|A host is like general: calamities often reveal his genius. - Horace|
No. 110, 12 June 1991
BALTIC STATES CPSU CC POLITBURO INTERVENTION REQUIRED TO STOP OMON? Latvia's Deputy PM Ilmars Bisers told Diena of June 11 that after talking with General Savin, Commander of MVD forces of the USSR's Northwestern region, and other officials in Moscow on June 10, he felt that only the CPSU CC Politburo can resolve the OMON problem in the Baltics, though this issue will be also discussed in future Latvian-USSR consultations. According to Bisers, Latvia needs to organize better its system of customs and border posts; it cannot afford to have 20-30 guards at each of the 35 posts. Bisers said that the guards should be well trained and belong to Latvia's Civil Service. The new system could be operational next spring. In the meantime, Bisers urged young men not to tackle the OMON on their own. (Dzintra Bungs) BALTIC COUNCIL STATEMENTS TO WEST... The Baltic Council meeting in Tallinn on June 11 signed several joint statements, Radio Independent Lithuania reported June 12. "The Baltic States are not a constituent part of the USSR, and they ask the USA administration and Congress, as well as all democratic nations, to take these circumstances into account," one statement read. According to the Baltic Council, any Western aid for the Baltic States should be sent directly, bypassing Soviet authorities. The Council denounced USSR Prosecutor General Nikolai Trubin's June 3 report absolving Soviet troops of any responsibility for the deaths in Vilnius on January 13 and requested that international organizations investigate the event. The Council also discussed the problem of nuclear armaments in the Baltic States, and passed a resolution calling on the three Baltic Supreme Councils to examine the possibility of signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. (Gytis Liulevicius) AND ON SOVIET UNION TREATY. Another document dealt with the upcoming new USSR Union treaty. Although the treaty will not affect the Baltic States as sovereign nations, the Baltic Council, nevertheless, welcomed its principles of self-determination and voluntary participation, and expressed the hope that future relations between the Baltic States and the new Union treaty's signatories would be founded on those principles. (Gytis Liulevicius) LITHUANIAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER IN MOSCOW. On June 11 Lithuanian Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Valdemaras Katkus was in Moscow for meetings with USSR Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Valentin Nikiforov and the head of the Soviet delegation at the CSCE, Yurii Deryabin, Radio Independent Lithuania reported that day. Katkus discussed the possibilities of cooperation between the two foreign affairs ministries on questions of passports, visas, and border control, and the possibility of a Lithuanian delegation's participation in next week's CSCE foreign ministers' meeting in Berlin. (Saulius Girnius) LATVIAN-POLISH ACCORD EXPECTED. Latvia's Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis and Foreign Minister Janis Jurkans left for Poland today (June 12) for talks with Polish leaders concerning closer cooperation and the opening of information bureaus in Warsaw and Riga. Radio Riga of June 12 reported that representatives of the two sides are expected to sign a friendship and cooperation agreement. Jurkans told Diena of June 11 that this would be the second such accord for Latvia; the first one was with Denmark. (Dzintra Bungs) KOMSOMOL RENEWED IN LATVIA. The twenty-fifth congress of the Latvian Komsomol was held in Riga on June 8, according to Diena of June 8. On June 8, 1990 the Komsomol was renamed Latvian Youth Progress Association (LYPA) to indicate the change in ideological orientation of the organization. A minority of the old Komsomol members (4,125), unhappy over the change, decided to renew the organization. The old Komsomol membership was estimated at about 202,000. The LYPL membership is about 29,000--a clear indication that the appeal of the Komsomol, either in its old or modified form, has declined dramatically in Latvia. (Dzintra Bungs) SOVIET MILITARY CAPTURES DESERTER IN LATVIA. A military patrol seized A. Ozolins in Olaine where he had performed alternative service, working as a guard for Latvia's Ministry of Internal Affairs. In May 1990 he was beaten with a metal bar and received serious head injuries; this prompted him to leave his army unit. The captors seized Ozolins at home, roughed him up, and threatened to shoot his mother, reported Diena of June 7. (Dzintra Bungs) COORDINATOR BETWEEN BUNDESTAG AND LITHUANIAN SUPREME COUNCIL. On June 7 Radio Independent Lithuania reported that Lithuanian parliament deputy Antanas Racas had been appointed Lithuanian coordinator between the German Bundestag and the Lithuanian Supreme Council. Racas arrived in Germany in March to establish a Lithuanian information bureau at the Lithuanian high school in Huettenfeld. He organized the official visit of Lithuanian parliamentarians to the Bundestag on April 17-19. Racas noted that one of his main duties in Germany was to help Lithuanian soldiers who had deserted the Soviet army. He said that Germany has furnished them with food, clothing, shelter, and language courses. (Saulius Girnius) USSR - ALL-UNION TOPICS PAVLOV CLAIMS ECONOMY HAS STABILIZED. In what was described as an unscheduled address to the USSR Supreme Soviet on June 11, Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov claimed that the slump in output has been halted, TASS reported June 11. He poured scorn on those who had foretold slumps of 20-50%--although one cannot recall anyone predicting such a decline--and attributed the purported stabilization to his anti-crisis program. This is odd, as the program technically is not in force. Pavlov promised that "state-set retail prices for basic food and non-food goods" will not be raised again this year. This may delay the implementation of a key provision of his draft anti-crisis program, namely, "the transition to primarily free price formation by October 1, 1992." (Keith Bush) REPUBLICS AND ANTI-CRISIS PROGRAM. Pavlov told the Supreme Soviet that virtually all the republics supported the anti-crisis program, but only seven had signed it so far, TASS reported yesterday. Russia and Ukraine fully supported the program, Pavlov claimed, but wanted it to include references to the mechanism of taxing enterprises and dividing up Union and republican property, which Pavlov thought should go in the Union treaty. The Baltic republics supported the program too, he said, but would not sign because they did not regard themselves as part of the Soviet Union. Moldavia was wavering. Georgia was the only republic that had so far "given no sign of life." (Ann Sheehy) PAVLOV ON BALANCE OF PAYMENTS. The TASS and Radio Moscow accounts of Pavlov's remarks on foreign trade and balance of payments were not completely clear. He apparently reported that imports during the first five months of 1991 have been cut by 45% to 12.2 billion currency rubles, while exports were 7.7 billion currency rubles. Commercial arrears totalled 2.5 billion rubles. The USSR "has now been switched to a special credit regime," whereby suppliers expect to be paid on the nail, rather than deliver first and then submit bills. Pavlov is quoted as saying: "I deal with the state's cash morning and evening." Yet he is cited as seeing light at the end of the tunnel. (Keith Bush) PROSPECTS FOR THIS YEAR'S HARVEST. Pavlov told the Supreme Soviet that grain had been sown on 110-111 million hectares--about the same area as in 1990. He projected the grain harvest at 205-206 million tons, compared with 237 million tons [bunker weight] in 1990. Pavlov blamed the drop on the weather. It might be noted that no Soviet official has previously given a concrete projection of the harvest so early in the season. In his speech to industrial and farm managers on June 5, Pavlov had forecast bumper harvests of vegetables and fruit this year, but Izvestia of June 1 warned that the area planted with potatoes is 25% and with other vegetables, 12% down from 1990. (Keith Bush) BLACK MARKET IN HARD CURRENCY UNDERCUT. Since the official exchange rate for hard currency was raised in April, Soviet banks have been changing ten to twelve times as much, Izvestia June 10 reported, according to agency reports. The official tourist exchange rate appears to have remained at 27.6 rubles to the dollar since trading opened on April 2, as volume at the weekly trading sessions has been below the minimum of $10 million stipulated to trigger changes in the rate. (Keith Bush) NISHANOV ON UNION TREATY TIMETABLE. In an interview on Moscow Radio June 11, Rafik Nishanov, Chairman of the Council of Nationalities, said that the Preparatory Committee working on the draft Union treaty agreed that work on it should be completed by the end of June. The all-Union and republican parliaments would then examine it, approve it, and appoint their plenipotentiary representatives to sign it. It had been proposed that the signing take place at the USSR Congress of People's Deputies. Nishanov said he hoped it would be signed by the end of July. (Ann Sheehy) SUPSOV FAILS TO ADOPT LAW ON INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. TASS reported June 10 that the USSR Supreme Soviet refused to approve a bill on scientific and intellectual property which received its first reading that day. Diametrically opposed views of the purpose of the bill were heard. Speaking in defense of the original draft, Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Laverov said it should "prevent cooperatives and foreign firms from pumping the ideas of Soviet scientists to the West, and stop the members of the shadow economy from waxing rich." Arguing against the law in its draft form, People's Deputy Yurii Kalmykov said two laws were needed: one on copyright and another against "dishonest competition." After what TASS said was a heated three-hour debate, the Supreme Soviet rejected the draft and sent it back to committee for further work. (Elizabeth Teague) SUPREME SOVIET APPROVES LAW ON WORK SAFETY. The USSR Supreme Soviet on June 7 approved in the first reading a bill designed to improve workplace safety in the USSR, TASS and Radio Moscow reported that day. The legislation, which was proposed by the official General Confederation of Trade Unions, shifts responsibility for the enforcement of safety regulations from the unions, whose task it has been until now, to the state. Introducing the legislation, union leader Vladimir Kuzmenok said that every year over 14,000 people are killed on the job in the USSR and about 700,000 are injured in industrial accidents. The new legislation sets new safety standards and compensation for those injured or killed; it will come up for final reading at the autumn session of parliament. (NCA) CONFLICTING UNEMPLOYMENT FIGURES CITED. A new framework law on employment comes into force in the USSR on July 1. Unemployment will be formally recognized for the first time since 1930 and workers who are laid off will become entitled to unemployment benefits. Since Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev came to power, the Soviet authorities have admitted the existence of unemployment but they have had no reliable means of measuring it. Estimates vary widely. Vremya on June 7 (quoting the official government figures) predicted that 2 million people will register as unemployed on July 1. But TASS on June 11 said as many as 13 million may register; the official news agency claimed there are one million unemployed in Moscow alone, 250,000 in Leningrad, and 16,000 in Belorussia. (TASS gave no source for its estimate; last year, the Shatalin group said the true figure was 6 million, made up of 4.5 million permanently unemployed and 1.5 million frictional unemployed.) (Elizabeth Teague) ILO SAYS JOBLESS "SET TO REACH 20 MILLION." TASS in the report cited above predicted that, if Soviet economic growth continues to decline, Soviet unemployment "could reach 30 million." TASS gave no timeframe for its prediction. Meanwhile, in a new book published June 9, the International Labor Organization in Geneva has predicted (only slightly more optimistically than TASS) that, in the event of a market reform, Soviet unemployment could grow to 20 million within a year or two (The Independent; RFE/RL correspondent's report from Geneva; both of June 10). (Elizabeth Teague) TERMS OF CFE COMPROMISE. Western agencies reported June 11 that NATO sources have revealed some details of the CFE deal worked out recently by Washington and Moscow. The terms include the following: Moscow will destroy about 20% of the equipment that was moved east of the Urals, a total of some 12,000 tanks, artillery pieces, and armored personnel carriers (APCs); it has agreed to count disputed equipment in naval infantry units in the treaty, preserving total and regional limits, and may convert several hundred APCs in these units; the West has agreed that naval infantry equipment will not be subject to routine inspection; the West has agreed to exempt several hundred pieces assigned to Soviet strategic nuclear rocket forces from CFE, counting them as "paramilitary forces." (Stephen Foye) SOLDIERS APPLY FOR ASYLUM IN FORMER GDR. A spokesman for the German Interior Ministry said on June 11 that 14 additional Soviet soldiers have sought political asylum in Germany since the middle of last month, bringing to 206 the total number of asylum seekers over the past 18 months. The Interior Ministry said recently that no decision has been taken on any of the requests. (NCA/Stephen Foye) STRAUSS WINS SUPPORT IN MOSCOW. Gorbachev's spokesman Vitalii Ignatenko said of Robert Strauss's appointment as US ambassador to the Soviet Union: "our reaction to this appointment is definitely positive." Speaking at a June 11 press conference, Ignatenko said: "we know that in the United States he is considered a master of compromise, an attribute which will help the development of cooperation between the two countries." The weekly Commersant said on June 11 the appointment of Strauss means that the United States "plans to pursue a firmer and more active policy toward the USSR, which is to prevent Gorbachev from deviating from the market track," Western agencies reported. (NCA/Suzanne Crow) WHY WAIT FOR START? According to a Radio Moscow World Service commentary broadcast June 10, there is "no need to link the possibility of an early summit to the conclusion of a START treaty. Bilateral relations and the elaboration of a joint approach towards crucial international issues can offer enough material for a Soviet-United States summit." The commentary, if indicative of the Soviet leadership's position, reveals a significant shift in Moscow's position on the summit. Moscow's urgency in meeting with US President Bush can likely be attributed to Gorbachev's desire to hold a high profile meeting in order to prop up his international stature on the eve of the G-7 summit. (Suzanne Crow) BARTER TRADE WITH CUBA. According to the Russian Information Agency (RIA), the Soviet Union and Cuba are preparing an agreement to shift trade to a barter basis as a transitional measure until trading in hard currency can begin. Products to be bartered include Soviet oil, food, wood, and machinery parts in exchange for Cuban sugar and food products, agency summaries reported June 11. The RIA report made no mention of the terms on which Cuban nickel would be sold to the Soviet Union. Trade between the two countries has been virtually halted for six months owing to Moscow's demands to conduct trade in hard currency and the dearth of such currency in both Cuba and the Soviet Union. (Suzanne Crow) YAKOVLEV: USSR DOES NOT WANT AID IT CAN'T REPAY. Senior Gorbachev adviser Aleksandr Yakovlev told journalists in Prague yesterday that the USSR "is not asking for help that we do not intend to pay back." According to TASS June 11, Yakovlev went on to say that Moscow's aim is for the Soviet Union "to become an equal partner in the international division of labor, and that any kind of discrimination against it be eliminated." Yakovlev stressed the importance of credits, saying they are necessary to soak up excess money which has destroyed the consumer market. (Sallie Wise) BAKATIN ON HIS ROLE IN SECURITY COUNCIL. Former USSR interior minister Vadim Bakatin said during a discussion on Russian Television June 10 that, as a member of the Security Council, he had made "maximum effort" to hold back conservative forces who tried to plot against RSFSR Supreme Soviet Chairman Boris Yeltsin at the Third RSFSR Congress of People's Deputies in March. But he also admitted that his powers are limited. He said that although he is member of the Security Council he has no influence on the KGB, MVD and procuracy and revealed that he and Evgenii Primakov, another full-time member of the council, do not know the state of the USSR budget because it is kept "under seven locks" by premier Pavlov. (Alexander Rahr) USSR - IN THE REPUBLICS CONSERVATIVES ATTACK YELTSIN. On the eve of the RSFSR elections, Sovetskaya Rossiya yesterday (June 11) printed a front-page article by USSR Prosecutor General Nikolai Trubin denouncing Yeltsin for illegal offers to sell millions of rubles for dollars at several times the official rate. The deal was never implemented, but then-RSFSR Deputy Prime Minister Gennadii Fil'shin resigned last February because of it. According to Western agencies June 11, RSFSR Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev admitted that Yeltsin had indeed appointed an alleged Italian mafioso as RSFSR honorary consul. But despite conservatives' attempts to block Yeltsin's election as RSFSR president, his chances of winning today have not decreased. The most pessimistic opinion surveys give him between 36% and 52% of the vote in the first round, The Times (London) reported June 12. (Alexander Rahr) BAKATIN VERSUS RYZHKOV. During a discussion on Russian TV June 10, Bakatin said he cannot believe that Russian voters would completely take leave of their senses and vote for Nikolai Ryzhkov--a man of yesterday. He stressed that he is much closer to Yeltsin than to Ryzhkov and that only he and Yeltsin represent democracy. In other statements, Bakatin predicted that the issue of diverting northern rivers from Russia to Central Asia will soon resurface on the agenda of the Federation Council. Bakatin criticized Gorbachev's foreign economic policy as a "humiliating search for whoever will give us loans." (Alexander Rahr) PATRIARCH ON CHURCH-STATE RELATIONS. In connection with the first anniversary of his enthronement, Patriarch Aleksii II told Izvestia, as reported by TASS on June 10, that relations between the state and the Russian Orthodox Church have entered a new phase, namely, progress. The Patriarch said that the Church is not against the state, but in cases when the government is wrong the Church feels duty-bound to speak out. As often before, the Patriarch expressed deep concern about the split involving the Russian Orthodox Church abroad. He also said that the problem of legalizing the Uniate Church (Ukrainian Greek Catholics) must be solved by the authorities, but added that the Church will agree to a church meeting on that subject. (Oxana Antic) CONGRESS OF CHECHEN PEOPLE CONTINUES CONFRONTATION. An all-national congress of the Chechen people that resumed work on June 8 reaffirmed its decision to rename Chechnya in its historical frontiers the Chechen Republic of Nakhichichi, Moscow radio reported June 9. The decision had been taken at the first stage of the congress in November 1990, but the Chechen-Ingush Supreme Soviet had subsequently refused to divide Chechen-Ingushetia into two republics or change its name. Moscow radio added that virtually all points of the resolution adopted by the congress on June 8 testified to the growing confrontation between the Chechen nationalist movement and the authorities. (Ann Sheehy) OMON UNITS SAID TO LEAVE MOLDAVIA. Moldavian parliamentary deputies told RFE/RL by telephone June 11 that the command of the Odessa military district cabled the Moldavian leadership that day announcing the withdrawal of the supplementary USSR MVD OMON units which had landed in Moldavia June 7 and 8 (see Daily Report, June 10). The command claimed that the units were merely transiting Moldavia as part of an exercise. Moldavian President Mircea Snegur had cabled Gorbachev to protest the introduction of the units without the knowledge, let alone the consent, of the republican government. (Vladimir Socor) MOLDAVIA ADOPTS LAWS ON BANKING, LOOKS TO REPUBLICAN CURRENCY. The Moldavian parliament adopted June 11 a law on the functioning of the Moldavian National Bank and a law on banks and banking activities, Moldovapres reported the same day. The National Bank, created June 4 (see Daily Report, June 5) will be subordinated directly to the parliament and will be headed by a governor appointed by parliament for terms of 7 years. The law on banking and banking activities lays the basis for the establishment of commercial and credit banks in Moldavia and regulates their operation. The same law provides for the introduction--within an unspecified term--of a republican currency. Prime Minister Valeriu Muravschi is on record as envisaging the introduction of a republican currency by 1992. (Vladimir Socor) JEWISH STUDIES REVIVED IN UKRAINE. The Cabinet of Jewish Culture has been reinstituted, marking the revival of Jewish studies in Ukraine, reports the April issue of Visnyk Akademii nauk Ukrains'koi RSR. The cabinet is within the framework of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences' Center for Nationalities Studies. A chair of Jewish culture was organized in the All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences in 1926 and reorganized into an institute in 1929. In 1936 the institute was liquidated and reorganized once again as the Cabinet of Jewish, Language, Literature, and Folklore. It was liquidated in 1949. (Roman Solchanyk) CORRECTION. In the Daily Report of June 11 (no. 109), the last sentence of MINSK TRACTOR FACTORY VOTES TO EJECT PARTY should read "The Tractor Factory was Gorbachev's first stop during his tour of Belorussia in February," not April as printed.
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