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No. 69, 10 April 1991
BALTIC STATES SOVIET TROOPS OCCUPY ANOTHER LITHUANIAN BUILDING. Soviet paratroopers took over the driving school of the DOSAAF organization in Vilnius on April 9, Radio Vilnius and Reuters reported that day. It is not clear who ordered the takeover. Lithuanian authorities have asked Moscow to return the building to Lithuanian control. DOSAAF is an all-Union organization providing military training for young people. Last year it was reorganized in Lithuania and was brought under Lithuanian jurisdiction. Given that Soviet forces have occupied other buildings in Vilnius, the question arises whether Moscow is planning another escalation of force in Lithuania. (Dzintra Bungs) HOW MANY COMMUNISTS IN ESTONIA? Only one third of the members of the Estonian Communist Party have stuck with the movement, according to an April 5 Eesti Ekspress interview with ECP (CPSU platform) First Secretary Lembti Annus. Annus said a third of the formerly 106,000 strong party has remained true, and that the overwhelming majority of those are in the Moscow-loyal party. "The self-proclaimed independent ECP has significantly fewer members," Annus said. "Although they claim to have 5000 [members], I have my doubts." The independent ECP tentatively split with Moscow in March 1990, formalizing the breakaway in January 1991. (Riina Kionka) LATVIANS AND GEORGIANS RECALL SOVIET CRACKDOWN. On the second anniversary of the Soviet crackdown in Tbilisi, a commemorative exhibition of the events has opened in Riga, reported Radio Riga on April 9. The exhibition is sponsored by the Georgian Culture Society in Latvia. Concurrently, an exhibit opened in Tbilisi documenting the Soviet violence in Latvia and Lithuania in January. Radio Riga also reported widely about the Georgian independence declaration. (Dzintra Bungs) PEOPLE'S FRONT OF LATVIA DECIDES AGAINST VOLUNTEER GUARDS. On April 3 the board of the People's Front decided to stop coordinating and financing volunteers guarding the principal government and communications buildings in Riga. Volunteers were organized in January to guard against a Moscow-organized coup in Latvia. On January 26 the Council of Ministers decided to establish a Defense Department which was to take over the guarding of strategically important sites. According to the PFL, this task has not been handled effectively by the new department. The PFL board urged the Council of Ministers to continue to work more energtically on establishing a Latvian national army or guard. (Dzintra Bungs) ALL-UNION TOPICS ANTI-CRISIS PROGRAM. On the evening of April 9, President Mikhail Gorbachev outlined on Soviet Television a one-year program of measures aimed at stabilizing the economy, reimposing central controls on many aspects of planning and management while expediting the transition to a market economy. TASS subsequently carried the full draft of the USSR Cabinet of Ministers' "Action Program for leading the Economy out of Crisis," but then withdrew it without explanation. (It is possible that the government first wants to gauge the republics' reaction to such elements of the program as the moratorium on strikes and on demonstrations during working hours). (Keith Bush) ANTI-CRISIS DETAILS NEXT WEEK. Gorbachev said he would submit a more detailed outline of his plan to the USSR Supreme Soviet next week. (NCA) BAN ON STRIKES PART OF GORBACHEV PACKAGE. Included in Gorbachev's anti-crisis measures is a call for a moratorium on all strikes and on demonstrations in working hours. (This would not rule out weekend rallies such as those called recently in support of Yeltsin.) Political strikes would be banned entirely and penalties introduced to ensure that the ban was made to stick. However, Gorbachev did not specify whether he was proposing a legal ban on strikes or merely a voluntary public moratorium. Recent experience suggests that, unless extremely tough penalties are introduced and are enforced, workers are unlikely to pay any more attention to a ban on strikes than other sections have society have paid to Gorbachev's other recent exhortations. (Elizabeth Teague) PATH TO HYPER-INFLATION? On April 2, Central Television interviewed the director of the Perm Telephone Plant on the aftermath of the retail price increases. His workers are already co-owners of the plant and are "interested in high end-results." Wages there are set to double; this is to be achieved partly by cutting costs but largely, it appears, by simply raising prices for the enterprise's products. (Keith Bush) YAZOV ON CFE, TROOP PROBLEMS IN GERMANY. The Soviet Defense Minister told reporters on April 9 that Moscow has done nothing to contravene the CFE agreement, TASS reported. Echoing others in the military leadership, Yazov justified the movement of thousands of tanks and other equipment beyond the Urals and the redesignation of three army motor-rifle divisions to naval shore defense. He called the latter step "a purely internal affair" and claimed that all the equipment involved was accounted for in accordance with the CFE agreement. Yazov also criticized the German press for encouraging an "unhealthy" attitude around Soviet bases in the FRG and for encouraging Soviet soldiers to defect. (Stephen Foye) SOBCHAK CALLS FOR ALTERNATIVE TO CPSU. Anatolii Sobchak has called for the creation of an all-Union Social-Democratic party as a counter-weight to the CPSU. The Financial Times quoted him on April 10 as telling a meeting in London on April 9 that such an alternative party should include Eduard Shevardnadze and Stanislav Shatalin. Sobchak criticized Boris Yeltsin for spending too much time fighting Mikhail Gorbachev instead of introducing land reform and private ownership. He said that Yeltsin will use his new extraordinary powers to dismantle the local Communist Party structures in the RSFSR. (Alexander Rahr) KOMPLEKTOV'S APPOINTMENT OFFICIAL. Viktor Komplektov was named ambassador to the United States by Gorbachev on April 9, TASS reported. Komplektov, considered conservative, is a career diplomat specializing in the United States and Latin America. He was named Deputy Foreign Minister in late 1982. Washington accepted Komplektov's appointment on March 18, AFP reported that day. (Suzanne Crow) GORBACHEV TO VISIT ROK. After his April 16-19 visit to Japan, Mikhail Gorbachev will travel to South Korea for a one-day visit (on April 19). Gorbachev will meet his South Korean counterpart on the Island of Cheju rather than in Seoul so as to avoid irritating the North Korean leadership. Persistent rumors that Gorbachev would travel to South Korea, or perhaps to both North and South Korea, have until now been dismissed by Soviet foreign ministry officials. (See, Daily Report, February 19.) (Suzanne Crow) EX-POWS DEMAND COMPENSATION. The All-Japan Former Detainees' Association held a rally April 9 in Tokyo and demanded that Mikhail Gorbachev issue a formal apology when he visits the Japanese capital April 16. The ex-POWs also called for Soviet compensation and the return of the remains of some 60,000 Japanese buried in Siberia, Reuter reported April 9. (Suzanne Crow) BESSMERTNYKH APPLAUDS YUGOSLAVIA. Speaking at a joint press conference with his Yugoslav counterpart, Budimir Loncar, Foreign Minister Aleksandr Bessmertnykh said, "We highly value the constructive role played by Yugoslavia in Europe and the world, and we think that Yugoslavia can continue to play that role only as a unified government," TASS reported April 9. (Suzanne Crow) TASS ANSWERS PELL. TASS commentator Vladimir Bogachev responded on April 9 to US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Claiborne Pell's statement of April 8 that it would be rash to dismantle a security structure which has preserved peace for over forty years. Bogachev complained that NATO is trying to continue the arms race with the latest weapons technology. "It is not simply a matter of the quantity of weapons but also their effectiveness," Bogachev said. Surprisingly, Bogachev did not respond specifically to Pell's statement that the East European states should be invited to participate in NATO. (Suzanne Crow) IN THE REPUBLICS GEORGIA DECLARES INDEPENDENCE. The declaration of independence adopted April 9 by the Georgian Parliament was endorsed unanimously, but not voted on, AFP reported that day. Citing the Georgian news agency Sakinform, TASS stated April 9 that the independence declaration proceeded from the results of the March 31 referendum in which 90.57% of the electorate participated, of whom 99.08% voted in favor of the restoration of independence. The population of Tbilisi "wept with joy and danced in the streets" at the news, The Los Angeles Times reported April 10. (Liz Fuller) INDEPENDENCE DOES NOT EQUAL IMMEDIATE SECESSION. Georgian Supreme Soviet chairman Zviad Gamsakhurdia is quoted by The New York Times (April 10) as stating that Georgia's declaration of independence "is not a de facto withdrawal from the Soviet Union" and will have to be followed in the next 2-3 years by a series of legal steps to establish self-rule. Yesterday's events seem to mark a departure from Gamsakhurdia's earlier statement that Georgia would not declare its independence until it had achieved full political and economic autonomy, since these conditions have not yet been met. The Georgian economy is not yet fully independent of Moscow (indeed, it is in deep crisis). (Liz Fuller) AUTONOMY FOR ABKHAZIA BUT NOT OSSETIA. Gamsakhurdia further stated that the autonomous republic of Abkhazia would retain its autonomous status in an independent Georgia, and that Adzharia would hold a referendum on its future status, according to AFP (April 9). He said the autonomy of South Ossetia, abolished by the Georgian SupSov in December, 1990, will not be restored, although the 1918 declaration of independence on which Georgia's April 9 proclamation was based specifically guarantees the right to free development of all minorities within Georgia. (Liz Fuller) MINSK WARNING STRIKE. On Tuesday, scores of Minsk factories staged a warning strike to protest the failure of the Belorussian government to make good on its promise, offered last week, to provide daily television time to strikers. TASS said April 9 that government officials yesterday agreed in principle to give the strikers access to television, but a Minsk strike committee spokesman told RFE/RL this morning that TASS' information was incorrect. The spokesman, Hryhor Hvozdzik, maintained that, as of the time of writing, most factories in the Belorussian capital are preparing to march on government headquarters in central Minsk. (Belorussian BD/Kathy Mihalisko) KHMARA VOWS TO CONTINUE STRUGGLE. Radical Ukrainian people's deputy Stepan Khmara, who was released from prison April 5 after a five-month detention without trial, has vowed to keep fighting against "the communist, socialist, Kravchukian Supreme Soviet of Ukraine," as quoted April 9 by Radio Kiev-2. Khmara left Kiev Sunday for the Lvov-Volyn coal mining region, whose striking miners were instrumental in obtaining his release. (Kathy Mihalisko) "COMMUNISTS FOR DEMOCRACY" THROW DOWN THE GAUNTLET. This new group numbers 170 members of the RSFSR parliament, TASS reported April 8, and believes it can muster "several million" Communist Party members. It aims to unite Party members who support the reform policies of Boris Yeltsin instead of the conservative policies of the RSFSR Communist Party (RKP). The group is calling for the ouster of the present RKP leadership and is discussing the possibility of an extraordinary CPSU Congress in May. "Communists for Democracy" do not intend to leave the CPSU: "let the conservatives leave," TASS quotes them as saying. (Elizabeth Teague) RUSSIANS TO GET LAND. Georgii Matyukhin, Chairman of the RSFSR Central Bank, revealed in an interview with Die Welt on April 9 that this spring each citizen in the RSFSR will be entitled to receive 1,500 square meters of land and to purchase an additional 2 500 square meters. Farmers will be eligible for larger plots of land. The reasoning behind this, according to Matyukhin, is that tomorrow's property owners will be more responsive to real economic pressures than today's Soviet citizens are to even "the best propaganda." (John Tedstrom) YELTSIN BEGINS KISLOVODSK VACATION. Boris Yeltsin arrived in Kislovodsk April 8 for a short holiday, Radio Rossi announced that day. According to AFP and DPA of April 9, Yeltsin is expected to travel to France next week at the invitation of the International Political Forum. In Strasbourg he will meet members of the European Parliament and Council of Europe. In Paris he will meet president of the French National Assembly Laurent Fabius and the mayor of Paris, Jazques Chirac. (NCA) ANOTHER ALLIANCE OF PARTIES IN RSFSR PLANNED. Representatives of the moderate faction of the radical Democratic Union, the Russian Christian Democratic Party, and the Liberal Forum held a preliminary meeting in Moscow April 9 aimed at establishing an "Independent Russian Alliance." Novosti said the alliance will strive for building an independent Russia, irrespective of the center's position, and will support political trends in the RSFSR Supreme Soviet emphasizing Russia's sovereignty. (Vera Tolz) MOSCOW DECIDES TO ESTABLISH ITS OWN MILITIA. On April 8, the Moscow City Soviet voted unanimously to set up a city militia, TASS and Radio Rossii reported that day. The decision follows the eruption a dispute between the Soviet and the USSR ministry of internal affairs over who controls the Moscow police. Last month, Gorbachev decreed that the Moscow police should be under control of the all-Union ministry. But the RSFSR Congress of People's Deputies rejected Gorbachev's ruling, and put the police under the control of the RSFSR government. (NCA) RAILWAY WORKERS ISSUE ULTIMATUM. Railway workers in the Far Northern mining city of Vorkuta are quoted as saying the demands of striking coalminers must not be met at their expense. TASS reported April 9 that the rail workers have threatened to shut down all rail transport, including passenger trains, if the Vorkuta miners do not start supplying coal. The rail workers say they are losing money because of the miners' strike action. (NCA) MOSCOW UNION FEDERATION SUPPORTS MINERS, IS READY TO STRIKE. The head of the Moscow federation of (official) trade unions, Mikhail Shmakov, says his organization supports the economic demands of the striking miners. TASS quoted Shmakov on April 9 as calling on the RSFSR and USSR parliaments to take measures to resolve the miners' demands. He added that his federation was calling on the Moscow city authorities to honor earlier agreements reached with his group, including publication of data on subsistence wages. He said that, if the demands of his federation are not met, it might have to call a warning strike in the Soviet capital. (NCA) NAZARBAEV ON GORBACHEV. In an interview with the Madrid daily El Pais, summarized by Reuter on April 9, Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbaev warns that 1991 will be Mikhail Gorbachev's last year in power unless the USSR president "makes a radical turn, grasps hold of power, starts to direct the situation and proposes an interesting program acceptable to the people." Nazarbaev complained of "the weakness of Gorbachev and his crowd" in dealing with nationalist violence, citing South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh as cases in point, and recommended the institution of states of emergency in crisis areas. (Bess Brown) TOWN TRIES CONVERSION. The March 14 issue of Kazakhstanskaya pravda contains an interview with the chairman of the town soviet of Kurchatov, which was created in connection with the nuclear test site in Semipalatinsk Oblast and was entirely dependent on it. Now the town is seeking ways to survive without the military-industrial complex. The chairman, nuclear engineer Evgenii Chaikovsky, says he found support from the Nevada-Semipalatinsk anti-nuclear movement, as well as from a newly-formed group of mayors of US cities that have similar problems. Kurchatov hopes to convert itself into a science center. (Bess Brown) MOLDAVIA'S INDEPENDENT COMMUNIST PARTY AGAINST "STATE SOCIALISM". In an appeal to the people of Moldavia for support, the newly-founded Independent Moldavian Communist Party/Democratic Platform has denounced the "crimes and errors" of the CPSU, Moldovapres reported April 9. Urging the "dismantling of totalitarian structures of state socialism," the new party pledged to promote "social welfare" within the framework of a "democratic socialism" and "the values of Western democracy". The new party will recognize internal factions and groupings. (Vladimir Socor) MOLDAVIAN FOREIGN MINISTER RECEIVED BY ROMANIAN PRESIDENT. Moldavia's Minister of External Relations, Nicolae Tiu, conferred with Romanian President Ion Iliescu in Bucharest April 9. Iliescu told Rompres and Radio Bucharest the same day that Romania's Foreign Ministry is about to create a Permanent Secretariat to coordinate Romanian-Moldavian economic, cultural, and political relations. A joint working group will meet next week in Kishinev to begin drafting an intergovernmental agreement. Tiu had conferred with Romanian Prime Minister Petre Roman the preceding day. (Vladimir Socor) MORE ON MURDER OF SENIOR MVD OFFICER. Pravda, Izvestia and Krasnaya zvezda on April 9 published only a tiny report about the machine-gun murder of MVD Colonel Blokhotin in Rostov-on-Don (see Daily Report, April 9). However, Viktor Skrypnikov, chief political officer of the North Caucasus and Trancaucasus Internal Troops, told RFE/RL that day that he was inclined to believe that the murder was a case of revenge for the activities of the MVD troops in Transcaucasus. Skrypnikov also said that Blokhotin might have been a victim of false identification since he was assigned to the rear services and had taken no part in military operations. An investigation is under way by the KGB and USSR Procuracy. (RL Russian Service/Victor Yasmann) (END) [As of 1300 CET]
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