To appreciate nonsense requires a serious interest in life. - Gelett Burgess
RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 55, 19 March 1991



BALTIC STATES



VOTING IRREGULARITIES IN ESTONIA. There were widespread allegations
of voting fraud in Sunday's all-Union referendum, a number of
Estonian and Finnish sources reported March 18. Erik Kuznetsov,
an ethnic Russian living in Estonia, boasted to the Helsinki
daily Helsingin Sanomat on March 18 that he had cast 7 votes
in favor; Postimees reporter Stepan Karja said he had had the
opportunity to vote 12 times; and journalist Mart Linnart said
he had been given ballots in 5 places, once without even showing
his ID card. The Estonian Supreme Council refused to hold the
referendum, but local Communist Party cells and military units
organized their own voting. (Riina Kionka)

TASS MISREPORTS ELECTION TURNOUT. TASS's reporting on Sunday's
referendum continued the widespread propaganda campaign initiated
with the rundown to the vote. According to TASS March 18, some
250,000 people voted in Estonia. TASS described this number as
representing 83.6% of the eligible voters. In fact, 250,000 voters
constitutes only about 23% of the eligible voting population
in Estonia. (Riina Kionka)

MORE PARTICIPANTS IN USSR REFERENDUM IN LATVIA. Pro-Moscow deputy
Stanislav Buka told Diena March 18 that over 450,000 people took
part in the March 17 referendum and that of these, about 20,000
had voted "no." Buka claimed that 23-30% of all eligible voters
had participated. He added that most of the voters came from
the cities of Riga, Daugavpils, Rezekne, and Jelgava, where most
of the inhabitants are Russians and other Slavs. He said that
his figures did not include results from Soviet military bases
in Latvia. In the March 3 poll on Latvia's independence, 87.6%
of the registered voters participated. (Dzintra Bungs)

COMMENTS ON USSR REFERENDUM IN LATVIA. Latvia's Foreign Minister
Janis Jurkans said that the USSR referendum cannot save the Soviet
Union, especially since it cannot resolve the basic problem of
the economy which remains subordinated to ideology, Reuters reported
March 18. In a different vein, Irena Andreeva and Gennadii Kiselev,
two Soviet observers of the March 17 referendum in Latvia, complained
that "polling stations had been set up in buses, army tents,
... and other unsuitable places"; they claimed, therefore, that
"the Latvian leadership was undemocratic," TASS reported March
18. What TASS failed to note was that the referendum was not
organized by the Latvian Supreme Council or the government, but
by USSR troops, and various groups and organizations in Latvia.
(Dzintra Bungs)

REFERENDUM VOTE IN LITHUANIA. TASS reported March 18 that 652,000
people in Lithuania voted in the March 17 referendum, of whom
96.7% voted "yes." The number of voters is less than the majority
needed to make the vote official, but far in excess of expectations.
In a telephone report to the RFE Lithuanian Service on March
18, a correspondent reported that Lithuanian Communist Party
secretary General Algimantas Naudziunas had said about 100,000
people had voted at military bases and an additional 500,000
people (of whom, 120,000 reside in Vilnius) had voted at civilian
polling centers. The overwhelming vote for Lithuanian independence
in the republic's February 9 poll makes it difficult to believe
that almost 400,000 people living outside of Vilnius could have
voted for the Union. (Saulius Girnius)

HOW MANY SOVIET TROOPS ARE IN THE BALTIC? Sunday's vote may present
the army with a problem. Soviet troop strength in the Baltic
has been significantly increased over the past year, primarily
through redeployment of forces from Eastern Europe. For obvious
political reasons, the High Command has refused to reveal the
number of troops currently deployed there. The military leadership
advocated a "yes" vote in the March 17 referendum and would
like vote totals in the Baltic to indicate strong support for
the preservation of the Union. The problem: well-known population
figures and recent voter surveys in the Baltic republics provide
an approximation of the number of voters there who might be expected
to vote "pro-Union." An overly large "yes" vote would therefore
suggest either widespread voting fraud or the presence of massive
numbers of troops. (Stephen Foye)

LATVIAN-DANISH PROTOCOL SIGNED. On March 18 the foreign ministers
of Latvia and Denmark signed a protocol in Copenhagen that could
lead to establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Denmark, which has never recognized the Soviet incorporation
of the Baltic States in 1940, has already signed identical protocols
with Estonia and Lithuania. According to Reuters and Radio Riga
of March 18, agreements on economic, cultural, and educational
cooperation were also formalized. (Dzintra Bungs)



USSR ALL-UNION TOPICS

TV NEWS REPORTING: BACK TO THE ORWELLIAN PAST? The head of TSN
newscasts was replaced yesterday, and the March 18-19 editions
of TSN were turned into highlights of the official news show,
Vremya." Moreover, coverage in both shows is lacking: neither
Vremya" or TSN (which was, in the past, reputed to provide viewers
with more information in its 15 minute broadcasts than Vremya"
did in 45) reported yesterday or today, for example, on the results
of the RSFSR referendum; they mentioned Prime Minister Valentin
Pavlov's visit to Leningrad's Kirov factory but did not report
that the workers welcomed Pavlov by staging a huge protest rally;
and neither mentioned the six-day old hunger strike of the Kuzbass
miners demanding Gorbachev's resignation. Instead, they aired
a number of rosy pictures of success-ranging from reports on
the USSR referendum to items on certain provincial industrial
enterprises. (Julia Wishnevsky)

DISTURBING TREND IN TELEVISION PROGRAMMING. On March 18, Central
Television devoted almost 3 hours of prime time to a "literary-
artistic show" that had nothing to do with either literature
or the arts, but instead lionized the military. The military
and the Russian Orthodox Church, the moderators said, constitute
the only trustworthy segments of Soviet society. On March-15,
Central Television broadcast an unscheduled 105-minute-long interview
with Igor Shafarevich, a noted mathematician, whose book, Russophobia,
is widely reported to be anti-Semitic. On March 16, "Vremya"
aired an interview with another hardliner-Sergei Vikulov, the
former editor of the ultranationalist literary monthly Nash sovremennik,
who urged voters to vote "yes" in the USSR referendum. "Vremya"
was followed by an unscheduled two-hour performance of the Kuban'
Cossack Choir (whose music arouses nationalist feelings in certain
circles). (Julia Wishnevsky)

GORBACHEV MEETS ECONOMISTS. Pravda March 19 reports on USSR President
Mikhail Gorbachev's March 16 meeting "with the country's leading
economists." Pravda printed only Gorbachev's address and did
not identify those present ("Vremya" showed Valentin Pavlov,
Leonid Abalkin, Aleksandr Granberg, and Vadim Medvedev). Gorbachev
said a compromise must be found between what he termed the "Gossnab"
approach, in which the entire economy runs on state orders, and
a full-blooded market economy based on inter-enterprise contracts.
Both, Gorbachev declared, were wrong for the Soviet Union, which
should base itself on the Spanish or Brazilian models. The East
Europeans are already, Gorbachev claimed, regretting their moves
to the market. (Elizabeth Teague)

100 ARMED GROUPS DISBANDED. In the past 7-months, some 100 armed
groups having more than 6,000 members have been disbanded, according
to Yurii Golik, chairman of the committee charged with coordinating
the activities of law-enforcement agencies. Golik, speaking on
Central Television on March 15, said 30,000 firearms, 4-tons
of explosives, and 1 million rounds of ammunition have been confiscated.
(Dawn Mann)

INFORMAL PARAMILITARY ORGANIZATIONS IN THE USSR. On March 12,
Komsomol'skaya pravda published a cover story listing informal
military and para-military formations in the USSR. The newspaper
reports that there are no informal military organizations in
the RSFSR, Ukraine, and Belorussia, nor are there any in Kazakhstan,
Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Following Soviet military
actions in Baku in January 1990, there are no more military formations
in Azerbaijan, while various military extremists their continue
activities in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. Last January, too,
the government of Moldavia disbanded a battalion of national
guards, but the pro-Moscow Dniestr and Gagauz republics have
kept their volunteer "worker detachments." The newspaper noted
that, in Georgia, Ossetians are using rocket launchers in their
confrontation with the Georgian militia. In the three Baltic
states, the report concludes, the national para-military organizations
of the pre-Soviet era are confronting the worker's militia detachments
created by the Interfront movements and OMON squads. (Victor
Yasmann)

DETAILS OF PRICE INCREASES. Following an interview with USSR
State Committee for Prices Chairman Vyacheslav Senchagov, "Vremya"
March-18 showed its viewers what some of the new retail prices
due to take effect on April 2-3 will be. On some staples, the
increases are very steep. For example, the new prices (with the
former prices in brackets) are, per kilo: beef-7.00 (2.00);
sugar-2.20 (0.94); rye bread-0.60 (0.19); and cod-2.20 (0.59).
(Keith Bush)

KOMPLEKTOV AS US AMBASSADOR? AP and AFP cited unnamed White House
officials as saying on March 18 that Viktor Komplektov will become
the USSR's new ambassador to the United States. Komplektov, a
career diplomat and Deputy Foreign Minister since December 1982,
is a US and Latin American specialist. The officials said Komplektov
was viewed as a humorless hard-liner in Washington. AFP said
Washington accepted Komplektov's appointment on March 18. TASS
has yet to report on the appointment. (Suzanne Crow)

KVITSINSKY STRESSES EAST EUROPE. In an extensive interview on
Soviet-East European relations in Pravda March 18, Deputy Foreign
Minister Yulii Kvitsinsky said that these countries must remain
a focal point of Soviet foreign policy. Kvitsinsky said the question
of new political agreements between the USSR and East European
countries is immediately related to the USSR's own security.
He dismissed concerns that NATO "is not in a hurry to follow
the WTO's example" in dissolving itself by saying that the WTO's
move belonged to an important tendency [toward non-confrontation]
present in Europe. TASS summarized parts of the interview on
March 18. (Suzanne Crow)

CHURKIN SAYS KURILES RUMORS "PREMATURE." Soviet Foreign Ministry
Spokesman Vitalii Churkin reacted on March 18 to an Interfax
news agency report on Soviet plans to return two of the disputed
Kurile Islands to Japan by saying, "my only reaction is that
it's too premature to talk about things like that," AP reported
March 18. Churkin's statement-far from a denial of such a deal-stands
in sharp contrast to previous denials by him and other Soviet
officials that two islands might be returned to Japan. (Suzanne
Crow)

NEW PROPOSAL FOR KURILES. The chairman of the Sakhalin regional
executive committee, Valentin Fedorov, has come up with a new
proposal for settling the dispute over the South Kurile island
group, TASS reported March 15. He suggests that the islands and
part of Hokkaido be designated a free economic zone, while remaining
Soviet and Japanese territories, with third parties able to participate
in the zone for development purposes. Meanwhile, in a poll held
simultaneously with the March 17 referendum, the vast majority
of voters in the South Kurile district of Sakhalin oblast-which
includes the four disputed islands-and in two other districts
of the oblast voted to remain within the USSR, TASS reported
March 18. (Keith Bush)

SHEVARDNADZE IN FAVOUR OF LEADERSHIP RENEWAL. Speaking to journalists
in Moscow, former USSR foreign minister Eduard Shevardnadze has
repeated his warning that the danger of dictatorship exists in
the Soviet Union. Reuters March 16 also quoted him as saying
that a younger generation should take over the country's leadership.
"There are quite a few politicians" who could lead the country
into the future, Shevardnadze said. Shevardnadze cut short a
trip to Italy and returned to Moscow to meet with US Secretary
of State James Baker, whom he hosted in his private apartment.
(Alexander Rahr)

YAKOVLEV TRIES TO CALM POLITICAL PASSIONS. Pravda March 16 contained
an interview with former Presidential Council member Aleksandr
Yakovlev. According to TASS, Yakovlev considers the March 17
referendum a great step towards democracy and was critical of
the democratic opposition for demanding Gorbachev's resignation.
Yakovlev also expressed concern over the "crude methods" of political
struggle employed with regard to creation of an RSFSR presidency.
Commenting on the interview, Radio Rossiya said on March 16 that
Yakovlev had initially opposed the introduction of an executive
presidency in the RSFSR but was persuaded to change his mind
during a meeting with younger Russian politicians. (Julia Wishnevsky)


LIBERAL NEWSPAPER SAYS THREAT OF FASCISM EXISTS. As its model
for consolidation, the Soviet Union's ruling group might choose
the ideology of corporate fascism, according to politologist
Mikhail Leont'ev, writing in Nesavismaya gazeta March 15. Faced
with the need to take tough economic measures, the authorities
will be obliged to continue their search for an "enemy," Leont'ev
writes, and have, in fact, already identified the "mafia" and
saboteurs as such. Leon'tev cites a poll conducted by the All-Union
Center for the Study of Public Opinion indicating that 42% of
those polled believe that real power in the country belongs to
the "mafia," and he says Gorbachev himself has described democratic
politicians as "indirectly paid agents" of criminal capital circles.
(Victor Yasmann)

USSR IN THE REPUBLICS

PRELIMINARY REFERENDUM RESULTS. The preliminary results of the
all-Union referendum made available so far are somewhat confusing
since it is not always clear whether TASS is referring to the
total electorate or only to whose who actually voted. Figures
cited by AP on March 18 for seven of the nine republics which
held the referendum give a turnout of between 83% (Ukraine) and
97.7% (Turkmenistan). The vote in favor ranged from 70% of those
voting in Ukraine to 95% in Turkmenistan. In terms of eligible
voters the "yes" vote thus ranged from 58.1% in Ukraine to 92.8%
in Turkmenistan. No overall figure has been given yet for the
RSFSR, or for Azerbaijan, where the turnout was relatively low
at 74%. (Ann Sheehy)

PRELIMINARY REFERENDUM RESULTS FROM UKRAINE. First results from
the referendum in Ukraine say that 73.4% of registered voters
in the republic responded positively to the question posed by
the all-Union referendum regarding maintaining the Soviet Union,
Radio Kiev reported March 18. At the same time, an even higher
percentage-82.8%-supported the republican opinion poll, which
asked if Ukraine should remain part of the Soviet Union on the
basis of its declaration of sovereignty. In Kiev, only 44.5%
of the voters supported the all-Union referendum. The three West
Ukrainian oblasts (Lvov, Ternopil, and Ivano-Frankovsk) registered
the lowest support for the all-Union referendum. Voters in Lvov
Oblast responded to the all-Union referendum with a 76% "no"
vote. In Ternopil, 19.3% voted "yes" in the all-Union referendum
and in Ivano-Frankovsk the corres-ponding figure was 18.2%. (Roman
Solchanyk)

REFERENDUM RESULTS IN BELORUSSIA. Voter turnout in Belorussia
was 83%, with 82.6% in favor of preserving the Union. The results
from the city of Minsk were more ambiguous: turnout was reported
to be 70%, and of these, 60% of the votes were cast in favor
of preserving the Union. An-nouncements of the price hikes to
go into effect throughout the USSR on April 32- were carried
in republican newspapers on the evening of March-17, and sources
in Minsk say that some voters went back to the polling places,
demanding that they be given back their ballots-presumably so
they could change their vote. (Belorussian BD/Kathy Mihalisko)


REFERENDUM IN CENTRAL ASIA. Preliminary results of the March
17 referendum, as reported by TASS on March 18, indicate that,
as expected by Central Asian leaders, voters in their republics
voted heavily for preservation of the union. The figures given
were 94.1% of voters approving in Kazakhstan, with 94.5% favorable
in Kyrgyzstan and 95.2% in Tajikistan. TASS states that more
than 90% of the population of Uzbekistan approved the Union,
but presumably the figure actually refers to the% of voters who
cast favorable votes. The figures provided by TASS suggest that
calls by opposition political groups in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan
for a boycott or votes against the Union were largely unsuccessful.
(Bess Brown)

RADIOROSSIYA ON THE RSFSR REFERENDUM. "How they must hate Russia
and be afraid of her people," a Radio Rossiya moderator lamented
during the evening of March 18, in reference to "Vremya's" failure
report on the results of the RSFSR referendum on the introduction
of a republican presidency. According to Radio Rossiya, 65.5%
of the eligible RSFSR citizens voted on March 17, 78.52% of whom
opted for the creation of an RSFSR presidency. Thus, in accordance
with the RSFSR law on referenda which states that more than half
of the eligible voters must vote in favor of a measure in order
for it to pass, the office of president of the RSFSR will be
created. "Vremya" did report on March 18 that the RSFSR law had-been
amended earlier that day to read "[a measure is con-sidered passed
if] more than the half of those voters who took part in a referendum
amount to more than 50% of those eligible," a change that-was
presumably introduced following the decision of some (autonomous)
republican soviets within the RSFSR not to hold the referendum.
(Julia-Wishnevsky)

MOSCOW RESIDENTS FAVOR DIRECT ELECTION OF CITY MAYOR. Radio Rossiya
also reported that in Moscow, about 68% of the eligible citizens
voted, slightly more than half of whom said "yes" to the preservation
of the Union, 78% of whom opted for the introduction of the RSFSR
presidency, and over 80% of whom favor direct election of the
capital's mayor. (Julia Wishnevsky)

GORBACHEV'S NEIGHBORS DO NOT SHARE HIS VIEWS. Gorbachev appears
to have voted with the minority in the Moscow district in which
he lives, Radio Rossiya reported March 18. The radio cited preliminary
data released by Il'ya Zaslavsky, chairman of the Oktyabr'sky
district soviet, according to which, the majority of district
residents said "no" to the "preservation of a renewed [Soviet]
Union," and "yes" to the introduction of the post of RSFSR president
and to the direct election of the mayor of Moscow. Gorbachev,
however, claims to have voted "yes," "no," and "no," respectively.
(Julia Wishnevsky)

YELTSIN, KHASBULATOV ON QUADRILATERAL TREATY. Yeltsin and his
first deputy Ruslan Khasbulatov appear to differ on the urgency
of a possible quadrilateral treaty between the RSFSR, Ukraine,
Belorussia, and Kazakhstan. Interviewed by Radio Rossiya when
he went to the polls on March 17, Yeltsin said they had not abandoned
the idea, and that if there were difficulties over the signing
of the Union treaty the four republics would sign a treaty among
themselves. Khasbulatov, on the other hand, called at a news
conference on March 18 for the signing of a treaty of quadrilateral
cooperation between the four republics at the first opportunity,
TASS reported. (Ann Sheehy)

WHY ARE NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTIES INEFFECTIVE? In a lengthy article
in Ogonek No.-10, Leningrad political journalist Sergei Andreev
seeks an answer to the widely-debated question of why newly-
created democratic parties in the RSFSR seem unable to act as
a viable opposition to the CPSU. Andreev points out that these
parties do not take into account the concrete interests (including
economic ones) of various groups in society. He suggests replacing
existing parties that have abstract liberal or social democratic
programs by parties of workers, peasants, creative intelligentsia,
etc., i.e., by organizations that deal with the real problems
of real people.(Vera Tolz)

TSIPKO ATTACKS YELTSIN AND HIS SUPPORTERS. Russian philosopher
Aleksandr Tsipko, known for his liberal views, has denounced
Yeltsin's supporters as "neo-Bolsheviks" and "demons" of the
Russian democratic movement. In his latest article, published
in Komsomol'sakaya pravda March 16, Tsipko stressed that it would
be a "tragic mistake" to support Yeltsin in his political struggle
against Gorbachev. He criticized "so-called democrats" for provoking
unjustified fears in society. According to Tsipko, society should
resist not only a return to totalitarian Communism but also calls
for the dismantling of the country. (Alexander Rahr)

COMMERCIAL FOREIGN RADIO IN MOSCOW. A commercial radio station,
"Europe Plus Moscow," a joint-venture between France's "Europe
Plus" and the Soviet group, "Sat Tele Export," has been set up
in Moscow. Radio Moscow World Service in French reported March
12 that French songs and news bulletins in Russian, French, and
English comprise 60% of the station's programming. There are
other commercial radio stations in Moscow, but they differ from
"Europe Plus Moscow" in that they chose to rent short amounts
of broadcast time from Soviet radio stations. (Vera Tolz)

DEMONSTRATIONS BANNED IN CENTRAL MINSK. RFE-RL learned March
14 that the Minsk City Executive Committee has banned demonstrations
and rallies on Lenin Square in central Minsk. The decision was
purportedly based on concern for the disruption of traffic, but
activists charge that the move was directed against the free
expression of opinion. Lenin Square has been the scene of numerous
protest meetings. (Belorussian BD/Kathy Mihalisko)

FOKINELECTED UKRAINIAN PEOPLE'S DEPUTY. Vitol'd Fokin, chairman
of the Ukrainian Council of Ministers, has been elected a Ukrainian
SSR people's deputy, Ukrinform- TASS reported March 18. Fokin
won more than 62% of the vote in a by- election to fill the seat
vacated by former first secretary of the Ukrainian Communist
Party Volodymyr Ivashko. (Roman Solchanyk)

LAST MOLDAVIAN COMMUNIST NEWSPAPER LEFT WITHOUT STAFF. The Moldavian
CP's last remaining native-language republican newspaper remains
"practically without staff" after most of its journalists left
to join other publications, TASS reported March 15, citing Moldovapres.
Cuvantul, launched last September as the Moldavian CP daily after
the Party lost all of its other Moldavian-language republican
newspapers, is languishing with only 6,000 subscribers. The journalists
left to protest against what they termed the "dictatorial policy"
of the Moldavian CP's new First Secretary, Grigore Eremei. Following
Petru Lucinschi's replacement by Eremei, "all democracy has come
to an end in the Moldavian CP," the journalists said. (Vladimir
Socor)

[As of 1300 CET] Compiled by Patrick Moore & Dawn Mann


[English] [Russian TRANS | KOI8 | ALT | WIN | MAC | ISO5]

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