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Johnson's Russia List
26 August 1997
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Reuter: Stalin's victims resurface to haunt Russia.
2. Financial Times (UK): Chrystia Freeland, Russia: The
Gulag Grand Tour.
3. Reuter: Very few of Europe's top Communists serve time.
4. The Times (UK): Richard Beeston, Moscow's critics still
face 'jail' in mental hospital.
5. RIA Novosti: WE OFFER A BUDGET WHICH GUARANTEES ECONOMIC
GROWTH, CHUBAIS SAYS.
6. AP: Crimeans Protest U.S. Presence.
7. Boston Globe editorial: The assassins of change in Russia.
8. St. Petersburg Times editorial: Fear Stalks Russia's Elite
After Manevich's Shocking Murder.
9. Komsomolskaya Pravda: Nikolay Yefimovich "Will Boris
Berezovskiy Be Forced To Resign? Yes, He Will, Only Provided
That Nemtsov Does Not 'Quit the Scene' Like Kokh."]
Stalin's victims resurface to haunt Russia
By Alastair Macdonald
August 25, 1997
SANDORMOKH, Russia (Reuter) - Tall birches now grow where, in a clearing in
the vast Karelian forest near the Finnish border, some 9,000 Russians and
others were shot and buried in a few short autumn weeks in 1937.
It has taken 60 years and the collapse of Soviet communism for researchers to
track down their bones at the site of one of countless such massacres during
Stalin's 30-year reign of terror, which left perhaps 20 million dead.
A death-bed confession by a local man who was one of the killers helped
identify an acre of woodland where trees thrive on a fertile patchwork of
rectangular depressions in the forest floor -- more than 100 pits dug by
half-clad prisoners before an executioner put a pistol bullet in the back of
their heads. The NKVD secret police murdered up to 400 in a night.
``Russia's elite lies here,'' said Nadezhda Yermolovich, a journalist from
the nearby town of Medvezhyegorsk who helped track down the graves and their
hoard of bullet-holed skulls. Researchers from Memorial, an organization that
searches for victims of repression, finally located them this summer.
On Oct. 27, they will unveil a monument to the academics and priests,
Communists, soldiers and other victims of the Great Terror of 1936-38 who lie
in the spot known as Sandormokh. Some data suggest a million were shot in
these three years of purges.
A week or so later, on Nov. 7, Russia will mark the 80th anniversary of the
Bolshevik revolution with a public holiday.
LITTLE SIGN OF YELTSIN'S ``RECONCILIATION''
President Boris Yeltsin, after defeating a strong Communist challenge to win
re-election last year, declared 1997 ``The Year of Reconciliation and
Accord,'' saying he wanted to heal divisions rent by seven decades of
Yet, highlighting the awkward problems history poses for current politics,
requests for details of what events will mark the year of reconciliation, due
to culminate Nov. 7, met with embarrassed silence from Kremlin spokesman and
While Germany has spent half a century coming to terms with the inhumanities
of the Nazi years, Russia is only just emerging from a blanket of absolute
state control of opinion and many argue it has yet to grapple with its past.
``There will be no hugs and kisses,'' said historian Vladimir Naumov,
secretary of Yeltsin's committee for the ehabilitation of victims of
repression. ``How can there be reconciliation when the guilty have not been
punished or even publicly identified?''
He says Russians must delve deeper into their past and confront the horrors
of the Stalin years. Stalin is still revered by today's Communists and by
millions of older Russians, mainly for his wartime role. His remains still
lie in Red Square while those of most of his victims lie forgotten in
unmarked graves in places like Sandormokh.
Many Russians, struggling with the economic hardships of today, have little
time for reopening yesterday's wounds. Many politicians argue that so many
were compromised by the old regime that to bring them to book, even
posthumously, would damage, not strengthen, the country's fragile new
In the isolated communities of Karelia, finding the graves and a list naming
nearly half of those buried there has been welcomed, however, and many locals
support the monument.
MEMORIALS TO STOP IT FROM HAPPENING AGAIN
``We need to put up these memorials to stop this happening again,'' said
Galina Vaskoyeva, deputy mayor of Povenets, the village nearest the graves
and one of a string of settlements founded here in the 1930s as gulag labor
Povenets, at the southern end of the White Sea Canal, has already put up a
stone to the 200,000 who died digging the grandiose and largely useless
waterway in 1931-33. Some diehard Communists objected, she said: ``But mostly
even the Communists were shocked to realize how many died here.''
Medvezhyegorsk (Bear Hill) was no more than a railway halt in 1930. By 1936,
local people say, it boasted one of best opera houses in Russia for camp
guards after Stalin dispatched the cultural elite to the gulags to chop
``My father was a guard at the camp here,'' Alexander Ivanov said. Many
around Medvezhyegorsk today still trace their roots back to the camps --
either to the jailers or the inmates.
``He watched all these people being brought in by train,'' Ivanov said,
recalling the shootings of 1937. ``They were put in trucks and taken off to
the woods. They never came back.''
Did his late father every feel guilty? ``He lived in fear all his life. It
was kill or be killed,'' he said. ``I'm glad they've found the graves. It's
good for the people who lost relatives.''
Svetlana Yakovleva, a teacher in Povenets, agreed and said the monument would
also help her explain history to her 5-year-old grandson. She hoped it would
help heal old wounds.
'WE MUST FORGIVE'
``We all breathe the same air,'' she said. ``We must forgive.''
Sixty years on, there is not much left but to forgive. ``Who is there left to
punish?'' asked Lidia Pavelenko, 72, who still remembers the fear of friends
being arrested in the night. ``The guilty men are all dead.''
Some Russian liberals, however, fear that a reluctance to analyze troubled
20th-century history has contributed to a failure to fully throw off an
oppressive past. Alexander Yakovlev, once the leading liberal in Mikhail
Gorbachev's Soviet politburo who now chairs the rehabilitation committee,
said Russians are still cowed by authority.
In an article marking the 60th anniversary of the height of the Great Terror,
he urged Yeltsin to press on with reforms to offer ordinary people the
protection of the rule of law.
``Power has not changed. It has been eroded,'' Yakovlev wrote in the weekly
Obshchaya Gazeta. ``Instead of one dictator, we have a million, the great
pile of petty bosses, starting with traffic cops. ... The repressive
apparatus is preserved intact.''
Nowhere is the slowness of Russia's coming to terms with past oppression
clearer than in Medvezhyegorsk. Remnants of past barbarity are everywhere.
Under the streets, residents say, lie the bones of thousands who died during
its days as a prison camp. Yet there is little popular interest in revenge or
even erasing the most obvious reminders.
``People here are very passive. They forgive everything,'' said reporter
Yermolovich, sitting in her apartment on a road named after the founder of
the notorious Soviet secret police. ``Look, I live on Dzerzhinsky Street.
He's nothing but a murderer. But no one's about to take his name down.''
Financial Times (UK)
August 23, 1997
[for personal use only]
Russia: The Gulag Grand Tour
By Chrystia Freeland
It was, one prisoner would later remember, like a medieval painter's
evocation of the Last Judgment: 600 women, mostly young, all emaciated,
half-naked, bald, pouring with sweat and so jammed into the black hold
of a ship that "it was impossible to tell where one pair of buttocks
ended and another set of breasts began".
Just looking at this slithering mass of humanity was enough to drive a
person insane, the same prisoner recalled years afterwards.
But the tortuous journey was just the beginning of a trip to Stalin's
real-life version of hell, one of the gulag prison camps which served
the dual purpose of providing slave labour for grandiose industrial
projects and of terrorising Soviet society.
The women were being taken to construction site #503, in the remote
Siberian north, where most of them would die building a railway that was
never completed and never used.
I was making the same odyssey, in the more comfortable Matrosov, an
ageing yet elegant Russian riverboat which cruises Siberia's waterways
for the pleasure of tourists. I had come to the Matrosov via a tiny
advertisement in the Moscow press which promised "tours of the Gulag".
The idea of seeing the horrors of the Stalinist past through the eyes of
post-communist Russian tourists was irresistible and I was soon on a
flight to Siberia.
Arrival at Norilsk airport, north of the Arctic Circle, was an instant
lesson in Russian dissident writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn's assertion
that "the Gulag is everywhere, is all of us". From the western reader's
cosy perspective, Solzhenitsyn's phrase seems a weighty and wise slice
of philosophy. But in Russia, particularly in Siberia, it is the plain
In places like Norilsk, site of the world's largest nickel mine, you
don't need a guided tour to find the remnants of Stalinist labour camps.
"The zeks [Russian slang for prisoners] built this place; it is a city
of prison camps," explains Volodya, 36, a miner with the ghost-white
skin and rotting teeth of the Norilsk native.
Near the centre of downtown Norilsk, a shabby collection of crumbling,
concrete Soviet apartment blocks and a few midget trees fighting a
losing battle against the permafrost, barbed wire marks the edge of a
Stalin-era prison camp which now houses Boris Yeltsin's convicts.
The Norilsk mines were first hacked out of the frozen earth by gulag
slave labour. Even the roads are a legacy of the gulags: Potapov, a
talented engineer sent to the gulags, devised a wind-tunnel which made
it possible to build roads in the wind-swept tundra. They are still
Potapov's name still haunts the Gulag, but there are also thousands of
living ghosts. They are people like Ivan, a gnarled creature as stunted
as the Norilsk trees, who works alongside Volodya. In the late 1930s,
Ivan was sent to the Arctic prisons for gleaning grain after the
harvest, an offence which Stalin's courts punished with 12 years of
imprisonment and a brutal post-script - an extra 15 years of exile in
Norilsk, after which Ivan was too old and too isolated to leave.
It is hard to imagine anything worse than being condemned to a life
sentence in Norilsk. It is one of the nat-ural world's cruellest
environments: the mosquito-infested summer lasts for just 20 days, a
brief recess in a year dominated by the "polar night" when there is no
respite from the darkness and -50°C temperatures.
So-called civilisation has added to nature's brutality. Norilsk is one
of Russia's 10 most polluted cities - a remarkable achievement in a
country pock-marked with nuclear and chemical disasters, and one borne
out by the pools of blood-red sludge which collect in the city's
ditches. We are thousands of miles from any other human habitation but
Stalinist central planners so ingeniously encircled Norilsk with
factories and mines that spending a few hours in the city feels like
breathing broken glass.
Yet, as Volodya tells me, the gulag inmates are not the only prisoners
of this harsh world. As well as slave labour, settlements like Norilsk
were populated by the refugees of Stalin's devastating collectivisation
drive - simple peasants like Volodya's parents who left their village in
Kursk, in central Russia, lured by the promise of high wages.
In the Soviet era, they could hope to use a lifetime of savings earned
in the far north to finance retirement in the gentler climes of "the
earth", the term the people of the Arctic use to describe those Russian
lands free from permafrost. But economic reforms wiped out savings and
pushed housing prices sky-high, leaving families trapped.
"To leave here, I need money - which I don't have. We are prisoners
without the barbed wire," Volodya says.
We drive back through downtown Norilsk where, in celebration of
Metallurgist day, a Soviet-era holiday which Norilsk has used as an
excuse for a drinking binge, loudspeakers are blaring out an old pop
song: "Russians, Russians, our fate is turbulent. But why, oh why, do we
need tragedy to make us strong," a syrupy voice croons. The inebriated
burghers of Norilsk seem indifferent to the tune, but the cheap ditty is
still in my head as we arrive at Dudinka, the dilapidated port where I
am to join the riverboat tour visiting other, more remote, gulag sites.
After a night of cruising south on the Yenesei, one of the mighty
Siberian waterways that plough through the Russian north, we reach
Igarka, a desolate hamlet once the headquarters of construction site
#503, Stalin's railway to nowhere. Intended to connect European Russia
with the far north, the Siberian railway was Stalin's pet project.
Perhaps taking perverse pleasure from building this prison site near the
Siberian village where he had been sent to a far gentler tsarist exile,
the Soviet dictator was so infatuated with project #503 that he gave the
order to begin construction in 1949 before any engineering plans or
surveyors' maps had been drawn up. Known as "the railway of bones" by
its prisoner-builders, it claimed tens of thousands of lives. The
railroad was abandoned in 1953, as soon as Stalin died.
Even from the doorway, it is clear that Igarka's gulag museum and its
local visitors are a grim lot. In place of the usual injunctions against
taking photographs or slurping soft-drinks, a hand-written sign in the
foyer warns: "It is forbidden to visit the museum in a drunken state."
But as Natalya Grezina, the museum's perky director, describes the
sombre exhibits, it becomes apparent why visitors might be inclined to
turn to drink.
She discusses the "mothers' zone", where children up to three-years-old
were kept in separate prisons next to their labouring mothers, who were
punished for not meeting work quotas by being denied monthly visits to
Another of Igarka's specialities was a Serf Theatre, an operetta troupe
composed of some of the finest singers, dancers, musicians and actors
from lands conquered by the Red Army. One inmate was a former artistic
director of St Petersburg's Marinsky Theatre, who hanged himself after a
performance when the contrast between the freedom of his creative life
and the imprisonment he returned to after the show became too much to
A few hours upstream, at Yermakova, we explore the derelict remains of
site #503. Once a prison settlement of several thousand, Yermakova today
has largely reverted to the wild taiga forest which greeted prisoners
when they were dropped off with axes and a few guards and told to build
The zeks' biggest summertime complaint was the mosquitoes, which one
former prisoner described as "a tortuous mob; there were more of those
beasts in the air than raindrops in a thunderstorm. When you waved your
hand in the air it would become bloody with dead mosquitoes."
Even though I am drenched in the most up-to-date western insect-
repellent, the modern-day mosquito swoops into my eyes, ears, nose and
throat. Jogging to keep ahead of the flying mob, we begin to trudge
through the dense undergrowth in search of the abandoned prison camp.
Soon we find the railway to nowhere, now just a few rusty railway ties
pointlessly moored in the Siberian forest. After a few miles, we reach
what is left of the camp perimeter - bits of barbed wire, a weathered
watch-tower, and a sign that warns "Forbidden Zone".
Inside, we find a few dilapidated warehouses and barracks which once
belonged to the gulag, strewn with the detritus of camp life - a rotting
shoe here, a bit of washbasin there. The only formal acknowledgment that
this is a spot steeped in human suffering is a weathered wooden cross on
the riverbank, erected by the Orthodox Church.
The lack of structured commemoration is disorienting; my fellow visitors
cannot quite figure out whether we are on some Siberian nature walk or
venturing into the darkest corners of their own history. A few girls
pick bouquets from the wonderful profusion of northern flowers. Others
strike sex-kittenish poses for their camera-toting boyfriends. One young
man decides it would be a good idea to inscribe "Zhena was here" on the
wall of a collapsing prison barrack.
Yet, as we explore the decaying camp, the mood becomes more sombre.
"This is not a place for smiles," a suddenly serious young woman from
the coal-mining city of Kemerovo snaps when her friends ask her to grin
for the camera.
Later that evening, as we gather in the bar to wash away the ship's
stodgy, Soviet-style cuisine, I try to understand my perplexing
shipmates who have chosen to visit Stalin's prison camps, but seem
curiously unmoved. Theirs is the national ambivalence of a country which
has boldly rejected its communist past, but still consents to be ruled
by the former communist nomenklatura.
As I persevere with my unpopular questions - foreigners are still exotic
in this corner of Russia and my new acquaintances would prefer to
interrogate me about consumer paradise in the west - I make a discovery.
Almost every one of my shipmates has a grand-parent, or parent, or
uncle, or cousin who was repressed by the Soviet regime.
The tales of personal tragedy are revealed, but no one can agree on what
they mean. Alexei, whose family was forever excluded from the communist
good life by his grandfather's "sin" of being captured by the Germans,
thinks the gulags hold a lesson for the Kremlin: "All the former
Communists in our government should be forced to come on this tour."
"We know our entire country was one big gulag and many of the same
people are still in charge," says Oleg, a doctor from the local capital,
Krasnoyarsk. "But what can we do? It's hard enough just to survive."
Russia's hardcore democrats, the dissidents and human-rights activists
whose courage tore the Soviet Union apart, but who have now been
relegated to the fringes of public life, believe this sense of impotence
and apathy is a symptom of the country's lack of civil society. They
warn that until Russia fully remembers its past, it risks repetition.
My drinking companions take a more optimistic view. "But look, at least
we are talking about it, and with a foreigner at that," Oleg says. "Ten
years ago we wouldn't have dreamed of such democracy." It is 2am, the
Arctic sun is bright, and between shots of vodka my new friends launch
into the patriotic songs of communist youth camps.
Catching my uncomprehending gaze, Oleg flashes a smile and explains:
"See Chrystia, after a day at the gulags, we can still carry on like
this. You can never conquer such a people."
Memorial, a Russian group dedicated to the victims of the Gulag, can be
contacted on fax 7-095-973-2094.
Very few of Europe's top Communists serve time
LONDON, Aug 25 (Reuter) - East Germany's last hardline communist leader,
Egon Krenz, was jailed for six -and-a-half years on Monday for the deaths of
citizens who tried to flee to the West. The following is a guide to the fate
of Europe's other communist leaders since the collapse of the Iron Curtain.
RUSSIA - The only prominent Russian ex-communists sent to prison were a group
of hardline pro-Communists who led a coup against Soviet President Mikhail
Gorbachev in August 1991. The putsch opened the way for the collapse of the
Soviet Union four months later. The plotters spent 18 months behind bars, but
were amnestied by a sympathetic parliament in 1994.
EAST GERMANY - Egon Krenz's Stalinist predecessor, Erich Honecker, who
ordered the building of the Berlin wall in 1961, briefly went on trial, but
the case was dismissed in 1993 because of ill health. He died in exile in
The former head of East Germany's notorious state security (Stasi), Erich
Mielke, was released in 1995 having served two-thirds of a six-year sentence
imposed in October 1993 for killing two policemen in 1931.
Mielke was also charged with manslaughter for the killing of refugees as they
tried to escape, but he was considered too old and ill to stand trial.
In May, a German court handed East German spymaster Markus Wolf a two-year
suspended sentence for kidnapping, coercion and bodily harm for supervising
Cold War snatches.
Former East German defence minister Heinz Kessler and his ex-deputy Fritz
Streletz were jailed last year for 7 1/2 years and 5 1/2 years respectively
for the killing of East Germans trying to flee the country.
THE CZECH REPUBLIC - The most serious cases concern three former politburo
members accused of treason for their part in the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of
They are Milos Jakes, Communist Party chief overthrown during the 1989
``Velvet Revolution,'' one-time prime minister Jozef Lenart and Karel
Hoffmann, a former central committee member.
Only one top Communist, Prague party boss Miroslav Stepan, has been jailed
since 1989. He was sentenced to four years for ``abuse of power'' but paroled
ROMANIA - Dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was summarily tried by a military court
and executed by firing squad with his wife, Elena, over controversial
``genocide'' charges, during Romania's violent 1989 anti-communist
Post-communist authorities abolished the death penalty and brought to trial
87 top Communists and senior secret policemen on charges linked to the
repression of the 1989 uprising in which more than 1,000 people were killed.
All 87 were freed on health grounds, paroled or pardoned by former President
Ion Iliescu, an ex-communist.
HUNGARY - Hungary had the most liberal of all the communist regimes. After a
decade of harsh repression in the wake of the 1956 anti-Stalinist uprising,
dissidents in the 1970s and 80s feared the sack and police harassment at most
rather than death or imprisonment in labour camps.
Consequently there was less demand for trials of former communists than a
desire to set the record straight.
Hungary's legislation -- the so-called III/III law passed in 1994 and named
after the secret police branch that employed spies -- deals with former
secret police collaborators and paramilitary units that helped mop up the
1956 uprising after it was crushed by Soviet tanks.
BULGARIA - A one-time associate of late Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and
Romania's Nicolae Ceausescu, Todor Zhivkov, 86, is one of Eastern Europe's
last surviving communist leaders. Zhivkov was convicted in 1992 of embezzling
21.5 million levs (then about $24 million) of public funds, spent on luxury
apartments and Western cars for his family and aides.
The Supreme Court overturned the sentence in January, but he remains under
house arrest on separate charges for his assimilation policy against ethnic
Turks in the 1980s.
Bulgaria's last communist intelligence chief, General Vladimir Todorov, was
charged with destroying secret files of murdered dissident Georgi Markov.
Todorov was imprisoned and released 10 months later in February 1993.
POLAND - No former senior Communist official has ended up behind bars. A
trial of former military strongman General Wojciech Jaruzelski for the
shootings of protesters by security forces in 1970 has been indefinitely
postponed due to the 74-year-old's poor health. Several other senior
officials charged along with Jaruzelski are also ill but seven still face a
trial that has been repeatedly delayed.
In 1970 troops and police shot dead at least 44 people protesting in Polish
coastal cities against food price rises. Nearly 200 people were seriously
ALBANIA - Under the rule of the anti-communist Democratic Party, Albania
jailed the last communist president, Ramiz Alia, and the wife of former
dictator Enver Hoxha, Nexhmije, but released them after about four years in
prison. Last year Alia was arrested again and charged with crimes against
The 72-year-old was among 1,309 inmates who escaped from Albania's jails
during an armed uprising last March. He is still on the run.
Three senior ex-communists were sentenced to death last year, charged with
crimes against humanity for ordering the deportation of anti-communist
dissidents. An appeals court revoked the sentences and imposed jail sentences
The Times (UK)
26 August 1997
[for personal use only]
Moscow's critics still face 'jail' in mental hospital
BY RICHARD BEESTON
A DECADE after the Soviet Union ended its notorious practice of
imprisoning dissidents in psychiatric hospitals, there is disturbing
evidence in Russia that the authorities are once again using mental
institutions to crack down on opponents.
Despite the many freedoms Russians enjoy today compared with the Soviet
era, psychiatrists and human rights advocates have said that some of the
old abuses common under Communist rule appear to be making a comeback.
For instance, a recent case detailed by the daily Izvestia disclosed how
the authorities in the town of Kaluga, southwest of Moscow, arrested and
imprisoned a local official who threatened to expose corruption. Tatyana
Fedyashina, an inspector in the city's finance department who discovered
a slush fund for senior officials, was arrested on February 6 by police
officers and taken to the local psychiatric hospital where she was
detained and sedated.
Although she was subsequently released, she was ordered to report to the
hospital for regular treatment or face rearrest. Her allegations of
corruption have been shelved and she is desperately trying to prove her
sanity and save her job.
Zhores Medvedev, a former dissident who was himself incarcerated at
Kaluga's psychiatric hospital in 1970, said that the account was typical
of a type of abuse that continued in Russia.
Although the Soviet Union transferred special mental hospitals from
police control to that of the Health Ministry and Russia passed a new
law on mental health in 1993, many of the old traditions are still
"In fact, the abuses never really stopped because the law on mental
health is very vague and local authorities still have the power to
commit whoever they like to the mental hospital," Mr Medvedev said. "In
cases like this you do not need to keep your victim locked up for ever,
just enough time to smear his character."
With the entire health service under desperate financial strain and
dependent on local authorities for funding, it is difficult for doctors
to challenge the power of the local administration.
Mr Medvedev, who now lives in London, said that the system was also open
to abuse by criminals, who could bribe local authorities to register
them as patients of a psychiatric hospital and thereby avoid trial in a
criminal court. Yuri Savenko, the head of the Association of Independent
Psychiatrists, said that the threat of abuse was increasing because of
attempts by various powerful bodies to use psychiatry for non-medical
In particular, he cited proposals by a number of varied organisations to
introduce psychiatric testing.
For instance, he said that the southern Russian administration of
Krasnodar wanted mental checks on all future candidates for the job of
governor, and that the Russian Orthodox Church wanted similar screening
for the leaders of all foreign religions wanting to register in Russia.
On the surface, the move may seem a sensible precaution to protect the
public, particularly given the recent success of messianic and doomsday
cults in the former Soviet Union.
However, Mr Savenko said that the system was open to massive abuse.
"If these procedures go ahead," he said, "you are essentially allowing
the political authorities to say who can run in elections and the
religious authorities to determine what faiths are allowed to be
He added: "In effect, anybody that they do not like can be dismissed as
WE OFFER A BUDGET WHICH GUARANTEES ECONOMIC GROWTH, CHUBAIS SAYS
MOSCOW, AUGUST 25 /FROM RIA NOVOSTI CORRESPONDENT REGINA
LUKASHINA/ -- "For the first time ever, we are responsibly
offering this country a budget which if adopted and executed
will guarantee Russia the beginning of a palpable, visible and
doubtless economic growth as soon as in 1998, for which there
are all pre-requisites from the professional and political
points of view," first vice premier Anatoly Chubais told the
According to Chubais, the draft budget signed by premier
Viktor Chernomyrdin today has been drawn up in a way that it
precludes the repetition of the sequestering story in principle,
If the budget is executed, economic growth in Russia will be at
least 2 per cent, and this is the minimum rate, he emphasised.
Inflation target has been set at under 5 per cent a year. We
hope that the actual inflation will be much lower than even this
number," he said.
He also said that the 1998 draft budget was drawn up in a
way which makes it possible to waive part of the IMF facilities.
This is due to the fact that we do not need borrowing: the scale
of the Russian economy, its authority on the international
financial markets are such that we simply do not need some of
the money the IMF proposed to provide to Russia next year.
The first vice premier described the reform of the armed
forces and increased defence spending as extremely important
priorities of the 1998 budget. In addition, one of the main
priorities is to ensure that health expenditures grow by 25 per
cent in connection with reform of that sphere. Spending on the
cultural sphere will increase by 15 per cent. Anatoly Chubais
particularly emphasised that a tough budget is not an end in
itself for the government. It is rather predicated on the
attainment of the main task of achieving economic growth.
Crimeans Protest U.S. Presence
August 25, 1997
By STEVE GUTTERMAN
Associated Press Writer
YEVPATORIYA, Ukraine (AP) - Standing beneath a monument to
Soviet soldiers, 2,000 protesters on Monday denounced Ukraine's
warming ties to NATO and the military exercises that have brought
U.S. ships and troops to the mostly ethnic Russian peninsula of
The protesters - ranging from young Russian nationalists to
medal-pinned war veterans - carried red Soviet flags and banners
bearing anti-NATO and anti-American slogans.
``NATO boots off Crimea,'' one of the makeshift banners read.
Another said: ``Don't threaten us with NATO. We want union with our
The protest started at a monument to Soviet soldiers who died
trying to free Crimea from Nazi troops in World War II. Protesters
then marched six miles to the beach resort of Yevpatoriya and
rallied in the central square.
The protest was directed against Sea Breeze '97, a peacekeeping
exercise led by Ukraine and the United States that began Sunday at
a naval base on the Crimean coast north of Yevpatoriya.
Sea Breeze has hit a raw nerve among many Russians on Crimea who
believe the Black Sea peninsula should belong to Russia.
Russia conquered Crimea under Catherine the Great in the 18th
century, but Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev gave it to the Soviet
Ukraine in 1954 and it became part of independent Ukraine in 1991.
Ethnic Russians on Crimea who want a return to Kremlin rule have
joined Moscow in opposing NATO's eastward expansion and see Sea
Breeze as a symbol of Western aggression against Russia.
Ukraine signed a special partnership charter with NATO last
month, and under President Leonid Kuchma it has participated
actively in military drills with U.S. and other NATO forces.
Speaking at the rally after a band played the Soviet anthem,
Ukrainian Communist Party leader Petro Simonenko said NATO is
trying to split Russia and Ukraine and ``turn Ukraine into a NATO
bastion against the east.''
Leonid Grach, the Crimean Communist Party leader who organized
the protest, was cheered when he called for a nationwide referendum
on foreign policy and urged that voters be given the right to
choose Ukraine's allies.
Russia's Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov sent a letter
of greeting that was read at the rally. In Moscow, an anti-NATO
group in parliament's lower house criticized the exercises.
Protesters denounced Sea Breeze as a practice run for a future
NATO assault on Crimea.
``Where there are fighting men, they come to fight - not to
help,'' said Kliment Adas, a 73-year-old veteran. ``They came here
because they know Crimea is a sore spot between Russia and
To appease Moscow and people like Adas, Ukraine moved the active
part of Sea Breeze off Crimea and scrapped plans for an amphibious
landing on the beach. Now, Sea Breeze will simulate relief efforts
following an earthquake.
But Russia refused to participate. The Russian navy said Monday
the exercises were unjustified and ``would not help build
25 August 1997
[for personal use only]
The assassins of change in Russia
The great intensity with which Anatoly Chubais warned the murderers of
Mikhail Manevich that they would be found and punished marks a seminal
moment in Russia's search for economic growth and stability. His
commitment was more than personal, though the two economic reformers
were close friends. It was a statement around which Russians might rally
in opposition to the chaos crime has generated in Russia's economy.
Chubais's tribute to Manevich during a funeral service in St.
Petersburg, where Manevich headed the city's privatization program,
recognized the central fact facing Russians as they develop a market
economy: ''We're not leaving them a choice. It's us or them. There's no
middle way.'' Opponents of the privatization of former Soviet operations
extend far beyond the snipers who murdered Manevich Aug. 18 and wounded
his wife, but the murder reflected the depth of entrenched opposition to
It is opposition that mires much of post-Soviet economic activity in a
lingering bureaucracy at both the local and national scale. It inhibits
the creation of standard commercial institutions like patent protection
and contract law and a functioning banking system.
While Chubais, Boris Yeltsin's first deputy prime minister, phrased the
struggle in us-or-them terms, the boundaries are more blurred than that.
Violence in Russia today is not limited to opposition to economic
change. Violence has unfortunately become the weapon of some who think
it belongs in the tool kit of the entrepreneurial age now dawning.
Gangsters routinely demand payments for ''protection'' against
gangsters, a circular system of horror against which increasing numbers
of enterprises are creating private police to outmuscle the predators.
Manevich was shot in no small part because he recognized the importance
of breaking out of the crime-riddled morass into which Russian
enterprise threatens to fall, an anarchy in which no one in the long run
can expect to flourish. Real economic growth depends not only on
enterprise but on minimum levels of stability and dependability very
much in doubt in today's Russia. Small wonder Chubais has grasped the
St. Petersburg Times
AUGUST 25-31, 1997
Fear Stalks Russia's Elite After Manevich's Shocking Murder
THE PROCESS of divvying up Russia's property has been accompanied by
more than its share of contract murder. But the killing of Vice Governor
Mikhail Manevich on Monday was truly unique and awful.
Manevich's was the first political assassination in St. Petersburg since
Stalin murdered Leningrad party boss Sergei Kirov in the 1930s. Kirov's
murder kicked off a wave of Stalinist terror that claimed thousands of
elite party members. Manevich's murder is similar in that it also
immediately struck fear in the hearts of Russia's ruling elite.
When Vice Governor Dmitry Sergeyev - a colleague, albeit a politically
hostile one, of Manevich's - heard the news, he fell into staring off
into space, his press secretary said. "If they're starting to kill vice
governors, that's bad," the press secretary noted.
Already this summer Kremlin-watchers have been gripped by the sight of
top financiers and politicians using their television stations and
newspapers to attack each other viciously over the sales of such choice
state properties as Svyazinvest or Norilsk Nickel. Many of the players
involved have hinted darkly that the fall of 1997 will be another "hot"
Will it be so hot that the financiers and organized criminals who play
such a large role in Russian political life will start having each other
After all, it's not like there's no precedent for thuggish violence
among Russia's top-ranking politicians: LogoVAZ's Boris Berezovsky was
nearly killed when his car blew up in 1994; former deputy finance
minister Andrei Vavilov, who now heads a bank closely associated with
Uneximbank, had his car blown up in downtown Moscow earlier this year;
the Central Bank chairman's apartment has been fired on twice in two
years. To hear President Boris Yeltsin's former bodyguard Alexander
Korzhakov tell it, meanwhile, Berezovsky talked of putting out hits on
everyone from Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov to Frank Sinatra-like crooner
Iosif Kobson. (Of course no one has yet topped Yeltsin, that big
show-off, and his shelling of his political opponents in the White House
with tank fire. But Yeltsin is a hard act to follow.)
Manevich, 36, was one of the longest-serving politicians in this city.
He was one of the only top officials to serve under both former mayor
Anatoly Sobchak and Governor Vladimir Yakovlev. He was widely considered
an honest man - "the only honest man at KUGI [the State Property
Committee]," as one local politician put it Monday. He may have been
killed for trying to cut organized crime out of the public trough. If
so, then Russia has lost one of the good guys - at a time when hardly
any are left.
Berezovskiy's Hold on State Post Questioned
August 20, 1997
[translation for personal use only]
Article by Nikolay Yefimovich: "Will Boris Berezovskiy Be
Forced To Resign? Yes, He Will, Only Provided That Nemtsov Does Not
'Quit the Scene' Like Kokh"
Backstage struggle still remains the main principle in the life of
It might seem that the president has put an end to the scandal that
flared up after the results of auctioning Svyazinvest shares were announced
when he stated that he was satisfied with the results of the "deal of the
century." However, the short lull that followed turned out to be illusory.
Some of the financial-industrial magnates, who lost out in the auction,
have, in the end, refused to reconcile themselves to their defeat, and the
government was "snubbed" anyway. Vice Premier Alfred Kokh, head of the
State Committee for the Management of State Property, who was one of the
main organizers of the auction, resigned. Besides, it became known
precisely on the day of Premier Chernomyrdin's meeting with the president.
Moreover, while receiving Ivan Rybkin with his report on Chechen affairs,
Boris Yeltsin suddenly switched to the theme of Kokh. Literally just
before that, both the president himself and Anatoliy Chubays had
enthusiastically thanked the country's main privatizer -- who had left the
government -- for his valiant labor. This time, however, gratitude was
nowhere in sight. "We should not treat some banks as more our own than
others. No way. The whole scandal involving Svyazinvest and Norilsk
Nickel is due to the fact that certain banks, apparently, are more to the
liking of that same Alfred Kokh," the president said.
It is not accidental that Boris Yeltsin made this statement after his
meeting with Viktor Chernomyrdin.
Whereas Vladimir Gusinskiy seems to have reconciled himself to his
defeat and publicly admitted in his "radio address" that the Svyazinvest
auctioning procedure was fair, Boris Berezovskiy is not going to leave the
battlefield just yet. The first target was already a success -- Kokh
resigned. Even though the head of the State Committee for the Management
of State Property had written out his resignation before the results of the
latest high-profile auctions were summed up. He was sick and tired of all
those attacks and, as he himself stated, "I want to live a normal life"....
Boris Nemtsov is the next target for a "kill." In spring of this
year, even before Tatyana Dyachenko [Yeltsin's daughter] arrived in Nizhniy
Novgorod to talk Nemtsov into taking up the job in Moscow, Boris
Berezovskiy had also paid a visit to the Nizhniy Novgorod governor for the
same purpose. It is not clear on whose bidding. One thing makes one
wonder: Such a calculating gambler, while being aware of the
"provincial's" intractability, failed to divine the main point -- namely,
that Nemtsov would not uphold the interests of specific
financial-industrial magnates. A confrontation is inevitable.
Boris Berezovskiy, of course, attributed his first major defeat in the
dividing up of former state property primarily to Nemtsov, who stated on
behalf of the Government that it was time to do away with robber capitalism
in the country and that one should not combine business with the management
of the state, the way that same Berezovskiy does. No wonder that the mass
media, controlled by the Security Council deputy secretary [Berezovskiy],
unleashed all of its dogs against the former Nizhniy Novgorod governor
[Nemtsov]. It is no secret for anyone that Nemtsov is now Yeltsin's obvious
favorite. However, Berezovskiy, too, is an influential figure in the
presidential retinue. When, as they say, Chubays -- who is increasingly
inclined to believe that the Security Council deputy secretary's
resignation is necessary -- proposed that Berezovskiy resign of his own
free will, the latter recommended that the first vice premier himself beat
it. An opinion prevails in the political lobbies that it is only owing to
Viktor Chernomyrdin that Berezovskiy has managed to stay at the Security
Council to this day. The magnate, however, has let Chernomyrdin down more
than once. Let us recall how the premier stated that it was necessary to
check the results of Svyazinvest auctioning even after the president had
approved everything and how the premier ordered the postponement of the
Norilsk Nickel auction, despite the fact that it had been organized by a
private structure and it was clear that it would go ahead....
Nevertheless, the premier still backs Berezovskiy. And he cannot bring
himself to ask Berezovskiy one simple question: If everything in holding
the latest privatization auctions is that unlawful, then would not it be
better to take the case to court?
As a source in the Kremlin believes, Berezovskiy managed to bring home
to Chernomyrdin the thought that only his and Gusinskiy's support would
provide a political prospect for the premier to become president in the
year 2000. According to the Kremlin source, Security Council Secretary
Ivan Rybkin hardly makes any independent decisions, but only serves as a
"mouthpiece" for the most scandal- proof Russian businessman who combines
his commercial activities with those of [his role as] Rybkin's deputy.
As Aleksandr Korzhakov, former chief of presidential protection,
writes in his controversial memories, Berezovskiy was introduced into
Yeltsin's retinue by Valentin Yumashev, who is currently head of the
Presidential Staff. He now finds it embarrassing to quarrel with his
"protege." This is the alignment of forces at the presidential court.
Ivan Rybkin confirmed a few days ago that no cadre changes are envisioned
in its structure. Berezovskiy himself said at yesterday's [19 August] news
conference that the president alone could dismiss him. It is not, so far,
clear what decision Boris Yeltsin will finally adopt. One point can be
made: The Security Council deputy secretary has become such a detestable
figure that it is not even a matter of conflict with the young reformers
but rather a matter of reputation of the Russian president himself. After
all, today one cannot think of a more graphic example of power joining
forces with business and financial- industrial groupings, which, taking
advantage of their position in the Kremlin's upper circles, primarily
foster their own affairs.