|When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain|
No. 61, 27 March 1991
BALTIC STATES MVD TROOPS FROM ESTONIA TO AZERBAIJAN. A battalion of MVD troops stationed in Estonia was sent to Nagorno-Karabakh on March 25, Rahva Haal reported March 26. 11 volunteer conscripts from Estonia assigned to the battalion went along even though Estonia's Minister for the Interior, Olev Laanjarv, had received assurances from Moscow that local men would not be sent (Daily Report March 26). Earlier, ETA had reported that the troops were to be sent to "a crisis area," without specifying their destination. (Riina Kionka) LITHUANIAN-USSR TALKS FAIL TO START. Radio Vilnius and Western agencies reported on March 26 that initial talks between Soviet and Lithuanian representatives which could pave the way for actual negotiations failed to start on Tuesday. Soviet Deputy Prime Minister Vitalii Doguzhiev, head of the USSR delegation, refused to meet with the three-man Lithuanian delegation on the grounds that it did not include its chairman, President Vytautas Landsbergis. TASS said March 26 that the Lithuanians had not replied to a separate Soviet offer on negotiations and had set preconditions on the talks. Although TASS questioned Lithuanian commitment to the talks, there is reason to question Soviet intentions in this matter. (Dzintra Bungs) LANDSBERGIS ON NIXON'S VISIT. President Vytautas Landsbergis told the press on March 25 that he considered the visit of former US President Richard Nixon in Lithuania "a moderate, but fairly clear sign of political support for Lithuania." Landsbergis added that Nixon's statements in Lithuania and Moscow "are indicative of a more active US stand on Baltic independence than that demonstrated last year," Diena reported March 25. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIAN AID FOR STRIKING SOVIET MINERS. According to Radio Riga March 26, four railroad cars filled with food and medical supplies left Riga that day for Novokuznetsk to bring relief to the striking Soviet miners there. Responding to an appeal from the People's Front of Latvia for aid to the miners, people from all over Latvia sent donations of money, food, and medical supplies. Another shipment containing goods for the coalminers' children is being planned for April. (Dzintra Bungs) UPDATE ON NEWSPAPER PUBLICATION IN LATVIA. Newspaper publication is still not back to normal in Latvia, after the Black Berets occupied the Press Building in Riga on January 3. The building, which was the main publishing house of newspapers and journals in Latvia, was then taken over by the Latvian Communist Party. Because of underutilization of its publishing capacities, the Press Building is now losing about 10,000 rubles daily. Aivars Baumanis, chairman of the Journalists' Association, told Radio Riga on March 25 that talks may start in Moscow this week that could lead to a resolution of the problems. He said the printing press, purchased from Sweden by the Latvian government to help alleviate the press shortage, may be operational in mid-April. (Dzintra Bungs) USSR--ALL-UNION TOPICS GORBACHEV RE-ORGANIZES MOSCOW POLICE. In a move that may establish a disturbing precedent for the future, USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev on March 26 decreed the creation of a single Administration of Interior Affairs for Moscow and the Moscow Area, "Vremya" and Radio Moscow reported Tuesday. The new administration, to be based on separate city and area administrations that previously existed, will be headed by the USSR First Deputy Minister of Interior Affairs, Lieutenant General Ivan Shilov. Oversight of the Moscow police has been taken out of the hands of the Moscow authorities: Shilov will report to the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs. Simultaneous with the issuance of the decree, the incumbent Moscow police chief, Petr Bogdanov, was released from duty. Shilov has been frequently assigned to "hot spots": in 1990, he served in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Abkhazia, and Namagan. All-Union and Moscow authorities have been engaged in a lengthy battle over the appointment of a new chief of police for Moscow (Daily Report, March 21); Gorbachev clearly expects his decree to be the last word on the matter. Security Council member Vadim Bakatin, however, said the measure is only temporary, according to TASS March 26. (Victor Yasmann/Dawn Mann) USSR SUPREME SOVIET ORDERS SUSPENSION OF MINERS' STRIKE. Deputies overwhelmingly approved a draft resolution ordering striking miners to suspend their strike for 2 months, TASS reported March 26. TASS did not report on how the Supreme Soviet will enforce this resolution. The deputies rejected USSR Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov's proposal that the miners be held liable for losses incurred during the strike. The draft instructs the USSR Cabinet of Ministers to begin immediate consideration of the miners' economic demands and gives the government one month to do so and then report back to the Supreme Soviet. Gorbachev said on Central Television last night that he will meet with miners' representatives, probably next Tuesday. RSFSR Council of Ministers Chairman Ivan Silaev told a Moscow news conference that he met with miners in the Kuzbass last weekend and told them that economic reform will fail unless they go back to work. Strike leaders say the resolution is illegal but that it is up to individual mines to decide whether to obey it. (Dawn Mann) TSN DISAPPEARS AGAIN... On March 27, the morning edition of the TSN newscast was once again replaced by a short summary of the official "Vremya" newscast, read by the latter's moderator and lasting only 6 minutes instead of 15. The reason for this substitution is unknown. TSN's moderators and editor were replaced on March 16; since then, the program has been rather conformist. (Julia Wishnevsky) "VZGLYAD" TO BE RESTORED. Deputy chairman of the All-Union State Television and Radio Company Valentin Lazutkin told APN March 25 that Central Television is planning to restore the popular TV show "Vzglyad," which has been banned since the end of last year. Lazutkin said that the new "Vzglyad" will differ noticeably in its composition and content. Aleksandr Lyubimov, one of the original moderators, will produce the new "Vzglyad." (Vera Tolz) PAVLOV ON WESTERN AID. In an interview with Yomiuri Shimbun on March 23, Soviet Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov asserted that "international cooperation" envisioned in the USSR's current stabilization package and economic guidelines "exceeds the scope of the Marshall Plan." He again downplayed the scope of the Western emergency food aid supplied in recent months, saying that it added up to less than one week's food requirements for Moscow alone. He appealed for massive and prompt financial assistance from the West, citing a figure of $12 billion for Soviet obligations this year, and suggested that Japan should provide financial aid prior to Gorbachev's scheduled visit next month. (Keith Bush) USSR RATIFIES EBRD. On March 26, the USSR Supreme Soviet ratified the USSR's membership of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, TASS and AP reported March 26. The vote was 380 for and one against, with 11 abstentions. USSR State Bank Chairman Viktor Gerashchenko told the assembly that the move would boost the international community's trust in the Soviet Union and its economic policy and would enhance the country's tarnished reputation for prompt debt repayment. As a co-founder of the EBRD, the Soviet Union would have a 6-percent stake in the bank's aggregate capital, i.e., 600 million ECUs or roughly $730 million. One-third of this sum would be payable within the first five years of the Bank's operation. (Keith Bush) GORBACHEV'S ECONOMIC ADVISOR FOR SLOW REFORM PROCESS. Oleg Ozherel'ev, Gorbachev's new economic advisor, told the Financial Times March 27 that the transition to a market economy must be slowed down. He indicated that the present collapse of the economy is a direct result of trying to move too fast to the market. Ozherel'ev, who was recruited from the central Party apparatus where he had worked under former Party ideologist Vadim Medvedev, said that he favors the reimposement of central control over supply contracts between state enterprises, otherwise, he predicted, production will slump by 40 or 50%. He rejected radical privatization plans and stressed that privatization should be first conducted in the agricultural and retail trade sectors and only later in big capital-intensive companies. (Alexander Rahr) JOURNALISTS' UNION TO EXPELL KRAVCHENKO. The Moscow branch of the USSR Journalists' Union is determined to expell Kravchenko from its ranks, Novosti quoted Nezavisimaya gazeta as reporting March 26. The question of Kravchenko's membership in the Union was first raised at a congress of the Union held earlier this year, at which the crackdown on Central Television initiated by Kravchenko was discussed. The congress instructed the Moscow branch of the Union to take a final decision on the issue. (Vera Tolz) HEAD OF CENTRAL SPECIAL ARCHIVES PROTESTS RESTRICTIONS. Anatolii Prokopenko told Novoe vremya No. 11 that he has resigned as director of the Central State Special Archives because the Main Archival Administration constantly demanded that he limit scholarly access to sensitive NKVD materials. Prokopenko said that, in particular, his supervisors were displeased because he had allowed historians to study materials pointing to the responsibility of the NKVD for the Katyn massacre. Prokopenko also attacked the KGB for not opening up its archives. Prokopenko disclosed that he has recently become deputy chairman of the Committee for Archives at the RSFSR Council of Ministers and expressed the hope that some central archives will be soon transferred to the supervision of the RSFSR government. (Vera Tolz) AID TO AFGHANISTAN TO CONTINUE. Boris Pastukhov, Soviet ambassador to Afghanistan, said on Afghan Radio March 26 that Soviet aid to Afghanistan will continue at 1990 levels, Reuters reported Tuesday. Pastukhov's statement coincides with statements made by Soviet Ambassador at Large Nikolai Kozyrev in late February. Kozyrev said it is the duty of the Soviet Union to continue providing military aid to Kabul because it will speed a political settlement in the country, TASS reported February 25. (Suzanne Crow) HALF MILLION WEAPONS CONFISCATED. A Defense Ministry spokesman told TASS on March 25 that some 513,000 weapons have been handed over to Soviet military units in 1990-91. According to Mikhail Kolesnikov, 73,000 of those weapons came from the Baltics, the Transcaucasus, and Central Asia. He claimed that about 70% of the total had been stolen by "extremists" from arms depots and servicemen. Kolesnikov said that the weapons were confiscated in accordance with the presidential decree of July 25, 1990. (Stephen Foye) WARNING ON DISSOLUTION OF WARSAW PACT. Krasnaya zvezda warned on March 26 that new European security structures are emerging too slowly and voiced concern over the disbandment of the Warsaw Pact's military wing. According to a TASS account, the Defense Ministry newspaper said NATO's role as a guarantor of European stability has been overstated and cautioned against proposals to expand NATO into Eastern Europe. The paper said a new European system must take into account the state interests of the USSR. (NCA/Stephen Foye) USSR--IN THE REPUBLICS DEMOCRATIC RUSSIA TO GO AHEAD WITH MARCH 28 RALLY. After meeting in closed session on Tuesday, the Moscow city council reiterated its willingness to allow the March 28 rally called by Democratic Russia to go ahead, Moskovskaya pravda reported March 26. Leaders of Democratic Russia told a Moscow news conference that they now expect 1 million people to participate in the rally "because so many people are against the ban," according to Igor Kharichev, a member of DR's coordinating council. Both the Moscow city council and Democratic Russia consider Gorbachev's ban on rallies in Moscow unconstitutional: last fall, the USSR Committee for Constitutional Oversight declared that limiting the right of the Moscow city council executive committee to permit demonstrations contradicted the USSR Constitution. (Dawn Mann/Julia Wishnevsky) MOSCOW BRACING FOR DEMONSTRATION. Vadim Bakatin, a member of Gorbachev's Security Council, addressing a Moscow news conference, who said that he himself would not have banned the demonstration, predicted that "decisvie measures" would be taken to prevent the demonstration, but said he was "absolutely confident that there won't be any armed vehicles or arms or anything like that," Reuters reported March 26. Nikolai Travkin, chairman of the Democratic Party of Russia, told AP on march 26 that he had urged the organizers of the rally to back down, arguing that society had reached a critical point, past which "anger will turn to blood." Barriers barring access to Red Square and Manege Square were being put into place yesterday, AP reported. (Dawn Mann) USSR SUPREME SOVIET REFUSES TO UPHOLD BAN ON MOSCOW RALLIES. Vladimir Lysenko, a leader of the Democratic Russia faction in the RSFSR parliament, told Radio Rossiya on March 26 that on Monday a member of the USSR Supreme Soviet asked that body to adopt a resolution upholding the ban on rallies in Moscow. Lysenko said the deputies refused to do so. On March 26, according to "Vremya," the Supreme Soviet rejected calls to issue a statement condemning either the Moscow city council or Democratic Russia--which of the two is not clear--for going ahead with a rally on March 28. (Julia Wishnevsky) NEW RSFSR ECONOMIC REFORM PLAN. RSFSR Council of Ministers Chairman Ivan Silayev partially unveiled his republic's latest economic reform program at a Moscow press conference, TASS reported March 26. Silayev asserted that it represented a realistic program for implementing the basic principles of the "500-Days Program," and that it would run from April 1991 through December 1992. It envisages widescale privatization in industry and agriculture, the retention by the republic of most of the hard-currency earnings derived from its exports, and lower rates of corporate taxation. The program will be submitted to the RSFSR Congress of People's Deputies. (Keith Bush) RSFSR CP LEAKS LIKE A SIEVE. On March 19 and 20, Komsomol'skaya pravda published two secret RSFSR Communist Party instructions. The first, circulated by the Rostov oblast' Party committee, reports on a poll it conducted on Yeltsin's February 19 interview with Central Television. 60% of the respondents agreed with Yeltsin's call for Gorbachev's resignation, while only 21% disagreed. 64% of the non-Party members polled regard themselves as Yeltsin supporters; for Communists in the Rostov region the figure is 46%. The second document, signed by Ivan Antonovich, a member of the RSFSR CP Politburo, suggests that the activities of Democratic Russia should be "neutralized." Antonovich told Komsomol'skaya pravda that he never issued this instruction. An official attached to the Penza oblast' Party committee, which circulated the document, had no comment. (Julia Wishnevsky) MOSCOW MAYOR CALLS FOR CREATION OF ANTI-COMMUNIST PARTY. The chairman of the Moscow city soviet, Gavriil Popov, reiterated the call for the creation of a new party, that would constitute a real opposition to the CPSU. Writing in Komsomol'skaya pravda on March 26, Popov also rejected the possibility that a nationwide civil war would break out in the USSR. (Vera Tolz) FUTURE OF RSFSR TELEVISION STILL UNCERTAIN. Deputy chairman of the All-Union State Television and Radio Company Valentin Lazutkin told APN March 25 that several (unidentified) Union republics were highly dissatisfied with plans to transfer Central Television's second channel to the newly-created RSFSR television company. Lazutkin said that non-Russian republics, including Ukraine, had threatened to stop broadcasting the second channel on their territory if it is given to the Russian Federation. (The RSFSR is the only Union republic that does not produce its own programs.) After a lengthy battle, agreement has been reportedly reached between the RSFSR authorities and the leaders of Central Television, and the RSFSR government is planning to start broadcasting regularly as of March 31. (Vera Tolz) BELORUSSIAN YOUTH TV PROGRAMS UNDER THREAT. Journalists at Belorussian State Television and Radio last week told RFE/RL that two glasnost'-minded television programs for youth, "Five Plus" and "Krok," may be pulled from the air. They attributed this to pressure from the Central Committee of the Belorussian CP and to the general crackdown on the media instituted by Kravchenko, head of the All-Union Television and Radio Company. (Belorussian BD/Kathy Mihalisko) GEORGIAN GREEKS EXPRESS SUPPORT FOR INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM. On March 13 the Russian-language paper of the Georgian Supreme Soviet, Vestnik Gruzii, printed an appeal signed by 22 prominent Georgian Greeks calling on the republic's Greek community (which numbered just over 100,000 at the time of the 1989 Soviet census) to vote "Yes" in the referendum of March 31 on the restoration of Georgian independence. The appeal further urged the Greek community in Abkhazia to boycott the All-Union referendum of March 17, arguing that it "contradicts the interests of Georgia." The referendum results, however, suggest that virtually the entire non-Georgian population of Abkhazia voted on March 17. (Liz Fuller) ISLAMIC CENTER FOUNDED IN KYRGYZSTAN. RFE/RL has been learned that the founding congress of a Kirgiz Muslim Center was held in Bishkek on March 26. Sadikjan Kamalov, formerly the highest-ranking religious official in the republic, was elected president of the center. Kamalov was removed from his post as kazi of Kyrgyzstan last year after he made critical remarks at a meeting of the Muslim Religious Board for Central Asia, but he has remained a prominent public figure in the republic. He is a deputy in the republican Supreme Soviet and recently accompanied Kirgiz president Askar Akaev on a visit to Osh oblast. (Uzbek BD/Bess Brown) MOLDAVIAN PRESIDENT ON RELATIONS WITH MOSCOW AND ROMANIA. Interviewed by the Madrid daily El Mundo March 25, as reported by Reuters March 26, Moldavian President Mircea Snegur said that "the pro-Moscow minority" in Moldavia had asked Moscow to crack down militarily on the republic but that he "did not think that Gorbachev would dare to take that step." Snegur added "the Russians in the Baltic countries are better than ours. The majority there are pro-independence, while here they just make life impossible." Refuting the charge that Moldavia wants to reunify with Romania, Snegur said that Moldavia would retain economic links with the USSR and the republics but would do so as "an independent Moldavia which will have privileged links with Romania. In future there will be practically no borders between the two states." (Vladimir Socor) MOLDAVIAN FOREIGN MINISTER DEFINES GOALS. Interviewed by Rompres March 26, Moldavian Minister of External Relations Nicolae Tiu said the republic's "main goal is freedom and independence." Commenting that Moldavia's efforts "do not enjoy due recognition in other countries" except for Romania, Tiu said that the lack of international recognition constituted a serious handicap that Moldavia needed to overcome by initiating its own foreign policy. (Vladimir Socor) DONETSK MINE STRIKES WINDING DOWN. As of late yesterday, according to Radio Kiev-2 and Radio Moscow, only 16 of 122 mines in Donetsk oblast' were partially or fully disabled by strikes, a sharp reduction from the previous day. A special working group is being formed by the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet to deal directly with miners' collectives and strike committees. Chairman Leonid Kravchuk yesterday released an appeal to the strikers in which he described their action as a real threat to the republic's energy, metallurgical and agricultural industries. The Lvov oblast' soviet also yesterday urged striking miners in the Lvov-Volyn basin to return to work, according to Radio Kiev-3. (Kathy Mihalisko) UKRAINIAN AUTOCEPHALOUS CHURCH OPENS SEMINARY. As announced March 26 on Radio Kiev-3, a seminary for priests of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church has opened in the West Ukrainian city of Ternopol. It will accommodate 40 seminarians. The UAOC, which is independent of and staunchly opposed to the Russian Orthodox and Ukrainian Orthodox Churches, is a growing force in religious life in the republic. (Kathy Mihalisko) (END)
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