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No. 64, 03 April 1991
IN THE BALTIC STATES CANADA PUZZLED OVER TASS REPORT ON RECOGNITION OF LATVIA. Guy Archambault, speaking for Canada's External Affairs Department, told an RFE/RL correspondent in Ottawa on April 2 that his country's position on the Baltic States remains unchanged: Canada "has always recognized de jure the independence of the Baltic States but acknowledges the Soviets are in control de facto." The clarification was necessitated by a TASS dispatch of April 1, referring to a LETA report, claiming that recently Canadian External Affairs Minister Joe Clark had told a Latvian government official that Canada had granted de jure recognition to Latvia. Clark's chief of staff, David Daubney, said that he was puzzled about the TASS report, since there's been no change in Canada's position. (Dzintra Bungs) US SENATORS IN RIGA. Radio Riga reported April 2 that a US Senate delegation, led by Senator David Boren (D-Oklahoma), Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, had arrived in Riga. Other members of the group are Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Howell Heflin (D-Alabama), James Exon (D- Nebraska), and John Chaffee (R-Rhode Island). After meetings with Latvian Supreme Council Chairman Anatolijs Gorbunovs, Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis, and other Latvian leaders, the senators are expected to hold a press conference. Their visit to Latvia is part of a fact-finding trip to the USSR. (Dzintra Bungs) NORDIC COUNCIL GRANT TO BALTICS. According to Diena of April 2, the Nordic Council has given 2 million Danish crowns to Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania to finance their participation in international conferences and other meetings this year. The grant will facilitate, inter alia, their participation in a Nordic-Baltic human rights conference later this year. (Dzintra Bungs) DENMARK MAINTAINS ECONOMIC LINKS WITH BALTICS. Eric Ovesen, Danish Commercial Counselor in Moscow, told the Journal of Commerce of April 2 that his country is maintaining economic relations with Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania despite "some opposition from Moscow." In Latvia there are already joint ventures with Danish fishing, food processing, and shipping companies. Ovesen said Danish exports are strong in sectors greatly needed in the Soviet Union such as the fisheries industry and "food processing factories for not only fish, but dairy and agricultural products, too." (Dzintra Bungs) ALL-UNION AFFAIRS FIRST DAY OF HIGHER RETAIL PRICES. Western media reported March 3 on the first day of raised retail prices in Moscow and other cities. Contrary to some expectations, few of the stores surveyed were well-stocked, and there were several reported instances of confusion over which prices would be charged. The general mood among shoppers was variously described as shock, despair, anger, and resignation, but no unrest was reported. The New York Times of April 3 summed up the reaction: "There was communal commiseration over how these price increases were yet another indignity imposed on them by a government unwilling to commit to full market reforms and unable to perform under the centralized controls it refuses to announce." (Keith Bush) MINERS SAY NO PROGRESS IN TALKS WITH PRIME MINISTER. Soviet miners who opened talks in Moscow April 2 with Valentin Pavlov said the Soviet prime minister refused to give any ground on the miners' economic or political demands. The miners are demanding a pay increase and improved working conditions; they are also calling for the resignation of President Gorbachev. According to AP and Reuters, Pavlov told the miners that their demand for higher pay will be considered only if they first increase productivity, and that their political demands are outside the sphere of responsibility of the government negotiators. The talks are expected to last two to three days. (NCA) BUDGET DEFICIT WARNING. USSR Minister of Finance Vladimir Orlov, USSR Gosbank Chairman Viktor Gerashchenko, and Chairman of the USSR Supreme Soviet's Budget and Planning Committee Viktor Kucherenko have written a letter to President Gorbachev, with copies to USSR Supreme Soviet deputies, about the budget deficit, Reuter reported April 3. The union budget deficit for the first quarter has reached 31.1 billion rubles, whereas the deficit planned for the entire year was 26.7 billion rubles. The letter warns that the economy will be on "the brink of catastrophe" and that it could become impossible to finance investment and the military in the second quarter of the year; its authors propose tightening central control over union-republic legislation and banks. (Keith Bush) GERASHCHENKO ON MONEY EMISSION POLICY. USSR Gosbank Chairman Viktor Gerashchenko told Izvestia March 27 that 200-ruble bills will probably enter circulation in 1991 and "it is not ruled out that in the future we may have to produce even higher denominations--500 and 1000 rubles." In connection with the rises in retail prices and the concomitant supplements to wages and transfer payments, the amount of money in cash circulation will rise from 139 billion rubles at the end of 1990 to about 180 billion by the end of 1991. Gerashchenko suggested that a little inflation is good for you, and he implied that the ruble will be further devalued against foreign currencies but only after the USSR has tried to recover some ruble debts. (Keith Bush) POLL: MAJORITY PREFER YELTSIN. An opinion poll in this week's US News and World Report says 70 percent of Soviet citizens who responded to a recent survey would like RSFSR Supreme Soviet Chairman Boris Yeltsin to become Soviet President. Summarizing the report, AFP says only 14 percent of those polled said they would prefer Mikhail Gorbachev to remain in the post. The survey of 3,000 residents from all 15 Soviet republics was taken between March 1 and 25 by the Center of Sociological and Marketing Research, described as a private Moscow-based group. 73 percent of those polled said they do not support the present (Pavlov) government, while 81 percent said they are dissatisfied with their living standards. [Yeltsin has consistently denied he wants Gorbachev's job. "Russia is enough," he told a recent issue of Literaturnaya gazeta.] (NCA/Elizabeth Teague) GORBACHEV WARNS OF DICTATORSHIP. Gorbachev told former US President Richard Nixon that, unless Soviet democrats consolidate around his (Gorbachev's) centrist policy, civil war will break out and the country will be plunged into dictatorship. TASS on April 2 quoted Gorbachev as assuring Nixon that his policy of perestroika has not changed. Nixon's meeting with Gorbachev came at the end of a two-week visit to Lithuania, Georgia and Ukraine; earlier, he met with Boris Yeltsin. Nixon was quoted by AP and AFP as telling reporters the RSFSR Supreme Soviet chairman is a responsible political leader who has been underestimated by some people. (Alexander Rahr) MOST ABUSES IN ARMY GO UNREPORTED. A Soviet military judge told Krasnaya zvezda on March 27 that soldiers rarely report abuses that they have suffered while performing military service. The report was summarized by TASS. Lieutenant General Nikolai Petukhov, Chairman of the USSR Supreme Court's military collegium, said that only 8% of all cases of abuses are reported to superior officers, and that legal action is taken in only 2% of cases. Petukhov added that officers are guilty of violating regulations, of indifference toward servicemen, and of weakly enforcing discipline. (NCA/Stephen Foye) YAZOV ON PROFESSIONAL ARMY. USSR Minister of Defense Dmitrii Yazov says the Soviet Army should recruit servicemen on a mixed "voluntary-obligatory" basis. Yazov's remarks were made during a phone-in program on Soviet TV March 30. Asked if the Soviet Army should turn professional, Yazov said he thought the Army should include both volunteers and draftees; he added that the hiring of professional servicemen in the Navy will start very soon. (CMD/NCA) MINISTER OF LABOR APPOINTED. Valerii Paulman has been appointed by presidential decree to the post of USSR Minister of Labor and Social Questions, Central Television reported March 26. The new ministry has been created on the basis of the former State Committee for Labor, following the appointment of the chairman of that committee, Valerii Shcherbakov, as first deputy prime minister. Paulman, an Estonian, was born in 1937 and trained as an economist at Leningrad State University. Most of his career has been spent in the Estonian Gosplan and the apparatus of the Estonian Communist Party. (Elizabeth Teague) SHENIN CHAIRS PARTY CADRE SESSION. The CPSU is worried about the health of its primary Party organizations. Rabochaya tribuna reported on March 28 that a meeting of the Central Committee's permanent commission on primary Party organizations, chaired by Politburo member Oleg Shenin, has issued "detailed recommendations" on how to consolidate the Party grassroots. (Elizabeth Teague) MINERS HOSTILE TO CPSU. The Party has cause to worry. Izvestia (March 4) reported from Western Siberia's Kuzbass, where the miners' strikes of 1989 began and where striking miners last month issued a more comprehensive list of political demands than any other region. Kuzbass workers, Izvestia said, are "not so much anticommunist as anti-CPSU." When one local Party organization, which formerly numbered 300 members, recently conducted a reregistration, only 15 Communists reenlisted. In 1989, rank-and-file Communists played an active role in the Kuzbass strike movement. Now, Izvestia reports, there are no Communists in the Kuzbass workers' movement: all the activists have left the Party. Instead, Izvestia said, the miners have come under the influence of "intellectuals"--engineers and technicians. (Elizabeth Teague) LAST TWO GERMAN TREATIES RATIFIED. TASS reported April 2 the USSR Supreme Soviet's ratification of two treaties with Germany dealing with Soviet troops and German financial assistance. The ratification follows the conditional recommendation of the Supreme Soviet Committees on Defense and Security and on International Affairs on March 22. These committees called for "specific conditions" to be placed on the treaties' ratification. (Suzanne Crow) SINO-SOVIET RELATIONS HAVE "RICH HISTORY." Foreign Minister Aleksandr Bessmertnykh said in an April 2 interview with Izvestia that his recent talks in China were "valuable" and took place in a "an open and trusting atmosphere." Bessmertnykh stressed that all manner of issues came under discussion--from security in the Asia-Pacific region to the conflict in the Near East. Work was also done on agreements to be signed during Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Jiang Zemin's visit next month, TASS reported April 2. (Suzanne Crow) CASTRO: SOVIET CHAOS DISRUPTS SUPPLIES. In a speech on April 1 at the opening of a factory outside Havana, Cuban President Fidel Castro said that Cuba could not rely on Soviet raw material supplies because of "the chaos which has been created in the Soviet Union." Castro specifically referred to wood and steel supplies. Last week Soviet ambassador Yurii Petrov said Soviet oil and Cuban nickel trade had been disrupted by the shift in trade relations, (see Daily Report, March 28). GORBACHEV URGED TO CONSULT YELTSIN ON KURILE ISSUE. Georgii Shakhnazarov, Mikhail Gorbachev's principal aide on foreign policy, told the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri April 2 that Gorbachev should consult with Boris Yeltsin before deciding of whether or not to return Kurile Islands to Japan. Shakhnazarov stressed that the islands are under the jurisdiction of the RSFSR and that Gorbachev must first gain the consent of the leader of the Russian Republic. According to AFP of April 2, Japanese officials see Yeltsin as opposed to the islands' return, even though it was Yeltsin who first raised the possibility of negotiating the issue--long before Gorbachev planned his visit to Japan. (Alexander Rahr) US CHRISTIAN RADIO FOR SOVIET BELIEVERS. Reuter reported on March 28 that the Illinois-based Christian Liberty Broadcasting network is sponsoring a Russian-language radio station which will start its broadcasts next week. The Protestant religious programs will be broadcast from Moscow. (Oxana Antic) EMIGRATION UP IN MARCH. The US National Conference on Soviet Jewry says 13,336 Soviet Jews arrived in Israel in March, almost twice the number that arrived in February. The Conference says nearly 34,000 Soviet Jews emigrated to the Israel during the first three months of this year, compared with 17,700 for the same period during last year. (NCA) IN THE REPUBLICS YELTSIN SURVIVES POLITICAL CHALLENGE. RSFSR Supreme Soviet chairman Boris Yeltsin survived a political challenge April 2 with the unexpected help of his former rival Ivan Polozkov, first secretary of the Russian Communist Party. Polozkov told an extraordinary Congress of People's Deputies of the RSFSR--originally called by conservatives in an attempt to oust Yeltsin from his post--that this was not the time to change the leadership of the Russian Federation. Polozkov's address was shown that day on Soviet Television. TASS noted that, after Polozkov spoke, only 121 of the 800 or so deputies present voted to include a no-confidence vote on Yeltsin on the Congress agenda; the motion was therefore defeated. (NCA) RSFSR CONGRESS SUPPORTS MINERS. The "Democratic Russia" faction won another major victory April 2 when the RSFSR Congress of People's Deputies passed a resolution supporting the "just nature" of the demands of the striking coalminers. The report was carried by TASS. Last month, the USSR Supreme Soviet, in contrast, overwhelmingly denounced the miners' action. (Elizabeth Teague) YELTSIN'S COMMUNIST OPPONENTS SPLIT OVER HIS POLICIES. One reason why Polozkov came to Yeltsin's defense seems to be the fact that Polozkov faces the possibility of a split in his own RSFSR Communist Party. The split burst into the open on April 2 when RSFSR people's deputy Colonel Aleksandr Rutskoi (an Afgan war hero who was once extremely popular among Russian conservatives) announced the establishment of a new faction in the RSFSR parliament. Called "Communists for Democracy," Rutskoi's group numbers 179 members of the CPSU. Unlike the "Communists of Russia" (the Polozkovite faction in the RSFSR parliament), the "Communists for Democracy" support Yeltsin. It seems it was Rutskoi's announcement that prompted Polozkov's statement of support for Yeltsin. (In the past many members of the CPSU, including Yeltsin's first deputy Ruslan Khasbulatov, have suggested setting up a parallel RSFSR CP.) (Julia Wishnevsky) RSFSR CONGRESS PUTS OFF DEBATE ON PRESIDENTIAL SYSTEM. However, Yeltsin's supporters failed again on April 2 to get persuade the RSFSR Congress of People's Deputies to approve the introduction of a presidential system in the RSFSR. Members of the "Democratic Russia" faction berated their conservative colleagues for ignoring the will of the RSFSR population. (A majority of the electorate of the Republic voted in last month's referendum to introduce a presidential system in the RSFSR.) The Congress continues today but, if the matter is still not decided at this session, it is likely to come up for debate at the next ordinary session of the Congress, which is expected to convene in May or June. (Elizabeth Teague) DEMOCRATS REFRAIN FROM VOTING. Leaders of the "Democratic Russia" faction in the RSFSR parliament told a press conference in Moscow on April 1 that members of the faction will not participate in any voting at the present extraordinary session of the RSFSR Congress of People's Deputies other than on the issue of the introduction of a Russian presidency. The democrats are taking this step as a protest against the opposition mounted by conservative deputies to the creation of such a post. Infonovosti on April 2 quoted Lev Shimaev as saying the democrats would now concentrate their attacks on Svetlana Goryacheva--a conservative member of the Presidium of the RSFSR parliament whom Shimaev described as a "puppet in someone's hands." (Alexander Rahr) ANOTHER RUBLE SCAM REPORTED. The Journal of Commerce of April 3 cites Sovetskaya Rossiya on what is alleged to be a second "ruble scam" involving, inter alia, Boris Yeltsin and RSFSR Prime Minister Ivan Silaev. The purported letter from Silaev to Yeltsin urged a 300-billion-ruble credit line for a shadowy Western group that would provide $50 billion in hard currency for imports of consumer goods, food, medicine, industrial equipment, and technology (though Silaev is said subsequently to have dropped the proposal). This allegation follows the notorious Dove Trading International affair of early 1991 that led to the resignation of RSFSR Deputy Premier Gennadii Filshin. (Keith Bush) POLOZKOV LEADERSHIP CRITICIZED. One of the few moderate members of the Central Committee of the RSFSR Communist Party, Vasilii Lipitsky, has accused the leadership of the RSFSR CP of diverging from the Party line as laid down at the 28th Party Congress. Writing in Rabochaya tribuna on March 19, Lipitsky accused the leaders of the Russian CP of believing they have a "messianic" mission to save Russia--in alliance with extremist nationalistic forces. He complained that Party leader Ivan Polozkov and his colleagues are trying to reintroduce the principle of "democratic centralism" whereby decisions are made within a narrow circle of Politburo members. Lipitsky maintained the Russian CP was created to oppose perestroika. (Alexander Rahr) TURKMEN-UZBEK AGREEMENT ON FLOUR PRICES. Novosti reported on April 2 that Turkmen president Saparmurad Niyazov had appeared on republican television to announce the conclusion of an agreement between Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to keep flour and pasta prices unchanged during 1991. Niyazov was quoted as saying that bread prices would be raised in Turkmenistan, but would remain lower than all-Union prices. The agreement with Uzbekistan is apparently seen as a measure to try to prevent social hardship and unrest during the transition to a market economy. (Bess Brown) KYRGYZSTAN SIGNS AGREEMENT ON ENERGY. Radio Moscow reported on April 4 that the prime minister of Kyrgyzstan and the director of the Kirgiz power-generating association have signed an agreement with the USSR ministry of power, giving the ministry the right to coordinate the republic's participation in the all-Union power program. Kyrgyzstan is rich in hydroelectric resources, which it contributes to the Central Asian power grid. The agreement demonstrates the republic's stated willingness to function as part of the USSR so long as the rights claimed in its declaration of sovereignty are respected. (Bess Brown) CENTRAL PRESS ON ISLAMIC PARTY. The March 23 issue of Komsomol'skaya pravda contains a sympathetic account of the tribulations of the Tajik branch of the Islamic Renaissance Party at the hands of republican authorities (including the official Muslim establishment). The authors of the article sum up Tajik officialdom's attitude by saying that jihad has been declared in the republic, but it is the Tajik Communist Party that has declared war on the Islamic Party, rather than the other way around; the authors add that the authorities' behavior could provoke the extremism they profess to fear. While the Islamic Renaissance Party has been attacked in the press of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, it has generally received sympathetic treatment in the central press. (Bess Brown) GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS RUSSIAN CONGRESS APPEAL ON SOUTH OSSETIA. On April 2 the Presidium of the Georgian Parliament rejected as "gross interference" in Georgia's affairs the appeal made two days earlier by the RSFSR Congress of People's Deputies that Georgia should restore South Ossetian autonomy and facilitate the return of Ossetian refugees to their homes, TASS reports. Le Monde (April 2) quotes Interfax as stating that Yeltsin had likewise sent a message to Georgian Supreme Soviet chairman Zviad Gamsakhurdia urging him to implement measures agreed between the two men during their meeting on March 23 on stabilizing the situation in South Ossetia. (Liz Fuller) GEORGIAN ATTACK ON TSKHINVALI REPULSED? According to an as yet unconfirmed report broadcast on April 2 by Radio Moscow's World Service, an attempt by Georgian forces in armored vehicles to occupy the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali was repelled by Ossetian volunteers. The Georgian detachments reportedly used heavy machine guns and mortars and inflicted civilian casualties. (Liz Fuller) SNEGUR CONFIRMS MOLDAVIA WILL NOT SIGN UNION TREATY. Moldavian president Mircea Snegur has repeated that his republic will not sign the Union Treaty. Radio Moscow said March 30 that Snegur made the statement at a meeting with activists of the Romanian organization "For Bessarabia and Bukovina." The radio said Snegur expressed his conviction that the six republics (the three Baltic states, Georgia, Moldavia and Armenia) that have refused to sign the Union Treaty "will show support for each other." (CMD/NCA) the inte MOLDAVIAN GOVERNMENT DISCUSSES BANKRUPTCY LAW. The government of Moldavian Prime Minister Mircea Druk has drawn up a draft law on bankruptcy. According to TASS of March 27, some 25 percent of Moldavian enterprises are expected to become insolvent if the law goes into effect. (CMD/NCA) MOLDAVIAN NEWSPAPER ADVOCATES BREAK WITH MOSCOW PATRIARCHATE. Novosti reported April 2 that the newspaper of the Moldavian Popular Front, Tsara, has spoken out against Moldavian Orthodox believers joining the Moscow Patriarchate. The newspaper said the only possible solution is "our return to the bosom of our ancient national Church. Our good mother is the Romanian Church." (Oxana Antic) PRICE HIKES TAKE EFFECT IN UKRAINE. As in Moscow, drastic price increases do not appear to have had any beneficial impact on empty store shelves in Kiev. Some shops were closed for "cleaning day" and those that were open had nothing more to offer than usual. Radio Kiev-2 reported that Ukrainian consumers are referring to April 2 as "Black Tuesday." (Kathy Mihalisko) SOVIET MEDIA SILENT ON LUBACHIVSKY VISIT. Although the restoration of the Ukrainian Catholic Church hierarchy after 45 years of prohibition should be seen as a milestone in the expansion of religious freedom under Gorbachev, both the central and Ukrainian media have been conspicuously silent in these first days of Cardinal Myroslav Lubachivsky's two-month stay in Lvov, with the exception of a TASS report yesterday on Lubachivsky's international press conference. The UCC leader's long-awaited arrival on March 31, after 53 years away from his homeland, was not covered even by republican television; this seems to indicate concern among the authorities over the potential political impact of the visit. (Kathy Mihalisko) PATRIARCH MSTISLAV IN KIEV. The start of Cardinal Lubachivsky's visit coincided with the arrival in Kiev of Mstislav, the New Jersey-based Patriarch of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. This is Mstislav's second trip to the homeland in six months. He was denied permission to take up a residence in Kiev during his present stay. (Ukrainian BD/Kathy Mihalisko) POPULATION GROWTH IN KIEV AT ALL-TIME LOW. The population growth in Kiev has hit an all-time low, Komsomol'skaya pravda reported March 26. The city's statistics administration says the low growth rate is the result of a decrease in the number of births and an increase in the number of deaths. In the past two years, the birth rate in the Ukrainian capital has fallen 12 percent, while the death rate has increased five percent. (NCA) [As of 1300 CET] Compiled by Patrick Moore & Elizabeth Teague
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