|The only certainty is that nothing is certain. - Pliny the Elder|
No. 237, 13 December 1993
RUSSIA PRELIMINARY RESULTS OF PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS. Official overall preliminary results had been promised by 1100 hrs, Moscow time on 13-December. However, by 1400 hrs, these had not been made public. Nikolai Medvedev, President Boris Yeltsin's assistant in charge of Russia's territories, told Reuters that the Liberal Democratic Party had gained 26% of the vote, compared with 13% for the Communists, and 12% for Russia's Choice in 6 large regions. Reformist parties had won only 23% of the vote in these regions, compared with 47% for opposition parties. The regions were Magadan, Sakhalin, Amur, Tomsk, Kursk, and Smolensk. Keith Bush PRELIMINARY RESULTS IN MOSCOW. With over half the votes cast in Moscow's central constituency, the results show a lead for the Russia's Choice bloc, with 37%. Its nearest rival is the Communist Party with 12.6%, closely followed by the Yavlinsky-Boldyrev-Lukin bloc with 11.7%. In fourth place is Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party with 10.6%, and the Movement for Democratic Reforms has gained 7%. Other blocs appear to have failed to overcome the 5% hurdle needed to gain seats in the legislature. Almost 70% of voters supported the constitution and 30% voted against in this constituency, according to Interfax on 13 December. -Wendy Slater CONSTITUTION APPROVED BY A NARROW MAJORITY. According to the preliminary results released by CNN, news agencies and Russian Television's "Vesti" newscast, 51 % of those eligible to vote went to the polls to take part in the referendum on the new Russian constitution. The electoral commission later reported that 52% of those who voted had approved. Such a result, if confirmed, could provoke the new parliament to question the legitimacy of the new constitution. The Russian Law on the Referendum, adopted in December 1990 and signed by Boris Yeltsin in his capacity at that time of chairman of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet, required no less then 50 % of all eligible voters + one vote to approve any constitutional question. Yeltsin has since changed this rule by a decree which states that a simple majority of "yes" votes would be enough to approve the new constitution. It might be noted that Zhirinovsky has spoken out in support of the new constitution. -Julia Wishnevsky TELEVISION COVERAGE OF ELECTIONS. Russian Television broadcast all night on 12-13 December, featuring newscasts every hour and interviews with prominent Russian politicians and cultural figures. Ostankino TV had promised to broadcast a show entitled "The New Political Year" giving the elections results of all 11 time zones of the Russian Federation immediately when they became available to the Central Election Commission. It was also announced that the show would last from 2300 hrs on 12 December until 0600 hrs the following morning. In the event, it stopped at around 0330 hrs on Monday morning. The official explanation was that the computer had been infected with a virus and was unable to supply the results. Some observers felt that the program presenters had been dismayed by the gains registered by Zhirinovsky's party. -Julia Wishnevsky RUSSIA'S CHOICE CRITICIZES ZHIRINOVSKY. On 10 December, on the eve of the elections, Russia's Choice issued a statement saying ultra-nationalist leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky had become a real threat to Russia's existence, Russian Television reported. A statement said the time had passed when Zhirinovsky could be seen as a "harmless clown." The statement came after Zhirinovksy's last pre-election TV appearance on 9-December, in which he called for harsh measures to eliminate criminal elements in Russia and said former Soviet republics could be returned to Moscow's influence by way of economic sanctions. After Zhirinovsky had done astonishingly well in the elections, Western agencies quoted the leader of Russia's Choice, Egor Gaidar, as saying "we are prepared to cooperate with all constructive forces, but it is not likely that we shall cooperate with fascists." -Vera Tolz PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESMAN ON COOPERATION WITH NATIONALISTS, COMMUNISTS. President Yeltsin's spokesman, Vyacheslav Kostikov, said he "could not rule out" government cooperation with the Communist Party and Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal-Democratic Party. Reuters and Interfax quoted him as saying on 13 December that such cooperation would be possible if members of those parties avoided demagoguery and regarded themselves as serious politicians. Kostikov added that if the communists were to evolve into social democrats, they could become "serious partners" of the government and president. Vera Tolz COMMUNISTS ARE NOT SURE OF ALLIANCE WITH NATIONALISTS. Even the Russian Communist Party expressed concern over the reported victory of Vladimir Zhirinovsky's LDP in a number of Russia's regions. In an interview with the Russian Information Agency on 13-December, the leader of the Communists, Gennadii Zyuganov, played down the idea of a nationalist-communist alliance in the new parliament, saying "we have no common ground with those who seek Russia's expansion to the boundaries of the former Soviet Union. We are realists in our policies." Vera Tolz ZHIRINOVSKY INSPIRED BY HIS VICTORY. Talking to reporters after the preliminary results of the elections had been announced, Vladimir Zhirinovsky said that his party would attempt to name its own prime minister and would seek to oust Egor Gaidar, Andrei Kozyrev, Sergei Shakhrai, and Anatolii Chubais, The Washington Post and Interfax reported on 13-December. In fact, according to the new constitution, which was approved on 12-December, it is up to the president to appoint a prime minister. The president can also dissolve the parliament if it repeatedly rejects his choice for prime minister. Vera Tolz and Elizabeth Teague DEMOCRATS BLAME EACH OTHER FOR POOR SHOWING. As the first election results showed the Liberal Democrats in a strong position, Gennadii Burbulis turned on the Russian president, whose closest aide Burbulis once was. Burbulis was reported by Western agencies as saying Yeltsin made "a serious mistake" by standing aloof from the election campaign. He said Yeltsin had grown "too fond" of his role as charismatic leader. Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais told ITAR-TASS that the whole democratic camp was to blame since, by refusing to cooperate with one another, reformist parties had split the vote. Elizabeth Teague ELECTIONS AND REFERENDUM BOYCOTTED IN TATARSTAN. Only 13.8 percent of the electorate turned out to vote in Tatarstan where nationalist parties had called for a boycott and President Mintimer Shaimiev had spoken strongly against the draft constitution, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 December citing preliminary figures from the president's administration. In none of the republic's five constituencies for the State Duma did the turnout reach the 25 percent necessary to validate the elections, let alone the referendum. In 15 of the 21-republics, however, the turnout was over 50 percent. In Komi, Khakassia, Udmurtia, and Ingushetia the turnout ranged from 46 to 42 percent, that is less than required to validate the referendum on the constitution. In Chechnya the elections were not held at all. In Bashkortostan the speaker Murtaza Rakhimov, who had also strongly criticized the draft constitution, was elected president with about 66 percent of the votes. -Ann Sheehy HIGHER SOCIAL BENEFITS DECREED. One day before the general elections, on 11-December, President Yeltsin signed a decree on higher transfer payments for families with children, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. Effective 1 January, the monthly allowance will be equal to 70% of the minimum wage for children under 6 and 60% for children between 6-and 16. These rates will be 50% higher for children of single mothers and of men on compulsory military service. A monthly allowance equal to the minimum wage will be payable to working and studying mothers of children under 18-months of age. First Deputy Prime Minister Egor Gaidar announced that further welfare increases will be decreed soon to cover pensions and housing subsidies. He denied on Ostankino TV that the substance or the timing had anything to do with the elections. The decrees must be confirmed by the forthcoming federal assembly. -Keith Bush FURTHER SUBSIDY FOR THE AGRO-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX. President Yeltsin has ordered First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets to allocate 140 billion rubles in cheap credits for the agricultural machine-building industry, Interfax reported on 10 December. The credit will bear an annual interest rate of 25%, compared with the current discount rate of 210%. Output in this branch has reportedly dropped by 35% so far this year, owing mainly to arrears in payments. -Keith Bush FORGERY ALLEGED IN RUTSKOI AFFAIR. The 9-December issue of "Vesti" cited the office of the Moscow Prosecutor as stating that Andrei Makarov, former head of a presidential anti-corruption team, had persistently ignored its summons to attend the investigation of corruption among Russia's highest officials. At a news conference held on 18 August 1993 Makarov had displayed the copy of a Swiss bank account allegedly bearing the signature of Vice-President Aleksandr Rutskoi and purportedly incriminating him of financial skulduggery. Komsomolskaya pravda on 3-December and Nezavisimaya gazeta on 4 December revealed that the Swiss authorities have provided the Moscow investigators with the original of the bank account in question. This is claimed to prove that Rutskoi's signature, displayed by Makarov at the news conference, was a forgery. Julia Wishnevsky RUSSIAN-ITALIAN AGREEMENT ON CREDITS AND GAS DELIVERIES. According to Interfax of 9 December, a memorandum of understanding was signed in Rome on 6 December between Gasprom and the ENI consortium. This is said to provide for Italian credits amounting to $1.66 billion to finance the supply of gas equipment and pipelines in return for an increase in annual Russian gas deliveries to Italy of 5.5 billion cubic meters a year through the year 2007 beyond the current annual supply of about 15.3 billion cubic meters. Italy will then become Russia's principal customer for natural gas. Keith Bush TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA GORE VISIT TO KYRGYZSTAN, KAZAKHSTAN. US Vice President Al Gore had to change the order of stops on his trip to Central Asia, Western and Russian news agencies reported on 12-December. Fog at Almaty prevented the landing of Gore's plane in the Kazakhstani capital, and the party was diverted to Bishkek a day ahead of schedule. Gore was met at the airport by Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev, who asked for US technical and educational assistance. In Almaty, Gore was to sign an agreement on providing US help in the destruction of nuclear weaponry. -Bess Brown CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER DEAD. Hungarian Prime Minister Jozsef Antall (61) died in a Budapest hospital on 12 December as a result of complications following his operation for non-Hodgkin-lymphoma in Cologne this October, Hungarian and foreign media report. The current government's mandate ended with Antall's death. President Arpad Goncz commissioned Interior Minister Peter Boross, who had substituted for Antall during his illness, to continue operating an interim government until parliament gives a new government its mandate. The interim government has reduced powers and cannot issue decrees or sign agreements. Under the constitution, if parliament fails to appoint a new government within 40 days, elections must be called at a date set by the president of the republic. President Goncz will meet on 13 December with the chairmen of the parliamentary parties to discuss the crisis situation. Goncz will nominate a new prime minister who must be approved by a majority in the parliament. Antall's official replacement in the ruling Hungarian Democratic Forum (HDF) during his illness was Executive Chairman Sandor Lezsak. Lezsak called for a meeting of HDF leaders on 13 December to select a prime minister candidate. Antall's replacement as HDF chairman will not be discussed until February next year. -Judith Pataki BOSNIA UPDATE. Western media report on 13 December that Serb forces attacked two UN convoys as they attempted to bring humanitarian aid to the Muslim enclave of Tuzla, situated in northeastern Bosnia. According to accounts of the incident, no injuries or fatalities were reported. In other developments, Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has threatened to annihilate Muslim forces should they attack Serb-held positions around Sarajevo. According to Tanjug, Karadzic has vowed to bring about the "complete military defeat" of Muslim troops should they move against Serb positions. Meanwhile, on 11 December Western agencies reported that European Community foreign ministers are hoping to re-open peace talks with representatives of the "three warring Bosnian factions." On 11 December Reuters reports that EC officials have extended an invitation to leaders in Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia-Hercegovina to resume talks with EC foreign ministers on 22 December. -Stan Markotich HAVEL CRITICIZES OWEN PLAN. In his regular weekly address on Czech Radio on 12-December, Czech President Vaclav Havel criticized plans to create a "Muslim mini state" in Bosnia. The plan was explained to Havel by international peace negotiator Lord Owen during his visit to Prague on 8 December. Owen said that the division of Bosnia-Herzegovina into three ethnic republics "appears to be definite." In his radio address, Havel said that he disagrees with Lord Owen, arguing that the creation of a Muslim mini state is a solution "without a future." According to Havel, such a solution would amount to the confirmation of the idea of the state based on ethnicity rather than on "the fundamental European values of civil society." Should the principle of civil society be sacrificed to the idea of ethnic state, "one of the basic principles on which a united Europe should be based will be undermined." Havel argued that the creation of three nationalistic ethnic states in Bosnia will not solve the problem of minorities, as is often argued, but will exacerbate it. -Jiri Pehe POLLING IN THE SELF-PROCLAIMED REPUBLIC OF SERBIAN KRAJINA. According to international media, Serbian voters went to the polls in the self-proclaimed Republic of Serbian Krajina (RSK) on 12-December. The RSK was formed in 1991 out of Croatian territory when rebel Serbs, utterly opposed to the notion of Croatian independence, occupied roughly a third of Croatia's territory. According to Politika of 12-December, about 317, 000 voters will be eligible to elect representatives to an 84-member parliament as well as a president. AFP quotes Milan Babic, a presidential candidate, as remarking that "These are not regular elections but a referendum on sovereignty." Many, if not all the candidates running in the election, are on record as being opposed to the idea of having the RSK remain a part of Croatia and are seeking international recognition for an independent RSK. In Zagreb, where the elections have been denounced as illegal, the lands that make up Krajina are seen as an integral part of an independent Croatia and efforts to have the RSK recognized by the international community are viewed as the first step in a process which could ultimately unite the RSK with the rump Yugoslavia. The RSK is not recognized by the international community and is currently under UN protection. Election results are not expected for at least several days. -Stan Markotich 4,000 CROATS RESETTLED FROM KOSOVO TO WESTERN SLAVONIA. The Croatian Roman Catholic Church's St. Isodore Foundation has settled 4,000 Croats from the community of Letnice in the Serbian province of Kosovo to empty Serbian houses in Western Slavonia in the Republic of Croatia, Globus reported on 3 December. The paper says that the move started about one year ago and was launched by President Franjo Tudman and Professor Ivan Aralic. About 500 people are left in Letnice and almost all are elderly. The Croats from Kosovo allegedly speak the "Croatian language with a Macedonian dialect." Globus said that some of the old people now in Slavonia have trouble understanding standard Croatian, and some have consequently been pejoratively dubbed "Siptari", which means Albanians. So far just 837 of the 4,000 have received the basic residency papers necessary to get Croatian citizenship. -Fabian Schmidt CZECH COALITION PARTY ELECTS NEW CHAIRMAN. The congress of the Christian Democratic Party-one of the four Czech government coalition parties-elected Ivan Pilip as new chairman of the party. Before his election, Pilip, the deputy minister of education, was the chairman of the CDP Political Council. He replaces Vaclav Benda, a former dissident and the founder of the party. Benda was elected a vice-chairman of the party. -Jiri Pehe CONTROVERSY OVER SLOVAK BUDGET PROPOSAL. Various groups have criticized the 1994 budget proposal, which was approved by the Slovak cabinet on 2 December. The budget, which plans for expenditures of 140 billion koruny and a deficit of 14-billion koruny (assuming annual inflation of 12%, maximum unemployment of 17% and 0% growth in GNP), plans for cuts in all ministries except defense. In an 11 December press conference Party of the Democratic Left Chairman Peter Weiss said his party will not support the budget proposal. On 9 December the proposal was rejected by the parliamentary committee on health and social affairs, while the agricultural committee rejected the budget on 10 December. Both committees complained that budget allocations were insufficient. On 9 December the Conference of University Rectors asked parliamentary deputies not to pass the budget proposal, which provides for expenditures on education and science which are only 63.7% of those in 1992. Meanwhile, other groups questioned Slovakia's ability to meet the budget's macroeconomic assumptions. On 9-December the Slovak Confederation of Trade Unions called the 12% inflation rate "unrealistic," while Rudolf Filkus, deputy chairman of the opposition Alliance of Democrats, questioned Slovakia's ability to reach zero GNP growth, in light of the 5% drop expected in 1993, TASR reports. -Sharon Fisher MECIAR ON ECONOMY, DECENTRALIZATION. In a 10 December meeting with citizens in the Slovak town of Trebisov, Premier Vladimir Meciar said his government is now preparing a 10% surtax on imported goods on the condition that domestic producers will not increase prices, TASR reports. He denied rumors that the Slovak koruna will soon be devalued by 20%, saying the currency is stable. He also said that next year the state administration will be reorganized into eight new territorial divisions with centers in Kosice, Presov, Zilina, Banska Bystrica, Nitra, Trnava, Trencin and Bratislava; each will have a regional parliament and government. Meciar rejected the creation of regions on ethnic principles, which he described as "nonfunctional." -Sharon Fisher POLISH BROADCASTING CONTROVERSY CONTINUES. The three members of the National Broadcasting Council appointed by President Lech Walesa told a press conference on 9-December that they will not resign, despite the president's abrupt "withdrawal of support" for them the previous day. The other six members, appointed by the Sejm and Senate, expressed their solidarity with the three presidential appointees. Council chairman Marek Markiewicz disputed Walesa's claim that the council had failed to consult him on important decisions. He said the council had requested meetings with the president more than a dozen times, but these requests were rejected or ignored. Markiewicz said the council will continue working as normal and await a formal assessment of its performance in the form stipulated by law. The broadcasting law requires the council to submit an annual report to the Sejm, Senate, and president; if the Sejm and Senate reject it, the president can chose to dissolve the council. -Louisa Vinton POLISH GOVERNMENT FACES REVOLT BY OWN DEPUTIES. The special Sejm commission set up to consider the legislation comprising the "pact on state firms" voted unanimously on 10 December to abolish the tax on excess wages (popiwek) as of 1 January 1994. The tax, long vilified by unionists, is designed to fight inflation and prevent wage-driven bankruptcies by limiting wage increases in excess of inflation that are not backed up by higher profits. The commission's decision was made over vehement objections from the government, which has proposed the gradual replacement of the tax beginning in April 1994. Finance Minister Marek Borowski warned in vain that the sudden abolition of the popiwek could cause inflation to spiral out of control. He vowed to block passage of the bill in the Sejm. Gazeta Wyborcza quoted a deputy finance minister in the Suchocka government as commenting that she had "not believed that the destruction of the economy would take place so quickly." -Louisa Vinton POLISH SEJM VOTES PENSION, WAGE INCREASES. The Sejm voted on 10 December to increase monthly wages for teachers, health care workers, and other public sector employees by an average of 340,000 zloty ($18) in January, with a second, comparable increase scheduled for June 1994. Public sector wages are to keep pace with the rate of increase in industrial wages and outpace inflation by 2%, the Sejm ruled. The Sejm also voted to increase minimum pensions from 35 to 39% of the average wage; 1.2 million pensioners will benefit from the hike, at a cost to the budget of 5.8-trillion zloty ($290 million). A promised increase in the indexing rate for remaining pensions-from 91% to 93% of the average wage-was postponed until at least September 1994. Trade unionists from the ruling Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) pressed unsuccessfully for even higher increases, underlining the split between "liberals" and "socialists" that has opened in the SLD caucus since the new government took power. -Louisa Vinton REACTIONS TO SENTENCING OF ILIASCU. Nikolai Medvedev of the Russian president's administration, who has been acting as mediator in talks between Kishinev and the self-styled Dniester republic, told Interfax on 12 December that Russia would demand that Ilie Iliascu, sentenced to be shot by a Tiraspol court on 9 December, be handed over to the Moldovan authorities. The Russian human rights organization Memorial appealed to the Transdniestrian authorities not to carry out the sentence which it described as a "sanction to a political assignation," Interfax reported on 11 December. -Ann Sheehy ROMANIANS PROTEST SENTENCES OF SIX MOLDOVANS. A wave of protests against the sentencing of six ethnic Romanians in Moldova's separatist Dniestr region has been sweeping Romania since 9-December. The parliament, President Ion Iliescu, and the government protested and appealed to international organizations and to world leaders to stop the carrying out of the sentences. Parties and trade unions have also voiced protests. The Fratia trade union confederation asked labor organizations to stop producing goods for Russian markets and not to handle freight bound for Russia. There are ongoing demonstrations in front of the Russian embassy in Bucharest. In a statement released to the press, the Russian embassy said the demonstrations were unjustified, since the Russian authorities have done all they could to influence authorities in the would be Dniester republic and that efforts in this sense are continuing. The embassy's statement was indirectly rebuked by presidential spokesman Train Chebeleu, who said on 10 December that only the Russian "political and military authorities, which control the regime of the so-called Moldovan Dniestr Republic," bear responsibility, as do the Russian troops in the region. On 11 December the Romanian ambassador in Moscow was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and told that the demonstrations outside the embassy in Bucharest posed a threat to Russian diplomats and their families. Moscow expected "urgent and efficient measures" to ensure the safety of the Russian personnel in Bucharest. In a communique released on 12 December, the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said all necessary measures have been taken to ensure the security of the Russian embassy personnel. -Michael Shafir PRESIDENT ILIESCU ATTACKS TRADE UNIONS. In a statement released on 10 December by presidential spokesman Train Chebeleu, President Ion Iliescu harshly criticized the recent anti-government protest demonstrations organized by the trade unions. The president said the protests had a pronounced political character, having called for the dismissal of the government, "inciting to anarchy, disorder and a state of conflict." He also rejected any parallel between the mood of the population before Ceausescu's overthrow and the present situation when, he said, protests can be democratically expressed. In response, the Alfa trade union confederation called the presidential statement "gratuitous" and said that in a genuine state ruled by the rule of the law nobody is entitled to "give indications as to how protests are to be publicly expressed." -Michael Shafir HOMELAND UNION CONGRESS IN LITHUANIA. On 11-12 December the Homeland Union (Conservatives of Lithuania) held its first Congress, the RFE/RL Lithuanian Service reports. Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis and board chairman Gediminas Vagnorius, who had been elected at the Homeland Union's founding meeting on 1 May, retained their posts. The Congress approved a party program that will be issued after the board makes some modifications that were recommended and passed a number of resolutions. The program calls for the moral rebirth of Lithuania, stressing the role of private initiative, and criticizes the current leadership for trying to form too close relations with Russia. The union currently has about 12,000 members and is the largest right-of-center party in Lithuania. -Saulius Girnius ESTONIA ADOPTS INCOME TAX LAW. On 8 December the Estonian parliament by a vote of 51 to 12 with 4 abstentions passed an income tax law for 1994, BNS reported on 9 December. The income tax rate of 26% for both individuals and corporate bodies is the lowest in Central and Western Europe. The first 3,600 kroons (450 DM) is exempt from taxation. The income tax rate for non-residents from services, royalties, and patents gained in Estonia is 15%, while the tax on interest earned in Estonia is 10%. -Saulius Girnius HIGH NOVEMBER INFLATION IN LATVIA. The State Committee for Statistics announced that inflation in November was 8.8%, BNS reported on 10 December. This is more than double the 3.8% rate in October and exceeds the previous monthly high in 1993 of 4.2% in January. Prices for food increased 11.6%, for services and hygiene goods - 9%, for education and recreation-8.1%, for clothes and footwear-7.6%, and for utilities-5.3%. -Saulius Girnius [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Keith Bush and Edith Oltay 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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