The salvation of mankind lies only in making everything the concern of all. - Alexander Solzhenitsyn
RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 41, 27 February 1991





BALTIC STATES



LAURISTIN BUST REMOVED. The bust of Estonian Communist leader
Johannes Lauristin has been removed from the courtyard of Toompea
Castle, seat of the Estonian government, Paevaleht reported February
26. Tallinn's Deputy Mayor Irina Raud said the bust was removed
at the family's request. Johannes Lauristin joined the ECP in
1917 and died fleeing the advancing German Army in 1941. His
daughter Marju, a strong proponent of Estonian independence outside
the USSR, is the current deputy speaker of Estonia's Supreme
Council. (Riina Kionka)

NORDIC COUNCIL REJECTS SOVIET WARNING. On February 26 Nordic
Council leaders rejected as "unacceptable" the USSR warning of
February 25 that Nordic support for Baltic independence amounted
to interference in the Soviet Union's internal affairs. Council
President Anker Joergensen said that the Council regards its
political support for the Baltics as "work for democracy and
parliamentarianism," AP reported February 26. The Council plans
to devote a part of its four-day session specifically to Baltic
issues and parliamentary delegations from Estonia, Latvia, and
Lithuania are attending the session as the Council's guests.
(Dzintra Bungs)

OPPOSITION FACTION RETURNS TO LATVIAN PARLIAMENT. Radio Riga
reported February 26 that the Ravnopravie faction had resumed
work at the Latvian Supreme Council. The pro-Moscow group comprises
less than one-third of the Council's deputies. They had boycotted
the Council since January 13 essentially in an effort to obtain
more say both in the Council and the government, where the views
of majority People's Front faction tend to dominate. Although
this was the longest walkout they had staged, their absence did
not impede the Council's work. The return came about as a result
of negotiations in the Inter-Faction Bureau, consisting of deputies
from both factions, that was created on February 21. (Dzintra
Bungs)

RUSSIAN DEMOCRATS FOR LATVIAN INDEPENDENCE. On February 24, Russian
democratic organizations met in Riga to discuss the independence
poll in Latvia on March 3. According to Radio Riga February 25,
they adopted a resolution supporting Latvia's independence and
urging residents to vote affirmatively in the poll. Radio Riga
also reported that polling stations had been opened throughout
Latvia, but not all of them were open at the designated time,
and that some older people were inadvertently casting invalid
"ballots" because they did not follow rigorously the directions.
(Dzintra Bungs)

INTERNATIONAL ROADS FEDERATION TO HELP BALTICS. Diena reported
February 26 that at a recent conference of the International
Roads Federation in Hamburg, it was decided to improve the road
system in the Baltics, especially the transit links from Helsinki
through Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania to Warsaw. The conference
noted that these communications and transit problems should be
solved in the next two years. Baltic ministers are to meet in
March to discuss the possibilities of modernizing and rearranging
the Baltic railway system. (Dzintra Bungs)

INDONESIA, SOUTH KOREA, BELGIUM INTERESTED IN TRADE WITH LATVIA.
According to Radio Riga and Diena February 26, Indonesian and
South Korean diplomats stationed in Moscow recently visited Riga
to discuss expanding trade between Latvia and their countries.
Indonesia, for example, would want Latvian minibuses, electronics,
and pharmaceuticals in return for coffee, cocoa, and vegetable
oil. Diena also reported about plans to establish an economic
partnership between Riga and the Belgian city of Antwerp. (Dzintra
Bungs)

VILNIUS-BUDAPEST PARTNERSHIP. At a news conference held recently
in Budapest, Mayor Gabor Demszky announced that Budapest has
established city-partnership relations with the Lithuanian capital
of Vilnius. Demszky also said that the Local Government of Budapest
had sent medical aid worth 600,000 forint to Vilnius in January,
Magyar Hirlap reported February 23. (Petronela Gaal)

FOUR NEW LITHUANIAN MINISTERS. On February 26, the Lithuanian
Supreme Council approved four new ministers in a OBssion broadcast
live over Radio Kaunas. Rimvydas Raimondas Survila (born 1939)
is now Minister of Agriculture, Vilius Zidonis (born 1933) is
Minister of Material Resources, Elvyra KuBBviciene (born 1939)
is Minister of Finances, and Aleksandras Abisala (born 1955)
is Minister without Portfolio. The first three ministers replaced
Vytautas KnasBs, Romualdas Kozyrovicius, and Romualdas Sikorskis,
respectively, who had been temporarily appointed on January 17.
Minister without Portfolio is a new position; Abisala's primary
role will be managing discussions with the USSR. Survila and
Abisala temporarily give up their seats as deputies to the parliament.
(Saulius Girnius)

B LOOBUANIAN REPRESENTATIVE ON OBJECTIVES OF MOSCOW TALKS.
Deputy Chairman of the Lithuanian Supreme Council
Ceslovas Stankevicius told Radio Kaunas February 26 that he would
be flying to Moscow later that day. One of the main goals of
his trip is to meet USSR Deputy Prime Minister Vitalii Doguzhiev,
the leader of the USSR delegation on talks with Lithuania. Stankevicius
will try to clarify whether the talks will be a continuation
of the previous consultations, which had set up a structure for
future negotiations. No firm date for a meeting has been set.
(Saulius Girnius)



USSR--ALL-UNION TOPICS



GORBACHEV ATTACKS DEMOCRATS. USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev
warned of possible civil war in the Soviet Union in a speech
to Belorussian intellectuals (Central Television, February 26).
He accused RSFSR Supreme Soviet chairman Boris Yeltsin and Gavriil
Popov, chairman of the Moscow city soviet, of attempts to seize
power by force and dismember the Soviet Union. Gorbachev denounced
the "neo-Bolshevik tactics" of the radical opposition and charged
that democratic opposition groups and leaders are being directed
by "alien research centers." Gorbachev said the Soviet "left"
is in reality a "rightist opposition" because it rejects socialism
and favors capitalism. At a meeting with workers at a Minsk tractor
plant, Gorbachev accused Yeltsin of having "diverged from the
path of perestroika. He dismissed suggestions that he himself
has abandoned perestroika. (Alexander Rahr)

GORBACHEV ON UNION TREATY. Speaking at the Minsk tractor plant
February 26, Gorbachev forecast that republican representatives
working on the draft Union treaty would complete their work at
the latest by March 5, TASS reported; it will then be sent to
all the members of the Federation Council. The Soviet media have
spoken of good progress on the draft, but have also made plain
that differences still exist on several key points. Gorbachev
said the center should be have responsibility for defense, energy,
some fuel matters, railway transport, and communications. He
added that the March 17 referendum "opens the possibility to
advance more boldly towards a new, renewed Union." (Ann Sheehy)


GORBACHEV ON PRICE REFORM. In the same speech, Gorbachev said
that work on the draft agreement between the center and the republics
on price reform had been completed February 26. He added that
republican leaders will sign the document within the next three
or four days, after which the dates for raising retail prices
will be fixed. Gorbachev did not say whether the republics had
agreed on uniform measures of compensation, which had been the
major sticking point, with the more prosperous republics unwilling
to subsidize compensation in the Central Asian republics. (Ann
Sheehy)

GORBACHEV STRESSES CEASEFIRE. Speaking to workers in Minsk, Gorbachev
said yesterday the Middle East question should be settled as
a whole, otherwise: "we will be keeping a powderkeg capable of
destroying the world," AFP reported February 26. Gorbachev also
noted relations between the United States and Soviet Union are
"fragile" and said Moscow and Washington would have to show "a
great sense of responsibility" not to destroy what has so far
been achieved in improving ties. (Suzanne Crow)

SOVIET MEDIA COVERAGE OF GORBACHEV'S TRIP. "Vremya" led off its
broadcast last night with an extensive report on Gorbachev's
first day in Belorussia, and Central Television later broadcast,
in full, Gorbachev's speech to the Belorussian intelligentsia.
"Vremya" also showed footage of Gorbachev's discussion with assembly-line
workers in a tractor factory. Several workers told Gorbachev
that shop shelves are bare and that they have ration coupons
for which there are no goods. Gorbachev told them that he has
issued decrees stepping up the fight against economic sabotage
and speculation, but said that the workers must act on the spot,
too. (In December, Gorbachev issued a decree on the creation
of special workers' committees to monitor food and consumer goods
distribution; the committees have the power to close down enterprises
suspected of theft, hoarding, or speculation. (Dawn Mann)

DEMOCRATIC RUSSIA PLANS MARCH 10 DEMOS. Leonid Batkin, a leader
of Democratic Russia, said in a interview yesterday that the
organization is planning to organize demonstrations nationwide
on March 10 in support of Yeltsin and radical reform. "The intent
is for people, especially in the provinces, to know they are
part of something larger," Batkin said, according to the Washington
Post February 27. At a meeting held February 26 in Moscow, leaders
of DR called on Soviet citizens to "declare themselves openly
and unambiguously in opposition to the central administration
led by Gorbachev," Reuters reported today. (Dawn Mann)

AND CALLS FOR "NO" VOTE ON MARCH 17. Democratic Russian also
urged people to cast a "no" vote in the national referendum on
the future of the Soviet Union on March 17, TASS reported February
27. Vyachselav Volkov, coordinator of the work of the faction,
said the formulation of the question implies the restoration
of Communist and military structures. Democratic Russia adopted
a statement yesterday calling for the creation of a "Commonwealth
of Sovereign States" on the basis of a confederation. Leaders
of Democratic Russia regard the forthcoming referendum as an
opportunity to vote against Gorbachev and his policies. (Alexander
Rahr)

LATEST DIPLOMATIC EFFORTS. Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr
Belonogov briefed journalists February 26 on the Soviet Union's
latest diplomatic efforts. Belonogov said, since Iraq had met
the main goal of the UN resolutions, "we see no impediments or
reasons for not going ahead with a ceasefire." Belonogov also
stressed that "the fact of the start of an Iraqi withdrawal [represents]
a new element in the Gulf situation," TASS reported February
26. (Suzanne Crow)

IGNATENKO ON COOPERATION WITH US, SADDAM. Presidential assistant
and spokesman Vitalii Ignatenko said yesterday that "ground operations
could have waited if we had been able to integrate all of the
proposals of Bush and Gorbachev...and if it had been possible
to do all that through institutions and instruments of the UN
Security Council..." Looking forward, Ignatenko said the USSR
would cooperate with the United States in the UN. Asked if the
USSR would try to pressure the United States if it refused to
accept a ceasefire, Ignatenko said: "I don't think we will put
forth any type of pressure. That period in our affairs and diplomacy
is long gone," TASS reported February 26. (Suzanne Crow)

BESSMERTNYKH INTERVIEWED. The Soviet Union will play a role in
formulating the post-war security structures in the Persian Gulf
and the entire Middle East region, stressed Foreign Minister
Aleksandr Bessmertnykh in a TASS interview published February
26. The USSR has its own ideas, he said, and considers that a
security system cannot be established without the participation
of the USSR. TASS said Bessmertnykh "noted that the Soviet Union
with ever more effort will fight for its line of thinking, which
has always consisted of 'guaranteeing the interests of the Arab
people of Iraq, the Arab people of Kuwait, and the Arab people
of the whole region.'" (Suzanne Crow)to to

COMMENTARY ON GULF. TASS reported February 26 on a Radio Moscow
commentary by Vladislav Kozyakov that was highly critical of
the ground war. "According to a spokesman for the US military
command, the first day's losses were light, however this view
is hardly shared by the families of those Americans who were
killed or wounded." The commentary followed closely the line
taken in Soviet official statements and accused the US-led alliance
of exceeding UN mandates. Pravda said February 26, "America is
at the very height of the nationalistic, jingoistic fever, and
mass war psychosis is gripping the country," TASS reported. (Suzanne
Crow)

SOVIET OFFICER SAYS HUSSEIN FINISHED. The German newspaper Bild
February 26 quoted a Soviet officer as saying that Saddam Hussein
is finished militarily and that the allies should overthrow him.
Colonel Vladimir Nazarenko, identified as the General Staff's
expert on Iraq, said that Hussein now stands before "a catastrophic
military defeat," and that he hopes to save some military potential.
Nazarenko reportedly added that "with the Republican Guard [Hussein]
could maintain the dictatorship," but that he would be unable
to wage war in the Middle East. Nazarenko's comments--he also
called Hussein an "Arab Hitler"--contrast with anti-American
remarks made by other uniformed spokesmen. (Stephen Foye)

DEBT CRISIS LIKELY IN 1991. The latest issue of the OECD's Financial
Market Trends warns of a probable crisis this year in the Soviet
Union's external debt (Internaitonal Herald Tribune, February
27). At the end of 1990, the USSR's gross convertible currency
debt was estimated to be $52 billion, while its reserves "are
now well below minimal acceptable levels," accounting for 22
percent of imports. The OECD notes that "a basic problem is that
the sharp rise in debt has been accompanied by a virtual collapse
of central control over international payments. Many independent
banks and enterprises have begun to import or borrow overseas
without the authorization or even the knowledge of the central
authorities." (Keith Bush)

GENERAL STAFF CHIEF ON ARMY'S PROBLEMS. In Pravitel'stvennyi
vestnik February 26, General Mikhail Moiseev condemned "the separatist
strivings of political demagogues." He also said the army was
a stabilizing factor in the Soviet Union, but should not be used
to resolve domestic conflicts. While tacitly supporting the withdrawal
of Soviet troops from Eastern Europe and the disbandment of the
Warsaw Pact, Moiseev expressed concern about problems faced in
resettling the troops. He said 192,000 servicemen currently lack
housing and the number could reach 250,000 with the withdrawal
of forces from Germany and the proposed withdrawal from Poland.
(Stephen Foye)



USSR--IN THE REPUBLICS



GORBACHEV PROMISES MORE CHERNOBYL' AID. Gorbachev told the Belorussian
Supreme Soviet yesterday that the proposal submitted by the governments
and Supreme Soviets of Belorussia, Ukraine and the RSFSR for
the adoption of a USSR law providing more social and material
aid to people affected by the Chernobyl' nuclear power plant
explosion in 1986 "is entirely justified and logical, and the
national government will take the most effective steps to satisfy
them fully," TASS reported February 26. Gorbachev is scheduled
to visit the contaminated areas of Gomel and Mogilev. (Dawn Mann)


BELORUSSIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES MORE AID FOR CHERNOBYL' VICTIMS.
The Belorussian Supreme Soviet adopted the first in a proposed
package of laws dealing with the Chernobyl' nuclear power plant
accident, TASS reported February 25. Residents in the four zones
specified in the law will receive compensation--assuming the
government can find the funds. The estimated cost for implementation
of the law is 6 billion rubles; the republic's current budget
deficit is 3.5 billion rubles. Funds will be requested from the
all-Union authorities; the resolution accompanying the law also
instructs the republican Council of Ministers to take the necessary
concrete steps. (Dawn Mann)

DONBASS MINERS DIVIDED ON STRIKE. Yesterday's meeting of the
Regional Union of Donbass Strike Committees failed to agree on
the miners' strike announced for March 1, TASS reported February
26. Opinion is divided among those who want to go ahead with
the strike, those who are for a twenty-four hour strike that
would be renewed on March 11 should the miners' demands not be
met, and those who argued for a postponement in order to better
prepare for an all-Union strike. (Roman Solchanyk)

KARAGANDA MINERS PLAN ONE DAY STRIKE. The Karaganda miners have
decided to stage a one-day strike on March 1, Radio Moscow reported
February 26. Their demands are partly political (the conclusion
as soon as possible of the Union treaty on mutually advantageous
conditions for the republics) and partly economic (a single system
of price formation, increased wages, a common tax policy, and
improved supplies). (Ann Sheehy)

ENERGY BLOCKADE ENDING IN SOUTH OSSETIA. Kudzha Khundadze, a
spokesman for the Georgian Supreme Soviet, told Reuters February
26 that electricity was being restored in Tskhinvali, the capital
of South Ossetia. The Georgian Supreme Soviet is expected to
hold an emergency session today to discuss the situation in South
Ossetia. Boris Oleinik, deputy chairman of the USSR Supreme Soviet
Council of Nationalities, told Sovetskaya Rossiya February 26
that a national commission must be sent to Tbilisi and to South
Ossetia to negotiate a settlement. Oleinik said that Georgian
and Ossetian authorities would also be "invited to Moscow for
negotiations." Reuters reported February 26. (Dawn Mann)

SLIGHT MAJORITY IN LENINGRAD FOR PRESERVATION OF USSR. The Center
for the Study of Forecasts of Social Processes has conducted
a survey in Leningrad, soliciting citizens' opinions on the national
referendum to be held on March 17 on the preservation of the
USSR. According to Radio Moscow February 26, a slight majority--53%--favor
the preservation of the USSR. 29% are opposed; 18% are undecided.
Among those who say they would cast a "yes" vote on March 18,
34% favor a socialist state, while 43% are against a socialist
state. (Alexander Rahr)

UKRAINE TO HAVE ITS OWN BANKING SYSTEM? Radio Kiev reported February
25 that Ukrainian Supreme Soviet committees on planning, finance,
budget, prices, and economic reform held a special meeting in
order to discuss the creation of a Ukrainian banking system.
Participants noted that a republican banking system is needed
in order to circumvent the USSR State Bank's control over the
republic's wealth. They said that of the 120 billion ruble income
produced in Ukraine, only half stays in the republic, while the
rest is passed to Moscow, which then lends a portion of it back
to the republic at annual interest rates of 4-8%. Ukrainian anti-inflationary
measures are also rendered ineffective by the USSR State Bank's
monetary policy, they noted. While the republican money supply
decreased last year by 1.4 billion rubles, in the USSR it grew
by 25 billion. (Valentyn Moroz)

UZBEKISTAN BANS RELIGIOUS PARTIES. The recently-adopted Uzbek
law on public associations forbids, inter alia, the creation
of parties of a religious nature, TASS reported February 26.
The corresponding USSR law only forbids the creation of associations
whose aim to inflame religious discord. The authorities in the
Central Asian republics have shown themselves hostile to attempts
to set up Islamic parties on their territories, and have enlisted
the official clergy to argue that such parties are incompatible
with Islam. (Ann Sheehy)

UZBEK PEASANT PARTY'S CONGRESS RESCHEDULED. A congress of the
Democratic Party of Free Dekhkans (Peasants), set up to back
Uzbek peasants' demands for better living and working conditions,
has been rescheduled for March 27, Uzbek journalist Anvar Usmanov
told RFE/RL February 25. The authorities refused permission for
the congress to be held on February 23. They evidently feared
that dissatisfaction with widespread unemployment and pollution
in the Fergana valley, where the congress is to take place, could
influence voters in advance of the March 17 referendum. (NCA/Ann
Sheehy)

YANAEV, NISHANOV MEET SOVIET GERMANS. On February 25-26 USSR
Vice-President Gennadii Yanaev and chairman of the USSR Council
of Nationalities Rafik Nishanov met members of the organizing
committee of the congress of Soviet Germans due to convene March
11-15, TASS reported February 26. Yanaev and Nishanov said they
would try to see that the USSR Supreme Soviet take up the question
of annulling all repressive acts against the Soviet Germans and
that the Soviet government look into the status of the former
members of the labor army in which Soviet Germans served following
their deportation. They apparently made no promises, however,
on the Germans' main demand--the restoration of their autonomy.
(Ann Sheehy)

DAGESTANIS BEING EVICTED FROM GEORGIA? In an interview published
in Rabochaya tribuna February 13, Ramazan Abdulatipov, chairman
of the RSFSR Council of Nationalities, said there was a big campaign
to evict the 45,000 or so Dagestanis in Georgia from the republic.
He said the Georgian government was offering the Dagestanis "removal
expenses" of 30,000 rubles, which was not enough to buy a hovel
in Makhachkala. (Ann Sheehy)

KAZAKHSTAN-GERMAN SOCIETY SET UP. A Kazakhstan-German Society
has been set up in Kazakhstan, TASS reported February 25. The
society intends to seek new partners and joint contracts, bypassing
the cumbersome state system. It will further the study of German
in Kazakhstan, and of Kazakh in Germany. (Ann Sheehy)

SUNNAH PUBLISHED IN RUSSIAN FOR FIRST TIME. The sunnah (collection
of hadiths or traditions about the life and sayings of the Prophet
Muhammed) is being published for the first time in Russian, TASS
reported February 25. Extracts, translated from the original
Arabic, will appear in each issue for 1991 of the independent
newspaper "Uzy" published twice a month in Moscow, and the full
text will be published in Moscow by the joint Soviet-Arabic enterprise
"Dom Biruni." (Ann Sheehy)

STATUE OF MAITREYA RETURNED TO BURYAT BUDDHISTS. A 16-meter-high
copper statue of Maitreya, the next future Buddha, was recently
returned to the Buddhist datsan (monastery) in Aginskoe in the
Aginsky Buryat autonomous okrug, TASS reported February 25. The
national sacred object of the Buryat people had been removed
from the datsan when it was forcibly closed down in 1940. The
head of the monastery told TASS that not only believers but also
USSR and RSFSR deputies and the local authorities had campaigned
for its return. (Ann Sheehy)


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