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No. 37, 21 February 1991
BALTIC STATES SOVIET AMBASSADOR ATTENDS ESTONIAN RECEPTION. The Soviet ambassador in Sweden, Nikolai Uspensky, attended a diplomatic reception on February 19 in Stockholm marking Estonian Independence Day, Foreign Minister Lennart Meri told RFE/RL on February 20. The reception, marking the 73rd anniversary of an independent Republic of Estonia, was hosted by Prime Minister Edgar Savisaar and Meri. Twelve ambassadors--from the USSR, the US, the UK, France, Denmark, Czechoslovakia, Romania, the EC, the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, and Australia--attended the party, along with numerous lower-ranking diplomats from other countries. Meri attributed Uspensky's somewhat puzzling attendance to the "legacy of customs and traditions of the Shevardnadze Foreign Ministry." (Riina Kionka) CZECHOSLOVAK OFFICE FOR VILNIUS. Michael Cermak, adviser to Czechoslovak Foreign Minister Jiri Dienstbier, says an "interest bureau" will work solely to foster economic, cultural, scientific, and educational cooperation between Czechoslovakia and Lithuania. President Vaclav Havel announced on February 15 that such an office would open in Vilnius. Cermak said that no date has been set and that a formal agreement would have to be signed first. In a telephone interview on February 19, Cermak told the RFE Lithuanian Service that the office would have no consular functions, but expressed the hope that Czechoslovakia will eventually form diplomatic ties. He also said he did not know how the Kremlin would react but foresaw no legal obstacles. (Barbara Kroulik) LCP NEWSPAPERS DISAPPEAR FROM NEWSSTANDS. TASS in English on February 19 reported that the newspapers of the Lithuanian Communist Party, Tarybu Lietuva, Sovetskaya Litva, and Otchizna, had disappeared from newsstands in Vilnius for the previous five days. TASS said the disappearance was a result of the law on political parties in Lithuania, passed by parliament in September 1990, forbidding parties of foreign countries to operate in the republic. There was no explanation why the newspapers disappeared only now and not in September when the law was passed. (Saulius Girnius) USSR-LITHUANIA DISCUSSIONS. Lithuanian parliament press spokesman Audrius Azubalis told the RFE Lithuanian Service on February 20 that USSR Supreme Soviet Chairman Anatolii Luk'yanov has sent a letter to Lithuanian President Vytautas Landsbergis, proposing that USSR-Lithuanian discussions on Lithuanian independence begin in "the next few weeks." Landsbergis told the Lithuanian Supreme Council about the letter on February 20 and said that the Lithuanian leadership would answer it by the end of the week. The letter made no mention of the military occupation of several buildings in Vilnius making discussions more difficult. The letter also announced some changes in the make-up of the Soviet delegation, but no details were provided. (Saulius Girnius) WHO WAS THE SOVIET OFFICER KILLED IN VILNIUS? Viktor Shatskikh, an young lieutenant killed in Vilnius during the storming of the TV tower on January 13, belonged to the KGB special units ("spetsnaz") attached to the KGB Seventh Administration of External Surveillance, writes Sobesednik, No. 6, 1991, citing unofficial sources. Shatskikh graduated from the Higher Military-Political Academy of the Border Troops, where his father worked. Before being deployed in Lithuania, Shatskikh's unit was stationed in the Moscow area. The weekly gives official and unofficial versions of Shatskikh's death: either that he was killed by "hit men" from the Lithuanian pro-independence movement "Sajudis", or that his comrades shot him in the back when he refused to shoot at people. (Victor Yasmann) LVOV DONATES MONEY TO LITHUANIAN RADIO. The director of the "Vilnius Bell" radio station, which suffered heavy damage during the events of January, was in Lvov recently seeking assistance to get the station back on the air. K. Sakalauskas left Lvov with a 20,000 ruble donation from the regional council of Rukh and a promise of technical assistance from the "Free Word from Ukraine" civic center, according to the February 12 issue of Komsomol'skoe znamya. The West Ukrainian city understands the power of radio: earlier this month, the radical Lvov Oblast' soviet gave 50,000 rubles to start up an independent station as an alternative to state radio. (Kathy Mihalisko) SOVIET AMBASSADOR ATTENDS ESTONIAN RECEPTION. The Soviet ambassador in Sweden, Nikolai Uspensky, attended a diplomatic reception on February 19 in Stockholm marking Estonian Independence Day, Foreign Minister Lennart Meri told RFE/RL on February 20. The reception, marking the 73rd anniversary of an independent Republic of Estonia, was hosted by Prime Minister Edgar Savisaar and Meri. Twelve ambassadors--from the USSR, the US, the UK, France, Denmark, Czechoslovakia, Bomania, the EC, the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland and ABstralia--attended the party, along with numerous lower-ranking diplomats from other countries. Meri attributed Uspensky's somewhat puzzling attendance to the "legacy of cuBtoms and traditions of the Shevardnadze Foreign Ministry." (RiBna Kionka) B PUGO LINKS INDEPENDENCE ASPIRATIONS WITH RISING CRIME. USSR Minister of Internal Affairs Boris Pugo told the press on FebruBry 19 that in 1990, compared to 1989, crime in the USSR increased by 13%; this was the sharpest rise registered since World Bar II, and was marked by "the aggressiveness of armed elements," said Pugo, according to the Financial Times on February 19. Pugo suggested that the greatest annual increasB in crimes had been registered in those republics (as examples, he cited Armenia--44%; Estonia--24%; Lithuania--19%; and Latvia--17%) seeking independence from the USSR, and criticized the Baltic States for separating their police force from the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs. (Dzintra Bungs) DEPARTUROBOF BLACK BERETS FROM LATVIA STILL UNCERTAIN. While in Moscow earlier this week, Latvia's Deputy Prime Minister Ilmars Bisers met with Pugo. Bisers again demanded the removal of the Black Berets [OMON], a special security force under the jurisdiction of Pugo's ministry, from Latvia. Despite earlier assurances both by Pugo and his predecessor Vadim Bakatin that the Black Berets would be transferred out of Latvia, Pugo was unwilling to say when this would take place. He told Bisers that the investigation of criminal cases involving Black Berets is not finished, and that not all residents of Riga oppose the Black Berets' presence there, reported Radio Riga on February 20.(Dzintra Bungs) FIRST POSTWAR CONGRESS OF FARMERS' UNION. On February 16 the Farmers' Union convened in Riga for its first congress since World War II. Aivars Berkis, a journalist and forestry specialist, was elected leader of the approximately 1,000-member-strong party, reported Radio Riga on February 19. The Union, reactivated on July 5, l990, is intended to uphold the interests of individual farmers and agriculture. It is not affiliated with the Latvian Farmers' Association (Latvija Lauksaimnieku Savieniba), an organization of kolkhoz and sovkhoz leaders and employees. The Farmers' Union, along with the Latvian Social Democratic Workers' Party, were the two strongest political parties in interwar Latvia. (Dzintra Bungs) B CHURKIN ACCUSES CANADA OF DOUBLE STANDARDS. Soviet Foreign Ministry spokesman Vitalii Churkin in Moscow on February 20 accused Canada of practicing a double standard in its Baltic policy, Reuter reported that day. Churkin criticized Canada for opposing French-speaking Quebec separatists at home while encouraging Baltic independence movements in the USSR. Churkin added that Canadian attitudes represent "open intervention in the internal affairs of our country." (Riina Kionka) CANADA REJECTS CRITICISM. Canada rejected Churkin's allegations of intervention on February 20, Reuter reported that day. Canadian External Affairs spokesman Denys LaLiberte sBBd Canada has provided consular and communications assistance, but did not have observers in Lithuania during the February 9 independence poll. LaLiberte also said that Canada supports the "legitimate right" of the Baltics to determine their own future. (Riina Kionka) BALTIC SEA ENVIRONMENTAL CONFERENCE. Representatives from Finland, Sweden, the USSR, Denmark, Germany, and Poland convened in Helsinki on February 19 for a four-day annual meeting of the Baltic Marine Environment Commission. The participants, according to Reuter of February 19, will discuss the adoption of tougher provisions against countries which do not comply with the commission's convention. They will also consider extending its coverage to inland waters of member states, especially since the Baltic Sea is seriously affected by airborne industrial and agricultural pollutants and sewage carried in rivers into the sea. (Dzintra Bungs) USSR - ALL-UNION TOPICS USSR SUPREME SOVIET DENOUNCES YELTSIN. The USSR Supreme Soviet approved by 280 votes to 31 a resolution denouncing Boris Yeltsin's televised attack on President Mikhail Gorbachev. TASS reported on February 20 that the resolution labeled Yeltsin's call for Gorbachev's replacement a "violation of the constitution" aimed at the "liquidation of the lawfully elected organs of power." The resolution urged Gorbachev to respond directly to Yeltsin on television, and called on the RSFSR parliament to denounce its leader. Yeltsin has also been criticized by the leaders of Ukraine and Kazakhstan, Leonid Kravchuk and Nursultan Nazarbaev, respectively. Kravchuk called Yeltsin's remarks on Gorbachev "irresponsible" and Nazarbaev described them as "unacceptable." (Alexander Rahr) YELTSIN DEFENDED BY DEMOCRATS. A number of democrats have risen to Yeltsin's defense. The radical Leningrad City Council voted to approve Yeltsin's television statement, according to Reuter on February 20 and 21. The council's chairman, Anatolii Sobchak, told reporters that he "categorically disagrees" with the USSR Supreme Soviet resolution against Yeltsin. Vyacheslav Shapovalenko from the Interregional Group of People's Deputies accused the Soviet parliament of insulting the Russian people by denouncing its leader. Yeltsin's military adviser, General Dmitrii Volkogonov, defended his boss's statement as "quite legitimate" but warned that a further confrontation between Gorbachev and Yeltsin will "leave only ashes behind." (Alexander Rahr) AZIZ COMING TONIGHT: OFFICIAL. The Soviet Foreign Ministry said today (February 21) Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz is expected to arrive in Moscow late today to deliver Baghdad's response to the Kremlin's peace plan, Reuter said. The information is apparently taken from a Baghdad Radio report on Aziz's plans. (Suzanne Crow) SHEVARDNADZE PRESS CONFERENCE. Former Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze's remarks at a press conference were broadcast last night (February 20) on Vremya. He announced his election as president of his recently-established Foreign Policy Association. Shevardndadze said the aim of his association is not to second-guess the Foreign Ministry, but to help create a dialogue on current foreign policy issues. He stressed he wants to communicate the ideas of "new thinking" abroad so that they are better understood. Shevardnadze criticized the Kremlin's domestic policy and said "if the destabilization process continues, if the Soviet people cannot stabilize the situation and remove social tension, a civil war will come," TASS reported February 20. (Suzanne Crow) SHEVARDNADZE COMMENTS ON GULF. Commenting on the Gulf crisis, Shevardnadze revealed that the Soviet Union had formulated a peace plan for Iraq on January 10-11 but the plan was never submitted due to problems "of an organizational nature." He did not indicate whether the plan's elements were contained in the USSR's subsequent peace plans. Shevardnadze also said "even if there's only one chance of success" the Soviet dialogue should continue with Iraq in the interests of saving human lives, TASS reported February 20. (Suzanne Crow) TASS OMITS REMARKS SYMPATHETIC TO KUWAIT. In his press conference yesterday, Shevardnadze pointed out that "not enough attention is given to the sufferings of the Kuwaiti people. No one has said yet how many people were killed there, how many people were executed there." "When we talk about the victims in Iraq we must not forget about what happened in Kuwait and why the Security Council took the resolution you all know about," Reuter reported. Similar comments were made by Foreign Minister Aleksandr Bessmertnykh before the Supreme Soviet on February 19 and reported by AP. (See Daily Report February 20.) TASS, however, omitted both sets of comments in its coverage of the Shevardnadze and Bessmertnykh statements. (Suzanne Crow) MINIMUM CONSUMER BUDGET. Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov told the USSR Supreme Soviet on February 20 that a Presidential Decree will be issued soon on the minimum consumer budget (APN, February 20). This will incorporate approximately 300 consumer goods and services (the Shatalin program listed some 150). The minimum consumer budget will presumably provide the basis for recalculating the criteria for the poverty level, the minimum wage, and the minimum pension. (Keith Bush) BOOST FOR OIL INDUSTRY. The USSR Cabinet of Ministers has earmarked an extra 25 billion rubles for emergency measures in 1991 to boost oil output (The Financial Times, February 21). The money will be used to finance emergency technical re-equipment of the oilfields and social measures to improve living conditions for oil workers and their families. Oil production associations will be allowed to retain 70% of the export earnings from any oil produced above the level of state orders. The producer price of crude will be raised from an average of 23-25 rubles a ton to an average of 70 rubles a ton. This decision follows warnings of sharp cuts in output and net export totals. (Keith Bush) YANAEV ELECTION UPHELD. The tellers' commission told the USSR Supreme Soviet on February 18 it had investigated allegations by the Interregional Deputies' Group that there were irregularities in Gennadii Yanaev's election as USSR vice-president. Radio Moscow reported that day that the commission admitted that it was itself to blame, since it "gave out more voting slips than were shown in the protocol on the voting on December 27." But, the commission said, this was "a purely technical mistake" that did not invalidate Yanaev's election. (Elizabeth Teague) CONTROVERSY OVER TV BROADCASTING ON MILITARY ISSUES. Krasnaya zvezda (February 14) published a reader's letter criticizing an order signed in December 1990 by Gosteleradio chief Leonid Kravchenko and Defense Minister Dmitrii Yazov on the creation of the "Creative Production TV and Radio Society, Radar." According to the order, the new society is to be in charge of the preparation of TV and radio broadcasts on military issues. The broadcasts are to help in "promoting the prestige of the USSR Armed Forces and unity between the army and the people." In January, Moskovskii komsomolets published an article charging that Kravchenko and Yazov want to replace popular political shows like Vzglyad with military propaganda. Answering to the criticism in Krasnaya zvezda, general director of "Radar" Colonel V. Voloshin said that no connection should be drawn between Vzglyad and "Radar," since the latter was created after Vzglyad stopped broadcasting. (Vera Tolz) AKHROMEEV CALLS FOR BAN ON SUPSOV BROADCASTS. On February 18, the opening day of its present session, the USSR Supreme Soviet received a letter from Gorbachev adviser Marshal Sergei Akhromeev, demanding that the hours of daily television and radio broadcasting of the USSR and RSFSR Supreme Soviets should be stopped. Radio Moscow reported on February 18 that Akhromeev said the broadcasts "cause much more harm than good, although he admits they are watched by tens of millions of viewers." (Elizabeth Teague) SUPSOV DEBATES CAUSING MARITAL DISPUTES. Radio Moscow also reported on February 18 that, attached to Akhromeev's demand, there was a letter from an irate listener who said the broadcasts made him quarrel with his wife. "The country has turned into a madhouse and a cuckoo's nest," the listener, an inhabitant of Ivanovo called Savichev, wrote. Radio Moscow added that the letter included "very rude, even gross" accusations against Yeltsin. On February 19 Vremya reported that, so rude were the comments about Yeltsin, Akhromeev's behavior in circulating Savichev's letter had been referred to the Supreme Soviet's Ethics Committee. (Elizabeth Teague) USSR - IN THE REPUBLICS ANTI-YELTSIN CAMPAIGN INTENSIFYING. For the second day in a row, today's (February 21) afternoon edition of the TSN news was replaced with an anti-Yeltsin broadcast. Today's program opened with Yeltsin's deputy, Svetlana Goryacheva, reading a statement attacking all Yeltsin's activities in the RSFSR Supreme Soviet. The statement, blaming Yeltsin for the republic's economic problems and for the USSR's disintegration, was signed by two of Yeltsin's three deputies, and by the chairmen of both the RSFSR Supreme Soviet's houses and their deputies. The signatories demanded an extraordinary session of the RSFSR Congress of People's Deputies, empowered to replace the Supreme Soviet's chairman. Unlike yesterday, today's debates following Goryacheva's statement were not aired. (Julia Wishnevsky) YOUNG RUSSIANS DISILLUSIONED WITH COMMUNISM. Seventeen million members have quit the Komsomol in the past two years. According to TASS on February 15, the Communist Youth League consists today of 24 million members, compared to 42 million members in 1988. In contrast to the CPSU, the Komsomol was been strongly decentralized last year with the center playing only a coordinating role vis-a-vis republican youth organizations. According to an opinion poll of young people in Russia, sponsored by Readers' Digest and published by The Washington Times on February 19, Russian youth reject socialism and favor private ownership, freedom of the press, dismantling the Soviet empire, and close cooperation with the West. (Alexander Rahr) METROPOLITAN CRITICIZES PUBLICATION ON MURDERED PRIEST. Metropolitan Yuvenalii of Krutitsi and Kolomna expressed in a letter to Izvestia published on February 7 his sorrow about the fact that information smearing the reputation of Russian Orthodox priest Fr. Lazar, murdered at the end of December 1990, was supplied by investigating organs to the press. Izvestia published this information on January 31. The Metropolitan wrote in his letter that "the death of a man is being used for intensifying anticlerical, antireligious attitudes". (Oxana Antic) USSR SUPSOV VOTES TO IMPOSE STATE OF EMERGENCY IN SOUTH OSSETIA. On February 20 the USSR Supreme Soviet voted to impose a state of emergency in South Ossetia if the Georgian authorities do not themselves extend the state of emergency throughout the oblast and take steps to halt fighting there. The Georgian Supreme Soviet was also instructed to end the blockade of Tskhinavli and restore electricity and fuel supplies to the city. (Liz Fuller) TWO KILLED AS MVD TROOPS ARREST PARAMILITARIES. Two members of the unofficial Georgian militia Mkhedrioni were shot dead on February 20 in the south-east Georgian town of Kvareli by USSR Interior Ministry troops sent to detain them. According to one report (Reuter), one bystander, a priest, also died in the shooting. National Democratic Party chairman Giorgi Chanturia told a news conference in Tbilisi that 60 Mkhedrioni members have been taken into custody. (Liz Fuller) MASS RALLIES MARK THIRD ANNIVERSARY OF NAGORNO-KARABAKH CAMPAIGN FOR SELF-DETERMINATION. More than half a million people attended a rally in Erevan on February 20 to mark the third anniversary of the passing by the Nagorno-Karabakh oblast soviet of a resolution calling on the Supreme Soviets of Azerbaijan and Armenia for the transfer of the oblast from Azerbaijan to Armenia "in accordance with the wishes of the workers of the NKAO", Radio Moscow reports. According to TASS, similar demonstrations calling for the transfer of the NKAO to Armenia took place yesterday in the oblast capital, Stepanakert, and four other towns. (Liz Fuller) SHOULD BELORUSSIA QUIT THE UN? Arguing that the Belorussian SSR gets "nothing in return" for the $10 million it gives each year to the United Nations, a commentator in a new publication called Slavyanskie vedomosti said Belorussia should withdraw from the UN and UNESCO and use the money saved to help the victims of Chernobyl. Other materials in the first issue are pro-Iraqi and strongly anti-American: an introductory note says that the natural resources of the Slavs are being sold out to American-Israeli interests. The professional-looking newspaper is printed at facilities owned by the Central Committee of the Belorussian CP. (Kathy Mihalisko) "RUKH" TO DEFINE STAND ON REFERENDUM. The Ukrainian opposition grouped in "Rukh" will take a definitive stand on the March 17 referendum at a session of its Grand Council on February 23, Ukrinform-TASS reported on February 20. The announcement was made by a "Rukh" representative at a press conference on February 20. Meanwhile, the Council of the Ukrainian Republican Party has issued a statement urging all those participating in the referendum to vote against the preservation of the Soviet Union "in any form whatsoever." (Roman Solchanyk) DRAFT FIGURES FROM UKRAINE. Despite earlier problems, the fall military draft plan in Ukraine was 91.1% fulfilled, a recent meeting of the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet Committee for Youth Affairs revealed. Komsomol'skoe znamya of February 13 reported that of this total, 45.4% requested service in Ukraine. By military district, the final figures were: Kiev MD - 89.8% (36.6%); Odessa MD - 89.2% (34%); Carpathian MD - 91.5% (65.4%). Speakers nevertheless noted that the number of draft evaders had reached record numbers (some 1,500 in the Kiev MD alone). There were also rumors at the meeting that the General Staff has formed a security unit (company) composed of recruits from Ukraine. (Stephen Foye) NATURAL GAS DISCOVERED IN DONBASS. Radio Kiev reported on February 2 that natural gas has been discovered in the Mar'inski district of Donetsk oblast. The first well has been completed and is ready to deliver natural gas to rural customers. (Valentyn Moroz) UKRAINIAN MEDICS STAGE WARNING STRIKE, DECLINE MEDICINE FROM US. Medical workers in 19 Ukrainian regions staged a two-hour warning strike on February 20 in an attempt to draw attention to their social problems, reported Radio Kiev. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Health Ministry declined to accept a shipment of medicine from an unspecified American company delivered for Chernobyl victims, claiming that all medicines in the previous shipment from this firm expired before they reached Ukraine. (Valentyn Moroz) DIPHTHERIA OUTBREAK REPORTED IN UKRAINE. Radio Kiev reported on February 20 that 132 cases of diphtheria have been registered in Ukraine. In an interview, director of the Ukrainian Epidemology Institute Arkadii Frolov blamed "some" mass media outlets, which, according to him, have incorrectly but widely reported on the harmful effects of diphtheria immunization. This has led to a situation where there are now many adults who are not immunized. Medical authorities, he said, did not react to the situation seriously. (Valentyn Moroz) TRANSITION TO MARKET ECONOMY IN UKRAINE GAINING SPEED. Radio Kiev on February 17, citing the republican Statistics Committee, reported progress toward a market economy. While every fifth state enterprise is losing money and private farming is still in its infancy, the number of private and cooperative enterprises outside of agriculture is steadily growing. There are almost 35,000 cooperatives in Ukraine, while the number of intermediary (go-between) firms has reached over 500. The most profitable are those engaged in services and foreign trade. (Valentyn Moroz) UKRAINIAN RETAILERS BANKRUPT WHILE BUDGET DEFICIT INCREASES. Ukrinform/TASS reported on February 19 that the January 1 wholesale price rises have not yet been matched by appropriate retail price rises. As a result, many state retailers are selling below cost and find themselves on the verge of bankruptcy. The Ukrainian government has decided to allow the sale of perishable goods at old prices and has promised compensation later. Retail price increases, however, will require compensation for low-income segments of the population; this in turn, is expected to cost the government some 30 billion rubles annually, while the republican budget is already plagued by deficits. (Valentyn Moroz) UZBEK STATE BANK GIVEN AUTONOMY. Radio Vatandash, the Tashkent station broadcasting to Uzbeks living abroad, reported on February 20 that Uzbekistan's Supreme Soviet has granted full autonomy to the republic's state bank. According to the report, the State Bank of Uzbekistan may now control the amount of money in circulation in the republic. (Timur Kocaoglu) FOURTH UNIVERSITY TO BE OPENED IN UZBEKISTAN. According to the February 15 issue of Sovet Ozbekistani, Uzbek President Islam Karimov has signed a decree on the creation of a Fergana State University, which is to train specialists to deal with the economic and social problems of Uzbekistan and provide desperately needed advanced technological skills. (Timur Kocaoglu) PRINT-RUNS OF PERIODICALS DOWN IN UZBEKISTAN. The February 15 issue of Pravda vostoka reports that the print-runs of periodicals published in Uzbekistan is down 40 percent in comparison with 1990. The drop is attributed to the increase in subscription prices. (Timur Kocaoglu) COMMERCIAL DATA BANK IN KAZAKHSTAN. A computerized data bank has been set up under the auspices of Kazakhstan's new State Supply Committee to provide information on potential business partners to republican enterprises, according to a TASS report of February 20. So far the bank has assembled data on 4,500 enterprises, and information on plants that have unused factory floor space or extra equipment and raw material. According to the report, the bank has been empowered by a group of firms in the RSFSR to conclude direct agreements to sell their products. The bank is to be connected with similar commercial data banks in Western Europe via an all-Union marketing center. (Bess Brown) AMNESTY PROPOSED IN TURKMENISTAN. TASS, quoting Izvestia, reported on February 20 that Turkmen president Saparmurad Niyazov has proposed a partial amnesty for persons who have been imprisoned for their roles in various "cotton affairs" in recent years. A number of Party and government officials, as well as ordinary farm workers, have been arrested for falsifying cotton production figures, bribery, and concealing actual amounts of land sown to cotton (a common trick to raise output). The amnesty, Niyazov told the republican presidential council, should apply only to those drawn involuntarily into the "cotton affairs." (Bess Brown) LAND REFORM IN KYRGYZSTAN. TASS reported on February 19 that Kirgiz president Askar Akaev's decree on land reform has been made public. Although Akaev had earlier said that he favored privatization of land-holding, the decree envisages "privatization" only of lands that are being improperly used, which will be placed in a special fund under local soviets. The republican government is to develop ways to transform unsuccessful state and collective farms into peasants' associations or cooperatives, or assign the land to leaseholders. Sovkhozes and kolkhozes may not, however, be forcibly transformed into something else. (Bess Brown) MOLDAVIA WILL NOT HOLD REFERENDUM ON PRESERVING USSR. The Moldavian Supreme Soviet voted 184 to 66, with 29 abstentions, on February 19 to invalidate on Moldavia's territory the USSR law of December 27, 1990 on referendum and the USSR Supreme Soviet resolution of January 16, 1991 on holding an all-union referendum on preserving the USSR. The all-union referendum is scheduled for March 17. President Mircea Snegur, Prime Minister Mircea Druc, and other leaders spoke up against holding the referendum. The voting was largely along ethnic lines. Russian and Gagauz leaders in eastern and southern Moldavia have announced plans to hold the referendum in the areas under their control despite parliament's decisions. (Vladimir Socor) MOLDAVIA FOR CONFEDERATION, NOT RENEWED UNION. The same session of the Moldavian Supreme Soviet February 19 approved by 202 votes to 76, with 1 abstention, a document entitled "On the Formation of an Association of Sovereign States," proposing the formation of a confederation practically devoid of a center of power. The concept, authored by a group of Moldavian experts under Moldavian Supreme Soviet Vice-President Victor Puscasu, enlarges on the same group's project aired last year in multilateral consultations over the draft Union treaty. While the member states of the confederation are endowed with remarkably wide powers under this concept, the center virtually disappears. The Moldavian Supreme Soviet voted to propose this concept to the Union republics. (Vladimir Socor) [as of 1300 CET] Compiled by Patrick Moore and Sallie Wise
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