The only certainty is that nothing is certain. - Pliny the Elder
RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 245, 04 January 1991



BALTIC

BALTIC STATES



US STATE DEPARTMENT: SOVIET ACTIONS "PROVOCATIVE." State Department
spokesman Richard Boucher said yesterday that the "United States
is concerned about the seizure of Latvia's main printing plant
and of the Lithuanian Communist Party Central Committee building
by Soviet interior ministry troops; these actions were provocative."
Reflecting the views of the Bush administration, Boucher said
"the governments and people of Latvia and Lithuania have responded
with restraint and have relied solely on non-violent protest
in opposing these actions." He expressed concern that "the already
tense situation in the Baltic states may be exacerbated by actions
not conducive to a peaceful outcome," according to the Los Angeles
Times. (Dzintra Bungs)

LATVIAN AUTHORITIES "HEARTENED" BY US RESPONSE. At a press conference
carried live by Radio Riga today, the deputy chairman of Latvia's
Supreme Council, Dainis Ivans, said he was "heartened" by the
US statement. He said two US consular representatives are expected
to visit Riga tomorrow. (Dzintra Bungs)

SITUATION TENSE AT LATVIA'S PRESS BUILDING. Radio Riga reported
today that MVD troops continue to occupy the Press Building in
Riga and that they have roughed up workers who were either in
the building or tried to enter it. The workers have laid down
tools to stage a "protest action," rather than a strike; they
have refused to work as long as the armed MVD troops occupy the
building. Today they are to meet with government representatives
seeking alternative ways of publishing newspapers, compensation
for the affected workers, and ways of defusing the tense situation.
(Dzintra Bungs)

INTERFRONT DEMONSTRATION. Yesterday afternoon, conservatives
rallied to the call of Interfront and staged a noisy demonstration
at the Press Building in support of the MVD action, the Latvian
Communist Party, and the CPSU. According to Radio Riga, about
300 Interfront adherents and 150 cadets from a military academy
participated in the gathering. Colonel Viktor Alksnis, member
of the "Soyuz" group of USSR parliament deputies, used the occasion
to call for the establishment of "presidential rule" in Latvia.
LCP CC First Secretary Alfreds Rubiks said he had called the
MVD troops to safeguard the Press Building, according to Radio
Riga of January 4. (Dzintra Bungs)

DISCUSSIONS HELD, BUT RESULTS UNCLEAR. Yesterday the Chairman
of Latvia's Supreme Council Anatolijs Gorbunovs, Premier Ivars
Godmanis and Deputy Premier Ilmars Bisers talked in Moscow with
Mikhail Gorbachev, Minister of Internal Affairs Boriss Pugo and
General Mikhail Moiseev about the seizure of the Press Building.
In Riga, Latvia's Minister of Internal Affairs Aloizs Vaznis
met with commander of the MVD special forces Nikolai Mironenko;
he may have also met with General Boris Gromov and members of
the USSR special parliamentary commission investigating allegations
of discrimination against Soviet soldiers stationed in Latvia.
Details of the talks are not yet available, according to Radio
Riga of January 3 and 4. (Dzintra Bungs)

LANDSBERGIS ON COMMUNIST PARTY HQ OCCUPATION. Lithuanian President
Vytautas Landsbergis while visiting Oslo on January 3 called
the occupation of the Vilnius Communist Party headquarters by
troops of the USSR Interior Ministry a provocation intended to
increase tension and give the USSR a pretext for military intervention
in the Baltics, AFP reported. Speaking at a conference on reform
in East Europe, he compared Moscow to a boa constrictor trying
to crush the three Baltic republics, and called on Western governments
to for diplomatic protection. (Saulius Girnius)

SON OF LITHUANIAN DEPUTY PREMIER MURDERED. The body of Dziugas
Ozolas, the son of Lithuanian Deputy Prime Minister Romualdas
Ozolas, was found in an orchard near Vilnius on January 1, TASS
reported January 3. He is believed to have died from injuries
suffered in a fight with a group of people who had been drinking.
The police official heading the investigation said the fight
appeared to have no political motives or connection with the
elder Ozolas. Two suspects have been detained. (Saulius Girnius)




USSR

USSR--ALL-UNION TOPICS



FEDERATION COUNCIL APPROVES ECONOMIC AGREEMENT FOR 1991 IN PRINCIPLE.
Yesterday, the first session of the Council of the Federation
since its powers were increased approved in principle an economic
agreement for 1991. After the finishing touches have been put
to it in the next few days the agreement will be sent to the
republics for signature. The session was attended by representatives
of all the union republics, including those that have refused
to sign a new Union treaty, but, according to the Los Angeles
Times, Lithuanian premier Kazimiera Prunskiene said Lithuania
would not sign the economic agreement, insisting instead on a
separate agreement recognizing its independence. (Ann Sheehy)


COMPROMISE ON BUDGET ARRANGEMENTS. In an interview with "Vremya"
after the session of the Council of the Federation, Gorbachev
said that the session had been able to find principles for drawing
up both the USSR and republican budgets. The USSR budget for
1991 had been threatened by the decision of the RSFSR to drastically
reduce its contribution. Gorbachev said that representatives
of the center and the RSFSR had worked over the New Year holiday
to arrive at a solution. Mikhail Poltoranin, the RSFSR's information
minister, stated that both sides had made concessions, the RSFSR
withdrawing its objections to the center taking a portion of
the tax on enterprises. (Ann Sheehy)

INTERREPUBLICAN COMMITTEE TO ASSIST FEDERATION COUNCIL. In his
interview on "Vremya" yesterday after the session of the Council
of the Federation, Gorbachev said that it had been agreed that
an interrepublican committee would be set up to conduct all the
preparatory work for the Council. The committee would consist
of representatives nominated by the Supreme sSviets of the republics
(according to the TASS summary of the interview, they would be
appointed by the republican governments), and the chairmanship
would rotate among them. (Ann Sheehy)

YANAEV TO OVERSEE NOMINATION OF CABINET OF MINISTERS. Vice President
Gennadii Yanaev will lead the group that will nominate members
of Gorbachev's new Cabinet of Ministers--a smaller body that
will replace the larger, present Council of Ministers. This was
revealed by Gorbachev in his television interview yesterday.
It seems from what Gorbachev said that one of the ways in which
the new Cabinet will be streamlined will be by the omission of
some or all of the branch minstries that currently form a large
part of the Council of Ministers. Such a move is likely to generate
enormous opposition from industrial constituencies; small wonder,
therefore, that Gorbachev said formation of the Cabinet would
not be completed "in a day." (NCA/Elizabeth Teague)

GORBACHEV AND SHEVARDNADZE MEET. Interfax reported yesterday
a one-hour meeting between Gorbachev and out-going Foreign Minister
Shevardnadze. No details of the meeting were reported. (Suzanne
Crow)

MORE ON THE BANNING OF "VZGLYAD." Yesterday, the presenters of
the TV show "Vzglyad," Aleksandr Lyubimov and Aleksandr Politkovsky,
told Radio Liberty's Russian Service more about last week's program.
(The show, which was to discuss Shevardnadze's resignation, was
taken off the air by the authorities.) The presenters said they
were originally told by the head of Gosteleradio, Leonid Kravchenko,
that the program might perhaps be shown on January 4. But on
Janaury 2 they were summoned by Kravchenko who informed them
that the final decision was that the program would be banned
entirely and would not appear this or any other Friday. (Vera
Tolz)

PRESIDENTIAL DECREES ON BUDGETARY INCOME. The ramifications of
the two presidential decrees of December 29 have been discussed
in the media (Moscow television, December 29, and Izvestia, December
31). The principal explanation offered for both the 5% across-the-board
sales tax and the "extrabudgetary stabilization fund" is that
the additional revenues generated will be applied to subsidizing
lossmaking enterprises and to helping the poorer strata of the
population. However, these are both legitimate and regular recipients
of state budgetary expenditure. Thus the decrees may be seen
as economically justifiable measures for balancing the budget.
They will of course increase inflationary pressures, and there
is no guarantee that they will be fully observed by the union-republics.
(Keith Bush)

RETAIL PRICE INCREASES THREATENED. Anatolii Komin, deputy chairman
of Goskomtsen, has predicted significant increases in retail
prices for food and consumer goods this year (Pravda, January
2). He specified increases of 50-70 percent in the retail prices
of cars, refrigerators, radios, and television sets, but gave
no estimates for rises in food prices. These are expected to
be substantial if the subsidy bill is to be reduced: in 1990,
food subsidies exceeded 90 billion rubles, and the sum total
of procurement prices is expected to rise by over 50 billion
rubles in 1991. To help compensate for the price increases, there
will be at least partial indexing of wages, pensions, etc. (NCA/Keith
Bush)

YANAEV LUKEWARM ON PRIVATE OWNERSHIP. The AP yesterday summarized
an interview with the new Vice President in the latest issue
of the newspaper Glasnost'. Yanaev was quoted as saying he opposes
"shock" methods to revitalize the Soviet economy. Stating that
he supports Gorbachev's call for a referendum on private ownership
of land, Yanaev made it clear that he is not enthusiastic about
the extension of private ownership in general. He said he believes
"in principle" that private property is permissible "on a limited
scale" in the service sector, but added that "this form of ownership
must not exceed 5 to 10% of the total volume of the national
economy." (Elizabeth Teague)

SOVIET DEFECTORS SUPPLIED US WITH ADVANCED MISSILE. The Washington
Times reported yesterday that two officers who in November defected
from Soviet forces in Germany supplied the United States with
one of Moscow's most advanced missiles. The defections led to
the firing of Western Group of Forces Commander-in-Chief, Army
General Boris Snetkov. The defectors, Lieutenant Colonel M. Kolesnikov
and Captain G. Moiseyenko, reportedly gave an SS-19 surface-to-air
missile to the CIA, US intelligence sources said. They added
that acquisition of the truck-mounted anti-aircraft system was
an "intelligence coup" for the US, which granted political asylum
to the two officers. (Stephen Foye)

RELIGION IN THE ARMY. Major General Nikilai Grebenkin told Izvestia
yesterday that the recent enactment of a USSR law on religious
freedom would require the military to make some changes as well,
TASS reported. The Deputy Head of the MPA's Ideological Work
Directorate said regulations would be worked out permitting soldiers
to worship in their free time outside their military units. Alternative
service--at present in military construction units--should also
be instituted for conscripts whose religious beliefs forbid them
to bear arms, the general said. He claimed that last year 300
believers of various faiths refused to take the military oath
and served in construction units. (Stephen Foye)

DEFENSE MINISTRY DEMANDS VOLKOGONOV'S DISMISSAL. According to
Argumenty i fakty (No. 50, 1990), the Soviet Defense Ministry
has called for the dismissal of the well-known historian, General
Dmitrii Volkogonov, from his post of director of the Institute
of Military History. The institute is subordinated to the defense
ministry, which is displeased with speeches in which Volkogonov
has been highly critical of Soviet history. Argumenty i fakty
said that so far Volkogonov has managed to withstand the pressure
for his resignation. (Vera Tolz)

PEOPLE STILL BELIEVE IN OCTOBER REVOLUTION. According to a survey
of 2,000 Soviet citizens in 10 regions published in Pravda yesterday,
52.2% believe the October Revolution was a "correct step in our
historical development." The figure was as high as 68% in the
southern Russian city of Voronezh. But in Moscow, half of the
respondents said the revolution was a "historical mistake." The
survey also found that 76.1% of the respondents viewed the life
and work of Lenin favorably, Reuters reported yesterday. (Suzanne
Crow)

IZVESTIA CRITICIZES WALESA SPEECH. Yesterday, Izvestia published
a commentary in which leading political journalist Stanislav
Kondrashov who criticized Polish President Lech Walesa's inauguration
speech. Kondrashov complained the speech ignored the Soviet Union
while stressing Poland's desire to develop relations with Ukraine,
Belorussia, and Lithuania. Kondrashov notes that Ukraine and
Belorussia "and for the time being even Lithuania" are parts
of the USSR. "Or, in Walesa's view, is there no longer any need
to reckon with the Soviet Union?" he asks. (NCA)

DENMARK WANTS EC AID LINKED TO SOVIET POLITICAL REFORM. Danish
Foreign Minister Ulle Ellemann-Jensen said January 3 he wanted
the European Community to tell Soviet leaders that its financial
aid depends on Soviet political reform, agencies reported. He
expressed concern that Moscow is taking a tougher line toward
the Baltic republics instead of opening negotiations with them.
(Saulius Girnius)

SOVIET DELEGATION IN BAGHDAD. Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariz Aziz
met yesterday with a delegation from the Congress of People's
Deputies. The delegation was headed by people's deputy Ogiv Reda
and two other deputies, AFP reported yesterday. (Suzanne Crow)


BELONOGOV: NO TROOPS TO GULF. Deputy Foreign Minister Alexandr
Belonogov reiterated yesterday the USSR will send no troops to
the Gulf. Only the Supreme Soviet can decide on such a move,
Belonogov told Interfax, and "I see no one in the Supreme Soviet
who would be ready" to do so, DPA reported yesterday. (Suzanne
Crow)

SOVIET: US SHOULD HAVE TIES WITH NORTH KOREA. Deputy Foreign
Minister Igor Rogachev said in an interview yesterday the United
States is "lagging behind" in the process of normalization of
relations in Asia, and the USSR "would welcome" a normalization
of relations between the US and North Korea. Such a move by the
US could provide a counter-balance to the USSR's September 30
establishment of diplomatic relations with South Korea. The idea
that North Korea should be lent legitimacy as a sovereign state
contrasts with a controversial notion, circulating in the Soviet
press, that the Koreas should unify along the lines of German
unification. Rogachev's interview in Dong-A Ilbo, a Seoul daily,
was summarized by AP. (Suzanne Crow)

SOVIET JEWS DANCE FOR JOY IN MOSCOW. A group of Soviet Jews danced
for joy in Moscow yesterday as Israel reopened its consulate
after a 23-year break in diplomatic relations. After the ceremonial
raising of the Israeli flag at the old Israeli embassy building,
a dozen Soviet Jews joined hands for the hora, a traditional
dance performed in a circle, the AP reported yesterday. (NCA)


ISRAELI CONSUL SAYS DIRECT FLIGHTS EXPECTED. Consul General Arieh
Levin said at the opening of the Israeli consulate in Moscow
yesterday El Al is expected to start direct commercial flights
between Moscow and Tel Aviv at the end of January. Seats will
be limited to tourists and business people, with emigrants having
to transit through Budapest, Bucharest, or Warsaw. Levin said
the Soviet side is asking for an official Israeli guarantee that
Soviet immigrants will not be settled in the occupied territories,
AFP reported yesterday. (Suzanne Crow)

MOSCOW CUTS BACK AID TO MOZAMBIQUE. As a harbinger of what is
likely to come, the USSR has moved to cut back on some of its
Third World aid commitments. Soviet experts, numbering about
450, are being withdrawn from Mozambique and aid is likely to
be cut again in 1991. Aid in 1990 was cut to $90 million, less
than half of the $200 million provided in previous years. According
to Soviet experts interviewed in today's Reuter report, the prospect
of going home is not a welcome one. "I don't want to go home.
I've heard from friends in Moscow that things are really terrible..."
(Suzanne Crow)

USSR--REPUBLICS

SCHISM IN RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH. Moscow News (No. 51, 199O)
contains a full-page article by former prisoner of conscience
Zoya Krakhmalnikova, analyzing the breakaway of a Russian Orthodox
parish in Kashira, a raion center near Moscow, from the Moscow
Patriarchate. The dean of Kashira's cathedral, Konstantin Vasilyev,
has announced that he is Bishop Lazar of the True Orthodox Church--part
of the formerly outlawed "catacomb church." The author concludes
the article with the remark that "Freedom can be both a burden
and a blessing." (Oxana Antic)

TAJIK PRESIDENT INTERVIEWED. In an interview published in Moskovskie
novosti (No. 51, 1990), Tajik president Kakhar Makhkamov seeks
to portray himself as a political moderate tolerant of other
points of view, but he apparently regards the Tajik Democratic
Party's hunger strike prior to the republican presidential election
as a provocation intended to prevent his election. Makhkamov
says that elements of an alternative draft declaration of republican
sovereignty prepared by the Popular Front-type organization "Rastokhez"
were included in the declaration adopted by the republican Supreme
Soviet. He claims Muslim fundamentalists played a significant
role in the February, 1990, disturbances and says five of them
have been sentenced. (Bess Brown)

WRITERS INTERVENE FOR AGZYBIRLIK LEADER. The December 26 issue
of Literaturnaya gazeta reports that writers on a committee organizing
a Central Asian PEN-Center have appealed to the USSR State Prosecutor's
Office and the USSR Supreme Court to look into the case of Turkmen
poet Sherali Nurmuradov, who has been sentenced for fraud. His
supporters believe he has been framed. Although the report does
not mention that he is one of the leaders of the democratic opposition
group Agzybirlik, many Turkmen intellectuals believe that his
association with the group is the real reason Nurmuradov was
jailed. The Russian PEN-Center also issued an appeal for Nurmuradov
at its annual meeting. (Bess Brown)

POLISH NEWSPAPER IN LVOV. After several decades, a Polish-language
newspaper will resume publication in Lvov. According to a recent
issue of Nashew slovo (Warsaw), the Society and Foundation of
Friends of Lvov in Warsaw has financed the publication of Gazeta
Lwowska and the Lvov city council has provided the premises and
paper. (Roman Solchanyk)

NEW ROMANIAN-MOLDAVIAN BORDER CROSSING POINTS. Romania and Moldavia
have agreed to open two new crossing points on their common border.
Radio Bucharest said on January 3 that the new crossing points
would be in Botosani county. For this purpose, the radio said,
new buildings will be constructed and roads will be modernized.
(Michael Shafir with Dan Stancu)

TRANSDNIESTRIAN LEADERSHIP PROCRASTINATES ON DECREE. Radio Bucharest
said on January 3 that the leadership of the Gagauz and Transdniestrian
would-be republics have not yet "adequately reacted" to the Moldavian
parliament's decision to approve Gorbachev's decree "as a whole"
and have not "invalidated the illegal decisions previously adopted."
Quoting a Moldova Pres dispatch, the radio said the personal
secretary of Vladimir Emilianov, president of the would-be Transdniestrian
republic, told Moldova Pres that a decision has not yet been
adopted because Sovetskaya Moldavia, which carried the decision
of the Moldavian parliament, "was not available in town." (Michael
Shafir)

COMPENSATION FOR MOLDAVIAN VICTIMS OF STALINISM. Radio Bucharest
said on January 3 that the government of the Moldavian republic
is discussing a draft law providing for compensation and restoration
of rights to "the victims of political repression" between 1920
and 1950. The Association of the Victims of Stalinist Repression
is taking part in the drafting of the law, which would compensate
victims and return confiscated wealth. Local authorities had
been asked to estimate the "volume and value" of confiscated
property. All citizens resident in "Moldavia, USSR and Romania"
who have claims should contact the local Soviet Executive Committees
in settlements where they were subjected to persecution. (Michael
Shafir)

RUSSIAN UNIONS THREATEN TO HOLD STRIKE. The RSFSR's official
trade union federation says it will call a republic-wide strike
in March unless measures are taken to protect the population
during the Russian Federation's transition to a market economy.
Deputy chairman of the union federation Vasilii Romanov told
TASS yesterday his organization is demanding adoption of a law
on employment. (Such a law would establish social protection
for those threatened with unemployment. USSR Supreme Soviet chairman
Anatolii Lukyanov told Soviet television last week he expects
an all-Union law to be adopted at the upcoming session of the
USSR Supreme Soviet.) Romanov said his organization also wants
to see wages indexed to keep pace with rising prices, and that
his organization will organize strikes if their protests are
ignored. (NCA/Elizabeth Teague)

[as of 1300 CET] (END)

[English] [Russian TRANS | KOI8 | ALT | WIN | MAC | ISO5]

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