|We have to understand the world can only be grasped by action, not by comtemplation. The hand is more important than the eye....The hand is the cutting edge of the mind. - J. Bronowski|
No. 29, 11 February 1991
BALTIC STATES LITHUANIA VOTES FOR INDEPENDENCE. Radio Kaunas on February 10 announced the preliminary results of the previous day's poll asking whether Lithuania should be an independent, democratic republic. 84.63% of the 2,654,000 eligible voters participated, with 90.47% voting "yes", 6.56% - "no", and 2.59% - invalid. A majority of voters in all the 44 raions and cities voted for independence, with the smallest margin being in the Polish-inhabited Vilnius and Salcininkai raions. A greater share of voters in those two raions also did not take part in the elections. (Saulius Girnius) LOW POLISH TURNOUT IN LITHUANIAN POLL. Czeslaw Okinczyc, representative of the Lithuanian Supreme Council responsible for relations with the Polish government, told Polish TV on February 10 that only 24% of the Poles living in Lithuania took part in the poll on February 9, with only half of those taking part voting for Lithuanian independence. The low turnout, said Okinczyc, was due to distrust: while Poles fear the consequences of Lithuanian nationalism, Lithuanians think the Polish minority hinders their struggle for independence. (Roman Stefanowski) PRUNSKIENE IN CZECHOSLOVAKIA. Former Lithuanian Prime Minister Kazimiera Prunskiene was in Prague on February 9 where she spoke at a meeting of the signatories of Czechoslovakia's Charter 77 human rights movement. In an interview with CTK that day she emphasized the need for a political balance between the polarized forces in Lithuania. She criticized Lithuanians who oppose any compromise with Moscow, saying that this caused conflicts within the republic and thus played into the hands of pro-Moscow forces. (Saulius Girnius) MORE MILITARY IN LITHUANIA. On February 9 about 1,400 armed KGB cadets from military schools in Central Asia and Siberia arrived in Lithuania, agencies reported on February 10. They will be stationed at bases in Rukla and Kazlu Ruda, southwest and northeast of the city of Kaunas. Radio Moscow on February 10 reported that the exercise commander of maneuvers planned in the three Baltic republics from February 10-20 will be Petr Chaus, who said that the maneuvers would not include major troop movements but would consist mainly of staff work. (Saulius Girnius) CHAUS ON MILITARY EXERCISES. Lieutenant General Petr Chaus, Chief of Staff of the USSR Baltic Military District, told Diena on February 8 that the military exercises would start on February 10 in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania and would continue for 7-10 days. Chaus also said that the exercises would involve only members of the Baltic Military District; this would seem to suggest that additional troops would not be brought into the Baltics for the exercises. (Dzintra Bungs) SAVISAAR, JUNDZIS REGRET MILITARY EXERCISES. Estonian Prime Minister Edgar Savisaar said that while his government appreciated being informed of Soviet military exercises in the Baltic states, he asked that the exercises be cancelled or postponed since troop movements would serve to raise tensions in the population, reported ETA on February 8. Similar views were expressed by Deputy Talavs Jundzis, chairman of the Latvian Supreme Council's Commission on Defense and Internal Affairs, according to Diena of February 8. Savisaar also asked the Baltic Military District about projected troop movements outside the bases. (Dzintra Bungs) BALTIC MILITARY DISTRICT REDUCES NUMBER OF PLANES. The Soviet air force reduced by two the number of military planes in the Baltic Military District, reported Diena on February 7. According to Major General Valentin Filatov, Chief of the District's Political Department, this step was taken in accordance with last year's Paris accord on the reduction of armed forces in Europe. Asked about the transfer of Soviet troops from Germany to the Baltics, Filatov said that he was not informed about the subject. (Dzintra Bungs) BALTIC QUESTION NOT AN ETHNIC ISSUE. The Baltic Section of the international Conference on the Protection of National Minorities and Human Rights in Europe concluded that the conflict in the Baltics has a political rather than an ethnic cause. Deputy Andrejs Pantelejevs, Chairman of the Latvian Supreme Council's Commission on Human Rights and Ethnic Issues, told Diena on February 7 that the conference, organized in Oslo by Norway's Human Rights Institute, rated the Baltic laws on human and nationality rights as even more progressive than the present international regulations. He said that the world expects the Baltic states to ensure the rights of all their residents. (Dzintra Bungs) DOING THEIR INTERNATIONALIST DUTY. In an interview in the February 10 Rahva Haal, Mikhail Lysenko, head of the Estonian Intermovement's armed militia wing, the "workers' brigades," said that during the elections in Tiraspol his troops helped "maintain order" in the city. Along with similar armed groups from Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine and unspecified RSFSR oblasts they "guaranteed security for the Dniester Republic representatives during their trip to Chisinau". Lysenko complained about "incessant provocations" and shots being Bired at their cars. While Baltic governments have long claimed that Interfront and similar organizations' demonstrations and actions are helped by people from outside, this is the first time the Estonian Intermovement has aOBnowledged its "internationalist duty." (T.H. Ilves) USSR - ALL-UNION TOPICS RE-SHUFFLE AT TOP OF KGB. Two heavyweight KGB officials, First Deputy Chairman Philipp Bobkov and Deputy Chairman Vladimir Pirozhkov, have resigned from the agency, according to Izvestia and TASS, February 8. Bobkov, who in the 1970s headed the KGB Fifth Main Administration for Ideological Subversion, since 1983 has been responsible for all domestic KGB activities. Pirozhkov, who supervised the cadres, archives, and external surveillance administrations, was responsible for liaison between the CPSU apparatus and the KGB. Bobkov was replaced by Colonel General Victor Grushko, who since last year has headed the KGB Second Main Administration. Grushko in turn was succeeded by Lieutenant General Gennadii Titov, his old colleague at the KGB's Scandinavian intelligence desk. The third new appointee is 45-year-old Valerii Vorotnikov, who became the chief of Administration "Z" (the former Fifth Main Administration). (Victor Yasmann) COMMERCIALIZATION OF GOSTELERADIO. On February 8, Gorbachev issued a decree transforming the USSR's sole nationwide network, Gosteleradio, into the state-owned All-Union Television and Radio Company. The decree envisages the transfer of all Gosteleradio's property and funds, including foreign currency reserves, to the new company's jurisdiction. Leonid Kravchenko, widely blamed for the present "counterrevolution" in Soviet TV, has become president of the company. Kravchenko will also head the All-Union Council on Radio and Television, a newly created organ to supervise the work of television. Gorbachev's decree seems to be another attempt to prevent non-communist political forces from gaining access to national TV. (Victor Yasmann) GORBACHEV STATEMENT ON GULF WAR. Gorbachev said on February 9 in a formal statement concerning the Gulf conflict that "the logic of the military operations and the character of the military actions" threaten to go beyond the mandate of UN Resolution 678 on the use of force against Iraq, TASS reported. Gorbachev appealed to Saddam Hussein to "display realism" and announced that Evgenii Primakov would travel to Baghdad for talks with the Iraqi president. Gorbachev's warnings are consistent with Soviet attempts to distance the USSR from the military effort since the outbreak of hostilities. (Suzanne Crow) LENINGRAD RALLY AGAINST WAR. Several thousand Leningrad residents participated in protests on February 10 against Baltic independence movements and the Gulf War. TASS said 4,000 people were present, but Leningrad police put the figure at between 7,000 and 8,000. The rally was organized by patriotic groups including war veterans, the Communist Party, and the "Soyuz" faction of the Congress of Peoples Deputies, AP reported. (Suzanne Crow) RESULTS OF TALKS IN TURKEY. Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Belonogov concluded talks in Ankara (February 8 and 9) with Turkish Prime Minister Yildirim Akbulut and First Deputy Foreign Minister T. Ozceri. TASS reported February 10 the sides agreed that Iraq's territorial integrity should be preserved after the conflict in the Gulf ends and that Turkey should not open up a second front unless attacked by Iraq. The TASS report also reiterated the formulation that "military actions there should be halted immediately as soon as Baghdad displayed readiness to pull its troops out of Kuwait." (Suzanne Crow) PRIMAKOV TO JAPAN. Evgenii Primakov will visit Japan February 13-17 to meet Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu and Foreign Minister Taro Nakayama. He plans to discuss the Gulf war, the Japanese-Soviet territorial dispute, and Gorbachev's planned visit to Japan in April, AFP reported February 9. The dispatch of Primakov instead of Foreign Minister Aleksandr Bessmertnykh suggests that Gorbachev will continue to disperse foreign policy operations among a wide array of people, and perhaps limit Bessmertnykh to arms control matters and East-West relations. (Suzanne Crow) SHEVARDNADZE SETTING UP THINK TANK. Former Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze is creating a "foreign policy association" to promote links between the USSR and the rest of the world at a non-governmental level. According to an Interfax report (February 9), the organizing committee of the research group includes some of the USSR's leading political scientists and diplomats. Interfax said sponsors are likely to include the state-run Soviet Peace Committee and the city soviets in Moscow and Leningrad. Interfax also said Shevardnadze has turned down offers to teach at American universities and go on a speaking tour in the West, AP and AFP reported. (Suzanne Crow) WORK CONTINUES ON UNION TREATY. The first sitting of the plenipotentiary representatives of the republics who are to continue work on the Union treaty with a working group representing the USSR president and Supreme Soviet met in the Kremlin on February 8, TASS and Izvestia reported. Work is expected to continue all this week on an article by article discussion of the crucial questions of delimiting powers between the Union and the subjects of the federation. After the draft has been reworked, it will be discussed again at a session of the Federation Council. (Ann Sheehy) LESS THAN FULL TURN-OUT FOR UNION TREATY DISCUSSIONS. According to Izvestia of February 11, the session in the Kremlin on the draft Union treaty on February 8 was attended by representatives of only nine out of the fifteen union and eighteen out of the twenty autonomous republics. The Ukrainian delegation was to arrive later, while Moldavia was still undecided whether or not to participate in work on the treaty, Izvestia reported. Georgia sent only an observer, and the Baltic states declined to send delegations. (NCA/Ann Sheehy) CALL FOR RESTORATION OF DICTATORSHIP OF PROLETARIAT. Komsomol'skaya pravda on February 2 poured scorn on an interview in "provincial editions" of "a central newspaper" (unidentified, but most probably Sovetskaya Rossiya). In it, V.G. Dolgov, a member of the Central Committee of the RSFSR CP, calls for "a return to what the country abandoned with its adoption of the 1936 Constitution," that is, voting weighted in favor of manual workers and peasants and excluding members of the intelligentsia and the self-employed. As Komsomolka points out, this would mean the abolition of universal suffrage based on "one man--one vote" and a return to Stalinist "dictatorship of the proletariat." The newspaper says those who issue such calls are not concerned about working people but only about preserving "the dictatorship of the bureaucracy masquerading as the power of the working people." (Elizabeth Teague) YANAEV IN KUZBASS. Vice-President Gennadii Yanaev toured the Kuzbass region of Western Siberia February 8 and promised coalminers in Novokuznetsk the government would not raise retail prices "until a law on compensation and other bills protecting the population" were passed. "People should feel an improvement in the domestic market in the next few months," he promised. According to TASS of February 8, Yanaev extracted a pledge from the miners not to strike. Following the tragic events in Vilnius last month, leaders of miners' strike committees in the Kuzbass expressed their willingness to join a general strike calling for Gorbachev's ouster. (Elizabeth Teague) FORTHCOMING RETAIL PRICE INCREASES. Goskomtsen First Deputy Chairman Anatolii Komin has already announced that "retail prices for the main mass of consumer goods and, above all, food will have to be raised considerably during the first half of 1991" (Pravda, January 2). Somewhat curiously, he later affirmed that: "...of course, our compatriots must know in advance about the price reform" (Pravda, January 30). RSFSR Premier Silayev has now indicated that "all social groups of the population" will be fully compensated for increases in the prices of main foodstuffs (Radio Moscow-1, 1630 GMT, February 8). And Sobchak spoke of an effective poverty level of 120 rubles a month: those earning less, he inferred, would be fully compensated for price increases (Radio Moscow-1, 1900 GMT, February 9). (Keith Bush) LATEST FIGURES ON BANKNOTE EXCHANGE. In two separate interviews on Central Television on February 9 (1800 and 1850 GMT), USSR Gosbank officials reported that 41.2 billion rubles' worth of the old 50- and 100-ruble notes had been taken in for exchange, leaving 7 billion rubles' worth to be effectively confiscated. They repeated that no exchange of 25- and 10-ruble notes and no freezing of savings deposits are contemplated. (Keith Bush) ALKSNIS DISMISSES POSSIBILITY OF ARMY COUP. Colonel Viktor Alksnis has denied that a military coup could happen in the Soviet Union. He told IAN on February 8 that a military coup along the lines of that in Portugal could not be staged in as large a country with such a big army as the Soviet Union. He dismissed the possibility of a conspiracy in the military leadership. According to Alksnis, there is no personality in the Army command who could take such a responsibility upon himself. He stated that true democracy must be achieved through a temporary period of presidential rule throughout the country, but Gorbachev is too weak to conduct it. (Alexander Rahr) USSR - IN THE REPUBLICS YELTSIN: KALININGRAD WILL REMAIN PART OF RSFSR. Boris Yeltsin says Kaliningrad Oblast (formerly East Prussia, now an enclave between Lithuania and Poland) will remain within the Russian Republic. Visiting the regional capital, Svetlogorsk, on February 9, Yeltsin said "Kaliningrad Oblast is a Russian oblast--such it is and such it will remain." Yeltsin acknowledged that the region has acute ecological problems and backward social amenities, blaming this on the presence of large numbers of Soviet military units. Yeltsin returned to Moscow February 9. (Elizabeth Teague) RSFSR CP OFFICIALS CRITICIZE YELTSIN POLICIES. A seminar of gorkom and raikom secretaries from the regions of eastern Siberia was addressed February 8 by RSFSR Communist Party leader Ivan Polozkov. Radio Moscow reported that day that the seminar adopted a resolution condemned Boris Yeltsin's policies as "intensifying the destructive processes in the USSR." (Elizabeth Teague) DEMOCRATIC RUSSIA FORMS OWN PARTY STRUCTURES. The "Democratic Russia" movement has begun to establish its own organizational structures in workers' collectives. According to Kuranty of February 9, over the past two weeks more than 100 primary "Democratic Russia" organizations have been formed in enterprises and institutes in Moscow. Each primary organization has elected its working organ--a coordinating council. A vertical structure of "Democratic Russia" is also being created. Primary organizations will be subordinated to coordinating councils on regional, city and raion levels. Arkadii Murashov, co-founding member of "Democratic Russia," told the RFE-RL Research Institute that Boris Yeltsin and Anatolii Sobchak may soon become leaders of the movement. (Alexander Rahr) "DEMOCRATIC RUSSIA" SUGGESTS NATIONAL GUARD FORMATION. The Coordinating Council of "Democratic Russia" has issued a statement on the political situation in the country, published in Kuranty, February 8. It said the Kremlin intends to establish a dictatorship in the country before the March 17 referendum. The coordinating council called for the creation of a "national guard", subordinated to the Chairman of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet. "Democratic Russia" characterized its major tasks as supporting Boris Yeltsin and democrats in the RSFSR parliaments. (Alexander Rahr) YELTSIN AND THE GENERALS. Yeltsin said at a meeting of the Coordinating Council of "Democratic Russia" on January 18 that a group of ten generals had approached him and stressed the need for the creation of a separate Russian Army, Pavel Kudyukin, presidium member of the Social Democratic Party, disclosed in an interview with Kuranty on February 8. Kudyukin also said that Yeltsin is strongly supported by the "Leftist Center" group in the Russian parliament, headed by General Dmitrii Volkogonov and liberal-oriented officers of the Shchit parliamentary faction. (Alexander Rahr) SOCIAL DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS FORM JOINT LEADING BODY. The Social Democratic and Republican Parties of the Russian Federation have formed a joint political consultative council to direct the work of both parties. Its membership, published in Kuranty, February 8, consists of eight persons: USSR deputies A. Mizhurenko, A. Obolensky, S. Sulakshin, V. Shostakovsky; RSFSR deputies L. Volkov, V. Lysenko, O. Rumyantsev; and deputy of a Moscow raion soviet P. Kudyukin. (Alexander Rahr) MOSCOW DOCTORS THREATEN TO STRIKE FEBRUARY 14. Physicians in the Soviet capital are planning a one-day strike next Thursday (February 14) to back up their calls for more funds for health care. Radio Moscow said February 10 that 62% of the capital's medical facilities and pharmacies intend to take part in the strike, but emergency services will not be affected. (Elizabeth Teague) ALCOHOL PRICES TO RISE IN MOSCOW RESTAURANTS. The Moscow city soviet has increased the prices of alcohol in the city's restaurants by 200%, in an effort to raise funds for social services. Izvestia announced the rise on February 8, quoting a city soviet official as saying the extra income would be used "for the social protection of the underprivileged." According to a Reuter report the same day, the increase will not affect prices in state liquor shops, except for the price of beer. The latter will go up in both shops and restaurants. Izvestia said the price of a half-liter bottle of Zhigulovskoe beer will increase from 80 kopecks to 1.20 rubles. (Sallie Wise) ARMENIAN PAN-NATIONAL MOVEMENT CALLS FOR UNITED FRONT AGAINST CPSU. The council of the Armenian Pan-National Movement has issued an appeal to all republics seeking sovereignty to band together to combat the influence of the CPSU, Armenpress reports. The statement argues that communist pressure on the republics is so great that they must set aside their differences "for the sake of preserving our national identities and to secure our place in the family of free nations." Armenia's non-communist government ruled last November to ban the activities of all political groups in state institutions, organizations and educational establishments in order to curtail the influence of the Armenian CP. (Armenian BD/Liz Fuller) CALLS FOR PRESIDENTIAL RULE IN SOUTH OSSETIA. Pravda reported on February 9 that 700 primary Party organizations in the North Ossetian ASSR have called for the introduction of Presidential rule in South Ossetia, where the situation is said to have deteriorated over the previous 24 hours. Water and power supplies to the blockaded oblast capital of Tskhinvali have been cut off, hospitals are without heat, and the population is said to be "on the verge of starvation." 6,000 Ossetians have fled across the Caucasus through the snow to North Ossetia; some refugees have died in the attempt. (Liz Fuller) UZBEK AND KAZAKH GOVERNMENT DELEGATIONS MEET IN ALMA-ATA. The January 24 issue of Sotsialistik Qazaqstan reports that a delegation headed by Uzbek Vice-President Shukrulla Mirsaidov visited Alma-Ata for follow-up meetings to the summit of the five Central Asian republican leaders last June. The summit resulted in long-term economic and cultural exchange agreements among the five republics. The Uzbek delegation was received by Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbaev, who spoke of the importance of quickly transforming the present exchange of goods between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan into economic integration of the Central Asian republics. (Hasan Oraltay and Timur Kocaoglu) ORIENTAL STUDIES INSTITUTE TO BE OPENED IN UZBEKISTAN. A Tashkent journalist has informed RFE/RL that the Uzbek Cabinet of Ministers has approved the creation of an Institute of Oriental Studies Institute at Tashkent University, to study the Arabic, Persian, Afghan, Hindi, Urdu, Chinese, Anatolian Turkish, Japanese, and Korean languages and literatures. According to reports in the Uzbek press, Uzbekistan needs the institute because the republic is seeking to develop business relations and scientific and cultural cooperation with South-East Asian and Middle Eastern countries. (Timur Kocaoglu) FRUNZE REMAINS FRUNZE FOR TIME BEING. According to the Postfactum news agency, the presidium of Kyrgyzstan's Supreme Soviet has declared invalid the vote to change the name of the republic's capital from Frunze to Bishkek, DPA reported on February 9. Apparently an insufficient number of deputies was present to validate the vote. (Bess Brown) TAJIKISTAN PREPARES FOR REFERENDUM. TASS reported on February 8 that Tajikistan has begun preparations for the March 17 referendum on the continued existence of the USSR. The report says that most of the population of the republic is expected to vote for the union, because it is supported not only by the republic's government, but also by members of the Democratic Party and the Popular Front movement Rastokhez. But, TASS notes, the spectrum of opinion on what should be the political and economic foundations of the new union is very wide. Tajik president Kakhar Makhkamov commented in January that the absolute majority in Tajikistan supports the union, so the referendum is pointless (Literaturnaya gazeta, January 16). (Bess Brown) MOLDAVIAN RESERVATIONS TO UNION TREATY. Moldavia--along with the Baltic states and Georgia--is not attending the new round of talks, which began in Moscow February 8, between the center and the republics on the treaty of Union. On November 2, 1990, Moldavia had suspended its participation in treaty talks until such time as the center guarantees the republic's territorial integrity. Interviewed by the Hungarian daily Nepszabadsag February 8, Moldavian Prime Minister Mircea Druc said that Moldavia would not become involved in "renewing the union" since it was not a signatory to the original treaty and "the union was forced on us, it annexed us". Moldavia will make its own decision depending on the final shape of the treaty, Druc said. (Vladimir Socor). MOLDAVIANS RESIST REFERENDUM, CP AND NON-MOLDAVIANS BACK IT. The Moldavian Supreme Soviet persists in delaying any discussion on holding in Moldavia the referendum on preserving the USSR, Pravda and TASS reported February 7 and 8, respectively. The Moldavian Popular Front and two dozen other public organizations and political parties have in a joint statement urged a boycott of the proposed referendum, which they would accept only after Moldavia enacts its own laws on referendums, citizenship, and migration. Pravda and TASS said that the referendum is backed by the Moldavian Communist Party, the Russian deputies in the Moldavian Supreme Soviet, and the self-proclaimed Dniester SSR and Gagauz SSR. (Vladimir Socor). [as of 1300 CET] Compiled by Doug Clarke and Sallie Wise
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.