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23 December 1997
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Christian Science Monitor: Peter Ford, A Reporter's Scorecard
2. Reuters: Russian privatisation to roll on under new chief.
3. Liz Fuller (RFE/RL): 1997 in Review: The CIS -- Half Alive or
4. Komsomolskaya Pravda: Vasili Ustuyzhanin, GOVERNMENT OUT OF
5. Toronto Sun: Matthew Fisher, Where every day is Christmas.
6. VOA: Peter Heinlein, YEARENDER: RUSSIA FOREIGN POLICY '97.
7. RIA Novosti: BORIS NEMTSOV MEETS FIRST GROUP OF MANAGERS WHO
NEXT JANUARY LEAVE FOR TRAINING ABROAD.
8. Interfax: Sergeyev--Nato Expansion, US Leadership 'Main
9. Komsomolskaya Pravda: Aleksandr Gamov, "What Is Wrong with
Yeltsin? Boris Nikolayevich Has the Blues, Because He Is Worn Out."
10. Obshchaya Gazeta: Anti-Chubays Businessmen Visit Seleznev.
11. Itar-Tass: Creation of Yeltsin Image as 'Head of an Empire'
12. Reuters: Russian religion law drafted on the sly--Catholics.]
Christian Science Monitor
December 23, 1997
[for personal use only]
A Reporter's Scorecard On Russia
By Peter Ford, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
MOSCOW -- The Tamagotchi "virtual pet" craze is sweeping the coolest
kiddie circles in Moscow, the stock market is swinging nervously in time
with exchanges around the world, and earlier this month, Muscovites
chose a new city council in routine elections.
So Russia is well on the way to being the "Western-style capitalist
democracy" that US and European leaders envisioned, and local reformers
Well, sort of...
... because nobody has heard of Tamagotchis outside a privileged elite;
because though the financial industry grabs headlines, most traditional
industries are moldering toward bankruptcy; and because Moscow voters
bestowed their blessings mainly on candidates the powerful mayor wanted
them to elect.
Russia has remade itself beyond recognition since the Soviet Union
collapsed in December 1991. But as the pace of change slows, it is
settling into channels that appear to be silting up well short of the
promised land held out by the more enthusiastic reformers and their
Perhaps, as the optimists predict, it is just a matter of patience and
time. It was clearly absurd to expect Russia to step quickly and
painlessly from 70 years of communism into a liberal, free-market
future. But Russia's history, both ancient and modern, seems likely to
shape that future as firmly as any eager young cabinet minister.
Much remains in flux. Russia is by no means a country out of control,
but neither is it under the complete control of any one man or any one
institution - least of all the government. It is a country with an
embryonic system, but no general agreement that it is the right system:
40 percent of Russians voted for the Communist presidential candidate
Still, the Communist lost, and there is little chance that this country
will ever have a Communist president again. Indeed, Russian politics has
little to do with ideology for the time being, and everything to do with
dividing up the spoils that once belonged to the state among a handful
of powerful oligarchs.
This is not an edifying sight, but it was probably an inevitable one.
Anatoly Chubais's scheme to privatize the Russian economy by giving
every individual a voucher with which to buy shares succeeded in
destroying state control. But it failed signally in its goal of creating
a middle class with a stake in a market economy. Most new shareholders
sold their certificates to their factory bosses for the price of a few
bottles of vodka.
A revolutionary task
Building anything from the bottom up is a revolutionary task in a
country where everything has happened from the top down for as long as
there has been a czar. And the nature of the Russian economy - huge
industries devoted to serving the state, not small businesses serving
consumers - lends itself only too easily to monopolistic corporate
capitalism where a few key players enjoy cozy dealmaking friendships
with government leaders.
Especially in a country where personal relationships count for
everything. In Russia, you do anything for a friend if you can do him a
favor, whether in family life or in business, and Western norms of
market transparency and free competition can go hang. In reformist
parlance this is "cronyism," but it is simply the Russian way of doing
business, and it's hard to see how it is going to change anytime soon.
It's capitalism, but it's not Western capitalism. It looks more, at the
moment, like South Korea's ailing system, founded on a handful of
massive conglomerates with close ties to government. That is not good
news, especially since Russians rarely display the Korean-style work
ethic that might allow small businesses to prosper in the shade of the
Democracy, but not perfect
In similar fashion, there can be no doubt that Russia is a democratic
country: Free elections have been held across the country to choose
political leaders at all levels. But at the same time, they have rarely
been fair elections. In last year's presidential vote, for example, the
news media (owned from top to bottom by the government or big business)
simply froze out Gennady Zyuganov, the Communist contender. Similarly in
the regions, local governors or the big employers have the press in
their pockets, and use it shamelessly.
A free press is not the only ornament of civil society to be missing
from the Russian scene. Political parties (aside from the shrinking
Communists) are weak and marginal, social movements are virtually
unheard of, and the rule of law is sketchy at best.
This is not only because judges and policemen can be bought (which they
can), or because government officials often behave as if they were above
the law (which they do). It is because the vast majority of Russians -
conditioned by generations of serfdom followed by 70 years of
dictatorship - have no idea of their rights and not a clue how to
Instead they prefer that "there should be a supreme arbiter in Russia,"
as even the arch "Western liberal reformer," Deputy Prime Minister Boris
Nemtsov, agreed recently. "If there is no strong power, there will not
be a unified country. Without a czar in Russia there is discord," Mr.
That sort of approach hardly encourages grass-roots democracy where the
law, not the president, is the "supreme arbiter." Instead, it follows
directly in the Russian tradition of individuals subsuming themselves in
the collective, whose will is expressed by the czar.
Yet in a country like today's Russia, where the czar is weak and broke,
there are more and more opportunities for people to make their own way
in life, independent of the authorities. And young people are ready to
A St. Petersburg social researcher, Leonid Kesselman, has been running
national surveys for the past eight years, tracking people's sense of
self-reliance. Overall, he says, the number of Russians who take
responsibility for their own lives, rather than expecting the state or
some other outside agency to solve their problems, has crept up since
1989 from 19 percent to 27 percent.
But when you break those figures down, you get the real story. Among
those over 60, only 6 percent count themselves as "internals," as Dr.
Kesselman calls the self-starters. Of the under-35s, the proportion is
more than 50 percent.
No real popular movement
At the same time, this new self-reliance blurs all too often into
self-centeredness. "On the one hand it is positive that people are
learning to live without the state, without its support and involvement
in their private lives," says Kesselman. "But it also means that those
people are not participating in social and political life. Things are
developing with no real popular involvement."
And that is likely how they will go on developing for the foreseeable
future, in a country where public opinion counts for nothing.
Mr. Chubais was probably right when he called last year's presidential
elections "the last nail in communism's coffin." But what will the next
election in 2000 show? Will Boris Yeltsin bend the rules to run for an
unconstitutional third term, as he has hinted he might? Will the
campaign allow the opposition a real chance, or will the vote serve
merely to legitimize those already in power?
In the meantime, as uneconomic industries from one end of the country to
the other wither and die, leaving their workers unpaid and underfed, it
will be years before new businesses grow to take up the slack even if
individual energy and initiative are allowed to flourish. And it might
take another couple of generations before the grandchildren of today's
self-starters are able to construct what Russians always call "a normal
There are sprouts of growth in that direction, but they will be slow to
fruit. "For the bulk of the Russian people," predicts one seasoned
diplomat here, "I don't think there's any chance of a dignified life
until the middle of the next century."
Russian privatisation to roll on under new chief
By Andrei Khalip
MOSCOW, Dec 22 (Reuters) - Russia's new privatisation minister Farit
Gazizullin is unlikely to change the selloff strategy established by reform
supremo Anatoly Chubais, although he is more of a moderate, analysts said on
``As far as I know he is more or less part of the Chubais team,'' said
Klekovkin, director general of Credit Suisse Asset Management, Moscow.
``It's good they appointed a bureaucrat from the privatisation ministry who
has worked with the whole team. It is much better for privatisation policy
than some new politician with extremist views.''
Gazizullin, 52, was previously a first deputy privatisation minister. He had
been acting minister after President Boris Yeltsin sacked then-minister Maxim
Boiko, a close Chubais ally, after a political scandal in November which also
Chubais was stripped of his job as finance minister in the scandal over large
fees that he, Boiko and other top officials received for a book on Russian
privatisation from a publisher owned by a bank that has privatised several big
Yeltsin appointed Gazizullin on Saturday and also made him a deputy prime
``When he became acting minister the general reaction was very positive. The
talk was that he is a Chubais man,'' said an analyst with the Russian European
Centre for Economic Policy who declined to be named.
Gazizullin is an advocate of the much criticised privatisation launched in
1991 by Chubais, now Russia's First Deputy Prime Minister in charge of
In a magazine interview earlier this year, he argued that privatisation
boosted output, promoted competition and helped create an equities market that
was a source of cheap financial resources for many enterprises.
But Gazizullin is a more moderate reformer than his predecessors. He
criticised some of the sales, as well what he called ``the uncontrolled
process of cutting back state property,'' and called for cooperation with
Russia's conservative lower house of parliament in working out privatisation
The State Duma lower house is a determined opponent of privatisation, and has
used any possible pretext to attack Chubais and his allies.
Deputies argue privatisation has led to the sale of Russia's crown jewels for
next to nothing and allege officials have kept much of the money, a charge the
government repeatedly denies.
One analyst said the appointment of a bureaucrat for a post traditionally
occupied by reform hawks such as Chubais could signal a more cautious approach
by the Kremlin to selling off Russia's most valuable enterprises.
But Russian markets did not react to Gazizullin's appointment as dealers said
they saw no change.
``Now the market is influenced by other things, probably more important,''
said one equities trader, referring to Standard & Poor's announcement on
Friday of a cut in its ratings outlook to negative for Russia and some Russian
The rating agency's announcement caused share prices to fall on Friday and
Monday before a slight rebound.
Investors hope Russia will continue a new reform push begun this year after
the transition to capitalism stalled in 1996 during elections and heart
problems suffered by Yeltsin.
They also hope a Western-friendly reform team under Chubais will open up the
investment process, but note that even the group around Chubais seems set in
the view that selling assets cheaply to foreigners is not desirable.
One of the most important sell-offs is scheduled for the first quarter of
1998. The government, which needs cash to shore up its shaky finances, is
struggling to finalise a sale plan for Rosneft, the last great oil property in
Russia's main oil and gas producers as well as major banking groups and
foreign firms are set to compete for the stake. The latest proposal is to
auction a 75 percent-plus-one share stake in Rosneft in a single investment
On Monday, Interfax news agency quoted Chubais as saying he supported the
proposal and that such a scheme was feasible, although he said it might be
Although he lost his post as finance minister, Yeltsin kept Chubais on as
First Deputy Prime Minister.
1997 in Review: The CIS -- Half Alive or Half Dead?
By Liz Fuller
Prague, 22 December 1997 (RFE/RL) -- In early 1997, half a decade after the
demise of the USSR, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) appeared to
have succeeded in its initial purpose of facilitating a civilized (i.e.
non-violent) multiple divorce among the former Soviet republics.
But, it has not evolved into a cohesive supra-national organization with
clear-cut objectives and policies shared by most, if not all its members,
and effective mechanisms for attaining those goals.
Meeting in Moscow in mid-January, CIS Prime Ministers debated draft
guidelines for further economic integration within the Commonwealth. These
were to have been modified for adoption at the planned March CIS heads of
That gathering, however, was overshadowed by the publication two days
before its opening of a what appeared to be a draft blueprint by political
analysts Andranik Migranian and Konstantin Zatulin. The plan outlined
deliberately destabilizing the domestic political situation in selected
member states, including Georgia and Ukraine, with the aim of weakening them
economically and preventing them from breaking free of Russia's sphere of
This threat of subversion served as a catalyst for the emergence of a
broad consensus among CIS presidents in favor of the "soft" approach to
closer integration as preferable to the hardline variant.
But even this tentative consensus was not enough to secure adoption of
the new Concept for Intergated Economic Development. Several presidents,
including Georgia's Eduard Shevardnadze and Kazakhstan's Nursultan
Nazarbaev, made clear their preference for bi- and tri-lateral agreements
among CIS member states.
Such agreements, in fact, have formed the basis for alternative
alignments within the CIS, including the Russia-Belarus Union (to which some
left-wing Armenian political parties advocate accession), between
Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan (focussing on economic and military
cooperation) and between Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova.
The principal common denominators of this latter alignment, dubbed GUAM,
are an unequivocally pro-Western orientation and the development of
transportation links and a pipeline network for the export of Azerbaijan's
Caspian oil, both of which would circumvent Russian territory. The alignment
thus poses a threat to Russian hopes of preserving a leading role within the
The March CIS summit tentatively scheduled a further meeting of heads of
state in June, but this was postponed several times, primarily because of
Yeltsin's precarious health. Only in late October did CIS presidents and
foreign ministers gather in the Moldovan capital, Chisinau, for what proved
to be an acrimonious barrage of mutual recriminations and predictions of the
Commonwealth's imminent demise.
Shevardnadze, Moldova's Petru Lucinschi and Azerbaijan's Heidar Aliev
pulled no punches in slamming Russia's manipulation of the frozen but still
unresolved Abkhaz, Trans-Dniestr and Karabakh disputes. Ukraine's Leonid
Kuchma complained that the CIS had ceased to develop.
Moreover, and in an implicit warning that Moscow's domineering approach
could sow the seeds of that body's disintegration, Aliev and Uzbekistan's
Islam Karimov both argued that the CIS could survive only as "a union of
Yeltsin for his part conceded that some of the criticisms levelled at the
CIS were justified, but rejected the charge that Russia was solely to blame
for the Commonwealth's inability to function as a cohesive whole. Again,
participants failed to reach a consensus on specific issues, rejecting the
proposed creation of a special commission to address conflicts between CIS
states. And only five countries (Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Moldova and
Kazakhstan) endorsed a new common agricultural policy.
In an attempt to reverse the process of disintegration through inertia,
Yeltsin proposed in Chisinau that CIS presidents should meet regularly three
times per year, and set January 23, 1998 as the date for the next summit.
In December, he sent a letter to his fellow CIS heads of state, the
contents of which have not been made public, outlining proposals for more
effective integration within the CIS based on criticisms voiced in Chisinau.
What these comprise, and how palatable and effective they are likely to
prove, is still unclear.
In late 1996, a briefing document prepared by the German Foreign Ministry
asserted that the CIS is based neither on shared values nor shared
interests, that its members have neither motivation for integration nor any
desire to cede their hard-won sovereignty, and that the only two
consolidating factors in evidence are their dependence on Russia and the
Russia-centric infrastructure which the CIS inherited from the USSR.
The desire of all CIS states, with the possible exception of Belarus, to
buttress their independence is far stronger than any counter-effort by
Russia to impose cooperation, the German analysis conclude. That perception
is just as valid in late 1997 as it was one year ago.
>From RIA Novosti
December 20. 1997
GOVERNMENT OUT OF KREMLIN'S CONTROL
By Vasili USTYUZHANIN
A common languages seems to have been found for the first
time in a six-year-old dispute between the President and
parliament. Boris Yeltsin has eventually signed the Law On the
Government, which radically changes the parliament-government
relationship. Control over the Cabinet of Ministers, which
until now was totally under the President's control, is now to
be partly under the control of parliament.
What are the concessions that the President has made?
1. Control over the activities of the power structures is
passed from him to the Prime Minister. It is true that Yeltsin
has made State Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznev promise that the
Duma will adopt an amendment to the law, in accordance with
which the President will guide their activities (previously he
supervised their work).
2. From now on the resignation of the Prime Minister is to
be followed by the resignation of the government as a whole.
Are we in for the continuous government reshuffling Italian
style, when the Cabinet is changed nearly once a year?
3. The President is now obliged to coordinate with the
State Duma the candidacies to the posts of the heads of the
4. From now on the ministers will be obliged to come to
parliament to make explanations at its first request.
Previously they could either come or ignore the request under
the pretext of being too busy of other "valid excuses". Not any
more. The Russian deputies have managed to get the same rights
which their foreign colleagues have. Thus, the failure of any
minister to come to Congress means an end to his career.
Why has the President suddenly made such a gift to the
parliament, which stands in opposition to it? It is indicative
what Alexander Ponomarev, member of the State Duma committee
for international affairs said in this connected in an
interview with the daily Komsomolskaya Pravda:
"it is an obvious evolution of the President's attitude to
parliament. The President started in August by openly rejecting
the Duma as absolutely nothing. Then he arrived to award
Speaker Seleznev with an order. Then he admitted that the Duma
was right by criticising the government. Then he appealed to
the deputies not to vote on the no-confidence motion in second
reading. Then followed his visit to the Duma on the even of the
adoption of the budget in first reading. And now he has heeded
its request and signed the law on the government. I do not
think that his latest concession to the Duma is a humiliation
to him. Quite the opposite. It shows that the President is
gradually embarking on a course of constructive cooperation
with the Duma. And this means that Russia is acquiring a more
civilised legal face."
22 December 1997
[for personal use only]
Where every day is Christmas
By MATTHEW FISHER Sun's Columnist at Large
MOSCOW -- It's still 18 days to the Orthodox Christmas, but the cash
registers are already singing crazily in the tony shops along Tverskaya
Street and in mafia haunts such as the Swiss-managed Sadko Arcade.
Moscow's New Russians, whether they be thugs with buzzcuts or urbane,
western-oriented sophisticates, aren't much taken by questions of faith,
immaculate conceptions and new stars in the night sky. Having stolen and
otherwise acquired huge amounts of money by dubious means, these carefree
children of the former Soviet ruling class have embraced the commercial
variant of Christmas with great ardor.
Not for these clever, soulless swindlers, the Soviet Union's ersatz Santa
Claus - Ded Moroz. The gaunt, vodka-swilling womanizer and his tarty young
granddaughter, Snegurichka, were created by the geniuses from Agit/Prop to
leave modest presents to model pioneers when they woke up on New Year's morning.
Like their creators, Father Frost and his Snow Maiden are probably out of
fashion forever in privileged circles in the capital, although they retain a
devoted, albeit shrinking, following among ordinary Russians, especially in
It's strange, maybe even perverse. that it's Santa Claus who has now
captured the kleptocrats' hearts. After all, the new icon with the big tummy
and the red suit is forever giving his fortune away to others while New
Russians are famous for spending their fortunes on themselves and ignoring
the raw misfortune confronting most of their countrymen every Christmas and
The Russian economy had been shakier than ever this December before yet
another massive western-financed bailout, but New Russians are seemingly
immune to normal market forces. They have devoted the entire month to
honoring their newfound idol by giving him lots of work to do with their
children on Christmas Eve.
Among the favored trinkets of the dull and the jaded nouveau riche last
Christmas were jumbo stuffed toys such as elephants and bears, which sold
for more than $12,000 a pop, and sleek imported fur coats which cost $20,000
and more. The hot item this year may be a completely decorated artificial
20-foot high pine tree which retails for 156 million rubles (about $35,000).
Even the individual baubles used to decorate smaller artificial trees can
cost $250 although $15 or $20 per bauble would be closer to the going rate.
Also eagerly booked this Christmas have been "authentic" vacations with
Saint Nick in northern Finland, shopping sprees in Paris and London,
Caribbean cruises and sunny holidays on a clutch of far-flung island states
so keen for foreign exchange that almost alone among the global community,
they don't require visas of citizens of the former Soviet Union.
For those who don't yearn to travel abroad or are afraid that if they did
some of their cronies might swipe their businesses, there are such new
traditions as the New Year's Eve bash for $1,400 a couple at Maxim's and a
dozen or more other restaurants near Red Square.
Just as Moscow is nothing like Russia today, the Moscow of the New
Russians has nothing except longitude and latitude in common with the gritty
Moscow where the majority of Muscovites get by on salaries of no more than a
couple of hundred dollars a month - if they're lucky enough to have a job
and one that actually pays on time.
I have nothing to complain about. I live a relatively coddled existence
in a well-guarded apartment with cable television and western furnishings in
the unpolluted, unfashionable southern reaches of the sprawling capital.
But as I don't have a car, I bump up against the other Moscow every time
I enter the inhumanely overcrowded Metro or board buses plying Route 224
along Obrucheva Street between two of the city's most heavily used suburban
My favorite place on the buses is on the enclosed platform at the back.
If the ice on the windows isn't too thick, there is always a show to be had
as New Russians driving overpowered Mercedes and over-sized sports utility
vehicles surge past underpowered Ladas, Nivas and Volgas.
Like visitors from another planet, they look back smugly at the rest of
us with neither the connections or gumption to enjoy the holidays the way
they do. For such lucky folks every day is Christmas.
Those on the bus have the power to stop the celebration. They just
haven't figured that out yet.
Voice of America
TITLE=YEARENDER: RUSSIA FOREIGN POLICY '97
INTRO: RUSSIA MADE GREAT STRIDES IN DIPLOMACY DURING THE PAST
YEAR, PATCHING UP OUTSTANDING BILATERAL DISPUTES, WINNING
MEMBERSHIP IN IMPORTANT INTERNATIONAL BODIES, AND EVEN PLAYING A
DECISIVE ROLE IN EASING TENSIONS BETWEEN THE UNITED NATIONS AND
IRAQ. BUT AS V-O-A MOSCOW CORRESPONDENT PETER HEINLEIN REPORTS,
RUSSIA'S FOREIGN POLICY STRATEGISTS STILL ARE STRUGGLING TO
ESTABLISH A POST-SOVIET IDENTITY.
TEXT: FROM THE BEGINNING, 1997 LOOKED LIKE A TOUGH YEAR FOR
RUSSIA. PRESIDENT BORIS YELTSIN WAS ILL, AND THE COUNTRY'S
DIPLOMATS WERE DESPERATELY TRYING TO PREVENT THE INEVITABLE --
THE EASTWARD EXPANSION OF NATO.
BUT AT AN END-OF-YEAR NEWS CONFERENCE, THE CHAIRMAN OF THE
FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE IN RUSSIA'S PARLIAMENT, VLADIMIR LUKIN
CALLED IT A BREAK-EVEN YEAR.
/// LUKIN ACT - RUSSIAN - FADE UNDER VOICE OVER ///
ON THE WHOLE, THE RESULTS OF THIS YEAR HAVE BEEN FIFTY-FIFTY. WE
HAVE ACCOMPLISHED SOME THINGS, BUT IN MANY IMPORTANT DIRECTIONS,
WE HAVE FAILED TO ACCOMPLISH ANYTHING.
/// END ACT ///
MANY OF THE ACCOMPLISHMENTS WERE THE RESULT OF PRESIDENT
YELTSIN'S PERSONAL DIPLOMACY. THE RUSSIAN LEADER REMAINED HEALTHY
MOST OF THE YEAR, AND KEPT UP A HECTIC SCHEDULE OF FOREIGN
BUT THERE WAS A DOWN-SIDE TO MR. YELTSIN'S HIGH-PROFILE
DIPLOMATIC FORAYS. HE SOMETIMES MISSPOKE. AT A NATO SUMMIT IN
PARIS, AND LATER DURING A VISIT TO SWEDEN, HE SURPRISED EVEN HIS
OWN STAFF WITH IMPROMPTU DECLARATIONS ON NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT.
IN BOTH CASES, THE STATEMENTS PROVED TO BE INACCURATE. AFTER THE
STOCKHOLM COMMENT, SPOKESMAN SERGEI YASTRZHEMBSKY SUGGESTED THE
PRESIDENT WAS SIMPLY TIRED.
SOME WESTERN DIPLOMATS, HOWEVER, SAY MR. YELTSIN'S BLUNDERS MAY
ACTUALLY HAVE A POSITIVE EFFECT. SUCH DRAMATIC GESTURES HELP TO
SOFTEN RUSSIA'S TRADITIONALLY CONFRONTATIONAL IMAGE. MOREOVER,
ANALYSTS POINT OUT, THERE APPEARS TO BE A LOT OF TRUTH IN WHAT
THE RUSSIAN LEADER SAYS, SINCE HE IS THE ULTIMATE FOREIGN POLICY
BUT VICTOR KREMENYUK OF MOSCOW'S PRESTIGIOUS U-S-A / CANADA
INSTITUTE SAYS MR. YELTSIN'S IMPROMPTU REMARKS GIVE AN IMPRESSION
OF CONFUSION IN THE KREMLIN.
/// KREMENYUK ACT ///
LIKE FOR EXAMPLE HIS STATEMENT IN STOCKHOLM ABOUT
UNILATERAL CUTS IN STRATEGIC FORCES AND CONVENTIONAL
FORCES. EVIDENTLY THAT WAS AIMED AT HIS AUDIENCE IN
STOCKHOLM, BUT AT THE SAME TIME LEAVING THE IMPRESSION
THAT IN SUCH JUMPS OR LEAPS, HE DOES NOT ALWAYS
CONSIDER REAL POSSIBILITIES OR THAT THE REPORTS HE
RECEIVES FROM HIS PEOPLE ARE WRONG.
/// END ACT ///
STILL, THERE IS A BROAD CONSENSUS MR. YELTSIN'S TRAVELS HAVE BEEN
OVERWHELMINGLY SUCCESSFUL. FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN
LUKIN SAYS THE MOST SIGNIFICANT RESULT WAS IMPROVED TIES WITH
EASTERN NEIGHBORS CHINA AND JAPAN.
/// 2ND LUKIN ACT - RUSSIAN - FADE UNDER VOICEOVER ///
I CAN SAY THE MAIN PLUS HAS BEEN OUR RELATIONS WITH
COUNTRIES OF THE ASIA-PACIFIC REGION. WE HAVE
ACCOMPLISHED A STRATEGIC BREAKTHROUGH BY CONCLUDING A
TREATY WITH CHINA ON DEMARCATION OF THE BORDER.
/// END ACT ///
RUSSIAN DIPLOMACY ALSO WORKED HARD TO IMPROVE RELATIONS WITH
FORMER SOVIET REPUBLICS. IN A BIG STEP TOWARD ENDING YEARS OF
MISTRUST WITH UKRAINE, PRESIDENT YELTSIN MADE A MUCH-DELAYED TRIP
TO KIEV TO SIGN A TREATY ON CONTROL OF THE BLACK SEA FLEET.
MR. YELTSIN ALSO FORMALIZED A DEAL WITH BELARUSSIAN PRESIDENT
ALEXANDER LUKASHENKO ESTABLISHING A LOOSE UNION BETWEEN MOSCOW
/// OPT /// BUT FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN LUKIN
CALLED THE ACCORD WITH THE AUTHORITARIAN BELARUS LEADER A
/// OPT // 3RD LUKIN ACT - IN RUSSIAN -- FADE UNDER VOICE OVER
THE PROBLEM OF BELARUS IS A HEADACHE TO US ALL
REGARDLESS OF POLITICAL AFFILIATIONS BECAUSE WE ALL
SENSE SOME IMPROPER THINGS ARE GOING ON THERE.
/// END ACT // END OPT ///
DIPLOMATIC OBSERVERS SAY MR. YELTSIN'S WIDE-RANGING INITIATIVES
HIGHLIGHT A DIFFICULT CHOICE FACING MOSCOW'S FOREIGN POLICY
STRATEGISTS. SHOULD RUSSIA'S TOP PRIORITY BE BETTER TIES WITH
INDUSTRIALIZED COUNTRIES, OR SHOULD IT ATTEMPT TO STRIKE AN
INDEPENDENT COURSE AS A WORLD LEADER.
VICTOR KREMENYUK OF THE U-S-A CANADA INSTITUTE SAYS THE KREMLIN
LACKS A CLEARLY ARTICULATED GLOBAL STRATEGY.
/// 2ND KREMENYUK ACT ///
RUSSIA STILL HAS NO FOREIGN POLICY GOALS. THAT STILL
IS SOMETHING ONLY IN THE FUTURE. SO FAR, WHAT RUSSIA
HAS IS EITHER REMNANTS OF THE SOVIET EMPIRE AND REMNANTS
OF SOVIET OBLIGATIONS OR COMMITMENTS, OR THE NEWLY
CREATED PROBLEMS WHICH ARE NOT YET SOLVED.
/// END ACT ///
AMONG THOSE REMNANTS OF THE SOVIET EMPIRE IS RUSSIA'S CLOSE TIES
WITH PARIAH GOVERNMENTS SUCH AS IRAQ, AND IN PARTICULAR RUSSIAN
FOREIGN MINISTER YEVGENY PRIMAKOV'S LONG FRIENDSHIP WITH IRAQI
LEADER SADDAM HUSSEIN.
THAT CONNECTION GAVE RUSSIA AN OPPORTUNITY DURING THE YEAR TO
MEDIATE THE DISPUTE BETWEEN IRAQ AND THE UNITED NATIONS.
WESTERN DIPLOMATS CREDIT MOSCOW WITH PLAYING A CONSTRUCTIVE ROLE
IN AVERTING A MILITARY CONFRONTATION. BUT FOREIGN AFFAIRS
COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN LUKIN SAYS SUCH INVOLVEMENT CARRIES WITH IT
/// 4TH LUKIN ACT - IN RUSSIAN - FADE UNDER VOICE OVER ///
DURING THE LATEST CRISIS WITH IRAQ, RUSSIAN DIPLOMACY
WAS QUICK TO DERIVE THE MAXIMUM IT COULD FROM THE
CRISIS. ON THE OTHER HAND, THE FUNDAMENTAL QUESTIONS
REMAIN WHETHER WE HAVE MANAGED TO PREVENT A MILITARY
/// END ACT ///
AND ON WHAT BEGAN THE YEAR AS RUSSIA'S MAJOR FOREIGN POLICY
CHALLENGE, NATO EXPANSION, THE GENERAL CONSENSUS IS THE OUTCOME
WAS GENERALLY POSITIVE. THE NATO-RUSSIA FOUNDING ACT SIGNED IN
PARIS WAS CONSIDERED A KEY STEP FORWARD IN SETTING A NEW
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN FORMER COLD WAR ADVERSARIES..
ALL IN ALL, AS VLADIMIR LUKIN EXPRESSED IT, THE YEAR ENDED
FIFTY-FIFTY. ANOTHER OBSERVER, A WESTERN DIPLOMAT, PREFERRED TO
USE THE ANALOGY OF A CARD GAME. HE SAID "RUSSIA MADE THE BEST OF
A BAD HAND."
BORIS NEMTSOV MEETS FIRST GROUP OF MANAGERS WHO NEXT
JANUARY LEAVE FOR TRAINING ABROAD
By RIA Novosti correspondent Alexandra Akayeva
MOSCOW, DECEMBER 22, RIA NOVOSTI - Russia's First Deputy
Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov today had a meeting with the first
group of managers, who in January 1998, under Yeltsin's plan,
are leaving for Germany to train there.
The group comprises about 80 people aged up to 35. Russia,
according to Nemtsov, "is now short not only of money but also
of well-trained executives".
"All positive macro-economic gains achieved in Russia over
the past few years will fall flat unless enterprises are managed
properly," he emphasised.
In the First Deputy Prime Minister's view, "the catchword
'cadres decided everything' is today no less urgent than fifty
It was proceeding from this principle, he noted, that Boris
Yeltsin addressed leaders of European Union member-countries and
of the Group of 7 with a request to help Russia with specialist
Nemtsov said that already our young specialists are
expected in Germany, Japan, the Netherlands and Canada.
According to him, about 400 Russian young men will be
studying in Bavaria. There is also agreement to send 500 people
to Japan and about one thousand to Sweden.
Special commissions have been created in all Russian
regions and training quotas set in accordance with the region's
population, said the First Deputy Prime Minister.
About 5,000 people are expected to be trained abroad each
"Chances are," said Nemtsov, "that Europe will be recalling
this in the future as a second Russian invasion since Peter the
Sergeyev--Nato Expansion, US Leadership 'Main Threats'
MINSK, Dec 19 (Interfax) -- Russian Defense Minister, Marshal Igor
Sergeyev said NATO's eastward expansion and the United States pursuit of
unilateral leadership in the world pose the main threats to Russia's
security from the West.
Russia will continue to face threats from several directions, although
the strategic military and political situation will gravitate towards a
multi-polar world over the next five to ten years, Sergeyev told the
leadership of the Belarussian Defense Ministry on Friday [19 December] in
"The situation remains tense in the south," he said. It is likely to
deteriorate both inside and outside Russia, he said. Ethnic and religious
differences can destabilize the region, he said. A danger of armed
conflicts is still acute in Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Iraq, he said.
In the east, "the competition for leadership in the Asia-Pacific
region has intensified among the United States, Japan and China," he said.
Tension persists in the Korean Peninsula, he said.
Russia prefers political and diplomatic methods in working towards
reducing threats to its security, he said. The objectives of the Russian
Armed Forces include preventing attempts to put pressure on Russia, made by
either separate countries or by groups of states, and to contribute to
creating a system of collective security, he said.
Yeltsin Said Worn Out by 'Intolerable Workload'
December 19-26, 1997
[translation for personal use only]
"Komsomolskaya Pravda Investigation" by Aleksandr Gamov: "What
Is Wrong with Yeltsin? Boris Nikolayevich Has the Blues, Because He
Is Worn Out"
Despite the optimistic statements by the presidential press service
that Yeltsin is getting better by the hour, not just by the day (remember
that he has been on "sick leave" since 10 December), there have been
reports in the foreign and Russian media claiming the opposite. CPRF
[Communist Party of the Russian Federation] leader Zyuganov informed the
public the other day that the head of state had "suffered a stroke" -- more
than one, in fact.
To clarify the situation, we decided to conduct our own investigation,
so we approached people in Yeltsin's inner circle.
A staff member at the president's Administration of Affairs Medical
center, who was present at the doctors' consultations, said: "Boris
Nikolayevich has no major health problems at the moment." That is, he
actually was hospitalized because of a cold. That's all. There is no
question of any critical hypertension, let alone of a stroke.
A senior official, who has visited the president on several occasions
these past few days, said: "When the boss is sick his mood always
deteriorates. It has now improved. He has even started making jokes,
which means he is on the mend."
Virtually all the people I spoke with both in the Kremlin and in
Staraya Ploshchad and who agreed to talk about Yeltsin's health agreed on
one thing: He has gotten the blues again because he is simply worn out.
The Presidential Staff took a lot of flak for planning a very tough
schedule in November and December for a no longer young Yeltsin: trips
(China and Sweden), a mass of decrees and directives, numerous meetings....
According to many, it was essentially a repetition of the situation in
last year's election campaign, when the inner circle ignored the doctors'
advice and created an intolerable workload for Yeltsin. Someone also made
the following comment: "The old boy's a fine one too. He forgets he is no
longer 40 and will soon be 67."
Certainly, Yeltsin was demoralized by the psychological and emotional
stress due to the "book" scandal, the battle for the 1998 budget, and, of
course, the disasters that have befallen Russia.
According to information from the Presidential Staff, all these
problems are being pondered in the Kremlin at the moment. The idea of the
president's going away for a "winter vacation" when he finally recovers is
also being discussed. The big question is: Will Boris Nikolayevich himself
go along with this?
Anti-Chubays Businessmen Visit Seleznev
Obshchaya Gazeta, No. 50
December 18-24, 1997
[translation for personal use only]
Report by Irina Velikanova: "Oligarchs' Major Invasion of the
Duma. What Were They Looking For in Seleznev's Office?"
State Duma Speaker Gennadiy Seleznev received a large group of
financial bigwigs and industrialists at Okhotnyy Ryad on Tuesday. The
appearance of the bigwigs, who held a meeting for about two hours behind
closed doors, was a complete surprise to the ranke and file deputies.
Virtually all the stars of Russian business came to talk with
Seleznev: Aleksandr Smolenskiy (CBS-Agro), Petr Aven and Mikhail Fridman
(Alfa-Grup), Boris Khait (Most-Bank), Mikhail Khodorkovskiy
(Rosprom-YUKOS), Aleksandr Lebedev (National Reserve Bank), Aleksandr
Zurabov (Menatep), Association of Russian Banks president Sergey Yegorov --
51 people in all.
At a five-minute briefing after the meeting, Gennadiy Seleznev
confined himself to the most general explanations: The event had been
planned back in the summer; they spoke about the formation of Russia's
domestic market and the legislative process, and also discussed the new law
on bankruptcy, the issue of guaranteeing the population's deposits, the
problem of taxes, and others.
Overall, it was nothing serious -- they sat, they talked.... However,
the gathering of such a number of "big white chiefs," especially under the
roof of the "Red" Duma, and, in addition, without any preliminary
announcement -- is certainly not an everyday event. It is doubtful that
such a representative conference could have been gathered at a signal from
Gennadiy Seleznev, although he is now a member of the "[big] four." Two
participants in the discussion on the Duma's side -- economic policy
committee chairman Yuriy Maslyukov and budget committee acting chairman
Aleksandr Zhukov -- admitted that they only learned about the meeting on
Tuesday morning. Aleksandr Zhukov noted that the discussion was of a
"spontaneous nature," meaning those participating in the discussion had no
Obviously, the initiative for this special meeting came from the
business circles and was caused by emergency circumstances. Members of the
business elite may have categorized as emergencies the president's illness
and the strengthening of Anatoliy Chubays' position, which has been noted
of late. Especially as among the prominent financiers who visited Seleznev
the first vice premier's opponents were noticeably predominant, and his
supporters, including Uneximbank head Vladimir Potanin were absent. Most
likely, businessmen opposed to Chubays resorted to the Duma a
Creation of Yeltsin Image as 'Head of an Empire' Denied
MOSCOW, December 19 (Itar-Tass) -- Presidential press secretary Sergey
Yastrzhembskiy on Friday [19 December] refuted pronouncements that he,
allegedly, participates in some way in creating Russian President Boris
Yeltsin's "image of head of an empire".
Restoration of a monarchy in any form in Russia does not suit the
country at all and Russia is far from this, the presidential press
secretary said in a live broadcast of Radio Russia. At the same time
Yastrzhembskiy said that, in his opinion, Russia needs strong executive
Regarding the need of forming a national idea for Russia now being
discussed, Yastrzhembskiy expressed the belief that the need for an idea
that would win over people is now felt in Russia.
He said that such tasks had already been posed to experts. The
presidential press secretary said the three notions on which a national
idea could rest were "democracy, the market, territorial integrity".
Russian religion law drafted on the sly--Catholics
By Philippa Fletcher
MOSCOW, Dec 22 (Reuters) - A controversial law on religion adopted in Russia
this year was drafted behind the backs of some of the country's main non-
Orthodox confessions, a Roman Catholic leader said on Monday.
``Many confessions were unaware of it, for example, the Protestants,''
Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusewicz, the Apostolic Administrator for Catholics in
the European part of Russia, told a news conference.
Kondrusewicz said the draft law that was passed was not the one an
interdenominational commission had been working on.
``So another law was being drafted in parallel. And this indicates that
something was being done behind the backs of religious confessions,'' he said.
The law came into effect in late September after it was redrafted following
criticism from human rights groups, the Vatican and the United States' Senate,
which said it discriminated against mainstream faiths other than the Orthodox
Kondrusewicz said the amendments went some way to easing strained relations
with the Orthodox Church, which argued the law was essential to stop an
invasion of foreign sects.
``Nevertheless, the way the law that was adopted alienated the confessions
from each other. But this does not mean a total rift,'' Kondrusewicz said.
He said the Catholic Church had had a lot of problems trying to find
worship since the religious revival brought about by the collapse of communism
in 1991 but said it was too early to judge whether the law would make this
``So far, speaking in practical terms, we have not been aware of any problems
resulting from the law simply because the implementing regulations have not
yet been adopted,'' he said.
``We have had meetings after the law was adopted and we believe that
cooperation will develop further,'' he added.
Kondrusewicz said there was a danger the law would put the church at the
of bureaucrats who might see it as an unwanted foreign influence, although he
said the church had been present here since the 12th century.
The Kremlin, which vetoed the original law in response to the complaints, has
promised to monitor the implementation of the new law and stamp out any abuse.
Before the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, Konrusewicz said, there were 150
Catholic parishes, half a million church goers and more than 250 priests in
the European part of Russia.
By 1991 the numbers had been reduced to six parishes and three priests. Now
there were 96 parishes, but 43 of them had no place to worship, he said. Only
six of the 144 priests were Russian although locals were gradually being
He estimated that there were 300,000 believers in the European part of Russia
of which 65,000 were in Moscow. While most Catholics before the revolution
were Polish, German or Lithuanian, today most Catholics were at least partly
He said he saw the Roman Catholic Church's future mainly in towns because
people in rural areas were still afraid to come forward, a hangover from
communist times when all religious believers faced official persecution and