|The only certainty is that nothing is certain. - Pliny the Elder|
No. 200, 23 April 1991
BALTIC STATES DOCKERS' STRIKE AT KLAIPEDA. Dock workers at the port of Klaipeda began a strike at 8:00 AM on April 22 demanding higher wages, Radio Kaunas reported that day. The workers complained that the port administration had ignored their attempts to negotiate and that the last straw was the non-payment in April of the 105-ruble compensation that the Lithuanian parliament had approved to offset the increase in prices. Strike committee leader Ramunas Milikas said that the workers would continue the strike until their demands are met. (Saulius Girnius) LONG DELAYS AT LITHUANIAN-POLISH BORDER. PAP reported on April 22 that Soviet border officials at the Lithuanian-Polish border crossing at Lazdijai-Ogrodinki were delaying traffic. People travelling in buses had to wait 100 hours and those in private cars 90 hours to enter Poland. In contrast, customs clearance on the Polish side of the border required only two hours. (Saulius Girnius) VAGNORIUS IN CANADA. Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius on April 19 met with Canadian Minister of Finance Wilson, Ontario premier Bob Rae, the mayor of Toronto, and the heads of many Canadian companies and banks as well as speaking to the Lithuanian community in Toronto. On April 20, he met with the Lithuanian communities in Hamilton and London, the VOA Lithuanian Service reported on April 20. In an interview with the RFE Lithuanian Service Vagnorius said that he was pleased with his visit and that he had signed contracts worth several million dollars with Ontario businessmen. On April 21 Vagnorius met with Alberta government and business officials in Edmonton and Calgary. He will complete his visit on April 23 in Montreal, where he will hold talks with Quebec provincial government officials and then fly back to Moscow. (Saulius Girnius) USSR - ALL-UNION TOPICS PAVLOV OUTLINES "ANTI-CRISIS PROGRAM." Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov outlined his "anti-crisis program" to the USSR Supreme Soviet on April 22, TASS reported that day. The transcript of his speech does not indicate any major changes from the draft program that was initially published, but then withdrawn, by TASS on April 9. Pavlov emphasized the restoration of order: "Democracy without discipline does not exist anywhere; the only result is chaos." At a subsequent press conference, he spoke of introducing a "special regime" in some regions or branches, and stated: "...it is possible to let people work with the help of force," but he did not elaborate on these concepts. (Keith Bush) PAVLOV'S PROGRAM A WEAK IMITATION. Pavlov's plan for economic reform was likened by TASS analyst Vladimir Isachenkov on April 22 to the Shatalin-Yavlinsky "500-Days" program. Pavlov's version falls far short of the mark, though, and in many respects represents an extension of the late Yurii Andropov's program of labor discipline with small doses of reform and "destatization". The Pavlov plan foresees much more limited privatization than the more radical 500-Days program. It also intends to maintain stronger administrative controls over wages, prices, output, and supply than did the 500-Days plan. Using the Andropov model may be no coincidence: public opinion polls in the USSR of late rank the former CPSU leader as one of the most popular Soviet leaders. (John Tedstrom) PAVLOV REVEALS DETAILS ON ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE. In his speech to the Supreme Soviet April 22, Pavlov listed a host of shortfalls in the country's economic performance during the first quarter of the year (TASS, April 22). Compared with first quarter 1990 figures: national income is off 10%; industrial output down 5%; agricultural production down 13%; livestock production down 8-12%. Ministry of Finance officials estimate the Union-wide budget deficit as totalling some 200 billion rubles (for a total internal government debt of 540 billion) by the end of 1991. In the first quarter, republican payments into the Union budget have fallen short by over 60% of the planned amount. In March alone, coal output fell by 13%, and coking coal by a third due to strikes. Estimates of the total impact of the strikes to date range between 50 billion and 100 billion rubles in lost output. (John Tedstrom) PROPOSALS ON PRIVATIZATION. The head of the USSR Supreme Soviet's Committee on Economic Reform, Valentin Vologzhin, told the April 22 session that privatization was the key to leading the country out of its crisis. He said that state property should be partly sold and partly given away, TASS reported April 22. Although many view privatization as a principal vehicle for soaking up the ruble overhang, the USSR Cabinet of Ministers has pointed out that liquid savings that would be devoted to purchasing private property or enterprises amounted to no more than 100 billion rubles, while the value of state production funds is estimated at 2.5 trillion rubles, TASS reported April 20. (Keith Bush) ACTION ON PRIVATIZATION. Seemingly unrelated to any all-Union program, the Leningrad City Soviet Executive Committee has leased or sold more than 100 cafes, canteens, and tailor's workshops. It intends to lease 4,500 retail enterprises and roughly the same number of consumer service outlets, Radio Moscow reported April 22. It is thought that privatization can yield several billion rubles for the city's coffers. (Keith Bush) PAY CLAIMS MOUNTING. In advance of a possible Union-wide pay freeze, demands for stiff wage increases have been reported from various sectors. The Tyumen' oblast committee of oil workers' trade unions has demanded a minimum wage of 1,400 rubles a month, according to Radio Mayak April 19. Strikers at Klaipeda are seeking a four-fold wage increase, TASS reported April 22. And the RSFSR Supreme Soviet adopted a law providing, inter alia, for a republic minimum wage of 180 rubles a month from October 1, Radio Moscow reported April 19. The Russian Federation of Free Trade Unions has demanded index-linked wages across the board, according to AFP of April 18. (Keith Bush) CPSU CENTRAL COMMITTEE TO MEET WEDNESDAY. Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and his economic program are both expected to come under fire at a plenary meeting of the CPSU Central Committee that convenes in Moscow tomorrow (April 24). Gorbachev ally Leonid Kravchenko told reporters in Tokyo April 17 that some Party officials are angry that Gorbachev is devoting too much time to his presidential duties and neglecting his Party ones. Gorbachev himself told reporters in Red Square yesterday the he expects "serious comments and criticism" at the plenum (AP, April 22). He said Party officials are asking whether his economic reforms are not leading toward capitalism; he said he would tell the plenum that the USSR is traveling from totalitarianism to democracy. (NCA/Elizabeth Teague) INTER-PARLIAMENTARY CONFERENCE SUPPORTS STRIKERS. On April 22, the inter-parliamentary confererence of democratic deputies from republican parliaments called on all Supreme Soviets to aid the process of "peaceful liquidation of the existing Union structures." The conference also adopted a declaration supporting Soviet strikers. Conference participants expressed their intention to achieve, together with striking workers, the creation of a new "government of people's confidence." The participants also called on all Soviet workers to declare pre-strike readiness in response to the April 21 demand by the "Soyuz" group of deputies to introduce a state of emergency. (Dawn Mann/Vera Tolz) GORBACHEV WARNS WORKERS, GOLD MINERS STRIKE. According to AP April 22, Gorbachev told reporters in Moscow that striking workers are playing a dangerous game and said most people want to work. 3,000 gold miners in Siberia also staged a 24-hour strike on Monday to express support for the miners, Postfactum reported April 22. (Dawn Mann) SOVIET LEADERSHIP CELEBRATES LENIN'S BIRTHDAY. The Soviet leadership marked the 121st anniversairy of the birth of the founder of the Soviet state, V. I. Lenin, TASS reported April 22. The main speech at a traditional meeting was delivered by the CPSU deputy general secretary, Vladimir Ivashko, who said that Lenin's thoughts and deeds have not lost their importance. President Mikhail Gorbachev, Vice President Gennadii Yanaev, Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov and other officials attended the ceremonies. (NCA/Vera Tolz) PRESS CONFERENCE ON LENIN. Soviet historians answered questions from Soviet and foreign journalists at a press conference held in Moscow April 20 in connection with the 121st birthday of Lenin. Professor of history Vladlen Loginov told the press conference that it was former Soviet chief ideologist Mikhail Suslov who personally crossed out "unacceptable" passages from Lenin's writings when the fifth edition of Lenin's complete works was being prepared, TASS reported April 22. (The fifth edition of Lenin's works was regarded as the fullest edition ever.) (Vera Tolz) KAIFU ON TALKS. In an interview with the Washington Post and Newsweek, Japanese Premier Toshiki Kaifu reported that Gorbachev advocated a three-nation framework for Asian security including the United States, Japan and the USSR during talks last week. Kaifu said he replied that "Japan already has an alliance of complete trust with the United States under [a] bilateral security treaty." As today's Washington Post report notes, the Japanese press is treating Kaifu's refusal to provide large sums of aid without the return of the islands as a victory and as a sign of the strength of Kaifu's leadership. (Suzanne Crow) BESSMERTNYKH TO ISRAEL. Foreign Minister Aleksandr Bessmertnykh will travel to Israel within a month or two, Israeli Consul-General Arieh Levin said in Moscow on April 21. Levin said he has received a formal announcement that Bessmertnykh will make the visit during a forthcoming Middle East tour, Reuters reported April 21. (Suzanne Crow) BAKER, BESSMERTNYKH TALK. U.S. Secretary of State James Baker and his Soviet counterpart Aleksandr Bessmertnykh spoke yesterday (April 22) via telephone and exchanged opinions about the current situation in the Middle East, TASS reported April 22. (Suzanne Crow) TSEDENBAL DIES IN MOSCOW. Yumzhagiin Tsedenbal, Mongolia's dictator from 1952-84, has died in Moscow the Mongolian foreign ministry reported April 22. Tsedenbal and his Russian-born wife Anastasia Filatova lived there in exile after Tsedenbal was overthrown in 1984, Reuters reported April 22. (Suzanne Crow) NORTH KOREAN VITRIOL. The North Korean news agency issued a statement in the name of the Pyongyang-based South Korean National Democratic Front, saying the visit of Gorbachev to South Korea was "dirty mendicant diplomacy" and "fosters antagonism and confrontation by getting on the nerves of the North, not bringing closer the South and the North and uniting the nation." In an apparent reference to South Korean demonstrations against Gorbachev, the statement said, "the South Korean revolutionaries cannot but give vent to indignation and derision at the wretched sight of those who, fascinated by dollars, sell off politics, ideology and obligation," Reuters reported April 22. (Suzanne Crow) SHEVARDNADZE TO SPEAK AT BOSTON U? Former Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze reportedly will give the commencement address at Boston University in May, AP reported April 20. He will also do an extensive speaking tour in several other major US cities, the report says. Neither Boston University nor the Soviet embassy could confirm these plans. (Suzanne Crow) CASTRO IN FUEL BIND. In a speech (April 19) marking the thirtieth anniversary of the Bay of Pigs invasion, Cuban President Fidel Castro said that Cuban troops are experimenting with coal and sugar cane leaves as emergency alternatives to fuel for armoured cars and tanks in case Soviet supplies fail, Reuters reported April 20. The Cuban leader also said his country is suffering from disruptions in arms supplies from the Soviet Union. Castro said Cuba needs more arms than ever before because, "we're threatened by the US and all the more so at this time when it is acting like the owner of the world." (Suzanne Crow) AKHROMEEV ON CHERNOBYL. Marshal Sergei Akhromeev said on April 19 that Soviet authorities had underestimated the severity of the 1986 nuclear disaster at Chernobyl and that work done by army units in the aftermath of the accident rivaled the Second World War. According to Reuters, Akhromeev, who was then General Staff Chief, coordinated the clean-up operation. He claimed to have learned of the accident at 2:20 A.M., only an hour after it had occurred. Akhromeev said that at 7:30 he reported to the Soviet Defense Minister and got approval for military deployments he had ordered. At 9:30 he called Gorbachev, who reportedly already knew about the disaster and approved his measures. (Stephen Foye) REFORM OF GROUND FORCES DISCUSSED. Krasnaya zvezda of April 18 carries a long discussion on current and proposed reform of the Soviet Ground Forces that indicates once again the depth of opposition within the defense establishment to many aspects of Gorbachev's national security policy. The participants, including leading military industrialists and officers, emphasized the continued importance of the Ground Forces. All objected to defense spending cuts, arguing that the new defensive doctrine depended on expensive technical re-equipping of Soviet forces; they also criticized what they called the incoherence of the current program of military conversion. (Stephen Foye) MALNUTRITION AMONG SCHOOLCHILDREN? After a threefold increase in the prices of school lunches on April 2 (from 50 kopeks to 1.50 rubles), three-quarters of Moscow's schoolchildren have been skipping their meals in school canteens, according to TASS April 22. "Specialists predict an outbreak of illness linked with malunutrition--gastritis and extreme fatigue," TASS said. Reuters April 22 cited Izvestia to the effect that several children had fainted in Nizhny Tagil after their parents had stopped paying for school meals. (Keith Bush) EGOR LIGACHEV IS BACK! Soviet TV viewers could see conservative former Politburo member Egor Ligachev on Soviet TV once again in a report on discussion of the government's anti-crisis program in the USSR Supreme Soviet April 22. Ligachev mounted the rostrum to inform his fellow lawmakers that he supported Valentin Pavlov's program (which included privatization of some government-owned enterprises). At the same time, however, Ligachev warned against underestimating administrative economic measures and called on the deputies "to strengthen the planned principles" [of the present economy.] (Julia Wishnevsky) ALEKSANDR YAKOVLEV BACKS "DEMOCRATS". In an interview with the liberal weekly Sobesednik (No. 16), former Politburo member Aleksandr Yakovlev opined that endless attacks on "democrats" in the Party press are in fact "a form of struggle against the policy of perestroika." Despite the current political and economic crisis in the country, Yakovlev reaffirmed his support for the policy of glasnost' in the media and political democratization, which he helped to promote early in the Gorbachev era. Yakovlev, nonetheless, refused to reveal whether he had resigned from the leadership voluntarily or was fired, and what he does in the Gorbachev team at the moment. Anyway, Yakovlev said, he would never accept any top governmental or Party post, no matter who might offer him one. (Julia Wishnevsky) CAN "DALLAS" SAVE KRAVCHENKO? An American company is helping the hard-line management of Soviet TV to confront the boycott of the head of the Soviet Radio and Television, Leonid Kravchenko, by the USSR Cinema Workers' Union in protest of censorship and disinformation evident in Soviet TV newscasts, particularly in whitewashing the Baltic crackdowns. According to TASS (April 19) the "Worldvision" company is to organize the broadcast of American series for the Soviet TV audience. TASS quoted the company's representative, A. Spelling, as saying that this will be the largest showing of American TV programs in the history of Soviet television. "Worldvision" is reportedly supplying a number of America's most popular series, including Dallas, free of charge. (Julia Wishnevsky) 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 KOZYREV FAVORS STRONG HAND. RSFSR Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev called in an article in Nezavisimaya gazeta on April 6 for the convocation of a CSCE conference on human rights in Moscow next fall. He stated that the foreign policy of the RSFSR will be oriented toward principles of human rights and that Russia would not shrink back from criticizing abuses of human rights in those countries which formerly were "ideological allies" of the Soviet Union. Kozyrev also said that a "strong hand" is needed to solve the crisis in the country but that this "strong hand" should be democratically elected. He thought that the Russian presidency will become such an executive power. (Alexander Rahr) FOURTH CANDIDATE FOR RSFSR PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. The League of Independent Scientists of the RSFSR nominated its candidate, V. Potemkin, for the Russian Federation's presidential elections, TASS reported April 19. (The league is an informal organization which says it is an alternative to the USSR Academy of Sciences.) Three other candidates for the elections are the RSFSR Supreme Soviet chairman, Boris Yeltsin, and leaders of the so-called Centrist Bloc of political parties V. Voronin and V. Zhirinovsky. (Vera Tolz) URAL BRANCH OF THE RUSSIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCES. At an inaugural conference in the city of Sverdlovsk, the Ural branch of the Russian (Rossiiskaya) Academy of Sciences was created April 21, Radio Moscow-1 reported. In fact, the Russian Academy of Sciences does not exist yet, but only its organizational committee. Its creation is hampered by disputes over the structure and activities of the body. Some local scientific communities in the RSFSR has gone ahead, however, and created branches of the still non-existing body. In addition to the newly created Ural branch of the academy, a branch exists in Leningrad. The latter was created last year by highly conservative Leningrad scholars. (Vera Tolz) RUSSIAN ORTHODOX PRIEST FROM CRIMEA ON THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH ABROAD. Russian Orthodox priest Valerii Lapkovskii, deputy of the Fedosiya (Crimea) city soviet, told the city soviet's newspaper Pobeda on March 22 that the Moscow Patriarchate defrocked him in connection with his transfer to the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (see Daily Report, January 17). The outspoken priest, who criticized militant atheists in Feodosiya in the press in the past, explained the reasons for his changing of jurisdiction, and accused the Moscow Patriarchate of continuing to carry out orders of the Party bureacracy. (Oxana Antic) MASS MEETING IN KIEV. Up to 3,000 people gathered in Kiev April 21 in an action organized by "Rukh," Radio Kiev reported April 22. The gathering approved a list of demands to the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet, including the immediate granting of constitutional force to the republic's declaration of sovereignty, the invalidation of all federal laws and presidential decrees in Ukraine, the subordination of all all-Union enterprises and institutions to republican ownership, and the release of Ukrainian people's deputy Stepan Khmara and his associates from detention. (Roman Solchanyk) KRAVCHUK IN GERMANY. Chairman of the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet Leonid Kravchuk arrived in Germany yesterday for a week-long official visit, Radio Kiev and Western agencies reported April 22. Kravchuk arrived in Bonn at the head of a parliamentary delegation at the invitation of the Bavarian Landtag. On his first day Kravchuk held talks with Foreign Minister Hans Dietrich Genscher and President Richard von Weizsaecker. Die Welt reported yesterday that the Ukrainian delegation's request to conduct talks in Ukrainian (rather than Russian) and German sent the German foreign office scrambling for a Ukrainian-language interpreter; the search was only partially successful. (Roman Solchanyk) THREAT OF CLASHES IN MINSK? Belorussian deputy Supreme Soviet chairman Stanislau Shushkevich indicated to The Independent, April 22, that clashes between police and striking industrial workers in Minsk cannot be ruled out. Police and Interior Ministry troops will be standing by today at the start of a general work stoppage called by the Minsk Strike Committee. (Kathy Mihalisko) UZBEKISTAN AND TURKMENISTAN SIGN AGREEMENT. Vremya reported on April 21 that an agreement on cooperation in culture, economics, health, environment and science had been signed by representatives of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. The agreement was cited as an example of the horizontal relations that are developing between republics; the report noted that these two share many similar problems, including a reduction in the subsidies received from the USSR budget. So far there have been relatively few such bilateral agreements between Central Asian republics. (Bess Brown) LITTLE LIBERALIZATION IN TURKMENISTAN. At least Turkmenistan's Popular Front "Agzybirlik" was allowed to hold its constituent congress recently, Moskovskiye novosti No. 13 reports. But it appeared that the ratio of militia officers to delegates was two to one, and at the end of the meeting the group's leaders were fined for holding an unsanctioned assembly. The group hopes that the current session on the republican Supreme Soviet will rule on the registration of political parties. (Bess Brown) PLURALISM IN KYRGYZSTAN. In an interview in Argumenty i fakty, quoted by TASS on April 20, Kirgiz president Askar Akaev says that though the Communist Party remains strong in the republic, other parties are developing and power has been redistributed at all levels. His Cabinet of Ministers contains members of the new parties as well as Communists and persons with no party affiliation. He is particularly concerned with the need to maintain good interethnic relations, and ensured that representatives of several nationalities were included in the cabinet. (Bess Brown) MODERATE TO CHALLENGE GAMSAKHURDIA IN GEORGIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. RL's Russian Service stringer in Tbilisi reported April 22 that Irakli Shengelaya, a 43-year-old philologist and leader of the moderate Freedom bloc, will run against Zviad Gamsakhurdia in the May 26 Presidential elections. A former republican-federalist, Shengelaya advocates rule by a political and intellectual elite; he commented appositely to the Georgian press in December that "it is only one step from ochlocracy [mob rule] to dictatorship." (Liz Fuller) GROMOV ON NORTH OSSETIA. TASS quotes USSR first deputy Interior Minister Boris Gromov as telling a press conference in Moscow April 22 that unsolved inter-ethnic tensions in the North Caucasus could lead "to explosions in the entire region". Gromov assessed the situation in the North Ossetian ASSR, where the estimated number of those injured in last week's fighting between Ingush and Chechens has been raised to "dozens", as even more complicated than that in South Ossetia, where over 50 people have been killed since December in fighting between Ossetians and Georgians. (Liz Fuller)
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