|To live is so startling, it leaves little time for anything else. - Emily Dickinson|
No. 231, 06 December 1991
USSR--ALL-UNION AND INTER-REPUBLICAN TOPICS GORBACHEV AND YELTSIN ON THE UNION. The USSR and RSFSR presidents, Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin, met behind closed doors yesterday to discuss the future of the Union Treaty, TASS reported December 5. Gorbachev told Soviet Central TV that day that, like Yeltsin, he cannot imagine a Union without Ukraine and that he is confident that the majority of Ukrainians share his view. He asserted that his role is now more important than ever before. Yeltsin told the same TV program that he has little hope of a new Union because of Ukraine's position. He indicated that he favors a Slavic economic union without the Central Asian republics. (Alexander Rahr) INTER-REPUBLICAN ECONOMIC COORDINATION. Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk is to meet with Yeltsin and Belorussian Supreme Soviet Chairman Stanislau Shushkevich in Minsk on December 7 to coordinate economic policy, on Western agencies reported December 5. Kravchuk said that Russia's plans for freeing prices will dominate the discussion; the three are also expected to explore the possibility of forming an economic community outside the present all-Union structures. The three, plus Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev, are scheduled to meet with Gorbachev on December 9. (Keith Bush) COUP RUMORS AGAIN SWEEP MOSCOW. Dissension within the Soviet armed forces caused by abject living conditions, the breakdown of the economy, and political disintegration has once again raised the spectre of a military-backed coup in the Soviet Union, Western newspapers reported on December 5 and 6. Warnings of a potential putsch voiced recently by Gorbachev, Eduard Shevardnadze, and Anatolii Sobchak, have, perhaps not unintentionally, raised tensions further. According to The Times of December 5, NATO officials attending a recent conference in Moscow said that morale among junior and middle-level officers had plunged, and that liberal officers were concerned over the failure of the current military leadership to sweep hard-liners out of top command positions. (Stephen Foye) FINGERS POINTED AT RUTSKOI. According to The Washington Post of December 6, suspicions have focused increasingly on RSFSR Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi as a potential leader of a hard-line coup. In what the newspaper described as "an extraordinary front-page article" in Izvestia on December 5, Rutskoi reportedly dismissed the coup rumors but suggested that "you cannot endlessly play with people who bear arms" because it "may end in disaster." His remarks echo those of Major General Leonid Kozhendaev, who hinted strongly in Komsomol'skaya pravda on November30 that a faction within the General Staff was losing patience with the Soviet political elite (see Daily Report of December 2). (Stephen Foye) CONTROL OVER NUCLEAR WEAPONS. Control over Soviet nuclear weapons formerly was shared by the USSR President, the USSR Defense Minister, and the chief of the General Staff. According to Informatsionnoe voennoe agentsvo "Krasnaya zvezda" (November 18-24 Daily Report), in the aftermath of the putsch, the Center agreed to hand over the USSR Defense Minister's "black briefcase" containing nuclear launch codes to Army General Konstantin Kobets, who at that time was de facto Russian Defense Minister. (Alexander Rahr) YELTSIN APPEALS TO HEADS OF ALL CONFESSIONS. On December 5, the sixtieth anniversary of the destruction of the Church of Christ the Saviour in Moscow, Yeltsin issued an appeal to "heads of confessions" and to believers. In the appeal, Yeltsin said that the hearts of millions of Orthodox believers are filled with sadness because that church had been one of the largest Orthodox churches in the world, and its destruction symbolized the rude suppression of believers. The Russian President expressed his gratitude to the clergy and believers for their contribution to the reconstruction of humanity and morals. (Oxana Antic) USSR--REPUBLICS AND SUCCESSOR STATES KRAVCHUK INAUGURATED UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT. Leonid Kravchuk yesterday was inaugurated as President of Ukraine at a ceremonialsession of the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet, Radio Kiev, TASS, and Western news agencies reported on December 5. Kravchuk's speech outlined the domestic and foreign policies of "the new European state." Kravchuk said that Ukraine intends to guarantee human rights and integrate its economy with the economies of the former republics, with priority given to private land ownership, conversion of military industries, introduction of a nationalcurrency, and a system of social guarantees. He also stressed equal rights for all national minorities and is prepared to cooperate with all countries of the world and maintain friendly relations with all of the former republics, especially Russia. (RomanSolchanyk) UKRAINE REPUDIATES 1922 UNION TREATY. The Ukrainian Supreme Soviet yesterday annulled the 1922 treaty that created the USSR and all the constitutional acts of the USSR that followed, Radio Kiev and TASS reported on December 5. The repudiation of the treaty was announced in a message adopted by the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet to all parliaments and peoples of the world, outlining Ukraine's domestic and foreign policies. The Supreme Soviet also chose Ivan Plyushch to replace Kravchuk as Chairman of the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet. Plyushch was previously First Deputy Chairman. (Roman Solchanyk) KRAVCHUK (AGAIN) SAYS UKRAINE WILL NOT SIGN UNION TREATY. Ukraine's newly elected President once again said that he will not sign the Union treaty, Western news agencies reported on December 5. Kravchuk's statement was made during his first press conference after being elected President. He also stressed that relations with Russia are a top priority for Ukraine and that he will seek economic cooperation with the RSFSR and Belorussia. (Roman Solchanyk) RUSSIAN PRICE LIBERALIZATION DELAYED. RSFSR Deputy Prime Minister Egor Gaidar told the Interstate Economic Committee on December 5 that Russia has decided to put off freeing prices untilnew tax legislation has been prepared and other republics have had time to prepare for the consequences of Russia's price liberalization, TASS and Western agencies reported that day. [Gaidar has consistently maintained that tax reform must precede price liberalization]. December 16 had been mentioned as the date when subsidies would be removed and most prices decontrolled. Amendments to the tax system are scheduled to be discussed by the RSFSR Supreme Soviet today, focussing on a proposed value added tax of 28%. (Keith Bush) DISARRAY IN RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT CONTINUES. Gaidar has called for the resignation of RSFSR Vice President Rutskoi after the latter's bitter criticism of Yeltsin's reform plans, according to a report by an RFE/RL Russian Service correspondent in Moscow on December 5. Rutskoi had complained that Yeltsin's reforms are too heavy a burden for the Russian population. Radio Moscow reported on December 6 that Gaidar has been appointed chairman of the newly created RSFSR Currency-Economic Council. (Alexander Rahr) MOSCOW'S FOOD SITUATION "CRITICAL." According to Izvestia of December 5, "Moscow's food crisis can reach catastrophic dimensions in the next 10-15 days." And Gorbachev told CTV that evening that "Moscow is in a critical situation regarding food." He blamed other republics for cutting off supplies, singling out Lithuania as being responsible for the capital's meat shortage. Gorbachev said that he and Yeltsin had agreed on emergency measures to alleviate the situation in Moscow, including pressure on nearby regions to deliver agreed supplies and the importation of food. Nezavisimaya gazeta on December 4 claimed that the imports of foodstuffs in 1991 had been only half of the 1990 level. (Keith Bush) MILLION UNEMPLOYED IN MOSCOW? The director of Moscow's job placement agency, Igor Zaslavskii, told Moskovskii komsomolets of December 4 that up to one million Moscow residents may be jobless next year, Western agencies reported that day. This is roughly twice as high as Zaslavskii's projection made in October and would mean an unemployment rate of about 20%. One of the main factors was the impending closure of about 80 union government ministries and agencies. Currently, 43,406 persons are registered as unemployed in Moscow. (Keith Bush) MOSCOW CITY COUNCIL CANCELS PRIVATIZATION PLAN. The Moscow City Council cancelled an order by Mayor Gavriil Popov to privatize trade, services and restaurants, TASS reported on December 4. The City Council also reportedly overturned Popov's decision to privatize housing. The council called on Popov to draft a privatization plan in accordance with existing law and design a plan which takes into greater account the population's social problems. Popov had earlier rejected the Council's request to halt privatization in Moscow.(Carla Thorson) RSFSR GOVERNMENT AND TRADE UNIONS AGREEMENT ON MINERS. The Russian government and the independent trade unions have signed an agreement on improving working conditions and wages for miners, Radio Moscow reported on December 5. Trud reported that the working week for miners working underground must not exceed 30 hours and for surface workers, 40 hours. Overtime will be permitted only in extraordinary cases covered by Russian labor laws, and minimum wages for miners will be almost tripled by the beginning of 1992. (Carla Thorson) KUZBASS RAIL WORKERS THREATEN STRIKE. Railway workers in the Kuzbass region of Siberia have threatened to launch warning strikes beginning on December 15, RFE/RL's Russian Service reported on December 5. The workers are demanding higher wages and better living conditions. The chairman of the Kemerovo regional council, Aman Tuleyev, has written to Yeltsin asking him to intervene. Tuleyev said a delay in addressing workers' demands could mean a railway strike which would affect coal deliveries to other parts of the country. (Carla Thorson) "MILITARY-POLITICAL PUTSCH" IN "DNIESTER SSR." Citing government sources in Kishinev and reports from eastern Moldavia, Radio Bucharest reported on December 4 and 5 that a "political-military putsch" is underway in the would-be "Dniester SSR." Lt. General Gennadii Yakovlev, identified as commander of the 14th Army stationed there, has accepted appointment as Chief of the Directorate for Defense of the self-styled "Dniester SSR," which assumes political authority over the troops. Yakovlev has been tasked to turn armaments and other property of the USSR Ministry of Defense in the area over to the would-be "Dniester" republic, which opposes Moldavian independence. A number of USSR military units in the area recently have held assemblies and passed resolutions supporting the "Dniester SSR" and warning that they would oppose possible orders to withdraw from Moldavia. (Vladimir Socor) MORE ON DNIESTER SITUATION. Nicolae Chirtoaca, Director General of Moldavia's Department for Military Affairs, was cited by Radio Bucharest on December 5 as saying that the "putsch" in eastern Moldavia "may degenerate into civil war." Joint groups of armed "Dniester SSR" guardsmen and uniformed Soviet military personnel took over buildings of Moldavian police and other law enforcement organs in several towns on the left bank of the Dniester on December 4 and5. The military command in Kishinev was reported to have disclaimed involvement and to have assured the Moldavian government of its continued loyalty to the USSR Ministry of Defense. (Vladimir Socor) DNIESTER, GAGAUZ "REPUBLICS" VOTING MARRED BY FORCE. The would-be Dniester SSR and Gagauz SSR in eastern and southern Moldavia held on December 1 self-styled presidential elections and referenda on joining the "community of sovereign states" successor to the USSR. Final returns have not yet been made public. Meanwhile, a high official of the Moldavian Ministry of Internal Affairs told RFE/RL that armed Russian "workers' detachments" and uniformed Soviet troops blocked access into the predominantly Russian towns where the elections were being held and were also sent into Moldavian villages to intimidate residents into voting. Similar displays of force were reported from Gagauz areas. Officers in command of units blocking bridges over the Dniester told Moldavian officials that the units were subordinated to the "Dniester SSR." (Vladimir Socor) "DNIESTER SSR" TO REPEAT REFERENDUM IN MOLDAVIAN VILLAGES. The self-styled "Dniester SSR Supreme Soviet" has decided to replace village soviet chairmen in the region's Moldavian villages and to repeat in those villages the "Dniester SSR"'s referendum on joining the USSR, TASS and Moldovapres reported on December 5. That referendum, held on December 1, was boycotted by the Moldavian villages, in which close to 40% of the area's population resides. The "Dniester SSR" leaders have claimed a big "yes" vote but have only released "preliminary" returns. The Moldavian parliament has declared the exercise null and void. (Vladimir Socor) BELORUSSIAN UPDATE. US Secretary of State James Baker has added Belorussia to the itinerary of his trip to the former USSR in mid-December. After visits to Moscow and Kiev, Baker will fly to Minsk on December 18, the State Department announced on December 4. A new constitution for the Republic of Belarus' may soon be adopted. Radio Moscow reported on December 4 that it would provide for a popularly elected Belorussian president. The term "Supreme Soviet" would be abandoned in favor of the name Soym; the Soym would be a standing parliament of 160 full-time deputies. The Belorussian Cabinet of Ministers has ruled that only residents of the republic are entitled to buy goods in Belorussian shops, according to Radio Moscow on December 5. Coupons and lists of residents will be used to help enforce the ruling and buyers will have to produce passports. (Kathleen Mihalisko) TWO REPUBLICS REPRESENTED AT ISLAMIC CONFERENCE MEETING. TASS reported on December 5 that Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan were sending representatives to the Islamic Conference Organization meeting opening in Senegal on December 9. Invitations to the meeting were extended to several republics by Iranian Foreign Minister A. Velayati during his recent visit to traditionally Muslim regions of the former USSR. The Azerbaijani and Kazakh representatives will participate in the conference as observers. According to the report, Tajikistan's Muslims refused to attend the meeting. (Bess Brown) DEFEATED CANDIDATE DECIDES NOT TO DEMAND REPEAT ELECTION. The November 30 issue of Slovo Kyrgyzstana reported that Davlat Khudonazarov, the presidential candidate of the combined non-Communist opposition in Tajikistan who was defeated in the election on November 24, has decided not to demand that the election be repeated. The election was won by former Communist Party chief Rakhman Nabiev, candidate of the renamed CP. Khudonazarov had charged that there were irregularities in the election, but said he would not to demand a repeat because of the desperate economic condition of the republic. (BessBrown) EASTERN EUROPE BALTIC STATES BALTIC LEADERS IN PARIS. On December 5 Lithuanian and Estonian Supreme Council Chairmen Vytautas Landsbergis and Arnold Ruutel, accompanied by their foreign ministers, arrived in Paris; their Latvian counterpart, Anatolijs Gorbunovs, should arrive on December 6, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. President Francois Mitterrand will host the three in the Elysee Palace when they sign the CSCE Paris Charter on December 6. Foreign Minister Roland Dumas will give his three counterparts keys to their temporary embassies; the Baltic states are trying to recover their former embassies that have been taken over by the USSR. (Saulius Girnius) BALTIC STATES JOINING UNIDO AND ILO. On December 5 the International Labor Organization announced that Latvia had become its 151st member state, Western agencies reported that day. Lithuania was admitted as the 155th member state of the United Nations Industrial Development Organizations, a Vienna-based specialized agency promoting industrial progress in developing countries, an RFE/RL correspondent in New York said. (Saulius Girnius) NEWSPAPER STRIKE IN LITHUANIA. The five major Lithuanian newspapers that began a protest strike on December 4 plan to issue a joint newspaper Laisva spauda on December 6. They also intend to resume normal publication on December 10, RFE/RL's Lithuanian Service reported on December 5. Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius told RFE/RL that there are no plans to nationalize the papers that had refused to accept financial help from the government. Deputy editor of Lietuvos rytas Vidas Rachlevicius said that the government should simply return the money that it had, in effect, seized from the papers by raising postal rates after they had already set subscription prices. The papers feel that the government is trying to intimidate them, but the authorities deny this. (Saulius Girnius) NEW LATVIAN-RUSSIAN ACCORDS. Radio Riga reported on December 6 that on December 5 Latvian and Russian delegations had discussed in Moscow future relations between their two states. Gorbunovs and Yeltsin signed two accords: a protocol on guidelines for future relations and an economic accord for 1992. Radio Riga, noting the interstate accord that Yeltsin and Gorbunovs signed on January 13 but which the RSFSR Supreme Soviet has still not ratified, did not explain how all these agreements fit together. (Dzintra Bungs) USSR MILITARY SLOW TO FULFILL ACCORDS WITH LATVIA. On December 4, Latvian Defense Minister Talavs Jundzis met with USSR Defense Ministry officials in Riga. The Soviets offered advice and training that the Soviet forces in Latvia could provide for establishing a defense network in Latvia. Jundzis responded by pointing out that Latvia wants the Soviet forces to leave Latvia and that the Soviet ministry is not fulfilling earlier agreements, such as the accord signed on September 17 by its head Evegenii Shaposhnikov. Jundzis noted that the Soviet military is slow to allow men from Latvia serving in the USSR armed forces, especially officers, to demobilize. (Dzintra Bungs) OMON BEHIND PETROLEUM PRODUCT SHORTAGE IN LATVIA? Komsomolskaya pravda printed an article on December 5 claiming that the Tyumen region of the RSFSR has suspended supplies of petroleum products to Latvia in order to press for the release of Sergei Parfenov, who was arrested in that region and turned over to Latvian authorities. There is no confirmation that the oil and gasoline shortages in Latvia can be linked with the OMON. What is clear is that Parfenov was a leader of the OMON detachment in Latvia and that Latvian authorities are preparing court cases against those OMON members suspected of crimes. At the end of August, after Latvia had become independent, OMON detachment was transported, upon orders from Moscow, to the Tyumen region. (Dzintra Bungs) DRAFT QUOTAS NOT FILLED IN ESTONIA. Young men from Estonia appear only slightly more willing to serve in a local defense force than in the Soviet military. According to the latest conscription figures, Estonian defense officials have been unable to fulfill their quota of conscripts in the first two phases of the current call-up. The first phase began two weeks ago, and brought forth 207 men, about 30% less than needed. The second phase began on December 2 and produced 205 young men, again less than officials had wanted. Estonia's Defense Forces General Staff acting director Ants Laaneots said most of the no-shows are from Tallinn's more prosperous eastern and southern rayons, populated largely by ethnic Estonians. BNS reported the conscription figures on December5. (Riina Kionka)
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