|If you wish to live wisely, ignore sayings--including this one. - Heywood Broun|
No. 95, 21 May 1991
BALTIC STATES INCIDENTS ON LITHUANIAN-BELORUSSIAN BORDER. On May 18 Belorussian police captain Alexander Bijan, dressed in civilian clothes, was stopped at a Lithuanian customs post on the Belorussian border, The Los Angeles Times reported on May 20. Bijan leaped out of his car, firing a pistol, and was shot dead by a member of the Lithuanian National Defense department. On May 19 defense department Captain Gintaras Zigunis was shot dead in an ambush at the border post of Krikunai. On May 17 about 30 Soviet paratroopers shot at and burned a Lithuania customs post and on May 20 three other Lithuanian customs posts were burned down. (Saulius Girnius) LITHUANIA-BELORUSSIA TALKS. On May 20 Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius told the RFE Lithuanian Service that he and Belorussian Prime Minister Vyacheslav Kebich had decided to form a joint commission to investigate the recent attacks. The Belorussian authorities are cooperating with Lithuanian officials and a Belorussian deputy interior minister has travelled to Vilnius. Belorussia has arrested three persons in connection with the murder of Zigunis, one of whom is Bijan's brother. (Saulius Girnius) LANDSBERGIS IN GERMANY. Chairman of the Lithuanian Supreme Council Vytautas Landsbergis arrived in Bonn on May 17 where he held talks with Bundestag President Rita Suessmuth, Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Hans Stercken, Christian Democratic parliamentary manager Friedrich Bohl, and Chancellery Minister of State Lutz Stavenhagen, a RFE/RL correspondent in Bonn reported that day. In the evening he held an interview with German television that will be broadcast on May 26. He returned to Lithuania on May 19, flying through Warsaw. (Saulius Girnius) MOSCOW POSTPONES TALKS WITH LATVIA. Radio Riga reported on May 20 that Moscow had informed Latvian authorities that it was not ready for the second round of consultations between Latvian and Soviet representatives that was scheduled to start in Jurmala on May 23. Latvia's Deputy Prime Minister Ilmars Bisers said that no explanation was given for Moscow's desire to postpone the talks until June 6 and 7. Valentin Ogarok, member of the Soviet delegation for talks with Latvia, told TASS on May 20 that Vladimir Velichko, chairman of the Soviet delegation and First Deputy Prime Minister of the USSR, was preoccupied with "urgent state matters" and needs to leave on an "urgent business trip." (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIA DECLINES TO TRANSFER MONEY TO USSR BUDGET. On May 15, the Latvian government decided not to transfer money to the USSR budget, according to Diena of May 16. The stated reason for the Latvian decision was the dissatisfaction expressed by the USSR Finance Ministry over Latvia's willingness to contribute only 350 million rubles--a sum Moscow considered to be much too small. Deputy Prime Minister Bisers expressed surprise over this reaction, especially since the USSR had not made similar demands of Moldavia or Lithuania. Supreme Council Chairman Anatolijs Gorbunovs told RFE/RL on May 18 that the Latvian decision should be seen in the context of the ongoing bargaining process between Latvia and the USSR. (Dzintra Bungs) MITTERRAND TO GORBUNOVS: OPTIMISTIC SIGNALS ON BALTIC INDEPENDENCE. In an interview with RFE/RL's Latvian Service on May 18, Gorbunovs said that after his one-hour meeting with French President Francois Mitterrand on May 17, he felt that the French leadership was clearly supportive of Baltic independence. Mitterrand had told Gorbunovs that if the Balts pursue a correct and skillful strategy, then the question of Baltic independence can be resolved in a short time. Gorbunovs pointed out that Mitterrand had taken the time to see him shortly after his visit in Moscow and talks with Gorbachev, and during a hectic period when a new French government was being formed. (Dzintra Bungs) HUMAN RIGHTS CONFERENCE IN HAGUE LOOKS AT BALTIC SITUATION. Delegates from the US, Great Britain, Netherlands, USSR, RSFSR, and the three Baltic States met in the Hague last week at a conference "On Human and National Rights," sponsored by the De Burght Conference, the RFE Lithuanian Service reported on May 15 and 16. The Baltic delegations had about 7 members each. The USSR delegation was headed by USSR Supreme Soviet presidium member Georgii Tarazevich. The conference focused most of its attention on the situation in the Baltic States. Its final document called for the participation of the Balts in the Helsinki process, condemned the Soviet military attacks in Vilnius and Riga in January, and created a working commission and consultative council that would study the question of the separation of the Balts from the USSR. (Saulius Girnius) USSR - ALL-UNION TOPICS EMIGRATION LAW ADOPTED. On the fourth try, the USSR Supreme Soviet finally approved the Law on Entry and Exit From the USSR, Soviet TV reported May 20. The law gives Soviet citizens the right to leave their country and to return, as well as the right to possess documents allowing them to go abroad within five years, rather than to apply to the authorities for an exit visa on an individual basis. However the law will only come into effect on January 1, 1993. SupSov deputies argued that some provisions of the law could be implemented before this date. A representative of the Cabinet is expected to visit the Supreme Soviet within the next two weeks to explain what the government can do to enforce the law step by step. (Julia Wishnevsky) STRIKE AVERTED. A last-minute concession by the Soviet government has averted a strike that threatened to cripple air transport throughout the Soviet Union today (May 21). The government agreed last night--30 minutes before the strike deadline--to give pilots and air traffic controllers pay raises averaging 60%, as well as other benefits. The air traffic controllers had demanded triple pay. Today's Soviet media say airline personnel reported for work this morning and that all Soviet airports are operating normally. (NCA) CFE TREATY TALKS SHOW LITTLE PROGRESS. Talks involving Soviet General Staff Chief Mikhail Moiseev and senior State Department officials on the stalled CFE treaty held in Washington on May 20 made little progress, according to The Washington Post of May 21. Moiseev flew to Washington in an apparent effort to end the impasse, and is scheduled to meet on May 21 with Secretary of State James Baker and General Colin Powell. The dispute involves tanks, armored combat vehicles, and artillery which the Soviets have transferred from army to naval units. The obstacles have also hindered progress on the signing of a START treaty and on the scheduling of a Bush-Gorbachev summit. The Washington Post of May 20 reported that the Moiseev meeting is part of a broader US policy of expanding contacts with military and hard-line forces in the USSR. (Stephen Foye) CHINESE CP LEADER'S VISIT ENDS. Chinese CP leader Jiang Zemin returned to Beijing May 20 after his "successful" five-day visit to the USSR, TASS, Xinhua and Western agencies reported that day. The Chinese Party newspaper People's Daily praised Jiang's talks with Soviet leaders as "a new milestone in the good-neighborly relations between China and the Soviet Union." A joint communique issued at the end of Jiang's trip, as reported by Xinhua, observed that "differences in social system, economic model and path of development should not be allowed to hinder normal state-to-state relations and cooperation." Jiang spent two days in Leningrad after talks in Moscow, and met reformist Leningrad city soviet chairman Anatolii Sobchak as well as Leningrad CP chief Boris Gidaspov. (NCA/Sallie Wise) SHLYAGA VISITS SYRIA. The Head of the Main Political Administration and First Deputy Defense Minister wound up a visit to Syria on May 18, according to a TASS report. While there, Colonel General Nikolai Shlyaga met with leading Syrian military and government figures and held talks on strengthening military cooperation between the two countries. Shlyaga is a hard-line political officer who spent many years working in the Central Committee apparatus. (Stephen Foye) YAVLINSKY IN US TO RAISE SUPPORT, MONEY. Grigorii Yavlinsky, one of the chief architects of the "500 Days" program, flew to Boston May 19 to consult with Western economists on the latest plan for radical reform of the Soviet economy. Yavlinsky's new plan, co-sponsored by the RSFSR and the USSR, has the blessings of both RSFSR Supreme Soviet Chairman Boris Yeltsin and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, according to Western and Soviet wire reports May 20. The plan proposes to swap concrete reform measures in exchange for Western support and aid. Yavlinsky hopes that the draft plan can be completed before the Group of 7 meets in London in July so that it can be discussed in detail there. (John Tedstrom) AGREEMENT NEAR ON ANTI-CRISIS PROGRAM? The Wall Street Journal of May 20 and The Times (London) of the same date both suggest that agreement has been reached between Moscow and most of the republics on the shape of the anticrisis program. RSFSR Prime Minister Ivan Silaev told the WSJ that concessions had been made to the republics on such vital issues as contributions to the union budget, control of foreign trade, the division of foreign debt and hard currency reserves, and the composition of the central bank. As Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev told The Times, the final program will clearly be "quite different" from the draft that was published, then withdrawn, by TASS on April 9. (Keith Bush) SILAYEV CAUTIOUS ON RECOVERY TIMETABLE. Both Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov and Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Shcherbakov have publicly and repeatedly forecast a rapid and tangible improvement in living standards if their model of anti-crisis program is adopted and implemented. RSFSR Prime Minister Silaev, on the other hand, when interviewed by Central TV on May 16, discounted any talk of stabilization by this fall and a recovery in 1992 to the levels of 1989. He reckoned that two years will be required before "it will be possible to talk of satisfying the consumer market." (Keith Bush) SUPREME SOVIET REJECTS SITARYAN. The USSR Supreme Soviet rejected President Gorbachev's nomination of Stepan Sitaryan for the post of Deputy Prime Minister with responsibility for economic activity, according to Western reports May 16. The vote was 167 to 151, with 57 abstentions. Supreme Soviet deputies approved a request by Gorbachev to give First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Shcherbakov the additional post of minister of economics and forecasting. (John Tedstrom) DOES THIS MEAN A BIGGER SHAKE UP? The Ministry of Economics and Forecasting is apparently the body that replaces Gosplan (see Pravitel'stvennyi vestnik, No. 17, 1991, p. 5). What has happened to Gosplan's former chief, Yurii Maslyukov, is a mystery. Good but unconfirmed sources in Moscow say that Maslyukov has replaced Igor' Belousov as head of the State Military-Industrial Commission of the Council of Ministers (renamed to, simply, the State Military-Industrial Commission in April). Belousov is supposed to have retired. His last public appearance was apparently in February, when he went with Soviet presidential envoy Evgenii Primakov to see Saddam Hussein. (John Tedstrom) SAKHAROV HONORED. May 21 marks the 70th birthday of the late human rights champion Andrei Sakharov. On May 18, a museum was opened in Nizhnii Novgorod (formerly Gorkii) in the flat where Sakharov served his enforced exile from 1980 to 1986. Thousands of Muscovites paid tribute to Sakharov at a rally held in Moscow on May 20. Later today (May 21), an international conference on Sakharov's legacy is expected to open in Moscow; the conference is to be attended by a number of the world's leading political and cultural figures. (According to an unofficial source, Gorbachev has also promised to attend it). Russian television is scheduled to broadcast its opening session today, at 5:00 P.M. (Julia Wishnevsky) YAKOVLEV REVISES MARXISM. Rabochaya tribuna (May 16) published a long interview with former Politburo member Aleksandr Yakovlev. Yakovlev enumerated a long list of the errors of Karl Marx, and contrasted some of Marx's teaching unfavorably with "the classical and Christian ethics of harmony of piece and love" that prevailed in ethics of the classical and Christian worlds. According to Yakovlev, the communist revolution in Russia in 1917 came as a result of "astonishing coincidence." The problem is, Yakovlev said, that Russia became a testing-ground for an ill-considered social experiment. Since 1905, the Bolsheviks have waged a permanent war--first, against Tsarism, then against the liberal Provisional government, and finally against their own people. It is natural, Yakovlev said, that the faction resisting perestroika is headed by some leaders of the CPSU. (Julia Wishnevsky) USSR - IN THE REPUBLICS SIX CANDIDATES REGISTERED FOR RSFSR PRESIDENCY. Six candidates have been officially registered for the RSFSR elections, TASS reported on May 20. Four of them--Boris Yeltsin, Nikolai Ryzhkov, Vadim Bakatin and General Albert Makashov--have submitted more than 100,000 voters' signatures and their names will be put on the ballot. Another two candidates, Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Lev Ubozhko, leaders of the Liberal-Democratic and the Conservative parties, respectively, did not collect enough signatures. They now hope to get approval of 20% of the RSFSR Congress of People's Deputies, without which they cannot enter the race. The electoral commission rejected the candidacy of three other candidates because the organizations which had nominated them were not officially registered. (Alexander Rahr) CANDIDATES CHOSE RUNNING-MATES. The RSFSR presidential candidates have nominated their running-mates for the vice presidency (TASS May 18). Yeltsin chose the head of the newly formed "Communists for Democracy" movement and former Afghan war pilot, Aleksandr Rutskoi. Ryzhkov picked the former commander of Soviet troops in Afghanistan, Boris Gromov. By choosing popular Afghan war veterans, Yeltsin and Ryzhkov want to appeal to the numerous conservative Russian voters who want stability in society. Bakatin selected the chairman of the Council of Nationalities of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet and one of Yeltsin's major political opponents, Ramazan Abdulatipov. He seeks to attract voters from the RSFSR autonomous republics who make up 14% of the electorate. General Makashov's candidate is the arch-conservative economist Aleksei Sergeev who has called for an end to reform. (Alexander Rahr) RSFSR CONGRESS OF PEOPLE'S DEPUTIES OPENED IN MOSCOW. The Fourth RSFSR Congress of People's Deputies has opened today (May 21) and is due to discuss candidates for president, make amendments to the constitution on the law on the presidency and presidential election procedure, according to TASS May 21. The Congress will also establish the RSFSR Constitutional Court. Yeltsin needs a two-thirds majority to enact the constitutional amendments. The Communist faction in the SupSov opposes the clause forcing the president to suspend his membership of any party after being elected. Communists also will seek to change the electoral law so that a candidate would need 50% of all eligible voters, not 50% of actual voters, to win in the first round. (Alexander Rahr) LIBERTARIAN PARTY DENIES RESPONSIBILITY FOR EXPLOSION. Sovetskaya Rossiya of May 18 reported that the Libertarian (Radical) Party of the USSR claimed responsibility for the blast last week at the headquarters of the Democratic Russia movement. According to the newspaper, the party orchestrated the blast since its candidate for the RSFSR's upcoming presidential elections, Kalinin, was beaten up by supporters of Boris Yeltsin, the candidate of Democratic Russia. Russian television (May 18) quoted a representative of the Libertarian party as denying the Sovetskaya Rossiya report and calling it a provocation. (Vera Tolz) POPOV LOSES VOTE IN MOSCOW CITY SOVIET. The majority of deputies of the Moscow city Soviet refused to vote "yes" when asked whether the soviet's chairman Gavriil Popov should run for the post of mayor next month. About 100 of about 450 deputies left the chamber just before the vote, Western agencies reported May 20. Of those who stayed, only 189 voted in favor of Popov's candidacy. According to the law, Popov does not have to be approved by deputies to register as a candidate. He needs 10,000 signatures from eligible voters. Radio Rossii said May 20 that nearly 200,000 signatures supporting Popov's nomination had been collected. Interfax reported that Popov proposed a vote May 20 at the soviet in a letter to deputies, saying that if the vote did not support him, he would not run for the position of chairman of the Moscow city Soviet. (NCA/Vera Tolz) CONSTITUENT CONGRESS OF RSFSR RUSSIAN PARTY. The constituent congress of the Russian Party of the RSFSR took place in Moscow on May 18, Russian TV reported. The party's draft program calls, inter alia, for the rebirth of the state of Russia to be made up of the RSFSR and predominantly Russian areas in other republics, namely northern Kazakhstan and Alma Ata city, northern Kirgizia with the city of Frunze (Bishkek), the left bank of the Dnieper in Moldavia, and the Crimea, now part of Ukraine. It also calls for the creation of Russian autonomous formations in the Union republics, a unitary state structure for the RSFSR without autonomous national formations, and the repatriation of Jews from Russia. (Ann Sheehy) TATARSTAN-RSFSR RELATIONS. RSFSR Supreme Soviet First Deputy Chairman Ruslan Khasbulatov has said that Tatarstan, in its desire to separate from the RSFSR, is not taking into account the "Russian factor," i.e. that there are as many Russians as Tatars in Tatarstan, Radio Mayak reported May 16. The opinion is forming in Tataria that, if the republic tried to secede, the Russian part of the republic would be turned into an oblast. On May 16 the Tatarstan Supreme Soviet adopted a decree that charged the republic's electoral commission with organizing the elections of the Russian president in Tataria, but at the same time stated that the results would have no juridical consequences for Tataria, Radio Rossii reported May 17. (Ann Sheehy) GAMSAKHURDIA ON RELATIONS WITH MOSCOW. Izvestia (May 18) carried a TASS-Sakinform dispatch quoting Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia as stating that the Soviet central government has been acting "less aggressively" towards Georgia in recent weeks and that points of contact had been made between Georgia and Moscow. Gamskahurdia told workers at a Tbilisi factory that "much will be clarified" when he meets with Gorbachev at the end of this month. (NCA/Liz Fuller) ARMENIANS BEING DEPORTED FROM NAGORNO-KARABAKH. Western journalists quote Armenian officials as claiming that Soviet troops have deported Armenians from 16 villages in Nagorno-Karabakh; hundreds were arrested ( The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times, May 19). Armenian Supreme Soviet chairman Levon Ter-Petrossyan told Izvestia (May 18) that 1,000 Armenians had been rounded up and deported from the Gadrut raion of the NKAO by Azerbaijani MVD troops under the pretext of passport controls. He said KGB chairman Vladimir Kryuchkov had agreed that measures were necessary to protect Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh. TASS May 19 reported that the Armenian Supreme Soviet had called on Gorbachev to send observers to Nagorno-Karabakh to ensure that his decree on disarming armed groups is implemented legally. (Liz Fuller) SOVIET TROOP PROTEST OVER DEPLOYMENT IN TRANSCAUCASUS? Soviet officers deployed on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border held a protest rally last month to demand their withdrawal from a local ethnic conflict, warning of the dangers of a domestic Afghanistan, The Chicago Tribune reported May 20. In February the Armenian press carried a Postfaktum report that 150 Soviet army troops had demonstrated in Stepanakert to demand to be sent home and to protest the actions of Azerbaijani OMON troops in the oblast. (Liz Fuller) UKRAINIAN INTER-PARTY ASSEMBLY LEADER ARRESTED. On May 16, the head of the Political Council of the Ukrainian Inter-Party Assembly, Anatolii Lupynis, was arrested in Kiev, Radio Kiev reported May 17. The Assembly is a radical coalition of ten political parties and groups formed last year. Lupynis, a former political prisoner who had served a total of 23 years, was charged with organizing a series of mass protests and sentenced to five days imprisonment by an administrative court. (Roman Solchanyk) MOLDAVIAN INTERIOR MINISTRY PASSES UNDER REPUBLICAN CONTROL. As part of a reorganization of the republican government, the Moldavian Supreme Soviet voted May 20 to switch Moldavia's Ministry of Internal Affairs from dual union-and-republican subordination to exclusive republican subordination, Moldovapres reported May 20. Under the "dual subordination" principle, the Ministry's crime-fighting and traffic control activities came under republican jurisdiction, whereas all activities with political implications came under the jurisdiction of the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs. The transfer to exclusive republican control, if tolerated by Moscow, will enable the Moldavian ministry to proceed with the planned establishment of the 10,000-strong force of Moldavian Carabinieri. (Vladimir Socor) MOLDAVIAN CP ESCAPES EXPROPRIATION. The Moldavian Supreme Soviet voted on May 15 against the Popular Front deputies' proposal to consider a draft law on nationalizing the Moldavian Communist Party's assets, Moldovapres reported that day. The Moldavian Agrarians, who have drawn close to the communists on some issues recently, were instrumental in blocking the proposal. The Moldavian CP, however, promised on its own accord to give up some unspecified property. (Vladimir Socor) BUT REFORMIST RIVALS MAY CLAIM PARTY ASSETS. On the same day, the Moldavian government granted legal registration to the breakaway Independent Moldavian Communist Party-Democratic Platform, Moldovapres reported May 15. The new party's name is a temporary one, the final name to be decided at the party's forthcoming founding congress. Moldovapres indicated that the new party may claim a share of the official Communist Party's assets. (Vladimir Socor)
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