|Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov|
No. 82, 29 April 1991
BALTIC STATES LITHUANIAN GOVERNMENT PROTEST. On April 26 Radio Vilnius read the text of a statement adopted that day by the Lithuanian government. Noting the attacks by Soviet soldiers on the night of April 24-25, the government categorically protested the USSR armed forces' acts and demanded that the buildings and property seized be returned without delay. The government said that the entire responsibility for possible consequences rests with the USSR government and that it could not guarantee that the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania would not take retaliatory actions. (Saulius Girnius) RALLY IN VILNIUS. On April 27 thousands of people gathered in Independence Square in Vilnius to attend a rally called by Sajudis. Chairman of the Lithuanian Supreme Council Vytautas Landsbergis said that the people might have to expect events perhaps even more horrible than those in the past. Sajudis Council Chairman Juozas Tumelis invited people from the whole republic to attend a rally on May 4 in Vingis Park in Vilnius that will advise how the population should behave in the face of occupation and the scheduled spring callup of young men into the Soviet military. (Saulius Girnius) LATVIAN-USSR AGREEMENT ON BUDGET. Radio Moscow reported on April 27 that Latvian Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis had said that an agreement had been reached with the Soviet authorities on Latvia's contribution to the Soviet budget. Latvia has agreed to pay 350 million rubles and not the 4,200 million rubles that the USSR had previously demanded. (Saulius Girnius) BOMB EXPLODES IN TALLINN. A bomb exploded on April 26 near a Communist Party office in Tallinn, TASS reported that day. The explosion, the fourth this year, damaged nearby buildings, but injured no one. TASS called the explosion a "terrorist act" aimed at organizations backed by the non-Estonian population, but local officials suggested the explosions were set off by those opposed to independence in order to provoke intervention by Soviet security troops. (Riina Kionka) BALTIC COMMUNIST COORDINATING COUNCIL. TASS reported on April 27 that a Congress of Baltic Communist Parties was held that day in Riga. The congress called for the creation of a single body to help unite Communists against "concentrated pressure" from the state authorities in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. It approved a document protesting attempts by Western states to interfere in the internal affairs of the Baltic republics and asked the Soviet authorities to take preventive measures to limit "the diplomatic aggression from outside." (Saulius Girnius) USSR - ALL-UNION TOPICS GORBACHEV TO ORDER TOUGH MEASURES. Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev announced on April 26 that in order to maintain economic and political stability in the country he would resort to "tough measures...right up to the toughest," according to Western and Soviet accounts over the weekend. Gorbachev told the USSR Supreme Soviet that republics, enterprises, and workers must show more discipline. These comments echo a theme of "discipline before reform" that pervades Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov's new "Action Program." Gorbachev plans to introduce his measures immediately after the May Day holiday. (John Tedstrom) WHAT HAS GORBACHEV TARGETED? Gorbachev's tough disciplinary measures will aim to redress three primary problems. The first is that rebellious republics had failed to pay approximately 34 billion rubles into the USSR State budget by the end of March 1991; as a result, the all-Union budget fell short by over 60%. Second, a serious deterioration in the ability of the traditional economic structure to cope with planning, supply links, etc., has contributed to a fall in national income in the first quarter of 1991 by 10% and industrial output by 5%. Finally, strikes in the USSR during the first quarter of 1991 resulted in 1.2 million man days of work lost (mostly in the RSFSR and Ukraine) and that trend increased in April. (John Tedstrom) GOVERNMENT INVITES POLITICAL PARTIES FOR CONSULTATIONS. The USSR Cabinet of Ministers held discussions April 26-27 with members of various political parties on the cabinet's anti-crisis program and the Union treaty, Radio Rossii reported April 27. A wide spectrum of groups participated, from Democratic Russia to the hard-line United Front of Workers and the Orthodox Monarchist Union. Democratic Russia members quickly left the meeting, however, apparently finding themselves in the minority among members of anti-democratic groups. As on past occasions when the central government has invited members of new political groups for consultations, those parties (like the monarchists' union or the Liberal Democratic party) which in fact do not play a major role in the country's political arena tended to be over-represented. (Vera Tolz) CPSU POLITBURO CHANGES. A number of personnel changes were approved at the plenum of the CPSU Central Committee held on April 24-25, TASS reported April 26. Dzhumgalbek Amanbaev, appointed in early April to head the Communist Party in Kyrgyzstan, was coopted to the Central Committee and elected to the Politburo; his predecessor, Absamat Masaliev, was dropped. The head of the Moldavian Communist Party, Grigore Eremei, appointed to lead the Moldavian Communist Party in February, and Major-General Mikhail Surkov, appointed Secretary of the All-Army Party Committee at the end of March, were also elected to the Politburo. (Elizabeth Teague) OTHER CHANGES IN CPSU LEADERSHIP. Oleg Baklanov lost his post as Central Committee Secretary "in view of his appointment as deputy chairman of the Defense Council under the USSR President." Central Committee Secretary Valentin Falin was appointed chairman of the Central Committee's Commission for International Policy Issues. Finally, Stanislav Shatalin was deemed to have lost his Central Committee membership in view of the fact that he had quit the CPSU. (Elizabeth Teague) GORBACHEV REFUSES TO SIGN LABOR LEGISLATION. On April 26 the USSR Supreme Soviet sent an amendment to the USSR labor code to Gorbachev, who refused to sign it on the grounds that it conflicts with the USSR Law on Trade Unions, Radio Moscow reported that day. The amendment would have allowed management to dismiss employees without approval of the trade unions, while the law on trade unions requires that their permission be given. USSR Minister of Justice Sergei Lushchikov defended the amendment, arguing that managers have to be free to hire and fire workers. The Supreme Soviet will review the amendment sometime after May 1. The USSR Constitution permits Gorbachev to veto legislation; this occasion marks the first time that he has exercised this prerogative. (NCA/Dawn Mann) FOREIGN TRADE IN 1990. Reuters on April 28 cited the latest issue of Ekonomika i zhizn' on foreign trade statistics for 1990. The value of exports dropped from 68.8 billion rubles in 1989 to 60.9 billion rubles, while imports fell from 72.1 to 70.7 billion. In an accompanying commentary, it was noted that Soviet machinery exports were hopelessly uncompetitive on the world market, and that in the mid-1980s only 29% of Soviet mass-produced fabricates corresponded to world norms. The recently imposed 40% tax on hard-currency earnings has not exactly encouraged would-be Soviet exporters. (Keith Bush) PAVLOV TO BRUSSELS. Prime Minister Pavlov meets with Jacques Delors, President of the European Commission on April 29 to discuss European Community aid to Moscow. TASS noted on April 28 that the meeting is "unofficial." According to Oleg Belous, a Soviet embassy counsellor, the meeting will treat the question of a $1.3 billion food and technical assistance package worked out in Rome in December 1990, Reuters reported April 28. (Suzanne Crow) GORBACHEV ON JAPAN TRIP. Gorbachev defended the results of his trip to Japan speaking before the Supreme Soviet on April 26. Gorbachev insisted that "the results of the visit enable us to consider that a breakthrough in Soviet-Japanese relations is possible," TASS reported April 26. (Suzanne Crow) PRIMAKOV ON MIDEAST. Presidential Adviser Evgenii Primakov said in an interview with French Radio on April 28 that it is hard to see how success in the Middle East peace process can be achieved without including the PLO in talks. He said he perceived "positive" changes in U.S. Secretary of State James Baker's position on the peace process and applauded the United States' increased attention to the role of European countries and the PLO in the process. (NCA/Suzanne Crow) SOVIET KURDS HELPING IRAQI KURDS. Ethnic Kurds in the USSR are gathering supplies for Kurds in Iraq, Izvestia reported April 24. They are opening a special bank account that will be used for channelling relief aid to the Iraqi Kurds. Izvestia also said a delegation of Soviet Kurds met in Moscow with USSR Supreme Soviet deputies to discuss efforts to help the Kurds. The Supreme Soviet deputies said they stressed the rights of Iraqi Kurds to maintain a separate cultural identity. (NCA/Suzanne Crow) USSR-GERMAN DEAL ON URANIUM MINE. The German government said April 25 it will sign a treaty with Moscow giving Germany full ownership of a former East German uranium mine, half of which is owned by the Soviet Union. Moscow will surrender its 50% stake at no charge. In return, the Soviet side will not have to pay for cleaning up the polluted sites it left behind in the states of Saxony and Thuringia. The accord will be signed in May, Reuters reported April 25. (NCA/Suzanne Crow) GERMAN CONCERN OVER SOVIET CREDITWORTHINESS. Somewhat later than their colleagues in other Western countries, German bankers and officials are sounding the alarm about the low and sinking credit rating of the USSR. Axel Lebahn in Die Zeit of April 26 warned that there can be no more talk of a Soviet sovereign risk. Georg Krupp and Norbert Walter of Deutsche Bank advised audiences in Frankfurt and Washington against extending any further unbacked loans to the Soviet Union, and Walter disclosed that his bank has already set aside reserves to cover losses if Moscow defaults, The Financial Times of April 25 and NCA on April 26 reported. (Keith Bush) SOVIET TROOPS IN GERMANY. Soviet military authorities in Germany appealed to Bonn on April 26 to prevent criminals from escaping justice by deserting their units and claiming political asylum, Reuters reported. During a visit by the German Defense Minister to Soviet headquarters, the Commander-in-Chief of Soviet forces, Matvei Burlkakov, said that 177 Soviet soldiers and 92 dependents were missing. On April 28 Burlakov told Radio Rossii that, despite strained conditions, army units in Germany continued to train normally. He also said that many troops would depart Germany by way of Leningrad and Klaipeda, ultimately arriving in southern Ukraine and the northern Caucasus. (Stephen Foye) LUSHEV RELIEVED OF DUTIES. Gorbachev issued a decree on April 26 releasing Army General Petr Lushev from his duties as First Deputy Minister of Defense and as Commander-in-Chief of the Warsaw Pact. According to TASS, Lushev will transferred to "another job," but no further details were given. The Warsaw Pact's military structure was officially dissolved on March 31. (NCA/Stephen Foye) SURKOV ON ARMY'S COMMUNISTS. Major General Mikhail Surkov, recently elected Secretary of the All-Army Party Committee, told Novosti on April 26 that the number of servicemen entering the ranks of the Communist Party exceeds the number of those leaving. According to Surkov, in 1990 34,616 servicemen left the Party. Of those, roughly a third were officers, while 51% were non-officers. During the same period, however, 41,474 servicemen joined the Party. Of those, according to Surkov, 40% were officers, 45% were cadets from military academies, and only 3% were non-officers. (Stephen Foye) PHOTOGRAPHS OF NOVOCHERKASSK RIOTS PUBLISHED. Komsomol'skaya pravda of April 27 published photographs of the workers' riots in Novocherkassk in June 1962, AFP reported that day. Details of the riots and their bloody suppression had long been withheld from the public, until the same newspaper in June 1989 referred to the unrest and gave a death toll of 22-24. The latest revelation also reproduces a written promise from a soldier "to keep as a state secret" what he had witnessed during the crackdown. (Keith Bush) NEW PROGRAM TO COMBAT AIDS. The USSR Cabinet of Ministers is expected soon to adopt a state anti-AIDS program, according to Sovetskaya Rossiya of April 25, as cited by TASS of the same date. Although the current official figures are 619 HIV-positive and less than 60 "full-blown" AIDS patients in the USSR, experts are quoted as predicting 1.5 million HIV-positive cases by the year 2,000. This is attributed to the lack of medical equipment and to "extensive tourism." 21 children are said to be among those who have died from the disease, but a total death toll is not given by the TASS report. (Keith Bush) USSR - IN THE REPUBLICS YELTSIN IN KUZBASS. A plan to end the Kuzbass miners' strike was drafted at a weekend meeting in Moscow between RSFSR Supreme Soviet chairman Boris Yeltsin, representatives of the striking Kuzbass miners, and the interrepublican parliamentary group, news agencies reported April 26-28. The plan reportedly consists of juridical and financial measures and offers miners "an elegant solution." Yeltsin will personally present the plan to miners tonight in Novokuznetsk and will stay in the Kuzbass to celebrate the May 1 holiday. The Kuzbass strike committee sent a telegram to Yeltsin last week demanding an explanation of last week's joint declaration; on April 28 a spokesman said, "We are hoping this visit will not leave us empty-handed. If [Yeltsin] says he thinks there is a solution we don't expect his words to be empty." (Dawn Mann) 50 MILLION WORKERS STAGE SYMBOLIC STRIKE IN RSFSR. According to TASS April 26, some 50 million workers in the RSFSR participated in symbolic one-hour work stoppages or in meetings on Friday, in response to calls issued by the Federation of Independent Russian Trade Unions and Democratic Russia. Participation was fairly even across the Russian Federation, with the exception of Moscow, where only a few work collectives were reported to have supported the strike call. Supporters of the Democratic Russia movement plan to hold a rally today in Moscow to support striking miners and Yeltsin, Radio Rossii reported April 28. (Dawn Mann) DEMOCRATIC RUSSIA NOMINATES YELTSIN FOR PRESIDENT. The Democratic Russia movement nominated Boris Yeltsin as its candidate for the upcoming presidential elections in the RSFSR, TASS reported April 27. While nominating Yeltsin, however, several leaders of the movement criticized him for signing a joint declaration with Mikhail Gorbachev last week. TASS quoted Professor Yurii Afanas'ev as saying that "we should support Yeltsin, but nevertheless say the truth about the declaration he signed." (Vera Tolz) BAKATIN REPORTED TO RUN FOR RUSSIAN PRESIDENCY. Former liberal MVD chief Vadim Bakatin was reportedly nominated by the CPSU as candidate for the RSFSR presidential election, DPA quoted Nezavisimaya gazeta (April 27) as saying. The newspaper reportedly cited unidentified "trustworthy sources" for the information. (Vera Tolz) RSFSR SUPREME SOVIET SUPPORTS JOINT DECLARATION. On April 26, the RSFSR Supreme Soviet supported the declaration on anti-crisis measures signed April 23 by Mikhail Gorbachev and leaders of nine Union republics, including Yeltsin. A special resolution of the Russian parliament, supported by 152 deputies with seven against, stressed the need to start introducing on the territory of the RSFSR the anti-crisis measures stipulated in the declaration. TASS quoted the resolution of the parliament as calling for the acceleration of work on the Union treaty and urging workers in the republic to refrain from actions of "civil disobedience." (Vera Tolz) OTHER RSFSR REACTIONS TO DECLARATION. Igor' Klochkov, chairman of the RSFSR Independent Federation of Trade Unions, praised the April 23 joint declaration, Trud reported April 26. He added, however, that the declaration alone was not enough to stop strikes, and that people demand concrete "measures, rather than declarations." He said his federation would not call for work stoppages in agriculture or in vital industries. But he said "where strikes are not banned by law, work collectives can do so." In his reaction to the declaration, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party Vladimir Zhirinovsky condemned those six republics that did not sign the document. Central TV quoted Zhirinovsky on April 27 as saying the president and the central government should immediately outlaw those organizations whose aim is to split the Soviet Union. (Vera Tolz) SPLIT IN DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF RUSSIA. A congress of the Democratic Party of Russia, which ended in Moscow April 28, was marked by sharp debates and ended in several leading members leaving the party. TASS reported that a clash occurred between the head of the party, Nikolai Travkin, and a leader of the opposition group within the party, chess champion Garri Kasparov. The two exchanged accusations of conducting wrong policies. The leadership of the party and the opposition group proposed two different party programs for adoption at the congress. After the majority voted for the leadership's program, Kasparov and another opposition leader, Arkadii Murashev, announced their decision to leave the organization. (Vera Tolz) STUDENTS DEMAND IMPROVEMENT OF STATUS. A recently created Council of the Federation for the Solution of Problems of Students organized a mass rally in Leningrad April 27, Radio Moscow-1 reported. Three thousand participants in the demonstration demanded an increase in stipends up to 190 rubles. A similar demonstration was planned April 26 in Moscow, but the Moscow city soviet denied students permission to demonstrate in front of its headquarters. It proposed the entrance to the Gorky park as a possible place for the demonstration, but the students did not find it satisfactory and called of the rally altogether, TASS reported April 26. (Vera Tolz) URALMASH WORKERS VOTE FOR DEPOLITIZATION. Workers at the giant Uralmash heavy-machine building factory in Sverdlovsk in the Urals have voted to ban organized political activity on plant premises, TASS reported April 26. This was the result of a trailblazing referendum in which 65% of Uralmash's 50,000 workers took part; TASS said nearly 87% of those polled voted for the ban. First to be hit by the ban will be the CPSU, which has until now had its own office space and permanent staff paid for by the factory. This is an important decision, likely to be followed by other plants in the Urals. (Elizabeth Teague) LENINGRAD UNEMPLOYMENT TO TOP 50,000. Leningradskaya pravda of March 27 (just arrived in Munich) reports offical Leningrad soviet forecasts of unemployment of more than 50,000 persons in 1991. An additional 10,000 workers in the surrounding areas within Leningrad oblast will also likely lose their jobs. There are currently only 6,000 vacant positions in the city, only 500 of which are for engineers and technical workers. Positions for engineers were down in January 1991 alone by about 3,000 due to a reduction of arms production in Leningrad factories. That trend should continue and will have to be made up by shifting production to civilian goods--an increasingly difficult process in the chaotic Soviet economy. (John Tedstrom) PROTESTS IN SIBERIA. Residents in Chita (East Siberia) blocked their main street April 27 to protest a lack of milk deliveries to the town of 350,000. TASS reported the same day that virtually all food products are in short supply in Chita. TASS did not report the size of the protest, but said that city officials promised to correct the situation. (NCA/John Tedstrom) BELORUSSIAN STRIKES END. Most striking workers in Minsk, Orsha, and elsewhere in Belorussia went back to work April 26, heeding a call by protest leaders to suspend the strikes until the republican Supreme Soviet goes into session on May 21. The decision of the Minsk Strike Committee was apparently prompted in part by fear of violence. In addition, it became clear that the strikers' main demand--that the parliament call an emergency session--would not be met. But the Washington Post and other newspapers on April 27 and 28 quoted labor activists as saying that the experiences of this month will be used to broaden and systemize an independent workers' movement in Belorussia. (Kathy Mihalisko) UKRAINIAN SUPREME SOVIET ON CHERNOBYL. The Ukrainian Supreme Soviet marked the fifth anniversary of the Chernobyl catastrophe with a minute's silence and an appeal to the population, Radio Kiev and Ukrinform-TASS reported April 26. The appeal says that in Ukraine alone about two million people were threatened by radiation and thousands died, resulting in a "national tragedy." The Ukrainian parliament, the statement added, is doing everything in its power to aid the victims and will continue to demand that the government in Moscow fulfills its obligations. (Roman Solchanyk) GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT VOTES TO ABOLISH TSKHINVALI RAION. Radio Tbilisi reported April 27 that the Georgian parliament had voted to abolish Tskhinvali raion in the former South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast (which was abolished as a separate autonomous formation last December). The territory of the former Tskhinvali raion will be subsumed into the neighbouring Gori raion which lies outside the borders of the South Ossetian AO. (Liz Fuller) TURKISH ELECTRICITY FOR NAKHICHEVAN. AFP April 27 quoted a government spokesman in Ankara as disclosing that Turkey will begin supplying electricity next month to the Nakhichevan ASSR of Azerbaijan as part of an agreement signed in Baku the previous day between Turkish energy minister Fahrettin Kurt and the Azerbaijani Prime Minister Gasan Gasanov. (Liz Fuller) ARMENIAN CP REFUSES TO GIVE UP HEADQUARTERS. At the third stage of its congress April 28 (the two preceding stages were held in September and November last year) the Armenian CP voted not to hand over the Party headquarters building in Erevan, in defiance of an Armenian parliament resolution of April 17 on the nationalization of all Communist Party property, TASS reported April 28. (Liz Fuller) MOLDAVIAN LIBRARIES GET RID OF COMMUNIST PROPAGANDA. A conference of Moldavian librarians discussed the implementation of instructions from the republic's Ministry of Culture to "end the politicization and ideologization of libraries," Moldovapres reported April 25. Works of Marxism-Leninism and communist propaganda are to be replaced on the shelves by books from the "national literature" and "world culture." Acquisition of propaganda materials of any political party from library or other public funds has been discontinued. (Vladimir Socor) MOLDAVIA A SCENE OF "WAR ON MONUMENTS". TASS reported April 24 on widespread "vandalism" against Soviet monuments in Moldavia, resulting in damage to Lenin statues and to Red Army monuments. According to TASS, a "war on monuments has become a routine phenomenon in Moldavia". (Vladimir Socor) MOLDAVIAN-JEWISH PROJECT ON MONUMENTS. In an interview with Radio Free Europe in Washington, aired April 27, Moldavia's Minister of Culture and Religious Affairs Ion Ungureanu announced a project to catalogue and restore Jewish historic monuments, synagogues, and cemeteries in Moldavia. Moldavia wants to enable Jews originating there, "wherever they may live today, to visit these monuments in the land where their ancestors or relatives once lived." Moldavia has been a major source of Jewish emigration to the West and Israel for the past century. (Vladimir Socor) ROMANIA SETS UP SPECIAL BODY ON RELATIONS WITH MOLDAVIA. The Romanian Foreign Ministry is setting up an Under-Secretariat of State for Relations with the Republic of Moldavia, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, cited by Rompres, announced April 25. The new body will "provide a direct and permanent link between the Romanian and the Moldavian authorities" and "oversee economic, cultural, political, and human exchanges." It will also "closely watch the republic's internal developments, its relations with the center,... [and] Moldavia's relations with other states, supporting Moldavia's assertion in the European and international arena, and observing the reactions of other states to Moldavia's steps toward sovereignty and independence." (Vladimir Socor) UZBEK POPULAR FRONT HEADQUARTERS CLOSED BY AUTHORITIES. Soviet authorities have closed the Uzbek popular front "Birlik"'s headquarters in Tashkent, saying that the office is a fire hazard. "Birlik" co-chairman Bekjan Tashmuhammadov told RFE-RL by phone on April 26 that he believes this is a pretext for hampering the front's operation. He added that the office had been shut down for the previous 20 days. Tashmuhammadov said that authorities had closed "Birlik"'s headquarters for 17 days in March that coincided with the holding of the all-Union referendum on the USSR's future. Shuhrat Ismatullayev, the front's other co-chairman, says the front is fighting an effort by local judicial officials to seize the building. (NCA/Uzbek BD)
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.