|The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them; that's the essence of inhumanity. - George Bernard Shaw|
No. 132, 15 July 1991
BALTIC STATES MERI LOBBIES LONDON. Estonia's Foreign Minister Lennart Meri is in London for a seven-day visit planned to coincide with the G-7 summit, an RFE/RL correspondent reported on July 14. The Estonian Foreign Ministry told RFE/RL that Meri hopes to meet with senior representatives of G-7 nations to "explain the position of the Baltic States towards Western financial aid to the Soviet Union." When asked whether he had seen the plan (for Western aid to the Soviet Union) which Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev intends to present to summiteers, Meri said: "I must admit that the government of Estonia was not on President Gorbachev's mailing list." Meri is set to give a press conference at the House of Commons today (July15). (Riina Kionka) DOLLAR WORTH MORE IN ESTONIA. Overwhelming demand for US dollars pushed the exchange rate to 75 rubles per dollar at the July 10 Estonian bank currency auction, Paevaleht reported the next day. Bank officials said later that the heightened demand was a result of valyuta buyers coming in from other parts of the Soviet Union, where the only legal means of buying hard currency is to attend the weekly USSR State Bank valyuta exchange, where one dollar buys about 50 rubles. Officials said that the Estonian Bank is the only bank within the Soviet economic zone where enterprises, regardless of their place of registration, can buy and sell valyuta freely. (Riina Kionka) CROSS IN VILNIUS BURNED. Early on July 12 a two-meter high wooden cross, erected on June 22 in Lukiskes Square (formerly Lenin Square) commemorating Lithuanians who died resisting Soviet occupation 50 years ago, was burned down, Radio Independent Lithuania reported that day. That same night unknown persons also tore down the Lithuanian flag and various signs from a hut containing hunger strikers protesting the seizure of the Vilnius TV center by Soviet troops on January13. A Soviet flag and the words "Glory to the CPSU" were painted on the hut. On July 13 Sajudis in Vilnius organized a rally at the hut, commemorating the six-month anniversary of the attack on the Vilnius television tower during which 14 Lithuanians were killed. (Saulius Girnius) APPEAL BY FORMER LITHUANIAN GULAG PRISONERS. In a letter to UN Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar, the Lithuanian Association of Former Political Prisoners called on the UN to place Lithuania on the General Assembly's agenda. Fifteen former Gulag prisoners signed the letter, received by the Lithuanian Information Center on July 10. The letter refers to the current situation in Lithuania as a "crucial moment in the existence of our nation," condemning continued Soviet intimidation as a "campaign of physical and cultural genocide in Lithuania." The former prisoners consider Lithuania "a country of long-standing culture and statehood," and appeal to the UN for support, which has not been forthcoming. (GytisLiulevicius) RESULTS OF LATEST POPULARITY POLL. The results of the latest public opinion poll in Lithuania showed that 83% of the residents of Lithuania support independence with only 4% against, Radio Vilnius reported on July 9. The most popular political figure was Supreme Council Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis, followed by deputy Eduardas Vilkas, and former Deputy Prime Minister Romualdas Ozolas. The most popular figure last year, Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party Chairman Algirdas Brazauskas, dropped to seventh place and former Deputy Prime Minister Kazimiera Prunskiene--to 14th place. (Saulius Girnius) NO SWIMMING AT JURMALA. Radio Riga and Diena reported July 10 that Latvian public health authorities were once again advising people against taking a swim in the Gulf of Riga, especially from the beaches of Jurmala. The reason for the ban is that the waters continue to be polluted. The pollution off the coast of Jurmala is made worse by the fact the effluent purification plant in Riga is still not functioning and that some untreated sewage is channelled into the Daugava River, which flows into the Gulf of Riga near Jurmala. (Dzintra Bungs) USSR--ALL-UNION TOPICS G-7 RUMORS: TO AID OR NOT TO AID? Reports over the weekend suggest that the G-7 nations will not support a large package of aid to the USSR. A stabilization fund to support the transition to ruble convertibility might get Western funding (Washington Post, July 15). That could total $10-15billion, but Soviet contributions would be sought. Spokesmen from several governments have described the Gorbachev letter outlining the Soviet reform program as too vague, and closer to the Pavlov than the Yavlinsky program, according to Western agencies July 15. Yavlinsky is said not to be attending the summit. Japan and the US are said to oppose any removal of the low ceiling on the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development's lending to the USSR. (Philip Hanson) PRIMAKOV ON SUMMIT REQUESTS. Amid the welter of speculation, exhortation, and random judgements in the global media on what Gorbachev will or will not ask for at the G-7 meeting, two pronouncements were of particular note. In an interview with The Sunday Independent on July 14, Evgenii Primakov indicated that Gorbachev would be asking for Western help for two specific projects. The first would be a stabilization fund to protect the value of the ruble as the currency moves towards full convertibility; here Primakov seemed to draw a parallel with the stabilization fund set up by the IMF for the Polish zloty--an umbrella fund that was not needed. The second would finance massive consumer goods imports while domestic prices were liberalized. (Keith Bush) START TREATY NEARLY CONCLUDED. After four days of talks (July 11-14), US Secretary of State James Baker and his Soviet counterpart Aleksandr Bessmertnykh settled more than a "half dozen questions" toward concluding the START treaty, including agreement on the exchange of telemetry data and on downloading warheads. Negotiators will attempt to settle the remaining issue--deciding what constitutes a new type of missile based on throwweight--prior to the meeting of the US and Soviet presidents in London on July 17, Western agencies reported July 15. (Suzanne Crow) USSR SUPSOV APPROVES DRAFT UNION TREATY. After a two-day debate, the USSR Supreme Soviet "supported in the main" the draft Union treaty by a vote of 307 in favor, 11 against, and 18 abstentions, TASS reported July 12. The Supreme Soviet appointed a delegation headed by Gorbachev to sign the treaty on behalf of the Union after appropriate amendments agreed with the republics. The delegation was instructed point out to republican Supreme Soviets the USSR SupSov's views that: the treaty should designate both the Union and autonomous republics as subjects of the federation; it should provide for Union property and federal taxes; neither the Union nor the republics should be entitled to suspend each others laws; both chambers of the future Supreme Soviet should be elected by direct vote; and the composition of the cabinet and other bodies should be approved by both chambers. Some or all of the Union republics oppose many of these points. (Ann Sheehy) USSR CONGRESS WILL NOT RATIFY UNION TREATY. An attempt by the influential "Soyuz" faction to have the treaty ratified by the USSR Congress of People's Deputies failed. Chairman of the USSR Supreme Soviet Anatolii Luk'yanov reiterated that the Congress had no right to do this since final agreement on the treaty was a matter for the republics. The resolution did, however, statethat the treaty should be signed at the Congress of People's Deputies. The Supreme Soviet also adopted an appeal to the six republics not participating in the treaty process to study the text and find ways of taking part in the creation of the new state. (AnnSheehy) SHCHERBAKOV AND THE SIX. At a Moscow press conference on July 11, Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Shcherbakov declared that trade between Moscow and the six republics opting out of the Union treaty should be conducted in hard currency as soon as possible, Western agencies reported that day. Unlike other, unnamed officials who had suggested January 1992 as the date for this to commence, Shcherbakov favored a switch as early as this October. (Keith Bush) GORBACHEV ON LAND OWNERSHIP. Speaking at a Kremlin news conference on July 12, Gorbachev again displayed hesitation on the crucial question of the private ownership of land. As reported by The New York Times July 13, he said: "I support transferring the land to private individuals with the right to inherit it, so a person would feel the master of his own land." He felt that the question of land ownership could be solved in different ways in the15 Soviet republics but that, sooner or later, "it is to be decided by the people." He apparently remains opposed to the individual sale and purchase of land in a free market. (Keith Bush) SUPREME SOVIET APPROVES INFORMATION MINISTER. The USSR Supreme Soviet has confirmed Mikhail Nenashev to fill the new post of USSR Minister of Information and Press, TASS reported July 12. He had headed the ministry's predecessor, the State Committee of the Press (Goskompechat'). Nenashev served as editor of the daily Sovietskaya Rossiya from 1978 to 1986, and also served briefly as state television chairman. (Vera Tolz) SUPSOV CALLS FOR END TO SECRET PRIVILEGES. After hearing revelations by its Committee on Privileges that former leading government officials had purchased state-owned dachas at rock-bottom prices, the USSR Supreme Soviet on July 12 approved a resolution aimed at ending secret privileges for top Communist Party and government leaders (Radio Rossii, July 12). The measure backs up an order by Gorbachev telling Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov to discover and punish guilty officials by July 25. Observers noted, however, that the Soviet parliament approved the new measure only after excluding from the text virtually all mention of the possibility that illegal privileges might be enjoyed by the parliamentarians themselves. (Elizabeth Teague) SOVIETS FAVOR CONFISCATION OF CPSU PROPERTY. Many Soviet citizens are angered by revelations that the CPSU accumulated great wealth during its time in power. The latest issue of Nezavisimaya gazeta said the last Communist chairman of the Moscow city Soviet, Valerii Saikin, gave 33 city buildings to the CPSU during his last few weeks in office. On July 12, a Western agency quoted Nikolai Kruchina, the CPSU CC administrator of affairs, as admitting that 2,000 of its 5,000 buildings the Party acquired wholly or partly with government funds. It was also reported that a group has been set up in Moscow to collect signatures on a petition calling for an all-Union referendum on confiscation of CPSU property. (Vera Tolz) ANDREEVA RALLIES BOLSHEVIKS. Nina Andreeva denounced "Gorbostroika," revisionism, and capitalist roaders at the all-Union conference of Bolsheviks on July 13-14 in Minsk. The gathering of some 500 true believers adopted a declaration on the formation of a CPSU Bolshevik Platform group and passed a motion of no confidence in General Secretary Gorbachev, according to TASS. Andreeva was elected head of a organizational committee tasked with garnering support for convening an extraordinary congress of the CPSU. (KathyMihalisko) ARMY PARTY COMMITTEE CONDEMNS "SPLIT." The bureau of the All-Army Party Committee has condemned the Movement for Democratic Reforms, according to reports appearing in Pravda and Sovetskaya Rossiya of July 12. The announcement by the Army's Party leadership said that the actions of the reform group would split the Communist Party and increase tension within Soviet society. The popular Afghan veteran and RSFSR Vice President-elect, Aleksandr Rutskoi, is among the leaders of the Movement for Democratic Reforms, and the army's Party leadership undoubtedly fears defections to the new group from among the officer corps. (Stephen Foye) 50% OF MOSCOW HIGHER EDUCATION STUDENTS WANT TO LEAVE USSR. A survey conducted by a social-analytical group of the Moscow Students' Fund, published in Komsomol'skaya pravda and reported by Novosti July 4, found that only 7.5% had no desire ever to go abroad. Of those polled who want to leave, however, only 9% would leave for good, while 35% said it would depend on circumstances. Motivations for travel were varied: 45% said they wanted to see the world but were prepared to return after this. The quality of life in the USSR was also an important factor, however: 31% mentioned their desire for greater material comfort, 20% the daily difficulties of Soviet life, and 21% their desire to receive a good education abroad. This survey therefore does little to banish the specter of a Soviet brain drain. (Sarah Ashwin) USSR--IN THE REPUBLICS RSFSR CONGRESS FAILED TO ELECT HEAD OF PARLIAMENT. The RSFSR Congress of People's Deputies will make a fourth attempt today (July 15) to elect a new chairman of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet. In the first three rounds, the candidate of the conservative Communist faction, Sergei Baburin, outpolled the candidate of the Democratic Russia faction, Ruslan Khasbulatov, but each time both failed to get an absolute majority of votes. Radio Rossii on July 14 commented that if democrats in the parliament were not split, Khasbulatov could receive the necessary 531 votes. The leader of the Democratic Party of Russia Nikolai Travkin, for example, openly spoke out against Khasbulatov at the Congress. (Alexander Rahr) SILAEV REAPPOINTED RSFSR PRIME MINISTER. RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin decided to go along with his Prime Minister Ivan Silaev and recommended him again for the top post. Silaev, once a deputy of USSR Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzhkov, switched sides last year and has since then become one of Yeltsin's closest associates. There was no significant opposition to Silaev in the parliament, and TASS on July 13 reported that the RSFSR Congress confirmed his reappointment as RSFSR Prime Minister. (Alexander Rahr) LAW ON RSFSR CONSTITUTIONAL COURT ADOPTED. The RSFSR Congress of People's Deputies adopted July 12 a law on the republican constitutional court. Unlike most judges in the USSR, those serving on the Constitutional Court would be appointed for life. The role of the RSFSR Constitutional judges will be crucial, since their verdicts will enable the RSFSR President to fire republican executives found by the court to be violating the RSFSR Constitution and laws. However, the judges are to be nominated by the Chairman of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet, not by the President; therefore, the law (written by members of Democratic Russia) may seriously backfire on its authors if the CPD elects a conservative as SupSov chairman. (Julia Wishnevsky) RUSSIAN REPUBLIC REFORM PLAN. Some details of the Russian Republic reform plan are given in the latest Kommersant (no. 26). The main architect of the plan is the 45-year-old economist Evgenii Saburov, who is RSFSR Deputy Education Minister. The plan covers the period to end-1993. It emphasizes privatization, with a strategy that adjusts over time to the population's response in terms of savings rates. Free privatization vouchers would be issued to the population, but shares would be sold preferentially to people offering money as well as vouchers; then 10-25% of the unsold shares would be offered to foreign investors. A financial squeeze is to be delayed until 1993--which looks disastrous. (Philip Hanson) LENINGRAD FREE ENTERPRISE ZONE BEGINS OPERATING. TASS reported July 10 that the Chairman of the Leningrad city soviet's Economic Reform Committee, Anatolii Chubais, announced that the Leningrad free enterprise zone has begun operations. The zone offers special tax and customs regimes, as well as special social amenities, and a system for hard currency repatriation (probably similar to the currency exchange now operating in Moscow). Leningrad has been aggressively pursuing joint ventures and other types of deals with foreign partners for some time. This announcement probably reflects the resolution of some lingering legislative questions at the city and republican levels. (John Tedstrom) STANKEVICH SUGGESTS CREATION OF INTERNATIONAL CENTERS. Deputy Chairman of the Moscow city soviet Sergei Stankevich favors the creation of international centers in the USSR to monitor the transition to a market economy. He said the centers should operate under the auspices of international financial organizations, be financed by the international community and consist of foreign managers and directors. Speaking at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London, as reported by an RFE/RL correspondent, Stankevich urged the West to support the republics and the private sector instead of the center but, at the same time, warned that a further weakening of the center could lead to a crisis like that in Yugoslavia. (Alexander Rahr) PEACE MISSION OF RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH. TASS reported on July 10 from Vladi-kavkaz that Metropolitan Gedeon of Stavropol' and Baku, who was visiting Vladikavkaz, the capital of North Ossetia, appealed to all believers in the North Caucasus region to keep the peace and fostermutual understanding. The metropolitan also asked Patriarch of All Georgia Iliya II "to use all of his authority" to stop the ongoing bloodshed in the area. (OxanaAntic) MASS DISTURBANCES IN KASHINO. One person of Caucasian nationality was killed and 20 people hospitalized, some with gunshot wounds, after clashes between the local population and Caucasians in Kashino in Tver' oblast at the end of June, Rabochaya tribuna reported July 6. Sixteen Caucasians and five local inhabitants were arrested. The trouble started when the Caucasians bought up large amounts of food and vodka. (AnnSheehy) TROOPS ATTACK ARMENIAN VILLAGES. The inhabitants of three Armenian villages in the Geranboy raion of Azerbaijan, which borders on the NKAO, were ordered July 13 by unidentified troops to leave their homes. Soviet troop units of the 23rd division of the Soviet 4th Army launched an attack on the villages the following day, according to Western news agencies (July 14 and 15). USSR KGB Chairman Vladimir Kryuchkov is quoted as having assured Armenian Supreme Soviet Chairman Levon Ter-Petrossyan that the situation in the region is quiet. Azerbaijani KGB chief Vagif Guseinov has claimed that Interior Ministry troops have been deployed to protect the Armenians. (Liz Fuller) UKRAINE TO SLASH ALL-UNION CONTRIBUTION TO 20 BILLION RUBLES? In a Western agency interview July 14, Ukrainian Supreme Soviet Chairman Leonid Kravchuk affirmed that "Ukraine should pay 20 billion rubles for maintenance" into central government coffers. The republic's total payments at present are said to amount to some 100 billion rubles. Kravchuk, who is increasingly in the news thanks to his resolute stand on the draft Union treaty, made the revealing disclosure that his devotion to sovereignty can be dated to 1989 (when he was ideological secretary for the Ukrainian CP), when he saw that the Communist Party was falling apart and had to be saved. Kravchuk concluded that only sovereignty for the Party would save it, and that Party sovereignty could not be achieved without state sovereignty. (Natalie Melnyczuk/Kathy Mihalisko) CANADIAN AMBASSADOR HOLDS TALKS IN UKRAINE. In an interview on Radio Kiev July 11, Canadian Ambassador Michael Bell stated that the goal of the meetings he is attending in and Ukraine. The joint projects would involve specialists in the fields of economics, finance and infrastructure development. Canada is home to many people of Ukrainian descent, and it is likely that relations between the two countries will continue to develop. (Natalie Melnyczuk) BOLSHEVIKS ARE PICKETED. Belorussian Popular Front activists and leaders of noncommunist political parties carried signs reading "Stalinists Get Out of Minsk!" in a picket of the Oblast' Party committee building where the Bolshevik Platform met (see above). In an interview July 13 with Radio Rossii, Mikhas' Tkachou, a prominent Belorussian Social Democrat, said that in allowing the Stalinists to hold a conference, the Central Committee of the Belorussian CP had "covered our . . . guiltless Belorussia in shame." Radio Rossii correspondent Leonid Sviridov signed off his report with the words, "from Belorussia, the last bastion of Bolshevism in Eastern Europe." (Kathy Mihalisko) NAZARBAEV IN CHINA. On July 13, TASS reported that during Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev's visit to China, he met with the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, Jiang Zemin, as well as with government leaders. From his quoted remarks about the development of economic ties between China and the USSR, it appeared that Nazarbaev had concentrated on relations between the two countries rather than on relations between Kazakhstan and the PRC. (Bess Brown) ALTERNATIVE SERVICE IN MOLDAVIA. On July10, the Moldavian legislature passed an alternative military service law, effective immediately, "for religious, pacifist, and political" convictions, TASS reported. Alternative service would include firefighting and guard duty, environment related activities, social and health services, and construction, repair, and agricultural work, with a 2-year term of service (1 year for university graduates) and spring and fall inductions. Except in extreme circumstances, alternative service will be performed within the republic. In contrast, a USSR Defense Ministry proposal calls for a 3-year term of alternative service to be conducted at "national economic sites" anywhere in the country. (Stephen Foye) STORM DAMAGE IN MOLDAVIA. The Moldavian parliament was told July 10 that ten people died and fifteen are missing as a result of the torrential downpour on the night of July 4-5, Novosti reported the same day. More than a quarter million hectares of agricultural land were put out of action, on half of which the crops, orchards, and vineyards were completely wiped out. In the opinion of a number of specialists the damage exceeds the republic's annual budget. The large and small rivers are under threat of pollution because mounds of toxic chemicals, pesticides, and fertilizers were washed into them. (Ann Sheehy) [As of 1300 CET] Compiled by Patrick Moore and Sallie Wise (END)
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