|Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov|
No. 203, 24 October 1991
USSR--ALL-UNION TOPICS AND RSFSR DEMONSTRATIONS IN MOSCOW AND ST. PETERSBURG. Thousands of people demonstrated in Moscow and St. Petersburg on October 23 for higher wages, more food, and a minimum wage, Central TV and Western agencies reported that day. The protests were said to be organized by the respective trade union federations. One Western news agency estimated the Moscow gathering at around 30,000. One of the demands made was the full indexation of wages in the face of recent and anticipated retail price increases. [This is a sure route to hyperinflation.] Moscow trade union federation chairman Mikhail Shmakov later told Central TV that if the protests are not heeded, the only other weapon is a strike. (Keith Bush) RSFSR PROCURACY TO TAKE MEASURES AGAINST SEPARATISTS. The RSFSR Prosecutor's Office announced October 23 that all political parties and public associations on the territory of the republic which call for the violation of the RSFSR's territorial integrity had been outlawed. TASS said the prosecutor's office was referring primarily to such organizations in Tatarstan and Checheno-Ingushetia. Leaders and members of such parties will be subject to criminal investigation and mass media promoting separatist tendencies will be closed, TASS quoted the prosecutor's office as saying. The USSR law on public associations adopted in 1990 also forbade the creation of parties planning the violation of the USSR's integrity. This provision of the law has rarely been implemented, however. (Vera Tolz) LIGACHEV DENIES LINKS TO COUP PLOTTERS. In an interview with Izvestia (October 23), former Politburo member Egor Ligachev denied accusations leveled against him the previous day in the Russian parliament to the effect that he was involved in the preparation of the attempted coup. Ligachev claimed that two men in the CPSU did not know beforehand about the August events--himself and Mikhail Gorbachev. (Vera Tolz) MOST OFFICIALS DID NOT SUPPORT YELTSIN DURING COUP. A study conducted by the Control Department in the RSFSR president's office indicated that more than 70% of the RSFSR's oblasts, krais, autonomous republics, autonomous oblasts and okrugs failed to support Yeltsin during the coup and either sided with the junta or adopted a wait-and-see position. The remaining 29.5% of the territorial units in the republic declared their loyalty to the RSFSR president, but only the local authorities in Moscow, Leningrad and three oblasts gave active support to Yeltsin. None of the Communist Party Committees in the RSFSR supported Yeltsin, Moskovsky komsomolets and Nezavisimaya gazeta reported October 23. Instead, two-thirds of them supported the junta and one third adopted a wait-and-see position. (Vera Tolz) LOCAL GOVERNMENT REORGANIZATION IN MOSCOW. October 27 will see the disappearance of the executive committees (raiispolkomy) that used, under the tutelage of the local Communist Party, to run Moscow's 33 districts. Local government in the Soviet capital is to be reorganized into ten administrative districts, each of which will be headed by a prefect who will also be a member of the Moscow government. These districts will in turn be subdivided into 124 municipal regions, each headed by a sub-prefect. According to TASS (October 22) the reorganization is so far creating more problems and confusion than it is solving. (Elizabeth Teague) SCANDAL OVER SOBCHAK'S ROLE IN COUP OPPOSITION. The St. Petersburg newspaper Smena has published a transcript of a telephone conversation between the city mayor Anatolii Sobchak and Leningrad KGB chief Kurkov that was conducted during one of the nights of the coup, "Vesti" reported October 23. According to the transcript, Kurkov told Sobchak that then-KGB chief Kryuchkov wished Sobchak success in conducting the so-called "Operation-10," which, Smena explained, was the code name for a mass anti-junta demonstration that Sobchak planned to start on August 20 at 10 am. Experts from the RSFSR KGB confirmed the authenticity of the tape. "Vesti" quoted Sobchak as saying the conversation indeed took place, but insisting that its content was misinterpreted. He is reportedly going to sue Smena. (Vera Tolz) MORE ON CPSU SUPPORT TO FOREIGN CPs. Twenty million dollars put by the CPSU in one of the Italian banks were recently discovered, "Radio Rossii" reported October 23 without giving details. The radio also quoted a Soviet journalist in Venezuela, Yurii Isaev, as detailing how the financing of the local Communist Party was conducted. According to Isaev, every three months a representative of the Venezuelan CP met with an employee of the Soviet embassy who provided the representative with cash. The Soviet side never asked the Venezuelan CP to report how the money was spent. Isaev claimed that the embassy employee often complained to him that the Venezuelan CP leaders in fact used a good part of the Soviet aid to buy themselves villas and other property. (Vera Tolz) POPOV WARNS OF FASCIST DANGER. On October 22, Russian TV's "Vesti" reported Moscow Mayor Gavriil Popov's warning, during an interview in Washington, DC, of a possible fascist coup in the Soviet Union. At a press conference in Los Angeles the same day, Western news agencies reported that Popov said the main result of the August coup attempt was the suspension of the Communist Party, but he blamed weaknesses within the democratic movement for the lack of progress in economic reforms. He said, "We still have problems with producing consumer goods, food, and clothes," and, "Our main task, privatization, has barely moved." (Carla Thorson) SUGAR RIOT IN MOSCOW. A crowd broke into a bakery in the Perovo district of Moscow over the weekend in search of sugar, Western agencies reported on October 23 and 24. An official of the food department of the RSFSR Goskomstat was quoted as saying that only 43% of sugar delivery quotas were met by republics supplying the RSFSR. But help is on the way. Germany is said to be planning to sell 360,000 tons of sugar to the USSR from stocks in the former GDR. Any such sales will qualify for the special export credit program for eastern Germany that provides for longer credit periods, exemption from down payment, and for repayment grace periods. (Keith Bush) BUSH GIVEN SOVIET FOOD AID REQUEST. Late on October 22, US President George Bush received a written request from Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev for food aid. The document was said to run to 300 pages and was written in Russian, Western agencies reported October 23. It was delivered by US Agriculture Secretary Ed Madigan on his return from a nine-day fact-finding tour of the USSR; Madigan is believed to have urged the President to grant $1 billion in emergency food credits. The request is reportedly part of the overall sum of some $11 billion in aid sought from the West. A key component of any aid package would be the rapid provision of feedstuffs to prevent further distress slaughtering of livestock. (Keith Bush) PRESIDENTIAL DECREE ON VNESHEKONOM-BANK. A copy of an as yet unpublished presidential decree dated October 19 on Vneshekonombank was cited by Western agencies on October 23. The decree stipulates that Vneshekonombank is the sole agent responsible for servicing the country's foreign debt and will also handle new credits and manage hard currency resources in the interests of the Soviet Union and its republics. The bank is to maintain these functions in accordance with decisions of the USSR Supreme Soviet and the State Council. The decree is said to have been approved by ten republican leaders and is expected to form part of the agreement on an economic community that has so far been signed by eight republics. (Keith Bush) GERMAN CONCERN ABOUT SOVIET NUCLEAR SAFETY. On his return from a visit to Chernobyl and other parts of the USSR, German Environment Minister Klaus Toepfer told reporters October 21 that the Soviet nuclear power industry is in disarray, RFE/RL's Bonn bureau reported that day. Control of nuclear energy was previously inadequate and is now deteriorating; there is no longer any viable control by the central government and republics have not assumed responsibility. Toepfer expressed the view that massive Western aid for the Soviet nuclear industry will be forthcoming. (Keith Bush) RSFSR KGB READY TO COOPERATE WITH WESTERN SERVICES. The Russian KGB wants to cooperate with western secret services in combatting terrorism, drug trafficking and the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons, RSFSR KGB chairman Viktor Ivanenko has said, according to a TASS report of October 23. His organization is interested not only an exchange of information, but also in the creation of joint operative units. Ivanenko also said that the RSFSR KGB is still in a formative stage and has only about a hundred men; the new name of RSFSR KGB will be "Federal Security Service of Russia." Ivanenko statement's on the size of the RSFSR KGB contradicts earlier reports that "the entire Russian KGB took the side of Yeltsin during the coup." (Victor Yasmann) AMNESTY FOR DESERTERS AND DRAFT DODGERS PROPOSED. Gorbachev has proposed an amnesty for military deserters and draft dodgers to the USSR Supreme Soviet session, Interfax and Soviet TV reported October 23. The amnesty legislation would cover all servicemen and reservists who have deserted as well as those who have failed to report for the draft. The proposal specifies that men would be eligible for the amnesty if they either returned to duty or presented themselves to the police within one month of the proposed legislation taking effect. (Carla Thorson) ACADEMY OF SCIENCES AND KGB FORECAST CATASTROPHE. The catastrophic situation in the Soviet Union will reach its crucial point by next spring and may lead to another, successful coup, according to a report prepared by the Military-Political Department of the USA and Canada Institute, the Institute of Europe, and the Analytical and Economic Administration of the KGB. Excerpts from the report were published in Moskovskie Novosti, No. 41. The driving force of such a coup might be the Army, which is already poorly controlled. The coup might be even set off by the wives of the 173,000 army officers withdrawn from Eastern Europe. Although the report provides quite reliable factual data, its conclusions appear politically biased and aligned with the interests of the central government. (Victor Yasmann) RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH APPEALS TO THE PRESS. TASS reported on October 23 that the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church has published an appeal to journalists, complaining that a number of Soviet publications have given a distorted picture of the life of the Russian Orthodox Church and accuse it of various misdeeds, such as "tendencies toward a monopoly on ideas," heresy, and cooperation with the organizers of the August putsch. The Church says it does not intend to reply to each accusation individually, but asks journalists to contribute to tranquillity within the Church. (Oxana Antic) TATAR SUPREME SOVIET DEBATES INDEPENDENCE. TASS and AFP reported on October 23 that the Supreme Soviet of Tatarstan was continuing debate on two draft declarations of independence and had created a commission to resolve differences between the two documents. A Tatar journalist told RFE/RL the same day that troops were blocking the road from Kazan to Naberezhnye Chelny, presumably to prevent pro-independence forces from going to Kazan to demonstrate during the debate. (Bess Brown) CAMBODIA SETTLEMENT. Foreign Minister Boris Pankin took part in the signing of documents related to the Cambodia settlement in Paris on October 23. Among the documents signed was an agreement on a comprehensive political settlement, and agreements on that country's sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity. Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Rogachev said in a Radio Mayak interview (October 23): "Now we are really drawing the line. We really want Cambodia to become an independent, neutral, democratic state." (Suzanne Crow) MEETING WITH VIETNAMESE, CHINESE LEADERS. Pankin also met in Paris with his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Manh Cam to discuss bilateral relations and economic cooperation. The two ministers expressed the belief that Soviet-Vietnamese cooperation should continue. Pankin met with Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen to discuss the situation in the Soviet Union, bilateral relations, and international problems. The two ministers also agreed to hold wide-ranging talks during the visit of Chinese Foreign Minister to the Soviet Union set for March, 1992, TASS reported October 23. (Suzanne Crow) KOZYREV ON ISLANDS. Speaking at the Chamber of Nationalities in the RSFSR Supreme Soviet, RSFSR Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev said that current negotiations with Japan concern not the transfer of the disputed Kurile Islands but the settlement of the Soviet-Japanese border. "Russia does not have superfluous territory, but we need internationally recognized borders in the east, the same as in the west," Kozyrev was quoted by TASS (October 23) as saying. His comments seemed designed to counter criticism of Sakhalin Regional Administration chief Valentin Fyodorov who accused the RSFSR leadership of trying to sell off the republic. (Suzanne Crow) USSR--OTHER REPUBLICS US PLEASED BY UKRAINIAN NUCLEAR STANCE. US State Department official Richard Boucher is quoted by TASS on October 23 as saying that the US takes a positive view of Ukraine's determination to be a nuclear-free country, specifically its stand on nuclear arms. At the same time, he expressed "concern" over Ukraine's plans to form a strong army of its own. These moves, he stated, go against efforts in Europe and North America to reduce armed forces. (Roman Solchanyk) NUCLEAR ARMS IN UKRAINE. Deputy Chairman of the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet Vladimir Grinev said on October 23 that Ukraine has not "nationalized" nuclear weapons on its territory, Western news agencies reported the same day. Grinev asserted that there are no grounds for panic. He said that there will be no separate Ukrainian nuclear arms and that they will remain under joint command. As for Ukrainian armed forces, Grinev stated that their formation "has already begun." (Roman Solchanyk) RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN NUCLEAR CONFLICT IS 'NONSENSE.' RSFSR Defense Minister General Konstantin Kobets, in an interview published October 19 in Krasnaya zvezda, strongly denied a recent report in Moscow News alleging that Russian government officials had discussed the possibility of a nuclear conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Kobets also denied a report that appeared on October 15 in Britain's The Independent, which said that the United States was helping the RSFSR develop a defense shield against missiles launched at it by other republics. (Kathy Mihalisko) SOLZHENITSYN RAISES UKRAINIAN IRE--AGAIN. Little more than one year after publishing his controversial article Kak nam obustroit' Rossiyu, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn once again is the object of biting criticism in Ukraine. In the October 8 issue of Trud, the Russian novelist welcomed the forthcoming Ukrainian referendum on independence but recommended that, in the interests of the republic's huge Russian population, each oblast decide for itself whether it wished to belong to an independent Ukrainian state. Ten of Ukraine's most prominent former political prisoners--including Vyacheslav Chornovil, Irina Kalynets, and the Horyn brothers--signed a letter condemning Solzhenitsyn's position, which Trud published on October 15. (Kathy Mihalisko) PUBLIC ORGANIZATIONS BEGIN REGISTERING IN KAZAKHSTAN. Radio Moscow reported on October 22 that political parties and other public organizations in Kazakhstan have begun registering under the new law on public organizations. Among the first registrants was the Socialist, formerly Communist, Party of Kazakhstan. (Bess Brown) NAZARBAEV INVITED TO US. The October 15 issue of Egemendy Qazaqstan reports that US Ambassador Robert Strauss forwarded a formal invitation to Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbaev to visit the US. Secretary of State James Baker had already extended an invitation directly to Nazarbaev during the course of a telephone conversation. The written invitation was presumably a confimation. A time has not been set for the visit. (Hasan Oraltay) "DNIESTER SSR" TO HOLD OWN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION, REFERENDUM. The self-styled Supreme Soviet of the "Dniester SSR," proclaimed by Russian communists in eastern Moldavia, resolved October 23 to boycott Moldavia's presidential elections scheduled for December 8 and to hold an election by popular vote for a "Dniester SSR" president, TASS reported the same day. A referendum on the Dniester area's secession from Moldavia will be held concurrently. Dniester leader Igor Smirnov told TASS that his side considered Moldavia "a foreign state" and that Russians in the Dniester area oppose "the Moldavian leadership's policy which seeks full state independence." (Vladimir Socor) BALTIC STATES FUTURE OF BALTIC POPULAR FRONT ORGANIZATIONS DISCUSSED. On October 23 representatives of Lithuania's Sajudis and the People's Fronts of Estonia and Latvia met in Riga to evaluate and compare their present situations and to consider their future, Radio Riga reported that day. All three organizations seem to be at a crossroads in terms of the role that they should now play in the Baltic States. It has been suggested that they become political parties, or even disband. The representatives agreed that a session of the Baltic Assembly be called after the upcoming congresses of the three organizations. The Latvian popular front's fourth congress is scheduled for November 15-17. (Dzintra Bungs) LITHUANIA PROTESTS SOVIET INTERFERENCE OVER AIRSPACE. On October 22 Lithuanian Deputy Prime Minister Zigmas Vaisvila called USSR Minister of Defense Evegenii Shaposhnikov to protest Soviet interference in the landing of a Hungarian and a Danish plane in Vilnius, Interfax reported on October 23. Vaisvila also complained about the slowness of the withdrawal of USSR troops from Lithuania and the transfer of property to the republic. In response, the Soviet Defense Ministry promised to send Anatolii Kleimenov to Lithuania to discuss these problems. (Dzintra Bungs) COURT TO DEAL WITH ECONOMIC ISSUES IN LATVIA. The Latvian Supreme Council decided on October 23 to establish a court to deal with economic disputes between parties based in Latvia or involving a foreign plaintiff or defendant. The court has been accorded wide-ranging authority, including the right to decide if a business contract is illegal under the applicable laws, according to Radio Riga of October 23. (Dzintra Bungs) FUEL PRICES TO RISE IN LATVIA. The Ministry of Energy announced that on November 1 fuel and heating bills will increase substantially for consumers. According to Baltic News Service dispatch of October 23, the price of coal will increase over 9 times, while for other fuels (wood and liquid) over 6 times. (Dzintra Bungs)
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