|If we are to live together in peace, we must first come to know each other better. - Lyndon B. Johnson|
No. 73, 16 April 1991
BALTIC STATES ESTONIAN-USSR TALKS MOVE ALONG. The April 15 meeting between Estonian and Soviet negotiating teams was productive, according to an RFE/RL interview with the Estonian Supreme Council press office that day. The two sides reportedly settled on a series of expert meetings to discuss political, economic and social relations, and decided that the full delegations would meet at least once each month. The next meeting was not scheduled, but will take place when the expert groups have drafted documents outlining talking points. (Riina Kionka) SURF'S UP IN PARNU. City officials in Estonia's seaside resort town of Parnu report that the water is now clean enough for swimming, according to Paevaleht on April 14. The shore at Parnu, famous for its white sand beaches, has been closed for several years because of severe pollution of the Baltic Sea. But Parnu's Deputy Mayor Heldur Sass told Paevaleht that the city expects a record tourist season this year, thanks to a combination of water treatment equipment and weather conditions that allowed the sea to cleanse itself. Sass did not say whether the water treatment equipment was new or had been in disrepair. (Riina Kionka) LITHUANIAN VISITS TO GERMANY AND CANADA. Radio Kaunas on April 16 reported that a delegation of Lithuanian parliamentarians had departed for Bonn to improve ties with the German Bundestag. The delegation is headed by Lithuanian Supreme Council Deputy Chairman Bronius Kuzmickas and includes Lithuanian Democratic Party Chairman Saulius Peceliunas and Lithuanian Social Democrats Emanuelis Zingeris and Kazimieras Antanavicius. Radio Kaunas reported on April 15 that Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius would begin a week long visit to Canada on April 16. He will meet with Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and other government officials on April 17, with Ontario officials in Toronto on April 18, and then travel to five other Canadian cities. (Saulius Girnius) BALTIC PARLIAMENTARIANS IN SWEDEN. At the invitation of the Nordic Council, parliamentarians from Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia visited Sweden for a two-day meeting preparing for the conference of the International Parliamentary Union that will be held later this month in Sweden, Radio Kaunas reported on April 16. The Lithuanian delegation consisted of deputies Gediminas Serksnys, Vidmantas Povilionis, and Albinas Januska. Serksnys said that the Balts were informed about the activities of the International Parliamentary Union. The union's regulations provide for new membership only after eight member countries present a written request recommending the admission of new states. It is unclear whether the Baltic States can obtain the necessary recommendations this month, but their admission would be another indication of international recognition of their parliaments' legitimacy. (Saulius Girnius) USSR - ALL-UNION TOPICS GORBACHEV IN KHABAROVSK. USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev addressed a meeting of regional soviet, economic, industrial, and public leaders in Khabarovsk on Monday, TASS reported April 15. Gorbachev told his audience that politicians at all levels must put aside personal ambition and think solely about saving the country. No one person can solve the problems facing the Soviet Union, he said, nor can strikes or meetings. Gorbachev stressed that time is running out: soon the people, faced with high prices, empty shelves, and falling incomes, will decide things "by well-known means...not the best, but the most dangerous, which we simply should not permit." In response to a question, Gorbachev stressed the importance of the Russian Federation within the Soviet Union and appealed to RSFSR Supreme Soviet chairman Boris Yeltsin and other RSFSR leaders to "begin constructive cooperation and joint action" with the central government. (Dawn Mann) GORBACHEV AND KAIFU START TALKS. Following an imperial greeting and reviewing guard, Gorbachev and Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu started their first of an expected three rounds of talks on April 16. According to Japanese news reports cited by Reuter April 16, a proposed text to be issued at the end of Gorbachev's visit will include the Soviet Union's official acknowledgement that a territorial dispute exists between Japan and the USSR. Gorbachev, speaking in Khabarovsk on the eve of his Japan visit, tried to dampen hopes on a Kurile islands deal saying, "We are not going to use territory or policy as an instrument to make deals." (Suzanne Crow) BOVIN ON ISLANDS. Izvestia commentator Aleksandr Bovin wrote in an article appearing April 15 that the Soviet Union should return Habomoi and Shikotan to Japan after Japan agreed to sign a peace treaty ending World War II. Bovin said that the two pair larger islands to the north could be returned at a much later date and only after the removal of foreign bases from Japanese soil, the creation of an effective security system in Asia, and a deepening of international detente. AFP summarized Bovin's commentary April 16. (Suzanne Crow) ADMIRAL REASSURES JAPAN. The Commander of the Soviet Pacific Fleet told TASS on April 15 that Japanese concerns over a strengthening of Soviet naval forces in the Pacific are unfounded. Admiral Gennadii Khvatov, who in the past has expressed hard-line opposition to the "new political thinking," said Soviet actions in the Pacific reflect Moscow's defensive military doctrine. Khvatov pointed to what he claimed were reductions in the number, scope, and orientation of naval exercises, the positioning of nuclear submarines in Soviet coastal zones, and a reduced naval presence in the Indian Ocean. (Stephen Foye) GORBACHEV TO APOLOGIZE FOR KAL? The South Korean news agency Yonhap reported April 16 that Gorbachev plans to make an official apology for the KAL flight shootdown at a press conference following talks with South Korean President Roh Tae-Woo on April 19. AFP cites Yonhap as reporting that Gorbachev will also apologize for the Soviet Union's support of North Korea in the Korean War. Late last year, then Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze expressed his regret at the loss of life owing to the KAL shootdown, although he did not officially apologize. (Suzanne Crow) EC TALKS ENERGY WITH USSR. EC Foreign Ministers agreed on April 15 to open talks with the Soviet Union on a pact extending energy cooperation across Europe. Formal talks will begin in the Netherlands starting in July, Reuter reported April 15. (Suzanne Crow) SHLYAGA DEFENDS ARMY'S DOMESTIC OPERATIONS. The Soviet Army's top political officer on April 15 defended operations by army units in Nagorno-Karabakh, Tbilisi, Baku, Vilnius, and South Ossetia against accusations that they violated the constitution, TASS reported. Colonel General Nikolai Shlyaga, identified as a First Deputy Minister of Defense, said that army units had not exceeded the powers granted them by the constitution, and that the armed forces would not stand by as elderly people, women, and children were being killed. (Stephen Foye) EMIGRATION BILL STALLED BY CONSERVATIVES. Nikolai Neiland, a member of the USSR Supreme Soviet Foreign Affairs Committee, told Reuters on April 15 that the long-promised law on emigration and freedom of travel has been sidelined indefinitely by the Soyuz faction and other deputies who are worried about a possible "brain drain" and the departure of "millions" of Soviet citizens if the law is enacted. Fyodor Burlatsky, a member of the committee that drafted the bill, said last week that it has been approved by the Soviet government but is stalled in the Budget Committee. Officials assert that it could cost 10-20 billion rubles to print the new passports and customs forms required to implement the law. (Dawn Mann) RAILWAYS LAW. A joint session of the USSR Supreme Soviet on April 15 adopted a law on its second reading that proclaims all railways in the USSR to be all-Union property, TASS reported that day. (Some railways were hitherto under republican administration). The law forbids any deliberate attempts to block or impede rail traffic. As the transport walkouts in Georgia have shown, widespread rail strikes can rapidly and completely paralyze the rest of the economy. (Keith Bush) PAVLOV'S LANCASTER HOUSE ADDRESS. After the ceremonial opening of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London, Soviet Prime Minister Pavlov was one of the speakers to address the meeting of heads of state and governments. Most of his remarks, as reported by TASS April 15, were predictable. He referred to dealings on the external markets by "insufficiently competent organs" that had led to "complications in dealing with foreign firms" (read: "commercial debt arrears"). And he put in a plug for linking the proposed European Power Engineering Community with a program for solving the USSR's food problem. (Keith Bush) AFTERMATH OF RETAIL PRICE INCREASES. On April 15, Pravda confirmed what most shoppers have found for themselves, namely that the retail price increases of April 2 have not brought significant changes in supplies. There is still no flour in most stores; there are long queues for bread in Central Asia and the Caucasus; and the volume of meat sales has dropped. Meanwhile, the General Federation of Soviet Trade Unions asserts that the Soviet people have been deceived by price reforms and demands that workers be given immediate pay increases of 70-100 percent and that the minimum wage be raised, Trud reported April 12. (Keith Bush) USSR - IN THE REPUBLICS EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT WILL NOT DEAL INDEPENDENTLY WITH RSFSR. The president of the European Parliament, Enrique Baron, told Yeltsin on Monday that the EP would deal directly only with the USSR Supreme Soviet, while Catherine Lalumiere, secretary-general of the Council of Europe, informed Yeltsin that RSFSR affiliation with one of the institution's sub-units dealing with regional officials was possible, but that full membership in the Council was not, RFE/RL's correspondent reported April 15. Yeltsin had not formally requested membership for the Russian Federation. Yeltsin is in France on a private visit at the invitation of the International Politics Forum, a Paris-based think tank. (NCA/Dawn Mann) YELTSIN MEETS EP SOCIALISTS. Yeltsin met with European Parliament Socialists, who comprise the largest group in the EP, on Monday. The group's chairman introduced Yeltsin as a "provocateur" and said many consider him an "irresponsible demagogue." Yeltsin faced a barrage of angry questions about "Great Russian nationalism" and his relations with Gorbachev but he refused to be provoked. Yeltsin denied that there was any "personal animosity" between himself and Gorbachev and said he was willing to work with him to defeat the conservatives. Yeltsin also said that the USSR is not disintegrating: "It's not the Union falling apart," he said, but the "evil totalitarian system of central power" that is collapsing. At the meeting's end, one member said, "Many of us don't like [Yeltsin's] politics, but most of us now like his personality." (NCA/Dawn Mann) MINERS HEED YELTSIN'S PLEA. Miners in Vorkuta, responding to a telegram from Yeltsin and RSFSR Prime Minister Ivan Silaev, have agreed to ship 20,000 tons of coking coal a day by rail to the Cherepovets Metallurgical Combine, The Journal of Commerce reported April 16. This concession by the miners should help to reduce tensions between the miners and railway workers, whose wages have fallen since coal shipments have stopped. TASS reported Monday that more miners are on strike in the Kuzbass, with nearly 65% of the pits idle. (Dawn Mann) FAMOUS CATHEDRAL IN UFA RETURNED TO THE ORTHODOX CHURCH. TASS on April 14 reported that, for the first time in 50 years, a church service took place in one of the most significant churches of Russian Orthodoxy - the Kazan Cathedral of the Mother of God in Ufa, Bashkiria. This church became famous because of the miracle-working icon of the Mother of God. TASS noted that since perestroika began, 10 churches have been returned to the Russian Orthodox Church. (Oxana Antic) NEGOTIATIONS IN MINSK. The Belorussian Strike Committee yesterday formally presented its economic and political demands to the republican government and Supreme Soviet. A report April 15 to RFE-RL said that the government wanted to include the Communist-run trade unions in the negotiations, but the proposal was sharply contested by the workers' representatives. Last week, Supreme Soviet chairman Mykolai Dzyamentei, Prime Minister Vyacheslau Kebich, and trade unions chairman Uladzimir Honcharik signed a document instructing law enforcement agencies to collect information to help prevent further destabilization of the situation in Belorussia. The strike committee feels the document is proof of ill will. (Belorussian BD/Kathy Mihalisko) BELORUSSIAN CP: BLAME RUSSIA'S RADICALS. Speaking on the attitude of Belorussian Party leaders toward the strike committees' political demands, an RFE-RL correspondent in Minsk yesterday (April 15) noted that on April 9, one day before the mass general strike in the capital, first secretary Anatolii Malofeev went on republican television to say that Belorussians should be demanding the resignations of the radical city council chairmen of Moscow and Leningrad (Popov and Sobchak) rather than the resignations of Belorussia's CP and state leaders--the implication being that Minsk would also be brought to wrack and ruin if such people came into power in Belorussia. (Kathy Mihalisko) PAZNYAK SAYS INDEPENDENCE IS NECESSARY. Belorussian Popular Front leader Zyanon Paznyak, on an extended visit to North America, told a Washington press conference April 12 that independence is a necessity for the Soviet republics because the government of the USSR no longer has an effective plan to resolve the economic crisis. He added that "the Soviet Union as a state structure has fully expended its resources, its ideas, and its possibilities." (NCA/Kathy Mihalisko) UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT, INDEPENDENT TRADE UNIONS ISSUE APPEAL. The government of Ukraine and the Council of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Ukraine issued an appeal to the working people of Kiev, Radio Kiev and Ukrinform-TASS reported April 15. The government and the trade unions ask that wisdom, common sense, and restraint prevail during the current economic and social crisis and urge that workers refrain from further actions that could complicate the already difficult situation. The appeal was prompted by calls for strikes and meetings in some labor collectives. (Roman Solchanyk) DONETSK RALLY IN SUPPORT OF MINERS. More than 20,000 people are reported to have rallied in Donetsk yesterday in support of the demands of striking Ukrainian miners, AP reported April 16. Radio Moscow reported on April 15 that the Donetsk Strike Committee is now placing political demands, including the resignation of Mikhail Gorbachev and genuine sovereignty for the republics, in the forefront of its demands. (Roman Solchanyk) UKRAINIAN CP PLENUM CRITICAL OF MOSCOW. A plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine held yesterday heard criticism of the central government and the CPSU leadership for passivity and inconsistency in the face of mounting problems in the country, Radio Kiev and Ukrinform-TASS reported April 15. A report in the Los Angeles Times on April 16 quotes Ukrainian Party leader Stanislav Hurenko as saying that speakers at the Ukrainian plenum questioned Gorbachev's leadership of the Party and some had called for his replacement. (Roman Solchanyk) MOLDAVIAN POPULAR FRONT LEADER OPPOSES ROMANIAN "NEOCOMMUNISM." Attending a major conference of Romanian opposition groups in Bucharest April 12-14, Moldavian Popular Front Chairman Iurie Rosca told RFE in an interview aired April 15 that the Front supported the Romanian opposition against the "neo-communist government" of Ion Iliescu. Moreover, the Front will "put its shoulder to the wheel of democratization" in Romania. That would be no "interference" since Romania "is our country too." Observing that democracy had made considerably greater progress in Moldavia compared to Romania, Rosca said that only a "genuinely democratic" Romania could become attractive to Moldavians. (Vladimir Socor). MOLDAVIAN-POLISH TALKS. Poland's Consul General in Kiev, Ryszard Polkowski, was received by Moldavian President Mircea Snegur, Prime Minister Mircea Druc, Supreme Soviet chairman Alexandru Mosanu, and Foreign Minister Nicolae Tiu in Kishinev April 12 and 13, Moldovapres and PAP reported April 13. Noting their recent similar talks with Czechoslovak, Hungarian, and Bulgarian diplomats, the hosts said that Moldavia was particularly interested in developing direct relations with the East European states. It was agreed to begin drafting a convention on cooperation among the Polish and Moldavian Foreign Ministries and to set up a bilateral study group on economic cooperation. (Vladimir Socor) PROGRESS REPORT ON KAZAKHSTAN'S REFORMS. Rabochaya tribuna's correspondent in Alma-Ata describes, in the April 3 issue of the newspaper, the progress of Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbaev's economic reform. The correspondent notes that Kazakhstan can hardly "go it alone," but someone has to take the first step and the republic is doing so. Its recent agreements with Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine are already providing benefits. But while cooperation on the republican level seems to be paying off, the Alma-Ata city executive committee's order prohibiting export of certain goods from the city still stands. (Bess Brown) CONFERENCE OF KABARDIAN PEOPLE. A conference of the Kabardian people in Nal'chik, the capital of the Kabardino-Balkarskaya ASSR, has rejected the creation of a two-chamber parliament for the republic and expressed disagreement with resolutions adopted at the first conference of the Balkar people, Izvestia reported April 8. The Kabardian conference addressed an appeal to the ASSR Supreme Soviet to recognize the Russian-Caucasian war as "an act of genocide" and to bestow refugee status on the Kabardian people in order to facilitate the return of Kabardians abroad. (Liz Fuller) [As of 1230 CET]
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.