Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid. - Dostoevsky
RFE/RL Daily Report

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)




[English] [Russian TRANS | KOI8 | ALT | WIN | MAC | ISO5]

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