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19 December 1997
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Reuters: Yeltsin praises achievements of Soviet-era KGB.
2. AP: Yeltsin needs more time to recover.
3. Russia Today Satire: Bedtime for Boris.
4. Ira Straus: Re 1430-Hough (more).
5. Interfax: Duma Vice Chairman Baburin is Presidential Candidate.
6. Reuters: Russian spies publish insider tales of Philby.
7. Boston Globe: By Thomas M. Nichols and Steven T. Ross, Don't use
NATO to fence Russia in.
8. Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Sergie Mulin, YELTSIN BACKS DOWN ON
9. Obshchaya Gazeta: Seifali Akhundov, NEW RUSSIA IS RAPIDLY GROWING
OLDER. By the Year 2010 Russia's Population will drop by Six Million.
10. RIA Novosti: "MAN OF THE YEAR" TITLE CONFERRED UPON
STROEV, SELEZNYOV AND LUZHKOV.
11. Toronto Globe and Mail: Geoffrey York, Russia in Olympic
dilemma. Long-term prospects hurt by budget cuts.
12. RFE/RL NEWSLINE: INSTITUTE DIRECTOR COMMITS SUICIDE.
13. RIA Novosti: INVESTIGATION INTO "BOOK CASE" TO BE OVER
IN TWO MONTHS.
14. Reuters: Russians' fears grow as super-rouble nears.]
Yeltsin praises achievements of Soviet-era KGB
By Adam Tanner
MOSCOW, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Russian President Boris Yeltsin on Friday praised
the Soviet-era secret police for stealing nuclear secrets from the West and
for providing intelligence on Nazi Germany and other foreign governments.
``Looking back on things I think that the exposes on the crimes of the
security organs may have just gone too far,'' Yeltsin said in his weekly
nationwide radio address. ``After all, there are some things to be proud of.''
The president spoke on the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Cheka
secret police in 1917. The secret unit was later known as the KGB and
administered dictator Josef Stalin's harsh policies and system of prison camps
that left millions dead.
``It was indeed the special services that helped accelerate the
a domestic nuclear weapon. By creating an atomic counterbalance, we can
directly say that we prevented a third world war,'' Yeltsin said.
``It was the intelligence service that warned the leadership of the country
about the exact date of the invasion of the fascists, and many key battles of
the Patriotic War (World War Two) were won thanks in large measure to detailed
Yeltsin briefly mentioned the domestic oppression that made the KGB and its
predecessors the most feared institution in the Soviet Union.
He did not mention however that the KGB monitored him before the fall of
Soviet Union and that its head was a key leader in the abortive 1991 coup. The
failure of that coup brought him to power.
``Millions of Russians, among whom were a substantial number of security
workers, were victims of the cruel machine of state security,'' he said.
Overall, Yeltsin was upbeat about the accomplishments of the secret
and said the reformed successors to the KGB continued to perform important
``Despite the positive changes that have occurred since the end of the Cold
War, there is still a severe struggle in the world,'' the president said in
his first radio address since falling ill with a cold last week.
``As before, the activities of foreign intelligence on Russian territory
Yeltsin said the domestic successor to the KGB, the Federal Security
had freed hostages and halted illegal trade in gems and metals. He cited a
recent seizure of $25 million in diamonds and 80 kilogrammes of gold as an
example of important results.
``As you can see, the economic safety of the country under contemporary
conditions is becoming one of the most important tasks of our Chekists,''
He said he had led an extensive reorganisation and slimming down of the the
present day security bodies and added that they no longer posed a threat to
citizens as in the past.
``No other government organ has gone through such strict
``Today the constitution of Russia itself excludes the possibility of a
rebirth of political police. Today in the ranks of our special services are
Yeltsin needs more time to recover
December 19, 1997
MOSCOW (AP) - President Boris Yeltsin underwent a regular heart checkup today
and returned to the sanatorium where he's been recovering from a severe cold
for the past nine days, officials said.
The Interfax news agency stirred new speculation about Yeltsin's health
it quoted a top presidential aide today as saying Yeltsin would need another
week at the Barvikha sanatorium on the outskirts of Moscow.
But moments later, Interfax retracted the story. The aide, Yuri Yarov, the
president's deputy chief of staff, then was quoted as saying, ``Everything
goes on as it should.''
Yeltsin may make a decision to leave the sanatorium at any moment, Interfax
cited Yarov as saying in the revised report.
Russian news services quoted Yeltsin as saying Thursday he would be back at
work today. But Yeltsin's spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky said shortly
afterward that the president would remain at Barvikha for a bit longer.
Yeltsin is known to be a restless patient, and the conflicting
be a result of his desire to return to his office quickly, while aides and
family members say they want him to fully recover first.
Family members often complain that he doesn't take enough time to
from his illnesses and insists on rushing back to work.
Yeltsin went to the Cardiac Research Center on today for a regular heart
No results immediately were released.
Yeltsin and his doctors have insisted that the president is recuperating
from a viral respiratory infection that sent him to the sanatorium on Dec. 10.
It marked the third time in just over a year that Yeltsin, 66, has been
Yeltsin has cut back his schedule while recuperating, canceling all public
events, but he has continued working on documents and held occasional meetings
at the sanatorium.
Television footage on Thursday showed a relaxed Yeltsin sitting on a
the sanatorium, where he met with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. He spoke
in a firm voice with no traces of earlier hoarseness and was no longer pale.
Yeltsin suffered a mild heart attack just days before he was re-elected
second four-year term in July 1996. He underwent multiple heart bypass surgery
in November 1996 and then came down with double pneumonia in January of this
He had resumed an active schedule, including regular working trips aboard,
before he was sidelined this month.
The Week That Was
Bedtime for Boris
"Yeltsin's infection is expected to be treated with antibiotics and a good
deal of rest. It developed, aides said, from a cold the president picked up
during is trip last week to Sweden…The president performed erratically in
Stockholm… Yeltsin also appeared to mix up Finland and Sweden and
mistakenly referred to Japan and Germany as nations with nuclear
weapons."—Chicago Tribune, Friday, Dec. 12
Scene: The Barvikha sanatorium outside Moscow. Russian President Boris
Yeltsin is in bed, recuperating from a viral respiratory infection. As the
play begins, he is calling for his top presidential aide, Sergei
Yeltsin: (ringing bell on his bedside table) Sergei! Sergei!
Yastrzhembsky: (entering room) I'm here, Boris Nikolaiovich. What is it?
Yeltsin: Sergei. I'm bored.
Yastrzhembsky: Here are some documents. Work with them.
Yeltsin: (whining) I don't want to work with documents, Sergei. I'm sick of
documents. What does that mean, anyway, "working with documents?" It sounds
like the president is spending his time doing origami!
Yastrzhembsky: You know, Boris Nikolaiovich, that's not such a bad idea.
Make some little animals – a little frog, a small bear…
Yeltsin: Sergei! No documents!
Yastrzhembsky: Okay, no documents. What do you want then?
Yeltsin: Read me a story.
Yeltsin: (snuggling under covers) I said, read me a story.
Yastrzhembsky: What kind of story?
Yeltsin: A nice story about privatization.
Yastrzhembsky: Sorry, Boris Nikolaiovich, that story hasn't been written
yet. I'd talk to Chubais if I were you.
Yeltsin: Well, you must have something you can read to me!
Yastrzhembsky: Okay, how about this? (pulls out an Atlas) We'll work on
your geography (opens book, points while speaking) Finland. Sweden. Do you
see the difference? Finland. Sweden.
Yeltsin: (pulling covers over his head) I know the difference, Sergei.
Sweden is where I met Pippi Longstocking.
Yastrzhembsky: You did NOT meet Pippi Longstocking, Boris Nikolaiovich. You
met Astrid Lindgren. She WROTE Pippi Longstocking. Pippi is a fictional
Yeltsin: (poking head back out) You know, I thought she seemed kind of old
for Pippi. And she really didn't look like she could lift a horse…Hey, why
don't you read me a Pippi story?
Yastrzhembsky: I don't have any Pippi stories. Now look at this map. Here's
Germany. Remember your friend Mr. Kohl? He's from Germany. And he has no
nukes. And this is Japan. Remember your friend Mr. Hashimoto? He's from
Japan. And he has no nukes either. Did you see any nukes when he came to
Yeltsin: (back under covers) No.
Yastrzhembsky: No. Because they have no nukes. They are non-nuclear
countries. Can you say that? "Non-nuclear countries."
Yeltsin: Non-nuclear countries… like Russia.
Yastrzhembsky: No! Not like Russia! Russia is a nuclear power!
Yeltsin: Not when I get through with it, Sergei! Get me a pen! I'm going to
sign a decree unilaterally disarming! Cut the nuclear stockpiles down to
nothing! (tries to get out of bed)Yes! And I'll disband the entire army –
land and sea and air! The whole thing!
Yastrzhembsky: (holding him down) Boris Nikolaiovich! Boris Nikolaiovich!
Get hold of yourself! Calm down! Stop this! Stop this and I'll read you any
story you like!
Yeltsin: (lying back down but still suspicious) Any story?
Yastrzhembsky: Yes, yes – any story.
Yeltsin: A Pippi story?
Yastrzhembsky: Okay, okay, I'll find you a Pippi story. Which one?
Yeltsin: (giggling)The one where she stops Germany and Japan from launching
a nuclear attack on her villa in Finland.
Yastrzhembsky: You're obviously feeling better.
Date: Wed, 17 Dec 1997
From: "Ira Straus" <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: 1430-Hough (more)
> We have had no inherent national interest in Russia
> choosing the Chubais model of economic reform rather than the Witte one.
True enough. Our interest is in the basic orientation of Russia as a friend
rather than foe of the West.
A quibble here. Witte and Stolypin didn't exactly succeed 100%, either; and
today isn't 1900-1917; conditions are different, the international market
is different, Russia is different, the transition it has to make is
different. Lots of mutatis mutandis is needed, and examination of the
concrete merits of a specific statist policy, before giving it endorsement.
The endorsement can't be merely on the basis of analogy -- whether to 1900
or to China. China is still overwhelmingly a peasant society, and could
make its reforms work on a basis simply of dissolving the communes and
buying a couple decades of applause that way.
> Hopefully any new Russian regime will be very careful in its language,
> the US has a tendency to look at hostile rhetoric in a Russia that it
> overlooks in a Mexico. Since Witte wanted foreign investment, his model
> implies a good relation with the West.
That suggests that maybe Primakov's rhetoric is a problem, even if --
especially if -- Hough is right about his pro-American feelings from the
1980s. And indeed Primakov's entire doctrine of
anti-unipolarism/pro-multipolarism is a problem, assuming that it is
correctly understood, not as aiming primarily at integration of Russia into
unipole (the West) and reform of that unipole into a more flexible internal
form, but as external resistance to the reality of Western leadership and
resentment of America's inherently enormous role within the West, by
raising up countervailing powers around the world (even if they could well
end up enemies to Russia as well) and giving aid and comfort to
troublemakers around the world. In this regard, bad doctrine spills over
into bad policy, erasing most (although not all) of the original
pro-Western intentions. At best Primakov has become a Gaullist. What a pity
for a first rank great power like Russia, to sink to the level of Gaullism
-- replicating the policy of an outclassed second-rank power like France,
always licking its wounds and complaining about its resentments, acting
time and again in counter-productive, self-defeating ways! I agree with
Hough that the potentiality for something better is still there; but it's a
potentiality that at this point would require some significant effort of
choice on the Russian side as well as the Western side.
Hough goes on to say that NATO expansion into Central-Eastern Europe needs
" accompanied by an open policy towards Russia in other respects..."
Agreed -- and then some. It needs to be open not just "in other respects,"
but in respect of NATO itself. NATO is the crucial "respect"; it's the core
institution of the Western system. Either something serious will be made of
the NATO-Russia Joint Council -- meaning that it will be turned into a
living strategic partnership, Vancouver to Vladivostok, with substantial
joint activities and active mutual support in geopolitical situations in
various areas of the world -- or else the Joint Council will become mere
window-dressing for the renewed alienation of Russia and the West.
> The first Jewish president will surely be a strong proponent of
> peace and the first from Eastern Europe will welcome Russia and the
> religion as western."
Meanwhile, life is moving a bit faster than Eastern Europeans are coming
into the Presidency. May we meanwhile hope that the CEE
countries will play such an opening role once they're in NATO. Maybe for
have to rely on ourselves as the arbiters of good sense in this matter.
Practically none of the small European states has as relaxed or generous a
view as the US on inclusion of Russia in international structures.
> That the secretary of state opposes Strobe Talbott is not in itself a
> disaster. In my view he has had a very hard-line, unproductive policy
> Russia. Behind all the rhetoric about strategic partnership, he has
> followed Jeanne Kirkpatrick's policy of support of a right-wing dictator
> in Russia for foreign policy realms--and at least Kirkpatrick only
> rightly said her dictators would be transitory to democracy, not that
> were democrats.
Good point. (Somewhat akin to Paul Goble's recent comments about how maybe
it's better to have an executive regime in Russia that's oriented toward
Western democracy than a regime based on the present Duma.) In light of
Hough's comments on other occasions indicating that he doesn't think
democracy is a good idea in all kinds of countries in the near term, and
his awareness that a transition in Russia is bound to be a protracted and
difficult affair, I suppose this could be regarded as a backhanded way of
saying that a Kirkpatrick policy of supporting a pro-Western executive
regime transitional toward democracy in Russia is the right one. (I suppose
the Gorbachev regime was also such a regime -- as Hough documents
elsewhere; although I don't remember such bitter insistence on applying the
word "dictatorship" to Gorbachev, even though Gorbachev combined his
personal dictatorship with far more of the elements of the ancien regime
party-dictatorship than Yeltsin has. An less generous commentator might
recall that all this is contrary to the "institutional pluralism" that was
supposed to have been the hallmark of that ancien regime.) The only things
that could logically be regretted -- logically, I mean, within this
framework of these premises -- in the application of this policy since 1991
is that it has been too doctrinaire about the economic policies qualifying
for Western support. One could also complain about the hypocrisy of the
rhetoric about democracy being in place rather than being the goal of the
transition, but then, that wouldn't be terribly logical for people who
aren't upset about massive hypocrisy and corruption in other contexts.
Besides, surely our good contributors remember that hypocrisy and
rhetorical oversimplification are a normal part of public life, and have
always been necessary when it comes to getting the American people to
support any kind of generous activity internationally; so probably better
to accept some hypocrisy and try to correct for it than to throw out all
Fulbright Professor, Russian State University for the Humanities
Duma Vice Chairman Baburin is Presidential Candidate
Moscow, Dec 16 (Interfax) -- Leader of the Russian Pan-National Union,
Duma Vice Chairman Sergey Baburin told Interfax Tuesday [16 December] that
he is ready to join the presidential race in 2000 and that he had been
nominated presidential candidate at the Union's latest congress.
He admitted, though, that he had not yet made a final decision.
He also said that he is not going to shake off responsibility for the
country or shift it to someone he does not trust.
Baburin said his decision to enter the race was based on the shortage
of worthy candidates. "We need to find a single candidate from among the
leaders of the patriotic forces who would be able to lead the nation and
who would not be associated with the outdated party system," he said. He
pointed out that if such a candidate had been available now he would have
never considered his own candidacy.
He said his Union is not actively seeking coalition partners. "There
is no need for this at the moment. The Russian Pan-National Union is
becoming stronger and will act on its own in the 1999 parliamentary
elections without creating any doubtful coalitions."
The Union has local branches in most of the regions, he said. "We
count on the people who are learning to live and survive, and who can work
without thinking about foreign credits," he added. He said that his
organization draws support from working people and intellectuals, from a
large segment of engineers and researchers, and "from those who were once
called collective farm workers and are now called farmers."
Russian spies publish insider tales of Philby
By Philippa Fletcher
MOSCOW, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Russia's spy agency on Thursday unveiled a new book
of insider accounts about Kim Philby to set the record straight about one of
the century's most famous spies.
A former senior Soviet security officer portrayed Philby, a British
intelligence officer who fed secrets to Moscow for three decades, as a tragic
and disillusioned man after his flight to Moscow. He said the Kremlin had
struggled to find a use for him in his new home.
Philby's widow Rufina, who wrote a memoir for the book, said she was
reading inaccurate descriptions of his life in the Soviet capital.
She told a news conference accounts of Philby living in luxury were as
as those which said he had been abandoned to a life of poverty by the Soviet
She describes tiresome official receptions in Soviet capitals.
Mikhail Lyubimov, a former head of the KGB department dealing with
wrote the book's introduction, said Philby was too much of an English
gentleman and a professional to let on that he was disappointed with the
``His disenchantment sometimes showed after a bottle of whisky, but even
only slightly,'' he said. ``He became part of the system and had to adapt to
Lyubimov said Philby had nearly been shot by his Soviet masters along
other members of the infamous Cambridge University spy ring after World War
Two but was spared.
He recalled that the then head of department had formally accused the whole
spy ring of cooperation with the British. But for some unexplained reason no
action was taken against them.
``Because if they had been labelled foreign spies, under Stalin, then who
knows what would have happened? It's not impossible that he would have said to
comrade (police chief Lavrenty) Beria, ``shoot them'' and that would have been
Philby died in Moscow in 1988 and was buried there with full military
British diplomats Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean, who were part of the same
ring and fled to Moscow ahead of him in the 1950s, died here in 1963 and 1983
``I saw (Philby) as an unfortunate man whom no one could use, surrounded
grandiose conspiracy, receiving the Times in the post,'' Lyubimov said. ``It
was funny. That was the system.''
``Kim suffered from the fact that people didn't make use of him. So we gave
him the pleasure of giving lectures.''
Yuri Kobaladze, head of information at the Foreign Intelligence Service
successor organisation to the KGB, was one of those who attended Philby's
``When Kim Philby became our friend and many of his pupils ended up in
London... we sent him his favourite marmelade and Gitanes cigarettes,''
Kobaladze said. ``Of course he missed London and we tried to give him those
``All of us who were close to Kim Philby who worked with him and admired
courage, thought that it would be nice to publish the complete Philby, to have
memoirs of his wife and material never published before,'' he said.
Lyubimov said Philby was above all an idealist, whose disappointment
reality of Soviet life was shared by many Russian communists of his
generation. ``For me Kim was not just a man but a tragic figure of our
century,'' he said.
He said some in the KGB always believed he was a triple agent -- working
ultimately for the British rather than Moscow -- a sign both of the times and
of the strains Philby and other double agents found themselves under in
``They were not straightforward people. They were very disappointed with
system and could not live with the slavish laws which existed then,'' said
He said the Soviet authorities allowed Philby to publish his memoirs,
reproduced in full in the new book, to stir tension between British and
``It was pouring oil on the bad relations between the CIA and MI6,'' he
explaining that the CIA had been furious when it was discovered that Philby,
the Washington liason officer between the CIA and MI6 from 1949-51, was a
Kobaladze also said the latest book, called ``I Did It My Way'' was not the
whole story, saying piles of documents on Philby still lay unpublished in the
19 December 1997
[for personal use only]
Don't use NATO to fence Russia in
By Thomas M. Nichols and Steven T. Ross
Thomas Nichols and Steven Ross are professors of strategy at the US
Naval War College in Newport, R.I.
In the recent crisis with Iraq, the Russian parliament, the Duma, voted
to support Baghdad against the United States. While only symbolic - the
Russian Constitution vests nearly total power over foreign affairs in
the president - such actions by Russian politicians are likely to become
more frequent and more substantive as the Russian Federation is forced
to live with an expanded NATO.
The Duma's vote should serve as a wake-up call and warning to US policy
makers: NATO expansion, validating as it does the views of Russia's most
xenophobic nationalists and even wary moderates, is a potential foreign
policy catastrophe that could produce the aggressive Russia that it
seeks to forestall.
We accept that at this late date there is no way to rescind the
invitation to Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary to join NATO, nor
would we advise it were it possible. Indeed, there is much to be admired
in Defense Secretary William Cohen's vision of a growing ''virtuous
cycle'' that will do much to promote a more stable and democratic
However, not only should NATO expansion now cease, but the United States
should take the time to mend fences with Russia and help the Yeltsin
administration head off any attempt by ultranationalists and opposition
figures to make NATO more of an issue than it already is.
The Russians are upset about NATO, and rightly so. It is not, and never
has been, a collective security arrangement. It is an alliance, and
unlike collective security arrangements (which recognize no traditional
friends or enemies), alliances are expressly directed at a hostile party
Although NATO now states that it has no enemy, Russians should be
forgiven for thinking that they have inherited the feared position once
held by the Soviets. And the plain fact of the matter is that they're
right: The assumed enemy in Europe against which NATO is arrayed is in
fact the Russian Federation. It would be preposterous to argue that the
Poles, Czechs, and Hungarians are seeking protection from neighbors such
as Belarus or Ukraine, and unlike the Americans, the other Eastern
Europeans have hardly been coy about who they see as the greatest threat
to their newly won liberty.
But there is no Russian threat, nor will there be in the foreseeable
future. The idea that the Russian armed forces would (or even could)
cross neighboring states to invade NATO or its new Eastern partners is
not only ridiculous on its face, it is also detached from any sort of
credible political scenario under which such a strategy makes sense to
The Russians invade Poland (fighting their way across Ukraine,
incidently) to gain - what? Thermonuclear war? This is fantasy, and the
policy makers in Washington, London and elsewhere almost certainly know
that it is. They also know - as do the Russians -that Poland or any
other nation in Eastern Europe would not need to be a member of NATO for
the West to come to its aid against naked aggression. (Indeed, the
United States issued strong warnings to the Soviets in 1981 not to
invade Poland when it was their own ally.)
The complete lack of any plausible match between Western strategy and
policy in enlarging NATO has created the impression in Moscow that it is
meant only as a crude statement of anti-Russian sentiment and as a final
claim on the spoils of victory in the Cold War. More savvy elements in
the Russian political scene recognize NATO expansion for what it is: an
attempt at home in the United States to appease what was once called the
''captive nations'' lobby, and an attempt overseas to maintain American
leadership in an organization that is trying to redefine its own mission
in the new Europe.
Of course, it is an open question whether the American public will be
willing to bear the heavy fiscal price of expansion or run the risk of
war for the sake of Romania or Slovakia. But none of that need matter to
the Russian opposition, which has been handed a hot-button issue that
grates on the nerves of even more pro-Western Russians and complicates
political life for both Yeltsin and Russian reformers of any persuasion.
Isolation and wounded pride produce poor decisions, and the Duma's
support of Iraq (like its ongoing refusal to ratify the START II Treaty)
is just one of many such decisions that have come from the angry
chambers of Russia's Parliament. But if the United States and its
traditional European allies do not stop and take stock of the new NATO,
and soon, it will hardly be the last.
The enemy in the Cold War was Soviet Communism, not the Russian people,
but if NATO enlargement continues, it will be a self-fulfilling
prophecy. Let the Poles, Czechs, and Hungarians come to Brussels, if
only in memory of the hardships of 1956, 1968, and 1980. But Brezhnev
and his inhumane doctrine are long dead, and we should do nothing to
disturb his ghost among politicians in Moscow who are not above invoking
>From RIA Novosti
December 19, 1997
YELTSIN BACKS DOWN ON GOVERNMENT ISSUE
By Sergei MULIN
President Boris Yeltsin of the Russian Federation signed a
law outlining the Government's powers in the course of his
traditional meeting with Premier Viktor Chernomyrdin December
18, thus deliberately swaying the balance between this
country's executive- and legislative-power branches.
The Russian leader has met the opposition's demands
halfway in exchange for State-Duma Speaker Gennadi Seleznev's
guarantee to ensure the Duma's approval of all amendments being
required by the Kremlin.
The above-said government law, which had been okayed by
the State Duma some time ago and which had repeatedly been
shelved by the Kremlin, states expressly that, from now on, the
entire Cabinet line-up (with the exception of the its "power"
ministers and the nation's Foreign Minister) shall be
coordinated with the lower parliament house, which shall also
examine the candidacies of both first deputy prime ministers.
As is known, the encroachment by the Duma's leftist
majority on the President's constitutional prerogatives had
become the subject of budgetary wrangling in the course of Big
Four conferences, constituting one of the 11 pre-conditions for
removing the no-confidence vote in the Government from the
The Russian President's consent to sign a bill, which,
sort of, "sequestrates" his present-day personnel-policy carte
blanche, can be viewed as a personal victory of Gennadi
Seleznev, who, together with Federation-Council Speaker Yegor
Stroyev, has proved the effectiveness of his political tactics
in the course of negotiations with the executive-power branch.
Talking to reporters yesterday, Boris Yeltsin's spokesman
Sergei Yastrzhembsky pointed out that the President had decided
to sign the bill after securing the State-Duma Speaker's
guarantees to the effect that he will ensure the approval of
all amendments to the document, which have already been
coordinated with the Cabinet and the Kremlin administration, by
Yeltsin's move is described as "unusual" because the
presidential signature has already been affixed; on the other
hand, the Federal Assembly has not yet included the
amendment-vote procedure in its agenda.
Yeltsin has taken this step with due account of those
specific promises and commitments that have been assumed by the
leaders of parliamentary deputy groups, factions and blocs
because this is clearly and firmly mentioned in Seleznev's
letter to the President, Yastrzhembsky went on to say.
The Kremlin's impressive trust in Seleznev once again
proves the fact that Yeltsin and Chernomyrdin prefer to deal
with the State-Duma Speaker, rather than Gennadi Zyuganov, who
chairs the Russian Communist Party's Central Committee and the
Popular Patriotic Union.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta has repeatedly stressed that Gennadi
Seleznev, who heads the constructive opposition, looks more
respectable and convincing than the current Communist boss and
the Communist Party's State-Duma faction.
The nation's powers-that-be are ready to make some serious
concessions in the course of their bargaining with the
present-day parliamentary majority. However, such concessions
can only be secured in exchange for the appropriate and
effective guarantees on the opposition's part.
The approval of the draft 1998 federal budget in the first
reading has convinced President Boris Yeltsin that Gennadi
Seleznev more effectively controls the State-Duma
decision-making process (as regards the adoption of all the
required resolutions) than Gennadi Zyuganov does.
Consequently, Yeltsin's "royal gift" has been sent to the
right person, e.g. Seleznev.
>From RIA Novosti
Obshchaya Gazeta, No. 47
NEW RUSSIA IS RAPIDLY GROWING OLDER
By the Year 2010 Russia's Population will drop by Six Million
By Seifali AKHUNDOV
In the past five years Russia's population decreased by
1.2 million, says a report on the socio-economic situation in
the country by the State Statistics Committee of the Russian
Federation (Goskomstat) which was published last week.
According to the document, if it were not for the considerable
inflow of migrants from the former Soviet republics, the
population would have dropped by almost 3.5 million people.
According to the Committee's figures, at the beginning of
1997 there were 147,001,000 Russians, and during the ten months
of the current year their number decreased by almost 500,000.
Statisticians believe that this sad tendency will continue to
be at the same level up to the year 2010. By that time the
number of Russians will have dropped by more than 6 million
people. There will be 5 million senior citizens in the country
more than children and teen-agers. And then, according to UN
classification, Russia could well be placed in the category of
the so-called "aging" countries.
In the opinion of Goskomstat experts, this drastic
population drop is above all the result of the deterioration of
the health of most citizens. The state health care system is
unable to cope with cancer and blood circulation and endocrinic
diseases. In 1997 alone, about 200,000 people died of cancer.
Neither are the doctors able to influence Russia's high average
infant mortality rate. In the current year out of every 1,000
births more than 17 children died before reaching the age of
In the meantime predominating among the causes of this
high mortality rate among able-bodied people are not so much
diseases, as accidents, poisonings and traumas. The losses due
to these causes totalled 272 deaths per 100,000 of the
population last year. For example, more than 23,000 people
died in the current year from chance poisonings with
low-quality alcohol, in 1996 this figure was over 17,000. The
number of deaths among men is four times higher than among
women. Representatives of the stronger sex more often fall
victim to murders and commit suicide. In the current year
there were 23,000 and 40,000 such cases, respectively.
We have cited only a few of the figures that characterize
the demographic situation in Russia. However, Goskomstat
believes that even if we take into account these figures alone,
then only a little more than half the 16-year-olds of today
will have a chance to live to 60. The blame for that rests
with the extremely high mortality. In 1996, in all of Russia
almost twice as many people died than were born.
Only in Daghestan, Ingushetia and Tyva the birth rate is
high enough to ensure the stability of the population over the
next generation. In the Pskov, Tula, Ivanovo, Tver, Ryazan,
Smolensk and Novgorod Regions of Russia the situation is much
worse. In these regions the number of births is considerably
below that of deaths.
Irina Zbarskaya, head of Goskomstat's population statistics
department, believes that the birth rate is dropping as a
result of the inter-action of at least two factors. First, the
standard and quality of life are dropping, with about 25% of the
Russians living in dire poverty, their incomes being half and even less
the subsistence minimum. The second factor is the changed
style and way of life of the young families, who prefer to put off
the birth of their firstlings to "better days." None of them know,
however, when this much-desired time will come. In the meantime,
according to official statistics, 2.7 million abortions were made
in Russia in 1996. This is double the number of births. About
2,000 abortions were made by girls under 15. Many of them will
never be able to have babies.
More than that, according to official statistics, between
1991 and 1996 the number of annually registered marriages has
dropped by 453,000, with 649 divorces per 1,000 marriages. A
third of these marriages fell apart within the first five years.
"MAN OF THE YEAR" TITLE CONFERRED UPON CHERNOMYRDIN,
STROEV, SELEZNYOV AND LUZHKOV
MOSCOW, DECEMBER 19, RIA NOVOSTI - Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin, Federation Council Speaker Yegor Stroev, Duma
Speaker Gennady Seleznyov and Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov have
been awarded the "Man of the Year" title. This was the decision
of the Russian biographical institute--an independent
profit-free organisation, for outstanding achievements in 1997
in the fields of politics, the armed forces and the
military-industrial complex, religion, culture, science and
According to the institute's director-general Svyatoslav
Rybas, the Russian premier has won this rank for realism in
conducting reforms. Stroev has been honoured with the title for
harmonization of political conflicts, Seleznyov for the
consolidation of parliamentarianism and Luzhkov for successful
economic and cultural construction. "Politicians of the year"
titles were conferred upon some executive and legislative heads
in the regions.
"Entrepreneur of the year" is Gazprom chief Rem Vyakhirev
praised for the consolidation of the national economy. For a
major contribution to enlightening activity, Patriarch of Moscow
and All Russia Alexius II has been called "Man of the Year" in
the field of culture and religion. Belorussian President
Alexander Lukashenko and Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrosyan
have been hailed for strengthening links with Russia.
Svyatoslav Rybas pointed out that the decision on
conferring these titles was made in accordance with the results
of questionnaires circulated among acting politicians, political
affairs experts, diplomats, scholars and journalists. The
title-winners will receive diplomas and "the Silver Cross of the
Russian biographical institute".
Toronto Globe and Mail
19 December 1997
[for personal use only]
Russia in Olympic dilemma
Long-term prospects hurt by budget cuts
By Geoffrey York
MOSCOW -- Russia is facing a long- term collapse in its Olympic sports
program after the Nagano Olympics in February, a former Russian sports
minister said yesterday.
Boosted by the last generation of Soviet-trained athletes, Russia still
has a good chance of success at the Nagano games, but the Kremlin's drastic
budget cuts could send its Olympic program into a sharp decline after that,
Shamil Tarpishchev warned.
"Probably these winter games will be the last successful result for the
Russian team," the former minister told a news conference in Moscow yesterday.
"The situation is very serious," he said. "Russia has no state policy on
sports, and this is very sad. We are in a decline. We've used up all of our
The gloomy prognosis was issued at a time when Russia is already gripped
by a national crisis in sports. Its national hockey team finished a dismal
fourth at the last Olympics and was defeated in the semi-finals of the
recent World Cup. Several top stars have refused to join the Russian hockey
team for the Nagano Olympics because of disputes with the national hockey
federation. And last month, the Russian soccer team failed to qualify for
the World Cup of soccer, igniting an agonized national debate over the
decline of Russian sports.
In Olympic sports, the biggest problem is the shortage of state funds
for top-notch training facilities and youth development clubs. "We had a
system of clubs, but now the system doesn't work," Tarpishchev said. "We
don't have any structure to help ordinary people to get involved in sports.
It's a question of the future of our nation and our health."
Even in prestigious sports such as figure-skating, Russia's elite
athletes must struggle with poor training facilities. Ice rinks are often
poorly maintained, and some top skaters have found themselves practicing in
the dark when the electricity failed. Most coaches, even at the elite
level, are paid less than $400 a month. An estimated 100 top figure skaters
and coaches from the former Soviet Union have moved to the United States to
live and train.
Russia's speed skaters, meanwhile, are facing equally bad conditions. A
shortage of speed-skating rinks has left them unable to train with the
latest technological advances in skates, according to a report in a Moscow
"Sports services have become very expensive and most of the population
can't afford to pay for them," Tarpishchev said. "The monthly fee for a
swimming pool shouldn't be equal to a monthly salary."
Tarpishchev, who is still a member of the International Olympic
Committee, predicted that Russia will collect nine gold medals and finish
second to Germany in the gold-medal count at the Nagano games. By
comparison, Russia won 11 gold medals at the 1994 winter games at Lillehammer.
He predicted that Russian athletes will perform strongly in traditional
events such as figure-skating, cross- country skiing and biathlon.
But the country has failed to develop strong athletes in other sports
such as bobsled and alpine skiing, as well as emerging events such as
free-style skiing and short-track speedskating, he said. "The program of
the winter Olympics is widening, but in Russia it is narrowing."
He called for changes in Russia's tax code and customs duties to reduce
the cost of sports equipment and to provide tax breaks for training
facilities. "Stadiums and sports clubs shouldn't pay the same taxes as
tobacco and alcohol kiosks. But this can only be solved with the help of a
Russia should also follow the example of other countries where
sports-development programs are financed by special lotteries and casino
revenues, he said. Commercial sponsors should get tax privileges if they
support Russian sports, he added.
Even a quick glance at a Russian sports stadium can reveal the financial
problems, he said. "There is no advertising by Russian companies."
The Russian government has promised a prize of $50,000 (U.S.) for every
gold medalist at the Nagano games. But this does nothing for young
Tarpishchev himself has played a controversial role in the financing of
Russia's Olympic program. He was a founder of the National Sports
Foundation, which was allowed to import cigarettes and alcohol into Russia
without paying normal duties. The foundation enjoyed an estimated $800-
million in tax breaks in 1995, but little of this money was given to the
Tarpishchev, a close friend of President Boris Yeltsin, was finally
forced out of the Russian cabinet last year.
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 1, No. 183, Part I, 19 December 1997
INSTITUTE DIRECTOR COMMITS SUICIDE. Yurii Mamatov,
the director of the Yaroslavl Institute for Computer
Technology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, shot himself
on 18 December, ITAR-TASS reported. Friends and relatives
said Mamatov had been depressed over a lack of funding that
forces his institute to sell equipment and furniture in order to
pay staff's salaries. In October 1996, the director of the
Federal Nuclear Center in Chelyabinsk Oblast committed
suicide, also reportedly over funding shortfalls that left him
unable to pay the wages of the center's employees. LB
INVESTIGATION INTO "BOOK CASE" TO BE OVER IN TWO MONTHS
MOSCOW, DECEMBER 19, RIA NOVOSTI'S GALINA FILIPPOVA - At
the request of the State Duma, Deputy Prosecutor-General Mikhail
Katyshev delivered a report on progress in the investigation
into the so-called book case. All the authors of the book, "The
history of privatisation in Russia", have been interrogated,
including Kokh, Kazakov and Chubais. Instructions have been
dispatched to Switzerland with the purpose of establishing
actual circumstances of the agreement conclusion and
interrogating some persons. In the words of Mikhail Katyshev,
examination of manuscripts which were to be inserted into the
book is being conducted. The Moscow prosecutor's office which is
in charge of this case is ascertaining whether the sums gained
by the authors of the book result from some the abuse of law, or
to be more exact, whether they are a result of bribe. In the
opinion of Mikhail Katyshev, the basic evidence will have been
mustered in two weeks-- it is then that one will be able to make
more definite statements on this case.
"No indictment has been brought against the authors of the
book, investigation and interrogations are underway," said
Mikhail Katyshev. The prosecution is being conducted in full
compliance with law, article 20 of the Criminal Code of the
Russian Federation which stipulates responsibility for office
abuse by civil servants. If there is corpus delicti, we shall
call them to answer, said Mikhail Katyshev.
Russians' fears grow as super-rouble nears
By Andrei Khalip
MOSCOW, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Russian television viewers and radio listeners have
become the target of a government charm offensive designed to defuse fears of
a major currency reform due to come into effect on January 1.
Sandwiched between commercials pushing chocolate bars and soap powder,
government-sponsored adverts are now lauding plans to lop three zeroes off the
In the six turbulent years since the collapse of the Soviet Union the
has fallen 10,000-fold. At the start of market reforms it was worth more than
one dollar but now trades at around 6,000 to the dollar.
Most people in Russia support the idea of fewer noughts on their notes and
believe the reform will in the long term strengthen the currency. But many,
recalling past revaluations, are keen to shield their hard-earned savings from
``Tough times are coming, can you pay me in dollars'' is a phrase on the
of everybody from cleaning ladies to doctors just two weeks before the launch
of the new ``super-rouble.''
The dollar costs more than 6,000 roubles in some Moscow bureaux de
above an average sell rate of 5,930. Operators said demand for foreign
currency was higher than in the last few months.
Despite government assurances that citizens will not lose out from the
currency reform and its deployment of television celebrities to put them
across, inflationary fears are growing and many Russians are reverting to
``I don't believe in redenomination. If they don't confiscate our money
time, then prices will rise and my roubles will be worth nothing,'' said
Larisa, a 38-year-old physiotherapist.
``That's what they say in the streets, in every shop, in the queue. It's
to have some dollars under the mattress for the bad times,'' she said, adding
that rumours sweeping Moscow predicted a general price rise of between 10 and
PAINFUL EXPERIENCE FROM RECENT PAST
The government says the reform will make transactions -- now carried out in
millions, billions, even trillions of roubles -- much simpler and says it
should not trigger price rises.
It insists nobody will lose money as current notes will remain in use until
the end of 1998 and the central bank will continue to exchange old money for
four years after that.
But painful experience from the past is fresh in many minds and government
promises are viewed by many as a cheap trick aimed at lowering their vigilance
to pounce on their cash.
In the last debacle in 1991 people were forced to exchange old rouble notes
for new ones but were given only three days to do so. The result was a wave of
panic with huge queues outside banks. Millions of people had their savings
wiped out overnight.
Some also remember confiscatory monetary reforms under Soviet dictator
Stalin in 1947 and his successor Nikita Khrushchev in 1961. Each time the
Kremlin assured its people they would not lose a single kopeck.
``Now every time the government starts telling us 'your money is safe', we
have every reason to believe that it's going down the toilet,'' said pensioner
TRADE MAY UP PRICES IN SPITE OF KREMLIN PROMISES
Half-hourly ads on Ekho Moskvy radio feature two middle-aged Russians
beer in a street kiosk and discussing redenomination. Both welcome fewer
zeroes on price tags.
``But what if they round off the new price to five roubles instead of
raise all prices that way,'' asks one.
``Maybe in a handful of places they will, but others want to sell their
fast so they won't.'' His friend happily agrees.
But examples from the street present a different picture. Prices have
risen in many shops in Moscow. Some view this as a result of traditional
holiday season demand but many blame the approaching monetary reform.
New price tags started appearing in the shops alongside the old ones at the
start of December to help people get accustomed. The new prices get rounded
off but most people believe it only works one way -- upwards.
``Prices rose and keep rising. People are scared, snapping up everything in
the shops before it gets more expensive,'' said Yelena Dunayeva, a professor
in one of Moscow's universities.
``Just look at the shelves, shops don't bring in new goods. They only raise
prices for old stuff,'' she said. ``I have no illusions.''
The government may be doing whatever possible to avert any price rises but
bureaucrats have little power to influence Russia's unruly trade which has
always followed its own laws.
Supply and demand do not matter much for Russian vendors, still guided
Soviet-era concept that people will buy things for any price for fear of worse
to follow. They usually see price rises as the only way to react to any