|The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper. - Eden Phillpotts|
No. 189, 04 October 1991
USSR--ALL-UNION TOPICS AND RSFSR PROGRESS ON ECONOMIC UNION TREATY. TASS and the Russian Information Agency reported October 2 that three republics--Byelarus, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan--had signed the new economic union treaty. Russia was expected to follow suit shortly. Ivan Silaev, the head of the Committee for the Operational Management of the Economy, was quoted as urging the other republics to sign the pact quickly, as it was "the only guarantee against the chaotic disintegration of the country." Silaev also told TASS that the pact contains "all the major positions" of the 500-day program co-authored by Yavlinsky and Shatalin. Moldavian President Mircea Snegur called on his republic's Supreme Soviet to approve membership in the economic union, but many deputies voiced their opposition. (Keith Bush) RSFSR COUNCIL OF NATIONALITIES DISCUSSES ENTRY ON NATIONALITY. On October 2 the RSFSR Council of Nationalities discussed the drafts of RSFSR Supreme Soviet decrees "On the rules for changing the entry on the nationality affiliation of citizens in passports and other official documents" and "On the right of citizens to free determination of their nationality," TASS reported October 2. The drafts evidently ran into opposition from those who fear free choice could threaten their national group. TASS said that the drafts were returned to the commissions for reworking "because of the con-flicting nature of the opinions on them." (Ann Sheehy) MEETING OF POLITICAL CONSULTATIVE COUNCIL. Gorbachev's new Political Consultative Council met under his chairmanship on October 2, TASS reported that day. The council discussed matters connected with the content and prospects for concluding a new Union treaty. The latest draft, on which Gorbachev and Yeltsin worked, has been sent to members of the State Council for review. The council also discussed the food situation and recommended the removal of all barriers to radical reforms in the agrarian sector so as to increase agricultural production. After discussing political and interethnic conflicts in various parts of the country, it was decided that two members of the council, Anatolii Sobchak and Evgenii Velikhov, should go to Tajikistan to acquire objective information and help normalize the situation. (Ann Sheehy) SESSION OF USSR SUPREME SOVIET POSTPONED. Gorbachev signed a decree October 3 postponing the first session of the revamped USSR Supreme Soviet from October 8 to October 21, TASS reported on October 3. The decree was adopted on the recommendation of the Interrepublican Preparatory Committee for the Session which said that some republics for various reasons had not decided on who would represent them or in what form they would participate in the work of the session. The three Slav and six "Muslim" republics as well as Armenia took part in the meeting on the Interrepublican Preparatory Committee, while an observer was present from Georgia. (Ann Sheehy) OBSTRUCTION OF WORK OF RSFSR CON-STITUTIONAL COMMISSION. Oleg Rumyantsev, secretary of the RSFSR Constitutional Commission, told journalists October 3 that three groups of RSFSR deputies--"Communists of Russia," the national autonomies, and deputies who resented the fact that they had had no part in drawing up the new RSFSR constitution--were blocking the work of the commission, TASS reported October 3. Rumyantsev said that if they continued to try to prevent the draft being presented to parliament, president Yeltsin would exercise his right to submit it to a referendum, bypassing the Russian parliament. (Ann Sheehy) KHASBULATOV PRESS CONFERENCE. At a press conference on October 3, Ruslan Khasbulatov, acting chairman of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet, maintained that Yeltsin's was being unfairly attacked for the imperfect nature of some of the decrees he had adopted, TASS reported October 3. Khasbulatov said the blame lay with State Secretary Gennadii Burbulis and RSFSR State Adviser for Legal Questions Sergei Shakhrai, and argued that they should take responsibility and even resign. Khasbulatov reiterated that all the autonomous republics "will exist only as part of Russia." Khasbulatov expressed concern at the "Balkanization" of Russia, and particularly of the North Caucasus. (Ann Sheehy) STANKEVICH ATTACKS YELTSIN. RSFSR State Counselor Sergei Stankevich was quoted in The Philadelphia Inquirer on October 2 as saying that he is so frustrated with Boris Yeltsin's failure to organize a cohesive Russian government that he might consider quitting and taking the job of Soviet ambassador to the US. "We have a Russian government that is underdeveloped and a union government which still exists and doesn't command any republic except Russia," he said. Stankevich severely criticized Yeltsin for naming a former Sverdlovsk Party apparatchik--Yurii Patrov--as head of the presidential administration and visiting Nagorno-Karabakh instead of troubled areas inside Russia. (Alexander Rahr) YAKOVLEV REEMERGES AS IDEOLOGUE OF POST-COMMUNISM. Aleksandr Yakovlev, often accused of having "wrecked" the Communist ideology as a member of the Politburo, has emerged as the ideologist of the post-Communist "democratic" establishment and a harsh critic of Marxism. This may be seen from Central Television newscasts of October 2 and 3 and his article in the September 27 issue of Trud. During the TV interviews, Yakovlev said that emergence of a new, "democratic" nomenklatura cannot be ruled out, and that democrats need an opposition. Yakovlev's book, containing chapters written during the coup, was issued by the "Novosti" publishing house on October2. (Julia Wishnevsky) GORBACHEV NUCLEAR CODES REPORTEDLY DISAPPEARED DURING COUP. Russian philosopher and publicist Andrei Nuikin was quoted in Vechernyaya Moskva on September 19 as saying that on August 19, the first day of the putsch, the leaders of the KGB and Army were not as concerned about tanks on Moscow's streets as they were about the disappearance of an officer who had Gorbachev's briefcase containing the launch codes for nuclear weapons. Nuikin said that two other briefcases with nuclear arms codes remained with Defense Minister Dmitrii Yazov and Chief of the General Staff Mikhail Moiseev. Nuikin added that during the coup there was a confrontation between the KGB and Armybrass over the control of nuclear weapons. (Alexander Rahr) USSR ACADEMY OF SCIENCES FOLDS. The presidium of the USSR Academy of Sciences voted last week to transfer the main all-Union scientific body to RSFSR government jurisdiction. According to sources within the academy, the majority of all-Union academicians want to use the occasion to replace the academy's president, Gurii Marchuk. The USSR Academy will now be called the Russian (Rossiiskaya) Academy. In 1989, a group of scientists began advocating the creation of a Russian academy separate from the all-Union one, and an organizational committee of the proposed academy was set up. Now the organizational committee will be absorbed by the former all-union body. New elections to the Russian Academy of Sciences are planned. (Vera Tolz) GRAIN HARVEST PROGRESS. According to the USSR Goskomstat, 90% of the area sown to grain had been harvested by September 30, 151.7 million tons had been threshed, and 35.4 million tons of grain had been procured by the state, TASS reported on October 3. Although it was not stipulated, it appears that the harvest tonnage given was a net figure, i.e., after excessive moisture and admixtures had been removed. The final outturn may thus be even lower than the 170 million tons recently forecast, even if the data are probably understated. Farms do not wish to sell grain for wooden rubles and will keep as much as possible for their own consumption and for barter. (Keith Bush) DEFENSE BUDGET 300 BILLION RUBLES? Pyotr Korotkevich, until recently the deputy chairman of the scientific and technological coordination council for the Ministry of the Defense Industry and the USSR Academy of Sciences, told Literaturnaya gazeta that the Soviet defense budget was not 96 billion rubles as publicly acknowledged, but 300 billion rubles. An account of Korotkevich's remarks was carried in the Western press October 2. It is not clear how Korotkevich arrived at his figures. He is either including off-budget spending or is recalculating the defense budget in unofficial prices. The Institute for Economic Forecasting in Moscow, among others, has taken the latter approach and has arrived at similar numbers. (John Tedstrom) FILSHIN PROMOTED TO RSFSR FOREIGN ECONOMIC MINISTER. Gennadii Filshin has been promoted to Minister for Foreign Economic Relations of the RSFSR, Interfax reported October 3. Filshin is already well-known in the West, and has a reputation as a fairly progressive, market-oriented economist. Filshin was implicated to some degree in the great "ruble scam" and was removed from the post of RSFSR First Deputy Prime Mininster. After that, he served as deputy minister in the Ministry for Foreign Economic Relations. Filshin replaces Viktor Yaroshenko. (John Tedstrom) YAVLINSKY'S GOLD FIGURES FURTHER DISPUTED. On October 3, Izvestia challenged the gold output figures asserted by Grigorii Yavlinsky in a September 27 broadcast on Central TV. The newspaper cited "well-informed sources" in the two Soviet gold-extracting organizations who "categorically" put the annual production at over 300 tons. Izvestia concluded: "Putting all the figures together, we come to the conclusion that over the last three years, the government...with the approval of Gorbachev, has wasted for some unknown purposes gold worth $25-30 billion. The Soviet foreign debt, at the same time, grew by no less than $35 billion. In any normal country, a parliament or a government commission would be demanding that the president and his prime ministers account for such fantastic embezzlement." (Keith Bush) IMF ASSOCIATE MEMBERSHIP. The Soviet Union is due to assume special associate status today with the International Monetary fund and the World Bank. In this capacity, it will attend the annual meeting of the IMF in Bangkok, where it is expected to come under pressure to reduce defense expenditure and deal with its spiralling inflation. Meanwhile, the Institute of International Finance has recommended that the Soviet Union be made a full member of the IMF and World Bank in 1992. (Robert Lyle/Keith Bush) IIF CALLS FOR SOVIET DISCIPLINE. At a press conference in Washington on October 3, the managing director of the Institute of International Finance remarked that so far the Vneshekonombank has met all its payments obligations. He advised that Soviet government and banking officials should reassure global creditors on three points: that all current outstanding debt is binding; that the authorities give proof that they intend to pay the debts on time; and that officials accept the fundamental principles of international law on debts when countries are dissolved or created. (Robert Lyle/Keith Bush) SUGAR RIOTS IN PERM'. The "Vesti" news program of Russian TV reported on October 2 that sugar riots had started in Perm'. Residents of the city were said to have hijacked public transport vehicles and to have declared that they would retain them until sugar appeared in the stores. (Keith Bush) TUVA CHANGES TITLE, WILL ELECT PRESIDENT. The "Republic of Tuva" will in future be the name of the former Tuvin ASSR, the republican Supreme Soviet decided October 3, Moscow Radio reported the same day. The republic will also shortly elect its own president. (Ann Sheehy) STALEMATE IN KARELIA. An extraordinary session of the Karelian parliament, called to discuss the wait-and-see attitude of the local leadership during the recent abortive coup, has adjourned without discussing the matter, "Vesti" and TASS reported October 2 and 3 respectively. A vote of confidence in the presidium of the Supreme Soviet had been demanded by the city soviets of Petrozavodsk and Kostomushka, but deputies refused to include the item in the agenda. In reply 18 deputies blocked the work of the session by refusing to vote on all other matters. (Ann Sheehy) SESSION OF NORTH OSSETIAN PARLIAMENT. The RSFSR law "On the rehabilitation of the repressed peoples" was the main topic on the agenda of the North Ossetian Supreme Soviet on October 2, TASS and Moscow radio reported the same day. The North Ossetian parliament made plain that it did not accept the law's implication that the Prigorodnyi Raion of North Ossetia should be returned to Checheno-Ingushetia, reiterating that the republic's territory could only be changed with the agreement of its people. Ingush deputies walked out of the session. A delegation from South Ossetia asked the North Ossetian parliament to raise the question of South Ossetia's transfer from Georgia to the RSFSR with the RSFSR parliament. (Ann Sheehy) NORTH OSSETIAN MOVEMENT APPEALS TO YELTSIN FOR UNIFICATION OF TWO OSSETIAS. The North Ossetian social and political movement "Adamon tsadis" has sent an appeal to Yeltsin requesting the restoration of the territorial and political integrity of Ossetia, divided in the 1920s into North and South Ossetia "against the will of the people," TASS and Moscow radio reported October3. The appeal states that the movement supports the RSFSR law "On the rehabilitation of the repressed peoples," but the application of the law to the Ingush is linked with the solution of a whole series of other problems. The chief of these is the division of Ossetia into two. The appeal states that whenever Georgia has problems, South Ossetia turns into a whipping boy. It recognizes that the present leadership of Georgia will oppose the loss of South Ossetia, but suggests that its transfer to the RSFSR would remove a seat of tension. (Ann Sheehy) CALL FOR UNITY AMONG SOVIET GERMANS ON EVE OF CONGRESS. Academician Boris Raushenbach, chairman of the organizing committee for the preparation of the Congress of Soviet Germans, now scheduled for October 18-20, made a major but unsuccessful attempt October 2 to unite the different trends in the movement of the Soviet Germans for the restoration of their autonomous territory on the Volga, TASS reported October 2. TASS said that never before were the Soviet Germans so close to adopting a common position, but the representatives of the radical wing headed by Heinrich Groth walked out after trying to set a number of preliminary conditions. (Ann Sheehy) INHABITANTS OF SARATOV DEMONSTRATE AGAINST GERMAN AUTONOMY. On October 2 inhabitants of Saratov Oblast, where a future Volga republic would be located, demonstrated outside the gorispolkom against any such republic being reconstituted, Radio Rossii reported October 2. The oblast soviet, which was meeting inside the building, included the question of German autonomy in its agenda, and sent its decision to the USSR Supreme Soviet. Opposition in Saratov and Volgograd Oblasts has been the main stumbling block to the restoration of Soviet Germany autonomy. (Ann Sheehy) USSR--OTHER REPUBLICS FREIGHT TRAIN EXPLODES NEAR TBILISI. One person was killed and 26 injured on October 2 when a freight train exploded at Didube, 8 km from the center of Tbilisi, according to TASS the same day. TASS says the train may have been carrying explosive powder, and quotes witnesses as claiming that the explosion was triggered when an overhead power line broke. A Georgian Interior Ministry spokesman says the train may have carried artillery shells. The Georgian Presidential press service suggested that the explosion could have been a deliberate attempt to destabilize the situation; rebel National Guard leader Tengiz Kitovani denied any involvement in the incident. (Liz Fuller) REBEL NATIONAL GUARD LEADER REDEPLOYS FORCES. Western news agencies reported on October 2 that rebel National Guard leader Kitovani had signed an agreement to withdraw his troops from Tbilisi over a period of two days beginning October 3. TASS on October 3, however, quoted Kitovani as stating that he would merely redeploy his men elsewhere in Tbilisi and reserved the right to return if Georgian President Gamsakhurdia again began reprisals against the opposition, who reiterated their demands at a press conference October 2. (Liz Fuller) AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT MAKES CONCESSIONS TO OPPOSITION. Azerbaijani President Ayaz Mutalibov agreed October 2 to demands put forward at rallies in Baku to begin talks with opposition leaders on the dissolution of parliament, holding new elections and the restructuring of state bodies, an Azerbaijani journalist told RL's Azerbaijani Service on October3. (Liz Fuller) SITUATION IN TAJIKISTAN. In its evening session on October 2, the Supreme Soviet of Tajikistan voted to ban the activities of the republican Communist Party until the State Prosecutor's Office completes an investigation of the Party's role during the August coup, TASS reported the same day. The decision apparently had no effect on the demonstrators before the Supreme Soviet building, who continue to demand that the legislature dissolve itself, according a Central TV news program of October 3. The Supreme Soviet put off for its next session a decision on legalization of the Islamic Renaissance Party, using the excuse that the law on freedom of conscience prohibits religious-based political parties. (Bess Brown) UZBEKISTAN PROHIBITS EXPORT OF COTTON TO RUSSIA. An Interfax report, quoted on "Vesti" on October 3, states that the Uzbek cotton-production authority has prohibited the shipping of cotton to the RSFSR. (Bess Brown) RASHIDOV'S POPULARITY IN UZBEKISTAN. The September 25 issue of Izvestia reports that popular esteem for the former Communist Party chief of Uzbekistan, Sharaf Rashidov, is on the rise in the republic. Evidence of massive corruption and falsification of cotton production figures in Uzbekistan emerged after Rashidov's death in 1983, and he was posthumously accused in the Soviet press of everything from misrule to employing a ghostwriter to produce his literary works. As resentment against the Moscow-directed anti-corruption campaign grew in Uzbekistan, so did Rashidov's repute; many Central Asian intellectuals praise him for having protected the interests of Uzbekistan. A Rashidov Fund has been started in his hometown, Dzhizak, and streets, schools and enterprises are being given his name. (Bess Brown) MOROZOV: UKRAINE SHOULD HAVE BLACK SEA FLEET. Ukraine's recently appointed Minister of Defense, Konstantin Morozov (an ethnic Russian), told the newspaper Narodnaya armiya that Ukraine needs its own army and should take command of the Black Sea Fleet. Quoting from Morozov's interview, TASS said on October 3 that a defense council and general staff are being formed which will oversee the transformation of Ukraine-based Soviet military units into a Ukrainian military force. Morozov also revealed that Ukrainian military academies would probably be set up in the near future. (Kathy Mihalisko) MITTERRAND LISTENS 'CAREFULLY' TO KRAVCHUK. Returning to Kiev from his visit to North America, Ukrainian Supreme Soviet chairman Leonid Kravchuk stopped over in Paris on October3 for a meeting with Francois Mitterrand. Kravchuk, speaking afterwards to reporters, said the French President had listened "very carefully" to his analysis of the situation in the USSR and Ukraine. Kravchuk told Mitterrand that Ukraine would not take part in any political union with Moscow and would restrict ties with other republics to the economic and collective security fields. Kravchuk said he opposes the transfer of nuclear arms from one country to another except for the purposes of destroying them. (Kathy Mihalisko) BELORUSSIAN SUPREME SOVIET FAILS TO LIFT BAN ON PARTY. Meeting in a special session on October 2, the Communist-dominated Belorussian Supreme Soviet defeated a proposal to lift the temporary ban on Communist Party activity. According to a report on October 3 by RFE-RL Minsk correspondent Syarhei Navumchyk, the reprieve was sought in order to allow the Communist Party of Belorussia to hold a congress at the end of the year to decide the Party's fate. Opposition deputies failed, however, to muster approval of another proposal for the Supreme Soviet to dissolve the Party and take control of its property. (Kathy Mihalisko) RELIGIOUS UNREST IN THE UKRAINE. Robitnicha gazeta reported in its September 21 edition that the Orthodox church in the town of Sambori in Galicia was attacked at night by "young men in uniforms," who beat up people guarding the building, which had been the target of two previous assaults, according to the priest. A witness said that the attackers wore OMON uniforms. The church, which the newspaper calls "the main stronghold of Orthodoxy in the Carpathians," is used by both the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. (Oxana Antic) MOLDAVIAN OFFICIALS IN GERMANY. Interviewed in Die Welt of October 1, Moldavian Deputy Foreign Minister Nicolae Osmochescu and the chairman of the Moldavian parliament's Foreign Relations Committee, Vasile Nedelciuc, said that reunification with Romania "is not on the table even for the long term." They named "lack of democracy, lack of resolve to privatize the economy...and survival of Communist methods and structures" in Romania as "the chief obstacles to reunification in the future." Moldavia "wishes to become an internationally recognized member of the European home in its own right," they said. The Moldavian officials were received by German Foreign Ministry officials and senior parliamentarians. (Vladimir Socor) MOLDAVIA GETS PARTING SHOT FROM ODESSA OBLAST. The confrontation arising from the Russian "workers detachments'" siege of the Moldavian police station in Dubasari was defused, it seems, not a day too soon. Officials of the Odessa Oblast Soviet told a Ukrinform correspondent on October 1, just before the lifting of the siege, that "civilians" in several raion centers adjacent to Moldavia's Dniester area were "alarmed" and were moving to join "those close to them" in Russian towns in the Dniester area. "Extremist-minded Moldavians" and the Moldavian authorities, however, were preparing to block the road. The Odessa Oblast officials' remarks sound like a veiled threat to send "volunteers" to the aid of Russian detachments in the Dniester area. Both the Odessa Oblast Soviet and the "Dniester SSR" leaders supported the August coup attempt. (Vladimir Socor) BALTIC STATES US REPRESENTATIVES TO BALTIC STATES. The United States has named Charge d' affaires to head diplomatic missions to the Baltic states. The State Department announced that Robert Frasure has been appointed to Tallinn; Ints Silins to Riga; and Darryl Johnson to Vilnius. Silins, a Latvian-American, previously served in the US General Consulate in Leningrad. President Bush will appoint ambassadors in the future, according to an RFE/RL correspondent's report. (Jan Trapans) US EMBASSIES START OPERATING IN BALTIC. On October 2, the State Department announced that the US has officially begun operating in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, an RFE/RL correspondent reported that day. Department spokeswoman Margaret Tutweiler says the embassies are operating from temporary office space at hotels in the Baltic capitals. According to the State Department, the US missions are offering limited consular services to American citizens. Routine visa services will be provided when permanent offices are operating. (Jan Trapans) CHINA PROTESTS DALAI LAMA'S LITHUANIAN VISIT. China's Foreign Ministry has protested the Dalai Lama's visit in Lithuania, the Latvian newspaper Diena's news service of October 2. The Dalai Lama visited Vilnius on September 30 and October 1, met leading members of the government, and held a joint press conference with Supreme Council Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis. According Diena, China's foreign ministry "categorically" protested against the visit. The protest was issued three days before the visit began. (Jan Trapans) DALAI LAMA IN BALTIC. The Dalai Lama traveled to Estonia on October 3, having visited Latvia and Lithuania. In Latvia, he suggested establishing a support group which could raise the issue of Tibet's independence in the UN. According to the newspaper Diena's news service of October 2, the Supreme Council's foreign relations commission considered the suggestion a "complicated matter"--and Latvia does not want to harm its relations with China. China has not protested the Dalai Lama's visit to Latvia, according to the Council's foreign relations commission; possibly because he was invited by the University and met with government representatives informally. (Jan Trapans) BALTIC STATES DO NOT GET EMBASSY BUILDINGS. The Baltic states are not getting back their former embassies in Paris, now occupied by Soviet diplomatic offices, according to AFP. The Baltic states claim their embassies have been illegally occupied by the Soviets since 1940 and want them expelled. The court of appeals in Paris ruled that no action could be taken since the Soviet mission enjoys diplomatic immunity. The building of the former Latvian legation houses the Soviet consulate and the Lithuanian one holds the information department of the Soviet embassy. The Estonian embassy has been torn down and an annex of the Soviet embassy is now on the site. (Jan Trapans) LATVIAN POPULAR FRONT DIVIDED OVER CITIZENSHIP. Latvia's Popular Front is dividing over the questions: who will be granted citizenship and which body is empowered to decide the question. On September 30, a caucus of Popular Front deputies in the Supreme Council voted that the Council itself could decide the question. This move contradicted an earlier decision made by Popular Front's Third Congress in October 1990, that only a fully-fledged, newly-elected parliament of an independent Latvia could decide the issue. On October 1, the Council of the Popular Front forwarded a third proposal: the matter will be decided in a referendum conducted according to provisions of Latvia's Constitution of 1920, according to the Baltic News Service, October 2. The Popular Front will start a petition drive for the referendum, representatives of the Front told the RFE/RL Research Institute . (Jan Trapans) LATVIA: MINISTRY OF DEFENSE ESTABLISHED. Latvia's Supreme Council issued a law which provides for a Ministry of Defense. The Council of Ministers is to establish a Ministry of Defense by November 1. According to information issued by the Baltic News Service on October 2, the new ministry will be in charge of a military border-guard force. The Council of Ministers also must establish the organizational structure and staffing of the border-guard force by November 1. (Jan Trapans)
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