|Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith. - Christopher Fry|
No. 225, 27 November 1991
USSR--ALL-UNION AND RSFSR YELTSIN AND THE UNION TREATY. Soviet and Western media reports of November 26 and 27 confirm that the main bone of contention in the Union treaty discussions in the USSR State Council on November 25 was whether the Union should be a confederative state or merely a Union, and that it was Yeltsin who raised objections to a confederative state. In Sovetskaya Rossiya of November 26, the chairman of the Council of the Union, Konstantin Lubenchenko, said that the president of one republic he did not name offered a surprise series of amendments. In The Los Angeles Times of November 27, RSFSR Deputy Premier Gennadii Burbulis is quoted as saying that Yeltsin objected strongly to the draft when he found new elements in it. Burbulis said that Yeltsin had worked out his own draft. (Ann Sheehy) DRAFT TREATY TO BE DISCUSSED IN COUNCIL OF UNION NEXT WEEK. Lubenchenko told USSR deputies that the Council of the Union would start discussing the draft of the Union treaty early next week, TASS reported on November 26. TASS issued the latest draft of the treaty on the afternoon of November 26. This draft shows some changes compared with that published by Izvestia in its Union edition of November 26. These presumably reflect decisions made at the State Council on November 25. (Ann Sheehy) MILITARY REFORM BILL AGAIN REJECTED. The Council of the Union's committee for defense matters has again rejected a draft law on the status of servicemen prepared by the USSR Ministry of Defense, Radio Moscow reported on November 26. In a November 25 meeting, the committee decided that the draft law failed to reflect on-going changes in the country since the August coup. The draft law, which proposes maintenance of a unified armed forces, was also rejected this past summer. A new working group has reportedly been formed to resolve problems with the draft law. (StephenFoye) SOVIET-AFGHAN BORDER PROBLEMS. The press service of the USSR Border Troops has denied a report published in Pravda on November25 alleging an incursion by an armed Afghan opposition group into Tajikistan, according to Radio Rossii on November 26. The radio station reported that from November 20-25 seven intruders had been detained at the Soviet-Afghan border, and that since the beginning of this year, some 893 people had been arrested--double the number for the same period last year. (Stephen Foye) SHEVARDNADZE MEETS JAPANESE BUSINESSMEN. "Only economic reforms can alleviate the threat" of another coup, Minister of External Relations Eduard Shevardnadze said during talks with Japanese businessmen on November 26. He urged Japanese assistance in converting Soviet military industries to civilian use and in developing Soviet oilfields and agriculture. Shevardnadze stressed that the biggest task facing the MER is to "remove all obstacles" to developing relations with foreign countries, Western agencies reported on November 27. But, Shevardnadze did not make specific reference to the return of the disputed Kurile Islands to Japan. (Suzanne Crow) NEW USSR ENVOY TO IRELAND. Nikolai Kozyrev has been appointed USSR ambassador to Ireland, the Irish Foreign Ministry said on November 26. He replaces Guerman Gventsadze, one of the ambassadors recalled for questionable behavior during the coup attempt and assigned to unspecified "other work" by Gorbachev on November 19. (See Daily Report, November 21.) Kozyrev is a career diplomat with experience in the Middle East. He also served on the Soviet negotiating team for talks on withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. (Suzanne Crow) NEW INFORMATION ON RAOUL WALLENBERG PROMISED. Chairman of the All-Union Security Service, Vadim Bakatin was quoted by "TSN" on November 25 as saying that substantial information on the plight of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg is kept not in the KGB, but in the CPSU Central Committee archives. According to the official Soviet version, Wallenberg who was arrested by the Soviets in Budapest at the end of World War II, died in a Moscow prison in 1947. Recently the KGB handed over to Wallenberg's relatives the KGB archival documents, supporting this version. The documents, however, failed to satisfy those concerned with Wallenberg's fate. On November26, TASS reported that the Yeltsin government promised to help in the investigation of the case. (Vera Tolz) ACADEMICIAN ARBATOV SUGGESTS US-SOVIET INTELLIGENCE PACT. The CIA and the Soviet foreign intelligence agencies must reach an agreement on their reciprocal activities in the post Cold War period, academician Georgii Arbatov told Russian TV on November 27. The agencies must abandon covert operation techniques and stop recruiting the citizens of the other side as agents. According to Arbatov, former Chancellor of Germany Willy Brandt had pursued a positive political course, which was blocked after his personal secretary, Guenter Guillaume was exposed as an East German agent. To prevent such occurrences, the intelligence services must focus on overt analytical work, while the counter-intelligence branches must deal with verification of international treaties, said Arbatov. (Victor Yasmann) MVD ANTI-CORRUPTION CHIEF FORCED TO GO. The leadership of the USSR MVD has forced the Chief of the Sixth Administration for Combat with Corruption and Organized Crime, General Alexander Gurov, to leave the agency, reported Literaturnaya gazeta on November 27. Gurov, who is also a People's Deputy of the RSFSR, had introduced to the RSFSR Supreme Soviet a law forbidding business activity by people's deputies. The law was rejected. (See Daily Report, October17.) Gurov said that efforts to fight corruption were blocked by the fact that many people, well established politically, were connected with the criminal world or were being manipulated by it. He added that he had been offered (by Vadim Bakatin) the position of Deputy Chief of the Main Administration for Combat with Organized Crime within the newly created Interrepublic Security Service. (Victor Yasmann) RSFSR PROTOCOL WITH IRAN. The Russian Federation and Iran signed a Memorandum of Cooperation on November 26 covering political, economic, cultural and scientific cooperation. RSFSR Deputy Premier Egor Gaidar, the RSFSR's signatory to the Memorandum, said, "we want to preserve existing ties between Iran and the USSR," and described the protocol as an "important document" which would serve as the basis for developing relations between Iran and Russia, TASS reported on November 26. (Suzanne Crow) STANKEVICH ON HIS TALKS IN WASHINGTON. In an interview aired by RFE/RL Russian Service on November 22, RSFSR State Counsellor Sergei Stankevich said that he, together with Aleksandr Yakovlev and the head of Soviet foreign intelligence Evgenii Primakov, had discussed the problem of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons with the Bush administration in Washington. He pointed out that the US had objected to the creation of new nuclear states from the disintegrating USSR and feared that Soviet nuclear technologies might be transferred illegally to other states. He stressed the need to keep the Soviet military under unified control and criticized Ukraine for building an disproportionately strong army of its own. (Alexander Rahr) RSFSR KGB REORGANIZED. RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin has issued a decree on November 26, transforming the Russian KGB into an Agency of Federal Security (Agentstvo Federalnoi Besopasnosti /AFB/), Radio Moscow reported on November 27. The new director of the Agency will be the former head of the RSFSR KGB, Viktor Ivanenko. Ivanenko is a professional KGB officer who made his career in the Tyumen region. In the 1980s he worked in the central KGB apparatus and in 1991 became head of the RSFSR KGB. Vladimir Podelyakin has been appointed First Deputy Director of the AFB. (Alexander Rahr) YELTSIN ON PRICE LIBERALIZATION. RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin briefed his plenipotentiaries in Moscow on November 26. It was said to be the first such assembly since their appointment three months ago, according to Inform-TV on November 26. Yeltsin said that it was necessary to liberalize prices in December: to leave it for one or two months longer would be too late. (This contradicts previous reservations aired by, inter alia, Burbulis and Izvestia). He repeated a list of items whose prices would continue to be controlled, including fuel for heating, milk, some kinds of bread, salt, and matches. Yeltsin reckoned that retail prices would rise by a factor of 3-5. (Keith Bush) MOSCOW MAYOR CANCELS RATIONING. An unconfirmed report by Interfax of November 26 said that Moscow Mayor Gavriil Popov told city employees that day that no food coupons or other forms of rationing will be introduced in December. (He had earlier this month announced that Muscovites would be issued with ration coupons for meat, milk, butter, sausage, and eggs). Popov was also reported to have signed orders on the same day for the privatization, commencing next month, of the capital's retail stores and restaurants. No explicit explanation for the cancellation of rationing was given, and it was not clear whether the Moscow measures had been coordinated with RSFSR plans. (Keith Bush) BURBULIS MEETS RSFSR DEPUTIES. RSFSR First Deputy Premier Gennadii Burbulis met with RSFSR deputies and urged them not to hinder Yeltsin's radical reform program, Vesti reported on November 26. He appealed to the deputies not to spend their time on revising Yeltsin's decrees but to concentrate on their own sphere of legislation and adopt necessary laws for a smooth transition to the market system. Burbulis said that prices would be liberalized after demonopolization in production and distribution had taken place. He added that new decrees will be issued in the "next two days" on privatization of trade and services. (Alexander Rahr) RSFSR SUPREME SOVIET INCREASES MINIMUM WAGE. The RSFSR Supreme Soviet reportedly passed a law raising minimum wage in all sectors of the economy to 342 rubles per month, the Radio program "Novaya Volna" reported on November 26. The measure, which would take effect on December 1, will also raise student stipends and establish a minimum pension for the elderly. This minimum wage is substantially higher than the 200 ruble per month figure included in a decree issued by RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin on November 17. (Carla Thorson) UNION OF COMMUNISTS HOLDS PRESS CONFERENCE. The Union of Communists, which wants to serve as an umbrella organization to all Communist and Marxist groups set up in the RSFSR after the attempted coup, held a press conference in Moscow on November 26. The union is headed by former CPSU CC member Aleksei Prigarin, who used to be a leader of the Marxist platform in the CPSU. Prigarin said that the Union was set up on the basis of the platform. TASS quoted Prigarin as saying at the press conference that the country embarked on a wrong political course in 1987 and that his organization's main aim was to restore "soviet power" in the entire former Soviet Union. (Vera Tolz) RUTSKOI PLEADS FOR EX-COMMUNISTS. RSFSR Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi said that some CPSU members were being thrown out of their jobs despite the fact that they had given years of honest work. In an interview with Selskaya zhizn of November 26, Rutskoi said that the people responsible for firing them were acting under the influence of "the old system" with its lack of respect for human beings. Rutskoi said there could be no democracy without respect for the rights of every person--only totalitarism again, this time under the flags of democracy. (Vera Tolz) NEW PARTY SET UP IN RSFSR. Yet another party has been set up in the Russian Federation, TASS reported on November 26. Called the Republican Humanitarian Party (RHP), the organization is headed by Moscow philosopher Yurii Bokan. One of the main aims of the new party is to find a solution to problems of refugees and army draftees.(Vera Tolz) FIRST MARITIME PRIEST. Archimandrite Avgustin from St. Petersburg has become the first Russian Orthodox priest to accompany sailors on their journeys. The new position of the priest was duly recorded in his passport, according to TASS of November 23. (Oxana Antic) HANUKKAH CELEBRATED IN RSFSR. TASS reported on November 26 that minister of foreign affairs of the republic, Andrei Kozyrev, declared that the RSFSR government supported the idea of celebrating the Jewish religious holiday Hanukkah on December 1. The minister wrote in his statementthat the Russian government supports this idea which is witnessing the revival of the spiritual and moral values of all peoples in our country. (OxanaAntic) USSR--OTHER REPUBLICS KRAVVHUK HOPES FOR EARLY RECOGNITION OF UKRAINE. While the Bush administration continues to debate how to proceed if Ukraine affirms its independence in the referendum on December 1, Ukrainian Supreme Soviet chairman Leonid Kravchuk has been sounding an optimistic note. According to news agencies, he told a press conference in Kiev on November 26 that he was confident that Ukraine's citizens will vote overwhelmingly for independence and that this will persuade the United States, Canada, and Ukraine's East European neighbors not to delay their recognition of Ukraine's independence. As for Russia's reaction, Kravchuk was shown that same evening on the Vesti newscast saying that: "I don't think that if Russia does not recognize the independence of Ukraine, the latter will cease to exist, and I don't see any reasons for Russia to take such a position." Should Russia decide to declare its independence, Kravchuk added, Ukraine will promptly recognize it. (Bohdan Nahaylo) KRAVCHUK REAFFIRMS UKRAINE'S OPPOSITION TO UNION TREATY. Reiterating his opposition to any new political Union, Ukrainian Supreme Soviet chairman Leonid Kravchuk has called President Gorbachev's draft Union treaty a fraud. "I don't want to take part in the deception," the Ukrainian leader told Izvestia on November 26. "A confederation and a unitary state are incompatible, mutually exclusive things," he explained. "When are we going to stop deceiving our people?" he asked. Kravchuk also criticized Russian president Boris Yeltsin for identifying Russia with the Union and assuming that Russia should remain the "center" with "new states orbiting around it." (Bohdan Nahaylo) UKRAINIAN LAWMAKERS ANGERED BY CENTER'S "ANTI-UKRAINIAN CAMPAIGN." Irritated by what they see as President Gorbachev's statements aimed at undermining Ukraine's push for independence and a similar position taken by the central Soviet media, Ukrainian lawmakers are speaking out. Radio Kiev of November 26, for instance, cited two deputies, Larysa Skoryk and Tetyana Yekheyeva as strongly condemning the center's attempts to interfere on the eve of Ukraine's December 1 referendum on independence. In their comments, they denounced what the Ukrainian press has dubbed as the center's "anti-Ukrainian" campaign. Kravchuk himself warned in his Izvestia interview of that same day: "If someone wants through his negative statements to try to influence the outcome of the referendum, this will have precisely the opposite effect." (Bohdan Nahaylo) BELORUSSIA AND THE UNION TREATY. Meeting on November 26 in Minsk with Europarliament deputies, Belorussian Supreme Soviet chairman Stanislau Shushkevich predicted that his republic would sign the Union treaty at the end of 1991 or early next year, BelTA-TASS reported that day. He said Belorussia cannot by itself rectify the Chernobyl radiation problem or the current economic crisis. Shushkevich told the deputies, however, that he does not agree with the desire of his West European colleagues to deal only with Moscow. In connection with the recent establishment of a republican Ministry of Defense, Shushkevich reassured his guests that nuclear weapons would remain in central hands. (Kathy Mihalisko) BELORUSSIAN CP CANNOT BE RESUSCITATED--YET. As reported on November 26 by BelTA-TASS, Mikalai Ihnatovich, the General Procurator of Belorussia, has ruled that the temporary suspension of Belorussian Communist Party activities cannot be lifted without a special Supreme Soviet resolution. Nonetheless, Ihnatovich gave the green light to a proposed congress of the Initiative Committee for the Renewal of Communist Party Activities, which is set to take place in early December. Ihnatovich said that the congress must be considered legal, although participants must not use the funds or facilities of the suspended CP. (Kathy Mihalisko) CALL FOR A CRISIS ASSEMBLY OF ALL BELORUSSIAN FORCES. The United Democratic Party of Belorussia has called for the convening of an assembly of all political, social, religious, and other groups in the republic that are of liberal orientation, BelTA-TASS said on November 26. The goal would be to work out a common program for the transformation of Belorussian society that would incorporate but not be limited to the ideals of national rebirth. (Kathy Mihalisko) UKRAINIAN CURRENCY DUE SOON. Oleksandr Savchenko, the deputy director of the State Bank of Ukraine, told G-7 financial leaders in Tokyo on November 26 that coupons will come into circulation in the next two months that will function as Ukrainian money. Elaborating on the plan in a TASS interview that day, Savchenko added that in six months the coupons will be equal to the ruble. At the end of a certain period, a financial reform will be carried out that will see the disappearance of the ruble and the introduction of the new official monetary unit, the hryvna. (Kathy Mihalisko) AZERBAIJAN SUPSOV ABOLISHES NAGORNO-KARABAKH'S AUTONOMY . . . Meeting in special session on November 26, the Azerbaijan Supreme Soviet voted unanimously to abolish the autonomous status of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast in response to popular demand for retaliation against Armenia, Western agencies reported the same day. The name of Stepanakert (the NKAO capital) was changed to Khankendi. USSR People's Deputy Galina Starovoitova is quoted by today's New York Times as calling for the deployment of UN peace keeping troops to prevent full-scale war in the Transcaucasus. (Liz Fuller) . . . AND HANDS OVER POWER TO NATIONAL COUNCIL. The Azerbaijani parliament further voted to transfer its powers to the National Council, which was created a month ago at the insistence of the Azerbaijani Popular Front. Half of its 100 members are opposition representatives and half members of the republican leadership. The National Council has taken over the remaining Supreme Soviet agenda. (Liz Fuller) ARMENIAN, AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENTS TO MEET IN MOSCOW. The Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Levon Ter-Petrossyan and Ayaz Mutalibov, are to fly to Moscow today for talks with Soviet President Gorbachev and other republican leaders aimed at preventing an escalation of tensions over NagornoKarabakh, Western news agencies reported on November 26. (Liz Fuller) SOUTH OSSETIA ORDERS GENERAL MOBILIZATION. Russian radio reported on November 26 that the South Ossetian oblast soviet has ordered the mobilization of all men aged 18-60 in concern over a rumored imminent attack by Georgians on the region. Georgian military units equipped with APCs, tanks, rocket launchers and artillery were reported to be converging on the oblast capital of Tskhinvali. (Liz Fuller) BAKU IMPOSES RESTRICTIONS ON SALE OF FOOD AND CONSUMER GOODS. TASS reported on November 26 that the Baku City Soviet has decided to limit sales of food and consumer goods to holders of a Baku residence permit as from December 1 in order to prevent the export of such goods to other parts of the USSR. (Liz Fuller) ROMANIANS IN NORTHERN BUKOVINA FORM POLITICAL MOVEMENT. Romanian community representatives in northern Bukovina have set up a "Christian-Democratic Alliance of Romanians in Ukraine," Rompres reported on November 26. The inaugural conference in Chernovtsy defined the Alliance as "a national movement for the protection of the legitimate rights and freedoms of Romanians in northern Bukovina and other parts of Ukraine" (the other parts being southern Bessarabia and Ticevo raion in Transcarpathia). The Alliance will "defend human rights in keeping with internationally recognized standards." The Alliance endorsed the recent appeals by Romanian cultural societies in northern Bukovina for abstention from Ukraine's impending presidential elections and referendum on independence. (Vladimir Socor) BALTIC STATES LATVIAN GOVERNMENT REORGANIZED. On November 19 and 20 the Latvian Supreme Council approved the nominees of Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis for the following positions in the reorganized government: Minister of Economic Reforms Arnis Kalnins; Minister of Industry and Energy Resources Aivars Millers; Minister of Foreign Trade Edgars Zausajevs; Minister of Maritime Affairs Andrejs Dandzbergs; Minister of Forestry Kazimirs Slakota; Minister of Welfare Teodors Enins; Minister of Internal Affairs Ziedonis Cevers; Minister of Defense Talavs Jundzis; and Minister of State Janis Dinevics. According to BNS of November 22, the new appointments would streamline the government structure and ensure closer cooperation between the government and the Supreme Council. (Dzintra Bungs) LAW ON RETURNING TO OWNERS PROPERTY IN LATVIAN CITIES. On November 20 the Latvian Supreme Council adopted a law regulating the return of land and buildings, nationalized by the Soviet regime, to their rightful owners. Claims of ownership must be submitted to the Latvian authorities by June 20, 1992, reported BNS of November 22. (Dzintra Bungs) PARTICIPATION IN FAILED COUP INVESTIGATED IN LATVIA. On November 21 the Latvian Supreme Council heard the report of Deputy Andris Ligotnis, chairman of the commission investigating those suspected of complicity in the failed August coup. BNS reported on November 22 that initial results suggest that members of Ravnopravie, the pro-Moscow oriented minority faction of the Supreme Council, were not directly involved in criminal actions against the state. (Dzintra Bungs) VAGNORIUS IN JAPAN. Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius during his visit to Tokyo met with various Japanese government and business officials on November 26 and 27, Western agencies reported on November 27. Foreign Minister Michio Watanabe evaded Vagnorius' request for an agreement on protecting investments by replying that strengthening mutual understanding between the two nations should come first. Watanabe invited seven guests from Lithuania to visit Japan while Vagnorius urged Japan to send a mission to Lithuania to study investment possibilities. (Saulius Girnius) VAISVILA TELEGRAM TO USSR DEFENSE MINISTER. Lithuanian Deputy Prime Minister Zigmas Vaisvila sent a telegram to USSR Defense Minister Evgeniy Shaposhnikov noting that he had received information that the Soviet military was planning to redeploy the surface-to-air missile forces defending the Ignalina atomic power plant, Radio Lithuania reported on November 25. He asked that due to the importance of ensuring the security of the plant such redeployments should be made only by the special agreement of the Lithuanian government. He also urged the USSR to speed up its negotiations with Lithuania since the undefined status of the Soviet military in Lithuania was impeding the solution of social and everyday-life problems of its servicemen. (Saulius Girnius) AIDS IN LITHUANIA. Head of the Lithuanian AIDS Prophylaxis Center Saulius Cuplinksas told the VOA Lithuanian Service on November 26 that there are 10 people in Lithuania known to be infected with the AIDS virus (two of whom are suffering from the disease). They range in age from 19 to 50. He admitted that he did not know how many people in Lithuania had the AIDS virus, but the Lithuanian Mathematics Institute estimates that about 100people have been infected. (Saulius Girnius)
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