|We are all apt to believe what the world believes about us. - George Eliot|
No. 224, 26 November 1991
USSR--ALL-UNION AND RSFSR REPUBLICAN LEADERS FAIL TO INITIAL UNION TREATY. A planned champagne ceremony for the initialing of the Union treaty by the leaders of seven republics had to be called off when they declined to initial the treaty at a meeting of the State Council in Novo-Ogarevo on November 25, Soviet and Western media reported that day. It was agreed that further revisions should be made to the draft, which would then be submitted to the republican parliaments, with the hope that the treaty would be signed before the end of 1991. A dispirited Gorbachev told a press conference that the republican leaders were under domestic pressures. The draft of the treaty has been published in Izvestia of November 26. (Ann Sheehy) ONLY SEVEN REPUBLICS REPRESENTED. Only seven republics were represented at the meeting of the State Council--the RSFSR, Belorussia, Kazakhstan, and the four Central Asian republics. Gorbachev said that Azerbaijan President Ayaz Mutalibov was unable to attend because of the crisis in Transcaucasia. (Ann Sheehy) YELTSIN SAID TO HAVE REGISTERED STRONGEST OBJECTIONS. According to Michael Parks writing in The Los Angeles Times of November 26, the strongest objections to the draft came from RSFSR president Boris Yeltsin. Soviet officials who were present said he wanted greater powers for the RSFSR and less for the center. One official, a Gorbachev supporter, said Yeltsin wanted Russia to be the political, economic, and strategic successor of the Soviet Union, but not everyone was prepared to hand over power to Yeltsin. Yeltsin has been under increased pressure of late from Gennadii Burbulis and some other members of the Russian leadership to declare Russia the successor state to the USSR. (Ann Sheehy) VELAYATI VISIT. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati arrived in Moscow for a ten-day tour of the Soviet Union, TASS reported on November 25. Minister of External Relations Eduard Shevardnadze welcomed Velayati's plans to visit Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan, saying the development of relations between Iran and the Soviet republics is a "positive factor in Soviet-Iranian relations." Velayati expressed Iran's interest in opening consulates in some Soviet republics, TASS reported November 25. (Suzanne Crow) MILITARY BUDGET CUTS PROPOSED. A member of the USSR Supreme Soviet Committee for Budget and Finances told Interfax on November 25 that a working group on military spending had proposed that the planned military budget for 1991 be reduced from 96.6 to 81 billion rubles. Yurii Andreev said that if current spending levels are continued, the military budget for 1991 will amount to 102.7 billion rubles. He called for significant cuts in military procurement, and recommended that a portion of those savings be redirected toward paying salaries for arms industry workers (Stephen Foye) CONFERENCE ON CIVIL-MILITARY RELATIONS. A conference on "The Armed Forces and Military Service in a Law-Governed State" opened in Moscow on November 25, TASS and Radio Moscow reported. Twenty states are reportedly represented, and RSFSR Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi, Defense Minister Evgenii Shaposhnikov, and General Staff Chief Vladimir Lobov were present. Sergei Bogdanov, head of the Defense Ministry Center for Strategic Research, said that the new military doctrine envisions three levels of security: national (security of sovereign states); regional (cooperation with NATO, the Asia-Pacific region and European countries); and global (cooperation with the UN to secure international stability). (Stephen Foye) GENERAL CHARGES THAT CONSERVATIVES REMAIN. A leader of the movement "Soldiers for Democracy" told Radio Rossii on November 25 that there is the potential for a second military putsch in the Soviet Union because many of those associated with the first attempt have not been removed from positions of power. Vladimir Dudnik charged that the commission tasked with investigating military complicity in the coup, headed by General Konstantin Kobets, has refused to act on evidence gathered by officers throughout the Soviet Union. He also claimed that the much-vaunted "depoliticization" of the armed forces is a charade, and that hard-liners remain entrenched throughout the military high command. (Stephen Foye) TANK PRODUCTION REPORTED STOPPED. TSN reported on November 22 a USSR Defense Ministry announcement that tank production has been halted at two major defense plants. According to TSN, a Russian Information Agency correspondent with close ties to military circles has identified the factories as being in Kharkov and Nizhnii Tagil. (Stephen Foye) INDEPENDENT ARMY NEWSPAPER ESTABLISHED. Moskovski novosti no. 46 reports that, according to the RSFSR Ministry of Information, an independent all-Russian daily newspaper for servicemen called Voiskovoi krug has been registered. It reportedly is the first such publication in the country and in the RSFSR that is not subordinated to the military high command. (Stephen Foye) YELTSIN PLANS FURTHER FOREIGN VISITS. RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin is scheduled to visit Hungary, Italy, and Romania in December of 1991 and France in the beginning of 1992, his press spokesman Pavel Voshchanov told TASS on November 25. The aim of the visits will be the establishment of direct ties between leading East and West European states with the new Russian state. Voshchanov characterized Yeltsin's visit to Germany as "quite successful" because an agreement on Russian-German economic cooperation has been reached. (Alexander Rahr) RUSSIAN ECONOMIC COUNCIL SET UP. A new Russian Economic Council has been set up to monitor and forecast economic developments in the RSFSR, Vesti reported on November 25. In particular, the Council will follow and analyze the results of Yeltsin's economic reforms in the Russian periphery. The Council will not be directly attached to the President or the Presidium of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet, as proposed by some legislators, but act independently. (Alexander Rahr) CONFLICT BETWEEN RSFSR GOVERNMENT AND PARLIAMENT? Debates last week over RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin's economic decrees and the RSFSR Supreme Soviet's subsequent rejection of Yeltsin's banking decree prompted renewed discussion of a rift between the president and the legislature. According to TASS of November 25, the Deputy Chairman of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet, Vladimir Shumeiko, rejected these speculations, saying that the problem is a lack of coordination between the RSFSR government and parliament rather than a conflict between them. Deputies had objected to the preparation and publication of these decrees without consultation of the relevant parliamentary committees, and in particular, to the subordination of the state bank to the Russian government. (Carla Thorson) CENTRIST BLOC OFFERS SUPPORT TO YELTSIN. The Centrist Bloc of political parties announced on November 25 that it was ready to fully support the new RSFSR government, "Vesti" reported. The bloc includes a number of fringe organizations that enjoyed central government support prior to the abortive coup. Its members, whose main aim was the preservation of the empire at all costs, were critical of Yeltsin. "Vesti" quoted the leaders of the bloc as saying that a drastic change of the bloc's policies was inevitable after the coup. They said, however, that the bloc still advocates a temporary ban on political parties and the creation in the RSFSR of a committee of national salvation (apparently to be headed by Yeltsin). (Vera Tolz) ANOTHER COMMUNIST PARTY CREATED IN RSFSR. An unspecified number of people met in Ekaterinburg to set up yet another Communist party. TASS said on November 24 that the new group is called the Communist Workers' Party (CWP). The CWP is one of several Communist organizations set up in the RSFSR after the attempted coup, and it is the third party in the republic to claim it is a formal successor of the CPSU. TASS said the Ekaterinburg authorities warned the organizers of the new party that actions would be taken against them if they violate President Yeltsin's decree of November 6 banning CPSU and Russian CP activities on the territory of the Russian Federation. (Vera Tolz) EXTRAORDINARY CONGRESS OF KOMI PEOPLE. An extraordinary congress of the Komi people that ended in Syktyvkar on November 23 proclaimed itself and subsequent congresses the highest representative organ of the indigenous people and declared that the decisions of the congress' executive organ must be considered by the parliament and administration of the Komi SSR, TASS reported on November 23. The congress outlined measures to consolidate the state sovereignty of the Komi SSR, including discussion of a bilateral treaty with the RSFSR, the opening of representations in states and areas inhabited by Finno-Ugrian peoples, and the adoption of laws on citizenship, migration, and language. (Ann Sheehy) TENSION IN VLADIKAVKAZ. Tension is high in the North Ossetian capital, Vladikavkaz, in anticipation of a possible Ingush march on North Ossetia to reclaim Prigorodnyi raion, "Inform-TV" (the successor to "Vremya") reported on November 25. A rumor is also going round that Yeltsin will sign a decree on December 1 returning the raion to the Ingush. TSN reported on November 25 that Ossetians, Russians, and others were enrolling in the Ossetian republican guard. A congress of the Ossetian people is scheduled for November 29. Inform-TV said that some people were afraid such a congress would create leading organs parallel to the official organs of power, thus repeating the situation in Chechnya. (Ann Sheehy) CALL FOR REHABILITATION OF HITLER IS REBUFFED. Adolph Hitler must be rehabilitated as a "fighter against Communism" wrote a veteran of General Vlasov's Russian Liberation Army (ROA), Dmitrii Sergeevich, in Novoe Vremya no. 46. Sergeevich claimed that only Communists were killed in German concentration camps and that no civilians suffered from ROA or Nazi actions. He also proposed extending World War II veteran privileges to former ROA soldiers. A Novoe Vremya reader wrote in reply that the ROA had one trait in common with collaborationist emigre organizations: its activities did not contradict the goals of Hitler's regime. Russians who fought in the antifascist resistance are the true patriots, the reader said. (Victor Yasmann). USSR--OTHER REPUBLICS STATE COUNCIL CALLS FOR TALKS ON KARABAKH DISPUTE. The State Council rejected President Gorbachev's call for Soviet troops to patrol a 10-km buffer zone along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and instead summoned the presidents of the two republics to Moscow for talks on November 27. The Azerbaijani parliament convenes on November 25 to debate the introduction of martial law and the severing of economic ties with Armenia following the helicopter crash of November 20 in which over 20 people were killed. Azerbaijani President Mutalibov failed to attend the November 25 meeting of the State Council because of the situation in Azerbaijan, which Gorbachev characterized as "very serious." (Liz Fuller) GEORGIA ENDS STATE OF EMERGENCY IN SOUTH OSSETIA. Residents of the disputed district of South Ossetia appealed for the Soviet leadership to introduce a state of emergency in the area immediately, TASS reported on November 25. The Georgian parliament voted on November 25 to lift the state of emergency imposed a year ago in Tskhinvali and Dzhava raion in the hope that this move will reduce tensions, and to open talks with the USSR MVD on withdrawing its troops from South Ossetia. A USSR MVD spokesman stated on November 25 that its troops would remain in South Ossetia as they are the sole force capable of preventing an escalation of violence there. (Liz Fuller) NEW DEMONSTRATIONS IN TBILISI AGAINST GAMSAKHURDIA. Thousands of students demonstrated on November 25 outside the parliament building in Tbilisi to demand the release of opposition figures arrested by Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia, Western agencies reported from Moscow on November 25. Police monitored the demonstration, which was peaceful. Fifteen opposition groups have reportedly agreed to consolidate their efforts to oust Gamsakhurdia. (Liz Fuller) IRAN WILL NOT RECOGNIZE AZERBAIJAN'S INDEPENDENCE. Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Akbar Velayati told Ekho Moskvy on November 25 that Iran will not recognize Azerbaijan's independence, but intends to expand its relations with Azerbaijan within the framework of the Soviet Union. (Liz Fuller) UKRAINIAN PRESIDIUM ON ARMED FORCES. The Presidium of the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet on November 25 issued a statement on the armed forces of Ukraine, Radio Kiev and TASS reported that day. It said that decisions of the USSR State Council taken earlier this month on the preservation of a unified Soviet armed forces, plus the USSR Defense Ministry's "ignoral" of Ukraine's sovereign right to have its own military, are not in accordance with Ukrainian legislation. The contradiction could have a negative effect on morale and combat-readiness, the statement continued. The Presidium reiterated Ukraine's intention to establish its own armed forces only as a defense against "external military threat" and to protect state borders. (Kathy Mihalisko) MVD TROOPS MUST BE UNDER UKRAINIAN COMMAND. In an interview published on November 26 in Krasnaya zvezda, Volodymyr Kukharets, commander of the newly-established National Guard of Ukraine, asserted that all USSR MVD troops stationed in Ukraine must be transferred to republican command. Kukharets said that in the first stage, the Guard will be formed on the basis of operative and special mobilized police units and will consist of 30,000 members. That number may rise to 50,000 depending on the situation in Ukraine and the country as a whole, Kukharets noted. (Kathy Mihalisko) NABIEV ELECTED PRESIDENT OF TAJIKISTAN. Rakhmon Nabiev, chairman of the Tajik Supreme Soviet and former first secretary of the Tajikistan Communist Party, has been elected president of Tajikistan, TadzhikTA reported on November 25. The republic's electoral commission said Nabiev received 58% of the votes cast, while his nearest rival, Davlat Khudonazarov, USSR deputy and chairman of the USSR Cinematographers' Union, who had the backing of the democratic and Islamic parties, received just over a quarter. Khudonazarov accused the republican leadership of falsifying the results and claimed he had video and photographic evidence of irregularities. (Ann Sheehy) TWO CANDIDATES REGISTERED FOR UZBEK PRESIDENCY. Two candidates have been registered for Uzbekistan's presidential elections on December 29, UzTAG-TASS reported November 25. The current president of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, was nominated by the People's Democratic Party--the successor to the Communist party, and the poet Muhhamad Salih by the Erk party, which he heads. Uzbek journalist Tahir Usman told RFE/RL on November 20 that the Birlik party had nominated its chairman Abdurahim Polatov, but that he would need to collect 60,000 signatures to back his nomination since the party (as opposed to the movement) had not yet been registered. Presumably Polatov did not manage to collect these signatures in time. (Ann Sheehy) KAZAKH PARTY BOSS CHANGES OCCUPATION. Moskovskii komsomolets on November 13 pointed out that the former second secretary of the Kazakh Communist Party, Vladislav Anufriev, who was known as "a great admirer of 'socialist ideals' and a violent opponent of the market," has become the head of Kazakhstan's largest private corporation, "rumored to have been set up on the Party's money." Anufriev is particularly unpopular with Moscow journalists because he attacked their patron, Aleksandr Yakovlev, at almost every session of the CPSU after February, 1990. (Julia Wishnevsky) BALTIC STATES BALTIC MILITARY DISTRICT RENAMED. Krasnaya zvezda on November 26 carried a presidential decree renaming the Baltic Military District the North-Western Group of Forces. This terminology is traditionally applied to Soviet military forces serving in foreign countries, such as the Western Group of Forces in Germany. Colonel General Valerii Mironov, who commanded the Baltic MD, will stay on as commander of the new Group. His headquarters was reported to be in the Latvian settlement of Adazhi. (Doug Clarke) US SENATE URGES TROOP WITHDRAWAL FROM BALTICS. The US Senate has approved a resolution urging the USSR to begin a prompt withdrawal of its military forces from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The resolution states that the continued presence of Soviet troops threatens the peace and independence of the Baltic States. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the resolution's sponsor, said that Soviet military personnel in the Baltic States "unfortunately... seem to be making themselves right at home," according to an RFE/RL correspondent's dispatch from Washington of November 25. (Dzintra Bungs) FIRST TROOPS LEAVE ESTONIA. A signal battalion attached to the Soviet Navy base at Paldiski became the first military unit to leave Estonian territory. Supreme Council State and Border Defense Department consultant Udo Helme told the RFE/RL Estonian Service on November 25 that 12 military vehicles left the signal corps base at Suurupi on November 24, drove through northern Estonia and exited at Narva that afternoon. Another unit attached to the same base is due to follow later this week. According to a September agreement between Estonia's Prime Minister Edgar Savisaar and USSR Defense Minister Shaposhnikov, paratrooper units from Voru and Viljandi were due to depart by November 3, but the Voru troops relocated to Tallinn and the Viljandi unit shows no signs of leaving. (Riina Kionka) FOR SALE: MILITARY PORT, OCEAN VIEW. Soviet military units stationed on Estonia's largest island, Saaremaa, are trying to sell the port there. State and Border Defense Department director Toomas Puura told the RFE/RL Estonian Service on November 25 that Saaremaa military commanders had informed local authorities that the port had been sold. Puura said the local leaders were not told the identity of the new owners, who are due to take possession of the property next week. (Riina Kionka) ESTONIAN GOVERNMENT: WE WON'T SELL. The Estonian government reacted sharply to the November 25 announcement that Soviet military commanders were trying to sell the Saaremaa port. The government issued a decree saying that the Soviet Defense Ministry must consult with the government before materiel is brought into or out of Estonia. Although the move was aimed at the reported sale of the Saaremaa port, there have been other recent instances of military units sending their equipment out of Estonia in preparation for withdrawal. Under the terms of the September Savisaar-Shaposhnikov agreement, most materiel is supposed to remain in Estonia. (Riina Kionka) TRADE AGREEMENTS WITH THREE REPUBLICS. Lithuanian Economics Minister Albertas Simenas returned to Lithuania on November 25 after signing trade agreements with Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, and Kyrgyzstan, Radio Lithuania reported that day. The trade will be calculated in rubles, but arrangements were made in case one of the signatory state should introduce its own currency. Lithuania will supply Tajikistan with paper and consumer goods, receiving in return metals, cotton, and agricultural machinery. Azerbaijan will send fruits, tires and oil receiving electrical equipment, washing machines, fish, and light industry products. Kyrgyzstan will supply Lithuania with wool and other light industry products worth 50 million rubles. (Saulius Girnius) VAGNORIUS IN TOKYO. Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius has arrived in Tokyo to attend a meeting of the financial leaders of the G-7 nations that will discuss their financial strategy problems and their policies in the USSR, Radio Lithuania reported on November25. The results of the meeting are likely to remain confidential; no press conference is scheduled after the meeting. Vagnorius will also hold discussions with Japanese leaders before returning to Lithuania on November 27. (Saulius Girnius) NEW PARLIAMENTARY FACTION IN LATVIA. Radio Riga announced on November 25 the formation of a new faction in the Latvian Supreme Council. The group, led by Deputy Janis Vaivods, consists of 31 deputies who were affiliated with the majority People's Front faction. The new group, calling itself the Satversme (Constitution) faction, believes that Latvia should be guided by the prewar constitution of independent Latvia, rather than by Soviet Latvian laws and decrees, and will take a stricter stand on this and related issues than the People's Front faction. The Staversme faction intends, nonetheless, to cooperate with the People's Front faction on issues of common interest. (Dzintra Bungs) PRISONER STRIKE IN LATVIA. On November22, prisoners in Riga, Jekabpils, and Jelgava prisons and detention camps started hunger strikes and job actions, BNS reported that day. It is not clear how many prisoners are participating in the protest actions. The prisoners want a review of their cases, changes in the criminal code, and better prison conditions. Radio Riga reported on November 25 that a group of Latvian Supreme Council deputies are looking into the Valmiera prison facilities; the detainees there have announced solidarity with the striking prisoners. (Dzintra Bungs) LATVIA OPENS TRADE MISSION IN TAIWAN. On November 25, Latvia opened a mission in Taipei to promote reciprocal investment, tourism, and trade, and issue visas, BNS and Western reported agencies that day. Walter Chen, head of the mission, said that Latvian Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis is expected in Taiwan in mid-December to discuss a bilateral investment guarantee pact; a Taiwanese business delegation is to visit the Baltic states in January. Despite the fact that the Baltic states established ties with China in September, John Chang, Taiwan's Deputy Foreign Minister, who visited the Baltic states earlier this month, said that Taiwan would establish trade offices in all three Baltic capitals. (Dzintra Bungs) [As of 1200 CET]
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