Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov
RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 239, 18 December 1991



USSR--ALL-UNION AND INTER-REPUBLICAN TOPICS



USSR WILL CEASE TO EXIST BY JANUARY 1. USSR President Mikhail
Gorbachev and RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin agreed at a two-hour
meeting on December 17 that the Soviet Union would cease to exist
on January 1, Western media reported on December 17. Yeltsin's
spokesman Pavel Voshchanov said that Gorbachev had agreed that
the process of a transition of Union structures to the new commonwealth
would be finished by the end of the year. Gorbachev's press spokesman,
Andrei Grachev, said on December 17 that the USSR would continue
to exist until constitutional decisions had been taken about
the creation of its replacement, TASS reported December 17. He
suggested that, allowing time for decisions taken at the meeting
of republican presidents in Alma-Ata on December 21 to be ratified
by their parliaments, this could take until mid-January. Grachev
said that Gorbachev's position on resignation had not changed.
(Ann Sheehy)

GORBACHEV AND ALMA-ATA MEETING. Gorbachev told Yeltsin that he
intended to send a lengthy statement of his views on the main
questions to be discussed at meeting in Alma-Ata on December21
that will decide on the structures of the commonwealth to the
meeting's participants. Invitations to the meeting have been
sent to the heads of all 12 republics. Nine are expected to attend--the
three Slavic republics, Kazakhstan, the four Central Asian republics,
and Armenia. Grachev implied that Gorbachev would be interested
in attending if he were asked. (Ann Sheehy)

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL AIDE SEES COMMONWEALTH AS TEMPORARY. Dmitrii
Pavlychko, chairman of the Ukrainian parliament's Foreign Affairs
Committee and a senior adviser to the Ukrainian president, told
journalists in Kiev on December 17 that Ukraine regarded the
commonwealth as a temporary system that would be discarded after
Soviet nuclear weapons were destroyed, The Chicago Tribune reported
on December 18. Pavlychko said the commonwealth should play merely
a transitional role as the Soviet republics consolidate their
independence and develop economic relations. (Ann Sheehy)

YELTSIN TELLS SHEVARDNADZE TO RESIGN. After telling Gorbachev
to resign and relinquish his "black briefcase" containing nuclear
codes by mid-January, Yeltsin has now urged USSR Minister of
External Relations Eduard Shevardnadze to do the same. Yeltsin
told La Repubblica on December 17 that he has informed Shevardnadze
that he will sign a decree to merge the USSR Ministry of External
Relations with the Russian Foreign Ministry. Yeltsin said that
the new Commonwealth will be reminiscent of the EC and the British
Commonwealth. He added that, for the moment, the only coordinating
structure is the central strategic forces command which will
be set up as the Defense Council of the Commonwealth. (Alexander
Rahr)

BUT WILL SHEVARDNADZE BECOME RSFSR FOREIGN MINISTER ? Meanwhile,
the Japanese news agency Jiji Press on December 17 quoted the
chief of the Pacific Ocean and Southeast Asian Countries Department
of the USSR Ministry of External Relations, Aleksandr Panov,
as saying that Yeltsin favors Shevardnadze to become Russia's
new foreign minister. The present RSFSR Foreign Minister, Andrei
Kozyrev, is likely to become Russian ambassador to France. Panov
reportedly said that Yeltsin hopes that, by appointing Shevardnadze,
relations between Russia and the West would immediately stabilize.
(Alexander Rahr)

KAZAHKSTAN WANTS TO KEEP ITS NUKES. During his joint news conference
with US Secretary of State James Baker on December 17, Kazakhstan
President Nursultan Nazarbaev said that his republic would not
give up all the nuclear weapons stationed on its territory as
long as nuclear weapons remained in Russia. Numerous Western
newspapers on December 18 carried Nazarbaev's remarks. There
are 104 SS-18 ICBMs in Kazakhstan. Nazarbaev's declaration contradicts
earlier Russian statements that ultimately Russia would be the
only nuclear state in the new commonwealth, and shows that these
weapons will continue to be bargaining chips as the republican
leaders jockey for power as the Soviet Union disintegrates. (Doug
Clarke)

TEN YEARS TO DESTROY SOVIET TACTICAL NUKES. An official of the
Soviet nuclear arms complex has said that it will take 10 years
and $2 billion to destroy all Soviet tactical nuclear weapons.
Viktor N. Mikhailov was addressing a Moscow conference of Soviet
and American experts studying the technical problems of warhead
dismantlement, and was quoted in The New York Times of December18.
He urged that the $400 million in pledged American aid for this
project be used to built a storage site for the fissionable material
from the retired warheads, and said that it should be under "joint
control." (Doug Clarke)

DECREE ON MILITARY SERVICE. On December17 Krasnaya zvezda published
two decrees on military service issued by Gorbachev. The first
involved changes in the military oath, while the second, an amendment
to the disciplinary code, makes officers legally responsible
for the orders they issue. It also entitles a serviceman to ask
for clarification of an order. (Stephen Foye)

MILITARY DELEGATION IN KIEV. According to an unconfirmed report
broadcast by Radio Moscow on December 16, a high level Defense
Ministry delegation met earlier that day with Ukrainian Defense
Minister Konstantin Morozov. The delegation from Moscow reportedly
insisted on a broader definition of "strategic" forces that would
include at least some tank and infantry units, insofar as they
are equipped with tactical nuclear weapons. (Stephen Foye)

GENERAL WARNS REPUBLICS. Interviewed by the conservative Sovetskaya
Rossiya on December 17, Defense Ministry spokesman Lieutenant
General Leonid Ivashov suggested that the army was being provoked
to a dangerous degree in the Baltic, Transcaucasus, and North
Caucasus. He said that the patience of servicemen is not infinite,
criticized attempts to seize army property, and warned that any
annexation of army facilities could destroy the defense and security
system of the republics. (Stephen Foye)

RUSSIA CLAIMS SOVIET PARLIAMENT BUILDING. Deputies to the USSR
Supreme Soviet, meeting in Moscow on December 17 for what was
probably the last session of the Soviet parliament, criticized
moves by the RSFSR Supreme Soviet, announced December 16, to
take over the USSR Supreme Soviet's imposing Kremlin premises
and appropriate its assets. As reported by TASS, Tajik deputy
Bozorali Safarov called the Russian move illegal and proposed
appealing to an international court. But TASS also quoted RSFSR
Supreme Soviet Chairman Ruslan Khasbulatov as saying the Russian
parliament did not intend to declare itself the legal successor
to the Soviet parliament and would share the assets with other
republics. (Elizabeth Teague)

AGREEMENT ON SOVIET DEBT DEFERRAL. Representatives from the committee
of Western creditor banks, Vneshekonombank, and the Russian Central
Bank have been meeting in Frankfurt to discuss Soviet debt repayment.
Early on December17, they announced that agreement had been reached
on deferring Soviet payments on principal due this month through
March 1992, Western agencies reported that day. The amount involved
was not disclosed, but it is believed to total about $8billion,
including $3.4 billion this month. Thesuspension of payments
covers only debts contracted before January 1, 1991, and it excludes
government stocks, short-term loans from financial bodies, and
bonds placed with private investors. (Keith Bush)

MORE AEROFLOT FLIGHTS CANCELLED. According to CTV of December
17, Aeroflot has cancelled a further 75 flights and 87 airports
are closed to traffic. The program gave a list of cities where
no aviation fuel is available. Tens of thousands of would-be
passengers were said to be stranded at airports around the country.
(Keith Bush)

EUROPEAN ENERGY CHARTER SIGNED. Signatures or proxy signatures
from all 12 republics of the former USSR were among the 45 on
the new European Energy Charter that was signed on December 17
in the Hague, Western agencies reported that day. Russian Energy
Minister Vladimir Lopukhin told the meeting that the RSFSR plans
to establish up to 12 oil firms based on Western models within
six months. Russia has already dismantled the central ministries
that had hitherto controlled oil and gas output. (Keith Bush)


FREIGHT CHARGES ON GRAIN SHIPMENTS UNPAID. Officials of the US
Department of Agriculture told Western agencies on December 13
that the freight costs on some American grain shipments have
not been paid by the Soviet authorities and that some ships in
Soviet waters were refusing to unload. It was estimated that
10-12 vessels were tied up in Soviet ports awaiting payment,
and the default could impact on other ships en route or even
on those presently loading. [It is thought that over 45 million
tons of Western grain and feed have been ordered for delivery
during the marketing year 1991/92, which will put a substantial
strain on Soviet port and handling facilities]. (Keith Bush)


CENTRAL SOVIET TV AND RADIO UNDER RUSSIAN JURISDICTION. Soviet
central radio and television will be put under the RSFSR's jurisdiction
in the next few days, TASS and Radio Rossii reported December
17. According to the reports, Egor Yakovlev will remain in charge
of these broadcasting entities. Prominent Russian businessman
Konstantin Borovoi reportedly will be appointed economic adviser
to Yakovlev. (Vera Tolz)

RUTSKOI TO SEEK AFGHAN SETTLEMENT. Russian Vice President Aleksandr
Rutskoi arrived in Iran on December 17, according to The Independent
of that date, on the first leg of a trip aimed at forging a settlement
to the conflict in Afghanistan, Rutskoi, himself a Soviet veteran
of the Afghan war, will continue on to Pakistan on December 19
to meet with Afghan resistance leaders, and then travel to Kabul.
Rutskoi's initiative has drawn criticism from Central Asian republics,
which feel that Russia is freezing them out of the peace process
in the region, and from the USSR External Relations Ministry,
which views Rutskoi as too conciliatory toward the Afghan resistance.
However, the USSR did halt arms shipments to the Kabul government
last weekend, several weeks early, in an apparent goodwill gesture.
(Sallie Wise Chaballier)

BISHOPS' SYNOD IN ROME APPEALS TO ORTHODOX CHURCHES. Welt am
Sonntag reported on December 15 that the Bishops' Synod, which
ended a two-week meeting in Rome on December 14, addressed a
letter to leaders of the Orthodox Churches who refused to send
representatives to the Synod in protest against the Vatican's
activities in some East European countries and the former Soviet
republics. The authors of the appeal confirmed their readiness
to conduct a dialogue with these Churches. (Oxana Antic)


USSR--REPUBLICS AND SUCCESSOR STATES


MOSCOW CITY COUNCIL WANTS POPOV TO RECONSIDER. The Moscow City
Council, at odds with the city's mayor Gavriil Popov, nevertheless
seems to want Popov to continue in his post. Radio Rossii, quoting
RIA, reported on December 17 that the City Council has appealed
to Popov not to resign. Popov announced over the weekend that
he planned to resign by the end of this year, citing the Council's
cancellation of his privatization program as his reason for stepping
down. (Sallie Wise Chaballier)

JESUITS RETURNING TO RUSSIA. In connection with the opening of
three representations of the "Society of Jesus" in Russia, Irma
Mamaladze discussed with Father Giuseppe Pittau, the Vatican's
specialist on Eastern affairs, the history of the order and its
relations with Russia in Literaturnaya gazeta, No. 48. (Oxana
Antic)

LEFT-BANK MOLDAVIANS APPEAL TO WORLD. . . A rally held on December
17 at the Tiraspol Pedagogical Institute--the last Moldavian
cultural institution on the left bank--to mourn the victims of
recent violence on the Dniester passed a resolution decrying
"the putsch by anti-democratic and militarist forces . . . a
link in a chain which began with the repression in the Baltic
States in January and the attempted coup d'état in August this
year." It called on democrats in former Soviet republics, the
new Commonwealth, and Western parliaments and NGOs for assistance
in "settling the conflict on the Dniester before another escalation
occurs." Kishinev shortly before the clash in Dubasari had appealed
to the UN and other international organizations for assistance
in defusing the threat, and has since renewed the appeal. (Vladimir
Socor)

. . . AND TO UN. In an appeal via Snegur to the UN on December
14, a large group of Moldavian residents from raions on the left
bank of the Dniester decried "anti-Moldavian incitement by local
[Russian-language] media" and discriminatory measures against
Moldavians there "who form over 40% of the population." The appeal
pointed to the "Dniester SSR"'s measures jamming Radio Kishinev
broadcasts to the left bank, restricting the use of the Latin
script in schools, and replacing "Moldo-Romanian" with Soviet
history in the curriculum of Moldavian schools. (Vladimir Socor)


EASTERN EUROPE


BALTIC STATES


SOVIET TROOPS DENIED ENTRY TO TALLINN. Authorities in Estonia
denied about 1,000 Soviet soldiers entry to the capital city
of Tallinn on December 17, according to Estonian and Western
agency reports. Estonian home guards surrounded the central train
station in Tallinn to keep the soldiers from entering the city.
The Estonian Foreign Ministry formally protested to the USSR
Foreign Ministry in Moscow pointing out that the arrival of the
Soviet troops violates Soviet-Estonian agreements. Finnish reports
indicated that the soldiers were fed by the Estonians and some
of them were moved to Rakvere in northeastern Estonia. (Dzintra
Bungs)

SAJUDIS DEMANDS DEPARTURE OF SOVIET TROOPS. At its third congress
Sajudis issued a strongly worded demand for the departure of
USSR troops from Lithuania by the end of this year, Western agencies
reported on December 17. The Soviet servicemen sent a reply to
Supreme Council Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis saying that the
demand was insulting and might trigger strong negative reactions
on the party of the Soviet military. In a separate move, the
Lithuanian government ordered that Soviet military intelligence
units stationed in Lithuania be banned as of December19. (Dzintra
Bungs)

AFB COOPERATES WITH LATVIAN SECURITY SERVICE. The RSFSR Federal
Security Agency (AFB) has handed over to Latvian authorities
lists of the KGB secret informers and foreign agents and other
data, Aleksandr Oligov, chief of the AFP Public Relations Offiflce,
told Russian TV on December 10. While voicing concern about the
security of foreign agents connected with the former Latvian
SSR KGB, Oligov also expressed faith that the Latvian authorities
would put their national interests above other considerations.
Oligov said that he joins his MVD colleagues demanding the release
of Sergei Parfenov, a leader of the OMON unit that was stationed
near Riga. He claims the arrest was made by Latvian authorities
on Russian territory, though Parfenov was detained by RSFSR officials
cooperating with the Latvian authorities. (Victor Yasmann).

GODMANIS CRACKS DOWN ON CORRUPTION IN LATVIA. In his address
to the convention of Latvia's local government representatives
on December 17, Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis announced a wide-ranging
crackdown on corruption and Mafifla-like organizations in Latvia,
reported Diena that day. He said that the government would resort
to "a policy of total repression" against the wrongdoers. Several
Supreme Council deputies reacted somewhat skeptically to Godmanis's
strong words, pointing out that complete success of such an operation
may not be possible and advising that a crackdown also be launched
in the government structures. (Dzintra Bungs)

BALTIC SECURITY SEMINAR IN VILNIUS. Radio Riga reported on December
17 that a seminar on the defense and security of Estonia, Latvia,
and Lithuania started that day in Vilnius. The Latvian delegation
is headed by Defense Minister Talavs Jundzis. The fiflrst such
meeting was held earlier this year in Tallinn and early next
year a similar meeting may be held in Riga. (Dzintra Bungs)


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

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