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Johnson's Russia List
7 December 1997
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Matt Taibbi: Re April Stines/Gorbachev.
2. Interfax: Ministry Issues Statistics on Crime in Russia.
3. Journal of Commerce: Robert Koenig, Shipping interests warm
to Russia's icy northeast passage.
4. John Helmer: American Banker Reluctant To Lend To Kremlin.
5. Obshchaya Gazeta: Anatoliy Kostyukov and Lev Sigal,
Has Reached Full Ripeness: But As Before, the Fruit Is Left for
the One Who Fancies It."
6. Jamestown Foundation's Prism: Vladimir Mironov, THE UPCOMING
MOSCOW CITY DUMA ELECTIONS.
7. The Sunday Times (UK): Mark Franchetti, Yeltsin rails at his
8. Reuters: Adam Tanner, Embalmer tells of secret terror of Lenin.
9. Rachel Douglas: Re "The Kremlin Poised" (Hellen/The Sunday
From: "Matt Taibbi" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: re: April Stines/Gorbachev
Date: Sat, 6 Dec 1997 15:04:40 +0300
This is in response to April Stines.
Whatever Gorbachev might have done ten or eleven years ago, under great
duress and in a vacuum of options, to relax the iron curtain, he is by now
almost totally insane. My newspaper, the eXile, convinced him this past
summer that we worked for Bill Parcells of the New York Jets, and for a fee
Gorbachev agreed to our proposal to become the "Perestroika Coordinator"
for the team. A year before that I watched him be laughed out of a press
conference when he suggested that a drunk who had punched him in Omsk was a
hired assassin. Not too many Nobel Laureates get laughed out of their own
Besides, Gorbachev admitted yesterday he doesn't even like pizza. A lot of
Russians suspect he felt the same way about democracy. Either way, he's
totally irrelevant, at least as far as Russians are concerned-- Filipov's
Ministry Issues Statistics on Crime in Russia
MOSCOW, Dec 3 (Interfax) -- Up to 60,000 members of organized criminal
groups are currently active in Russia, according to an Interior Ministry
report submitted to a government meeting on Thursday.
The share of crimes committed by mafias as a percentage of the total
has risen from 1.2-1.4% in previous years to 1.7% in 1997.
A larger number of crimes are being committed in the energy and raw
materials sectors. This year 24,300 crimes were registered there, up 21%
from last year.
In the first nine months of the year, 72.9% of crimes were
successfully investigated, up 2.9% compared to 1996. The investigations
of 1.2 million crimes, including 16,500 murders have been completed this
year. Law enforcement bodies thwarted 131,000 cases related to drag
trafficking. Six groups importing drugs from Central Asia to Moscow were
broken up. Officers identified 176,000 economic crimes which had cost the
state over 10 trillion rubles in losses.
The Interior Ministry is investigating a criminal group in the Ryazan
region suspected of committing over 70 contract killings and 17 explosions
which left 112 people dead and 47 wounded. The group has connections in
law enforcement and administrative agencies; it has penetrated legal
businesses and placed its members in the senior management positions of
large enterprises in the region.
Journal of Commerce
8 December 1997
[for personal use only]
Shipping interests warm to Russia's icy northeast passage
International research team evaluates physical and fiscal ramifications
of potential Arctic trade route.
BY ROBERT KOENIG
JOURNAL OF COMMERCE SPECIAL
HAMBURG -- Ever since England's King Henry VII sent explorer John Cabot
in search of a "northwest passage" to the Orient in 1497, Europeans have
been trying to find a maritime short cut to the Pacific Ocean and Asian
While explorers eventually found an ice-clogged northwest passage
through the Canadian Arctic, it never proved commercially feasible,
despite the $50 million "Manhattan" icebreaker project that oil firms
tested in the late 1960s.
Instead of that northwest passage, experts are now focusing research on
the northeast passage -- the Northern Sea Route -- over the Russian
Arctic. That icy route around Siberia is well known -- first traversed
by a Swede in 1878 -- but it was frozen to all but the Soviet Navy
during the Cold War.
The thawing of the Cold War prompted Russia to open the Northern Sea
Route to international maritime traffic in 1991, but that step failed to
solve other problems -- ranging from dangerous ice to commercial
limitations and run-down Siberian ports -- that continue to discourage
shippers from using the route.
"This concept remains an Arctic pipe dream," said a shipping expert with
one of Europe's major sea carriers. "There are too many negatives, and
too few positives, to make the route worthwhile for us."
But an international research group -- funded by Norwegian, Russian and
Japanese interests -- has been working since 1993 to determine the
feasibility of using that northeast passage. That International Northern
Sea Route Program (INSROP), has commissioned some 50 reports on nearly
every aspect of the route, from icebreaker technology to marine
And while skeptics regard the route as unsuitable for commercial
ventures other than regional Siberian shipping, the Japanese think the
route has potential for shipping Russian raw materials to Japan.
INSROP sees route as viable
One of the main players in INSROP is Japan's Ship & Ocean Foundation,
which has sponsored research into the route -- including the Japanese
Shipbuilding Research Association's program to design a nuclear-powered
According to an INSROP-funded study by Japanese researchers,
"transporting cargo through the Northern Sea Route with a nuclear
ice-breaking containership is economically feasible."
Also, the successful INSROP-sponsored voyage of an ice-strengthened
Russian vessel, the MV Kandalaksha, through the Northern Sea Route in
August 1995 has spurred the Japanese to plan a more ambitious test
voyage l ate next year.
Nobuo Kozu, president of the Ship & Ocean Foundation, said recently that
Japan's main interest in INSROP's current phase is to find out whether
commercial navigation is feasible on the northern sea route, and to
"come up with concrete proposals to realize the route's commercial
For Japan, that potential is great, because a straight route from Japan
to a Siberian port would cut thousands of miles from the usual route,
through the Suez Canal, to north The distance from Yokohama to Hamburg,
using the Northern Sea route, would be 6,600 nautical miles -- against
11,400 nautical miles for the Suez Canal route.
EU leader expresses interest
Last year, Neil Kinnock, the European Union's commissioner for
transportation, said a northern sea route "could clearly be developed in
the medium or long term."
He added: "Considering the huge reserves of oil, gas and other minerals
in northern Siberia, the development of the northern Russian coastline
could naturally be of great interest to the European Union."
But the main challenge to opening a northern sea route in cold months
remains the same as ever: breaking safe passages through icy seas and
building new loading terminals at under-developed and often ice-clogged
The Russian Navy and the Port of Murmansk have giant icebreakers that
keep open some sea lanes in the winter months, and some shipping experts
suggest that similar technology might be used for commercial lanes. But
the costs might be prohibitive during especially cold years.
Not of interest to some
Also, the lack of good ports along the Siberian coast, and the current
dearth in desirable cargo, deters many European ocean carriers.
Klaus Heims, a spokesman for Hamburg's Hapag-Lloyd AG, which has
specialized in Europe-Asia trade for decades, said the northern route
"is not interesting for us."
"The northern route might be shorter, but there are many disadvantages,
including the high costs of 'ice-class' vessels and the lack of major
ports along the route," Mr. Heims said. "Our ships now stop at ports in
the Middle East, Southeast Asia and East Asia on the way to and from
But some INSROP experts say the potential exists to develop the northern
route over the next decade, assuming Russia keeps the route open to
international maritime traffic, and allows Siberian exports to be
shipped to northern ports such as Murmansk, rather that southward to
Black Sea ports.
Regional use forecast
Claes Lykke Ragner, deputy head of the INSROP secretariat at Norway's
Fridtjof Nansen Institute, says many experts believe that "while
international transit traffic on the Northern Sea Route is still far
into the future, the regional use -- exporting mainly oil and gas from
northern Russia -- can become a reality in the not-so-distant future."
One of the biggest problems for major ocean carriers would be finding
insurance for their vessels in the icy Arctic waters. But Peter Leckie
Wright, a Canadian expert who is helping analyze the marine insurance
situation, believes "there will be a viable Marine Insurance market
available if and when the (Northern Sea Route) program becomes an
Added Douglas Brubaker, a U.S. law-of-the-sea expert who works on the
INSROP project at Nansen: "Clearly, the route has potential. And our
data base will help governments, businesses, and researchers to make
better judgements on whether to pursue the northern sea route."
Russia: American Banker Reluctant To Lend To Kremlin
By John Helmer
Prague, 5 December 1997 (RFE/RL) - American banker, Boris Jordan, an ally of
one of Russia's largest banks Uneximbank, has said he aims to enter the
bidding for Rosneft, the Russian state oil holding company. But Jordan also
says his Moscow business unit, the soon to be merged Renaissance Capital and
MFK Bank, does not want to act as an interim lender to the government on the
deal - before the privatization is complete.
Last week, First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais said an interim
loan might be sought before the end of the month, in exchange for Rosneft
shares. It is believed the government would like to borrow $1 billion this
month, in the expectation of raising $2 billion, when 63 percent of
Rosneft's shares are privatized by tender in the first quarter of 1998.
This idea, Chubais has acknowledged, is "one variant" for raising
emergency cash to pay the government's wage arrears bill by January 1, as
pledged by President Boris Yeltsin. Chubais this week summoned top Western
and Russian bankers for what reports say were talks on a
2,000-million-dollar emergency loan to pay the arrears.
Loans-for-shares deals have been declared unlawful by the Accounting
Chamber, Russia's independent state auditor, which reports to Parliament.
Payments of $90,000 each to Chubais and four of his ministerial
colleagues by Uneximbank, which has benefited from several of the
loans-for-shares deals already, were the reason Yeltsin dismissed the four,
and Chubais was forced late last month to give up his Finance Ministry post.
Jordan helped arrange several of the early loans-for-shares deals. But
his spokesman tells RFE/RL that Jordan concedes that there would be a
serious conflict of interest, if Jordan and the Renaissance Capital-MFK
organization were to give the government a cash advance, before bidding in
the tender for Rosneft shares.
The Rosneft deal will be the largest privatization of a state asset to be
held in Russia, so far. By proposing a $1 billion advance payment - before
the privatization actually takes place, Chubais has drawn fresh criticism
for paving the way for another Uneximbank takeover.
What makes the Rosneft privatization so controversial now is not only the
value of the assets it controls, industry analysts say, but, also the
influence-peddling scandals associated with earlier privatization decisions.
"The fact is that Chubais and the bankers are exploiting the failure of
the government to meet its obligations, and pay wage arrears," a veteran
Moscow analyst (anonymous) tells RFE/RL. "The financial crisis has left the
government desperately short of cash. Chubais and his allies are offering to
come up with some of this cash, in exchange for control over Rosneft shares."
Western bankers and lawyers say they are skeptical that a $1 billion loan
can be negotiated without violating Russian law.
Yabloko: Steps To Establish Own Identity
Obshchaya Gazeta, No. 45
November 13-19, 1997
[translation for personal use only]
Article by Anatoliy Kostyukov and Lev Sigal: "Yabloko Has Reached Full
Ripeness: But As Before, the Fruit Is Left for the One Who Fancies It"
The fiasco which was crowned by the Duma Communist-patriots and
Yabloko coming out in concert against Chernomyrdin's cabinet was by no
means a general moral defeat for all the participants in the ill-starred
demarche. Yabloko, for example, emerged from this row without a single dent
in its reputation. It was, rather, the other way round—the October
conflict gave the Yavlinskiyites a chance to complete the formation of
their image, and they used it to the hilt. It might be said that the
modeling of Yabloko's political image is now completed, and the sculptors
need not worry about its recognizability—it is not hard to
distinguish it from other persons and masks, even in complete darkness.
Four Balls in One Puddle
The search for identity is not, it must be noted, a speedy
job--the Yavlinskiyites spent four years of struggle and labor on it.
In the process of acquiring a personality, Yabloko had to solve at least
four problems in succession—none any easier than the other.
Problem Number One--convince the public that Yabloko is an
organization that is, although democratic, also oppositional, and that this
does not endanger the cause of democracy. The idea is that it is possible
to be a democrat and at the same time criticize Yeltsin, but in 1993-1994
this was still a new idea, and it therefore took a long time to be
convincing. The attempts of supporters of democratic unity to make
Yavlinskiy listen to reason, to reconcile with Yeltsin, stopped only by the
end of the last presidential campaign.
Problem Number Two--ensure Yabloko the status of the only
democratic alternative regime. In 1994-1995, Gaydar's Demvybor, and the
fading Demrossiya, and the swarm of newborn democratoid mini-parties
repeatedly took it on themselves to oppose Yeltsin, and the Yavlinskiyites
therefore had to disassociate themselves from the "like-thinkers for a day"
as quickly as possible. It was no easy task to explain convincingly why the
union of Yavlinskiy and Gaydar was not only impossible, but also harmful,
but in the end they succeeded.
Problem Number Three--make the public change its opinion that
Yabloko, in crossing over to stiff opposition, had actually rolled over to
the camp of the Communists and nationalists. Beginning in 1995, the
accusations that the Yavlinskiyites were cooperating with the "reds" became
commonplace in official counter-propaganda, and even Zyuganov--in his
own interest--sporadically popularized this scenario. Yavlinskiy had
to simultaneously toughen his criticism of the government and exceedingly
exacerbate his relations with the undesirable fellow-travelers, regularly
establishing them as guilty of pseudo-oppositionism, cowardice, and
mercenary-mindedness. As a result, Zhirinovskiy came to hate him even more
than he hated Chubays, and Zyuganov enrolled him among the "destroyers of
the Motherland" with whom the Communists and the patriots could not have
even a superficial alliance.
Problem Number Four--achieve Yabloko's recognition as the only
logical parliamentary opposition. Messrs Zhirinovskiy and Zyuganov
partially solved this problem by repeatedly revealing their inclination to
mutually advantageous deals with the "antinational regime." The head of the
government made the point--in the course of a discussion on a vote of
no confidence, the leader of Yabloko proved to be the only member of the
opposition on whom Viktor Stepanovich conferred personal criticism.
Chernomyrdin thus helped Yavlinskiy to prove, it would appear, the
unprovable--the fact that the political base of the present government
is a coalition of the NDR-LDPR-CPRF [Russia Is Our Home, Liberal-Democratic
Party of Russia, Communist Party of the Russian Federation], and
consequently, the Yablochniks, as sincere democrats, have simply no way out
other than to quarrel with this government.
Either a Party or a Sect
The image problems have thus been successfully solved. What next?
All the sociological services establish the popularity of Yabloko and
predict an increase of the Yabloko representation in the next Duma.
According to the polls most flattering to the Yavlinskiyites (data of an
institute of humanitarian-political research), this association was the
leader in the public's affections, not only in Petersburg, but also in
Moscow, having left Nash Dom and Demvybor behind: 36 percent of the
capital's inhabitants who have determined their political predilections are
prepared to vote for it. On the whole for Russia, the number of Yabloko
fans has leapt to 15 percent.
This increase does not mean, however, that Yabloko is slowly but
surely becoming the leader of the "protest" electorate and is beginning to
pull votes away from Zyuganov, from Zhirinovskiy, or at least from Lebed.
The augmentation, as sociologists attest, comes exclusively at the cost of
the supporters of Yegor Gaydar and the smaller democratic leaders, and what
is more, perhaps from Svyatoslav Fedorov. In other words, Yabloko remains,
as before, locked in its intelligentsian "electoral ghetto," and this means
that under the present conditions, no more than that 15 percent will jump
to it. With resources like this, it is difficult to win even first place in
the Duma and it is altogether laughable to count on a victory in the
Yavlinskiy and the Yavlinskiyites have repeatedly stated that they are
ready to "work with people who vote for the Communists and nationalists out
of despair." At one time, Grigoriy Alekseyevich thought about an alliance
with the democratic left, and about establishing ties with the trade
unions, where he has supporters among the leaders. The matter never went
beyond intentions, however. With which people to "work" and how, strictly
speaking, this should be done, are problems which the Yabloko leaders did
not solve for themselves even in a first approximation.
A cohesive and qualified parliamentary faction was enough to create a
bright, memorable image for the association. Mastery of the masses is a
task for a strong, well-organized party which has a large active
grass-roots membership, a healthy cash fund and its own "party literature."
Yabloko concedes, on all these points, not only to the "party in power,"
but also to the Communists (including the RCWP) and the Zhirinovskiyites,
and indeed, perhaps, even to Lebed.
The association's latest, fifth, congress, which was held in December
of last year, decided that Yabloko had ripened to the point of being
transformed into a party. It was time, at last, to switch over into a
unified organization of the present, a conglomerate, oddly complicated in
its outlines, of micro-parties and individual members, at times carrying a
few party membership cards in their pockets. (Incidentally, this entire
conglomerate numbers scarcely more than 5,000 people on its lists.)
Definite results are at hand: In Moscow, Yaroslavl, and a number of other
provinces the regional divisions have already become party divisions, and
in February the next Yabloko congress is to be held, at which collective
and dual membership will evidently be abolished.
The process of party-building is proceeding in an excruciatingly
sluggish manner, however. For almost a year, the Yavlinskiyites could not
decide just who in Moscow were genuine comrades of Yavlinskiy and who were
pretenders. As a result, three alternative groups of envoys arrived with
their party lists at the electoral committee for elections to the Duma of
the city of Moscow--and they all called themselves "Yabloko." The
leaders of the association ultimately decided to introduce order, after
creating a Yabloko Moscow Party from the 40 members, and actually excluding
about 700 persons by reason of anarchy. Something similar also happened in
Karelia and, in less extreme forms, in many other regions.
The lack of organizational success is the result of the classic
intelligentsia sloppiness and individualism. Party-building in Yabloko was
entrusted to Vyacheslav Igrunov, Yavlinskiy's deputy, whose every attempt
to establish at least some sort of order is quite successfully blocked by
the adversaries of "interparty dictatorship." This means that from a
distance it is not even clear if the Yablochniks really do want to build a
party or if this is against their rebellious nature.
For the time being, we can judge with no more certainty the readiness
of the Yavlinskiyites to make corrections in their ideology and tactics.
While they were engaged in working on the image of the only genuine
opposition, they were forced to avoid tactical unions in every way
possible, sometimes with unnecessary abruptness, emphasizing their
piece-work nature, their "separateness from others." To maintain this line
of behavior endlessly, however, means to remain a "couch party" of endless
arguers and nonconformist sects, which will never get hold of power.
Now, when the image problem has been solved, Yabloko can, it would
appear, begin cautiously to seek allies, with whom it can come in a bunch
to "dig up" related beds of electorate. In what direction to search for
comrades is also in no way a binomial theorem. Even though Yabloko's leader
is perceived as a fully orthodox liberal, quite a few social-democrats have
gathered under the roof of his association. So far, this has caused no
internal aggravations, and this means that experience in peaceful
ideological coexistence may become a token of Yabloko's conflict-free drift
to the side of social democracy. On this path, the Yavlinskiyites can take
on board not only the small cells of the numerous ex-social-democrats, but
also the large trade unions, which have long dreamed of setting up their
own political organization, but have not found a sufficiently brilliant
In principle, Grigoriy Yavlinskiy can remain a firm liberal and
persuade his supporters that a change in the tax rates and the passage of a
new Budget Code can put an end to the "criminal oligarchical regime," but
what will this give him? At best he will win over the last electors of
Gaydar, and nip off a little from the NDR--in total, this will add at
the very most 5 percent of the votes. Another electoral potential—the
social-democrats. For the time being, this is a treasure-house which is not
actively utilized--there are tens of millions of votes passing either
to various types of "centrists," or to the Communists, or in general, those
which have not reached the ballot-box. The fundamental idea of the
social-democrats--intensification of state regulation of the
economy--is so popular that even such an inveterate liberal as Chubays
was forced to turn to it.
In Yabloko, however, the fear of losing face is for the time being
stronger than its readiness for ideational compromises and tying up useful
acquaintances. "In any union, we lose the self-sufficiency which is our
advantage"--Sergey Mitrokhin, OG columnist and member of the
Yabloko-bureau, said with conviction the other day. Self-sufficient
inclinations are, possibly, acceptable for the parliamentary opposition,
but surprising for a party that wants to see its leader the head of the
state. (Or is there nothing of the sort in the plans of the Yavlinskiyites
and Yavlinskiy? This is a question that Yabloko supporters ask regularly,
and apparently, not without reason.)
If you insist on the point of view that the electorate itself should
ripen to the correct choice, and it is a shame to cater to its undeveloped
taste, then authority will still, for an unpredictably long time, be the
spoils of people with a broader outlook on life.
THE JAMESTOWN FOUNDATION
A BI-WEEKLY ON THE POST-SOVIET STATES
Vol.III No.20 Part 3
5 December 1997
THE UPCOMING MOSCOW CITY DUMA ELECTIONS
By Vladimir Mironov
Vladimir Alekseevich Mironov is a Candidate of Historical Sciences, and a
Senior Research Fellow of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of
Economic and Political Studies.
Russia is moving more and more confidently along the democratic path of
development. The procedures prescribed in the Constitution and the other
relevant laws are becoming normal attributes of Russian life. The population
of the Russian capital is now preparing for elections for deputies to
Moscow's City Duma, or legislative assembly. Voting will take place in
Moscow's 35 electoral districts on December 14.
In the initial stages of the elections, the City Electoral Commission
registered the 33 electoral blocs and organizations which nominated
candidates for the post of deputy. Aspiring candidates then had until
November 13 to collect the signatures of no less than one percent of the
residents of the electoral district in which he or she wanted to run. Many
candidates fell out of the race at this stage. Some were unable to raise the
necessary money to run an expensive campaign. Others failed to collect the
required number of signatures.
The third stage -- campaigning among the voters -- will officially conclude
on December 12, leaving one day for tempers to cool before polling day.
Why Moscow Is Different
The elections have attracted wide interest not only in the capital, but
nationwide. There are several reasons for this.
First of all, in spite of the widespread assertion that "Moscow is not
Russia," the capital remains a sacred place, a symbol for the whole country.
Russia continues, so to speak, to set its watch by Moscow time. Control of
Moscow's legislature would bolster the position of the victorious electoral
blocs in future campaigns in other Russian regions and, even more
significant, in upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections.
Second, Moscow is the center of Russian political life. Moscow City Duma
deputies have far better lobbying opportunities than do their colleagues in
other regions of Russia. They have a chance to influence the functioning of
federal institutions both by creating city legislation and by forming the
basic principles of relations between local government and the federal
center. While they are deputies to a regional legislative body, therefore,
they have a de facto claim to a higher status in state structures.
Third, by participating in the Moscow election campaign, various groups in
the federal political elite will have the chance to test their ability to
form common candidate lists. At the same time, the absence of a unified list
of democratic candidates could be indirect evidence that, in the opinion of
the leadership of democratic parties and movements, there is no perceived
threat to the political and economic interests of the strata of Russian
society these movements represent.
Fourth, for the parties and movements united in the opposition-oriented
Popular-Patriotic Union of Russia, the Moscow elections will provide a
chance to ascertain the mood of the population in this stronghold of
democracy. If the opposition parties were successful here, they could count
on increasing their influence still further in Russia's traditional "Red
Belt" or in regions whose political allegiance is a little more shaky.
Then and Now
These will be the first elections for the Moscow City Duma since President
Boris Yeltsin disbanded the Moscow City Soviet in the fall of 1993. There
are several important differences between the present Moscow City Duma
campaign and the last campaign for the city legislature, which took place in
December 1993. Most significantly, the incumbent Duma was elected in the
wake of Yeltsin's all-out battle with the Russian Supreme Soviet; it
contained no opposition members and was dominated by representatives of the
pro-government "Russia's Choice."
In 1995, the deputies refused to schedule new elections and instead
extended their term for a further two years. This provoked a two-year court
case that ended this summer with a ruling that the Duma had acted illegally
in extending its powers.
Competition for seats is tougher this time than before (between ten and
fifteen candidates for each seat, compared with five or six in 1993).
Moreover, it has become more expensive to run a campaign (it is estimated
that each candidate will have to spend $100,000 and $150,000). (1)
According to the chairman of the Moscow City Electoral Commission, only
one-third of the candidates this time have been nominated by electoral
blocs. The rest are independent candidates who have either expressed a
desire to run, or been nominated by groups of voters. (2)
Candidates and Blocs
The 33 electoral blocs and voter groups include, among others, the Moscow
organization of Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia,
the Moscow branch of the nationwide "Honor and Motherland" movement, and the
radical association "For the Right to Life -- For the Right to Live Under
the Rule of Law."
The opposition parties are united in the "My Moscow" electoral bloc, which
was the first to register. This bloc, which is led by Aleksei Podberezkin,
includes the Moscow organizations of the Communist Party of the Russian
Federation (CPRF), the Agrarian Party, the "Popular Alliance" inter-regional
patriotic movement, the Moscow branch of the nationwide "Spiritual Heritage"
movement, Lev Rokhlin's "For the Security of the Fatherland," the Russian
Party, and the regional organization of the Russian All-People's Union.
Candidates from this bloc will run in 29 electoral districts. The list of
candidates includes 13 representatives of the CPRF, 8 from the "Spiritual
Heritage" movement, two each from the Agrarian Party, the "Popular Alliance"
and the Union of Afghan Veterans, and one each from "For the Security of the
Fatherland," and the Russian Party. (3)
The leaders of the Moscow branches of the pro-government "Russia is Our
Home," "Russia's Democratic Choice," and Yabloko have not managed to unite
in a single democratic bloc. They have however succeeded in dividing
Moscow's electoral districts, so that a single liberal candidate will run in
each constituency and the democratic candidates will not end up running
against each other. This was a very complicated process, since 18 of the 35
incumbent deputies to the City Duma are members of "Russia's Democratic
Choice" and there are no representatives of Yabloko there. "Russia is Our
Home" did not even exist at the time of the 1993 elections. Agreement was
nonetheless reached that "Russia's Democratic Choice" candidates (nine of
whom are incumbent deputies) would run in 11 districts; Yabloko candidates
would run in nine districts, and representatives of "Russia is Our Home"
would run in eight. In addition, the Kadet party, Irina Khakamada's "Common
Cause" movement, and the "Democratic Russia" party are each running one
The "For Justice" bloc includes Yury Petrov (former head of President Boris
Yeltsin's administration, now head of the State Investment Company); the
Moscow branch of Svyatoslav Fedorov's Party of Workers' Self-Government;
Artur Chilingarov's Russian United Industrial Party; Lyudmila Vartazarova's
Socialist Workers' Party; Vasily Lipitsky's Social-Democratic Union and
Martin Shakkum's Socialist People's Party. (5) It is rumored to be even more
enthusiastically supportive of Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov than the other blocs.
The "Nikolai Gonchar" bloc has attracted especial attention since it is the
only bloc that has adopted a platform critical of the way Mayor Yury Luzhkov
runs the city. "In this city, there should be a separation of powers, but
the present Moscow City Duma is nothing but a pie with no filling," the bloc
asserts. (6) The bloc, which was set up by the "Our City" movement, the
Moscow Association of Councils of Territorial and Social Self-Government,
and the Moscow branch of the Democratic Party of Russia, includes 33
candidates. (7) The bloc's criticism of Luzhkov marks it out from all the
other blocs. All the other candidates -- even those from Yabloko and "My
Moscow"-- have angled for Luzhkov's support. The mayor's favor is generally
considered to be worth quite a bit. Some politicians think it will guarantee
an additional 20-25 percent of the vote. (8)
In general, the programs of the election blocs are less ideological than in
earlier campaigns. Even the leaders of the "My Moscow" bloc stress that
"Muscovites support the Mayor's actions" and focus on solving the city's
ecological and transportation problems. It is striking that "My Moscow"
includes people who are very different from each other ideologically,
ranging from the rector of the Literary Institute, Sergei Yesin; the first
secretary of the Moscow City Committee of the CPRF, Aleksandr Kuvaev; and
the former leader of the Smena group of deputies to the Russian Supreme
Soviet, Andrei Golovin.
A similar situation has taken shape in the "Nikolai Gonchar's" bloc, with
Gonchar acknowledging that his bloc is formed not on ideological principles
but on a professional basis. The bloc includes both market economist Larisa
Piyasheva and the socialist Boris Kagarlitsky as candidates. (9)
Another feature of this election is the fact that the Moscow Electoral
Commission has played an unusually assertive role in registering electoral
blocs. To be precise, the commission has refused to register those parties
and movements which, in violation of Article 21 of the Moscow City Law "On
the Election of Deputies to the Moscow City Duma," had not registered their
charters six months before the announcement of the election date with the
Moscow Justice Department or the federal Justice Ministry. Organizations
refused registration on these grounds include the Moscow organizations of
the Association of Officers of the Russian Navy, the "Alternative" movement,
the "Kedr" ecological movement, the Democratic Party of Russia's youth
league, and Yabloko's youth league.
The law enforcement agencies have also been unusually active, checking each
candidate to ensure that he or she does not have a criminal record.
According to the deputy head of the Moscow branch of the Interior Ministry,
law enforcement agencies took care to ensure that "criminal elements will
not penetrate the city's legislative body." (10) The courts have also been
involved, not only to determine that the incumbent City Duma was acting
within its rights in scheduling the elections for December 1997, but also to
confirm that date and to rule in cases where parties and voter groups
challenge the Electoral Commission's refusal to register them.
1. Russkii telegraf, September 19, 1997, October 18, 1997
2. Segodnya, October 10, 1997
3. Segodnya, September 17, 1997; Nezavisimaya gazeta, September 30, 1997
4. Segodnya, October 6, 1997; October 15, 1997; Izvestia, October 9, 1997
5. Nezavisimaya gazeta, September 30, 1997; Russkii telegraf, October 18, 1997
6. Russkii telegraf, October 7, 1997
7. Russkii telegraf, October 17, 1997
8. Obshchaya gazeta, No. 39, October 2-8, 1997
9. Nezavisimaya gazeta, September 30, 1997; Obshchaya gazeta, No. 39,
October 2-8, 1997
10. Segodnya, September 26, 1997
Translated by Mark Eckert
The Sunday Times (UK)
December 7, 1997
[for personal use only]
Yeltsin rails at his ministers
BORIS YELTSIN, the Russian president, has summoned his entire government
to the Kremlin's marble hall to berate them on live television for their
failure to resolve the country's worsening economic crisis, writes Mark
The unprecedented showdown with 150 ministers and senior bureaucrats
tomorrow is intended to silence critics who say Yeltsin appeared frail
and confused during a visit to Sweden last week. He is expected to
reassert his authority by waving his fists, raising his voice and
accusing his government of failing him and the Russian people.
"I want to look our ministers in the eye and ask them the same questions
that people are putting to me as the head of state," Yeltsin said. "We
need an honest analysis of the state of affairs in our economy.
"This analysis will show what marks we should give the prime minister,
his deputies and ministers." Some "bad ministers" might be dismissed, he
Viktor Chernomyrdin, the prime minister, and Anatoli Chubais, his
reformist first deputy, could come in for criticism. As members of the
government spent the weekend working frantically on their reports, some
- including Alexander Pochinok, the beleaguered tax minister - were said
to be clearing their Kremlin desks already.
The government's failure to collect more than 40% of its tax revenue has
contributed to wage arrears of $1 billion (£600m) owed largely to
doctors and teachers. More than 700 schools failed to open on September
1 - the first day of the school year, as teachers took to the streets to
Yeltsin's television stunt in Moscow will make little difference to
Ludmilla Zorina, 42, a mathematics teacher in Kirov, 60 miles away. She
has not received her monthly salary of $48 since last April. Zorina and
her colleagues went on strike last month. "We have lived on credit," she
said. "We don't know how to cope any more."
Yeltsin has repeatedly promised to pay back all wage arrears by January
1, but few Russians believe him. "That's why nobody in the
administration feels safe," said Vyacheslav Nikonov, head of a think
tank which advises the government.
Embalmer tells of secret terror of Lenin
By Adam Tanner
MOSCOW, Dec 7 (Reuters) - In 1941 Ilya Zbarsky boarded a train in Moscow to
accompany the remains of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin to a secret location in Siberia.
He was to stay by the side of the founder of the Soviet state until the
end of World War Two.
By that time Lenin had been dead for two decades, but Zbarsky was charged
with keeping him looking as he did when he died in January 1924.
``It was not especially pleasant work,'' said Zbarsky, 84, who has just
published his memoirs ``In the Shadow of the Mausoleum.''
``My position was very dangerous, you could be arrested for a wrong word
and even shot...Even a minor fault could be dangerous because Stalin was the
leader and there was the terror of dictatorship,'' he said in an interview.
Zbarsky broke his silence a few years ago when he first began to reveal
grizzly details of how his father Boris and Professor Valdimir Vorobyov
preserved Lenin's body in 1924.
Zbarsky's book, published in French in October and expected to be
translated later into English and German, adds even more detail to the
strange tale, which was a state secret in Soviet times.
The initial autopsy on Lenin involved the cutting of veins, which are the
traditional pipeline for embalming fluid.
Moscow had decided that the body had to be preserved, so the embalmers
had to come up with a new technique.
They produced the initial idea of freezing the body, and this was
approved by the Soviet government despite the doubts of other scientists.
But as the weather began to get warmer in March of 1924, the embalmers
had to come up with a new plan.
``The equipment which was very rare at this time -- refrigerators were
just in their first stages -- was brought from abroad and began to be
installed in the mausoleum,'' Zbarsky said.
``During this time Lenin's body began to deteriorate...and the equipment
for freezing was not yet ready.''
Vorobyov headed a new effort to preserve the body chemically, and came up
with a method of immersion.
``The body was washed with water, with different concentrations of
alcohol, then with elevated solutions of potassium acetate. Then it was put
into a bath,'' Zbarsky said. ``In several spots on several sides of the body
cuts were done for better penetration and permeability of this solution.''
Lenin's current carers confirm that the technique remains the same to
this day -- several months in the bath every 18 months, and a touch-up dab
of solution twice a week.
Zbarsky started working in Lenin's granite mausoleum on Red Square in
1934 as an assistant to his father and Vorobyov.
``As I was studying physiology in the biological faculty of the
university, I had some experience with the human corpse.
``But as it was Lenin's body I was afraid to touch it for some time.
Afterwards it began to become routine work.''
Even then, the fear of something going wrong with Lenin gripped the
entire team of embalmers.
``The most dangerous were the moles which appeared from time to time, the
spots,'' he said.
``We could be punished for a minor fault, we were always in stress...On
the other hand, we were in a privileged position in comparison to our
Zbarsky accompanied his father and the body to Tyumen during World War
Two as distance was put between Lenin and the advancing Nazi forces. ``It
was top secret, but nonetheless the population of the city could guess
this,'' he said.
Zbarsky lost his job at the mausoleum in 1952 after his father was
arrested in a final wave of Stalinist repression. The son then got a job
doing cancer research and still shows up at his Moscow laboratory several
times a week.
A RARE SPECIMEN HIMSELF
Zbarsky, with a crop of white hair, bushy eyebrows and a sharp memory,
appears far younger than his true age, and keeps a sense of humour about his
``I haven't embalmed myself, certainly,'' he said when asked about the
secret of his longevity. ``The majority of my friends are dead and I
survived this difficult period, but I have no special secret.''
The well-preserved Lenin, Zbarsky's legacy, remains open to the public's
gaze in Red Square five days a week, although the embalmer says he has not
visited the body since the 1950s.
He says he never had faith in communism even though he was once a party
member. Only as a child did he believe Lenin was a great leader.
Infuriating Russia's dwindling band of old-time Communists, Zbarsky
maintains that Lenin has spent enough time above ground and should now be
``My opinion is to inter the body,'' he said. ``It is not a tradition of
Russian people, of civilised people in general, to make some relics of
chiefs of the government and party.''
President Boris Yeltsin has spoken in favour of burying Lenin several
times in recent years, but has then backed down under pressure from those
who want to keep this symbol of revolution on public display.
From: email@example.com (Rachel Douglas)
Subject: Re: "The Kremlin Poised" (Hellen/The Sunday Times/JRL#1401)
Date: Sat, 6 Dec 1997 19:23:32 -0500
I was glad to see Dale Herspring suggest caution (JRL#1402), regarding the
Sunday Times account of a Soviet first strike nearly happening in November
1983. Perhaps others also noticed, that the reported timing is not a new
story. The Heuser/Freedman version, presented as derived from NVA archival
material, closely replicates the report circulated by KGB defector Oleg
Gordievsky in the fall of 1988 and, later, in his book "KGB-The Inside
Story" (with Christopher Andrews, Harper Collins, NY 1990). The "packaging"
of the story is also the same, namely the assertion that the SDI, per se,
would have been the casus belli. Evidently, Gordievsky did ring an alarm
bell in October 1983, telling his SIS contacts that Yuri Andropov was about
to push the button. President Reagan, in his autobiography ("An American
Life," Simon & Schuster), indicated that he took at face value the reports
of Andropov's belief that the U.S. was going to launch war, but reassured
Andropov that the U.S. had no such plans. In any event, it's curious that
King's College researchers Heuser and Freedman don't mention the widely
publicized "Gordievsky" pre-history of their story. Or, maybe they do, and
Hellen didn't report it.