Werewolf: Auld Lang Syne

The Union is Buried

New York Times Frontpage Test

New York, Monday, December 9, 1991
Vol. CXLI… No. 48,809
50 Cents

Frantic Moves Came to Light In Days Before Maxwell Died


At the time of his mysterious death on Nov. 5, Robert Maxwell almost certainly knew he was about to be caught.

He had drained hundreds of millions of dollars from his two flagship public companies and from employee pension funds in a frantic attempt to keep his heavily indebted publishing empire afloat.

The auditors of the Maxwell empire, Coopers & Lybrand Deloitte, were to conduct their next regular audit of the pension funds in a couple of months. And Coopers would have quickly discovered the transactions, said a person very familiar with the details of a special financial examination of the empire conducted for the banks after Mr. Maxwell’s death. He agreed to discuss the report only if his identity was not disclosed. ‘Basically Grabbing Cash’

The Coopers team also found evidence that some of the diverted money went to The Daily News in New York to cover its losses. That raises more doubts about the future of the newspaper, which Mr. Maxwell acquired in March.

The Union Is Buried: What’s Being Born?


Ever since the August coup d’etat, the Soviet Union has been dying a lingering death, its final agony stretched over months of crisis and negotiations while it was kept alive largely by the frantic faith of one man, Mikhail S. Gorbachev, the Soviet President.

Today, the union died — if future historians will accept a death warrant signed by the patient itself as proof, which is how the leaders of Russia, Ukraine and Byelorussia intended their statement, signed in the Byelorussian border town of Brest, to be read.

The Brest statement does not reckon with Mr. Gorbachev; it simply ignores him, which only made his appearance tonight on Soviet television all the more poignant as he once again pleaded, cajoled and banged his fists, making the case that without a union the country will fall apart.

But for some time now, Mr. Gorbachev’s warnings have had a hollow ring, since for most people, the collapse he keeps warning about has already happened. This is a fact they can confirm with their daily lives, as they go to factories that have run out of materials, to office jobs where they have stopped getting salaries or to shops where there are no goods. A Fresh Start?



MOSCOW — President Mikhail S. Gorbachev today rejected the right of the leaders of Russia, Ukraine and Byelorussia to dissolve the Soviet Union, adding to the uncertainty over the fate of the Soviet lands.

“The fate of our multinational country cannot be decided by the will of three republican leaders,” Mr. Gorbachev said in a statement read on the evening television news. “This question can only be resolved through constitutional means with the participation of all sovereign states and taking into account the will of their peoples.”


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