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No. 150, 08 August 1991
BALTIC STATES SOVIET SOLDIER SHOT IN VILNIUS. A Soviet soldier from the Vilnius garrison died following an altercation with Lithuanian police on August 7, Radio Independent Lithuania reported that day. According to the Lithuanian Interior Ministry, two drunk Soviet soldiers resisted arrest after attempting to break into a car at about 3:00 A.M. A Lithuanian policeman scuffled with the soldiers, who were trying to take his gun. The gun discharged, wounding one soldier, Nikolai Kukul, who died on the way to the hospital. The second soldier remains in Lithuanian custody, and the incident is under investigation. (Gytis Liulevicius) JOINT SOVIET DENIAL. The USSR Defense and Interior Ministries and the KGB issued a joint statement denying responsibility for the July 31 Lithuanian border post murders, TASS reported August 7. "The leadership of these agencies categorically declare that they had absolutely no involvement in the tragedy," the statement read, assuring that the Interior Ministry and KGB are cooperating with Lithuanian law enforcement authorities in investigating the killings. The statement criticizes "a number of ranking Lithuanian officials" for alleging Soviet army, Interior Ministry, or KGB involvement. (Gytis Liulevicius) NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE FRONT FORMED. A new political association, the National Independence Front, was founded in Kaunas, Radio Independent Lithuania reported on August 7. The Kaunas branch of the Lithuanian Freedom League, the Kaunas Workers' Union, the national youth union "Young Lithuania," the Republican Party, the Lithuanian Land Owners Union, and the Political Prisoners Club 58 (all extreme right-wing groups) expressed interest in forming the association whose avowed purpose is to strengthen the implementation of Lithuanian independence. The front was probably formed as a counterweight to the left-wing Lithuanian Future Forum, founded in April, but it is unlikely that either front will have any important political influence. (Saulius Girnius) LATVIAN COMMUNISTS PROTEST YELTSIN'S DEPOLITICIZATION DECREE. At its latest plenum, the Latvian Communist Party Central Committee sent a telegram of protest to USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev concerning RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin's decree banning political party activity in the workplace. The Latvian communists also expressed concern about the "intertia" of Soviet authorities regarding this "anti-constitutional" decree, reported Diena of August 6. According to TASS of August 3, the plenum also considered the party's strategy now that it is an opposition party, rather than the leading political party in Latvia. Economic difficulties in Latvia were also discussed. (Dzintra Bungs) OPPOSITION DEPUTIES IN THE BALTICS TO COOPERATE. Radio Riga of August 7 reported that opposition deputies from the Supreme Councils of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are to meet in Riga in two weeks to work out modes of cooperation, especially in gathering evidence of violations of human rights. Sergei Dimanis, leader of the Ravnopravie faction in the Latvian Supreme Council, envisages the new grouping to be analogous to the Baltic Council, but that "it would not engage in drafting endless resolutions." Dimanis, an organizer of the meeting, wants Latvia to remain a part of the USSR, and opposes Latvia's independence. In contrast, the Baltic Council, comprised of government and Supreme Council leaders, advocates independence for Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. (Dzintra Bungs) FREEDOM OF THE PRESS IN ESTONIA. In the midst of growing complaints against the government, Tallinn is trying to minimize public criticism by holding closed press conferences. According to Eesti Aeg on August 6, Prime Minister Edgar Savisaar's press secretary Juhan Hindov invited only "representatives of trustworthy publications" to an August 1 press conference with Savisaar. Hindov refused to let reporters from some of Estonia's most respected and widely read publications--including Eesti Aeg, Postimees, Kultuur ja Elu, and Eesti Elu--attend the press conference, telling Eesti Aeg by telephone that "there wasn't enough room for everybody." Still, at the end of the press conference, which was broadcast on TV, Hindov thanked all of those "who had found the time to attend." (Riina Kionka) PAY, COMPENSATION HIKES IN ESTONIA. Salaries for those employed in medicine, sports, and social administrative areas will increase by 1.5 to two times starting September 1, Paevaleht reported on August 6. The pay hike is expected to raise the average monthly salary for those working in the "social sphere" to about 700 rubles per month. Starting on October 1, non-earners on fixed incomes will also have more help in coping with Estonia's strong inflationary pressure. On that date, according to Paevaleht, compensation payments will increase by 30 rubles per month for pensioners, children, and students. The government instituted compensation payments last October to groups that were especially hard hit by continuing price hikes. (Riina Kionka) MOSCOW-TALLINN EXPERT TALKS GO WELL. Talks held on August 6 between Estonian and Soviet expert groups went well, Paevaleht reported the next day. Estonian group leader and head of the Supreme Council foreign relations commission, Indrek Toome, told the newspaper that the teams discussed a wide range of economic issues. Toome said the teams were able to agree on positions about half the time: "At least at the expert level, we have agreed on the necessity of recognizing our transition period--and Estonia's independence at the end of said period--in mutual documents. There was no more talk of the Union treaty, or that we must necessarily join it," Toome said. (Riina Kionka) USSR - ALL-UNION TOPICS FIL'SHIN EXPELLED FROM PARTY. RSFSR deputy foreign trade minister Gennadii Fil'shin has been expelled from the CPSU by the buro of the Irkutsk regional Party committee, Novosti reported August 6. Fil'shin was expelled for non-payment of Party dues and non-participation in the primary Party organization of the USSR Academy of Sciences' Irkutsk Department on Regional Economics, where he once worked. Novosti reported that Fil'shin had submitted his resignation from the Party before the buro expelled him, and that "informed circles" think Fil'shin was expelled as part of a campaign to prevent his nomination for election as governor (gubernator) of Irkutsk. Last February Fil'shin resigned and was later officially removed as an RSFSR first deputy prime minister in connection with the "140 billion ruble deal." (Dawn Mann) EYE SURGEON LEAVES THE CPSU. Nezavisimaya gazeta, as cited by Western agencies August 7, reported that millionaire eye surgeon Svyatoslav Fedorov has quit the Communist Party on the grounds that it cannot be reformed. Fedorov, who is an adviser to Boris Yeltsin, was one of the earliest and most successful Soviet entrepreneurs. He pioneered a new treatment for myopia at his Institute of Eye Microsurgery, which he privatized, and he is also part-owner of the new Pullman Iris Hotel. (Elizabeth Teague) OLD CENSORS NEVER DIE... Novosti Press Agency reported August 7 that a new government agency is being set up to "advise" the Soviet media on how to avoid divulging state and commercial secrets. This "Agency for the Protection of State Secrets in the Mass Media" is clearly yet another incarnation of the notorious GLAVLIT censorship agency, set up in the 1920s. GLAVLIT was abolished last year, because the new USSR Law on the Press forbids political censorship, but the former censors immediately found a home in a new body, the "Main Administration for Safeguarding State Secrets" (GUOT). GUOT in turn was supposed to be abolished as of July 1, 1991, and its functions were to pass to an as-yet-uncreated USSR Press and Information Ministry. Novosti's report indicates that GUOT has found a new lease on life. Statutes for the new body are being drafted, according to deputy chairman Nikolai Glazatov, who added that the agency will check the all-Union mass media for commercial or state secrets, but only after, not before, publication. (Elizabeth Teague) PROPOSED LAW ON WEAPONS. The Soviet Ministry of Internal Affairs has drafted a proposed law on the control of weapons. Izvestia of August 7, as summarized by Radio Moscow-1 the same day, reported that the law includes a section on "weapons of self-defense." The MVD reportedly has said that it is necessary to give citizens "the right independently to defend themselves from crime with the aid of weapons of self-defense." According to Izvestia, the new law would give Soviet citizens new rights which would demonstrate that "individual security is becoming no less important than state security." Weapons would be sold in special shops to citizens over 16 years of age. Izvestia noted, however, that it is difficult to predict how the draft law proposed by the militia will be received. (Sallie Wise) PLANS FOR RESCHEDULING FOREIGN DEBT. Ivan Ivanov, a consultant to the USSR Supreme Soviet's International Relations Committee, told The Wall Street Journal August 7 that Gorbachev had taken a plan to reschedule the Soviet Union's foreign debt to the post-G-7 summit meeting. However, according to Ivanov, "we didn't offer it [in London] because we didn't want to focus on financial help." It is now thought that any rescheduling plan will be merged into a larger package of Western technical and financial aid. (Keith Bush) SCALE AND REPAYMENT OF FOREIGN DEBT. In the same article, Oleg Mozhaiskov, head of the USSR Gosbank's hard currency division, was quoted as estimating Soviet foreign debt at $62 billion. Convertible currency reserves were put at $5-6 billion in addition to (still!) undisclosed gold reserves, while Mozhaiskov reckoned that commercial arrears totalled some $3-4 billion. The same official had been cited by TASS August 6 to the effect that some $30 billion, i.e., nearly half of the USSR's total debt, will become due in 1991 and 1992. In light of the current prospects for the exports of oil, gas, arms, and gold, some form of rescheduling appears to be inevitable. (Keith Bush) FORECAST OF OIL OUTPUT AND EXPORTS. First Deputy Chairman of the USSR Fuels and Energy Commission Rantik Margulov projects oil output at 550 million tons and exports at 60 million tons in both 1991 and 1992. Margulov was addressing a press conference on August 7 in Washington at the end of an eight-day US-Soviet energy workshop, The Journal of Commerce and Western agencies reported August 8. Margulov's estimates are considerably above those of most Soviet and Western specialists. For instance, the chairman of the USSR Goskomstat, Vadim Kirichenko, forecast oil output in 1991 at about 508 million tons (Pravitel'stvennyi vestnik, July 17). (Keith Bush) THOUSANDS UNEMPLOYED BY CONVERSION. Soviet First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Shcherbakov on August 6 revealed USSR Goskomstat data that show significant increases in unemployment due to conversion of Soviet defense industries, according to a TASS report the same day. Of some 300,000 workers relieved of work in defense plants in 1990, 76% were reassigned to civilian production while the rest entered the growing ranks of the Soviet unemployed. The expectations for 1991 are similar. Shcherbakov said that current trends would see another 380,000 people "freed" from defense production, with some 70,000 of those becoming unemployed. (John Tedstrom) FIRST RESULTS OF REGISTRATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT IN USSR. The first month of official registration of the unemployed in the USSR is over and the results show that there is not yet mass unemployment, Moscow Radio 1 reported August 7, summarizing an article in Sovetskaya Rossiya the same day. The director of the All-Union Social Fund for Defense Against Unemployment, People's Deputy Anatolii Kapustin, said, however, that comforting conclusions could not be drawn from the results. He believes, along with specialists in the field, that by the end of 1991 there will be at least 1.5 to 2 million unemployed in the USSR. As a proportion of the population this is still a manageable level of unemployment, but as the broadcast pointed out, marketization has hardly begun so the picture is likely to change dramatically in the future. (Sarah Ashwin) PAVLOV, FINNISH PRIME MINISTER DISCUSS TRADE. Soviet Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov met his Finnish counterpart, Esko Aho, in Soviet Karelia August 7 to discuss trade between the USSR and Finland which, according to TASS August 7, Pavlov described as suffering from "serious obstacles" of late. Pavlov announced after his four-hour meeting with Aho that the USSR Cabinet of Ministers had decided to allow Soviet enterprises to conduct barter trade with Finnish firms. Aho welcomed the decision, saying that it would help stimulate Soviet-Finnish trade and economic relations, but that Finnish enterprises still had to find Soviet partners for the plan to work. Officials from Karelia participated in the talks, and both Pavlov and Aho expressed hope for an enhanced role for Karelia in future bilateral relations. (Sallie Wise) BOOK ON GORBACHEV'S RISE TO POWER. The journal Den' (no. 13) has begun to publish the memoirs of Valerii Legostaev, a former speechwriter for the late Konstantin Chernenko. The memoirs are the most detailed revelations of Gorbachev's rise to power so far, providing deep insights into the political struggle in the Kremlin during 1985. Legostaev charges that Gorbachev's election as General Secretary was an historical mistake, because Gorbachev was, in his view, a completely inexperienced politician who only knew how to run a "wealthy spa region such as Stavropol." Legostaev states that friction between the military and Gorbachev occurred immediately after the latter's accession to power. (Alexander Rahr) SOVIETS ATTEND SIXTH WORLDWIDE DAY OF CATHOLIC YOUTH. According TSN August 7, the Roman Catholic Church for the first time has invited young people from the Soviet Union to participate in the Sixth Worldwide Day of Catholic Youth, which will be held in Poland. About 7O,OOO young people from the Soviet Union--Catholics and non-Catholics, believers and non-believers--are expected to attend. The Pope will pay expenses for these guests. About a million young people from 85 countries are expected to participate in the event. (Oxana Antic) USSR - IN THE REPUBLICS KUPTSOV FOR COOPERATION; POLOZKOV'S NEW JOB. Newly-elected RSFSR CP leader Valentin Kuptsov said at a press conference, broadcast by Vremya on August 7, that the Russian Communists will seek cooperation with the Yeltsin administration and other political parties. He stressed the need for Russian Communists to restructure their work and learn how to work in the future under conditions of depoliticization and the transition to a market economy. Komsomol'skaya pravda reported on August 7 that the previous RSFSR CP boss, Ivan Polozkov, will soon be appointed USSR Deputy Minister of Agriculture. (Alexander Rahr) ZYUGANOV ON KUPTSOV'S ELECTION. RSFSR CP Politburo member Gennadii Zyuganov told Radio Moscow on August 7 that there had been three candidates for the post of First Secretary at the RSFSR CP plenum. Moscow Party chief Yurii Prokof'ev withdrew his candidacy because he thought his departure from Moscow would cause severe problems in the city's Party organization. Zyuganov said that he himself withdrew because he has no experience in economic affairs. Thus, the name of Valentin Kuptsov appeared alone on the voting list and the plenum elected him. (Alexander Rahr) UKRAINIAN CP EXPRESSES SOLIDARITY WITH RSFSR COMMUNISTS. In a telegram addressed to the RSFSR Communist Party leadership, the Secretariat of the Ukrainian Communist Party Central Committee expressed solidarity with and fraternal support for the Communists of the RSFSR, TASS reported August 7. The telegram condemned actions of people calling themselves "democrats," who are blatantly denying the legitimate rights of the working people and trying to destroy the foundations of the communist party. The Ukrainian CP condemned the RSFSR Presidential decree on depoliticization and appealed to Gorbachev to adopt laws protecting the rights of communists and mass public movements. (Natalie Melnyczuk) RUTSKOI COUNTING ON GORBACHEV. RSFSR Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi, who was expelled from the CPSU by the RSFSR Communist Party Central Committee on August 6, quite rightly told reporters in Moscow on August 7 that the RSFSR CP CC cannot take such a decision. (Rutskoi was elected to the RSFSR Congress of People's Deputies from a district in Kursk and after Rutskoi formed the "Communists for Democracy" faction last April, the Kursk regional Party committee said it would have expelled him from the Party...if only he had joined it in Kursk.) Rutskoi also said that Yeltsin, with whom he met on August 3, approved of Rutskoi's plans to form the Democratic Party of Communists of Russia. More important, however, will be Gorbachev's position on the issue, and Rutskoi said he thinks that Gorbachev "will find a solution to my problem." (Dawn Mann) STRUGGLE OVER DEPOLITICIZATION. Ivan Antonovich, a hardliner in the RSFSR CP Politburo, told Novosti on August 7 that Yeltsin's decree was unconstitutional and that the RSFSR CP would ignore it. Antonovich said that the RSFSR CP will not restrict itself to pure political work in the future but will also seek involvement in Russia's economy. Meanwhile, in Leningrad, the staff of the local navy base decided not to wait for an official order from the military leadership in Moscow to obey Yeltsin's decree and abandoned its Party committees on navy ships, Radio Rossii reported on August 7. (Alexander Rahr) YELTSIN TO MEET TRADE UNIONISTS TO DISCUSS DEPOLITICIZATION. Yeltsin is to meet representatives of the official Russian Federation of Independent Trade Unions on August 10, Radio Rossii reported August 7, to discuss the part of the edict on depoliticization which affects trade unions. The Federation does not have a final position, but there are currently two opinions on the issue: either to change the wording of the point, or to exclude it entirely. The current wording is: "The activities of the organizational structures of trade unions are carried out by agreement between the administration of state establishments, organizations, and enterprises and a labor collective." This means that to operate unions will be dependent on the bosses' permission. (Sarah Ashwin) END OF RADICAL SOVIET. Moscow Deputy Mayor Yurii Luzhkov told the Moscow government August 6 that the executive committee of the Oktyabr'sky raion soviet had been disbanded for "complete disruption of work" (razval raboty), Vesti reported August 6. Headed by the radical Il'ya Zaslavsky, the Oktyabrsky raion soviet, along with its executive committee, has been lionized by the liberal Soviet media as the avant-garde of economic and political reforms. A year after they were elected, however, both Zaslavsky and chairman of the executive committee Georgii Vasil'ev resigned due to the split among representatives of "Democratic Russia" in the corps of raion deputies. (Julia Wishnevsky) RSFSR WANTS MORE FOR ITS RESOURCES. In a populist concession that could delay the signing of the new Union Treaty, Yeltsin has promised to negotiate new prices for energy and raw materials with other republics after the Treaty is signed. Yeltsin has been making this promise during his visit this week in the Tyumen' region, according to TASS and Western reports August 7. Whether other republics will agree to the price hikes is another question. The move--if carried through--will almost certainly spark a trade and price war with republics that are important exporters to the RSFSR. It would not be surprising if some of the other, weaker, republics refused to sign the treaty without certain guarantees over energy supplies and prices. (John Tedstrom) UP TO 25% OF SIBERIAN ENERGY AT WORLD PRICES. Additionally, Yeltsin is granting various Siberian energy producers the right to sell up to 25% of their products at world market prices as of September 1, according to TASS August 7. The rights were extended to a group of 17 local governments. The increased revenues are to be targeted at developing the region's social infrastructure. The energy can be sold internally or abroad. Many energy producers had asked for permission to sell 50% of their output at world market prices, but Yeltsin rejected that proposal. (John Tedstrom) SOVIET GERMAN CONGRESS SET FOR OCTOBER. The long-delayed officially-sponsored congress of Soviet Germans will take place from October 18-20, Neues Leben reported August 7. The congress had originally been planned for March, but was cancelled at the last minute. The reason given was the referendum on the future of the Soviet Union, but the real grounds seem to have been dissension among the Soviet Germans; the more militant members of the Soviet German "Rebirth" association were sticking out for the restoration of the Volga German republic, while the authorities wanted the Soviet Germans to settle, at least temporarily, for extra-territorial autonomy. Since then, a German national raion has been established in the Altai, and the chances for the restoration of some form of autonomy for the Germans on the Volga seem to have improved marginally. (Ann Sheehy) SPECIAL HARVEST COMMISSION IN KAZAKHSTAN. Radio Moscow, quoting Komsomol'skaya pravda, reported on August 7 that a special commission has been created in Kazakhstan to try to maximize the grain harvest. The commission includes the republican minister of internal affairs and chairman of the KGB, which suggests that it may be the "stick" as opposed to last week's "carrot"--a promise of higher procurement prices for grain. Neither approach is likely to help much--a severe drought has affected the grain-growing areas for months, and apparently farms are considering themselves lucky to obtain half their normal output per hectare. (Bess Brown) MOLDAVIANS FOR TWO INDEPENDENT ROMANIAN STATES. The Romanian Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and the Moldavian Academy's Institute of Social Studies last month conducted jointly a poll on political preferences in Moldavia, using a representative sample of 2,200 residents reflecting the adult population's occupational, educational, age, and ethnic stratification. In the poll's most important finding, 71% agreed with the proposition that Moldavia and Romania "should form two independent states in the period ahead"; 17% disagreed, and 12% had no opinion. The finding reflects the low public support in Moldavia at the present time for the idea of reunification with Romania and the consensus behind the Moldavian leadership's concept of "two independent Romanian states." The poll, with a margin of error was 2%, was reported by Radio Bucharest on August 7. (Vladimir Socor) "DNIESTER SSR" STARTS FORMING OWN OMON UNITS. The would-be Dniester SSR, whose Russian communist leaders on August 6 announced fresh steps toward secession from Moldavia (see Daily Report, August 7), has begun forming OMON detachments of its own. According to Novosti August 7, the Joint Council of Work Collectives (OSTK) and Bendery City Executive Committeee are recruiting "non-Moldavians" into these detachments, offering "high pay." The recruitment drive is being conducted through the military commissariat, reflecting the known links between the "Dniester SSR"'s leaders and the Soviet military in Moldavia. (Vladimir Socor)
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