|We are all apt to believe what the world believes about us. - George Eliot|
No. 209, 04 November 1991
USSR--ALL-UNION TOPICS AND RSFSR USSR STATE COUNCIL TO DISCUSS ECONOMIC AGREEMENTS. The meeting of the USSR State Council scheduled for November 4 will discuss the packet of agreements envisaged in the treaty on an economic community, Gorbachev press spokesman Andrei Grachev said November 2 according to TASS. It will also discuss the formation of the structures of the Interstate Economic Committee (IEC), as well as the structure of the USSR armed forces, the MVD, procuracy, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Grachev made no mention of any discussion of the Union treaty. The Council of the heads of government of the member states of the economic community discussed the structure of the IEC on November 1, TASS reported the same day. Ivan Silaev was recommended for the post of chairman. (Ann Sheehy) 80 MINISTRIES AND DEPARTMENTS TO STOP WORKING NOVEMBER 15. The council of the heads of government of the member states of the economic community decided at their meeting on November 1 that about 80 Union ministries and departments should cease their legal existence from November 15, TASS reported November 1. This is linked with the proposed structure of the IEC, which will only embrace such spheres as foreign affairs, internal affairs, culture, railways, energy, atomic energy, and customs. It was recommended, however, that until all 19 agreements envisaged in the treaty on an economic community were agreed, joint organs of management should be retained in certain areas. (Ann Sheehy) GORBACHEV ON NEW UNION. In an interview with Moskovskie novosti, Mikhail Gorbachev said the new Union would possibly be partly federative, partly confederative, and in other respects associative. He said a coordinating center was necessary. Gorbachev described as "the most dangerous Utopia" the opinion of a number of Russian politicians that Russia should also set out on its own. (Ann Sheehy) MORE ON THE CPSU'S ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES. Former Deputy General Secretary of the CPSU, Vladimir Ivashko, wrote an instruction to Party committees last year explaining the need for the CPSU to set up private businesses, joint ventures and banks. "TSN" said October 31, that the leadership of the CPSU was to control these undertakings. Not all the details of what the CPSU had achieved in this sphere since 1990 are yet known. "TSN" pointed out, however, that the CPSU's commercial activities are currently under investigation. (Vera Tolz) TOURIST RATE OF EXCHANGE CUT. On November 2 Izvestia published an announcement by the USSR Gosbank that the tourist rate of exchange will go from 32 rubles to the US dollar to 47 rubles to the dollar as of November 4. There was no mention of changing the commercial rate of exchange--currently 1.8 rubles to the dollar--for foreign business transactions with Soviet enterprises. (Carla Thorson) NO AGREEMENT ON REPAYING FOREIGN DEBT. TASS and Interfax of October 31 quote Russian Presidential Adviser Sergei Stankevich as saying that the 12 republics have not yet reached final agreement on repaying the USSR's foreign debt. Stankevich said that the republics still have to work out a payment mechanism, and called earlier reports of an accord on the subject "very uncertain." The republican heads of government are scheduled to meet in Kiev on November 9 to discuss the repayment question. The date was set during a November 1 meeting of the eight republics that make up the Interstate Economic Committee, according to TASS and Interfax of that date. (Keith Bush) "WHERE'S PANKIN?" Interfax (November 1) carried remarks from a "well-placed" Soviet Foreign Ministry staffer on frustration and dissatisfaction with Foreign Minister Boris Pankin within the MFA. Staffers were bewildered that Pankin spent so much time at the Madrid peace talks "while the destiny of the USSR Foreign Ministry is being decided in Moscow," Interfax said. The diplomat said that the fate of the MFA will be determined at a sitting of the USSR Council of State on November4, but Pankin returned to Moscow only on November 3--too late to do anything to save the MFA. According to the MFA staffer: "The USSR Foreign Ministry will pay dearly for the minister's inactivity." (Suzanne Crow) ARMS SHIPMENTS TO AFGHANISTAN? Interfax reported November 1 that "authoritative sources in the USSR" claim the USSR is still supplying weapons to Kabul. Interfax said the USSR is acting on the assumption that the US-Soviet agreements on halting arms shipments take effect January 1, 1992. (Suzanne Crow) RSFSR CONGRESS ENDORSES YELTSIN'S REFORM PLAN. The RSFSR Congress of People's Deputies approved RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin's radical reform plan by a huge majority of votes, TASS reported on November 2. The Russian legislatures agreed to hand over additional power to Yeltsin although it diminishes their own political influence. Yeltsin has now received a greenlight to take over the RSFSR government as premier, conduct massive privatization and free prizes by the end of this year. Yeltsin's position was also strengthened by the constitutional amendments adopted by the RSFSR Congress. (Alexander Rahr) YELTSIN'S NEW RSFSR GOVERNMENT. Boris Yeltsin announced that he will shut down 70 all-union ministries next month, according to TASS October 31. The RSFSR government will also be reduced by 50%. It will consist of 5 sections with 6-7 ministries, each section headed by a deputy prime minister. A first deputy prime minister will supervise the leaders of the blocs. Yeltsin reportedly decided to appoint to that post Yurii Skokov--a representative of the military-industrail complex. Yeltsin himself will take over as RSFSR Prime Minister. Several political parties in the RSFSR have agreed to sign a declaration in support of Yeltsin's reform program, TASS reported on November 1. (Alexander Rahr) YELTSIN DISCUSSES DRAFT RSFSR CONSTITUTION. On November 2, Russian President Boris Yeltsin told the RSFSR Congress of People's Deputies that the newly drafted constitution contains "firm legal guarantees against totalitarianism, ideological control and violence as a state policy," TASS reported that day. He said the new constitution would create a federal system with a strong executive branch and an independent judiciary and legislature. Despite assurances that the new constitution would let regions retain their autonomous status, many deputies from regions demanding greater self-rule voiced strong opposition to the draft. The draft was referred to the RSFSR Supreme Soviet and constitutional commission which will report back to the Congress in March and April 1992. (Carla Thorson) DEPUTY CHAIRMEN OF RSFSR SUPSOV ELECTED. The RSFSR Congress of People's Deputies has elected the former Secretary of the Presidium of the Russian parliament, Sergei Filatov, as first deputy chairman of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet. It also elected Yurii Yarov, Vladimir Shumeyko and Yurii Voronin as deputy chairmen with special duties for work with local constituencies, economic reform and control over the implementation of parliamentary decisions, respectively. All deputies of RSFSR Supreme Soviet chairman Ruslan Khasbulatov are Russians and were elected by a significant majority of votes, TASS reported on November 1. (Alexander Rahr) SOBCHAK SAYS USSR PRESIDENCY WILL BE ABOLISHED. St. Petersburg Mayor Anatolii Sobchak supported Yeltsin's reform package. He said that he may consider drastic measures to solve the crisis in St. Petersburg by prohibiting organizations and citizens to take food products out of the city without special licenses, according to TASS October 31. Sobchak, who has become one of the principal defenders of the Union in the aftermath of the putsch, told Interfax that day that he will not run for the post of USSR president because he has obtained information that this post "will soon be abolished." (Alexander Rahr) YELTSIN ON PRICES. In interviews with TASS and Interfax on October 31, RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin qualified his statement of October 28 with regard to producer and retail prices. Whereas he had earlier suggested that all prices would be freed, he is now quoted as saying that the prices of some items, including those of coal, oil, gas, fuel, milk, bread, salt, baby food, and vodka would continue to be regulated. This does not, of course, rule out price increases. Yeltsin further said that a decree on the liberalization of prices is ready and will be issued without warning to avoid panic buying. However, he had promised on October 28 to raise certain salaries one month before any price increases. (Keith Bush) RSFSR CPD VOTES AGAINST LAND SALE CLAUSE. On October 31, the RSFSR Congress of People's Deputies voted down an amendment, proposed by President Yeltsin, that would have repealed a constitutional clause restricting the right to sell land, Interfax reported November 1. The clause imposes a 10-year moratorium on the resale or purchase of land. Yeltsin is expected to try to reverse this decision when he presents a package of amendments to the law on land reform. (Keith Bush) PAPER EDITOR CONCERNED OVER SUPPRESSION OF PRESS FREEDOM. Vitalii Tret'yakov, chief editor of the independent newspaper, Nezavisimaya gazeta, told Christian Science Monitor on October 31 that he was concerned over attempts by the RSFSR leadership to suppress the freedom of the press. Tretyakov said that his newspaper as well as Moscow News recently received warnings from the RSFSR Ministry of the Press that stated that the papers violated the law on the press. Tret'yakov said he was reprimanded for an interview with Ukrainian deputy prime minister Konstantin Masik, in which the RSFSR Ministry saw signs of war propaganda. Tret'yakov rejected accusations as false and said the ministry questioned the interview solely because it contained criticism of the policies of Yeltsin's government. "Vesti," TASS and Pravda (November1) also reported on the controversy. (Vera Tolz) KRYUCHKOV'S INMATE MADE DISCLOSURE TO "IZVESTIA." Izvestia (November 1) published an exclusive interview with an anonymous inmate who shared a cell with former KGB Chairman Vladimir Kryuchkov at the MVD investigation prison. The inmate said Kryuchkov spends his time doing physical exercises and reading press reports about the coup. Izvestia offers rather a positive portrait of the KGB Chairman. Meanwhile, Sovetskaya Rossia, (October 26) published a letter from Kryuchkov's wife Ekatherina which said that her husband was moved not by personal ambitions, but by the state's interests. (Victor Yasmann) STEPANKOV CONFIRMS SALE OF INVESTIGATION INFORMATION. RSFSR Prosecutor General Valentin Stepankov confirmed to Radio Moscow (November 2) that he and his officers have charged "three or four Western television companies" for interviews about the coup investigation. He insisted however that the interviews were proprietary information, and that the total sum, which did not exceed $3,000, was handed over to the Procuracy treasury. Stepankov also said that the video tapes of the coup investigation which were leaked to German magazine Spiegel were copied by insiders. He speculated that there might be a vendetta on the part of some 60 KGB generals dismissed from the agency after the coup which they are perpetrating through their old agents' network, he added. (Victor Yasmann) US CHRISTIAN RELIGIOUS LEADERS RECEIVED BY KGB. The task of determining who is posing a real danger to the state is more difficult than restructuring state security organs, First Deputy Chairman of the KGB Nikolai Stolyarov said at a meeting with US religious leaders at KGB headquarters. According to TASS (October 30), Stolyarov said that believers will be permitted to work in the reformed KGB. (Victor Yasmann) PATRIARCH ALEKSII II CRITICIZED POPE. The Daily Telegraph reported on October 31 that Patriarch Aleksii II told a press-conference at Lambeth Palace in London on October 30 that the Pope is not welcome to visit Russia. The Patriarch launched a "bitter attack" on the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church, the newspaper said. (Oxana Antic) SITUATION IN CHECHENO-INGUSHETIA. The stand-off between the two opposing forces in Checheno-Ingushetia continues, according to Soviet media reports November 1-3. The newly-elected parliament of the self-styled Chechen republic met November 2. Repeat elections for 8 of the 41 seats are to be held November 12. Meanwhile the Provisional Supreme Council, recognized by the RSFSR as the sole constitutional authority, is going ahead with preparations for parliamentary elections on November 17. According to RIA, in Groznyi and other towns self-defence units are being formed to oppose rebel ex-general Dzhakhar Dudaev's national guard. (Ann Sheehy) USSR--OTHER REPUBLICS KRAVCHUK ON UKRAINIAN ARMY. Ukrainian Supreme Soviet Chairman Leonid Kravchuk met on October 31 with representatives of the Kiev garrison and the command of the Kiev Military District. As reported by Radio Moscow and by the Ukrainian service of Radio Liberty on November 1 and 2, Kravchuk devoted much of his time to discussing plans for the future armed forces of Ukraine, telling his audience that a Ukrainian army must come into being. He stressed, however, that strategic arms should remain under a single, unified command. (Kathy Mihalisko) SHAPOSHNIKOV ON THE SAME. Meanwhile, USSR Defense Minister Evgenii Shaposhnikov expressed opposition to Ukraine's recent moves to place military units on its territory under republican jurisdiction, pointing out that such efforts go against Soviet law. Shaposhnikov said he saw no reason to withdraw military units from Ukraine. Instead, a collective defense concept should be devised in the near future. His comments appeared in Moskovskie novosti and were quoted on November 3 by Radio Moscow. (Kathy Mihalisko) OFFICERS FOR A UKRAINIAN ARMY. . . 700 delegates took part in the Second Congress of the independent Union of Officers of Ukraine, held on November 2-3. The Ukrainian service of Radio Liberty learned that the congress was addressed by Defense Minister Konstantin Morozov. The organization, which now counts more than 10,000 members, has been active in the movement to establish a Ukrainian army. Its first congress, held on July 28, was attended by only six officers, but mem-bership as well as political clout have grown rapidly since the attempted August coup. (Kathy Mihalisko) . . . AND AGAINST. Another independent association of officers was launched on November 1 in Vinnitsa, as reported that day by Ukrinform-TASS. This, however, appears to be the "military interfront" that Colonel Vilen Matirossian, chairman of the Union of Officers of Ukraine, warned about in a speech to a recent conference in Kiev on security issues, and which he described as a "dangerous" development. Vinnitsa is home to one of three Air Armies on Soviet territory. (Kathy Mihalisko) KRAVCHUK IN TROUBLE OVER REPUBLICAN GUARD? Leonid Kravchuk has reportedly received a letter from the USSR Ministry of the Interior condemning his parliament's decision to set up a national guard as "unconstitutional" and informing him that the issue will be raised at the next meeting of the USSR State Council. According to the same source in a November 2 report to the Ukrainian service of Radio Liberty, as of November1 the USSR MVD cut off funding to its forces in Ukraine to protest the decision to form a Ukrainian national guard on the basis of existing MVD troops. (Kathy Mihalisko) CONFEDERATION OF MOUNTAIN PEOPLES OF CAUCASUS PROCLAIMED. The third congress of the mountain peoples of the Caucasus in Sukhumi on November 3 ratified a treaty on a confederative union of the mountain peoples and the statute on the confederation's leading organs, "Vesti" reported November 3. (Ann Sheehy) UZBEKISTAN NATIONALIZES GOLD MINES. AKzyl-Kum state concern for valuable and rare metals has been set up in Uzbekistan, Moscow radio reported November 3, citing RIA. In future, gold mined in Uzbekistan, which has one of the richest gold mines in the Soviet Union, will go into the republic's gold reserves. (Ann Sheehy) MOLDAVIA DISAPPOINTED WITH WESTERN INACTION ON RECOGNITION. Receiving an unofficial Belgian delegation in Kishinev November1, Moldavian Parliament chairman Alexandru Mosanu was cited by Moldovapres that day as commenting that "unfortunately the Western states have not paid us the attention we thought we deserved. We hope that they will change their policy toward Moldavia . . .. For the time being, democratic states . . . continue to believe that they still need Moscow's approval to establish relations with the independent Republic of Moldavia." (Vladimir Socor) MOLDAVIA BACKING OUT OF THE ECONOMIC COMMUNITY TREATY. Moldavian First Vice Prime Minister and Economics Minister Constantin Tampiza told AFP November 1 (as cited by Moldovapres) that Moldavia intends to cancel her initial adherence to the Treaty on the Economic Community of Sovereign States. Since President Mircea Snegur initialled the treaty in Alma-Ata on behalf of Moldavia, the republic's leadership has expressed growing concern over treaty changes which Kishinev views as designed to involve the signatory republics in a political union. Moreover, Tampiza reiterated Kishinev's apprehension that the RSFSR was preparing to use the economic community in order to substitute itself to the former center. (Vladimir Socor) BALTIC STATES MASSIVE INCREASES IN FUEL PRICES FROM RSFSR. On October 31 BALTFAX reported Lithuanian Deputy Economics Minister Vytas Navickas's statement that prices of oil, gas, and coal purchased from the RSFSR will increase almost 100 times starting on January 1. Navickas said that in return Lithuania has offered a list of 26 goods for hard currency, mostly machinery, engineering products, and electrical equipment. The RSFSR now supplies Lithuania with goods worth about $3.6 billion, but the imports will be sharply reduced. (Saulius Girnius) ANOTHER DEMAND FOR WITHDRAWAL OF SOVIET TROOPS. On November 3 the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry sent a letter to the USSR Foreign Ministry demanding the immediate withdrawal of Soviet troops from its territory, TASS reported that day. The letter said that Lithuania regards the withdrawal of the troops as the key element in Soviet-Lithuanian relations and that the withdrawal "will help create good-neighborly relations" between the two states. (Saulius Girnius) VAGNORIUS CONCLUDES US VISIT. On November 3 Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius ended a week long visit to the US in Chicago where he attended the congress of VLIKas (Supreme Committee for the Liberation of Lithuania). The congress voted to end its activities since Lithuania has regained its independence. The organization expects to end this process by July 1, 1992, but the transfer of funds from the National Fund to Lithuania will be decided separately, the RFE Lithuanian Service reported November 4. During his three-day visit in Chicago Vagnorius also held talks with the Lithuanian American Community. (Saulius Girnius) ESTONIA TIGHTENS UP ON BORDER. Last week, Estonia border authorities began controlling documents of travelers arriving at the harbor and airport, Paevaleht reported on November 2. The move is part of a new program--already approved by the government and scheduled for debate in the Supreme Council starting November 4--to halt Estonia's escalating crime rate by tightening up on border traffic. If the program is approved, Estonia's authorities will begin checking individual travelers--rather than vehicles and cargo--at all frontiers, especially at the porous eastern border, where much drug and other illicit traffic passes into Estonia. (Riina Kionka) RUUTEL, YELTSIN ON BOUNDARIES AND ETHNIC RIGHTS. Chairman of Estonia's Supreme Council Arnold Ruutel and RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin discussed territorial matters at their latest meeting on November 1, BNS reported the next day. After the meeting, Ruutel told reporters that any future RSFSR-Estonian border must take into account the many Finno-Ugric ethnic minorities affected by the frontier, including the Estonian, Setu, Votic, Inger and Izhorian peoples. Ruutel said he reminded Yeltsin that while neither the 1920 nor the 1945 border corresponded to ethnic boundaries, Soviet Russia had agreed under the conditions of the 1920 Tartu Peace Treaty to protect the interests of the last three named ethnic groups. (Riina Kionka) PARATROOPERS LEAVING ESTONIA. Paratroopers based in Voru and Viljandi in southern Estonia will be moved out beginning November 3, according to the previous day's Paevaleht, quoting Krasnaya Zvesda. (Riina Kionka) INQUIRING MINDS NEED TO KNOW. . . Another newspaper catering to Russian-speakers is available at Estonia's newsstands starting October 31, Paevaleht reported the day before. Den za Dnyom, a color weekly offering information, ads and classifieds, should help fill the need for a high quality Russian-language press in Estonia. Last week, Minister for Transportation and Communication Tiit Vahi called for broadcast of Russian-language programs on Estonian TV, suggesting that Den za Dnyom is an idea whose time has come. (Riina Kionka) . . . AND HEAR. On November 4, RFE/RL launched local broadcast of its popular Country and World program--and two other shows--on Estonian Radio. Estonia is the first place in the former Soviet Union that any RFE/RL Russian language broadcasts will be aired. Last month, RFE/RL began local broadcast of its Estonian and Lithuanian programs, with Latvian broadcasts due to begin by next year. (Riina Kionka)
write to us
with your comments and suggestions.