|If you are not allowed to laugh in heaven, I don't want to go there. - Martin Luther|
No. 141, 26 July 1991
BALTIC STATES MOSCOW AGAIN DELAYS LATVIAN-USSR CONSULTATIONS. According to 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 Bungs) LATVIAN-BELORUSSIAN MINISTRIES OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS TO COOPERATE. 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 Bungs) 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) LATVIAN ELECTED LUTHERAN WORLD FEDERATION VP. Karlis Gailitis, 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) SOVIET RAILWAY MINISTER IN VILNIUS. The new USSR Minister of 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) USSR--ALL-UNION TOPICS 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) HIGHLIGHTS FROM GORBACHEV'S SPEECH. Gorbachev dwelt at length 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) GERMANY TO USE SOVIET TANKS AND PLANES. The German Defense Ministry 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) SOVIET AMBASSADOR SAYS CUTBACKS IN VIETNAM TO CONTINUE. Rashid 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) JAPANESE WHITE PAPER ON SOVIET MILITARY. In its annual report 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) USSR--IN THE REPUBLICS TER-PETROSSYAN: ARMENIA HAS NOT AGREED TO SIGN UNION TREATY. 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) AZERBAIJAN CP HITS BACK AT GEIDAR ALIEV. TASS July 25 quoted 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) CONGRESS OF UKRAINIAN OFFICERS FOR A NATIONAL ARMY. As reported 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) MOVEMENT FOR DEMOCRATIC REFORMS NOT IN TUNE WITH SOVEREIGNTY. 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) MINISTERS OF JUSTICE OF RSFSR AND UZBEKISTAN SIGN AGREEMENT. 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) UNEMPLOYMENT IN UZBEKISTAN AND MOLDAVIA. Moscow radio reported 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) MOLDAVIAN JOURNALISTS STAGE WARNING STRIKE. Journalists of the 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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