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Johnson's Russia List


February  24, 1998  
This Date's Issues:    2076    2077  

Johnson's Russia List
24 February 1998

[Note from David Johnson:


3. Stuart Parrott (RFE/RL): Eastern/Central Europe: Countries In 
Transition Cut Benefits.

4. WIRED: Art And Corruption. Bruce Sterling, in Saint Petersburg, 
on what's really going on in Russia. 

5. Moscow Times editorial: IMF Needs To Stay On In Moscow.
6. Moscow Times letter: Robert Coalson, In response to "A Freeloader 
on the Internet."

7. WP: Carol Williams, A Tough New Course in Moscow Schools: 

8. Smena (St. Petersburg): Foreigners Are Not Afraid to Spoil Their 
Gene Pool by Adopting Russian Children.


10. Jamestown Foundation Prism: Vladimir Mironov, REGIONAL DIFFERENCES 

11. VOA: Peter Heinlein, Yeltsin Firing?]



CORRESPONDENT) -- The Armed Forces of Russia can guarantee the
country's security. This is the opinion of 45 per cent of 1,500
Russians who took part in the poll held by the "Public Opinion"
Fund. 43 per cent of the polled are of a different opinion.
One-fourth of the respondents see the reason for the bad
situation in the Russian army in the absence of a good
administrator in it. Every third (35 per cent) found it
difficult to name the best defence minister over the last 10
years. Igor Sergeyev arouses good feelings of 12 per cent of the
polled, Igor Rodionov -- 11 per cent and Dmitry Yazov -- 10 per
cent. Pavel Grachyov occupied the last place -- only 6 per cent
of the polled gave preference to him.
The majority of Russians (56 per cent) believe that the bad
attitude to the army prevails in society, and 21 per cent have
the opposite point of view. Among the problems which should be
urgently solved hazing is mentioned by 50 per cent and
undernourishment of soldiers -- by 48 per cent. Russians also
believe that it is necessary to struggle against corruption and
thieving in the army (29 per cent), improve the material
situation of the officers (27 per cent) and raise the level of
discipline (25 per cent). The solution of all these problems are
seen by half of the polled in making the army professional,
i.e., in introducing service on contract. . 



LONDON, FEBRUARY 23, 1998 /RIA Novosti/--A growth of the
jobless figure in is store for Russia in the next two-three
years, and it is necessary to engage in providing these people
with jobs, Vice-Chairman of the Government of Russia and Labour
and Social Development Minister Oleg Sysuyev has said in an
interview given to the RIA Novosti correspondent. He headed the
Russian delegation at the conference of the G-8 countries on the
problems of employment which ended its work in the British
capital on Sunday.
In 1997 the officially registered unemployment rate in
Russia stood at 2.6 per cent of the able-bodied population, 0.3
per less than in 1996, the Vice-Premier said. However, in his
view, these figures do not reflect the real situation. Alongside
the officially registered unemployed, there are people who are
forced to work shorter hours or are simply seeking jobs, without
claiming the dole. According to the Vice-Premier's information,
such latent unemployment in Russia stands at approximately 9.5
per cent. 
The Russian top-ranking executive warned that bankruptcy of
large enterprises is likely to take place by the end of the
year, and the consequences of the military reform, which
adversely affect the workforce market, will manifest themselves.
"It is necessary to prepare for this", Sysuyev emphasized.
"There is no use to save money for paying the forced
unemployment of the population but to get set for providing
people with jobs. Precisely this problem was discussed at the
London conference at which we heard much interesting from the
G-8 countries' experience".
The Vice-Premier admitted that it is extremely difficult to
really take to resolving the problem of employment, since this
is linked with the movement of the labour force about the
country. In his opinion, this needs massive financial resources.
Proceeding from our state's possibilities, it looks unrealistic
to find them right away. "But if we manage to live within our
means through the year 1998 it will be possible to allocate
sufficient funds from the budget also for employment programs",
Sysuyev stressed. 


Eastern/Central Europe: Countries In Transition Cut Benefits
By Stuart Parrott

London, 23 February 1998 (RFE/RL)) -- A new report by the International
Labor Organization says Eastern and Central European countries have cut back
on maternity benefits, particularly cash payments to mothers, due to
economic restructuring.
The report, Maternity Protection at Work, says paid maternity leave is
now on the statute books of more than 120 countries worldwide, a "striking"
improvement compared with 50 years ago. But it also says that progress has
not been uniform because of cuts to the traditionally extensive maternity
benefits of Central and Eastern Europe, and violations of women's labor
rights in Russia.
The report says many women in Eastern Europe have lost their jobs, and
hence no longer fulfill qualifying conditions for cash maternity benefits,
following the deregulation of labor markets, and the erosion of social
security and employment protection.
The report also says previously extensive child-care systems in Central
and Eastern Europe are being circumscribed by the closure of centers and the
charging of high fees. (A sociological study also showed there has been a
return to "traditional values", encouraging many women to stay at home to
look after their children).
Officials in Russia say violations of women's labor rights have soared in
recent years. The illegal firing of women during maternity leave or during
nursing "has become a common fact, particularly when enterprises are
restructured or change ownership."
Forecasts say the proportion of women of child-bearing age in the
workforce will continue to rise. By 2010, 80 percent of women aged 24-50 in
the industrialized countries will be working outside the home. Globally, the
proportion will be some 70 percent.
The ILO report analyzes how 152 member countries treat women of
child-bearing age in both law and practice, and how their legislation
compares to ILO standards. It analyzes maternity protection at work,
including maternity leave, employment protection and cash and medical
benefits for mother and child. 
The report says the ILO created the first global standard in 1919 aimed
at protecting women before and after childbirth. The revised modern standard
calls for a minimum 12 week maternity leave though a 14-week leave is
Currently, 119 countries meet the ILO minimum standard of 12 weeks with
62 of those countries providing for 14 weeks or more. Just 31 countries
mandate a maternity leave of less than 12 weeks.
The countries providing the most paid maternity leave by law include
Czech Republic (28 weeks); Hungary (24); Italy and Canada (17); Romania and
Spain (16). (Belarus:126 days; Bulgaria 120-180 days; Poland 16-18 weeks);
Russia 140 days; Ukraine 126 days).
The report says that protection of mothers in the past half-century has
been marked by progress in law, an evolution in workplace practices, and
rising social expectations of women, But it says most working women, at some
point in their lives, face "unequal treatment in employment due to their
reproductive role." 

WIRED 6.01: Feature
January 1998
Art And Corruption 
Bruce Sterling, in Saint Petersburg, on what's really going on in Russia. 

The Russians 

What does it mean to live in a country where the male life expectancy is 
57 years? It means that for every man who dies at 74, there's a man who 
dies at 40. That's Russian reality now. They're not being communists, but 
they're not getting healthier. They don't yet understand how. 
Today Russians are adapting an Americanized, or at least a Europeanized, 
facade just as fast as they can stand it. The people of Saint Petersburg 
are particularly good at this; it's why their city was created. That's 
a project dear to their hearts. There's a sour joke in Petersburg now that 
says they should declare independence from the rest of Russia, become a 
little Baltic state like Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia - and then declare 
war on Finland and lose. Because Finland was Russian territory not so long 
ago, and now it's a relative paradise of clean streets, socialist health 
care, and Nokia cell phones. 
But Saint Petersburg isn't Europe, and Russians aren't Americans. They 
say they want to be "normal," and this is as close as they've gotten lately, 
but they're just not normal yet. They're not dues-paying members of the 
Group of Eight who merely happen to have been through 70 mind-warping years 
of murderous totalitarianism. They weren't much like Americans before that 
episode, and at the far end of it, they're still not like Americans, and 
not at all sure what to make of themselves. They have a very deep, very 
classically Russian problem right now, and it's a problem at which they 
have failed, repeatedly and disastrously. 
Sometimes a great people can rise by the good fortune of having great
Before our long quarrel with the Soviets, America was basically a giant 
farm, a country whose hayseed soldiers boated over periodically to sort 
out the troubles in Europe. At the end of all that, we've become the first 
truly global superpower, the first military power whose cultural and technical 
preeminence is so overwhelming that we can't even be bothered to steal 
other people's land. We don't need their land. We don't want it. It's of 
no use to us. 
But the Russians aren't the only great people with a spiritual problem. 
We Americans are a very strange nation. When you stay a while in Europe, 
or even in Russia, you can glance back and you can come to see that there's 
a strange, scalped quality about the US. There's a creepiness about us, 
a blankness, a darkness. Behind all the glitzy military-entertainment video 
product, our satellite rock and roll, our disposable diapers, and our racks 
of shiny fluoride-strengthened teeth, there's a gum-popping Whore America, 
who can be led to culture but who can't be made to think. We're a facile, 
careless culture, so mired in Babbittesque philistinism that savaging the 
NEA is our national sport. 
Digital America is faster and maybe even richer, but it isn't much prettier, 
and it might be even less civilized. Here we suddenly have a brand-new 
class of ruling postindustrial moguls, a gang of digital hustlers to take 
their historical place beside the five-and-dime store magnates, the railroad 
barons, the steel monopolists, and the oil trusts. And yet these American 
titans, astoundingly, don't have any taste. None. Even 19th-century 
salesmen would build parks, libraries, public statuary. Even their bric-a-brac 
weekend castles would last 200 years. But not US computer moguls. They're 
spectacularly rich, a true techno-aristocracy. But in their heart of hearts, 
they're workaholic Dilberts, guys whose idea of fine art is a nailgun splash 
in Doom, or maybe a Hollywood dinosaur eating a lawyer. 
Russia is in bad straits, but I will swear with my hand on a Unix bible 
that when Olga Tobreluts enters the room, the image-crunching jockeys at 
Industrial Light & Magic ought to genuflect and spit up holy water. She's 
an Artist. No kidding. She's got something they just don't have. They need 
it, too. They need it a whole lot. 
We ought to work something out here. Now that we've given up staring each 
other down, we ought to water the cultural roots and feed the butterflies 
that follow. This could work. I can foresee a world where American computer 
moguls actually like and buy Russian computer art. Maybe even collect 
it. I'd really like to see a few Russian titan artist become zillionaires - 
that could liven things up considerably. Besides, the Russians are a little 
too sanctimonious about their righteous poverty - I'd like to see them 
deal with our famous artists' problems and see how they like it. 
The whole population could do this. We could all dump our dated hippie 
Pre-Raphaelite posters from our college dorms and yuppie dens and replace 
them with some chrome-coated, deeply eerie, Neo-Academist digitalia. It's 
just as "pretty," but it's a lot more true to our time and our basic 
America may not be up for this. We might just chew this stuff up, spit 
it out, and use it to sell running shoes. But not every country on earth 
has our personality problems. There's still hope, it's a big global world 
now; the Neo-Academists could get a long way just by becoming big in Japan. 
Japan is country that knows a very great deal about pseudo-Westernized 
façades and deep, dark, sticky interiors. 
And at the end of the day, art is still art, even when it's media. There's 
a bigger issue at stake here. Photography - the first fully machine-mediated 
art form - was a time bomb in the basement of representational painting. 
Why go on with that always-bogus "fidelity to nature" when a camera can 
give you real and objective fidelity at the click of a shutter? Baudelaire 
knew that the camera was the enemy of painting. But he was a 19th-century 
figure; he didn't know that the camera had an enemy, too. The camera's 
enemy is the computer. All so-called fidelity melts and warps before the 
21st-century scepter of digital imagery, the new usurper that can kill 
the camera and avenge its grandfather: a paintbrush driven by the human 
mind and hand. 
And painting's just one part of it. Even the Church on Spilled Blood might 
quail before the untapped power of the Neo-Academist computer. What is 
a "mosaic" anyway? A mosaic is stone pixels. That's all there is to it! 
Computers can handle pixels. You - yes, you - could get a computer, scan 
any image you want, have the computer break it up into numbered, colored 
pixels. Then you go out and you break some colored pop bottles with a hammer, 
and you buy a tub of superglue. Then you find some forgotten wall in the 
barrio, some obscure and evil place where people are murdered like the 
czar, every day, without even God caring. You get some unemployed friends 
and some workgloves, and you glue that broken glass up on the wall, pixel 
after pixel. Presto - order out of rubbish! Beauty - it spreads like fudge! 
Czarist fine art for nothing! 
Do you like those magnificent stone altars with their fantastic hand-etched 
curlicues? No problem! Scan them in on 3-D models, and have a machine tool 
dig them out of solid rock with CAD/CAM. Detail that would have blinded 
and killed Fabergé artisans can be yours - just for the willpower 
it takes to do it. Not for a fortune. Not for years of arduous labor. Yours 
for a gesture. Yours for potlatch. 
Of course, you won't do it <i>now</i> - not just because you read about
it in 
a magazine. But you'd do it if Timur Novikov lived next door. You wouldn't 
be able to stop yourself. He'd make you realize how rich you are, inside. 
Maybe a Russian futurist - Boris Strugatsky - should have the last word. 
Boris, along with his late brother, Arkady, were the best-known and most 
admired Russian SF writers of their generation. But at the conference I 
attended, Boris confessed sadly to his assembled compeers that his writing 
of the 1950s now strikes him as the work of Marxist religious fanatics. 
Those weren't novels, but utopian philosophical tracts. 
Now Boris Strugatsky has a Pentium, a modem, and a stack of CD-ROMs - but 
inspiration knows no baud rate. He says that inspiration hasn't changed 
since the days of Pushkin. Boris has known suffering - he's a Russian Jew 
in a country infested with anti-Semites - but it never occurred to him 
to leave his beloved city. 
"The highest joy of man is creativity," Boris told me with that complete 
and somewhat paralyzing Russian sincerity. "No power, or wealth, or drugs 
can match that. There are three great sources of happiness in life: friends, 
love, and the work. Take care of those three, and you can forget the rest. 
There is no cure for poverty of the spirit." 
Saint Petersburg is still a place where people can say that and mean it. 


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

Moscow Times
February 21, 1998
EDITORIAL: IMF Needs To Stay On In Moscow

The appearance of the International Monetary Fund in Moscow is like a red 
rag to a bull for the communists and nationalists in the Russian 
It confirms their Marxist-inspired theories that the current Russian 
government is just a puppet doing the bidding of international "comprador" 
In attacking the government's attempts to pass a realistic budget, they 
say First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais and his ilk are just 
carrying out orders from the IMF and Washington with no regard for Russia's 
State Duma deputies who share these views received bad news this week when 
IMF Managing Director Michel Camdessus announced that the fund would extend 
its $10 billion loan program with Russia for another year. The IMF will be 
around for some time yet. 
Of course, not only communist demagogues are skeptical about the IMF. The 
agency must take some of the blame for being out to lunch last year, 
issuing positive reports on Asia just months before financial markets 
But the attack on the IMF's work in Russia ignores Moscow's 
now-fundamental dependence on the support of international investors for 
financial stability, and the IMF plays a crucial role in maintaining that 
A breach with the IMF would hit the Russian government hard; it now funds 
more than 25 percent of its expenditure through borrowing, much of it from 
foreign investors. 
Apart from some differences over tariff policy, the Kremlin is working 
together with the IMF because it understands how useful its advocacy and 
its cheap loans can be. 
The IMF's decision to extend its three-year loan program to Russia for 
another year, to early 2000, is an indication above all that in the 
aftermath of the Asian crisis, Russia will continue to need the IMFs 
backing to help it win favor on world markets. 
The Duma may want to avoid responsibility for a tight budget, but the 
government and the IMF realize that the alternative of passing a more 
generous but unfulfillable budget would only deepen the nonpayments crisis, 
risk a currency crash and make it hard to keep up to date on state-sector 
wages and pensions. 
While the IMF needs to stay in Russia, it faces a difficult role balancing 
the demands of international markets against Russian public opinion. While 
it helps Russia by publicly defending the country's performance on world 
markets, it must be careful not to keep too high a profile here. It is too 
easy for the communists to discredit sound policies by claiming that they 
are imposed on Russian by foreign powers. 


Moscow Times
February 21, 1998
Internet in Russia 

In response to "A Freeloader on the Internet," Feb. 20: 


I would like to say that I very much enjoyed Leonid Bershidsky's Media 
Watch column. However, I think that Mr. Bershidsky overlooked the most 
exciting implication of online publishing for Russia. 
Obviously, the best use of the internet in Russia is not to supply 
Moscow-based newspapers to people like Mr. Bershidsky who live in Moscow or 
even to Russian-speakers abroad. The most fascinating media-related 
development on the internet in Russia is the slow, but steady increase in 
the number of Russian regional newspapers that are now coming online. For 
the last three years, the National Press Institute has worked with 
newspapers across Russia to develop online editions and even, as Mr. 
Bershidsky urges, to learn to support them with advertising revenues. 
Finally, Muscovites can get fresh information from across Russia without 
it being filtered through news services or the federal government. What is 
even more important is that it is becoming increasingly possible for people 
in, say, Chelyabinsk to get fresh information about developments in 
neighboring Yekaterinburg. It is a sad but true fact that even today, 
people in the regions know far more about what is happening in Moscow, or 
even New York, than they do about what is going on in the neighboring 
regions of Russia. With time, the Internet may solve this problem. 
Already, though, freeloaders like Mr. Bershidsky can get an eyeful of 
regional news from a number of important cities. To name just a few, try 
Bryanskoye Vremya from Bryansk at; the St. 
Petersburg student newspaper Gaudeamus at; Novy Stil 
in Saratov at; Vladivostok News at and Uralsky Rabochy in Yekaterinburg at 
There are, of course, many more to be found out there and more coming 
online each day. 

Robert Coalson 
National Press Institute 


Washington Post
23 February 1998
[for personal use only]
A Tough New Course in Moscow Schools: Manners
By Carol J. Williams
Los Angeles Times

MOSCOW--Vera Ignatieva's lecture on how proper young ladies accept an
invitation to dance was interrupted by a door slamming behind a tardy pupil.
Ignatieva halted the culprit in her tracks with a glare as powerful as a
stun gun.
"Is that any way for a cultured person to enter a room?" she demanded of
the trembling 7-year-old, arriving for a first lesson. "Go back outside and
try again -- this time in a civilized manner!"
Across town, the latecomer was slightly older, but the reproving glance
from Alena Gil was as withering as Ignatieva's. "You are late again, Vika.
And furthermore," said the appalled etiquette teacher, "how dare you come
into my classroom with gum in your mouth!"
Slammed doors, snapping jaws, slouchy posture and sloppy table manners
are under attack in places such as Ignatieva's Ballroom Dancing and Court
Etiquette School and the Institute for Noble Young Ladies, where Gil teaches
socially aspiring teens.
But after eight decades in which society put more stock in a young
person's skill handling a forklift than in his or her way with a salad fork,
the purveyors of polish at Russia's revitalized charm schools concede that
they have their work cut out for them.
Boorish behavior was a hallmark of the Bolshevik era, when civility was
thrashed by the coinciding brutalities of war, widespread poverty and social
leveling. The remnants of the Russian aristocracy fled abroad to escape
internal exile or execution.
In today's class-conscious new Russia, however, refinement is on the
rise, and those pondering careers in international business or diplomacy are
seeking to rectify their deficit of graces.
From social etiquette classes that have been added to public school
curricula to resurrected pre-revolutionary finishing schools such as those
within the New University of Humanities founded here by Natalia Nesterova,
there is growing interest -- and income -- in the teaching of proper manners.
"We could hardly have operated during the Communist era, when the very
concept of nobility was officially targeted for destruction," Nesterova
said. "But now that it is possible, it is all the more important that we
prepare a new generation of young women to be credits to their families, to
their future husbands, to their employers and most importantly, to themselves."
The Institute for Noble Young Ladies, which is one branch of her private
university, was reconstituted three years ago on the reputation of an
imperial-era boarding school that trained the daughters of wealthy merchants
and noblemen in the czar's court.
The institute now strives to incorporate the modern demands of society
into the structure of education in more traditional spheres, Nesterova said.
"In today's conditions, it is not wise for a woman to be without the
intellectual means to compete in the workplace, even if she expects to be a
homemaker," she said.
Sexology, family planning and body-shaping aerobics are also new twists
to the classic agenda, but they are additions graduates need to deal with
modern realities, Nesterova said.
Russian and foreign hiring executives say they are on the lookout for
employees with polish and that something as simple as a thank-you note after
an interview can affect their choices.
"Knowing how to present oneself is as important as professional and
technical knowledge," said Konstantin Korotov, head of personnel development
here for the international accounting firm of Ernst &amp; Young, which
employs 500 local professionals throughout the former Soviet republics.
For Nina Babicheva, 15, a charm school diploma is the ticket to the most
desirable social circles.
"I'm not very good at math or science. What I love here is the attention
to art and culture," said Babicheva, who is balancing the finishing school
program with her high school education. "I don't have any big career goals.
If I have to work, I think I'd like to be a journalist. But what I would
really like is to get married and be free to spend my whole day riding horses."
Private finishing schools like the institute remain beyond the means of
the vast majority of families, even at what might seem a reasonable tuition,
by Western standards, of $1,500 a year.
But programs tailored to local circumstances are growing alongside
charm-school courses for the well-heeled, including weekly etiquette classes
introduced in most elementary schools over the past two years. Young women
have expressed the most interest in learning social graces, but some schools
also aim to prepare boys for a more courtly environment.
"We are educating tomorrow's business and social leaders, and we cannot
do that properly with yesterday's practices," said Irina Sirina, vice
principal of Moscow Elementary School No. 184 in the far northern suburb of
Her school, like many other public institutions, has taken aim at the
surly behavior shown by older generations, in which even the most highly
educated can be found spitting on the sidewalks or hunkering down over their
dinner plates.
Ignatieva, who has been teaching ballroom dancing for 45 years and
etiquette since it became politically safe to do so about a decade ago,
accepts payment only as individual parents can afford it and relies on
connections with the artistic elite to cover the rest of her expenses.
"What is nobility, and how do you teach it?" Ignatieva asked. "Some are
born with it, but it can also be acquired through learning, and one of the
most elegant expressions of nobility is ballroom dancing."


>From Russia Today press summaries
Smena (St. Petersburg)
23 February 1998
Foreigners Are Not Afraid to Spoil Their Gene Pool by Adopting Russian Children
Russia's orphans are now a commodity, the daily said, and no one is
bothering to argue against it, or whether it is immoral. The daily said the
only remaining question is who is going to be in charge of selling them.
On Feb.10, the Independent Analytical Center conducted a poll of 700
people in Moscow and St. Petersburg. When asked who should be responsible
for arranging adoptions, 39 percent said that private organizations should
be allowed to do so and for money, while 38 percent said that only the state
should have the power to do so.
About one-third of the respondents said that poverty, alcoholism and
immorality are the reasons why there are so many orphans in Russia, and that
these qualities will likely remain in the future and lead to an ever-present
supply of orphans.
Thirty-four percent of respondents said the state is doing a poor job
taking care of orphans, but only 25 percent said they had ever thought of
adopting. Most cited fear of the child's genetic defects -- such as parental
alcoholism and other deviant behavior -- as the reason they did not want to
Anywhere from 250,000 to 500,000 Russian children are living in state
orphanages. The lack of an exact number -- different ministries and state
organizations constantly name different figures -- is one indication of the
lack of control and attention paid to their plight. Many of these "orphans"
in fact have at least one living parent. Both poverty and alcoholism lead
some parents to either voluntarily give up their child, or to have the state
place them in an institution. 


>From RIA Novosti
February 13, 1998

Today there are 29,150 state enterprises in Russia, which
have to be corporatised within two years, Vice-Premier of the
Russian Government, head of the Ministry for State Property
Farit Gazizullin told the two-day All-Russian session of the
heads of joint stock companies and representatives of the state
in joint stock companies, which was held in Moscow. 
According to the Vice-Premier, as a result of
corporatisation, 100 per cent of the shares of some enterprises
will remain with the state; however, they will be subsequently
sold out. In other cases, the Government intends to sell
directly the shares of enterprises that are due to be
corporatised. He stressed that as a result of these measures,
there must be left no more than 2,000 state enterprises, which
will function on the basis of state order. The process of
corporatisation and privatisation will be held "in an open and
transparent manner," stressed Farit Gazizullin. The main task
will be to take into account the interests of the enterprise
itself. It may be sold even at a symbolic price, "if it is
brought to the desired condition afterwards," said the
Farit Gazizullin said that the current legislation makes
it possible to "dilute" the role of the state in joint stock
companies and stressed that "tough requirements will be set for
representatives of the state in joint stock companies." 
Speaking at the same session, first deputy head of the
Ministry for State Property Alexander Braverman said that in
1997 there were privatised 3,353 enterprises in Russia and
federal budget revenues totalled 18,653.5 billion roubles.
According to him, 18,077.9 billion roubles are the receipts
from the privatisation of federal property and 575.7 billion
roubles are incomes from the management of federal property
(dividends on shares owned by the state and rentals).
Consequently, the budget target for 1997 was 180 per cent
Speaking about the results of last year, Braverman noted
that the gross domestic product of Russia in 1997 constituted
2,675 trillion roubles in current prices or 100.4 per cent in
relation to 1996. Moreover, as much as 75 per cent of the GDP
was secured from non-state companies, noted he. However,
stressed the first deputy head of the Ministry for State
Property, "it would be a big mistake to think that the movement
along the way of reform has become even and smooth." The
Russian economy's inconsiderable growth does not allow for the
conclusion on the irreversibility of the current
transformations. According to him, most of enterprises in the
defence complex are in a difficult position and the threat of
losing the valuable elements of the accumulated scientific and
technical potential is increasing. 
Apart from this, Braverman said that as of today there are
a total of 126,785 privatised enterprises or 58.9 per cent of
all the state enterprises as of the beginning of the process of
privatisation. The research has showed that by the basic
economic indicators joint stock companies outpace state
enterprises. He also said that the largest Russian joint stock
companies are advancing to the leading positions in the world
economy. Thus, in October 1997 RAO Gazprom, valued at $37
billion, entered the list of the world's 50 and Europe's 10
largest companies. Gazprom "left behind" such giants as General
Motors and Boeing, said Braverman. 
According to data cited by him, at present the state owns
4,866 packages of shares of joint stock companies and other
enterprises with mixed forms of ownership. Consequently, it can
be said that the state exercises full control of no more than 
25 per cent of joint stock companies through state stakes. In
other companies the state acts as an ordinary shareholder,
stressed he. 


Jamestown Foundation 
20 February 1998 Prism - Vol.IV, No.4

By Vladimir Mironov
Vladimir Alekseevich Mironov is a Senior Fellow of the Institute of
International Economic and Political Studies of the Russian Academy of
Sciences in Moscow.

The process of forming a new Russian state has had a brief history
-- a little over six years. Over this period, the weak
parliamentary-presidential constitutional federation which emerged from the
rubble of the Soviet Union has turned into an asymmetrical,
super-presidential federation formed, in part, on the basis of treaties with
the regions, with elements of confederation. This is hardly surprising, for
Russia's regions are going through various stages of political and economic
development -- post-industrial, industrial and even pre-industrial.
The destruction of the unitary Soviet system, whose defining
principles were monocentrism, centralism and universality, and its
replacement with a new, pluralistic system based on polycentrism, federalism
and differentiation of regional development, has led to a more complicated
domestic political and economic "space," and the appearance of new centers
of regional strength. Relations between the center and the regions are being
built through a complex process of negotiation, compromise and
"horse-trading" which takes into account the shifts in interests and
relative strengths of the various negotiating parties. Forty republics,
krais, oblasts and autonomies have so far signed treaties delimiting
jurisdiction and powers between themselves and the federal center, and more
are on the way.
Among the subjects of the Federation -- that is, the regions that
comprise the Russian Federation -- there are those which, by their
geographic position, economic significance, financial potential, ethnic
diversity or large population, exert a substantial influence on the central
One of the most influential of these "centers" is the Moscow region, which
includes two federation subjects -- the Russian capital and Moscow Oblast.
The Moscow city authorities have not yet put their relations with the
federal center onto a treaty basis. The Russian president has a
plenipotentiary representative in Moscow. But this federal official goes
virtually unnoticed. As a rule, the city government resolves all problems
that arise by direct negotiations with federal politicians: the president,
the prime minister, federal ministers, etc.
The system of government that exists in Moscow is built on a
separation of powers between its three branches, and on a system of checks
and balances. The city's mayor, Yury Luzhkov, elected by Muscovites in a
direct election in 1996, heads the executive branch.
Luzhkov has abundant power but also has to bear full responsibility.
Members of Luzhkov's staff say that, when issues are being discussed and
solutions are being sought, Luzhkov encourages the broadest possible
participation and the advancement of all kinds of proposals and ideas. Then
he makes the decisions himself.
In implementing these decisions, the city government does not rely
merely on its administrative power; it also uses the economic levers that
have appeared during the transition to a market economy. Moscow's government
minister in charge of protecting the environment, Leonid Bochin, says for
example that 267 industrial enterprises that were polluting the environment
were offered the chance to relocate away from the city's center "under
economically favorable conditions." Those that did not opt to leave were
subjected to tough environmental regulations.
The city's legislative branch is the Moscow City Duma, which has
thirty-five deputies, most of whom are members of democratic parties and
movements. It cooperates closely with the mayor's office. 
The city's judicial branch and the prosecutor general's office are
subordinated to the corresponding federal institutions. But appointments and
removals of the heads of these agencies are made by the federal authorities
only after consultation with the mayor.
The system of government is quite different in many of the other
federation subjects. Relations between the federal center and some
federation subjects are built on the basis of treaties delimiting
jurisdiction and authority. Some of these have an almost confederal
character (the treaties with Tatarstan, Bashkortostan and Yakutia-Sakha, for
example); other are governed exclusively by Russian constitutional norms.
Some republics have their own norms regulating the activity of the judicial
branch and the prosecutor general's office. For example, the president of
Bashkortostan appoints the republic's prosecutor general with the consent of
the Russian prosecutor general. According to the Russian constitution, it
should be the other way around -- a republic prosecutor should be appointed
by the Russian prosecutor general with the consent of the president of the
republic. The governments of several federation subjects have assumed
jurisdiction over areas which, in most federations, are the prerogative of
the central government. Some even claim the right to ratify international
treaties, declare martial law, or set up their own customs service.
The fact that the Russian constitution provides for joint
jurisdiction by the federal center and the regions on many vital issues is a
further complication. The absence of a clear dividing line between the
jurisdictions and responsibilities of the federal and provincial authorities
not only permits regions to grab some powers for themselves but also allows
both sides to shuffle off responsibility when really awkward problems crop up.
In some federation subjects, relations between provincial ministries
and their federal counterparts are built on agreements which clearly define
jurisdiction and the rules of interaction. The implementation of such
agreements nonetheless depends, to a significant degree, on the influence of
the leaders of the republics and regions.
In Russia, there is no vertical of representative-legislative power.
Each federation subject elects its own legislature, which is independent and
sovereign on those issues which the constitution assigns to its particular
competence. But in 19 of Russia's 21 republics, 29 of its 49 oblasts and
four of its ten autonomous okrugs, constitutional laws have been passed that
conflict with the Russian constitution.
In a number of federation subjects, moreover, the main political
issues -- the question of power, including economic power, and of property
-- have not been resolved. Executive and legislative branches disagree and
try to encroach on the other side's turf. This is one of the main reasons
why no clearly-defined system of regional government has yet been developed.
The smooth functioning of provincial government is also impeded by
the following factors:
* Often, there is a rivalry between the governor and the mayor of the
capital city of the province. This is the case in Primorsky Krai, Buryatia,
Udmurtia, and others.
* The role of the president's representative has not been clearly defined.
President Yeltsin has ruled that this official -- the highest ranking
federal official in each region -- should participate in all the region's
important personnel questions, supervise the disbursement of financial
resources sent from the center, and oversee the activity of federal bodies
located in the region. But Yeltsin's decision has met with fierce resistance
from the presidents and governors, who have done all they can to prevent the
president's representative from establishing himself. Dmitri Ayatskov,
governor of Saratov Oblast, has gone so far as to declare that, "If [the
president tries to boost the powers of his representative], I will liquidate
the post of presidential representative in the oblast, because it is
* Only ten regions are donors to the state budget. The federal center would
like to take the regions which receive the most subsidies under its direct
financial control, substantially reducing the possibilities of the
provincial leaderships. So far, it has not been able to do this.
* In a number of provinces, there is rivalry between several "centers of
strength" representing either sectoral (agricultural, military, fuel and
energy), territorial, or ethnic lobbies. 
Moscow's privileged position is determined by a number of factors:
* Moscow is not just the nation's capital. It has one of the nation's
largest industrial bases and is also the nation's financial center. It is
Russia's main transportation and communications hub, "pulling the country
together" into a whole with its railroad, highway, river and
telecommunications networks. Consequently, stability in this city has not
only local or regional, but also nationwide significance.
* The taxes paid by Moscow make up almost 40 percent of the income side of
the consolidated federal budget, making Moscow the biggest donor of all
federation subjects.
* Mayor Luzhkov has succeeded in putting together a highly professional
team. On the one hand, there has been very little turnover -- most of the
city's top leadership has worked together with the mayor since 1991-1992. On
the other, Luzhkov eagerly takes on competent, high-ranking politicians and
officials, some of whom have earlier been dismissed by the federal government.
* The mayor has wide-ranging ties with other provincial leaders throughout
Russia, and has concluded economic, scientific and cultural cooperation
agreements with dozens of cities. He is an influential member of the
Federation Council. He epitomizes that part of the Russian political elite
which has joined the "party of power" and speaks for a strong state role in
the national economy.
* Moscow is actively becoming integrated into the European and world
economy. The city is attracting foreign money for investment in contemporary
high-income economic projects and for the financing of the city's social
programs. It is already an important player in international money markets.
At the same time, Luzhkov, by supporting the expansion of the
network of branches of Moscow banks into the Russian republics and regions,
is trying to create a banking consortium -- "Golden Ring" -- which will
attract Russian and foreign credits, under the guarantee of the city
government, which can then be invested in profitable construction projects.
In conclusion, in response to the question of whether or not it is
possible to create a single system of government which would be the same in
every federation subject, one may say that this will be impossible as long
as substantial differences persist between the republics, krais and oblasts.

Translated by Mark Eckert


Voice of America








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