|...ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country. - John F. Kennedy|
No. 131, 12 July 1991
BALTIC STATES BALTIC LETTER TO BUSH. Baltic leaders sent a letter to US President George Bush requesting that the Baltic States be excluded from any US-USSR economic agreement, VOA's Lithuanian Service reported July 11. The letter, dated July 10 and signed by Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian Prime Ministers Gediminas Vagnorius, Ivars Godmanis, and Edgar Savisaar, warned the US that MFN status for the USSR without exclusion of the Baltic States could delay independence negotiations indefinitely, and might be construed as recognition of the BalticStates as part of the USSR. The Baltic leaders point out that the US granted MFN status to the Baltic States in the 1930s, and said they hope that those treaties can be reactivated in the near future. (Gytis Liulevicius) LITHUANIAN AND RSFSR PRIME MINISTERS MEET. On July 11 Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius talked with his RSFSR counterpart, Ivan Silaev, in Moscow. RSFSR First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Lobov and Lithuanian permanent representative in Moscow Egidijus Bickauskas also attended the meeting. In an interview with Radio Independent Lithuania that day, Bickauskas said that the meeting was important because the two premiers were able to get better acquainted and discuss their common problems with the center in instituting economic reforms. They discussed the need for mutually beneficial economic cooperation agreements between the republics and problems in their efforts to convert to a market economy. (Saulius Girnius) LITHUANIAN GOVERNMENT CREATES THREE NEW COUNCILS. Three newly-created government councils will "improve mutual understanding and harmony among citizens of Lithuania," according to Vagnorius, as quoted by TASS July 11. The government has created the Council on National Harmony and Culture, the Council on Economic and Social Reform, and the Council on the Fight Against Organized Crime and External Security. Vagnorius also asked the parliament to consider adding two more Ministers Without Portfolio to the cabinet--one to deal with regulation of internal affairs, and another to facilitate ties with the Lithuanian emigration. (Gytis Liulevicius) BORDER POSTS AT NARVA ELIMINATED. Local authorities in the Russian-dominated northeastern Estonian city of Narva on July 5 ordered Estonian border guards out of posts at the economic frontier and replaced them with local Russian policemen under city control, Paevaleht reported the next day. The move came after the Narva city council voted on July 2 to eliminate the economic border and the border authority on its territory. (Riina Kionka) NARVA INTERMOVEMENT MEETING RAINED OUT. An Intermovement rally called for the government's resignation in Narva on July 10, Rahva Haal reported the next day. The meeting, organized by a front organization known as Troops for the Defense of Public Order in Narva, called for giving northeastern Estonia special status, for eliminating the economic border, for compensations against price hikes, and for "nullification of laws limiting the rights of minorities." Pouring rain that began right after the first speech drove away all but about ten participants, Rahva Haal said. In its characteristically pro-Moscow fashion, however, TASS reported that "several thousands gathered at the meeting despite heavy showers." (Riina Kionka) ESTONIANS COME TO LATVIA TO BUY CHEAPER FOODSTUFFS. Estonians, as a consequence of the price hikes that became effective on July 1, are now coming to Latvia to purchase cheaper foodstuffs. Radio Riga and TASS of July 8 reported widespread dissatisfaction among Latvian farmers and consumers, who are urging the government to rectify the situation. As a first step they propose that restrictions be set on the purchase of foodstuffs at lower, state-set prices in Latvia by people who do not live in Latvia. (Dzintra Bungs) USSR--ALL-UNION TOPICS SHEVARDNADZE NAMED HEAD OF NEW MOVEMENT. On July 11, Eduard Shevardnadze was named chairman of the organizational committee of the Movement for Democratic Reforms. Interfax said that USSR presidential adviser Aleksandr Yakovlev, industrial leader Arkadii Vol'sky, and the chairman of the USSR Supreme Soviet Council of the Union, Ivan Laptev, were elected deputy chairmen of the committee. (Vera Tolz) CENTRAL CONTROL COMMISSION ATTACKS SHEVARDNADZE. The CPSU Central Control Commission issued a statement July 11 in response Shevardnadze's letter to the commission July 3 announcing his resignation from the CPSU. The CPSU CCC initiated a case against Shevardnadze after he proposed the creation of a new political party parallel to the CPSU. Shevardnadze refused to attend the commission's hearing on his case, calling it an "inquisitorial court." In its statement, cited by TASS, the commission alleged that, in contrast to rumors that it was planning to expel Shevardnadze from the CPSU, it just wanted to discuss with Shevardnadze his views on a possible new party. The statement charged that, in fact, Shevardnadze left the CPSU to avoid responsibility for the current crisis in the Party. (Vera Tolz) YOUNGER COMMUNISTS SUPPORT SHEVARDNADZE-YAKOVLEV GROUP. Vladimir Zyukin, first secretary of the USSR Komsomol, told Komsomol'skaya pravda July 6 that he supports the Movement for Democratic Reforms. Zyukin also quoted Aleksei Kovylev, Chairman of the USSR Committee of Youth Organizations, as having said that the CYO could become "a youth structure of the future movement." Meanwhile, Komsomol'skayapravda added, its editors have received a letter signed by nine members of various Party and Komsomol bodies, known to be young liberals, calling for support for the new Movement. (Julia Wishnevsky) USSR SUPREME SOVIET DISCUSSES UNION TREATY. On July 11 the USSR SupSov began its two-day discussion of the draft Union treaty in the presence of Gorbachev and the rest of the Soviet leadership, TASS and Western agencies reported the same day. In his hour long report, Chairman of the Council of Nationalities Rafik Nishanov called on the RSFSR and Ukraine to agree to federal taxes, and on the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet to speed up its examination of the draft. Nishanov was supported by Chairman of the legislative committee Yurii Kalmykov and member of the economic reform committee Aleksei Boiko in his contention that federal taxes were vital for the existence of a single state. The only parliamentary group unequivocally against the draft was "Soyuz." (Ann Sheehy) IS YELTSIN RELENTING ON FEDERAL TAXES? At a press conference in the USSR Cabinet of Ministers July 11, Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Shcherbakov said he detected a change in RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin's position on federal taxes, RSFSR TV reported July 11. Yeltsin was no longer rejecting the idea outright, according to Shcherbakov. (Ann Sheehy) SHARIN CRITICIZES DRAFT UNION TREATY. Leonid Sharin, Chairman of the Supreme Soviet Committee for Defense and Security, on July 11 complained that certain of his committee's recommendations on the Union treaty were not observed. He expressed particular dissatisfaction over what he said was the draft treaty's failure to emphasize that the armed forces must remain a unified organization. Violation of this principle, he said, would damage Soviet national defense, would raise questions at home and abroad concerning control of Soviet nuclear weaponry, and would undermine unified leadership of the defense complex as a whole. He said that his committee has made recommendations to alter sections of the current draft. (Stephen Foye) SOBCHAK CALLS FOR DISSOLUTION OF UNION PARLIAMENT. At a press conference in the Leningrad city soviet July 11, Leningrad mayor Anatolii Sobchak called for a campaign for the rapid dissolution of the Union parliament on the grounds that both the Congress and Supreme Soviet are, in his view, extremely reactionary and the majority of deputies only represent themselves, Radio Rossii reported July 11. Sobchak called on deputies voluntarily to surrender their mandates. He said it was clear that the present Supreme Soviet would only hamper the signing of the Union treaty and the adoption of a new constitution. (Ann Sheehy) MELLOR STURUA LEAVES CPSU. Izvestia's well-known foreign correspondent Mellor Sturua has left the CPSU, Radio Rossii reported July 11. He was quoted as saying that "the CPSU is now the main obstacle in the path of the country's development towards democracy and a market economy." In the pre-perestroika period Sturua was one of the paper's main political correspondents, who wrote articles highly critical of the West, especially of the United States. (Vera Tolz) "SOGLASIE" PRESS CONFERENCE. Fedor Burlatsky, one of the members of the coordinating council of the "Soglasie" group of people's deputies, told a press conference in Moscow July 11 that the best way to resolve and harmonize the divisive issues separating the center, the republics, and different nationalities and groups is on the basis of treaties and a new parliamentary political structure, Vremya reported the same day. "Soglasie" members, who are deputies serving at all levels, emphasized that their group does not require members to hold the same views on all subjects or place limits on their political activity. The group does support a Union formed on the basis of agreements with sovereign republics, destatization and privatization, and free enterprise with corresponding social protection. (Dawn Mann) ZHIRINOVSKY TO FORM CONSERVATIVE MOVEMENT. Conservatives are making new attempts to consolidate their positions to fight the Gorbachev-Yeltsin alliance. Vladimir Zhirinovsky told Novosti on July 10 that he is forming a "third force" around his Liberal-Democratic Party to challenge Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in next year's all-Union presidential elections. He said that at the beginning of August, a new powerful movement, combining the Liberal-Democratic Party, Soyuz, and similar organizations will be founded and joined by millions of people. Zhirinovsky stressed that the new movement will distance itself from Communists, and even more from democrats. (Alexander Rahr) PAVLOV AND THE APPEAL TO THE G-7. At a press conference on July 11, Soviet Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov said that specialists in both Union and republic offices were still working on the plan that Gorbachev will unveil at the G-7 meeting in London on the 17th. According to Western agency reports July 11, Pavlov also said, "There is no one strategic plan." Meanwhile, reports from Washington were that the White House had received a 23-page outline of Gorbachev's reform plan, and that preliminary reading suggested it was closer to the Yavlinsky-Allison plan than to the Pavlov-Shcherbakov anti-crisis program (Baltimore Sun July 12). Pavlov has been described in Moscow as a "loose cannon," but he is not firing randomly. (Philip Hanson) US-SOVIET TALKS. Foreign Minister Aleksandr Bessmertnykh arrived in Washington on July 11 for talks called on short notice to wrap up negotiations on the START treaty. Bessmertnykh described his meeting with President Bush as a "short but very intensive discussion," TASS reported July 11. Bessmertnykh noted, "we have all the instructions to finish the job [on the START treaty], and I hope the United States side has the same instructions." (Suzanne Crow) US ANGLES FOR AID CUT TO CUBA. US Assistant Secretary of State Bernard Aronson told a US House of Representatives panel on July 11 that Cuba faces no threat of attack from the United States and noted "it is difficult to understand why the Soviet Union continues to provide up to $1 billion in military aid to Cuba," Western agencies reported July 12. As Aronson noted, this statement was designed to "take away any additional excuses [Moscow has] to continue [providing] billions of dollars in aid to Cuba." "I hope he's taking notes," said Aronson, presumably referring to Gorbachev. (Suzanne Crow) CONSTITUTIONAL COMMITTEE CRITICIZES LAW ON POLICE. The USSR Committee for Constitutional Oversight has overruled two provisions of the new USSR Law on Militia adopted by the USSR SupSov earlier this year. The Committee ruled that, despite a provision in the law, militiamen should not, without a warrant, enter living quarters used by their owners as business enterprises. The Committee also ruled that neither the USSR Constitution nor the Principles on USSR Criminal and Administrative Laws entitle the militia to issue warnings stating, without a trial, that officials or individuals have committed an offense. Such privileges for police and KGB officers were included recently in a number of other laws--such as Gorbachev's decree on "economic sabotage" and the RSFSR Law on Militia--and have been criticized extensively in the media as violating basic human rights. (Julia Wishnevsky) CAMPAIGN FOR KRYUCHKOV'S RETIREMENT INTENSIFIED. Journalist Yurii Shchekochikhin has written a letter to Gorbachev charging that the USSR KGB was a prime mover and probably the initiator of the crackdown in Lithuania last January, which Shchekochikhin views as a plot by anti-Gorbachev forces. The letter, as reported by RSFSR TV July 11, calls on USSR KGB Chairman Vladimir Kryuchkov to retire and for changes in cadres at the top of the KGB. Shchekochikhin's appeal is based on his investigation published in Literaturnaya Gazeta, No. 28 (see Daily Report, July 10), according to which the storming of the Vilnius TV center was carried out by the KGB special task force "Alfa". An apparent campaign to distance Gorbachev from the KGB and for Kryuchkov's retirement has been intensified in the last month. It is possibly addressed to concerns about the feasibility of reforms in view of the KGB's undiminished power. The problem, however, hardly can be reduced to the personality of Kryuchkov, who never has been an independent political figure. (Victor Yasmann) SERVICEMEN'S WIVES BLOCK AIRBASE. Some 500 wives of Soviet soldiers staged a sit-in on the runaway of an airbase in eastern Germany to protest the impending transfer of their husbands to a nuclear test site in the Soviet Union, the Berliner Morgenpost reported on July 11. According to a Western account of the German report, the blockade at the Altes Lager airbase, south of Berlin, lasted from June 17-20. The husbands are reportedly scheduled to be transferred to a base near the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site in Kazakhstan. The German report said that a Soviet commander in Germany agreed to change the transfer, but failed to follow through on his offer. (Stephen Foye) MAKASHOV AIMS FOR SUFFICIENCY OF FOOD PRODUCTION. Commander of the Volga-Ural Military District and former RSFSR presidential candidate Colonel Al'bert Makashov has ordered gardens planted on bases and training grounds in order to alleviate food supply problems, TASS reported July 6. Makashov is disturbed that economic reform has disrupted the military's traditional food supply network, and that some garrisons have had to buy food "at criminal prices" in local markets. Soldiers will be urged to weed the gardens in their spare time and conscript labor, traditionally provided to local farmers, will now be done in exchange for food products. Land on the military bases is reported to be of equal or better quality for farming than that possessed by civilian farmers. (Stephen Foye) METALWORKERS TO HOLD DAY OF ACTION JULY 19. The official Trade Union Federation of Workers in Mining and Metallurgical Industries of the USSR has called for the action in response to what it sees as the crisis state of the industry, and the growth of social tension. The union also wants guaranteed employment under the transition to the market, and an end to pay restraint. The action is to consist of meetings and demonstrations. The union has not called for a strike. This is not the first action of its kind this year: the level of tension in this industry has been high since the beginning of the miners' strike in March, which heavily disrupted work in this field. (Sarah Ashwin) USSR--IN THE REPUBLICS RACE FOR RSFSR PARLIAMENTARY PRESIDENCY. Five candidates are competing for the post of chairman of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet today. Only one of them represents the conservative Communist wing--Sergei Baburin. The other four--Ruslan Khasbulatov, Vladimir Lukin, Sergei Shakhrai and Nikolai Arzhannikov--are reformists. In their programatic speeches, all candidates promised to ensure that the parliament would firmly control the RSFSR president's powers, TASS reported on July 11. Meanwhile, RSFSR Prime Minister Ivan Silaev has tendered his resignation, in accordance with the constitution. President Yeltsin is expected to announce a new candidate for that post in the next days. Silaev urged the deputies to elect Khasbulatov as head of parliament. (Alexander Rahr) YELTSIN ISSUES FIRST PRESIDENTIAL DECREE. Yeltsin has issued his first presidential decree, which demands higher salaries for employees in Russia's educational system as well as higher scholarships for students, according to TASS on July 11. In accordance with his proclaimed goal of a "revival of Russia," Yeltsin plans to complete a state program of educational development before the end of 1991 and send about 10,000 students and teachers for study abroad every year. (Alexander Rahr) DESTATIZATION OF SOVKHOZES. A short and cryptic item in Rossiiskaya gazeta of July 2 reports that the RSFSR Minister of Agriculture and Food has signed an order confirming the establishment of "people's enterprises" based on 12 Tyumen' sovkhozes. Two of the sovkhozes have already been turned over to their workers and employees who are henceforth "co-owners of the farms' property and will market their produce themselves." (Keith Bush) BASHKIRIA WANTS TO SIGN UNION TREATY INDEPENDENTLY OF RSFSR. Radio Rossii reported July 11 that the Bashkir parliament was following the lead of Tatarstan and refusing to sign the Union treaty as part of the RSFSR delegation. (Ann Sheehy) SITUATION AGAIN TENSE IN MAKHACHKALA. The situation in Makhachkala, where a state of emergency was lifted only a few days ago, has again become tense following the arrest in Moscow of a certain Khasbulatov, described as one of the organizers of an unsanctioned meeting of Muslims demanding a reduction in the cost of the pilgrimage to Mecca in mid-June, Moscow Radio reported July 10. The month's state of emergency was declared after the meeting turned violent. Supporters are demanding Khasbulatov's release or that he should be handed over to a jamaat--popular assembly. A large group of believers were prevented from holding a meeting on the central square of Makhachkala. (Ann Sheehy) MUFTI DISPUTES DISMISSAL REPORTS. Mufti Muhammad-Sadyk Mamayusupov, chairman of the Muslim Religious Board for Central Asia, told the RFE/RL Uzbek service on July 11 that he has not been ousted from the chairmanship, despite reports to the contrary from TASS, Interfax and Komosomol'skaya pravda. The mufti was reached at the headquarters of the religious board; he refused to comment on the charges that supposedly caused a council of imams to vote him out of his post, although, as a Muslim official in Moscow pointed out to TASS on July 9, they were not authorized to remove the head of the religious board. (Bess Brown) TURKMEN PRESIDENT ON TRIP TO ITALY. Turkmenistan's president Saparmurad Niyazov is rejoicing over business agreements concluded during his recent trip to Italy, the first visit abroad to be undertaken by a leader of the republic without the prior agreement of Moscow, according to TASS and Radio Mayak reports of July 11. The main agreements, with the construction firm TPL, involve the building of a cotton textile works at Ashkhabad and of a gas and chemical processing plant. Niyazov also signed an agreement for the purchase on credit of food and consumer goods. (Bess Brown) TURKMEN POPULAR FRONT LEADER RESENTENCED. A leader of the Turkmen Popular Front Agzybirlik told the RFE/RL Turkmen service on July 10 that the group's co-chairman Shiraly Nurmyradov has been sentenced to 18 months in prison on a fraud charge. He was initially sentenced on a similar charge last December. Agzybirlik claimed that the charge was trumped up and the republican Supreme Court overruled the conviction. So a new group of allegedly defrauded persons was produced; the Chardzhou city court reportedly ignored their written statements that Nurmyradov had not defrauded them. (Bess Brown) APPEAL TO HELP SYADOU. Belorussian journalist Valerii Syadou is still on hunger strike in a Minsk prison (see Daily Report, July 9). In a July 11 Radio Rossii broadcast, independent labor activist Mikhas' Sobol' called on concerned people to demand that Gorbachev and Yeltsin intervene on Syadou's behalf. Sobol' asserted that Syadou's case showed the high price paid for stabilization that was embodied in the 9-plus-1 agreement signed in April. (Syadou was imprisoned on May 7.) He accused Yeltsin, a 9-plus-1 signatory, of turning his back on Belorussia and its cynical regime. (Kathy Mihalisko) MOLDAVIAN LAW ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT. The Moldavian parliament adopted a law "On the bases of local government" on July 10, TASS reported the same day. The law envisages a radical change in the present system, creating several departments (uezdy) instead of the present 50 raions. The departments will be headed by prefects appointed by the president of the republic. A similar system has already been introduced in Georgia, where it has aroused protests, notably in Abkhazia. The Moldavian law also ran into resistance. The reorganization is likely to result in predominantly Gagauz raions being subsumed into larger units. (Ann Sheehy) PRIVATIZATION IN MOLDAVIA. Moldavia is reported to have passed its own privatization law. Shares in state assets may be sold at auction or exchanged for vouchers that will be issued freely to all Moldavian citizens. The vouchers are not convertible into cash, because of fears that this would lead to the republic's economy being taken over by so-called black marketeers. There was a debate about the claims of workers to decide whether their workplace should be privatized and to have priority claims on shares if it was. Some concessions were made in the form of special terms for worker share acquisition. (Izvestia July 5). (Philip Hanson)
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