|The only certainty is that nothing is certain. - Pliny the Elder|
No. 8, 11 January 1991
BALTIC BALTIC STATES GORBACHEV THREATENS LITHUANIA. On January 10 Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev sent an "appeal" to the Supreme Soviet of the Lithuanian SSR that was immediately released by TASS and read over Soviet television. It declared that the situation in Lithuania had reached a "dead end" and that the Lithuanian leaders had approved "gross violations" of the Soviet and Lithuanian Constitutions and were attempting the "reestablishment of a bourgeois regime contradicting the interests of the people." Gorbachev called for the immediate revocation of all acts that were in opposition to the Soviet Constitution. (Saulius Girnius) TROOPS TAKE OVER PRESS BUILDING. This morning the Deputy Chairman the Lithuanian Supreme Council announced over Radio Vilnius that Soviet troops had taken over the press center and several other buildings. He said a foreign correspondent who was filming tanks on Putnios Street was beaten up. Later reports by radio correspondents noted that the military used force to break into the press center and one of the warning shots fired into the air struck a worker. The workers were forced to leave the building so newspapers are unlikely to appear. Another military group broke into the National Defense Department and took it over. The radio was issued appeals to the people to gather around important buildings and not provoke any incidents. (Saulius Girnius) PRO-MOSCOW ACTIVITIES. Secretary of the Lithuanian Communist Party Vladislav Shved told a press conference on January 10 that workers in key industries, including the railways, the airport, and some large factories would strike today, Reuters reported. (Saulius Girnius) NEW PRIME MINISTER ELECTED. On January 10 the Lithuanian Supreme Soviet session (broadcast live over Radio Vilnius) approved Landsbergis' nomination of deputy Albertas Simenas for prime minister by a vote of 78 to 1 with 29 abstentions. The 40 year old Simenas, a senior researcher at the Economics Institute, was elected to the parliament in February from the Druskininkai district and was appointed to its Economics Commission. Simenas is a member of the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party. Simenas told parliament he would devote more attention to domestic problems than his predecessor Kazimiera Prunskiene. (Saulius Girnius) POLAND TO STRENGTHEN TIES WITH LITHUANIA. At a press conference in London on January 10 Polish Foreign Minister Krzysztof Skubiszewski said that Poland hoped to open a consulate in Vilnius, re-open an old railroad link, and lay a communications cable between Warsaw and Vilnius. (NCA/ Saulius Girnius) LATVIANS REACT TO GORBACHEV'S ORDER. Radio Riga announced yesterday evening that, in response to Gorbachev's "appeal" on Lithuania to conform to Soviet law, Latvia has decided to downgrade its delegation to Moscow. Instead of Anatolijs Gorbunovs, chairman of the Supreme Council and Prime Minister Godmanis, Latvia sent Deputy Prime Minister Ilmars Bisers and Deputy Juris Dobelis to talk with USSR Minister of Defense Dmitrii Yazov about Moscow's threat to bring additional airborne forces to Latvia to enforce conscription into the USSR armed forces. This may be interpreted as a precautionary move to assure that the top leadership is in Riga should an emergency arise. (Dzintra Bungs) DEMONSTRATORS FAIL TO TOPPLE LATVIA'S GOVERNMENT. Yesterday about 10,000 predominantly non-Latvian demonstrators gathered in front of the Council of Ministers headquarters in Riga to manifest their discontent with the government and to call for its resignation. They demanded to talk with Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis but, when he appeared, they refused to let him address them; shortly thereafter, they dispersed. Some demonstrators tried to storm the Council of Ministers headquarters, but were prevented by militia. Though there were some minor scuffles, the demonstration could be described as "noisy, but peaceful," according to Radio Riga of January 10. (Dzintra Bungs) SOVIET TROOPS CONTINUE TO APPREHEND SUSPECTED DRAFT DODGERS. Soviet troops continue to apprehend suspected draft dodgers in Latvia, despite assurances given by Colonel General Fedor Kuz'min, commander of the Baltic Military District, that this would start only after January 13. Radio Riga reported on January 10 about the troops' (largely unsuccessful) efforts in Riga and Talsi. In Talsi they detained a girl; she was released after her mother arrived at the war commissariat with her passport. (Dzintra Bungs) POPULAR FRONT PREPARES. The Estonian Popular Front called on citizens yesterday to make ready for siege-like conditions, ETA reported. The statement urges citizens to prepare to document hostile deeds of the Soviet military with photos, notes and videotape, to hide copying machines, and to establish alternate modes of communication. Although the Popular Front statement may have been intended to nudge the population into thinking realistically about martial law, it appears to have heightened tensions in an already jittery public. (Riina Kionka) REACTION IN WASHINGTON... State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said yesterday that the US is watching the Baltic situation closely, and hopes the Soviet government isn't moving away from the philosophy and attitudes it has held for more than 18 months. On Capital Hill, 24 Congressional representatives have signed a letter to President Bush asking that the Baltic issue be a priority at the US-Soviet summit set for February. (NCA/Riina Kionka) ...AND ELSEWHERE. The European Community called on the USSR yesterday to avoid "all acts of intimidation" in the Baltics, and called for immediate talks to satisfy the "legitimate aspirations" of the Baltic peoples. Expressions of concern Bame also from Canada's Minister for External Affairs, pBrliamentary deputies in France who called for an urgent meeting of the National Assembly's Foreign Affairs Committee, and the parliament of Czechoslovakia. (NCA/Riina Kionka) FINNISH REACTION. Finnish President Mauno Koivisto told AP yesterday Finland should not give economic aid to the Baltic states since such assistance could be viewed as support for the political goals of those states and Finland must guard its own interests. On January 8, at the Baltic Sea conference, Finnish parliament chairman Kalevi Sorsa cut off debate at the afternoon plenary session when speakers took the podium to condemn Moscow's troop deployment, yesterday's Rahva Haal reported. Last week, Finnish Prime Minister Harri Holkeri told his visiting Estonian counterpart Edgar Savisaar that Finland could not support a plan for Iceland to mediate between Moscow and the Baltic states, AP reported. (Riina Kionka) USSR--ALL-UNION TOPICS "MILITARY COMPLEX AGAINST REFORM." Georgii Arbatov, formerly a key advisor to Gorbachev, said in Izvestia yesterday that the military-industrial complex was fighting reform and putting the reform process in dire danger, Reuter reported. Arbatov said that democratisation and the well-being of the people are incompatible with militarism, and charged that Soviet defense spending was far too high given the Soviet Union's domestic and international situation. (Stephen Foye) "VZGLYAD" IS BANNED. Petr Reshetov, deputy chairman of the USSR State Committee for Radio and Television, has signed an order suspending for an unspecified length of time the production and broadcast of the Soviet Union's most popular TV show, "Vzglyad." One of "Vzglyad's" moderators, Aleksandr Politkovsky, revealed this fact to Radio Liberty's Russian Service yesterday. According to the available estimates, the weekly program used to be watched up 100 million viewers, but the December 28 and January 4 editions "Vzglyad" were banned because the editors intended to discuss the resignation of USSR Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze. (Julia Wishnevsky) KGB BUDGET. The draft of the Soviet national budget calls for a 4,900-miliion-ruble allocation for the KGB budget. According to Central televison, January 9, more than half this amount is for maintaining the KGB Border Troops. The officially published figure is unlikely, however, to represent real KGB spending. Many items in the KGB budget, especially those relating to political surviellance, are hidden in the budget of the other ministries, such as the Ministry of Communications. (NCA/Victor Yasmann) MILITARY BUDGET DEBATE A STAND-OFF. Following intense debate the USSR Supreme Soviet yesterday was unable to reach agreement on a military budget figure for 1991, TASS reported. The report said that representatives of the defense complex categorically refused to countenance further reductions in defense appropriations. Chairman of the USSR State Commission for Military Industrial Questions Igor' Belousov called for approval of the government's proposed 98.6 billion ruble budget--a hike of some 25 billion rubles over last year's budget. A representative of the Supreme Soviet State Security Committee, Yurii Samsonov, requested 99.9 billion rubles. (Stephen Foye) GORBACHEV AIDE WARNS OF "UTTER DEFEAT" OF DEMOCRACY. Gorbachev's economic adviser, Nikolai Petrakov, agrees with Shevardnadze that there are clear signs of a move to right in official Soviet policy. Interviewed by Trud December 27, Petrakov said the rise to power of the opponents of reform would mean not "a temporary retreat" but the total defeat of the liberal forces. Such a defeat, Petrakov adds, would last a long time, "not just one year or even five years." Those who are calling for a suspension of the reform process so that there can be a "restoration of elementary order," Petrakov argues, should remember that the reforms themselves were necessitated by the total collapse of what he terms the "feudal serfdom" means of maintaining law and order. (Julia Wishnevsky) RADICALS SPLIT OVER UNION TREATY. The Interregional Group of USSR People's Deputies is split over the new Union treaty, according to Kommersant (No. 48, 1990). At a meeting of the Group on December 13 and 14, its co-chairman Yurii Afanas'ev accused another co-chairman, Boris Yeltsin, of "great Russian chauvinism" because the second session of the RSFSR Congress of People's Deputies agreed in principle to sign the new Union treaty. The Group called instead for the signing of temporary agreements between various republics for the period of the transition from the Soviet federation to a union of sovereign states. (Julia Wishnevsky) SOVIET FILMMAKERS PROTEST "ATTACK ON DEMOCRACY." Sovetskaya ku'tura (December 29) reported a meeting held two days earlier in the USSR Union of Cinema Workers. Many participants voiced their strong opposition to the attack on democracy launched at the last session of USSR Congress of People's Deputies. The speakers condemned recent developments in the USSR as the revival of the "administrative-command system." The newly-elected soviets, participants argued, have shown themselves incapable of exercising their powers to implement the necessary political and economical changes. History repeats itself: in 1988, this union was the only body that formally protested the publication of Nina Andreeva's letter. (Julia Wishnevsky) EX-IM BANK EXTENDS GUARANTESS TO US EXPORTERS. The US Export-Import Bank plans to extend loan guarantees and insurance to American companies that export goods to the Soviet Union. The move is intended to remove a competitive disadvantage for US exporters. The bank will only guarantee and insure exports up to 50 million dollars per sale because of restrictions on its loan exposure to the USSR. That should not be a difficult restriction for exporters to work around, and the move should boost exports to the USSR significantly. (NCA/John Tedstrom) CONSCRIPTS TO WORK ON MOSCOW METRO. Helping to fill a manpower shortage, one thousand Soviet conscripts will be ordered to perform their military service as workers in the Moscow metro system, the Interfax News Agency reported yesterday. According to an AFP account, the decision was taken by Russian Federation Supreme Soviet chairman Boris Yeltsin and Soviet Defense Minister Dmitrii Yazov. There are currently 5,000 vacant jobs in the metro, the report said, and metro employees threatened to strike earlier this month because of poor working conditions and pay. (Stephen Foye) SHEVARDNADZE ON BALTIC DEPLOYMENTS... In an interview with Christian Science Monitor television on January 9, Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze said he did not consider the deployments in the Baltic states were evidence of dictatorship which he had warned of in his resignation speech. "I can't say this is the display of some kind of dictatorship. This is a simple desire to introduce order, because it's impossible to live under conditions of chaos and anarchy. It's chaos and anarchy that can lead to dictatorship." AP carried exerpts of the interview yesterday. (Suzanne Crow) ...IMPLIES HE MIGHT STAY? Shevardnadze and his aides have insisted since December 20 that his resignation is final. However one statement at the end of his interview with CSM television makes Shevarndadze's resignation seem less than certain. "It's most important now to solve this question -- whether to relieve me of my duties and then, not as important a question, what will I do next," Reuters reported yesterday. While it is true that the Supreme Soviet must "approve" Shevardnadze's resignation and successor, it has never seemed likely that the legislature would be able to force force him to stay. (Suzanne Crow) SHEVARNDADZE ON SUMMIT. In the same CSM television intervew, Shevardnadze urged the United States and Soviet Union to go ahead with their planned summit in February for the sake of US-Soviet relations and the world because "we need to calm people down." Shevardnadze said there is no reason to postpone the meeting "unless things get complicated in the Gulf." Shevardnadze said the US and Soviet Union could hold a separate meeting to iron out some of the hitches in the START talks if necessary, Reuters said yesterday. (Suzanne Crow) NOMINATION OF FOREIGN MINISTER. According to an unnamed Soviet diplomat quoted by Reuters yesterday, Gorbachev will name a new candidate for foreign minister at the earliest tomorrow or at latest by January 15 when the Supreme Soviet session is due to end. (Suzanne Crow) SOVIET REACTION TO GULF TALKS. The Soviet Union voiced its regret yesterday at the failure of Baker and Aziz to reach a peaceful settlement to the Gulf crisis. Soviet Foreign Ministry Spokesman Vitalii Churkin noted that Baker had contacted Shevardnadze by telephone to inform him of the results of the meeting: Shevardnadze stressed that Moscow's cooperation with the United States continues. Meanwhile, Anatolii Filov, a foreign ministry expert on the Middle East and North Africa, met Yassar Arafat yesterday. Churkin said, "The Soviet side attached great importance to the possibilities that the Palestinians have of exerting a positive influence on the position of the Iraqi leadership," TASS reported yesterday. (Suzanne Crow) 290 SOVIET CITIZENS REMAIN IN IRAQ. The Soviet foreign ministry said yesterday 290 Soviet citizens will remain in Iraq to ensure the operation of Soviet institutions there, TASS reported. Of them, 151 are specialists whose duty it is to preserve Soviet equipment. The Foreign Ministry did not elaborate on the duties of the specialists, but said the citizens are living in a safe part of the country, far from military and industrial installations. The foreign ministry said yesterday that the Soviet mission in Baghdad would be pared down to a minimum. (Suzanne Crow) FOREIGN MINISTRY CALLS FOR CFE RATIFICATION. Soviet Foreign Ministry Spokesman Vitalii Churkin said yesterday the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty is "good," "necessary" and "should be ratified." His statement was likely meant to counter arguments in Sovetskaya rossiya (January 9) saying the treaty gives an advantage to NATO, AP reported yesterday. (Suzanne Crow) USSR--IN THE REPUBLICS RSFSR FOREIGN MINISTRY ISSUES STATEMENT. In a statement circulated by TASS on January 9, the RSFSR ministry of foreign affairs documented its recommendations for Soviet foreign policy. The document calls for the continuation of new thinking in Soviet foreign policy, the improvement of relations with Germany and ratification of treaties related to unification, and no deployment of Soviet troops in the Persian Gulf. Publication may have been intended to put down rumors circulating abroad about a potential shift in Soviet foreign policy. (Suzanne Crow) WHO WILL SIGN ECONOMIC STABILIZATION AGREEMENT FOR 1991? In an interview carried by Novosti yesterday, the chairman of the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet Leonid Kravchuk said he thought most republics, including even Georgia, would sign the emergency economic stabilization for 1991 due to be finalized at a meeting of the Federation Council tomorrow. The Baltic republics, he said, were not in principle against the agreement but want to sign it on an inter-state basis--to which Gorbachev is hardly likely to agree. Those who did not sign, Kravchuk suggested, would not have the right to receive anything. (Ann Sheehy) REPUBLICS TO SHARE IN FOREIGN CREDITS, INDEBTEDNESS. USSR Finance Minister Pavlov said in the USSR Supreme Soviet that by agreement between the Union and all the republics all tied foreign loans being accepted today are being accepted with the agreement of the republics and correspondingly being shared between the republics, having in view that in future the republics themselves will take on this indebtedness and the paying off of these debts, Moscow radio reported yesterday. (Ann Sheehy) TATARSTAN SUPREME SOVIET CHAIRMAN ON UNION TREATY. Mirtimer Shaimiev, chairman of the Tatarstan Supreme Soviet, said in Izvestia yesterday that he was sure the republic would give full support to the Union treaty in the forthcoming referendum. He insisted that Tatarstan must sign the treaty as a fully-fledged member of the Union without obtaining the agreement of the RSFSR. Relations with the latter should be based on a bilateral treaty, in Shaimiev's view. All property in Tataria, with the exception of that specified in the Union treaty, should be the property of the Tatar SSR. (Ann Sheehy) UKRAINIAN PEOPLE'S DEPUTY FORMALLY CHARGED. At a press conference held at the Ukrainian Writers' Union yesterday, lawyers for Ukrainian people's deputy Stepan Khmara announced that the prosecutor's office has formally charged the parliamentarian, Radio Kiev reported yesterday. Last night Central Television's "TSN" news program informed viewers that Khmara has been charged according to seven articles of the criminal code. Khmara was arrested on November 17 in the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet for allegedly assaulting a militia colonel on Revolution Day in Kiev. (Roman Solchanyk) UZBEKISTAN DISCUSSES LAW ON ENTREPRENEURSHIP. TASS reported on January 9 that a draft law on entrepreneurship has been submitted for public discussion in Uzbekistan. According to it, any citizen may open a business, as may foreigners. Owners of businesses wil have the right to hire and fire employees, and freely dispose of profits remaining after taxes are paid. No limit will be placed on personal income. According to TASS, the authors of the draft have sought to exclude any possibility of interference by the authorities in the functioning of private firms. Private owners will also be allowed to conduct business directly with foreign partners, and the state will be forbidden to confiscate their convertible currency earnings. (Bess Brown) US ECONOMIST TO ASSIST KAZAKHSTAN. Radio Moscow reported yesterday that Chan Young Bang, a professor of economics at the University of San Francisco, has been offered the vice-chairmanship of a Committee of Economic Experts that has been set up in Kazakhstan to help rescue the republic from its economic crisis. Bang, described by TASS as a specialist on market relations, helped lay the groundwork for the South Korean economic miracle, which political leaders and intellectuals in Kazakhstan hope to replicate in their own republic. Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbaev recently visited South Korea in a quest for trade partners and economic know-how. (Bess Brown) AZERI RECRUITS PROTEST. Sixty-two newly drafted soldiers of Azerbaijani nationality, protesting against being stationed so far from home, left their units and occupied a train in the Southern Urals town of Zlatoust, TASS reported yesterday. Attempts by commanding officers to persuade them to return to their units failed initially, but the protestors reportedly gave up after being told that their actions were illegal and receiving a written assurance that their demands would be examined. TASS did not say when the incident took place. (NCA/Stephen Foye)
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