|It matters if you don't just give up. - Stephen Hawking|
No. 30, 12 February 1991
BALTIC STATES ICELAND'S PARLIAMENT RECOGNIZES LITHUANIA AS AN INDEPENDENT STATE. On February 11 the world's oldest parliament, Iceland's Althing, voted 41 to 1 with 2 abstentions and 17 members being absent to recognize Lithuania as an independent state, and instructed the government to set up diplomatic ties as soon as possible, Reuter reported on February 12. Foreign Minister Jon Baldvin Hannibalson said that the vote was "the first decisive step towards establishing ties with Lithuania since the Baltic republic declared its independence." He told Reuter that he would explain the decision to the Nordic Council and NATO, hoping that they would also recognize Lithuania. (Saulius Girnius) LITHUANIAN NATIONAL SALVATION COMMITTEE: AN OPEN SECRET. A MVD major on guard at the Vilnius TV tower revealed to a group of Moscow journalists the identities of the leaders of the mysterious Lithuanian "National Salvation Committee," writes V. Zarovsky in Komsomol'skaya pravda February 7. The officer told the journalists that they needed permission from the National Salvation Committee--namely, from either Mykolas Burokevicius (first secretary of the Lithuanian Communist Party), or a certain Subbotin--to get inside the tower. The leadership of the Lithuanian CP has always denied membership in the National Salvation Committee. (Julia Wishnevsky) SECRET CPSU MEMO ON LITHUANIA PREPARED WELL IN ADVANCE. Nezavisimaya gazeta on January 29 published a secret memorandum detailing the CPSU leadership's plans for Lithuania, signed by CP Secretary Oleg Shenin and dated August 29, 1990, i.e, before Gorbachev's recent "swing to the right." The 7th paragraph of Shenin's instruction reads: "The State and Legal Department of the CPSU Central Committee, through communists who are administrators of the country's law-enforcement bodies, is to organize work to institute criminal or administrative proceedings against the leaders of various nationalist and anti-Soviet public formations...." (Julia Wishnevsky) OFFICIAL POLL RESULTS. Moscow Radio on February 11 reported the official results of the February 9 poll in Lithuania asking whether Lithuania should be an independent, democratic republic. 2,247,810 of the 2,652,738 eligible voters participated, with 2,028,339 voting "yes", 147,040 voting "no" and 72,431 being declared invalid. (Saulius Girnius) LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT ON FEBRUARY 11. Radio Kaunas broadcast parts of the parliament sessions live. Deputy Chairman Bronius Kuzmickas reported on his visits to Scandinavia, the US, Canada, and Austria in January and February. Later the parliament voted 116 to 0, with Russian Sergei Piroshkov abstaining, that the phrase of the February 9 opinion poll "the state of Lithuania is an independent democratic republic" be made the first article of the Lithuanian Constitution. It also passed a resolution calling on states that had recognized Lithuania before its Soviet occupation in 1940 to take note of the poll and restore their formal diplomatic ties with the republic. It called on the CSCE to hold a special international conference on the restoration of international rights to the Baltic republics. (Saulius Girnius) US CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION ARRIVES IN RIGA. Radio Riga reported on February 12 that a US Congressional delegation, led by Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland), arrived in Riga the day before. Today (February 12) they took part in a Latvian Supreme Council session where Council Chairman Anatolijs Gorbunovs told the American lawmakers that he saw their visit as an expression of solidarity with Baltic aspirations for independence. He pointed out that a key aspect of US-Baltic relations is the fact Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are occupied territories and that the Baltic question must, therefore, be resolved internationally at the conference table. (Dzintra Bungs) FIVE BLACK BERETS VICTIMS RELEASED TEMPORARILY. The 5 volunteer guards, seized and beaten up by the Black Berets on January 20 and subsequently held on orders of the Latvian SSR Procuracy in KGB headquarters in Riga and later in Belorussia, have been returned to Riga. Radio Riga reported on February 10 that, in reaction to widespread public protest, the procuracy ordered the men to be returned to Latvia and to be released for one week under their own recognizance. This does not mean that the unclear criminal charges, including illegal possession of weapons, have been dropped. Thus, their future continues to be uncertain. (Dzintra Bungs) SAVISAAR: CRITICAL TIMES STILL AHEAD. Estonian Prime Minister Edgar Savisaar told Der Spiegel of February 11 that Moscow can still be expected to exert great pressure on Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania to adopt the new USSR Union treaty on March 17, and that, therefore, the situation there is likely to continue to be critical. Savisaar spoke of Moscow's failed plan to reassert its authority in the Baltics on January 15 and of the possibility of another offensive "to break the will of the Balts." Savisaar said that one of the reasons why Estonia has decided to hold a poll on its future is to show the world that Estonia does not want to remain a part of the USSR. (Dzintra Bungs) USSR - ALL-UNION TOPICS "GORBACHEV'S DECREES UNCONSTITUTIONAL," SAYS LEADING JURIST. Vladimir Kudryavtsev, Vice President of the USSR Academy of Sciences and director of its Institute of State and Law, wrote in Izvestia (February 5) that at least two of Gorbachev's recent decrees are anti-Constitutional. It is illegal, Kudryavtsev said, for the Army and the USSR MVD to organize joint patrols on the streets of Soviet cities without permission from local soviets. Similarly, contrary to the provisions of another Gorbachev decree, MVD and KGB officers can search businesses only after filing criminal charges against the suspect and in the presence of at least two independent witnesses, Kudryavtsev argued. (Julia Wishnevsky) KRAVCHENKO COMMENTS ON GORBACHEV'S DECREE. Leonid Kravchenko, now head of the new TV and radio company which replaced Gosteleradio, gave a press conference in Moscow on February 11. AP and Reuter quoted Kravchenko as saying that, as a result of the change, he will be subordinate only to Gorbachev. (Previously Kravchenko's nomination had to be approved by the USSR Supreme Soviet.) In reporting on the press conference, TASS omitted this comment by Kravchenko. During the press conference, Kravchenko also rejected the plan of transferring some TV and radio equipment belonging to the former Gosteleradio to the newly created RSFSR TV and Radio system. (Vera Tolz) KRAVCHENKO ON RIGHTS OF REPUBLICAN TV AND RADIO. At the same press conference, Kravchenko suggested that the creation of a new company instead of Gosteleradio will broaden the rights of republican TV and Radio organizations. According to Kravchenko, from now on republican organizations are "absolutely free" and will be able to cooperate within the framework of the all-Union council for TV and radio. The new company will not attempt to establish control over TV and radio equipment belonging to republican organizations, Kravchenko said. Asked specifically about the TV center in Vilnius, still occupied by the military, he said the center belongs to Lithuania, since its creation was financed from the republican, not the all-union, budget, TASS reported February 11. (Vera Tolz) PRIMAKOV IN TEHERAN, BAGHDAD. On his way to Baghdad, Evgenii Primakov, Gorbachev's special envoy, stopped in Teheran for talks with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Maleki on February 11. AFP quoted Primakov as saying "we want our diplomatic efforts to be in line and in coordination with Iranian efforts." Iran said yesterday "if any Moslem country is attacked by Israel we cannot remain indifferent," Reuter reported February 12. Soviet Foreign Ministry Spokesman Vitalii Churkin warned yesterday against any expectations from the Primakov mission, saying Moscow had no indication that Iraq would change its position, TASS reported. (Suzanne Crow) PRIMAKOV VERSUS THE FOREIGN MINISTRY? By dispatching Evgenii Primakov to Baghdad, Gorbachev seems again to be bypassing the Soviet foreign ministry in dealing with Iraq. Gorbachev passed over then-Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze last fall and sent Primakov on two special missions to Iraq. AFP wrote on February 11 that an official close to Shevardnadze claimed he threatened to resign over Gorbachev's selection of Primakov, who has no diplomatic background and a conservative outlook in foreign affairs. The foreign ministry continues to take a dim view of Primakov's involvement in the Gulf crisis. According to a February 11 AFP report, an unidentified Soviet foreign ministry official cast doubt on the utility of Primakov's mission, saying it "does not appear sufficiently well grounded." (Suzanne Crow) USSR PROVIDED US WITH PRIMAKOV ITINERARY. The New York Times reported February 12 the Soviet embassy in Washington provided American officials "in recent days" with a general itinerary for Evgenii Primakov's trip to Baghdad. Primakov flew first to Teheran and then travelled by car to Baghdad. The information was passed on to the Pentagon and then to the US command in Saudi Arabia. An unidentified US official said he was unaware of any special precautions taken to protect Primakov from the allied military effort. (Suzanne Crow) DUMAS IN MOSCOW. French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas is scheduled to meet today (February 12) in Moscow with Gorbachev, as well as with his Soviet counterpart, Aleksandr Bessmertnykh, and Soviet Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov, AFP and TASS report. His talks with Soviet officials are expected to focus on the Gulf war and on Franco-Soviet relations. Foreign Ministry spokesman Churkin said at a press briefing on February 11 that "consultations with France will enable the two sides to understand better the situation in the Gulf and chances to achieve the earliest possible settlement in compliance with the well-known UN Security Council resolutions." Dumas is also to pay a call on Eduard Shevardnadze during his stay in Moscow. (Sallie Wise) PUBLICATION OF GORBACHEV'S SPEECHES DRASTICALLY REDUCED. The publication of speeches by President Gorbachev has been drastically reduced, a spokesman for the Politizdat publishing house told Radio Moscow-2 on February 11. Reportedly not a single booklet by Gorbachev has been printed in the first two months of 1991. The spokesman described this situation as "quite unusual." The reason for this situation is the lack of readers' demand for Gorbachev's works, along with the increase in the price of paper. Nevertheless, Politizdat will go on with the publication of a multi-volume edition of selected speeches and articles by Gorbachev that was initiated several years ago, the spokesman said. (Vera Tolz) USSR - IN THE REPUBLICS FORMER RSFSR FINANCE MINISTER TO WORK FOR EBRD. Boris Fedorov, who resigned as Russian finance minister last year, has been recruited by the newly created European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in London, the Financial Times reported on February 12. Fedorov gave up his job to protest what he viewed as Boris Yeltsin's unprofessional economic policy. He will now head a department at the EBRD, which is being set up by 40 nations together with the European Commission and the European Investment Bank to support the transition to market economies in Eastern Europe. (Alexander Rahr) AN ANCIENT SECT LEAVES RUSSIA. Moskovskie novosti No. 4 devoted its last page to the story of the Russian sect Subbotniki (Iudeistvuyushchie), who live in the village Ilyinka on the border of Voronezh oblast with Ukraine. The sect originated at the end of the 17th century in Russia. The persecution of Subbotniki which began in Tsarist Russia continued under the Soviet regime. Now the last members of the sect have decided to leave for Israel. MN's correspondent who visited Ilyinka regrets this decision as a loss for the spiritual climate of the country. (Oxana Antic) ARMENIA, AZERBAIJAN ABSENT FROM UNION TREATY DISCUSSIONS. Neither Armenia nor Azerbaijan sent delegations to the Union treaty discussions held February 11 in a villa outside Moscow and due to continue all this week, TASS reported February 11. Unlike the three Baltic republics, Georgia, and Moldavia, who also failed to send delegations, both Armenia and Azerbaijan were represented at the meeting on February 8. No reason was given for their absence yesterday. The remaining eight republics discussed in particular questions of property. (Ann Sheehy) OPINION POLL ON POLITICAL ATTITUDES IN TATARSTAN. The results of a public opinion poll on political attitudes in Tatarstan taken last December and reported in Komsomol'akaya pravda of February 7 show a cleavage along educational as well as nationality lines. 70% of the Russian population favor the republic remaining in the RSFSR, while 46% of Tatars want it to be a union republic and 24% an independent state. 21.5% of those with higher education, 23% of the inhabitants of Kazan', and 26% of Russians consider that, if supporters of the national idea win out in the republic, the Russians (at present 45% of the population) will have to leave. (Ann Sheehy) PROTEST ACTION BY SOVIET TROOPS IN NKAO? A joint TASS- AzerINFORM dispatch of February 11 cites General Yu. Yeremeyev, chief of the headquarters of the Baku garrison, as refuting a Postfaktum report that on the night of February 8-9 some 150 servicemen stationed in Stepanakert marched along the town's Lenin boulevard shouting "Send us home" and "Down with the Azerbaijani OMON". Azerbaijani OMON troops have been implicated by the Armenian media in numerous acts of gratuitous brutality towards the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh. (Liz Fuller) KRAVCHENKO ELUCIDATES MEDIA POLICY ON NAGORNO-KARABAKH. At his news conference yesterday Soviet broadcasting head Leonid Kravchenko confirmed that the Soviet media had deliberately distorted coverage of the ongoing inter-ethnic clashes in Nagorno-Karabakh to give the impression that casualties on both sides were more or less equal. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan have accused the Soviet media of lacking objectivity in reporting the NKAO situation. (Liz Fuller) NAZARBAEV ON PRESERVATION OF UNION. TASS reported on February 11 that a special session of the Kazakhstan Supreme Soviet has adopted an appeal for dialogue among those republics that want to preserve the Union. Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbaev read out the appeal to the deputies, arguing that the political and economic interests of Kazakhstan require preservation of the union and warning that disintegration of the USSR will lead to the economic collapse of the country and a worsening of living conditions for millions. The appeal warns against transforming contradictions between the republics and Moscow into a "war of laws," against the creation of a "parallel center," and against current efforts of central authorities to ignore republican sovereignty. (Bess Brown) DEMOCRATIC KYRGYZSTAN HOLDS CONGRESS. The Democratic Kyrgyzstan movement ended its first congress in Frunze/Bishkek on February 10, according to a TASS report of February 11. Six hundred delegates attended the congress, at which the group's co-chairman Kazat Akhmatov, a member of the Kirgiz presidential council, said that Kyrgyzstan should join the group of four republics (RSFSR, Ukraine, Belorussia and Kazakhstan) that are discussing cooperation among themselves to avoid the dictates of the center. The congress set up organizational structures, including a council with three co-chairmen, and elected an editor of the movement's newspaper, Maidan. (Bess Brown) POPULARITY RATING OF KIRGIZ POLITICAL FIGURES. Some 4,000 people in four towns and eight rural raions of Kyrgyzstan have been asked to name the most popular political figure in the republic. According to a TASS report of February 11, republican President Askar Akaev received the highest rating for his action program. In second place was Minister of Internal Affairs Feliks Kulov, who succeeded in keeping the peace in Frunze during violence in Osh oblast last summer without resorting to force. (Bess Brown) DAY OF REMEMBRANCE IN TAJIKISTAN. February 12 has been declared a Day of Remembrance in Tajikistan to commemorate those who died in the violence in Dushanbe, which began with demonstrations on February 12, 1990. Izvestia reported that the proclamation was issued by president Kakhar Makhkamov, whose resignation was demanded by demonstrators during the disturbances. The state of emergency imposed in February 1990 remains in effect, although the curfew was lifted on January 1. (NCA/Bess Brown) TURKMEN PRIME MINISTER OBJECTS TO OIL REPORT. Turkmenistan's prime minister Khan Akhmedov has objected to a press report that the republic's oil and gas wells are to be leased to foreign firms, according to a TASS report of February 11, quoting Izvestia. Akhmedov said that the auction in Houston, which he insisted was organized by the republican government along with the USSR Ministry of Geology, is offering the rights to prospect for petroleum and gas to private bidders. Joint ownership will be arranged with the winners of the leases. Turkmenistan will retain firm control of its natural resources, as specified in its declaration of sovereignty. (Bess Brown) UKRAINIAN CURRENCY WILL BE BASED ON OWN GOLD RESERVES. Ukrainian Supreme Soviet Chairman Leonid Kravchuk has confirmed earlier reports that, in order to introduce its own currency, Ukraine will mine its own gold, deposits of which exist in the Dnepropetrovsk and Zakarpatia regions. Radio Kiev on February 11 reported Kravchuk's remarks that day at a press-conference in Kiev. Kravchuk cautioned, however, that in his conversations with foreign businessmen, he realized that economic and political stability, as well as legal property guarantees, will be much more important than gold in attracting foreign investors. (Valentyn Moroz) RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN TRADE DETERIORATES DESPITE AGREEMENT. Speaking after the Russian-Ukrainian cooperation conference in Donetsk, Russian Supsov Deputy Chairman Boris Isaev said that, despite the existing cooperation agreement, inter-republican trade continues to decline, reported Ukrinform/ TASS on February 11. Ukraine is lagging in delivery of its television sets, buses, and machine-building equipment, while Russia is behind with deliveries of oil, petroleum products, and lumber. Barter trade, noted other participants, not only makes the currency worth less but causes chaos in economic relations as well. They said that it seems appropriate to establish an inter-republican trade coordinating body. (Valentyn Moroz) MOLDAVIAN PRESIDENT IN ROMANIA. Moldavian President Mircea Snegur began an official visit to Romania--his first--on February 11 with a first round of talks with Romanian President Ion Iliescu. No details are available as yet. (Vladimir Socor) MOLDAVIAN GROUPS HOLD ROUND TABLE. The Moldavian Popular Front and allied groups held talks for the first time with the pro-Moscow Joint Council of Work Collectives and other Russian groups in Tiraspol, capital of the self-proclaimed Dniester SSR. TASS reported February 11 that the two sides disagreed over the proposed treaty of Union, with the Moldavians declaring support for the position of the republican leadership opposing the treaty and most of the Russian groups demanding that Moldavia sign the treaty without delay in its present form. Despite the disagreement, the sides pledged to continue the discussions. There was no mention of the Moldavian CP being involved in the round table. (Vladimir Socor) RUSSIAN DEMOCRATIC GROUP FORMED IN MOLDAVIA. Demokraticheskaya Moldaviya, a "social-political movement" of Russian-speaking residents of Moldavia, has been established in Kishinev, Moldovapres and Radio Moscow reported February 9 and 11, respectively. Its program calls for "eliminating the consequences of the communist regime" and a "return to authentic democracy," observance of Moldavian laws, and support for the revival of the Moldavian language as a state language. Decrying the "negative effects of Moldavia remaining part of the USSR", Demokraticheskaya Moldaviya declared that the "Romanian population of the republic can find the guarantees for its national development only in the framework of a unified Romanian state". (Vladimir Socor) [as of 1230 CET] Compiled by Doug Clarke and Sallie Wise
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