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Johnson's Russia List


December 29, 1997   
This Date's Issues: 1452 

Johnson's Russia List
29 December 1997

[Note from David Johnson:
1. Interfax: Gorbachev: Russia Is On Threshold Of Changes.
2. Rossiiskiye Vesti: YELTSIN'S RADIO ADDRESS.
3. Dev Murarka: Filatov.
4. The Times (UK): Mark Franchetti, Adopt an orphan, Russian army told.
5. St. Petersburg Times editorial: For Premier, 5 Years Too Many.

8. The Times (UK): Richard Beeston, Yeltsin women take share of 
power in the Kremlin.


10. Interfax: Chubais: Govt Doing Its Best To Pay Out Wage Arrears.

12. Rossiiskaya Gazeta: THE POOR HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE 
CALLED POOR. (Poverty in Russia).] 


Gorbachev: Russia Is On Threshold Of Changes

MOSCOW, Dec 29 (Interfax) - Russia is on the threshold of significant
changes, Ex-Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev said in an interview
broadcast live by Russian's NTV broadcasting company Monday evening. 
Democratic changes will continue in Russia in 1998 unless an upheaval
occurs and authoritarian rule is imposed, he said. 
Gorbachev essentially supported the Russian president's steps aimed at
achieving an accord in the country and said that the latest roundtable
discussion among branches of power and political groups may serve this goal. 
"The president feels, however, that something is going wrong, even with
a new young team," he said. Back wages are being paid only by taking on
more foreign and domestic debt, Gorbachev said. 
He was very critical of what Russian First Deputy Prime Minister
*Anatoly Chubais* was doing. 
"I don't think Chubais' policy on which the president relies will save
us," Gorbachev said. 
A new wave of privatization without a revival of the economy, the
creation and development of the domestic market or solvent demand will not
do much good, he said. 
Chubais is as ruthless as Gaidar before him was, Gorbachev said. "He is
prepared to destroy one half of industry and deprive half of the country's
workers of their jobs to achieve his goals. The trouble is that the
president supports him, so the problem is in the president," he said. 
Gorbachev said he did not plan at the moment to run in the 2000
presidential elections. He is working on two projects, one being on the
fate of economies and states in the era of globalization. The other is the
formation of a political force that could carry out a new economic and
political program of the kind that are in existence or being drafted now,
he said. 
Gorbachev said that the new presidential elections will be won by former
Russian Security Council Secretary Alexander Lebed, Moscow Mayor Yuri
Luzhkov or Yabloko party leader Grigory Yavlinsky. 
He took a positive view of Lebed, who could win the elections if he
recruited a good team. 
It was not easy for him to star in a Pizza Hut commercial, Gorbachev
said. That event did not change his political views. He said he wanted to
use the fee to improve the finances of his Gorbachev Fund. 
The actual amount to be paid for his part in the ad might be many times
the $150,000 mentioned by the media, Gorbachev hinted. 
Gorbachev said on New Year's Eve he will attend The Nutcracker at the
Bolshoi Theater before going with his family to their dacha. 


>From RIA Novosti
Rossiiskiye Vesti
December 27, 1997
On December 26, 1997

Dear Russians!
My today's radio address to the nation is the last this
year. So, it is a summary of a kind.
All the year life itself prompted the need to talk of
concrete problems: preparations for the winter and the
situation in agriculture, military and pension reforms, the
training of managerial personnel and education, the health of
our children, wages to public-sector employees. In a word, I
have time and again turned to those problems which were our
daily concerns.
Almost all of them have been one way or another linked to
the state of our economy.
It is obvious to most of us today that there have been
very few noticeable successes. The every-day life of many of
our people remains very difficult. People justly complain that
the pace of transformation is too slow. This is yet to become
the subject of a special conversation. We will certainly
correct our mistakes and draw all the necessary conclusions.
Today, I would like to talk of something else which our
daily routines have not allowed me to broach on. I mean
spiritual values and civil responsibility, how we are to live
in a new, very pragmatic world, and what generation is being
formed in front our own eyes.
In the outgoing year the main efforts were concentrated on
the most important area--the economic reform. It was believed
that if people have a comfortable and well-to-do life,
everything else will be solved automatically, as is meant by
the principle "being determines consciousness". It means that
we are still in the thrall of economic materialism, in keeping
with which material production is the foundation of everything
else, that is, the basis in the Marxian terminology. We have
already started to forget these terms, but have not ceased
thinking in keeping with those patterns and rules.
We have not gone any further than changing party slogans
for macroeconomic ones. Instead of "Go ahead and build
Dneproges and Magnitka!" we shouted first "Privatisation at any
cost!" and some time later "Let us force the dollar into the
currency corridor!", thinking that all the rest can wait.
Judging by everything, the habit of believing in
ideological dogmas is still deeply implanted in everyone of us.
We are strongly tempted to make the market our new idol. We
almost show no interest in what is happening in public
consciousness, in the hearts and fates of people. We have gone
from one extreme to another and forgotten about those things
which probably have a stronger influence on the economy than
any investments.
Fortunately, we have not forgotten about them completely.
I have called upon the Russians to make this year a year
of accord and reconciliation. I personally have been firmly
working to this end, even if I had to change myself and seek
agreement with what used to be an "irreconcilable" opposition.
The first reaction to my initiative was sceptical. Quite a
few regarded it as just another slogan. However, the calls for
struggle, for crushing and overthrowing everything have grown
noticeably quieter. They do not meet with massive support.
Confrontation has been replaced with a dialogue, a calm
talk about the details and tactics of reforms. Differences are
no longer settled in the street; they are settled at the
negotiating table. It is now a dispute between those who can
work, not political fanatics. It is evidence of accord, which
is an achievement per se.
However, having liberalised the market, we have failed to
take into consideration many things. We have set the
legislative framework of the market but have forgotten about
moral laws, about such a simple thing as the ethics of private
The link between commercial success and social
responsibility, the fact that such a success obliges is very
little realised in our country. Very few of those who make
money care about the social problems of their employees, create
new jobs and take part in charity measures.
This is why the image conveyed by Russian businessmen is
so unattractive to our people and does not arouse much trust.
Those who have not found their place in the new life yet flatly
reject it. Unless the businessman becomes the real hero of our
times, we will be unable to create a prospering great power.
Businessmen for their part ought to clearly realise that
they are a whole new class, the bulwark and motor of society.
The ultimate goal of what they do is not only their personal
success but common benefit. Otherwise, stories about New
Russians will continue to be told in Russia for a long time to
come. In industrialised countries the social responsibility of
well-to-do people has been regarded as an axiom a long time
now. That is why patronage of the arts, charity and concern
about the poor are valued so highly in those countries. Our
successful businessmen continue to egoistically bathe in their
personal good luck, teasing the majority of their countrymen.
For many decades we used to walk in crowds and march. Now
that we have given up the idea of collectivism, we have almost
lost the spirit of comradeship. We have to learn it, to share
common concerns practically anew, as if we have to learn
walking again, because, otherwise, we will not be able to reach
our goal.
Something else is also of great importance in our searches
for accord--respect for law. It is only natural that it cannot
become a fact of life overnight. Our habitual permissiveness of
the arbitrariness of the powers-that-be makes it hard to
understand. This is all the more so as we still have too many
questions concerning the laws themselves.
We need the parliament and the government coordinate their
efforts, and the courts, militia and prosecutor's offices work
well. Until this is done, our people will never see that only
the force of law makes society stable and life secure.
Hence tax evasion, financial machinations and shadow
economy. It is true that such things happen in all the
countries of the world. But there they are only an exception
from the rule, unlike our country, where they are sooner the
In a tough struggle for daily bread we have grown more
indifferent towards one another, have almost got used to other
people's troubles and grievances and are almost not bothered by
them. What is more, we no longer see the older generation as
the bearer of priceless experience, the necessary link for the
continuation of traditions and a link between the times.
You must have noticed that most of the time I speak in the
plural form of the first person. This is not only because I
bear the responsibility for all that is happening in our
country. Having lived a rather long life, I am perfectly
capable of appraising what our new generation thinks very
little about either because they are very young yet or because
many of the family traditions which cemented our society for
centuries have been lost.
I was lucky in life: I have a big and closely-knot family.
My family always helped me and supports me today in the most
difficult times of trial. That is why I can repeat once again
that we must pay more attention to the family values and
protect and defend them. We must give the young confidence in
the future and help them find their place in life.
Dear friends!
We all are the citizens of Russia. Precisely this unites
us. What is good for Russia is good for us. I wish you do not
think that my words are too high-flown. Maybe such words should
not be said very often. But they should be remembered forever.
They should live in our hearts and make our thoughts and
intentions noble. They should inspire us with pride in the
Thank you.


From: "Dev Murarka" <>
Date: Mon, 29 Dec 1997
Subject: Filatov

Dear David,
In my response to Mr. Raskin, carried in JRL1441, I could not
give any concrete reference to my contention that Sergei Filatov was one of
those responsible for Chechnya War. The reason was purely technical since I
had not noted down the references.
However, perhaps it would interest Mr. Raskin to know that Mr.
John Helmer has now reported in The Moscow Tribune of 24 December 1997 that
General Lev Rokhlin listed Filatov as one of the responsible persons for the
war in his speech to the Duma just before it voted a resolution seeking
investigation into responsibility for it. It can be, of course, easily
checked with records of the Duma proceedings.
All the best for the New Year.


The Times (UK)
December 28, 1997
[for personal use only]
Adopt an orphan, Russian army told 
by Mark Franchetti 

AS thousands of abandoned children struggle to survive the winter on the 
bleak and frozen streets of Russian cities, an urgent appeal has gone 
out for the country's armed forces to adopt homeless orphans - an 
emergency measure that was last instituted during the harshest days of 
the second world war. 
A group of senior war veterans is urging the army to revive the wartime 
tradition of making the orphans "children of the regiment". The aim is 
to avert what aid organisations are calling a national tragedy - a lost 
generation of children forced to live rough on the streets of Moscow and 
St Petersburg after being abandoned by their parents. 
"Their plight is a disgrace," said Vyacheslav Mikhailov, a retired Red 
Army general. "We must help them by taking them into barracks and 
military schools and caring for them." 
Mikhailov speaks from experience. He became an orphan on the streets of 
Moscow at the age of 10 in 1942 after his father was killed and his 
mother disappeared. He was taken in by the army and after the war was 
sent to a military academy to receive a proper education. "I have the 
army to thank for everything," he said. 
Dubbed the bezprizorniki - the neglected ones - vagrant children have 
become one of Russia's most pressing social problems. The Russian Red 
Cross believes there are 50,000 abandoned children in Moscow alone. Some 
are taken into state institutions or shelters, but tens of thousands 
live on the streets. 
According to United Nations estimates, 4 in 10 Russian children live in 
poverty. And meanwhile, since the early 1990s, the number of juvenile 
criminal arrests has increased by over a third to more than 200,000 a 
As Russia struggles to emerge from the social and economic hardship 
which has followed the collapse of communism, tens of thousands of 
children, some as young as eight, have fled or been forced out of their 
homes by violent and alcoholic parents. Many have been attracted to 
Russia's two largest cities in the hope of a better life. 
In a rare and frank admission of the problem, President Boris Yeltsin 
said recently: "It is difficult even to count how many homeless children 
we have in Russia. It is known there are hundreds and hundreds of 
thousands of them . . . children who sleep not in the homes of their 
parents, but in basements, attics, manholes." 
Yeltsin has declared 1998 the year of the homeless. But his sympathetic 
words have yet to be converted into action. Russia still has no proper 
child welfare policy and the situation is often made worse by the 
authorities' random attempts to resolve it. In Moscow, which recently 
celebrated its 850th anniversary, child beggars do not fit in with the 
presidential ambitions of the mayor, Yuri Luzhkov. He has ordered all 
besprizorniki off the streets as part of a cosmetic facelift for the 
Moscow's first soup kitchen for homeless children was shut down recently 
because the Red Cross, which ran it, came under police pressure to clean 
up the area. It is a few yards away from a luxury hotel run by a friend 
of Luzhkov. 
Despite the desperate need for help, however, the appeal to the army is 
unlikely to bring much comfort. The armed forces - dangerously 
underfunded, demoralised and plagued by corruption and violence - have 
more pressing problems than the adoption of orphans. 
The veterans say they have received a positive response from the defence 
ministry. But their plea will make little difference to children like 
Dima, a 13-year-old who sniffs glue to block out the hunger and freezing 
cold as he attempts to sleep wedged between two heating pipes in a 
Moscow sewer. The last time Dima tried returning home his sister threw 
him back on the streets after beating him with a stick. His mother was 
too drunk to care. 
Mikhail Mikitin, the director of a north Moscow police shelter for 
vagrant children, said: "These kids are the last to bear responsibility 
for Russia's social and economic turmoils but they are the first to 
suffer the consequences. 
"I feel desperately sorry for them, but there is little we can do. We 
pick them up, trace their parents and send them back home if they have 
one to speak of. But often they are back in Moscow before the policeman 
who escorted them." 


St. Petersburg Times
DECEMBER 29, 1997-JANUARY 4, 1998 
For Premier, 5 Years Too Many 

PRIME MINISTER Viktor Chernomyrdin's difficulties in public speaking are 
infamous. Following the 1996 hostage crisis in Pervomaiskoye, 
Chernomyrdin summed up the government's bumbling military efforts with 
the now legendary, "We were trying for the best, but it turned out like 
always." In October, defending his government's budget draft before the 
Duma, he reassured lawmakers there would be no grain imports this year 
by barking, "We will not be buying bread, particularly not from any mad 
cows." And last week, he coughed up this chestnut to summarize his first 
five years in office: "If one considers what could have been done, and 
then what we did do over this long time, one can conclude that something 
was done."
Why not take Chernomyrdin at his word and consider what could have been 
. He could have opposed the war in Chechnya - at least as it was waged, 
by bombing civilian centers. Chernomyrdin gets an easy ride on this and 
is often described as a "dove." He might as well have been a real dove - 
an actual dumb bird sitting dully on a park bench somewhere - for all he 
did to question, much less oppose, the mass killing of thousands of 
Grozny's children.
. He could have opposed the illegal privatization of ORT Russian Public 
Television, now a Boris Berezovsky concern, or the rigged auctions of 
oil and metals companies, or any of the other flagrantly corrupt 
privations that have fueled the revival of a Russian Communist Party and 
a new unprincipled Russian oligarchy.
. He could have picked any one reasonably important political cause - 
decommissioning dying nuclear reactors, truly reforming the KGB, opening 
the archives of the Soviet Communist Party, anything - and pushed for 
any one result.
Instead, Chernomyrdin was otherwise occupied. For his first years, while 
inflation raged, he slowly and grudgingly accepted basic economic facts 
(dropping his early insistence, for example, that one had to print more
rubles to "keep up" with inflated prices).There was the illegal 1992 
privatization of Gazprom, from which Chernomyrdin reportedly benefited 
By 1996, according to the memoirs of former Kremlin security chief 
Alexander Korzhakov, Chernomyrdin was privately lobbying to dump the 
presidential elections in favor of rule by a junta. In 1997, outraged 
over a report that he owned assets of $5 billion, Chernomyrdin launched 
a campaign that ultimately crushed that once-fine newspaper, now a 
docile Uneximbank property. 
In the meantime, for fun Chernomyrdin flew to Yaroslavl in February 
1997. There a road had been built - for his one-time use - from the 
airport to the forest lair of a mother bear and her cubs. Chernomyrdin 
and his entourage drove in a Volga to the lair, woke the bears, shot 
them as they stumbled out sleepily, and drove off. When some questioned 
both the expense and the point of this exercise, Chernomyrdin replied 
that it was hunting, the only sport he had time for these days, and 
added, "I was happy that I had an opening in my schedule for this." 
Blame for the excesses and errors of the past five years will ultimately 
lie with Yeltsin. But while Yeltsin has done much bad along with his 
good, Chernomyrdin has either done nothing, or he has done harm. His 
removal from office, on corruption grounds alone, should have happened 
years ago. That it has not speaks eloquently of the Kremlin's priorities 
- far more eloquently than we could ever ask of Chernomyrdin. 



active investor into the Russian economy is the USA - up to 30
percent of all the accumulated investments; it is followed by
Switzerland, Great Britain, the FRG and Italy. Two thirds of the
US investments are direct ones, others - credits of financial
organisations under international governmental agreements.
Germany makes mainly direct investments; Great Britain and Italy
- in the form of credits by financial organisations. 


>From RIA Novosti
Rossiiskiye Vesti
December 27, 1997 

President Boris Yeltsin of the Russian Federation opened
the first session of a round-table discussion uniting
representatives of two state-power branches, parties,
public-political movements and regional leaders in the Kremlin
December 26.
The text of his speech follows below.

Today, we have decided to try out a new form of tackling
major state problems by democratic methods. 
Life itself will reveal whether such a form will catch on,
or not.
However, various proposals to the effect that we need such
a round-table discussion were being submitted by the State
Duma's committees and factions, by the Federation Council, by
the Government and by the leaders of our regions. All of them
kept saying that the proposed round-table discussion would make
it possible to hear each other's opinions on any particular
issue (rather than all problems in general), to voice such
viewpoints and to see what happens next.
It would be really good if we manage to make some
decision; but, in my opinion, lack of such a decision would
also signify certain progress.
This hall has always witnessed the most important
sessions. The land issue is very complicated. Our round-table
disscussion will be put to test today. I don't want to predict
any possible decision that will be made by us today. I guess, 
some of our differences are going to remain after this
discussion. However, the whole of Russia is now witnessing the
main result -- we can work together at one table.
No matter how hard we may argue, but the Russian land
reform continues to pick up momentum. We've got to carry on
with that reform.
It's now too late to decide on the introduction of the
economic land turnover. Life itself has solved this issue. It's
well-nigh impossible to improve the nationwide economic
situation without such a turnover. This is an objective law.
The land market's essence is an entirely different
Will Russia obtain a legal land market that would be
strictly controlled by the state? Or will it receive a criminal
land market? This depends on the land code's provisions. 
Naturally enough, we still lack many things apart from the
land code. 
This country doesn't have its own land cadaster; the
appropriate system for ensuring state control over the land
market also remains to be introduced. Besides, we lack the
required machinery for registering land transactions, as well
as the land-mortgage law, the agricultural-banks law, the
pricing law and many other things.
Even the best land code won't function normally without
such things. In other words, even if we approve the land code
today, we'll still fail to make any immediate headway in the
land-reform field.
What we need is a minimal list of such laws; and we can't
work without such elegislation. True, we don't have a land
cadaster, which affects land prices, etc.
Right now, we'll have to decide on how to deal with the
present-day land-code version. I know that there are two
positions. Some people say that the land code should be signed
as it is. Still others think that we should not sign that
document, examining some other compromise versions beforehand.
Perhaps the truth lies somewhere in between. I think we
should not make any haste here.
Let's examine the land code from one common angle, doing
this calmly and attentively.
Everyone should think about state interests, rather than
partisan interests, those of state-power branches or factions,
while reviewing the land code.
What will Russia obtain from such a land code? Can it
solve current land problems, or will it create new ones
instead? Will that document strengthen legal and economic
space, or will it pierce new "holes" in it?
When we base ourselves on this statesman-like viewpoint,
then we can clearly see all of the land code's shortcmings. And
we also come to understand, how such drawbacks can be
It is my opinion that federal state property on land must

be reinstated. Otherwise the state will fail in its efforts to
adequately ensure national defense and security, to defend its
borders, to expand our common infrastructure, transportation,
communications networks and to preserve the environment.
And now a few words about private property. I won't be
surprised if someone says that the land code doesn't ban
private property. But, if we sort things out, then we shall see
that land owners have no right to sell their land plots, to
present them to other persons and to mortgage them. The land
code simply doesn't stipulate such transactions, which are out
of the question. What kind of private property can we talk
about in this context? Surely enough, this requires some
amendments, so to say.
So, here's the second question. How are we going to ensure
the economic turnover of land plots? We have different types of
land, which vary from region to region. As I see it, we should
opt for differing approaches here. For example, urban
industrial lands must be "activated" as quickly as possible.
Such land plots account for three percent of the entire Russian
territory; however, their turnover would greatly benefit
industrial modernization, urban revival and financial
The farmland issue is more complicated. Not a single
country of the world ensures 100-percent free sales and
purchases of such land plots. The Russian state must closely
supervise the introduction of the farmland turnover. We are
supposed to establish the required principles of such control,
as well as a set of principled restrictions.
Such measures are mostly known to everyone. Their list
includes a provision completely forbidding all purchasers to
change the designation of any specific land plot (during the
first years upon purchase); besides, the range of persons
having the right to acquire land must be limited. Any
prospective farmer must prove his or her skills and aptitudes.
Apart from that, we must not sell any land to foreigners.
This list can be continued still further.
We've got to streamline a realistic state-control
machinery, drafting the relevant federal bills.
As you see, we face numerous problems here. Obviously, we
won't manage to solve them at one go. However, we have to take
the first steps.
I suggest the following procedure. Top chiefs of power
bodies, parties, factions, as well as governors, should take
the floor, first of all. This will allow an overwhelming
majority of people (if not all of them) to speak their mind.

* * * 
Russian President Boris Yeltsin is to sign the land code
three months after it has been amended by the conciliatory
ITAR--TASS has learned at the Presidential Administration
that the relevant agreement has been reached during the
December 26 round-table discussion in the Kremlin.


The Times (UK)
29 December 1997
[for personal use only]
Yeltsin women take share of power in the Kremlin 

THE Kremlin's male-dominated world is being slowly but noticeably eroded
by powerful women who wield enormous influence behind the scenes at the
court of President Yeltsin. 
According to several Kremlin insiders, the ageing Russian leader, who is
recovering from his latest illness, is spending increasing time with his
family who, in turn, are having a greater influence on the affairs of
state. Boris Nemtsov, the Deputy Prime Minister and an energetic reformer,
confirmed earlier this month what many people suspected, that Russia is not
so much a modern democracy as an old-fashioned monarchy. 
"I once referred to Boris Yeltsin as 'Tsar', and that was not by
accident. The powers wielded by the current President are not inferior to
those of a constitutional monarch," Mr Nemtsov said. "The court does exist.
The court makes decisions and sometimes mistakes, like any court." While
emphasising that Mr Yeltsin remained his own master and made his own
decisions, Mr Nemtsov said his entourage was very influential. 
Two of the key figures to emerge are Naina Yeltsina, the President's
wife, and Tatyana Dyachenko, his daughter and aide, who have escaped from
the traditional confines of the kitchen and nursery over the past 18
months. The most noticeable figure is Mrs Dyachenko, who was brought in as
a political novice to help her father's re-election and was instrumental in
shaping his successful Western-style campaign last year. A former space
engineer with two sons, one of them studying for his A-levels at
Winchester, she appears to have inherited some of her father's canny
"I remember seeing her when she first became involved in politics nearly
two years ago," said a Russian official who meets her regularly. "She was
shy and uncertain of herself. Now when she arrives at the Kremlin, you know
you are up against someone serious. She has all the trappings of power: the
cars, the bodyguards, the clothes. When she attends a meeting you know who
is in charge. She is a real little princess." 
Mrs Dyachenko rarely gives interviews. When Mr Yeltsin is ill she is one
of the few people who has regular access to him. When his key advisers fall
out, her opinion can determine the winner, as happened recently when
Anatoli Chubais, her former confidant, was stripped of most of his powers
in a confrontation with her ally, Boris Berezovsky. 
Mrs Yeltsina, who prides herself on keeping the family home and not
interfering in her husband's work, is far less intrusive, but wields more
subtle power. During a recent visit to the Urals town of Yekaterinburg with
Hillary Clinton, the two First Ladies were greeted at one point by
complaints from angry unpaid health workers. To the surprise of the
accompanying press, the Russian leader's wife promised without hesitation
that she would personally make sure that their wages were paid in full. 
In another sign of influence, she and her daughter were behind the
appointment of Viktoria Mitina, a minor political figure but longtime
family friend, to the powerful position of deputy chief of staff of the
Kremlin administration. 
Talk of the influence of the Yeltsin women is greeted with dismay and
denials by the Kremlin. The leadership is acutely aware of the huge damage
caused to Mikhail Gorbachev's popularity by his overbearing wife, Raisa. 
Nevertheless, details of the lives of the First Family are not likely to
remain secret for long. The President's former bodyguard has written a
damaging exposé about their private life, and now Natalya Konstatinovna,
the family's former press secretary, is bringing out a book called A
Feminine View of Kremlin Life to be published next year. She concedes that
the family has become more important than ever to Mr Yeltsin. 


Having rallied newsmen for a traditional "samovar" party,
Gennady Zyuganov called outgoing 1997 as "one of the most
difficult and controversial years".
In his opinion, one of its spectacular results is that the
executive has come to recognize the Duma and the opposition and
as been compelled to pass from threats to a different tone. "The
round table too was indicative in this respect," said Zyuganov.
"The land issue has gathered all of us around one table". The
Communist leader does not share, however, the position of the
Saratov governor Dmitry Ayatskov who permitted the purchase and
sale of land by force of a local Duma decree. Zyuganov has
dubbed Saratov as a Chechnya in terms of law, certain to entail
grave consequences.
Zyuganov reported that the opposition intended to ask the
Federation Council to carry out voting on the Land code this
January. "We must know the opinion of each governor," he said.
Zyuganov expressed the opinion that if the three branches of
power do not come to an agreement on this issue, the country
will remain in the deadlock.
In Communist leader's forecast, 1998 will be a difficult
and hazardous year but will help us to recover. On having
visited 42 areas of Russia over the past year, he has made the
conclusion on "a qualitative change of the moods of the
population". Zyuganov expressed the belief that the country is
recovering, that the people's eagerness to work hard and make
compromise is growing. And the party in office has realised this
and has been acting more reasonably.
The Communists are planning to hold an open Party assembly
this January to follow the implementation of the last congress'
decisions and to work out long-term targets. Besides, the next
Communist Party plenary meeting will be held in April 1998. 


Chubais: Govt Doing Its Best To Pay Out Wage Arrears

MOSCOW, Dec 27 (Interfax-Moscow) - First Deputy Prime Minister *Anatoly
Chubais* said the government's objective was "to make a maximum effort for
paying out its arrears to the public sector to the full until December 31." 
The federal budget has fulfilled its obligations and transferred 11.3
trillion rubles over the past four months, including 5.9 trillion rubles
disbursed in December. "Therefore, the entire program assumed by the
federal budget was completed," he said. 
However, an aggravated situation persists in several regions,
particularly in Kuzbas, Primorye, the Irkutsk region and the Krasnoyarsk
territory, he said. The government is focusing its efforts on finding
additional sources for easing the situation in these regions, he said. 
Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin chaired a meeting which
tackled these issues on Saturday morning, he said. Another meeting will be
held on Monday. 
The government will do its best to make allocations exceeding its
obligations in the sphere, he said. Regional authorities are to be drawn
into the process, he said. The government will insist that regional leaders
responsible for the situation be penalized. 
The wage arrears have been paid off completely in over 50 entities of
the Russian federation, he said. 
The government will take strict steps against the enterprises which
incurred debts to the federal budget, he said. 
The Angar Petrochemical Combine failed to carry out the decisions of the
Interim Commission charged with collecting debts to the government. Chubais
said they will "start the procedure for arresting the combine's property,
in accordance with the Commission's decisions," he said. 
At the same time, the Omsk Oil Refinery settled its budget debts to the
full, he said. The Avto-VAZ car maker also fulfilled its commitments and
transferred 300 billion rubles to the federal budget, he said. 



MOSCOW, DECEMBER 29. /RIA Novosti/ -- Muscovites are busily
preparing for the New Year buying foods and drinks for the
forthcoming traditional parties. However, far from all
foodstuffs, above all drinks, are benign to human health.
According to the economic crime prevention division of the
interior department of Moscow, practically all brands of brandy
originating from the CIS countries are fakes in spite of their
high prices. Some vodkas are even poisonous. Recently, the tax
police has uncovered a large underground vodka distillery where
industrial alcohol was mixed with tap water. This surrogate was
made in Ramensky district of Moscow oblast, with the bottles
containing the deadly booze carrying the labels of the popular
vodka brands.
The experts recommend to buy strong drinks only at large
shops which maintain direct links with such reliable
distilleries as Kristall, and never buy cheap stuffs at street
kiosks. According to the press data, some 43,000 people die as a
result of drinking false vodkas, and consumption of faked brands
leads to irreversible genetic changes.
As far sparkling wine is concerned it is safer to buy 
Moscow-made brands carrying the traditional labels. The
champagne produced in Moldova is less expensive but its quality
is markedly inferior to that distilled in Russia. It would be
recalled that the Yve Roche and Spumante are not listed among
the sparkling wines.
When buying wines and strong drinks, a set of simple
precautions will help you stay healthy and minimize your


>From RIA Novosti
Rossiiskaya Gazeta
December 27, 1997

The law on the subsistence minimum in the
Russian Federation comes into force on 1 January
1998. As of today, the minimum salary makes up a
fifth, and the minimum pension 80%, of the
subsistence minimum. 

Vladimir PASHUTO, a State Duma member:
Importantly, the state committee for statistics does the
monitoring of the subsistence minimum in 132 cities and towns
of the country. The average subsistence minimum in Russia is
close to 460,000 roubles a month. 
It is higher in Moscow - nearly a million roubles. But
then every region uses its own method to assess its subsistence
The incomes of 35% of the population are well below the
figure; that is to say, they stand below the poverty line and
need assistance which would come up to a fantastic figure. 
While pensions in this country total 11 trillion roubles,
there is data to indicate that the law would cost up to 120
trillion roubles. 
Ideally, the minimum salary and the minimum pension cannot
be below the subsistence minimum. One can imagine the fantastic
burden the federal budget and the budgets of the Federation
members would have to bear. 
The law provides, therefore, that the minimum salary and
the minimum pension are expected to rise in a staged manner
until they reach a half of the subsistence minimum. This is
likely to happen early in the next century, but they will start
rising in 1998. 
To alleviate the negative consequences of the economic
reform drive, the state has introduced over 2,000 benefits
applicable to the various strata. The low income earners in the
provinces often get assistance in the form of non-food
products, e.g. fuels, services, including cut-rate
transportation, and foodstuffs. 
The law makes social assistance a must for the executive
authorities in the Federation members. The conditions and
procedure of providing assistance to the low income earners
will be laid down in a federal law. 

Yevgeni GONTMAKHER: chief of the RF Government's social
development department:
The index, i.e. the subsistence minimum, was introduced in
March 1992 when the President signed the decree on a system of
minimum consumer budgets. In the fall of that year, the RF
ministry of labour endorsed a method of assessing it. 
One can glean the data in the statistics committee's
monthly reports. The average subsistence minimum in Russia is
close to 500,000 roubles, and in Moscow 700,000 roubles a
LK: Does the minimum consumer budget list 19 items or
YG: We operate the so called food basket which embraces
much more items grouped into meat products, dairy products,
vegetables, bakery products, etc. The 19-item consumer budget
(which included cigarettes) was devised by Grigory Yavlinsky
for his 500-day programme. 
With the aim of introducing the subsistence minimum in
1992, the food basket was compiled by the Russian Academy of
Medical Sciences' diet institute. It was a balanced combination
of hydrocarbons, proteins, fats, etc. It was thus made more
extended and better substantiated. 
Foodstuffs make up two-thirds of the subsistence minimum.
The share is expected to decrease when expenditures for the
non-food products and services increase. The subsistence
minimum will rise accordingly.
LK: The law provides for a staged effort to bring the
minimum salary and the minimum pension closer to the
subsistence minimum. Until then, the low income earners have
the right to receive social assistance from the state, don't
YG: The social aid provided by the state has no bearing on
the staged effort. The regions can start providing social aid
on 1 January 1998 if they decide they have enough money to
assist families where the percapita income is below the
subsistence minimum. That is to say, every region is to decide
whether its budget can afford the provision of state social
LK: Is the difference between the minimum salary and the
minimum pension far behind the subsistence minimum?
YG: The minimum salary is 20%, and the minimum pension
(including compensations) 80% of the subsistence minimum. So
the difference between the low-income bracket workers and the
pensioners is appreciable: under a presidential decree, the
minimum pension, what with all payments and additions, cannot
fall below 80% of the subsistence minimum. It will not drop
below the level in 1998 or the subsequent years. 
Now if the economy shows a growth and the wages and
payments to the Pension Fund go up, we will try and elevate the
minimum pension to the level of the subsistence minimum -
hopefully in 2000-2002. 
Admittedly, these days people get smaller pensions than
before 1992 (in comparable prices). That year, the ministry of
labour recommended a method of assessing the subsistence level
in a given region. Serious factors were made applicable to some
regions, in particular Moscow. The minimum consumer budget,
rather than the subsistence level, was used to represent for
the poverty level. 
The former is a second poverty line in Russia, so to
speak, but few people know about it. It is nearly two times the
subsistence level. It is not applicable to the rest of the
So do not be surprised if a Moscow paper writes the
poverty level is 1.5 million roubles. But this is not the
subsistence level the ministry of labour is talking about. This
is a Moscow index. It only applies to two or three regions in

Social Aspects of Living Standards, 
in thousand roubles

Subsistence Level, per capita 406

Able-Bodied Population 457
Pensioners 286
Children 410

Minimum Consumer Budget 1,045
25-Item Food Basket 236.4

Below Average Percapita Income Earners, mil. 32.3
Below 25-Item Food Basket Income Earners, mil. 7.8

Average Salary 1,032
in industry 1,197
in light industry 538
in fuels industry 2,480

Average Pension 342.7


Poverty Levels in Regions, in 1996
(Data provided by the ministry of labour's national 
living standards research centre)

Poverty Level (i.e. share of
average income earners below Regions 
subsistence level) 

Very high (50% plus) Kurgan, Orenburg, Chita 
oblasts, republics of
Kamykia, Buryatia, Tyva

High (40-50%) Pskov Oblast, republics of
Mariy El, Adygee, Kabarda-
Karachay-Cherkassia and
North Ossetia-Alania

Above average (30-40%) Ivanovo, Kostroma, Moscow,
Kirov, Astrakhan, Volgograd,
Penza, Saratov, Rostov,
Novosibirsk, Tomsk, Irkutsk
and Amur oblasts, Krasnodar,
Stavropol, Altai and
Maritime territories,
republics of Mordovia and

Average (20-30%) Arkhangelsk, Vologda,
Murmansk, Leningrad,
Novgorod, Bryansk, Vladimir,
Kaluga, Oryol, Ryazan, Tver,
Yaroslavl, Nizhny Novgorod,
Voronezh, Kursk, Tambov,
Samara, Perm, Sverdlovsk,
Chelyabinsk, Omsk,
Kamchatka, Magadan, Sakhalin
and Kaliningrad oblasts, St.
Petersburg, Krasnoyarsk and
Khabarovsk territories,
republics of Karjala,
Chuvashia, Tatarstan,
Udmurtia, Altai, Khakassia
and Sakha (Yakutia)

Low (less than 20%) Smolensk, Tula, Belgorod,
Lipetsk, Ulyanovsk,
Kemerovo, and Tymen oblasts,
Moscow and the republic of


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