This Date's Issues: 1282 •1283
Johnson's Russia List
14 October 1997
[Note from David Johnson:
1. St. Petersburg Times: Pavel Felgenhauer, Lebed Backpedals on
Allegedly Missing 'Suitcase' Nuclear Devices.
2. Christian Science Monitor: Brian Humphreys, Native Children
in Siberia At Home on the Range.
3. Time magazine: Paul Quinn-Judge, Battle of the Bankers.
4. Los Angeles Times: Richard Paddock, It's Downsizing, Russian
Style, Near Arctic Circle. Economy: Residents are streaming from
the Chukotka region, where Soviet dreams are dead.
5. Nevskoe Vremya: The Ghost of Separatism Stalks Russia.
6. Sankt-Peterburgskye Vedomosti: Just Where is Russian Democracy
7. Izvestiya: The Crowd Pronounces the Sentence.
8. Segodnya: Officials Will Remain "Non-Transparent." INCOME
DECLARATIONS PROVED USELESS -- NO ONE KNOWS HOW TO CHECK THEM.
9. Reuters: Gareth Jones, Russia's Lyubimov still
St. Petersburg Times
October 13-19, 1997
Lebed Backpedals on Allegedly Missing 'Suitcase' Nuclear Devices
By Pavel Felgenhauer
Pavel Felgenhauer is Segodnya's defense and national security affairs
WHILE the Russian "loose nukes" scandal is gathering momentum in
Washington, retired general Alexander Lebed is busy backpedaling in
In an interview with NBC television last week, Lebed was surprisingly
noncommittal. He could only restate with certainty that "compact nuclear
devices had been made." But this is common knowledge in any case.
"I'll give you a simple example," said Lebed. "Nuclear artillery shells
are 155 millimeters long for NATO, 152 for Soviet ones. A missile is
this long [He spreads his hands about a yard wide]. It can be carried
away in a suitcase or any other bag. As for their number, I can't say.
When I was asked about the number I said I didn't know - maybe 100,
maybe 500. Then speculations started. And they began saying that 'Lebed
said there used to be 100.'"
"If I am not mistaken," added Lebed, "a U.S. senator came to Russia in
March and asked me these questions. [It happened to be Representative
Curt Weldon, a Pennsylvania Republican.] I told him that I didn't have
enough time to verify everything, but that I considered it a matter of
Nuclear artillery shells cannot be "carried away in a suitcase or any
other bag." About 15 centimeters in diameter and nearly a meter long,
such shells weigh well over 100 kilograms. A conventional "bag or
suitcase" would simply fall apart under the strain. Imagine strolling
downtown with such a weight in a backpack.
Furthermore, according to the 1991 agreement between former presidents
George Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev, all former Soviet and U.S. nuclear
artillery shells were to have been decommissioned and dismantled.
This in no way means, however, that all plans to build other "compact
nuclear devices" have been abandoned forever. A year ago, the Russian
Nuclear Power Minister Viktor Mikhailov - a seasoned nuclear scientist
and nuclear bomb maker - published an article suggesting the need to
produce 10,000 small new-generation battlefield nuclear weapons.
But for now, nuclear facilities are mostly dismantling warheads. If
Lebed does not know the exact number or whereabouts of "compact nuclear
devices," it is not because they were stolen, but because he never got
authorization to know about them.
This means the Russian nuclear security system is not as bad as many
U.S. senators believe. A maverick paratroop general still cannot get
immediate access to stockpiles even if he happens to be a security tsar.
However, Lebed's apparent reversal on "misplaced nukes" will hardly stop
the anti-Russian smear campaign that is unfolding in Washington. Ninety
six U.S. senators and congressmen wrote to President Bill Clinton last
week recommending that he impose sanctions against Russia and reassess
cooperation programs because of the alleged sale of nuclear and missile
technology to Iran. At such a pace, Mikhailov and his U.S. counterparts
may be back in business soon.
Christian Science Monitor
October 14, 1997
[for personal use
Native Children in Siberia At Home on the Range
By Brian Humphreys, Special to The Christian Science Monitor
SEBYAN-KYUYEL, RUSSIA -- The school year is just beginning in
Sebyan-Kyuyel, a village of 700 in northern Siberia just outside the
Arctic Circle. Schoolchildren have already begun to filter back into the
village after spending the summer with the reindeer herds that live in
the surrounding mountains.
Most of their fathers will stay behind. A visit requires a three-day
trip by horse or reindeer back through one of Russia's most remote
The village itself is almost entirely cut off from the outside world.
Yakutsk, the nearest major city, is a two-hour flight by small plane or
The children, who belong to the Eveny tribes native to the Sakha
Republic, live between two worlds. They are maintaining ties to their
people's traditional roots as nomadic reindeer herders, while trying to
prepare for life in the 21st century.
None of the children seem to see any contradiction in this effort. Zoya,
an eighth-grader who wants to be a lawyer, vows she will keep her ties
with the reindeer herds. But can she do that and be a lawyer at the same
time? "I think so," she says with a casual shrug.
In fact, most of the children will ultimately leave the village and
their herds if they have the opportunity, according to Shauna McLarnon,
a Canadian political scientist who is doing research on the Eveny.
"If young people are successful at finding work in the city, they
usually leave," she says. "The only new people who come are people that
marry somebody that lives in the village."
Sebyan-Kyuyel was created by the Soviet government, which was determined
to see all of its citizens living in conditions conducive to the
teaching of Marxist-Leninist ideology, whether in central Moscow or
The village, like many other artificial Soviet creations, is not
economically viable in Russia's new capitalist society. But even now,
after the Russian government has essentially abandoned Sebyan-Kyuyel to
its fate, few seem ready to cut ties with it entirely.
In many cases it is the deep poverty here, rather than a desire for
cultural renewal, that prompts families to send their children into the
mountains to follow the reindeer herds during the summer. And the
journey has added benefits: providing an escape from the boredom and
chronic alcoholism in the village, and fostering in students a greater
desire to learn.
Taisiya Keimstinova, the school's vice principal, says, "The
schoolchildren that have lived with the herds are a lot stronger and
have a more practical view of things," she says. "They already know a
lot about real life."
Even so, it is hard to see how the teachers here can prepare their
students for the future. The crumbling wooden schoolhouse lacks basic
necessities, let alone the high-tech learning tools that more privileged
children elsewhere take for granted.
"Having some computers here would be nice," says eighth-grader Olya.
Even having some new teachers would be nice, other students say. Ever
since the Soviet practice of conscripting new teachers to work in rural
areas was abolished, finding people willing to work in the village has
become nearly impossible.
The gradual elimination of state subsidies for higher education and
preferential entrance policies for indigenous peoples means that fewer
ambitious students like Zoya and Olya can expect to enter universities
and institutes after finishing school.
The regional government in Yakutsk has not made the problems of
indigenous peoples a priority. A modern university complex in Yakutsk
was recently completed, but no money was found to refurbish the
schoolhouse, which can barely contain the village's 200 schoolchildren.
By default, if nothing else, their future will almost certainly remain
tied to that of the reindeer herds.
October 20, 1997
[for personal use only]
BATTLE OF THE BANKERS
IN POSTCOMMUNIST RUSSIA, THE SPOILS GO TO THE WELL CONNECTED. NOW THREE
TOP CAPITALISTS ARE IN A VICIOUS FEUD THAT INVOLVES WEALTH AND POWER
BY PAUL QUINN-JUDGE /MOSCOW
In the old days of the Soviet Union, Communist ideologists taught the
simpleminded notion that the bourgeois capitalist world was run by small
groups of monopolists who manipulated governments and the news media
from the comfort of their wood-paneled offices.
Now, in the new Russia, the half-dozen or so richest men in the country
seem to be living out that teaching. These new oligarchs, all fabulously
rich thanks mainly to their intimacy with the country's democratic
leaders, control as much as half the country's gross domestic product
and many of the most powerful media outlets. Last year they played a
major role in the re-election of President Boris Yeltsin. To say, as
many Russians do, that the oligarchs run the country is an exaggeration.
To say they would like to is closer to the truth.
But their power and wealth are so great, their control of the economy so
pervasive and their rivalries so bitter that Yeltsin is trying to bring
them to heel, declaring that the state is going to again assume more
control of the economy. Yeltsin, whose re-election campaign was
generously funded by the new oligarchs, warned that he would not
tolerate "any effort by businessmen and bankers to exert pressure on the
government." Yeltsin's words echoed those of Anatoli Chubais, his
abrasive First Deputy Premier, who said recently that Russia could not
allow "two or three or five major financial institutions" to run the
The declarations by Yeltsin and Chubais signaled the start of a bitter
and potentially crucial power struggle between the government's young
Vice Premiers, Chubais and Boris Nemtsov, on the one hand, and several
of the most powerful oligarchs on the other. While Yeltsin instructed
both sides in what is now known as the bankers' war to cool it, the war
has instead heated up. Last week came news that one of the warring
oligarchs had been questioned by Interior Ministry investigators and
that one of his Russian-American associates had had his Russian visa
confiscated as he left Moscow and had been placed on a list of
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, most people expected a
burgeoning of political parties to fill the vacuum left by the
communists. Parties did emerge, but in the tightly controlled
presidential system that was hand-tailored for Yeltsin what counts is
access--to the President, to his few closest aides and family members,
and to half a dozen or so top government officials.
And it is money that fuels that access. Most of the oligarchs got
started in the late '80s with money whose origins remain murky. There
have been repeated allegations--and repeated denials--that the new
millionaires received their start-up capital from the Communist Party,
the KGB or other giants of the old system. In any event their companies
did well during the privatization of the Russian economy in the early
'90s. Perhaps their biggest break came in 1995. Nearly bankrupt, the
government offered shares in some of the country's biggest concerns,
like oil and mineral resources. The oligarchs gained control of one
enterprise after another at huge discounts from their real value.
In the current struggle between the business tycoons and the government,
three figures stand out: Boris Berezovsky, one of the world's richest
men; media magnate Vladimir Gusinsky; and one of the youngest bankers,
Vladimir Potanin, who has aligned himself with Chubais. Of these,
perhaps the most controversial is Berezovsky, 51, the billionaire
entrepreneur who has survived assassination attempts and unproved murder
accusations to become a shadowy influence in the Yeltsin entourage. Once
an academic specializing in the theory of computerized management
systems, Berezovsky was recently ranked 97th in Forbes' listing of the
world's 200 richest people, with wealth estimated at $3 billion. After
starting his business career selling cars in the late '80s, he quickly
built an empire that includes substantial interests in oil, the airline
Aeroflot, luxury cars and banking. Berezovsky has major investments in
several of the country's main newspapers as well as Russia's largest TV
network, ORT. Nominally state-owned, ORT has received funding from
Berezovsky and is said to have been run by a longtime Berezovsky
According to Berezovsky, the formula for political power is simple:
power equals brains, money and people. And, he adds modestly, "we are
the only ones in Russia who have all three." By "we" he means himself
and his fellow financiers and entrepreneurs. Berezovsky admits to a love
for the south of France, Corsica, beautiful women and Formula One motor
racing. He keeps his home life a secret, though he is known to have five
children ranging in age from about 25 to one year.
After his Mercedes car was blown up in 1994 by a remote-controlled bomb,
Berezovsky left the country for a while and took Israeli citizenship. He
gave that up last year when he was appointed deputy secretary of the
national security council, a position that gives him access to defense
and security policymakers. Berezovsky firmly believes in the old
communist teaching that oligarchic elites run countries. The trick, he
explains, is to identify them and win them over. Thus he has used former
Reagan mediameister Mike Deaver as a public relations consultant in the
U.S. and has actively courted such movers and shakers as former
Assistant Secretary of State Dick Holbrooke. At home he has forged a
close working relationship with Yeltsin's daughter and the President's
chief of staff.
While Berezovsky has taken the lead in the conflict with Chubais and
Potanin, he has been supported by Gusinski, another member of the
business oligarchy. Gusinsky, 46, started out as a theater director in
the provinces, worked on Ted Turner's Goodwill Games and gradually moved
into business, making his Most Bank a major name in Russian finance. His
personal fortune is estimated at $400 million. Recently he has
concentrated his attention on his media empire, which includes the major
TV channel, NTV; a radio station; the newsmagazine Itogi and one of
Russia's main dailies, Segodnya. Gusinsky spends a good part of his time
in Spain and London. When in Moscow he is said to live in an elegant
estate on the edge of the city. With wealth and influence comes danger.
Like the other members of the Russian business elite, Gusinsky never
moves without a security entourage. When he plays tennis on weekends, as
many as 15 armed guards patrol the courts.
Berezovsky and Gusinsky now find themselves at war with a man they had
considered a junior member of the oligarchy, 36-year-old Vladimir
Potanin. His bank, Unexim, is one of the largest financial institutions
in the country. It was reportedly founded on the ruins of the giant
Soviet-era foreign-trade system, and Potanin once worked in the Soviet
Foreign Trade Ministry. Potanin's fortune is estimated at $700 million.
He recently acquired control of the country's most respected daily
newspaper, Izvestiya, whereupon some 40 journalists, including the
editor, quit to start their own newspaper--in all probability to be
funded by Berezovsky.
During last year's presidential campaign, the oligarchs combined forces
to make sure Yeltsin won. They provided strategists, logistics,
uniformly positive media coverage of Yeltsin and, of course, money--lots
of it. "It was made available as needed," recalls a banker. "Someone
from the campaign would say, 'We need $700,000,' and it would be
delivered." This banker scoffs at the rumor that Yeltsin spent $100
million. "No more than $30 million, I'd guess," he says.
And until this past summer the top oligarchs amicably divided the
privatization spoils among themselves. But when, in July, the state
offered a 25% share in the giant firm Svyazinvest, the state
telecommunications monopoly, Potanin upset the applecart. Using a stake
of almost $1 billion obtained from international investor George Soros,
Potanin outbid Gusinsky. This was a shock.
Both Berezovsky and Gusinsky denounced the Svyazinvest sale through
their TV stations and newspapers. But Chubais sided with Potanin,
declaring the Svyazinvest sale fair and honest. The Chubais-Potanin
alliance particularly inflamed Berezovsky, who launched a campaign of
biting criticism against both men. Chubais's aides responded by
denouncing Berezovsky. "He's made his money by bullying," says an
official sympathetic to Chubais. "He's angry because he's found someone
he can't buy."
In turn, Berezovsky characterizes Chubais as a Bolshevik who is trying
to impose a new form of authoritarianism on Russia. As is frequently the
case in modern Russia, the fight has taken on an undertone of menace.
Chubais says he has received at least one death threat, a claim that
Berezovsky has characterized as a publicity stunt by Chubais supporters.
An official of the Federal Security Service, the successor agency to the
KGB, refused a request to comment on the severity of the dispute. "It is
too dangerous," he told TIME. "The wolves are fighting, and we are
Reformers applaud Chubais's determination to rein in the political
influence of some banks. But at the same time many wonder why Chubais is
favoring Potanin's Unexim Bank, turning it into an economic "state
within the state," in the words of newspaper columnist Otto Latsis. The
answer is simple: power.
The present fight between Chubais and the bankers is not just about who
controls the economy in the next couple of years; it is also about who
rules Russia after the year 2000, when presidential elections are due.
Until now the oligarchs had clearly planned to have a major hand in
electing the next President. They might well have put forward one of
their own. In fact, Potanin, energetic, smart and articulate, is already
being talked about as a future President, though he denied any such
ambitions in an interview with TIME. Chubais, meanwhile, wants at least
to be Prime Minister. But to succeed in politics one needs lots of money
and media. Potanin has the money and is acquiring the media. By forming
an alliance with Potanin, Chubais is not only weakening the other
oligarchs. He is also creating his own independent political base.
The bankers' war, with its attack articles and smears in various
financier-controlled media, has taken its toll. It has deepened the
impression, widespread in the West, that Yeltsin's Russia is in danger
of becoming what U.S. researchers recently called a
"criminal-syndicalist state" controlled by an alliance of corrupt
politicians, businessmen and crime bosses. It has shattered the
credibility of the media, which for a few brief years following the
collapse of the Soviet Union had a reputation for independence and
integrity. And it has damaged the standing of the young reformers,
Chubais and Nemtsov. Alexander Oslon, who polls every week for the
presidential administration, takes a bleak view of the war. Says he:
"This will be a conflict without winners."
--Reported by Yuri Zarakhovich and Andrew Meier /Moscow
Los Angeles Times
October 13, 1997
[for personal use only]
It's Downsizing, Russian Style, Near Arctic Circle
Economy: Residents are streaming from the Chukotka region, where Soviet
dreams are dead.
By RICHARD C. PADDOCK, Times Staff Writer
ROVIDENIYA, Russia--Some were idealists who came to carve a new
socialist world from the frozen wilderness. Many were lured by the
promise of wages three times what they could earn anywhere else. Others
sought adventure on the new frontier.
Together, they tightened the Soviet grip on the icy Chukotka
Peninsula across the Bering Strait from Alaska, using huge federal
subsidies to build towns, factories and military bases on the edge of
But today, the Russians are in retreat. With the Cold War lost and
the economy in disarray, their dreams have turned to desperation, and
their pioneer spirit has succumbed to the daily struggle for survival.
More than half the people of the Chukotka region have moved away in
the past six years, and more are leaving daily. In town after town in
Russia's easternmost region, crumbling apartment blocks stand abandoned,
windows broken. The potholed streets--empty of people--are lined with
shipping containers packed with the household goods of Chukotka's
"This is a land of containers. You can see them everywhere," said
Nina Mikhailovna, who moved to Provideniya as a teacher 33 years ago. "
'Leaving' is not the proper word for it. They are fleeing for their
Call it downsizing, Russian style. In an effort to reduce the
population of a region larger than Texas, the Chukotka government has
relocated thousands of retirees to other parts of Russia. Soaring
prices, high unemployment and shrinking public services have convinced
thousands more that it is time to go. From a Soviet-era peak of 220,000,
Chukotka's population has plunged to 87,000 and falling.
"What is the point of maintaining the infrastructure and keeping
the people there together with their families and schools?" asked
Chukotka Gov. Alexander Nazarov. "This is not the south. It's not even
Siberia. It's the Arctic region."
The departure of so many Russians from the peninsula has forced the
native Chukchi and Eskimo people to begin relying on themselves after
decades of dependence on the Soviet government. But robbed of their
traditions by the Communist system, most are unprepared for the
transition to a market economy.
Forced from their native villages into Soviet settlements in the
1950s, the indigenous people survived largely on government handouts.
Collective farms took over their ancient herds of reindeer and their
traditional hunts for whales, walruses and seals. Now, with subsidies
gone, the reindeer population has collapsed under poor management, and
many hunters cannot even afford ammunition.
"We got used to getting extended aid," said Grigory Taiyumvat, 51,
a Chukchi and onetime reindeer herder who now works as a night watchman.
"We haven't learned to think for ourselves yet."
To restructure its economy, this region nine time zones from Moscow
has begun to look to the Pacific Rim, even opening a trade office in
Few Trade Prospects
But apart from its mineral resources, the region has little to
offer as a trading partner. Chukotka's best prospect lies in
reorganizing the business of gold mining, improving efficiency and
increasing the yield from its large deposits. As with so many industrial
projects in Russia, however, it is hard to find investors who are
willing to put up money and wait for long-term results.
Officials say they want to attract tourists, but there are few
hotels, transportation services are primitive, and the government
refuses to relax restrictions that keep visitors out. Further, Nazarov
has blocked a 10-year-old plan to create a U.S.-Rus*sian national park
encompassing both sides of the Bering Strait for fear it would interfere
with oil exploration.
Some officials pin their hopes on the idea of building a tunnel
under the Bering Strait to Alaska, linking Europe, Asia and America with
an intercontinental highway. But they acknowledge that few people would
want to spend weeks driving from, say, Los Angeles to Paris by way of
The remoteness of the Chukotka Peninsula and the high cost of
transporting goods to and from the region present a formidable obstacle
to its economic renewal.
The region's 22 towns and villages are scattered over wide
distances along the coast of the Bering and Arctic seas. Roads between
towns are virtually nonexistent. Ports are frozen all winter, until
icebreakers arrive in May. Docking facilities are few, and landing craft
are often used to haul cars and cargo. Flying is the most reliable way
to get around, but bad weather can leave travelers stranded for weeks at
The cost of transportation drives prices sky high. Goods in shops
often cost three to five times as much as they would in Moscow--itself
ranked as the third most expensive city in the world.
People who were among the wealthiest in the Soviet Union now find
themselves among Russia's poorest. Although they received triple wages
in Communist times, there was little to buy, and most saved for eventual
return to "the mainland," as they call the rest of Russia. Some socked
away huge ruble fortunes, but the hyper-inflation of the early 1990s
wiped out their savings; the princely sum of 60,000 rubles, officially
valued at $100,000 a decade ago, is worth $10.27 today.
Now a good monthly salary is 2 million rubles--$342. Pensioners
receive at most 500,000 rubles--about $85. But many workers have not
been paid for months or even years. Chukotka's pioneers, once rewarded
with vacations to any place in the Soviet Union, now cannot afford to
travel. In the short summer, most go to the tundra and pick mushrooms
and berries to survive the winter.
Lavrenty Mikholai, a retired seaman in Provideniya, is on a list of
retirees waiting for apartments in the south. He doesn't know when his
number will come up or, when it does, where he will head. His monthly
pension, he calculates, is "enough for two visits to the store."
"It was much better under communism," he said. "Everyone had a job.
We don't know what is in store for us or for the city. Everyone is
leaving. Everything is falling apart. Everything is being destroyed."
Even in Soviet times, life was hard in Chukotka. There is little
sunlight, and nutrition is notoriously poor. Life expectancy is 56 years
for men and 61 for women, lower even than on the mainland. The region is
plagued by alcoholism, especially among its indigenous people.
"Alcohol is a very big problem," said Vyacheslav Salnikov, a
physician in Lavrentiya who works in the boiler room of the town's power
plant. "Even people who used to be abstainers have started drinking.
They have lost all hope."
The Chukotka coast is so far east, it is closer to Los Angeles than
it is to Moscow. But its bleak, decaying towns look as if they belong in
Provideniya, established in 1937, calls itself the "Gateway to the
Arctic." In the past six years, its population has shrunk from 5,000 to
2,000, and today its buildings look like the worst of U.S. public
Its most scenic spot is the cemetery, with its commanding view of
the surrounding mountains. The graveyard is the only part of Provideniya
that is growing these days, but, like the town, it is in an advanced
state of decay.
Mikhailovna, the teacher who came here at age 20, has no apartment
waiting for her on the mainland and no money to buy one. She and her
husband had planned to live out their lives here, but now she sees only
a last trip to the cemetery as their future. "We were proud we were
living in the north," she said. "People were proud they were on the
frontier. I will stay here. I don't have any other place to go."
But some residents of the region see Chukotka's population decline
as an improvement. In Lavrentiya, deputy chief administrator Andrei
Shchegolkov said the settlement, having shrunk from 6,000 to 2,000, is
approaching the ideal population it can support.
"They haven't gone a long way. We can always visit them," said
Shchegolkov, who looks like a young John Candy with gleaming gold teeth.
"The decrease in the population has had a direct effect on the increase
in the population of mushrooms."
For hundreds of years, the peninsula's Eskimos and Chukchis
coexisted peacefully, the Eskimos living on the meat of sea mammals and
the Chukchis raising reindeer and hunting.
At the onset of the Cold War, as the Soviet Union began building up
its military presence and Russian volunteers arrived from the mainland,
the government began relocating Eskimos and Chukchis from their villages
into larger settlements. Many elderly people died when they could not
adapt; children were taken from their parents and put in boarding
schools where only Russian was spoken.
Grigory Taiyumvat, 51, is now an old man among the Chukchis. Born
in a tent on the tundra, he recalls a time when his nomadic parents,
following their herd of 6,000 reindeer, were considered wealthy. But he
has seen most Chukchi culture disappear.
After the Soviet collapse, herds were privatized; Taiyumvat and six
fellow workers were given 3,000 reindeer. But there was no gas to drive
tractors across the tundra, and they were unable to keep the herd
together, losing some head to wolves, others to illness or stampedes.
Those they didn't lose, they slaughtered to eat or sell. "We lost our
capacity to walk long distances with the reindeer," he said. "We got
used to driving, and we couldn't follow the reindeer."
In six years, the region's reindeer population has fallen from
500,000 to 150,000.
"During Soviet times, we were deprived of the roots of our lives,"
said Ludmila I. Ainana, chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference. "It
resulted in our gradually losing the language and the culture. We got
used to decisions being made by somebody else."
Now, instead of government aid, the Eskimos get help from relatives
in Alaska. The town of Barrow across the Bering Strait donated five
generators to the village of Novoye Chaplinoas well as binoculars, boat
engines and arms--to revive the hunt for bowhead whales.
As the Russian migration from the region continues, many native
people worry what it will mean for them. "It was good when the Russians
first came here," said Margarita Ruhltinli, 64, a Chukchi woman who
lives in Lavrentiya on a $75 monthly pension. "They started opening up
schools. They gave education to our children for free. Now everything
has changed. We are not living at all. We are like beggars."
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>From Russia Today press summaries
13 October 1997
The Ghost of Separatism Stalks Russia
The ghost of separatism is wandering the Russian Federation, said the
Various forces of Russia's establishment are trying to fight this ghost,
the daily said, including the president, the Patriarch, ORT newscaster
Alexander Dorenko, film director and Duma deputy Stanislav Govoruchin,
the democratic reformers and patriotic nationalists.
Everyone is talking about this force, which is trying to destroy great
Mother Russia. To some extent this is true, the daily said. The regions
are tired of Moscow taking tribute from them. One fact suffices to
illustrate this -- the lavish celebrations laid out for Moscow's the
850th anniversary last month. From such actions stems the regions'
desire to become independent and not to pay taxes to Moscow. The desire
to become free from Moscow obviously has economic and not political
The USSR's twisted propaganda put the idea of the importance of the
"integrity of national borders" into people's heads. For this reason,
genuine political separatist groups are few, and have no financial
However, Tatarstan, which is usually considered independence-minded,
does not demand anything from Moscow now that it has a broad measure of
autonomy, and it is satisfied.
Yet, it is true that St. Petersburg, Primorsky and Chechnya need
different laws, the daily added. And it is not too late to change the
Federation into Confederation. There is no need for federal authorities
to give money back to the regions. Let them live on what they earn and
that will be enough, the daily said.
But in the end, one can hardly believe that Moscow will just suddenly
stop taking the wealth from the regions that lie between the Baltic Sea
and the Pacific Ocean.
>From Russia Today press summaries
13 October 1997
Just Where is Russian Democracy Going?
Last week the State Duma asked the television channel "Rossia" to air
parliamentary hearings on the 1998 budget, live and unabridged.
And what did the public see, asked the daily -- perfectly intelligent,
serious lawmakers stating their positions on this important issue. There
were none of the "idiots" and "jack-asses" that ORT and NTV showed
(before they were excluded from filming the Duma hearings), when they
carefully edited parliamentary hearings to give the people a negative
picture of the Duma, the daily said.
However, the live coverage of the budget debates showed that our leaders
still cannot agree on where the country should be going -- every faction
has its own agenda.
Prime Minister Victor Chernomyrdin and his first deputy, Anatoly
Chubais, tell the people that the worst is already behind the country
and that with a little more foreign investment and privatization, Russia
will have a market economy.
Ultra-nationalist leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Communist chief
Gennady Zyuganov, however, say the West has taken Russia over, and that
we are becoming a nation of drunks and drug addicts, fast approaching an
Liberal leader Grigory Yavlinsky says Russia is in the hands of a
criminal oligarchy, and that there is no semblance of a market economy
Each faction tenaciously clings to its beliefs and has forgotten the
people, the daily said, and put their political interests above those of
the people. Just where is Russian democracy going? the daily asked, in
>From Russia Today press summaries
13 October 1997
The Crowd Pronounces the Sentence
The author wrote that huge meetings in squares are still a popular in
Russia. Sometimes the collective voice of the crowd decides not only
respond to political or economic issues, but even judiciary problems and
A recent example can be found in the city of Yurga (Kuzbass), where the
head of the local economic security department, Irina Yurga, told the
media that the director of the large local machinery construction plant
Yurmash was corrupt. She also attributed all the workers' hardships to
his economic crimes and those of his family.
Local journalists launched a television campaign under the slogan: "The
city has become hostage to the director." Yurmash director general
Yesaulov eventually was dismissed by order of the local administrative
The city, however, could not regain its calm. The daily published a
picture of a large crowd demanding that Yesaulov be punished. The daily
said it looked like a wild outburst of lawlessness, arranged by a
It said that Kuzbass Governor Aman Tuleev is especially known for his
skill in manipulating public opinion. The "meeting law" has become a
most popular means for solving the region's problems. The gathering in
Yurga also demanded that a controlling stake in Yurmash shares, which is
now owned by the state, be turned over to the regional administration.
The daily concluded that while Russia is still far from being a
rule-of-law state, illegal actions remain possible everywhere and
threaten a mass explosion of civil unrest.
>From Russia Today press summaries
Officials Will Remain "Non-Transparent"
INCOME DECLARATIONS PROVED USELESS -- NO ONE KNOWS HOW TO CHECK THEM
The president's administration is preparing a decree which would detail
how and who should verify information contained in top officials' income
and property declarations, the daily said.
A presidential decree in May obliged top officials to submit income and
property declarations but did not provide a mechanism for checking the
trustworthiness and extent of the declared income figures. No check of
declarations was actually conducted. A special report, submitted by the
presidential administration, only listed the names of officials who
ignored the decree completely and did not submit the declaration.
Reportedly, most of those on the list were fired.
The only top official to suffer from his income declaration was the
former head of the State Property Committee, Alfred Kokh. His huge
advance for a book "Privatization in Russia" became the object of a
criminal lawsuit. Many suspected the money to be a hidden bribe from the
The daily said that according to the law "On the Foundations of State
Service," Kokh should not have received an honorarium for such a book in
any case, because it was directly connected with his responsibilities in
office. If Kokh had written a book about ballet, for instance, it would
be correct. But since he himself headed privatization in Russia, he
should not have cashed in on describing it.
Kokh or his attorney seemed to have overlooked this provision of the
1995 law when preparing his declaration, the daily said. This
demonstrates once again how laws are ignored in Russia.
RUSSIA TODAY Notes:
The decree is part of Yeltsin's effort to root out corruption. However,
critics charg the measure does little good, as there is no corresponding
law to punish those who did not file the documents, or those who
mis-reported income or property.
Russia's Lyubimov still centre-stage at 80
By Gareth Jones
MOSCOW, Oct 13 (Reuters) - Yuri Lyubimov may have just turned 80 but the
grand old man of Russian theatre is still brimming with energy and ideas and
says he has no plans to retire.
``No man who has created his own theatre can ever retire. I love my work,''
he said. ``On my birthday this year, as always, we rehearsed and put on the
premiere of my latest play.''
Lyubimov, whose name was a byword in Soviet times for bold, experimental and
politically-subversive theatre, has become a national icon revered by
Russia's new democratic establishment.
The man once stripped of his citizenship for criticism of the Soviet regime
has had the satisfaction of outliving the Soviet Union -- born a few months
after him in 1917 -- and of being courted by Russia's post-communist leaders.
``Those flowers there are from Boris Nikolayevich (Yeltsin),'' said Lyubimov,
pointing to a huge bouquet with a hand-written birthday greeting from the
``His wife Naina paid me a visit on my birthday, along with (Moscow mayor
Yuri) Luzhkov,'' he beamed.
WALLS OF OFFICE DECORATED WITH GRAFFITI OF THE FAMOUS
Naina Yeltsin had scrawled a message on a wall of Lyubimov's cramped office
in his Theatre on the Taganka, where he has delighted, shocked and provoked
Moscow theatre-goers since 1964.
The graffiti decorating his walls reads like a directory of world culture,
testifying to the breadth and length of Lyubimov's theatrical career. There
are messages scrawled in Japanese, Chinese, Arabic and most of the European
Nobel prize-winning novelist Alexander Solzhenitsyn, German playwright
Heinrich Boell and Russian poet Andrei Voznesensky are among those who have
signed the walls.
``Once again the theatre has been saved,'' reads a message from American
playwright Arthur Miller, written in 1967 during a period of rigid control of
the arts in the Soviet Union.
In a country where heavy vodka drinking and smoking have cut the average life
expectancy for men to just 57, the white-haired, gently-spoken Lyubimov cuts
a picture of ruddy health and irrepressible energy.
His dramatic adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's masterpiece ``The Brothers
Karamazov,'' which premiered on his birthday on September 30, will tour
Ukraine this month -- and he plans to go too.
DOSTOYEVSKY'S NOVELS ARE AN OLD SOURCE OF INSPIRATION
``Unfortunately all the problems touched on by Dostoyevsky have proven
relevant to Russia to this day,'' Lyubimov said in an interview.
``His characters are still alive, they are very typical of Russia. Everywhere
I go in the world -- from England to Japan -- I find an intense interest in
Dostoyevsky's work,'' he added.
``The Brothers Karamazov,'' completed in 1880, is an epic tale of patricide
in which Dostoyevsky explored ideas about God, individual freedom and the
just society, and prophetically anticipated the rise of the totalitarian
state in this century.
It was while on tour in Britain in 1983 with his stage adaptation of another
Dostoyevsky epic, ``Crime and Punishment,'' that Lyubimov fell foul of the
Deprived of his citizenship, Lyubimov spent several years living and working
``The British Home Office (interior ministry) offered me British citizenship
and gave me special protection because the Soviet side was ready to bring me
back by force if necessary or to kidnap my son,'' Lyubimov said.
``You know, the usual nasty things.''
LYUBIMOV BACKS RUSSIA'S DEMOCRATS, LOATHES COMMUNISM
Lyubimov said he turned down the British offer because he feared members of
his family still in the Soviet Union would suffer as a consequence.
Mikhail Gorbachev's democratic reforms allowed Lyubimov to make a hero's
return to the Soviet Union in 1988.
But he has retained close links with Britain, where his son is studying at
Cambridge University, and counts veteran actors such as Sir John Gielgud
among his friends.
Asked about the political situation in Russia, Lyubimov said: ``I
unreservedly support the democratic forces.''
``I am for a healthy pragmatism but one based on spiritual and moral
values,'' he added.
Like countless Russians, his family suffered during Josef Stalin's
dictatorial rule. His grandfather, a wealthy peasant or kulak, was deported
to the Gulag and both his parents served jail sentences for refusing to
co-operate with the authorities.
``I have suffered for three generations from the communists,'' he said,
adding that his memoirs would soon be published.
Lyubimov is not uncritical of the new Russia and readily says the arts,
including his own theatre, are going through a very tough period due to lack
``I can only afford to pay my actors about $200 a month...We get by mainly
thanks to our foreign trips,'' he said, reciting a long list of countries his
troupe has recently visited or plans to visit, ranging from Germany to
DESPITE MONEY WOES, LYUBIMOV HOPEFUL ABOUT FUTURE
``Russians' strong interest in the theatre has been sharply eroded by the
daily struggle to survive and by the corrupting influence of television,''
But he said he did not share the pessimistic views of his friend
Solzhenitsyn, who says Russia's embrace of Western capitalism threatens to
destroy its unique civilisation.
``Russian culture, its intelligentsia has lost a great deal but I think this
is a temporary phenomenon. We are living through another Time of Troubles,''
Lyubimov said, referring to a period of anarchy in Russia in the early 17th
``It will pass, everything will fall into place, the values will remain. We
in our time were also accused of destroying things but there has to be
experimentation, new forms come to the fore,'' he said.
The last few years have been far from trouble-free for Lyubimov, whose
beloved Taganka theatre split down the middle after a bitter dispute with
one-time friend, actor and director Nikolai Gubenko, who was once Gorbachev's
Gubenko set up a rival theatre on the site of the Taganka, called the
Commonwealth of Taganka Actors, but Lyubimov dismisses them as
``communists.'' ``I have nothing to do with them, I consider them thieves,''
Despite the pain of that schism, Lyubimov has pressed ahead with his work.
His part of the Taganka has recently been staging his classic version of
Mikhail Bulgakov's mystical comedy ``The Master and Margarita'' as well as
his productions of Euripides' ``Medea'' and Moliere's ``Tartuffe.''
And Lyubimov has plenty of other plans. He hopes to do a stage version of the
Biblical Book of the Apocalypse and has not abandoned an old ambition of
putting on Shakespeare's historical plays.
``The Lord willing, I intend to work until I drop,'' he said.
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