This Date's Issues:
Johnson's Russia ListReturn
to CDI's Home Page I Return
to CDI's Library
8 July 1997
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Stanislav Menshikov: Belin and Chubais hush-up
2. Reuter: Russian government says wages may have to wait.
3. Sovetskaya Rossiya: Duma's Lukyanov Views Dyachenko
4. Copenhagen's Det fri Aktuelt: Lebed on NATO, Political
Reform, His Future.
5. St. Petersburg Times: Dmitry Zaks, Yeltsin Confounds Critics
in Topsy-Turvy Year.
6. St. Petersburg Times: Andrei Piontkovsky, Yeltsin Will Leave
Enigmatic Political Legacy.
7. Los Angeles Times: Eugene Carroll, NATO Expansion Would Be
an Epic 'Fateful Error.'
8. UPI:Ukraine, U.S. disagree on wargames]
Date: Mon, 7 Jul 1997 22:26:05 +0200
From: Stanislav Menshikov <email@example.com>
Subject: Belin and Chubais hush-up
As Laura Belin correctly points out , the "Izvestiya"
article about Chubais's "interest-free loan" for playing the
stock market while in the President's service is being hushed
up by the Russian media. I am not surprised since most of the
media is under Chubais's control as deputy-premier in charge
of information (among other things). I happen to know that, on
Mr. Chubais's orders, Mr. Zavorotny, a reporter of
"Komsomolskaya Pravda" who dared raise in that newspaper the
subject of the government's refusal (engineered by Chubais) to
listen to the US Nobel Laureates, was recently fired from his
job. This is well known around Moscow, but not a single
"democratic" newspaper has said a word about it.
It would be more interesting to know why not a single
leading WESTERN newspaper has, to my knowledge, told their
readers about the new "Izvestiya" charges. What has the
western media to be afraid of? Surely, he cannot fire them.
Looks like a "conspiracy of silence" when the theme of
Chubais's corruption is touched (if I am wrong, please correct
During my three weeks of intensive temperature taking
around Moscow I have discovered very few people from various
walks of life who would speak fondly of Chubais. Most people
hate Chubais and consider him a mixture of a crook and a
womaniser. Others are struck by his arrogance. Many of those
who generally sympathise with neo-liberalism and are
pro-Western in their outlook, refuse to work with him and for
him. Much of the opposition to the present regime is based on
personal mistrust and instinctive dislike of Chubais's
personality. Because he has achieved so much power he is
associated with the regime and the regime is inseparable from
My own conviction is that this time around Chubais will
not stay long in Yeltsin's favour. But most people in Moscow
think otherwise. They believe Chubais has been imposed on them
for good and all. And therefore people from different
political camps tend to unite against the current regime
because they want to get rid of Chubais and, in the process,
perhaps of Yeltsin too since Chubais is seen as the new
favourite who is manipulating a senile Yeltsin.
In political terms, Chubais is dictatorial and dangerous. For
the first time since 1993, I sensed the comeback of fear of
speaking up against the government, even in private parties.
At one dinner party (where some prominent people had
collected) I was asked to explain my differences with Chubais.
While I did that in polite terms and diplomatically, they
listened and shook their heads: "Of course, you have different
approaches". But when I added that it is not our differences
that are important but the very fact that he is an incompetent
and arrogant person whose policies are dangerous for Russia,
my listeners suddenly started disappearing, silently but
determinedly. They obviously did not wish to get involved. A
good acquaintance whispered into my ear: "You are absolutely
right but be careful, Chubais is a vicious and revengeful
person. He practices revenge on most of his enemies".
I already posted on the JRL my personal experience with Mr.
Chubais when we clashed at the June session of the Federation
council. Not only was he blatantly rude in his reply from the
rostrum, but his behaviour after the meeting was openly
threatening. On emerging from the session, Mr. Chubais again
called me an emigre who had lost any understanding of Russian
life. Not surprisingly, neither the electronic media, nor most
of the newspapers (excluding "Sovetskaya Rossiya") dared to
report our exchange and did not even mention the fact that the
Federation Council overwhelming voted to qualify his policies
unsatisfactory. They simply said that he gave the senators one
of his lectures while they listened with open mouths.
Following that session, Chubais, as acting prime-minister
(Mr. Chernomyrdin was on vacation) called a meeting of the
cabinet in which he scolded Professor Ossipov, a prominent
mathematician and President of the Russian Academy for
"nurturing" economists critical of his policies and threatened
the Academy with fiscal reprisals. Some members of the Academy
with whom I discussed the matter said that they had received
orders to close a number of economic institutes and to sharply
cut their staff. Friends from the Academy called to say that
researchers in the Institutes were in panic because even though
their salaries were meagre, such dependable and professional
jobs were not easy to come by. Some very experienced academics
are moonlighting as manual workers or clerks in foreign-owned
firms in order to be able to feed their families. But even
these jobs are mot secure any more.
In April Lee Hockstader, "Washington Post" Moscow
correspondent, called me for an interview about Chubais and
the Nobel Laureates. I told him all I knew about Chubais's
activities in sabotaging the Nobel Laureates visit to Moscow
planned for March. The interview was never published. I called
Lee to find out what happened but he never called back. As I
mentioned above, Mr. Zavorotny was fired for reporting that
Yes, Russia is that kind of country. But what have free
Americans have to fear? Could somebody explain why Western
papers are so scared of Chubais? Not of Yeltsin (they
criticise and ridicule him when they wish). Not Chernomyrdin
who is Chubais's boss (he is never spared, either). But why
Chubais of all people? Please help me solve that mystery?
Russian government says wages may have to wait
By Philippa Fletcher
July 7, 1997
MOSCOW (Reuter) - Russia's cash-strapped government told workers and soldiers
Monday they might have to wait up to six months to get all their back pay,
twice as long as President Boris Yeltsin promised them last week.
While Yeltsin spent the first day of his summer vacation fishing in the wild
northwestern Karelia region, his reformist protege Boris Nemtsov was
preparing to report to him on how the government planned to net enough funds
to pay the arrears.
``Tomorrow we'll discuss this again with the president -- paying doctors,
teachers, librarians, scientists, soldiers and officers,'' Interfax news
agency quoted Nemtsov as saying in an interview with Russian Public
Yeltsin, recognizing the threat posed by the pent-up frustrations of the
millions whose wages have been delayed for periods of up to six months over
the past two years, last week gave the government three months to solve the
But, in the first open disagreement between the Kremlin leader and the
liberals leading his reshuffled government, First Deputy Anatoly Chubais told
him not all the wage debts could be paid off by Oct. 1.
Nemtsov did not elaborate on how the Cabinet would raise the money to pay
wage arrears, built up through a combination of low tax collection, a web of
inter-company debt and economic stagnation.
But he was quoted as saying that ministers, who had to shake down some
powerful tax debtors to meet Yeltsin's July 1 target for overdue pensions,
might have to move the wages deadline.
``I do not want to be a dreamer and make unrealistic promises. I think that
the time period must be realistic: if we can do this in five months -- we
should do it in five, if we can do it in six -- we'll have to do it in six,''
``It's better not to lie,'' he added.
It was not clear whether the climbdown had been agreed with Yeltsin, who
for a state residence in Karelia Sunday.
The 66-year-old Kremlin leader spent the first full day of his vacation
touring the resort complex and fishing on a lake. Nemtsov is due to fly to
Karelia to meet him Tuesday.
``Boris Yeltsin looked around the covered tennis court built in time for his
visit and hit a ball around with a racquet a few times,'' Itar-Tass news
agency reported from the region.
Yelstin was a keen tennis player before he was struck down with serious
disease last year, but he has not returned to the game despite his apparent
recovery from a multiple heart bypass last November.
Since he returned to full-time work in February, he has injected a new vigor
into foreign and domestic policy, which had drifted for months during his
But the wage arrears are the biggest challenge yet.
``I think it will be a real test for the authorities,'' Nemtsov said, adding
that it was an extremely complicated and expensive task that would require
mobilizing the entire government and presidential apparatus.
Ministers have squeezed big tax debtors like gas monopoly Gazprom to raise
new funds and say they are continuing to press companies to pay up. But the
web of debts makes this difficult.
The government is also seeking other ways to raise funds, although the
Kremlin press service denied a report that Yeltsin had said Russia would ask
foreign governments for help.
In a sign that Moscow was cautiously confident that it would find ways to
raise more revenues, Deputy Finance Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said it might
not have to seek funds on international markets to fill the 1997 budget gap.
``By the end of the year Russia might not issue any more bonds as the
situation with tax collection is improving,'' Kasyanov, in charge of Russia's
foreign debt, told Reuters.
Russia had planned to issue a fourth Eurobond this autumn.
Duma's Lukyanov Views Dyachenko Appointment
July 3, 1997
[translation for personal use only]
Interview with A.I. Lukyanov, chairman of State Duma Committee for
Legislation and Judicial and Legal Reform, by Sergey Kargashin under the
rubric "Family Appointments in Kremlin Are on Everyone's Lips"; date, place
not given: "Is the Adviser Legal?" -- first paragraph is introduction
The recent appointment of Boris Yeltsin's daughter Tatyana Dyachenko
as presidential adviser has left many of us extremely perplexed. State
Duma Speaker Gennadiy Seleznev stated plainly that in making this
appointment Yeltsin has broken the law on state service. The Presidential
Press Service denied all this categorically. We asked Anatoliy Ivanovich
Lukyanov, chairman of the State Duma Committee for Legislation and Judicial
and Legal Reform, to comment on the matter.
[Kargashin] Anatoliy Ivanovich, as a lawyer, what do you think about
this "sensational" appointment?
[Lukyanov] The State Duma lawyers have studied this issue fairly
thoroughly. If Tatyana Dyachenko were the president's personal aide or
personal adviser, the appointment would definitely be disputable. You see,
deputies and others also have aides. In this particular case, the Russian
Federation president's advisers are an integral part of the Presidential
Staff apparatus and work under the president's leadership. So the
Presidential Staff apparatus is gaining a new member who has family ties
with the president, in contravention of Article 21 of the law "On the
Fundamental Principles of Russian Federation State Service," which runs as
Article 21 of the federal law "On the Fundamental Principles of
Russian Federation State Service," dated 31 July 1995.
A citizen cannot enter or remain in state service in the following
Point 5. If the citizen is closely related by blood or marriage
(parents, spouses, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, and also spouse's
brothers, sisters, parents, and children) to another civil servant, and one
of them is directly subordinate to or overseen by the other. [quotation
from law ends]
It is one thing to be in the personal service of the president (that
is to say, when he pays for the services provided from his own pocket).
But it is rather different when his daughter enters the Presidential Staff
apparatus and becomes a state employee. In that case she becomes subject
to all the legal prescriptions on state service.
[Kargashin] Boris Yeltsin's press service has declared that he is not
a state employee....
[Lukyanov] Indeed, there is room for a certain amount of disagreement
here. You see, people have argued for a long time about whether a State
Duma deputy is a state employee. In the end we agreed that, in general, a
deputy's status is different from a state employee's. Because a deputy is
elected. The president is also elected. So it is difficult to regard him
as an ordinary state employee. But, after all, we are talking about the
recruitment to the Presidential Staff (that is to say, to state service) of
a close relative of the president.
[Kargashin] Tatyana Dyachenko has said that her field of activity is
the president's image....
[Lukyanov] The president has the right to determine his advisers'
areas of responsibility. I would like to say that presidents worldwide are
quite often helped in their work by relatives. But in most cases they do
not hold senior state office, of course. As I recall, Raisa Gorbacheva
played a very active role in state affairs. But, despite that, Gorbachev
did not appoint her to any state office. Raisa Maksimovna was only a
member of the Cultural Foundation board. Tatyana Dyachenko herself played
an active part in her father's election campaign without any appointment.
Why has an appointment suddenly been made now...?
I have no doubt that people like Berezovskiy gain access to the
president via his family, via Tatyana, by using this particular
What totally staggered me is that Tatyana Dyachenko has apparently
burdened herself with the role of official adviser in order to tell the
president the truth. Thus there has been a partial revelation of the
mechanism of relations between Boris Yeltsin and his entourage. It seems
that nobody else dares to tell the president the whole truth about the
state of the country. And Tatyana indirectly confirmed this when she
appeared on the "Hero of the Day" program (NTV [Independent Television]).
In my view, the art of any politician is to ensure that the people
around him tell the truth. Otherwise he is blind....
I personally consider the statement made by State Duma Speaker
Gennadiy Seleznev in connection with the appointment to be entirely
correct. The law has evidently been broken. And this is not only my
personal opinion but also that of many lawyers working in the State Duma.
Thus a new system of relations has arisen at the heart of the
Presidential Staff: From now on Tatyana Dyachenko is a state official.
Perhaps the president will now know a little more about the plight of his
Or perhaps he won't? And there will be another rich crop of crazy,
Lebed on NATO, Political Reform, His Future
Copenhagen Det fri Aktuelt in Danish
July 2, 1997
[translation for personal use only]
Report on interview with Russian politician General Aleksandr Lebed
by Per Dalgard in Moscow, date not given
Moscow (Det fri Aktuelt) -- His world- famous voice sounds like the
muffled growl of a fully-grown German shepherd.
During their entire three-quarters of an hour-long conversation,
General Aleksandr Lebed seldom took his narrowed eyes off the interviewer
Presumably not so much because he wanted to study the naive innocence
of the Dane's blue eyes, but because the notorious Russian macho general,
who has been Russia's most popular politician and President Yeltsin's most
serious challenger, is in the habit of exercising his almost hypnotic
effect on every interlocutor.
He makes no secret of the fact that he wants total power and says he
knows what it should be used for: to save Russia from collapse and civil
"In this context, NATO expansion is wrong," Aleksandr Lebed growled,
demanding that a cup of coffee be served.
Endless Humiliation [subhead]
"The expansion itself and the summit in Madrid do not in themselves
play the major role, but it does not promote peace. The NATO question is
receding into the background, because something much more vital is at
stake," Lebed explained.
"If Russia explodes into civil war, the pieces will hit everyone,
including the NATO countries."
Aleksandr Lebed refused to comment on the exchange of letters
regarding NATO enlargement that he had some time ago with Defense Minister
Hans Haekkerup in this newspaper.
The same applies to the issue of the Baltic countries' potential
admission to NATO, on which he was content to comment that Estonia, Latvia,
and Lithuania are such civilized countries that Russia can easily make
reasonable treaties on mutual respect for human rights and independence.
"To Western leaders, I just want to say one thing: you must realize
that you, with your actions, will be partly responsible if developments in
Russia go the way they did in Germany in the 1930's."
"You cannot endlessly keep trampling our country's dignity into the
dirt. We have seen from history that this kind of thing always produces
deformed parties in both Russia and Germany."
Friend or Foe [subhead]
[Dalgard] Is NATO Russia's friend or a foe? [Delgard ends]
For once, the self-confident general hesitates and resorts to one of
his frequently-employed defense mechanisms -- attacking the question.
[Lebed] The question is posed in the wrong way. This is like asking
an old woman on the street: Would you rather have socialism or capitalism?
A simple question but very complicated to answer," Lebed emphasized.
"Our reformers saw that you had it better in the West, and they
decided that we would also have things like this in 10-20 years. But in the
West, it took 200 years to achieve welfare. It is impossible to create it
in a short time. The same applies to the question concerning NATO --
friend or foe? It depends on how future cooperation unfolds."
Aleksandr Lebed thinks that in this connection, the agreement made
recently between NATO and Russia is a small step in the right direction,
that reduces the damage done by NATO's overall enlargement policy.
"President Yeltsin got the best result possible in a difficult
situation, and I would have done the same in his place."
Never Again War [subhead]
"The good thing about the agreement is," Lebed continued, "that it
confirmed that Russia is no one's enemy. If I were in command, I would go
a step further and say publicly to the whole world, that Russia will never
wage war again, that Russian soldiers' boots will never again tramp onto
foreign soil as occupiers."
"We have lost far too many people in this century -- to war,
revolution, persecution. A total of 75 million Russians have died in this
way. We have enough space, enough resources, to ensure a life with human
dignity in our territory. We have simply never been allowed to do so,
because we have had to go to war all the time and kill." [Lebed ends]
The general's look, tone of voice, and the way he holds himself, which
conflict in a strange way with what he is saying, almost give you shivers,
and demonstrate beyond the shadow of a doubt, that he does not like being
contradicted and expects unconditional acquiescence and obedience. Lebed
makes no secret of the fact that he expects a political collapse in Russia,
and that this will be his ticket to assume power.
In his opinion, Yeltsin's and the reform government's economic shock
therapy will lead to the political and economic situation coming to a head
in the spring, when the reform policy will collapse, and the government
will be without funds to pay salaries and pensions, never mind paying back
debts and maintaining the army.
There will be a situation of civil unrest and rebellious tendencies.
Only he will be in a position to prevent this ending in civil war and
In Lebed's analysis, one of the main causes of instability and the
imminent danger of a situation close to war, is that the Soviet Union and
Russia have on the one hand been involved in a number of dirty wars, and on
the other, have not conducted a thorough reform and reduction of the army.
According to Lebed, the wars in Afghanistan and Chechnya alone are
responsible for at least three million psychologically-damaged, spiteful,
brutal, discharged soldiers, as well as hundreds of thousands of fired
officers, whom no one is concerned about.
"Some 15,000 Russian soldiers died in Afghanistan, and 8000 in
Chechnya. But the returnees are psychological invalids, receive no pay, no
compensation, only a minimal pension. No one lifts a finger for their
"When we add that 20 percent of the country's entire population has
been in prison or is still in our jails and penal camps, and that they
return home like angry wolves, spiteful and vicious, and do the country
great damage, then we understand that this small part of the population
might easily overthrow the country."
"Some 90 percent of the people are apathetic, live their own lives, go
out to their country cottages, and enjoy this. A small group of wolves can
easily control the flock. This is the country's biggest problem, which no
one wants to deal with."
More Police [subhead]
The general therefore wants to carry out an extensive reform of the
army, which he, in contrast to Boris Yeltsin, does not think can be done
without extra investment.
In addition, he wants to wage war on the Mafia and corruption. Mainly
by changing the situation of the police:
"Organized criminals have a modern army, modern weapons, fast cars.
Facing them is a puny, little policeman with his old- fashioned pistol, an
old Russian jeep, his low pay, and his dirty helmet."
"The fight is unequal and impossible. The police must be given more
resources. The criminal element in the police must be purged, and when
they then have self-respect and self-confidence, they will have a chance
against the bandits."
Fantastically Popular [subhead]
[Dalgard] But where will the money come from? What do you actually
want to do about the economy?
[Lebed] In six months, I will publicize a new program and a thorough
plan of action. Not before."
[Dalgard] You were fantastically popular in recent years. But are you
not worried about being forgotten if Yeltsin holds out?
[Lebed] I am still fantastically popular. My chances are improving
day by day, but all the media keep silent about that, keep silent about me,
and the authorities do everything they can to harass me and keep me from
[Dalgard] Many people in both Russia and the West are anxious about
seeing you, as a general, at the helm. [Dalgard ends]
The slits of the general's eyes become almost as narrow as the
peephole in the outer door of armored steel in the staff headquarters
situated near the famous Tretjakovskaya gallery in Moscow:
[Lebed] This is Western pretence. Let them worry, but there is no
reason for it. The West has had its own generals as leaders. De Gaulle in
France and Eisenhower in the United States.
[Dalgard] But many people say that they do not know who you are and
what you want.
[Lebed] Pretence again. They support Yeltsin who helped start the war
in Moldova. I stopped it. He started the war in Chechnya. I stopped it.
Who is the greater democrat then, he or I? Is democracy war or peace? I
think it is the latter.
St. Petersburg Times
JULY 7-13, 1997
Yeltsin Confounds Critics in Topsy-Turvy Year
By Dmitry Zaks
MOSCOW - President Boris Yeltsin began his second term one year ago
Thursday, and has since confounded his doubters by surviving
heart-bypass surgery, double pneumonia and sometimes savage attacks by
his political opponents.
Winning the election itself was no easy task, but Yeltsin fought off a
stiff challenge from Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, whom he
defeated in a run-off election, 54 percent to 40 percent.
The world cheered Russia for avoiding a step back toward its
totalitarian past, but many questions remained, with the president's
health the biggest concern of all.
As war raged in breakaway Chechnya and bitter Kremlin rivals eyed each
other's jugulars in Moscow, Yeltsin remained conspicuously absent.
A look back at some highlights of Yeltsin's roller-coaster year:
Yeltsin breaks with an age-old Kremlin tradition of secrecy about
leaders' true health by admitting, in a nationally televised interview,
that he needs a heart operation. He emphasizes that the surgery will be
performed in Russia, by Russian doctors.
Suspicions about Yeltsin's condition mounted when he put in a stiff,
awkward performance during a brief, carefully staged swearing-in
ceremony in August.
Although the Kremlin did its best to hide the fact during the campaign,
Yeltsin's cardiologist later revealed that the president suffered a
heart attack shortly before the July 3 vote. A senior United States
heart specialist who checked on the president said Yeltsin's heart was
functioning at about one-third capacity at one stage that summer.
In another memorable television appearance, Yeltsin accuses Security
Council Secretary Alexander Lebed of plotting a coup and fires him.
A charismatic ex-general who polled third in the first round of the
presidential elections, Lebed was instrumental to Yeltsin's victory
after he agreed to join the government in June.
But Lebed's open ambitions for the top job and merciless clashes with
fellow Yeltsin aides made political life in Moscow unstable. On the day
of his firing, Lebed's security services took four Interior Ministry
officers hostage for several hours after a street clash just blocks from
Yeltsin undergoes a six-hour bypass operation at the Moscow
Cardiological Center. Top Western heart specialists monitor the surgery
on closed circuit television outside the operating theater in case
things go wrong.
Russia's command and the so-called nuclear suitcase are temporarily in
the hands of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. Yeltsin signs back
these powers to himself as soon as he regains consciousness the next
After an absence of nearly six months, Yeltsin triumphantly returns to
the Kremlin, declaring, "I feel good" and "ready for battle."
Chairing his first government meeting since the election, he scolds
Chernomyrdin and several top ministers for being lazy and ineffective
during his illness. He assures pensioners and state employees, some of
whom are owed months of back pay, that the government will settle all
January 8, 1997
Yeltsin's comeback is cut short when he is hospitalized with double
The State Duma, Russia's opposition-led lower house of parliament,
rumbles with repeated calls for Yeltsin to step down, or at least to
make his health records public. Zyuganov and Lebed say Yeltsin is too
ill to rule and repeatedly demand that he resign.
The Kremlin soon floats a plan to amend the Constitution, prompting some
to speculate that a very ill Yeltsin has selected his successor to the
Looking fit, Yeltsin bounces back with a vigorous state-of-the-nation
address before a joint session of parliament.
He lashes out at parliamentarians for using their positions to "fatten"
themselves, and he promises a change of course for Russia is imminent.
The following day, Yeltsin fires his entire Cabinet, save for
Chernomyrdin, and appoints his chief of staff, Anatoly Chubais, as first
deputy prime minister. He tells them to assemble a new reform-minded
Abhorred by the opposition for his 1992-96 privatization campaign,
Chubais appoints several liberal allies to key ministries. He and fellow
First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov quickly push through several
reforms that had stalled in the old Cabinet.
The government launches programs to institute housing reforms, zeroes in
on management of unwieldy monopolies and makes prompt tax collection and
tight fiscal policy top priorities.
Yeltsin makes his first trip abroad since the election, traveling to
Helsinki for a summit with U.S. President Bill Clinton.
Clinton wins Yeltsin's grudging acquiescence in NATO's eastern expansion
plans, setting the stage for the Russian president to visit Paris in May
and sign an accord giving Moscow a say - but not a veto - in future NATO
deliberations. In exchange, Yeltsin wins Clinton's backing for Russian
membership in key world economic clubs.
A Chechen delegation led by President Aslan Maskhadov meets Yeltsin in
the Kremlin to sign a peace agreement proclaiming an end to centuries of
hostilities. Yeltsin refers to the region as Ichkeria - the name
independence-minded Chechens use for the republic.
Maskhadov's right to govern Chechnya is thus legitimized by Russia,
although the republic's future status is not discussed. Yeltsin closes
the chapter on what he once called his greatest political mistake - the
21-month war in Chechnya, which claimed tens of thousands of lives.
Yeltsin fires Defense Minister Igor Rodionov after accusing him of
failing to implement urgent army reforms.
Insisting on a leaner army, he eventually puts Chubais in charge of
military financing and appoints a loyal ally, Igor Sergeyev, as the new
Yeltsin makes his first official visit to Kiev to sign a much-delayed
friendship treaty with Ukraine. Coming on the heels of the Chechen peace
deal and a successful summit with Chinese President Jiang Zemin, the
accord demonstrates Russia's desire to make peace with all its
Yeltsin drops all claims to the Crimean peninsula and the predominantly
Russian-populated port of Sevastopol, even though it angers many Russian
Yeltsin flaunts Russia's new economic reforms at the Group of Seven
meeting in Denver, Colorado. Washington, as promised, makes Yeltsin feel
at home by calling the meeting the Summit of the Eight.
St. Petersburg Times
JULY 7-13, 1997
Yeltsin Will Leave Enigmatic Political Legacy
By Andrei Piontkovsky
Andrei Piontkovsky heads the Moscow Center for Strategic Studies.
ONE year ago today, 40 million inhabitants of Russia did not agree with
the desire of 30 million of their fellow citizens to return to a
communist past. President Boris Yeltsin was reelected to a second term
and disappeared for well-known reasons from the political scene for
eight months. The best evaluation of this period was given by Yeltsin
himself: "The government was stagnant, you understand."
Therefore, it makes sense to talk mostly of the past four months when
summing up the first year of Yeltsin's second term, starting with the
president's speech to the Federal Assembly in March.
Let's begin with the foreign policy agenda. Russian diplomacy was more
active than ever on the international scene during these months.
Moreover, much of this was presidential diplomacy. The troika of summits
in Helsinki, Paris and Denver promoted more constructive relations
between Russia and the West. However, these relations are still on the
verge of sliding into a second cold war.
The Russian political class found it hard to accept the attempts of
Eastern European countries to enter the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization, while it did not see anything wrong with their own
attempts to join the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations. The
painful reaction can be ascribed not so much to threats to Russia's
security, real or imagined, as to deep geo-psychological complexes of
loss of an empire and superpower status on the part of the Russian
political elite. As soon as Moscow stopped debating whether Poland
should enter the alliance and began to discuss the structure of its
interrelations with NATO as a whole and obtained clear security
guarantees, the negotiations led rather quickly to constructive results.
The other foreign policy crisis threatening Russia was tied to its
relations with countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States
(CIS), particularly Ukraine. This crisis was also mostly psychological
and was linked with nostalgic complexes of the majority of the political
class, which was not seriously ready to finally accept the former Soviet
republics as sovereign states. These complexes were manifested, for
example, in the foolish performance of Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov in
Sevastopol and the provocative anonymous article, "The Future CIS," in
Nezavisimaya Gazeta of March 28.
This article, which can be characterized as a "blueprint for disaster on
1/6 of the globe," is the quintessence of imperial and xenophobic
complexes of the Russian political class.
By signing two agreements that were crucial for Russia - with NATO and
with Ukraine - Yeltsin went against the majority of the political class.
Moreover, it is not a question of opposition from communist and
national-patriotic circles, which was only to be expected. Among those
opposed to the signing of both documents were leading politicians and
experts from the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy headed by Sergei
What helped Russia avoid isolation and foreign policy adventures that
people who are fond of calling themselves the "political elite" were
favoring? The experience and common sense of the foreign minister?
objective economic interests? Yes to both the first and the second, as
well as Yeltsin's renowned political instincts. The president has
cleared the foreign policy agenda and created favorable foreign
conditions for long-delayed internal reforms, including military,
budget, tax and housing.
But what are the chances for the reforms themselves? Indeed, their
success or failure will determine the place Yeltsin occupies in future
Russian history books. It is precisely the judgment of history, rather
than capricious popularity polls, that now worries this 67-year-old man,
who a year ago won the last election of his life.
The sphere of reforms is still limited to declarations and announcements
of good intentions. Indeed, the recent payment of back pensions, which
was largely due to another tranche of money from the International
Monetary Fund, cannot be seriously considered a success.
For the first time, the Defense Ministry seems to be headed by people
who are seriously oriented toward carrying out military reform. But it
was only at the end of last month that they revealed their specific
The goals and parameters of economic reform that were set out in the
president's speech in March are wise and carefully considered. If
carried out, they would allow the country to pass from a system of
oligarchic capitalism, which feeds on access to money flowing from the
budget, to a socially oriented market economy.
Yeltsin has undivided confidence in the group of "young reformers,"
headed by First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais, to carry out
these reforms. But can the reformers manage to be independent from
financial hierarchs, with whom they were and continue to be tied by
common political, economic and personal interests? Recent events leave
less and less hope for this.
At the same time that First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov was
shining with adolescent joy as he made a loud public display of selling
three used Audis, in quiet offices behind tightly closed doors, entirely
different deals were being made. Through a bogus company, the deputy
chairman of the Security Council, Boris Berezovsky, obtained the Sibneft
oil company for a song at another fictitious loans-for-shares auction;
and LUKOIL, as a result of similar actions, acquired a block of its
shares that formerly belonged to the state.
But the most dramatic settling of scores among our robber-bankers
revolved around control of Gazprom's board of directors. Having flown
two days before the shareholders meeting to Beijing to drink tea with
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, the cunning Berezovsky convincingly
demonstrated Chernomyrdin's roof of political protection is "tougher"
than Chubais' roof, on which Uneximbank was counting, and not without
reason. Vexed by its crushing defeat in the June 28 fight for Gazprom,
on July 1, Unexim plied Izvestia, a newspaper under its control, with
killing incriminating material on Chubais, who did not justify their
hopes, showing that he received an interest-free loan of 14 billion
rubles ($3 million) last year.
On that same day, hungry workers in the Far East Primorsky Territory
closed down the Trans-Siberian Railroad.
Boris Yeltsin, who unleashed the war in Chechnya that took the lives of
tens of thousands of citizens of the Russian Federation and who found in
himself the strength to stop it; Boris Yeltsin, who opened the way for
market reform in Russia and allowed the creation of greedy financial
oligarchies; Boris Yeltsin, about whom we seem to have already long
known everything, remains the biggest riddle of Russia's political life.
Los Angeles Times
7 July 1997
[for personal use only]
NATO Expansion Would Be an Epic 'Fateful Error'
Policy: Enlargement could weaken unity within the alliance. Denials of
the potential threat to Russia are delusory.
By EUGENE J. CARROLL JR.
Eugene J. Carroll Jr., a Retired Navy Rear Admiral, Is Deputy Director
of the Center for Defense Information, a Defense Watchdog Group Based in
Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower was the first NATO supreme veallied commander.
Shortly after assuming that post, he wrote these words in February 1951:
"If in 10 years, all American troops stationed in Europe for
national defense purposes have not been returned to the United States,
then this whole project [NATO] will have failed."
One can only wonder at his reaction today if he learned that 46
years later, the United States was the dominant force in a plan not just
to continue our powerful military presence there but to enlarge NATO's
responsibilities and increase U.S. costs and risks in Europe. If his
granddaughter, Susan Eisenhower, is any guide to his reaction, he would
not be pleased. She gathered an impressive group of 49 military,
political and academic leaders who joined her in signing an open letter
to President Clinton on June 26 that terms the plan to expand NATO "a
policy error of historic proportions."
Why have so many knowledgeable and responsible authorities, in
addition to the letter's signatories, raised powerful objections to NATO
expansion? Diplomat-historian George F. Kennan perhaps said it most
clearly when he wrote earlier this year in a newspaper commentary:
"Expanding NATO would be the most fateful error of American policy in
the post cold-war era. Such a decision may be expected . . . to impel
Russian foreign policy in directions decidedly not to our liking."
Aye, there's the rub. The long-term interests of the United States
in Europe can best be served by actions that promote enduring peace in
Europe through security arrangements that include Russia as a
cooperative participant. The expansion of NATO, however, excludes Russia
at the same time it moves NATO borders 300 miles eastward--the recent
pact providing for regular NATO-Russia consultation notwithstanding.
President Clinton and his counselors deny that expansion threatens
Russia. He told the graduating class at West Point in May that the
objective was "to build and secure a New Europe, peaceful, democratic
and undivided at last."
It is delusory, deliberately so, to argue that expanding NATO is a
way to unite Europe. Certainly Henry Kissinger, a strong proponent of
NATO expansion, was more candid and accurate when he wrote in The Times
recently that "the new members are seeking to participate in NATO . . .
not to erase dividing lines but to position themselves inside a
guaranteed territory by shifting existing NATO boundaries 300 miles to
the east." In stating that the real purpose of expansion is to create
new dividing lines, he also provided a clear picture of Moscow's
perception of a new NATO threat moved closer to its borders.
This picture also reveals that, at its heart, NATO expansion is
aimed at Russia. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright confirmed this in
testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 23: "On the
off-chance that in fact Russia doesn't work out the way that we are
hoping it will . . . NATO is there."
NATO expansion is an attempt to extend Cold War divisions and
strengthen the alliance against the chimera of a resurgent Russia bent
upon imposing its hegemony in Eastern Europe. It may be safe to treat
Russia as a prospective enemy today when it is helpless to prevent NATO
expansion but there is the longer-term danger. A hard-line, anti-Western
coalition will be strengthened in Moscow and give priority to anti-NATO
measures in the future.
Even in the short-term there may well be nuclear dangers. The
greatest U.S. security concern today is "loose nukes" in Russia. Our
arbitrary and threatening actions may convince the hard-liners that
nuclear weapons remain the only vestige of Russian military and
political leverage. Efforts to reduce numbers, lower the alert status of
long-range missiles and improve internal security for both weapons and
missile material could easily be thwarted by the Russian Duma. This
prospect represents a far greater threat to U.S. security than the
improbable emergence of a Russian conventional threat at a distant date.
Overbearing U.S. insistence on expanding NATO strictly on our terms
also could weaken unity within the alliance. Serious complaints are
being leveled by some members concerning the autocratic tactics we have
employed to control the expansion program. It will be ironic if our
attempts to strengthen U.S. military leadership in Europe result in
weakening U.S. political influence there.
Fortunately, it is not too late to halt the precipitous commitment
to NATO expansion at the Madrid summit this week and consider
alternatives that could produce a much more stable, peaceful Europe.
Rushing into an unwise decision now to expand NATO in the face of real
risks and great costs would be an action that fully merits the
thoughtful warnings that it would be a "fateful error" of "historic
Ukraine, U.S. disagree on wargames
KIEV, Ukraine, July 7 (UPI) _ Ukraine says it will limit a joint U.S.
-Ukrainian naval exercise Sea Breeze to sea maneuvers, canceling the
land-based part of the program _ but the Pentagon says that's not the
Ukrainian officials said today that Marines from the U.S. 6th Fleet were
due to carry out an exercise in Crimea. They said plans have been
changed because of political tension on the peninsula.
But a Pentagon spokesman says the exercises will be held. Cmdr. Joe
March says: ``There's been no change. The land exercises will continue
Ethnic Russians in Sevastopol, the base of the Black Sea Fleet, have
warned they would protest if U.S. forces took part in maneuvers on land.