|You can't fake listening. It shows. - Raquel Welch|
No. 140, 25 July 1991
BALTIC STATES NORTHEASTERN ESTONIA WANTS SPECIAL STATUS. The mayors from northeastern Estonia's three major cities are calling for the government and Supreme Council to grant the region special status, Paevaleht reported on July 24. The mayors of Kohtla-Jarve, Sillamae, and Narva made the demand in a memorandum sent to Prime Minister Edgar Savisaar and Supreme Council chairman Arnold Ruutel. The memorandum said that conflicts between the region and the republic might become insoluble if talks do not take place, and the people of the region voted in the all-Union referendum to stay in the USSR. The demand comes on the heels of an escalating crisis in Narva over the economic border. (Riina Kionka) PARATROOPERS IN TALLINN? Reports that two men in camouflage carrying automatic weapons were seen in Tallinn this week fueled speculation that paratroopers have been brought into the city, according to Baltic News Service in the July 24 Rahva Haal. A Baltic Military District representative in Riga dismissed the rumor, saying that maneuvers are being held at present in Estonia and Latvia. Estonian SSR military commissariat deputy Colonel Vladimir Fedorko said that the exercises are taking place only on military bases, adding that the only paratroopers in Tallinn are ten men from the Viljandi unit who are assigned to guard the enlistment gathering point in the capital. (Riina Kionka) CHINESE-ESTONIAN TOURS IN THE OFFING. Chinese and Estonian tourism officials will sign an direct exchange agreement this week for valyuta-free tours, Paevaleht reported on July 23. A 13-member delegation of Chinese tourism officials are visiting Tallinn this week to prepare for the agreement. Estonian representatives traveled to China in June and July, Paevlahet said. (Riina Kionka) TRAVEL TO AND FROM LITHUANIA DECREASES. Due to shortages of Soviet passports and invitation forms, the number of people travelling to and from Lithuania in the first half of this year was lower than in 1990. Last year 104,370 people from Lithuania went to the former socialist countries on private visits and 12,894 to capitalist countries; this year the corresponding numbers were 88,982 and 9,642, Gimtasis krastas reported in its July 18-24 issue. Last year 77,286 foreigners visited Lithuania, compared to only 19,736 this year. Passports normally were returned and destroyed after use, but those for 1987-1988 somehow escaped destruction and their holders will be able to get them back. (Saulius Girnius) DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER IN HUNGARY. Lithuanian Deputy Foreign Minister Valdemaras Katkus expressed his hopes for closer ties between Lithuania and Hungary, MTI reported July 24. At a press conference in Budapest on July 23, Katkus spoke of the possibility of opening Lithuanian and Hungarian representation offices in the respective state capitals. In talks with Hungarian officials, Katkus is discussing trade and economic cooperation issues. Hungarian Foreign Minister Geza Jeszenszky received a package of proposals from Katkus, including plans for cultural exchanges and economic ventures. (Gytis Liulevicius) MORE TALKS ON RSFSR-LITHUANIA TREATY. A Lithuanian delegation left Vilnius for Moscow on July 24 to continue talks on the RSFSR-Lithuania treaty, Radio Independent Lithuania reported that day. The delegation, led by Lithuanian Supreme Council Deputy Chairman Ceslovas Stankevicius, consists of working groups preparing the treaty for signing on July 29, as agreed by Lithuanian Supreme Council Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis and RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin on July 18. One of the main areas of discussion will be the drafting of a separate document regarding RSFSR access to the Kaliningrad region. (Gytis Liulevicius) SPECIAL BALTIC-BELORUSSIAN COMMUNIST TIES. The July 19 issue of Sovetskaya Belorussiya reported on a July 17 meeting in Minsk between Belorussian CP chief Anatolii Malofeev and the Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian Communist Party first secretaries (Alfreds Rubiks, Mykolas Burokevicius, and Lembit Annus). The Baltic CP leaders came to get advice on beefing up their organizations and avoiding splits. All sides called on Communists not to join the Movement for Democratic Reforms. Burokevicius said the Lithuanian and Belorussian CPs intend to expand their ties, pointing out that the two sides have already set up joint enterprises in Vilnius and Grodno--a sign that financial as well as moral support is involved. (Kathy Mihalisko) LATVIAN COMMUNISTS HAVE MUCH TO LEARN FROM BELORUSSIANS. Interviewed July19 in the Belorussian Party daily Zvyazda, Alfreds Rubiks said that despite the vast difference between Baltic and Belorussian political life, Latvian Communists had much to learn from their Belorussian comrades. Rubiks specifically mentioned his interest in how Communists in Belorussia managed to maintain their grip on the soviets and parliament despite pressure from opposition forces. Rubiks noted that as of January, the Latvian CP had dropped to 122,000 members, of whom just 28% were Latvian. He said that Latvian CP had recently changed its statute to allow 16-year-olds to join the Party. (Kathy Mihalisko) RUBIKS ON THE SALVATION COMMITTEE. In an another interesting revelation, Rubiks told Zvyazda that the National Salvation Committee in Latvia was formed "not in one night, as in Lithuania's case," but as early as May, 1990 (under the name "Committee to Defend Citizens' Rights"), i.e., immediately after Latvia declared its independence. There is evidence suggesting that Minsk has been providing various types of support to Baltic interfronts over the past two years; is the Belorussian Party now hoping to directly aid Baltic Communists in their bid to regain power? (Kathy Mihalisko) BALTIC TRADE COUNCIL PLANNED. At a meeting in Vilnius last week, representatives of the Estonian International Trade Center Foundation, Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Lithuanian Committee of International Organizations decided to form a Baltic International Trade Council on November 18. Planned as an extra-governmental organization, the council is to coordinate economic reforms in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, and facilitate the exchange of information, reported Diena of July 22. While there is a clear need for better coordination of economic matters, it is unclear why existing institutions are not making a greater effort to cooperate, and why an earlier founding date has not been chosen for the new council. (Dzintra Bungs) PRICES RAISED FOR ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES IN LATVIA. Radio Riga reported on July 24 that prices have been raised by about 50% for alcoholic beverages sold in Latvia. Consequently, a half-liter of vodka, depending on quality, costs 20-24 rubles in the state stores. (Dzintra Bungs) OUTPUT OF CONSUMER GOODS DECLINES IN LATVIA. Alfreds Cepanis, chairman of the Supreme Council Commission on Commerce and Consumer Services, said that shortages of consumer goods in Latvia stems primarily from a decline in production, rather than inequitable distribution. He told Lauku Avize of July 2 that compared with output for the first quarter in 1990, output for the same periodthis year has decreased for the following goods: wool fabric by 26%, socks by 31%, pantyhose by 40%, bedding by 16%, washing machines by 21%, radios by 14%, furniture by 19%, and dishes by 15%. He noted that a paradoxical situation has developed: while productivity has declined, the ruble income of many of these enterprises has actually increased as a consequence of price hikes. (Dzintra Bungs) GERMANY'S CONSUL GENERAL IN RIGA. German diplomats stationed in Leningrad are visiting Latvia this week and meeting Latvian govern-ment officials to discuss increased economic and cultural cooperation, as well as improved exchange of information. Consul General Henning Von Wistinghausen said: "Germany is convinced that in the future the Baltic States will regain complete political independence," reported Diena of July 23. He and Consul Ernst Reichel also took part in the 80th birthday celebration of Bishop Haralds Kalnins, a Latvian pastor overseeing German Lutheran congregations in the USSR. (Dzintra Bungs) USSR--ALL-UNION TOPICS CPSU CENTRAL COMMITTEE PLENUM OPENS TODAY. The CPSU Central Committee is meeting in plenary session today and tomorrow to discuss the draft Party program. The Marxist Platform announced yesterday that it intends to put forward its own draft program at the plenum. A member of its coordinating committee told Novosti on July 24 that the program is "conceptually close to the programs of traditional European socialist workers' parties." (Dawn Mann) DEMOCRATS SUPPORT GORBACHEV. Vesti on July 24 quoted RSFSR Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi as saying that Soviet democratic movements "will stick up for [Soviet President Mikhail] Gorbachev." In turn, Yeltsin told Vesti that his decree on "departification" did not damage his relations with the CPSU General Secretary, and that the two leaders had achieved consensus in Novo-Ogarevo. All in all, the tone of RSFSR radio and television indicates that, in sharp contrast to the militantly anti-Gorbachev mood that prevailed among democrats earlier this year, today Yeltsin's supporters are having something of a honeymoon with the USSR President. (Julia Wishnevsky) CHURKIN REBUFFS US ON INF ACCUSATIONS. Soviet Foreign Ministry spokesman Vitalii Churkin has denied Bush Administration charges that Moscow has in any way violated the 1987 INF treaty, Western agencies reported on July 24. Churkin told reporters that SS-23 missiles located in Czechoslovakia, the former East Germany, and Bulgaria were owned by those countries and that they did not fall under the 1987 treaty. Churkin also accused the West of using cold war tactics in bringing up the issue at this time. US President George Bush and Gorbachev are scheduled to sign a START agreement during next week's Moscow summit. (Stephen Foye) CONSUMER BASKET DRAFT REJECTED. The USSR Cabinet of Ministers discussed the draft law on the minimum consumer budget or "consumer basket" on July 24, Vremya reported that evening. The draft valued the basket for one person at 210 rubles a month, including 113 rubles for foodstuffs, 24 rubles for consumer services, and 62 rubles for clothing, medicines, and other goods. The consumer basket will be used as the basis for setting minimum wages, stipends, pensions, and other transfer payments. It is to be adjusted once a year. The draft was rejected apparently because retail prices are changing too quickly for any specific norms to be established. (Keith Bush) USSR TO SELL VOLGA AUTO PLANT. The USSR is reportedly looking for a way to sell part of its Volga auto plant to foreign investors, according to Western reports. The New York Times of July 24 refers to Soviet reports that the USSR would like to sell at least 30% of the plant, and has hired a Wall Street firm to help with the deal which could total over a billion dollars. (John Tedstrom) PLATINUM MARKETING ACCORD? The giant pan-African trading conglomerate, Lonrho, is sending a team to Moscow to discuss the marketing of platinum, The Sunday Telegraph reported July21. It is thought that Lonrho would like to arrange a platinum marketing deal similar to the De Beers accord of 1990 with Moscow that gave De Beers exclusive rights of marketing and sale of Soviet rough diamonds over five years. South Africa and the Soviet Union account for more than 95% of world platinum production. (Keith Bush) JAPANESE LOAN EXTENDED. Japan's Ministry of International Trade and Industry will underwrite $200 million out of a $350 million bridging loan to the USSR that will be provided by Japanese commercial banks, Western agencies reported July24. The bridging loan will be used to refinance part of the outstanding Soviet trade debt of some $500 million to Japanese companies. The Japanese government's intention to extend a bridging loan was leaked before the G-7 summit (see Daily Report, July 16). It is unclear why it was not announced at the London meeting. (Keith Bush) USSR TO LOAN VIETNAM $20 MILLION. The Vietnam News Agency reported July 23 that the Soviet Union has agreed to provide $5 million per year until 1995 to boost bilateral cooperation in the rubber industry. The two countries have also held discussions on launching joint ventures in rubber cultivation to replace the current form of cooperation. The news agency provided no details on the terms of repayment of the loan. (Suzanne Crow) BARTER AGREEMENT WITH POLAND. On July23, the Soviet Union and Poland agreed on a $325 million barter agreement whereby Poland is to supply the Soviet Union with medicines in exchange for Soviet oil and natural gas, Western agencies reported July 24. The agreement runs counter to Soviet plans to put trade with Eastern Europe on a new footing as of January 1, 1991, but responds to the sudden drop in Soviet-East European trade--especially the quantity of Soviet energy exports. (Suzanne Crow) COMECON TO DISCUSS DISPOSAL OF ASSETS. The nine member-states of the now-defunct Comecon are scheduled to meet in Moscow on July29 to discuss how to dispose of the organization's assets. Although Comecon formally was dissolved last month, its final liquidation has been delayed until the end of September to allow for the dispersal of its assets. RFE/RL's correspondent in Budapest on July 23 cited Hungarian officials as predicting that the meeting will be punctuated by arguments since, they charged, the USSR wants to take control of most Comecon assets at a low price. Hungarian officials say those assets, including real estate, are worth considerably more than their listed worth of 60 million rubles; some estimates have gone as high as $500 million. (Sallie Wise) POWELL CONTINUES VISIT IN SOVIET UNION. Speaking at a military training center near Moscow on July 25, US General Colin Powell said that the size of the Soviet military remains "much bigger than we think is justified," and complained that military conversion was progressing more slowly than expected, according to Western reports. On July 23, Powell met with Gorbachev and the two discussed military conversion. Defense Minister Dmitrii Yazov and General Staff Chief Mikhail Moiseev were reportedly also present. Later that day, Powell attended a Soviet military exercise. He reportedly commiserated with top-ranking Soviet generals over the difficulties of coping with defense budget cuts. (Stephen Foye) SOVIET CADETS DEFECT. Two Soviet naval cadets, in Baltimore with a Soviet tall ship on a goodwill visit, jumped ship and hope to stay in the United States, Western agencies reported July 23. Identified as Aleksei Litovko and Pyotr Zolotorev, both from Kaliningrad and around 20 years of age, they apparently left the Soviet vessel around 1:00p.m. on July 22 and made their way to the immigration office. The ship had been in Baltimore since July 12, and set sail for Bremerhaven, Germany on July 23 without the two cadets. In an apparently unrelated incident, Baltimore police said July 23 that Viktor Orshichovsky, 37, had been reported missing from the cargo ship M.V. Leonid Leonidov. A police spokes-woman said his disappearance was being treated as a missing person case, not a defection. (StephenFoye) ERRORS FORCE SHUTDOWNS OF NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS. Trud reported July 23 that mistakes by workers at Soviet nuclear power plants have been to blame for many temporary shutdowns of many of the power stations. According to a TASS summary of the article yesterday, 20 out of 59 recent shutdowns have been caused by worker error. Trud said that in the first half of this year, Soviet nuclear power plants were utilized only by 67%. The report quoted Anatolii Mazalov, chief of supervision of the Soviet nuclear industry, as saying that nuclear plant personnel are incorrectly applying safety measures in operating the reactors. (Sallie Wise) TRANSPORT WORKERS STRIKE IN YAROSLAV. A strike of tram and trolley bus workers began in Yaroslav on 23 July, TASS reported the same day. The workers' basic demands were pay increases, improvements in social conditions and in the state of the vehicle depot. The strike was curtailed after 10 hours as a result of a meeting with leaders of the town and local transport firms. The meeting decided to refer the matter to the presidium of the Yaroslav city soviet. (Sarah Ashwin) CONGRESS OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES IN THE USSR. Infonovosti reported on July 23 that a local congress of Jehovah's Witnesses took place the last weekend in Usol'e-Sibirsk, Irkutsk oblast. The report said that a short time ago the adherents of this branch of Christianity were persecuted, and the center of their religious organization in Brooklyn was called "a nest of the CIA." Now, however, they have come into the open and announced their intention to contribute to improving education, stabilizing faith in God, and supporting good deeds, the report concluded. (Oxana Antic) USSR--IN THE REPUBLICS ARMENIA STILL UNDECIDED ON UNION TREATY? In implicit contradiction of Gorbachev's assertion yesterday that Armenia "is preparing" to sign the Union Treaty (see Daily Report, July 24), the Armenian permanent representative in Moscow, Feliks Mamikonyan, was quoted by Western press agencies July 24 as stating that Armenian parliament chairman Levon Ter-Petrossyan attended the Novo-Ogarevo meeting "as an observer" to take part in political consultations, and that Armenia's stance on the Union treaty would be decided by means of the referendum on secession scheduled for September 21. (Liz Fuller) COMMITTEE FOR CONSTITUTIONAL OVERSIGHT TO EXAMINE DECREE. The chairman of the USSR Supreme Soviet, Anatolii Luk'yanov, responding to numerous requests, instructed the USSR Committee for Constitutional Oversight to examine Yeltsin's July 20 decree on depoliticization to determine whether it is in conflict with the USSR and RSFSR Constitutions, the USSR law on public associations, the USSR law on trade unions, and various other laws and international agreements, TASS reported July 24. (Dawn Mann) YELTSIN SAYS DECREE WILL BE ENFORCED. Yeltsin told Radio Rossii on July 24 that decisive action would be taken against those refusing to implement his decree. The decree is not unconstitutional, Yeltsin said. He said that no deadline for the cessation of the activities of Communist Party organizations in state bodies had been set, but suggested that they could stop in a month's time. Yeltsin said efforts would be made to find new jobs for those released from Party work. (Dawn Mann) USSR MINISTER OF JUSTICE COMMENTS ON DECREE. USSR Minister of Justice Sergei Lushchikov told Radio Moscow-2 on July 24 that the decree contains many internal contradictions and runs counter to the Helsinki accords on human and political rights. Lushchikov said the decree appeared not to have been reviewed by any legal authorities and said it would be necessary to consult with the Committee for Constitutional Compliance and with Gorbachev. (Dawn Mann) TRADE UNION REACTION TO DECREE. The deputy chairman of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia, Vasilii Romanov, told TASS on July 24 that he is confident that the trade unions will continue to operate as fully-empowered organizations and does not think that the decree gives employers the right to decide whether trade unions will be formed within their companies. The accent, he said, is on "civilized relations" and the importance of reaching collective agreement between trade unions and management. (Dawn Mann) DEMOCRATIC PARTY SUPPORTS DECREE. The Democratic Party of Russia "fully supports" the decree, Novosti reported July 24. Sergei Vvedensky, an aide to DPR leader Nikolai Travkin, said that the decree will have little effect on the DPR because it is organized primarily along territorial lines. The DPR will comply with the decree and dissolve some 20 party committees that now exist in state enterprises. (Dawn Mann) NEW CLOISTER WILL BE OPENED IN SIBERIA. Radio Rossii reported on July 24 that a plan to establish a cloister in the village of Mogochin in Tomsk oblast originated with the raion soviet. The idea was supported by deputies who turned to Patriarch Aleksii II for his blessing of the project. The chairman of the raion executive committee told Radio Rossii that the authorities are willing to give the cloister land and will also supply technical equipment and building materials. The local authorities assume that the cloister will be inhibited in the first instance by elderly, lonely women. (Oxana Antic) BUSH PACKS FOR KIEV. After his summit with Gorbachev next week, President Bush will go to Kiev to address the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet. An RFE/RL correspondent reported from Washington yesterday (July 24) that Bush plans his visit for August 1 and that Gorbachev will not accompany him. A senior White House Official told RFE/RL that Bush will meet with some independence leaders while in Kiev, but has no separate talks planned with them at this time. Earlier yesterday, Ukrainian independence advocate Yurii Shukhevych stated that if Bush came to Kiev alone it would boost the spirits of Ukrainian independence campaigners. (Natalie Melnyczuk) BABI YAR MEMORIAL WEEK. A memorial week (September 29-October 6) to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the tragedy at Babi Yar will be conducted in Kiev, Radio Kiev reported July 21. The week's program includes religious services and an international con- ference. (Roman Solchanyk) CORRECTION. The meeting between RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin and leaders of the RSFSR republics noted in yesterday's Daily Report (July 24, No. 139) took place on July 23, not June 23 as reported.
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