|Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand. - Thomas Carlyle|
No. 19, 28 January 1991
BALTIC STATES SAVISAAR: CRACKDOWN LINKED TO SUMMIT? Estonia's Prime Minister Edgar Savisaar told Radio Stockholm on January 27 that he fears the Soviet military may crack down on Estonia after the planned US-Soviet summit. Savisaar said that he thinks Estonia will remain stable until after the summit ends on February 13, but that pro-Moscow forces will then "attempt to overthrow the government." (Riina Kionka) INDEPENDENT ECP AGAINST REFERENDUM. Estonia's independent Communist Party has voted to oppose the all-Union referendum set for March 17, agencies reported on January 27. The ECP, meeting for its 21st Congress last weekend, passed a resolution saying that conditions are not right for such a vote. The ECP also opposed a proposal by some Estonian leaders to hold a "pre-referendum" in Estonia, similar to the opinion poll being conducted in Lithuania. The independent ECP also re-elected Enn-Arno Sillari as its First Secretary and retained Vaino Valjas as Chairman of the Party. (Riina Kionka) ECP CHAIRMAN WANTS UNION TREATY. Vaino Valjas (see above) told Reuter on January 27 that the independent ECP supported the Baltic independence drive. "We recognize that the Baltic republics have to be sovereign, independent and free," Valjas said, adding that Estonia should aim for talks with Moscow. "We must be political realists. The way to resolve this must be through negotiation and dialogue to achieve a treaty which will gradually realize all our intentions and hopes." Valjas failed to mention that Estonia has sought bona fide negotiations toward independence with the USSR since last March, to no avail. (Riina Kionka) DRAFTEE SEARCHES IN ESTONIA. Troops are looking for draft resisters in Estonia, according to The Guardian on January 26 and Radio Moscow on January 27. The Guardian said that witnesses have told of troops looking for draft evaders in Kauppala, near Tallinn. Radio Moscow, quoting Radio Tallinn, said that people dressed in naval and cadet uniforms were going from flat to flat in the capital city carrying lists of those due for military call-up and of deserters. According to Radio Moscow, the local military commissariat has denied any knowledge of the reported activities. (Riina Kionka) RUBIKS ATTEMPTS TO UNDERMINE THE LATVIAN GOVERNMENT. Radio Riga reported on January 26 about yet another attempt of Latvian Communist Party First Secretary Alfred Rubiks, who is also chairman of the All-Latvia Public Salvation Committee, to topple the government of Latvia. According to Supreme Council Chairman Anatolijs Gorbunovs, Rubiks had sent a letter to Gorbachev calling for the national reconciliation committee to take power. It was agreed to establish such a committee at the January 22 meeting that Gorbachev had with Gorbunovs and Rubiks to attempt to bring closer together various organizations and political factions in Latvia. Gorbunovs called Rubiks' request "unconstitutional and illegal." (Dzintra Bungs) VICTIMS OF BLACK BERETS MOURNED IN LATVIA. On January 25 about 100,000 Latvians and members of other nationalities honored the four men killed by the Black Berets on January 20. Addressing the throngs at the Statue of Liberty in Riga, Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis stressed that these men had died in Latvia's peaceful struggle for democracy and and independence; he ended his address saying: "Glory to our heroes, damnation to the assassins," reported Radio Riga on January 25. Sergei Kononeko, Edijs Riekstins, and Andris Slapins were buried in Riga, while Vladimir Gomonovich was buried in his native Belorussia. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIA ESTABLISHES DIPLOMATIC TIES WITH RESFSR. Janis Lovniks was accredited by the RSFSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs as Latvia's temporary envoy to Russia on January 25, reported Radio Riga that day. Lovniks was born in Latvia 36 years ago and studied law at the University of Latvia. For several years he worked as senior investigator of the Latvian SSR Procuracy. (Dzintra Bungs) GORBUNOVS ON REFERENDUM. On January 23, Radio Riga aired the report of Anatolijs Gorbunovs, Chairman of the Latvian Supreme Council, of his meeting with Gorbachev the day before. Gorbunovs told Gorbachev that "the state of Latvia can be formed only by all the permanent inhabitants of Latvia; they must also express their attitude on that in a referendum." He did not explained further, but pointed out to Gorbachev that this matter was under the competence of the Supreme Council. Gorbachev reportedly replied that as long as there is no referendum, and the USSR Constitution is not amended, there was only the Latvian SSR. Subsequently several Latvian deputies, who oppose the referendum demanded by Gorbachev, accused Gorbunovs of bowing to Moscow's pressure. (Dzintra Bungs) LITHUANIA'S "NATIONAL SALVATION COMMITTEE" SUSPENDS ACTIVITIES. Soviet media reported on January 25 that the offices of the Lithuanian Communist Party had received a Btatement from the leadership of Lithuania's National SBlvation Committee "by secret channels." The statement said that the committee has suspended its operations after Gorbachev pledged to enforce the USSR Constitution in the republic. The committee, however, reserved the right to resume operations if Gorbachev did not keep this pledge. DPA on January 27, however quoted the committee's main spokesman JuBzas Jermalavicius as saying that the report about the comBittee's disbanding had been false, for the committee was still operating "underground." (Saulius Girnius) B USKHOBCHIK ISSUES WARNING. On January 25 the Soviet army commandant in Vilnius, Major General Vladimir Uskhopchik, sent a letter to the Lithuanian government saying that the garrison's troops were "more and more out of control" because the republic's police were failing to maintain law and order, Radio Kaunas reported on January 26. The claim is not supported by facts, since the level of crime in Lithuania has fallen after the army attack on the television tower. (Saulius Girnius) UPDATE ON DETAINEES. Five of six Lithuanians seized by the army on January 24 were released on January 26, three of them needing hospitalization from the beatings they had suffered. The sixth was not released since he had been found with a pistol that he had thought necessary to have since he was transporting funds. He was released and hospitalized on January 27. Another Lithuanian was shot in the leg on a ricochet by the Soviet troops at a military checkpoint early in the morning of January 27, AP reported that day. (Saulius Girnius) PRUNSKIENE ON VISIT TO WEST. Former Lithuanian Prime Minister Kazimiera Prunskiene is currently visiting Germany. In an interview with the RFE Lithuanian Service on January 26 she denied the rumors that she was seeking political asylum in Switzerland; she had gone to Germany where she has good contacts to gain greater aid for Lithuania. She intends to travel later to the US. In an article published in Tiesa of January 25, she explained the reasons for her visits abroad. (Saulius Girnius) SAUDARGAS CONTINUES TRIPS ABROAD. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Algirdas Saudargas has traveled to Reykjavik, Radio Kaunas reported on January 27. His visit is probably tied with the possible granting of official recognition to the Lithuanian government by Iceland. (Saulius Girnius) VIVAT, MOLCHANOV! The most impressive coverage of the Baltic events by Central TV so far was shown on January 27 on the monthly show "Before and After Midnight," produced by Vladimir Molchanov, the Soviet Union's most popular TV star. The program included film of the January 13 seizure of the Vilnius television tower by Soviet tanks and airborne troops. Referring to the violence in the Baltics and the recent orders of the USSR ministers of defense and internal affairs to dispatch armed patrols on the streets of all Soviet cities, despite the objections of elected governments, Molchanov said that "the pack of wolves goes to its last hunt." "Their stake is power," Molchanov said, "whereas ours is life." (Julia Wishnevsky) TSN NEWS BLAMES REGIME FOR KILLINGS IN RIGA. Soviet TV journalists successfully defied the ban on coverage of the Baltic crackdown imposed by Gosteleradio on several occasions last weekend. The TSN correspondent in Riga broadcast on Friday night the funerals of the victims of the attack on the Latvian MVD. He observed that the four who died defending Latvia belonged to different nationalities, and said that the split lay not along nationalities lines but rather between the new, democratic order and "the [Soviet totalitarian] past, armed and malicious." The four men who died defending the Latvian republic, the TSN moderator added, fell victims to the "political mechanism that murders without mercy--in Tbilisi, Baku, Vilnius, and now in Riga." (Julia Wishnevsky) SOVIET TV AIRS SCENES OF RIGA CRACKDOWN. On Sunday, "Namedni" (the weekly news show on "Author's Television") aired scenes of the Riga attack, borrowed from Latvian and Danish televisions. The moderator noted that it is routine for communists to regain power by force after they lose elections: this happened when they lost the elections to the Russian constituent assembly in 1918, and now again after they lost elections to the Latvian Supreme Soviet. "Namedni" also broadcast an interview with Vladimir Brezhnev, a cameraman for the banned program "Vzglyad," who was badly wounded during the siege. Speaking from his hospital bed, Brezhnev said that he was not afraid to stand against the attackers. (Julia Wishnevsky) USSR - ALL-UNION TOPICS JOINT ARMY-MVD PATROLS. The Soviet Defense and Internal Affairs Ministries have announced a new directive that calls for army units to join police and Internal Ministry forces in maintaining public order, "Vremya" and TASS announced on January 25. Signed by Defense Minister Dmitrii Yazov and Interior Minister Boris Pugo and scheduled to go into effect on February 1, the order calls for joint armed patrols of police and soldiers backed by armored vehicles. The order applies to all major cities and is ostensibly aimed at guarding buildings and policing demonstrations. The order was dated December 29, and is unprecedented with regard to the scope of domestic activities it grants the army. (Stephen Foye) GORBACHEV DECREE ON ECONOMIC SABOTAGE. On January 26, Soviet president Gorbachev issued a decree extending to the KGB and police the right to search virtually every building in the country except foreign embassies in order to inspect financial records and confiscate valuables. According to TASS, the KGB and police need no warrant and have the authority to enter premises with or without permission of the owner. The only restriction on the inspections is that they be carried out in the presence of a representative of a "public organization." That proviso gives no guarantee that the searches will be conducted fairly and legally. The risk to entrepreneurs, a favorite target of conservatives, is, of course, high. (John Tedstrom) CURRENCY EXCHANGE DEADLINE EXTENDED. The original deadline of January 25 for the exchange of old 50- and 100-ruble notes was extended to January 27 for pensioners. Those whose work takes them far from home may now exchange notes for up to three days after they return home. However, as of midday on January 28, there was no indication that the dissenting union republics had withdrawn their extensions of the centrally-decreed deadline and/or their own variations on the upper limit of exchange permitted. Thus RSFSR premier Silaev on January 26 reiterated his republic's extension of the deadline until February 1 and the higher exchange limit of 500 rubles for pensioners. (Keith Bush) CONGRESS OF DEMOCRATIC FORCES MEETS. The founding conference of the Congress of Democratic Forces opened in Kharkov on Saturday, Radio Moscow reported. Forty six democratic political parties and movements from various union republics, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, the Baltic States, Belorussia, Kazakhstan, the RSFSR, and Ukraine, took part in the conference. TASS reported on Sunday that the conference was aimed at creating a coalition of independent parties and movements. The meeting's final statement said the coalition's purpose is "to carry out joint political actions and to cooperate in solving tasks that are common to the democratic movements." (Vera Tolz) CPSU SECRETARIAT MET WITHOUT GORBACHEV. The Secretariat of the CPSU Central Committee met to discuss the situation in the country and in Eastern Europe, TASS reported on January 25. Mikhail Gorbachev was conspicuously absent and the meeting was chaired by his deputy, Vladimir Ivashko. The meeting was attended by KGB chief Vladimir Kryuchkov, who is not a member of the Secretariat or the Politburo. The Secretariat stressed the necessity of keeping close economic and cultural ties with East European states. Ivashko called to resist those who want the CPSU to deal solely with interparty affairs and favored a more political role for the Party. (Alexander Rahr) GORBACHEV'S FORMER AIDE PROVIDES INSIGHT. Nikolai Petrakov, who, like many other reformers has resigned from the President's team, provided some details on the conservative turn in Soviet politics in an interview with The Financial Times on January 26. According to him, conservatives were shocked by the possibility of a Gorbachev/Yeltsin coalition and gave Gorbachev an ultimatum. Petrakov said that Gorbachev's decision to institute "harsh presidential rule" came in the night of November 17, after Viktor Alksnis had told him that he had only 30 days to restore order. The decision, Petrakov added, was made without Aleksandr Yakovlev and Nikolai Ryzhkov. (Alexander Rahr) SOCIOLOGISTS PROPOSE REWORDING REFERENDUM QUESTION. The Union of Sociologists has suggested that the question to be posed in the referendum on the preservation of the Soviet Union scheduled for March 17 should be divided into three, Moscow radio reported January 26. The first question should be on the preservation of the federal structure of the state, the second on renaming it, and the third on the priority of human rights over the rights of nations. This proposal would meet objections that the formulation of the question in the USSR Supreme Soviet resolution of January 16 could cause difficulties for voters who might favor the preservation of the union but not its socialist nature. (Ann Sheehy) DZASOKHOV SAYS USSR FAVORS CEASEFIRE. Aleksandr Dzasokhov, Chairman of the Supreme Soviet committee on international affairs and member of the Politburo, said in an interview appearing in the Los Angeles Times of January 27 that the Soviet Union favors a multinational initiative to resolve the Gulf war. Moscow sees promise in the idea of "a withdrawal (of Iraqi troops from Kuwait) and a cease-fire that would be tied to a new round of discussions...". Dzasokhov emphasized the role of Arab states and the UN Security Council in the discussions. Formerly ambassador to Syria, Dzasokhov has been quite vocal on the Soviet Union's stance toward the Gulf conflict. (Suzanne Crow) VORONTSOV SAYS NO TO TALK OF CEASEFIRE. Soviet ambassador to the United Nations Yulii Vorontsov criticized a group of Arab states (Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia, Sudan and Yemen) for their efforts to start debate in the UN Security Council on a ceasefire. Vorontsov said at the UN (January 25) that these states were simply trying to gain a forum for opposition to the war and they should try first to convince Saddam Hussein to quit Kuwait, AFP and Reuter reported January 26. Vorontsov's comments run counter to those of Aleksandr Dzasokhov (above) suggesting both a proliferation of the sources of Soviet foreign policy and disagreement among the Soviet elite. (Suzanne Crow) VORONTSOV SAYS SADDAM TO BLAME FOR CASUALTIES. Vorontsov also showed a difference of opinion with Soviet Foreign Minister Aleksandr Bessmertnykh on January 25 at the UN. While admitting that casualties are very unfortunate, Vorontsov said Saddam Hussein is ultimately to blame. Vorontsov did not express concern that the multinational bombing campaign in Iraq was heading in the wrong direction, AFP and Reuter reported January 26. (Suzanne Crow) BESSMERTNYKH REJECTS, THEN ACCEPTS, GULF EFFORT. Upon arrival in Washington on January 26, Bessmertnykh said Moscow is concerned about "the scale" of US bombing in Baghdad and the threat to the civilian population. Bessmertnykh also said the destruction of Iraq was "not in the [UN] Security Council resolution" authorizing the use of "all necessary means" to eject Iraqi forces from Kuwait. After meeting with US Secretary of State James Baker, Bessmertnykh said the USSR was in "complete accord" with the multinational force's actions thus far, but remained concerned that the conflict was tending toward the destruction of Iraq, the Washington Post reported yesterday (January 27). (Suzanne Crow) 2+4 RATIFICATION TO BE DIFFICULT. Mikhail A. Loginov, a counsellor at the Soviet embassy in Berlin, said last week ratification of the Two-Plus-Four Treaty will be more difficult than expected. Speaking in an interview with AFP on January 25, Loginov said there are many deputies in the Supreme Soviet who believe that Moscow was too compromising in negotiations with Germany. Loginov noted that USSR has resorted to bringing its troops home via the Baltic Sea (owing to Warsaw's refusal to allow convoys to transit Poland), and this sea route will put the withdrawal schedule behind. (Suzanne Crow) GERMANY OFFERS VOCATIONAL TRAINING. Under an agreement that emerged at the international conference on emigration in Vienna on January 24-25, the FRG will offer training for 1,500 young Soviet workers in Germany each year. The idea, RFE/RL's correspondent reported from Vienna on January 25, is that after training they will return to the USSR and train others in new skills which will give them an incentive to remain in their own country. RFE/RL's correspondent in Bonn reported January 27 that Vladimir Shcherbakov, chairman of Goskomtrud, met in Vienna with German labor minister Norbert Bluem to discuss details of the plan, which will also include training for Soviet trade union activists. Goskomtrud is likely to be enthusiastic about the idea since it has been warning of a potential brain drain of skilled Soviet workers. (Elizabeth Teague) GENERAL STAFFER ON DRAFT, YELTSIN. Colonel General Grigorii Krivosheev told Soviet television viewers on January 27 that 84% of the fall draft quota has been met. Krivosheev repeated complaints about low turn-out rates in the Baltic, the Transcaucasus, and Moscow. He placed blame for draft evasion entirely on republic governments and pro-democracy groups, claiming that low turnouts left the army undermanned (at a time when the US is mobilizing reserves, he cautioned) and endangered Soviet security. Krivosheev also criticized Yeltsin for threatening to form a Russian army, and charged that the creation of national armies in general would undermine stability. (Stephen Foye) CULTURAL FIGURES AGAIN CONDEMN CENTRAL TV. "Vremya's" coverage of the events in the Baltic has been full of direct lies, chief editor of Moscow News Egor Yakovlev stressed in an interview with the central TV program "Do i posle polunochi" on January 27. Yakovlev participated in the program together with Moldavian writer Ion Drutse and Moscow cinema producer Elem Klimov. Klimov noted that he was one of the cultural figures who have just signed a letter announcing a boycott of central TV. He said that he made an exception for "Do i posle polunochi," because he did not want to miss the opportunity of expressing his views on the Baltic situation in front of a large audience. (Vera Tolz) WILL JOURNALISTS EXPEL KRAVCHENKO FROM THEIR UNION? Yakovlev, in the same interview, told Molchanov that some Soviet journalists do not want to be in the same union with Leonid Kravchenko, the head of Gosteleradio widely condemned for biased coverage on Soviet television during the Baltic crackdown. [The Moscow Union of Journalists, once headed by the radical RSFSR minister of the mass media Mikhail Poltoranin, had condemned both the crackdown and its coverage by television and the official news agency TASS; it seems capable of attempting to expell Kravchenko from the Union, but such a move will undoubtably stopped at a higher level.] (Julia Wishnevsky) MOSCOW CITIZENS QUESTIONED ON CENTRAL TV PERFORMANCE. The majority of Muscovites questioned about glasnost' on Soviet central TV said that they detect heavy censorship in reporting by this main media organ, the TV program "Do i posle polunochi" reported on January 27. In a separate question about the main TV newscast "Vremya" the majority of those polled said that this program lacked objectivity. (Vera Tolz) SOVIET TV MEN ENJOY BEING BOYCOTTED? Soviet TV journalists seem determined to inform as wide an audience as possible that the country's leading intellectuals have declared a boycott of Central TV in protest of distortions in its coverage of the Baltic crackdown. On January 26, the film titled "Andrei Smirnov: The Man of the Year," lionizing the former head of the USSR Cinema Workers' Union, was preceded by a long letter of apology for breaking the ban. In the letter, the moderator of the TV program on cinema, the prominent director Mark Zakharov said that broadcasting the film on the work and life of such men as director Andrei Smirnov and his late father, the writer Sergei Smirnov, is crucial for the national's spiritual survival. (Julia Wishnevsky) USSR - IN THE REPUBLICS SVERDLOVSK KGB SUPPORTS YELTSIN. 64 KGB officers from Sverdlovsk have sent a letter to Boris Yeltsin expressing their support for democratization, Radio Rossiya reported on January 25. The officers stated that their organization is deeply split over reform. They added that a number of officers feel disillusioned about protectionism in their organization. They warned that the KGB may side with the conservatives against reform. Yeltsin immediately responded by inviting the KGB officers to join his ranks and cooperate on a concrete national security program for Russia. (Alexander Rahr) COMMITTEES FOR DEFENSE OF LENSOVET AND RSFSR PARLIAMENT SET UP IN LENINGRAD. A special committee for the defense of the Leningrad city Soviet and the RSFSR Supreme Soviet were set up in Leningrad, a member of the Leningrad city Soviet Presidium, Marina Sal'e, told Radio Rossiya on January 28. In contrast to the national salvation committees in the Baltics, the Leningrad committee is open and its main purpose is to defend, not to overthrow, the legally elected state bodies, Sal'e stressed. (Vera Tolz) MOST RUSSIANS WANT TO REMAIN IN NON-RUSSIAN REPUBLICS. A survey conducted in November-December 1990 showed that most Russians in the non-Russian republics wanted to remain there because they believed they were better off than they would be in Russia, Moskovskie novosti reported in its latest issue, according to TASS of January 25. Of the more than 350,000 (out of 25 million) who wanted to leave, roughly 12 percent cited hostility of the population as the reason. But only in Central Asia did they really fear for their lives. Judging by the survey, there are at least 130,000 Russians in Uzbekistan, over 50,000 in Tajikistan, and about 20,000 in Kirgizstan who are literally ready to flee. (Ann Sheehy) NEW JEWISH SCHOOLS. An elementary and a high school for religious studies have been opened in Tashkent, TASS reported on January 24. TASS spoke to the new chief rabbi of Tashkent, Abe-David Gurevich, a US citizen, who initiated the opening of these schools. The rabbi said that he also received permission from the authorities to open a center for religious education in Tashkent. (Oxana Antic) UKRAINIAN PARTIES DISCUSS COALITION. Representatives of more than ten Ukrainian political parties met at the "Rukh" headquarters in Kiev to discuss the formation of a new political coalition called "Democratic Ukraine," Radio Kiev reported on January 26. Among the parties represented were the newly-formed Party of Democratic Rebirth of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Republican Party, and the Democratic Party of Ukraine. (Roman Solchanyk) AGREEMENT WITH DONBASS MINERS. The chairman of the Ukrainian Council of Ministers, Vitol'd Fokin, has signed an agreement with coalminers in the Donbass raising coal prices by 6.2 percent, central television's "TSN" news program reported on January 28. The miners had demanded the doubling of coal prices. Fokin promised that the issue would be reviewed again before mid-February. (Roman Solchanyk) NORTH OSSETIA CREATES COMMISSION FOR REFERENDUM ON PRESERVATION OF UNION. The North Ossetian Supreme Soviet has set up a central commission for holding the March 17 referendum on the preservation of the Soviet Union, Moscow radio reported January 25. This appears to be the first report of any union or autonomous republic supreme soviet setting up such a commission although the USSR Supreme Soviet resolution on the referendum instructed all republican parliaments to set up such commissions by January 26. (Ann Sheehy) MOLDAVIAN PATRIOTIC SOCIETY TO PROPAGANDIZE EAST OF DNIESTER. The "Transnistria Society", created by Moldavians from the left bank of the Dniester to propagandize in that area, held its inaugural congress and issued its program, Novosti reported on January 24. The society considers itself the successor of the Bessarabian Rebirth Society of the pre-Soviet era. The Transnistria Society's main goal is to maintain the "national unity" of Moldavians east of the Dniester with those in Bessarabia and Bukovina and to resist the would-be Dniester SSR proclaimed by local Russian leaders on the left bank of the Dniester. (Vladimir Socor)
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