|The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper. - Eden Phillpotts|
No. 92, 16 May 1994
RUSSIA KOZYREV ON BOSNIA MEETING. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev hailed the signing of the communique in Geneva on 13 May as an event that "makes unhappy those who would like to continue war" in Bosnia. Emphasizing Russia's role in the negotiations, Kozyrev claimed that the communique strongly resembled President Boris Yeltsin's recent message to the leaders of the US, France, Britain, and Germany. Meanwhile, Russia's State Duma voted on 13 May to call on the Foreign Ministry to press for the lifting of sanctions against rump Yugoslavia. The Duma's resolution passed with a vote of 270 for, 1 against, and 11 abstentions, Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported. Suzanne Crow, RFE/RL, Inc. DEFENSE MINISTRY, OTHERS ON MILITARY BUDGET. RFE/RL's Moscow correspondent reported on 12 May that Russian Defense Ministry spokesmen have expressed the hope that the State Duma will reconsider a preliminary vote on the state budget, taken on 11 May, that failed to provide an increase in defense spending that had been urged by the military leadership. According to the same report, an unnamed spokesman from the President's office said that Boris Yeltsin continues to support increased military spending, but the official agreed that the increase could only come if spending in other areas is reduced. Meanwhile, Sergei Glazyev, a member of the Democratic Party of Russia and chairman of the Duma's Economic Policy Committee, said that spending overall should have been increased by 30%; he suggested that a significant portion of that money should go to supporting high-tech enterprises in the defense sector, Interfax reported on 13 May. On 14 May Interfax quoted Egor Gaidar as saying that the Russia's Choice faction would take a "cautious stand" on the issue of defense expenditures but might be willing to support some increase in military spending. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. RUTSKOI SHOOTS FROM THE HIP. In a fusillade of random shots, former Vice-President Aleksandr Rutskoi speaks out with verve, if not precision, in an interview with Newsweek of 23 May. On the other former Soviet republics: "Those countries that call themselves sovereign and independent never had their own statehood, never in their history. They were all parts of Russia, a great power." On whether these states should unite again and form a great Russia: "I have absolutely no doubt that that's what's going to happen." On responsibility for the bloodshed in October 1993: "Clinton sanctioned the actions of the president [Yeltsin], who broke the Constitution and the law. That is what caused the bloodshed." Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc. NO LDPR CABINET MEMBER. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin told Interfax on 13 May that he had held a "brief" meeting on the previous day with Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), and that he had declined Zhirinovsky's request that LDPR members be admitted to the cabinet. Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc. CHERNOMYRDIN'S MESSAGE FOR INTERNAL CONSUMPTION . . . Addressing women directors of industrial enterprises on 13 May, Chernomyrdin stated that the government's main task was to halt and reverse the decline in industrial production, Interfax reported. He advocated "a civilized Russian market, rather than fetching everything from abroad." Chernomyrdin promised emergency measures to rescue light industry, including loans and soft credits at an annual interest rate of 25 percent [compared with a current base rate of around 205 percent]. He ruled out an immediate raising of fuel prices to world levels as this would bankrupt more than 60 percent of the nation's enterprises, and he also spoke out against a reconciliation of enterprises' mutual debts on a national scale. Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc. . . . AND HIS WORDS FOR THE WEST. In an article appearing in The Financial Times of 16 May, Chernomyrdin emphasized the need for fiscal and monetary rectitude. He pledged that his government would adhere to tight monetary and credit policies despite a first quarter slump of 25 percent in industrial output. Chernomyrdin divided Russian industrial plants into three groups. The first were adapting successfully to new market conditions; the second--the largest number--had not yet adapted but were capable of doing so, yet need government help [i.e., continued subsidies]; and the third group contained those helpless cases that should be allowed to go bankrupt. However, the latter group would be closed down only when an effective social safety net was in place. Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc. 1994 ECONOMIC GROWTH PROJECTION LOWERED. Acting Finance Minister Sergei Dubinin told Interfax on 13 May that the government now hopes that the decline in industrial output in 1994 will stabilize and will be limited to 12-15 percent by the end of the year. The original official projection for the decline in industrial output in 1994 was 8 percent and the initial draft budget was predicated on that figure. However, any such projection was rendered untenable after output dropped by 25 percent during the first quarter of the year. It is not clear whether planned budgetary revenues have been adjusted accordingly. Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc. CIVIL AVIATION STRIKE THREATENED FOR 18 MAY. The Russian Aviators' Trade Union has threatened to halt all flights throughout the nation's air space effective 0500 GMT on 18 May, Interfax reported on 14 May. The union had sent a series of demands to the government on 25 February, dealing with flight security, "economic stability," professional standards, and social security, but had received no reply. Keith Bush, RFE/RL, Inc. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA ABKHAZ ROUNDUP. In a closed-door session on 13 May, the Georgian parliament passed a resolution calling on the Georgian delegation conducting talks with the Abkhaz in Moscow not to sign a draft agreement on the disengagement of Georgian and Abkhaz forces and the deployment of CIS peacekeeping troops along the Inguri river that marks the boundary between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia, as the agreement would not guarantee the safety of Georgian refugees who wished to return to Abkhazia, Interfax reported. Parliament chairman Eduard Shevardnadze denied rumors he had threatened to resign if parliament failed to ratify the agreement, according to Reuters. The debate continued on 14 May, but the Georgian delegation signed the agreement in Moscow anyway, arguing that the parliament's resolution was not legally valid. Interfax on 15 May quoted an Abkhaz delegate to the Moscow talks as stating that the CIS peacekeeping contingent would number 2,500-3,000, primarily Russians, and would be deployed before the end of May. Whether peacekeepers will also be deployed on the Abkhaz-Russian frontier, as the Georgian side had demanded, is not clear. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. CRACKDOWN ON CRIME IN TBILISI . . . In a large-scale crackdown against illegal trafficking in arms and drugs, some 7,000 police sealed off Tbilisi completely during the morning of 14 May and arrested some 40 people wanted for serious crimes; quantities of arms and 100 stolen cars were confiscated, Tbilisi Television reported. Analogous raids took place in seven other towns or raions. On 15 May, a bomb exploded in the Armenian Drama Theatre in Tbilisi just before the beginning of a performance of a children's play, killing one child and seriously injuring 16 other people, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. . . . AND ON POLITICAL OPPOSITION IN BAKU. A group of 150 members of the Azerbaijani Society for the Defense of Women were forcefully prevented by police from picketing the Azerbaijani parliament on 13 May to protest the signing of the Bishkek protocol on Nagorno-Karabakh, Interfax reported. During the night of 13 May, some 300 armed persons attacked the Baku headquarters of the opposition National Independence Party; on 14 May police blockaded the Baku office of the Azerbaijan Popular Front's newspaper Azadlyg and pressured journalists to leave the building; employees of the news agency Turan who share the premises were also forced to vacate their office. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. KARIMOV IN JAPAN. Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov is in Japan on a four-day official visit that is expected to focus on increasing trade between the two countries, Western agencies reported on 16 May. Uzbekistan is reported to want Japanese help in developing oil and gas extraction while Japanese firms are studying the possibility of an oil pipeline from Central Asia to the Pacific. Japan's Charge d'affaires in Tashkent, Kodzi Hino was quoted by AFP on 15 May as saying that Japan could offer development aid and loans but Hino added that there has not been time to prepare agreements. He complained that taxes on foreign businesses in Uzbekistan are not encouraging further investment. Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc. KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT HEAD IN SAUDI ARABIA. The chairman of Kyrgyzstan's parliament, Medetkan Sherimkulov, is participating in the haj, the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, and plans to use the occasion to expand Kyrgyzstan's relations with Saudi Arabia, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 May. Kyrgyzstan's President Askar Akaev made the pilgrimage in 1993. Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIAN COMMENT ON MONETARY UNION WITH TAJIKISTAN. Russia's Acting Minister of Finance Sergei Dubinin was quoted by Interfax on 15 May as saying that Russia is not insisting on monetary unification with Tajikistan. In Dubinin's view, Tajikistan should introduce "national coupons" and finance its spending independently instead of relying on Russian loans. In early May Tajikistan's head of state, parliament chairman Imomali Rakhmonov, visited Moscow to discuss the monetary union which, if Dubinin's remarks are indicative of Russian government thinking, is apparently desired more by the Tajik than the Russian side. Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc. CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE MUSLIMS AND CROATS WRAP UP PACT ON FEDERATION. International media reported on 14 May that a ceremony took place in Geneva to mark the agreement between the two parties to the new Bosnian federation, which was launched through a series of declarations signed in Washington in February and in March. The pact includes provisions for dividing top government jobs and for drawing the borders of the new cantons. The trickiest aspect proved to be setting up arrangements for central Bosnia and Mostar, which both sides claim, but eventually it was decided to establish two multi-ethnic cantons, one based on Travnik and the other on the Herzegovinian capital. The pact calls for the new federation to include 58% of the entire republic's territory, while the agreement drawn up by Western allies and Russia on 13 May gives it only 51%. AFP says that, as a result of this discrepancy, there was no formal signing of the Muslim-Croat document. Meanwhile, Reuters reported on 14 May from Sarajevo that the Muslims and Croats have set up a joint command headed by Generals Fikret Muslimovic and Ante Roso, respectively. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. WESTERN ALLIES AND RUSSIA AGREE ON BOSNIAN STRATEGY . . . International media reported on 13 May that a meeting of foreign ministers in Geneva had produced a coordinated and detailed framework for ending the Bosnian conflict. The United States, Russia, the EU, Germany, Britain, France, Belgium, and Greece participated. The 14 May Los Angeles Times noted that "they produced a three-page statement that emphasized their determination to convene peace talks, spelled out basic terms for a settlement, artfully glossed over some of the issues that have divided them in the past, and did not say what they would do if any of the Bosnian factions failed to respond. Their statement calls for a settlement that divides Bosnia into two republics--one Serb, one a Muslim-Croat federation--with an undefined constitutional link." Sanctions on Serbia-Montenegro could be lifted in stages as the agreement fell into place. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. . . . BUT THE MUSLIMS AND SERBS ARE SKEPTICAL. RFE/RL's Balkan Service reported on 15 May that the Muslims slammed the agreement as rewarding ethnic cleansing and as solidifying Serb gains by providing for a cease-fire of at least four months. The Serbs, for their part, felt they are being asked to give up too much, and want an indefinite cease-fire. The 15 May Los Angeles Times quotes one US official as acknowledging that there are problems in pushing for a settlement without any clear threat of intervention or other direct pressure, but he concluded that "we have to give it a shot." Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. MUSLIMS GAIN GROUND NEAR TUZLA. The BBC reported on 15 May that Muslim forces have been gaining territory at Serb expense after three days of fighting in northeastern Bosnia. The Muslims are probing the weak spots of the over-extended Serb forces and knocked out a television tower on a hilltop. The UN fears that the two sides may settle down to a long-term low-level conflict and prove unwilling to negotiate seriously. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. IRAN AND CROATIA DENY WEAPONS STORY. International media reported on 13 May that Tehran and Zagreb have denied a Washington Post story that an Iranian air force plane had delivered a least 60 tons of explosives to Zagreb on 4 May. The Post said that the Bosnian Croats took a cut and that the materials then moved on to Muslim lines. Meanwhile in Geneva, on 13 May AFP said that Islamic nations are ready to send peace-keepers to Bosnia if European nations withdraw. Patrick Moore, RFE/RL, Inc. PATRIARCH ALEXEI VISITS RUMP YUGOSLAVIA. On 14 May international media began coverage of the five-day visit by Patriarch Alexei, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, to the former Yugoslavia. Alexei, who began his trip in Belgrade, travels to Montenegro and Bosnia's capital of Sarajevo and is slated to meet with Russian peace keepers, as well as ranking Serbian politicians and religious leaders. On 14 May Reuters quoted Alexei as saying that one of his major aims is to "help the reconciliation of the peoples of former Yugoslavia." In other news, on 14-15 May Nedeljna borba carried excerpts of an interview with Andras Agoston, leader of the ethnic Hungarian party in Serbia's parliament, the Democratic Community of Hungarians in Vojvodina. In the interview, Agoston expressed optimism that Serbia's province of Vojvodina, home to the majority of rump Yugoslavia's ethnic Hungarian minority, will eventually attain autonomy. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. HUNGARIAN SOCIALISTS REITERATE COALITION OFFER. In his first public speech since his car accident ten days ago, Hungarian Socialist Party Chairman Gyula Horn said on 15 May his party was still thinking in terms of a coalition rather than one-party rule, MTI reports. Even if it should win an absolute majority in the second round of the elections on 29 May, the HSP was ready to join forces with "all democratic forces" as well as individuals and movements belonging to no party who did not "compromise themselves" with the ruling Hungarian Democratic Forum, Horn said. According to Horn, coalition talks could successfully be completed within one month after 29 May; should the HSP get the most votes, it should logically provide the next prime minister, he added. Alfred Reisch, RFE/RL, Inc. POLISH GOVERNMENT REPORTS ON STRIKES. Industry Minister Marek Pol told the Sejm on 13 May that most of the strikes held in recent weeks were technically illegal, Gazeta Wyborcza reports. Strikes in brown-coal mines threatened national security, he noted. Pol pledged that the government will fulfill agreements with the unions but stressed that payment for strike days is out of the question. The unions that organized the strikes must cover their costs, Pol said. In the debate that followed, many deputies from the ruling Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) criticized Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak. They charged that Pawlak's inconsistency on economic policy had encouraged the strikes. Pawlak was not present for the debate. Deputies from Pawlak's Polish Peasant Party in turn compared striking miners unfavorably to Polish farmers, "who have not used strike methods to withhold production." The Sejm accepted the government's report by a vote of 193 to 49, with 13 abstentions. Solidarity leader Marian Krzaklewski charged that Pol's report reflected the government's "confrontational" stance. A Solidarity spokesman threatened to launch a "second stage" of national protest should the government fail to open bilateral talks with the union, PAP reports. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. CZECHS AND SLOVAKS AGREE ON BORDER REGIME. During a meeting on 13 May in the Slovak town of Trencianske Teplice, Slovak and Czech Interior Ministers Ladislav Pittner and Jan Ruml, respectively, agreed on a common border regime, CTK and TASR reported. The ministers confirmed conclusions of a border commission which recommended that two villages (U Sabotu and Sidonie) would not be split between the countries. The implementation of measures to speed up customs clearance on the Slovak side will begin on 18 May and should be completed by the end of the month, Pittner said. Because of limited funds, the border will be installed only at those sections where the greatest probability of illegal crossings exists. Concerning the archives of the former Federal Intelligence Service, the two ministers agreed on their joint use until a complete set of certified documents can be handed over to the Slovak Intelligence Service. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. SLOVAK ECONOMIC UPDATE. On 12 May Slovak Statistical Office Chairman Stefan Condik reported on economic developments for the first quarter of 1994. In the first quarter of 1994 the inflation rate fell to a monthly average of 0.9%. Slovakia's trade deficit fell to only 35 million koruny in March, thanks to the implementation of an import surcharge. In the first quarter of 1994, foreign investment rose by 723 million koruny (6.7%) since the last quarter of 1993. Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic and the US remained the biggest investors. The share of private sector activity was 24.5% in industry, 59.3% in construction, 85.8% in commerce and 52% in transport. Economy Minister Peter Magvasi announced on 12 March that projects are being evaluated for coupon privatization, and 35 billion koruny worth of property has already been selected. Privatization Minister Milan Janicina said that at least 80 to 100 billion koruny worth of property should be sold in the next round of coupon privatization. During a meeting on 14 May, the cabinet approved a proposal to set the price of a coupon book at 700 koruny for citizens born in 1934 or earlier and at 1000 koruny for all others. On 11 May the coalition council discussed raising the VAT on certain goods from 6% to 25%. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. UDF HOLDS CONFERENCE. In the midst of a serious government crisis, Bulgaria's opposition Union of Democratic Forces held its 6th National Conference on 14 and 15 May. Demokratsiya reports on 16 May that the coalition reiterated its position that only early elections can set the country on the right path and that reorganizations of the current cabinet of Lyuben Berov would only represent futile attempts to halt the deepening political and economic crisis. Regarding its internal structures, the delegates approved a proposal to centralize powers with the National Conference and the National Coordinating Council--thus depriving the parliamentary caucus of its veto right--and to ban the children of former top communist officials from holding positions in the NCC or the UDF's regional and municipal executives. Similarly, if the coalition returns to power, it will not allow the same category of persons to join the government, the National Assembly, or the political leadership of regions and municipalities. On 13 May UDF Chairman Filip Dimitrov for the first time in over a year met with President Zhelyu Zhelev, which seems to indicate that relations between the two are warming up after a long period of hostility. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc. IMF APPROVES CREDITS FOR ROMANIA. The International Monetary Fund approved on 11 May credits for Romania totaling about $454 million, an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington and Radio Bucharest reported. The Fund's Executive Board approved a loan of about $267 million out of its special facility for nations in transformation, as well as a regular stand-by arrangement which will allow Bucharest to draw up to about $187 million over the next 19 months. The second half of the special transformation loan, another $267 million, will be made available if Romania's economic reform and stabilization efforts make sufficient progress. In announcing the loans, the IMF said the Romanian government will have to "press ahead vigorously" to meet the goals agreed with the fund. The Romanian government issued a declaration welcoming the approval of the credits. Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc. ROMANIA AND EUROPE. The president of the European Parliament, Egon Klepsch, is paying a visit to Romania this week. Romanian media say Klepsch will hold talks on Romania's integration into European political and economic structures and the country's reform program. A delegation from Romania's parliament is in Warsaw to participate in this week's (16 to 18 May) session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. During the session, assembly deputies will discuss Romania's compliance with council commitments on human rights and democratic reform. Michael Shafir, RFE/RL, Inc. MOLDOVAN FOREIGN MINISTER ON RUSSIAN POLICY. Moldova's new Foreign Minister, Mihai Popov, told Moldovan TV on 14 May as cited by Basapress that the country hopes to "cooperate with a democratic Russia which should see in Moldova a responsible and correct partner . . . Any political intimidation and economic pressure should be excluded from this relationship. We do not accept statements suggesting that near abroad states' must become satellites of Russia." Popov reiterated Moldova's demand for an "unconditional, early, and full withdrawal" of Russian troops from Moldova. Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. KEBICH SAYS MONETARY UNION MAY NOT COME OFF IF HE LOSES ELECTION. On 13 May ITAR-TASS reported that the Belarusian Prime Minister Vyacheslau Kebich said that the Russian-Belarusian monetary union may not come off if he fails to win the presidential election. Kebich also insisted that the union in no way infringed upon Belarusian sovereignty and was in the country's best interest. In other news, Belarusian radio reported on 12 May that the leader of the centrist Party of Popular Accord, Henadz Karpenka, succeeded in collecting over 70 signatures from parliamentary deputies in support of his candidacy for president placing him on the 23 June slate along with Kebich, the leader of the Party of Communists of Belarus, Vasil Novikau, and the leader of the Belarusian Popular Front opposition, Zyanon Paznyak. Karpenka also collected 96,000 signatures from Belarusian citizens. The signature campaigns ended on 15 May. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. KRAVCHUK ON DISARMAMENT. Ukrainian radio reported on 14 May that President Leonid Kravchuk stated that 180 nuclear warheads have been removed from Ukraine to Russia. He added that as the process of disarmament is proceeding according to plan, by the end of May all US missiles aimed at Ukraine will be recoded and Ukraine will cease being targeted by American warheads. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. RADETSKY DENIES TROOP BUILDUP IN CRIMEA. On 13 May Interfax reported that the Ukrainian defense minister, Vitalii Radetsky, denied that Ukraine was building-up its forces in Crimea. In an earlier report the Chairman of the Russian State Duma's Commission on Commonwealth Affairs, Konstantin Zatulin, said that Kiev had deployed some 50,000 troops in the peninsula, most of these being residents from Western Ukraine. According to Radetsky this number corresponds to all forces in Crimea including the Black Sea Fleet, police forces, spetsnaz units and paramilitary guards. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIA TO START DISMANTLING PALDISKI REACTORS? German media reported on 14 May that Russian representatives had told Western nuclear energy experts at a meeting in Stockholm that Russia would dismantle soon--possibly by the end of 1995--the two nuclear reactors in the former Soviet naval base in Paldiski, Estonia. These experts also formed the Paldiski International Expert Reference Group, and chose as its leader Jan Olof Snihs from Sweden. BNS reported on 12 May that Estonia was becoming concerned over Russia's delay in starting the actual dismantling, earlier scheduled to begin on 15 May. Meanwhile, the Commander of Russia's Baltic Fleet, Admiral Vladimir Yegorov, could not visit Estonia on 12 May as planned because Tallinn had not issued the required permit. Estonian officials say that the Russian embassy had informed them of Yegorov's intent only two days earlier, whereas international practice calls for at least fifteen-days' notice for such visits. Russia's military attache in Tallinn, Anatolii Chizhikov, claimed that Estonia and Russia had agreed earlier to a five-day notice. He said that Yegorov's visit was connected to the withdrawal of Russian naval forces from Estonia. Furthermore, both Estonia and Latvia had not granted visas to Yegorov's entourage of 10 journalists. BNS and Interfax of 12 and 14 May did not specify whether Yegorov also intended to visit Latvia. Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc. BALTIC ASSEMBLY WANTS RUSSIA TO REMOVE PRESSURE FROM ESTONIA. During a three-day meeting in Jurmala, the Baltic Assembly urged Russia to stop "psychological pressure" on Estonia and to remove its troops from there by 31 August, as planned previously. The parliamentarians from the three states said that they regarded any threat or form of pressure against one of the Baltic States as a threat against all of them. They also called on the European states to condemn the use of ethnic minority problems as a means of political pressure against their countries. Russia has often linked its relations with the Baltic States to demands for changes in the treatment of ethnic Russians living in the Baltics, Russian and Baltic media reported on 15 May. Dzintra Bungs, RFE/RL, Inc. [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Vladimir Socor and Michael Shafir 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. This report is also available by postal mail, as are the other publications of the Institute, and by fax. RFE/RL NEWS BRIEFS, an edited compendium of items first published in the Daily Report, is distributed along with the RFE/RL RESEARCH REPORT, a weekly journal providing topical analyses of political, economic and security developments throughout the Institute's area of interest. Longer analyses are available in a monograph series, RFE/RL STUDIES, and brief analytic summaries appear monthly in the RESEARCH BULLETIN. 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