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No. 72, 15 April 1991
BALTIC STATES BALTIC COUNCIL ADOPTS RESOLUTION ON ICELANDIC PROPOSAL. On April 13 the Council of the Baltic States met in Jurmala, Latvia. It adopted a resolution accepting "with sincere gratitude" the proposal of the Republic of Iceland to act as a mediator in organizing and conducting negotiations between the USSR and the Baltic states. The text of the resolution, as released by the Lithuanian parliament Bureau of Information April 13, noted that the Iceland initiative "can play a positive role in re-establishing recognition by the USSR of the independent statehood of the Republic of Estonia, the Republic of Latvia, and the Republic of Lithuania." (Saulius Girnius) BALTIC COUNCIL ON SOVIET RESOLUTION ON REFERENDUM. The Council also issued a statement on the resolution of the USSR Supreme Soviet of March 21 "On the Results of the USSR Referendum of March 17." It declared that since the Baltic states "do not constitute a part of the USSR," the USSR referendum "has no legal effect upon the Baltic states and can in no way justify the use of pressure or force against Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania by the USSR authorities." (Saulius Girnius) ESTONIAN POPULAR FRONT MEETS. The Popular Front of Estonia has decided not to become a formal political party, but to remain a mass movement, TASS reported April 15. The Popular Front also adopted a detailed resolution--including winning control over Estonia's territory and economy, garnering the support of Western states, and working more intensively with the other Baltic states--on the means to reach independence. Some 700 Popular Front delegates met over the weekend for the movement's Third Congress. (Riina Kionka) LITHUANIAN SOCIAL DEMOCRAT LEADER RESIGNS. The Chairman of the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party, Kazimieras Antanavicius, has decided to resign because he is too busy with his duties in the Lithuanian parliament, Radio Vilnius reported on April 14. Antanavicius, the chairman of the Lithuanian Supreme Council's Economic Commission, said that under conditions of democracy there must be a rotation of power. (Saulius Girnius) LATVIAN CP LEADER CALLS FOR PRESIDENTIAL RULE. In an interview with Pravda April 12, First Secretary of the pro-Moscow Latvian Communist Party Alfreds Rubiks appealed for immediate installation of presidential rule in Latvia, TASS reported that day. Rubiks said that this was the only way to prevent what he termed an impending coup and bloodshed in Latvia. He said that the Latvian Communist Party was ready to negotiate with centrists in the Popular Front of Latvia and to engage in a dialogue with radicals. (Saulius Girnius) USSR--ALL-UNION TOPICS CONTROL CHAMBER PROPOSED. On April 12, the USSR Supreme Soviet approved on first reading a law establishing a Control Chamber of the USSR; a second reading is scheduled for April 19, TASS reported April 12. According to Viktor Kucherenko, chairman of the USSR Supreme Soviet Commission on Budget and Finance, the chamber would be subordinate to the USSR Supreme Soviet. It would be "the highest body of financial and economic control in the country," and would monitor the work of the USSR Ministry of Finance as well as investment activity, the gold and diamond reserves, and the work of the customs bodies. (Keith Bush) PRESIDENTIAL DECREE ON INDUSTRIAL SUPPLIES. With the declared aim of "preventing chaos and mass unemployment," USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev issued a decree on April 12 granting special powers to the newly-created USSR Ministry of Material Resources, TASS reported that day. The ministry was empowered to order new deliveries and redistribute surplus production. The decree exhorted enterprises to preserve all contracts and economic ties concluded for 1991. To combat growing separatism, the decree also gave republican and local authorities one week to revoke decisions halting the export of goods to other regions and republics. The text did not spell out means of enforcement or penalties for noncompliance. (Keith Bush) PROGRESS OF 'ANTI-CRISIS PROGRAM.' The text of the USSR Cabinet of Ministers' draft "Action Program for Leading the Economy out of Crisis" was distributed to USSR Supreme Soviet members on April 12, The Times of London reported April 13. Whether this text differed from the initial document that was released by TASS on April 9 and then subsequently annulled was not specified. On April 12, the USSR Supreme Soviet decided that its committees and commissions would begin considering the program this week; it will also be debated at the forthcoming CPSU Central Committee plenum. The Council of the Federation is also expected to reconsider the revised draft sometime this week. (Keith Bush) CENTRAL COMMITTEE TO HOLD PLENARY SESSION. TASS announced April 14 that the CPSU Central Committee will hold a plenum on April 24 to discuss the Soviet Union's political and economic situation. The decision was reached at a meeting of the Secretariat held on April 14 and chaired by Gorbachev. The Secretariat, TASS reported, discussed in-depth the political situation; no details were provided. A number of Communists, including members of the "Soyuz" faction and Leningrad party chief Boris Gidaspov, have called recently for a plenum. On April 13, Belorussian Communist Party chief Anatolii Malofeev told a plenum of the republican CP that the CPSU Central Committee had to address the countrie's urgent problems. (Dawn Mann) CENTRIST BLOC BRAIN TRUST DRAWS UP STRATEGIC PLAN. The brain trust of the Centrist Bloc, known as the Experimental Creative Center (ECC) and headed by politologist Sergei Kurginyan, has prepared a new strategic political plan for Gorbachev, according to Komsomol'skaya Pravda, April 4 and 10. The plan advocates disengagement from the "leftist opposition," a propanganda campaign against "politicized criminality," the creation of a bloc of centrist forces to be headed by the USSR President, and tough measures against political opponents. According to the newspaper, several top Army, MVD and KGB officers from the active reserve were named to the staff of the ECC by a decree signed by USSR Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov. (Victor Yasmann) MORE ON THE ECC. Soviet political developments have coincided so closely with scenarios prepared by the ECC for the Kremlin leadership--copies of which Komsomol'skaya pravda possesses--that the corporation must be taken seriously, the newspaper reported. According an official document re-printed by Nezavisimaya gazeta February 19, the ECC has business premises in the center of Moscow at its disposal, receives funding from the central budget, has access to hard currency, and enjoys preferential status for foreign travel. The decree authorizing these measures was addressed to the central economic organs, the USSR Ministry of Foreign USSR Ministry of Defense, the MVD and the KGB and was signed by Pavlov. (Victor Yasmann) GORBACHEV'S JAPAN SCHEDULE. During his trip to Japan this week, Gorbachev will meet with Japanese University professors, organizers and participants in a children's summit in Tokyo, members of Japanese former POW organizations, and Japanese government officials. He will hold multiple rounds of talks with Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu. According to an April 12 TASS interview with Aleksandr Panov, Chief of the Soviet Foreign Ministry's Directorate for Pacific and Southeast Asian countries, Gorbachev's trip to Japan should be "truly historic." (Suzanne Crow) THREE NEW DEPUTY KGB CHAIRMEN IDENTIFIED. The former Commander of KGB Eastern Border District, Jokubas Petrovas, was identified in Sovetskaya Rossiya March 30 as a deputy chairman of the KGB. On March 2, Valerii Lebedev was identified as a deputy chairman of the KGB when he presented a draft law on the KGB to the USSR Supreme Soviet. According to Kazakhstanskaya Pravda January 11, another new deputy chairman, A. A. Denisov, inspected the Kazakhstan KGB. (Victor Yasmann) TRET'YAK ON PVO. The Commander-in-Chief of the beleaguered Soviet Air Defense Forces (PVO), interviewed on Soviet PVO day, assured audiences on April 14 that his troops are capable of detecting any aircraft that violates Soviet airspace. Army General Ivan Tret'yak, who had commanded the Warsaw Pact air defense system, said that the break-up of the Pact had complicated Soviet air defense tasks. He claimed, however, that bi-lateral negotiations with former Pact members were being pursued in this area, and pointed to a May meeting with Rumanian representatives. Tret'yak praised the allied air war in the Gulf, but complained that "Patriot" rockets were also anti-missile weapons. (Stephen Foye) KRAVCHENKO EXPELLED FROM JOURNALISTS' UNION. The chairman of the All-Union State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company, Leonid Kravchenko, was expelled on April 12 from the USSR Journalists' Union, Radio Rossii reported. The decision was taken by the Moscow branch of the Union, which charged Kravchenko with reintroducing political censorship on Soviet Central TV. Kravchenko was elected a USSR people's deputy in 1989 by the Journalists' Union, and in its comment on the expulsion, Radio Rossii wondered whom Kravchenko would be representing from now on in the USSR Supreme Soviet. (Vera Tolz) POLITBURO COMMISSION REPORTS ON PROGRESS OF REHABILITATIONS. A member of the CPSU CC Politburo Commission on rehabilitation of Stalin's victims, Nikolai Katkov, told Pravda April 13 that in the past three years 17,000 members of the Communist Party have been rehabilitated in the Russian Federation. Katkov said that, according to the commission's statistics, of the 1,372,292 people who were subjected to various forms of repression in 1937-1938, 116,885 (i.e. about one-tenth) were members of the Party. These figures indicate that it is inaccurate to regard the repressions of the late 1930's, which marked the peak of Stalin's terror, as a purge solely of Party members. (Vera Tolz) GORBACHEV ISSUES DECREE ON LIBRARIES. On April 13, President Gorbachev issued a decree outlining immediate measures for improving the situation of libraries in the country. The decree instructs the USSR Cabinet of Ministers and the republican governments to fullfil already approved plans on restructuring and strengthening the resources of the largest libraries. It also directs the all-Union government and the USSR Academy of Sciences to establish a program that would ensure the safekeeping of books and manuscripts. The decree also makes provisions for acquiring library equipment from abroad, "Vremya" reported April 13. (NCA/Vera Tolz) POPE CREATES NEW ADMINISTRATIVE UNITS IN USSR. Pope John Paul II on Saturday created the archdiocese of Minsk-Mohilev and the diocese of Grodno in Belorussia, apostolic administrations in Moscow and Novosibirsk, and, in Kazakhstan, the apostolic administration of Karaganda, RFE/RL's Rome correspondent reported April 13. According to a Vatican statement, these steps are aimed at providing Latin-rite churches in these republics with the necessary structures and officials "to favor their development of their faith and religious practices." There are some 1.5 million Catholics in Belorussia, more than 60,000 in the RSFSR, and half a million in Kazakhstan. The changes follow post-war borders, a condition insisted upon by Kremlin officials. Bishop-rank churchmen, all currently serving in the Soviet Union, were named to head the new units. (NCA) USSR--IN THE REPUBLICS GAMSAKHURDIA ELECTED PRESIDENT. On April 14, the Georgian Supreme Soviet amended the republic's constitution to create the post of president, to which its chairman, Zviad Gamsakhurdia, was then unanimously elected, AFP and Reuters reported April 14. Following his election victory last October, Gamsakhurdia stated that there would be no post of president until Georgia became an independent sovereign state. The declaration of independence passed by the Georgian parliament on April 9 did not, however, encompass the secession of Georgia from the USSR. (Liz Fuller) GEORGIAN PRESIDENT GIVEN EXTENSIVE POWERS. The Georgian president is elected for a period of five years. He is empowered to nominate the prime minister and government, to declare war or a partial mobilization of the police or national guard, to declare martial law and presidential rule, to veto any law adopted by parliament within two weeks, to sign treaties, to nominate ambassadors, and to grant or revoke Georgian citizenship. He has legal immunity and can be impeached by parliament only for treason, which requires a vote by 75% of the deputies. Only ethnic Georgians between the ages of 35 and 70 who have lived in Georgia for five years are eligible for the post of president. (Liz Fuller) ELECTION OF GEORGIAN PRESIDENT SET FOR MAY 26. Direct presidential elections will be held in Georgia on May 26, the anniversary of the 1918 declaration of Georgian independence. AP April 14 quotes Gamsakhurdia as stating that "if in the future the population of the republic elects me to this post I will try to justify [its] confidence." (Liz Fuller) GEORGIAN FOREIGN MINISTER URGES WEST TO RECOGNIZE GEORGIAN INDEPENDENCE. Georgian Foreign Minister Giorgi Khoshtaria, in Paris on a working visit, told AFP April 13 that it is in the interests of the West to recognize Georgian independence, as the Soviet Union "is bound to collapse," and affirmed that Georgia could survive economically as an independent state. Khoshtaria stated that the Georgian parliament's April 9 declaration of independence was prompted by Moscow's "aggressive policy" in the disputed area of South Ossetia. (Liz Fuller) HEIR TO GEORGIAN THRONE "READY TO RETURN". Giorgi Bagrationi, the 47-year old ex-racing driver and descendant of the last King of Georgia, is considering accepting an invitation to leave his Marbella domicile to visit Georgia at Gamsakhurdia's invitation, according to The Times and the Sueddeutsche Zeitung April 13. The second-strongest party in Gamsakhurdia's Round Table/Free Georgia coalition is the Union of Georgian Traditionalists, headed by the vice-chairman of the Georgian Supreme Soviet, Akaki Asatiani, which advocates a constitutional monarchy once Georgia achieves independence. (Liz Fuller) GROMOV VISITS SOUTH OSSETIA. TASS April 13 quoted Boris Gromov, first deputy minister of USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs, as telling journalists in the North Ossetian capital of Vladikavkaz after a visit to South Ossetia that MVD troops in the region "have begun disarming unlawful Georgian and Ossetian groups," and that Georgian claims that MVD troops are committing illegal actions in South Ossetia are untrue. TASS reported April 14 that 100 Georgians and Ossetians had been arrested over the past 24 hours and quantities of ammunition and two APCS confiscated; the situation was said to have "normalized somewhat" over the previous 24 hours. (Liz Fuller) STATE OF EMERGENCY IN TSKHINVALI EXTENDED. On April 13 the Presidium of the Georgian Supreme Soviet extended for a another month the state of emergency first imposed on the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali in December, TASS reported. Radio Tbilisi subsequently reported renewed clashes in the town but gave no details. (Liz Fuller) ARMENIA APPEALS TO GEORGIA OVER RAIL TRAFFIC. As predicted (see Daily Report, April 12), Armenia is feeling the effects of the Georgian decision to halt rail transport to and from the republic in order to pressure Gorbachev to withdraw Soviet troops from South Ossetia. The Presidium of the Armenian Supreme Soviet has appealed to the Georgian leadership to allow Armenia-bound trains to pass through Georgian territory "as a gesture of goodwill" since Azerbaijan has renewed its blockade of Armenia, Radio Erevan reported April 13. (Liz Fuller) CALL FOR CITY-WIDE STRIKE IN KIEV. The Kiev Strike Committee has issued a call to work collectives for a city-wide strike in the Ukrainian capital, Radio Kiev reported April 12. In addition to the demands put forth by Ukrainian miners, the Committee is also demanding dissolution of the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet, release of those arrested in connection with the case of Ukrainian people's deputy Stepan Khmara, dropping of the case against Khmara, and initiation of proceedings against the Ukrainian public prosecutor, Mykhailo Potoben'ko. Unofficial sources, Radio Kiev reported, claim that Ukrainian Communists intend to lead the strike in order to demand changes in the leadership of the all-Union and republican Communist Parties. (Roman Solchanyk) UKRAINIAN COMMUNISTS DEMAND ACTION. A republican meeting of first secretaries of city and raion Communist Party committees in Ukraine has issued a call to the Central Committee of the Communist Party to take decisive action in the face of the dangerous developments in the country, Radio Kiev and Radio Moscow reported on April 14. The appeal criticizes Gorbachev for not using his extraordinary powers in defense of state system, the rights and freedoms of citizens, and the state integrity of the Soviet Union. (Roman Solchanyk) UKRAINIAN REPUBLICAN PARTY ISSUES STRIKE CALL. The Secretariat of the Ukrainian Republican Party, one of the largest and most radical political parties in the republic, has issued an appeal in which it calls for a strike to begin tomorrow in support of Ukrainian miners, Radio Kiev reported on April 14. Among the political demands are the dissolution of the republican and all-Union Supreme Soviets, elimination of the office of president of the USSR, and new elections on a multi-party basis. (Roman Solchanyk) ALL-BELORUSSIA STRIKE COMMITTEE IS FORMED. On April 13, workers' representatives from numerous Belorussian cities met in Minsk to vote on the formation of an All-Belorussia Strike Committee. They elected Mikhal Sobal of Minsk to head the new entity. Meanwhile, talks continued between the republican government, Supreme Soviet, and the Minsk Strike Committee. The latter said Saturday that it has given the republican Supreme Soviet until today, April 15, to respond to its demand for new parliamentary elections. It also wants parliament to hold an emergency session on April 16 to discuss strikers' demands, but, said TASS, Supreme Soviet deputy chairman Stanislav Shushkevich told the Committee that the timing is unrealistic. (Belorussian BD/Kathy Mihalisko) BELORUSSIAN CP CONVENES PLENUM. Also on April 13, Belorussian Party leader Anatolii Malofeev presented his evaluation of last week's events in Minsk to a plenum of the Central Committee of the Belorussian CP. As relayed by TASS, Malofeev stressed the need for a special CPSU plenum to discuss measures to pull the country out of its current crisis. The Belorussian Communists, apparently reacting to an ongoing attempt at the Minsk Tractor Factory to evict its primary Party organization, condemned the "depoliticization" of institutions as a constitutional and human rights violation. They also praised enterprises that did not take part in last week's strikes. (Kathy Mihalisko) LIBERAL DEMOCRATS PROPOSE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. The Liberal Democratic Party of the USSR, a fringe organization believed to have close ties with the KGB, proposed its leader, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, as a candidate for the upcoming presidential elections in the Russian Federation, TASS reported April 14. On April 11, the Liberal Democratic Party became the second national party (after the CPSU) to be officially registered by the Soviet government under the new law on public associations. TASS emphasized that this registration now gives Zhirinovsky the right to legally participate in the RSFSR presidential elections. (Vera Tolz) MOLDAVIA AGAIN RESTRICTS MILITARY CONSCRIPTION. This year, the USSR military draft will be conducted in Moldavia only in accordance with republican law, Colonel Nicolae Chirtoaca, head of Moldavia's State Department for Military Affairs, told Moldovapres April 13. According to Chirtoaca, USSR conscription law "has no legal force in Moldavia," and refusal to serve shall not be punishable. All draftees will be given the option to serve on the territory of the republic, "without augmenting Soviet troop levels here." 3,000 men will be drafted this year into Moldavia's newly-established corps of Carabinieri. Service outside the republic will be permitted only on the basis of individual application plus written parental approval. (Vladimir Socor) MOLDAVIAN RUNAWAY DRAFTEES PROTECTED. Pending a republican law on alternative service, the Moldavian government has instructed the State Department for Military Affairs and local soviets to provide "socially useful employment" for runaway conscripts, TASS reported April 11. Complaining that the measure further "complicates" the situation, the Deputy Military Commissar for Moldavia told TASS that 550 Moldavian conscripts were listed as deserters as of that date and that in one instance, 60 had deserted together from one unit. (Vladimir Socor) MOLDAVIYA DEMOCRATICHESKAYA HOLDS FOUNDING CONFERENCE. Moldaviya democraticheskaya ("Democratic Moldavia"), an organization of Russians and other Russian-speaking residents "who consider Moldavia their homeland," held its founding conference in Kishinev April 13, Moldovapres reported that day. The manifesto urged joint efforts by all ethnic groups to ensure "democratic transformations, the national rebirth of the Romanians, free development of all national groups, ...real sovereignty for Moldavia, and national reconciliation through the observance of both human and national rights." (Vladimir Socor) MOLDAVIAN-ROMANIAN AGREEMENT ON TOURISM. The heads of the Departments of Tourism of Moldavia and Romania signed April 12 in Bucharest the first-ever agreement on tourism between the two states, Moldovapres and Rompres reported that day. The agreement centers on facilitating group tours of historic and cultural sites and two-way tourism by students and children. (Vladimir Socor) RELIGIOUS HOLIDAY GRANTED OFFICIAL RECOGNITION IN UZBEKISTAN. RFE/RL has learned that Uzbek president Islam Karimov has issued a decree permitting working people to take off work on the first day of the festival which ends the Ramadan fast. The decree requires that those who do take the day off must make up the lost time later. This is the first purely religious holiday to be granted recognition as a traditional national festival in Uzbekistan. In Tajikistan, in contrast, the Ramadan holiday and the Feast of Sacrifice have been declared official public holidays. (Uzbek BD/Bess Brown) ISLAMIC PARTY OFFICIAL SEEKS COOPERATION WITH MUSLIM ESTABLISHMENT. According to Tashkent journalist Tahir Usman, the second issue of the Islamic Renaissance Party's publication Davat contains a plea by the party's chairman, Abdulla Ota, for cooperation between his party and the Muslim Religious Board for Central Asia, because his party and the Muslim establishment have similar goals and should cooperate rather than oppose each other. Officials of the Board have condemned the party, which has effectively been outlawed in Uzbekistan by the passage of a law prohibiting religious parties. (Uzbek BD/Bess Brown) REHABILITATION OF TAMERLANE PROCEEDS. Tashkent journalist Tahir Usman also reported that the April 5 issue of Khalq sozi, the newspaper of Uzbekistan's Supreme Soviet, announces that a statue of Samarkand's medieval ruler Timur (Tamerlane) is to be erected in one of the main squares of that city. And the Tashkent daily Tashkent haqiqati reports in its April 10 issue that a drama in verse about Timur by poet Tora Mirza is being widely performed in theaters in Kashkadarya Oblast. These events indicate a major change in the official view of the Central Asian conqueror, about whom Soviet historiography traditionally had little good to say. (Uzbek BD/Bess Brown)
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