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Johnson's Russia List
25 February 1998
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Reuters: Russia may need decade to improve jails-official.
2. Reuters: Iraq deal shows ``zero sum'' Cold War is over-Russia.
3. The Guardian (UK): Tom Whitehouse, Russia cashes in on peace.
4. Renfrey Clarke: RUSSIA: MILITARY OPPOSITION WEIGHS INTO PASKO CASE.
5. Jeffrey Surovell: Reply to Kern on lend-lease.
6. Robert Leavitt: Vladimir Lukin on Russian reaction to NATO expansion.
7. Leonid Dobrokhotov: Russia's military opposition.
8. Itar-Tass: Officials View Yeltsin's Plans for Administrative Reform.
9. Itar-Tass: Nemtsov Urges Demonopolization of Russian Electronic Media.
10. Radiostantsiya Ekho Moskvy: Lebed Gives Reasons For Running in
11. Moscow Times: David McHugh, Chernomyrdin Courts Public on TV.
12. Journal of Commerce: John Helmer, Russians play down Azeri oil-flow
13. RFE/RL NEWSLINE: FEW VETERANS LEFT IN PRESIDENTIAL ADMINISTRATION,
YELTSIN STILL WANTS TO SCRAP PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION...BUT NDR CONSIDERS
THAT CHANGE 'PREMATURE.']
Russia may need decade to improve jails-official
By Adam Tanner
MOSCOW, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Russia expects to transfer its crowded and
insanitary prisons from police to civilian control by June 1, but it is likely
to take a decade before conditions approach those in the West, officials said
The expected June 1 transfer, announced by Interior and Justice Ministry
officials at a news conference, comes days after parliament ratified the
European Convention on Human Rights and the European anti-torture convention.
``The goal in reforming the prison system is to bring them as close as
possible to international standards,'' Interior Minister Anatoly Kulikov said
after meeting justice ministry officials.
Amnesty International last year alleged torture was widespread in Russian
prisons -- even the overcrowding itself amounted to torture, it said. Interior
ministry officials themselves acknowledge many prisons are overstretched and
Russia was obliged to remove control of prisons from the interior ministry
after it joined the Council of Europe in 1996.
President Boris Yeltsin last October ordered the transfer of the prison
to the Justice Ministry but officials say it will take a long time before
``Miracles don't happen overnight and the transfer process will not
immediate changes to the situation inside prisons,'' Vyacheslav Bubnov, in
charge of prisons at the Interior Ministry, told Reuters. ``It will take at
least seven to 10 years before conditions approach European standards.''
Those arrested but who have not faced trial routinely face oppressive
conditions and overcrowding, officials say. The state can hold people for up
to two years before a trial begins and the time can be extended once the trial
is under way.
``The pre-trial detention centres are the most serious problem,'' said
Minister Sergei Stepashin.
``So we have agreed with the prosecutor-general's office and the interior
ministry to a series of changes to the existing criminal code,'' said
Stepashin. ``Part of these changes include the period of allowed pre-trial
Parliament was likely to consider the changes next month.
The worst pre-trial detention centres cram eight people into space designed
for two, said Bubnov. ``This is a Russian paradox. They have not gone to trial
but they are living in worse conditions than those already sentenced,'' he
Official figures show about one in 10 Russian prisoners has tuberculosis.
Average cell space per detainee is just two square metres (yards), half the
European minimum. In some cells in some jails, it is as little as half a
square metre, officials say.
Pre-trial detention can last years. Few are let out on bail. So nearly a
of Russia's total prison population is made up of those yet to be found
guilty. Russia has a million prisoners, some 10 times more per capita than in
much of western Europe.
Bubnov said the transfer of control from the Interior to Justice Ministry
would provide 20 percent of the solution to improving conditions, but the rest
was dependent on funding.
On the sidelines of the meeting, officials could look over displays of
produce, including bears carved from walrus tusk and traditional painted
``We're trying to boost the quantity of output,'' said Anatoly Baikov, head
specialist of the prison marketing department. ``But no one forces them to
work and they get paid for their labour.''
Iraq deal shows ``zero sum'' Cold War is over-Russia
MOSCOW, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Russia, seeking an important international role
after losing the Cold War, hailed the United Nations' deal with Iraq on
Tuesday as proof that a half-century of confrontational ``zero sum games''
between East and West were a thing of the past.
``No one has lost and everyone has gained,'' Foreign Ministry spokesman
Gennady Tarasov said when asked to name the winners and losers from a deal
which aims to ensure Iraq keeps promises to disarm while averting U.S.-led
``We should all forget the legacy of the past, these zero sum games,''
told reporters, when asked if the diplomatic cliff-hanger of recent weeks over
Iraq's resistance to unlimited arms inspections was a new form of Cold War.
``This...may set a very positive example for the future, how acting
we can resolve the most delicate and serious international crises without
resorting to force.
``This only underscores the importance of diplomacy in the new era in
all live now,'' said Tarasov.
Some commentators have characterised U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's
compromise in Baghdad as a victory for those, like France, Russia and China,
anxious to restrain the United States, now that Washington's military and
economic might is no longer checked by a hostile Soviet superpower.
But Russia, while claiming a pivotal role in championing a diplomatic
to the crisis, has been careful to avoid appearing to declare a victory over
its new American allies.
``We're not in this business of who came first and who wins,'' Tarasov
``The whole international community, through active diplomacy, has gained a
25 February 1998
[for personal use only]
Russia cashes in on peace
By Tom Whitehouse in Moscow
The Russian government, presenting Kofi Annan's agreement with Iraq as a
victory for Kremlin diplomacy, began yesterday to capitalise on its
higher diplomatic profile in the Middle East.
The focus of interest for the Russian nuclear energy and oil industries
is the business opportunities the deal presents. With an end to UN
sanctions on Iraq now being considered, the estimated $10 billion worth
of contracts that Russian companies have signed to develop Saddam's
dilapidated oil fields are more than pipe dreams.
"Many things are now promised to Russia, including invitations to begin
oil exploration, and paying off Soviet-era debts worth $8-12 billion,"
said Sergei Kazyonov, of Moscow's Institute of National Security and
Russian oil companies have bought most of the oil Iraq has been
permitted to export under its "oil for food" deal and they stand to
benefit most from the UN decision to raise Saddam's permitted oil
exports from $2 billion ( £1.3 billion) to $5.2 billion ( £3.2 billion).
"This new resolution has made available additional opportunities for
broadening Russian companies' participation in purchasing Iraqi oil,
where they are already playing a leading role, and in supplying
humanitarian aid to Iraq," said foreign ministry spokesman Gennady
Russia's opposition to military action against Iraq is paying other
dividends. Further Russian involvement in Iran's nuclear power sector
will be on the agenda at talks in Moscow today between Iran's foreign
minister, Kamal Kharrazi, and Russia's Yevgeny Primakov.
Last Saturday, nuclear energy minister Viktor Mikhailov confirmed
Russia's $780 million contract to build a 1,000MW light-water reactor at
Bushehr on Iran's Persian Gulf coast, despite US and Israeli fears that
Iran could use the power station as cover for a nuclear missile project.
In Syria, too, Russia's nuclear energy ministry is set to provide
equipment and expertise in a deal announced last Sunday.
Russia's enhanced Middle East profile may be seen as a vindication of Mr
Primakov's diplomacy. Though presented in US media as a Saddam stooge,
it was Mr Primakov, at Kofi Annan's request, who persuaded Saddam to
back down from insisting on a time limit to inspections of his
Date: Wed, 25 Feb 1998
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Renfrey Clarke)
Subject: pasko case update
#RUSSIA: MILITARY OPPOSITION WEIGHS INTO PASKO CASE
#MOSCOW - In Russia, anyone who blows the whistle on the
mishandling of radioactive waste can expect at least passing
attention from the security forces. If the waste comes from naval
reactors, and the whistle-blower is a serving or retired military
officer, the persecution can involve treason charges carrying a
20-year prison term.
#That much has been apparent for years. A new twist, however, is
that within Russia's much-put-upon officer corps there is now
enough anger to ensure that such cases can evoke sharp opposition
not just from environmentalists, but within military circles as
#Since November Captain Grigory Pasko, a journalist on the
newspaper of the Russian navy's pacific fleet, has been held on
charges of ``betraying the homeland through espionage''. In a
case that has much in common with the internationally notorious
prosecution of St Petersburg nuclear safety activist, retired
navy Captain Aleksandr Nikitin, Pasko is accused of having
gathered secret materials and transmitted them to representatives
of a foreign organisation.
#The victimisation of Pasko, who is based in the Pacific port
city of Vladivostok, has now met with stinging criticism from the
recently-emerged Movement for the Defence of the Army, Defence
Industry and Military Science. Founded last year by retired
General Lev Rokhlin, this movement is centred on retired military
officers hostile to the Russian government's plans for big
cutbacks in defence spending. Rokhlin's organisation is also
considered to reflect the views of many serving officers.
#Even before his arrest, Pasko was no stranger to the attentions
of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), the main successor to
the KGB. Since 1992, he has investigated the role of private
companies in dumping radioactive waste from the Pacific Fleet's
nuclear reactors. In 1993 he filmed a Russian tanker dumping
radioactive materials in the Sea of Japan, precipitating a
scandal when the film was later shown on Japanese television.
#Despite harassment, Pasko continued to collect materials on the
question of nuclear waste, and to publish articles based on them.
Last autumn, as part of this work, he visited the district
Department of Agriculture. There, he had expected to conduct an
interview, but was instead given a sheaf of documents. More were
provided to him during a subsequent visit to the offices of the
Shipbuilders Trade Union.
#None of these documents were marked as secret. Meaning to work
on them, Pasko took them with him on November 13 when he set off
to fly to Japan, where he was to research an article on Russian
war graves. But as he passed through customs at Vladivostok
airport, he was searched and the documents were seized. When he
returned on November 20 he was arrested.
#According to Rear-Admiral German Ugryumov, the head of the
Pacific Fleet's FSB unit, the materials which the agriculture
officials and the trade union had given Pasko contained ``secret
information... linked to the battle-readiness of the fleet, the
carrying out of particular exercises, the nuclear complex of the
Pacific Fleet, and so forth.''
#Once, such a case would automatically have been played out in
line with the FSB's script, protests from environmentalists
notwithstanding. But in recent times, political moods in the
Russian military have become less and less pro-regime. On
February 9 retired Rear-Admiral Yury Maksimenko, until recently
head of intelligence for the Pacific Fleet, appeared on
Vladivostok television and vehemently attacked most of the FSB's
``proofs'' of Pasko's guilt.
#In Maksimenko's view, the real reason why Pasko had been
arrested had nothing to do with espionage. Instead, it stemmed
from the fact that the post of editor of the fleet's newspaper
was about to fall vacant, while Pasko was one of the leading
contenders for the job.
#Maksimenko, it is clear, was not acting solely on his own
initiative. He is the head of the local division of Rokhlin's
Movement in Support of the Army, and is also a spokesperson for
the Council of Fleet Veterans.
#On February 10 Pasko's lawyers held a press conference,
detailing how the FSB had repeatedly breached their client's
rights. Pasko had been interrogated virtually non-stop throughout
the night following his arrest. When his apartment was searched
and more materials seized, he was not present. In clear violation
of the Criminal Code, the public defenders had been denied the
chance to familiarise themselves with documents bearing on the
investigation. Through his statements to the press, fleet FSB
chief Ugryumov had placed improper pressures on the
#Meanwhile, are state secrets indeed contained in the documents
Pasko had in his possession? The task of ruling on this question
has been assigned to the Main Administration of the General Staff
of the Defence Ministry. ``This organisation is merely
responsible for the safekeeping of secret documents,'' supporters
of the jailed journalist pointed out in a recent statement. ``It
does not have experts qualified to determine whether state
secrets are present in documents that do not have the
#The statement went on to note that the Main Administration of
the General Staff has a bad record on environmental questions. In
particular, it has ``issued a series of orders to classify
information on the environment as secret, a move that contravenes
the laws `On the Protection of the Natural Environment' and `On
Information, its Dissemination and Protection.'''
#Pasko's lawyers are now suing to have a different organisation
decide the question of whether the seized documents contain state
#Efforts are also continuing to win Pasko's release from prison.
An earlier plea was turned down by the Military Court of the
Pacific Fleet, despite evidence that Pasko suffers from a chronic
#Like the case of Aleksandr Nikitin, the FSB's campaign to
``nail'' Pasko has been virtually ignored by Moscow newspapers
wary of antagonising the security forces. This is despite the
alarming implications of the case for press freedom.
#Russia's environmentalists, however, are made of sterner stuff
than its media editors. The foundation Eko-Logos, one of the best
known environmental organisations in Russia's Far East, has
worked tirelessly to defend Pasko. Postings by Eko-Logos on e-
mail bulletins have provided the main Russia-wide source of
information on the case.
#Now that the Movement for the Defence of the Army has moved to
defend Pasko, there is a real possibility that the case will win
the notoriety it deserves. For Russia's aggrieved military,
raising a scandal over the persecution by the FSB of a navy
journalist makes considerable sense.
#As the armed forces have grown increasingly alienated from the
government, the FSB has remained closely aligned with it;
consequently, a falling-out between the military and the security
forces has only been a matter of time. In denouncing the charges
against Pasko, Rokhlin's movement and the officers for whom it
speaks have the chance to be seen standing up for environmental
protection, press freedom and the rights of accused persons,
against security police who are seen as fronting up for unpopular
#After their joyless experience with Nikitin, Russia's security
forces may have lit up another exploding cigar. It will be ironic
if this time, their main foes are other elements within the
country's ``power ministries''.
Date: Wed, 25 Feb 1998
From: Jeffrey Surovell <email@example.com>
Subject: Reply to Kern
Gary Kern's response to my piece on lend-lease and Moscow so obvi-
ously missed the point that it hardly seems necessary to rebut it.
Anyway, he insists that it is not a question whether the Soviet
people fought, suffered, and died, but whether US aid made a crucial
difference, that I claimed that nothing the USA did in the war
deserves credit. Did you read my piece, Gary? If you did, you would
have noticed that I explicitly state that US and Western aid in
fact "helped significantly." If that is not giving credit, I don't
know what is. In fact, Kern's piece is typical of what I believe is
the disturbingly myopic mainstream, pro-Westernism which claims to
What is more, the analogy of the man fighting the crocodile is
totally misplaced, if only because the real issue I raised (and
which Kern does not refute) is that we cannot simply look at the
amount of aid sent, but must view it in its historical context,
that is, that focusing solely on the amount of aid ignores the
preceding developments which were critical to the Soviet Union's
being forced to face the fascists virtually alone, at least until
1943. A more correct analogy would be: a person is confronted by
someone with a weapon in a train (on a street, etc.) and begs others
to help her/him before the person can draw the weapon and attack.
If they would agree, the attack would be nipped in the bud. By
refusing to come to the person's aid, therefore, the person with
the weapon attacks, and does serious damage, weakening the person
attacked, who eventually recovers and is able to take the offensive
and begin to repel the attacker. Only at this time do the onlookers
come to the person's aid, but this time tossing her/him a knife--
but only after that person has fended off the initial, most
serious attacks, and is taking the offensive. To be sure, the
knife they toss makes a big difference in the defender's ultimate
success in warding off the attacker. But the key point is that
they stood by and refused to give major assistance until the tide
had turned, and only after the person attacked had sustained
Finally, I repeat that I was directing my criticism at those
who were contending that the huge Western aid really won the war,
or at those who even claimed that credit for winning the war should
be apportioned equally among the Soviets and the Western powers.
This, I repeat, is a travesty of what really happened. The Soviet
pepeople broke the back of fascism and its core, Nazi Germany, with,
it is true, major assistance from the West. But when we examine
the history of that assistance, we cannot escape from the conclu-
sion that it was tinged with questionable actions on the part of
Date: Tue, 24 Feb 1998 23:31:50 -0500
From: Robert Leavitt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Lukin: Russian reaction to NATO expansion
Global Reporting Network - Center for War, Peace, and the News Media
February 24, 1998
Contact: Robert Leavitt - 617/497-7377
PRESS BRIEFING: THE RUSSIAN REACTION TO NATO EXPANSION
U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Madelaine Albright and
Senators from both parties, have stated recently that expanding membership
in NATO will benefit Russia and that Russian officials have little
objection to it. Vladimir Lukin, chairman of the Russian Duma's Committee
on International Affairs, contradicted this assertion during a press
conference on February 24.
"It is not the truth," he told 16 reporters who participated in a
teleconference hosted by the Global Reporting Network of New York
University's Center for War, Peace, and the News Media. "Of course we are
offended" by NATO enlargement. He said that expanding the alliance is
"dangerous," that it is "isolating Russia, and that it "will strengthen the
nationalist forces in Russia."
Lukin, who served as the Russian ambassador to the United States from 1992
to 1993, is one of the leaders of "Yabloko" faction in the Russian
government. Earlier in his career, Lukin served as an analyst at the
Institute for the USA and Canada studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences
for nearly two decades.
Lukin briefed the journalists on the Russian reaction to NATO expansion in
light of larger concerns about NATO and U.S. policies -- including the
current tensions surrounding U.S. policy toward Iraq.
"We are interested in the triumph of democracy in the Northern Hemisphere,"
he said. "We want a secure democracy from the Atlantic to Vladivostok. But
we feel isolated and neglected. We want to act as a responsible partner in
the world community. But not separately."
"We need to be respected," he added. "Our security problems are not less
than the security problems of France, Britain or Poland. The selective
entrance into NATO -- that is the problem."
Lukin took questions from the journalists for about an hour. Some asked him
about the recent showdown with Saddam Hussein and Russia's position. Most
addressed the issue of NATO expansion. The following is an edited
transcript of the Q&A session.
Boston Globe: "If the United States attempts a military action or tries to
overthrow Saddam Hussein, what will be the effect on Russian-U.S. relations
and NATO enlargement?"
Lukin: "It would be a big mistake if the U.S. was offended by Russian
policy toward Iraq or another country.... Russia's policy toward Iraq is
not only Russia's policy -- we coincide with many other countries,
including U.S. allies." Lukin stressed that he is "pro-American" but
criticized the United States for staking out a unilateral, hard-line
position regarding Iraq. He said the best approach is a multilateral one.
With regard to NATO, "Of course we are offended" by NATO enlargement, he
said. "We have reasons to be unhappy. It is not the best way to be
partners. Being partners means consulting with each other."
Arms Control Today: "How do you assess the NATO-Russian permanent joint
council? Does it provide Russia with an adequate voice at the NATO table?"
Lukin: "That depends on how the council will work. I'm glad we have it. But
if the council is simply a rubber stamp, putting its stamp on previous
decisions of NATO, it means nothing. It would be just form, not substance."
Lukin suggested that the idea of any country attacking a NATO country was
absurd given today's international political climate. "What is NATO
security? In accordance with Article 5, if a NATO country is attacked there
will be a joint counterattack. That is tantamount to an attack from outer
He cited instead what he considered to be "real" security threats to
Europe. "There are new risks: Albania, Yugoslavia, drugs, organized crime.
We have to discuss the real problems of European security together. If the
mechanism is effective to solve these problems it will be good. If we are
outsiders and don't participate, we will make our security on our own."
Knight Ridder: "Will Russia work with the United States on establishing new
leadership in Iraq? How can we resolve Russian feelings of isolation?"
Lukin: "The Soviet Union tried to establish different regimes in different
countries and I'm not happy about it. We even tried in the United States.
We were defeated and I don't want to repeat it. I would prefer that the
Iraqi people resolve the situation. Any regime introduced from the outside
is usually a problem."
He then addressed the question of Russian isolation. "Of course Russia will
not introduce another Iron Curtain’ or respond militarily, but Russia
[could] be the most valuable strategic partner of the United States in the
next century. What happens in Asia -- with China -- and Europe ... needs to
be resolved. Russia is the most important country" the U.S. could work with.
San Francisco Chronicle: "U.S. officials have been saying that Russia has
no objections to NATO enlargement."
Lukin: "It is not the truth. But I'm not saying we think NATO will invade
Russia tomorrow. The problem is whether Russia is considered part of the
Atlantic community or not. Russia will have to decide how it is being
considered -- as an equal partner or an outsider.
"NATO enlargement is isolating Russia. What is the choice for us? Only to
be an outsider. Not a hostile outsider, but still an outsider. It is a
danger. We will become stronger, and we are still a nuclear power. It is a
danger to us and a danger to you. A few years ago there was the idea of
partnership, now there is a strong hesitation in the United States."
National Public Radio: "How will NATO enlargement affect the Start II vote
in the Duma?"
Lukin: "The United States neglected our strategic concerns. How can we
reduce our most powerful strategic weapons when relations are put into
question? It is not a problem strategically, but psychologically it is a
"I think [a positive vote in the Duma] is possible, but it is a long way
ahead.... The lack of confidence is an important thing."
Slovak News Agency: "Three countries were chosen to become new NATO
members, but Slovakia was not chosen. Is that because it leans to the East?
[Senator} Joe Biden says the inclusion of the three new countries enhances
Russian security. What do you think?"
Lukin: "I cannot say Slovakia is more oriented toward the East or the West.
It is more oriented toward Slovakia...."
Lukin believes NATO expansion is creating new dividing lines across Europe:
"In the early 90s there was talk of a common European home, with no
dividing lines. There are now dividing lines between countries that are in
NATO and new potential partners. Next, there are dividing lines between
NATO and the rejected countries, such as Ukraine. Then there are dividing
lines between countries like Ukraine and Russia."
"Why are we producing such dividing lines? That is why I am against such a
strategy. I'm not against NATO but you can destroy it by over-enlarging it.
The same thing happened to Rome. Russia and Sweden both are not members of
NATO and participate in the European effort to enforce security. Why does
the Czech Republic need to be a member?"
Slovak News Agency: "What about Joe Biden's assumption that the three new
countries in NATO enhances the security of Russia?"
Lukin: "Biden is a not more able to speak for Russian security than me or
Boris Yeltsin. But if you do not enlarge NATO I am ready to consider that
Russia has less security."
Washington Times: "The new message out of the [Clinton] administration is
that NATO enlargement is good for Russia because it guarantees democratic
stability in those countries. Secretary of State Albright said today that
the United States can build a true partnership with Russia but not by
denying a dozen more European countries membership in NATO."
Lukin: The administration "is not taking into account Russian opinion. It
thinks Russia should be happy about [NATO enlargement]."
Washington Times: "What about the idea of a dozen more European states in
Lukin: "If you include the Baltic nations you will make a big mistake.... I
don't know any one reasonable person who can believe that the United States
or any other NATO country would agree to wage war with a nuclear power to
defend the borders between Estonia and Russia. Ethnic Russians live in
Estonia near that border. Joining the Baltic countries to NATO means the
end of the credibility of NATO. Over-enlarging NATO will destroy NATO; it
makes it less credible. It will be very offensive to Russia. It will
strengthen the nationalist forces in Russia."
National Security News Service (Washington): "You said the Start II Treaty
ratification may be a long way ahead. Will the Duma vote by the middle of
this year? The U.S. Senate is unwilling to ratify any other nuclear treaty
until the Duma votes on Start II."
Lukin: "It is impossible to say what the timeline is. Enlargement of course
antagonizes the Duma. It is possible there will be a vote on Start II
within the next several months, not years."
*For more information on the debate over NATO expansion, check out the
Global Beat: http://www.nyu.edu/globalbeat
Robert Leavitt, Associate Director
Center for War, Peace, and the News Media (Boston Office)
5 Upland Road, Suite 3
Cambridge, MA 02140 USA
Web site: http://www.nyu.edu/globalbeat
Date: Mon, 23 Feb 1998
From: Leonid N. Dobrokhotov (NDobrokhot@aol.com)
Subject: Russia's military opposition
I believe that Renfrey Clarke made a very strong point in his "RUSSIA:
OPPOSITION TO DEFENCE CUTS POSES THREAT TO GOVERNMENT" (JRL #2069, 19
February 1998). Nevertheless let me disagree with his statement that
"People such as Rokhlin and retired general Alexandr Lebed...are reluctant
to have dealings with Russia's largest opposition force, the Communist
Party of the Russian Federation... KPRF leadership, which has recently
shifted its tactics toward a compromise with the government on key economic
issues, is said by parliamentary sources to regard Rokhlin as too radical.
Commentators have recently predicted that the KPRF will join with
pro-government forces in the parliament to try to oust Rokhlin from his
position at the head of the defence committee".
In reality, as opposed to the whispers and predictions, Zyuganov's
communists are cooperating with Rokhlin and his movement quite
successfully. The last example is impressive 30,000 strong manifestation in
Moscow on Lybyanka Square February 22, organized by KPRF and Rokhlin's
Union for the Defence of the Army and Military Industry, where both leaders
were speaking (see: Reuters report, JRL #2075, 23 February 1998). At the
Communist Party' WEB site www.KPRF.ru you may read a transcript of the
joint press conference on February 11, where Zyuganov fully supported
Pokhlin's Union goals, him personally and his role as a Duma's defence
committee head, denied all media allegations to the contrary. From his
side, Rokhlin thanked KPRF for the "critically important backing".
You may learn from the same official party source also, that February 19
the Agreement on Coordination of Actions between National Patriotic Forces
led by Gennady Zyuganov and Rokhlin's Union for the Defence for the Army
was concluded. In accordance to the report, members of this coalition has
agreed to coordinate their activities not only in Moscow, but at all
regions of the country. The understanding was achieved also on systematic
joint rallies carrying out and mutual support for the undertaking of the
"actions, directed on the fight against anti-popular policy following in
If to speak on Lebed as I know he has no practical relations both with
Rokhlin and Zyuganov.
Concerning Zyuganov's cooperation with the government on economic
issues, as JRL readers full aware, at the last period it takes reverse
drive and now KPRF leader is arguing with Yeltsin's policy quite critically
Officials View Yeltsin's Plans for Administrative Reform
MOSCOW, February 19 (Itar-Tass) -- The conceptual framework of the
administration reform, mentioned in the message of President Boris Yeltsin
to the Federal Assembly, suggests the liquidation of the posts of two first
deputy prime ministers, Georgy Satarov, one of the authors of the message,
It is not known so far what will happen to the remaining deputy prime
The planned reform provides for the changing of the structure of state
power, the making of the government structure more precise and the putting
into effect of an anti-corruption programme, Satarov said. He added that
the purpose of the reform was "to make the Russian government a normal
government," because "there are no other countries in the world with such a
conglomeration of structures" without strict definition of their spheres of
His opinion is shared by Duma Speaker Gennadiy Seleznev. "There seems
to be no other country in the world with two first deputy prime ministers
and several ordinary deputy prime ministers to be added to them," he told
Tass, adding that he fully supported the President in his intention "to
create a more compact government structure." "It is necessary to raise the
degree of responsibility of federal ministers for the actions of their
agencies," Seleznyov said.
The conceptual framework was not included in the presidential message
consisting of 65 pages. The only thing the message said on that subject
was that federal ministries should become the "supporting elements" of the
government. Moscow observers believe that this confirms the intention to
liquidate in the future the posts of deputy prime ministers, who
"supervise" various ministries and actually control them together with
"It is vitally important to pass over to a model, in which federal
ministries will become real support elements of the Russian government and
will be really and publicly responsible for the effective implementation of
the state policy in the spheres of management, controlled by them," the
"The problem is to create a government functioning as a cabinet of
ministers," the President explained.
Mikhail Krasnov, his aide for legal issues, actually admitted that the
conceptual framework, which is expected to be published within two or three
weeks, raises the question of the liquidation of the posts of deputy prime
ministers. "The institution of deputy prime ministers will be regarded only
from the point of view of a new status of ministers themselves," he said.
Krasnov stressed that no dramatic changes in the government structure
were planned, since they may hamper the economic growth, envisaged for the
"It would be nice to have a compact governing structure right now, but
if we start promoting the economic growth simultaneously with implementing
the administrative reform, it may not work," Krasnov said.
According to Krasnov, the reform is planned to be implemented within
the period ending in 2005 or 2007. The draft conceptual framework should
become a topic of broad public discussion prior to its final approval by
Nemtsov Urges Demonopolization of Russian Electronic Media
MOSCOW, February 20 (Itar-Tass) -- Russia's First Deputy Prime
Minister Boris Nemtsov said on Friday he believed that the state and
private electronic media must pay for communications according to the same
rates, which will result in their real demonopolization.
"Single tariffs must be established for all electronic companies
broadcasting to all parts of the country," Nemtsov emphasized.
"This should not depend on political relations. All companies, be
they state or private, must pay in the same way," he said at the
According to Nemtsov, this will cause a "true demonopolization on the
media market, and talks on any control over mass media will die down by
He also expressed opinion that the Anti-Monopoly committee and the
government must analyze the situation with "an active buying up" of local
electronic mass media, to prevent its monopolization.
"When getting (these media- ed) into their hands, separate persons or
groupings may influence the public opinion," Nemtsov emphasized.
Lebed Gives Reasons For Running in Krasnoyarsk Elections
Radiostantsiya Ekho Moskvy
18 February 1998
[translation for personal use only]
The former secretary of the Security Council, Aleksandr Lebed, is to
stand for election as governor of Krasnoyarsk Territory. The politician
says this post is for him a goal in itself and not a launch pad for the
presidential election in the year 2000. General Lebed said that if he were
to be elected governor, he would be prepared to put his future at the
disposal of the inhabitants of Krasnoyarsk Territory. Correspondent Vadim
Kondakov reports in more detail on this.
[Begin recording] [Kondakov] Evidently weary of political skirmishing
in the capital, Aleksandr Lebed has decided to put Krasnoyarsk Territory on
its feet. So for this reason he has, after all, joined in the election
race for the post of governor of this Siberian region. Here, as he put it,
there is no room for any political ambitions or personal desires. It is
just that, with the passage of time, Aleksandr Ivanovich has learnt a lot
and come to understand a lot -- after which he came to the conclusion that
his work is there, in the Russian provinces.
[Lebed] I am going to Siberia to do some work. All the banalities
that are being said about me -- including suggestions that it is a testing
ground for me, or that I want to use somebody, to make hay there, to steal
some advantage -- are just silly. I am going to Siberia to work. I intend
to entrust my future entirely to the Krasnoyarsk people. If they decide
that at some stage I ought to leave, then I will do that. If they do not,
I will continue running the Territory. I intend to make Krasnoyarsk
Territory a strong region.
[Kondakov] Aleksandr Lebed regards the present governor, Valeriy
Zubov, and the candidate of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation,
Petr Romanov, as his main rivals in the election campaign. The former
secretary of the Security Council is not over- ambitious and will accept
any share of the vote, so long as it brings him victory in the election.
Lebed did not make any fine sounding or flowery pronouncements. He did not
even take advantage of the huge number of journalists present to promise
people who vote for him heaps of gold. He merely remarked that, as
governor, he would be prepared to cooperate with all would-be entrepreneurs
for the sake of the region's prosperity. He was also willing to cooperate
with the government. Lebed is clearly not indifferent toward some members
[Lebed] I will cooperate with everybody. I have already stated my
position. As to the young reformers, a ludicrous thing has happened. We
have gone so far that we have started distributing functions and powers in
the worst possible way, the one used in the Army when everything was
provided with a label: A TV set, a toilet. Everything had a label and a
soldier responsible for it. Or like in a kindergarten -- you, Tolya, make
sure no one takes the scoop, and you, Borya, make sure nobody swings on the
cupboard door. The same has happened here. This is no way to manage
things. This is not a system of management. In my view, it's a system for
finding scapegoats. As soon as they fail, their failure will be obvious to
everybody. Then the principle of "I told you so" will apply.
[Kondakov] Aleksandr Lebed modestly said nothing about his intention
to stand as a candidate in the forthcoming presidential elections, merely
noting that he would do whatever the inhabitants of Krasnoyarsk Territory
told him to do. Evidently his words should be taken to mean that if the
people grow fond of their governor and prove unwilling to release him,
Lebed will have to abandon the presidency -- for at least another four
years. [end recording]
It only remains for me to say that the gubernatorial election in
Krasnoyarsk Territory is scheduled for 26 April.
For more articles from The Moscow Times, check out their website at
February 25, 1998
Chernomyrdin Courts Public on TV
By David McHugh
Viktor Chernomyrdin, Russia's not-exactly-telegenic prime minister, will
get his own weekly TV show, during which he will answer questions from
the public, a government spokesman said Tuesday.
Chernomyrdin, whose bland manner and speech are occasionally made fun of
in the Russian media, would answer questions from the public during the
15- to 20-minute show, said spokesman Igor Shabdurasulov.
He said the show fulfilled President Boris Yeltsin's call for "a
dialogue, for informing the public about what the government is doing,
The idea is for the show to be live, Shabdurasulov said, but time
pressures might lead to some shows being taped. Shabdurasulov said the
day and time of the show's broadcast were being worked out, and that
Thursday or Sunday evening was a possibility.
Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov and some provincial governors already have
similar shows, he said.
Chernomyrdin is a potential presidential candidate in 2000, and a TV
show would give him exposure. One analyst, however, said the show was
more likely to be a hot seat than a bully pulpit.
"This is no favor for Chernomyrdin," said Andrei Piontkovsky, head of
the Institute for Strategic Studies in Moscow. "Every week he will have
to explain why things are going so badly in the country. And he's no
Piontkovsky said the show was probably not Chernomyrdin's idea and that
it could be related to Yeltsin's recent calls for more public
accountability from his ministers. In his state-of-the-nation speech
last week, Yeltsin said economic goals would be met or the government
would be replaced.
State television channel RTR, which will broadcast the show, is
generally seen as promoting Chernomyrdin rivals First Deputy Prime
Ministers Anatoly Chubais and Boris Nemtsov.
Chernomyrdin had been seen as gaining influence in December and January,
as Chubais was tainted by a book-royalty scandal and he and Nemtsov lost
some of their duties. But on Feb. 5, Yeltsin reaffirmed his support for
Yeltsin, a potential candidate for another term despite his history of
heart trouble, likes to keep ministers and potential successors off
balance by frequently reshuffling his administration.
Chernomyrdin, a former head of the Soviet natural-gas monopoly, favors a
slower pace of economic reform than do Chubais and Nemtsov, who were
brought into the government last year to push Yeltsin's stalled economic
While a skilled bureaucratic infighter, Chernomyrdin is not a brilliant
speaker. Examples of his speaking style include this December assessment
of his fifth anniversary in office: "If one considers what could have
been done, and then what we did do over this long time, one can conclude
that something was done."
But his homespun phrases are often persuasive in the communist-dominated
State Duma, parliament's lower house, where he is well-regarded.
Journal of Commerce
February 25, 1998
[for personal use only]
Russians play down Azeri oil-flow problem
BY JOHN HELMER
JOURNAL OF COMMERCE SPECIAL
MOSCOW -- Russian officials and industry sources Tuesday attempted to
clarify a political dispute over the flow of oil from Azerbaijan's
Caspian Sea sources.
Russian officials said any disruption in oil flow was not based on any
strategic political design.
Instead, they said, the dispute centers on whether oil produced by the
Azerbaijan International Operating Co. is an Azeri product or not, for
purposes of Russian customs duty collection.
AIOC, an $8 billion consortium in which Amoco and other U.S. oil
companies hold a 36% stake, has announced that it plans to produce 1.5
million metric tons of crude this year from three Caspian Sea fields off
the Azerbaijan coast.
The first tanker shipment of between 80,000 and 100,000 tons of this oil
is due to sail from the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiisk in March,
the company has also announced.
However, according to claims in the Azerbaijan capital of Baku and in
Washington, a halt this month to the transit of the oil may portend a
shift in Moscow's policy toward Azerbaijan and AIOC.
"That's not true," says Alexei Skvortsov, spokesman for Transneft, the
Russian pipeline operator responsible for carrying the oil to
He differentiated between Azeri oil shipped by Socar, the state oil
company of Azerbaijan and a member of the AIOC consortium, and oil
shipped by AIOC itself.
Transneft, according to Mr. Skvortsov, "has received Socar's requests
for transportation of oil and has satisfied them. The current problems
are those of the Azerbaijan International Operating Co."
He confirmed that AIOC's oil flow had been stopped early this month but
claimed the dispute is now "in the final stage of resolution, and will
be concluded in a few days."
Russian officials say the State Customs Committee has claimed that AIOC
is neither an Azeri nor a Russian resident company, and its oil is
therefore subject to a 0.1% customs duty for transit.
AIOC officials have countered with the claim that Russia's agreement
with Azerbaijan on oil trade supersedes the earlier regulation, and
exempts AIOC's shipments from duties. AIOC officials have been
negotiating this issue at the Customs Committee headquarters in Moscow
for several days.
Transneft says there has been no problem this month for oil shipments
from Azerbaijan that belong to Socar.
Mr. Skvortsov said his company has already transported 40,000 tons of
oil for Socar to Novorossiisk.
"There was a three- to four-day break in transportation," Mr. Skvortsov
acknowledged, adding this was due to "technical problems" that were not
linked to AIOC's dispute with Customs.
Lukoil, the Russian oil major that holds a 10% stake in AIOC, has also
been obtaining Caspian Sea oil piped through the Transneft system to
Mr. Skvortsov confirms industry reports that Lukoil bought the first
100,000-ton shipment from the new wells from Socar last November.
Glencore, the Swiss trader, won a tender for Socar's second shipment of
According to Mr. Skvortsov, "both of these companies buy oil at the
destination point (Novorossiisk), so they haven't had any problems with
the State Customs Committee."
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 38, Part I, 25 February 1998
FEW VETERANS LEFT IN PRESIDENTIAL ADMINISTRATION. Yet another Kremlin
veteran is on the way out. Mikhail Krasnov, who joined the presidential
administration in 1993 and has been Yeltsin's legal adviser since 1995,
announced on 18 February that he will soon resign. Although Krasnov
portrayed his departure as his own decision, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on
19 February that he was forced out because the president was dissatisfied
with his work on the first draft of Yeltsin's message to the parliament.
Several other longtime presidential advisers were fired recently (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 13 February 1998). "Izvestiya" commented on 20 February
that economic adviser Aleksandr Livshits is now the "last of the Mohicans"
in the Kremlin. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported the same day that the only
officials in the administration who have direct access to Yeltsin are his
Chief of Staff Valentin Yumashev, his daughter Tatyana Dyachenko, and his
spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii. LB
YELTSIN STILL WANTS TO SCRAP PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION... Aleksandr
Kotenkov, the president's representative in the State Duma, told the
official newspaper "Rossiiskaya gazeta" on 21 February that Yeltsin still
wants to eliminate the proportional representation system currently used to
elect half the Duma. Kotenkov said electing all 450 Duma deputies in
single-member districts would be "more democratic." He noted that in the
1995 Duma elections, the four groups that were eligible to receive seats
distributed proportionally gained a combined total of only 50 percent of
the vote. (He did not mention that less than 5 percent of the 225 deputies
elected in single-member districts in 1995 gained more than 50 percent of
the vote in their districts.) At the same time, Kotenkov said some "very
interesting compromises" on the electoral law have been proposed. This
suggests Yeltsin's position may be flexible. LB
...BUT NDR CONSIDERS THAT CHANGE 'PREMATURE.' The pro-government Our Home
Is Russia (NDR) faction believes that it would be "premature" to eliminate
proportional representation in the Duma elections, Duma First Deputy
Speaker Vladimir Ryzhkov told ITAR-TASS on 17 February. He said switching
to a system in which all 450 Duma deputies are elected in single-member
districts will be possible once Russia has developed strong political
parties. But if such a change is enacted now, Ryzhkov said, "the young
multi-party system will perish" and the Duma will come to reflect mainly
regional rather than nationwide interests. LB