...ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country. - John F. Kennedy
RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 238, 17 December 1991



USSR--ALL-UNION AND INTER-REPUBLICAN TOPICS



YELTSIN PRESENTS GORBACHEV WITH ULTIMATUM. RSFSR President Boris
Yeltsin is reported to have told USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev
in a private meeting to resign by the middle of January, according
to Western news agency reports on December 16. At a recent meeting
with USSR Defense Minister Evgenii Shaposhnikov, Yeltsin reportedly
excluded the possibility that Gorbachev will be named as commander-in-chief
of the Commonwealth's joint armed forces, and stressed that a
military man, who would be completely subordinated to the heads
of independent states, should get this job. According to Gorbachev's
aide Grigorii Revenko, Gorbachev will not resign formally but
simply say that he is no longer capable of carrying out his duties.
(Alexander Rahr)

CONTROL OF SOVIET NUKES. In a statement read on Russian TV on
December 16, Yeltsin explained that control of nuclear weapons
in the new Commonwealth would be in the hands of the leaders
of the four nuclear republics, plus "the supreme commander-in-chief."
They would consult with each other, but any launch order would
come from a "unified center." Yeltsin acknowledged that Ukraine
and Belorussia would not transfer the strategic nuclear weapons
on their territory to Russia, but would insist that they be destroyed
in place. He said that further talks would be held with Kazakhstan
on this matter. In a interview published in Le Monde on December
16, General Konstantin Kobets--touted to be the Russian defense
minister--said that Gorbachev would remain in command of the
armed forces "for a few more months." Kobets claimed that all
tactical nuclear weapons, and all the nuclear warheads for strategic
weapons, would be returned to Russia, and that in the future
all nuclear weapons "will be exclusively in Russia's hands."
(Doug Clarke)

BURBULIS ON COMMONWEALTH INSTITUTIONS. RSFSR First Deputy Prime
Minister Gennadii Burbulis told Le Figaro on December 14 that
Russia, as well as a representative of the Commonwealth of Independent
States, should have a seat on the UN Security Council. He also
said that the coordinating bodies of the Commonwealth will be
a Council of Heads of States, a Council of Heads of Governments,
and an institution which coordinates policy. The post of chief
coordinator of Commonwealth policy should rotate among the heads
of states, he added. Burbulis did not exclude that a new, stronger
union could emerge from the Commonwealth in the future. (Alexander
Rahr)

BIG CUTS IN DEFENSE SPENDING? Russian Federation Economics and
Finance Minister Egor Gaidar told ABC on December 15 that the
governments of Russia, Ukraine, and Belorussia--currently at
work on next year's military budget--"are trying to implement
radical defense spending cuts on all military programs, including...
nuclear weapons." His remarks were reported by TASS on December
16. (Stephen Foye)

GROUND FORCES CUT BACK EXERCISES. Colonel General Eduard Vorobyev,
deputy CINC of Ground Forces, told TASS on December 12 that tactical
exercises have been reduced considerably. He attributed the cuts
to political tensions, problems with the withdrawal from Eastern
Europe, lack of funding, and manpower shortages. (Stephen Foye)


TURKEY RECOGNIZES INDEPENDENT REPUBLICS. On December 16 Turkish
government spokesman Akin Gonen announced that Turkey recognizes
all independent Soviet republics, Western agencies reported that
day. Turkey had previously extended full diplomatic recognition
to the three Baltic republics and Azerbaijan. (Saulius Girnius)


HONECKER MAY FLY TO NORTH KOREA. Russian authorities appear to
have abandoned their efforts to expel former GDR leader Erich
Honecker from Russia. Honecker sought refuge in Chile's embassy
in Moscow last week to avoid repatriation to Germany to face
trial on manslaughter charges. According to The Los Angeles Times
of December 17, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev said on
December 16 that "the Russian Federation has nothing to do [with
the Honecker affair] altogether. It is a matter for Germany and
Chile to decide." Meanwhile, Western agencies reported December
17 that a North Korean airliner is waiting to take Honecker and
his wife to North Korea. But a North Korean embassy spokesman
in Moscow said his government has received no answer to its offer
to accept Honecker for medical treatment. (Sallie Wise Chaballier)


KGB MILITARY COUNTER-INTELLIGENCE STAYS IN ARMY. In an interview
with Izvestia of December 6, Major General Yurii Bulygin, Chief
of KGB Military Counter-Intelligence [Third Main Administration],
said that the major threat to the Soviet Army is an internal
one, linked to the danger that the Armed Forces' moral and psychological
potential could be undermined. Although his administration will
protect the Army from external threats, such as espionage and
terrorism, Bulygin did not exclude cooperation with western secret
services in some areas. On the domestic front, the administration
will protect the Army against organized crime, corruption, and
drug trafficking. Bulygin also advocated introducing a military
police force in the Soviet Army and renaming his service the
Main Military Administration of the Interrepublican Security
Service. (Victor Yasmann)

CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF MOSCOW ON SOVIET-CATHOLIC RELATIONS. TASS
reported from Rome on December 10 that Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz,
the Roman Catholic archbishop of Moscow, said at a press conference
held in connection with the special bishops' synod going on in
Rome that, since there is practically no Soviet Union any longer,
the interlocutor of the Catholic Church in Russia today is Yeltsin.
The archbishop also said that the proposed visit of Pope John
Paul II to the USSR is not feasible at present because of strained
relations between the Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church.
(Oxana Antic)


USSR--REPUBLICS AND SUCCESSOR STATES


KAZAKHSTAN DECLARES INDEPENDENCE. Kazakhstan's Supreme Soviet
adopted a declaration of independence on December 16, according
to a KazTAG report of that day. In doing so, the legislators
acknowledged the reality of the republic's situation since the
dissolution of the USSR. How the inhabitants of the northern
oblasts that are populated largely by Russians will react to
the declaration remains to be seen. According to the report,
the declaration states that the present boundaries of the republic
are inviolable. The same day, Kazakhstan's President Nursultan
Nazarbaev proclaimed December 17 a Day of Democratic Renewal,
according to Radio Moscow. It commemorates not only the independence
declaration, but also the protests of 1986 in Alma-Ata, which
began on December 17. (Bess Brown)

KARIMOV VISITS TURKEY. On December 16, Soviet news services reported
the arrival in Turkey of an Uzbek government delegation led by
President Islam Karimov. It is his first trip abroad since Uzbekistan
declared its independence. The Uzbeks are seeking Turkish assistance
in the transition to a market economy, and also want Turkey to
agree to an exchange of consulates. (Bess Brown)

TURKMEN COMMUNIST PARTY CHANGES NAME. The Communist Party of
Turkmenistan has voted at a special congress to dissolve itself
and reconstitute itself as the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan,
according to a TASS report of December 16. The name Democratic
Party had already been taken by a small opposition group which
has been refused registration. (Bess Brown)

KAZAKH OPPOSITION JAILED. Three members of the tiny Alash Party
of Kazakhstan have been jailed for invading an Alma-Ata mosque
on December 13 and beating up the head of the Muslim Religious
Board for Kazakhstan, TASS reported on December 16. Alash, which
has been refused registration on grounds of extreme nationalist
positions (members believe that non-Kazakhs should be forcibly
driven out of Kazakhstan) want the head of the Religious Board
removed from office because he does not agree with their vision
of an Islamicized society. (Bess Brown)

ENERGY CRISIS IN CENTRAL ASIA. On December 8, Central TV summarized
the effects of the current energy crisis in Central Asia: in
Kyrgyzstan, kerosene for heating and cooking is in short supply,
and airline flights have had to be rescheduled because of lack
of fuel at the Bishkek airport. No gasoline or diesel fuel has
been shipped to the republic, which is entirely dependent on
outside sources for these products, since the beginning of December.
In Uzbekistan, many homes receive electricity only a few hours
per day, and in Tajikistan electric power to industry has been
cut by 15%, and street lighting has been reduced. A December
8 TASS report attributed the power shortage in Tajikistan to
lack of fuel for Uzbekistan's generating plants, which supply
the neighbor republic in winter months. (Bess Brown)

SHAKHRAI APPOINTED YELTSIN'S DEPUTY. Thirty-four-year-old Sergei
Shakhrai has been appointed RSFSR Deputy Prime Minister in charge
of supervision of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the State
Committee for Defense, and the Federal Security Agency (the former
KGB). Interfax reported on December 14 that Shakhrai, who previously
had worked as RSFSR State Counsellor for legal affairs, will
also supervise the Ministry of Justice and the newly created
State Committee for Nationalities Policies. With the appointment
of Shakhrai, the formation of the top leadership of the RSFSR
Government is accomplished. It now consists of Yeltsin, his first
deputy Burbulis, and the three "ordinary" deputies--Shakhrai,
Gaidar, and Aleksandr Shokhin. (Alexander Rahr)

RSFSR INDUSTRIAL MINISTER ON REFORM, PRIVATIZATION. RSFSR Minister
of Industry Aleksandr Titkin told a conference of officials from
the machine-building industries that the privatization of large
enterprises should not be an uncontrolled process, TASS reported
on December 10. Titkin argued that, with uncontrolled privatization,
"we will quickly find ourselves without high-technology products,
in the first place machine tools." Still, Titkin said that the
government should support entrepreneurs and the development of
small businesses in industry. A major obstacle to that support,
however, is a shortage of investment funds and the weak fiscal
position of the RSFSR government. This suggests that privatization
in the RSFSR might not go as quickly as Yeltsin's reform plans
would indicate. (John Tedstrom)

CLAMPDOWN ON HARD CURRENCY WITHHOLDING. RSFSR Central Bank Chairman
Dmitrii Tulin told TASS on December 16 that Russian enterprises
had been ordered to refrain from keeping hard currency accounts
abroad. [Many firms have been refusing to pay the 40% tax levied
on hard-currency earnings, which is one of the reasons for the
current liquidity squeeze]. Tulin said that the RSFSR Supreme
Soviet plans legislation later this month to establish a Russian
hard currency reserve. The law will stipulate how much enterprises
will have to pay into this reserve, which will be used to buy
goods for the RSFSR. (Keith Bush)

FOOD SUPPLY REVIEW. Starting on December15, armed troops were
to accompany shipments of foodstuffs between warehouses and retail
outlets in St. Petersburg, according to Radio Moscow of December
14. Moscow bakeries were reported by TASS of December 16 to be
working at capacity, but the needs of the population "could not
be fully met." And TASS of the same date reported that bread-rationing
has been introduced in parts of the Altai region--a major grain-growing
area. (Keith Bush)

BELORUSSIA SUBSTITUTES COUPONS FOR RUBLES. As TASS reported on
December 14, as of January Belorussians will be receiving 60%
of their salaries in coupons and the remainder in rubles. Pensioners
and students will be paid in coupons only. The measures were
taken to stabilize the flow of rubles in the republic. (Kathy
Mihalisko)

DNIESTER SITUATION. On December 15,members of a Conciliation
Commission formed by President Mircea Snegur the preceding day
(comprised of officials from Kishinev and the left bank of the
Dniester) signed in the village of Dzerzhinskoe a protocol on
the disengagement of opposing forces in theDubasari area. The
protocol's sole known point, as reportedby Moldovapres on December
16, provides for theforces to be returned to the bases where
they are permanently stationed. Snegur, the government, and the
parliament have declared December 17 a day of national mourning
for the burial of the 7 killed in the Dubasari clash of December
13. (Vladimir Socor)

ONE-SIDED INTERNATIONALIZATION OF DNIESTER CONFLICT. Under a
decision "to provide any necessary help" to the "Dniester SSR,"
the self-styled Gagauz Supreme Soviet has "brought the Gagauz
defense forces to a state of full readiness," TASS reported on
December 14. Volunteers from St. Petersburg and from the All-Russian
Cossack Union arrived on the Dniester's left bank "to defend
the Slavs" there, Moldovapres and Western news agencies reported
on December 15. The Chief of Staff of a Cossack Host from Southern
Russia cabled the Moldavian government threatening to send more
volunteers and military equipment to the left bank of the Dniester.
In Riga, local Russians mounted pickets in support of local ex-OMON
officers on trial for their crimes and against "Moldavia's actions
on the Dniester," Russian TV's "Vesti" reported on December 14.
(Vladimir Socor)



EASTERN EUROPE

BALTIC STATES


GORBACHEV APPOINTS NEW DELEGATION HEADS FOR BALTIC TALKS. USSR
President Mikhail Gorbachev appointed three Soviet diplomats
to lead the Soviet delegations for talks with the Baltic States.
According to Radio Rossiya of December 16, the new delegation
heads are: Yurii Dubinin (replacing St. Petersburg mayor Anatolii
Sobchak) for talks with Estonia; Valentin Kopteltsev (replacing
Soviet presidential advisor Aleksandr Yakovlev) for Latvia; and
Viktor Smolin (replacing Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze)
for Lithuania. No indication was given when the Soviet-Baltic
negotiations would start. (Dzintra Bungs)

BALTIC STATES ASK UN TO HELP REMOVE SOVIET TROOPS. In a joint
letter addressed to UN Secretary-General Javier Pirez de Cuillar
the ambassadors of the Baltic States asked for help in removing
Soviet troops from their territory, Radio Lithuania reported
on December 16. Although the USSR recognized the Baltic States'
independence on September6, it has done nothing to remove the
troops or sign a treaty or agreement legalizing their presence.
With the disintegration of the USSR, the ambassadors wrote, there
is "a real possibility" that the center will be unable to control
its troops in the Baltic, some of whose officers "have openly
suggested the possibility of remaining despite orders to the
contrary from Moscow." The letter asked the UN to monitor closely
the developing situation in their states. (Saulius Girnius)

OFFICIAL BELORUSSIAN DELEGATION VISITS LATVIA. An official delegation
from Belorussia, headed by Supreme Soviet Chairman Stanislau
Shushkevich, arrived in Riga on December 16, Radio Riga reported.
The guests were welcomed at the airport by Latvian Supreme Council
Chairman Anatolijs Gorbunovs and his wife. That afternoon Shushkevich
and Gorbunovs signed an accord on the principles of good-neighborly
relations between Latvia and Belorussia. This document will be
followed by specific accords on cooperation in other realms,
including ecology and culture. The economic and commercial accord,
signed earlier this month in Minsk, will go into effect on January 1,
1992. (Dzintra Bungs)

FOREIGN-BORN IN LATVIA. According to figures recently published
by the Latvian State Committee on Statistics, 26% of the 1989
population of Latvia were born outside the country. The majority
of foreign-born were Russians, Belorussians, and Ukrainians who
had recently migrated to Latvia. Forty-five percent of Russians
living in Latvia were born outside the country. The proportion
of those born outside of Latvia was much higher among more recent
inmigrants, such as Belorussians and Ukrainians. (Albert Motivans)


TURKEY TO ESTABLISH EMBASSY IN VILNIUS. On December16 Turkish
government spokesman Akin Gonen announced that Turkey recognizes
all independent Soviet republics, Western agencies reported.
Turkey had previously extended full diplomatic recognition to
the three Baltic republics and Azerbaijan. Gonen said that Turkey
would establish an embassy, not a consulate, in Vilnius, whose
ambassador would also be accredited to Latvia and Estonia. (Saulius
Girnius)


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