|If you are not allowed to laugh in heaven, I don't want to go there. - Martin Luther|
No. 231, 03 December 1993
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Inc. RUSSIA FINAL PUBLIC OPINION DATA PUBLISHED. The media have been instructed by the central authorities to publish no more public opinion poll data on the elections as of 2 December. The latest poll data, compiled by the respected VTsIOM organization and reported by Ostankino TV on 1 December, found that only 43% of eligible voters had at that point firmly decided to take part in the elections on 12 December: 29% planned to stay home and 22% were still undecided. The poll showed pro-reform groups as firmly in the lead. Russia's Choice was backed by 30% of voters countrywide; Yavlinsky's bloc had 14%; the Movement for Democratic Reforms 9%; and the Communist Party had 8%. Elizabeth Teague QUESTIONABLE SURVEY RESULTS. In Moskovskie novosti of 24 November, Vsevolod Vilchek, the director of Ostankino's sociological research center, questioned the authenticity of opinion polls conducted in the run-up to the 12 December parliamentary elections in Russia. Vilchek argued that even research carried out honestly by reputable polling organizations is often guilty of shaping public opinion rather than simply studying it. He criticized Ostankino's program "Obshchestvennoe mnenie" for broadcasting "survey" results based only on unselected viewer telephone calls. In Izvestiya on 25 November he also claimed that the format of the televised party presentations encourages mudslinging and contributes to voter confusion, saying "They forgot to defend the interests of one participant in the upcoming elections: the voter." Amy Corning MILITARY PROCURACY REPORTS CORRUPTION AMONG SENIOR OFFICERS, STEALING RADIOACTIVE MATERIALS. The chief of the Administration of Military Tribunals, Col.-Gen. Anatolii Muranov, told a press conference in Moscow that over 13 thousand servicemen were arrested this year for crimes such as corruption, desertion, illegal sale of weapons and equipment, reported Ostankino television on 2 December. Among those arrested for corruption were the former chief of the Main Trade Administration of the Ministry of Defense, Lt. Gen. Nikolai Sadovnikov and the commander-in-chief of the Tenth Anti-Aircraft Army, Lt. Gen. Yurii Aleksandrov. According to another report of Ostankino television, on 2 December three uranium rods were stolen from a navy base in Murmansk. The uranium rods are used as nuclear fuel in nuclear submarine reactors. The case is being investigated by Military Counterintelligence of the Ministry of Security. According to A. Zolotkov, who is in charge of the radiation protection service at Murmansk navy base, the thieves were well aware that the rods posed no dangers to their health. Zolotkov did not say why the rods were stolen. Victor Yasmann GAS WORKERS' STRIKE ENDS. An agreement reached on 1 December between government representatives and striking workers in the natural gas and transport industries brought to an end a week-long strike in the city of Nadym in northern Russia. Elizabeth Teague OIL EXPORTS TO BE CUT? ENERGY MINISTER YURII SHAFRANIK HAS STATED THAT RUSSIA MAY CUT ITS OIL EXPORTS IN DECEMBER TO CUSTOMERS OUTSIDE THE FORMER SOVIET UNION BY UP TO 75%, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL REPORTED ON 2 DECEMBER. This would mean a volume of about 500,000 barrels a day (b/d) instead of the 1.7 million b/d recorded in recent months. The justification given was increased demand within the former Soviet republics after the coldest November in 50 years. Market analysts were skeptical, viewing the statement merely as pre-election reassurance to citizens concerned about the availability of fuel for domestic heating. Any substantial cut could help to ease the current downward pressure on world oil prices. Keith Bush GERASHCHENKO TO LOWER DISCOUNT RATE? IN A FEISTY INTERVIEW WITH REUTERS ON 2 DECEMBER, THE INCORRIGIBLE CHAIRMAN OF THE RUSSIAN CENTRAL BANK, VIKTOR GERASHCHENKO, POURED SCORN ON HIS LEADING CRITICS, BORIS FEDOROV AND JEFFREY SACHS, AND REITERATED HIS DETERMINATION TO DO THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT REFORMERS AND INTERNATIONAL CREDITORS WANT. He claimed that the deflationary package announced by the Finance Ministry--which was published in Rossiiskiye vesti on 23 November and which has been welcomed by the IMF--had never been approved by the government. Gerashchenko further hinted that next week the Bank may cut its discount rate (base lending rate) from the current 210%. Unless the monthly inflation rate can be kept below 10% (and only government spokesmen appear to think that it can in the near future), such a reduction would run counter to pledges made to the IMF and external creditors. Keith Bush AVTOVAZ PRIVATIZATION POSTPONED. A spokesman of the State Property Committee (Goskomimushchestvo) told Reuters on 30 November that the privatization of Avtovaz--where the Lada cars are made--has been postponed. The plant management was attempting, it was said, to sell fewer shares at inter-regional tenders in order to keep a larger proportion for itself. In November, the Avtovaz management had announced that it would sell 50% of its shares in December--27.5% at voucher auctions and 22.5% at an investment tender for cash. Keith Bush SHAKHRAI IN BASHKORTOSTAN, TATARSTAN. Deputy Premier Sergei Shakhrai visited Bashkortostan and Tatarstan on 2 December as part of his election campaign. Speaking in Ufa, he said that, if his party won, it would allow the regions complete freedom to develop economic ties among themselves as envisaged by the federal treaty under which the republics themselves delegate those powers to the center they consider necessary, ITAR-TASS reported. This is the kind of economic cooperation that Bashkortostan has been seeking for a long time. However, ITAR-TASS reported, Shakhrai's audience did not share his or his party's approval of the draft constitution. In Tatarstan Shakhrai discussed the thorny question of the future status of Tatarstan with Tatarstan president Mintimer Shaimiev behind closed doors, Interfax reported. Shakhrai claimed afterwards that Shaimiev was willing to back his party in the elections. Ann Sheehy TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA BASHKIR, UDMURT, AND KARELIAN SPEAKERS ON DRAFT CONSTITUTION. The speaker of the Bashkir parliament Murtaza Rakhimov has said the Russian constitution should not be adopted by referendum but by the Federal Assembly, Interfax reported on 2 December. Rakhimov criticized the omission from the draft of the federal treaty and any reference to republican sovereignty. The speaker of the Udmurt parliament Valentin Tubylov told a press conference that at the latter stages of the preparation of the draft the federal authorities had taken a number of steps aimed at centralizing power and depriving the republics of their sovereign rights, Russian Television reported on 1 December. Tubylov thought the regions should have equal economic but not political rights with the republics. The speaker of the Karelian parliament Stepanov said on Ostankino television on 1 December that the draft should have included the federal treaty, but as a pragmatist he accepted the situation. A public opinion poll in Karelia showed that 43 percent would vote in favor of the draft and only 12 percent against. Ann Sheehy BAIKONUR LEASE PROPOSED. Kazakhstan's Minister of Science Galym Abilsiitov told a news conference on 1 December that his country wants Russia to assume responsibility for the Baikonur space center and the town of Leninsk under a lease agreement, Interfax reported. The alternative, proposed by Kazakhstan some months ago, would be creation of an international company to utilize the former Soviet space launch facilities. Kazakhstani officials say that their country cannot afford to run the space center, which has twice been the site of riots by military personnel angry over low pay and poor living standards. The Russian Space Agency's director, who appeared at the press conference with Abilsiitov, proposed transfer of some Baikonur assets to his agency. Bess Brown BAIKONUR RIOTERS SENTENCED. ITAR-TASS reported on 2 December that thirteen soldiers who rioted at the Baikonur space center on 3-4 June have been sentenced to up to twelve years in prison for their part in the disturbances. Two others tried at the same time were given suspended sentences. Some 500 members of military-construction units stationed at the center were reported to have looted warehouses and set fire to offices and barracks as part of a protest against having to remain in military service. There were also riots by military personnel at Baikonur in 1992. Accounts published in Kazakhstan of the 1993 disturbances did not mention the nationality of the soldiers involved, but Russian news reports claimed the rioters were Kazakhs. Bess Brown CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE TAJIK LEGISLATORS TO MEET WITH OPPOSITION. A working group of the Tajik legislature's Commission on Relations with Social Organizations has gone to Moscow to meet with members of the Tajik opposition who are in exile there, Russian agencies reported on 2 December. One of the most prominent members of Tajikistan's leadership, First Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Soviet Abdumadzhid Dostiev, who also heads the commission, told ITAR-TASS that he plans to participate in the discussions. Interfax quoted a statement issued by the Coordinating Center of Tajik Democratic Forces in Moscow saying that they were prepared to negotiate with the Tajik government in order to stabilize the situation in Tajikistan, and accused the government of misrepresenting the opposition's willingness to engage in dialog. Tajikistan's government has been under pressure from its CIS allies for months to negotiate with the opposition. Bess Brown NATO ON "PARTNERSHIP FOR PEACE." NATO foreign ministers met in Brussels on 2 December and approved the proposed "Partnership for Peace" program. The program, which calls for increased military cooperation with the former Warsaw Pact states and Soviet republics, is expected to be formally approved and announced at a NATO summit on 10-11 January 1994. The program falls far short of the hopes of the former communist Central and East European states for rapid NATO membership. According to reports it offers no security guarantees, nor any guarantees of future NATO membership, nor a timetable or conditions for membership. It is expected, however, that the NATO summit in January will decide that in principle NATO could accept new members. On 3 December, the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC), which includes both NATO members and the former Warsaw Pact members, including Soviet Union's successor states, will meet to discuss the proposal in more detail. John Lepingwell CONFLICTING ATTITUDES IN NATO TOWARDS UKRAINE. There have been conflicting reports as to NATO's attitude towards Ukraine joining the "Partnership for Peace" program following the 2 December meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels. Belgian foreign minister Willy Claes said that NATO may exclude Ukraine from any military cooperation agreements unless Kiev agrees to get rid of all nuclear weapons on its territory. British foreign minister Douglas Hurd said Ukraine was jeopardizing its membership in the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, since it had been allowed into the council with the expectation that it would become non-nuclear. In an even stronger statement, German foreign minister Klaus Kinkel said, "For Russia and Ukraine, (NATO) membership is out of the question." NATO Secretary-General Manfred Woerner denied that NATO is for excluding Ukraine from the "Partnership for Peace" program and said the subject was not even discussed at the meeting. US Secretary of State Warren Christopher said Ukraine is eligible for the program, but would be encouraged to carry out its commitments to become non-nuclear. A communique issued after the meeting called on Ukraine to fully ratify START-1 and join the NPT, but did not mention excluding it from the "Partnership for Peace," various agencies reported Ustina Markus NATO: NO SECURITY GUARANTEE FOR UKRAINE. Reuters reported that on 2 December NATO foreign ministers discussed a request by Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk that the organization provide a security guarantee for Ukraine. When the Ukrainian parliament ratified START-1 it called upon Kravchuk to seek guarantees from international organizations, as well as the nuclear weapons states. According to Reuters a British official stated that the ministers had decided that they could not proffer a guarantee (since that would be tantamount to NATO membership) but did approve a British proposal that Ukraine be sent a summary of existing (and much weaker) NATO assurances, as well as an offer to help with the dismantling of the weapons. John Lepingwell BREAKTHROUGH AT BOSNIAN PEACE TALKS? GENEVA TALKS AIMED AT BRINGING PEACE TO FORMER YUGOSLAVIA ENDED ON 2 DECEMBER WITH LITTLE AGREEMENT AS TO HOW SUCCESSFUL NEGOTIATIONS HAD BEEN. The talks concluded with no peace agreement being produced, but a commitment from the Bosnian Muslim side to continue meetings with the Bosnian Serbs was announced. Meetings between Bosnian Muslim and Serb representatives may resume as early as next week, and may be conducted in Sarajevo. As a Vecernji list headline of 3 December proclaimed, "Negotiations Stumble Over Sarajevo." On 2 December Serb leader Radovan Karadzic said, in remarks reported by the international media, that substantial progress towards peace was being made and that Bosnian Muslim and Serb negotiators had agreed to partition the city of Sarajevo along Serbian and Muslim ethnic lines. Karadzic's interpretation of the situation, however, was quickly disputed by Bosnian Muslim officials. According to Mohamed Sacirbey, Bosnia's ambassador to the UN, the mere suggestion of carving up Sarajevo was "repugnant" and he stressed that there was "no agreement" on dividing the city. Sacirbey also suggested that the Bosnian Serb side had stalled the peace process by refusing to talk about territorial concessions to the Muslims while insisting that most of the discussion had to be focused on the question of partitioning Sarajevo. According to Croatian media, a few conference participants expressed optimism about at least the tone of the discussions. Vecernji list of 3 December reports that international mediator Thorvald Stoltenberg noted the last two days of the Geneva talks were conducted in "a very good and constructive atmosphere." Stan Markotich ALBANIAN PARTY LEADERS AND MACEDONIA. Members of the ethnic Albanian Party for Democratic Prosperity, the largest Albanian political party in Macedonia, reportedly petitioned the CSCE meeting in Rome on 1 December, not to admit Macedonia. They argued that Macedonia should only gain admission after it had accorded ethnic Albanians equality of rights. According to an ATA report of 24 November 1993, PDP figures in Tetovo demanded that certain unnamed officials in the party resign because of 'collaboration', presumably a reference to cooperating with Macedonian government officials. ATA on 30 November named PDP chief, Nevzat Halili, and former General Secretary Mithat Emini; it also indicated that Neritan Ceka and Arben Imami--both members of the Albanian Democratic Party--were meant. Ismije Beshiri and Duncan Perry SEJM BUSINESS. The Sejm continued on 1 and 2 December to expedite urgent items of legislation delayed by the dissolution of the previous parliament. It extended indefinitely the validity of the 1991 law mandating pensions increases proportional to the average wage in industry (which should have expired on 31 December 1993) in order to prevent a breakdown of the pension system. It also decided that legislation, including two amendments on pensions, passed by the previous Sejm but vetoed by the president should be considered defunct. It sent to commission draft legislation that would introduce stamp duty on motor fuel, tobacco products and alcoholic beverages, planned to bring in 6 trillion zloty ($300 million) in budget revenue. It passed a bill bringing trade in goods and technology covered by the COCOM list in line with international agreements. It discussed legislative amendments that would move the deadline by which local government authorities must take over primary schools from 1 January 1994 to 1 January 1996. The opposition Democratic Union caucus had tried unsuccessfully to have the amendment debated in conjunction with the local authority finances bill which should provide debt relief and funds to run the schools. Finally, the Sejm gave a first reading to the government's controversial state secrets bill which entails a list of 106 items of classified information. Some critics fear it violates press freedom. Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka POLISH RENT REFORM. The Sejm also gave its first reading to a package of legislation on rent reform. Housing minister Barbara Blida announced plans involving drastic rents increases for local authority-owned housing and private tenements. The new system would link rents to construction costs; it would, however, differentiate according to living area and family income. It would also provide rental allowances for some one million impoverished families. Blida would like the package, based largely on a draft prepared by the previous government, to be treated as urgent, so that it could take force by 1 July 1994. Rents have not been raised in Poland for over 18 months. In that time maintenance costs have risen steeply; rents now account only for 35% of these costs. Gazeta Wyborcza on 2 December wrote that one in ten tenants has not been paying rent for three months or more, secure in the knowledge that the law makes eviction impossible without provision of substitute accommodation, which is not available in Poland. The draft would alter this situation. Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka POLISH SECURITY CHIEF ON ARMS SMUGGLING. Colonel Gromoslaw Czempinski, who replaced Jerzy Konieczny on 1 December as head of the State Security Office (UOP), denied that the UOP had violated Polish law in the course of its recent "sting" operation with British secret services to catch illegal arms traders. PAP reported on 1 December that the UOP had made $350,000 on the deal. Polish Justice Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz ordered an investigation into the circumstances of the operation after Polish media speculated it had been illegal. Czempinski, who has worked in intelligence and counterintelligence since joining the security service in 1972, declined on security grounds to reveal details of the operation but claimed it had served to frighten off prospective arms smugglers from the Polish market and show the world that Poland's defense industry was well under control. Controversy surrounding this and other UOP activities over the past year has prompted a group of Democratic Left Alliance deputies to propose a standing Sejm commission to supervise the activities of Poland's military and civil intelligence and counterintelligence. Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka DECISION ON HUNGARIAN BANK CONSOLIDATION. The European edition of the Wall Street Journal reported in its 3-4 December issue that the Hungarian cabinet decided to help the 9 largest state-owned commercial banks by providing a $2 billion re-capitalization fund. New funds, which are to be created through a two-phase bond issuing, were needed due to enormous losses caused by declining agricultural and industrial production in the state sector. The re-capitalization program, which was strongly urged by the World Bank, will reinforce state ownership of these banks but help privatization in the end, Hungarian bank officials say. Karoly Okolicsanyi ROMANIAN OPPOSITION PARTY TO DEMAND MINISTER QUIT. Adrian Severin, vice chairman of Romania's opposition Democratic Party-National Salvation Front, said his party will demand the resignation of Minister of Interior Ioan Danescu, an RFE/RL correspondent reported on 2 December. Severin told reporters in Bucharest that Danescu was responsible for two incidents at the national day celebrations in Alba Iulia one day earlier, in which two DP-NSF officials were struck by police. One of the officials was Radu Berceanu, vice chairman of the Chamber of Deputies, who was not hurt. The other was a local DP-NSF official; she fainted, Severin said. Severin also complained that police had kept DP-NSF officials and supporters from an area where government officials were having lunch. He said the Alba Iulia ceremonies had been guarded better than rallies organized by the Communist president Nicolae Ceausescu. Victor Babiuc, interior minister in Petre Roman's cabinet and now a DP-NSF leader, said the increase in police force shows a growing distance between the people in power and those in the streets. Representatives of the DP-NSF participated in the Alba Iulia ceremonies, but refused to be present on the official rostrum. Michael Shafir. FIRE EXTINGUISHED AT KOZLODUY. On 2 December a fire in a storage facility at the Kozloduy nuclear power plant was promptly put out by firefighters, Bulgarian and Western agencies report. Although the storage facility--which contains protective suits used by the employees--is situated between the two 1,000 reactor units, Capt. Todor Gotsev of the Vratsa fire brigade told BTA there had been no risk of the fire spreading beyond the affected area. Gotsev said the fire had produced mostly smoke and therefore had been extinguished easily. No injuries occurred and radiation level was reported normal. Kjell Engelbrekt BULGARIAN OFFICIALS OPPOSE OPENING OF POLICE FILES. On 2 December the heads of Bulgaria's key intelligence and security services participated in parliamentary debates on what to do with classified documents inherited from the communist secret police. BTA quoted all top officials as opposing increased access to the files, which under the law have remained state secrets. Interior Minister Viktor Mihaylov told the Bulgarian National Assembly he is against making the files available on "purely professional grounds," saying that the picture will anyway remain incomplete since most of the original records have been destroyed. Mihaylov estimated that some 64% of the records on secret police collaborators who were no longer active in 1990 were destroyed at that time by Interior Ministry personnel, in accordance with an order issued by the then Interior Minister General Atanas Semerdzhiev. Concerning still active collaborators, he said between 84% and 95% of the documentation is no longer available. Like Mihaylov, Defense Minister Valentin Aleksandrov declared he would rather resign than allow outsiders access to the files. Brigo Asparuhov, Director of the National Intelligence Service, warned that lifting restrictions might jeopardize national security and lower Bulgaria's prestige in the eyes of European security and intelligence agencies. Kjell Engelbrekt RETIRED MILITARY WOULD LEAVE ESTONIA IF RESETTLEMENT PAID. According to Yurii Kotyonkov, leader of the Russian Community of Estonia, some $529 million are needed to resettle in Russia the retired Russian and Soviet military officers and their families currently living in Estonia, BNS reported on 2 December. Some 9,000 (with dependents, the total would come to 36,000 persons) out the 11,000 might leave Estonia if the costs of resettlement are paid. In a related matter, Alar Jaanus of the Estonian Migration Department told the press that the first wave of emigration is over, but that a further 10,000-15,000 Russians want to leave Estonia and need housing in Russia. Jaanus said that Estonia would be willing to build the homes, and expressed the hope that Russia would find resources to back this resettlement project. Jaanus predicted that as many as 20,000 Russians may leave Estonia next year. Dzintra Bungs BALTIC TRANSPORTATION MINISTERS DEFINE TRAFFIC CORRIDORS. On 2 December the transportation ministers of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania signed a document in Tallinn defining the key traffic corridors in each country. The north-south corridor links eastern and central Europe with northern Europe, while the east-west corridor connects Russia and the CIS countries with Baltic ports. Dzintra Bungs LITHUANIA INVESTIGATES MAZEIKIAI OIL SPILL. Lithuanian officials believe that the oil spill at the Mazeikiai oil refinery last week may have been prompted by frequent stoppages, caused by erratic oil deliveries over the past year. On 22 November some 400-500 tons of oil reportedly leaked into the ground from a pipe at the refinery, in what appears to be the largest spill in Mazeikiai since it was commissioned in the 1950s. The polluted soil is to be removed this week and cleaned, BNS reported on 30 November. The Latvian authorities criticized Lithuania's failure to inform them promptly of the oil spill, as well as of a fire on 23 November at a warehouse near Rokiskiai that caused heavy atmospheric pollution from toxic chemicals. A spokeswoman for Latvia's Hydro-meteorological Administration told Diena on 25 November that, in accordance with international conventions, Lithuania should have informed Latvia without delay of the two accidents. She also noted that experts had estimated the Mazeikiai oil spill at some 20,000 tons--a much higher figure than the official one. Dzintra Bungs BELARUSIAN CONSTITUTION STILL DEBATED. There does not appear to be any end in sight on the adoption of a new constitution for Belarus, Belinform reported on 2 December. The parliament continues to debate the draft constitution. To date, out of 152 arti-cles, 88 have been fully accepted, 13 have been partially accepted, and 51 rejected. The main stumbling point has been agreement among deputies as to what kind of powers the executive should have. Currently, because parliament must confirm any decrees the government proposes, the government has been hindered in its attempts to institute any type of reform in the country. As a result, a number of deputies have been arguing for the establishment of a presidency with executive powers. Belarus is still following the old Soviet constitution. Ustina Markus UKRAINE CUTS GAS SUPPLIES TO ENTERPRISES. Ukraine's state oil and gas committee has instructed local administrations to reduce supplies of natural gas to industrial enterprises, Interfax reported on 2 December. Public institutions and homes are to continue receiving gas at current levels, but chemical plants will face reductions of 25%, metallurgical works 30%, and some enterprises will even have to cope with 90% reductions. It is not known how long the curbs will last. The measure was prompted by Russia's reduction of gas supplies to Ukraine because of its failure to pay for previous deliveries. Ustina Markus [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Roman Solchanyk and Dan Ionescu 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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