|To live is so startling, it leaves little time for anything else. - Emily Dickinson|
No. 225, 24 November 1993
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Inc. CIS RUSSIA HINTS AT ECONOMIC PRESSURE OVER START. Izvestiya on 23 November cited Russian foreign ministry officials as suggesting that Russia might apply economic pressure to force Ukraine to fully eliminate its nuclear weapons. An unnamed Russian official described the Ukrainians as untrustworthy and suggested that the conditions on ratification imposed by the Ukrainian parliament were very similar to Kravchuk's position. Izvestiya suggested that economic measures against Ukraine, such as reducing natural gas deliveries, might not be directly or publicly linked to the nuclear issue but might instead be justified by reference to Ukraine's outstanding debt to Russia. -John Lepingwell RUSSIA FINAL NUMBER OF CANDIDATES. The Central Electoral Commission has announced the final number of candidates to fight the constituency-based seats in the new parliament, Radio Rossii reported on 22 November. The final number is slightly higher than the previously announced figure [see RFE/RL Daily Report no. 223], standing at 490 contestants for seats in the upper house-the Federation Council-and 1,567 candidates for the half of the State Duma seats to be contested in single-mandate constituencies rather than nationwide on party lists. The Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Nikolai Ryabov, said the registration of candidates showed that Russian voters were active and that Russian society was becoming increasingly democratic. -Wendy Slater YELTSIN BACKTRACKS ON INDEPENDENT TV. On 23 November, President Boris Yeltsin issued a decree allocating six hours of broadcasting-time a day to the independent NTV television network. NTV is the only independent Russian TV network to broadcast its own news. According to the provisions of the decree, state TV companies were to broadcast educational programs in the morning, while NTV would go on the air in the evening. Later the same day, however, Yeltsin annulled the decree, citing the need to resolve conflicts of interest between the parties involved, Reuters, ITAR-TASS and Ostankino TV news reported. Earlier this month, various liberal newspapers and creative unions accused the head of the Federal Information Center, Mikhail Poltoranin, of attempting to close NTV down in order to ensure the Center's control over all political broadcasts in Russia. -Julia Wishnevsky COURT RULES IN FAVOR OF BANNED NEWSPAPER. A Moscow district court ruled on 23-November that the government acted illegally in suspending the opposition newspaper, Sovetskaya Rossiya, after the October disturbances, ITAR-TASS reported. The court said the newspaper could resume publication within ten days if the Ministry of Information did not appeal the decision. The editorial board of Sovetskaya Rossiya had filed a suit against the Ministry of Information after rejecting the government's proposal that it might resume publication if it changed its title and chief editor. -Vera Tolz CRISIS IN ENERGY SECTOR. Increased demand due to extremely cold weather, billions of rubles in unpaid bills and strike threats have sharpened the crisis in Russian energy sector, Russian news agencies reported on 23 November. Anatolii Dyakov, president of the company Unified Energy System of Russia, said that supplies of coal, fuel and natural gas must be increased significantly in order to meet energy shortages induced by recent cold temperatures across the country. Yurii Shafranik, Minister for Fuel and Energy, told the Commission on Operational Issues that the energy situation was being aggravated by the fact that the Ministry of Finance and Central Bank had issued only half of the credits earlier promised to the industry (305 billion rubles, instead of 610 billion rubles). Shafranik told Reuters after the Commission meeting that, since October, oil enterprises had cut their production by 14,000 tons a day because customers were not paying their bills. The inability of companies in the energy industry to collect income from customers or inadequate financing from the state has led to enormous pay backlogs. Among the labor groups calling for strikes as a result are coalminers in several regions of the country. They have set a date of 1 December for a work stoppage. First Deputy Prime Minister Egor Gaidar is to fly to Vorkuta on 25 November to hold talks with the miners' representatives, Interfax reported. -Erik Whitlock FINANCIAL WOES. Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Dubinin said his Ministry did not have the money to pay coal miners' October and November wages according to the agreement reached between the government and the coal industry earlier this year, Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported on 23 November. The reason given is a shortfall of 300 billion rubles in expected state tax revenues this month. The state coal enterprise, Rosugol, has put the Finance Ministry's debt to the coal industry at 400 billion rubles. The same day, the Minister of Agriculture, Aleksandr Zaveryukha said the government owed the agricultural sector 800-billion rubles and that it hoped to pay off that sum by 12 December.--Erik Whitlock ZHIRINOVSKY ADVOCATES ABOLITION OF REPUBLICS. Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the misleadingly-named Liberal Democratic Party, sent a message to his supporters on 23-November, Reuters and Interfax reported, in which he stated: "We do not need the restoration of the Soviet Union-this is why the Communists lost. We do not need a CIS-this is why the democrats are losing. We need a Russia within the borders of 1990 if not those of 1977." The party's economic program proposes halting foreign aid and defense industry conversion, and calls for a stronger state sector, reintroduction of state orders and restoration of inter-enterprise links; a bar on refugees in Russia and a ban on non-citizens trading in Russian cities. Zhirinovsky also proposes that Russia's federal structure should be altered by dissolving the 21 ethnic republics; only the territorially based krais and oblasts should continue to exist. -Wendy Slater TRAVKIN WORRIED BY FALLING SUPPORT. Nikolai Travkin, leader of the Democratic Party of Russia, told a press conference in Moscow that he was concerned by the drop in his party's popularity shown by recent polls, Interfax reported on 22 November. Nonetheless, Travkin said, the party would not seek an alliance with other parties during the upcoming election campaign. Calling the campaign a test of the party's ability to hold its own, Travkin said that if the party failed to win at least 5% of the vote, changes would have to be made within it. -Elizabeth Teague MILITARY DRAFT IN TROUBLE. According to an Interfax report of 23 November, the military draft in the city of Moscow is running into difficulties once again. So far, only 32.5% of the required number of conscripts have been inducted, despite efforts by both the defense ministry and city authorities to increase the turnout. The results also suggest that a decree issued by President Yeltsin on 2 October, which eliminated some draft exemptions, and a similar move by parliament earlier in the year, have not solved the conscription problem. -John Lepingwell KOSTIKOV WARNS LEADERS OF OCTOBER UPRISING MAY ESCAPE PUNISHMENT. Vyacheslav Kostikov, press secretary for President Yeltsin, issued a statement on 23-November reported by ITAR-TASS and Interfax urging that the investigation against those accused of responsibility for the violence on 3-4-October be brought to a swift conclusion. He accused defense lawyers of deliberately delaying the case and of "presenting the defendants as victims, and the defenders of democracy against the Red-Brown coup as culprits." The case, he said, risked replaying the long-delayed trial of those accused of leading the 1991 attempted coup. Kostikov claimed that the lawyers' tactics "hold a danger for society. People are becoming disoriented about political morality; the concept of guilt for serious state misdemeanors is blurred." -Wendy Slater TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA RESIGNATION OF AZERBAIJANI PRIME MINISTER REPORTED. Radio Rossii reported on 23 November that Azerbaijan's Prime Minister, Colonel Suret Huseinov, has resigned. There has been no official confirmation of the story from Baku. Huseinov, who led a rebel force against the Baku government in early summer, was given the premiership in a compromise. Also on 23-November, Reuters reported that the official Kyrgyzstani daily Slovo Kyrgyzstana had carried a story about the resignations of the ministers of justice and transportation in the Central Asian republic, speculating that the two feared that the upcoming parliamentary session would be "hot." -Bess Brown DEFECTING AMBASSADOR CRITICIZES KARIMOV. In an interview with RL's Uzbek Service on 23 November, Uzbekistan's Ambassador to the US, Muhammad Buhar Malikov, said he has applied for political asylum in the United States because he can no longer live with Uzbek President Islam Karimov's violations of basic human rights and suppression of the opposition. He denied connections with any Uzbek opposition group, saying he was acting only in accord with his conscience after 40 years of state service in Uzbekistan, including a stint as Minister of Justice. Malikov denied Uzbek Foreign Ministry charges that he had misused government funds, complaining that his embassy was so poorly financed that he did not even have an entertainment budget. He also noted that groups of Uzbek political emigres opposed to Karimov are forming in the US, Moscow, Germany, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. -Azizullah Aral and Bess Brown TAJIK ISLAMIC LEADER DENIES ATTACK PREPARATIONS. Tajik Islamic Renaissance Party Chairman Mohammadsharif Himmatzoda, interviewed by AFP in his refuge in Kabul, was quoted on 23 November as denying Tajik government charges that Tajik opposition forces are massing in Afghanistan for an attack on Tajikistan. Himmatzoda said that his group's military bases are all inside Tajikistan, and claimed that these groups control a significant portion of the country. He also denied that Afghan groups are providing military training for the Tajik opposition, saying that the only assistance received is from Uzbek oppositionists who have fled Uzbekistan. Himmatzoda said he was willing to negotiate with the present government of Tajikistan, but would not agree to share power with it. -Bess Brown CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL BLASTS RIGHTS SITUATION IN KOSOVO. The BBC said on 24 November that human rights groups including Amnesty International have issued a report strongly critical of Serbian policies toward Kosovo's more than 90% ethnic Albanian majority. Spokesperson Christine von Kohl said from Vienna that Serbian abuses have been less flagrant than in Bosnia but that Albanians still cannot obtain an education in state schools or medical treatment in their own language, which has forced them to develop alternative underground institutions instead. Borba reports that the Kosovo Albanians reject any possible restoration of the province's autonomy, which was destroyed by the regime of President Slobodan Milosevic, because they feel that the Serbs themselves have ended the former constitutional order once and for all. The president of the self-proclaimed Republic of Kosovo, Ibrahim Rugova, has said that the Kosovars now have three options: neutrality, independence in some arrangement with the Albanians in Macedonia, or union with Albania. Finally, Borba goes on to note that Albanian pupils and students in Kosovo plan to celebrate Albanian independence day, 28 November, rather than rump Yugoslavia's national holiday on the 29th and 30th, in yet another move to show that the Albanians want nothing to do with Serbian public life. -Fabian Schmidt CROATS PLAN TO REBUILD MOSTAR BRIDGE. Borba reports on 24 November that a commission of experts has been set up in Zagreb to reconstruct the historic structure over the Neretva that Croatian gunners destroyed on 9 November. The commission chairman said that "every stone will be returned to the place where it was 427 years ago." The Croatian media have reported the destruction of the bridge but have been reluctant to admit direct Croatian responsibility, suggesting instead that it somehow just happened in the midst of a war. Croatian military officials meanwhile have told Western reporters that the Muslims had deliberately used the bridge for military purposes. All three nationalities in Bosnia-Herzegovina have traditionally identified with the bridge, and this year the Croat republic pictured it on stamps while the local Serbs have it on bank notes. There has been surprisingly little international political fallout over the destruction of the famous bridge, but Croatia seems anxious to set things right quickly nonetheless. -Patrick Moore NO PAPAL VISIT TO CROATIA? BORBA ON 24 NOVEMBER QUOTES VATICAN RADIO AS SAYING THAT POPE JOHN PAUL II WILL NOT GO TO CROATIA NEXT YEAR AFTER ALL. The Belgrade daily adds that the pope reportedly deferred to Italian political circles angry over the sour state of relations between Italy and Croatia following allegations in the Croatian media and by politicians to the effect that Italy has irredentist designs on Istria and Dalmatia. The Croatian press had recently reported that the long-awaited papal visit would come in 1994, although it was noted that the pope's wish to visit Sarajevo would have to be postponed indefinitely. The late President Josip Broz Tito was received by Pope Paul VI in the Vatican, but the Yugoslav authorities repeatedly vetoed the idea of a papal visit to Croatia out of fear that it could develop into a celebration of Croatian nationalism. Since nationalists came to power in Croatia in 1990, the leadership has openly hoped that the pope would soon visit. -Patrick Moore "POLITICAL POLICE COURT TRIALS AGAINST ALBANIANS, MUSLIMS IN KOSOVO AND SANDZAK". This is how Borba on 22 November described court decisions against two groups of 15 and 19 Albanians in Kosovo and an additional 25 Muslim citizens of Novi Pazar, a town with a Muslim majority in Sandzak along the Serbian border with Montenegro. Borba concluded that the charges of preparing an armed uprising were trumped up because among the first Albanian group charged no weapons were found except for one pistol for which the owner had a license. The Belgrade daily added that "the whole quantity of weapons found among the groups in Novi Pazar and Pristina was smaller than that which the government distributed to just one Serbian farm." Borba concluded that the court's decision makes it obvious that the investigations were set up to be used against the ethnic Albanian Democratic League of Kosovo and the Muslim-dominated Party for Democratic Action in Sandzak. -Fabian Schmidt "ARKAN " STARTS ELECTION CAMPAIGN IN VOJVODINA. Zeljko Raznatovic "Arkan" is the leader of the newly founded ultranationalist Party of Serbian Unity, but is better known abroad as an internationally wanted war criminal for his activities in Croatia and Bosnia. He has now started his party's campaign for the December elections in Pancevo, a town in Vojvodina, Politika reports on 21 November. According to his economic program, Raznatovic said that after the sanctions are lifted he expects prosperity in Serbia, summing up his approach as "work, work and only work." "The unification of all Serbian lands, to prevent genocide against the Serbs" is how he described his party's major aim, and he repeated, in reference to Kosovo, Vojvodina and Sandzak, "that all those who are loyal to Serbia are equal citizens, but the Serbs will never tolerate citizens loyal to another entity [as part of] their country. Those who look to Tirana, Budapest and Iran should pack their bags." -Fabian Schmidt UPDATE ON POLISH SECURITY CHIEF. At a press conference on 23 November, Interior Minister Andrzej Milczanowski denied that there had been any political pressure, either from the government or from the president's office, for the resignation of Jerzy Konieczny, head of the State Security Office. One day earlier, Konieczny himself told members of the ministry's Political Advisory Committee that he believed his "mission was complete." The committee approved his resignation by three votes to three, with two abstentions, PAP reported. It approved the appointment of his deputy Colonel Gromoslaw Czempinski, who described himself as "hailing from the Security Service school of the 1970's," by six votes in favor and two abstentions. Colonel Henryk Jasik was simultaneously approved as the candidate to replace deputy minister Krzysztof Zabinski, a member of the Liberal Democratic Congress which lost its parliamentary representation in the recent elections. The nominations have still to be formally approved by the prime minister. -Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka PAWLAK ANNULS SUCHOCKA'S NOMINATIONS. Polish Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak has annulled the nominations made by his predecessor Hanna Suchocka to the selection commission that will be appointing members to the National Investment Funds responsible for managing privatized enterprises. Suchocka had been criticized for making the nominations shortly before handing over the reins of government to the postcommunist coalition. Gazeta Wyborcza, which reported Pawlak's decision on 23 November, quoted unofficial sources. -Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka BIELECKI FOR EBRD. The Chairman of the Polish National Bank Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz has proposed former prime minister Jan Krzysztof Bielecki for the post of Polish representative on the Supervisory Council of the European Bank of Research and Development (EBRD), Rzeczpospolita reported on 23 November. Poland also represents Bulgarian and Albanian interests in the EBRD's top body. The post became vacant after Jan Winiecki resigned on 2 November, protesting that Pawlak's government would lead the country to "economic ruin." PAP quoted Bielecki as saying that he did not treat the post as a government appointment but as an opportunity to ensure real support for Poland's economic reforms. -Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka CZECH, GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET. The Czech and German foreign ministers, Josef Zieleniec and Klaus Kinkel, have discussed the Czech Republic's integration into European security, political, and economic structures, CTK reports on 24 November. Zieleniec, who is visiting Bonn, welcomed NATO's "partnership for peace" proposal and also appreciated that the prospects of association between Central European countries and the West European Union "are becoming more real." Kinkel expressed Bonn's hope that friendly relations between Germany and the Czech Republic can now develop in a similar way as have postwar relations between Germany and France. In a discussion with Bundestag legislators, Zieleniec again rejected any negotiations between representatives of the expelled Sudeten Germans and the Czech government. Jan Obrman HAVEL SIGNS DEFAMATION LAW. Czech President Vaclav Havel has signed a new law making defamation of the government, parliament, or constitutional court punishable by up to two years in prison, CTK reports on 23 November. The legislation is part of a package of new laws aimed at combatting crime in the Czech Republic. After the singing ceremony Havel expressed dissatisfaction with the defamation law, arguing that it is too vague. The president said that failing to sign the law would have delayed the implementation of the package as a whole, but asked the constitutional court to revise it. Jan Obrman KOVAC SAYS SLOVAK OFFICIALS LACK POLITICAL CULTURE. In a 22 November television program, President Michal Kovac said insufficient political culture of leading representatives is the main reason why Slovakia is seen as an unstable country abroad. He said Slovakia is also seen as unstable because of "the behavior of our chief politicians and the inappropriate manner of solving different interparty political questions." Kovac complained that the government does not allow criticism of its programs. Stating that of the four Visegrad countries, Slovakia has the least foreign investment, Kovac said that this is because the country is not entirely trusted and that Slovakia looks from the outside like a country whose domestic political situation is unstable. -Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN PRESIDENT REJECTS CRITICISM. On 23 November President Arpad Goncz rejected the parliamentary criticism of his assessment of the situation of the Hungarian electronic media, MTI reports. Goncz had told the Italian daily La Stampa that radio and television have become mouthpieces of the government. Replying to the charge that his statement damaged Hungary's reputation, Goncz said that "it was not so much the La Stampa article or similar statements abroad that hurt the interests of Hungary and its government but the political processes that prompt the writing of such articles." Goncz regretted that his offers of mediation between political parties to resolve the conflict around the electronic media have been rejected by the coalition parties. The largest opposition party the Alliance of Free Democrats issued a statement condemning the coalition's "new attack" against Goncz, and warned that the government can only achieve a "Pyrrhic victory in the media war which hurts not only the interests of Hungarian democracy and the citizens but is also against the government's own interests." -Edith Oltay DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION THREATENS TO BOYCOTT NATIONAL DAY CELEBRATIONS. In a press release broadcast by Radio Bucharest on 22 November, the main opposition alliance, the Democratic Convention of Romania, said that if the authorities will not make their position clear towards King Michael's request to be granted an entry visa till 24 November, the convention will not participate in the national day celebrations in Alba Iulia, on 1-December. The former monarch expressed the wish to participate in the celebrations but the authorities have been procrastinating on their decision, while dropping hints that the visa will be denied. The president of the DCR, Emil Constantinescu, told Radio Bucharest that the DCR leaders will request a meeting with President Iliescu on the matter. The meeting takes place on 24 November. In a related development, the leadership of the Democratic Party (National Salvation Front) said in a press release broadcast by Radio Bucharest on 23 November it will not share the podium at the 1 December celebrations with "those who had launched political persecutions and are endangering the state ruled by law and democratic liberties." Petre Roman's party says it will participate in the celebrations "unofficially" and "among the people." -Michael Shafir ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT RAISES GASOLINE PRICES AGAIN. Gasoline prices rose again in Romania on 23 November. The increase, by one-fifth, comes on top of a price hike early last month. The price of gasoline has now increased 60 percent in less than two months. Radio Bucharest and western agencies reported that hundreds of car owners rushed through a thick layer of snow on the night of 22 to 23 November, after the radio announced that prices would go up at midnight. A liter of gasoline now costs 400 lei (about 34-cents at the official exchange rate). -Michael Shafir IMPASSE OVER BULGARIAN-EC TRADE DEAL CONTINUES. On 23 November Foreign Ministry expressed "deep concern" that the European Community has again failed formally to approve a temporary trade agreement with Bulgaria. The ministry stated that further delays might prompt Bulgaria to demand a revision of the terms of trade laid down in the agreement. Although the trade deal reportedly was removed from the agenda of the EC Council of Ministers's meeting on 22 November so that the session could deal exclusively with developments in former Yugoslavia, Bulgarian dailies on 24 November speculate that the primary cause of the delay is that several European governments seek to stop the influx of cheaper East European products into the EC market. The interim accord, which is to regulate trade relations until Bulgaria's association agreement is finally ratified by all EC parliaments, was originally to be enforced by 1 June. Bulgaria says that as a result of the postponements it has suffered losses totaling $200 million. -Kjell Engelbrekt ESTONIA OFFERS RESIDENCE TO FORMER MILITARY. On 23 November the Estonian government issued a decree establishing the procedure for granting residence permits to retired foreign military personnel and their families, BNS reports. Anyone who retired from the military before 20 August 1991 and was born before 1 January 1930, has a spouse or minor child who is an Estonian citizen or legal permanent resident, or the Estonian government deems his presence in Estonia to be necessary can apply for a residence permit. The retirees must submit applications to the Immigration Bureau by 12 July 1994. -Saulius Girnius LATVIAN GOVERNMENT FAVORS REFERENDUM ON CITIZENSHIP LAW. On 23 November the Latvian Cabinet declared that once the parliament passes a citizenship law, it will urge the president and parliament to submit it to a national vote in a referendum, Baltfax reports. On 25 November the parliament will hold the first reading of the draft law on citizenship proposed by the ruling coalition of Latvia's Way and the Farmers' Union factions that requires 10 years residency and knowledge of the Latvian language. Other proposed laws have stricter requirements and quotas for citizenship. -Saulius Girnius BELARUSIAN FUEL RESERVES ALMOST USED UP. The Belarusian Minister of Energy Valentyn Herasimau told the budget planning committee of the Supreme Soviet that the country had completely used up its fuel supplies and is running on state reserves, which will only last another week, Belinform reported on 23 November. He went on to say the problem is due to payment difficulties. Belarus now owes a total of 140 billion rubles for gas, oil and other energy supplies. 28 billion rubles of this sum is owed to Russia for fuel. Belarus's debts to the Baltic states have been settled. -Ustina Markus BELARUS OPPOSES RUSSIAN, US PRESSURE ON UKRAINE'S NUCLEAR STANCE. Belarusian Chairman of the Supreme Soviet, Stanislau Shushkevich, criticized Russian attempts to pressure Ukraine into becoming a non-nuclear state. He said the best way for Russia and the US to proceed in convincing Ukraine to give up its weapons is to show the advantages that would accrue from doing so, Reuters reported on 23 November. The statement was made in the run up to US President Bill Clinton's visit to Belarus in January, during which Belarus hopes to secure half of a $400 million fund set up by the US Congress to help in disarmament in the former Soviet republics. Belarus has also been seeking more favorable terms from Russia on its energy debts, a problem Ukraine is also facing. -Ustina Markus NOTICE The RFE/RL Daily Report will not appear Thursday, 25 November. [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Elizabeth Teague 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. 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