|If you are not allowed to laugh in heaven, I don't want to go there. - Martin Luther|
No. 36, 20 February 1991
BALTIC STATES SHENIN VISITS LITHUANIA. On February 17, Oleg Shenin, Politburo member and CC Secretary, visited Vilnius and met with activists of the local pro-Moscow CP. That day's edition of Vremya aired Shenin's remark that Lithuania's poll the week before does not entitle the republic to secede from the Union, although a vast majority of its citizens opted for independence. Shenin implied that Lithuania could gain independence only within pre-1939 borders--i.e., without the Vilnius and Klaipeda regions. According to Shenin's secret memorandum, approved by CPSU Deputy General Secretary Vladimir Ivashko and published in Nezavisimaya gazeta January 29, it was Shenin who prepared the Lithuanian crackdown during his visit to Lithuania in August of last year. (Julia Wishnevsky) CPSU THREATENS PRESIDENTIAL RULE. In his meeting with Party activists in Lithuania last week, Shenin warned that presidential rule could be imposed there to protect people from "one-sided influence by Lithuanian separatist forces," according to Pravda on February 19. Shenin reportedly told the Lithuanian CP that presidential rule is a possible measure to counteract "the violation by the Lithuanian leadership of Soviet laws." Pravda did not say why a CPSU official was in a position to warn of presidential rule in a "law-based state" in which the Party no longer enjoys a constitutionally guaranteed leading role in society. (Riina Kionka) IVASHKO REJECTS CPSU RESPONSIBILITY FOR CRACKDOWN. The February 15 session of the USSR Supreme Soviet opened with a deputy's request to investigate the CPSU leadership's responsibility for the tragic events in Lithuania. Although such a request did not need to be put to a vote, a vote was conducted and the measure received majority of votes. However, the measure failed to be approved by more than 50% of all deputies, and therefore the request seems to have been rejected. Vladimir Ivashko thereupon expressed his Party's outrage over such a "political" accusation. Could Ivashko be unaware that his secret memorandum outlining the crackdown scenario has leaked to the independent press? (Julia Wishnevsky) CPSU ACTS AS CRIMINAL ORGANIZATION, LITERARY CRITIC SAYS. In a letter to Moscow News (No. 6), Moscow literary critic Igor' Vinogradov asserted that in light of the Baltic crisis it is clear that the CPSU leadership is interested solely in preserving its privileges, which it has concentrated in its hands through years of unrestricted power. In order to defend these privileges and interests, the CPSU has shown readiness to kill people as was the case in Lithuania and Latvia in January, Vinogradov said. He charged that the national salvation committees in the Baltics set up by the republican CPs were involved in overtly criminal actions of overthrowing legally elected authorities in those republics. Vinogradov called on such CPSU members as Yakovlev, Shevardnadze, and Bakatin to ask themselves whether they are still ready to be members of an organization which is acting in such an overtly criminal way. (Vera Tolz) LITHUANIA CALLS FOR TALKS...AGAIN. Lithuania's parliament officially notified Moscow on February 19 of the results of its independence plebiscite and asked for immediate talks on recognition of independence, Radio Moscow reported that day. Lithuania's parliament said the goal of the talks should be restoration of pre-1940 relations between Vilnius and Moscow, and suggested that a Soviet state delegation be authorized to conduct talks. About 85% of those eligible to vote took part in the February 9 poll, with some 90% voting for full independence. Lithuania has repeatedly asked Moscow for bona fide talks on independence. (Riina Kionka) UKRAINIAN PARTY INVITES VILNIUS COMMUNISTS TO PRESS CONFERENCE. The February 9 issue of Rad'yanska Ukraina reported on a press conference given by members of the so-called "Citizens' Committee of Vilnius" at the press center of the Ukrainian CP Central Committee. The guests, whose sympathies almost certainly lay with the National Salvation Committee, lodged complaints about the Lithuanian government's alleged repression of Russian speakers. They also went on a lecture tour of Kiev factories to explain the situation in Lithuania and to expose the "falsifications" of the media and certain politicians. (Kathy Mihalisko) POLISH PUBLIC OPINION ON LITHUANIA. PAP reported on February 17 the results of a Polish Radio and TV public opinion poll, conducted in late January, on the situation in Lithuania. 53% of the respondents blamed only the USSR for the escalation of violence in Lithuania; 19% placed the blame more on the USSR than Lithuania; 11% thought that both sides were equally to blame; and only 2% thought that the Lithuanians were predominantly responsible. The idea of Lithuanian independence was generally accepted: 39% of the respondents were for immediate and unconditional sovereignty, while 51% favored evolutionary changes and negotiations with the USSR. 3% wanted Lithuania to remain within the Soviet Union and 7% BBd no opinion on the subject. While 61% of the respondents tBBught the Polish Government reacted properly to the LiBhuanian events, 16% thought that Poland could have done more and 11% maintained that Poland should not have gone as far as it did. (Roman Stefanowski) PREBIMINARY PREPARATIONS FOR LATVIAN-USSR TALKS. Radio Riga and Diena reported on February 19 that Latvia's Deputy Prime MiniBter Ilmars Bisers met with Vladimir Velichko, Deputy PriBe Minister of the USSR, earlier that day and on February 18. B Velichko is also chairman of the Soviet delegation appoiBted on February 1 by Gorbachev "for discussion with representatives of the Latvian SSR" of political, social, and economBc issues. Bisers said that at the two meetings they talked Bbout technical and other aspects for getting the LatviBn-USSR talks started. (Dzintra Bungs) ESTONIA ASKS FOR OBSERVERS. Estonia's government has notified the governments of 30 countries that it would welcome foreign delegations to act as observers at Estonia's March 3 plebiscite on independence, Paevaleht reported on February 19. According to Paevaleht, quoting the Estonian Foreign Ministry's information bureau, several international organizations--including the European Parliament, the Council of EuropOBand the Nordic Council--have already agreed to send watchers. (Riina Kionka) USSR TELLS FINLAND: THOSE RESPONSIBLE FOR BALTIC DEATHS WILL BE PUNISHED. Finnish Foreign Minister Pertti Paasio said that USSR had replied on February 18 to Finland's diplomatic note concerning the Soviet crackdown in the Baltics in January, reported AP on February 19. Paasio welcomed the Soviet reply, which said that those found guilty of the tragic events in Vilnius and Riga would be punished. Paasio added: "Finland feels that the CSCE offers a suitable forum [...] for the discussion of such questions as the events in the Baltic republics. The answer now received from the Soviet Union supports this view." (Dzintra Bungs) USSR - ALL-UNION TOPICS YELTSIN DEMANDS GORBACHEV'S RESIGNATION. In his strongest challenge to Gorbachev so far, Boris Yeltsin demanded that Gorbachev resign and be replaced by the USSR Federation Council in which he, as RSFSR leader, is primus inter pares. Interviewed on Soviet TV on February 20, Yeltsin accused Gorbachev of having "deceived" the people from the beginning of perestroika. He said that Gorbachev had assumed dictatorial powers of which he--Yeltsin--had warned since 1987. He publicly distanced himself from the Soviet leader and called upon the Russian people to support him. Yeltsin blamed himself for having "believed too much" in Gorbachev. He also accused KGB chief Vladimir Kryuchkov of plotting against democrats. (Alexander Rahr) YELTSIN'S TV SPEECH CAUSES STIR IN USSR SUPSOV. Today's (February 20) edition of the TSN news program has been replaced with a broadcast of condemnation in the USSR Supreme Soviet of Yeltsin's TV appearance, with speaker after speaker attacking Yeltsin. No potential supporters of Yeltsin were allowed to take the floor. The morning SupSov session ended with Anatolii Luk'yanov proposing work on a resolution condemning Yeltsin's address, to be discussed later today. (Julia Wishnevsky) PRIMAKOV ON PEACE PLAN. In an interview last night (February 19) on Soviet TV, Gorbachev's special envoy Evgenii Primakov said, "the slaughter must be stopped." "I am not saying that the war was justified before, but its continuation cannot now be justified from any point of view. A people is perishing," Primakov said. Indicating the potential long-term value of Gorbachev's peace plan, Primakov said, "The Soviet Union is working with absolutely clean hands now in the Near East, and if we are capable of actually bringing a peaceful outcome to the affair and by peaceful means guarantee the Iraqi pullout from Kuwait, it would be a great credit to the policy personally directed by Gorbachev," TASS reported February 19. (Suzanne Crow) BESSMERTNYKH COMMENTS TO SUPSOV. Answering questions from the Supreme Soviet on February 19, Soviet Foreign Minister Aleksandr Bessmertnykh said the linkage of the Gulf conflict to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be undesirable, TASS reported February 19. When asked when the "slaughter" of innocent Iraqi women and children from allied bombing would cease, Bessmertnykh said: "Comrades, do not forget the people of Kuwait. It is a country suffering from aggression...they are suffering too, and we must rally to their defense as well," AP reported February 20. (Suzanne Crow) KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA ON PEACE PLAN. The February 20 KP reported details of the Soviet peace plan quoting well-informed Kremlin sources. The details corresponded with Western press accounts of the plan, although KP said the plan includes a provision for a gradual withdrawal of allied forces from the Gulf and their replacement by inter-Arab or United Nations forces. (NCA/Suzanne Crow) USSR ON US REACTION TO PEACE PLAN. Reacting to US President George Bush's assessment that the Soviet peace plan "falls well short" of what is required, Bessmertnykh said the plan was addressed to the Iraqi leadership, not to the US. Bessmertnykh said he did not consider the US statement a rejection. Izvestia (February 20) said the UN Security Council, not the US, should decide if the war is to continue. Pravda (February 20) said "certain people" are blind to diplomatic efforts because of their desire to "punish" Iraq. (NCA/Suzanne Crow) GENERALS SCORE ALLIED GULF ACTIONS. Three top-ranking Soviet military leaders have recently criticized allied actions in the Gulf War. In comments reported on February 18 by AFP, Marshal Sergei Akhromeev told Interfax that strikes "launched against the Iraqi people" could no longer be tolerated. Warsaw Pact Chief of Staff Vladimir Lobov accused allied forces of using the UN resolution "to camouflage the massacre on Iraqi territory," and of threatening strategic parity by testing advanced weapons. On February 19 former Warsaw Pact Commander-in-Chief Marshal Viktor Kulikov charged that American actions indicate that the US has not embraced "new thinking," Reuter reported. (Stephen Foye) EC MOVES TO UNFREEZE AID. A statement issued after a ministerial meeting of the EC executive commission in Luxembourg said the EC should resume preparatory work on food credits and technical assistance to the USSR. A final decision on aid will be taken on March 4. Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jacques Poos, the current EC President, said "Gorbachev said he would continue on the path to reform even if he sometimes has to take a detour," the New York Times reported February 20. Poos was in Moscow on February 16 for meetings with Gorbachev. (Suzanne Crow) PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO REFERENDUM ARRANGEMENTS. A draft resolution to be presented to the USSR Supreme Soviet outlines additional measures in connection with the March 17 referendum on the preservation of the Soviet Union, The Times reported February 19. It makes provision for the referendum to be held in individual districts and workplaces where the republican or local authorities refuse to organize the referendum. According to the report, it also says that voters can be given only one, all-Union ballot paper with the one all-Union question. This would seem to be aimed at plans by the RSFSR and Ukraine to hold their own referendums the same day. (Ann Sheehy) PROGRESS ON UNION TREATY. Chairman of the RSFSR Council of the Republic Vladimir Isakov told TASS February 19 that considerable progress was made last week by the working group revising the draft Union treaty. Isakov said the eight participating republics (the Slav republics, the Central Asian republics, and Kazakhstan) had put their signatures to those theses they had agreed on. Judging by Isakov's remarks, the republics have gained certain concessions from the center. The adoption of the USSR constitution, and determining the strategy of state security, military policy, and foreign policy are now to be joint powers, although the Union will retain sole responsibility for ensuring the state security of the USSR and implementing its foreign policy. (Ann Sheehy) MOISEEV, CONSERVATIVES ON ARMY DAY RALLY. The General Staff Chief told TASS on February 19 that the upcoming military rally in Moscow does not constitute a threat to democratic reform. Army General Mikhail Moiseev said that the rally was planned by veterans' groups and other Moscow organizations to show support for Gorbachev and the Union treaty. A Defense Ministry spokesman said he expected up to 300,000 people to attend. Meanwhile, members of the hard-line Soyuz group said they were organizing tens of thousands of supporters for the rally to show support for the armed forces, Reuter reported. (NCA/Stephen Foye) MORE FIGURES ON ARMY DESERTERS. Soviet army headquarters in Eastern Germany said on February 19 that 152 Soviet soldiers have defected since November of 1989, Western agencies reported. The German Interior Ministry, according to the reports, says that only 121 Soviet soldiers have requested political asylum. On February 17 a Soviet general was quoted as saying that 550 Soviet soldiers and dependents had defected since 1989 (see Daily Report, February 19). (NCA/Stephen Foye) CENSORSHIP HAS NEVER DISAPPEARED, DEPUTY MINISTER SAYS. Despite the press law's abolition of media censorship, censorship has never disappeared in the USSR, RSFSR Deputy Minister of the mass media told Moscow News (No. 6). Mikhail Fedotov said several decrees and resolutions adopted after the press law went into effect were aimed at nullifying its provision abolishing censorship. Among these documents Fedotov cited a USSR Council of Ministers resolution on the main censorship body, Glavlit. The resolution stipulated the renaming of the organization, while preserving many of its traditional functions. Fedotov also mentioned a resolution of Gosteleradio, the Ministry of Justice, and the Ministry of Communication concerning the registration of new audio and video mass media, which apparently gives the Soviet government the right to decide arbitrarily which new mass media should be registered and which not. (Vera Tolz) USSR - IN THE REPUBLICS KYRGYZSTAN TO JOIN GROUP OF FIVE? At a press conference on the agreements between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan that were signed on February 18, Kirgiz president Askar Akaev told journalists that his republic is ready to join the group of four republics (RSFSR, Ukraine, Belorussia and Kazakhstan) that have signed a agreement on direct relations, bypassing the central government. Akaev's statement was reported on Radio Moscow on February 19. Uzbekistan joined the four in establishing an econmic coordinating group, according to a Radio Rossiya report of February 17. Akaev added that a new Union treaty should grow out of direct relations between republics, rather than being imposed from above. (Bess Brown) QUESTIONS FOR RSFSR REFERENDUM APPROVED. On February 19 the RSFSR central commission for holding the USSR and RSFSR referendums on March 17 approved the formulation of the two questions to be asked in the RSFSR referendum, TASS reported. The questions are: "Do you consider necessary the preservation of the RSFSR as a single federative multi-national state in a renewed Union?" and "Do you consider necessary the introduction of the post of president of the RSFSR elected by universal vote?" These were the only two questions backed by the necessary number of deputies' signatures. The formulation of the first question has been modified so that it now appears not to conflict with the question being posed in the all-Union referendum. (Ann Sheehy) GOSPLAN OFFICIAL APPOINTED RSFSR DEPUTY PREMIER. Al'bert Kamenev has been nominated to be RSFSR Deputy Prime Minister for economic questions, Vremya reported on February 19. Kamenev, who is 59, seems to be an old-style government official. He became first deputy chairman of the RSFSR Gosplan in 1978 under Leonid Brezhnev and remained in this position until recently. Kamenev replaces Gennadii Fil'shin, who stepped down last week amid allegations of connection with a foreign economic scandal. (Alexander Rahr) GEORGIAN AUTHORITIES ARREST PARAMILITARY LEADER. Georgian journalists told Reuter yesterday that Georgian Interior Ministry troops had detained Dzhaba Ioseliani, the leader of the unofficial paramilitary Mkhedrioni formation, and up to 40 of his subordinates. Following an attack on Mkhedrioni on the night of February 17-18 (which Ioseliani blamed on Georgian government forces, although the USSR MVD later claimed responsibility), on February 18 Ioseliani told a rally in Tbilisi that he intended to form a new political party to combat "fascism" in Georgia. (Liz Fuller) GEORGIAN GOVERNMENT IMPLICATED IN "FOOD FOR ARMS" DEAL. On February 15 Sovetskaya Rossiya reported that in response to a telegram to Komsomol'skaya pravda from a metal worker at the Tula weapons plant proposing the exchange of weapons manufactured at the plant for food to alleviate chronic shortages in Tula, a letter from the Georgian Council of Ministers chairman T. Sigua was received requesting 10,000 hunting rifles, automatic weapons, ammunition and 500 Kalashnikov assault rifles in exchange for meat, sausage, canned stew, fish, tobacco, tea and fruit to the same value. The Tula factory director is awaiting instructions from the USSR Ministry of Defense before replying to the Georgian offer. (Liz Fuller) ARMENIA BANS ORGANIZATIONS WITH FOREIGN-BASED LEADERSHIP. Following its controversial decree on the depoliticization of public life, the Armenian Supreme Soviet has voted to forbid all political organizations whose leadership is based outside Armenia from operating within the republic, Radio Erevan reported on February 14. This ruling is a serious blow to the diaspora political organizations that recently opened offices in Erevan, in particular the Dashnak Party. One Armenian political observer has argued that similarities between the programs of the Dashnak Party and the Armenian CP could enable them to function as one bloc within parliament. (Liz Fuller) AZERBAIJAN TO RECEIVE TURKISH TV. Radio Moscow reported on February 18 that a satellite TV relay station is now in operation in Baku that will soon enable Azerbaijanis to receive Turkish television. The satellite facility is one of two donated by Turkey within the framework of increased political, economic and cultural ties over the past year. (NCA/Liz Fuller) MOLDAVIA REJECTS UNION REFERENDUM. The Moldavian Supreme Soviet voted February 19 to reject the holding in Moldavia of the union referendum scheduled for March 17, TASS and Central TV reported last night (February 19). The voting was on nominal roll call and the session was broadcast live on Moldavian radio and television. Prime Minister Mircea Druc was cited as telling the chamber just before the voting that holding the referendum was "inconceivable" in his view. No further information is available as yet. (Vladimir Socor) MOLDAVIAN PRESIDENT REPORTS TO SUPSOV ON ROMANIAN VISIT. Addressing the Moldavian Supreme Soviet just before the vote on the referendum, President Mircea Snegur reported on his visit of last week to Romania. Snegur announced that he had agreed with Romanian leaders to coordinate steps toward establishing consulates in each other's country, and to conclude "as urgently as possible" a Moldavian-Romanian "intergovernmental treaty" at the Prime Ministers' level, setting the framework for economic and cultural cooperation. Moldovapres reported on Snegur's address yesterday. (Vladimir Socor) MOLDAVIAN-ROMANIAN ECONOMIC COOPERATION MAPPED OUT. Snegur further reported to parliament and at a news conference on February 19 that he and Romanian leaders had agreed to task the respective ministries to draw up sectoral agreements on economic cooperation, including: Romanian processing of Moldavian agricultural produce, with part of the processed output to be marketed abroad by Moldavia; Moldavian import of Romanian steel pipe in large quantity, under Kishinev's plan to extend methane gas distribution to the countryside; housing construction in Moldavia to be contracted by Romanian organizations; and a joint Moldavian-Romanian credit bank or banks to support bilateral economic cooperation. (Vladimir Socor). DONBASS MINERS THREATEN STRIKE. The Regional Union of Strike Committees in Donbass has resolved that coal miners in the region will renew their strike on March 1 if no agreement is reached with the Kiev and Moscow authorities, Radio Kiev and Radio Moscow reported on February 19. The coal miners are demanding that their wages be at least doubled and corresponding changes in pension legislation. (Roman Solchanyk) UKRAINIAN COMMITTEE URGES "NO" VOTE ON REFERENDUM. "Referendum: Sovereign Ukraine," a committee recently formed by representatives of several opposition parties in Ukraine, has issued a call to citizens to vote "no" during the March 17 referendum. The committee maintains that the question posed in the referendum is formulated "incorrectly" and that it could be misinterpreted. (Roman Solchanyk) CRIMEAN AUTONOMY RECOGNIZED. TASS announced February 13 that "the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic has been reestablished." One day earlier, the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet voted in favor of restoring Crimean autonomy following a referendum on January 20 in Crimea organized by the oblast Party leadership. The referendum, however, was bitterly denounced by Crimean Tatars who saw it as an attempt to sabotage the restoration of their national-territorial autonomy. TASS somewhat deceptively said that the development expressed "the will of the Crimean population" (which is predominately Russian), making no mention of the specifically Crimean Tatar viewpoint. (Kathy Mihalisko) SALES TAX INTRODUCED IN UKRAINE. Radio Kiev reported on February 17 that late last week a 5% retail sales tax was introduced in Ukraine. The proceeds will go toward creating an extra-budgetary fund for economic stabilization. The Ukrainian Council of Ministers adopted a resolution to this effect on February 11. (Valentyn Moroz) "NATIONALIZATION" OF UKRAINIAN ENERGY INDUSTRY? Radio Kiev reported on February 14 that, although Ukrainian energy exports to Eastern Europe total about $1.5 billion annually, Ukrainian authorities have never received any payments from the center in hard currency. Furthermore, the Soviet energy ministry has paid nothing at all this year, forcing power stations in Ukraine to borrow money in order to pay salaries. Radio Moscow-1 reported on February 17, citing Izvestia, that the Ukrainian energy industry has threatened to cut deliveries to the Caucasus and Eastern Europe if the all-Union ministries of energy and foreign trade do not settle their debts for energy already delivered. Ukrainian power stations serve Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, the North Caucasus, and Transcaucasian republics. (Valentyn Moroz) MEDICAL EDUCATION IN UKRAINE CATASTROPHIC. The Ukrainian health minister said in a letter published in Radyans'ka Ukraina on January 29, in response to a reader who expressed concern over declining social science instruction at medical schools, that the situation is catastrophic. As a rule, he said, graduating doctors are unprepared to diagnose and treat patients. Students from developing countries who study at Soviet universities often fail to pass exams which their countries require before allowing them to practice. This should not be surprising in view of the number of hours devoted to "social sciences": 489 for political economy and "problems of modern socialism", as compared to 232 hours for gynecology, 166 for pediatrics, 92 for psychiatry and pharmacology, and 62 for oncology. (Valentyn Moroz) UZBEKISTAN AND TAJIKISTAN DISCUSS ALUMINUM PLANT. Deputies of the Supreme Soviets of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan have studied environmental damage caused by the Tajik Aluminum plant, and have agreed on stopping the functioning of 100 electrolysis units at the plant during the summer months in 1991, according a TASS report of February 16, quoting Izvestia. Pollution caused by the plant has been a serious cause of friction between the two republics. In January, 1990, Literaturnaya gazeta reported that the Party chief of Uzbekistan's Surkhandarya oblast, which adjoins the plant, had demanded 30,000,000 rubles from the plant director for damages. The plant is a major element in Tajikistan's industrialization drive. (Bess Brown) FIRST INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER IN TURKMENISTAN. Ashkhabad journalist Saparmurad Ovezberdyev has told RFE/RL that publication of an independent newspaper, Turkmen ili (The Turkmen People), started last week. The weekly, which appears in Russian, has a print run of only 999 copies--as long as it remains below 1,000, it is not necessary to register the publication with the authorities, according to Ovezberdyev. The conservative political leadership of the republic has been very reluctant to grant recognition to any independent political activity. (NCA/Turkmen BD/Bess Brown) [as of 1300 CET] Compiled by Patrick Moore and Sallie Wise
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