying Moldova's ability to pay for Russian raw materials and fuel. The Moldovan leadership, which favors ratification of CIS economic agreements and accession to the pro posed economic community, recently requested suspension of the barriers until 1 January, hoping to organize multiparty elections to a new parliament that would ratify those documents. The shorter deadline risks precipitating a constitutional crisis in Chi sinau, pitting the government and parliamentary majority against the minority that wields de facto veto power. -Vladimir Socor UKRAINIAN OFFICIALS ACCUSE RUSSIA OF "DISINFORMATION." The results of the recent Russian-Ukrainian summit meeting in Massandra continue to generate controversy and protests in Ukraine. On 7-September Ukrainian TV broadcast a discussion on this theme with a group of leading Ukrainian officials. Several of them stressed that the meeting had its positive side in that progress had been made on agreeing about the maintenance of nuclear warheads in Ukraine and compensation for nuclear warheads transferred to Rus sia for dismantling after the ratification of START-1. The general view was that the subsequent problems were caused, as deputy foreign minister Borys Tarasyuk claimed, because "the Russian side broke the rules" by engaging in "disinformation" after the me eting, presenting "wishful thinking" as something real. Anton Buteiko, the president's advisor on foreign affairs, argued that Russia used its "huge" mass media as a means of pressuring Ukraine and damaging its "political prestige." Another participant, a democratic opposition leader and deputy, Larysa Skoryk, emphasized that Russia's mass media continue to have a "great influence" in Ukraine, which facilitates the spread of "disinformation" -Bohdan Nahaylo POPE CONTINUES BALTIC VISIT. On 8 September Pope John Paul-II flew from Vilnius to Riga, Radio Lithuania reports. On 7 September he held an outdoor Mass at the Hill of Crosses, near Siauliai, that was attended by about 40,000 people, far less than the 300, 000 expected. He mourned the victims of communist tyranny, but stressed the need for forgiveness. After a brief stop in the Jesuit high school in Siauliai where he met with Lithuanian bishops, he traveled to the shrine of the Virgin Mary in Siluva. Expect ations that there would be scores or even hundreds of thousands of foreign pilgrims were proved overoptimistic, and fewer than 10,000 foreigners came to Lithuania to see the Pope. -Saulius Girnius [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Suzanne Crow and Charles Trumbull
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