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RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 100, 24 April 1991


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)

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

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

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)


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)

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)

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

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)

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)

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)

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

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)

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)


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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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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