|We were born to unite with our fellowmen, and to join in community with the human race. - Cicero|
No. 71, 12 April 1991
BALTIC STATES LATVIAN-USSR TALKS: NEXT MEETING IN MAY. On April 11, Latvian and Soviet representatives met for 5 hours in Moscow for talks that Latvia's Deputy Prime Minister Ilmars Bisers called "the beginning of official negotiations" on Latvian independence, reported TASS and Radio Riga that day. Deputy Chairman of the Latvian Supreme Council Andrejs Krastins was less optimistic, describing the meeting as "consultations." According to Bisers, the two sides pinpointed about 20 topics of discussion, including Latvia's independence declaration. Expert groups are to deal with the issues before they are discussed at twice-monthly meetings. The next meeting will be held in Riga in May. (Dzintra Bungs) GORBACHEV TO MEET LANDSBERGIS? Lithuanian Supreme Council Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis spoke with Gorbachev on April 11 about his objections to the arrest of Lithuanian citizens by Soviet authorities and the continued Soviet occupation of buildings in Vilnius. Landsbergis offered to meet with Gorbachev to explain the situation in Lithuania. Gorbachev apparently indicated that a meeting might take place sometime after his visit to Japan (April 16-19). (Dzintra Bungs) NORDIC AND DUTCH DELEGATIONS VISIT. According to Radio Riga of April 11, a seven-member delegation of the Nordic Council visited Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania to discuss cultural and educational cooperation. Concurrently an official Dutch parliamentary delegation also visited the Baltic Supreme Councils. Latvian Supreme Council Chairman Anatolijs Gorbunovs described the Dutch visit as a step toward de facto recognition of Latvia as an independent state. (Dzintra Bungs ALL-UNION TOPICS CPSU OFFICIALLY REGISTERED. On April 11, the CPSU was officially registered as a political party by the USSR Ministry of Justice. Registration took place at a ceremony attended by deputy general secretary Vladimir Ivashko, and the event was shown on "Vremya." The CPSU thereby became the first political party to be registered in the USSR under the law on public associations that came into effect on January 1. "Vremya" said the second party registered that day was the Liberal Democratic Party -- a fringe organization believed to have close links with the KGB. The Soviet government earlier refused registration to several newly created all-union political parties on the grounds they had not submitted all the documents necessary. In the meantime, the RSFSR government has already registered several non-Communist parties active in the Russian Republic. (Vera Tolz) IVASHKO, GIDASPOV ON FORTHCOMING CC CPSU PLENUM. Deputy General Secretary Vladimir Ivashko have rejected rumors that Mikhail Gorbachev may step down as Party boss. TASS on April 11 quoted him as saying that a plenum of the Central Committee is scheduled for the end of April or beginning of May. It will discuss the current political situation in the country and the work of Communists in local soviets. On the same day, TASS reported that the conservative Leningrad Party leader, Boris Gidaspov, has denounced perestroika for its "anti-socialist" course. Gidaspov called on the Gorbachev leadership to give an account of their proposed anti-crisis program. (Alexander Rahr) PAVLOV ON RECESSION. Addressing a plenary meeting of the USSR Trade Union Confederation on April 10, Prime Minister Pavlov put the decline in national income during the first quarter of 1991 at 10 percent, TASS reported April 11. The report did not specify whether he was referring to national income (produced) or national income (utilized). In the introduction to the USSR Cabinet of Ministers' Draft Action Program, published--but subsequently withdrawn--by TASS on April 9, the decline in national income (produced) during the first quarter was put at 12 percent. It is, of course, very difficult promptly to evaluate the performance of such an indicator as the national income when the economy is disintegrating. (Keith Bush) EVALUATION OF ANTI-CRISIS PROGRAM. The chairman of the USSR Supreme Soviet Planning and Budget Commission, Viktor Kucherenko, told TASS April 11 what he thought of the draft action program of April 9. He deemed it far more realistic and "vital" than the "500-days" program since, he explained, some 15-20 years will be needed to denationalize the economy without ruining the country, rather than the "three months" envisaged by the Shatalin/Yavlinsky plan. (To be fair to Shatalin and Yavlinsky, their plan projected an initial stabilization period of 100 days). Kucherenko was on firmer ground when he cited, as a weakness in the "anti-crisis" draft of the Soviet government, the absence of any mechanism to implement its provisions. (Keith Bush) MODEST DEBUT FOR FOREIGN-EXCHANGE MARKET. Starting this month, the USSR Gosbank has taken a small first step towards the convertibility of the ruble. The foreign exchange rate of the ruble (for foreign tourists and--within strict limits--for Soviet tourists) is to be set at twice-weekly auctions (Izvestia, April 2). At the first such auction on April 9, only $50,000 changed hands, The Times of London reported April 10. The rate determined was 32.35 rubles to the dollar but, because turnover was so weak, this new rate will not be used for individual transactions. No auction, it seems, was held on April 11, and the next attempt will be made on April 16. (Keith Bush) AKHROMEEV ON GULF WAR. Marshal Sergei Akhromeev said in a letter published in the April 11 Wall Street Journal that Soviet briefings had improved the allies' readiness for the Gulf War and contributed to their victory. Akhromeev, a former General Staff Chief and currently advisor to the Soviet President, said Moscow warned the US that Iraq's ground forces would be a formidable opponent. He said that for this and other reasons the allies had acted "expediently" in conducting a long airwar against Iraq before launching the ground attack. He added that the Gulf War did not represent a defeat for Soviet weaponry and military science. (Stephen Foye) ON ARMY'S LOYALTY TO GORBACHEV, NATO. In a video link-up with a defense symposium in Paris, Marshal Akhromeev asserted that Soviet military leaders were entirely loyal to Soviet President Gorbachev and would in no way consider overthrowing the government, Reuter reported April 11. Akhromeev said that the Soviet Union's six marshals all "walk hand-in-hand" with Gorbachev, and that the entire military leadership is "devoted to the democratic process... [and] prepared to defend [it]." Arguing that the USSR no longer constitutes a threat to Europe, Akhromeev asked why NATO still maintains its military arm. (Stephen Foye) DEPUTY DEFENSE MINISTER ON CONVERSION. Army General Vladimir Arkhipov, commander of Soviet Rear Services, told TASS on April 11 that defense conversion was justified, but that defense industries should concentrate on producing electronics, medical equipment, and machinery. He argued that it was "shortsighted and dangerous" to think of defense conversion as the only, or primary, means of liquidating the Soviet budget deficit and addressing social problems. He said that the defense industries should be at the center of strengthening "reasonable sufficiency" by providing for the technical re-equipping of Soviet military forces. (Stephen Foye) GORBACHEV'S TRIP SCHEDULE. Gorbachev will start off for his Japan trip on Sunday, April 14, with the first stop in Khabarovsk. He will speak "without fail" to labor collectives there upon arrival on April 15, TASS reported. Late that evening Gorbachev will leave for Japan. (Suzanne Crow) GORBACHEV'S KOREA STOP. According to a Reuter report of April 11, the USSR's last-minute decision to have Gorbachev stop in South Korea is proving tricky. North Korea is miffed because this first-ever Soviet head of state visit to either Korea is taking place in the south. Attempting to down-play the visit, Gorbachev plans to avoid the capital city and to meet his Korean counterpart on a resort island instead. This move, however, has annoyed South Korean opposition leaders who say it is a humiliation for South Korea not to be accorded a full-level visit in the capital city. The Korea stop is significant for the USSR. Depending on how negotiations go in Japan, the USSR might use the visit to snub Tokyo. (Suzanne Crow) SINO-SOVIET DRAFT BORDER AGREEMENT. The Sino-Soviet working group on determining the border between the two countries met from March 28 to April 8. TASS reported April 10 the talks were completed in a "business-like and constructive manner." No details of a border settlement were reported. (Suzanne Crow) "VREMYA" ATTACKS DEMOCRATS, RADIO LIBERTY. Speaking on "Vremya" April 11, Russian nationalist writer Stanislav Rybas accused a number of democratic movements ("Democratic Russia," "Rukh," "Sajudis") of wrecking the USSR. The writer also attacked Radio Liberty, calling it a relic of the Cold War. Rybas singled out one of the leaders of "Democratic Russia," Arkadii Murashev. Interviewed by Radio Liberty's Russian Service earlier in the week, Murashev had suggested, tongue in cheek, that "if the US Congress stopped funding Radio Liberty, perhaps the RSFSR government ought to take it over." Rybas commented sarcastically that "maybe the Russian government would also like to take over the financing of the CIA." (Vera Tolz) SOVIET TV DOCUMENTARY ON RADIO LIBERTY. Murashev's comment was made in connection with a 40-minute documentary shown on Central Soviet Television on April 7. Aired during prime-time Sunday evening, immediately following the "Vremya" newscast, the film, called "Alien Voices," attacked Radio Liberty and called on the US government to close the station. The film was identified on the screen as having been produced by the Public Relations Department of the KGB and was composed by Oleg Tumanov. Tumanov, a former acting chief editor of Radio Liberty who returned to the USSR in 1986, was identified during the program as a career Soviet intelligence agent. (Elizabeth Teague) IN THE REPUBLICS BELORUSSIAN GOVERNMENT AGREES TO TALK WITH STRIKERS. A second day of strikes and protests took place April 11 in Minsk, under the eye of Interior Ministry vehicles. Reversing their position of the previous day, the Belorussian authorities agreed on the afternoon of April 11 to begin negotiations on the workers' economic and political demands. The strike action was immediately called off, but spokesmen have told Western news agencies that they will resume the republic-wide work stoppages if the talks prove unsatisfactory or if workers are punished. (Kathy Mihalisko) WORKERS TO PRESS FOR JULY MULTIPARTY ELECTIONS. Negotiations between strike committee representatives and Belorussian officials are set to begin today (April 12). It appears that the strikers' demand for Gorbachev's resignation will not be on the table, but spokesmen for the workers say they will press for the end of Communist Party control of Belorussia and the holding of new multiparty elections to the republican Supreme Soviet in July. Minsk Strike Committee leader Georgy Mukhin was quoted April 12 in Cox newspapers as saying "If we don't overturn the present system, there will be no economic freedom." (Kathy Mihalisko) KIEV TRADE UNIONS PLAN ACTION. Trade unions in the Ukrainian capital have announced a week of "trade union activities" to protest government plans for resolving the economic crisis, Radio Kiev reported on April 11. The action is intended to consolidate the trade unions' efforts in defense of the city's residents and to formulate demands to Gorbachev and the governments of the Soviet Union and Ukraine concerning immediate steps to protect workers. (Roman Solchanyk) COAL MINERS CONTINUE STRIKE IN UKRAINE. The number of striking coal mining enterprises in the Donbass and in Western Ukraine has reached 67, accounting for about 20 percent of all mines in the republic, Radio Kiev reported on April 11. According to a Radio Moscow broadcast of the same day, however, official statistics from Kiev say that 43 mines in Ukraine have stopped working. (Roman Solchanyk) STRIKES IN GEORGIA. The threatened republic-wide strike took effect in Georgia on April 11; traffic on the main railway line to the RSFSR came to a halt, 10,000 workers at the Kutaisi Automobile Works downed tools, and a metallurgical plant and wine factory in Tbilisi also stopped work, Reuters reported April 11. TASS quotes Georgian Supreme Soviet chairman Zviad Gamsakhurdia as affirming that the strikes will continue until Soviet troops are withdrawn from South Ossetia. (Liz Fuller) ARMENIA MAY BE FIRST VICTIM OF GEORGIAN STRIKES. As Georgia accounts for less than 2 per cent of Soviet GNP, the strike there is unlikely to affect the Soviet economy as a whole, but the halting of rail traffic will compound supply problems to Armenia, particularly as Azerbaijan was reported by Radio Erevan on April 9 to have resumed its rail blockade of Armenia. This will increase the political pressures on Armenian Supreme Soviet chairman Levon Ter-Petrossyan, who supports Georgian independence to the point of having advised the Armenian population of Georgia to vote "yes" in the March 31 referendum on restoring Georgian sovereignty. (Liz Fuller) GEORGIA WANTS NEGOTIATIONS WITH CENTER. TASS reported April 11 that the Presidium of the Georgian Supreme Soviet has proposed creating working groups and holding consultations between representatives of Georgia and Moscow to pave the way for immediate negotiations with Gorbachev "on a number of vitally important questions." (Liz Fuller) GEORGIAN ATHLETES SEVER TIES. On April 11 Reuters cited TASS as reporting that Georgia had withdrawn its athletes from all Soviet sports teams and competitions on the grounds that, as citizens of an independent state, "they do no have the right to compete under other states' flags and anthems." (Liz Fuller) ROMANIANS IN BUKOVINA FOUND MEMORIAL SOCIETY. The "Golgotha" Association of Victims of Stalinist and Neo-Stalinist Repression has been established by Romanians in North Bukovina, Rompres reported April 10 from the oblast's capital Chernovtsy. Electing a steering committee of clergymen and cultural figures, the constitutive conference resolved to compile a complete record of Romanian victims of repression in North Bukovina and to demand reparations from the USSR government. It also resolved to resist "Russification" in North Bukovina. (Vladimir Socor) FURTHER TO MOLDAVIA'S TAX ON IMMIGRANTS. The Moldavian government has instituted an annual immigration quota and will levy a tax of 25,000 rubles from enterprises and organizations of all-Union subordination for each employee they bring into Moldavia from other Soviet republics over and above the quota (see yesterday's Daily Report). The measure appears intended to offset the effects of a regulation used for years by the communist-controlled soviets of the republic's russified cities to stem the influx of Moldavian villagers into those cities. Under that regulation, the employer had to pay a tax of 14,000 rubles to the city soviet for each new employee brought in from outside the town; but the regulation did not apply to "specialists" brought in from outside the republic. (Vladimir Socor) ROUND TABLE OF POLITICAL PARTIES ON "RADIO ROSSIYA." On April 11, "Radio Rossiya" organized a round table of several political parties of the RSFSR -- the NTS (People's Labor Union), the so-called Anti-Facist Center of the Democratic Russia Movement, the Russian Christian Democratic Movement, the Kadets (Constitutional Democrats), and the Party of Free Labor. The participants in the round-table spoke about their parties' aims, since they are not well known to the public. They gave phone numbers of their bureaus, inviting anyone interested in the parties' activities to ask for information. (Vera Tolz) TADZHIK KGB WORRIED ABOUT FOREIGN MOSLEM PENETRATION. Tadzhik KGB chairman Vladimir Petkel says foreign intelligence services, Pakistan's in particular, have stepped up efforts to infiltrate the republic. TASS quoted Petkel April 11 as saying he is concerned about continuing attempts by Muslim fundamentalists and Afghan resistance elements to establish contacts with Tadzhik groups. He alleged the purpose of those contacts is to overthrow the Soviet system and set up an Islamic state in Tadzhikistan. (CMD/NCA)
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