|Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith. - Christopher Fry|
No. 91, 14 May 1991
BALTIC STATES PROTEST MARKING FOUR MONTH OCCUPATION. On May 13 about 2,000 people gathered in Vilnius to mark the fourth month of the occupation of the Vilnius television tower, during the storming of which 15 people were killed, Western agencies reported that day. Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius said that the Soviet military wanted to silence Lithuania, but Lithuanian voices ring louder than before. A hunger strike in front of the tower by Lithuanian journalists and technicians who lost their offices in the occupation continues, and the programs of the army-protected television station have a rating of only 3 percent. (Saulius Girnius) LANDSBERGIS IN CHICAGO. On May 13 Chairman of the Lithuanian Supreme Soviet Vytautas Landsbergis held his first press conference after meeting President Bush, the VOA Lithuanian Service reported on May 14. He was pleased with the support for Lithuanian independence that he saw among the American public, and said that Lithuania could not make concessions to the USSR to save Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev's face. That day he met with Cardinal Joseph Bernadin and the editors of The Chicago Sun-Times. On May 15 he will complete his visit to the US by opening a two-week long Lithuanian musical festival with performers from both Lithuania and abroad. (Saulius Girnius) SECOND ROUND OF LATVIAN-USSR TALKS PLANNED. Latvia's Deputy Prime Minister Ilmars Bisers told Radio Riga on May 13 that the next round of Latvian-USSR consultations is scheduled for May 23 in Riga. On the proposed agenda are the departure of MVD forces (including the OMON, or "Black Berets") from Latvia, and the existence of two procuracies in Latvia--one supports the idea of an independent Latvia and its present government and Supreme Council, while the other is loyal to the USSR. According to Diena of May 9, the Latvian delegation has expanded to include deputies Indulis Berzins, Juris Dobelis, and Andrejs Pantelejevs, while Sergejs Dimanis of the Ravnopravie faction was voted out essentially due to his opposition to Latvia's independence. (Dzintra Bungs) INCREASED SOVIET TROOP MOVEMENTS IN LATVIA. In reply to questions by the Latvian press, a spokesman for the USSR Baltic Military District said that the recent increase in Soviet troop movements in Latvia is to be attributed to maneuvers and training exercises. These are to last until June 1, reported Radio Riga on May 14. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIANS FILE CLAIMS FOR RETURN OF CONFISCATED FARMS. Latvians are continuing to file claims for the return of farms and other property that they owned before the Soviet regime confiscated them after World War II. The claims must be filed to the local authorities before June 20. This is a part of the privatization and denationalization process supported by the Latvian government and Supreme Council. Some farmsteads, nationalized in 1949 when farming was collectivized in Latvia, are already being worked by their rightful owners and their progeny, reported Radio Riga on May 13. (Dzintra Bungs) GYPSIES IN LATVIA ELECT REPRESENTATIVES. Radio Riga and TASS reported on May 9 that Gypsies in Latvia have elected three representatives to the Consultative Council of Nationalities, operating under the Supreme Council. Among the Council's tasks is participation in the drafting of laws and proposals regarding the different nationalities living in Latvia. There are about 6,000 Gypsies in Latvia, and they have their own cultural society, one of about twenty such organizations established by national minorities in Latvia during the past two years. (Dzintra Bungs) ALTERNATE SOURCES OF DRINKING WATER SOUGHT FOR RIGA. Radio Riga reported on May 13 that Riga officials are considering using subsoil water as a source of potable water for the Latvian capital. The main sources of drinking water heretofore, Daugava River and Jugla Lake, are thought to be too polluted. If subsoil water is used, then it would have to come from some distance, since it is important to maintain the present level of subsoil water in the vicinity of Riga on account of its proximity to the Baltic Sea. A relevant factor is that the long-planned sewage and effluent treatment plant for the city of Riga may finally become operational in July. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIAN-ESTONIAN BORDERS DISCUSSED. Working groups from Estonia and Latvia met recently to examine border issues between the two states, reported Radio Riga on May 13. Both sides agreed tentatively to maintain the pre-World War II borders. No serious disagreements are expected in future discussions. (Dzintra Bungs) BALTS PARTICIPATE IN CONFERENCE ON BALTIC SEA CLEANUP. About 50 representatives from countries around the Baltic Sea met in Stockholm from May 6 to 9 to seek ways to clean up the Baltic Sea and restore its ecological balance. They met within the organizational framework of the Helcom (Helsinki Commission) task force. Representatives from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania attended the information exchange meeting as "individual experts." This was, nonetheless, a breakthrough, since Baltic representatives were not admitted to an earlier Helcom meeting due to objections from Moscow, reported RFE/RL's correspondent from Stockholm and TASS on May 10. (Dzintra Bungs) USSR - ALL-UNION TOPICS EMIGRATION LAW STALLED. After two days of "stormy discussion," the USSR Supreme Soviet yesterday was still unable to pass the draft law on Entry and Exit from the USSR, TASS reported May 13. The Council of the Union, one chamber of the SupSov, passed the bill, but the other chamber -- the Council of Nationalities -- did not give it sufficient votes for passage. As a result, it was decided to create a conciliation commission to work out a compromise decision. TASS said the issue of the costs of implementing the law is the main obstacle to the legislation's passage, noting that the bill's critics consider those costs too high in view of the USSR's economic crisis. (Sallie Wise) YELTSIN CONFIRMS NO SECRET MEMORANDUM SIGNED. In his press interview on May 9, aired by Radio Rossii on May 11, RSFSR Supreme Soviet Chairman Boris Yeltsin confirmed that no secret memorandum had been signed at the meeting with Gorbachev and the leaders of eight other republics on April 23. He maintained, however, that agreement had been reached on a number of issues which had not been reflected in the declaration. These included such matters as transferring the right to license exports to the republics, foreign currency, and gold. (Ann Sheehy) SHCHERBAKOV, REPUBLICS MEET ON ECONOMIC REFORM. On April 13, Soviet Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Shcherbakov met with leaders of 11 republics and reached agreement on key elements of an economic reform program. According to agency accounts of an Interfax report from April 13, the three Baltic States and Georgia stayed away from yesterday's meeting, but were expected at follow-up sessions. Republican officials are to make amendments to Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov's anti-crisis measures in the near future before they adopt a final reform program. The RSFSR has formulated its own comprehensive reform program that contradicts Pavlov's plan on areas of economic jurisdiction. Ivan Silaev, the RSFSR prime minister, vowed to stand his ground on those issues. (John Tedstrom) GORBACHEV ORDERS "SPECIAL REGIME". An Interfax report carried these ominous words April 13, describing the package of measures Gorbachev has enacted to guarantee supply deliveries to key industries. As summarized by Western agencies April 13, Interfax did not define "special regime" nor reveal when it would take effect. Most likely, the measures are those Gorbachev announced last month to maintain established industrial relationships and enforce deliveries at agreed levels. Managers and ministry officials will probably come under increased pressure to ensure that key sectors of the economy--fuel and energy, machine building, agriculture, etc.--will have the type and quantity of inputs they require. (John Tedstrom) MORE CHANGES IN RETAIL PRICES... Most republics have now made changes to what were meant to be uniform retail prices of staple goods and services. Ukraine is the latest republic to announce its own alterations to the union-wide retail price hikes that were introduced on April 2. With effect from May 15, the prices of some meat products will be cut. The sales tax on certain utilities has also been repealed retroactive to May 1, TASS reported May 13. First Deputy Chairman of Goskomtsen, Anatolii Komin, went on Radio Rossii May 6 to deny that another round of price hikes is on the way that would, inter alia, boost the price of butter to 16 rubles a kilogram. (Keith Bush) AND IN COMPENSATION. A presidential decree on May 13 raised the scale of compensation to offset higher retail prices to parents with dependent children, Vremya reported May 14. Families with children under the age of 13 will receive an annual payment of 200 rubles and those with children over that age will be paid 250 rubles a year. The compensation is designed to offset the two- and three-fold increases in the prices of school uniforms and other items of children's clothing. (Keith Bush) UN FORCE FOR KURDS DISCUSSED. During their second round of talks yesterday (May 13) in Cairo, US Secretary of State James Baker and Foreign Minister Aleksandr Bessmertnykh discussed the prospect of replacing the US forces in northern Iraq with a UN-sanctioned humanitarian relief force. Bessmertnykh hinted that the idea would not sit well with Moscow, describing it as a "thin line that separates the necessity for humanitarian support and the concern for the sovereignty of countries," adding "it is a very intricate balance," wire services reported May 13. Moscow may fear the precedent which would be set by the use of UN forces to intervene in clashes between a central government and a national minority. (Suzanne Crow) TOUR CONTINUES. Bessmertnykh flew from Cairo to Riyadh on May 13 for meetings with King Fahd and Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal on May 14. Bessmertnykh will then go to Damascus and Geneva, where he will meet PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, TASS reported May 13. (Suzanne Crow) SOVIET-VIETNAMESE COMMUNIQUE. The visit to the USSR of Vietnam's Chairman of the Council of Ministers Do Muoi last week (May 5-9) yielded a joint communique on the state of Soviet-Vietnamese relations, TASS reported May 10. In the communique, the Soviet side "expressed support for the steps taken by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam toward the establishment peaceful, stable and cooperative relations in Southeast Asia, and its movement toward normalization of the SRV's relations with China and the United States." According to a Pravda report of May 12, the two sides "discovered that they have much in common" in transforming their economies from the command to the market structure. (Suzanne Crow) SHEVARDNADZE ON SOCIALISM. Speaking to Emory University graduates on May 13, former Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze said "a great scholar once said that in science only that is true which is also beautiful." Soviet leaders, he went on to say, "became convinced of this by observing our own example of the state of the [socialist society] which we constructed, and which was ugly and which turned out to be wrong," AP reported May 13. (Suzanne Crow) CREATION OF A PROFESSIONAL ARMY? Following the USSR Supreme Soviet's vote on May 12 that approved an experimental plan to staff some naval units on a volunteer contractual basis (see Daily Report, May 13), Vice President Anatolii Lukyanov declared that "a professional army is born." Such statements seem exaggerated. In fact, the approved "experiment" has long been discussed by Defense Ministry officials and is one of the half-hearted measures that the military leadership has substituted for radical reform. The Soviet armed forces will undoubtedly move toward greater professionalization, but the High Command also appears determined to maintain the present mass army based on conscript service. (Stephen Foye) MEETING OF ARMED FORCES AND CHURCH REPRESENTATIVES. Kazakhstanskaya pravda of April 25 reported a meeting between employees of the Kazakh military registration and enlistment office, representatives of USSR MVD troops, and leaders of various religious denominations. The military commissioner of the republic, Colonel L. Bakaev, noted that believers can have a positive influence upon those who are called to serve in the army. He called upon religious figures to be present when young people are called up to join the armed forces. Clergymen present criticized army life, and a representative of the Adventists urged passage of a law allowing alternative service. Army officials retorted that they are not entitled to change the laws, and called upon the religious representatives to search for common ground. (Oxana Antic) USSR - IN THE REPUBLICS ARMENIA -- AZERBAIJAN: TALKS ABOUT TALKS. Radio Moscow World Service May 13 reported that the prime ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Vazgen Manukyan and Gasan Gasanov, had discussed the possibility of holding talks during a telephone conversation the previous day. TASS on May 13 quoted Azerbaijani SupSov vice-chairman Tamerlan Karaev as calling for the negotiations between the two republics on condition that Armenia first renounces its territorial claims on Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijani President Ayaz Mutalibov last week categorically ruled out talks with Armenian Supreme Soviet chairman Levon Ter-Petrossyan. (Liz Fuller) ARMENIAN SUPSOV CHAIRMAN INTERVIEWED. In an interview published in the May 13 issue of Liberation, Armenian SupSov chairman Levon Ter-Petrossyan claimed to have proof that the Soviet troop actions in Armenia over the past two weeks were part of an overall plan that had been approved in advance by Gorbachev personally, and which he claimed was aimed at strengthening the position of Azerbaijani president Ayaz Mutalibov and demoralizing the Armenian population. He claimed that Armenia's land privatization program is already yielding results: whereas food prices are rocketing elsewhere in the USSR, in Armenia they remain stable. Ter-Petrossyan reaffirmed that the only solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh issue is peaceful negotiation. (Liz Fuller) RYZHKOV OFFICIALLY NOMINATED BY RCP. The RSFSR CP has endorsed Nikolai Ryzhkov as its official candidate for the RSFSR presidential elections, TASS reported May 13. But Russian Communists were split at the plenum and many speakers supported the candidacy of General Boris Gromov, according to agency reports the same day. The ultra-conservative wing of the RSFSR CP, the Initiative Congress of Russian Communists, also rejected Ryzhkov and endorsed its own candidate, economist Aleksei Sergeev, who favors a radical return to a planned economy. Regional Party committees immediately started a campaign for Ryzhkov, using old methods of manipulation. In the Far East, Ryzhkov's candidacy was supported at a meeting open only to those participants who had promised to back Ryzhkov, Radio Rossii reported May 13. (Alexander Rahr) RSFSR CP WANTS ELECTIONS POSTPONED. The RSFSR CP plenum called on the RSFSR Congress of People's Deputies to postpone the presidential elections for two or three months in order to give Yeltsin's opponents more time to conduct their campaigns, TASS reported on May 13. However, Vasilii Kazakov, chairman of the electoral commission, has rejected the idea of postponing the elections (see Daily Report, May 13). RSFSR Communists also objected to the provision in the RSFSR law on the presidency which requires that the future president should resign from the party of which he is a member. There were also demands that the future president should be elected by a majority of those registered to vote rather than by 50% of those actually voting. (Alexander Rahr) POLOZKOV, LIGACHEV SUPPORT RYZHKOV. RSFSR CP leader Ivan Polozkov told TASS on May 13 that Ryzhkov could win if his Party fully supports him. Radio Rossii on May 12 also quoted former Politburo member Egor Ligachev as saying that he will campaign for Ryzhkov. (Alexander Rahr) TASKS OF RSFSR KGB. The acting chief of the RSFSR KGB, General Viktor Ivanenko, told Izvestia on May 9 that although the functions of the USSR and the RSFSR KGBs remain intertwined, the USSR KGB will deal with counterespionage while the RSFSR KGB will concentrate on such areas as terrorism, internal riots, organized crime and corruption. Thus, the RSFSR KGB is taking over almost the entire domestic branch of the previous KGB--at least on Russian territory--, leaving the central KGB in charge of all foreign activities. Ivanenko seems to indicate that a division of the KGB into a foreign and an internal security service, as practiced in the West, is now under consideration. (Alexander Rahr) ABDULATIPOV ON AUTONOMOUS REPUBLICS SIGNING UNION TREATY. Ramazan Abdulatipov, chairman of the RSFSR Council of Nationalities, confirmed to TASS on May 13 that all the autonomous republics of the RSFSR except Tatarstan had agreed at the meeting with Gorbachev and RSFSR SupSov Chairman Boris Yeltsin on May 12 to sign the Union treaty as part of the RSFSR delegation. He said this would in no way infringe upon their statehood or sovereignty and they would sign as "equal subjects simultaneously both of the USSR and the RSFSR." He added that relations between the RSFSR and its autonomous republics are to be discussed by the RSFSR Supreme Soviet on May 16 in the context of the draft RSFSR federal treaty. (Ann Sheehy) DAGESTAN DECLARATION OF SOVEREIGNTY. On May 13 the congress of people's deputies of Dagestan declared the autonomous republic to be the Dagestan SSR, Moscow Radio reported. At the same time it confirmed that it remained part of the RSFSR. Dagestan is the last of the 16 autonomous republics of the RSFSR to adopt a declaration of sovereignty. (Ann Sheehy) UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT RESTRUCTURED. The Ukrainian Supreme Soviet yesterday approved the restructuring of the government, replacing the Council of Ministers with a streamlined Cabinet of Ministers, Ukrinform-TASS reported May 13. In accordance with Ukraine's declaration of sovereignty, the republican KGB is to be subordinated to the Supreme Soviet and its chairman will have ministerial rank. (Roman Solchanyk) FURTHER RESTRUCTURING PLANNED. Radio Kiev and Ukrinform-Tass reported on May 13 that additional ministries of higher, specialized and secondary education, foreign trade, commerce, transport, internal affairs and ecology will be established. In addition, a State Television and Radio company will be established. The Ukrainian Supreme Soviet, however, declined to transfer jurisdiction of the republican bank to the Cabinet of Ministers. (Valentyn Moroz) ECONOMIC LAWS ADOPTED BY UKRAINIAN SUPSOV. Radio Kiev reported on May 12 that the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet has adopted a law on consumer rights, which is to become effective October 1, a law on curbing monopolies and development of competition, and a law on speculation and abuses in retail sales. The republican Supreme Soviet is also working on taxation law. (Valentyn Moroz) UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER ENDS VISIT TO GREECE. Radio Kiev reported May 12 that Vitold Fokin's week-long visit to Greece may result in two cooperation agreements. The Greek government agreed "not to object" to a visit by a group of Ukrainian specialists for restoration work on a monastery which is of historical significance to Ukrainian Orthodox believers. During his meeting with his Greek counterpart, Fokin also discussed a multi-million contract for an underground system in the cities of Athens and Thessaloniki. (Valentyn Moroz) FOKIN TO PRESS FOR GREATER ECONOMIC FREEDOM IN MOSCOW. According to Radio Kiev on May 13, during talks on the anti-crisis program in Moscow the Ukrainian prime minister intends to ask for full jurisdiction over all union enterprises on Ukrainian soil, republican finances, foreign trade and social policy. (Valentyn Moroz) CONGRESS OF POLISH MINORITY IN UKRAINE. The first congress of Poles in Ukraine was recently held in the Ukrainian capital, Radio Kiev reported May 13. The congress was attended by 340 delegates and guests from Moscow, Leningrad, Belorussia, Moldavia, and Poland. (Roman Solchanyk) DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENTS IN CENTRAL ASIA UNITE. Radio Moscow reported on May 13 that a congress of Soviet democratic parties and movements has concluded without reaching agreement on the creation of an all-Union Democratic Party. The democratic movements in the Central Asian republics decided, however, to establish a Regional Congress of Democratic Forces. Democratic groups in all five Central Asian republics are to participate. (Bess Brown) DRAFT LAW ON CITIZENSHIP IN KAZAKHSTAN. The May 6 issue of Izvestia reports that a draft law on republican citizenship has been drawn up in Kazakhstan. The draft, according to the report, requires that a citizen of Kazakhstan uphold the state and economic sovereignty of the republic, accept its present borders and actively participate in the use of its state language (Kazakh) in public life. The latter two stipulations may cause lively discussions in the northern oblasts of the republic, where largely non-Kazakh populations have protested against being required to learn Kazakh. (Bess Brown) TURKMEN PRESIDENT ON REPUBLIC'S SOVEREIGNTY. Questioned by a correspondent about Turkmenistan's establishment of trade and other ties with foreign countries, republican president Saparmurad Niyazov attributed this development to the republic's recently-declared sovereignty, which has given it a freedom of action previously unknown. No one from outside, said Niyazov, can influence Turkmenistan's personnel and investment policies. The decision to create a new oblast was taken without consulting Moscow. He also jeered at local informal groups for merely complaining about problems while the government is taking steps to solve them. The interview appears in Nedelya of April 29. (Bess Brown) MOLDAVIAN SUPREME SOVIET BEGINS CRUCIAL SESSION. The Moldavian Supreme Soviet begins today a session which is due to consider draft laws on changing the name of the republic, republican citizenship, alternative military service, republican referendums, freedom of the press and the operation of the mass media, administrative reform, banking, privatization of state property, and agrarian reform, among other bills prepared mostly by Popular Front deputies and the Popular Front-dominated Presidium of the Supreme Soviet. Moldavian deputies informed RFE/RL by telephone May 13 about the proposed agenda. (Vladimir Socor) OPPOSITION TO PROPOSED MOLDAVIAN LEGISLATION. Most of the bills to be considered at the Supreme Soviet session are being opposed by the Agrarians, a large group of nationally-minded but pro-socialist Moldavian deputies who have broken ranks with the Popular Front and joined with the (mostly Russian) communist deputies to oppose the reforms. The Agrarians and the communists have submitted their own agenda for the session, calling for the ouster of the radical reformist government of Mircea Druc, the replacement of the Supreme Soviet Presidium, and Moldavia's return to the talks on the treaty of Union. (Vladimir Socor) CORRECTION. Yesterday's Daily Report incorrectly identified the dates of General Staff Chief Mikhail Moiseev's visit to Canada. Moiseev arrived in Canada on May 10, the same day in which a military cooperation pact was signed between the two countries. He will be in Canada until May 15, when he is scheduled to travel to Washington.
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