|Absence makes the heart grow fonder. -|
No. 106, 7 June 1994
RUSSIA YELTSIN SAYS D-DAY EXCLUSION UNIMPORTANT. President Boris Yeltsin told reporters on 6 June that Russia's exclusion from the celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the D-Day landing was unimportant, because it will not interfere with present Russian-Western cooperation, Russian Television reported. Yeltsin added that Western allies were not invited to Russian 50th anniversary celebrations of Soviet victories around the cities of Stalingrad and Kursk. Yeltsin was commenting on criticism within Russia of the Western allies' decision not to include representatives of the former USSR in ceremonies marking the 6 June Normandy landing. Vera Tolz, RFE/RL, Inc. FILATOV DENIES PREPARATION OF DECREE ON FOREIGN BANKS. In an interview with Interfax on 6 June Chief of the President's administration Sergei Filatov denied that President Yeltsin was preparing a decree governing the operation of foreign banks in Russia. Filatov said a decree on improving Russia's banking system was being prepared, but this decree did not mention foreign banks. Filatov's remarks were made in reaction to comments last week by the chairman of the Russian Central Bank, Viktor Gerashchenko, who said he expected by 8 June a presidential decree reducing restrictions on the operation of foreign banks in Russia. Restrictions on foreign banks were imposed by a presidential decree in November 1993 in an attempt to protect Russian commercial banks from competition. This decree among other things barred foreign banks from dealing with Russian customers. Vera Tolz, RFE/RL, Inc. FILATOV ACCUSES DUDAEV OF HAMPERING EFFORTS TO HOLD TALKS. On 6 June the head of the President's administration, Sergei Filatov, accused Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev of destroying hopes of talks between Dudaev and Yeltsin by his recent anti-Russian statements, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. Filatov stated that Dudaev's behavior was strange in that it was Dudaev who had requested talks with Yeltsin. It is not the first time, however, that Dudaev has in effect ditched talks between Chechnya and Russia when they seemed about to get off the ground. Filatov said that Dudaev constantly needed a prop for his image of unbending leader of Chechnya and had been trying to use a meeting with Yeltsin for this purpose, but in the end had fallen back on the usual stereotype of seeking an enemy in the person of Russia. Filatov added that the search for ways to start talks with Chechnya would continue. Ann Sheehy, RFE/RL, Inc. KHASBULATOV BANNED FROM CHECHNYA. A joint meeting of the Chechen government, parliament, and security council has stripped Ruslan Khasbulatov, the former speaker of the Russian parliament, Doku Zavgaev, the last first secretary of the Chechen-Ingush oblast party committee, and Yaragi Mamodaev, the head of the government of people's trust not recognized by Dudaev, of their right to reside in Chechnya, Interfax reported on 6 June. The joint session adopted a resolution accusing the leaders of the Chechen opposition of drafting plans in conjunction with the Russian leadership to eliminate independent Chechnya. At the same time, Interfax was told by a Chechen presidential official that the Chechen government, parliament, and security council had advised Dudaev to demand the extradition from Russia of Khasbulatov, Zavgaev, and two other opposition leaders. That Khasbulatov could make a political comeback via Chechnya is of concern not only to Dudaev but also to the Yeltsin administration. Ann Sheehy, RFE/RL, Inc. SOLZHENITSYN ON HIS IMPRESSIONS OF RUSSIA. In an interview with Interfax on 4 June, Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said his impressions after being back in Russia for just over a week were about what he had expected. "Each territory has its difficulties, but all of them mirror common Russian problems--first of all, instability," he told the agency. The Nobel Prize winner said, however, that his talks with many people left him optimistic that the problems could be overcome. On 4 June, Solzhenitsyn, who is on a train journey from Vladivostok across Siberia and through the Urals to Moscow, had a stopover in the Far Eastern city of Khabarovsk. On 6 June, President Yeltsin told reporters in Moscow that he wanted to meet Solzhenitsyn to discuss the writer's thoughts on the future of Russia, ITAR-TASS reported. Vera Tolz, RFE/RL, Inc. SHUMEIKO ADDED TO SECURITY COUNCIL. Vladimir Shumeiko, chairman of the Russian Federation Council, has been made a member of the Russian Security Council, Russian Television reported on 6 June. Shumeiko's counterpart in the State Duma, Ivan Rybkin, was named to the Council on 24 May. The Security Council now has 13 members. Interfax reported on 6 June that the next meeting of the Council, to be held on 8 June, will be devoted to questions related to Russia's borders. The question of sending peacekeeping forces to Abkhazia, a move that was defeated in the Federation Council on 2 June by one vote, may also be discussed. Suzanne Crow, RFE/RL, Inc. COMPROMISE ON DEFENSE BUDGET? According to an AFP report of 6 June, the speaker of the State Duma, Ivan Rybkin, has suggested that the defense budget could be increased from the currently planned figure of 37 trillion rubles, but not to the 55 trillion level allocated by the Federation Council in its budget deliberations. Rybkin noted that most of the increase would go to "military-related scientific work" that could also be useful for conversion. On a related note, an RFE/RL correspondent in Moscow reports that Boris Yeltsin is planning to hold a new round of talks this week with parliamentary leaders to discuss the impasse over the budget. Yeltsin has reportedly supported the defense ministry's request for increased funds and therefore may push for a sum closer to that proposed by the military. John Lepingwell, RFE/RL, Inc. RUSSIA, MALAYSIA FINALIZE MiG DEAL. A Russian delegation led by First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets finalized the long awaited sale of 18 MiG-29 jet fighters to Malaysia on 7 June, ITAR-TASS and Western agencies reported from Kuala Lumpur. The sale was estimated at more than $500 million, roughly a quarter of which will be paid by Malaysia in palm oil. The first aircraft is to be delivered in April 1995. The deal represents a significant breakthrough for Russia's troubled defense sector. Southeast Asia is one of the fastest growing arms markets in the world, but the region's strong anti-communist past and reliance on Western weapons systems had hindered Moscow's efforts, as had disorganization in Russia's sales efforts. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. ARMS SALE TO BRAZIL. In another breakthrough for Russian arms dealers, Brazil has signed a contract for the purchase of about 110 shoulder-held ground-to-air Igla ("Needle") missiles and launchers, to be delivered by the end of 1994, Reuters reported on 6 June. The deal, said to be part of a $2 billion trade accord signed last year, is the first arms purchase that Brazil has made from Russia. The two countries also agreed to station military attaches in each other's capital cities, the report said. Stephen Foye, RFE/RL, Inc. TRANCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA CONTINUING CONFUSION OVER PEACEKEEPERS FOR ABKHAZIA. In his weekly radio address on 6 June, Georgian parliament Chairman Eduard Shevardnadze stated that he had been informed by telephone by Russian President Yeltsin that the question of deploying CIS peacekeeping forces in Abkhazia "is practically solved" and that details of the operation are currently being clarified, Reuters and Interfax reported. Russian Deputy Defense Minister Georgii Kondratev, who is responsible for the Russian peacekeeping force, characterized the situation in Abkhazia as explosive and argued for the swiftest possible deployment of peacekeeping troops. Ekho Moskvy radio on 6 June cited Dzhaba Ioseliani, head of the Georgian delegation to the talks on a settlement of the Abkhaz conflict, as claiming that the deployment of Russian peacekeeping troops in Abkhazia had begun that day. Meanwhile the Abkhaz Embassy in Moscow adduced the delay in deploying a peacekeeping force along the border between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia as grounds for postponing for six days the UN-sponsored talks on a political solution to the Abkhaz conflict that were due to open in Geneva on 9 June, Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported. Liz Fuller, RFE/RL, Inc. PRESS FREEDOM IN KAZAKHSTAN. On 6 June Kazakhstan's State Prosecutor Zharmakhan Tuyakbaev formally warned the country's information media that publication or broadcast of materials that would stir up interethnic tensions is strictly forbidden, ITAR-TASS reported. Tuyakbaev complained that certain media have been "misusing the freedom of the press," and his office has been obliged to issue warnings, but some media continue to stir up interethnic differences, he asserted. The only specific example cited of using information media to stir up interethnic tensions was the accusation of members of the Kazakh intelligentsia that poet and politician Olzhas Suleimenov abandoned the interests of his own people when during the recent parliamentary election campaign he proposed the creation of a confederation of Russia and Kazakhstan. Bess Brown, RFE/RL, Inc. TAJIK OPPOSITION DENIES CHARGES. In a statement released on 6 June, the Tajik opposition in exile rejected charges that it was responsible for the recent assassinations of Russian officers in Dushanbe. The statement, signed by the leader of the Islamic opposition, and former religious leader of Tajikistan, Ali Akbar Turadzhonzoda, instead blamed the incidents on "intrigues by the forces which are not interested in resolving the conflict peacefully," according to Interfax. The opposition also criticized Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Anatolii Adamishin for comments he made last week, accusing it of increasing its demands before the next round of peace talks. Turadzhonzoda's statement said Adamishin's remarks "conflicted with the truth," since the opposition has not departed from its initial proposals of December 1993, and called on Russia to be more neutral if it wishes to retain any legitimacy as a mediator in the conflict. Keith Martin, RFE/RL, Inc. CIS RUSSIAN-MOLDOVAN TROOP TALKS RESUME. The ninth round of bilateral negotiations on the status and terms of withdrawal of Russia's 14th Army from Moldova begins on 7 June in Moscow. Under way since 1992, the talks have failed to produce agreement on a start of the withdrawal by 1 July 1994 as Moldova had demanded. Russia now links the withdrawal to a grant of de facto sovereignty to the "Dniester Republic," unacceptable to Moldova and at variance with a CSCE plan for autonomy which Moldova has accepted. In the preliminaries to the ninth round, Moscow again rejected Moldova's proposal that CSCE observers attend the talks. Moldovan officials have told Basapress in recent days that they will now demand financial compensation for the 14th Army's use of Moldovan land and resources since 1 April 1992 when the Russian Federation assumed jurisdiction over that army. Vladimir Socor, RFE/RL, Inc. CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE BOSNIA CEASEFIRE TALKS BEGIN. On 6 and 7 June international media report that Bosnia ceasefire talks, delayed for several days because of Bosnian Muslim objections to the presence of Bosnian Serb forces around the Muslim enclave of Gorazde, opened on 6 June. UN envoy Yasushi Akashi met with representatives of the Bosnian Muslim government and the new Bosnian Muslim-Croat federation, while meeting separately with Bosnian Serb delegates. Media accounts stress that currently the parties are divided by a disagreement over the length of a ceasefire truce. While the Muslim side has dropped demands for a 100 kilometer exclusion zone for heavy weapons in central Bosnia, it continues to press for a temporary, four-week ceasefire. Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic is reportedly pressing for a permanent ceasefire. Reuters and AFP report that the new president of the Muslim-Croat federation, Kresimir Zubak, is refusing to agree to any permanent ceasefire deal for fear that such an arrangement could freeze existing military borders, leaving the Bosnian Serb side in control of about 70% of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Meanwhile, Akashi has tabled a proposal for a four-month ceasefire. Talks are to resume 7 June. Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. SERBIAN CHURCH PRESSES MACEDONIAN CHURCH. In a second ultimatum sent to the Macedonian Church leaders on 6 June, the Serbian Orthodox Church's Holy Synod has demanded that the Macedonian Church "reenter the church canon establishment," according to MILS. The Macedonian Church, established as an autocephalous church in 1967, has been regarded by many Macedonians as an affirmation of their national identity. Serbian efforts to force it under the Serbian Church jurisdiction may be part of a strategy to undermine Macedonian independence. Meanwhile in New York, UN Secretary Boutros-Boutros Ghali presented a report to the Security Council detailing the Greek-Macedonian negotiations. Talks begin again on 13 June. Duncan Perry, RFE/RL, Inc. ROMANIAN PREMIER IN ZAGREB. On 6 June Romania's Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu started a three-day official visit to Croatia, Radio Bucharest reports. Vacaroiu is heading a large delegation, including Transports Minister Aurel Novac, Trade Minister Cristian Ionescu, Health Minister Iulian Mincu, secretaries of state at various departments, as well as businessmen and journalists. Vacaroiu, who met his Croatian counterpart Nikola Valentic, is scheduled to see President Franjo Tudjman and other senior Croatian officials. Talks are expected to focus on ways to boost bilateral economic relations. HINA reported that during their meeting, Vacaroiu and Valentic broached the topic of opening a free trade zone in the port city of Rijeka, and tentatively agreed to open talks on coordinating trade policy vis-a-vis third markets. Several agreements, including one on protecting mutual investments, are expected to be signed during the visit. Dan Ionescu and Stan Markotich, RFE/RL, Inc. ROAD SIGN LAW TO BE PASSED BEFORE SLOVAK ELECTIONS? At an extraordinary session of the coalition council on 6 June, the issue of the road sign law, which the parliament failed to pass by one vote on 3 June, was debated, TASR and CTK reported. Premier Jozef Moravcik said that the coalition partners and the two ethnic Hungarian parties represented in the parliament are working on a new agreement concerning the road sign bill, which could be ready as early as 8 June. Bela Bugar, chairman of the Hungarian Christian Democratic Movement, confirmed Moravcik's statement and expressed his readiness to find the solution. Noting that all political parties in the parliament have already agreed on the need for bilingual road signs, Moravcik expressed his belief that the parliament will pass the law during the current election period. Moravcik said the ethnic Hungarian parties will continue to support the government. Sharon Fisher, RFE/RL, Inc. HUNGARIAN PRESIDENT ASKS HORN TO FORM GOVERNMENT. Arpad Goncz told a news conference on 6 June that Hungarian Socialist Party (HSP) chairman Gyula Horn accepted the offer to be nominated as the new prime minister. Goncz said that he expects the new parliament to convene on 28 June, at which time he will officially announce Horn's nomination. HSP, the party of the former reform communists, won the absolute majority in the May national elections, and a special party congress on 4 June confirmed Horn as the party's nominee to lead the new government. Although the HSP has enough mandates to form a government alone, the party's leadership offered a coalition to the liberal Alliance of Free Democrats in an effort to broaden its base of support. The AFD accepted the offer and coalition talks are to begin on 7 June. Edith Oltay, RFE/RL, Inc. WALESA, MITTERRAND HONOR POLISH SOLDIERS. Polish President Lech Walesa and his French counterpart Francois Mitterrand laid wreaths at the Polish military cemetery in Urville-Langannerie on 6 June, in ceremonies marking Poland's contribution to the Normandy invasion. Most of the 650 Polish soldiers buried at the cemetery fought in Gen. Stanislaw Maczek's First Armored Division, which numbered over 16,000 men. Most fell in the battle of Falaise. Maczek, who is now 102, sent a message praising Polish veterans. Polish TV broadcast the ceremonies live. The TV commentary reflected a mixture of pride that Poland had finally been included in Allied commemorations and bitterness that the country had so long been denied its rightful place in the victors' camp. The commander of the Polish navy, Admiral Romuald Waga, told PAP on 6 June that the Partnership for Peace program has its roots in the Normandy invasion. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. NEW TWIST IN POLISH VETERANS' SCANDAL. As these sober commemorations were underway in France, the mishaps that plagued ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of the battle of Monte Cassino in May continued to cast a pall in Warsaw. Stefan Sulimierski, the owner of the Mazovia travel agency that botched arrangements for thousands of elderly veterans, landed in the intensive care section of a military hospital on 4 June. Sulimierski claimed to have fallen victim to a knife attack the previous evening in the toilet of a train bound for Szklarska Poreba. Doctors refused to give details of the incident but denied rumors that the wounds were self-inflicted. On 14 May Sulimierski had disappeared from Rome with $40,000 in cash; he claimed later to have been kidnapped to Tunisia. Slovak and Italian tour operators have since turned up in Warsaw--the Slovaks with bodyguards--to demand repayment from Mazovia. The prosecutor's office is investigating charges that Mazovia embezzled funds from veterans. Louisa Vinton, RFE/RL, Inc. BSP CONGRESS REELECTS LEADERSHIP . . . On 6 June the 749 delegates attending the 41st congress of the Bulgarian Socialist Party reelected as Chairman Jean Videnov and appointed another 106 Socialists as members of the Supreme Council. In the election to the council, Videnov himself received the broadest support of all candidates, with 642 votes against 75. The elections of Yanaki Stoilov and Valeri Petrov were almost equally uncontroversial, while Videnov's still influential predecessor Aleksandar Lilov had to settle for being approved by 543 votes to 174. Meanwhile, ex-Premier Andrey Lukanov and four well-known BSP moderates lost their positions in the body. The votes were taken after several hours of delays due to procedural complications as well as to protracted discussions about the different candidacies. Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc. . . . AND CALLS FOR EARLY ELECTIONS. According to DPA reports on 7 June, the congress concluded on 6 June with the passage of a resolution calling for early elections. The congress resolved that the BSP's continued support for Prime Minister Lyuben Berov's non-partisan government will be contingent on the government's composition and policies after an impending shuffle, and the BSP will not press for elections until after the government has implemented the next stage of its reform plan and concluded a debt-restructuring deal with Western banks. Initially, the congress was scheduled to have ended on 5 June. Stan Markotich and Kjell Engelbrekt, RFE/RL, Inc. FRENCH DEFENSE MINISTER IN ROMANIA. On 2 and 3 June Francois Leotard paid an official visit to Romania, Radio Bucharest reported. Leotard held talks with his Romanian counterpart Gheorghe Tinca and Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu. The discussions focused on ways to improve bilateral military cooperation, as well as on issues related to regional and European security. Leotard, who was also received by President Ion Iliescu, said at a press conference that France wants to boost military cooperation with Romania. He singled out aircraft, anti-aircraft weapons, anti-tank technology and military communications as major areas for possible cooperation. Leotard also proposed a joint exercise by the French and Romanian navies. He further answered questions referring to the conflict in former Yugoslavia and to the so-called Balladur plan for stability in Europe. Dan Ionescu, RFE/RL, Inc. ANDREJEVS OFFERS RESIGNATION AS MINISTER AND DEPUTY. On 6 June the Latvian Foreign Ministry issued a statement announcing that Georgs Andrejevs had sent letters of resignation to Prime Minister Valdis Birkavs and Saeima chairman Anatolijs Gorbunovs, the RFE/RL Latvian Service reports. He was one of five deputies whose mandates the Saeima had suspended on 27 April, after charges of collaboration with the KGB were made. Andrejevs admitted that he had begun working for the KGB in 1963, but said that he had not committed any crime. In a press release, he said that under current circumstance, "a sizable number of citizens who are loyal to the idea of Latvian independence--mostly representatives of the intelligentsia--may be barred from taking part in building our country." Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. LITHUANIA, ESTONIA NEAR EU TRADE ACCORDS. On 6 June Lithuanian President Algirdas Brazauskas said that a treaty on free trade between Lithuania and the European Union would be initialed on 27 June, Interfax reports. He expressed the hope that Lithuania would become an associate member of the EU this year. At a press conference in Tallinn Estonia's chief negotiator with the EU Priit Kolbre, said that almost all issues, except for textiles, had been settled in the last round of talks on 2-3 June in Brussels with the EU. He thought that the differences could be settled and that a free trade treaty would be initialed in late June or early July. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. ESTONIA EASES TRAVEL FOR FOREIGNERS. On 6 June Population Minister Peeter Olesk told a press conference that President Lennart Meri had signed a law approving temporary travel documents for noncitizens, BNS reports. The government is now drafting rules for travel documents that would allow about a half million foreigners who have Estonian residence and work permits or are registered as permanent residents to leave and return to Estonia once every six months. The travel document, however, will not be used as a domestic identity card. Saulius Girnius, RFE/RL, Inc. KRAVCHUK EDGES KUCHMA IN PRE-ELECTION POLL. In a poll of Ukraine's voters conducted at the end of May by the Kiev International Institute of Sociology, Leonid Kravchuk appears to have taken a lead over his strongest rival, former prime minister Leonid Kuchma, in the country's presidential race. Among respondents who said they definitely intended to vote on 26 June, 27% preferred Kravchuk; 20% preferred Kuchma; and 11% said they would cast their ballot for the socialist speaker of parliament, Oleksandr Moroz. Earlier polls conducted in April had given Kuchma the lead. Ivan Pliushch continues to have a surprisingly poor showing (only 4% would vote for him, according to the May poll results), despite predictions in the Ukrainian media that the contest would come down to Kuchma and Pliushch Jaroslaw Martyniuk and Kathy Mihalisko, RFE/RL, Inc. NORTH KOREAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN KIEV. The foreign minister of the DPRK, Kim Yong-Nam, arrived in Kiev on 6 June for an official visit, Ukrainian radio reported. During the visit Kim is to meet with Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk, parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Moroz, and foreign minister Anatolii Zlenko. Discussions are to focus on developing bilateral relations and economic cooperation. UNIAN reported Kim saying that the DPRK intended to become a nuclear-free state, but also dismissing threats of sanctions and international pressure as having any effects on its nuclear program. Pyongyang has denied that it attempts to develop atomic weapons, but refuses letting the International Atomic Energy Agency fully to inspect its nuclear sites. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. HEAD OF BELARUSIAN NATIONAL BANK CRITICIZES GOVERNMENT. The chairman of the Belarusian National Bank Stanislau Bahdankevich has sent a letter to the government critical of its credit policies, Belarusian radio reported on 6 June. According to the letter, the credit emission for 1994 that has been issued against the bank's recommendation is the reason that the Belarusian currency has been falling in value "without an end in sight." Bahdankevich had been critical of the agreement on monetary union with Russia. On 31 May Interfax reported that two supporters of the union, Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Soviet Ivan Bambiza and First Deputy Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich were placed by the government on the board of the Belarusian National Bank. Ustina Markus, RFE/RL, Inc. [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Bess Brown and Jan de Weydenthal 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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