When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years. - Mark Twain
RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 245, 23 December 1993







RUSSIA

YELTSIN'S PRESS CONFERENCE. President Boris Yeltsin said at a
press conference on 22-December, carried live on Russian TV,
that he interprets the results of the parliamentary elections
as a sign that the people, no matter for which political leaders
they voted, want Russia to have a strong, powerful government
which would establish law and order in the country, ITAR-TASS
reported. He stated that he interprets the vote in favor of the
constitution as a new mandate for him to strengthen his powers.
Yeltsin criticized the democrats for their splits and personal
ambitions, and expressed the hope that radicals and populists
would tone down their slogans and promises given during the electoral
campaign. He said that no early presidential elections would
be held and he would serve until his term expires in June 1996.
Yeltsin also announced his intention to create a presidential
party. -Alexander Rahr

YELTSIN ON ZHIRINOVSKY. While Yeltsin did not attack Vladimir
Zhirinovsky by name in his statement presented at the press conference,
he did note that during the electoral campaign "wide use was
made of demagoguery, the preaching of primitive nationalism,
outright lies and even dangerous provocations. Unfortunately,
a substantial part of the electorate is still too trusting in
regard to reckless promises." In response to a question from
Radio Mayak, however, Yeltsin observed that, "You see, we have
heard Zhirinovsky's words so far, what he has said during the
election campaign. Let us wait for his and his party's deeds,
their deeds in parliament, and only after that will we draw conclusions
on how to cooperate with him. If he starts a constructive dialogue
and works for the benefit of the country and the people who has
elected him, then naturally we will cooperate and interact."
Yeltsin also noted that he, not Zhirinovsky, would determine
Russian foreign policy. -John Lepingwell

GOVERNMENT TO SHRINK. Both the number of ministerial portfolios
and the number of government bureaucrats are to be significantly
reduced, according to Yeltsin's press conference remarks. No
specifics were given, but Yeltsin said that Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin would be drawing up proposals for the reorganization
with a week to 10 days. -John Lepingwell

SECURITY MINISTRY DENOUNCED. Referring to his decree dissolving
the Ministry of Security and creating a new security service,
Yeltsin denounced the old ministry, calling it the "last bulwark
of the former Soviet totalitarian system," and insisted that
it was to be "disbanded, not reorganized." He implied that only
its counterintelligence functions would remain. -John Lepingwell


GAIDAR STAYING? ASKED TO COMMENT ON A POSSIBLE CHANGE IN THE
PACE AND DIRECTION OF REFORMS, AND WHETHER EGOR GAIDAR WOULD
REMAIN IN HIS POSITION, YELTSIN RESPONDED, "GAIDAR STAYS. So
does the policy which he is pursuing." Nevertheless, other comments
made during the press conference suggested that there could be
a slowing of the pace of reforms. -John Lepingwell

YELTSIN ON MILITARY VOTE. In response to a question at his press
conference, Yeltsin noted that "one third" of the military had
voted in favor of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and that
"We are worried about this and appropriate measures have been
taken." His statement is puzzling, for most reports indicate
that military personnel voted at polling stations together with
civilians, so that there is no way of getting a vote count for
the military as a whole. Nevertheless, the Ministry of Defense
has claimed that 95% of the military voted, and that 75% of them
supported the constitution. How these figures were derived is
thus a mystery. Furthermore, in the 21-December edition of Sovetskaya
Rossiya, an article cites statistics published in Moscow Times
claiming that the Strategic Rocket Forces voted 72% for the LDP,
while in the Moscow military district the LDP carried 46% of
the military vote, with even higher proportions in the key Taman
and Kantemir Guards divisions. Again, however, the origin and
veracity of these figures is doubtful. -John Lepingwell

SHUMEIKO SAYS NEW MEDIA BODIES PROPOSED. Russian First Deputy
Prime Minister and acting Information Minister Vladimir Shumeiko
said President Yeltsin was currently considering signing decrees
stipulating the creation of three new bodies to supervise the
Russian media. Shumeiko told ITARTASS on 22-December that draft
decrees submitted to Yeltsin envisage the creation of a mass
media department at the office of the president, a federal radio
and television service, and a press committee that would replace
both the Information Ministry and the Federal Information Center.
Shumeiko said that Aleksandr Yakovlev, who was recently appointed
to head the Ostankino TV company, had been nominated to head
the radio and television service, whereas Boris Mironov, director
of the "Rossiya" publishing house, had been nominated to head
the press committee. The proposal to create the committees follows
the president's criticism of the performance of the media during
the election campaign. -Vera Tolz

SHUMEIKO HOPES TO BECOME SPEAKER OF COUNCIL OF FEDERATION. Shumeiko
said at a press conference on 22 December that he would like
to become the chairman of the upper parliamentary chamber, the
Council of the Federation, if President Boris Yeltsin supports
his candidacy, ITAR-TASS reported. Shumeiko stated that 67% of
the newly elected deputies to the Council of the Federation are
local politicians who already have real power and that 20% of
the other deputies are professionals directly involved in industry
and production. He said that the time of "pioneers" in conducting
reform has passed and that the new government should be not a
coalition cabinet, but rather should consist only of professionals.
-Alexander Rahr

ZHIRINOVSKY SPEAKS OF RUSSIAN SECRET WEAPON. Russian ultra-nationalist
leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky was quoted by Western agencies as
saying at a news conference on 22-December in Reichenfals (Austria)
that Russia possesses secret weapons which are far more dangerous
than nuclear war heads. There is no evidence to support Zhirinovsky's
odd claim, nor is it clear why even more destructive weapons
might be needed. Zhirinovsky also said that "certain Western
circles" wanted to provoke civil war in Russia. He added that
if there was a civil war in Russia, its chemical and nuclear
weapons could get out of central control. Zhirinovsky is staying
in Austria with a former Waffen-SS officer, and is apparently
to meet with representatives of Austrian and German right-wing
organizations. The same day, Zhirinovsky canceled a live interview
with the German RTL private TV station. No reason was given for
the cancellation. -Vera Tolz

RUSSIAN OFFICER SENTENCED FOR ESPIONAGE. An officer of the GRU
(Main Intelligence Directorate) of the Russian military has been
convicted of treason and sentenced to six years of hard labor
for spying on behalf of the US, Reuters reported on 20 December.
Vyacheslav Baranov, apparently started working for the US in
the late 1980s. According to Reuters the sentence cannot be appealed.
-John Lepingwell

IMF DEFENDS ITS POLICIES. The IMF has come under increased pressure
to ease its conditions for approving credit to Russia in the
wake of the success of the extreme right in elections there and
recent criticism of Fund policies by high-level US government
officials. However, Ernesto Hernandez-Cata, a Fund deputy director,
has asserted that the IMF was not considering a change in its
conditions, Western news agencies reported on 22 December. "We
will move as rapidly as we can, but if it means signing off on
a bad program that will make things worse, that we will not do,"
he said. Hernandez-Cata also defended Fund policy against accusations
that it paid little attention to social needs citing its past
and continuing advise to the Russian government on improving
its social safety net. -Erik Whitlock

JAPAN TO ASSIST WITH RADIOACTIVE WASTE? WESTERN PRESS AGENCIES
AND INTERFAX REPORTED ON 22-DECEMBER THAT THE JAPANESE GOVERNMENT
HAS OFFERED TO PROVIDE RUSSIA WITH AN ADDITIONAL TANKER IN WHICH
TO STORE LIQUID RADIOACTIVE WASTE SO THAT IT WILL NOT BE DUMPED
IN THE SEA OF JAPAN. The move is apparently an interim one until
a more permanent solution can be found. Russian reports have
indicated that the Ministry of Defense is running out of storage
space and wants to resume dumping in order to free space for
new waste. -John Lepingwell

CIS

CIS DEFENSE MINISTERS MEET IN ASHGABAT. The CIS defense ministers,
meeting in Ashgabat on 22-December, decided to formally transform
the CIS Joint Military Command into the CIS Joint Staff Committee,
according to Interfax and Reuters. The new body will be smaller
and will execute coordinating tasks assigned to it by the Council
of CIS Defense Ministers. The new body, which was informally
created in June 1993, will continue to be headed by Colonel General
Viktor Samsonov. -John Lepingwell

DIVISION IN UKRAINE OVER COOPERATION WITH CIS MILITARY BODIES.
According to ITAR-TASS of 22 December, the new Ukrainian Minister
of Defense, Vitalii Radetsky, told the heads of CIS defense ministries
that Ukraine is now prepared to contribute to the work of the
Council of Defense Ministers, and plans to have permanent representatives
at the headquarters of the CIS joint forces. According to the
report, Radetsky said that Ukraine is now interested in promoting
close cooperation with other CIS states and is ready to conduct
a constructive dialogue with the Russian defense ministry and
other CIS states to resolve the issues of the Black Sea Fleet
and nuclear armaments. This would mean a revision of Ukraine's
attitude towards CIS military bodies and the statement was criticized
by a number of Ukrainian deputies. Interfax reported on 22 December
that Radetsky's comments came as a surprise to Ukrainian parliamentarians.
Serhii Semenets, a member of the Ukrainian parliament's defense
and security commission, said Radetsky's statements reflected
only the defense minister's own opinion , and that the minister
did not "dictate Ukraine's military policy." The deputy chairman
of the commission, Oleksandr Tarasenko, noted that Radetsky had
not intended to make any statements before leaving for the Ashgabat
meeting. -Ustina Markus

CIS REPRESENTATIVES TO MEET. Full members and nations holding
observer status in the Commonwealth of Independent States will
be meeting in Ashgabat on 24 December to discuss and sign agreements
on a number of economic and political issues. Among the items
on the agenda, Interfax of 22 December reports, are the application
of various articles of the treaty on Economic Union (signed in
September) before its ratification by the signatories' national
parliaments, agreements on transnational investments and joint
investment projects, coordination of anti-monopoly policy, a
treaty on minority rights, cooperation and confidence-building
measures in intra-CIS relations, and various issues related to
the operation of CIS multilateral agencies. -Erik Whitlock

PYANKOV: NO NEED FOR REINFORCEMENTS. Russian General Boris Pyankov,
commander of CIS peacekeeping forces in Tajikistan, said on 22
December that further reinforcements for that operation were
not needed. At the same time, Pyankov said that earlier CIS resolutions
on Tajikistan have yet to be implemented, including the dispatch
of peacekeeping contingents from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and
Uzbekistan. In addition, the question of funding Russia's contingents
there has yet to be resolved. There has been discussion of putting
Russia's troops in Tajikistan under the control of the UN or
CSCE, but the United States raised questions about Russia's ability
to remain neutral as a peacekeeping force, Pyankov said. In addition,
the fact that Russia's peacekeeping contingents are also guarding
Tajikistan's border also raises obstacles to putting the force
under control of the CSCE or UN, Interfax reported. -Suzanne
Crow

STRATEGIC MISSILES WITHDRAWN FROM BELARUS. The Belarusian defense
ministry said on 22-December that 27 of its 81 strategic SS-25
missiles have been withdrawn to Russia, AFP reported. These were
withdrawn from the Postavi division in the northern part of the
republic (this may be the Lida site listed in the START-1 treaty).
The remaining 54 missiles are based with two other divisions
and must be withdrawn by the end of 1996 in accordance with bilateral
agreements between Russia and Belarus. According to an Izvestiya
report of November 1992, some of the SS25 missiles being withdrawn
from Belarus will be restationed at a base in the Valdai region
of Russia, rather than dismantled -Ustina Markus

RUSSIA TO PROPOSE LEASE FOR BAIKONUR. Interfax reported on 22
December that a Russian delegation is to travel to Almaty to
propose a long-term Russian lease for the Baikonur space launch
center. The delegation will be headed by Yurii Koptev, General
Director of the Russian Space Agency, who will be presenting
for discussion a draft agreement and memorandum approved by the
Russian government. While the center has remained operational
since the collapse of the USSR, conditions there are deteriorating
and tensions over its disposition are growing. One difficulty
has been that Russia wants to continue military launches and
space support operations there, whereas Kazakhstan's constitution
forbids the stationing of foreign troops on its territory. -John
Lepingwell

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE



SOCIALIST PARTY OF SERBIA FALLS JUST SHORT OF MAJORITY. According
to official election results announced by election commission
officials on 22-December, the ruling Socialist Party of Serbia
fell just short of a parliamentary majority in elections held
on 19-December. On 22 December Politika reports that the SPS
has won 123 seats in the Serbian parliament, while the main opposition
coalition Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DEPOS) has garnered
45 seats. The Serbian Radical Party, led by the ultra-nationalist
Vojislav Seselj, has won 39 seats, while the Democratic Party,
led by Zoran Djindjic, has received 29-seats. According to Reuters,
voting irregularities will force new elections, to be held as
early as next week, at about 50-polling stations. The new voting
is not likely to change the seat distribution in parliament,
since the total number of ballots affected represents no more
than 0.5% of the total number cast. Disagreements between the
various parties may cause haggling and force delays in the formation
of a government. At present, it does not seem that the opposition
parties will be able to unite to force the Socialists out of
power. Politika quotes Djindjic as remarking that "there is no
possibility of the opposition forming a government that can function."
-Stan Markotich

TRUCE REACHED IN BOSNIA, BUT FIGHTING CONTINUES. According to
international media, representatives from the three warring factions
in Bosnia and European Community foreign ministers emerged from
meetings in Brussels on 22 December and reported that a truce
in the fighting had been negotiated. AFP notes that the truce
is to extend over the Christmas season, and includes a promise
from the Bosnian Serb side to refrain from bombing Sarajevo during
the holiday period. Nevertheless, the worst fighting in Bosnia
in months was reported on the day the truce was reached. According
to Reuters, only hours after the truce was negotiated news that
68 people in Bosnia had been killed began circulating. Conference
participants do not appear to be close to reaching any agreement
on such issues as territories that will be assigned to Bosnia's
ethnic Croat, Serb, and Muslim groups. -Stan Markotich

BULGARIA TO HAVE TRANSIT RIGHTS THROUGH SERBIA. According to
Reuters on 22-December, Marin Todorov, an official with Bulgaria's
sanctions commission, has stated that the UN will permit 15 Bulgarian
trucks per day to pass through Serbian territory. The trucks
will be transporting mainly agricultural and medical products,
and will be heading for destinations in Western Europe. The first
trucks to pass through Serbia should travel sometime in January
1994. Rump Yugoslavia is under UN sanctions for its role in fomenting
the war in Bosnia. Bulgaria has pledged to continue to honor
the UN embargo when trucks begin their passage through Serbia;
all vehicles will be monitored while on rump Yugoslav territory.
-Stan Markotich

BOROSS ENDORSES CONTINUITY AND STABILITY. Hungary's new Prime
Minister Peter Boross told an international press conference
on 22 December that "continuity, stability, and progress" were
the key words which best characterized his political views and
intentions as the head of government, MTI reports. Boross denied
charges by the opposition that he stood to the right of Jozsef
Antall, stressing that "I have always stood behind Antall." According
to MTI, Boross characterized himself as a "predictable, thoughtful,
and tranquil" person who represents Hungarian interests in a
resolute way and dislikes hesitation. Turning to foreign policy
issues, Boross stated that it was in Hungary's basic interest
to be admitted to NATO as soon as possible and warned that a
security vacuum in the middle of Europe was against the interests
of all countries in the region. -Edith Oltay

CZECH GOVERNMENT APPROVES RAISE OF PENSIONS. The Czech government
approved an increase in the basic pension payment and some other
social allowances, CTK reports on 22 December. Prime Minister
Vaclav Klaus said in an interview that pensions will be increased
by 10% beginning in February 1994. The measures have to be adopted
by the Czech parliament first, however. -Jan Obrman

SLOVAK PARLIAMENT PASSES 1994 BUDGET. On 22 December the parliament
unexpectedly passed the state budget. Out of 147 votes, 77 voted
in favor, 37-voted against, and 33 abstained, TASR reports. The
ruling coalition, made up of the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia
and the Slovak National Party, had approved the budget proposal
on 2 December, but since then many had speculated that some SNP
deputies would not support the proposal. Before the budget law
was passed, the deputies adopted 37 of 117 proposed amendments.
Following the final vote, the Party of the Democratic Left Chairman
Peter Weiss said he had mistakenly pressed the "yes" button and
that this could not be corrected later. He apologized to his
party and to the public and said he was willing to step down
as chairman. Ladislav Pittner of the Christian Democratic Movement
also said it was only by "an unfortunate accident" that he had
pushed the "yes" button. Besides Weiss and Pittner, the other
budget supporters, according to PDL member Milan Ftacnik, included
64 deputies from the MDS, 9 from the SNP, and 2 independent deputies.
Premier Vladimir Meciar said the passing of the budget sends
"a signal of domestic stability" to the outside world and opens
doors for immediate talks with international financial institutions.
He expects negotiations involving loans worth $200 million during
the last week of December. -Sharon Fisher

SLOVAKIA, SLOVENIA SIGN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT. On 22 December
Slovak Economy Minister Jan Ducky and Davorin Kracun, Slovene
deputy premier and minister for economic relations and development,
signed a free trade agreement in Bratislava. The agreement will
mean the gradual removal of import tariffs during the next two
years. Duties will fall by 50% in the first year of the agreement's
validity, by 25% in the second year and will reach zero in the
third year. Of industrial products, the only exception to the
reductions is automobiles; here the removal of duties will be
extended to six years. Ducky told TASR that the agreement creates
conditions for Slovak businessmen to establish themselves in
the Slovenian market. It should also increase the two countries'
trade turnover, which was 1.3 billion koruny during the first
nine months of 1993. -Sharon Fisher

BATTLE OVER POLISH BUDGET BEGINS. The Polish cabinet convened
on 22 December to conclude work on the draft budget for 1994.
The finance ministry has proposed a budget deficit of 83 trillion
zloty ($3.9 billion), or 4.1% of GDP. Various "needy" ministries-health,
defense, labor, agriculture, internal affairs, and justice-have
demanded funds well in excess of this target. Gazeta Wyborcza
reports that these ministers spent the cabinet session attempting
to persuade Finance Minister Marek Borowski that a larger deficit
will not mean higher inflation. Borowski told reporters earlier,
however, that "if the ministers raise next year's deficit, I
will consider it a no-confidence vote." Borowski stressed the
dramatic state of public finances. Domestic debt financing alone
consumed 12% of the budget in 1993; another 24.7% had to be spent
to cover shortfalls in the pension, social insurance, and unemployment
funds. For this reason, despite expected economic growth of 4.5%
in 1994, Borowski has proposed merely to maintain spending at
the same level, in real terms, as 1993. National Bank chief Hanna
Gronkiewicz-Waltz told Polish TV on 22-December that she is standing
by her earlier refusal to fund any more than 30 trillion zloty
of the deficit, to prevent inflation from rising beyond the target
of 23% for the calendar year (or 27% on average). The cabinet
is expected to complete the draft on 24 December; the deadline
for submission to the Sejm is 29-December. -Louisa Vinton

ROMANIAN CURRENCY PLUNGES AGAINST DOLLAR. Romania's National
Bank reported on 22 December a record low exchange rate for the
national currency, the leu, at 1,304 lei to the dollar, a plunge
of nearly 19-percent compared to the rate on 21 December. The
move does not come as a surprise, since an accelerated depreciation
of the leu was expected after the government reached an agreement
with the International Monetary Fund in early December to further
liberalize the exchange rate system. -Michael Shafir

POLL SHOWS LEFT-NATIONAL PARTIES STILL IN THE LEAD. According
to the Romanian Institute for Public Opinion Survey (IRSOP),
the left-nationalist parties would still garner the highest percentage
of votes if elections were to be held now. The results of the
survey were reported by Radio Bucharest and Reuters on 22 December.
Some 47% would vote for the Left-Nationalist parties, while 44%
would favor the opposition. Nonetheless, the popularity of the
present leadership is declining. Some 68% said they were "dissatisfied"
or "very dissatisfied" with Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu and
54% judged negatively the performance of President Ion Iliescu.
75% of the respondents favored a rapid liberalization of the
currency exchange system and 74% backed fast privatization. 68%
said they supported closing down unprofitable factories, but
in what seems to be a constant contradiction in survey returns
since they were reintroduced after the ouster of the former regime,
82% said at the same time that they were opposed to increased
unemployment. -Michael Shafir



LITTLE CONFIDENCE IN BALTIC PREMIERS. The results of opinion
polls taken in the Baltic States in November showed a low level
of trust in the republics' prime ministers, BNS reported on 22
December. According to the poll, 39% of Lithuanian citizens expressed
trust in Adolfas Slezevicius while 40% did not trust him. The
corresponding figures for Estonian Premier Mart Laar were 34%
and 52%, and 27% and 43% for his Latvian counterpart Valdis Birkavs.
-Saulius Girnius



REGISTRATION OF LATVIA'S RESIDENTS. Ints Zitars, the head of
Latvia's Citizenship and Immigration Department, said that as
of 26 November 1,720,302 people had been registered as Latvian
citizens and 690,461 as noncitizens, Baltfax reported on 22 December.
According to unofficial information, 165,237 residents had not
yet registered. 71.9% of the registered people are citizens and
their share would decline to 67.3% if all those not registered
were noncitizens. Zitars also noted that as of 8 December 1,377,294
ethnic Latvians, 722,501 Russians, 103,305 Belarusians, 63,782
Ukrainians, 62,403 Poles, and 14,714 Jews lived in Latvia. -Saulius
Girnius



LITHUANIA'S FOREIGN POLICY. On 22 December the discussion in
the parliament (Seimas) on foreign policy was broadcast live
by Radio Lithuania. President Algirdas Brazauskas noted three
priorities: 1.-increasing cooperation between the Baltic States
and the Nordic Council members, 2. closer integration into the
economic, political, cultural, and defense structures of Europe,
and 3. normal relations with neighboring states. He said there
was no tension in Lithuanian-Russian relations and suggested
that foreign experts be invited to work out draft agreements
with Russia on military transit through Lithuania to and from
Kaliningrad which he hoped would be demilitarized. Foreign Minister
Povilas Gylys said that Lithuania should have the same international
status as the Visegrad Group countries. He declared as unacceptable
Russia's attempts to gain a mandate for peacekeeping in former
Soviet republics that Russian officials call the "near abroad."
Lithuania, Gylys stressed, had never legally been part of the
USSR. -Saulius Girnius



NUCLEAR SMUGGLERS ARRESTED IN UKRAINE. Ukrainian Radio reported
on 22-December that authorities have arrested six people involved
in a plot to smuggle a "highly radioactive material" from the
country. Sixty sealed glass ampules, together with 100-kilograms
of mercury and weapons had apparently been seized in an operation
involving an elite anti-terrorist unit from Odessa and Interior
Ministry officials. -Bohdan Nahaylo

NOTICE:  The RFE/RL Daily Report will not appear Friday, 24 December.

Happy Holidays!

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by John Lepingwell and Edith Oltay













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