|Nothing helps scenery like ham and eggs. - Mark Twain|
No. 151, 09 August 1991
BALTIC STATES USSR MINISTRY OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS ON INVESTIGATION. USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs spokesman Yurii Tupikov said that the investigation of the killings at the Medininkai border post is proceeding with the cooperation of Lithuanian authorities, TASS reported August 8. "There is complete mutual understanding," he said. Tupikov declined to describe any results of the investigation in detail, but did say that ballistics tests were carried out to determine the type of weapon used in the attack. The sole survivor drifts in and out of consciousness, and it is not clear whether he will recover. The investigators hope that he will eventually be able to testify as a witness. (Gytis Liulevicius) MORE DENIALS. In yet another denial of complicity in the Medininkai murders, the KGB brushed off accusations as "fully groundless," TASS reported August 8. The separate KGB denial followed a joint KGB, Interior and Defense Ministry statement released August 7. The KGB responded to allegations made by the independent military organization "Shield," calling them "provocational." The statement warned that such "tendentious conclusions" could seriously hinder bringing "the real guilty party" to justice." (Gytis Liulevicius) SAJUDIS TO DEMONSTRATE AGAINST OMON. Sajudis called on Lithuanians to participate in a three-day picket of the Vilnius OMON base, Radio Independent Lithuania reported August 8. The action will begin on August 9, with a large protest rally scheduled for August 10. Many Lithuanians tend to suspect the OMON of involvement in the Medininkai murders, pointing to the numerous border post attacks linked to the OMON in the past. Sajudis considers the OMON one of the "repressive structures of the USSR" and demands its withdrawal from Lithuanian territory. (Gytis Liulevicius) LATVIA'S OPPOSITION FACTION NO LONGER ENDORSES UNION TREATY. Sergei Dimanis, opposition leader in the Latvian Supreme Council, told Radio Riga on August 8 that he and other deputies of the Ravnopravie faction no longer endorse the USSR Union treaty--heretofore a fundamental concept of the faction's political program. He said that the treaty does not serve a useful purpose at this time and would not prevent the USSR from sliding into chaos. He proposed instead an economic accord among the USSR republics, something similar to the agreement serving as foundation for the European Common Market. Dimanis added that a political accord might come later, but that it depended on future developments, the course of which could not be determined now. (Dzintra Bungs) FM STATION LAUNCHED IN RIGA, BUT WHO WILL LISTEN? Radio Riga reported on August 5 about a new radio station in Riga that plans to air regular programs on August 10. It is already broadcasting music four hours daily. The new station, owned jointly by private persons and a cooperative, has only a small audience in Latvia. Generally, FM programs cannot be picked up by Soviet- or Latvian-made radios, which most listeners own. Only a few listeners have Western-made radios. (Dzintra Bungs) WATER PURIFICATION PROBLEMS OF LATVIAN CITIES. Only 2 of the 29 cities in Latvia have effluent purification plants, reported Radio Riga on August 5. The situation is particularly bad in Riga where only 8% of the effluent is properly treated, 67% is partially treated, and the rest is passed on untreated and eventually reaches the water supply systems. A partial solution to these problems can be expected in Riga when the effluent purification plant is completed, but most of the other cities have not started to draw up plans for an effluent and sewage treatment plant. (Dzintra Bungs) USSR PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE STUMPS IN TALLINN. Self-proclaimed candidate for the USSR Presidency and leader of the "USSR Liberal Democratic Party" Vladimir Zhirinovsky made a "campaign stop" on August 7 in Tallinn, Paevaleht reported the next day. Zhirinovsky told an Intermovement audience that if elected, he would rename the USSR as Russia and would exile those who intend to sign "the anti-state document they call the Union treaty." (Riina Kionka) "BLACK COLONEL" ALKSNIS TO GOVERN BALTIC? In his stump speech covered by Paevaleht on August 8, Vladimir Zhirinovsky also promised to change the USSR's current national-territorial organization to a strictly administrative one. "I will create by decree 100-120 provinces [gubernii]," Zirinovski said. He explained that Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Kaliningrad Oblast, and part of Pskov would comprise the Baltic unit, which the MVD OMON's "Black Colonel" Alksnis had agreed to govern. Zhirinovsky, who came in third in June's RSFSR presidential elections, said he expects elections for the USSR presidency to be held sometime in the next 8 months. (Riina Kionka) USSR - ALL-UNION TOPICS CPSU DRAFT PROGRAM CHANGES. Pravda published the revised version of the CPSU draft program on August 8, and Western news agencies report that several significant changes have been made. Party members will be required to pay dues and to participate in local Party organizations. A sentence noting that Communist deputies owed first allegiance to their voters has been struck, as has a paragraph critical of Bolshevism. The new version also contains a call for a united armed forces under a central leadership and states that the CPSU "rejects interference by state bodies in the activities of public groups" that adhere to the USSR Constitution--a clear reaction to Yeltsin's decree on depoliticization.(Dawn Mann) COMMUNIST PARTY FACING BANKRUPTCY? The Washington Post and The New York Times today (August 9) quote from what are said to be secret Party documents published in the independent newspaper Nezavisimaya gazeta August 8. These show the CPSU facing a budget deficit this year of 1.1 billion rubles--five times more than last year's shortfall. The deficit is blamed on sharp drops in membership dues and sales of Party newspapers. The fall in revenue comes at a moment when RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin's determination to oust the CPSU from enterprises in the RSFSR threatens to involve the Communist Party in the expense of paying local officials and hiring office space--until now, such bills were footed by the enterprises, not the Party. Nezavisimaya gazeta says that, if things continue as at present, the CPSU will face bankruptcy within a few years. (Elizabeth Teague) SCANDAL BREWING OVER CHERNOBYL DONATIONS. In what promises to develop into a major scandal, Nezavisimaya gazeta (as quoted by The Washington Post) cites a "Party source" as saying that 500 million rubles designated in 1990 for child victims of Chernobyl were appropriated by Party bosses in the region and never reached the children for whom the money was intended. (Elizabeth Teague) AND ANOTHER OVER OLD AGE PENSIONS? Interviewed by The Financial Times (August 8), CPSU Central Committee member Otto Latsis said that, in order to cover its budget deficit, the CPSU is having to dig into a fund of 4.5 billion rubles that the Party donated last year, with much flourish, as a contribution to old age pensions. The Party is also, Latsis said, beginning to capitalize on its holdings of real estate and renting property to foreign businesses and joint ventures. (Elizabeth Teague) AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS SET TO STRIKE. Soviet air traffic controllers, who have called a strike for tomorrow (August 10), are poised to walk off the job at midnight tonight (August 9) after meeting with government officials yesterday, Western agencies reported August 8. They rejected a government proposal as insufficient, and no new talks are scheduled. Controllers' union vice-president Sergei Yevsyukov said the meeting yesterday with USSR Minister of Civil Aviation Boris Panyukov left only one issue unresolved: Panyukov has refused to rescind an order to punish controllers in two regions who threatened to strike last May. Soviet pilots reportedly also plan a strike alert for tomorrow and have said they will go on strike September 2 if talks break down. Both controllers and pilots want the government to honor promises made in the agreement that averted a strike in May. (Sallie Wise) USSR PROCURACY CONSIDERS STRIKE ILLEGAL. TASS reported August 8 that First Deputy General Prosecutor Aleksei Vasil'ev informed air traffic controllers' union officials that day that their proposed strike is illegal. Vasil'ev said that the strike would violate Article 12 on the USSR law on resolving collective labor disputes, and mentioned "possible legal consequences" in the event of a strike. Another TASS dispatch the same day reported that the USSR Ministry of Civil Aviation also considers the strike to be illegal and that the Moscow city court had started a hearing on the matter. (Sallie Wise) BUNICH ON PRIVATIZATION. The president of the Union of Soviet Lease-Holders and Entrepreneurs, Pavel Bunich, told a Moscow press conference August 6 that the number of enterprises excluded from privatization will be reduced by a factor of three, TASS reported that day. Bunich expected a government announcement to this effect during the week commencing August 12. About 17% of the 800 billion rubles' worth of state property will remain in the state sector but even these enterprises will be partially open to bids. He announced that an international forum on economic cooperation between East European countries is planned for October 22 in Leningrad: it will be chaired by Bunich and Margaret Thatcher. (Keith Bush) SOVIET OIL PRICE HIKES TO SPUR INFLATION. Officials at the Soviet oil and gas ministry expect wholesale fuel prices to triple to some 210 rubles per ton, the Russian Information Agency and Western agencies reported August 8. Izvestia of August 6 noted that oil production this year is to fall from the 1988 level of 642 million tons to 510-520 million. The price rises are part of an effort to spur production. Oil and gas ministry officials expect significant knock-on effects throughout the economy. The reports say that millions of Muscovites in cooperative housing would have to pay four times as much next year for heating. The question of prices for RSFSR energy resources was raised earlier this week during Yeltsin's trip to the Tyumen' region. There, he promised to renegotiate energy prices with the Union republics after they sign the new Union Treaty. (John Tedstrom) LISICHKIN ON AGRICULTURAL PROSPECTS. The veteran economist and specialist on farming, Gennadii Lisichkin, has contributed his assessment of the current state of Soviet agriculture in an APN dispatch of August 9. It is grim. Not only is the size of the anticipated grain harvest down from the 1990 level, but the disintegration of vertical and horizontal links has cut off the supply of many producer goods to the farms. The increasingly unfavorable terms of trade for agriculture have led to distress culling of livestock inventories, and the reluctance of farms to accept rubles for their produce suggests that procurements will be even lower than last year. (Keith Bush) NO FAMINE THIS WINTER? At a press conference covered by Vremya August 7, Egor Stroyev, chairman of the CPSU agrarian commission, sought to allay fears of food shortages this winter. While stressing that the harvest is proceeding better this year, he noted that total grain production is expected to be lower than in 1990. Stroyev concluded that "there is no basis for speaking today about an approaching hungry winter. It is important to gather the harvest and use it more effectively." Stroyev's statement contradicts remarks made just a few days ago by deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Shcherbakov suggesting that a real threat of famine exists. (Carla Thorson) "SOYUZ" CALLS FOR RENEWED TIES WITH IRAQ. A delegation of USSR Supreme Soviet deputies from the hardline "Soyuz" faction has returned from Iraq and at a press conference yesterday called for the restoration of close Soviet-Iraqi ties. TASS August 8 quoted delegation leader Evgenii Kogan as saying that Iraqi officials, businessmen, and ordinary citizens emphasized the need for the USSR to revive its contacts with Iraq and to strengthen cooperation, above all in the economic sphere. Kogan accused the Soviet Foreign Ministry of "insufficient activity and even political myopia" in its seeming reluctance to broaden ties with Iraq. "Soyuz" was highly critical of Soviet support for the Gulf war. (Sallie Wise) SOVIET-INDIAN TREATY RENEWED. Today (August 9) is the twentieth anniversary of the Treaty of Peace, Friendship, and Cooperation between the USSR and India. TASS reported August 8 that the treaty would be renewed automatically at midnight that night. A joint Soviet-Indian declaration on the prolongation of the treaty, as reported by TASS August 8, stated that the accord is the basis of the "particularly friendly relations between India and the USSR," and that the two countries have decided to extend the treaty for another twenty years. (Sallie Wise) LIGACHEV MOURNS "LOSS" OF EASTERN EUROPE. Sovetskaya Rossiya of August 3 published a new excerpt from Egor Ligachev's memoirs. This fragment is devoted to the Soviet Union's "loss" of Eastern Europe--a development which, according to Ligachev, should be almost entirely blamed on his Politburo rivals Aleksandr Yakovlev and Eduard Shevardnadze. Similarly, in an earlier excerpt published in the same newspaper in March, Ligachev blamed Yakovlev for the Party's failure to suppress the Baltic popular fronts in 1988. (Julia Wishnevsky) CPSU CC WEEKLY ATTACKS PARTY REACTIONARIES. Sovetskaya kul'tura published on August 3 a long article by I. Zaramensky, deputy head of the CPSU Central Committee department on relations with [other] political organizations. Highly unusual for a Central Committee newspaper these days, the article criticized recent publications by high-placed Party reactionaries, such as RSFSR CP Politburo member Gennadii Zyuganov and Leningrad ideologue Yurii Belov. Zaramensky argued that a split in the CPSU would be better than the "slow death and disintegration" that the Party is undergoing now. Zaramensky believes that the CPSU should support the Movement for Democratic Reforms and defends Aleksandr Yakovlev against "populist hunting" by Party reactionaries, who, Zaramensky says, are lacking "ideological intellect." (Julia Wishnevsky) "NO PROVISION" IN RULES TO GET RID OF YAKOVLEV. In the same article, Zaramensky shed new light on an attempt to expel Yakovlev from the CPSU at the last Central Committee plenum. Zaramensky revealed that acting head of the Party Control Committee Makhov told the plenum that the Party rules provide no legal grounds even for reprimanding Yakovlev, let alone expelling him. (In an interview published on another page of the same newspaper, Yakovlev said that the only reason he has not quit the CPSU is that he is "curious to watch how they look for a [proper] article in the Rules" to get rid of him.) It remains a mystery how a political party that systematically pushes away all its most popular members could expect to win elections. (Julia Wishnevsky) THE LIBERAL KGB? Writing in Russkii kur'er (no. 15), Soviet journalist Leonid Radzikhovsky claimed that the KGB has escaped from Party supervision and now supports the transition to a market economy and privatization, hoping to remain in control over political and economic developments in the country. Radzikhovsky maintained that last December, KGB chief Vladimir Kryuchkov made an unsuccessful attempt to win the post of USSR Vice President. He suggested that the democrats should cooperate with reformist forces in the KGB and asserted that the KGB, if it gets rid of Marxist ideology, could become a major guarantee of stability in the process of democratization. (Alexander Rahr) USSR - IN THE REPUBLICS DEPUTIES DEMAND EXPLANATION FROM YELTSIN ON SIGNING OF TREATY. Eleven deputies of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet, including Sergei Shakhrai, chairman of its Legislative Committee, and Vladimir Novikov, head of its Council of Factions, met August 6 and decided to demand an explanation from Yeltsin as to why he is intending to sign the Union treaty on August 20 when the RSFSR Supreme Soviet, which is not due to convene again until mid-September, will not have had an opportunity to debate the final text as it insisted it should in its resolution of July 18, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported August 8. The situation is aggravated by the fact that the revised text has not been published. Novikov told journalists that, if Yeltsin ignored their request, they would issue an appeal to all deputies. (Ann Sheehy) APPEAL TO YELTSIN NOT TO SIGN UNION TREATY. Nezavisimaya gazeta of August 8 published an appeal to Yeltsin from a group of parliamentarians and public figures, including Yurii Afanas'ev and Elena Bonner, calling on him not to sign the Union treaty when the final text had not been made available to the population of the RSFSR. The authors of the appeal complain that the latest published text, "prepared in secret and not subjected to detailed discussion either in the press or the RSFSR Supreme Soviet," is unsatisfactory, and suggest that the main theses of the treaty be the subject of an RSFSR referendum. (Ann Sheehy) RUTSKOI'S EXPULSION UPHELD. The Party organization of the Soviet Air Force Main Political Administration decided on August 8 to uphold the decision of the RSFSR Communist Party Central Committee expelling RSFSR Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi from the Party, TASS reported the same day. Rutskoi told Radio Rossii that the Party's aim was to intimidate the other Party members who support the Democratic Party of Russian Communists. He plans to appeal the decision to the CPSU Central Committee. (Dawn Mann) FORMER KGB GENERAL KALUGIN MADE HONORARY KUBAN' COSSACK. Former KGB general Oleg Kalugin has become an honorary Kuban' Cossack, according to TSN of August 7. In the presence of a priest, Kalugin knelt, kissed a cross, and swore to serve God and the Fatherland, for the glory of the Cossacks. Kalugin is a deputy from Krasnodar krai, the home of the Kuban' Cossacks, who have recently again become a force to be reckoned with. An article in Izvestia of July 5, however, portrayed the local Cossack leadership as liberally sprinkled with Party functionaries and army, KGB, and MVD officers and as under the influence of conservative Party views. (Ann Sheehy) MUTALIBOV REJECTS RUSSIAN MEDIATION IN TRANSCAUCASUS. Moscow independent journalist Dmitri Volchek told RFE/RL August 8 that three Russian People's Deputies met this week in Baku with Azerbaijani President Ayaz Mutalibov and with Viktor Polyanichko, head of the Organizing Committee that currently administers Nagorno-Karabakh, to propose plans for a settlement of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the NKAO. Mutalibov reportedly rejected the deputies' proposal and told them that their presence in Baku was undesirable. (Liz Fuller) SUPPORTERS REMOVE RAZUMAU FROM COURTROOM. Seventy Belorussian workers from Orsha travelled by bus to Mogilev August 7 and entered the courtroom where independent labor leader Mikalay Razumau is on trial. Independent Minsk journalist Yas Valoshka told RFE/RL's Belorussian service August 8 that the workers carried Razumau out of the courtroom in a protective cordon back to their bus, and then back to Orsha without incident. The workers have vowed to protect Razumau until his trial is moved from Mogilev to Orsha, and they have also demanded that non-Communist judges be appointed to his case. (Sallie Wise) 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) ROMANIAN MINISTER FOR REUNIFICATION WITH MOLDAVIA IN STAGES. Interviewed in Tokyo by the Kyodo news agency, as cited by Radio Bucharest August 8, Romanian Foreign Minister Adrian Nastase said that Romania expects to achieve reunification with Moldavia in three stages: formation of a cultural confederation, formation of an economic confederation, and finally merger "on the German model." Nastase added that "if the Soviets want to have a friendly nation on their border, they must take into account that nation's concerns, wishes, and expectations." This is the first time that a senior Romanian official publicly has outlined a strategy for reunification with Moldavia. Until now, Bucharest has professed unconditional adherence to Moldavia's concept of "two independent Romanian states." Indeed, Foreign Ministry spokesman Teodor Melescanu was cited by TASS August 8 as reiterating the latter position. (Vladimir Socor) STATE OF ISLAM IN KAZAKHSTAN. There are now more than 230 Muslim religious communities in Kazakhstan, five times more than five years ago, according to the mufti of Kazakhstan Ratbek Nysanbaev, as reported by TASS on August 8. Mullahs now take part in all aspects of public life, several translations of the Koran into Kazakh have been made, an Islamic institute is now functioning in Alma-Ata, there are courses for Muslim clergy in several cities in southern Kazakhstan, and an independent newspaper Islam shapagaty has begun to appear. At the same time there has been an increase in the number and influence of adherents of "pure Islam," who on some questions are in opposition to the Muslim Religious Board. (Ann Sheehy) WORLD COUNCIL PROTESTS DESECRATION OF ARMENIAN CHURCH. Infonovosti reported on August 7 that the Secretary General of the World Council of Churches and the Secretary General of the Conference of European Churches addressed a letter to Gorbachev about the desecration of an Armenian Church. The letter said that the Catholicos of the Apostolic Armenian Church, Vazgen, informed these religious leaders about the act of desecration of the temple of Gandzasar in Nagorno-Karabakh, the only center of religious life there. (Oxana Antic)
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.