He that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom. - J.R. Tolkien
RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 65, 04 April 1991





IN THE BALTIC STATES

LITHUANIAN-SOVIET REPRESENTATIVES MEET. Lithuanian and Soviet
working groups met April 3 and are to meet again in the Kremlin
today to prepare for talks that could lead to negotiations on
Lithuania's independence. USSR Justice Minister Sergei Lushchikov
told TASS April 3 that the first meeting was held at the Lithuanian
representation in Moscow and lasted more than three hours. Neither
he nor Lithuanian representatives provided any details about
what issues were discussed. (Dzintra Bungs)

MERI IN CANADA. Estonia's Foreign Minister Lennart Meri says
the USSR should be a part of any international conference called
to discuss the Baltic republics and demands for independence,
an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Ottawa on April 3. Meri,
who met with Canadian parliamentarians and government officials,
also lobbied for an international Baltic conference when he and
Supreme Council Chairman Arnold Ruutel visited Washington, D.C.
last week. (Riina Kionka)

US SENATORS CALL FOR BALTIC INDEPENDENCE NEGOTIATIONS. On April
3, six senators were luncheon guests of Supreme Council Chairman
Anatolijs Gorbunovs, who reiterated his call for an international
conference to further the Baltic quest for independence, reported
Radio Riga that day. Also discussed was a US Information Center
in Riga. Senator Howell Heflin (D-Alabama) told the press the
American lawmakers wanted to show their solidarity with Baltic
aspirations for independence; he added that the visit should
serve to prod Moscow to start negotiations on independence for
Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Senator David Oren (D-Oklahoma)
said he did not foresee the Baltic States becoming a security
threat to the USSR should they become independent--a fear expressed
by some Soviet leaders. (Dzintra Bungs)

MOSCOW RELEASES REFERENDUM FIGURES FOR LATVIA. Moscow has finally
released more precise information on the March 17 referendum
in Latvia, according to Radio Riga of April 2. The Latvian authorities
refused to have anything to do with the USSR referendum. Previous
reports from Moscow only indicated that the vast majority of
the approximately 500,000 participants had endorsed a renewed
USSR federation. The latest report said that 415,147 persons,
or 95% of those participating in the referendum, voted "yes";
4% voted "no"; 1% of the ballots were considered invalid. Ballots
from Soviet military bases in Latvia were counted separately
and were not included in these figures. Because of widespread
irregularities, even the latest report from Moscow provides,
at best, only approximate results. (Dzintra Bungs)

CHERNOBYL VICTIMS IN LATVIA. Citing information provided by the
Chernobyl Society in Latvia, Radio Riga reported on March 30
that about 50 persons have so far died in Latvia as a consequence
of the 1986 disaster. The most frequent causes of death were
cancer, heart malfunction, and suicide. About 30,000 persons
from Latvia participated in the cleanup operations in Chernobyl.
(Dzintra Bungs)

COOPERATIVES FLOURISHED IN LATVIA IN 1990. According to figures
provided by the Latvian Statistics Department, at the end of
1990 there were 6,400 registered cooperatives in Latvia, of which
about 5,400 were operating actively. Their turnover last year
was two billion rubles, or twice as much as in 1989, Radio Riga
reported on March 30. (Dzintra Bungs)

POPULARITY POLL IN ESTONIA. A recent poll shows that Chairman
of the Supreme Council Arnold Ruutel is still the most popular
politician in Estonia. According to ETA on April 3, Ruutel garnered
94% of the votes among Estonians, and 52% among non-Estonians.
The poll, conducted on March 12-18 by the EMOR group, surveyed
902 residents of Estonia, of whom 63% were ethnic Estonians,
30% were Russians, and 5% represented other nationalities. (Riina
Kionka)



ALL-UNION AFFAIRS

GOVERNMENT OFFERS TO DOUBLE MINERS' WAGES. In an effort to end
the month-long miners' strike, the USSR government is offering
to double coalminers' wages between now and January 1992, Reuters
reported April 4. The pay raise would be phased and conditional
on increased productivity in the mines. The offer was presented
April 3 to miners' representatives gathered in Moscow for discussions
with Soviet leaders. The delegations were addressed yesterday
by Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, who told them "We are
all in the same boat--let us row in the same direction." The
miners said the government is refusing to consider their political
demands, which include a call for Gorbachev's resignation. (NCA)


GORBACHEV ORDERS SPEEDIER LAND DISTRIBUTION. Soviet Television
reported April 3 that Gorbachev has ordered republican and local
governments to speed up the distribution of farming plots to
peasants. Gorbachev has sent telegrams to thousands of local
government bodies, telling them to accelerate the plan that was
proposed in January; he said three million hectares of land should
be distributed to private farmers by this Spring. Saying that
the land distribution ordered in January "is taking place in
an unsatisfactory way," Gorbachev's telegrams call on local authorities
to take action against those not carrying out the order. (NCA)


OPPOSITION SEEKS UNIFIED STAND. Leaders of opposition groups
from the 15 Soviet republics plan to meet in Moscow April 21
to coordinate their policies. Represented will be such groups
as "Democratic Russia," Ukraine's "Rukh," and the popular fronts
of the Baltic states. "Democratic Russia" leader Yurii Afanas'ev
told The Washington Post April 3 that the meeting will discuss
the formation of unified bodies to develop an opposition strategy.
He said these might take the form of institutions to shadow the
central government. (NCA)

NEW CRITERION FOR POVERTY LEVEL? At a press conference in Moscow
to discuss the retail price changes, USSR Deputy Minister for
Labor and Social Affairs Nikolai Cheshenko stated that nearly
80 million people in the USSR "now live close to or below the
poverty line, which has been set at 100 rubles a month" (TASS,
April 2). The official definition of poverty was generally declared
to be 78 rubles a month until recently, and it is not clear whether
Cheshenko's new figure applied to the situation before or after
the retail price hike. On March 20, USSR Deputy Prime Minister
Vladimir Shcherbakov told Soviet TV that "the new minimum living
wage will no doubt be close" to 180 rubles a month. (Keith Bush)


TOURIST EXCHANGE RATE BOOSTED. On April 3, the USSR Gosbank announced
that, with immediate effect, foreign tourists in the Soviet Union
will receive an exchange rate for their hard currency close to
the free-market rate, The New York Times and The Washington Post
reported April 4. The new tourist rate will be fixed several
times a week. The initial exchange rate was posted at 27.6 rubles
to the dollar, compared with a previous rate of 5.74 rubles to
the dollar. The commercial rate will remain at 1.76 rubles and
the official rate at 0.58 rubles to the dollar. (Keith Bush)


PENSION FUND CONTRIBUTION SHORTFALL. Radio Moscow-1 reported
April 1 that the USSR Pension Fund has been established in accordance
with the Law on Pension Provisions for Citizens. The Fund took
out a credit from the USSR Gosbank for the first quarter of 1991
in anticipation of receiving the contributions due from enterprises,
organizations, kolkhozes and cooperatives. The paying in of these
contributions has, however, been going "extremely unsatisfactorily"
in many regions, causing "serious anxiety about the future of
tens of millions of pensioners and families with children." The
Fund appeals to the said enterprises, etc., to fulfill their
duty. (Keith Bush)

ARMY'S PARTY CONGRESS CONCLUDES. The First All-Army Party Congress,
consisting of over 1,000 delegates and ostensibly reflecting
the Party's "reformed" role within the Armed Forces (Party organizations
are no longer formally controlled by the military-political organs),
met in Moscow on March 29-30. According to reports by Western
news agencies, speeches at the Congress were generally hard-line
(see next item). In a March 30 address, President Gorbachev attacked
his domestic opponents for trying "to destabilize society" by
exploiting and inciting tensions. He endorsed a strong military
and said the army should "have everything necessary to reliably
guarantee" state security. (Stephen Foye)

YAZOV ADDRESSES PARTY CONFERENCE. In a hard-line speech, Defense
Minister Dmitrii Yazov told delegates to the First All-Army Party
Congress that the future of the CPSU depended to a large extent
on the vitality of the Army's one-million-strong Party organization.
Yazov criticized "separatist, nationalist, and extremist forces"
who, he said, are trying "to trample" the legacy of communism.
He called attempts to eliminate the Party's influence in the
army "unconstitutional," and accused liberals of undermining
national security to satisfy their own ambitions. Yazov added
that the Gulf War and the West's "strong-arm tactics" prove that
Moscow still faces a serious military threat. (Stephen Foye)


YAZOV: TROOPS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR VILNIUS KILLINGS. Defense Minister
Dmitrii Yazov told Soviet television viewers on March 30 (see
yesterday's Daily Report) that troops had not used live ammunition
during the January 13 attack in Vilnius that left 13 civilians
dead. Yazov said that military commanders had not given orders
to use weapons and that troops did not fire with live cartridges.
He claimed that post-mortems were not performed on any of the
victims because such examinations would have demonstrated that
the troops did not use weapons. Yazov has consistently denied
complicity in the January 13 attack and has been an apologist
for military actions taken in Vilnius. (Stephen Foye)

SYRIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN MOSCOW. Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq
al-Shara arrived in Moscow on April 3 for a working visit. Reuter
reported April 3 Shara would meet with Soviet Foreign Minister
Aleksandr Bessmertnykh and possibly with President Gorbachev
before returning to Damascus on April 4. Meanwhile, Israel Defense
Minister Mosche Arens claimed on April 2 that Syria was negotiating
with the USSR for a large arms purchase, AFP reported April 3.
(Suzanne Crow)

US HOPES FOR SUMMIT. The White House said on April 3 that President
Bush still hopes to meet President Gorbachev sometime before
the end of June, but no date has been set. The statement came
after a German paper reported that Bush and Gorbachev would meet
in Berlin following a CSCE meeting. Germany, the USSR and the
US have all denied knowledge of plans for such a meeting. (NCA/Suzanne
Crow)

MORE ON BERING SEA ACCORD. Sovetskaya Rossiya continues to examine
the June 1990 US-Soviet agreement defining the maritime boundary
in the area of the Bering Sea. In a full-page spread of three
articles (March 22), the paper presents views both opposing and
supporting the agreement. One of the articles, seeking to discredit
the USSR Foreign Ministry and the agreement in question, calls
for "the right to bring suit against [Foreign] Ministry...officials
for an unserious attitude toward an extremely serious problem."
The newspaper also calls for the involvement of the RSFSR Foreign
Ministry in consultations regarding the agreement's ratification.
(Suzanne Crow)

GORBACHEV EXPECTED IN NAGASAKI. During his trip to Japan April
16-19, Mikhail Gorbachev is expected to tour Nagasaki, Japanese
government sources told Reuter on April 3. (Suzanne Crow)



IN THE REPUBLICS



MINSK WORKERS PROTEST PRICE INCREASES. On April 3, factory workers
in Minsk translated widespread anger at the government's price
increases into spontaneous strike action. The protest began at
the Kozlov Electro-Mechanical Plant and spread rapidly to other
factories, including the important tractor, automobile and motor
works. According to reports received by RFE/RL, as many as 100,000
workers poured into the streets to demand "market salaries for
market prices." A six-person strike committee was set up under
the leadership of a member of the noncommunist Workers' Union
of Belorussia. Activists have called for a city-wide strike on
April 8 if their demands for higher salary compensation are not
met. (Belorussian BD/Kathy Mihalisko)

INDEPENDENT BELORUSSIAN CONFEDERATION OF LABOR FOUNDED. The Minsk
strike came on the heels of the founding congress of Belorussia's
new Confederation of Labor, held March 30 and 31. The 115 delegates
represented independent labor organizations such as the above-mentioned
Workers' Union and strike committees in cities, coal fields and
industrial centers throughout Belorussia. In an appeal to workers,
the Congress said the country cannot hope to achieve normality
in the absence of free labor unions. It also sent a telegram
in support of striking Soviet miners and their political demands.
Mikhas' Sobol', an activist in the USSR workers' movement, was
elected chairman of the Confederation. (Belorussian BD/Kathy
Mihalisko)

RSFSR BUDGET CONTRIBUTION. According to Reuter of April 3, Yeltsin's
deputy Ruslan Khasbulatov told reporters in Moscow his republic
would oppose the Orlov/Gerashchenko/Kucherenko proposals to rescue
the union budget for 1991 by tightening central control over
union-republic legislation and banks (see the Daily Reports of
April 2 and 3). "It will bleed dry our republic and other republics,"
Khasbulatov is quoted as saying. Yeltsin had earlier this year
said that the RSFSR would contribute about 78 billion rubles
to the union budget in 1991--well down on its 1990 contribution
and far short of central requirements. (Keith Bush)

YELTSIN SURVIVES ANOTHER ATTEMPT TO OUST HIM. RSFSR Supreme Soviet
chairman Boris Yeltsin won a victory April 3 when the RSFSR Congress
of People's Deputies again refused to hold a vote a no confidence
in him. But Yeltsin also suffered a number of defeats at the
April 3 session. The Congress turned down his proposal for direct
elections soon for a Russian executive president. Instead, it
ordered the preparation of legislation authorizing such an election,
but set no date for the vote. In addition, the Congress failed
to support Yeltsin's call for an all-Union coalition government
of "popular trust and national accord." The Congress is continuing
today (April 4). (NCA)

CONGRESS REFUSES TO LIFT TARASOV'S IMMUNITY. The RSFSR Congress
of People's Deputies April 3 refused the request of USSR Procurator
General Nikolai Trubin to lift the immunity of one of its members,
millionaire-entrepreneur Artem Tarasov, so that he could be prosecuted
on charges of insulting President Gorbachev. Soviet Television
reported that only 280 of the 854 deputies present voted in favor
of allowing Tarasov to be charged with "offending the honor and
dignity of the USSR President." (Tarasov alleged in an interview
in January that Gorbachev had agreed to trade the southernmost
Kurile Islands to Japan for 200 billion dollars'

worth of investment in the Soviet economy; Gorbachev's office
has denied this. Gorbachev begins a visit to Japan April 16 and
is expected to discuss the future of the Kuriles with Japanese
officials.) (NCA)

DEPUTIES: TARASOV CASE BRINGS LAW INTO DISREPUTE. Khasbulatov,
who chaired the session when Trubin spoke, was heard over Soviet
Television whispering to the Procurator General, "Didn't you
realize there was no way this was going to get through?" The
RSFSR Supreme Soviet has twice refused Trubin's requests for
permission to charge Tarasov. Deputies commented yesterday that
Trubin's decision to appeal to the Congress of People's Deputies
is quite disproportionate to the gravity of Tarasov's act. In
the run-up to Gorbachev's visit to Japan, the Soviet press is
full of speculation about the future of the Kuriles, much of
it similar to Tarasov's. Yet, deputies noted, Colonel Viktor
Alksnis, who openly accused Gorbachev of telling lies and orchestrating
coups d'etat in the Baltic states, has got off without so much
as a reprimand; deputies said the disparity in the treatment
of the "democrat" Tarasov and the "reactionary" Alksnis makes
a mockery of the law on protecting presidential honor. (Julia
Wishnevsky)

PRIVATIZATION BEGINS IN LENINGRAD. Quoting the Russian Information
Agency, Izvestia April 3 reported the sale of four state stores
at a televised auction in Leningrad. A total of 21 people took
part in the bidding, which was apparently restricted to the auction
room and, it seems, not open to telephone bidders. The premises
fetched a total of 3.5 million rubles. Leningrad Mayor Anatolii
Sobchak announced that privatization of apartments in the city
would commence on April 16. (Keith Bush)

"TSN" NEWSMEN REAPPEAR. The present session of the RSFSR Congress
has coincided with the start of RSFSR Television, which is broadcasting
two 10-minute reports on the Congress daily. RSFSR TV has also
provided a home for several stars who recently left Central Television
for political reasons. These include several former "TSN" moderators
banned from the alternative news service by the chairman of Soviet
radio and TV, Leonid Kravchenko. With a few notable exceptions,
the best-known Soviet TV journalists (including the moderator
of the Soviet-American "telebridges," Vladimir Pozner) have transferred
to RSFSR TV following disputes with Kravchenko. As of April 14,
RSFSR TV will be on the air six hours daily. (Julia Wishnevsky)


JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES REGISTERED IN RSFSR. Izvestia reported on
March 29 that RSFSR Minister of Justice N. Fedorov has approved
the registration of 25 religious organizations, including the
Jehovah's Witnesses. Jehovah's Witnesses, who have worshipped
in the USSR since the annexation of the Baltic states and parts
of Ukraine, Moldavia and Belorussia in the 1940s, were until
recently severely persecuted. (Oxana Antic)

WHO GUARDS YELTSIN AND SOBCHAK? The number of officers in the
security department of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet does not exceed
50, while the KGB's Ninth Administration for Government Protection
numbers several thousand officers, the deputy head of the former
department, Yurii Goryakin, told Argumenty i fakty (No. 10).
Goryakin, a retired KGB major, complained that the Ninth Administration
is reluctant to honor earlier agreements and hand over state
mansions and armored limousines to the RSFSR for Yeltsin's use.
The KGB denied Goryakin's accusations, telling Sovetskaya Rossiya
(March 30) that the delay was due to technical reasons. In contrast
to Yeltsin, the Chairman of Leningrad City Soviet, Anatolii Sobchak,
is guarded by the KGB Ninth Administration. On January 8, the
television news "TSN" reported that the KGB had assumed responsibility
for Sobchak's protection following threats to his life. (Victor
Yasmann)

POPE SANCTIONS UKRAINIAN CATHOLIC PATRIARCH. Speaking April 1
in Lvov, Cardinal Myroslav Lubachivsky, Archbishop Major of the
Ukrainian Catholic Church, indicated that Pope John Paul II is
in favor of elevating the leader of the UCC to the rank of Patriarch.
Reuters quoted Lubachivsky as saying that the Pope no longer
sees any obstacles to such a move, which would raise the status
of the Ukrainian Catholic Church both in Ukraine and abroad while
maintaining the faith's allegiance to Rome. Reuters speculated
that the step would anger the Russian Orthodox Church. In related
news, the Papal Nuncio in Moscow, Francesco Colasuonno, told
DPA April 2 that the Pope may visit Ukraine at the end of 1992.
(Kathy Mihalisko)

PRAVDA LAMBASTES DEMOCRATS IN WEST UKRAINE--AGAIN. Pravda on
March 23 lashed out at the noncommunist soviets in West Ukraine
which organized the parallel March 17 referendum on Ukrainian
independence. The paper charged that local leaders are using
the overwhelming vote in favor of independence as a chance to
step up their repression of Communists. In tones reminiscent
of Brezhnev-era rhetoric, the newspaper of the CPSU Central Committee
warned that defeat awaits the "so-called democrats" who have
declared war on the CPSU. (Kathy Mihalisko)

KRAVCHUK URGES YELTSIN-GORBACHEV TALKS. In an interview published
April 2 in the Christian Science Monitor, Ukrainian Supreme Soviet
chairman Leonid Kravchuk said he believes that Boris Yeltsin
sincerely supports a sovereign Russia. But, Kravchuk went on,
Ukraine is making steps toward sovereignty without confronting
Gorbachev. Kravchuk suggested that Yeltsin and Gorbachev settle
their differences in a round of talks, and suggested that the
latter put aside his personal feelings toward the Russian Federation
leader. (Kathy Mihalisko)

GAMSAKHURDIA SENDS YET ANOTHER PROTEST TO GORBACHEV ... On April
3 Georgian Supreme Soviet chairman Zviad Gamsakhurdia sent yet
another telegram to Gorbachev protesting an incident in which
two teenage girls were injured by an APC of the USSR Interior
Ministry, and demanding that "all interference in the affairs
of the sovereign republic of Georgia be stopped to avoid further
destabilization of the situation", Tbilisi Radio reported that
day. (Liz Fuller)

SOUTH OSSETIAN SITUATION STILL SUBJECT OF RUMORS AND CONTRADICTIONS.
Radio Tbilisi reported on April 3 that the situation in Tskhinvali
the previous day was "tense," as USSR MVD troops had transported
quantities of military equipment into the town. TASS, however,
claimed that the night of April 2-3 was the calmest for months,
but went on to cite rumours that an attack on the town by 12,000
Georgian militants was imminent. TASS further quoted a USSR MVD
spokesman as advocating the introduction of a state of emergency
throughout South Ossetia to facilitate the work of the MVD troops
charged with maintaining order and to provide a basis for negotiations
between Georgians and Ossetians. (Liz Fuller)

MOLDAVIAN POPULAR FRONT LEADER CHASTISES ROMANIAN DISINTEREST.
Interviewed by the Romanian National Peasant Party daily Dreptatea
March 23, Moldavian Popular Front Executive Committee Chairman
Iurie Rosca again expressed disappointment over lack of support
from the Romanian authorities. Rosca attributed Bucharest's "tacit
complicity" with Moscow to residual Communist mentalities and
the "scarecrow" of economic dependence on the USSR. He also criticized
the radical nationalist organization Vatra Romaneasca for opposing
aid to Moldavia on the ground that it would expose Romania to
Soviet counteraction in Transylvania. Rosca was particularly
caustic about Vatra Romaneasca's avowed suspicions that the Moldavian
movement aims to unite with Romania's rump Moldavian province
and tear it away from Romania. (Vladimir Socor)

END OF RAMADAN TO BE WORK-FREE IN CHECHEN-INGUSHETIA. The end
of the Islamic fasting period of Ramadan on April 16 will be
a work-free day in the RSFSR's Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Republic,
Radio Moscow stated April 3. (CMD/NCA)

[As of 1300 CET] Compiled by Patrick Moore and Elizabeth Teague


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

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