|Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal. - John F. Kennedy|
No. 58, 22 March 1991
BALTIC STATES USSR CONTINUES TO DEMAND MONEY FROM LATVIA. The USSR Finance Ministry has demanded again 4.1 billion rubles from Latvia to help finance Soviet economic programs, reported Diena of March 19. This sum exceeds Latvia's total annual budget and Latvian Finance Minister Elmars Silins said that the demand will be turned down. Latvia also rejected the Soviet demand of 2.2 billion rubles as payment in the fund to help compensate the price increases recently instituted in the USSR. (Dzintra Bungs) IMMIGRATION DECLINES IN LATVIA. In 1990, for the first time in decades, the number of emigrants exceeded the number of immigrants in Latvia. According to information published in Latvijas Jaunatne of March 7-9, the number of departees exceeded the number of new arrivals by 516. In 1990, the intensity of population migration also declined. In 1990, 574 Latvians resettled in Latvia from other regions of the USSR, but the number of Army and MVD personnel increased by 7877. (Dzintra Bungs) NEW TV COMPANY FOUNDED IN LATVIA. Radio Riga reported March 20 that Gunars Klindzans, chairman of the Rezekne raion executive committee, has established a joint-stock company that would beam TV programs primarily to the eastern half of Latvia. Participating in the Latgale TV Company are the cities of Daugavpils and Rezekne; the raions of Daugavpils, Balvi, Kraslava, Ludza, Madona, Preili, and Rezekne; Latgale Cultural Center; and the Latvian TV Technical Center. Also supporting the enterprise are the Latvian State Committee on Television and Radio and Latvian Ministry of Communications. The Latgale TV Company is the first independent television company in Latvia. (Dzintra Bungs) BIRTH RATE DECLINES ONCE AGAIN IN LATVIA. According to Latvian Minister of Health Edvins Platkajis, the birth rate declined and infant mortality rose in Latvia in 1990. A low birth rate has been a chronic problem in Latvia in the postwar decades, and in some years the birth rate has fallen below population replenishment levels. Platkajis did not provide specific figures for these negative trends. Platkajis also told Diena on March 20 that only 38% of births proceed normally. Two-thirds of all pregnant women are considered unhealthy, which increases the risk that their newborn babies will be unhealthy. (Dzintra Bungs) MORE INFORMATION ON SHOOTING INCIDENT IN VILNIUS. Director-general of the Lithuanian National Defense Department Audrius Butkevicius told the Lithuanian parliament, in a session broadcast live over Radio Kaunas on March 21, that OMON troops in Vilnius claimed they had tried to stop a bus carrying 7 Lithuanian border guards on March 20 because the military commissariat in the Salcininkai raion had reported that the bus contained weapons. Claims that the OMON guards had fired on the bus only after being shot at were clearly false, he said, since the Lithuanian guards were unarmed and no weapons were found on the bus. AP reported March 21 that the deputy head of the OMON garrison, Colonel Mironenko, had told Lithuanian officials that the troops were "acting on their own, and this was not sanctioned." (Saulius Girnius) PRICE RISES IN LITHUANIA. On March 21 Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius said that prices of food and many other items would be increased on March 26, TASS reported Thursday. The new prices were not revealed, but they are not likely to provoke the great protests that led to the resignation of Prime Minister Kazimiera Prunskiene in January since compensation payments to the population (e.g. 105 rubles to workers) started being paid out this month.. Radio Kaunas reported on March 18 that prices of medicines would be increased substantially as of that day. (Saulius Girnius) PROTESTS AGAINST SEIZURES OF BUILDINGS CONTINUE. Demands for the return of the Vilnius television tower and other buildings seized by the Soviet military continue. A hunger strike by radio and television workers begun on March 6 has not been halted. On March 20 Radio Kaunas reported that the Lithuania-Russia Society had begun a picket that day in front of the USSR procuracy in Moscow demanding the return of the buildings. The picket was scheduled to last several days. On March 22 Radio Kaunas also reported that about 70 people in Utena announced that they would hold a one-day hunger strike calling for the return of the buildings. (Saulius Girnius) LITHUANIAN-GERMAN AFFAIRS. Lithuanian parliament deputy Antanas Racas told the RFE Lithuanian Service on March 20 about his work at a Lithuanian information bureau established at the Lithuanian high school in Huettenfeld. Racas said that during a visit to Bonn it was agreed that a delegation of 6 or 7 Lithuanian parliamentarians would make an official visit to the Bundestag on April 17-19. Racas also said that the SPD suggestion that a Baltic information bureau be established in Bonn appears now to have the support of the Christian Democrat Party, one of whose members will travel to Copenhagen and Brussels to get more information about the Baltic information bureaus in those cities. Racas will speak at a conference in Wiesbaden on March 24-25 on Lithuania-Hessen cooperation. (Saulius Girnius) LITHUANIAN STATE SECURITY DEPARTMENT DIRECTOR RESIGNS. Radio Kaunas reported March 21 that the previous day the Lithuanian parliament satisfied the request of Director-General of the Lithuanian State Security Mecys Laurinkus to resign. Deputy director of the department Viktoras Zegelis was promoted to director-general. (Saulius Girnius) USSR--ALL-UNION TOPICS ALL REPUBLICS TO BE BOUND BY MARCH 17 REFERENDUM RESULTS. On Thursday, the USSR Supreme Soviet adopted a resolution stating that the results of the March 17 referendum on the future of the Soviet Union will be binding on all 15 Union republics, TASS reported March 21. The resolution reads: "All state bodies of the Soviet Union and the republics must accept...the decision of the people as expressed in the referendum on the maintenance of a renewed union." Supreme Soviet members denounced "violations of human rights by republican governments under slogans of national sovereignty and democracy." (Dawn Mann) SUPREME SOVIET CALLS FOR BAN ON MARCH 28 RALLY. A resolution passed by the USSR Supreme Soviet on March 21 says the planned March 28 rally called by Democratic Russia should be banned by the Moscow city council because it will create "an explosive situation," TASS reported Thursday. The rally, scheduled to coincide with the opening day of the RSFSF Congress of People's Deputies special session, will "disrupt public order," the resolution adds, and USSR First Deputy Prime Minister Vitalii Doguzhiev said the rally would "threaten people's lives." The resolution calls on the Moscow city council and the USSR Cabinet of Ministers to take steps to ensure public safety on March 28. (NCA) SUPREME SOVIET DENOUNCES STRIKES, SILAEV TO KUZBASS. At the same sitting--by a vote of 299 for, with 16 against and 20 abstentions--the Supreme Soviet adopted a resolution denouncing the miners' strike, TASS reported March 21. The resolution criticizes the miners for thinking that "political ultimatums" can solve economic and social problems: "this method could have catastrophic consequences for the entire country" and is "very dangerous." RSFSR Prime Minister Ivan Silaev traveled to the Kuzbass last night, and RSFSR Deputy Prime Minister Yurii Skokov set out for Vorkuta to met with miners. RFE/RL also learned yesterday that USSR people's deputies Nikolai Ivanov and Telman Gdlyan have decided to join miners who have been on a hunger strike since last week. (Dawn Mann) MEETING OF PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE ON GLASNOST'. The USSR Supreme Soviet Committee on Glasnost' met March 21 to discuss how the implementation of the USSR press law adopted last year. According to "Vremya," participants also mentioned the need to quickly adopt a new law on "the peoples' right to information." This law, which is supposed to clarify what sort of information constitutes a state secret, was supposed to be ready for public discussion by January 1, 1991, but has not yet been published. "Vremya" only briefly mentioned, without giving any details, that some participants in the March 21 meeting had complained that the press law is often violated in the provinces. The Soviet press, however, has carried many reports about how local CPSU officials have arbitrarily interfered in the work of the media. (Vera Tolz) US AMBASSADOR IN MOSCOW CRITICIZES "VREMYA." The US Ambassador to Moscow, Jack Matlock, criticized the Soviet Central Television's primary news program, "Vremya," for the revival of an old habit: blaming Soviet problems on foreign interference. At a press briefing on March 21, Matlock said that under Leonid Kravchenko, the new head of Soviet television and radio, "Vremya" had gone beyond editorial comment and was now expressing the views of specific state structures. Matlock's comments were summarized by Western agencies, and Soviet television's alternative news program, TSN, carried a brief report on it as well, but failed to quote Matlock's specific references to "Vremya." (Vera Tolz) KGB SUCCESSFUL IN ITS STRUGGLE WITH "SHADOW ECONOMY." Hidden goods and medicine worth some 300 million rubles rubles have been recovered and returned to retail stores since last November, when Gorbachev tasked the KGB with dealing with "economic sabotage" and speculation, Pravitel'stvennyi vestnik No. 11 reported. The Chief of the KGB Public Relations Center, Alexander Karabainov, said that over 600 legal cases have been brought to trial, and the KGB is inspecting the procurement abroad of obsolete equipment and the misuse of imported technology. In the Moscow region, for example, imported equipment worth 118 million rubles was found standing idle. Karabainov stressed that KGB involvement in the prevention and discovery of economic crime is a provisional measure dictated by "difficult times." (Victor Yasmann) HURD FAVORS GORBACHEV, UNION. On the second day of his four-day visit in the Soviet Union, British Foreign Minister Douglas Hurd said, "we support the continuation of reform as associated with President Gorbachev. The continuance of the Soviet Union, albeit voluntary and transformed, seems to us in the general interest." Hurd did not specify whose interest he had in mind. Hurd met with Mikhail Gorbachev, Foreign Minister Aleksandr Bessmertnykh, and RSFSR Chairman Boris Yeltsin on March 21. After these meetings, Hurd commented: "Nothing I have heard from anyone suggests that the way forward [in reforms] is going to be easy or the solutions quick," Reuters reported March 21. (Suzanne Crow) HURD ANNOUNCES OPENING OF CONSULATE IN KIEV. Hurd announced on March 21 his country's plans to open a consulate in the Ukraine. Hurd also noted that an representative from the Ukraine would be posted at the Soviet embassy in London. Hurd said Britain had "no plans" to open diplomatic missions in Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania, AFP reported March 21. (Suzanne Crow) JAPAN OFFERS AID FOR ISLANDS. The Japanese daily Yomiuri Shimbun March 21 said Tokyo has offered aid to Moscow if the disputed Kurile Islands are returned to Japan. The paper said "high-ranking Kremlin officials" disclosed the plan on March 20. Unidentified diplomatic sources are quoted as saying the plan includes an aid package of several billion dollars for automobile manufacturing plants, several billion dollars for petrochemical plants, and two billion for oil and natural gas development on Sakhalin Island. Another Japanese paper, Mainichi Shimbun, said Japan will offer $450 million in aid simply for Moscow's agreement to start talks on the islands, Reuters reported March 21. (Suzanne Crow) YAZOV MEETS WITH RICHARD NIXON. Soviet Defense Minister Dmitrii Yazov met with former US President Richard Nixon for an hour-and-a-half on March 21, TASS reported. According to Yazov, the two agreed that the "Cold War" was a thing of the past, and emphasized the importance of nuclear non-proliferation. General Staff Chief Mikhail Moiseev took part in the discussions along with two Western Soviet specialists. (Stephen Foye) THOUGHTS ON THE GULF AIR WAR. In one of the first in-depth analyses of the Gulf War, Krasnaya zvezda March 14 carries an interview with the Chief of the Air Force's Main Staff, Lieutenant General Anatolii Malyukov. He said that the Iraqis had clearly underestimated the strength of modern airpower, and argued that the allied campaign in the Gulf did not represent an application of NATO "Airland Battle" principles, but was a classic example of offensive air operations. Malyukov attributed the one-sided air battle in the gulf to Iraqi tactical and operational-strategic errors, and to the human factor. He praised "smart" weapons, but said they would be less useful in battles between evenly matched opponents. He emphasized the complexity and size of the allied air effort, and said that the USSR could clearly learn from the war. (Stephen Foye) USSR--IN THE REPUBLICS YELTSIN PREPARED TO RUN FOR RSFSR PRESIDENT IN AUGUST. Pavel Voshchanov, an aide to chairman of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet Boris Yeltsin, has indicated that his boss intends to run for presidential elections in the RSFSR by late summer. The Boston Globe March 21 quoted him as saying that elections could not be held before August because the RSFSR Congress of People's Deputies has first to decide upon legal procedures. 78% of those who voted on March 17 were in favor of the introduction of the post of RSFSR president. Some RSFSR people's deputies are afraid that conservatives will now intensify their attacks on democrats, but they have rejected the possibility that Yeltsin may be ousted at the forthcoming RSFSR Congress of People's Deputies because, they say, even the conservatives realize that such a move would only reinforce Yeltsin's popularity. (Alexander Rahr) KARAGANDA MINERS AGREE NOT TO STRIKE FOR THREE MONTHS. Radio Moscow, quoting Komsomolskaya pravda, reported on March 21 that Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbaev has convinced coal miners in Karaganda Oblast, who had threatened to resume their strike on March 30, not to strike for three months. In return, he promised to seek solutions to their problems. In a brief Radio Moscow interview with Nazarbaev (and Petr Shlegel, head of the territorial committee of the independent Coal Miners' Union), Nazarbaev said that he had discussed with Gorbachev the possibility of allowing Karaganda coal to be used in barter exchanges for food and consumer goods and proposed the creation of a State Committee for Fuel that would assist miners and petroleum workers. (NCA/Bess Brown) UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT REFUSES TO GRANT MINERS' PAY DEMANDS. Yurii Boldyrev, a spokesman for the striking Donbass call miners, told AP March 21 that the Ukrainian authorities have refused to grant demands for large pay increases. Seventy miners met in Kiev on Thursday with Ukrainian Prime Minister Vitold Fokin and his deputy, Viktor Hladush. Boldyrev announced that the miners decided to break off talks and declined to sign a pledge to return to work. Radio Kiev said yesterday that 50 of Ukraine's 241 mines are still on strike. In another labor dispute, almost the entire service staff of government dachas outside Kiev has walked off the job and raised demands for higher pay and new apartments. (NCA/Kathy Mihalisko) DISCUSSION OF SEPARATE UKRAINIAN CURRENCY. The Ukrainian parliament is in the midst of discussing a new republican law on banks and banking activity. Article 1 of the draft endorses the creation of a Ukrainian currency in place of the ruble, an idea which, according to Radio Kiev March 20, is supported by Prime Minister Fokin and many other members of the Supreme Soviet. A German firm has reportedly printed the first sample sheet of the currency, to be called the hryvna. (Kathy Mihalisko) MOLDAVIAN CONSTITUTION TO REST ON "INDEPENDENCE, LIBERTY". The first working session of the commission empowered to draft a new Moldavian constitution resolved that this document will be based on the principles of "independence and liberty," Moldovapres reported March 21. Opening the session, President Mircea Snegur told the commission that the pressures exerted on Moldavia by the USSR Supreme Soviet, the armed forces, the central Soviet media, and the economic ministries in connection with the Union referendum (which Moldavia boycotted) underscored the need for accelerating the drafting of the new Moldavian constitution. (Vladimir Socor) BELORUSSIAN CHRISTIAN MEDICAL WORKERS ORGANIZE. TASS reported March 21 that doctors, nurses, and others working in the medical profession and representatives of the Church of Evangelic Christian-Baptists of Belorussia attended the founding conference of the Belorussian Christian Association of Medical Workers. The serious medical situation in the republic was discussed, and data were cited on the growing number of divorces, suicides, etc. Anyone who believes in Christian values can join the new association, TASS reported. (Oxana Antic) NOVRUZ DECLARED OFFICIAL HOLIDAY IN TURKMENISTAN. Turkmen president Saparmurad Niyazov issued a decree declaring Novruz, the March 21 traditional celebration of the Persian New Year, an official holiday in Turkmenistan, Turkmenskaya iskra reported February 28. Novruz had already been declared an official holiday in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. It had been frowned upon, if not prohibited outright, by Soviet officials who claimed the holiday was Islamic. (Bess Brown) SUPREME SOVIET DEPUTY A HERO! USSR Supreme Soviet member Nikolai Sazonov prevented a hijacking attempt on March 14, TASS reported March 20. Sazonov was on board a "Tataria Airlines" aircraft, on his way to his constituency in Naberezhnye Chelny. Together with two stewardesses, Sazonov wrestled with a man armed with a knife and a canister of tear gas who was insisting that the pilot take him "anywhere abroad." The plane returned to Moscow's Domodedovo airport, where the would-be hijacker--an unemployed 22-year-old youth from Saratov--was arrested. Sazonov is the leader of the small Social Democratic faction in the USSR Supreme Soviet and is famous for having proposed that the Supreme Soviet pass judgement on the activities of both the CPSU as a whole and the Politburo. (Julia Wishnevsky)
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