Every man passes his life in the search after friendship. - Emerson
RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 59, 25 March 1991





BALTIC REPUBLICS

BALTIC COUNCIL MEETING IN JURMALA. The Baltic Council, consisting
of top leaders from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, met in Jurmala
on March 22 to evaluate the Baltic situation. This was their
first meeting since the Soviet crackdown in January in Lithuania
and Latvia. The Baltic leaders called for an international conference
to discuss ways to restore independence in their countries and
they appealed for help in gaining membership in the CSCE, Reuters
and Radio Riga reported March 23. (Dzintra Bungs)

LATVIAN CITIZENS' CONGRESS SESSION ENDS INCONCLUSIVELY. On March
23 and 24 representatives of the Latvian Citizens' Congress convened
in Riga for its fifth session. The citizens' movement is plagued
by disunity and financial problems. Many delegates wanted to
elect a new leadership, but this was not possible because on
the second day there was not quorum. The congress also failed
to map out some solutions to the financial problems. According
to RFE Latvian Service correspondent's report of March 24, after
two days of stormy debates the session ended inconclusively without
resolving any of the serious problems that the participants had
hoped to resolve. (Dzintra Bungs)

USSR MILITARY PRESENCE IN LATVIA. On March 17, Eriks Tilgass,
identified as a Latvian government adviser on military affairs,
told Latvian Television that, according to the information that
he had been able to obtain, there were 120,000 Soviet soldiers
stationed in Latvia and that USSR troops continue to be transferred
from Eastern Europe to three regions in Latvia, including Talsi.
On March 18, Radio Riga remarked that these figures tend to be
low when compared to other recent estimates. According to Tilgass,
the Soviet military occupies 326 sites in Latvia that add up
to over 70,000 hectares of land for which they pay no rent or
invest in its upkeep. (Dzintra Bungs)

LATVIAN DEMOCRATIC GROUPS ON CITIZENSHIP RIGHTS. According to
Radio Riga March 23, the People's Front of Latvia, and nine other
pro-independence organizations have adopted a statement on Latvian
citizenship. The statement says that the issues concerning Latvian
citizenship cannot be resolved until Latvia gains de facto independence
from the USSR. The ten groups also condemned interethnic strife
and violence and said that they "are ready to protect [the rights
of] any inhabitant of Latvia regardless of his nationality or
citizenship." (Dzintra Bungs)

FORMER PRESIDENT NIXON IN LITHUANIA. Former US President Richard
Nixon visited Lithuania on March 23 and 24 at the invitation
of President Vytautas Landsbergis. Radio Kaunas reported March
24 that thousands of cheering people lined the streets of Vilnius
leading from the airport to the Lithuanian parliament building.
Nixon met with Landsbergis, Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius,
the chairmen of the parliament's commissions, leaders of political
parties, and representatives of ethnic minority groups. He also
visited the buildings seized by the Soviet military in January
and placed flowers on the graves of some of the victims of the
attack. Nixon said that the independence of Lithuania was "inevitable."
(Saulius Girnius)

USSR--ALL-UNION

TEMPORARY TAXATION MEASURES. On March 24, TASS carried two presidential
decrees connected with the retail price increases scheduled for
April 2. The first listed temporary (of unspecified duration)
taxation provisions that a) lowered the corporation tax from
45% to 35%, b) raised the enterprise manpower tax ceiling to
480 rubles a month per worker or employee, c) raised kolkhoz
manpower taxes to 160 rubles a month for each kolkhoznik employed
in the public sector, and d) raised monthly income relief on
individual taxation to 160 rubles (Keith Bush)

INDEXATION OF SAVINGS ACCOUNTS. The second decree of March 24
provided for offset payments amounting to 40% of the value of
savings deposits held on March 1. Together with increments to
wages and monetary transfer payments, this is intended partially
to compensate the population for the forthcoming retail price
increases. Offset payments of up to 200 rubles will be payable
from July 1. Compensation payments above this level will be frozen
for three years, although they will earn interest of 7% per annum.
Since current rates of inflation are considerably in excess of
7%, this provision will reduce the real value of savings and
will adversely affect public confidence. (Keith Bush)

FURTHER DECLINE IN OUTPUT. Gross industrial output during the
first two months of 1991 fell by 4.5% compared with the corresponding
period of 1990, according to The Financial Times of March 22,
citing Goskomstat data. The reasons given were: shortages of
raw materials; the breaking of contracts; the failure to conclude
contracts; and industrial disputes. (The latter excludes the
coalminers' strike that started on March 1). Physical declines
included soap--down 17%, and cigarettes--down 6%. (Keith Bush)


MINERS' REFUSE TO RETURN TO WORK. USSR Prime Minister Valentin
Pavlov on Friday called on striking coalminers to return to work
today, but strike leaders say the strike will continue, news
agencies reported over the weekend. Speaking on Central Television
on Saturday, Pavlov said that a continuation of the strike would
mean that all workers, including miners, would have to work for
several years to repair the economic damage. USSR Minister of
the Coal Industry Mikhail Shchadov, also interviewed on television
Saturday, said the strike is affect many other sectors of the
economy and that his ministry cannot deal with political demands,
but that it will try to resolve economic problems. The USSR government
formed 11 special commissions on Friday and sent dispatched members
to coal-producing areas to negotiate, TASS reported that day.
(Dawn Mann)

GORBACHEV INDICATES REPUBLICS MAY LEAVE. USSR President Mikhail
Gorbachev indicated in his interview with Der Spiegel on March
25 that those republics wishing to secede from the Soviet Union
may do so and would subsequently be treated by the Kremlin as
subjects of international law. He added, however, that the republics
could secede only in accordance with existing Soviet law. Gorbachev
compared the republican drive for independence with the shift
of former East European allies from Moscow to the West in 1989,
noting that today these former allies are again seeking to re-establish
ties with the Soviet Union. Gorbachev said that to quit the Soviet
federation would be "madness" and that even Jesus Christ could
not succeed in splitting Soviet society. (Alexander Rahr)

POLITICAL PARTIES FACE REGISTRATION PROBLEMS. The majority of
political parties, including the CPSU, still have not submitted
to the USSR and republican Ministries of Justice the documents
necessary to obtain official registration as required under the
new law on public associations. TASS reported March 22 that "the
second round" of registrations took place at the USSR Justice
Ministry that day, 22 non-political groups were registered. So
far, none of the self-proclaimed all-Union political parties
have been able to meet the registration requirements. Several
parties, have, however, been registered in the RSFSR, by republican
authorities there earlier this year. (Vera Tolz)

IVASHKO CLAIMS DECLINE IN PARTY MEMBERSHIP HAS HALTED. In its
Press Review on March 23, TASS cited deputy general secretary
Vladimir Ivashko as saying that "one out of every 9 people who
left the CPSU in 1990 is now coming back" and that hundreds of
thousands joined the Party last year. (Suzanne Crow)

REPORT ON SOLDIERS' DEATHS HUSHED UP. Knight-Ridder Newspapers
reported March 24 that a study on peacetime deaths in the Soviet
army--which charges that thousands of soldiers have been tortured,
beaten, or killed by fellow soldiers--has been suppressed by
the military. Written by a commission formed in November 1990
on the orders of Gorbachev, the study claimed that 6,000 to 10,000
suspicious deaths had occurred between 1986 and 1990. The main
causes of violence reportedly were: rivalry between ethnic groups,
hazing of new recruits by officers, and harassment of younger
soldiers by older ones. A TASS account said only that peacetime
deaths were caused by "weak discipline." (Stephen Foye)

GORBACHEV ON FOREIGN POLICY. In his Der Spiegel interview, Gorbachev
was asked to comment on the extent to which his significant successes
in foreign policy helped him. Gorbachev said, "what we did in
foreign affairs was necessary for us and everybody else." On
the Gulf, Gorbachev noted, "we have reminded our American friends
that the situation regarding the presence of troops must be returned
to that which existed on August 1 of last year," TASS reported
March 25. (Suzanne Crow)

BESSMERTNYKH TO CHINA. Foreign Minister Aleksandr Bessmertnykh
will visit China from March 31 to April 2, the Chinese Foreign
Ministry announced March 24. Bessmertnykh extends the series
of recent Soviet visits to China and will likely make preparations
for the prospective May 1991 visit of Chinese Communist Party
chief Jiang Zemin, the first visit by a high-level Chinese Party
leader since 1957, AFP and AP reported March 24. (Suzanne Crow)


SUPREME SOVIET COMMITTEES ON GERMAN TREATIES. The USSR Supreme
Soviet Committees on Defense and Security and on International
Affairs met on March 22 and decided to recommend conditional
ratification of the two remaining treaties with Germany concerning
the withdrawal of Soviet troops and Bonn's financial assistance
connected with this pullout. As TASS reported March 22, the two
treaties with Germany received "great attention" and "specific
proposals" connected with their ratification were made. TASS
has not yet reported on details of the committees' proposals,
but it is widely suspected that the Supreme Soviet will seek
more German compensation for the Soviet pullout. (Suzanne Crow)


ADVISERS TO COME OUT OF CAMBODIA. Unidentified Soviet officials
told AFP on March 24 that Moscow is preparing to pull its technicians
out of Cambodia due to economic problems in the Soviet Union.
The technicians work in the water and electricity plants in Cambodia.
Moscow has also recently cut financial aid to the besieged Phnom
Penh government. (Suzanne Crow)

INDIA TO EXTEND FRIENDSHIP TREATY. India's Foreign Secretary
Muchkund Dubey discussed the extension of New Delhi's 1971 Treaty
of Friendship with the Soviet Union in view of its scheduled
expiration in August 1991. While the treaty calls for automatic
renewal for five-year terms after the initial twenty-year period,
Dubey told reporters that the new term would be longer--perhaps
up to 20 years, the New York Times reported March 24. (Suzanne
Crow)

KRASNAYA ZVEZDA ON SOVIET MILITARY POWER. A staff writer for
the armed force's newspaper charged on March 22 that the Soviet
Union has become a second-rate power in relation to the "hyper
power" of the U.S. As summarized by Reuters, the author, Captain
S. Sidorov, said Washington no longer viewed Moscow as an equal
and implied that the U.S. was likely to throw its weight around
as a result of the Gulf War. Sidorov argued that a primary reason
for the USSR's strategic decline was domestic instability. He
said that until a political consensus is forged, Moscow "shall
obtain nothing from the Americans but attempted 'diktat' and
other manifestations of the Persian syndrome." (Stephen Foye)


RUSSIAN PHILOSOPHER ON DISINTEGRATION OF USSR. The monthly magazine
of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Troops, Na boevom postu (No.
1) reprinted an essay by the famous emigre philosopher, Ivan
Il'in, titled "What will the dismemberment of Russia bring to
the world?" In this futuristic work, written in late 1940's,
Il'in forecast that after the fallacy of the Communist regime
in the USSR had been exposed, "world propaganda" would be tempted
to encourage the disintegration of the USSR, a step that would,
Il'in argued, be extremely dangerous and lead only to chaos.
The only way to prevent anarchy would be to establish a "Russian
national dictatorship" that would suppress all separatist movements,
Il'in, who died in 1954, wrote. The magazine's editorial comment
was that "democracy and liberty" could not justify the splitting
of a monolithic state--such a split would eventually spell the
end of world civilization.(Victor Yasmann)

COSSACK SQUADS HELP ARMY, MVD WITH JOINT PATROLS. Strong young
men in 1913-style Cossacks' uniforms have joined the MVD and
the Army in patrolling the streets, airports, and railway stations
of Eastern Siberian cities, according to Komsomol'skaya pravda
March 22. The young men belong to the Baikal Cossack community,
which decided to form its own squads to maintain public order.
The Cossacks volunteers were trained by local MVD the officers.
Last December, Komsomolskaya pravda reported on the desire of
Orenburg Cossacks to volunteer in the KGB Border Troops. The
newspaper has also expressed its concern over the revival of
a Cossack tradition: whipping people found guilty of immoral
behavior. On February 9, Komsomol'skaya pravda reported on the
occurrence of a whipping in the Kuban' Cossack community. (Victor
Yasmann)

RESTORERS VERSUS CLERGY. Radio Rossiya March 22 reported on a
press-conference that was organized in connection with the opening
of an exhibition, "Paintings of Pskov in the 13th through the
17th Centuries." Emotions flared during the press conference
over the return of some "cultural memorials," that is, monasteries
and church buildings, to the Russian Orthodox Church. Radio Rossiya
broadcast remarks made by the chairman of the Restorers' Association
of the USSR, Savelii Yamtchekov, who accused the Church of having
let unique wall paintings and other art treasures rot. (Oxana
Antic)

USSR--IN THE REPUBLICS



GAMSAKHURDIA, YELTSIN REACH AGREEMENT ON SOUTH OSSETIA. On March
23 RSFSR Supreme Soviet chairman Boris Yeltsin travelled to Vladikavkaz,
the capital of the North Ossetian ASSR, where he told a large
rally that he would try to send relief for Ossetian refugees
from Georgia. Radio Rossii reported that Yeltsin then travelled
south to Georgia where he met with Georgian Supreme Soviet chairman
Zviad Gamsakhurdia in the village of Kazbegi. The two men agreed
on measures to halt ethnic clashes in South Ossetia. According
to Interfax, these include creation of a joint militia force
to disarm illegal groups and keep order, and requesting the withdrawal
of USSR Defence Ministry units. They also agreed on an accord
between Georgia and the RSFSR to be signed before the end of
April. (Liz Fuller)

BUT FIGHTING CONTINUES. TASS reported March 24 that heavy fighting
was continuing in South Ossetia for the fourth consecutive day.
Shells were fired at Tskhinvali on the night of March 23-24;
residents were beaten in two Ossetian villages on March 24, and
homes set ablaze in two further villages. Eight Ossetians are
reported to have been wounded. The TASS report contradicts an
earlier claim by the Georgian Interior Ministry that the ceasefire
reported on March 20 was still in force. On March 22 TASS reported
reprisals against Ossetians living elsewhere in Georgia. (Liz
Fuller)

RSFSR SUPREME SOVIET DEBATES YELTSIN. On March 23, debate broke
out in the RSFSR Supreme Soviet over Yeltsin's remarks to Leningrad's
Kirov factory workers (see below), TASS reported March 24. TASS
reported that Yeltsin was both criticized and defended (he himself
was on his way to North Ossetia). sendimir Isakov, chairman of
the RSFSR Supreme Soviet Council of the Republic, told Sovetskaya
Rossiya March 23 that Yeltsin is establishing a "ruthless" dictatorship
and "suppressing all dissent." Isakov is one of those who called
for the upcoming special session of the RSFSR Congress of People's
Deputies at which conservatives hope to remove Yeltsin from office.
On March 17, a special question was put to voters in Isakov's
district, asking whether they wanted to recall Isakov as their
deputy--two-thirds voted in favor. (Dawn Mann/Julia Wishnevsky)


YELTSIN INTENSIFIES CAMPAIGN AGAINST GORBACHEV. Yeltsin told
workers at the Kirov industrial plant in Leningrad last Friday
that if he is elected RSFSR president he would purge Communist
Party officials from local government posts, Reuters reported
March 22. The same day, Leningrad Television broadcast a part
of Yeltsin's speech, in which he said, "today we need to save
the country not from the enemy without, but from the enemy within."
He urged the factory workers to abandon their ties to the center
and to place themselves under the jurisdiction of the RSFSR parliament
and offered them financial inducements to do so. Yeltsin repeated
his accusations against USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev, adding
that the latter has no desire to accommodate the RSFSR. Workers
at the Kirov plant have promised to go on strike if Yeltsin is
unseated at the upcoming RSFSR Congress of People's Deputies,
Reuters reported March 23. (Alexander Rahr)

THURSDAY'S RALLY NOT BANNED. The Moscow city council has given
Democratic Russia permission to hold a rally in Moscow's Manege
Square on March 28, the opening day of the RSFSR Congress of
People's Deputies, Radio Moscow reported March 23. The USSR Supreme
Soviet last Thursday issued a resolution urging the city council
to ban the rally (Daily Report, March 22). That resolution authorized
the USSR government to take steps to ensure order and safety,
and on March 24 Gorbachev ordered the USSR Cabinet of Ministers
to "take all necessary measures" to maintain order, TASS reported
that day. Gorbachev acted in response to an appeal sent to him
by 29 RSFSR people's deputies, who charged that at past congresses
deputies were psychologically "terrorized" and even physically
attacked, and that Yeltsin and other officials have not responded
to their calls for protection. (Dawn Mann)

YELTSIN VISITS CHECHEN-INGUSH REPUBLIC. Yeltsin continued his
tour of the southern parts of the RSFSR with a visit March 24
to the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Republic, TASS reported that
day. In the town of Nazrany, Yeltsin addressed a rally that has
been under way for nearly two weeks. Demonstrators have been
demanding restoration of the autonomous status of the Ingush
people, abolished in 1934. They are also demanding the return
of territory transferred to neighboring North Ossetia after the
Ingush were evicted from their native land in 1944. TASS says
that, in a speech at the rally, Yeltsin offered to help restore
the autonomy of the Ingush people. But he suggested that the
territorial dispute with North Ossetia be resolved through negotiations
involving the RSFSR parliament. (NCA)

YELTSIN MEETS HURD. In a meeting with British foreign secretary
Douglas Hurd, Yeltsin described the process underway in the Soviet
Union as "reorganization on a truly democratic basis." TASS March
21 quoted him saying that it is "high time" to raise relations
between the Russian Federation and Britain to a higher level.
RSFSR foreign minister Andrei Kozyrev, who participated in the
meeting, told reporters later that Yeltsin had dispelled Western
apprehensions that the Soviet Union is heading towards civil
war. Kozyrev said Yeltsin described the economic reform process
in the Russian Federation at length and that both sides have
agreed to promote further contacts between representatives of
the RSFSR and Britain. (Alexander Rahr)

BOLDYREV SAYS MINERS WILL SHOW SUPPORT FOR YELTSIN. Ukrainian
strike leader Yurii Boldyrev, a USSR people's deputy, said March
24 that striking miners from the Donbass, Kuzbass, and possibly
other regions will meet in Moscow on March 27-28 to try to unify
their demands, AP and Reuters reported. The meeting is timed
to coincide with the opening of the RSFSR Congress of People's
Deputies, at which there may be an attempt by Communists to put
a vote of no confidence in Yeltsin. Boldyrev says that the meeting
will show the miners' support for Yeltsin. (NCA/Kathy Mihalisko)


KRAVCHUK SAYS MINERS SHOULD NEGOTIATE WITH REPUBLIC. Speaking
March 22 in the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet to representatives of
the Donbass coal miners, chairman Leonid Kravchuk upbraided the
strikers for turning to the central government in Moscow for
help. As quoted by Ukrinform-TASS, Kravchuk stressed that economic
problems are a matter for the Ukrainian government and parliament
alone, and he wondered why the striking regions, which had voted
by a large majority in favor of Ukraine's sovereignty in the
March 17 republican plebiscite, should now be "bringing the republic
to its knees." (Kathy Mihalisko)

STRIKES IN WEST DONBASS RULED ILLEGAL. The Dnepropetrovsk oblast'
court ruled March 22 that strikes at the Pavlograd Coal conglomerate
and at the "Heroes of the Cosmos" mines are illegal, in accordance
with the USSR law on labor conflicts that was passed in October,
1989. Radio Kiev-3 explained that the strikers, for their part,
are arguing that work stoppages this month are a continuation
of the strikes held in the summer of 1989, before that law was
passed. (Kathy Mihalisko)

MOLDAVIAN POPULAR FRONT AIDING STRIKING MINERS. The Moldavian
Popular Front's Executive Committee appealed March 22 to the
people of Moldavia to send aid to striking coal miners in Russia
and the Ukraine. It urged people to bring food parcels to special
collection points and to donate money into a special bank account
in Kishinev for the miners. The appeal said that the central
authorities "oppose not only the interests of the outlying national
republics but also those of Russia, seeking to perpetuate the
humiliation and impoverishment of all peoples of the USSR including
the Russian people." (Vladimir Socor)

CRIMEAN ASSR CHOOSES NEW CHAIRMAN, PREPARES CONSTITUTION. The
first session of the Supreme Soviet of the recently reestablished
Crimean autonomous republic was held March 22. Radio Kiev-2 announced
that Nikolai Bagrov, chairman of the Crimean Oblast soviet, and
his deputy, Georgii Kapshuk, were elected to the chairmanship
and deputy chairmanship of the Crimean ASSR. A commission was
created to work out a constitution for the autonomous republic,
and it was decided to elect 39 new deputies to the Crimean SupSov
from among the deported nationalities. (Kathy Mihalisko)

MOLDAVIA CONCERNED OVER POSSIBLE EXCEPTIONAL MEASURES. The Moldavian
Supreme Soviet presidium made public March 23 a resolution condemning
"the slander campaign against Moldavia" which, it said, was being
conducted by Pravda, Krasnaya Zvezda, Central Television, and
other central media organs, as well as by the USSR Supreme Soviet
deputies including Marshal Sergei Akhromeev and the chairman
of the Soyuz group, Yurii Blokhin. The Moldavian presidium expressed
concern that the campaign is designed "to prepare the ground
for imposing exceptional measures in Moldavia, bringing the Moldavian
people back into a state of vassalage and raising the danger
of Moldavia's territorial dismemberment," in retaliation for
Moldavia's boycott of the Union referendum. (Vladimir Socor)


KISHINEV SCORES ROMANIAN NONRECOGNITION. The Moldavian parliament's
newspaper Sfatul Tarii March 22 criticized the Romanian government
for failing to distinguish between residents of Moldavia and
other Soviet citizens in terms of visa, residency, border traffic,
and currency exchange regulations. Complaining that the new Romanian-Soviet
agreement on the matter did not include any facilities for Moldavians,
Sfatul Tarii commented that Romania is "tacitly failing to recognize
the sovereignty of the Republic of Moldavia," negotiating instead
directly with Moscow and bypassing Kishinev on issues of direct
interest to Moldavia. The article was clearly timed to the Romanian
Foreign Minister's impending stopover in Kishinev. (Vladimir
Socor)

ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN KISHINEV. Stopping over in Kishinev
March 24 on his return to Romania from an official visit to Moscow
and Kiev, Romanian Foreign Minister Adrian Nastase met briefly
with the Moldavian leadership. Moldovapres said that the sides
discussed "the need to improve their coordination." President
Mircea Snegur commented on the need for special border-crossing
facilities for Romanian and Moldavian residents only. Rompres
cited Nastase as envisaging a "cultural confederation" and eventually
an "economic confederation" of Romania and Moldavia--in fact
the formula launched by Snegur on his visit to Romania last month.
(Vladimir Socor)

VOTING BEGINS IN GEORGIAN REFERENDUM. TASS reported March 23
that voting had begun in Georgia for those who, for whatever
reason, would be prevented from participating in the referendum
planned for March 31 on whether Georgia's independent status
of 1918-1921 should be restored. (Liz Fuller)

IRANIAN DELEGATION VISITS AZERBAIJAN. Tehran Domestic Radio reported
March 22 that a political and cultural delegation headed by Ayatollah
Musavi-Ardebili is visiting Baku. The Ayatollah participated
in a special 45 minute broadcast on Azerbaijani television on
the occasion of Nowruz; he also met with Azerbaijani President
and CP first secretary Ayaz Mutalibov. (Liz Fuller)

"MUSCOVITES CHOOSE FREEDOM OF THE PRESS." This was the conclusion
drawn by Nezavisimaya gazeta February 7, in its reportage on
an opinion poll conducted by the Moscow branch of Tatyana Zaslavskaya's
Center for Public Opinion Studies. The poll, which queried 500
Muscovites of various ages and professions, sought to assess
the credibility of various local newspapers with regard to their
coverage of the Baltic crackdown. Liberal, pro-Baltic newspapers
proved to be most trusted, while none of the three Communist
Party papers were. Pollsters also asked whether respondents agreed
or disagreed with Gorbachev's proposal to suspend the USSR Press
Law and reinstate censorship: only 11% agreed, 79% disagreed,
and 10% were undecided. (Julia Wishnevsky)

(END) [As of 1230 CET]


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

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