|Fear of life in one form or another is the great thing to exorcise. - William James|
No. 220, 19 November 1991
USSR--ALL-UNION AND RSFSR MASS PRIVATIZATION IN MOSCOW BEGINS WEDNESDAY. According to Soviet media reports, Moscow mayor Gavriil Popov approved plans on November 18 to begin privatizing Moscow's economy on a wide scale as of November 20. The Moscow City Council is scheduled to approve the measure on November 19. The measure will privatize stores throughout Moscow, but there are some catches. For example, if someone buys a bakery, he must, for the first year, run the store as a bakery. After the first year, the new owner is free to do with it as he pleases. Following the privatization of stores, services, transport, and industry will be privatized in that order. Moscow's plans for privatization are arguably the most ambitious yet to emerge in the USSR, and are likely to serve as a model for other cities. (John Tedstrom) MEETING WITH G-7 ENDS IN DISAGREEMENT, UNCERTAINTY. A meeting on November 18 between officials of the G-7 countries and representatives of the 12 remaining republics ended with confusion over how to manage the USSR's $68 billion foreign debt, TASS and Vesti reported the same day. The indecision is bound to raise doubts in Western finance circles about the USSR's viability as a recipient of credit and aid. Three weeks ago in a similar meeting, there seemed to be agreement among the potential signers of the new Union Treaty about the principles and mechanics of dividing and paying the debt. Since then, Ukraine has apparently become less willing to chip in, according to RSFSR vice premier Egor Gaidar who was quoted by Izvestia on November 18. Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan all have some doubts as well. Further, over the course of last week, the heads of the foreign economic departments of the 12 republics failed to agree between themselves over how to manage paying back the USSR's foreign debt. The RSFSR has said it will cover all debts incurred after November 15. (John Tedstrom) COUP LEADERS IN JAIL: CONTRADICTING STORIES. RSFSR General Prosecutor Valentin Stepankov and other officials investigating the attempted August coup have claimed that coup leaders, including GKChP member Vasilii Starodubtsev, are being held in prison virtually incommunicado, and are not allowed to meet with anyone except lawyers and spouses. But Trud of November 14 carries an interview with Dmitrii Starodubtsev, brother of Vasilii Starodubtsev, that suggests otherwise. In the Trud interview, citing a provincial newspaper Severnyi rabochii, Dmitrii said that his brother continues to run the collective farm of which he is chairman even while imprisoned. Moreover, Vasilii Starodubtsev allegedly "meets his aides, signs [kolkhoz] papers, and continues to act as the chairman the [USSR] Peasants' Union." Trud quotes Dmitrii Starodubstev as saying that his brother recently hosted--presumably, in his prison cell--a large group of officials from his town of Novomoskovsk near Tula. (Julia Wishnevsky) NEW BRANCH OF THE ARMED FORCES CREATED. Rabochaya Tribuna of November 19 reported that the Strategic Deterrence Forces had been created by presidential decree. The new branch will be based on the former Strategic Rocket Forces (SRF), and will include the missile warning and anti-missile defense units that were part of the Air Defense Forces, as well as those organizations concerned with the military use of space. Strategic aviation and the navy's strategic nuclear forces will be under the operational control of the commander-in-chief of the new branch--Army General Yu. Maksimov, who headed the SRF. President Gorbachev had announced that such a new service would created during his October 5 response to President Bush's recent unilateral nuclear arms initiatives. (Doug Clarke) IS COMMUNISM BECOMING POPULAR AGAIN? A number of new communist parties have been formed in recent days. The founding congress of Lenin's Socialist Party of the Workers' Class was held in Novosibirsk on November 16, TASS reported that day. TASS named a 43-year-old, Lyudmila Belousova, as the new Party's founder. Three weeks earlier, another group of Marxist-Leninists, led by former dissident historian Roy Medvedev, met in Moscow to set up the Socialist Labor Party. In Leningrad, the well-known Stalinist Nina Andreeva has founded the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks, whereas another group of St.Petersburg Bolsheviks, led by Viktor Tyulkin, will hold the founding congress of their party in Ekaterinburg on November 23. (Julia Wishnevsky) MOSCOW DOWNED SWEDISH PLAN IN 1952. In a statement broadcast by Soviet television on November 18, the USSR Defense Ministry admitted that a Soviet fighter shot down a Swedish military aircraft that disappeared over the Baltic Sea in 1952, Western agencies reported. The Defense Ministry admitted that the action was "an outright violation of . . . international law," and expressed condolences to the families of the crew members who died in the attack. (Stephen Foye) OFFICIAL DENIES (SOME) CLAIMS ABOUT GOLD SHIPMENTS. Evgenii Bychkov, an official of the USSR Ministry of Finance, denied reports made yesterday by TASS and foreign news sources that the USSR had secretly shipped precious metals to Switzerland. (See Daily Report November 18.) According to a TASS report of November 18, Bychkov did not refute reports that shipments had gone to other countries, but couched those shipments in terms of normal transactions. The editors at Izvestia continue to follow the story, and report in the November 18 issue that some 300 kilograms of Palladium in ingots and in powder were shipped from Moscow to Brussels on Saturday, November 16. (John Tedstrom) YELTSIN MEETS SOVIET GERMANS. On the eve of his visit to German, RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin met representatives of the Soviet Germans living in the RSFSR, TASS reported on November18. The experience of creating German national districts in the eastern regions of the republic was discussed, as well as a plan to restore the Volga German republic in stages. In an interview with ADN on November 18, Yeltsin said that the German republic would undoubtedly be reestablished, and not only on paper. (Ann Sheehy) YELTSIN ISSUES ECONOMIC DECREES. RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin published a set of decrees which assert greater control over the economy, (TASS, November 17). In addition to those measures announced on November 15 which assert RSFSR control over oil exports and Soviet gold and diamond production, these decrees provide for increasing salaries up to 90% for many workers and a minimum wage of 200 rubles per month as of December 1. The RSFSR will also take control of the printing of currency and the determination of foreign exchange rates. Yeltsin ordered the cancellation of foreign exchange rates set by the Soviet government as of January 1. All enterprises will be allowed to engage in foreign trade without special registration and licensed banks will have the right to open hard-currency accounts for all citizens. Beginning November 20, the RSFSR will stop funding some 80 central government ministries. The buildings and property of those agencies which cease to exist will be transferred to the RSFSR government. (Carla Thorson) YELTSIN CONTROL OVER NUCLEAR WEAPONS? The Independent reported on November 18 that an officer carrying a black briefcase now follows Boris Yeltsin where ever he goes. Sources in the Yeltsin "White House," the report adds, claim that the case contains codes for launching the Soviet Union's nuclear weapons and matches the codes carried in a similar briefcase by an aid to Gorbachev. The report provides more evidence that Yeltsin has indeed gained veto power over Soviet nuclear weapons use--as he demanded after the August putsch. The exact relationship between Yeltsin, Gorbachev, and the presidents of the other republics with nuclear weapons on launch procedures remains unclear, however. (Stephen Foye) RSFSR MINISTERS APPOINTED. RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin told Radio Rossii on November 18 that the new Russian government consists of one team (odna komanda) of specialists in order to avoid intra-governmental disputes of earlier weeks. He stressed that the new government will conduct an open dialogue with the trade unions and political organizations. Yeltsin said that Russia has taken over the entire Soviet economy. Radio Rossii reported that associates of former prime minister Ivan Silaev, such as Oleg Lobov, Gennadii Kulik or Evgenii Saburov will switch from the Russian government to the Interstate Economic Committee. (Alexander Rahr) DO TRADE UNIONS SUPPORT YELTSIN . . . Independent Russian trade unions have welcomed Yeltsin's radical reform program directed towards the introduction of a market system in Russia. The chairman of the Federation of the Independent Trade Unions of Russia, Igor Klochkov, told TASS on November 18 that Yeltsin has fulfilled several of the trade union's demands, such as raising the salaries of employees in cultural, scientific, and health organizations. Klochkov also welcomed the idea of establishing an organization attached to the RSFSR Ministry for Labor and Employment for arbitrating labor disputes. Klochkov voiced criticism only that the program lacked legal mechanisms for privatization of enterprises and housing. (Alexander Rahr) . . . OR NOT? The presidium of the Council of Independent Trade Unions held a meeting on November 16, Radio Moscow reported. The presidium announced its intention to launch protests against the RSFSR government for its decision to allow the unrestricted increase in prices. The announcement did not specify when these protests would begin. (Carla Thorson) STEPASHIN: "KGB WILL NOT SHARE THE FATE OF THE STASI." Disintegration of the USSR does not means disbandment of secret services, Chairman of the RSFSR SupSov Committee on Defense and Security Sergei Stepashin told Krasnaya Zvezda on November 5. Stepashin said that thousands of officers who have honestly fullfilled their duties will continue to work for the benefit of a democratic Russia. Russia will have its own foreign intelligence service--some 90% of the foreign intelligence officers still working under supervision of Evgenii Primakov are ethnic Russians, Stepashin observed. There will be no purges in the agency. Stepashin said that both the RSFSR Supreme Soviet and President Boris Yeltsin concur with these positions. (Victor Yasmann) MORE ON STEPASHIN. In his Krasnaya Zvezda interview, Stepashin also noted that military counter-intelligence ("Special Departments") will remain under the aegis of the state security organs, although the Soviet Army will have counter-intelligence units to avoid a monopoly by the KGB. In the same issue, Krasnaya Zvezda provide a political profile of Stepashin. Until his election to the RSFSR Supsov in 1990, Stepashin was a lecturer in the Leningrad Higher Political Academy of the USSR MVD. Stepashin currently serves as coordinator of the parliamentary faction "Leftist Center" and on the Chairman of the State Commission for investigation of KGB activities. (Victor Yasmann) MORE ON TENSION IN DAGESTAN. According to Radio Rossii of November 15, the strike by the inhabitants of the town of Khasavyurt and Khasavyurt raion, now in its fourth week, was provoked by an escalation of unpunished crime going back to 1990 when 200 armed young men suddenly appeared to protest distribution of land for private housing construction. Responsibility was claimed by the Shamil Popular Front headed by republican deputy Gadzhi Makhachev. The front has engaged in further illegal actions, all of which have gone unpunished. The front claims to represent the interests of the Avar people, but Radio Rossii said most Avars support the strikers' demands for the resignation of the leadership of the republic's law enforcement agencies. (Ann Sheehy) GROZNYI DENIES THAT CONDITIONS FOR MEETING WITH RSFSR CHANGED. Daud Akhmadov, aide to Dzhakhar Dudaev, president of the self-styled Chechen republic, denied that Dudaev had agreed to drop his demand that the RSFSR recognize the president and parliament of the Chechen republic before he will start talks with the RSFSR, TASS reported November 18. Akhmadov said that Yeltsin's adviser on nationalities affairs had spoken on the telephone with Dudaev, but no agreement had been reached on the composition of the delegations and the time and place of the meeting. A final decision rested with the Chechen parliament, Akhmadov added. (Ann Sheehy) NORTH OSSETIA CREATES REPUBLICAN GUARD. In an interview published in Pravda of November 18, the chairman of the North Ossetian Supreme Soviet A. Galazov, said that North Ossetia was forming a republican guard and self-defense committee because the Ingush were persisting in their territorial claims on North Ossetia. (Ann Sheehy) REPORT: KUWAIT GIVES LOAN. According to a press briefing given at the Kuwaiti embassy in Moscow (reported by DPA November 18), Kuwait has promised a $500 million credit to the Soviet Union. Kuwait has reportedly called on the USSR to help rebuild Kuwait and free Kuwaitis imprisoned in Iraq. Meanwhile, TASS reported on November 18 that talks between Mikhail Gorbachev and visiting Kuwaiti Emir Sabah Jabir were held in an atmosphere of "mutual understanding and trust." Jabir also met with Boris Yeltsin. (Suzanne Crow) HONECKER'S RETURN "MATTER OF DAYS, WEEKS." According to RSFSR Justice Minister Nikolai Fedorov, the RSFSR government is firmly determined to return Erich Honecker to German authorities. "If there are no problems, this will be a matter of days or weeks," Fedorov said. DPA reported Fedorov's remarks on November 18. (Suzanne Crow) PATRIARCH ALEKSII ON US-SOVIET RELATIONS. On November 17, at the end of his second official visit to the US, Russian Patriarch Aleksii II told a TASS reporter that the barriers which divided the two nations when he visited the US for the first time in 1963 no longer exist. The Patriarch thanked the American nation for the help it had promised to "our country," which is facing manyfold problems. TASS carried the interview on November18. (Oxana Antic) USSR--OTHER REPUBLICS UKRAINIAN PROTEST NOTE TO YUGOSLAVIA. Ukraine has issued a strong protest to Yugoslavia after one of its tugboats came under artillery fire near Vukovar, Radio Kiev reported on November 18. Two crew members and the captain died as a result. Ukraine intends to raise the question of security for shipping at the Danube Commission. (Roman Solchanyk) BELORUSSIA PROPOSES HALT TO ARMS PRODUCTION. As reported on November 18 by an RFE/RL correspondent in Minsk, the Belorussian Supreme Soviet has sent an appeal to the parliaments of all the other republics calling for a complete halt to weapons production throughout the USSR. The appeal recommends that employees be paid through 1992 even after production stops. (Kathy Mihalisko) PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS, INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM SCHEDULED IN UZBEKISTAN. The Uzbek Supreme Soviet decreed on November18 that popular elections of the republic's president should take place on December 29, UzTAG-TASS reported on November 18. The same day a referendum is to be held on the state independence of the republic. Uzbekistan is the last of the Central Asian republics to schedule popular election of the president. Independent journalist Anvar Usman told RFE/RL on November 18 that opposition parties had wanted a three-month campaign. The Supreme Soviet was also due to discuss the economic community treaty and the latest draft of the Union treaty. (Ann Sheehy) HARVEST FAILURE IN KAZAKHSTAN. Because of severe drought, the 1991 grain harvest in Kazakhstan came to only 12.5 million tons, less than half that of 1990, Izvestia reported November 18. This has led to a critical situation in animal husbandry. The Kazakh cabinet is hoping to buy grain from abroad. (Ann Sheehy) KYRGYZSTAN PRESIDENT INTRODUCES TOUGH LAND MEASURES. Kyrgyzstan president Askar Akaev has issued a decree aimed at breaking resistance to the implementation of the laws on land reform, Pravda reported on November 14. Credits and material assistance to loss-making and low-profit-making farms will all be abolished from February 1, 1992, and their land will be included in a special fund, on the basis of which peasant farms will be established. Not less than 50% of the irrigated land allocated for peasant farms will be set aside for Kirgiz. Pravda sees this provision as a possible source of interethnic tension, but probably the fairest solution, given that the Kirgiz, as pastoralists, have not hitherto had access to the best land in the valleys. (Ann Sheehy) NIYAZOV TAKES OVER PREMIERSHIP AS WELL. Saparmurad Niyazov, president of Turkmenistan, has temporarily taken on the direct management of the government, Izvestia reported on November 14. The prime minister Khan Akhmedov has been released from his post and appointed head of the newly-formed Turkmen railways. (Ann Sheehy) MOLDAVIAN POPULAR FRONT WANTS ROMANIAN CITIZENSHIP FOR MOLDAVIANS. Moldavian Popular Front delegates, headed by MPF Executive Committee Chairman Iurie Rosca, approached Romanian government and opposition leaders on November 12 and 13 in Bucharest with the request that Romania grant the residents of its former provinces Bessarabia and northern Bukovina the right to regain Romanian citizenship. The request capped recent appeals by Moldavia's National Alliance for Independence, which groups a dozen political and civic organizations allied to the Popular Front, for the restoration of Romanian citizenship to Moldavians. At a press conference in Bucharest, broadcast on November 15, Romanian President Ion Iliescu disclosed that he had received the Moldavian delegates and turned down their request as risky for Romania and inconsistent with Moldavia's independence. Rosca, however, told a Popular Front rally in Kishinev on November 17 that the matter would shortly be submitted to the Romanian parliament. (Vladimir Socor) SNEGUR CRITICAL OF THE PROPOSAL. Moldavian President Mircea Snegur told an electoral rally on November 17 that the request for extending Romanian citizenship to Moldavians was unlawful and incompatible with Moldavia's independence. He said that Moldavians were interested in consolidating their statehood with all its attributes, not in merging with "any other state." Snegur commented that the Popular Front's recent policy of "rushing to unify" with Romania had cost the Front a great deal of its former popularity. (Vladimir Socor) BALTIC STATES BALTIC TROOP WITHDRAWALS STALLED. The chairman of Estonia's parliamentary committee for State Defense says that the USSR is violating agreements regarding the withdrawal of two paratroop units. Enn Tupp told BNS on November18 that paratroopers have left Voru, but have simply gone to Tallinn instead of leaving the country. A small unit has remained to guard the base, which was supposed to have been turned over the Estonian authorities according to the terms of a September agreement between Prime Minister Savisaar and USSR Defense Minister Shaposhnikov. Tupp said the second paratrooper unit in Viljandi shows no signs of leaving. "Moscow thinks it has us cornered, since we haven't agreed on any on any guarantees to fulfill concluded agreements," Tupp said. (Riina Kionka) NEW CHAMBER OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY TO INCLUDE BALTS. The Chamber of Trade and Industry of the USSR disbanded itself on November 18, and created a Confederation of Trade and Industry of the former republics of the USSR, according to TASS of the same day. Twelve of the former republics of the USSR took part in the agreement which was reached at a conference in Moscow. Failing to participate were Georgia, Armenia, and Tajikistan. The most interesting note, however, was the participation of the three Baltic states. Their interest in the Confederation underscores the economic ties that still bind them to the other former republics. (John Tedstrom) LANDSBERGIS ASKS ITALY FOR HELP. . . Chairman of the Lithuanian Supreme Council Vytautas Landsbergis has requested Italian help in getting Soviet troops out of Lithuania, according to agency reports of November 18. A spokesman for Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti says Landsbergis had asked Andreotti to press the Soviet Union to withdraw the troops as soon as possible, "hopefully by the end of the month." (Riina Kionka) . . . INVITES POPE. During his Rome visit, Landsbergis also invited Pope John Paul to visit Lithuania, agencies reported on November 18. Since the failed coup attempt, Lithuania has been embroiled in controversy with Poland--the Pope's homeland--over the rights of Lithuania's large Polish minority. Last month, the two states came to an agreement guaranteeing the rights of minorities living in each country. (Riina Kionka) LANDSBERGIS: KGB AGENTS SHOULD COME FORTH. The Lithuanian Supreme Council Chairman has again called on former KGB agents to come forth. According to a November 18 BNS report, Landsbergis said that all those who stopped working for the KGB by March 20 and who have not committed serious crimes should come forth. He said they would not be followed and their names would not be made public. Landsbergis said "confession, penance and purification will give all of us the chance to render [the KGB] powerless." Landsbergis made the plea during his regular Sunday evening televised fireside chat. (Riina Kionka)
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