This Date's Issues: 2008
to CDI's Home Page I Return
to CDI's Library
Johnson's Russia List
9 January 1998
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Fred Weir in Moscow and Yeltsin and the economy in the
2. Bruce Pannier (RFE/RL): Central Asia: Summit Arouses Quiet
3. AP: Nemtsov Named Russia Man of Year.
4. Vek: CIS: MORE PROBLEMS THAN SUCCESSES. Is the Opinion of
State Duma International Affairs Committee Chairman Vladimir Lukin.
5. Vladimir Shlapentokh: Now that the Russian Inferiority Complex
has Faded, it is Politically Correct in Moscow to Scold the West.
6. RIA Novosti: BORIS YELTSIN HAS "AN ACTIVE REST" AND "MUCH MORE
AND MORE FREQUENTLY THAN USUAL" WATCHES TV NEWS PROGRAMMES, SAYS
7. RIA Novosti: VIKTOR CHERNOMYRDIN THINKS IT EXPEDIENT TO ESTABLISH
A SPECIAL INTERDEPARTMENTAL COMMISSION TO CONTROL ADVERTISING.
8. Stephanie Baker (RFE/RL): Ruble Redenomination Just Getting
9. Jacob Kipp: Richard Davies on Brzezinski's geopolitics.
10. Reuters: Yeltsin working on vacation, premier eyes economy.]
Date: Thu, 08 Jan 1998 15:33:49 -0500
For the Hindustan Times
From: Fred Weir in Moscow
MOSCOW (HT) -- President Boris Yeltsin may shake up his
government and introduce fresh policies next month in an effort
to make Russia's smouldering economy catch fire -- if his health
holds out, analysts say.
"The post-Soviet economic collapse appears to have reached
bottom and we may start to climb out of the hole in the coming
year," says Nikolai Zyubov, an independent analyst.
The independent Interfax agency reported this week that Mr.
Yeltsin, who is vacationing at a country spa until January 19,
intends to unveil his new economic strategy in an address to
parliament in the second half of February.
"Observers do not rule out that, at the same time as summing
up certain results in Russia's transition to the market, certain
innovations in economic policy could be announced," Interfax said
in an analysis.
In a New Year speech, Mr. Yeltsin slammed radical market
reforms for bringing misery to millions of Russians and pledged
to introduce more humane and socially-oriented policies.
He also hinted he might remove some top market reformers
from the government, a clear shot at scandal-plagued First Deputy
Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais.
"Political and economic changes are in the wind, and
Russia's chances for economic recovery depend on what form they
take," says Mr. Zyubov.
Economic statistics released by the Russian government this
week suggest the economy is growing for the first time in almost
Russia's gross domestic product has slumped by 50 per cent
since the collapse of the USSR, plunging the country into one of
the longest and deepest depressions of the 20th century.
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin told a cabinet meeting
Thursday that GDP was up 1.2 per cent in December from the year
before, and that industrial production grew by 3.2 per cent.
Other estimates are less rosy, but still suggest the Russian
economy may be finally starting to pick up. The Kremlin's in-
house economic think tank is predicting a healthy 3.5 per cent
rise in industrial production for the first quarter of this year.
"The most important result of 1997 is that solid
preconditions for economic growth have been created," Mr.
Chernomyrdin said. "The coming year must see a coordinated
offensive on all our problems."
Mr. Chernomyrdin said the government has succeeded in paying
off most of its debts to public sector workers, such as doctors
and teachers, and will take emergency measures this year to
ensure that wage arrears don't explode again.
Much of this may be the usual New Year's pep talk, but
analysts say the latest trends do look hopeful. However, they
caution, it is far too early to declare Russia on the road to
recovery. Even if the most optimistic growth predictions are
realized, Russia's economy will not return to its 1990 level for
more than a decade.
"The social problems in this country are massive and still
growing," says Mr. Zyubov. "The modest economic growth they're
talking about -- even if it's real -- will not bring relief to
the vast majority of Russians anytime soon."
The health of Mr. Yeltsin remains a dark question mark
hanging over all short-term calculations. In Russia's president-
dominated political system, any disappearance of the
commander-in-chief can bring the entire machinery of government
screeching to a halt.
Mr. Yeltsin, who turns 67 next month, has been frail and
easy to tire since undergoing radical heart by-pass surgery just
over a year ago.
He spent much of December recovering from a viral illness in
a Moscow-area sanatorium, and then departed in early January for
a further two week rest.
The Kremlin has never provided truthful information about
the state of Mr. Yeltsin's health, and is handling his current
absence from Moscow in usual style. Mr. Yeltsin's office issues
cheerful daily reports of vigorous presidential activities, such
as ice-fishing and snowmobiling, while absolutely banning any
independent access or verification by journalists.
Analysts say it is a worrisome sign that Mr. Yeltsin's most
important plans for January have been cancelled, including a
state visit to India, a summit meeting of the Commonwealth of
Independent States and a scheduled trip to the war-torn Russian
republic of Chechnya.
Mr. Yeltsin's 18-year old granddaughter, Katya, recently
told the French weekly Paris Match that his December illness was
brought on by overwork.
"He is no longer very young and I see how all that (the
burdens of office) exhausts him," she was quoted as saying.
"The truth is that he works too much and it wears him out."
Central Asia: Summit Arouses Quiet Surprise
By Bruce Pannier
Prague, 8 January 1998 (RFE/RL) -- The presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,
Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan assembled in a remarkable Central
Asian summit Monday and yesterday.
The gathering was notable not so much for its content, which was sketchy
-- at least for public consumption.
The meeting was remarkable for the fact that it happened at all.
Since the five nations won independence in 1991 in the collapse of the
Soviet Union, their leaders always have had substantial matters to discuss.
But rivalries between them, both personal and national, worked to inhibit
That the conference convened in Ashgabat, the Turkmen capital, added an
element of surprise. Turkmenistan's President Saparmurat Niyazov long has
erected barriers to a five-way summit. Confident that his country's wealth
in oil and natural gas will turn the sparsely populated, desert state into
an oasis, Niyazov has stood aloof. United Nations recognition of
Turkmenistan in 1995 as a neutral state supported his determination to avoid
closer ties to his neighbors.
Turkmenistan, like Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, has been frustrated
somewhat in early attempts to export fuels to markets outside the CIS.
However, a deal signed between Kazakhstan and China last year promises to
open a new route for exporting hydrocarbons to the Pacific Rim. And the
opening of the Turkmen-Iranian pipeline just before the end of last year
brings the hope that exports to Europe will soon be possible.
The suddenness of the conference, without an evident urgent need to meet,
was mysterious. The last time the leaders of all five countries, and only
these leaders, gathered together was in December 1991. A reason for urgency
then was clear. The USSR had collapsed and the CIS -- Commonwealth of
Independent States -- formed without any of the leaders of Central Asia's
republics even being asked for their opinion. By contrast, the parties
announced this month's conference only the day before it convened without
even an agreed agenda.
Possible explanations for the fact that all five presidents gathered in
the same building to talk with each other are varied. One is that they felt
a need to forge a common Central Asian front with the next CIS summit
looming. Another is they wanted to discuss the perceived growing threat from
Islamic fundamentalists in their region.
Another, especially interesting, possibility is that this hastily
convened conference was related to a visit by Russian Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin to Uzbekistan in the second half of December, a visit by
Russia's Minister on CIS Affairs Leonid Adamishin to Tajikistan at
approximately the same time, and a visit of Iran's new president and
chairman of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Mohammad Khatami to
Turkmenistan. Chernomyrdin is returning to the area next week for official
visits to Turkmenistan and Tajikistan.
Some of what was said at the summit was old and some new. But recent high
level visits to the area by Russian officials and the Iranian president may
have proved a catalyst to bring the five presidents together. So, it seemed
natural that at the conclusion of this meeting they issued a call for more
Central Asian cooperation between the five.
Uzbekistan would like to export its hydrocarbons and the Kazakh-Chinese
and Turkmen-Iranian pipelines may provide Uzbekistan with an opportunity if
Tashkent can cultivate better relations with its northern and western
neighbors. There was some evidence such cooperation could be forthcoming
when Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan agreed to renew shipments of fuel to
regions in southern Kazakhstan which have been experiencing severe shortages
of energy for several years.
The idea of a Central Asian Union may get a boost also though it appears
that complete, five-country, or even a "three plus two" union remain
distant. Even before the conference, Tajikistan expressed an interest in
joining a Central Asian Union alongside Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and
Uzbekistan. Niyazov's press secretary hinted at interest in the union. He
said that Turkmenistan's neutral status prohibits it from joining such a
union. But then he added these words: "Solutions by the Central Asian union
to the problems of energy transportation and the development of pipelines
could be of interest to Saparmurat Niyazov."
He pointed out that Turkmenistan already cooperates with the other four
states through organizations such as the Economic Cooperation Organization
(of which Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Afghanistan are also
members) and the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
The problem of narcotics in the region also got attention. Uzbek
President Islam Karimov, backed by Kyrgyzstan's President Askar Akayev,
called on Turkmenistan to police its borders better. The five countries
represented at the conference are becoming as internationally well known for
their drug trade as for their mineral wealth. A united effort would seem at
this point to be essential and perhaps even then, no more than a band-aid on
a gaping wound.
The states' relationship within the framework of the CIS was discussed
but a statement issued after the conference differed little from earlier
statements concerning the CIS.
For the five Central Asian states to convene a summit was an unexpected
start for 1998. Little of what transpired behind closed doors has been made
public. What seems evident is that the five countries finally are joining
efforts rather than working at cross purposes. Such cooperation would
facilitate exporting the region's mineral wealth abroad. It might even
influence events in Afghanistan and reestablish Central Asia as the
crossroads of east-west trade.
Nemtsov Named Russia Man of Year
January 8, 1998
MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia's ``Man of the Year'' was the young star of
President Boris Yeltsin's economic reform team, Deputy Prime Minister Boris
Nemtsov, according to a poll released Thursday.
Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov was a close runner-up and Yeltsin finished
third in the annual poll by the Public Opinion Foundation.
Asked to pick the politician of the year for 1997, 18 percent of those
queried picked Nemtsov, followed by Luzhkov at 16 percent and Yeltsin at 12
Also-rans included Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin, Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais and retired
general -- and active presidential candidate -- Alexander Lebed.
Nemtsov began 1997 as governor of Nizhny Novgorod, considered to be among
Russia's most economically progressive regions. He was then lured to Moscow
to help lead Yeltsin's economic reform team, and has been at the forefront
of efforts to privatize the economy and trim government excesses.
Nemtsov has insisted that he does not intend to run for president in
2000, but that has not stopped speculation that he might succeed Yeltsin.
Pop singer Alla Pugachova led a separate list of the leading Russian
scientific and cultural figures of the year.
The pollsters interviewed 1,500 people nationwide. The poll did not list
a margin of error, but such polls typically have a margin of error of around
3 percentage points.
>From RIA Novosti
Vek, No. 49
CIS: MORE PROBLEMS THAN SUCCESSES
Is the Opinion of State Duma International Affairs
Committee Chairman Vladimir Lukin
By Yuri KONSTANTINOV
Ever since the demise of the USSR, i.e. 26 December 1991,
relations with its partners in the CIS, or Commonwealth of
Independent States, has been a priority direction in Moscow's
foreign policy. Moreover, the Russian diplomacy has had to
sacrifice some points.
Duma international affairs committee chairman Vladimir
Lukin holds that the CIS will remain a priority. Moreover, he
discerns achievements. One is Tajikistan where peace-making
activities were successful, all difficulties notwithstanding.
If the effort continues, the Tajik crisis can be overcome.
Moscow has managed to somewhat ameliorate psychological
and political tensions in relations with Kiev. A treaty has
been signed with Ukraine. Controversial and vague it may be
but it has helped. The same goes for the accord on the
division of the Black Sea fleet.
"I do not say that our relations with Kiev have become
cardinally better or that the Ukrainian leadership have
amended their vision of Russia. We are in for strategic
difficulties, especially in connection with NATO's enlargement
to the East. But our huge and realistic potentialities of
exerting constructive influence on Kiev are often not used",
CIS-wise, the positive results of our foreign policy over
the past year have been meagre, the majority of basic problems
linger, in particular Nagorny Karabakh, Transdniestria and
Abkhazia, an acute crisis which affects Russia's stance in
Transcaucasia. The CIS is not Latin America, Russia's daily
presence is a must here.
Another flop is Russia's interrelationship with Belarus.
The treaty of the union notwithstanding, there is little
practical progress, especially where the effort to coordinate
the activities of the various departments is concerned. This
circumstance compromises the treaty. Another serious hitch is
the Belorussian leadership's self-isolation because of the
systematic violations of the basic human rights and freedoms
which are respected in Russia which is not without a sin.
The committee chairman is not happy about Russia's
relations with the Baltic states. With the pleasant exception
of Lithuania with which we have established good working
relations and the difficulties are technical, we cannot
convince either Europe or the Baltija leaders that Latvia and
Estonia have to tackle certain domestic problems, in
particular the status of Russian speakers. Especially in
Latvia, Lukin points out.
In effect, he calls for Moscow's "certain" steps
vis-a-vis Riga to demonstrate Russia's arsenal of ways and
means of attaining what it wants.
One success in Europe is that Russia has managed to
alleviate tensions around NATO's enlargement to the East,
Lukin believes. He regrets that Russia has failed to establish
better working relations with Eastern Europe.
"One important achievement is our relationship with the
countries of Asia and the Pacific where a strategic
breakthrough has been attained following the signing and
enacting of the border demarcation accord with China," Lukin
He discerns better relations with Japan, albeit practical
achievements have been modest.
The retired diplomat notes the Russian diplomacy's
successful steps in the Middle East, especially in Iraq in the
course of the latest crisis. Nobody - Europe, the US or Russia
- has sufficient capacities to keep the peace process going in
the region, but progress is possible if all sides pool their
This is especially true of Russia and Europe, in Lukin's
opinion. Joint moves in the field of power engineering in Iran
provide a graphic example.
Lukin is sufficiently optimistic about the prospects of
the START-2 treaty's ratification by the Duma. He hopes the US
Senate will endorse the document, but discerns "no great
willingness on the part of our American colleagues."
Summarising the results of Russia's foreign policies in
1997, Lukin pointed out to "highly controversial" trends. I
hope Russia's external policies are less ideologised, he said.
"We used to live in the clouds and today we are treading
dirt roads and the going is not easy," the committee chairman
Date: Thu, 08 Jan 1998
From: Vladimir Shlapentokh <email@example.com> (
Now that the Russian Inferiority Complex has Faded, it is Politically
Correct in Moscow to Scold the West
By Vladimir Shlapentokh (Michigan State University)
From the 18th century up until 1989-1991, the Russian elite held an
exceedingly complex and often contradictory standpoint toward the West.
Russian elites have always perceived the West as hostile toward their
motherland. For this, among other reasons, they fostered the xenophobic
mood of the masses.
At the same time, the elite considered Russia as part of Western
civilization. Despite public harangues about Russian exceptionalism and
Russia's superiority over the West (because of its Orthodoxian religion, or
Communist ideology), Russian elites have always had an inferiority complex
in relation to Western countries. Since the beginning of the Russian state,
the elite dreamed of reaching a level of equality with the ruling classes in
France, England and America, countries which served, at different times, as
models for Russia.
Never has the Eurasian ideology, with its focus on the Asian roots of
Russia, played a serious role for the intellectual and political elite. The
recent attempts of Moscow to countervail the influence of the West by
creating an alliance with Asian countries can not be considered promising
for Russia. The leading civilizations in Asia (Islamic, Sinic, Hindu,
Buddhist and Japanese, to use Samuel Huntington's typology) remain deeply
alien to the Russian people at all levels of society.
After the fall of the Soviet system, Russian liberals (in 1991-1994) such
as Egor Gaidar, Anatolii Chubais and Anatolii Sobchak set the ideological
tone in society and offered a new perception of the West for the Russian
public. While endorsing the liberal capitalist model as the single
blueprint for a new Russian society, they invited their compatriots to
abandon the myth of Western hostility. Liberals delineated the West and
particularly the United States as a friend willing to help Russia join the
high political and economic ranks of the most developed countries in the
world. They also called on Russian intellectuals as well as ordinary people
to abandon the dangerous illusions concerning Russian moral and cultural
supremacy. In exchange, liberals promised that, in the coming years, Russia
would become a "normal", Western type, country and the people would soon be
released from their eternal inferiority complex in relation to the West.
In 1996-1997, due to the evident failure of Russia's transition to liberal
capitalism, the attitudes of the Russian elite toward the West began to
change. Russian society needed an explanation for why their country failed
once again to reach the Western standards of economic prosperity. Again,
Russians were forced to come to terms with their countries technological
underdevelopment. "Catching up" with the West has been the preoccupation of
Russia throughout much of its history, i.e., the famous liberal reforms of
prerevolutionary Russia in the 1860s; the socialist project initiated by the
October Revolution in 1917; and Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika in 1985-1991.
In searching for an acceptable explanation for Russia's failures, many
liberals broke away from "old liberals" and offered a "new" ideology. Since
1996, "new liberals" have been among the most influential politicians in the
Kremlin. "New liberals" now operate with an ideology which borrows many
elements from the doctrines of Communism and nationalism, the most ardent
adversaries of liberal reforms in Russia. The first deputy of the premier
minister, Boris Nemtsov (with the approbation of President Boris Yeltsin)
became the major advocate of the "new liberal" credo which gained in status
as the official ideology.
"New liberals" still accept the principles of the market economy. However,
they reject the "old liberal" belief that Russia must follow the Western
model of liberal capitalism. "New liberals" joined moderate nationalists
(General Alexander Lebed) and radical nationalists (Gennadii Ziuganov) in
support of the "statist ideology". They consider the market insufficient
for effective regulation of all spheres of economic and social life. The
new liberal ideology has begun to praise the strong Russian state as a force
capable of creating progress in society. Speaking on the eve of the New
Year, Boris Yeltsin declared the quintessence of the new official ideology
when he said, "the country's continuing problems have been caused by the
blind embrace of the Western-style capitalist ideology and the disregard for
traditional social values".
Leading politicians and intellectuals no longer use Gaidar's "universalist"
language, nor do they expect the Russian economy and political system to
closely emulate the West. "New liberals" now side with Russian
exceptionalism. They even go so far as to speak along the lines of extreme
nationalists about the new missionary role of post Communist Russia. In the
November, 1997, issue of Moskovskie Novosti (the former mouthpiece for the
"old liberals") it was suggested that only Russia can provide the
intellectually bankrupt West with the new ideas necessary for saving the
world from collapse.
"New liberals" have "rehabilitated" the concept of patriotism, a term which
Communists and nationalists monopolized up until 1995-1996. In contrast to
the Gaidar brand of liberals, "new liberals" are respectfully interested in
Russian and Soviet history. A December, 1997, issue of Nezavisimaia Gazeta
highlighted the KGB on its 80th anniversary as a glorious organization.
Having rejected the West as the paragon for a new Russia, "new liberals"
now follow their nationalist and Communist allies in their hostility toward
"New liberals", with Evgenii Primakov as their foreign minister, now see
the West not as an ally (as "old liberals" did when Andrei Kozyrev was
minister of foreign affairs), but as a rival.
Still, however, "new liberals" are milder toward the West than moderate
nationalists who treat the West as an enemy, or radical nationalists who
consider the West a conspirator responsible for the collapse of the Soviet
Union and the disintegrative tendencies of the Russian federation.
While "old liberals" have been silenced, especially on foreign issues,
unfriendly attitudes toward the West have surged and now are a fixture of
Russian public life.
A content analysis of the Russian media in 1996-1997 demonstrated that (in
80 percent of the 106 randomly selected newspaper articles which mentioned
foreign countries) the authors evaluated the attitudes of the West toward
Russia as "hostile". In their opinion, West Europe, particularly Germany,
is no less inimical toward Russia than the United States.
Russian "new liberals" use the West as a scapegoat for Russian economic
problems. They believe Western countries, especially the United States, are
afraid of Russian economic prosperity and competition. "New liberals"
de-emphasize the various forms of Western material assistance, and claim
that Western financial aid fell far short of what was necessary for Russian
economic "take off". They upbraid Europe and America for the creation of
various artificial hindrances for Russian exports to the West and to other
countries, Iran and India among others. "New liberals" are also irritated by
Western support for Ukrainian sovereignty as well as with the active Western
economic relationships with other former Soviet republics, particularly
activities in the immensely oil rich area around the Caspian sea.
Much of the Russian media, in 1997, turned out to be advocates of the new
vision of the West. The influential newspaper, Nezavisimaia Gazeta, is a
leading champion of "new liberalism" along with the most popular periodical,
Moskovskii Komsomolets. Only a few publications with relatively low
circulations, such as Literaturnaia Gazeta, continue to conduct a desperate
defense of "old liberal" views.
What is more, most, if not all active politicians, even those who enjoyed
unblemished reputations as staunch democrats, now deem it necessary to
exhibit a critical attitude toward the West.
In a December, 1997, issue of Moskovskie Novosti, the editors introduced an
article by Galina Starovoitova (a consistent democrat) and former dissident
Yurii Orlov (now a professor at Cornell University) with the following
statement: "At the end of the cold war the atmosphere of optimism and
animated trust in the West reigned in Russia. People even joked that it
would be a good deal for Russia to exchange Gorbachev for Reagan. Today,
such jokes are no longer heard." The authors themselves describe the mood
of Russians in the wake of Western economic policy toward Russia and the
expansion of NATO to the East as "perplexed, confused, deceived and
consequently humiliated; Russians feel discriminated against, a familiar
perception of Jews and Blacks".
Now, as it was in the past, one of the best methods of denouncing one's
political enemy is to accuse him or her of cooperating with Western
governments. At the end of 1997, a major political development in Russia
surfaced when allegations were brought against Anatolii Chubais. Liberals,
such as Alexander Lifshits accused Chubais of secretly cooperating with
The "new" attitudes of the Russian elite toward the West does not
incorporate an inferiority complex, a contrast to the prerevolutionary and
post revolutionary past. Only ten years ago, a Russian official or
intellectual looked at his or her colleagues in the West with the highest
degree of envy, mostly due to material reasons. This is now longer the
case. A post Communist bureaucrat, successful business person or a leading
journalist often earns (legally or illegally) more than his or her Western
counterpart. Their homes, cars, clothes and the quality of their vacations
could arouse the jealousy of many Westerners who consider themselves wealthy.
"New liberals" are now looking for the shortcomings of the Western way of
life in order to justify their new ideological position toward the West.
They concluded that all the flaws of contemporary Russia, particularly the
high level of corruption and criminality, the blatant violations of
democratic principles, and the venality of the media, are at the same, if
not higher levels in America and other Western countries. It has now become
fashionable to speak contemptuously about the American style of life and
American culture, reminding one of the articles prepared by hack Soviet
propagandists before 1985.
However, thus far, the new attitudes toward the West in Moscow do not
portend a major change in Russia's "real politics".
Moscow politicians are well aware that the survival of Russia, as well as
their own well being, depends on a good relationship with the West. While
describing themselves as deeply disappointed with Western assistance, "new
liberals" and their allies are also well aware that without the loans from
international financial organizations, the Russian government simply could
not repay their enormous debts to millions of state employees by the end of
1997, a deed which the Kremlin proclaimed as its highest achievement of the
For this reason, in the near future, it will be reasonable to compare the
Russian stance toward the West with De Gaulle's position toward America in
the 1960s: a critical stance on the surface, but essentially an ally.
However, the revival of anti Western sentiments among Russian politicians
and intellectuals should not be perceived as an innocent pursuit of those
looking for psychological medicines to alleviate the pain of their injured
national pride. Certainly it is normal for Russian politicians to evaluate
the source of their problems, correct their economic policy and adjust to
Russian reality. It is equally reasonable for the country to become
critical of the excessive "universalism", romanticism and naivete of "old
liberals". However, holding the West responsible for Russia's faults and
failures is another story, a dangerous conviction which should not go
overlooked by the West. The fomenting of anti Western sentiments, both
direct and indirect, has serious implications.
The encouragement of nationalist proclivities only increases the chances
for aggressive nationalists to take power.
In such a case, they would ignore the long term interests of Russia and
base their politics, international and domestic, on acerbic xenophobia and
the revival of the "little cold war".
Various data suggest that xenophobia is strong, even if now it seems mostly
dormant, in the minds of the Russian masses. A Russian survey, conducted by
the Fund of Public Opinion in October, 1997, asked Russians about their
attitudes toward Russian Nazis: "What is your attitude toward
national-socialist organizations existing in our country?" (for instance, A.
Barkashov's, "Russian National Unity"). Only 47 percent accepted the
alternative, "unconditionally negative". Indeed, it is a great
disappointment that most educated Russians so easily and uncritically
incorporated cheap anti Western arguments. Western politicians should take
the new psychological trend in Moscow seriously, even if today its impact on
Russian foreign policy looks rather minimal.
BORIS YELTSIN HAS "AN ACTIVE REST" AND "MUCH MORE AND
MORE FREQUENTLY THAN USUAL" WATCHES TV NEWS PROGRAMMES,
SAYS SERGEI YASTRZHEMBSKY
MOSCOW, JANUARY 8, (FROM RIA NOVOSTI CORRESPONDENT MARIANNA
SHATIKHINA) -- Boris Yeltsin, who is vacationing in the Valdai
Hills, "much more and more frequently than usual" watches TV
news programmes and looks through the press, presidential press
secretary Sergei Yastrzhembsky told the RIA Novosti
correspondent today. According to him, on working days the head
of state manages to "read attentively just separate articles,
leafing through the rest of them, as a rule". Apart from that,
the president is paying more attention to books. He is
vacationing together with his wife, Naina Iosifovna. "No one
else of the Yeltsin has come to have a rest in the Valdai
Hills", said the press secretary.
Yastrzhembsky noted that Boris Yeltsin is having an active
rest. The day begins with physical exercises, and after the
lunch and two-hour work with documents he goes for a walk or
fishing. After the dinner and a nap, said the press secretary,
"he works with documents for another two hours" and then goes
either to a sauna or a swimming pool. In the evening he watches
either a Russian or foreign film.
Judging by the intensive schedule, noted the press
secretary, the president feels well.
VIKTOR CHERNOMYRDIN THINKS IT EXPEDIENT TO ESTABLISH
A SPECIAL INTERDEPARTMENTAL COMMISSION TO CONTROL
MOSCOW, JANUARY 8, (FROM RIA NOVOSTI CORRESPONDENT REGINA
LUKASHINA) -- Chairman of the Russian government Viktor
Chernomyrdin thinks it expedient to establish a special
interdepartmental commission to control advertising. It should
include representatives of the mass media, interior and health
ministries and the state anti-trust committee. In the course of
the commission's work, in the opinion of the premiere, there
should be formed "responsibility for the quality, quantity,
distribution in time and content of advertisements". Viktor
Chernomyrdin told this today's meeting of the Russian Cabinet of
Minsters, which examined the question of stronger state control
over advertising. He called this question "very serious for the
development of Russian society".
According to head of the state anti-trust committee Natalya
Fonareva, who made the main report, the advertising companies'
turnover in Russia in 1997 totalled about 2 billion dollars. The
number of violations of the current legislation on advertising
is constantly growing. There are cases of advertising
commodities that have not been approved by the health ministry,
but have been just registered with it. Very often the formula
"the commodity is commodity No 1 in the world" is at variance
with existing ratings, said Natalya Zvonareva. The number of
misapplication use of children's images in advertising,
particularly when advertising household chemicals, is growing,
while the use of children's images is justified only in respect
of children's goods.
In the opinion of the participants in the meeting, the
state's task is to ensure the provision of the population with
trustworthy and objective information about various commodities.
In the opinion of first vice premier Boris Nemtsov, domestic
advertisers' broader participation in advertising in electronic
media may be ensured by making changes in taxation. At present,
foreign companies include an unlimited amount of funds for the
use of advertisement in the cost of goods, whereas under Russian
legislation the said article in the cost of goods is limited to
5%. Besides, believes the vice premier, time restrictions on
some advertising subjects on TV may increase the share of the
advertising of domestic commodities in electronic media.
Russia: Ruble Redenomination Just Getting Started
By Stephanie Baker
Moscow, 8 January 1998(RFE/RL) -- Yelena, a cashier at a small grocery store
in Moscow, was prepared but surprised all the same.
"It's a new ruble note?" she asked an older woman trying to buy a loaf of
bread. "How much is a 100 ruble note worth?" she shouted to a colleague,
examining the crisp new bill with care.
The transaction took longer than usual, prompting the cashier to make a
rare apology to the customer next in line. "I just wanted to make sure no
one was trying to cheat me," she said.
One week after Russia's Central Bank launched its much lauded
redenomination of the ruble, lopping three zeroes off old ruble notes, few
people have actually seen the new bills. While Russian politicians and media
have already pronounced redenomination a success, it is clear the process is
Under the reform, 1,000 old rubles are now worth one new ruble, but the
new bills will be introduced only gradually during 1998. Old notes will
operate side-by-side with new notes until January 1, 1999, when old rubles
will no longer be accepted as bills of exchange except at authorized banks.
With few new rubles currently in circulation, there have not been many
opportunities for fraud and confusion. But as the Central Bank begins to
introduce more new bills over the next few months, redenomination could hit
The government announced the decision to redenominate the ruble last
fall, after pronouncing the era of runaway inflation dead. Indeed, Russia
posted a record low inflation rate of 11 percent in 1997, well below the 12
to 14 percent that had been forecast and half the 1996 rate of 21 percent.
Russian authorities have been at pains to reassure a wary public that
redenomination would be different from previous currency reforms. During
monetary reforms in 1991 and 1993, most Russians lost their life savings due
to widespread confusion and lack of information.
So far, the Russian government has showed it has learned from its past
mistakes. The Central Bank has operated a hotline to respond to queries
about redenomination ever since November. And state-controlled Sberbank has
run aggressive television advertisements educating the public about the
Given past bungled reforms, the lack of panic alone has made the currency
reform a relative success. But the real challenges of redenomination lay ahead.
Shops are now required to list prices in both old and new rubles to limit
confusion and prevent shops from rounding up prices - a major concern for
Russians during these difficult economic times. But many shops are not
obeying the rule.
At the same time, many believe that shops will stop accepting old 100 and
500 ruble notes and small ruble coins in the coming months, which could
undermine confidence in the reforms.
Kopecks have been brought back to replace smaller denominated notes that
pad most Russians wallets but are worth very little. Banks ordering new
money from the Central Bank will get 2 percent of the amount in coins, in an
effort to force them to get accustomed to working with kopecks again. The
government hopes the reintroduction of the kopeck will help save money, as
coins have a longer life-span than bills.
While a mood of calm currently prevails, uncertainty over redenomination,
along with concerns about the stability of the ruble, led to a dramatic
increase in the amount of hard-currency purchases late last year. That trend
appears to be continuing as Russians get a feel for the new system.
One taxi driver asked for payment in dollars, saying he was concerned
about redenomination. As he put it: "I just don't have any faith in the
Date: Thu, 08 Jan 1998
From: "Kipp, Jacob KIPPJ" <KIPPJ@LEAV-EMH1.ARMY.MIL>
Subject: Richard Davies on Brzezinski's geopolitics [Distributed to
JRL List Two]
This was an excellent piece and it deserves broad circulation.
Geopolitics used to justify a new division of the world and the
dismemberment of the Russian state are dangerous grounds upon which to
try to sell NATO enlargement. One is tempted to see Brzezinski's
article as a provocation.- That is is exactly its impact in Moscow
where even moderate Russian comentators have interpreted Znigniew
Brzezinski's forecast of an Atlantic West that extends to the Don, a
Rusisan confederation of Russian, Siberian and Far Eastern Republics
and Greater China that includes much of Central Asia, Mongolia, and the
Amur Valley as a call to arms. Brzezinski's "geopolitics" has become a
hot topic in Moscow and is being used by its "conservative
revolutionaries of the third path" [their term] to justify inevitable
conflict between Russian and United States or Eurasia vs. the maritime
world. "Zavtra" brought out its big "geolpoltical gun," Aleksandr Dugin
to comment on Brzezinki. One wishes that Brzezinski and Dugin had read
Paul Kennedy's brilliant essay on Mahan vs MacKinder to incorporate
some historical perspective into the development of such theories.
Instead, both threat geopolitics as an applied science for state craft.
in both cases their are ideological assumptions of questionable merit as
Davies has pointed out. In the Rusisan case geopolitics had a very
benign content in Russian discussions of foriegn policy in the early
1990s: it meant no more than a national, as opposed to international,
perspect and accepted the idea of a foreign and security policy shaped
by national interests. In its current form it is an ideology that is
anti-Western, anti-democratic, revanchist, and militarist. By giving
credit to the geopolitical theories of those associated with the Third
Reich, Brzezinski has also given credence to those who would use the
same arguments to overturn the current international system. I have
included a few remarks from a recent "hot" book on this topic from
Moscow to give your readers some sense of the role of geopolitics in
national-communist discourse in contemporary Russia.
The Metamorphesis of Geopolitics in Russia, 1990-1997
A unifying theme that connects all these ideas is a new
attention to geopolitics, and a wide and diverse interpretation of what
geopolitics means for Russian defense and security policy. In its most
benign form geopolitics represents simply a pragmatic escape from the
ideological assumptions of Marxism-Leninism and a search for a security
policy that takes into account Russian vital interests in the various
regional security systems in which Russia must operate. Rear Admiral V.
N. Pirumov, Chair of the Section on Geopolitics and Security of the
Russian Academy oif Natural Sciences, provided such a benign definition
of geopolitics as "a science concerned with socio-economic and political
processes in their inter-relations, and with the systemic influence of
the natural environment on state power." The key word was systemic with
its implication for a systems analysis approach to the study of complex
systems. In its ominous form geopolitics represents nothing less than
a revanchist ideology, anti-Western and imperial in form and content.
Whichever position comes to dominate Russian security policy, it will
address the Revolution in Military Affairs and seek to modernize Russian
forces in a manner in keeping with its threat perceptions, political
objectives and ideological assumptions. Perhaps the most important
recent work is this regard is Aleksandr Dugin's "Foundations of
Geopolitics: The Geopolitical Future of Russia." In this work Dugin
provides an ideological-geopolitical basis for an on-going conflict
between Atlanticism and globalism [mondializm] and Russian Eurasianism.
In this interpretation a conflict between the United States, as a
thalassocracy, and Russia, as a telluocracy, is inevitable. Dugin, a
self-styled "conservative revolutionary," rejects both liberal democracy
and communism in favor of a third path. Russia's current reformers are
no more than "agents of Western influence." Dugin's geopolitics call for
the creation of a sweeping Eurasian alliance from the Magreb to the Far
East to recast the balance of power against globalism. In military
terms this third path rejects the current proposals for military reform
in Russia because they would transform the armed forces into those of a
regional power. Instead, Dugin proposes to create an army of empire.
These forces would emphasis high technology and global systems to
contest with the United States. Thus, nuclear weapons, strategic
defense, space assets, naval, missile, and strategic aviation forces get
top priority. Ground forces are treated as internal forces and only
airborne forces are given serious attention. While some points in this
military program sound very much like those of Russia's current
reformers, the context of a renewed global military competition is
quite different. For Dugin geopolitics defines the constant for Russian
foreign and defense policy, and for its military doctrine the core
reality is that "the main +potential enemy' is namely the Atlantic
Yeltsin working on vacation, premier eyes economy
By Gareth Jones
MOSCOW, Jan 8 (Reuters) - Russian President Boris Yeltsin is dividing his
winter vacation between work and rest but will avoid meetings with his aides
this week, Kremlin spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky said on Thursday.
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, meanwhile, vowed to keep Russia's
tentative economic recovery on track and said his government would report to
Yeltsin on its 1997 performance on February 26.
Chernomyrdin, a veteran Yeltsin loyalist, also slapped down his interior
minister, Anatoly Kulikov, over hawkish comments he made about Russia's
breakaway region of Chechnya.
Yeltsin, who will be 67 on February 1, recently spent two weeks in a
sanatorium recovering from a heavy cold and a viral infection. He left
Moscow last Saturday, a day earlier than scheduled.
Yastrzhembsky told Reuters that Yeltsin was working several hours a day,
going for walks, fishing and watching television during his two-week holiday
in the Valdai lakeland of northwestern <strong>Russia</strong>.
``The president starts his morning with exercises and after breakfast
works on documents for not less than two hours. Around 11 o'clock he goes
for a walk or travels by snowmobile to a lake to fish,'' Yastrzhembsky said,
adding that the fishing had been fairly successful.
Yeltsin returns to his documents after lunch. He is reading magazines and
watching television much more than usual, Yastrzhembsky added.
``After supper, as a rule, the president devotes part of his time to
watching Russian and foreign video films,'' he said.
``There had never been any suggestion that the president would meet any
officials during his holiday,'' Yastrzhembsky, who was speaking by telephone
from the Kremlin said.
He added that there might be meetings at Valdai next week since some
officials had said they were keen to see Yeltsin. Yastrzhembsky said he
spoke to Yeltsin personally on Thursday by telephone.
Concern about Yeltsin's health resurfaced this week after news that a
planned trip to India on January 18 and 19 had been postponed and a Russian
media report that, contrary to usual practice, he would not meet any
officials while on holiday.
On Thursday a Kremlin spokeswoman reiterated that the president was
feeling well. Yeltsin's press service said his trip to Italy in the first
half of February was still on.
Apart from two recorded televised addresses -- one for New Year and the
other for Orthodox Christmas, broadcast on Tuesday evening -- he has not
been seen in public since late December.
Interfax news agency said Yeltsin would deliver his annual
state-of-the-nation address in the second half of February and that it could
contain ``certain innovations'' in economic policy.
It gave no details and the presidential press service was unable to
confirm the report.
Yeltsin recently told ministers to offer ``breakthrough ideas'' to
stimulate the economy.
On Thursday Chernomyrdin told a cabinet meeting that Russia should work
to meet official economic growth forecasts of two percent in 1998, Interfax
According to preliminary figures, officials said Russia's gross domestic
product (GDP) grew 0.4 per cent in 1997, its first rise since 1989 when it
was part of the Soviet Union.
GDP is the broadest measure of a country's economic health.
Chernomyrdin said his government would have to do a better job of
collecting taxes than in 1997, when by some accounts it brought in just over
half of its plan.
The premier had sharp words for interior minister Kulikov, who said
earlier this week that Russia might take military action against ``bandits''
whom he accused of conducting raids out of Chechnya onto Russian targets in
``Members of the government should not be swayed by fantasies,''
Chernomyrdin said in televised comments, adding that ministers should keep
their private views to themselves.
Chernomyrdin, who did not refer to Kulikov by name, said that Russia
wanted dialogue and cooperation with Chechnya.
On Wednesday Chechnya's separatist leaders said any ``preventive
strikes'' against their tiny Caucasus territory would lead to a renewal of
the 1994-96 war with Moscow in which tens of thousands of people were killed.