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Johnson's Russia List


January 6, 1998  
This Date's Issues: 2003 

Johnson's Russia List
6 January 1998

[Note from David Johnson:
1. Tim Louzonis: Red Belt definition?
2. Financial Times (UK): John Thornhill, Moscow's recorded crime 
rate falls 20%.

3. Vladivostok News editorial: Even in hard times, "walruses" 
offer hope.

5. Sovetskaya Rossiya: Vasiliy Safronchuk, "Oligarchy: One Year 
Later: The Russia We Lost and Berezovskiy, Gusinskiy, Potanin, and 
Others Gained."

6. Turin's La Stampa: Former Yeltsin Aide Yablokov Discusses 
'Pocket-Sized' Atomic Bombs.

7. Komsomolskaya Pravda: Chubays 'Does Not Have Long' in Power.
8. Reuters: Chris Bird, Central Asia steps onto world stage.]


Date: Mon, 5 Jan 1998 15:26:48 -0500
From: MCTInvestors <>
Subject: Red Belt definition?

Dear Mr. Johnson:
The term "Red Belt" is frequently used rather loosely by pundits and
journalists when referring to those regions in Russia where Communist
politicians are in power. I was wondering if you or a JRL list member
could help me define this nebulous term. I would like to know which
oblasts, regions, or administrative divisions represent what is understood
to be the Red Belt.
Thank you in advance / Zaranee Vam blagodaren.
Tim Louzonis
MCT of Russia


Financial Times (UK)
6 January 1998
[for personal use only]
Russia: Moscow's recorded crime rate falls 20%
By John Thornhill in Moscow

Recorded crime in Moscow fell 20 per cent last year as residents became 
smarter at protecting themselves and the forces of law and order began 
working more effectively, Russia's interior ministry claimed yesterday.
The number of recorded crimes in the capital fell by more than 16,000 to 
66,313, with only drug-related offences showing an increase. "All this 
means our lads have begun working better," an interior ministry official 
explained, while still advising Muscovites to avoid dark alleys.
The incidence of crime in Russia exploded following the collapse of the 
Soviet Union in 1991, with Moscow emerging as one of the world's most 
murder-prone cities. A string of contract killings, including those of 
Vladislav Listyev, a popular television personality, and Paul Tatum, a 
US entrepreneur, remain unsolved to this day.
But law and order officials have been quick to hail the falling crime 
rate, reflected across much of Russia, albeit on a less dramatic scale, 
as proof of increased police effectiveness and greater social stability 
after five years of upheaval.
Some criminologists argue Russia is following a similar path to other 
east European countries where crime rates tumbled when economic growth 
resumed. Preliminary statistics suggest Russia's economy may have grown 
fractionally in 1997 after years of contraction.
But interpreting often unreliable statistics can be a hazardous affair; 
the interior ministry conceded many complex social forces were at play. 
"Experts consider the level of crime in society depends on 200 different 
factors and the police can influence only 50 of them," the ministry 
official told the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper.
"For example, the number of burglaries has fallen because people have 
finally got round to strengthening their doors."
The newspaper suggested the fall in the recorded crime rate might 
reflect the increasing sway of organised crime groups, which had divided 
up Moscow into clear territories and driven out petty bandits.
Other commentators have questioned whether the police are not also 
dissuading victims from registering crimes, to flatter the statistics. 
Rape crisis centres in Moscow say many women do not report sexual 
attacks because they fear the additional humiliation of insensitive 
police questioning.
Foreign experts appear baffled over how seriously to take the threat of 
crime in the former Soviet bloc. Testifying before the US Congress in 
October, Louis Freeh, director of America's FBI, said the Russian mafia 
had grown more powerful than its Italian predecessor and posed a "real, 
immense" threat to US security.
But a month later in Moscow, Mr Freeh denied the existence of the 
Russian mafia, while praising Russia's efforts to control crime.


Vladivostok News 
December 30, 1997
Even in hard times, "walruses" offer hope

On a cold winter day in Vladivostok it is instructive to walk across the 
frozen harbor to look at the polar bear swimmers (or "walruses," as the 
locals call them). 
An astoundingly determined group, they emerge from a structure on the 
quay, trot across the packed ice on the pavement, and leap into a hole 
cut in the ice. They splash around for a minute or two, gasping, then 
leap out and dash back to shelter. 
Why do they put up with such a shock to the system? Yes, we know, for 
health reasons, they claim. But what is it that drives a person in a 
bitterly cold climate to shock himself with an outdoor bath when the 
temperature is down in the teens. 
Perhaps it is good at Christmas and New Year -- a time traditionally 
given to repentance, reflection, and resolution -- to bear in mind the 
"walrus swimmers." Vladivostok is a city where depression comes easily. 
The health of its citizens is failing, and government seems incapable of 
functioning normally. 
Citizens and foreigners alike often focus on what's wrong because it is 
so glaringly evident. In such an environment, even the smallest assaults 
on the eye -- the stripped hulk of a car, the dead rat in the apartment 
hallway -- are not discrete, but seem to symbolize a broader breakdown 
in society. 
Yet amid the despair, remember the small successes -- the growing 
consumer economy, the plans of the port to expand. Even the traffic 
clogged roads are a sign there is a little income around that didn't 
exist a decade ago. Perhaps Vladivostok didn't leap immediately into the 
club of the booming Pacific Rim cities. Yet its people are fiercely 
determined to succeed. We have every confidence that the New Year will 
nudge them another step out of poverty. You have to believe in a people 
who are fearless enough to leap into a hole hacked in an ice-covered 


>From RIA Novosti
Rabochaya Tribuna
December 30, 1997

Federation Council speaker Yegor STROYEV is not
only an outstanding politician; he is a veteran
agriculturalist who has managed, economic hardships
notwithstanding, to raise the Oryol agriculture 'from
the dead'. 
His opinion of the Land Code, pondered at a
round-table conference of the main parties and
movements on 26 December, is therefore not without an

Cities and towns take up but 3% of Russia's overall
territory. The rest is the countryside, mostly tilled lands.
This is the land that has for centuries been feeding the nation
and giving it the stamina to live on. 
The matter of forms of land ownership is central to the
national interests, and the Land Code is a document no less
important than the Constitution. 
What with the difference of opinions, one might expect a
political battle royal at the conference. But Stroyev says the
expected confrontation yielded to a sensible search of
decisions that would be acceptable both to rural dwellers and
the state.
In his opinion, the matter of sale and purchase of land
needs to be honed legally and organisationally if we want to
preclude unauthorised uses of land.
"All political forces, not excluding the President, have
the impression we need a land cadaster, a land evaluation
system, regulations for the change of owner, control over the
registration of land deals, etc. We will then be able to keep
land out of illicit circulation and prevent misuses of land,
social tensions in the countryside and peasant uprisings,"
Stroyev explains. 
In short, it takes time to streamline the matter of the
land purchase and sale. For there is no mechanism in Russia to
monitor the use of land for agricultural purposes. This is why
many thousands of hectares of tilled lands become dachas every
year. Millions of hectares are not sown and thus lie idle. Huge
territories which are not duly used are simply abandoned.
Moreover, there are no land mortgage practices or a land
bank. Many other things are also lacking. The round-table
discussion was thus a starting point for an effort to form the
above. The effort to give the land to those who till it. 
The effort is long overdue, but this is only natural: land
in Russia has been divided and re-divided for centuries; the
whole history of Russia rivets on the 'peasant issue'.
A new re-division of land should be precluded in the
current situation. Stroyev, who knows a thing or two about
agriculture, says, pain thick in his voice: "Land has been
abandoned, people do not want to till it, and the task of
finding ploughmen to till it is probably more important today
than allowing the sale of land."
The conference listed issues to be pondered by a
conciliatory commission within the next three months in order
to preclude misuses of land and the rise of manors in place of
empoverished farmsteads. 
In other words, the land that can be used to grow grain
should not be used to build country villas or Coke bottling
facilities. The state should exercise strict control over the
matters of prices, area of land plots to be sold, and their
eventual uses. 
Basing on his own personal experience, Stroyev insists:
"We should count on the reason and will of the farmer, on his
interest and knack of tilling land."
The unique experience of the Oryol Region, where Stroyev
is the Governor, is conspicuous. 
On its knees only recently, the Oryol agriculture is now
the national leader in the per capita volume of agricultural
production, is the second in Russia in grain harvests, and the
third in potato growing. 
Every rouble invested in the Oryol agriculture quickly
produces eight roubles in revenues. Over 3,000 modern
two-storey country houses have been built within a year and gas
has been brought to nearly all villages. 
The stumbling block of the past few years has been the
question of whence resources for Russia's comeback? Stroyev is
confident: "The reserves are where our roots are, the land and
farmers. They say that agriculture is a 'black hole' for
astronomic funds, but this contention is wrong. Our land is our
treasure, and in the current complex economic situation, Russia
will rise again only thanks to its agriculture."


Financial Elite's Influence Seen Growing 

Sovetskaya Rossiya
20 December 1997
[translation for personal use only]
Article by Vasiliy Safronchuk: "Oligarchy: One Year Later: The Russia
We Lost and Berezovskiy, Gusinskiy, Potanin, and Others Gained"

The destroyer of Russia, the director of the Institute of the
Transitional Market Economy, and the chief economic adviser to the ruling
regime, Yegor Gaydar, tried to reassure Russians a month ago. In a
televised interview, he assured viewers that the financial oligarchy's
present plundering of Russia is a temporary phenomenon. America, he said,
also lived through the same kind of period, when the country was taken over
by the so-called robber-barons: the Morgans, Rockefellers, Du Ponts,
Vanderbilts, and others. That period came to an end in America, Gaydar
declared, the American "robber-barons" became completely respectable
bourgeois gentlemen, and the people of the United States started living the
good life. The era of the "robber-barons"--i.e., the Berezovskiys,
Gusinskiys, and others like them--will also come to an end in Russia,
Gaydar promised, and our people will also start living the good life, while
the robbers will become law-abiding and God-fearing citizens and model
You make everything sound so sweet, esteemed Yegor Timurovich! The
important thing, however, is that Gaydar has finally admitted that the
Russian capitalism he and Chubays created under B. Yeltsin's supervision is
a predatory brand of capitalism!...
It is difficult to say whether the primitive line of reasoning of the
"father" of Russian reform is a sign of absolute ignorance or an example of
unbridled demagoguery. Judging by all indications, this learned man has
probably never even set eyes on the classic study of the "robber-barons" by
well-known American economist Matthew Josephson, a work that was published
in New York in 1934 and then reissued in 1962. In the foreword to the
second edition of his book, Josephson writes that the final quarter of the
last century was a time of "predatory, completely unrestricted,
unscrupulous, and greedy capitalism" in the United States. It was also a
period when the richest people in America, whom he calls the "kings" of the
railroads, steel, canned hams, and so forth, covered the country with a
network of railways, built factories, and laid the foundation for modern
mass-scale industrial production. Although Josephson calls them "inveterate
money-grubbers" who lived by the biological law of the "survival of the
fittest," he also borrows a term from Marx to describe them as "agents of
Our oligarchs can only be compared to the American "robber-barons" in
terms of their greed and lack of scruples, but they could never be called
"agents of progress." They have not built anything. On the contrary, they
have destroyed the former great industrial nation of the Soviet Union. The
American "robber-barons" built their fortunes on the rapid development of
the productive forces of society and the incorporation of the latest
scientific and technical achievements in production. Whatever the origin of
the amassed capital of the financial oligarchs in the United States may
have been, they invested it in the country's economy, in the development of
its extractive and processing industries, agriculture, transportation, and
communications. The Fords created the automotive industry and made the
automobile affordable to every American. The Rockefellers organized
efficient petroleum production and refining and supplied drivers with
gasoline by filling the country with an extensive network of gas stations.
The Carnegies developed American metallurgy. The Du Ponts established the
modern chemical industry, providing agriculture with fertilizers and
supplying housewives with detergents and with health and hygienic aids. The
Vanderbilts covered the country with a developed network of railroads.
Edison made the electric bulb accessible to everyone and laid the basis for
the modern power supply system in the United States. The Morgans
established the modern banking system in the United States, and so forth.
The Berezovskiys, Gusinskiys, Alekperovs, Potanins, and others of their
ilk, on the other hand, have destroyed the integrated economy of the former
USSR, are obliterating the Russian automotive industry, are ruining the
aerospace industry, have shattered the oil industry and are selling it in
pieces to foreigners, are stifling the coal and chemical industries, are
selling off our nonferrous and rare metal deposits, have fragmented the
transportation system and are driving it to ruin, have divided up the
banking sphere and are using it for their own enrichment instead of the
support of the national economy, and so forth. The Berezovskiys,
Gusinskiys, Potanins, and others like them cannot be compared to the
prerevolutionary Morozovs, Ryabushinskiys, Guzhons, and other captains of
Russian industry either. The latter had more in common with the American
Our oligarchs and their proteges in the government, on the other hand,
destroyed almost everything that was created during the years of Soviet
rule in industry and in agriculture and reduced our science, which was once
a world leader, to its present pitiful state. The capital accumulated by
today's Russian millionaires, in contrast to the capital of American and
other Western capitalists and of the prerevolutionary Russian
industrialists, is not being invested in the national economy, but is
leaving the country and is being deposited in their bank accounts abroad or
being invested in real estate abroad. Even the official data for 1992-1997
put the capital drain at over 62.3 billion dollars, or 323.2 trillion
rubles! The actual figure is at least twice as high. That is why a small
nouveau riche group became fabulously wealthy while the country got poorer
and the people started living like beggars. Our nouveau riche gentlemen are
not creating any real assets; they are simply stealing everything that was
created by the labor of the Soviet people. We could say without any
hesitation that no foreign invasion in Russia's thousand-year history,
including the Fascist invasion, has caused as much economic devastation as
the five-year reign of Chubays, Berezovskiy, Potanin, and others like them.
The oligarchy and the regime serving it cite the experience of the
United States and Russia in the early stages of industrialization to
justify the so-called borrowing of hard currency from abroad. The loans the
United States and Russia got in the final quarter of the last century,
however, were used mainly to build enterprises of heavy industry,
railroads, and other elements of the infrastructure. The loans and the
interest on them were paid with the income from those enterprises. The
Soviet Union used foreign loans and credits in a similar manner. Gaydar,
Chubays, and other such "scholars" love to make direct and indirect
references to the foreign debt of the Soviet Union, but they do not mention
that these loans were used to finance the construction and renovation of
such giants of Soviet industry as KamAZ, AvtoVAZ, GAZ, and dozens of other
enterprises that are now being plundered by the financial oligarchy. The
present regime is sliding deeper and deeper in debt to the IMF, the World
Bank, and the Paris and London clubs, but these funds are being used to
patch up holes in the budget, to pay for the services of foreign
"advisers," and to bribe Russian public officials. These loans will be
repaid by the taxpayers and by the growth of the internal debt. Everyone
here is borrowing money abroad: the federal government, the Governments of
Moscow and St. Petersburg, privatized enterprises and banks, and so forth.
At the slightest sign of trouble in stock markets, the foreign holders of
Russian stocks and bonds will start dumping them and will undermine the
already fragile Russian exchanges! Central Bank Chairman S. Dubinin
informed the Duma on 21 November that around 5 billion dollars (30 trillion
rubles) "left" the Russian securities market at the time of the recent
crisis. The market for state short-term bonds could have been ruined
completely without the support of the Central Bank's gold-based currency
The main difference between classic capitalism and our mafia version,
therefore, is that the former developed on the basis of production and
trade. Furthermore, the accumulation of capital was accompanied by the
growth of production and trade. In other words, it was a form of
development from the bottom up. Financial magnates grew rich, but so did
the country. In today's Russia, on the other hand, capitalism was created
artificially, from above, by the political regime that seized power
illegally and destroyed the Soviet Union. Our capitalists were cultivated
artificially by the ruling regime when it transferred state property to
decadent members of the former nomenklatura and unscrupulous businessmen.
Yes, the American "robber-barons" were ruthless in their exploitation
of the laboring public, but they could not stop the struggle of the working
class for its rights and prevent the development of progressive labor laws,
the improvement of working conditions, and the establishment of a minimum
set of social guarantees for the people. The Russian oligarchs, on the
other hand, destroyed the system that had been created during the years of
Soviet rule and was the most progressive system in the world for the
satisfaction of the social needs of the people: free education, health
care, social security, and so forth. This system is still held up as a
paragon in the Western countries. Our oligarchs, however, have driven the
overwhelming majority of the people to beggary, deprived millions of the
people of the chance to work, and denied those who do work the right to
earn an honest living.
The most disastrous results of the oligarchy's reign in Russia are the
ruin of the state, the loss of Russia's independence, and the undermining
of our national sovereignty. A fundamental feature of any self-respecting
state is a budget that is large enough to secure the uninterrupted
functioning of the machinery of state and satisfy the basic social needs:
the development of production, the defense of the country, the maintenance
of law and order, and so forth.
The most paradoxical feature of today's Russia is the state's
inability to collect the taxes required for the satisfaction of the
country's needs. We know that the main source of revenue today has to be
the enterprises that are owned or managed by the oligarchy: oil companies,
enterprises extracting and processing other crude minerals, the firms
exporting these energy resources and raw materials, and so forth. The
paradox, however, is that the oligarchy does not want to share its fabulous
wealth with the state, does not wish to pay taxes, and has chosen not to
support its "own" regime. By doing this, it is cutting off the branch on
which it is perched. According to official data, taxes collected during the
first nine months of this year were equivalent to only 52 percent of the
projected amount&mdash;i.e., only half. The collection rate since then has
been even lower. The 15 largest inveterate nonpayers include enterprises
belonging to the financial oligarchy: Norilskiy Nikel, Yuganskneftegaz,
Noyabrskneftegaz, Gazprom, and others. In search of a scapegoat, the
Kremlin and the government are trying to blame the State Duma, particularly
the opposition deputies, for the nonexecution of this year's budget and the
delays in the approval of next year's budget. On 22 November V.
Chernomyrdin made some crude and frankly obscene remarks about the Duma and
leveled unconcealed threats at the opposition, literally foaming at the
mouth and resorting to the language of the streets. As the prime minister
and the chairman of the select tax collection committee, however, he must
assume direct personal responsibility for the nonexecution of this year's
budget and the gigantic revenue shortfall. As the saying goes, one hand
washes the other! The premier, whose incredible fortune has been the
subject of so much discussion this year in the Russian and foreign press,
is indistinguishable from the other members of the financial oligarchy. It
is difficult to expect him to be objective when the self-seeking interests
of the oligarchy are at stake! The words of an English economist are
completely applicable to V. Chernomyrdin: Like the church, he is more
likely to excuse attacks on 39 out of 40 of his religious beliefs than on
one-fortieth of his income.
The oligarchic financial groups that were created with the
encouragement and direct assistance of the state and the present mafia
regime are the main form this Russian criminal brand of capitalism has
taken. The typical Russian financial group has the following
characteristics: 1) The group is usually headed by a bank and a financial
holding company; 2) it consists of several industrial companies in one or a
few branches, as well as trade and service enterprises; 3) the enterprises
belonging to the group are organized in the form of joint-stock companies
of the closed or open type (in the latter case, their stocks might be
listed on the Russian and foreign stock exchanges); 4) the financial group
is usually connected to the government by personal ties&mdash;i.e., it has
representatives of its own in the government or has former high-level
government officials among its administrators; 5) financial groups fight
with one another for control of the most luscious pieces of the pie that
once belonged to all of the people, but they are also united by an
interlinked network of reciprocal financial participation; 6) the financial
group controls some branch of the media (a newspaper, a magazine, or a
television station).
A year ago we conducted a study of the main oligarchic financial
groups that had been established by that time and already controlled,
according to different estimates, from 50 to 60 percent of the Russian
economy and a considerable portion of the Russian media: LogoVAZ
(Berezovskiy), ONEKSIMbank (V. Potanin), MENATEP (M. Khodorkovskiy), the
Most-Bank group (V. Gusinskiy), the Alfa group (P. Aven and M. Fridman),
the Stolichnyy Bank group (A. Smolenskiy), LUKoil (V. Alekperov), Gazprom
(R. Vyakhirev), and the Trans-World Aluminum Group of the Chernyy brothers.
In the past year the oligarchic groups' control of the Russian economy has
been considerably expanded and strengthened. The balance of power among the
groups has also changed. These changes are reflected in the following
1) The financial oligarchic groups completed their conquest and
division of the oil production and refining industry. In the mortgage
auctions at the end of 1995 they seized control of the giant LUKoil, Yukos,
SIDANKO, and Sibneft oil companies, respectively ranking first, second,
third, and fourth in oil production, and controlling more than half of all
oil production and refining. In 1996 and 1997 they strengthened their
control of those companies and plan to buy a controlling interest in the
other oil holding companies among the top 10 in the remaining months of
this year: the Eastern Oil Company, Slavneft, the Tyumen Oil Company,
NORSIoil, and Rosneft. After this they will control virtually the whole oil
production and refining industry in Russia.
2) The oligarchy has begun selling national enterprises of strategic
significance to foreign capital. When Chubays and Nemtsov joined the
government this spring, they made an attempt to fragment and sell Gazprom
and the YeES Russian Joint-Stock Company on the pretext of a struggle
against "natural monopolies," but they encountered resistance from the
Chernomyrdin-Vyakhirev twosome and had to retreat temporarily. They did,
however, manage to begin selling the Svyazinvest national holding company.
At the end of July 1997, 25 percent of the stock in the holding company was
sold to a consortium headed by Potanin's ONEKSIMbank, but three-fourths of
the consortium's capital was put up by foreign banks and financier Soros.
This created the danger of the transfer of a strategically important
facility to foreign control.
3) The merger of the Russian financial oligarchy with Western
transnational corporations became more apparent and gave the Russian
oligarchy increasingly distinct comprador and cosmopolitan features. This
is particularly noticeable in the oil and gas industry. The latest examples
are the agreements that were concluded this November by Potanin's SIDANKO
and British Petroleum, with Chubays acting as the middleman, and by Gazprom
and LUKoil with the Anglo-Dutch Shell oil and gas concern.
4) The merger of the oligarchy with the machinery of state progressed
by means of more frequent "flights" by its representatives to the
government and back to the business sphere. After Potanin, Berezovskiy,
Shafranik, and others had served their terms in government offices, they
returned to the business sphere and were replaced by other oligarchs or
their agents.
5) The financial oligarchy gained broader and stronger control of the
news media, both electronic and print. At this time 49 percent of the stock
in ORT is in the hands of LogoVAZ, Gazprom, and a consortium made up of
SBS-Agro, Alfa-Bank, the Menatep Bank, and United Bank; 70 percent of NTV
belongs to Gusinskiy's Most-Media group, and the remaining 30 percent is
controlled by Gazprom; Channel 6 is in the hands of LUKoil and LogoVAZ
(i.e., Berezovskiy, who owns 37 percent of the stock; the rest of the stock
is owned by Luzhkov and a few private individuals). The only state media
are the VGTRK (known as Chubays's channel), the "Culture" channel, and
TV-Center (the latter is ostensibly controlled by the Government of
Moscow). Izvestiya now belongs to LUKoil, and Komsomolskaya Pravda is
controlled by ONEKSIMbank.
6) The criminal nature of Russian capitalism, bribery, and other forms
of corruption of high-level public officials are more pronounced. The
scandal over the huge royalties paid to Chubays and the rest is only one of
many examples of this appalling process. The ruling regime in Russia was
described as a criminal regime during special hearings in the American
Congress in October. In a report published in October, the Washington
Center for Strategic and International Studies, an institution backed by
the CIA and FBI, called the Russian Government a "crime syndicate." The
report says that gangsters have taken charge of around two-thirds of the
Russian economy and that enterprises and banks pay gangsters from 10 to 30
percent of their profits.
In subsequent essays we will describe these changes in greater detail
and discuss each group separately. We will begin with Potanin's group. We
will also be discussing some new groups.


Former Yeltsin Aide Discusses 'Pocket-Sized' Atomic Bombs 

Turin La Stampa in Italian
27 December 1997
[translation for personal use only]
Interview with Aleksey Yablokov, chairman of the Russian Center
for Environmental Policy, by Giulietto Chiesa in Moscow; date not
given: "'I Am Searching for the Pocket-Sized Atomic Bombs'" --
first paragraph is La Stampa introduction

Moscow -- The controversy over pocket- sized atomic bombs shows no
signs of abating. The fate, indeed the very existence, of these bombs is
emphatically denied by all official Russian sources. After the spectacular
revelations made by General Aleksandr Lebed, now it is the turn of an
academic called Aleksey Yablokov, a former presidential aide and currently
chairman of the Russian Center for Environmental Policy; he, too, has
decided to take the field. He has no doubts whatsoever regarding the
existence of these pocket-sized bombs and is extremely concerned over their
fate. I went to his office in the Institute of Biology at the Academy of
Sciences to discuss the subject with him.
[Chiesa] Professor, you have written and publicly declared that the
Soviet Union manufactured several hundred pocket-sized nuclear devices. On
what information are your statements based?
[Yablokov] My informer is a leading scientist, the man who designed
and built those bombs.
[Chiesa] How can it be possible that every Russian ministry denies
their very existence today? The Defense Ministry, the foreign spy service,
the Federal Security Service, the Ministry of Atomic Energy... they all
deny this story.
[Yablokov] It is possible that some people may not know but it is
impossible that no one knows. I asked Gorbachev if he knew anything about
them and he said "no," and Yeltsin knows nothing about them so we have to
deduce that his brief case does not control all the nuclear weapons
currently existing on Russian soil.
[Chiesa] You have provided some very specific data regarding similar
US pocket-sized bombs. The United States has admitted that it had them but
it claims also to have withdrawn them from the divisions to which they were
assigned and to have then destroyed them back in 1992. What has happened
to the 700 or so Russian atomic bombs?
[Yablokov] That is just the point. When negotiations on nuclear
disarmament began the world's two major nuclear powers acknowledged a
situation of parity. So there should have been parity also in this field,
although it is a field about which very little has ever been said. And yet
the documents say that both powers were supposed to eliminate their
pocket-sized atomic bombs "by 1 January 1998." If we believe what the
United States says, it already did so back in 1992 in Amarillo, Texas. 
Where the Russian bombs are concerned, on the other hand, we are told that
they never even existed.
[Chiesa] So why does the United States, which undoubtedly knows that
they do exist, not raise the hue and cry?
[Yablokov] I suspect that the United States is not overly eager to
underscore the fact that the Russian president and Government have no
control over this particular aspect. And that is extremely serious because
no one today has an answer to nuclear terrorism. Evacuating a building or a
station when a terrorist claims to have placed a bomb in it is one thing,
but what do you do when you suddenly get a phone call saying: I have
placed a one-kiloton bomb in downtown New York? What do you do? Do you
evacuate the entire city? It is terrifying to just think of such an
eventuality. I presume that secret negotiations have been held, but I am
not sure that Russia's leaders have the key with which to be able to come
up with an answer. This, especially since Russia's extremist and
nationalist-cum-patriotic movements are full of the very military that
without a shadow of a doubt were involved with those weapons, that trained
with them, and that know how to use them if the need arises.
[Chiesa] What do you know about their technical specifications?
[Yablokov] According to their US parallels known as SADMS (Special
Atomic Demolition Munition), the smallest was called Davy Crockett and
could be fired 4.5 km from a small mortar. It was 65 cm long with a
diameter of 27.5 cm and an explosive power ranging from 0.2 to 1 kiloton
(1,000 tonnes of explosive). But there is also a sort of "nuclear
backpack" called H913 weighing 68 kg overall. It was the size of a large
suitcase, 87 cm by 65 cm by 65 cm, including a timer and a remote trigger. 
According to my information the Russian models were absolutely identical.
[Chiesa] Do you harbor the definite suspicion that these atomic bombs
may have ended up in the hands of "third parties"?
[Yablokov] I know only that back in 1994 Dudayev claimed to have them.
The United States took him seriously and sent two CIA agents to Cechnya. 
For several months the two agents worked under cover but they did not
manage to obtain any definite information and they reported that it was
probably a bluff. Also certain extremist Palestinian forces have
threatened to use these weapons in the nineties. I believe that they, too,
are bluffing, but the worrying aspect is that certain people should even
think of such things. The bombs cost about $5 million, which is not a
price beyond the reach of certain organizations.
[Chiesa] General Valynkin, the chief of the Defense Ministry's 12th
Directorate, said that this type of weapon, "if it existed," would require
a thorough overhaul every four months and that no country could afford such
costs or such risks. What is your answer to that?
[Yablokov] My answer is that the United States and the USSR paid those
costs and ran those risks for 30 years. It may well be that Valynkin does
not know where the Russian atomic backpacks are but there is no guarantee
that other organizations in the Russian, former Soviet, state have not had
or do not have the means to keep those weapons hidden, possibly awaiting
the "right moment." And then there is the worrying fact that in January of
this year it was Russia that put forward a proposal in the United Nations
for a convention against nuclear terrorism. That is a good initiative, but
the country that thought it up must know something.


Chubays 'Does Not Have Long' in Power 

Komsomolskaya Pravda
27 December 1997
[translation for personal use only]
Article by Grigoriy Mkrtchyan under the rubric "The Weather at
the Top": "Christmastime Reading of Parliamentary Tea Leaves.
Following Last Week's (Unjustified) Rumors of Boris Nemtsov's
Possible Dismissal Speculation Has Begun Before Christmas About
Anatoliy Chubays's Coming Dismissal As Well"

He is 42 years old, has higher education, and is a candidate of
economic sciences whose dissertation topic was: "Investigation and
Elaboration of Methods for Planning the Improvement of Management in Sector
Scientific and Technical Organizations." He is married for the second time
and has a son and daughter. His main workplace is the Russian Federation
Government. The latest position he has occupied is that of government first
deputy chairman. He is Anatoliy Borisovich Chubays.
On the one hand, he is a member of the coterie of Russia's most
influential managers, the author of and most active and consistent lobbyist
for the Russian version of privatization, a proponent of the harshest and
most uncompromising methods to get the Russian economy running along
"capitalist" lines, and the best finance minister of 1997 -- in the opinion
of the British economics journal, Euromoney.
On the other hand, he has been dubbed "ruiner of the people," "the
American spy," "the writer," and so on.
The man is a sacrificial figure. He is sacrificed when "votes" are
required and he is returned to power when money is needed. International
credits are taken out on the strength of him and government failures are
covered up by attributing them to him.
Are Chubays's days numbered? How much longer will he hold on to
power? This is a key question that is troubling many. But the answer is
actually contained in the question itself. All you have to do is to divide
it into three parts: "How long. Will he hold on. To power."

How long? 

Six years. To be precise, six years and 40 days with some small
breaks -- since 15 November 1991 Anatoliy Borisovich has held various
government positions. A.B. is probably the "longest- serving" official
among Russia's senior administrators.
So are his days numbered?
Duma Legislation Committee Chairman Anatoliy Lukyanov: "I do not
think we are talking about a year or even six months. We are actually
talking about a period of months."
International "Reform" foundation president Martin Shakkum: "I will
not make a prediction with regard to a specific time frame. But there is
not much doubt that this must happen in 1998."
Andranik Migranyan, political scientist and member of the Russian
Federation President's Public Council: "How long Chubays stays in power
will depend on how serious the present crisis turns out to be. The
president will have to reconfigure the authorities to a certain extent. 
But it seems to me that in the current situation the president is not yet
ready. What is required of him is actually a strategic rather than a
tactical solution."

Should Chubays Hold On? 

Vyacheslav Nikonov of the "Politics" foundation: "I think that
without being able to implement his decisions and without his team, Chubays
will leave of his own accord very soon. It will be very difficult for him
to assemble a new team."
Indeed, what can now keep the once all- powerful first vice premier in
the government? After all, as they say, one man cannot win a war. The
recent confusion over the decision of the Temporary Extraordinary
Commission for Strengthening Tax and Budget Discipline to seize the three
major defaulters' property and the premier's subsequent anger have probably
settled the dispute about whether Chubays is capable of continuing to wield
power and whether he will be allowed to do so. In spite of his recent
claim that his team still exists, I would make so bold as to cast doubt on
this. If it still exists, it is not the first team of excellent
specialists but a second team.
Therefore it might be more accurate to put the question thus: "Will
they keep him there?"
Konstantin Titov, Samara Oblast governor and Federation Council Budget
Committee chairman: "The president will resolve everything. If Chubays is
successful in his work, then all well and good. But if his work is poor,
the president will make a resolute decision."
Martin Shakkum: "What specific motive might there be for giving away
this trump card? It would take a real situation rather than a pretext to
give up Chubays, for example a crash of the financial system, the
impossibility of maintaining the ruble as a convertible currency, a further
major financial collapse, a major crisis in the financial market, a very
serious uncontrolled increase in wage arrears in the budget-funded sector,
and so on."
So does this mean, then, that everything depends on the president? If
we are to believe people in the know -- yes. Especially as such major
personnel decisions in Russia are not made without his approval or
knowledge. The president likes to constantly shuffle his cards and he does
this decisively and on a grand scale....
The last time, this was explained in terms of the necessity to create
a "system of checks and balances."
This system is no longer necessary today. The authorities in Russia
are themselves becoming a self-organizing system. This means that this
system reacts to irregular bureaucratic decisions or official appointments
by "smoothing over" them. From now on it has no need for artificially
constructed "checks." Thus, as there is no anti-Chubays at present, in
this system Anatoliy Chubays does not have long to live. Metaphorically
speaking, of course -- may the Lord forgive me....


Central Asia steps onto world stage
January 5, 1997
By Chris Bird 

ALMATY, Kazakhstan (Reuters) - The Dutch nickname for the clutch of former
Soviet republics in Central Asia is ``verwegistan'' -- ``farawaystan.'' 
But a slew of multi-billion-dollar oil contracts and increased confidence in
dueling with big brother Russia mean the region's dust-blown deserts and wolf-
inhabited steppes are no longer a blank on the investor's map. 
Travel in the five republics -- Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan,
Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan -- still involves a lot of trial and error. It is
almost impossible to get a hotel room in Akmola, Kazakhstan's newly proclaimed
capital on its freezing northern steppe, because they are full of homeless
bureaucrats arriving by train from the old capital Almaty. 
A British Airways jet planning to fly direct from Almaty to London in
ended up stopping in Moscow because the oil-rich country's airport had run out
of fuel. 
The start of real foreign investment, a halt to runaway inflation and
political stability have officials optimistic. 
Kazakhstan appeared as a small blip on the emerging markets radar screen with
a $200 million Eurobond issue last December. By November 1997, when Kazakh
President Nursultan Nazabayev met President Clinton in Washington and signed
two large production sharing deals for oil and gas with two Western
consortiums, risk-hungry investors had their eye on Central Asia. 
``I was in the States with the president and it's clear they know who we are
now. We are their new strategic partner,'' said a senior Kazakh editor on a
pro-government newspaper. Sitting in a sauna in Almaty's Arasan baths, sweat
running over his paunch, he made a proud reference to the big cat that stalks
the Tien Shan mountains above the city. ``We won't be an Asian tiger but an
Asian snow leopard,'' he said. 
Underpinning Central Asian confidence is an apparent end to Russia's
grip on the landlocked region's oil and gas exports. Western oil executives
say the Caspian Sea will rival the North Sea in oil and gas production. 
The independence thrust upon the five states in 1991 was nominal as long as
the Kremlin controlled the flow of crude through Soviet-built pipelines. But a
plan announced by the China National Petroleum Corp in September to build a
pipeline from western Kazakhstan to Xinjiang province in western China will
break Russia's hold on Kazakh crude exports. 
In December, Iranian leader Mohammad Khatami made his first foreign trip as
president to neighboring Turkmenistan to open a gas pipeline between the two
countries, the first pipeline to bypass Russia from the region. 
After independence the republics came under strong pressure from the United
States, a major investor, not to do business with Iran. But pressure from the
oil lobby wanting a short, cheap export route to Asian markets and the desire
of Central Asian governments for real independence saw U.S. sanctions policy
against Iran begin to unravel in 1997. 
The U.S. government, which initially turned a blind eye to the Turkmen-Iran
gas pipeline, has expressed disquiet. Central Asian governments will watch
U.S.-Iranian relations closely after Clinton and Khatami's exchange of
cautious pleasantries in November. 
Few of Central Asia's 60 million people, however, can look forward to
improvements in their poor standard of living. A survey conducted by the
International Red Cross in Kazakhstan showed that more than 70 percent of its
16 million people were living below a government-defined poverty line of $50 a
Discontent is muted in the face of authoritarian government, ranging from
Kazakh official salami tactics with the country's tiny opposition to a
Stalinist-style personality cult in Turkmenistan. It worries not just a
sprinkling of opposition intellectuals but also businessmen wanting greater
transparency in a region renowned for rampant corruption. 
``We have a choice,'' said a senior Kazakh businessman, speaking on condition
of anonymity. ``Either we have an open society or we follow Saudi Arabia where
200 families control all the wealth. Unfortunately the second is more likely
South Korean corporations like Daewoo chose to invest in Central Asian states
like Uzbekistan because of the region's perceived political stability. But
with secular opposition stamped out in Uzbekistan, unrest has begun to
manifest itself in the mosques. 
In December, Uzbek authorities arrested more than 100 people suspected of
being Islamic militants, according to a human rights group, after four
policemen were killed. The government blamed Islamic radicals for the
Islam is a sensitive issue. An end to a four-year civil war in Tajikistan
between the government and Islamic guerrillas was brokered only in June.
Regional leaders, many of them former Communist Party chiefs, have watched
nonplussed at the rise of the purist Islamic Taleban militia in neighboring
A colleague rubbing the Kazakh editor's back in the sauna asked him in a
worried whisper if he should be talking to a foreign reporter. 
``No, no, you can, it's all right,'' he replied, but his anxious expression
showed second thoughts. Central Asian leaders are openly committed to what
they call Asian-style market reforms. But Soviet habits die hard. 


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