|Treat your friends as you do your pictures, and place them in their best light. - Jennie Jerome Churchill|
No. 87, 07 May 1991
BALTIC STATES LANDSBERGIS IN WASHINGTON. Chairman of the Lithuanian Supreme Council Vytautas Landsbergis arrived in Washington on May 5. On May 6 at the Lithuanian delegation he held talks with leaders of the Lithuanian World Community on coordinating activities, and with leaders of Jewish organizations urging them to support official diplomatic recognition of Lithuania by the US, the VOA Lithuanian Service reported that day. Speaking at the US Chamber of Commerce, Landsbergis called for greater American economic ties with Lithuania to aid its efforts to implement economic and political reform, RFE/RL's correspondent reported that day. Landsbergis expressed the hope that Lithuania would reach agreement with the USSR on joint control of borders and acceptance of Lithuanian-issued visas. (Saulius Girnius) TWO OMON MEMBERS DETAINED IN LITHUANIA. At 12:30 AM. on May 4 after an explosion at the bus terminal in Ukmerge, Lithuanian police detained four persons: OMON sergeants A. Shevelyov and A. Voronetsky and two civilians, Jermalavicius and Vasalkevicius, Radio Independent Lithuania reported on May 7. The detainees were released after three hours, but the Lithuanian procuracy has brought criminal charges against them. OMON headquarters later informed the Lithuanian authorities that the two OMON officers had been fired. (Saulius Girnius) INCIDENTS AT LITHUANIAN-BELORUSSIAN BORDER. At a press briefing on May 6, Virginijus Cesnulevicius, chief of the border service of the National Defense Department, gave information on two incidents at Tabariskes on the Lithuanian-Belorussian border, Radio Independent Lithuania reported on May 6. On the night of May 4-5 a large group of drunken individuals from a dance in Tabariskes broke the windows and door of the Lithuanian customs post and beat up two guards. At 23:00 on May 5 about 20 OMON troops drove up to the customs post in three automobiles and threatened to return again and shoot up the post. Cesnulevicius said that he telephoned the OMON headquarters to protest and the OMON troops did not return that night. (Saulius Girnius) POLISH BORDER GUARDS TURN LITHUANIANS OVER TO SOVIET TROOPS. Gazeta Wyborcza reported May 6 that Polish border guards had turned two Lithuanians over to Soviet military authorities in Legnica on April 28. The Lithuanians had crossed the German border illegally and asked for political asylum. Soviet military officials released one, but apparently sent the other, Arunas Vasiljevas, back to the USSR. The Lithuanian Information Bureau in Warsaw said that Vasiljevas had fled from his Soviet Army unit late in 1989. Lithuania's representative in Poland condemned the incident as "an inhuman act" and called on the Polish government to clarify its stance on Lithuanian citizens residing in Poland. The Polish Foreign Ministry called the decision to turn over the Lithuanians "unlawful" and told PAP it had been made at a "low level, without consultation" with higher authorities. Poland's refugee commissioner, Zbigniew Skoczylas, said the decision was in accord with the terms of the Polish-Soviet agreement on the stationing of troops in Poland, but pledged that the situation would not recur. (Louisa Vinton) INCREASING SOVIET MILITARY PRESENCE IN LATVIA? Guntis Feldmanis, in an article on population migration to Latvia published in the cultural weekly Literatura un Maksla of April 13, said that the while in 1989 some 2488 members of the spetskontingent (army and MVD troops) arrived in Latvia, the figure for 1990 was much larger: 7877. Feldmanis estimated the Soviet military presence (presumably also including retired soldiers who had settled in Latvia) at about 600,000 to 700,000--one of the highest estimates in recent years. He said that, in an effort to halt migration to Latvia, the Supreme Council and government were resisting efforts to provide or build additional housing for the USSR soldiers in Latvia, despite great pressure from the military. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIA'S ARMENIANS PUBLISH NEWSPAPER. Radio Riga reported on May 6 that the Armenian Cultural Society in Latvia had started to publish its own monthly newspaper, called Ararat. The newspaper provides information in Russian about the situation in Armenia, its culture, and the activities of Armenians in Latvia. It is the first such newspaper to be published by one of the many national cultural societies in Latvia. In 1989, when the census was taken, there were 3,069 Armenians living in the republic. (Dzintra Bungs) THREAT OF STRIKE IN LATVIA. According to The Times and Radio Riga of May 6, pro-Soviet "representatives of 42 work collectives" in Latvia, who oppose an independent Republic of Latvia, are threatening to hold a strike on May 14 unless the government agrees to their demands. These include signing the new USSR Union treaty and withdrawing recently instituted price increases. It appears that the Latvian Communist Party is behind the strike call. So far the calls to stage major strikes in Latvia, coming from organizations with close ties to the party, have been unsuccessful. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIAN COMMUNIST PARTY STATISTICS. Diena reported on April 12, that despite the LCP's declining authority in Latvia, it still has 975 employees (of whom 459 are considered technical personnel). Working in the Central Committee apparatus are 56 individuals, with 57 positions being vacant. Similarly, only 130 party instructors' positions out of 206 are filled. It is interesting to note that Stanislavs Zukulis, formerly head of the KGB in Latvia, serves as consultant for the LCP CC ideological committee; Guna Luss, former Minister of Social Security, is the chief receptionist for visitors to the LCP CC. Currently the party claims to have 140,000 members--a figure that may be inflated. (Dzintra Bungs) FOUR CONVICTED IN ESTONIA. The Estonian Supreme Court on May 3 convicted four men of stealing three computers from the Congress of Estonia headquarters last year, Rahva Haal reported on May 4. Andrei Sevchenko, Sergei Bobrov, Ander Sagadi and Raul Veide received prison sentences of 7, 5 1/2, 3 and 1 1/2 years, respectively. The three computers containing citizens' registration information were stolen two days before the first Congress of Estonia opened in March 1990, fueling speculation that the act was politically motivated. Despite the convictions, one plaintiff--Committee of Estonia member Eve Parnaste--remains "convinced that USSR secret police organized the theft," Rahva Haal reported. (Riina Kionka) THE ARMY AND THE BALTIC. The May 1 Izvestia identifies Major General Aleksandr Litvinov as Chief of the new General Staff Directorate for liaisons with republican governments. In addition to defending the stationing of Soviet troops in the independence-seeking Baltic republics, Litvinov claims that the Defense Ministry has not re-deployed a single unit withdrawn from Eastern Europe to the Baltic. He says, in fact, that the army is reducing its forces in the region--a statement contradicted by claims pointing to rising troop levels coming from the Baltic republics themselves. Litvinov visited Estonia on January 21 as part of an inspection team investigating the low draft turn-out in the republic. (Stephen Foye) USSR - ALL-UNION TOPICS MINES TRANSFERRED TO RSFSR CONTROL. As widely reported by both Soviet and Western news agencies, on May 6 USSR First Deputy Prime Minister Vitalii Doguzhiev and RSFSR First Deputy Prime Minister Yurii Skokov signed the agreement worked out last week by RSFSR Supreme Soviet Chairman Boris Yeltsin and striking coal miners. The agreement places mines in the Kuzbass, Rostov, and Komi regions under RSFSR jurisdiction. According to a Doguzhiev aide, Konstantin Bakanov, a special committee has been formed to work out the details of the transfer. Yeltsin told the RSFSR Supreme Soviet yesterday that the agreement marks the "first big political step" toward ending the strike. Strike committees are meeting today to discuss whether to resume work. (Dawn Mann) NEGOTIATIONS ON ANTI-CRISIS PROGRAM. The Presidium of the USSR Cabinet of Ministers met on May 3 to try to reconcile differences among union republican representatives on the shape of the government's anti-crisis program, Radio Mayak reported that day. Although specifics were not provided, it appears that many budget programs have been frozen to keep within spending limits. Agreements were apparently reached, "on the whole," on exemptions from the sales tax, the minimum consumer budget, and indexation. No agreement was reached on the modalities of privatization and the emergency budget for the second quarter of 1991. Republican representatives will meet again on May 12, and it is hoped that an inter-republican agreement on the fulfillment of a joint anti-crisis program will be signed two or three days later. (Keith Bush) YELTSIN ON DIRECT PRESIDENTIAL RULE, STATE OF EMERGENCY. In an address on Russian TV May 4, Yeltsin revealed that at the meeting between Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and nine republican leaders last month, the question of instituting direct Presidential rule or a state of emergency in the USSR won no support. As reported by TASS May 5, Yeltsin added that "a state of emergency under current conditions would only sharply exacerbate the situation, and would lead to chaos instead of order." At the same time, Yeltsin said, it is necessary to introduce "decisive joint anti-crisis measures." (Sallie Wise) SOVIET GOVERNMENT QUITS KREMLIN. The USSR Cabinet of Ministers held one of its last sessions in the Kremlin before moving into the building of the former State Committee for Construction, TASS reported on May 3. The former Kremlin quarters of the Soviet government will be taken over by the apparatus of the USSR President. (Alexander Rahr) "SOYUZ" CALLS ON SOVIET CITIZENS TO MARK VICTORY DAY. On May 6, the USSR Supreme Soviet appealed to Soviet citizens to observe Victory Day on May 9 (TASS, May 6). The appeal, which was adopted unanimously, was proposed by the conservative "Soyuz" parliamentary faction. The appeal says the present generation of Soviet citizens has a duty to honor those who fought in World War II by defending the country against disintegration. (NCA) A SPLIT IN "SOYUZ"? Soviet leaders have long relied on war-time memories to mobilize popular support, but "Soyuz" itself is beginning to show signs of dissension. On April 30, the group, which last year claimed 561 adherents, admitted it had failed in its campaign to collect the 450 signatures needed to convene a special Congress of People's Deputies. "Soyuz" seems to be splitting into extremist and moderate wings. The first is led by "black colonels" Viktor Alksnis and Nikolai Petrushenko, Yurii Blokhin (of Moldavia's "Intermovement Edinstvo") and Evgenii Kogan (of Estonia's "Intermovement"). The moderates are led by steelworker Veniamin Yarin (of the United Workers' Front of Russia) and by a Korean scientist from Omsk, Kim En Un. (Elizabeth Teague) SUPREME SOVIET DISCUSSES KGB LAW. The USSR Supreme Soviet Committee on Defense and the Committee on Legislation have submitted to the Supreme Soviet the amended Law on the KGB for its second reading, TASS reported May 5. One of the amendments extends targets of KGB operations against "foreign organizations involved in subversive activities," while the initial draft only mentioned "foreign secret services." Another innovation gives Soviet citizens the right to file lawsuits against KGB officers. The law envisages broader authority for KGB regional offices, but stresses the "coordinating role" of the central KGB. The text of the law has not been published in the central media. (Victor Yasmann) SHEVARDNADZE BEGINS US TOUR. Former Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze began his US speaking tour in Washington on May 6. He met with US President George Bush and appealed for US financial aid to the USSR, saying the $1.5 billion aid package now under consideration would largely "determine the fate of reform and democracy in the Soviet Union" for years to come. Shevardnadze reassured that "with every day we live the threat of [dictatorship in the Soviet Union] becomes less and less." Shevardnadze advocated in an address at the Brookings Institution a stronger United Nations Security Council role in settling the Arab-Israeli dispute, the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times reported May 7. (Suzanne Crow) BAKER AND BESSMERTNYKH TO MEET. Foreign Minister Aleksandr Bessmertnykh will start his Middle East tour on May 8. According to Soviet Foreign Ministry Spokesman Vitalii Churkin's May 6 briefing, Bessmertnykh will arrive in Damascus on May 8, on the morning of May 9 will travel to Amman, on the morning of May 10 will travel to Tel-Aviv, and that afternoon will fly to Cairo where he will remain until May 12, TASS reported. He may also visit Beirut. The US State Department said on May 6 US Secretary of State James Baker will return to the Middle East on May 10 and will have a meeting with Bessmertnykh shortly thereafter, Reuters reported May 7. (Suzanne Crow) CHECKING SPECULATION ON ISRAEL. Soviet Foreign Ministry spokesman Vitalii Churkin said on May 6 the restoration of ties with Israel would be part of the general peace process in the Middle East. He said it would be wrong to believe that a re-establishment of relations would necessarily follow from Bessmertnykh's visit to Israel this week, TASS reported. (NCA/Suzanne Crow) GORBACHEV, MITTERAND SUMMIT. At a press conference after his talks yesterday afternoon with French President Francois Mitterrand, Gorbachev said that the meeting was "necessary for both sides," and pronounced himself "satisfied" with what was discussed, TASS reported May 6. According to TASS, the talks were friendly, and the two presidents were in accord on the new shape of Europe, the need for a Middle East settlement, and general issues of world stability and security. (Sallie Wise) BESSMERTNYKH TO ASEAN? According to an unidentified senior Soviet diplomat in Kuala Lumpur, the Soviet Union and Malaysia are tentatively planning for a July 1991 visit by Bessmertnykh. The visit is expected to coincide with meetings of the foreign ministers of the ASEAN countries. ASEAN will decide next week (May 14) whether Bessmertnykh will be invited to the ASEAN meetings, AFP reported May 6. (Suzanne Crow) CHURKIN REJECTS CRITICISM OF TREATIES. Soviet Foreign Ministry Spokesman Vitalii Churkin said in his regular briefing on May 6 that some of the commentaries about the progress of bilateral treaty negotiations between the USSR and its neighbors in Eastern Europe are "representing the Soviet position in a false light." The USSR, Churkin went on to say, is pursuing good-neighborly relations with Eastern European countries on the basis of equality and mutual interests, TASS reported May 6. (Suzanne Crow) NAJIBULLAH SAYS USSR HAS INCREASED AID TO AFGHANISTAN. Afghan President Najibullah recently has given a spate of interviews to Western journalists, apparently in an effort to promote an image of stability in the West. The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times of May 4 reported that Najibullah said the USSR is not only continuing, but increasing, aid to Afghanistan. He told the Post that, at a high-level meeting with a Soviet delegation to Kabul last month "there was no word of reduction of Afghan-Soviet relations, but there was talk of increasing relations." (Sallie Wise) MOISEEV ON EAST-WEST RELATIONS. The Soviet General Staff Chief told TASS on May 6 that, despite some complications, East-West relations were turning from confrontation to cooperation. Army General Mikhail Moiseev nevertheless cautioned that the practical realization of the "Soviet model of security" has been problematic, and he pointed to the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and to the fact, as he put it, that the Soviet Union now faces the NATO alliance alone. Moiseev said that Moscow had completed its unilateral troop reduction of 500,000 men, and called for a further easing of the arms race and improved relations between East and West. (Stephen Foye) DEPUTY DEFENSE MINISTER PROMOTED. By a presidential decree issued on April 29 and published in Izvestia on May 1, Deputy Defense Minister Yurii Yashin was promoted to General of the Army. Yashin's portfolio is unknown. He was first identified as a deputy defense minister in April of 1989. (Stephen Foye) DEFENSE EXPENDITURE UNDER SCRUTINY. The head of the USSR Supreme Soviet budgetary committee, Viktor Kucherenko, told Radio Moscow World Service May 5 about continuing efforts to curb defense expenditure. He patiently explained why the 1991 defense budget was 20 billion rubles higher than in 1990, and pointed out that expenditure on procurement has been cut by almost 36%, while spending on servicemen's social needs has been sharply increased. Surplus fuel and greatcoats were sold off for 8-10 million rubles to an unnamed East European country. The proceeds were destined for service welfare funds, but Vneshekonombank "snatched" the money and refused to hand it over. (Keith Bush) HOUSING FOR SOVIET TROOPS DELAYED. USSR Deputy Defense Minister Nikolai Chekov told TASS May 5 that Germany has not even started the construction of 36,000 apartments for Soviet servicemen and their families withdrawn from the former GDR, although plans had called for the first 3,000 apartments to be handed over in 1991. Chekov stated that the 36,000 apartments will cover only one-half of the living space required, and he hinted that the schedule for the withdrawal of Soviet troops might be adversely affected. (Keith Bush) PROTOCOL ON EMPLOYMENT POLICY SIGNED BY ELEVEN REPUBLICS. A protocol on the coordination of the work of the USSR Ministry of Labor and Social Questions and the corresponding republican bodies in the sphere of employment in 1991 was signed by eleven Union republics on May 5, Trud reported on May 6. The three Baltic republics and Georgia did not sign, but took part in drawing up the protocol. The representatives of Armenia and Moldavia signed under only one point, that providing for international cooperation in the sphere of employment. As Gorbachev has pointed out, even those republics that have opted for independence regularly take part in economic talks. (Ann Sheehy) PENSION FUND BROKE. An Izvestia report of May 2 describes the state of the USSR Pension Fund as "catastrophic." The nine republics which joined the Fund on a voluntary basis have not been paying their full dues, while many enterprises, kolkhozes, sovkhozes, and cooperatives have evidently not paid in anything at all. The situation has been aggravated by the fact that higher pensions and other transfer payments have been necessitated to offset the retail price hikes of April 2. The net effect has been that only about 30% of the required funding has been received. This does not augur well for the unemployment compensation fund that is expected to start disbursements on July 1. (Keith Bush) USSR - IN THE REPUBLICS USSR SUPSOV DEBATES TRANSCAUCASUS. On May 6 the USSR Supreme Soviet began debating the Armenian call for convening a special session of the USSR Congress of People's Deputies to debate the deteriorating situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, TASS reported. Azerbaijani Supreme Soviet Chairwoman Elmira Kafarova argued that the request should be rejected as it constitutes "gross interference into Azerbaijan's affairs." Deputies are to vote today on the Armenian request. (Liz Fuller) ARMENIAN SUPSOV CHAIRMAN ACCUSES MOSCOW OF "DECLARING WAR". An Armenian deputy read a statement by Armenian Supreme Soviet Chairman Levon Ter-Petrossyan to yesterday's session accusing Moscow of "waging war" on Armenia by attacking the village of Voskepar in north-east Armenia May 7. He claimed that dozens of people had been killed and all homes burned in the attack by units of the fourth Soviet army. AFP May 6, however, quoted Armenpress as affirming that the Soviet military commander in the Transcaucasus, General Valerii Patrikeev, had told the Armenian MVD that the attack was carried out by USSR MVD troops. (Liz Fuller) WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES APPEALS TO GORBACHEV. In a letter sent May 3 to Soviet President Gorbachev, the leaders of the World Council of Churches and the Conference of European Churches express their concern at "the situation in Karabakh" and call on Gorbachev "to take immediate steps to ensure the safety of the Armenian people in the region." (Liz Fuller) GORBACHEV PROPOSAL FOR RESOLVING KARABAKH IMPASSE. At a joint news conference in Moscow May 6 with visiting French President Francois Mitterrand, Gorbachev told reporters that the situation in Armenia and Azerbaijan "must be defused, otherwise the result could be even greater bloodshed" (The Washington Post, May 7). Among the steps necessary to restore order Gorbachev enumerated disarming Armenian guerrilla bands and restoring Nagorno-Karabakh's autonomous status, abolished in early 1989. Gorbachev had stressed the need for democratic elections and the restoration of "legitimate organs of power" in an appeal two months ago to the Azerbaijani people and the population of Nagorno-Karabakh. (Liz Fuller) PROKOF'EV CRITICIZES GORBACHEV. Pravda on April 29 published an interview Moscow CP chairman Yurii Prokof'ev gave to The Boston Globe last month. In that interview, Prokof'ev called for Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov to be dismissed, and compared Eduard Shevardnadze and Aleksandr Yakovlev to "rats leaving a sinking ship." He indicated that Gorbachev might be replaced as CPSU general secretary by a simple majority of votes at a plenum. He added, however, that at the moment there is no alternative to him and no one else who could counter Yeltsin, whom he called a "fuehrer." He warned that if Gorbachev does not introduce harsh measures, enterprises will stop working, leading to mass unrest and the collapse of the Soviet government. (Alexander Rahr) RSFSR CP POLITBURO MEMBER CRITICIZES GORBACHEV. Gennadii Zyuganov, member of the RSFSR CP Politburo, has criticized Gorbachev for neglecting the Party. He said Gorbachev should first consult the Party about controversial decisions before discussing them at the parliament. Contrary to long-established practice, the Soviet government last month presented its anti-crisis program first at the parliament and only then at the Party plenum. Zyuganov said that the RSFSR CP has asked its Party organizations to discuss possible candidates for the election for the Russian presidency. The RSFSR CP will nominate its candidate at a Party plenum this month. (Alexander Rahr) NEW PROBLEMS WITH RSFSR TV. Head of State TV and Radio Leonid Kravchenko banned an RSFSR TV broadcast on April 27, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported May 3. Set up last year, RSFSR TV has been broadcasting irregularly ever since. It plans to start broadcasting six hours of programming daily on May 12. The newspaper said, however, that in view of the sensitive situation in the RSFSR before the June 12 presidential elections, Kravchenko could possibly try to violate his agreement with the Russian government and block regular broadcasts by RSFSR TV. Nezavisimaya gazeta also reported that its publishers were planning to set up their own "independent television, providing it with resources, premises, and office equipment." No details, however, were given about funding for the enterprise. (Vera Tolz) YELTSIN ON JAPAN RELATIONS. RSFSR Supreme Soviet Chairman Boris Yeltsin met with a Japanese parliamentary delegation on May 6 and stressed that the RSFSR is ready to cooperate directly with Japan, TSN reported May 7. He said such cooperation can only help the RSFSR and the country as a whole to come out of its current crisis. In the past, Yeltsin has stressed that the RSFSR must be incorporated into any discussions of returning the Kurile Islands to Japan since those islands are a part of the RSFSR. (Suzanne Crow) UKRAINIAN CRIME RATES UP IN 1991. Radio Kiev reported on May 3 that according to official statistics, 92.5 thousand crimes were committed in the republic during the first quarter of 1991, among them 33 instances of firearms and ammunition thefts. The crime rate is 14.5% higher than during the same period of 1990. (Valentyn Moroz) DRAFT OF NEW UKRAINIAN CONSTITUTION PUBLISHED. A draft of a new Ukrainian constitution drawn up by the republican Communist party has been published in Ukrainian newspapers, Moscow Radio reported May 6. The draft proposes that the present title of the republic embodying its "socialist choice" be retained, and also that the post of president be introduced. (Ann Sheehy) SHARE OF SCHOOLING IN UKRAINIAN STILL DECLINING. Data on schooling in Ukrainian in Ukraine, published in Moloda Galichina of April 11, would indicate that the Ukrainian law on language has not halted the decline in the proportion of children receiving their schooling in Ukrainian. True, the absolute number of children attending Ukrainian-language schools is up from 3,245,000 in 1985/86 to 3,280,300 in 1990/91, but relative to the total number of schoolchildren this represents a drop from 48.2% to 47.8%. (Ann Sheehy) MOLDAVIAN PARLIAMENTARY MAJORITY SPLITTING. At a caucus before the impending session of the Moldavian Supreme Soviet, the Agrarian group of deputies--the second largest in parliament, and consisting of ethnic Moldavian kolkhoz and village soviet chairmen--have issued the following demands: replacement of Prime Minister Mircea Druc and other radical reformers in the government, reorganization of the Popular Front-dominated Supreme Soviet Presidium by appointing to it the nominees of all parliamentary groups (i.e., the communist and Russian groups), and Moldavia's return to the talks on a new Union treaty (Moldavia has refused the treaty). The Agrarians had supported the Popular Front and the government on Moldavian national demands, but now seem about to coalesce with the pro-Soviet forces to block social and economic reforms which threaten the Agrarians' and their new allies' vested interests. (Vladimir Socor) MOLDAVIA ESTABLISHES MINISTRY FOR NATIONALITY AFFAIRS. The Moldavian government has set up a State Department for Nationality Affairs to represent the interests of non-native ethnic groups in the republican government, Moldova Suverana reported May 3. The department is mandated inter alia to foster the cultures and languages of ethnic groups and their links to their homelands, to channel republican investment into areas inhabited by ethnic groups, and to draft legislation concerning their specific needs and interests. The Department's director general, Viktor Grebenshchikov, is a Russian from Siberia who resigned from the Communist Party and is renowned in Moldavia for having become fluent in the native language after settling in the republic. (Vladimir Socor)
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