|Words that open our eyes to the world are always the easiest to remember. - Ryszard Kapuscinski|
Vol 1, No. 27, Part I, 9 May 1997
Vol 1, No. 27, Part I, 9 May 1997 This is Part I of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Newsline. Part I is a compilation of news concerning Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia. Part II, covering Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe, is distributed simultaneously as a second document. Back issues of RFE/RL NewsLine are available through RFE/RL's WWW pages: http://www.rferl.org/newsline/search/ Back issues of the OMRI Daily Digest are available through OMRI's WWW pages: http://www.omri.cz/ xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part I * YELTSIN SAYS RUSSIAN-NATO CHARTER ´98% AGREED└ * RUSSIAN SECURITY COUNCIL ADOPTS NEW NATIONAL SECURITY GUIDELINES * ATTEMPT TO ASSASSINATE GEORGIAN LEADERS THWARTED? xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx RUSSIA YELTSIN SAYS RUSSIAN-NATO CHARTER ´98% AGREED.└ President Boris Yeltsin says a charter between Russia and NATO has been ´98% agreed└ and may be finalized at a meeting next week between Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov and NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana, Russian news agencies reported yesterday. However, he repeated that NATO ´must not deploy weapons and military hardware, especially nuclear [ones]└ in new member states. NATO officials have refused to make a binding pledge on deployments in new member states. Yeltsin said he may participate in the sixth round of talks between Primakov and Solana, adding that NATO┘s expansion plans are the ´most acute issue└ in U.S.-Russian relations since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. RUSSIAN SECURITY COUNCIL ADOPTS NEW NATIONAL SECURITY GUIDELINES. The Russian Security Council on 7 May adopted a four-part security concept detailing perceived potential threats to Russia--including economic crisis, social upheaval, and terrorism--and how to counter them. Yeltsin, who chaired the meeting, raised the possibility of "good cover in the East" as a response to NATO expansion, according to Reuters and AFP. The draft concept, which was summarized in a recent article by Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin in Nezavisimaya gazeta (see "Endnote," RFE/RL Newsline, 30 April 1997) has been criticized as too vague and for "failing to reflect Russia's social and philosophical roots", Izvestiya reported yesterday. UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT HOPEFUL ABOUT YELTSIN┘S UPCOMING VISIT. After meeting with Yeltsin yesterday in Moscow, Leonid Kuchma said the Russian president┘s upcoming visit to Kyiv ´will remove all the remaining obstacles and misunderstanding in our bilateral relations,└ ITAR-TASS reported. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin is to visit Ukraine on 28 May, and Yeltsin is tentatively scheduled to arrive in Kyiv two days later. Yeltsin has postponed visiting Ukraine repeatedly over the last several years, largely because of the continuing dispute over the division of the Black Sea Fleet. Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Valerii Nesterushkin yesterday confirmed that Moscow has no territorial claims on Sevastopol and is not seeking to change the city┘s status. Last month the Federation Council asked Yeltsin to consider pursuing a special international status for Sevastopol, where the Black Sea Fleet is based (see RFE/RL Newsline, 18 April 1997). LUZHKOV GIVEN LEEWAY ON HOUSING REFORM. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov and First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov are to present competing proposals on housing reform at a special cabinet meeting next week, Russian news agencies reported yesterday. That meeting will be chaired by Yeltsin. The announcement follows Yeltsin┘s decision during a 7 May meeting with Luzhkov to allow Moscow to carry out its own version of housing reform. In the early 1990s, Luzhkov was allowed to pursue his own privatization program in the capital, rather than that developed by First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais. JOURNALISTS CALL FOR INFORMATION BOYCOTT ON ZHIRINOVSKY. Vsevolod Bogdanov, chairman of the Union of Journalists, and Aleksei Simonov, head of the watchdog Glasnost Defense Foundation, have called on journalists ´to ignore the existence└ of Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), Russian news agencies reported yesterday. Zhirinovsky attacked two Moscow TV journalists yesterday after he was denied access to a wreath-laying ceremony at the Kremlin┘s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. He twisted the arms of one of the journalists before shoving her into his car. Luzhkov denounced Zhirinovsky┘s ´insulting, vulgar behavior└ and advised the journalists to sue the LDPR leader. Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov vowed to investigate why police on the scene did not intervene on the journalists┘ behalf. KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA EDITOR REPLACED. Holders of 98% of the shares in the daily Komsomolskaya pravda have voted to replace chief editor Valerii Simonov with Vladimir Sungorkin, previously chairman of the newspaper┘s board of directors, RFE/RL┘s Moscow bureau reported on 7 May. Sungorkin told RFE/RL that the paper would not be changed significantly and that only one or two journalists would be fired. In March, Sungorkin supported selling a 20% stake in Komsomolskaya pravda to Oneksimbank rather than to the gas monopoly Gazprom, as had been planned. Simonov opposed the measure, warning that the newspaper, one of the most popular Russian dailies, would lose its independence. ZYUGANOV SAYS BUDGET SEQUESTER IS ´ORGANIZATION OF FAMINE.└ Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov says the government┘s proposal to cut some 108 trillion rubles ($19 billion) in spending this year is tantamount to ´the organization of famine,└ Russian news agencies reported on 7 May. In particular, he objected to plans to cut agricultural subsidies by 55%. Zyuganov and some trade union leaders have called for printing more money to fill the budget gap rather than cutting spending. Government officials oppose such a measure, saying it would be inflationary. STATE OF EMERGENCY DECLARED IN VLADIVOSTOK. The Vladivostok city authorities declared a state of emergency yesterday as power cuts to enterprises and homes reached ´unprecedented└ levels, according to RFE/RL┘s correspondent in Vladivostok. Residents only have electricity for a few hours a day, and the power cuts have hit the Primorskii Krai administration building. The city┘s sewage system is also not functional, as there is not enough electricity to operate water pumps. Miners stopped shipping coal to power plants in Primore on 1 May (see RFE/RL Newsline, 6 May 1997). Although 43 billion rubles ($7.5 million) has since been paid out to cover their December wages, they have refused to resume coal shipments until wage arrears are paid in full. Primore┘s governor, Yevgenii Nazdratenko, yesterday appealed to the miners to remember their ´civic duty,└ ITAR-TASS reported. SAKHALIN GOVERNOR PROTESTS PLANS TO MOVE U.S. MARINES TO HOKKAIDO. Sakhalin Oblast Governor Igor Farkhutdinov says he will ask the governor of Japan┘s Hokkaido Island not to allow U.S. marines to be stationed there, Interfax reported yesterday. In an interview with the local newspaper Gubernskie novosti, Farkhutdinov described the plans to move some U.S. troops from Okinawa to Hokkaido as an attempt to station ´clearly offensive units closer to Russian borders.└ He said Russia has only border troops stationed in the disputed Kuril Islands but warned that if U.S. marines were moved to Hokkaido, ´we will work for the deployment of alternative Russian military formations in the Kuril Islands and Sakhalin.└ GOVERNMENT TO AUDIT NINE MAJOR COMPANIES. The government has ordered audits of nine companies in which it holds a controlling stake or the largest block of shares, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 May. The companies to be audited in 1997 are the gas monopoly Gazprom, the utility Unified Energy System, the coal company Rosugol, the oil companies Rosneft and Transneft, the insurance company Rosgosstrakh, the airline Aeroflot, Moscow┘s Sheremetevo airport, and the shipping company Sovkomflot. Regional branches of the Railways Ministry will also be audited. Government officials have vowed to more actively control state-owned shares in companies, particularly those that have large debts to the federal budget and Pension Fund. Private firms, to be selected by competitive bidding, will carry out the audits. MAN TO LEAD GOVERNMENT COMMISSION ON WOMEN. Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Sysuev has been appointed chairman of the government┘s special commission on improving the status of women, ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported on 7 May. Sysuev┘s spokeswoman, Svetlana Krystanovskaya, said he would ´balance out└ the women who form a majority on the commission. But a government spokeswoman commented that ´a woman would be in a better position to address these issues.└ The only woman in the cabinet is Health Minister Tatyana Dmitrieva. TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA ATTEMPT TO ASSASSINATE GEORGIAN LEADERS THWARTED? Georgian security services yesterday defused two anti-personnel land mines planted on the road from Tbilisi to the village of Tskhneta, where Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and parliamentary speaker Zurab Zhvania have summer homes, Russian agencies reported. Several thousand displaced persons from Abkhazia are also quartered in the village. Zhvania termed the placing of the explosives a further attempt on Shevardnadze's life, saying it was comparable to the failed bomb attack of August 1995. ALIEV ACCUSES TURKEY OF INSUFFICIENT SUPPORT... Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev has accused Turkey of inadequate financial support for Azerbaijan, Interfax and Asbarez reported, citing the Armenian-language Turkish newspaper Marmara. Addressing the Turkish parliament on 6 May, Aliev complained that Turkey's EximBank was demanding Azerbaijan pay interest on a $70 million credit drawn by the previous Azerbaijani leadership. He added that Ankara has refused a request for $117 million in aid and that Turkish companies are investing in Central Asia but not in Azerbaijan. Aliev called on Turkey not to expand trade with Armenia. He also implicated unnamed Turkish political figures in the so-called coup attempt of 17 March 1995. Democratic Left Party leader Bulent Ecevit responded by calling for an official investigation, the Turkish Daily News reported yesterday. ...AND THREATENS FORCE TO REGAIN OCCUPIED TERRITORY. Aliev told a meeting in Izmir on 7 May that if a peaceful settlement to the Karabakh conflict is not reached, "we will definitely take back our lands under occupation, whatever this will cost," AFP reported. (The Azerbaijani-Turkish agreement on military cooperation signed on 5 May does not provide for one side to assist the other during hostilities.) Several Azerbaijani troops were wounded in border clashes with Armenian troops near the town of Kazakh in northwestern Azerbaijan on 6-7 May, according to Turan. Also on 7 May, the director of an Armenian organization for the protection of prisoners of war told journalists in Yerevan that all of the eighteen Armenian prisoners released by Azerbaijan in recent weeks were maltreated or tortured, ARMENPRESS reported. ABKHAZ ROUNDUP. The UN Security Council has approved Secretary-General Kofi Annan's proposal that, together with Russia, the UN should expand its role in mediating a political settlement to the Abkhaz conflict, ITAR-TASS and dpa reported yesterday. But Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba told Interfax on 7 May that further talks with the Georgian leadership are "impossible" at the present time. Speaking to journalists in Tbilisi the same day, Georgian First Deputy Security Minister Avtandil Ioseliani denied reports that Ardzinba has visited Tbilisi to discuss dividing control of Abkhazia between the central government in Tbilisi and the separatist government in Sukhumi. Also on 7 May, the Georgian army held unannounced military exercises in Senaki Raion, which borders on Abkhazia. ANOTHER HOSTAGE-TAKING IN TAJIKISTAN. Three men sent to negotiate with an armed group operating east of Dushanbe were taken hostage on 7 May, UN sources told RFE/RL┘s Tajik service today. Two of the men were members of the Joint Commission monitoring the cease- fire in Tajikistan and the third was from the Tajik Security Council. They went to the village of Rokhati, nine kilometers east of Dushanbe, to discuss re-establishing militia posts there with the armed group's leader, who subsequently took them hostage. Two were released hours after their capture and a third was freed today after UN mediation. The United Tajik Opposition┘s leadership ordered the release of the final captive, according to UTO deputy leader Ali Akbar Turajonzoda. DECISION UPHELD AGAINST KYRGYZ NEWSPAPER. A Bishkek appeals court reviewing the case against Kriminal has stood by the original verdict to suspend the newspaper┘s publication, RFE/RL correspondents in Kyrgyzstan reported. The paper was accused of insulting government officials in its only two issues, which appeared at the beginning of this year. The Kyrgyz Justice Ministry filed suit against the newspaper, whose editor says he intends to appeal to the Supreme Court. The trial took place only days after Amnesty International released a report on Kyrgyzstan criticizing the use of Kyrgyz courts to silence political opposition. U.S.-based Freedom House on 3 May changed Kyrgyzstan┘s media status from ´partially free└ to ´not free.└ END NOTE THE PROBLEMATIC UKRAINIAN-ROMANIAN BASIC TREATY by Michael Shafir Predictably, the Ukrainian-Romanian basic treaty and its annexes have been almost unanimously welcomed in Kyiv but have met with opposition from many quarters in Bucharest. The reason for this is simple. Initialed on 3 May in Kyiv by Foreign Ministers Hennadii Udovenko and Adrian Severin, the treaty puts an end to Romanian hopes that a condemnation of the 1939 Ribbentrop-Molotov pact could be squeezed out of Kyiv. The secret appendix to that document paved the way for the 1940 annexation by the Soviet Union of territories that today are part of either Ukraine or the independent Moldovan Republic. Since 1993, when unofficial talks began on the basic treaty, Kyiv had made clear it would never accept any clause or formulation that questioned its current borders. In April of that year, former Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk told Adrian Nastase, then chairman of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies, that Ukraine was ready to discuss "anything but its human rights policies or questions related to its current borders." Kravchuk's successor, Leonid Kuchma, adhered to the same line on the border issue but was somewhat more amenable on "human rights." As a result, Ukraine agreed to include in the treaty a large section that includes many references to the rights of the national minorities in either country. References are made to international legislation on minority rights and even to Recommendation 1201 of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly. In view of these developments, Severin's position that the treaty is "a compromise" is largely accurate. Ironically, in reaching agreement with Kyiv over the basic treaty, Romania found itself in the same position as Hungary when Budapest concluded a bilateral treaty with Romania in September 1996. The Hungarian daily Nepszabadsag pointed out on 7 May that Budapest last year and Bucharest last week agreed to the recognition of "border inviolability" as enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act because they both want to be accepted into an enlarged NATO. The U.S. had made clear to Budapest that its chances of NATO admission would be virtually nil if Hungary's inclusion meant that border conflicts were imported into the alliance. Consequently, Budapest agreed to recognize the Hungarian-Romanian border as inviolable in exchange for mention of Recommendation 1201 in the bilateral treaty. Now, with an eye directed toward the NATO Madrid summit this summer, Bucharest has agreed to recognize the inviolability of its border with Ukraine in exchange for major concessions on minority rights. As was to be expected, the two extreme nationalist parties in Romania's parliament denounced the renunciation of what Romanians view as their historical territories of northern Bukovina and southern Bessarabia. The Greater Romania Party called the treaty an "act of treason," while the Party of Romanian National Unity demanded a referendum on the document. But, as Severin has pointed out, the Party of Social Democracy in Romania's (PDSR) response was "less than genuine." The PDSR, the former ruling party and now the main opposition formation, wants the Soviet-Nazi pact to be denounced in the treaty's annexes. But in 1990, Ion Iliescu, the former president and the current PDSR leader, had been ready to sign a treaty with the Soviet Union that made no mention of the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact. Gorbachev's Moscow was doubtless more legitimate an "inheritor" of the Soviet legacy than is Kuchma's Kyiv. By no means are all problems between the two countries resolved in the treaty. But in the annexes to the treaty (scheduled to be exchanged in the form of letters when the accord is signed), the two sides did agree to continue negotiations on demarcating the continental shelf around Serpents Island in the Black Sea, which was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1946 and is now a military fortress. The shelf surrounding the island is believed to be rich in oil reserves. While not agreeing to return the island, Ukraine pledged to deploy no "offensive weapons" on it and agreed to consider it "uninhabited," which, under international maritime legislation, means that Kyiv cannot claim an exclusive economic zone around it. The two sides agreed to take the issue to the Hague International Court of Justice if they fail to reach a compromise within two years. Finally, although Ukraine did not give into Romania's demands that the joint border on the Chilia branch of the Danube River delta be moved to the middle of the river--in accordance with international practice--Kyiv did agreed to allow free navigation of Romanian vessels on that branch of the river. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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