|The trouble with being punctual is that nobody's there to appreciate it. - Franklin P. Jones|
No. 97, 23 May 1991
BALTIC STATES PSKOV PARATROOPERS RETURN TO LITHUANIA. On May 22 Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius sent a telegram to USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev and Defense Minister Dmitrii Yazov, Radio Independent Lithuania reported that day. Vagnorius expressed regret that paratroopers from Pskov who had participated in the attack on the Vilnius TV tower on January 13 had been sent to Lithuania and Belorussia on May 21 without informing the Lithuanian authorities. He wrote that sharing information on troop movements could help ease resulting tension. (Saulius Girnius) LITHUANIAN ECONOMICS MINISTER RESIGNS. At the session of the Lithuanian Supreme Council on May 22 Vytas Navickas, the Lithuanian Economics Minister, submitted his resignation, Radio Independent Lithuania reported that day. The session agreed to accept his offer and he agreed to continue his duties until a new minister is selected, probably next week. (Saulius Girnius) LITHUANIAN BISHOPS CONSECRATED. On May 19 in the Kaunas cathedral Vincentas Cardinal Sladkevicius ordained two bishops, the RFE Lithuanian Service reported on May 20. The rector of the Kaunas seminary, Sigitas Tamkevicius, was ordained as the auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Kaunas and Vilnius archdiocese chancellor Juozas Tunaitis as the auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Vilnius. (Saulius Girnius) LATVIAN LEADERS ON VISIT TO ARMENIA. On May 22 First Deputy Chairman of the Latvian Supreme Council Dainis Ivans and Chairman of the Supreme Council's Commission on Defense and Internal Affairs Talavs Jundzis reported to the Council on their visit to Armenia. Both men stressed the role of the Soviet armed forces in the violence in Azerbaijan and Armenia. Ivans felt that the violence there had grown due to provocations by the Soviet authorities, and expressed concern that such conflicts might be started in the Baltic area. Jundzis said that he had learned that OMON forces from Azerbaijan, rather than the Soviet military, were used in what he termed as the "most despicable actions against the Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh," reported Radio Riga on May 23. (Dzintra Bungs) GERMANY AND LATVIA TO COOPERATE ON ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION. Following a two-day meeting in Berlin, Germany's environment minister Klaus Toepfer and his Latvian counterpart Indulis Emsis informed the press on May 14 about German and Latvian plans to cooperate in overcoming the pollution of Baltic waters, and of Germany's desire to provide Latvia with appropriate technology to protect the environment. Toepfer said that while he follows Baltic developments with sympathy, these contacts are not related to international recognition of Latvia, but are a contribution towards normalizing the situation on the continent. Both ministers said that technology transfer, which still has to go via Moscow, remains a problem, Western agencies reported May 14. (Dzintra Bungs) SALARIES OF LATVIAN PARLIAMENTARIANS. Replying to questions posed by Latvijas Jaunatne of May 4, Deputy Indulis Berzins explained the existing system of remuneration of deputies of the Latvian Supreme Council. He said that the basic monthly salary is 500 rubles, plus 200 rubles for job-related expenses. Deputies from distant areas have a small apartment assigned to them in Riga for the time that they serve as deputies; most deputies, however, still live in their old homes. They are not entitled to the use of a car or granted priority in line for the purchase of one. Deputies can buy lunch and snacks at the Council's cafeteria, but the prices and quality of food available is the same as elsewhere in Riga. (Dzintra Bungs) DISAGREEMENT ON BALTIC CONTRIBUTIONS TO USSR BUDGET. The Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian finance ministries have not come to an agreement on a common approach toward contributions to the USSR budget, reported Izvestia of May 21. The Lithuanian position is that there can be no payments since Lithuania has declared its independence from the USSR. Latvia and Estonia are considering payments only to those programs in which they are interested and there are disputes with Moscow over the sums. (Dzintra Bungs) BALTIC LEGATION BUILDINGS IN PARIS TO BE RETURNED? Michel Pelchat, French National Assembly Deputy and head of the France-Baltic States study group, told RFE/RL's correspondent in Paris on May 16 that Baltic officials had mandated his group to start legal efforts to obtain the return of the pre-World War II legations in Paris of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. In August 1940 the buildings were turned over "improperly," according to French lawyer Jean-Pierre Spitzer, to Soviet officials, after the Baltic States had been annexed by the USSR. The buildings, acquired by the Balts in 1927 and 1928, are located in central Paris and have considerable real estate value. (Dzintra Bungs) USSR - ALL-UNION TOPICS SOVIET PARLIAMENT WANTS TO PARTICIPATE IN SIGNING UNION TREATY. The USSR Supreme Soviet adopted a resolution on the Union treaty May 22 calling for the text of the draft to be brought into line with the results of the March 17 referendum, and for representatives of the supreme organs of state power of the USSR to take part in the signing of the treaty, TASS reported. Some deputies objected to the latter point. Sergei Ryabchenko, a leader of the interregional group of deputies, said that an attempt by the center to meddle in the signing process would only hamper the conclusion of the treaty. (Ann Sheehy) CENTRAL, REPUBLICAN GOVERNMENTS ABOLISH SALES TAX. As anticipated, the USSR Cabinet of Ministers has signed a decree (May 19) abolishing the sales tax on a number of key food and non-food consumer goods, according to Radio Mayak May 21. Republican governments are to tailor that list to their own needs. The RSFSR and Georgia adopted similar measures April 19 and 20, respectively. (See the lists of exempted goods in Ekonomika i zhizn', No. 20, p. 18, and Svobodnaya Gruziya, April 23). Both the Pavlov "anti-crisis" program and the RSFSR program for reform of Russia's economy plan to replace the sales tax with a value-added tax. (John Tedstrom) PROTECTION FOR SOVIET CONSUMERS. In a move that, in the Soviet context, is truly revolutionary, the USSR Supreme Soviet adopted May 22 a "consumer rights law," TASS reported that day. It goes into effect on January 1, 1992 and will give consumers the right to file official complaints and seek restitution if they are abused or sold defective goods. In what may be the understatement of the year, one of the bill's authors, Supreme Soviet Deputy Gennadii Kiselev, said that it would be very difficult to enforce the law at first. (Keith Bush) GERMAN-SOVIET AGREEMENT ON HOUSING. The German Economics Ministry announced May 22 that agreement has been reached on who shall build the first batch of housing for Soviet servicemen withdrawn from Eastern Germany. German companies will get a 60% share in building the first 3,700 apartments and infrastructure at Zhaikovka, Vladikavkaz, and Krivoi Rog. Of the German share, more than half of the contracts will go to firms in what used to be the GDR. The value of the first batch has been put at DM 570 million. Bonn's share of the total cost of building 36,000 homes will be DM 7.8 billion. (NCA/Keith Bush) GORBACHEV STILL "OPTIMISTIC" ON G-7 SUMMIT. At a press conference in Moscow on May 22, visiting Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti said that he was in favor of President Mikhail Gorbachev attending the G-7 summit in July, although he noted that the decision could not be made by one country alone. Gorbachev left no doubt that he was still seeking an invitation. Western agencies yesterday quoted Gorbachev as saying he was "optimistic" about participating in the summit, and that he had already started thinking about what he would like to say at the meeting. He added that even if he were not there, he would still speak. Japan, Germany, and the UK currently appear to be against Soviet participation, while mixed signals have come from Washington. It is not clear where Paris and Ottawa stand on the issue. (Keith Bush/Sallie Wise) GORBACHEV'S OPENING BID. At the press conference, Gorbachev gave the figure of $100 billion as the amount of Western assistance sought by the USSR to prime its economic reforms. This is below the $150 billion over five years suggested by Jeffrey Sachs, but well above what most observers believe will be forthcoming. Gorbachev said that he would like to speak to the G-7 summit about cooperation in disarmament, use of resources, ecology, and aid to countries in difficult conditions of development. (Keith Bush) SOVIET-ITALIAN TALKS "USEFUL". Andreotti and Gorbachev described their discussions yesterday as "extremely important and useful," TASS reported May 22. The two leaders signed an agreement establishing a direct link between the Kremlin and Italy's seat of government to facilitate the rapid exchange of information. Their talks centered on bilateral relations, especially economic ties, as well as the general situation in Europe. TASS said Andreotti expressed support for perestroika, and quoted him as saying Italian capital investment in the USSR would be a big step in realizing the idea of a "common home" in Europe. Andreotti also discussed Soviet-Italian trade issues with Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov. (Sallie Wise) FIRST SOVIET AMBASSADOR TO ALBANIA IN 30 YEARS. Gorbachev has appointed Viktor Nerubailo as Moscow's first ambassador to Tirana since 1961, TASS reported May 17. Nerubailo worked at the Soviet embassy in Tirana from 1958 to 1961, immediately preceding the break in Soviet-Albanian relations. He then worked in the Foreign Ministry apparat until 1967, followed by a stint in the Soviet embassy in Italy from 1967 to 1971. Nerubailo subsequently served in the CPSU apparat from 1972 until this year. The USSR and Albania restored diplomatic ties last August, and a Soviet charge d'affaires has been in Tirana since February. (NCA/Sallie Wise) TASS TO OPEN BUREAU IN ISRAEL. Western agencies reported May 21 that the Israeli government has announced the opening of a permanent TASS bureau for the first time in 24 years. Israeli government press office director Yossi Olmert was reported as saying that the bureau will open in one month. He added that Israeli television and radio will be permitted to open offices in Moscow. (NCA/Sallie Wise) SOVIETS LOST 130 SOLDIERS IN ANGOLA, ETHIOPIA. A General Staff Deputy Chief said in Krasnaya zvezda on May 21 that the Soviet Union lost over 130 military advisers and specialists in Angola and Ethiopia during civil wars in those countries, according to Western agencies May 21. Colonel General Evgenii Smirnov said that 75 military advisers and specialists were killed in Ethiopia, while 59 were lost in Angola. (Stephen Foye) CASUALTIES OF INTERETHNIC CONFLICTS IN 1991. Since the beginning of 1991 about 200 civilians and over 40 law enforcement officers and interior ministry troops have been killed in interethnic conflicts, and 700 civilians have been injured, USSR MVD officials told TASS on May 20. Over the past three years more than 1,200 people, including at least 131 interior ministry personnel, have been killed, and 10,000 wounded, TASS reported. Direct material damage exceeds six billion rubles. Moreover, sociological studies show that ethnic prejudices are growing. (Ann Sheehy) CATHOLIC YOUTH FESTIVAL IN MOSCOW. The first Catholic youth festival opened on May 17 in Moscow, TASS reported the same day. The festival's program includes meetings with representatives of Catholic organizations in the Soviet Union and abroad, preaching by guests from Italy, the USA, and Belgium, showing of video films, and musical performances. The participation of Soviet representatives in the 6th world youth meeting in Poland with Pope John Paul II will be discussed at the festival. (Oxana Antic) USSR - IN THE REPUBLICS RSFSR CONGRESS ADOPTS LAW ON PRESIDENCY. The RSFSR Congress of People's Deputies yesterday approved a law on the Russian Presidency, TASS reported on May 22. Over two-thirds of the deputies present voted in favor of the law. The congress still has to pass amendments to the constitution--with a two-thirds majority--before the RSFSR becomes the second Soviet republic, after Turkmenistan, to have a popularly-elected executive president. The congress also voted overwhelmingly to add the name of the leader of the Liberal-Democratic Party, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, to the official ballot for presidential elections, which now includes six candidates. (Alexander Rahr) MAKASHOV, BAKATIN, ZHIRINOVSKY ADDRESS CONGRESS. General Albert Makashov promised to establish order in society, preserve the USSR within its 1945 borders, and wipe out speculation if elected Russian president. He delivered a speech to the RSFSR Congress, quoted by TASS on May 22. Vadim Bakatin told the congress that he rejects attempts to prove the bright side of poverty in the name of preserving some kind of principles, according to Western reports May 22. At the same time, he denounced those radicals who want to send Communists "to the firing squad." Zhirinovsky also addressed the congress, but deputies later referred to his speech as "a shameful comedy," according to The Financial Times of May 23. (Alexander Rahr) GORBACHEV NOT INTERFERING IN RACE. Gorbachev has said he will not interfere in the RSFSR presidential elections and will refrain from endorsing his own candidate, according to Western agencies May 22. Vadim Bakatin, the candidate closest to Gorbachev, confirmed that RSFSR SupSov Chairman Boris Yeltsin had wanted to make him his running mate but that he decided to run himself. Bakatin described himself as the "only independent" candidate in the race. His running mate, Ramazan Abdulatipov, is quoted by The Chicago Tribune on May 23 as saying that the advantage he, a Dagestani, and Bakatin have is that they represent a combination of Russia's Western and Oriental cultures. (Alexander Rahr) GORBACHEV, YELTSIN TO MEET LEADERS OF AUTONOMOUS REPUBLICS MAY 24. Gorbachev, Yeltsin, and the heads of the supreme soviets of the autonomous republics of the RSFSR are to meet May 24, Radio Rossii reported May 22. It is expected that they will sign a document "that will be of great significance for stabilizing the situation in Russia and the country as a whole." It seems likely that the document will concern the capacity in which the autonomous republics will sign the Union treaty. (Ann Sheehy) MUSCOVITES OPPOSE PRICE INCREASES. A recent survey of Muscovites indicates broad disapproval of government-orchestrated price hikes among the adult population, according to TASS May 20. The survey reports that nearly 60% of those interviewed thought that the recent price increases were "catastrophic" for their families. Likewise, 64% did not believe that the measures will even help the Soviet economy in the longer run. The most negative responses were from graduate students and those in the 35-39 age group. High school students were most optimistic. The survey was conducted by the sociological research service "Mnenie." (John Tedstrom) "EKHO MOSKVY" BECOMES SELF-FINANCING. One of the first independent radio stations in the USSR, "Ekho Moskvy," has recently become self-financing, Kommersant No. 16 reported. According to the periodical, the radio station set up last year by the Moscow city Soviet, Ogonek, the "Radio" association, and the Faculty of Journalism at Moscow University, can now cover all its costs by profits from advertisements. (Vera Tolz) MOLDAVIAN PRIME MINISTER OUSTED. Following the withdrawal of the Popular Front deputies from the Moldavian Supreme Soviet (see Daily Report, May 22), the legislature voted overwhelmingly on May 22 in favor of a motion of no confidence in Prime Minister Mircea Druc. Inspired by President Mircea Snegur, the ouster of Druc clears the way toward the concentration of executive power in the President's hands and removes the Popular Front--which dominated the Druc government--from the center of power. All but one of the members of the Druc government resigned on the same day in a demonstration of solidarity with Druc. (Vladimir Socor) MOLDAVIAN POPULAR FRONT OPPOSES PRESIDENTIAL GOVERNMENT. On May 22 and during the night of May 22-23, thousands of Kishinev residents continued for the third consecutive day to demonstrate in protest against the ouster of Druc. The Popular Front has brought forward to today a mass rally in Kishinev's central square to protest Snegur's planned introduction of presidential government. Leading cultural figures in Kishinev are publicly criticizing Snegur's power bid. The recently founded Russian liberal organization Demokraticheskaya Moldaviya has joined the Popular Front and the Moldavian Alliance for Independence in their protests. (Vladimir Socor) MOLDAVIAN POPULAR FRONT PROTESTS ANTI-ARMENIAN REPRESSION. In a statement released by Moldovapres May 22, the Moldavian Popular Front "expressed its indignation at the Soviet military aggression against the Armenian people in the Republic of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, ordered by the leaders of the USSR...in order to halt the process of Armenia's obtaining its independence." The Moldavian Popular Front appealed to the UN Commission for Human Rights to send a fact-finding mission to Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh and to draw up recommendations for a peaceful solution of the conflict. (Vladimir Socor) TER-PETROSSYAN MEETS MITTERRAND. On the second day of his four-day visit to France, Armenian Supreme Soviet Chairman Levon Ter-Petrossyan met May 22 for one hour with French President Francois Mitterrand to discuss the conflict on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. Ter-Petrossyan told journalists afterwards that the meeting was intended to demonstrate France's support for Armenia's efforts to achieve independence "while respecting the USSR Constitution." (TASS and Western agencies, May 22) (Liz Fuller) GORBACHEV CONFERS WITH ARMENIAN, AZERBAIJANI COMMUNISTS. Gorbachev met in Moscow May 22 with secretaries of the Armenian and Azerbaijani Communist Parties to discuss the situation in the Transcaucasus. The meeting followed two days of talks in Moscow on how to resolve the conflict between the two republics, for which Gorbachev continued to lay the blame on "illegal armed groups who terrorize the peaceful population," TASS reported May 22. (NCA/Liz Fuller) AZERBAIJANI SUPSOV CONDEMNS "INTERFERENCE". The Azerbaijani parliament May 22 issued a statement expressing "bewilderment" at the RSFSR Congress of People's Deputies' decision to debate Nagorno-Karabakh at its current session. The statement termed the decision "interference", and argued that all republics are equal and should respect each other's right to conduct their own affairs, Vremya reported May 22. (NCA/Liz Fuller) MINSK STRIKE FIZZLES OUT. Workers from the Minsk Truck Factory and one or two other large enterprises walked off the job on the morning of May 22, but were back at work by afternoon, according to Belta-TASS and RFE-RL correspondent reports. The limp response to the strike call has been blamed on tactical errors on the part of the organizers and the fact that the government doubled salaries for many workers in the wake of last month's general strike. Also, on May 21 the Supreme Soviet agreed to include a number of the workers' demands on the current session's agenda. Strike committee leader Henadz' Bykau told Belta-TASS May 22 that activists will now shift the battle from the streets to the enterprises and concentrate on forming independent trade unions along the lines of "Solidarity." (Kathy Mihalisko) REFERENDUM PLANNED FOR UKRAINE. The Ukrainian Supreme Soviet continued to discuss specific aspects of the concept of a new republican constitution, with deputies from the Communist majority and the opposition grouped in the Narodna Rada holding conflicting positions on a number of key issues. The parliament decided to hold a referendum, Ukrinform-TASS reported May 22. The citizenry will be asked to decide on a name for the state, its state symbols, form of state administration, and whether or not the notion of the "Socialist choice" is to be enshrined in the constitution. (Roman Solchanyk) UKRAINIAN DEMOCRATIC PRESS ASSOCIATION. An Association of the Democratic Press of Ukraine has been formed in the republic, Radio Kiev reported May 17. According to a spokesman for the group, the new organization is intended to coordinate the activities of democratic publications and protect the interests of journalists threatened by political persecution because of their convictions. (Roman Solchanyk) NEW OIL DEPOSITS DISCOVERED IN UKRAINE. The newspaper Pravda Ukrainy reported on May 7 that new oil deposits have been discovered in North Bukovina (Chernovtsy region). The first well, near the village of Lopushanske, is located at 713 meters above sea level and already has produced industrial quantities of oil. Further drilling confirmed that there are more deposits at the same depth of over 4000 meters. The crude from these deep deposits is light and has low sulphur content. Quoting geologists, the paper said that the newly discovered deposits could provide "many regions" of the republic with petrol and oil products. (Valentyn Moroz) CALL FOR NISHANOV TO EXPRESS REGRET. A long article in Sovet Uzbekistoni of April 17, reproduced in Pravda Vostoka of April 20, calls on Rafik Nishanov, currently Chairman of the Council of Nationalities of the USSR Supreme Soviet, to express regret for the excesses in the anti-corruption drive in Uzbekistan when he was Party first secretary of the republic. The authors of the article hold Nishanov at least partly responsible for the discrediting and arrest of innocent officials and also maneuvers to provide posts for officials from Moscow who showed no respect for local traditions. (Ann Sheehy)
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