|To appreciate nonsense requires a serious interest in life. - Gelett Burgess|
No. 21, 30 January 1991
BALTIC STATES "NO CHANCE" OF SURVIVAL FOR LITHUANIAN VICTIM. Jonas Tautkus, a 20-year old Lithuanian youth, shot in the brain at a military checkpoint on January 28, has "no chance" for survival, AFP quoted hospital sources as saying on January 29. Tautkus had been reported missing on January 15 and was believed to be hiding to avoid the Soviet draft. He was returning from Kaunas to Vilnius in his father's car when he was stopped at the checkpoint. What occurred then is unclear. TASS quoted Vilnius military garrison commander Colonel Grigorii Belous as saying that Tautkus "was intoxicated" and was shot when he tried to flee. AP, however, cited a hospital doctor as saying that he was shot when he refused to leave his car and wanted to drive away from the checkpoint. (Saulius Girnius) MILITARY EXPLAINS BOMB INCIDENT IN LITHUANIA. On January 29 the independent news agency BALTFAX quoted a Belorussian military district spokesman as saying that a SU-24 warplane on a training mission dropped a bomb in the Salcininkai raion on January 28, Reuter and AFP reported on January 29. The spokesman said that the plane, flying outside its training area in bad weather, had navigational problems and that an official investigation was being conducted. (Saulius Girnius) NISHANOV SAYS GORBACHEV PLANS BALTIC-USSR TALKS. On January 28 Rafik Nishanov, Chairman of the USSR Supreme Soviet's Nationalities Council, told about 20 Latvian legislators that Gorbachev is planning separate talks with each of the Baltic states on their future status, and that Soviet delegations for such talks were being formed. At the six-hour meeting in Riga, Nishanov did not specify the subject of the talks, but indicated that the talks would take into consideration the USSR and Latvian SSR Constitutions, and the May 4 declaration on independence. At the request of Nishanov, Latvian Communist Party leader Alfreds Rubiks and Baltic Military District Commander Fedor Kuzmin also attended the meeting, reported Radio Riga on January 29. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIANS REACT CAUTIOUSLY TO NISHANOV'S STATEMENT. Latvian Supreme Council Chairman Anatolijs Gorbunovs reacted cautiously to the news, indicating his concern about the role that might be accorded in the talks to the USSR and Latvian SSR Constitutions. Deputy Mavriks Vulfsons said that Nishanov's statements reflected Moscow's reaction to Western criticism of Soviet troop actions in Latvia and Lithuania. Vulfsons thought that Gorbachev may want to tell the West that he has initiated Baltic-USSR talks, even if they go on endlessly, according to Radio Riga of January 29. (Dzintra Bungs) SALVATION COMMITTEE SUSPENDS CLAIM TO POWER IN LATVIA. The All-Latvia Public Salvation Committee, headed by Latvian CP First Secretary Alfreds Rubiks, announced on January 29 that it was discontinuing its claim to executive power in Latvia, reported TASS that day. This decision was reportedly made at Gorbachev's request and in order to facilitate a dialogue. The committee also stated that no political power in Latvia must seize power violently. On January 15 the committee announced that it had taken over the reins of government in Latvia. Despite that fact that this claim was unsubstantiated, official Soviet media disseminated it widely. (Dzintra Bungs) GORBUNOVS ON RELATIONS WITH THE ARMY. Gorbunovs told Radio Riga on January 29 that very good relations had been established with Colonel General Fedor Kuzmin, commander of the USSR Baltic Military District. He said that so far Kuzmin had kept his word on not interfering in Latvia's political affairs, but that there are no guarantees for the future. Kuzmin had agreed that no "armed vehicles" would be used in joint MVD-Army forces patrols of Latvia. Gorbunovs also said that the Supreme Council will determine the feasibility of holding a referendum and that various possibilities exist for servicemen to participate in a referendum. (Dzintra Bungs) POLISH SOLIDARITY WRITES TO GORBACHEV. Solidarity's National Commission, meeting on January 29 in Gdansk, wrote to Gorbachev about the death on January 23 of the two Swedish trade union leaders Bertil Whinberg and Ove Frederiksson. The letter demanded a thorough investigation, with punishment of the guilty, and asked that the public be informed about the progress of the investigations, reported PAP on January 29. While Estonian authorities have already agreed to the participation of the Swedish Criminal Police in the investigations, the letter demanded an explicit agreement from Gorbachev himself. (Roman Stefanowski) STRIKES IN NARVA. About a dozen all-Union enterprises in the northeastern Estonian city of Narva are continuing their three-day-old strike, ETA reported on January 28. The strikers are demanding, among other things, that prices and taxes be cut and that Estonia sign the new Union treaty. The Narva strikers say that they will launch "a long-term strike" on February 1 if their demands are not met. According to Rahva Haal on January 29, most strikes at other all-Union enterprises have petered out. (Riina Kionka) REFERENDUM UNDER DISCUSSION. The Estonian Supreme Council Presidium decided on January 28 that Estonia would conduct its own referendum on independence in advance of the March 17 all-Union vote, ETA reported. The Supreme Council discussed the timing and wording of the question on January 29, and continues discussion today (January 30). (Riina Kionka) CENTRIST BLOC POSITION ON BALTICS. Leaders of the so-called Centrist Bloc of political parties, believed to be strongly connected to the KGB and the Communist Party apparatus, expressed their views on the situation in the Baltics. the chairman of the bloc Vladimir Voronin and a leader of the "Liberal Democratic Party" Vladimir Zhirinovsky said they thought the Lithuanian and Latvian parliaments were entirely to blame for the current crisis in their republics. Zhirinovsky added that Soviet media organs that support Baltic independence should share the blame, TASS reported on January 29. Voronin and Zhirinovsky have just returned from Latvia and Lithuania, where they reportedly met with representatives of the national salvation committees. (Vera Tolz) USSR - ALL-UNION TOPICS GORBACHEV SETS UP ANTI-CRIME COMMITTEE. Soviet and Western sources report that Soviet president Gorbachev on January 29 created an anti-crime coordination committee that is to oversee and coordinate the work of law enforcement agencies, in particular the KGB and the militia. Yurii Golik, named as head of the committee, will make recommendations as to the body's membership and functions. (John Tedstrom) GOLIK ASSUMES YAKOVLEV'S FORMER JOB. Yurii Golik, who yesterday was given the task of coordinating Soviet law-enforcement agencies, now assumes a job performed by Aleksandr Yakovlev in the defunct Presidential Council. Golik, as chairman of the USSR Supreme Soviet's committee on law and order, is considered by democratic forces an arrogant timeserver. (Julia Wishnevsky) RETAIL PRICES COULD DOUBLE. Deputy chairman of the USSR State Committee on Prices, Anatolii Komin, says that retail prices for many food items and consumer goods will increase, some by as much as two times, but the timing of the increases has not been worked out. He said the price hikes would not take place on February 1, according to TASS and Western reports of Komin's TV interview on January 29. The goal of the price increases is to reduce subsidies and their pressure on the USSR budget. Much of the cost of living increases will be made up in income supplements, though, and these are at least as inflationary as subsidies. Many wholesale prices rose on January 1, but retail prices have remained fixed. (John Tedstrom) SOME REPUBLICS WILL BALK. Both the RSFSR and Ukraine have indicated that prices for many consumer basics will for now remain unchanged, despite the impending all-Union price hike. Likewise, strikes and protests over price increases by republican governments in the Baltic States during the last three weeks seem a good predictor of Baltic response to any all-Union move. The Lithuanian government fell after an attempt to raise prices. In Latvia prices on meat, dairy, and baked goods tripled on January 3, but were subsequently reduced somehwhat due to public pressure. Estonia carried out retail price hikes on energy, many services, and food and consumer goods on January 5 and again on January 10. There is extra pressure on republics to raise prices in 1991 because republican budgets now have to fund most retail subsidies themselves. (John Tedstrom) USSR NET OIL IMPORTER BY 1993?. According to a ministry of oil and gas official, the USSR risks becoming a net oil importer by 1993. Oil production was off by 6.3 percent this year (552 mil. vs. 589 mil. tons in 1989). AP on January 29 quoted the chief engineer of the oil and gas ministry as predicting oil output of only 528 mil. tons in 1991. Various estimates put Soviet domestic oil consumption at between 425 and 475 mil. tons per year. Officials in Tyumen report a drop in output in 1990 of some 30 mil. tons, and predict as much as a 50 mil. ton drop in 1991. Even accounting for the fact that shrinking economies consume less energy, if these trends are not arrested, the USSR could soon see itself importing (expensive, hard-currency) oil. (John Tedstrom) SOVIET REACTION TO SUMMIT POSTPONEMENT. Izvestia said today that Washington's restraint in not citing the crackdown in the Baltics as the cause for the summit's postponement "gives us the impression that the White House realistically assesses the unprecedented complexity of internal Soviet problems, for which there is no obvious solution," the New York Times reports today (January 30). TASS commentator Andrei Orlov, on the other hand, was not impressed by Washington's citation of the Gulf crisis and START agreement as reasons to put off the summit. He said (January 28) the fact of the summit's postponement was itself a sign that US-Soviet relations had started to deteriorate. (Suzanne Crow) STANKEVICH SEES SUMMIT DELAY AS WARNING. Deputy chairman of the Moscow city soviet Sergei Stankevich considers the postponement of the US-Soviet summit to be a signal to Soviet leaders that the Cold War could be restored if they "turn back." If that were to happen, Stankevich told AP in an interview January 29, "almost all of the fruits from the previous period, including the peace dividend, [would be] sacrificed in favor of [hardliners'] ideological triumph." Stankevich believes such an outcome would be "unbearable economically and impossible politically." (Sallie Wise) HIGH KGB OFFICIAL BARRED AS DIPLOMAT TO VIENNA. Austrian foreign minister Alois Mock told the Vienna daily Der Kurier on January 29 that his country has refused to accredit KGB officer Lev Chapkin as Secretary of the USSR Embassy in Vienna. Austrian interior minister Franz Loeschnak said that Chapkin's task would have been to reestablish the KGB spy network in Eastern Europe which had suffered severe damage after the revolutions in 1989. Die Welt reported on the same day, without naming Chapkin, that the proposed diplomat was a former KGB deputy chief who had been in charge of the KGB's overall communication system. (Alexander Rahr) GENERAL ON MILITARY REFORM. A Defense Ministry spokesman told TASS on January 29 that a defense bill has been submitted to the USSR Supreme Soviet Defense Committee. Major General Leonid Ivashov said that the bill envisaged "deep changes," and provided soldiers with unprecedented status as special employees of the state. Interestingly (at a time when the army is abetting a domestic crackdown), Ivashov added that the process of restoring the lost traditions of the Russian officer corps has already begun, and recalled a phrase reflecting the behavior of pre-revolutionary officers: "Give your life to the fatherland, your heart to a lady, and your honor to no one." (Stephen Foye) CONSTITUTIONALITY OF PATROLS TO BE EXAMINED. The Soviet Constitutional Oversight Committee intends to consider the constitutionality of the order deploying joint army-police patrols in large cities beginning February 1, according to a Radio Rossiya report on January 29. Committee chairman Sergei Alekseev refused to comment on the inquiry, but the Radio Rossiya report said the examination would be difficult. (NCA/Sallie Wise) JUSTICE MINISTER CRITICIZES "WAR OF LAWS". Soviet Justice Minister Sergei Lushchikov, in an interview in the January 29 issue of Pravitel'stvennyi vestnik, has condemned the "war of laws" between the all-Union government and the republics. According to a TASS summary of the interview yesterday, Lushchikov said that the USSR must have one set of laws that apply to citizens of all republics. In his words, "we live in a single state whether some like it or not." Lushchikov criticized what he sees as a tendency by republics to focus on how to counteract the laws of the center when drafting their own laws. He also dismissed what he called "the parade of sovereignties," saying that some republics do not correctly understand or define sovereignty, and therefore overemphasize their own rights and powers. (NCA/Sallie Wise) FIRST MEETING OF CENTRAL COMMISSION ON REFERENDUM. The Central Commission of a Referendum of the USSR held its first meeting January 29 to discuss the March 17 referendum on the preservation of the Union, TASS reported November 29. The meeting dealt with procedural matters including financing and the form of the ballot paper. (Ann Sheehy) AFANAS'EV ON CONGRESS OF DEMOCRATIC FORCES. At a press conference in the Moscow city Soviet, USSR people's deputy Yurii Afanas'ev commented on the Congress of the Democratic Forces, which held its inaugural conference in Kharkov over the weekend. The congress called for the disintegration of the Soviet empire and its replacement by "a voluntary union of sovereign states." Afanas'ev described the founding of the Congress as an important event, but stressed that it is yet to be seen whether the congress will become a viable opposition to the central authorities, whose conservatism is rapidly growing, Radio Rossiya reported on January 29. (Vera Tolz) YAKOVLEV: CAN TOTALITARIANISM BE REFORMED? Agencies report an article by Aleksandr Yakovlev in Pravda of January 28, in which he urges that the case of the December 1934 assassination of Leningrad Party chief, Sergei Kirov, be reviewed. The official version today says that the killer, Leonid Nikolaev, acted alone, and that no evidence available suggests that Stalin engineered the crime. Yakovlev, then the chairman of the Politburo commission on rehabilitation of Stalin's victims, had voiced his doubts of the official version last summer but was rebuffed by top KGB and legal officials (Pravda, November 4; Trud, November 25). Now, Yakovlev argues that the question of Stalin's role in this case is not a matter of curiosity but that it is connected with another basic problem: whether the present Soviet regime is reformable and can be remodeled into a humane society. (Julia Wishnevsky) NEW JOBS FOR LIBERALS? In Izvestia of January 28, Gorbachev aide Georgii Shakhnazarov denied reports of the resignations of Aleksandr Yakovlev and Evgenii Primakov. "The President did not fire any of them, and allegations to that effect by some media are without foundation," Shakhnazarov said, adding that Yakovlev and Primakov will be soon entrusted with important new responsibilities. Earlier, on January 19, Vice-President Gennadii Yanaev told Soviet TV that Yakovlev and Vadim Medvedev were continuing to do what they had done in the Presidential Council (disbanded a month ago), and that both of them soon will be employed in a new power structure. (Julia Wishnevsky) USSR - IN THE REPUBLICS DEMOCRATS PROPOSE NATIONWIDE STRIKE. Members of the Coordinating Council of the Democratic Russia movement have suggested staging a nationwide political strike in the country for the support of democracy, Radio Rossiya reported on January 29. However, that proposal was evidently not approved by the majority of the council. Democrats complained that the recent presidential decree authorizing joint military and police patrols has practically usurped the rights of local executive committees. The Moscow City Soviet has sent a letter to Boris Yeltsin asking Russian legislators to suspend Gorbachev's decree. (Alexander Rahr) YELTSIN COMPLAINS ABOUT ORGANIZED HARDLINE OPPOSITION. Boris Yeltsin has complained that a carefully organized consolidation of conservative deputies who constantly block democratic decisions is now taking place in the RSFSR parliament. He told Rossiiskaya gazeta on January 29 that he has asked the central authorities to grant him one hour live on Soviet TV on February 5 to express the Russian parliament's view of the situation in the country. (Alexander Rahr) POLL ON RUSSIAN PRESIDENCY. The January 29 issue of Rossiiskaya gazeta published the results of an opinion poll, according to which 50% of Russian citizens favor the creation of a Russian presidency. 16% were against it and 34% did not care or were undecided. (Alexander Rahr) DEPUTIES SET UP "URAL PARLIAMENT." Representatives of the oblast soviets from Kurgan, Orenburg, Perm', Tyumen', Sverdlovsk, and Chelyabinsk met in the Ural city of Sverdlovsk to set up a joint committee to coordinate their activities, Izvestia reported on January 28. The committee, to be called the Ural parliament and to be based in Sverdlovsk, sees as its main aim the coordination of actions to support the introduction of a market economy in the country. (Vera Tolz) RSFSR MAY INTRODUCE EXTRA QUESTIONS IN REFERENDUM. At its session on January 25 the presidium of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet discussed inter alia the holding on the territory of the republic of the all-Union referendum on the preservation of the Union and the possibility of including extra questions on the ballot paper, TASS reported January 25. TASS vouchsafed no further information. Komsomol'skaya pravda commentator N. Sichka suggested on January 17 that the inclusion of extra questions could very well nullify the results. (Ann Sheehy) CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION OF "DEAL OF THE CENTURY." The USSR Procuracy started a criminal investigation January 29 in connection with the deal between a firm in Chelyabinsk and a British company that provided for the sale of 140 billion rubles for $7.8 billion (see yesterday's Daily Report). TASS reported January 29 that the investigation has been launched under article 170 of the RSFSR criminal code which covers abuse of power and official position. This suggests that the target could be RSFSR deputy premier Gennadii Fil'shin, who supported the deal. The RSFSR Supreme Soviet has set up a parliamentary commission to examine Fil'shin's role in it. (Ann Sheehy) GEORGIAN SUPREME SOVIET RESOLUTION ON CREATING NATIONAL GUARD. On January 29 the Georgian Supreme Soviet unanimously approved the creation of a National Guard which is intended to replace Soviet armed forces on Georgian territory and ensure Georgia's security and territorial integrity, Reuter reports. The law on creation of a National Guard stipulates that service is compulsory for all young men of military age who are citizens of Georgia; but a law defining Georgian citizenship (which may be restricted to ethnic Georgians) has not yet been passed. (Liz Fuller) GEORGIA REJECTS RULING ON MILITARY AND POLICE PATROLS. The Georgian Parliament also voted unanimously to declare null and void on Georgian territory the order issued on January 25 by the USSR Defense and Interior Ministries authorizing joint military and police patrols in major cities. In a related protest against this ruling, members of Georgia's unofficial National Congress blocked rail traffic for several hours at the west Georgian junction of Samtredia, TASS reported on January 29. The National Congress espouses the concept of civil disobedience as a tactic in the campaign for achieving Georgia's independence. (NCA/Liz Fuller) GEORGIAN CP CONCERNED AT LACK OF ACCESS TO MEDIA. On January 28 Vremya reported that the Georgian CP leadership has discussed creating its own publishing body following the confiscation by the Georgian Supreme Soviet of all its printing equipment. Within one month of the October 30 elections, the new Supreme Soviet took over both the Georgian and Russian language daily newspapers, Komunisti (renamed first Akhali Sakartvelo and then Sakartvelos respublika) and Zarya Vostoka; publication of the weekly Sakhalkho ganatleba ceased in December. The only remaining Party paper, Soplis tskhovreba, has not appeared for over three weeks. (Liz Fuller) BELORUSSIAN DEPUTIES OPPOSE ECONOMIC DECREE. TASS reported January 29 that opposition deputies in the Belorussian Supreme Soviet yesterday attempted to change parliament's agenda in order to discuss President Gorbachev's decree giving the police and the KGB expanded powers to combat crime. The deputies criticized the decree as an infringement of republican sovereignty and unconstitutional. TASS did not make clear whether they succeeded in changing the decree. The Supreme Soviet also voted yesterday to approve a resolution on the March 17 nationwide referendum, which will ask citizens if they favor preserving the USSR as an integral state. The contents of the resolution are not yet known. (NCA/Kathy Mihalisko) UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENTARY OPPOSITION ON REFERENDUM. Opposition deputies in the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet, organized in the Narodna Rada, met yesterday to decide on a strategy opposing the referendum on preserving the USSR scheduled for March 17, Radio Kiev reported on January 29. The majority supported a proposal to introduce a republican law on referendums, which would permit holding a republican referendum on "cooperation of sovereign states" rather than preservation of the USSR. In line with Ukraine's declaration of sovereignty, which places republican laws over all-Union legislation, the results of the republican vote would supersede the all-Union referendum. (Roman Solchanyk) UKRAINIAN SUPREME SOVIET PRESIDIUM MEETS ON REFERENDUM. The Presidium of the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet met to discuss the organization and preparation of the March 17 referendum on preserving the USSR, Radio Kiev reported on January 29. According to the report, the Presidium supported the decision of the recent Congress of People's Deputies to hold the referendum. (Roman Solchanyk) UKRAINIAN-HUNGARIAN TALKS. Hungarian experts and diplomatic representatives in Kiev began working on a bilateral treaty with Ukraine on cooperation in various fields, Radio Kiev reported on January 29. Hungary and Ukraine agreed to upgrade relations during a visit to Ukraine last September by Hungarian president Arpad Goncz, including the establishment of consular ties and, eventually, full diplomatic relations between the two states. (NCA/Roman Solchanyk) ALKSNIS, RUKH AND THE CIA. Speaking to Modulus, a new "independent computer news agency" in Ukraine, Rukh chairman Ivan Drach denied allegations by "Soyuz" leader Colonel Viktor Alksnis that Rukh and other popular fronts in the western Soviet republics are in contact with the CIA. In an interview published December 31 in Edinstvo, a publication of Latvia's Interfront, Alksnis repeated his charge that Rukh met in Poland last year with CIA agents. Alksnis also said that the removal of Volodymyr Ivashko and General Gromov from Ukrainian political life (in connection with their promotions) is believed by some of his acquaintances to be part of a conspiracy to destabilize the republics. (Kathy Mihalisko) AND GROMOV DOESN'T SHOW. Today (January 30), a court in Kiev is scheduled to begin review of the case of Gromov versus Komsomol'skoe znamya. Before his appointment as deputy Internal Affairs minister, General Gromov filed a lawsuit against the liberal Komsomol daily on grounds of slander. The case has already been rescheduled twice because neither Gromov nor his attorney appeared in court. If they do not show up today, the case will be dismissed. (Kathy Mihalisko) CRITICAL ASSESSMENT OF WORK OF MOLDAVIAN GOVERNMENT. On January 29 the Presidential Council of Moldavia declared unsatisfactory the performance of the Moldavian government, TASS reported January 29. Moldavian president Mircea Snegur told the council there had been declines in various sectors of the economy, and many enterprises would be forced to halt production soon because of the lack of raw materials. Moldavian premier Mircea Druc was criticized for spending too much time travelling abroad on what were essentially "tourist" trips. TASS said this had led to calls in parliament and around the republic for the government's resignation. (Ann Sheehy) MASALIEV WANTS KIRGIZIA'S OLD NAME BACK. TASS, quoting Izvestia, reported on January 29 that Kyrgyzstan's Communist Party chief Absamat Masaliev has demanded that the republican Supreme Soviet restore the words "Soviet" and "Socialist" to the official name of the republic. The Supreme Soviet officially renamed the Kirgiz SSR "Republic of Kyrgyzstan" in December. Masaliev reportedly has demanded a referendum on the republic's name, warning that the Baltic republics started on their present path by changing their names. Kirgiz president Askar Akaev retorted with an attack on "defenders of ideological purity" who are trying to divert attention from economic and social problems. (Bess Brown)
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