|We are all apt to believe what the world believes about us. - George Eliot|
No. 101, 29 May 1991
BALTIC STATES PAVLOV: RAIDS BENEFIT NO ONE. Soviet Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov has denied that the USSR government knew of or planned recent raids on Baltic economic border posts. According to Paevaleht of May 28, Pavlov told his Estonian counterpart Edgar Savisaar that the USSR Council of Ministers and the government had played no role in the actions. Pavlov granted, however, that the attacks "are not consistent with the central government's strategic interests." Pavlov and Savisaar met in Moscow on May 27. (Riina Kionka) BAKATIN ON OMON ATTACKS IN THE BALTICS. Speaking on Soviet TV on May 27, former USSR Minister of Internal Affairs Vadim Bakatin criticized as illegal the recent OMON attacks on border posts in the Baltic republics. Bakatin said that the OMON units, formally under MVD jurisdiction, should be serving the law and not ideology. Bakatin said that the OMON forces were carrying out a scenario similar to that used by the Soviet armed forces in January in Lithuania and Latvia. (NCA/Dzintra Bungs) MINISTER TO LEAVE ESTONIAN CABINET? Another member of the Estonian cabinet has submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Savisaar, Estonian Radio reported on May 28. Endel Lippmaa, Minister without Portfolio with responsibility for Eastern Affairs, says the efforts of the Estonian government to set up a free trade zone in the northeastern Estonian city of Narva conflict with the Supreme Council's resolutions on independence. If accepted by Savisaar, the resignation must also be considered by the Supreme Council. Several other ministers have submitted resignations since they were appointed last year, but only two actually stepped down. (Riina Kionka) MERI: WE'LL BUY OUR WAY OUT. Estonian Foreign Minister Lennart Meri told a Swedish newspaper on May 28 that Estonia is prepared to pay for its independence if necessary. According to Dagens Nyheter, Meri estimates the USSR would ask "a little less than $1 billion" as a condition for independence. Asked how Estonia would raise that much hard currency, Meri replied: "We're willing to work harder. In any event, that would be preferable to sending tanks against tanks, particularly in view of the fact that we don't have any tanks." Meri's remarks on the link between hard currency and politics suggest that Baltic leaders are following closely Moscow's current strong campaigning in the US for Western aid to prop up the failing Soviet economy. (Riina Kionka) IGNATENKO: INDEPENDENCE CANNOT BE RESULT OF TRADING. Questioned about statements by Estonian leaders on the possibility of Estonia accelerating its departure from the USSR if the republic pays the USSR $1 billion in compensation, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev's press spokesman Vitalii Ignatenko said May 28 that in such a delicate matter as secession from the USSR any kind of trading was misplaced, TASS reported. It was a question of the fate of millions of people, he stressed. In other words, Moscow is still insisting that republics wishing to leave the USSR apply the law on the mechanics of secession. (Ann Sheehy) KGB ACTIVE IN ESTONIA. A free-lance reporter for a Swedish Estonian newspaper was harassed by the KGB recently for his connections with the Congress of Estonia, according to an RFE/RL Estonian Service interview of May 27. The reporter, who wished to remain unnamed, said the KGB harassed him at the Tallinn harbor recently as he was leaving for Stockholm. The reporter said the KGB seized photographs he was carrying of the Congress of Estonia computer theft trial, which recently ended. Although the court found five defendants guilty of stealing several computers last year on the eve of the first Congress session, Congress of Estonia leaders maintain that the KGB was behind the theft. The recent harassment at the Tallinn harbor seems to bolster that hypothesis. (Riina Kionka) LATVIAN-RSFSR PROCURATORS AGREE ON COOPERATION. A protocol on cooperation between the RSFSR and Latvian procuracies was signed in Riga by the respective deputy procurator-generals, reported Baltfax on May 23. The document provides for mutual assistance in acquiring and sending investigation materials, searching for dangerous criminals, and jointly investigating crimes. Latvia's Procurator General Janis Skrastins said that this accord would facilitate law enforcement and improve the work of his office. Similar accords are being drafted with Lithuania and closer cooperation is planned with Kazakhstan and Ukraine. (Dzintra Bungs) RECEPTION IN RIGA FOR DEPARTING US CONSUL. According to Baltfax of May 23, a reception was held in Riga on May 22 in honor of Richard Miles, US Consul in Leningrad, who is being transferred to Germany. Miles, who during his three-year term had been in Latvia more than ten times, said he would make his contribution to the better understanding of the Baltic issues in US leading circles. Supreme Council Chairman Anatolijs Gorbunovs thanked Miles for his great attention to the Baltics, especially during the past six months, and noted the importance of the visits to Latvia of US Senators, Congressmen, and other consular officials. (Dzintra Bungs) ALL BORDER POSTS FUNCTION AGAIN IN LATVIA. Customs department head Aivars Salins told Radio Riga on May 28 that the destruction of customs posts and equipment by OMON forces last week was valued at 600,000 rubles. Nonetheless, all customs posts are now once again operational. In order to hinder the recurrence of such attacks, the Latvian government has decided to provide guards at the posts who would be answerable to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. In a related development, Radio Riga reported that the USSR Baltic Military District headquarters had denied responsibility for the movement of "armed units" in Riga on May 25, and asked who then would have authorized such activities. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIAN DEPUTY CONTENDS USSR OWES LATVIA MONEY. This week the Latvian Supreme Council discussed economic relations with the USSR and Latvian contributions to the USSR budget. Valentina Zeile, head of the budget commission, pointed out that an assessment of the financial value of the exchange of goods and services between Latvia and the USSR indicates that Latvia has provided 90 billion rubles worth of goods and services more than it has received; thus, "it is not Latvia that is in debt to the USSR, but the Union is in debt to the republic," reported TASS on May 28. (Dzintra Bungs) LAW PRIVATIZING APARTMENTS PASSED. On May 28 after long debates in a session broadcast live over Radio Independent Lithuania, the Lithuanian Supreme Council passed a law on the privatization of apartments. The vote was 81 to 0 with 5 abstentions. Apartments are to be sold to their current residents with up to 80% being covered by investment checks that will be given only to citizens of the Republic of Lithuania as compensation for losses suffered under Soviet rule. A plenum of the Vilnius Communist Party sent an appeal to Gorbachev asking him not to allow implementation of the law since it discriminated against Soviet citizens, TASS reported that day. (Saulius Girnius) BUTKEVICIUS IN MOSCOW. Radio Vilnius reported May 28 that General Director of the Lithuanian National Defense Department Audrius Butkevicius had held talks with responsible officials of the British and German embassies, who told him they considered recent OMON attacks to be illegal interference in Lithuania. He also met with the heads of the RSFSR defense and security commissions and discussed holding two conferences on defense matters by representatives of USSR, RSFSR, and Lithuania. (Saulius Girnius) THATCHER MEETS BALTS. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher met Baltic representatives at the British embassy. Lithuania was represented by former Prime Minister Kazimiera Prunskiene; Latvia was represented as well, by deputies Andrejs Pantelejevs, Ivars Krastins, and Valdis Birkavs, Radio Riga reported that day. (Saulius Girnius) POETRY OF SPRING FESTIVAL. The annual Lithuanian Poetry of Spring festival was held on May 23-26, Radio Independent Lithuania reported those days. The festival began unofficially on May 23 with poetry readings in front of the Vilnius television tower occupied by the Soviet military since January. The official opening took place in Kaunas on May 24. Poets from Lithuania, joined by colleagues from Latvia, Estonia, Georgia, the RSFSR, Ukraine, Germany, France, Denmark and elsewhere, participated in the festivities that were also held in cities throughout Lithuania, including Lazdijai, Zarasai, Vilkaviskis, Jonava, and Elektrenai. The festival ended on May 26 in St. John's Church in Vilnius. (Saulius Girnius) RUSSIAN GREEK-CATHOLIC BISHOP IN DAUGAVPILS. Baltiiskoe vremya, No. 33, interviewed bishop Vikentii, head of the newly reestablished Russian Greek-Catholic Church, who visited members of the Baltic-Slavic society in Daugavpils. The bishop discussed how the Russian Greek-Catholic Church was set up, and in that connection criticized Patriarch Aleksii for allegedly writing a letter to Pope John Paul II in strong protest against the revival of the Russian Greek Catholic Church. (Oxana Antic) USSR - ALL-UNION TOPICS CENTER SETS TOUGH TERMS FOR INDEPENDENT REPUBLICS. According to Western and Soviet reports May 28, the USSR government has proposed what amount to strict economic sanctions against republics that do not sign a new Union treaty. The measures were designed by the State Planning Committee and sent to the Baltic States, Georgia, Armenia, and Moldavia. According to the document, these republics would have to pay their share of internal and external debt and pay full price for all-Union factories, and then lease them back to the USSR on favorable terms or create joint ventures with the USSR as majority stockholder. Further, terms of trade between the USSR and the independent states would be set strongly in the USSR's favor, and the USSR would plan to reduce sharply the amount of goods and services it would import from these republics. (John Tedstrom) NEW RESTRICTIONS ON COMMERCIAL ACTIVITIES. The USSR SupSov approved a government decree banning commercial activities in certain sensitive sectors of the economy May 28, TASS reported the same day. Also approved was a decree requiring state licenses for trade in other sensitive sectors. Presenting the decrees for discussion and vote, Soviet Deputy Prime Minister Yurii Maslyukov said the measures applied to those activities which concern "the defense capabilities of the country, the maintenance of state and social security, environment, and health of the population." Sales of precious and radioactive materials, weapons, and military technology are forbidden. Enterprises must now obtain a license to develop and produce military equipment and spare parts, mineral products, to transport, process, store, and uranium and like products, as well as oil and gas. (John Tedstrom) SOME POSSIBLE IMPLICATIONS. As presented to the SupSov, the measures are vaguely worded and could be used by bureaucratic agencies to stifle development of normal commercial relations in many fields, not just those dealing with dangerous or valuable materials. Maslyukov complained about local businesses dealing with foreign firms without permission. He referred to many cases of firms buying junked goods (like ships) for low ruble prices and selling them as scrap metal to foreigners for hard currency. The new licenses must be purchased; the price is not yet known, and will run for five years. The new rules will be regulated, presumably, by all-Union authorities. Republican governments are invited to make additions to the list that would reflect local conditions. (John Tedstrom) BUSH, GORBACHEV CONFER. US President George Bush telephoned Gorbachev late May 27 to discuss Soviet-American relations, Western aid to the USSR, and arms control issues, TASS and Western media reported May 28 and 29. Gorbachev's spokesman Ignatenko described the conversation as "detailed and substantive," and said that the two leaders will indeed meet, although they have not yet set a date for a summit, according to TASS May 28. Bush told reporters yesterday that the US and USSR are now much closer to agreement on a CFE treaty. (Sallie Wise) PRIMAKOV MEETS US OFFICIALS. Soviet Presidential Adviser Evgenii Primakov will meet with US Secretary of State James Baker and Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Michael Boskin on May 29 to present Moscow's plans for economic reform. He met on May 28 with Barber Conable, President of the World Bank, and Michel Camdessus, Managing Director of the IMF. US officials said Primakov might also meet with US President George Bush. Last week, Bush said he was ready do listen to Primakov's message on economic reform but made no commitment on aid. (NCA/Suzanne Crow) RYZHKOV SAYS BALANCE FAVORS NATO. Former Soviet Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzhkov says NATO has not responded adequately to the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact. As a result, Ryzhkov contends, the strategic situation has substantially changed for the USSR and its republics. He calls for a military policy that would effectively protect the USSR's interests. Ryzhkov is a candidate for the Russian presidency. His remarks, made while speaking to troops on May 27 at a Moscow garrison, were published by Krasnaya zvezda on May 28 and quoted by TASS. (NCA/Suzanne Crow) SOVIET-GERMAN TALKS ON TROOPS. Soviet and German officials of the joint commission on the deployment of Soviet troops in eastern Germany met on May 28 to discuss defections and other incidents involving Soviet troops. According to the statement issued by the Soviet side, the commission discussed questions relating to the turning over of Soviet deserters and the safety of Soviet troops, families and installations. The Soviet statement also reported agreement on settling remaining unresolved questions and on working towards a detailed settlement in a businesslike manner. The next session of the joint commission will take place at the beginning of October in Berlin. (NCA/Suzanne Crow) RUSSIAN TV OPPOSES GORBACHEV'S PARTICIPATION IN G-7 SUMMIT. Aleksandr Gurnov, moderator of the Vesti news program, said that Gorbachev hopes to secure an invitation to the G-7 summit in London with the help of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who is visiting the USSR (Rossiiskoe Televidenie, May 27). "May God help him, but if he succeeds in getting there, it might be the first summit where our country is not a full-fledged participant but rather a stranger asking for a slice from the masters' table. It is difficult to accept this," Gurnov concluded. (Victor Yasmann) OGONEK HITS GLASNOST' FOR PROPAGANDA. The patterns of glasnost' developed by Soviet journalists in recent years constituted, in many cases, a new type of propaganda, writes journalist Alexander Terekhov in Ogonek, No. 18. As examples of such campaigns he cites articles about a "party-military plot," "military coup d'etat" or the uproar in the liberal mass media over military patrols in Soviet cities. Before perestroika, Terekhov admonished his colleagues, journalists used to serve a "single scientific ideology." "Thus we changed, having changed nothing in ourselves, changing flags and words, but preserving intolerance, arrogance and snobbism." Although conservative authors often have used similar arguments, this appears to be the first time Ogonek has engaged in such self-criticism. (Victor Yasmann) USSR - IN THE REPUBLICS YELTSIN CAMPAIGN IN FULL SWING. RSFSR Supreme Soviet Chairman Boris Yeltsin kicked off his presidential campaign with a visit to Murmansk in the Far North. There, according to Western agencies, he was mobbed by crowds waving the flag of pre-revolutionary Russia and shouting "We love you, Boris Nikolaevich!" As on previous trips to far-flung areas of the Russian Federation, Yeltsin promised the local population that his administration will devolve enough powers to the regions to enable them to solve their problems themselves. From Murmansk, Yeltsin traveled on May 28 to the Karelian capital, Petrozavodsk. Also on his 10-day itinerary are Voronezh, Perm, Chelyabinsk, Orenburg, and his power-base, Sverdlovsk. (Elizabeth Teague) SVERDLOVSK TO HOLD REFERENDUM ON NAME. On June 12, the same day as the RSFSR presidential election, residents of Sverdlovsk, Yeltsin's home base, will vote whether to restore the city's former name of Yekaterinburg. It was in Yekaterinburg where Tsar Nicholas II and his family were executed after the Russian Revolution. Radio Mayak, in reporting the proposed referendum May 27, did not clarify whether the vote would be binding. (NCA/Sallie Wise) OUTSPOKEN INTERVIEW WITH ORTHODOX PRIEST. Sovetskaya molodezh' No. 63, May 5, quoted an interview with archpriest Vladimir Sorokin, Rector of the Leningrad Theological Seminary. The priest not only said that the heart of all evil which has befallen the country lies with Marxist ideology, but he also strongly criticized the "double standard" of Soviet society. As an example, he mentioned that Yeltsin attended Easter services, "hoping to gain support of believing Christians." According to data supplied by Fr. Vladimir, the Russian Orthodox Church has now 11940 parishes. (Oxana Antic) OPPOSITION IN BASHKORTISTAN TO RSFSR PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. A Movement for a Sovereign Bashkortistan, set up in Bashkortistan a week ago to defend the independence of the republic, has appealed to the population not to take part in the RSFSR presidential elections, Radio Rossii reported May 28. The new movement, which is made up of the Bashkir People's Party and the Tatar Democratic Party of the Bashkir ASSR, said participation in the elections would mean that Bashkortistan would remain forever part of Russia. Radio Rossii's correspondent recalled that 42% of the republic's population voted against the introduction of the post of RSFSR president in the March 17 referendum. (Ann Sheehy) TATARSTAN SUPSOV MAKES RSFSR PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS UNOFFICIAL. Bowing to public pressure, the Tatarstan Supreme Soviet decided May 28 that Tatarstan would not officially take part in the elections of the RSFSR president on June 12, TASS reported. But, "in accordance with human rights," assistance would be given to those who wished to take part in the elections. Only one candidate, the present chairman of the Tatarstan Supreme Soviet Mintimer Shaimiev, has collected the necessary number of signatures to stand for election to the post of president of Tatarstan, also scheduled to take place June 12, RFE/RL was told May 28. (Ann Sheehy) MOLDAVIA'S NEW PRIME MINISTER. The Moldavian parliament on May 28 approved President Mircea Snegur's nomination of Valeriu Muravschi as Prime Minister, in place of Mircea Druc who was ousted by a vote of no confidence May 22. Muravschi, a 42-year-old economist, had been Minister of Finance in the Druc government since June 1990, and concurrently Vice-Prime Minister since March 1991. In that government, Muravschi had supported Druc's drive for an accelerated transition to a market economy. Muravschi's nomination as Prime Minister was supported by the Popular Front and opposed by the Russian communists in parliament, with the Agrarians split on the issue. (Vladimir Socor). MURAVSCHI'S MAIDEN SPEECH. Presenting his program to parliament May 28, Muravschi assessed the state of the republic's economy as "chaotic," Moldovapres reported the same day. He urged parliament to expedite the adoption of laws on privatization, the establishment of a National Bank, and local self-government. He also pledged to pursue Moldavia's "integration with European countries" and to maintain economic ties with union republics "on a new basis" of horizontal arrangements. The agenda outlined by Muravschi is similar to Druc's. (Vladimir Socor) BELORUSSIAN SUPSOV OPPOSITION STATEMENT. RFE/RL's correspondent in Minsk reported May 27 that the Belorussian Popular Front opposition group in the republican Supreme Soviet has divorced itself from the Communist majority's actions in parliament. Opposition leader Zyanon Paznyak said the nomenklatura must bear total responsibility for the worsening situation in Belorussia. The opposition read a list of legislative projects in which its members will not participate, limiting themselves mainly to issues raised earlier by the strike committees. The opposition declaration, signed by 32 deputies, stated that the majority's activity in the current session of the SupSov seems designed to bring about an "extraordinary situation" or direct presidential rule. The declaration was read at the SupSov session May 24, but was not reported by local and Soviet media. (Walter Stankievich) EDINSTVO IN BELORUSSIA. Leonid Biryukov, leader of the Belorussian section of the society "Unity for Leninism and Communist Ideals," made some interesting disclosures in issue No. 19 of 7 dnei (a BELTA news agency publication). Chief among these was that Nina Andreeva's supporters in Belorussia have sent a fifty-page report to KGB, trade union, and Russian Communist Party authorities--though not to Gorbachev--proving that the USSR's transition to a market-based economy has been orchestrated by foreign intelligence. Biryukov boasted that the conservative "Soyuz" faction of USSR people's deputies recently approved his section's program for restoring the socialist economy. (Kathy Mihalisko) UKRAINE INTENDS TO TAKE OVER DEFENSE INDUSTRIES. At a conference in Kiev, Ukraine's newly-appointed Minister of Military Industry and Conversion, Viktor Antonov, announced that he believes "100% of the military industrial complex located on Ukrainian territory will come under direct Ukrainian control, starting on 1 January 1992." Antonov made his remarks in Kiev at a conference on conversion in Ukraine which was covered by both Western and Ukrainian media May 27. Ukraine is the USSR's second largest republic in terms of defense-industrial activity. It has roughly 13% of all defense and defense-related industry (compared to the RSFSR's 73%). (John Tedstrom) KRAVCHUK RECEIVES AUSTRIAN AND IRISH AMBASSADORS. Radio Kiev reported on May 22 that Ukrainian Supreme Soviet Chairman Leonid Kravchuk met in Kiev with the Irish and Austrian ambassadors to the USSR. He discussed general cooperation with the Irish ambassador, while his conversation with the Austrian diplomat centered on the possible opening in Kiev of an Austrian consulate and a trade mission. (Valentyn Moroz) GORBACHEV IN KAZAKHSTAN. The May 28 edition of Vremya showed Gorbachev's arrival in Kazakhstan and his meeting with inhabitants of Kokchetav. A television correspondent asked him if he was visiting Kazakhstan because it has the reputation of being one of the most stable republics. Gorbachev answered that he liked Kazakhstan's stability and also its adherence to the Union, and he wanted to support its leadership, which he characterized as being highly responsible. (Bess Brown) PRICE OF FREE SPEECH IN UZBEKISTAN. A deputy in Uzbekistan's Supreme Soviet has been sentenced to 15 days of "administrative arrest" for having encouraged inhabitants of Yakkabag Raion to protest recent prices increases, according to a report in the May 17 issue of Izvestia. The presidium of the Supreme Soviet granted the request of the republican state prosecutor's office to permit the prosecution of the deputy, Shovrik Ruzimuradov, and the raion soviet executive committee is filing suit against him for material damage. (Bess Brown) YAKOVLEV ON TRANSCAUCASIAN BLOODSHED. At least two Soviet weeklies--Za rubezhom No. 22, and today's (May 29) Sovetskaya kul'tura--have reprinted an interview with Gorbachev's senior adviser Aleksandr Yakovlev from the Italian newspaper La Repubblica of May 12-13. In it, Yakovlev accused conservative CPSU officials of having deliberately set up the latest outburst of violence in the Transcaucasus. "The 9+1 agreement [between Gorbachev and the leaders of nine union republics] had scarcely been reached when the war between Armenians and Azerbaijanis began again," Yakovlev explained. "And I have a strange feeling that it is an organized provocation, not just a coincidence." (Julia Wishnevsky) ISRAELI MINISTER ON RELATIONS WITH AZERBAIJAN. TASS May 27 quoted the Israeli Minister for Science and Technology, Energy and Resources, Yuval Neiman, who is currently on an official visit to Baku, as stating that Israel is in favor of developing wide-ranging economic contacts with Azerbaijan. Neiman also registered his satisfaction at the Azerbaijani government's concern for the Jewish community in the republic. Azerbaijani President Ayaz Mutalibov has announced that charter flights are soon to begin between Tel Aviv and Baku to enable Azerbaijani Jews who emigrated to Israel to visit Azerbaijan. (Liz Fuller) [as of 1300 CET] Compiled by Jiri Pehe and Sallie Wise
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