AS winter approaches and economic crisis deepens, the Soviet
leadership is rushing to find an economic plan acceptable to most of
the now-independent republics.
Some variations of a proposed economic agreement are circulating
among the central administration and the republican governments.
Proposals range from a loose convention among independent republican
economies to a relatively centralized system with a single currency,
monetary, tax, and customs structure.
The current team managing the Soviet economy, headed by Russian
Premier Ivan Silayev, is leaning toward the more unified approach.
Mr. Silayev's deputy, radical economist Grigory Yavlinsky, has drawn
up a draft treaty of economic union that was submitted last week to
Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and leaders of 10 republics
grouped in the new State Council.
"We have major economic difficulties," Mr. Yavlinsky told
reporters yesterday. "Inflation is rampant. Production is going
down. The goal of this document is to lead the country out the
Yavlinsky admitted that there would be difficulties in getting
the republics to agree to this draft treaty, but he added, "Economic
union is not a choice. It is a necessity. This much is clear to
everybody." He said if republics delay in signing the treaty, Russia
is prepared to move forward alone.
Representatives of all the Soviet republics, including the
Baltics, participated in the discussions leading to this draft
treaty. But the treaty will still have to be approved by each
republican government. The Ukraine, the second richest Soviet
republic after Russia, will likely not make its decision until after
a Dec. 1 referendum on independence.
Yavlinsky predicted the process of finalizing the treaty will be
lengthy. "It will be difficult to reconcile this document with the
political ambitions of various leaders."
Yavlinsky refused to give specific figures for Western aid needed
to help the Soviet Union through this crisis. But he said that
"transition to a market in this country without interaction and
integration with Western countries is simply impossible." He said
the West would not be ready to give aid until a treaty on union is
The draft treaty of economic union is a voluntary association,
allowing for an associative status for republics ready to assume
only parts of the joint obligations. The republics that do not want
to join will be treated as foreign countries, the document states.
The economic union will jointly form policy on a range of areas
including monetary and credit policy, finances, taxes, customs,
currency, legal regulation, and the movement of goods, services, and
labor, according to a summary of the text yesterday in the daily
newspaper Izvestia. …