|When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain|
No. 35, 19 February 1991
BALTIC BALTIC STATES ANOTHER LITHUANIAN DIES OF WOUNDS FROM JANUARY ASSAULT. On February 18 Baltfax quoted Lithuanian parliament spokeswoman Rita Dapkus as saying that 50-year-old Vytautas Kancevicius, shot in the stomach and intestines during the Soviet military assault on the Vilnius television tower on January 13, had died in a hospital in Vilnius, AP reported February 18. His death raises the toll of Lithuanian civilians killed during the assault on the tower to 14 (a KGB lieutenant was also killed). (Saulius Girnius) LANDSBERGIS APPEALS TO EC NOT TO RESTORE SOVIET AID. AP reported on February 18 that Lithuanian President Vytautas Landsbergis said in a Dutch radio interview that, before resuming aid to the USSR, the European Community should demand concrete actions and not only words from the USSR that it will no longer use force in the Baltics. The EC suspended aid to the USSR after the military assault in Lithuania. Landsbergis said that the withdrawal of Soviet troops from the Vilnius television tower "would be a first step and a first real sign of good will." The EC will hold discussions on February 19 about the situation in the Baltic and the Gulf. (Saulius Girnius) US MEDICAL SHIPMENT ARRIVES IN VILNIUS. Radio Kaunas reported on February 17 that an airplane from the US loaded with medical supplies worth about $3,000,000 arrived that afternoon in Vilnius. The shipment, organized by AmeriCares aid organization with the aid of Lithuanian Catholic Relief Aid, contained 44,000 pounds of medicines including vaccines to protect children from whooping cough, diphtheria, and tetanus as well as surgical gloves, bandages, and other medical supplies. This is the first shipment of medical aid to Lithuania since President Bush's decision on February 6 to finance the shipment of donated supplies to the Baltic republics. (Saulius Girnius) BLACK BERET WANTED FOR ROBBERY AND SHOOTING. Radio Riga and Diena reported on February 18 that Black Beret [OMON] officer Igor Nikiforov was wanted by law-enforcement authorities in Latvia. On the evening of February 15, Nikiforov was identified as having brandished a pistol and robbed a girl of 8 rubles and of shooting at several cars in downtown Riga. Reportedly he was intoxicated at the time. The Black Berets are, according to MVD orders, supposed to stay in their barracks on the outskirts of Riga. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIANS IN RUSSIA SUPPORT LATVIA'S INDEPENDENCE POLL. Austra Bolsevica, leader of the Latvian Society in Russia, told Diena on February 18 that Latvians living in the RSFSR want to support the March 3 poll on Latvia's independence. Signatures are being collected from Latvians in Moscow, Leningrad, Vorkuta, Krasnoyarsk, Karaganda, and in other cities. These signatures will not be counted in the official results of poll, which is open only to permanent residents of Latvia, but they will be recorded by the Latvian Supreme Council. (Dzintra Bungs) SOVIET MILITARY DRAFT IN LATVIA. Colonel Valdis Teimers, Deputy Military Commissar in Latvia, told TASS on February 18 that the autumn 1990 draft of youths from Latvia into the USSR armed forces has been completed. Last autumn the quota was fulfilled by only about 25%. According to Teimers, about 300 young men were inducted since then; of this group about one-third were Latvian and about 170 had previously signed up for alternative service. The figure of 300 would seem to suggest that the fall 1990 draft has ended, but that the quota (about 10,000, according to Radio Riga of January 20) was not fulfilled even with the draft extension into January 1991. (Dzintra Bungs) BAKATIN SUPPORTS BALTIC INDEPENDENCE. Retired Interior Minister Vadim Bakatin told Moscow News (no.5) that under his chairmanship the MVD had almost accomplished work on a Union treaty for decentralization of police functions, which would have been signed by all republican interior ministries. He stressed that Baltic demands for independence are "legitimate." Bakatin described the recent crackdown in Latvia as a "senseless act" by the Riga OMON troop commander. He revealed that as Interior Minister he advocated a transfer of OMON troops ["specialized purpose militia detachments"] from central to republican MVD command, but said that Latvian Communist leader Alfred Rubiks resisted him. Bakatin maintained that a split between the Army and the militia took place in Riga and called for a depolitization of the MVD and armed forces. (Alexander Rahr) USSR USSR - ALL-UNION TOPICS GORBACHEV'S PEACE PLAN. Western media report that Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev's four-point peace plan for Iraq, as presented to Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz and Deputy Prime Minister Saddoun Hammadi yesterday (February 18) during three hours of Kremlin talks, consists of guarantees that Iraq's borders and state structure will not be changed, sanctions will be halted, Saddam will not be personally punished, and that other regional issues--including the Palestinian question--will be debated. These guarantees are offered in exchange for Iraq's withdrawal from Kuwait. The Kremlin has given Baghdad up to 36 hours to respond to the peace proposal, wires services reported February 18 and 19. (Suzanne Crow) GORBACHEV ADVISER SAYS IRAQ WILL ACCEPT. An adviser to Gorbachev, Andrei Gratchev, told Europe-1 Radio network that talks with Aziz and Hammadi "confirmed the important change of principle in the Iraqi position, namely that Iraq would accept the unconditional retreat of its troops from Kuwait and thus the cancellation of the results of its operations of August 2." Gratchev went on to say, "if [Saddam rejects the peace plan], he obviously signs on to the unleashing of the offensive that is going to be murderous for his country, his army, and maybe himself," AP reported February 19. (Suzanne Crow) SOVIETS ON PEACE PLAN. In London, a Gorbachev spokesman, Sergei Grigoriev, said the Soviet message to Iraq is, "you leave unconditionally, but you know at least that if you leave you can survive, and there will be no further interference in the internal affairs of Iraq." Gorbachev's special envoy Evgenii Primakov said the allies should defer a ground offensive until Iraq has had a chance to study Gorbachev's peace plan. Georgii Mirsky, a Middle East Expert with the Institute of World Economics and International Relations said "we still don't know [Saddam's] real intentions. If he withdraws from Kuwait, he can avoid the real battle. But he must be worried that he will lose his credibility in the Middle East if he gives up now," wire services reported February 19. (Suzanne Crow) KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA ON MFA SPLIT. More evidence that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is deeply divided on the Gulf crisis came on February 16 in Komsomolskaya pravda. An article based on interviews with unidentified Soviet diplomats claimed that Shevardnadze made enemies by signing the joint statement with US Secretary of State James Baker last August condemning Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. Some in the MFA opposed the joint statement because such a move could have endangered the nearly 9,000 Soviet citizens in Iraq. This concern explains the MFA's fastidiousness in reporting the progress of evacuation. KP's "insider account" also claims that Aleksandr Bessmertnykh's views on the Gulf crisis differ from those of his predecessor. The Times of London summarized the KP article on February 18. (Suzanne Crow) GORBACHEV, KOHL TALK ON TREATIES. Gorbachev spoke with German Chancellor Kohl by telephone yesterday (February 18). According to a TASS report, "stress was placed on the necessity to speed the ratification process" of the Two-Plus-Four and Soviet-German Friendship Treaties. TASS did not indicate whether it was Kohl or Gorbachev who was insistent on speeding the process. However, German television (ZDF) reported last night Gorbachev had reassured Kohl that the treaties would be ratified. Discussion of ratification has been on the Supreme Soviet's agenda for some time. (Suzanne Crow) WILL GORBACHEV GO TO BOTH KOREAS? Japanese sources were quoted by the Washington Times on February 15 as saying Gorbachev will travel to both Seoul and Pyongyang after his trip to Japan in April in an attempt to mediate a settlement between the two Koreas. Thus far the Soviet Foreign Ministry has not announced any such travel plans, and MFA Spokesman Vitalii Churkin said on February 7 the issue has not been decided. (Suzanne Crow) CENTRAL ASIAN VIEWS OF GULF WAR. The Communist Party Central Committee plenum in Tajikistan adopted a resolution on February 18 describing civilian casualties in the Gulf war as unacceptable and calling for a political solution to the conflict, according to TASS on February 18. The presidents of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan were quoted by Reuter as having told a February 18 news conference that the war should be stopped as soon as possible. Kyrgyzstan's Askar Akaev said that the republic, as part of the Muslim cultural sphere, cannot be indifferent to the fate of the world center of Islam. Kazakhstan's Nursultan Nazarbaev said that allied forces are violating the UN mandate, and he fears that "this could turn into a demonstration of US might against all of us." Nazarbaev added that Iraqi troops should get out of Kuwait. (Bess Brown) PAVLOV PRESENTS PRICE PROPOSAL. At the USSR Supreme Soviet session February 18, Prime Minister Pavlov acknowledged that a price reform is in the offing, but that disagreements between the central government and the republics have temporarily put off its implementation, according to TASS, February 18. (See Daily Report of February 18.) He noted that the republics had on the whole agreed with the price increases, but wanted the right to determine how consumers would be compensated left to republican governments. Pavlov rejects this approach because of the republics' differing levels of ability to carry out compensation programs. The central government's plan would compensate all consumers for about 85% of the planned price increases. (John Tedstrom) CHANGES IN INVESTMENT POLICY POSSIBLE. AFP of February 16 reported that in answer to a reporter's question about his government's priorities, Pavlov deplored the fact that "heavy industry cannot meet the needs of light industry, increasing the need for importing finished goods." He noted the importance of developing a modern chemical industry as well as the transportation, forestry, and metallurgy industries. "We need a balanced economy, and we must use it, not to produce more tanks than the rest of the world, but, rather, consumer goods," Pavlov concluded. (John Tedstrom) WHEN WAS THE CPSU FORMED? Millions of Soviet students have been taught that the CPSU was founded in 1902, at the second congress of Russian Socialist-Democratic Workers' Party (RSDRP), when it split into Bolsheviks and Mensheviks. However, in order to be registered in accordance with the new law on public organizations, TASS said February 15, the CPSU Central Committee has provided a certificate stating that the Party was founded in 1898--that is, at the first congress of the RSDRP. Could this mean that those members who call themselves "Social Democrats"--such as Fedor Burlatsky, editor of Literaturnaya gazeta, economist Stanislav Shatalin, and Sergei Alekseev, chairman of the USSR Committee of Constitutional Oversight--are not to be ostracized? Furthermore, will the CPSU rehabilitate Mensheviks who were imprisoned and shot by the Communists in the 1920s and 1930s? (Julia Wishnevsky) OFFICERS ON THE UNION REFERENDUM. Krasnaya zvezda of February 14 reports that a working group has been created in the Moscow Military District to assist in preparations for, and the conduct of, the upcoming referendum on maintaining the union. The group is headed by the District's Deputy Political Administration Chief, Major General A. Dudko. Analogous working groups are being created in other military units in the district. The newspaper also reports that top political officers meeting in Moscow said that army political organizations--and the political organs themselves--were strongly in favor of holding the referendum, and urged servicemen and their families to participate. (Stephen Foye) RED ARMY DEFECTORS IN GERMANY. Soviet Major General Alexei Kozlov told the newspaper Bild am Sonntag on February 16 that about 550 Soviet soldiers and their dependents stationed in Germany have requested political asylum, AP and Reuter reported over the weekend. Kozlov said that the figure included at least 30 criminals that Moscow wanted returned to face trial. He said that more than 100 Soviet troops had deserted since January 1990. (Stephen Foye) USSR - IN THE REPUBLICS YELTSIN TO SPEAK ON SOVIET TV TONIGHT. RSFSR Supreme Soviet Chairman Boris Yeltsin will deliver a 40-minute address on the current political situation in the USSR this evening (February 19), , to be carried live on the Soviet first channel at 6:15 P.M. Moscow time, Radio Moscow has reported. (NCA/Sallie Wise) VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE IN YELTSIN? Reporting from Moscow on February 14 for the RL Russian Service's evening news show "In the Country and the World," a correspondent from the independent Postfactum news agency said the "Communists of Russia" parliamentary bloc was collecting signatures for a vote of no confidence in Yeltsin's government over the Gennadii Fil'shin affair. RSFSR people's deputy Viktor Shenis said the "Communists of Russia" stood some chance of success since it is homogeneous, whereas its rival, the "Democratic Russia" parliamentary group, is split. On February 18, Postfactum reported that signatures are being collected calling for an extraordinary session of the RSFSR Congress of People's Deputies at which the confidence vote would be put. Postfactum said the "Communists of Russia" bloc is emboldened by the recent fall in Yeltsin's popularity ratings. (Savik Shuster) FIL'SHIN FIGHTS ON. Gennadii Fil'shin told "In the Country and the World" on February 18 that, despite his resignation from Yeltsin's government, he does not intend to abandon his career as an economist. He said he is seeking new partners to continue his trade deal and has already found one in the RSFSR Ministry of Foreign Economic Ties. Fil'shin said he thought the publicity about him had not harmed his prospects but, rather, made him more popular. (Savik Shuster) "THE CASE OF THE 14O BILLION RUBLES." Aleksandr Pochinok, chairman of the special commission of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet investigating the deal involving the sale of 140 billion rubles abroad at a disadvantageous rate in exchange for large quantities of consumer goods, told the late evening TV news program "TSN" on February 18 that it was still possible that the case could bring down the RSFSR government. Pochinok pointed to gross incompetence on the part of former deputy premier Gennadii Fil'shin and also the RSFSR Minister of Trade. In an interview on Vremya earlier in the evening, Pochinok said that it was naive for members of the government to believe that it could solve all its problems with such a deal, as Fil'shin was still maintaining. (Ann Sheehy) ORLOV CAUTIONS LIBERALS. Fear of their own people rather than of a dictatorship still afflicts some Russian liberals, writes former human rights activist Yurii Orlov in Stolitsa, No. 5, 1991. It was not spontaneous popular terror, but the deliberate, theoretically "well-founded" terror of leftist dictatorship, supported by the liberals of the world, which destroyed rightist intellectuals along with millions of simple people in the period of "building socialism". That the terror then spread to leftist intellectuals was a logical consequence of the dictatorship, not a result of any grassroots movement. Today liberals regard the uncontrolled peaceful activity of millions -- something that in other nations is considered a norm -- as chaos and anarchy, concludes Orlov. (Victor Yasmann) MORE CHURCHES TO BE RESTORED IN MOSCOW. TASS reported on February 18 about a plan to restore the ancient part of Moscow -- Kitai gorod -- as a cultural, trade, touristic, and spiritual center. Thirteen churches are situated in Kitai gorod, among them a cathedral and a monastery. A representative of the Russian Orthodox Church said that the Church will help to restore these churches. The chairman of the Executive Committee of the Moscow city soviet, Yurii Luzhkov, gave assurances at a press conference that the process of restoring churches will continue. (Oxana Antic) USSR SUPSOV DEBATES GEORGIAN SITUATION. After a closed committee session yesterday evening to debate whether to declare a state of emergency in South Ossetia, the USSR Supreme Soviet will today discuss the Georgian situation in full session. The Georgian parliament declared a state of emergency in the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali and the neighboring Dzhava raion in mid-December. (NCA/Liz Fuller) UNOFFICIAL GEORGIAN MILITIA ATTACKED. Two Soviet soldiers and six members of the unofficial Georgian paramilitary group Mkhedrioni were injured in a clash on the outskirts of Tbilisi on the night of February 17-18, TASS reports quoting USSR Ministry of Defense sources. Twenty Mkhedrioni members were detained and quantities of weapons and ammunition confiscated. Mkhedrioni leader Dzhaba Ioseliani has accused Georgian Supreme Soviet chairman Zviad Gamsakhurdia of masterminding the incident, and has expressed his intention of joining other Georgian political parties to form an "anti-fascist union" to oppose Gamsakhurdia's policies, according to Reuter. (Liz Fuller) GEORGIAN SUPREME SOVIET CHAIRMAN APPEALS FOR WESTERN HELP. In an interview published February 18 in El Mundo and quoted by Reuter, Gamsakhurdia has predicted that Soviet troops will intervene in Georgia to crush the independence movement. Gamsakhurdia appealed to Western leaders to end their support for Gorbachev, to establish links with those republics seeking independence, and to provide "political and economic aid." He argued that such Western support could pressure Gorbachev to withdraw Soviet troops from Georgia. (Liz Fuller) GEORGIAN CP FIRST SECRETARY RESIGNS. TASS reports that Avtandil Margiani resigned on February 18 two months after his election as Georgian CP First Secretary, citing "the complex social and political situation" in the republic and accusations levelled against him. Margiani was elected at a Party Congress last December at which the Georgian CP voted to split from the CPSU following its defeat in the October Supreme Soviet elections. (Liz Fuller) GEORGIA TO INTRODUCE LOCAL PREFECTS. Georgia has begun implementing the provisions of its law "On Local Management during the Transitional Period" by appointing prefects in towns and villages who will replace the executive committees of local soviets. Georgian Supreme Soviet deputy Vakhtang Khmaladze was quoted by TASS on February 15 as arguing that in conditions of economic ruin and the absence of local power structures "strong authority" is needed. He conceded that this system is open to abuse "since we are not yet used to democracy." How the prefects will interact with the new local councils to be elected on March 31 is not clear. (Liz Fuller) POPE MEETS GROUP FROM ARMENIA. Pope John Paul II met a delegation from Armenia on February 15 to discuss a hospital being built with funds he donated at the time of the 1988 earthquake in Armenia, RFE-RL's Rome correspondent reports. The Vatican press office stated that the delegation brought a model of the hospital, which Armenian authorities have allowed to carry a religious name: redemptoris mater. The delegation is headed by a member of the Armenian Republic's government, Ararat Gomtsyan. (Oxana Antic) AGREEMENTS BETWEEN KAZAKHSTAN AND KYRGYZSTAN SIGNED. On February 18, the presidents of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan signed an agreement on friendship and cooperation between their two republics, according to a TASS report of that date. Kazakh president Nazarbaev described the agreement as a step beyond the agreement signed last year in developing relations between the two neighboring republics on the basis of mutual recognition of their sovereignty. Kirgiz president Akaev said the agreement between the two republics is important in speeding up the conclusion of a new Union Treaty. The two leaders also signed a five-year agreement on economic and cultural cooperation. (Bess Brown) TWO TAJIK VIEWS OF REFERENDUM. Both the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the Democratic Party of Tajikistan held plenums to discuss the referendum on the future of the USSR, according to TASS reports of February 18. The Communists called for retention of the Union, with republican president and Communist Party chief Kakhar Makhkamov condemning "destructive forces" that question the USSR's existence. The Democrats called for a boycott of the referendum on the grounds that it does not say what will be the political and economic bases of the new union, although they believe Tajikistan will remain within the USSR. (Bess Brown) CITIZENS COUNCIL IN BELORUSSIA WANTS BOYCOTT OF REFERENDUM. A meeting of the informal Belorussian Citizens' Council took place February 16 in Minsk, at which the March 17 all-Union referendum and Union treaty draft were roundly criticized. The council passed a resolution calling for a boycott of the referendum. It also established a Deputies' Democratic Club to unite Belorussian people's deputies from the USSR to the local level. The club already has 110 members. (Belorussian Service/Kathy Mihalisko) TAX BREAK FOR BELORUSSIAN-LANGUAGE PUBLICATIONS. A long-drawn-out debate took place in the Belorussian Supreme Soviet concerning a draft law to give tax breaks to publishing houses in proportion to the amount of Belorussian-language material they produce. When conservative deputies managed to vote down the draft, SupSov deputy chairman Stanislau Shushkevich invited all Belorussian-speaking deputies to leave the hall with him. The move sufficed to convince the conservatives to support the bill, which was finally passed on February 13. (Belorussian Service/Kathy Mihalisko) MOLDAVIAN CONSCRIPTS' DEATHS ACKNOWLEDGED BY MILITARY. The Moldavian media last week made public data supplied by the USSR military commissar for Moldavia to the republic's Department for Military Affairs concerning deaths of conscripts from Moldavia in the USSR armed forces. According to the data, 39 died during 1990 and another 7 from January 1 to February 11 of this year. The causes cited for the deaths include "illness," "suicide," "accident," and "consequences of insubordination," but deliberate violence is not mentioned. Moldavian antimilitary groups have made public additional cases omitted from the official information, including 2 verified cases this month alone. (Vladimir Socor) GAGAUZ IN MOLDAVIA OPEN UNIVERSITY. Following the example of the would-be Dniester SSR in eastern Moldavia, the Supreme Soviet of the self-proclaimed Gagauz SSR has opened a university in its administrative center Komrat in southern Moldavia. The main language of instruction is Russian. The university has opened with 3 departments and 150 students instead of 6 departments with 700 students as planned, Moldovapres and TASS reported February 9 and 17, respectively. The Moldavian government is not providing financial support, having instead opened special Gagauz-language classes in Moldavian institutions. The Gagauz university has appealed to other Union republics and to Turkey for support. (Vladimir Socor). [as of 1300 CET] Compiled by Patrick Moore and Sallie Wise
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