|Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith. - Christopher Fry|
No. 121, 27 June 1991
BALTIC STATES OMON RAIDS VILNIUS TELEPHONE EXCHANGE. At 4:48 p.m. on June 26, about fifty OMON troops stormed the central telephone exchange in Vilnius, Radio Independent Lithuania reported that day. Telephone and telefax communications between Lithuania and the outside world were severed. Radio Independent Lithuania went off the air briefly, but resumed broadcasting from Kaunas. The heavily armed OMON troops withdrew from the building at 6:50 p.m. Normal telecommunications were restored in about two hours. OMON activity continued in Latvia as well--the customs office in the Riga railway station was raided at 10:10 p.m. (Gytis Liulevicius) CONTRADICTORY EXPLANATIONS. OMON commander Boleslav Mokutinovich said his troops' mission was to search the telephone exchange for weapons and ammunition allegedly stored there illegally, Radio Independent Lithuania reported June 27. According to Mokutinovich, a pistol and some cartridges were found in a ventilation shaft. Jonas Jagminas, the director of the exchange, said that any weapons found must have been planted as a provocation. A duty officer at the USSR Interior Ministry told the Lithuanian representation in Moscow that the OMON confiscated rifles, pistols, and explosives. Lithuanian Supreme Council Vice-Chairman Ceslovas Stankevicius called the attack a "rehearsal" for the overthrow of the Lithuanian government. (Gytis Liulevicius) LANDSBERGIS CONDEMNS ATTACK. Speaking after a meeting with French Prime Minister Edith Cresson in Paris on June 26, Lithuanian Supreme Council Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis condemned the OMON attack, citing it as proof of the Kremlin's "terrorist policies" against Lithuania, Radio Independent Lithuania reported June 27. Landsbergis said that the USSR is trying to provoke Lithuania into armed conflict. (Gytis Liulevicius) MOSCOW AGAINST INTERNATIONALIZATION. More details have come to light about the Soviet protest against the Council of Europe's committee hearing on the Baltic crisis today (June 27). According to the text of the protest, lodged two weeks ago by the Soviet Embassy in Paris, the USSR considers "unacceptable all attempts to internationalize the problem by involving [the USSR] in a discussion of the future status of the Baltic republics. We intend in the future to reject all such attempts categorically." Western diplomats attending the Council of Europe meeting in Helsinki made the major part of the protest text available to an RFE/RL correspondent on June 26. (Riina Kionka) POPULAR FRONTS GEAR UP. The three Baltic popular movements will mark the fifty-second anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in August with a torchlight procession from Vilnius through Riga and on to Tallinn, according to agency reports on June 26. Representatives of the Popular Fronts of Estonia and Latvia and Lithuania's Sajudis took the decision at a Riga meeting on June 26. (Riina Kionka) BUSH ON BALTIC STATES. In a report to Congress, US President George Bush expressed support for the Baltic peoples. The report, released on June 25, outlines US support for the Baltic States, emphasizing the diplomatic effort "designed both to help avert future violent confrontations in the Baltic States and to enable the Baltic peoples to realize their legitimate but long-denied aspirations." The report says US diplomacy has "played a critical role in galvanizing global support for the cause of the Baltic peoples." The report details expanded US contacts with the Baltic States: medical, agricultural, and technical assistance. (Gytis Liulevicius) USSR--ALL-UNION TOPICS DRAFT UNION TREATY. A text of the draft Union treaty was issued by TASS June 26; it appears to be identical to that published in Nezavisimaya gazeta on June 22. The latest draft states that the new Union is the successor state to the old Union as a subject of international law, which would seem to make the position of the republics not signing the treaty even more anomalous; that the adoption of the constitution is again the exclusive prerogative of the Union, and not a joint Union-republican matter, as in the March draft; that the armed forces may be used inside the country only to deal with natural disasters and as provided for in the legislation on a state of emergency; and that control of defense enterprises is a joint Union-republican matter. The article on federal taxes, one of the main sticking points, is virtually unchanged. The latest draft abolishes the Federation Council and proposes yet another, and probably unworkable, structure for the Supreme Soviet. (Ann Sheehy) MORE DETAILS OF YAVLINSKY PROGRAM. In an address delivered June 25 to the first all-Union conference on the promotion of entrepreneurship in Moscow, Grigorii Yavlinsky disclosed some more details of his "Window of Opportunity" program, Interfax reported that day. The program covers a five-year period, broken down into six-month stages. For each of these, detailed economic and political reform targets are set, together with coordinated Western responses. The massive inflow of Western goods is scheduled for the outset of the program only. Western aid would be in the form of credits, rather than grants, and would be tied to specific projects, such as conversion, ecology, and employment. (Keith Bush) SLOWDOWN IN TROOP WITHDRAWAL FROM GERMANY. General Matvei Burlakov, the commander of Soviet forces in Germany, announced on June 26 that the withdrawal of Soviet troops will be slowed, starting in July, and might also be temporarily suspended, Western agencies reported that day. The justification given was that Germany has not yet started to build the 36,000 apartments in the USSR for returning Soviet forces and their families. The statement added that Moscow still wants to withdraw its troops from Germany by the end of 1994 in line with treaty obligations. Bonn expressed surprise at the announcement, noting that construction of the housing had already begun. (Keith Bush) GERMANY SUMMONS SOVIET ENVOY. A German foreign ministry spokesman said on June26 the German government summoned Soviet ambassador Vladislav Terekhov that day. The foreign ministry said it pointed out that the German-Soviet transitional agreement related to troop withdrawal called on Germany to provide funding for but not to implement housing projects in the Soviet Union. Furthermore, the ministry pointed out that the Soviet-German agreements signed in 1990 contain no provisions for the synchronization of the Soviet troop withdrawal and the housing construction program, DPA reported June 26. (Suzanne Crow) NATO CONCERNED ABOUT SOVIET HIGH COMMAND. Sources within NATO are concerned that top Soviet generals, embittered by Moscow's loss of power in Eastern Europe, are starting to cut back contacts with the West and to speak increasingly in hard-line terms, Reuter reported on June 27. One source said that the General Staff is no longer "being open" with Western officials, and that it has also closed itself off from the rest of Soviet society. The NATO sources pointed especially to a very harsh article authored by former Warsaw Pact Chief of Staff Vladimir Lobov that was published in issue No. 2 of Voennaya mysl' this year. In it, Lobov renounced the CFE treaty and demanded qualitative military superiority over the West. (Stephen Foye) GORBACHEV TO REQUEST NATO INVITATION. US and Western sources say the Soviet President is likely to request an invitation to attend the November NATO meeting in Rome, The Washington Times reported on June 26. Bush Administration and NATO officials said that they would oppose neither Gorbachev's attending, nor his addressing, the meeting. They cautioned, however, that the Kremlin has yet to make a formal request. The report suggested Gorbachev might use the November meeting to promise substantial cuts in arms and arms production--a policy that could further alienate the Soviet High Command but that would help him in gaining Western economic aid. (Stephen Foye) FOREIGN MINISTRY STATEMENT ON YUGO-SLAVIA. The USSR Foreign Ministry said in a statement published in Pravda on June 27 that the documents adopted by the Slovenian and Croatian parliaments "have not been recognized by the SFRY state bodies and cannot be regarded as promoting the resolution of Yugoslavia's complex problems." The MFA said "the Soviet Union continues to ad-vocate the unity and territorial integrity of Yugo-slavia, the inviolability of its borders (including internal borders) and the right of the peoples ofYugo-slavia to decide their own future. It also supports the federal structures of authority that are striving to preserve the Yugoslav state." (Suzanne Crow) SOVIET ARMY TO FACE "MAC ATTACK?" In a bizarre commentary on changing times, General Staff Chief Mikhail Moiseev met on June 24 with George Cohon, a top McDonald's executive, to discuss "the potential of supplying food services for some large military bases in the USSR," The Daily Telegraph and The Times reported on June 26. The Soviet general reportedly told TASS he was ready for "broad cooperation" with the American fast food chain. The Big Mac may be just what notoriously ill-fed Soviet conscripts need to supplement their standard diet, The Times suggested. (Stephen Foye) COMPENSATION FOR INVALID CARE. The USSR Cabinet of Ministers has adopted a decision on paying compensation to those caring for invalids, Radio Moscow-1 reported June 24. Able-bodied individuals who are looking after invalids of the first group, disabled children up to the age of 16, or elderly persons over the age of 80, will receive 60rubles a month to offset the April 2 retail price increases. (Keith Bush) RSFSR TV NEWS PROGRAM MORE POPULAR THAN "VREMYA." The flagship of RSFSR television, the news program "Vesti," is more popular than Central Television's main news show, "Vremya," a recent opinion poll conducted by the All-Union Center of the Study of Public Opinion demonstrates. According to "Radio Rossii," June26, the poll showed that 57% of those questioned prefer the RSFSR TV newscasts, while 43% still stick to "Vremya." (Vera Tolz) GORBACHEV HOLDS TALKS WITH MAXWELL. Mikhail Gorbachev held talks in Moscow on June26 with British media tycoon Robert Maxwell. TASS said discussions focused on matters regarding the media and the Soviet economy. No further details were given. (Vera Tolz) MERGER OF DEMOCRATS WITH REFORMIST COMMUNISTS. The press conference which, according to Russian Television of June 25, was to have been held on June 26 to announce the departure of Aleksandr Yakovlev and Eduard Shevardnadze from the CPSU, did not take place. When it contacted Yakovlev's office on June 25, Russian TV's "Vesti" was told that he was in hospital. On 26, however, "Vesti" quoted Arkadii Murashev and Garry Kasparov as insisting there is still a real possibility of a merger between the reformist wing of the CPSU and the RSFSR democratic movement. "Vesti" also reported mounting discontent within the Russian Communist Party over the policies of its conservative leader Ivan Polozkov. "Vesti" said demands for his ouster are increasing. (Vera Tolz) NEW GROUP WITHIN DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT TO BE CREATED. A conference was held over the weekend in Moscow to discuss the creation of a new organization to be called the "Liberal-Conservative Union," AP reported June 26. Participants included leading members of the "Democratic Russia" movement--Yurii Afanas'ev, Garry Kasparov and Arkadii Murashev. The AP gave few details, but another "Democratic Russia" leader, Galina Starovoitova, revealed that radical members of "Democratic Russia" have for some time been considering setting up their own group, which would have a broader aim than merely supporting the policies of Boris Yeltsin. Starovoitova explained that, now that Yeltsin has been elected RSFSR president, he needs a "constructive opposition." The Liberal-Conservative Union may intend to play such a role. (Vera Tolz) DEPUTY BELOZERTSEV FILES SUIT AGAINST LUK'YANOV. A leader of the RSFSR democratic movement, USSR people's deputy Sergei Belozertsev, has filed a law suit against the chairman of the USSR Supreme Soviet Anatolii Luk'yanov, "Radio Rossii" reported June 26. Belozertsev is accusing Luk'yanov of abusing his powers and of harassing outspoken, pro-democratic deputies in the Soviet parliament. The radio quoted the Moscow city Soviet newspaper, Kuranty, as saying the court hearing of the case opened in the Moscow city court on June 26. (Vera Tolz) ASSOCIATION SET UP TO PREVENT "BRAIN DRAIN." The first international association has been set up in Moscow to prevent Soviet scientists and technicians from leaving the USSR for abroad, Radio "Mayak" reported June 26. The radio did not identify the Soviet and Western organizations sponsoring the new association, and was also vague about the concrete program of the new association. But it cited a representative of the association as saying his organization seeks contacts with Western firms who are interested in joint projects (especially industrial ones) with Soviet enterprises and institutes. There is a growing exodus of scientists from the Soviet Union at present. The Soviet government and the USSR Academy of Sciences appreciate its danger and are trying to work out policies to preventing the emigration of scientists and technicians. (Vera Tolz) USSR--IN THE REPUBLICS DISCUSSION OF DRAFT UNION TREATY INSUPREME SOVIETS. The Tajik, Kirgiz, and Azer-baijani Supreme Soviets approved the draft Union treaty on the whole June 26, Soviet media reported. Belorussia and Kazakhstan did so earlier. The RSFSR Supreme Soviet is due to discuss it June 27, "Radio Rossii" reported June 24, and the USSR SupSov in the first half of July, according to "Vremya" of June 25. The unofficial Russian news agency RIA reported June 26 that a session of the USSR Congress of People's Deputies has been called for August 27 to discuss the draft. While the draft does seem to be moving through the parliaments, there are still major points of disagreement, and it is obvious from the timetable above that the treaty will not be signed in July. (Ann Sheehy) YELTSIN COMMENTS ON UNION TREATY. RSFSR President-elect Boris Yeltsin told the RSFSR Supreme Soviet June 26 that several points in the new draft Union treaty remain to be resolved. Yeltsin said these include the division of powers between Moscow and the republics, taxation, and who the signatories to the treaty will be. It seems agreement has still not been reached whether the autonomous republics will sign the Union treaty individually or as parts of the Union republics to which they belong. (Elizabeth Teague) YELTSIN RECOUNTS HIS TRIP TO USA. Yeltsin went on to give the RSFSR Supreme Soviet an account of his recent visit to the USA, TASS reported June 26. Yeltsin said the most important result was that the Bush administration had agreed to establish independent ties with the Russian Federation. Stressing that a renewed Russia will have to convince its new partners that it wants to play a stabilizing role in world politics, Yeltsin said he does not want, in his foreign policy, to act in opposition to USSR president Mikhail Gorbachev. The RSFSR, he repeated, has no intention of asking the West for credits. Yeltsin urged the RSFSR parliament to adopt a law on foreign investment. (Alexander Rahr) UKRAINIAN "SOLIDARITY." Representatives of strike committees, "Rukh," and the Ukrainian Republican Party have formed a Ukrainian "Soli-darity," Radio Moscow reported June 26. The All-Ukrainian Organization of Solidarity of Workers is headed by Oleksandr Ivashenko, a Donetsk miner, and its consultative council by Stepan Khmara, who is currently on trial. The new organization's first step was to protest against Ukraine's entry into any kind of union until the attainment of complete state independence. (Roman Solchanyk) KRAVCHUK ON UNION TREATY. Chairman of the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet Leonid Kravchuk has raised serious objections to the draft Union treaty in an article in Trud, TASS reported June 26. Kravchuk argues that the draft posits the new Union as a sovereign state, which is unacceptable. In his view, the new formation should be a "state union." (Roman Solchanyk) UKRAINIAN PRESIDENCY UPDATE. Draft legislation on the institution of a presidency in Ukraine was approved June 26 by the republic's Supreme Soviet, Radio Kiev reported. The president would be the highest executive in Ukraine and the "guarantor of state sovereignty." The president and vice president would be chosen simultaneously by universal ballot, with a limit of two five-year terms in office. The draft legislation was opposed by both leaders of the Communist majority bloc in parliament, Oleksandr Moroz and Communist Party first secretary Stanislav Hurenko, who absented themselves during the discussion and voting. (Kathy Mihalisko) UKRAINE CLAIMS EXCLUSIVE TAXATION RIGHTS. The Ukrainian Supreme Soviet on June26 approved a bill claiming exclusive tax collection rights for the republic, according to TASS. The bill flies in the face of the provision in the draft Union treaty allowing for separate republican and all-Union taxes. (Kathy Mihalisko) IMPRISONED MINSK JOURNALIST APPEALS FOR HELP. Radio Liberty's Belorussian service learned June 25 that journalist Valerii Sedov has appealed to the US embassy in Moscow for help. Sedov was imprisoned May 7 without trial for his part in a November anticommunist rally in Minsk and faces up to five years in jail for "hooliganism." The letter protests conditions in his prison. In addition, the Belorussian Prosecutor's Office has circulated a letter asking that the republican Supreme Soviet strip Belorussian Popular Front Zyanon Paznayk of his deputy's immunity so that he can be charged with leading the demonstration in November. (Kathy Mihalisko) ADZHAR ELECTION RESULTS ANNOUNCED. The ruling Round Table/Free Georgia coalition won 47.5% of the vote in the June 23 Adzhar ASSR Supreme Soviet elections, Iberia News Agency announced June 26. The Adzharia bloc won 19.3% and the independent Georgian Communist Party won 17.6%. The elections had been postponed three times as a result of domestic tensions, specifically opposition to Georgian President Gamsakhurdia's proposal to hold a referendum on whether or not to preserve the republic's autonomous status within Georgia. (Liz Fuller) AZERBAIJAN SETS DATE FOR PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. The Azerbaijan Supreme Soviet June26 scheduled direct presidential elections for September 8. Ayaz Mutalibov, named president by the parliament in May, 1990, has announced that he will run as a candidate, TASS reported June 26. A spokesman for the Independent Azerbaijan Democratic Bloc told RL's Azerbaijani service that it would nominate a candidate only on condition that the state of emergency in Baku is lifted, that an independent non-communist commission be created to monitor political developments in Azerbaijan, and that an international commission oversee the actual election. (Liz Fuller) AMOCO JOINT VENTURE WITH AZERBAIJAN. AP and The Wall Street Journal reported June 26 that an AMOCO subsidiary has received permission for joint development of an offshore oil field in the Caspian Sea off Azerbaijan. A feasibility study is to be undertaken over the next 18 months. Exact details of the deal have still to be hammered out. Azerbaijan currently produces 2-5% of the entire Soviet oil production. (Liz Fuller) MOLDAVIA HOSTS CONFERENCE ON RIBBENTROP-MOLOTOV PACT. An inter-national conference on "The Ribbbentrop-Molotov Pact and its Consequences for Moldavia" opened in Kishinev June 26, sponsored by the Moldavian parliament and with the participation of Western and Eastern European scholars and parliamen-tarians. Moldavian parliament chairman Alexandru Mosanu told a press conference that Kishinev's decision to organize the conference came in response to Gorbachev's December 22, 1990, decree on normalizing the situation in Moldavia; that decree ordered Kishinev to rescind its appraisal of the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact and the ensuing Soviet annexation as illegal. (Vladimir Socor) MOLDAVIAN PRESIDENT CALLS FOR REMOVING PACT'S CONSEQUENCES. Addressing the opening session of the conference, Moldavian President Mircea Snegur said that a truly new, integrated and democratic Europe cannot exist until the consequences of the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact and of Stalinism are removed from the Baltic states and Moldavia. Snegur said Moldavia and the Baltic states had for the past 50 years been "excluded from international life" and "had an alien form of statehood, hostile to and incompatible with their civilizations," imposed on them by the USSR which "cut them off from the progress of mankind." The Baltic and Moldavian problems are not local but international problems, he said. (Vladimir Socor) USSR MILITARY OPPOSES REMOVAL OF LENIN FROM KISHINEV. Kishinev Mayor Nicolae Costin told Moldovapres June 26 that the planned relocation of the Lenin monument from Kishinev's central square was being resisted by the CPSU, the USSR MVD (which has detailed special troops to downtown Kishinev to guard the monument), and the command of the Southwestern military district. Costin said the district command "is putting pressure on the Moldavian authorities to give up their decision" to move the monument. The mayor has met with the district command to reassure them that the "conservative forces and all those who worship Lenin will have the opportunity to lay as many flowers as they wish at the monument" at its new location, in a park on the outskirts of Kishinev. (Vladimir Socor)
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