|There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in. - Graham Greene|
No. 244, 03 January 1991
BALTIC BALTIC STATES SOVIET TROOPS SURROUND PARTY HQ IN VILNIUS. Armed Soviet Interior Ministry troops surrounded the headquarters of the Communist Party in the Lithuanian capital on January 2, The New York Times reports. Lithuanian television interviewed a unidentified major who said the troops were "implementing a presidential decree on guarding the property of the CPSU in Lithuania." The Communist Party in Lithuania split into two in December 1989 with the majority declaring its independence from the CPSU. The minority who remained loyal to the CPSU continued to use the building which was protected by both Soviet and Lithuanian guards. The Lithuanian guards have now been removed. (Saulius Girnius) MVD UNITS SEIZE MAIN PUBLISHING PLANT IN RIGA. Early yesterday morning, special forces of the USSR Interior Ministry, carrying weapons and the Soviet flag, marched into the Press Building in Riga and took over the main publishing house in Latvia. Radio Riga reported that the "Black Berets," as the units have been nicknamed, were apparently acting mainly on orders of the Latvian Communist Party which has been trying to reassert control over the plant. They placed under office arrest the Press Building director Kazimirs Dundurs and threatened physical violence if he did not hand over his papers to the LCP; Dundurs refused to comply with the demands and yesterday evening he was permitted to leave the Press Building. (Dzintra Bungs) PRINT WORKERS ANNOUNCE PROTEST STRIKE. Print workers at the Press Building announced a protest strike as long as the Black Berets try to control the building. Today none of the principal Latvian newspapers appeared on the newstands. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIANS DEPLORE THE ACTION. Yesterday morning, Latvian government officials tried to enter the Press Building to find out what was going on, but were turned away by the Black Berets pointing guns at them. That afternoon some 2,000 people picketed peacefully the Latvian Communist Party headquarters and demanded the removal of the Black Berets from the Press Building. A solidarity demonstration was held in the northern Latvian town of Valmiera. (Dzintra Bungs) GROMOV TO RIGA. Latvia's Supreme Council adopted a resolution deploring the seizure of the Press Building and calling for justice to be meted out to those breaking the law. Today Latvian government leaders are scheduled to meet with USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev and Defense Minister Dmitrii Yazov. In addition, USSR Deputy Interior Minister Boris Gromov is expected in Riga for consultations. Nikolai Mironenko, head of the MVS special units, already arrived in Riga and talked this morning Latvia's Interior Minister Aloizs Vaznis. (Dzintra Bungs) SAVISAAR WARNS OF INCREASED SOVIET MILITARY ACTIVITY. While visiting Helsinki, Estonian Prime Minister Edgar Savisaar linked the seizure by MVD units of the Press Building in Riga to recent efforts by the Soviet authorities to show the world that the situation in Latvia was not stable and to provide a pretext for the Soviet army to establish order there. He said similar incidents are possible in Estonia, adding that that there are enough Soviet troops in Estonia for "any kind of military operation." He said Moscow would be able to find an excuse to use force against Estonia, reported AP and Reuter on January 2. Savisaar reiterated Estonia's intention to resist "presidential rule": "Estonia will reply with civil disobedience if President Mikhail Gorbachev declares a state of emergency in the republic and puts it under direct presidential control." (Dzintra Bungs) ESTONIA LAUNCHES PRIVATIZATION. Estonia has started the privatization of state enterprises, TASS reported January 2. Six enterprises, including textile factories and the Tallinn taxi-pool, will become private property this year; eleven enterprises, including Estonia's railroads, will remain state enterprises for the time being; others will become state joint-stock companies, leasing or municipal enterprises. (Saulius Girnius) SOVIET TROOPS END PRISON DUTIES IN ESTONIA. Novosti reported that troops of the USSR Interor Ministry would stop guarding prisons and convoys of arrested persons in Estonia from December 25 because the republic had failed to provide a sufficient number of recruits to the autumn call up to the Soviet army. (Saulius Girnius) ESTONIA'S IMMIGRATION QUOTA FOR 1991. Estonia's Supreme Council decided that 2,290 persons would be permitted to enter the country and register there as residents, according to Soviet TV reports of December 22. The quota is apparently intended to control the migration of people from various regions of the USSR to Estonia. (Dzintra Bungs) US AID FOR USSR AND BALTICS. On December 29, President George Bush authorized up to one billion dollars in credits for the Soviet Union, as well as Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, to buy US farm products, AFP and NCA reported December 30. In a letter to congressional leaders, the president reiterated the US policy of not recognizing the "forcible incorporation of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania into the Soviet Union" during World War II and affirmed US "support for the rights of the Baltic States to self-determination." (Dzintra Bungs) LANDSBERGIS IN NORWAY. Radio Vilnius reported today that President Vytautas Landsbergis is visiting Oslo for a three-day visit. He will speak today at an international political conference. Tomorrow he will meet with Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Bruntland and Foreign Minister Willi Deklerk who is also the chairman of the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Commission. (Saulius Girnius) PRUNSKIENE IN AUSTRALIA. Lithuanian Prime Minister Kazimiera Prunskiene arrived in Australia on December 24 to attend the Melbourne opening, on December 26, of the "Lithuanian Days in Australia." On December 27 she held talks with the Australian Wool Corporation and indicated that Lithuania could process 2,000 tons of wool or even more if Australia would provide financial aid. On December 28 she met with Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke, Primary Industries Minister John Kerin and opposition leader John Hewson. (Saulius Girnius) STOP PRESS MOSCOW'S INTENTIONS IN RIGA AND VILNIUS UNCLEAR. The timing of the recent events in the Latvian and Lithuanian capitals suggests that the use of interior ministry troops was coordinated and that the central Soviet authorities intended to make some kind of public statement regarding the situation in the Baltic states. What that statement might be, and what is the ultimate purpose of the introduction of armed units, cannot at present be said. The Deputy Chairman of Latvia's Supreme Council, Andrejs Krastins, told RFE's Latvian Service this morning he is not ruling out the possibility that these events might be the prelude to stronger measures on Moscow's part. The situation may become clearer if and when General Gromov arrives in Latvia and after the talks that Latvian leaders expect to have in Moscow later today with Gorbachev, Yazov and officials of the CPSU Central Committee's Administration of Affairs Department. (dzintra Bungs) USSR USSR--ALL-UNION AFFAIRS SHEVARDNADZE SPEAKS. In his first public comments since his resignation December 20, Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze told Moscow News he resigned as foreign minister because he feared military crackdowns similar to those in Tbilisi (April 1989) and Baku (January 1990). Shevardnadze criticized Gorbachev's government as a being talkshop in which problems are endlessly debated, decisions slowly made, and laws never enforced. Shevardnadze characterized the concept of Presidential Rule as a "punitive sanction" that would not solve problems. The interview was carried in an advance issue of the January 6 edition of Moscow News and was summarized by AP and Reuters. (Suzanne Crow) SHEVARDNADZE'S PLANS. Asked by Moscow News about his plans for the future, Shevardnadze said he would like to create a foreign policy association. (Suzanne Crow) SHEVARDNADZE'S SUCCESSOR. Shevardnadze is expected to remain in his post until Gorbachev names a successor. According to statements yesterday by Shevardnadze aide and Foreign Ministry Spokesman Vitalii Churkin, "the situation may clarify itself in the near future." "The president is to take a decision," TASS reports. The front runner appears to be Gorbachev's special envoy Yevgenii Primakov. Other names include Aleksandr Bessmertnykh, ambassador to the United States; and Vladimir Petrovsky, Deputy Foreign Minister. Less likely candidates include Gennadii Yanaev, recently elected USSR Vice President; and Aleksandr Dzasokhov, Politburo member and chairman of the International Affairs Committee of the USSR Supreme Soviet. (Suzanne Crow) KONDRASHOV ON SHEVARDNADZE RESIGNATION. Disagreements with the military played a role in Shevardnadze's resignation but were not the only reason for it, veteran foreign affairs journalist Stanislav Kondrashov told Soviet television December 31. The real reason was that Soviet foreign policy has lost its impetus. Kondrashov described "new thinking" as a drama in three acts. In the first act, Gorbachev and Shevardnadze rescued the USSR from international isolation, but the second act saw a too hasty dismantling of the Warsaw Pact and resulted in a humiliating Soviet retreat. Now, in the third act, Soviet society is beginning to free itself from imperial ambitions, Kondrashov said. To illustrate his point, he compared the 1989 attacks on Andrei Sakharov for his opposition to Soviet involvement in Afghanistan with recent protests by both military and population against the possibility of Soviet involvement in the Gulf crisis. (Victor Yasmann) KONDRASHOV: "GORBACHEV NEEDS THE ARMY." Kondrashov expands on these statements in a commentary in Izvestia today. Arguing that Gorbachev's dependence on military support is the reason why the Soviet president was unwilling to defend his foreign minister against criticism by conservatives, Kondrashov writes that, today, "The president needs the army more than ever before, and he does not want the army's patience to run out." (NCA/Elizabeth Teague) MORE ON GORBACHEV MEETING WITH OFFICER-DEPUTIES. Reports continue to surface with more details on Gorbachev's crucial November 13 meeting with over 1,000 officer-deputies--an event that apparently spurred Gorbachev's turn to the right. On December 24, The New York Times reported that the censored official accounts of the meeting may have understated the extreme hostility that Gorbachev faced among the officers. Krasnaya zvezda of December 11, meanwhile, published a letter denying charges by progressive officers that the meeting had been stage-managed by the Defense Ministry and Main Political Administration to confront Gorbachev with the views only of conservatives. (Stephen Foye) REGISTRATION OF POLITICAL PARTIES RUNS INTO PROBLEM. The USSR Ministry of Justice has begun officially registing political parties, as required by the Soviet law on public associations. TASS called the registration the USSR's first practical step to a multiparty system, but noted the process had immedidately run into considerable problems. The agency quoted the justice ministry as saying all 22 applications for registration received so far were incorrectly submitted. The ministry did not say how the applications were incorrect, but said it would hold a special meeting to brief representatives of parties on the necessary requirements. (Vera Tolz) MOISEEV HITS NATIONAL ARMIES. The General Staff Chief has rejected proposals made at the Congress of People's Deputies to divide the army into strategic and regional forces. Mikhail Moiseev told Izvestiya on December 22 that such proposals would lower Soviet defense capabilities and that they failed to consider the military threat provided by NATO. He said the USSR spends approximately 700 million rubles per year maintaining only one of the Western border districts, and charged that republics could not afford to maintain viable forces. More ominously, he claimed that the separation of even one armed service branch would lead to the destruction of the entire security system. (Stephen Foye) SERVICEMEN TO CARRY WEAPONS. The Defense Ministry announced on December 29 that officers, naval and army warrant officers, and servicemen on extended duty in specified regions will be allowed to carry personal weapons for self-defense, TASS announced. The Ministry Press Center said the number of cases of violence and reprisal against servicemen and their families is increasing. According to AFP, the authorization to carry weapons applies to military personnel on duty in regions where such incidents are rife. (NCA/Stephen Foye) SHMELEV ON "INSTANT GRATIFICATION." Literaturnaya gazeta (No. 51, 1990) carries a wide-ranging discussion between Nikolai Shmelev and the emigre political scientist Aleksandr Yanov. Shmelev renews his call for substantial Western loans--$25-30 billion--to keep the Soviet economy functioning for 18-24 months while meaningful reform is implemented. Otherwise, "if this monster collapses, it will pull the entire world into the hole with it." Yanov proposes the creation of a joint Soviet-American "conciliation committee" to guarantee the irreversibility of an agreement between Gorbachev and Yeltsin to sink their differences and to work for the country's salvation. (Keith Bush) ATTACKS CONTINUE. There is no let-up in Sovetskaya Rossiya's criticism of reformers elected last year to local soviets. On December 16, the newspaper published a lengthy attack on the chairman of the Moscow city soviet, Gavriil Popov, accusing him of having been an apologist for the old system before perestroika and of buiding himself an expensive country house. The same issue complained that newly elected leaders of other local soviets are trying to grab control of publications that used to be jointly published by the soviets and Party. Finally, Sovetskaya Rossiya on December 19 alleged that all the places on the board of the recently established Moscow Business Bank have been seized by leaders of the Moscow city soviet. (Vera Tolz) UNIFICATION CHURCH ACTIVE AMONG SOVIET STUDENTS. Radio Rossii reported on December 23 that the Reverend Moon's Unification Church now has a Soviet branch. The establishment of the Church happened quietly and was at first hardly noticed in the USSR. The Church concentrates its activities on the press and on Soviet students. Groups of Moscow students are being invited to visit the USA at the invitation of the Reverend Moon; Radio Rossii reported that many of these students have signed up as Church members. (Oxana Antic) PRIEST INVESTIGATING MEN MURDER ALSO KILLED. AP quoted on January 2 INTERFAX news agency as saying that Hegumen Lasar', a member of the Church Commission investigating the murder of the Russian Orthodox priest Alexander Men' has been killed in his Moscow apartment. According to AP, INTERFAX quoted the police as saying Hegumen Lasar' died during an attempted robbery of his apartment but, the agency goes on, unidentified "close associates" of the priest claimed there were no indications pointing to a burglary. Gorbachev ordered an official investigation into the murder of Father Men' in September 1990 and the Church also set up an inquiry. (Oxana Antic) BOGOMOLOV URGES FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE OF POLICY. The well-known Soviet academician Oleg Bogomolov told Germany's Bild am Sonntag last weekend that "civil war and mass exodus" from the USSR can be averted only if Gorbachev makes a fundamental change of course. If not, said Bogomolov, who acts as an adviser to Boris Yeltsin, chaos will ensue. His interview was summarized by DPA. (Elizabeth Teague) NO PLANS TO CLOSE EMBASSIES IN GULF. The Soviet Union does not plan to close its embassies in the Gulf despite the approach of the January 15 UN deadline for Iraqi troops to leave Kuwait, Soviet Foreign Ministry Spokesman Vitalii Churkin said yesterday. Churkin told reporters that Soviet embassies in the region will "continue to function," including the Soviet mission in Baghdad. He declined to reveal the number of Soviet diplomats in the Iraqi capital. (Suzanne Crow) USSR--REPUBLICS CURFEW LIFTED IN DUSHANBE. TASS, quoting Izvestia, reported yesterday that the curfew imposed in Dushanbe more than ten months ago has finally been lifted. The state of emergency declared during the outbreak of violence in the city in February, 1990, remains in effect. The order removing the curfew noted that the situation in the Tajik capital has stabilized. (Bess Brown) YELTSIN PROMISES DUAL CITIZENSHIP FOR RSFSR. Yeltsin told a news conference on December 25 that a dual citizenship policy will be introduced in the RSFSR for Russians living abroad. Yeltsin said Russians who have taken citizenship in other countries will be able to enjoy "all rights and responsibilities" in the RSFSR too. (NCA) KALININGRAD REGION OPENS TO FOREIGNERS. Kaliningrad, the westernmost region of the RSFSR, was officially opened to foreigners January 1. The region, which has strong scientific and industrial sectors, including the largest ice-free port on the Baltic sea, had been a closed area since the end of World War II. (NCA) DRINK SHORTAGE SPARKS RIOTING IN SIBERIAN CITY. TASS reported December 30 that angry crowds rioted in the eastern Siberian city of Chita to protest a shortage of alcohol for the new year's holiday. TASS said the disturbance occurred because thousands of people were unable to exchange ration coupons for wine and vodka. It was not clear when the riot occurred, but TASS said the crowds blocked traffic, lit bonfires and pulled down lamp-posts. (NCA) GASOLINE SHORTAGE IN SOVIET FAR EAST. The supply of gasoline and other fuels is running extremely short in parts of the Soviet Far East. TASS reported December 29 that almost 90% of the cars in Vladivostok were idle and that there was no gasoline at filling stations. TASS said the shortages were causing frustrated motorists to smash pumps and set them afire. Other types of transport have also been affected. Many flights from Vladivostok have been cancelled and the fishing fleets and railways are experiencing interruptions in fuel spplies. TASS said the situation was worst in the Magadan, Sakhalin, and Kamchatka regions. (NCA) ODESSA REGION TO RECEIVE CNN VIA SATELLITE. Radio Kiev announced December 27 that part of Ukraine's Odessa region would be able to receive Cable News Network's world news via satellite "on the eve of the New Year." (CMD) UKRAINIAN AUTOCEPHALOUS ORTHODOX CHURCH. The Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, which was reconstituted last year, now has more than 1,000 parishes and over 500 priests in the republic, Radio Kiev reported yesterday. The November issue of Religia v SSSR, however, fails to list the Autocephalists in its statistical compendium of religious organizations in Ukraine. (Roman Solchanyk) MOLDAVIAN REACTION TO GORBACHEV DECREE. On January 2 TASS quoted Moldavian president Mircea Snegur as saying he will do everything to implement the Moldavian parliament's resolution on Gorbachev's decree of December 22. The republican Supreme Soviet adopted the decree "as a whole" on December 30. TASS said the Provisional Committee of the would-be Gagauz republic pledged in an appeal to Gorbachev that the Gagauz people would "achieve their right to self-determination" only within the framework of the law. (Michael Shafir). KISHINEV DEMONSTRATION AGAINST NEW UNION TREATY. According to a TASS dispatch from the Moldavian capital, hundreds of people demonstrated in Kishinev on January 2, urging the republic not to sign the new Union treaty. TASS said demonstrators chanted "anti-communist slogans" and called for a general strike. Traffic was blocked for several hours. TASS said the Moldavian parliament had not yet decided whether to sign the new treaty. It quoted president Mircea Snegur as saying that it was "up to the people of Moldavia" to decide on the issue. (Michael Shafir). ROMANIAN CITIZENSHIP FOR SOVIET MOLDAVIANS? At a Bucharest meeting organized December 21 by the extraparliamentary opposition group "Civic Alliance," writer Stelian Tanase called on the Romanian government to grant citizenship "to all Bassarabians, Moldavians, or whatever name one wants to use." Tanase's speech was carried live by Radio Bucharest. (Michael Shafir) BASSARABIAN ROMANIANS URGED TO APPLY FOR MOLDAVIAN CITIZENSHIP. The Moldavian Popular Front and the Romanian association Pro Bassarabia and Bukovina have called on all Romanians from Bassarrabia and Northern Bukovina and their descendants to apply for Moldavian citizenship, Radio Iasi said December 29. The Moldavian Supreme Soviet is being urged to adopt appropriate legislation. (Michael Shafir) ROMANIAN OFFICIAL VISITS KISHINEV. Radio Bucharest reported December 24 that Neagu Urdoi, director of the official news agency Rompres, had been received in Kishinev by Moldavian Supreme Soviet chairman Alexandru Mosianu. The radio said the two men discussed "the social and political situation created in the Republic of Moldavia...by the separatist movement encouraged by the most conservative forces in the Soviet Union." (Michael Shafir) NEW POLITICAL PARTY IN MOLDAVIA. A new political party, the Democratic Party for Moldavia's Renaissance and Prosperity, has been set up in Kishinev. Radio Bucharest on December 25 quoted its president, Gheorghe Ghimpu, as saying the party supports parliamentary democracy, political and economic pluralism, "the completion of the national territories of Moldavians," and "general human values." (Michael Shafir) ALLIANCE FOR INDEPENDENCE CREATED. An organization calling itself the "December 16 National Alliance for Independence" was recently created in Moldavia. In a Moldova Pres dispatch carried by Radio Bucharest on December 29, the alliance drew attention to recent signs indicating that "an offensive against national liberation movements" was in preparation, and appealed for support to democratic forces in Moldavia, Romania, and the USSR in general. (Michael Shafir) ROMANIAN BRANCH OF POPULAR FRONT APPEALS TO GORBACHEV. Radio Iasi said January 1 that the Bucharest branch of the Romanian Popular Front has appealed to Gorbachev to undo the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact by giving Moldavia back the three provinces it lost and allowing it freely to decide whether to sign the Union treaty. It added that it had joined the National Alliance for Independence. (Michael Shafir). TASS ON MOLDAVIAN ECONOMY. TASS said December 26 that some 40% of Moldavia's enterprises could face bankrupcy in the wake of a new taxation law due to go into effect this month in the republic. Moldavian Finance Minister Valeri Muravski said subsidies to low-profit enterprises are being cut; he added that Moldavia expects a budget deficit of over 1,000 million rubles in 1991. (Michael Shafir) UNIVERSITY CHAIR RENAMED. Moldova Pres reported December 26 that the former Moldavian language chair at Cernauti (Tchernowitzy) University has been renamed the Romanian language chair and gives tuition to 54 full-time and 75 external students, most of whom come from three districts in Ukraine inhabited by a Romanian majority. However, only 30% of the courses are taught in Romanian, as against 70% in Ukrainian or Russian. Moldova Pres added that the Romanian population in Bukovina faces difficulties because primary and secondary Romanian language schools have been closed down in several settlements. (Michael Shafir) BULGARIANS PROTEST DISCRIMINATION IN MOLDAVIA AND UKRAINE. Radio Sofia said December 22 that the Committee for the Preservation of Bulgarian Traditions from the east Bulgarian city of Silven has protested that Bulgarians living in Moldavia are being forced to speak Romanian. The committee said use of the Bulgarian language had been banned and physical force was being used against those speaking Bulgarian in streets or public institutions. The committee claimed Bulgarian villages had been attacked, houses set on fire, and schools closed down. It said a similar situation existed in Ukraine. (Michael Shafir) MOLDAVIAN-GEORGIAN COLLABORATION. An agreement on economic and cultural collaboration between the Georgian and the Moldavian republics was signed in Tbilisi by the prime ministers of the two republics on December 23. Radio Bucharest said that the two premiers agreed to set up "permanent representation [missions]" in their respective capitals. (Michael Shafir) LEONIDA LARI DENOUNCES NEW UNION TREATY. Leonida Lari, a Moldavian poetess and prominent member of the Moldavian Popular Front, has criticized Gorbachev's proposed Union treaty. Interviewed by the independent Romanian daily Romania Libera December 27, Lari said that, if Moldavia signed, it would be acknowledging its dependence on the USSR and that the territories taken away from it do not belong to it. Lari called for negotiations with Ukraine over exchanging the Transdniestrian territories for Northern Bukovina and Southern Bessarabia. (Michael Shafir) TROUBLE AHEAD FOR COMMUTERS? Subway trains in some major Soviet cities, Moscow included, may stop running in the new year, an official of the USSR ministry of railways told Soviet television December 30. As of January 1, metro systems will be funded not out of all-Union revenues, but by individual republics and cities. The official said local authorities in Minsk, Leningrad, Tbilisi, Yerevan plan to raise metro fares, but that other cities, which do not plan to raise fares, may have to suspend services because of a shortage of money for wages, electricity, and maintenance. (NCA/CMD) ALLIANCE FRANCAISE REVIVED IN LENINGRAD. The "Alliance Francaise" society, which existed in St Petersburg until 1917, has been revived. It plans to open French cultural center, offer courses in the French language, and arrange exhibitions and concerts in order to further Franco-Russian cultural relations. (CMD) RELIGIOUS HOLIDAYS FOR TERNOPOL. Moscow News (No. 50, 1990) reports that the deputy chairman of the Ternopol City Soviet's commission on culture and national revival recommended that Soviet-style New Year celebrations not be held, because they would take place during the pre-Christmas fast, which is observed from November 28 to January 6. Festivities should be held only after January 7, which is Orthodox Christmas, the commission said, proposing that Christmas, St. Nicholas' Day and New Year (Old Style) be recognized as holidays. The Soviet was said to have accepted the commission's proposal. (Oxana Antic) [as of 1300 CET]
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