|When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain|
No. 195, 14 October 1991
USSR--ALL-UNION TOPICS AND RSFSR MEETING OF STATE COUNCIL. A meeting of the State Council took place on October 11, the Soviet media reported the same day. The meeting was attended by representatives of ten of the remaining 12 republics (the absentees were Moldavia and Georgia). The official communique listed six decisions that were reached. The ten republics agreed to sign the treaty on an economic community by October 15. They approved the draft food agreement for 1992. It was decided that the republics should send in their comments on the latest draft of a Union treaty within ten days, after which final work on the text would be carried out. It was agreed to abolish the KGB and replace it with a central intelligence service, an interrepublican counterintelligence service, and a state committee for protecting the state frontier. An agreement is to be drawn up on the all-Union State Television Company reflecting the new relations between all-Union television and republican television bodies. Finally, the members of the State Council expressed their support for the US and USSR initiatives in the sphere of nuclear disarmament. (Ann Sheehy) AGREEMENT ON TREATY ON AN ECONOMIC COMMUNITY. Chairman of the Interrepublican Economic Committee Ivan Silaev described the decision of the ten republics to sign the economic treaty the "chief result" of the State Council session, TASS reported October 11. Speaking at the session, RSFSR president Boris Yeltsin said that the RSFSR was prepared to sign the treaty by October 15 provided that all 17 agreements envisaged by the treaty were ready. He also stated that the financing of those economic organs not envisaged by the treaty must be stopped (Yeltsin was apparently referring to the Committee for the Operational Management of the Economy, which he has said is unconstitutional). Yeltsin also said that the question of the subordination of republican banks to the central bank must be reviewed. (Ann Sheehy) UKRAINIAN PREMIER ON ECONOMIC TREATY. Ukrainian premier Fokin was quoted on TSN on October 11 as saying that he was absolutely convinced that the treaty must be signed. (Ann Sheehy) UNION TREATY: APPEAL TO UKRAINE, ARMENIA, GEORGIA, MOLDAVIA. During the discussion on the Union treaty at the State Council on October 11 the question arose of Ukraine's decision to take no part in the political life of the country until after the independence referendum on December 1, TASS reported October 11. On Gorbachev's initiative it was decided to appeal to the Ukrainian parliament to take part in the preparation of the treaty. Similar appeals are to be addressed to the parliaments of Armenia, Georgia, and Moldavia. (Ann Sheehy) RSFSR SUPREME SOVIET ON ECONOMIC TREATY. Contrary to expectations, on October 11 the RSFSR Supreme Soviet approved without undue fuss a resolution "On the Draft Treaty on an Economic Community, TASS reported October 11. TASS said October 13 that the resolution set up a working group to prepare the treaty for ratification. It also listed a number of points that the president should take into account in revising the treaty. The resolution noted that decisions of Union and interrepublican bodies to which the RSFSR had not delegated powers would only have the force of recommendations in the RSFSR until approved by republican organs, and also called for an end to the financing by the RSFSR of Union and interrepublican organs in which the RSFSR was not participating. (Ann Sheehy) GORBACHEV ON ECONOMIC UNION, POLITICAL UNION. In an interview on Central Television on October 12, Gorbachev expressed his satisfaction that the republics had agreed to sign the treaty on an economic community by October 15, TASS reported October 13. At the same time he said that an economic union could not function without a political union. He maintained that the latest draft of the Union treaty was innovatory and progressive. Gorbachev criticized the view expressed by some members of the RSFSR leadership that Russia is the legal successor of the Soviet Union. (Ann Sheehy) USSR STATE COUNCIL CONFIRMS DEMONOPOLIZATION OF KGB. The USSR State Council has decided that the USSR KGB will be abolished and replaced by a central intelligence service, an inter-republican counter-intelligence service and a joint command committee for guarding the state borders, according to TASS on October 11. In the last month, the Ukrainian and Uzbekistan KGBs, the second and fifth largest territorial organizations, had their names changed to National Security Service and were declared to be subordinate to the respective republican governments. (Victor Yasmann) END OF THE PROPISKA SYSTEM? All laws and directives regulating the Soviet system of resident permits, and also the laws prescribing jail terms for violators of the residence regulations, are to be abolished by January 1, 1992, according to a statement by Sergei Alekseev, chairman of the USSR Committee for Constitutional Oversight, on Central TV October 11. Alekseev said that the Committee had declared the practice of selling residence permits unconstitutional. He also noted that the Committee has criticized recent departures from the basic principles of the Soviet Constitution and has condemned the dismissive attitude towards the "Brezhnevist-Stalinist Constitution" that prevails today among politicians and the public. (Julia Wishnevsky) CONTROVERSY OVER NOVEMBER 7 CELE-BRATIONS. 47 % of those polled by the All-Union Center for the Study of Public Opinion suggested that the October revolution anniversary on November 7 should be celebrated, RIA reported on October 13. The Central TV news program, "TV Inform," quoted the agency as saying that only 35 % opposed the celebration and 18% failed to give an answer. In its October 11 installment, "TV Inform" reported that the Moscow city government had proposed to the RSFSR parliament that the two holidays formerly granted in connection with the October Revolution celebrations be transferred to the end of December. (Vera Tolz) CENTRAL TV PROFILES SHEVARDNADZE. On October 13, Central television profiled Eduard Shevardnadze on its "Who Is Who" show. According to the moderator, the former boss of Soviet TV, Leonid Kravchenko, had scotched an earlier plan to feature the former foreign minister on the program. During the show, Muscovites were asked what they thought of Shevardnadze, and all respondents said that they approved of his foreign policy, particularly the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Eastern Europe. Viewers' letters, describing Shevardnadze as the "most intelligent" and "most elegant" of Soviet politicians, were also read. (Julia Wishnevsky) SHEVARDNADZE ON BALTIC. In the course of the interview, Shevardnadze indicated that he does not believe the official version of events in the Baltic states which blames local military commanders for the bloodshed there. He said that if the officials responsible for the tragic events in the Baltic states and Tbilisi had not gone unpunished, there would have been no coup in August. (Julia Wishnevsky) GORBACHEV INTENDED TO REFORM KGB, ARMY AND MVD. Prior to the August coup, Gorbachev disclosed to close associates that he wanted to begin reforms in the KGB, the Army, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and "the rest of the state structure," and these plans became known to the heads of these organizations, Gorbachev said in an interview aired on Central TV on October 12. Gorbachev said that he had connected such reforms with the Union Treaty, the signing of which was prevented by the coup. Gorbachev's statement may explain the motives of coup leaders Vladimir Kryuchkov, Dmitrii Yazov and Boris Pugo, who would have lost much of their power to republican leaders had the Treaty been signed. (Julia Wishnevsky) G-7 AGREEMENT ON AID TO USSR. After two days of talks with the Soviet delegation in Bangkok, the Group of Seven issued a communique October 13 pledging closer cooperation with the USSR or what will be left of it, Western agencies reported that day. The accord was widely interpreted as an implicit promise of further aid, together with Soviet acceptance of more Western supervision over internal Soviet affairs. The talks were delayed by the late arrival of some of the Soviet participants, including Grigorii Yavlinsky, who reportedly delayed his departure from Moscow in order to push through the agreement on the economic community. (Keith Bush) GOLD RESERVES AND RESCHEDULING. On arrival in Bangkok on October 12, Grigorii Yavlinsky confirmed to Western reporters that total Soviet gold reserves were now down to 240 tons. He thereby contradicted USSR Gosbank and other senior Soviet officials and also rendered academic recent speculation about possible further gold swap arrangements. USSR Gosbank Chairman Viktor Gerashchenko told Western newsmen October 13 that the Soviet Union is not seeking relief on its foreign debt service. Other (unnamed) Soviet officials have reportedly told G-7 and IMF sources that the Soviet Union is indeed seeking relief on $5-10 billion due for repayment in the next few months. (Keith Bush) MORE DELEGATIONS TO MOSCOW. A team of economic specialists from the European Community and the G-7 nations is scheduled to arrive in Moscow today, Western agencies report. They are expected to focus on prospects for Western food aid and provisions for credits and managerial expertise. A separate team of G-7 deputy finance ministers is to be sent to Moscow soon to discuss specific ways of helping the Soviet Union meet its external payments obligations. This second mission was authorized by the G-7 meeting in Bangkok over the weekend. (Keith Bush) DRAFT AGREEMENT ON FOOD SUPPLIES. Ivan Silaev presented a revised draft agreement on food supplies to the State Council on October 11, TASS reported that day. Silaev subsequently told reporters that he was "positive" that the accord would be signed by the heads of republics October 14 or 15. The draft sets out measures to coordinate purchase prices for farm produce. It also outlines plans to buy 48.7 million tons of grain worth 11.1 billion rubles from abroad. The time frame for these grain imports was not specified, but is likely to cover the coming year. If the plans are realized, it will be the largest volume ever shipped in a year, and the amount and the cost raise questions on credits, availability, and shipping, unloading, handling, and distribution capacity. (Keith Bush) MORE SOVIET CRITICISM OF COCOM. Senior Soviet and Russian officials have criticized continuing Western restrictions on technology transfer. Russian Posts and Telecommunications Minister Vladimir Bulgak told Western agencies October 11 that the COCOM Committee [the Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls] must understand that it is impossible to hold back progress with such restrictions. USSR Deputy Telecommunications Minister Vyacheslav Gurkin was quoted in The Journal of Commerce on October 12 as saying that the Bush Administration had not yet made a good move on COCOM. (Keith Bush) RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH REFUSES CATHOLIC INVITATION. TASS reported on October 11 that the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church has refused to accept a Vatican invitation to participate in a special assembly of European Roman Catholic bishops scheduled for November and December 1991. The reply of the Russian Orthodox Church says that participation would convey an incorrect picture of relations between the two churches, and criticizes the Vatican's attitude on the problems of Orthodoxy in Western Ukraine. The response stressed, however, that the Russian Orthodox Church does not want to close the door to brotherly dialogue. (Oxana A ntic) REVISION OF TREATY WITH FINLAND. The USSR and Finland opened talks in Helsinki on October 14 to revise the treaty signed in 1948. As originally penned, the pact obliges Finland to protect the northwestern flank of the Soviet Union from attack by Germany or any German ally. Finland's foreign ministry has described such clauses as obsolete. Finnish Foreign Minister Paavo Vayrynen said the updated treaty will likely omit mention of military cooperation, Western agencies reported October 14. (Suzanne Crow) DELEGATION TO KABUL. Soviet Ambassador to Afghanistan, Boris Pastukhov, said a Soviet delegation will arrive in Kabul October 14 to discuss economic cooperation. Speaking to reporters in Kabul (October 14), Pastukhov said the talks would be geared toward arrangements of "mutual benefit" in 1992. He denied reports that Foreign Minister Boris Pankin suggested to Mujahedeen leaders the formation of a transitional government without a role for Afghan President Najibullah, Western agencies reported October 14. (Suzanne Crow) USSR--OTHER REPUBLICS GEORGIAN UPDATE. TASS reported October 13 that the Georgian Supreme Soviet has amended the republic's constitution to limit the powers of the president, who must now seek the agreement of parliament for his nominees to senior government posts. The Supreme Soviet, according to an interview given by its chairman to "TV-Inform" October 13, has also set up a commission including several opposition representatives to seek ways to defuse the situation. Five Georgian moderate groups have aligned to form a new opposition bloc, the Democratic Movement of Georgia, which held its founding congress in Tbilisi October 13. The same day, former Soviet foreign minister Eduard Shevardnadze again offered to mediate between government and opposition in Georgia, TASS reported October 13. (Liz Fuller) SOVIET MILITARY CONVOY ATTACKED IN ARMENIA. TASS on October 12 quoted a USSR MVD press release stating that one of its convoys was intercepted during the morning of October 11 near the Armenian town of Aparan by a crowd of 3,000 local residents and 200 armed guerrillas, who then seized eighteen vehicles, including tanks and armored personnel carriers. No one was injured during the attack which is being investigated by the military procuracy. (Liz Fuller) CHERNOBYL FIRE. In the wake of the October 11 fire in the second block of the Chernobyl power station, TASS and Ukrinform reported on October 13 that the other two blocks were functioning and a government commission had been established to oversee the cleanup. A Belorussian delegation arrived on October 13 to view the damage. (Bess Brown) GORBACHEV CANNOT IMAGINE NEW "UNION" WITHOUT UKRAINE. Soviet president Gorbachev has again indicated his anxiety about the implications of Ukraine's approaching referendum on independence. "I cannot think of a Union without Ukraine, I cannot imagine it," he commented during a televized interview broadcast on October 12. Implicitly criticizing Ukraine's declaration of independence and the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet's call for a referendum to endorse it, he expressed his confidence that the inhabitants of Ukraine would come out in favor of remaining in a new Union. "Ukraine is an irreplaceable factor in the construction of a new Union," Gorbachev stressed. Meanwhile, Ukraine's leaders and parliament are continuing to assert their republic's independence and to reject the idea of their republic's participation in any new political Union with other republics of the former USSR. Last Friday, for instance, the Ukrainian parliament began debating draft laws on the creation of a republican army. (Bohdan Nahaylo) HENRY KISSINGER TO ADVISE UKRAINE ON ITS FOREIGN POLICY. Radio Kiev announced on October 11 that former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has agreed to act as a "consultant" for the Ukrainian government on matters concerning the republic's new independent foreign policy. Kissinger recently met in the United States with Ukraine's Foreign Minister Anatolii Zlenko and intends to travel to Kiev in the near future. (Bohdan Nahaylo) WORDING OF UKRAINIAN REFERENDUM QUESTION DECIDED. Last Friday, the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet decided on the wording of the question to be asked on December 1 in the republic's referendum on independence. According to Radio Kiev October 11, it will ask simply: "Do you endorse the proclamation of the independence of Ukraine?" Respondents will can answer either "Yes. I endorse it," or "No. I don't endorse it." (Bohdan Nahaylo) BBC TO BROADCAST IN UKRAINIAN. The BBC World Service announced last Friday that it is planning to begin broadcasting in Ukrainian "early next year." As AP pointed out on October 11, these will be the first broadcasts by the BBC to the Soviet Union in a non-Russian language. (Bohdan Nahaylo) AKAEV CONFIRMED AS PRESIDENT. Preliminary returns show that Kyrgyzstan's president Askar Akaev received about 95% of the votes in the first direct presidential election, held on October 12, TASS reported October 13. Akaev, who has made a reputation in the Soviet Union as a whole as a convinced democrat and radical economic reformer, was reportedly distressed that no one was willing to run against him. At a post-election press conference, Akaev described the vote, in which 90% of the electorate participated, as an endorsement of his program of reform and democratization. He added that Supreme Soviet elections should be deferred until the new political parties gain strength. (Bess Brown) CENTRAL ASIANS AGREE ON WATER RESOURCES. TASS and UzTAG reported on October 11 that the water resources ministers of the five Central Asian republics had signed an agreement on the use of the region's water resources that should put an end to disputes over water use. A single water-use plan for the entire region is to be devised. (Bess Brown) CONSERVATIVES STRIKE BACK IN TAJIKISTAN. TASS reported on October 11 that 19 deputies of the Tajik Supreme Soviet and the USSR Supreme Soviet representing Tajikistan have issued a public protest against "unconstitutionality" in the republic. They object particularly to the banning of the republican Communist Party and to the inclusion of representatives of the Islamic Renaissance Party in election commissions, and claim that the political crisis in Tajikistan is not the fault of "conservative Communist structures" but of disregard for the law and the lack of a strong executive power. (Bess Brown) KAZAKH TV FEATURES RL. Republican TV in Kazakhstan has started featuring reviews of the RL Kazakh Service's programs, the Service learned on October 10. This gesture of recognition follows the introduction of summaries of Kazakh Service programs in republican daily newspapers and the Alma-Ata evening newspaper. (Hasan Oraltay) MOLDAVIA FOR ECONOMIC COMMUNITY WITHOUT POLITICAL TIES. Moldavian President Mircea Snegur told Moldovapres October 11 that he had endorsed the Alma-Ata document only on the basis of the 12 + 0 formula and the understanding that it did not entail political ties. Snegur noted, however, that in the meantime the USSR Presidency and some RSFSR leaders were seeking to use the document in order to "revive the obsolete central structures" and were linking the economic treaty to a political union. Terming that unacceptable to Moldavia, Snegur called for "an end to such political games undermining the economy of all republics." (Vladimir Socor) MOLDAVIAN COMMUNIST PARTY TRIES COMEBACK. In an open letter to the Moldavian Parliament's Presidium, published in Vechernii Kishinev October 11, the leader of the banned Moldavian Communist Party, Grigore Eremei, denied that the Party as such had supported the abortive Soviet coup d'etat. He complained that the Presidium's decisions on August 23 to ban the Party and nationalize its property had been "overhasty". Eremei requested permission for the holding of a Central Committee plenum "to determine the Party's fate" and pleaded for "reconsideration" of the decision to nationalize the Party's property. (Vladimir Socor) MOLDAVIAN WU CHAIRMAN ON DISSEMINATION OF RUSSIAN CULTURE. Interviewed in the Bucharest weekly Adevarul Literar of October 11, Moldavian Writers' Union Chairman Mihai Cimpoi spoke of Moldavia's special contribution to the "Moldavian-Romanian cultural confederation" of which Cimpoi is one of the leading proponents. Part of that special contribution, Cimpoi said, will be to disseminate in the common Romanian-language cultural space the works of Russian classical and modern literature, including "the humanist message of their works, as the great Russian intellectuals were consciences of the world". (Vladimir Socor) BALTIC STATES BALTS AT IMF MEETING. Radio Riga and TASS reported on October 13 that Baltic representatives had gone to Bangkok to participate in the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund. Latvian Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis said before his departure that this trip and trips later this month to Germany, Great Britain, and the United States are intended to obtain support for Latvia's plans to free prices and introduce its own currency. Referring to Latvia's recent application for membership in the IMF, Godmanis noted that correspondence of economic laws in Latvia to the norms that guide the IMF is one of the conditions for membership. Baltic officials are also expected to meet with representatives of the G-7 states in Moscow this week. (Dzintra Bungs) BALTIC STATES AIM FOR EFTA MEMBERSHIP. Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius, before leaving for the IMF conference, said that Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia have already decided to form a free-trade area without customs duties. He added: "We have the will to create a single market...We shall develop a process of integration" with the aim of establishing closer cooperation with the European Free Trade Association. A Charter for Development Strategy has already been signed, according to Western agency reports of October 12. The Baltic States do not intend to join the new USSR economic union. (Dzintra Bungs) MAJOR: EC SHOULD ACCEPT THE BALTIC STATES. British Prime Minister John Major favors EC membership for the Baltic States. He told the participants at the Conservative Party's conference in Blackpool on October 11 that, "We have the chance to heal the scar that divided and disfigured Europe for two generations. The nations of Eastern Europe--Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, the Baltic States--need to know now that when their economies are ready for the Community, the Community will be ready for them." An RFE/RL correspondent in Blackpool noted on October 11 that Major's statement is the most clear-cut to date of Great Britain's views on EC membership for the Baltic States. (Dzintra Bungs) MANILOV: SOVIET TROOP WITHDRAWAL CANNOT START BEFORE END OF 1994. Lieutenant General Valerii Manilov told Radio Mayak on October 11 that despite the recent demands of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania for a speedy withdrawal of USSR armed forces from their territories, the withdrawal process cannot be initiated before the end of 1994. He said that this time frame is necessitated by the need to construct housing for the restationed troops. (Dzintra Bungs)
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