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No. 85, 03 May 1991
BALTIC STATES BALTIC LEADERS TO MEET PRESIDENT BUSH. According to an RFE/RL correspondent's report from Washington of May 3, President George Bush plans to meet at the White House on May 8 with Estonian Prime Minister Edgar Savisaar, Latvian Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis, and Chairman of the Lithuanian Supreme Council Vytautas Landsbergis. This would be the first time that the US president has held a meeting with all three Baltic leaders at the same time. On May 7, the Baltic leaders are expected to testify at a public hearing held by the US Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. (Dzintra Bungs) GORBUNOVS ON LATVIAN INDEPENDENCE DECLARATION. Anatolijs Gorbunovs, Chairman of the Latvian Supreme Council, told RFE/RL correspondent Mikhail Bombin on May 2 that the past year, since Latvia declared on May 4, 1990 its intention to reestablish an independent and democratic republic outside the framework of the USSR, has been "difficult, but constructive." Gorbunovs noted that Latvia has started work on a market economy, privatization, and land reform. He said that its next task is restoring state sovereignty, beginning with law enforcement, and that work on legislation moving in that direction is well advanced. (Jean Riollot and Dzintra Bungs) AMOUNT OF LATVIA'S CONTRIBUTION TO USSR BUDGET STILL UNCLEAR. Radio Moscow reported on April 27 that agreement had been reached with the Soviet authorities that Latvia would contribute 350 million rubles to the USSR budget. According to Latvian media dispatches (Diena of April 29 and Radio Riga of April 30), however, this report is inaccurate: the USSR Finance Ministry asked Latvia to contribute 350 million rubles, but the Latvian Minister of Finance Elmars Silins said that Latvia could only come up with 318 million rubles. In addition, Moscow has asked Latvia to provide over 400 million rubles to help cover the USSR budget deficit. A reply from Moscow is still being awaited. (Dzintra Bungs) LANDSBERGIS ON TRIP TO US. Chairman of the Lithuanian Supreme Soviet Vytautas Landsbergis on May 2 told the parliament in a session broadcast live over Radio Independent Lithuania that he would travel to the US on May 5. On May 7 he will speak at a hearing of the US CSCE that will focus on the status of the Baltic independence movements. On May 8 he will meet President George Bush. He will then fly to Los Angeles where he will meet with various organizations and speak at the Nixon Library. On May 11 he will receive an honorary doctorate from Loyola University in Chicago. His planned meeting with German Foreign Minister Hans Dietrich Genscher has been postponed to mid-May or June due to the tense situation in Lithuania. (Saulius Girnius) LITHUANIAN GOVERNMENT ECONOMIC PROGRAM. At the same parliament session, Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius spoke about his government's economic program. He said that the government has approved a number of decrees on the prices of agricultural products and the planned sale of land and apartments, to be published in the Lithuanian press. He predicted that Lithuania will make great strides toward creating a market economy by July. The prices paid for agricultural goods in Lithuania are considerably higher than in neighboring republics, and he warned that collective farms unable to reform sufficiently will not be bailed out by the government. (Saulius Girnius) CZECH HELSINKI GROUP CALLS FOR LITHUANIAN INFORMATION OFFICE. On May 1 the Czech Republic's Helsinki Citizens Committee sent a letter to Czechoslovak Prime Minister Marian Calfa asking for the establishment of a Lithuanian Information Office in Prague, CTK reported that day. The letter also called for the opening of a Czechoslovak Information Office in Vilnius. The establishment of the information offices is seen as a step toward diplomatic recognition of Lithuania's independence. (Saulius Girnius) PARLIAMENT VISITS TO LITHUANIA. Radio Independent Lithuania reported this morning (May 3) that two parliament delegations are currently visiting Vilnius. Norwegian parliamentarians are meeting with Lithuanian parliament deputies and representatives of the Lithuanian Independence and Christian Democratic Parties, and will meet Landsbergis this evening. A delegation from the European parliament met with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Algirdas Saudargas and Prime Minister Vagnorius. They will later meet with Lithuanian Catholic Church officials and are scheduled to hold a press conference this evening. Both delegations will conduct further talks tomorrow. (Saulius Girnius) USSR - ALL-UNION TOPICS DIRECT USSR PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS NEXT SPRING? Soviet citizens may elect their new President at the beginning of 1992--not 1995, as the present Constitution would have required. RSFSR Supreme Soviet Chairman Boris Yeltsin told Radio Rossii on April 30 that this was decided at the dacha meeting between Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and nine republican leaders on April 23. The published statement included a clause providing for new elections to "the Union bodies of power" but did not specifically mention presidential elections. But Sergei Grigor'ev--a Gorbachev aide--confirmed in an interview with The Washington Post on May 1 that elections could be held in the spring of next year, assuming that a new constitution is adopted this fall. (Alexander Rahr) YAZOV IN CHINA. Soviet Defense Minister Dmitrii Yazov arrived in Beijing today (May 3) marking the first official visit of a Soviet military official to China. The visit is made at Beijing's invitation, TASS reported May 2. Originally Yazov was supposed to travel to China on March 4, but the trip was abruptly cancelled on February 28 and not rescheduled until just before Yazov's departure yesterday. TASS did not note how long Yazov will stay in China or what his itinerary looks like. (Suzanne Crow) REAL NORMALIZATION. There has been a flurry of activity between China and the USSR of late: China has expressed interest in buying aircraft from the USSR and willingness to extend credits to the USSR, and there have been a number of visits in just the last few months by Soviet defense industry officials, CPSU figures, Foreign Minister Aleksandr Bessmertnykh, and now Yazov. And Chinese CP leader Jiang Zemin will visit Moscow on May 15. (Suzanne Crow) SOVIET ROLE IN MIDEAST. Soviet political commentators are taking pains to note that the USSR is still playing an important role in the Middle East and is not being overshadowed by US diplomatic efforts there. A Radio Moscow World Service commentary of May 2 said that Foreign Minister Aleksandr Bessmertnykh's trip to the region, and his stop in Israel on May 10, signifies the "intensification of the Soviet Union's Middle East policies." (Suzanne Crow) MORE HINTS ON ISRAEL. A May 1 Radio Moscow International Service commentary by Pavel Demchenko in Arabic seemed to be laying the groundwork for the establishment of relations with Israel. Demchenko assured that the Soviet Union's line on a Mideast settlement "has not changed at all," but went on to state the USSR's demand for "the guaranteeing of conditions of security for the Arab countries and Israel alike." Demchenko added that the Soviet Union is seeking the "shortest route to achieving its strategic goals" and that "there is no reason whatsoever to be afraid or to describe the changes in Soviet-Israeli relations...as retreat or as passiveness." (Suzanne Crow) KRENZ SAYS GORBACHEV KNEW. Egon Krenz, who ruled the GDR for a few short weeks after the fall of Erich Honecker, said on May 2 that Gorbachev was informed of plans to oust Honecker two days before the East German leader's downfall in October 1989. Krenz said he and two other members of East Germany's ruling Politburo met on October 14, 1989 to plan Honecker's fall four days later. Krenz was testifying in Berlin at the trial of East Germany's former trade Union boss, Harry Tisch, AP and Reuters reported May 2. (Suzanne Crow) SCHMIDT THINKS AID A WASTE. Speaking at a conference of bankers in Vienna, former West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt said on May 2 that "even massive financial aid for the Soviet Union--which is currently not available--would just be dissipated and consumed, as long as there is a lack of economic and political competence there," Reuters reported May 2. (Suzanne Crow) YAKOVLEV PONDERS GREAT POWER STATUS. Presidential adviser Aleksandr Yakovlev faulted the world press for describing the USSR as a great power in decline. "In what way is [the USSR's power] in decline? ...Did we cease to be a great power when we began to disarm...and pledged not to set foot on other peoples' territories? So what must be included in the term 'great power' for contemporary understanding--force? This is a throwback to old thinking. A power's greatness should be assessed by different criteria now--by the criteria of morality, peaceableness, desire to cooperate and so on." Yakovlev was interviewed by Izvestia on April 27. (Suzanne Crow) "WAR, BE DAMNED!" This is the title of a joint Soviet-German film series made for television about World War II. The six-part series will start airing on the "eve of the 50th anniversary of Fascist Germany's attack," TASS reported May 2. TASS also said Soviet military historian Dmitrii Volkogonov served as a technical consultant for the venture. (Suzanne Crow) DISPUTE OVER HOUSING PROGRAM FOR SOVIET ARMY. Disputes in the Soviet Union and between Bonn and Moscow have delayed the naming of the contractors who are to build 36,000 apartments for servicemen returning from Germany, Reuters reported May 2, citing German government officials and Bild. Bonn has agreed to pay DM 7.8 billion for housing in the USSR for Soviet servicemen and their families due to leave the former GDR by late 1994. German firms are believed to have submitted well-padded bids because they were confident of winning the contracts over Finnish and Turkish competition. Bild also attributes blame to a dispute between the Soviet military and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (Keith Bush) POLLUTION AT SOVIET BASES IN EASTERN GERMANY. Soviet troops stationed in Eastern Germany have heavily polluted the bases they will leave behind by 1994, the German government said April 30. According to Reuters April 30, German newspaper reports have described pollution at over 1,000 Soviet-held sites as "catastrophic." Oil and ammunition have been dumped on the ground, and Soviet troops reportedly have been ordered to cover up the damage, Reuters quoted Die Welt as saying, in an apparent attempt to minimize Soviet costs. A Soviet-German treaty provides that Germany will pay the USSR for buildings and other facilities it vacates, but allows Germany to deduct from that payment the costs of cleanup work and repairs. (Sallie Wise) EUROPEAN COMMUNITY TO GRANT AID TO USSR. Reversing a decision it took after the Soviet clampdown in the Baltic last year, the European Community has decided to grant the USSR some $885 million in food aid and $472 million in technical assistance. This decision follows Soviet Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov's recent trip to Brussels and his meetings last week with head of the Community's Economic Commission, Jacques Delors. A Commission spokesman said that some of the technical assistance programs could begin by mid-May. (NCA/John Tedstrom) SOVIETS GIVE CAMBODIA $21 MILLION IN AID. The Cambodian government announced May 2 that the Soviet Union is extending some $21 million in credit to the country. According to an AFP report the same day, Cambodian rubber exports to the USSR and Soviet oil exports to Cambodia will be priced in dollars. The USSR had stopped providing aid to Cambodia and neighboring countries in favor of using dollar settlements to keep track of trade flows and balances. (John Tedstrom) PAVLOV UNDER FIRE. In a lively contribution to Moscow News, No. 14, 1991, economists Nikolai Petrakov and Nikolai Shmelev take Prime Minister Pavlov apart and pour scorn on his banknote exchange and retail price hike. Petrakov explains for the uninitiated how the freezing of bank deposits amounts to daylight robbery. Shmelev is convinced that another monetary reform is inevitable, not another "stupid operation" like the banknote exchange but a "big-time robbery," like Stalin's 1947 reform. Interestingly, Shmelev reckons that 5-6 billion rubles' worth of foreign credits will suffice to introduce "an additional hard currency--the Chervonets--or make the ruble freely convertible." (Keith Bush) LIFE AFTER THE RETAIL PRICE INCREASES. Trud of April 24 carries some heart-rending interviews with an auto plant worker, a farmer, and some pensioners on how the retail price hikes have affected them and their families. The factory worker claims that all of his family's disposable income now goes on food, and they cannot afford to buy clothes. The farmer says that vacations are out of the question and his family cannot purchase bicycles. The pensioners say that they can no longer afford to buy milk and now live on bread, salt, and water. The article ends: "For how long will our talented, hardworking people lead a beggarly existence, tied hand and foot by what is in essence antimarket relations?" (Keith Bush) SOVIET LIFE ROUGH FOR PAMPERED FORMER SPY. Komsomol'skaya pravda of May 2 published a rather wistful interview with an unnamed Soviet spy, unmasked by KGB defector Oleg Gordievsky and obliged to return to the USSR. As quoted by Reuters May 2, the former agent lamented: "I had to abandon my Mercedes for a Volga. I have been forced to get used to doing my own repairs." The strains of living a double life are "only part of the problem," he said. "In twenty years you get used to living in another society with another standard of living. You get used to certain food, certain clothes, and all the goods you want." (Sallie Wise) DISCUSSION OF LAW ON FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE CONTINUES. Two critical articles on the new law were published recently. Religion in the USSR No. 1, 1991 published an article called "Believers Lose in Legal Tug-of-War" by Yurii Degtyarev. Degtyarev compares the Law on Freedom of Conscience of the USSR with the Law on Freedom of Worship passed by the RSFSR Supreme Soviet. He is especially critical of the fact that the Russian Federation law does not provide for schools under religious organizations. Nauka i religiya announced in No. 1, January, 1991 that a series of consultations concerning the Union law will be published. The first contribution is a talk between chief editor V. Pravotorov and the chairman of the sub-committee of the Committee of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on the legislation, A. Sebentsov. Special attention is paid to the problem of religious lessons in schools. (Oxana Antic) USSR - IN THE REPUBLICS YELTSIN ON AGREEMENT WITH GORBACHEV. Yeltsin told striking Kuzbass miners that Gorbachev finally has recognized republican sovereignty. Radio Rossii on April 30 quoted him as saying that Gorbachev should be given a "last chance." He added that the republics will in future conduct their own domestic and foreign policy and that the center will remain in charge of only 3 or 4 functions. He also promised to depoliticize the KGB and MVD after he becomes Russian president. Economist Vasilii Selyunin strongly criticized Yeltsin in Komsomol'skaya pravda April 30 for having signed the April 23 agreement which keeps Gorbachev in power and leads to further exploitation of Russia's natural resources by other republics. (Alexander Rahr) MORE ON RSFSR KGB. The structure and personnel of the local KGB branches coming under RSFSR jurisdiction will remain as they are, and salaries of KGB employees will even rise, according to Sergei Stepashin, head of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet Committee for Security. Stepashin and his deputy, Boris Bol'shakov, told Argumenty i fakty (no. 14) that the Yeltsin administration had wanted General N. Shamov, a deputy chief of the 6th KGB Administration, to become RSFSR KGB chief but that the USSR KGB proposed a compromise candidate--Colonel V. Ivanenko. The latter will be subordinated to the RSFSR State Committee for Defense and Security, headed by Konstantin Kobets. General Kobets himself has been appointed member of the USSR KGB Collegium. (Alexander Rahr) MURASHEV ON BAKATIN'S, RYZHKOV'S CHANCES AGAINST YELTSIN. According to Arkadii Murashev, co-chairman of the Democratic Russia movement, Vadim Bakatin could be Yeltsin's major rival in the forthcoming elections for the Russian presidency. Murashev told the RFE/RL Research Institute on May 2 that Bakatin could win 25% to 30% of the votes. He said that Nikolai Ryzhkov's chances are almost nil because many people hold him responsible for the economic crisis. Bakatin and Ryzhkov are so far the CPSU's leading candidates for the RSFSR presidential elections. However, it cannot be excluded that the Russian Communist Party will nominate its own candidate for the race. (Alexander Rahr) RUSSIAN NATIONAL PARTY SET UP. Yet another political organization was set up in the Russian Federation at the end of April: the Russian National (Natsional'naya) Party, headed by monarchist Aleksei Brumel'. On April 30, the party urged the RSFSR Supreme Soviet to invite Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich to the USSR, TASS reported. The agency quoted Brumel' as saying the party's aim is to introduce a constitutional monarchy in Russia and to make Vladimir Kirillovich Russian tsar. There are several other monarchist groups in the Russian Federation which do not play any significant role in the republic's political arena. (Vera Tolz) NEW ORTHODOX JOURNAL PUBLISHED. A journal for family reading, Pravoslavnaya beseda, is being published in Moscow, TASS reported on May 2. The journal, published by the Orthodox brotherhoods, a religious organization created in October, 1990, aims to continue pre-Revolutionary traditions of spiritual enlightenment. The journal contains various theological essays, and a long article describing the life of Grand Duchess Elizabeth. After her husband's murder by a revolutionary, the princess devoted her life totally to charitable activities. (Oxana Antic) DOCUMENTS ON CONFISCATION OF CHURCH PROPERTY PUBLISHED. The illustrated weekly Stolitsa published in Nos. 11-12 three documents on the Soviet government's confiscation of the Russian Orthodox Church's property in 1919. (Oxana Antic) ARMENIAN-AZERBAIJANI CLASHES CONTINUE, DEATH TOLL RISES. DPA May 1 quoted TASS as reporting that the village of Martunashen, attacked by Azerbaijani OMON and Soviet troops on the night of April 30-May 1, was again attacked last night. Homes were burned and some villagers fled. Unconfirmed reports from an Armenian exile organization in London say the death toll in this week's violence may be as high as 60; AP May 2 quoted an Armenian parliament spokesman as claiming that Azerbaijani troops had blocked medical aid to casualties. (Liz Fuller) ARMENIAN SUPSOV PRESIDENT APPEALS TO GORBACHEV. Armenian Supreme Soviet chairman Levon Ter-Petrossyan told Reuters May 2 that during a 10-minute telephone conversation with Gorbachev the previous day, Gorbachev had assured him that he would try to put a stop to the renewed armed clashes between Armenians and Azerbaijanis. Ter-Petrossyan asked Gorbachev to prevent any attempt to deport the Armenian population from the villages, and said there was "a real risk" that the tension between the two republics would degenerate into war. In a TV address May 2 Ter-Petrossyan charged that he had repeatedly warned Moscow of the danger of confrontation. (Liz Fuller) ARMENIAN RADICALS CALL FOR IMMEDIATE SECESSION. DPA May 2 quoted Postfaktum as reporting that the radical Armenian Union for National Self-Determination (headed by Paruir Hairikyan), together with the Armenian Republican Party, responded to the latest violence by calling for Armenia's immediate secession from the USSR at a rally in Erevan May 1 attended by 400,000 people. (Liz Fuller) DONBASS STRIKES TO END. Miners in the Donbass have decided to end their strike and return to work on May 4, a Moscow journalist told RFE/RL May 2. The Donetsk Strike Committee issued a statement saying they will resume work in order to prevent further deterioration of the economic situation in the country. The statement adds that miners want to create "normal working conditions" for the adoption of a new Ukrainian constitution. If they are not satisfied with the work of the Ukrainian parliament, miners reserve the right to resume their strike. (NCA/Roman Solchanyk) KARIMOV FAVORS LATEST UNION TREATY DRAFT. Uzbek president Islam Karimov is quoted by Izvestia of May 2 as saying that the latest draft of the Union treaty is acceptable to Uzbekistan. He said that there is a new consensus that the Union treaty must be built around the powers of the republican governments, with the center being given certain powers and the rest falling to the republics. Karimov said that consensus paved the way for last week's pact between Gorbachev and nine republican leaders, including himself. He said that if Gorbachev and Yeltsin stick to the pact, a new Union treaty could be signed very soon. (NCA) DEMOCRATIC PARTIES PLAN MEETING IN DUSHANBE. Representatives of democratic parties from the nine republics which intend to sign the Union treaty who travelled to Moscow to attend the Second Congress of the Democratic Party of Russia agreed to meet in Dushanbe from May 10-12, one of the leaders of the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan told RL's Turkmen BD April 30. The agenda for the meeting is not fixed but is likely to cover creating a mechanism for cooperation between the parties concerned and the pressures brought to bear on them by republican authorities. (Turkmen BD/Naz Guezelol) INTERVIEW WITH CHAIRMAN OF SOVIET GERMAN COMMISSION. In an interview in Izvestia of May 1, Vladimir Gusev, chairman of the State Commission for Soviet German Problems, stated that plans to resettle 200,000 to 300,000 Soviet Germans on the Volga had been finalized by April 1990 and seven raions in Saratov oblast and five in Volgograd oblast earmarked for the recreation of a Soviet German autonomous entity, but these plans ran into fierce local opposition. According to Gusev, 1.2 million of the two million Soviet Germans wish to remain in the Soviet Union. Gusev said a new date for the all-Union Congress of Soviet Germans, cancelled at the last minute in March, will be fixed after Gorbachev has met with the congress organizing committee. (Ann Sheehy) [as of 1300 CET] Compiled by Patrick Moore and Sallie Wise
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