True heroism consists not in fighting under a flag but in not fighting at all. - Freidrich Nietzsche
RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 243, 02 January 1991



BALTIC STATES

BALTIC

LITHUANIA VOTES FOR UNCONDITIONAL NEGOTIATIONS WITH USSR. On
December 28 the Lithuanian Supreme Council decided to withdraw
its demand that the USSR and Lithuania sign a special protocol
outlining the goals and conditions for future negotiations on
Lithuanian independence. President Vytautas Landsbergis told
the parliament: "Until now, the Soviet side did not want negotiations,
but now at least it will become clear whether the USSR is willing
to negotiate with Lithuania." The Soviet authorities have not
yet responded or announced who will replace Prime Minister Nikolai
Ryzhkov as head of the Soviet negotiating team. (Saulius Girnius)


ENDING OF MILITARY PATROLS IN KLAIPEDA. On December 26 TASS quoted
Klaipeda garrison commander Ivan Chernykh as saying that the
armed patrols in the city, begun the previous week, had been
called off that day after the garrison worked out an agreement
with city militia officials on protecting servicemen. (Saulius
Girnius)

USSR CONGRESS ON BALTICS. The USSR Congress of People's Deputies
last week decided to dispatch a fact-finding mission to Latvia
to investigate complaints of ill treatment by Soviet army personnel.
As the London Times noted (December 29), the Congress' decision
was remarkably meek, given the criticism of Latvian behavior
heard from some members of the corps of deputies. (Saulius Girnius)


BALTIC FOREIGN MINISTERS CALL FOR TALKS ON SOVIET TROOPS. In
a joint statement issued on December 29, foreign ministers Lennart
Meri of Estonia, Janis Jurkans of Latvia, and Algirdas Saudargas
of Lithuania called again for negotiations with the USSR to resolve
the issue of the stationing of Soviet troops in the Baltic states.
The ministers also asked the Soviet authorities to declare that
no "further military force be used" against the Baltic states.
(Dzintra Bungs)

SOVIET MILITARY CONGRESS IN RIGA. Some 500 representatives of
Soviet armed forces stationed in the Baltic military district
held an extraordinary congress in the Latvian capital December
21-25. According to TASS, they appealed to the USSR Congress
of People's Deputies to introduce "presidential rule" in Estonia,
Latvia, and Lithuania, and said that if that proved ineffective
a state of emergency should be introduced throughout the USSR.
They complained of discrimination and political destabilization,
and called for the protection of "soldiers' rights and human
dignity." (Dzintra Bungs)

MORE EXPLOSIONS IN LATVIA. Over a dozen monuments and public
buildings were damaged in December. No injuries have been reported
by Radio Riga. The spate of explosions started on December 5
when monuments and gravesites of Latvian soldiers who fought
for an independent Latvia during World War II were damaged in
four communities. Most of the subsequent explosions were aimed
at Soviet institutions and monuments. Government officials, who
have started a special investigation, say they believe the incidents
are provocations aimed at destabilizing the situation in Latvia
and providing grounds for the establishment of "presidential
rule" there. (Dzintra Bungs)



USSR

USSR--ALL-UNION AFFAIRS

GORBACHEV SAYS 1991 WILL BE CRITICAL. In a New Year message broadcast
to the Soviet population December 31, Soviet president Mikhail
Gorbachev said there is "no cause more sacred" than the preservation
and renewal of the Soviet Union. Gorbachev said 1991 would be
a critical year since it would resolve the issue of "the fate
of our multi-ethnic state." The Soviet population is to vote
in a referendum later this year on the future of the USSR. (NCA)


US, SOVIET PRESIDENTS EXCHANGE GREETINGS. Presidents George Bush
and Mikhail Gorbachev have exchanged New Year's messages to the
peoples of the USSR and USA. In his message to the American people,
Gorbachev predicted that next month's Moscow summit would further
improve Soviet-American relations which, he said, are still hampered
by some "old obstancles." Economic, scientific and technological
cooperation, Gorbachev said, "still do not respond to the spirit
of the time." Bush's message to the USSR was shown on the main
Soviet news program, "Vremya," on January 1, and was followed
by the announcement that Bush had telephoned Gorbachev earlier
in the day. For its part, "Vremya" marked the New Year with a
low-key commentary hoping that the coming year would be "no worse"
than the last. (NCA/Elizabeth Teague)

PEOPLE'S DEPUTIES APPROVE DRAFT UNION TREATY. The New Year holiday
followed a 10-day session of the USSR Congress of Deputies that
ended December 27. On December 24, the Congress voted overwhelmingly
(by 1,491 votes to 88) to back Gorbachev's proposed guidelines
for a new Union treaty. It voted by an even larger margin (1,657
to 20) to preserve the USSR as "a federation of sovereign and
equal republics." Deputies also voted to retain the name of the
country--the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics--though there
was heated debate over this issue, triggered by the omission
of the word "socialist" from the original draft. Retention of
the present name was approved by 1,365 votes to 189, even though
some republics have already dropped the word socialist from their
own names. (NCA)

GORBACHEV WON... On December 25, the Congress of People's Deputies
gave Gorbachev most of the new executive powers he had asked
for, voting to create a new Cabinet of Ministers that will be
smaller than the previous Council of Ministers and directly subordinate
to Gorbachev as President. It also agreed to create the post
of Vice-President. The Vice-President, who would replace the
President in the event of death or disability, will also answer
directly to the President. Finally, the Congress abolished the
Presidential Council and transformed the Federation Council from
an advisory into a policy-making body comprising the leaders
of all the USSR's Union and autonomous republics. Gorbachev will
head both the Council of the Federation and a new, smaller Security
Council. (NCA)

...AND LOST. Gorbachev won new powers even though deputies expressed
alarm at the institutionalization of such immense prerogatives
in the hands of a single man. Yeltsin opposed the move, arguing
that Gorbachev already had "enough power" and that the latest
changes gave him, on paper, more power even than Stalin. Deputies
Anatolii Sobchak and Konstantin Lubenchenko favored granting
powers to Gorbachev personally, for a limited period only, but
were overruled. However, the Congress balked at Gorbachev's request
for the creation of a so-called Higher Government Inspectorate,
headed by the Vice-President and apparently (details were sparse,
which is one reason why the deputies refused consent) modelled
on France's prefectorial system, to enforce the president's orders
in the republics. (NCA/Elizabeth Teague)

GORBACHEV ALONE. During the Congress, Gorbachev lost the two
surviving members of his first government team of 1985. Foreign
minster Shevardnadze tendered his resignation; prime minister
Nikolai Ryzhkov was hospitalized following a heart attack. Observers
fretted about Gorbachev's increasing isolation and shrinking
power base, but also worried that no amount of formal powers
could help him confront the separatist challenge of the republics.
Shortly before his heart attack, Ryzhkov raised this very question.
"Is the government short of powers now?" he asked the Congress.
"No, the problem is that the republics are ignoring its decisions.
If that situation does not change, no presidential power will
save us." (Elizabeth Teague)

RUSSIAN FEDERATION FACES GORBACHEV WITH BUDGET CRISIS. The RSFSR
has presented Gorbachev with perhaps his most serious challenge
yet. Under the leadership of Boris Yeltsin, the RSFSR Supreme
Soviet voted on December 26 to slash its contribution to the
all-Union budget by more than 80% (from 119 billion rubles in
1990 to 29 billion rubles in 1991). The New York Times likened
the move to the Boston Tea Party. Gorbachev called it a "catastrophe"
and said it could lead to "the breakup not only of the economy
but of the country itself." He said the resulting cuts would
harm everything from education to defense. The USSR Congress
of People's Deputies directed Gorbachev to negotiate a solution
to the crisis by January 10. (NCA)

SUBSIDY BILL TO DOUBLE. The level of state subsidies projected
for 1991 is expected to reach 240 billion rubles, or more than
twice as much as the figure planned for 1990. The 1991 total
was revealed by Viktor Kucherenko, chairman of the Council of
the Union Planning, Finance, and Budget Commission on Moscow
TV on December 30. The all-Union subsidy total of 115 billion
rubles planned for 1990 was given in Pravda on May 18, 1990.
The recent IMF study was already critical of the 1990 level of
subsidies that exceeded 10% of the GDP. (Keith Bush)

LAW ON REFERENDUMS ADOPTED. Izvestia (December 29) published
the USSR law on referendums adopted last month by the USSR Congress
of People's Deputies. The new law contains some gaps; for example,
it says nothing about the composition or accountability of the
"Central Commission for USSR Referendums" on which it confers
broad powers to organize referendums. (Elizabeth Teague)

REFERENDUMS APPROVED. However, it should soon be possible to
observe the law in action. On December 24 the USSR Congress of
People's Deputies ordered each republic to hold a referendum
on the question of preserving the Soviet Union under a new Union
treaty, and ordered a nationwide referendum on private land ownership.
The Congress instructed the USSR Supreme Soviet to draft both
referendums and to set dates for them. Since the new law states
that a referendum must be held "not earlier than 2 months and
and not later than 6 months" after the Congress of People's Deputies
gives its approval, the referendums are likely to be held sometime
between the end of February and the end of June this year. (Elizabeth
Teague)

YANAEV SPEAKS HIS MIND. It took Gorbachev two rounds of voting
and a display of temper before the USSR Congress of People's
Deputies agreed to elect his nominee, Gennadii Yanaev, to the
new post of USSR Vice-President. Western comment has portrayed
Yanaev--a longtime Party bureaucrat--as a Gorbachev loyalist.
Last year, however, when he briefly held the post of head of
the USSR's official trade unions, Yanaev raised the spectre of
mass unemployment, bankruptcies and price increases to rally
worker opposition to Gorbachev's economic reforms. Interviewed
by TASS after his election December 26, Yanaev was asked whether
Gorbachev should step down from his Party post; he coolly replied
that Gorbachev's popularity rating in the country is so low that,
"without the backing of the country's largest party, Gorbachev
would run into major difficulties." Yanaev went on to express
wholehearted support for the conservative "Soyuz" group of deputies.
(Elizabeth Teague)

RADICALS ALLEGE FRAUD. Members of the liberal Interregional Group
of Deputies claimed December 28 that Yanaev's election might
have been a fraud. A spokesman for the group, Arkadii Murashev,
told reporters the election was not properly controlled and that
there had been discrepancies in the counting of the ballots.
Murashev said the Interregional Group would call on the USSR's
Committee for Constitutional Oversight to investigate the matter.
In a statement issued the same day, the Interregional Group warned
that the USSR was in danger of becoming a dictatorship in which
violence would be the main way of resolving internal political
issues. (NCA)

CONGRESS ELECTS NEW SUPREME SOVIET MEMBERS. On December 27, the
USSR Congress of People's Deputies elected 193 new members to
the Supreme Soviet, the USSR's standing parliament. The constitution
requires the Supreme Soviet to replace one-fifth of its membership
each year, but so many deputies asked to be allowed to resign
from the Supreme Soviet that an exception was made in this case.
There were 197 vacant seats, but 4 still remain unfilled. This
is because one candidate from Ukraine and another from Armenia
did not win the majority of votes required for election, while
Estonia and Lithuania, which were supposed to nominate one candidate
each, did not do so. The results of the voting confirmed the
impression of a general swing toward conservatism. None of the
radicals who stood won election. (NCA/Elizabeth Teague)

STRIKE MORATORIUM REJECTED. On December 25, the USSR Congress
of People's Deputies rejected a proposal, put to it by Supreme
Soviet chairman Anatolii Lukyanov, to declare a moratorium on
all strikes in the USSR in 1991. Several deputies pointed out
that such a ban would violate labor laws recently enacted by
the USSR Supreme Soviet. Others said dissatisfied workers might
strike even if there were a moratorium. (NCA)

"SOYUZ" GROUP HAS QUARTER OF CONGRESS DEPUTIES. On December 25,
the members of the USSR Congress of People's Deputies officially
registered in 18 factions. Deputies were allowed to register
with more than one group. Results showed the largest group in
the Congress is the Communists, with 730 registered supporters,
or just under a third of the Congress' total membership of 2,250.
(It looks as if many Communists did not register; when the Congress
was elected in 1989, 87% were Party members. The CPSU has been
losing members but not, if the official figures are any guide,
at such a rate as that.) Next came the conservative "Soyuz" group,
with 561 supporters, or about a quarter. Other groups included
farmers (431); a newly formed workers group (400); ecologists
(220); women (216); centrists (153); young deputies (125); and
Afghan vets (52). The Interregional Group registered 229--a sharp
drop from the 400 members it was claiming 18 months ago. (NCA/Elizabeth
Teague)

KRYUCHKOV SAYS HE WAS "MISUNDERSTOOD." KGB chairman Vladimir
Kryuchkov told reporters December 25 that earlier remarks he
made about foreign involvement in Soviet affairs had been "misunderstood"
and did not signal a return to the Cold War. Addressing the Congress
of People's Deputies on December 22, Kryuchkov said the USSR
was facing internal and external subversion and that foreign
powers were exploiting ethnic tensions by supporting nationalist
groups in the USSR. Kryuchkov went on to accuse foreign trading
partners of engaging in economic sabotage by selling the USSR
defective goods. On December 24, the USA said the comments were
"unfounded and inaccurate." In his remarks of December 25, Kryuchkov
said he had not meant to accuse the majority of foreign enterprises
and that, contrary to the impression created by his earlier remarks,
he welcomed international aid. (NCA)

WILL SHEVARDNADZE STAY? Despite the assurances of Shevardnadze's
aides that his resignation is final, rumors are still circulating
that the foreign minister will stay. TASS correspondent Alexander
Kanishchev said on December 27 it would be premature to predict
if Shevardnadze would really step down; indeed, Kanishchev said,
"I believe he may remain in office indefinitely." In a December
30 interview with Japan's Asahi Shimbun, Gorbachev said he also
favors Shevardnadze's "continuing [as foreign minister] and taking
a further active part in the policy of perestroika." (Suzanne
Crow)

RESIGNATION FINAL, BUT... In response to rumors that Shevarndadze
might reconsider his resignation, Foreign Ministry Spokesman
Vitalii Churkin is sticking by his contention that the decision
is final. Churkin indicated on December 29, however, that Shevardnadze
might participate in next month's US-Soviet summit. Churkin said
Shevardnadze and Gorbachev will meet to discuss whether Shevardnadze
will participate, TASS reported December 29. (Suzanne Crow)

NEW DEPUTY DEFENSE MINISTER. Colonel-General Vladislav Achalov,
commander of Soviet Airborne Forces, has been appointed Deputy
Defense Minister, TASS reported December 24. The report said
Achalov would fill a newly created post with still undefined
duties. Achalov's public statements to date mark him as a conservative.
He served as Chief of Staff of the Leningrad Military District
until 1989, when he was named to head the elite Airborne Forces.
In the latter capacity he gained notoriety for his high profile
role during the Soviet blockade of Lithuania last spring. Achalov's
aide, Major General Pavel Grachev, an Afghan War veteran, has
been appointed to replace him. (Stephen Foye)

SNETKOV SACKED FOR DESERTIONS. The Commander-in-Chief of Soviet
Forces in former East Germany was fired last month following
the desertion of two senior officers under his command, Western
news agencies reported December 31. Military investigator Colonel
Anatolii Korotkov reportedly told Izvestia that Army General
Boris Snetkov was fired following the discovery on November 29
that two of his senior officers had deserted, taking anti-tank
missiles and anti-aircraft weapons with them. He said that several
other officers also lost their posts or were punished as a result
of the case. Snetkov was replaced by Colonel General Matvei Burlakov.
(NCA/Stephen Foye)

SOVIET TV CHIEF LETS THE CAT OUT OF THE BAG... Soviet radio and
television chairman Leonid Kravchenko has denied he banned last
Friday's edition of the popular TV show "Vzglyad." He was responding
to allegations that the show was cancelled because its presenters
planned to comment on the resignation of foreign minister Eduard
Shevardnadze. Interviewed by Soviet TV December 30, Kravchenko
denied he had ordered the show off the air but did admit he had
advised that an interview with Shevardnadze would not be "appropriate."
Kravchenko explained: "The president [Gorbachev] had asked people
not to get drawn into...such a debate. There was a great deal
that still needed to be weighed up and assessed." In other words,
the Kremlin was in confusion and the official line on Shevardnadze's
resignation had not been determined. (Elizabeth Teague)

...CIRCUSES, IF NOT BREAD. Kravchenko, who was appointed to head
Gosteleradio only two months ago, went on to make another revealing
announcement. Under his direction, he said, Soviet TV will avoid
"excessive politicization" and there will "a sharp increase in
non-factual programming, with more films and plays, musical and
entertainment programs, and television quizes." Television, he
said, should not "play politics"; instead, it should aim "to
help people lose themselves." (Elizabeth Teague)

GORBACHEV INTRODUCES NEW SALES TAX... Beginning January 1, Gorbachev
is imposing a nationwide 5% sales tax on consumer goods and services.
The tax will not apply to food. Announcing the new tax December
30, TASS said the purpose of the tax is to finance spending on
social security and some public sector salaries. It should also
provide a source of income to offset the state budget deficit.
70% of the revenue raised by the new tax will go the republics,
while the other 30% will go to the central government. (NCA)


...AND A FUND TO PROTECT LAME-DUCK ENTERPRISES. Gorbachev has
also announced the creation of a stabilization fund designed
to help industries hurt in the process of transfer to the market.
Finance minister Valentin Pavlov told Soviet television December
29 the fund would alleviate unemployment and provide support
in "conditions of price hikes." It will be drawn from taxes on
profits that exceed guidelines set by USSR Supreme Soviet and
on proceeds from the privatization of state properties. (NCA)


HYPERINFLATION ON THE BLACK MARKET. Perhaps in an effort to reconcile
its readers to the widespread and substantial increases in state
retail prices effective January 1, today's Pravda cites Goskomstat
data on recent black market prices. Just before the New Year,
a Zhiguli VAZ-2109 export model was selling in Moscow for 100,000
rubles, i.e., about 11 times its official retail price and equivalent
to about 30 years average wages for an industrial worker. A bottle
of Stolichnaya vodka went for 50 rubles, or five times the official
list price. (Keith Bush)

GLASNOST' GUARANTEES AGAINST DICTATORSHIP, AIDE SAYS. Presidential
aide Georgii Shakhnazarov says public debate and glasnost' will
ensure Mikhail Gorbachev does not abuse his new powers. Interviewed
by Rabochaya tribuna on December 29, Shakhnazarov said: "The
President's every move and word are discussed by the people and
the press in an ever more open manner, so we have the main remedy
against dictatorship." (Vera Tolz)

PATRIARCH ALEKSII'S CHRISTMAS APPEAL. On December 21, TASS published
a Christmas appeal to believers by Patriarch Aleksii. Deploring
the "conflict" between Orthodox and Catholics of the Eastern
Rite in Western Ukraine, the "destruction of Church unity by
Autocephalists in Ukraine," and the actions of the "so-called"
Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, the Patriarch appealed for the
reestablishment of peace and unity among Christians. (Oxana Antic)


OPINION POLL REVEALS INTEREST IN CHRIST. Moscow News (No. 49,
199O) publishes the results of an opinion poll conducted in November
by Yurii Levada for the Soviet Center for Public Opinion and
Market Research. 1,363 persons were polled in 21 localities.
Asked which of 5 personalities will be "of great importance"
in the USSR om the year 2000, 58 percent chose Jesus Christ.
(Oxana Antic)P0

USSR--REPUBLICS

"NO FAMINE IN THE RSFSR." The chairman of a major Western relief
organization says there is no famine in the Soviet Union--at
least not in the Russian Federation--and that appeals for food
aid are "outright manipulation." Jacques Lebas, chairman of the
French group Medecins du Monde told AFP ib December 28 that people's
generosity has been manipulated by unecessary appeals that have
diverted attention from true starvation in Africa. Lebas was
speaking on his return from a visit to the RSFSR. He said Western
food shipments are backed up at ports and railheads. But he said,
the USSR does need medical supplies. (NCA)

MOSCOW'S "TENT CITY" RAZED. Shortly before dawn on December 30,
police moved in with bulldozers to clear away the Red Square's
"tent city." The tents--occupied by desperate people from all
over the USSR who had come to Moscow to seek redress for their
grievances--appeared six months ago, at the time of the 28th
CPSU Congress. According to Reuters, 47 people have been taken
into custody; some are to be sent back to their original places
of residence; others will receive psychiatric attention. The
closure of the encampment will be seen as a further step in Gorbachev's
current "law and order" campaign. (NCA/Elizabeth Teague)

GORBACHEV THREATENS TO RESTORE ORDER IN MOLDAVIA. Another step
in Gorbachev's bid to restore order came with the publication,
on December 22, of a presidential decree in which he threatened
to take unspecified "necessary measures" unless the Moldavian
leadership and minority groups acted within 10 days to end interethnic
conflicts in the republic. The decree ordered the dissolution
of the would-be independent republics proclaimed by the Gagauz
minority and by non-indigenous residents of the Dniester region,
the implementation of Union laws on republican territory, the
disbanding of all voluntary detachments and self-defense units,
and the reconsideration of republican legislation viewed as discriminatory
by the minorities. (Michael Shafir)

MOLDAVIAN PARLIAMENT ACCEPTS GORBACHEV'S TERMS. On December 30
TASS reported that Moldavia's Supreme Soviet had adopted a decision
agreeing to Gorbachev's terms. TASS did not make it clear whether
the Moldavian parliament had agreed to all Gorbachev's demands,
saying only that the decision was adopted "after it had been
analyzed by a commission charged with drafting a decision on
the decree and amendments proposed by deputies." The Moldavian
parliament did however note that many points in the presidential
decree had already been implemented, including "the dissolution
of volunteer detachments and the annulling of unconstitutional
decisions concerning the setting up of the so-called Gagauz and
Dniestr republics." (Michael Shafir)

GAGAUZ LEADER CLAIMS ACCEPTANCE OF GORBACHEV'S DECREE. The chairman
of the Supreme Soviet of the would-be Gagauz republic, Stefan
Topal, claimed December 28 that Moldavia's Gagauz minority was
ready to meet the terms of Gorbachev's decree. But, in a statement
carried by TASS, Topal said he was not sure the Moldavian authorities
were ready to observe all parts of the decree. He did not specify
which parts he had in mind. (Michael Shafir)

SNEGUR LOOKS ON THE BRIGHT SIDE. In the first official reaction
to Gorbachev's decree, Moldavian president Mircea Snegur told
Moldavian radio December 25 that the decree was not a "dictate
from the center, as it may seem at first sight." He said the
purpose of the decree was to achieve reconciliation and stabilize
the situation in the republic. Snegur stressed that Gorbachev's
decree annuled "the anticonstitutional republics." (Michael Shafir)


CLASHES IN KISHINEV. TASS reported that clashes occurred at a
rally in Kishinev December 23. The rally, called in support Gorbachev's
decree by the Moldavian Communist Party, "turned into a melee
as hotheads on both sides started a brawl," and police intervened.
Opponents of Gorbachev's demands later marched to the Moldavian
Communist Party Central Committee building chanting "anticommunist
slogans." (Michael Shafir)

MOSCOW-LOYALISTS RALLY IN TIRASPOL. A meeting of Communists loyal
to Moscow was held in the capital of the Dniester region, Tiraspol,
December 22. TASS said participants called for the resignation
of the Moldavian government and supported a new Union treaty.
They also called on Gorbachev "not to adopt decrees and other
decisions that may lead to the beginning of civil war in Moldavia."
(Michael Shafir)

MOLDAVIAN DEPUTIES SUPPORT DECREE. Moldova Pres reported December
25 that 36 of the 42 Moldavian deputies to the USSR Congress
of People's Deputies had issued a statement in support of Gorbachev's
decree. The deputies said the decree created "favorable premises
for solving several problems that are tearing the republic to
pieces." The deputies appealed to the Moldavian population to
show "moderation [and] tolerance" and to embark on mutual "collaboration."
(Michael Shafir)

AKHROMEEV DENIES RUMORS OF MARTIAL LAW. Marshal Sergei Akhromeev,
a military adviser to President Gorbachev who represents the
Moldavian constituency of Balti (Beltsy) in the USSR Supreme
Soviet, denied that Gorbachev might declare martial law in Moldavia.
In an interview carried by TASS on December 29, Akhromeev said
such rumors were "just as unfounded as rumors about a military
dictatorship seeking power [in Moscow]." The marshal added that
"until a new Union treaty is signed, the USSR constitution and
the laws of the Union parliament should prevail in Moldavia."
(Michael Shafir)

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT NON-COMMITTAL ON MOLDAVIAN QUESTION. Addressing
the Romanian parliament December 21, Romanian president Ion Iliescu
reiterated his position on Romania's ties with Moldavia. In a
speech carried by Radio Bucharest, Iliescu said these ties had
a "double character." On one hand, a "spiritual community" united
Romania and Moldavia and called for "expanding ties...at all
levels and in all fields." On the other hand, Romania had to
"take into consideration political realities and raison d'etat,
[as well as] the body of international regultations applying
to Europe as a whole." (Michael Shafir)

ROMANIAN RALLY SUPPORTS MOLDAVIA. A rally in support of the Moldavians'
struggle "for self-determination and independence" was organized
by the parliamentary and extraparliamentary opposition in the
capital of Romanian Moldavia, Iasi, December 23. Radio Bucharest
broadcast the appeal adopted by the participants. While saluting
Gorbachev's decision to dismantle the two would-be republics,
the appeal voiced concern that Gorbachev might use special powers
in Moldavia. (Michael Shafir)

OFFICIAL ROMANIAN STATEMENT ON MOLDAVIAN SITUATION. Commenting
on December 27 on Gorbachev's decree, a spokesman for the Romanian
Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Romania "firmly observes the
principles" of the Helsinki final act but that, within these
limits, the Romanian government follows events in Moldavia "with
special attention, but also with concern." He described such
sentiments as normal in view of historic, ethnic and language
links, and added that Romania "fully agreed" with the ruling
of the USSR Congress of People's Deputies dated December 24,
1989, that the secret protocols of the Ribbentrop-Molotov had
no legal foundation. (Michael Shafir)

ROMAN ON RELATIONS WITH MOLDAVIA. Romanian Prime Minister Petre
Roman said in an interview with the Romanian television on December
28 that during his talks with Moldavian premier Mircea Druc the
possibility of building an "economic bridge" between the two
states had been discussed. Roman said that Moldavia had "some
urgent requirements, which we are trying to meet with as much
priority as we can." Roman singled out the spheres of housing
and education. (Michael Shafir)

REVOLUTION ANNIVERSARY A HOLIDAY NO LONGER. November 7, the anniversary
of the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, is no longer to be a public
holiday in Moldavia. TASS reported December 25 that the Moldavian
Supreme Soviet had approved a list of official holidays including
Christmas and "Language Day" (August 31) but not November 7.
(Michael Shafir)

AZERIS RALLY ALONG SOVIET-IRANIAN BORDER. Reuters reports that
about 10,000 people held a peaceful rally at four points just
inside the Soviet border with Iran December 31, marking the first
anniversary of riots aimed at uniting ethnic Azeris in the two
countries. Reuters quoted the independent Turan news agency from
the regional capital, Nakhichevan, as saying that speakers at
the rally called for peaceful struggle to win unification with
their Iranian counterparts. (NCA)

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT SAYS PRICE MEASURES PLANNED. Ukrainian president
Leonid Kravchuk says his republic will take steps during the
coming month to introduce order into the pricing system. Radio
Kiev quoted him December 31 as saying that, under the current
system, the prices the republic is paying to enterprises amount
to "banditism." Kravchuk said that in the near future Ukraine
will adopt measures to seetle the issue. The radio said this
would be done not through administrative measures, but through
the financial system; it gave no details. (CMD)

NEW COMMANDER FOR KIEV MILITARY DISTRICT. Lieutenant General
Viktor Chechevatov has been appointed Commander of the Kiev Military
District, replacing Colonel General Boris Gromov, TASS reported
on December 25. Chechevatov is young at 45 years of age, and
previously served as Staff Chief of the Central Asian Military
District and First Deputy Commander of the Carpathian Military
District. TASS reports that he told Krasnaya zvezda he favored
a shift to a professional army, but cautioned that under current
conditions such a transition was impossible. (Stephen Foye)

CHURCH APPEALS TO YELTSIN. Central televison reported December
27 that the Russian Orthodox Church has appealed to Boris Yeltsin
to declare January 7 (the Orthodox Christmas) and Good Friday
state holidays. (Oxana Antic)

RSFSR PERMITS FOREIGN OWNERSHIP. On December 24, the RSFSR Supreme
Soviet adopted a landmark law allowing foreign companies to own
factories and other enterprises, along with buildings and other
property in the RSFSR. The law, which was to take effect on January
1, also allows companies in the Russian Republic to engage in
foreign trade and to use foreign credits. In addition, it includes
a section on private land ownership that is to take effect on
January 15. (In October, Gorbachev adopted a decree allowing
foreign investors to own enterprises in the USSR and to control
their profits. But, unlike the new RSFSR law, Gorbachev's decree
said nothing about foreign ownership of land.) (NCA)

YELTSIN HAS PROBLEMS OF HIS OWN. Boris Yeltsin, who last week
faced Gorbachev with a budgetary crisis of enormous proportions,
returned to Moscow yesterday from a trip to Yakutia to problems
in his own government. On December 27 it was announced that RSFSR
finance minister Boris Fedorov had resigned, complaining the
Russian Republic was making no progress toward a market economy.
The 32-year-old Fedorov told Rossiiskaya gazeta that proposed
reforms were bogged down "in the depths of the apparatus." Fedorov
also criticized for Yeltsin, accusing him of pursuing a senseless
vendetta with Gorbachev and saying Yeltsin's preference for "populist
measures" instead of real market reforms could bankrupt the whole
USSR. (NCA)

VOLUNTARY SERVICE IN THE CAUCASUS? A Defense Ministry spokesman
told TASS yesterday that soldiers will now serve in the Southern
Caucasus region only on a volunteer basis, AFP reported. Soldiers
and officers willing to serve in the region would be given special
privileges, the report said. It added that conscripts from the
Caucasus will also be allowed to serve at home in construction
battalions. The TASS account contradicts a December 30 report
on Radio Moscow, however, which stated that--according to Komsomolskaya
pravda--the Finance Ministry had refused to provide the extra
funding necessary for the policy and had turned the first step
toward military professionalization into a "fiasco." (Stephen
Foye)

ARMENIAN CP FIRST SECRETARY EXPELLED FROM NAGORNO-KARABAKH? The
Armenian and Azerbaijani media have given conflicting reports
of Armenian CP first secretary Stepan Pogosyan's recent visit
to Stepanakert. Radio Baku maintains that Pogosyan was intercepted
on his arrival at Stepanakert airport on December 22 and ordered
by the region's military commendant to return immediately to
Erevan. Armenpress claims that Pogosyan visited Stepanakert railway
station and confirmed that central media reports that there is
no disruption of food supplies are untrue, and that he managed
to meet with local Armenian leaders and people's deputies. (Liz
Fuller)

NEW SETTLEMENT ON NAGORNO-KARABAKH IMMINENT? The chairman of
the Council of Nationalities of the USSR Supreme Soviet, Rafik
Nishanov, told the Armenian news agency Armenpress on December
21 that the Soviet leadership is aware of the need for a solution
to the Nagorno-Karabakh impasse. He stated that the Armenian
and Azerbaijani leaders have met to discuss the issue, and that
"a whole package of proposals" has been drawn up that might break
the deadlock. Nishanov said that main objective is to restore
the organs of Soviet power in the disputed oblast. (Liz Fuller)


REFUGEES, HOSTAGES COMPLICATE SOUTH OSSETIAN CRISIS ... On December
26, USSR MVD Lieutenant-General Smyslov characterized the situation
in South Ossetia as "explosive and complicated," stating that
interethnic tensions and crime are increasing. Other reports
claimed that Ossetian refugees were fleeing from South Ossetia
to the North Ossetian ASSR, and that armed civilians were manning
road blocks to prevent food and other supplies from reaching
the area. On December 27, some 2,000 people stormed a police
station in the oblast capital of Tskhinvali and held a group
of Georgian policemen hostage until a local man who had been
arrested earlier was released. (Liz Fuller)

GAMSAKHURDIA REJECTS NORTH OSSETIAN CRITICISM... In a related
development, Georgian Supreme Soviet chairman Zviad Gamsakhurdia
argued in a letter printed in Zarya Vostoka (December 27) that
the North Ossetian parliament's December 14 protest that Georgia's
abolition of South Ossetian autonomy was "unlawful" and a violation
of the rights of a small ethnic group constitutes "crude interference"
in Georgia's internal affairs. Gamsakhurdia reiterated that the
Georgian parliament's decision was morally and politically legitimate.
(Liz Fuller)

...WHILE GORBACHEV'S INTERMEDIARY CALLS FOR DIALOGUE. Speaking
in Tbilisi on December 28, Gorbachev's personal envoy to Georgia,
Leonid Gorshkov, called upon both Georgians and Ossetians to
"abandon their unconstitutional actions" and embark on a dialogue
aimed at solving the South Ossetian crisis, TASS reports. Gorshkov
further stated that food shortages in South Ossetia were caused
by inefficient management, and denied reports of a Georgian blockade
of the oblast. (Liz Fuller)

NEW GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT CONDEMNED AS "TOTALITARIAN." Dzhaba Ioseliani,
a literature professor and leader of the informal military group
Mkhedrioni, has told TASS (December 25) that the new Georgian
parliament "continues the totalitarian policy of the previous
regime," suppresses dissent and democracy, and uses lies and
disinformation to discredit political rivals. Ioseliani expressed
concern that the ruling Round Table coalition might launch a
campaign of repression against its political opponents. (Liz
Fuller)

KARAKALPAKISTAN DECLARES SOVEREIGNTY. The December 19 issue of
Izvestia reported that the Supreme Soviet of the Karakalpak ASSR
had adopted a declaration of sovereignty and changed the name
of the republic to Soviet Republic of Karakalpakistan. The republic
will remain part of Uzbekistan, which will represent Karakalpakistan's
interests within the USSR and abroad. (Bess Brown)

NUCLEAR TESTING AT SEMIPALATINSK. President of Kazakhstan Nursultan
Nazarbaev told Novosti on December 24 that continued nuclear
weapons testing at the Semipalatinsk site could lead to a political
and social explosion in the southern republic. Nazarbaev was
responding to a statement by Defense Minister Dmitrii Yazov on
December 20 (see Daily Report, December 21) that nuclear testing
would be resumed at Semipalatinsk despite a republican declaration
terminating testing. Nazarbaev charged that Yazov's statement
was part of Moscow's effort to reassert imperial power in the
republic. (Stephen Foye)


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Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole
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