|Life is what happens to us while we're making other plans. - John Lennon|
No. 76, 19 April 1991
BALTIC STATES PARTY PRESSES PARLIAMENT ON PROPERTY. Estonia's independent Communist Party has sent the Supreme Council a letter saying that it opposes the Estonian government's position on Party property, according to TASS on April 17. The government started the process several months ago to reclaim assets--belonging to the independent and the Moscow-loyal parties--acquired over the years with state monies. The independent ECP says the question of Party property may only be resolved after the Supreme Council has passed laws on property reform and political parties. (Riina Kionka) COMMUNICATIONS MINISTRY CUT. Estonia's Supreme Council passed a resolution on April 17 dismantling the Ministry of Communication, Diena reported that day. As of May 1, the state-owned companies will take over postal services and telephone communications, and a reorganized Transportation and Communications Ministry will assumed control of these functions at the state level, Paevaleht added on April 17. (Riina Kionka) ESTONIA SEEKS FOREIGN INVESTMENT. Since Moscow's Baltic crackdown in January, many outside investors have curtailed or held back on projects in Estonia because of political uncertainties. But Estonian officials have recently stepped up efforts to counteract that effect, intensively courting potential investors at home and abroad. The latest such attempt is scheduled for this weekend, when Ronald Lauder--former US Ambassador to Austria and Director of Investments for the cosmetics giant Estee Lauder--will visit Estonia, ETA reported on April 18. Lauder is set to hold talks with Estonia's Chairman of the Supreme Council Arnold Ruutel and other officials, who hope that Lauder will announce investment plans. (Riina Kionka) SOVIETS TO SEND BACK LITHUANIAN POSTAGE STAMPS. DPA reported on April 18 that Soviet Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov had informed Lithuania that about 22 million Lithuanian postage stamps, printed in Leipzig, that had been seized at the Lazdijai customs post on January 9 would be shipped back to Germany. A total of 50 million stamps had been printed, some of which had already been sold to stamp collectors abroad and smuggled into Lithuania where they had been sold. In February USSR Deputy Minister of Communications Gennadii Kudryavtsev had told Lithuania that it could issue its own postage stamps to be used internally or to send letters to Latvia, Estonia, Azerbaijan, Moldavia, Georgia, and Russia. (Saulius Girnius) LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT ABOLISHES DUAL CITIZENSHIP. The Lithuanian parliament has amended its law on citizenship, Diena reported April 17. The law passed on November 3, 1989 stated that citizenship can be given to persons who lived in Lithuania before June 15, 1940 and to their children and grandchildren. Other residents will have to prove that they or their parents were born in Lithuania, or that they have a permanent job or a legal source of income. The amendment abolished the right of dual citizenship, thus requiring residents to decide whether to become Lithuanian or Soviet citizens. (Saulius Girnius) USSR ALL-UNION TOPICS USSR, JAPAN SIGN JOINT DECLARATION. Despite eleventh hour attempts to resolve their territorial dispute, the USSR and Japan were unable to reach agreement. The joint communique, issued after the third extra unscheduled round of talks, said the dispute would be "included in the drafting and conclusion of a peace treaty," Reuters reported April 18. The Soviet Union conceded to permit a reference in the communique to the 1956 joint declaration: in 1956 Moscow agreed to turn over Shikotan and the Habomai group to Japan. Moscow also pledged to lift visa requirements for Japanese visitors and reduce the military presence on the islands. (Suzanne Crow) SOVIET-JAPANESE AGREEMENTS. Fifteen agreements, memoranda, and notes came out of the summit. Topics include: Japanese technical and managerial assistance, a new trade and payments act for 1991-1995, a coastal trade pact, exhibitions and trade fairs, fisheries cooperation, increased Japanese access to Soviet airspace, Japanese assistance for the Chernobyl cleanup, an environmental conservation pact, exchanges of students and cultural exhibits, the establishment of a Japanese studies center in Moscow, and Moscow's provision of a list of Japanese prisoners of war who died in camps in Siberia, Kyodo news agency reported April 18. (Suzanne Crow) GORBACHEV SLAMS YELTSIN KURILE PLAN. Gorbachev dismissed RSFSR Supreme Soviet chairman Boris Yeltsin's twenty-year plan to return the disputed Kurile islands to Japan. Speaking to Japanese reporters on April 18, Gorbachev said the RSFSR representatives in his delegation were in full agreement with the Soviet president's negotiating position. Gorbachev added: "If you wait a few more days, he might say something completely different on [the Kuriles]," Radio Moscow broadcast on April 18. (NCA/Suzanne Crow) KOREA, A WELCOME RELIEF. After taking Japan's bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto and stopping in Nagasaki, Gorbachev will travel to the South Korean island of Cheju. Instead of departing on the evening of April 19 as planned, Gorbachev will spend the night in Cheju and depart for Moscow on the morning of April 20. Gorbachev is doubtless relieved to arrive in the ROK: Seoul's eagerness to build up good ties and business relations with Moscow, as demonstrated by the extension of an $800 million credit line to the USSR on April 17, should be a welcome contrast to Japan's tight linkage of politics and aid. (Suzanne Crow) NORTH KOREAN REACTION. North Korea has been critical of Gorbachev's decision to visit South Korea--the first visit of a Soviet leader to either of the Koreas. North Korea's official news agency offered extensive reportage of South Korean student demonstrations against Gorbachev's visit. Indicative of the Soviet Union's limited patience with North Korea, Soviet officials from the USSR Academy of Sciences said on April 15 Moscow had threatened to cut off supplies of plutonium to North Korea unless that country agreed to join international conventions guaranteeing the right to inspect nuclear facilities, Reuters reported April 15. (Suzanne Crow) USSR PLAYED "MAJOR ROLE" IN GULF. Gorbachev said in Tokyo on April 18 that "the USSR has played a major role in settling the Gulf issue" and would have a "very big" part to play in its aftermath. Gorbachev also announced that Foreign Minister Aleksandr Bessmertnykh will travel to the region soon, TASS reported April 18. (Suzanne Crow) USSR EASES OPPOSITION TO HAVENS FOR KURDS. Yurii Gremitskikh, first deputy chief of the Soviet Foreign Ministry's information service, told a news briefing on April 18 that the USSR "sincerely supports international efforts to improve conditions for [Kurdish] refugees," TASS reported that day. Although the USSR last week expressed reservations about the creation of safe havens for Kurdish refugees on Iraqi territory, Gremitskikh noted that the Soviet Union "regards this extraordinary step, first of all, as dictated by the extreme urgency of the situation." TASS said that he considers the havens "the most realistic way to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of Kurdish refugees." (Sallie Wise) RECESSION DEEPENS. During the first quarter of 1991, Soviet GNP fell by 8% and national income by 10%, according to Goskomstat First Deputy Chairman Nikolai Belov, cited by The Baltimore Sun April 19. The area sown to spring crops to date is only half of that accomplished by the same time last year. The BS article also provides a useful survey of Soviet assessments of current and projected economic performance, although few would agree with a "government economist," Vladimir Pokrovsky, who was quoted as telling a parliamentary committee that "in July, production may drop to zero." (Keith Bush) IMPACT OF MINERS' STRIKES. A deputy chairman of the USSR Goskomstat, Vladimir Tolkushkin, told Izvestia on April 16 that coal extraction in March was down by 18% over March 1990, with coking-coal output down 32%. The shortfalls in coal deliveries have particularly affected the production of ferrous metals, which was 9% lower than in March 1990. (The drop in coal production and in the metallurgy branch is expected to be even greater in April). (NCA/Keith Bush) REQUEST FOR NEW GRAIN CREDIT GUARANTEES. US Administration officials have told The Washington Post of April 19 that the Soviet Union has asked the US for $1.5 billion in new credit guarantees to purchase American grain, soybeans, or soybean meal. This will be in addition to the $1 billion in Commodity Credit Corporation credits already have December 1990 which have already been virtually used up. The necessity of grain imports is evident in view of the poor outlook for the domestic harvest. But with total financing requirements in 1991 expected to exceed $28 billion, while identified financing amounts to $17 billion, the USSR's credit rating is low and falling. (Keith Bush) PAVLOV HINTS AT AUSTERITY MEASURES. Soviet Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov told The Independent (London) of April 18 that in the face of increasing inflation "we shall be obliged to introduce an extraordinary budget for the remainder of this year. One of its chief elements will be to cut government expenditure. We shall have to act in an urgent and decisive manner." Pavlov also insisted that the recent currency reform and price hikes have indeed begun to show results (news from Moscow confirms that, but to a lesser degree than Pavlov implied), and that prices had to be revised before the leadership could proceed with a privatization program. Pavlov said that civil war in the USSR was "impossible," and that he was sure that nine of the 15 union republics would sign the new Union treaty. Pavlov appealed to the West to help the USSR maintain its course towards democratization and a market economy through investment. (John Tedstrom) "ANTI-CRISIS PLAN" SAVAGED. Leonid Abalkin, Abel Aganbegyan, Nikolai Shmelev, Nikolai Petrakov, Grigorii Yavlinsky and other reform-minded economists had a "working meeting" with Pavlov on April 18 and criticized his "anti-crisis plan," Vremya and Radio Moscow reported that evening. No details of their criticism were given, but these are very vocal gentlemen and the world will doubtless soon become acquainted with their misgivings. The plan is reportedly still under discussion by the USSR Supreme Soviet's committees and commissions. (Keith Bush) DISPUTE OVER CHERNOBYL' DEATH TOLL. Vladimir Chernousenko, scientific director in charge of the 30-km. restricted zone surrounding the Chernobyl' nuclear plant, claimed to reporters in London on April 18 that 7,000-10,000 of the 660,000 workers involved in the Chernobyl' cleanup have died since the accident, Reuters reported that day. Chernousenko's claim has been seconded by Yurii Sherbak, a Ukrainian epidemiologist and USSR People's Deputy. Both men, however, admit that their estimates include deaths from all causes, not just those traceable to radiation exposure, and neither knows what the normal death rate among the group of 660,000 should be. Chernousenko's estimate has been categorically denied by Leonid Ilyin, a vice-president of the USSR Academy of Sciences, and contradicts findings of Britain's Atomic Energy Authority. Soviet authorities have not released any statistics on deaths among the cleanup workers. (Dawn Mann) BROADCAST JOURNALISTS DEFEND KRAVCHENKO. The board of the USSR State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company protested the expulsion of Leonid Kravchenko, the company's chairman, from the USSR Journalists' Union. (The decision on the expulsion was adopted by the Moscow branch of the Union, which accused Kravchenko of reimposing censorship on Soviet TV.) On April 18, Vremya quoted the board's statement as saying "the Moscow branch acted behind the backs of the broadcast journalists." The board's move was predicted in advance by Kravchenko's critics, who pointed out that all the members of the state company's board have not been confirmed at their posts yet, and therefore are totally dependent on Kravchenko. (Vera Tolz) RYZHKOV ACCUSED OF BRIBERY. Former Chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers Nikolai Ryzhkov has been accused of corruption, according to Kommersant, No. 13. The accusation was revealed at the trial of a group of cooperators connected with the government-owned "ANT" concern, which is alleged to have enjoyed Ryzhkov's patronage. One of the accused at the trial that has lasted since October 1990, Igor' Stashkov, claimed that he had a videotape showing representatives of "ANT" passing over to Ryzhkov a closed bag which, Stashkov claimed, contained money. During the investigation, Kommersant reports, Stashkov was severely beaten with rubber truncheons. Some investigators demanded that he reveal the whereabouts of the tape immediately while the others advised him to forget about it. (Julia Wishnevsky) YAKOVLEV FAVORS YELTSIN. "I personally share the attitude of the 'Communists for Democracy' group," said senior Gorbachev adviser Aleksandr Yakovlev in an interview with the "Novosti" news agency (March 18). (Founded at the third session of the RSFSR Congress of People's Deputies earlier this month, the "Communists for Democracy" group supports the policies of RSFSR Supreme Soviet Chairman Boris Yeltsin rather then those of the conservative RSFSR CP leader Ivan Polozkov.) While expressing reservations about the performance of radical non-communist politicians, Yakovlev nonetheless supported Yeltsin's idea of forming a government of national unity in the USSR, to include members of the opposition "democratic" movement, along with representatives of the striking miners. (Julia Wishnevsky) MORE DATA ON PARTY EXPENDITURES REVEALED. Nikolai Kruchina, the CPSU's Administrator of Affairs, told Argumenty i fakty No. 12 that the Party spent 25.4 million convertible rubles in 1990, of which some 1 million went to finance the journal Problems of Peace and Socialism. Another 500,000 in convertible rubles was spent on hosting foreign delegations and some 220,000 were spent to send Party delegations abroad. Kruchina also said that the Party spent over 3 million rubles maintaining ties with "fraternal parties." (Dawn Mann) MILITARY OFFICER CRITICIZES KGB POWER WITHIN ARMY. The officers of KGB military counterintelligence enjoy unrestricted power in the Soviet Army; they can put anyone in his place and ruin the career of any officer, Lieutenant Colonel Vladimir Volkov told the TV program Radar on April 14. In 1982 Volkov was arrested, accused of anti-Soviet propaganda and sentenced to five years after KGB military counterintelligence officials seized his private diary and letters. Volkov said that the state security organs still are virtual masters in every military unit, and that this situation will be continue until the Army has the right to defend its officers. (Victor Yasmann) OFFICERS INTERVIEWED. Following up on a series of interviews with officers in Belorussia (see Daily Report, February 28), Izvestia of April 4 examined the political views of a number of officers at the Frunze Military Academy. Officers in this group were divided on major issues (unlike those in Belorussia, who were uniformly hard-line), including the use of army units domestically and their willingness to fire on civilians if given the order. A Lieutenant Colonel claimed that most officers supported Yeltsin and wanted the Communist Party removed from army life. The officers were apparently most concerned over the erosion of their prestige among civilians. (Stephen Foye) ARMY DEFENDED AGAINST "DEMOCRATS." Pravda of March 29 carries a commentary accusing Soviet "democrats" of waging a coordinated propaganda campaign against the armed forces. The piece opens with an expression of satisfaction over recent court decisions--concerning claims of libel--that favored Generals Boris Gromov and Albert Makashov, and Admiral Gennadii Khvatov. It claims that "democrats," having ruined the economy and divided society, have turned their guns on the army, aiming in particular to turn soldiers against officers and junior officers against senior. The piece argues--against abundant evidence to the contrary--that today's Soviet army is, in fact, a picture of harmony. (Stephen Foye) WORLD RIGHTS TO BOLSHOI TO BE AUCTIONED? A British firm that owns the world rights to the Bolshoi Theater has gone bankrupt, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported March 16. A few years ago, the theater's management had sold the rights to all the Bolshoi's foreign tours as well as to commercial use of its name (including selling portraits of its stars) to a British businessman. The contract provided his firm with almost half of the Bolshoi's earnings abroad until 1996. This deal was severely criticized in the Soviet media as both unpatriotic and commercially irresponsible. Now, Nezavisimaya gazeta explains, these rights will be auctioned and can be bought by anyone. (Julia Wishnevsky) USSR - IN THE REPUBLICS CENTRIST BLOC LEADER CANDIDATE FOR RSFSR PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. The third candidate for the upcoming presidential elections in the RSFSR has been proposed, TASS reported April 18. He is Vladimir Voronin, the leader of the so-called Centrist Bloc--a coalition of fringe groups reportedly linked to the KGB. The two other candidates are the RSFSR Supreme Soviet chairman Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a leader of the Liberal Democratic Party. (The Liberal Democratic Party, which has recently been officially registered by the Soviet government, is a member of the Centrist Bloc.) (Vera Tolz) LEADER OF COUNCIL OF RUSSIAN "NATIONAL PATRIOTS" INTERVIEWED. On April 18 TASS interviewed Eduard Volodin, chairman of the Coordinating Council of forty "national patriotic" organizations in the RSFSR. Set up in February, the Coordinating Council unites very different people--from Communists (members of the Russian Communist Party) to monarchists. Volodin said that the members of the council are united by "Russian patriotism" and by the opposition to the "Westernization of Russia" advocated by what he termed "pseudo-democrats" and the leadership of the CPSU. Volodin said that his Council has just issued an appeal to the Russian people demanding the dismissal of both Gorbachev and Yeltsin. (Vera Tolz) MINSK STRIKES WILL RESUME... The Minsk Strike Committee decided April 18 to call for a resumption of last week's industrial strikes. A spokesman, Syarhei Andrusau, said the work stoppage will resume April 23 because the Presidium of the Belorussian Supreme Soviet, meeting earlier this week, rejected the strikers' key political demands. These include calling an emergency session of parliament and passing a revamped electoral law to allow for holding new multiparty elections. Work collectives must ratify the decision of the Minsk Strike Committee. (NCA/Belorussian BD/Kathy Mihalisko) BUT UKRAINIAN MINES TO GO BACK TO WORK. Radio Moscow announced April 18 that an accord has been reached between representatives of striking coal miners throughout Ukraine and the republican Supreme Soviet and government. According to the report, the strikers agreed to go back to work within two days after the authorities met their demands. No other details were given. In addition, Kiev transportation workers, who walked off the job April 16 and 17, won official assurances that their demands for higher pay, lower prices on essential goods, and abolition of the 5% sales tax will be presented to the Supreme Soviet and government. (Kathy Mihalisko) UKRAINE WITHHOLDS FUNDS FROM UNION BUDGET. Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Ukraine, Vitol'd Fokin, said April 16 that the republic's financial position was so dire that it could not contribute 3 billion rubles to the all-Union stabilization fund as planned. "More than that," he continued, "we are unable to transfer to the center even one kopeck from the 9 billion rubles which Ukraine should have directed to the Union fund for social support of the population," TASS reported April 17. Fokin was responding to requests from republican deputies about how Ukraine was going to combat the deterioration in the population's living standards. Fokin indicated that other measures in support of the republic's population would follow. (John Tedstrom) CABINET FORM OF GOVERNMENT IN UKRAINE. The Ukrainian Supreme Soviet yesterday approved a fundamental reform of the government structure by introducing a cabinet form of government, Ukrinform-TASS and Radio Kiev reported April 18. The Council of Ministers has been transformed into a much smaller Cabinet of Ministers headed by Vitol'd Fokin, who was confirmed as prime minister and who will be given unspecified additional powers. The cabinet will also include two vice-premiers, a state secretary, and eight ministers. Further changes are under consideration, including a Council on Economic Policy headed by the prime minister and forming a constituent part of the cabinet. (Roman Solchanyk) THOUSANDS STRANDED IN GEORGIAN RAIL STRIKE. Radio Moscow reported April 18 that thousands of passengers en route for Georgia and Armenia are stranded at Adler, near the border between the RSFSR and Georgia. Dozens of freight trains have been halted; shipments at Black Sea ports are not being loaded; food shortages have resulted. Tbilisi Radio reported April 18 that the newly formed republican Strike Committee has decided to continue strike action to press for the withdrawal of the additional Soviet troop contingent sent to South Ossetia a week ago. (Liz Fuller) GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT ELECTS NEW CHAIRMAN. TASS reported April 18 that the Georgian Supreme Soviet has elected its first deputy chairman, Akaki Asatiani, leader of the Union of Traditionalists of Georgia, to the post of parliament chairman to succeed Zviad Gasmakhurdia, who was elected republican president April 14. (Liz Fuller) ROMANIAN PREMIER ON MOLDAVIA. "Moldavia is Romanian !", Romanian Prime Minister Petre Roman exclaimed to Le Figaro April 18. "It's just that it does not form a part of the Romanian state. It is a sovereign, maybe an independent republic". Asked to justify the recent Romanian-Soviet friendship treaty, Roman claimed that "it permits Romania to deal with problems that are close to its heart, specifically Moldavia...The Romanian-Soviet treaty explicitly mentions the right of either side to support democratic developments in the other. The text therefore permits us to expand our relations with Moldavia in all areas". However, the published text of the treaty (Adevarul, April 11) contains none of the above. (Vladimir Socor) ESTONIAN PREMIER IN MOLDAVIA. Moldavian Popular Front leaders held talks with Estonian Prime Minister Edgar Savisaar in Kishinev April 18. According to a press release of the Popular Front, the talks focused on ways of increasing cooperation between the Baltic States and Moldavia, "in consideration of the fact that all of them were annexed to the USSR under the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact". (Vladimir Socor) [As of 1300 CET] Compiled by Patrick Moore and Sallie Wise
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