Man's yesterday may ne'er be like his morrow; Naught may endure but Mutability. - Percy Shelley
RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 235, 12 December 1991



USSR--ALL-UNION AND INTER-REPUBLICAN TOPICS



YELTSIN WINS ARMY'S SUPPORT? Reports out of Moscow suggest that
RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin has won tentative support for his
Slavic commonwealth from military commanders. Yeltsin addressed
the military leadership on the morning of December 11, less than
24 hours after USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev spoke to the
same group. Interfax quoted Yeltsin as saying that a poll taken
by Defense Minister Evgenii Shaposhnikov indicated that a majority
of commanders were satisfied with Yeltsin's program. A Radio
Moscow commentary on December 11 said that Gorbachev, in contrast,
had been received coolly by the convocation. It added that one
reason the officers supported Yeltsin is that the majority of
them are Slavs and are favorably disposed to a Slavic commonwealth.
(Stephen Foye)

A PROBLEMATIC ALLIANCE. Yeltsin's alliance with the high command
is nevertheless likely to be complicated. While the Minsk agreement
clearly aims at preserving unified control over Soviet strategic
forces, its impact on command of conventional forces is unclear.
Interfax reported on December 12 that Yeltsin claimed the establishment
of a Ukrainian army does not contradict the agreement, a statement
that seems inconsistent with other remarks implying preservation
of a highly unified armed forces structure. It is this issue
that has been at the crux of civil-military tensions to date,
and is a likely reason for the recent dismissal of General Staff
Chief Vladimir Lobov. (Stephen Foye)

GORBACHEV STILL CONTROLS SOVIET NUKES. Yeltsin has told a group
of deputies to the Russian parliament that Gorbachev "for the
time being" remains the Commander-in-Chief of Soviet armed forces
and the Soviet nuclear arsenal, according to a December 10 TASS
account. A deputy who attended this closed meeting reported that
Yeltsin foresaw Gorbachev remaining in charge of the military
during a transitional period, but that institutions of the new
commonwealth would eventually assume control. In a related development,
the new Belorussian Defense Minister, Pyotr Chaus, was quoted
by TASS on December 11 as saying that Belorussia should not rush
into giving up the strategic nuclear weapons based on its territory.
(These are thought to be 54 mobile SS-25 ICBMs.) (Doug Clarke)


GORBACHEV AND YELTSIN MEET. Yeltsin said on December 11 that
he and Gorbachev had not agreed on everything during their meeting
earlier in the day, but that their relations had improved since
Sunday's founding of a Commonwealth of Independent States, Western
agencies reported on December 11. Speaking to reporters, Yeltsin
said he discussed with Gorbachev the commonwealth's plans to
begin functioning as a separate entity. Gorbachev did not support
them, but both he and Gorbachev had ruled out the use of force
to solve their dispute. So far there has been no comment from
Gorbachev on the meeting. (Ann Sheehy)

YELTSIN ADDRESSES RSFSR SUPREME SOVIET. Yeltsin delivered a report
to the RSFSR Supreme Soviet on December 12 on the situation in
the country in connection with the signing of the Minsk agreement,
TASS reported the same day. RSFSR Supreme Soviet Chairman Ruslan
Khasbulatov told TASS on December 12 that he approved the Minsk
agreement and was sure it would be ratified by the parliament,
although there would be criticism. (Ann Sheehy)

GORBACHEV LAYS NO CLAIM TO ROLE IN FUTURE STRUCTURES. In an interview,
excerpts of which were published in Nezavisimaya gazeta on December
12, Gorbachev said it was time to say that he personally laid
no claim to a role in the future structures of a successor state
to the Soviet Union, TASS reported on December 12. He just wanted
it to be a Union state, and said he would respect any decision
if it were constitutional. He repeated that the Minsk agreement
was unacceptable, but it could be a different matter if it were
discussed and synthesized with the draft Union treaty. (Ann Sheehy)


CONSTITUTIONAL OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE PRONOUNCES. The USSR Constitutional
Oversight Committee said on December 11 that the statement in
the Minsk agreement that "the USSR is ceasing to exist as a subject
of international law and a geopolitical reality" has no legal
force, TASS reported on December 11. Agreeing with Gorbachev's
assessment, the committee said that individual republics could
not make such a decision. Nor were they empowered to say that
USSR organs had ceased to function on their territory. Committee
members expressed serious concern at the statement that USSR
norms no longer applied on the territory of the member states
of the Commonwealth. (Ann Sheehy)

PRESIDENTIAL LEGAL ADVISER CONCURS. Talking to TASS on December
11, Gorbachev's state counsellor for legal policy Veniamin Yakovlev
made much the same points. He maintained that neither the three
Slavic republics nor all twelve republics had the right to declare
the 1922 Union treaty defunct, saying that, according to the
treaty, only a Congress of the USSR could change it, which was
why Gorbachev has been forced to raise the question of convoking
a Congress of USSR People's Deputies. Yakovlev also said that
suddenly halting the functions of USSR organs and laws could
have very serious consequences since the legislation regulating
the economy, the army, and so on was primarily Union legislation.
(Ann Sheehy)

CENTRAL ASIAN REACTION TO COMMONWEALTH. There was confusion in
December 11 Soviet and Western news agency reports on the Central
Asian reaction to the Slavic commonwealth agreement. Russian
First Deputy Prime Minister Gennadii Burbulis was quoted as saying
that Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev had told him that Kazakhstan
wanted to join the commonwealth as a co-founder, but an adviser
to Nazarbaev told another news agency that Nazarbaev had said
that there had only been consultations so far. Yeltsin was quoted
as saying that Kyrgyzstan definitely wanted to join, but the
chairman of the republic's Supreme Soviet said that the decision
was up to the legislators. (Bess Brown)

CENTRAL ASIAN LEADERS TO DISCUSS COMMONWEALTH. Soviet and Western
news agencies reported on December 11 that the presidents of
the five Central Asian republics planned to meet in Ashkhabad
or Dushanbe on December 12 to discuss the new commonwealth. According
to a Radio Moscow report, Uzbek President Islam Karimov was unhappy
about the apparent ethnic orientation of the commonwealth. (Bess
Brown)

TRANSCAUCASUS REACTIONS TO COMMONWEALTH. Although Yeltsin told
reporters on December 11 that Armenia would join the new Commonwealth,
acting Armenian Foreign Minister Raffi Hovanessian told The Los
Angeles Times that no decision has yet been made. TASS reported
on December 11 that a session of the Azerbaijan State Council
chaired by President Ayaz Mutalibov had welcomed the creation
of the Commonwealth "provided it does not exclude the process
of gaining sovereignty for the republics." Interfax reported
on December 11 that the Presidium of the Georgian parliament
had issued a statement describing the Commonwealth accord as
"historic;" it is not clear whether Georgia will join. (Liz Fuller)


VNESHEKONOMBANK PRESSES FOR G-7 DEAL. Vneshekonombank Deputy
Chairman Tomas Aligebov told the Interstate Economic Committee
on December 11 that his bank is running out of resources and
has trouble even paying interest on the country's foreign debt,
Interfax reported that day. Aligebov is said to have urged acceptance
of the G-7 offer made in November. This provided for a loan of
$1 billion in return for collateral of 104 tons of gold. An alternative
course of action would be to borrow hard currency from Soviet
commercialbanks. Aligebov is also quoted as saying that Soviet
holders of accounts in his bank are transferring hard currency
abroad in an "avalanche." (Keith Bush)

CASTRO: NO SOVIET OIL SHIPPED TO CUBA FOR DECEMBER. Cuban President
Fidel Castro told a congress of school children in Havana on
December 6 that the USSR has shipped no oil to Cuba for this
month, Western agencies reported December 7, quoting Cuban media
the same day. He gave no indication whether this was due to the
USSR's economic confusion or to a deliberate decision to suspend
the shipments. Castro questioned the USSR's ability to guarantee
future oil supplies to Cuba, and said that the island was already
running on half the oil it normally received from the USSR. Agency
reports cited Cuban diplomats as saying that Castro's foreign
trade minister is currently trying to strike a deal either with
the central Soviet authorities or with individual republics.
(Sallie Wise Chaballier)

CONFLICT OVER PRAVDA. The RSFSR Ministry of Mass Media has told
Pravda, which since the disbanding of the CPSU has
been published as an independent paper, to vacate its office.
The ministry said that the new Pravda is not a legal successor
of the CPSU CC daily to which the office belonged. Meanwhile,
the "Pressa" publishing house which prints Pravda said the newspaper
owes it 1 million rubles. In their turn, representatives of Pravda
told a press conference on December 11 that actions against them
amounted to an attempt by the RSFSR government to silence an
organ of the opposition, "Vesti" reported. Radio Moscow said
December 11 that telephone and electricity supplies were switched
off in Pravda's main technical department. As a result, no issue
of the paper appeared on December 11. (Vera Tolz)


USSR--REPUBLICS AND SUCCESSOR STATES


RUSSIA SEEKS IMF PROGRAM. The Russian government is pressing
the IMF for a special program whereby aid would be tied to the
implementation of a rigorous reform schedule, The Financial Times
of December 11 reported. Such a program would be unprecedented,
as the RSFSR is not a member of the Fund, nor is it even a subject
of international law. The Russian authorities are said to be
hoping for conditional credits for food imports, debt repayments,
and a stabilization fund for the convertibility of the ruble
priced at up to $15 billion a year. The World Bank will also
be asked to fund programs of structural adjustment, such as privatization
in agriculture and industry. (Keith Bush)

HONECKER MAY BE EXPELLED FROM RUSSIA. Izvestia of December 12
reported that Russian authorities have ordered former East German
leader Erich Honecker to leave Russia by tomorrow (December 13),
or else he will be deported to Germany. According to Izvestia,
Honecker has protested the Russian order and has appealed to
the USSR government for political asylum. Gorbachev thus far
has been reluctant to expel Honecker from the USSR. (Sallie Wise
Chaballier)

NAGORNO-KARABAKH VOTES FOR INDEPENDENCE. TASS reported on December
11 that seven Armenians were killed in clashes during the December
10 referendum. Eighty percent of the electorate participated
in the referendum, of whom 99% reportedly voted in favor of independence.
The Azerbaijani population of the oblast reportedly boycotted
the referendum. Polling stations operated in Armenia to enable
Armenian refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh to participate. (Liz
Fuller)

AZERBAIJAN WOULD WELCOME TURKISH MEDIATION OVER NKAO. Azerbaijani
Prime Minister Gasan Gasanov was quoted by a Western news agency
on December 11 as stating that Turkey's mediation would contribute
to a settlement of the ongoing conflict with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh,
where he claimed the situation is deteriorating. (Liz Fuller)


IRAN REJECTS PRIORITY FOR AZERBAIJAN. The Iranian Mejlis voted
on December 10 against giving top priority to a bill tabled by
hardliners led by former interior minister Ali Akbar Montashemi
proposing that Iran formally recognize Azerbaijan's independence,
Western agencies reported from Teheran on December 10. On the
same day IRNA quoted deputy foreign minister Mahmoud Vaezi as
stating that Iran respects the will and choice of the Azerbaijani
people and will help Azerbaijan establish a market economy. (Liz
Fuller)

AZERBAIJAN BECOMES MEMBER OF ISLAMIC CONFERENCE. Azerbaijan was
formally admitted on December 8 to the Organization of the Islamic
Conference on the eve of its four day summit in Senegal, Western
news agencies reported the same day. (Liz Fuller)

GEORGIA DELAYS SIGNING BLACK SEA FLEET ACCORD. TASS reported
on December 11 that Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia had
delayed signing an agreement giving the Soviet Black Sea fleet
access to Georgian ports in order to study more closely the terms
of the accord, under which training would be provided for officers
of a future Georgian Navy in return for allowing the fleet access
toGeorgian ports and guaranteeing the safety of Soviet sailors
and their families on Georgian territory. (Liz Fuller)

SNEGUR ON RELATIONS WITH ROMANIA. Moldavian President Mircea
Snegur told a news conference in Kishinev on December 10 that
his overwhelming electoral victory confirmed that "the people's
will today is for an independent Moldavia . . . We [and Romania]
will exist as two states which speak one language," Moldovapres
reported on December 11. Moldavia will continue to cooperate
with Romania economically and culturally "butonly under conditions
of total independence of the Republic of Moldavia," Snegur said.
(Vladimir Socor)



BALTIC STATES



LATVIAN SUPREME COUNCIL ON POSSIBILITY OF MILITARY COUP. On December
12 the Latvian Supreme Council started discussing the various
signs that would seem to suggest that a coup may be attempted
in the Baltic area by Soviet military forces, Radio Riga reported.
The Supreme Council had asked Lt. Gen. Valerii Mironov, commander
of the USSR North West Forces (formerly USSR Baltic Military
District, based in Riga) to attend the plenary session, but he
declined. Minister of Defense Talavs Jundzis outlined the causes
for concern and noted the forces Latvia would have at its disposal
to resist an attempted coup. From his report it is clear that
Latvia might be able to offer only minimal armed resistance insofar
as Latvian forces have almost no weapons. (Dzintra Bungs)

BALTIC STATES APPEAL TO G24 FOR EMERGENCY AID. On December 11
officials from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania met with the G24
nations in Brussels, Western agencies reported. The Balts outlined
medium-term needs for economic aid, stressing that their industrial
infrastructure, run down during 50 years of Communist rule, needs
modernizing. The G24 pledged to consider the request urgently,
but gave no further details. (Saulius Girnius)

PRESS BRIEFING BY LITHUANIAN PROSECUTOR. On December 11 Radio
Lithuania broadcast a press briefing by Prosecutor General Arturas
Paulauskas. He vehemently denied allegations that Lithuania was
massively rehabilitating Nazi war criminals, charges that were
published on December 9 in a Göteborg, Sweden, newspaper. The
allegations were made by a Ms. Kuplinskyte, a representative
of the Simon Wiesenthal Fund in Lithuania. He dismissed Kuplinskyte's
claim that she was the only Jewish lawyer in Vilnius, saying
that she was not a lawyer but an official in the prosecutor's
office. Paulauskas also rebutted claims in Pravda on December
10 that former Edinstvo leader Valerii Ivanov had been illegally
arrested. Ivanov was legally arrested, Paulauskas said, for his
activities in trying to overthrow the Lithuanian authorities.
(Saulius Girnius)

LATVIAN SUPREME COUNCIL DEPUTY CHAIRMAN RESIGNS. Dainis Ivans,
First Deputy Chairman of the Latvian Supreme Council, announced
his resignation from that position on December 11, Radio Riga
reported. The resignation is to go into effect on January 1,
1992. Ivans, who will remain a deputy, did not explain the reasons
for his resignation, but indicated that for some time he had
felt that he had accomplished all that he could as one of the
chairmen of the legislature. (Dzintra Bungs)

LATVIA TO REGISTER ITS RESIDENTS. Also on December 11 the Supreme
Council adopted a law on registering Latvia's residents. One
purpose for such a registry is to prepare for the elections (no
date has been set) of deputies to Saiema, which is to replace
the Supreme Council. The Latvian registry is being modeled on
a similar scheme used in Denmark. (Dzintra Bungs)

MVD TROOPS NO LONGER GUARDING PRISONS IN LATVIA. According to
Radio Riga of December 11, Leons Aire, Deputy Minister of Internal
Affairs, told the Supreme Council that day that Latvian forces
had taken over guard and other security duties for various prisons
and labor camps in Latvia from the USSR MVD forces. This would
seem to suggest that the MVD forces may indeed leave Latvia by
the end of the year as had been agreed with the USSR Ministry
of Internal Affairs in the fall. (Dzintra Bungs)


[English] [Russian TRANS | KOI8 | ALT | WIN | MAC | ISO5]

F&P Home ° Comments ° Guestbook


©1996 Friends and Partners
Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole
Please visit the Russian and American mirror sites of Friends and Partners.
Updated: 1998-11-

Please write to us with your comments and suggestions.

F&P Quick Search
Main Sections
Home
Bulletin Board
Chat Room
F&P Listserver

RFE/RL
1999
1998
1997
1996
1995
1994
1993
1992
1991
Search

News
News From Russia/NIS
News About Russia/NIS
Newspapers & Magazines
Global News
Weather

©1996 Friends and Partners
Please write to us with any comments, questions or suggestions -- Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole