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This Date's Issues: 1294 •1295
Johnson's Russia List
19 October 1997
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Segodnya: The Kremlin Impedes Ratification of Disarmament
Treaties. THE WORSE THE DUMA APPEARS IN THE EYES OF THE WEST,
THE BETTER BORIS YELTSIN AND HIS GOVERNMENT LOOK. (DJ: Amen).
2. Reuters: Russian woman wins prize for Zhirinovsky "ditty."
(DJ: Zhiri items are the National Enquirer of JRL).
3. The Electronic Telegraph (UK): James Hunter, Babies-for-sale
trail leads from Russia to West. (DJ: The export trade in
white babies is a touchstone of the New Russia's relationship
with the West).
4. Reuters: Communists seek to keep pressure on Kremlin.
(DJ: Can we use the word "communist" with reference with today's
Russia without confusing ourselves? What is a communist?)
5. The Sunday Times (UK): Mark Franchetti, Inside Moscow.
("Boom quickly turns to bust for Chernomyrdin...")
6. Toronto Sun: Matthew Fisher on the myth and reality of
Nizhny Novgorod. (DJ: Are "young reformers" really better,
or just the beneficiaries of better PR?)
7. G.F. Bain: Taibbi again and last.
8. Albert Weeks: Zamyatin.
9. Interfax-Argumenty i Fakty: CRIME CHANGES QUALITATIVELY,
STRUCTURALLY by Deputy premier and interior minister Anatoly
10. Segodnya: PRESIDENTIAL ADMINISTRATION IS NOTHING LIKE THE
OLD PARTY STAFF. Interview with Sergei Prikhodko, presidential
assistant responsible for international affairs.
11. Segodnya: Slums at the Walls of the Kremlin.
12. Pravda: Nazdratenko Accuses Chubais.]
>From Russia Today press summaries
17 October 1997
The Kremlin Impedes Ratification of Disarmament Treaties
THE WORSE THE DUMA APPEARS IN THE EYES OF THE WEST,
THE BETTER BORIS YELTSIN AND HIS GOVERNMENT LOOK
The Duma has not yet ratified a single treaty on disarmament, including
the convention on chemical weapons ban, the START-2 or the "open skies" treaty.
The whole process of mutual reduction and liquidation of weapons has been
frozen, said the daily, and the West views the Duma as a most conservative
structure, which wants to keep offensive weapons inherited from the Soviet
The Duma serves as a backdrop which improves the appearance of the
president and the government. Non-ratification of the treaties suits the
Kremlin fine, the daily said. The author recalled attempts by Foreign
Minister Yevgeny Primakov and Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev to lobby for
the START-2 in the Duma, which were so awkward that they achieved the
And this week, presidential representative to the Duma Aleksander
Kotenkov did not permit the Duma to approve the law on the ratification of
the chemical weapons ban. This was done on formal pretexts, but the author
wrote that the delay on ratification was intentional.
On the whole, concluded the daily, the Duma is ready to ratify the
chemical weapons convention, but this would have been unprofitable for the
Kremlin at the moment.
Russian woman wins prize for Zhirinovsky "ditty"
MOSCOW, Oct 18 (Reuters) - A Russian woman won $10 and a three-volume
collection of Vladimir Zhirinovsky's works for composing what Itar-Tass news
agency described on Saturday as the ``best ditty'' about the fiery
It said Nadezhda Strelnikova of Lgov in western Russia won the prizes in a
competition organised by the local branch of Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic
Party of Russia (LDPR) with the following minimalist verse:
Zhirinovsky, him I know
I'll sign up with the LDPR
He has promised us to show
How to rebuild the USSR.
The Electronic Telegraph (UK)
19 October 1997
[for personal use only]
Babies-for-sale trail leads from Russia to West
By James Hunter in Moscow
THE discovery of a baby-selling racket in the Russian city of Nizhny
Novgorod has triggered an investigation into whether infants have been
sold to wealthy childless couples in the West.
Police now believe that up to 100 babies may have disappeared from
hospitals. They fear that several dozen could have been sold abroad from
Nizhny Novgorod, an industrial city east of Moscow. Hospital records
before 1992 have been destroyed and the police now acknowledge that they
will never know the true scale of the scandal.
They suspect that Lyudmila Mukhina, a lawyer, and her alleged
accomplice, Alla Praprina, may have been selling children even before
the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991. "These were all babies whose
mothers did not want to keep them," said Anatoly Kovalyov, the police
officer leading the investigation. "In the normal way they should have
gone for legal adoption or to state orphanages. In fact, Mukhina sold
them all over the former Soviet Union - to Ukraine, Vladivostok, St
Petersburg and many cities. We are also now investigating to see if any
of them went abroad to the West, possibly through middlemen, though
tracing this is extremely complex."
Mrs Mukhina, 49, and her alleged accomplice are accused of abusing their
positions as hospital lawyers to forge birth records, inserting the
names of the "new" parents instead of the real ones. They face up to 10
years in labour camp. Mrs Mukhina's activities came to light in a police
"sting" operation after a woman seeking to adopt a child legally was
told to bring 2.5 million roubles (about £280) to the lawyer's flat to
pay for the baby.
The woman went to the police, who told her to go ahead with the deal, at
which point Mrs Mukhina was arrested. She is refusing to co-operate in
tracking down 27 children still unaccounted for; 63 have been traced
already. "I can't remember the details," she told police in Niznhy
Novgorod, which was called Gorky in Soviet times.
Mrs Mukhina strongly denies wrongdoing, claiming that her motives were
honest. "I was doing what the state should have been doing, finding good
homes for unwanted babies," she told her lawyer.
The fear in Russia now is that similar rackets may be commonplace in
maternity hospitals where staff often wait months for their pay. Mr
Kovalyov acknowledged that loose laws and confusion over procedures
helped Mrs Mukhina to operate undetected for years. "The doctors all
thought she was acting legally."
Mrs Mukhina's lawyer, Lyudmila Tyugina, blamed legal chaos in Russia for
the ease with which children can be sold abroad. "The lack of
regulations in Russia about adoptions means it is perfectly possible
this kind of thing happened elsewhere and has not been discovered," she
said. The problem was made worse by "a lack of interest by the
authorities in these unwanted babies".
The most infamous case of baby-selling in the former Soviet Union
involved the disappearance of up to 800 babies from the Ukrainian city
of Lvov. Reports suggest that some were sold to America for as much as
In Lvov, a ring of doctors and senior city officials was responsible for
the trafficking. They were given only suspended sentences in a trial
that ended this summer. The tragedy of child-selling makes a mockery of
President Boris Yeltsin's stated aim of putting the welfare of children
at the top of the Kremlin's political agenda.
Police chasing up "Baby for sale" or "Baby wanted" advertisements in
newspapers find their trail leading to inadequate, often drunken parents
who have no money and do not understand the consequences of their
There have been reports of gypsies touring impoverished villages to
offer parents cash for their children. In the northern city of
Petrozavodsk, a mother sold her five-month-old girl to a gypsy woman for
230,800 roubles (about £25).
Poverty lies behind other tales of tragic separation. "I had five
children - too many mouths to feed," said one mother. "It was painful
but I knew my third son would have a better life in a family where he
was the only child."
Russia's crowded orphanages bear terrible testimony to the huge number
of children rejected by their parents. A recent survey estimates that
533,000 children are orphaned or have parents who do not or cannot care
for them. Another study puts the number of homeless children at two
The plight of the unwanted children - abandoned at birth or left to roam
city streets - grows ever more desperate. Legal adoption by foreigners
is rising but only slightly. Legal adoption by Russian parents fell
between 1992 and 1995.
Communists seek to keep pressure on Kremlin
By Martin Nesirky
MOSCOW, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Russia's Communist Party, volleying the ball back
into President Boris Yeltsin's court, vowed on Saturday to wait for a reply
to their demands before deciding whether to scrap a no-confidence vote in his
Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov told a news conference after a day-long
secret meeting that party delegates fully backed his decision to postpone
last Wednesday's planned no-confidence vote for a week and seek concessions
``The plenum considered it right that the (parliamentary) faction and its
allies took a week's break,'' the 53-year-old party chief said.
``The plenum instructed the faction to return to the question of the vote
after having received an official response from the president and the
government to the issues raised by us.''
Zyuganov, who said his parliamentary group and leadership now had a
carte-blanche to decide whether to press ahead with the vote, reiterated the
demands, which included a two-year freeze on rent increases and opposition
airtime across the country.
``On Monday there will the meeting of the four and on Tuesday we expect to
have the reply,'' Zyuganov said.
He was referring to Monday's scheduled meeting of Yeltsin, Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin and the speakers of the two houses of parliament.
They are expected to set a schedule for broader ``round table'' talks, a
Communist-inspired forum offered by the government as a concession to the
party, which is seeking to soften the impact of reforms.
No one was available for comment at the Kremlin or government headquarters on
Saturday. But at least one cabinet member has said the demands are broadly
If the State Duma lower house votes no confidence in the government twice in
three months, the president is forced to dissolve the chamber or dismiss his
Yeltsin has called for compromise and reconciliation -- it was his telephoned
appeal last Wednesday that prompted the Communists to back a postponement to
the vote in the Duma, where the party is the dominant force.
Many economic and political analysts consider the no-confidence vote to be
all but dead in the water anyway and of limited relevance to Russia's
all-important economic reforms.
But Zyuganov made clear his party was prepared to go the whole way, or at
least to keep the pressure on Yeltsin even though political analysts say the
chances of a no-confidence vote being passed once are much reduced, let alone
``The plenum took the decision to instruct regional party outlets and
analytical structures to be on full alert for an early election to any body
of power, including the State Duma,'' he said.
Zyuganov was speaking after a closed-session ``plenum'' meeting of the
Communists' Central Committee, a gathering held less than a month before the
80th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution and reminiscent of Soviet party
A political commentator at Itar-Tass news agency said, ``It is possible to
characterise today's plenum...as yet another victory for Zyuganov who
retained control over the party at a difficult time.''
But party sources told Russian news agencies he had come in for tough
criticism from the party's radical wing for backing down from the original
vote despite his bitter attack on Yeltsin's reforms in his Duma speech on
Ivan Melnikov, secretary of the Central Committee, speaking about these
reported tilts at the leadership, said: ``There was no more criticism than at
any other plenum.''
The Sunday Times (UK)
October 19 1997
[for personal use only]
By Mark Franchetti
Boom quickly turns to bust for Chernomyrdin; Pretty distracting
The timing was, to say the least, unfortunate. Viktor Chernomyrdin, the
portly Russian prime minister regularly heckled for his dry speeches to
the duma, had hoped to boost his image last week with a triumphant
announcement about booming foreign investment.
But no sooner had the prime minister revealed the latest figures than he
was forced to defend his country as a safe and straightforward place to
do business in. An important American investor was refused an entry visa
and a large Canadian firm disclosed that some of its managers were in
fear of their lives because of a series of threats.
The snub to Boris Jordan, one of Russia's biggest overseas investors,
proved particularly alarming to the international community. Jordan, a
flamboyant 31-year-old American of Russian descent, brings millions of
dollars into the country as head of Renaissance Capital, the investment
Yet when he tried to return to Moscow after a business trip to London,
he was denied his visa without any explanation. It later emerged that
the refusal followed pressure from Boris Berezovski, a high-ranking
member of the government and close friend of President Boris Yeltsin.
Berezovski tried to justify the move by claiming Jordan had gained
access to state secrets. The likelihood, however, is that Berezovski
who retains broad business interests despite his Kremlin job as deputy
head of the security council views Jordan as a rival and wanted his
After the intervention of Boris Nemtsov, the popular deputy prime
minister, Jordan was finally given a one-week visa, which has now been
extended to three months. But the damage was done. Jordan's criticism of
the government was withering.
"Those who organised these provocations against me are perfectly aware
that they have inflicted harm on Russia's reputation in the financial
world," he said. "But they sacrificed their country's interests for the
sake of their emotions and selfish interests. They have cast a shadow on
the government and on the president."
Russia's commercial reputation was further sullied when it was disclosed
that a Canadian investor responsible for opening one of the capital's
most luxurious hotels had been compelled to seek embassy protection for
several managers who have been resisting a takeover by their Russian
Chernomyrdin, known popularly as "Chernomord" (black face), has learnt
the hard way that boasting of foreign investment may not be the best way
to improve his dismal standing.
* Employees at a large state farm in Vologda, northern Russia, have not
taken kindly to the cash-strapped government's policy of remunerating
workers with agricultural goods in an effort to compensate for months of
Instead of receiving chickens and vegetables, they were paidlast month
with piles of manure. Special trucks were laid on to deliver "salaries"
to the workers' doorsteps, prompting vigorous protests from neighbours
about poor air quality.
Exhausted after debating a motion of no confidence in Boris Yeltsin, the
Russian parliament is turning to another pressing matter: a plan to hold
a beauty contest for female deputies.
Each party will be entitled to choose one candidate from within its
ranks to compete for the title of Miss Duma. The smart betting is on
Daria Mitina, a young communist deputy who has endeared herself to
colleagues by bringing them hot piroshski Russian pastries filled with
meat and vegetables to relieve the monotony of long speeches. With the
concentration of MPs distracted by such gestures and the emphasis on
female members' curves, the legislative body looks set to become even
more of a national laughing stock than it already is.
•Nestlé, the Swiss food giant, will stop at nothing to convert Russians
into coffee lovers. The maker of Nescafé has taken to installing
cubicles inside Russian churches from which to deliver congratulatory
coffee sets to newlyweds as soon as they walk back down the aisle.
Nestlé employees have already presented 17,000 couplesacross Russia with
a large jar of instant coffee and two red mugs wishing them "health,
happiness and hot love".
Hey babe, that's a great sound
Pregnant women in Daniesk, a drab coal-mining town in Ukraine, have
taken an unusual step to ensure the good health of their babies: they
have formed a choir.
More than 30 women, convinced that babies benefit from "feeling" music
inside the womb, have joined. "It's good for their later development,"
one member enthused. The women, who sing in local halls, are adamant
that they seek neither fame nor fortune, although a tour is not ruled
out deliveries permitting.
Don't call us, we'll call you
Andrei Smirnov will not be silenced. To supplement his earnings as a
courier, the 32-year-old professionally trained singer has set up a
dial-a-tune service. Callers request any ballad in his repertoire and he
sings it down the telephone line.
Smirnov gets more than 100 requests a week, but not everyone is
enthusiastic. "After I placed my first ad, I got only rude and insulting
calls," he admitted. "One elderly woman left a message telling me to
stop singing and go visit a psychiatrist instead, but I won't be
Date: Sat, 18 Oct 1997 15:15:45 -0400
From: Matthew Fisher <R_MatthewFisher@compuserve.com>
Subject: Nizhny Novgorod
For reasons which allude me, this piece which ran last Sunday in the
Toronto Sun, never made it on to the Sun's Internet site. This may explain
why it seems to have not made it on to your list.
Should you find it worth inclusion, pls. do so.
12 October 1997
By Matthew Fisher
Nizhny Novgorod, Russia - To read back issues of the New York Times, the
Financial Times or many of Moscow's leading dailies, you'd think that this
formerly closed industrialized city on the Volga was a capitalist showcase
that every other Russian city would be keen to mimic.
After all, Nizhny Novgorod was the spawning ground for the West's
favourite Russian of the moment, 37 year old super reformer and
super-privatizer, Boris Nemtsov. The region's ambitious governor was
invited to quit that job and move 400 kilometres northwest to Moscow last
year by Boris Yeltsin.
The idea was that as First Deputy Prime Minister Nemtsov, who took
with him to the capital a thick file of clippings lauding him as a genius,
would give some shape, form and, most of all, vitality to the president's
flagging economic program.
It was difficult to spot visible manifestations of Nemtsov's magic
in Nizhny Novgorod. Aside from a pretty Kremlin, a couple of
well-maintained parks and a few dazzling churches and monasteries, Russia's
third largest city looked to be in as much of a shambles as other
provincial cities in the former Soviet Union.
Roads were cratered. Tram tracks were twisted. Buses were battered
and fantastically overused.
Many of the houses and offices in and near the city centre were
sagging wooden architectural treasures dating from the time of the czars.
The newer apartment blocks and the military factories where many of the
city's 1.5 million live and work are spiritless, crumbling concrete messes
like those to be seen almost everywhere in Russia.
A cast iron Lenin at least 10 times larger than life still looms
over a trade park. Over the main entrance of the Sokol aviation plant,
where a few Mi-G 29's are still being built, there is the usual assortment
of faded communist party shields.
Given the isolation and greyness of Gorki, as Nizhny Novgorod, was
called under communism, it was the perfect locale for Nobel prize winner
Andrei Sakharov to endure internal exile.
So, was it true that Nizhny Novgorod had become some kind of Russian
paradise and a beacon of hope for this weary nation?
I put this notion to teachers, students, factory workers, a factory
boss, a librarian and a taxi driver. All thought that there was absolutely
nothing to it.
But perhaps they, like me, didn't know any better. As in Soviet
times, when sources were much harder to come by, I concluded it might be
more prudent to ask the same question to members of the local intellectual
I met the head of a non-government economic research institute and
had a long chat with a reporter and three rather earnest, pro-reform
economists from the Nizhny Novgorod region's economic forecasting units.
They all replied to my question about Nizhny Novgorod's sunny reputation
with looks of wide-eyed disbelief followed by laughter.
"Western and Russian journalists said this was reality so in a way
it became reality," said Alexander Meltsaev, the reporter. "It's rather
funny, but now journalists come to check on the reality they created, to
see if it is real. The answer of anyone with common sense is, of course,
"Western journalists supported the image of this city as a city of
perestroika. It's not so objective, but let it be, so that it might one day
As for Nemtsov's role in creating Nizhny Novgorod's exalted
status, Sergei Borisov, the independent research director, said, "Even a
genius can't produce miracles. The successes are real, but they are
fragmented and there aren't many of them. We have met a lot of
"What was to Nemtsov's credit was the creation of so-called market
optimism. He moved to Moscow at the right time because there will be a lot
of failures here and his name won't now be attached to them."
Among the key areas where Nemtsov's ideas had not gone anywhere
were housing and agrarian reform, Borisov said. Another matter which cast
Nemtsov in a less flattering light was the conviction and imprisonment of a
local political ally who became a rival.
Concrete statistic on unemployment in Nizhny Novgorod were
impossible to come by, although it was agreed among the experts that this
was a serious problem. As a guide it may not be unreasonable to look at the
department of one of the military plants where 80 people were employed in
1993 and 10 were employed today.
Not all those people who have lost their factory jobs or who
have left, were unemployed, of course. Many had become shuttle traders,
importing cheap goods from Turkey and China for sale. Others had gone into
banking and the bureaucracy.
Even so, there was a lot of hidden joblessness because many
plants carried far more employees on their books than actually worked
there. Attempts to convert the ubiquitous military plants to civilian uses
was described as a near total failure..
One of Nizhny Novgorod's biggest problems is that owing to the
general economic malaise here and elsewhere in Russia, it has been unable
to attract much foreign investment. Another major difficulty is that when
military orders dwindled to almost nothing, its ubiquitous military plants
failed to convert themselves for non-military production.
There was general agreement that Moscow was the Russian city with
the most favourable economic conditions. But Nizhny Novgorod had advantages
over other regions such as Siberia and the Caucusus. It had better
infrastructure, no ethnic conflicts and, perhaps most tellingly, relatively
little opposition to reform.
In a deliciously Russian way, one of the economists concluded:
"There are objective reasons to say this isn't the worst place in Russia."
Date: Sat, 18 Oct 1997 20:49:14 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Taibbi again and last
Perhaps a dose of facts will help Mr.T to be less angry. Here are some. Facts
on the World Bank's anti-poverty programs can be obtained by getting a copy
of "World Development Report,1990" an issue devoted entirely to that subject.
Subsequent such WDRs will provide up-dates and enable interested parties to
follow the data to 1997.The World Bank's net income in Fiscal 1997 was $1.285
Billion which was used as follows-$300 million transferred to International
Development Association (IDA), $500 million to reduce debts of heavily
indebted poor countries, some $240 million transferred to Bank reserves, and
the rest retained for operations The entire personnel and administrative
costs of the IDA are borne by the Bank and that is a de facto transfer to
poor countries. Bank committments to Russia in FY97 were $800 million for
social protection,$600 million for structural adjustments, and $137 million
for health and education. From 1992-1997 the Bank has loaned Russia $8.1
billion of which only $3.8 billion has been disbursed (implying to me that
project performance is poor ). The loan charges for the year 1997 were $278
million, implying an average interest of 8.2% and a net transfer of resources
in 1997 of $3.5 billion.
The annual report of the Bank is widely available free, as is the annual
report of the International Finance Corporation, the WB's arm lending to the
private sector. The IFC report shows no loans in 1997 to Russia but does show
loans to Tajikistan and Moldova. That implication is that Russia has few
attractive loan opportunities in the private sector.
Instead of railing about the Bank, Mr.T should use his paper/publication to
demand proper business environment measures - mortgage laws,contract laws,
creation of Chambers of Commerce, criticism of arbitrary cancellations of
contracts (the recent EXXON contract cancellation comes to mind), proper
customs procedeures and a sensible approach to production sharing agreements
with major western telecom, oil,energy,manufacturing, etc companies. There is
a lot to do. While Russia fiddles the CIS roars ahead and will leave Russia
behind in the near future.
Finally, Mr.T has ignored the IMF and its demands. As the IMF creates its own
money the implication of Mr.T's reasoning is that it,too, is
anti-capitalistic and also interferes in the political situation in various
countries.. As far as I'm concerned that is all I have to say to Mr.T.
Date: Sat, 18 Oct 1997 13:08:47 -0400
From: Albert Weeks <AWeeks1@compuserve.com>
Cc: Tanya Chebotarev <firstname.lastname@example.org>,
I am indeed blushing! In my passion over a JRL contributor's seemingly
supercilious approach to the "Lenin Heritage" I got a couple of things
mixed up about the writer YEVGENY Zamyatin--apologies! ("Leonid M.," of
course, was the name of a CPSU Party apparatchik). It appears that what I
wrote about Z. was something I "vysosal iz pal'tsa" ( = spun out)!
On the matter of Zamyatin's departure from Russia, years ago, as I recall,
I had been told by a colleague of mine, Boris Ivanovich Nicolaevsky, that
the author of "WE" (in Russian, "My"), Zamyatin, had been oppressed by
Lenin and been forced to leave the Soviet Union in the '20s. After reading
your good message and looking this up just now in Heller-Nekrich (Utopia in
Power), I see that Boris Ivan'ich may have been mistaken, or I may have
forgotten details of what B.I. had casually told me.
In any case, it seems that by 1929 Z. was still in the USSR (H-N, p. 270).
For now, I must assume that your added information is correct since I have
nothing readily at hand to refute it. Did not Z. wind up in Prague? Is it
also possible that he exited earlier, then came back?
I am most sorry to have confused his name and perhaps was also mistaken
about his falling out with Lenin. I should have been more careful. Thank
you for pointing this out.
Still, I guess we might agree on this assumption: that Vladimir Ilyich did
not much appreciate Zamyatin's point of view as expressed in "My" and in
his article, "I am Afraid"! Zamyatin observed bluntly (c. 1920 while Lenin
was still alive): "We have been living through an era of suppression of the
Journal of Commerce
20 October 1997
[for personal use only]
Russian official hints at privatizing railways
BY JOHN HELMER
JOURNAL OF COMMERCE SPECIAL
MOSCOW -- Despite repeated denials that the government wants to
privatize Russia's state-owned railways, a senior official said his
agency wants to do just that.
Yury Serkov, deputy director of the Federal Service for the Regulation
of Natural Monopolies, said a plan had been drafted to incorporate the
operating divisions of the national railroad system into a joint stock
He likened the new structure to Russia's largest company, Gazprom, which
the state controls, but in which Russian and foreign shareholders can
Under the plan, the ministry of railways would be abolished and its
regulatory powers transferred to the ministry of transport. The new
company would be called Russian Railway Lines.
However, there are ample indications that Russian officials remain
divided over privatization.
President Boris Yeltsin earlier said he opposed privatizing the rails.
Railways Minister Nikolai Aksenenko has denied the government has any
intention of privatizing the lines.
>From RIA Novosti
Interfax-Argumenty i Fakty, No. 41
CRIME CHANGES QUALITATIVELY, STRUCTURALLY
By Deputy premier and interior minister Anatoly KULIKOV
The past two years have witnessed the trend of a
diminishing number of registered crimes. This year, the figure
had dropped 9.1% to stand at 1.8 million, while the number of
solved crimes has risen 2.2% to reach 72.9%.
As many as 12,700 members of organised criminal rings have
been brought to justice, primarily on charges of what is
traditionally seen as the gravest crimes: murders, heavy bodily
harm, thefts, muggings, etc.
The downward trend is combined with qualitative and
structural changes in the underworld. It is better organised
and offering more active resistance to the law enforcers. While
the nation is undergoing social transformations, we are facing
criminal communities which endeavour to control whole sectors
of the economy and to instill criminal behavioural patterns in
certain territories and cities.
This is more than a social menace; it is a threat to
A redistribution of spheres of influence in the economy,
what with the inadequate legal backing, has resulted in an
overflow of criminal capitals derived from financial and
economic offences and abuse of office.
In turn, criminal groups are fighting between themselves
for the sources of illicit revenues, for a redistribution of
profits and property to trigger a surge of such grave crimes as
contract killings and hostage taking and political instability
in whole regions.
The North Caucasus is still the hottest spot in Russia.
The slumping economy, rampant unemployment and low living
standards provide a perfect medium for crime. Every fifth act
of banditry is perpetrated in that region. This year has
witnessed 126 instances of hostage taking and 232 criminal
explosions which killed 35 and wounded 151 people there.
In the conditions of complex ethnic and religious
relations and territorial disputes that have accumulated over
decades, any criminal act in the North Caucasus may trigger a
major armed conflict.
The local criminal dons benefit from the cyclic nature of
instability in the region by deriving huge profits from the
illicit sales of arms and ammunition, and distracting the law
enforcers' efforts from tackling economic crimes. Criminals are
often combining several illicit businesses. Thus, they have
been running nearly 200 disclosed distilleries. One illicit gun
in six is seized in the North Caucasus: 12,500 this year
Since borders in the North Caucasus are highly
transparent, international drug trafficking has been on the
rise there. In the first eight months of the year, the police
have disclosed 17,300 criminal offences involving illegal
drugs. Many offenders have been brought to justice.
Incidentally, the national number of solved drug-related
crimes is 112,000.
Although the situation in the North Caucasus is still
strained, the law enforcers have prevented an escalation of
violence and are keeping the situation under control.
Russia's interior ministry is implementing a set of
measures to ensure stability, law and order. These measures
have been approved by the administrations of republics,
territories and oblasts of the North Caucasus at a conference
to ponder ways of intensifying the fight against organised
crime that was held in Pyatigorsk in September.
We can now count on a concerted effort of the federal and
the regional authorities.
The tough rivalry for the spheres of influence results in
a growth in the number of armed groups and sanguinary conflicts
between them. Although this year has seen 288 registered acts
of banditry, we have learned to deal with the crude crimes.
Economic crimes and corruption are much harder to tackle.
We have data to indicate that an appreciable part of
criminal revenues goes to bribe crooked officials in all tiers
of the authority. We have registered over 5,000 instances of
Representatives of the underworld are making their way to
the structures and bodies of state management to use the
economic reforms underway for their own ends. Since the start
of the year, we have cut short close to 117,000 economic crimes
which have incurred a combined damage worth nearly 10 trillion
A Recent Chronicle
In the first seven months of the year, Russia's interior
ministry has unveiled 97 contract killings, a third more than
in the whole year 1996, Anatoly Kulikov told Germany's
Kriminalpolizei chief Klaus Kersten in Moscow.
The interior minister said his department has signed 24
intergovernmental agreements on cooperation in fighting crime.
The ministry plans to send its representatives to 35 countries
The interior ministry has managed to check the avalanche
of crime lately, Kulikov told a training conference of
department chiefs. But he also noted the predominance of grave
crimes in the total number of criminal offences.
"A criminal economy corrupts all bodies of management and
power," Kulikov stressed.
He insisted that people with criminal records should be
barred from the bodies of authority.
The minister reported that organised crime was at its
strongest in the Central, Northwestern, Urals, Far Eastern and
North Caucasian regions.
Since the start of the year proceedings have been
initiated against nearly 5,000 staffers of law enforcement
agencies, including 1,500 for crimes they have committed.
>From RIA Novosti
October 17, 1997
PRESIDENTIAL ADMINISTRATION IS NOTHING LIKE THE OLD PARTY STAFF
"Primakov has more phone talks with the President than
I do," says presidential assistant Sergei Prikhodko
By Denis BABICHEV
The personnel reshuffles in the Government and
Presidential Administration, which have never stopped since
Boris Yeltsin became the president, encourage observers to
forecast resignations in the top echelon of power. Sometimes
they are wrong. The recent rumours concern the Foreign
Ministry. The possibility of personnel reshuffles there was
backed by the talks about the growing influence of the
Presidential Administration on the making of foreign policy
decisions. Sergei Prikhodko, presidential assistant responsible
for international affairs, comments on these rumours.
Question: The Presidential Administration continues to
improve its structures, and these improvements concern the
agencies which are responsible for foreign policy. A new agency
has been established, the Foreign Policy Department under the
President. Simultaneously, rumours appear about a possible
resignation of Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov.
Answer: Indeed, this summer the President signed several
decrees on the dissolution of about a dozen consulting agencies
in the administration, in particular the Foreign Policy
Council. New agencies are created for a specific political
stage. I don't think this is a normal practice, but I can
accept this when this does not increase the staff.
In this specific case, the staff of the Foreign Policy
Council and the administration section on relations with the
CIS agencies were dissolved. As a result, the staff tackling
foreign policy issues in the new Department was reduced from 25
As for the rumours about the resignation of Yevgeny
Primakov, they are highly damaging. I want to remind you that
in the past few months the President highly assessed the work
of the Foreign Ministry and its head several times.
Question: What was the task of the Council and what will
the new Department deal with?
Answer: It should become an agency working jointly with
the Foreign Ministry in elaborating proposals for the
President. I don't want to criticise any of my predecessors,
but objectively speaking, the Russian state was not strong then
and we had fewer hands then. I'd like to have more hands now,
too. The Council was set up at the time when the decision on
the coordinating role of the Foreign Ministry was not put into
effect. Time showed that the Council structure was ineffective.
Another objective factor which the opponents of the new
Department ignore is the fact that the Foreign Ministry has
become much more effective. Its role in the system of state
authorities has changed. The Ministry is coordinating foreign
policy in all spheres, including the economic one. Its
relations with the regions have grown considerably, largely
thanks to the guidance of Yevgeny Primakov.
You should not think that the Presidential Administration
is becoming the International Department of the Communist Party
Central Committee, the Politburo or the Party Control
Committee. Our functions are limited by the constitutional
powers of the President, and we are not going to transcend
Question: And yet, you are accused of diverging from the
Constitution and exceeding your powers.
Answer: Any normal person, including those who work in the
Foreign Ministry, understand that the Presidential
Administration receives heaps of documents, which should be
handled well, promptly and carefully. Sometimes we need
additional information, and we request it from various
departments and later summarise it. Eventually, our work boils
down to preparing quality recommendations.
We believe that the current foreign policy efforts of
Russia have improved in terms of quality and quantity. We are
not obsessed by some passing problems, but try to dig deeper.
So, this calls for very serious analytical and administrative-
Question: Can this work be done by the 15 members of the
Question: Are there similar "overlapping" agencies in the
Answer: The US Department of State and the National
Security Council do similar work. Our Security Council deals
with the global issues of international security and has a
corresponding international department. But it has nothing to
do with routine affairs, decisions, statements and
Question: Will you comment on the mass media reports that
the role of the Foreign Ministry is being played down?
Answer: These allegations are absolutely groundless. The
dissolution of the Foreign Policy Council was coordinated with
the Foreign Ministry. We asked for the opinion of our
colleagues not only on the dissolution of the Council, but also
on the creation of the Department. There will always be
rumours. This is normal. When there are no rumours in the
country, this country is dead.
Question: The critics of the establishment of the new
Department were especially outraged by the part of the decree
that said that the Department should be responsible for the
contextual backing of the current foreign policy functions
involving the President.
Answer: This is a misunderstanding. Simply, there is the
protocol backing, and contextual backing. Our Department deals
with the latter. We polish the drafts of presidential speeches,
as during preparations for Boris Yeltsin's visit to Strasbourg.
Working jointly with the Foreign Ministry, we polished each
word in the draft speech of the President in the Council of
Europe. Making recommendations to the President is not just a
responsible political task, but a laborious
Question: In other words, the Foreign Ministry has no
reasons to be jealous of the presidential structures?
Answer: If some people in the Foreign Ministry are jealous
of the administration, we will deal with this resolutely by
proving in practice that there are no grounds for this
destructive feeling. The foreign policy of the country is
elaborated in the Foreign Ministry, which is well aware of our
sphere of operation. I am convinced that my assessment of
relations between the Presidential Administration and the
Foreign Ministry, the staff of the Russian Government and of
the Minister for CIS Affairs coincide nearly perfectly with the
assessment of my colleagues in these structures.
Question: It is difficult to judge relations between the
Presidential Administration and, say, the Foreign Ministry
without inside information. But it appears that Sergei
Yastrzhembsky has more ways to gain access to the President.
Answer: Yevgeny Primakov has a free and regular access to
the President. At least, he has more phone talks with the
President than I do. I resolutely refute all speculations to
>From Russia Today press summaries
17 October 1997
Slums at the Walls of the Kremlin
The daily wrote about a house on Podkolokolnyi Lane near Solyanka Street,
in the center of Moscow, which used to be a cheap boarding house before the
The house is more than 100 years old and has not been repaired for 44
years. Inhabitants now live in apartments which are in terrible condition.
The walls have developed large cracks, the ceilings have fallen in, and
there are no bathrooms or hot water.
However, city authorities have no intention of resettling the residents
or remodeling the house. People can only hope that a private company will
buy the building and restore it.
RUSSIA TODAY Notes:
Housing problems in Moscow are very bad. Many families share apartments with
other people, while others suffer through unbearable living conditions. Most
of the residential buildings in Moscow belong to the city or to large state
structures. Recently private investors have appeared who would like to
invest in the restoration of the buildings, mostly in the center of Moscow.
They are few, however, since resettlement of tenants is difficult. Tenants,
in turn, have little protection against inefficient management by building
>From Russia Today Press summaries
17 October 1997
Nazdratenko Accuses Chubais
Primorsky Governor Yevgeny Nazdratenko, whom the Federation Council has
already protected once against dismissal, addressed his colleagues again,
asking them to help halt the negative media campaign about the economic
situation in the Russian Far East.
The governor said the attempts to defame the authorities of the region
were inspired by First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais and
Mr.Savostyanov (Chubais's protégée).
Chubais' course, Nazdratenko wrote, will reduce Russia to the position of
an arm of a transnational corporation and will destroy the nation's industry.
Nazdratenko said he is also certain that President Boris Yeltsin has been
receiving distorted information about the situation in the Primorsky region.
For this reason, he has asked the president for a personal meeting to
invite him to visit the region.
RUSSIA TODAY Notes:
The Primorsky region has been plagued by strikes and energy shortages.
Earlier this year, a federal team sent to the region to investigate the root
of the crises put much of the blame on Nazdratenko. When it was suggested,
however, that the governor should be dismissed, members of the upper house –
which is comprised of regional leaders – issued a strong protest and the
idea was dropped.<BR>