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Johnson's Russia List
17 October 1997
[Note from David Johnson:
1. AP: Strobe Talbott: Russia Coping With Larger NATO.
2. The Times (UK): Richard Beeston, Communist split after
failure to confront Yeltsin.
3. Reuters: Nemtsov asks Russian Duma: What's wrong with you?
4. Matt Taibbi: response to Fahnestock.
5. Interfax: Zhirinovskiy Proposes Anticrisis Program for
6. Radiostantsiya Ekho Moskvy: Lukin Says US Presence in
7. Vladivostok News: Nonna Chernyakova, Scientists fear cuts.
8. Don Hill (RFE/RL): Western Press Review: Yeltsin Faces Down
9. Reuters: Doctors warn of "From Russia With Love" Epidemic.
10. Komsomolskaya Pravda: More about the Tasks for Kremlin
Powers. (Re Zhukovka).
11. Pravda: Will the "Great Office Revolution" Happen?
12. Smena (St. Petersburg): Communists and Anti-Communists
Unite Near the Finland Station.
13. Sovetskaya Rossiya: Deputies Quiz Chernomyrdin, Chubays on
Budget. (DJ: I'd like to think that at least some of the Western
correspondents covering the current drama actually give some
attention to what members of the Duma say about policy issues.
Or would this be being too respectful of a body "dominated
by communists and crypto-fascists"--words of MSNBC?)]
US: Russia Coping With Larger NATO
By George Gedda
Associated Press Writer
October 16, 1997
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Russia has defied predictions by some critics of NATO
enlargement by accelerating internal reform and expanding cooperation
with the West, a top State Department official said Thursday.
``President Yeltsin has beefed up his government with innovators
committed to economic modernization and integration,'' said Strobe
Talbott, the State Department's second-ranking official.
As NATO enlargement has moved forward, Yeltsin also has made dramatic
progress in reconciling differences with Ukraine, participated in a
Denver summit of leaders of developed countries and advanced Russia's
effort to join the World Trade Organization and other international
bodies, Talbott said.
His remarks were prepared for delivery to the World Affairs Council of
Boston, and copies were made available by the State Department.
Critics of NATO enlargement have argued that the process would
strengthen anti-reform groups in Russia and end Moscow's cooperation
with the West. The next step in the process will occur in December, when
formal invitations will be extended to Hungary, Poland and the Czech
Republic to join.
Talbott noted that 1,400 Russian troops are participating in the
NATO-led Stabilization Force in Bosnia.
He said the Russian troops are under the command of Gen. Anatoly
Glebovich Krivalapov who, during the Cold War, spent much of his career
pointing intercontinental ballistic missiles at American cities.
Nonetheless, Talbott said NATO enlargement bothers many Russians.
``Many Russians still have in mind a Cold War image of NATO,'' he said.
These include Russian reformers, who warn that the process threatens to
strengthen these forces, he added.
But, Talbott said, the United States believes the ``risk is both
exaggerated and manageable.''
He noted that Yeltsin and President Clinton have spent many hours over
the past three years to keep their disagreement on the subject ``within
the bounds of an over-arching cooperative relationship between Russia
and the United States.''
The Times (UK)
October 17 1997
[for personal use only]
Communist split after failure to confront Yeltsin
FROM RICHARD BEESTON
RUSSIA'S once-mighty Communist Party was in disarray yesterday after its
humiliating parliamentary climbdown, the latest in a series of failed
moves to muster a united opposition against the Kremlin.
Despite warnings in past weeks of a "hot autumn" of discontent, when the
Communists and their Nationalist allies vowed to challenge President
Yeltsin's rule, the opposition retreated without firing a shot in the
political season's first engagement.
Although the largest party in the Duma, the lower house of parliament,
the Communists lost their nerve on Wednesday before a motion of no
confidence in the Government which they had earlier proposed. When it
became clear that they would not muster the necessary votes, they
gratefully accepted a compromise from the President.
It now seems doubtful that the motion, in its present form, will be put
to the vote. Many believe the opposition has been cowed by Mr Yeltsin's
threat to call parliamentary elections. The debacle has raised fresh
questions about the lacklustre leadership of Gennadi Zyuganov, who could
face a rebellion by hardliners when the Communists gather for their
Already there are reports of splits among progressive members, who want
the party reformed along the lines of socialist movements in Eastern
Europe, and diehard Soviet fundamentalists who refuse any compromise.
There is also a growing perception that the Communists have been
co-opted by the Government. Gennadi Seleznyov, the Duma's Speaker, is
regarded as having an overly cozy relationship with the Kremlin. Mr
Zyuganov, who daily denounces its economic reform programme, was seen
dining at an exclusive Moscow club with Anatoli Chubais, the deputy
An opinion poll yesterday showed 54 per cent of Russians believe the
country has taken the wrong reform path. However, a weekend poll showed
Mr Zyuganov would win less than 20 per cent of votes in a presidential
Nemtsov asks Russian Duma: What's wrong with you?
MOSCOW, Oct 16 (Reuters) - Russia's First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov
criticised the opposition-dominated parliament on Thursday and said they
should stop carping about the government and get to work.
"What's wrong with them? Why don't they review the budget and the tax code?"
he told Reuters.
On Wednesday the State Duma lower house of parliament debated a motion of
no-confidence in the government but delayed the vote by a week in response to
an appeal for compromise from Prsident Boris Yeltsin.
The motion follows an earlier Duma rejection of the government's draft 1998
budget and a resolution expressing dissatisfaction in the government's
inability to fulfill the 1997 budget because of tax shortfalls.
"What reasons do they have to raise such a question?"
Nemtsov said after taking part in an official ceremony.
"If we don't have money, what can we do?" he said. "They accepted the (1997)
budget, voted for it, we told them the budget wasn't realistic, they voted
for it anyway."
Nemtsov, a 37-year-old former regional governor brought into the government
earlier this year to promote free-market reforms, said the Communist-led
effort was aimed at slowing down efforts to heal the economy.
"The Communists do not need an energetic government. Of course they
understand the number of Communists in the Duma is proportional to the number
of poor in the country," he said.
"As the number of poor nationwide is falling -- our main task is the war on
poverty -- they are losing their position."
From: "Matt Taibbi" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: response to Fahnestock
Date: Thu, 16 Oct 1997 14:33:45 -0700
Dear Mr. Fahnestock,
A couple of things to say in response to your note, which claimed to see
"interesting points on both sides" but criticized only me.
Number one, nowhere did I suggest that the World Bank should give out money
without any conditions whatsoever. A key goal of my article, which everyone
seems to have missed, is that I was trying mainly to point out clear
contradictions in WB claims. The World Bank claims it does not involve
itself in politics; I demonstrated that it does. That is all. I never
anywhere made any suggestions as to what the World Bank should do. Go back
and look. Frankly, I think the world would be better off without the Bank
entirely. I didn't say that in my piece, but it's what I believe. I mention
this to make it clear that I have no suggestions for the Bank whatsoever,
unless it happened to want to self-destruct, in which case I'd have plenty
of ideas on how to do this in such a way that it would provide the most
satsifaction and entertainment for Bank antagonsts.
As for the Bank being a tool for Western capitalist propaganda, you can't
just say, "So what?" The reason is simple: the Bank has the backing it does
because it professes to be an organization dedicated to helping the poor.
It actively propagandizes itself as a necessary institution on the basis of
its "mission" to help save the "absolute poor." Again, my goal here was to
illustrate Bank hypocrisy. Even you admit it is a tool for Western
capitalist interests, yet it masquerades as an organization that is
supposed to be helping the poor. If those Salvation Army Santas in New York
were actually raising money to pay for golf lessons for the wives of CEOs,
I'm sure you would find that relevant-- and wouldn't say "So what?"
Thirdly, I still haven't heard a single Bank apologist explain or justify
the practice of risk-free multi-billiondollar profits. And when you say
that the bank is acting in "our" interests, and that it is desirable to
have "our SOBs" at the helm, you're assuming that the Bank's vision of
economics is exactly our own and that their policies benefit all Western
peoples. If this type of Realpolitik version of the Bank's activities were
true, I would probably support it. But the truth is the Bank's vision of
global economics affects people in our own countries differently. Certainly
GM workers who've lost jobs to factory movements overseas would have a
problem with Bank policies. In fact, its ultraliberatarian economic vision
would be a sticking point with a lot of Americans who've seen their job
security and their social services decrease over the years. The Bank's
message of austerity, which it professes as it makes billion-dollar
profits, almost exactly mirrors the psychology of American corporate
leaders who announce layoffs after record profits. It's a global problem
and when we allow Russia to get screwed by con artists like the Bank, we're
saying we won't put up a fight when it happens to us, too.
As for my use of language, you seem to forget that I don't write
exclusively for the Johnson's list. My newspaper, the eXile, has exactly
that small, specific audience you're talking about. If I were after "mass
persuasion," I might have stayed at that dead, soulless publication I used
to work for, the Moscow Times, which allowed me to be publicly
"respectable." My reporting is subjective, but my readers at least know
where I'm coming from, which they wouldn't if I were still writing j-school
"pyramid" leads and quoting analysts instead of saying what I think
directly. And while no one ever accused Hunter Thompson of being faithful
to the cause of journalistic veracity, it's just silly to say that he and
Wolfe et al do not have debate as their aim. I can't think of anyone who
campigned more relentlessly and persuasively against the policies of
Richard Nixon than Thomspon. His "Fear and Loathing" On the Campaign Trail
'72" was, no matter what you think of the opinions it expressed, certainly
a passionate piece of political reporting. Sure, his aim was catharsis when
he used strong language. It's what you'd expect from a human being who
writes about things which make him angry. Writers like Thomspon and Wolfe
are, to me, more persuasive than the stodgy old hacks in the New York Times
or the Washington Post. They allow me to see politics through the prism of
their characters-- a human understanding of things, as opposed to the
technocratic regurgitations of everyday straight-news reporters. In any
case, if I were interested in the kind of "rational debate" you're talking
about, I'd have become a lawyer, in which case I'd be trying to figure out
a way to sue the World Bank, not write about it.
This is the last thing I have to say on the subject, but I have to confess
that I would never have guessed that so many Bank apologists-- would-be
liberatarians-- would raise such a stink over someone using the word "fuck"
in his own newspaper. And I'm amazed that this drew so many more comments
than Mr. Bain's decision to call me a communist. I've always been bored by
all of those battles between Howard Stern and the FCC, but I'm frankly
shocked now to see JRL readers-- educated people-- in such a twist over
this whole business. I mean, really, folks, this isn't third grade. We
don't have to worry about the teacher overhearing.
Lastly, Mr. Fahenstock, here's what I think of your comment that "you do
whatever you can, however inefficiently and haphazardly. It's called
'life.'" Almost everyone I heard from about this piece said something
similar. My feeling is that when you start accepting "inefficiencies" ahead
of time, you deserve what you get. You think the Bank should be allowed to
keep up its billion-dollar scam because its overall effect is good, much
the way so many people here support Anatoly Chubais despite his numerous
reported improprieties, believing that his "end aim" is good. I wish you
all luck. You know the saying: When you lie down with dogs, you wake up
with fleas. If these people are dirty and you don't care, you don't deserve
"clean" government yourself.
Zhirinovskiy Proposes Anticrisis Program for Russia
Moscow, Oct 13 (Interfax) -- Vladimir Zhirinovskiy, leader of the LDPR
Duma faction, proposes his own program of taking Russia out of the crisis.
A new administrative division of the Russian Federation in 20-30
regions will do away with national animosity in the country, Zhirinovskiy
said introducing the 10-point program at the International Press Center
Monday. The program's second point stipulates "a universal economic
amnesty." Up to $400 billion have been taken abroad from Russia,
A strict state monopoly must be imposed "on alcohol, tobacco and
sugar. New technologies are to be supported in every way," he said.
The program proposes reducing food imports, increasing arms exports
along with strengthening defense and law enforcement agencies. "Then we
will live in a sanatorium for two years," he said.
The economic part of the program includes "guarantees for bank
accounts resulting in $60 billion-$80 billion currently held by the
citizens, changes in the taxation system." Taxes must be collected after
the manufacturer sold the product, Zhirinovskiy said.
The only foreign policy point of the program envisages restoring ties
with the former allies, including the Eastern Europe.
Lukin Says US Presence in Europe 'Positive'
Radiostantsiya Ekho Moskvy
October 10, 1997
[translation for personal use only]
[Announcer Vladimir Varfolomeyev]
We continue our evening news channel and I welcome our guest today,
Vladimir Petrovich Lukin, Chairman of the State Duma Committee on
International Affairs. Good evening.
[Lukin] Thank you. Good evening.
[Varfolomeyev] The Ekho Moskvy observer Aleksey Venediktov will be
taking part in the interview. [passage omitted: Lukin is interviewed on
Yeltsin's remarks on antipersonnel mines and approves of Russia joining the
[Venediktov] Vladimir Petrovich, there is a point I want to make. The
President's pronouncements recently have frequently taken a turn that is,
if not outright anti-American, then at least against America. Sometimes
you do not know whether he is joking or not, but is it quite evident that
in Strasbourg today, Strasbourg yesterday and today, he has said several
times that we in Europe are one big family and do not need outsiders.
[passage omitted: on plans for German-Franco-Russian meeting] What do you
think about what may be a slight external change to the effect that the
main partner for Russia, whether partner or counterweight, whatever, would
be a united Europe rather than the States?
[Lukin] I do not think that it is a realistic plan for a united Europe
to confront the United States in the near future and I do not think that
this would be a positive plan, either for us or the rest of Europe or the
United States. In any case I am no supporter of a Europe without frontiers
being a Europe with a rigid frontier, whatever form it might take, against
the United States. This is both unrealistic, I repeat, and unprofitable.
You know, various new configurations have been appearing within Europe
itself since the Cold War period. Europe has many problems and one of them
is that of a united Germany. You are aware of the historical genetic code
of a Germany when it unites. I hope that it will not be like that.
However, as they say, trust but check, as Reagan said to us, and his
is the wording and the slant on this phrase. So I think that an American
presence in Europe for quite a considerable period of time yet is a factor
that is beneficial to Europe and a factor that is beneficial to Russia.
This factor makes the various intra-European combinations more workable.
Another aspect is that economically and culturally Russia is to a
certain extent closer to Europe, if one refers to a Europe not just of a
few Western countries, but with Eastern Europe as well and so on. Here we
need to continue uniting, harmonizing, and removing frontiers of various
types, but not to the detriment of the United States.
Perhaps it was just rhetoric, but this rhetoric was in response to the
Americans' extremely absurd and counterproductive rhetoric about the
unipolar world and to the effect that there is no one in the world except
America, and suchlike things. This silly sort of rhetoric always gives
rise to a sort of psychological coalition in antipathy to it. Boris
Nikolayevich is very keen-nosed and he obviously began to sense things
going this way and decided to play on it a little.
This is natural and he is not the only one to do it. Chirac, for
instance, does it and so do a number of other leaders, though in a less
strongly articulated fashion. As regards the actual content, of course,
the Americans should give up acting so foolishly and Europe should realize
that the American factor is a positive one. [passage omitted: Lukin
discusses the transfer of prisons to the Ministry of Justice - 4 minutes;
after a break for news Lukin is asked to comment on highlights from
Yeltsin's speech in Strasbourg and approves Yeltsin's remarks on Europe
without demarcation, Russia fulfilling obligations, and the death penalty]
October 16, 1997
Scientists fear cuts
By Nonna Chernyakova
For the first time in 275 years, the government will decide how to
restructure Russia’s Academy of Sciences and which institutions to close
under a decree to take effect in 1998.
“Nobody ever changed the structure of the academy: neither the tsars,
nor even the Soviet powers,” said Georgy Yelyakov, president of the Far
Eastern Division of Russia’s Academy of Sciences. “The academy always
lived according to its own charters.”
The charters call for the academy itself, not the government, to decide
which institutes would be funded.
Following a government federal decree issued in August 1997, the academy
just submitted its suggestions on which scientific organizations should
be fully financed by the government, which should be funded from a
region’s budget, and which should be closed. But the government will
make the final decision.
One problem is that government bureaucrats aren’t necessarily qualified
to make decisions about science, said Anatoly Kalyagin, a researcher at
the Pacific Oceanological Institute. Some scientists who don’t seem
productive may actually be working on significant research.
“All those reforms are designed to annihilate our achievements,”
Yelyakov said the goal of restructuring is to save money in order to
increase salaries for the staff (the average is 500,000 rubles, or $85 a
month) and for scientific equipment and materials.
The academy has recommended relatively small changes in its Far Eastern
Division. It involves unification of the Institute of Volcanic Geology
and Geochemistry with the Scientific Geotechnological Center in
Said Boris Ivanov, director of the institute, “It’s a positive event,
because under current circumstances there’s no other way out of the
The Institute of Ecology and Natural Resources in Kamchatka will become
a branch of Institute of Geography in Vladivostok. In Sakhalin, the
Institute of Marine Geology and Geophysics will unite in one complex
with an institute that designs scientific equipment.
The regional center in Chukotka and international center Antarctica will
become branches of the Northeast Institute.
All 14 institutes located in Vladivostok will be preserved. But the
problem of botanical gardens and natural reserves is still being
Yelyakov and members of the Presidium of the Far Eastern Division do not
think the restructuring is necessary, since the staff is reducing
naturally anyway. From 12,000 in 1992 it has declined to 7,000 people in
the Far East.
As compared to 1992, financing is one seventh the 1992 level in the Far
East. Nationwide, the budget is a 22nd of what it was.
Western Press Review: Yeltsin Faces Down Ex-communist Opposition
By Don Hill
Prague, 16 October 1997 (RFE/RL) -- The Wall Street Journal Europe
characterizes with a quip today the key factor in Russian President Boris
Yeltsin's apparent victory yesterday over opponents in the State Duma: The
newspaper says in an editorial: "As it turns out, elections are to today's
Communists what garlic is to Dracula."
TIMES: President Yeltsin offered an olive branch to opposition leaders
Reporting from Moscow Richard Beeston describes the confrontation and its
immediate outcome as follows: "President Yeltsin intervened last night to
head off a bruising confrontation with parliament. He offered an olive
branch to opposition leaders, who promptly postponed their vote of no
confidence in the government. After a day of frantic behind-the-scenes
negotiations between government officials and members of the Duma, the lower
house of parliament, deputies voted to put off the motion until next Wednesday."
NEW YORK TIMES: Polls suggest that the Communists would be the biggest losers
In an analysis from Moscow Alessandra Stanley says today that Yeltsin's
winning tactic was to hint at early elections, which the communist
opposition believes would cost it seats in the Duma.
She writes: "By dropping another hint that he would dissolve parliament
and call early elections if a no-confidence measure went through, Yeltsin
was reminding his opponents that a no-confidence vote could prove just as
problematic for the Communist Party that sponsored it as for the
administration. Polls suggest that the Communists would be the biggest
losers if new elections are held now. The Communists, who hold the majority
in the lower house of Parliament, failed to form a coalition with other
factions big enough to gather sufficient votes for a no-confidence motion
Wednesday night, and instead the Duma passed a resolution to delay a
no-confidence vote until next week."
But an anti-government vote would have hurt Yeltsin's government also,
she says. Stanley writes: "If passed, the no-confidence measure would
undoubtedly have dealt a severe blow to the government's plans to trim the
budget and broaden economic reform; and the political uncertainty,
potentially destabilizing in Russia's young democracy, could have damaged
severely Russia's fragile economy."
Even with his deft disarming of the facedown, Yeltsin can expect
difficulties ahead, she says: "Negotiations over the 1998 budget and a new
tax code are not necessarily going to be smooth. Parliament has already put
forward 500 amendments to the government's draft tax code. The government's
plan for the 1998 budget calls for more of the deep cuts in military
spending and subsidies to industry and agriculture that parliament refused
to approve in 1997."
DAILY TELEGRAPH: Vladimir Zhirinovsky warned the deputies that they were
Alan Philps writes from Moscow that Yeltsin's soft words yesterday
reminded deputies that he once wielded a memorable stick. Philps says: "The
president's intervention took the steam out of the opposition. (The Duma)
voted to postpone debate on the no-confidence motion for a week."
The writer says: "Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the ultranationalist leader, who
opposed the no-confidence vote, warned the deputies that they were
committing suicide. Every member of the Duma remembers that Mr. Yeltsin,
faced with an unruly chamber in 1993, sent in the tanks to reduce it to rubble."
NEWSDAY: Yeltsin played all the cards at his disposal
Susan Sachs also recalls the 1993 mini-insurrection in analysis today.
She writes in the U.S. newspaper: "Although the opposition forces in the
Duma have the votes to bring down the government -- and create Russia's
biggest political crisis since the parliament was bombed into submission in
1993 -- they not only squabbled fatally among themselves but also were out
maneuvered by Yeltsin and his aides."
Sachs writes: "Yeltsin, reinforced by a constitution that gives him
autocratic powers over a weak parliament, played all the cards at his
disposal. First, he made explicit threats to dissolve the Duma. (And,
second), his prime minister, (Viktor) Chernomyrdin, surprised the deputies
by announcing he would immediately resign if the no-confidence motion
passed. (finally), Yeltsin intervened personally during the Duma debate,
phoning in a plea -- 'for the sake of calm' -- to call off the planned vote."
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Communists appeared to be suffering from political cold feet
Colin McMahon comments on yesterday's developments when he says: "A week
ago, the Communists who dominate the Duma were predicting a landslide
condemnation of the (Chernomyrdin) government. But momentum soon began to
shift, and by (yesterday) evening those same Communists appeared to be
suffering from political cold feet. Rather than risk a defeat that seemed
increasingly likely, they pushed through a delay of the no-confidence vote.
Now scheduled for next Wednesday, it may wind up being cast aside
altogether. The delay constitutes a victory for the government, which played
good cop-bad cop with the Duma as the vote approached."
WALL STREET JOURNAL: Maneuvers show the extremes of Russian politics
In an analysis today Steve Liesman says that yesterday's maneuvers
showed up what he calls "the extremes of Russian politics, which range from
revanchist communism to no-holds-barred market reforms." Liesman writes:
"The Communist Party, the dominant faction in the Duma, found itself lacking
the support from the only other faction that opposes the government
outright, the liberal Yabloko Party." The Yabloko Party opposes the
government, not as do the Communists for its reforms, but for insufficient
reform, Liesman said.
In its accompanying editorial the paper writes that the communist
Dracula is recoiling from the election garlic in Italy as well as in Russia,
with the same instructive effect. The newspaper says: "Surely the lesson
here is that there is little to be gained from capitulating to politicians
who have good reason to fear being tested once more at the ballot box."
Doctors warn of "From Russia With Love" Epidemic
October 16, 1997
LONDON (Reuters) - British doctors, concerned that an epidemic of syphilis
in the former Soviet Union might be spreading to other parts of Europe,
called for greater vigilance in detecting early signs of the venereal disease.
In a letter to the British Medical Journal, Patrick French and Jane
Deayton, specialists in genitourinary medicine, said just over half of cases
of the contagious disease diagnosed in Britain had come from abroad.
'`The Public Health Laboratory Service has recorded that, since routine
reference laboratory reporting of syphilis began in April, 1994, the disease
was acquired abroad in 48 of 87 cases. Of these, the largest proportion were
acquired in Eastern Europe,'' they said.
Cases of syphilis have jumped 15-fold in adults and 20-fold in children
in the former Soviet Union since 1990. Child prostitution, the growth of the
sex industry, poor diagnostic facilities and an increase in refugees are the
major reasons for the growing epidemic.
Finland, which borders on Russia, has reported a rise in syphilis cases
since 1990 and several patients who caught the disease from Russian partners
have been treated in British clinics.
``These results show that a substantial proportion of cases of
syphilis...can be attributed to the epidemic in Russia,'' the doctors said.
They urged doctors to be aware of the early signs of the disease,
particularly in people who have had sexual contacts in the former Soviet Union.
They said they feared that because the disease had been decreasing since
the 1980s doctors could easily miss new cases.
>From Russia Today press summaries
15 October 1997
More about the Tasks for Kremlin Powers
The daily wrote about Zhukovka, an elite area near Moscow which used to
belong to Communist Party's political bureau in Soviet times. It now
belongs to the presidential office.
Land there is worth $15,000 to $20,000 per one hundredth of a hectare,
the daily wrote.
Prestigious land and houses, however, have been sold to state officials
for pennies. Former Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, for example,
purchased prime property there for the price of a studio apartment in a
Moscow suburb. Presidential advisors Kostikov, Ryrikov and Pikhoya also
paid next to nothing for their houses -- about $2,000 each -- while the
actual price is at least one hundred times higher.
The modest manager of the Zhukovka area, whose salary hardly exceeds 1
million rubles per month (about $170), built a large villa there for
himself and appears to own another in Spain.
Some valuables have gone missing from the dachas of former Politburo
members, which include paintings by famous Russian artists as well as
porcelain and silverware brought back after World War II.
In order to fight corruption, the daily said, the Kremlin powers should
not have gone as far as Leninsk-Kuznetsky, whose mayor the whole country
has been watching on television for weeks.
Better examples of the same evil can be found much closer, said the
daily -- around the presidential area itself.
RUSSIA TODAY Notes:
Zhukovka has been a well-known, closed area for many decades. Now,
however, it has lost much of its former reputation, because the
population has become mixed -- members of the government and
presidential administration live intermixed with bankers, while nearby
top criminals can be found enjoying luxuries previously accessible to
Communist leaders alone. President Yeltsin has declared a war on
corruption among government officials. A federal commission has been
investigating the mayor of Leninsk-Kuznetsky, who media reports alleged
came into office this year despite three criminal convictions.
>From Russia Today press summaries
16 October 1997
Will the "Great Office Revolution" Happen?
The daily is indignant at the Communist Duma faction for its policies of
appeasement of Prime Minister Victor Chernomyrdin's government.
It wrote that the course of reforms which Chernomyrdin has conducted for
five years is responsible for all the hardships Russian society is facing.
Nevertheless, the initiators of the no-confidence vote are only unhappy
with Chernomyrdin's young deputies, Anatoly Chubais and Boris Nemtsov.
According to the constitution, however, they can only express no-confidence
to the prime minister.
Chernomyrdin deserves dismissal no less than the "young reformists,"
according to the daily. He was not there to speak against Chubais's draft
tax code, which is profitable for U.S. businesses. He was not there when
the budget was sequestered, although it was the same budget that
Chernomyrdin had thrust on the Duma previously.
The daily wrote that the real reason why the Communists initiated the
no-confidence vote was that the deputies are so compromised by their
collaboration with the government that they cannot rehabilitate themselves
in any other way.
>From Russia Today press summaries
Smena (St. Petersburg)
16 October 1997
Communists and Anti-Communists Unite Near the Finland Station;
A New Political Party is Created
Russia's latest political party has been created in St. Petersburg.
Known as The New Way of Russia, the daily said it is lead by the odious
extremist Vyacheslav Marichev. The party includes a motley collection of the
city's most extreme parties -- the local branch of Victor Anpilov's Working
Russia, the National Bolshevik Party, The Russian Party, and the
Anti-Communist People's Party. The Barkashovtsi were "afraid" to join this
group, the daily added.
The founding of the party took place at a restaurant near the Finland
Station. Unlike Lenin's arrival at the station in April 1917 in a sealed
train, Marichev remarked that all the members had arrived there in an open
and free way.
The New Way of Russia party saved its most severe criticism for the
"official opposition"--- ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal
Democratic Party of Russia and Gennady Zuganov's Communist Party, as well as
Aleksander Lebed's Dignity and Motherland political movement.
The New Way of Russia says that all these parties are working not to
stabilize society but to divide it. They also partly bear responsibility for
the fall of the USSR, representatives said.
Marichev promised "not to kill one Jew in Russia" but nevertheless said
it is necessary to answer the Jews' attack on the country. "We must be
smarter than the Jews," he told his followers.
Deputies Quiz Chernomyrdin, Chubays on Budget
October 11, 1997
[translation for personal use only]
Unattributed Report: "Explanations in the Duma: Eye to Eye"
[passage omitted] Now we offer for our readers' attention some
extracts from the transcript of that part of the Duma debate which Russian
television was supposed to have shown (but did not): For one hour
Chernomyrdin and Chubays answered deputies' questions which were in fact
like hockey penalty shots which produced a goal against the government each
Should the North Get Excited Over a "Threesome"?! [subhead]
Yu.A. Guskov: I have a question for Viktor Stepanovich Chernomyrdin.
Esteemed Viktor Chernomyrdin, we State Duma deputies
-- those from the north, of course -- are mainly worried about the
northern aspect of the proposed budget and all its attendant
S. Chernomyrdin: I have to say that this question is correct and
in fact it worries us all, particularly those people from the north. You
know that the budget, as I have already said, envisaged a figure of 3.5
trillion. In this period, that is, the first nine months, a figure of
around 2.6-2.7 trillion has been funded (including offsets [perezachet]),
the minister is here, he can tell you.... I cannot tell you now that we
will be able to increase the figure this year beyond what was planned. But
the figure given there -- 3.5 trillion -- this is the area we are working
in. And I believe that this will be achieved.
G. Misnik: Esteemed Viktor Chernomyrdin, given the understanding of
the North's problems about which you spoke in the report, does it mean that
the budget headings for northern shipments have completely disappeared from
the draft budget, that housing subsidies for northerners have disappeared
completely, that the "Own Home" program for the construction of housing for
northerners have completely disappeared, and so forth?...
S. Chernomyrdin: Indeed, some budget headings on the north have
disappeared. Probably some thought should be given to this. Probably there
are things that need to be put right -- I agree. You cannot apply a common
yardstick to northerners. This would be wrong, this is unjust. This is
all too serious, too complex -- everything relating to work in the
Editor's note: In fact, according to press reports 2.1 trillion
rubles [R] (52.6 percent) of the R3.5 trillion for "northerners" has been
Should We Buy Grain "From A Mad Cow"?! [Subhead]
A. Ponomarev: Viktor Stepanovich, there can be no question of any
stabilization in agriculture at the moment. In the first nine months of
this year there was a slump of around 9 percent. Even in this year with
its abundant harvest -- thanks to the good weather, of course! -- the gross
grain harvest will be around 80-84 million tonnes, or 20-25 million tonnes
less than the average annual grain yield in Russia in the 13th 5-Year Plan.
My question is this: Why has the budget expenditure section been
fulfilled by 71.2 percent across the country as a whole in the first nine
months of this year but only 51.2 percent in the agro-industrial
S. Chernomyrdin: Of course. Yes, 95 percent fulfillment in such a
year. This is quite a lot. The basic percentage. Well I do not know,
well, let us check the figures...
Voice from Hall: Is the allocation of resources less for some reason?
S. Chernomyrdin: Well, as for the allocation of resources.... The
allocation of resources -- well, how can it be recalculated? If a fund
makes money I believe that it should and will make money. I believe that
these resources that the agrarian complex received in past years will be
repaid. All these funds will be used as intended, of course: They will
not be spent on the budget or other aims....
Editor's note: Among the premier's pearls of wisdom at the
parliamentary hearings the Moscow Times highlighted the following
revelation: "We will not buy grain, especially not from a 'mad cow'." As
for Yeltsin's cheerful statements in connection with the present harvest:
"Let us begin to restore the glory of a great grain power. This year it
will be possible to sell around 10 million tonnes" -- Western experts note
that grain losses alone resulting from the shortage of equipment could
exceed the increase of a good harvest year!
Why Have Trillions Been Thrown Away to the West?! [subhead]
Grechishnikov: Esteemed Viktor Stepanovich, you proudly stated (I
quote you): "We will reduce the size of other countries' debt to Russia
through joining the Paris Club." I have a question: Why did it not occur
to you at the time to ask parliament's agreement because Russia will, to
put it mildly, lose trillions in such conditions, will it not?! And a
question for Chubays: Anatoliy Borisovich, the authorities have recently
been making attempts to somehow.... Anatoliy Borisovich, I appeal to
you... these attempts somehow to instill order in the fight against
corruption in the upper echelons of power.... This is the business of
Sobchak, the business of your friend Kokh. The newspaper Moskovskiy
Komsomolets today describes corrupt actions by a recent Chernomyrdin aide
-- Koshel.... I have a question for you in this regard: The mass media,
which you are in charge of, are applying very strong pressure, and you,
personally.... How do you intend to fight corruption?!
S. Chernomyrdin: As regards the first question -- regarding the
Paris Club and debts, and the fact that we proudly made the decision of
which I spoke: We did send our proposals here, to the State Duma. It is
possible, of course, to speak about debts without pride. But what would be
the point? No one is repaying us anything, no one is letting us in or
giving us access, are they?....
B. Chubays: I did not perhaps fully understand the complexly worded
question about influencing corruption via the press and the pressure being
applied in this regard. There is plenty of pressure here -- you can read
another article about it every day. In general, certainly, this is natural
for the press. And in this regard we in government (and I as the person in
charge of this sphere) do not set the task of banning or authorizing,
particularly as we are convinced that if you are talking about fighting
corruption in earnest, it is to be gauged not by the number of articles
published in newspapers but by measures which work at cutting away the
economic roots of corruption....
F. Potapenko: Do you agree with the facts as laid out in the newspaper
Moskovskiy Komsomolets? Take the article entitled "Corruption in the Upper
Echelons of Power" which has appeared today....
S. Chernomyrdin: First, I do not read this newspaper! (Applause.)
Second, I have actually been told what is going on.... I can say that all
this is obscurantism, which develops, takes hold of people, and picks them
off one by one.... Regrettably, I am sorry for this guy...my aide. I did
indeed dismiss him right after this fact was brought to my attention by
this agency.... But now I regret it. Then there was an investigation....
And there was no corruption. It was simply necessary to "attack"
Chernomyrdin in some way. They all sneaked up on me from all sides.
Editorial Note. S. Glazyev compared the Russian leadership with the
officials and oligarchy in underdeveloped African countries: "Even in terms
of lifestyle -- kitting out their family homes and educating their children
abroad, keeping savings in foreign bank accounts, etc. -- the new Russian
oligarchy differs little from similar corrupt regimes in underdeveloped
countries." Is that not why, incidentally, Yeltsin's annual campaigns "to
step up the fight against corruption" like the high-profile newspaper
sensations involving the dissemination of compromising material are no more
than rending the air?!
People Are Dying...As a Result of the "Continual Improvement in Their
M. Gudima: Esteemed Viktor Stepanovich, you are evidently also
alarmed that highly dangerous trends are still developing wholesale in the
country. I am referring to the fact that the death rate exceeds the birth
rate. I am referring to the massive offensive on all basic civic rights.
We are now seeing the latest onslaught on citizens' right to education. I
am referring to the increase in the number of unprotected, abandoned
children -- they are mushrooming. Orphanages and children's homes are
increasing without war and without disaster!
In this connection do you not think that mistakes are being made not
in individual cases and events but in terms of the very essence of the
policy being pursued? Six months ago this was discussed by the Federation
Council. We are all familiar with this discussion, with its stenographic
record. What conclusions is the government drawing?
S. Chernomyrdin: First and foremost, I must say that there is a
report here on the death rate. It has, regrettably, been increasing not
just in the past two, three, or even five years. It began increasing in
early 1990. And that is not the result of 1990 even. We objectively
arrived at a situation where the death rate began rising in 1990. That is
the first point. Second, the death rate does not exceed the birth rate, it
is falling. Consequently, I am unable and do not have the right to say
that this is great, that we have already gone a long way here. That is the
second point. Third, let me talk about the course now being carried out by
the government. We have already spoken about this subject on several
occasions. The course that the country's leadership, the government, and
the president have chosen today... I consider this the correct
Kosheva: Viktor Stepanovich, today you have once again urged us to
accord. My voters and I personally will never flock to your banner since
we are confident that you and your NDR associates have reduced our
motherland to this state. Could you answer the following question, please:
Do you, a former Soviet leader, not realize that only a change in the
economic and social course that you have taken can bring the people to
S. Chernomyrdin: As a former Soviet economic leader, I am
confident that the course which the country, Russia, is taking today can do
that. But as for the course that we took for 70 years.... Yes we did. And
I am not someone who did not take part in the processes. I certainly did
take part. Incidentally, I experienced everything. And as someone who
realizes where this got us I am convinced that there can be no other
course.... [passage omitted]