|Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith. - Christopher Fry|
No. 182, 22 September 1993
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Inc. RUSSIA YELTSIN'S DECREE AND PARLIAMENT'S RESPONSE YELTSIN DISSOLVES PARLIAMENT. Russian President Boris Yeltsin on 21 September dissolved the Congress of People's Deputies and Supreme Soviet and set 11-12 December as the date for elections to a new legislature-a bicameral Federal Assembly. Appearing live on Ostankino Television at 8 p.m. (Moscow time), Yeltsin said he had signed a decree halting the powers of the legislature with immediate effect. Yeltsin said any attempt to disrupt the holding of elections would be considered a criminal offense and that early presidential elections would be held some time after the Federal Assembly had begun to function, but that the powers of local government bodies would remain unchanged. He asserted that, although his decree altered the current constitution, it did not infringe its validity, and claimed that it was an essential measure because "the security of Russia and her peoples is more precious than formal obedience to contradictory norms established by a legislature that has definitively discredited itself." -Wendy Slater RUTSKOI SWORN IN AS PRESIDENT. Meeting in emergency session later that same evening, the Supreme Soviet under its leader Ruslan Khasbulatov invoked the current constitutional ruling, adopted in March 1993, according to which the President's powers are automatically terminated if he attempts to disband legally elected bodies such as parliament. The Supreme Soviet voted in favor of impeaching Yeltsin and then elected the previously suspended Vice-President Aleksandr Rutskoi as acting president in his place, ITAR-TASS reported. Rutskoi immediately issued his first decree, nullifying Yeltsin's decree on the dissolution of the legislature. He appointed Viktor Barannikov, Andrei Dunaev and the hard-line military officer Vladislav Achalov as ministers for security, interior and defense, respectively. (Achalov was on the side of the plotters during the August 1991 putsch). Rutskoi demanded airtime on Russian TV to address the population. Parliament also voted to convene an emergency session of the Congress of People's Deputies. -Alexander Rahr SHUMEIKO EXPLAINS YELTSIN'S DECREE. Vladimir Shumeiko, reinstated on 21-September as First Deputy Prime Minister, gave a press conference that evening to discuss Yeltsin's decree. (ITAR-TASS quoted Shumeiko's spokesman as saying Procurator General Stepankov had declared there was no legal basis for Shumeiko's earlier suspension from his ministerial post, since no evidence of corruption by Shumeiko had been found.) Shumeiko told journalists that Yeltsin's decree applied only to the federal parliament and would not affect the work of local legislatures, which should continue to work normally. But he said that from now on any orders issued by parliamentary speaker Khasbulatov and Vice President Rutskoi were to be regarded as illegal and should not be observed. Shumeiko said the privileges and benefits of parliamentary deputies, including immunity from arrest, immediate access to the media and free transport, had been annulled. He appealed for the avoidance of armed confrontation. -Vera Tolz SUBORDINATION OF CENTRAL BANK. Paragraph 12 of Yeltsin's decree provides for the subordination of the Russian Central Bank (RCB) to decrees of the president and government and makes it accountable to the government until the Federal Assembly is operative. Radio Liberty correspondents reported from Moscow that Yeltsin ordered the Bank to stop financing the parliament, while the parliament in turn demanded that the Bank stop providing the government with money. Although the RCB's chairman, Viktor Gerashchenko, was made a member of the cabinet in November 1992 and a member of the inner cabinet in March 1993, and despite the Bank's dual subordination-in theory-to both parliament and government, in practice the RCB has remained what Finance Minister Boris Fedorov has called "a solid obstacle" to reform. -Keith Bush REACTION TO MOSCOW EVENTS CONSTITUTIONAL COURT SAYS YELTSIN'S DECREE VIOLATES CONSTITUTION. Meeting in emergency session, Russia's Constitutional Court ruled that Yeltsin's decree dissolving parliament violated the Constitution. Court chairman Valerii Zorkin read the court's decision to the emergency session of the Supreme Soviet, Russian news agencies reported early in the morning of 22 September. Zorkin, who has taken positions hostile to Yeltsin in the past (notably in March 1993), said the court had ruled that there were sufficient grounds for Yeltsin's impeachment. -Elizabeth Teague ARMY REMAINS CALM. Two hours after Yeltsin's televised address to the nation, a military spokesman said that the army would abide by the Constitution and remain neutral in the conflict, ITAR-TASS reported. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin announced that, as head of the government, he would ensure that the army did not take sides. Khasbulatov and Rutskoi, however, appealed to the army to support the parliament. Khasbulatov said Achalov had been tasked with organizing the defense of the Russian White House (the parliamentary building), while the head of the hard-line "Union of Officers," Stanislav Terekhov, predicted that Yeltsin will lose the power struggle. -Alexander Rahr INTERNAL SECURITY FORCES BACKING YELTSIN? RFE/RL CORRESPONDENTS AT THE RUSSIAN WHITE HOUSE REPORTED THAT ALL TELEPHONE LINKS TO AND FROM THE RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT WERE CUT AS OF MIDNIGHT ON 21-SEPTEMBER. The parliament has special communications channels which are under the supervision of the Ministry of Security and the Federal Agency of Government Information and Communications. The fact that these have been disconnected suggests that the security forces are remaining loyal to Yeltsin. Meanwhile, Minister of Internal Affairs Yerin and the head of the Moscow MVD, Vyacheslav Ogorodnikov, told Krasnaya zvezda of 22 September that they are loyal to President Yeltsin and carrying on their normal duties. -Victor Yasmann RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT REACTION TO THE DECREE. Prime Minister Chernomyrdin told journalists that the Russian government was giving Yeltsin unconditional support, ITAR-TASS and other agencies reported on 22 September. Referring to parliament's attempts to block economic reforms, Chernomyrdin said Yeltsin and the government had "run out of patience watching this circus." Newly appointed First Deputy Prime Minister Egor Gaidar called Yeltsin's action a "difficult but necessary" step. So far, the only government member speaking against Yeltsin has been the Minister for Foreign Economic Relations, Sergei Glazev, who announced that he was resigning in protest because Yeltsin's decree was unconstitutional. -Vera Tolz REACTION OF REGIONAL LEADERS. Presidential chief of staff Sergei Filatov told journalists that more than 40 of Russia's 89 republics and regions had been informed by phone about Yeltsin's decision and that their response was either supportive or non-committal. However, in March 1993 Filatov also claimed at first that the majority of the republics and regions had been informed in advance about Yeltsin's attempt to introduce a special rule of government and that they supported the move. This later turned out not to be the case. -Vera Tolz RUSSIAN TELEVISION COVERAGE. Neither the Ostankino nor the Rossiya TV company made any change in scheduled programming following Yeltsin's speech. Evening programs were dominated by music and commercials. TV newscasts covered Yeltsin's decree in detail and stressed the support for the President coming from the Russian government and Western leaders. But TV newscasts gave very scanty coverage of the reaction of the Russian parliament. As of the morning of 22-September, Ostankino newscasts had still not reported parliament's decision to impeach Yeltsin; nor did Ostankino report parliament's swearing in of Rutskoi as acting president or his appointment of new defense, interior and security ministers. -Vera Tolz DEMONSTRATIONS IN MOSCOW. Western agencies reported that a rally in support of the Russian parliament which began on the evening of 21 September continued the following day. The participants, according to correspondents' reports, were mostly middle aged and elderly and were supporters of either communist or the extreme nationalist groups. Demonstrators attempted to build barricades, as pro-democracy defenders of the Russian parliament building had done in 1991, but observers suggested that their attempts were half-hearted and that relatively few demonstrators remained at the building through the night. -Wendy Slater YELTSIN'S FORMER PRESS SECRETARY ON EVENTS IN MOSCOW. One of the few commentators prepared to speculate about the consequences of Yeltsin's decree was his former press secretary Pavel Voshchanov. In an interview with RFE/RL on 21 September, Voshchanov compared Yeltsin's decision to dissolve the parliament with the president's attempt to introduce special rule in March. Voshchanov recalled that in March Yeltsin had to abandon his initial decision because he did not have enough power to follow it through. He predicted that the same thing was likely to happen again now and that Yeltsin would be obliged to back down from the tough positions adopted in his decree of 21 September. However, if Yeltsin backs down this time, the consequences seem likely to be far more serious than they were in March. -Vera Tolz NAZARBAEV'S RESPONSE. Radio Liberty's Kazakh Service has learned from the office of Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev that Nazarbaev plans to attend the summit of CIS leaders in Moscow on 23-September unless the situation in Russia sharply deteriorates in the next 24 hours. Prime Minister Sergei Tereshchenko is already in Moscow to discuss financial coordination between Russia and Kazakhstan; the instability in the Russian leadership is strengthening the arguments of those economists in Kazakhstan who oppose closer ties with Russia. Nazarbaev promised to give journalists in Almaty his oral response to the events in Russia, but has chosen to issue a written statement calling on Russian leaders to be reasonable. Nazarbaev's press office has not confirmed or denied rumors that the Kazakhstani president conferred with Yeltsin and other Russian leaders during the night of 21-22 September. At present, no response from other Central Asian leaders has been made public; they may well prefer to wait and see what happens before speaking out. -Bess Brown WEST SUPPORTS YELTSIN. In response to Yeltsin's dissolution of parliament, US President Bill Clinton said, "I support [Yeltsin] fully," and added that "there is no question that President Yeltsin acted in response to a constitutional crisis that had reached a critical impasse." Other Western nations, such as Britain, France, Canada, Japan, Spain, Denmark, and Norway also expressed support for Yeltsin's decision. -Suzanne Crow CIS RUSSIA ANNULS PROTOCOL ON NUCLEAR WEAPONS. Reuters reported on 21 September that Russia has annulled the protocol on nuclear warheads dismantling signed by Russian and Ukrainian Presidents Yeltsin and Kravchuk during the Massandra summit. The copy of the protocol published in Ukraine contained a handwritten amendment restricting it to those warheads removed from launchers to be destroyed under the START-1 treaty, which Ukraine claims excludes SS-24 ICBMs (see RFE/RL Daily Report no. *173). The Russian Foreign Ministry claims that this amendment was added after the protocol was signed, and that the two sides had agreed to keep the agreement's text secret. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry denies the charges and maintains that the amendment was added prior to signing. -John Lepingwell TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA ABKHAZ ROUNDUP. A Georgian jetliner carrying at least 25 passengers crashed into the Black Sea after being hit by a heat-seeking missile while attempting to land in Sukhumi on 21 September, Western agencies reported; an Abkhaz Ministry of Defense spokesman denied responsibility. The Georgian Ministry of Defense claimed Georgian forces had recaptured the village of Tamysh in Ochamchira, and that there are now sufficient Georgian troops and artillery in Sukhumi to defend the town effectively. The commander of forces loyal to ousted President Gamsakhurdia suspended an agreement signed on 19 September to desist from hostilities against Georgian government troops and assist in the defense of Sukhumi until the Georgian authorities release two Gamsakhurdia supporters arrested in connection with the June 1992 car bomb attack on Mkhedrioni leader Dzhaba Ioseliani, Reuters reported. -Liz Fuller CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE IZETBEGOVIC SAYS PEACE PLAN IS FLAWED. On 21 September Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic returned to Sarajevo with a proposal to end the 17month old war in Bosnia, following meetings with the presidents of Serbia and Croatia and UN negotiators aboard a British warship in the Adriatic. Izetbegovic has promised to submit the latest offer to the Bosnian assembly, which is slated to pass its own judgement on either 27 or 28 September, although he stated he could not personally endorse it. The Bosnian Muslim leader said that while the peace proposal did meet Bosnian demands for access to a seaport by providing Bosnia with the use of the Croatian port of Ploce, it failed to cede vital territories to the Bosnian Muslims, Reuters reports. Meanwhile, Russia's envoy to the peace talks, deputy foreign minister Vitalii Churkin, stated on 21-September that he felt this latest peace proposal represented the last opportunity to forge a lasting peace in the Bosnian conflict. Barriers to peace do continue to crop up, and on 21 September Bosnian radio reported that Arif Pasilic, a leader of Bosnian forces in the city of Mostar, vowed to continue to fight Croatian forces irrespective of what political solutions were agreed to. Pasilic has dedicated himself to "liberating Mostar" and regions surrounding the city. -Stan Markotich UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT ACCEPTS GOVERNMENT'S RESIGNATION. The Ukrainian parliament, meeting on 21 September, voted by 294 to 23 to accept Prime Minister Leonid Kuchma's resignation offer which he had made earlier in the month, various agencies reported. The parliament also passed a vote of no-confidence in the cabinet and asked President Leonid Kravchuk to appoint new ministers and temporarily to take over as head of government. Earlier in the day, parliament had twice rejected Kuchma's resignation. In his speech to parliament, Kuchma called for swifter economic reforms and closer economic ties with Russia. Several thousand pro-nationalist demonstrators convened by the Rukh movement rallied outside the building in support of the government's resignation and against closer ties with Russia. -Wendy Slater POLISH COALITION TALKS BEGIN. Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) leaders proposed a joint coalition with the Polish Peasant Party (PSL) during talks on 21-September, PAP reports. If projected election results prove accurate, this coalition would control 66% of the Sejm and over 70% of the Senate. The PSL has made no public response to this proposal. The SLD also met with leaders of the social-democratic Union of Labor. At a press conference on 21-September, SLD leaders continued their attempts to reassure the West that Polish economic policy will remain on course. There were hints of substantial policy shifts ahead, however. Party leader Aleksander Kwasniewski pledged to preserve budget discipline but added that the SLD believes the deficit can rise by as much as 1% of GDP. Pension increases were promised for 1994. SLD chairman Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz indicated that the party intends to replace both the National Bank chairman and the head of NIK, the national auditing office. In addition, Cimoszewicz said that consideration of the recently negotiated concordat with the Vatican will be put off until a new constitution is adopted. Cimoszewicz added that the SLD will work to liberalize Poland's abortion law, bringing it into conformity with "European standards." Kwasniewski hinted that Poland's attempts to join NATO will be slowed. -Louisa Vinton SUCHOCKA GOVERNMENT LEAVES TESTAMENT. Speaking to reporters after a cabinet meeting on 21-September, Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka appealed to any new government to uphold the economic policy priorities that have produced encouraging growth trends. The government will resign as soon as the new parliament convenes, she said, but only after submitting 50-pieces of draft legislation. The government adopted a "testament of ideals" for its successor. These included: pursuing economic growth by defending the zloty and pushing ahead with the transformation of state firms and public services; decentralizing the state administration; achieving integration with the EC and NATO; and pursuing good relations with all neighbors. "Poland must maintain its role as a leader in East Central Europe," the document said. Suchocka ruled out her own participation in an SLD government. -Louisa Vinton FINAL POLISH SENATE RESULTS. The official results in the Senate elections confirm the almost total domination of the upper house by the two "postcommunist" parties. With 48 of 49-voivodships [electoral districts] reporting, the SLD has 37 and the PSL, 35, of a total 100-seats. Solidarity won 9 seats. The Democratic Union, which had 23 seats in the old Senate, has only 3, although it is expected to win at least one more in Warsaw, where votes are still being counted. The Union of Labor and the BBWR have two seats each. Polish TV reports that the Senate is controlled by parties that favor its abolition. Initial official results in the Sejm elections are to be announced on 22 September, but final results are expected only on 25-September. The state election commission on 21 September rejected as "absurd" an attempt by the "Fatherland" Catholic Election Committee to claim seats in the Sejm on the basis of Article 6 of the election law. The Catholic coalition won at least 6% of the vote but failed to reach the 8% threshold set for coalitions. -Louisa Vinton HAVEL, VONDRA, BAUDYS ON MOSCOW DEVELOPMENTS. Czech President Vaclav Havel has "full understanding" for Russian President Boris Yeltsin's decision to disband the parliament, Czech TV reported on 21 September. Havel was quoted as saying that Yeltsin is obviously trying to solve the constitutional and political crisis in the country. First Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Vondra said in a televised interview that the current crisis is "not very surprising," since the Russian 'superparliament' was inherited from the past and that new elections are necessary to resolve the situation. He added that from his viewpoint, "the only thing that remained unclear was the question of who should call them and when." Defense Minister Antonin Baudys stressed that the situation in Russia should not be "overdramatized or exaggerated." He said that as long as the army stays out of the conflict and limits itself to maintaining peace and order, a "normal development" of events in Russia can be expected. Baudys said that the Czech military is currently not considering any "special measures." -Jan Obrman PRIORITIES IN SLOVAK FOREIGN AND DEFENSE POLICY. On 21 September Premier Vladimir Meciar and President Michal Kovac both met with US Deputy Defense Secretary for Political Affairs Walter Slocombe, who is presently visiting Slovakia to discuss Slovak security and defense policy. Meciar said Slovakia "agrees with the American idea of European security," while Kovac told Slocombe that "regardless of internal political development, the Slovak foreign policy remains unchanged . . . [and the] . . . Slovak effort to enter NATO is supported by all political parties," TASR reports. Meanwhile, also on 21 September, chairman of the foreign committee of the Slovak parliament Ivan Laluha, stated that "the utmost priority of Slovak foreign policy is to enter European political, economic and security structures," TASR reports. He made the announcement following a meeting with members of the foreign committee of the Russian parliament who are presently visiting Bratislava. After discussing Slovakia's efforts to join NATO, Laluha said that while "Russian can express reservations about this" it must acknowledge that every postcommunist country now has "the right to freely decide its priorities in foreign policy." Laluha also said that Slovakia will support Russia in its quest for European integration. The Slovak Cabinet on 21-September determined the priorities for foreign trade as the EC, the EFTA, the Visegrad group and Russia. -Sharon Fisher SOROS VISITS SLOVAKIA. The Hungarian-born American financier and sponsor of aid programs in the former East bloc George Soros ended his two-day stay in Slovakia on 21-September. In talks with President Michal Kovac, he said he will help transform Slovakia into an "open society" through a $1-million grant from his foundation. He also promised to continue support Trnava University and mentioned the possibility of moving some operations of the Central European University to Bratislava. Furthermore, Soros said he intends to "support the settlement of Romany problems financially via his fund." Kovac and Soros also spoke about the Hungarian minority in Slovakia; on 20 September foreign minister Jozef Moravcik promised members of the CSCE who are currently inspecting Slovakia's minority policies that the country will fulfill the recommendations of the Council of Europe. Soros refused to comment on the Slovak political situation but said the country's image is "not as positive as it could be," TASR reports. -Sharon Fisher ROMANIAN MINERS JAILED FOR 1991 RIOT DAMAGE. A court official announced on 21-September that seven coal miners from the Jiu Valley have been jailed for looting a shop during anti-government riots in September 1991. Victor Cherciu, president of the Petrosani district court, was quoted by Reuters as saying that four men were sentenced to two years, while three others, aged under 18, got similar-length terms in juvenile centers. The civil suit against them was brought by the shop owner, who reportedly received a damage award of 402,000 lei ($452). In September 1991 thousands of Jiu Valley miners hijacked trains to Bucharest, where they stormed the government's offices and forced the resignation of Petre Roman's cabinet. The Petrosani court's decision is the only civil case so far against miners involved in four violent politically motivated raids on Romania's capital in 1990-1991 in which at least ten people were killed. -Dan Ionescu TWO FORMER ROMANIAN OFFICIALS RELEASED FROM PRISON. Two former state officials who are charged with murder in connection with the December 1989 uprising in Timisoara have been allowed to stay out of jail pending trial, Rompres reported on 22-September. The two are Ion Coman, a former Romanian Communist Party top official responsible for police supervision, and Ion Popescu, former police chief of Timisoara. Both men, who were set free on health grounds, face a new trial on 1 November. The Timisoara uprising marked the beginning of a revolt which toppled Nicolae Ceausescu's communist regime on 22 December 1989. Dan Ionescu NATO PARLIAMENTARIAN ON BULGARIAN DEMOCRACY, SECURITY. In an address to parliament on the second and last day of his visit to Bulgaria, Loic Bouvard, president of the North Atlantic Assembly, said he was convinced that Bulgaria's journey toward democracy is irreversible. BTA reports that Bouvard was praising several Bulgarian post-1989 achievements, such as greater respect for human rights and the rule of law. He also said Bulgarian efforts to uphold UN sanctions against rump Yugoslavia represented a significant contribution to international law and its institutions. Regarding the country's new and vulnerable security situation, Reuters quoted Bouvard that Western states should help to make Bulgaria's turn to democracy into a "contract for collective security." He called it a responsibility of the West to see to that the 'Iron Curtain' is not replaced by "new walls between the economically developed and less developed, between secure and insecure zones, between North and South, East and West." -Kjell Engelbrekt LITHUANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER TENDERS RESIGNATION. On 21 September National Defense Minister Audrius Butkevicius told a press conference, broadcast live by Radio Lithuania, that he had given President Algirdas Brazauskas his resignation. Brazauskas asked him to stay on temporarily while he studied the situation. The resignation was said to be prompted by members of the Volunteer Home Guard Service (VHGS) in Kaunas withdrawing into the forest with their weapons and ignoring his request to return to their posts by noon 20-September. Butkevicius said that the incident was a well-planned political provocation, but refused to identify the forces he believed were behind it. He was also clearly displeased by criticism from a parliament commission formed to settle the dispute, in effect undercutting his authority. Butkevicius said that, before leaving office, he had accepted the resignation of his deputy Jonas Gecas, who was in charge of VHGS. -Saulius Girnius LITHUANIAN PRIME MINISTER IN JAPAN. On 17-September Adolfas Slezevicius traveled to Japan at the invitation of a foundation for Chiune Sugihara, Japan's acting consul in Lithuania in 1940 who saved the lives of 6,000 Jews by giving them Japanese visas. Although the visit is unofficial, Slezevicius held talks with various government and parliament officials and at a meeting on 21 September with Prime Minister Morihoro Hosokawa discussed the possibility of expanding trade and receiving economic assistance. On 22-September he flew to Korea where he will hold talks with his counterpart In-Sung Hwang and other government and business officials, Radio Lithuania reports. The visit is timed to coincide with the opening of the Day of the Baltics (23 September) at the Expo '93 world exposition in Teajon. On 21-September Estonian Prime Minister Mart Laar also departed for Korea from where he will travel to Thailand. In both countries he will meet with his counterparts and other business leaders. Latvian Foreign Minister Georgs Andrejevs will represent his country at the opening ceremonies. -Saulius Girnius BALTIC PRESIDENTS MEET. On 21 September Baltic Presidents Gintis Ulmanis (Latvia), Lennart Meri (Estonia), and Algirdas Brazauskas (Lithuania) held an unofficial meeting in Jurmala to coordinate their upcoming visits to the US, Radio Lithuania reports. They discussed their planned speeches at the UN dealing with the withdrawal of Russian troops and establishing common policies on security issues and relations with Russia. They also signed a joint statement determining the status of the work groups which are to elaborate a legal and political framework for the future Baltic Council. -Saulius Girnius [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Elizabeth Teague and Kjell Engelbrekt 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, 80538 Munich, Germany;.Telephone: (+49 89) 2102-2631 or -2624; Fax: (+49 89) 2102-2648, Internet: PD@RFERL.ORG 1993, RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved.RFE/RL Daily Report
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