|We are so bound together that no man can labor for himself alone. Each blow he strikes in his own behalf helps to mold the universe. - K. Jerome|
No. 13, 18 January 1991
BALTIC STATES LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT TODAY. At today's session broadcast live over Kaunas Radio President Vytautas Landsbergis told the Lithuanian Supreme Council that deputy Vladislav Shved was in Paris, although the Lithuanian prosecutor is investigating charges of slander against him. Landsbergis suggested that parliament should suspend Shved's rights as a deputy. He also noted that the imposition of martial law in Lithuania without the agreement of the Lithuanian authorities would be illegal. Deputy chairman of parliament Ceslovas Stankevicius reported on his talks the previous day with representatives of the RSFSR on the signing of a treaty between Lithuania and the RSFSR. (Saulius Girnius) LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT YESTERDAY. One of the more important decisions made by the Lithuanian parliament was to conduct a universal poll among all citizens of Lithuania or persons having rights to citizenship. The poll would ask: "Do you agree with the assertion in the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania that is being prepared that the Lithuanian state is an independent democratic republic?" This proposition is an apparent attempt to reach a compromise with Gorbachev's demand that Lithuania should hold a referendum on withdrawing from the USSR. The parliament also issued a statement condemning the campaign of disinformation in the Soviet media about events in Lithuania. (Saulius Girnius) TARAZEVICH AT LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT. Radio Kaunas broadcast live the speech of USSR SupSov envoy Georgii Tarazevich at the Lithuanian Supreme Council on January 17. He said: "The tragedy of people's deaths is a crime, a crime which needs investigating. The guilty must be found and conclusions must be drawn so as to insure that in the future such crimes will not be repeated." The most important part of his mission was "to help the lawful leadership of the Republic of Lithuania and the parliament" to restore normalcy. He said that his mission would "also be in some way to find means for constructive cooperation" for the benefit of Lithuania and its neighbors. (Saulius Girnius) SOVIET GENERAL REFUSES TO GUARANTEE NO ATTACK ON PARLIAMENT. On January 17 Major General Yurii Nauman, a member of a Soviet Defense Ministry team sent to Lithuania after the assault on the Vilnius television tower, told a press conference that the parliament building was now "so well fortified that the soldiers do not want to attack it," AFP reported. The building had been turned into a fortress with double tank traps dug along one side of the building as well as walls and sand bags. Nauman, nevertheless, refused to give an absolute guarantee that the army would not attack the building. (Saulius Girnius) SOVIET OFFICER REBUTS "VREMYA" REPORT. An army officer appeared before the Lithuanian Supreme Council yesterday to affirm that he had indeed urged Soviet soldiers not to fight against the Lithuanian civilian population, Radio Kaunas reported. A Soviet "Vremya" broadcast earlier denied that Lieutenant Vladimir Tarkhanov had made such a statement, claiming that there was no such person serving in the Vilnius garrison. The Colonel displayed his military identification card to prove that he did exist. He also said urged soldiers to fulfill their military oath, which calls for them "to defend the motherland," but "not to fight against the civilian population." (Stephen Foye) DEATH OF PARATROOPER DENIED. Airborne Forces Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Evgenii Podkolzin, told Izvestia today that no paratroopers were killed during the assault in Vilnius last Sunday. The Baltic Military Prosecutors had indicated the death of one paratrooper. Izvestia reported that the Soviet Interior Ministry has also denied any deaths among its troops, and says the KGB could not definitely say whether the casualty was one of its troops. The newspaper says that the military prosecutor originally provided the wrong name for the dead soldier, and that the second name they have given also cannot be found on the lists of army and Interior Ministry troops. (NCA/Stephen Foye) BESSMERTNYKH: LITHUANIAN VIOLENCE NOT REFLECTION OF POLICY. The new Soviet foreign minister, Aleksandr Bessmertnykh, said in an interview carried on Radio Moscow January 16 that the crackdown in Vilnius is not a reflection of how the the leadership "intends to act in relations with its own people and republics." Bessmertnykh expressed "most profound regret" about the violence, and noted that it had caused public "indignation and protest" against the Soviet leadership. Still, he appealed to people's "understanding, balance and coolness" in assessing the situation so that the USSR can maintain the level of mutual understanding it has attained with many foreign countries. (NCA/Sallie Wise) PARATROOPERS BALK? Soldiers and officers of the 103rd Vitebsk Guard Division of the Airborne Troops have refused to carry out further punitive actions in the Baltic States. The division consequently was withdrawn from the Baltic region, according to a statement to RFE/RL by a representative of the soldiers' union "Shchit", Sergei Kudimov, on January 17. Early reports said that at least one unit of the division took part in storming the Lithuanian Radio and Television Center, while the rest of the division was stationed in the Latvian capital, Riga. After the events in Vilnius, several OBficers of the Vitebsk Division told independent Latvian radio that they refused to shoot people. These reports, however, might be deceptive: during the military action in BaBu in January 1990, rumors about disobedience among the troBps later proved to be unfounded. (Victor Yasmann) RALLB FOR LITHUANIA PLANNED IN KIEV. Rukh is calling for a mass Bally in support of Lithuania to take place January 20 in Kiev. A Rukh official told Radio Kiev yesterday that the demonstration is expected to adopt several resolutions condemning the military intervention in Lithuania and supporBing the Lithuanian people and parliament. (NCA/Kathy MihalisBo) MINSK CONDEMNS MILITARY ACTION IN VILNIUS. TASS reported that the Belorussian Supreme Soviet yesterday adopted a declaration condemning the use of armed force in Lithuania. The declaration followed a debate during which deputies heard reports by SupSov chairman Nikolai Dementei [Dzyamentsei], who returned from his mission to Lithuania as part of USSR Federation Council's investigative team. (NCA/Kathy Mihalisko) LATVIANS PROTEST AGAINST SALVATION COMMITTEE. On January 16 the Ministry of Agriculture and the Farmers' Association, together representing over 300,000 persons, sent a joint telegram to USSR President Gorbachev. The authors affirmed their loyalty to the government and Supreme Council of Latvia and condBmned the attempts of the All-Latvia Public Salvation Committee to take over the functions of governing Latvia. The telegram said that the committee is causing tension and spreading hatred. According to Radio Riga of January 18, similar statements have been made by many other institutions and organizations in Latvia, including the city council of Limbazi. (Dzintra Bungs) USSR DEPUTIES INVESTIGATE SITUATION IN LATVIA. Designated to represent Latvia in talks with the six-member USSR Supreme Soviet delegation looking at the situation in Latvia are, according to Radio Riga of January 17: Anatolijs Gorbunovs, Vladlen Dozortsev, Mikhail Stepichev, Imants Ziedonis, Albers Bels, Ilma Brinke, and Juris Bojars. Radio Riga reported on January 18 also that the Soviet delegation's leader Denisov had met that day with Anatolijs Gorbunovs, Chairman of the Latvian Supreme Council, and other officials. Asked by the press if military intervention was not needed to stabilize the situation in Latvia Denisov replied with an emphatic "no." (Dzintra Bungs) BOMB SCARE IN DAUGAVPILS. Radio Riga reported on January 17 that the evening before an anonymous call had been made to a theater in downtown Daugavpils to say that a bomb had been placed there. At the time, People's Front members were there and they decided to continue their meeting. Two hours later the militia ordered them to leave the building. The militia cordoned off not only the theater but surrounding buildings. Radio Tallinn reported on January 17 about an explosion in Daugavpils; this has not been confirmed by other sources. These events tend to confirm earlier warnings of Latvia's Ministry Bf Internal Affairs about efforts to destabilize the situation in Latvia's second largest city, whose inhabitants are predomBnatly Russians and other Slavs. (Dzintra Bungs) SOVIET MILITARY IN LIEPAJA REJECT USE OF ARMS AGAINST INHABITANTS. On January 16 the Liepaja city council and mayor Imants Vismins met with leaders and representatives of the Soviet Barrison stationed in the port city to discuss mutual concerns. Similar meetings took place earlier between municipal leaders of the Liepaja rayon and representatives of local SovietBmilitary bases. The Soviet military announced that they wouBd not use arms against the local population and would not interfere in the resolution of internal policy questions of Latvia, reported Radio Riga on January 17. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIAN INFORMATION CENTER OPENED IN SWEDEN. On January 15 a Latvian Information Center was inaugurated in downtown Stockholm. (Similar Estonian and Lithuanian centers are expected to open soon in the same building). The principal speakers were Swedish Foreign Minister Sten Andersson and Latvian Foreign Minister Janis Jurkans, who stressed the importance of greater Swedish-Baltic cooperation. Latvians consider the information center as a step toward the establishment of an embassy in Sweden. Later, commenting the situation in Latvia, Jurkans told Reuters on January 15 that "Things have taken a very bad turn, not only for the Balts. This is a situation when democracy is at stake, not only in the Baltic states, not only in the Soviet Union, but also in Europe." (Dzintra Bungs) STRIKE IN ESTONIA. A strike at one of Estonia's largest defense plants, "Dvigatel," continues for the second day today, Estonian Radio reports. "Dvigatel" has been at the forefront of resistance to Estonia's independence drive. Its director, Vladimir Yarovoi, is the leader of the virulently anti-independence Joint Council of Work Collectives, and its work force is made up overwhelmingly of pro-Soviet ethnic Russians. When an Estonian Radio reporter asked some workers walking out of the plant yesterday why they were striking, they answered, "We don't know." (Riina Kionka) ESCALATION ON THE AIRWAVES. The Soviet Navy-Intermovement radio station "Nadezhda" (Hope) yesterday called on listeners to form paramilitary units in opposition to Estonian independence, Estonian Radio reported. The pro-Moscow station's appeals, broadcast in both Estonian and Russian, said "now or never, the moment for the final battle has arrived." The broadcasts are most likely a response to Prime Minister Edgar Savisaar's January 16 radio appeal to reservist paratroopers to help defend Estonia. (Riina Kionka) DESPERATELY SEEKING GORBACHEV. The Estonian Supreme Council yesterday instructed President Arnold Ruutel to seek an immediate meeting with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev to discuss the situation in Estonia, Estonian Radio reported. The parliament reportedly gave Ruutel a set of guidelines for the proposed meeting. (Riina Kionka) USSR REJECTS CSCE PROPOSAL. The Soviet Union yesterday blocked an attempt to call an extraordinary meeting of the CSCE conference to deal with the recent Soviet action in the Baltic states. According to AP, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Austria, Sweden and Switzerland called for the conference yesterday at a meeting of security experts in Vienna. All delegations except the Soviet Union supported the proposal. But because CSCE rules require a consensus, the Soviet Union was able to block the move, saying that such a meeting would constitute interference in internal Soviet affairs. (Riina Kionka) USSR - ALL-UNION TOPICS GORBACHEV TELEVISION ADDRESS ON GULF. In a four-minute television address yesterday afternoon, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev both defended and criticized the allied war effort against Iraq. In defense of military action, Gorbachev said: "this tragic turn of events was provoked by the Iraqi leadership's refusal to fulfill the demands of the world community and to withdraw its troops from Kuwait." Implying criticism, however, Gorbachev said he immediately proposed to US President George Bush, upon learning that bombing would begin, that further diplomatic steps be taken through direct contact with Saddam. Gorbachev noted that such an effort might have made it possible to halt the war and "spare Iraq gross losses and destruction." (Suzanne Crow) GORBACHEV TRIED TO WARN SADDAM, SENT MESSAGE. Addressing the Supreme Soviet yesterday, Soviet Foreign Minister Aleksandr Bessmertnykh said Gorbachev tried unsuccessfully to warn Saddam of the allied attack. Bessmertnykh said Gorbachev wanted to warn Saddam that if he did not withdraw from Kuwait, "Iraq will be hit because we have information to this effect from absolutely trustworthy sources." Unable to reach Saddam before the attack, Gorbachev sent a message, hand-delivered by the Soviet ambassador to the Iraqi leader in his bunker. The message reportedly contained a "firm and unequivocal" message to get out of Kuwait, Reuter reported yesterday. (Suzanne Crow) BESSMERTNYKH TALKS ABOUT SOVIET-BUILT WEAPONS... Speaking to the Supreme Soviet yesterday, Bessmertnykh said the USSR would be investigating why Iraq's air defense systems had been "neutralized." "I think that the fact that certain installations in Iraq were hit is not a reflection of a weakness of combat equipment, since ultimately equipment is good when it is in good hands," Bessmertnykh said, implying Iraqi incompetence. He also claimed no Soviet specialists were involved in Iraq's air-defense network as attacks were underway, Reuter said today. (Suzanne Crow) ..."ASSISTANCE FOR IRAQI PEOPLE." Bessmertnykh expressed sympathy for the Iraqis suffering under allied missions and said "the government, all of us together, will be able to adopt necessary, adequate measures to render assistance to the Iraqi people. I think this is a question which we will now study closely since this is indeed a possible consequence of what is taking place here." Bessmertnykh was careful to add that he does not include Saddam Hussein in "Iraqi people." (Suzanne Crow) OBUKHOV AND MATLOCK MEET. Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksei Obukhov met with US ambassador Jack Matlock yesterday to talk about the Gulf crisis and "pressing bilateral issues," TASS said. The meeting suggests that despite the United States' attention being focused on the Gulf crisis, Washington is still pressing Moscow to take a different approach to the Baltic crisis. (Suzanne Crow) SOVIET EXPERT ON SADDAM. Viktor Kremenyuk, Deputy Director of the USA-Canada Institute, said yesterday "Iraq will probably do all it can to draw Israel into the conflict." Kremenyuk also described a potential "spasmodic reaction" from Saddam Hussein: realizing the difficulty of his domestic political and military situation, Saddam could resort to irrational measures such as using chemical weapons or destroying oil facilities in Kuwait, TASS reported yesterday. (Suzanne Crow) SUPSOV RESOLUTION ON GULF CRISIS. The USSR Supreme Soviet yesterday appealed to its Presidium and all countries to call on the United Nations to arrange a halt in the military action against Iraq. (Suzanne Crow) USSR CONCERNED OVER ATTACK ON ISRAEL. TASS said today the Soviet Union is concerned at this "new development" in the Gulf war, saying it marked a "dangerous turn" of events. Prior to the Iraqi attack on Israel, Soviet officials yesterday hailed Israel for staying out of the conflict. (Suzanne Crow) CHERNYSHEV ON GULF WAR. TASS's military correspondent yesterday wrote that the main lesson to be drawn from the initial attack on Iraq was that aviation had supplanted the ground forces in importance. Vladimir Chernyshev called the attack well-planned and said that it had disrupted the aggressor's (Iraq's) material base. He also praised the use of air power because it kept down allied casualties. Chernyshev's comments are aimed at the domestic debate over military reform, where some have argued that the USSR should de-emphasize ground warfare and reliance on tanks. In fact, Soviet military planning also calls for the application of airpower in the opening stages of conflict. (Stephen Foye) TASS COMMENTATOR CRITICIZES GORBACHEV. Andrei Orlov, parliamentary correspondent for TASS, yesterday published a commentary denouncing Gorbachev's role in the Lithuanian crackdown. Orlov has his ear to the ground and his commentaries repay attention. In this one, he said the use of force against Lithuanian citizens was illegal. The attempt of Gorbachev--himself, as Orlov scathingly pointed out, a lawyer--to justify it brings the USSR and its president into disrepute. (Elizabeth Teague) ORLOV ON PAVLOV'S WEAKNESSES. On January 15, Orlov published another critical commentary, this one on Gorbachev's new prime minister, Valentin Pavlov. Orlov stated that, no matter how hard Pavlov tries to dissociate himself from the failures of the Ryzhkov government, he was a leading player in it and bears "personal responsibility" for the current "complete disruption" of the Soviet financial system. Hinting that what Gorbachev values in Pavlov is his "obedience to instructions from above," Orlov criticized Pavlov for his "lack of consistency" as finance minister. Orlov pointed to the "hasty introduction and likewise hasty rescinding of higher transport tariffs and diesel fuel prices" when, as Orlov noted, the Ryzhkov government caved in to pressure from the official trade unions. Orlov also noted Pavlov's opposition to the granting of greater financial independence to the republics. (Elizabeth Teague) NAZARBAEV THE KINGMAKER? It was Orlov who, in a TASS commentary on December 28, 1990, first drew attention to an emergent entente between the RSFSR's Yeltsin, Kazakhstan's Nazarbaev, and Ukraine's Kravchuk, calling it "a union within the Union." Discussing this alliance on December 30, The Sunday Times noted that Nazarbaev's ability to manoeuvre between Gorbachev to Yeltsin could give the Kazakh president the role of "broker" within the Federation Council. The Lithuanian events seem to have made up Nazarbaev's mind: according to Kravchuk, he and Yeltsin were the strongest critics at the Federation Council on January 12 of the use of force in Vilnius (AFP, January 12). The Financial Times on January 5 pointed out that, with the addition of Belorussia, the triple entente was growing into a "Big Four," and Yeltsin confirmed this when he told journalists earlier this week that those four republics intend to sign a "quadrilateral treaty." (TASS, January 14). To indicate the strength of an alliance between the USSR's four largest republics, Yeltsin said they account for 85 percent of GNP. (Elizabeth Teague) RYZHKOV GRANTED PENSION, COUNTRY HOUSE. The USSR Supreme Soviet has approved a monthly retirement pension of 1,200 rubles, a country house, and top health care for former prime minister Nikolai Ryzhkov, Reuters reported on January 16. (NCA) DEMOCRATIC RUSSIA MOVEMENT TO STAGE MASS DEMONSTRATION. The Secretary of the Interregional Group, Arkadii Murashov, told RL that the Democratic Russia movement is planning to stage a mass demonstration in Moscow next week to demand the resignation of President Mikhail Gorbachev. He said that the Coordinating Council of the Interregional Group is meeting frequently to assess the situation in the Baltic States. He noted that leaders of the democratic opposition, such as Gavriil Popov, Yurii Afanas'ev or Sergei Stankevich, have now understood the necessity of a firmer consolidation of the Democratic Russia movement. (Alexander Rahr) CONTINUING REFERENCES TO PRESIDENTIAL COUNCIL. Novosti, reporting on January 16 on Vadim Bakatin's interview in Komsomol'skaya pravda, described Bakatin as a member of the Presidential Council, although the Presidential Council was abolished as part of the constitutional amendments adopted by the USSR Congress of People's Deputies on December 26. Aleksandr Yakovlev has also been referred to at least once as a member of the Presidential Council since that body was abolished. Do some of the Soviet media really not know that the council is no more? (Ann Sheehy) COMMUNISTS SEARCH FOR OPPOSITION ROLE. Vyacheslav Sekretaryuk, first secretary of the L'vov regional Party committee, told a news conference in Moscow on January 16 that Communists in L'vov have attempted to cooperate with other political forces in the region but "face a negative attitude," TASS reported. In the wake of their defeat in elections to the soviets last year, many Party officials opted not to work with the newly-elected soviets and their leaders. Now, however, the CPSU is encouraging members to work in conjunction with other political parties, but CPSU members--and officials in particular--are finding that other parties often want nothing to do with them. (Dawn Mann) TASS CORRESPONDENTS REPORTED DISMISSED. Radio Rossiya yesterday reported yet another move against the Soviet press: a mass termination of correspondents in TASS's Leningrad department. The radio said the journalists are charged with gross distortion of information, and, in some cases, will be replaced by former regional CP committee workers. (NCA/Sallie Wise) WIRING DEFECT CAUSED TANK EXPLOSION. Czechoslovak and Soviet commissions investigating last week's explosion of a Soviet tank agree that the most probable cause was a wiring defect, the Czechoslovak news agency CTK said yesterday. The agency reported that 17 Soviet soldiers died in the January 9 explosion at Bohosudov, near Teplice and the German border. A spokesman for the Czechoslovak commission says the explosion has prompted the Soviet military to remove live ammunition from all military vehicles withdrawing from Czechoslovakia. (NCA/Stephen Foye) GERMANY, USSR SIGN HOUSING AGREEMENT FOR SOLDIERS. Bonn's state credit agency signed a contract with the Soviet Defense Ministry in Moscow yesterday that calls for building at least 36,000 apartments in the USSR for troops withdrawing from former East Germany, AFP reported. The contract is part of an earlier bilateral agreement on the withdrawal of all Soviet forces from Germany by the end of 1994. (NCA/Stephen Foye) INTERREPUBLICAN AGREEMENT ON ECOLOGY. A two-day meeting of the chairmen of the standing commissions for ecology of the parliaments of 22 union and autonomous republics in Minsk ended on January 16 with the signing of an interrepublican ecological agreement, TASS reported. The agreement was reached to counteract any tendencies for republics to act without thought of the possible ecological consequences for their neighbors following their declarations of sovereignty. The document will now be discussed by republican parliaments as the basis for laws regulating disputes between the republics. TASS added that the document would also occupy a place in the draft Union treaty. (Ann Sheehy) USSR PUBLISHES STATISTICS ON DEATH SENTENCES. According to TASS (January 16), the USSR ministry of justice has reported the number of death sentences for the first time. Justice minister Sergei Lushchikov told a press conference in Moscow that day that, in 1989, 276 people were sentenced to death; of those, 23 were subsequently pardoned. Lushchikov said numbers were tending to decline. In 1985, he said, the number of sentences was 770 in 1985, of whom 20 were pardoned; in 1986 there were 526 and 41, respectively; in 1987, 344 and 47; and, in 1988, 271 and 72. Lushchikov said the majority were for premeditated murder in aggravating circumstances; and rape in aggravating circumstances. (Elizabeth Teague) NEW CATHOLIC BISHOPS FOR THE SOVIET UNION. TASS reported from Rome yesterday that Pope John Paul II on January 16 named five Roman Catholic bishops and ten Greek Catholic bishops for the Soviet Union. The Soviet ambassador to the Vatican, Yurii Karlov, told TASS that "the appointment of 15 Roman and Greek Catholic church leaders reflects the serious changes in relations between the state and Soviet Catholics, which took place after Gorbachev met Pope John Paul II on December 1, 1990." He added that "based on the solid legal ground created by the Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations, a number of other questions concerning the activities of the Catholic Church in the Soviet Union have to be regulated, especially the question of making the present borders of Church eparchies on Soviet territory correspond to the state borders of the Soviet Union." (Oxana Antic) USSR - IN THE REPUBLICS DONBASS MINERS CALL FOR POLITICAL STRIKE. Radio Kiev announced that miners of the Donbass coal region of Ukraine yesterday endorsed calls for a political strike (see DR of January 16). At a meeting yesterday in Donetsk, the miners' representatives adopted an appeal to all Ukrainians to support eight demands, including the resignation of Gorbachev and his cabinet, the withdrawal of troops from Lithuania, the disbanding of the USSR Supreme Soviet and Congress of People's Deputies, the nationalization of CPSU property, a ban on the use of the army against civilians and lawfully elected governments, and the inclusion on the March 17 all-Union referendum of a question on the status of the CPSU. Miners in the Kuzbass and Vorkuta regions support the strike action. Kuzbass miner committees also have called for a strike today. (NCA/Kathy Mihalisko) CRIMEAN REFERENDUM SLATED. On January 20, the population of Crimea will take part in a referendum to decide the future status of the southern Ukrainian oblast. Residents are to vote on whether Crimea should become an autonomous republic. The move is being pushed by officials representative of the Russian-speaking majority and has been widely criticized by Crimean Tatar activists, who would rather see the restoration of the peninsula's pre-1945 status. (Kathy Mihalisko) CONSERVATIVE GROUP RETREATS IN KAZAKHSTAN. The conservative pro-Russian Edinstvo (Unity) movement in Kazakhstan has announced its intent to withdraw from political activity, according to Izvestia of January 8. The group calls for the Russian language to be granted the status of state language of the republic, along with Kazakh, and supports the conservative Soyuz group in the USSR Supreme Soviet and its counterpart, "Democratic Kazakhstan," in the republican Supreme Soviet. It has complained that Kazakh political groups want to chase Russians out of Kazakhstan, and has accused the largely Kazakh moderate-democratic Azat movement of extremism. Its retreat from the political scene, if real, could reduce interethnic tensions somewhat. (Bess Brown) Compiled by Patrick Moore and Sallie Wise [END]
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.