|To appreciate nonsense requires a serious interest in life. - Gelett Burgess|
No. 145, 01 August 1991
BALTIC STATES LITHUANIA MOURNS. With the July 31 attack on the Medininkai border post, Lithuania has witnessed the worst violence since January. The Lithuanian parliament will meet in an extraordinary session today (August 1) to discuss the "terrorist and repressive structures of the Soviet Union in Lithuania," Radio Independent Lithuania reported July 31. The Lithuanian Supreme Council Presidium condemned the attack as an escalation of the USSR's "aggressive actions" against Lithuania. The guards' funeral is scheduled for August 3, which the Presidium declared a national day of mourning. The Lithuanian government is offering a 500,000 ruble reward for bringing the killers to justice. There are conflicting reports as to whether a seventh victim has died. (GytisLiulevicius) LANDSBERGIS ON ATTACK. Speaking at a press conference in Vilnius on July 31, Lithuanian Supreme Council Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis called the Medininkai attack "a brutal act of coercion," Radio Independent Lithuania reported that day. Placing the attack in the context of the continuing violence Lithuania has experienced since January, Landsbergis drew attention to "the repeatedly occurring coincidence in the circumstances." Whenever the US "shows a greater benevolence" to the USSR, Landsbergis said, "the Baltic States, especially Lithuania, suffer blows from the Soviet armed forces." Landsbergis did not specifically accuse the OMON of complicity, but said that "this thought strikes every citizen of Lithuania." (Gytis Liulevicius) OMON DENIES INVOLVEMENT. According to a July 31 TASS report, USSR Interior Minister Boris Pugo denied that his OMON troops were involved in the attack, adding that he was "shocked to the depths of [his] heart by the tragedy." Pugo also pledged his ministry's support in investigating the attack. In Vilnius, an OMON spokesman claimed that all troops were in their barracks at the time of the killings, contradicting a Lithuanian report that an OMON vehicle had been spotted in the Medininkai area during the night of the attack. The OMON has been implicated in at least 25Lithuanian border post attacks in the past. (Gytis Liulevicius) BUSH AND GORBACHEV EXPRESS SYMPATHY. During a joint press conference in Moscow on July31, US President George Bush and USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev briefly addressed the Medininkai attack, TASS reported that day. Both leaders expressed their sympathy for the victims' families, and called for a peaceful settlement of differences. Gorbachev said that "we are making every effort to avoid such excesses." Bush threw his support behind Gorbachev's plans for an investigation, and hoped it would "lead to cooperation between Lithuania and Belorussia." An RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported that the Lithuanian-American Community called for a more forceful reaction, saying that Bush's comment makes the attack seem like a local ethnic dispute. (Gytis Liulevicius) YELTSIN CONDEMNS ATTACK, CALLS FOR OMON WITHDRAWAL. RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin also expressed sympathy for the victims' families, but went a step further, RIA reported July31. "To avoid possible future incidents, I insist that OMON subdivisions should be withdrawn from the Lithuanian republic," Yeltsin said, echoing a July 29 Lithuanian government statement demanding the same. Yeltsin said he called Landsbergis as soon as he heard about the attack, and promised to release another statement as soon as responsibility for the killings is established. Yeltsin called the attack "a crime which I sharply condemn." (Gytis Liulevicius) SOVIET PROSECUTOR CONDONES OMON VIOLENCE. In sharp contrast to the widespread condemnation in Latvia of OMON attacks and killings in the Baltics, Andris Reinieks, Deputy Prosecutor of the Latvian SSR (not to be confused with the Republic of Latvia prosecutor's office and its officials), said in Daugavpils that OMON actions against the customs posts and customs employees have been justified, reported Radio Riga on July31. He said that such measures on the part of OMON stemmed from a rightful desire to uphold Soviet laws which do not allow Baltic customs posts. Reinieks was speaking in Daugavpils, a stronghold of Soviet conservatism, where Latvians comprise less than 12% of the population. (Dzintra Bungs) ESTONIA CONDEMNS ATTACK. The Estonian Foreign Ministry condemned the July 31 attack on a Lithuanian economic border post that left 7border guards dead. The statement, released to RFE/RL on July 31, called for international observers to be stationed at Baltic-Soviet borders to prevent more attacks. The statement also blamed Soviet leaders for the attack, "whoever the initiators or attackers may have been," saying that Soviet leaders seem to be "incapable or unwilling to halt the provocations." The Estonian Foreign Ministry also expressed condolences to the families of the men killed in the attack. (Riina Kionka) NO INTRA-BALTIC BORDER PROBLEMS. Recent discussions among Baltic border experts suggest that the three Baltic States are agreed in their approach to common borders. Estonian and Latvian border experts meeting this week in Tallinn, for instance, told reporters that under a future agreement, the Estonian-Latvian frontier will be open for citizens of those two states, and that arrangements would be made for others transiting the border, Paevaleht reported on July 26. Chief Expert of the Latvian Bureau of Public Safety Vilnis Zvaigzne said that Latvia would conclude separate state-level agreements to govern each of its four foreign borders, adding that each border is different. During the 1930s, Zvaigzne noted, 47officials worked at the Estonian-Latvian border, while some 900 were posted at Latvia's border with the USSR. The Tallinn discussions this week suggest that intra-Baltic border disputes are not responsible for recent attacks on those and other borders. (Riina Kionka) BALTIC FOREIGN MINISTERS REQUEST MEETING WITH BAKER. Radio Riga reported on July 31 that Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian ministers of foreign affairs have requested a meeting with US Secretary of State James Baker. They would like to discuss the impact on the Baltics of the MFN status that the United States has granted the Soviet Union, and other issues. (Dzintra Bungs) SOVIET FOREIGN MINISTRY SAYS LITHUANIAN RECOGNITION INVALID. The USSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement July 31 declaring Lithuania's recognition of Croatia and Slovenia July 30 (see Daily Report, July 31) invalid, TASS reported July 31. The statement said that Lithuania's recognition cannot have any legal effect, insofar as Lithuania has no separate status according to international law. (Sallie Wise) COST OF LIVING RISES IN ESTONIA. It costs over three times more to live in Estonia this year than last, according to the Estonian Statistics Bureau. The cost of living index for the second quarter of 1991 rose 3.4 times over the fourth quarter of 1989. Consumer goods and services prices in the second quarter of 1991 rose 1.3 times that of this year's first quarter, and 2.7 times that of the second quarter of 1990. The statistics were reported in Paevaleht on July 26. (Riina Kionka) ESTONIA SETS OWN RUBLE RATE. Estonia has set its own ruble exchange rate at 33 rubles to the dollar, USSR Radio reported on July 29. The internal exchange rate, which effectively devalues the currency within Estonia, is intended to attract a greater share of the Soviet export transit business to its ports. The official Soviet exchange rate is just over 27 rubles to the dollar for foreign transactions. (Riina Kionka) LATVIA KEEPS DISTANCE FROM CONVERTIBLE RUBLE. Diena reported on July 24 that, according to Latvian government counsellor A. Plotkans, Latvia will not take part in the Soviet program to make the ruble convertible by January 1992. Plotkans said that like Lithuania, Latvia has little confidence in the program, but would participate as an observer of the proceedings. Reportedly by January 1992, payments and deals in hard currency between Soviet enterprises and institutions would be stopped; moreover, all enterprises receiving income in hard currency would have to sell the hard currency to the state. (Dzintra Bungs) TWO PRINTING PRESSES ARRIVE IN RIGA. Two printing presses--one from Indianapolis, the other from Denmark--have arrived in Riga. Radio Riga noted on July 31 that the two presses, after they are set up, will help ease the publication of newspapers in Latvia; nonetheless, other problems still exist, including the shortage of affordable newsprint. (Dzintra Bungs) SWEDISH, FINNISH HELP FOR BALTIC TELEPHONE SYSTEMS. Businessmen and tourists with mobile telephones can now use them in Tallinn and Riga, according to Western agency reports of July 31. The new systems are being operated by Finnish and Swedish companies. A temporary link from Riga to Finland's mobile telephone center was set up recently. In Tallinn the system was established earlier this year by the Finnish Tele Company and the Swedish Telecom International. That system covers Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark. (Dzintra Bungs) USSR--ALL-UNION TOPICS SUMMIT CONCLUDES WITH JOINT EFFORTS ON MIDEAST SETTLEMENT. Presidents Bush and Gorbachev yesterday (July 31) wrapped up their two-day summit by signing the START treaty and discussing prospects for future cooperation, stressing the transition in US-Soviet relations from confrontation to cooperation. To underline their declared partnership in international affairs, Bush and Gorbachev issued several joint statements on regional conflicts. Citing an "historic opportunity" for peace in the Middle East, they announced that the US and the USSR would act as "co-initiators" in trying to bring about a Mideast peace conference in October. They said that Foreign Minister Aleksandr Bessmertnykh and Secretary of State Baker would work to prepare such a conference. Bessmertnykh reportedly said last night that he intends to travel to Israel soon with the intention of restoring full diplomatic relations. TASS and Western media provided extensive coverage of the summit on July 31. (Sallie Wise) US, USSR CONDEMN VIOLENCE IN YUGOSLAVIA. Bush and Gorbachev agreed on a statement on the situation in Yugoslavia, which TASS issued July 31. It expressed the US's and USSR's "deep concern" over the dramatic events in Yugoslavia, condemned the use of force to settle political disputes, and called upon all sides to observe a ceasefire. The statement stressed that a solution must be found "by the peoples of Yugoslavia themselves, on the basis of democratic principles, by a process of peaceful negotiations and constructive dialogue." Finally , it called on all sides to respect the principles established in the Helsinki accords and the Paris charter for a new Europe. (Sallie Wise) US-SOVIET DECLARATION ON CENTRAL AMERICA. The summit also produced a declaration on US-Soviet cooperation in Central America, TASS reported July 31. The document said that Baker and Bessmertnykh have noted "positive tendencies" toward the resolution of regional conflicts in Central America, and that Soviet-American cooperation there has enhanced stability in Latin America. The two ministers urged the UN and other international organizations, as well as countries in the region, including Cuba, to act to resolve remaining political problems. They specifically called for a ceasefire and a definitive settlement in El Salvador. (Sallie Wise) LAMONT ARRIVES IN MOSCOW. Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer, Norman Lamont, arrived in Moscow yesterday (July 31) for a four-day visit, TASS reported the same day. TASS said Lamont's trip is the first in a series of visits by Western finance ministers in accordance with an agreement reached during Gorbachev's talks at the G-7 summit. Lamont is scheduled to meet Gorbachev and a number of all-Union and republic officials, as well as Soviet businessmen. He will also visit enterprises and commercial centers, and will travel to Kiev at the end of his stay. As quoted by TASS, Lamont told the BBC that his aim is to acquaint himself with the situation in the USSR. He reportedly stressed the importance of integrating the USSR into the world economic system, but ruled out any immediate Western aid. (Sallie Wise) BID TO EXPEL YAKOVLEV FROM CPSU FAILS. Radio Rossii reported on July 30 that, according to the newspaper Nezavisimaya gazeta, there was an attempt on the second day of last week's Central Committee plenum to expel Aleksandr Yakovlev from the CPSU. The question was put to a vote but only 10 members of the Central Committee are reported to have voted in favor and the motion was defeated. (Elizabeth Teague) NEW CPSU SECRETARY SPEAKS OUT. Vladimir Kalashnikov, who was elected a CPSU Secretary at last week's Central Committee plenum, told TASS on July 31 that he will be dealing with "ideological problems." Kalashnikov said he favors a mixed economy and market relations but with the state strongly oriented toward defending workers' interests. He defined socialism as "a society of social equality, in which man's condition depends on the results of his work." (Dawn Mann) MORE MONEY NEEDED FOR THE ENVIRONMENT. The USSR Minister for Environmental Protection, Nikolai Vorontsov, told Pravitel'stvennyi vestnik July 30, cited by TASS of the same date, that his ministry needs 80 billion rubles annually just to maintain the ecological balance. More funds would be required to resolve existing problems in areas of ecological catastrophe. In contrast, less than 12 billion rubles were actually allocated for environmental protection in 1990. (Keith Bush) SOVIET-JAPANESE CONVERSION PANEL? The deputy director general of MITI's International Trade Policy Bureau told a press conference on July 30 that Japan is considering a Soviet proposal to set up a joint panel to study the conversion of defense industries to civilian production, Western agencies reported that day. The USSR did not, he reported, ask for funding for this panel. Instead, the official suggested, Moscow would raise the $30-40 billion required for conversion by setting aside 3% of the income it derives from selling civilian and military goods. (Keith Bush) NEW UNEMPLOYMENT ESTIMATES. The existence of unemployment in the USSR was officially acknowledged, and registration of the unemployed commenced, on July 1. To date, no authoritative data for the number of unemployed have been released, but an APN dispatch of July 30 gives some preliminary estimates. The initial total of unemployed is expected to be below 2 million, or 1.5% of the labor force of around 135million. The number of people out of work is expected to grow to 3-3.5 million in the fall, including those on public works programs. (It should be noted that the APN estimates are considerably below those offered by most Soviet and Western specialists. Much will depend upon the criteria used in classifying unemployment). (Keith Bush) SAMOGON AND THE SECOND ECONOMY. The value of black market operations--otherwise known as the second economy--in the USSR in 1990, according to the Russian News Agency as cited by APN on July 25, was 99.8 billion rubles (against a GNP of just under one trillion or 1,000 billion rubles that year). Profits from the production and sale of home-made vodka (samogon) accounted or an estimated 35 billion rubles that year. (Keith Bush) APPLE TO ENTER SOVIET COMPUTER MARKET. The US computer company, Apple, plans to enter the personal computer market in the USSR, Western news agencies reported July29. Apple's director Greg Borovsky said that, as of October, the company will be offering a Russian-language Macintosh PC at a base price of around $1,050. (This is about the same price as a similar model sold in the USA; Apple plans to charge hard currency for its products sold in the USSR.) At present, Apple lags behind IBM and other big computer-makers in entering the Soviet market. IBM has an office in Moscow and most Russian-language computers sold in the USSR are IBM or IBM-compatible models. Borovsky says Apple plans to launch a massive advertising campaign in September to try to narrow the gap. The main pitch will be to Soviet newspaper publishers. Borovsky said even Pravda has expressed interest in buying Apple computers. (Elizabeth Teague) ALTERNATIVE SERVICE DISCUSSED. Yurii Rosenbaum, a noted expert on legislation and a member of the Committee for Human Rights, discussed the problem of alternative service in Argumenty i fakty, No. 28. Rosenbaum reviewed the changes in Soviet laws regarding the right to refuse military service for religious convictions since the October revolution and concluded that "alternative service is knocking at our door." (Oxana Antic) USSR--IN THE REPUBLICS UKRAINIAN OPPOSITION ON BUSH VISIT TO KIEV. A press conference called yesterday by "Rukh" and the People's Council, which groups the opposition in the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet, warned that President Bush's visit to Kiev today could contribute to agitation in favor of signing the Union treaty, Ukrinform-TASS reported July 31. Ukrainian opposition leaders also expressed regret that the American president would not meet with representatives of the opposition. (Roman Solchanyk) NEW VIOLENCE IN AZERBAIJAN. Seven Azerbaijani OMON members and two civilians were killed July 29 in fighting in the Armenian village of Erkech on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, TASS reported July 31, quoting Armenian officials. Ten other persons were wounded. Also July 31, fifteen people were killed in an explosion on a train travelling from Moscow to Baku. The explosion occurred approximately 40kilometers from Makhachkala in Daghestan; an Azerbaijani official has accused Armenian militants of planting a bomb on the train. (Liz Fuller) SECOND CANDIDATE FOR AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. The 45 year old oriental philologist Zardusht Alizade, who was nominated as a candidate for the Azerbaijani presidential elections two weeks ago by the Social-Democratic group of which he is a leader, has been officially registered as a candidate, TASS reported July 31. Alizade is the only challenger to date to the current incumbent, Ayaz Mutalibov. The Social-Democratic Group is an offshoot from the Azerbaijan Popular Front, from which it dissociated itself following the involvement of the radical wing of that organization in the anti-Armenian pogroms in Baku in January, 1990. (Liz Fuller) RETAIL PRICES IN MOSCOW. The good news is that prices in Moscow are currently stabilizing; indeed, the prices of some staple food stuffs are actually declining from their June peaks. The bad news is that prices may well rise again in October or November. This is the gist of the message from Vladimir Shprygin, the director of the Center for Price and Market Research Policy in Moscow that appears in the latest issue of Moskovskie novosti, as cited by APN July 29. The steep increases in the retail prices of food items have changed the patterns of consumption. Shprygin reckons that people in the middle income bracket spend up to 70% of their pay on food, while those in the lower income bracket spend as much as 85%. (Keith Bush) ZASLAVSKY APPOINTED ADVISER TO POPOV. A prominent member of "Democratic Russia," former chairman of the Oktyabrsky raion soviet, Ilya Zaslavsky, has become an adviser to Moscow Mayor Gavriil Popov (Authors' Television, July28). (Julia Wishnevsky) CUSTOMS POSTS ON MOLDAVIAN-UKRAINIAN FRONTIER. The government of Moldavia has decided to set up 25 customs posts on the Moldavian-Ukrainian frontier to control the export of agricultural products and consumer goods, TSN reported July 31. TASS reported the same day that, because of the torrential rain earlier in the summer, the Moldavian grain harvest was expected to be little more than 1.2million tons, which is much lower than expected. The government had therefore banned the trading of agricultural produce on the exchange and its export from the republic, except for deliveries to all-Union consumers and under inter-republican agreements, until state orders were fulfilled. (Ann Sheehy) FIRST INDEPENDENT TURKIC JOURNAL FOUNDED. The July 11 issue of Kazakh-stanskaya pravda reports the appearance in Baku of the first issue of Turk dunyasi (The Turkic World), the first independent journal for the Turkic peoples of the USSR. The journal is published in Baku in Azeri and Russian, in Istanbul in Turkish, and in Frankfurt am Main in German, English and French; a member of its editorial council said that it already has correspondents in several towns with Turkic-speaking populations. Chairman of the editorial council is Kazakh poet and political activist Olzhas Suleimenov. The journal is to focus on the history and culture of the Turkic peoples and current social and political issues. (Bess Brown) KOMSOMOL'SKAYA PRAVDA ACCUSED OF MISINFORMATION. Radio Mayak reported on July30 that the presidium of Uzbekistan's Supreme Soviet has accused Komsomol'skaya pravda of contributing to the destabilization of the republic by publishing an article claiming that publicist and Supreme Soviet deputy Erkin Vahidov was the target of an assassination attempt. Authorities in Uzbekistan are still angry at the progressive daily for claiming that the head of the Muslim Religious Board for Central Asia was dislodged from his post--the attempt was made, but it was apparently unsuccessful. (Bess Brown)
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