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6 March 1998
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Michele Berdy: Chernomyrdin.
2. IntellectualCapital.com: Richard Pipes, Yeltsin's Antics.
3. Newsday: Gorbachev's Warning. He sees dangers in a global economy.
4. Radiostantsiya Ekho Moskvy: Russians Not Happy With Government,
Think Highly of Clinton.
5. Interfax: Poll: Most Russians Think US Seeking More Influence in Gulf.
6. Komsomolskaya Pravda: Former Speaker Khasbulatov Interviewed.
7. Moscow News: Irina Kobrinskaya, Ukraine Turns to Russia.
8. Stephanie Baker (RFE/RL): Russia: Budget Spending Cuts Loom.
9. Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye: U.S. Said Seeking To Draw
Caspian Into Sphere of Influence.
10. Baltimore Sun: Kathy Lally, Russia has phonics debate, too.
11. VOA: Peter Heinlein, Tsar's Bones.
12. NTV: Lebed Denies Berezovskiy Backing; Does Not Fear
Date: Fri, 27 Feb 1998
From: "Michele A. Berdy" <email@example.com>
I would like to comment briefly on Mark Franchettiís piece [in The Times-
UK)] about Victor Chernomyrdinís untelegenic personality -- not
because I think Victor Stepanovich is an image-makerís dream,
but because I donít think it accurately reflects Chernomyrdinís
reputation here in Russia.
Franchetti writes that "footage showing his human side is broadcast
regularly on Russian television; Chernomyrdin is seen singing at family
reunions and even playing the accordian." "Broadcast regularly" is
misleading. I may be off on the time period, but I think it was during the
election campaign in 1996 that Chernomyrdin was a guest on the NTV show
"Hero of the Day Without a Tie." These shows are always filmed in the
"heroís" apartment and/or dacha with family members. Chernomyrdin gave a
relaxed interview, cuddled grandchildren, and played his accordian (badly,
as I recall) -- and generally came off as a "regular" kind of guy. I think
it was also during the electoral campaign that he met his "puppet double"
from "Kukli." Chernomyrdin laughed like hell as his double immitated his
gestures; he kept trying to speak to journalists, but would break up as the
puppet copied him. It was a very personable moment, and although I canít
say that it changed the countryís perception of him, even my jaded Russian
journalist friends commented that he seemed to be a good sport and more
easy-going than they had thought.
Franchetti writes about the "remarkable banality of the prime ministerís
speeches in the Duma" Ė well, yes, the speeches arenít exactly rivetting,
but, at least in recent memory, Chernomyrdin has been known for his
down-to-earth and relaxed comments to the deputies and for his rather
snappy sound bytes, which tend to be picked up by the networks and
newspapers. I think it was during one of the budget debates last fall or
winter that he chastised Yavlinsky for being more concerned about his
"telo" (personal position, in this context) than the "delo" (business) of
resolving budget issues (I know this by heart because I must have seen it
seven times on all the news shows). I canít remember his early speeches,
so I donít know if he has improved or had training -- but I personally
don't think he's a bad speaker, and I don't think he has a reputation for
Most importantly, how can Chernomyrdin be so deficient in oratorial
abilities when he is attributed with the most widespread axiom of the
post-Soviet period -- a phrase that has become a kind of motto for the
times? "Khotelosí kak mozhno luchshe, poluchilosí kak vsegda" (which
translates roughly as "we wanted things to be perfect but they turned out
like usual") is quoted as often as lines from Ilf and Petrov. I heard this
first attributed to Victor Sheinis, but Chernomyrdin used it once and
everyone has picked it up -- because in Russia these days no matter how
hard you try to do things right, things always -- still -- screw up.
by Richard Pipes
March 5, 1998
Richard Pipes is a professor of history and has previously served as
director of Russian studies at Harvard University. He is a contributing
editor of IntellectualCapital.com.
Just prior to the Russian Revolution in 1915-16, the government was in
constant flux as ministers came and went with dizzying speed. The turnover
was such that it became common to speak of "ministerial leapfrogs." It was
a sign of deep malaise in the tsarist government. High officials had no
time to familiarize themselves with their responsibilities before they were
replaced, so authority passed to mid-level officials who simply kept things
going on their accustomed paths. Government drifted, unable to cope with
the mounting problems faced by a country involved in a world war.
I do not mean in the least to suggest that Russia today faces a
completely similar situation. The country is not at war; it receives
foreign investments and aid; it faces no revolutionary threat; the
population yearns not for violent change but for tranquillity and normalcy.
Yet some similarities with the old Russia do exist, particularly the
inability of the government to create a stable administrative corps at the
highest level. Russia must have this corps if it is to rule efficiently and
effectively implement the transition to democracy and a market economy.
Musical chairs in Moscow
Political motivations or psychological problems?
Not long ago, President Boris Yeltsin dismissed his minister of defense.
Last week, he released three more ministers, including those in charge of
transport and education; on Monday of this week, he suddenly fired his
minister of atomic energy. No explanations are given for these actions.
Moreover, Yeltsin repeatedly has threatened to sack his two deputy prime
ministers, Anatoly Chubais and Boris Nemtsov, the most powerful advocates
of reform in his administration. No minister seems safe in his post. No one
knows when the ax will fall or why.
There are two possible explanations for this situation, one political
and the other psychological.
Although the new Russian constitution gives the president great
theoretical powers, Yeltsin knows that in practice his powers are highly
circumscribed partly for lack of an apparatus to enforce his decrees,
partly because of the hostility of a parliament dominated by communists and
nationalists. Perhaps he whimsically appoints and dismisses high officials
to create the impression of immense power, to convince the country that he
represents the "strong hand" that Russians admire. Of course, such
practices also enable him, in time-honored tradition, to shift to
subordinates the blame for whatever goes wrong.
The other reason might be found in Yeltsin's personality. Four years
ago, a translation of Yeltsin's The Struggle for Russia, appeared in
English. It is a remarkably candid autobiography, unlike any by a statesman
holding high office. Yeltsin revealed in it his distaste for politics and
politicians, his sense of being betrayed by his closest associates, his
boredom with day-to-day administrative duties. The book leaves the
impression that Yeltsin is temperamentally ill-suited for high office
because of his thin skin and impatience with routine.
Crisis addict or aspiring autocrat?
He is at his best in crisis situations. Then his inborn feistiness comes
into play. He hates to lose, whether in sports or in politics. When
confronted with a challenge, he rises to the occasion and give his all. But
once he has triumphed, he grows restless and weary. He then creates crises
for himself by playing ministers against one another and acting like an
Whatever the reason -- and both likely are at play -- Yeltsin, to whom
Russia and the world owe a great debt for having delivered the death blow
to communism, does not help his country's transition to stable democracy
with his executive antics. Nor does he help Russia's international position
with bizarre public remarks, such as those in which he warned that an
American assault on Iraq could trigger World War III. Regrettably, there is
something very unstable about this president of a country that needs and
yearns above all for stability.
5 March 1998
[for personal use only]
Gorbachev's Warning / He sees dangers in a global economy
By Emi Endo and Jordan Rau. STAFF WRITERS
Mikhail Gorbachev, the historic leader whose reforms of the Soviet
Union ended with its dissolution, came to Long Island last night to warn
of the dark side of globalization to an American audience more familiar
with its bounty.
Speaking to a crowd of 850 at Adelphi University in Garden City,
Gorbachev said that as countries rapidly intertwine their economies, new
problems may arise. He cited financial crises that can quickly ricochet
from one country to another, as happened in Southeast Asia, and warned
that similar problems could appear over energy or food shortages.
Pointing out that people in many parts of the world view
globalization as a threat, Gorbachev said a billion people remain
unemployed across the globe, and efforts to protect the environment are
more difficult to draw up when they involve many nations.
Gorbachev said political leaders should not assume these trends are
beyond their control. "When we watch the situation today, we should not
just watch," he said.
He invoked the Cold War as a model for optimism, pointing out that
at the time many people thought a nuclear exchange was inevitable, but
political leaders were able to negotiate an end to the arms race. "This
is the example that history is not preordained," Gorbachev said.
He said he hoped the younger generations would instill what he
called "global good neighborliness," a dream he said was encouraged by a
decreasing propensity of many young people to engage in stereotyping.
His speech was warmly received by the audience. During a question
and answer session, Gorbachev said he viewed military action in Iraq as
the least desirable course, but praised President Bill Clinton as acting
as a strong leader so far. "The use of weapons means weakness instead of
strength," he said.
He cautioned that America should try to avoid two extremes, of being
isolated and of being the world's policeman.
Asked what he would like to have done differently when he headed the
Soviet Union, Gorbachev said he wished he had made swifter efforts to
create a better consumer goods market while public support for his
reforms was at a high. He also said he wished he had acted earlier to
engage the nationalist succession movement as its ideas took hold.
But, he said, "all of us are very, very wise in hindsight."
Gorbachev's speech was part of a university lecture series endowed
by William E. Simon, the Ford administration's Treasury secretary and a
former honorary Adelphi trustee.
Gorbachev, who led the Soviet Union from 1985 to 1991, spoke at
Adelphi a night after he was honored at Time magazine's 75th anniversary
party at Radio City Music Hall - at which he shared a table with Kevin
Costner and Sophia Loren.
Russians Not Happy With Government, Think Highly of Clinton
Radiostantsiya Ekho Moskvy
27 February 1998
[translation for personal use only]
Many people in Russia are not happy with the Russian government's work
in 1997: 49 percent of respondents to a poll were unhappy about the crisis
in domestic industry, and 41 percent blame the government for Russia's
deteriorating economy, Ekho Moskvy learned at the Public Opinion
Russians think highly of U.S. President Bill Clinton's work despite
the detailed coverage of Clinton's love life in the Russian media recently;
90 percent of respondents were aware of these stories. Sixty percent of
these were not particularly interested in this scandal. However, 25
percent of Russians try to follow the news. Half of the respondents--50
percent--think that Clinton is not guilty of anything because his relations
with women are his own business. Thirty-nine percent of the respondents
think that Clinton's enemies are trying to slander him.
Poll: Most Russians Think US Seeking More Influence in Gulf
Moscow, Feb 27 (Interfax) -- As few as 10% of Russians believe that
the overriding goal pursued by the United States in the Iraqi crisis is to
force Baghdad to abide by U.N. resolutions and eliminate weapons of mass
More than one half, 55%, of the 1,600 Russians polled by the All-
Russian Public Opinion Research Center February 21-24 believe that
Washington's chief goal is to strengthen U.S. influence in the region, and
10% said it is to bring down Saddam Husayn, while 23% were undecided.
Russia's goals in the conflict are to restore Moscow's influence in
the region, 33% said, and 28% said that it was to prevent U.S. military
actions. As few as 8% thought that Moscow's goal was to have weapons of
mass destruction eliminated in Iraq, and 7% said that it was to have the
sanctions against Iraq lifted. The remaining 24% said they did not know.
Most Russians, 57%, believe that the use of force in that conflict
was inadmissible, 27% thought there was no need for force and 3% regard
military action as necessary. Thirteen percent were undecided.
If the United States does use force against Iraq, Russia should not
interfere, 44% think, while 31% would like to see Russia mediating between
Washington and Baghdad, 9% think Russia must help Iraq repel U.S.
aggression and 1% said that Russia should join the U.S. action to destroy
the Husayn regime. Fifteen percent were undecided.
Former Speaker Khasbulatov Interviewed
25 February 1998
[translation for personal use only]
Interview with former Russian parliament speaker Ruslan
Khasbulatov by Aleksandr Yevtushenko; date, place not given:
"Ruslan Khasbulatov: 'I Paid $100,000 To Ransom My Brother in
Chechnya.' Former Russian Parliament Speaker on How in Chechnya He
Saved Tank Crewman Who Fired at White House, Why He Does Not Intend
To Confess to Anything, and Why He Will Not Give Students Poor
Grades in Examinations"
[Yevtushenko] Ruslan Imranovich, are you, as a Chechen, proud of your
people's effective victory in the war against Russia?
[Khasbulatov] I believe that there was no victory. Everything that
happened was a terrible defeat for both Chechnya and Russia. The people's
tragedy cannot be a victory. Following General Pulikovskiy's well-known
ultimatum in August 1996 I met with Premier Chernomyrdin. It seems that he
was genuinely interested in averting fresh carnage. He asked me to travel
to Groznyy and speak with the resistance's leadership about how Chechnya
and Russia can get along in future. This clearly aroused the displeasure
of certain high- ranking officials. But I went there and met with them.
The negotiating process got under way....
And so, what made the most terrible impression on me was Groznyy as
soon as the fighting had died down. I was driven around the ruined city.
There was the smell of dead bodies -- they had not yet been removed -- and
the gas pipelines were ablaze. My driver begged me: "Ruslan Imranovich,
we will be shot; there are snipers all around." It was as if I was riveted
to this dreadful spectacle. And throughout the republic there were tens of
thousands of dead and towns and villages in ruins. I cannot speak about a
victory. This was a defeat for everyone.
[Yevtushenko] You claimed quite recently that you could have stopped
this war, had you not been hindered....
[Khasbulatov] In Tolstoy-Yurt 25 November 1994 I tried to dissuade
Khadzhiyev, Avturkhanov, and Gantamirov from marching on Groznyy. It was
useless. They admitted: "The decision has already been made in Mozdok,
and Chernomyrdin did not provide 50 tanks just so we can give up now." So
from 26 November 1994 the situation in Chechnya changed significantly:
Combat operations by Dudayev's formations against the opposition turned
into armed resistance by a people under occupation.
[Yevtushenko] I heard that you saved a Russian officer in Chechnya at
[Khasbulatov] I was not the only one. Around 20 tank crewmen who
escaped from their burning tanks during the assault were sheltered from the
gunmen by ordinary Chechens. During the night they were brought to me in
Tolstoy-Yurt. I got in touch with Mozdok: Send a helicopter to collect
your fighters; it is dangerous to dispatch them in vehicles. The
helicopter never arrived. While they were waiting, one of the crewmen was
whining in despair. They asked him why he was wailing; after all, was not
the worst now over? He replied: You have brought us to Khasbulatov, and he
will now shoot me for sure. After all, it was me who fired from a tank at
the White House in October 1993. He calmed down only when my people had
driven them all to Mozdok.
[Yevtushenko] Have the Russian and Chechen leaders turned to you for
advice, particularly after Boris Yeltsin's recent statement about his
possible trip to Groznyy ?
[Khasbulatov] No. Of course, if they had asked me, I think that I
would have given the right advice regarding the president's trip. But I do
not want to do so in a newspaper, before the general public.
As regards relations between Russia and Chechnya.... Ancient Rome
once waged a war lasting many years against a small African country ruled
by King Jugurtha. One day the senators became indignant: How come a great
empire cannot defeat an African kingdom? A senate commission was sent
there. On their return the senators reported to the people's assembly: It
turns out that the main cause of the protracted war is that each month King
Jugurtha has been giving the Roman commander a small barrel of gold.
Another commander was dispatched, and this war, which had been ignominious
for Rome, came to an end. As yet there is not "another" commander or
politician in the Russian leadership. So the war in the Caucasus is not
coming to an end: There are explosions, raids, hostage-takings....
[Yevtushenko] Even your brother was among the hostages. How did you
manage to secure his release?
[Khasbulatov] Like everyone else. I had to pay a ransom. But what
harm was he doing to anyone -- a historian and academic who had been
department head at the university for 30 years? I had to collect $100,000
from all over the world. My brother was held at gunpoint for four months.
[Yevtushenko] Chechnya has no money to carry out restoration work.
Private capital is not arriving there because of the unstable situation.
But neither can it be obtained anywhere in Russia, which cannot plug its
own financial holes. What do you think about this?
[Khasbulatov] I will tell you frankly: Given all that has happened
in the past, the tragic events, I feel sorry for Yeltsin. He is concerned
not with reforms but with something that cannot even cross the mind of the
head of a normal state: Getting hold of money to pay pensions and wages
and avert strikes. He is a deeply unhappy man. [passage omitted on
refusal to repent for 1993 events, past relations with Yeltsin and Rutskoy]
[Yevtushenko] Boris Yeltsin has already publicly announced that he
does not intend to run for a third presidential term. In your view, who in
that case could become the next Russian president?
[Khasbulatov] But I am sure that Yeltsin will run. You have to know
this man. There are many worthy candidates -- the country is huge. And
there are those who have already shown their worth and proved their
ability. Luzhkov, for example.
[Yevtushenko] What are you engaged in now?
[Khasbulatov] Work, I am up to my neck in it. I am currently working
on two textbooks. You can see that the galley proofs have already been
made for the second edition of "World Economics." The second textbook is
called "International Economic Relations." And, of course, I am lecturing,
organizing conferences, preparing candidates and doctors of science, and
[Yevtushenko] Are students not afraid of you as an examiner? Do they
not clutch their heads and say: "I have got an examination with Imranych
-- what a nightmare!"?
[Khasbulatov] On the contrary. As I am always pressed for time, I
have a long-standing rule: Not to give a poor grade in an examination.
After all, you will have to meet again later. So if a student knows at
least something, I almost always pull him or her up to at least a
satisfactory grade. They know this and take advantage of it.
For more articles from The Moscow Times, check out their website at
March 5, 1998
Ukraine Turns to Russia
By Irina Kobrinskaya
Irina Kobrinskaya is a senior scholar at the USA/Canada Institute and a
consultant in RTR Television's analytical department. She contributed this
comment to The Moscow Times.
Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma
intended the four-day summit that ended Sunday and the signing of an
economic agreement to signal a breakthrough in Russian-Ukrainian relations.
But this is not how the political establishment and media of both countries
saw it. Whereas Yeltsin was reproached in Moscow by the leading,
nonopposition media, including the liberal press, Kuchma was taken to task
in Kiev by a few opposition papers. What are the underlying causes for the
dissatisfaction on both sides?
The Russian political and business elite is categorically against Russia
being pulled into its neighbor's economic troubles. This sentiment was
summed up in the headline of the liberal daily Segodnya: "Moscow Is Ready
to Pay for Ukraine's Independence." The article concerned the protocol that
had been reached between Kuchma and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to
cooperate on finishing construction of two nuclear reactors in the towns of
Khmelnitsky and Rovno. These stations would supply 40 percent of Ukraine's
energy needs and sharply reduce its dependence on Russia.
Does this mean that the Russian political elite is speaking out against
Ukraine's independence? Not in the least. On the contrary, one of the
accusations against Yeltsin is that he allows for informal relations with
Kuchma. The time for "meetings without ties" has passed, said another
headline. Kuchma should be dealt with like the head of a foreign state. It
is time to forget concessions. A divorce is a divorce, and there should be
no sentimentality. Gas has to be paid for. If Ukraine wants Russia to
ratify the so-called big agreement, then the Russian parliament will
consider this when the Ukrainian parliament ratifies the treaty on the
Black Sea Fleet. What need is there for an economic agreement -- which
Deputy Prime Minister Yakov Urinson called a "framework" agreement -- if it
won't be carried out, as has occurred more than once in the past? So goes
the reasoning of much of the Moscow political elite. Others have put
forward another argument that refutes any claims on Ukrainian independence:
Russia is self-sufficient and does not need any markets, especially the
The Ukrainian press, for its part, evaluated the meeting and agreement
in almost exactly the opposite way. The newspaper Den, which is controlled
by the former Ukrainian prime minister and presidential candidate Yevgeny
Marchuk, ran an article by him called, "Russia is very competently using
the weakness of the Ukrainian leadership." These words, which Yeltsin
pronounced during the summit with his characteristic Cheshire-cat smile,
were taken very seriously in Kiev and gave journalists an excuse to attack
Kuchma. Just as Yeltsin was told he needed to wear a tie, Kuchma and the
Ukrainian prime minister were accused of having behaved in a manner
unworthy of their posts, as if Yeltsin and Chernomyrdin were their bosses.
Kuchma had three basic motives for his urgent efforts to sign the
agreement. First, Ukraine is preparing for parliamentary elections, and the
presidential elections will depend much on their results. As previous
elections have shown, good relations with Moscow is a sine qua non for
victory. Kuchma needs normalization of relations with Russia -- from
lifting customs barriers to guarantees of advantageous tariffs for the
delivery and transit of gas. The agreement improves the chances of his
party at the elections. It is therefore understandable that Marchuk
criticized the president and the agreement, but underlined the need for
good relations with Russia.
The second motive is economic. Ukraine is undergoing a difficult
financial crisis. The hopes for Western aid and investment -- Ukraine is
the third largest recipient, after Israel and Egypt, of U.S. aid -- as a
guarantee of economic growth turned out to be unwarranted. The lack of
economic reforms and the widespread corruption make the prospects of
joining European economic structures unlikely. No matter how much you say
"sugar," it doesn't make your mouth taste any sweeter.
The third motive concerns the direction of Ukrainian foreign policy.
Just as hopes for economic integration into Europe have proved illusory,
steps toward political integration have not brought any dividends. After
the North Atlantic Treaty Organization signed a charter with Russia and
then Ukraine and officially invited three East European countries to join
the alliance, the West seemed to cease paying any heightened attention to
Ukraine. The last "propitious" presidential elections in Russia and
political stabilization in the country also played a crucial role in this.
Ukraine lost the possibility of using the tensions in its relations with
Russia as a means of attracting additional help from the West and receiving
security guarantees from NATO and the United States. Ukraine lost the
ability to play the "Russian card."
As for Russia, whether the questions of energy supply and transit will
be settled to Gazprom's satisfaction will depend more on the company's
president, Rem Vyakhirev, than Yeltsin. But there can be no doubt that
cooperation in the military-technical sphere will help both states avoid
the kinds of international scandals that have already erupted. Moreover, by
signing the agreement, Russia, where a great-power mood is truly spreading,
nonetheless affirmed its lack of imperial ambitions. At the same time, such
an agreement becomes an obstacle to those with dangerous autarkic
conceptions about a self-sufficient Russia. We have all been for a long
time closely interconnected in this world.
Russia: Budget Spending Cuts Loom
By Stephanie Baker
Moscow, 5 March 1998 (RFE/RL) -- After months of political wrangling,
Russia at last has a budget for 1998, but it is a far cry from the
realistic fiscal plan that the government and legislators had promised in
an effort to clean up the country's messy public finances.
Instead, the government has been given a knife to cut spending as it
sees fit to prevent the budget deficit from ballooning, in a move welcomed
by investors worried about Russia's fiscal problems in light of world
The budget passed by the State Duma, or lower house of parliament, is
largely the same fiscal plan drawn up before Asia's financial crisis hit
Russia last October. But circumstances have changed dramatically since
then. The government's cost of borrowing has skyrocketed at a time when it
is struggling to collect taxes and wipe away the massive budget arrears
that are strangling the economy.
President Boris Yeltsin called on the Duma to pass additional spending
cuts of 27 billion rubles ($4.7 billion) to take into account market
troubles, but deputies balked. Instead of signing off to specific cuts, the
Duma gave the government carte blanche to slash spending if corresponding
revenues are not found.
Most economists say the rosy revenue forecasts in the budget will force
the government to immediately impose deep spending cuts.
Alexander Morozov, an economist with the World Bank in Moscow, said:
"Everyone knows it won't be possible to collect as much revenue as they
planned ... There is a need to cut spending this year more than actual
expenditures in 1997."
The situation is reminiscent of last year, when the Duma padded the
budget with extra spending which proved impossible to carry out. The
government was forced to seek the Duma's approval to sequester, or cut,
spending by about 20 percent to make up for a dramatic shortfall in tax
collection. Deputies rejected the plan, but the government went ahead with
the cuts anyway.
This time, the government will not be required to ask the Duma to
approve spending cuts, which allows both sides to claim victory.
Al Breach, an analyst with the Russian European Center for Economic
Policy, said: "This allows the Duma to accuse the government of failing to
meet spending targets. But it also means that the Duma has absolutely no
oversight of budget spending."
There are no limits on spending cuts, but the government is required to
reduce expenditures proportionally and notify the legislature and budget
organizations before the ax falls.
As Morozov put it: "Formally they can cut the budget as much as they
need to ... Now they will adjust the budget with only one target to follow
- the budget deficit."
The budget foresees a deficit of 4.7 percent of gross domestic product,
well below last year's deficit of 6.8 percent. It calls for spending of 500
billion rubles ($82 billion) and revenues of 368 billion rubles ($60 billion).
The market rallied after the budget was passed Wednesday as investors
welcomed the government's pledge to cut spending and stick to its budget
First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, on a trip to Germany to
promote foreign investment, hailed passage of the budget and said it would
help maintain the stability of the ruble. But economists said the
government is likely to have a difficult time meeting its revenue targets
this year because it has vowed to accept tax payments in cash only,
abolishing its much criticized system of monetary offsets.
Non-cash payments, such as barter arrangements, had allowed the
government to boost spending on paper, but contributed to the vicious
circle of non-payments in the economy.
Morozov said many companies had been holding back on paying taxes,
betting that the Duma would include a clause in the budget requiring the
government to accept non-cash payments. But deputies stopped short of
forcing the government to continue monetary offset schemes, passing a
diluted amendment that allowed non-cash payments to continue in a limited
U.S. Said Seeking To Draw Caspian Into Sphere of Influence
Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye, No 8
27 February-5 March 1998
Article by Sergey Putilov under the "Design" rubric: "Bosnian
Scenario Projected for Caspian"
The United States, covering approximately one-half of all its oil
needs through imports, attaches great significance to creating conditions
for the uninterrupted delivery of this form of strategic raw material to
its territory. Without, moreover, refraining from the use of military
force when the need arises. "Desert Storm" and the continuing escalation
in tension in the Persian Gulf zone are clear confirmation of this.
Meanwhile, Washington has recently begun to pay increasing attention to
another very large oil region in the world -- the Caspian. Following the
appearance in Azerbaijan of such major oil companies as Exxon, Chevron,
Mobil, and Amoco, the White House managed to get a decision through
Congress very quickly on declaring the entire Transcaucasus a sphere of its
"vital interests." Representatives of the family of U.S. oil giants --
Texaco and the Mobil Corporation -- have also settled on the other side of
the Caspian Sea, in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. And now Washington, fully
in keeping with the long- standing tradition of creating military
guarantees for its global economic interests, has decided to elaborate a
mechanism of armed "protection of the Caspian's energy resources."
Specifically, it is a matter of attaching the oil region to one of the
Pentagon commands. According to a report in the U.S. News and World Report
the choice is being made between the command of the U.S. military
contingent in Europe and the U.S. united central command, which controls,
in particular, the Persian Gulf region. Formed according to territorial
criteria, these commands can incorporate the best- trained combat combined
units of all three branches of the Armed Forces, that is, ground troops,
Air Force, and Navy, numbering up to 300,000 men in total.
The inclusion of the Caspian region in the European command's zone of
responsibility would mean that, in the event of an armed conflict breaking
out, not only U.S. troops but also servicemen from the NATO member
countries could take part in it. In light of the fact that not only U.S.
but also certain European companies are participating in the development of
the Azerbaijani and Kazakhstani oil fields, the North Atlantic alliance's
involvement in military actions is highly probable. For example, NATO
Secretary General Javier Solana was extremely frank during his visit to
Baku last year: "The Caucasus is an important region for Europe which has
enormous social and economic potential. Europe will not be completely
secure if the Caucasus countries remain outside the European security
[system]." This is brief and clear.
The incorporation of Azerbaijan and also the Central Asian republics
in the NATO Partnership for Peace program has created additional
preconditions for foreign intervention in the region's affairs. Nor can
one speak about objectivity on the part of the United States and its
European allies in settling the Karabakh problem. Azerbaijan's oil wealth
predetermined the sympathies of the NATO "peacekeepers" long ago. This
probably explains the fact that the North Atlantic alliance's headquarters
in Brussels is totally ignoring instances of military cooperation between
NATO member Turkey and Baku. This takes the form, in particular, of
dispatching a large number of Turkish military instructors to Azerbaijan.
As regards Central Asia, the smell of gunpowder has still not been
dispersed following the recent Tsentrazbat-97 military exercises which were
unprecedented in their scale and in which U.S. and Turkish troops
The creation of a Caspian "zone of responsibility" is also certainly
being undertaken by Washington as yet another measure aimed at drawing the
region's countries into its sphere of military- political influence.
4 March 1998
[for personal use only]
Russia has phonics debate, too
Education: When the teaching of Russian has veered away from phonics, it
has been for the same reasons that Americans embraced whole language --
boredom and the quest for creativity.
By Kathy Lally
Sun Foreign Staff
MOSCOW -- The Russian language is so emphatically phonetic that if you
ask someone to spell his name, he'll pronounce it slowly and distinctly.
Ask again -- how do you spell it? -- and he'll pronounce it again, perhaps
shouting this time because, if you haven't understood, you're obviously
hard of hearing.
Russian words sound just like they're spelled. While English afflicts
its speakers with rule-breaking words like "would" and "might," Russian
follows its rules so devoutly that words like "obrushivshuyusya" (it means
collapsed) just roll off the page -- if not the foreign tongue.
So why does Lidia Y. Zhurova, who supervises the primary education
center of the Russian Education Academy, laugh so merrily when asked if
there is any debate here over how to teach children to read? Wouldn't logic
dictate that such a phonetically stern language demands phonics, no
"I think it's like a very good American detective story," Zhurova says.
"Of course, we don't agree on how to teach children to read."
For more than 50 years, Americans have been going back and forth on how
to teach children to read English -- by phonics, in which children learn
the sounds that correspond to the letters, or by "whole language," which
emphasizes learning whole words, guessing at unknown words from context and
pictures, and motivating children to learn by nurturing a love of literature.
Olga Viktorovna Pronina chuckles in recognition when told about the
debate in the United States. She had so much trouble finding satisfactory
phonetic materials in Russian that she recently wrote and published her own
"Everyone is trying to work out something new and rejecting what
worked," she says, talking about Russia -- although many American teachers
would insist she must be talking about them.
Pronina presides over a classroom of 26 extremely well-behaved
first-graders who attend Grammar School No. 1506 in the Babushkinsky region
of northern Moscow. She has done so for a long, long time.
"This is my 29th year teaching," she says. "I have always worked at this
school in this classroom. I've had many invitations to do other things, but
school for me is something sacred."
Reverent as she is about the business of her classroom, she attacks her
work with a jolliness that keeps her pupils in good humor. They sit before
her -- boys in little coats and ties, girls in pigtails and great fluffy
bows -- paying attention and doing what they're told.
"Why is reading important?" she asks the class.
"You can read any book," Dasha says, standing up next to her desk to
answer. "You can read Pushkin."
"You can read a telegram," says Evgeny, standing up next to his desk.
Pronina has brought the letters of the alphabet to life with her
drawings. She has turned the letter that looks like an e with two dots
above it into a hedgehog (the dots are eyes) because that letter begins the
word for hedgehog. The first letter of the word for apple has been made to
look like an apple hanging from a branch. (The letter looks like a backward
R and is pronounced yah.)
She begins with a game. "When you hear the sound 'zh,' clap your hands,"
she says. Then, "clap when you hear 'i'." Now and then, there's a dissonant
clap, and everyone laughs affectionately at the mistake. But mostly the
children are correct, clapping when they hear the word for caviar (ikra) or
Next comes dictation. "This is their favorite work," she says.
"Before you start writing, your hands should be very warm," she says,
telling the children to stand up. She leads them in exercises, wiggling
their fingers, pretending they are the wind blowing. Then their hands turn
into feet, climbing steps in the air. They play imaginary pianos, violins
and trumpets. Finally they are ready.
"Take a sheet of paper," Pronina instructs, "and a pen or marker. I'll
name a letter -- and this will be serious work -- and you will write it.
The first word I will spell for you. The next one you will write."
She dictates slowly, carefully enunciating each word. "Some of you work
excellently," she says, "without disturbing your neighbor."
Traditionally, Russian children begin school at age 7, but today's
parents are eager to have their children get an early start. Half of
Pronina's class started the year at age 5, though they were close to 6.
Pronina doesn't object.
"The results are best if they begin at an early age," she says.
She calls on children to read aloud. "Remember," she says, "reading is a
Next, she passes out papers. "Now we're going to carry out scientific
research," she says. "The first task is to find a flag. Take a blue pen.
Draw a circle around the flag with blue ink and write the word flag
accurately to the end of the line.
"I'll see who likes me best, who wants to please me with good work. Very
beautiful, good work, thank you, very good," she says as children hold up
their papers. "The first line is a present to me and the second line is a
present to mama."
Pronina is a devout believer in phonics.
"Whether you like it or not, the basis is phonemes," she says. "We also
have had experience teaching whole words. It means too much memorization.
And in Russian the endings of the words change. If a child sees only one
word, and is taught that way, he can't apply it to other words."
When the teaching of Russian has veered away from phonics, it has been
for the same reasons that Americans dropped phonics in favor of whole
language. Teachers decided that phonics was too boring, and they wanted a
more creative approach.
"Our history of this subject is quite entertaining and full of passion,"
says Zhurova of the Education Academy.
About 135 years ago, the great writer Leo Tolstoy ran a progressive
school at his estate, Yasnaya Polyana. He was an early lover of whole
language -- encouraging children to learn to read by imparting a love of
During the 1930s, says Zhurova, many teachers taught by showing a child
a picture -- of a cat, for example, with the word written in large letters
under the picture.
"The child begins to recognize the image and the word that goes with
it," Zhurova says, "and he accumulates quite a large number of words and
pictures. But is he reading or memorizing?"
Zhurova favors a very structured phonics program developed by
psychologist Daniil Elkonin about 40 years ago. Children are taught to
isolate each sound, and there is a great deal of verbal repetition, with
word games and making new words by changing one letter.
Today, most teachers in Russia would tell you they use phonics, Zhurova
"But schools and teachers have the right to choose what they want,"
Zhurova says, "and so they often combine textbooks of different systems,
which is not so good. So there is some drawback to this freedom we have."
In America, too, phonetic programs have been flawed by inconsistency.
The same in Russia, Zhurova says.
"I already told you it was like an American detective story," she says.
Voice of America
INTRO: RUSSIA IS SET TO STAGE A LAVISH STATE FUNERAL FOR THE
REMAINS OF THE LAST TSAR AND HIS FAMILY ON THE 80TH ANNIVERSARY
OF THEIR EXECUTION. BUT VOA MOSCOW CORRESPONDENT PETER HEINLEIN
REPORTS THE DECISION TO BURY THE EMPEROR'S BONES IS FORCING
RUSSIANS TO CONFRONT THE QUESTION OF THEIR NATIONAL IDENTITY.
TEXT: THE ISSUE WAS SETTLED, PRESUMABLY ONCE AND FOR ALL, LAST
///NEMTSOV ACT IN RUSSIAN, THEN FADE TO...///
FIRST DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER BORIS NEMTSOV ANNOUNCED "IT IS
DECIDED THAT THE TSAR'S BURIAL WILL BE JULY 17TH THIS YEAR AT THE
PETER AND PAUL CATHEDRAL IN ST. PETERSBURG".
THAT DECISION WAS NOT MADE LIGHTLY. THE ISSUE OF LAYING TO REST
THE SYMBOL OF RUSSIA'S MONARCHY IS, AFTER ALL, AN INTENSELY
EMOTIONAL ISSUE IN POST SOVIET RUSSIA.
SOME OF THE WORLD'S BEST FORENSIC EXPERTS WERE CALLED IN TO STUDY
THE REMAINS. AFTER EXTENSIVE D-N-A TESTS, THE EXPERTS ISSUED A
750-PAGE REPORT CONCLUDING THE BONES DUG UP NEAR THE CITY OF
YEKATERINBURG IN 1991 WERE ALMOST CERTAINLY THOSE OF TSAR
NICHOLAS THE SECOND, HIS WIFE AND THREE OF THEIR FIVE CHILDREN.
THE ROYAL FAMILY WAS EXECUTED IN JULY, 1918 ON ORDERS OF
BOLSHEVIK LEADER VLADIMIR LENIN.
PLANS FOR A FUNERAL FIT FOR A KING ARE ALREADY UNDERWAY IN ST.
PETERSBURG. MEMBERS OF ROYAL FAMILIES FROM ALL OVER EUROPE ARE
BUT FIERCE OPPOSITION IS GROWING IN SEVERAL QUARTERS.
COMMUNISTS ARE OUTRAGED. THEY CALL THE TSAR A BLOODY TYRANT.
LEADERS IN MOSCOW AND YEKATERINBURG ARE ANGRY. THEY SAY ST.
PETERSBURG IS THE WRONG PLACE TO HONOR THE TSAR, ESPECIALLY SINCE
HE MADE NO SECRET OF HIS DISLIKE FOR THE IMPERIAL CAPITAL.
EVEN THE POWERFUL RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH IS BACKING AWAY FROM AN
EARLIER PLEDGE TO CANONIZE THE ROYAL FAMILY. CHURCH SPOKESMAN
METROPOLITAN YUVENALY SAYS MORE PROOF IS NEEDED THAT THE BONES
ARE REALLY THOSE OF THE TSAR.
///YUVENALY ACT IN RUSSIAN UP, THEN FADE TO...///
HE SAYS "WE MUST BE SURE THE REMAINS ARE AUTHENTIC. IF THEY ARE
NOT, WE WILL BE WORSHIPPING FALSE RELICS."
IN ANOTHER TWIST, A GROUP FAVORING A RETURN TO MONARCHY IN RUSSIA
HAS VOWED TO BLOCK THE FUNERAL.
///SKOROBOGATOV ACT IN RUSSIAN, THEN FADE TO...///
GROUP SPOKESMAN SERGEI SKOROBOGATOV SAID "PEOPLE WILL LIE DOWN ON
THE RAILS TO PREVENT THE BONES FROM BEING TAKEN TO ST.
PETERSBURG." HE ACCUSED PRESIDENT BORIS YELTSIN OF USING
BOLSHEVIK TACTICS TO STAGE THE FUNERAL.
MR. SKOROBOGATOV SAYS IF THE REMAINS ARE AUTHENTIC, THEY SHOULD
BE ENSHRINED RATHER THAN BURIED. IF THEY ARE FAKE, THEY SHOULD
NOT RECEIVE ROYAL TREATMENT.
A PROMINENT RUSSIAN POLITICAL SCIENTIST WAS QUOTED RECENTLY AS
SAYING THE ISSUE OF BURYING THE TSAR'S BONES IS AT THE CORE OF
RUSSIA'S NATIONAL IDENTITY CRISIS.
AWARE OF THE STRONG FEELINGS ON ALL SIDES, PRESIDENT YELTSIN HAS
DISTANCED HIMSELF FROM THE CONTROVERSY. HE ORDERED A COMMISSION
TO MAKE THE FINAL CHOICE OF A BURIAL SITE, AND ALLOWED THE YOUNG
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER NEMTSOV TO ANNOUNCE IT.
MR. YELTSIN IS SURE TO BE MONITORING PUBLIC REACTION CLOSELY.
KREMLIN INSIDERS SAY ONCE THE TSAR'S BURIAL IS COMPLETE, THE
RUSSIAN LEADER WILL MOVE ON TO ANOTHER, MORE CONTROVERSIAL
PROJECT. LAYING TO REST THIS CENTURY'S OTHER UNBURIED HISTORICAL
FIGURE OF THE BOLSHEVIK ERA, VLADIMIR LENIN, WHOSE BODY LIES IN A
MAUSOLEUM ON RED SQUARE.
Lebed Denies Berezovskiy Backing; Does Not Fear Chubays
2 March 1998
[translation for personal use only]
>From the "Segodnya" newscast
The election campaign in Krasnoyarsk Territory has not yet officially
begun, and this is probably why there have not yet been any reports of
scandals. It is true though that General Aleksandr Lebed has not managed
to present the signatures needed for him to be registered as a candidate
for governor to the territorial electoral commission, but this does not
make him less certain he will win.
[Begin recording] [Unidentified Correspondent] All last night, Lebed
was putting his name on sheets of signatures collected in his support.
There are around 4,000 of them, and the general wrote in his own
handwriting his surname, name and patronymic, and signature on each of
them. Lebed held out until 0630 Krasnoyarsk time, but did not manage to
sign everything. For this reason, the handover of the signatures to the
territorial electoral commission was put off. A news conference planned for
today was not delayed however. Lebed told correspondent again that if he
is elected governor of the territory, he will not make any abrupt changes.
It is known that the general is unofficially meeting with employees of the
local armed security bodies [Russian: silovye struktury] during this visit.
[Lebed] The lack of any kind of coordination in the actions of our
security organizations leads to blows being struck with fingers like this
[shows outstretched fingers], and if you hit like that, then you break your
fingers. So it is very important to have a mechanism that squeezes the
relevant subject when necessary, right?
[Correspondent] Lebed avoided talking in detail about the upcoming
election campaign, but denied that it was being financed by [prominent
Russian businessman] Boris Berezovskiy and Rossiysky Kredit bank. The
general was asked about ill wishers: was it true that if he wins, they will
try to harm the territory.
[Lebed] If you mean specifically [First Deputy Prime Minister]
Anatoliy Chubays, then that's not a problem because I associate the powers
the president [Boris Yeltsin] gives him with handing out jobs at a
kindergarten -- you look after the sand pit so nobody steals anybody's
bucket and spade, while you, Boris, make sure nobody swings on their locker
door, and if anybody does something wrong, God forbid, then look out, the
guilty will be named.
[Correspondent] Lebed views last week's government sackings with
scepticism and says they are just for show. No details are yet known of
the general's plans for the next few days, which he intends to spend in
Krasnoyarsk. [video shows Lebed arriving, giving news conference] [end