|The only certainty is that nothing is certain. - Pliny the Elder|
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)
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