|If you wish to live wisely, ignore sayings--including this one. - Heywood Broun|
No. 149, 07 August 1991
BALTIC STATES "SPECIAL" TRADE PROVISIONS FOR BALTIC STATES. The White House would like to extend additional trading advantages to the Baltic States, an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported August 6. According to presidential spokesman Marlin Fitzwater, the US "will begin accounting for Baltic origin products separately from those originating elsewhere in the USSR for trade statistical purposes." The Baltic States also will receive "technical assistance in trade development and export promotion." According to Fitzwater, including the Baltic States in an MFN agreement with the USSR does not contradict the US policy of not recognizing the Soviet annexation of the Baltic States. (Gytis Liulevicius) LITHUANIAN PRIME MINISTER ON PRICE HIKES. On August 6 Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius issued a letter to the Panevezys section of the Lithuanian Freedom League responding to its protests about price increases in the republic, Radio Independent Lithuania reported that day. He noted that even though Lithuania in 1991 had stopped making payments to the USSR budget and received no contributions from it, Lithuania could not escape the effects of inflation caused by the USSR's issuance of unbacked rubles. The government has been increasing compensation to the people for higher prices caused by increased costs of raw materials, but further price rises are inevitable. (Saulius Girnius) ESTONIAN POPULAR FRONT CALLS FOR NEW ELECTIONS. The Estonian Popular Front has called for new parliamentary elections to be held next year, according to Rahva Haal on August 6 and an RFE/RL Estonian service report on August 5. Under the terms of a position paper hammered out at a Popular Front executive board conference on August 4, the movement sees an urgent need to continue dismantling state organs left over from the Soviet era, including the Supreme Council. The Popular Front therefore resolved that elections are unavoidable, and urged that they be held in spring/summer 1992. (Riina Kionka) AND A COMPROMISE CITIZENSHIP CONCEPT. The Popular Front also discussed "the Russian Question" in Estonian politics, according to Rahva Haal on August 6 and an RFE/RL Estonian service report on August 5. The Popular Front adopted the position that all those who have permanent residence in Estonia on the day final independence is declared should have the right to become Estonian citizens within 6-12 months. In light of the Popular Front's leading role in the Estonian government, it seems likely that this compromise citizenship concept will find support in the Supreme Council. (Riina Kionka) SUPREME COUNCIL CUTS SUMMER VACATION. The Estonian Supreme Council has ended its summer recess early, Paevaleht reported on August 6. The Supreme Council will return to the chamber on August 12, but parliamentary commissions are holding planning meetings this week, as is the presidium. According to the Supreme Council's rules of order, the body should have stayed away until September, but the heavy work load ahead--at least 32 draft laws and 9 draft resolutions to consider--prompted the presidium's decision to cut short the summer vacation. (Riina Kionka) LATVIAN SUPREME COUNCIL RECONVENES. On August 6, the Latvian Supreme Council held its first plenary session after the summer recess, though it resumed work on August 1. In his opening speech, Council Chairman Anatolijs Gorbunovs noted that Latvia is faced with an economic crisis--declining output or availability of industrial products, consumer goods, foodstuffs, and inflation. Politically, Latvia's situation is uncertain. He said that the threat of violence exists, especially since "the Baltics are filled to overflowing with weapons of the Empire." Though some progress has been made in internationalizing the Baltic question, Gorbunovs added that the Soviet stance is hindering progress in Latvian-USSR relations, according to Radio Riga of August 6. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIAN-CZECHOSLOVAK ECONOMIC ACCORD. An economic cooperation agreement between Latvia and Czechoslovakia was signed in Riga on August 2 by Czechoslovakia's ambassador to the USSR, Rudolf Slansky, and Deputy Prime Minister Arnis Kalnins of Latvia, Diena reported August 3. This year, Czechoslovakia is to provide trolleybuses and parts, medical equipment, AVIA automobiles, and other goods, while Latvia is to reciprocate with telephones, canned fish, cosmetics, towels, and other goods. Accounting will be conducted in hard currency, according to world market prices for the goods involved. (Dzintra Bungs) FREE CONGRESS FOUNDATION SEMINAR IN RIGA. This week the US-based Free Congress Foundation is sponsoring a seminar for Latvian lawmakers and public servants. The participants can learn about US legislative methods, political practices, and philosophical and moral aspects of politics, reported Diena of August 5. (Dzintra Bungs) USSR - ALL-UNION TOPICS MORE ON SIGNING OF UNION TREATY. USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev's press spokesman Vitalii Ignatenko said August 6 that the ceremony of the signing of the Union treaty by the RSFSR, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan would begin at 11.00 A.M. on August 20 in the presence of Gorbachev, Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov, Chairman of the USSR Supreme Soviet Anatolii Luk'yanov, and the chairmen of the all-Union parliament's two chambers, Ivan Laptev and Rafik Nishanov, TASS reported August 6. Ignatenko added that Belorussia and Tajikistan were expected to sign on September 3. (Ann Sheehy) GORBACHEV CORRECTED ON UNION TREATY. Ukraine's first deputy chairman of the Supreme Soviet, Ivan Plyushch, told Ukrainian television viewers that Gorbachev's recent remarks about the new Union treaty being ready for signing were incorrect, Radio Kiev reported August 6. Moreover, said Plyushch, he attended the latest meeting at Novo Ogarevo only as an observer. Ukraine, Plyushch reminded viewers, has not yet formed a commission empowered to sign the treaty. (Roman Solchanyk) CLARIFICATION ON COCOM PRONOUNCEMENT. An unidentified White House official told RFE/RL's Washington bureau August 6 that President George Bush has not ordered a formal review of COCOM rules. USSR First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Shcherbakov had told TASS August 5 that the US President had "confirmed in principle that it is time to tackle this [COCOM] problem" (see Daily Report, August 6). What the President had actually said was something like "Yes, I understand and I'll look into it," according to our source. This was a noncommittal nicety and did not mean that President Bush would order a full scale review of the COCOM restrictions. (Keith Bush) SOVIET BANKER ON RUBLE CONVERTIBILITY. The head of the USSR Gosbank's hard currency division, Oleg Mozhaisky, told a Moscow conference on foreign economic relations that the ruble could attain internal convertibility by 1993, Western agencies reported August 6. He was "not sure" about convertibility in 1992, the date set in the current version of Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov's anti-crisis program. He spoke in favor of an international stabilization fund to shore up the Soviet currency during any move to convertibility. (Estimates of the size of such a fund have mostly been in the area of $10-15 billion). Mozhaisky said that the USSR has agreed to settle for associate membership in the IMF, while acknowledging that this is only the first step towards full membership. (Keith Bush) BILATERAL TAX TREATIES. At the same conference, USSR Deputy Finance Minister and Chief of the Main State Tax Inspectorate, Vladimir Rodyushkin, noted that the USSR has already signed bilateral agreements with twenty states to avoid double-taxation and was negotiating similar agreements with a further ten states, TASS reported August 6. Rodyushin assured foreign investors that they would not be subject to both federal and republican taxes. "The only problem for foreign businessmen will be to pick the tax system they prefer, either the federal or the republican." Rodyushkin claimed that operating conditions were now equal for both Soviet and foreign businessmen. (Keith Bush) SHEVARDNADZE BACKS TENGIZCHEVROIL. Former Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze has thrown his support behind the Soviet-Kazakh-US joint project to develop the Tengiz oil field. In an article that originally appeared in Moscow News and that has been reprinted in The Los Angeles Times of August 6, Shevardnadze argues that Tengizchevroil is a touchstone project in joint ventures with the US, and that it is part of a larger consortium deal aimed at providing much-needed consumer goods, medical supplies, and the processing of agricultural produce. (The Tengizchevroil project has recently come under fire from conservatives and also from Moscow News and Nezavisimaya gazeta for allegedly being a one-sided concession to Chevron). (Keith Bush) MVD ON CRIME INCREASE. USSR Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Ivan Shilov told a press briefing yesterday (August 6) that law-enforcement bodies have been unable to halt the continued rise in crime overall, although violent crimes have decreased. According to a TASS report and Western agencies the same day, Shilov said 1.5 million "serious" crimes were reported in the first half of this year, for a 20% increase over last year. Crimes involving firearms have increased three-fold. (Sallie Wise) GERMANY RELUCTANT TO RETURN SOVIET DESERTERS. The German government has said that it will not return deserters from the Soviet army unless their applications for political asylum are rejected, RFE/RL's correspondent in Bonn reported August 6. Meanwhile, according to a Western agency report August 6, German officials reportedly have said that Soviet deserters in the former GDR are being transferred out of the area to protect them from alleged Soviet attempts to capture and repatriate them. The report said that between 5 and 10 Soviet deserters are applying for asylum in Germany every week. (Sallie Wise) KRYUCHKOV WANTS COOPERATION WITH GERMAN INTELLIGENCE. KGB chief Vladimir Kryuchkov wants to cooperate with the German intelligence service [the Bundesnachrichtendienst]. Kryuchkov told the German TV network Sat 1 on August 6 that he is making this offer to Germany for the first time. He would propose cooperation on combatting terrorism, drug dealing, and smuggling. Kryuchkov's offer comes at a time of friction between Bonn and Moscow over new hostile KGB activities on the territory of the former GDR. Kryuchkov also asserted that the CIA has an advantage over the KGB in money and technology. (Alexander Rahr) VOL'SKY AND ALKSNIS INTERVIEWED ON TV. Central TV's "Who's Who" phone-in featured a double-bill August 5: the "black colonel" Viktor Alksnis and the president of the Soviet employers' association, Arkadii Vol'sky. Alksnis said the "Soyuz" parliamentary group which he leads still wants to see President Gorbachev replaced by a collegial body. As members, Alksnis proposed two liberals: Vol'sky and former deputy chairman of the Moscow city Soviet, Sergei Stankevich. For the conservatives, Alksnis proposed the second secretary of the Russian Communist Party, Aleksei Il'in, and Colonel-General Igor Rodionov, notorious for his role as commander of the troops who used gas and shovels to disperse peaceful demonstrators in Tbilisi in April 1989. (Elizabeth Teague) VOL'SKY DISAGREES WITH SHCHERBAKOV. Vol'sky took issue with first deputy prime minister Vladimir Shcherbakov, who said in a TV interview the night before (August 4) that the Soviet economy would be stabilized by this autumn. "Even if we manage to cope with the harvest, and even if there is a mild winter, and even if there are no political upsets between then and now," Vol'sky said, "the earliest we can hope to see an improvement in the economy will be the first quarter of next year." (Elizabeth Teague) VOL'SKY CRITICAL OF GORBACHEV. Asked whether it was true that he was "Gorbachev's secret adviser," Vol'sky said his role was so secret "that even Gorbachev doesn't know about it." Vol'sky is known to have come to Gorbachev's defense in April this year, when the general secretary came under fire from conservatives at a plenum of the CPSU Central Committee. But on "Who's Who" Vol'sky revealed that he also criticized Gorbachev at that plenum for his "mistaken personnel policy" (nepravil'naya kadrovaya politika). No such criticism appeared in accounts of the plenum at that time. (Elizabeth Teague) DID KGB SEND MEN TO THE MOON? A retired KGB officer claims that two KGB pilots landed on the moon in the lunakhod probe in 1970 but did not return to earth. Vadim Petrov, who headed a secret KGB space project until recently, asserted in an interview with Megapolis ekspress (reprinted in Sovetskaya molodezh, no.18) that many Soviet so-called unmanned experimental space flights, such as that of Buran recently, were in reality conducted by KGB pilots. According to Petrov, the experimental flights led to many deaths. Fearing that revelations of too many casualties would harm state interests, the Kremlin decided to mask these flights as unmanned. Petrov claimed that only the General Secretary, the KGB chief, and a few technicians knew the truth. Petrov alleged that the KGB test flights started before Gagarin's historic flight in 1961. (Alexander Rahr) USSR - IN THE REPUBLICS RSFSR CP CC HOLDS PLENUM. The RSFSR Communist Party Central Committee held a closed plenary session on August 6, TASS reported the same day. A new first secretary was elected (see below). Both RSFSR Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi, who also heads the new Democratic Party of Communists of Russia, and Vladimir Liptsky, leader of the Democratic Movement of Communists (in the CPSU), lost their membership on the RSFSR Central Committee and were expelled from the CPSU for having violated the Party rules on factionalism. Yurii Protasenko was also removed from the RSFSR CC for the same reason. (The plenum's decision to expel Rutskoi and Lipitsky from the CPSU must still be ratified by their primary Party organizations and the CPSU Central Committee.) The plenum also decided to convene an extraordinary second congress of the RSFSR CP in December or January 1992, i.e., after the CPSU extraordinary congress. (Dawn Mann) POLOZKOV RESIGNS. Almost one month to the day after vowing not to agree to demands for his resignation, RSFSR Communist Party First Secretary Ivan Polozkov resigned as RSFSR CP leader yesterday (August 6). Polozkov's opening speech, released by TASS, contained no hint that he might resign. Later in the day, however, after speakers representing both conservative and reform factions had criticized Polozkov, he tendered his resignation. Polozkov will be transferred to other, unspecified, work. He was replaced by Valentin A. Kuptsov, who also replaced Polozkov on the RSFSR CP Politburo and will undoubtedly replace Polozkov on the CPSU Politburo. (Dawn Mann) KUPTSOV'S BIOGRAPHY. Kuptsov, 53, has been chief of the CPSU Central Committee Department for Liason with Sociopolitical Organizations since April 1990 and a CPSU Secretary since July 1990. In February, he told a Moscow news conference that the CPSU was willing to work with any group that "does not deny the socialist choice" made by the Soviet people, but that cooperation was difficult since most groups "preach anti-Communism." He has been a member of the CPSU CC Ideological Commission since November 1988 and a full member of the CPSU CC since 1986. Prior to his promotion to the liason department, Kuptsov served as First Secretary of the Volgoda regional Party committee from July 1985 to April 1990 (the central press published several glowing articles about Kuptsov's achievements during this period), and was elected to the USSR Congress of People's Deputies in March 1989. Kuptsov was also a member of the Russian Communist Party Central Committee Bureau--headed by Gorbachev--in 1989-1990. A metallurgist by training, Kuptsov worked in Czechoslovakia during the Prague Spring. (Dawn Mann) YURII PETROV RETURNS. Radio Rossii reported on August 6 that Yurii Petrov, 52, has been selected to head the RSFSR President's administration. Petrov hails from Sverdlovsk, where he succeeded RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin as the regional Party first secretary in April 1985. Petrov graduated from the Urals Polytechnic Institute, the alma mater of many of the early members of Gorbachev's team, and seemed to be a Party leader cast in the new mold. In 1988, however, Pravda published a critical account of a Sverdlovsk Party plenum, and shortly thereafter, Petrov was named Soviet ambassador to Cuba. (Dawn Mann) USSR CABINET DECREE ON REPATRIATION OF CRIMEAN TATARS. TASS reported on August 6 on a decree of the USSR Cabinet of Ministers "On organizing the return of Crimean Tatars to the Crimean ASSR and guarantees for their establishment there." The decree recommends that the governments of the RSFSR, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan set up commissions where there are concentrations of Crimean Tatars to deal with the problems of their return. The decree states that Tatars who leave a house or apartment behind will be reimbursed so that they can build or purchase housing in the Crimea. Survivors of the 1994 deportation from the Crimea will be given 2,000 rubles each from the all-Union budget on their return to the Crimea. (Ann Sheehy) TATARSTAN'S SOVEREIGNTY DECLARATION DAY MADE PUBLIC HOLIDAY. On August 6 Tatarstan's presidential council declared that August 30, the anniversary of Tatarstan's declaration of sovereignty, would henceforth be a public holiday, Moscow radio reported August 6. Ceremonies are to be held to mark the anniversary. The council also examined the draft of a treaty with Bashkortostan, where about one million Tatars live. It was suggested that the two republics set up a joint working commission to finalize the text. (Ann Sheehy) GEORGIA CRITICIZES US SUPPORT FOR UNION TREATY. Western news agencies in Moscow reported August 6 that the Georgian government had issued a four-page statement criticizing US support for the draft Union Treaty as "extremely dangerous," insofar as the Soviet Union "is ruled by force" and the republics were compelled by violence to remain in the Union. The statement accused the US of preaching the virtues of justice, freedom and democratic self-determination but failing to support the republics in their drive for independence, and categorized President Bush's statements in Kiev August 1 as "exceeding all the unpleasant expectations we had." (Liz Fuller) MOLDAVIAN-ROMANIAN INTERGOVERNMENTAL AGREEMENTS. The Moldavian and Romanian Prime Ministers, Valeriu Muravschi and Petre Roman, on August 6 in Kishinev signed an intergovernmental agreement on economic cooperation and trade. On the same occasion, high-ranking officials of the two governments signed an agreement establishing a joint commission on economic, commercial, and scientific cooperation. The two Prime Ministers, accompanied by heads of economic ministries of the two governments, discussed prospects for joint ventures in the areas of food processing, telecommunications, and electronics, and ways to finance bilateral trade, the Romanian media reported the same day. (Vladimir Socor) SOBER ASSESSMENTS. Limited to only 6 hours and carefully low-key, Roman's visit was his first ever to Moldavia and the first official visit there by a Romanian Prime Minister since the Soviet annexation. He observed at the signing ceremony that the undertaking "would have been unthinkable only 18 months ago." Muravschi in turn termed the visit "a psychological threshold that we have now crossed." In an address on the occasion, Moldavian President Mircea Snegur said that progress in the relationship "faced many obstacles inherent in the political situation in the USSR" and that Moldavia was seeking "to advance along this road at a deliberate pace and with dignity." (Vladimir Socor) "DNIESTER SSR" RESTRICTS LATIN SCRIPT, THREATENS TO FORMALIZE SECESSION FROM MOLDAVIA. Unspecified bodies of the would-be Dniester SSR, organized by Russian communists in eastern Moldavia, have issued an edict "ensuring the study of the Moldavian language in the Cyrillic script," TASS reported August 6. Exceptions will be permitted only in individual cases upon written request. The measure, which defies the republican law on languages, means that those Moldavian schools in the area that had managed to switch to the Latin script are highly likely to be forced back to the Russian script. On the same date, the "Dniester SSR" leaders called a congress of people's deputies of all levels from the area for next month to adopt state symbols and a constitution for the would-be republic. (Vladimir Socor) KAZAKHSTAN POLITBURO BACKS ANTI-NUCLEAR DEMANDS. For the first time, the Politburo of Kazakhstan's Communist Party has issued a declaration formally demanding the immediate closure of the nuclear weapons testing site in Semipalatinsk Oblast. A Radio Moscow report of August 6 suggests that the CP may have been reacting to demonstrations and protests that have been the popular response to Ministry of Defense proposal to pay compensation to residents of Semipalatinsk Oblast for use of the site three more times before its final closure. The Kazakh Politburo wants residents compensated for what they have already suffered. (Bess Brown) UKRAINE'S HARVEST EXPORT BAN ONLY TEMPORARY. Ukrainian Prime Minister Vitold Fokin made an emergency announcement on Republican Television August 6, promising that Ukraine was determined to honor its inter-republican agreements and orders for food supply to the Union Fund, reported Interfax the same day. He said bans on the traffic of foodstuffs out of the republic announced last month were only temporary, and would be lifted as soon as the targets for grain sales were met. (Natalie Melnyczuk)
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.