We are all apt to believe what the world believes about us. - George Eliot
RFE/RL Daily Report

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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