|I'm going to turn on the light, and we'll be two people in a room looking at each other and wondering why on earth we were afraid of the dark. - Gale Wilhelm|
No. 26, 06 February 1991
BALTIC STATES GORBACHEV SAYS LITHUANIAN POLL "LEGALLY UNSOUND." Gorbachev issued a presidential decree February 5 declaring the decisions of the Lithuanian Supreme Soviet of January 16 and 18 on holding a poll on the future of the Lithuanian state on February 9 "legally unsound". It instructed the supreme and local bodies of power of the Lithuanian SSR and the relevant ministries and departments of the USSR to ensure strict fulfillment of the USSR Supreme Soviet resolution of January 16 on the March 17 Union-wide referendum on the preservation of the Soviet Union. The decree accused the Lithuanian leadership of taking advantage of "the aggravated socio-political situation in the republic...to organize support for their separatist ambitions." The decree is in keeping with Gorbachev's adamant insistence that the Baltic republics abide by USSR laws and the USSR constitution. (Ann Sheehy) LANDSBERGIS RESPONDS TO GORBACHEV'S DECREE. About a half hour after the announcement of Gorbachev's decree (see above), Lithuanian President Vytautas Landsbergis issued a short comment reported by Radio Kaunas. He said that Gorbachev's decree reflected the old Soviet tradition that law and authority did not stem from the will of the people expressed in a free vote, but were decided autocratically upon orders from the rulers. He added that the Gorbachev decree was assessed as interference in the affairs of the sovereign Republic of Lithuania. (Saulius Girnius) GORBACHEV MEETS FORMER LITHUANIAN COMMUNISTS. In an interview with Radio Kaunas on February 5, Lithuanian Socialist Labor Party secretary Vladimir Berezov said that party chairman Algirdas Brazauskas, Tiesa editor-in-chief Domas Sniukas, and he had talked that day with Gorbachev for about an hour and a half. The discussion centered on the return of the press center in Vilnius and other party buildings seized by Soviet troops in January. Gorbachev said that talks on the return of the buildings should be conducted with the head of the CPSU CC Administrative Organs department. The Lithuanians, however, were unable to contact him. (Saulius Girnius) PRUNSKIENE IN BRUSSELS. Former Lithuanian Prime Minister Kazimiera Prunskiene met with members of the European Parliament in Brussels on February 5, Reuter reported that day. She urged that European Community aid for the USSR bypass the central authorities and go directly to the republics because local officials were better able to determine needs and distribute food. DPA on February 6 quoted her as saying that the Baltic republics did not need food aid, but rather credits to build up their domestic economies and infrastructure. (Saulius Girnius) LITHUANIAN STAMPS RECOGNIZED. Radio Kaunas on February 5 reported that USSR Deputy Minister of Communications Gennadii Kudryavtsev and Director of the Department of Postal Communications of the Lithuanian Ministry of Communications Anatolijus Mitrofanovas had signed an agreement on Lithuanian postage stamps. The USSR ministry declared that it did not oppose Lithuania's issuance of its own postage stamps and their distribution in Lithuania and Soviet republics that have agreed to their use. The circulation of the stamps within USSR territory would be compensated according to international postal conventions. Lithuanian Communications Minister Kostas Birulis was quoted as saying that Lithuanian stamps can be used to send letters to Latvia, Estonia, Azerbaijan, Moldavia, and Russia. (Saulius Girnius) ANOTHER FILMMAKER DIES FROM BLACK BERETS' GUNS. Radio Riga reported on February 5 that film operator Gvido Zvaigzne died in a Riga hospital early that morning. He was shot by the Black Berets on January 20 when they stormed the Latvian Ministry of Internal Affairs, and remained in a coma until his death. His colleague, Andris Slapins, died almost instantly on January 20 after being shot by the Black Berets. Zvaigzne is to be buried on February 9 at Riga's Forest Cemetery. He is the sixth person in Latvia to die as a consequence of violence in Latvia in January. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIA'S LITHUANIANS CAN PARTICIPATE IN LITHUANIAN POLL. Polling centers will be opened in Riga, Jelgava, and Daugavpils for Lithuanians living in Latvia who want to take part in the poll on Lithuania's independence, reported Radio Riga on February 6. The Latvian Supreme Council has still not decided whether to hold a similar poll in Latvia. (Dzintra Bungs) GORBUNOVS INVITED TO NORDIC COUNCIL SESSION. Anatolijs Gorbunovs, Chairman of Latvia's Supreme Council, has accepted an invitation to take part in the 39th session of the Nordic Council to take place later this month in Copenhagen. The invitation was extended by Anker Jorgensen, head of the Nordic Council delegation visiting Latvia, reported Radio Riga on February 6. Jorgensen said that the Nordic Council OBs currently focusing on getting its information bureaus off to a good start in the Baltics, educational programs, and coOBeration on environmental protection of the Baltic Sea. (Dzintra Bungs) B CHURKBN CRITICIZES ICELAND'S STAND ON BALTICS. Soviet foreign ministry spokesman Vitalii Churkin, as reported by TASS, told reporters in Moscow yesterday (February 5) that Iceland's position on the Baltics is biased and is a departure from traditionally friendly Soviet-Icelandic relations. Churkin said Bhat Deputy Foreign Minister Yulii Kvitsinsky had summoned Iceland's ambassador to the USSR to complain. Iceland last month demanded that Moscow explain the use of force in the Baltics, and Iceland's foreign minister has said that hiOBcountry is considering establishing diplomatic ties with Lithuania. (NCA/Sallie Wise) USSR PRESSURES CZECHOSLOVAKIA ON BALTIC. Czechoslovak Foreign Minister Jiri Dienstbier says his country is under considerable Soviet pressure not to increase its ties with the Baltic republics, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Prague on February 5. Dienstbier told a Prague meeting held on February 3 in support of Baltic independence that Czechoslovakia was receiving "unequivocal" signals from Moscow. Among them is the idea that Moscow would consider an exchange of representatives between Prague and Vilnius as constituting interference in Soviet internal affairs. Dienstbier said he understood that such an exchange--already agreed upon by Czechoslovakia and Lithuania--would produce a reaction in Moscow. (Barbara Kroulik) BALTS FOR NOBEL PEACE PRIZE. The US Helsinki Commission has nominated the peoples of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania for the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, a RFE/RL correspondent reported from Washington on February 5. Commission co-chairman Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) says recent events have shown the Baltic peoples' non-violent struggle for independence will not be easy, but that international pressure might be the most effective way to help them regain freedom. Co-chairman Senator Dennis DeConcini (D-Arizona) said it is ironic that last year's winner is oppressing the people most deserving of this year's Peace Prize. (Riina Kionka) HUNGARIANS IN ROMANIA EXPRESS SOLIDARITY WITH BALTS. In a declaratiBn concerning recent events in the Gulf and in the Baltic states, the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania stated: "we should not forget the situation of the Baltic states; [iB serves to] warn us of the danger of brutal armed forces, which violate the freedom and the national dignity of the peoplesBfighting for independence and democratic changes. We express oBr protest and we manifest our solidarity with the democratic governments of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia." The declaratiOB was published in Romaniai Magyar Szo, a daily of the Hungarian minority in Romania, on January 22. (Petronela Gaal) USSR - ALL-UNION TOPICS SEVENTH CONGRESS OF JOURNALISTS CRITICIZES KRAVCHENKO. Sharp criticism of Gosteleradio chief Leonid Kravchenko's policies was voiced at the Seventh Congress of Soviet Journalists, which opened in Moscow on February 5, Radio Moscow-1 reported. (Reporting on the opening of the congress, "Vremya" mentioned the criticism of Kravchenko only in passing.) Delegates at the congress also commemorated the media people who have recently died while "fulfilling their professional duties," TSN reported. Among those commemorated were two media representatives killed during the OMON assault on the MVD building in Riga on January 20. (Vera Tolz) DEPUTY WINS LIBEL SUIT AGAINST TASS AND PRAVDA. Galina Starovoitova, a liberal USSR and RSFSR people's deputy, has won a lawsuit against the CPSU daily, Pravda, and Vladimir Petrunya, chief editor of TASS. According to the TSN late night news of February 4, the Moscow Sverdlovsky district court ordered Pravda to apologize to Starovoitova on the front page, where it had published Petrunya's article slandering Starovoitova and other democratic deputies. In a series of articles published in Pravda from September 26 to October 2, 1990, Petrunya claimed that the democrats had deliberately created acute food shortages in Moscow with the aim of committing a "counterrevolutionary coup" against the Gorbachev-Ryzhkov leadership. (Julia Wishnevsky) MOSCOW CP CHIEF WANTS CRITICISM OF LEADERSHIP TO BE LIMITED. Newspapers and journals which are organs of various government bodies should not be allowed freely to criticize the Soviet leadership, Moscow city Party chief Yurii Prokof'ev told a press conference on February 4, Novosti reported. Prokof'ev proposed appointing a special official within the new Cabinet of Ministers to control periodicals belonging to the government. Prokof'ev noted that the CPSU has always had a similar official. Petr Luchinsky has been appointed Secretary of the CPSU CC for controlling the activities of the Party press, Prokof'ev said. He also insisted that he had no information about a decree aimed at limiting the existing freedom of the media, allegedly prepared by Gorbachev. (Rumors about such a decree are currently circulating in Moscow.) (Vera Tolz) MOSCOW FILMMAKERS TO BOYCOTT CENTRAL TV. The Moscow organization of cinema workers has joined the opposition Democratic Russia movement. Only one filmmaker voted against this decision at the organization's meeting held on February 5, the RL Russian BD reported later that day. The filmmakers agreed to join the boycott of Central TV to protest censorship and disinformation; altogether over 200 leading Soviet cultural figures have joined it. The boycott, the cinema workers elaborated, will apply only to entertainment shows on Central television, not to Moscow and Leningrad local TV or to certain progressive political programs. Since some full-time employees of Central TV had opted to join the boycott as well, the filmmakers voted to set up a special "Foundation in the Defense of Glasnost'" to help them to survive. (Russian BD/Julia Wishnevsky) CHURKIN ON IRAN INITIATIVE. Soviet foreign ministry spokesman Vitalii Churkin said February 5 the Iranian peace proposal cannot be described as wholly negative (as some in the United States have done) because it underscores the necessity of fulfilling the UN Security Council resolutions. (Suzanne Crow) ON UN MILITARY STAFF COMMITTEE. At the February 5 USSR foreign ministry briefing, Churkin spoke of the UN's Military Staff Committee's current inadequacies as a body. He said the Gulf conflict has shown the need to think seriously about the formulation of the Committee's structure and consider whether it could prove effective in a similar situation in the future, TASS said. (Suzanne Crow) BESSMERTNYKH MEETS SYRIA'S TALAS. Soviet Foreign Minister Aleksandr Bessmertnykh met with Syrian Defense Minister and Vice Premier Mustafa Talas on February 5. Talks took place in a "friendly atmosphere." TASS said "the sides were unanimous that the clear obligation of Iraq to leave Kuwait in full accordance with UN Security Council resolutions would permit the cessation of military actions and end bloodshed. Such a settlement of the Kuwaiti crisis would open the possibility to approach the resolution of other near East problems, first and foremost the Arab-Israeli conflict." (Suzanne Crow) BESSMERTNYKH: NO CONVENTIONAL THREAT TO USSR. TASS reported February 5 that Bessmertnykh told the Central Committee Plenum last week that military actions against Iraq have not exposed the southern regions of the USSR to nuclear, biological or chemical weapons dangers. Bessmertnykh said Gorbachev had told him to ask the US about such a threat during the foreign minister's visit to Washington last week. Bessmertnykh also noted that the US statement that no danger from unconventional weapons presently exists conforms with Soviet and other intelligence sources' information. (NCA/Suzanne Crow) DID MOSCOW TELL IRAQ TO EVACUATE PLANES TO IRAN? The Soviet TV station TSN on February 6 quoted a recent report by the Egyptian newspaper Al Khakyka, according to which Iraq evacuated its planes to Iran on the initiative of the USSR. According to this hypothesis on the mysterious exodus of Iraqi planes, the Kremlin was supposedly concerned that its newest technological weaponry might fall into the hands of Western allies. (Alexander Rahr) PRIMAKOV TO BAGHDAD? According to Vladimir Isaev, head of Moscow's Institute for Middle East Affairs, Gorbachev's special Middle East envoy Evgenii Primakov may soon go to Baghdad for talks with Saddam Hussein. Isaev's comments to French television (TF-1) on February 5 were cited by Reuter on February 6. (Suzanne Crow) IRAQI AMBASSADOR TO USSR ON SOVIET ROLE IN GULF. Gafil Djassim Hussein said in an interview published on February 5 in Sovetskaya Rossiya that Moscow should "play a positive role and not allow the destruction of a friendly country and the liquidation of its people." Hussein also said Moscow should not allow "American imperialism" to flourish just because the Cold War is over, AFP reported February 5. (Suzanne Crow) USSR MAY ASK GERMANY FOR WAR REPARATIONS. The Supreme Soviet will probably ask the Soviet government to demand reparations for World War II casualties and forced labor before it ratifies the Two-Plus-Four Treaty sealing German unification. This report came from German Bundestag members recently in Soviet Union. They were quoted in a February 5 AFP report as saying they do not know how much the USSR may demand, but that it appeared Soviet parliamentarians wished to treat the treaty as a final peace settlement with Germany. The Bundestag members maintained ratification of the treaty is not itself in question and that the Supreme Soviet intends to take it up during the session which begins February 18. (Suzanne Crow) POLICE PATROLS INCREASED. The number of joint police-army units patrolling the streets of Soviet cities has increased significantly since the patrols were introduced on February 1. According to TASS on February 5, four-man teams of police and soldiers have now hit the streets in approximately 90 cities, involving some 12,000 troops. The news agency denied that the patrols are equipped with automatic weapons or armored vehicles. The USSR Interior Ministry claims that about 5,000 people have been detained nationwide since Friday night, most of them for petty crimes. (NCA/Stephen Foye) GENERAL HITS POLITICAL PARTIES, MEDIA. The Chief of the Ground Forces Political Administration told last week's CPSU plenum that political parties were trying to influence armed forces personnel and to neutralize the Communist Party. In a speech carried by Pravda on February 5 and summarized by TASS, Colonel General Nikolai Moiseev charged that representatives of various parties were trying to "penetrate military units." He said that in the past six months over 1,500 incidents of anti-army propaganda had been intercepted at ground forces garrisons. He also criticized Boris Yeltsin and charged that mass media coverage of the army included slander and "dirty anti-army fabrications." (Stephen Foye) TASS CRITICIZES US MILITARY BUDGET. TASS military commentator Vladimir Bogachev charged on February 5 that the recently announced US military budget included several loopholes that would permit a significant increase in US military spending. He pointed first to supplemental spending that will be granted to pay for the Gulf War, arguing that this would also cover replacement costs for a number of weapons systems currently being expended in the Gulf. Bogachev also said that announced military spending reductions might be ignored because the US administration has linked them to what it perceives as a continuing Soviet military threat. (Stephen Foye) NOVOSTI ON NAVAL FORCES, GULF. Novosti commentator Major General Yurii Lebedev charged on February 4 that the Persian Gulf War confirmed the importance of naval operations in the pursuit of strategic objectives on the ground, including cities and industrial centers. He said that the use of naval power was part of a broader Allied warfighting strategy aimed at minimizing the use of ground forces. Lebedev said that this new strategy, however viable, proved that naval forces were becoming a more important component of Western military capabilities. He reiterated the Soviet position that naval forces should therefore be included in arms control negotiations. (Stephen Foye) REFORMIST GENERAL WARNS OF CRACKDOWN. General Dmitrii Volkogonov, the new military adviser to Boris Yeltsin, warned in an article in Moscow News (no. 3) of irreparable historical consequences if a military crackdown is staged in the Soviet Union. According to Volkogonov, all conflicts could be resolved by political means. He compared President Gorbachev to the pre-revolutionary Russian leader Aleksandr Kerensky who had desperately demanded more extraordinary powers but was unable to use them properly. (Alexander Rahr) SOBCHAK SAID GORBACHEV CHEATED MILITARY. According to Leningrad mayor Anatolii Sobchak, the military must feel cheated by Gorbachev. Sobchak wrote in Moscow News (no. 4) that after being sent by Gorbachev to conduct the crackdown in Lithuania, the military learned from him the next morning that they had acted on their own initiative. Sobchak added that Gorbachev should have had the courage to accept responsibility and called the president's behavior "shameful." He noted that Gorbachev never became a real president of his people but remained a typical general secretary. (Alexander Rahr) 1962 NOVOCHERKASSK KILLINGS WHITEWASHED. The USSR Chief Military Procuracy has finally revealed the graves of people shot during the workers' riots in Novocherkassk in June, 1962, Sovetskaya Rossiya announced February 1. According to the newspaper, the military procuracy seems to have concluded that the actions against the workers were justified, since some of the demonstrators allegedly attempted to use violence. Twenty-four persons, including a teenager, were shot dead and 39 injured when members of the Khrushchev Politburo ordered the military to disperse a spontaneous workers' rally triggered by food price rises coupled with wage reductions. Hundreds were sentenced to 10-15 years' imprisonment, and at least 7 to death, for taking part in the rally. Although liberal journalists writing on the Novocherkassk events in the past year claim that many of those sentenced were innocent bystanders who should be rehabilitated, this is highly unlikely, to judge from the report in Sovetskaya Rossiya. (Julia Wishnevsky) USSR - IN THE REPUBLICS YELTSIN TV SPEECH POSTPONED. The speech that RSFSR Supreme Soviet chairman Boris Yeltsin planned to deliver last night (February 5) has been postponed. It may now be broadcast on February 8 (Friday evening). One reason seems to have been that Yeltsin was demanding television time to broadcast live, whereas Gosteleradio wanted to put out a recorded version (in which, the Yeltsin team feared, cuts might be made). (Elizabeth Teague) IS YELTSIN'S OFFICE BUGGED? The front-page of Komsomol'skaya pravda on February 5 carried a story alleging that the KGB has a clandestine listening post in rooms above Yeltsin's office at the "Russian White House"--the building of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet on Moscow's Kranopresnenskaya Embankment. The newspaper also carried a KGB denial of the story. "Such things," the KGB is quoted as saying, "are simply impossible today." (NCA/Elizabeth Teague) RUSSIAN INFORMATION AGENCY CREATED. The "Russian (Rossiiskoe) Information Agency" recently has been set up, Novosti reported February 4. The new agency was established by a decision of the Presidium of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet. A spokesman for the new company said it will not attempt to establish any monopoly on disseminating information, but will cooperate with other independent agencies already existing in the RSFSR. (Vera Tolz) RSFSR FORMALLY PROTESTS CRACKDOWN ON RADIO ROSSIYA. The RSFSR ministry of the press and mass information issued a formal protest against Gosteleradio's decision to switch Radio Rossiya to a channel which enables it to reach only a little more than 60% of the RSFSR's population. Radio Moscow-1 reported February 4 that the ministry said that if the Gosteleradio decision were not reversed very soon, the RSFSR government would have to take "emergency measures." It did not specify what these measures would be. (NCA/Vera Tolz) KRAVCHUK STRESSES FOREIGN CONTACTS. Chairman of the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet Leonid Kravchuk has reemphasized his republic's intention to continue developing its activities in the foreign arena, Radio Kiev reported February 5. Kravchuk is attending the world economic forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he held talks with the president of the host country. (Roman Solchanyk) UKRAINIAN RADICALS SUE KGB CHIEF. The Ukrainian Republican Party has sued KGB Chairman Vladimir Kryuchkov in the Dzerzhinsky district court in Moscow, TSN reported on February 5. Kryuchkov, the URP complains, defamed the party in his address delivered at the fourth session of the USSR Congress of People's Deputies last December. (Julia Wishnevsky) OVER 70,000 EVACUATED FROM CHERNOBYL CONTAMINATED ZONES LAST YEAR. Viktor Gubanov, head of the state committee monitoring the after-effects of the Chernobyl disaster, announced on February 5 that 72,700 people were evacuated from contaminated areas of Ukraine and Belorussia during 1990. The evacuees were moved from areas judged to have unacceptably high levels of radiation. According to a Reuter report of February 6, Gubanov said that a further 140,000 people would be moved from areas of moderate contamination in the next year. Gubanov also announced that funds for the continuing Chernobyl cleanup would be increased nearly fivefold this year: from 2.2 billion rubles in 1990 to 10.3 billion rubles. (Sallie Wise) MORE LAND TO BE GIVEN TO PEASANTS IN UZBEKISTAN. According to a report on the February 5 edition of "Vremya", Uzbek president Islam Karimov has decreed that more than 100,000 hectares of irrigated land be distributed to peasants to increase the size of their private plots. Karimov told an Izvestia correspondent that 170,000 hectares had been distributed last year in the program, which is part of his plan to increase food production in the republic (the interview appeared on January 28). Village elders quoted on "Vremya", however, warned that the parcels will have to be larger in order to both feed the villagers and have enough extra to sell in town markets. (Bess Brown) MOLDAVIA TO CONCLUDE DIRECT TRADE AGREEMENTS WITH HUNGARY, CZECHOSLOVAKIA. The Moldavian government has held talks with the Hungarian and Czechoslovak Consuls General in Kiev concerning the conclusion of bilateral trade agreements, Moldovapres reported February 5. The consuls, who paid separate visits to Kishinev, were received by Moldavian president Mircea Snegur, Minister of External Relations Nicolae Tsyu, and other officials. Snegur said on the occasion that while fulfilling existing contractual obligations vis-a-vis the USSR, Moldavia will choose for itself its foreign economic partners and conduct direct exchanges, no longer going through the center. (Vladimir Socor).
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