You always pass failure on the way to success. - Mickey Rooney
RFE/RL Daily Report

No. 240, 19 December 1991



USSR--ALL-UNION AND INTER-REPUBLICAN TOPICS



GORBACHEV AGREES TO RESIGN. Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev
told ABC and the chairman of all-Union Television, Egor Yakovlev,
on December 18 that he would resign when the era of the Soviet
Union is finally over and that of the Commonwealth of Independent
States has begun, Inform-TV reported on December 18. Gorbachev
said that he intended to continue his political activity after
he retired. RIA reported on December 18 that Gorbachev would
dedicate himself to getting the West to boost its aid to the
new Commonwealth, particularly Russia. Gorbachev told deputies
of the Union parliament that in the transitional period to the
Commonwealth the parliament should hold a final session to transfer
its functions. (Ann Sheehy)

PLANS FOR TRANSITION TO COMMONWEALTH. The USSR Supreme Soviet's
Council of the Union's Legislative Committee has drawn up a draft
law for the transformation of the Soviet Union into a commonwealth,
Interfax reported on December 18. The draft calls for the Union
parliament to retain its powers until a new Commonwealth parliament
has been created. It also recommends retaining the Union ministries
of defense, interior, and foreign affairs, the supreme court
and arbitration court, state security agencies and procuracy
during the transition period. (Ann Sheehy)

BELORUSSIAN AMENDMENTS TO COMMONWEALTH AGREEMENT. The Commission
on Nationalities Policy of the Belorussian parliament has circulated
to republican Supreme Soviets draft amendments that it would
like to see made to the agreement creating the Commonwealth,
TASS reported on December 18. The proposals include provision
for sharing the valuables and property of the former USSR: gold
reserves, the undertakings of Goznak, Gokhran, the property of
the USSR's diplomatic representations abroad, the mint, Gosbank,
and the navy, merchant navy, and fishing fleet. The Commission
also suggests that states violating human or minority rights
or have frontier claims against another state should not be accepted
into the Commonwealth. (Ann Sheehy)

BURBULIS ON ALMA-ATA MEETING. RSFSR First Deputy Prime Minister
Gennadii Burbulis said at a press conference on December 18 that
the meeting of heads of the republics in Alma-Ata on December
21 would discuss and adopt the concept of a defense union, TASS
reported on December 18. The creation of councils of heads of
state and of heads of government, and of a defense council for
the commonwealth was also on the agenda. According to Burbulis,
Moldavian president Mircea Snegur "had confirmed the possibility
of Moldavia's participation in work on perfecting the [Commonwealth]
agreement." (Ann Sheehy)

SHEVARDNADZE TO MISS NATO MEETING. Soviet External Relations
Minister Eduard Shevardnadze will not attend the inaugural meeting
of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, to be held on December
20 in Brussels. According to Western agencies on December 18,
Shevardnadze declined the invitation and plans to send the Soviet
ambassador to Belgium in his place. The Council will bring together
the foreign ministers of the NATO countries, the former members
of the Warsaw Pact, and the newly-independent Baltic States.
(Doug Clarke)

CENTRAL ASIAN CONSULTATIVE COUNCIL MEETS. TASS reported on December
18 that the interrepublican consultative council set up by earlier
in the year by the five Central Asian republics had completed
its meeting in Ashkhabad. Four of the five agreed to cooperate
on construction of a rail line from the Turkmen town of Tedzhen
to Serakhs on the Iranian-Turkmen border. The meeting also dealt
with common use of Caspian Sea ports and ensuring that agreements
on interrepublican goods deliveries are carried out. Perhaps
most important, representatives of the five agreed on price policy.
(Bess Brown)

RUSSIAN COMMENTARY ON CENTRAL ASIA. The December 18 broadcast
of the Russian TV news show "Vesti" carried a commentary on the
political situation in Central Asia, noting that for the region
the notion of creating a "Turkestan," that is, a state encompassing
Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and perhaps
Kazakhstan, is of at least as great interest as the creation
of the Commonwealth of Independent States. In the opinion of
the commentator, Kyrgyzstan is so different from the others that
it might not fit with the others, where the main force opposing
the conservative Communist rulers is Islamic and nationalistic.
A change of rulers might mean the region would become more oriented
toward its Muslim neighbors. (Bess Brown)

FINLAND READIES TREATY WITH RUSSIA, SCRAPS USSR TREATY. TASS
reported from Helsinki on December 18 that Finland is preparing
a treaty with Russia, to be ready "in the near future," that
would be tantamount to recognition of Russia as an independent
state. Western agencies the same day quoted Finnish Foreign Minister
Paavo Vayrynen as saying that Russia had requested formal recognition
from Finland. A Finnish-Soviet treaty replacing the 1948 bilateral
friendship, cooperation and mutual defense pact was to have been
signed on December 18, but Finland cancelled the signing the
day before, saying it would negotiate with Russia instead. (Sallie
Wise Chaballier)

PLEAS FOR VARENNIKOV. One of the original "black colonels," Nikolai
Petrushenko, has volunteered to serve as a legal defender for
former Ground Forces Commander-in-chief Valentin Varennikov,
Radio Moscow reported on December16. Varennikov, like Petrushenko
a member of the "Soyuz" group, has been arrested for his role
in the August coup. According to Radio Rossii on December 17,
a request to release Varennikov from custody for reasons of failing
health was denied by the RSFSR prosecutor's office. (Stephen
Foye)

CRIMINAL CHARGES BROUGHT AGAINST CPSU. On December 7, Komsomol'skaya
pravda published an interview with two employees of the office
of the RSFSR General Prosecutor, Sergei Aristov and Vladimir
Dmitriev, who are investigating the CPSU's illegal commercial
activities, including its international financial dealings. The
investigators revealed that criminal charges have been filed
under four articles of the RSFSR Criminal Code. These are: (1)
contraband; (2) sabotage; (3) violations of rules on hard currency
operations; and (4) abuse of position. [Those found guilty of
these crimes could receive up to fifteen years of imprisonment,
and up to five years of internal exile.] Komsomol'skaya pravda
also claimed that some officials involved in the Party's machinations
today occupy important positions in the RSFSR government, including
RSFSR Deputy Finance Minister, V. Barchuk. (Julia Wishnevsky)




USSR--REPUBLICS AND SUCCESSOR STATES



YELTSIN TO ITALY. RSFSR President Yeltsin arrives in Italy on
December 19 to inform the Italian government and business leaders
about the new commonwealth accord, to negotiate the release of
a $6 billion credit line to the USSR which was frozen last month,
and to discuss Orthodox-Catholic tensions with Pope John Paul
II, Western news agencies reported that day. Italy is the first
Western country which has formally acknowledged that the USSR
has ceased to exist. (Alexander Rahr)

RUTSKOI HITS RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT. RSFSR Vice President Aleksandr
Rutskoi regards Yeltsin's take-over as Russian Prime Minister
a "serious mistake." He told Nezavisimaya gazeta on December
18 that Yeltsin is facing "heart problems" and should not take
"everything upon himself." (Rutskoi himself has wanted to become
Russia's premier in the past). He denounced the present RSFSR
government, saying that the Russian "White House" has become
a "place of intrigues." He complained that Yeltsin's closest
entourage is denying him proper access to the President and criticized
that some "former lecturers in Communism" (a clear reference
to RSFSR First Deputy Prime Minister Burbulis) were calling for
a "witch-hunt" against Communists. (Alexander Rahr)

FURTHER ECONOMIC DECREES APPROVED BY RSFSR GOVERNMENT. On December
18, the Russian government gave its approval to eleven decrees
on economic reform, welfare, and budget matters which were issued
by Yeltsin during the past month, Radio Rossii and TASS reported
that day. One decree set the new minimum wage with effect from
January 1992 at 342 rubles. Another decree instituted indexation
for certain levels of income, but details were not available.
All eleven decrees will be submitted to the RSFSR Supreme Soviet
for consideration. (Keith Bush)

RUSSIA REVISES OIL EXPORT LICENSES. During his visit to the Hague,
where he attended the inauguration of the European Energy Charter,
RSFSR Energy Minister Vladimir Lopukhin gave interviews to The
Financial Times and The Journal of Commerce, both of December 18. He
disclosed that, in the confusion after the August coup, Russia had lost
control over its oil export licenses, with the result that the
republic had committed itself to export up to 31 times more fuel
oil than was actually available. Similarly, in December, Russia
expected to export about 51 million barrels of crude, but had
issued licenses for 245 million. In mid-November, the RSFSR reregistered
some licenses and cancelled others. (Keith Bush)

WESTERN CONCERN ABOUT KAZAKHSTAN'S NUCLEAR WEAPONS. German media
on December 19 expressed concern over Kazakh President Nursultan
Nazarbaev's statement earlier in the week that Kazakhstan would
retain its nuclear arms as long as Russia does. Prior to the
closure of the Semipalatinsk nuclear weapons test site in August,
Nazarbaev and other republican officials had said that Kazakhstan
wanted to be nuclear-free, a position probably still supported
by many of the republic's inhabitants. Nazarbaev has given other
indications that he foresees friction with the Russian leadership--in
a statement issued by his press service on December 18 (reported
by TASS) Nazarbaev said that Kazakhstan wants a commonwealth
of sovereign states but is unwilling to be anyone's raw materials
appendage. (Bess Brown)

BELORUSSIA LINKS NUCLEAR-FREE NEUTRAL STATUS TO DIPLOMATIC RECOGNITION.
At a press conference following US Secretary of State James Baker's
visit to Belorussia on December 18, it was stated that Belorussia
had confirmed its desire to be a non-nuclear neutral state, TASS
reported on December 18. However, the chairman of the Belorussian
Supreme Soviet, Stanislau Shushkevich, said this could not happen
overnight and the length of time it took would also depend on
diplomatic recognition of the republic by, among others, the
United States. (Ann Sheehy)

KRAVCHUK WANTS US HELP IN DESTROYING NUKES. According to TASS
and Western agency accounts on December 19 of Ukrainian President
Leonid Kravchuk's meeting with Baker, the Ukrainian President
asked for the help of US experts in destroying the Soviet nuclear
weapons based in Ukraine. Kravchuk said that he wanted to see
all the strategic missiles, including those not scheduled for
elimination under the terms of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty
(START), destroyed as quickly as possible. There are 176 Soviet
ICBMs in Ukraine. Forty-six of these are SS-24s, one of the newest
missiles in the Soviet inventory, which the Soviet military leadership
had planned to keep. (Doug Clarke)

DONBASS MINERS ON STRIKE. Coal miners in Ukraine's Donbass region
have been on strike for three days demanding economic independence
for their mine, Ukrainian Radio and Western agencies reported
on December 18. Some 6,000 miners at the "Komsomolets Donbassa"
mine went on strike on December 16 and have set a one-week deadline
for their demands to be met. The miners had voted overwhelmingly
in favor of independence from Moscow earlier this month, and
they are also demanding that the Ukrainian government establish
a commission to study the mine's financial transactions. (Carla
Thorson)

MOLDAVIA RECOGNIZED BY RSFSR. Through a declaration signed by
Yeltsin and made public on December 18, the RSFSR has recognized
the Republic of Moldavia as an independent state, "in accordance
with its people's democratic choice," and offered to establish
diplomatic relations with it. Since proclaiming its independence
from the USSR, Moldavia was often told by Western officials that
recognition by the RSFSR is a major prerequisite for Western
recognition of Moldavia. (Vladimir Socor)

VOLUNTEERS ON THE DNIESTER. Volunteers from various parts of
the former USSR have recently been reported by TASS, "Vesti,"
and Western media to have arrived in Tiraspol to help defend
the "Dniester SSR" (see Daily Report, December 17). Local sources
told RFE/RL on December 18 that St. Petersburg volunteers informed
Radio Tiraspol the previous day that they are followers of "Nashi,"
the movement recently founded by TV broadcaster Aleksandr Nevzorov
and like-minded figures. Cossack volunteers, who were introduced
as belonging to the Don host, told the same radio that the "Dniester
republic" was offering plots of land to Don Cossacks willing
to settle there. Meanwhile, the Neue Zuercher Zeitung of December
18 reported from Riga that members of the former Riga OMON, charged
with crimes there, are known to the Latvian authorities to have
joined the "Dniester SSR" paramilitary force. (Vladimir Socor)




EASTERN EUROPE


BALTIC STATES


LANDSBERGIS WANTS EXTRADITION OF SOVIET OFFICIALS. Lithuanian
Supreme Council Chairman Vytautas Landsbergis has asked RSFSR
President Boris Yeltsin for the extradition of more than 20 persons
believed to have been involved in fatal clashes in Lithuania
earlier this year, Western agencies reported on December 18.
The listincludes former USSR Defense Minister Dmitrii Yazov,
former Soviet KGB chief Vladimir Kryuchkov, former Lithuanian
Communist Party leader Mikolas Burokevicius, and leaders of OMON.
The Lithuanian authorities want to bring to justice thoseresponsible
for the killings of civilians in January and the slaying of border
guards in the summer. (Dzintra Bungs)

OMON ACCUSED OF MEDININKAI KILLINGS. Radio Riga reported on December
18 that Lithuanian Prosecutor General Arturas Paulauskas is seeking
seven members of OMON for the slaying of seven border guards
at the Medininkai customs post on July 31. According to information
provided by the one surviving border guard, some of the attackers
came from the Vilnius OMON base, and others from the Riga OMON
base. (Dzintra Bungs)

LATVIA CONCERNED OVER SOVIET MILITARY THREAT. While visiting
the United States, Andrejs Krastins, Deputy Chairman of the Latvian
Supreme Council, told the press on December 18 that Latvia is
in "a crisis situation" and needs Western help to bolster its
security. He said that Riga is still a hotbed of Soviet military
espionage and KGB operations. He added that Soviet military officers
and pensioners have formed organizations intended to destabilize
Latvia and that these organizations are closely allied with extremist
organizations in Russia. He noted that while he did not know
of any Soviet nuclear weapons deployed in Latvia, he could not
rule out the possibility that tactical weapons are located on
Soviet bases there, reported RFE/RL corespondent in Washington
on December19. (Dzintra Bungs)

ESTONIA JOINS NUCLEAR NONPROLIFERATION TREATY. On December 18
Estonia took definitive steps to join the treaty on nuclear arms
nonproliferation, according to Estonian and BALTFAX dispatches
that day. A resolution on the issue was endorsed by the Estonian
Supreme Council on December 18. After the resolution is signed
by Supreme Council Chairman Arnold Ruutel, the document will
be sent to the governments of the treaty signatory countries,
which include the United States, Great Britain, and the USSR.
(Dzintra Bungs)


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