This Date's Issues: 1299 • 1300
Johnson's Russia List
21 October 1997
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Fred Weir in Moscow on latest developments in
Russian foreign policy.
2. AP: Detente Among Russian Government Leaders.
3. Reuters: Canada Offers Visa to Russian Charged with
4. Miami Herald: Alexander Nikitin, Contamination in
Russia and radioactive lies.
5. Brian Remfrey: Ambassador Vorontsov's Remarks.
6. St. Petersburg Times: Mumin Shakirov, Visitors Pay
To Breathe Air In Unwelcoming Moscow.
7. Floriana Fossato (RFE/RL): Russia: Joining The
8. Reuters: Earthquake? bomb? US still debates Russian
9. RIA Novosti: GENERAL ROKHLIN READY TO FACE PROSECUTION ON
APPEALS "TO THROW DOWN REGIME."
10. The Electronic Telegraph (UK): Julius Strauss, Hungary
turns cool over place in Nato.
11. Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Urinson and Honest Statistics.
THE VICE-PREMIER SPEAKS ABOUT ECONOMY GROWTH, BUT THE PEOPLE
HAVE NOT FELT IT.
12. Nevskoe Vremya (St. Petersburg): The Privatization of the
13. Sankt-Peterburgskye Vedomosti: Distrust Is Everywhere.
14. Reuters: Kazakhs delay move to remote new capital.]
Date: Mon, 20 Oct 1997
For the Hindustan Times
From: Fred Weir in Moscow
MOSCOW (HT) -- Russia is rapidly moving to build stronger
friendships in Europe and Asia to compensate for increasingly
strained relations with the United States, foreign policy experts
"President Boris Yeltsin has been making a lot of anti-
American statements lately," says Andrei Piontkowski, director of
Moscow's Centre for Strategic Studies.
"He is clearly following the old Soviet logic that it is
possible to exploit contradictions between other powers, in order
to create more room for Moscow to manouver."
Mr. Yeltsin has launched a diplomatic offensive over recent
weeks, offering the Kremlin's hospitality to the leaders of
France, Britain, Italy and Canada in rapid succession. With each,
he stressed the importance their bilateral connection and he
grandly informed Canada's Prime Minister Jean Chretien that he
was upgrading the Moscow-Ottawa relationship to "a special
In August Russian PM Viktor Chernomyrdin likewise told an
official Chinese delegation that relations have never been warmer
between the two countries, which he said enjoy a "strategic
In early October, Mr. Yeltsin greeted Indian Defence
Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav in the Kremlin -- an unusual honour.
He agreed to extend Indo-Russian military cooperation into the
21st century and repeatedly underlined the "brotherly" character
of relations between the two countries.
And a week ago, addressing heads of the Council of Europe in
Strasbourg, Mr. Yeltsin emphasized Russia's desire to be part of
"a great Europe, without dividing lines."
To each audience, Mr. Yeltsin has made a point of playing
the anti-American card. With the Chinese, he reiterated Russia's
opposition to the "hegemony" of a single superpower in world
affairs. For the Canadians, he cleverly hinted that Moscow might
sign an Ottawa-sponsored treaty banning landmines -- although
Washington has made clear it will not do so.
"Even though major Western powers say 'no', I say we support
and will strive for the goal of resolving once and for all this
problem and sign the (land mine) treaty," Mr. Yeltsin said in
Strasbourg. His aides later backpedalled on the issue.
For the Europeans, Mr. Yeltsin agreed to hold regular summit
meetings with leaders of France and Germany, to coordinate their
affairs. And, again, he put a clear anti-American spin on it.
"We need to hold these summits to build a new Europe, a
Europe that includes Russia and stretches to the Pacific," Mr.
Yeltsin said. This is necessary to rebuff those who are "striving
to isolate Russia and put her in an unequal position," he said,
in a clear dig at Washington.
Russia's post-Cold War partnership with the U.S., which
began with high hopes on both sides, has soured in recent years
as differences in national interests and approaches have
"The only solid basis for special relations between Moscow
and Washington is that they are the world's two great nuclear
powers," says Viktor Kuvaldin, an analyst at the Gorbachev Fund
"While Moscow has failed to ennunciate a coherent foreign
policy doctrine since the fall of the USSR, the U.S. has
developed a clear approach toward Russia," he says.
"On one hand the Americans offer us incentives to become
Westernized, such as the right to sit in on Group of Seven
meetings. On the other hand, they are enlarging the military
alliance NATO, so that if the incentives don't work Russia can be
An article circulated by Russia's official ITAR-Tass news
agency last week quoted an unnamed Kremlin official outlining
Moscow's latest grievances against the U.S.
The official accused Washington of sabotaging Moscow's
efforts to join the World Trade Organization, of dragging its
heels on giving Russian exporters fair access to the U.S. market
and waging a campaign against Russia for maintaining commercial
relations with Third World countries such as Iran, Libya and
He also charged the United States with meddling on Russia's
sensitive southern Caucasus frontier, especially the oil-rich
"The anti-American tone in President Boris Yeltsin's recent
statements is not an accident," the official is quoted as saying.
Russia now sees its chief political and economic allies "for the
most part in Western Europe and not the United States."
For its part, the U.S. Congress has recently threatened to
cut off aid to Moscow over a new religion law it regards as
discriminatory, and the alleged participation of Russian
scientists in Iran's efforts to develop guided missiles.
"At the end of the day, you have to accept that it's an
American-dominated world," says Mr. Kuvaldin. "Russia can try to
gain advantage here or there, but the space is very limited.
"No one is going to be forming anti-American alliances in
the world as we know it today."
Detente Among Russian Government Leaders
October 20, 1997
MOSCOW (AP) - The government's top two leaders - the president and prime
minister - held an unusual meeting Monday with leaders of parliament and
claimed Russia's ongoing political conflict was nearing resolution.
The upbeat assessments that followed the meeting suggested Parliament may
cancel plans this week for a no-confidence vote on Russian President Boris
``It was a very constructive conversation,'' Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin said after the meeting. ``Agreement was reached on all the
Yeltsin has been sparring with Parliament for weeks over his proposed
budget and other policies. Legislators claim Yeltsin's programs are too
austere and want more money for the military, agriculture, pensions and
other social programs.
The impasse culminated in the legislative body's move last week to hold
the no-confidence vote - although a last-minute appeal by Yeltsin delayed
As part of a deal to defuse the showdown, Yeltsin agreed to take part in
the so-called ``Group of Four'' meeting Monday. He also planned to meet
Tuesday with leaders of Parliament's factions, his press service said.
The no-confidence vote in the government is scheduled for Wednesday.
Officials from the Communist Party, which leads Parliament, said they would
decide Tuesday whether the vote will take place.
A no-confidence vote could lead to Yeltsin dissolving the Duma and
calling for new elections - an outcome both sides have said they are eager
Over the weekend, Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov pledged to go
through with the no-confidence vote as early as Wednesday if Yeltsin refused
to meet his party's central demands, like easing housing reforms and giving
Parliament a greater role in Cabinet appointments.
The parliamentary leaders attending Monday's meeting were Yegor Stroyev,
speaker of the Federation Council - the parliament's upper house - and
Gennady Seleznyov, the Duma's communist speaker.
After the meeting, Stroyev indicated the agreements reached during the
talks would lead to cancellation of the no-confidence vote.
``If all the agreements we reached today are realized, and I'm certain
they will be, then the question (of a no-confidence vote) will take itself
off the agenda,'' Stroyev said, according to the Interfax news agency.
However, Zyuganov gave no indication of whether the accords satisfied his
``We are ready for a dialogue with the president, but we are persuaded
only by real actions,'' Zyuganov said.
The one agreement that was announced by the leaders had been a demand by
the communists: Parliament would have greater access to state-run media.
The leaders ordered the creation of a TV ``parliament hour'' and gave the
legislative body the authority to set up advisory councils at the two main
state-affiliated networks. Deputies have frequently complained that
television coverage of Parliament is biased and unflattering.
The group of four leaders also pledged to meet more often, to convene a
roundtable of 23 political leaders to discuss controversial issues and to
give Parliament greater access to state-run media.
Canada Offers Visa to Russian Charged with Treason
MOSCOW, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien said on
Monday he was ready to offer a visa to a retired Russian navy captain
charged with treason for his work on nuclear pollution, Itar-Tass news
Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin was quoted as saying after
talks with Chretien that Alexander Nikitin would be free to go only when
justice had run its course.
"We will not hold Nikitin when his investigation is over,"
Tass quoted Chernomyrdin as telling reporters.
Chretien was quoted as saying he was ready to accept Nikitin "at any
moment" once he was free to leave.
Russia has come under increasing pressure over Nikitin, 44, who faces
charges for publicising the danger of pollution posed by ageing nuclear
submarines based on Russia's Kola Peninsula.
Nikitin joined the Bellona Foundation, a Norwegian environmental group,
after he retired and co-authored a report on the Russian northern fleet. He
was arrested in February 1996 on charges of high treason for releasing what
the Russian authorities said were state secrets.
Nikitin has been freed from custody but the charges against him stand.
Outgoing Norwegian Prime Minister Thorbjoern Jagland called President
Boris Yeltsin to account at a Council of Europe human rights summit this
month, asking publicly for fair treatment for Nikitin.
Nikitin told Interfax news agency on Monday he had applied to the
Canadian authorities in late 1993 to emigrate. By the time permission was
granted, he said, he was already under investigation.
19 October 1997
[for personal use only]
Contamination in Russia and radioactive lies
By ALEXANDER NIKITIN
PETERSBURG, Russia -- The nuclear history of the Soviet Union has always
been wrapped up in secrecy and lies, even when lies led to serious
consequences. Eleven years ago, the Chernobyl catastrophe put millions of
people worldwide under a cloud of danger. The lies of government officials
caused even more danger. If not for this, many people could have been saved
from incurable sickness and death.
The first official announcement in the Soviet press appeared on April 30,
1986, on the fifth day after the accident. It said, ``the nuclear power
plant has been stabilized. . . . The level of radiation does not exceed
radioactive safety standards.'' The KGB guarded national secrets with
vigilance. All that was taking place was kept in secret, even from people
who were allowed to know secrets.
In those days, I was at the Naval Academy's Department of Nuclear Energy
Installations. As specialists in the area of nuclear energy, we could not
understand what was happening.
Eleven years passed and little has changed. Even those who had
authorization in this area were not allowed to glimpse the profound problems
connected with 40 years of operating nuclear-powered vessels in the Soviet
Since 1994, Russia has begun to increasingly put environmental
information and details about the impacts of harmful technologies into
secrecy. At the head of this process is the Federal Security Police (FSB),
formerly the KGB.
The Russian Constitution states, ``Everyone has the right to a favorable
environment, the right to truthful information about its condition and to
compensation for damages inflicted to their health or property by
environmental abuses.'' Article 7 of the Russian federal law on state
secrets reads, ``Not subject to secrecy is information about extraordinary
events and catastrophes threatening the safety and health of citizens.''
But FSB has a different opinion. Ecology is an internal affair of Russia.
This sounds familiar. One can still recall the declaration by the leaders of
the Soviet government that human rights were an internal affair of the
In 1996, I co-wrote a report for the Bellona Foundation in Norway titled,
``The Russian Northern Fleet: Sources of Radioactive Contamination.'' Using
information from previously published sources, I documented radioactive
contamination caused by eroding nuclear submarines in northwestern Russia.
With 52 retired submarines still containing nuclear fuel, along with 67
operating nuclear submarines, this area has the highest concentration of
nuclear reactors in the world.
As a result of the report, I was arrested. After spending 10 months in
prison, I was released, but am not allowed to leave the city of St.
Petersburg. I now await trial on charges of treason. My report is the only
publication officially banned in the Russian Federation.
During my interrogation I was repeatedly asked the same question, ``Why
did you write the chapter on reactor accidents and how does it relate to
ecology?'' Even after Chernobyl and hundreds of radioactive accidents, the
FSB found experts who determine that nuclear accidents and environmental
problems are not related.
On April 14, I was honored to be awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize,
sometimes known as the Nobel Prize for the environment. Little did I realize
how apt this analogy is. Just as when Andrei Sakharov and Alexander
Solzhenitsyn received their Nobel Prizes, not one Russian official
commented. The Communist press, however, expressed its outrage over my
getting a reward from the West for ``treachery.'' Victor Tereshkin, who has
been called the best environmental journalist in Russia, tried to write
about the Goldman Ceremony in San Francisco. He was fired from the newspaper
Vecherny Peterburg. This is in great contrast to coverage in other parts of
the world; for example, I was named ``Person of the Week'' by Peter Jennings
on ABC News.
Apparently, it has been claimed that the chapter I wrote for the report
uncovered Russian national secrets. On April 23, following secret orders
from the defense minister, military experts were instructed to examine its
contents. Thus begins the next phase of the investigation. I do not know
when or how it will end.
I am not afraid of the results of this investigation if it is just.
Unfortunately, in Russia even the president cannot ensure this. I already
have spent 10 months in prison for calling the world's attention to an
environmental disaster waiting to happen. It is now time for the Russian
government to cease its efforts to shoot the messenger and instead to
address the message so the world does not have to experience another Chernobyl.
Special to The Herald
Date: Mon, 20 Oct 1997 18:49:12 -0500
From: Brian Remfrey <email@example.com>
Subject: Ambassador Vorontsov's Remarks
Thank you very much for your response. The following is a brief synopsis
of my meeting with Ambassador Vorontsov and our discussion:
On September 30, 1997, Russian ambassador to the United States Yuri
Mikhailovich Vorontsov came to Luther College in Decorah, Iowa to give a
lecture entitled "Russian-American Relations after the Cold War: Can
Enemies Become Friends?" Ambassador Vorontsov, who played a key role in
the 1980's nuclear nonproliferation talks between presidents Reagan and
Gorbachev, spoke about the threat of nuclear arms escalation in the United
States and the former Soviet Union, as well as the state of
Russian-American relations in the present day. Topics that Vorontsov
discussed included Russian opposition to the expansion of NATO, Russian
economic reform, and new legislation by the Russian parliament regarding
freedom of religion in Russia.
Vorontsov questioned why the United States government invests $250 billion
per year in defense, but does little to provide for investments to help
Russia's economic and political stability. "We need investments in
Russia...twenty-five billion dollars would be a great investment to put us
on our feet," Vorontsov said. When asked about past problems with American
and Western European investments in Russian businesses going sour,
Vorontsov said that foreign businesspeople operating in Russia should start
with smaller investments, and should establish businesses with Russian
partners, to ensure that business can be conducted more smoothly.
Vorontsov admitted that the current Russian tax infrastructure did not lend
itself to the expansion of business within the country, and noted that
problems with the mafia have become serious roadblocks toward social and
When asked about the Russian parliament's recent legislation granting
special rights to the Russian Orthodox Church, Vorontsov explained that the
legislation places limits on religions "that we don't know about."
Vorontsov cited the recent surge of sect activity in Russia and expressed
concern that people were being led astray by "strange" religious sects with
large amounts of money.
After speaking to the ambassador personally over dinner, I was surprised at
how adamant he was on the issue of foreign investment in Russia. I did not
entirely agree that the simple provision of investment funds to Russia
would be the ultimate solution to create a stable economic and political
environment. I think that there are many more issues which need to be
addressed in order to motivate the process of reform in Russia. Foreign
investment, though an important part of the process, will not solve
I would be interested to hear any discussion or reaction to this topic. I
think that this is an important question that must be answered before the
West can justify such large investments in the Russian economy. Is the key
to economic reform purely a financial one?
St. Petersburg Times
OCTOBER 20-26, 1997
Visitors Pay To Breathe Air In Unwelcoming Moscow
By Mumin Shakirov
Mumin Shakirov is a staff writer for Novaya Gazeta.
MOSCOW can only be characterized today as a strict-regime zone - the
term used to describe the second most severe regime in Russia's labor
camps - despite the city's capitalist way of life and prominent
democratic mayor, Yury Luzhkov, who is beloved by prosperous Muscovites.
Even after the pompous celebrations of Moscow's 850th anniversary, the
Russian capital continues to be a police state that resembles the closed
cities in which secret nuclear facilities were found. The only
difference is that guests are allowed to come to the city if they pay
enormous sums of money.
According to Luzhkov's degree on visitor registration, any person from
another city, regardless of his citizenship, has the right to be in
Moscow not more than six months. An exception is made for people with
special status, such as diplomats, workers of international
organizations, foreign citizens from outside the Commonwealth of
Independent States and others.
Every citizen of the Russian Federation who does not have a Moscow
residence permit and does not live in the Moscow region is obliged to
register at the nearest police department within three days of his
arrival at friends or relatives. An exemption is made for people who are
staying in hotels or are in the hospital, where they are registered by
the local administrators.
Guests of the capital go through a true bureaucratic meat grinder for
several days. This is because all the places in which they are required
to register are found at various ends of the city. Moreover, the guests
must be accompanied by the owner of the apartment throughout the various
legal procedures. No one cares whether this person has free time or not.
Moreover, if he does not obtain the written agreement of all members of
the family, the registration is not valid.
First, a person staying with his friends is obliged to pay for the
utilities, despite the fact that they are paid by apartment owner
himself. Second, he must register as a renter of his host's apartment
and pay for this obligatory operation. The guest pays money regardless
of whether he or she is a friend, colleague or distant relative of the
host. In other words, to be a guest of an acquaintance means to rent his
The visitor must also pay for passport services at the police department
that issues him the registration permit. In the end, the Russian citizen
will have spent around $60 for these forms. (The average monthly salary
for a Russian citizen is 845,000 rubles, or $144.) Such is the price of
staying in Moscow for 45 days.
Even if the visitor registers for, say, 10 days, he is obliged to go
through these procedures from beginning to end, although he pays an
slightly smaller sum for utilities.
What happens if he does not submit to the Moscow government regulations?
If he is held by the police without a registration permit, he can
receive anything from a warning to a fine of up to $75.
This directly contradicts the Russian Constitution, which states that
every citizen of the Russian Federation has the right to move freely and
choose his place of residence. Moreover, the majority of citizens are
not in a position to pay such large sums of money to register.
Citizens of the CIS pay an even larger sum to be in Moscow - $100 - even
if they have simply come on a pleasure trip. And the average wage of all
the citizens of the CIS is well below this figure. If a foreigner is
caught without a registration permit, he can be forced to pay anywhere
from $80 to $300. And if he is caught more than once, he can be
forcefully expelled from the city by law-enforcement workers.
It can be said that Moscow is a city for the chosen. It is mostly
citizens from developed capitalist countries who are able to afford a
It should also be noted that close relatives, which includes parents,
children, brothers and sisters, have the right to exemptions. But they
must still have legal proof of their relations, and each of them must go
through the same registration steps, with the exception of the payment
Every day, hundreds of thousands of people come to Moscow. Of course,
the majority do not register, because they do not want to pay such
astronomic sums just so that they can breathe Moscow air. The revenues
that are generated from these dubious regulations go to the
rank-and-file police who check the documents of people on the streets
and at trading centers of Moscow every day. The visitor is fortunate if
he has a Slavic face and can lose himself among the Muscovite crowds. It
is quite another matter for people with Asian or Caucasian traits.
And it is precisely these people who are filling both the city's coffers
and the pockets of uniformed men. The police know full well that 90
percent of the capital's visitors do not have permits and literally hunt
these people down.
I understand the mayor's attempts to rebuild the city, provide for
pensioners' old age, stop the activities of criminal structures and
become a real master of the city, which he has partly managed to do
these past few years. But why create a police state and shake down
visitors to the city?
The rules for a temporary stay in Moscow give the impression that a
state of emergency has been introduced in the country.
Russia: Joining The Cybertimes, But Slowly
By Floriana Fossato
Ekaterinburg, Russia; 20 October 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Russian businesses, media
and educational institutions are increasingly turning to the World Wide Web,
joining a new communications revolution in a world no longer defined by
geographical and ideological boundaries.
Last week more than 80 Russian journalists and Internet operators met with
American specialists at a major conference in Ekaterinburg, the economic
capital of Russia's Ural region, to discuss the latest developments.
The three-day "New Media For A New World" conference was organized by the
local branch of the National Press Institute (NPI) with the support of a
newly-created Internet Center of the Ural State University and with
financing from USAID and the Open Society Foundation of American financier
and philanthropist George Soros.
Elena Pimenova heads NPI's Internet-media service, which supports programs
in more than 40 Russian cities. She told RFE/RL that NPI is seeking to reach
journalists interested in the Internet throughout Russia. The Ekaterinburg
conference attracted journalists from not only Moscow or the Far East, but
also from Ural regions (Ekaterinburg, Perm, Chelyabinsk, Kurgan, Orenburg),
central Siberia, St. Petersburg and the republics of Bashkortostan, Udmurtya
and Komi .
The Russian media have only recently started realizing the information and
business possibilities that the Internet can provide. There is no reliable
data on the number of Internet users in Russia, but the Russian Non-Profit
Center for Internet Technologies, which promotes the Internet in the
country, estimates that there are now about 600,000 wired Russians. The
Center estimates that this number doubles every year.
The growth has been hampered by Russia's antiquated telecommunications and
the relatively high price of computers and connectivity. Less than 20 out of
every 100 people in Russia have telephones. In many regions, people are
inscribed on years-long waiting lists before having a regular telephone
installed. This creates major difficulties for the diffusion of the Internet.
Telecommunication operators and experts say that Russia's telecom
infrastructure is unsuitable for modern communications. It is not expected
to reach Western standards for many years. But they also say that the
development of wireless, satellite-based communications may help Russia to
develop and make available to a growing number of users new satellite
But the Internet is only slowly spreading among media and educational
institutions. Several projects are currently under way to make Internet
connections available to university and media establishments nationwide.
The Soros Foundation is providing $100 million to create Internet centers
for 33 Russian institutions of higher education. The Russian government is
to set up telecommunication links between them and existing Internet Service
Providers. Ekaterinburg University, whose Internet center opened in August
this year, is the tenth such establishment to take advantage of the program.
In Ekaterinburg, Russian and American lecturers focused on the experiences
that international media, particularly those in America, have had on the
Web, emphasizing practical steps needed to use Internet resources not only
as a tool for information exchange, but also for advertising and commercial
This subject was of particular interest for the participants. Observers say
that the growth of the Russian Internet reflects the realization of its
commercial potential for the media, financial traders and banks to exchange
"Having our Web site is not only a question of prestige for us, it is our
future" says Dmitry Surnin, the deputy editor in chief of the most popular
paper in the Siberian town of Tomsk, a former center of Russia's
military-industrial complex. Surnin's independent "Tomskaya Nedelya" is a
32-page weekly publication with a circulation of 55,000. The majority of its
readers are under 35 years of age. It features community news, health,
sports and entertainment. It has at least four pages of advertising, but not
a single page on national political or economic subjects.
"The real problem is the kind of Web advertisement one wants to attract and
how to obtain it," says Konstantin Kanterov, deputy executive editor at
Novosibirsk's daily "Novaya Sibir." The paper has a circulation of 8,000 and
prominently features political, business and financial articles.
Jean Edwards, national on-line advertising manager for the American Knight-
Ridder publications, said at the conference that "it is not enough to put a
media product on line" to attract readers and advertisement. She emphasized
that computer and marketing specialists and "content producers" must work
together to create interactive Web sites to attract readers who are seen by
advertisers as potential buyers.
Oleg Vyushin, head of the Novosibirsk-based "Internet-initiative" that is
trying to expand the use of on-line advertisements on the Web pages of
several media in this Siberian town, said the main drawback is that
businesses in Russia's regions "simply don't understand why they would need
Web advertising, since they spend the majority of their advertising
resources in television adverts." Vyushin said that "the regional scene is
still largely underdeveloped."
Aleksandr Gruntsev, whose U.S.-based company "Russian Story" distributes
online some of Russia's major periodicals in full-graphic and full-text
format, said the situation has improved. Gruntsev is planning to launch a
virtual Russian book shop and noted that "two years ago Internet talk was
only concerning servers and technicalities. The debate on on-line media and
advertising is only starting now, but will surely develop quickly."
For the moment, said another participant, "Internet is giving Russian
central and regional media the possibility to go international."
Earthquake? bomb? US still debates Russian rumble
By David Storey
October 20, 1997
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two months after a ``seismic event'' in Russia that
sparked suspicions Moscow had violated a ban on nuclear tests, the U.S.
government still says it may have been a bomb although scientists say it was
It is ``some sort of an enigma,'' Robert Bell, special assistant to President
Clinton for national security affairs, said Monday, again leaving open the
possibility of a Russian nuclear blast.
``You can't rule out it was an earthquake. You can't rule out it was an
explosion,'' he said of the comparatively small Aug. 16 shudder close to the
Russian test site at Novaya Zemlya island between the Barents and Kara seas.
It was detected by sensors in Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia and
automatically reported to a monitoring center at Arlington, Virginia, just
``I believe the data very strongly showed that the 'event' was a small
earthquake in the ocean and not a nuclear explosion,'' said Dr Lynn Sykes, a
seismologist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
Sykes, an expert on using seismological methods to verify nuclear tests, said
the evidence showed the ``event'' was 80 miles from the test site and under
the Kara Sea.
Bell and Sykes, both speaking at a Washington seminar to discuss U.S.
ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, represented two sides of a
debate that has political, scientific and international ramifications.
Moscow denies it set off a nuclear device and even the Central Intelligence
Agency appears to be backing away from the likelihood of a test.
If Russia did carry out a clandestine test, it could erode the already shaky
trust among many in Washington for Russia's promises and undermine
administration efforts to secure Senate ratification for the CTBT.
The treaty is meant to lock nuclear powers into the moratorium on such tests
they are already observing.
A vote on ratification is expected next year, but discussion on the subject
in Congress starts later this month. U.S. legislation barring American tests
is conditional on Russia maintaining its moratoriuum.
The last confirmed test at Novaya Zemlya was in 1990.
News of the August ``event'' was initially kept under wraps, but the
Washington Post said Monday that a CIA report to the administration leaned
toward interpreting it as a nuclear explosion at the test site.
The CIA officially declined comment on the controversy Monday, but an
intelligence official said U.S. intelligence agencies had now determined that
the event took place in the Kara Sea, ``some distance'' from the range.
``We have not reached a conclusion as to whether that 'seismic event' was an
explosion or an earthquake,'' he said.
He said there was evidence that the Russians had been conducting
``nuclear-related experiments'' at the test site at the time of the seismic
The Post said heightened activity at Novaya Zemlya in mid-August, similar to
that before previous tests, may have prompted the CIA to leap to a
In response, the intelligence official defended the first agency report.
``Initial reports aren't ever as precise as you would like them to be,'' he
``Given the fact that there was strong indications of some heavy activity
going on at the Novaya Zemlya site and this very unusual seismic activity,
people reported that there was probably a connection. It turned out that
there probably isn't,'' he said.
Sykes pointed out that there had been four reported ''seismic events'' in the
area around Novaya Zemlya since 1986 and that scientists had concluded all
were small earthquakes.
Richard Garwin, a nuclear weapons expert with the privately funded Council on
Foreign Relations, said the most likely explanation of the August event was
also an earthquake.
If it were a nuclear explosion above the sea bed it would have been only a
very small one with limited value and there would be evidence in the water.
On the other hand it would be ``bizarre'' for the Russians to go to the
trouble of deep underwater drilling to set off an explosion they did not want
to have detected so close to the actual test site, he added.
GENERAL ROKHLIN READY TO FACE PROSECUTION ON APPEALS
"TO THROW DOWN REGIME"
MOSCOW, OCTOBER 20 (from RIA Novosti's Alexandra Akayeva) -
General Lev Rokhlin is willing to face public prosecution on
drastic pronouncements he made at the inaugural congress of his
Movement in Support of the Army and Military Industry and
Research, he said in a Moscow Echo radio company live cast
Gathered in Solnechnogorsk near Moscow yesterday, the
congress heard from him appeals "to throw down the regime"
before next spring comes. Whatever it will be doing, the
movement is determined to act constitutionally, the general
stressed in his radio interview.
The federal Prosecutor-General instructed the Military
Prosecutor-General to investigate the general's latest
scandalous appeals in addition to another investigation,
underway since last June, following his equally harsh addresses
to Russian soldiers and the President as Commander-in-Chief.
Though he was repeatedly inquiring about this latter
investigation, Mr. Rokhlin had never received any information,
he complained to the Moscow Echo. "If I really violated the
Constitution, I shall be the first to demand from the Duma to
deprive me of my parliamentary immunity," he said.
The Electronic Telegraph (UK)
21 October 1997
[for personal use only]
Hungary turns cool over place in Nato
By Julius Strauss in Budapest
A REFERENDUM on Hungary's application to join Nato may be scrapped.
Parliament is expected to vote today on whether the referendum will go
ahead after the six parliamentary parties quarrelled over an
accompanying question on land reform. The procedural difficulty has
served to underline an unease among Hungarians about Nato membership.
While politicians were treating the issue as if the 'yes' vote was
already a fait accompli, many Hungarians said they did not understand
what membership meant and wanted to know how much it will cost. Unlike
Poland, where support for joining Nato is close to 90 per cent, Hungary
is not directly threatened by Russia, with which it no longer has a
Hungary's traditions show a deep-rooted commitment to neutrality,
however unrealistic that may seem for a country poised on one of
Europe's most turbulent crossroads. In 1956, when Hungarians took on the
Soviet tanks, one of the key demands of the revolutionaries was the
formation of a neutral state along the lines of Austria.
American soldiers stationed in Hungary, who serve as a rearguard for the
Nato-led peace forces in Bosnia, have done little to encourage pro-Nato
sentiment. Locals who rejoiced when Soviet troops left in the early
1990s are now muttering angrily about the arrogance of the new
A government official in Budapest said: "I think if a charismatic
politician took up the cause of the 'no' camp, it would be a close-run
thing. At least when the Russians were here we could look down on them.
These Americans look down on us and we don't like that."
The government is doing all it can to ensure a majority in favour of
membership if the referendum goes ahead as planned next month. The
defence ministry has even paid television companies to incorporate
pro-Nato sub-plots in the country's most popular soap operas.
>From Russia Today press summaries
20 October 1997
Urinson and Honest Statistics
THE VICE-PREMIER SPEAKS ABOUT ECONOMY GROWTH, BUT THE PEOPLE HAVE NOT
The daily commented on the Friday press conference called by Deputy
Prime Minister and Economy Minister Yakov Urinson, in which he tried to
prove that economic growth has begun in Russia.
This year Russia has entered a period of economic stability. with
evident features of economic growth, he said, adding that all sectors of
the market were showing this tendency.
Bank credits have been extended to industrial enterprises, he said,
interest rates have declined and the average terms of credits have
The daily, however, questioned Urinson's conclusions, saying that all
economic growth probably falls in the shadow economy, which at present
comprises about 25 percent of the gross domestic product.
Besides, the situation with tax payments has grown worse, Nezavisimaya
wrote. Urinson himself did not deny this. Moreover, for next year the
government is predicting rather low budget revenues from taxes, which
means that the crisis in this sphere will continue.
>From Russia Today press summaries
Nevskoe Vremya (St. Petersburg)
20 October 1997
The Privatization of the Duma
At the beginning of the week, Konstantin Borovoi's statement that all
the Duma deputies take bribes hit like a bombshell.
He claimed that all major bills that come up for a vote are decided by
paying the deputies off -- for their vote either for or against. Of
course, it is nearly impossible to prove a case of bribe-taking. Yet,
everyone knows it is going on. It is often said that a Duma deputy does
not make less than $4,000 a month.
To check this claim, the author asked a friend, a Duma deputy, what he
thought. He said that the rank-and-file deputy is often not paid off for
his vote, but that the heads of committees and party leaders are on the
payrolls of leading financial structures.
There is a way to check just how the system of bribes works. It can best
be detected by studying just how abruptly deputies and parties change
their votes. The most recent example is the no-confidence motion last
week. Quite a large number of deputies suddenly and abruptly voted
against holding the debate.
It's useless to fight this corruption, the author commented. The police
cannot do anything. We live in a market economy, and the vote of a
deputy is just another commodity that is subject to the laws of the
market -- it can be bought and sold.
>From Russia Today press summaries
20 October 1997
Lead story and editorial
Distrust Is Everywhere
This week showed again that Russia's market economy is a twisted
political bazaar, the daily wrote.
There are few productive ideas in Russia. Many clever individuals make
their careers by taking advantage of the people's distrust in the
existing government and by trying to spoil someone else's reputation. It
is as if they are "selling" distrust.
The largest campaign in "selling" distrust is in the State Duma. It
seems the opposition has lost any sense of reality and any basic logic
to guide their behavior.
First, they call for a no confidence vote in the government, and then
they start calling for a roundtable discussion with the government,
saying that such methods will help them to pass needed laws and
regulations. But, now they once again say there will be a no- confidence
vote on Wednesday. The question arises: why doubt your partners in
Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov is completely lost now after
unsuccessfully promising that autumn will be a showdown that proves the
people's distrust to the government.
Social surveys show what people believe in: 45 percent support the
national-patriotic forces of the country, while 35 percent will defend
democracy. In this case, the president looks like a peacemaker.
Foreign and Russian experts predict that soon Russia will be "occupied"
by the new financial oligarchy, which will set up a capitalism that has
no social and economical benefits for the masses.
Kazakhs delay move to remote new capital
By Dmitry Solovyov
ALMATY, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Kazakh officials, diplomats and businessmen
dreading a move of Kazakhstan's capital from smog-bound Almaty to Akmola on
the central Asian country's icy northern steppe won a two-month reprieve on
The former Soviet republic's tame parliament backed a decree from no-nonsense
President Nursultan Nazarbayev calling for the shift to be put back to
December 10, two months later than originally planned.
Nazarbayev, who tolerates little opposition from his 17 million people, told
a joint session of the two houses of parliament that he might have adopted
the ``historic decision'' himself.
But he added ``This decision is so historically important that I decided to
ask the parliament to support it with its vote.''
A minute later parliament voted 94-1 to adopt the decree.
Nazarbayev made Akmola the Central Asian state's new capital in September,
The Soviet-era city of 300,000, lying in a vast expanse of flat, empty
steppe, is lashed by Siberian blizzards in winter and infested by ruthless
mosquitoes in summer.
Diplomats and foreign businessmen, for whom Almaty's surrounding mountains
and relative sophistication make up for some of the hardships of living in
the country, have put off moving to Akmola for as long as possible.
North American companies selling prefabricated log cabins are hoping to do a
roaring trade as a result of the move -- many of Akmola's residents still
collect water from street standpipes.
Nazarbayev has insisted on the move to Akmola for its strategic position in
Kazakhstan's centre while officials add privately that the new capital should
anchor the republic's predominantly Slav northern territory which borders
Scientists also expect a powerful earthquake to rock Almaty in the next
Hoping to dispel scepticism over the delayed move, Nazarbayev said: ``Earlier
today I received a congratulatory message from U.N. Secretary General Kofi
Annan... Anyway I think there must be no haste.''
But he admitted that not everything was ready for the move.
Nazarbayev said his palace, communications, flats for state bureaucrats, an
international airport and a new parliament building were not yet completed.
Dozens of Kazakh and foreign construction firms are working feverishly day
and night to spruce up Akmola's drab streets, now lined up with decrepit
Some have been covered with shiny plastic and expensive red bricks in an
attempt to hide their tawdry facades.
The president assured deputies that everything would be ready by December 5.
``By then you will have finished your work, you will have had short
vacations, so all of us will dash there (to Akmola) in a good mood,'' he
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