|When we can begin to take our failures non-seriously, it means we are ceasing to be afraid of them. It is of immense importance to learn to laugh at ourselves. - Katherine Mansfield|
No. 100, 22 April 1991
BALTIC STATES SOVIETS SEIZE LITHUANIAN CUSTOMS POST. On April 19 Soviet paratroopers occupied the Lithuanian customs post at Medininkai for 5 hours, AP reported that day. The soldiers broke down the customs barrier, cut telephone wires, and confiscated documents and radio equipment. The unarmed Lithuanians at the post were detained for 5 hours and warned not to reopen the post. Chairman of the Lithuanian Supreme Council Vytautas Landsbergis telephoned Commander of the Baltic Military District Colonel General Fedor Kuz'min who agreed that the incident should be investigated "with cooperation of both sides," Radio Kaunas reported on April 20. (Saulius Girnius) LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENTARIANS IN BONN. A delegation of Lithuanian parliamentarians, headed by Deputy Chairman of the Lithuanian Supreme Council Bronius Kuzmickas, visited Bonn April 17-18 at the invitation of a Bundestag deputy, the RFE Lithuanian Service reported on April 21. The delegation met with Bundestag Chairman Rita Suessmith for about an hour and were warmly greeted at a Bundestag session. It was decided that German parliamentarians would make an official visit to Lithuania, Germany-Lithuanian Friendship groups would be established in both parliaments, and that a Lithuanian or Baltic information center would be established in Germany. (Saulius Girnius) DEMONSTRATION AGAINST "FUTURE OF LITHUANIA FORUM". On April 20 more than 1,000 people attended a rally in Vilnius protesting the formation of the "Future of Lithuania Forum," the RFE Lithuanian Service reported on April 21. Speakers at the rally, organized by the Lithuanian Freedom League, the Lithuanian Independence Party, the Lithuanian Democratic Party, and the Union of Workers of Lithuania, criticized the formation of the forum, which is dominated by the Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party (the former independent Lithuanian CP) as an organization opposed to real independence. The rally's resolution called the forum a stepchild of the CPSU and demanded the resignations of two ministers, the bringing of criminal charges against Algirdas Brazauskas and Kazimiera Prunskiene, and the publication of lists of KGB agents in Lithuania. (Saulius Girnius) ESTONIANS WELCOME GORBACHEV'S REMARKS. In a statement released to RFE/RL on April 19, the Estonian Foreign Ministry welcomed reports that USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev had told a press conference in Tokyo April 18 that discussions toward the new Union treaty would only commence among the nine republics that participated in the Soviet referendum last month on preserving the USSR. Estonian Foreign Minister Lennart Meri said that "a certain welcome shift seems to have taken place in Mr. Gorbachev's positions. We hope this represents the beginning of a new, more realistic and non-violent approach in shaping the future outlines of the Soviet Union." (Riina Kionka) SAVISAAR ENDS MOLDAVIA VISIT. Estonia's Prime Minister Edgar Savisaar ended his visit to Moldavia on April 19, Rahva Haal reported the next day. See ESTONIAN-MOLDAVIAN VISIT ENDS below. (Riina Kionka) USSR - ALL-UNION TOPICS USSR CABINET OF MINISTERS' SESSION. On April 20, an expanded session of the USSR Cabinet of Ministers discussed the latest version of the "anti-crisis program," TASS reported that day. Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov asserted that the trade unions had agreed to link pay raises to productivity gains. Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Shcherbakov outlined three possible variants: less drastic measures; the "anti-crisis program" on the table; and an unrestricted plunge into the market. Not surprisingly, the middle course was judged to be the most realistic. The official account recorded "critical remarks" to the effect that the program does not take into account all interests of the republics. (Keith Bush) PAVLOV ON THE "ANTI-CRISIS PROGRAM." In television and radio interviews after the USSR Cabinet of Ministers' session, Pavlov gave a somewhat incoherent appraisal of the economic situation and of his government's proposed remedies. He spoke of "a real threat to the existence of the state as a whole," and of the economy starting "to roll downhill at enormous speed." On the vital question of whether the republics would support his program, Pavlov was evasive, saying "the republics have effectively approved this total concept on the whole." But he seemed to imply that a compromise package had been accepted. The USSR Supreme Soviet will debate Pavlov's program today. (Keith Bush) SHCHERBAKOV THREATENS DISSENTING REPUBLICS. In a Radio Moscow interview on April 19, Shcherbakov outlined punitive economic measures for those republics which do not intend to sign the Union Treaty. In their transactions with the union, they will be treated just like foreign countries. "There are world prices....There is world currency. There are export and import duties... Customs posts should be set up." Moscow would consider exchanging oil for meat, but "oil for flowers" was "quite another thing." (Keith Bush) MORE CRITICISM OF "ANTI-CRISIS PROGRAM." Speaking at a conference on the future of perestroika (see below) on April 21, economist Stanislav Shatalin called for a broad coalition of forces, a "national consensus" body, to get the public to accept the unpopular steps necessary to switch to a market economy. Another reform economist, Nikolai Petrakov, blasted the "anti-crisis program," saying it offered no concrete way out of the misery. He described the program as a trick to convince the West that the Soviet Union is changing to a market economy, AP and DPA reported April 21. (Keith Bush) IMF OFFERS LITTLE COMFORT. Speaking on condition that he not be identified, a senior International Monetary Fund official told reporters in Washington on April 21 that the West is reluctant to help the Soviet Union until it reforms the "rotten structure" of its economy, NCA, Reuters, and AFP reported that day. A prerequisite for economic reform, according to the official, was a political agreement between the republics and Moscow on a Union Treaty. He judged the present state of the Soviet economy to have deteriorated below the "worst case" scenario projected by the IMF study of last December. (Keith Bush) CENTRIST BLOC CEASES TO EXIST, RADIO ROSSII SAYS. According to a commentary of Radio Rossii on April 21, the so-called Centrist Bloc of political groups, set up last year with apparent help from the KGB, ceased to exist at the end of March. The radio said that nine of the eleven groups which founded the bloc have recently left it. The reason was the "extreme reactionary nature" of the body. Meanwhile, two leaders of the bloc, Vladimir Voronin and Vladimir Zhirinovsky, have been proposed as candidates for the upcoming presidential elections in the RSFSR. (Vera Tolz) COMMUNISTS PROPOSE ANOTHER CENTRIST BLOC. On April 19, a CPSU Central Committee commission said that Communists should consider entering a coalition with groups willing to uphold the USSR Constitution, socialism and non-violent reform. TASS quoted the Social-Political Commission of the CPSU CC as saying that creating a "Centrist Bloc" in the USSR could help heal political and social tensions. TASS did not say whether the commission named any particular groups which are to be included in the proposed coalition. (Vera Tolz) TRADE UNION LEADERS APPEAL TO GORBACHEV, MINERS. Trade union leaders representing workers in metallurgy, oil and gas extraction, aviation, chemistry, construction, and rail transport sent an appeal to Gorbachev on April 20, demanding that he and republican leaders resolve the strikes, Radio Moscow reported that day. If the authorities cannot settle the strikes, the trade union leaders want an extraordinary session of the USSR Congress of People's Deputies to be convened. The trade union leaders also called on striking miners to return to work to prevent a complete economic breakdown. (NCA) GORBACHEV TO DISCUSS UNION TREATY TOMORROW. Gorbachev told reporters in Tokyo April 18 that he plans to meet April 23 with leaders of the nine republics that held the March 17 referendum on the future of the USSR, according to Radio Mayak April 18 and the Sueddeutsche Zeitung of April 20. From his remarks it would seem that Gorbachev is not including the three Baltic States, Georgia, Armenia and Moldavia in the discussions intended to work out final details of the proposed new Union treaty. Gorbachev said that work on the treaty must be completed as soon as possible to avert "real dangers" to the USSR's political and economic stability. (Sallie Wise) "SOYUZ" CALLS FOR STATE OF EMERGENCY. Conservative parliamentarians have called for a special session of the USSR Congress of People's Deputies and the declaration of a six-month national state of emergency, TASS reported on April 21. Delegates to a congress of the "Soyuz" group of USSR people's deputies met in Moscow April 20-21 and said the proposed session of the Soviet parliament should also require Gorbachev to give an account of how he has used the wide powers that parliament granted him last year. AP (April 21) quoted the leader of the "Soyuz" group, Yurii Blokhin, as saying that, if the government does not take the steps "Soyuz" is demanding, the group "is ready to take all responsibility" for implementing them itself. (NCA/Elizabeth Teague) HARDLINER DEMANDS GORBACHEV'S OUSTER. There was much criticism of Gorbachev at the "Soyuz" congress. The resolution adopted at the close of the congress stopped short of calling for Gorbachev's ouster, but one of the group's leading members, Colonel Nikolai Petrushenko, said he doubted the Soviet president's ability to restore order in the country since politics cannot, he said, be conducted "with trembling hands." And another leading member of the group, Colonel Viktor Alksnis, went further; he was quoted by Radio Rossii (April 20) as telling the congress that the only hope for ending Soviet domestic choas is a nationwide state of emergency and a new leadership. (NCA/Elizabeth Teague) "SOYUZ" TO FOUND A MASS MOVEMENT. Delegates to the "Soyuz" congress also voted to turn the parliamentary group into an all-Union mass movement, to be officially registered with the authorities, DPA reported April 21. Congress delegates described "Soyuz" as a "constructive opposition" to the present leadership of the CPSU. (NCA/Elizabeth Teague) KGB EXTENDS SUPPORT TO "SOYUZ" MOVEMENT. "The majority of my colleagues are joining you under the banner of preserving the Soviet Union," KGB analyst Nikolai Leonov, told the conference of the deputies' group "Soyuz", AP reported April 21. Leonov singled out the USA and Britain for working against the national integrity of the USSR. He also accused Radio Liberty of "sowing hatred between our groups and setting one against the other". (Victor Yasmann) INTERPARLIAMENTARY CONFERENCE OF DEMOCRATIC FORCES. The first conference of democratic deputies of "the majority of the Union republics" was held in Moscow over the weekend, Radio Rossii reported April 21. The conference discussed the possibility of creating a permanent inter-parliamentary committee to coordinate the activities of democrats in various republican parliaments. The conference also discussed the organization of a roundtable of political parties in the USSR. (Vera Tolz) ROUNDTABLE ON PERESTROIKA HELD. A conference titled Perestroika in the USSR Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow was held in Moscow over the weekend, with political figures of widely different views participating. Radio Moscow reported that the meeting was attended, by both by conservative officials (MVD chief Boris Pugo and former Politburo member Egor Ligachev) and by radical democrats (economist Stanislav Shatalin, Moscow mayor Gavriil Popov and former foreign minister Eduard Shevardnadze). The conference was organized by the daily Komsomol'skaya pravda, the international non-governmental organization called "The Committee of National Accord," and the independent Washington-Paris-Moscow University. (Vera Tolz) RESULTS OF KOREA VISIT. Gorbachev stressed that the USSR wants good relations with both North and South Korea and urged the two countries to reduce tensions. Speaking after 90 minutes of talks on April 20 with South Korean President Roh Tae-Woo on the island of Cheju, Gorbachev said, "this year the Soviet Union and the Republic of Korea have walked a long distance in a very short time." (Suzanne Crow) NEW DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER. Valerii Nikolaenko, Chief of the foreign ministry's Latin America Department since 1990, was named Deputy Foreign Ministry on April 20, TASS reported. Nikolenko, a 1964 graduate of the Moscow State Institute for International Relations, has served in Soviet embassies in Cuba (1964-68), Mexico (1969-74), and the United States (1975-79). From 1980-87 he worked at the central MFA apparatus before holding two ambassadorial posts: Colombia (1987-88) and Nicaragua (1988-90). His appointment fills the gap left by Viktor Komplektov, recently appointed ambassador to the United States. (Suzanne Crow) GERMAN OFFICER SHOT BY SOVIET SENTRY. A sentry at a Soviet arms depot in Eastern Germany fired on three German officers as they allegedly photographed the base, wounding one of them in the arm, The New York Times reported on April 21. A statement from the Soviet command at the base, located in the town of Altengrabow, near Magdeburg, accused the Germans of entering a clearly marked restricted area and of failing to heed appeals in German and a warning shot. A TASS report on the incident mentioned only two German officers, and said that they were taken into custody by the Soviet side before being handed back over to German authorities. (Stephen Foye) DID GORBACHEV VISIT HONECKER? According to an April 18 Russian Information Agency report, Gorbachev and KGB Chief Vladimir Kryuchkov paid a visit to former GDR leader Erich Honecker "a few days ago." Moskovskie novosti said the day before Honecker had been visited by "two high politicians." DPA reported both items on April 18. Meanwhile, Moscow city soviet officials said on April 17 Honecker has no right to stay in Moscow unless he gets a residence permit just like everybody else (Daily Report, April 18). (Suzanne Crow) USSR - IN THE REPUBLICS SILAEV TO THE U.S. RSFSR Prime Minister Ivan Silaev is in the United States to ask for credits and establish contacts between RSFSR Supreme Soviet chairman Boris Yeltsin's administration and political and business circles in the U.S., TASS reported on April 20. A major goal of Silaev's visit is to buy grain in the U.S. Silaev won't see President George Bush but will meet with his national security adviser, Brent Scowcroft, and Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger. Besides Washington, Silaev is also going to visit New York and Los Angeles. (Alexander Rahr) RSFSR COMMISSION ON SOLDIERS' DEATHS. An RSFSR Supreme Soviet Commission charged with looking into the peacetime deaths of Soviet soldiers met on April 20 to discuss compensation and benefits for the families of deceased soldiers, TSN reported. The meeting apparently spilled over into other issues, however, when mothers who have lost sons to the military protested that the Soviet army was obstructing efforts to implement a Gorbachev decree calling for an investigation into brutality in army life. The mothers' announced that they would hold a mass hunger strike in Red Square on May 1 to protest the government's inaction. (Stephen Foye) MAJORITY OF SVERDLOVSK RESIDENTS FOR NATIONALIZATION OF CPSU PROPERTY. A recent opinion poll in the Ural city of Sverdlovsk demonstrated that the majority of residents advocate the nationalization of CPSU property. Radio Rossii reported April 21 that 63% of those polled answered "yes" to the question about the nationalization and 6% said "no." (The rest had no opinion.) Moreover, according to Radio Rossii 48% of the Communists questioned in the poll also supported the nationalization. (Vera Tolz) "COMMUNISTS OF RUSSIA" CONFERENCE. The conservative group known as "Communists of Russia" held its second congress in Leningrad on April 20-21. Among the 750 delegates were members of the all-Union society "Unity for Leninist and Communist Ideas," the "Movement for Communist Initiative," and the Moscow Communist-Leninist Club, TASS reported April 20. The delegates pronounced themselves in favor of the "sovietization" of the economy, improving workers' lives, and lowering prices, according to TASS April 21. They also seconded the nomination of Aleksei Sergeev for the post of RSFSR President (Sergeev was proposed by the United Front of Workers and is a co-author of an economic reform plan that would not raise prices or lower workers' living standards). (Dawn Mann) INFORMATION ON DEMOCRATIC RUSSIA MOVEMENT. The Democratic Russia Movement (DRM) now consists of 400,000 members and has established its organizations in 72 of 73 regions of the RSFSR, according to a new internal bulletin of the Russian democrats. Local organizations of DRM publish about 50 newspapers in 40 cities, with a circulation of about 1.5 million. DRM is directed by a Council of Representatives and the Coordinating Council, headed by six co-chairmen: Yurii Afanas'ev, Arkadii Murashov, Gavriil Popov, Viktor Dmitriev, Lev Ponomarev and Gleb Yakunin. DRM is financially supported by the Democratic Russia Fund, created by intellectuals and headed by Afanas'ev. (Alexander Rahr) DONETSK MINERS CONTINUE STRIKE. Coal miners in Donetsk remain on strike, insisting that their political demands be met, while meetings in the center of the city continue unabated in support of the coal miners, Radio Kiev reported April 19. Western news agencies report that various plants and enterprises have joined the miners, also putting forth poltical demands in this traditionally conservative region. Reuters reported April 21 that "every day, miners and factory workers gather in front of the Donetsk Communist Party headquarters, waving the Ukrainian nationalist flag and banners condemning the Soviet government." (Roman Solchanyk) UKRAINIAN STUDENTS PLAN PROTEST. Ukrainian Supreme Soviet chairman Leonid Kravchuk met with students on April 19 and announced that a parliamentary commission is to meet with them today, Ukrinform-TASS reported that day. The Ukrainian students are demanding that the Supreme Soviet implement its resolution of last October following the student strikes. Student leaders have announced their intention to organize a republic-wide protest beginning April 23, saying they have no faith in the Ukrainian parliament or government. (Roman Solchanyk) NEW UKRAINIAN CONSTITUTION DISCUSSED. A two-day conference on the proposed new Ukrainian constitution convened in Kiev April 19 and 20, Radio Kiev reported April 20. The meeting was addressed by Ukrainian Supreme Soviet chairman Leonid Kravchuk and Communist Party leader Stanislav Hurenko and heard several competing proposals for reorganizing the state structure, including a presidential system and a two-house parliament. (Roman Solchanyk) BELORUSSIAN GOVERNMENT MEETS STRIKERS' ECONOMIC DEMANDS. The Minsk Strike Committee is going ahead with plans for a republic-wide general strike beginning tomorrow, April 23 (see Daily Report, April 19) due to the failure of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet to give in to key political demands. There has been progress, however, on the economic front. Last week the Belorussian government agreed to raise salaries, abolish the 5% national sales tax levied by Gorbachev, and repeal a 5% republican income tax that was intended to raise money for the victims of Chernobyl. Belorussians feel that Moscow, not they, should be made to pay for Chernobyl. (Belorussian BD/Kathy Mihalisko) BELORUSSIAN ATHEISTS USING NEW METHODS. Sovetskaya molodezh' of April 6 published an interview with Anatolii Kruglov, who initiated the plan by Belarus' publishers to publish the Bible -- a first by a state publishing house. The interview revealed new ways to combat religion. Kruglov, the author of more than 12O works on atheisim, explained that he wants to publish the Bible in order "to open the eyes of the believers," since the Bible is a collection of legends and myths. Kruglov added that he believes a time will come when people will stop believing in the supernatural. (Oxana Antic) CURFEW LIFTED IN AZERBAIJAN. TASS and the Azerbaijani news agency ASSA reported April 19 that republican president Ayaz Mutalibov has issued a decree lifting the curfew imposed on Baku on January 20, 1990, after Soviet troops fought their way into the city following a week of pogroms against ethnic Armenians. The state of emergency imposed at the same time remains in force. (Liz Fuller) MOSCOW WARNS GEORGIA OVER ECONOMIC BLOCKADE. TASS April 19 quoted USSR First Deputy Prime Minister Vitalii Doguzhiev as stating that Moscow will discontinue all shipments to Georgia and reroute trains and ships unless the Georgian parliament halts the two-week old general strike and rail blockade within two-three days. (Liz Fuller) CPSU CC PROTESTS ARMENIAN RULING ON NATIONALIZATION OF PARTY PROPERTY. On April 19 the CPSU Central Committee issued a statement protesting the decision of the Armenian parliament to nationalize all property belonging to the Armenian CP and Komsomol. The statement termed this decision a crude violation of both the Armenian and Soviet Constitutions and of Soviet laws guaranteeing public organizations the right to own property, and accused Armenia of "pursuing a political course aimed at setting up an anti-democratic and authoritarian regime and at elimination opposition forces. It called for the ruling to be reversed. (Liz Fuller) ARMENIA TO HOLD REFERENDUM ON REOPENING NUCLEAR POWER STATION. On April 17 the Armenian Supreme Soviet voted overwhelmingly in favor of a referendum on whether to recommission the Medzamor nuclear power station near Erevan, ARMENPRESS reported April 18. The station was closed in early 1989 following the earthquake several months earlier; the resulting energy shortfall has created serious problems throughout Armenia. (Liz Fuller) ARMENIA TO REOPEN NAIRIT CHEMICAL PLANT. Also on April 17, the Armenian parliament voted to reopen the Nairit chemical plant in Erevan. The Armenian Pan-National Movement, the majority faction in the Armenian parliament, had campaigned for its closure on the grounds that pollution from the plant was causing widespread health defects. This decision was protested by the plant's management and workforce who argued that the pollution could be eliminated, and that the plant's production was vital for the republic's entire chemical industry. The parliament decision provides for the respecia- lization of the plant within the next few years. (Liz Fuller) STATE OF EMERGENCY IMPOSED IN NORTH OSSETIA. TASS reported April 20 that a state of emergency had been imposed in Vladikavkaz, the capital of the North Ossetian ASSR, and in surrounding raions following armed clashes the previous day between Ossetians and Ingush. Tensions between the two nationalities have erupted into violence before; they derive from Ingush demands for the revival of their autonomous oblast and the return of land given to the North Ossetian ASSR when the Ingush were deported en masse to Central Asia in 1944. Gorbachev last March proposed creating a commission to study the Ingush demand. (Liz Fuller) ESTONIAN-MOLDAVIAN VISIT ENDS. An Estonian government delegation headed by Prime Minister Edgar Savisaar ended a four-day visit to Moldavia on April 19, Rahva Haal reported the next day. The two sides released a joint communique summing up the economic and cultural agreements concluded during the visit as a further intensification of horizontal ties between sovereign republics. (Riina Kionka) DISMISSED OFFICIAL ON ISLAM IN TAJIKISTAN. Issue No. 4 of Teatral'naya zhizn' contains an interview with Nur Tabarov, former minister of culture of Tajikistan, who was fired after having been accused of having participated in an attempt to remove the republic's top leadership during the disturbances in Dushanbe in February 1990. Tabarov, described in an introduction to the interview as having done much to encourage the renaissance of Tajik culture, says that the Tajik intelligentsia supports the religious renaissance in Tajikistan as part of the cultural renaissance. The republic's fundamentalists stay out of politics, he says. (Bess Brown) [As of 1330 CET]
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