Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead
RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 207, 30 October 1991



USSR--ALL-UNION TOPICS AND RSFSR



YELTSIN GATHERS SUPPORT. Democratic leaders are stressing their
appreciation for Yeltsin's policy of a "reformist breakthrough."
The co-leader of the Democratic Russia Movement, Yurii Afanas'ev
told Western news agencies on October 29 that his Movement will
support Yeltsin. RSFSR deputy Mikhail Bocharov welcomed Yeltsin's
move to a more authoritarian style. Nikolai Travkin, chairman
of the Russian Democratic Party, emphasized that in Yeltsin's
speech, the concept of a union was put to rest. (Alexander Rahr)


SILAEV COMMITTEE ENDORSES YELTSIN PROGRAM. At a session of the
Committee for the Operational Management of the Economy on October
29, acting USSR Prime Minister Ivan Silaev praised the salient
features of the Yeltsin program, TASS reported that day. Silaev
was quoted as declaring that the RSFSR plan's provisions for
price liberalization and rapid privatization would encourage
the elaboration of a program for all republics. He did not view
the Yeltsin blueprint as a threat to the economic community that
was tentatively agreed to by eight republics on October18; "the
success of reforms in the sovereign republics will largely depend
on how fast and how successfully reforms go in Russia." (Keith
Bush)

FURTHER SUPPORT FOR THE RSFSR PLAN. The same TASS dispatch cited
USSR Deputy Economics Minister Vladimir Gribov as calling Yeltsin's
program hard to implement but necessary; "we have no other way--the
country is in a catastrophic situation." Gribov emphasized that
the freeing of prices must not be accompanied by the complete
liberalization of salaries, as this would provoke rampant inflation.
He advocated a reform of the tax system to draw in more revenues,
stipulating higher profit taxes and the imposition of a 15% value
added tax on some goods. (Keith Bush)

GAIDAR - A KEY FIGURE IN YELTSIN'S NEW CABINET. RSFSR President
Boris Yeltsin plans to appoint the radical economist Yegor Gaidar
as RSFSR economic and finance minister and also make him his
first deputy as premier, The Financial Times reported on October
30. Gaidar is regarded as the architect of the idea that Russia
should go its own way without the republics. He is at odds with
another radical economist, Grigorii Yavlinsky, who stresses the
need to preserve the union. Gaidar will enter Yeltsin's cabinet
with his own staff of young economists from Moscow and St. Petersburg
economic institutes. The future RSFSR Cabinet of Ministers will
consist of no more than 20 ministers. (Alexander Rahr)

TWO RSFSR DEPUTIES RESIGN. Boris Isaev and Svetlana Goryacheva
both asked to be relieved from their duties as deputy chairmen
of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet, TASS reported October 29. The two
are known opponents of RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin, and last
spring they were among the deputies who asked for Yeltsin's resignation.
Yeltsin's position was challenged after he had urged Soviet President
Gorbachev to resign for allegedly seeking a dictatorship. (Carla
Thorson)

RUMYANTSEV ON REFUSAL OF RSFSR CONGRESS TO DISCUSS DRAFT CONSTITUTION.
The secretary of the RSFSR Constitutional Commission, Oleg Rumyantsev,
condemned the decision of the RSFSR Congress of People's Deputies
to exclude discussion of the draft RSFSR constitution from its
agenda, TASS reported October 28. Speaking at a press conference,
Rumyantsev blamed for the decision the opponents of reform, represented
by the group "Communists of Russia," deputies from the autonomous
territories, and the "Smena" group. Rumyantsev said Yeltsin had
prepared a major speech on the draft constitution. (Ann Sheehy)


CUSTOMS DUTIES ON CONSUMER GOODS LOWERED. A presidential decree
is anticipated soon that will exempt foodstuffs and other basic
necessities from customs duties and reduce duties by 20% on other
selected items, TASS reported October 25. The president of the
Customs Commission was cited as explaining that the move was
intended to bolster imports, which had fallen by 47% during the
first nine months of 1991. Interfax of October 25 reported a
proposal to reduce duties on other imported products and to raise
the amount of hard currency that Soviet tourists were allowed
to bring back into the country. (Keith Bush)

SILAEV ON FATE OF UNION MINISTRIES. In a statement in the latest
issue of Pravitel'stvennyi vestnik, cited by TASS on October
29, Ivan Silaev, chairman of the Interstate Economic Committee,
said that a ministry of finance was no longer necessary since
the budget would be formed from fixed contributions from the
republics. Silaev said that the republics had agreed so far only
to have a Union committee of culture, and ministries of railways,
medium machine building, and the atomic energy industry. Silaev
said that 37,000 employees of the central ministries and departments
would be redundant. He thought the majority would go into newly
created RSFSR ministries. (Ann Sheehy)

SILAEV ON INTERSTATE ECONOMIC COM-MITTEE. Silaev added that the
Interstate Economic Committee would take over the functions of
the Committee for the Operational Management of the Economy (which
he also heads) in 1992 after the republics had signed the first
10-15 agreements that will determine the mechanism of implementing
the treaty on an economic community. (Ann Sheehy)

KHASBULATOV SAYS SMALL TURNOUT IN CHECHEN-INGUSH ELECTIONS. At
the RSFSR Congress of People's Deputies on October 29 Ruslan
Khasbulatov, chairman of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet, said that
only about 200,000 people voted in the election of the president
of the self-styled Chechen republic, TASS reported October 29.
Khasbulatov added that, in his view, this conflicted with the
norms of democracy. At the time of the 1989 census the population
of Checheno-Ingushetia was 1,338,000, of whom 735,000 were Chechens.
Yel'tsin's representative in Checheno-Ingushetia, Akhmet Arsanov,
said that the elections had taken place "under the barrels of
the machine-guns" of the local national guard. (Ann Sheehy)

KHASBULATOV BLAMES PRESS PARTLY FOR EVENTS IN CHECHENO-INGUSHETIA.
At a press conference in the Kremlin October 29, Khasbulatov
blamed the press for inflaming national enmities by its primitive
and unskilled reporting on events in areas of tension. He said
that fertile soil for the continuation of the "criminal" regime
of ex-General Dzhakhar Dudaev in Checheno-Ingushetia had been
created more than half by the support, perhaps involuntary, of
the press and television. (Ann Sheehy)

DUDAEV WIDENS HIS HORIZONS. An organizational committee to create
a Party of the Independence of the Caucasus has been set up in
the Chechen-Ingush capital of Groznyi, "Vesti" reported October
29, citing RIA. It is expected that the new party will be proclaimed
at a congress of the mountain peoples of the Caucasus in November
in Sukhumi. "Inform-TV" claimed, however, on October 29, that
Dudaev was already facing problems in his desire to unite the
peoples of the Caucasus. Not only do the Ingush want to remain
part of the RSFSR but so do some Chechen. (Ann Sheehy)

SITUATION DETERIORATES IN DAGESTAN. According to "Vesti" and
"Inform-TV" of October 29, the situation has deteriorated in Dagestan,
which also threatens to become another area of conflict in the
North Caucasus. "Vesti" reported October 24 that meetings and
strikes were taking place in Dagestan demanding the resignation
of the republic's Supreme Soviet. (Ann Sheehy)

WEALTH BECOMING SOCIALLY ACCEPTABLE. Experts have warned that
egalitarianism is so deeply rooted in the Russian psyche that
the population will never accept the meritocratic work ethic
of modern society. But a recent public opinion poll by sociologist
Boris Grushin suggests that Soviet citizens are growing more
tolerant of wealth disparities. Eight months ago, only 43% of
those polled found it acceptable that some members of Soviet
society should be richer than others, whereas 38% disapproved.
But, when Professor Grushin repeated the poll last month, he
found that 75% thought the existence of rich people was acceptable,
and only 13% disapproved. This finding was reported on Central
TV's "Vremya" on October 27. (Elizabeth Teague)

US-SOVIET COOPERATION ON CONVERSION. At a Moscow news conference
on October 29, US Deputy Defense Secretary Donald Atwood said
that the US will act as a "catalyst" in the conversion to civilian
output of the Soviet defense industry, Western agencies reported
that day. Atwood is heading a delegation of American business
and political figures that is touring Soviet military industrial
complexes. At the same conference, Viktor Protasov, a member
of the Committee for the Operational Management of the Economy,
warned that the USSR's defense industry is threatened with disaster
following the collapse of central power. (Keith Bush)

AID ON THE WAY? At the same press conference, Bush said that
the question of aid to the Soviet Union requires further discussion.
He did not provide details on the amount of aid discussed. However,
a Western report of October 30 said Bush had accepted a proposal
by Edward R. Madigan, US Secretary of Agriculture, that the United
States provide $1 billion in aid. According to the same report,
the Soviet Union has requested $3.5 billion in aid. The US Agriculture
Department has said that both figures are incorrect. (Suzanne
Crow)

SOVIET STANCE AT MADRID TALKS. An unidentified aide to Mikhail
Gorbachev said the Soviet Union will employ an evenhanded policy
during the Middle East peace conference which starts October
30 in Madrid. According to a report in Israel's Ma'Ariv, the
aide said: "our consistent support for the Arab side in the past stemmed
mainly from our having been involved in a global conflict with the United
States. Today we are no longer a superpower . . .. Our foreign policy
is dictated by internal considerations and regional rather than
global, strategic interests . . ..We believe that as long as
the Arab-Israeli conflict remains unresolved, the chances of
Islamic fundamentalism and instability spreading across our borders
grow." (Suzanne Crow)

HOW SYMBOLIC IS THE SOVIET ROLE? The New York Times shed light
October 30 on the extent to which the USSR has been sidelined
by the United States in the Middle East peace conference. When
asked about seating arrangements in Madrid, a Soviet official
shrugged and said: "You have to ask the Americans. We don't know
anything. The Americans are handling everything." The Times report
also related that in Jerusalem earlier this month, Soviet Foreign
Minister Boris Pankin asked U.S. Secretary of State James Baker,
moments before the delivery of Baker's comments on the US view
of the Middle East situation, if Baker would tell journalists
he was making a joint Soviet-American statement. (Suzanne Crow)


COURT DECISION ON HASSIDIC MANUSCRIPTS NOT CONTESTED. The Moscow
news program "Vesti" reported on October 28 that the decision
of the State Arbitrarian Court to return the famous Hassidic
manuscripts known as the Shneerson Collection has not been appealed.
(See Daily Report, October 23.) The decision of the Court to
return these documents to the Moscow Shneerson community is final
and must be carried out before November 8. (Oxana Antic)


USSR--OTHER REPUBLICS


KRAVCHUK MEETS WITH BAVARIAN PRESIDENT. At a meeting in Kiev
on October 29, Ukrainian Supreme Soviet chairman Leonid Kravchuk
assured Wilhelm Forndran, president of the Bavarian parliament,
that "Ukraine will never be a militaristic state." Kravchuk added
that some Western media sources had given the public misleading
and inaccurate information about Ukraine's plans for the strategic
and tactical nuclear weapons located on its territory. (Kathy
Mihalisko)

UKRAINIAN SUPSOV VOTES TO CLOSE CHERNOBYL'. The Supreme Soviet
of Ukraine appealed on October 29 to the United Nations for technical
assistance in shutting down the Chernobyl' nuclear power plant,
according to TASS. Although Chernobyl' was due to be phased out
of operation by 1995, the recent fire at the plant's second bloc
convinced the Ukrainian parliament to vote for the immediate
closure of that bloc and for the shutting down of the first and
third blocs by no later than 1993. (Kathy Mihalisko)

HUNGER STRIKE AND COUNTER-HUNGER STRIKES IN CRIMEA. As Radio
Kiev reported on October 29, Crimean people's deputy Yurii Meskhov,
who heads the pro-Russian "Republican Movement of Crimea," is
continuing a hunger strike to gain support for annulling the
1954 act that transferred the peninsula from RSFSR to Ukrainian
jurisdiction. Three journalists from the newspaper Krymskii komsomolets
are, however, staging a "counter-hunger strike" to protest Meshkov's
views. Local Communist authorities have mounted a campaign to
separate the Crimean ASSR from independence-minded Ukraine. (Kathy
Mihalisko)

NAZARBAEV IN GREAT BRITAIN. On October 29, the second day of
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev's official visit to Great
Britain, Nazarbaev met with British Prime Minister John Major
to discuss the development of direct relations between Kazakhstan
and the UK and Western assistance to the Soviet Union. TASS,
Western news agencies and the RFE/RL London correspondent reported
on Nazarbaev's meetings with Major and other leaders, including
the president of the European Bank, Jacques Attali, to whom Nazarbaev
described the economic reforms underway in Kazakhstan. Nazarbaev
also met with former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who gave
him a resounding vote of confidence. (Stewart Parrott/Bess Brown)


NAZARBAEV ON NUCLEAR WEAPONS. In an October 29 speech to the
Royal Institute of International Affairs, Nazarbaev explained
his stand on nuclear weapons, saying that Kazakhstan does not
want to take control of the nuclear weapons on its soil, much
less use them, but insists on having a voice in the control of
these weapons. Nazarbaev said that he believes that a single
controlling body, to include the defense ministers of all republics,
will oversee a single strategic weapons system. He also said
that Kazakhstan wants to participate in arms reduction talks
affecting weapons on its territory. (Stewart Parrott/Bess Brown)


NO GASOLINE IN PETROPAVLOVSK. Radio Moscow reported on October
29 that all transport has stopped in Petropavlovsk, the center
of North Kazakhstan Oblast, because there is no gasoline--Bashqortostan
has stopped delivering it. For most of 1991 Kazakhstan has been
suffering serious fuel shortages. At one point airplanes could
not take off from Alma-Ata due to lack of kerosine. The failure
of deliveries from the RSFSR could have serious political consequences
in North Kazakhstan, because it could strengthen the argument
of the region's Russian majority that the oblast should be part
of the RSFSR. (Bess Brown)

UZBEKS TRY TO RETRIEVE NATIONAL HERITAGE. Central TV's evening
news show "TSN," quoting Megapolis-ekspress, reported on Octo-ber29
that Khorezm Oblast authorities are trying to retrieve the throne
of the khans of Khiva from the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. The
historic city of Khiva is located in Uzbekistan's Khorezm Oblast.
According to the report, the Uzbek request was rejected on the
grounds that Khorezm lacks facilities to protect the throne,
and it might be stolen. (Bess Brown)



BALTIC STATES


SWEDEN SIGNS TRADE ACCORDS WITH BALTIC STATES. On October 28
Swedish Foreign Minister Margaretha Af Ugglas signed agreements
with her counterparts Lennart Meri of Estonia and Janis Jurkans
of Latvia establishing most-favored-nation trade relationships
between Sweden and the two Baltic states. A similar accord between
Sweden and Lithuania was endorsed in Vilnius on October29 by
Ugglas and Lithuanian Foreign Minister Algirdas Saudargas, reported
Western and Baltic agencies on October 29 and 30. (Dzintra Bungs)


BALTIC STATES WANT COMPENSATION FOR THEIR GOLD. On November 7
Baltic officials plan to discuss in London compensation for about
13tons of gold deposited with the Bank of England in the 1920s.
(The Financial Times of October 29 gives the amount as about
460,220 ozs.) About 34% of the gold belonged to Estonia, 44%
to Latvia, and the rest to Lithuania. Following an accord reached
between Great Britain and the USSR not to pursue financial claims
against each other, the British government sold the Baltic gold
in 1968. Recognizing the sensitivity of the issue for the Balts,
the British Foreign Office said that it wants to negotiate rapidly
"an amicable solution in the context of our broader relations,"
reported the RFE/RL London correspondent on October 29. (Dzintra
Bungs)

EUROPEAN RECONSTRUCTION BANK FAVORS BALTIC MEMBERSHIP. The directors
of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development recommended
on October 29 that Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania be granted
membership in the EBRD, Western agencies reported that day. As
members, the Baltic States would be entitled to aid from the
bank. Last week Baltic representatives were in London to meet
EBRD officials and discuss the economic situation in their countries.
(Dzintra Bungs)

BALTIC PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY ENVISAGED. Radio Riga interviewed
on October 29 Deputy of the Latvian Supreme Council Aleksandrs
Kirsteins about plans to establish a Baltic parliamentary assembly
to coordinate the work on issues of common interest among the
Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian legislatures. Twenty deputies
from each state would take part in the joint sessions, intended
to take place twice yearly. The first meeting is scheduled for
November 7 in Tallinn. (Dzintra Bungs)

OFFICES FOR US DIPLOMATIC MISSION IN RIGA. On October 29 the
Latvian Supreme Council adopted a decision designating offices
in Raina Boulevard and Smilsu Street for use by the US mission
in Latvia, reported Radio Riga that day. The buildings are occupied
by other institutions, which will have to leave promptly in order
that the American diplomats can move into their offices next
month. There is a severe shortage of housing and office space
in Riga. (Dzintra Bungs)

LATVIAN DESIGNATED AS LANGUAGE OF THE LATVIAN SUPREME COUNCIL.
On October 29 the Latvian Supreme Council decided that as of
November 1 the Council's official documents and proceedings will
no longer be translated into Russian. Deputies of the pro-USSR
Ravnopravie faction opposed the decision since many of them are
not fluent in Latvian. Heretofore, the proceedings and the documents
were translated into Russian, a practice dating from the Latvian
SSR Supreme Soviet. The Russian-speaking deputies would, however,
be able to address the council in Russian and their speeches
would be translated into Latvian. The decision was adopted following
reports of the deputies criticizing the slow implementation of
the law on state language. (Dzintra Bungs)

ESTONIA WILL SHOULDER ITS SHARE. Estonia is prepared to assume
its part of the Soviet foreign debt, according to Estonia's Finance
Minister Rein Miller. Miller told BNS on October 29 that "the
question of the foreign debt of the former-USSR must be resolved
in a nuanced way, within the framework of Estonian-USSR economic
negotiations." An October 28 agreement among 12Soviet republics
to repay the debt was almost wrecked when Ukraine threatened
to withdraw unless the Baltics agreed to pay their share. There
were no Baltic representatives at Monday's meeting, but Miller
nevertheless characterized the Baltic clause in the agreement
as "correct." (Riina Kionka)

USSR REHABILITATES BALTIC LEADERS. USSR Prosecutor General Nikolai
Trubin on October 28 ordered the rehabilitation of two interwar
Baltic leaders, TASS reported that day. Trubin signed the orders
for the rehabilitation of Estonia's President Konstantin Pats
and Lithuania's Prime Minister Antanas Merkys, saying that both
men, leaders of sovereign states, had been arrested unlawfully
by foreign authorities. Pats and Merkys were arrested and deported
to labor camps when the USSR forcibly annexed the Baltic states,
and both died in custody. (Riina Kionka)

SWEDISH PRESS: LINK AID TO POLITICAL CORRECTNESS. Citizenship
laws under discussion in Estonia and Latvia have raised concerns
in the Swedish press that the Baltic legislatures intend to discriminate
against non-Balts. According to an October 29 RFE Estonian Service
program, some observers argue that Swedish aid should be linked
to passage of "more liberal" naturalization laws. (Riina Kionka)


SWEDISH POLITICIANS DISAGREE. Many Swedish politicians disagree
with the press. Minister for Foreign Aid Alf Svenson, for instance,
told reporters that "Swedish aid to the Baltic states will remain
fully in place regardless of how the citizenship issue is resolved."
And Dagens Nyheter of October 27 quotes Swedish Foreign Minister
Margaretha Ugglas as saying: "The citizenship question is an
internal matter for the Baltic states. Only they have the authority
to decide who should get citizenship and who should not. Sweden
does not intend in any way to interfere or to influence Estonia,
Latvia and Lithuania in these questions." (Riina Kionka)

IMPORT/EXPORT EASIER IN ESTONIA. Estonia's government has approved
a proposal to liberalize import/export regulations. According
to Paevaleht of October 29, quoting State Minister Raivo Vare,
Estonia has eliminated quotas and licensing requirements, and
will not levy taxes for imported and exported goods purchased
with hard currency. Certain categories of goods in short supply--such
as food products, lumber, cement, liquor, tobacco and bearskins--would
still be subject to quotas regardless of the method of payment.
The new regulations will take effect as soon as Prime Minister
Savisaar signs the order, Paevaleht said. (Riina Kionka)


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