Center for Defense Information
Research Topics
CDI Library
What's New
CDI Library > Johnson's Russia List

Johnson's Russia List


August 12, 1997  
This Date's Issues: 1116 1117 1118

Johnson's Russia List
12 August 1997

[Note from David Johnson:
1. Reuter: Russian nuclear weapon risk seen great.
2. Stanislav Menshikov: What happened to "Pravda."
3. Kenneth Duckworth: Irkutsk Elections.
4. AP: Yeltsin Looks to End Death Penalty.
5. Delovoy Mir: Yeltsin's Style Seen as Unchanged Despite 
Own Assertion.

6. Yeltsin's August 8 radio address on currency revaluation.
7. The Sunday Times (UK): Mark Franchetti, 'Kremlin bribe' to 
stop Yeltsin story.

8. The Economist: The battle of Russia's capitalisms. Can the 
free-marketeers kick out the cronies?

10. ITAR-TASS: Leftists Begin 'Patriotic News Agency'; Zyuganov 

11. Interfax: Yeltsin Adviser Says Dissolution of Duma 'Not 

12. ITAR-TASS: Foreign Religious Organizations Break Russian Laws.
13. Reuter: Russian Old Believers still flourishing in Siberia.]


Russian nuclear weapon risk seen great
By Clifford Coonan 
August 11, 1997
FRANKFURT, Germany (Reuter) - The Cold War may be over but there is a danger
that Russia's aging nuclear weapons could be fired by accident, a German
study said Monday. 
The study by Germany's Peace and Conflict Research Foundation said serious
problems with early warning systems in Russia have led to the practice of
keeping nuclear weapons in a permanent state of alert there. 
This means they could be launched at the first signs of a real or imagined
attack, according to the study, a copy of which was made available to
``Nuclear weapons in emergency mode can be launched very quickly. This leads
to the danger of unintentional launches through technical errors or false
alarms,'' it said. 
``Poor security standards could lead to an unauthorized start.'' 
Since the breakup of the former Soviet Union into 16 states, much of Russia's
early warning network is no longer situated on Russian territory but in
former Soviet republics. 
Some satellites in early warning systems are too old to be used, while power
cuts affect satellites and early warning stations in use. 
Nuclear weapons in other countries are often kept in alert mode but the
problem is particularly acute in Russia, it said. 
``There is unsettling news here, which implies an acute danger for German and
European security,'' said the Frankfurt-based foundation, which advocates
nuclear disarmament. 
Russia and the United States have cut the number of stationary strategic
nuclear warheads by almost 50 percent since 1990. 
Only two of Russia's nuclear submarines are still on patrol, while the rest
of the fleet is in harbors. These and Russia's land-based nuclear warheads
are in constant alert mode because being stationary they can easily be
The study proposed ``de-alerting'' as a possible solution. 
This involves leaving many of a warhead's navigational systems and detonating
systems unprimed, which delays the time it takes to get the warhead into
launch mode. 
``Countries with nuclear weapons will only be ready to radically cut back on
their arsenals, or do away with them altogether, if secret nuclear weapons'
programs can be identified securely and early enough,'' the study said. 
``Creating a world free of nuclear weapons makes sense, because it is more
secure than a world in which nuclear weapons exist,'' the study concluded. 


Date: Mon, 11 Aug 1997
From: Stanislav Menshikov <> 
Subject: What happened to "Pravda"
Following a number of postings on the JRL as to the appearance of
the third "Pravda" I feel that it is only proper to put some facts straight.


The paper got into deep trouble immediately after August 1991 and
particularly when thr CPSU was banned by Yeltsin's decree later the same
year. While that decree was partly rescinded by the Constitutional Court in
1992, the paper's condition was not easy. It managed to survive only because
it was always legally independent from the Party and, according to new
legislation enacted under Gorbachev had registered as a publication of its
collective (i.e. its staff). After its former editor-in-chief Ivan Frolov
disappeared in July 1991 (for allegedly health reasons he stayed abroad
until much later), Gennady Seleznyov (now Speaker of the Duma) was elected
chief editor by the staff.
The paper was in continuous financial difficulties and would have
probably folded were it not for the Yannikos brothers, capitalists from
Greece who bought the newspaper in 1992 creating "Pravda International", a
closed joint-stock company in which the brothers held 51 percent of the
shares and the collective 49 percent. One condition was that the Yannikos's
agreed to keep seven foreign correspondents on the payroll. At that point,
as well as later, "Pravda" was and is one of the two leading Russian
newspapers (the other is "Izvestia") that has permamnent corerspondents
In October 1993, during Yeltsin's confrontation with the old
parliament, the paper was shortly closed and permitted to reopen on the
condition that Seleznyov would be removed from editorship.The staff complied
by electing as new chief editor Viktor Linnik who formerly edited the
international page. This two weeks pause was one of the two short periods
during the whole post-communist period when "Pravda" temporarily ceased to
Linnik's tenure lasted only a few months. He rejected the Yannikos's
increasing intervention in editorial matters and started looking for
domestic investors who could take over. But his attempts were not
successful. Relations with the principal owners were spoiled and in late
January 1994 they fired him. Because formal procedure was not followed
Linnik's dismissal was easily overruled by a Moscow court. However, at this
point a meeting of the staff voted to elect Alexander Ilyin, another board
member, as chief editor. Linnik left the paper followed by three or four
minor staff members but the overwhelming majority chose to stay.
The paper carried on as a daily. But Yannikos's intervention
increased. In 1995 they set up a Friday weekly supplement in tabloid form
which was officially registered as "Pravda-5". Relations between the staff
and the publishers got tense and soon after the presidential elections of
July 1996 the Yannikos's started firing leading members of the staff
including Ilyin. For two weeks they discontinued priting the daily issue but
soon resumed its publication under the name of "Pravda-5" continuing also to
produce the weekly tabloid. 
At this point most of the staff again stayed with Ilyin. It won a
number of court cases confirming its sole right to use the traditional
"Pravda" logo, but the Yannikos's continued to appear in their new form of
"Pravda-5" which is somewhat alike the real "Pravda" in appearance. Without
solid financial backing the real "Pravda" continued to appear regularly as a
weekly, but in its traditional form, i.e. not as a tabloid. Reports that it
has been appearing only occasionally are untrue. I receive it every week and
see that it has retained most of its tradiitional contributors. Most of its
staff stayed on, including all foreign correspondents save one. It is now in
the beginning of its second year of separate weekly existence.
Earlier this year the staff turned over its 49 percent in "Pravda
International" to the CP RF (Zyuganiov's party) in exchange for regular
financing. Negotiations continue with the Yannikos's with a view of buying
them out but so far no agreement has been reached. At its Congress in April
the Party passed a formal decision to support "Pravda" and resume its daily
publication as soon as possible, probably later this year.The party is also
represented by "Sovetskaya Rossiya", another daily with relatively wide
circulation and catering to a less educated strata in the Party. "Pravda"
addresses its message more to the party intelligentsia. Another CP weekly
"Pravda Rossii" is more theoretical in content. 
When Linnik started a third "Pravda" this July, he did so after
losing all court cases in which he and a few friends claimed to be the sole
and rightful heirs to the old "Pravda". In spite of his losses in court he
managed to obtain formal registration with the governmment's Committee on
Press Affairs. It is assumed that this was possible solely due to approval
from Mr. Chubais who, as firsty vice-premier, is also in charge of
overseeing media affairs. The purpose of the government is to provide yet
another illustration of splits within the Communist Party. But Linnik's
paper (which has so far succeeded in printing only two issues) does not
represent any faction in the CP RF. Linnik's group works out of one room at
"Moskovskaya Pravda" and its source of financial support is as yet unknown.
None of the staff of the real "Pravda" have so far joined him.
The situation is frustrating for all three publications because the
readers have difficulty distinguishing between the real and non-reals. How
long this situation can continue is anybody's guess. 


Date: Mon, 11 Aug 1997 
From: "Kenneth C. Duckworth" <> 
Subject: Irkutsk Elections

I know that you are on vacation and will probably have a lot of material to 
sort through when you return. Let me point out a few things that may be of 
interest before I get to my main comment on the Irkutsk elections. The 
Moscow Times reported Thursday, August 7 that dissident Orthodox priests, 
notably Gleb Yakunin, have voiced their concerns on the religion bill. He 
was joined by the leaders of the True Orthodox and Free Orthodox churches, 
offshoots of the Russian Orthodox Church that do not recognized the 
jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate. President Yeltsin has instructed 
the committee on redrafting the bill to get their version of the bill back 
to him September 1. 
I was in Irkutsk for the recent gubernatorial elections, and came back to 
find the AP report "Pro-Kremlin Candidate Wins in Siberia" in my JRL for 
July 27. I know that you are generally concerned with the poor coverage or 
miscoverage of events and developments in Russia by the Western press. I 
think this brief article is in need of some correction.
AP reported that Ivan Schadov was the candidate of Aleksandr Lebed's 
Popular Republican Party. This is not true. While Schadov had the backing 
of the local Lebed organization, as well as Yabloko, he was not nominated 
as a candidate of any political party. This, in fact, holds true for all 
the candidates in this race. None ran as candidates for any political 
party or faction. Sergei Levchenko was the only candidate who is a member 
of a political party, the KPRF. However, did not run as a KPRF candidate 
but was nominated by the People's Patriotic Union of Russia (NPSR). 


Yeltsin Looks to End Death Penalty 
August 11, 1997 
MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia still has the death penalty on the books, but no 
one has been executed in a year and President Boris Yeltsin is making 
strides toward phasing it out, officials said Monday. 
Russia pledged to outlaw the death penalty in January 1996 when it 
joined the Council of Europe, the continent's leading human rights 
But efforts to ban it were blocked by the Duma, parliament's lower house 
dominated by Communists and other hard-liners. 
Human rights activists say Russia executed 62 prisoners after joining 
the council. The last execution took place in August 1996, said Valery 
Borshchev, a liberal lawmaker and presidential human rights advisor. 
In order to keep Russia's obligations, the president's office has been 
closely scrutinizing existing death sentences and Yeltsin has granted 
all appeals for pardons received so far this year, Borshchev said in an 
interview with the ITAR-Tass news agency. 
The report didn't say how many people were pardoned. 
Yeltsin is also trying parliament again. Under a proposed bill Yeltsin 
sent to parliament last month, before any death sentence can be carried 
out it must be approved by the chairman of Russia's Supreme Court, the 
nation's top prosecutor and the presidential commission for pardons. 
ITAR-Tass quoted Mikhail Gutsiriyev, the Duma's deputy speaker, as 
saying the bill has good chance of passing. 


Yeltsin's Style Seen as Unchanged Despite Own Assertion 

Delovoy Mir
August 6, 1997
[translation for personal use only]
Article by Boris Krotkov: "After an Active Rest the President Will
Begin Active Work"

Once again the presidential banner is fluttering over B. Yeltsin's
Kremlin residence.
However, this time the president had been actively taking care of
business while on vacation as well. He signed many edicts, constantly
received top officials from the cabinet of ministers with reports,
delivered radio addresses to the people every Friday, and did not avoid
meeting with journalists. In short, the impression was created that, even
while on vacation, he does not rest.
In human terms one can express satisfaction that the president is
practically healthy, in spite of unkind predictions. At the same time it
is alarming, also in human terms, that Yeltsin has remained the same in
every way. He is still a leader who loves to bang his fist on the table
without any particular need, or announce that he is taking some burning
question under his personal control and promptly forget about it. He is
still a boss who does not delve deeply into problems and easily blames his
own blunders on his subordinates. Most importantly -- he remains a
politician who gets bored spending much time dealing with peaceful affairs
that are going smoothly. Give him a battle, a storm. Back in July,
marking the first anniversary of his re-election to a second term in
office, the president announced in a seemingly serious manner that he has
become a different person: "I never imagined that a person could change
like that. It turns out that he can. I feel that I have changed." That
is what he said, and as proof he told Russians that he can now deal
directly with his political rivals, including the Communists, quite calmly.
(Before this he evidently could not.) B. Yeltsin noted that he no longer
feels the urge to "smack" the Duma every time it starts contradicting him. 
"Because our problems are mutual," he explained. "State problems. The
problems of our people -- improving their lives."
However, today we can see that Boris
Yeltsin was definitely hasty about making this statement.
Actually, he is the same as he was, regrettable as this may be. There
is enough evidence of this. We will cite three of the most recent
examples. The first. After a year's work, the Duma finally passed the law
on freedom of conscience, and B. Yeltsin imposed a veto on it, among other
reasons, because (as he announced to the entire country) the bill had been
"prepared by the Communist faction in the Duma." Two. When the Duma
finished its spring season with quite good results, having passed, among
others, important laws on such issues as mortgages, privatization, the new
Tax Code (in its first reading), and dozens more, a harsh accusation was
hurled at it. The lower house of parliament was publicly and absolutely
unfairly called a "zero" in the legislative process. Publicly, with the
showing on television of the palm of the president's right hand, with two
fingers -- the thumb and the index finger -- making an expressive bagel. 
And third. When the scandal in Belarus (the so- called ORT affair)
erupted, B. Yeltsin suddenly gave A. Lukashenka a public dressing down.
So has B. Yeltsin become a different man recently? Hardly.


Agency Carries 'Text' of Yeltsin Address 

Informatsionnoye Agentstvo Ekho Moskvy 
August 7, 1997

On 8 August, Russian Federation President Boris Yeltsin will deliver
his traditional radio address to the people of Russia. It will be
broadcast by the Ekho Moskvy radio station at 0900 [0500 GMT].
We are transmitting the full text of the address:
Dear people of Russia
On Monday [4 August] I made a statement about the forthcoming monetary
reform. From 1 January 1998, the ruble will be redenominated by a factor
of 1,000. The R5,000 note will become the normal R5 note. 
Correspondingly, you will now pay the more customary R5 for goods that cost
R5,000 before the reform. Monetary reform has long been due. The reform
has now been announced. It has been announced in advance so that people
can stop worrying, since there is no threat to anybody.
Of course, the previous reforms, starting from the one in 1947, always
took something away from our citizens. There were always some restrictions
-- either they exchanged only a particular sum, or else the exchange had to
be carried out within three days -- and so the reform was kept secret. It
was announced only the day before so that no one would have time to make
any preparations, to sort out their money. This caused panic and stress;
people crowded into queues and, of course, some people suffered. Everyone
has become used to the idea that if a monetary reform has been announced
then their money will be taken away or else everything will go up in price.
This time nothing like this will happen. The monetary reform that has
been announced will not lead to any confiscation and so we are announcing
it in advance. I hope that this time there will be no rush or panic. I
hope that people will be able to understand everything calmly, weigh it all
up and get a thorough grasp of everything. There is no need to worry --
there will be no leap in prices. Nothing will disappear from the shops. 
This time the reform will have no victims.
The new coins and bank notes will go into circulation from 1 January
1998. The old notes and the new ones will be allowed to circulate
simultaneously throughout 1998. All banks, enterprises, and shops will be
obliged to accept them. By 1 January 1999, we will withdraw the old notes
from circulation. But for a further four years, up to the end of 2002,
they will be accepted for exchange by institutions of the Central Bank of
The kopeck will reappear in our country. Today's children no longer
understand the old Russian proverb "the kopeck looks after the ruble." 
Many of them have probably never even seen a kopeck. Now the kopeck is
coming back. This means that once again we will have normal money.
The special feature of this reform is that citizens do not have to
change their money. They will buy goods using the old money and,
increasingly, they will receive the new money as change. Wages and
pensions will gradually be paid out in new notes, but only starting from 1
January 1998. Anyone who wishes to change their money will be able to do
this without any restrictions -- however much anyone brings in, it will all
be changed.
I should like to separately mention the deposits in the Savings Bank
and other banks. I appreciate that people are, of course, worried that
their savings will suffer and that their deposits be devalued. This will
never happen under any circumstances. A deposit of 100,000 rubles will
become a 100-ruble deposit, but after the New Year 100 rubles will buy you
same things that 100,000 rubles buys you at present.
And now about the reasons for this reform. The appearance of a great
number of zeros on our bank notes was the result of inflation, the rapid
and continuous price rises. Many people remember the anxiety they felt not
so long ago every time they entered a shop. There was a time when prices
were rising literally every day. As a result, the 5,000 and 10,000 ruble
notes became the most frequently used bank notes, just as the five and 10
ruble notes in the past. Recently, we even had to introduce a 1 million
ruble note.
From next year, we will again begin to count money in normal rubles
and kopecks. This will be an easier and more familiar way. Many people
today cannot even visit a shop without a calculator. This is
understandable: It is hard to imagine how one can add or multiply
thousands and tens of thousands in one's head. We have reached a stage
when a visit to a shop is often like a maths test. Let us see what happens
if we try to recalculate today's prices. Say, the average price of a kilo
of beef today is 15,272 rubles. It will become 15 rubles 27 kopecks. Take
the dollar rate, for example. At present if is about 5,800 rubles. This
will be 5 rubles 80 kopecks in new money. You must agree that the new
prices will be simpler to use and to understand. Planning and calculating
your expenses will become much easier.
Of course, having the old and the new notes in circulation at the same
time could cause a certain amount of confusion when making payments and so,
at first, both the old and the new prices will be shown on price tags. 
Furthermore, the new notes will be as similar as possible to the old ones
in both color and design. We are returning once again to the money we are
used to and the scale of prices we are used to.
By introducing this monetary reform we are firmly stating that we have
conquered inflation and have it firmly under control. And so we have
decided to get rid of the unnecessary zeros from the notes. I am certain
that the monetary reform will take place calmly. This certainty is built
on the fact that we know what to do and how to do it, on the fact that we
have learned how to achieve visible results. The authorities are not
concealing their decisions and intentions from their citizens. We are
announcing them openly and in advance. I met a lot of people yesterday and
I must say that they are reacting fairly calmly.
So that people can ring up at any time and receive clear answers to
all the questions they are interested in, I have instructed the Central
Bank to open up a "hot line."
As a result of the reform we will cease to be a country in which
nearly all members of the population are millionaires. It may be that some
people like to call themselves millionaires, but you must agree that for
the majority of our citizens this sounds like mockery. We are now going to
receive our wages -- again, from 1 January -- and make our payments in
normal rubles and not in inflated millions. The reform will make the ruble
stronger and more reliable. Many people are already keeping their savings
in the banks in ruble accounts because this is profitable and, what is most
important -- totally safe.
I am convinced that the time will come when Russians will be proud of
their rubles and will not change them for any dollars.
Thank you for your attention.


The Sunday Times (UK)
10 August 1997
[for personal use only]
'Kremlin bribe' to stop Yeltsin story 
by Mark Franchetti 

PRESIDENT Boris Yeltsin's former chief bodyguard has accused the Kremlin 
of trying to bribe him not to publish memoirs portraying the leader as a 
vodka-sodden wreck who is hopelessly isolated from his government and 
Extracts from the book, published in last week's Sunday Times, have been 
seized on in Russia as evidence of what had long been suspected: that 
Yeltsin, after a long battle with heart disease and alcohol, has lost 
control of the Kremlin to a powerful cabal of business tycoons and 
Alexander Korzhakov, a former KGB officer who was once Yeltsin's closest 
friend and adviser, claimed last week in an interview with The Sunday 
Times that he was offered $5m (3.1m) to suppress his book. 
He said the offer was made over dinner by intermediaries acting on 
behalf of Tatyana Dyachenko, Yeltsin's daughter and chief image-maker, 
and Boris Berezovsky, the deputy head of Russia's security council and 
one Yeltsin's closest advisers. 
"The message was clear," said Korzhakov, who fell out with Yeltsin last 
year in a battle for influence with liberals running Yeltsin's campaign 
for re-election. "'Don't publish the book and we will take care of you. 
We will provide you with a credit card,' they told me." 
Korzhakov said he declined the offer because "it is time the truth about 
Yeltsin is known". 
The Kremlin reacted angrily last week to the charges of bribery. 
"Korzhakov is a sick man," said Sergei Yastrzhembsky, Yeltsin's 
spokesman. "He suffers from an inferiority and persecution complex." 
He added: "Of course Yeltsin is upset by some of the things Korzhakov 
says in his book, but he never gave an order to prevent its publication, 
nor did his daughter. If the need arises we will turn to the courts to 
defend the image of the president." 
Korzhakov maintains, however, that Yeltsin made a concerted effort to 
gag him, for fear that the book would do irreparable damage to his 
reputation. He accused the Russian president of ordering Nikolai 
Kovalyov, the intelligence chief, to "solve the Korzhakov problem" or be 
sacked. The memoirs, to be published in Russia this week under the title 
Boris Yeltsin: From Dawn to Sunset, provide a rare and fascinating 
glimpse into the secret world of Kremlin politics. 
"He is not in charge," Korzhakov said. "Russia is ruled by an oligarchy, 
not by its president. He is an isolated man and doesn't know half of 
what is happening around him. His close circle will make sure that he 
doesn't get to know about some of the revelations in my book." 
Korzhakov was one of Yeltsin's closest and most fiercely loyal 
confidants for more than a decade. He claims the two were "blood 
brothers" who twice sealed their friendship by cutting their arms and 
mixing their blood. 
"The only people who know the real Yeltsin are his family and the 
Korzhakov family," he said. "He wears a mask in front of all others." 
The book risks undermining Yeltsin's attempts to improve his image after 
his recovery from a quintuple heart bypass. He returned last week to 
Moscow from a month's holiday in which he attempted to dispel the 
public's perception of him as a geriatric in the mould of the former 
politburo leaders by being filmed fishing, signing important decrees and 
meeting members of government. 
The former bodyguard portrays Yeltsin, 66, as a man drunk on power and 
recklessly lacking in self control. Korzhakov also attacks Dyachenko for 
incompetence, despite being a godfather to her youngest son. 
"To start with, Tatyana was in my office all the time," wrote Korzhakov. 
"Our conversations would start with her exclaiming, 'I don't understand 
a word in this madhouse. You are the only one I trust.' " 
But the trust soon turned to hatred, and last week Korzhakov accused her 
of asking Anatoly Chubais, the first deputy prime minister, to 
investigate Korzhakov's finances in the hope of finding compromising 
material. "I want to crush him," Korzhakov quoted Dyachenko as saying. 
Shortly before his sacking, Korzhakov complained to Dyachenko about the 
excessive access to Yeltsin that she had granted Berezovsky, at the time 
a powerful magnate without the senior Kremlin position that he now 
Exasperated, Korzhakov once exploded and told her that he would kill 
"Her answer astonished me by its cynicism," Korzhakov wrote. Yeltsin's 
daughter told him: "Please, do whatever you want to him, but after the 
Korzhakov added: "I am not afraid of the Kremlin. Let Yeltsin sue me if 
he wants. I have told no lies and he knows it. That's why they are all 
so scared of this book. I won't be silenced." 


The Economist
August 9th, 1997
[for personal use only]
Leader [editorial]
The battle of Russia's capitalisms
Can the free-marketeers kick out the cronies?

IS RUSSIA at last beginning to come good? The past few months have
witnessed the most cheery signs yet, since the Soviet empire blew apart six
years ago, that Russia could become a normal country-that is to say, stable
and more prosperous, its economy underpinned by respect for the law.
Reformers in government have a new momentum. One of them, Boris Nemtsov,
has raised the stakes by publicly lambasting some of the robber-barons who
have earned Russia the unhelpful reputation ofbeing a corrupt and lawless
"wild east". But can the reformers take on the barons and win?
For half a year after Boris Yeltsin's re-election a year ago, Russia was
rudderless, its helmsman desperately ill. A surly and obstructive
parliament was-still is-dominated by backward-looking communists and
quasi-fascist nationalists. Reforms faltered. But with his health Mr
Yeltsin has recovered a new political zest and a new sense of direction.
His two hand-picked reformers-Mr Nemtsov and Anatoly Chubais-have been
yanking Russia forward towards economic liberalism. They have led the way
towards tax reform and a tight budget, to further privatisation, to
subsidy-slashing.Theyare bent on creating a moreopen economy.And Mr
Nemtsov, in particular, is proving skilled at selling his ideas, through
television, to the people. Parliament is on the defensive. For the first
time since communism collapsed, reformers are winning a dose of respect,
even popularity.
Most daringly, the reforming pair has taken on some of the new mega-rich
barons who bankrolled Mr Yeltsin's reelection victory last year and had
expected to recoup the investment by continuing their insiderish carve-up
of the country's assets (see page 42). if these barons can now be put in
their place, allowing open competition to replace fix-it cronyism, Russia
can start to draw in the much-needed investment-Russian and foreign-that
has so far been frightened off by the free-for-some. Meanwhile, a slew of
scandals may yet cast down some of Russia's more spectacular, and hitherto
protected, crooks.
There are now some perkier statistics to strengthen the reformees hand.
The currency is strong-hence the psychologically potent decision, this
week, to re-denominate the rouble next year by lopping three noughts off
it. The massive slump in industrial production may at last have bottomed
out, with modest growth-of perhaps 2% -expected next year. Pension and
wage arrears are being paid off. For most young Russians and for those
fortunate enough not to live in Russia's obsolete single-industry towns,
fresh hope is in the air.
This reformers'honeymoon may not, of course, last. Many of the proposed
refbrms-reducing vast subsidies for housing and utilities, such as
electricity-have already provoked snarls from consumers; some backsliding
has already hal>pened. Avast mass of Russians still resent their failure
to benefit from the traumatic economic changes. Public servants, from
policemen to teachers, are still paid so badly that they can survive only
by taking bribes, by finding part-time private work or by living offthe
fumes ofenvy. Soldiers, too, have been muttering darkly about their
unhappiness-prodding Mr Yeltsin into promising rapid reform of the army.
What is more, the current tussle between reformers and the big barons is by
no means a clear-cut battle between good guys and bad. Uneximbank, which
recently won Russia's fairest privatisation auction to date, for a telecoms
firm, Svyazinvest, was a chief beneficiary of previous dodgy carveups. A
number of the reformers'allies are themselves far from spotless; few if any
saints have survived in the post-Soviet brawl of Russian politics and
business. But the outcome of recent battles for Svyazinvest and fbr Tyumen
Oil was encouraging. in each case, the winning parties were obliged to pay
a fair price for their prize. A pity, then, that this week's auction for a
38% stake in Norilsk Nickel, the world's largest nickel producer, also won
by Uneximbank, smacked still of partiality, even though the more
market-friendly bidder won the day. Still, encouragingly, at the core of
the recent privatisation struggles is the notion of shareholder rights-with
places on directors'boards and impartial enforcement of commercial law,
especially fbr foreign investors.

Millennial choice

Yet the battle will be a long one. Much will depend on Mr Yeltsin's
eventual successor. A Communist is now unlikely to take over. The old
party still has a solid fifth of the votersenough, perhaps, to give its
candidate a chance to reach a second-round run-off in the next presidential
race, due in 2000, but too little to bring victory unless Russia's
tentative recovery collapses. The real fight is between crony capitalism
(to which many old communists have in fact themselves converted) and the
more liberal, free-market sort.
The contenders are limbering up. The most formidable candidate for
cronycapitalism is Moscow's mayor Yuri Luzhkov. Alexander Lebed, an
unpredictable ex-general whose star has faded of late (perhaps, to his
credit, because he has too few cronies), could yet challenge him. Perhaps
the biggest worry is that the true reformers, led by Messrs Chubais and
Nemtsov, have no single torch-bearer. Promising as Mr Nemtsov is, it is
too early to anoint him. Meanwhile, the big barons, who own many media
outlets, are throwing dirt at him. Reforming Russia remains a risky
business. And the fight isn't over yet.


MOSCOW, August 8 (from RIA Novosti correspondent Marianna
Shatikhina) -- A large report on the condition of civil society
in Russia has been prepared by the staff of the President,
assistant to the head of state Georgy Satarov told a
press-conference at RIA Novosti today. According to him, this
document is a kind of " "launching pad" for the implementation
of the programme of state support to the institutes of civil
society, the need for which was stressed by the President in his
annual address to the Federal Assembly. The report will be
submitted to the general public late in September - early in
October, specified Satarov, noting in a talk with the RIA
Novosti correspondent that a memorandum to this effect is being
prepared to be later submitted to the President.
Pursuant to other provision of the presidential address,
said Georgy Satarov, the staff of the President are now working
on the reform of the administrative system in the country. The
concept of this reform is to be made public early in October.


Leftists Begin 'Patriotic News Agency'; Zyuganov Comments 
Moscow, 8 Aug -- Journalists were introduced to the Patriotic News
Agency [Agentstvo Patrioticheskoy Informatsii--API] during a news
conference held at the Central House of Journalists today by the leaders of
the leftwing opposition to mark the first anniversary of the establishment
of the People's Patriotic Union of Russia [NPSR].
The decision to set up the API was made by the NPSR Presidium, and the
agency, already registered with the State Committee of the Russian
Federation for the Press, has already begun operations, according to the
NPSR press service.
The NPSR regional structures are actively assisting the new agency in
establishing a regional network of correspondents. Journalists were
presented with the new agency's information and analysis bulletin.
Gennadiy Zyuganov, leader of the Communist Party of the Russian
Federation [CPRF], thinks that leftwing and patriotic forces have managed
to "break the information blockade" in the past 12 months. He told the news
conference today that in all Republics and regions the leftwing and
patriotic forces are now publishing some 300 newspapers and magazines and
running three radio stations.
"The population will receive first-hand information; we will manage to
bring the truth to the citizens of Russia," Gennadiy Zyuganov said.


Yeltsin Adviser Says Dissolution of Duma 'Not Beneficial' 

MOSCOW, Aug 8 (Interfax) -- President Boris Yeltsin's political
adviser, Georgiy Satarov, said at a Friday [8 August] news conference in
Moscow that it is "not beneficial" for either the president or the
government to dissolve the Duma.
"There is nothing that could provoke the dissolution," he stressed at
a press conference at the RIA-Novosti agency.
On the social upheavals forecast for fall by various politicians, he
said everything would depend on how well presidential orders to pay wage
arrears to government employees were carried out.
"If at least the president's promise to pay delayed wages to
servicemen by September is fulfilled, social tension will slacken," Satarov
said. "Other government employees will be given hope that their wages will
be paid too."
He said he was confident the forecasts of social upheavals in autumn
would not come true.
On the 1998 budget, Satarov said it would differ cardinally from
previous ones because "it will have extremely little space for lobbying
anyone's interests." He said its approval may be very difficult. "This
will be even more difficult than the current sequestration, the tax code
and the package of social bills" he said.
Both the government and opposition "are interested in stability," he
"The president and government are unable to carry out the economic
program planned for this year without due legislative support," he said. 
"The tax code cannot be enforced by a presidential decree because it must
be approved by the Duma," Satarov said.


Foreign Religious Organizations Break Russian Laws 

MOSCOW, August 8 (Itar-Tass) -- The activity of many foreign religious
organisations in Russia has entailed breaches of law and constitutional
rights of citizens, which led the institution of criminal proceedings in a
number of cases, according to a ranking Russian prosecutor.
Prosecutor Viktor Navarnov, who is in charge of supervision over
compliance with the laws on inter-ethnic relations, said in an exclusive
interview with Itar-Tass today that his division of the Office of the
Procurator General of the Russian Federation had information about a
serious threat to the state and society posed by the spread in Russian
territory of non-traditional religious associations (totalitarian sects)
which foster asocial behaviour, reject constitutional duties and place at
risk their adepts' moral, psychic and physical normalcy.
By encouraging rifts in the spiritual sphere on the basis of different
religious beliefs, the totalitarian sects seek to undermine the spiritual
and moral integrity of society which has taken shape over centuries in the
history of the Orthodox Christian Russia, Navarnov said.
Navarnov cited competent experts as saying that the totalitarian sects
were seeking to change in full the system of moral values of their adepts
through open manipulation of their consciousness with the help of sermons,
rituals and other tools.
An analysis of videotapes and literature has revealed that they were
designed to revamp the adepts' social and economic orientations and make
them completely committed to a specific religious sect through purposeful
brainwashing by means of rationalistic and emotionally-stressful impact.
As a result of research conducted by experts it was established that
the involvement of young people with the activity of asocial religious
groups led to the destruction of family relations, the slow-down in their
psychic and social development, and the deformation of their individuality
structure, which required special psychological and social correction.
The Office of the Procurator General has information that 37 religious
organisations are active without due registration that is conditions of
conspiracy, in the Volgograd region alone. These profit-seeking
organisations include The White Fraternity, Bahai, The Centre of the World,
and The Black Moon organisations. All of them are characterised by a rigid
internal hierarchy, complete submission of the rank-and-file members to the
superiors and a total control over the private life of the followers.
The Church of Scientology, for example, resorts to forbidden dianetic
manipulative procedures, involving penetration into the subconscious, which
creates conditions in which harm can be done to people's moral, psychic and
physical health.
The Jehovah's Witnesses have established 144 communities in European
Russia. Numerous statements addressed to the law- enforcement bodies by
citizens whose relatives are members of these sects testify that the
community leaders deceitfully entice citizens to join the sect and then fan
hatred of traditional religions, turn them into psychic zombies, forbid
them to do their constitutional duty by defending the country and serving
in the Armed Forces, break up families.
Among the ideas spread by the Jehovah's Witnesses and posing a threat
to society is the doctrine of the impending end of the world which is
widely used both to attract new members and to intimidate those who have
doubts and thus make them stay in the sect.
The teaching about an impending global catastrophe is used to generate
mass psychosis, it is extremely amoral, Navarnov said. The Jehovah's
Witnesses organisation has repeatedly predicted the end of the world, and
expert psychologists believe that an "end-of-the- world" situation can be
"provoked" by the sect if it follows in the steps of the AUM Shinrikyo cult
and makes use of mass destruction weapons for the purpose. Untold victims
could result from such an attempt, Navarnov said.


Russian Old Believers still flourishing in Siberia
By Gareth Jones 
August 11, 1997
DESYATNIKOVO, Russia (Reuter) - With her plump physique and weather-beaten
face, Anna Chistyakova looks like any other ``babushka'' -- the feisty
grannies who are as much a part of Russian life as vodka or snow. 
But this white-haired octogenarian in her headscarf and brightly colored
apron is not as typical as she seems. She is also the priest of her sleepy
Siberian village. 
Chistyakova, who once drove a tractor on her local collective farm, has not
been ordained but has been baptizing people and conducting religious services
for 35 years. 
``I started christening people because there was nobody else left who
could,'' she said in her modest but tidy cottage adorned with icons, candles
and colorful rugs. She is one of Russia's Old Believers, a group who broke
with the official Orthodox Church in the 17th century because they refused to
accept reforms of its liturgy and rituals. 
Like the mainstream church, the Old Believers do not allow women priests, but
tough conditions facing her embattled rural community forced Chistyakova to
take on her pastoral duties. 
``When I started baptizing people I got into a lot of trouble with the local
Soviet (council), but what can you expect of those Communists, who used to
have icons chopped up and made into chairs?'' she asked scornfully. ``I used
to do the christenings at night, in secret,'' she said, adding that older
people wanting baptism were dunked in the river ``because they were too big
to fit in the bath.'' 
Though greatly reduced in number after 70 years of atheistic communism,
communities of Old Believers still exist across the former Soviet Union and
cling tenaciously to beliefs that have sustained them through centuries of
persecution and exile. Buryatia, an autonomous republic tucked away in
southern Siberia between Lake Baikal and the Mongolian border, has Russia's
largest surviving community of Old Believers, believed to number some
To an outsider, the differences between Old Believers and mainstream Orthodox
Christians appear minor, even petty, but they have been a matter of life and
death in the past and still stir powerful emotions. Old Believers insist on
making the sign of the cross with two fingers, not three as in the official
church, stick to older spellings of some words such as Isus not Iisus for
Jesus, and take a stricter attitude toward fasting and other religious
Villages in the region have two cemeteries -- one for the Old Believers and
one for the mainstream church. 
``There are many important differences between them and us,'' said Sergei
Paliy, an Old Believer sporting the traditional bushy beard who lives in the
village of Kuitun. ``For example our services are much longer,'' he said
proudly, turning the pages of a psalter written in medieval Old Church
Slavonic language also still used by the official church. 
Like Chistyakova, Paliy is authorized by his community to carry out baptisms.
``But I cannot marry people. We have a priest who does that, but when he is
away I can do the christenings,'' he said. 
Kuitun is home to the only functioning Old Believers' church in Buryatia,
housed in a small barn-like building, but a larger church complete with
traditional onion domes is under construction in the village. 
``We raise money from various sources, including believers in Germany and the
local collective farms,'' Paliy said. 
Galina Chebonin, who runs the local culture center, said Old Believers were
learning to be proud of their identity. 
``In communist times people were embarrassed because Old Believers were
considered backward and out of touch. Now almost all our young people get
married in church and observe the other practices like fasting during Lent,''
she said. ``It gives people an identity, a sense of their own past in these
difficult times.'' 
Since first opposing Patriarch Nikon's reforms in 1653, Russia's Old
Believers have suffered brutal repression under the czars and later the
commissars. Some Old Believers went abroad to start communities in Europe or
America but many more settled in Russia's remote Siberia and Central Asia. 
Today, Old Believers are free to worship as they like. Though many still work
on the land, some in Buryatia occupy important posts in local government or
business. Like Russians everywhere they are having to adapt to the country's
painful post-communist economic transition but their traditional resilience
has helped them weather the changes, Chebonin said. 
``We have always had to live in difficult conditions. We are used to it. They
say the Old Believers can survive anywhere, in Siberia, Alaska, wherever they
settle,'' said historian Firs Bolonev. 
The Old Believers have a reputation for piety, hard work and abstinence and
tend to refrain from smoking and alcohol -- unusual in a country so addicted
to tobacco and vodka. An Old Believer himself, Bolonev said he was worried by
a decline in the observance of traditional practices like bowing to one's
elders and felt the community's revival was hampered by a shortage of people
versed in Old Belief rituals and texts. 
``Nevertheless, the number of believers has been growing since the collapse
of the Soviet Union,'' he said, adding that it was difficult to give precise
figures because Old Belief comprised diverse groups and lacked a central
He said Old Believers had much to learn from Buryatia's indigenous people,
who profess Tibetan Buddhism and have marked the fall of communism by
rebuilding many temples and monasteries. ``By contrast we still only have one
church. Now we must unite our efforts and try to build more,'' he said. 


Return to CDI's Home Page  I  Return to CDI's Library