This Date's Issues: 2056 •2057
Johnson's Russia ListReturn
to CDI's Home Page I Return
to CDI's Library
11 February 1998
[Note from David Johnson:
1. VOA: Frank Ronalds, The Health Crisis in Russia.
2. Renfrey Clarke in Moscow, #RUSSIAN WORKERS REFUTE MYTH OF
3. Pratap Chatterjee: query for russia list.
4. Theodore Karasik: Armenia and Internal Affairs.
5. Reuters: Russia steps up rhetoric, diplomacy on Iraq.
6. Journal of Commerce: Michael Lelyveld, Russia puts a halt to
flow of Caspian Sea oil to Black Sea.
7. The Electronic Telegraph: Alan Philps, Kremlin blamed over plot
to kill Shevardnadze.
8. The Times (UK): Richard Owen, When in Rome Yeltsin is, as usual,
9. Financial Times (UK): Chrystia Freeland, Kremlin seeks speedy
deal on tax code.
10. Moscow Times: Robert Coalson, THE WORD'S WORTH: Tips on a Fading
Art: Russian Letter-Writing.
11. Komsomolskaya Pravda: Yevgeniy Anisimov, "Will Chernomyrdin
Become President of Russia? Yeltsin Has Not Yet Named His Successor.
But We Will Have a Guess."
12. CNN: Someone's swiping dinosaur parts from Russian institute.
An inside job by the 'bone mafia'?
13. Reuters: CIS 1997 grain output leapt from 1996, sugar fell.
14. Harry Richlin: New Orbis.]
Voice of America
TITLE=THE HEALTH CRISIS IN RUSSIA
INTRO: RUSSIA'S DEFENSE MINISTRY HAS REPORTED THAT ONE OUT OF
THREE POTENTIAL MILITARY CONSCRIPTS ARE TURNED DOWN FOR HEALTH
REASONS -- AND OF THOSE RECRUITED, 25 PERCENT NEED SPECIAL DIETS
TO GAIN THEIR NORMAL WEIGHT. PRESIDENT BORIS YELTSIN HAS CALLED
THE COUNTRY'S HEALTH PROBLEMS RUSSIA'S MOST SERIOUS NATIONAL
SECURITY CRISIS. AS V-O-A'S FRANK RONALDS REPORTS, THIS HEALTH
CRISIS GOES FAR BEYOND THE CONCERNS OF THE MILITARY.
TEXT: DR. MURRAY FESHBACH, A SPECIALIST ON DEMOGRAPHIC AND
HEALTH ISSUES IN RUSSIA AT GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY'S CENTER FOR
POPULATION RESEARCH, SAYS THE FIGURES RELEASED BY THE DEFENSE
MINISTRY WERE NEW TO HIM, BUT DID NOT COME AS A SURPRISE.
// 1ST FESHBACH ACT //
I'M NOT SURPRISED THAT ONE THIRD ARE REJECTED FOR
HEALTH REASONS AND THE ISSUE OF NUTRITION LEVELS
REINFORCES OTHER INFORMATION I HAVE. FOR THE MILITARY,
I AM OF COURSE ALERT TO THE ISSUE OF WHETHER IT WILL BE
GROWING, WHICH I EXPECT IT WILL BE, GIVEN DEVELOPMENTS
IN THE ZERO TO 14 AGE POPULATION, THE VERY YOUNG, THAT
THIS ONE THIRD RATE WILL IN FACT GROW TO A HIGHER LEVEL.
THIS MAY BE AN UNDERLYING REASON FOR CUTTING BACK THE
SIZE OF THE ARMED FORCES.
// END ACT //
THE HEALTH CRISIS IN RUSSIA HAS AFFECTED PEOPLE AT ALL AGES, AND
HAS BROUGHT THE AVERAGE LIFE EXPECTANCY FOR MALES DOWN IN RECENT
YEARS FROM 65 TO 57. BUT MR. FESHBACH SAYS THE SITUATION AMONG
THE VERY YOUNG IS PARTICULARLY ALARMING.
// 2ND FESHBACH ACT //
AMONG THE MAIN ISSUES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE IS THE ISSUE OF
THE ENORMOUS EXPANSION OF HARD DRUG ABUSE. WHAT GOES
ALONG WITH THAT IS THE ISSUE OF SEXUAL PROMISCUITY AND
THE POTENTIAL THEREFORE FOR THE GROWTH OF H-I-V/AIDS
AMONG THE POPULATION. THIS IS GENERALLY EXPLODING RIGHT
NOW. THERE'S A SPECTACULAR INCREASE IN SUICIDES. IN
THE LAST FIVE YEARS, FOR ALL MALES, 15 TO 60, IT HAS
INCREASED BY 50 PERCENT; 20 TO 24 YEAR-OLDS, WHICH IS
VERY CLOSE TO THE DRAFT AGE, IT HAS INCREASED BY 103
// END ACT //
DEATH RATES FROM CANCER AND HEART PROBLEMS ARE HIGH, BUT NOT
EXPECTED TO INCREASE SIGNIFICANTLY IN THE FUTURE. BUT DR.
FESHBACH SAYS THE SPREAD OF INFECTIOUS AND PARASITICAL DISEASES
IS ALARMING. FOR EXAMPLE, ACCORDING TO OFFICIAL STATISTICS, MORE
THAN TWO MILLION PEOPLE HAVE TUBERCULOSIS, AND THE INCREASE PER
YEAR IS 85-THOUSAND CASES.
// 3RD FESHBACK ACT //
THE NEW INCIDENCE FIGURES OF 85-THOUSAND IS VERY LARGELY
UNDERSTATED, AND THE BEST ESTIMATES SEEM TO BE CLOSE TO
145-THOUSAND TO 150-THOUSAND NEW CASES PER YEAR -- WITH
PROMISE OF IT GOING UP, BECAUSE OF THE POTENTIAL RELEASE
OF UP TO 450-THOUSAND PERSONS FROM PRISON, ACCORDING TO
A LAW PASSED BY THE DUMA. VERY LIKELY EACH INDIVIDUAL
RELEASED WITH MULTI-DRUG RESISTANT T-B WILL SPREAD TO 10
TO 20 OTHER PEOPLE. WHAT IS REALLY SPECTACULAR IS THE
GROWTH OF SYPHILIS. THE LAST YEAR REPORTED WAS
376-THOUSAND CASES. AND WITHIN THAT, WE HAVE THE ISSUE
OF 10 TO 14 YEAR-OLD GIRLS, FOR WHICH THE RATE HAS
INCREASED BY 30 TIMES IN THE PAST FIVE YEARS.
// END ACT //
DR. FESHBACH SAYS GOVERNMENT FUNDS ALLOCATED TO HEALTH PROGRAMS
ARE PITIFULLY INADEQUATE. OUTSIDE HELP HAS COME FROM MERLIN, THE
BRITISH RELIEF AGENCY, AND FROM THE U-S AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL
DEVELOPMENT. MOST RECENTLY, THE FINANCIER AND PHILANTHROPIST
GEORGE SOROS HAS PLEDGED TO SPEND 500 MILLION (U-S) DOLLARS OVER
THE NEXT THREE YEARS ON A VARIETY OF CHARITABLE CAUSES, BUT
CONCENTRATING ON PUBLIC HEALTH.
A MAJOR CAMPAIGN AGAINST TUBERCULOSIS, WHICH IN THE WEST IS
ENTIRELY CURABLE, IS JUST NOW GETTING UNDER WAY. BUT THERE IS
STRONG RESISTANCE TO OUTSIDE HELP FROM WITHIN THE RUSSIAN MEDICAL
// 4TH FESHBACH ACT //
YOU HAVE GOOD PROGRAMS BUT YOU HAVE ALSO MAJOR
CONSERVATIVE OPPOSITION. THE CHIEF OF ALL THE COUNTRY'S
WORK ON T-B IS NOT WILLING TO ACCEPT OUTSIDE
ASSISTANCE, NOT WILLING TO ACCEPT OUTSIDE, SHALL WE
SAY, DIRECTION OR OUTSIDE RECOMMENDATIONS -- AND WOULD,
FOR EXAMPLE, REJECT SOME OF THE MONEY THE SOROS
FOUNDATION WANTS TO PUT IN.
// END ACT //
DR. FESHBACH EXPECTS THAT THE MAJOR CAUSES OF DEATH WILL SHIFT,
BUT THAT INFECTIOUS AND PARASITICAL DISEASES WILL BE ON THE RISE
FOR YEARS TO COME. THE RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT HAS PREDICTED THAT THE
COUNTRY'S POPULATION WILL SHRINK BY ONE MILLION PEOPLE PER YEAR
FOR THE NEXT DECADE.
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 1998 17:42:13 +0300 (WSU)
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Renfrey Clarke)
Subject: Russian miners blockade the boss
#RUSSIAN WORKERS REFUTE MYTH OF ``PASSIVITY''
#By Renfrey Clarke
#MOSCOW - Part of the Russian ``soul'', Western tradition holds,
is a unique bent for sullen but passive suffering. Centuries of
peasant revolts, not to speak of other convulsions, give the lie
to this myth. Nevertheless, it still gets trotted out by
commentators who note with relief the ability of the current
Russian government to force neo-liberal measures on the population
while somehow remaining in office.
#In reality, the response of Russians to ``reform'' has been far
from passive. Just how far was illustrated once again in the last
days of January, when a protest picket in a Siberian coal town
erupted into a four-day siege during which a hated mine director
was held captive. The episode ended only when riot police
arrested the director and led him away in handcuffs.
#As related by the Moscow daily <I>Nezavisimaya Gazeta,<D> the
story began on January 27 when workers from the Kuznetskaya mine,
near the city of Polysaevo in the Kuzbass coal region, gathered
outside the mine administration building. They were demanding
unpaid wages from as far back as mid-1995.
#The fact that such a protest took place at the Kuznetskaya mine
is an irony in itself. With large reserves of high-quality coking
coal, the mine was the first in Russia to be privatised, in 1991.
The workers and managers kept a 40 per cent stake. The bulk of
the shares were purchased by an Austrian firm and by another
registered in Liechtenstein. In return for receiving their shares
at a barely nominal price, the new majority stakeholders promised
to invest in modern equipment.
#Favoured by the new owners with gifts such as television sets,
many of the workers felt their fortunes could only improve.
Instead, output in the mine plunged and wages stopped coming. The
miners remained in their decrepit villages - in recent times,
without running water - living on what they could grow in garden
plots, on gifts from relatives, and on occasional payments in
kind from their employer.
#With support from the miners, local authorities sought to have
the mine renationalised. Last year, an arbitration court ruled
the privatisation illegal, reversed it, and ordered mine director
Aleksandr Ternovykh dismissed. This finding, however, was later
overturned on appeal.
#Ternovykh maintained that he was not receiving his wages either.
But miners recently told journalists that when the mine director
was approached last year with the demand that money be paid out,
he was able to take a fat wad of notes from his pocket and pay
everyone an immediate bonus.
#The wage debts nevertheless continued to mount, and by January
the mine owed individual workers sums ranging from 10,000 to
45,000 rubles (US$1600-$7400). The miners' demands now included
renationalisation of the mine, the bringing of criminal charges
against Ternovykh, and a federal investigation of the reasons why
the local prosecutor's office had not pressed charges against him
#During the January 27 picket, <I>Nezavisimaya Gazeta<D> related,
Ternovykh showed up unexpectedly at the mine administration
building, where he was almost never to be seen. He began a
meeting with managerial and technical personnel. When the
picketers demanded that the mine director meet with them, local
news services reported, he declared: ``I'm not going to talk to
this riff-raff without a gun in my hands.''
#Some 50 miners then blockaded him in a conference room. More
than 20 managers and technicians who were present were told they
could leave, but most chose to stay. Ternovykh, the miners made
clear, would be released only into the custody of criminal
#Police surrounded the building, but did not intervene. The local
mayor, no doubt sensing that the blockade was highly popular,
told journalists that the city authorities were refusing to
#If their demands were not met, the blockaders declared, they
would halt traffic on a busy nearby highway. On January 31 a
detachment of OMON paramilitary police arrived, and as the crowd
in front of the building cheered and clapped, Ternovykh was led
off to detention.
#The mine director was formally charged with endangering the
lives of workers. Last March, a fire in the Kuznetskaya pit took
the lives of three miners. Ternovykh is also reportedly being
investigated on two further charges: of tax evasion, and of
abusing his position.
#But early in February authorities in Kemerovo Province, which
includes the Kuzbass, launched another criminal investigation
with the aim of identifying and charging the people responsible
for the blockade. The charges that could be brought carry a
prison sentence of three to five years.
#From the mine's foreign shareholders, the blockade drew only a
vague promise that wage arrears would be paid when the money was
found. Meanwhile the Austrian part-owner, the company Prosystem
GmbH, has revealed that it wants to sell its stake in the mine. A
Prosystem spokesperson stated early in February that the company
was suing Rosugol, the state firm that manages many of the
Russian government's coal industry assets, for debts amounting to
the equivalent of US$2.9 million.
#The blockade at the Kuznetsky mine has not been the only
bitterly-fought struggle to erupt on the Russian labour scene in
recent weeks. No less significant, and in some ways even more
dramatic, was the January 27 blocking by protesting workers of
the Trans-Siberian Railway near Vladivostok in the Russian Far
East. An estimated 2500 people, mostly unpaid coal miners but
including defence industry workers, teachers, medical staff and
municipal service workers, took part in the two-hour action.
#On January 29 some 3500 people, mostly unpaid defence industry
workers, demonstrated in President Boris Yeltsin's home city of
Yekaterinburg in the Ural Mountains. And on February 4 coal
transport workers in the northern Kuzbass were in the second day
of a mass hunger strike. A reported 106 workers had joined the
action, aimed at forcing bosses to pay wage arrears dating back
to October 1996.
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 1998
From: email@example.com (Pratap Chatterjee)
Subject: query for russia list
Thanks for offering to put my query on your list. Here is the question:
My name is Pratap Chatterjee. I'm an environmental writer and have recently
focussed on the use of mercenaries\private security agencies to protect
mineral extraction operations.
I'm currently interested in information about a private company named Alpha
in Russia that employs former Alpha commandos (the KGB crack team that
operated in Afghanistan and Lithuania etc). Any information on Alpha,
especially on one of its employees whose name is Mikhail Golovatov, would
be much appreciated. Also any histories of the work that the Alpha
commandos did in various trouble spots would be useful. Does it still exist
in Russia as a government agency?
You can email me at "firstname.lastname@example.org" I can certianly offer other
useful information in exchange, and have a friend who can also read short
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 1998
From: Theodore Karasik <email@example.com>
Subject: Armenia and Internal Affairs
Steve Blank (JRL 2048, etc.) is correct that the events in Armenia are a
coup. Not only is the former NK President now "in charge" of Armenia but he
has the support of key security forces that see NK as a part of Armenia. It
is also significant that the Dashnaks are now legal and most of their
leaders released. This is important because their symbolism and influence on
the new leadership may be to ignore Moscow.
There is also the question of Russian involvement-- to what degree did
Russia play a role in the Yerevan coup? Russia's role is not significant in
this episode. It is true that Russia may transfer arms and announce tough
negotiating positions regarding conflict resolution or oil pipelines in the
region. But the coup is an internal affair among Armenian factions
struggling over territory and nation.
Overall, I think it is fairly clear that Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan
face greater internal threats to their stability then from their neighbors.
The Yerevan coup, the Shevardnadze assassination attempt, and the simmering
events in Azerbaijan signal continuing domestic discontent and potential
FOCUS-Russia steps up rhetoric, diplomacy on Iraq
By Gareth Jones
MOSCOW, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Russia on Tuesday stepped up its diplomatic
offensive against the use of military force in Iraq, saying any strike would
have disastrous human and environmental consequences for the whole region.
The Iraq crisis took centre stage on the second day of President Boris
Yeltsin's state visit to Rome, where the Russian leader and Italy's Prime
Minister Romano Prodi issued a joint appeal to Baghdad to avoid a ``big
As Yeltsin made a renewed call for U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to travel
to Baghdad, Foreign Ministry spokesman Gennady Tarasov told reporters in
Moscow that Russia feared the consequences of any attack on suspected stores
of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
``We wonder what may be the results of applying massive fire power against
arsenals of weapons of mass destruction,'' he said.
``Any military conflict is a risky game at best. The use of force is not a
ball game. What we hear is of a massive use of force, which means lots of
innocent people may become victims,'' said Tarasov, who spoke in English.
Russia strongly opposes plans by the United States and Britain to use force
against Iraq if it fails to allow United Nations' inspectors unfettered access
to suspected sites of biological and chemical weapons.
Yeltsin and Prodi also issued a statement saying inspections were necessary
and calling on Iraq to ``act in the most constructive way.''
They urged Annan to visit Baghdad. ``There is reason to believe that U.N.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan could play a coordinating role in the resolution
of the crisis,'' their statement said. ``His trip to Iraq under such
circumstances could be of prime significance.''
During a regular Foreign Ministry briefing in Moscow, Tarasov read out a
report by Itar-Tass news agency quoting a Russian meteorological agency on the
potentially devastating environmental consequences of an attack on Iraqi
The Rosgidromet agency's report said a cloud of toxic material could affect
many countries in the region including several former Soviet republics, Turkey
and Iran depending on prevailing climatic conditions.
``The military scenario would have very negative consequences for Iraq and the
whole region,'' Tarasov said.
Yeltsin's government and the opposition-dominated State Duma lower house of
parliament have shown rare unanimity during the crisis, criticising Washington
and calling for a diplomatic solution.
The Duma and the foreign ministry are trying to win permission from the
15-nation U.N. Sanctions Committee for a plane carrying Russian deputies and
humanitarian aid to fly to Iraq. The committee oversees stringent sanctions
imposed against Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
The deputies spent a second day in the Armenian capital Yerevan on Tuesday
waiting to see if they would be allowed to go.
A committee source said on Monday the United States believed the request
should be put on hold as the plane's cargo was not time sensitive and could be
Duma speaker Gennady Seleznyov told reporters in Moscow that the number of
people on board the Ilyushin 86 plane, currently over 200 including
journalists, would be drastically reduced in compliance with a suggestion from
the U.N. committee.
Russian ultra-nationalist leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, in typically defiant
mood, said he would not abandon the mission.
In Rome, Yeltsin said everything should be done to ensure the Iraqi crisis was
``Our position is to avoid military action that could lead to a big
conflagration,'' said Yeltsin, who last week warned that a military strike
against Iraq could lead to world war.
Tarasov said Yeltsin was being kept closely informed of developments in
Baghdad, where presidential envoy Viktor Posavalyuk was continuing his talks
with the Iraqi leadership.
Journal of Commerce
February 11, 1998
[for personal use only]
Russia puts a halt to flow of Caspian Sea oil to Black Sea
Action baffles industry experts
BY MICHAEL S. LELYVELD
JOURNAL OF COMMERCE STAFF
Analysts are stunned by reports that Russia has blocked the flow of
Caspian Sea oil through its own pipeline on the pretext that a
U.S.-backed consortium in Azerbaijan failed to meet customs
Industry experts are particularly puzzled by the move in light of the
fact that Russia has been maneuvering for three years to make sure that
oil from Azerbaijan flows over Moscow's preferred pipeline route to the
Port of Novorossiisk on the Black Sea.
Few Russian policy goals have been pursued with such determination.
Analysts believe that control over Caspian oil was a major factor in
Moscow's decision to launch a 21-month war with the breakaway republic
of Chechnya in 1994.
But just two weeks after announcements that "early oil" from the
$7.4-billion Azerbaijan International Operating Co. had started moving
over the border into Russia last month, Moscow stepped in suddenly
Saturday to halt the flow, according to reports by the BBC, Platt's news
service and the Sharg news agency.
The move is baffling because the consortium has a contract with
Russia's state-owned pipeline operator Transneft. So far, only 58,000
barrels of consortium oil have crossed the border into Russia, the
Customs problem confirmed
In the Azerbaijan capital of Baku, consortium spokeswoman Tamam Bayatly
confirmed in a phone interview Tuesday that there had been difficulty
with customs documentation. A company official was meeting with
Transneft in Moscow, "trying to resolve those technical issues related
to documents," she said.
But Ms. Bayatly denied that Russia stopped the flow, saying that no
consortium oil had actually reached the border so far. The statement
appears at odds with Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev's announcement
on Jan. 23 that consortium oil would cross into Russia the next day.
Events suggest that Russia is either trying to divert attention from
its own problems in getting oil through Chechnya or stalling until an
agreement can be reached.
"Obviously, there's a problem," said Julia Nanay, director of Petroleum
Finance Co. in Washington, who believes the consortium will eventually
have to deal with Iran for export.
"My impression is that they're not going to get it through Chechnya and
they're going to need Iran," Ms. Nanay said. Washington wants a line to
be built through Turkey instead.
On Friday, Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov said he would reconsider a
transit agreement made with Moscow last year. Mr. Maskhadov cited
Russia's repeated failure to honor its reconstruction pledges.
A key link
Chechnya's 95 miles of pipeline represent a key link in the 900-mile
oil route from the Caspian and perhaps the only means of influencing
Russia to make good on its promises. The route is the only working
export pipeline from the Caspian, although many other deals have been
It is unclear how serious Chechnya's threat is, but passage through the
republic appears tenuous at best. The day after Mr. Maskhadov's
televised address, the government backed away from other plans to recall
representatives from Moscow and bar air travel, Radio Free Europe/Radio
Liberty Newsline reported.
But the interim transit deal expired on Dec. 31. Reports have been
contradictory. While some suggest that state-owned Azerbaijani oil has
already stopped flowing through the pipeline, others say the deal was
extended through the end of February.
Payment a question
Analysts and industry officials say they are unsure whether the
Chechens are still being paid. The terms of any extension would be an
issue, because Russia disagreed with Chechen claims that it was actually
paying a pipeline fee.
To do so would imply that Chechnya is no longer a legal subject of
Russia, begging the independence question that was at issue in the war.
Instead, Russia paid a lump sum of $854,000 for transport of 1.4
million barrels of oil. It is unclear whether the deal was extended on a
per-barrel basis or whether any more money has changed hands.
The Electronic Telegraph
11 February 1998
[for personal use only]
Kremlin blamed over plot to kill Shevardnadze
By Alan Philps, Moscow Correspondent
RUSSIA was accused yesterday of mounting an attack that came close to
killing President Eduard Shevardnadze of Georgia.
The attack was said to be part of a plot to stop control of lucrative
Caucasian oil slipping from the Kremlin's grip. Mr Shevardnadze was
quick to see a miracle in his survival of the second attempt on his life
in three years.
"It must be a miracle to survive twice. The Lord knows I spare no effort
for the good of my country and its people, and He saves me in such grave
situations." Two of his bodyguards were killed in the attack on Monday
night, including the man who took him, bleeding from shrapnel wounds, to
hospital after the 1995 car bomb.
In the latest attack, 10 to 15 assailants opened fire on his motorcade
with rocket-propelled anti-tank grenades and automatic weapons. One
grenade, of the type that can incinerate an armoured vehicle, hit the
front of the president's bullet-proof Mercedes, but he was unharmed. One
attacker was killed but the rest escaped.
Mr Shevardnadze, a former foreign minister of the Soviet Union, blamed
his giant northern neighbour for the attack, noting that his former
security chief, Igor Georgadze, who is accused of mounting the first
assassination attempt, had found refuge in Russia.
He linked the attack to Russian efforts to stop oil from offshore wells
in the Caspian Sea, now being developed by a BP-led consortium, from
being exported through a pipeline across Georgia.
"Powerful forces have an interest in another solution to this question,"
he said, referring to a Kremlin plan for the oil to pass through
southern Russia, which would ensure that Moscow retained a stranglehold
on the exports. "An evil spirit is in the air which dreams of turning
everything upside down in this country in order to bring back the era of
gangs and armed groups."
The assailant who was killed was found to be carrying Russian identity
papers in the name of an ethnic Chechen. But Russian media claimed that
the documents had been reported stolen months ago.
The Georgian parliament ordered Russian air bases to be sealed off and
demanded that Russian forces should assist inquiries.
Condemning what it called "an outrageous terrorist act", the Russian
Foreign Ministry denied that a Russian air base could have been used by
the gunmen, saying: "It is too far from Tbilisi to serve as a launchpad
for such an attack."
The Times (UK)
11 February 1998
[for personal use only]
When in Rome Yeltsin is, as usual, confused
FROM RICHARD OWEN IN ROME
IT WAS, said Il Messaggero, the Rome daily, an historic encounter
between "the Russian Bear and the Holy Father".
But Boris Yeltsin's first visit to Rome since the fall of communism in
1991 got off to an all too familiar embarrassing start yesterday when
the Russian leader appeared confused, unsure whom he was talking to, and
even more unsure of what he had said the day before.
The day began well in brilliant sunshine, when Mr Yeltsin visited the
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The Italians had done their best to
organise things perfectly; three ambulances followed the huge Russian
convoy, an army of advisers was on hand and staff at the Grand Hotel
reportedly cleared the mini-bar in the Yeltsin suite of all alcohol,
leaving only fruit juice and mineral water. Nonetheless, Mr Yeltsin
offended his hosts by failing to salute the Italian flag, walking
straight past it, despite attempts by his embarrassed aides to stop him
so that he could make a bow.
Later, at a press conference with Romano Prodi, the Italian Prime
Minister, with whom he signed a number of bilateral deals in fields from
the economy to culture, Mr Yeltsin appeared not to understand many of
the questions. He said there would be "dire consequences leading to a
big conflagration" if America and Britain attacked Baghdad.
He was asked why he had said on arrival that Kofi Annan, the
Secretary-General of the United Nations, was heading for Baghdad to try
to avert war when Mr Annan's office had said the Secretary-General had
no such plans. "But I never said I was going to Iraq," Mr Yeltsin said,
clearly befuddled. His press secretary whispered in vain in his ear.
Several times Mr Yeltsin had to be propped up by aides. Diplomats said
it was all too reminiscent of his last foreign foray, to Sweden in
December, when he mistakenly asserted that Germany and Japan were
nuclear powers and kept the King waiting.
By the time he reached the Vatican, however, he appeared to have
concentrated his mind and all was smiles between him and the Pope, who
greeted him in Russian. Mr Yeltsin was accompanied by his daughter,
Tatyana, who is also his closest adviser, and his wife Naina, who laid a
grandmotherly hand on the Pope's arm, saying: "We are all with you."
The Pope replied: "Let us hope that we all greet the new millennium." He
glanced at Mr Yeltsin and added: "I am glad to see your husband in such
Like Mr Yeltsin the Pope has to pace himself. Yesterday his left hand
shook uncontrollably, said by medical experts to be one of the signs of
Mr Yeltsin, who brought his own chef with him from Moscow, was depicted
in a front page cartoon in La Repubblica greeting the Pope with the
words: "Let's eat first and pray afterwards."
Alcohol, however, was firmly off the agenda, apart from the lambrusco
and chianti at the official dinners. And the hotel staff also
confiscated chocolate bars and packets of peanuts from the Yeltsin
For the Italians, the focus of interest was not so much Mr Yeltsin but
his daughter Tatyana, who they were intrigued to find was not only
good-looking but was also constantly at the Russian leader's side to
Financial Times (UK)
11 February 1998
[for personal use only]
Russia: Kremlin seeks speedy deal on tax code
By Chrystia Freeland in Moscow
The Russian government continued its aggressive effort to rebuild
investor confidence yesterday, as the finance ministry unveiled a new
draft tax code and gave an upbeat assessment of talks with the
International Monetary Fund.
But Moscow's nervous financial markets, which have been seriously
weakened by the Asian crisis, responded unenthusiastically. Share prices
fell nearly 2 per cent and the rouble slipped slightly against the
dollar, suggesting investors have not yet been convinced by the
government's recent efforts to prove it has its economic house in order.
Mikhail Zadornov, the finance minister, said he expected parliament to
pass the revised tax code by the middle of this year. The new code
replaces the government's 1997 draft, which failed to win legislative
approval. "Any further delay in tax reform is unacceptable," said Mr
The minister warned that if the tax code were not passed by the summer,
Russia would be lumbered with its current tax system for another two to
two and a half years.
He said that budget debates in the second half of this year, followed by
1999 parliamentary elections and a presidential ballot in 2000, would
make it impossible for the parliament to pass the tax code after the
middle of this year.
Mr Zadornov, who joined the cabinet last autumn after serving as a
member of parliament from the democratic opposition party Yabloko, said
the revised tax code incorporated most of the amendments Yabloko had
He said the new plan reduced the overall tax burden to 30.7 per cent of
GDP, down two full percentage points from this year and three from last
year. It would also radically simplify the system and reduce the number
Some key taxes are to be reduced. Under the new code the profit tax rate
would be cut from the originally proposed 35 per cent to 30 per cent.
The finance ministry has also dropped its plan to increase the value
added tax to 22 per cent from its current 20 per cent.
Mr Zadornov offered an optimistic view of talks with an IMF mission
which is currently in Moscow. He was confident Russia would agree a
programme for 1998 with the IMF by the end of this week in time for a
visit by Michel Camdessus, the fund's managing director, early next
Mr Zadornov also confirmed that the government was determined to avoid
incurring any new domestic or foreign debt until the end of March,
arguing that interest rates were currently too high. At the end of March
the government would review the situation and was likely to launch a
foreign bond issue.
For more articles from The Moscow Times, check out their website at
Tuesday, February 10, 1998
THE WORD'S WORTH: Tips on a Fading Art: Russian Letter-Writing
By Robert Coalson
In Russia, as in the West, the epistolary genre is a dying form. Faxes,
electronic mail, the telephone and a notoriously unreliable postal
service have conspired to all but kill off the letter. It is hard to
imagine that not so long ago writing and receiving letters was
practically as important a part of Russian life as drinking tea.
I used to visit a 90-year-old woman in St. Petersburg fairly regularly,
until she died last November. A regular feature of those visits was the
long, formal process of writing a letter to her relatives back in the
village, which is now in Belarus. We would spend as much time crafting
and analyzing the felicitation as we would writing the content of the
letter. I still remember how it went: Dorogiye nashi Maria Ivanovna,
Pyotr Petrovich, Vasya, Kolya, Katya, vse vashi deti, vnuchki i sosed
Boris! (Our dear Maria Ivanovna, Pyotr Petrovich, Vasya, Kolya, Katya,
all of your children and grandchildren and the neighbor Boris!).
Forgetting someone, God forbid, was worse than not writing at all.
Therefore, it is obviously still worthwhile knowing the formalities of
letter writing in Russia.A typical formal or business letter will open
with a phrase like Uvazhayemyi Boris Nikolayevich (Esteemed Boris
Nikolayevich). Even more formal, to the point of being stilted, is
Mnogouvazhayemyi (Much Esteemed). A foreigner writing to a highly placed
official such as President Boris Yeltsin might prefer something even
more formal such as, Uvazhayemyi gospodin Prezident.
Dorogoi (dear) is reserved for people you know fairly well, including
relatives and in-laws, teachers, students and colleagues with whom you
work regularly. A good rule of thumb is to use dorogoi whenever your
letter contains any remarks that are not purely business-related. If
your letter is addressed to more than one person, use the plural form,
For purely personal letters, dorogoi is also the standard. However, you
can also try something like, Milaya Mashen'ka (Darling Masha) for the
sake of variety. For increased degrees of affection and cuteness, you
might write, Lyubimaya Tanya (Beloved Tanya) or even, Dorogoi moi
zaichik (My dear bunny) or Solnyshko moyo (My Sunshine). Russian's only
limits are the limits of your fantasy.
Closing your letter properly is also important. My friend from St.
Petersburg always had to make sure to peredat' privet (say "hello" to)
every single person mentioned in her felicitation by name at the end of
the letter. Business correspondence usually closes with something like
iskrenne vash (sincerely) or s uvazheniyem (respectfully). Slightly less
stuffy, but also perfectly acceptable is s nailuchshimi pozhelaniyami
(Best Regards). Vsego khoroshego (All the Best) is strictly for informal
Chernomyrdin 'Very Likely' To Be President
6-13 February 1998
"Viewpoint" article by Yevgeniy Anisimov: "Will Chernomyrdin
Become President of Russia? Yeltsin Has Not Yet Named His
Successor. But We Will Have a Guess"
At first glance, economic life would appear to be a chaotic process.
Scandal follows scandal, accusations come from one direction and then from
another, so it is impossible to tell who is with whom and who is against
whom.... But it all becomes clear if we recognize one simple fact: The
race for the presidency began a long time ago.
In the winter of 1996 the country's leading bankers agreed to push
Yeltsin as president. In a matter of months Yeltsin's rating suddenly rose
like leavened dough. The leaven was money and the dough was kneaded by
What lessons can we draw from that election? 1. The sooner you start
the election campaign the better. 2. You have to think first about
sources of finance. Now let us look at recent events from the vantage
point of historical experience.
In Russia money is found basically only with those who trade in oil
and gas. Gas is clear enough: Chernomyrdin will never let anyone have
Gazprom, as B. Nemtsov learned to his cost when he tried to weaken R.
Vyakhirev's positions. As a result he weakened his own. Oil is more
complicated, because there are several teams on this playing field:
Lukoil, Yukos, Tyumen Oil Company (TNK) and -- at a pinch, largely owing to
Uneximbank's authority and the agreement with BP -- Sidanko.
Now let us look at the disposition of forces. Lukoil was always close
to the premier and now this closeness has been formalized in the triple
alliance involving Shell, Gazprom, and Lukoil. Yukos, which was always
been openly sympathetic to Chernomyrdin, formed an alliance in January with
Sibneft. Berezovskiy is now working on the premier's behalf. Behind TNK
you have Alfa-bank, which was one of the losers in the bid for Svyazinvest
and is entitled to bear a grudge against Chubays and Uneximbank.
Uneximbank is clear enough: It is one of the few structures
underpinning Chubays' team.
We are left with the state Rosneft company. A controlling
shareholding in it is about to be put up for sale.
Rosneft is essentially merely a safe containing blocks of shares and
documents entitling it to extract oil -- on the Sakhalin shelf, in the
Caspian, in many deposits that have been discovered but are not yet under
serious development. And this is the main lure for foreign companies. Our
politicians are also understandably interested in Rosneft, because whoever
owns it will control financial flows coming into Russia from abroad.
Rosneft is currently headed by Berezovskiy's people. The Fuel and
Energy Ministry, headed by S. Kiriyenko, tried to replace the management
and the Council of Directors petitioned the government to remove Bespalov.
Chernomyrdin was given the final word. The premier has not pronounced.
There has been no decision either from the premier on the question of the
tender: How many shares will be sold -- 50 percent plus one share, or 75
percent? When? Procrastination is to Chernomyrdin's advantage -- he is in
alliance with Berezovskiy at the moment and so controls the company. Yuksi
(the alliance between Yukos and Sibneft) is looking for a Western investor,
and this takes time.... If Rosneft were put up for auction now -- what if
Unexim suddenly dropped its claim? The auction would be ruined. But even
if there were two participants (Shell-Gazprom-Lukoil on the one hand, and
Yuksi on the other), the auction would take place and the company would
remain in Chernomyrdinite hands whatever the outcome of the tender.
But the intrigue surrounding Rosneft is just one sector of the combat
actions taking place on a broad front. Take the NTV television company
saga. Some 30 percent of that company belongs to Gazprom, which is busy
establishing its own structure to work with the media -- Gazprommedia (by
analogy with V. Gusinskiy's Most-Media). Chernomyrdin is signing (despite
the president's explicit ban) government guarantees for credit issued to
the Bonum commercial structure -- to acquire equipment for NTV satellite
broadcasting. The antimonopoly committee tried to take away NTV's signal
payments concessions (NTV pays at the state rate despite being a commercial
firm), so Yeltsin signed an edict keeping the concessions for NTV. What is
happening? ORT is effectively controlled by Berezovskiy (who has entered
into an alliance with the premier) and NTV henceforth is also closely
associated with Chernomyrdin, the Moscow channel.... More about Luzhkov
later. All the remaining channels, following the reassignment of powers in
the government, have been place in the charge of media supervisor, vice
premier Bulgak -- a loyal Chernomyrdinite who, incidentally, used to be
minister of communications and still has influence in the
The reassignment of powers in the government is further evidence of
Chernomyrdin's preparations for the election campaign. Chubays lost his
media supervision function, Nemtsov was cut off from the fuel and energy
complex, and the country's finances have also been placed in the premier's
charge as a result of the recruitment of M. Zadornov as minister. Are
there any significant posts left to grab?
Another interesting January scandal was the attempt to remove B.
Brevnov from the post of head of the YeES Rossii Russian joint-stock
company. The company's value to the presidential candidate consists in his
being able to talk with regional leaders from a "disconnection position":
play up and I'll turn off the light, I'll stop the power station for
maintenance.... But Brevnov is on Nemtsov's team, so we might have
expected a scandal involving him. Although, as a result of the
indefatigable efforts of Anatoliy Dyakov (absolute boss of the company
before Brevnov), the scandal did not quite work out as planned, and the
Fuel and Energy Ministry protested against the Council of Directors'
decision to remove Brevnov and kept him in post. For now. They say that
when Chernomyrdin learned of the "putsch" in YeES he gave Dyakov a terrible
tongue-lashing. But that was just the first attempt, and there will
undoubtedly be others. There will also be an energy system under
So what do we have? Viktor Stepanovich is like a tank methodically
rolling over everything that might work to his advantage in 2000 and is
securing a powerful economic and propaganda base. It is now secured, in
All this is interesting, perhaps, and even useful (if I decide to ruin
for president I will know how it is done), but, really, what difference
does it make to me who wins? Not Zyuganov, fortunately, the reader will
say, and he will be wrong, unfortunately. In the 1996 election it was a
fight between communist and market ideology. In 2000 it will be a fight
between free market supporters. There is no paradox here. There is a free
market in Latin America, in South Korea, in the United States, and in
Sweden. But they are very different.
In Latin America major companies associated with the underworld
di ctate state policy. In South Korea the major companies are essentially
the state. In the United States (and in European countries, actually) the
state sets the rules of play and makes everyone observe them. In Sweden
the state, through taxation, has made everyone practically equal in terms
of income, which has led to a fall in economic growth.
The Swedish model is obviously not for us. So the emphasis in the
reforms will be either on large companies and restricted competition or on
small and medium-sized enterprises, on the creation of a competitive
ambiance. Is it a good thing when the state openly sponsors some while
penalizing others? In the nursery conditions of no competition you will
not raise a viable enterprise, since lack of competition leads to
unwarranted prices rises and concessions for crooked enterprises deprive
the budget and, accordingly, anyone funded by it -- science, education,
medicine, the military, culture, pensioners -- of money.
The competitive model presupposes equal conditions for all. If you
are able to demonstrate your efficiency, good for you. If you take
relatives and friends on the payroll, welcome to bankruptcy. A fair,
albeit tough scheme.
Chernomyrdin personifies the first, state capitalist, model. That
is why most of our financial oligarchs have teamed up with him -- in the
last election they were fighting for survival, in the next election they
will be fighting for the most comfortable conditions of survival. Whether
he likes it or not, Yu. Luzhkov will team up as well. The differences
between Luzhkov and Chernomyrdin can be overcome, because they are
advocates of one and the same model of development.
The second model is traditionally associated with "young reformers"
Chubays, Nemtsov, and their teams. Obviously, the supporters of the
democratic market are losing. And not because the model or its supporters
are bad -- there are objective reasons for defeat. First, the monopoly
legacy from socialism pulls in the other direction. Second, small and
medium- sized private business, the middle class of society, would have
been on the reformers' side, but this class has not taken shape here, has
not consciously formed.
The head of state may be playing hard to get by concealing the name of
his successor, but it is very likely that, unless Yeltsin himself runs, the
next president of Russia will be Chernomyrdin. Unfortunately....
Someone's swiping dinosaur parts from Russian institute
An inside job by the 'bone mafia'?
February 8, 1998
>From Correspondent Steve Harrigan
MOSCOW (CNN) -- For six years, thieves have been looting the Russian
Paleontological Institute, with stolen fossils turning up for sale in
Germany, Japan and the United States.
The thefts, at first, were small. The bones of a few amphibians that
existed 240 million years ago disappeared.
Then the thieves began stealing dinosaur skulls. The jawbone of a
tarbosaurus is gone without a trace.
"This is really a tragedy because this is a specimen on which a new
species is based," said Maria Hekker, a scientist.
Some of the stolen bones have been sold for half a million dollars.
Have employees or scientists been involved in the thefts?
Igor Novikov, the institute's deputy director, denies the existence of a
"bone mafia" inside the institute.
"It is nonsense to say that our scientists are stealing. Despite the low
pay, our workers are enthusiastic," Novikov said.
Employees say that when they tried to blow the whistle on the problem,
the director fired them.
"He spoke many times openly in the institute that such persons must be
kicked out ... because they bring to daylight some things that shouldn't
be discussed," Hekker said.
Some dealers with stolen fossils claim they bought them from institute
officials, who also provided documents needed for export.
Despite the disappearance of five skulls last year, institute officials
failed to call the police. Now some senior Russian scientists are
"This has never happened here before. Scientists stealing from their own
institute. The academy wants to avoid talking about it, hoping it will
just die quietly," said Vladimir Strakhov, a scientist.
CIS 1997 grain output leapt from 1996, sugar fell
MOSCOW, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Net grain production in the
Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) totalled 151.2 million
tonnes in 1997, a rise of 33.5 million tonnes, or 28 percent
from 1996, the CIS statistics committee said on Tuesday.
Preliminary committee data quoted by the Interfax news
agency showed that Ukraine recorded the largest percentage rise
in 1997 over 1996 levels, boosting grain output 44 percent to
35.4 million tonnes from 24.5 million in 1996.
Russia also showed a significant improvement last year over
1996 levels, producing 88.5 million tonnes from 69.3 million.
CIS sugar beet production fell last year to 34.8 million
tonnes, a drop of 8.0 million tonnes from 1996.
The committee, quoted by Interfax, gave the following data
for CIS grain and sugar beet production:
CIS GRAIN AND SUGAR BEET OUTPUT IN 1997 (MLN T)
GRAINS 1997 1996
CIS 151.2 117.7
Russia 88.5 69.3
Ukraine 35.4 24.5
Kazakhstan 12.3 11.2*
Belarus 6.4 5.8
Uzbekistan 3.7 3.5
Moldova 3.2 2.0
Kyrgyzstan 1.7 1.4
CIS 34.8 42.8
*NOTE-Interfax did not give an outright figure for Kazakhstan
1996 output, but said 1997 output rose 9.8 percent from the year
before. This gives a 1996 figure of 11.2 million tonnes,
slightly below official estimates of 1996 Kazakh grain
production of 11.6 million tonnes.
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 1998
From: FPRI@aol.com (by way of David Johnson <firstname.lastname@example.org>)
The winter issue of Orbis, the Foreign Policy Research Institute's Journal of
World Affairs, has a number of articles that may be of interest to your
Complimentary copies of the articles are available upon request by emailing
FPRI@aol.com. Please make sure to include your complete regular mailing
address as well as your email address.
Foreign Policy Research Institute
Volume 42, Number 4, Winter 1998
The U.S.-Russian Maritime Boundary Giveaway -
Carl L. Olson, Mark J. Seidenberg, Robert W. Selle
NATO Enlargement vs. American Interests - Alvin Z. Rubinstein
The Case for Nuclear Deterrence Today -
Robert G. Joseph and John F. Reichart
Chinese Nationalism and American Policy -
Thomas A. Metzger and Ramon H. Myers
The Past and Future of Public Diplomacy - Carnes Lord
Australian Security after the Cold War - Robyn Lim
Catholic Social Thought in Latin America - Edward A. Lynch
Emerging Security Threats - Mark T. Clark
The Great Power Balance in Northeast Asia - Gilbert Rozman
Humanitarian Intervention - Christopher Gray
Volume 41, Number 4, Fall 1997
WESTERN CIV IN WORLD POLITICS
What We Mean by the West - William H. McNeill
The Drama of Modern Western Identity - David R. Gress
The West's Stake in Russia's Future - James H.Billington
NATO Expansion and the Idea of the West - James Kurth
Images of the Coming International System - Robert E. Harkavy
U.S. Defense Industry After the Cold War - Murray Weidenbaum
Israel's Abiding Troubles in Lebanon - Adam Garfinkle
NATO Germany and Pragmatism's Finest Hour - Harvey Sicherman
Wilsonianism Reconsidered - Francis J. Gavin
Russian Foreign Policy in Search of a Nation - Yaroslav Bilinsky
The Unwinnable War on the Drug Trade - Patrick Lloyd Hatcher