|In the effort to give good and comforting answers to the young questioners whom we love, we very often arrive at good and comforting answers for ourselves. - Ruth Goode|
No. 43, 01 March 1991
BALTIC STATES NORDIC COUNCIL PRESIDENT REJECTS SOVIET OBJECTIONS. Nordic Council President Anker Joergensen dismissed a three-page Soviet complaint over the Council's support for Baltic independence bid. The diplomatic note, complaining of Nordic support for separatism in the Soviet Union, was sent unsigned and without a return address on February 25 by the Soviet embassy to Joergensen and the Nordic delegations. Joergensen told AP on February 28 that "It's an interesting commentary, but there's nothing new in it." He said that he would not reply. This is the second time this week that the Nordic Council has dismissed Soviet objections to its policies and activities. (Dzintra Bungs) REUTERS BACK IN ESTONIA. On February 27, after a 51-year hiatus, the international news agency Reuters began sending news to Estonia via wire, the Estonian News Agency (ETA) reported that day. (Riina Kionka) CSCE TO MONITOR PLEBISCITES. The US Helsinki Commission will monitor plebiscites on independence set for March 3, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Washington February 28. Commission Chairman Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) said the polls could have a dramatic impact on the future of democracy in the USSR and that recent tension in the area makes it essential that Commission envoys observe both the atmosphere in which the plebiscites are held and their outcome. Estonians will be asked whether they favor restoration of a sovereign and independent Republic of Estonia, and Latvians will vote on whether they support a democratic and independent Republic of Latvia. (Riina Kionka) ESTONIAN PARTIES TO MEET ON CRISIS. The Council of Estonian Political Parties has called an international meeting for this weekend to discuss how the Baltic states fit into the new European structure, ETA reported February 27. The group, which plans to adopt a statement stressing the internationalization of the Baltic question, will allow participating delegations to observe Sunday's plebiscite on independence. Politicians from Denmark, Poland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, the RSFSR and Moscow have already confirmed their participation. (Riina Kionka) PRISONERS MAY VOTE. The Estonian Supreme Council will allow prisoners and those under arrest on Sunday to vote in the plebiscite on independence, according to ETA February 28. The Supreme Council reportedly made the last minute change in the legislation governing the vote on the advice of the "International Conference on 'Civil Rights and Estonia,'" held two weeks ago in Tallinn. (Riina Kionka) LATVIANS CONGRATULATE KUWAIT'S LIBERATORS. Radio Riga reported February 28 that the Latvian Supreme Council had sent congratulations to the United States, Great Britain, and other countries that fought against Iraq for the liberation of Kuwait. A Latvian parliamentary delegation, led by Supreme Council Chairman Anatolijs Gorbunovs, visited the US Embassy in Copenhagen on February 28 and commended the US efforts leading to Kuwait's liberation. (Dzintra Bungs) CAMPAIGN AGAINST LATVIA'S INDEPENDENCE POLL. Radio Riga reported February 28 that the campaign against the March 3 poll on Latvia's independence was intensifying. Counterfeit "ballots" and leaflets slandering the Latvian government and Supreme Council were being distributed in Latvia. In the predominantly Slavic Kurzeme district of Riga regulations concerning the polling centers were flagrantly disregarded. Dire predictions of unemployment, strikes, and civil war in Latvia were issued respectively by Radio Moscow and the Soviet central TV's second program beamed from Moscow on February 28. (Dzintra Bungs) FOREIGN OBSERVERS START TO ARRIVE IN LATVIA FOR INDEPENDENCE POLL. According to Radio Riga February 28, 96 Lithuanians had arrived in Latvia to act as observers at the polling stations on March 3 when voters will register their opinion on Latvia as an independent and democratic state. Fourteen observers are expected from Sweden, 11 from Czechoslovakia, 10 each from Norway and Denmark, 5 from the Council of Europe, 4 from Finland, and an undisclosed number from the United States and other countries. On March 1, 10 foreign journalists had already come to Latvia, Radio Riga reported. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIAN-RSFSR CULTURAL ACCORD. An accord on cultural cooperation between Latvia and the RSFSR was signed on February 28 by Latvia's Minister of Culture Raimonds Pauls and his Russian counterpart Yurii Solomin, Radio Riga reported that day. The signing took place in Riga. (Dzintra Bungs) GORBUNOVS STILL POPULAR IN LATVIA. Radio Riga reported February 22 the results of a Sociological Research center poll done in mid-February, involving over 1,000 respondents. According to Aldis Paulins, 87% of Latvian and 71% of non-Latvian respondents had confidence in the work of Supreme Council Chairman Anatolijs Gorbunovs. Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis ranked second, with 85% Latvians and 43% BBn-Latvians having confidence in his work. No figures were reported for Supreme Council Deputy Chairman Dainis Ivans and the Ravnopravie opposition faction leader Sergei Dimanis, who shared third place. Satisfaction with the work of the Supreme Council, the Council of Ministers, the People's Front and the Ravnopravie faction was noted respectively by 65%, 61B, 70%, and 20% of all the respondents. (Dzintra Bungs) B NON-VIOLENT RESISTANCE IN LITHUANIA. Lithuania's Supreme Council voted on February 28 to guarantee the right of OBn-violent resistance, AP reported that day. The parliament said citizens may exercise the right whenever the republic's "sovereignty and integrity" are threatened. The guaranOBe was part of a citizens' rights package, in which the Supreme Council also reaffirmed the supremacy of republican laws over all-Union ones; declared all Soviet government structuresB and decrees affecting Lithuania invalid; and warned of the possibility that Lithuania could be further occupied by the Soviet military. (Riina Kionka) B LITHUANIA'S ELTA LINKED WITH NORWEGIAN NEWS SERVICE. The Norwegian news agency NTB opened a satellite link on February 28 with Lithuania's news service, ELTA, AP reported that day. Via the link, ELTA can access reports from the national news services Bf Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland. The Norwegian government approved a 300,000-kroner grant to make this form of information dissemination possible. The Lithuanian agency will translate NTB reports and also make them available to Estonia and Latvia. (Dzintra Bungs) USSR--ALL-UNION TOPICS BESSMERTNYKH ON PEACE, SOVIET ROLE. "We welcome the liberation of Kuwait and the restoration of its lawful government," said Soviet Foreign Minister Aleksandr Bessmertnykh February 28. Bessmertnykh went on to stress the role of the United Nations in formulating a plan for stability in the region. He also underscored the USSR's belief that the "fate of the region belongs to and is to be determined, first and foremost, by its people and populations. We, for our part, must cooperate in guaranteeing the effectiveness and reliability [garantirovannosti] of the future development of the situation concerning these countries," TASS reported February 28. (Suzanne Crow) FALIN COMMENTARY ON PEACE. CPSU Central Committee member and USSR Supreme Soviet member Valentin Falin said the "ceasefire in the Persian Gulf opens the way for the shift of the conflict to a political channel, which the USSR has, from the start, sought," TASS reported February 28. Falin stressed the substantive role of the UN. Asked if Saddam represented a destabilizing factor in the region, Falin said: "stability there, both in the past and now, does not depend on a single regime in one country. It is...a combination of various factors, and if we simplify the problem to the point of changing the regime in one country, we do not achieve a solution." (Suzanne Crow) IGNATENKO: OUR ROLE IS ENVISAGED. Soviet Presidential spokesman Vitalii Ignatenko said he is, "by nature an optimist," and he is therefore optimistic about US-Soviet cooperation, including in the Middle East. But, Ignatenko went on to warn, you can already hear people saying, "there is nothing for the Soviet Union in the Near East, and it's not right to let the USSR into the region." Ignatenko went on to say, "it is known that the [US] Secretary of State is going to the Near East shortly for negotiations. We're convinced that we'll met him there. Our role is envisaged," TASS reported February 28. (Suzanne Crow) USSR TO HELP CLEAN UP OIL. A Soviet Merchant Marine Ministry spokesman said February 28 the USSR will help clean up oil slicks in the Persian Gulf. The spokesman said assistance will be offered on the basis of contracts with the Saudi Arabian government, AFP reported. (NCA/Suzanne Crow) GENERALS ON GULF WAR. In a series of articles and interviews, Soviet generals have been quick to deny that the Gulf war was a victory over Soviet arms and tactics. Military spokesmen have argued that Iraq did not have the latest Soviet weapons, that Iraqi soldiers were in some cases poorly trained, and that Soviet weapons used in Syria had in fact performed quite well. The Top Brass nevertheless does seem to be most concerned about allied air power, and the Commander of Soviet Anti-Aircraft forces warned that the war would fuel further developments in Western air capabilities. All of these issues are likely to resurface in Soviet debates on national security in the coming months and years. (Stephen Foye) YAZOV CONFIRMED, COMMENTS ON GULF. The USSR Supreme Soviet reconfirmed Defense Minister Dmitrii Yazov on February 28 by a vote of 275 to 24, with 53 abstentions, TASS reported. Following allied successes in the Gulf, deputies questioned Yazov closely on the state of the Soviet Union's armed forces. According to Yazov, the allied victory had prompted Soviet generals to look again at their air defense capabilities, and he warned that while they were presently capable of repelling attacks, that might not be true in two or three years. Yazov nevertheless defended the Iraqi's Soviet-supplied weaponry, arguing that--particularly in the air--the allies enjoyed a huge advantage in numbers. (Stephen Foye) SUPREME SOVIET CONFIRMS 11 MINISTERS. TASS reported February 28 that the USSR Supreme Soviet confirmed 11 new members of the Cabinet of Ministers. Those confirmed include three deputy prime ministers--Lev Ryabev, Fedor Sen'ko, and Vladimir Shcherbakov--as well as the chairman of the KGB and the ministers of defense, nuclear power, geology, the maritime fleet, transport construction, power and electrification, and natural resources' use and conservation. (Dawn Mann) APPOINTMENTS TO CABINET. Among the three USSR deputy prime ministers is Fedor Sen'ko, formerly deputy chairman of the Belorussian Council of Ministers. It had been agreed earlier in the Federation Council that the Ukrainians and Belorussians should jointly propose a deputy premier for agricultural affairs. Pavlov now has two first deputies and five deputies, and there is still one to come, as the Central Asians and Kazakhs were also promised that they could nominate a candidate. (Ann Sheehy) YAZOV'S VISIT TO CHINA CANCELLED. AFP reported February 28 that a scheduled March 4 visit by the Soviet Defense Minister to China has been called off by Moscow. A Soviet embassy spokesman in Beijing gave no reason for the cancellation, but said that the meeting might be re-scheduled. The announcement comes as military cooperation between the two Communist powers appears to be growing. (Stephen Foye) NATO OFFICIAL: USSR WON'T BUDGE ON CFE. The USSR has made no move to change its position and to comply with the CFE treaty, a "senior" and unidentified NATO official told AP February 28. "The Soviet stance is exactly the same," the official said, and "there are no indications they will soften their stance" (on the transfer of three divisions to the navy so that they cannot be limited by the treaty). The official said, "it is agreed that we will keep on the pressure," and the Western attitude at talks in Vienna is "no-business-as-usual." (Suzanne Crow) USSR, ROK AGREE ON TRADE CENTER. TASS reported February 28 the conclusion of a Soviet-South Korean agreement to build a Soviet-Korean trade center in Moscow. It is estimated the project will cost about $300 million, and 20 Korean firms and government agencies will take part in the project. In the past, Seoul and Moscow have encountered difficulties reaching agreement for such joint projects in the USSR because of disputes over which side would actually run the operation. (Suzanne Crow) MVD ON RISING CRIMES RATES. The Soviet security organs continue to emphasize what they say are rising crime rates throughout the Soviet Union. The Internal Affairs Ministry announced on Central Television on February 28 that in the past week alone over one million people have taken part in various street demonstrations and meetings and that some 150 crimes had been recorded. In operation "Okno," for example, MVD and KGB personnel reportedly unmasked a crime ring in Moscow and confiscated a million rubles worth of contraband, plus money and automatic weapons. In Krasnodarsk Krai, according to the announcement, more than 500 speculators were arrested in 1990, but only 13 went to jail. (Stephen Foye) USSR--IN THE REPUBLICS KUZBASS MINERS TO STRIKE. Mines at 88 mines in the Kuznetsk basin in Western Siberia will hold a one-day strike on March 4 to seek higher pay and the resignation of USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev, AP reported February 28. Kuzbass miners are also demanding the depolitization of the army and KGB, greater sovereignty for the RSFSR, the elimination of censorship, larger subsidies to mines, and earlier retirement. Miners in Karaganda and Vorkuta will also be striking on March 4, according to Pavel Shushpanov, (Dawn Mann) GEORGIAN SUPREME SOVIET ONCE AGAIN REJECTS REFERENDUM. On February 28 the Georgian Supreme Soviet once again rejected the holding of the March 17 referendum in the republic, TASS reported. It was argued that in elections in 1919 and 1990 the Georgian people had twice this century confirmed their desire for independent statehood. The Supreme Soviet reaffirmed its earlier decision to hold a republican referendum on March 31 on the restoration of the state independence of Georgia on the basis of its act of independence of May 26, 1918. (Ann Sheehy) GEORGIAN LEADERS ACCUSE KREMLIN. The Georgian Supreme Soviet on February 28 accused Moscow of waging an undeclared war against the republic by exploiting unrest in South Ossetia and supplying troops there with the latest weaponry, Reuters reported. It charged that the Kremlin is attempting to punish Georgia for its refusal to participate in the creation of a new federation and to sign the Union Treaty. (Stephen Foye) LETTER FROM SOUTH OSSETIAN INTELLECTUALS. An open letter from South Ossetian intellectuals to Gorbachev, published on February 28 in Rabochaya tribuna, called upon Moscow to use all legal means possible to end "the barbaric blockade of South Ossetia by Georgian authorities," TASS reported. The letter accused "Georgian separatists" of establishing a nationalist dictatorship, of trampling upon South Ossetia's autonomy, and of flouting elementary civil rights." (Stephen Foye) GORBACHEV IN GOMEL. On February 27, during his tour of the Chernobyl'-affected areas of Belorussia, Gorbachev addressed the agricultural Party aktiv of Gomel. He said Belorussia's predicament shows that the republics still need the center to resolve their problems and broadened that argument into an apparent critique of the trend toward the conclusion of interrepublican agreements without central coordination. Gorbachev warned that the diktat of Union authorities could give way to anarchy, adding that "now we have to preserve what has existed." He also resumed the attack on separatists and political opponents that marked his address to the Belorussian Academy of Sciences on February 26. Referring to that occasion, the London Times February 28 reported that liberals in Moscow regard Gorbachev's speech in Minsk as his harshest attack yet on the democratic cause. (Kathy Mihalisko) GORBACHEV CAME AS CP LEADER, NOT PRESIDENT. Gorbachev's trip to Belorussian, which ended February 28 after his visit to Mogilev, disappointed some Belorussians, who were hoping to hear more on the Chernobyl' tragedy than the evasive generalities Gorbachev offered. Gorbachev's speeches instead concentrated on the importance of preserving the Union and on the CPSU's political adversaries. A source in Gomel complained to RFE-RL February 28 that Gorbachev came to the republic as general secretary of the Party, not as president and claimed that none of the numerous radicals on the Gomel city soviet were invited to hear Gorbachev speak. (RL Russian Service/Kathy Mihalisko) BELORUSSIAN OPPOSITION SUPPORTS YELTSIN. About a quarter of the core of the Belorussian Supreme Soviet--some 67 deputies--signed an open letter protesting the official campaign unleashed by all-Union officials and the conservative media against Boris Yeltsin following his interview on Soviet television on February 19, the RL Russian Service learned February 28. Referring to Yeltsin's call for Gorbachev's resignation and for the dissolution of the all-Union governing structures, the deputies pointed out that "every statesman is entitled to his own views on the state's problems" and to make those views known to the electorate. (Russian BD/Julia Wishnevsky) RSFSR SUPREME SOVIET NAMES SECURITY CHIEF, PROCURATOR. The RSFSR Supreme Soviet approved the appointment of Colonel Sergei Vadimovich Stepashin as chairman of its Committee on Security, TASS reported February 28. Stepashin is 52 years old and has most recently been working in internal affairs organs in Leningrad. The committee, which was formed not long ago, has begun working on a law on security and negotiating with the USSR KGB. Valentin Stepankov was approved as RSFSR Procurator (his appointment will also have to be confirmed by the RSFSR Congress of People's Deputies). Stepanov, 40, is a member of the CPSU and an RSFSR People's Deputy. He is a professional jurist who began his career as a district procurator; he is currently first deputy general procurator of the RSFSR. (Dawn Mann) RSFSR SUPREME SOVIET DEBATES LAW ON REFUGEES. The RSFSR Supreme Soviet debated February 28 the draft republican law "On refugees and those forced to resettle," TASS reported. It was said that about 200,000 of the 600,000 internal refugees fleeing interethnic conflict are in the RSFSR, some 90,000 having arrived in 1990 alone. Speakers found the law lacked sufficient material backing. Others argued that it should be examined only after the Union treaty was signed. The law was sent back for reworking. (Ann Sheehy) REGISTRATION OF PARTIES IN THE RSFSR. According to Sovetskaya Rossiya February 15, only four parties in the Russian Republic meet the minimum membership--5,000--required for registration. They are the Communist Party, the Democratic Party, the Christian-Democratic Party, and the Social-Democratic Party. (Dawn Mann) "A GREAT UNITED RUSSIA." A conference entitled "Socio-Political Movements for a Great United Russia" was held in Moscow on February 27, TASS reported the same day. Representatives of some 80 political parties, movements, and unions participated, as did First Secretary of the RSFSR Communist Party Ivan Polozkov, the chairman of the All-Union Association of People's Deputies, and the writers Yurii Bondarev and Aleksandr Prokhanov. The conference has issued an appeal asserting that "only a strong, patriotic, and active power will be able to lead the people of Russia out of tragedy." (Dawn Mann) REFERENDUM ITEMS. Additional polls are to be held on March 17, the day of the all-Union referendum, in the Komi-Permyak autonomous okrug, on the disputed Kurile islands, and possibly on Kamchatka. The Komi-Permyaks are to be asked to vote on whether a projected atomic power station should be built on their territory, Moscow radio reported February 28. The inhabitants of the four disputed Kurile islands will be polled on their attitude towards a possible return of the islands to Japan, TASS reported February 27, and voters in Kamchatka may be asked to support an appeal to the USSR Supreme Soviet on limiting tourism to the area in order to protect the environment, TASS reported February 25. (Ann Sheehy) UKRAINIAN GOSTELERADIO WORKERS CALL FOR STATE CONTROL. In their appeal to the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet, published in Kultura i zhyttia February 23, staff members of the Ukrainian State Committee for Television and Radio expressed alarm over the partial privatization of republican TV. According to the appeal, the republican Ministry of Communications has been leasing TV channels to cooperatives and has drawn up plans to transmit Western programs via republican cable TV. Signatories of the appeal believe that national TV should be protected from foreign domination and that jurisdiction over republican radio and television should be handed over to the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet. (Valentyn Moroz) UKRAINIAN SCHOOLS AND TV TO BE INTRODUCED IN MOLDAVIA. Radio Kiev reported February 28 that Moldavian president Mircea Snegur has issued a decree on the introduction of Ukrainian-language instruction in schools and the creation of Ukrainian-language TV and radio services. Parents in Ukrainian settlements will be now able to choose Ukrainian as the language of instruction for their children. Teachers for these classes will be trained in Ukraine. This decree could set a precedent that might be followed in other areas of the USSR having a significant Ukrainian minority population. (Valentyn Moroz) CHERNOBYL' RELIEF LEGISLATION PASSED IN UKRAINE. The Ukrainian Supreme Soviet yesterday approved legislation designed to overcome the effects of the Chernobyl' nuclear accident. The measures include medical help, resettlement assistance, and compensation for material damage. The parliament also said that if the Soviet government does not finance the aid package, Ukraine reserves the right to subtract the necessary funds from its contribution to the all-Union budget. (NCA/Kathy Mihalisko) MOLDAVIAN PARLIAMENT ADJOURNS AFTER FACTIONS' WALKOUT. The Moldavian Supreme Soviet was forced to adjourn February 28 after Moldavian Communist, Russian, and most Agrarian deputies walked out to dramatize their demand for the resignation of Prime Minister Mircea Druc, TASS reported the same day. For the past three months, Moscow and the pro-Soviet forces in Moldavia have been campaigning to oust Druc. The effort has now been joined by the Agrarians, a large parliamentary group of Moldavian kolkhoz chairmen and other rural officials who support national demands but oppose the radical agrarian and administrative reforms promoted by Druc. Added to the earlier boycott of the parliament by Russian deputies from the left bank of the Dniester, yesterday's walkout has deprived the parliament of a quorum. (Vladimir Socor) MOLDAVIAN PRESIDENT DENOUNCES ATTEMPTS TO HOLD UNION REFERENDUM. At a session of Moldavia's Presidential Council February 28, President Mircea Snegur rejected the USSR Supreme Soviet's February 25 decision that declared "illegal" the refusal by some republics including Moldavia to hold the referendum on preserving the Union and required them to hold it. Denouncing that decision as "a direct interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state," Snegur and the Presidential Council also condemned the Moldavian Communist Party and the managements of enterprises of all-union subordination in Moldavia for attempting to organize the referendum on a local basis. The Council declared such attempts illegal, TASS reported February 28. (Vladimir Socor) ROMANIAN CONSULATE TO OPEN IN KISHINEV. The Romanian and USSR Ministries of Foreign Affairs have agreed on the establishment of a Soviet General Consulate in Iasi (capital of Romania's rump province of Moldavia) and a Romanian General Consulate in Kishinev, Radio Bucharest reported February 28. The exchange of notes on the matter by the two ministries is scheduled for today. President Snegur's office told RFE/RL by telephone March 1 that under a three-cornered agreement between Moscow, Kishinev, and Bucharest, the Soviet General Consulate in Iasi will be divided into a USSR and a Moldavian section. (Vladimir Socor)
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