|If you're sure you understand everthing that is going on, you're hopelessly confused. - Walter Mondale|
No.89, 10 May 1994
RUSSIA VICTORY DAY MARKED. Addressing a large crowd of people who gathered outside a newly inaugurated war museum in Moscow to mark the 49th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II, President Boris Yeltsin promised to revive Russia's grandeur and dignity in 1994. He said: "We were united in the great war. We can be united now in civil peace." Russian Television on 9 May also covered a march through central Moscow organized by the opposition. Addressing the opposition rally, former Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi said that "Yeltsin's regime" would be out of power before victory day next year. He said "I urge you to celebrate out victory over this regime by the time we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Soviet victory over fascist Germany." Vera Tolz, RFE/RL, Inc. YELTSIN ON ARMY, JOINT EXERCISE, NATO. In the speech marking the 49th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany, President Yeltsin linked allied cooperation during World War II to a call for strategic partnership with the West today, but also emphasized that Russia must remain vigilant and be treated with respect. Yeltsin said that Russia, through its victory over German fascism, had saved the world in the twentieth century, and he suggested that the West would benefit from Russia's cooperation in the future. On more specific issues, he said that Russia wanted to lower its levels of arms and armed forces while maintaining parity with NATO and the US. He also signaled his renewed support for the conduct of joint Russian-American military exercises, scheduled for July in Russia. On 26 April, under pressure from conservatives in Russia's parliament, Yeltsin had ordered the Defense Ministry to reconsider holding the exercises. Yeltsin's remarks were broadcast by Russian Television. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. GRACHEV ON ARMY READINESS, RESTRUCTURING. In remarks made to Interfax following a Victory Day wreath-laying ceremony, Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev was quoted as saying that Russia's armed forces have "risen from their knees and are today completely fit for war . . . They can solve problems not only locally but on a wider scale as well." Turning to the ongoing restructuring of the army, Grachev singled out the creation of the Kaliningrad Defense Area, where, he said, the Baltic Fleet commander is in charge of an integrated force comprised of all locally stationed naval, land, and air troops. He also said that the North Caucasus Military District is ready for combat, that armies are gradually being replaced by brigades and corps, and that the creation of mobile forces and the replacement of air defense forces with air and space defense forces is nearly completed. Grachev also said, however, that Russia's force structure in the Far East remained unchanged, and suggested that a plan announced earlier--aimed at integrating all forces in the region under a single command--had been put on hold. Grachev's sanguine remarks to Interfax on the army's readiness contrasted with the far more negative assessment that he had provided only days earlier, on the second anniversary of the Russian army's founding. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. YELTSIN TO GERMANY. Boris Yeltsin arrives in Germany on 11 May to begin a three-day visit. According to AFP, talks are expected to focus on ceremonies marking Russia's final military withdrawal from Germany and on Russia's participation in the NATO Partnership for Peace Program. Organizing the military withdrawal has become an especially prickly issue, with Russian military and political leaders upset over Bonn's plans to hold separate ceremonies for the final withdrawal of the last 30,000 Russian troops on the one hand, and the former allied forces on the other. Moscow has objected to the conduct of separate festivities for Russian troops in Weimar, arguing that its proximity to the Buchenwald concentration camp made it an "inappropriate" place for the celebration. AFP reported that Bonn has rejected a request from Russian military leaders that their troops parade alongside Western forces in ceremonies to be held in Berlin, although the agency also said that in an exchange of letters a week earlier German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Yeltsin had agreed on some sort of send-off for the Russian troops in Berlin. The two leaders are also to discuss restitution of works of art confiscated during World War II. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. PRELIMINARY RESULTS OF KOMI ELECTIONS. Preliminary results of the elections held on 8 May to the post of head of the republic of Komi and to the republic's local bodies of power show that about 36 percent of the electorate took part, Radio Rossii reported on 9 May. Only in the coal mining city of Vorkuta was the minimum participation rate of 25 percent necessary for the elections to be valid not reached. Yurii Spiridonov, the Russian chairman of the Komi parliament, was elected head of the republic after what seems to have been a bitter campaign in which his main rival was Vyacheslav Khudaev, the Komi chairman of the Council of Ministers, who loses his job since under the new Komi constitution the head of the republic is also head of the government. In a referendum on 12 December 1993 the electorate failed to support the introduction of a presidency. Ann Sheehy, RFE/RL, Inc. TENSION BETWEEN COSSACKS AND CHECHENS IN STAVROPOL KRAI. On 7 May Radio Rossii reported that an incident involving Cossacks and Chechens in the settlement of Krutoyarsk in eastern Stavropol krai on 24 April, when houses were burnt down and people injured, had nearly led to a major interethnic conflict and was keeping Stavropol krai and the Chechen republic in a state of tension. The Cossacks were angered when the law enforcement agencies arrested a Russian as well as some Chechens, and the ataman of the Terek Cossack Host summoned 50 Cossacks from the Don, Kuban, and Kalmykia to obtain the release of the Russian. When the situation threatened to get out of hand, the man was released with the permission of the Russian procurator general's office. The governor of Stavropol krai demanded that the Cossacks should not take the law into their own hands in future. Ann Sheehy, RFE/RL, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA AZERBAIJAN BELATEDLY SIGNS BISHKEK KARABAKH PROTOCOL. On 8 May Azerbaijan's parliament chairman Rasul Guliev signed the Bishkek protocol calling for a cease-fire in Nagorno-Karabakh to be enforced by CIS peacekeeping troops, Russian special envoy Vladimir Kazimirov told Interfax on 9 May. Guliev insisted on two minor changes in the text of the protocol, which must still be ratified by the Azerbaijani parliament. For the cease-fire to become effective it must be supplemented by a second document outlining the three-stage Russian proposal for a settlement of the conflict. The first stage provides for a cessation of hostilities over a 6-day period; the second stage comprises the liberation of the six occupied districts outside the confines of Nagorno-Karabakh, an exchange of prisoners, the return of refugees and the restoration of communications; the third stage is negotiations on the status of Karabakh and of the Lachin corridor linking Karabakh with Armenia. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. CHEVRON CUTS BACK TENGIZ INVESTMENT. The Chevron Corporation's decision to cut back on its investment and production plans at the Tengiz oil field in western Kazakhstan, reported in the European edition of the Wall Street Journal on 9 May, could be a serious blow to the confidence of foreign investors, whom Kazakhstan desperately needs to develop its economic potential. According to the report, the reduction by Chevron is the result of suspension of negotiations over completion of an oil pipeline to ship oil from Kazakhstan via Russia to loading facilities at the port of Novorossiisk. Limited existing pipeline capacity has meant that the Tengiz field is producing only about a fifth of the amount originally projected by Chevron. Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc. CORRECTION: The RFE/RL Daily Report for 9 May, relying on AFP of 7 May, stated that Dmitrii Vasilev, a deputy chairman of the State Committee for the Management of State Property (GKI) had been dismissed. An RFE/RL correspondent in Moscow reports that it was in fact another deputy chairman, Valentin Sychkin, who was fired, while Vasilev is to be reprimanded on his return from an overseas trip. CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE WEU OPENS ITS DOORS TO EAST EUROPE. The Western European Union (WEU), the European Union's defense organization, opened its doors to nine former communist states, admitting them as "associate partners," international media reported on 9 May. The WEU, which consists of all European Union members with the exception of Ireland and Denmark, offered "associate partner" status to Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. Meeting in Luxembourg, the defense and foreign ministers of the WEU members issued a statement saying the move will prepare the new partners "for integration and eventual accession to the European Union." While no security guarantees were given to the new "partners," they were encouraged to participate in the group's meetings and in its peacekeeping and humanitarian activities. With the exception of the three Baltic states, none of the former Soviet Republics was invited to become a WEU "partner," but the organization's Secretary General Wim Van Eekelen stressed that the expansion was not directed against Russia or any other nation. The WEU, created in 1954, lived in the shadow of NATO during the Cold War. Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, however, efforts have been developed to turn it into an European defense pillar. The organization is expected to play an important role in European defense considerations after 1996. Jan Obrman, RFE/RL, Inc. SERBS STILL HAVE TROOPS AND GUNS IN GORAZDE. News agencies reported on 10 May that UN forces in the eastern Bosnian Muslim enclave of Gorazde say that the Serbs still have 100 soldiers there disguised as police. Heavy guns have also been identified within the exclusion zone, all in violation of NATO's ultimatum. Meanwhile, Politika reported from Vienna that Muslim-Croat talks on the future of their federation continue but that the stumbling block at the moment is the control of Mostar and Stolac, which both parties claim. AFP, for its part, reported from Sarajevo that Bosnian Serbs loyal to the Bosnian state want to be included in international peace talks on an equal footing with Radovan Karadzic's people. One loyalist Serb said: "we don't want to represent the Karadzic Serbs, we don't want to represent criminals. But we cannot accept that he with his lies represents us." Finally, Reuters noted on 9 May that Iran, which has just offered 10,000 peace-keepers for Bosnia, plans to start broadcasting daily to that embattled republic. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. MILOSEVIC CLAIMS NO ETHNIC CLEANSING POLICY. On 9 May Reuters reported on an interview given by Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic in which the Serbian leader claimed, despite mounting evidence to the contrary, that Serbia had and has no policy of ethnic cleansing. Instead, he argued that Serbs in Kosovo were themselves the victims of ethnic cleansing campaigns at the hands of the Albanian majority in the province. Milosevic also insisted that Serbia is providing a home "for at least 40 different nationalities" and that the sanctions imposed against the rump Yugoslavia by the international community will not topple the government or "press Serbs into giving up their national interests." In other news, on 10 May both Borba and Politika report that a 9 May rally attended by ultranationalist Russian leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky was held after Belgrade police authorities lifted a ban, introduced ostensibly to preserve public order. Rally organizers, members of the ultranationalist Serbian People's Renewal Party, had predicted that nearly a million people would take to the streets to participate in the event commemorating Serbia's victory over the fascist powers in World War II, but only an estimated 5,000 turned out. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. IS BRCKO THE KEY TO BOSNIA? Borba on 10 May reported on the strategic importance of Brcko for all three parties to the Bosnian conflict. Globus on 6 May ran a highly detailed map that shows just how tenuous the Serbs' hold on the town is, and together with it the northern Bosnian corridor that links Serbia with its conquests in Bosnia and Croatia. Brcko was a mainly Muslim town that was "ethnically cleansed" by the Serbs after they took it in 1992. To underscore Brcko's importance to its new masters, the Bosnian Serb parliament is meeting there on 10 May, Borba notes. Western news agencies quote Croatian and Bosnian officials, moreover, as arguing that the current UN policy of discouraging any fighting in the area plays into Serb hands by freezing their hold on the town and hence by keeping the corridor in tact and open. On 9 May The Guardian reported that the Serbs are trying to convince skeptical journalists that the Muslims are planning an offensive there, but the only gunfire the press corps heard was from the Serb side. One Serb officer said of the corridor: "this is the mouth that feeds our people--we must hold it at all costs." Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. CROATIAN VOTERS STILL PREFER TUDJMAN. Globus reported on 6 May that the split in the governing Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) last month does not appear to have caused any decisive change in the overall strength of the HDZ and President Franjo Tudjman. The weekly's poll gives the HDZ a slight edge over the second-place Croatian Social-Liberal Party (HSLS), and Tudjman has a commanding 20-point lead over HSLS leader Drazen Budisa in a presidential race. The new Croatian Independent Democrats (HND) and their leader Stipe Mesic finished a very poor third. The HND has tried to link Tudjman to war crimes in Bosnia, and the independent Feral Tribune on 2 May has also raised the issue of Tudjman's possible role in some unexplained political murders in Croatia. These charges, however, do not appear to have affected the overall popularity of "the father of the Croatian nation." Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. MILOSEVIC IS NOT AGAINST KOSOVAR AUTONOMY? After a visit by British Foreign Office Minister Douglas Hogg to Belgrade and Pristina, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic assured him that he "sees no obstacles to the creation of political and cultural autonomy for Kosovo and the Albanians," Borba reported on 10 May. The Kosovar Albanian Information Center called it a "proof of the demise of Serbian policy." The Albanian agency added that "after five years of state-sponsored violence and terror, the Serbian leader [now] expresses willingness to talk about the Kosovo question, whereas he had said earlier that he will never put this question on the agenda." Nonetheless, Kosovar Albanian President Ibrahim Rugova noted that "it is very certain that official Serbia will not find anybody to talk with about this kind of autonomy or about helping to set it up, neither among the legitimate institutions of the Republic of Kosovo, nor among Albanian prominent public figures." According to Rilindja on 7 May, Rugova called for a "civil protectorate" after Hogg made clear that Kosovo will not get international recognition as a republic. It is not clear, however, what Rugova meant by "civil." Fabian Schmidt, RFE/RL, Inc. POLISH GOVERNMENT HOLDS RETREAT. The Polish cabinet held a two-day closed meeting at a government resort in Lansk, near Olsztyn, on 9-10 May, to discuss different versions of Poland's economic policy for coming three years. Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Grzegorz Kolodko said that his preferred plan focuses on increasing the level of domestic savings and foreign investment. He urged reporters to concentrate on longer-term prospects rather than look for immediate results. Journalists were accredited for the event but were not allowed beyond the resort's gates; a scheduled press conference was called off on Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak's instructions. Labor Minister Leszek Miller bicycled out to the reporters to explain that the ministers needed peace and quiet to work, without journalists looking over their shoulders. Eventually, Polish TV reported, two reporters were selected to observe the proceedings inside. This treatment is likely to worsen the already strained relations between the press and the prime minister, who shuns contacts with the media and has accused them of a lack of objectivity. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. POLAND'S COAL STRIKES FADING? The Polish industry ministry has invited representatives of all the mining unions to Warsaw for talks on 10 May, Gazeta Wyborcza reported. On 9 May, Industry Minister Marek Pol reiterated his willingness to "consult" directly with the unions at any time but also indicated that binding agreements will only be reached in the tripartite commission. Solidarity reportedly began talks with mining management on 9 May, with an eye to securing payment for strike days. Such compensation is banned under Polish law, but employers often agree to lump-sum payments as a way of halting protests. Management refused to accept the union's terms, however, proposing instead that workers take strike days as unpaid vacation. One official said that half of those "on strike" were in fact on vacation or sick leave. Gazeta Wyborcza sees the union's request as a sign that the strikes are winding down. Solidarity's mining branch indicated that the strikes would be suspended if management agreed to allow miners to work off strike days later in the year. Some 12,000 miners at 20 hard-coal mines have been on strike as part of Solidarity's national protest for two weeks. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIAN SPY ON TRIAL IN WARSAW. Proceedings against Marek Z. on charges of espionage opened before a Warsaw military court on 9 May, Gazeta Wyborcza reported. The defendant, a former employee of the analysis department at the internal affairs ministry, is charged with providing Soviet--and later Russian--military intelligence with information on the Polish opposition movement in the 1980s. He reportedly confessed to spying. His motives, he said, were "ideological," but he also received scarce food products as compensation. Poland's State Security Office arrested Marek Z. in September 1993 as he was handing over documents to the Russian military attache. The attache, Col. Vladimir Lomakin, was expelled from Poland. The court is conducting the trial behind closed doors. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAK FOREIGN RELATIONS DEVELOPMENTS. On 9 May Slovak President Michal Kovac arrived in South Africa, where he will attend the inauguration of President Nelson Mandela, TASR reported. Also on 9 May, former French Premier Edith Cresson visited Bratislava, where she met with Slovak Premier Jozef Moravcik. Cresson was accompanied by French businesspeople, who spoke with Moravcik about their interest in developing Slovakia's infrastructure and energy sources. Returning from an eight-day visit to the US and Canada on 9 May, Slovak Minister of Culture Lubomir Roman informed journalists of his suggestion that the Voice of America move their European base to Slovakia. Roman also offered the VOA a medium wave frequency which at this time is not being used. Kovac's office announced that he will pay an official visit to Austria from 16 to 17 May at the invitation of his Austrian counterpart Thomas Klestil, while Moravcik is expected to travel to France shortly for an official visit. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. HUNGARIAN SOCIALISTS ON FUTURE POLICY. Imre Szekeres, the Executive Vice-Chairman of the Hungarian Socialist Party (HSP) said that his party is ready to cooperate with any democratic party, MTI reported on 9 May. At the same time, however, he pointed out that his party will not discuss coalitions until after the second round of the elections that is to be held on 29 May. Szekeres said the HSP's future coalition partners will have to meet a number of conditions and left little doubt that the Socialists intend to play a dominant role in the future Hungarian government. He also stressed that if the HSP gains an absolute majority in the parliament, it will not seek coalition partners at all. Speaking about his party's foreign policy orientation, Szekeres said that the HSP is seeking NATO and EU memberships; good relations with Hungary's neighbors; and autonomy for Hungarian ethnic minorities. He also said that a government headed by the HSP will work to stop the growth of unemployment and inflation in order to avoid social tensions. Judith Pataki, RFE/RL, Inc. ALBANIAN PRESIDENT VISITS ROMANIA. On 9 May, the President of Albania, Sali Berisha, began a two-day official visit to Romania, Radio Bucharest reported. Berisha and President Ion Iliescu will sign a treaty of friendship and cooperation between their countries, as well as three other conventions. Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc. BULGARIAN FINANCE MINISTER THREATENS TO RESIGN. In interviews on 8 and 9 May, Bulgaria's Finance Minister Stoyan Aleksandrov declared that he intends to resign in case parliament fails to adopt legislation on bankruptcy and substantial amendments to the privatization law by 30 June. Aleksandrov told the Bulgarian National Radio on 8 May that he considers the next 50 days to be crucial for Bulgaria's economy. He stressed that the government and the National Assembly must prove to the international financial institutions and foreign creditors that they are serious about radical economic reforms. Aleksandrov added that the country presently is in great need of foreign assistance to bolster its finances. After a closed government session on 9 May, Aleksandrov said several ministers are ready to follow his example and step down on 11 May, if parliament does not commit itself to passing crucial economic legislation soon. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc. FINANCIAL TIMES ON BULGARIA'S CAPITALISTS. The 10 May issue of the Financial Times carried a story on Bulgaria's recently founded business lobby, the Group of 13, noting that several of its leading members are known to have had close links to the communist regime or the secret police. The paper specifically mentions Ivan Pavlov, a former professional wrestler and friend of the family of ex-dictator Todor Zhivkov, who today runs the Multigrup business empire with a $1 billion annual turnover and some 3,500 employees in 90 subsidiaries. While acknowledging that there are indications that the G-13 is operating on the fringes of the law, Deputy Finance Minister Dimitar Kostov told the daily that the alleged influence of these companies over Bulgarian society are exaggerated. A Western banker is nevertheless quoted as warning that legal regulation is needed, since the G-13 has "the power to poison the scene [and] the ability to buy politicians." Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc. WALESA VISITS ESTONIA. On 9 May Polish President Lech Walesa began a two-day visit to Estonia, BNS reported. He held talks with his Estonian counterpart Lennart Meri, Prime Minister Mart Laar, and parliament chairman Ulo Nugis. Walesa told reporters that Poland understands Estonia's determination in speeding the Russian troop withdrawal, but added that "we must also understand Russia." Deputy Foreign Minister Iwo Byczewski and the Vice Chancellor of the Estonian Foreign Ministry Raul Malk signed a bilateral treaty designed to prevent dual taxation. On 10 April Walesa will travel to the Poltsamaa region and Tartu where he will meet with the rector and other leaders of Tartu University. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. UPDATE ON UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL RACE. UNIAN reported on 7 May that the Ukrainian central electoral committee has been asked by several presidential candidates to prolong the period of signature gathering in their support. One candidate who made the request, Ivan Valenya, said that the Kharkiv oblast administration held up his documents for registration, thus shortening the time he has to collect signatures. The deputy head of the electoral committee, Viktor Pohorilko, said a number of other candidates have made the same complaint, but declined to name them. Article 13 of the electoral law gives the electoral committee the right to extend the signature collection period. In other election news UNIAN reported that on 6 May the nominee of the Leftist Bloc and head of the Socialist Party of Ukraine, Oleksandr Moroz, has gathered 110,000 signatures in support of his candidacy. UNIAN also reported that on 7 May the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists (CUN) has decided to create a bloc in parliament which may include the far right Ukrainian National Assembly and the Ukrainian Conservative Republican Party. According to CUN representative Mykhailo Ratushny, the group has not yet decided whose candidacy it will support in the presidential elections. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIAN TROOP DEPARTURE TIMETABLE FROM LATVIA INCOMPLETE? Ilgonis Upmalis, head of the office monitoring Russian troop pullouts from Latvia, told the press that the appended documents to the Latvian-Russian accords of 30 April on the withdrawal of Russian troops from Latvia fail to include many Russian military installations and units in that country, BNS reported on 9 May. According to his office, there are still 247 Russian military installations and 191 military units in Latvia. Upmalis explained that part of the problem stems from the fact that the Russian side has grouped its installations into "associations" without listing the components. His office intends to submit later this week a list of "missing" installations and units to the Russian Northwestern Group of Forces Command and the Latvian Defense Ministry. Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc. MORE ON BELARUSIAN PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN. The Secretary of the Central Electoral Commission, Ivan Likhach, outlined the media coverage candidates are entitled to in an interview with Belarusskaya niva on 15 April. The electoral law does not allow candidates to solicit funds for their campaigns individually. Instead all candidates who succeed in gathering enough signatures to be placed on the 23 June slate will be allotted equal media coverage which will be paid for by the state. According to Likhach, 80 billion rubles have been earmarked for the presidential race. This sum is to cover the costs of renting space and facilities for the election, paying the workers involved in the election, and financing the candidates' campaigns. At the end of the signature collection marathon on 15 May, each successful candidate will receive 20 million rubles towards their campaign. In addition, candidates will be allowed two and a half hours of television coverage and an equal amount of radio time. Candidates will also have the right to publish their program on half a page of a national newspaper free of charge. This procedure has been criticized by the opposition which claims that it gives the prime minister, Vyacheslau Kebich, an edge over other candidates as he receives extensive media coverage beyond any other candidate by virtue of his current position. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Dzintra Bungs and Jan Obrman The RFE/RL DAILY REPORT, 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, is available through electronic mail by subscribing to RFERL-L at LISTSERV@UBVM.CC.BUFFALO.EDU. 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