|Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov|
No. 144, 31 July 1991
BALTIC STATES VIOLENT NIGHT IN LITHUANIA. Six dead and two injured Lithuanian border guards were found at the Medininkai customs post on the Belorussian border early this morning (July 31), Radio Independent Lithuania reported. Travelers passing through the post at 5:00 a.m.discovered the guards, apparently victims of an armed attack. The Lithuanian prosecutor's office is currently investigating. In another incident, a bomb exploded outside a Soviet army building in Vilnius at 2:50a.m.this morning. No injuries were reported in the blast, which shattered some windows in the area. (Gytis Liulevicius) LITHUANIA DEMANDS WITHDRAWAL OF OMON. The Lithuanian government called on the USSR to take "decisive measures to halt the illegal actions of OMON divisions on Lithuanian territory," Radio Independent Lithuania reported July 30. The July29 statement demanded that the USSR either disband the OMON or withdraw it from Lithuania. OMON units attacked the Salociai customs post near Latvia twice on July 28, bringing the total number of OMON-inspired border incidents in Lithuania to25. The Lithuanian government accused the USSR and its Interior Ministry of "not taking any concrete actions" to control the OMON. (Gytis Liulevicius) LITHUANIA RECOGNIZES SLOVENIA AND CROATIA. In a resolution adopted July 30, the Lithuanian parliament recognized the "independent republics of Slovenia and Croatia," Radio Independent Lithuania reported July 31. "The legal aspirations of these republics are an expression of the sovereign will of their people," the resolution read, empowering the Lithuanian government to "establish relations with the governments" of Slovenia and Croatia. The resolution drew parallels between the Baltic and Balkan independence drives, formalizing earlier Lithuanian declarations of support for Slovenia and Croatia. (Gytis Liulevicius) BUSH ON BALTICS. In his speech to the Moscow State Institute for International Relations on July30, US President George Bush raised the Baltic issue as an obstacle to further improvement of US-USSR relations, an RFE/RL correspondent in Moscow reported that day. According to Bush, "only good-faith negotiations with the Baltic governments can address the yearnings of their people to be free." The brief remark followed Bush's announcement of plans to extend MFN status to the USSR, which may be complicated by Senator Bill Bradley's intention to introduce a bill requesting separate MFN status for the Baltic States, reactivating existing treaties concluded in the 1920s. (Gytis Liulevicius) BUSH, YELTSIN AGREE ON BALTIC POLICY. RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin said last night (July30) that he and Bush share the same policy on the Baltic States. In an interview with CNN, Yeltsin said he was pleased that he and Bush concur, and that it was very unfortunate that USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev pursues a different policy on the Baltics. (Sallie Wise) GERMAN HELP FOR LATVIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE. During a recent visit to Riga, representatives of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the city of Hagen in Westphalia offered their expertise to improve the structure and operation of the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, reported Diena of July 30. Robert Dick, president of the Hagen organization, also expressed interest in greater economic cooperation between Germany and Latvia. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIAN POLICEMEN TO GET TRAINING IN CANADA. Latvian policemen are to get additional training in Canada. This agreement was reached between Canadian representative David Warnerand Latvian officials, according to Diena of July 30. Warner, speaker of the Ontario Provincial Parliament, is visiting Latvia this week. (Dzintra Bungs) POLITICAL PARTIES IN LATVIA. According to the latest issue (No. 16) of Awakening, the English-language publication of the weekly newspaper Atmoda, there are nine political parties in Latvia: Communist Party (126,000 members), Democratic Labor Party (7,100 members), Social Democratic Workers Party (800), Liberal Party (100), Rebirth Party (100 members), Republican Party (membership figure not available), Farmers' Union (400), and the Free Citizens' Conservative Party (200). The membership figures are approximate. Except for the Latvian Communist Party, which is a branch of the CPSU, all other parties support Latvia's independence. Not included on the list are three important political organizations also advocating independence: the People's Front of Latvia, Latvia's National Independence Movement, and the Citizens' Congress. (Dzintra Bungs) USSR--ALL-UNION TOPICS SUMMIT CONTINUES. The first day of talks between US President Bush and Soviet President Gorbachev July 30 yielded few surprises, as reported by TASS and Western media. Both presidents were upbeat about the "new age" in US-Soviet relations. Economic concerns appear to have predominated the talks. In a speech at a Kremlin banquet last night, Gorbachev appealed for still more economic assistance to the USSR. This morning (July 31), Bush told a group of Soviet and US businessmen that the US wants to expand economic cooperation with the USSR. The two presidents today are scheduled to sign the START treaty and to discuss the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Cuba. (SallieWise) YELTSIN MEETS BUSH SEPARATELY. It was RSFSR President Yeltsin who provided the surprise yesterday. He did not appear as planned for a meeting and working lunch as part of the Soviet delegation, and instead met with Bush later as RSFSR President in his Kremlin office. An RSFSR government spokesman said Yeltsin had informed Gorbachev the previous evening that he preferred to meet Bush on those terms; Igor Malashenko, deputy spokesman to Gorbachev, played down Yeltsin's absence from the joint meeting. After meeting Bush, Yeltsin announced that the RSFSR intends to establish formal links with the US, to be spelled out in a document to be signed after the Union treaty is signed, Western agencies reported July 30. Yeltsin did attend the Kremlin banquet last evening, as did Eduard Shevardnadze. (Sallie Wise) BAKER, BESSMERTNYKH SIGN BILATERAL AGREEMENTS. US Secretary of State James Baker and Soviet Foreign Minister Aleksandr Bessmertnykh yesterday signed several agreements expanding bilateral US-Soviet cooperation, RFE/RL's correspondent in Moscow reported July 30. Among the agreements are a protocol on technical and economic exchange, a memorandum of understanding on disaster relief, a memorandum on security cooperation to prevent hijacking and terrorism in aviation, an agreement on assistance in housing development, and another agreement on medical emergencies. According to Western agencies, the protocol on technical economic cooperation would permit the US to extend aid to Soviet republics as well as to the central government. (Sallie Wise) BUSH PROMISES MOVEMENT ON MFN. During his speech to the Moscow State Institute for International Relations on July 30, Bush announced that, upon his return to Washington, he will ask the US Congress to approve the US-Soviet trade agreement that was initially signed in 1990. This would pave the way for granting most favored nation trade status to the Soviet Union, a step delayed until an acceptable emigration law was passed by the USSR Supreme Soviet and by a dispute over intellectual property rights. (Keith Bush) BUSH CALLS FOR RETURN OF KURILES. Before his first round of talks with Gorbachev on July 30, Bush noted that Moscow's territorial dispute with Tokyo "could hamper [Soviet] integration into the world economy." Later in the day, in a speech to the Moscow State Institute for International Relations, Bush referred to "conflicts and quarrels rooted in a world war fought 50 years ago . . . disputes like Japan's claim, which we support, for the return of the northern territories," Bush said. Bush's comments were headline news in Japan on July 31. (Suzanne Crow) AND REDUCED AID TO CUBA. In the same speech to the International Relations Institute, Bush said: "the United States poses no threat to Cuba, therefore, there is no need for the Soviet Union to funnel millions of dollars in military aid to Cuba, especially since a defiant Castro, isolated by his own obsolete totalitarianism, denies his people any move toward democracy. Castro does not share your faith in glasnost'. Castro does not share your faith in perestroika," Bush said. (Suzanne Crow) GORBACHEV AND YELTSIN REACH COMPROMISE ON TAXATION. The last major obstacle to the RSFSR's signing the Union treaty was removed on the night of July 29-30 when Gorbachev, Yeltsin, and Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbaev agreed to a compromise on the question of taxation, Western media reported July 30, citing Interfax and the Russian Information Agency. Gorbachev yielded to Yeltsin's insistence that all taxes should be paid to the republics, rather than some taxes being paid directly to the center. At the same time, Yeltsin conceded that a fixed percentage of the taxes should be paid to the center rather than a lump sum, as he had earlier demanded. It is not clear from the reports how this percentage will be decided. The compromise is clearly a setback for Gorbachev, who had been insisting on federal taxes, and may not be welcomed by some of the Central Asian republics who depend on subsidies from the central budget. (Ann Sheehy) WILL UNION TREATY BE SIGNED IN AUGUST? Yeltsin has been cited as saying that he is now ready to sign the Union treaty tomorrow, and in a Radio Rossii interview on July 30 he referred to a start being made on signing the treaty in August. However, when the RSFSR Supreme Soviet agreed at Yeltsin's urging to endorse the draft in early July, it insisted that the RSFSR should not sign the treaty until the RSFSR Supreme Soviet had voted on it again, and the next session of the Supreme Soviet is not scheduled until the fall. (Ann Sheehy) HINTS ON TIES WITH ISRAEL. Soviet Foreign Minister Aleksandr Bessmertnykh said on July 30 that speedy recognition of Israel by the USSR depends on success in convening a Middle East peace conference. The day before, the USSR stressed that the conference should be held before the end of the year to avoid losing momentum. The USSR restored consular ties with Israel in 1990. (Suzanne Crow) PRAVDA COMMENT ON MIDEAST. A Pravda commentary of July 30 praised US work toward convening Mideast peace talks and said it has "long been time to talk to all the countries of the Middle East without any exceptions." The commentary also criticized the Palestinian Liberation Organization for "having miscalculated badly by their uninhibited 'romance' with Baghdad," Western agencies reported July 30. (Suzanne Crow) YAZOV ON MISSILES. Defense Minister Dmitrii Yazov said in a Novosti interview published in Bratislava Pravda (July 26) that "the American press, apparently in a quest for sensation, reported that these missiles 'must have been fitted with Soviet nuclear warheads after the treaty was signed.' The authors of this lie did not even bother to consider the fact that the USSR strictly abides by the nuclear arms nonproliferation treaty and therefore could not, nor did it ever attempt, to offer nuclear weapons to other states." Yazov did not address the issue of Soviet failure to inform the US of the presence of SS-23 launchers in East European countries. (Suzanne Crow) GOSBANK TIGHTENS MONEY SUPPLY. The USSR Gosbank has introduced measures to tighten the money supply, according to Interfax of July 30 as reported by Western agencies that day. The central bank disclosed that the money supply had risen by 41.6% during the first half of 1991, and the budget deficit had grown to 60 billion rubles, i.e., roughly twice the planned level. Most of the money in circulation was being used to repay the national debt of around 800 billion rubles, while only one third of the amount was utilized for new lending. The bank was reported to have limited the interest rate on credits for financing the budget deficit to 6% and to place a ceiling of 600 billion rubles on credits intended to finance medium- and long-term debt. (Keith Bush) PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAMS INITIATED. The USSR Cabinet of Ministers has issued a decree on the organization of public works programs for the unemployed, TASS reported July 30. Contracts will be concluded with enterprises on a two-month basis with the possibility of extension. Public works projects will be financed by local authorities or, if necessary, through state subsidies. Among the types of jobs listed are those in construction, a whole range of agricultural operations, and care of invalids and the elderly. The decree is part of a package of measures connected with the recognition of, and dealing with, unemployment with effect from July 1. (Keith Bush) ANOTHER FORECAST OF BUDGET DEFICIT. The budget deficit in 1991 is expected to reach 172billion rubles. This is one of the projections made concerning Soviet economic performance this year by a team at the Institute of National Economic Forecasts, as reported by APN July 26. The specialists rule out a catastrophe and even forecast a "shaky balance" in the nation's economy, albeit with growing structural instability and a considerable inflationary potential (quantified at 258 billion rubles "in the sphere of consumption"). The limited stabilization is predicated on the adoption of "an effective anti-crisis mechanism of economic management." The APN item does not explain whether this refers to the new, improved Pavlovian program. (Keith Bush) FREE RIDES ON MOSCOW METRO TODAY. Muscovites will be able to ride the subway for free today (July 31), thanks to the 3M company, TASS reported July 30. TASS quoted Izvestia of that day as saying that in return, 3M will be allowed to broadcast advertisements through the metro's loudspeakers all day. The company reportedly plans to "buy" two more days before the end of this year. (Sallie Wise) USSR--IN THE REPUBLICS ECONOMIST APPOINTED YELTSIN'S PRESS SECRETARY. As cited by Radio Rossii on July 20, Pavel Voshchanov has been appointed press secretary to Yeltsin. Voshchanov, who was born in 1948 and graduated from the Tashkent Institute of the National Economy, has worked in the scientific research institute of the USSR State Construction Committee, in the Institute of Economics of the USSR Academy of Sciences, and as a journalist for Komsomol'skaya pravda. According to Radio Rossii, Voshchanov has been closely associated with Yeltsin since 1985 (probably, that is, since Yeltsin's stint in April-December 1985 as head of the CPSU Central Committee Construction Department.) Voshchanov, who was elected to the RSFSR Congress of People's Deputies in 1990, appears to be replacing Valentina Lantseva as Yeltsin's press secretary; it is not known whether Lantseva has a new assignment on the Yeltsin team. (Elizabeth Teague) STANKEVICH NAMED YELTSIN ADVISER. Sergei Stankevich, former deputy chairman of the Moscow city soviet, has been appointed a state adviser to the RSFSR President, Vesti reported July 30. (Sallie Wise) YELTSIN SAYS HIS DECREE DIVERTED CONSERVATIVES. Yeltsin was cited by Interfax July 30 as saying he timed the publication of his decree banning the Communist Party from workplaces in the Russian Republic deliberately, in order to help Gorbachev ward off conservative opposition. Yeltsin said he helped divert "the thrust of the reactionaries" at last week's plenum of the CPSU Central Committee. Conservatives at that plenum urged Gorbachev to overrule Yeltsin's decree, which had been announced five days earlier, but Gorbachev has not yet obeyed. Yeltsin said he doubts Gorbachev will do so since it could destroy a "certain stability in our relationship." (Elizabeth Teague) DEPARTIFICATION DECREE MAY INCREASE EXODUS FROM PARTY. First Secretary of the Novosibirsk oblast Party committee Vladimir Mindolin, one of the architects of the pre-plenum anti-Gorbachev campaign, told TASS on July 30 that up to half of the oblast's CP members may leave the Party after Yeltsin's departification decree takes effect. A district secretary predicted that two-thirds of the local Communists would quit the Party; neither explained why. Mindolin said the Party's task now is to form cells based on profession, age, and other criteria. (Dawn Mann) MEMBER OF RCP POLITBURO COMPLAINS OF "FASCIST DECREE." Gennadii Zyuganov, chief ideologist of the RSFSR CP, said in an interview with RSFSR television July 30 that he had studied the laws of many countries and concluded that only fascist dictatorships, not democratic countries, have laws like Yeltsin's decree on "departification." Apparently Zyuganov did not understand that the decree bans Party cells only from the workplace, since he wrongly claimed that it bans political activities altogether. Zyuganov acknowledged that Yeltsin's decree came as no surprise to him, since Yeltsin had promised to issue such a decree more than once during his campaign for the post of RSFSR president. He promised that the RSFSR CP will not obstruct the decree. (Julia Wishnevsky) "DEPARTIFICATION": WHERE TO INFORM ON ADULTERY? An amusing illustration of possible ramifications of Yeltsin's decree on "departification" appeared among letters to the editor of Trud (July25). In the past, wrote a woman from Ivanovo, "if I noticed a husband or a wife distracted aside for intimate relations, I always threatened [the man or woman in question] with a [primary] Party committee." Such a threat, the letter writer testified, had its effect--i.e., it preserved many families. Today, the woman complained bitterly, she has nowhere to turn "in order to fight sexual perversions [to ensure] the purity of morality," because no one in the Soviet Union is afraid of the Party committees any more. (Julia Wishnevsky) "DEMOCRATS" UP IN ARMS AGAINST "DEMOCRATIC" MAYOR. Vesti reported July 30 on a rally organized near the Moscow City headquarters by that backbone of the "Democratic Russia" movement, the Voters Club of the USSR Academy of Sciences. The demonstrators protested against an appointment by Mayor Gavriil Popov of one of his deputies, Boris Nikol'sky. (Nikol'sky, then the second secretary of the Georgian CP, is believed to have been primarily responsible for the Tbilisi massacre of April 1989. Moreover, he was singled out by none other than Popov's close associate, Leningrad Mayor Anatolii Sobchak, who chaired the parliamentary commission investigating the massacre.) The rally of the Voters' Club was not the first occasion when activists of "Democratic Russia" rallied against Popov's appointment of discredited CPSU officials to crucial positions in the Moscow administration (see also Kuranty, July 11, Nezavisimaya gazeta, July 9). Popov (who is a co-chairman of "Democratic Russia") justifies his choices by pointing out that the appointments are not political ones and that these people, such as Nikol'sky, proved to be good economic managers. (Julia Wishnevsky) RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH AND CONGRESS OF COMPATRIOTS. Radio Rossii reported on July 30 that a festive church service in the Kremlin's Uspenskii cathedral will be held at the beginning of the International Congress of Compatriots on August 19. The organizing committee of the congress sent out about 800 invitations to members of famous Russian families now living abroad. A roundtable talk of scientists, Russian cultural representatives, and Orthodox clergy is planned at the congress. (Oxana Antic) MOSQUES OPENED IN DAGESTAN. In the last two years over 300 mosques and prayer-houses, closed in the 1930s, have been restored and returned to believers in Dagestan, TASS reported July 30. In many villages officially-registered Muslim religious communities are once again functioning. (Ann Sheehy) GEORGIAN PRESIDENT RECEIVES NEW POWERS, APPEALS TO BUSH. Moscow Radio reported July 30 that the Georgian Supreme Soviet had amended the Georgian Constitution to give the republic's president the power to suspend legislation enacted by the Supreme Soviets of Georgia's autonomous republics that is at variance with the Georgian Constitution. Also July 30, the Georgian Presidential press service released to RFE/RL a copy of a letter from Gamsakhurdia to US President Bush requesting that the US take a stand against what are termed Soviet government "provocations" in the form of small scale military incidents against Georgia. (Liz Fuller) GEORGIAN SUPREME SOVIET WANTS TALKS WITH MOSCOW. TASS reported July 30 that the Georgian Supreme Soviet has sent a letter to the USSR Supreme Soviet affirming Georgia's readiness for talks with the Soviet leadership on mutual relations. (Liz Fuller) MESKHETIANS DEMAND RIGHT TO RETURN TO GEORGIA. Western news agencies reported from Moscow July 30 that up to 1,000 Meskhetians -- the Muslim ethnic Georgians deported by Stalin from their homeland in southern Georgia in November 1944 -- demonstrated outside the Kremlin July 30 in the hope of bringing their plight to Bush's attention. Many Meskhetians fled Uzbekistan following the violence of 1989, but have not been allowed to resettle in Georgia. Vremya July 30 quoted a Georgian presidential decree permitting Georgians made homeless in the April30 earthquake to settle in the raions formerly populated by Meskhetians. (Liz Fuller) ARMENIA DENIES MOBILIZATION REPORT. TASS July 30 quoted the Armenian news agency Armenpress as stating that an appeal to Armenian youth broadcast July 28 (see Daily Report, July 29) was not the call for mobilization it had been interpreted as by the Soviet central media, but merely a request that young men register in their home raions if they would be willing to serve in self-defense units should the need arise. (Liz Fuller) "RUKH" AND THE BUSH VISIT. President Bush's visit to Kiev tomorrow (August 1), the first by a US president in 19 years, is being acclaimed in the Ukrainian media as a further step in the development of Ukrainian sovereignty. At the same time, according to a Radio Kiev report on July 30, the democratic opposition in the republic is planning to protest the possibility that President Bush might use the occasion to express his support for a speedy conclusion of the new Union treaty. (Roman Solchanyk) NUMBER OF EMIGRANTS FROM MOLDAVIA UP. The authorities in Moldavia this year have issued more than 10,000 exit visas for permanent residence abroad, TASS reported July 30. This is more than double the figures for the same period last year. Over 9,000 were for Israel, more than 300 for the US, and about 200 for Germany. Moldavian experts are said to be concerned at the growth in emigration, but have so far found no way of halting it. (Ann Sheehy) OPPOSITION TO MOLDAVIAN LAW ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT. Implementation of the law on local government recently adopted by the Moldavian parliament is encountering serious difficulties, TASS reported July 30. In southern raions inhabited by Gagauz and Bulgarians and in the predominantly Russian-speaking Dniester area, the new law is seen as a dismantling of Soviet power, according to TASS. Deputies and the local population say that the law turns the soviets into purely advisory bodies while strengthening vertical executive power not subject to the soviets. (Ann Sheehy) MOLDAVIAN GREENS PUBLISHING JOURNAL. The "Green" movement in Moldavia and the republican Department for the Protection of the Environment and Natural Resources are to publish a weekly, Abe natura, devoted to ecological problems, Novosti reported July 30. One of their main concerns is the state of the Dniester river, which is still suffering from the effects of the discharge of hundreds of tons of chemical fertilizers into its waters seven years ago. The editorial board will organize expeditions to particularly badly affected areas, but will also seek decisions at the government level since cooperation with both Ukraine and Romania will be necessary. (Ann Sheehy)
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