|If you wish to make an apple pie truly from scratch, you must first invent the universe. - Carl Sagan|
No. 100, 24 April 1991
BALTIC STATES PRESS BUILDING IN RIGA TO REMAIN COMMUNIST PROPERTY. The press building in Riga seized by Soviet MVD troops in January is to remain the property of the Latvian Communist Party. Diena on April 22 reported that the Arbitration of the Soviet Union had decided that the base funds of the building belong to the Communist Party and the the joint-stock company Press House was founded illegally because the interests of the Communist Party were not taken into account. Latvian Deputy Prime Minister Ilmars Bisers called the decision "vague and lacking many essential facts." (Saulius Girnius) LATVIAN COMMUNISTS COMMEMORATE LENIN'S BIRTHDAY. On April 22 the 121st birthday of Vladimir Lenin was commemorated in Riga by Latvian Communists, Diena reported that day. A column of people headed by Latvian Communist Party First Secretary Alfreds Rubiks, Riga First Secretary Arnolds Klaucens, Commander of the Baltic Military District Colonel General Fedor Kuz'min, and Latvian parliament "Ravnopravie" faction leader Sergei Dimanis went through the streets of Riga and laid flowers at the Lenin monument. A Soviet army brass band played during the ceremony and traffic was stopped for about 20 minutes near the monument. (Saulius Girnius) NEW SOVIET BALTIC PORT. TASS reported on April 23 that Viktor Kharchenko, the head of the Baltic Shipping Line, told a news conference that Soviet specialists were studying the possibility of building a new port near the village of Ust-Luga, 150 kilometers from Leningrad. The port would take over the work of the ports of Tallinn, Klaipeda, and Ventspils. The plans call for the creation of a new city with about 25-30,000 inhabitants. It is hoped that the necessary funding of 5,000 million rubles would be supplied by Soviet and foreign investments. The project suggests that the USSR is making plans for an alternative port that would be needed if the Baltic States leave the USSR. (Saulius Girnius) MORE INVESTMENT IN ESTONIA. Estonian newspapers reported two new foreign investment projects on April 23. Ronald Lauder, Director of Investments for the cosmetics giant Estee Lauder, announced plans during his weekend visit to Estonia, Paevaleht reported that day. Lauder said his firm would underwrite the complete renovation of the buildings and equipment for a cement factory in Kunda on Estonia's northeastern coast. In other investment news, American entrepreneur James Whittle has formed a company that will begin importing Estonia's version of Perrier mineral water--called Varska--to the US. Whittle told Paevaleht that he also planned a bottle manufacturing plant for Estonia. (Riina Kionka) DEPUTIES GET A RAISE. Estonian Supreme Council deputies voted themselves a generous pay increase on April 23, Paevaleht reported the next day. The deputies will now receive 1,015 rubles monthly, compared to Estonia's average monthly wage of 406 rubles. Deputies who must travel to Tallinn for Supreme Council sessions will receive a per diem to cover their costs. Just two months ago, a wage increase proposal by deputy Tiit Made met with such harsh public criticism that the Supreme Council refused to vote on it, so Made dropped his proposal. This time, Paevaleht said, "none of the deputies wanted to make their opinions public," but "nearly all were in agreement." The proposal passed 59 to 6, with 7 abstentions. (Riina Kionka) TALKING HEADS ON "NADEZHDA". The Soviet Navy-Intermovement radio station "Nadezhda" is moving on to bigger and better things. According to Rahva Haal of April 23, "Nadezhda" is building a 53-meter high antenna for TV broadcasts. The TV programs will be receivable within a 22-25 km radius, and "Nadezhda" officials hope to begin broadcasts "in time for the May holidays." According to station officials, "private donations" gathered in funding drives in northeastern Estonia to cover costs. The land on which the antenna is being built was "voluntarily donated" by the Soviet military, "Nadezhda" officials told Rahva Haal. (Riina Kionka) USSR - ALL-UNION TOPICS ANTI-CRISIS MEASURES ACCEPTED. The USSR Supreme Soviet voted overwhelmingly in favor of the Pavlov government's "anti-crisis" measures April 23, according to TASS the same day. The plan includes meager attempts to "de-nationalize" state property, raise commercial interest rates, and curb government spending. It emphasizes labor discipline, banning strikes, and adopting "a series of other severe measures of an administrative character." The plan relies on political and economic administration and falls far short of the more radical "500-Days" plan. An important positive aspect of the program, though, is its intent to expand inter-republican economic cooperation/consultations through the creation of an Interrepublican State Council on Economic Reform. (John Tedstrom) MORE MONETARY DISCIPLINE? On the surface the Pavlov plan stresses fiscal and monetary discipline. Looking deeper, though, it foresees wage and welfare increases for much of the population and other spending programs at a time when republican governments are refusing to make deposits into the Union budget as planned. Despite the plan's higher commercial interest rates, the state bank will operate under a soft budget and it will not be surprising if money emissions, and, hence, inflationary pressures, continue to grow. (John Tedstrom) GOVERNMENT-TRADE UNION AGREEMENT ANNOUNCED. At a press conference in Moscow on April 22, the Chairman of the USSR Confederation of Trade Unions, Vladimir Shcherbakov, announced that the government-trade union agreement reached on April 20 was the first of its kind in history, TASS and Vremya reported April 22. The agreement foresees wage indexation, an official subsistence minimum, a wage reform, a change in taxation on many goods, a government unemployment program, compensation for more expensive school and works canteen meals, and other measures. Additional budgetary expenditure for social purposes in 1991 will amount to 47.6 billion rubles. Shcherbakov said that if the government fulfills its part of the agreement, the unions will refrain from strikes. (Keith Bush) NEW POVERTY LEVEL CRITERION SUGGESTED. At the same press conference, Shcherbakov disclosed that his Confederation puts the subsistence minimum, after the retail price increases of April 2, at 320 rubles a month, TASS and Vremya reported that day. Shcherbakov maintained that this subsistence level was considerably higher than the average wage, although the average wage of workers and employees in the public sector in 1990 was given as 270 rubles a month (see Ekonomika i zhizn', No. 5, 1991), to which should be added the 60 rubles supplement awarded before the retail price hike. (Keith Bush) GOSKOMSTAT ESTIMATE OF INFLATION. The Goskomstat report on economic performance during the first three months of 1991, published in Izvestia April 22, gives a remarkably high figure for inflation before the retail price hike of April 2. The consolidated retail price and tariffs index for consumer goods and paid services, which takes into account prices in cooperatives stores and on the kolkhoz markets, rose by 123.8% over the level recorded for the first quarter of 1990. (Keith Bush) GORBACHEV SAYS "NO" TO STATE OF EMERGENCY. On April 23, TASS quoted the leader of "Soyuz" group of USSR deputies, Yurii Blokhin, as saying at the group's recent congress that if President Mikhail Gorbachev refuses to introduce a state of emergency in the USSR, "Soyuz" is ready assume responsibility for taking this step. In its commentary, TASS doubted that "Soyuz" can back up its claim with real deeds. Meanwhile, the same day, TASS quoted presidential spokesman Vitalii Ignatenko as saying that Gorbachev does not want to impose a state of emergency. However, the chairman of the USSR Cabinet of Ministers, Valentin Pavlov, told the Soviet parliament on April 23 that he envisages the introduction of some sort of "special regimes" in some unspecified regions of the Soviet Union. (Vera Tolz) VORKUTA MINERS ADD NEW DEMAND. The Vorkuta strike committee demanded on Tuesday that Pavlov sign an agreement with the RSFSR government transferring jurisdiction of coal industry enterprises located in the Russian Federation to the RSFSR Cabinet of Ministers, "Radio Rossii" reported April 23. The committee has linked the demand to the issue of whether to end its strike. Last week, one mine in the RSFSR was transferred from all-Union to republican control (see Daily Report, April 18). "Radio Rossii" also reported that miners in the Kuzbass decided yesterday to continue their strike; workers at 3 mines, however, did go back to work. (NCA/Dawn Mann) TRADITIONAL MAY DAY PARADE TO BE CURTAILED? Only three organizations have applied for permission to take part in the May 1 demonstration on Red Square--the (official) Moscow Trade Union Federation; the (unofficial) Association of Free Trade Unions of the USSR; and the noncommunist "Democratic Russia" movement. Announcing this on April 22, Vremya reminded viewers that the law requires requests for permission to hold a public rally to be submitted to the appropriate local authority (in this case, the Moscow City Soviet) not less than ten days in advance. This period has now expired, Vremya noted. (Julia Wishnevsky and Elizabeth Teague) WILL GORBACHEV MISS THE MAY DAY PARADE? The traditional organizers of the May Day parade--the CPSU and the all-Union trade union federation--will therefore not, it seems, take part this year. This suggests that Gorbachev and other Kremlin leaders may not attend either. Last year, Gorbachev and his colleagues left their places on the Lenin Mausoleum in protest against the slogans displayed by anti-Communist demonstrators. In another sharp departure from tradition, the CPSU has not this year published its usual list of May Day slogans. (Julia Wishnevsky and Elizabeth Teague) "DEMOCRATIC RUSSIA" ISSUES SLOGANS. The CPSU may have stopped issuing May Day slogans, but "Radio Rossii" on April 23 broadcast a list issued by the "Democratic Russia" movement. "Democratic Russia's" slogans are unlike any the CPSU used to put out. They include: support for the miners' political demands; the resignation of Gorbachev, vice-president Yanaev, and the whole Pavlov government; dissolution of the USSR parliament; abolition of Communist Party committees in the workplace, the armed forces and the police; and transfer of Communist Party property into a fund to compensate the population for price rises. (Elizabeth Teague) MOVE TO OUST CPSU FROM "URALMASH." Workers at the giant "Uralmashzavod" heavy machine-building plant in Sverdlovsk (where ex-prime minister Nikolai Ryzhkov was once general director) are taking part in a referendum, TASS reported on April 23. They are being asked whether they want the CPSU committee to be banished from the factory and no longer provided with office space or salaries. TASS said several other factories in the heavily industrialized Sverdlovsk region are considering similar moves. TASS added that 60,000 Communists have left the Sverdlovsk Party organization in the past year and that the share of industrial workers belonging to the Party dropped in Sverdlovsk from 31 to 23.5% in that period. (Elizabeth Teague) MOSCOW TRADE UNION CALLS OFF WARNING STRIKE. A city-wide warning strike planned by the (official) Moscow Trade Union Federation for the eve of the May Day holiday has been postponed, Moscow Radio announced April 23. The trade union said its demands "seem to be meeting with a response" from the Moscow City Soviet and that talks are also scheduled "in the next few days" with the USSR Supreme Soviet. (Elizabeth Teague) BAKER, BESSMERTNYKH, TO MEET IN KISLOVODSK. US Secretary of State James Baker and his Soviet counterpart Aleksandr Bessmertnykh will meet today (April 24) in the Caucasus resort of Kislovodsk to discuss Middle East issues. According to today's Washington Post report, US officials explained that the last minute change in Baker's schedule resulted from Israeli Premier Yitzak Shamir's request to meet with Baker on April 26 rather than today. (Suzanne Crow) GORBACHEV MEETS MEXICAN OFFICIALS. Mexican Foreign Minister Fernando Solana Morales and ambassador to the USSR Carlos Telo met with Gorbachev on April 23 for talks about bilateral relations. TASS reported (April 23) Mexico's interest in improving relations with the USSR and Gorbachev's emphasis that the Soviet leadership makes decisions fully aware that it is accountable to the citizens of the Soviet Union as well as the world. (Suzanne Crow) SHEVARDNADZE TO SEE BUSH, BAKER. In his first trip to the United States since his resignation, former Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze will meet privately with US President George Bush and Secretary of State James Baker. According to an April 23 Reuters report, Shevardnadze will address graduation ceremonies at Boston University on May 12 and Emory University on May 13. (Suzanne Crow) SOVIET-CAMBODIAN PEACE TALKS. Bessmertnykh and his Cambodian colleague Hor Namhong opened talks in Moscow on April 23 to discuss the Cambodian conflict. Talks on Soviet-Cambodian bilateral relations are scheduled to continue today (April 24) between Hor Namhong and Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Rogachev, TASS reported April 23. (Suzanne Crow) STUDY FOCUSES ON DISGRUNTLED OFFICERS. A new study based on over twenty interviews with civilian and military experts in Moscow concludes that demonstrations of revolt could erupt among Soviet officers within the next eighteen months as a result of growing dissatisfaction with Gorbachev's failing reform program. Authored by Elaine Holoboff and published by Brassey's, the study refers to increasingly frequent reports of disturbances in military units, including strikes for food, hunger strikes, theft of weapons, and growing talk of alienation among rank-and-file soldiers. The study was summarized on April 23 by The Times (London) and Reuters. (Stephen Foye) OFFICER CRITICIZES PARTY DUTIES. A Lieutenant Colonel involved in military production quality control charges in Ogonek Number 15 that Party duties among such officers are so burdensome that they hinder the control process. The officer charges that at least one-fourth of all working hours are spent on Party-related responsibilities. He also points to wasted man-hours within the Defense Ministry as a whole as a result of various Party duties. He says that many officers support the elimination of political activities within the armed forces, that they are eagerly awaiting such an order from Gorbachev, and that so-called military-political reforms have changed nothing within the army. (Stephen Foye) POPE JOHN PAUL II IN THE SOVIET PRESS. Izvestia of April 11 devoted an entire page to a portrait of Pope John Paul II as a religious and public leader. Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti paid homage to John Paul II in a long article describing the Pope's activities in the cause of peace. Izvestia also supplied biographical background on the Pope and presented excerpts from his speeches. (Oxana Antic) USSR - IN THE REPUBLICS "DEMOCRATIC RUSSIA" CALLS FOR GENERAL STRIKE. The "Democratic Russia" movement called for a one-hour general strike in the RSFSR April 26, "Radio Rossii" reported April 23. The movement's appeal to republican workers said political demands should be put forward during the strike. The listed demands are the resignation of President Gorbachev, Vice-President Yanaev and the Soviet government, the dissolution of the USSR Congress of People's Deputies and the Soviet parliament, as well as a transfer of power to republican authorities. Meanwhile, the same day, "Radio Rossii" carried a discussion on the current political crisis, whose participants (a commentator of the radio and a correspondent of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet weekly "Rossiya") spoke against the resignation of Gorbachev, saying this would further destabilize the country. (Vera Tolz) NEW UNIVERSITY TO BE OPENED IN MOSCOW. An independent university for studies in the humanities will be opened in Moscow in coming days, TASS reported April 23. The main organizer of the university is Moscow's Institute of Historical Archives. The institute's rector Professor Yurii Afanas'ev will serve as rector of the new university as well. The new university, whose aim is to improve the level of research and teaching in the humanities in the USSR, will employee "the best Soviet scholars as well as specialists from foreign countries." (Vera Tolz) STRIKES RESUMED IN BELORUSSIA. An estimated 200,000 workers took part in a general strike across Belorussia on April 23, Western agencies reported. In Minsk, there were work stoppages at more than 30 enterprises, including the Tractor Factory with its 35,000 employees. According to TASS, some factories, in order not to halt production, delegated workers to represent them at the mass rally on Lenin Square, where up to 50,000 protesters listened to speeches condemning Party rule. Strikes also took place in Vitebsk, Gomel, Mogilev, Orsha, Borisov and elsewhere. All four potash pits in Saligorsk were shut down. The general strike is expected to continue today and possibly expand. (Kathy Mihalisko) LIST OF DEMANDS. The political demands voiced by Belorussian strikers include the sale of Party assets (with proceeds to go to Chernobyl victims), removal of Party committees from the workplace, the legalization of private property, and the election of a new republican Supreme Soviet. The workers are calling for an extraordinary session of the Belorussian parliament to discuss their agenda, but that demand was unanimously rejected last week by the Presidium. Interfax reported yesterday that the workers have also formally demanded the enforcement of Belorussia's Declaration of State Sovereignty. (Kathy Mihalisko) EAST EUROPEAN ECHOES IN MINSK. As reported April 24 by Knight-Ridder newspapers, the Minsk demonstrators cheered a speech by a worker from Gdansk, birthplace of Poland's "Solidarity," who expressed the hope that Belorussia would give birth to a president like Lech Walesa. Strike leader Syarhei Antonchik, for his part, said he looked to Czechoslovakia's Civic Forum as a model for overturning communism. (Kathy Mihalisko) UKRAINIAN STUDENTS DEMONSTRATE. Ukrainian students demonstrated on Kiev's main thoroughfare yesterday, TASS reported April 24, expressing support for striking Ukrainian miners. The students declared their intention to renew last fall's demonstrations, claiming that the authorities had failed to implement the agreement that had been reached. Thus far, only one of the students' demands has been met: the resignation of government head Vitalii Masol. The students are being supported by the recently formed republican strike committee. (Roman Solchanyk) RELIGION LAW PASSED IN UKRAINE. The Ukrainian Supreme Soviet has passed a law "On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations," Ukrinform-TASS reported April 23. The law reaffirms the separation of church and state and the equality of all faiths, simplifies registration procedures for religious groups, and allows for religious education. It permits the Ukrainian Greek Catholic, Autocephalous Orthodox, and Jehovah's Witnesses to operate publicly. (NCA/Roman Solchanyk) PROTEST DEMONSTRATIONS IN ADZHARIA. TASS reported April 23 that thousands of workers had gathered in Batumi, the capital of Georgia's Adzhar ASSR, for the second consecutive day, to protest religious discrimination against the largely Muslim population, and to demand the resignation of the republic's prime minister and interior minister and the replacement of prefects sent from Tbilisi by local officials. The National Guard opened fire April 22 when protesters approached the local parliament building but no injuries were reported. Local journalists told Reuters (April 23) that the protesters had invaded the parliament building and evicted the prime minister from his office. Tensions in the region derive from Georgian President Gamsakhurdia's desire to abolish local autonomy. (Liz Fuller) GORBACHEV ANNULS ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTIONS. Gorbachev has issued a decree annulling last week's ruling by the Armenian parliament to nationalize all assets belonging to the Armenian CP and Komsomol. The decree also annulled a second Armenian law passed in February banning political parties based or financed from outside Armenia. (Liz Fuller) GAMSAKHURDIA PROPOSES REFERENDUM ON SOUTH OSSETIAN AUTONOMY. The Georgian news agency Sakinform reported April 23 that Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia has proposed holding a referendum among the Ossetian population of Georgia on whether the autonomous status of the South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast, abolished last December by the Georgian parliament should be restored. There are some 164,000 Ossetians living in Georgia, of whom only 65,000 live in South Ossetia. (Liz Fuller) KIRGIZ SUPREME SOVIET COMPLAINS ABOUT UNION TREATY DRAFT. According to a report in the April 23 issue of Komsomol'skaya pravda, Kyrgyzstan's Supreme Soviet is no longer willing to grant unconditional approval to the draft Union Treaty. Republican president Askar Akaev attacked the draft at the session (see Daily Report for April 17); other speakers reportedly expressed dissatisfaction with the draft treaty's prohibition on barter deals and described the document as "anti-market." Even the highly conservative Supreme Soviet of Turkmenistan, which approved the draft "in principle" in March, had to appoint a commission to iron out disagreements over the text (Turkmenskaya iskra, March 26). (Bess Brown) MOLDAVIA CONSIDERS OLIVETTI CONTRACT. Moldavian Prime Minister Mircea Druc held talks in Kishinev with representatives of the Italian firm Olivetti, Moldovapres reported April 23. An Olivetti delegation is soon to visit Moldavia for talks on a possible long-term contract. Moldavia is known to seek cooperation contracts with Western firms in the areas of electronics and personal computers. (Vladimir Socor) [as of 1230 CET]
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