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13 October 1997
[Note from David Johnson:
1. G.F. Bain: Association of Former Intelligence Officers
2. St. Petersburg Times: Leonid Bershidsky, Media Watch.
Attack on Parliament Fades From Memories.
3. AP: Russian Arms Exports Gain Strength.
4. AP: Facts About Russian Arms Sales.
5. Los Angeles Times: Vanora Bennett, From Russia--With a
Bit Too Much Love. Although Soviet inhibitions are absent,
the nation's first televised chat show about sex manages to
mainly arouse embarrassment.
6. Reuter: "Indiana Jones" collector saved Soviet art.
7. St. Petersburg Times: Martina Vandenberg, 'Invisible'
Women Shown In Russia's Demographics.
8. Kyodo: Russia offers China real-time spy satellite info.
9. Newsday: Susan Sachs, Russian Church's New Power.
Retaking Soviet-seized land, over current tenants' protest.
10. Chicago Tribune: IN RUSSIA, SEWERS REFUSE COFFINS.
11. Reuter: Russia says no date fixed to join landmines ban.
12. Delovoy Mir: Russia Seen as Winner, U.S. as Loser in Iran
13. Itar-Tass: NATO Conducts Surveillance Operations Against
Date: Sun, 12 Oct 1997 20:15:10 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: AFIO Conference in Washington area
The Association of Former Intelligence Officers will hold their 1997
Conference on October 16,17,18th. The lead paper on Friday will be "Did the
Intelligence Community Call the Collapse of the Soviet Union" by Noel Firth,
whose new book about the military expenditures of SU will be published early
in 1998. Noel Firth, who is well known in the community, has had a
distinguished career in the agency as an analyst. Interested persons may call
Gretchen at 703-790-0320 for the location and any costs (perhaps the press is
free, perhaps they will have to pay - it's a secret). I am told that all
attendees will be disguised but will hear the straight poop on this
controversial subject. Many others of great importance and esteem will also
speak. I called the Russian Embassy to tell them about the paper but they
said that they already had one!
St. Petersburg Times
OCTOBER 13, 1997
Attack on Parliament Fades From Memories
By Leonid Bershidsky
ON Oct. 4, exactly four years after President Boris Yeltsin's tanks shot
up the Russian White House, a friend of mine invited me and my wife to
take a walk with him near the former parliament building.
I had been in the United States when Yeltsin sent in the tanks, so I did
not get shot at. Instead, I started calling friends in Moscow to find
out what was really going on. CNN footage was scary but inconclusive. I
ran up a phone bill that was too big for me to pay on my scholarship. I
felt like an idiot missing the action.
The friend who wanted to relive the 1993 events Saturday is also a
journalist. He was there when things got hairy and people started
getting killed. "This was where I made my famous run for the White
House," he told my wife and me as we took our walk. "I offered a soldier
in the cordon 5,000 rubles to look the other way." Civil war, Moscow
Now, on the fourth anniversary of the events, we were walking past sad
little groups of people burning bonfires and weeping over photographs of
the victims. "Take, for instance, the world 'internationalism,'" I heard
a man tell a group of listeners. "You know 'inter' means 'destroy' in
"Oh, these wackos," my wife said. "Let's go home." She had been
practicing her violin while the White House was being shelled.
Moscow newspapers had that same attitude on the anniversary of the
October events. Izvestia, Nezavisimaya Gazeta and Segodnya had little to
say about October 1993. After the war in Chechnya, who cares about
Yeltsin running a small civil war in downtown Moscow four years ago?
Only the new daily Russky Telegraf ran a front-page piece dedicated to
the anniversary. Columnist Maxim Sokolov argued that during October
1993, Yeltsin merely did what Russian prime minister Alexander Kerensky
had failed to do in November 1917 - namely, speak to the Communists in
the only language they understand, that of violence. Kerensky wavered,
"and the country has been coughing blood for 80 years since. Yeltsin
chose a different option," Sokolov wrote.
Reuters titled its anniversary piece "Russian Protesters Mark Failed
Anti-Yeltsin Revolt." David Johnson, who runs an authoritative Russia
mailing list on the Internet, commented, "For those who have really paid
attention, what happened in September-October 1993 in Moscow was not a
"revolt" but a defense of the status quo, the existing constitutional
order, in the face of an illegal coup. But the spin doctors have
succeeded in shaping an inaccurate version of history."
There is a sad element of finality in that comment. When I am old, I
will still remember my phone bill. Kirill will recall his "famous run to
the White House." My wife will still play her violin. And history books
will follow the Reuters headline.
Russian Arms Exports Gain Strength
October 12, 1997
By MAURA REYNOLDS
MOSCOW (AP) - Most spectators at Moscow's International Air Show
raptly watched Sukhoi and MiG jet fighters streak across the sky,
but Russian arms makers trained their sights on the ground.
A MiG salesman homed in on a group of lavishly uniformed
military officers from African, Arab and Asian nations. The jet
carries a big bomb for a small price, he told them. And it comes
packed with standard options that include anti-tank and air-to-air
Such sales pitches are increasingly persuasive. After falling to
pieces along with the Berlin Wall, Russia's arms industry has
rebuilt itself into one of the world's top exporters of high-tech
Since hitting rock bottom in 1992, Russian arms sales have
doubled or tripled, depending on who is doing the counting.
And unlike communist times, when Soviet bloc satellites had
little choice about whose arms to buy, the Russians are
increasingly competitive on the open market. Sukhoi and MiG jets,
for instance, perform on a par with their American-made rivals but
can sell at a quarter of the price.
To be sure, the Russians are a long way from regaining their
position as the world's largest arms dealer. Their sales amount to
only about a third of the current leader, the United States, and
they have to battle a reputation for poor service and shoddy
But Russia's foothold in the export market is growing firmer,
and Russian arms makers more savvy and aggressive at marketing
Several factors are spurring the Russian push.
One is the cash-hungry Kremlin. In an economy that has
contracted for six years, arms exports are a rare moneymaker,
adding $3.5 billion to federal coffers last year, according to the
Another is the cash-hungry Russian defense industry. The
underfinanced military has all but stopped placing orders for new
weapons, so for many Russian arms makers, foreign buyers are the
``They have to export or die,'' says Peter Felstead, editor of
the London-based Jane's Intelligence Review.
What has many analysts worried, however, is not so much the
quantity of exports but that the Russians appear ready to sell
nearly anything to nearly anybody.
``They're so desperate for money that they can't see beyond the
sale,'' says Felstead, whose publication is a global authority on
weapons and defense issues.
Of course, all arms makers - including those in the United
States - are increasingly dependent on sales to developing nations,
which buy about two-thirds of the weapons on the international
But what irks Western analysts is that in several regions, like
Asia and the Middle East, Russia has sold weapons to countries on
both sides of potential conflicts. And they are wooing new
customers in volatile parts of Latin America and Southeast Asia.
Russian officials insist they keep a tight lid on nuclear
technology and materials that could be used to make atomic bombs.
And they maintain that they observe all U.N. arms embargoes and
other international agreements.
All the same, the Russians have entered some markets where
others have begged off. A case in point is Indonesia's planned
purchase of 12 Sukhoi warplanes.
Originally Indonesia wanted to buy U.S. F-16s. But they canceled
the deal in anger after American lawmakers complained about human
rights abuses in East Timor, a former Portuguese colony annexed by
Indonesia in 1976.
Worries about human rights don't register in Russia, where money
woes vex politicians and pensioners alike.
``We will have to move beyond bread and butter issues before we
can have some compassion for the East Timorese,'' says Pavel
Felgenhauer, a military analyst for the respected newspaper
In some cases, Russia's arms sales even seem to violate their
own national security. For instance, their top customer is China, a
past and potential rival with whom they share a long border.
``Russian sales are completely ungeared to any sort of foreign
policy,'' says Felstead at Jane's.
Russia has a few advantages in selling to developing countries.
For one thing, its no-nonsense military equipment is generally
cheaper to maintain than fancier Western models.
Moreover, Russians are willing to accept payment in commodities.
Indonesia is expected to pay for its new Sukhois with $500 million
worth of palm oil, coffee, toys, cement and other goods.
For Russia to grow choosier about its customers, its economy
will have to rebound, analysts say. And no one knows when that will
In the meantime, Felgenhauer says wryly: ``The best thing for
the arms makers would be a war. That would be real business.''
Facts About Russian Arms Sales
October 12, 1997
Facts and figures about Russian arms sales:
CURRENT: About $4 billion in contracts expected for 1997.
HIGH POINT: About $20 billion, 1986.
LOW POINT: Less than $2 billion, 1992.
Kilo-class submarine - Diesel-powered patrol sub. Carries
sophisticated search and attack sonars; can stay at sea several
Su-27 fighter - Long-range jet capable of carrying up to 10
air-to-air missiles. Its derivative Su-30 can attack ground
MiG-29 fighter - Smaller, cheaper than Sukhoi; highly
T-72/T-80/T-90 tanks - Heavy battle tanks with good reputation
for reliability, maneuverability, heavy armament.
S-300 air defense missile - Potent ground-to-air missile
capable of shooting down aircraft and missile warheads. Russians
claim it is in many ways superior to U.S. counterpart, the Patriot,
which gained fame during Gulf War.
China - Began buying Russian weapons in 1994; now Russia's top
customer. Recent purchases include two Kilo subs, Su-27 fighters,
India - Long-time Soviet customer; remains one of Russia's most
loyal buyers. Recent purchases include Su-30 fighter-bombers, S-300
Los Angeles Times
October 10, 1997
[for personal use only]
>From Russia--With a Bit Too Much Love
Although Soviet inhibitions are absent, the nation's first televised chat
show about sex manages to mainly arouse embarrassment.
By VANORA BENNETT, Times Staff Writer
MOSCOW--Those who can, do; those who can't, in Russia, tune in just
after midnight on Saturdays to the country's first television chat show
An American viewer would have no trouble recognizing the format: The
spotlight is on a leather armchair, from which selected subjects reveal
their most intimate thoughts about sex to Yelena Khanga, the glitzy, blond
African-Russian-American presenter, as well as a panel of hip sexologists
and a studio audience of about 100 strangers.
But this isn't "Oprah."
The public wrestling with inner demons, and the emotional audience
reaction found in American equivalents, is nowhere to be seen in this
broadcast named, coyly, "About That." Its real-life revelations are couched
as furtive half-jokes; its embarrassed participants spend much of their time
on screen tittering nervously behind their hands.
It has been only 10 years since a respectable matron declared on a
transatlantic talk show: "There is no sex in the Soviet Union!"
So the very existence of a television program about sex reveals how far
modern Russians have left behind their old Soviet inhibitions.
But the content of "About That" also hints at some of the problems
accompanying Russia's subsequent sexual revolution.
Last Saturday, the subject for discussion was "sex across the
generations." Neatly bearded Vladimir, 65, who is bored with his 45-year-old
wife's body, prefers sex with 25-year-old women. He described how he lures
them into the bushes behind McDonald's by buying them Big Macs. "Oh yes," he
chortled happily. "They all like those American pies."
Enter the audience. Three men, all in their 60s, agreed that they too
like firm young female flesh, lingering over the reasons why. With much
smacking of lips, one described an affair with a minor. Two young women
eventually got to express an opinion--but it was the same opinion. Both
giggled and praised the idea of sex with older men.
There were no dissenting views and no arguments.
"If people do it, it's because of some special need," Sergei Agarkov of
the sexologists' association Culture and Health commented on screen. "I'm
not dealing with moral questions here."
Once-prim Russia, which began to loosen up in the 1980s, is now
permissive. Pornography is widely available, and strip clubs are rampant.
But while Soviet restrictions have gone, knowledge about sex remains
limited; no new code protecting people from today's sex-related risks has
According to sexologist Igor Kon, the number of males having their
first sexual experience at age 16 increased from 38% in 1993 to 58% in 1995;
parallel figures for women increased from 25% to 33%.
But teenagers tend to know little about the human reproductive system
or safe sex, counselors say.
Although theirs is the second most sexually active nation after the
United States, according to a recent survey by condom manufacturer London
International Group, Russians are hostile to the notion of using condoms.
Russians ranked 12th out of the 15 nationalities surveyed in how often
they use condoms. Syphilis infection rates today are 50 times higher among
teenagers than they were five years ago, and AIDS is becoming a significant
"These changes are not necessarily positive," said Kon of Russians'
sexuality. He appears on "About That" but remains skeptical about its
message, calling parts of it "just bad taste."
The show, which has run for about a month, has prompted strong
reactions. "We get a lot of calls," said Bulat Akunov, the show's producer.
Some expressed gratitude and encouragement. But many others were full of
"aggressive negation, open hatred and anger."
Although Akunov bills his show as "social provocation," aimed at
stimulating serious discussion that will help overcome Soviet-era sexual
taboos, the reaction of 50-year-old doctor Sasha Kazansky, watching the
program for the first time, was dismissive. "This isn't educational at all.
It won't help people make their minds up about anything," he said. "It's
"Indiana Jones" collector saved Soviet art
By Michael Roddy
BUDAPEST, Oct 12 (Reuters) - With his greying hair and walrus moustache,
Norton Dodge at 70 hardly looks like an ``Indiana Jones''-style collector who
saved Soviet dissident art from oblivion.
Yet that is what the retired economics professor from Maryland did as he
``spirited'' -- or smuggled -- thousands of ``non-conformist'' works of art
that could never be shown in the Soviet Union to the United States over two
Now significant works from the Dodge collection from the Zimmerli Museum at
Rutgers University in New Jersey, along with modern and dissident Russian
artists from the Tsaritsino Museum in Moscow, have been brought together for
the first time in a show which opened this month at Budapest's Mucsarnok
It is also the first time that Dodge's collection -- he had almost 9,000
pieces before he ceased travelling to the Soviet Union in 1977 -- is being
shown in a former East bloc country.
``It's a unique event because the Dodge collection is the biggest
non-conformist art collection outside the ex-Soviet Union and the Tsaritsino
collection is the biggest inside the former Soviet Union,'' said Mucsarnok
curator Katalin Timar.
The intrepid collector thinks the exhibition, partly funded by financier
George Soros's Open Society Institute, says something not just to former
communists but to the whole world.
``What this shows is that in a totalitarian society, no matter how harsh and
cruel it is, it's almost impossible to suppress human creativity and
expression,'' Dodge told Reuters in an interview on the eve of the
``You are always going to have a few brave people -- in this case
non-conformist artists -- who will defy the authorities and...like the little
boy in the fairy tale, will be the ones to say the emperor wears no
WORLD FAMOUS ARTISTS
The artists Dodge collected, among them Eric Bulatov, Vitali Komar, Aleksandr
Melamid and the late Evgenii Rukhin, who all became world famous, did not
whisper that the emperor was naked, they often shouted.
One of Bulatov's most famous paintings is a cityscape with a propaganda
poster of an energetic Lenin, stepping proudly, painted in the sky above a
file of workers, some with their heads bowed, walking along a dreary city
A red and white banner by Komar and Melamid in the first room of the
exhibition says in Russian: ``We Were Born to Make Our Dreams Come True!'' On
the adjoining wall in the next room, a companion banner has 15 spaces for
letters, all of them blanked as if censored, followed by an exclamation mark.
The Tsaritsino Museum has sent many pieces of conceptual art, including a
back-lit panel with the portrait of a face that changes from Stalin to Lenin
and back again as a light behind the panel switches on and off.
But Andrei Erofeev, the Tsaritsino's curator, said as he supervised the
installation that Dodge's collection is unique.
``The Dodge collection is the most important -- it has works by people like
Bulatov that are primordial.''
Dodge's own life resembled to some extent the life of the movie character
professor who dashes around the world retrieving priceless objects from Nazis
and other villains.
HOW HE GOT THEM OUT
Ostensibly visiting Russia for a long-term project to study the economic role
of women in Soviet society, Dodge took the opportunity to collect art the
Soviet authorities considered trash because it was abstract, risque or
Acting on tips from journalists, diplomats and cognoscenti, he tracked down
artists in flats or studios, in obscure, out of the way places, using a
flashlight to read signs and numbers.
He paid anything from a few hundred dollars up to $600 or $700 and then
arranged to get the paintings out of the country.
Sometimes he wrapped them up in his luggage, at other times he prevailed on a
diplomat to ship them in their household effects, and sometimes he used more
Even with the collapse of communism, Dodge is still a bit reticent on
``The smaller things I might manage to get out myself but then I had to get
other people -- maybe people like yourself -- to get things out,'' he told an
``And maybe you were CIA, maybe you were KGB,'' he said with a laugh.
Dodge spent by his own estimate millions of dollars -- money he said was
earned from investments -- on his collection.
He said he never felt he was in personal danger when he was with the artists,
but reality would set in before he flew home.
``The artists would talk about anything and everything and I would have sort
of a euphoric feeling that I was really getting to the Russian soul, the
heart of the true Russia,'' he said.
``But a few days before departing I would then become more and more nervous
and I was always reminded of Graham Greene's 'Our Man in Havana' where you
remember he's tearing up a message and flushing it down the toilet and
there's a guy in the basement catching the pieces in a sieve.''
Dodge has retired from teaching and -- mostly -- from collecting, but the
need for people to express themselves freely, remains as important as ever.
The Soviet artists ``are an inspiration for those of us who have witnessed
it, but also a warning that we must cherish and preserve and protect these
freedoms of expression that these totalitarian systems have tried to
suppress,'' he said.
``That's why we have a message for all countries, including our own, that the
invisible kinds of repression are as important as what gets into the
St. Petersburg Times
OCTOBER 13, 1997
'Invisible' Women Shown In Russia's Demographics
By Martina Vandenberg
Martina Vandenberg is a former coordinator for the NIS-U.S. Women's
DEMOGRAPHERS pronounced themselves shocked when evidence was released in
1993 indicating a decline in the life expectancy for men and women in
the Russian Federation. The collapse in the rate for men caused a
significant public stir. The statistics on women passed almost
unnoticed. In the words of a U.S. Census Bureau demographer, "attention
is often given to the increased mortality among adult men, [but]
mortality has also increased for women and infants." The demographics
point to another troubling phenomenon taking place in Russia.
Let us call it the syndrome of the invisible woman.
According to the Interior Ministry, only 12,515 cases of rape and
attempted rape were registered in 1995. In 1996, only 10,888 cases of
rape in the entire country were recorded. This figure represents a drop
of 13 percent. While the ministry immediately attributed the drop to its
crime-fighting prowess, the numbers are contradicted by the steady
stream of calls coming into rape crisis centers across the country.
In Moscow alone, crisis centers for women receive over 400 calls per
month. Counselors estimate that fewer than 5 percent of women report the
crimes to law enforcement. Even fewer women manage to convince police to
register their report. By way of comparison, 97,464 cases of rape and
attempted rape were reported to police in 1995 in the United States.
The Russian government does not collect specific statistics on domestic
violence. It is hidden in statistical line items such as "light bodily
injury" and "hooliganism." The Russian government recently suggested
that violence takes place in one out of four families in Russia.
But the absence of hard data guarantees the invisibility of the problem
as well as the invisibility of the women who suffer from violence. A
proposed domestic violence law has yet to have its first reading in the
Between 1993 and 1996, not a single sexual harassment case went to court
in the Russian Federation. Just as the Soviet Union had no sex, the
Russian Federation has no sexual harassment.
The Russian Federation also has almost no shelters. The only two
shelters for battered women in Russia are in St. Petersburg and
Langepas, Siberia. There is no shelter in Moscow. Together, the two
existing shelters have a capacity of 90. Russia has a population of
Invisibility similarly afflicts women in the political sphere.
Women's political representation has plummeted in Russia from a high of
33 percent during the Soviet period, to a mere 7.5 percent in both
houses of the parliament today. There is not a single woman mayor of a
major city. There is only one female governor. Only 1.4 percent of
federal ministers and deputy ministers are women.
The shrinking status of women is reflected too in women's salaries.
According to Anastasia Posadskaya, former director of the Moscow Center
for Gender Studies, women now earn only 43 percent of the salaries made
by men. The World Bank's more conservative estimate places women's
earnings at 71 percent of men's hourly wage.
But those numbers only reflect the situation for women who still have
jobs. Many do not.
Over 70 percent of the officially unemployed are female. And women are
banned from over 460 job categories considered by the Labor Ministry to
be dangerous for their reproductive health. Those jobs, incidentally,
are among the highest paying.
Women figure prominently in poverty statistics. According to the Russian
Longitudinal Monitoring Survey, 31 percent of the elderly lived below
the poverty line in 1995. Women make up 70 percent of pensioners. Over
90 percent of such families live below the poverty level. The
feminization of poverty in Russia continues.
Russian women are routinely trafficked to destinations around the world
to work in forced prostitution. Anita Gradin, the European Union's
commissioner for justice and immigration, estimates that two-thirds of
the 500,000 women trafficked for prostitution worldwide annually come
from Eastern Europe.
The situation has become so blatant that prostitutes in Turkey are now
commonly referred to as "Natashas." According to police sources, Russian
women are bought and sold by pimps in Israel for prices ranging from
$5,000 to $20,000.
In November, Marina Pisklakova, director of the No to Violence Against
Women Association, will be honored by Human Rights Watch Helsinki as a
human rights monitor. Her work to bring national and international
attention to violence against women in Russia has earned her the respect
of the international human rights community. It is time that the Russian
federal government begin to notice as well.
The Russian government has issued proclamations. President Boris Yeltsin
has published decrees. All the verbiage amounts to nothing in light of
the fact that no money has been allocated to make good on the promises.
As Moscow Center for Gender Studies activist Elena Kochkina notes, the
policy papers are "largely symbolic." Russian women's organizations have
organized conferences on domestic violence and trafficking to be held in
the next month. It is time that the Russian government end the
rhetorical flourishes and begin to take measures to stop these abuses.
Invisibility - and denial - are no longer an option.
Russia offers China real-time spy satellite info
TOKYO, Oct. 12 (Kyodo) - Russia has offered to sell real-time spy satellite
intelligence service to China as part of stepped-up military cooperation
between the two countries, a Japanese daily reported Sunday.
The Sankei Shimbun, quoting an unidentified U.S. military source in a
dispatch from Washington, said Beijing has shown strong interest in the
The source told the newspaper the Russians made the offer to Beijing during
the Moscow air show held in summer this year.
Russia, a key supplier of advanced fighter aircraft and other military
hardware to China, had previously sold intelligence gathered from Russian spy
satellites to Beijing but with a considerable time lag, the Sankei said.
This time, the Russians have reportedly offered Beijing classified military
intelligence from spy satellites on a real-time basis.
Moscow has given the Chinese military a special presentation on Russian spy
satellite capabilities that includes descriptions of how satellite
intelligence gathered in Russia could be transmitted to China on a real-time
basis, the paper said.
A real-time Russian spy satellite intelligence deal would enable the Chinese
to vastly increase their capability to monitor military movements not only in
the Sea of Japan but also areas surrounding the Taiwan Strait, a flash point
between the rival governments in Beijing and Taiwan, the Sankei said.
12 October 1997
[for personal use only]
Russian Church's New Power
Retaking Soviet-seized land, over current tenants' protest
By Susan Sachs. MOSCOW CORRESPONDENT
Moscow - When the students of Public School 36 arrived for classes this
month, they were met with armed guards, growling dogs, rubble in place
of their playground, and a church-made list of taboos that even their
teachers find onerous.
No sports, no games, no smoking, no cars, no pets, no picture-taking,
declared a sign placed over the entrance to the downtown Moscow school
compound, where a small band of Russian Orthodox nuns had set up
housekeeping in a cluster of decrepit buildings in the schoolyard.
"The nuns even closed off some of our old shortcuts," complained a
16-year-old student named Felix, who was furtively searching for a spot
to smoke a cigarette without the Mother Superior seeing him. "And it's
not fair that we have all these new rules."
Felix's public school has the misfortune to have been built on the ruins
of somebody else's past misfortune. It is one of thousands of properties
across the former Soviet Union now being repossessed, often with little
regard for the present tenants and rival sects, by the newly resurgent
Russian Orthodox Church.
Many of those properties are old churches converted in the officially
atheistic Soviet times to other uses, as museums, clubs, warehouses or
cultural centers. Other buildings sit on land claimed by the Church,
which had been Russia's second-biggest landowner, after the czars, in
the centuries before the 1917 revolution.
PS 36, for example, was built as a school in 1933. It stands inside the
compound of the 300-year-old Zachatevski, or Conception, nunnery, and on
the site of a cathedral that was blown up by the Communist authorities.
A handful of nuns returned to the compound three years ago. This year,
without telling school officials, the city of Moscow agreed to give the
entire compound back to the Church - including the school building,
which serves 430 students and 30 teachers.
"We agree that churches shouldn't be blown up but it's not our fault
that it happened," said the angry school principal, Galya Dermicheva,
who has frequent run-ins with the nuns' security guards because they
threaten her more rambunctious students with rubber truncheons and block
deliveries of books and school supplies.
"This school cost billions [of rubles]. The heating system works. There
are parquet floors. It could last another thirty years," she added. "As
a taxpayer, I think it's a terrible waste of resources to spend billions
more to build another school and give this one away so it, too, can be
In the six years since the collapse of communism, the Russian Orthodox
Church has worked to shake off the effects of 70 years of anti-religious
propaganda and its image as a longtime collaborator with the Soviet
The patriarch, Alexei II, has presented the Church as the embodiment of
true Russian nationalism, the protector of Russian culture and a
historic force for unity. He has pushed hard to restrict the rights of
other denominations, particularly those like the Roman Catholic Church
and different Protestant sects that dispatch missionaries to Russia and
vastly outspend the Orthodox Church in charity, educational and
With the enactment last month of a controversial federal law that
recognizes only Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and the Russian Orthodox Church
as "traditional" Russian religions with the full right to own or rent
property, the patriarch won a major victory. His Church is now well on
its way to recovering not only its real estate, but its privileged
position in Russian society.
The new law limits the ability of non-traditional sects - including
dissident Russian Orthodox groups as well as non-Orthodox denominations
- to proselytize, educate and own or rent property. They have already
run into problems in trying to recover or acquire church property.
Opposition from the patriarch has prevented the Old Believers,
descendants of a breakaway Russian Orthodox community that rejected
Church reforms in the 17th Century, from regaining the use of their
pre-revolutionary churches. A Ukrainian Orthodox Church congregation was
kicked out of its cathedral in the Moscow suburbs last week and
Catholics, who have worshipped in Russia since the days of Peter the
Great, fear the same fate.
"Before the revolution there were three Catholic churches in Moscow,"
said Sergei Filatov, a Moscow-based historian of religion. "The
Catholics got one back during perestroika and have been trying since
then to get back the other two. Now, I'm sure, they have no chance to
At the same time, the patriarch has said his Church is overwhelmed by
the task of renovating the property it has reacquired.
"We have very little money," Alexei II told the Russian magazine Profile
recently. "We have to restore hundreds of monasteries that we are
getting from the state in a horrible condition. These destroyed temples
are like our destroyed souls."
Indeed, the inventory of Orthodox Church properties has grown at a
breathtaking pace. In 1988 there were 6,800 churches in the Soviet
Union. By 1994, there were 16,000, and by 1997, there were 18,000, in
the same ex-Soviet territory. The number of Orthodox monasteries and
nunneries in the same period grew from 22 to 390.
In Moscow alone, according to the office of the patriarch, there are 390
churches, up from the late-Soviet era figure of 60, and eight nunneries
"And we don't need money just for the churches and monasteries," said
Church spokesman Father Vsevolod. "We need administrative buildings,
libraries, schools, clubs, housing for priests and cells for nuns."
Tenants evicted by the Church have no legal redress. Their landlord is
the state - and it is the state that has been steadily transferring
lands back to the Church.
"There also are no lawsuits because there is no law," said Anatoly
Krasikov, a former spokesman for President Boris Yeltsin who now heads a
Russian group called Religious Freedoms. "The whole question of what to
do about property that was taken by the state after 1917 is not yet
solved in Russia."
At Public School 36, the teachers and students, ages 6 to 17, are
preparing for a long war of nerves with the patriarch, who is directly
responsible for the nunnery.
Much of the schoolyard is a construction site. To get to school,
children must walk over unsteady boards placed on top of holes. Piles of
bricks and other rubble block pathways. Lean dogs prowl the grounds. The
security guards, dressed in military camouflage, refuse to allow
children of working parents to stay in the school after classes.
One guard lectured the assistant principal on how to better discipline
the energetic youngsters who sometimes run, skip and yell in one tiny
basketball court that is left.
So far, none of the guards has hit a child.
"We are decisive women," said principal Dermicheva, speaking from an
office jampacked with flowers, weavings, books and children's handiwork.
"We would have killed them."
The Moscow city government allocated a nearby building for PS 36. It
once was used as a school for the children of Soviet officials sent into
exile or killed during the purges of the 1930s. But the building needs
renovation and is being used by another city department, which refuses
All of this has been difficult to explain to the schoolchildren.
"I tell them: There is faith and there is the Church, which is the
official representative of the believers. And the Church is not always
right," Dermicheva said. "I say there are nuns who work very hard, who
plant things and set a good example. But on the other hand, I can't give
an explanation as to why we are being dispossessed of our school."
October 12, 1997
IN RUSSIA, SEWERS REFUSE COFFINS
Russian seamstresses owed two years of back wages refused to accept
coffins as barter payment, asking for grocery carts instead, the ITAR-Tass
news agency reported.
The workers at the Voskhod clothing plant in Yaya, about 1,900 miles east
of Moscow, would use the carts -- worth about $21 each -- to transport
vegetables from their land plots.
"They are refusing to take the coffins in advance, explaining that they
want to live and not to die," the news agency said. It did not explain why a
clothing factory had surplus coffins.
In the past couple of years, Russian workers have been paid in alcohol,
kitchenware, vegetables, firewood, gasoline, lingerie, sexual aids and
fishing licenses, among other items.
Russia says no date fixed to join landmines ban
MOSCOW, Oct 11 (Reuter) - The Kremlin said on Saturday there was no date
fixed for Russia to join a world ban on landmines despite a general pledge by
President Boris Yeltsin to back it.
Yeltsin said on Friday during the Council of Europe human rights summit in
Strasbourg that Russia favoured a world ban on the weapons.
His comment left it unclear whether Russia would sign the treaty in the terms
agreed by nearly 100 states at a conference in Oslo last month or whether
Moscow, which had criticised the accord for being divisive and too hasty,
wanted more discussion.
The accord is due to be signed in the Canadian capital of Ottawa between
December 2 and 4.
A Kremlin press service statement said on Saturday:
``The president has confirmed our positive attitude in principle towards the
signing of the convention -- when neccessary conditions are created.
``There has been no talk in Strasbourg about a concrete date of Russia
joining this important international accord.''
Until Friday, Russia, along with the United States and China, the world's
biggest military powers, has held out against the Oslo accord.
Washington is reluctant to remove its mines from the Korean peninsula, where
they help defend the South against the communist North.
Russia is a major manufacturer of mines. Moscow used them extensively during
its 10-year intervention in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Russian mines are also
scattered over Chechnya, relics of the 1994-96 war between Moscow's troops
and Chechen separatists.
Russia Seen as Winner, U.S. as Loser in Iran Gas 'Duel'
October 8, 1997
[translation for personal use only]
Report from Washington by Sergey Dukhanov: "Washington Has Lost
a Round in the 'Gas' Duel With Iran"
After the conclusion of the biggest deal of the past few months, for
the development of the Persian Gulf's vast South Pars gas field, the
winners turned out to be the Russian Joint-Stock Company Gazprom, the
French company Total, and the Malaysian firm Petronas, which signed a $2
billion contract. The United States was among the losers.
The White House and other U.S. federal departments (including the
Pentagon, according to some sources) thought hard about how Washington
should respond to the obvious challenge laid down by France and Russia.
For under the D'Amato-Kennedy Iran-Libya Sanctions Act, companies which
invest $40 million or more in the development of these countries' oil and
gas industries are subject to severe sanctions by the U.S. Administration
(incidentally, from August 1997 the threshold for investments subject to
sanctions was reduced to $20 million).
At the time the leaders of Russia and France made strong statements
against the possible introduction of sanctions. And this had an effect.
But, as many American political observers believe, the decisive factor was
the European Union's siding with the consortium. On behalf of the EU, the
vice chairman of the European Commission, Sir Leon Brittan, announced on 30
September that the EU remains firmly opposed to American legislation having
extraterritorial force (he had in mind the anti-Cuban Helms-Burton act and
the above-mentioned D'Amato-Kennedy act). Mr. Brittan said that these acts
are contrary to international law and could lead to tensions in relations
between Europe and the United States. After that, all that U.S. Secretary
of State Madeleine Albright could do was to say something to the effect
that the friends and allies had misunderstood something in regard to Iran.
However, the essence of the problem lies elsewhere. The White House
cannot help being aware that Tehran remains one of the main players on the
world market for hydrocarbon raw materials: Iran's current oil output
remains at 3.65 million barrels a day (which gives it fourth place in the
world), and exports at 2.6 million barrels (second place, after Saudi
Arabia). If really serious harm is done to an exporter on such a
magnitude, an unpredictable leap in the prices of these mineral raw
materials will occur. By the way, the United States, as the largest
importer of oil, has for many years now, for no reason whatsoever, enjoyed
the advantage of paying unprecedentedly low prices for it.
It is therefore perfectly clear that the political aims of "dual
containment" will damage the country's economic interests. The first sure
sign that the United States had realized that such actions were absurd was
its refraining from reacting to the plans to build a pipeline across Iran
from Turkmenistan. If anyone had said only six months ago that such a
thing was possible, Washington would have considered him crazy. And the
fact that no decision on sanctions against the international consortium has
so far been made indicates official Washington's indecision. It has in
effect taken half a step toward normalizing relations with Iran. True, it
appears that there is still a long way to go to full normalization. And
this is a cause of suffering for some American companies, which are
prohibited from doing business with Iran. One loser is, for example,
Conoco: The project which this company had won to develop the Sirri ("A"
and "Ye" [as transliterated]) fields was transferred to the Total company,
which is attaining or has already attained the projected output of 150,000
barrels a day.
And here is a symptomatic indication: Iran is striving to attract
foreign investments to develop its offshore fields, yet there are no
foreign investments in the mainland fields, nor are foreigners being
invited there. Yet the mainland fields yield 85 percent of the output of
hydrocarbon raw materials. The logical question is: What harm can be done
to Iran by American laws directed against foreign firms that invest in that
country's oil and gas sector if nearly all of this sector is operating
successfully without foreigners? An incidental question: Where is the
much praised American pragmatism?
By and large, the whole story of the consortium means only one thing:
a tectonic shift, including in Russian Federation foreign policy. First,
in the South Asia area Moscow has clearly demonstrated that Russia has real
economic interests in Iran and that it will uphold them regardless of any
American laws. Second, Russia, using this deal, has managed to form a
united front with France and the European Union. It is also important that
this front is not spearheaded against the United States, which has isolated
itself, since no other state is reacting to its D'Amato-Kennedy act. A few
oil firms, however big, do not count -- they are motivated by fear of
American revenge as a large part of their business is in the United States
and, consequently, is subject to American sanctions.
Taking into account everything that has happened, the Russian oil
companies should consolidate their success -- in the Caspian Sea area this
NATO Conducts Surveillance Operations Against Nuclear Ship
Moscow, 8 Oct [ITAR-TASS] -- NATO intelligence is carrying out close
supervision of the Russian heavy nuclear cruiser Petr Velikiy, an ITAR-TASS
correspondent was told today by a senior representative of the Russian
defense department. The cruiser is now in the Kolskiy Zaliv [Kola Gulf]
near Severomorsk after completing another set of factory [as received]
As it went out into Arctic waters for tests, the vessel was a constant
focus for the attention of NATO intelligence, stressed the military
spokesman. The cruiser was under constant observation from space and was
buzzed by spy planes. There were foreign submarines and surface vessels in
the waters where the Russian cruiser was SAiling. They used radio,
electronic, and visual means to spy on it. [passage omitted]