|When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain|
No. 10, 17 January 1994
RUSSIA GAIDAR RESIGNS. First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy Egor Gaidar announced his resignation on 16 January, Russian and Western news agencies reported. In his letter of resignation, Gaidar claimed that recently he had not been consulted or had been overriden in the decision-making on various economic issues that have come before the government. He specifically cited the allocation of $500 million for the construction of a new parliament building and the pursuit of economic union with Belarus; two actions Gaidar has vigorously opposed. Gaidar also said that he does not want to be associated with the more general shift in economic policy away from fiscal and monetary austerity that appears imminent. Social Security Minister Ella Panfilova also resigned on 16 January citing unfair criticism of her work, and Minister of Finance Boris Fedorov is also reported to be considering leaving the government owing to anticipated changes in economic policy. Erik Whitlock RYBKIN ELECTED SPEAKER OF LOWER HOUSE. Ivan Rybkin, the leader of the communist faction in the former parliament and now a member of the Agrarian Party, was elected chairman of the State Duma on 14 January, Interfax and other agencies reported. The final vote was a run-off between Rybkin and nationalist sympathizer Yurii Vlasov, following a preliminary vote earlier in the day. Rybkin received an overall majority of 223 votes; Vlasov, who headed a 20-strong nationalist faction called "Russian Way", said that he would vote for Rybkin himself, and received 111 votes. Reformists in the Russia's Choice and the YABLOKO bloc supported neither candidate. Russia's Choice and four other reformist blocs have nominated candidates to the posts of deputy speaker: Mikhail Mityukov (Russia's Choice), Alevtina Fedulova (Women of Russia), and, to represent regional interests, former CPSU Politburo member, Aleksander Dzasokhov. The elections will take place on 17 January. Wendy Slater CONSTITUTIONAL COURT JUSTICE REINSTATED. Viktor Luchin has been reinstated as a Constitutional Court justice and ended his hunger strike, Interfax reported on 14 January. He was reinstated by nine votes to four by the court in a secret ballot. Luchin went on hunger strike on 11 January to protest against his suspension for alleged political activities. [See DR no. 7]. Interfax reported, however, that the court had decided by seven to six votes not to consider reinstating its former chairman, Valerii Zorkin, whom it suspended together with Luchin on 1 December. Wendy Slater FEDERATION COUNCIL ENDS ITS FIRST SESSION. The Federation Council ended its first session on 15 January, ITAR-TASS reported. During its opening session, the upper house had elected Vladimir Shumeiko as its chairman. On 14 January, it had elected as his two deputies Ramazan Abdulatipov, chairman of the Council of Nationalities in the former parliament; and Valerian Viktorov, Prime Minister of the Chuvash republic. The house had also approved the creation of ten committees. The chairmen of six of them were elected on 15 January; the remainder will be elected when the Federation Council reconvenes on 31 January. Wendy Slater RUSSIAN-AMERICAN MOSCOW DECLARATION. On 14 January, Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin signed a joint declaration heralding the achievement of "a new stage" in relations between Russia and the United States characterized by a "mature strategic partnership based on equality, mutual advantage, and recognition of each other's national interests." The declaration also stressed that Moscow and Washington are ready to "move forward on the path of openness and mutual trust" in their relations and pledged to continue efforts to overcome the division of Europe. Among the "urgent tasks" related to these efforts are "preventive diplomacy, peacekeeping and protection of human rights and the rights of national and other minorities," the declaration said, according to an ITAR-TASS report of 14 January. Suzanne Crow CLINTON SPEAKS TO RUSSIANS IN LIVE TV BROADCAST. On 14 January American President Bill Clinton addressed a Russian audience in the conference hall of Ostankino television. The address and the question-and-answer session that followed lasted 18 minutes more than scheduled (altogether 1 hour 18 minutes) and was broadcast across all the states of the former Soviet Union. Apart from the people in the studio, the unprecedented session included hookups that allowed viewers from Red Square, as well as other cities--namely St. Petersburg, Stavropol and Nizhnii Novgorod--to ask Clinton questions. The questions ranged from problems of education to Clinton's biography. In a sharp departure from usual Russian practices, the questions did not seem to have been prearranged. Julia Wishnevsky TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA REFERENDUM IN TURKMENISTAN. In a referendum on 15 January, only 212 out of 1,959,637 registered voters in Turkmenistan voted against exempting President Saparmurad Niyazov from reelection in 1997, Russian and Western news agencies reported on 16 January. The referendum had been proposed by Niyazov's Democratic (formerly Communist) Party and approved by the country's highest legislative body as ensuring Niyazov time to carry out his ten-year prosperity program. Niyazov's closest adviser, Deputy Prime Minister Valerii Ochertsov, was quoted by AFP as saying that the 99.9% vote in favor of the president was a guarantee of stability and the continuation of economic reform. The same source noted that Niyazov has been unable to stop the decline in the value of Turkmenistan's new currency. Bess Brown CIS ZLENKO: NUKES DEAL DOESN'T NEED RATIFICATION. Speaking on a talk show on Ukrainian radio on 15 January, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Anatolii Zlenko told reporters that the deal signed in Moscow was a "statement" not an agreement or treaty, and that therefore it does not require ratification by the Ukrainian parliament. Zlenko, together with Deputy Prime Minister Vitalii Shmarov and Defense Minister Vitalii Radetsky, emphasized that the statement represented the government's attempt to realize the conditions placed on START-1 ratification by the parliament, not a completely new policy. Nonetheless, the parliament is scheduled to debate the "statement" when its new session opens on 20 January. John Lepingwell DETAILS, DISPUTES, CONCERNING NUKES DEAL. Even before Kravchuk left Moscow on 14 January, there were Russian-Ukrainian disagreements over what was agreed upon. Kravchuk stated at his press conference in Moscow that the deal provides for Russia to apply the value of the tactical nuclear weapons removed from Ukraine in late 1991 and early 1992 against Ukraine's energy debt. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev dismissed this interpretation in comments to ITAR-TASS on the same day, noting that the agreement only provided for provision of nuclear fuel and a portion of the proceeds of the sale of the resulting low-enriched uranium. The amount of compensation for tactical nuclear weapons has not yet been fixed--apparently a trilateral procedure for determining the quantity of fissile material in the weapons is to be worked out, and the weapons valued accordingly. The methodology and value of the material could prove to be a contentious issue, since the value of the fissile material in the 2,600 tactical weapons may be equal to, or greater than, that in the strategic warheads now in Ukraine. John Lepingwell DOMESTIC REACTION IN UKRAINE TO NUCLEAR DEAL. Politicians in Ukraine appear to be deeply divided over the trilateral nuclear deal, the Ukrainian and Western media report. Some, like Rukh's leader Vyacheslav Chornovil, are accusing President Kravchuk of "betrayal," while other are welcoming it as a wise compromise. A third group, including for example the influential speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, Ivan Plyushch, are reserving judgement until they have had a chance to study the relevant documents. President Kravchuk strongly defended the deal at a press conference which he gave on 14 January on his return from Moscow. It was shown that evening on Ukrainian TV. This was his first real effort to sell the trilateral nuclear agreement to the public and, especially, to parliament. He went out of his way to stress that the deal had taken into account the conditions which the parliament had set for the ratification of the START-1 treaty and that far from having been "forced to its knees," Ukraine had reaped economic, security and diplomatic benefits from the compromise. That same day the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry issued a statement about the deal that made the same points. Kravchuk's task of getting parliament to approve of the deal appears to have been facilitated by the fact that Ukraine's popular former defense minister Kostyantyn Morozov, who was effectively forced to resign by Kravchuk after criticizing the Russian-Ukrainian deal discussed last September at the Massandra summit, has voiced his support for the trilateral nuclear deal. Bohdan Nahaylo CLINTON IN BELARUS. Following talks with Boris Yeltsin in Moscow, Bill Clinton arrived in Minsk for a six-hour visit on 15 January, various agencies reported. During the visit he met with the Chairman of the Supreme Soviet, Stanislau Shushkevich. While Belarus nuclear disarmament was the main subject on the agenda, Clinton also concluded several other agreements. Among them was a treaty which aims at attracting American businessmen to Belarus by offering legal protections for investments. Clinton also approved the formation of an American trade center and agreed to give an additional $25 million for the continued dismantlement of Belarus' nuclear weapons and the country's military conversion. (So far the US has contributed $75 million towards Belarus' nuclear dismantlement.) During the visit Shushkevich told Clinton that he would like Belarus to participate in NATO's Partnership for Peace Program, but this would entail amending the neutrality clause of the constitution. Before leaving Clinton stopped at the Kuropaty Memorial where tens of thousands Belarusians had been killed under Stalin's regime. The visit to Kuropaty sparked off protest among Belarus' communists and several dozen demonstrated against Clinton's visit. The US First Lady, Hilary Clinton, accompanied the President and paid a visit to a Minsk hospital for children affected by the Chornobyl accident. The US has promised to provide all necessary furnishings (except for the building) for a 500 bed hospital in Belarus. Ustina Markus BELARUS REQUESTS COMPENSATION FOR NUCLEAR WEAPONS. US President Bill Clinton praised Belarus on 15 January for agreeing to transfer the nuclear weapons on its territory to Russia, and for its ratification of the START-1 and nuclear non-proliferation treaties, according to Western press agencies. The Belarusian government informed Clinton that it also wants a share of the proceeds from the sale of uranium from dismantled warheads. The US has been advocating sharing such proceeds since it signed a preliminary accord with Russia on uranium sales in February 1993. Interfax reported on 16 January that Prime Minister Vyacheslau Kebich stated that the Russian government has agreed to provide compensation for the tactical nuclear warheads that were withdrawn in 1992, as well as for ICBM warheads. There were only 81 single-warhead SS-25 ICBMs in Belarus at the beginning of 1992, and 27 of them have already been returned to Russia, where they are to be redeployed rather than dismantled. Were Belarus to be compensated for the ICBM warheads alone, the total amount would probably be approximately $50 million. If the tactical warheads are to be included, the level of compensation could increase severalfold, as Western estimates indicate there were several hundred to a thousand such weapons in Belarus. John Lepingwell CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE ALBRIGHT WARNS SERBS OVER KOSOVO. Western news agencies reported from Tirana on 14 January that US ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright waned that "Serbian-inspired force" against Kosovo's more than 90% Albanian majority would "be unacceptable and there will be a response." During the course of her visit to Albania, she said that Albania has been invited to join NATO's Partnership for Peace program; Tirana has energetically sought membership in the Atlantic alliance as protection against Serbia. Albright told her hosts, moreover, that developing democratic institutions and a market economy was the best "guarantee" of eventual NATO membership. She added that the US will provide $25 million to boost the private sector and foreign investment, as well as $5 million for future technical assistance. Finally, the 17 January Washington Post reports that Albright also warned Serbia to cooperate with the UN in prosecuting war criminals. Patrick Moore POPE CONDEMNS "TORTURERS WITHOUT MORALS" IN BOSNIA. Vatican Radio said on 15 January that Pope John Paul II used this phrase to describe various nationalist leaders in the embattled republic in his annual speech to the diplomatic corps. Meanwhile, the following day Radio Bosnia and Herzegovina claimed that Muslim-dominated government forces have successfully resisted a Serb assault on Olovo, and the Bosnian government rejected the Croatian proposal for an alliance made earlier in the week. Elsewhere, the 17 January New York Times says that the Serbs have been selling weapons to the Muslims to help perpetuate Muslim-Croat fighting. Finally, Croatian rumor mills are buzzing with reports that Mate Boban, president of the self-styled Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna, is about to be dumped in favor of his foreign minister, Mile Akmadzic. Boban is widely held responsible for the loss of many ancient Croat communities in central Bosnia, and made a major political mistake last May by sharply attacking the respected Primate of Croatia, Cardinal Franjo Kuharic. Patrick Moore ALBRIGHT, MITTERRAND PRAISE BULGARIA'S SECURITY POLICY. Albright on 14 January told journalists in Sofia that the US appreciates Bulgaria's "enthusiastic support" for the Partnership for Peace initiative, agencies report. Albright noted that the US has a "direct and material interest in the security of Bulgaria and other Central and East European countries and that the Partnership for Peace reflects that interest." Pledging further support for economic and political reforms, she said Washington is well aware that Bulgaria has been playing a constructive role on the Balkans and that the costs of that policy, in particular the economic consequences of the UN embargo against rump Yugoslavia, have been high. In interviews with Bulgarian media on 15 and 16 January, French President Francois Mitterrand similarly praised Bulgaria's security policy. Mitterrand, who is due in Sofia on 19 January, said Bulgarians and other East Europeans need to organize themselves in an all-European political and economic structure. He also urged Sofia reinforce its own security by conducting preventive diplomacy, expanding bilateral cooperation, and by approaching the existing collective security organizations. Kjell Engelbrekt POLAND AND HUNGARY FIRM ON VISEGRAD. "Poland and Hungary have the best relations in all of Europe," Polish Foreign Minister Andrzej Olechowski observed during the one-day official visit to Warsaw of his Hungarian counterpart, Geza Jeszenszky, on 14 January. The climate was extremely amicable during Jeszenszky's meetings with Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak and President Lech Walesa. The two sides restated their faith in the Visegrad arrangement. The foreign ministers called the Polish-Hungarian friendship the "motor" of Visegrad; and Walesa said he is confident Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia will "find a common language." In an elliptical reference to the Czech Republic's go-it-alone stance, Walesa said that the countries that do not now wish to work together will eventually become convinced of the virtues of regional cooperation. Jeszenszky also thanked Walesa for his hard-line stance on NATO membership. Both sides agreed on the need to complement bilateral friendship with more intense trade relations and to speed up the elimination of trade barriers among the Visegrad partners. Hungarian President Arpad Goncz is scheduled to visit Poland in the first half of 1994, PAP reports. Louisa Vinton ESTONIA ASKS TO JOIN PARTNERSHIP FOR PEACE. On 14 January President Lennart Meri and Prime Minister Mart Laar signed and sent a letter to NATO Secretary General Manfred Woerner officially expressing Estonia's desire to join the Partnership for Peace program, BNS reports. Meri noted that the program should have "a stabilizing effect not only on Estonia but on the entire northern Europe." He said that a democratic system of government offers greater reliable guarantees of peace than a system of agreements or a well-equipped army Saulius Girnius ROMANIAN CABINET ENDORSES NATO'S PLAN. Radio Bucharest broadcast on 14 January a statement by Romania's government on NATO's Partnership for Peace plan. The cabinet said it accepts the invitation addressed by NATO to the interested states to participate in that plan, considering it as a preliminary stage for Romania's eventual admission to NATO as a full member. In a related development, Albright on 15 January praised at a news briefing in Bucharest Romania's willingness to join the program. Romania was Albright's final stop on her tour of Balkan and Eastern European countries to promote the plan. Dan Ionescu PRO-RUSSIAN LEADS IN CRIMEAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. Early returns from the presidential elections in the Crimean autonomous republic give Yurii Meshkov a commanding lead over five other presidential hopefuls, Western news agencies reported early on 17 January. According to preliminary results, Meshkov has 40 percent of the vote. The electoral law requires a vote of at least 50 percent to win; otherwise a second round of voting is necessitated. Meshkov, who ran on a platform of Crimean independence and close ties with Russia, is trailed by Mykola Bahrov, chairman of the Crimean parliament, who is reported to have gained 20 percent of the vote thus far. Final results are expected later in the week. Roman Solchanyk CZECH, SLOVAK INTERIOR MINISTERS RESOLVE SOME BORDER DISPUTES. The Czech and Slovak Interior Ministers, Jan Ruml and Jozef Tuchyna, met to discuss several border disputes between the two republics, CTK reported on 14 January. They agreed that the Slovak village Sidonia will become part of the Czech Republic and the Czech border town U Sabotu will be ceded to Slovakia since residents in both settlements have held referendums expressing their wish to join the respective other country. The ministers also agreed to compensate Slovakia for several acres of previously Slovak territory that will become part of the Czech Republic when the course of the Morava river is straightened. A fourth disputed area, the Kasarna recreation ground, is still to be discussed. The agreement of the ministers is not binding as the governments and parliaments of the two states have to ratify them. Jan Obrman REFUGEE ASSISTANCE CENTER OPENS IN BRNO. A UN.-supported refugee assistance center opened in the Moravian city of Brno, CTK reported on 14 January. The center will offer advice for people seeking asylum or temporary refuge. It will extend its services to people living in two refugee camps and five humanitarian centers in Moravia. About 9,000 people in the Czech Republic are believed to be in the process of being granted asylum or are seeking temporary shelter. Jan Obrman KOVAC MEETS WITH ETHNIC HUNGARIANS. On 14 January Slovak President Michal Kovac met with organizers of the 8 January gathering which took place in the southern Slovakia town of Komarno, TASR reports. The delegation included Coexistence Chairman Miklos Duray and Hungarian Christian Democratic Movement Chairman Vojtech Bugar, as well as Komarno mayor Istvan Pasztor. Presidential spokesman Anton Bodis said Kovac will take a stand on the Komarno initiative "after a thorough examination of the official documents adopted at the assembly." Kovac said he appreciated "the peaceful atmosphere" of the Komarno gathering, as well as the participants' pledge of loyalty to Slovakia. Duray said the discussion with the president was "very satisfying" and hopes to speak with parliament chairman Ivan Gasparovic as well. Sharon Fisher VOTE AGAINST SLOVAK NATIONAL PARTY CHAIRMAN. In a closed session of the SNP executive council on 15 January, the party discussed internal conflicts as well as the coalition agreement with the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia, TASR reports. Chairman Ludovit Cernak lost a no-confidence vote. The council demanded that Cernak give up his post, but Cernak said that only the party congress can remove him. Sharon Fisher MECIAR CRITICIZES KOVAC. In an interview with Slovak Radio on 14 January, Premier Vladimir Meciar criticized President Michal Kovac for calling for replacing the cabinet before the recent NATO summit, where membership of Central and East European nations in the organization was discussed. Meciar said Kovac's statement in his New Year's address, recommending that the current cabinet be replaced by a broad coalition of experts, sent "a negative signal" to the world. Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN RADIO JOURNALISTS PROTEST SACKINGS. Public Employees at Hungarian Radio and the Independent Radio Trade Union protested on 11 January in a letter to deputy radio chairman Laszlo Csucs plans by the radio's management to lay off some 300 radio journalists, MTI reports. Csucs cited economic reasons for the reduction of personnel but journalists' organizations accuse him of seeking to carry out purges among journalists critical of the government. The managing body of the opposition party Alliance of Free Democrats said in a statement that the transformation of public radio into a "propaganda machine" and efforts to establish a monopoly of information prior to the 1994 national elections are continuing under the government of Prime Minister Peter Boross. Edith Oltay HUNGARIAN JEWISH COMMUNITY'S APPEAL. Hungary's Jewish community and the Holocaust Committee issued an appeal for tolerance and called attention to the resurgence of anti-Semitism, MTI said on 14 January. The appeal made to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the liberation of the Budapest ghetto called on "sober citizens" to "help us stop the already regular intimidation" faced by Hungarian Jewry. Karoly Okolicsanyi MASS GRAVE FOUND ON THE BUDAPEST EXPO SITE. Hungarian Radio reported on 13 January that a mass grave with about 50 skeletons, mostly of young people, was found during construction work in September 1993. There was no information about the age of the grave, but officials said that it possibly dates from between World War II and 1956. Karoly Okolicsanyi BULGARIAN INTERIOR MINISTER TENDERS RESIGNATION. On 16 January Bulgaria's Minister of Internal Affairs, Viktor Mihaylov, offered his resignation following an incident in which police officers killed two senior members of an anti-terrorist squad. The incident, which occurred in Sofia on 14 January, primarily appears to be the result of lacking coordination between different branches of the MIA but accusations have also been made against individuals. Kjell Engelbrekt BULGARIAN LAND REFORM PROGRESSES. On 11 January the Ministry of Agriculture said that 46% of the farm land nationalized during communism has now been restored to its former owners. Deputy Agriculture Minister Ventsislav Stoyanov told Reuters that the ministry intends to return all land by the end of 1994, despite the fact that serious problems have arisen due to excessive land claims being accepted by courts. At the same time, he said that land reform has been slowed down significantly by the lack of legislation offering compensation to former owners whose property for one or another reason, such as being used for industrial purposes, cannot be returned. Kjell Engelbrekt POLISH UNIONS OPPOSE BUDGET. Meeting on 12 January, Solidarity union leaders scheduled a national demonstration for 9 February and threatened a general strike to protest price hikes planned in the government's proposed budget for 1994. The union is demanding additional protection against inflation for low-income households. Solidarity has no representatives in the Sejm. The OPZZ union federation, which in contrast controls 61 of 171 deputies in the ruling Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), has also criticized the proposed budget. Louisa Vinton FORMER LITHUANIAN COMMUNIST LEADERS ARRESTED. On 15 January Lithuanian authorities announced that Mykolas Burokevicius and Juozas Jermalavicius had been arrested in Vilnius, Radio Lithuania reports. Burokevicius had been elected the first secretary of the pro-Moscow Lithuanian Communist Party in December 1989 when the party formally declared its independence from the CPSU. Jermalavicius was the head of the party's ideology department. On 16 January Prosecutor General Arturas Paulauskas said that the two would be charged with treason as they played major roles in the attack on 13 January 1991 by Russian troops on the crowd around the Vilnius television tower that resulted in 15 deaths and more than 700 injured, Interfax reports. Saulius Girnius DECEMBER INFLATION IN LITHUANIA AND LATVIA. Kestutis Zaborskas, the Director-General of the Lithuanian Statistics Department, said that the consumer price index in December increased 6.2%, BNS reported on 7 January. The greatest increase was for food, namely 9.2%, followed by an 8% rise in expenditures for entertainment, education, and leisure; a 4.4% increase for clothing and footwear; and a 3% rise for housing. The rate of inflation was lower than in the previous two months (6.8% in November and 7.3% in October), while the rate for 1993 was 188.6%. The Latvian State Statistics Committee reported that the consumer price index increased 5.1% in December with increases of 7.8% for food, 2.4% for clothing and footwear, 3.2% for tobacco and alcohol, and 2.7% for education and recreation. The rate of inflation in November was 8.8% and 3.8% in October and 34.7% for 1993.. Saulius Girnius LATVIA, AZERBAIJAN AGREE TO COOPERATE. Baltic media reported on 11 January that Latvian Vice premier Ojars Kehris and his Azerbaijani counterpart Samed Sadykhov signed earlier that day in Baku an accord on economic cooperation and trade. According to the agreement Azerbaijan will supply Latvia with fuel and energy products, especially oil, in exchange for Latvian-made transport vehicles, locomotives and railway cars, and industrial instruments. Dzintra Bungs BALTIC CONDITIONS FOR RUSSIA JOINING COUNCIL OF EUROPE. On 14 January Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian delegations to the Council of Europe met in Vilnius and coordinated their positions for the CE General Assembly which will begin in Strasbourg on 24 January, BNS reports. The delegations declared that Russia should not be admitted to the organization until all its troops are withdrawn from Latvia and Estonia. They will also insist that Russia solve national and ethnic problems on its territory and promise not to interfere with the internal affairs of other countries. Saulius Girnius "DNIESTER" LEADERS ACCUSE LEBED. In several public statements in recent days, the "Dniester republic" authorities have accused Lt.-General Aleksandr Lebed, commander of Russia's 14th Army in Moldova, of planning to install a new leadership in Tiraspol through "civil war". As reported by Interfax on 15 January, the allegation follows fresh charges of corruption leveled by Lebed against the leaders in Tiraspol. Lebed has waged an anti-corruption campaign against the "Dniester" leadership for nearly a year, in the apparent realization that its identification with communism and the "red-brown" opposition in Moscow constitutes a liability to Russia's policy in the region. Vladimir Socor [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Patrick Moore & Stephen Foye
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