|To appreciate nonsense requires a serious interest in life. - Gelett Burgess|
No. 100, 25 November 1991
USSR--ALL UNION AND RSFSR SEVEN REPUBLICS TO INITIAL UNION TREATY? Leaders of several of the Soviet republics are expected to put the final touches to and initial the new Union treaty at a meeting of the State Council on November 25, Radio Mayak and Western agencies reported on November 24. At the last meeting of the State Council seven republics--the RSFSR, Belorussia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan--reached broad agreement on the text, though there could still be hitches. The State Council is also due to discuss the 26 agreements that form part of the Economic Community Treaty signed by ten republics. After a meeting of the Council of the Heads of Government of the Member-States of the Economic Community on November 21, Grigorii Yavlinsky said that agreement remained to be reached on such vital matters as the defense budget, limiting the budget deficit, and an agreed prices policy. He warned that there would be chaos if the agreements were not initialled in the next two or three days, TASS reported on November 22. (Ann Sheehy) SILAEV ON G-7 AND EXTERNAL DEBT MEMORANDUM. In an interview on Central Television on November 22, Ivan Silaev, chairman of the Interstate Economic Committee, said the negotiations with the G-7 countries on the Soviet Union's foreign debt had been very difficult and "even to some extent humiliating," but he did not understand the position of those republics that had not signed. Silaev warned that if the RSFSR paid their share of the debt the republics that haven't signed would receive no credits from abroad and would have to turn to the RSFSR, which would be able to dictate its terms. (Ann Sheehy) UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER CRITICIZES G-7 DEBT ACCORD. Ukrainian prime minister Vitold Fokin has reiterated that Ukraine is ready to pay its share of the Soviet debt but has protested against the way in which it is being pressured by both Moscow and representatives of the Group of Seven Industrialized Nations (G-7) to do so. Fokin told a press briefing in Kiev on November 23 that Ukraine first wanted to know precisely how large the Soviet debt is and for ways to be worked out of dividing the debt along with Soviet assets. He said that the deal on an aid package that had been worked out by G-7 deputy finance ministers in Moscow last week amounted to "gross interference" in the domestic affairs of the republics. "From what we have been told," Fokin explained, "it follows that Ukraine would have to become an accessory if not of the [Soviet] Union, then of Russia, which we cannot agree to do." He added that Ukraine reserved the right to negotiate separately with foreign creditors and criticized "the leadership of the former Union" for "holding furtive talks with the West, which will do significant damage to the former Soviet republics." (Bohdan Nahaylo) RSFSR PARLIAMENT TAKES OVER SOVIET BANKS. The Russian parliament voted to assume control of the Soviet State Bank (Gosbank) and the Soviet Bank for Foreign Economic Affairs (Vneshekonombank) as of January 1, TASS and Western Agencies reported on November 22. The resolution stipulated that the Central Bank of Russia is the only body on Russian territory responsible for monetary, credit, and currency policy and will be solely responsible for issuing currency until the creation of an interrepublican banking union. The RSFSR Supreme Soviet resolution was passed after deputies rejected Yeltsin's earlier decree which placed the banking system under presidential control. (Carla Thorson) YELTSIN APPEALS TO GERMAN BUSINESSMEN. RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin appealed to German businessmen and industrialists to get involved in the Russian economy, Western agencies reported on November 22. Yeltsin said that tax and other incentives now existed for foreign investments, particularly in the areas of food and consumer goods production. He said the times demand a comprehensive accord on economic cooperation between Russia and Germany. Yeltsin also suggested the formation of Russian-German joint ventures on former Soviet military bases in East Germany. (Carla Thorson) GORBACHEV HITS DEFENSE COMPLEX. In what appeared to be a stinging rebuke to the Soviet military industrial complex, Gorbachev told workers at the Irkutsk aircraft plant on November 22 that there is a stranglehold on the economy "exerted by the military octopus's deadly tentacles, sucking the blood" of society. "For fear of the military threat," he said, "we used to take the shirt off our own back to strengthen the country's defense might." He charged that the defense sector not only "fleeced" the civilian economy, but ultimately the officer corps itself. His remarks were reported by Rabochaya tribuna on November 23. (Stephen Foye) PANKIN HAD LITTLE WARNING. In an interview with the Swedish daily Dagens Myheter (November 24), former Foreign Minister Boris Pankin said Gorbachev told him of the decision to reappoint Eduard Shevardnadze as foreign minister on the same day the decision was announced to the press, Western agencies reported November 24. (Suzanne Crow) NO AGREEMENT ON WITHDRAWAL FROMCUBA. "A very open exchange of opinions" took place during talks between the Soviet Union and Cuba on the withdrawal of Soviet troops from the island, an unnamed Soviet embassy spokesman in Havana said on November 22. Talks spanned 8 days and yielded a protocol "which expresses the wishes of both sides," the official said. A third round of talks will be held "soon," but no date was announced, Western agencies reported. (Suzanne Crow) PRAVDA: QADDAFI'S VIEW OF COUP. On November 18, Pravda printed a long interview with Muamar Qaddafi together with the full text of the salutation sent by the Libyan dictator on August19 to the State of Emergency Committee. In Qaddafi's estimation, the coup was a "brave historic act" aimed at leading the USSR out of mortal crises. Qaddafi said that when he wrote the greeting, he was sure that the coup had been organized by Gorbachev himself--thus adding fuel to a conspiracy theory shared by many of Gorbachev's opponents on both ends of the political spectrum and frequently popularized on the pages of Pravda. (Julia Wishnevsky) SHAPOSHNIKOV RESCINDS APPOINTMENTS. TASS reported on November 22 that Defense Minister Evgenii Shaposhnikov has reversed his orders of November 18 that named assistants (for personnel matters) to the commanders in chief of various service branches of the Soviet armed forces. Also rescinded was his order appointing Colonel General Gennadii Stefanovskii as chairman of the USSR Defense Ministry's Committee on Personnel Work. The orders were rejected, according to the report, by the Defense Ministry commission overseeing restructuring of the military's political organs in what was described as a stormy meeting on November 21. (Stephen Foye) FEW ACCEPT SOVIET MILITARY AMNESTY. Soviet Defense Ministry spokesman Valerii Manilov told reporters on November 22 that few people have accepted the official amnesty offer for draft dodgers and deserters, TASS reported. Manilov said that only 200 of the estimated 6,000 deserters have so far turned themselves in to local enlistment offices. The amnesty will expire on December 4. (Carla Thorson and Steven Foye) NISHANOV ON HIS NEW APPOINTMENT. Rafik Nishanov, formerly chairman of the USSR Supreme Soviet's Council of Nationalities, told Argumenty i fakty that Gorbachev had appointed him his adviser to deal with interethnic problems, TASS reported on November 22. Nishanov said he would be giving priority to interethnic conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, South Ossetia, and the Dniester area of Moldavia, the problem of refugees, and completing the rehabilitation of the illegally repressed peoples. (Ann Sheehy) ABOLITION OF SOVIET MINISTRIES TO BEGIN DECEMBER 1. Prime Minister Ivan Silaev said he would start abolishing USSR ministries on December 1, TASS reported on November 22. He indicated that a total of 80 ministries and departments would be abolished between December1 and the end of January, but the cuts would not affect the foreign, defense and interior ministries. The ministries of culture, railways, and of the atomic energy and power industry will also be preserved along with the USSR customs service, committee for public education and the committee on ecological safety. (Carla Thorson) GERMAN DELEGATION TO MOSCOW ON VOLGA REPUBLIC. A German government delegation is due to leave for Moscow on November 25 to discuss the prospects for recreating German autonomy, RFE/RL's correspondent in Bonn reported on November 25. The Germans have been offered two areas. One is relatively uninhabited territory where the Volga German republic existed until 1941, and the other the Kapustin yar missile testing site on the RSFSR border with Kazakhstan. Heinrich Groth, chairman of the Soviet German "Rebirth" association said that the Kapustin yar site is an ecological disaster area. (Michael Wall/Ann Sheehy) RUSSIAN-CHECHEN TALKS IN TARTU? Chechen President Dzhakhar Dudaev told Baltfax in an exclusive interview on November 23 that Tartu might be the site for talks between the RSFSR and Dudaev. Dudaev said he had rejected St.Petersburg as he did not want the talks to be on Russian soil. Dudaev commanded a strategic bomber unit outside Tartu before he resigned to lead the Chechen national movement. The imam-hatib of the Moscow Cathedral mosque and chairman of the capital's Islamic Center, Ravil Gainutdin, told a press conference in Moscow on November 22 that Dudaev was not intending to turn Moscow into a disaster area, TASS reported on November 22. Gainutdin met Dudaev when he attended a three-day conference on "The Rebirth of Islam in the North Caucasus" at the invitation of the Muslim Religious Board of the Chechen republic. (Ann Sheehy) REPRESENTATIVES OF "ISLAMIC PATH" PARTY SEEKING ARMS. According to "informed" sources, a member of the leadership of the "Islamic Path" party, the Chechen A. Shishani, was in Hungary from November 15-18 seeking contacts with arms traders, TASS reported on November 23. He was said to be particularly interested in portable anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. According to the same sources, Shishani said that the aim of the party was the restoration of Islamic values in the Caucasian republics and the development of a holy war. The party already had about 30,000 fighters and wanted to buy up to 50,000 firearms this year. The "Islamic Path" party supports Dudaev's All-National Congress of the Chechen People. (Ann Sheehy) FOOD SHIPMENTS TO ST. PETERSBURG CUT. St. Petersburg Mayor Anatolii Sobchak said that the Baltic states and Ukraine have virtually halted food shipments to the city. According to the Japanese news agency Kyodo, Sobchak told a delegation of Japanese businessmen on November23 that St. Petersburg had only enough food stocks for a few days. Sobchak had already announced on November 20 that food rationing would be introduced in the city on December 15 in response to the shortages. (Carla Thorson) USSR--OTHER REPUBLICS ARMENIA VS. AZERBAIJAN. Hundreds of thousands of people attended funerals in Baku on November 22 for those killed in the November 20 helicopter crash in the NKAO. Azerbaijani President Ayaz Mutalibov declared that "things have gone too far" and that "aggression against Azerbaijan will be stopped." The Armenian government called for an international investigation into the causes of the crash. Preliminary Azerbaijani Procuracy findings claimed that the helicopter was shot down; other Soviet officials said on November 23 that the cause of the crash had not been established, that the confiscation of material from the crash site by the Azerbaijani procuracy was hindering the investigation, and that the crash could have been caused by overloading. Azerbaijan and Armenia broke off negotiations on Nagorno-Karabakh on November 23. In a TASS appeal on November 23, Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze called on both sides to show restraint. Further demonstrations in Baku on November 24 called for retaliation against Armenia and Mutalibov's resignation. (Liz Fuller) KRAVCHUK SAYS DEFINITELY NO TO JOINING NEW UNION. With Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev once again endeavoring to persuade as many of the former Soviet republics as he can to sign a new Union treaty, the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet Chairman Leonid Kravchuk, who is also a leading contender for the presidency of Ukraine, has reiterated that Ukraine does not intend to join the new Union. "I will not take part in the Novo Ogarevo process, that is talks on signing a new Union treaty," he declared at the weekend while campaigning in the Ukrainian presidential election, which will be held on December 1. According to Interfax and Western agencies, Kravchuk stressed that: "All allegations that I intend to join the treaty later are nothing but fiction." (Bohdan Nahaylo) KRAVCHUK ALSO DISAVOWS SOVIET ECONOMIC TREATY. Kravchuk also declared that the new treaty establishing a Soviet economic community is stillborn. It was signed with reservations two weeks ago by Ukraine's prime minister Vitold Fokin and has to be ratified by the Ukrainian parliament. According to The Los Angeles Times of November 23, Kravchuk told a meeting in Kiev on that day to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the birth of the eminent historian and president of the shortlived independent Ukrainian People's Republic Mykhailo Hrushevsky that "the economic treaty is already dead." Kravchuk argued that Russian president Boris Yeltsin had torpedoed the economic accord by enacting a program of sweeping reforms without first consulting other republics, as the treaty requires. (Bohdan Nahaylo) YELTSIN SEES UKRAINE AS CAUSING THE PROBLEMS. During his visit to Germany last week, Russian President Boris Yeltsin told his German hosts that Ukraine's problematic attitude toward economic cooperation could cause problems for both Russia and Germany. After meeting with German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher on November 22, Yeltsin told reporters that "we discussed the problems of Ukraine which now, of course, could be complex for us, for the country and for Germany." It will be recalled, however, that as recently as November 6, Yeltsin and Leonid Kravchuk signed an agreement on Russo-Ukrainian economic cooperation as well as a bilateral accord on trade and economic relations for 1992.(Bohdan Nahaylo) CRIMEAN PARLIAMENT CLEARS WAY FOR REFERENDUM ON SECESSION FROM UKRAINE. As expected, the Supreme Soviet of the Crimean Autonomous Republic voted on November 22 to adopt a local referendum law that paves the way for the peninsula's possible secession from Ukraine (See Daily Report of November 22). Ethnic Russians make up 67% of Crimea's population. Since Ukraine asserted its sovereignty and later also declared its independence, a strong movement, backed by the republic's former communist apparatus, has pushed for secession from Ukraine. It has been opposed by local democratic forces which encompass mainly Ukrainian Rukh supporters and Crimean Tatars. The chairman of the Crimean parliament, Nikolai Bagrov, told reporters after the vote that the question of Crimea's secession would only be raised if Ukraine does not remain part of the Union. (Bohdan Nahaylo) TAJIKISTAN HOLDS PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. Reports from Dushanbe say that preliminary results of the presidential elections in Tajikistan on November 24 are expected some time on November 25. TASS reports indicated that about 81% of the electorate voted. There were seven candidates. Pre-election polls suggested that Rakhmon Nabiev, first secretary of the republic's Communist party from 1982 to 1985, would win. His chief rival was Davlat Khudonazarov, a liberal who campaigned on an anti-Communist platform. The voting was monitored by independent observers from abroad and other republics of the former Soviet Union. (Ann Sheehy) GORBACHEV IN KYRGYZSTAN. During his visit to the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek on November 23, Gorbachev visited a number of institutions and addressed a public meeting. In his remarks he reiterated the need to continue perestroika and preserve the Union. Interviewed by Central Television's correspondent before his departure, Gorbachev said that he liked the way the Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev had brought people together and removed the tension that threatened to split the republican Supreme Soviet and society. He said that the Kyrgyz leadership was trying to get the best out of the presence of one million Russians and representatives of other nationalities in the republic. (Ann Sheehy) NEW ARMENIAN PRIME MINISTER APPOINTED. The 43-year old economist and former Armenian CP Central Committee Department head Gagik Garushevich Arutyunyan has been appointed Armenian Prime Minister, TASS reported on November 23. Arutyunyan was appointed deputy chairman of the Armenian Supreme Soviet in August, 1990, and Armenian deputy president last month. (Liz Fuller) GEORGIA, IRAN AGREE TO OPEN CONSULATES. Georgia and Iran have agreed to open consulates in Tbilisi and Teheran, TASS reported on November 22. The date for the opening of the consulates was not specified. (Liz Fuller) MOLDAVIANS DON'T WANT REUNIFICATION, DELEGATION TELLS BUCHAREST. A Moldavian delegation, headed by an adviser to President Mircea Snegur and by a former Popular Front leader, told a press conference in Bucharest that "unification with Romania could end up in an explosion of discontent by hundreds of thousands of people and would be a real disaster for our republic," TASS reported on November 23. Eighty percent of the people oppose reunification, mainly on economic grounds, they said. The delegates decried the Romanian media's "one-sided and subjective" endorsement of the Moldavian Popular Front's campaign against Snegur who champions independent statehood for Moldavia. (Vladimir Socor) MOLDAVIA INVALIDATES "GAGAUZ SSR" VOTING. The Moldavian Parliament's Presidium resolved on November 21 to declare unlawful the self-styled Gagauz SSR Supreme Soviet's decisions to hold on December 1 a Gagauz presidential election and a referendum on secession from Moldavia. Rejecting "any attempt to dismember the republic," the Moldavian Presidium termed the Gagauz decisions "immature games, lacking any legal basis, and indulged in by politically short-sighted leaders," Moldovapres reported on November 21. (Vladimir Socor) BALTIC STATES GOVERNMENT TAKES STAND ON CITIZENSHIP. The government of Estonia has come out in favor of a strict reading of the 1938 citizenship law. As reported in BNS on November 22, the government has announced its intention to "apply to the fullest extent" the 1938 law, which foresees 3years of minimum residence and knowledge of Estonian as prerequisites for naturalization. In its statement, the government appealed to all political parties and movements to submit suggestions within one week on how certain details of the law should be applied. The government move comes after an opinion poll showed overwhelming support among the population for a strict reading of the law. (Riina Kionka) STATE ACCEPTS ID CARDS. The Presidium of Estonia's Supreme Council voted on November 21 to adopt Congress of Estonia identity cards as proof of citizenship, according to an RFE Estonian Service interview broadcast the next day. In its compromise decision, the presidium voted to accept the ID cards but to instruct the government to provide slips with additional information which will then be tucked inside the cards. The decision resolves a longtime controversy that arose because the Congress wanted to use its own ID cards for reasons of symbolism and cost-cutting, whereas the Supreme Council preferred adopting a different means of proof that would not be linked to the politically more conservative Congress movement. (Riina Kionka) ESTONIA HAS EMERGENCY FUEL ARRANGEMENT. An Estonian government official says unnamed foreign countries have agreed to provide fuel to Estonia in case of serious shortages this winter, Western agencies reported on November 22. Ardo Kamratov, Director General of the Finance Ministry's Department of State Property, told reporters that the agreement would provide for uninterrupted supplies of fuel regardless of whether a crisis erupts. Kamratov declined to name the guarantor countries. (Riina Kionka) LITHUANIA ESTABLISHES DIPLOMATIC LINKS WITH NATO. On November 22, NATO issued a statement announcing the establishment of diplomatic links with Lithuania, Western agencies reported that day. The statement noted that Lithuania's Ambassador to the European Community, Adolfas Venckus, would be responsible for establishing the new links. On November 12, Estonian Foreign Minister Lennart Meri visited NATO headquarters in Brussels and agreed to set up diplomatic links with NATO. The third Baltic state, Latvia, is expected to establish similar links soon. (Saulius Girnius) CEPAITIS ADMITS TIES WITH KGB. On November 23, a meeting of the Lithuanian Independence Party approved the recommendations of its Control and Credentials Commission to discharge the party's chairman Virgilijus Cepaitis for having cooperated with the KGB, the RFE Lithuanian Service reported on November 24. Cepaitis told the commission on November 15 that the reports in the Lithuanian press about his working for the KGB under the code name "Juozas" were true, but stressed that he had never signed a statement agreeing to be a KGB agent. The party plans to call a conference before January 1, 1992 and elect a new leadership. There is a strong possibility that the Lithuanian parliament may decide to ask Cepaitis to resign his seat in the parliament. (Saulius Girnius) SHEVARDNADZE MEETS PRUNSKIENE. On November 23 USSR Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze met former Lithuanian Prime Minister Kazimiera Prunskiene and exchanged opinions on the future of the development of democratic processes, TASS reported that day. Shevardnadze had been appointed the head of the Soviet delegation for negotiations with Lithuania, but it is likely that a new head will be appointed since Shevardnadze has returned as foreign minister. (Saulius Girnius) RUSSIA PROMISES TO RESUME ENERGY SUPPLIES TO LATVIA. Latvian Deputy Minister of Economy Andris Gutmanis told the press upon his return from Moscow on November 15 that RSFSR government officials had promised to resume supplying energy resources to Latvia. He said that "if Russia does not keep its promise, the Latvian government will take countermeasures that may sharply affect Russia's economy," reported BNS on November 22. Since the end of October, Russia has cut back on the supply of petroleum products to Latvia, which still has oil reserves for only 20 days and diesel fuel only for a few days. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIAN-BELORUSSIAN ECONOMIC ACCORD. On November 21, Latvian and Belorussian officials signed a trade agreement. Belorussia will supply Latvia with gasoline, fuel oil and petroleum products, as well as tires and some manufactured goods, according to a BNS dispatch of November 22. The supply of energy products to Latvia would start after Belorussia and Russia coordinate their policies; an accord is expected to be signed before December 20. (Dzintra Bungs)
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