|The fool wonders, the wise man asks. - Benjamin Disraeli|
No. 83, 30 April 1991
BALTIC STATES LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT DEPUTY CHAIRMAN IN ITALY. Deputy Chairman of the Lithuanian Supreme Council Bronius Kuzmickas has been visiting Italy, Radio Independent Lithuania reported on April 29. Kuzmickas and Lithuanian Minister of Industry Rimvydas Jasinavicius met Italian Prime Minister Andreotti on April 27 and explained Lithuania's efforts to achieve independence. Andreotti urged Lithuania to negotiate peacefully with the USSR, and said he would welcome Lithuanian leader Vytautas Landsbergis if he were to visit Rome. On April 29 the Lithuanians were to travel to Parma to meet Italian businessmen and industrialists and professors at the university. (Saulius Girnius) SOVIET COMMERCIAL BANK IN LITHUANIA ILLEGAL. Radio Independent Lithuania reported on April 29 that the Naujoji Vilnia Commercial Bank, seized by Soviet troops on April 24, was conducting business illegally because it was not registered with the Lithuanian authorities. The Lithuanian government said that the bank was issuing credits and supplying funds to organizations and enterprises not registered in Lithuania and exacerbating inflation in the republic. The government said that if the USSR government did not halt these illegal activities, Lithuania would be forced to introduce its own currency. (Saulius Girnius) LITHUANIAN DEFENSE DEPARTMENT GUARDS CAN USE FIREARMS. The Lithuanian government has issued orders granting guards of the Lithuanian Defense Department protecting the parliament, the government building, the Bank of Lithuania and its branches, as well as other sites considered vital by the government the same rights to use firearms, when under attack, as Lithuanian Ministry of Internal Affairs members have, Radio Independent Lithuania reported on April 29. (Saulius Girnius) ATTEMPTED SELF-IMMOLATION IN VILNIUS. On April 29 Rolandas Valavicius, a 20-year old worker from Kaunas, poured gasoline over his body and ignited himself by the Lenin monument in Vilnius. He was hospitalized with burns over 50% of his body. In an interview with the VOA Lithuanian Service that day, he said that he had attempted the self-immolation to bring world attention to the situation in Lithuania. His condition remains serious, but if it improves he would be transferred to a special burn unit in Kaunas. (Saulius Girnius) POLAND INVITES BALTIC STATES TO CSCE CULTURAL CONFERENCE. At a press conference on April 26 Jerzy Makarczyk, secretary of state at the Polish Foreign Ministry, said that Poland believes that Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia should be given the opportunity to participate in the CSCE process, PAP reported that day. He said that Poland, as host to the CSCE Cultural Congress in Krakow on June 5, had already invited Lithuania to attend as a guest of the Polish delegation. (Saulius Girnius) LATVIAN RED CROSS CONGRESS. The Latvian Red Cross at its congress on April 26 adopted a declaration addressed to the International Red Cross asking for the reestablishment of the Latvian organization as an independent entity as it was in 1920-1940, Diena reported that day. The congress announced that it was leaving the USSR Red Cross and adopted new statutes with the goal of reestablishing the 7 basic principles of the International Red Cross. The Latvian Red Cross will focus its activities on the protection of human rights, aid to socially-unprotected residents, and support for Latvia's independence. (Saulius Girnius) USSR - ALL-UNION TOPICS DID GORBACHEV CUT A DEAL WITH REPUBLICS? Kommersant on April 28 reported that a secret memorandum was signed at the joint meeting between Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and nine republican leaders on April 23, according to which Gorbachev agreed to respect the precedence of republican law over all-Union law in the future. He allegedly also agreed that the Union Treaty would be negotiated among the republics themselves, with the center playing a minimal role in the negotiations. The President's press center denied the existence of a secret memorandum in a separate statement, broadcast by TASS on April 29. (Alexander Rahr) PAVLOV VISITS DELORS. On his recently concluded visit to Brussels, Soviet Prime Minister Valantin Pavlov held discussions with a number of dignitaries, including Jacques Delors. The meeting with the president of the European Commission focused on the general question of opening the doors of the "European House" to the Soviet Union, according to Soviet Central Television (TSN), April 30. The discussions, which were described by the Soviet media as "negotiations", concerned trade and economic and commercial cooperation. Although Pavlov has yet to speak in detail about his impressions of the meetings publicly, his general assessment was upbeat. (John Tedstrom) OIL AND GAS WORKERS' UNION TO FOLLOW COAL MINERS? Vladimir Sedenko, chairman of the trade union for the Soviet oil and gas industry, said that at an April 16 meeting the union decided to form a committee to begin negotiations with the USSR government. The negotiations are in response to the government's failure to improve social and economic conditions in the sector, according to Sedenko who made his remarks on Radio Moscow, April 29. Sedenko said that only questions of secondary importance have been addressed by the central leadership and the tension in the oil and gas industry is deepening. (John Tedstrom) WHAT THE OIL AND GAS SECTOR WANTS. Recently, Gorbachev issued a decree on measures to stabilize the country's oil and gas industry. These measures do not, however, resolve fundamental concerns of the sector's workers such as financing, ownership, material and technical supplies, and provisions of food and consumer basics. This comes at a time when the industry is facing a severe deterioration in output and profitability. Negotiations with Western firms for investment projects are showing some results, but most Western firms remain wary of the Soviet market. Oil production was down 6% in 1990 and is down by 9% in the first quarter of 1991, which has seriously restricted foreign income earnings. (John Tedstrom) DRILLING STARTS AT TENGIZ. Drilling operations at up to a dozen wells in the Tengiz oilfield in Kazakhstan have commenced, according to The Journal of Commerce April 30. The Tengiz operation, which has been the subject of negotiation for several years, is expected to be a joint venture between the Chevron Corporation and the Kazakh SSR, and is anticipated eventually to yield between 30 and 35 million tons of oil a year plus natural gas. How any hard-currency earnings accruing to the Soviet side will be shared between Moscow and the republic has not yet been resolved. (Keith Bush) GRAIN LOAN REQUEST REJECTED? The US Administration is expected to reject the Soviet request for an additional $1.5 billion's worth of secured credits to purchase American grain and feedstuffs, The Washington Post reported April 30. The new credits, to have been backed by the Commodity Credit Corporation, were in addition to the $1 billion offered by the US in December 1990, and were requested in a letter from President Gorbachev in March. The reason reportedly given by President Bush was the poor credit rating of the Soviet Union, but he is quoted as hinting at other sources of funding. The Soviet Union is believed to require as much imported grain in 1991 as it can finance. (Keith Bush) MFA SLAMS SUPSOV. The Soviet Foreign Ministry's second annual survey of diplomatic activity has appeared in Mezhdunarodnaya zhizn' (No. 3). The prologue states "...it should be noted that the USSR Supreme Soviet not only did not require the presentation of such detailed accounts and their publication, but, essentially, it did not react at all to the MFA's surveys. If our legislators, elected organs, executive authorities, and society do not have a basis of information and knowledge, it is difficult to expect them to take well-grounded, well-thought out and calculated decisions. They replace them with improvisations, solutions which are not professional but amateur....This will cost the country and its citizens dearly." (Suzanne Crow) PRIMAKOV ON GULF WAR, SADDAM HUSSEIN. In an interview with the French CP newspaper L'Humanite published April 29, Presidential adviser Evgenii Primakov said he still believes that "the decision to give the green light to the use of force [against Iraq] was premature. This war could have been avoided." Primakov assigned the greatest share of blame for the war to Saddam Hussein, who "made errors of judgment." On the American side, however, Primakov asserted that "there were forces that wanted to wage war. But, in my opinion, President Bush was not among them, at least not at the time of the Helsinki summit with Mikhail Gorbachev." Asked to explain why Saddam Hussein remains in power after Iraq's defeat, Primakov replied, "he is a reality of Iraqi life." (Sallie Wise) PRAVDA ON KURDISH REFUGEES. A Pravda commentary entitled "Once More, the Scent of Gunpowder?" criticized the United States and other Western countries involved in relief efforts to help the Kurds in northern Iraq, saying "it brings a serious element of tension" into the situation. "The threat of the application of force is not a better means of helping the refugees. Such means will hardly succeed in moving forward and settling the problem of the Kurds, especially in view of the success, achieved in negotiations in Baghdad [between the government of Iraq and the leaders of the Kurds] and the energetic efforts of the General Secretary of the UN," TASS reported April 29. (Suzanne Crow) SOVIET-CHINESE BORDER TALKS. The Soviet Union and China completed their fifth round of border talks on April 29. TASS's report (April 29) noted that republican delegations from the RSFSR, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan took part in the talks. The negotiations resulted in the initialling of an agreement between the Soviet Union and China on the eastern part of their border. Soviet Foreign Ministry spokesman Vitalii Churkin said April 29 that the two countries had approved a reduction of troops along a part of their border. No further details were provided. (NCA/Suzanne Crow) SOVIET SENTRY SHOT DEAD IN GERMANY. A spokesman for the Brandenburg state police said on April 29 that an eighteen-year-old Soviet sentry was found shot dead near a military exercise zone outside the village of Schweinichen, about 60 miles northwest of Berlin. According to a Reuter report, the sentry's automatic rifle and sixty rounds of ammunition were missing, but there were no clues as to the killer's identity. The incident follows by only ten days the wounding of a German officer by a Soviet sentry, and comes three days after a visit to Soviet forces headquarters by German Defense Minister Gerhard Stoltenberg. (Stephen Foye) THE WITHDRAWAL FROM POLAND: WHO IS MAKING POLICY? In an interview appearing in Izvestia on April 15, a top-ranking Foreign Ministry official implied that the military High Command now has veto power over decisions made with respect to the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Poland. V. Koptel'tsev, identified as deputy chief of a Foreign Ministry directorate and head of the Soviet delegation in Poland, said that "we [the diplomats] do not decide a single question without the soldiers." He claimed to fully support this process, saying that it is time to end the conflict between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Soviet armed forces. (Stephen Foye) MILITARY SCHOOLS FACE PROBLEMS. In Krasnaya zvezda of 19 April, one of the Defense Ministry's top personnel officers details the many problems facing military schools. According to Colonel General Aleksei Mironov, applications to military academies have fallen significantly in recent years, even as the number of drop-outs has risen (from 10% in the past to 18% in 1990). Mironov pointed to the mass media and growing pacifism in Soviet society as one reason for the plunge in applications, but also strongly criticized recruiters in the various military districts and military commanders who fail to nominate the most deserving junior officers for admission to military schools. (Stephen Foye) AKHROMEEV DEFENDS THE ARMY. Novoe vremya No. 15 carries a long interview with Marshal Sergei Akhromeev that is full of interesting comments on his view of the army's proper domestic role. Most noteworthy is Akhromeev's argument that the use of army units in policing actions is fully consistent with the Soviet constitution. Akhromeev accuses democratic forces--including Boris Yeltsin and pro-independence groups in the republics--of acting unconstitutionally in order to achieve their personal ambitions. Akhromeev denies that the Politburo still commands the army while blaming Aleksandr Yakovlev for the "Lithuanian problem" and the "anti-army campaign" for the rise of the Viktor Alksnis. (Stephen Foye) RODIONOV ON MILITARY DOCTRINE. Colonel General Igor' Rodionov, a hard-liner best known for his implication in the Tbilisi massacre, provides an analysis of Soviet military doctrine in Number 3 of Voennaya mysl' that is an odd combination of conservatism, pragmatism, and new political thinking. The conservatism is evident in his argument that domestic reform has undermined national security and that "war prevention" through political means is meaningless if not backed by military power. More interesting is his pragmatic assertion that the technical side of Soviet military doctrine has been offensive in the past--a result of Soviet foreign policy being based too heavily on ideology. (Stephen Foye) NUMBER OF ANONYMOUS LETTERS RISING. One of Gorbachev's early reforms was a ruling that officials should ignore anonimki (anonymous letters, notorious for their undertones of Stalinist denunciations), and one of the effects of glasnost' was said to be a marked fall in the number of such letters received by Soviet newspapers. Now Pravda (April 22) reports a worrying increase in the number of anonymous letters it is receiving. Many of these letters, Pravda says, complain about the awfulness of present-day Soviet life. Pravda blames this on what it alleges is the atmosphere of lawlessness introduced by the "democrats." If more liberal newspapers report the same trend, it will suggest that the clampdown on glasnost' is beginning to have an effect on the population and that Soviet citizens are again becoming afraid to sign what they write. (Elizabeth Teague) PAMYAT' LEADER COMMITS SUICIDE. Konstantin Smirnov- Ostashvili, who headed a radical faction of the Pamyat' organization, committed suicide on April 26, TASS reported April 29. Smirnov-Ostashvili was serving a two-year sentence at a labor camp near Tver' following his October 12 conviction of violating a new law prohibiting the incitement of inter-ethnic enmity. He and a group of Pamyat' members insulted Jewish writers and smashed furniture during a January 1990 meeting of the "April" society at the Central House of Writers in Moscow. (Dawn Mann) PAPAL NUNCIO ON CATHOLIC CHURCH IN USSR. A TASS correspondent reported on April 28 from Rome that the Vatican's official envoy to the USSR, archbishop Francesco Colasuonno, spoke on April 27 in Bari on the situation of the Catholic Church in the Soviet Union. The archbishop said that the appointment of new bishops in the USSR created structures in the church hierarchy in the Soviet Union which, in his view, would facilitate a visit by Pope John Paul II to the Soviet Union. But he added that no date for such a visit has been set yet. (Oxana Antic) USSR - IN THE REPUBLICS YELTSIN ADDRESSES MINERS. At his meeting Monday evening in Novokuznetsk with some 600 miners and local officials, RSFSR Supreme Soviet Chairman Boris Yeltsin was quoted by TASS April 29 as having said that the agreement he and eight other republican leaders signed last week recognizes the republics as sovereign states and grants increased political and economic autonomy to the republics. Yeltsin clearly thinks that these changes, plus the promise of early elections, should satisfy the miners' political demands. The miners reportedly disagreed with some (unspecified) aspects of the draft document Yeltsin presented to them, and a special commission is hammering out details. The miners' strike could be suspended by the weekend, strike committee member Aleksandr Smirnov told Reuters April 29. The miners supported Yeltsin's candidacy for the RSFSR presidency. (Dawn Mann) DEMOCRATIC RUSSIA HOLDS ONE RALLY, CANCELS ANOTHER. Thousands of Muscovites demonstrated in favor of Yeltsin on April 29 and signed petitions in support of his candidacy for the post of Russian President, according to AP that day. The demonstration was organized by the Democratic Russia Movement. Initially, the movement wanted to join the independent Moscow trade union organization in their rally during the official Red Square May 1 demonstration. The trade unions, however, rejected the radical slogans of Democratic Russia, which call for Gorbachev's resignation. (Alexander Rahr) MOSCOW TO ELECT A MAYOR ON JUNE 12. At an emergency session held April 29, the Moscow city soviet decided to hold mayoral elections on June 12, Izvestia reported April 29. Moscow residents will also be polled on merging the city with the surrounding region to create a single unit with a population of some 16 million and unified residence permit, trade, supply, and consumer services systems. Chairman Gavril Popov told the session that the draft USSR law on the status of Moscow is unacceptable because it renders the city government almost powerless. He argued in favor of the proposal submitted by the RSFSR Supreme Soviet Presidium, which would give Moscow more power. (Dawn Mann) RESIDENTS TO DECIDE ON RENAMING LENINGRAD. On June 12, the day of the presidential elections in the RSFSR, residents of Leningrad will be asked to express their opinion on whether the city of Leningrad should take back its old name of St. Petersburg, Radio Rossii reported April 27. The decision to hold this referendum was taken by the Leningrad city Soviet. Commenting on the decision, Moskovsky komsomolets (April 27) joked that if a majority supports restoration of the old name, the city's CPSU headquarters would be called "St. Petersburg Obkom." (Vera Tolz) TRAVKIN WANTS DPR TO PLAY "CENTRIST ROLE". Nikolai Travkin, leader of the Democratic Party of Russia (DPR), welcomed the joint declaration between Gorbachev and nine republican leaders because it opens the way to a complete overhaul of the central organs of power. TASS on April 26 quoted him as saying that his party will initiate the creation of a bloc of democratic parties in Russia to oppose Communists in elections. Travkin described the DPR as a "centrist force" between the left and the right in the USSR. Last weekend, Travkin's move away from radical demands led to a split in the DPR (see Daily Report, April 29). In an interview with Radio Moscow on April 28, Travkin minimalized the split, stressing that only a few delegates have actually left the DPR. (Alexander Rahr) RUMYANTSEV, AKSYUCHITS FAVOR ROUNDTABLE TALKS. Writing in The Independent on April 27, the leader of the Russian Social Democratic Party, Oleg Rumyantsev, called for a coalition government and roundtable talks between Communists and democrats, like those in Eastern Europe in 1988 and 1989, to prevent revolutionary chaos. He criticized radical democrats and reactionary Communists who reject a coalition which, in his opinion, could become an "umbrella for the vanishing monopoly of the Communist Party, thus assuring that its departure is peaceful." Viktor Aksyuchits, leader of the Russian Christian Democrats, also welcomed the idea of a roundtable at which the democratic forces would play a role in democratizing the all-union state, according to a Radio Rossii report April 29. (Alexander Rahr) EARTHQUAKE HITS GEORGIA. At least 63 people died and 200 were injured when an earthquake measuring at least 6.9 on the Richter scale hit central Georgia yesterday. The epicenter was near the raion center of Dzhava in the disputed former South Ossetian AO. Georgian officials say that over 75% of all buildings were destroyed in Dzhava and the small towns of Oni, Sachkhere, and Ambrolauri. Although the tremor was slightly stronger than that which devastated Armenia in December, 1988, killing up to 50,000, the death toll in Georgia is likely to be far lower: the Armenian quake caused greatest damage in Leninakan and Kirovakan, the second- and third-largest cities in the republic, where thousands died in collapsed high-rise apartment blocks. The Georgian quake affected a more sparsely populated area with fewer modern buildings. (Liz Fuller) EIGHT KILLED IN ETHNIC CLASH IN CHECHEN-INGUSHETIA. Eight people were killed in clashes April 28 between Chechen-Ingush and Cossacks in a Cossack settlement 80 kilometers from Grozny in the Chechen-Ingush ASSR, TASS reported April 29. Sixteen others received stab or bullet wounds. The incident reportedly took place outside a hospital where two Chechen-Ingush youths were recovering from injuries received in a fight with Cossacks the previous day. (Liz Fuller) MVD COLONEL KILLED BY MISTAKE? Rabochaya tribuna April 26 quotes an Armenian official as suggesting that V. Blakhotin, the MVD Colonel shot dead in Rostov April 8 allegedly by adherents of an Armenian charitable organization, may have been mistaken by his killers for General V. Safonov, former MVD commanding officer in Nagorno-Karabakh. Blakhotin was of similar build to Safonov and their car license plates differed by only one digit. (Liz Fuller) UKRAINIAN SUPSOV ANNOUNCES EMERGENCY ECONOMIC PROGRAM. Acknowledging that the republic has no such program as of yet, the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet intends, starting in May, to increase existing income compensation and to introduce income indexation later on, Radio Mayak reported April 30. Measures will include the following: Union enterprises in the republic will be nationalized; free state financing of industry will be replaced with normal credit, except in the social sphere; the social security system will be restructured towards self-financing by workers and enterprises; all those wishing to farm privately will receive land; taxation will be restructured to stimulate productivity; and the introduction of a parallel currency unit will begin. (Valentyn Moroz) MOLDAVIAN CONSCRIPTS' DEATH TOLL UP. Citing "official sources," Moldavian TV reported April 25 that the death toll of Moldavian servicemen in the USSR armed forces has risen to 19 since January 1, 1991. Moldavia's Department for Military Affairs has meanwhile confirmed the figure, citing data received from the USSR military commissariat for the republic. Moldavia last September suspended the obligation of its citizens to serve in the USSR armed forces, revoked the suspension in January, 1991, as part of an abortive political compromise with Moscow, and reinstated the suspension on April 12, this time with the added option for conscripts to serve in the newly-established Moldavian Corps of Carabinieri. (Vladimir Socor). INCIDENT SPARKS ANTI-MILITARY PROTESTS IN MOLDAVIA. Another bout of anti-military sentiment is agitating Moldavia after an incident April 22, in which a convoy of armored personnel carriers apparently ran into a funeral procession of peasants on a country road, killing a woman and gravely wounding a man. Following ample coverage of the incident by the republican media, the military prosecutor of the Kishinev garrison and the political officer of the regiment in question turned to TASS April 26 to set things straight. According to the two officers, it seems that it was the wounded man who pushed the woman under the wheels of an armored personnel carrier. The man was drunk besides, and he was shouting anti-Soviet slogans anyway. (Vladimir Socor) ROMANIAN LADIES' SOCIETY REVIVED IN NORTH BUKOVINA. The founding conference of the "Society of Romanian Ladies in Bukovina" was held in North Bukovina's regional capital Chernovtsy, in the presence of delegates from Romania's province of South Bukovina, Rompres reported April 25. Reviving the organization of the same name from the pre-Soviet period, the Society aims to foster the Romanian language, culture, folk traditions, and religious life in North Bukovina. (Vladimir Socor) [as of 1300 CET] Compiled by Patrick Moore and Sallie Wise
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