|The absence of alternatives clears the mind marvelously. - Henry Kissinger|
No. 88, 08 May 1991
BALTIC STATES BALTIC LEADERS AT CSCE HEARING IN WASHINGTON. On May 7 Chairman of the Lithuanian Supreme Council Vytautas Landsbergis, Estonian Prime Minister Edgar Savisaar, and Latvian Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis spoke at a hearing of the US Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, an RFE/RL correspondent reported that day. The leaders pleaded for more US support in their efforts to restore full independence and hold an International Conference on the Baltic Question. They also said that they would like support for attendance by Baltic officials as observers at a meeting of European foreign ministers in Berlin in June. (Saulius Girnius) AID TO USSR AND BALTIC STATES. The presence of the Baltic leaders affected the debate on a Senate resolution to extend a $1.5 billion credit to the USSR to purchase American grain. The Baltic leaders urged that economic aid should go not to the center but to the republics, since they face the threat of "a creeping economic blockade" from the Soviet government. Landsbergis said that the US should refuse to sign any agreements with the USSR until Moscow keeps its promise to hold independence talks and pledges not to use force. Savisaar noted that Estonia needs Western assistance to overcome the dislocations of moving to a free market with the privatization of its agriculture. (Saulius Girnius) INTERPARLIAMENTARY GROUP ESTABLISHED. On May 7 members of the US Congress and the three Baltic leaders signed a charter establishing an Interparliamentary Group to Support Human Rights and Democracy in the Baltic States. Congressman Richard Durbin (D-Illinois), chairman of the Baltic Freedom Caucus, said that the founding "demonstrates the widespread support for the Baltic people as they continue to struggle for their human rights." He also noted that the Canadian parliament was interested in joining and he hoped that legislatures in other countries would support the project. (Saulius Girnius) GODMANIS: POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC INDEPENDENCE RELATED. Addressing the CSCE hearing at the US Congress on May 7, Godmanis stressed the importance of "internationalizing" the Baltic question, especially through the CSCE, and of economic aid to key industries. Godmanis said that progress toward achieving Latvia's political independence could be jeopardized by an economic blockade from Moscow, which, in turn, could spur political strikes by factory workers (mostly Russians and other Slavs) of major industries; the end result could, therefore, be "a socialist revolution." Godmanis requested aid to improve the industrial infrastructure in Latvia so as to preclude the possibility of major strikes and help achieve economic independence from Moscow, reported Radio Riga on May 8. (Dzintra Bungs) BUSH, KOIVISTO DISCUSS BALTICS. US President George Bush and Finland's President Mauno Koivisto discussed developments in the USSR, Baltic States, and Eastern Europe at the White House on May 7, reported RFE/RL's Washington correspondent that day. They agreed on the need to support peaceful dialogue between the Baltic States and Moscow. According to Koivisto, the Baltic leaders have a "more sophisticated understanding" of the nature of economic interdependence with the USSR and the difficulties that a transition to independence brings. Koivisto added that the Baltic leaders would take into consideration the feelings of the Russians and other national minorities in the process of restoring political independence. (Dzintra Bungs) SPD DEPUTY CALLS FOR MORE SUPPORT FOR THE BALTICS. SPD Deputy Gert Weisskirchen, speaking for the opposition Social Democrats at the Bundestag, told DPA on May 7 that the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact had made possible the Soviet annexation of the Baltic States and that Germany had special responsibility for Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. He called on the German government to give more political and financial support to Baltic independence efforts. Weisskirchen had attended Social Democratic congresses in Vilnius and Leningrad during the previous weekend. (Dzintra Bungs) USSR - ALL-UNION TOPICS REFORMISTS BACK IN THE KREMLIN. Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev has named some reform-oriented advisers to his team. TASS on May 7 reported the appointment of jurist Vladimir Kudryavtsev, former Presidential Council member Yurii Osipyan, IMEMO director Vladlen Martynov, Ukrainian writer Boris Oleynik, and economists Leonid Abalkin and Yurii Yaremenko as advisers to Gorbachev. With the exception of Oleynik, they are known for their reformist views. These appointments suggest that Gorbachev's new shift toward democratic forces since signing the agreement with nine republican leaders may be genuine. (Alexander Rahr) SOME VORKUTA MINERS RETURN TO WORK. Miners at 6 of Vorkuta's 13 mines are still out on strike, as are miners at 34 mines in the Kuzbass, according to AP May 7. The Vorkuta strike committee chairman told Interfax that the strike "practically failed to achieve anything...it is already clear that the president and the government will not resign." The miners, he said, are working and saving their energy for the next strike. Kuzbass miners are waiting to see the actual document confirming transfer of the mines to RSFSR jurisdiction, according to Radio Rossii. According to Interfax, however, miners are demanding that control of all businesses in the Kuzbass owned by the USSR Ministry of Coal be transferred to the RSFSR government. (Dawn Mann) COAL MINISTRY, TRADE UNION "IN SHOCK" OVER AGREEMENT. The USSR Ministry of the Coal Industry and the official coalminers' trade union are in "a state close to shock" following the news of the transfer of mining enterprises from all-Union to RSFSR jurisdiction, Radio Rossii reported May 7. A trade union official "who preferred to remain anonymous" told Radio Rossii the news undermined the talks, "which are nearing completion," between the ministry and the union over labor and social guarantees for miners in 1991. The official said that, if other republics follow the RSFSR's example, there will be no money to realize the agreement. In fact, "the continuing existence of the all-Union ministry will be threatened." (Elizabeth Teague) SUPREME SOVIET DISCUSSES DRAFT LAW ON EMIGRATION. The USSR Supreme Soviet yesterday began debate on the second reading of draft legislation on "Entry and Exit from the USSR." The proposed law is not, however, to take effect until July 1, 1992. TASS on May 7 noted that the bill has been scheduled for discussion several times since its first reading at the end of 1989, but has been held up. According to TASS, concerns over projected hard currency losses resulting from the law have blocked its passage. Reuters on May 7 quoted Gorbachev spokesman Vitalii Ignatenko as saying that the bill is "fully supported" by Gorbachev, who regrets the delay in its passage. The Supreme Soviet is scheduled to vote on the legislation May 12. (Sallie Wise) RAILWAYS MINISTER RESIGNS. Nikolai Konarev, USSR Minister of Railways since November 1982, resigned Tuesday, Radio Moscow reported May 7. No reason for his resignation was reported by Radio Moscow. The USSR Supreme Soviet approved the appointment of Leonid Matyukhin, a USSR People's Deputy and CPSU member who has been working as head of the Nizhny Novogorod Rail Administration, as minister. (NCA) CPSU THREATENED BY "CRISIS PHENOMENA." The CPSU Secretariat met May 5, Radio Moscow reported that day. Deputy General Secretary Vladimir Ivashko was quoted as saying the Central Committee plenum of April 24-25 showed that Communists are "particularly alarmed" at "intensifying ideological confrontation, incipient factionalism, and the existence of a tangible threat to Party unity." Indeed, the plenum confirmed that there are wider differences of opinion within the CPSU than exist between separate political parties in many other countries (e.g., the USA or Britain). (Elizabeth Teague) CPSU PRESENCE IN WORKPLACE UNDER THREAT. Ivashko went on to say that at present "the main danger" to the CPSU comes from "the growing pressure to oust Party organizations from the workplace." Last month, workers at the Uralmash heavy machine-building plant voted to ban organized political activity from the enterprise; other factories are expected to follow suit. At the same time, the anti-Communist "Democratic Russia" movement is trying to extend its influence to the workplace; Radio Rossii reported May 5 an invitation by the movement's Coordinating Council to workers' committees to take part in a regional conference of the movement on May 16. Further details were not provided. (Elizabeth Teague) PARTY MEMBERSHIP UPDATE. Ivashko told the Secretariat that whereas 1.8 million Communists left the CPSU in 1990, a total of 587,000 quit in the first three months of 1991, that is, the Party is continuing to lose members at an accelerating rate. On the other hand, the number of new entrants is beginning to rise a little. Whereas 108,000 people joined the Party in 1990, the number joining in the first three months of 1991 was 46,000. (Elizabeth Teague) PLAN FOR "AUTHORITARIAN MODERNIZATION". The inter-branch research corporation "Experimental Creative Center," headed by "'post-perestroika' ideologue" Sergei Kurginyan, has drafted an anti-crisis program described by TASS on May 7. The program calls for an economic reform based on the Chinese model, a rapid breakthrough in high technology, and an "enlightened" authoritarian political system. Kurginyan said a prerequisite of the program is "formation of a supra-party coalition." Although Kurginyan denied his proximity to Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov's government, his analytical scenarios have received great interest among the political leadership, "because of their accuracy", noted TASS. (In February, Pavlov issued a decree granting unusual administrative prerogatives to Kurginyan's group: see Daily Report, April 15). TASS reported that the turnover of Kurginyan's corporation already reached 100 million rubles. (Victor Yasmann) GORBACHEV TO ATTEND G-7 SUMMIT? British government officials have announced that Gorbachev may be invited as an observer to the Group of Seven (G-7) summit meeting of leading industrial nations in London July 15-17, AP and Reuters reported May 7. Britain will consult the other members of G-7 closer to the date of the summit. A spokesman at the Soviet Embassy in London is quoted as saying that Gorbachev "has expressed a cautious interest in discussing" possible attendance. (NCA/Keith Bush) GORBACHEV TO DELIVER NOBEL LECTURE JUNE 5. Gorbachev will travel to Oslo June 5 to deliver his Nobel Prize lecture, postponed from last December, TASS reported May 7. Citing the Norwegian Telegraph Bureau, TASS said that during Gorbachev's two-day trip he will have talks with Norway's Prime Minister. TASS also quoted Geir Lundestad, director of the Nobel Institute, as saying that preparations for Gorbachev's visit were underway. (Sallie Wise) BESSMERTNYKH TO MEET BAKER, ARAFAT. According to reports in the Egyptian newspaper Al-Akhbar, Foreign Minister Aleksandr Bessmertnykh will meet with US Secretary of State James Baker in Cairo on May 11. Arab diplomatic sources in Egypt said however that the meeting would take place on May 12 in Cairo. According to PLO sources, Bessmertnykh will also meet with PLO leader Yasser Arafat, although a time and place has yet to be decided, Reuters and AP reported May 6 and 7. (Suzanne Crow) USSR-VIETNAM TALKS. Gorbachev expressed satisfaction with the state of Soviet-Vietnamese relations during talks with Vietnamese Premier Do Muoi on May 7 and TASS reported the same day the talks were characterized by "benevolence and mutual understanding." (Suzanne Crow) SHEVARDNADZE ON RESIGNATION. In a luncheon meeting with The Washington Post, former Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze stressed that his resignation resulted not simply from the attacks of his adversaries, but also from the fact that "nobody defended me, nobody rejected these criticisms," The Washington Post reported May 8. Shevardnadze's comments make even clearer the frustration, expressed vaguely in his resignation speech, that he was left alone to answer all of the conservatives' attacks on Soviet foreign policy. (Suzanne Crow) LOBOV RELIEVED OF DUTIES. Army General Vladimir Lobov has been relieved of his duties as Warsaw Pact Chief of Staff, TASS reported on April 7. According to an AFP account, Lobov would be reassigned to new but unspecified duties. Lobov has long been known as a hard-liner, and assumed the Warsaw Pact post in January of 1989. (Stephen Foye) MOISEEV TO NEGOTIATE ON CFE. Gorbachev intends to send General Staff Chief Mikhail Moiseev to Washington next week to resolve disputes on the CFE treaty, The New York Times reported on April 8. Moiseev is scheduled to meet with both the American arms control team and with General Colin Powell. American officials reportedly interpreted the visit positively, saying it indicated Gorbachev's desire to reach a CFE treaty. Moiseev has been among the military leaders strongly critical of the CFE agreement reached in Paris last November, however, and the announcement underscores the expanded role that Moiseev personally, and the High Command in general, has come to play in the arms negotiation process. (Stephen Foye) USSR - IN THE REPUBLICS USSR SUPSOV REJECTS ARMENIAN CALL TO CONVENE CPD. The USSR Supreme Soviet May 7 rejected the Armenian request to convene a special session of the Congress of People's Deputies to debate the deteriorating situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, TASS reported yesterday. Eight deputies voted in favor of the Armenian proposal, 261 voted against, and 23 abstained. The Supreme Soviet did rule, however, to send USSR Procuracy investigators to the area. (NCA/Liz Fuller) AZERBAIJAN INVITES FOREIGN OBSERVERS TO ASSESS SITUATION. The Azerbaijani Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement May 7 welcoming to Azerbaijan "all those who wish to see for themselves the true state of affairs" in the region, in the interests "of providing correct information to the Soviet and world public," Azerinform reported May 7. Azerbaijan Supreme Soviet Chairwoman Elmira Kafarova told a news conference in Moscow May 7 that "war had been declared on Azerbaijan," and that all military action to date has taken place on Azerbaijani territory, Reuters reported that day. (Liz Fuller) ARMENIAN SUPSOV CHAIRMAN ACCUSES GORBACHEV. Speaking at a news conference in Erevan May 7, Armenian Supreme Soviet chairman Levon Ter-Petrossyan accused Gorbachev of terrorizing Armenia and attempting to overthrow the Armenian government. Ter-Petrossyan said 23 people had been killed in the May 6 attack on the Armenian village of Voskepar, and that three further Armenian villages had been seized by Soviet and Azerbaijani troops May 7 and more than 20 people arrested. An AP correspondent in Armenia reported extensive destruction from artillery shells in Voskepar; there are unconfirmed reports (Reuters, AP, May 7) of atrocities committed by Soviet and Azerbaijani troops in Getashen. (Liz Fuller) GENERALS CRITICIZE TER-PETROSSYAN. First Deputy Defense Minister Konstantin Kochetov said in the May 7 Izvestia that army units have indeed taken part in recent military actions in Armenia, but denied charges by Ter-Petrossyan that tanks and heavy artillery were used. Kochetov said that several units from the Transcaucasus Military District were sent into action in order to disarm what he called illegal Armenian military units along the border (armed with weapons stolen from the Military District, he charged); helicopters were used to carry out reconnaissance. The Deputy Head of the USSR MVD troops, Lieutenant-General Boris Smyslov, is also quoted as accusing Ter-Petrossyan of spreading "lies and rubbish" (The Los Angeles Times, May 8). (Stephen Foye) RYZHKOV ENTERS RACE FOR RSFSR PRESIDENCY. Former Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzhkov officially has entered the race for the RSFSR presidency. He told a press conference, broadcast by TASS on May 7, that his election platform will be largely based on his former government program (which was even rejected by Gorbachev for being too cautious on reform). Ryzhkov attacked his successor Pavlov's anti-crisis program for unjust price increases. Ryzhkov said he disagrees with the RSFSR law on private ownership, indicating that privatization is going too far. He also seems to support a stronger role of the center by criticizing the transfer of Russian coal mines from USSR to RSFSR jurisdiction. (Alexander Rahr) POLOZKOV MET MILITARY, GROMOV NOMINATED FOR PRESIDENCY. RSFSR CP Chairman Ivan Polozkov told TASS on May 6 about a meeting between the leadership of the RSFSR CP and leaders of the USSR defense ministry which took place on April 30. Polozkov said that both sides discussed the results of the CPSU plenum at which he strongly opposed Gorbachev. Polozkov praised the military leadership for being "well-versed in the current situation." He also mentioned that General Boris Gromov has been nominated as a candidate for the RSFSR presidency. (Alexander Rahr) ARMY WANTS TO INFLUENCE RSFSR PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. Colonel General Nikolai Shlyaga, chief of the Main Political Administration, told representatives of that body on April 30 that the army should be working to influence the outcome of the RSFSR presidential election. According to Krasnaya zvezda of May 1, Shlyaga called for the creation of election committees and urged that servicemen be counselled on the relative merits of the candidates. Given Shlyaga's past statements, such actions are likely to constitute little less than an army campaign against Boris Yeltsin. The meeting also demonstrates the extent to which the allegedly depoliticized military-political organs continue to be directed by the Communist Party. (Stephen Foye) RSFSR PARLIAMENT DISCUSSES MEDIA COVERAGE OF ITS ACTIVITIES. The RSFSR Supreme Soviet opened May 7 with criticism of central Soviet media coverage of its sessions, especially TV coverage, Vremya reported yesterday. (Indeed, on many occasions Central Soviet TV has provided biased coverage of what was said at the RSFSR Parliament's proceedings). RSFSR People's Deputies advocated on May 7 the introduction of a new practice, according to which the press center of the RSFSR parliament would prepare its own reports on parliamentary sessions for subsequent dissemination by the media. Many journalists, present at the session, criticized the suggestion on the grounds that it amounted to an attempt at introducing media censorship, Vremya said. (Vera Tolz) RSFSR PARLIAMENT DISCUSSES LAW ON RECALLING OF DEPUTIES. On May 7, the RSFSR Supreme Soviet approved in principle a draft law on the procedure of recalling deputies. According to the law, a deputy will lose his position in the parliament if more than half of the electorate participating in the voting supports the recall, Vremya reported May 7. (Vera Tolz) COMMISSION SET UP TO INVESTIGATE MISTREATMENT OF GORYACHEVA. The RSFSR Supreme Soviet has set up a commission to investigate "facts of blackmail and threats" made by some people against Deputy Chairman of the RSFSR parliament Svetlana Goryacheva, Vremya reported May 7. In February, Goryacheva prepared a formal statement demanding the replacement of RSFSR Supreme Soviet Chairman Boris Yeltsin for his attack on Gorbachev. This action provoked sharp criticism from Yeltsin's supporters. Goryacheva claimed that in the course of this criticism threats were made against her and the members of her family (see Sovetskaya Rossiya, May 1). (Vera Tolz) REFORM FUND CREATED IN KAZAKHSTAN. On May 7, TASS, quoting Trud, reported the creation in Kazakhstan of a republican fund for economic and social reforms. The objective of the fund, which is being set up on the initiative of Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbaev, is to ensure financial support for projects to introduce market mechanisms and attract Soviet and foreign expertise. Among the creators of the fund are major industrial enterprises, which will presumably be expected to supply financing. (Bess Brown) COUNCIL OF ATAMANS DISCUSSES CONFLICT WITH INGUSH. At a press conference on May 7 Aleksandr Martynov, ataman of the Union of Cossacks, described the recent clash between Cossacks and Ingush in the Sunzha raion of Chechen-Ingushetia as part of a deliberate attempt on the part of the Ingush "to dislodge the Cossacks from their historic territory," TASS reported May 7. The press conference was held to report on an extraordinary session of the Council of Atamans in Moscow on May 6-7 that met to discuss the clash. The session adopted a resolution calling on the all-Union government to declare a state of emergency in the area and start disarming "Ingush bandit formations." (Ann Sheehy) COSSACKS SEEK SERVICE LOCALLY IN INTERNAL TROOPS, RESTORATION OF AUTONOMOUS OKRUG. The resolution also suggested that former Cossack conscripts should be called up to serve in the MVD internal troops in the area of conflict, and stated that the Cossacks would seek the restoration of the Sunzha Autonomous Cossack Okrug, abolished after the revolution, and compensation for the material damage suffered by families during the recent clash. (Ann Sheehy) DELEGATION OF UNION OF COSSACKS MEETS YANAEV. A delegation of the Union of Cossacks met USSR Vice-President Gennadii Yanaev on May 7 to report on the decisions of the session of the Council of Atamans, TASS reported May 7. The problem of interethnic conflict was also discussed in the broader context, and there was an exchange of opinions on the current activity of the Union of Cossacks aimed at reviving the Cossacks' cultural-historical and patriotic traditions. On May 6 the banner of the Union of Cossacks was blessed in the Church of the Ascension at Nikitskie Vorota in the presence of representatives of all 12 Cossack regiments in their traditional military garb, Moscow Radio reported May 6. (Ann Sheehy) CHECHEN-INGUSH CP INSISTS CHECHEN-INGUSHETIA SHOULD SIGN UNION TREATY IN ITS OWN RIGHT. A plenum of the republican committee of the CPSU on May 7 took the view that Chechen-Ingushetia should sign the Union treaty in its own right and not as part of an RSFSR delegation, TASS reported May 7. The plenum suggested that Communist deputies should support this stance at the session of the republic's Supreme Soviet on May 14. Such a stance conflicts with the agreement reportedly reached between Gorbachev and Yeltsin that the autonomous republics should not sign the Union treaty on their own account. (Ann Sheehy) MOLDAVIAN POPULAR FRONT WANTS TO EXPAND JEWISH TIES. In an interview published in Nash golos, the Jewish periodical of Moldavia and the Odessa oblast, on April 28, Moldavian Popular Front chairman Iurie Rosca described the Front's optimal relations with the Jewish community in Moldavia. While fully accepting the "political neutrality" officially proclaimed by the Jewish Cultural Society--the representative body of Moldavia's Jews--the Popular Front and the Moldavian government at the same time support "the Jewish cultural-democratic movement" promoted by the same society. Rosca also said that the Popular Front would like to expand the contacts, "both political and economic," it already has with Jewish organizations in the West. (Vladimir Socor) [as of 1300 CET] Compiled by Patrick Moore and Sallie Wise
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