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Johnson's Russia List
8 December 1997
[Note from David Johnson:
1. St. Petersburg Times: Perils of Analogizing History.
Michael McFaul responds to "Perils of Chubais Illustrate
Anarchy and Authority, Not Democracy," by Tim McDaniel.
2. Reuters: Timothy Heritage, Yeltsin set to meet old foes,
3. Time magazine: Paul Quinn-Judge, WOLVES ON THE PROWL.
MEN OF POWER ARE FEASTING ON THE SPOILS OF RUSSIA.
4. AP: Mitchell Landsberg, Russians Ponder Economic Reforms.
5. Chicago Tribune: Colin McMahon, VAUNTED RUSSIAN ARMY DOING
A SORRY ABOUT-FACE.
6. Sovetskaya Rossiya: Speech by Lev Rokhlin, chairman of the
Defense Committee, at State Duma 3 December plenary session debate
on "The Illegal Military Actions on the Territory of the Chechen
Republic in October-November 1994 and the Present Power Crisis":
"Answering to the Law for Adventurism and Tyranny."
7. St. Petersburg Times: Boris Aliabyev, Survey: More Expats Are
Here To Stay.
8. St. Petersburg Times: Yevgenia Borisova, "Bad Jokes, Nudes,
BMWs at Mafia Web Site." (http://www.mafia.spb.ru)
9. The Independent (UK): Phil Reeves, Russians see plane disaster
as fresh evidence of nation's decay.
10. BBC: Monica Whitlock in Kazahkstan on move to the new
capital city, Akmola.]
St. Petersburg Times
DECEMBER 8-14, 1997
Perils of Analogizing History
Michael McFaul responds to "Perils of Chubais Illustrate Anarchy and
Authority, Not Democracy," by Tim McDaniel, Nov. 28.
Michael McFaul is Assistant Professor of Political Science and Hoover
Fellow, Stanford University
Professor McDaniel's response does remind me of how difficult it is to
ever have a conversation about Russia in a comparative perspective.
Russians and Russia-watchers generally think that Russia is a unique
place, with a unique history and culture, that is not comparable to
anything or anywhere else. Whenever historical analogies are used, they
must be from Russian or Soviet history. In writing about contemporary
Russia in the New Republic last fall, Professor McDaniel compared
Chubais to Stalin and Lebed to Trotsky. Such kinds of historical
analogies are common these days. It is especially common among those who
believe that Russians are somehow genetically predisposed to
authoritarianism, corruption, "hidden political intrigue" and other evil
This kind of analysis often leads to trouble. When an American
journalist exposes corruption in the White House and it leads to the
dismissal of a senior official, we celebrate it as the power of the free
press. When a Russian journalist does the same thing, we call the
dismissal a consequence of personalized politics. Likewise the
discussion of the importance of FORMAL institutions for democracy seems
a little bizarre when placed in a comparative context. Someone should
tell the British that rules have to be written down in order to count.
In fact, most of the most interesting work in political science is about
the importance of informal institutions. Moreover, the opposite is often
true - formal institutions do not matter (like the right to vote for
African Americans in the South for a hundred years) unless power backs
them up. Leonid Brezhnev's constitution wrote down all kinds of formal
rules about citizens rights, but they meant nothing. Professor Daniel's
notion of democracy is a philosophical one, but not one that has much to
do with how it is practiced in the real world, Russia or otherwise.
On a more positive note, however, I am heartened by his response as it
demonstrates that we are moving the debate in the right direction. The
aim of my article was not argue that Russia is a liberal democracy. It
most certainly is not. Rather, my aim was to argue that it is not a
dictatorship, and, by implication, that Chubais should not be compared
to Stalin. That Professor McDaniel has abandoned this false historical
analogy is already a sign of progress.
Yeltsin set to meet old foes, parliamentary chiefs
By Timothy Heritage
MOSCOW, Dec 7 (Reuters) - President Boris Yeltsin meets opposition and
parliamentary leaders this week in new efforts to tackle Russia's economic and
Yeltsin, back in Moscow after a three-day visit to Sweden last week, will
be looking for signs that the economy is over the worst after weeks of
uncertainty deepened by turmoil on international markets.
Yeltsin, 66, is due to meet his prime minister and the two parliamentary
speakers in the Kremlin on Tuesday. He then attends the first of a planned
series of ``round table'' talks including opposition and trade union leaders
The president, trying to portray himself as the nation's arbiter above
everyday political rivalries, has held out an olive branch to the opposition
Communists in recent weeks. His old foes hope this will guarantee progress at
the ``round table.''
``We hope that the three branches of government will be able to agree on
matters of principle at the 'round table','' Communist Party leader Gennady
Zyuganov said last week.
Thursday's talks will focus on land ownership, a divisive issue which is
unlikely to be resolved at a single meeting, and concerns about the
denomination of the Russian rouble which will have three zeroes lopped off on
Tuesday's meeting of the ``big four'' also offers a forum for the Communists
to put across their views in person to Yeltsin. They will be represented by
Gennady Seleznyov, the Communist chairman of the State Duma, the lower house
The agenda of Tuesday's talks has not been announced.
Yeltsin, who has made market reforms his priority, has shown an increasing
willingness to compromise to try to prevent political disputes dealing new
setbacks to the economy.
His concern over the economy mounted as foreign investors withdrew large
amounts of money from Russian financial markets in the last few weeks because
of general uncertainty over global emerging markets.
But signs of hope emerged last week. Equities rose, interest rates fell and
moves by Russia's central bank helped restore some optimism.
The opposition-dominated Duma also gave its initial approval to the draft
budget, despite opposition by Communist leaders who have used their resistance
to the spending plan to gain Yeltsin's ear and press demands for concessions.
``There are signs of stabilisation,'' Alexander Livshits, Yeltsin's top
economic adviser, said in a television interview on Friday.
``If you compare the (economic) situation at the end of last week and at the
end of this week, there are hopeful signs. Let's see how next week goes and
how it all unfolds.''
The potential for problems remains. Yeltsin faces no serious challenges as
president but his behaviour in Sweden, where some of his comments had to be
clarified by his spokesman, caused concern among opposition politicians.
Another irritant could be a dispute over the decision last week to charge an
American telephone technician, Richard Bliss, with spying. The U.S. State
Department condemned the move and said it could deter foreign investors.
The Russian authorities released Bliss from jail on Saturday and waived a $5
million bail requirement, his employers said. But Bliss, who denies he is a
spy, is not allowed to leave Russia and the charges against him have not been
15 December 1997
[for personal use only]
WOLVES ON THE PROWL
MEN OF POWER ARE FEASTING ON THE SPOILS OF RUSSIA
BY PAUL QUINN-JUDGE
Wolves are coming back into the Moscow region," a friend remarked last
week as we sat in a village just outside the city, watching one of the
heavier snowfalls of the winter. "The local administration just west of
here is sending out hunters to cull them."
"Four-legged ones, you mean," I said. "Yes," he replied, "the Moscow
wolves aren't in any danger."
In fact the two-legged city wolves are on the prowl. What diplomats and
journalists routinely call economic reform in Russia is now more
reminiscent of wolves tearing at the carcass of a giant beast. The new
banking magnates--oligarchs as they are often known--are fighting over
the remains of the Soviet Union. There are very rich pickings: oil
fields, natural gas, precious minerals and strategic metals. The people
who end up with the largest hunks of the carcass will be powerful
figures indeed, both here and abroad.
While some close observers like George Soros say the predatory period of
Russian capitalism is almost over, the campaign to destroy Anatoli
Chubais shows it is still going strong. First Deputy Prime Minister and
the dominant voice in economic policy, Chubais is under relentless
attack by two of the biggest magnates, Boris Berezovsky and Vladimir
Gusinsky. The classic weapons of Russian politics are being used:
compromising documents known as kompromat, the media, envoys shuttling
back and forth across the Atlantic to persuade the Clinton
Administration that Chubais is soiled goods. They have already crippled
him; two weeks ago, Boris Yeltsin removed him from the key position of
Finance Minister. But Chubais' enemies will not rest until they have
finished him off completely.
Briefing a small group of Western journalists last week, Chubais
remarked almost casually that his whole government team, his family and
his friends are under constant surveillance. Some are being offered "any
money they like" to provide compromising material against him, he said.
He refused to say on the record who was doing this, but a government
official pointed to the MOST Group, Gusinsky's media and banking empire,
headquartered just across the road from the government building where
Chubais has his office. MOST's security organization, 600 strong and
equipped with sophisticated technology, is headed by a former deputy
chairman of the KGB.
Chubais' claim sounded plausible. Natural resources are not the only
things that are being privatized. Corporate security organizations bug
phones and provide their bosses with dirt on their enemies, just like
the old KGB. Newspapers owned or funded by the new magnates then print
the material, just as the Communist Party press did in the past to a
disgraced leader, a dissident or an irritating foreigner. Until recently
Chubais had seemed an exception to the regime of moral relativity that
reigns in Moscow. He could come across as arrogant, aloof and driven.
But most people believed he was honest. This perception has been
vaporized by a campaign launched last month, immediately after Chubais
and his fellow Deputy Prime Minister, Boris Nemtsov, engineered
Berezovsky's dismissal from his government position.
The campaign centers on a $450,000 advance that Chubais and four
colleagues split between them for a book on privatization. The book
payment, Chubais' enemies allege, is a disguised bribe. Chubais' defense
has been slow and largely unconvincing. His share, $90,000, is chump
change in a country in which a few years ago the new Prime Minister
found that Russia's entire foreign-currency reserve was missing, and in
which the oligarchs have become overnight billionaires in shadowy
privatization deals. But it was enough to shatter Chubais' image of
probity. His enemies are putting out the word that they have much more
on him and are moving in for what they hope will be the kill. Right now
they are seeking help from across the Atlantic. A couple of weeks ago,
Igor Malashenko, the president of NTV, Gusinsky's television network,
went to Washington. U.S. diplomats say he talked to senior figures in
the Administration and argued that it was time for Chubais to go.
Bright, articulate and abrasive (rather like Chubais, to whom he was
once close), Malashenko was probably quite convincing. But Chubais'
enemies are leaving nothing to chance. Last week Berezovsky went on a
similar mission to America. Diplomats say he took time out to practice
his line on the U.S. ambassador here.
For the moment, Chubais is holding on. Whether or not he is finally
forced out of government, the message is already clear: carving up the
country is a serious business. In the place of fully functioning
political institutions, the competition is not of ideas but of
personalities. People can be as dangerous as wolves, and even more
Russians Ponder Economic Reforms
7 December 1997
By MITCHELL LANDSBERG
MOSCOW (AP) - On a slushy corner in central Moscow, Irina Goltsova is doing
her part for Russia's economic reforms. The retired nurse is selling potatoes
and sauerkraut to supplement her meager pension.
``Sure, they've reformed my life,'' she says sourly, referring to President
Boris Yeltsin and his team of economic advisers.
A few blocks away, Sergei Itkin is also taking part in Russia's free-market
reforms. Itkin, a dentist in private practice, is buying a silk scarf for his
wife at an expensive boutique.
``People complain, and so do I, but the most important thing the reforms have
given many of us ... is some freedom of choice,'' he says. ``Some of my
colleagues do not wish to work hard, so they complain about the prices and
instability. I choose to work.''
Six years after Russia began the mammoth task of converting its economy from
the heavy regulations of central planning to a free market where prices
fluctuate on supply and demand, the country is sharply divided about whether
it is on the right path.
A scandal this fall nearly toppled the man widely viewed as the country's
leading reformer, Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais. Emboldened by
Chubais' troubles, the communist-dominated parliament has been increasingly
vocal in challenging free-market changes as harmful to most Russians.
Russia also has been hit by the recent economic troubles in Asia, with
investors pulling out of Russian stocks and bonds in fear Russia's financial
markets may be the next to tumble.
Across the country, many people are beginning to wonder when - or if - the
promised fruits of capitalism are going to come their way.
So what exactly has reform done for Russia?
The short answer is: a lot.
Few, if any, countries have ever transformed such a large economy so quickly
Most dramatically, through stock giveaways and auctions, the Russian
government has transferred 70 percent of the economy from state ownership to
private hands. There are now about 123,000 private companies in Russia - an
astonishing number for a country with none a decade ago.
Russia also has abolished most price controls, established relatively free
trade and - after some early hesitation - tightened its monetary policies to
bring runaway inflation under control.
This progress, and indications that the economy might begin to grow soon,
emboldened Yeltsin to declare recently that Russia ``has left the crisis
behind and is starting to straighten its shoulders.''
But for all that, Russia remains a country with huge economic problems.
In practice, privatization has not been the even-handed affair it was
to be. A voucher program that gave stock to every Russian is a national joke:
Most people sold their vouchers for next to nothing or sank them into dubious
Until recently, many of the companies that were privatized by auction went to
cronies of those in power for ludicrously cheap prices.
Meanwhile, economic output has plummeted, so the country is now producing
about half as much as it was at the beginning of the decade. Corruption - both
governmental and corporate - is rife. Taxes go uncollected.
And while Moscow and a few other big cities seem relatively prosperous,
wide range of Western consumer goods and the beginnings of a middle class,
most of the country remains mired in poverty.
To many Russians who have lost their jobs or gone months without pay, the
shops filled with American jeans, Danish toys and German sausage might as well
Reformers argue the problems have their roots in the old communist
``The reality is that the economic decline in Russia began many years
and the economy was sustained through the '80s by increased oil production and
inflated oil prices,'' said Charles Blitzer, a former World Bank economist who
studies the Russian economy.
He also noted that while production in Russia has plummeted, the Soviet Union
produced a lot of shoddy goods nobody wanted.
Despite the hardships, opinion polls have found that few people want to
to a Soviet-style system. Even the communists have realized that, and tried to
moderate their image.
Still, many people aren't happy with the way things are unfolding. That could
change if the economy finally begins to grow next year. Economic growth could
give a dose of optimism to those who have been left behind.
Some economists fear the worldwide financial jitters set off by the crash in
Asian currency markets could hold back Russian growth for another year. And
some, especially in the West, fear that if Yeltsin gives in to pressure to
fire Chubais, it could derail reform.
In the meantime, most Russians struggle on, exhibiting that most Russian of
Georgy Yefimov, a retired mechanic, is among the legions selling
Moscow to get by.
``I did it before the reforms and I am still doing it now,'' he said. ``I had
to bribe the police to let me alone then; I do it now. I earned barely enough
before the reforms; I still earn barely enough now. My pay was too small
before the reforms; my pension is too small now.
``So what's the difference?''
December 7, 1997
[for personal use only]
VAUNTED RUSSIAN ARMY DOING A SORRY ABOUT-FACE
WRETCHED CONDITIONS, POOR QUALITY OF RECRUITS BREED VIOLENCE
By Colin McMahon, Tribune Staff Writer.
The despondency of a young recruit in today's Russian army usually shows up
only in a tortured letter or tearful phone call home.
Sometimes, though, the pain is quantified: a complaint to a commander about
the thefts, the beatings, the humiliations of a system in which surviving is
considered success. There are times, like late last month along the Chinese
border, when despondency turns to violent desperation.
An 18-year-old Russian border guard, with six months of service and a stash
of ammunition under his belt, allegedly shot to death five comrades near the
Zabaikalsk frontier outpost.
The killings were the latest in a grisly year that has seen scores of
soldiers die at the hands of their comrades and hundreds more commit suicide.
Less than a decade after the vaunted Soviet army inspired a multibillion-
dollar arms buildup in a fearful West, the Russian military is a mess, riven
by desertions and bad blood in the ranks. Officers go unpaid while their young
charges go hungry. Combat training is a luxury.
When President Boris Yeltsin disclosed last week plans to cut Russia's
conventional forces in Northern Europe by 40 percent, it was less a gesture of
peace than further public acknowledgment that much needs to change.
The troop reduction, officials promise, is only part of sweeping reforms to
pare down and shore up the military, to turn it into a professional force
capable of defending the nation with con-
ventional troops as well as with Russia's still formidable nuclear arsenal.
Military experts at home and abroad say Yeltsin must deliver. In a report
this week to U.S. legislators, the Congressional Research Service warned of a
possible "military calamity--implosion, mutiny or coup--if present trends
The average Russian parent of a teenage boy also has much at stake.
"I beg of you," says the letter from an 18-year-old soldier to the Moscow
garrison military prosecutor. "Please, save me!
"They are constantly hitting me in the mouth, hounding me. I have these
thoughts, I so want to run away or hang myself. Please, help me escape this
madhouse before they beat me to death."
The plea, quoted in the Moscow newspaper Izvestia, comes from a member of
an elite Defense Ministry unit in the capital who seeks a transfer to another
region. Yet in the provinces, particularly among certain units such as the
construction brigades, a soldier's lot is often even harder.
Hazing of recruits, long a part of Russian military life, can be brutal.
Beatings are common, even customary in some units. Older soldiers turn new
arrivals into virtual serfs, breeding resentment in the barracks and distrust
of the officers who refuse to intervene.
"The older soldiers force my son to pay them--wine, money, food,
cigarettes," said the father of a 19-year-old who is trying to help his son
transfer units. "If he refuses, they beat him. The last beating put him in the
His son, Dima, suffered kidney damage, the father said, and was granted
leave to come home to suburban Moscow for a rest. While there, the young man
decided that he had had enough.
He sought the help of the Committee of Soldiers' Mothers of Russia, an
anti-draft, anti-war group, and decided to go AWOL while he worked on getting
Military prosecutors promised to review the case, said the father, who
didn't want his name used, but late last month Dima was seized and sent back
to his unit. He and his father have spoken once by phone, a short call full of
sobs and fear.
"I'm lucky," the father says. "I have only one son to subject to this."
Part of the military's problem is money. The soldiers' health suffers from
a lack of equipment and medicine, and some army privates are forced to beg to
supplement the less than $1 a day they get for food. Only a minority of
soldiers receive the proper coats, boots, gloves and hats needed to withstand
the Russian winter.
When wages go unpaid, officers and enlisted men alike look for other ways
to get by. Supplies, from food to weapons, disappear. Troops are forced to
work for private businesses.
In the worst cases, officers extort enlisted men, and those who suffer most
are the new arrivals who have not yet learned how to play the game.
Beyond that, training is barely sporadic. There is little gasoline for the
tanks or planes, only a pittance for the war games. Even more than his
counterparts in the West, a Russian soldier spends much of his day killing
time, with plenty of opportunity to reflect on his lot and on the slights,
insults and humiliations dished out by his comrades.
The feuds that fester in this climate have erupted into violence at an
alarming clip. Homicides and suicides, which hit 526 in 1996, are up this
Two weeks ago, the death toll rose. A country boy from a village close to
the Mongolian border, Vladimir Maltsev, allegedly killed five fellow border
guards and left another seriously wounded in an attack during which he fired
more than 600 rounds from his Kalashnikov assault rifle.
The killings brought to mind other recent rampages, including a bloody
stretch last summer when 16 servicemen were killed in two separate cases--10
of them by their sergeant as they slept.
The violence, experts say, does not stem simply from the miserable living
"Money is a reason, sure," said Sergei Yushenkov, a leading liberal member
of the armed forces committee in Russia's lower house of parliament. "But it's
not the primary reason, not even third or fourth."
The quality of recruits is dropping. Young men, often with parental
backing, try anything to avoid the draft, from finding a phantom medical
problem, to bribing an official, to emigrating from Russia.
Yet recruiters still must fill quotas, and so they lower the bar.
Yushenkov and others say that the change in the attitudes of parents and
young people since the Soviet Union fell has played a large role in soldier-
on-soldier problems. Young men are less willing to silently endure the loss of
freedom, the harsh discipline, the hazing of Russian army life. Yet the
military establishment shows little inclination to change its culture.
"The fact is you cannot tell a young man what to do like you used to do in
the dictatorial army," Yushenkov said.
Official complaints of hazing are on the rise, and last year various groups
received more than 6,000 letters from soldiers detailing abuse.
Yet human-rights officials say that military prosecutors have sent to court
only 18 cases.
Rokhlin Asks Answers on Chechnya 'Adventure'
4 December 1997
[translation for personal use only]
Unattributed account of speech by Lev Rokhlin, chairman of the
Defense Committee, at State Duma 3 December plenary session debate
on "The Illegal Military Actions on the Territory of the Chechen
Republic in October-November 1994 and the Present Power Crisis":
"Answering to the Law for Adventurism and Tyranny"
It is three years since the "Chechnya war" concept entered our lives.
It has left thousands of ruined lives and thousands of dead and in every
small town in Russia the impoverished invalids of that accursed war. Who
made the decision to launch it, and how was this done? Such questions are
of keen interest to society, but grim life with its constant tragedies and
adversities swept onward and no one has yet been called to account for the
bloody crime in Chechnya. Should we forget? Or forgive? Wouldn't that
mean giving free rein to further tyranny by people already up to their
elbows in blood? No, the people must know to whom they are "beholden" for
the loss of their soldiers, the Army's shame, and ultimately Russia's
Yesterday State Duma Deputy Lev Rokhlin submitted for discussion the
draft resolution "On the Creation on Russian Federation Territory of
Illegal Armed Formations for Combat Actions on the Chechen Republic's
Territory in September-November 1994." His State Duma speech was greeted
with understanding by most deputies with Ella Pamfilova, well-known for her
former charity and struggle against privilege, the only one to oppose the
adoption of the proposed resolution.
In the document presented for discussion, Defense Committee Chairman
L.Ya. Rokhlin proposed that, after approrpiate verification of the
existence of the elements of a crime, the people who took part in the
creation of the armed formations that started the large- scale hostilities
be brought to account. He mentioned them by name and talked about the
mechanism of their operation. The draft resolution also envisaged an
appeal to the president for clarification about his personal knowledge of
Around 320 deputies voted for Rokhlin's draft, which was adopted as a
basis. At a session of the Russia is Our Home faction's representatives
the majority voted against the proposed document.
We now acquaint readers with the full text of the speech by L.Ya.
Rokhlin, chairman of the State Duma Defense Committee, at the 3 December
Rokhlin's Speech at the State Duma Plenary Session on the Question:
On the Illegal Combat Actions on the Chechen Republic's Territory in
October-November 1994 and the Present Power Crisis [subhead]
In accordance with the State Duma's instruction to three State Duma
committees to investigate the causes of the large-scale losses of
servicemen in the Chechen Republic, I am making the following report on the
Defense Committee's behalf.
In October-November 1994, as the mass media explained, the anti-
Dudayev opposition launched hostilities in Groznyy using combat hardware:
tanks, armored personnel carriers [APC], helicopters, and mortars. The
hostilities were aimed at Dudayev's overthrow, and the armaments came from
Russian field forces' arsenals.
The transfer of armaments was carried out in secret. For example, in
accordance with DGSh [General Staff Directive] No. 312/1/0112sh of 5
September 1994 and DGSh No. 312/1/0130sh of 1 November 1994, the North
Caucasus Military District transferred 40 tanks, 10 APCs, six helicopters,
over 2,000 firearms, mortars, antiaircraft missile launchers, vehicles, and
tonnes of ammunition to the opposition via the MVD [Ministry of Internal
Servicemen from the field forces as well as reservists were recruited
for participation in the combat actions. Recruitment was carried out in
secret from commanders by military counterintelligence personnel. The
actions of combined unit commanders who tried to prevent the recruitment of
their subordinates were thwarted and subsequently they were punished. Major
General B.N. Polyakov, commander of the Kantemirov division, was dismissed.
The preparation and execution of the operation were directed by N.
Yegorov, Russian Federation minister for nationalities affairs and regional
policy, and S. Stepashin, leader of the Federal Counterintelligence
Service. S. Filatov, chief of the Russian Federation Presidential Staff,
was in charge of the operation.
The direct organizers of the preparatory measures and combat actions
were Ye. Savostyanov, deputy director of the Federal Counterintelligence
Service for Moscow city and oblast, and A. Kotenkov, deputy minister for
nationalities affairs and regional policy.
The adventure failed. Those servicemen who died or were seriously
wounded were not the only victims -- we were all its victims, because
peaceful means of resolving the Chechen problem were thus cut off.
The adventure of the opposition's march on Groznyy in fall 1994 was
the prologue to large-scale war and paved the way for Russia's
disintegration. But its sinister significance goes beyond the bounds of
the factors listed above: the deaths of deceived people; the subsequent
war in which weapons captured from the woeful warriors of the
pseudo-opposition were turned on Russian soldiers; and the threat of
Russia's disintegration. This showed the essence of the supreme power
which calls itself democratic and claims to be seeking civilized means of
resolving conflicts. This essence must be considered in the light of
The authorities in Russia know no other means of resolving conflicts
than violence. The present regime headed by the president inherited this
quality from it. It resolved the October 1993 conflict by staging a
bloodbath in downtown Moscow. A society rendered speechless by surprise
and fear did not demand explanations from it. The regime, emboldened and
impudent, decided to settle another crisis -- the crisis in Chechnya -- in
exactly the same way. This time it was not concerned with using even the
slightest protection offered by the law or public opinion but resorted to
adventure and fraud. Once again no explanations were demanded of it.
The country is on the verge of another crisis, the current year's
budget has not been implemented, and the new one has not been adopted. The
problem of survival looms large in front of not only citizens but also many
regions of Russia and federation components. Oligarchic clans are
squabbling among themselves. There is an imminent mass reduction of
servicemen, the vast majority of whom will be left without housing, work,
or any prospects at all. A social explosion is possible at any time. And
what do we see? Do we see an attempt at dialogue with an opposition which
most accurately reflected the population's mood and is trying to steer
protest into a legitimate political channel?
No, we see intractability and we hear threats against the Duma, which
represents voters' interests, and against specific deputies.
The supreme organ of representative power does not have the physical
force to resist the machinery of violence. But it does have a powerful
democratic means -- a platform from which to call to account an
administration which has overstepped the mark and to mobilize and support
public opinion. We must do this as quickly and energetically as possible.
If we unravel the adventure in Chechnya, establish the culprits, and call
them to account, we will lay another stone in the foundation of Russian
democracy, bar the way to tyranny, and help the regime become truly
Esteemed deputies! If we really care for democracy, if we want
politics to become public and cease to be a behind-the-scenes adventure, if
we cherish our honor and the honor of voters, and if we want to end the
regime's violence once and for all, we must do the following above all:
Summon Yu.I. Skuratov, the Russian Federation General Prosecutor,
and ask him for answers to the following questions:
a) if according to the Russian Federation Constitution only the
president has the right to make a decision on the use of military force in
internal conflicts, what legal form did the president's decision take in
b) how is one to characterize the opposition actions on Chechnya's
territory in fall 1994, in which Russian Army servicemen participated and
Army hardware was used? If these actions have not been given a legal
assessment, why not?
c) were the actions in the transfer of arms, combat hardware, and
munitions legal? If so, which specific law regulated them? What are the
quantity and mix of the weapons and combat hardware that were transferred?
What were the losses in men and materiel?
d) were the elements of a crime present in the actions of individuals
who sent Russian Army servicemen to conduct combat actions? If so, which
articles of the current Criminal Code cover them?
e) have the individuals who directed the preparation and conduct of
the aforementioned combat actions been exposed? If so, what responsibility
have they been made to bear? What posts in state service do they occupy at
Summon S. Stepashin, Ye. Savostyanov, A. Kotenkov, and S. Filatov
to the State Duma and ask them for explanations on the following
a) who provided the initiative for conducting this operation?
b) whose instructions were they guided by in the preparation and
conduct of the operation?
c) do they believe that their actions in the preparation and conduct
of the operation were lawful, and if so by what legal norms were they
Ask B. Yeltsin, president of the Russian Federation, for a
clarification of his personal knowledge about the operation conceived and
planned; about the reports that guided him if he was so informed at the
time when he authorized the operation; and about the legal basis that he
used when he issued the instruction or authorization for the conduct of the
St. Petersburg Times
December 8-14, 1997
Survey: More Expats Are Here To Stay
By Boris Aliabyev
MOSCOW - Like an invading army, expatriate workers from the West
continue to spread throughout the Commonwealth of Independent States,
setting up and staffing offices from Ukraine to Siberia.
And despite the increasing number of well-trained and experienced local
hires available, about 60 percent of companies responding to a survey by
Price Waterhouse said they expect their foreign staff to continue
expanding over the next five years.
The statistics come from a recent report by the accounting house titled
Managing Expatriates in the CIS - a survey that, according to one
corporate participant, offers a broad view for companies to see how they
stack up against competitors in areas such as taxes, hardship pay,
housing, medical coverage and family support.
"[It] gives you an idea where you are in relation to other companies,"
said Anna Volinkaty, expat administrator for Pepsi International
For the report, Price Waterhouse interviewed over 80 expats and 68
multinational companies throughout Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakstan,
Ukraine and Uzbekistan.
Business acumen, adaptability and motivation, followed by international
experience, ranked as the top characteristics companies considered
essential in their expat hires, according to the report.
Of the 62 survey participants who responded to the question, 40 percent
offered incentive premiums and 63 percent hardship allowances.
Concerning hardship pay in Russia, the report gives a median premium of
15 percent above base salary, while 78 percent of Russia respondents
said they adjust salaries for inflation, exchange rates and cost of
living. Also in Russia, about 60 percent of participants provide medical
coverage, according to the report.
On taxes, 34 percent of respondents in Russia said they equalize all
personal income tax liabilities - balancing out employees' tax payments
with what they would pay at home - while 53 percent reportedly follow a
laissez-faire policy handing responsibility to the employee.
Viewing responses for companies operating throughout the CIS, 85 percent
of respondents employ expatriates to carry out management functions,
with skills transfer, management development and graduate training
serving as other reasons in descending order.
Forty-two percent provide cars to expats living in cities, and 39
percent provide a car and a driver, according to Price Waterhouse.
Temporary housing is provided by 41 percent of companies.
St. Petersburg Times
December 8-14, 1997
Bad Jokes, Nudes, BMWs at Mafia Web Site
By Yevgenia Borisova
Some reputable Russian companies are trolling for a rougher clientele
via a new Internet site, http://www.mafia.spb.ru, which pretends to be a
site for the local criminals.
The site, created a few months ago on a St. Petersburg server, pretends
to be a place where bratva - as mafioso in the same gang refer to
themselves - can exchange news.
It is nothing if not eclectic, including everything from dirty jokes and
pictures of nude women to a detailed description of how to circumvent
bandits and corrupt police when driving along the "road of death" from
Frankfurt, Germany to Grodno, Belarus.
There are also links to the web sites of other companies - each prefaced
with nearly untranslatable snippets of criminal slang - including the
German-language BMW homepage, a Russian-language site for the cellular
phone company Fora Communications, and a site in English and Russian for
the Siberian enterprise Izhmash, which manufactures Kalashnikov machine
guns. Other links promote the St. Petersburg branch of Moscow's
Moskovsky Delovoi Mir Bank, or MDM.
Some of the humor available at the site is abusive or offensive; some is
more broadly acceptable.
Consider the following joke, which hangs in space on the site and seems
to have nothing to do with the mafia, or anything else for that matter:
A man carrying a turkey under his arm is stopped on a St. Petersburg
street by a police officer, who tells him carrying turkeys here is
forbidden. The man notes that pigeons are everywhere, and asks why he
can't have a turkey in that case. The police officer replies that the
pigeon is "the bird of peace." The man replies, "What the hell, how can
my turkey be war-like?"
Who would create such a site, and why?
"I wanted to create a server where bratva would have arranged strelki
[meetings of rival gangs that may be followed by shootouts], [and could]
speak out about their deeds (on condition of anonymity)," Andrei Kuzmin,
the creator of the mafia site, said in an e-mail to The St. Petersburg
Times. The ultimate goal, Kuzmin added with Leninesque flair, was "to
unite all bratva of all countries."
Kuzmin, the web master of the local Internet server WEBplus, runs under
the distinctly intimidating e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org. But he
says that while he finds crime intriguing as an object of study, he
himself is not a mafioso, and at the moment has no plans to become one.
On the Internet, anyone can link their website to any other site. Kuzmin
himself linked www.mafia to the sites of other companies without asking
"I have dreamed of having a BMW from childhood," Kuzmin said. "And all
the real bratva are riding in big cars with shaded windows. This is
"I love Kalashnikovs as does any normal boy. And as for MDM - they are
Delovyie [business-minded], and the bratva are all delovaya."
Some of the companies linked were unaware of the site; most took the
link in stride.
"We are not happy about many links which are made to our web site, but
the legal situation is such that we can't do anything about it," said
Gabriela Motiny, a BMW spokeswoman, reached by telephone at the
company's Munich office.
At Izhmash, Andrei Pecherskikh of the marketing department was surprised
to hear of the link. Pecherskikh, reached by telephone in Izhevsk,
Siberia, was philosophical about www.mafia - saying that the company
dislikes any association between contract murders and Kalashnikovs, but
adding that the link "is additional advertising for us."
At Fora Communications, Deputy Commercial Director Alexander Isayev said
that his company has chosen to view the www.mafia link as an additional
promotional opportunity. But he added that he did not think it had
brought in much business.
"I don't believe this web site is really any vital crossroad," Ilyin
Alexander Bublik, MDM marketing manager, said that his bank was also
unaware of the link. After consulting with MDM management, Bublik said
on Monday that the bank would have to explore the matter further.
"The Internet is an open system. Anyone can make links to any site. We
believe that our site was chosen by these people - whom we don't know -
because it offers the best information of the [web sites of] other local
banks," he said. "But is this link advertising or anti-advertising? That
is what we have to sort out now."
The Independent (UK)
8 December 1997
[for personal use only]
Russians see plane disaster as fresh evidence of nation's decay
By Phil Reeves
Less than a week after scores of Siberian miners died in an explosion,
Russia was in mourning again yesterday as rescuers, working in Arctic
temperatures, retrieved the remains of 48 people who died when a cargo
plane smashed into a block of flats.
The accident, scalded into the memory of millions by pictures of the
plane's vast white tail jutting out of the building's ruins, will deepen
the despair of many Russians who see such disasters as evidence of the
national decay that has set in since the end of the Soviet Union.
The Russian government yesterday suspended all flights by Antonov-124s,
a military cargo plane, until it has established why one of them fell
out of the sky 20 seconds after taking off from Irkutsk in southern
Siberia on Saturday. News agency reports yesterday said that after
take-off the pilots complained that two of their four engines had
Other speculation centred on poor quality fuel, and the possibility that
its cargo - two Sukhoi-27 fighter jets, destined for Hanoi - was
incorrectly loaded. The truth may lie within the aircraft's flight
recorders, which have been found and dispatched to Moscow for analysis.
Miraculously, the 340-tonne plane narrowly missed an orphanage of 150
children, although the building caught fire, claiming the lives of two
of them. Yesterday, watched by groups of the bereaved, 1,600 rescue
workers rummaged through the wreckage in temperatures that fell to as
low as minus 30C. Sergei Shoigu, the Russian emergencies minister, told
reporters that some people were still missing, and the death toll could
rise to 62.
Last night, the Russian television news was dominated by accounts of the
accident, accompanied by harrowing pictures of the injured. Russia can
sometimes seem hardened to bloodshed and tragedy. But this disaster,
coupled with 67 deaths in last Tuesday's blast in a coal mine in
Novokuznetsk, has been a heavy blow. It is one that Boris Yeltsin,
struggling to limit the effects of a political scandal and global
financial turmoil, could do without. So, too, could the city of Irkutsk,
for whom it was the return of a nightmare: in 1994, it was the scene of
Russia's deadliest post-Soviet crash, when a Tu-154 crashed, killing 124
December 6, 1997
Monica Whitlock reports from Almaty
The government of Kazakhstan is beginning its move to the new capital
city, Akmola, inaugurated by President Nursultan Nazarbayev last month.
Monica Whitlock is in Almaty for its last days as the capital of
The ministries in the old capital Almaty - known as Alma Ata during the
Soviet era - are starting to wind down and the first officials are on
their way to the new seat of government, more than 1,000 kilometres
north across the Kazakh steppe.
Large cardboard boxes stand in what were the corridors of power as the
first ministries pack up their papers.
Between Saturday and Tuesday relays of trains are setting off from the
grand marble halls of Almaty railway station carrying hundreds of
officials far away across the snow-bound steppe.
The air of gloom here is almost tangible.
Stalin once banished people to exile in Akmola - known as Tselinograd
prior to Kazakh independence - and it remains extremely remote.
The ministers are to live in hostels, leaving their families behind in
modern, cheerful Almaty.
Some officials are carrying electric heaters. It is already minus-30
degrees centigrade on the steppe and power supplies are erratic.
The thinking behind this deeply unpopular move is political.
Akmola is geographically in the middle of this huge country, whereas
Almaty is in the far south.
The new capital is meant to assert President Nazarbayev's authority over
the furthest-flung regions and send signals of sovereignty to
Kazakhstan's giant neighbour, Russia.
Many Kazakhs agree with the reasoning, but some see the move as
premature because of the vast costs involved at a time when poverty
among ordinary people has reached alarming levels.
As for the officials, they have no choice but to board the train.
The move has been ordered by President Nazarbayev and there is no higher