|The burnt child shuns the fire until the next day. - Mark Twain|
No. 200, 21 October 1991
USSR--ALL-UNION TOPICS AND RSFSR SUPREME SOVIET CONVENES. The reorganized USSR Supreme Soviet opened its first session this morning in Moscow. So far, only 7 of the country's 12 republics have sent voting deputies to the new body. The 7 are the RSFSR, Belorussia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kirgizia, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. Azerbaijan and Moldavia are represented only by observers. Ukraine, which is one of those not sending voting deputies, says it may join the proceedings later this week, TASS and Western agencies reported. (Elizabeth Teague) GORBACHEV ADDRESSES SUPREME SOVIET, WARNS AGAINST REPUBLICAN ARMIES. Addressing the Supreme Soviet this morning, USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev warned individual republics against setting up their own armed forces. Gorbachev, whose speech was reported live by Radio Mayak, called such moves "dangerous, frivolous, irresponsible and illegal." According to Western agencies, Gorbachev told journalists afterwards that he would use his presidential powers to annul republican efforts to set up such units or to appropriate Soviet military equipment. (NCA/Elizabeth Teague) GORBACHEV URGES UKRAINE TO JOIN UNION TREATY PROCESS. Gorbachev told the Supreme Soviet that negotiations have been resumed for "a treaty on a union of sovereign states" and that a draft of such a treaty is under consideration by members of the State Council. It will then , he said, be submitted for "collective revision," after which "it may be forwarded to the parliaments of the sovereign states and the USSR Supreme Soviet" Gorbachev called for efforts to speed up work on the treaty, saying it would be good if it could be published by the middle of November. In particular, he called on Ukraine to join in the treaty preparations. (Elizabeth Teague) ECONOMIC TREATY SIGNED. On October 18, eight of the twelve former Union republics signed the Treaty on Economic Community, intended to create a "common economic space" in which the republics will cooperate on economic policy, trade and other matters. The Soviet media said that Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Moldavia and Georgia had objections to the treaty and did not sign it. The treaty sets up central organs to regulate parts of the economy. Aides to Gorbachev said work on final details of the treaty continued even on October18. The treaty will not actually take effect until it is ratified by the parliaments of the signatory republics. (Vera Tolz) GORBACHEV ON THE TREATY. Mikhail Gorbachev presided over the ceremony of signing in the Kremlin and also put his signature on the document. He told correspondents afterwards that the signing of the treaty was "a tremendous event" that gave him personal satisfaction. The Soviet and Western media quoted Gorbachev on October18 as saying that he talked to officials from Ukraine, Moldavia and Azerbaijan and that he expects these three republics to eventually join the new economic union. (Vera Tolz) YELTSIN ON THE TREATY. Boris Yeltsin was quoted by TASS October 18 as saying that the signing of the economic treaty was a "very great event" that could help to stabilize the economy within a year. He said that the treaty represents agreement on the need for a new structure in which most things would be controlled by inter-republican organs instead of a rigid center. He said this is very important, especially in view of the country's move toward a market economy. Yeltsin also reiterated Gorbachev's hope that Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Moldavia and Georgia will eventually join the new economic union. (Vera Tolz) SHAKHRAI AND KOVALEV ON ELECTION DISPUTE. One of Yeltsin's top advisers, Sergei Shakhrai, was quoted by RFE/RL on October 18 as saying that the RSFSR Supreme Soviet's decision to reject Yeltsin's appeal for a postponement of elections of heads of local administrations in the RSFSR was "suicide" for the parliament. Shakhrai told RFE/RL that the move will also have suicidal consequences for the RSFSR president. Yeltsin suggested the postponement after realizing that many of those who have a chance to be elected are hard-line Communists. The same day, Sergei Kovalev, chairman of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet human rights committee and member of the parliament's presidium, told RFE/RL that although he too was irritated by the move, he thought that a compromise on the issue would be possible and that it would not seriously endanger democracy. (Vera Tolz) SHAKHRAI RESIGNS OVER DISPUTE. In protest against the Russian parliament's rejection of Yeltsin's request to postpone elections of heads of administrations in the RSFSR, Sergei Shakhrai resigned from two parliamentary posts--the chairmanship of the RSFSR parliament's legislation committee and membership in its presidium. Shakhrai told RFE/RL that he would remain a deputy in the RSFSR Supreme Soviet in order still to have a voice in the Russian parliament. (Vera Tolz) YELTSIN VETOES RUSSIAN LAW ON LOCAL ELECTIONS. In the meantime, Boris Yeltsin has undertaken a step to counter the parliament's decision to reject his request that the elections be postponed. Interfax and Radio Moscow reported on October 18 that Yeltsin vetoed a law on the elections. Elections are set for December 8. Interfax quoted Yeltsin as saying the elections would aggravate the current political crisis and lead to a paralysis of power. (Vera Tolz) RSFSR LAW ON REHABILITATIONS PASSED. The RSFSR Supreme Soviet has passed a law rehabilitating victims of political repressions conducted during the whole period of Soviet history. The law stipulates financial compensation for many categories of those repressed. TASS reported on October 18 that the parliament had also adopted a decree making October 30 the official day of commemoration of victims of political repression. During the Brezhnev period, dissidents confined to labor camps observed October 30 as the Day of the Political Prisoner. The parliament also adopted a separate decree rehabilitating Gleb Yakunin, a religious activist who spent a term in labor camps under Brezhnev. Yakunin is now an RSFSR people's deputy. (Vera Tolz) MEMBER OF INTERNATIONAL DEPARTMENT COMMITS SUICIDE. A former sector chief of the International Department of the CPSU CC, Dmitrii Lisovolik, committed suicide, AFP reported October18. According to the agency, the man jumped from a window in his twelfth-floor apartment in Moscow. TASS said the same day that the reason for the suicide of the 54 year-old Lisovolik is not known. It is most probable that as member of the International Department, Lisovolik was involved in the financial dealings of the CPSU with Communist parties abroad. These operations are currently being investigated by USSR and RSFSR juridical bodies. (Vera Tolz) FORMER IDEOLOGY CHIEF IN VOLGOGRAD KILLS HIMSELF. Another former Communist Party official, Sergei Klimov of Volgograd, has committed suicide, TASS reported October 19. Klimov was ideology chief of the Volgograd Oblast Party Committee. According to the agency, he hanged himself. Klimov is the fifth Communist official known to have taken his life after the attempted coup. (Vera Tolz) SOBCHAK PROPOSES CREATION OF LIBERAL UNION. Leningrad mayor Anatolii Sobchak called for the creation of an inter-party union of liberal orientation, Radio Rossii reported October 19. Sobchak said that if such a union is not created, neo-totalitarian groups will have an upper hand in the RSFSR political arena. He called on Russian and Western media to propagate the idea of such a union. (Vera Tolz) SOBCHAK ON ECONOMIC UNION. Radio Rossii on October 19 also quoted Sobchak as criticizing Ukraine's and Georgia's governments for failing to sign the Treaty on Economic Community of sovereign republics on October 18. He suggested that these republics will be unable to exist economically without the economic union. (Vera Tolz) UNDERGROUND KOMSOMOL ORGANIZATION IN STAVROPOL. An underground Komsomol organization has been set up in Stavropol, "Radio Rossii" reported October 18. The new group distributes leaflets, with slogans such as "Yes to the CPSU," "Freedom for Anatolii Lukyanov" and "Hands off the CPSU," around the city during the night; the location of its headquarters is unknown. Although the All-Union Komsomol organization ceased to exist after the attempted coup, it is still not clear why the pro-Communist Stavropol youth should behave in such a conspiratorial manner. (Vera Tolz) MORE DATA ON KGB. Argumenty i fakty No. 41 reports that there are 486,000 uniformed KGB officers, including 217,000 Border Troops; the budget of the agency is 6.4 billion rubles plus 50million invalyutnye rubles. The weekly stressed that these figures are unofficial. Indeed, the numbers cited by Argumenty i Fakty do not include KGB items hidden in the budgets of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Academy of Sciences, the Ministries of Communications and Culture and in financial institutions created by the recently disbanded Komsomol. The number of personnel certainly does not include foreign intelligence personnel and millions of secret informers at home. (Victor Yasmann) STATEMENT BY DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF RUSSIA ON TATARSTAN. A statement issued October 17 by the Executive Committee of the Democratic Party of Russia condemned "irresponsible political forces" in Tatarstan who were insisting that the Supreme Soviet adopt a declaration of independence, TASS reported October17. The statement maintained that opinion polls had shown that the population was very sceptical on the subject. It called for a referendum on the question of independence. Since only just under half the population of Tatarstan is Tatar, the vote could well ago against. (Ann Sheehy) DEMONSTRATIONS CONTINUE IN TATARSTAN. Unsanctioned demonstrations continued in Kazan over the weekend, according to TASS on October 19 and TV reports on October 20. Tatar president Mintimer Shaimiev told a session of the republican Supreme Soviet on October 19 that the former ASSRs, including Tatarstan, still have not improved their state status, but he added that this did not justify illegal demonstrations. Shaimiev's decree forbidding armed groups was published in the local press on October 19, but an official of the republican KGB complained to TASS that the decree was being ignored, and the Tatar Social Center was setting up a national guard, and demanded that the authorities approve it. (Bess Brown) JAPAN SEEKS REPAYMENT GUARANTEES. An unidentified Japanese Foreign Ministry official quoted by a Western agency said on October 17 that Japan will ask the Soviet Union for repayment guarantees before implementing the $2.5 billion aid package it announced last week. "It's natural that we would need some assurance from either the central government or the republics," the officialsaid, adding that talks would begin soon. (Suzanne Crow) TIES WITH ISRAEL. After a 24-year lapse, the USSR and Israel reestablished diplomatic relations on October 19. Foreign Minister Boris Pankin described the move as a step toward reversing a policy which "did not bring any tangible fruit" -- the Soviet Union's efforts "to side with the Palestinians and Arab states." "This is a logical and rational step which is fully consistent with the new realities," Pankin was quoted by Western and Soviet media as saying. He also stressed that the establishment of diplomatic ties was connected with the finalization of plans for the upcoming Middle East peace conference. (Suzanne Crow) ON TO SYRIA, JORDAN. Boris Pankin continued his Middle East tour, arriving in Damascus on the evening of October 18. Upon arrival, Pankin said, "I am very happy to visit our friend Syria, and to hold talks with our leader friend, President Hafez al-Asad." The visit, which lasted until October 20, was dedicated to discussion of the peace conference and bilateral ties, TASS reported October 19. At the conclusion of talks, Pankin said "we had constructive, long and detailed talks with my counterpart Faruq al-Shar, whom I can now call my friend," TASS reported October 20. Pankin left for Amman for a two-day working visit on October 20. (Suzanne Crow) USSR--OTHER REPUBLICS UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL RACE. The outlook for candidates in Ukraine's presidential election set for December 1 remains unchanged, Radio Kiev reported October 19. The favorite remains Chairman of the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet Leonid Kravchuk. A recent poll in Sumy revealed that 36%of those surveyed favor Kravchuk. Vyacheslav Chornovil was favored by 11%, Levko Lukyanenko by 5%, and Ihor Yukhnovs'kyi by 4.5%. (Roman Solchanyk) RUSSIAN REACTIONS TO UKRAINE'S REFUSAL TO SIGN ACCORD. As expressed in a Radio Kiev report on October 18, responses in Moscow to Ukraine's failure to sign the economic accord were "cautious and diplomatic," although many who took part in the ceremony were nonetheless "shocked" by Ukraine's position. RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin, reacting mildly, said that Ukraine had the option of taking part in the life of the new economic community as an associate member or as an observer. In any case, continued Yeltsin, Russian-Ukrainian relations would continue to develop on the basis of bilateral economic agreements. (Kathy Mihalisko) UKRAINE MAY SIGN LATER. Several Ukrainian officials have stressed that their republic supports the economic treaty in principle. However, as reported by TASS on October 19, Ukraine's leaders want first to reach separate accords with each republic. Energy and Power Development Minister Vitalii Sklyarov was quoted in Izvestia on the same date that Ukraine's signing of the treaty is "only a matter of time," given the republic's need for uninterrupted supplies of fuel. Also in Izvestia, Deputy Supreme Soviet Chairman Volodymyr Hryn'ov said the treaty is "badly needed." Kathy Mihalisko) GENSCHER DISPLEASED BY UKRAINE'S POSITION. In Kiev on October 18 for talks with Ukrainian authorities, German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher did not conceal his disapproval of Ukraine's decision to refrain from signing the economic accord. As summarized that day by Radio Kiev, Genscher emphasized that the sovereign republics are in the process of forming economic, military and political unions that will enable the former USSR to integrate with the European community. Radio Kiev said Genscher seemed somewhat surprised that Ukraine feared losing its sovereignty if it were to take part in unifying processes; Germany had no such fears vis-a-vis European unity. (Kathy Mihalisko) GERMANY DENIES REPORT IT PLANS TO RECOGNIZE UKRAINE. The German Foreign Ministry on October 19 denied a report in Der Speigel that Genscher had assured Ukrainian Supreme Soviet Chairman Leonid Kravchuk of Germany's willingness to recognize Ukrainian independence if Ukraine went through the legal steps of secession. The Foreign Ministry statement said that the issue of recognition had not been raised by either side during Genscher's talks with the republic's leaders. (Kathy Mihalisko) AZERBAIJAN VOTES AGAINST SIGNING ECONOMIC ACCORD, RESTORES INDEPENDENCE. The Azerbaijani Supreme Soviet voted overwhelmingly October 18 not to sign the inter-republican economic agreement on the grounds that it did not accommodate the republic's interests, Interfax reported that day. The parliament adopted a draft law "On the restoration of state independence of the Azerbaijani Republic" which puts into immediate effect the August 30 declaration of independence. Azerbaijani President Mutalibov ordered all all-Union government offices in the republic closed down October 19, Interfax reported that day. USSR Radio reported October 19 that the Azerbaijani parliament had ruled that the republic's delegation would attend the USSR Supreme Soviet session that opens October 21 only as observers. (Liz Fuller) ARMENIAN, AZERBAIJANI DELEGATIONS HOLD FIRST TALKS ON NKAO. Working groups set up to implement the Yeltsin agreement on a settlement to the NKAO conflict met in Kazakh on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border October 19 and agreed to hold a second round of talks in Armenia October 25, TASS and Interfax reported October20. (Liz Fuller) MOLDAVIA SENDS NON-VOTING OBSERVER TEAM TO USSR SUPSOV. The Moldavian Parliament voted 197 to 8 on October 18 to appoint a nine-member observer team, headed by a deputy from the left bank of the Dniester, to the USSR Supreme Soviet's session which opens in Moscow October 21. Moldovapres reported October 18 that the Moldavian team is not empowered to vote or participate in any way in the session's work except on the issue of Moldavia's independence, and it is to maintain direct contacts with all-Union bodies "for the period of the negotiated settlement of issues arising from Moldavia's state independence." The Parliament also resolved that any attendance of the Supsov by unauthorized Moldavian deputies will be deemed unrepresentative and legally invalid. (Vladimir Socor) MOLDAVIAN PRESIDENT, PARLIAMENT WITHHOLD SIGNATURE ON ECONOMIC COMMUNITY TREATY. The Moldavian Parliament's Presidium decided October 17 against authorizing the executive to sign the economic community treaty, Moldovapres reported October18. The Presidium reaffirmed Moldavia's position in favor of direct economic relations with present and former Soviet republics. Addressing the parliament that day, President Mircea Snegur said that Moldavia will determine its position after examining the supplementary conventions and annexes to the treaty which are still to be negotiated. Snegur--who signed the Alma-Ata document--has since voiced concern over the RSFSR's apparent ambitions to substitute itself for the old center and over Gorbachev's stated view of the economic treaty as a basis for reviving the political Union. (Vladimir Socor) MOLDAVIAN CABINET LEADERS PREPARED TO SIGN. On the other hand, Prime Minister Valeriu Muravschi and the First Vice Premier and Minister of Economics, Constantin Tampiza, were cited by TASS October 18 as favoring a prompt signature in order to ensure Russian fuel deliveries to Moldavia. Muravschi declared himself prepared to take responsibility for signing even if he were forced to resign afterward. (Vladimir Socor) BALTIC STATES HOME GUARD LEADERS TAKE OATH. On October 17 Anatolijs Gorbunovs, Commander of the Home Guard of the Republic of Latvia, Acting Deputy Commander Girts Kristovskis, and 60 local leaders of the Home Guard took an oath of office. Gorbunovs, who is Chairman of the Latvian Supreme Council and assumes the new position ex officio, said "The duties of the Home Guard are to guard the territory of Latvia, if necessary with arms. We must not guard the interests of a single individual, party or group only. Latvia expects us to preserve the security of its people." Kristovskis told the press that the functioning of the Home Guard is hampered by the fact that Latvia has neither a Ministry of Defense nor a defense policy. What is more, the Home Guard lacks weapons and a bank account. (Dzintra Bungs) VAGNORIUS: SOVIET TROOPS MAY LEAVE LITHUANIA IN 1992. Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius told the press in Tokyo that he expects the complete withdrawal of USSR troops from Lithuania by the end of next year, Western agencies reported on October 18. According to Vagnorius, there are about 100,000 Soviet troops in Lithuania. Vagnorius arrived in the Japanese capital after attending a meeting of the group of seven leading industrial democracies. (Dzintra Bungs) LITHUANIA REPEATS REQUEST OVER IGNALINA. Radio Vilnius reported on October19 that Lithuanian Vice Premier Zigmas Vaisvila had sent another telegram earlier that day asking the Soviet Ministry of Internal Affairs to hand over to Lithuania the arms and transportation equipment that was used by MVD troops guarding the Ignalina nuclear power plant. This would facilitate Lithuania's assumption of responsibility for guarding the plant. Vaisvila also asked for confirmation of the earlier coordinated withdrawal schedule of the Soviet forces and urged starting the pullout immediately. Dzintra Bungs) LATVIA RATIONS GASOLINE. According to Baltic news agency dispatches of October 18 and 19, Latvia has started to ration gasoline because smaller shipments have arrived from Russia and Belorussia than anticipated. While certain types of gasoline can still be sold at the old prices of 50 and 60 kopecks per liter, in November the prices are expected to rise bringing them closer to world market prices. Latvia is considering purchasing gasoline from Finland; its retail price could be 14 rubles per liter. (Dzintra Bungs) LAND LAW IN ESTONIA. The Estonian Supreme Council passed a land law on October 18 that returns nationalized land to its former owners, Rahva Haal reported the next day. The law requires that current land owners or occupiers be compensated for land which is returned to those who lost it under Communist rule. The law does not specify who will provide compensation, and exempts some plots smaller than 2 hectares. The law has been the focus of intense debate for several months between those who want to return land to former owners and those who favor those currently farming the land. (Riina Kionka)
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