On this shrunken globe, men can no longer live as strangers. - Adlai Stevenson
RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 237, 16 December 1991



USSR--ALL-UNION AND INTER-REPUBLICAN TOPICS




CENTRAL ASIAN REPUBLICS WANT TO JOIN COMMONWEALTH. On December
13, TASS issued the declaration signed by the presidents of the
Central Asian republics at the conclusion of their meeting in
Ashkhabad. In the declaration, the signatories indicated the
willingness of their republics to join the Commonwealth of Independent
States, but insisted that the Central Asian republics should
have equal rights with the three founding states, that the commonwealth
not be based on ethnic or confessional considerations, and that
existing borders should be recognized as inviolable. The Central
Asians also called for unified control of nuclear weapons and
unified command of strategic forces. (Bess Brown)

ASHKHABAD PRESS CONFERENCE. At a press conference on December
13, the participants in the meeting of Central Asian presidents
commented on the new commonwealth, according to a TASS summary
issued that day. Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev complained
that USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev's position (trying to resurrect
the Union) is at odds with reality. Kyrgyzstan's President Askar
Akaev said that Gorbachev had made a mistake when he did not
accept the concept of an association of independent states earlier,
but Akaev said Gorbachev could have a role in the new developments.
Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov said that the most important
thing now is economic development. (Bess Brown)

KRAVCHUK ON NUCLEAR NON-USEAGREEMENT. On December 15, Ukrainian
President Leonid Kravchuk told Soviet TV viewers that a new "political
mechanism" should be worked out among the four states of the
Commonwealth--Ukraine, Belorussia, Russia, and Kazakhstan--where
strategic weapons are deployed. The mechanism would have control
over the use of the weapons. He said the four republics had already
agreed to amechanism under which there would be control over
non-use, in other words, a veto. Kravchuk stressed that the ultimate
goal is total disarmament. (Kathy Mihalisko)

FOUNDER-MEMBERS OF COMMONWEALTH TO MEET DECEMBER 21. The meeting
of the founder-members of new Commonwealth in Alma-Ata has been
postponed from December 14 to December 21, the Soviet media reported
on December 14. It will take place after RSFSR President Boris
Yeltsin's visit to Italy on December 19-20. According to a report
on "Vesti" on December 14, the chairmen of the commissions of
the USSR Supreme Soviet will submit to its next joint session
documents, the import of which is to ensure the line of succession
from the Soviet Union to the new Commonwealth. (Ann Sheehy)

GORBACHEV CRITICIZES BAKER, COMMENTS ON HIS ROLE. In an interview
to be printed in Time of December 16, Gorbachev criticized US
Secretary of State James Baker as being "overly hasty" in saying
the Soviet Union no longer exists. In a telephone conversation
with US President George Bush on December 13, Gorbachev said
that he saw his task as seeing that the changes in the Soviet
Union occur without confrontation and in a constitutional framework,
with the participation of representative organs and the peoples
themselves, TASS reported December 14. Gorbachev commented that
much connected with the Commonwealth agreement was not clear
to the authors themselves, particularly what mechanisms there
should be for implementing it and interaction between its members.
(Ann Sheehy)

SHEVARDNADZE ON GORBACHEV. USSR Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze
said on December 14 that Gorbachev's resignation was not imminent,
that both he and Gorbachev wanted to "facilitate the process
of the formation of the Commonwealth," that the Russian authorities
and other republics understood this, and that he had advised
Gorbachev not to be in a hurry to resign, TASS reported on December
14. Shevardnadze also said that the Soviet Union as it had existed
for 70 years did not have a future, but the Commonwealth had
still not shown that it was viable, The Los Angeles Times reported
on December 15. Shevardnadze said that contradictory statements
had been made in the republics about the control of nuclear weapons,
and there was reason for concern. He also said the danger of
dictatorship or a putsch still existed. (Ann Sheehy)

SOBCHAK WARNS OF ANARCHY, HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS. St. Petersburg
mayor Anatolii Sobchak warned on December 14 that the hasty liquidation
of all central government bodies could lead to anarchy and massive
violations of human rights in the Soviet Union, Interfax reported
on December 14. He said that many Soviet legal norms are regulated
only at the Union level, and there is a very dangerous legal
vacuum. Sobchak did not rule out a role for Gorbachev in the
new Commonwealth, saying many ex-leaders come back and play an
even more beneficial role. (Ann Sheehy)

DRM FOUNDING CONGRESS. The Democratic Reform Movement held its
constituent congress in Moscow on December 14 and 15. Established
this summer in opposition to the CPSU, at its first congress
the DRM, according to TASS and TV reports from December 14 and
15, has emerged as a liberal opposition to the anti-Communist
Russian government. "TV Inform" of December 15 quoted DRM ideologist
Aleksandr Yakovlev as saying that the democrats now in power
may degenerate into a new authoritarian force. Other speakers,
including Shevardnadze, Sobchak, and RSFSR Vice President Aleksandr
Rutskoi expressed reservations about the RSFSR leadership. Nonetheless,
the congress rejected a proposal calling for a compromise between
the Brest and Novo-Ogarevo agreements and passed a resolution
endorsing the establishment of the Commonwealth of Independent
States. (Julia Wishnevsky)

TENSE DAYS AT THE MOD. Only days after Yeltsin had won the support
of senior commanders, the military and political leaderships
in Moscow were again sent scrambling by Ukraine's December 13
announcement that it would create its own army. Following consultations
between Yeltsin, Gorbachev, and Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk,
Defense Minister Evgenii Shaposhnikov dispatched a high-level
team to Kiev and urged Ukraine to avoid hasty actions. On the
same day a working group of representatives from the republics
met in the USSR Supreme Soviet to work out a temporary defense
agreement, Interfax reported. On December 14, Yeltsin met with
Shaposhnikov to discuss defense matters including--according
to TASS--"possible candidates for the post of commander-in-chief"
of the united armed forces. (Stephen Foye)

WARNINGS FROM THE RIGHT. Maj. Gen. Leonid Kozhendaev, who earlier
warned that commanders in the General Staff were growing impatient
with the political leadership, repeated his charges on December
15 on Central TV. Apparently dismissing the Commonwealth agreement
and Yeltsin's meeting with senior commanders, Kozhendaev said
that conditions continue to worsen in the country and that the
Soviet people stand behind the Union. On December 14, as reported
by Western agencies, Rutskoi warned that the army was in an "explosive"
state, that it felt ambiguous about the new commonwealth, that
it was tired "of empty rhetoric and uncertainty" over its fate.
(Stephen Foye)

VNESHEKONOMBANK NEARLY BROKE. RSFSR Deputy Prime Minister Egor
Gaidar declared on December 14 that Vneshekonombank's balance
as of December 12 was down to $60 million, TASS and Interfax
reported December 14. He said that hard currency is no longer
forthcoming from the West, nor are republics transferring part
of their hard-currency earnings. Gaidar announced that the RSFSR
government is auditing loans given to former central agencies
and that Russia hassharply reduced its hard-currency spending,
using it exclusively to import food, spare parts, and equipment
for chemical and light industries. He was not quoted as mentioning
the importation of medicines. (Keith Bush)

SALE OF INTERNATIONAL RAIL TICKETS SUSPENDED. The head of Moscow's
international rail agency told TASS on December 14 that the sale
of international rail tickets had been suspended. Sales had been
halted because the railway ministry could not pay its debts of
$150 million to foreign companies to cover portions of journeys
on their territory. The ministry also had lost access to computers
that are used to order international tickets. The official, Ivan
Shchirenko, said that attempts to obtain help from RSFSR government
and banking officials had yielded no results, and warned that
the ministry would soon be obliged to halt trains operating to
Europe and to Asia. (Keith Bush)

WORLD BANK REPORT ON SOVIET DEBT. In its annual review of world
debt released on December16, the World Bank estimated the Soviet
Union's total foreign debt at the end of 1991 at $57-71billion,
RFE/RL's Washingtoncorrespondent reported that day. Although
the debt-service ratio of the former USSR is relativelylow at
25-30%, its liquidity problems are particularly acute in 1991
and 1992 due to bunching. Thus, the USSR's total debt-payment
obligations in 1991 amounted to as much as $26 billion. The USSR's
commercial arrears amounted to $3.5 billion at the end of August,
but credits in Western banks had been drawn down appreciably.
(Robert Lyle/Keith Bush)

IMF SETS UP SOVIET, BALTIC DEPARTMENT. The International Monetary
Fund announced on December 12 that it has created a new department
to deal with the Baltic states, the Soviet Union, and its republics,
RFE/RL's Washington bureau reported December 13. The IMF staff
will extend advice and assistance on such matters as banking,
taxation, and statistics, but the Fund will not as yet be offering
loans. Fund experts are already providing technical help to the
central government as well as to most of the republics individually.
It was also announced that the IMF is seeking to hire an additional
280 staff members to cover the Baltic states and the former USSR.
(Keith Bush)



USSR--REPUBLICS AND SUCCESSOR STATES



POPOV ANNOUNCES RESIGNATION. Moscow Mayor Gavriil Popov announced
his resignation during the founding congress of the Movement
for Democratic Reforms in Moscow on December 15, Radio Moscow
reported. Popov had been threatening to resign since the Moscow
City Council recently reversed his plans to introduce wide-scale
privatization in Moscow. The mayor also indicated that he had
reservations about Yeltsin's economic reform program. Popov,
elected mayor on June 11, 1991, said that bureaucratic opposition
made it impossible for him to fulfill the promises he had made
to the voters. (Carla Thorson)

RSFSR DEFENSE BUDGET. Interfax reported on December 12 that the
RSFSR defense budget for 1992 is expected to be 323.5 billion
rubles. It said that the USSR defense budget could read 529.4
billion rubles in 1992, with Russia's share being 61.3%. Calculations
were reportedly made using 1992 prices. (Stephen Foye)

MILITARY MOVEMENTS CIRCUMSCRIBED. The Presidium of the Moscow
Oblast' Soviet has adopted a decision requiring that it be informed
of all planned movements of military units in the region, Radio
Moscow reported on December 12. (Stephen Foye)

DNIESTER SITUATION. On December 13, the would-be Dniester SSR's
paramilitary detachments machinegunned and overran a Moldavian
police post on the Dniester bridge at Dubasari. For the first
time in the recent series of attacks on the police, the latter
returned the fire and recaptured the lost position as well as
a police station lost earlier. The casualties were 4 policemen
killed and 11 injured, and 3 "Dniester SSR" fighters killed and
3 injured. Also on December 13, "Dniester SSR" armed units seized
the raion soviet building in Dubasari and the city soviet building
in Bendery, and renewed the siege of police stations in the two
towns. The preceding night, at least 4 Moldavian policemen were
picked off the street in Dubasari and are being held hostage.
On December 14, another Moldavian policeman was critically wounded
in a sniper attack. (Vladimir Socor)

MILITARY INVOLVEMENT CONTINUES. As in the preceding incidents,
uniformed soldiers and officers of locally based army units were
seen among the "Dniester SSR" detachments. Radio Tiraspol announced
on December 13 that Lt. Gen. Gennadii Yakovlev, commander of
the 14th army headquartered there, who had accepted appointment
as chief of defense and security for the "Dniester SSR," officially
took up that post that day. (Vladimir Socor)

KISHINEV'S REACTION. The Moldavian parliament's presidium issued
a statement on December 13 decrying the attacks on lawful authorities
as an attempt by "the most reactionary forces of the agonizing
empire" to "start a civil war in Moldavia." The presidium appealed
to the population for calm and cooperation in localizing the
conflict, and urged that unlawfully held weapons be turned over
to the authorities. The presidium also charged that the clash
was "deliberately provoked to torpedo the RSFSR's ratification
of the Moldavia-RSFSR state treaty" and President Mircea Snegur's
talks with Yeltsin, Kravchuk, and Shushkevich scheduled for December
12 through 15. On December 13, Snegur broke off his official
tour of the three Slavic capitals and returned home. Moldavian
Prime Minister Valeriu Muravschi and several members of the parliament's
presidium rushed to Dubasari on December 13 to help defuse the
conflict. (Vladimir Socor)


EASTERN EUROPE


BALTIC STATES


ANTI-BALTIC DEMONSTRATIONS IN MOSCOW. Radio Riga reported on
December 15 that yet another anti-democratic and anti-Latvian
demonstration had been held earlier that day in front of the
Latvian representation building in Moscow. For nearly two months
such demonstrations have been held by conservative Russian groups
supporting the CPSU, the USSR, Soviet armed forces, and OMON.
The demonstration on December 15 was somewhat smaller than earlier
ones, since similar demonstrations were held concurrently in
front of the Estonian and Lithuanian representation buildings
in the city. The demonstrators called for the release of all
imprisoned communists, and for freedom for Erich Honecker and
Walter Ulbricht (despite the fact that he died in 1973). These
demonstrations were organized by followers of Vladimir Zhirinovsky
and the main speaker was Col. Viktor Alksnis. (Dzintra Bungs)


EFTA EXPANDS TIES WITH THE BALTIC STATES. Latvian Minister of
State Janis Dinevics told Radio Riga on December 13 that Estonia,Latvia,
and Lithuania had signed in Geneva declarations that could pave
the way for Baltic membership in European Free Trade Association
(EFTA). After the signing of the declarations on December 10,
the current EFTA chairman, Finland's Foreign Trade Minister Pertti
Salolainen, told Western agencies that the declarations showed
EFTA's recognition of the need to support political and economic
reforms in the former communist states. On December 10 EFTA also
pledged to provide aid to help the Baltic States, Bulgaria, and
Romania join the process of European integration and build their
own market economies. (Dzintra Bungs)

THIRD SAJUDIS CONGRESS. On December 14-15 in Vilnius about 1,000
delegates attended the third Sajudis congress and heard Chairman
of the Supreme Council Vytautas Landsbergis, Prime Minister Gediminas
Vagnorius, and Sajudis chairman Juozas Tumelis address the opening
session. The congress discussed the need to change the Sajudis
program, and many speakers stressed the need to support the referendum
on the establishment of a Lithuanian presidency. The congress
elected Landsbergis as honorary chairman of Sajudis, but, not
being able to complete its work, will continue its work on December
22. The congress was broadcast live by Lithuanian television
and second radio program. (Saulius Girnius)

IGNALINA ATOMIC POWER PLANT. On December14 Radio Lithuania reported
that Lithuanian Energy Minister Leonas Asmantas has appointed
a new director of the Ignalina Atomic Power Plant. The director
said that the plant already has enough fuel to last until April
and that agreements for future fuel shipments from Russia are
ready for signing. He also said that the Soviet military has
agreed to transfer the protection of the power plant to Lithuanian
forces, which should take over the guard duty in a week or two.
(Saulius Girnius)


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