|This is the true nature of home-- it is the place of Peace; the shelter, not only from injury, but from all terror, doubt and division. - John Ruskin|
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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