|Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal. - John F. Kennedy|
No. 233, 10 December 1991
USSR--ALL-UNION AND INTER-REPUBLICAN TOPICS GORBACHEV, YELTSIN, NAZARBAEV MEET. Virtually the whole of the 80-minute meeting in the Kremlin on December 9 of USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev, RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin, and Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbaev consisted of Gorbachev and Nazarbaev questioning Yeltsin on the agreement among the three Slavic republics to create a commonwealth of independent states, TASS reported on December 9. Yeltsin was speaking in the name of all three Slavic republics. TASS said that Gorbachev would continue consultations after the meeting with the leaders of other republics who had come to Moscow, and also with other state and public figures. (Ann Sheehy) GORBACHEV ISSUES STATEMENT. After the meeting Gorbachev issued a statement, which was read on Central TV, saying that the agreement reached by the three Slavic republics had its positive sides in that Ukraine had taken part and it preserved a joint economic space and provided for cooperation in various spheres. However, while republics could secede from the USSR, Gorbachev said that three republics could not determine the fate of the multilateral state. He maintained that the document had been signed in haste, without a mandate from the population or parliaments of the three republics. He stated that both the draft Union treaty and the agreement signed in Minsk should be debated by the republican and all-Union parliaments, and that a Congress of People's Deputies should be called. He also said he would not exclude a referendum. (Ann Sheehy) SHAKHRAI SAYS MINSK AGREEMENT CONSTITUTIONAL. In a talk on Radio Rossii on December 9, RSFSR State Councilor and legal expert Sergei Shakhrai contested Gorbachev's argument that the three Slavic republics had acted unconstitutionally in declaring that the Soviet Union had ceased to exist. Shakhrai said that the treaty of 1922 setting up the USSR had been signed by four republics--the three Slavic republics, and the Transcaucasian republic that had ceased to exist. It was these republics that transferred powers to the Union, powers that they had recently taken back with their declarations of sovereignty and independence. (Ann Sheehy) NAZARBAEV'S PRESS CONFERENCE. After his meeting with Gorbachev and Yeltsin, Nazarbaev, looking somewhat at a loss, according to the December 9 edition of "TV-Inform," complained to correspondents that an interstate structure based on ethnic affinity is a relic of the Middle Ages. Nazarbaev added that an organ of coordination is needed for the republics to weather current difficulties and such an organ could be headed by Gorbachev. Summaries of the press conference indicate that Nazarbaev was upset at having been excluded from the Minsk agreement and intends to continue supporting Gorbachev. (Bess Brown) CONTROLLING NUCLEAR WEAPONS. The spate of statements aimed at reassuring the world that nuclear weapons in the former USSR are safe has only clouded the issue. The commonwealth agreement calls for "unified control" over these weapons, with procedures regulated by an unpublished special agreement. Gorbachev's spokesmen say that the USSR President and the Ministry of Defense retain control, while RSFSR Foreign Minister, Andrei Kozyrev was quoted by agencies on December 9 as saying that the State Council--a body apparently made obsolete by the commonwealth pact--would still retain control. Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk has called for a novel "three button" trigger, but made no mention of Kazakhstan, where 104 giant SS-18 ICBMs are based. (Doug Clarke) PRICE DECONTROL DELAYED. RSFSR Deputy Prime Minister Egor Gaidar told Russian TV on December 9 that his republic has agreed to delay lifting controls on most prices until January 2. This had been requested by Ukraine and Belorussia at the weekend meeting in Minsk. All three republics will try to decontrol prices simultaneously. Ukraine and Belorussia had appealed against the original target date of December 16, citing a shortage of rubles. In the absence of a coordinated move, Russian shoppers would have swamped Ukrainian and Belorussian stores in search of cheaper goods. For their part, Ukraine and Belorussia have agreed to increase deliveries of food and consumer goods to Russia. (Keith Bush) EC AID ARRANGEMENTS MODIFIED. Belgian Finance Minister Philippe Maystadt, speaking on behalf of the European Community, announced on December 9 that the EC will change the mechanisms of its promised aid to the former USSR, Western agencies reported that day. Instead of making credit guarantees available to Moscow for the purchase and distribution of food, these would now be offered directly to the cities where the food aid is needed. The individual republics which seek credit guarantees will have to honor their commitments to repay their share of the total external debt of the former USSR. The value of the EC credit package has been put at 500 million ECUs, or roughly $650 million. (Keith Bush) REPORTS ON LOBOV DISMISSAL. Confusion continues to surround the dismissal of General Staff Chief Vladimir Lobov. According to TASS, Izvestia on December 9 quoted unnamed "military experts" as saying that Lobov's ideas on military reform were not consistent with those recentlyagreed upon by the USSR State Council. Lobov has been a strong proponent of a unified military structure. The Washington Post on December 10, meanwhile, linked the dismissal to rumors that a disgruntled faction within the General Staff is planning a seizure of power. The newspaper reported that the officer in charge of Kremlin security had also been replaced over the weekend. (Stephen Foye) GROMOV RESURFACES. Colonel General Boris Gromov has been appointed a First Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Soviet Ground Forces, Vechernaya Moskva reported on December 6. The report was carried by TASS. The last commander of Soviet forces in Afghanistan, Gromov subsequently headed the Kiev Military District and served as a First Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. He has long been considered among the most capable and most charismatic of Soviet military leaders. He was thought by many to have been a participant in the August coup, but formal charges were never brought and it was later reported that a slot was being sought for him in the Defense Ministry. (Stephen Foye) REPUBLICS SEEKING OFFICERS. A number of officers stationed in the Volga-Ural Military District but born outside the RSFSR are now receiving letters from "people's fronts" in the republics of the former Union, Radio Moscow reported on December6. The letters allegedly urge the officers to return home to help organize republican armies. According to the report, one-third of all officers in the Volga-Ural Military District were born outside the Russian Federation. (Stephen Foye) GENERAL STAFF, SECURITY FORCES SUPPORT REFERENDUM. A senior officer of the General Staff, Leonid Kozhendaev, told Radio Moscow's World Service, on December 9 that, in the event of a referendum on the fate of the USSR, the Armed Forces, the MVD, and state security services will guarantee that the vote is carried out democratically. The referendum was suggested yesterday by Gorbachev. Such a referendum must be held in all administrative-territorial regions of the former USSR to determine the political regime, economic order, and the new borders of the republics, said the Major General. As a representative of a group of officers in the General Staff, Kozhendaev made a similar statement to TASS on November 30. (Victor Yasmann) USSR--REPUBLICS AND SUCCESSOR STATES MOLDAVIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION RETURNS. Vladimir Kiktenko, chairman of Moldavia's Central Electoral Commission, at a press conference on December 9 released the returns of the presidential elections held on December 8. Out of 2.9 million eligible voters, 550,000 were unable to register for the vote owing to adverse pressures on the left bank of the Dniester and in Gagauz. Among the 2.35 million registered voters, the turnout was 83%. Snegur received 98% of the votes cast, or 67.5% relative to the total number of eligible voters in the entire republic. The voting was monitored by observers from the US, West and East European countries, the Baltic States, the RSFSR, Ukraine, and Romania. (Vladimir Socor) MOLDAVIAN POLICE AT BAY IN BENDERY. Moldavian law enforcement officials and parliamentary deputies told RFE/RL on December9 that a detachment of over 100 "Dniester SSR" armed guards and uniformed army soldiers besieged the police station in Bendery that day and gave it an ultimatum to submit to the orders of the "Dniester SSR." The Bendery city soviet leaders served the ultimatum. As on previous similar occasions, the police were under strict orders not to use arms. This attitude may be subject to change in this instance, however, since Bendery is a major city and the attack on it marks the extension of the "political-military putsch" from the left onto the right bank of the Dniester. (Vladimir Socor) UNLAWFUL ARMED GROUPS IN MOLDAVIA. The Moldavian press in recent days has published intelligence information attesting that nearly 1,500 submachine guns were recently handed over by the military to the "Dniester SSR" on a single day in Rybnitsa. Also published was a facsimile of an Army receipt recording the handing over by a military unit of 12 machine guns to a representative of a Russian "workers' detachment." A US Congressional observer of the presidential voting in the town of Comrat in southern Moldavia told journalists on December 9 that the town was being patrolled by well armed Gagauz militants. (Vladimir Socor) USSR MILITARY DELEGATION TO MOLDAVIA. A delegation of the USSR Defense Ministry and the General Staff, headed by First Deputy Chief of the General Staff Col. Gen. Bronislav Omelichev, arrived in Moldavia on December 8 at the invitation of the Moldavian government to look into "cases of officers of the 14th Army interfering in Moldavia's internal affairs," Moldovapres reported on December 9. Moldavian Prime Minster Valeriu Muravschi "pre-sented incontrovertible evidence of the Army's inter-ference," Moldovapres said December 9. Omelichev cryptically replied that the armed men in uniform "are not necessarily regular soldiers." The Defense Ministry summoned Lt. Gen. Gennadii Yakovlev to the USSR to explain his actions. (Vladimir Socor) UKRAINE PASSES LAW ON ARMED FORCES AND DEFENSE. As reported on December 6 by Radio Kiev, the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet that day passed the Law on the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the Law on the Defense of Ukraine. The latter piece of legislation provides for a state defense council, which newly elected President Leonid Kravchuk is expected to form soon. In accordance with the law, Kravchuk becomes commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian armed forces. Also approved was the military oath of allegiance to the Ukrainian nation and constitution. Defense Minister Konstantin Morozov on December 6 was first to take the oath. (Kathy Mihalisko) TOUGH QUESTIONS TO KRAVCHUK ON COMMONWEALTH. At a press conference on December 9 in Kiev, Kravchuk had to justify his signing of the "Slavic commonwealth" agreement. Radio Kiev said that day that reactions seemed to come in three types: those who thought Kravchuk might have betrayed the interests of the nascent Ukrainian state; those who welcomed the opportunity to create a European-style community of nations; and those who wanted to know, above all, why Kravchuk had not first consulted his parliament. Kravchuk stressed that with the exception of a few areas where joint action is needed, such as control over strategic weapons, the agreement guaranteed the jurisdiction of independent states. (Kathy Mihalisko) SHUSHKEVICH: NOT FOR SLAVS ONLY. As quoted on December 9 on Radio Moscow, Belorussian Supreme Soviet Chairman Stanislav Shushkevich has rejected criticism that the commonwealth agreement is "purely Slavic" and maintained that there are no obstacles to other republics and states joining it. Curiously, Shushkevich said the agreement provides for the maintenance of united armed forces. At Kravchuk's press conference in Kiev, however, the Ukrainian president said the agreement would not prevent the formation of national armies. (Kathy Mihalisko) RUSSIAN KGB SHOWS STRENGTH. Viktor Ivanenko, general director of the Russian Agency of Federal Security (the former RSFSR KGB), told Rossiiskaia gazeta on December 4 that it will cost Russia 16 billion rubles to establish new border facilities after the secession of the other republics. He said that Russia will not build heavily guarded wire fences at its new borders because that would cost even more. Ivanenko also revealed that Russia is seriously considering counterintelligence and intelligence activities against other republics who may become hostile to Russia. He added that Russia is already conducting foreign espionage abroad by exploiting new RSFSR foreign trade structures. (Alexander Rahr) NABIEV OFFERS TO HOST AFGHAN PEACE TALKS. Western news agencies reported on December 6 that newly-elected Tajik President Rakhman Nabiev told a Pakistani delegation that Tajikistan would be willing to host Afghan peace negotiations. The Pakistani delegation is touring all the Cental Asian republics. (Bess Brown) EASTERN EUROPE BALTIC STATES LANDSBERGIS, GORBUNOVS WELCOME COMMONWEALTH AGREEMENT. On December 9 Chairman of the Lithuanian Supreme Council Vytautas Landsbergis told a press conference in Vilnius that he welcomes the creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States by the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, and Belorussia, BALTFAX reported that day. He expressed confidence that the commonwealth will become the successor of the USSR and that "Lithuania will surely benefit from that, especially in settling the problem of the withdrawal of Soviet troops from the Baltics." He noted: "The three states of the commonwealth, not Gorbachev, will decide everything. I think he is already in the past. Now he could regain power only through a coup." Latvian Supreme Council Chairman Anatolijs Gorbunovs, returning from Paris on December 9, told the press that Latvia's relations with the commonwealth would be based on principles of bilateral relations between sovereign states, regardless of Gorbachev's views on these matters, Diena reported that day. (Saulius Girnius & Dzintra Bungs) ESTONIA RECOGNIZES UKRAINE. The Estonian government voted on December 9 to recognize Ukrainian independence, BNS reported that day. The government had delayed recognition until official results of last week's referendum were published. (Riina Kionka) RUUTEL, YELTSIN DISCUSS TROOPS, BORDERS. Chairman of the Estonian Supreme Council Arnold Ruutel and RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin signed a joint communique in Moscow on December 9 pledging a joint stand on troop withdrawals. According to BNS the same day, Ruutel told Yeltsin that Estonia was willing to build housing in Russia for withdrawing troops. The two also discussed border questions, and Ruutel reportedly appealed to Yeltsin to correct borders unilaterally drawn by the USSR after WW II. (Riina Kionka) RUTSKOI DEMANDS RELEASE OF JAILED OMON COMMANDER. RSFSR Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi demanded the Latvian authorities release Sergei Parfenov, deputy chief of the OMON detachment that was stationed in Riga before its transfer to the Tyumen region at the end of August. Court proceedings are being prepared by the Latvian authorities against Parfenov in connection with his involvement in the August coup attempt. Parfenov was arrested by RSFSR officials who then honored a Latvian request for extradition. Rutskoi claims, according to TASS of December 9, that it was not legally correct to extradite Parfenov. (Dzintra Bungs) NEW LATVIAN ENVOY TO UN. On December 5 Aivars Baumanis presented his credentials to UN Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar, thus becoming Latvia's new ambassador to the United Nations, an RFE/RL correspondent in New York reported that day. Baumanis, who has a degree in law, worked in Latvia as a journalist and editor specializing in foreign affairs. He replaces Anatols Dinbergs, who earlier represented Latvia in the United States as well as the UN and now remains envoy to the USA. (Dzintra Bungs)
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