The fool wonders, the wise man asks. - Benjamin Disraeli
RFE/RL Daily Report

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


[English] [Russian TRANS | KOI8 | ALT | WIN | MAC | ISO5]

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