|When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain|
No. 119, 25 June 1991
BALTIC STATES MOSCOW PROTESTS COUNCIL OF EUROPE'S BALTIC HEARING. The Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly, which begins a five-day meeting in Helsinki June 25, plans to discuss Baltic affairs on June 27. The USSR, which has special-guest status at the Assembly, objected to the agenda several weeks ago, Western agencies reported June 24. Olli Rehn, head of the Finnish delegation, said that the USSR regards any international discussions on the Baltic States as interference in its internal affairs. Supreme Council chairmen Vytautas Landsbergis of Lithuania, Anatolijs Gorbunovs of Latvia, and Arnold Ruutel of Estonia are expected to attend the closed-door hearing on June 27. (Gytis Liulevicius) INTERNATIONALIZING THE BALTIC QUESTION. Estonia's Foreign Minister Lennart Meri told reporters in Helsinki on June 24 that efforts "to internationalize the Baltic crisis...have been pretty successful," a Western agency reported that day. Meri's remarks came on the heels of Baltic participation as guests of the Nordic delegations in the Berlin CSCE foreign ministers' meeting last week and in advance of a meeting this week of the Council of Europe and next week at the EC summit in Luxembourg, both of which will discuss the Baltic question. (Riina Kionka) ESTONIAN KGB AND THE PARTY. The Estonian KGB no longer has "a direct line" to the Estonian Communist Party, according to an RFE Estonian Service interview broadcast on June 24. KGB chief Rein Sillar told RFE that his only contact with independent ECP first secretary Enn-Arno Sillari is privately, "as a friend." Sillar said the KGB is looking for a new niche to replace its old function of being the party's ideological watchdog. He said that the agency should continue to engage in espionage and counter-espionage, but for the state and not the Communist Party. Sillar confirmed that the KGB still eavesdrops on telephone conversations and that the service remains subordinated to Moscow, not Tallinn. (Riina Kionka) FUNERAL OF ARCHBISHOP STEPONAVICIUS. On June 24 funeral services for Archbishop of Vilnius Julijonas Steponavicius were held in Vilnius Cathedral, Radio Independent Lithuania reported that day. Steponavicius died on June 18 and his body lay in state in the cathedral to allow thousands of people to pay him their last respects. The funeral Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Vincentas Sladkevicius together with the bishops of Lithuania, the papal pro-nuncio from the Netherlands Audris Backis who came as the Pope's special representative, the archbishop of Moscow, and the bishops of Lomza, Bialystok, and Novosibirsk. Bishop Sigitas Tamkevicius gave the main sermon. Steponavicius was buried in a crypt in the cathedral. (Saulius Girnius) USSR--ALL-UNION TOPICS KRYUCHKOV SLAMS WEST. In a hard-line speech to a closed session of the USSR Supreme Soviet on June 18, KGB Chief Vladimir Kryuchkov said that the West was trying to undermine the Soviet system by pretending to support perestroika, and he accused the CIA of plotting to destroy the Soviet economy. Kryuchkov's statements were aired on June 22 by the controversial Leningrad TV journalist, Alexander Nevzorov, Western agencies reported. Kryuchkov said that Soviet plans for economic reform and attempts to gain Western aid amounted to capitulation, and would give the West leverage over Soviet internal affairs. He also claimed that the West wants Moscow to make "intolerable" defense cuts. (Stephen Foye) WHILE YAZOV SAYS ARMED FORCES THREATENED. During the same session, the Soviet Defense Minister complained that political turmoil and economic collapse threaten the existence of the Soviet armed forces. Western agencies report that the speech was published in the June 24 Politics, the weekly newspaper of the hard-line "Soyuz" faction. Yazov claimed that only 6% of eligible conscripts have been drafted this spring in Georgia, Armenia, and the Baltic republics, and slammed what he suggested were attempts to break up the army. Yazov also complained that the half-million man unilateral reduction ordered by Gorbachev in 1988 had forced the discharge of 100,000 officers, including 35,000 not entitled to pensions, and decried the housing shortages faced by officers. (Stephen Foye) PUGO COMPLAINS ABOUT RISING CRIME. The same issue of Politika published excerpts from the speech of interior minister Boris Pugo in the Supreme Soviet in which the latter criticized Gorbachev's indecisiveness and came out in favor of a partial transfer of Gorbachev's powers to premier Pavlov. Pugo complained in his speech about the crime situation in the country and said that police had confiscated 52,000 firearms and 4.5 tons of explosives since August of last year. (Alexander Rahr) SOYUZ AGAINST DRAFT UNION TREATY. The hardline Soyuz faction in the Soviet parliament denounced the latest draft of the Union treaty, saying it calls for the elimination of the USSR as a single, federal state. TASS on June 24 quoted Soyuz leader Yurii Blokhin as saying that the draft is in conflict with the results of the March referendum on the preservation of the Soviet Union. Blokhin stated that his faction supports premier Valentin Pavlov and regards Gorbachev's policy as "inadequate" to solve the country's problems. (Alexander Rahr) SUPREME SOVIET MOVES ON PRIVATIZATION. The USSR Supreme Soviet came one step closer to adopting a draft law on "destatification and privatization" June 24. A TASS report in Russian of the same day says that the draft was approved on second reading. The TASS report contradicts, somewhat, Western reports about the scope of privatization in Soviet industry. TASS says that, according to government forecasts distributed among deputies, "by the end of 1995 the share of state participation in the creation of joint stock companies in machine building will total 10-15 percent, in metallurgy 20-30 percent, in transportation, fuel and energy, in defense 30-50 percent, and in communications 50-70 percent." (John Tedstrom) IS THIS PRIVATIZATION? Most of the changes resulting from the law--when it is passed and implemented--will be in the form of destatification, not privatization. The USSR state will still "own" most of the enterprises and associations, but control will be handed over to the public through stock offerings. The draft law rejects the idea of handing over property to the public free of charge. The final passage of the bill through the parliament is likely to be easy, but its adoption is not certain. At the June 24 supreme soviet session, former Politburo member Egor Ligachev spoke out strongly against it. Others declared it unconstitutional. Further action is expected Friday, June 28. (John Tedstrom) FURTHER SLUMP IN RUBLE. At the June 18 session of the Moscow foreign exchange market, the US dollar fetched 42 rubles, compared with 39.6 rubles on June 11, according to The Financial Times of June 20. The exchange director attributed the slump partly to the USSR Ministry of Finances' decision earlier this month to tax revenues from sales of hard currency. In an effort to limit demand for hard currency, the USSR Gosbank this month assumed powers to reject applications for valyuta to import cars, PCs, and other consumer durables. The exchange director is quoted as estimating that Soviet enterprises hold about $10 billion in hard currency. This would be freed if the ruble became convertible. (Keith Bush) CENTRAL BANK'S GOLD RESERVES REVEALED. An official of the USSR Gosbank told a Vienna conference on gold that the bank's gold reserves totalled 374.5 tons, worth about $4.4 billion, The Financial Times reported June 25. He declined to disclose the Soviet Union's total gold stocks, as this was still regarded as a commercial secret. It is thought that the USSR will be obliged to reveal details of its gold and monetary reserves if it is accorded associate membership in the IMF. (Keith Bush) DRACONIAN CUSTOMS LEVIES INSTITUTED. The RSFSR Supreme Soviet will consider the new customs duties that are due to take effect on July 1, Izvestia reported June 21. Some of the draconian rates on consumer goods imported by mail or brought in by Soviet tourists were cited by Komsomol'skaya pravda on June 15. They include rates of 100-400 rubles per kilogram of cigarettes, cigars, or tobacco, and 10,000-70,000 rubles for passenger cars. Since the days of the USSR Main Administration for State Customs are numbered, it is feared that these penal increases in customs duties may stay on the books. (Keith Bush) GORBACHEV DECREE ON MILITARY COUNCILS. On June 22 Gorbachev signed a decree defining the status of military councils within the Soviet armed forces, KGB troops, MVD troops, and Railroad forces. The decree describes military councils as permanently functioning collegial organs of the military-political leadership. Military Councils are to be composed of the relevant commander (chief), his first deputy commanders (chiefs), Chief of Staff and Head of the Political Directorate (dept.). More significantly, the decree calls for inclusion, by order of the president through the USSR Defense Council, of locally elected leaders, including leading Republican and regional officials. The councils are tasked with overseeing military activities in the region. (Stephen Foye) GOVERNMENT TO NEGOTIATE WITH EMPLOYERS' ASSOCIATIONS. The Soviet government has announced (Izvestia, June 17, 1991) that it will for the first time negotiate with employers' associations as well as the trade unions over the socio-economic aspects of the 1992 plan. Specifically mentioned is the League of Scientific and Industrial Associations of the USSR (Nauchno-promyshlennyi Soyuz SSSR) which, under its president Arkadii Vol'sky, celebrated its first birthday on June 16 and which models itself on the employers' associations of the developed industrialized nations. (Elizabeth Teague) EXECUTIVE STRUCTURE OF MOSCOW REVAMPED. The mayor of Moscow, Gavriil Popov, has issued instructions outlining a new administrative structure for the city. Moscow city council member Andrei Bondarenko told Radio Rossii on June 24 that a city duma, a city assembly, a mayoral department, an administrative affairs department, and a city government will be established. The city duma will study long-range questions and coordinate the work of the city with republican and national authorities. The city assembly will bring together city officials and members of "Democratic Russia," the city CPSU committee, and the city trade unions, as well as representatives of creative, ecological, religious, and a variety of other groups. The city government, which will replace the existing executive committee of the city council, will be headed by the mayor and will direct all economic activities; the chairman of the present executive committee, Yurii Luzhkov, will serve as premier. (Dawn Mann) BATTLE OVER TELEVISION CONTINUES. In the continuing battle over television, Mikhail Gorbachev issued a decree June 24, by which the outspoken Leningrad Television was made a branch of the All-Union State Television and Radio Company. Boris Petrov, formerly of the Leningrad TV and Radio Committee, was appointed deputy chief of the all-Union company. The news was announced in Leningrad on June 24 by the head of the all-Union Company, Leonid Kravchenko, the central and RSFSR media reported. Earlier this year, the Leningrad city Soviet in cooperation with employees of Leningrad TV adopted a decision to make Leningrad TV a share-holding company, a decision in effect annulled by Gorbachev's decree. "Radio Rossii" said Leningrad mayor Anatolii Sobchak strongly protested Gorbachev's decree. (Vera Tolz) SALVATION ARMY TO RETURN TO USSR. The head of the Salvation Army announced June 21 that the charitable Christian association hopes soon to reestablish its activities in the USSR. These ceased in 1924. General Eva Burrows said she will visit Leningrad July 6-7 to retake control of a building that the Salvation Army owned in the 1920s. The Army also hopes to become active in Moscow. (Elizabeth Teague) MINISTER DENIES MIG-31 SALE TO ISRAEL. Aircraft Industry Minister Apollon Systsov has denied Western reports that the Soviet Union offered to sell advanced MIG-31 fighters to Israel last week during the Paris Air Show, Reuter reported on June 24. His comments appeared in Izvestia on June 24. "The MIG-31 was demonstrated only as an example of Soviet scientific and manufacturing potential," Systsov said, "no other country has this aircraft and we are not offering it for sale." He called such reports "sheer fiction." Foreign Ministry spokesman Vitalyii Churkin has also denied Moscow's intentions to sell the weapons. (Stephen Foye) KOHL TO MEET GORBACHEV IN KIEV JULY 5. Chancellor Helmut Kohl will meet Gorbachev in Kiev on July 5, it was announced June 24. A German government spokesman said the two leaders had agreed on the date and site in a telephone call June 24. He said the talks in Kiev would last several hours. The date means they will take place after the European Community summit meeting in Luxembourg and ten days before the world economic summit conference in London, both of which are expected to discuss Western aid to the Soviet Union. (Mikhail Wall) FINNISH PRESIDENT IN MOSCOW. Finnish president Mauno Koivisto, at a dinner June 24 hosted by Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev, expressed concern about a sharp decline in Finnish-Soviet trade. Koivisto said political cooperation between the two states if "stable, good and substantive, but the situation in economic links "has been causing concern." Koivisto attributed the problems to the Soviet Union's internal economic troubles, but TASS said June 24 that the two leaders expressed confidence that the difficulties could be overcome. (Ann Sheehy) STANKEVICH TO BECOME RSFSR DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER ? Sergei Stankevich, first deputy chairman of the Moscow City Council, may soon be appointed RSFSR deputy foreign minister, RIA reported on June 24. Stankevich, an Ukrainian by nationality, was born in 1954 in Moscow. He holds a degree of candidate of historical sciences and is a specialist on the political system of the U.S. and Great Britain. Stankevich was a co-founder of the Interregional Group of People's Deputies--the first legal opposition in the Soviet parliament. In 1990, he became Gavriil Popov's first deputy in the Moscow City Council. Stankevich is a strong believer in social-democratic values. (Alexander Rahr) GERMAN AID TO THE USSR. An up-to-date and comprehensive listing of German outlays and commitments to the Soviet Union since 1989 is published in Die Zeit of June 21. Subsidies and free deliveries amount to 15.3 billion DM; credits and credit guarantees total 24.7 billion DM; and unpaid deliveries from the former DDR are put at 16.9 billion DM. The total adds up to 56.9 billion DM, or just over $30 billion. In March 1991, the article adds, the Russians asked for more: President Gorbachev wrote to Federal Chancellor Kohl with a request for further credits for the sum of 15 billion DM. (Keith Bush) USSR--IN THE REPUBLICS YELTSIN PLANS TO DISMANTLE CPSU APPARATUS IN RSFSR. The Tokyo newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun (June 21) quotes an unidentified official, described only as being close to RSFSR president-elect Boris Yeltsin, as saying that Yeltsin plans that his first act on assuming the RSFSR presidency on July 10 will be to outlaw CPSU organizations in the military, the KGB, and state-owned enterprises throughout the Russian Republic. If the military refuses to obey the decision, the official is quoted as saying, the RSFSR will withhold its contributions to the all-Union defense budget. (Elizabeth Teague) JOINT RSFSR-US MANAGEMENT TRAINING PROGRAM LAUNCHED. The first joint Russian-US faculty for training managers will open its doors to its first 50 students in the fall, Rossiiskaya gazeta reported June 20. Training will be at Irkutsk University in Siberia, under the joint auspices of Irkutsk University and the University of Maryland. Courses will be fee-paying but the RSFSR Council of Ministers is also giving the project financial support. (Elizabeth Teague) LENINGRAD INCREASES CONFRONTATION WITH CENTER. Leningrad mayor Anatolii Sobchak went to Moscow on June 24 to meet with the central Soviet authorities over a resolution of the USSR Cabinet of Ministers that stipulates that from 1992 on Leningrad will stop receiving any food supplies from all-Union stocks. Radio Rossii said that the resolution was one of the first responses of the central government to the victory of democratic forces in the June 12 elections of the RSFSR president and mayors of Moscow and Leningrad. (Vera Tolz) URAL MINERS END THEIR HUNGER STRIKE. TASS reported June 24 that the 90 miners at the Tsentralnaya Cooper Mine near Chelyabinsk in the Urals have ended the hunger strike which they began June 17 to protest to proposed closure of their mine. The agency said the miners agreed to end their underground protest after having talks with RSFSR people's deputy Gennadii Sereda and receiving promises that the USSR Ministry of Metallurgy would keep the mine open until the end of the year. (Elizabeth Teague) FIRST CONGRESS OF ORTHODOX YOUTH IN SIBERIA. TASS reported on June 21 from Novosibirsk that young men and girls had arrived in the ancient town Kolyvan' to participate in the first meeting of the Orthodox youth of Siberia. The young Orthodox believers plan to play a role in the religious revival of the country and to work for the restoration of the Aleksandr Nevskii cathedral which has recently been returned to the Church. (Oxana Antic) WEST UKRAINIAN OBLASTS PROTEST UNION TREATY DEBATE. As reported June 23 and 24 by Soviet and Ukrainian media, the Coordinating Council of Oblast' Soviets of Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv and Ternopil has forwarded a protest to the republican Supreme Soviet concerning the draft Union treaty. The West Ukrainian people's deputies assert that neither the examination nor the signing of the treaty at this time is appropriate, reminding the parliament that 90% of voters in the three oblasts pronounced in favor an independent Ukrainian state in a parallel March 17 referendum. (Kathy Mihalisko) CONGRESS OF UKRAINIAN NATIONALISTS. On June 24, for the first time in fifty years, adherents of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists held a congress in the homeland. Vremya, reporting from Lviv, said that all the speakers called on veterans of the Ukrainian nationalist movement to join forces and act so that the younger generation may inherit a free Ukraine. The congress was addressed by Yaroslava Stets'ko, head of the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations. (Kathy Mihalisko) KAZAKH SUPREME SOVIET APPROVES UNION TREATY. Kazakhstan president Nursultan Nazarbaev, presenting the latest draft of the Union treaty to the Kazakh Supreme Soviet June 24, said it was the "most democratic" so far, but he had a number of critical comments, TASS reported yesterday. He wanted the participants of the treaty to be confined only to republics directly forming the Union i.e. the present Union republics. The representation of the autonomous formations in the supreme soviet needed sorting out, he said. Nazarbaev objected further to the concept of "joint property" on the territory of the republics, and the mechanism proposed for exacting federal taxes. The supreme soviet approved the draft "on the whole" and set up a delegation headed by Nazarbaev to oversee final amendments. (Ann Sheehy) ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT CONDEMNS SOVIET ANNEXATION OF BESSARABIA AND NORTHERN BUKOVINA. Meeting in joint session June 24, the two chambers of the Romanian parliament adopted unanimously a resolution condemning and pronouncing null and void ab initio the secret protocol to the Nazi-Soviet pact of 1939 and the ensuing Soviet annexation of Bessarabia and northern Bukovina from Romania. Prepared by the parliament's joint commission for foreign affairs, the resolution described the Soviet occupation of Romanian territories as "brutal," "odious," "a naked aggression and diktat," and "a patent act of imperialist annexation". It described Bessarabia and northern Bukovina as "sacred Romanian lands," "Romanian since time immemorial," "limbs of the country's body," and parts of the "Romanian national unitary state within borders that were natural from the historical, ethnic, social, political, legal, and cultural points of view". (Vladimir Socor) NO CLAIM FOR BORDER REVISION. The resolution does not include demands for the revision of the Romanian-Soviet border and makes no reference to the Republic of Moldavia. The parliament "requests" Romania's president and government to undertake the "noble and uplifting mission" of assisting in "the fulfillment of the legitimate aspirations of the population of the forcibly annexed Romanian territories". It states that the Helsinki Final Act and the Paris Charter "create favorable preconditions for a peaceful removal of the consequences" of the Nazi-Soviet pact. The parliament's session was radiotelevised live. (Vladimir Socor) GERMAN NATIONAL RAION CREATED IN ALTAI. The Altai krai soviet has decided to create a German national raion in the krai, Radio Mayak reported June 24. The radio described the decision as the first concrete step towards solving the Soviet German problem in the USSR. It is hoped it will at least slow down the massive emigration of Germans. Three circumstances are said to have favored the creation of the raion in Altai krai rather than areas with higher concentrations of Germans: a scientific study of the question; local politicians ready to heed scholarly recommendations; and the decision to create a free economic zone in the Altai. The recent RSFSR decree on repressed peoples also played a role. (Ann Sheehy) BONN TO OPEN CONSULATE GENERAL IN ALMA-ATA. The German government plans to open a consulate in Alma-Ata this year. A German foreign office official said in an answer to a parliamentary question that it would be responsible for the Kazakh, Kirgiz, Uzbek, Tajik, and Turkmen republics and the Omsk, Novosibirsk and Altai areas of the RSFSR. The main concentrations of the Soviet German population are in Kazakhstan and the areas of southern Siberia to be covered by the new consulate. (Michael Wall/Ann Sheehy)
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