Every custom was once an eccentricity; every idea was once an absurdity. - Holbrook Jackson
RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 141, 26 July 1991


Diena of July 24, Moscow has once again put off the second round
of Latvian-USSR consultations. It is not known when the second
round may take place, but it is clear that no meeting will take
place in July, as had been planned. A member of the Latvian delegation,
Deputy Janis Dinevics, said that the Latvians had learned of
the Soviet decision unofficially and were concerned about the
Soviet attitude toward the talks. Dinevics speculated that the
delay may have been caused by the focus in the Soviet capital
on the USSR Union Treaty and the upcoming meeting between the
US and USSR presidents. (Dzintra Bungs)

COMMODITIES EXCHANGE REOPENS IN RIGA. After fifty years of inactivity,
the com- modities exchange resumed operations in Riga on July
25. On offer were more than 700 types of commodities, worth about
250 million rubles, from different parts of the USSR. On the
first day about 100 contracts were signed worth about 11 million
rubles. These activities took place in the Hotel Latvia because
renovation of the old Riga Stock and Commodities Exchange Building
has not been completed, reported Radio Riga July 25. (Dzintra

Radio Riga reported on July 25 that Latvian and Belorussian Ministers
of Internal Affairs (Aloizs Vaznis and Vladimir Egorov, respectively)
signed an accord to cooperate in their efforts to fight crime.
The agreement was signed in Riga. Egorov was Latvian SSR Minister
of Internal Affairs from August 1985 to November 1986. (Dzintra

EMIGRE LEADERS END VISIT TO LATVIA. Before concluding their three-week
visit to Latvia, Gunars Meierovics, chairman of the World Federation
of Free Latvians, and Karlis Kuzulis, deputy chairman of the
American Latvian Association, gave a press conference at the
Supreme Council on July25. They explained that one of the main
purposes of the visit was to learn about the situation of agriculture
in Latvia and to seek the best ways of helping farmers, and that
this was the reason why they spent most of their time in the
countryside. Meierovics also said that in September a WFFL Information
Office is to open in Riga. (Dzintra Bungs)

Archbishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia, has
been elected one of seven vice presidents of the Lutheran World
Federation. This, according to Diena of July 22, is the first
time that a Lutheran church leader from Eastern Europe has been
elected to such a high position in the federation. (Dzintra Bungs)

LAND REFORM LAW PASSED. On July 25 the Lithuanian Supreme Council
passed a law on land reform in Lithuania and a decision implementing
it, Radio Independent Lithuania reported that day. The law, to
go into effect no later than November 1, provides for two types
of ownership, private and state, but does not include a third
type, collective, that the left-wing had advocated. The parliament
plans to begin its summer vacation after two more sessions on
July 29 and 30, but may have to prolong it if it does not complete
all its planned work. (Saulius Girnius)

Railways Leonid Matyukhin met with Lithuanian Supreme Council
Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis, Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius,
and other officials in Vilnius on July 25, Radio Independent Lithuania
reported that day. According to Lithuanian Minister of Transportation
Jonas Birziskis, both sides agreed that transportation should
not be interrupted for political reasons. They also discussed
establishing a direct railway link with Poland through Sestokai.
Birziskis considered Matyukhin "a very constructive person."
(Gytis Liulevicius)

RUUTEL IN WASHINGTON. Chairman of the Estonian Supreme Council
Arnold Ruutel is having more talks with administration officials
in Washington, an RFE/RL correspondent reported today (July 26).
Ruutel on July 25 met with Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence
Eagleburger, who reportedly reaffirmed support for the aspirations
of the Estonian people and reiterated US non-recognition policy.
Ruutel is set to see National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft
today at the White House. Ruutel is back in Washington after
having accompanied an Estonian team to the US Special Olympics
in Minnesota. (Riina Kionka)

ESTONIA'S PRODUCTION SKIDS. Reports from the first half of 1991
indicate that Estonia's industrial production is on the skids.
Overall production fell by 6.8% from the same period last year,
with production in industries subordinate to all-Union ministries
dropping by 2.2% and in those under combined or republic control
falling by 8.5%. Food industries had the sharpest drop in production:
output fell in the dairy (18.1%), meat (17.4%), and fish (6.3%)
industries. Work capacity of the individual worker also fell
by 2.4% from last year's levels. Paevaleht reported the statistics
on July 27. (Riina Kionka)


OVERVIEW OF FIRST DAY OF PLENUM. General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev
delivered the opening address at the CPSU plenum yesterday (July
25), after which 27 people commented. According to TASS, the
majority supported the draft program, and Gorbachev's proposal
that it be adopted later this year. Discussions were also held
on the nomination of CPSU members to stand for election as USSR
People's Deputies, organizational matters, and the situation
of the Party in Estonia. Participating in the plenum, in addition
to the CC, are members of the program drafting commission and
CPSU Central Control Commission; all of the first secretaries
of the Union republics, republics, krais, oblasts, and okrugs;
and all of the secretaries of the Armed Forces Party committees.
(Dawn Mann)

on the USSR's economic backwardness, which he blamed on the Party's
ideological rejection of the market. After reviewing the benefits
of the market as an economic tool, Gorbachev proclaimed that
"socialism and the market are not only linked, they are indivisible."
On ideology, Gorbachev said one of the main achievements of
the new program was its "decisive break with obsolete dogmatism
and stereotypes." The Party should draw on "all the riches of
our country's and the world's socialist and democratic thought."
With regard to the CPSU, Gorbachev reported that in 18 months
the Party had lost 4.2 million members, only 2-3% of whom had
joined another political group. He criticized both the Bolshevik
Platform and the Communist Initiative Movement, and mentioned
plans to form an "alternative democratic Russian Communist party."
He advised all of the factions to re-examine their positions,
and cautioned that Party periodicals which "discredit the Party
day in and day out" can hardly be considered Party publications.
(Dawn Mann)

GORBACHEV FAVORS EARLY CONGRESS. Gorbachev spoke in favor of
convening an extraordinary Party Congress in November or December
of this year in response to the many calls from Party organizations
for such a congress. The declared purpose would be to adopt the
final version of the Party program. USSR Minister of Information
Mikhail Nenashev observed that an extraordinary congress would
solve nothing by adopting a program so general that most CPSU
members could support it, while the leader of the Marxist Platform,
Aleksandr Buzgalin, observed that the only change it will lead
to will be a switch from "bureaucratic politics under the rubric
of communism to bureaucratic politics under the rubric of social
democracy." (Dawn Mann)

PLENUM PARTICIPANTS COMMENT. Central Committee member Otto Latsis,
deputy editor of Kommunist, told TASS that the discussion had
been heated, and that Gorbachev clearly does not have the full
support of the CC, but Nikolai Stolyarov, head of the RSFSR CP
Central Control Commission, predicted the program will be adopted
by a majority and reported that no one had called for Gorbachev's
resignation. The president of the USSR Union of Leaseholders
and Entrepreneurs, Pavel Bunich, said that Gorbachev has the
CC well in hand, noting that even Yurii Prokof'ev, first secretary
of the Moscow city Party committee, had adopted a more conciliatory
position. Leningrad Party chief Boris Gidaspov expressed surprised
at the calmness with which the plenum is proceeding. (Dawn Mann)

DISCUSSION OF YELTSIN DECREE. Nearly every speaker reportedly
commented on RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin's depoliticization
decree and the agenda was amended to include discussion of a
CC resolution on the decree. A commission to draft the resolution
was also formed. Gorbachev made his first public remarks on the
subject, commenting that the decree is "by no means what society
needs right now" at a time when "tendencies towards the constructive
solution of difficult questions" had appeared; the decree could
destroy the consensus only now beginning to take shape. "Nobody
has the right to forbid the Party to work with the collectives,"
Gorbachev said, and supported the review now underway by the
USSR Constitutional Oversight Committee. (Dawn Mann)

CHERNAVIN ANNOUNCES FLEET CUTS. Admiral Vladimir Chernavin, Commander
in Chief of the Soviet navy, announced on July 25 that the Soviet
fleet will be cut by between 20% and 25% by the year 2000, according
to TASS and The Los Angeles Times. His comments came in anticipation
of Soviet Navy Day and during US General Colin Powell's stay
in Moscow. Chernavin said the fleet would maintain its combat
capabilities "thanks to the qualitative renewal of all branches
of the service." The cuts reflect a decision to decommission
older vessels, and Chernavin said that the latest Soviet ships,
including the Typhoon-class guided missile submarines, the third-generation
attack submarines, the Kirov-class cruisers, and the Sovremenny-class
destroyers would form the basis of the new fleet. (Stephen Foye)

MOISEEV CALLS FOR CFE RATIFICATION. During a joint press conference
with Powell, Soviet General Staff Chief Mikhail Moiseev denied
rumors that the CFE treaty would run into opposition when considered
for ratification in the USSR Supreme Soviet. Moiseev said that
the treaty did not favor the West, as some Soviet critics have
charged, and that, in fact, it was fully consistent with Soviet
military doctrine and allowed Moscow sufficient forces to guarantee
national security. Moiseev also claimed that he had received
a similar evaluation from the USSR Supreme Soviet Committee for
Defense and Security. He predicted that ratification would come
at the next Supreme Soviet session. (Stephen Foye)

announced on July25 that armed forces plan on putting into service
764 Soviet-made amphibious tanks taken from the stocks of former
East Germany, Western agencies reported. The tanks will be deployed
in former East Germany. The German Air Force will also use Soviet
made MiG-29s that were overhauled last year. (Stephen Foye)

Khamidoulin, the Soviet ambassador to Vietnam, told reporters
in Hanoi July 25 that the USSR will proceed with cutbacks at
the Soviet base at Cam Ranh Bay as announced last year, Western
agencies reported the same day. He did not, however, give a timetable
for the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Vietnam. In other remarks,
Khamidoulin said that the USSR supports Vietnamese rapprochement
with ASEAN countries and the US, although he complained that
the US is "too slow in the process of normalizing relations with
Vietnam." He doubted that any concrete moves toward warmer relations
between Vietnam and ASEAN would come soon, despite the ASEAN
foreign ministers' proposal last week for regional cooperation
with Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. (Sallie Wise)

on the status of the Soviet military threat (released July 26),
the Japanese Defense Agency says Soviet forces in East Asia remain
formidable, but the Soviet Union is now in a difficult position
to stage aggressive action against other countries because of
its domestic situation. The report made no mention of a potential
Soviet threat to Asia, but did argue that the political-military
situation in Asia is "much more complicated" than in Europe.
Additionally, the report noted that the Kremlin has deployed
its most modern military equipment in the Asian region, wire
services reported July 26. (Suzanne Crow)

IZVESTIA ON INF VIOLATION. Today's Izvestia (July 26, All-Union
edition) carries a report on the question of Soviet INF treaty
violations. Noting that German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Czechoslovak
President Vaclav Havel provided the US with information about
SS-23 missile transfers, Izvestia noted: "things are MiG-serious
. . . . They could hardly be more serious." The report goes on
to note that "many specialists agree that creating a verification
system that would provide a 100% guarantee of the punctilious
observance of such agreements is practically impossible." It
concludes that owing to the recent conclusion of the CFE treaty
and approaching settlement of START, "now is not the time to
be getting engaged in wrangling and morbidly suspicious recriminations."
(Suzanne Crow)

EBRD PROJECTS FOR THE USSR. A spokesman for the European Bank
for Reconstruction and Development told RFE/RL on July 25 about
the initial projects that it envisages in the USSR and Eastern
Europe. Out of hundreds of applications, the Bank has selected
150 projects for further assessment. Reports on the priorities
to be accorded to various projects will be completed by the end
of 1991. The Bank is said to be advising the Moscow city council
on privatization,; it is studying the creation of a new commercial
bank; and it is involved in an international project to clean
up the Baltic Sea. (Keith Bush)

VAZ WORKERS WANT A SHARE. Western reports of Soviet radio broadcasts
July 25 note that workers in the VAZ auto factory want shares
in the company if it is to be privatized. Reports vary, but it
appears that 30-40% of the factory is to be sold to Italy's Fiat
auto company, some 20% to the Soviet state, and the remainder
to VAZ workers. The workers want to be involved in direct talks
with the relevant Soviet and foreign authorities. VAZ makes about
750,000 of the 1.3 million autos built in the USSR each year.
(John Tedstrom)

GERMAN VIEW OF SOVIET FINANCES. In an interview with Die Zeit
of July 26, Horst Koehler, State Secretary in the German Finance
Ministry, discussed the Soviet financial situation in the wake
of the G-7 summit. He strongly urged Soviet authorities to avoid
asking for the rescheduling or restructuring of their hard currency
debt, as this would scare off Western banks. In apparent contradiction
to what was thought to be the German position prior to the G-7
meeting, Koehler spoke against the creation of any stabilization
fund for the USSR that would be "frittered away" on the import
of consumer goods. He called for rapid IMF involvement to stabilize
the Soviet economy and predicted that the ceiling on EBRD credits
to the USSR will be lifted at the July 1992 Munich G-7 summit.
(Keith Bush)

THE GLASS THAT CHEERS--AND CURES? A Belorussian institute claims
to have developed a medicinal vodka that kills cancer cells,
Komsomol'skaya pravda reported July 25. The director of a center
that distributes the liquor for the Vitebsk Medical Institute
explained that vodka exposed to "magnetic rays" during an experiment
was found to destroy cancer cells when taken in small doses.
The liquid has been named "Sochi Breeze." The USSR Ministry of
Health's Center for Addiction Studies was said to be unconvinced
of the beverage's curative properties. (Keith Bush)

"CHRISTIAN REVIVAL" UNION HARASSED. Literaturnaya Rossiya published
in No. 29 (July 19) a letter from Vladimir Osipov, chairman of
the "Christian Revival" Union. Osipov complained that the militia
has threatened to interrupt the collection signatures conducted
by the Union in support of the canonization of the last tsar
and his family. Members of the Union are collecting signatures
in Moscow in front of the Epiphany cathedral. Osipov added that
a militia captain called the singing of prayers by Union members
a "unsanctioned meeting" and declared that "all necessary measures
will be applied to stop this." (Oxana Antic)


Armenian Supreme Soviet Chairman Levon Ter-Petrossyan told Le
Monde July 25 that Armenia has not agreed to sign the Union treaty,
and that the referendum scheduled for September 21 would prove
that the Armenian people favor secession. Ter-Petrossyan said
that he attended the July 23 meeting at Novo-Ogarevo "as an observer"
and complained that Moscow was violating Soviet law by imposing
trade restrictions on those republics that wish to secede. He
also explained why he had not been able to attend earlier meetings
of the "9-plus-1." (Liz Fuller)

a statement by the Party Control Commission of the Azerbaijan
CP as claiming that Geidar Aliev's resignation July19 from the
CPSU was prompted not by ideological considerations but because
of his responsibility for widespread corruption in Azerbaijan
during his tenure as Party first secretary there. (Liz Fuller)

WHO'S LEAVING THE PARTY? According to Moscow city Party committee
leader Yurii Prokof'ev, the city Party organization now has 870,000
members, down from 1,135,000. Prokof'ev told Central Television
on July 23 that 200,000 members left the Party in 1990, and another
90,000 have left so far this year. 47% of those who turned in
their Party cards were workers, 33% were considered members of
the intelligentsia, and 17% were pensioners. Thus far in 1991,
9,500 people--most of whom, Prokof'ev claims, are under age 35--have
joined the Moscow city Party organization. (Dawn Mann)

HURENKO ON PARTY UNITY. First Secretary of the Communist Party
of Ukraine Stanislav Hurenko appeared on Ukrainian television
Wednesday evening saying that his party stands for the unity
of Party ranks, Ukrinform-TASS reported July 25. At the same
time, he said that the republican Party organization will conduct
its own independent policies. Hurenko also placed the blame on
the current difficult situation in the CPSU on its "former leaders."
(Roman Solchanyk)

July 24 by Radio Kiev and July 25 by TASS, a Congress of Officers
of Ukraine will be held over the weekend in Kiev. The main topics
on the agenda will include the political situation in the republic,
the formation of a Ukrainian national army, the social conditions
of servicemen, and the creation of a Ukrainian officers' committee.
The initiative has been strongly protested by representatives
of the Kiev military garrison, who have issued a statement accusing
the renegade military men of deceit and attempted destabilization.
(Kathy Mihalisko)

The Party for Democratic Rebirth of Ukraine (a descendant of
the CPSU Democratic Platform group) published a statement in
Literaturna Ukraina July 19 stating its position on the movement
inaugurated by Eduard Shevardnadze and Aleksandr Yakovlev. It
said that the Movement for Democratic Reforms' founders failed
to take into account that most parties and movements in the
national republics favor a confederation of genuinely sovereign
states. It noted that a Union-wide coalition of democratic forces
already exists: the Democratic Congress, launched in February
in Kharkov, which the Movement for Democratic Reforms is free
to join. (Kathy Mihalisko)

MOGILEV WORKERS PLAN STRIKE. RFE/RL correspondents in Belorussia
reported July 23 that strike committees in the city of Mogilev
have decided on a plan of action in major factories. It will
involve trying to replace official union structures with independent
labor groups. An organization called "Workers' Committee--Independence"
was registered in Mogilev last week and held a conference July
20 and 21. In a speech to the assembly, Belorussian labor activist
and people's deputy Syarhei Antonchyk predicted another wave
of labor unrest in Belorussia this fall when prices are expected
to rise again. (Kathy Mihalisko)

On July 25 the RSFSR and Uzbek Ministers of Justice signed an
agreement on mutual legal assistance and exchange of information,
RSFSR TV reported July 25. This is the first agreement of its
kind. The RSFSR will sign similar agreements soon with other
republics. (Ann Sheehy)

July 25 that over 600,000 unemployed have already been registered
in Uzbekistan, and that, according to the forecasts of specialists,
the figure could soon double. Novosti reported July 24 that by
the end of the year about 10% of the able-bodied population of
Moldavia is expected to be jobless. Those most likely to be affected
are the less skilled and young people. (Ann Sheehy)

Moldovapres agency held a one-day warning strike on July 25 to
demand the immediate removal of the agency's general director,
Vasile Vatamanu, who, they say, has hired incompetent people
and destroyed discipline in the agency, TASS reported July 25.
The director had said earlier that he would give up the post
and concentrate on his duties as a deputy, but changed his mind
at the last moment. (Ann Sheehy)

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