|The fool wonders, the wise man asks. - Benjamin Disraeli|
No. 116, 20 June 1991
BALTIC STATES BAKER SAYS US SUPPORTS CSCE OBSERVER STATUS FOR BALTS. Baltic foreign ministers conferred with US Secretary of State James Baker in Berlin on June 19, Radio Vilnius reported that day. Baker told the Baltic representatives of US efforts to win observer status for the Baltic States at CSCE meetings. Currently, the Baltic States participate as guests of other countries, which denies them entry to the closed-door sessions. Baker said that the USSR is blocking the US effort. Latvian Foreign Minister Janis Jurkans spoke of the meeting with Baker as an "informational" one. Topics included the Baltic States' negotiations with the USSR, recent Soviet military activities, and the economic situation. (Gytis Liulevicius) US CONGRESSMEN SEND LETTER TO GORBACHEV. The US Helsinki Commission sent a letter to Gorbachev on June 18 in reaction to the USSR Prosecutor-General's June 3 report on the violence in Vilnius last January. The letter, signed by 14 Congressmen, urged Gorbachev to "direct the USSR Procuracy or an independent investigatory body to carefully investigate all the testimony and evidence available, and produce a factual, credible report on the Vilnius tragedy." The Helsinki Commission also called on Gorbachev to "dismantle the still-existing structure of repression in Lithuania" and to return property occupied by the Soviet army to the people of Lithuania. (Gytis Liulevicius) LANDSBERGIS IN MOSCOW. Chairman of the Lithuanian Supreme Council Vytautas Landsbergis flew to Moscow June 19 on his way to Paris. The VOA Lithuanian Service reported that day that he had met for 1 1/2 hours with RSFSR Supreme Soviet First Deputy Chairman Ruslan Khasbulatov, along with the Lithuanian permanent representative in Moscow Egidijus Bickauskas, at the Lithuanian legation. Bickauskas said that the meeting was "useful and practical" and that a RSFSR-Lithuania treaty should be signed in the summer. Landsbergis has begun a 10-day trip to France, Norway, Germany, and Finland. He is scheduled to meet today (June 20) with French President Francois Mitterrand, Prime Minister Edith Cresson, and high-ranking government and parliament officials. (Saulius Girnius) SAVISAAR AVOIDS NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE. On June 19 Estonian Prime Minister Edgar Savisaar avoided an effort by some parliament deputies to force a no-confidence vote on his government, Radio Tallinn reported that day. The parliament voted to approve the suggestion by its chairman Arnold Ruutel not to put the no-confidence motion on the day's agenda. (Saulius Girnius) BUNDESTAG BACKS BALTIC INFORMATION OFFICES. The German Bundestag approved a resolution on June 19 calling for the exchange of information offices with the Baltic republics, RFE/RL's correspondent in Bonn reported that day. Helmut Schaefer, Minister of State in the Foreign Ministry, said that the German government would soon open talks to open a Goethe Institute in one of the Baltic capitals and that Bonn has no objection to the establishment of a Baltic information office in Germany. Such an office, however, would not have diplomatic status or German government financing. (Saulius Girnius) DIENSTBIER ON BALTIC TIES. In an interview with the Berlin Tageszeitung on June 19, Czechoslovak Foreign Minister Jiri Dienstbier expressed his country's wishes for productive relations with the Baltic States. Dienstbier said that he had the impression that "there are few people in the Baltic States that are calling for immediate establishment of diplomatic relations." Instead, Dienstbier considered "close, day-to-day connections" to be more important. (Gytis Liulevicius) KGB FAILED TO FABRICATE "FASCIST PLOT" IN LATVIA. In August 1990, the Latvian KGB arrested an activist of the "Environmental Protection Club," Janis Legzdins, accusing him of creating a pro-fascist organization, and mounted a campaign in the central media to compromise independence-minded Latvia, reports Moscow News No. 23. The KGB charged Legzdins with preparing a plan to steal KGB archives and to fly abroad on a hijacked plane. The case signalled an anti-Latvian campaign in the central media launched by an article by former Latvian KGB Chairman S. Zukul in Pravda, November 28, 1990. Latvian KGB representatives told Moscow News that they had nothing to do with spreading information about "rising pro-fascist groups" in Latvia. The disinformation campaign was psychological preparation for the present policy of intimidating the Baltic States, comments the weekly. (Victor Yasmann) USSR - ALL-UNION TOPICS PAVLOV AGAIN INSISTS ON MORE POWER. Fearing that a Gorbachev-Yeltsin alliance could strip them of power, it appears that conservatives now are seeking to curtail the USSR President's powers and make Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov run the country. Pavlov on June 18 issued his second appeal for additional power in the parliament, asking that the president be subordinated to the government, according to TASS that day. The chairman of the Soviet Constitutional Compliance Committee, Sergei Alekseev, on Soviet TV June 19 rejected Pavlov's demand on the ground that it would create three power centers--the presidency, the prime minister and the parliament--resisting each other. (Alexander Rahr) KGB, ARMY, MVD SUPPORT PAVLOV. Russian TV and other Soviet sources on June 19 disclosed that Pavlov's proposal was supported in the parliament by the heads of the army, Interior Ministry, and KGB, Dmitrii Yazov, Boris Pugo,and Vladimir Kryuchkov, respectively. One of the security chiefs, presumably Kryuchkov, was reported to have described USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev's policy of dismantling the Union as coinciding with the plans of US intelligence. The first deputy chairman of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet, Ruslan Khasbulatov, told Radio Rossii on June 18 that an attempt to crush any of the Russian republican structures will fail. (Alexander Rahr) CUTS IN GOVERNMENT APPARATUS ANNOUNCED. While Pavlov wants additional power for his government, Gorbachev wants to cut around a third of all jobs in central Soviet ministries as part of his plans to reduce the state budget and to transfer the country to a market economy. Soviet news agencies reported on June 18 that such a decision was announced at a government meeting. The apparatus of the Cabinet of Ministers will be cut by 32% and consist only of 36,000 people. Some ministries will be cut by 50% and their functions transferred to the republican level. The only ministries to escape cuts will be the defense and railway ministries, which will remain firmly under the center's jurisdiction. (Alexander Rahr) USSR STALLS CSCE PLAN FOR CRISIS MEDIATION. At the CSCE foreign ministers' meeting in Berlin yesterday, Soviet Foreign Minister Aleksandr Bessmertnykh objected to a plan to prevent conflicts and manage crises, insisting that CSCE member states must have the right to veto procedures in disputes that involve them. RFE/RL's correspondent in Berlin June 19 quoted Belgian Foreign Minister Mark Eyskens as saying that the USSR was the only country to object to the plan, which would entail sending CSCE fact-finding missions to areas of tension. Western agencies report today that a compromise may be reached before the conference ends later today. (Sallie Wise) BONN WANTS TO KNOW BEFORE SOVIET NUKES ARE MOVED. The German government has asked the Soviet army in eastern Germany for advance notice before any Soviet nuclear weapons are shipped back to the USSR. The German Ministry of Transport said June 18 that it had been told that no nuclear arms are being transported at present, and that Moscow would consider Bonn's request for prior notification. Bessmertnykh acknowledged last week that Soviet forces in Germany still have nuclear weapons. (NCA/Sallie Wise) SOVIETS PREPARE FOR WAR ANNIVERSARY. Ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of the June 22, 1941, Nazi attack on the USSR seem likely to be contentious. TASS reports that in the June 19 Pravda, General Staff Chief Mikhail Moiseev criticized the idea that losses early in the war were the result of ineptitude on the part of the High Command and that the army relied on numbers rather than skill. He admitted, however, that the General Staff had made serious errors. Meanwhile, on June 19 a conference (addressed by Moiseev) was held in Moscow on the war's initial period, as was a conference jointly sponsored by the Defense Ministry and the USSR Union of Writers (and addressed by Defense Minister Yazov). (Stephen Foye) SOVIET-GERMAN TANDEM ON ANNIVERSARY. In a joint article devoted to World War II that appears in the June 20 Die Welt, veterans Sergei Akhromeev and German Christian Democratic Party Deputy Alfred Dregger stress the importance of good relations between the two countries, according to agency summaries. Akhromeev also used the occasion to call for the dissolution of NATO and for a definition of the role to be played by the Western European Union. Dregger said that these organizations were the basis for the success of the East-West Helsinki process. (NCA/Stephen Foye) ASSOCIATION OF PUBLISHERS HOLDS MEETING. An organizational meeting to create a new Association of Publishers was held in Moscow June 19. The aim of the new association is to help publishers coordinate their activities and solve problems of paper deliveries and printing equipment during the transition to a market economy. The enterprise is supported by the USSR State Committee for the Press, whose official Mikhail Nikol'sky was elected head of the association's organizational committee, Radio Moscow-1 reported. (Vera Tolz) EXPERIMENTAL CREATIVE CENTER PUBLISHES MAGAZINE. The interdisciplinary Experimental Creative Center (ECC) headed by controversial political scientist Sergei Kurginyan has started a bi-monthly magazine, Polis, published under the aegis of the USSR Academy of Sciences. The founders of Polis include the ECC, the association "Save World and Nature", the Soviet Committee for the Defense of Peace, the Council of the All-Union Confederation of Trade-Unions, the Institute of the International Workers Movement and "Progress" publishers. The editorial board includes USSR Deputy Foreign Minister Eduard Obminsky, Chairman of the State Committee for the Press and Publishing Mikhail Nenashev, rector of the former CPSU CC Institute of Social Sciences Yurii Krasin, political scientists Igor Klyamkin and Marina Pavlova-Sil'vanskaya, and leading consultants from the CPSU International Department, experts from the USA and Canada Institute, as well as from the Institute of the World Economy and International Relations. (Victor Yasmann) NUMBER OF DEATH SENTENCES RISES. The number of death sentences in the USSR (which was, as a result of changes in the law, showing a steady tendency to decrease) increased in 1990. This was revealed June 19 in an interview in Rabochaya tribuna with the director of the clemency appeals department of the USSR Supreme Soviet, Gennadii Cheremnykh. According to agency reports, Cheremnykh said 445 people were convicted of capital crimes in the USSR in 1990. Of those 29 have since been pardoned and 29 have already been executed. Capital punishment statistics were a state secret in the USSR until, on February 26, 1991, Komsomol'skaya pravda published figures for 1985-89. These showed the numbers of death sentences dropping from 770 in 1985 to 526 in 1986, 344 in 1987, and a low of 271 (of whom 72 were pardoned) in 1988. The figures began to rise again in 1989, when 276 people were sentenced to death (of whom 23 were pardoned). (Elizabeth Teague) NON-COMBAT DEATHS IN THE ARMY. No. 22 Ogonek carries an informative article on the difficulties faced by parents and investigators in their efforts to uncover the extent of, and reasons for, non-combat deaths among conscripts. Author Gennadii Zhukovets concludes that the Defense Ministry has stonewalled the investigation, and that a presidential commission appointed to investigate has been largely ineffective. He says, however, that a Defense Ministry statement suggests that some 8,000 conscripts have died annually over the last fifteen years, and that letters to the presidential commission imply that some 75-80% of all deaths, and 70% of serious injuries, are related to violence in army life. (Stephen Foye) "NON-COMBAT" DEATHS SINCE WWII. A commission of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet charged with investigating peacetime deaths in the armed forces says that some 310,000 Soviet soldiers have suffered peacetime deaths since the end of World War II, Vesti reported on June 18. The commission said that one-half of the deaths were the result of suicide, some 20% occurred from beatings, and only 10% were related to accidents. The Vesti report provided no details on the Committee's composition. (Stephen Foye) STALIN'S OFFICIAL DOUBLE DIES AT 93. Rabochaya tribuna (June 15) reported that a man who once served as Stalin's official double has died at the age of 93 in Krasnodar (Southern Russia). The newspaper identified the man only as "Rashid," and said he was chosen before World War II as Stalin's double because of the remarkable resemblance. The paper said he was trained for two years before he was allowed to substitute for Stalin at meetings and banquets. In January, 1991, the same newspaper reported that another man, identified as Evsei Lubitsky, had often been used as Stalin's double after undergoing surgery to increase his resemblance to the Soviet leader. (NCA/Vera Tolz) USSR - IN THE REPUBLICS YELTSIN INTERVIEWED. In an interview on ABC's Nightline on June 18, Yeltsin promised to dismantle the Communist system in Russia and said he will again oppose Gorbachev if the latter delays reform. He admitted that he does not like Gorbachev "to a large extent" because the USSR President is "inconsistent." But he also told Radio Rossii on June 19 that after his election as RSFSR President, Gorbachev sharply improved his attitude towards him. Yeltsin disclosed that on June 17, Gorbachev, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev and he met in Moscow and agreed to push the Yavlinsky economic plan which seeks closer cooperation between the USSR and the West. (Alexander Rahr) YELTSIN SAYS HE WOULD STOP AID TO CUBA, AFGHANISTAN. Yeltsin said during his meetings with US lawmakers that he favors eliminating all foreign aid to Cuba and Afghanistan, Western news agencies reported June 20. He offered to discuss the conversion of military production plants to civilian use. He advised against giving financial aid to Gorbachev's central government because "there is no way to control whose hands it will end up in." Yeltsin told the US House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Committee that all people of the Soviet Union support private property ownership, democracy, privatization, and a market economy system. (Alexander Rahr) RSFSR SUPREME SOVIET DISCUSSES LANGUAGES BILL. On June 19 the RSFSR Supreme Soviet approved in the main a draft law "On the languages of the peoples of the RSFSR," TASS reported yesterday. This is the first such bill in RSFSR history. Some deputies objected to the bill's declaring Russian the state language only in the republic's krais and oblasts, and leaving it up to the local authorities to decide what the situation should be in the autonomous formations. In fact, in their declarations of sovereignty many of the autonomous formations, which often have a very sizable Russian-speaking population, have already given both the vernacular and Russian the status of state language. (Ann Sheehy) RUSSIAN CITIES RATED ACCORDING TO LIVING STANDARDS. A new sociological survey concluded that Moscow and Leningrad have the best overall living standards of cities in the Russian Federation, the latest issue of Argumenty i fakty reported. Leningrad's Voznesensky Finance and Economics Institute, which organized the study, said the lowest living standards were found in Elista (Kalmykskaya ASSR), Groznyi (Checheno-Ingushetiya), Makhachkala (Dagestan), Ulan Ude (Buryatiya) and the Russian city of Tambov. The highest dietary standards after Moscow were in Leningrad, Murmansk and Kaliningrad, with the poorest in Groznyi and Kyzyl. Rates of infant mortality, illness, and industrial accidents were lowest, however, in Makhachkala and Groznyi, and the highest in Yakutsk and Kemerovo. The least polluted cities were Kurgan, Tyumen, Chita and Pskov. The most polluted were Groznyi, Lipetsk and Nalchik (Kabardino-Balkariya). (Vera Tolz) DEFENSE INDUSTRY FUNDS RUSSIAN TELEVISION. RSFSR television, which is having budget and technological problems, presently is supported by the inter-branch concern Konversiya ("Conversion"), headed by entrepreneur Boris Korobochkin, according to Kommersant No. 20. Konversiya, which united about 120 defense sector enterprises, is registered at the RSFSR Council of Ministers. Thus far, the concern has extended to the Russian State Television and Radio Company a loan of $6 million for telecommunications equipment, writes Kommersant. In May there were reports that an association of directors of defense enterprises in Leningrad and the Baltic Maritime Company would be the major stockholders of the Leningrad commercial TV company (see Daily Report, May 31). (Victor Yasmann) INDEPENDENT REPUBLIC OF CHITA POSSIBLE? The leaders of Chita oblast have addressed to the USSR and RSFSR Supreme Soviets an appeal for emergency measures to supply the inhabitants of eastern Siberia with the necessary industrial goods and foodstuffs, Central Television reported June 14. If this is not done, the appeal states, the oblast leadership will be forced to consider the creation of a republic of Chita, which will be independent of the center. (Ann Sheehy) MVD MAJOR KILLED IN NAGORNO-KARABAKH. TASS reported June 19 that USSR MVD Major Alexei Khomich was ambushed and killed by unidentified gunmen June 18 while driving from the NKAO capital of Stepanakert to Shusha. A senior lieutenant travelling with him was severely wounded. Khomich is the most senior officer to be killed to date in Nagorno-Karabakh; an MVD colonel was shot in Rostov in April, reportedly by members of an Armenian extremist organization. (Liz Fuller) KRAVCHUK: STRONG RESERVATIONS ON UNION TREATY DRAFT. In an interview June 20 with the Financial Times, Ukrainian Supreme Soviet chairman Leonid Kravchuk indicated that his republic might not sign the Union treaty this summer, as Gorbachev desires, because commitments were made to striking students and workers not to sign on the dotted line until adoption of a new republican constitution. Kravchuk said he supports Yeltsin's position that each republic should make a single contribution to the central treasury, adding that he would urge the Ukrainian parliament to reject the latest draft if its provision for direct central government taxation is not changed. (Kathy Mihalisko) SHCHERBAK NAMED UKRAINIAN MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT. The well-known writer and physician Yurii Shcherbak was elected June 19 to the post of Minister for the Environment, TASS announced. Shcherbak has written extensively on the Chernobyl' disaster and is currently chairman of the Ukrainian Green Party. (Kathy Mihalisko) UKRAINIAN AND BELORUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTERS ON CHERNOBYL' COVER-UP. At a press conference June 19 in Berlin summarized by TASS, the foreign ministers of Ukraine and Belorussia, Anatol' Zlenko and Pyatr Krauchenka, said the world still does not know the truth about the impact and scale of the Chernobyl' disaster. The two ministers took issue with the recently issued and highly controversial report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, stating that its findings would lead to unjustified optimism. Zlenko and Krauchenko are in Germany as part of the Soviet delegation to the CSCE. (Kathy Mihalisko) RETURN OF CRIMEAN TATARS TO CRIMEA. Over 130,000 Crimean Tatars have returned to the Crimea, the chairman of the Crimean ASSR Committee for Deported Peoples Lentun Bezaziev told TASS June 19. Those coming by invitation have their expenses paid and are given a plot of land and credit, but members of the intelligentsia have difficulty finding work in their specialty. Efforts are being made to revive national culture, Bezaziev said, and work is in hand on restoring local monuments. Novosti reported on June 18, however, that members of the National Movement of Crimean Tatars are not satisfied with the progress made and want the matter raised at the 5th USSR Congress of Peoples' Deputies. (Ann Sheehy) MOLDAVIAN PRESIDENT WANTS "EMERGENCE FROM ANONYMITY". Briefly stopping over in Bucharest en route to this year's session of the Economic Forum in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, Moldavian President Mircea Snegur told reporters that the 9-plus-1 agreement and the latest version of the Union treaty made for "a so-called renewed federation...in reality preserving a unitary state." This is "unacceptable" to Moldavia which stands by its conception of a "confederation of sovereign states," Snegur said. At the same time Moldavia would seek access to "other communities," he said. Noting that Moldavia was little known internationally, Snegur said that the republic "must at last emerge from anonymity" and seek direct cooperation with the West. (Vladimir Socor) DOCTRINE OF "TWO ROMANIAN STATES" REASSERTED. Snegur again ruled out Moldavia's reunification with Romania for the foreseeable future, reasserting the Moldavian doctrine of "one people, two states," which envisages close economic and cultural cooperation with Romania by an independent Moldavia. He regretted that plans for greater cross-border communication and for "100 joint ventures" between Moldavia and Romania are not being realized. He was optimistic, however, about the prospects of cooperation between Moldavia and the RSFSR, highly praising Yeltsin. Snegur's remarks, made after a brief meeting with Romanian President Ion Iliescu, were reported by the Romanian media and Western news agencies June 19. (Vladimir Socor) KYRGYZSTAN PILGRIMS TO MECCA. About 500 pilgrims from Kyrgyzstan are going on the pilgrimage to Mecca this year, TASS reported June 19. They hope not only to visit the holy places, but also meet leaders of the World Islamic Center to discuss possibilities for two to three thousand Kyrgyzstanis to take jobs in Saudi Arabia, and joint projects. (Ann Sheehy) KAZAKH PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSION TO INVESTIGATE LOSS OF LIFE DURING COLLECTIVIZATION. The Kazakh Supreme Soviet has set up a commission to study what really happened in the republic during collectivization and the forcible settlement of the nomads at the beginning of the 1930s when 2.5 million people died of hunger, Izvestia reported June 11. Local historians have only been able to discuss this grim period openly since the advent of glasnost'. The Kazakhs have since managed to make good their numbers, and are to hold an "enormous festival" to mark the anticipated birth of the 10 millionth Kazakh in the world on June 25, Novosti reported June 14. Former Party first secretary Dinmukhamed Kunaev will speak at the opening ceremony. (Ann Sheehy)
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