|Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand. - Thomas Carlyle|
No. 40, 26 February 1991
BALTIC STATES FINLAND: BALTS MUST NEGOTIATE. Finnish Foreign Minister Harri Holkeri told Die Welt on February 26 that the only way "to self-determination for the Baltic states is through negotiations." The three Baltic states have repeatedly called on Moscow to start bona fide talks toward independence. Holkeri also remarked that the Cold War "is not over yet, unfortunately... We must first recognize [the fact that] is isn't so easy for the superpowers to proceed with the process of detente." (Riina Kionka) ASYLUM NOT AUTOMATIC IN FINLAND. Baltic men who flee their Soviet military units will not automatically receive asylum in Finland, according to a February 25 report in Der Spiegel. Some 20 Baltic soldiers who have left their Soviet military units are currently seeking asylum in Finland; their applications are being handled on a case-by-case basis, Finnish Interior Minister Jarmo RantaneA told Der Spiegel. The policy is neither new nor a surprise; it has long been Finland's practice to repatriate Soviet citizens, a fact that is well known in the Baltic states. (Riina Kionka) BALTS AT NORDIC COUNCIL MEETING. Baltic parliamentary delegations (Estonians led by Supreme Council Chairman Arnold Ruutel, Latvians led by Supreme CouncAl Chairman Anatolijs Gorbunovs, and Lithuanians led by Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Council Bronius Kuzmickas) arrAved on February 25 in Copenhagen to participate as guests at the Nordic Council session and met that day with DanisA Foreign Minister Uffe Elleman-Jensen. The Nordic CouncilA is expected to devote March 1 to Baltic issues, Radio Riga reported February 26. According to TASS February 25, Soviet Foreign Ministry spokesman Yurii Gremitskikh warned the Nordic Council against adopting positions, presumably concerning the Baltics, that would amount to interference in the internal affairs of the USSR. (Dzintra Bungs) CLARIFICATION ON LATVIAN-USSR TALKS. Deputy Chairman of Latvia's Supreme Council Andrejs Krastins told Radio Riga February 22 that two prevalent misconceptions need to be corrected. He said that the Supreme Council is not drafting a new Constitution and that it is guided by the prewar Satversme (Constitution) of the Republic of Latvia. He explained also that in response to USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev's February 1 decree appointing a Soviet delegation for talks with the Latvian SSR, Latvia has only chosen a group for consultations with that delegation because the Latvian SSR is "a non-existent state." Krastins added that Latvian-USSR talks would be "very desirable." (Dzintra Bungs) USSR WANTS MORE BUDGETARY SUPPORT FROM LATVIA. Finance Minister Elmars Silins told Diena on February 25 that he is recommending to the Supreme Council that it reject Latvia's participation in the USSR Stabilization Fund (which would demand 1 billion rubles from Latvia). Silins thought that since the Fund's money would be invested primarily in the Central Asian republics, Latvia would lose most of it. On February 14, Diena reported that, according to Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis, agreement had been reaAhed with the USSR whereby Latvia would conduct independAntly all hard currency transactions; nonetheless, Latvia would be obliged to pay to the USSR 120-135 million rubles over a four-year period. (Dzintra Bungs) CULTURAL CONFERENCE IN VILNIUS. A conference, entitled "Culture as an Argument for State Independence," organized by the Lithuanian filial of the I LAisve (Towards Freedom) Fund, based in the US, was held in Vilnius on February 24 (RFE Lithuanian Service, February 2A). About 10 speeches were given by Lithuanian literary critics, poets, and philosophers, including former Lithuanian Deputy Prime Minister Romualdas Ozolas andA Arvydas Juozaitis, one of the founding members of Sajudis. ASaulius Girnius) AUSTRIAN PARLIAMENT PRESIDENT IN VILNIUS. Austrian Parliament President Heinz Fischer told journalists in Vilnius on February 25 that he sees little hope for a compromise between the Soviet leadership and the Baltic republics, DPA reported that day. Fischer is one of the members of a Socialist International delegation from Austria, France, Great Britain, Sweden, and Spain that met in Moscow with CPSU Central Committee secretary Valentin Falin. Fischer said that while there had been hope for a compromise on independence during the summer, "the position of Moscow towards the three Baltic republics has clearly become sharper." The delegation plans to travel to Riga and Tallinn. (Saulius Girnius) USSR--ALL-UNION TOPICS WARSAW PACT MILITARY ALLIANCE DISSOLVED. On February 25, the six countries of the Warsaw Pact agreed to disband the military structures of the 36-year-old alliance, Western news agencies reported. According to the agreement, the military organization will cease to exist from March 31 of this year. The six also agreed to meet in Prague in July to discuss ending the alliance's political component. In statements made on "Vremya," both USSR Foreign Minister Aleksandr Bessmertnykh and USSR Defense Minister Dmitrii Yazov called for future security arrangements among Pact members to be conducted on the basis of bilateral agreements. (Stephen Foye) GORBACHEV'S CABINET NOMINATIONS. President Mikhail Gorbachev submitted a list of 23 candidates to the USSR Supreme Soviet yesterday for approval as members of the newly created Cabinet of Ministers, TASS and Interfax reported February 25. The list inAludes the names of a number of former USSR ministers, including Vladimir Kryuchkov (KGB), Dmitrii Yazov (defense), OAkolai Konarev (transportation), Vyacheslav Kolesnikov (electronics industry), Igor' Koksanov (shipbuilding), Vladimir Brezhnev (transport construction), Grigorii Gabrielyants (geology), Yurii Vol'mer (maritime fleet), Sergei LushchikovA(justice), and Yurii Semenov (power and electrification). New nominees include Vladimir Orlov (finance), Gennadii Kudryavtsev (communications), and Vyacheslav Chernovainov (agriculture--a ministry that had been abolished and will Aow apparently be revived). Gorbachev also asked for the aAAroval of former trade union chief Vladimir Shcherbakov, Fedor Sen'ko, and Lev Ryabov as deputy premiers. The USSROASupreme Soviet has already approved the nominations of foreign minister Aleksandr Bessmertnykh, interior minister Boris Pugo and four other deputy prime ministers. (Alexander Rahr) USSR SUPREME SOVIET RESOLUTION ON REFERENDUM. A resolution of the USSR Supreme Soviet adopted February 25 declares that the oAinion polls on independence being held in various republics do not constitute a legal basis for not holding the March 17 referendum on the preservation of the USSR and orders the offending republics to take immediate steps to hold the referendum. At the same time, the resolution, reported by TASS and Radio Moscow, empowers local soviets and labor collectives in republics where no steps have been take to hold the referendum to set up their own polling stations. Contrary to an earlier forecast, the Supreme Soviet did not apparently discuss declaring invalid republican polls being held simultaneously. (Ann Sheehy) ORLOV ON REFERENDUM. Vladimir Orlov, chairman of the Central Referendum Commission, told the USSR Supreme Soviet February 25 that Azerbaijan was among the republics that had decided not to hold the March 17 referendum, TASS and Radio Moscow reported. As far as is known, however, Azerbaijan, unlike the other six republics named, has not yet refused to hold the referendum. Orlov said that preparations for referendum were in hand in eight of the union republics and 17 of the autonomous republics. He confirmed that a "no" vote in the March 17 referendum would not be tantamount to secession, and that a republic would still have to hold the referendum stipulated by the law on the mechanics of secession. (Ann Sheehy) NISHANOV SAYS REFERENDUM LEGITIMATE. In an article in Izvestia February 25, Rafik Nishanov, chairman of the USSR Council of Nationalities, rejected the argument put forward by a group of scholars in one of the central newspapers that the March 17 referendum was unconstitutional since the question posed was within the competence of the republics. Nishanov maintained that the question of the preservation of the Soviet Union was not the same as whether or not a republic should be part of the Soviet Union--as the scholars tried to argue. (Ann Sheehy) SELF-DETERMINATION FOR PEOPLE OR NATIONS? At the plenary session of republican representatives discussing the Union treaty held on February 25 there was a sharp dispute over whether peoples or nations should be guaranteed the right to self-determination, TASS reported. The Kazakh representative, who was supported by the Uzbek and other representatives, argued in favor of the word "nation," whereas the Belorussian, supported by the North Ossetian, said that to give the right of self-determination to nations rather than the people, i.e., the population of a republic, would lead to the fragmentation of the republics into smaller national-territorial units. A decision will be left to the Federation Council. (Ann Sheehy) NEW SOVIET PEACE PROPOSAL. TASS reported February 25 the Soviet Union's advancement of a new peace proposal at the United Nations Security Council. The proposal calls for the UNSC to set dates for the start and completion of an Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait. This plan would put a halt to the war and still allow for observance of the UNSC's resolutions on the Gulf conflict. (Suzanne Crow) BAGHDAD ACCEPTS, MAKES USSR GUARANTOR. Baghdad Radio's acceptance of the Soviet Union's latest peace plan makes the USSR Iraq's guarantor. Iraq communicated its acceptance through Soviet channels and asked for Soviet intervention to halt the US-led military effort. Iraq's reliance on the Soviet Union as guarantor could mean that differences between Baghdad and Moscow, which led to the fizzling of Soviet peace plans last week, have been overcome. Reuters carried the text of the Baghdad Radio statement February 26. (Suzanne Crow) GORBACHEV ASKS FOR CEASEFIRE. In line with the alleged plea from Saddam Hussein for Gorbachev to arrange a ceasefire, USSR Vice President Gennadii Yanaev told Radio Moscow on the evening of February 25 Gorbachev had telephoned U.S. President George Bush and requested a "reconsideration" of the war effort, Reuters said February 26. (Suzanne Crow) PRAVDA REPORTS ON GROUND WAR. Under the headline, "Eyewitness impressions," correspondent V. Belyakov wrote in Pravda February 25, "I am absolutely convinced that far more people have died in Iraq during the month or more of bombing than during the six-month Iraqi occupation of Kuwait." The correspondent characterized the actions of US military leaders as cold and sinister and offered the metaphor that the "allies headed by the United States preferred amputation to therapy." He concluded that the "whole secret of the all-out war" is to eliminate the Baghdad regime, TASS reported February 25. (Suzanne Crow) SOVIET MUSLIMS RALLY FOR IRAQ. As many as 5,000 Muslims in the autonomous Caucasian republic of Daghestan attended a rally on February 24, Interfax reported February 25. Speakers in the city of Makhachkala denounced military actions against Iraq and said they were ready to send volunteers and supplies to Iraq. Interfax said the demonstration was sponsored by the Muslim Religious Board for the North Caucasus. (George Stein/Suzanne Crow) SOVIET-SOUTH KOREAN ECONOMIC TALKS "NOT EASY." TASS reported February 25 the start of talks in Moscow to work out disagreements over Seoul's $3 billion aid package to Moscow. TASS said, "from the very start of the negotiations, it was clear that they wouldn't be easy." TASS did not elaborate on the dispute. (Suzanne Crow) SOVETSKAYA ROSSIYA ON BERING SEA TREATY. A February 7 Sovetskaya Rossiya article characterized the June 1990 US-Soviet treaty setting the countries' maritime borders as a sellout of Soviet interests. Blaming Shevardnadze personally, the article said the USSR's position was passive, compromising, and erroneous. The article accused the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of failing to consult public opinion and the Soviet leadership, and of concealing documents from the USSR Supreme Soviet. The MFA, the article charged, did "not properly perform its main function: contractual-legal support for the country's interests." The article's emphasis on the illegality of the MFA's actions suggests that conservatives are searching for a legal basis for retracting "new thinking." (Suzanne Crow) CASTRO HOPES USSR REMAINS SUPERPOWER. On February 25 TASS reported Cuban leader Fidel Castro's remarks to a closed Party conference in Havana on February 24, calling for the USSR to remain a superpower. "If the Soviet Union does not preserve itself as a great power, it would entail dramatic consequences for the whole world," Castro was quoted as saying. Castro also said that "any experiment with a multiparty system" would be unacceptable for Cuba because it would mean "chaos, anarchy, and the abscence of a consistent political line," a remark that seemed to imply criticism of the USSR's attempts at political reform. (Suzanne Crow) INSURANCE FOR SOLDIERS. A top Defense Ministry spokesman told Izvestia February 25 that the heirs of soldiers killed performing military service (presumably in peacetime) will receive an insurance payment of 25,000 rubles, TASS reported. Those soldiers who become invalids as a result of military service will receive between 5,000 and 15,000 rubles, while those who sustain injuries will be eligible for 500 to 1,000 rubles. Colonel General Vladimir Bab'ev said that 285 million rubles have been set aside in the 1991 state military budget for this purpose. Insurance for servicemen was mandated by a presidential decree issued earlier this year. (Stephen Foye) RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH THANKS GERMANY FOR SUPPORT. The Moscow Department for External Church Relations issued a press-release on February 25 thanking a number of German ministries and other institutions for 400 million DM worth of goods donated to the Russian Orthodox Church and other churches in the Soviet Union. The convoy with the donations was delayed at the Polish border for almost three weeks because of a dispute concerning customs formalities. (Oxana Antic) OLD BELIEVERS' JOURNAL BEING REVIVED. TASS reported February 14 that the latest issue of the journal Rodina contains a trial issue of the defunct journal Tserkov. The Old Believer Metropolitan See of Moscow and all Russia is attempting to revive Tserkov. (Oxana Antic) THE UBIQUITOUS "BISHOP VIKENTII." Moskovskii tserkovnyi vestnik No. 2, 1991, reported that in readers' letters to the journal, inquiring about new autocephalian bishops in Ukraine, the name of "Bishop Vikentii," a priest of the Catacomb church, has been mentioned. The journal also quotes several Metropolitans of the Russian Orthodox Church who maintain that Fr. Vikentii has not been consecrated by a hierarch of this church, although he is a former diacon. A declaration of the Bishops' Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, published in the same issue, also says that a certain Vikentii Tchekalin, who claims to be a bishop of the Catacomb Church (which is recognized by the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad), is not a bishop. Early in February, Izvestia reported the appearance of the Russian Greek-Catholic Church--also headed by a "Bishop Vikentii." (Oxana Antic) USSR--IN THE REPUBLICS GAMZAKHURDIA REFUSES TO IMPOSE STATE OF EMERGENCY. Georgian president Zviad Gamsakhurdia sent a letter, released yesterday, to USSR Supreme Soviet chairman Anatolii Luk'yanov in which he rejected the USSR Supreme Soviet's demand that Georgia declare a state of emergency throughout South Ossetia, TASS reported February 25. Gamzakhurdia did offer to hold talks with South Ossetia, provided Ossetian militants stop their activities. (NCA) SIX DEAD, EIGHT INJURED IN SOUTH OSSETIAN VIOLENCE. On Sunday, four people were killed and eight wounded in an attack on the village of Avnevi, TASS reported February 25. Interfax and Postfactum reported the same day that two ethnic Georgians were killed nearby. USSR Minister of the Interior Boris Pugo told the USSR Supreme Soviet yesterday that 33 people have died in 1991 in ethnic clashes between Georgians and South Ossetians, TASS reported February 25. (NCA) YELTSIN'S POPULARITY SHRINKS. The All-Union Center for Public Opinion Research has conducted a survey in 11 major cities in the RSFSR, soliciting citizens' opinions on the possible resignation of Boris Yeltsin. According to TSN February 26, 20% favor Yeltsin's resignation, but 46% opposed it; 44% are undecided. This last figure in particular indicates that Yeltsin's popularity has diminished since his election as chairman of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet last year. (Alexander Rahr) MOSCOW TEACHERS STAGE ONE-DAY STRIKE. Teachers at almost 50 Moscow schools staged a one-day strike Monday to press demands for better funding for education and smaller classes, TASS reported February 25. Vsevolod Lukhovksy, a spokesman for the strike committee, told TASS that "the state of public education in Moscow is simply catastrophic. [The city] was short of 3,500 teachers last year. Most school buildings are half-ruined. One hundred or even two hundred percent more children than officially allowed are packed into each classroom." Furthermore, he added, teachers are overburdened and underpaid. The chairman of the USSR State Committee on Public Education, Gennadii Yagodin, announced the same day that teachers' pay will be increased, but he did not say when or by how much, TASS reported. (Dawn Mann) RSFSR SUPPLY ORGANIZATIONS THREATEN SANCTIONS AGAINST UKRAINE. The "Edinstvo" association of suppliers of the North Caucasus and Non-Black-Earth Zone has threatened sanctions against Ukraine if enterprises in Ukraine continue to refuse to sign agreements to deliver goods to the RSFSR, Izvestia reported February 18. "Edinstvo" has the backing of three other RSFSR supply associations--"Povol'zhe," "Sodruzhestvo," and "Ural-Sib." A recent meeting of representatives of Ukraine and the RSFSR in Donetsk noted that the recent bilateral agreement between the RSFSR and Ukraine had not led to an improvement in mutual deliveries of supplies. (Ann Sheehy) UKRAINIAN MINERS DELEGATION TO KIEV. A specially formed commission representing Donbass strike committees and the independent miners' trade union in Ukraine has arrived in Kiev for negotiations with the government, Radio Kiev reported February 25. The miners are demanding a wage increase and other benefits. If their demands are not met, the miners say that they will begin a strike on March 1. (Roman Solchanyk) ATTEMPTS TO DEFINE GOVERNMENT-LABOR UNION RELATIONS. Radio Kiev reported February 25 that the chairman of the Ukrainian Council of Ministers met with chairman of the Ukrainian Independent Union Council, A. Kovalevsky, in order to discuss what form the relationship between the unions and the government should take in a market economy. Social protection measures were also discussed during the meeting. (Valentyn Moroz) MARSHAL AKHROMEEV BLASTS MOLDAVIAN LEADERSHIP. Addressing the USSR Supreme Soviet on February 25, Marshal Sergei Akhromeev, military adviser to Gorbachev, and coincidentally a deputy from Moldavia, charged that "the Moldavian Popular Front and the republican leadership at its head are in favor of Moldavia's leaving the USSR and of the elimination of socialism." He further accused Kishinev of duplicity: "The republican leadership is allegedly in favor of a confederation, but...in this case confederation is a screen, its real meaning being the break-up of the Union." Akhromeev also attacked the notion that the "Moldavian people" are Romanian. His remarks were carried in extenso by Central Television last night. (Vladimir Socor) CREATION OF ISLAMIC RENAISSANCE PARTY IN TURKMENISTAN DISCOURAGED. Emissaries from Moscow and businessmen from Iran and Afghanistan have been trying to set up a branch of the Islamic Renaissance Party in Turkmenistan, Izvestia reported February 18. Their efforts are being opposed by the kazi of Turkmenistan and the government official in charge of religious affairs. The branch of the party set up in Tajikistan in 1990 has been continually harassed by the authorities, and some of the participants of the founding congress of the Party in Uzbekistan on January 26 were fined for holding an authorized assembly. (Ann Sheehy) FRUNZE LENIN MUSEUM UP FOR SALE. In response to a request for premises to house their organizations, Kirgiz president Askar Akaev has suggested that local associations, political parties, and public movements collect money and buy the building of the Frunze branch of the Lenin museum from the CPSU Central Committee, Izvestia reported February 18. The marble extravagance is virtually standing empty. (Ann Sheehy) CHUKCHI SEPARATE THEMSELVES FROM MAGADAN OBLAST. The Chukchi Autonomous Okrug is to be known officially as the Chukchi Soviet Autonomous Republic and will cease to be part of Magadan oblast, Izvestia reported February 18. A final decision on the okrug's status was taken at the February session of the soviets of Chukotka. The decision confirms the declaration of sovereignty adopted by the okrug soviet on September 29. (Ann Sheehy) FIRST CONFERENCE OF ASSYRIANS OF THE USSR. The first conference of the Assyrians of the USSR was held recently in Moscow, Izvestia reported February 18. Representatives of the widely-scattered 30,000-strong Soviet Assyrian community discussed their plight as a result of interethnic tensions in Transcaucasia and Central Asia and the role of Soviet Assyrians in the international movement. An Assyrian Congress of the USSR was set up, and it was decided to hold an all-Union congress of Assyrians in 1991. (Ann Sheehy) CORRECTIONS: The Georgian Supreme Soviet had until February 23 (not until February 25, as was reported in yesterday's Daily Report) to declare a state of emergency in South Ossetia. The number of participants in the February 22 demonstration in support of glasnost' was estimated at several tens of thousands, not several thousand as was reported in yesterday's Daily Report.
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