|When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain|
No. 15, 22 January 1991
BALTIC STATES YELTSIN SENDS CONDOLENCES TO LATVIA. Chairman of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet Boris Yeltsin expressed his condolences to the people of Latvia in connection with the Black Beret attack on the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the resultant casualties. According to Radio Riga of January 21, Yeltsin's telegram was read to the plenary session of the Supreme Soviet. (Dzintra Bungs) SOVIET OFFICIALS EVASIVE OVER BLACK BERET VIOLENCE. Latvia's Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Zenons Indrikovs noted that Soviet officials, who had arrived in Latvia on January 21 to investigate the attack on Latvia's MVD, tended to be evasive when discussing the subject with Latvian leaders. That same day Deputy Prime Minister Ilmars Bisers and Minister of Internal Affairs Aloizs Vaznis met with Boris Pugo, USSR Minister of Internal Affairs. Pugo did not say who ordered the assaults in Latvia, but he said that the Black Berets would be confined to their base until their attack is investigated by the USSR Procuracy. The Latvians reiterated their demand that the Black Berets be withdrawn from Latvia, but Pugo gave no date for their pullout, according to Radio Riga of January 21. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIAN SUPREME COUNCIL DECIDES TO ENHANCE SECURITY. Latvian legislators adopted a resolution on January 21 to improve the self-defense network against terrorism by expanding and improving the militia's training and operations, reported Radio Riga that day. The resolution also called for the establishment of a kind of home guard under the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Conspicuously absent from the Supreme Council session were members of the opposition Ravnopravie faction, although they sent a few observers. They are boycotting the Council until their demands (greater decisionmaking powers and representation in the government, as well as the removal of volunteer guards and vehicles parked to protect the Supreme Council) are met. (Dzintra Bungs) GORBUNOVS TO MOSCOW TO DISCUSS PRESIDENTIAL RULE? Radio Riga reported on January 21 that Chairman of the Latvian Supreme Council Anatolijs Gorbunovs is to meet today with USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev to discuss the situation in Latvia. Latvian government spokesmen told the press yesterday that Gorbunovs would focus on ways to normalize the tense situation in Latvia, according to Radio Riga of January 21. USSR Supreme Soviet Deputy Anatoly Denisov said, however, that Gorbachev may want to discuss the imposition of presidential rule in Latvia, according to The New York Times and The Baltimore Sun of January 22. Last week Denisov and five other USSR deputies were in Latvia to investigate the situation there. (Dzintra Bungs) SWEDISH FOREIGN MINISTRY ENVOY TO LATVIA. Sweden's Foreign Minister Sten Andersson is sending State Secretary Pierre Schori to establish contacts between the governments in Riga and Stockholm. Andersson made the announcement at a rally in Stockholm protesting Soviet military actions in Riga, according to DPA of January 21. Radio Riga announced on January 21 that a Swedish parliamentary delegation is expected to arrive in the Latvian capital today. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIANS FOR THE GOVERNMENT, AGAINST THE SALVATION COMMITTEE. Radio Riga reported on January 21 the results of a recent public opinion poll of 917 respondents (53% Latvian speakers and 47% Russian speakers) from all over Latvia. (Latvians comprise about 50% of Latvia's population, with Russians and other Slavs making up most of the remaining 50%.) Supporting the Supreme Council were 83% of the respondents (98% Latvian speakers, 67% Russian speakers), and against it were 11% of the respondents, of whom 22% were Russian speakers. The poll did not measure other attitudes. For the Council of Ministers were 79% of the respondents (96% Latvian speakers, 62% Russian speakers). For the All-Latvia Public Salvation Committee were only 11% of the respondents (1% Latvian speakers, 26% Russian speakers), compared to 70% of the respondents (93% Latvian speakers, 46% Russian speakers) against it. (Dzintra Bungs) KAULS RESIGNS FROM PARTY AND SALVATION COMMITTEE. Radio Riga reported on January 19 that Alberts Kauls, formerly a member of the USSR Presidential Council, had announced his resignation from the CPSU and the All-Latvia Public Salvation Committee, of which he had been co-chairman. Kauls said that he could no longer agree with the Party's policies and the committee's goals of assuming power in Latvia. He is the chairman of the prosperous agrofirm Adazi. Radio Riga reported on January 22 that Alfreds Rubiks, the other co-chairman of the Salvation committee, has no intention resigning from the committee. (Dzintra Bungs) CHURKIN: BALTIC VIOLENCE "A FACT OF LIFE." Speaking of the January 20 Soviet military crackdown in Latvia, Soviet Foreign Ministry spokesman Vitalii Churkin said, "the government regrets what happened, but it's a fact of life." He went on to criticize nationalist authorities in the Baltic States, saying they had adopted a "resolution of war" against the Russian-speaking minorities in the republics. Churkin Bhallenged US criticism of Soviet press coverage of events in tBe Baltic states, saying Moscow was amazed by the attempts of the US State Department to assign itself the role of censor, TASS reported yesterday. (Suzanne Crow) B LITHUANIANS IN MOSCOW FOR TALKS WITH RSFSR. Radio Kaunas reported this morning that Deputy Chairman of the Lithuanian Supreme Council Ceslovas Stankevicius had flown to Moscow to conBinue discussions with the RSFSR on a Lithuania-RSFSR accord. The RSFSR had signed similar accords with Estonia on January 12 and with Latvia on January 14. Stankevicius had beguB the talks in Vilnius on January 17. (Saulius Girnius) SAUDAOBAS MEETS GENSCHER. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Algirdas Saudargas yesterday met with his German counterpart Hans-Dietrich Genscher. In an official statement after the meeting Genscher said: "We observe what is happening in the Baltics with great concern. We are interested in the democratization process of the Soviet Union continuing. We condemn the repeated use of force in the Baltic states," AP reported that day. Saudargas later held a press conference with Mavriks Vulfsons, the chairman of the Latvian Supreme Council Commission on Foreign Affairs, in Bonn at which they urged the West to press Moscow to guarantee that the violence will noOBbe repeated. Saudargas will travel to Brussels today and then to Oslo. (Saulius Girnius) LANDSBERGIS TALKS WITH TARAZEVICH. In a telephone conversation with the RFE Lithuanian Service this morning, LithuaniaB President Vytautas Landsbergis said that he had called USSR Supreme Soviet envoy Georgii Tarazevich in Moscow immediately on learning about the Black Beret attack on the Latvian MVD on January 20. Landsbergis said that Tarazevich was an "honest mediator" trying to bring about a peaceful resolution to the conflict between Lithuania and the USSR. Tarazevich returned to Lithuania last night and told Landsbergis that Gorbachev wanted the negotiations on Lithuanian independence to be renewed, with the return of various buildings in Lithuania seized by Soviet troops to be a matter of simple negotiations. (Saulius Girnius) DATE FOR UNIVERSAL POLL SET. The Lithuanian Supreme Council has decided that it will conduct a universal poll among all citizens of Lithuania or persons having rights to citizenship on February 9. The poll will ask the question: "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?" In a telephone conversatiBn with the RFE Lithuanian Service this morning Deputy Chairman of the Lithuanian Supreme Council Kazimieras Motieka said that the parliament's presidium had decided that voters will be able to vote early by placing their ballot in an envelope at a polling place starting on February 4. (Saulius Girnius) GORBACHEV TO ESTONIA: I'LL STOP USE OF FORCE! Soviet President MBkhail Gorbachev told his Estonian counterpart Arnold Ruutel yesterday that he would intervene to stop the use of force in Estonia, Estonian Radio reported yesterday. The two men, meeting in Moscow, reportedly agreed that Ruutel will immediately inform Gorbachev if force is used or attempted, and the Soviet president "will implement measures at his disposal to block the use of any kind of force." Ruutel and Gorbachev also discussed the need for high-level talks in the next few days. (Riina Kionka) RUUTEL TO MEET YAZOV. Gorbachev and Ruutel also discussed military issues at their meeting yesterday in Moscow, according to Estonian Radio. After the meeting, also attended by Chief of Staff Mikhail Moiseev and his deputy, Col.Gen. Gregorii Krivosheev, Gorbachev reportedly arranged for Ruutel to meet with Soviet Defense Minister Yazov and other senior officials. There are no reports yet from that meeting. (Riina Kionka) ICELAND AND ESTONIA CONDEMN ATTACK. Iceland's Foreign Minister Jon Hannibalsson and his Estonian counterpart Lennart Meri issued a joint statement yesterday condemning Sunday's attack in Riga and calling for UN action on the matter. In the statement, sent to RFE/RL, Hannibalsson and Meri said the Soviet Union "cannot escape responsibility for the activities of its military units" and that events in the Baltic should be kept "under close surveillance of the world community." (Riina Kionka) RSFSR SUPSOV FAILS TO APPROVE RESOLUTION ON BALTIC EVENTS. Yesterday, the RSFSR Supreme Soviet discussed the violence in the Baltic republics. Speaker after speaker attacked Gorbachev, noting that a local military commander could not open fire without orders from the USSR President. No deputy defended the idea of setting up "committees for national salvation" to overthrow elected bodies; some suggested that such "committees" could emerge in any part of the Russian Federation, perhaps with the RSFSR Communist Party and its head, Ivan Polozkov, as eventual founders of such a unconstitutional "committee". Besides Gorbachev, the person criticized most severely was Leonid Kravchenko, chairman of Gosteleradio. Nonetheless, the resolution condemning the use of force was not approved: 118 deputies (47,6 percent of those present) voted for the resolution, 47 voted against it, and 26 abstained, while the remaining deputies did not vote at all. The resolution is to be rewritten and put to a vote on Thursday. (Julia Wishnevsky) SOME CONSERVATIVES SIDE WITH YELTSIN OVER LITHUANIA. One of the most sensational speeches at yesterday's session of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet was delivered by Colonel Rutskoy, an avowed Russian nationalist. Rutskoy savagely condemned Gorbachev and the CPSU leadership for their repeated attempts to lay the blame for their policies "either on the Army or on democrats." Rutskoy did not merely support Yeltsin but the Baltic leaders as well, an unusual stance for a Soviet military man. Rutskoy is not the first conservative to join the RSFSR-Baltic opposition to Gorbachev. The Belorussian Supreme Soviet and the USSR Supreme Soviet envoy to Lithuania, who had supported the Landsbergis leadership, are also very conservative. (Julia Wishnevsky) ALKSNIS ACCUSES GORBACHEV. Viktor Alksnis charged yesterday that Gorbachev planned the destabilization of the Baltic governments but then lost his nerve and tried to make the armed forces a scapegoat. According to a report in the Boston Globe, the conservative colonel made his comments to journalists during a break in a session of the Russian Federation's Supreme Soviet. Alksnis called Gorbachev a "weak man" who has "betrayed the military." He charged that Gorbachev had encouraged the creation of so-called committees for national salvation in Lithuania and Latvia, and ridiculed the idea that the local military commander could have ordered the paratroopers into action in Vilnius. (Stephen Foye) "DNIESTER SSR" DEPUTIES SUPPORT MILITARY ACTION IN LITHUANIA. At a special congress in Tiraspol yesterday, more than 500 people's deputies of all levels from the would-be Dniester SSR (in eastern Moldavia) issued an address to the USSR armed forces, condemning Lithuania's "nationalist and anti-Soviet forces" for having "deliberately provoked" the recent clash in Vilnius. The address said that the events in Lithuania illustrated the need for military involvement in "actions to defend the legal order in our country," TASS reported. The Dniester deputies' address is the latest in a series of statements by Russian organizations in Moldavia supporting Soviet military action in the Baltics. (Vladimir Socor). USSR - ALL-UNION TOPICS YELTSIN DENOUNCES GORBACHEV'S "TURN TO RIGHT." Addressing the RSFSR Supreme Soviet yesterday, Boris Yeltsin accused Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev of abandoning democracy in favor of "violence and pressure." He said the Kremlin was violating the USSR constitution by supporting "Committees of National Salvation" in an attempt to overthrow legitimate, democratically elected governments in the Baltic states. Gorbachev's ultimate aim, Yeltsin warned, was the establishment of presidential rule throughout the USSR; the "Committees of National Salvation," he said, were clearly intended to serve as Gorbachev's agents in this enterprise. Once again, Yeltsin said, the Soviet state was placing itself above society. (Elizabeth Teague) FEDERATION COUNCIL TO MEET TODAY? The Baltimore Sun and Reuters both report today that Gorbachev is to chair a session of the Federation Council today. There has been no confirmation of this from the official TASS news agency or from Moscow Radio. Nor has there been any report from these media so far today about the session of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet, which is due to resume today. (NCA/Elizabeth Teague) SADDAM ON GORBACHEV PEACE PLAN. Saddam Hussein rejected Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev's peace plan of last week, Iraqi radio said yesterday. According to Saddam, Gorbachev's January 18 letter offered to intercede with US President George Bush to ensure a suspension of hostilities if Saddam agreed to announce plans to withdraw from Kuwait, AP reported yesterday. (Suzanne Crow) AKHROMEYEV ON THE GULF. Former Chief of the General Staff, Marshal Sergei Akhromeyev said in Pravda yesterday said the United States acted prematurely in attacking Iraq. Akhromeyev described it as "deeply regrettable that all possibilities for a peaceful solution of the conflict had not been exhausted." Akhromeyev's comments go one step further than recent official Soviet statements in trying to distance Moscow from the war against Iraq. (Suzanne Crow) MORE SOVIETS IN IRAQ THAN THOUGHT? At yesterday's Foreign Ministry briefing, Vitalii Churkin said that "a large group" of Soviet citizens fled from Yusifiya, Iraq (about 50 kilometers from Baghdad, according to Churkin) to Iran, TASS reported yesterday. According to the Islamic Republic News Agency of Iran (cited by AFP today), the Soviet citizens were military advisers, and they numbered 100. This information conflicts with repeated Soviet foreign ministry reassurances claiming no Soviet military advisers remained in Iraq. (Suzanne Crow) RUSSIAN NATIONALISTS ON IRAQ WAR. Russian nationalist writers have increased their attacks on Soviet foreign policy for siding with the West against Iraq. Igor Shavarevich, Vadim Kozhinov and Viktor Doroshenko published articles in Literaturnaya Rossiya on January 11, accusing the US of an immoral war for oil and expanding their military hegemony into the Middle East. They criticized the Kremlin leadership for betraying future Russian interests in the Third World. They stressed that the Soviet Union should not participate in the alliance with the West but preserve its strategy as a balancing force between industrialized and developing countries. (Alexander Rahr) EC POSTPONES ECONOMIC AID MEETING WITH SOVIETS. European Community vice president Frans Andriessen announced yesterday that the EC has decided to "put off until later" a meeting of the EC-Soviet Commission in protest of recent events in the Baltic. The Commission, which meets twice yearly, was due to meet January 24-25. The Soviet side was to be chaired by deputy foreign minister Ernst Obminski, according to Reuter and AP January 21. Obminski and his delegation were due to arrive in Brussels today. The EC will not cancel a pledge of emergency food aid worth some 340 million dollars, but 550 million dollars of technical aid pledged by the EC in Rome last year is in jeopardy. (John Tedstrom) US GRAIN CREDITS ALSO AT RISK. The US government is considering cancelling economic aid to the USSR over the developments in the Baltic republics, according to government officials and private analysts interviewed by Reuter January 21. Moscow received 900 million dollars in export credit guarantees from the US last week and promptly bought 4 million metric tons of corn and 500,000 tons of soybean meal. Reuters quotes deputy US trade representative Julius Katz as saying that the developments in the Baltic are "disturbing and we will watch them carefully." President Bush has also warned Moscow that its actions in the Baltic jeopardize US economic assistance. (John Tedstrom) JAPANESE FOREIGN MINISTER ARRIVES IN MOSCOW. Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Nakayama arrived in Moscow last night for talks with the Soviet leadership in preparation for the Soviet-Japanese summit planned for April. Nakayama will meet for formal talks with Soviet Foreign Minister Aleksandr Bessmertnykh today and with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev tomorrow. (Suzanne Crow) MOSCOW REJECTS JAPAN'S PROTEST. The Soviet crackdown in the Baltics is casting a shadow on Nakayama's visit. Seeing off Nakayama at Tokyo's Narita airport, Yurii Kuznetsov, Charge d'Affairs to the Soviet embassy in Japan, said yesterday, "the Soviet government rejects all protests and allegations against Soviet foreign and internal policies which may worsen the situation." Japanese officials yesterday expressed deep regret over the USSR's military action in Latvia, AFP reported. (Suzanne Crow) USSR OWES $377 MILLION TO JAPANESE FIRMS. Makoto Kiketsu, a spokesman for the Japanese Association for Trade with the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, said today the USSR owed Japan $377 million as of December 31, 1990. Kiketsu said his organization's member companies were disappointed by the late payments because Moscow had agreed in October to arrange payments with its Japanese partners as soon as possible, AFP reports today. (Suzanne Crow) IZVESTIA ON KAL 007. Another article on the KAL shootdown appeared in Izvestia yesterday. This item contained information about an unofficial investigation which has been going on since the incident. The article says that the plane was shot down near the Soviet pacific island of Moneron and that soldiers found the craft "almost undamaged" in thirty-meter deep water. The investigation also concluded that it is impossible that the plane was on a spy mission, AFP reported yesterday. (Suzanne Crow) GERMAN TREATIES' RATIFICATION EXPECTED. Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Belonogov told Bild am Sonntag on January 20 that he had "no doubts" that the Supreme Soviet will ratify the Two-Plus-Four Treaty and the USSR-Germany treaty of friendship within the next few weeks. Belonogov described the documents as "the foundation stone of a new Europe." (Suzanne Crow) USSR-CUBA SIGN AGREEMENTS. Soviet Ambassador Yurii Petrov revealed in a January 18 speech details of an accord reached in December between Moscow and Havana. According to the agreement, in 1991 the USSR will maintain its current level of oil deliveries (about 10 million tons per year), suspend Cuban debt payments, and cut back the number of non-military advisers on the island to 1,000, Reuters said on January 19. Petrov also pledged, "if anyone threatens Cuba, we will find the means to settle the subject." Meanwhile, Supreme Soviet deputy Kim Yen Un said also that 20 percent of all Soviet requirements in medicines and medical equipment will be met by Cuba in 1991, TASS reported January 18. (Suzanne Crow) GORBACHEV WILL READ PEACE PRIZE LECTURE IN OSLO. Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev confirmed yesterday he will deliver the traditional Nobel Peace Prize lecture in Oslo, probably in May. Gorbachev's announcement comes amid regret expressed by some Prize Committee members that the Soviet leader is permitting or presiding over violence against the Baltic states. Geir Lundestad, the secretary of the Nobel Prize Awards Committee, said yesterday the "entire issue will be discussed at the Committee's February 18 meeting." It is not clear if the Committee will retract its invitation for Gorbachev to speak, AP reported yesterday. (Suzanne Crow) SHAKHNAZAROV: GORBACHEV'S POSITION STABLE BUT THREATENED. Gorbachev adviser Georgii Shakhnazarov, in an interview published in the latest issue of Der Spiegel, says that Gorbachev's position is stable for the time being. However, Shakhnazarov warns that if Gorbachev gave in to pressure from separatists and democrats to allow the disintegration of the USSR, he would be overthrown and replaced by a military dictatorship. This, he said, would mean an end to perestroika and the relaxation of international tensions, as well as to the Supreme Soviet, democratic guarantees, and the right to criticize the President. He sees the Russian people as key: they must decide whether they want to live within the borders of present-day Russia or within a union. (NCA/Sallie Wise) LIGACHEV REMEMBERS. The Belgorod CP newspaper, Belgorodskaya pravda, has started serializing the reminiscences of former Politburo whipping-boy Egor Ligachev, according to a newscast on TSN yesterday afternoon. Ligachev's memoirs are bound to become a bestseller; but Ligachev has a good reason to be grateful to this particular Party organization: after being rejected by an overwhelming majority of votes in a Moscow suburb, Ligachev was elected a delegate to the last CPSU Congress by the Belgorod CP organization. (Julia Wishnevsky) NEW JOURNAL ON FUTURE OF SOCIALISM TO BE PUBLISHED. Moscow's Institute of the International Workers' Movement plans to publish a journal, Sotsialism budushchego, in collaboration with the Spanish foundation "System." To appear in six languages besides Russian, the journal will publish analytical articles about socialism by Soviet and foreign left-wing politicians and thinkers. TASS said on January 18 that the journal is not a successor of the periodical, Problemy mira i sotsialisma, which has dealt with the similar issues. (Vera Tolz) FIRST ORTHODOX YOUTH CONGRESS. TASS reports that the first All-Church Congress of Orthodox Youth will take place from January 25 to 27. Invitations to participate in the Congress were sent to representatives of the youth of all eparchies, and also to foreign Orthodox and non-Orthodox youth organizations and movements. The Congress will discuss problems of reviving youth participation in charitable activities. (Oxana Antic) USSR - IN THE REPUBLICS YELTSIN URGES RSFSR SUPSOV TO RESIST GORBACHEV LINE. Yeltsin told the RSFSR Supreme Soviet yesterday that it is up to the government of the RSFSR to resist Gorbachev's turn to the right. He said this could best be achieved by speeding up the conclusion of a treaty between the "Big Four" republics (the RSFSR, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Belorussia). He told the RSFSR parliament that prime minister Ivan Silaev would submit proposals to strengthen the RSFSR's control over enterprises on its territory, including those formally under all-Union subordination. This is a sensitive issue since it will affect enterprises engaged in defense production, over which the RSFSR has not until now attempted to exercise control. Yeltsin said Silaev would outline other measures allowing the RSFSR to extend its control over economic activity on its territory. (Elizabeth Teague) YELTSIN MEETS WITH SHCHIT. Yeltsin met on January 18 with leaders of the renegade military union Shchit, Novosti reports. The meeting was devoted to discussion of how to defend the Russian government from an attack by the center similar to the one that recently occurred in Lithuania, and also to the possibility of forming a Russian army. The Shchit group reportedly appealed to Russian soldiers and officers to abandon the "party autocracy" (partokratii) and to unite under the Russian banner. Shchit has long been a critic of the Defense Ministry, and claims to represent the interests of soldiers and their families. (Stephen Foye) RUSSIAN REAL-ESTATE EXCHANGE ESTABLISHED. The all-Russian real-estate exchange (Vserossiiskaya birzha nedvizhimosti) has been established in Moscow, according to Izvestia of January 18. The goal of the exchange is to help establish a real-estate market in the RSFSR and to help set up real-estate bureaus in the republic. Several organizations, including the all-Russian exchange center and the Russian information bank, joined to establish the exchange as a joint stock company, and capitalized it with 100 million rubles. (John Tedstrom) Compiled by Patrick Moore and Sallie Wise
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.