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RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 249, 30 December 1993


on 29 December, Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev announced
that the Russian military would be reduced to a force size of
2.1 million by the end of 1994 and that no further reductions
would be made. According to Grachev the present force size is
2.3 million, a surprisingly high figure given the continuing
reports of widespread draft shortfalls. The decision directly
contravenes provisions of the Law on Defense passed by the Russian
par liament in 1992, which specifies that by 1995 the size of
the military may not exceed 1% of the country's total population.
As a result, Russian military reform plans had called for a cut
to 1.5 million troops by 1995. In early December, however, when
the new military doctrine was issued, Grachev suggested the latter
figure too low for such a large country. The larger force size
will require an amendment to the Law on Defense, but given the
conservative cast of the new parliament such an amendment should
have no difficulty passing. Where the personnel will be found
to staff the military remains uncertain: it is likely that tougher
conscription laws with reduced draft exemptions will also be
required. The press conference was reported by ITAR-TASS and
West ern press agencies. John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc.

GRACHEV ON ELECTIONS. At the same press conference, Grachev noted
that the military's participation in the October crisis had prevented
civil war and the disintegration of the country. He also criticized
those touting figures on how the military voted in the December
elections, noting that the Central Electoral Commission had not
released any figures on military voting, and reiterating that
most military personnel voted together with civilians, even in
voting stations located in military bases in the "nea r abroad."
Grachev also warned against attempts by politicians to split
the military or to draw it into political struggles. In a move
that may nevertheless be in response to support for Zhirinovsky
within the military, Grachev stated that a reform of mil itary
bodies responsible for morale and personnel issues is being planned.
John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc.

already clear opposition to the rapid incorporation of former
Warsaw Pact states into NATO, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei
Kozyrev has stated that such a move would play into the hands
o f ultra-nationalist leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky. Kozyrev was
quoted in The New York Times on 29 December as saying that the
East European states "must strengthen the hand of Russian democrats
and weaken the ground for Zhirinovsky." Kozyrev's remarks were
likely intended to clarify Russia's stance in the period before
the NATO summit scheduled for 10-11 January. Kozyrev was also
evidently attempting to place part of the responsibility for
Russia's opposition to NATO expansion on the shoulders of Russian
ul tranationalists rather than on Russia's democrats. Speaking
at his press conference on 29 December, Defense Minister Pavel
Grachev also warned that the East European and Baltic States
should not "speculate on a mythical threat from Russia" in order
to gai n membership in NATO, and reiterated Russia's interest
in closer ties with NATO. Suzanne Crow, RFE/RL, Inc.

Minister Vladimir Shumeiko was quoted by ITAR-TASS on 29 December
as saying that, as the result of a planned governmental reorganization,
the number of government ministries would increase fro m twenty-two
to thirty. Shumeiko said eleven state committees would be transformed
into ministries and the role of the federal ministries would
be "substantially enhanced." A draft of the proposed reorganization
is to be submitted to Yeltsin by 6 January. Shumeiko also said
that the government has drafted new tax regulations that will
raise tax rates for the rich. Elizabeth Teague, RFE/RL, Inc.

COUP TRIAL AGAIN SUSPENDED. The ongoing trial of those accused
of treason for their part in the failed August 1991 coup has
been adjourned until 5 January because of the illness of three
of the defendants, an RFE/RL Moscow correspondent reported. At
the 2 9 December hearing the lawyers for Anatolii Lukyanov, former
USSR Supreme Soviet chairman, and former Soviet Farmers' Union
Chairman, Vasilii Starodubtsev, requested that the charges against
their clients be dropped. The two are claiming parliamentary
imm unity since their election to the new Russian legislature
earlier in the month. The presiding judge, Anatolii Ukolov, is
to consider the request. Wendy Slater, RFE/RL, Inc.

minister says about 15% of the territory of the Russian Federation
is "an environmental disaster area." Viktor Danilov-Danilyan
was quoted by ITAR-TASS and Western agencies on 27 December as
saying that around 100,000 members of the Russian population
live in regions where radiation levels are dangerously high.
He also said that half of Russia's arable land is unsuitable
for cultivation, only one-fifth of the country's industrial waste
is ade quately treated, and no improvement in the situation can
be expected before 1995. Elizabeth Teague, RFE/RL, Inc.

the deputy prime minister for social affairs, told Interfax on
29 December that the government will ask for a substantial increase
in expenditure on social welfare in 1994. In its proposals to
be presented to the new parliament on 11 January, the government
will seek to raise the share of GNP spent on social welfare from
9% to 13%. In prices of the last quarter of 1993, with a GNP
of around 180 trillion rubles, this would suggest an increase
o f about 7.2 trillion rubles, or $6 billion at the current rate
of exchange. Since a budget deficit of around 6 trillion rubles
will be carried over from 1993, and in the absence of plans for
sharply increased revenues, it looks as if the projected budget
deficit for 1994 will be way beyond IMF guidelines. Keith Bush,
RFE/RL, Inc.

Minister Vladimir Kostyunin confirmed that overdue payments in
the energy sector continue to be a major factor in the decrease
in production of energy carriers this year, according to ITAR-T
ASS on 29 December. Russian oil production from January to November
of this year was down 13.6% compared to the same period last
year. Two trillion rubles is owed Russian oil suppliers by domestic
firms, another 366 billion by states of the former Soviet Union.
Natural gas production is anticipated to have dropped 3.6% from
last year's level. Interfax reports that 1.5 trillion rubles
(presumably by both domestic and foreign customers) are owed
Gazprom, Russia's dominant natural gas producer and distributo
r. The Ministry said that the volume of nonpayments to the sector
increased significantly in November, a period of unprecedentedly
cold temperatures. Erik Whitlock, RFE/RL, Inc.

the Udmurt Supreme Soviet decided to set up a new two-chamber
parliament, Russian television reported on 28 December. The upper
chamber, the Council of Representatives, will have fifty dep
uties, and the lower, legislative, chamber will have thirty-five
working on a permanent basis. A proposal that there should be
guaranteed representation for the Udmurts (30.9% of the population
in 1989 against the Russians' 58.9%) and other numerically-sm
all peoples was rejected. Ann Sheehy, RFE/RL, Inc.


DIPHTHERIA EPIDEMIC. The Russian State Epidemiological Committee
has announced that 12,500 cases of diphtheria were registered
during the first eleven months of 1993, ITAR-TASS reported on
28 December. Nearly 350 people died from the disease. The incidenc
e of diphtheria in 1993 was said to be 150% higher than in 1992
and the outbreak has been called the worst in the developed world
since the 1960s.(Much lower figures for the first ten months
of 1993 were given by Interfax on 29 December, citing the Depart
ment of Labor, Health, and Social Security. The discrepancies
may be attributed either to a sharp deterioration in November
or to differing criteria.) A vaccination campaign has been hampered
by a shortage of vaccine and by a widespread fear of catching
t he HIV virus from reused needles. Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc.

Niyazov told a gathering of intellectuals and Democratic Party
officials on 27 December that the country will eventually develop
into a multi-party state, an RFE/RL correspondent reported o
n 28 December. As a start, Niyazov announced that he would permit
the registration of a Peasants' Party, though the group has less
than the 1,000 members required to register. Previously the only
legal party in Turkmenistan was Niyazov's own Democratic Pa rty--the
new name adopted by the Communists in 1991. Bess Brown, RFE/RL,

TAJIK OPPOSITION WRITER FREED. Bozor Sobir, one of the most outstanding
poets writing in the Tajik language, was found guilty by Tajikistan's
Supreme Court on 29 December and immediately freed, ITAR-TASS
reported. Sobir, a member of the now-banned opposit ion Democratic
Party of Tajikistan, was arrested in March for "crimes against
the state" including having incited interethnic tension. The
charges were typical of those being applied by Tajikistan's present
government against the opposition. The governmen t case against
Bozor Sobir has drawn severe criticism from foreign human rights
organizations. The court cited the poet's literary contributions
in justifying its sentence; head of state Imomali Rakhmonov had
written to the court in November asking that B ozor Sobir be
treated leniently. Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc.

ARMENIAN FORCES RETREAT. Karabakh Armenian forces were forced
to retreat on 28 December from mountain positions surrounding
Agdam, east of Nagorno-Karabakh, following fierce fighting that
resulted in heavy casualties on both sides, according to a Karabakh
Armenian spokesman quoted by AFP. The spokesman attributed the
Azerbaijani success to the presence of Afghan mujahidin and to
orders that Azerbaijani deserters from the front line be shot
on the spot. Fighting is also continuing in Mardakert raion.
Liz F uller, RFE/RL, Inc.

In an interview broadcast on Radio Ukraine on 29 December Deputy
Foreign Minister Boris Tarasyuk confirmed that twenty SS-24 and
twenty SS-19 missiles will be deactivated. Tarasyuk did not provide
any information on the sch edule for the deactivation of the
SS-24s, however. John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc.


military delegations met in Moscow on 28-29 December to discuss
military cooperation, according to Interfax and ITAR-TASS reports.
Agreement was reportedly reached on drafting an agreemen t governing
military cooperation, and the two sides emphasized the need to
ensure fulfillment of the many agreements already signed between
the two states. They also agreed to continue negotiations on
the transfer of nuclear weapons from Ukraine to Russia . A follow-up
meeting is to be held in Kiev on 5-6 January, at which time the
draft cooperation agreement might be ready for signing. Reports
of the meeting suggest that despite Ukrainian denials of a change
in policy, Ukrainian-Russian military relations have taken on
a new tone and direction. John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc.

the Serbian media focused on rump Yugoslavia's economic problems
and the difficulties the Serbian republic faces in forming a
parliamentary government after the 19 December electi ons. On
30 December Politika reported that rump Yugoslavia's national
bank, facing an inflation rate conservatively estimated at 30,000%
per month in December, devalued the dinar by nine zeroes. The
bank has issued new 10, 1,000, and 5,000 dinar notes in addition
to a new one dinar coin. Experts are skeptical that the move
will stabilize the currency or curb inflation. The national bank's
treasury director, Vojislav Tomic, was quoted by Reuters as saying:
"We will never get out of the (money printing) rhy thm unless
the government adopts sharper measures to stem inflation." On
29 December Tanjug announced power cuts throughout Serbia as
of 30 December as a result of a coal miners' strike. The Belgrade
press reports that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic 's Socialist
Party of Serbia, which holds 123 seats in the 250-seat legislature,
is no closer to forming a coalition. In a 30 December Borba report,
Andras Agoston, leader of an ethnic Hungarian party holding only
five seats, repeated his commitment not t o join a coalition
with the SPS, since doing so might compromise his party's ability
to press for ethnic Hungarian autonomy in the Serbian province
of Vojvodina. Meanwhile, on 29 December, government officials
in the rump Yugoslav republic of Montenegro a nnounced that the
republic's capital has been relocated to Cetinje. Stan Markotich,
RFE/RL, Inc.

Croatian defense minister Gojko Susak announced in a state TV
broadcast that Croatian troops are prepared to invade Bosnia
if Bosnian Muslim forces continue to threaten Croat civilians.
Susa k stressed that Croat troops would move in only to protect
Bosnian Croats from alleged genocide campaigns at the hands of
Muslim forces. A similar threat was made on 16 November by President
Franjo Tudjman. On 29 December Reuters reported that presidentia
l elections in the Serb-controlled breakaway republic of Krajina
are slated for 23 January. Elections held on 12 December gave
neither of the two major candidates, Milan Babic and Milan Martic,
a clear majority necessitating a runoff. Reuters reports that
Babic fell just 0.6% percent short of winning an absolute majority,
while Martic garnered 25.92% of the votes. Zagreb contends that
the elections are invalid and illegal. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL,

Sejm on 29 December, Polish Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak acknowledged
that his government will continue the economic policies pursued
by its predecessors, despite election campaign pledges to reverse
them. Pawlak compared the state of economy to that of a "car
speeding toward the abyss," but he ruled out slamming on the
brakes or turning sharply left or right as too dangerous a maneuver.
He admitted GDP was up 4% in 1993 but argued that the fo undations
for growth remain unsteady. Poland's foreign trade deficit stands
at $2.5 billion, he warned; public finances are in dire straits,
with 16% of the 1994 budget allocated to debt servicing. In this
situation, Pawlak said, the best his government c an offer for
1994 is to "put a halt to most of the negative processes." Pawlak
also criticized "doctrinaire" faith in private ownership, suggested
that the economy is collapsing because the stock market is thriving,
and asserted that labor is more importa nt than capital. Rzeczpospolita
on 30 December chided Pawlak for reverting to the "cult of production"
of the 1960s and dusting off other socialist misconceptions.
In party statements that followed Pawlak's address, the Democratic
Union hailed Pawlak's su rrender to continuity but criticized
his assertion that economic growth is illusory, while the socialist
Union of Labor condemned the coalition's unwillingness to attempt
dramatic policy changes. Speaking for the BBWR, former central
planning minister Jer zy Eysymontt commented that the prime minister's
message boils down to the admission that "there is no money and
there will be no money." The debate on the 1994 budget, formally
submitted to the Sejm on 29 December, begins on 5 January. Louisa
Vinton, RFE /RL, Inc.

paid a visit to the warship Warszawa in Gdynia on 29 December,
PAP reports. Accompanied by Defense Minister Piotr Kolodziejczyk,
Walesa thanked honorary representatives of the armed forces f
or their loyalty, noting that during his term of office the military
had been the source of the fewest troubles. The president stressed
the military's apolitical nature and vowed not to interfere in
defense matters. At the same time, he expressed his full confidence
in the defense minister. He restated his opposition to the appointment
of "political" deputy defense ministers by parties in the government
coalition. Walesa told reporters that increased spending on defense
is now necessary in view of new thr eats to Poland's security.
"If we do not respect our own army," Walesa said, "we may be
forced to respect someone else's." The president added that he
does not fear military aggression from Russia, because Poland
is "too small a morsel," but nonetheless c alled on the West
to recognize that the expansion of NATO is in its own best interest.
Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc.

NEW TAX ON POLISH ENTREPRENEURS. Finance Minister Marek Borowski
told reporters on 29 December that the government had chosen
to bolster the budget in 1994 by raising new revenues, rather
than cutting spending or increasing the deficit. In addition
to hig her taxes on personal income, the new revenue-generating
measures include a tax on small businesses that is also intended
to reduce Poland's "gray sphere" of semilegal economic activity.
An estimated 500,000 businesses with yearly receipts of less
than 1. 2 billion zloty ($57,000) will be required to pay a flat-rate
tax on revenues, regardless of whether they show a profit or
not. The fixed rate will be 2.5% for firms involved in retail
trade; 5% for manufacturing, construction, and transport; and
7.5% for all other services. The government expects to earn 7.5
trillion zloty ($357 million) from this new tax. Finance ministry
officials acknowledged that the tax is meant in part to convince
small firms to cease concealing their proceeds and declare incomes
a bove 1.2 billion; they would then have to fulfill VAT requirements
but would avoid the flat-rate income tax. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL,

RFE CONTROVERSY FALLOUT. International media report that Slovak
opposition parties will push for a vote of no confidence in Transportation
and Communications Minister Roman Hofbauer whose ministry recently
announced that it will terminate Radio Free Europ e's medium-wave
broadcasting in Slovakia. In a statement on 29 December, Jan
Carnogursky, chairman of the Christian Democratic Party and former
Slovak Premier, said that his party would seek to oust Hofbauer
at the next session of parliament. The statemen t cites "Hofbauer's
bad performance culminating in his ministry's decision to terminate
RFE's medium-wave broadcasting in Slovakia." Reuters reports
CDM leaders as saying they have found enough support for Hofbauer's
ouster among other parliamentary oppos ition parties. Hofbauer
first became the center of controversy in Summer 1993 when he
ordered the removal of bilingual language signs in Slovakia,
angering the 600,000-strong Hungarian ethnic minority. The US
Embassy in Bratislava, in a statement issued o n 29 December,
welcomed the readiness of the Slovak government to settle the
dispute with RFE. Jiri Pehe, RFE/RL, Inc.

Antonin Baudys revealed at a press conference that some 21,000
officers and generals of the Czech army have undergone screening
this year, CTK reported on 29 December. He said that 2,232 officers
were dismissed in the first half of the year and not even screened
because they obviously failed to meet the required standards.
Of those screened, fifty-one officers were dismissed and 217
either demoted or offered positions that corresponded t o their
qualifications. Baudys also said that some 600 officers of retirement
age will gradually be removed from active service. The defense
minister announced that military educational facilities will
be downsized and their number reduced. Jan Obrman, RF E/RL, Inc.

in the first eleven months of the year the Budapest Stock Exchange
(BST) registered five times as much trade as in the same period
in 1992. Total turnover from January to November 1993 amounted
to 155 billion forint ($1.5 billion) in 19,000 transactions,
but only about one-third of stock and bond trading in Hungary
actually took place on the BST. In November 1993 the total value
of stocks and bonds traded on the BST amounted to 454 billion
forin t ($4.5 billion). Government bonds took 39% of trade in
November, but the share of compensation bonds and corporate stock
were growing. Karoly Okolicsanyi, RFE/RL, Inc.

ZHELEV CALLS ZHIRINOVSKY "FASCIST..." At a press conference directly
after Bulgaria's expulsion of Russian nationalist leader Vladimir
Zhirinovsky on 29 December, President Zhelyu Zhelev said that,
"although he denies it, I think Zhirinovsky is a fascist both
in his way of thinking and behavior." Zhelev, who was forced
into internal exile in the late 1960s after writing a book implying
parallels between 20th century fascism and communism, compared
Zhirinovsky's imperial ambitions with those of Hitler and Mussolini.
He said it was typical for fascists "to use demagogy to reach
power, but afterwards to replace demagogy with dictatorship."
Among the motives for Zhirinovsky's expulsion, Zhelev mentioned
his disparaging remarks about Bulgaria's neighbors. Give n Zhirinovsky's
extremist statements and the war in the immediate vicinity, Bulgaria's
silence, Zhelev said, would not only have been undignified but
could have endangered relations with other Balkan states at a
critical time. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, In c.

the press conference directly after a meeting with Russia's ambassador
to Sofia, Alexander Avdeev. According to BTA, he asked the ambassador
to convey a message to President Boris Yeltsin in w hich he reiterated
Bulgaria's "categorical support for the democratic forces and
transformations in Russia." He reportedly also said that, while
seeking guarantees for its foreign and security policy within
the framework of "the NATO system," Bulgaria wou ld not stand
against Russia but take into account its interests and security.
Avdeev, for his part, expressed regret over Zhirinovsky's behavior
during the visit, saying that it corresponded neither to the
ethics nor the civility demanded of politicians." Kjell Engelbrekt,
RFE/RL, Inc.

ROMANIAN REACTION TO ZHIRINOVSKY. The Romanian government issued
on 29 December a declaration castigating the statements on the
Romanian people and state made by Zhirinovsky in Sofia on 28
December. The declaration, carried by Radio Bucharest, defined
the statements as "aberrant and insulting." It said that, although
they apparently reflect "a pathological, rather than a political"
position, the statements cannot be ignored because they could
be transformed into "departure points for developments with nef
arious consequences" for Europe and mankind. The government "rejects
and condemns" such opinions, which are being "resurrected from
a propaganda arsenal that had soaked the entire planet in blood
fifty years ago" and views the declarations as an attack on Romania's
"national security." On 29 December Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu
summoned the Russian ambassador to Bucharest, Evgenii Ostrovenko,
to protest Zhirinovsky's statements. The ambassador distanced
himself from the statements, "which in no way reflect his country's
position vis-a-vis Romania." Michael Shafir., RFE/RL, Inc.

approved on 29 December a law allowing the government to rule
by decree during January's parliamentary recess, Radio Bucharest
announced on the same day. The vote was 159-1, with the opp osition
refusing to vote. Reuters quoted Ion Diaconescu, a leader of
the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic, as saying the
law was a violation of the constitution, and Petre Roman, the
leader of the Democratic Party-National Salvation Front as vi
ewing the law as "a potential danger of Romania's turning back
to totalitarianism." Michael Shafir., RFE/RL, Inc.

ROMANIAN FOREIGN DEBT RISES. Romania's foreign debt has grown
to the equivalent of over $3 billion. The official news agency
Rompres reported on 29 December that the foreign debt rose by
26% in the first nine months of 1993. Michael Shafir, RFE/RL,

FROM GERMANY, LATVIA, AND ESTONIA IN 1994. He added that the
desire of the East European countries to join NATO was "each
state's internal affair" and expressed regret that the Baltic
States were motivated to join NATO by the desire "to secure themselves
against a Russian military threat," Baltic and Russian media
reporte d. There are still about 2,400 Russian servicemen in
Estonia, of whom about 1,000 are believed to be assault troops;
most of the soldiers are stationed in the Tallinn and Harju districts.
In Latvia there are about 12,000 Russian troops. Estonian Foreign
M inister Trivimi Velliste said that if the Russian withdrawal
process is more dynamic, then his country can accept Russia's
proposed deadline of 31 August 1994 for the completion of the
withdrawal. Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc.

PRIVATIZATION IN ESTONIA. A report on Estonia's economy for 1993-1994
by the Ministry of Economics said that the Privatization Agency
was unable to carry out privatization in due time and with sufficient
expertise, as a result of staff shortages, BNS repo rted on 29
December. The report called for decentralization of the privatization
process. In October, 54% of stores were in private hands, 30%
were owned by cooperatives; only 8% were still state-owned. In
the first eleven months of 1993 state companies v alued at over
350 million kroons were privatized. 125 million of these kroons
came from the sale of 240 companies and facilities under the
so-called small privatization scheme. The total value of privatized
companies in 1991 and 1992 was about 36.5 millio n kroons ($2.7
million). Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc.

UKRAINIAN ECONOMIC NEWS. Agriculture Minister Yurii Karasyk said
on 29 December that Ukraine plans to free prices for most agricultural
products in 1994, PAP reported from Kiev. Reform of the contracting
system is also planned; in future state contracting would be
restricted to 30% of grain and a significant proportion of sugar
beet, sunflower seeds and dairy produce. In other news, AFP,
citing Radio Ukraine, reported that same day that President Leonid
Kravchuk issued a decree on the privatization of gas stations.
Both domestic and foreign companies will be entitled to join
the bidding. Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka, RFE/RL, Inc.

BELARUS TO ISSUE BONDS. The Belarusian government plans to issue
short-term bonds at the beginning of 1994 to cover a part of
the budget deficit, PAP reported from Minsk on 29 December. Each
bond will have a nominal value of 100,000 rubles, and the total
issue is valued at 2 billion rubles. Investors selected by the
Belarus National Bank will take part in a closed auction. The
government will recall the bonds after ninety days. The decision
was made in connection with plans to increase expenditure from
th e budget to cover increases in the minimum wage, unemployment
and disability benefits, and pensions. The total cost to the
budget was not revealed. Anna Sabbat-Swidlicka, RFE/RL, Inc.

[as of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Anna Swidlicka & John Lepingwell

RFE/RL Daily Report

[English] [Russian TRANS | KOI8 | ALT | WIN | MAC | ISO5]

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