|This communicating of a man's self to his friend works two contrary effects; for it redoubleth joy, and cutteth griefs in half. - Francis Bacon|
No. 94, 17 May 1991
BALTIC STATES NO STRIKE IN LATVIA, AS THREATENED. Earlier this month, threats of a political strike for May 14 and 15 were voiced by various workers and soldiers' groups in Latvia. Support for such actions was voiced by Latvian Communist Party First Secretary Alfreds Rubiks. All of these groups want Latvia to remain a part of the USSR. Deputy Eduards Berklavs told the RFE/RL Latvian Service on May 16 that the strikes did not take place and said that apparently there had not been enough popular support for such activity in Latvia. (Dzintra Bungs) SOVIET ARMY ESTABLISHES CHECK POINTS. On May 16 armed Soviet soldiers set up check points on five Lithuanian highways with signs in Russian stating that they were identity check points, Radio Vilnius in English reported that day. On May 17 Radio Independent Lithuania quoted Lithuanian parliament spokesman Audrius Azubalis as saying that he had no information that the soldiers had as yet halted any automobiles. (Saulius Girnius) LANDSBERGIS IN GERMANY. Chairman of the Lithuanian Supreme Council Vytautas Landsbergis, after completing an 11-day visit to the US, flew to Germany on May 17, Radio Independent Lithuania reported that day. Landsbergis will meet with Bundestag President Rita Suessmuth, Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Hans Stercken, German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, and Social Democratic Foreign Affairs spokesman Norbert Gansel, a RFE/RL correspondent in Bonn reported on May 16. (Saulius Girnius) SOVIET UNION OF JOURNALISTS PROTESTS RESTRICTIONS IN LITHUANIA. On May 16 the Union of Journalists of the USSR issued a statement expressing its deep concern about restrictions on freedom of the press in Lithuania, TASS reported that day. The statement said that the continuing presence of Soviet troops at the Vilnius television center and press house denied hundreds of journalists the opportunity to work, and aggravated anti-army feelings in Lithuania. The union said that Soviet press laws were being flouted and international agreements that the USSR had signed were crudely violated. (Saulius Girnius) US STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIALS IN LITHUANIA. Radio Vilnius in English reported on May 16 that US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Curtis Kamman and State Department Coordinator of Baltic Affairs Paul Goble had met that day with the three deputy chairmen of the Lithuanian parliament and discussed negotiations on independence between Lithuania and the USSR. The officials were planning to fly to Moscow from Vilnius for talks with officials of the USSR Foreign Ministry. (Saulius Girnius) USSR - ALL-UNION TOPICS GORBACHEV ISSUES EMERGENCY ECONOMIC MEASURES. Claiming that the country is in a crisis that threatens to leave millions unemployed, President Mikhail Gorbachev decreed emergency measures to guarantee operations in primary industries. The decree, carried by TASS May 16, takes effect immediately and targets the energy sector, metallurgy, and railways. The decree is a classic example of the long unrealistic command-from-above approach. (John Tedstrom) WHAT THE MEASURES SAY. All-Union, republican, and local authorities are instructed to take extreme measures to ensure maintenance of adequate supplies and operating conditions in the relevant industries. All strikes and other "conflicts" between labor and management are forbidden. Enterprises are to work under a system of state orders, but will be allowed to sell up to 10% of their output at contract prices on the domestic market, or will be able to export them once they have already met planned export quotas. For every 1% increase in real output over the level achieved in January-April of this year, the government will increase an enterprise's consumption fund by 5%. The Cabinet of Ministers is to take action to implement more detailed measures within the next two weeks. (John Tedstrom) WHY THE MEASURES WON'T WORK. Several issues will doubtless render the decree ineffective. First, jurisdictional questions are currently the most difficult in negotiations between the center and periphery over economic reform. For example, having recently gained control of its coal industry, the RSFSR is not likely to bow to diktat from the center. Second, in view of the current Soviet budget deficit, it is unfathomable how Gorbachev plans to finance these measures. Third, a crucial problem in all Soviet primary industries is that the capital base is so outdated as to be virtually useless in many areas. Even with republican and local cooperation, it is highly unlikely that these measures will work, resulting in further conflicts between center and periphery and between labor and management. (John Tedstrom) CENTER, REPUBLICS REACH AGREEMENT--FOR NOW. Although details have yet to be published, Soviet Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov indicated that on May 16, the "program of joint action of the government of the USSR and the union republics became reality," according to TASS, May 16. Pavlov noted that there were many skeptics who have doubts about the durability of the new agreement. Pavlov also stated that he had no illusions about his ability to satisfy everyone. Details on the agreement are expected in the course of the next few days, but one must wonder how long this tenuous coalition between the center and periphery can last, given separatist tendencies on the part of the republics and forecasts for continuing deterioration of the economy. (John Tedstrom) PAVLOV COMMENTS ON ECONOMIC TRENDS. Soviet Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov made some harsh and grim predictions about the future of the Soviet economy May 16, according to TASS and Western reports of his remarks to reporters that day. Pavlov predicted that the damage done to the coal and metallurgical industries as a result of the recent miners' strikes will be so bad that closure of several mines, coking facilities, and metallurgical plants will be inevitable. He also said that he was against dividing up the hard currency debt of the USSR among more financially independent republics, and that the monetary reform that took 50- and 100-ruble notes out of circulation was a positive measure that took some 13 billion rubles out of the economy. (John Tedstrom) SHCHERBAKOV WEIGHS IN AS WELL. Both Pavlov and his deputy, Vladimir Shcherbakov rejected the ideas Grigorii Yavlinsky expressed in his interview in the current issue of Moscow News, according to TASS on May 16. In that interview, Yavlinsky asserts that the "Group of 7" are planning further credits to the USSR only on condition that his radical reform plan is adopted. Shcherbakov insisted that such talks must take place at an official level. He and/or Pavlov, along with Evgenii Primakov, plan to travel to Washington in the near future to discuss cooperation with the G-7. Commenting on planned strikes of pilots and air traffic controllers on May 21, Shcherbakov curtly noted that such action will quickly be recognized as illegal and appropriate measures will then be taken. (John Tedstrom) EMIGRATION LAW FAILS AGAIN. Only two votes were lacking for final passage of the long-suffering Law on Entry and Exit from the USSR in a Supreme Soviet vote May 16, TASS and Central TV reported that day. Since May 7, the law, aimed at allowing Soviet citizens to leave and return to their country freely, has been put to a vote three times, but every time voted down by the conservative majority in the parliament. Not only the liberal intelligentsia, but also representatives of the establishment such as Politburo member Aleksandr Dzasokhov and Chairman of the Council of the Union Ivan Laptev have argued in favor of the law. Members of the conservative "Souyz" faction have spoken against it. The next hearing of the law is scheduled for May 20. (Julia Wishnevsky) LAW ON KGB ADOPTED. On May 16 the USSR Supreme Soviet adopted, on its second reading, the law on the KGB. The law stipulates that the USSR and republican KGBs are a "single system of state security organs" and that the USSR KGB "controls and coordinates" the activities of republican committees for state security. Although the law became effective immediately, its does not eliminate secret acts concerning the KGB adopted in past years. The latter will be valid until 1992. The amended text of the new law has not been published in full in the mass media. The Supreme Soviet rejected a proposal to delete from the KGB internal statute a mention of institutional continuity between the KGB and its original predecessor, the VCheka. (Russian BD/Victor Yasmann) KRYUCHKOV'S SPEECH. KGB Chairman Vladimir Kryuchkov expressed his gratitude to SupSov Deputies for the smooth adoption of the law. "With this law you have put a powerful weapon in our hands, but we are going to use it only in a legal way", he said. Kryuchkov called for consensus on a way out of the crisis experienced by the USSR. He also noted mysteriously that the KGB "has many friends abroad, and we know how they think, they are together with us these days. I hope that the adoption of this law will better allow them to enter into cooperation with us." (Victor Yasmann) SINO-SOVIET BORDER PACT SIGNED. As expected, Gorbachev and Chinese CP General Secretary Jiang Zemin yesterday signed an agreement regulating a large part of the USSR's border with China, TASS and Western agencies reported May 16. The accord, which was initialled last month, does not address the thorniest issues of the long-standing Sino-Soviet border dispute, however, and negotiations on border questions will continue. Jiang also met with Pavlov and with Vice-President Anatolii Luk'yanov yesterday. His talks with Pavlov touched on the problems on instituing a market economy. TASS reports of all Jiang's talks with Soviet officials stress the positive atmosphere of the visit. (Sallie Wise) SOVIET-NORTH KOREAN TRADE ACCORD. In a May 13 Radio Moscow interview, Aleksandr Kachanov, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Economic Relations, said in the Soviet-North Korean trade agreement for 1991 the two countries had agreed on a list of commodities to be delivered to the USSR in return for the cancellation of North Korean debts to the Soviet Union. The commodities will include consumer goods, minerals (barites, magnesium, zinc) from North Korea, and coke, petroleum, metals from the USSR. Kachanov noted that the USSR had agreed to provide loans to North Korea and cooperate in the construction of the East Pyongyang thermal power plant. (Suzanne Crow) SHEVARDNADZE CALLS FOR UN MEDIATION IN USSR. Speaking at a news conference late on May 15 in San Francisco, former Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze said, "I think the United Nations should have more to say in the settlement of domestic conflicts." Shevardnadze admitted that "I know this suggestion will cause some very intense reactions, including in my own country." The Soviet Union has "had bad training in the matter of resolving domestic conflicts," he said. "We've managed to settle some international conflicts, but when it comes to domestic ones, they have to be worked out." He added, "I agree it would be a pretty complicated matter," Western agencies reported May 16. (Suzanne Crow) SOVIET PAPERS CLOSE THEIR OFFICES IN CUBA. The Soviet Union's largest daily circulation newspaper, the trade union daily Trud, has closed its bureau in Cuba, TASS, in English, reported May 16. Another paper, Komsomol'skaya pravda, closed its office there a few days ago. TASS said the political magazine, Novoe vremya ("New Times") and the journal Latinskaya Amerika will shortly do the same. The agency said publishers are closing their bureaus because of financial difficulties and hard currency shortages. (NCA/Vera Tolz) UPDATE ON SOVIET-GERMAN HOUSING ROW. Upset that non-German firms received the contracts to build the first 3,000 of 36,000 housing units for returning Soviet soldiers (see Daily Report, May 10), Bonn said on May 16 that it is prepared to send Economics Minister Juergen Moellemann to Moscow to discuss the issue. Moellemann said that Bonn does not expect to win all the housing contracts, but does want to have "considerable involvement," Western agencies reported. On May 14, according to Novosti, a Soviet Defense Ministry official said that a compromise on the awarding of the contracts was possible, but that it would require intervention by the political leadership of both sides. (NCA/Stephen Foye) MOISEEV AND CFE AGREEMENT. General Staff Chief Mikhail Moiseev has returned to the Soviet Union following a five-day trip to Canada, TASS reported on May 16. Originally scheduled to fly directly to Washington from Canada on May 15, Moiseev's return to Moscow is apparently linked to a new initiative on the CFE agreement announced by the Soviet side that same day. On May 15, Interfax reported that an aide to Moiseev had announced Moscow's willingness to "make substantial concessions" to the US on CFE when Moiseev arrives in Washington on May 20. According to Western agency accounts, the concessions would involve cuts in army forces reassigned to Soviet coastal defense and other naval units--moves that US and European governments had rejected in principle. (Stephen Foye) KVITSINSKY PROMOTED. Yulii Kvitsinsky has been promoted to the post of First Deputy Foreign Minister, TASS reported on May 15. The 54-year-old Kvitsinsky is a specialist on German affairs and arms control. In the mid 1980s, he headed the Soviet delegation to the START talks in Geneva. He was Soviet ambassador to West Germany from 1986 to 1990, and was made a deputy foreign minister last year 1990. In his new position as first deputy to Aleksandr Bessmertnykh, it is likely that he will be responsible for European affairs. (Alexander Rahr) USSR - IN THE REPUBLICS EXPLOSION AT DEMOCRATIC RUSSIA MOVEMENT HEADQUARTERS. Eyewitnesses told RFE/RL that an explosion damaged the Democratic Russia movement's headquarters in Moscow on May 16. Reporting on the incident as well, The Baltimore Sun (May 17), called it "the first political bombing in the capital for more than a decade." An official of the movement, Lyudmila Sibenkova, told RFE/RL that the explosion occurred in a room that was being used to store the signatures being gathered for the candidacy of Boris Yeltsin for the upcoming RSFSR presidential elections. No damage estimate was immediately available, but no injuries were reported. (NCA/Vera Tolz) YELTSIN GIVES DEADLINE TO USSR CABINET OF MINISTERS. RSFSR Supreme Soviet Chairman Boris Yeltsin has given the USSR Cabinet of Ministers two weeks to repeal measures it has taken that impede the development of a decentralized economy in the Russian republic. Yeltsin also said that he has signed legislation to stimulate entrepreneurial activity in the RSFSR. Under the order, to be published in the next few days, some 2.5 billion rubles worth of unfinished construction projects will be auctioned off to the public. This is consistent with plans for economic reform contained in the "Silaev" program. Yeltsin made his remarks in a plenary session of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet May 16, according to wire sources. (John Tedstrom) RSFSR DUMPS SALES TAX. According to Radio Moscow May 16, RSFSR Prime Minister Ivan Silaev signed a decree abolishing the 5% "sales" tax on almost all food products. The tax had already been removed from many other goods in the republic. The tax remains on alcohol, coffee, tobacco and chocolate. Both the RSFSR economic reform program and the all-Union or "Pavlov" plan call for the sales tax to be replaced by a value added tax. An additional excise or "sin" tax is to be added to alcohol and precious materials, among other goods, in the RSFSR. (John Tedstrom) KRYUCHKOV CONCEDES ATROCITIES COMMITTED AGAINST ARMENIANS. Armenian SupSov chairman Levon Ter-Petrossyan told a Erevan news conference May 16 that USSR KGB chairman Vladimir Kryuchkov had conceded that troops had committed plunder, murder and rape during actions against Armenian villages. Kryuchkov said that in future Azerbaijani MVD troops will no longer participate in actions in Nagorno-Karabakh, and the Soviet Army will intervene "only in an emergency." Soviet President Gorbachev was reportedly "too busy" to discuss the situation in the Transcaucasus with Ter-Petrossyan May 15. (AFP, May 16) (Liz Fuller) THREE AZERBAIJANIS SENTENCED FOR BAKU ANTI-ARMENIAN POGROMS. TASS reported May 16 that three Azerbaijani refugees from Armenia had been sentenced in Baku to up to 15 years' imprisonment for their part in the anti-Armenian pogroms in Baku in January, 1990. (Liz Fuller) GEORGIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE'S SUPPORTERS ATTACKED. Izvestia May 14 carried a dispatch from Tbilisi giving details of a raid May 12 by Georgian militia on the office of presidential candidate Valerian Advadze, director of the Institute of Planning and Management of the National Economy and leader of the moderate National Accord and Revival bloc. A Georgian MVD spokesman claimed that Advadze's supporters hindered the militia in attempts to establish the identity of Advadze's bodyguard. Writer Chabua Amiredzhibi was badly beaten up; historian Guram Qoranashvili suffered a broken arm. Advadze subsequently declared a hungerstrike in protest (see Daily Report, May 15). (Liz Fuller) MORE ON CONGRESS OF DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENTS. Abdurrakhim Pulatov, vice-chairman of Uzbekistan's Popular Front "Birlik", has told RFE/RL that the recent gathering of Soviet democratic parties in Dushanbe included representatives of "Birlik" and the Democratic Party of Uzbekistan, the moderate "Azat" movement of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyzstan Democratic Movement, Tajikistan's Popular Front "Rastokhez" and the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan. The Congress of Democrats of Central Asia, which was formed at the meeting, aspires to replace the Communist-ruled governments of the Central Asian republics with democratic ones. (Uzbek BD) KAZAKHSTAN LEGISLATORS CRITICIZE GOVERNMENT. Radio Moscow reported on May 16 that a group of deputies to Kazakhstan's Supreme Soviet has sent an open letter to republican President Nursultan Nazarbaev and Prime Minister Uzakbai Karamanov, criticizing the Cabinet of Ministers for having offered the Supreme Soviet a vague and unrealistic scheme instead of a concrete program for stabilizing the economy. Among the reasons for the continuing crisis in the republic, the legislators cited the presence of holdovers from the former Council of Ministers and the failure of the Cabinet to carry out the instructions of the Supreme Soviet. They suggested a series of practical measures for radical change. (Bess Brown) VANDALISM IN TATAR OIL FIELDS. About 60 automatically- controlled oil wells have been put out of action in Tatarstan, TASS reported May 16 citing Trud. The loss from each well is approximately 300 tons of oil a day. The authorities are investigating to see if the vandalism was the result of hooliganism or political sabotage. Recently activists of the Tatar Public Centre tried to shut off the "Druzhba" pipeline in the republic to signal the republic's sovereign ownership of its oil wealth. (Ann Sheehy) USSR CONSULTS UN BODY ON LEGISLATION ON INTERNAL REFUGEES. Oldrik Andrisek, head of the European section of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, told TASS on May 16 that, although the USSR had not yet signed international agreements and conventions on refugees, it had already submitted to the UN body two draft laws on the status of refugees presented by the Union and Russian governments. The UN body was now seeking to open its own office in Moscow, which could analyse the situation on the spot. TASS reported on May 15 that the number of internal refugees as a result of interethnic conflict was over 665,000. (Ann Sheehy) MOLDAVIAN PARLIAMENT TO CONSIDER INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM. After voting on May 14 to consider the draft law on republican referendums (see Daily Report, May 15), the Moldavian Supreme Soviet voted May 15 to consider immediately afterward another draft law on instituting a republican referendum on the question of independence. The proposal was the Popular Front's, but it took President Mircea Snegur's intervention to ensure passage. "When it comes to our independence, our position is unshakable, it is the people's will, a will to be sanctioned through this referendum," Snegur told the parliament, as cited by Moldovapres May 16. (Vladimir Socor) MOLDAVIA HEADED FOR PRESIDENTIAL GOVERNMENT. According to the same source, the Moldavian Supreme Soviet resolved to consider a draft law on the election of the republic's President by popular vote, to organize the presidential election immediately upon adoption of that law, and to complete without delay the transformation of the Council of Ministers into a Presidential cabinet. Snegur, a likely landslide winner, has already asked Prime Minister Mircea Druc to resign, Moldavian Popular Front sources told RFE/RL by telephone from Kishinev yesterday. The move severely weakens the Popular Front's influence on the executive power. The Front's dominance of the legislature has also been reduced through the Agrarian deputies' defection last month. (Vladimir Socor)
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