|The only certainty is that nothing is certain. - Pliny the Elder|
No. 16, 23 January 1991
BALTIC STATES GORBACHEV ON BALTIC CRISIS. In a prepared statement aired by Soviet TV and radio on January 22, Gorbachev denied that the USSR was threatened by dictatorship and that the Baltic crisis signalled a swing to the right. Regretting the deaths in Vilnius and Riga, Gorbachev disclaimed responsibility for them and promised an investigation. Gorbachev claimed that the real reason for the confrontations in Latvia and Lithuania were not "some mythical orders from above," but actions of the republics, such as "illegal acts, violations of the [USSR] Constitution, crude violations of civil rights, discrimination against people of other nationalities, irresponsible behavior in relation to the army, servicemen, and their families." Gorbachev did not specifically condemn the actions of Soviet military or MVD troops in Lithuania or Latvia. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIAN LEADER MEETS GORBACHEV. Chairman of Latvia's Supreme Council Anatolijs Gorbunovs met with Gorbachev yesterday at the latter's invitation, reported Radio Riga that day. Gorbachev did not, as had been widely rumored beforehand, announce the imposition of presidential rule in Latvia at the meeting. Gorbunovs said he told Gorbachev that all possibilities of settling problems in Latvia through dialogue and democratic processes had not been exhausted, despite allegations to the contrary by anti-government forces. Also present, apparently without Gorbunovs' prior knowledge, were USSR Supreme Soviet Chairman Anatolii Lukyanov and Alfreds Rubiks, First Secretary of the Latvian CP and Chairman of the All-Latvia Public Salvation Committee. (Dzintra Bungs) FEDOROV ON RUSSIANS IN LATVIA. Andrei Fedorov, RSFSR Deputy Foreign Minister, said some of the Russian-speaking population's complaints about living in Latvia derive from their inability and sometimes unwillingness to seek contact with the Latvian population. He said: "You should study the country in which you live and learn the language; then many problems will go away." He spoke out against the imposition of USSR presidential rule and added that "civil war in the Baltics is impermissible." Fedorov, according to TASS and Radio Riga of January 22, was visiting Riga to establish closer ties between Russia and Latvia and discuss the exchange of representatives and information. (Dzintra Bungs) JURKANS: "USSR SLIDING BACK INTO DICTATORSHIP." Latvia's Foreign Minister Janis Jurkans told the BBC on January 22 that the USSR "is sliding back into dictatorship." He urged "that the Western governments send a very clear message to Gorbachev that military interruption of the democratic process in the Baltic States, in the whole Soviet Union, will not be tolerated." Jurkans also took issue with Western perceptions of Gorbachev as a symbol of democracy, saying "I think that was a mistake." (Dzintra Bungs) LITHUANIAN FORMER DEPUTIES MEET GORBACHEV. Radio Kaunas yesterday reported that a group of Lithuanian intellectuals who are former members of the USSR Congress of People's Deputies had met with Gorbachev for about an hour and a half on January 21. The group that included Alfredas Smailys, Regimantas Adomaitis, and Vytautas Laurusas talked with Gorbachev alone, without advisers and were served tea. Details about the conversation have not yet been revealed, but the deputies subsequently talked with Marshal Sergei Akhromeev. (Saulius Girnius) BALTIC LEADERS APPEAR BEFORE US CSCE. Yesterday the Vice Presidents of Latvia and Lithuania, Dainis Ivans and Bronius Kuzmickas, appeared before the US Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, a RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported that day. Ivans said that "a high-level US delegation should visit the Baltic states as soon as possible." The two Balts urged the US to extent official recognition to their democratically elected governments. (Saulius Girnius) BALTIC LEADERS MEET BAKER. The two Baltic vice presidents along with Estonian minister without portfolio Endel Lippmaa subsequently met with US Secretary of State James Baker for a half hour, followed by more than an hour with some of his senior aides. State Department officials called the meetings "a very good, very useful exchange" during which the Balts made progress in getting their views across. The Balts asked the US to register its protests against the Soviet use of force in Riga and Vilnius with concrete measures as well as words of condemnation. They said that if President Bush did not follow their suggestion to cancel his summit meeting with Gorbachev in February, he should also meet with the Baltic presidents in their capitals or some neutral site. (Saulius Girnius) KRYUCHKOV DENIES KGB TIES TO NATIONAL SALVATION COMMITTEE IN LITHUANIA. KGB chief Vladimir Kryuchkov denied in an interview with the periodical Kommersant that the KGB had participated in setting up the National Salvation Committee in Lithuania, Radio Rossiya said yesterday. Kryuchkov stressed, however, that the KGB closely watches the committee's activities. (Vera Tolz) B SBPPORT FOR LITHUANIA IN MURMANSK. The branch of the Democratic Russia movement in Murmansk on January 20 organized a meeting of protest against the use of the military force in Lithuania, Novosti reported yesterday. The movement also drafted a statement supporting the Lithuanian drive for independence and Boris Yeltsin's policy towards the BaOBics. According to Novosti, hundreds of Murmansk residents signed the statement. (Vera Tolz) B ESTONBAN GOVERNMENT OFFERS REWARD. The Estonian government yesterday announced a 20,000 ruble reward for tips on who set off twBBexplosions in Tallinn on January 20, Estonian Radio reported last night. The explosions damaged buildings used as headquarters by two anti-independence groups led by Russian-speakers. (Riina Kionka) HUNGER STRIKE ENDS. Two pro-Moscow Supreme Council deputies from Estonia have ended their six-day hunger strike, Estonian Radio reported yesterday. Vladimir Lebedev and Sergei Petinov belong to a group of deputies who demanded last week that the government resign and the parliament disperse. When this did not happen, the two men vowed to stop eating until their demands were met. Lebedev and Petinov yesterday also urged all those fasting in solidarity to end their hunger strikes and opt for negotiations. Ironically, the three other known hunger strikers in Estonia have been fasting to protest the Lebedev-Petinov action. (Riina Kionka) STRIKES AND LOCKOUTS CONTINUE. Estonian Radio reported last night that pro-Soviet strikes and lockouts continue in 22 all-Union enterprises. The strikers are virtually all Russian-speaking workers from factories run by anti-independence group leaders. Estonian Radio also reported that a strike at Tallinn's airport would block domestic flights for 24-hours, but that foreign flights--earning hard currency--would continue. (Riina Kionka) BALTIC SOLDIERS CRITICIZE YELTSIN. A letter allegedly signed by over 800 servicemen stationed in the Baltic region that criticized Boris Yeltsin was published in Krasnaya zvezda yesterday. The letter expressed anger over Yeltin's support for pro-democracy forces in the Baltic. It charged that his actions were based on personal ambition and would lead to greater strife and the disintegration of the USSR. The letter called on Yeltsin to join a military unit in the Baltic and to experience the miserable living conditions of Soviet servicemen there. It failed to mention--as military spokesmen often have--that soldiers face poor living conditions all over the USSR. (Stephen Foye) UKRAINIAN CP CHIEF ON BALTICS. Ukrainian Communist Party leader Stanislav Hurenko, addressing a Party meeting at the Kiev PoBytechnical Institute yesterday, said that the position of the Party's Secretariat on the situation in the Baltic states fully corresponds to that of the CPSU Politburo, Ukrinform-TASS reported yesterday. The Ukrainian Party leadership is against the exploitation of "dramatic events" for inflaming "anti-Communist hysteria," Hurenko said. He characterized slogans like "Today Latvia, tomorrow Ukraine" as provocations. (Roman Solchanyk) USSR USSR - ALL-UNION TOPICS GORBACHEV WARNS OF ESCALATION IN GULF. Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev said yesterday at a Moscow news conference that "events in the Gulf are clearly tending to escalate...that is very dangerous. We must do all we can to stop the conflict," TASS reported. He said "there is a threat that the situation is getting out of hand," and that "we must not allow military operations to develop into a situation that would result in the killing of servicemen and more particularly of innocent civilians." TASS said yesterday the Supreme Soviet Presidium adopted a resolution pledging to pursue the Soviet leadership's policy on the Gulf "aimed at the quickest possible end to military action and the restoration of peace." (Suzanne Crow) TASS SAYS SOME MEDIA CRITICAL OF WAR EFFORT. In its January 22 review of the Soviet press, TASS noted that several commentaries appearing yesterday were critical of the US effort in the Gulf. The Pravda correspondent in New York said economic interests were behind the US action and Trud said the war, whose goal is allegedly limited to the liberation of Kuwait, might turn into a large-scale regional military conflict with unpredictable consequences for the whole world. (Suzanne Crow) SOVIET GENERAL ON GULF MILITARY PERFORMANCE. Interfax quoted an unidentified general from the Soviet General Staff yesterday as saying that 90 percent of all allied airstrikes against Iraq had missed their targets, Reuters and AFP reported yesterday. He said most air bases and aircraft had not been hit, and that only 11 of 41 anti-aircraft systems had been knocked out. "Iraqi air bases are very well camouflaged and extremely hard to locate," said the general. He also alleged that the allied leadership was using bad weather as an excuse to ground planes and review its strategy. (Suzanne Crow) AKHROMEEV HINTS AT UN INTERVENTION. Soviet Marshal Sergei Akhromeev said the Gulf war is likely to go on for a long time. "I don't think an army with nine years' battle experience can be paralyzed just by air attacks," Akhromeev said in an interview with Neues Deutschland yesterday. Akhromeev also said United Nations' intervention to put a halt to hostilities cannot be ruled out. "In the UN Security Council, one could probably find acceptable solutions for both sides," said Akhromeev. Such a comment from an influential official casts doubt on the Soviet Union's commitment to the allied effort unconditionally to remove Iraq from Kuwait. (Suzanne Crow) MILITARY ADVISERS CLAIM DENIED. TASS reported yesterday the Soviet Foreign Ministry's denial that Soviet evacuees entering Iran were military advisers. (See Daily Report, January 22.) "As we have repeatedly declared, all Soviet military advisers have left Iraq. Only 43 Soviet embassy personnel now remain in Iraq. There are no military specialists among them." The MFA denial concerned a news report in Japan's Sankei Shimbun which quoted international military sources. (Suzanne Crow) GORBACHEV DECREES CURRENCY REFORM. Gorbachev last night decreed a sweeping monetary reform, including a partial freeze on bank accounts and a currency reform. As of today, Soviet citizens will be able to withdraw only 500 rubles a month from their savings bank accounts. The decree also said that, as of midnight last night, current-issue 50- and 100-ruble notes would no longer be legal tender. It said those old notes would be exchanged for new 50- and 100-ruble notes, and also for lower-denomination notes. A decree by the USSR Cabinet of Ministers, also issued last night, said workers would be allowed to exchange a maximum of 1,000 rubles in old 50- and 100-notes, and pensioners a maximum of 200 rubles. (NCA) DECREE INTENDED TO CRACK DOWN ON "UNEARNED INCOMES." TASS last night said the measures were intended to crack down on speculation, corruption, counterfeiting, and unearned incomes, as well as to "normalize money circulation and the consumer market." Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov told Soviet TV last night that the current 50- and 100-ruble notes are one of the main elements of the "shadow economy" and make up over one-third of the money now in circulation. Withdrawing large sums from circulation will help reduce the monetary overhang, but the way it is being done will further undermine the confidence of Soviet citizens in the value of their currency; it will also discourage not only illegal private entrepreneurship but also the USSR's already extremely restricted range of legal activities. (NCA/Elizabeth Teague) TRADE UNION INFLUENCE DETECTED. Over the past year, a currency reform of this sort was consistently called for by the official trade unions and by their militant offshoot, the United Workers' Front. Pavlov told Soviet TV last night that the measure had been in preparation for a year, but former trade union boss USSR vice-president Gennadii Yanaev gave the game away in a television interview on January 19. The Soviet government, Yanaev volunteered unprompted, "is cooperating very closely with the trade unions." (Elizabeth Teague) SHATALIN'S OPEN LETTER TO GORBACHEV. Retired member of the Presidential Council, Stanislav Shatalin, published an open letter to Mikhail Gorbachev in Komsomol'skaya Pravda on January 23. He urged the Soviet President to abandon the post of general secretary and, with it, totalitarian Communist ideology. He called for a center/left coalition and a government of national consensus consisting of representatives of various nationalities, parties, and social groups. Shatalin identified the leadership of the RSFSR CP and "certain members" of the Politburo as the "main leaders" of the conservatives. (Alexander Rahr) USSR COMMITTEE OF NATIONAL SALVATION ALREADY EXISTS. Radio Rossiya yesterday quoted Nezavisimaya gazeta as saying the so-called Centrist Bloc has already set up a Committee of National Salvation of the USSR. The head of the committee is reportedly a conservative Centrist Bloc activist, Vladimir Voronin. Members of this bloc, which is believed to be closely connected to the KGB and the conservative Party apparatus, earlier this year proposed creating all-Union and republican national salvation committees to replace the legally elected parliaments. It appears that this scenario was tried in the Baltics, but so far the national salvation committees in Lithuania and Latvia have failed to overthrow the local leaderships. Judging from the information cited by Nezavisimaya gazeta, the authors of the scenario are determined to continue their attempts to implement the plan. (Vera Tolz) NAZARBAEV ON QUADRILATERAL AGREEMENT. Speculating about the future of the Soviet Union, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev said that Russia, Ukraine, Belorussia, Central Asia and Kazakhstan should form a federal state with Mikhail Gorbachev as overall president. He told Novosti on January 22 that the quadrilateral agreement recently signed between Russia, Ukraine, Belorussia and Kazakhstan is the basis for the future Union treaty which remains open for other republics as well. (Alexander Rahr) MORE COURT CASES ON CHARGES OF INSULTING PRESIDENT. Cases on charges of insulting the Soviet president are currently being initiated against three members of the radical Democratic Union, the "TSN" TV newscast reported yesterday. Two cases are currently being discussed by courts in Moscow and one in Tver'. (Vera Tolz) BESSMERTNYKH-NAKAYAMA TALKS. Soviet Foreign Minister Aleksandr Bessmertnykh said after talks with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Nakayama yesterday that relations between the USSR and Japan had suffered a "certain lag," and that "this lag cannot be considered normal," Reuters reported. Bessmertnykh said Moscow aimed fully to normalize relations with Japan and pledged that Soviet foreign policy is unchanged. A joint statement concerning "the entire range of bilateral relations" is expected after talks today between Nakayama and Gorbachev, AFP said yesterday. (Suzanne Crow) KUWAIT GRANTS $1 BILLION LOAN. TASS reported yesterday that Kuwait Foreign Trading Contracting and Investment Company will provide Vneshekonombank in the USSR with a $1 billion loan. A Kuwaiti foreign trade official said the agreement reflects the development of relations between the two countries. (Suzanne Crow) ROK OFFERS $3 BILLION TO USSR. South Korea will extend $3 billion in loans and aid to the Soviet Union over the next three years. The agreement includes $1.5 billion for financing Soviet imports of Korean consumer goods and raw materials and $500 million for importing Korean-made industrial products. The remaining $1 billion is to be a cash loan to help finance Soviet economic development. A consortium of ten Korean banks will make the cash loan and the Seoul government will guarantee repayment if the Korean national assembly approves this guarantee, AP reported yesterday. (Suzanne Crow) USSR MAY SELL ARMS TO SOUTH KOREA. After signing loan and aid agreements yesterday in Seoul, Soviet Deputy Prime Minister Yurii Maslyukov said, "We have an intention to provide South Korea with arms for defensive purposes if necessary." He also said that the Soviet Union had been supplying arms to North Korea since the end of the Korean war, but claimed they are "defensive ones." Alleging that American nuclear weapons exist in South Korea, Maslyukov called for the Korean peninsula to become a nuclear-free zone, Reuters and AP said yesterday. (Suzanne Crow) KGB FABRICATES DATA ON ECONOMIC SABOTAGE. The KGB uses falsified information on economic sabotage in order to justify the work of its newly-created administration dealing with the matter, reported Komsomol'skaya Pravda on January 15. To investigate KGB reports on large caches of food products discovered in Novosibirsk, Saratov, Tula and Turkmenia, the newspaper turned to the local MVD authorities, which proved the information wrong. In one case, the KGB reported finding 304 tons of black caviar, while in fact, the figure was 3.4 tons. In another case the KGB announced the discovery of 441,000 cans of meat, allegedly hidden since 1986, which in fact had recently been distributed from state strategic reserves. (Victor Yasmann) EC SUSPENDS AID TO USSR. The European Parliament voted yesterday to suspend $1.5 billion in food and technical aid to the USSR in response to the crackdown in the Baltic States. The aid had been approved just last month. On Monday the EC had cancelled a meeting of the EC-Soviet commission (see yesterday's DR). According to a Reuter report yesterday, however, a spokeswoman for the Soviet embassy to the EC downplayed the postponement, saying it "should not be dramatized. Both sides want the meeting to take place under favorable circumstances, and [the present] circumstances are not favorable." (Sallie Wise) SOVIET GRAIN-BUYING SPREE. The USSR has rushed to purchase US grain in an apparent attempt to use up recent credits quickly, in case further credits are cut off, The Chicago Tribune reports today. Moscow bought about 500,000 metric tons of US wheat yesterday, and traders expect a similar purchase soon. Of the $900 million in credits approved by President Bush on January 8, only $127 million remains to be spent. (Sallie Wise) USSR - IN THE REPUBLICS CONSERVATIVE ATTACK ON YELTSIN. The Politburo of the Russian CP Central Committee has issued a statement denouncing Boris Yeltsin and Russian democrats for their support of Baltic separatism. The statement, published in Sovetskaya Rossiya on January 18, was the Russian CP's strongest attack on Yeltsin so far. It said that Yeltsin "has lost his sense of political responsibility" by calling for the creation of a Russian Army and for the intervention of the UN in Soviet domestic affairs. The statement also denounced the Lithuanian leadership of Vytautas Landsbergis as "criminal." (Alexander Rahr) PETRUSHENKO HITS YELTSIN. Colonel Nikolai Petrushenko said in Sovetskaya Rossiya yesterday that Yeltsin's appeals to Russian soldiers carried no authority. Yeltsin had earlier called on Russian soldiers to refuse to fire on civilians. Petrushenko also charged that Yeltsin's intention to create a Russian army would lead to widespread civil war. Petrushenko, one of the conservative "Soyuz" group's leading members, claimed that Russians were suffering racial discrimination in the Baltic, and called on Russian federation deputies to stop Yeltsin's "dangerous adventurism." (Stephen Foye) GEORGIA HIT BY ENERGY SHORTAGE. Reuters yesterday cited Georgian journalists as reporting that a large and unexplained reduction in electricity supplies from the Soviet grid had forced Georgian authorities to close factories, reduce train services and TV broadcasts and cut domestic supplies by two hours per day. The entire Transcaucasus area has been suffering a power shortfall since the closure in early 1989 of the Armenian twin nuclear power stations near Erevan. (Liz Fuller) KYRGYZSTAN REORGANIZES GOVERNMENT. TASS reported yesterday that Kyrgyzstan's Supreme Soviet has elected a cabinet of ministers to replace the former Council of Ministers. The new cabinet is to report directly to republican president Askar Akaev, who proposed the change of structure to the somewhat resistant Supreme Soviet last month. Nasirdin Isanov, elected republican vice president only a month ago, has been named prime minister. His replacement as vice president is a former secretary of the Frunze city Party committee, German Kuznetsov, presumably a Slav. Few of Akaev's appointees have been Slavs; the relatively unknown Kuznetsov may be a sop to the republic's non-Kirgiz population. (Bess Brown) "DNIESTER SSR" BUCKS GORBACHEV'S DECISION ON DISBANDMENT. Meeting in Tiraspol January 22, an extraordinary congress of people's deputies of all levels from the would-be Dniester SSR resolved to refuse to comply with Gorbachev's ruling that the self-proclaimed republic was illegal. The ruling forms a part of Gorbachev's December 22 decree on normalizing the situation in Moldavia, which also orders Kishinev to abolish laws and decisions deemed "discriminatory" to non-Moldavians. The Russian-dominated congress in Tiraspol justified its decision by pointing to Kishinev's failure to comply with some of Gorbachev's instructions. The congress decided to establish structures of executive power of the would-be republic within the next two weeks, Izvestia and Novosti reported yesterday. (Vladimir Socor) UKRAINIAN STATE PROGRAM ON LANGUAGES. The Presidium of the Ukrainian Council of Ministers has approved a draft program on the development of the Ukrainian language and other national languages of the Ukrainian SSR, Radio Kiev reported on January 21. Commenting on the program, first deputy head of the Council of Ministers Kostyantyn Masyk noted that the law on languages passed by the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet at the end of 1989 is "not functioning." (Roman Solchanyk) APPEAL BY TURKESTAN MILITARY COMMAND. The Military Council and the Political Administration of the Turkestan Military District have called upon local citizens to subscribe to the district's military newspaper. The appeal, published in the December 23 Turkmenskaya iskra, claims that a subscription to Frunzenets is the best way for citizens to reassure themselves about military life in Turkmenistan. The appeal is aimed at easing the anxieties of local people concerned over the military draft and life in the armed forces. It is also probably meant to increase subscriptions to the paper, which, it can be surmised, has been shifted to greater self-financing. (Stephen Foye) TAJIK-UKRAINE TRADE AGREEMENT. The December 23 issue of Tajikistani soveti describes the economic agreement between Tajikistan and the Ukraine. The agreement covers exchanges of machinery, food, cotton and other raw materials between the two republics. (Fevziya Barlas)
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