|The person who knows how to laugh at himself will never cease to be amused. - Shirley MacLaine|
No. 128, 09 July 1991
BALTIC STATES SPECIAL BORDER FORCE FOR ESTONIA. Estonia will create a special armed police force to protect its borders, Baltfax reported on July 6. The border force will be subordinated to the Police Department and will work in cooperation with the Border Protection Department. Until October 1, when the new force will begin working, Estonia's border guards will continue use "passive resistance" against attacks. The new force was created after a series of OMON attacks on Baltic borders. Baltfax quotes Prime Minister Edgar Savisaar as saying that "sooner or later we will fight the OMON." (Riina Kionka) OMON BEHIND RECENT ATTACK ON LATVIAN CUSTOMS POST. RSFSR TV's Vesti of July 8 identified the attackers of the customs post at the Riga airport as members of the OMON based in the Latvian capital. This latest assault on a Latvian customs post took place on July 8 at 9:50 a.m. It appears that OMON units have been behind all of the attacks on Latvian customs posts. (Dzintra Bungs) US NOW HOSTING LITHUANIA AT GENEVA CONFERENCE. In an interview with RFE/RL's Lithuanian Service on July 9, Lithuanian Deputy Foreign Minister Valdemaras Katkus said that as of July 8, the US delegation had taken over from Denmark the role of hosting the Lithuanian delegation at the Geneva Minorities Conference for the upcoming week. At the July 8 session, US delegation head Max Kampelman said that Lithuania and the other Baltic republics could serve as an example of how countries, even under extreme circumstances, could pursue a positive policy of solving the problems of their minorities. (Saulius Girnius) RIGA COMMERCIAL BANK SUSPENDS SOME HARD CURRENCY PURCHASES. According to Baltfax of July 5, the Riga Commercial Bank has suspended the purchase of hard currency, except US dollars, until July 15. The reason for this decision is not clear, but the Baltfax correspondent noted that people in Latvia were now more inclined to sell foreign currency than to purchase it. The Baltfax dispatch did not mention if a similar decision had been made by other money exchange offices operating in Riga and purchasing hard currency at commercial rates. (Dzintra Bungs) TALLINN-FRANKFURT FLIGHT BEGINS. The Soviet airline Aeroflot is inaugurating a new weekly non-stop service to Frankfurt from Tallinn, Western agencies reported on July 7. Estonia's Minister of Transportation Tiit Vahi called the move "a big step in the direction of Europe." (Riina Kionka) BALTIC PARTICIPATION IN OLYMPICS. On July 8 Director-General of the International Olympic Committee Francois Carrard met representatives of the unofficial Olympic committees of the Baltic republics at the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Western agencies reported that day. Carrard advised the Balts to "get together with the Soviet National Olympic Committee to find a solution which can be agreeable to both sides." He said that although the IOC would not recognize the Baltic Olympic Committees until their republics achieved political independence, the IOC would "certainly do our best to help" assure that Baltic athletes participate in the games. Lithuanian Olympic Committee President Arturas Poviliunas told reporters that Lithuanian athletes unable to represent their own republic might seek to participate under the flag of the IOC. (Saulius Girnius) ELTA-PAP AGREEMENT SIGNED. The Lithuanian news agency ELTA signed an agreement with its Polish counterpart PAP on July 8, Radio Independent Lithuania reported that day. The agreement will facilitate cooperation between the two agencies through a regular exchange of correspondents in Vilnius and Warsaw. ELTA depended on PAP information during the economic blockade imposed on Lithuania by the USSR last year, and the agreement formalizes ties that have been steadily expanding since 1988. (Gytis Liulevicius) SWEDISH GROUP PROTESTS TO UN. In a letter to UN Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar, the Committee on Cooperation with the Baltic States protested the UN's unwillingness to discuss the Baltic question, as if it were an internal affair of the USSR. According to ELTA July 8, the Sweden-based group's letter pointed to plebiscites carried out in the Baltic States as evidence of popular support for independence, and reminded the UN of treaties signed by the USSR with the Baltic States in 1920 in which the USSR recognized Baltic independence for all time. Since then, the group says, the USSR has consistently violated its obligations under the treaties, resulting in a situation which the UN cannot afford to ignore. (Gytis Liulevicius) USSR--ALL-UNION TOPICS SOVIET G-7 UPDATE. Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev won backing on his approach to the G-7 summit from the nine republics which intend to sign the new Union treaty, according to TASS and Western reports July 8. Although details on the agreement between Gorbachev and the republics are sketchy, a theme of independent republics cooperating within the context of the new Union treaty is key. The agreement will allow Gorbachev to show that the USSR is not disintegrating to a degree that would make aid to the center ill-advised. Gorbachev intends to talk in terms of reform concepts in London, not specific, concrete reform plans. (John Tedstrom) YELTSIN ON GORBACHEV'S TRIP TO LONDON. RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin told Vremya on July8 that the leaders of the nine republics willing to join the union provided Gorbachev at the latest follow-up meeting in Novo-Ogarevo with their own option for the G-7 talks in London. Yeltsin dismissed concerns that Gorbachev would simply ask for handouts from the West. He stated that Gorbachev will first of all explain to Western leaders the new political arrangement between the center and the republics, and then discuss some general programs which could be carried out with the G-7 countries. (Alexander Rahr) JAPAN HAS DOUBTS ABOUT SOVIET REFORM. On July 8, Japanese officials in Tokyo and Washington expressed doubts about the USSR's reform efforts and the advisability of extending large amounts of aid to the USSR, TASS and Western agencies reported yesterday. In Tokyo, Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu said that there is confusion over which reform plan (Pavlov's, Yavlinski's, Gorbachev's) is the one that will drive reform in the future. Kaifu seemed to play down the importance of the dispute over the Kurile islands, but other Japanese officials said that the islands were still a major stumbling block. Japanese officials also cited their belief that while Soviet foreign policy towards Europe and the West has improved, the USSR has strengthened its military capabilities in Asia. For the time being, Japan will continue to provide technical assistance to the USSR, but is not expected to help with large financial aid programs. (John Tedstrom) MUSCOVITES UNSURE ABOUT G-7 TRIP. A recent opinion survey of 300 Muscovites indicated that 22% of them viewed Gorbachev's trip to London positively, while 17% were opposed to it, Novosti reported July 4. Some 19% of the Muscovites polled were neutral and 42% could not decide whether the trip was a good idea or not. One-sixth of the respondents admitted that the poll question was the first time they had heard about the trip. (JohnTedstrom) SOVIET FACTORIES FACE BANKRUPTCY. The USSR Supreme Soviet on July 8 passed in the first reading a draft law on bankruptcy, and in doing so moved the Soviet economic system another step closer to the market. TASS reported July 8 that the draft law was passed 343 to 5, with 9 abstentions. Soviet Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Shcherbakov spoke out strongly in favor of the draft. The law should take effect in the fourth quarter of 1991. Bankruptcy will be defined as the failure to meet debt payments for three consecutive months, and Soviet enterprises could start claiming bankruptcy in early 1992. (John Tedstrom) SOME LIKELY RESULTS. Until now, Soviet enterprises that were not able to make ends meet were bailed out by the state. That will likely remain the case once the new law is passed for most enterprises which sell their goods with fixed prices and subject to state orders. Still, Soviet experts expect that in 1992 alone some 13% of Soviet enterprises will go bankrupt. That could reduce industrial output by 3-5%. Once a court declares an enterprise bankrupt, its assets will be sold with the revenues going to creditors to pay off debt. Any remaining revenues will be distributed to the enterprise's employees. (John Tedstrom) LATEST DATA ON BUDGET DEFICIT. The deficit in the union budget for the first five months of 1991 has reached 39.1 billion rubles, according to preliminary data released by the USSR Ministry of Finance and reported by Interfax July 5. The annual deficit is now projected at about 140 billion rubles. This confirms the figure given by Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov to the USSR Supreme Soviet last month (CTV, June 19) and Shcherbakov's statement of July 5 (given to Radio Mayak), although official projections of the anticipated annual deficit have varied widely, with some estimates going as high as 300 billion rubles. Nobody knows for sure, as the deficit will depend, inter alia, on the depth of the recession and on the degree of revenue withholding by republics. (Keith Bush) CONSTITUTIONAL COMMITTEE APPROVES DRAFT UNION TREATY. The USSR Committee for Constitutional Oversight on July 8 released to USSR Supreme Soviet deputies its conclusion that the draft Union treaty does not contain any violations of the USSR constitution or of republic constitutions. TASS July 8 quoted the Committee's ruling as saying that the draft as a whole merits approval. However, TASS added, the Committee stressed the necessity of clarifying certain legal aspects of the draft treaty, particularly contradictions with regard to Union and republic sovereignty. It also recommended that the USSR constitution of 1977 and republic constitutions remain in force, to the extent that they do not contradict the Union treaty, until a new constitution is adopted. (Sallie Wise) MEMBERS OF "KISHINEV FORUM" MEET. Representatives of political parties and popular fronts of the six republics that do not want to sign the Union treaty met in Tbilisi last week, Novosti reported July 7. Earlier this year, the six set up an umbrella organization called the "Kishinev forum." At the Tbilisi meeting, the forum adopted several documents, the most important of which stated that the six republics should not use the USSR to represent their interests in the international arena, especially at the UN. As long as the six republics lack their own representation in international organizations, they should act through other countries, but not the Soviet Union, the document stated. The forum also appealed to Gorbachev not to use force against those republics that want to be independent of the Union. (Vera Tolz) SUPREME SOVIET ADVANCES REHABILITATION LAW. The USSR Supreme Soviet approved July 8 in the first reading a bill aimed at rehabilitating victims of political repression and at restoring their rights, TASS reported. The bill establishes a simplified procedure for rehabilitation of those repressed without guilt in the period between 1920 and 1988. (In 1989 articles under which dissidents had been charged were dropped from the USSR's republican criminal codes.) According to the bill, those rehabilitated or their relatives will be issued an official certificate that will serve as legal tender for the restoration of their rights and possible material compensation. TASS said the government is expected to spend up to 1.5 billion rubles a year on compensation to victims of repression. (Vera Tolz) BONNER CRITICIZES NEW MOVEMENT. Elena Bonner, human rights activist and widow of Andrei Sakharov, has criticized the new Movement forDemocratic Reforms. In an interview with RFE/RL July 8, Bonner said the new movement is merely an attempt to save Gorbachev and is mainly aimed at impressing the West. She said none of the founders of the new organization has taken part in the USSR's democratic movement, but instead constitute an elite group close to Gorbachev and Yeltsin. (In fact, at least two founding members of the Movement for Democratic Reforms, Popov and Sobchak, have been active members of democratic organizations set up in the course of perestroika.) (Vera Tolz) CPSU CONSERVATIVES WANT SHENIN TO REPLACE GORBACHEV. The ultra-conservative movement "Communist Initiative" has demanded the convening of an extraordinary CPSU Congress in order to remove Gorbachev as General Secretary and oust him from the CPSU, according to Infonovosti on July 8, quoting Kommersant. The newspaper reported in its latest issue that conservative Communists want to replace Gorbachev with Politburo member and CC CPSU secretary for cadres Oleg Shenin. Another candidate is Novosibirsk Party chief Vladimir Mindolin. The issue could be brought up at the forthcoming CPSU CC plenum at which Gorbachev will give an account of his trip to the G-7 meeting in London. (Alexander Rahr) KHASBULATOV: YELTSIN WAS RIGHT TO CALL FOR GORBACHEV TO QUIT. RSFSR Supreme Soviet First Deputy Chairman Ruslan Khasbulatov said in an interview on Radio Rossii July 8 that he first objected to Yeltsin's call for Gorbachev's resignation as USSR President last February, but later realized that Yeltsin's strategy was right. Khasbulatov stressed that only after that blunt attack on Gorbachev, the population understood how seriously the central administrative structures had blocked decisions of the RSFSR government. He also stated that he had favored the creation of a democratic Communist party, which would act parallel to the CPSU, long before Rutskoi formed his "Communists for Democracy" group. (Alexander Rahr) ROY MEDVEDEV CALLS FOR GORBACHEV'S RESIGNATION. Interviewed in La Stampa on July3, the former dissident historian Roy Medvedev said Gorbachev is now so unpopular that it is time he left office. "Nobody defends him any more," Medvedev said, "not even in the Politburo. They want him to go. I think it would be best for him to resign. He could remain President, albeit not for long. At most until the end of the year, that is, until the Union treaty is signed." Medvedev predicted that Gorbachev would return from London empty-handed and "humiliated" and that there would be a move to replace him, as a purely interim measure, by the present deputy general secretary, Vladimir Ivashko. (Elizabeth Teague) "THERE WILL BE NO PARTY SPLIT." Medvedev dismissed rumors of an impending split in the CPSU. "There will be no split, for one simple reason. The Party ceased some time ago to be a party in an ideological sense. It is a machine that distributes privileges and pure power. The membership understands that, if they Party splits, they will lose this power... A few million members may leave, but the majority will remain." The Party has been losing members steadily over the past two years and at present claims 16 million members. (Elizabeth Teague) SHAKHNAZAROV ON FUTURE OF CPSU. Interviewed in Corriere della Sera on June 29, Gorbachev's aide Georgii Shakhnazarov downplayed the importance to the future development of the CPSU of the new Movement for Democratic Reforms, saying the trump cards remain in Gorbachev's hands. The CPSU, Shakhnazarov said, consists of a conservative wing, supported by about 15% of the members; this is cancelled out by the liberal wing with the support of 15-20%. "The vast majority of the members have not yet decided," Shakhnazarov said. "The tradition in our country is such that the role of Party leader is very important." The majority of Party members would take their cue from Gorbachev, he predicted. (Elizabeth Teague) CPSU CONGRESS IN THE FALL? Shakhnazarov predicted a Party Congress in the fall. This may not necessarily be an extraordinary congress for, Shakhnazarov revealed, the Party leadership is seriously considering a return to the practice of Lenin's time, when Party Congresses were held annually. Repeating his conviction that the CPSU will eventually abandon the name "Communist" and return to its old name of "Social Democratic," Shakhnazarov acknowledged that such a step would be very controversial among members; he said it will probably be necessary to hold a Party-wide referendum on the subject. (Elizabeth Teague) CHURKIN DENIES SHIFT ON POLISH TREATY. Soviet Foreign Ministry spokesman Vitalii Churkin said on July 8 that Polish and Western press reports that the Soviet Union had dropped its insistence on including a security clause in the Soviet-Polish treaty currently being negotiated were false (see Daily Report, July 5.) "No message from Mikhail Gorbachev to Lech Walesa was conveyed in Prague," Churkin said. "Such types of provisions related to bilateral treaties are also absent from the message to Czechoslovak President Vaclav Havel," TASS reported July 8. (Suzanne Crow) SOVIET-SPANISH TREATY. As part of the trip of Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez to the Soviet Union, the USSR and Spain will sign today (July 9) a treaty of friendship and cooperation -- the first treaty of its kind between the two countries. Gorbachev described the document as "a reliable link in the common European area" during his dinner speech of July 8. Churkin said the treaty "will place Spain in the first line of the Soviet Union's main partners in Europe," TASS reported July 8. (Suzanne Crow) SOVIET START TEAM TO WASHINGTON. The Soviet Union is sending a high-level delegation headed by Foreign Minister Aleksandr Bessmertnykh to Washington for talks on July 11 and 12. Bessmertnykh will be accompanied by Chief of the General Staff Mikhail Moiseev and Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Obukhov, Churkin said July 8, TASS reported that day. Meanwhile, US President George Bush has indicated that he is prepared to hold a US-Soviet summit at the end of July should work on the treaty be completed. (Suzanne Crow) NORTH KOREA TREATY HAILED. In observance of the 30th anniversary of the treaty of friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance with North Korea, TASS observer Sergei Afonin said on July 5 the treaty "answers the basic interests of both countries and serves the cause of peace and security on the Korean peninsula and in the Asia-Pacific region." A Radio Moscow commentary in Korean (July 5) also hailed the treaty saying, "this treaty is of great significance to Soviet history." Despite the establishment of relations with South Korea, the commentary said, "one of the priority tasks in Soviet foreign policy is to maintain and develop friendly relations with North Korea." (Suzanne Crow) JAPAN PROTESTS OVERFLIGHT. The Japanese Foreign Ministry lodged a strong protest on July 6 against a Soviet intrusion into Japanese airspace early on July 6. An AN-30 commercial craft overflew Japanese territorial waters some 18kilometers southeast of Nemuro (the eastern edge of Hokkaido). This is the first violation of Japan's airspace by the Soviet Union since April 21, 1989. (Suzanne Crow) IRAN TO BUY AIRCRAFT? Iran's air force commander, Brig. General Mansour Sattari, began a one-week visit in Moscow on July 7. Sattari is reportedly leading a high-ranking military delegation which will discuss with Soviet officials bilateral cooperation in aviation and aerospace projects, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported July 7. (Suzanne Crow) SERVICEMEN KILLED; SUICIDE IN GERMANY. Eight Soviet soldiers were killed and another five were wounded by two servicemen who had stolen submachineguns from a barracks in the RSFSR, Interfax reported on July 8. According to a Western wire service account, the two had attacked an Interior Ministry guard on July 6 in Yakutia, Siberia, and stolen the weapons. They reportedly escaped and have not been found. Meanwhile, police in Leipzig, Germany, said on July 8 that a twenty-year-old Soviet soldier named Saidula Rashapov committed suicide last week, apparently after having been mistreated by other soldiers. The police said that Rashapov left his barracks and set himself on fire in a Leipzig suburb. (Stephen Foye) MILITARY PROSECUTOR DEFENDS DEPART-MENT. The Main Military Prosecutor complained in Trud on June 19 that a presidential commission report on crime and violence in the army had unfairly maligned his office. Lieutenant General Aleksandr Katusev denied allegations that the Military Prosecutor's office has a poor record investigating and prosecuting crimes, and that it protects the interests of the officer corps. Instead, Katusev blamed shortcomings on incompetent officers, on the failure of local authorities to support his office, and on republican governments that he says encourage desertion and draft dodging. He called for passage of legislation to more clearly regulate military life. (Stephen Foye) "DEMOCRATIC UNION" LEADER WILL NOT REJECT KGB ACCUSATION. Valeria Novodvorskaya, arrested by the KGB on May 16 and accused of appealing for the "violent overthrow of the existing state regime," has stated through her lawyer that she will support the official imputation, RSFSR TV reported July 8. Her lawyer explained Novodvorskaya's position as her desire to prove the punative nature of the Soviet regime. The calls for violence attributed to Novodvorskaya appeared in a collective letter signed by twelve persons. RSFSR TV did not report the date of her court hearing. (Victor Yasmann) CHARISMATIC YOUTH MOVEMENT IN SOVIET UNION. Radio Rossii reported on July 7 about a meeting of the "Christian Youth International" in Moscow. This international youth movement is headed by American pastor Bob Veiner and is charismatic: they refute the division of Christianity into various faiths and also oppose any form of cult. (Oxana Antic) USSR--IN THE REPUBLICS POLOZKOV FACES COUP. Several regional Party secretaries have rebelled against RSFSR Party chief Ivan Polozkov, Kommersant (no. 26) reported. Led by Novosibirsk Party chief Mindolin, the regional Party secretaries accused Polozkov of being "too dependent" on the Kremlin. They also criticized him for failures in the RSFSR presi-dential campaign. Mindolin and others reportedly plan to oust Polozkov at the forthcoming plenum of the Russian CP on July 19. Possible successors to Polozkov are, according to Kommersant, the chairman of the Central Control Committee of the RSFSR CP Nikolai Stolyarov, member of the RSFSR CP CC Politburo Gennadii Zyuganov, and CPSU CC secretary Valentin Kuptsov. (Alexander Rahr) KRAVCHUK ON DRAFT UNION TREATY: NO GO. Ukrainian Supreme Soviet Chairman Leonid Kravchuk, according to Western agency reports July 8, said yesterday that his republic will not sign the Union treaty in its present draft form, stating that "we . . . would like a treaty that provides for a real union of sovereign states--not only in words." In even sharper terms, Ihor Yukhnovsky, leader of the radical Narodna rada faction in parliament, said that if Ukraine signs the current version of the treaty, the opposition will "mobilize the people." Yukhnovsky continued that disintegration of the Soviet state will take place with or without a Union treaty. (Natalie Melnyczuk) MORE TESTS AT SEMIPALATINSK BEFORE CLOSING IN 1992. Novosti reported July 4 that Kazakh President Nursltan Nazarbaev told journalists in Moscow that the Soviet government has promised to close the Semipalatinsk nuclear weapons test site on January 1, 1992, one year earlier than originally planned. However, he said, two more nuclear tests will likely be conducted at the site by the end of this year, but these will be the last tests to be held there. Nazarbaev claimed that the military leadership had insisted on the tests, despite the fact that the Kazakh Supreme Soviet has called for a halt to all further testing at Semipalatinsk, a position that he supports. The Defense Ministry has offered to pay Kazakhstan compensation for the two tests, but Nazarbaev characterized the offer as an insult to the Kazakh people. The issue of the test site is highly sensitive in the republic, and groups across the political spectrum have threatened to stage a massive sit-in to prevent a test scheduled for August. (Bess Brown and Stephen Foye) WESTERN CREDIT SHOULD GO DIRECT TO REPUBLICS. According to the July 8 issue of the German financial newspaper Handelsblatt, Nazarbaev told its Moscow correspondent that in his opinion Western financial credit should go directly to individual republics. The governments of the republics should assume responsibility for specific financial projects, said Nazarbaev. (Bess Brown)
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