|History is made out of the failures and heroism of each insignificant moment. - Franz Kafka|
No. 201, 22 October 1991
USSR--ALL-UNION TOPICS AND RSFSR SUPREME SOVIET SESSION CONTINUES. The two chambers of the USSR's new, post coup parliament, the USSR Supreme Soviet, met in separate sittings last night to consider long agendas for the present session. The RSFSR delegation decided that it would not nominate a representative of the Russian Republic for the post of head of the Council of the Republics--one of the new parliament's two chambers, Interfax reported October 21. Russia's representatives are sensitive to charges that the RSFSR is "usurping" too much power. (Elizabeth Teague) COMMUNIST PARLIAMENTARIANS STILL ACTIVE. Soviet historian and USSR people's deputy Roy Medvedev was quoted by Radio Russia on October 21 as saying that the Communist group within the USSR Supreme Soviet is continuing to work despite the ban on the CPSU. Medvedev said Communist deputies to the Supreme Soviet met during the course of the Supreme Soviet's first day and decided that the suspension of Com-munist Party activities does not apply to them. (Elizabeth Teague) RSFSR SUPREME SOVIET PRESIDIUM MEETS. The RSFSR Supreme Soviet presidium met October21 to discuss preparations for the fifth emergency Congress of RSFSR People's Deputies. Radio Moscow reported that day that at the Congress Yeltsin is planning to deliver an appeal to the peoples of the RSFSR, rather than a formal report on the situation in the republic. The presidium also discussed a legal reform plan as proposed by the parliament's Subcommittee for Reforming the Courts. The plan includes the revival of the institution of the jury. (Vera Tolz) YELTSIN APPEALS TO RSFSR PARLIAMENT ON ELECTIONS. On October 21, Yeltsin sent a letter to the RSFSR Supreme Soviet explaining why he had to veto the republican law on "The Election of Heads of Administrations," TASS reported. Yeltsin said the elections, if held December 8 as required by the law, will hamper the implementation of economic reforms in Russia. In its turn, the presidium of the parliament said the same day that the dispute over elections should be clarified before the Congress of the RSFSR People's Deputies starts its session. The presidium said that Yeltsin and the parliament should either seek a compromise over the issue or the parliament should give in to Yeltsin's demands in order to avoid further destabilization of the republic. (Vera Tolz) STRIKES IN RSFSR. Bus drivers went on strike October 20 in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky in the Soviet Far East. Moscow Radio said the drivers went back to work when they were promised higher wages and spare parts for their buses. On October 21, TASS reported, geologists at Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky's Institute of Volcanic Geology launched a hunger-strike to demand the dismissal of the institute director. On October 21, TASS reported, 100,000 medical workers staged a 2-hour strike in Kemerovo in Western Siberia to protest long working hours and low wages, and the present shortage of medicines. Also on October 21, TASS reported, inmates at a prison camp in Bashkiria began a hunger-strike to demand legal reforms. (Elizabeth Teague) STUDENTS STRIKE IN MOSCOW AND NOVOSIBIRSK. On October 21, students of the Novosibirsk Pedagogical Institute picketed the building of the oblast Soviet, Moscow Radio reported. They were calling for the transfer to the institute of a recently finished building originally promised to the local High Party School. Mean-while, students of the former Moscow High Party School have been on hunger strike for six days in protest against the transfer of the institute's building to the newly created Russian-American University ("Vesti," October 21). (Elizabeth Teague and Vera Tolz) STRIKE THREAT BY RSFSR UNIONS. The official trade union federation of the RSFSR, the FNPR, is calling on workers in the Russian Republic to hold meetings this week (October 21-26) to demand the creation of safety nets to protect workers during the transition to a market economy (Radio Moscow, October 20). The official union federation is threatening that, if the RSFSR government does not agree to this demand, it will call a one-hour strike throughout the Russian Federation on November 13. (Elizabeth Teague) COUP INVESTIGATION TO BE COMPLETED NEXT MONTH. The procurator general of the RSFSR, Valentin Stepankov, told USSR Radio on October 21 that, despite difficulties, he hopes to complete his investigation of the August coup by the end of November. Stepankov said one of the difficulties he faces is that a few dozen former KGB officials are trying to discredit the investigation; he did not name the officials. He added that the investigation has been hindered by the publication in the German magazine Der Spiegel of some of the protocols of the investigation. (Jean Riollot) THREE WRITERS' UNIONS TO COEXIST? 1,300writers living in the Russian Federation gathered in Moscow October 21 to announce the creation of the Union of Russian (Rossiiskii) Writers, TASS reported that day. This union is planned as a counterweight to the RSFSR Writers' Union, headed by hard-liner Yurii Bondarev. (The RSFSR Writers' Union supported the attempted coup.) Commenting on the situation, "Vesti" said October21 that now three writers' unions will coexist in Moscow--the USSR Writers' Union, the RSFSR Writers' Union and the Union of Russian Writers. (Vera Tolz) US SENATE AND CPSU CELLS COMPARED. The "TV-Inform" (former "Vremya") correspondent in Washington told the viewers on October 14 that the Thomas hearings reminded him of "an examination of a private affair in a [primary] Party cell." Such public washing of colleagues' dirty linen was an everyday feature of Soviet life in the early 1950s and even later, and to a Soviet audience the comparison would be amusing. Such an examination meant Party, Komsomol or trade union interference in the private lives of private citizens, but those holding high public office--such as Lavrentii Beria, chief of Stalin's secret police--could be as promiscuous as they pleased. (Julia Wishnevsky) VAKSBERG SUGGESTS ESTABLISHMENT COVER-UP. On the front page of Literaturnaya gazeta No. 40, Arkadii Vaksberg accuses Gorbachev of putting pressure on those responsible for the investigation of the August coup. Vaksberg says there have been attempts to limit the number of those implicated in the coup, and the Soviet media have sought to whitewash the junta. Vaksberg also suggests that the now-disbanded CPSU Central Committee Administrative Organs Department, which in the past exercised the infamous "telephone justice," is still putting illegal pressure on law-enforcement bodies. Vaksberg's accusations might be dismissed, if he were not the most respected legal columnist in the Soviet Union. (Julia Wishnevsky) YELTSIN COMMISSIONER CALLS FOR RUSSIAN STATEHOOD. The chief administrator of Kemerovo Oblast, Mikhail Kislyuk, was quoted by TASS on October 15 as saying that Russia must unite around the concept of Russian statehood. He used the term "solidarism," which refers to a consolidation of society and creation of a corporate state, describe this concept. Industrialists and entrepreneurs are to push the Russian economy forward. Kislyuk said that workers' committee in the oblast have responded positively to the notion of "solidarism." Kemerovo Oblast has been declared a Free Economic Zone. (Victor Yasmann) ECONOMIC AUTONOMY FOR REPUBLICS ADVOCATED. In testimony before a US Senate finance subcommittee on October 21, four US specialists suggested that individual republics of the former USSR might do better on their own than if they tried to recreate the union, RFE/RL's Washington bureau reported October 22. Jeffrey Sachs, Roger Robinson, Oleh Havrylyshyn, and Robert McConnell spoke in favor of the reformist republics developing their own programs without, if necessary, coordination with Moscow. The consensus appeared to be that a single economic space and a single centralized monetary system are useful but not a fundamental economic prerequisite for success in transformation. (Robert Lyle and Keith Bush) RYZHKOV ON GOLD SALES. Former USSR prime minister Nikolai Ryzhkov has joined the debate on Soviet gold sales and reserves. In an interview with Moskovsky komsomolets of October19, Ryzhkov said that gold reserves as of January 1990 stood at 784 tons, and that the Kremlin ordered the sale of 250 tons last year--far less than Yavlinsky and other critics have charged. Ryzhkov claimed that tight controls, including mandatory permission from President Gorbachev, made illicit sales of gold by CPSU officials or others virtually impossible. He suggested that the discrepancy in the various totals being bandied around could be explained by differences in accounting methods. (Keith Bush) VOL'SKY ON FOOD SUPPLY AND UNEMPLOYMENT. In an interview with Der Spiegel of October 21, Arkadii Vol'sky, the president of the Scientific-Industrial Association of the USSR and deputy chairman of the Committee for the Management of the Economy, termed the food situation "chaotic" and warned of high unemployment and runaway inflation. Vol'sky estimated the grain harvest to be 170 million tons at best (other forecasts have gone as low as 160 million tons), which he attributed to farmers who are refusing to meet state orders and to republics who are refusing to cooperate. Because of the Ukrainian ban on food exports, meat cost five rubles a kilo a week ago on the Poltava kolkhoz market but fifty rubles in Moscow. He predicted that 10-14 million could be unemployed by the end of 1992. (Keith Bush) GORBACHEV CANCELS EDICT ON ECONOMIC SABOTAGE. Mikhail Gorbachev has annulled his edict on economic sabotage and economic crimes, "TV Inform" reported on October 21. The edict, which was published on January 26, 1991, gave the KGB broad responsibilities in the economic field and led to the creation of the KGB Administration for Combatting Corruption, Economic Sabotage and Organized Crime. (Victor Yasmann) KGB CONFISCATES 40 KILOGRAMS OF GOLD. The Magadan KGB administration has confiscated a cache of gold nuggets at the local airport, "TV Inform" reported on October 20. The owner of the 40 kilograms of gold was the chairman of a cooperative and former MVD officer who was bound for Moscow. The investigation is focusing on his connections with gold miners in Kolyma, the KGB interrogator said. (Victor Yasmann) WEEKLY CALLS REFORM OF KGB "MYSTI-FICATION." The measures announcing the disbanding of the KGB and the reorganization of the state security apparatus insult the intelligence of the population, according to Soyuz, No. 41. The weekly complains that many of the statements of new KGB chief Vadim Bakatin are similar to those of Vladimir Kryuchkov. At the same time, the millions of voluntary KGB informers who made brilliant careers out of denunciation continue to occupy leading positions in Soviet society. Soyuz concluded that a cancer cannot be reorganized, it has to be removed. (Victor Yasmann) KESTON COLLEGE TO OPEN OFFICE IN MOSCOW. The October 10 issue of Baptist Times that Keston College, the organization which for many years alerted Western Christians to the problems and sufferings of believers in the Soviet Union, is negotiating with a Protestant publisher in Moscow to share office space. The opening of a Moscow office would mark a dramatic step in the history of this organization. (Oxana Antic) YELTSIN GREETING TO CONGRESS OF GERMANS. TASS reported on October 19 that Boris Yeltsin had sent greetings to the participants in the First Congress of Soviet Germans, and said that restoration of a German republic would have to be a gradual process. The first step would have to be renewal of the infrastructure, industry and social conditions in the region of the former Volga German ASSR. The same day, a telebridge between Saratov and Moscow discussed the problems connected with restoration of the German republic on the Volga. (Bess Brown) GORBACHEV STRESSES ACTIVE FOREIGN POLICY. In the same speech to the USSR Supreme Soviet, Gorbachev stressed that the USSR must continue to participate in the disarmament process and stress the humanitarian aspect of international security. Among the tasks Gorbachev labelled as "extremely important" were the "maintenance of the union's role as a world power in questions on an international scale--above all the settlement of regional conflicts, the harmonization of the foreign relations of the sovereign states belonging to the Union," and the maintenance of a "coordinating role" for the Union. (Suzanne Crow) FORMAL WITHDRAWAL TALKS ON CUBA SOON. Soviet Foreign Ministry sources told Interfax October 21 that talks on the withdrawal of a Soviet brigade from Cuba will begin at the end of October or beginning of November. Delegations would include diplomats and military experts. Unidentified MFA officials said the first Soviet servicemen will be pulled out of Cuba before the end of 1991. (Suzanne Crow) PANKIN AND ARAFAT TO MEET. Officials of the Palestinian Liberation Organization said October21 Foreign Minister Boris Pankin will meet with PLO leader Yasser Arafat in Paris on October 22 for talks on the upcoming Mideast peace conference. Both were in Cairo October 21 for meetings with Egyptian leaders, Western agencies reported. (Suzanne Crow) EXPULSIONS IN NORWAY. Eight Soviet diplomats were expelled for activities incompatible with their diplomatic status in Norway, the Norwegian Foreign Ministry said October 21. Five have already left the country, and three must depart before November 15. Bjoern Blokhus, Press Spokesman for the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, said Norway does not expect the USSR to take retaliatory actions, Western agencies reported October 21. (Suzanne Crow) SHAPOSHNIKOV TO GERMANY. USSR Defense Minister Evgenii Shaposhnikov will travel to Germany November 11-13 at the invitation of Germany Defense Minster Gerhard Stoltenberg, TASS reported October21. The visit will include political talks in Bonn and visits by the both the German and Soviet Defense Ministers to units of Soviet forces stationed in eastern Germany. (Suzanne Crow) GERMAN MINISTER PRESSES HONECKER ISSUE. German Justice Minister Klaus Kinkel flew to Moscow October 21 to request the extradition of former East German leader Erich Honecker. He met with RSFSR Justice Minister Nikolai Fyodorov, USSR Justice Minister Mikhail Vyshinsky, and Gorbachev adviser Aleksandr Yakovlev. Kinkel told reporters after the meetings RSFSR officials had expressed an interest in helping Germany obtain Honecker's extradition, but that Soviet authorities were reluctant to let Honecker go, Western agencies reported. Kinkel said in an interview with Germany's ZDF television (October 21) that he did not expect a quick solution to the case. (SuzanneCrow) DEFENSE MINISTRY DENIES CUTS. Major General Gennadii Kashuba, Head of the USSR Defense Ministry Press Center, denied rumors that the USSR will reduce the number of its troops by three times bringing total troop strength down to 1.5 million persons. A total reduction of 700,000 is expected to take place over the next few years, Kashuba told TASS October 21. Further cuts are possible, but not on a unilateral basis, he added. (Suzanne Crow) USSR--OTHER REPUBLICS GORBACHEV WARNS ON PROLIFERATION OF ARMIES. Speaking at the October 21 SupSov session, Mikhail Gorbachev lashed out at the notion of republican armies. Talk of privatizing or nationalizing the armed forces is "dangerous," Gorbachev said. "Such impulses . . . must be regarded as frivolous and irresponsible, unlawful and illegal." Gorbachev went on to threaten: "I ask the people to whom these words apply to draw the proper conclusions. Otherwise measures of a constitutional nature will be taken," TASS reported October 21. (Suzanne Crow) MOROZOV RESPONDS TO SHAPOSHNIKOV. Defense Minister Shaposhnikov's recent criticism of Ukraine's effort to establish its own army has been rebuffed by Ukrainian Minister of Defense Konstantin Morozov, Radio Kiev reported October 21. Morozov, according to the report, rejected Shaposhnikov's insistence that military personnel in Ukraine are bound to their oath of loyalty to the USSR Constitution. Our boys, maintained Morozov, will swear loyalty only to the constitution of independent Ukraine. (Roman Solchanyk) KRAVCHUK ON ECONOMIC UNION. Chairman of the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet Leonid Kravchuk told a meeting of leading economists that an economic union is a necessity, Radio Kiev reported October 21. Ukraine did not sign the document not because it is against such a union, but because it must first be thoroughly analyzed, said Kravchuk. (Roman Solchanyk) NEW RELIGIOUS CONFLICTS IN LVOV DISTRICT. Koza reported on October 9 that new tensions have been created between Orthodox and Ukrainian Greek-Catholics in Lvov Oblast by the arrival of a special commission of the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet. There are fears that because some commission members are sympathetic to one faith the work of this commission will not be objective. (Oxana Antic) GORBACHEV CLAIMS SNEGUR SUPPORTS ECONOMIC TREATY. Following Moldavia's decision to withhold its signature from the economic community treaty, Gorbachev was cited by Interfax and The Guardian October 18 as claiming that Moldavian President Mircea Snegur had cabled assurances that Moldavia supported and will sign the economic treaty. Gorbachev added that he had in turn assured Snegur that "Romania could also play a role in the accord." Gorbachev evidently assumed that Romania's inclusion in the accord would provide an incentive for Moldavia to join. (Vladimir Socor) UNWARRANTED ASSUMPTION ABOUT MOLDAVIA'S POSITION. Gorbachev's remark reflects a preconception that often seems to underlie Moscow's attitudes toward Moldavia. Kishinev's concerns over the treaty are wholly unrelated to the question of whether Romania joins it (assuming that this were a possibility) or not--an issue that Kishinev incidentally has not even considered. USSR leaders have repeatedly showed themselves unaware of the fact that Kishinev neither desires reunification with Romania, nor sees in Romania an economic alternative to the USSR and its republics. (Vladimir Socor) MOLDAVIAN POPULAR FRONT PARLIAMENTARY GROUP SHRINKS. At a session October 18, the remaining 65-odd (down from 140 in 1990) deputies of the Popular Front Deputies' Club split over the question of the Front's position on the coming presidential elections in which Snegur seeks election by popular vote. Participants told RFE/RL that about half of the deputies criticized the Front leadership's decision to oppose Snegur and left the Front's Club, which now consists of only 30 to 35 deputies and has elected former Prime Minister Mircea Druc as its chairman. (Vladimir Socor) BALTIC STATES LATVIA AND AZERBAIJAN TO COOPERATE. On October 18 representatives from Latvia and Azerbaijan signed a commercial accord for 1992. Latvia would get tires, synthetic rubber, detergents, cables, trailers, grapes, cognac, and tea, while Azerbaijan would received in return microbusses, reserve parts, semiconductors, and other manufactured goods. A similar accord is expected to be signed in the near future with Kazakhstan, Baltic News Agency reported on October 18. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY PROTESTS SOVIET INTERFERENCE. Radio Riga reported on October 21 that earlier that day the Latvian Foreign Ministry had sent a protest note to the Soviet authorities responsible for turning away the Belgian Air Force plane bringing Belgian Foreign Minister Mark Eyskens to Riga. Soviet officials said that the incident occurred because the USSR Baltic Military District leadership would not allow a plane that they considered as being a foreign military plane to enter Soviet airspace. Eyskens had planned a four-day visit to the Baltic States, but returned home on the evening of October 21. (Dzintra Bungs) IVANS ON NEW LATVIAN POLITICAL PARTY. Dainis Ivans, First Deputy Chairman of the Latvian Supreme Council, told RFE/RL Latvian Service on October 21 that he welcomes plans to create a centrist, democratic political party in Latvia. He said that he would join the party, but did not say when it would be founded. The party would aim to attract leading politicians and Latvian and non-Latvian intellectuals. Asked if the new party poses a direct challenge to the People's Front of Latvia--Ivans was its first chairman--he said that after the party is formed, the people will decide if the PFL is still needed. Heretofore, PFL served as an umbrella organization for parties and organizations favoring an independent and democratic Latvia. (Dzintra Bungs) LITHUANIAN DEPUTY PREMIER VISITS POLAND. PAP reported on October 19 that the Lithuanian Deputy Prime Minister Zigmas Vaisvila visited Sejny and Punsk, areas in northeastern Poland with a substantial population of Lithuanian ethnic origin. He was invited by the Lithuanian Social and Cultural Society "to acquaint himself with the conditions of life of the Lithuanian community in Poland, particularly with the potential for cultural development and to ascertain the need for any help Lithuania could possibly provide." (Roman Stefanowski) SAVISAAR MEETS SOBCHAK. Estonia's Prime Minister Edgar Savisaar met unofficially with Soviet presidential envoy and St. Petersburg mayor Anatoly Sobchak on October 21, according to TASS that day. The two discussed procedural questions related to upcoming Estonian-Soviet talks. Sobchak has been named chief negotiator for the bilateral talks which are to cover Soviet troop withdrawals and other issues. The two met at the RSFSR-Estonian border in the Estonian seaside resort town of Narva Joesuu. (Riina Kionka)
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