|When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain|
No. 32, 14 February 1991
BALTIC STATES PRAVDA: US AID TO BALTICS VIOLATES SOVEREIGNTY. Pravda today (February 14) denounced US direct aid to the Baltic States as a violation of Soviet sovereignty and a sign of disregard for the importance of a unified Soviet Union. A Reuter summary quoted the article as saying "it is clear Washington has crossed its own Rubicon, beyond which, it seems, one can expect new difficulties in Soviet-American relations." (Sallie Wise) US CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION IN VILNIUS. Radio Kaunas on February 14 reported that a US Congressional delegation visited Vilnius on February 13. They met with Lithuanian President Vytautas Landsbergis and Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius and other officials. DPA reported on February 13 that Senator Alfonse D'Amato (R-New York) told reporters in Vilnius that the Baltic situation will become the world's primary problem once the Gulf war is finished. He also said that US-Soviet relations will depend largely on future political developments in the Baltics. (Saulius Girnius) LITHUANIAN-CZECHOSLOVAK RELATIONS. CTK on February 13 reported that Lithuanian parliamentarian Czeslaw Okinczyc met Czechoslovak President Vaclav Havel that day and handed him a letter from President Landsbergis. Havel was reported to have praised Lithuania's opinion poll as a sincere expression of the desire for independence that had increased pressure on Moscow to hold a real dialogue with Lithuania and should bring progress towards independence. CTK also reported that day that Foreign Ministry spokesman Egon Lansky had said that the results of the opinion poll did not change his country's relations with Lithuania. Czechoslovakia respects the legitimate rights of Lithuania to independence, but with regard to international norms of recognition still considers Lithuania as part of the USSR. (Saulius Girnius) MORE INFORMATION ABOUT DETENTION OF "SHIELD" INVESTIGATORS. On February 14 Radio Kaunas reported on a press briefing that morning at the Lithuanian parliament. Government driver Kestutis Balciunas who was detained on February 12 with "Shield" investigators Colonel Ivan Bichkov, Captains Aleksandr Evstigneev and Gennadii Melkov said that the automobile with the four detainees had been escorted by armed military vehicles. The detainees were questioned separately and Balciunas was told when he was released at 11:00 A.M. on February 13 that he should not go to work, but go home. Parliament spokesman Audrius Azubalis said he had no accurate information about the fate of the three detainees. Radio Kaunas on February 13 reported on a press conference at parliament at which the other two members of the "Shield" delegation, Colonel Sergei Gudinov and Major Nikolai Moskovchenko, said that the detention of the three officers was a provocation and the allegations that they had weapons and drugs were "absurd." (Saulius Girnius) FREEDOM FOR LITHUANIA--AT A PRICE? The RL Russian Service's evening news show "In the Country and the World" was informed by a Moscow correspondent that Sovetskaya Rossiya February 13 published an article in which a certain Gelbakh recommended that Lithuania should be allowed to leave the USSR as long as it relinquished Vilnius and Klaipeda. (Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital, was under Polish rule in the interwar period. Klaipeda, formerly Memel, is one of the USSR's few warm-water ports; until the First World War, it was under Prussian rule.) (Savik Shuster) NEVZOROV SPILLS THE BEANS. "In the Country and the World" received a report February 13 from Algimantas Zhukas, chief political editor of the Lithuanian daily Respublika. Regarding the explosion that occurred outside Communist Party headquarters in downtown Riga at 10:05 P.M. Riga time on February 12, Zhukas said news of the blast was broadcast on Leningrad television that night by journalist Aleksandr Nevzorov in his "600 Seconds" show directly following the evening news program "Vremya," i.e., at about 9:50 P.M. Leningrad time. That is, Nevzorov made his announcement at around 8:50 P.M. Riga time, over one hour before the explosion actually took place. Radio Riga aired the story on February 14, noting that Respublika carried the story in that day's issue. (Savik Shuster) LATVIAN DEPUTIES INVITED TO DANISH PARLIAMENT. Hans Peter Klaussen, president of Denmark's Folketing, told the Latvian Supreme Council on February 13 that his country "recognized OBtvia as an independent state back in 1921 and has not changed its attitude since," reported Radio Riga that day. Klaussen, who heads a Danish parliamentary delegation viBiting the Baltics, told the press that they had come to "show solidarity with Baltic independence aspirations and assBss the situation." He invited Latvian deputies to visit the Folketing in the very near future. (Dzintra Bungs) RSFSB TO OPEN A DIPLOMATIC OFFICE IN RIGA. Radio Riga reported on February 12 that Russia has drawn up definite plans to open an office for its diplomatic representative in Latvia. No date was given when the office in Lacplesa Street in RBga would start to function. The RSFSR already accredited Janis Lovniks on January 25 as diplomatic represBntative from Latvia. (Dzintra Bungs) INTERFRONT LEADER CLAIMS ORGANIZATION HAS NO ARMED GUARDS. In an interview with Radio Riga on February 12, Interfront leader Anatolii Alekseev did not confirm or deny the allegation by Mikhail Lysenko, leader of the Estonian Intermovement's armed militia wing, that armed units from the Baltics, Ukraine, and the RSFSR had helped "maintain order" during the elections in Tiraspol (Rahva Haal, February 10; see Daily Report of February 11). Alekseev did indicate, however, that his organization did not have any armed guards. At the same time he accused the Volunteer Guard Units in Latvia Bf being armed--a claim that was flatly denied by the Latvian authorities via Radio Riga on February 12. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIAN PENSIONERS FINALLY GET THEIR SAVINGS PAID OUT. On February 14 and 15 banks will honor the receipts given to pensioners in Latvia when they deposited their 50 and 100 ruble bills (many of them kept their savings at home) in January as a consequence of the USSR monterary reform. Radio Riga reported on February 14 that the banks in Latvia had received sufficient cash from Moscow to make these payments possible. Bank officials also said that they hoped to have sufficient money on hand for payment in cash of February's salaries of the republican labor force. (Dzintra Bungs) ESTONIANBMAYOR VISITS UNITED STATES. An RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported on February 13 that Tallinn's mayor Hardo Aasmae is in the United States for a visit. On February 12 he met with Baltic affairs specialists in the US State Department. The visit was sponsored by the International Institute for Education. (Dzintra Bungs) SOVIET GENERAL DEMANDS FEE FOR INTERVIEW. General Anatolii Vodopyanov, Deputy Chief of the Baltic Military District's Political Department, refused to answer reporters' questions concerning military exercises in the region without remuneration. According to Diena of February 13, General Vodopyanov said that he would not give any interviews unless he was paid a fee. He added: "In the West, you get good money for such interviews." Vodopyanov did not say what he considered an appropriate fee. (Dzintra Bungs) USSR - ALL-UNION TOPICS PRIMAKOV SEES HOPE. Gorbachev's personal envoy Evgenii Primakov held a news conference upon his return to Moscow from Iraq (via Teheran) on February 13 saying, "there are rays of light which enable us to think more optimistically," TASS reported. "Our position remains adamant," Primakov said; "that was the topic of discussion in Baghdad." "We insist on Iraq's withdrawal from Kuwait, and that must be guaranteed." "We are against this war, and we're doing everything so that it will be stopped," Primakov said. (Suzanne Crow) PRIMAKOV CANCELS JAPAN TRIP? Reuter reported January 14 that Primakov cancelled his trip to Japan, scheduled to start today (February 14). DPA, however, says Primakov will go to Japan one day later than planned. Primakov will meet with Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu and Foreign Minister Taro Nakayama tomorrow (February 15), DPA reported today. (Suzanne Crow) KUWAITI DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER MEETS GORBACHEV. Soviet President Gorbachev told reporters, "the time is such that we have something to discuss," upon greeting visiting Kuwaiti Deputy Foreign Minister Sabah Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah today (February 14). Foreign Minister Aleksandr Bessmertnykh is also attending the meeting. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Vitalii Churkin said Bessmertnykh had earlier briefed the Kuwaiti official on talks between Primakov and Saddam Hussein, as well as on the planned visit of Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz. The Kuwaiti official is expected to have a private meeting with former Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze. AFP's report from today cited TASS information. (Suzanne Crow) IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTER TO MOSCOW. As a result of the Primakov mission to Baghdad, Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz will travel to Moscow on February 17 and possibly meet with Gorbachev on February 18, TASS said February 13. (Suzanne Crow) SOVIET MEDIATION BETWEEN IRAQ AND KUWAIT? Soviet Foreign Ministry Spokesman Vitalii Churkin said at a February 13 briefing that "no one has laid the function of mediator" on the USSR and the USSR did not ask for that authority. However, Churkin continued, "we are trying to do...everything possible...to end the bloodshed as soon as possible and fulfill the UN Security Council resolutions." Churkin said the USSR is acting with cognizance of its "role as a great power and a permanent member of the UN Security Council." (Suzanne Crow) POLITICAL OFFICERS DENOUNCE GULF WAR. Top ranking political officers representing the Soviet armed forces and KGB border troops condemned the allied war effort against Iraq at a news conference on February 13, Reuter reported. The generals said that the real goal of the war was the extermination of civilians and the destruction of Moscow's former ally. The Deputy Head of the Armed Forces Political Administration, Lt. General Alexander Ovchinnikov, compared the suffering of Iraqi civilians to that of Soviet servicemen in the Baltic. (Stephen Foye) GENERALS AFFIRM PARTY CONTROL. At the same press conference, the generals also emphasized that the Communist Party continues to dominate the armed forces, according to TASS and Reuter reports. General Boris Golishev of the KGB Border Troops' Political Department said, "a wise state will never reject an institution that protects its interests and the people." The generals noted that all general officers are Party members, as are at least 90% of the staff of the military political organs. They said that 37,000 primary Party organizations exist in the armed forces, and that those servicemen joining the Party exceeded by 19% those leaving; Party membership, they said, grew by 3.7% in 1990. (Stephen Foye) CPSU FIGHTING TO REGAIN POSITIONS. A major roundtable discussion on the need to build a social democratic platform inside the CPSU appeared in Literaturnaya gazeta on January 30. Taking part were Fedor Burlatsky, Sergei Alekseev, and Stanislav Shatalin, all of whom remain within the Party because they see no possibility at present of constructing an independent alternative outside it. Burlatsky said that 40% of the Party's 16.9 million members have either stopped paying their Party dues or ceased playing an active role in Party activities. Shatalin pointed to the way in which the CPSU is trying to claw back positions lost over the past five years. "Look at obituaries," he said. "The general secretary heads the list of signatories; then comes Yanaev, Ivashko is third, Pavlov fourth, Lukyanov fifth, and then all the Politburo and Secretariat." Everybody else brings up the rear. (Elizabeth Teague) RYZHKOV OUTMANEUVERED BY GORBACHEV. Gorbachev's decision to replace the USSR Council of Ministers with a Cabinet of Ministers came as a complete surprise to former Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzhkov. In an interview with Argumenty i fakty (no 1), Ryzhkov's wife, Ludmila, recalled that in the beginning of November, Gorbachev asked Ryzhkov to draw up a new scheme for the Council of Ministers which should have been implemented after the signing of the new Union Treaty. But on November 17, Gorbachev suddenly changed his mind in a speech to the Supreme Soviet and proposed replacing the Council of Ministers with the Cabinet of Ministers, in which the role of the Prime Minister was sharply diminished. (Alexander Rahr) GROMOV NUMBER ONE IN THE MVD? Former USSR prosecutor Nikolai Ivanov (of the Gdlyan/Ivanov affair) told the weekly Rossiya (no. 4) that the first deputy interior minister, General Boris Gromov, is de facto chief of the MVD. He identified Gromov as a Gorbachev man. According to Ivanov, the present interior minister Boris Pugo was first groomed to become KGB chief but his candidacy was later rejected because he was too closely tied to the old Party establishment. In the interview Ivanov also advocated the formation of separate RSFSR interior forces to strengthen Russian sovereignty. (Alexander Rahr) GORBACHEV SAID TO SIGN DECREE ON FOREIGN INVESTMENT. The RL Russian Service's evening news show "In the Country and the World" reported February 12 that a new presidential decree on foreign investment in the Soviet economy "and on the flow of foreign currency into and out of the USSR" was signed by Mikhail Gorbachev February 5. RL was informed by Dmitrii Vasil'ev, deputy editor of Kommersant, that he had seen a copy of the as yet unpublished decree at the USSR Ministry of Finance. Further details are not yet available. (Savik Shuster) USSR - IN THE REPUBLICS ANOTHER YELTSIN AIDE RESIGNS. RSFSR Deputy Prime Minister Gennadii Filshin has resigned due to pressure from conservative forces, Radio Rossiya reported on February 13. He was accused of involvement in a deal with a British-based trading company which the Soviet state bank has declared illegal. In his resignation letter, Filshin denied any wrongdoing and accused the KGB and old-style Party officials of working to discredit the democratic RSFSR leadership. He said that his resignation should be understood as a "protest" against an "anti-democratic campaign of provocation." Filshin is the third Yeltsin aide, after Gregorii Yavlinsky and Boris Fedorov, to resign in the past three months. (Alexander Rahr) RSFSR KGB TO BE FORMED SOON. A RSFSR Supreme Soviet Committee on Security has been set up with RSFSR deputy Sergei Stepashin heading it. Stepashin was interviewed on the Soviet second TV channel on February 12. The major task of the new legislative organ is, according to Stepashin, the creation of an executive body for republican security issues--a Russian KGB. Stepashin said that his committee will work out a transfer of those structures of the all-Union KGB which are situated upon the territory of the RSFSR to Boris Yeltsin's republican leadership. He noted that the concept of a Russian KGB will be based on protecting individual rights, not these of the state, adding that a law on state security will be adopted in the RSFSR legislature. (Alexander Rahr) YELTSIN URGED TO INTERVENE IN SOUTH OSSETIA. The chairman of the North Ossetian ASSR Council of Ministers, Sergei Khetagurov, has called on RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin to intervene to halt inter-ethnic violence in the South Ossetian AO, where the situation remains "extremely tense," TASS reported on February 13. Yeltsin is to visit the North Caucasus beginning February 26. TASS further reported that on February 12 USSR Interior Ministry forces intercepted and forced down a helicopter flying a mission for the Georgian MVD that was transporting quantities of arms. On February 12 the Georgian parliament extended for a further month the state of emergency in Tskhinvali. (Liz Fuller) GAMSAKHURDIA, PATRIKEEV WARN AGAINST ANTI-MILITARY PROTESTS. In separate statements carried by Krasnaya zvezda and Radio Tbilisi on February 13, Georgian Supreme Soviet chairman Zviad Gamsakhurdia and the Commander of the Transcaucasus Military District, Colonel-General Valerii Patrikeev, have condemned plans by Georgia's unofficial National Congress for a mass protest action against the presence of Soviet troops in Georgia planned for Soviet Army Day (February 23). Patrikeev described the planned protest as "either an act of provocation or sheer political puerility" and warned that "in the present extremely complicated situation in Georgia there is little hope of avoiding unforeseen circumstances during a protest action of this kind." (Liz Fuller) NAME CHANGE OF FRUNZE IS FINAL. The change of the name of Kyrgyzstan's capital from Frunze to Bishkek went into effect on February 5 and is absolutely final, according to republican Supreme Soviet chairman Medetkan Sherimkulov, who told KirTAG that information to the contrary was the result of a misunderstanding. DPA, quoting Postfactum, reported that the Supreme Soviet presidium had determined that a quorum of deputies was not present when the vote was taken. A Bishkek journalist told RFE/RL that Kirgiz newspapers are using the new name of the city. Izvestia also uses the dateline "Bishkek." (NCA/Bess Brown) KAZAKHSTAN'S SUPREME SOVIET TAKES FOOD SUPPLY MEASURES. Radio Moscow, quoting the semi-independent Aziyapress agency, reported on February 13 that the current session of Kazakhstan's Supreme Soviet has passed a law on priority development of rural villages and the agro-industrial complex. The measure is described as being part of an effort to improve food supplies in the republic, which are reaching a stage of crisis, despite having been given priority in economic plans since the beginning of 1987. Shortcomings in the supply of food to consumers was officially acknowledged to have been a major contributing factor in the riots in Alma-Ata in December, 1986. (Bess Brown) SIMILAR FACTORS UNDERLIE FERGANA VALLEY VIOLENCE. Soyuz no. 4 carries an article by special correspondent Marat Abdullaev comparing the outbreaks of violence in Uzbekistan's part of the Fergana Valley in 1989 and in Osh oblast, Kyrgyzstan's share of the valley, in 1990. The most notable similarity between the two events, according to Abdullaev, was the attackers' perception that the nationality attacked enjoyed advantages that gave them a more favorable economic situation. Uzbek residents of the Fergana Valley explained the 1989 attacks on Meskhetian Turks by saying that the Meskhetians were primarily employed in trade and service organizations, and therefore lived better. Kirgiz said the same thing about Uzbek domination of trade and services in Osh. (Bess Brown) ENERGY SHORTAGES EXPECTED IN UKRAINE. Ukrinform/Tass reported on February 13 that, due to the closure of three (possibly the last) of the Chernobyl blocs by 1995, an energy shortage is expected in Ukraine. According to Prime Minister V. Fokin, the republic can produce only 30% of its energy. Under public pressure the government adopted a moratorium on the further development of nuclear power. It now expects to stop energy exports and develop a shortage by 1994. Alternative energy sources are being considered, among them steam-gas, solar, and wind generators. Domestic models of steam-gas generators are being developed while the government is looking into buying them in Italy. (Valentyn Moroz) MOLDAVIAN PRESIDENT IN ROMANIA. Moldavian President Mircea Snegur, who began an official visit to Romania February 11, left Bucharest February 13 for a tour of Romania's rump province of Moldavia (the western part of the historic principality, whose eastern part is today's Soviet Moldavia). Before leaving Bucharest, Snegur met with Teoctist, the Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church. Meanwhile in Kishinev, the Moldavian Communist Party First Secretary Grigore Eremei cautioned at a press conference that Moldavian-Romanian cooperation "must not be turned into interference into Moldavia's internal affairs," Moldovapres and Rompres reported on February 12 and 13, respectively. (Vladimir Socor). ROMANIANS IN NORTH BUKOVINA OBTAIN SMALL CULTURAL GAINS. For the first time since the Soviet annexation of North Bukovina from Romania, Romanians there have obtained authorization to set up a society for Romanian religious culture and a Romanian lyceum. The society, named after the 19th century Romanian Metropolitan Sylvester, seeks to promote the use of the Romanian language in the local Orthodox Church, reopen churches closed by the Soviet authorities, proselytize youth in the Romanian language, and set up a seminary for training Romanian priests, Rompres reported February 9. The lyceum, located in a Romanian village near the oblast's capital Chernovtsy, is receiving teaching staff and other aid from Soviet Moldavia and from Romania, Radio Kiev reported February 4. (Vladimir Socor). [as of 1300 CET] Compiled by Doug Clarke and Sallie Wise
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