|Some things have to be believed to be seen. - Ralph Hodgson|
No. 188, 02 October 1991
USSR-ALL-UNION TOPICS AND RSFSR USSR TO STAND-DOWN NUCLEAR MISSILES. In one of the first specific responses to US President George Bush's September 27 unilateral nuclear arms initiatives, Soviet presidential spokesman Andrei Grachev declared October 1 that the USSR would remove from alert status the intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) due for ultimate elimination under the terms of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). His remarks were reported by TASS the same day. Bush had announced such a step, and had urged the Soviet Union to follow suit. While the US move involves 450 single-warhead Minuteman II ICBMs, the Soviet response should include, among others, the 154 giant SS-18 missiles, each with ten warheads, scheduled for ultimate elimination under START. (Doug Clarke) FURTHER SOVIET MILITARY CUTS DISCUSSED. According to an Interfax report October 1, Colonel General Pavel Grachev, the newly appointed First Deputy Minister of Defense, yesterday told Russian legislators that the Soviet military would be pared down from just under 4 million personnel to between 2 million and 2.5 million by 1994. The same day, Soviet Defense Minister Marshal Evgenii Shaposhnikov, in an interview on Soviet television, repeated an earlier announcement setting the new strength at 3 million. Grachev confirmed that, beginning this autumn, conscripts would serve 18months instead of the present 24 month tour. By 1995 this term of service would be dropped to 12 months. (Doug Clarke) TWELVE REPUBLICS SIGN COMMUNIQUE ON ECONOMIC TREATY. Leaders of the USSR's 12 remaining republics signed a communique in Alma-Ata on October 1 proclaiming their intention to form an "economic community," TASS, Interfax, and Western agencies reported October 1. Eight of the 12 republics (the three Slav republics, the four Central Asian republics, and Kazakhstan) said they intended to ratify the treaty by October 15. Russia, Belorussia, and Kazakhstan said they were ready to ratify the treaty immediately. The reports said that the three Transcaucasian republics and Moldavia would join the new economic community later after supplementary agreements or consultations with their Supreme Soviets. Latvia, the only Baltic State that attended the meeting, reserved the right to join the "community" as an associate member. (Ann Sheehy) SOME DETAILS OF THE AGREEMENT. The draft treaty had proposed an "economic union," but Moldavian President Mircea Snegur suggested "economic community" instead, a suggestion that RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin supported, according to Moldovapres of October 1. Reports say the agreement calls for "accelerated transition to market relations," for coordination of policies on money and credit, and it said that if republics want to issue their own currencies that action should not further damage the ruble. The leaders also agreed to improve economic ties, to recognize existing borders for the next 50 years, and to control nuclear weapons jointly from a single center in the interests of collective security. After republican governments approve the text it will be submitted for approval to the State Council. (Ann Sheehy) GORBACHEV LOWERS AID REQUEST. The European Community's Economy Commissioner, Henning Christophersen, said that Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev had lowered Moscow's aid request from $14.7 billion to $10.2 billion, Western agencies reported October 1. Christophersen is in the Soviet Union to discuss that country's economic problems and the possibilities of Western aid. He told reporters that the EC is ready to grant the Soviet Union humanitarian aid, but does not want to provide cash merely to pay off Moscow's outstanding commercial arrears and short- and medium-term credits that are overdue or coming up for settlement. (The figure of $14.7 billion bore a curious resemblance to that sum.) (Keith Bush) EC AND G-7 DELEGATION TO MOSCOW. Speaking to reporters at the Soviet mission in New York on October 1, Soviet Foreign Minister Boris Pankin said that a delegation from the European Community and the G-7 industrialized nations will survey the USSR's economic needs at a Moscow meeting on October 14, Western agencies reported that day. The joint team would consult with Ivan Silaev, the chairman of the Inter-Republican Committee. Prospects for Western food aid, the extension of credits, and technical assistance are among the topics likely to be discussed. (Keith Bush) SOVIET-CZECHOSLOVAK FRIENDSHIP TREATY TO BE SIGNED. Pankin is scheduled to sign a treaty of friendship with Czechoslovakia upon his arrival in Prague today (October 2), Western agencies report. It is expected that the treaty will renounce the Warsaw Pact invasion of 1968. Pankin, who served as Soviet ambassador to Prague before his appointment as Foreign Minister in August, is slated for talks with Czechoslovak President Vaclav Havel, Prime Minister Marian Calfa, Foreign Minister Jiri Dienstbier, and Parliament Chairman Alexander Dubcek during his three-day official visit. Reports say Pankin will discuss a possible visit to Czechoslovakia by Gorbachev. (Sallie Wise Chaballier) NEW AMBASSADOR TO CZECHOSLOVAKIA. Gorbachev has appointed Aleksandr Lebedev to the post of ambassador to Czechoslovakia, TASS reported October 1. Lebedev, a 53-year-old career diplomat, was a counsellor at the Prague embassy. (Suzanne Crow) BANKER WARNS OF HYPERINFLATION. USSR Gosbank Deputy Chairman Arnold Voilukov told Trud October 1 that the country is in danger of lapsing into hyper-inflation which will "blow up the economy." He repeated previous admonitions about the doubling of the money supply over the past year and the plans to issue 200- and 500-ruble notes this year. Voilukov rejected the frequently-heard comparisons of the plight of the Soviet economy today with that of Germany immediately after World War II. He said that the Soviet economy is in worse shape than in post-war Germany, which had financial reserves 16 times greater than its GNP, whereas the Soviet reserves are roughly equivalent to its GNP. (Keith Bush) NEWS FROM THE RSFSR. RSFSR Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi wants to see eye surgeon Stanislav Fedorov named as the new RSFSR prime minister, TSN reported on October 1. According to Rabochaya tribuna the same day, other candidates for the post are Oleg Lobov, Mikhail Malei, and Grigorii Yavlinsky. *** Mikhail Bocharov has retired from the post of chairman of the RSFSR Supreme Economic Council because the Yeltsin administration ignored all his proposals, according to Vesti that day. The Council in the future will be headed by a commission of the RSFSR SupSov Presidium. *** TASS on October 1 reported that part of Yeltsin's presidential apparatus is moving, together with the RSFSR government, into the former CPSU CC building. (Alexander Rahr) YELTSIN'S PROBLEMS WITH THE REGIONS. Fifty-seven local deputies from Gorbachev's home region of Stavropol have appealed to Yeltsin to send a presidential envoy to the region in order to discipline hardline local leaders who openly sabotage the policy of the RSFSR government, Vesti reported on October 1. In Yeltsin's home region of Sverdlovsk, local authorities have also voiced opposition to the RSFSR government, although for other reasons. They protest that Yeltsin has not yet fulfilled his promises in transforming Russia into a democratically governed republic, according to Radio Moscow the same day. (Alexander Rahr) WHAT REMAINS OF THE CPSU? While the top leadership of the CPSU and Russian CP have obeyed Gorbachev's and Yeltsin's order to disband themselves, at a lower level attempts to create new Communist groups are visible. Komsomol'skaya pravda of September 21 mentioned the plan of Leningrad lecturer Nina Andreeva to reestablish the All-Russian Communist Party of Bolsheviks and the idea of the so-called "Initiative Congress of the RCP" to hold a meeting in Sverdlovsk this November to recreate the Russian Communist Party. The newspaper also said that a group of members of the "Marxist Platform" in the CPSU wants to set up its own communist organization. In the meantime the Party of Democratic Communists headed by Russian Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi has abandoned its communist course. (Vera Tolz) COMMUNISTS ATTEMPT TO UNITE. At the same time, various groups of Communists and Marxists are attempting to unite. TSN reported October 1 that they have set up a Committee for the Unity of Communists. The Committee will coordinate Communists' activities during the upcoming elections of heads of local administrations in the RSFSR. The TV news program also reported that one of the Communist groups, the United Front of Workers of Russia, warned Yeltsin that mass protests are to be expected in connection with the abolition of the celebrations of the anniversary of the October Revolution on November 7. (In fact, any mass protests seem highly improbable.) (Vera Tolz) GORBACHEV'S BOOK ON COUP TO BE PUBLISHED SOON. Gorbachev has submitted to the RSFSR publishing house "Novosti" a manuscript of his book, titled The August Coup: Its Reasons and Consequences, Vesti reported on October 1. Simultaneously, Vesti added, translations of Gorbachev's book are expected to be published by a number of foreign publishing companies. (Julia Wishnevsky) WHAT IS CHIKIN UP TO NOW? On September 25, Sovetskaya Rossiya published a strange article by G. Burdov, a blue-collar Russian worker from Uzbekistan. Burdov suggests that the CPSU should regain its former power by engaging in commercial activities and thus to continue ruling the Soviet Union in fact if not on paper--exactly as "the captains" of Western monopolies allegedly rule their respective countries. Burdov--along with the editors of the hardline newspaper, once owned by the CPSU Central Committee--seems to completely disregard the fact that the last USSR Congress of People's Deputies decided to suspend the activities of the CPSU and to confiscate its property. The editor of Sovetskaya Rossiya, Valentin Chikin, is a member of the RCP Politburo which in past years systematically conspired with conservative Party leaders against Gorbachev and his reforms. (Julia Wishnevsky) USSR-OTHER REPUBLICS SITUATION IN TAJIKISTAN. Western agencies reported on October 2 that the Supreme Soviet of Tajikistan has adjourned again without restoring a ban on the republican Communist Party, as demanded by opposition demonstrators. A TadzhikTA-TASS report of October 1 said that demonstrations, some in support of the Communist Party and some in support of the opposition, are taking place in cities and towns throughout the republic. Several enterprises in the northern town of Khudzhand (formerly Leninabad) staged a strike on October 1 in protest against the ongoing demonstration in Dushanbe. Since many of the workers in these plants are non-Tajiks, the strike raises the possibility of an inter-ethnic dispute in connection with the confrontation between conservatives and anti-Communists. (Bess Brown) KAZAKH DEMONSTRATORS CALL FOR BORDER REVISION. Vesti on October 1 reported that pickets outside the meeting of republican leaders in Alma-Ata demanded the revision of Kazakhstan's borders--to the benefit of Kazakhstan. Members of opposition political groups and other Kazakh intellectuals have often reacted to demands for border changes from non-Kazakh inhabitants of the northern oblasts by calling for parts of neighboring oblasts of the RSFSR to be transferred to Kazakhstan on the grounds that these regions were traditionally Kazakh lands. (Bess Brown) DNIESTER CONFRONTATION DEFUSED. Moldavian government officials and representatives of Russian-controlled raions on the left bank of the Dniester signed on October 1 two protocols designed to defuse the confrontation there. Reached after previous negotiations in Dubasari and Kishinev had failed, the agreement was brokered in a new round of talks by an RSFSR SupSov delegation headed by the progressive Nikolai Medvedev, chairman of the SupSov's commission on interethnic relations. The provisions were summarized by central Soviet and Russian Television and TASS on October 1. Moldavian reports have not been received yet. (Vladimir Socor) MEASURES AGREED. The provisions include: voluntary surrender of firearms by "civilian formations" (i.e. Russian detachments) in Dubasari simultaneously with the withdrawal of Moldavian Internal Affairs subunits "additionally deployed" there recently; release of the 3 left-bank Russian leaders and 1 Gagauz leader remaining in Moldavian investigative custody on charges of supporting the August coup d'etat (the 3 other individuals had already been released); lifting of the blockade of Moldavian railroads (by left-bank Russians); strict observance of the law and renunciation of the use of force, economic strikes, and blockades (an indirect reference to methods repeatedly used by the left-bank Russian leaders); and creation of a conciliation commission comprised of officials of the Moldavian government and of left-bank raions to discuss further "normalization" steps. (Vladimir Socor) CARPATHIAN MILITARY REGIMENT WANTS TO SERVE UKRAINE. The officers and privates of Unit 63-349 in the Carpathian Military District have sent a letter to Ukrainian Supreme Soviet Chairman Leonid Kravchuk, stating that they are ready to swear an oath of loyalty to the Ukrainian people and government, TSN reported on October 1. They were apparently responding to a recent appeal to Ukrainian-based troops by the Union of Officers of Ukraine. According to TSN, the letter calls on the Supreme Soviet to enact timely legislation on the transfer of military units to Ukrainian jurisdiction. (Kathy Mihalisko) BALTIC STATES EC DECIDES TO EXTEND AID PROGRAM TO BALTICS. The EC foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels on October 1 gave formal approval for opening negotiations toward economic cooperation agreements with the Baltic States, Western agencies reported that day. The ministers agreed to sponsor inclusion of the Baltic States next year among the East European countries eligible for aid from the G-24 group of Western donor countries. They decided that part of the $490 million in EC aid to the USSR should go to the Baltics. All three Baltic States consider securing associate membership in the EC among their top priorities. (Saulius Girnius) LATVIA APPLIES FOR IMF MEMBERSHIP. The Latvian government has made a formal application to join the International Monetary Fund (IMF), TASS reported October 1. The move was expected, since its Baltic neighbors Estonia and Lithuania had submitted similar applications on September10 and 12, respectively, and all three countries had held discussions in Tallinn on September 23-24 with leaders of the IMF and other international financial organizations. (Saulius Girnius) VATICAN TO RESUME FULL DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS. Papal Pronuncio to the Netherlands Archbishop Audrys Backis on September 30 signed a joint statement with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Algirdas Saudargas agreeing to "reactivate" full diplomatic relations between Lithuania and the Vatican, Western agencies reported October 1. Backis will travel to Latvia and Estonia to sign similar agreements reestablishing diplomatic relations. (Saulius Girnius) TARIFF CODE OF LATVIA. The recently adopted Tariff Code of Latvia went into effect on October 1, TASS reported. Director of the Latvian Customs Department Aivar Salins noted that the code is 90% analogous to the Soviet tariff code. He expected that in several months the Baltic Customs Union will come into effect and customs posts between Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia would be abolished. (Saulius Girnius) NEW DIRECTOR GENERAL OF LITHUANIAN STATE SECURITY DEPARTMENT. Deputy Prime Minister Zigmas Vaisvila has been appointed Director General of the Lithuanian State Security Department, Radio Lithuania reported October 1. In an effort to provide the department, which is affiliated with the Lithuanian government and not the parliament, suitable facilities for its work, the government decided to transfer without compensation to its control the facilities in Vilnius that had belonged to the Soviet army commissariat. (Saulius Girnius) RFE/RL BROADCAST ON FM IN ESTONIA. On October 1, Estonian Radio, having signed an agreement with RFE/RL Inc., began to receive programs of the RFE/RL Estonian Service via satellite and broadcast them on FM transmitters throughout the republic. The Estonian Service will continue to broadcast on shortwave. Similar re-transmissions of RFE/RL Lithuanian Service programs in Lithuania are scheduled to begin on October 10. Talks about a similar re-transmitting agreement with Latvia are underway. (Saulius Girnius) LATVIA AND ESTONIA ADMITTED TO WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION. On October 1 the World Wrestling Federation (FILA) meeting in Varna, Bulgaria voted to re-admit Latvia and Estonia as members, Western agencies reported that day. A four-member team from Latvia will participate in the Wrestling World Championships in the Free Style Open that will begin on October 3 in Varna. The Estonian re-admission is on condition that its National Olympic Committee file a membership application. (Saulius Girnius)
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