|Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov|
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)
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