A disagreement may be the shortest cut between two minds. - Kahlil Gibran
RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 234, 11 December 1991



USSR--ALL-UNION AND INTER-REPUBLICAN TOPICS



GORBACHEV, YELTSIN MEET WITH COMMANDERS. USSR President Mikhail
Gorbachev met with senior military officers in Moscow on December
10, Western and Soviet agencies reported, while RSFSR President
Boris Yeltsin was scheduled to meet the same group on December
11. According to a Defense Ministry spokesman, the gathering
included senior commanders from the Defense Ministry, the General
Staff, and all chiefs of military districts and fleets; military
representatives from the republics also attended. He said that
the meeting was an annual affair and had been scheduled far in
advance. Izvestia reported on December 11 that Gorbachev had
been expected at the Defense Ministry on December 9, but had
failed to appear. (Stephen Foye)

WHO IS COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF? While Gorbachev remains nominally
the head of the armed forces, the meetings in Moscow are clearly
an outgrowth of the commonwealth agreement and reflect a move
by Yeltsin to assert control over the Defense Ministry. Russian
First Deputy Prime Minister Gennadii Burbulis was quoted by Western
sources on December 10 as saying that the military leadership
had not expressed any "negative reactions" over formation of
the commonwealth and that the question of command over the army
will be "resolved in the next few days." Izvestia suggested on
December 10 that the officer corps would serve whoever supported
it financially. (Stephen Foye)

TURMOIL IN THE DEFENSE MINISTRY. Deputy Defense Ministers Vladimir
Arkhipov and Yurii Yashin were relieved of their duties on December 10,
as heads continued to roll at the MoD. Western agencies report
that Arkhipov has been replaced by Colonel General Ivan Fuzhenko,
formerly commander of the Turkestan Military District. No replacement
for Yashin was named. The Cologne Deutschlandfunk Network reported
that the General Staff also met in Moscow on December 10 under
the direction of Defense Minister Evgenii Shaposhnikov, and that
more personnel changes are expected there. The report said that
all actions have been taken in consultation with Yeltsin. (Stephen
Foye)

MAKSIMOV ON NUCLEAR WEAPONS. In an interview appearing in Izvestia
on December 11, General of the Army Yurii Maksimov, chief of
the newly created Strategic Deterrence Forces, added his voice
to the debate over who is in control of Soviet nuclear weapons.
He insisted that Gorbachev remained in control of both strategic
and tactical nuclear weapons. He felt there was no chance of
nuclear proliferation, that there was only one nuclear state--"the
Soviet Union as a whole or the state system that will be its
rightful successor." A different position was expressed by Burbulis,
who told reporters on December 10 that Yeltsin was talking with
Shaposhnikov about the status of Soviet nuclear forces and the
issue of control would be resolved in the next few days. (Doug
Clarke)

NEW KREMLIN SECURITY CHIEF. The Commandant of the Moscow Kremlin
for the past five years, Gennadii Bashkin, has been replaced
by his deputy, Mikhail Barsukov, TASS reported on December 10.
The Commandant of the Kremlin, the residence of both the USSR
and the RSFSR Presidents, has under his command the elite KGB
Kremlin Guards and until recently was responsible to the USSR
President, who is also the Supreme Commander-in-Chief. Traditionally,
the Kremlin Commandant was hand-picked by the Soviet leader and
loyal to him. It is not known who ordered Bashkin's replacement,
but the timing raises questions as to whether the new Kremlin
security chief is loyal to Gorbachev or to Yeltsin. (Victor Yasmann)


GORBACHEV NOT THINKING OF RESIGNATION. Gorbachev's press spokesman,
Andrei Grachev, said on December 10 that Gorbachev was open to
any variant of a Union treaty that was arrived at constitutionally
and democratically, and that Gorbachev was not at present thinking
of resignation, TASS reported on December 10. He would devote
his efforts to seeing that the course of events did not deviate
too far from what he thought correct, Grachev added. Gorbachev
was counting on the support of the public and existing political
and legislative structures. If a referendum were held, it should
take place in all twelve republics. (Ann Sheehy)

BURBULIS ON MINSK AGREEMENT. Burbulis told RSFSR and USSR deputies
on December 10 that Gorbachev's call for an extraordinary session
of the USSR Congress of People's Deputies to discuss the future
of the country would arouse only confrontation, TASS reported
December 10. At the same time, he said he did not exclude the
idea of holding a referendum. At a press conference the same
day, he said that the Minsk agreement was not aimed at removing
Gorbachev from political activity, andsuggested that his experience
could be used constructively. Burbulis also pointed out that
the text of the agreement did not say that the USSR "has ceased"
to exist but "is ceasing to exist." (Ann Sheehy)

LUBENCHENKO ON MINSK AGREEMENT. Chairman of the USSR Supreme
Soviet's Council of the Union Konstantin Lubenchenko distributed
a statement on December 10 saying that the Minsk agreement was
completely illegal and its political consequences could be dire,
TASS reported on December 10. Lubenchenko said that in present
circumstances the USSR Supreme Soviet was one of the few forces
that could in some way guarantee the integrity of the Union,
and said it was the duty of deputies to carry this through to
the end, regardless of the position adopted by the USSR President.
Lubenchenko's stance is reminiscent of that of the former chairman
of the Supreme Soviet, Anatolii Lukyanov. (Ann Sheehy)

SHUSHKEVICH ON INTERSTATE ECONOMIC COMMITTEE. A major
question in the aftermath of the formation of the Slavic Commonwealth
is the role and relevance of the Interstate Economic Committee
(MEK) chaired by Ivan Silaev. Speaking to reporters December
10, the Chairman of the Belorussian Supreme Soviet, Stanislau
Shushkevich, said that "nothing in any of the documents establishing
the Commonwealth undercuts the structure Silaev heads or brings
changes in its (the MEK's) activities." This implies a (limited)
role for a coordinating body that goes beyond the three current
Commonwealth members. Shushkevich's remarks were broadcast on
Radio Rossia on December 10. (John Tedstrom)

FORMER USSR'S FOREIGN DEBT. One example of where the Interstate
Economic Committee (MEK) might serve a purpose is on the question
of the former USSR's foreign debt. The Commonwealth documents
did not mention the debt, but the MEK reached provisional agreement
on each republic's share of the debt during its meetings December
4-6. All other indications, however, point to very little, if
any, economic role for a Center based in the Kremlin. On the
question of foreign debt, it is clear that, at least for the
foreseeable future, each new state will have full independence
in economic policymaking and responsibility for debt service.
(John Tedstrom)

LIGACHEV IS BACK. Former Politburo conservative Egor Ligachev
volunteered an interview with the RSFSR TV program "Sovershenno
sekretno" on December 7. Ligachev asserted that a popular movement
aimed at reviving Communism is gaining ground in the former Soviet
Union, and added that sooner or later the Partocracy will triumph.
Asked about the August coup, Ligachev said that he sympathized
with the aims of its organizers but disapproved of the anti-Constitutional
means employed to achieve them. The show's anchor, Artem Borovik,
opined that Ligachev knows more than he revealed and added that
the reason for the interview was Ligachev's jealousy of his "eternal
enemy," Aleksandr Yakovlev, who was interviewed by "Sovershenno
secretno" three weeks ago. (JuliaWishnevsky)


USSR--REPUBLICS AND SUCCESSOR STATES


BELORUSSIA AND UKRAINE RATIFY COMMONWEALTH AGREEMENT. Without
too much difficulty, the Minsk commonwealth agreement was ratified
on December 10 by the Supreme Soviets of Belorussia and Ukraine.
The vote in Minsk was 263 in favor and only one against; in Kiev,
288 deputies out of 367 voted their approval. Addressing the
Ukrainian parliament that day, President Leonid Kravchuk rejected
Gorbachev's criticism of the Minsk agreement, stating that "the
breakup of the USSR did not occur on December 7-8 but at the
beginning of the period of perestroika--and we know precisely
who is the author of this breakup." Kathy Mihalisko)

SHUSHKEVICH, THE COMMONWEALTH, AND MOSCOW. As reported by Radio
Mayak, Belorussian Supreme Soviet Chairman Stanislau Shushkevich
told parliamentary deputies on December 10 that the commonwealth
was necessary because "you yourselves could see how the Union
treaty talks had reached an impasse." That was an unusual stance
for Shushkevich to take; only recently he was predicting that
his Supreme Soviet would easily and swiftly ratify the Union
treaty. Shushkevich has been criticized in the liberal republican
press for not resisting Gorbachev's plans. A commentary in the
December 3 issue of Znamya yunosti argued that Belorussia should
hold its own independence referendum to help it gain international
recognition. (Kathy Mihalisko)

UNIONS PICKET YELTSIN AND POPOV. The Moscow Trade Union Federation
began picketing outside the Moscow City Council, the mayor's
office, and the Russian "White House," TASS reported on December
10. The trade unions' chairman, Mikhail Shmakov, said that the
unions were demanding that Yeltsin and Mayor Gavriil Popov stop
price increases until social protection measures for Muscovites
have been instituted and the food supply as well as law and order
in Moscow have been assured. The picketing is expected to continue
through December 12, and Shmakov said that if the picketing was
unsuccessful, concrete actions would be taken. The unions have
reportedly formed a strike committee. (Carla Thorson)

POPOV THREATENS TO RESIGN AGAIN. Popov said he may resign both
for health reasons and because of differences with the Russian
government over privatization of businesses and housing. In an
interview with Moskovsky komsomolets of December 10 summarized
by TASS, Popov noted that he had promised to give land to the
people, but the Russian government had done nothing but make
promises for the past two years. The Moscow City Council cancelled
Popov's privatization orders last week, prompting the mayor's
first resignation threat. (Carla Thorson)

ELECTIONS TO RUSSIAN ACADEMY. The first elections to the Russian
Academy of Sciences took place on December 7, TASS reported.
Thirty-nine newly elected academicians will join members of the
USSR Academy of Sciences, which earlier this year was transferred
to RSFSR jurisdiction. The election of 130 Russian academicians
had been planned, but after the vote (conducted by members of
the former USSR academy) the majority of positions remained vacant.
Former all-Union academicians claim that most of the proposed
candidates lack proper scientific qualifications. TASS pointed
out the fact that many of those elected on December 7 occupy
high positions in the RSFSR state and government hierarchy. Among
those elected is Chairman of the Russian parliament Ruslan Khasbulatov.
(Vera Tolz)

RSFSR PLANS TO IMPORT MEDICINES. RSFSR President Boris
Yeltsin has signed a decree on the purchase of foreign medicines,
Interfax reported December 9. Russia will allocate 1.35 billion
hard-currency rubles to import essential medicines and the raw
materials and equipment to produce medicines. The decree also
stipulated that government proposals be readied within two weeks
on raising the prices of medicines to citizens and to health-care
facilities, together with compensation arrangements. (Keith Bush)


KAZAKHSTAN CHANGES OFFICIAL NAME. Kazakhstan's Supreme Soviet
voted on December 10 to drop "Soviet Socialist" from the republic's
official name, according to a KazTAG-TASS report of the same
day. The report does not make absolutely clear whether the new
name is "Kazakh Republic," which would offend the republic's
large non-Kazakh population, or "Republic of Kazakhstan." According
to the December 10 edition of the Russian TV news show "Vesti,"
a majority of deputies in Kazakhstan's legislature also condemned
Gorbachev's claim that five oblasts of the RSFSR were given to
Kazakhstan during the Virgin Lands campaign of the 1950s. (Bess
Brown)

DNIESTER SITUATION. The siege of the Moldavian police station
in Bendery by an armed detachment of the "Dniester SSR" and by
uniformed soldiers took a new turn in the evening of December
9 as Moldavian peasants from neighboring villages came to the
aid of the police by forming a human wall around the building.
The "Dniester" guards and soldiers have recently taken over a
number of police stations on the left bank and have now crossed
onto the right bank. The Moldavian police is under strict orders
not to fire. (Vladimir Socor)

MOLDAVIAN PRESIDENT MAY CALL FOR "POPULAR RESISTANCE." On December
10, at his first news conference after his election by popular
vote, Moldavian President Mircea Snegur commented on the "political-military
putsch" in the Dniester area. Snegur said that "if Moscow and
the army want to bring us to our knees, I may again call for
popular resistance to the putsch, as I did in August." Moldavia
defied the attempted coup in August through mass mobilization
to stave off the threat of military intervention. (Vladimir Socor)


EASTERN EUROPE


BALTIC STATES


GORBUNOVS REPLIES TO RUTSKOI. On December 10 Latvian Supreme
Council Chairman Anatolijs Gorbunovs received a telegram from
RSFSR Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoi demanding the release
of OMON leader Sergei Parfenov on the grounds that his arrest
was illegal. Replying later that day, Gorbunovs pointed out that
Parfenov had been detained in October with the help of the RSFSR
Procuracy and Ministry of Internal Affairs on the basis of an
agreement that was signed on May 22, 1991 by the RSFSR Procuracy
and the Latvian authorities. He added that Latvia has prepared
for consideration a new accord on legal cooperation with Russia,
but that until such an accord is ratified, the earlier agreement
should be honored, BNS reported on December 10. (Dzintra Bungs)


LATVIA ADOPTS HUMAN RIGHTS LAW. On December 10 the Latvian Supreme
Council adopted a constitutional law on human and civil rights,
with 90 of the 114 deputies present voting for the legislation.
The law was protested by deputies of the Ravnopravie faction
claiming that it is against the spirit of international human
documents Radio Riga reported that day. Evidently they base the
claim on the fact that the Latvian legislation distinguishes
between certain civil and human rights, such as the right to
vote, which, according to the legislation, is accorded to citizens.
(Dzintra Bungs)

CEPAITIS "CONSCIOUSLY COOPERATED" WITH KGB. On December 10 Balys
Gajauskas, chairman of the parliament committee investigating
KGB activities, reported to the Supreme Council that the committee
had decided that deputy Virgilijus Cepaitis had "consciously
cooperated with the KGB," Radio Lithuania reported that day.
He invited the deputies to look over the documents the committee
had examined. The Liberal faction's proposal for a nonbinding
resolution urging Cepaitis to resign was approved by a vote of
41 to 3 with 14abstentions. (Saulius Girnius)

TEMPORARY CLOSING OF LAZDIJAI/OGRODNIKI BORDER POST. On December
9 the Lithuanian government issued a decree ordering the temporary
closing of the post on the Polish border at Lazdijai beginning
at 1400 on December 10 because of the unsatisfactory sanitation
conditions there, Radio Lithuania reported on December 10. The
post will remain closed until Poland rebuilds facilities on its
side to enable traffic to cross more rapidly. The closing does
not apply to a range of official governmental and business traffic
or to those traveling on regularly scheduled public transportation.
(Saulius Girnius)

FEWER ALCOHOLICS SEEKING TREATMENT IN ESTONIA. Fewer people in
Estonia are seeking treatment for alcohol abuse since independence,
according to an Eesti ekspress report of December 6. Estonia used
to have 703 beds in alcohol treatment centers, but lowered demand
reduced that capability to 400 beds. Some a clinics have become
homes for abused battered women and children, while others have
been converted into long-term care facilities. Eesti ekspress
says the lowered demand does not indicate "a sobriety epidemic"
but instead is linked to a higher cost of living. Because one
hour of treatment costs 60rubles, it seems likely that fewer
people needing help are seeking it. (Riina Kionka)

SWEDISH MILITARY ATTACHE ACCREDITED. Radio Riga reported on December
10 that earlier that day Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Martins
Virsis had accredited Soren Lindman as Sweden's Military Attache
to Latvia. Lindman is also expected to serve in the same capacity
in Estonia and Lithuania. (Dzintra Bungs)


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