|Every custom was once an eccentricity; every idea was once an absurdity. - Holbrook Jackson|
No. 28, 08 February 1991
BALTIC STATES MILITARY DISTRIBUTES ANTI-INDEPENDENCE LEAFLETS. At a news conference on February 7, Lithuanian President Vytautas Landsbergis said that military helicopters had dropped leaflets in Kaunas urging citizens not to participate in the universal poll on February 9, AP reported that day. The leaflets, signed by the pro-Kremlin Lithuanian Citizens' Committee, said: "Before expressing your opinion, think over again and again your action. Your 'yes' is secession of the republic from the USSR. That is a categorical worsening of relations between Lithuania and the USSR." Landsbergis also called the planned Soviet troop maneuvers in the three Baltic republics on February 10-20 a blatant attempt to intimidate Lithuania. (Saulius Girnius) LITHUANIAN APPEAL FOR POLISH SUPPORT. Czeslaw Okinczyc, member of the Polish caucus of the Lithuanian Supreme Council, appealed on Radio Warsaw on February 7 for greater political support from Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Thanking the Poles for their moral and humanitarian support, he advised against withholding political recognition of Lithuania on the grounds that such move might have a negative effect on the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Poland. Okinczyc argued that if the USSR wanted to keep their troops in Poland, they could still find a pretext, regardless of the situation in the Baltic states. (Roman Stefanowski) POLISH DEPUTY URGES PARTICIPATION IN LITHUANIAN POLL. Ryszard Maciejkjaniec, leader of the Polish caucus in Lithuania's Supreme Council, called upon the Polish minority in Lithuania to take part in the February 9 poll on Lithuania's independence, reported PAP on February 7. (Roman Stefanowski) ZIOLKOWSKI ON POLAND'S RECOGNITION OF LITHUANIA. Janusz Ziolkowski, State Secretary in the Presidential Office responsible for foreign affairs, told the press on February 7 that the Polish state authorities fully support the Lithuanians' independence aspirations. At the same time, he pointed out it would not help the Lithuanians at all if Poland's president officially supported Lithuanian independence. Such support could, according to Ziolkowski, undermine Polish-Soviet relations since "at stake is the issue of territorial integrity," PAP reported on February 7. (Roman Stefanowski) TARTU PROPOSES TREE-LINED BALTIC WAY. Radio Riga reported on February 7 that the Estonian city of Tartu had proposed planting birches, oaks, and linden along a road leading from Estonia, through Latvia, into Lithuania to commemorate the peaceful quest of the Balts for independence and to remember the joint demonstration on August 23, l989 against the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. (Dzintra Bungs) ESTIMATED PROPERTY DAMAGE FROM BLACK BERETS' ATTACKS. Property damage, as a consequence of the Black Berets' [OMON's] violence in Riga in January, has been estimated as follows: buildings--100,000 rubles; agricultural machinery and other vehicles--280,000 rubles; roads and bridges--10,000 rubles, reported Radio Riga on February 8. As a consequence of the Black Berets' takeover of the Press Building on January 2, the financial losses have been much greater. According to its former director Kazimirs Dundurs, the newspapers and journals published there netted a monthly profit of 500,000 rubles before the takeover. Now the Press Building is operating at only 10-30% of its capacity. (Dzintra Bungs) "ATTEMPT" ON NEVZOROV WAS STAGED, TSN SUGGESTS. The "attack" on Leningrad TV star Aleksandr Nevzorov must have been staged, TSN news said February 7. According to the earlier version, mysterious strangers opened fire on Nevzorov's car, presumably to avenge his anti-Baltic films, and the filmmaker managed to escape by a great miracle. TSN moderator Dmitrii Kiselev said that the number plate on the car in question proved to be false, adding that the numbers marked on its engine showed that the car belongs to the Latvian Communist Party--i.e., the body that allegedly has financed OMON activities. Kiselev quoted a Latvian official as saying that only a madman could try to assassinate Nevzorov in a location so close to the pro-Moscow OMON paratroop base. (Julia Wishnevsky) ALKSNIS PARTICIPATED IN NEVZOROV'S ADVENTURES IN RIGA. Col. Viktor Alksnis told Krasnaya zvezda of February 5 that he invited Leningrad TV journalist Aleksandr Nevzorov to Riga to film the Black Berets. On February 3, Alksnis accompanied Nevzorov and three Black Berets on a nighttime drive to downtown Riga, despite the fact that the Black Berets had been ordered by the MVD in Moscow to stay in their base on the city's outskirts. Alksnis described the attack on their car by unknown assailants, but did not provide a clear picture of what happened. He stressed that he had tried to dissuade Nevzorov from "adventurism" and from seeking "sensational material." (Dzintra Bungs) CENTRIST BLOC FOR PRESIDENTIAL RULE IN THE BALTIC. The murky "centrist bloc" of political parties and organizations supports the integrity of the Union, TASS reported on February 6. The leader of the bloc, Vladimir Voronin, said that the fate of the Soviet Union is more important than republican demands for sovereignty. He urged Gorbachev to introduce presidential rule in the Baltics. Voronin noted that the Committees for National Salvation in the Baltic republics were illegal and should be disbanded. Another leader of the centrist bloc, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, rejected the idea that the latest events in the Baltics were inspired by Moscow. (Alexander Rahr) USSR - ALL-UNION TOPICS RESULTS OF THE SEVENTH CONGRESS OF JOURNALISTS. On the last day of the seventh Congress of Soviet journalists, the reform-minded general director of Central TV's fourth channel, Eduard Sagalaev, was elected chairman of the Council of the Union of Soviet Journalists, TASS reported February 7. (The union is now a federation of various local journalistic organizations.) The congress decided not to vote on Gosteleradio chief Leonid Kravchenko's membership in the union, leaving the final decision on the matter to the Moscow journalist organization. This information was provided to RL's Russian Service by journalists in Moscow. "Vremya," however, did not report this fact. Finally, the Congress appealed to President Gorbachev and the republican parliaments not to use the military to settle civilian conflicts, TASS reported February 7. (Vera Tolz) PRAVDA DEFENDS CENTRAL TV. The main CPSU daily on February 7 defended Gosteleradio policy on central TV from criticism over its lack of objectivity. The newspaper asserted that central TV succeeds in providing pluralism of opinions. "No political party can get a monopoly over one channel or a TV program," the newspaper stated, accusing democratic forces in the country of trying to monopolize TV. In fact, critics of Gosteleradio broadcasting policy say that many important TV programs, including "Vremya," have returned to the previous practice of expressing just one point of view, that of the CPSU. (Vera Tolz) KRAVCHENKO REINSTATES ANTI-SEMITISM, ATV ALLEGES. Anatolii Malkin, producer of the "Authors Television" channel, told the weekly Sobesednik (No. 5) that the reason for the banning of one ATV regular segment, "Press-Club," was the "violation of the national-proportional representation" of the show's participants. In Soviet newspeak, this term, widely used by various anti-Semitic societies such as "Pamyat'", means "too many Jews." During the first years of perestroika, genuine efforts were made to abolish discrimination against Jews in state-owned Soviet enterprises, but the present management of Gosteleradio, according to Malkin, seems to have reversed this policy. (Julia Wishnevsky) FOREIGN MINISTRY CONCILIATORY. In contrast to strident remarks recently aimed at the United States, the Soviet Foreign Ministry yesterday sent an upbeat message on US-Soviet relations. "The stress in Washington may now be on differences, but we believe the fundamental relationship is very sound, very strong, very dynamic," said Soviet Foreign Ministry Spokesman Vitalii Churkin. On the Baltic crisis, Churkin offered, "we fully understand Western concern...and we hope they will understand the situation in the Baltic republics in all its complexity...". On the Gulf crisis, Churkin said any differences are "matters of emphasis, nothing more," the Los Angeles Times reported February 8. CHURKIN BLASTS FILATOV BACK. Churkin rejected Major-General Viktor Filatov's assertions that the USSR is to blame for the start of war in the Persian Gulf and that "under a different foreign policy" and "a different foreign ministry" it would not have happened (see Daily Report February 4 and 7). Churkin said, "Filatov should blame himself. To me it is crystal clear that the USSR... did everything possible to find a political solution to the crisis.... Our conscience...is absolutely clear," TASS reported February 7. (Suzanne Crow) MOSCOW ENVISIONS MIDEAST CONFERENCE UNDER UN AUSPICES. Soviet Foreign Minister Aleksandr Bessmertnykh, in talks with Syrian Defense Minister Mustafa Talas, said "the best path to a reliable peace and stability in the [Middle East] region is through an international conference, under UN auspices, and with the participation of all interested parties," TASS reported February 7. SYRIAN DEFENSE MINISTER ENDS VISIT. TASS said February 7 during Syrian Defense Minister Mustafa Talas' four-day visit, he met with his counterpart Dmitrii Yazov, Foreign Minister Aleksandr Bessmertnykh, Minister of Foreign Economic Relations Konstantin Katushev, and other Soviet officials. Talas visited the Institute of Military History and the Zhukov Military-Aeronautics Engineering Academy. (Suzanne Crow) SOVIET DIPLOMACY CONTINUES. According to the February 7 MFA briefing, Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Belonogov ended consultations in Teheran yesterday and is on his way to Turkey to discuss "bilateral relations and international problems of mutual interest," especially the Gulf conflict. Meanwhile Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Petrovsky met with Yemen's foreign minister 'Abd al-'Aziz Al-Dali to discuss the Gulf conflict, TASS reported February 7. Indicating a difference of opinion with Yemen, the Soviet Foreign Ministry's statement indicated it was the Soviet side's opinion that the conflict will end only with a clear sign that Iraq is pulling its forces out of Kuwait. (Suzanne Crow) AZERBAIJAN CP CENTRAL COMMITTEE PRONOUNCEMENT ON GULF WAR. The Central Committee of the Azerbaijan Communist Party has issued a statement expressing "concern" at Azerbaijan's geographical proximity to the war zone and affirming the support of the Azerbaijani population for the USSR's policy aimed at seeking a settlement of the conflict. The statement called for "a more significant effort" and "resolute steps" to prevent a broadening of the conflict and "to bring a just peace to the region", Radio Baku reported on February 6. (Liz Fuller) KIEV 'EDINSTVO' PROTESTS BETRAYAL OF ARABS. Radio Moscow yesterday said that the Kiev chapter of the all-Union group "Unity behind Leninist and Communist Ideals" [Edinstvo] is calling for a demonstration on Sunday. The organizers want to protest former Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze's support for the UN resolution endorsing the use of force in the Persian Gulf unless Iraq withdraws from Kuwait. Leaflets distributed by "Edinstvo" and quoted in Komsomol'skaya pravda say that Shevarnadze signed a death sentence for Arabs on behalf of the Soviet Union. The leaflets say the USSR must not become an enemy of the Muslim world. (NCA/Kathy Mihalisko) WILL GORBACHEV GO TO SOUTH KOREA? South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported February 7 that Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev may pay a visit to South Korea either before or after his trip to Japan in April. Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun, however, reported Vitalii Ignatenko in Tokyo as saying Gorbachev would not visit South Korea. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Churkin said the issue is not decided, TASS and AP reported February 7. (Suzanne Crow) GERMAN AID FOR RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH CAUSES CONFLICT. TASS reported on February 7 from Warsaw that Polish authorities finally decided to let 200 trucks from Germany loaded with goods for the Russian Orthodox Church pass through Poland. The convoy spent two weeks on the border Poland because Polish authorities claimed that a number of regulations were violated: the drivers were wearing military uniforms and were armed, the trucks were not insured, etc. (Oxana Antic) LIGACHEV UPSETS THE APPLECART. Egor Ligachev's interview with the Italian daily La Stampa was reprinted in the Moscow City Soviet newspaper, Kuranty, on January 17. Ligachev termed Eduard Shevardnadze's resignation "a classical trick," aimed at distracting public attention from real problems. He criticized Aleksandr Yakovlev, who "will be called into account for his errors in domestic and foreign policies" --namely, for opposing Party conservatives. Ligachev, on the other hand, spoke warmly of Nikolai Ryzhkov and called Vadim Bakatin "a good worker" who needs more strength. Ligachev reproved Gorbachev for failing to defend his associates against "abuses and libel." A new bit of information was Ligachev's version of the origin of his feud with Yeltsin: the latter, Ligachev claims, was not satisfied with candidate membership in the Politburo and wanted to become a full member, but Ligachev spoke against it. (Julia Wishnevsky) LUK'YANOV TO BLAME FOR ADOPTING FAULTY SOVIET SYSTEM. In 1988, Anatolii Luk'yanov (now chairman of the USSR Supreme Soviet) played a very negative role in advising Gorbachev to chose the Leninist model of soviets instead of adopting Western-type representative democracy, according to Fedor Burlatsky in Literaturnaya gazeta No. 4. On the eve of the Nineteenth Party conference, Burlatsky recalls, Gorbachev's advisers had agreed on representative government, including direct election of the USSR president by universal suffrage. (At that time, he says, Gorbachev would have been elected resoundingly.) Instead, the leadership opted for the system that existed in Soviet Russia in 1924, including even the number of deputies. But the 1924 system, Burlatsky argues, was created to serve the system of "proletarian" dictatorship, and could work only as a screen for Party dictatorship. (Julia Wishnevsky) RECORD SOVIET ROAD DEATHS IN 1990. A record 63,362 people died on Soviet roads and highways last year, announced a senior MVD official, B. Korekovsky on Soviet TV. A further 360,000 people -- also a record -- suffered serious injuries in road accidents, according to a February 8 Reuter account of Korekovsky's remarks. Korekovsky blamed lax attitudes to driving and drunkenness for many accidents, and said that 11,500 people died because of drunk driving. He faulted the Supreme Soviet for ignoring highway safety, since it has postponed legislation on criminal responsibility for road accidents until a new Union treaty is approved. (Sallie Wise) USSR - IN THE REPUBLICS RSFSR SUPSOV VOTES TO HOLD USSR AND REPUBLICAN REFERENDUMS. The RSFSR Supreme Soviet endorsed February 7 the holding of the all-Union referendum of March 17 in the republic and decided to hold a referendum of its own the same day, TASS and Moscow radio reported February 7. No decision was taken, however, on the questions to be asked in the RSFSR referendum. Originally, these were to be on the introduction of a popularly-elected presidency and on the state structure of the RSFSR and its membership of the Union, but Yeltsin proposed that the question on the state structure of the RSFSR be removed and replaced by a question on private ownership of land. (Ann Sheehy) MORE ON EAVESDROPPING IN RSFSR SUPSOV. On February 6, the head of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet's security unit, Alexander Korzhakov, in the presence of a prosecutor, People's Deputies, and KGB officers, reopened a sealed room located over the office of Boris Yeltsin in the Russian parliament building. After examining electronic equipment set up in the room, RSFSR security experts concluded that the devices were used for eavesdropping. However, a KGB representative stated that the equipment belongs to the KGB Eighth Main Administration for Communication and Crytography, and was used for protection against eavesdropping. Korzhakov told RFE/RL that after a detailed examination, the RSFSR Supreme Soviet intends to file a lawsuit against the USSR KGB. (Russian BD/Victor Yasmann) KOZYREV MEETS BAKER. RSFSR foreign minister Andrei Kozyrev met US Secretary of State James Baker in Washington on February 5. During his previous trip to the US last November, Kozyrev was denied a meeting with Baker. The Journal of Commerce on February 6 quoted a United Nations official as saying that Kozyrev made an impression as "a nationalist in a good sense" because "he looks at Europe and sees nations that have retained their national identity but are working together to increase commerce, to allow people to travel, and to protect human rights." (Alexander Rahr) INDEPENDENT HUMAN RIGHTS BODY FORMED IN GEORGIA. An All- Georgian Association for the Protection of Human Rights was formed at a meeting in Tbilisi on February 6, Radio Tbilisi reports. This body is not affiliated with the new Georgian government, which is headed by a political coalition that includes the Helsinki Monitoring Group; it will seek to function as an independent organization throughout Georgia. The chairman of the new Association is Nikoloz Samkharadze, who worked with members of the original Georgian Helsinki Group in the mid-1970s. (Liz Fuller) UKRAINIAN-USSR AGREEMENT ON CULTURE. The Ukrainian and USSR ministries of culture yesterday initialed an agreement on cooperation on cultural matters for 1991, TASS reported on February 7. An important aspect of the agreement concerns the creation of cultural centers, societies, and associations for Ukrainians living compactly outside the Ukrainian republic. (Roman Solchanyk) "RUKH" ON THE REFERENDUM. The Ukrainian Popular Movement, or "Rukh", has requested that the USSR Constitutional Oversight Committee examine the constitutionality of the USSR Supreme Soviet decree on conducting the March 17 referendum, Radio Kiev reported on February 7. According to the report, "Rukh" has also addressed a statement to the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet protesting the referendum as "illegal." (Roman Solchanyk) MORE ON UKRAINIAN EMPLOYMENT LAW. According to Radio Kiev (February 7), the employment policy adopted by parliament a day earlier envisions that about 3% of the republican and local budgets should be allocated for unemployment benefits, retraining, etc. During the first three months the unemployed should receive their normal salary from their last place of employment. Unemployment benefits should be 50% of the last salary but not less than the minimum monthly wage; time spent unemployed will be counted as time spent working when old age pension is calculated. During the debates on republican employment policy, however, deputies doubted that those Union enterprises which are located in the republic will follow the law. (Valentyn Moroz) UKRAINIAN PROPERTY LAW ADOPTED. According to TASS and Radio Kiev (February 7), the newly adopted Ukrainian law on property envisions individual, collective, state and intellectual forms of property, and declares the republic as the sole owner of its land, natural resources, means of production, financial resources and part of the Soviet gold reserves. The law, however, fails to clarify the status of property belonging to political organizations. During the debates deputies pointed out that the Komsomol and the Communist party have been conducting thriving commercial enterprises, including their own commercial banks. (Valentyn Moroz) CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS ON CHERNOBYL. Nikolai Trubin, the USSR Prosecutor General, announced yesterday that he has initiated a criminal probe into the handling of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, which occurred nearly five years ago. As reported February 8 in New York Times, a preliminary condemnation of the cleanup alleges that high officials botched up the evacuation of the population, ignored radiation readings, and built resettlement areas on contaminated land. The officials may face charges of negligence and abuse of authority. Investigators from the RSFSR, Ukraine and Belorussia are taking part in the probe. (Kathy Mihalisko) PRINTERS STRIKE IN ALMA-ATA. Radio Moscow reported on February 7 that printers at the republican CP Central Committee's publishing house had gone on strike and refused to print the morning editions of both all-Union and republican dailies. The report described the dispute as primarily economic--the printers' pay has been reduced because of declining circulation figures. The printers returned to work after a compromise was reached. The radio report did not indicate if the printers were also protesting the Central Committee decision to take complete control of the two major republican dailies in order to squelch their liberal tendencies. (Bess Brown) PUBLIC OPINION POLL IN ALMA-ATA. The January 12 issue of Kazakhstanskaya pravda contains the results of a public opinion poll conducted in the republic's capital. Asked to rate political figures on a scale of one to five, respondents gave Mikhail Gorbachev 2.8, and Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbaev 4.1. Nazarbaev received high ratings across the political spectrum, but Gorbachev's score was reduced by poor ratings from "proponents of the building of a communist society" and Russians. In the same poll, Boris Yeltsin received a score of 3.4, Anatolii Sobchak and Stanislav Shatalin both received 3.1, Gavriil Popov 2.7, and Nikolai Ryzhkov 2.2. The report did not say when the poll was taken. (Bess Brown) POLL ON REPUBLICAN LEADERS. The same poll in Alma-Ata also asked respondents to rate political figures in Kazakhstan. The most popular, after Nazarbaev, was republican Writers' Union chief and head of the Nevada-Semipalatinsk anti-nuclear movement Olzhas Suleimenov with 3.6. Writer Mukhtar Shakhanov, who leads a movement to save the Aral Sea and Lake Balkhash and conducted a controversial inquiry into the events in Alma-Ata in December, 1986, received 3.5. Prime minister Uzakbai Karamanov received 3.2. (Bess Brown) DISAPPROVAL OF SOLZHENITSYN SCHEME FOR KAZAKHSTAN. The Alma-Ata poll included a question about Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's proposal that the largely Russian-inhabited oblasts of northern Kazakhstan be attached to a future Slavic state, and the southern, primarily Kazakh oblasts be allowed to secede. Responses indicated that 32.1% of respondents viewed the proposal negatively, 16.7% viewed it as more negative than positive. Only 9.3% said they had a positive view of the proposal. The report noted that a third of those polled said they were unfamiliar with Solzhenitsyn's proposal. (Bess Brown) KAZAKHSTAN REJECTS PAYMENT FOR USE OF SEMIPALATINSK. Novosti reported on February 7 that the government of Kazakhstan has turned down an offer of the USSR government to pay the republic 350,000,000 rubles for the use of the nuclear weapons test site in Semipalatinsk Oblast until 1993. M. Nurtazin, chairman of the Kazakh Supreme Soviet's committee on ecology, told the news agency that the republican government had decided that it could not allow nuclear tests to be conducted at the expense of public health. (Bess Brown) TURKMENISTAN SUPREME COURT REJECTS ACTIVIST'S CONVICTION. RFE/RL has learned from an official of Agzybirlik, Turkmenistan's Popular Front organization, that the republican Supreme Court has overturned the conviction of writer and Agzybirlik activist Shiraly Nurmyradov, who was sentenced to seven years in prison on a fraud charge last December. The Supreme Court ruled that there had been insufficient evidence to justify the conviction, and called for a new investigation of the case. Agzybirlik activists have insisted that the charge was trumped up by the authorities because he criticized Turkmen president Saparmurad Niyazov. (Bess Brown) KISHINEV COMMUNISTS ASSESS POLITICAL SITUATION. A session of the Kishinev CP organization assessed the political situation in Moldavia as characterized by "instability, anti-communist and anti-socialist campaigns, the fanning of inter-ethnic strife, and an abrupt deterioration in the living conditions of the working people," Radio Moscow reported February 7. The Moldavian CP's newly elected First Secretary, Grigore Eremei, defined the Party's main goals as ensuring Moldavia's "adherence to the socialist course" and the holding of the referendum on preserving the USSR. The Party will continue to promote Moldavia's territorial integrity within the USSR. (Vladimir Socor).
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