|Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead|
No. 229, 04 December 1991
USSR--ALL-UNION AND INTER-REPUBLICAN TOPICS AGREEMENT REACHED ON PAYMENT OF FOREIGN DEBTS? During its first day of deliberations on December 3, the Council of the Heads of Government of the Member States of the Economic Community reportedly reached agreement in principle on the payment of Soviet foreign debts and on sharing Soviet assets, TASS and Interfax reported that day. A suggested quota for the RSFSR, for instance, was 61% of both the Soviet foreign debts and of Soviet assets such as gold, diamonds, hard currency, foreign investments, and foreign debts to the former USSR. Experts were continuing to work on the quotas; union and republican officials were scheduled to meet again on December 4. (Keith Bush) USSR SUPREME SOVIET DEFIES YELTSIN AGREEMENT. Deputies in the lower chamber of the USSR Supreme Soviet approved on December3 USSR Gosbank credits of 90.5 billion rubles to cover the union budget deficit, Western agencies reported that day. This appears to amount to a rejection of the agreement reached on November30 between USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev and RSFSR President Yeltsin whereby Russia assumed responsibility for the union budget through the end of 1991 (see Daily Report, December 2). The assembly called on the USSR State Council to agree on a union budget for 1992 by December10--a tall order under the circumstances. (Keith Bush) GORBACHEV PLEADS FOR UNION TREATY TO BE SIGNED. In an appeal to parliamentarians in the Soviet Union dated December 3, which he also read on Soviet Television that day, Gorbachev pleaded with the remaining republics not to leave the Soviet Union. He warned that the disintegration of the Soviet Union would bring a threat of war and be a catastrophe for the world. This is not the first time Gorbachev has addressed the nation on the Union treaty, and his arguments for signing it were all familiar, but there was a greater sense of urgency in his remarks, though he made no direct reference to Ukraine. (Ann Sheehy) USSR SUPREME SOVIET DISCUSSES UNION TREATY. Although the chances of a Union treaty being signed have become more remote since Ukraine voted for independence, both chambers of the USSR Supreme Soviet discussed the latest draft on December 3. Deputies in the Council of the Union agreed a political union was vital but noted contradictions in the text, which they said were unacceptable in a document that was to replace the constitution, TASS reported on December 3. In the debate in the Council of the Republics, Kyrgyzstan and RSFSR deputies said that the formulation "confederative democratic state" was nonsense, and Sergei Shakhrai, speaking for the RSFSR delegation, called for a confederation, Radio Mayak reported on December 3. The Council of the Republics approved the draft in principle and appealed to the republican parliaments to debate it as soon as possible. (Ann Sheehy RUBLE FALLS FURTHER. In its second day of (almost) free trading, the ruble fell in value against the dollar on December 3, Western agencies reported that day. Vneshekonombank was said to be buying the dollar for 90 rubles (against 80 on Monday), and selling for 99 rubles. TASS of December 3 reported that Vneshekonombank had resumed the sale of foreign currency to Soviet enterprises and citizens after suspending it last week, but this was disputed by Western agencies. (Keith Bush) PAYMENT OF BONUSES DELAYED INDEFINITELY. USSR Gosbank Deputy Chairman Arnold Voilukov told Central Television on December 3 that the payment of traditional December bonuses (the "13th salary") to employees of state-run companies will be delayed indefinitely. He attributed this to the union budget crisis and a shortage of money. [On November 30, RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin declared that Russia would underwrite the payment of state employees' salaries, but did not mention their bonuses]. (Keith Bush) SOVIET INTERNATIONAL RAIL SERVICE MAY CEASE. Both Vneshekonombank and republican authorities have stopped paying foreign currency for international train services, Western agencies reported on December 3. The chief of Soviet railways' passenger transport department, Valery Shatayev, told Soviet TV that tickets are not being sold for international trains after January 1, 1992 and all international traffic will halt if the freeze on payments is not lifted. (Carla Thorson) DEFENSE SPENDING CUTS REPORTED. The Soviet Defense Ministry claims that spending on weapons and military technology procurement has been reduced by 23% in 1991, and that this rate of reduction will continue in 1992, Radio Moscow reported on December 3. The broadcast also quoted Defense Ministry figures claiming that the production of long-range missiles had declined by 40%, tank production by 66%, and warplane production by 50%. (Stephen Foye) FUEL SHORTAGE FORCES RECALL OF MEDITERRANEAN SQUADRON. The Black Sea Fleet has been ordered to recall all warships and support vessels from the Mediterranean according to an article in Krasnaya zvezda of December 4. The pullout--which does not apply to submarines--is necessary because of a shortage of fuel and lubricants brought about by the breakdown of the centralized distribution system. (Doug Clarke) WILL HE? Gorbachev can stay in office for only two more weeks at most, Ivan Laptev is quoted as saying (MTI, Budapest, in English, December 2). Laptev, former chief editor of Izvestia and now a leader of the Movement for Democratic Reforms which is to hold its founding congress on December 14 and 15, said the Ukrainian referendum "cast a final blow" to Gorbachev's "shaky" position: since the Union can no longer be held together, Gorbachev has no further role to play. (Elizabeth Teague) . . . OR WON'T HE? Meanwhile, Gorbachev's spokesman Andrei Grachev told a Moscow news conference that Gorbachev had not set any ultimatum for the signing of the Union Treaty and had not threatened to resign if the signing did not take place (TASS, December 3). Gorbachev has made more threats to resign during the past six and a half years than most Kremlinologists can remember. (Elizabeth Teague) USSR--REPUBLICS AND SUCCESSOR STATES RUSSIA RECOGNIZES UKRAINE. A statement issued by RSFSR President Yeltsin recognizes the independence of Ukraine "in accordance with the democratic expression of the will of its people." The statement was issued by TASS on December 3. (Roman Solchanyk) GORBACHEV ON UKRAINIAN REFERENDUM. According to Gorbachev's press secretary Andrei Grachev, the Soviet president thinks that Ukraine's referendum vote "provides additional freedom of activity" for its participation in the proposed Union of Sovereign States, TASS reported on December 3. Gorbachev, said Grachev, believes that the possibilities for signing a new political union are "totally realistic." He also repeated Gorbachev's earlier statement that Ukraine's referendum should not be interpreted as tantamount to a desire for secession from the Soviet Union. If the referendum question had been formulated differently, said Grachev, there would have been a different result. (Roman Solchanyk) SLAVIC SUMMIT IN MINSK. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Anatolii Zlenko told journalists thatleaders of Ukraine, Russia, and Belorussia will meet in Minsk on Saturday to discuss international problems and their future foreign policy, Radio Kiev and Western news agencies reported on December 3. Zlenko said that Ukraine's first priority is relations with Russia. He also said that US President George Bush was the first western leader to call Leonid Kravchuk, Ukraine's president-elect, to congratulate him onthe referendum vote and his election. (RomanSolchanyk) ZLENKO ON CONVENTIONAL ARMS. At his December 3 press conference in Kiev, Zlenko outlined the main concepts of his country's military and security policies. As relayed that day by Radio Kiev, Zlenko stated that Ukraine will proceed with the creation of its own armed forces and National Guard in accordance with "social-political realities" and only by means of consultations and negotiations with other sovereign states and the USSR Defense Ministry. The process will take into account the CFE treaty, affirmed Zlenko. (Kathy Mihalisko) UKRAINE WILL HONOR USSR NUCLEAR COMMITMENTS. As summarized by Radio Kiev, Zlenko also emphasized that Ukraine will take part in the implementation of all nuclear arms reduction treaties, including the 1991 START agreement, and that its ultimate goal is to be a neutral, non-nuclear state. The foreign minister maintained that Ukraine "does not have and does not wish to have control over the nuclear weapons on its territory,"adding that that control should be under the joint command of Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belorussia. The Los Angeles Times reported on December 4,however, that some Kiev-based diplomats noted that Zlenko neglected to mention Ukraine's signing ofthe nuclear non-proliferation treaty. (Kathy Mihalisko) NATO OUTLINES UKRAINE'S COMMITMENTS. In a statement released on December 3 after a special meeting in Brussels, NATO Secretary-General Manfred Woerner said that the Western allies expect Ukraine to sort out its relations with Moscow and other republics peacefully. As reported that day by Western new agencies, Woerner said NATO expects Ukraine to commit itself to a non-nuclear policy and adhere to the non-proliferation treaty. Ukraine must also respect other international agreements, such as human rights and European borders, the statement added. (Kathy Mihalisko) RUSSIAN OIL INDUSTRY ON THE BRINK. The president of Russia's Oil and Gas Corporation, Lev Churilov, told Pravda on December 3 that the Soviet oil industry is on the brink of bankruptcy. He forecast that oil extraction this year will total 500-505 million tons, down from 626 million tons in 1988. Churilov said that the country will hardly be able to satisfy its domestic requirements in 1992, and blamed what he called an unreasonable price policy for the crisis. The producer price for oil, according to Churilov, is now twelve times lower than that for mineral water. The RSFSR Economics Ministry has fixed a "starting price" of 400 rubles per ton of oil effective in 1992. (Keith Bush) MOSCOW MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL DISAGREE OVER PRIVATIZATION. The Presidium of the Moscow City Council asked Moscow Mayor Gavriil Popov to stop the planned privatization of trade, services, and restaurants which Popov had authorized last week, Radio Moscow reported on December 3. Later that day, Popov announced that his decision on privatization was not affected by opposition from the City Council, and that the city government had already received applications to privatize about 3,000 Moscow stores (about half of all stores in the city). When asked about rumors of his resignation, Popov responded that, like any political figure, he did not exclude the possibility. (Carla Thorson) "600 SECONDS" TO BE RESTORED. The management of St. Petersburg TV has lifted the ban on "600 Seconds," moderated by controversial reporter Aleksandr Nevzorov, TASS reported December 3. The ban was introduced on December 1 (see Daily Report, December 4). TASS said that the restoration of the program was due to demonstrations in defense of Nevzorov held in St. Petersburg and Moscow. The agency also revealed that many of Nevzorov's supporters sent telegrams to Yeltsin.One of the telegrams, according to TASS, was signed by Russian nationalist writer Vasilii Belov, who said that by banning "600 Seconds" the television authorities "buried freedom of speech in Russia." (Vera Tolz) UNION OF COSSACKS OF VOLGA AND URAL FORMED. A constituent congress in Samara set up a Union of Cossacks of the Volga and Ural on December 2, Moscow radio reported the same day. The Union embraces Cossack communities along the Volga from Astrakhan to Ioshkar-Ola, the capital of the Mari republic, and two Cossack hosts, the Ural and the Orenburg. One of the chief aims of the Union is to preserve the sovereignty and integrity of Russia in its historical frontiers. Colonel Gusev, a deputy of the Samara oblast soviet, was elected ataman. The inclusion of the Ural Cossacks, whoare concentrated in Kazakhstan, in the Union is bound to cause concern in Kazakhstan. (Ann Sheehy) GAMSAKHURDIA DECLARES SOUTH OSSETIAN MOBILIZATION DECISION VOID. Georgian President Zviad Gamskahurdia ruled on December 3 that last week's call by the South Ossetian oblast soviet for a general mobilization is void; Gamsakhurdia further ordered the Georgian Procurator to take legal measures against those who created the oblast parliament, Interfax reported on December 3. (Liz Fuller) NIYAZOV IN TURKEY. TASS and Western agencies reported on December 2 that Turkmen president Saparmurad Niyazov has begun a visit to Turkey. Niyazov was quoted as saying on his arrival that Turkmenistan is counting on the "fraternal assistance of the Turkish people" in instituting a market economy in the republic. Other Turkic republics have looked to Turkey for financial help in marketization, and the strain on the Turkish economy of trying to accommodate such requests could become severe. (Bess Brown) EASTERN EUROPE BALTIC STATES GORBACHEV CRITICIZES INDEPENDENCE, BALTIC CITIZENSHIP MOVES. In his TV address on December 3 the Soviet president warned of the imminent collapse of the USSR, Western agencies reported that day. Marshalling arguments for maintaining the integrity of the USSR, he implied again that the Baltic States are discriminating against their minorities; he spoke vaguely of Baltic moves to deny state citizenship to residents of other nationalities and said this should serve as a lesson to other republics seeking independence. Noting that letters are pouring in from ethnic Russians in the Baltics who fear they will be denied citizenship, Gorbachev said that these people are calling on Moscow to defend them. (Dzintra Bungs) REACTION TO UKRAINE. On December 3 Chairman of the Lithuanian Supreme Council Vytautas Landsbergis sent a telegram to Leonid Kravchuk congratulating him on his election as President of Ukraine and expressing hope for good relations, Radio Lithuania reported that day. He invited Kravchuk to visit Lithuania. At a briefing on December 3 National Defense Minister Audrius Butkevicius noted that the proclamation of independence might cause instability as Ukraine might have territorial problems with neighboring republics. Such instability might complicate Lithuania's integration into the West European security system if the West shies away from major commitments on Baltic security. Estonia will wait to recognize Ukrainian independence until official referendum results are published. Justice Minister Juri Raidla told BNS on December 2 that "state independence may be recognized only on the basis of authentic information." (Saulius Girnius & Riina Kionka) MIGRATION TO LATVIA DECLINING? The Latvian State Statistics Committee reported that during the first nine months of this year 10,809 persons came to settle in Latvia, while 17,780 left Latvia, resulting in a population decline of 6,971, according to Latvijas jaunatne of November 20. Broader conclusions should not be drawn from this data, which deals only with the civilian population, and does not provide information about the movement of Soviet military and MVD troops and their dependents to and from Latvia. In 1990 more civilians left than settled in Latvia, but, because of the arrival of Soviet troops and their families, the population grew as a result of migration. (Dzintra Bungs) NEWSPAPER STRIKE IN LITHUANIA. Representatives of five newspapers (Respublika, Tiesa, Valstieciu laikrastis, Vakarines naujienos, and Lietuvos rytas) met with Lithuanian government officials on December 3 and 4, the VOA Lithuanian Service reported. The newspapers called for a written response to demands dealing with the nationalization of papers that had belonged to the Communist Party and a decrease in what they deemed excessive taxation. No written response has yet been given. The newspapers, except for Lietuvos rytas, were not published on December 4 and will not appear until they receive a written response. Deputy editor of Respublika, Rytis Taraila, said that the government has been pressured by some right-wing parliament deputies not to respond to the demands by the newspapers. (Saulius Girnius)
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