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No. 211, 06 November 1991
USSR-ALL-UNION TOPICS AND RSFSR TRUBIN HALTS TREASON PROCEEDINGS AGAINST GORBACHEV. The Western press reported November 6 that USSR Prosecutor General Nikolai Trubin repealed the order to open treason proceedings against Mikhail Gorbachev in connection with the granting of independence to the Baltic States. Trubin dismissed the order as "a legally invalid manifestation of political extremism." The order had been issued by Viktor Ilyukhin, USSR state prosecutor with responsibility for state security matters, reported Pravda in an article released on November 5, in advance of its publication on November 6. Ilyukhin said that Gorbachev had failed to uphold the USSR Constitution and violated his obligation to defend USSR's sovereignty and territorial integrity. (Dzintra Bungs) RATION COUPONS IN MOSCOW. In response to shortages and some panic buying, Moscow Mayor Gavriil Popov announced November 5 on Soviet television that ration coupons will be issued beginning December 1 for bread, sausage, butter, cooking oil and eggs, Western agencies reported November 6. Popov did not say exactly how much of the rationed goods Moscow residents would be able to purchase, but he did say these goods would be offered at subsidized prices. The Moscow City government had already decided to limit bread sales to 2 kilograms per person per day because of shortages in certain parts of the city; vodka, sugar, and cigarettes are already rationed in Moscow. (Carla Thorson) AGREEMENT REACHED ON FOOD SUPPLIES. Representatives of twelve of the former USSR republics reached agreement November 5 designed to maintain food supply flows in 1992. Reported by Moscow Radio the same day, the agreement "recognizes the necessity of forming a unified market for food products as an important part of the economic space." The agreement gives the Interrepublican Economic Committee the right to conclude agreements with foreign partners on credits for and supplies of food. The Baltic states did not participate in the agreement.(John Tedstrom) HARD CURRENCY DEFICIT TO REACH $1BILLION IN NOVEMBER. According to a top official of the Bank for Foreign Economic Activity, the hard currency deficit of the USSR will reach "at least $1 billion" in November. TASS of November 5 quotes the deputy chair of the bank's board, Anatolii Nosko, as saying that export income for November will total about 1.1 billion foreign trade rubles, which will just cover the payments on existing debt. Nosko added that it was possible that the USSR could "fall short of convertible currency to repay its foreign debt," as early as mid-November. Representatives of Western countries are meeting in Paris November 6 to discuss the potential liquidity crisis. (John Tedstrom) FURTHER FINANCIAL NOTES. TASS on November 5 also quoted Anatolii Nosko as saying that the members of the Committee for Operational Management of the Economy will take up the question of hard currency earnings and the foreign debt on November 9. The television news program "Vesti" of November 5, quoted RSFSR minister for foreign economic relations Gennadii Fil'shin as saying that the RSFSR intends to cover some 61% of the USSR's foreign debt. Eleven of the 12 former republics are set to sign an agreement on the USSR's foreign debt, but Fil'shin said that if they couldn't find a common language, the RSFSR would repay the whole debt. That would no doubt imply serious economic repercussions for uncooperative republics. (John Tedstrom) RECURRING QUESTIONS OVER GOLD. At the November 9 meeting the question of the USSR's gold reserves will also be examined. According to TASS November 5, the Gosbank's Nosko said that the figure currently being tossed around in Moscow--some 240 tons--"does not correspond to reality." (John Tedstrom) RUBLE REACHES NEW LOW. RIA reported November 5 that the ruble had reached a level of 110 to the dollar that day. That figure is a record low for the ruble. Achieved in the course of trading on the USSR Gosbank's currency exchange, the figure might give a hint as to where the ruble might go if totally freed, as currently planned by the Yeltsin team. Several "official" RSFSR, economists predicted in Izvestia of November 5 that prices would rise in the RSFSR by 3-4 times once the planned liberalization of prices takes place. The economists also said that such a liberalization would not take place before January 1992. Among the economists were Grigorii Yavlinsky, RSFSR Economics Minister Evgenii Saburov, and Yeltsin's economic advisor Yurii Skokov. (John Tedstrom) GERMANY BUDGES ON DEBT. Deutsche Bank President Hilmar Kopper was quoted by a Western agency November 4 as saying "if an attempt is made to introduce a moratorium on payments of the [USSR's] external debt, then this country may be expelled from the world market economy." However, a postponement of interest payments on the USSR's $70 billion debt is acceptable, Kopper said. (Suzanne Crow) "MINISTRY OF EXTERNAL RELATIONS." On November 5, USSR Foreign Minister Boris Pankin expanded on plans for 30% personnel cuts at the Foreign Ministry saying specific numbers of cuts of the 3,500-strong staff would be discussed at the November 14 meeting of the USSR State Council. Pankin said the November 4 meeting of the USSR State Council yielded a new name for the Foreign Ministry -- the Ministry of External Relations (Ministerstvo Vneshnykh Snosheniy), TASS reported November 5. Pankin presented the results of the State Council meeting to the Collegium of the erst-while Foreign Ministry on November 4 and at the fifth sitting of the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs for the USSR and Sovereign Republics on November 5, TASS reported November 4 and 5. (Suzanne Crow) INTERNATIONAL DEPARTMENT TO SURVIVE? The two agencies responsible for the Soviet Union's ties with international terrorists--the CPSU Central Committee's International Department and the First Chief Directorate of the KGB--"are in effect being united under a new label: the Central Intelligence Service" under the leadership of Yevgenii Primakov, according to an article penned by ID veteran Evgueni Novikov in the European edition of the Wall Street Journal on November 5. Novikov, who defected to the United States in 1988, said that despite the fact that the dismantling of Soviet terrorist training network is long overdue, "I will be surprised if it happens either voluntarily or soon." (Suzanne Crow) SHAPOSHNIKOV ON BASES. In a November 5 Interfax interview Soviet Defense Minister Evgenii Shaposhnikov said the timing of the Soviet withdrawal from Cuba "is first and foremost Cuba's concern." He added: "our protracted military presence in various countries has brought us nothing except economic damage." (Suzanne Crow) NAVY DENIES NEW BASE, DISCUSSES FLEET. TASS reported November 5 Deputy Chief Commander of the Soviet Navy Ivan Kapitanets' denial that the Navy planned a new Black Sea base (see Daily Report, November 4). Meanwhile, Admiral Vladimir Chernavin, Commander in Chief of the USSR Navy, said at the start of his official visit to the United States (November 4) his navy has cut more than 200 battleships over the last three years in an effort to achieve a smaller fleet with more modern equipment, Radio Rossii reported November 4. (Suzanne Crow) COUNCIL OF DEFENSE MINISTERS OF SOVEREIGN STATES CREATED. The USSR State Council has set up a Council of Defense Ministers of Sovereign States to coordinate military policy on the territory of the former Soviet Union, "Vesti" reported November 5. The Council is scheduled to meet once a month in one of the capitals of the republics. USSR Defense Minister Evgenii Shaposhnikov said the USSR State Council rejected republican claims for separate armies but agreed to hand over all civil defense and DOSAAF functions, as well as military chairs at institutes and universities to the republics for a "transitional period." He said republics could have their own national guards. (Alexander Rahr) PRAVDA ON SECURITY. According to a Pravda analysis of October 28, confrontation in Europe is made less likely by the existence of predominantly single-nation states with common historical andcultural traditions and comparable levels of economic development. The same cannot be said of the USSR, however, the report says. International law can be instrumental in solving conflicts between states, but not between nations. The artificial unification of mankind in the face of global threats is also no solution, remarked Pravda. (Victor Yasmann) MOSCOW NEWS ON DEMOCRATIC TRENDS IN KGB. Moskovskie novosti (No. 43) concluded the KGB is "not as terrible as we imagined" in its report on an opinion poll conducted by the KGB among its officers prior to the August coup attempt. According to the poll, KGB officers were opposed to action against certain extreme political organizations such as the nationalist "Pamyat" or the radical "Democratic Union." MN remarked that had former Chairman Vladimir Kryuchkov seen the results of the poll, he would have realized his coup attempt was doomed to failure because the survey showed the overwhelming majority of officers would not carry out orders against democrats. Perhaps more significant than the poll's findings is the recent seachange in the attitude of MN toward the KGB. (Victor Yasmann) NIKOLAI SHMELEV ON NEP AND DZERZHINSKY. Economist Nikolai Shmelev told Russian TV November 2 that the only positive example of price liberalization in the USSR can be found in the transition to the market economy during the NEP ("New Economic Policy") period in 1922. Then within a year of the NEP's introduction, the market was flooded with goods. Shmelev pointed out that prices went down even further owing to draconian measures introduced by Feliks Dzerzhinsky (who was both the Chairman of the OGPU and the Higher Council of National Economy). Such a comment would suggest that Shmelev might lean toward the introduction of "neobol'shevist" tactics as a way of making a transition to a market economy. (Victor Yasmann) LIGACHEV EXPOSES "GORBACHEV MYSTERY." Knizhnoe obozrenie No. 42 announced the publication of Egor Ligachev's book, The Tbilisi Affair: Chapters from the Book: The Gorbachev Mystery. Although as Party chief ideologist Ligachev had opposed setting up independent publishing houses, his book has been published by a cooperative named "Kodeks," with the print-run of 250,000 copies. (Julia Wishnevsky) RSFSR TO LIBERALIZE FOREIGN TRADE. TASS reported November 5 the RSFSR government has issued draft legislation liberalizing foreign trade rules and regulations on its territory. The draft law provides for a convertible ruble that would replace all fixed exchange rates and a removal of restrictions on hard currency accounts. A simplification of import and export taxes is also included in the law. The law--which is scheduled to be on Yeltsin's desk for signing in the next few days--is aimed at increasing the potential for foreign trade and investment. Key questions remain such as how much a freely traded ruble will be devalued and how that will in turn affect internal prices. The draft law appears in the November 5 Nezavisimaya gazeta. (John Tedstrom) YELTSIN PREPARED TO COUNTER SOCIAL UNREST. Yurii Petrov, head of the RSFSR Presidential Administration, told TASS on November 5 that Yeltsin is prepared to counter social unrest in Russia. A presidential food reserve has been set up for supplying the major industrial centers and an information service has been created under Petrov to monitor the effects of Yeltsin's radical reform program. The information service will, if necessary, provide proposals for adjusting the situation if social tensions occur. Petrov denied that there is friction within Yeltsin's team. (Alexander Rahr) BURBULIS INTERVIEWED. RSFSR State Secretary Gennadii Burbulis said in an interview with Der Spiegel on November 4 that the liberalization of prices in Russia will start on January 1 or February 1. He expressed the hope that trade unions and political parties will form a bloc to support radical reform. He stressed that there is no time to adopt laws to regulate the transition to democracy and market economy. Asked about the crisis in Checheno-Ingushetia, Burbulis responded that there can't be dozens of states on Russia's territory but added that the Russian leadership will not forcefully intervene. (Alexander Rahr) BURBULIS CAUTIOUS ON LIBERALIZATION OF PRICES. In an earlier statement, Burbulis had criticized Yeltsin's decision to liberalize prices. The Financial Times on November 2 quoted him as saying that Russia "can't free prices until at least some kind of dynamism in basic privatization is achieved." According to Burbulis, in conditions of economic monopoly, freeing prices will not lead to real competition between producers. Burbulis was criticized in the latest issue of Novoe vremya (no. 43) for overstepping his authority as head of a State Council which had been created to consult with the President, not to interfere in practical politics. (Alexander Rahr) NEXT MEETING OF STATE COUNCIL TO DISCUSS UNION TREATY. Gorbachev's press spokesman Andrei Grachev said November 5 that the draft Union treaty would be one of the main topics at the next meeting of the USSR State Council on November 14, TASS reported November5. Izvestia, commenting on the meeting of the State Council on November 4, said that everything had been discussed in direct connection with the Union treaty, the need for which was being felt more and more by the sovereign states. Izvestia, which was cited by TASS November 5 as saying the next meeting of the State Council would be in Alma-Ata on November 12, said political barriers were holding up the solution of economic problems. (Ann Sheehy) DEVELOPMENTS IN CHECHENO-INGUSHETIA. On November 5 the newly-elected parliament of the self-styled Chechen republic ratified the president's decree on the state sovereignty of the republic, declared Chechen and Russian the state languages, and banned the activities of the Provisional Supreme Council recognized by the RSFSR, Moscow Radio reported November 5. The same day a grand assembly of citizens in Ingushetia decided to hold parliamentary and presidential elections on December 22, "Vesti" reported November 5. The Rostov newspaper Utro published November 5 an appeal for support to the people of the Don from the Groznyi section of the Terek Cossacks, Moscow radio reported November 5. (Ann Sheehy) COMPLAINT ABOUT GAMSAHKURDIA'S INTERFERENCE IN CHECHENO-INGUSHETIA. The Committee for the Preservation of the Unity of the Chechen-Ingush Republic, which is headed by Akhmed Arsanov, Yeltsin's representative in the republic, has sent an appeal to the people and democratic parties and movements of Georgia saying interference by Georgian president Zviad Gamsakhurdia and his emissaries in the internal affairs of Checheno-Ingushetia is leading to dissension and must be stopped, TASS reported November 5. Rebel ex-General Dzhakhar Dudaev enlisted Gamsakhurdia's support last spring, and Gamsakhurdia was one of the first to congratulate Dudaev on his election. (Ann Sheehy) SOVEREIGNTY ASPIRATIONS OF KORYAKS AROUSE OPPOSITION. A session of the Koryak okrug soviet has decided that the Koryak autonomous okrug should secede from Kamchatka Oblast and be a republic in the RSFSR, Moscow radio reported November 3. The decision is said to have provoked an ambivalent reaction from the inhabitants of the peninsula. (Ann Sheehy) CHUKCHI FACE SIMILAR OPPOSITION FROM MAGADAN OBLAST. Radio Mayak reported November 4 that relations between Magadan Oblast and the Chukchi autonomous okrug had deteriorated sharply after the Chukchi okrug soviet had refused to hold a referendum on whether or not the okrug should secede from Magadan Oblast and become the sovereign Chukchi republic. The Chukchi authorities accused Magadan of infringing on their sovereign rights, while Magadan accused the Chukchi authorities of nationalism, saying that they were ignoring the opinion of the Russian-speaking majority. In 1989 Chukchi constituted only 7% of the population. (Ann Sheehy) USSR-OTHER REPUBLICS LAW ON POLITICAL PARTIES SUSPENDED IN GEORGIA. At the request of the procurator's office, the Georgian Supreme Soviet on November 5 temporarily suspended the law on political parties (adopted August 10), TASS said November 5. TASS commented that this in effect meant the end of democracy in Georgia. Factions representing the parliamentary minority did not take part in the vote. (Ann Sheehy) ARMENIA SAYS GAS PIPELINE, TRANSPORT BLOCKED AGAIN. In a message to Gorbachev, Yeltsin, Nazarbaev, and the heads of other republics on November 5, Armenian president Levon Ter-Petrosyan and acting premier Grant Bagratyan said that Azerbaijani military forces were concentrating around Armenian borders and Nagorno-Karabakh, TASS reported November 5. The message said Azerbaijan had that day blocked a gas pipeline, as well as roads and railways serving Armenia, moves that were "obviously" a prelude to military action. Another TASS report of November 5 said the gas supply had been cut by members of the Azerbaijan Popular Front. (Ann Sheehy) UKRAINIAN SUPREME SOVIET DISCUSSES ECONOMIC TREATY. Reports that Chairman of the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet Leonid Kravchuk and Prime Minister Vitol'd Fokin support Ukraine's adherence to the economic treaty caused an uproar in the Ukrainian parliament yesterday, Radio Kiev and Radio Moscow reported November 5. As a result, it was decided to examine the question in the appropriate parliamentary commissions and discuss it at today's session of the Supreme Soviet. (Roman Solchanyk) POLES IN UKRAINE SUPPORT INDEPENDENCE. The second congress of the Union of Poles in Ukraine adopted a statement calling upon the population of Ukraine to support Ukrainian independence in the December 1 referendum, Radio Kiev reported November 5. (Roman Solchanyk) UKRAINIANS IN MOLDAVIA HOLD CONFERENCE. The Society for Ukrainian Culture in Moldavia, which seeks to halt the russification of Ukrainians and revive their language and culture, held its first republic-wide conference November 2 in Kishinev, Moldovapres reported that day. The conference discussed the Society's activities and also urged Ukrainians not to heed the would-be "Dniester SSR" leaders' calls to boycott Moldavia's coming presidential elections. The present Moldavian government, reversing the policy of its communist predecessors, has undertaken to create and subsidize Ukrainian cultural and educational institutions in Moldavia. Ukrainians are the largest non-titular ethnic community, forming 14% of Moldavia's population. (Vladimir Socor) MOLDAVIA ARRESTS MEMBERS OF LATVIA'S FORMER OMON. Two members of the former OMON unit in Latvia were arrested in Moldavia by the republican police with assistance from Latvian authorities, Moldavia's Ministry of Internal Affairs announced in a communique released through Moldovapres November 3. The pair, who are ethnic Russians, confessed upon arrest that they and eight other members of their former unit had arrived in Moldavia in order to serve as instructors of the paramilitary units of the would-be "Dniester SSR" formed by Russian communists in eastern Moldavia. The other eight are also charged with crimes in Latvia. (Vladimir Socor) ARRESTED OMON MEMBERS TAKEN TO LATVIA. Diena reported on November 4 that two OMON members, Igor Nikiforov and Vladimir Kozhavin, were flown to Riga from Tiraspol, Moldavia, where they had been arrested. Nikiforov is accused of armed robbery at the Dom Square in Riga on February 16, while Kozhevin is accused of shooting at guests in a Riga cafe while being drunk on July 16, 1991. Diena also reported that the Latvian authorities are continuing their search in Leningrad, Moscow, and Tashkent for other OMON members thought to have committed crimes in Latvia. (Dzintra Bungs) MOLDAVIA HESITATES OVER ECONOMIC COMMUNITY TREATY. Moldavian President Mircea Snegur warned on republican television November 4, as cited by TASS November 5, that the economic community treaty "could become a political trap to restore the Soviet empire," and accused the RSFSR of putting pressure on Moldavia to sign the treaty. On November 5, however, Snegur was cited by TASS as indicating that Moldavia will sign but was taking its time to indicate opposition to "certain central authorities who want to give the treaty a political dimension." Moldavia does not recognize the authority of the USSR State Council and would only take part in the inter-republican economic committee, Snegur was cited as saying. (Vladimir Socor) MORE ON MOLDAVIAN QUANDARY. Also on November 5, Moldavian Prime Minister Valeriu Muravschi told a government meeting in Kishinev that Moldavia will sign the economic community treaty after "certain objections" it has are "taken up" in further consultations shortly due among the republics, TASS reported that day. Some of those objections are known to refer to modifications and additions to the original document which Snegur initialled in Alma-Ata, particularly Moldavia's role in the food and debt reimbursement programs and political dimensions imparted by the economic treaty. Rejecting participation in any union structure and any form of association with the center, Moldavia is presently torn between those objections and its need for Russian fuels and raw materials. (Vladimir Socor) BALTIC STATES LATVIA ADOPTS LAW ON FOREIGN INVESTMENTS. Radio Riga reported on November 5 that earlier that day the Latvian Supreme Council had adopted a law on foreign investments. Intended to foster and regulate investments from abroad, the legislation stipulates protection of such investments by the Republic of Latvia and tax breaks on profits. The law specifies areas where foreign investment are most welcome and where investments would be restricted. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIA CLAIMS PROPERTY OCCUPIED BY SOVIET ARMY. On November 5 the Latvian Supreme Council adopted a decision laying claim to all property occupied by USSR armed forces, border guards, and Interior Ministry troops and invalidating any commercial transactions involving such property that took place after August 24, 1991, reported BNS that day. According to Deputy Talavs Jundzis, the Soviet armed forces occupy 234 plots of land (over 100,000 hectares) all over Latvia, except in the Ludza raion. During the past five years, some 10,700 apartments have been constructed for army use. The Soviet armed forces have not been making any payments for the use of property or housing in Latvia. (Dzintra Bungs) BUILDINGS IN LATVIA TO BE RETURNED TO OWNERS. Radio Riga reported on October 30 that earlier that day the Latvian Supreme Council adopted two laws: one deals with the denationalization of buildings and goes into effect on January 1, 1991; the other deals with the return of buildings to their rightful owners and it goes into effect immediately after it is signed by the Supreme Council Chairman and Secretary. (Dzintra Bungs)
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