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10 August 1997
[Note from David Johnson:
Back from our all-too-brief respite from all this.
1. Fred Weir in Moscow on the press.
2. Steve Blank (US Army) responds to Gordon Hahn.
3. Robert Sharlet (Union College) on books.
4. From IntellectualCapitol.com: Richard Pipes, Established
Religion in Russia?
5. Fred Weir in Moscow in Yeltsin and the religion law.
6. New York Times letters: NATO Expansion Forces Russia to
7. Dorothy Rosenberg on Chubais and the USAID scandal.
8. From East View Publications: Attention Suffering Slavic
9. The Sunday Times (UK): Inside Moscow by Mark Franchetti.
("Dirt begins to hit Kremlin's Mr Clean" and more).
10. Argumenty i Fakty: ARMY WILL HAVE TO BE DISBANDED DUE TO
LACK OF MONEY.
11. AP: Russians Are a Hit Playing Baseball.]
Date: Fri, 08 Aug 1997 21:53:03 (MSK)
For the Hindustan Times
From: Fred Weir in Moscow
MOSCOW (HT) -- Vladimir Lenin, founder of Soviet
communism, might feel vindicated if he could read today's Russian
The old Bolshevik argued that newspapers were just
mouthpieces for the capitalists that owned them and, six years
after the demise of the USSR, the country's dejected and
destitute press corps seems bent on proving him right.
``Freedom took a wrong turn in Russia, that's for sure,''
says Vsevolod Bogdanov, chairman of the 150,000-member Union of
Journalists of Russia.
``It's very hard for a beggar to observe professional
ethics. That's the main reason journalists seem such easy prey
for businessmen and politicians who want to buy them.''
After decades of stifling, lock-step Communist Party
control, Russia's media seemed to blossom into a multitude of
hopeful and searching voices when former Soviet leader Mikhail
Gorbachev began to take the wraps off ten years ago.
But market reforms brought complications few editors had
expected or were prepared for.
``Suddenly you have to manage your newspaper like a
business,'' says Mr. Bogdanov. ``That's something no one in this
country ever knew how to do.''
Many newspapers that formerly existed on government
subsidies learned to survive by devoting their pages to ``hidden
advertising'' -- bought-and-paid-for articles extolling the
virtues of a particular businessman or politician.
``Everything the press should not do in a free society is
happening here,'' says Oleg Panfilov, head of the monitoring
section of the Glasnost Foundation, Russia's only independent
media watchdog group.
The worst case came last year, when virtually the entire
Russian media was recruited to help President Boris Yeltsin win
re-election against a Communist challenger.
``Perhaps the cause was a good one, but the methods were
rotten,'' says Mr. Panfilov. ``Yeltsin's team used money and all
the levers of power to get the media on his side. Instead of
giving objective information, journalists became propagandists
for a cause.
``We thought we'd left all that behind us when the Soviet
Union collapsed, but it's still with us.''
One by one, most of Russia's leading newspapers have been
bought up by powerful bankers and businessmen, who seem to treat
them as megaphones for their own private interests.
``Politics and business are totally intertwined in
Russia, so whenever there's a scuffle at the top it gets
reflected in the press,'' says Sergei Markov, an analyst at the
Carnegie Endowment in Moscow.
``Unfortunately, instead of providing the information and
expert commentary the public needs, the press just acts as a
transmission belt for all the dirt and invective the owners want
to throw at each other.''
The recent privatization of one of Russia's juiciest
state properties -- a huge telecommunications firm -- triggered a
state of war between the country's handful of huge financial
groups and the media assets they control.
``The press is viewed as just another weapon in the
arsenal of our new Russian capitalists,'' says Mr. Bogdanov.
``They think they've paid for it, and therefore it should do what
``The losers in the telecommunications auction find
nothing wrong in mobilizing their media outlets to destroy the
reputations of the winners. And the other side is just the
Many Russians have been amazed to see once-respected news
organizations, including the only independent TV network,
slamming their rivals -- and their sponsors in government -- with
charges of ill-intent, corruption and criminal activity.
``The kind of accusations being traded in our press every
day would bring governments crashing down anywhere else in the
world,'' says Mr. Markov.
``But here everyone just thinks, 'ho-hum, they're at it
The damage may not be easy to repair. Opinion surveys
show that public regard for the profession of ``journalist'' is
far below its Soviet-era level, and currently even less than
``There is nothing but half-truths, scandals and
propaganda in the press these days,'' says Artyom Volkov, a
21-year old student. ``I don't waste my time with that garbage.''
Date: Thu, 7 Aug 1997 17:06:29 -0400
From: email@example.com (Steve Blank)
Subject: reply to Gordon Hahn
I only intended earlier to write a short rejoinder for Gordon Hahn
because I did not have time (nor really do I now) to give a lengthy
reason for my analysis, but it will be published by CSIS and was
available on the net to Johnson List readers a few weeks ago.
Yes, I make no apology for supporting NATO enlargement, nor has it
undone Russian reform, or weakened Eurasian security, quite the
opposite as the treaty with Ukraine shows. And NATO is not obliged to
be an agency for international democratization, Mr. Hahn might
remember it is not democratizing anyone in the Balkans either, this is
irrelevant, a red herring customarily used by people who do not want to
discuss the issues and resort to sarcasm, misplaced moralism, or ad
I stand by my assertions about democracy. Notwithstanding the
elections, Yeltsin and his entire administration govern without any
reference to the legislature or the none-existent judiciary so we have
a regime that flouts the separation of powers, and the rule of law.
Moreover Yeltsin himself says he is a Tsar and acts like one. I don't
need Nina Andreeva to tell me about the regime and it would do Mr.
Hahn good to study Tsarist institutional history (i'll give you my
grad school notes if you like) to understand why I make those
statements. Nor am I alone in doing so. I believe in effective
democratic control over the armed forces by both executive and
legislature because then controls are balanced and we do not have
coups d'etats as in 1993 and 1996 and civil strife as in 1993, or
chechnya. If hahn cannot understand that such democratic controls
over government, like accountability and power of the purse are
essential than maybe he should study Tsarism once again.
As for military reform and NATO, KZ has published many articles on
the subject but Hahn never addresses the details of military reform,
which, as I indicated on JRL, make no military sense at all. If
somebody wants to write about the Russian armed forces by all means do
so , but learn what military issues are all about. I'm still
learning, but obviously Hahn hasn't a clue to what the issues for an
effective general purpose and nuclear armed forces are in Russia. If
NATO is a threat than we would see true reforms aiming at effective
forces , not this nastoiyashchii Russkii Bardak and he would do well
to read Lebed's press conference.
Unfortunately this interchange reflects the sad state of affairs on
our campuses and institute. We do not teach our students any useful
information or analytical skills about wars and militaries in general,
not just the Russian forces. Thus their teachers and they are led
astray by misplaced analogies (like Pipes, whom I unreservedly admire
as a historian) to Weimar or by sheer ignorance of military issues.
If Hahn wants to debate on the issues fine, we might all learn
something, but let's talk issues, not emotion.
Date: Thu, 7 Aug 1997 14:35:49 -0400
From: Robert Sharlet <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: NEW SERIES
Your recent list of new and forthcoming books in Russian studies was very
helpful (#1088, Item 7, July 27, 1997). Thanks also for including my
forthcoming CONSTITUTIONAL POLITICS IN RUSSIA. However, it won't be out
this month as listed, but will instead bear a 1998 imprint.
My book leads off a new series which I'm editing for M.E. Sharpe, "The New
Russian Political System," that may be of future interest to JRL readers.
A small, select series, each volume will be on a major aspect or component
of Russia's emerging new political system. The first two books will be my
own on Russian constitutional politics, and a volume on executive politics
entitled PRESIDENTIAL POWER IN RUSSIA by Eugene Huskey of Stetson
University. Both will appear in 1998.
Other books under contract include a study of Russian legislative politics
by Judith Kullberg of Ohio State University, as well a volume on regional
politics in the Russian Federation by Darrell Slider of the University of
South Florida. Additional titles under consideration include a study of
court reform for which M.E. Sharpe's Executive Editor, Patricia Kolb, and
I are presently negotiating with a prominent specialist on Russian judicial
I'm sure I speak for all your readers in hoping that you had a relaxing
Chauncey Winters Professor of Political Science
IC World View 8/7/97- Pipes: Established Religion in Russia?
Legislation of Church and State: Established Religion in Russia?
By Richard Pipes
Richard Pipes is a professor of history and has previously served as
director of Russian studies at Harvard University. He is also a contributing
editor of IntellectualCapital.com.
August 7, 1997
In the turmoil that has afflicted Russia since the downfall of the Soviet
Union nearly six years ago, the Orthodox Church has played a minor part.
Its persecution has stopped; its churches have slowly reopened; and it has
become customary for the Patriarch to participate, side by side with
government officials, at great state occasions. The new constitution
assures Russian citizens of religious freedoms: The orthodox church enjoys
no special status, at least officially.
Thus it came as a surprise when suddenly last month, the Duma, the lower
house of the Russian parliament, took a step which points to new
restrictions on religious freedom in favor of Orthodoxy. By an overwhelming
vote of 300 to 8, the Duma passed a law which, as had been habit in Soviet
days, carried a totally misleading title of "On Freedom of Conscience and
Religious Organizations." Approved by the Federation Council, the
parliament's upper chamber, the law restores communist discrimination
against all religious organizations which are not officially recognized.
Currently, other than Orthodoxy the only three faiths recognized are
Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism.
In order to obtain license to function, all other religions will have to
register with the government during the next year and a half, furnishing
detailed information on their doctrines and membership. Under the new law,
the Catholic and Protestant churches enjoy no official status, which means
that they are prohibited from carrying on religious work or owning property
on the territory of the Russian Federation. If strictly enforced, the law
will lead to the closing of their churches, especially the numerous Catholic
parishes, scattered across the country.
The unconstitutional law was almost certainly passed to protect Orthodoxy
from the proselytizing activities of other Christian faiths, for which
reason it received the prompt blessing of Patriarch Aleksii II. It is no
coincidence that the three legitimized religions do not threaten Orthodox
Religious nationalism on the rise
The Orthodox church has always concerned itself primarily with the
spiritual succor and salvation of souls, staying out of politics and
ignoring social problems. In tsarist times, it supported autocracy. In
Communist times, after an initial phase of fierce resistance, it capitulated
and made its peace with a government that inflicted on the country,
especially its religious institutions, unprecedented suffering. Its
conservatism and aloofness from the everyday concerns of the people, its
failure to provide moral leadership, have made the Orthodox establishment
vulnerable to inroads by other Christian denominations. This was true
already of tsarist Russia whose government treated conversion from the
established Orthodox church as a crime. The new law is an effort to stanch
the gains which foreign denominations have been making among Russians: It is
a major step in the direction of acknowledging the Orthodox Church as the
official faith of Russia, and a repudiation of the principle of separation
of state and church.
President Yeltsin last week refused to sign the bill into law but the
lopsided vote in both houses of parliament makes it likely that his veto
will be overridden. In rejecting the new legislation the president risks
alienating a large part of the population, which considers the church the
most trustworthy of all Russian institutions: A recent poll reveals that it
enjoys the confidence of 54% of the nation. This is not a very impressive
figure except when compared to the 11% who trust the federal government and
the 10% who have faith in parliament.
Yeltsin's opponents claim that his rejection of the bill was dictated
from abroad: Patriarch Aleksii has compared the influx of foreign churches
to the expansion eastward of NATO. Xenophobia is thus once again rearing
its ugly head in Russia: As in tsarist days, religion fuses with statehood
and nationalism to thwart democracy and civil rights.
Date: Wed, 06 Aug 1997 20:00:02 (MSK)
For the Hindustan Times
From: Fred Weir in Moscow
MOSCOW (HT) -- President Boris Yeltsin moved this week to
head off a politically dangerous rift between Church and State
over a controversial religion law, but reconciliation could come
at a high price for foreign confessions -- including Hindu ones --
that want to practice freely in Russia.
Mr. Yeltsin and the powerful Russian Orthodox Church have
quarelled this summer over the President's veto of a law that
would grant national status to just four "traditional" Russian
faiths -- Orthodoxy, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism -- making them,
in effect, Russia's official religions.
The law, passed by the opposition-dominated parliament last
month and strongly favoured by the Church, would restrict all
other confessions, and cancel their existing rights to publish,
conduct missionary activity, own property and maintain schools.
Mr. Yeltsin vetoed the law after the United States State
Department published a report warning that religious freedom was
being curbed in Russia and the U.S. Congress threatened to cut
off financial aid to Moscow.
The veto seriously undermined the Kremlin's good relations
with the Orthodox Church, and created the prospect of political
crisis when parliament returns in September from its summer
recess. Most experts believe opposition deputies could easily
muster the two-thirds vote required to overturn the veto,
throwing a Constitutional hand grenade into Mr. Yeltsin's lap at
a time when he has no shortage of other headaches.
The Kremlin has argued that the proposed law violates
Russia's Constitution and severely restricts minority rights. Any
"non-traditional" sect wishing official sanction would be
required to undergo a 15-year bureaucratic process of
registration -- during which it would be forbidden from seeking
converts or even holding a bank account. Even after registration,
it would only be permitted to exist in localities where it could
prove a continuous presence.
"We are very grateful that Yeltsin vetoed that law," says an
Asian diplomat, who asked not to be further identified. "It would
represent a serious departure from the secularism that has
characterized the post-Soviet Russian state, and would impose
terrible hardships on small confessions, and ones that are new to
The Krishna Consciousness Society, which has been very
active in Russia in recent years, along with several other lesser
known Hindu groups, would be effectively banned under the
A large number of Christian missionary groups, and even the
powerful Roman Catholic Church, would be similarly affected.
But Mr. Yeltsin, who has always been careful to maintain
close relations with the Orthodox Church -- Russia's traditional
faith and one that claims 80-million followers -- appeared this
week to be backtracking from his determination to squelch the
The President has said that some version of the law is
necessary to "protect the spiritual health of the Russian people"
against doomsday sects and crackpot cults, and has urged a joint
parliamentary commission to find an acceptable compromise.
On Wednesday Mr. Yeltsin attended the opening of a new
church in Moscow together with Patriarch Alexy II, spiritual head
of the Russian Orthodox Church, and indicated that such a
compromise is near.
"No obstacles shall separate us, because we know the role
and the importance of the restoration in Russia of Orthodox
Christianity and the Orthodox Church," Mr. Yeltsin told the
Patriarch, according to news agencies.
Patriarch Alexy told journalists that Mr. Yeltsin had
assured him the law will be enacted in its basic form, and that
it would provide protection from "destructive pseudo-religious
cults and foreign false-missionaries".
For many, that signals the end of separation between Church
and State and a new era of official patronage for a few religions
-- and discrimination against others -- in Russia.
"Whatever compromises may be made, we doubt they will
include small confessions, such as Hindus, who have been active
in Russia," says the diplomat.
"Perhaps some accommodation will be made for the Catholic
Church, or big Western Protestant groups. But others, who have
also been part of the new diversity in this country, will suffer.
That's very unfortunate," he says.
New York Times
August 7, 1997
[for personal use only]
NATO Expansion Forces Russia to Reform
To the Editor:
Aleksei Arbatov, deputy chairman of the Russian Parliament's Defense
Committee, has an interest in overstating the "folly" of enlarging the
North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Thomas L. Friedman (column, July 31)
should be in no hurry to adopt his arguments.
Russia's wish to "rely more heavily on nuclear deterrence and a
doctrine of first use of nuclear weapons"
owes almost nothing to NATO enlargement and almost everything to
the collapse of its conventional military. Russia officially abandoned its
"no first use" policy in 1993, long before NATO gave serious thought to
admitting new members.
Whatever the long-term effects of NATO expansion, the short-term
effects have been beneficial. As with its failure to subdue Chechnya,
Russia's failure to derail NATO's efforts has exposed the gulf between
its great-power pretensions and its chronic weaknesses. The emergence
of vigorous military reforms in Moscow is the consequence of Russia's
reverses and the firmness of others.
NATO's movement east is also leading Russia to improve relations with
neighbors, including far-reaching accords with Ukraine. A similar change
of approach can be seen in the Baltic region and the Caucasus.
And Mr. Friedman's argument that NATO enlargement will hurt the Strategic
Arms Reduction Treaty is curious. While Russia might wish to rearm, it
can't afford to. And although our interest in arms control is great,
our greater need is to see Russia at peace with itself and its neighbors. An
enlarged NATO can advance that aim.
Union City, N.J., Aug. 1, 1997
The writer is a lecturer in international relations at Oxford University.
No Link to Start 2
To the Editor:
Thomas L. Friedman (column, July 31) gives unwarranted credence
to Aleksei Arbatov's claim that enlargement of the North Atlantic
Treaty Organization is linked with Russian ratification of the Strategic
Arms Reduction Treaty, asserting that "Mr. Arbatov is a democrat and
a strong advocate of U.S.-Russian cooperation and arms control treaties."
Mr. Arbatov is no democrat. Although he claims to be a supporter of
improved relations and arms control, he is a mouthpiece for the hard-liners
in the Russian Parliament who undermine United States-Russia relations.
Start 2, which would cut levels for long-range nuclear missiles to 2,500
to 3,000 for each side, has been ratified by the United States but not
Russia. Recently, to promote cooperation, provide transparency and develop
a more stable military relationship with the West, President
Boris N. Yeltsin signed the Founding Act, giving Russia a voice in NATO.
There is no logical connection between Start 2, which is in Russia's
self-interest, and NATO enlargement, which makes Russia a part-ner of the
West. Mr. Arbatov, who does not speak for the Russians,
risks having Russia lose out on both.
EDWARD L. ROWNY
Washington, Aug. 6, 1997
The writer was chief negotiator for Start 1.
Clinton Isn't Selling Out
To the Editor:
Thomas L. Friedman (column, July 31) argues that the Clinton
Administration is "selling out" United States-Russia relations for
expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
To knock President Clinton down, Mr. Friedman constructs a straw-man
No one in the Administration is saying that NATO expansion is going
to be an easy sell without substantial costs.
And the President is certainly not saying that either you love my
position or you are a card-carrying concessionist.
As for President Clinton's reawakening the slumbering Russian bear:
Let's say that he decides to close down the NATO shop tomorrow.
Can Mr. Friedman or his messenger of doom, Aleksei Arbatov, truly
maintain that Russia will stop thumping its chest? When in history has a
state in prolonged crisis not trumpeted the need for a robust military
and firm foreign policy to distract people from empty bread shelves or
exorbitant milk prices?
CRISTER S. GARRETT<
Monterey, Calif., Aug. 2, 1997
The writer is a professor of European studies at the Monterey Institute
of International Studies.
Date: Sun, 3 Aug 1997 13:00:21 +0400 (WSU DST)
From: email@example.com (Dorothy Rosenberg)
Here is a brief follow-up to the earlier Weir/Rosenberg
article in In These Times.
By the way, I do not consider myself a "Chubais hater",
however, I disagree with David Filipov's assertion that he is
just another corrupt Russian politician and thus not of interest
to US readers.
In the words of (I believe FDR in reference to Somoza's
father) "of course he's an SOB, but he's our SOB." As documented
by Janine Wedel and others, Chubais received considerable (and
very likely decisive) US support in achieving his current
position of power. Who received USAID funding and what it
produced is of considerable interest to US-taxpaying readers.
In striking contrast to other Russian leaders, such as
Chernomyrdin or Primakov, who were greeted with extremely
negative Western press coverage, Chubais coverage has been
consistently and uncritically positive in the mainstream press.
This also appears to be a result of his Harvard-USAID connections
and his ability "to speak English and tie his tie" (in Gaidar's
phrase describing the necessary qualifications for a reform
Western journalists and their editors obviously make choices
in what to cover. Choosing to cover a previous error in awarding
the "young reformer" title to a skilled and corrupt manipulator
seems to be particularly difficult. It's easier to just put down
the pompoms and pretend there never was any cheerleading.
Mr. Chubais is still around, however, and doesn't seem to
have learned much about proper behavior for high officials. The
longer the West (and the Western press) supports him, or fails to
distance itself from him, the more the eventual exposure will
land at their doorstep. After all, most Russians already know
who and what Chubais is.
SUBHEAD: Russian roulette
Another piece has fallen into place in a scandal involving
high-level Russian government officials and Harvard consultants
responsible for "reforming" Russia's economy. On July 1, the
Russian daily Izvestia reported that First Deputy Prime Minister
and Finance Minister Anatoly Chubais, Russia's leading "young
reformer," netted over $290,000 in interest last year on what
appears to be a $3 million bribe.
The scandal broke in May, when the U.S. Agency for International
Development (U.S.AID) suspended and then terminated a five-year,
$57 million contract with the Harvard Institute for International
Development (HIID) to advise and coordinate Russian economic
reforms. At issue were charges that Harvard Institute director
Andrei Shleifer and Moscow field director Jonathan Hay had
misused U.S.AID resources and engaged in insider trading (see
"The reform racket," June 30).
Hay acknowledged that in early 1996, while working as an adviser
to the government, he had invested in GKOs, extremely high-yield
Russian treasury bonds available by invitation only. Chubais
indignantly defended Shleifer and Hay and denounced an
investigation begun by U.S.AID as inspired by forces hostile to
Russian economic reform.
It now appears that Chubais' real concern was that the U.S.AID
inquiry would reveal his own involvement in the same scheme. On
February 29, 1996, according to Izvestia, Chubais signed an
agreement with Stolichny Bank for a five-year, interest-free,
no-collateral "loan" of $3 million to the Center for the Defense
of Private Property, a front organization that Chubais set up
following the HIID model. It funneled the money through another
front (this one set up by Arkady Yevstafyev, a member of Chubais'
clique later caught leaving Yeltsin's campaign headquarters with
$500,000 cash in a Xerox box) to something called Montes Auri
Corp., which in turn put it in GKOs. Interest on the bonds was
deposited into the personal bank accounts of Chubais, Yevstafyev
and Chubais' press secretary, Andrei Trapeznikov.
Arthur Andersen Accountants explains that "interest-free loans"
are internationally regarded as "unequivocal bribes." In December
1995, two months before it made the loan, Stolichny Bank was part
of a consortium granted a controlling stake in Sibneft, one of
Russia's largest oil companies, in the loans-for-shares program
Chubais directly controlled. At the time Chubais signed for the
money, he WAS temporarily out of government, working for HIID as
a consultant to Shleifer and Hay (previously his consultants). By
mid-March, however, he was back as the head of Yeltsin's
re-election campaign and extremely well-placed to influence GKO
interest rates. Last November, with Chubais essentially in charge
of the Russian government while Yeltsin had heart surgery,
Stolichny was awarded control of the state-owned Agroprombank,
one of Russia's ten largest banks.
Chubais doesn't deny any of this; he merely claims that he has
done nothing illegal. "An interest-free loan," he wrote in
response to Izvestia on July 5, "is absolutely normal ... in both
Russia and any democratic country." Any seeming impropriety, he
added, was sheer scandal-mongering by "anti-reform political
Chubais then left Moscow on vacation, another crony Vladimir
Potanin, who had acquired a controlling interest in Izvestia
fired its editor, and the Russian press fell silent despite the
exposure of Russia's leading "young reformer" as a corrupt
bureaucrat. The World Bank and the EBRD, which have open lines
of credit to Stolichny, had no comment. Harvard development
experts Jeffrey Sachs and Andrei Shleifer, who promoted Chubais
with U.S.AID and gave him the professional respectability and
resources to achieve his current position apparently couldn't
tell the difference and the Western press evidently doesn't want
From: "East View Publications" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, 4 Aug 1997 14:52:51 -0500
Subject: Attention Suffering Slavic Scholars
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The Sunday Times (UK)
10 August 1997
[for personal use only]
By Mark Franchetti
Dirt begins to hit Kremlin's Mr Clean
He was hailed as Boris Yeltsin's last great hope, an honest reformer who
would bring transparency to the Byzantine world of Kremlin politics.
But last week Boris Nemtsov, Russia's first deputy prime minister and
the country's most popular politician, was desperately trying to save
his Mr Clean image in his first real test since joining the Kremlin five
In a concerted attempt to discredit him, Andrei Klimentyev, a former
close friend of Nemtsov from his days as governor of Nizhny Novgorod,
has accused him of accepting more than $800,000 in bribes.
To make matters worse, a famous Russian investigative journalist has
published transcripts of a telephone conversation between Nemtsov and
Sergei Lisovsky a businessman once caught leaving a government
building with $500,000 in cash. The transcripts suggest that Nemtsov had
abused his position by holding up a decree demanding that government
members publicise their sources of income.
Nemtsov, 38, strongly denies the accusations. He is suing Klimentyev.
But Klimentyev claims to have witnesses who will testify against Nemtsov
Whatever the truth, the allegations have badly tarnished Nemtsov's
image. Yeltsin once famously claimed that he and Nemtsov were the only
Russian politicians never to have taken bribes; the two are said to have
a special relationship. Nemtsov is also widely tipped as a potential
"The honeymoon is over," said Andrei Piontkovski, a political analyst.
"Nemtsov was brought to Moscow because of his clean image and popular
appeal. But Mr Clean is getting dirtier by the day. It is a very
damaging scandal. Yeltsin will back him now, but if he feels that the
dirt is sticking, Nemtsov will be in trouble."
Last week Yeltsin did, indeed, back Nemtsov, voicing anger at the
allegations. But Nemtsov has made powerful enemies in the Kremlin. Fêted
by world leaders as a reformist trailblazer while governor of Nizhny
Novgorod, Nemtsov promised to take on Moscow's business oligarchies in
an attempt to introduce fair competition.
He recently angered two of the country's most powerful tycoons by
backing Vladimir Potanin, a banker, instead of them, in his successful
bid for control of Svyazinvest, the newly privatised state
Nemtsov may come to regret leaving his post in Nizhny Novgorod, where he
ruled as undisputed king.
"It is obvious that I will make huge enemies among the industrial and
financial oligarchy that now, in many respects, controls the situation
in Russia," he said soon after being appointed to his Kremlin job in
"I'll be perfectly frank with you: I am afraid. I have no head for
Kremlin intrigues. I know nothing about the rules of the game." He will
have to learn fast if he is to survive.
•It is certain to appeal to his victims. Alexander Lukashenko, the
authoritarian president of Belarus who has outraged the West by jailing
his critics, has become the unlikely subject of a computer game in which
players are free to blast away at him as he scuttles across the screen.
The balding leader explodes against a background of fluttering
opposition flags when his several lives run out, and Battle with
Lukashenko, as it is known, is a roaring success in Belarus. "It's
great," enthused one addict of the game being sold discreetly in Minsk,
the capital. "Lukashenko fires back with a gun, but he doesn't stand a
chance. I've blown him away a dozen times today."
Tips for the red blooded
The repressed former communist world is proving fertile ground for Ruth
Westheimer, the American sex therapist whose latest book, Sex for
Dummies, has just been published in Russian. Westheimer, 69, expects the
book, which offers advice on orgasm and contraception, to inspire a
generation denied the benefits of sex education under communism.
"I never thought that I would be standing here on Red Square with a book
on sex," she said last week.
She was particularly intrigued by the long summer evenings, known as
"white nights" in St Petersburg, where she interviewed couples about
their sexual habits.
"How fortunate for these people to be able to have very long lovemaking
episodes," she enthused.
Perhaps the subject for another book.
•He is an oddity, even in the political menagerie of the former Soviet
Union. Oleg Kulik, from Ukraine, has formed a political party for the
protection of animal rights. To publicise it, Kulik, 35, has taken to
crawling round Moscow's parks wearing nothing but a dog collar and
muzzle. He may have been inspired by the encouragement he received in
New York, where he starred in an art exhibition. He spent two weeks
locked naked in a cage, eating from a dog bowl and barking at visitors.
Farmers flock to camel corps
Camels are replacing sheep in southern Russia. "Camels are much cheaper
and easier to maintain," said Valery Shestinikin, a farmer in the
republic of Kalmyk who has abandoned his flock for 350 camels. "Their
wool is softer than that from sheep and makes great jumpers." He is also
hoping to market "camel cutlets". Already he makes a drink called kumis
from fermented camel milk. But "only people with very strong willpower
manage not to be sick after trying it for the first time", wrote a
Russian feminists are appalled. The Kremlin has put a man in charge of a
special commission for women. Oleg Sysuyev defended his appointment by
noting that other members of the commission, which has been told to find
ways of improving the status of women in Russia, were female.
His critics were not impressed. "It's typical," said one. "As usual,
we'll have a man telling us what's best for us women."
>From RIA Novosti
Argumenty i Fakty, No. 32
ARMY WILL HAVE TO BE DISBANDED DUE TO LACK OF MONEY
By Alexander KONDRASHOV, Vitaly TSEPLYAYEV
The appeal of the officers from the four military units of
the Novosysoyev garrison in the Far Eastern military district
describe the situation in the army in the following way: "Wages
are delayed for 4-5 months, cash compensation for food rations
and business trip expenses has not been paid for 2-3 years and
the arrears of payment for vacation travel expenses and also
child allowances constitute 6 months and more."
The report of the Russian Defence Ministry on the state of
the moral and psychological atmosphere in the army as of July
14, 1997 reveals that 92% of polled servicemen have lost any
hope to get their due wages. Only 8% of officers and warrant
officers believe that since the young reformers have kept their
word to pay out pensions, they will also settle wage arrears
with the army in time.
However, it will be far more difficult to pay wages to
officers than to pay pensions to senior citizens. Wage arrears
are enormous. In actual fact, the Defence Ministry is a
From January 1996 to July 1997 the debts to suppliers
alone had risen from 9 to 42 trillion roubles. For the first
half of the year, the Armed Forces received only 25% of the
funds endorsed by the law on the state budget. Taking into
account the federal budget cuts, the army has not received 75%
of their money.
Chief army financier, lieutenant-general Georgy Oleinik
said that by the middle of July the arrears of wages for
servicemen and civilian personnel had risen to 8.1 trillion
roubles. The debts under social and compensation payments
(ration money, child, medical and other allowances) will make
up another 5.3 trillion roubles. This will amount to a total of
13.4 trillion roubles. However, the Finance Ministry has
promised to pay only 4.56 trillion.
It is true that the army has not been properly financed.
But it is also true that even the allocated funds are often
used for other purposes. For instance, last year due to efforts
of the Procurator's Office the Moscow garrison alone recovered
damage in the amount of 2.56 billion. In the Volga Area
Military District the Accounts Chamber revealed illegitimate
expenses to the tune of 4.1 billion roubles. In the central
bodies of the Defence Ministry violations amount to 3.3.
billion. However, this is a small loss as compared to the
losses of the budget in the sphere of military education.
According to the Accounts Chamber, for the past two years every
third student of a military school was discharged. However, the
state spent 1.1. trillion roubles for their education.
The system of military trade is really a black hole for
finances. In 1994 as many as 120 billion roubles were channeled
into it for food deliveries to the North. The money which was
scattered among firms and small companies cannot be found to
this day. Incidentally, the results of most checks carried out
in the military department receive the classification of
"strictly confidential" documents and remain inaccessible for
And what about counting the cost of unnecessary lands,
enterprises, social, cultural and trade facilities owned by the
defence department? According to data of Argumenty i fakty, a
closed session of the working group of the Defence Council
cited the figure of 100 trillion roubles.
It will be a miracle if a lieutenant somewhere in a remote
area in Transbaikalia or the Far East receives all his due
wages by September 1. But while this money travels the way from
the Finance Ministry to the Defence Ministry and then to
various arms and armed services, and subsequently settles in
the headquarters of various military districts, armies,
divisions and regiments or, God forbid, is placed on accounts
of commercial banks at an interest, it will reach junior
officers at best by the New Year.
Russians Are a Hit Playing Baseball
August 8, 1997
A sports team consisting of players with last names like Zhirov, Protasov
and Kovtoon must be a hockey squad, right?
Wrong. The players on this team are indeed Russian, but they're playing
America's pastime - baseball - and are a hit with the fans.
A 12-member team of Russian players came to Bridgeton, N.J., this week -
two days earlier than expected - to play in the 31st Bridgeton Invitational
This is the first year international teams were invited to play in the
annual semipro tournament, which attracts some of the top men's teams from
the eastern U.S., and the Russians were the only ones to make it to this
southern New Jersey community.
Four of the players are members of the Russian Army baseball team, said
Bob Rose, the tournament's organizer.
But it hasn't been all baseball. There have been field trips to the
Jersey Shore and Philadelphia.
Rose said the team has played well so far and has fans rooting for them.
``Everyone's happy,'' he said. ``They could win, but the odds are against
Baseball was introduced in Russia 10 years ago and has yet to catch on
there, Rose said. And most of the players took up the sport rather late in
But that hasn't stopped some players from turning in spectacular
performances. Take Yuri Zhirov. The 31-year-old javelin
thrower-turned-pitcher pitched a four-hit complete game Wednesday night as
the Russians defeated a Cape May, N.J. squad 7-5.
If they defeat the Vineland, N.J. team Monday night, they will advance to
the championship game Tuesday. That could cause a problem.
``Some of the players are going back to Moscow Tuesday,'' Rose said,
adding that the team was trying to reschedule its flight arrangements.
The team has cultivated quite the following, despite speaking little
English. Of the 12 players, only three speak English fluently, Rose said.
But it helps that several of the players are named Andre, and the crowds
at Alden Field have taken to cheering on the Russians with shouts of ``Come
Right-fielder Alexander Kovtoon told The Press of Atlantic City that he
hoped the trip would improve his skills.
``The pitchers are good and fast (in America),'' he said. ``They have
many different pitches. In Russia, only two or three pitchers have good
The team's American accommodations are anything but plush. They are being
housed at Bridgeton Middle School and are sleeping in bunk beds provided by
the state Department of Corrections. But there are also several TVs so they
can watch their favorite programs - CNN and whatever baseball game happens
to be on, Rose said.
The team's airfare was paid partly by Russian business sponsors, who
accompanied the team to Bridgeton but have since left on a tour of the
country, Rose said.
``One of the first days the team was here, the sponsors decided to go to
Atlantic City,'' Rose said. ``They called me up the next day and said they
were in New York City.''
``Later, I got another phone call from them saying they were in San
Francisco,'' he added. ``And now they plan to go to Los Angeles and Miami.''
The players have gone on field trips, too, but not quite so far. One of
the first places they visited was Rowan University, formerly Glassboro State
College. Team members wanted to see the spot where Soviet Premier Aleksei
Kosygin and President Lyndon B. Johnson held the famous Hollybush Summit in
The rest of the jaunts were for fun. There was a visit to Veterans
Stadium in Philadelphia for a Houston Astros-Phillies game. The Russians got
to go on the field and posed for pictures with both teams, Rose said.
There was a trip to the U.S. Coast Guard station in Cape May, where they
took part in an impromptu softball game. And, being in New Jersey, it
wouldn't be summer without a trip to the Shore.
But the Russians also brought their business acumen with them. They are
selling hats and shirts, arts and crafts at the games, Rose said.
``Someone told me he expects them to sell the shirts off their backs
before they go back home,'' Rose said.