|The fool wonders, the wise man asks. - Benjamin Disraeli|
No. 135, 18 July 1991
BALTIC STATES OMON ATTACKS CUSTOMS POST . . . Radio Riga reported on July 17 that four Black Berets (OMON troops) broke into the customs post at the Main Railroad Station in Riga on July 16 and confiscated documents. This was the second attack in recent weeks on the post. (Dzintra Bungs) AND POLICEMEN IN LATVIA. At a press conference on June 16, Latvian Minister of Internal Affairs Aloizs Vaznis told of another OMON assault a few days earlier: 12 armed Black Berets attacked two policemen unloading boxes of cartridges and took both the men and the cartridges to their base in Vecmilgravis. There the two policemen were interrogated by a Latvian SSR Procuracy official for six hours and roughed up by the Black Berets. Vaznis said that the MVD in Moscow was disregarding Latvian protests concerning OMON assaults and probably supports these efforts to destabilize the situation in Latvia and undermine efforts of the Latvian police to enforce the law, reported Radio Riga July 17. (Dzintra Bungs) SUSPICIOUS EXPLOSION IN RIGA. Yesterday (July 17) around noon a blast rocked the Republic of Latvia Prosecutor's Office at 91 Briviba Street. The explosives had been placed in a lavatory. One man, according to Radio Riga of July 17, was seriously injured and hospitalized. This is the first explosion to hit Riga after several months of relative quiet. There was a spate of mysterious blasts in Riga last winter and it is still not clear who was responsible for most of them. (Dzintra Bungs) VILNIUS GARRISON COMMAND DENIES PROVOCATION PLANS. In a statement reported by TASS on July 17, the command of the Soviet army garrison stationed in Vilnius denied having any plans for a provocation involving OMON units. The Lithuanian government had previously warned of plans for a provocation in which the OMON would clash with Soviet troops dressed as Lithuanian police. "No military actions whatsoever, including those of a provocational nature, with respect to the OMON, have been planned," the statement read. The garrison command condemned any reports to the contrary as "unprovable and false," and considered them an attempt to discredit Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev on the eve of his trip to London. (Gytis Liulevicius) KGB GENERAL CRITICIZES OMON, BLAMES BALTIC STATES. Lieutenant General Bruno Steinbrik, chief of the KGB Special Department of the Baltic Military District, told Sovetskaya Latvia of July 15 that the creation of custom posts by the Baltic States is a direct violation of all-Union laws. While OMON attacks on the customs posts also must be condemned, he said, one cannot fight lawlessness with lawlessness. In the final analysis, Steinbrik added, the OMON troops are not guilty, since they did not think up the attacks themselves. In June, former MVD Minister Vadim Bakatin made a similar statement, saying that both sides are engaged in illegal actions (see Daily Report, June 11). (Victor Yasmann) JOINT MILITARY COMMISSIONS IN THE BALTIC. Radio Vilnius reported on July 17 that General Staff Chief Mikhail Moiseev has sent a telegram to Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius that proposes the creation of joint commissions in the Baltic to manage civil-military tensions in the region. Moiseev reportedly has ordered commanders of the Baltic Military District and the Navy to work with republican and local governmental bodies in all three Baltic republics toward that end. Similar telegrams were sent to Latvian and Estonian leaders, the report said. (Stephen Foye) APPEAL TO LITHUANIAN POLITICAL PARTIES AND ORGANIZATIONS. The Presidium of the Lithuanian Supreme Council issued an appeal to political parties and organizations on July 17, Radio Independent Lithuania reported that day. The appeal warns that Lithuania is currently experiencing the most important and complex phase of restoring its statehood, a situation requiring close cooperation from all sides. It stated that "success in regaining independence and firmly establishing democracy will depend on our ability to find common ground with respect to reforms now in progress and the process of negotiations with the USSR." The appeal called on political parties to settle differences peacefully, and to avoid increasing tension. (Gytis Liulevicius) MORE CRIME IN ESTONIA. Estonia reported 35.7% more crime in the first half of this year compared to the same period last year, according to Paevaleht of July 14. Although there were fewer murders and attempted murders, manslaughter increased by 40.4% and rape by 16.1% already this year. Most of the increase in the crime rate is due to thefts. Overall thefts jumped by 50.6% while apartment robberies rose by 75.3%. The crime rate per 100,000 residents rose the most in the cities of Kohtla-Jarve, Narva and Tallinn, and in rural northeastern Estonia (Ida-Virumaa). (Riina Kionka) ALL QUIET ON THE EASTERN FRONT . . . There have been no further incidents at the Narva economic border post, according to reports from Tallinn. Two weeks ago, the Narva city council voted to eliminate the economic border post in the city center (Narva is separated by the Narva River from the RSFSR) and replace guards with local police. In response, Estonian border authorities set up their own interim border post on the Tallinn-Narva highway, outside Narva city limits and about 19 kilometers west of the border. Baltfax reported on July 15 that tension persists at the interim border post because self-appointed so-called "worker brigades" from Narva are maintaining a watch on the post. (Riina Kionka) BUT STALEMATE CONTINUES. Republic and local leaders failed to resolve the escalating Narva crisis at a July 16 Tallinn meeting, Rahva Haal reported the next day. Narva Mayor Vladimir Tsuikin and other local leaders presented various plans for the status of northeastern Estonia to Prime Minister Edgar Savisaar, State Minister Ravio Vare, Interior Minister Olev Laanjarv and Chief of Estonia's Border Authority Andres Oovel. The new plans came after the Estonian Supreme Council rejected a government proposal to make Narva a free economic zone, and include all of northeastern Estonia rather than just Narva. The Narva, Sillamae, and Kohtla-Jarve city councils are meeting within the week to further discuss plans. (Riina Kionka) CONVENTION AND FESTIVAL TIME IN LATVIA. Last week (July 10-14) the international folklore festival Baltica took place in Riga and other parts of Latvia, attracting thousands of folk musicians of various nationalities. From July12 through 17, Latvian scientists from all over the world gathered in Riga for their first congress. Meeting in 24 different sessions, they exchanged information about their specialties and sought ways to improve cooperation. The second conference on education, attended by 80Latvian educators from the West and hundreds from Latvia, started in Riga on July 15 and is continuing in Janmuiza, Riga, and Latgale, reported Radio Riga July 13-17. The first such conference took place in Muenster, Germany last spring and gave teachers from Latvia the chance to see various innovations in education in the West. (Dzintra Bungs) USSR--ALL-UNION TOPICS THE GRAND BARGAIN: FREE ADMISSION TO THE G-7 1/2. The Soviet President got kind words and no money from the G-7 nations yesterday (New York Times, Washington Post, Journal of Commerce, July 18). The Seven pledged special associate member status in the IMF and World Bank for the USSR: this means access to IMF expertise but not IMF or World Bank loans. Beyond that, the Seven said they would each provide technical assistance (which they are already doing), urge the EBRD and OECD to help (but not raise the low ceiling on EBRD finance for the USSR), and keep an eye on progress. Thus, Gorbachev or someone will probably report back to the rich kids at the next summit -- in Munich. (Philip Hanson) GORBACHEV COMPARES UNION TREATY NON-SIGNERS TO FORMER ALLIES. Presidential spokesman Vitalii Ignatenko told reporters in London yesterday that Gorbachev spoke at length to the G-7 leaders about the relationship between the republics, including the Baltic States, and the center, RFE/RL's correspondent in London reported July 17. According to Ignatenko, Gorbachev said the USSR's relations with the countries of Eastern Europe "remind one of a family relationship--in a family where partners live together for a long time, then divorce, then live separately, then realize that they can't live without each other." Gorbachev reportedly said that "something similar" might occur with those republics that wanted to leave the Union. (Sallie Wise) APPEAL TO SUPSOV FROM MINORITIES IN NON-SIGNATORY REPUBLICS. Representatives of minority areas in four of the republics that have said they will not sign the Union treaty have sent an appeal to the USSR Supreme Soviet insisting that they be allowed to sign the treaty. The appeal, published in Izvestia of July 17, comes from the Abkhaz ASSR and South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast in Georgia, the self-styled Trans-Dnieper and Gagauz republics in Moldavia, the Interregional Council of Estonia, and the predominantly Polish Salcininkai raion of Lithuania. The appeal cites the April 1990 law on the mechanics of secession--which allows autonomous territories and areas inhabited primarily by minorities in republics wishing to secede to remain part of the USSR--and suggests a commission be set up to determine their rights under this law and the draft Union treaty. (Ann Sheehy) SUMMIT SET. US President George Bush and Gorbachev agreed on July 17 to hold their sixth meeting on July 30 and 31 in Moscow. The two leaders agreed on a means to overcoming the last remaining obstacle blocking conclusion of the START pact after a one-hour lunch on July 17 in London. Afterwards they instructed negotiators to draw up treaty language on the START accord in time for their meeting in Moscow, Western agencies reported July 17. (Suzanne Crow) HALF-YEARLY ECONOMIC RESULTS. USSR Goskomstat Chairman Vadim Kirichenko outlined preliminary data for economic performance during the first half of 1991 to a press conference in Moscow, TASS and Western agencies reported July 17. When compared with the first half of 1990, declines were: GNP--10%; national income--12%; gross industrial output--6.2%; labor productivity--11%; and oil output--10%. Wholesale prices in June 1991 were up 120% and retail prices up 90% from June 1990. (Keith Bush) FORECASTS FOR 1991. At that press conference and in the latest issue of Pravitel'stvennyi vestnik, Kirichenko and colleagues gave some tentative estimates of performance during the entire year. (They apparently did not spell out the somewhat heroic assumptions on which these were based). They saw a GNP decline of 4%; an industrial output drop of 8%; a grain harvest of 195 million tons; and an oil output total of 508 million tons. (Keith Bush) GIDASPOV COMMENTS ON SITUATION IN CPSU. First Secretary of the Leningrad Party Committee Boris Gidaspov, at a press conference on July 17, supported the idea of holding an emergency CPSU Congress in the fall, Radio Rossii reported that day. He rejected, however, a proposal to replace Gorbachev as the Party's general secretary and condemned the "Bolshevik Platform in the CPSU" for advancing this proposal. Gidaspov was also skeptical about the Movement for Democratic Reforms. He said it has been set up by representatives of the CPSU apparatus and alleged that the movement's program is 90% similar to the resolutions of the 28th Party congress. (Vera Tolz) GERMANY PROTESTS GIDASPOV'S REMARKS. At the same press conference Gidaspov made some controversial remarks about Germany. Commenting on the situation in the USSR, he said that Marxist-Leninist ideology is currently being replaced in the country by laws of the animal world as described by Charles Darwin. As is the case in the jungle, in the newly-emerging Soviet society weaker individuals are being swallowed up by stronger ones, Gidaspov maintained. He said that a similar situation is to be observed in all capitalist countries and cited Germany as an example. Gidaspov said that in Germany it is not a chancellor or federal government that rules the country, but dynasties of industrialists, who, although they had already twice initiated world wars, still remain in power. Radio Rossii said July 17 that the German consulate in Leningrad has already expressed dissatisfaction over Gidaspov's statement and is intending to pursue the issue further. (Vera Tolz) COMMUNISTS FOR DEMOCRACY SET DATE FOR CONFERENCE. The Communists for Democracy, led by RSFSR Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi, has formally announced the dates of their party's inaugural conference. TASS said the conference will be held August 2-4 and will adopt a program and statutes of the new organization. It will also elect its leading bodies. (Vera Tolz) COMMANDERS TO ATTEND RUSSIAN POLITBURO SESSION. The Politburo of the Russian Communist Party has invited Military District Commanders and Chiefs of military academies to its July 20 session, Radio Rossii reported on July 17. The Politburo will reportedly discuss draft problems, desertion, illegally armed groups, and joint army-police patrols. A Party spokesman said that discussion of a potential coup attempt will not be on the agenda. (Stephen Foye) AIR DEFENSE FORCES LAUDED. Izvestia of July18 has praised "the impeccable and efficient" performance of the Soviet Air Defense Forces forsafely escorting a plane to Leningrad that had illegally en-tered Soviet air space on July 16 (see Daily Report, July 17). While the compliment was undoubtedly appreciated by leaders of the often-maligned Air Defense troops, original reports appeared to indicate that the Soviets, in fact, had encountered trouble locating the intruding aircraft. In the Urals region, meanwhile, military authorities said that they had discovered the wreckage of a MiG-23 that had disappeared on July 15. According to Krasnaya zvezda, the pilot perished. (Stephen Foye) SOVIET OLYMPIC COMMITTEE STRAPPED FOR CASH. Vladimir Koval, finance director of the Soviet Olympic Committee, told reporters in Moscow July 12 that the committee's newly-won independence from the Soviet government has one disadvantage: no money. According to Western reports July 13, Koval lamented "we have obtained the status of independence, but we also have become independent of money." The Soviet government stopped subsidizing the Olympic Committee this year, and the committee is further hampered by a Presidential decree ordering all enterprises to pay 40% of their foreign currency to the state. Vitalii Smirnov, the committee's director, appealed at the same press conference for an exemption from the hard currency payment. (Sallie Wise) USSR--IN THE REPUBLICS RSFSR CONGRESS POSTPONES SUPSOV CHAIRMAN ELECTION. The RSFSR Congress of People's Deputies on July 17 postponed the election of a Supreme Soviet chairman until autumn, after failing in six attempts to approve a new leader for the body. The congress decided to charge First Deputy Chairman Ruslan Khasbulatov with temporary duties as Supreme Soviet chairman, TASS reported. The congress tried six times since July 12 to elect a chairman, but no candidate received the needed majority of 531 votes. In the last round, the candidate of "Communists of Russia," Sergei Baburin, topped the poll. TASS commented that although Yeltsin strongly supported Khasbulatov's candidacy, up to 100 pro-Yeltsin democrats in the congress consistently voted against Khasbulatov, whom they have accused of "authoritarian methods" of leadership. (Vera Tolz) SILAEV SIGNS REGULATIONS FOR KUZBASS FREE ECONOMIC ZONE. RSFSR Prime Minister Ivan Silaev has signed regulations putting into effect a free economic zone in the Kuzbass, according to Moscow Radio 1 and RSFSR TV July17. The zone will affect all enterprises in Kemerovo region. They will be allowed to pay wages in hard currency, and the creation of joint ventures in the sphere of banking and insurance will be permitted. A free customs enclave will also be created. Joint ventures and participants in external trade can now register with the regional executive committee, which will establish quotas for the extraction and exploitation of mineral resources. (Sarah Ashwin) REFUGEE PROBLEM IN NORTH OSSETIA. The North Ossetian Supreme Soviet is shortly to discuss the problem of the 40,000 refugees from Georgia whose presence has aggravated the already difficult crime situation in the republic, Novosti reported July 17. It is proposed that only children and pensioners be given the status of refugees, and that they should be dispersed in three tent cities for 5,000 people each. The law enforcement agencies regard an accumulation of refugees in one place as dangerous--there have already been reports of hostility on the part of the Ingush. It is proposed that all the adults should return to their places of permanent residence in South Ossetia. (Ann Sheehy) HUMAN RIGHTS DELEGATION CONFIRMS ARMENIAN DEPORTATIONS. An international delegation that has just visited Nagorno-Karabakh told Western journalists at a Moscow press conference July 17 that since late April 10,000 Armenians have been forcibly deported from the area by Soviet army and Azerbaijani OMON troops. Armenians have also been illegally detained, beaten and tortured; Armenian villages have been resettled by Azerbaijanis. The Azerbaijani authorities have argued systematically that the Azerbaijani troops are merely enforcing passport controls to identify Armenian guerrillas, and that Armenians who leave Azerbaijan are doing so voluntarily. (Liz Fuller) UKRAINE NOT PREPARING TO LEAVE? On July15, TASS summarized an article in Pravda by Ukrainian Supreme Soviet Chairman Leonid Kravchuk. TASS quoted him as stating that the new Union treaty must be more clearly written, regarding both its general principles and specific details, since each word of the Treaty will carry an important meaning. He further explained that Ukraine is not preparing to leave the Soviet Union. (Natalie Melnyczuk) UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENTARIANS OPPOSE DIRECT G-7 AID TO USSR. Four members of the Ukrainian parliament sent a letter to the leaders attending the G-7 Summit in London July 17, stating that if the G-7 really wants to help it should give aid directly to the republics, not the Center. Kiev Radio reported on the same day that a member of parliament, Dmytro Pavlychko, wrote to the G-7 that Ukraine currently makes over $100 billion a year which it must relinquish to the Center. Pavlychko said this same money could be used to repay any assistance which it received from the West. (Natalie Melnyczuk) LEGISLATOR ON TRIAL IN UZBEKISTAN. Uzbek Supreme Soviet deputy Shovruk Ruzimuradov has been put on trial in Karshi for his role in fomenting unrest in the town of Yakkabag in connection with the April price increases, according to TASS of July 17, quoting Vechernyaya Moskva. The report says that the trial of Ruzimuradov, who is identified as a leader of Birlik, the Uzbek Popular Front organization, is closed to the public, and the militia has sealed off all access to the town. Uzbek President Islam Karimov claimed, in an interview published in Rabochaya tribuna on July 3, that the Yakkabag disturbance was minor and denied that there had been any casualties. (Bess Brown) KYRGYZSTAN'S PRIVATIZATION PROJECT PUBLISHED. TASS reported on July 17 that a project for transforming Kyrgyzstan's economy has been published in the republican press for public discussion. The centerpiece of the project, according to Kirgiz President Askar Akaev, is large-scale privatization of state holdings. First to be privatized are to be retail trade, service and public catering firms, small construction organizations, and some highway transport. Some enterprises that are under construction should be sold or given to work collectives so the new owners can complete them at their own expense. The reform is also to include laws to encourage foreign investment. (Bess Brown) TAJIK CONCERN ABOUT OIL FIRES. Tajikistan's Supreme Soviet has appealed to the government of the USSR, leaders of Persian Gulf states, and the UN to conduct a study of the effects of the Kuwait oil fires on climate, according to a TASS report of July 15. The appeal notes that the fires could affect the glaciers of the Pamir and Tyan-Shan mountains, which are the main sources of water for the Central Asian republics. (Bess Brown) MOLDAVIAN POPULAR FRONT DECLINES IN POPULARITY BUT MAJORITY STILL FAVOR INDEPENDENCE. A recent opinion poll in Moldavia shows that the Moldavian Popular Front can now count on the votes of only 15% of the electorate, but is still the most popular party or movement, Novosti reported July 17. Only about 8% of voters support the Social Democrats, 7.5% support the Communists, and 6.7% favor "Edinstvo." Forty-seven percent of those interviewed said they dislike the Popular Front. On the other hand, about 60% (a few percentage points less than the Moldavian share of the population) want full independence, and only a quarter are in favor of signing the Union treaty. (Ann Sheehy) [As of 1300 CET]
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