|Some things have to be believed to be seen. - Ralph Hodgson|
No. 104, 04 June 1991
BALTIC STATES SOVIET MILITARY ACTIONS IN VILNIUS. Last night (June 3) around 9:30 P.M. local time, Soviet military troops set up about 15 checkpoints in Vilnius around important sites in the city, including 3 around the parliament building, and forced passers-by to show identification documents, Radio Independent Lithuania reported on June 4. Some soldiers said they were searching for army deserters, but they even stopped women. Two members of the National Defense Department were briefly detained. Chairman of the Lithuanian Supreme Council Vytautas Landsbergis appeared several times on Lithuanian television calling on the people to go to the parliament to be "witnesses" if the parliament was attacked. Thousands of Lithuanians gathered around the parliament, and the troops withdrew about midnight. (Saulius Girnius) SOVIET MILITARY VEHICLES THREATEN CUSTOMS POST. Also on June 3, six Soviet armored military vehicles surrounded the Lithuanian customs post at Medininkai on the Lithuanian-Belorussian border. The troops pointed their guns at the customs post, but withdrew without incident eight hours later, Radio Vilnius reported that day. (Saulius Girnius) SOVIET PROSECUTOR EXONERATES SOVIET TROOPS. On June 3 USSR Prosecutor General Nikolai Trubin issued a 15-page preliminary report on the activities of the Soviet military on January 13 in Vilnius, TASS reported June 3. The report declared that the tragic events on January 13 were "the result of the Lithuanian leadership's anti-constitutional activities." According to Trubin, statements by witnesses and results of forensic expert examinations showed that the people had been shot by Lithuanian militants or crushed by cars. When attacked by militants "using knives, sticks, metal rods," the soldiers had only "defended themselves with rifle butts, firing shots with blanks and some live cartridges into the air." Foreign journalists at the scene as well as video films, however, contradict Trubin's version of the events. (Saulius Girnius) LITHUANIAN COMMENTS ON PROSECUTOR'S REPORT. Trubin's report was immediately attacked by Lithuanian officials. Landsbergis told RFE/RL's Lithuanian Service on June 3 that Nazi Propaganda Minister Josef Goebbels "would be envious" of the report. Landsbergis said that he believed that the USSR prosecutor "is sacrificing himself to save Gorbachev" before the latter's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. The Lithuanian parliament issued a statement declaring that the report was full of "impudent and boundless" lies, quoting Landsbergis as saying that in the report "no value is placed on truth and justice and there are not even signs of an evolution toward a law-governed state," The Washington Post reported June 4. (Saulius Girnius) LANDSBERGIS CANCELS PLANNED TRIP TO MEET POPE. Landsbergis had been planning to travel to Poland to meet with Pope John Paul II, but told the RFE/RL Lithuanian Service on June 3 that the recent military activities had forced him to cancel the trip. Cardinal Vincentas Sladkevicius and the Lithuanian bishops, as well as 600 buses from Lithuania, began on June 3 to travel to Poland where the Pope will hold a special Mass for Lithuanians in Lomza the morning of June 5. (Saulius Girnius) CHERNOBYL VICTIMS START HUNGER STRIKE IN RIGA. Representatives of the organization "Chernobyl" began a hunger strike in the Dom Square in Riga on June 3, reported Radio Riga that day. Many of its 6,000 members participated in the cleanup of the Chernobyl explosion. Their spokesmen had told Supreme Council leaders last week that if they were not guaranteed improved living conditions and medical care, they would stage a hunger strike. Specifically, they want Latvia to ratify the recent Soviet laws providing compensation for Chernobyl victims. This demand is problematic and is not supported by all members of "Chernobyl," since Latvia, as an independent state, cannot adopt or ratify laws of another state. (Dzintra Bungs) IVANS CRITICAL OF USSR PROSECUTOR'S REPORT. Speaking on Swedish Radio on June 3, Dainis Ivans, First Deputy Chairman of the Latvian Supreme Council, disagreed with the USSR Procuracy's view of the Soviet crackdown in Lithuania in January. He charged that the action was planned in Moscow and probably had prior approval from Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev himself. On other matters, Ivans was skeptical about the impact of the various groups and presidential candidates in the RSFSR on the Soviet reform process, noting that the military-industrial complex and the CPSU were still very powerful. (Dzintra Bungs) NARVA YOUTH FOR INDEPENDENCE. Some 4,000 young people in the primarily Russian city of Narva have formed an organization to support Estonia's independence, Rahva Haal reported on June 1. "We live in the Republic of Estonia, want to support this state and to remain within its constituency," the organization's chairman Sergei Aleksandrov told ETA. "That's why we also have an Estonian name, and [why] most of us are learning Estonian," Aleksandrov added. The name "Young Narva" harkens back to the intensely pro-independence literary circle "Young Estonia," which was active from 1905 to the early 1920s. By supporting Narva's inclusion in Estonia, "Young Narva" has stepped out against a recent proposal to turn the city of Narva into a free trade zone, which opponents say would be the first step toward political separation from the rest of Estonia. (Riina Kionka) FOOD PRICES TO RISE AGAIN. Estonians can expect further price hikes in foodstuffs as of July 1, Paevaleht reported on June 1. On that day, the government will dismantle the remaining vestiges of the system by which the state bought up agricultural products. Because food prices will no longer be affected by subsidies, but will instead be brought to market level, prices should stabilize somewhat, with market forces, not lost subsidies, causing any further hikes. (Riina Kionka) USSR - ALL-UNION TOPICS "SOCIALIST" TO BE DROPPED FROM TITLE OF SOVIET UNION. At a meeting in Novo-Ogarevo June 3, the preparatory committee working on the final draft of the Union treaty reaffirmed its decision to drop the word "socialist" from the name of the USSR and replace it with the word "sovereign," TASS reported that day. Gorbachev aide Georgii Shakhnazarov said some participants argued that the word "socialist" should be retained in the title in accordance with the results of the March 17 referendum, but virtually no country in the world now has an ideological symbol in its name. Shakhnazarov said the name change did not mean the rejection of socialist ideals. (Ann Sheehy) GOODWILL PREVAILS AT NOVO-OGAREVO. According to Shakhnazarov the meeting in Novo-Ogarevo, which was chaired by Gorbachev and attended by the leaders of the nine republics that have expressed an interest in signing a new Union treaty as well as the leaders of the autonomous republics, was marked by goodwill and mutual understanding. The participants managed to deal with the preamble and start on the first section of the document, which covers general principles. These are not the most controversial sections. Shakhnazarov said that so far there had been no radical change in the structure of the published text, but much work remained to be done. (Ann Sheehy) USSR SUPREME SOVIET WANTS VOICE IN UNION TREATY. In the USSR Supreme Soviet session on June 3, several deputies once again expressed alarm that attempts are being made to complete the new Union treaty without their participation, TASS reported the same day. Deputies have been upset by the 9-plus-one agreement which envisages an early dissolution of the present all-Union parliament after a new treaty is signed. An article in Nezavisimaya gazeta of May 31 foresees the possibility of a constitutional crisis. The article suggests that a constitutional way to overcome the opposition of the all-Union parliament would be for republics to recall their deputies and thus deprive the parliament of a quorum. (Ann Sheehy) LAW ON RECALL OF DEPUTIES ADOPTED. The USSR Supreme Soviet on June 3 approved a law on the recall of People's Deputies, TASS reported that day. Deputies can be recalled for failing to fulfill their duties, violating the USSR Constitution or breaking the law, or when they no longer enjoy the trust of their constituents. The recall process begins with a petition signed by at least 10% of the voters in the deputy's electoral district (or in the organization that elected him), which is then reviewed by the local soviet. If approved, voters go to the polls to vote for or against the deputy. (Dawn Mann) ONLY VOLUNTEERS TO SERVE IN "HOT SPOTS." The USSR Defense Ministry has announced that military units deployed to areas of social unrest will be staffed only by volunteers, Radio "Mayak" reported on June 3. Conscripts who agree to serve in such areas will receive three to four times normal pay, a further two months' pay upon discharge, and a yearly 20-day vacation. Units composed of "draftee-volunteers" are reportedly already being formed in Leningrad for deployment to the Transcaucasus, including the border regions between Armenia and Azerbaijan. (Stephen Foye) NO CHEMICAL OR NUCLEAR WEAPONS IN FORMER GDR. The German Environment Minister, Klaus Toepfer, told journalists at a press conference in Moscow on June 3 that he has been told that there are no nuclear or chemical weapons on former East German territory, TASS and Western agencies reported. The assurances reportedly came during a conversation with Defense Minister Dmitrii Yazov. Toepfer arrived in Moscow on June 2 for three days of talks on environmental problems, including those left behind by Soviet troops leaving Germany. (NCA/Stephen Foye) BESSMERTNYKH WARNS OF "NEW RISKS" TO EUROPE. Soviet Foreign Minister Aleskandr Bessmertnykh, in a letter to European Community foreign ministers meeting in Dresden, has warned that Europe faces "new risks" following the end of the Cold War. According to Western agency reports June 3, Bessmertnykh cautioned Europeans to be aware of rising nationalism, ideological revanchism, the widening gap between rich and poor countries, and population growth on Europe's borders. Although Bessmertnykh apparently did not elaborate, he told the EC ministers that these risks require a "joint response." (NCA/Sallie Wise) USSR ON SITUATION IN ETHIOPIA. Soviet Foreign Ministry spokesman Vitalii Churkin announced yesterday that the Soviet Union wants "constructive dialogue" with the US, Italy, and other interested countries to bring about a speedy normalization in Ethiopia, TASS reported June 3. He stressed that the USSR remains "a reliable friend of the people of Ethiopia," and supports "peaceful, democratic reconstruction of the country...in conditions of freedom of choice and respect for human rights." Churkin said that since the evacuation of Soviet citizens from Ethiopia that began May 26, there were 66 Soviet embassy staffers and trade representatives and 52 medical workers still in Ethiopia. (Sallie Wise) SHEVARDNADZE DENIES PLANS FOR UN POST. Former Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze denied in a French television interview on June 3 that he wants to replace Javier Perez de Cuellar as United Nations Secretary General, Western agencies reported June 3. Shevardnadze described Perez de Cuellar as his friend and urged that he remain in office for another term. Shevardnadze was in France promoting the French-language edition of his book. (NCA/Suzanne Crow) JAPAN HELPS USSR WITH DEFENSE INDUSTRIES. A delegation under the auspices of the Japanese ministry for foreign trade and industry is going to the USSR in mid-July to begin a program of assistance to Soviet defense industries trying to convert to civilian production. The delegation will include government officials, financiers, and private business representatives with experience in conversion, according to TASS, June 3. The group will visit a number of defense plants and meet with relevant Soviet industrial officials. The focus of the Japanese effort is, for the time being, on technical assistance. (John Tedstrom) SOVIET-ITALIAN TELECOMMUNICATIONS DEAL. Soviet military satellites will be used in a joint venture project aimed at improving the obsolete Soviet telephone network, according to an interview with representatives of the Italian telecommunications concerns "TELESPAZIO" and "STET" on Central Television, May 29. The representatives gave no details of the deal. The Soviet partner in the deal will be the newly-created state corporation "TELEKOM," which was formed on the basis of USSR Ministry of Communications' telecommunication divisions, and is headed by former Minister of Communications Erlen Pervyshkin. (Victor Yasmann) USSR - IN THE REPUBLICS YELTSIN CAMPAIGNING. RSFSR Supreme Soviet Chairman Boris Yeltsin announced his presidential program at a meeting of the Democratic Russia movement on June 1. According to a TASS report that day, he promised to improve living conditions within two years. Yeltsin wants to obtain ultimate control over finance policy on RSFSR territory and a transfer of all RSFSR industries, including military plants, to RSFSR government jurisdiction. Yeltsin said that, if elected president, he will conduct a sovereign foreign policy. The Guardian on June 3 reported that, if he wins, Yeltsin plans to visit the US shortly after his election. Yeltsin also promised to return all confiscated church property in a meeting with Patriarch Aleksii II. (Alexander Rahr) RYZHKOV CAMPAIGNING. Former Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzhkov stressed during his electoral campaign at a meeting in Bashkiria that he supports the socialist path and rejects capitalism for Russia. TASS on June 1 quoted him as saying that if elected president, he will prevent a sell-out of Russia's factories to millionaires and foreigners. He said factories should be modernized with state funds. Ryzhkov emphasized that he is not Gorbachev's candidate. Gorbachev's candidate for the RSFSR presidential elections is Vadim Bakatin, he asserted. Ryzhkov criticized the present Gorbachev/Yeltsin alliance and said that it will last only until June 12--the day of the RSFSR presidential elections. (Alexander Rahr) ZHIRINOVSKY CAMPAIGNING. Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the Liberal-Democratic Party, said at a meeting in Perm' that only he can save Russia from the danger of civil war. TASS on June 3 quoted him as saying that if elected president, he will alter the country's foreign policy. He pointed out that the East-West conflict is over and world politics should focus on North-South relations. He promised to lift all economic barriers. He also stressed that he will not touch the privileges of the military-industrial industries in Perm' because the export of weapons remains an important source of hard currency income. (Alexander Rahr) MAKASHOV CAMPAIGNING. General Albert Makashov has promised to establish law and order in Russia if elected president. According to TASS on June 3, Makashov, who is supported by neo-Stalinist Nina Andreeva, said that enterprises should not be sold, but handed over to workers' collectives. Makashov also spoke in favor of changing the political system so that the RSFSR parliament and the local soviets will be elected by workers' collectives, not through popular elections. He maintained that his goal is to preserve Russia as a power, which should be strong and wealthy. (Alexander Rahr) DEFENSE MINISTRY: NO CAMPAIGNING BY DEMOCRATS. A directive issued by the Defense Ministry to commanders in the city of Arkhangel'sk forbids "spy-democrats" to campaign for the RSFSR presidency among military units, Radio Rossii said on June 3. The directive--first picked up by the Russian Information Agency out of Arkhangel'sk--was reportedly announced to troops stationed at the local garrison. At the same time, according to the report, campaigning in support of Ryzhkov is being conducted without restriction. A representative of "Soldiers For Democracy" will reportedly lodge a protest with Moscow. (Stephen Foye) SHATALIN JOINS DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF RUSSIA. Academician Stanislav Shatalin, former economic adviser to Gorbachev, joined the Democratic Party of Russia headed by Nikolai Travkin, Radio "Mayak" reported June 3. Shatalin was quoted by the radio as saying the Democratic Party of Russia represents interests of Russia better than any other political organization. For his part, Travkin (a worker) noted that Shatalin's membership in his party refutes the myth, spread by its critics, that the party is not suitable for intellectuals. (Vera Tolz) ARE SOME INDUSTRIES OFF-LIMITS? In a development related to the RSFSR's plans for privatization (see Daily Report, June 3), Gorbachev has been stressing in comments devoted to the new Union treaty that the defense, oil, and gas industries should remain under all-Union subordination, Radio Rossii reported June 3. These industries, the primary hard currency earners in the USSR, would apparently not be eligible for privatization. In support of his republic's efforts to become more independent and less centralized, Yeltsin noted that he could not agree with Gorbachev on this point. (John Tedstrom) NAGORNO-KARABAKH ARMENIANS READY FOR DIALOGUE? TASS reported June 3 that a group of Nagorno-Karabakh officials have dispatched a telegram to Gorbachev, USSR Supreme Soviet Chairman Anatolii Luk'yanov, and Azerbaijani President Ayaz Mutalibov expressing their readiness for a dialogue with the Azerbaijani leadership in the presence of USSR Supreme Soviet representatives. The signatories demanded an end to the ongoing bloodshed and forced deportation of Armenians and the release of hostages. (NCA/Liz Fuller) INTERPARLIAMENTARY COMMISSION IN GEORGIA. Georgian Parliament chairman Akaki Asatiani met June 3 with members of the inter- parliamentary commission of deputies to the USSR, RSFSR and Georgian Supreme Soviets which for the past two weeks has studied the situation in South Ossetia. Commission members expressed concern at ongoing tension and rising crime in the former South Ossetian AO. They proposed "a period of civic peace and accord" in the region, and creation of a committee to coordinate attempts by law enforcement organs and residents to restore normal living conditions and economic activity, TASS reported June 3. (Liz Fuller) EXPLOSION IN BUKHARA. Russian Television reported on its evening news show on June 3 that a tank of liquid chlorine had exploded at a railway station in Bukhara in Uzbekistan. A poisonous cloud spread over an area of 1.5 kilometers, which included dwellings. Twenty-seven people had to be hospitalized. The report did not give the date of the explosion. (Bess Brown) TRIAL ENDS IN BISHKEK. The May 29 issue of Izvestia reported that the corruption trial of Asanbai Askarov, former First Secretary of Kazakhstan's Chimkent Oblast CP organization and a relative of Kazakhstan's former Party chief Dinmukhamed Kunaev, has ended in the Kirgiz capital. It had been underway for almost two years. Askarov, who was convicted of having received more than 111,000 rubles in bribes, was sentenced to 11 years' imprisonment; six Party and government officials tried with him received varying terms of imprisonment. The trial was held in Kyrgyzstan because officials in Kazakhstan feared a wave of popular sympathy for Askarov if the trial were held in Alma-Ata. (Bess Brown) BELORUSSIAN STRIKE LEADERS ASK FOR OBSERVERS. According to the Post-Faktum news agency on June 3, the Council of Belorussian Strike Committees has asked the leadership of the RSFSR to send observers to Belorussia. The request is being made in connection with the alleged persecution of participants in the politically-motivated labor strikes that took place in April and May in the republic. (Kathy Mihalisko) BELORUSSIAN SOCIAL DEMOCRATS OBTAIN REGISTRATION. As reported by Radio Rossii and other sources, the Belorussian Social Democratic Society was registered May 24 by the Ministry of Justice. That brings to three the number of noncommunist political parties that have obtained legal status in Belorussia. The other two are the United Democratic Party and the Belorussian Peasant Party. Only the Social Democrats, however, already have a faction in the republican Supreme Soviet. (Kathy Mihalisko) "UNIVERSAL" COMMODITY EXCHANGE OPENS IN KIEV. Ukrinform-Tass reported on May 28 that the first Ukrainian commodity exchange/stock market, launched by the State Supplies Committee, Ministry of Commerce, Republican Exhibit Center and the Ukrainian Economists Association, has held its first trading session. It differs from the 20 regional republican exchanges in that trade there is conducted only by brokers and electronic equipment is widely used. 350 million rubles' worth of goods were offered at the first session. Plans for the future include trading information with Russian and Belorussian exchanges and trading sessions five days a week. (Valentyn Moroz) MOLDAVIAN PREMIER TERMED WORTHY SUCCESSOR OF DRUC. Interviewed by Romanian TV June 2, Moldavia's foremost poet, Grigore Vieru, who is a USSR People's Deputy and a vocal defender of the recently ousted Moldavian Prime Minister Mircea Druc, commended Moldavian President Mircea Snegur for choosing Valeriu Muravschi as the new Prime Minister. Vieru termed Muravschi "as good a Romanian and Christian as Druc" and noted Muravschi's plans to continue Druc's agenda of radical economic and social reforms. (Vladimir Socor) MOLDAVIAN PREMIER ON SOVIET CENTRAL TV. In his first interview as Prime Minister of Moldavia with the Soviet central media, Muravschi told Central Television June 1 that "the center completely failed to take our position seriously" in preparing the Union treaty, and that partly as a result of this, Moldavia "has moved and is trying to move further in the direction of independence." Indicating that any decision on independence will be made by popular consultation, Muravschi added that Kishinev considers economic links with Soviet republics to be vitally necessary irrespective of Moldavia's future political status. (Vladimir Socor) MOLDAVIAN PREMIER'S ROMANIAN INTERVIEW. In his first interview as Prime Minister with the Romanian media, Muravschi told Rompres June 2 that "we have the same language, history and destiny...[and] we must now strive to integrate our economies." Echoing his immediate predecessor Druc, Muravschi called for "100 joint ventures" to be set up by Romania and Moldavia, while also reaffirming Moldavia's pursuit of horizontal cooperation with Soviet republics. In contrast to Romania's policies, Muravschi reiterated Kishinev's resolve to speed up the transition to a market economy and privatization, to be closely followed by the liberalization of prices. (Vladimir Socor)
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