|Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith. - Christopher Fry|
No. 42, 28 February 1991
BALTIC STATES BALTIC LEADERS PROPOSE CONFERENCE ON INDEPENDENCE. At a press conference on February 27 in Copenhagen, Baltic leaders--Estonia's Arnold Ruutel, Latvia's Anatolijs Gorbunovs, and Lithuania's Bronius Kuzmickas--proposed that an international parliamentary conference be held to facilitate the restoration of independence in their states. Gorbunovs said, according to Reuters February 27, that "Without such a conference and without an international declaration concerning the Baltic issue, Moscow will never start negotiations on an official level with Moscow on the one side and the Baltic States on the other." That afternoon the Baltic leaders each addressed the ongoing session of the Nordic Council. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIANS INVITED TO BENELUX MEETING. Radio Riga reported February 27 that earlier that day in Copenhagen, Latvia was invited by the BENELUX delegation also attending the Nordic Council session to send a delegation to Brussels to the next meeting of the BENELUX countries in May. The Latvian delegation would be guests at the meeting. (Dzintra Bungs) CONCERN OVER INDEPENDENCE POLL IN LATVIA. People in Latvia are preparing for the March 3 poll on Latvia's independence. Polling stations have been open since February 24 for people who will not be able to vote on March 3. According to Radio Riga February 27, problems exist: irregular hours of polling stations in districts where anti-independece forces appear to be in the majority; lists of eligible voters also contain "dead souls"; many people have not been informed by the local election district officials where their polling station is located; and instructions on how to fill out the "ballot" correctly are unclear. These problems have been aggravated by increasing anti-independence propaganda, aimed especially at the Russian-speaking residents of Latvia, which comprise about 50% of the population. (Dzintra Bungs) OPPOSITION FACTION MAY BE PAID DURING ABSENCE. On February 27, Deputy Eduards Berklavs told RFE's Latvian Service that Latvian Supreme Council Chairman Anatolijs Gorbunovs had agreed that the pro-Moscow Ravnopravie deputies would not lose any of their salary on account of their absence from January 13 through February 25. Berklavs pointed out that many deputies were unhappy with Gorbunovs over this accord, since remuneration for unexcused absence is against the rules adopted earlier by the Council. Gorbunovs' decision was evidently prompted by political considerations and the fact that he had told Gorbachev in January that he would work for conciliation between the pro-independence and anti-independence deputies in the Supreme Council. (Dzintra Bungs) US MEDICAL AID ARRIVES IN LATVIA. Radio Riga reported February 28 that the first shipment of medical aid from the United States had arrived at the Riga airport this morning. Project "Hope" officials also arrived this morning for the purpose of overseeing the distribution of the medical supplies--the first shipment was intended for two hospitals in Riga and one in Ogre. They were greeted by Latvia's Deputy Prime Minister Ilmars Bisers. (Dzintra Bungs) RETAIL PRICE INCREASES IN LITHUANIA. On February 26 Radio Vilnius announced forthcoming increases in retail prices in Lithuania, together with compensatory supplementary payments for all adult members of the population. The first compensation payments will be made on March 19; the scale of compensation differs from the all-Union rates announced by the central authorities. No specifics were given on the size of price increases, although the wording suggests that this will be left to market forces. The broadcast cited March 11 as the date for all-Union increases in retail prices of foodstuffs. This appears to be the first public reference to the critical date. (Keith Bush) LITHUANIA-UKRAINE PROTOCOL SIGNED. Radio Vilnius reported February 25 that Lithuanian Deputy Prime Minister Vytautas Pakalniskis and Deputy Chairman of the Ukrainian Council of Ministers Viktor Kurchyukin had signed an economic and trade cooperation protocol for 1991 that day in Kiev. The document makes concrete the bilateral agreement on cultural, economic, and trade cooperation signed nearly three months ago. Each country expects to obtain goods worth about 900 million rubles from the other. For Lithuania, the Ukrainian goods would amount to about a tenth of all goods purchased from the USSR. (Saulius Girnius) LITHUANIANS MEET DOGUZHIEV. On February 27 Deputy Chairman of the Lithuanian Supreme Council Ceslovas Stankevicius and the Lithuanian permanent representative in Moscow Egidijus Bickauskas met with USSR Deputy Prime Minister Vitalii Doguzhiev, the leader of the USSR delegation on talks with Lithuania, Radio Kaunas reported February 28. It was decided that the talks would be a continuation of the previous talks with the same topics for discussion among groups of specialists. The Lithuanians with Estonian and Latvian representatives also met that day Chairman of the French National Assembly Foreign Affairs Committee Michel Vauzelle and discussed ways to strengthen the sovereignty of the Baltic states. (Saulius Girnius) OFFICERS ACCUSE COMMUNISTS. Officers belonging to the "Shchit" military union accused Communist Party leaders of plotting a coup in Lithuania and said that Gorbachev must have known about the plan, AP reported February 27, citing Moscow News. The report by the officers, who were investigating the January 13 attack by Soviet troops in Vilnius, denied that troops were fired on by demonstrators and said that the participation of the military in the attack was planned beforehand. The report named eight Lithuanian Communist Party officials--including the local garrison commander, General Vladimir Uskhopchik--as the "nucleus" of the shadowy National Salvation Committee. (Stephen Foye) \fo25; USSR\fo5; USSR--ALL-UNION TOPICS SOVIET REACTION TO END OF WAR. As of 1100 (CET), TASS had released only limited reaction to the ceasefire in the Gulf. According to TASS, Supreme Soviet chairman Anatolii Luk'yanov said this morning that "no doubt...this is a great victory for the foreign policy initiatives of [President Gorbachev]." (Suzanne Crow) PRIMAKOV COMMENTS ON GULF. Pravda February 27 carried the first in a series of articles by Gorbachev's special Middle East envoy Evgenii Primakov on the Gulf conflict. A summary of the piece, carried by TASS, quoted Primakov as saying, "the prevailing opinion in Moscow was that [the conflict] would not go as far as war, and that the entire arsenal of political, economic, and military measures would bring about an effect." A February 27 AP report on Primakov's article says the author described his meetings in Iraq prior to the start of the war as strained. AP also reported that Primakov's article was part of a longer manuscript. (Suzanne Crow) AKHROMEEV ON GULF. Marshal Sergei Akhromeev told Novosti February 27 that the unwillingness of the U.S. to delay its ground attack against Iraq, despite Soviet peace proposals, indicates that the U.S. has war goals beyond the liberation of Kuwait. Turning to military operations, he said that he considered the one-sidedness of the war most surprising, and attributed it to the preponderance of allied forces, particularly their superiority in the air. He said that in many places the allies had achieved control of the air after only a week of fighting. Akhromeev also noted the success of allied high-tech weaponry, and said that the war would allow future improvement of these systems. (Stephen Foye) FILATOV'S WAR. Sent to Baghdad last week as a special correspondent for Sovetskaya Rossiya, Major General Viktor Filatov appears to be describing a different Gulf War than his Western counterparts, The Los Angeles Times reported. Even as Iraqi forces retreated in disarray, Filatov wrote on February 27 that Hussein's troops "have courageously taken the first mighty blow, remained standing and in turn... have counterattacked. The Iraqi army has shown its steadfastness, courage and valor." Filatov, a notorious hard-liner and editor of Voenno-Istorichesky zhurnal, also reported that the allied offensive had bogged down, and compared the Gulf war to American actions in Korea and Vietnam. (Stephen Foye) GENERALS IMPRESSED BY GULF ACTION. The Soviet Top Brass has been impressed by US actions in the Gulf, but is increasingly concerned over potential instability along the Soviet Union's southern borders, The Washington Post reported February 28. The report quotes Captain Sergei Sidorov, who wrote in Krasnaya zvezda that the generals had been struck by the performance of American high-tech weaponry, but that few believed the war represented a defeat for Soviet arms and tactics. Sidorov repeated the argument that the bulk of Iraq's Soviet-made weaponry is obsolete. (Stephen Foye) THIRD CRISIS OF "NEW THINKING." The Frankfurter Rundshau February 27 published comments by Viktor Kremenyuk, Deputy Director of the USA-Canada Institute, on developments in Soviet foreign policy. Kremenyuk said the Golf conflict is the third crisis of "new thinking," after the liberation of Eastern Europe and the unification of Germany. Kremenyuk says: "Today the question is not whether we support Iraq and abandon the position of the UN Security Council; the question is whether this conflict will be grounds for a possible revision of our foreign policy." (Suzanne Crow) TREATY HANGUPS, MORE D-MARKS. Soviet Vice President Gennadii Yanaev told Novosti February 27 that Germany must make "extra efforts" to ensure ratification of treaties with Germany. Novosti reported the USSR wants Germany to compensate Soviet citizens who were used for forced labor in Germany during World War II. TASS reported February 26 on Soviet-German agreement in principle for German payment, and quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Yulii Kvitsinsky as saying agreement between the USSR and Germany played an important role in the Soviet signature to treaties with Germany. Meanwhile, Soviet and German officials met on February 26 to discuss unidentified problems concerning Soviet troop withdrawals from Germany. (Suzanne Crow) COCOM MEETING POSTPONED. The Journal of Commerce reported February 28 that German and British opposition to US policy forced an abrupt postponement of a high-level Coordinating Committee meeting scheduled for February 27. This is the second cancellation in four months and resulted from US resistance to liberalizing export controls. Unnamed sources reported that the disagreement centered on US refusal to loosen controls on supercomputers and fiber-optics communication equipment. No new meeting date has been set. (Suzanne Crow) IVASHKO IN CHINA, PEKING OFFERS AID. According to comments by Chinese Communist Party Secretary Jiang Zemin in a speech on February 27, China will provide aid to the USSR either in the form of goods or loans. Vladimir Ivashko, Deputy General Secretary of the CPSU met with Jiang February 27 as part of his trip to China this week. Jiang announced he will travel to the USSR for a few days "sometime before the summer" marking the first such high-level Communist Party visit since the 1960s. Soviet Defense Minister Dmitrii Yazov is expected in Beijing March 4 for talks on arms control and sales, TASS and AP reported February 27 and 28. (Suzanne Crow) REORGANIZATION OF STATE COMMITTEE ON THE PRESS. The USSR government has decreed the creation of a commercial state concern based on the technical resources of the USSR State Committee on the Press, Printing and Publishing Houses, the deputy chairman of the committee, Boris Kuz'min, told Pravitel'stvennyi Vestnik, No. 7, 1991. According to Kus'min, the association "ASPOL" will be responsible for the consolidation and development of the printing trade throughout the USSR. The State Committee on the Press will retain an administrative function: it will be responsible for the registration of the mass media and for the "legal protection of national culture from the negative consequences of commercialization in the mass media." (Victor Yasmann) 500+ POLITICAL PARTIES IN USSR. CPSU Central Committee secretary Valentin Kuptsov told a Moscow news conference February 27 that there are more than 500 political parties, 20 of which have a nationwide membership, in the USSR, TASS reported. Kuptsov stressed that the CPSU is willing to work with any party that "does not deny the socialist choice." Cooperation, Kuptsov noted, is "hampered" by the fact that most of the new parties "preach anti-Communism." The new parties, he charged, have no program other than opposition to the CPSU. (Dawn Mann) SUSPENDED SENTENCE SOUGHT IN SLANDER TRIAL. The state prosecutor asked for a suspended 2-year sentence against Valeria Novodvorskaya, a leader of the Democratic Union group charged with slandering USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev and burning a Soviet flag, AP reported February 27. Novodvorskaya, who declined to have a lawyer, protested the leniency of the sentence, saying, "If you are mean enough to pass this law, be mean enough to use it!" In her closing statement, she repeated her charge that Gorbachev is "a hangman," and said "I can guarantee that [Gorbachev] will hear from me as long as he is in power." Announcing that she was bored, Novodvorskaya called on "anyone with a sense of humor" to leave the courtroom; she and about 40 supporters then left. (Dawn Mann) ARCHIVES ON DEPORTEES OPENED. Official archives on more than half a million people who were forcibly deported to the Urals region in the 1930s have been opened to the public, Radio Moscow reported February 27. Scientists at the Urals branch of the USSR Academy of Sciences have been studying the archives, which relatives will no be able to access in order to get information on family members who disappeared during that time period. (NCA) ARMY PROPAGANDISTS FIGHT FOR UNION. The First Deputy Chief of the Army's Main Political Administration told Radio Moscow February 27 that military propagandists were battling to save the Union and to insure a unified army. Colonel General Aleksandr Ovchinnikov said that political conformity was breaking down in the Soviet Union, and that army propaganda workers aimed to inculcate pro-union values not only among army personnel, but to insure that the voice of the armed forces was heard in the broader domestic political battle as well. (Stephen Foye) MILITARY JOURNAL LIONIZES HITLER. The journal of the USSR Ministry of Defense, Sovetskii patriot, started serializing in its 6th issue excerpts from Adolf Hitler by Valentin Prussakov. Prussakov, a Jewish emigre admirer of Hitler, had penned an article titled "We Need a New Hitler" that was distributed among the conservative deputies of the first session of the RSFSR Congress of People's Deputies and at the 28th CPSU Congress last year. Thereupon, Literaturnaya Rossiya published an interview with Prussakov, and Voenno-istoricheskii zhurnal (another Ministry of Defense's journal) chose to publish excerpts from Mein Kampf. (Julia Wishnevsky) ANOTHER RUSSIAN ORTHODOX PRIEST KILLED. Komsomol'skaya pravda February 21 contained a lengthy article on Fr. Serafim Shlykov--the third Russian Orthodox priest to have been assassinated in Moscow in the past year. Although Fr. Serafim was not interested in politics, the newspaper writes, he is known to have received a threatening letter from members of the anti-Semitic "Pamyat'" society (specifically, from the faction headed by Nikolai Filimonov); this letter was apparently stolen at the time of the murder. Komsomol'skaya pravda noted that the first of the priests killed, Fr. Aleksandr Men', was also unpopular with "Pamyat'" because of his Jewish ancestry and liberal views. The newspaper suggests that all three priests may have been murdered by religious zealots, rather than by robbers, as the official investigators claim. (Julia Wishnevsky) USSR--IN THE REPUBLICS GORBACHEV'S VISIT TO BELORUSSIA CONTINUES. Gorbachev traveled to Gomel oblast, one of the areas hardest hit by the Chernobyl' nuclear power plant explosion, and visited Vetka, a town that lies 30 kilometers from the plant, TASS reported February 27. Later, in the city of Gomel, Gorbachev said the Soviet Union needs renovation and improvement, not destruction and disintegration. He criticized the "stubbornness" of some republican leaders whom he charged with disrupting the ties between regions and enterprises. Gorbachev said that tough measures are needed to correct the situation, otherwise, anarchy will result. Today Gorbachev is in Mogilev. (NCA) STATUS OF AUTONOMOUS REPUBLICS AND UNION TREATY. The status of the former autonomous republics of the RSFSR has become a hot issue in the discussions of the draft Union treaty, TASS reported February 27. Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan are adamant that if they remain part of the RSFSR they should not be parties to the treaty. The majority of the former autonomous republics want to be signatories to the treaty. The chairman of the RSFSR Council of the Republic Vladimir Isakov said it was an internal matter for the RSFSR, which was on the verge of concluding a federal treaty with its component parts (the treaty is on the agenda of the extraordinary RSFSR Congress of People's Deputies opening March 28). The question at issue is the number of votes the RSFSR would have in representative bodies if its sixteen autonomous republics were parties to the treaty. The center has been trying to use the autonomous republics against the RSFSR, and the RSFSR could not necessarily rely on their support. (Ann Sheehy) RSFSR, UKRAINIAN, BELORUSSIAN CP'S APPEAL ON REFERENDUM. The Central Committee of the Communist Parties of the RSFSR, Ukraine, and Belorussia yesterday issued a joint appeal calling on all Communists, workers and peoples of the USSR to vote "yes" in the March 17 referendum, Ukrinform-TASS reported February 27. The appeal attacked those who under the mask of "democrats" abused glasnost' and pluralism to distort the aims of perestroika, and called on the supreme soviets and governments of the three republics to be the first to sign the Union treaty. (Ann Sheehy) REFERENDUM AND REPUBLICAN POLL IN UKRAINE. The Ukrainian Supreme Soviet resolved yesterday to conduct a poll simultaneously with the referendum on March 17, Radio Kiev and Ukrinform-TASS reported February 27. Citizens will be asked to respond "yes" or "no" to the following question: "Do you agree that Ukraine should be part of the union of Soviet sovereign states on the basis of the declaration on the state sovereignty of Ukraine?" (Roman Solchanyk) ARMENIA ADOPTS LAW ON POLITICAL PARTIES. The Armenian Supreme Soviet has adopted a law "On social and political organizations," TASS and Radio Moscow reported February 27. The law forbids the activity on the territory of the republic of any parties whose centers are outside the republic. According to Radio Moscow, this would apply not only to the CPSU but also to the traditional nationalist parties that until recently have only functioned abroad. The law states parties may not accept funding or donations from outside Armenia, and also that they may not set up organizational structures in state agencies and institutions, in enterprises, or in educational institutions. (Ann Sheehy) FOKIN REFUSES TO MEET MINERS' DEMANDS. Tass reported February 27 that Ukrainian prime-minister Vitold Fokin has refused to meet Donbass miners' demands for pay hikes of 100-150 percent. He said that although miners have reason to be dissatisfied with the poor implementation of their previous agreement with the central authorities, the Ukrainian government has not got the money to meet the miners' demands. He stressed that coal prices had been raised from 22 to 99 rubles per ton, thereby allowing miners who work underground to earn 1000 or more rubles per month. Furthermore, he added, the coal industry has received 12 billion rubles in subsidies and 1 billion rubles in capital investment this year. At the same time, coal production fell by 15 million tons last year, while miners' salaries rose by almost 18%. (Valentyn Moroz) GAMSAKHURDIA SAYS GORBACHEV TELEPHONED HIM. Chairman of the Georgian Supreme Soviet Zviad Gamsakhurdia told an emergency session of that body that Gorbachev had telephoned him on Monday to ask whether he had changed his mind about the Union treaty. Gamsakhurdia said he told Gorbachev no, and that "this is not only my position, it is the position of the whole Georgian nation." Gamsakhurdia told the deputies that, in his opinion, "the center wants to take Abkhazia and Ossetia away from Georgia and force us to sign the Union Treaty." A spokesman for Gorbachev said he was unaware of the conversation. (Dawn Mann) OFFICERS IN BELORUSSIA. Izvestia February 13-15 carries an informative three-part report based on interviews with Soviet officers recently returned to Belorussia from Hungary. They discuss professional problems, personnel shortfalls, reduced combat training, ethnic divisions, the role of the CPSU, and a host of other issues. Particularly noteworthy is the extreme conservatism displayed by the officers, who uniformly admire hard-liner Victor Alksnis while disparaging progressives. Their comments are a reminder that Soviet officers being withdrawn from Europe seem generally to be more conservative, and that their numbers in the Soviet Union will swell in the coming months. (Stephen Foye) CONFERENCE ON UKRAINIAN NATIONALISM. A scientific conference on the history of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the contemporary political struggle was held in the West Ukrainian city of Lutsk, Ukrinform-TASS reported February 27. The conference participants are said to have denounced attempts to rehabilitate the OUN by "pseudo-democrats." In December, the second stage of the congress of the Communist Party of Ukraine adopted a special resolution along the same lines. (Roman Solchanyk) MOLDAVIA INTRODUCES COUPONS. The Moldavian government has decreed the introduction of republican coupons to protect the republic's consumers and prevent the flow of scarce goods from Moldavia to other republics. Coupons will be issued to Moldavia's residents only, for a value equivalent to 70% of their salaries (except for citizens with salaries under 100 rubles who will receive 75 rubles worth of coupons). The measure becomes effective March 1, TASS reported February 27. The Moldavian government has recently indicated that the coupons represent a transitional solution toward the introduction of republican currency. (Vladimir Socor) MOLDAVIAN PRESIDENT ESTABLISHES CONSULTATIVE COUNCIL. Moldavian President Mircea Snegur has created a Consultative Council consisting of representatives of all political parties, social and political movements and formations, and national-cultural associations legally registered in Moldavia. The Council is designed to offer the President a full range of views on all problems affecting the republic and assist in reaching civil accord in Moldavia, the Moldavian media and TASS reported February 26 and 27, respectively. (Vladimir Socor)
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