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Former Foreign Minister Predicts Hard Winter for Soviets

August 24, 1991

PARIS (AP) _ Former Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Schevardnadze predicted Saturday another difficult winter for Soviets in spite of optimism following the failed hard-line coup.

″The harvest is bad, production is in free-fall and inflation is going to grow,″ said Schevardnadze said in an interview from Moscow with the French radio network RTL.

Schevardnadze resigned in December and warned some Communist leaders were pushing the nation toward dictatorship.

He contended that President Mikhail S. Gorbachev may have brought on the coup attempt by taking a vacation.

″He never should have left Moscow″ for his vacation home in Crimea, Schevardnadze said. ″It was already a crisis situation.″

Schevardnadze urged the West to invest in the Soviet economy, particularly in the oil industry and a ″military-industrial process undergoing reconversion.″

″The conditions are favorable enough,″ he said. ″There are buildings, well-trained staff, workers, engineers, builders, very qualified scientists,″ he said.

Former Gorbachev adviser Alexander Yakovlev, meanwhile, said in an interview in the French newspaper Liberation that he was ″disappointed″ with Gorbachev’s first post-coup appearances.

″During his first press conference, the president showed he did not understand what really happened,″ Yakovlev, a principal architect of Gorbachev’s reforms, was quoted as saying.

″Maybe he understood the facts, but he didn’t see the people mobilize. He didn’t want to distinguish immediately, between those officials in important posts who conducted themselves well, and who betrayed him.″

Yakovlev had resigned earlier this month.

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