|The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none. - Thomas Carlyle 1975-1881|
No. 186, 30 September 1991
USSR-ALL-UNION TOPICS AND RSFSR SILAEV RESIGNS RSFSR POST--FINALLY. Ivan Silaev officially resigned his post as RSFSR Prime Minister September 27, TASS reported that day. Silaev still heads the recently created Committee for Operational Management of the National Economy, and the Interrepubican Economic Committee. Silaev said his desire to devote his full energies to interrepublican economics was the chief motive for his move. He earlier had announced his intention to resign from the post of chairman of the Operational Management Committee after complaints arose that the RSFSR was over-represented by his occupying that position. Significantly, Silaev must see a future in some type of economic union among the former republics. (John Tedstrom) SILAEV'S COMMITTEE RESUMES WORK. Silaev opened the Committee for Operational Management of the National Economy's current working session September 27, Moscow Radio reported that day. The committee focused its attention on questions of food availability, foreign debt, reducing budgetary expenditures, and deciding on the structure and functions of the new Interrepublican Economic Committee. No details of any decisions taken were made available. (John Tedstrom) ECONOMIC UNION TREATY SIGNED SOON? Speaking to reporters after meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on September 27, President Mikhail Gorbachev again voiced the hope that "many" of the 15 current or former republics would sign the Treaty of Economic Union in Alma-Ata before October 10, Interfax reported September 27. However, several republics, including Ukraine, recently have expressed their opposition to suggested specific provisions of the Treaty. (Keith Bush) YAVLINSKY REVEALS SIZE OF GOLD RESERVES. Interviewed on Central Television September 27, Grigorii Yavlinsky estimated that the USSR had sold off two-thirds of its gold reserves in 1990, and that holdings were now down to 240 tons, worth about $3 billion at current world prices, Western agencies reported September 28. He also disclosed that Soviet gold sales had been exceeding 400 tons a year for several years. If Yavlinsky's figures are correct--and there is little reason to doubt them--this would mean that the volume of gold sales has been higher, and the level of gold reserves lower, than most Western estimates had placed them. It also suggests that Moscow's need for debt relief is acute. (Keith Bush) MODIFIED RESCHEDULING OF SOVIET FOREIGN DEBT? Unconfirmed reports out of Washington and Tokyo suggest that the Group of Seven (G7) industrial nations tentatively has agreed to some kind of rescheduling of Moscow's foreign debts, Western agencies reported September 27 and 29. A one-year grace period or payments "standstill" reportedly is being contemplated for the roughly $4 billion's worth of repayments still outstanding in 1991. This apparently would not include payments for emergency shipments of foodstuffs and medical supplies that are widely con-sidered to be required during the winter months. A proposal on the rescheduling is expected to be discussed by the G7 meeting on October 12. (Keith Bush) BUDGET DEFICIT REACHES 200 BILLION. Izvestia of September 29 reported that the Soviet budget deficit had already surpassed the 200-billion-ruble level. This figure is thought to include both the central government deficit and the combined deficits of the republics. The planned budget deficit for the entire year was originally set at 26.6 billion rubles. Just over two weeks ago, a deficit of 200 billion rubles was predicted for 1991 (TASS, September 13). It now looks as if the year's deficit will top 300 billion, or over 25% of the GNP. (Keith Bush) SOBCHAK ON THE STUMP. Elaborating on calls he has recently made in London and Paris, St. Petersburg mayor Anatolii Sobchak appealed to a banking conference in Frankfurt September 27 for sales of surplus EC foodstuffs, Western agencies reported that day. Sobchak suggested that up to $10 billion's worth of surplus food be sold to the USSR on credit. This could then be sold to the Soviet population for up to 150 billion rubles which would, in turn, be made available for investment in the economy, including the creation of 100,000 new farms. He also invited unemployed or underemployed West European farmers to try their hand in the USSR. (Keith Bush) INTO THE BLACK HOLE? Sobchak caused some consternation among his audience of German bankers when he mentioned that a search was on for the whereabouts of a DM 2.5 billion loan received from the former West Germany in 1987. He said that no written trace could be found of the loan. (Keith Bush) POLITICAL PRISONERS RELEASED. In accordance with the request of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet Human Rights Committee, RSFSR Presidents Boris Yeltsin and Kyrgyzstan's President Askar Akaev pardoned six political prisoners convicted either for attempted flight abroad or for attempted espionage. Komsomol'skaya pravda of September21 identified the prisoners as Aleksandr Goldovich, Valerii Smirnov, Anatolii Khobt, Aleksei Shcherbakov, Viktor Olisesnevich, and Valerii Yanin. In a related event, on September 20 Vesti interviewed an official from the office of the RSFSR General Prosecutor, who said that the office intends to exonerate all former prisoners of conscience, such as those convicted for the August 1968 demonstration in protest of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, and Vladimir Bukovsky. (Julia Wishnevsky) RUSSIA MOURNS COUP VICTIMS. Thousands of Muscovites went to the Russian White House September 29 to commemorate the 40th day since the death of the three victims of the abortive coup (according to the Russian Orthodox faith, the souls of the dead leave the earth for the other world 40 days after death.) The meeting was addressed by RSFSR Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi and other defenders of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet. That evening, famous Soviet, American, and British cultural figures paid tribute to the heroes at a free concert in the Bolshoi Theater, broadcast live by RSFSR TV. The concert was attended by Mikhail and Raisa Gorbachev, Ruslan Khasbulatov, and Ivan Silaev. Both events included Russian Orthodox and Jewish prayers, as one of the three victims was a Jew. (Julia Wishnevsky) KOMSOMOL DISBANDED. The all-Union Komsomol voted itself out of existence at its 22nd Extraordinary Congress September 28, TASS reported that day. The organization's central apparatus will be dismantled over the next ten months, and a temporary coordinating council will oversee the activities of republic Komsomol groups, TASS correspondents reported September 29. The thorny question of disposing of the Komsomol's assets was debated but unresolved; the congress appealed to the Presidium of the Russian parliament to settle the question of justly dispersing the all-Union Komsomol's property to republic Komsomol organizations. Delegates also addressed the Presidents of the USSR, RSFSR, and several other republics to halt the process in some republics of "forced confiscation" of the group's all-Union assets. (Sallie Wise Chaballier) FEDOROV ON RUSSIAN FOREIGN POLICY. RSFSR Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Fedorov outlined Russia's foreign policy aims at a conference on the Soviet Union sponsored by the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London on September 26. Fedorov said Russia has two separate foreign policy programs, one based on Russia as part of a new confederation of sovereign states and the other envisioning Russia as a separate entity with an independent foreign policy. He said Russia does not want to be a superpower but does aspire to serve as a bridge between Europe and Asia. (Suzanne Crow) RUSSIA'S STANCE TOWARD NATO. Commenting on NATO, Fedorov said Russia does not view the organization as a threat. "I do not exclude that one day, and maybe quite soon, we will come to the situation when NATO will not be the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, but something like a European treaty organization, which we can be a part of." Fedorov's comments were reported by RFE/RL's London correspondent. (Suzanne Crow) TASS COMMENTS ON ARMS INITIATIVE. TASS observer Gennadii Petrov hailed the United States' offer of unilateral arms reductions and noted that European leaders were positively influenced by the US initiative. Petrov expressed the hope that "the United States' European allies would also take a closer look at their plans in the realm of arms." (Suzanne Crow) ANOTHER FOREIGN POLICY THINK TANK. Izvestia reported September 27 that former Foreign Ministers Eduard Shevardnadze and Aleksandr Bessmertnykh are setting up a new foreign policy think tank called the Center for Political Analysis. Bessmertnykh is to assume the position of director. He told Izvestia that he wants to see the "structural integration" of the Soviet and Russian Foreign Ministries, Western agencies reported September27. (Suzanne Crow) LOURDES TO REMAIN. The Washington Post reported September 28 that the USSR intends to maintain its electronic monitoring facility in Lourdes, Cuba. According to an unidentified Soviet diplomat cited in the report, "the position of the Soviet Union is clearly to reduce military cooperation between the two countries. That means the withdrawal of the combat brigade. . . .[A]t some point it may also include the withdrawal of the Lourdes facility, [but] it's not on the table yet." (Suzanne Crow) PANKIN ON ISRAEL. Foreign Minister Boris Pankin said at the United Nations September 27 that the USSR could reestablish ties with Israel as early as October. Pankin reported a "fruitful discussion with an Israeli minister" in which "we considered establishing relations in the near future in the interests of peace, justice, and stability in the Near East," TASS reported that day. (Suzanne Crow) KUNADZE ON KURILES. RSFSR Deputy Foreign Minister Georgii Kunadze told TASS September 28 that the RSFSR is willing to study all aspects of the Kurile Islands dispute with Japan. He stressed that the Soviet population on the islands will be consulted and may even participate in the negotiations with Japan. Kunadze stressed that the RSFSR does not link the return of the islands with economic aid from Japan. Kunadze's remarks add some continuity to the discussion of the Kuriles dispute: it appears that the RSFSR has indeed acquired full authority on any settlement, and that the RSFSR is rigidly avoiding the appearance of a trade of islands for aid. (Suzanne Crow) ANOTHER KRYUCHKOV DEPUTY UNDER ARREST. The RSFSR Supreme Soviet approved the arrest of former USSR KGB First Deputy Chief Genii Ageev, TASS reported September 27. According to RSFSR General Prosecutor, Valentin Stepankov, Ageev was responsible for the isolation of Gorbachev. He also prepared concrete measures for capturing the RSFSR Supreme Soviet building and for interning the active opponents of the junta, Stepankov charged. (Victor Yasmann) KRYUCHKOV AND KALUGIN PREPARED INVASION OF AFGHANISTAN. An article in Komsomolskaya pravda of September 21 alleged that the recent attempted coup d'etat was not the first for former KGB Chairman Vladimir Kryuchkov. Along with General Oleg Kalugin (then Chief of External Counterintelligence), Kryuchkov was in Kabul in April 1979 to prepare the overthrow of Khafisullah Amin, who was killed when his palace was stormed by KGB special forces. According to officers who participated in the action, the KGB used the opportunity to train its people in capturing a government building. The newspaper observed that this fact is worth knowing because plans for a storm of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet building in August were based on the experience in Kabul. (Victor Yasmann) KGB AND MVD TROOPS WILL BE BACKBONE OF NATIONAL GUARD. The Russian National Guard will be formed mainly from the elite Dzerzhinsky division, the KGB and the MVD Internal Troops, an aide to RSFSR Vice President Alexander Rutskoi, Gennadii Yakovich, told Komsomol'skaya Pravda of September 18. Yakovich, who is responsible for the project, said that in its first stage the RSFSR National Guard will consist of 8 brigades with 10 thousand men each. Soldiers and officers will be recruited on a contract basis with monthly salaries from 600 to 2,000 rubles. The backbone of the Ukrainian National Guard also will be composed from the MVD Internal Troops plus a KGB division stationed near Kharkov. (Victor Yasmann) KRAVCHENKO: CENTRAL TV HELPED FOREIGN JOURNALISTS. Former Central TV head Leonid Kravchenko claimed in Komsomolskaya pravda of September 20 that "we" managed to get foreign correspondents into the Central TV building on the day of the coup, although it was guarded by paratroopers. "From our studios," Kravchenko said, "they could access a communications satellite through our technical center. We also turned over our direct satellite broadcasting station to CNN." Kravchenko, dismissed last month for collaborating with the putschists, said Gorbachev called him from the Crimea and dictated to him the text of his telephone conversation with President George Bush. Gorbachev also instructed him before going on the air: "Don't forget, it was a coup." This was his last contact with Gorbachev before Kravchenko fell into disfavor. (Victor Yasmann) PATRIARCH ALEKSII II VISITS EGYPT. TASS reported on September 28 that Patriarch Aleksii II of Moscow and All Russia arrived that day in Alexandria. During his visit to Egypt he plans to meet Parfenii III, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, the head of the Coptic Church, Pope ShenudaIII, and President Hosni Mubarak. (Oxana Antic) USSR-OTHER REPUBLICS NO END TO GEORGIAN STANDOFF? Rebel National Guard commander Tengiz Kitovani retracted as based on a mistaken assumption his earlier allegation that 60 of his men were killed when government troops stormed their camp. Talks September 27 between government and opposition resulted in an unofficial cease fire agreement. Two formal rounds of talks on September 28-29 ended in a stalemate. Several people were injured late on September 29 in an explosion outside the TV center, which is held by the opposition. Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia called off further negotiations scheduled for today because rebel forces continue to refuse to surrender their arms, Western news agencies reported. (Liz Fuller) GEORGIA LOSES BID FOR CSCE OBSERVER STATUS. The Moscow human rights conference rejected Georgia's application for CSCE observer status September 27 after NATO, EC and non-aligned countries declined to consider it. The primary obstacle was reported to be Gamsa-khurdia's poor human rights record. The Soviet Union formally supported the Georgian request. Speaking in Moscow September 27, Gorbachev expressed concern that the situation in Georgia "was worsening" and rejected as "unrealistic" Gamsakhurdia's claims that the Kremlin was supporting the anti-government opposition in Georgia, Western news agencies reported September 27. (Roland Eggleston/Liz Fuller) AZERBAIJAN POPULAR FRONT PROTESTS NKAO AGREEMENT. Thousands of people demonstrated in Baku September 27 to protest the NKAO cease-fire agreement signed four days earlier, a Baku journalist told RFE/RL's Azerbaijani service September 28. The Front considers the agreement to contravene Azerbaijan's interests, and wants to convene a Supreme Soviet session to discuss the creation of a republican army. A further rally is planned for today. Also on September 27, a commission of the Armenian Supreme Soviet claimed that Azerbaijan had already violated the cease-fire agreement by carrying out armed attacks in Stepanakert and villages in the NKAO in which six people were killed, TASS reported September 27. (Liz Fuller) SITUATION IN TAJIKISTAN. Peaceful demonstrations continued in front of the Supreme Soviet building in Dushanbe over the weekend, according to Soviet news agency reports. Talks between officials and representatives of the opposition began on September 28; the opposition wants a special session of the republican Supreme Soviet to rescind the state of emergency declared on September 23. Radio Moscow reported on September 28 that hunger strikers on the square had been joined by six well-known Sufi leaders. A group of Russian and USSR Supreme Soviet deputies has arrived in Dushanbe to assess the situation and told the demonstrators on September 29 that Russia and the Center support their demands. (Bess Brown) UZBEK KGB DISSOLVED. TASS reported on September 27 that a National Security Service directly subordinate to the president has been created in Uzbekistan to replace the republican KGB, which was dissolved on the order of Uzbek president Islam Karimov. The new agency is to be responsible only for intelligence-gathering, counterintelligence, and fighting organized crime; other departments of the former KGB are to be closed. The new agency is headed by the former KGB chairman, Gulam Aliev. (Bess Brown) BABI YAR COMMEMORATION. Tens of thousands of people took part in a march in Kiev on September 29, the first day of a weeklong commemoration of the massacres at Babi Yar that began on September 29-30, 1941, with the machine-gunning of nearly 34,000 Jews. The commemoration has attracted many Jewish leaders from Israel, Europe, and North America, according to Western and Soviet media. Shimon Samuels of the Simon Wiesenthal Center told Western agencies of his concerns that Nazi collaborators may be among the 46,000 people who have been rehabilitated since April by the Ukrainian government in accordance with a new law on the rehabilitation of victims of Soviet political repression. (Kathy Mihalisko) UKRAINE OBJECTS TO MOSCOW'S FOREIGN DEBT POLICY. In what may become a difficult obstacle to overcome, Ukraine announced September 29 that it objected to Moscow's taking on increased "Union" debt without the express consent of the individual republics. Moscow Radio reported the same day that Ukrainian Prime Minister Vitol'd Fokin sent a letter to the Committee for Operational Management of the National Economy in which he categorically protested taking on new foreign debt without defining who gets the money and who is going to pay for it. Without fulfillment of these conditions, Fokin said that his republic would not participate in the new Interrepublican Economic Committee and would pursue its own foreign debt policy. (John Tedstrom) COMMITTEE FOR CENTRAL ASIAN ECONOMIC REFORM CONCLUDES WORK. The Committee on Problems of Economic Reform in Central Asia and Kazakhstan finished its recent session in Alma-Ata, Radio Moscow reported September 27. This was the first session of the group that comprises representatives of the supreme soviets of the republics of Central Asia and Kazakhstan. The committee looked at questions of reforming and coordinating economic policies including trade, budgets, and monetary policies. The committee recognized the need to create a unified economic space within the framework of the Union and called for the creation of an inter-parliamentary organ to coordinate the committee's work. The region concerned, if united, would represent a large economic force and would carry considerable weight in any type of broader economic Union. (John Tedstrom) MOLDAVIAN POLICE AT BAY ON DNIESTER'S LEFT BANK. Aggressive picketing of Moldavian police stations in the 6 raion centers on the left bank of the Dniester and physical intimidation of policemen's families are persuading a growing number of policemen to quit or transfer allegiance to the Russian-led "Dniester SSR" which organized the picketing, law-enforcement sources in Kishinev told RFE/RL by telephone September 27. While those defecting are as a rule ethnic Russian enlisted men, the ethnic Russian officers have remained loyal to the law. (Vladimir Socor) SIEGE OF POLICE IN DUBASARI CONTINUES. Moldavian police from the right bank have been dispatched to the town of Dubasari to defend the police besieged since September 24 by armed Russian "workers' detachments," which temporarily captured other government buildings there. Aided by unarmed Moldavian peasants, the police have blocked the approaches to Dubasari to prevent the arrival of additional "workers' detachments." The Russian communist organization Joint Council of Work Collectives (OSTK) and the Council of Factory Directors have announced that they will send busloads of workers "with supplies for 2 to 3 days" to Dubasari on September 30 "to help the defenders of human rights there," TASS reported September 29. (Vladimir Socor) DNIESTER RUSSIANS ESTABLISHING OWN COMMUNIST PARTY. Dnestrovskaya pravda, the main Russian newspaper on the left bank of the Dniester, published September 25 a statement from the organizing committee of a "Communist Party of the Dniester SSR," calling for holding the Party's founding conference in the near future. The Moldavian CP and Dnestrovskaya pravda were banned by the Moldavian government for supporting the attempted coup d'etat in August, but they have continued to operate in the Russian towns of the left bank. (Vladimir Socor) DNIESTER RUSSIANS FORM "REPUBLICAN GUARD." The Russian communist leadership of the self-proclaimed "Dniester SSR" in eastern Moldavia set up a Military Committee September27 and has begun forming a professional "People's Guard" on top of the ordinary militia and the "workers' detachments," sources in Tiraspol told RFE/RL by telephone September 28. Vladimir Ryliakov, deputy chairman of Tiraspol City Soviet and an activist of the Joint Council of Work Collectives (OSTK), was appointed chairman of the Committee, directly subordinated to the "Dniester SSR Supreme Soviet."(Vladimir Socor) MILITARY SUPPORT FOR "REPUBLICAN GUARD." The inaugural meeting of officers and the first recruits of the People's Guard, held September27 at a plant subordinated to all-Union authorities in Tiraspol, was attended by several Army officers, some in uniform. A Colonel of the Tiraspol Civil Defense was appointed commander of the force, which will initially consist of 800 men. Training is to take place on military training grounds. The lowest ranks (ryadovoy) are to receive a tax-free monthly salary of 700 rubles. (Vladimir Socor) BALTIC STATES COCOM RESTRICTION EASED FOR BALTICS? The Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls (COCOM) is examining the question of easing restrictions on strategically sensitive exports to the Baltic States, Western agencies reported September 28. COCOM officials outlined a possible 3-stage easing process. In the first stage, COCOM licensing procedures would remain, but the committee would presume approval, shifting the burden of justification from exporters to objecting governments. In the second stage, most licensing decisions would be devolved from COCOM to the discretion of national authorities, and in the third stage the Baltics would be removed from the list of controlled destinations. (Saulius Girnius) LITHUANIA-LATVIAN DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS. On September 27 Lithuanian Supreme Council Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis stopped in Latvia on his way back from Copenhagen, Radio Lithuania reported September 29. He met with his Latvian counterpart Anatolijs Gorbunovs in Jurmala where they signed a joint communique on the reestablishment of formal diplomatic relations. The communique stressed the necessity of the immediate withdrawal of Soviet armed forces from their republics. They also decided to call a meeting of the Baltic Council the following weekend to continue discussing the matters raised in their talks. (Saulius Girnius) POLES FROM LITHUANIA IN VILNIUS. On September 27 the editor of the monthly journal Ausra, Alicija Sitarskiene, and the deputy director of the Lithuanian Cultural Society, Sigitas Birgelis, spoke at the parliament press briefing, Radio Lithuania reported that day. Their report on the situation of Lithuanians living in Poland indicated that Poles in Lithuania have much better conditions. They noted that the position of minorities in Poland is not mentioned in any Polish laws or the Constitution. Moreover, there are no Lithuanian representatives in the Polish parliament or even in the Suvalkai vaivod where they comprise 10-15% of the population. Lithuanians are not given any benefits to enter higher educational institutes and can not even subscribe to the press from Lithuania. Promises made during the Pope's latest visit to have a Lithuanian mass once a month in the Seiniai cathedral have not been fulfilled. (Saulius Girnius) DALAI LAMA IN LITHUANIA. The Dalai Lama arrived in Vilnius September 29 where he held talks with Landsbergis, Radio Lithuania reported September 30. Today the Tibetan spiritual leader will have lunch with Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius and Foreign Minister Algirdas Saudargas and later meet the leaders of various religious confessions. On October 1 he will address the Lithuanian parliament, hold a press conference with Landsbergis, and make a speech at Vilnius University. On October 2 he will travel to Riga and on October 3 to Tallinn. (Saulius Girnius) SHIPPING LINE BETWEEN TALLINN AND APENRADE. Estonian Trade Minister Tiit Vahi has held discussions with officials in the Danish port of Apenrade about the establishment of a shipping line between Apenrade and Tallinn, Handelsblatt reported on September 26. The line will be able to handle both passenger and freight trade and will serve as an alternative route for land trade that would have to pass through Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Germany. (Saulius Girnius)
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