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Johnson's Russia List


February 14, 1998   
This Date's Issues: 2063   

Johnson's Russia List
14 February 1998

[Note from David Johnson:
1. Interfax: Poll Shows Rising Unemployment Largest Worry.
2. David Bacon: Question on labor in Russia.
3. Steve Blank: Iraq.
4. The Independent (UK): Phil Reeves, Russia's links with 
Baghdad embarrass diplomatic drive.

5. Moscow Times: Thomas de Waal, Analyzing Russia for the 

6. Pravda-5: Irada Guseinova, SWAPPING RUSSIA FOR AMERICA.

7. U.S. News and World Report: Oil, trouble flow down the 
Baku pipeline.

8. The Economist: President Boris Yeltsin is in decline. 
Russia is drifting with him.

9. Interfax: Muscovites Polled on Yeltsin Choice of Successor.
10. Interfax: Russian Poll Shows Views on Iraq, 'World War 

11. AP: Lebed To Run for Governor in Siberia.
12. Sovetskaya Rossiya: G. Kaurov, "Once More About A. Lebed, 
A. Yablokov and the Nuclear Suitcases.""]


Poll Shows Rising Unemployment Largest Worry 

MOSCOW, Feb 11 (Interfax) -- Rising unemployment has become the
largest worry for Russians.
A poll taken by the All-Russian Public Opinion Study Center January
10-30 and similar polls taken in January 1997 and July
1993, show that the number of people worried by this has increased
from 31% in 1993 to 61% in 1997 to 66% now.
Because five or six causes of worry could be named, the sum of
percentages exceeds 100. The statistical error stays within 2%.
Price rises worry 58%, compared to 55% last year and 82% in 1993 when
this topped the list of worries. In
This worry is followed by delays in the payment of wages, pensions,
benefits, etc., which is 57% now, compared with 66% in 1957 when this was
the biggest worry. In 1993 this was not on the questionnaire.
The rising crime troubled 56% of respondents while the economic
crisis and the industrial and agricultural production decline, 50%.
The wide gap between the rich and the poor and inequitable
distribution of incomes was a cause of concern for 48% while the weakness
of the state authority, for 34%.
Corruption or bribe-taking were regarded as a big problem by 29% and
the crisis of morals and culture, by 28%.
The deteriorating environment took tenth place with 25%.


Date: Fri, 13 Feb 1998 
From: (David Bacon)
Subject: question

I'm working on an article about labor in Russia, and the changes in AFL-CIO
I have a couple of questions I'm hoping you might be able to help me with:
Are there any statements by Russian union leaders which propose a political
alternative to the present situation which goes beyond the immediate
problems of wage arrears, poverty-level wages, and so on? Are there any
calls for returning to some form of state-controlled economy? What about
opposition to foreign investment, and the question of producing for export
and high levels of imports vs. import substitution and producing for an
internal market? This is obviously a big controversy in the Asian
countries affected by the economic meltdown, and others where the IMF has
imposed rigid austerity programs. I'm trying to determine to what extent
it's a controversy in Russian labor.
I read with interest the quotes from Vic Thorpe of the International
Federation of Chemical, Energy and Mining Workers, from the conference on
non-payment in Moscow last November. It was surprising to hear the head of
an ICFTU trade secretariat call for the basic restructuring of the IMF and
World Bank, and oppose, not just the suffering caused by their policies,
but the whole economic framework in which the institutions exist.
Do you know if there was there any response from any of the Russian trade
union leaders present? Is it possible to get English-language translations
of any of their remarks, or were any of them quoted in the Russian press?
I thank you in advance for any help or information you can give me.

David Bacon
david bacon - labornet email david bacon
internet: 1631 channing way
phone: 510.549.0291 berkeley, ca 94703


Date: Fri, 13 Feb 1998
From: (Steve Blank) 
Subject: iraq

Let me make a stab at answering Eva Fast's questions on what happens 
after we strike at Iraq (and for this message's sake I assume we 
will). Undoubtedly Russia will shout loudly and attack the U.S. in 
Europe, the Middle East, and everywhere else in the hope of dividing 
it from its allies. But we should not take the deluded "Communist 
boasting" Komchvanstvo, in Lenin's term as a serious reflection of 
reality. it is is truly amazing how much Russian writing on world 
affairs is either willfully mendacious or seriously distorted. But my 
sense is that this crisis has revealed once again the ineptitutde of 
Russian diplomacy. Primkaov's carrying clearly unsatisfactory 
messages made in Iraq, Yeltsin's and his lack of coordination and 
attempts to strongarm the Secretary General into going to Baghdad, 
etc. If there is a sustained U.S. attack I think it will reflect the 
failure of Primakov's policies and incline Yeltsin to side more with 
Chubais and Co.. Although there is now the belief that Washington is 
against Moscow irretrievably, the fact is that whatever the U.S. does 
will be held against it in these Russian circles, failure to act will 
be seen as a great triumph for Rusisa and Primakov and their faction 
and a defeat for Washington, which is why we will probably act. We've 
had enough of Primakov's rabbits in his hat. Thus I think, that as in 
1991 Saddam's defeat will open the way to a stronger position for the 
"forces of movement" to use Arno Mayer's old term, not the party of 
order and anti-Americanism tout court. It is, of course, entirely 
possible that I'm completely wrong, but Russian opposition is not 
going to stop us especially as many states who oppose military action 
will as in 1981 when Israel did the same thing, silently cheer.


The Independent (UK)
14 February 1998
[for personal use only]
Russia's links with Baghdad embarrass diplomatic drive
Phil Reeves in Moscow examines claims that Russia helped Saddam over 
arms inspections 

THE ADVERT might have read something like this: neglected former empire, 
with serious health and money worries, seeks new friends to share 
companionship, business dealings, and a penchant for showing Americans 
that they are not the only heavyweights on the planet. Pariahs welcome. 
The lonely heart, of course, is Russia whose relationship with Baghdad 
is now proving so frustrating to policy makers in Washington as they put 
the final touches to their plans to bomb Iraq. 
True, Iraq cannot exactly be described as a new friend - ties go well 
back into Soviet times - but its relationship with Moscow has been 
recast in the last few years during Russia's slow drift away from an 
exclusively pro-Western liberal foreign policy. 
That much is clear every time Boris Yeltsin lurches onto the world stage 
with his theatrical predictions that a strike against Iraq could lead to 
a third world war. But now a far more sinister dimension to the 
relationship is being presented to the world. 
Russia stands accused of using its foreign intelligence agents covertly 
to help Saddam Hussein in his efforts to thwart United Nations 
inspectors. It is alleged that Moscow may even have sold - or, at least, 
planned to sell - equipment to pursue his murderous goals, by striking a 
deal with Baghdad to supply an animal feed fermentation tank that could 
also have been used to make biological weapons. 
The claims arose in Thursday's Washington Post, and seem to have come 
from a source in the CIA. Yesterday the Times repeated part of them, 
adding an account of a meeting by members of the UN Special Commission 
(Unscom), who in 1996 gathered at a hotel in Basingstoke, Hampshire to 
prepare for a trip to Iraq. 
The Times said an official was seen pumping information out of Russian 
commission members every night. He turned out to be the London-based 
"resident" from the Russian foreign intelligence service, SVR. When the 
team eventually arrived at a suspect site in Iraq, they found their way 
blocked by Iraqi troops, who had apparently been tipped off. 
Both stories have been angrily dismissed by Moscow officials. The Times' 
account was waved aside by the Federal Security Service. "Any sensible 
person can see it lacks common sense and logic," said spokesman Yuri 
Kobaladze. "What would be the point of our 'resident' officer going to 
Hampshire to meet our representatives?" 
Discerning the truth in a conflict in which both sides are experts in 
the art of black propaganda will be difficult. But it is easy to see why 
the West is suspicious of Moscow. For most of the decade Russia's 
foreign policy has been steadily pro-Western. Hungry for loans, debt 
relief, foreign investment, renewed global clout and a means to force 
the repayment of Soviet era debts, Moscow has pressed consistently for 
integration into international, Western-run institutions. 
Now it has shifted to more ambivalent ground. It has watched unhappily 
as Nato prepares to march to its borders. It has seen the United States 
grab a hefty stake in the Caspian, whose vast oil reserves Moscow grew 
used to covet as its own. Whilst it knows it will long be financially 
dependent on the West - and cannot truly welcome the prospect of a 
heavily armed Saddam - it is casting about for a new role. 
Central to this process is the figure of Yevgeny Primakov, a fluent Arab 
speaker whose friendship with Saddam Hussein stretches back three 
decades. The Western media rarely mentions the Foreign Minister's name 
without reminding their customers that he is the former head of foreign 
Yet he is subtler figure than a knee-jerk Cold Warrior. He is a 
pragmatic geopolitical strategist who is looking for a counterweight to 
American power and a means of restoring the status of Russian diplomacy. 
Critics he has aplenty. He is making a "grave mistake", wrote Michael 
McFaul, an analyst at the Moscow Carnegie Centre. "The economic 
advantages of open trade with Iraq are only a fraction of the potential 
economic benefits of Western integration." 
Mr Primakov is, however, far from master of his destiny. A handful of 
mighty energy and banking interests stand guard constantly at his 
shoulder, trying to fuse foreign policy with their interests. Last year 
Russia struck a multi-billion dollar deal to develop the Qurna oil field 
in southern Iraq, agreeing not to go ahead until UN sanctions are 
lifted. Lukoil, the leader of the consortium involved in the contract, 
is widely considered one of the handful. 
Before Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, the Soviet Union had thousands of 
specialists in Baghdad. It had played a part in the development of 15 
Iraqi oil fields. The army used Soviet aircraft and Soviet tanks, having 
spent some $7bn (4.3bn) on arms - a bill that is still unpaid. When the 
Iraq conflict is is settled, expect to see Moscow cashing in its 


For more articles from The Moscow Times, check out their website at

Moscow Times
February 14, 1998 
Analyzing Russia for the Confused 
By Thomas de Waal

After the certainties of the Soviet era, new Russia is confusing to 
foreigners. Most of them get their news about it in small doses, which 
only serve to make them even more confused. "That Boris Yeltsin," they 
often ask, "isn't he drunk or half-dead? But then why is he still in 
charge? And when parliament passes those resolutions on Iraq or the 
Black Sea Fleet, what happens to them?" Even the most sophisticated 
analysis of contemporary Russia often omits one vital part of the 
Rebirth of a Nation: An Anatomy of Russia by the associate editor of 
Britain's New Statesman journal, John Lloyd, is intended as medicine for 
the bewildered. The scope of the book's ambitions is suggested by the 
anatomical subtitle; for Lloyd takes nothing for granted. And in five 
substantial parts he seeks to anatomize the condition of quite simply 
the whole of Russian society: Yeltsin, the economy, NATO expansion, 
Chechnya, the television networks, the bankers, the film industry -- it 
is all here. 
Although this approach makes for a book which is engrossing, magisterial 
in its sweep and authoritative in its judgments, it is also a little 
pedantic. And Lloyd is prevented from adding some of the more exotic 
personal impressions, which could spice up a book like this. Few people, 
I imagine, will read it from cover to cover. But for my part I fell 
greedily on the chapters about the economy. 
As the Financial Times bureau chief in Moscow for five years from 1991 
to 1996, Lloyd had an unparalleled opportunity to watch the reform 
program from the beginning, and he has used it well. No one has written 
better about the team of reformers, led by Yegor Gaidar, who took 
control over the economy in 1992. They were both naive and arrogant -- 
the stars of the Soviet intelligentsia who had spent their youth reading 
Western books and academic articles and arguing into the night. Almost 
overnight they were given a country to run. 
Lloyd argues strongly against two critiques of the reformers. The first 
is that somehow a little tinkering would have created a smoothly 
functioning market economy. The second is that the Gaidar "gang" (as he 
calls them) destroyed the economy. In fact the rot had set in long 
before 1992. The distribution system had collapsed, the shops were 
empty, the budget deficit was ballooning out of control. What the gang 
had to perform was a risky act of salvage with very few instruments of 
Two men were at the heart of this process. Gaidar, a brilliant 
economist, set the agenda for reform in the first few months of 1992, 
but lacked the political skills required to stay the course. When the 
correspondent of The Economist introduced himself to Gaidar at a press 
conference, for example, he said "Ah, my favorite," confirming himself 
to be a cosmopolitan intellectual who implicitly despised Russian 
publications. This mistake, which played right into the hands of his 
detractors, was one that the most inexperienced of Western politicians 
would never make. The gang was part of a paper-thin layer in society, 
utterly out of step with most of their fellow citizens. They were always 
living on borrowed time. 
Anatoly Chubais is the most fascinating gang member because he was the 
only one who made the transition to becoming a full-fledged politician. 
Early on, he picked his battles and his enemies carefully. His 
privatization had a dark side. Huge industries were snapped up at 
bargain prices without any prospect of restructuring. But in the long 
term, Lloyd suggests, this has probably been the least bad option: "For 
what he had succeeded in doing was more than simply running with the 
grain of a corrupted managerial-government class: he had, in tempting 
them on to greater and greater wealth, made them dizzy with greed and 
betrayed them into losing control of a process they thought under their 
If there is a thematic thread running through the book, it is the 
disentangling of the Soviet from the Russian. While some aspects of life 
have shed the Soviet heritage and have been truly "reborn," others are 
depressingly stuck in a Soviet groove. The chapters on the energy sector 
and industry make the most dispiriting reading because they show how 
these most basic parts of the economy have remained Soviet in their 
closed corporate thinking and their insular managerial practices. 
The section on culture, co-written with Arkady Ostrovsky, a young 
Russian journalist, makes an interesting variation on this theme. 
Contemporary Russian culture has somehow blended the Soviet and the old 
Russian into a muddled synthesis, as the 850th anniversary celebrations 
in Moscow last year illustrated so well. The festive imagery could 
embrace as easily an icon of the Virgin Mary as the Soviet Marshal 
Zhukov. The remorselessly cheerful music and banners were reminiscent of 
May Day parades, but with Orthodox priests in tow. Everything is 
acceptable and everyone is forgiven was the underlying message -- which 
makes good politics, perhaps, but bad art. 
Unfortunately the book has been marred by some extremely sloppy editing. 
It is strewn with misprints and small errors. To list but a few: Alexei 
Golovkov is mistakenly called Sergei; Alexei Kazannik, the public 
prosecutor, is elevated to justice minister and renamed Kazannikov; the 
name of the Chechen opposition leader Umar Avturkhanov is mangled; the 
Georgian capital Tbilisi, the Tatar president Shaimiyev and the Greek 
banker Kivelidi are all misspelled; Viktor Chernomyrdin worked in Orsk, 
not Omsk, and Valery Tishkov resigned as nationalities minister in 1992, 
not 1993. Even the names of Lloyd's fellow correspondents Steve LeVine, 
Alan Philps, Jonathan Steele, Alessandra Stanley and Anatol Lieven are 
misspelled. I mention this only because the paperback edition of this 
book deserves to be pristine and because it mistakenly creates the 
impression that Lloyd does not know his material. He does -- better than 
almost anyone else. 
"Rebirth of a Nation: An Anatomy of Russia" by John Lloyd. Michael 
Joseph. 478 pages, pounds 20 or $32. 


>From RIA Novosti
February 13, 1998

Like other new independent states, Azerbaijan began its
recent history with a search for strategic partners. Baku
believed in earnest that the best strategy was rapprochement
with the United States. In addition, Washington did everything
to encourage this strategy. A long time ago the United States
learned the unfailing trick of handing out advances and
promises. As a result, Azerbaijan began to be guided in its
conduct by a negative attitude to Russia and a positive
attitude to America. It is well known that Baku regarded
rapprochement with the West as a cure-all for all its ills and
that optimism was skilfully nurtured by oil diplomacy and
closer ties with the United States. However, Azerbaijan's
leaders have now begun to realise the futility of their
pro-western expectations. Instead of the anticipated "carrot",
Azerbaijan has received some unexpected and unpleasant
surprises from the United States.

In November 1992 the US Senate passed the 907th Amendment
banning the provision of official humanitarian aid to
Azerbaijan. The resolution said the ban was imposed because
Azerbaijan's military actions and blockade violated the rights
of the Armenians of Nagorny Karabakh and Armenia. At first
Azerbaijan dismissed the Amendment as a "temporary
misunderstanding", but that was political short-sightedness. It
took the Azerbaijani leaders five years to realise that
Washington was using double standards in its policy in the
Caucasus. All that time the Amendment allowed the United States
to toy with Azerbaijan "without charge". Azerbaijan granted its
new "friends" the lion's share of the oil contracts in exchange
for Washington's promise to ease the 907th Amendment. Every new
American coming to Azerbaijan says that the Amendment will be
eased up shortly, but nothing changes.
Now Baku is convinced that the United States wants to get
control over Azerbaijan's resources and manipulate with that
country for nothing. Mistrust in America is growing not only in
the general public but also in the ruling circles of
Azerbaijan. "Azerbaijan is consistently promoting bilateral
co-operation with the United States," President Geidar Aliyev
said at a meeting with US Congressmen. "President Clinton and
many members of his administration realise the need to repeal
the 907th Amendment, but we have not yet received the desired
results. On the one hand, we are friends, on the other hand, we
are being discriminated against".
As disillusionment grows, a gradual review of strategy is
possible. Now that the relations have gone far it will be
difficult to do, but when the future of the country and the
nation is decided, there will be no other choice.
Political analysts in Azerbaijan justly believe that it
will be difficult and even dangerous for Azerbaijan to
"disentangle" itself from the United States. Such prognosis is
based on the analysis of the situation in Cuba, Iran, Libya and
Serbia. The countries that dare defy the world policeman are
either brought back into the US fold by force or declared
"outcasts". True, the use of force is ruled out, taking into
consideration that Azerbaijan is too far from the United States
and the latter has not yet completed its "expansion" in the
region. So, the second option remains, the role of an outcast.
Azerbaijan has paid dearly for giving up Russia in favour
of America and we are yet to find out how much it will have to
pay for giving up America, if Azerbaijan plucks up the courage
to do so.


U.S. News and World Report
23 February 1998
[for personal use only]
Oil, trouble flow down the Baku pipeline

For Western oil firms, investing in Azerbaijan continues to be a wild 
ride ("Payoff in the Caspian," U.S. News, Nov. 10, 1997). In Baku, the 
capital, celebrations broke out last fall after a Western consortium 
pumped its first oil from a platform on the Caspian Sea. This oil was 
set to reach the Russian border through a refurbished pipeline sometime 
this week.
But dark clouds have also settled over the region. Hopes for a 
resolution to a 10-year-old dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, an 
Armenian-dominated portion of Azerbaijan, were dashed in early February 
after Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossian was forced to resign. A 
May 1994 cease-fire between Armenia and Azerbaijan had stopped the 
bloody fighting, leaving Armenians occupying some 20 percent of their 
neighbor. But peace remained elusive. Ter-Petrossian's endorsement of an 
international plan to end the conflict split his government and doomed 
his presidency.
Armenia's new acting president, Robert Kocharian, is the former 
president of Nagorno-Karabakh and is opposed to returning parts of it to 
Azerbaijani control, as suggested by international mediators. U.S. 
officials are trying to put the best spin on the events, noting that 
Ter-Petrossian was already in political trouble over an ailing economy. 
"Right now, we just need a government to work with," says one U.S. 
official. "A guy who didn't have any support was hard to work with." 
Armenia's future will be decided after new elections are held March 16. 
The popular Kocharian is favored to win, but as a former resident of the 
disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, he must first clear up legal questions 
about his eligibility to run.
The shake-up in Armenia was only one sign of trouble in the Caucasus. 
Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze barely escaped assassination last 
week--the second time in 30 months. Both incidents shook Western oil 
companies in Azerbaijan. They fear that new instability could close off 
options for building new pipelines that are needed to send Azerbaijan's 
oil to the West. "A lot of deals have been signed, but companies are 
going to try not to spend too much money until they can see progress on 
pipeline routes out," says Julia Nanay, a Caspian-region expert at the 
Petroleum Finance Corp.--Kevin Whitelaw


The Economist
14 February 1998
[for personal use only]
HEADLINE: Russia's part-time president
President Boris Yeltsin is in decline. Russia is drifting with him

AN AIR of fin-de-regne hangs over Russia, for all that President
Boris Yeltsin's second term has run less than half its course. His
minions hint that he may seek a third term. If so, Russia could face six
more years' stagnation, not two. Physical decay accounts for much of the 
problem. Mr Yeltsin, 67 this month, was not looking too bad by recent 
standards during his brief visit to Italy this week. But he has been a 
fugitive presence in the Kremlin since his heart by-pass operation in 
November 1996. He communicates withthe country almost exclusively through 
recorded television clips and scripted radio broadcasts. His occasional 
public appearances yield moments of worrying eccentricity. His powers of 
concentration appear to be failing him.
And increasingly, Mr Yeltsin's political powers seem to be failing
him too. He is no longer the master of any game save that of shuffling his
ministers and advisers with disruptive frequency. His lack of commitment
and clarity in economic policy has helped condemn Russia to a recession far
longer and deeperthan that of most other transitional economies. Even now,
Mr Yeltsin seems to view declarations of intent as an acceptable substitute 
for action. Last month he presented his government with a 12-point economic
programme of dizzying banality, seemingly the work of his Kremlin advisers. 
Last week he proclaimed without warning a quite different, and much tougher, 
agenda urged on him by Anatoly Chubais, the leading reformer in the government. 
And next week, when Mr Yeltsin is due to give his annual policy address to 
parliament? It will depend on who has his ear, or on the severity of the crisis 
to be managed.
The upshot is that Russia can hardly be said to have an economic
policy at all. At best it has several, all ineffectual, and several
views on the result itwants to see achieved. Mr Yeltsin says the economy
must grow by 2-4% this year. The central bank thinks 0-1% is the best
that can be hoped for. The finance ministry seems to agree. This week the 
economics minister forecast growth of 1.2% for 1998--at the same time as the 
prime minister, Viktor Chernomyrdin, was saying the government must aim for 
growth of more than 2%.
Adding to the air of disarray, the Russian parliament is on the point
of passing belatedly a budget for 1998 that everybody agrees will not be
observed. It is said to mark progress, in that its assumptions are less
fantastical than those in the 1997 budget. The main question this year is 
whether interest rates can be held to the 25% average assumed in the budget. 
Because the government borrows heavily, each percentage-point rise in interest 
rates costs it about $600m a year. This week it was paying closer to 35% for 
its money, after a near-run on the rouble in late January. Even if rates do 
fall back to 25%, that will still be high enough to deter capital investment, 
a precondition for economic growth.
Nor is it only Russia's economy that needs new management. In foreign
policy too, Mr Yeltsin has lost his balance. He used to be the dominant
figure in a double-act with Yevgeny Primakov, the foreign minister. Mr 
Yeltsin would charm the West, while Mr Primakov devilled among the old Soviet
client-states. In recent diplomacy towards Iraq, however, Mr Primakov seems to 
have persuaded his boss that it is Bill Clinton, not Saddam Hussein, who poses 
the bigger danger to world peace. Last week Mr Yeltsin said Mr Clinton
"might trigger off aworld war". This week he said that "attempts by some
countries . . . to assume arole of leader are unrealistic and even
dangerous." Much more of this, and Russia will have a cool welcome from
the G7 group of big industrialised countries when Mr Yeltsin takes his seat at 
the Birmingham summit this spring.
Another victim of Russia's drifting has been the army, which Mr
Yeltsin haspromised to reform time and again, but which has gone on
decaying. Its neglecy is giving a succession of rebellious generals an entry 
into politics, each claiming the sympathy of a million despairing soldiers.
General Alexander Lebed was an early contender for the military
protest vote.He ran for the presidency in 1996 and finished third with
15% of the vote. He says he will run again in 2000, and he may warm up by 
running for a regional governorship in Siberia in April. Last year he was 
joined on his soap-box by General Lev Rokhlin, a more plainly mutinous figure 
who has made common cause with the communists. This year a third general may 
overshadow them both. He is General Andrei Nikolaev, who resigned last month 
as head of Russia's borderguards and who plans to run for a seat in the Duma,
the lower house of parliament. General Nikolaev, much admired by the press, is
also tipped as a presidential contender. The hardline interior minister, General
Anatoly Kulikov, has remained edgily within the government's ranks so far but
clearly has bigger ambitions.
The prospect of a general in the Kremlin is still, thankfully, a
distant one.The bankers and media tycoons who secured victory for Mr
Yeltsin in 1996 are busily eyeing up the civilian candidates to succeed him. 
Most are thought likelyto rally behind Mr Chernomyrdin--though last week
Gusinsky, who runs both a bank and a television station, declared his
support for
Grigory Yavlinsky, leader of Yabloko, a social-democratic party, in the
parliamentary elections next year that will precede the presidential
race. Yuri Luzhkov, the mayor of Moscow, and Boris Nemtsov, a
first-deputy prime minister, are also plausible presidential candidates.
Then there is Mr Yeltsin himself. Obstinacy may yet prove the
strongest of his faculties. "Yeltsin will die a president," says Lilia
Shevtsova, a politicalscientist. "The only question is when."


Muscovites Polled on Yeltsin Choice of Successor 

MOSCOW, Feb 10 (Interfax) -- Every fifth Muscovite -- 21% -- says that
when President Boris Yeltsin recently said he has chosen his candidate in
the 2000 presidential elections, he meant First Deputy Prime Minister Boris
The National Public Opinion Center polled 850 Muscovites on February 6
and reported the results to Interfax Tuesday.
Nemtsov is followed by Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, First
Deputy Prime Minister Anatoliy Chubays and Moscow mayor Yuriy Luzhkov with
10% each while 3% think Yeltsin meant himself.
Federation council speaker Yegor Stroyev, Communist Party leader
Gennadiy Zyuganov and former Security Council secretary Aleksandr Lebed
were named by 1% each.
Some 4% named others and 7% thought Yeltsin will not name anyone.
However, many more -- 33% -- were undecided.
It is indicative that 44% said even if Yeltsin names his successor,
that will not affect their choice in 2000.
For 16% Yeltsin's choice will go in favor of voting for a presidential
candidate, for 18% against the candidate.
The remaining 22% failed to answer.
It is curious that Yeltsin's recommendation will not affect those who
think he will choose Nemtsov or Chubays.
If Chernomyrdin is named, the recommendation will prove negative,
while support for Luzhkov will encourage voters to cast their ballots for
the mayor.


Russian Poll Shows Views on Iraq, 'World War III' 

MOSCOW, Feb 10 (Interfax) -- Some 28% of the residents of Moscow and
St Petersburg think it quite probable that if Iraq is pressured too much,
it may lead to World War III. Another 26% think such a course of
developments probable to a certain extent.
The figures are the result of a telephone poll of 600 residents of the
two cities conducted by the National Public Opinion Poll and reported to
Interfax Tuesday.
The poll was taken immediately after the well-known statement of
President Boris Yeltsin who told the press that attacks on Iraq may lead to
a world conflict.
About 26% found such a turn of events hardly likely and 12% said it
was absolutely impossible.
The remaining 8% were undecided.


Lebed To Run for Governor in Siberia
13 February 1998

MOSCOW (AP) - Alexander Lebed, who has often expressed his desire to replace
President Boris Yeltsin, said today that he decided to run for governor of a
Siberian province because he had ``lost the feeling that I am needed'' in the
``But,'' Lebed added, ``I am absolutely sure this feeling will come back
Lebed, whose national popularity has waned in the past year, recently
submitted nominating papers to election officials in the central Siberian
province of Krasnoyarsk. He is expected to formally declare his candidacy next
In an interview with The Associated Press, the retired general acknowledged
that he saw the post as a potential springboard to the presidency.
``I've decided to put my faith into the hands of the people of Krasnoyarsk,''
he said. ``If they decide that their governor is worthy of running for
president, then I will go. If not, then it's useless.''
Lebed has never lived in Krasnoyarsk, and may face a challenge to his
candidacy based on federal campaign laws. His younger brother, Alexei, is
governor of a neighboring province, Khakasia.
``We need to do in Krasnoyarsk what is needed to be done throughout Russia,''
Lebed said. ``Land must be returned to its owners in a civilized manner. Taxes
should be reduced, and industry revived. ... And finally, we must create the
conditions for investment.''
Lebed challenged Yeltsin in the primary round of the 1996 presidential
election, and later accepted a post as the president's security chief. His
popularity peaked that summer when he negotiated an end to the war in
Chechnya, but he was ousted from the government a short time later after a
series of increasingly controversial remarks.
He went on to form his own political party and has said he intends to run for
president in 2000. But he has all but vanished from Russian media, and his
popularity ratings have declined.
``I have lost the feeling that I am needed,'' he said. ``I had this feeling
... up until 1996, when I participated in the presidential campaign. Now it
has vanished.''
That doesn't mean he thinks the country is in good hands. Lebed spoke
scornfully of Yeltsin, whom he insisted on calling ``the czar'' or ``Czar
Boris I.'' He referred to him as senile.
Asked about the president's recent warning that the United States could
trigger World War III by attacking Iraq, Lebed smiled grimly.
``After the president's revelations in Sweden'' - where Yeltsin made several
highly publicized gaffes recently - ``I believe the world is now taking all
his declarations calmly.''


Kaurov on Lebed, Yablokov Testimony to US Congress 

Sovetskaya Rossiya
22 January 1998
[translation for personal use only]
Article by G. Kaurov, candidate of technical sciences: "Once More
About A. Lebed, A. Yablokov and the Nuclear Suitcases""

"We Live in a Time of Judases" (Nikolay Burlyayev, Sovetskaya Rossiya,
4 Jan 98).
As the curtain fell on 1997, the Russian and some foreign mass media
for the umpteenth time devoted considerable attention to the safeguarding
of Russia"s nuclear weapons and in particular to the sensational
utterances by well-known airborne soldier A. Lebed and by no less
well-known ecologist A. Yablokov. The spiciness of these gentlemen"s
public statements was that while performing state duties in the Russian
President"s administration, they learned there were nuclear suitcases
in the Russian (Soviet) arsenal that were not controlled by B. N. Yeltsin.
They asserted that the Russian military, experiencing financial
difficulties, might sell a certain number of these suitcases to Basayev in
Chechnya or abroad to countries which the United States categorizes as
terrorist. These gentlemen demanded that the Russian President "take
additional security measures with respect to certain types of Russian
tactical weapons." And Yablokov directed U.S. attention to the fact that
Russia concealed the presence of the nuclear suitcases during nuclear arms
reduction talks and consequently behaved insincerely. At one press
conference Lebed not only gave certain technical characteristics, but also
the markings of special weapons which he considered nuclear suitcases.
There was a keen reaction abroad to the statement by our "patriots,"
with Yablokov and Lebed invited to speak to the U.S. Congress about details
of the uncontrolled character of Russian nuclear arsenals. True, evidently
having recalled how Russia has regarded treason since olden times and
possibly having realized how such appearances might reverberate on his
presidential ambitions, Lebed did not go to Washington and began to
distance himself noticeably from Yablokov. But the invitation to speak as a
witness before the U.S. Congress acted on the celebrated ecologist just
like a red cloth excites a bull. He undertook direct blackmail, declaring
his intention "to make the technical parameters of so-called black
suitcases public if he did not receive some kind of response to his letter
to RF President Boris Yeltsin." Denials by leaders and specialists
responsible for Russia"s nuclear weapons were unable to cool his
ardor. He simply ignored them.
Yablokov was effusively flattered at congressional hearings in
Washington when the chair, C. Weldon, introduced him as "an honored
professor and academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences," which he is
not and hardly ever will become. Excessive "modesty" evidently did not
permit Yablokov to correct Weldon. To the contrary, boldly shouldering his
back-breaking burden, he declared: "I am here because we have to protect
the American and Russian peoples against the nuclear threat."
We even will allow ourselves to dwell in somewhat more detail on the
speech of the "protector of peoples" in the U.S. Congress so that Russians
understand the essence of such Yablokovs, manifested most fully in their
speeches and statements abroad. He related that he had visited many of
Russia"s closed nuclear installations and took photographs (which is
prohibited—G.K.). And he said as if in passing that he had visited
Penza-19, "which never has been mentioned, but is a very interesting
place." The direction was given. Details for separate payment?! He said
that in raising the issue of small nuclear munitions, he was concerned
about a broader issue connected with the nuclear threat stemming from
Russia. Yablokov calls "Russian officials liars" and calls on the
congressmen "not to believe our nuclear ministry. No one can trust
it—you have to understand this."
He slanders Minister Viktor Mikhaylov by declaring that "Mikhaylov
openly proclaimed that his goal as minister was to make the ministry
independent of the state." In demonstrating the presence of medical
problems, he tries to persuade the congressmen that by ordering
suitcase-size nuclear munitions, the KGB "was attempting to kill capitalism
using these unconventional weapons." He accuses the USSR of terrorism,
asserting that "the USSR made a certain number of suitcase-size nuclear
munitions. Why? For terrorism. Definitely only for terrorism." Yablokov
openly called on the congressmen to intervene in our state"s internal
affairs and above all to place the development of military technologies
under control. "You have two possibilities of acting—inside Russia
and outside of Russia."
He offered himself and organizations of an ecologic persuasion
controlled by him as the executor inside Russia, calling them "guard dogs."
Outside of Russia he suggested reforming the International Atomic Energy
Agency [IAEA], which he hates. "You have to reorganize the IAEA as quickly
as possible. This will be important for all of us." As befitting a dog
serving his masters, at the end of his speech he said: "I am proud that I
am here. I am happy to be here. We have to unite our efforts to turn our
country and the entire world into a safe place."
Yablokov"s speech was assessed by the U.S. congressmen as...
But we quoted him extensively so that Russians themselves are able to
make an assessment of the "outstanding ecologist."
On returning from the United States, Yablokov continued the "suitcase"
topic. In Novaya Gazeta, No 51 (471), that came out prior to the New Year,
a place was found for his article under the title "What Do You Have in the
Field Packs, Boys?" As the newspaper writes, in it he cites proof of the
existence of nuclear suitcases. This is true, only not Russian, but
American ones. Noting that "as is customary, we (i.e., Yablokov, Lebed and
others—G.K.) know more about American nuclear weapons, including
miniature ones, than about our own," Yablokov himself let the cat out of
the bag by saying that in threatening Yeltsin "to make technical parameters
of so-called nuclear suitcases public," he was blackmailing... the
President of Russia!
In the last article, Yablokov cites generally known technical
characteristics obtained over the Internet for U.S. nuclear munitions
created during the 1960"s-1970"s for executing terrorist
missions. These munitions were placed in service with U.S. special units
and stationed in the United States, Germany, Italy, Korea and a number of
other countries.
Based on this generally known fact, Yablokov concluded that the USSR
had the very same kind of munitions.
And he substantiates his assertion by the following words: "I will
remind you that all the highest USSR officials, beginning with N. S.
Khrushchev and ending with M. S. Gorbachev, announced nuclear parity with
the United States. The word parity signifies equality. It is clear that
analogues existed in the USSR for all tactical nuclear weapons in the U.S.
inventory without exception." And so Yablokov tries to prove so simply the
USSR"s striving for nuclear terrorism and the presence in Russia of
nuclear munitions intended for terrorism, munitions over which Yeltsin lost
The above quotation of Yablokov and his interpretation of nuclear
parity attest for the umpteenth time to his absolute incompetence. Of
course, it was not from the Internet that Russian (Soviet) specialists in
the area of nuclear weapon building knew about the level of nuclear weapons
of foreign countries. Moreover, their foreign counterparts now acknowledge
Russian priority in solving a number of problems in this complicated area
of science and technology and, in contrast to Yablokov, they also know that
the question never was posed in the USSR about placing in service munitions
intended for nuclear terrorism. This kind of terrorism is obligated to the
United States for its appearance. Having lost the trust of the Kremlin and
of the Russian Government and public and deprived of access to secret and
confidential information, Yablokov fancied he saw in Lebed"s
irresponsible statements an opportunity to restore his lost positions, but
he miscalculated. By his actions he only intensified the process by which
Russians are gaining an understanding of his pro-American essence. Of
course, he senses that, not having had fresh information for a long time,
he also soon will not be needed by the Americans. This is why in the last
article in Novaya Gazeta he formulated the main objective of beginning a
serious discussion about this (nuclear—G.K.) problem. This is a trial
balloon in search of an information source. Who needs such a discussion?
The fact is that a serious discussion has been going on for a long while
among nuclear specialists, including foreign ones. And a discussion between
Yablokov and the specialists is senseless by virtue of the different tasks
and a different level of competence. The nuclear scientists also are
carrying on a mutually respectful discussion with the Russian public.
Therefore Yablokov"s proposal is pointless, especially as we believe
that Yablokov and his "guard dogs" do not represent the Russian public.
Yablokov"s speech before the U.S. Congress clearly demonstrated how
far his interests are from those of our people and our country.
Meanwhile, we suggest that Yablokov carry on a serious discussion with
specialists on problems closer to him than nuclear weapons. For example, we
know that the average life expectancy of Russians was shortened by more
than three years in the period from 1989 through 1993, i.e., during his
work on the USSR Supreme Soviet Committee for Ecology and in the position
of RF Presidential Adviser on Ecology and Health Protection. As Yablokov
himself writes, "a boy born in 1993 has no chance to live to retirement
(and our retirement age is five years less than in the United States)."
Just what advice was he giving Yeltsin in order to obtain this result?
Now that kind of discussion really would be very necessary for
everyone. We hope the mass media also would support such a discussion. But
Yablokov hardly will agree to it, for it will not bring him the desired
results, which lie in frightening Russians with dangers of using nuclear
technologies, stirring them up against military and civilian nuclear
scientists, and fulfilling recommendations of his overseas masters to
undermine Russia"s nuclear might.



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