|The absence of alternatives clears the mind marvelously. - Henry Kissinger|
No. 148, 06 August 1991
BALTIC STATES LANDSBERGIS SENDS TELEGRAM TO GORBACHEV. Lithuanian Supreme Council Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis called for urgent talks with USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev in an August 5 telegram, Radio Independent Lithuania reported August 6. "Mr. President, we don't have much time," the telegram read, "the OMON must be withdrawn without delay, and we must meet." Landsbergis warned that "terrorists will continue to kill and events will become unpredictable." Landsbergis told Gorbachev: "I cannot believe that this is what you want." (Gytis Liulevicius) KGB ACCUSED OF LITHUANIAN KILLINGS. "Shield" [shchit], an organization of Soviet military officers, holds the KGB responsible for the Medininkai border post killings, Russian TV reported August 5. According to a statement circulated that day, "Shield" said that a preliminary investigation by independent military experts showed KGB involvement in "planning and leading the operation" at Medininkai. "Shield" called for "an international commission of experts" to carry out an objective investigation of the crime. "Shield"'s findings add another facet to the ongoing efforts to establish the attackers' identity. Previous suspicions have focused on the OMON. (Gytis Liulevicius) LITHUANIAN SURVIVOR REGAINS CONSCIOUSNESS. An American army neurosurgeon from Germany operated on Tomas Sernas, the sole survivor among the 8 officials shot at the Medininkai customs post on July 31, Radio Independent Lithuania reported on August 5. Sernas has regained consciousness after the operation but "tires very easily" and has not yet been able to give more information on the attack. He had been transferred from a hospital in Vilnius to Kaunas for greater security. (Saulius Girnius) CLARIFICATION OF BALTIC MFN STATUS. White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater told an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington August 5 that The Journal of Commerce had erroneously written that US President George Bush had asked for separate most favored nation (MFN) status for the Baltic States (see Daily Report, August 5). Fitzwater said that Bush wanted the MFN status for the whole USSR and had mentioned the Balts in his message to the Congress to make clear that the extension of the MFN to the USSR "does not imply any political recognition of their incorporation into the Soviet Union." Senator Bill Bradley (D-New Jersey) has introduced legislation seeking separate MFN status for the Balts. (Saulius Girnius) US DIPLOMATS: BALTIC AID TO BE CHANNELED SEPARETELY. Radio Riga reported on August 5 that earlier that day two US Consular officers met with Latvian Supreme Council Chairman Anatolijs Gorbunovs in Riga. Jack Gosnell, US Consul General in Leningrad, assured the Latvian leader that a part of US aid to the USSR would be channeled separately to the Baltics. Gorbunovs asked for separate and distinct trade relations between the United States and Latvia. Gorbunovs and the American diplomats also discussed opening a US trade office in Riga. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIAN-USSR CONSULTATIONS POSTPONED AGAIN. In his opening speech of the plenary session of the third convocation of Latvian Supreme Council today (August 6), Gorbunovs said that the Latvian-USSR consultations have been postponed again. He did not elaborate, but indicated that the fault lies with the Soviet side and said that Latvia still would seek to continue the consultations with a view to using them as preparations for Latvian-USSR negotiations. (Dzintra Bungs) ESTONIAN-USSR TALKS ALSO POSTPONED AGAIN. Preparatory consultations--intended to lead to independence negotiations--between the Estonian and Soviet delegations scheduled for today (August 6) have been postponed, Rahva Haal reported on August 4. Estonia's chief negotiator Ulo Nugis told Rahva Haal that the Soviet team had called off the August 6 meeting because "the materials on the agenda require further preparations at the expert level." The Estonian Foreign Ministry reported on August 6 that the Estonian expert commission had flown to Moscow to meet with the Soviet expert team. The Soviet side has, in the last few days, postponed meetings scheduled for early August with Latvian and Lithuanian negotiators. (Riina Kionka) MVD TROOPS PATROL TALLINN. Some 200 Soviet Interior Ministry troops are patrolling parts of Tallinn alongside regular police units, Paevaleht reported on July 31. Tallinn's Deputy Police Commissioner Arne Kass told Paevaleht that a police shortage and rising crime in the city prompted the police prefecture to ask the local MVD division for help in keeping watch on high crime areas during the night shift. According to Kass, the police have received no complaints about the MVD troops, even though they wear Soviet militia uniforms. "There aren't enough new uniforms for all of Estonia's police yet, either," Kass said. (Riina Kionka) ESTONIA, CZECHOSLOVAKIA SIGN AGREEMENT. Estonia and Czechoslovakia signed an agreement on August 2 to forge trade and economic ties and to begin scientific-technical cooperation, Rahva Haal reported the next day. By the terms of the agreement, Czechoslovakia will provide Estonia with polygraph equipment, medical equipment and pharmaceuticals, and with spare parts for Czechoslovak-built machines. In return, Estonia will send Prague and Bratislava furniture, construction materials, electric motors and fish products. (Riina Kionka) "PARATROOPERS" BRAWL IN JURMALA. On August 2, about 120 men dressed in Soviet paratrooper uniforms placed flowers at the Lenin monument in Riga to mark Soviet Paratroopers Day, reported Diena on August 5. They then proceeded to Jurmala and got drunk on the train. In Jurmala they abused people, demolished restaurant and cafe furniture, and damaged parked cars. Latvian law enforcement officials eventually stopped the rowdies, arresting nine (including 2 OMON members). Later, the police released the OMON men after their leaders threatened to hang a Jurmala policeman in retaliation for the arrest. On August 2, OMON members also stopped and searched passenger cars and ambulances on call, and even shot at the vehicles. Latvia's Ministry of Internal Affairs protested the incidents to MVD in Moscow. (Dzintra Bungs) LONG LINES FOR FINNISH VISAS. Finnish authorities are trying to alleviate the long lines for visas at the Finnish visa office in Tallinn, Paevaleht reported on August 4. Officials told Paevaleht, quoting Helsingin Sanomat, that Finland is committed to speeding up the visa process. To that end, the Finnish Foreign Ministry sent the Tallinn office another consular officer in June, when the line for visas included some 5,000 Estonians. Within the month, however, the line grew to twice that length, prompting Finnish officials to think bigger. The Finnish Foreign Ministry must make its proposal for alleviating the Tallinn situation by September 12. (Riina Kionka) USSR - ALL-UNION TOPICS PAVLOV SAID TO PREPARE DECREE ON FORCED LABOR. USSR Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov may soon issue a decree to force citizens to work in the fields to save this year's harvest, Rossiiskaya gazeta reported on August 2. A letter, written by an engineer and published in that issue of the newspaper, denounced the forthcoming decree as anti-democratic. It appealed to the Committee for Human Rights of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet to stop Pavlov from issuing such a decree. (Alexander Rahr) MEASURES TO BOOST OIL AND GAS PRODUCTION. A decree of the USSR Cabinet of Ministers, published by TASS on August 5, provides a series of incentives aimed at expanding the output and export of oil and gas. The producer price for crude oil is raised from 60 to 74 rubles per ton (to be compared with about 200 rubles a ton on the commodities exchanges and a world price of some $155 a ton). The share of hard currency earned from oil and gas exports that must be converted to rubles at the unfavorable official rate is cut from 40% to 3%. And a levy on negotiated hard currency sales will go to the stabilization fund for boosting output. (Keith Bush) OIL EXPORTS UNDERSTATED? The drop in Soviet oil exports during the first half of 1991 was not the 50% officially reported but rather 25% percent. This is the hypothesis advanced by Matthew Sagers, director of the energy services section of Planecon, as reported in The Journal of Commerce August 6. Sagers suggests that the central authorities in Moscow are not tracking oil exports very well, since these are now initiated and controlled by republics, refiners, oil production associations, joint ventures and export-import companies. The export totals reported by Moscow do not tally with the totals of oil imports registered in Western countries and in Eastern Europe, Sagers maintains. (Keith Bush) SHCHERBAKOV ON COCOM. USSR First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economics and Forecasting, Vladimir Shcherbakov, told TASS August 5 that the US is prepared to revise its position on COCOM restrictions. After asserting that "our investment cooperation with the West cannot be serious unless the COCOM lists are dropped," Shcherbakov qualified this by intimating that it was difficult to say which of the COCOM restrictions will be lifted and which will stay. He claimed that US President Bush had "confirmed in principle that it is time to tackle this problem." (Keith Bush) SHCHERBAKOV ON CUSTOMS DUTIES. During a Central Television interview on August 4, Shcherbakov announced that the government plans to reduce the high customs duties levied on consumer goods brought into the country by Soviet citizens returning from abroad. Customs duties on these goods were sharply raised with effect from July 1. According to The Economist of August 3, at an informal meeting on July 26 all 15 republics drafted a letter to Prime Minister Pavlov asking for the higher tariffs to be rescinded. Shcherbakov is quoted by The Los Angeles Times of August 5 as having asserted during the TV interview that the customs authorities had hiked the duties on their own initiative and without prior government approval. (Keith Bush) DOLLAR HOLDERS REASSURED. US Ambassador to the USSR Jack Matlock appeared on Vremya August 5 to reassure viewers that the older series of $50 and $100 bills were still legal tender. It appears that some Soviet citizens holding US banknotes were worried by the issue of new notes in these denominations designed to thwart counterfeiters. And, as the moderator observed, many viewers have not yet recovered from the shock of the January 1991 obligatory exchange of 50- and 100-ruble notes. (Keith Bush) GORBACHEV ASSERTS KGB NOT INVOLVED IN SHOOTING OF POPE. Judicial sources in Rome reported August 5 that Gorbachev has sent a letter to Italian Prime Minister Guilio Andreotti, saying that he has no evidence of KGB involvement in the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II in 1981. According to a Western agency report August 5, the Italian sources said Gorbachev told Andreotti that he ordered trusted investigators to go through all relevant KGB files, but that they did not find evidence of any KGB involvement in the attack. Andreotti had asked Gorbachev to cooperate in a probe of possible KGB complicity when he visited Moscow in May. Italian magistrate Rosario Priore is carrying out a third investigation of the shooting of the Pope. Some KGB role in the incident long has been widely alleged. (Sallie Wise) CHIEF OF CHINESE GENERAL STAFF IN MOSCOW. TASS reported August 5 that the chief of the Chinese general staff, Colonel General Chi Haotian, arrived yesterday in Moscow for an official visit at the invitation of his Soviet counterpart, General Mikhail Moiseev. This is the latest in a series of Sino-Soviet military contacts. (Sallie Wise) SOVIET JOURNALIST ALLEGES DISCRIMINATION AT SUMMIT. Writing in Rabochaya tribuna of July 27, journalist Aleksandr Os'kin charged that foreign journalists were receiving preferential treatment in accreditation and logistics for covering the Bush-Gorbachev summit. He also complained that Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials Vitalii Churkin and Yurii Gremitskikh either would not or could not inform Soviet journalists about the program for the summit, and that he learned more from The New York Times than from an MFA briefing. Os'kin was indignant that foreign and Soviet journalists had separate accreditation cards, and declared that "it will be harder for Soviet journalists to work than for our foreign colleagues." He mused that perhaps he would have to board Bush's press plane "to learn the whole truth about the visit." (Sallie Wise) GRISHIN REMEMBERS. Former Politburo member Viktor Grishin wrote in Nashi, a supplement to the conservative newspaper Molodaya Gvardiya (no 1, 1991) that he did not oppose Gorbachev's election to the post of General Secretary in 1985. Grishin said that in these times, the person in charge of cadres policy automatically inherited the post of General Secretary. But Grishin also emphasized that a power struggle was going on in 1985 and that some younger Party leaders, such as Egor Ligachev, supported Gorbachev because they feared that if he--Grishin--had become Party boss, they would loose their posts. Grishin also described how he tried to resist Gorbachev when the latter removed him from office in 1985. (Alexander Rahr) GORBACHEV GOES ON VACATION. Some traditions die hard, and the official announcement of a Soviet leader's holiday is one of them: TASS reported August 5 that, "as was officially announced, " Gorbachev left for a vacation in the Crimea on August 4. (Sallie Wise) USSR - IN THE REPUBLICS YELTSIN'S DECREE OBEYED. RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin's decree on depolitization, which took effect August 4, is being carried out in Russia, Western news agencies reported on August 5. Managers who fail to close down Party cells at their enterprises are threatened with a fine of 10,000 rubles. CPSU leaders, such as Leningrad Party boss Boris Gidaspov, have ordered implementation of the decree and relocation of Party organizations outside factories in electoral constituencies. Some managers, however, have decided to wait for the decision of the Committee on Constitutional Oversight, which they hope will nullify the decree. Others still think that Gorbachev may challenge Yeltsin with a decree of his own. (Alexander Rahr) KGB SUPPORTS YELTSIN'S DECREE, ARMY RESISTS. While the Army is resisting implementation of Yeltsin's decree banning Party organizations from factories, the KGB is obeying it. RSFSR KGB chief Viktor Ivanenko reportedly has assured Yeltsin that the decree will be carried out and the KGB in the RSFSR depoliticized. Ivanenko said that he fully supports the decree because it makes all parties and movements equal, according to The Financial Times on August 5. Meanwhile General Mikhail Surkov, chief of the Army's CPSU organization, stressed that the Army is subordinated only to the union and would ignore Yeltsin's decree until Gorbachev orders issues his own decree, The Guardian reported the same day. (Alexander Rahr) REACTIONS TO YELTSIN'S DECREE. The President of Kyrgyzstan, Askar Akaev, is expected to issue a decree on depolitization similar to that issued by Yeltsin in the RSFSR, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on July 30. Meanwhile, the President of Tatarstan, Mintimer Shaimiev, has stressed that he will not carry out the decree and that Communists will continue to play a dominant role in the enterprises in his republic, according to The Financial Times on August 5. According to an opinion poll published in Moskovskie novosti on August 4, 73% of RSFSR citizens support Yeltsin's decree on depolitization. Only 13% object to it and 14% said they were undecided. (Alexander Rahr) FORMER JEWISH SCHOOL BUILDING RETURNED IN MOSCOW. TASS reported on August 5 that the building of the former spiritual Jewish school has been returned to the Jewish community in Moscow. The school was confiscated in summer 1941 to be used as a military hospital, but was not given back to the believers. Rabbi Arthur Schneier from New York appealed to Soviet authorities to return the building. It now will be used as a religious and cultural center. (Oxana Antic) WORKERS STRIKE IN SUPPORT OF BELORUSSIAN LABOR LEADER. Workers at the Minsk Tractor Factory staged a one-hour strike yesterday (August 5) to protest the trial of Belorussian labor leader Mikalay Razumau. An independent journalist in Minsk told RFE/RL's Belorussian service by telephone August 5 that the factory's management apparently had called out the militia to prevent the strike, but the militiamen--armed with rubber truncheons--stood aside while workers walked off the job. Razumau went on trial August 1 in Mogilev, charged with organizing a blockade of the east-west rail line in Orsha last April in order to press for democratic reforms. (Sallie Wise) PRESIDENTIAL CONTENDERS IN UKRAINE. Twenty-three contenders will vie for the post of president of Ukraine, Radio Kiev reported August 5. Among the candidates are eleven members of the Communist Party. According to a poll conducted by a sociological research group within the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine, the leading contender is Leonid Kravchuk, the chairman of the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet, who is favored by 52% to 65% of those polled. The elections are scheduled for December 1. (Roman Solchanyk) "RUKH" AND THE UNION TREATY. A spokesman for the Popular Movement of Ukraine, or "Rukh" says that the organization plans to convene a meeting on September 15 against the Union treaty, Interfax reported August 5. The Ukrainian Supreme Soviet is scheduled to discuss the draft of the new Union treaty on the same day. (Roman Solchanyk) "ANTI-PORN SQUAD" IN TAJIKISTAN. TASS reported on August 5 that Tajikistan's Ministry of Internal Affairs has begun setting up a special section to deal with pornography and "the cult of violence" that have appeared in the republic in the wake of glasnost' and private business. Particular targets for the attention of the new "morals police" are videosalons showing imported films and bookstalls selling erotic literature. The special section will have an advisory commission made up of cultural and religious figures and representatives of the customs service to rule on questionable materials. The objective of the new unit, according to TASS, is to prevent offense to Muslim sensibilities. (Bess Brown) WORLD TAJIK FORUM NEXT YEAR. A world Tajik forum is to be held next March in Dushanbe, according to a TASS report of August 2, which will bring together Tajik cultural, religious and business figures and Tajik emigrants. The responsible secretary of the organization committee, writer Nasrullo Asadulloev told TASS that many Tajik emigrants have expressed interest in providing help to their former homeland in the areas of banking, marketing, and investment. The forum, it is hoped, will encourage foreign investment in the republic. (Bess Brown) MOLDAVIA PROMOTES JEWISH CULTURAL LIFE, CONTACTS WITH ISRAEL. Moldova Suverana of July 26 reviews recent steps taken by the Moldavian government to promote Jewish cultural life in the republic and contacts with Israel. Two Jewish schools, teaching Yiddish and Hebrew, and a Jewish children's choir have recently been set up in association with reopened synagogues in Kishinev. Teachers and rabbis have been invited from Israel and the USA. Moldavian and Israeli filmmakers are working on a coproduction entitled "The Jews of Bessarabia." The Israeli religious movement Agudat Israel has opened a permanent representation in Kishinev. The republic-owned travel agency Moldova Tour is about to introduce regular trips to Israel for "Moldavia's Romanians." (Vladimir Socor)
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