|One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: that word is love. - Sophocles|
No. 155, 16 August 1991
BALTIC STATES DALLAS TO HOST BALTIC AID CONFERENCE? A delegation of Dallas citizens, including deputy mayor John Evans, arrived in Riga on August 11 to discuss closer cultural, educational, and medical cooperation between the two sister cities. Dallas Mayor Annette Straus has proposed that an international conference be held in her city in 1992 on how the United States can help the Baltics. During the Riga visit, plans for the conference are to be hammered out, Radio Riga reported on August 15. (Dzintra Bungs) CATHOLICS THRONG LATVIAN BASILICA. On August 15, Catholics in Latvia gathered at the Aglona Basilica to celebrate the Assumption of Mary, Radio Riga reported that day. This year the number of participants apparently exceeded all previous records--this would indicate that well over 100,000 people were there. The main mass was celebrated by Archbishop Janis Pujats in Latvian, Latin, German, Polish, Lithuanian, and Russian. Given the strong Marian tradition in Latvia, Assumption Day has been a favorite holiday for all Catholics in Latvia. Recently, it has also become a time for Latgallians to gather and consider not only their religious, but also their national interests. (Dzintra Bungs) BUSH LETTER TO VAGNORIUS. On August 14, President George Bush replied to a letter from Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius concerning the murders at the Medininkai customs post on July 31, Radio Independent Lithuania reported that day. Bush expressed his condolences to the families of the victims and wrote: "We will continue to press the Soviet government to exercise control over the actions of its forces in the Baltic states and to make clear our belief that Moscow is ultimately responsible for acts committed by its personnel." Bush also noted that he had told Gorbachev that "the US attaches great importance to progress toward freedom for the Baltic states, and that our support for the people of the Baltic states will remain constant." (Saulius Girnius) LITHUANIA-ARMENIA TREATY SIGNED. On August 14 a delegation from Armenia, including Supreme Soviet Chairman Levon Ter-Petrosyan, First Deputy Prime Minister Gevorg Vardanian, and Foreign Minister Ashot Egiazarian, flew to Vilnius, Radio Independent Lithuania reported that day. Ter-Petrosyan and Lithuanian Supreme Council Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis signed a bilateral five year treaty recognizing both republics as sovereign states and calling for the development of mutually beneficial cooperation in economy, culture, health care, ecology and other sectors. Lithuania is preparing similar treaties with Moldavia and Georgia. (Saulius Girnius) SOVIET SOLDIERS POSTED AROUND KGB BUILDING. Eight Soviet paratroopers armed with machine guns have been posted outside the KGB headquarters on Gediminas Avenue in Vilnius, Radio Independent Lithuania reported August 14. On August 12, Vilnius residents had begun to picket the building calling for the withdrawal of the KGB from Lithuania and placed a plaque on the building commemorating the Lithuanian guards murdered at the Medininkai customs post on July 31. On August 14 various banners put up by the picketers the previous day were torn down and the building was roped off. There have not been any incidents between the picketers and the paratroopers, who on the following day did not wear their bullet-proof vests. (Saulius Girnius) LOW DRAFT TO SOVIET ARMED FORCES. The Soviet military commissar in Lithuania, Major General Algimantas Visockis, told journalists in Vilnius on August 14 that in Lithuania only 1,500 of the 11,500 youths (13 percent) drafted to the Soviet armed forces had actually joined, Radio Independent Lithuania reported August 15. He said that about 600 of the new recruits were Lithuanians, 450 were Poles, and the remaining were Russians and other nationalities. Visockis also repeated that the USSR does not recognize duty in the Lithuanian National Defense Department as alternative military service. (Saulius Girnius) USSR--ALL-UNION TOPICS YAKOVLEV TO BE EXPELLED FROM CPSU. On August 15, the Buro of the Presidium of the CPSU Central Control Commission recommended that former Politburo member and Party Secretary Aleksandr Yakovlev be expelled from the CPSU, according to TASS and radio and TV reports of that day. Yakovlev was accused of making "statements intended to split the CPSU as well as to remove the CPSU from the political scene"--i.e., participating in the creation of the Movement for Democratic Reforms. At the CC plenum three weeks ago, conservatives attempted to expel Yakovlev, but their motion was overwhelmingly rejected. The Control Commission's recommendation is to be implemented by Yakovlev's primary Party unit, the CPSU CC General Department. As Yakovlev is widely reputed to be the architect of Gorbachev's reforms, his expulsion may put the General Secretary in a very vulnerable position. (Julia Wishnevsky) "YOUNG COMMUNISTS" FACTION. RSFSR Vice-President Aleksandr Rutskoi met on August 14 with the RSFSR People's Deputies who belong to the "Young Communists" faction in the republican Supreme Soviet, TASS reported the same day. The group decided that it must establish an official young people's faction, although not a separate organization, within the Democratic Party of Communists of Russia, which Rutskoi leads. The "Young Communists" do not want to form an opposition party; they want to work with the Komsomol to further the progress of reform. (Dawn Mann) CPSU SECRETARIAT DISCUSSES IMPLEMENTATION OF YELTSIN DECREE. The CPSU Secretariat met on August 15 to discuss the implementation by the RSFSR Communist Party of republican president Boris Yeltsin's decree on de-politicization, TASS reported the same day. CPSU Secretary Yurii Manaenkov reported that a survey of 450 enterprise directors in Moscow revealed only two who think that they do not need a CPSU organization in their enterprise. (Dawn Mann) ANDROPOV'S SECRETARY SLINGS MUD AT MDR LEADERS. Oleg Zakharov, who served as secretary to Brezhnev, Andropov, and Chernenko, appears in the CPSU Central Committee weekly Glasnost' No. 32 with recollections of Yurii Andropov. The sole purpose of this page-long memoir seems to be a desire to discredit two of the founders of the Movement for Democratic Reforms--Arkadii Vol'sky and Aleksandr Yakovlev. Zakharov claims that he once overheard a conversation between Brezhnev and Andropov, in which Andropov categorically opposed Brezhnev's suggestion that Yakovlev be brought back into the Central Committee apparat from his ten-year exile as the Soviet ambassador to Canada. Andropov argued, according to Zakharov, that during his term abroad Yakovlev had "been reborn" (pererodilsya): he had come under foreign influence and his views were now "alien to our ideology." (Julia Wishnevsky) PRAVDA WARNS OF MEDICINE SHORTAGE. Pravda of August 14 cited unnamed doctors as warning that thousands of sick people will "inevitably" die unless the availability of medicines is drastically improved. "There is a catastrophic shortage of medicines in the country. Not only are drugstores empty, but hospitals lack the most necessary items needed to carry out surgical operations," Pravda is quoted as saying by Western agencies. A recent issue of Trud is also cited as stating that the Soviet pharmaceutical industry produces only 34 percent of the medicines needed. Factories that had produced one billion rubles' worth of drugs in 1990 had been closed on environmental grounds. The sum of $4.3 billion had been earmarked for the import of drugs in 1991. (Keith Bush) USSR GOSBANK OPPOSES UNION TREATY. Writing in the latest issue of Moscow News, USSR Gosbank Chairman Viktor Gerashchenko has strongly criticized the monetary provisions of the new Union Treaty, Western agencies reported August 14. He is quoted as saying that the Treaty will make it "impossible to pursue a single monetary and credit policy in the country... Consequently, it will mean the break-up of monetary circulation with its harmful effect on the entire economy and wellbeing of the population..." Gerashchenko called for the relevant provisions of the Treaty to be amended to the effect that republics be required to follow a central monetary policy. Cf. John Tedstrom, "Soviet Fiscal Federalism in a Time of Crisis," Report on the USSR, No. 31, 1991. (Keith Bush) SOVIET ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE IN JULY. In contradiction to recent claims by Soviet Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov that the economy has begun to stabilize, Goskomstat figures for July indicate that only the pace of deterioration has slowed somewhat, and only in a few sectors. The strongest recovery seems to have been in the mining and natural resources industries, according to a TASS review August 14. The average daily production of oil was the same in July as it was in June. The fall in production in some manufacturing sectors has slowed--at least for now--as well. Industrial production is off by 6.2 percent compared to the first seven months of 1990. These trends are too weak and too new to be characterized as a stabilization. If performance continues along these lines for another two or three months, Pavlov might have a case. (John Tedstrom) DIRECTORY OF SOVIET ENTERPRISES. The USSR Goskomstat plans to publish a six-volume directory with details of some 45,000 Soviet enterprises, TASS reported August 12. The volumes will each cost around $1,000, and the first will go on sale in October by subscription from TASS. The declared aim of the publication is to help potential foreign investors. (It will also make a lot of money for the USSR Goskomstat and TASS). (Keith Bush) FORD DEALERSHIPS IN THE USSR. The Ford Motor Company has opened a joint venture dealership in Dnepropetrovsk and will open a second in Tallinn later this year, Western agencies reported August 14. Further Ford service centers are planned for Moscow and Leningrad. These centers will sell and service European-made Ford cars and trucks for hard-currency only. (Keith Bush) NUMBER OF INFANT DEATHS DOWN. The number of deaths of infants under the age of one in the USSR has declined from 129,793 in 1985 to 116,259 in 1989, and 106,585 in 1990, the USSR State Committee on Statistics informed TASS August 14. The report does not give the rate of infant mortality per 100,000 live births, and the decline may not be as significant as might appear at first sight if the number of live births has declined as well. The report adds that the level of infant mortality in the USSR is still more than twice as high as in the US, France, Great Britain, Germany, and Japan. (Ann Sheehy) SCHISM IN THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH. Radio Rossiya reported on August 14 that Patriarch Aleksii II had warned that a schism has developed in the Russian Orthodox Church. On previous occasions, he has used the term "schism" to apply to the actions of certain Moscow parishes which have transferred themselves to the jurisdiction of the US-based Russian Free Orthodox Church. (Oxana Antic) SOVIET PILGRIMS AT WORLD YOUTH DAY. Western agencies reported on August 15 on the participation of Soviet young people in the World Youth Day celebrations in Czestochowa, Poland. Church sources estimated that 50,000-70,000 pilgrims from the Soviet Union followed the invitation of Pope John Paul II to come to the youth rally. (Oxana Antic) NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT CONFERENCE IN MOSCOW. A co-chairman of the Uzbek Women's Association Tomaris has informed the RL Uzbek Service that the tenth European Conference on Nuclear Disarmament is being held in Moscow for the first time. The majority of the Soviet participants, according to the Tomaris spokeswoman, are members of democratic movements from across the USSR, including Memorial, the Russian Social Democratic Party, and the Uzbek Popular Front Birlik as well as her own organization. The August 16 session is a Women's Forum which is discussing the concerns of mothers of Soviet servicemen. (Timur Kocaoglu/Bess Brown) USSR--IN THE REPUBLICS WITH SOME "IFS", PKP WILL REMOVE ITS CELLS, KUPTSOV SAYS. Valentin Kuptsov, the new first secretary of the RSFSR Communist Party, said on "Vesti" on August 14 that his Party will remove its cells from state enterprises within a year in compliance with Yeltsin's edict on "departification," if the USSR Committee for Constitutional Compliance approves the decree. Kuptsov said that he and Yeltsin had agreed on this during their meeting the previous day. On the expulsion from the Party of RSFSR Vice-President Aleksandr Rutskoi, Kuptsov said that his party sometimes made "ill-thought-out decisions." On August 15, Kuptsov confirmed on Central Television that the RKP Politburo had demanded that stern measures be taken against Movement for Democratic Reforms founders Aleksandr Yakovlev and Eduard Shevardnadze. (Julia Wishnevsky) TRAVKIN FOR PRESERVATION OF THE SOVIET UNION. The leader of the Democratic Party of Russia, Nikolai Travkin, said at a meeting in the Moldavian city of Tiraspol' that his party is for the preservation of the Soviet Union. Travkin stated that his party seeks to become an all-Union democratic party which will challenge the CPSU for power. Travkin started to cooperate with Eduard Shevardnadze and other Reform Communists in setting up the Movement for Democratic Reform some weeks ago but later quit the organizational committee. Travkin denied in Tiraspol' that he wants to run for the USSR presidency next year. (Alexander Rahr) LUTHERANS DEMAND THEIR CHURCH CLOCK FROM KGB. Novosti reported on August 14 that a Moscow authorities intend to return the Cathedral of Peter and Paul in the center of the city to the Lutheran Church. At present the cathedral houses a studio for the production of slide-films. Lutheran circles in Moscow maintain that the big clock on the front of the nearby KGB headquarters was removed from the church when the building was confiscated. KGB representatives, however, say that a photograph in the possession of the KGB shows the facade of the building at the beginning of the century with the clock in place. Lutheran believers insist that there were two identical clocks and that the KGB expropriated the church's clock when theirs was broken. (Oxana Antic) SOPHIA CATHEDRAL IN NOVGOROD RETURNED TO THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH. Radio Rossiya reported on August 15 that the previous day Novgorod's Sophia Cathedral and its icons were returned to the Russian Orthodox Church. The Radio correspondent calls this an important event for the whole country. Two monasteries which house museums were also returned but an agreement was reached under which these buildings may continue to be used as museums. This agreement was greeted by the Radio as a "gorgeous example" of alliance between the state and the Church. (Oxana Antic) CHURCH DEMANDS RETURN OF CLOISTER OCCUPIED BY KGB. Vesti, the Russian television news show, reported on August 14 that Bishop Evlogii of Vladimir and Suzdal' is demanding the return to the Church of the 800 year-old Rozhdestvenskii Monastery in Vladimir. The building is occupied by the KGB administration for Vladimir Oblast. The bishop wants to use it for the eparchal administration and a seminary. According to the report, the oblast KGB has said that it will move out "gladly" if another building can be found. (Oxana Antic) BOTTLING LAKE BAIKAL. "Water from Lake Baikal on Sale," is the headline of an article in Izvestia of August 13. Bottled water from the lake will shortly be on sale in some Soviet cities as early as September, while Soviet and Western firms are looking into large-scale bottling ventures. Officials in Irkutsk are quoted as calculating that the sale of Baikal water would be far more profitable--and ecologically beneficial--than the continued operation of the huge pulp and paper mill on the lake's shore. (Keith Bush) COLONEL PRAISES SERAFIM OF SAROV. Soyuz No. 32 contains a report by Izvestia correspondent Anatolii Ershov on the role of the army in restoration work done at the Diveevo Convent in connection with the return of the relics of Serafim of Sarov. Ershov interviewed Colonel A. Raspopov, chief of the board of military construction departments of the USSR ministry of the nuclear power industry, who described the significance of St. Serafim for Russians and said that the military construction specialists have finished about 60 percent of the work on the convent. (Oxana Antic) PERESTROIKA COMES TO GORBACHEV'S BIRTH-PLACE. Should Gorbachev fail to win reelection in the presidential election scheduled for next year, he could return to farming. He has just become eligible to claim his late father's share (14.5 acres) in the Yakov Sverdlov collective farm in the village of Privolnoe in Stavropol Krai in south Russia, where Gorbachev himself was born. On August 12, the collective farm was disbanded; it is being replaced by a farmers' association, Novosti reported on August 14. (Elizabeth Teague) UNIVERSITY OF COUNTRIES OF NORTHERN EUROPE TO BE CREATED IN KARELIA. The local authorities of the Karelian republic have informed the relevant departments of Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Sweden of their intention to create a university of the countries of Northern Europe in the Karelian capital, Petrozavodsk, TASS reported August 14. Initial reactions have been favorable, TASS said. The new university will be based on the existing Petrozavodsk university. It is proposed that the Scandinavian countries should provide the university with modern equipment and allocate funds for new construction, in return for which their students would receive free tuition. (Ann Sheehy) CATHOLIC CATHEDRAL RETURNED TO BELIEVERS. Ukrinform-TASS reported on August 15 that the first festive mass has been conducted in the Catholic cathedral of Odessa to celebrate its return by local authorities after forty years. In recent years, more than 100 church buildings in Odessa Oblast alone have been returned to believers. (Oxana Antic) SOVIET INTERIOR MINISTRY TROOPS HELD HOSTAGE IN NKAO. Thirty-three Soviet Interior Ministry troops were taken hostage August 13 and eight more August 14 by Armenian militants who wish to exchange them for Armenians arrested in recent months, TASS and Interfax report. The USSR MVD Deputy chief of staff, Major-General Valeri Starikov, has threatened to use force to free the hostages, who are being held in the Nagorno-Karabakh village of Aterk, which is surrounded by interior ministry troops. Western news agencies quote KGB chairman Vladimir Kryuchkov and USSR Minister of the Interior Boris Pugo as threatening punitive measures if the hostages are not freed. (Liz Fuller) GEORGIA NATIONALIZES BANKS. Western news agencies quoting TASS reported August 15 that the Georgian parliament has ordered the nationalization of all local branches of all-Union banks on Georgian territory. Georgian branches of the Soviet Central Bank will constitute a national Bank of Georgia, while branches of other federal banks will be transformed into state banks or Georgian-owned commercial banks. (Liz Fuller) ARMENIA LIFTS STATE OF EMERGENCY. The state of emergency imposed in Armenia on August 29, 1990, after the shooting of a member of parliament in Erevan by informal paramilitaries was lifted at midnight on August 15 by order of the Armenian Supreme Soviet, TASS and Interfax reported August 15. The Armenian parliament's decision was prompted by the need "to guarantee democracy and normal social conditions" in the runup to the referendum on secession from the USSR scheduled for September 21. (Liz Fuller) AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT TO VISIT IRAN. Azerbaijani President Ayaz Mutalibov travels to Iran August 16 to begin an official visit aimed at improving economic and cultural ties between Iran and Azerbaijan, RL's Azerbaijani BD was informed August 15 by a Presidential spokesman. (Liz Fuller) CENTRAL ASIAN PRESIDENTS' AGREEMENT. TASS reported on August 14 that the meeting of Central Asian presidents in Tashkent ended with the signing of several documents, the most important of which creates an interrepublican council to oversee the implementation of agreements among the Central Asian republics. The prime minister of Azerbaijan, who also attended the meeting, declared that Azerbaijan wants to become integrated into the Central Asian economy. An article in the July 27 issue of Nezavisimaya gazeta noted the progress of Central Asian leaders toward regional unification and speculated that a "Greater Turkestan" could be in process of formation. (Bess Brown) NAZARBAEV REFUSES TO SIGN CHEVRON CONTRACT. In the latest development in the Tengizchevroil saga, this week's issue of Moscow News states that Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev has refused to sign the contract giving Chevron development rights at the Tengiz oil fields, APN reported August 14. Nazarbaev is quoted as saying that the USSR government was not conscientious in negotiating the transaction. He is drafting a decree declaring the oil fields to be Kazakh property. This means that the Kazakh government will conduct all further negotiations on developing the Tengiz and other oil fields in Kazakhstan. The New York Times of August 16 carries a good survey of the Tengizchevroil dispute. (Keith Bush) NEW DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT IN KYRGYZSTAN. Members of the progressive "For Democratic Renewal" faction in Kyrgyzstan's Supreme Soviet have formed a new democratic movement, "Popular Unity," in Bishkek, according to Slovo Kyrgyzstana of August 6. The new group, which includes republican Vice-President German Kuznetsov, Bishkek mayor Amangel'dy Muraliev and Pravda correspondent Yurii Razgulyaev, says that it unites reformist members of the republican Communist Party and of the national democratic movements of all nationalities, and supports the all-Union Movement for Democratic Reforms. The members of Democratic Kyrygzstan, the previously-formed democratic movement, are primarily Kirgiz. (Bess Brown) "DNIESTER SSR" TAKES ANOTHER STEP TOWARD SECESSION FROM MOLDAVIA. The leadership of the would-be Dniester SSR in eastern Moldavia has ordered all enterprises, institutions, and organizations of republican subordination in the area, effective immediately, to pass from Kishinev's jurisdiction to the jurisdiction of the "Dniester SSR," TASS reported August 15. The move by the Russian communist leaders of the would-be republic appears calculated to pressure Kishinev into reconsidering its opposition to the union treaty. (Vladimir Socor)
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