|The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be ignited. - Plutarch|
No. 10, 15 January 1991
BALTIC STATES EVENTS IN LITHUANIA TODAY. At today's session of the Lithuanian Supreme Council, President Vytautas Landsbergis said that despite Gorbachev's assurances that health officials could inspect the buildings seized by the army to search for further casualties, the military refused to allow them to inspect the upper floors of the television tower. Landsbergis cited rumors that some workers may have succeeded in barricading themselves there. The military has also been shipping out equipment from the television buildings. His deputy Kazimieras Motieka told the parliament that Generals Uskhopchik and Varennikov told him at their meeting yesterday that the army had not issued any curfew in Lithuania. When Motieka mentioned that military vehicles were driving through Vilnius broadcasting the curfew, Uskhopchik said that this could only help keep the situation quiet. (Saulius Girnius) SOVIETS SEIZE RADIO TRANSMITTER IN VILNIUS. On January 14 Soviet troops in Vilnius seized a radio transmitter station, called Tochka, and evicted the employees, Reuter reported that day. The soldiers also confiscated equipment from two Western television cameramen. The seizure of the relay station was a clear violation of the pledge by the military not to take over any more buildings in Lithuania. (Saulius Girnius) POLISH PARLIAMENTARIANS IN LITHUANIA. PAP reported yesterday that sejm deputies Adam Michnik and Krzystof Dowgiallo and Senator Andrzej Celinski travelled to Vilnius. Speaking at the session of the Lithuanian Supreme Council, Michnik said that the latest developments in Vilnius were a tragedy for the whole of post-Communist Europe. (Saulius Girnius) IGNALINA WORKERS CALL OFF THREATENED STRIKE. Workers at the atomic power plant at Ignalina yesterday announced that they were calling off a strike which would have begun tomorrow, the RFE Lithuanian Service reported on January 14. They condemned the Soviet military action against civilians at the television tower on January 12 and expressed condolences for the dead. (Saulius Girnius) GENERAL VARENNIKOV ARRIVES IN LITHUANIA. The Commander of Soviet Ground Forces General Valentin Varennikov arrived in Vilnius last night to take charge of military operations in Lithuania, The Washington Post reported today. Varennikov was active in Soviet army activities in Afghanistan and last month signed an appeal to Gorbachev to impose presidential rule in troubled areas. He apparently will take charge from Commander of the Vilnius military garrison Major General Vladimir Uskhopchik, who is alleged to have ordered the attack on the Vilnius television tower unilaterally without orders from Gorbachev and Soviet Defense Minister Dmitrii Yazov. (Saulius Girnius) NATIONAL SALVATION COMMITTEE CALLS FOR PRESIDENTIAL RULE. Ideology chief of the Lithuanian Communist Party Juozas Jermalavicius, who has been acting as the spokesman of the Lithuanian National Salvation Committee, yesterday called for the rapid introduction of presidential rule in Lithuania, The Boston Globe reported today. Jermalavicius said that he had sent a message to RSFSR leader Boris Yeltsin saying that the committee could not guarantee his security if he came to Vilnius. The membership of the committee has never been revealed and Jermalavicius said that he received its documents "by courier."" (Saulius Girnius) GORBACHEV ON TALK WITH LANDSBERGIS. President Gorbachev told the USSR Supreme Soviet yesterday that his telephone talk with Landsbergis had been "very unproductive," TASS reported. He added that it would be very hard "to find ways to conduct dialogue at a time when the republic is led by such people." (Saulius Girnius) LATVIAN SUPREME COUNCIL REVOKES ITS NOVEMBER 14 DECISION. Chairman of the Supreme Council Anatolijs Gorbunovs announced on Radio Riga this morning that the deputies had just decided to revoke its decision of November 14. This step was taken in an effort to defuse the mounting tensions in Latvia and in view of the ongoing talks with the Soviet military. The November 14 decision called on municipalities to halt supplies and social services to the USSR troops stationed in Latvia; stated that the MVD special units, nicknamed "Black Berets," can no longer function as law enforcers in Latvia; and called for the establishment of a special commission to review the status of CPSU institutions in Latvia. (Dzintra Bungs) BALTIC MILITARY DISTRICT COMMANDER THREATENS LATVIA. Yesterday, at a meeting of various social and political organizations in Latvia, Colonel General Fedor Kuzmin demanded that the Latvian government and Supreme Council submit to Soviet authority, by adhering to the USSR and Latvian SSR Constitutions; he demanded also that the Latvian Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Customs be disarmed. Kuzmin threatened to use force to implement these demands. These demands, in effect, subverted the conciliation meeting of various political forces in Latvia that was initiated by Anatolijs Gorbunovs, according to Reuters and Radio Riga of January 14.(Dzintra Bungs) APPEAL TO USSR REPUBLICS TO MONITOR EVENTS IN LATVIA. The Latvian Council of Ministers sent a telegram, signed by Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis, to its counterparts in the USSR Bepublics and to their Supreme Soviets. The Latvians asked tBat observers be sent to Latvia. Concerned over yesterday's threat by the Baltic Military district commander to remove by force the government and Supreme Council, the Latvians said that they want to prevent a recurrence in Latvia of the reBent events in Lithuania, reported Radio Riga on January 15.B "BLACK BERETS" ATTACK MILITIA, SEIZE POLICE ACADEMY. AccoBding to Radio Riga of January 14 and 15, yesterday the "Black Berets" tried to disar the militia station in the VecmiBgravis section of Riga and roughed up several officers there. They also attacked truck drivers and damaged their vehiclBs which were parked near bridges in order to hamper a possible Soviet army attack on Riga. Today, at around 2 AM local time, the "Black Berets" seized a police academy on the outskirts of Riga, seized all weapons, beat up two officers there, OBd then left the site. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIAN COMMUNISTS DEMAND SALVATION COMMITTEE TO TAKE CONTROL. At its plenum on January 14, the Latvian Communist Party criticized the situation in the republic and demanded the suspension of the Latvian government. At a meeting with Gorbunovs later that day, LCP Secretary Ojars Potreki threatened to lead strikes against the government. A mass meeting of the anti-government forces is to take place at the ASK Stadium this afternoon, reported Radio Riga and TASS on January 14 and 15. Addressing the people of Latvia this morning on Radio Riga, Gorbunovs asked Latvians continue to act with restraint and avoid situations that could provoke a confrontation. (Dzintra Bungs) JANUARY 16: DAY OF MOURNING AND SOLIDARITY WITH LITHUANIA. The Latvian Supreme Council declared January 16 a day of mourning for those who had lost their lives as a consequence of the Soviet military aggression against Lithuania and solidarity with Lithuanian aspirations of freedom and independence, reported Radio Riga on January 14. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIAN MEETING WITH YAZOV AND MOISEEV. According to Radio Riga of January 12, a Latvian delegation, headed by Deputy Prime Minister Ilmars Bisers, met with USSR Secretary of Defense Dmitrii Yazov and Armed Forces Chief of Staff Army General Mikhail Moiseev on January 11 in Moscow to discuss the problems concerning Soviet troops in Latvia. There was considerable discussion over the alternative service that was instituted in Latvia last year. Yazov wanted this abolished, while the Latvians want to maintain it and protect the men now doing alternative service from being pressed into the USSR armed forces. Yazov reiterated that no additional airborne forces would be sent to Latvia in the foreseeable future. (Dzintra Bungs) NO FORCE OBR ESTONIA. A Soviet military delegation assured Estonian officials yesterday that force will not be used to enforce thB draft, Estonian Radio reported last night. Estonia's delegation, led by Prime Minister Edgar Savisaar and President Arnold Ruutel, met yesterday with a delegation headed by GeBeral Staff Deputy Chief Col.Gen. Grigorii Krivosheev. The two sides agreed that draftees from Estonia may serve in Btheir home republic after a short training period in Latvia, that Estonia's parliament would discuss how local and republic-level government bodies could help enforce the draft, and that soldiers who have left their current military units may serve out their remaining time in Estonia without punishment. (Riina Kionka) COMMUNISTS ISSUE ULTIMATUM. Pro-Moscow Communists in the Estonian Supreme Council yesterday demanded the resignation of the government and the dissolution of the parliament, the Estonian Foreign Ministry reported. The Moscow-loyalist deputies complained of price hikes and tax laws, and accused Prime Minister Edgar Savisaar's government of acting against popular interests. The deputies issued an ultimatum, saying they will resort to "other means" if their demands are not met. Supporters of the group also distributed the ultimatum text yesterday in Tallinn. (Riina Kionka) PRO-MOSCOW RALLY TODAY. Moscow loyalists will gather today in Tallinn for a major demonstration, the Estonian media report. Flyers advertising the demonstration have been distributed in Tallinn since last Friday, and the conservative Russian nationalist Intermovement radio station "Nadezhda" (Hope) has broadcast continuing appeals for attendance, ETA reported. The meeting is billed as a protest of recent price hikes, but seems likely to become a rally against Estonia's government and parliament. The demonstration promises to be large--Estonian Radio reports that busloads of participants from the Leningrad oblast having been arriving in Tallinn since Sunday. (Riina Kionka) DEMONSTRATIONS IN ESTONIA. Mourners gathered for demonstrations throughout Estonia yesterday, Estonian Radio reported. The Popular Front organized meetings in Tallinn, Johvi, Parnu, Tartu and many other Estonian cities to mourn the casulaties of last weekend's crackdown in Lithuania and to protest the Soviet use of military force. A three-day official mourning period continues. (Riina Kionka) THREE PLUS TWO GROUP MEETS AGAIN. Representatives of the Estonian and Latvian citizens movements and the three Baltic parliaments--known as the Three Plus Two talks--have called for help in protecting the Baltic independence drive, Paevaleht reported on January 13. The Three Plus Two group, meeting in Tallinn on January 12, issued a joint appeal to all citizens and oppressed peoples of the USSR to "Say 'No' to the criminal Stalinist legacy in domestic and foreign policy." (Riina Kionka) MOLDAVIAN PARLIAMENT BACKS LITHUANIA. In a statement adopted unanimously yesterday, the Moldavian Supreme Soviet Presidium termed Moscow's actions in Lithuania a "military intervention" and "a crude attempt against the independence of the Lithuanian state and the aspirations of other republics toward sovereignty and independence". The Presidium "condemned the anti-constitutional actions of the USSR leadership which bears the responsibility for the murder of innocent people". The Presidium demanded an immediate investigation by "neutral parties" to determine the responsibility for the use of force. (Vladimir Socor). MOLDAVIAN DELEGATION TO VILNIUS. At the same session, the Moldavian Supreme Soviet Presidium sent a four-member delegation to Vilnius with the mandate to express the Moldavian people's support for Lithuania and to liaise with the Supreme Council and President Landsbergis. (Vladimir Socor). BELORUSSIAN DEPUTIES DECRY VILNIUS TRAGEDY. Protest meetings were held January 13 throughout Minsk and additional rallies are scheduled for this week, RFE-RL's Belorussian service has learned. Twelve people's deputies of Belorussia have signed a statement to Gorbachev and to Lithuanian president Landsbergis inOBhich they condemn the military intervention and express support for the Lithuanian people. The statement calls on Gorbachev to pull out all troops from the Baltic states, negotiate with the legitimate governments of those republics, bring those responsible for the bloodbath to justice, and recognize de facto and de jure the sovereignty of all Soviet republics. (Kathy Mihalisko) BELORUSSIAN POLITICAL PARTIES PASS RESOLUTION ON LITHUANIA. The RFE-RL Belorussian service has also learned that on January 14, the organizing committee of the Republican Party, the United Democratic Party of Belorussia, and the Minsk chapter of the Belorussian Popular Front passed a resolution on Soviet actions in Lithuania. Zyanon Paznyak, chairman of the Popular Front, said in an interview that the Soviet Union's criminal act will guarantee rather than thwart Lithuania's freedom. The republican Supreme Soviet is expected to discuss the Lithuanian situation when it meets today. (Kathy Mihalisko) NOTE ON NIKOLAI DEMENTEI. Belorussian Supreme Soviet chairman Nikolai Dementei is one of the three members of the Council of the Federation dispatched by Gorbachev to Lithuania. Dementei was already chairman when, in March, 1990, the Presidium of the republican Supreme Soviet resolved to press territorial claims against Lithuania if the latter did not recognize its post-1939 status. Both the first secretary and secretary of the pro-Moscow Lithuanian CP, which seems to be positioning itself to seize power in Lithuania, were invited guests at last month's 31st Congress of the Belorussian CP. (Kathy Mihalisko) ESTONIA, RUSSIA SIGN BILATERAL AGREEMENT. The Republic of Estonia and the RSFSR signed an economic-political agreement on January 12, the Estonian Foreign Ministry reported that day. Under the terms of the agreement, the two parties recognize each other's sovereignty. The agreement, under negotiation since last summer, is the first such treaty between the Russian Federation and a Baltic state. It has been followed by a similar agreement between Latvia and the RSFSR (see below). (Riina Kionka) LATVIAN-RSFSR ACCORD SIGNED. Radio Riga reported on January 14 that the Latvian and RSFSR heads of state, Anatolijs Gorbunovs and Boris Yeltsin, have signed an agreement of cooperation between the two republics. Initial reports indicate that this was a political agreement that recognizes the sovereignty of each signatory state and would be effective for 10 years. The agreement was endorsed in Tallinn on January 13. (Dzintra Bungs) USSR--ALL-UNION TOPICS GORBACHEV DENIES RESPONSIBILITY. Gorbachev claimed to have learned of Sunday's tragic events in Lithuania only after they had happened, and laid responsibility for the attack on the local military commander. His comments were echoed by the Defense Minister and MVD Chief, both of whom denied that the order to attack had originated in Moscow. Gorbachev's denial strains credulity, however, even if the harshness of the assault exceeded his wishes. Gorbachev stands at the top of four hierarchies--the Army, KGB, MVD, and CPSU--involved in planning the operation. Furthermore, by his own actions over the past year he has created both the institutions and the climate that made the attack possible. (Stephen Foye) YELTSIN DENOUNCES BALTIC INTERVENTION. RSFSR Supreme Soviet chairman Boris Yeltsin told a press conference in Moscow yesterday that the crackdown in the Baltics was only the first step in "a powerful offensive" against democracy throughout the USSR. He said the RSFSR would remain vigilant for any similar attempts to undermine its sovereignty. He also said events in the Baltic states had dealt a severe blow to the possibility of adopting Gorbachev's proposed new Union treaty. (NCA) YELTSIN'S STATURE INCREASED. Yeltsin's press conference was given good coverage on "Vremya" last night. Present in the audience, along with journalists, were top-ranking RSFSR people's deputies. Yeltsin's bearing was forceful but dignified. By contrast with an interview with Gorbachev shown earlier on "Vremya," in which a harassed looking Gorbachev angrily denied prior knowledge of the Lithuanian crackdown, Yeltsin appeared statesmanlike. Along with democratic movements such as "Democratic Russia," which have sunk their differences in response to the Baltic events, Yeltsin seems set to emerge from the tragic events of the past week with his stature enhanced. The new "Radio Rossiya" has also come into its own as the voice of the USSR's democratic opposition. (Elizabeth Teague) PRIME MINISTER APPOINTED. The USSR Supreme Soviet yesterday approved Gorbachev's nomination of Valentin Pavlov to replace the hospitalized Nikolai Ryzhkov as USSR prime minister. The appointment does not inspire hope that Gorbachev's leadership is planning to move ahead with a market-oriented reform any time soon. Even more than Ryzhkov, Pavlov is a child of the "command-administrative system." A Russian born in 1937, he has in the course of his career worked for all the big players in this system: Gosplan (the central planning body), Minfin (Ministry of Finance) and Goskomtsen (State Committee for Prices). At the end of last year, Moskovskie novosti (No. 46, 1990) ran an expose on the potential conflict of interest created when Pavlov, then USSR minister of finance, became chairman of the publishing consortium Delovoi mir (Business World). (Elizabeth Teague) BESSMERTNYKH ELECTED AS FOREIGN MINISTER. The Supreme Soviet today elected Aleksandr A. Bessmertnykh by an overwhelming majority, TASS reported. Currently ambassador to the United States, Bessmertnykh should be a welcome nominee from the West's point of view. He has served as a diplomat in the United States (including UN postings) for nearly 20 of his 57 years. Bessmertnykh is well-versed in arms control, speaks flawless English, and is an expert at using back channel diplomacy. Bessmertnykh's appointment may help to calm Western fears that Soviet foreign policy might veer to the right. (Suzanne Crow) GORBACHEV: KIND WORDS FOR SHEVARDNADZE. In his appointment of Bessmertnykh, Gorbachev dwelt on the work of Shevardnadze. "I think that Comrade Shevardnadze justified my hopes and made a great contribution to the huge task of transforming our foreign policy, which had an impact not only in our country, in our internal processes, but most of all, it had a constructive influence on the entire international situation," TASS reported. (Suzanne Crow) TODAY VILNIUS, TOMORROW MOSCOW? RSFSR deputy Viktor Mironov predicted at Yeltsin's press conference yesterday that the Lithuania scenario will be repeated in Moscow within a few days. Citing unnamed KGB employees, Mironov claimed that an RSFSR "Committee for National Salvation" has already been formed and that protests against the activities of the RSFSR soviets are due to start on January 16. Mironov asked Yeltsin what he was going to do to safeguard RSFSR institutions. In response, Yeltsin cited the need to set up a republican KGB and a Russian republican army. (Russian BD/Julia Wishnevsky) MILITARY REFORM PLAN PUBLISHED. On January 11 the military press published the Defense Ministry's draft plan for military reform, TASS reported. According to Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Colonel General Grigorii Krivosheev, the plan significantly increases republican control over defense matters, including questions connected with organizing, deploying, and funding the armed forces. The establishment of national formations are apparently ruled out, however. Krivosheev stated that the plan called for a multinational "cadres army" based on the principle of extraterritoriality. He said the plan would be submitted to the USSR Supreme Soviet and also to the Union republics. (Stephen Foye) NEW DRAFT AND SERVICE REGULATIONS. A top Defense Ministry spokesman yesterday explained to TASS changes in draft and service regulations envisioned in the Ministry's recently published draft reform plan. According to Major General Leonid Ivashov, conscription will continue, though the proportion of soldiers serving voluntarily by contract will be raised. Additional draft deferments will be allowed, however, including for those draftees who have a child under three years of age, those serving as people's deputies, and those whose family has a mean income beneath the local poverty level. Alternative service for religious reasons will also be introduced. (Stephen Foye) EXTERNAL INDEBTEDNESS FOR 1991. During the course of the USSR Supreme Soviet debate on the plan and budget for 1991, Valentin Pavlov proposed a ceiling of 39 billion rubles for the USSR's foreign indebtedness in 1991. When asked whether these were hard-currency rubles, Pavlov replied that the figure was based on three exchange rates: "the multiplicity of rates is not ideal; the idea is not ours but is established practice" (Moscow TV, January 10). It is thought that the debt ceiling target for 1991 will be equivalent to some $65 billion, compared with a 1990 gross debt estimated at $52 billion by the IMF. (Keith Bush) NEW STATISTICS ON RELIGIOSITY IN THE SOVIET UNION. Panorama (an illustrated journal of the Moldavian CP Central Committee) of December, 199O published the results of a poll conducted by the All-Union Center for the Study of Public Opinion at the end of 1989. The poll sought to determine what the Soviet population thinks about the role religion plays in contemporary Soviet society, and about the activities of religious organizations concerning the solution of social problems. According to this poll, nearly half of the adult population of the country acknowledged in some manner the usefulness of religious values. (Oxana Antic) USSR--IN THE REPUBLICS MOLDAVIAN PREMIER IN US. Interviewed January 11 by RFE in Washington, Moldavian Prime Minister Mircea Druc said that he had held talks at the US Commerce Department and the Agriculture Department on possibilities of US-Moldavian cooperation (see Daily Report of January 9 and 10 for Druc's talks at the White House and the State Department). Druc also said that he had held talks on economic cooperation in several American states, and had signed a statement of intent on establishing an "economic partnership" between Moldavia and Florida. In all of his talks, Druc said, he sought to interest American business in investing in Moldavia. (Vladimir Socor) OFFICE OF BELORUSSIAN LITERARY JOURNAL IS RANSACKED. "Vandalism or Search?" is how Komsomols'kaya pravda titled a brief report January 4 on the ransacking of the offices of Litaratura i mastastva, the radical weekly of the Belorussian Writers' Union. The vandals emptied the contents of desks onto the floor but, strangely, did not steal equipment. An apparent search was also conducted at the offices of the liberal journals Polymya and Neman, possibly as part of the disturbing trend in recent weeks to clamp down on the Soviet press. (Kathy Mihalisko) OBLAST RESTORED IN TURKMENISTAN. On January 11, Radio Moscow reported that Balkan Oblast has been created in Turkmenistan. The report noted that the abolition in 1988 of Krasnovodsk Oblast, the territory of which is essentially that which has now become Balkan Oblast, was a mistake which disrupted a large portion of the republic. The center of the new oblast will be the town of Nebit-Dag. (Bess Brown) SOVETSKAYA KIRGIZIYA SEEKS NEW NAME. In view of the new name of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan, finally adopted by the republican Supreme Soviet on December 15, the republican Russian-language daily asked in its December 16 issue for readers to propose a new designation for the newspaper. The name Sovetskaya Kirgiziya no longer fits the contemporary situation, according to the editors. (Bess Brown) CONGRESS OF KOMI PEOPLE. A congress of the Komi people took place in the Komi capital Syktyvkar on January 11-12, TASS reported. Its purpose was to "unite the healthy forces of society" to preserve the Komi people and its traditions. The congress alarmed many members of non-Komi nationalities because of the demands put forward by nationalist and extremist groups. The national Komi party "Biarmiya", for instance, is demanding an independent Komi state uniting the Perm subgroup of Finno-Ugrian peoples which would adopt discriminatory measures against non-Komi. The congress was attended by Komi from Moscow, the Udmurt and Mari republics, and elsewhere in the Soviet Union. (Ann Sheehy) BID TO FORM JEWISH AUTONOMOUS REPUBLIC DROPPED. Under pressure of public opinion the presidium of the Jewish autonomous oblast soviet has withdrawn a draft declaration that would have transformed the oblast into an autonomous republic and separated it from Khabarovsk krai, Komsomol'skaya pravda reported January 5. One of the reasons for the failure of the initiative was said to be the current level of Jewish emigration. Only 4.1 percent of the oblast population was Jewish at the time of the 1989 census--under 9,000 people--and in 1990 alone more than 1,000 Jews left for Israel. (Ann Sheehy)
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