|Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov|
No. 62, 28 March 1991
IN THE BALTIC STATES ESTONIAN, SOVIET TEAMS TO MEET. The Estonian and USSR negotiating delegations will meet today (March 28) for the first time, ETA reported March 26. Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev named the Soviet team, led by USSR Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Laverov, after Moscow's crackdown on the Baltic states in January. Estonian chief negotiator and Supreme Council Speaker Ulo Nugis, who has already met twice with Laverov in preparation for today's meeting, told ETA he hoped the talks would develop into full negotiations. (Riina Kionka) LATVIANS SUPPORT SOVIET MINERS. Over a thousand demonstrators gathered in downtown Riga March 27 to show solidarity with the striking Soviet miners and support for the democratic forces in the RSFSR. The demonstration was organized jointly by the Latvian Social Democratic Workers' Party and the Workers' Society. The participants adopted two resolutions (one addressed to the RSFSR Supreme Soviet and the other to Boris Yeltsin) stating their support for the miners' demands, according to Radio Riga on March 27 and a report received by RFE/RL's Latvian Service on March 28. (Dzintra Bungs) ESCAPED SOLDIER SEIZED IN VILNIUS. A group of armed men seized Edgaras Zinklys on March 27 just outside the Lithuanian parliament building in Vilnius. Zinklys had been part of the force guarding the building against possible attack by Soviet troops. Some time ago, he had escaped from the Soviet military; subsequently he joined the guards under the auspices Lithuania's National Security Department, according to information received by RFE/RL's Lithuanian Service on March 27. (Dzintra Bungs) NEW CONSTITUTION FOR LATVIA? Deputy Eduards Berklavs told RFE/RL's Latvian Service on March 28 that a new Constitution has been drafted under the guidance of Deputy Aivars Endzins. The draft document, Berklavs said, greatly increases the powers of the executive branch of the government and of the chairman of the Supreme Council. Work on the new Constitution was done with the knowledge and participation of only a handful of deputies, most of whom could be described as former liberal Communists, now affiliated with the Democratic Labor Party of Latvia. (Dzintra Bungs) ALL-UNION TOPICS BAKATIN DISAGREES WITH PAVLOV. Vadim Bakatin, newly appointed member of the USSR Security Council with special assignment to deal with domestic issues, has openly disagreed with the decree signed by Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov which bans demonstrations in Moscow. In a special press conference broadcast by Radio Moscow March 26, Bakatin said the ban was "unnecessary" because Moscow City authorities had the situation under control. Bakatin's statement suggested that the former interior minister is distancing himself from the hardliners in Gorbachev's top leadership and may assume the role formerly played in Gorbachev's entourage by reformers Aleksandr Yakovlev and Eduard Shevardnadze. Bakatin also maintained that Gorbachev was not fully in control over the situation in the Baltic last January. (Alexander Rahr) PRIVATIZATION OF RETAIL TRADE. Pavel Bunich, president of the Soviet Leaseholders' and Entrepreneurs' Union, has claimed that 20 percent of stores, cafeterias, and restaurants are already in the hands of private citizens and labor staffs, Radio Moscow World Service reported March 26. Bunich anticipated that a further 20 percent would soon be under private or workers' control. (Keith Bush) NO "MARSHALL PLAN" FOR THE USSR. After meeting with US Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady in Washington on March 26, German Finance Minister Theo Waigel ruled out the adoption of a "Marshall Plan" for the USSR at the present time, The Financial Times reported March 27. The Germans and the Americans questioned the usefulness of "sowing seed on frozen ground." The Soviet Union had first to undertake a thaw to make the ground more fertile. If Soviet premier Pavlov is really counting on "international cooperation...exceeding the scope of the Marshall Plan" (see yesterday's report), he will presumably have to extract it from the Japanese. (Keith Bush) HOW TO RUN A REFERENDUM. Argumenty i fakty (No. 10) publishes excerpts from instructions issued by the Moscow City Party Committee to lower Party organizations on the eve of the March 17 all-Union referendum. Activists are warned that everything depends on achieving "a positive result." They are advised not to try to appeal to the voters' reason--that approach is described as good only for dealing with the intelligentsia--but to aim for "direct stimulation of the desired behavior" by means of high-pressure propaganda that "stresses one option to the exclusion of all others." Propaganda, the instructions say, must be "as massive as possible," filling every available channel of the mass media. Recommended slogans include a baby crying, "Mummy! Safeguard my future! Vote 'Yes'!" (Julia Wishnevsky) POLLUTION PLAN SCALED DOWN. A Scandinavian plan to modernize the Soviet nickel industry and cut its substantial pollution has had to be scaled down, The Financial Times reported March 27. The two smelters of the Norilsk Nikel group on the Kola peninsula belch out half a million tons of sulphur dioxide a year. More than half of this drifts into Scandinavia. The renovation would have reduced these emissions by 75 percent at a cost of $900 million. A contributing factor to the scaling down of the project was the insufficient capacity of the local rail network. The new proposals would cut the cost to $600 million but eliminate only half the pollution. Even this reduced plan is thought to be at risk because of the general disintegration of the Soviet economy. (Keith Bush) "WE LOST EASTERN EUROPE BECAUSE WE LOST OURSELVES." Izvestia commentator Aleksandr Bovin on "The World This Week" program of March 24 (All-Union Radio) attacked those who blame the loss of Eastern Europe on diplomatic bungling. "The issue," Bovin said, "is not that we signed a certain wrong agreement. The fact that we were unable to create a truly developed civilized society that would be on the same level as today's world in terms of economy and democracy--this is the reason for everything that has taken place in Europe... The moment a chance came [East European countries] immediately left. Of course they would, because they were dead sick after 40 years of all this." (Suzanne Crow) PATRIARCH ALEKSII IN ISRAEL. TASS reported March 27 on the visit to Israel which began the same day of the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, Aleksii II. Representatives of the Israeli government stressed the significance of this visit in view of the important role now played by the Church in the USSR. The head of the Russian Orthodox Church is a guest of the Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem, Diodoros I. He will meet the president and prime minister of Israel and the mayor of Jerusalem. (Oxana Antic) "GENUINELY RICH RELATIONS" WITH ISRAEL. All-Union Radio's program "The World This Week" broadcast on March 24 the comments of Moscow Radio's political observer Nikolai Shishlin regarding Soviet interests in the Middle East. According to Shishlin the USSR's traditional interests need "reinterpretation." He called for "genuinely rich relations" with Israel, based on the emigration of so many Soviet citizens to Israel and Israel's expressed desire to aid in the development of the Soviet economy. (Suzanne Crow) MOSCOW SHIFTS ON IRAQ RESOLUTION. Soviet ambassador to the United Nations Yulii Vorontsov said on March 28 the changes in the Soviet position on the Iraqi settlement are merely "technical." But unnamed diplomats quoted by Reuter on March 28 said the Soviet proposal for Iraq to keep short-range missiles (under 200 miles) took permanent members of the UN Security Council by surprise. Moscow apparently argued that such short-range missiles would not pose a threat to Israel. In the past, Moscow has sold such missiles to Iraq on the condition that Iraq not modify the missiles to increase their range, but Iraq has not complied with this condition. (Suzanne Crow) TRADE SHIFT WITH EAST EUROPE SHOULD BE CAUTIOUS. Referring to revised terms of trade between the USSR and its former East European allies, Soviet Foreign Ministry Spokesman Vitalii Churkin spoke at his March 27 briefing of the need to find "smooth transitional measures." Churkin stressed that the path to a reformed system of economic cooperation should be "cautious," TASS reported. In January trade between the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe was shifted to hard currency; such currency is, however, in short supply on virtually all sides. (Suzanne Crow) SOVIET-CUBAN TRADE PROBLEMS. The USSR and Cuba are having difficulties working out details of a 1991 trade accord, Reuters reported March 27. As a result, Soviet oil and Cuban nickel exchanges have been affected. Soviet ambassador to Cuba Yurii Petrov said on March 27 at a news conference in Havana: "the Soviet Union's position is one of a firm intention to comply with its obligations towards Cuba." Petrov also noted that Cuba stands by its commitment to shift trade to hard currency at world market prices. Petrov, like Churkin above, stressed the transitional nature of the process of shifting trade relations. (Suzanne Crow) SOVIET HOSTAGES RELEASED. Three Soviet military advisers captured by Eritrean rebels in 1988 have been released, Soviet Foreign Ministry Spokesman Vitalii Churkin said on March 27. Churkin offered few details of the release, but noted the important roles played by the United States, Italy, Canada, Sweden, and "many Arab governments and international organizations," TASS reported. (Suzanne Crow) IN THE REPUBLICS RSFSR CONGRESS OF PEOPLE'S DEPUTIES OPENS. The extraordinary Congress of People's Deputies of the RSFSR opened this morning (March 28) in Moscow. The first few hours were televised live. The Congress was originally called at the request of hardline Communists eager to replace Yeltsin, but their threatened vote of no confidence seem an unlikely development at present. Even before it adopted its agenda, the Congress adopted a resolution calling for the suspension of prime minister Valentin Pavlov's ban on demonstrations in Moscow and of Mikhail Gorbachev's presidential decree removing the Moscow militia from the control of the RSFSR ministry of internal affairs and placing them under that of the USSR ministry of internal affairs. The vote was 532 "for" and 286 "against" and is being seen as a major show of support for Yeltsin, who chaired this morning's session. According to the latest available news (1200 CET) the Congress proceded to debate whether or not it should suspend its own session. Further details are not available. (Julia Wishnevsky) LATEST NEWS FROM CONGRESS. The Congress has now gone into recess and will reconvene tomorrow morning (March 29) at 10 A.M. Moscow time. Radio Rossiya reports that six people were arrested this morning outside the Rossiya Hotel (where deputies are staying). (Julia Wishnevsky) RALLY PLANNED TODAY IN MOSCOW. Security forces have blocked off Red Square in anticipation of this afternoon's planned rally in support of Boris Yeltsin. The demonstration is being organized by the "Democratic Russia" movement. Radio Rossiya reported today that the demonstration will begin at 17:15 Moscow time; demonstrators are being told to gather at the Arbat and Mayakovsky metro stops. Reports say thousands of police and interior ministry troops are on duty and the authorities have warned that they will block the marchers. Military trucks are parked near the Kremlin and two adjoining squares--Red Square and Manezh Square--have been blocked off with steel barricades. The AP reports that a small demonstration in support of Yeltsin was dispersed by police early this morning (March 28). (NCA) KHASBULATOV DISPATCHED TO MEDIATE. Following this morning's vote, the RSFSR Congress sent Yeltsin's deputy, Ruslan Khasbulatov, to try to persuade USSR vice-president Gennadii Yanaev to remove troops and armored vehicles from the streets of the RSFSR capital (Moscow). (Julia Wishnevsky) YANAEV WARNS LEADERS OF "DEMOCRATIC RUSSIA." Vice-president Yanaev met March 27 with the chairman of the Moscow City Executive Committee, Yurii Luzhkov, and the two co-chairmen of "Democratic Russia," Arkadii Murashov and Yurii Afanas'ev. The meeting was also attended by USSR Minister of Internal Affairs Boris Pugo and KGB chairman Vladimir Kryuchkov (TASS, March 27). Pugo and Kryuchkov informed the leaders of Democratic Russia that prime minister Valentin Pavlov has banned the holding of all rallies in Moscow until April 15 (this period also encompasses the planned April 2 food price rises). Afanas'ev and Murashov replied that Pavlov does not have the right to ban demonstrations in Moscow; they also pointed out that Article 50 of the USSR Constitution guarantees citizens the right to take part in demonstrations. (Julia Wishnevsky) LEADERS OF "DEMOCRATIC RUSSIA" ON SOVIET TV. Since the end of last year, the leaders of "Democratic Russia" have been virtually banned from the airwaves. On March 27, however, Arkadii Murashov appeared on Soviet television's main newscast, "Vremya." He reaffirmed DR's intention to go ahead with the rally on March 28, and called on participants to avoid violence even if confronted by the police. "Vremya" was followed by a one-hour round-table discussion between two leaders of the RSFSR Communist Party, Ivan Antonovich and Aleksandr Mal'tsev, and two leaders of Democratic Russia, Yurii Afanas'ev and Stepan Sulakshin. Later that night, the "TSN" newscast interviewed several RSFSR deputies, among them chairman of the Democratic Party of Russia, Nikolai Travkin. (Julia Wishnevsky) RSFSR SUPSOV PRESIDIUM: RALLY BAN "UNCONSTITUTIONAL." "Vremya" March 27 reported a statement in which the presidium of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet presidium asserted that prime minister Pavlov's ban on demonstrations in Moscow contradicts Articles 48 and 72 of the USSR Constitution, the RSFSR Constitution, and the RSFSR's declaration of sovereignty. The presidium requested their all-Union counterparts to refer the action of the executive to the USSR Supreme Soviet. (Julia Wishnevsky) OIL, GAS WORKERS, METALLURGISTS THREATEN ACTION. As the month-long strike of Soviet miners continues, new demands have been issued for higher wages by oil and gas and metallurgical workers. Leaders of the RSFSR's old and gas workers' trade union were quoted by Izvestia and Trud March 28 as saying they are prepared to strike unless their demands for higher wages are met. They also expressed support for the striking coalminers. (NCA) RSFSR UNIONS THREATEN GENERAL STRIKE. Meanwhile, an activist of the RSFSR trade union federation, Vasilii Romanov, told Radio Rossiya March 27 that his organization is ready to call a strike of its members in the next two to three days unless Soviet president Gorbachev agrees to meet with the striking miners. (NCA) STRIKE AT "URALMASH." Workers in several sections of the giant "Uralmash" machine-building plant in Sverdlovsk struck for two hours on March 27, TASS reported that day. TASS said the strike was sparked by the failed of the Soviet leadership to reply to economic demands put forward by the workers three months ago, and by food supply problems in Sverdlovsk. (NCA) RSFSR "DEFENSE MINISTER" INTERVIEWED. Radio Mayak reported March 26 on an interview published in that day's Komsomol'skaya pravda with the chairman of the State Committee for Defense and Security of the Russian Federation, Colonel General Konstantin Kobets. Describing Kobets as "the new Russian defense minister," the newspaper said he was born in 1939 in Kiev and served at one point in his military career under USSR defense minister Dmitrii Yazov. Kobets has occupied the post of deputy chief of the General Staff of the USSR Armed Forces in charge of communications since 1988. (Alexander Rahr) INTELLIGENTSIA RELUCTANT TO BELIEVE IN YELTSIN. Soviet intellectuals are not pinning their hopes on Boris Yeltsin. The chief editor of Moscow News, Yegor Yakovlev, told The Washington Post March 28 that Yeltsin is less skilled than the historical moment requires. The philosopher Aleksandr Tsipko stressed that, had Yeltsin been elected in Gorbachev's position, "he would have broken his neck somewhere along the line." The leader of the Republican Party, Vyacheslav Shostakovsky, charged that all the present leaders of the USSR are "tied to the old system." He recalled having worked with reformists Yurii Afanas'ev and Igor Klyamkin, as well as with the hardliners Gennadii Yanaev and Aleksandr Dzasokhov, in the same Komsomol Central Committee in the 1960s. (Alexander Rahr) ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER'S MOLDAVIAN VISIT AN EYE OPENER. Returning from his first visit to Kishinev, Romanian Foreign Minister Adrian Nastase told journalists in Bucharest that Romanian policy toward Moldavia "must proceed from Moldavia's will to be sovereign and independent". Urging Romanians to "respect that will," Nastase cautioned against "viewing Bessarabia as a Romanian province that must be retaken." Without ruling out reunification at some point in the future, Nastase urged acceptance of the concept--until now advocated only by Kishinev--of "two Romanian states" linked by cooperation and "permeable" borders. (Vladimir Socor) MOLDAVIAN POPULAR FRONT LEADER COMPLAINS OF ROMANIAN NEGLECT. Interviewed by the Bucharest daily Tineretul Liber March 18/19, Moldavian Popular Front Executive Committee Chairman Iurie Rosca expressed his dissatisfaction with the "lack of information" in Romania about events in Soviet Moldavia and the lack of official initiatives from the Romanian side toward developing ties with Moldavia. He mentioned as an illustration that no Romanian media correspondents came to Moldavia to cover the events connected with Moldavia's refusal to conduct the March 17 all-Union referendum. (Vladimir Socor) KGB TRIES TO INFILTRATE FREE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH. Quoting the religious information agency "Raduga," Moskovskie novosti (No. 11) reports that the KGB in Omsk tried to recruit a priest of the Russian Orthodox Free Church (this describes the Orthodox parishes in the RSFSR which recognize the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church abroad) to inform on foreign tourists and pilgrims. The KGB offered to help the priest, Father Vasilii Savel'ev, to publicize derogatory information about Archbishop Feodosii of Omsk and Tyumen' (to whom Father Vasilii was subordinated until last year). The priest refused to cooperate. (Oxana Antic) [As of 1300 CET]
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.