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Johnson's Russia List
10 March 1998
[Note from David Johnson:
1. AP: Russia Might Launch More Satellites.
2. Journal of Commerce: Bruce Barnard, Russia hopes Washington
proves friendlier than EU.
3. International Herald Tribune: Fred Hiatt, Keep On Helping
Post-Communist Russia to Get Ahead.
4. Reuters: US to reassure Russia about trans-Caspian pipeline.
5. St. Petersburg Times: Matthew Murray, To Boost Bottom Line,
Avoid the 'Rent-Seekers.'
6. Moscow Times: Igor Semenenko, THE ANALYST: Investment Growth
Figures Fail to Support State Hype.
7. Christian Science Monitor editorial: Debating a Super-NATO.
8. St. Petersburg Times editorial: Kremlin Decision To Bury Tsar
9. AP: U.S. Backs Latvian Protesters.
10. Izvestiya: For All That, Russia Has Been Lucky. (Women's Day).
11. Segodnya: Not Much Change on the Women's Front.
12. Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Democracy Minus Woman Is Not Democracy.
13. Reuters: Russia says it has best approach on Kosovo crisis.
14. St. Petersburg Times: Charles Digges, FSB Gets More Time on
Russia Might Launch More Satellites
9 March 1998
By LAURA MYERS
WASHINGTON (AP) - The United States may allow Russia to launch more foreign
commercial satellites to raise millions of dollars for its cash-strapped space
agency, a Clinton administration official said Monday.
American officials want to move carefully, however, before lifting a limit on
such lucrative deals until Russia shows it's serious about preventing the
transfer of missile technology to Iran.
Vice President Al Gore and Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin,
arriving Monday here for their 10th semi-annual meeting, plan to discuss the
sensitive topics over the next few days.
The administration insists the two matters aren't linked, although U.S.
officials acknowledge it would be difficult to reward Moscow if Russia
continues to assist Iran's ballistic missile program.
``It's not a question of the U.S. government offering an inducement to the
Russian government,'' said Jonathan Salter, a foreign policy spokesman for
Gore. ``In fact, expansion of the U.S.-Russia commercial space cooperation
requires only that existing commercial plans be allowed to unfold free of
concerns related to ballistic missile proliferation.''
On his way to Washington, Chernomyrdin said Russia is sticking to its promise
that the government won't transfer nuclear weapons and missile technology to
Iran. Russian officials have said they have even foiled attempts by Russian
companies to provide Iran with dual-use technology.
``We are true to our commitments, and we shall never depart from them,''
Chernomyrdin said. ``We have not transferred and will not transfer anything to
Eighteen of Russia's 48 satellite launches last year were for U.S. firms. The
Russians also sent up satellites for China, Germany and Luxembourg. The
launches were worth $60 million to $100 million each for the Russian Space
Agency, which has had trouble paying its bills. Those money problems have
contributed to delays in construction of a $21 billion international space
station, now set for completion by 2003.
A 1996 agreement signed by Gore and Chernomyrdin limited Russian launches of
foreign satellites in order to protect American companies from competition.
Since then, however, the situation has changed with U.S. firms - including
Lockheed-Martin and Boeing Co. - involved in consortiums with Russian agencies
to work together on launches.
Gore and Chernomyrdin, who are expected to talk about reviewing the
complicated formula that limits Russian satellite launches, also are planning
to meet with executives of Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed-Martin and visit one
of its California facilities Thursday in Silicon Valley.
On the missile issue, Gore and Chernomyrdin will discuss a decree signed by
Russian President Boris Yeltsin in January aimed at halting such assistance to
Iran. The decree, which carries the weight of law, would prevent Russian
export of so-called dual-use technologies that can be used to build missiles,
nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.
Despite the decree, Russia is continuing construction of a nuclear power
in Bushehr, Iran, which Moscow says is strictly for energy purposes.
Washington strongly opposes it, fearing it might help Iran get access to
technology for its suspected nuclear weapons program.
The Gore-Chernomyrdin commission meets on Tuesday and Wednesday at the State
Department to discuss a host of issues, focusing on economic cooperation and
investment to increase bilateral trade.
The two leaders will talk with President Clinton in the Oval Office on
Wednesday. Chernomyrdin also plans to meet with members of Congress.
Gore and his wife will host an official dinner for Chernomyrdin and his wife
at the National Building Museum Tuesday. The Russian couple, in turn, will
hold a dinner for the Gores at the Russian Embassy Wednesday.
On Thursday, the Gore-Chernomyrdin commission goes to Silicon Valley to tour
Lockheed Martin facilities in Sunnyvale, Calif., before meeting with other
leaders of the high-tech industry.
Chernomyrdin returns to Moscow on Friday.
Journal of Commerce
March 10, 1998
Russia hopes Washington proves friendlier than EU
Chernomyrdin, Gore discuss trade this week
The EU's plan to remove Russia from its "nonmarket economy" list has
been bogged down by small trade spats.
BY BRUCE BARNARD
JOURNAL OF COMMERCE STAFF
LONDON -- After several uncomfortable encounters in Brussels, Russian
trade officials are hoping for a friendlier hearing in Washington this
Russian Prime Minister Victor Chernomyrdin will use a visit to
Washington to seek an end to remaining U.S. tariffs and quotas on
Moscow's overtures follow a sharp deterioration in trade relations with
the European Union, culminating in a bitter row over plans to impose
quotas on carpet imports from the EU. Meetings this week between Mr.
Chernomyrdin and Vice President Al Gore have an added significance,
because they are seen as natural heirs to Presidents Clinton and Boris
However, for the moment, the EU is Russia's closest commercial partner,
with two-way trade worth $44.5 billion in the first 10 months of 1997.
U.S.-Russia trade, by contrast, is worth just over $7 billion a year.
The EU's proposal to remove Russia from its list of countries with a
"nonmarket economy" has been bogged down in a series of relatively small
trade spats. The EU carpet imports, for example, are worth a relatively
modest $170 million a year.
Nevertheless, the commission warned the carpet row could escalate into a
full-blown trade war.
Brussels and Moscow also are at loggerheads over Russian phytosanitary
controls on EU eggs and curbs on the import of European liquor and
The European Commission, the EU's executive agency, wants to resolve
these disputes before recommending that EU governments take Russia off
the nonmarket list. This would make it more difficult for the EU to
impose anti-dumping duties on Russia.
A long-stalled Partnership and Cooperation agreement came into force
last December, paving the way eventually for the establishment of a
The two sides recently agreed to establish a work program for 1998, and
the EU urged Moscow to present plans to phase out tariff and non-tariff
barriers. This would pave the way for Russia to join the World Trade
Mr. Chernomyrdin will seek U.S. support for Russia's admission to the
WTO in 1998. But failure to resolve outstanding differences with the EU
will put this target out of reach.
International Herald Tribune
March 10, 1998
[for personal use only]
Keep On Helping Post-Communist Russia to Get Ahead
By Fred Hiatt
WASHINGTON - Like Foreign Minister Yevgeni Primakov, nuclear czar Viktor
Mikhailov was a classic Soviet official who outlasted the Soviet Union -
and a symbol, like Mr. Primakov, of souring U.S.-Russian relations.
The atomic energy minister clung as best he could to the secrecy and
privilege that his nuclear empire had enjoyed in its Communist heyday.
Last week he resigned or was fired - the uncertainty a reminder that
Kremlinology, too, has outlived the Soviet Union.
His resignation confirms what we might have come to doubt: that the
Soviet generation of leaders will pass, not as quickly as we expected in
1991 but soon enough.
Feelings in Washington are still raw from Russia's undermining of the
U.S. position during the recent Iraq crisis. The Clinton administration
cannot forever put off a decision on sanctions against the giant Russian
company Gazprom for its plunge, with the French firm Total, into the
Iranian energy market. And Congress is pondering even more sweeping
penalties to punish Russia for helping Iran acquire ballistic missile
Meanwhile, many in Congress are furious about Russia's new law on
religion, which allows the state to favor the Orthodox Church over
Baptist, Jewish and other congregations.
And the Russian Duma, as truculent and suspicious as Mr. Mikhailov,
refuses to ratify the START-2 arms control treaty, although the pact is
clearly in Russia's interest. That has kept chums Bill and Boris from
even scheduling their next meeting.
In many cases, it is the Mikhailovs and their generation who are
blocking progress in U.S.-Russian ties, and who often seem to want
things both ways. They accept U.S. and IMF aid, but complain that it is
insufficient. They demand to be taken seriously as a great power, while
dealing irresponsibly with rogue regimes. They whine that U.S. private
investment is insufficient, but refuse to adopt or enforce reasonable
laws on taxes, contracts or land ownership.
These officials are not uncontested in Moscow, and imperialist yearning
- contrary to what many Russophobes contend - is far from the only
strain in Russian policy.
Last week Mr. Primakov lashed out baselessly at Latvia's government, and
the Duma again put off ratifying a treaty, signed by Boris Yeltsin, that
recognizes, once and for all, Ukraine as a separate country. But for
every Russian who still dreams of dominating Latvia or Ukraine, plenty
more just want to do business there.
One such person is baby billionaire Vladimir Potanin, who in the space
of a decade has metamorphosed from low-ranking Soviet bureaucrat into
one of the world's most influential businessmen, with interests in
banking, oil, mining, newspapers and more.
Like many of his generation, Mr. Potanin, 37, is just now coming up for
air from the post-Soviet maelstrom and checking out the world. He is
forming international alliances, including with British Petroleum and
the financier George Soros, and recently he came to Washington, seeking
to show that not all Russian ''robber barons,'' as they are commonly
known in America, are the same.
A new Duma will be elected next year. Mr. Potanin hopes it will have a
better ''understanding of the modern world, of getting Russia integrated
into the world.'' Businessmen like himself will be working toward that
goal, he said.
There is no guarantee that they will succeed, of course. ''There's a
serious debate going on within Russia about the future direction that
country should take,'' notes Z. Blake Marshall, vice president of the
U.S.-Russia Business Council. He was referring principally to economics
- whether Russia will tie into the world or muddle along in
protectionist poverty. But that decision will affect others central to
U.S. concerns, including how Russia treats its neighbors.
As Mr. Mikhailov rides off into his atomic sunset, there is no assurance
that his successor will be easier to deal with. What is certain is that
plenty of Russians see the world differently than he did - and that
their struggle to shape Russia's future remains unresolved.
At the beginning of this decade, as the Soviet Union collapsed, it made
sense for the United States to encourage those people, with aid, trade
and exchanges, while hedging against an unfavorable outcome with, among
other polices, NATO expansion. As the decade comes to a close, that
policy still makes sense. It is too soon to write Russia off.
US to reassure Russia about trans-Caspian pipeline
By Tom Doggett
WASHINGTON, March 9 (Reuters) - The United States will stress that Russia's
participation is needed in developing pipeline routes for carrying oil from
the Caspian Sea region to the energy-hungry countries of the West during talks
this week between U.S. Vice President Al Gore and Russian Prime Minister
The talks come as Russia reportedly feels it is being slighted by U.S.
for a proposed pipeline stretching from Baku, the capitol of Azerbaijan, to
the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan in Turkey, instead of a route from Baku
The U.S. response: ``We do not view this (Baku-Ceyhan) route as exclusive of
routes through Russia,'' said one of two senior administration officials who
briefed reporters last Friday on this week's meeting of the so-called Gore-
``The subject of energy security (and) of commercial principles applied to
energy is certainly going to be discussed in the course of the meeting of the
commission,'' the official said. ``Our position is that we favor multiple
pipelines,'' he added.
Specifically, the U.S. believes a future Russian pipeline would serve as a
``key element'' to interlinking the pipelines that could exist in the region,
according to another administration official.
``There is clearly sufficient oil resources in the eastern Caspian to justify
both the (Baku-Ceyhan) route as well as other pipeline routes that could come
out from the region,'' he said.
The official added that Russia's involvement in building the region's
pipelines ``is crucial'' for the long-term viability of Kazakhstan - a former
Soviet republic - to market its vast oil reserves, which are estimated to be
among the world's largest. ``So we think that is a very important signal to
send throughout the region,'' he said.
In addition to Kazakhstan, the Clinton administration also wants other
countries to raise much-need revenue by selling their oil and natural gas, and
the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline is the fastest way for that happen, according to the
``Our motivation is, of course, to things that are commercially sensible. But
our motivation also includes a desire to give the states in the region...an
opportunity for prosperity, and, as a result of prosperity, for political
stability, which we think is in everybody's interest,'' one of the officials
This is the tenth time the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission will meet. Energy in
just one of many issues on their agenda. But the energy pipeline matter is
timely because a decision will be made in October by the Azerbaijan
International Operating Company on which is the best East-West oil route.
The $2.5-billion Baku-Ceyhan route is viewed as the favorite to win out over
two other proposed routes that would move oil through Black Sea ports in
either Russia or Georgia. Last week, the foreign ministers of five countries
in the region - Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan - met
in Istanbul to discuss the development of the first trans-Caspian pipeline,
with the Baku-Ceyhan route getting their endorsement.
Russia complained that it was not invited to participate in that conference.
However, a spokesman for Turkey's foreign minister tried to reassure Russia
that its involvement is needed. ``We reminded them that it is out of the
question for Turkey to exclude Russia from...Caspian Sea projects,'' he told
reporters last Wednesday. The Russians can expect similar reassurances from
the U.S. later this week.
The Caspian Pipeline Corporation (CPC) was formed in 1992.
Currently, 24 percent of the CPC shares belong to Russia, 19 percent to
Kazakhstan, and seven percent to Oman. The remaining group of shareholders are
a group of multi-national companies including San Francisco-based Chevron
Corp. which holds 15 percent, LUKArco, a partnership between U.S. ARCO and
Russian Lukoil with 12.5 percent, Mobil Corp. holds 7.5 percent, the Russian-
British joint venture Rosneft-Shell Caspian Ventures joint venture holds 7.5
percent , British Gas and Italy's Agip SpA each hold two percent, and the
Kazakhoil-Amoco joint venture has a 1.75 percent interest.
St. Petersburg Times
MARCH 9-15, 1998
F I N D I N G L O G I C
To Boost Bottom Line, Avoid the 'Rent-Seekers'
By Matthew H. Murray
This is the first of a series of weekly columns by Matthew H. Murray on
doing business in St. Petersburg. Murray is president of Sovereign
Ventures Inc., a management consulting firm specializing in direct
investment and small business in Russia.
INVESTORS and entrepreneurs in Russia are attracted by the low hanging
fruit, opportunities to buy choice property and assets that appear to
offer a quick return.
Once these ripe opportunities are picked, however, they often go bad
overnight. A principal reason is the hidden cost of "rent-seeking," a
unique form of capitalist behavior which has sprouted under Russia's
Rent-seeking is conducted by political elites who have used their access
to power to privatize state property spontaneously at nominal prices.
As power-brokers, they do not necessarily have the capital, know-how or
the management depth to develop the property they privatize.
Instead, they seek to convert their assets and access into cash by
renting them to businesses prepared to take such risk.
By imposing an added layer of rent on economic activity, this behavior
increases operating and transaction costs for business and the price of
goods and services for consumers.
Rent-seeking takes many forms:
.Assets acquired cheaply from government are converted into controlling
stakes in joint ventures;
.Leases of choice real estate are sold to those with the capital and
expertise to develop them;
.The simplest form of rent-seeking is the sale of property obtained from
the state at a nominal price for the market rate;
.Finally, when legal means to obtain cash in exchange for their access
to power and property are not available, rent-seekers may resort to
To maximize profit, those willing to risk investment in Russia must
minimize their exposure to rent-seeking.
Do not choose a partner in Russia simply because it is able to offer
valuable real estate or assets.
Foreign investors in particular often joint venture with a local
company, and provide it with a large equity stake solely on this basis.
The subsequent failure of the rent-seeker to add value has triggered the
meltdown of many joint ventures.
Lacking business experience, rent-seekers instinctively avoid risk and
require the investor to take responsibility for innovation and
It is essential to moderate such expectations and require rent-seekers
to share the risk of developing property and assets to the point where a
profit is being returned.
To obtain a strong bargaining position, rent-seekers will sometimes
utilize their access to the government to generate obstacles.
Be prepared to challenge the official-looking document decreeing a rent
hike or a sudden change in ownership, a new licensing requirement or a
state fee. It may be a pretext to obtain better terms.
Nor should risk-takers shy away from working directly with the
government to secure property on a legal, transparent and market basis.
The opportunities to do so are increasing in regional centers such as
St. Petersburg, where government authorities are taking steps to
counteract rent-seeking. When an investor purchases or leases property
from a rent-seeker for the market price, the government is deprived of
In response, the St. Petersburg City Property Committee, an agency which
has led Russia towards the legal recognition of private property, is
ceasing the practice of leasing municipal property at below-market rates
and is devising a formula to ensure that city rent rates are charged on
a uniform and transparent basis.
Ultimately, risk-takers looking at business opportunities here should
ally themselves with the reformers in government who would end the
privatization practices that have engendered rent-seeking capitalism.
For example, St. Petersburg is struggling to repossess properties from
rent-seekers who have failed to honor the obligation to develop them.
Unless the private sector helps the government implement this type of
measure, reformers will be out-maneuvered by those in government who
seek rent for handing out cheap leases.
For more articles from The Moscow Times, check out their website at
March 10, 1998
THE ANALYST: Investment Growth Figures Fail to Support State Hype
By Igor Semenenko
Igor Semenenko is a contributing editor of the weekly newsletter Capital
The government has been doing all it can to talk up investment in
Russia. This is quite natural, given that economic growth remains a
priority and last year foreign and domestic direct investments shrank by
5.5 percent. Boris Nemtsov recently restated his expectation that
foreign investment in Russia will double this year.
In light of this talk, timed to play to a couple of recent and upcoming
conferences on investment, it is appropriate to gauge how realistic
predictions of investment growth actually are.
Things do not look as rosy as the government would like you to think.
First, there is gross domestic product. The government trumpeted a
growth of 0.4 percent in 1997, which was mostly attributable to
industrial output growth of 1.9 percent. The government estimated that
GDP would edge up by another 2 percent in 1998, but the figure was
subsequently lowered to 1.2 percent while prospects for industrial
growth were lowered to 0.7 percent from an earlier estimate of 2
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin recently stated that Russia would
strictly adhere to monetarist policies. Such adherence leads to a
laissez-faire approach in investment policies and corresponding attitude
towards economic growth. Growth has come to be worshipped almost
fetishistically, without considering which specific industries
contribute to it. Such a monetaristic stance should be viewed as a
continuation of Yegor Gaidar's approach to the market economy in the
early days following the collapse of the Soviet Union -- the market is
totally efficient and thus everything will clear on its own. According
to this policy, government "interference" only makes things worse. Such
a policy is oriented toward private investors whose only concern is
In fact, the government, saddled with fiscal problems as it is, has
little room to maneuver. Meanwhile, a number of industries essential to
the national economy have already gone below the waterline. Light
industry and agriculture dropped. As a result food imports accounted for
27.7 percent of total imports and machinery took 37.2 percent of
imports. It's time for the government to think of providing incentives
for domestic production, or Russia will remain extremely vulnerable to
all kinds of external shocks.
Additionally, machinery imports are likely to increase if the economy
continues to recover. This will lead to a worsening of current account
balance. The positive current account balance already shrank by 25
percent last year. The worsening current account balance adds to
concerns over domestic currency leading to a likely decline in investor
A few areas of the economy did do well last year. Telecommunications
topped the list with sales profitability (earnings divided by sales) of
25.5 percent (all figures calculated on an accrual basis). Four other
branches were also profitable: energy, fuel industry, non-ferrous metals
and engineering. Given that 70 percent of investments in Russia are
provided by companies themselves, it's no surprise that 67 percent of
investments in industry were taken by fuel and energy companies. The
bulk of industries that increased output are export-oriented or provide
services to export-oriented companies.
Lower prices on exports, however, have already led to reassessment of
investment prospects for 1998. Prices for nickel slumped by 25 percent
and foreign investors lost interest towards development of the world's
largest nickel deposit, Zhdanovskoe, in the Murmansk region. Due to a
drop in prices LUKoil in February posted losses of $30 million on oil
exported through the Black Sea. It is hard to expect that
export-oriented industries will increase output this year, meaning that
economic growth will not be stimulated by exports. Lower revenues will
obviously lead to lower investments in exporting companies.
A few industries oriented toward the domestic market did post growth in
1997. Demand, for example, is growing fast for medicines and printing
products and companies seeking to take their share of the Russian market
are likely to continue getting on board. Manufacturing is another area
that improved somewhat last year.
Unfortunately, these industries account for only a small share of the
national economy, which suffers from tremendous inefficiency in its
management of resources. Only the Hong Kong flu finally forced the
government to stop increasing the level of government debt, which
consumed the bulk of domestic investments. The stagnation in
export-oriented industries combined with slow growth in industries
oriented toward domestic consumption will likely to lead to a tiny
increase or flat GDP this year. In this light, Nemtsov's comment that he
expects foreign investment to double each year is very doubtful.
The government begins to look toward funds from local investors, but
rampant minority shareholders' rights violations, high taxes and general
dissatisfaction with government policies are likely to keep domestic
investments depressed. As a result, direct investments in 1998 are
likely to continue declining or, in a best-case scenario, remain flat.
Christian Science Monitor
March 10, 1998
Debating a Super-NATO
Whether NATO should expand isn't likely to be a topic this month on
But whether Americans are watching or not, the US Senate is scheduled to
take up this question. Some of those who follow the issue are calling it
the most important decision about NATO since its founding in 1949.
If the Senate ratifies - and other NATO members concur - Poland, the
Czech Republic, and Hungary will join next year. The Senate Foreign
Relations Committee already has voted 16 to 2 in favor. Although the
measure looks likely to pass, opposition seems to be rising in both
What will the debate be all about? You're likely to hear the following
points being made. Senators who agree with the Clinton administration
that NATO should expand will argue:
* Now that major countries of Eastern Europe are democracies, why have
an alliance with Western European democracies but exclude eastern ones?
* Since the new members will be allies, they expand the area of Europe
where wars will not happen.
* A bigger NATO becomes a stronger super-NATO, adding about 200,000
* The prospect of NATO membership has given aspiring countries an
incentive to solve their own problems. These countries have had to
strengthen their democratic institutions, make sure their militaries are
under civilian control, and resolve old ethnic and border disputes in
order to qualify for membership.
* The risks of making an enemy of Russia are real, but manageable.
Moscow won't be pleased to see NATO move closer to its borders. But
failing to expand won't make US-Russian disagreements - including how to
deal with Iraq, Iran, and nuclear arms control - go away either.
Among those cheering for passage: former President Gerald Ford, former
Armed Forces Chief of Staff Colin Powell, and Bush administration
Secretary of State James Baker.
Meanwhile, senators who disagree with the administration and want to
delay NATO expansion will argue:
* It will poison relations between the US and Russia and hold up passage
of the Start II arms-control treaty that would cut Russia's stockpile of
10,000 nuclear weapons. A change of government in Russia could find
these weapons pointed at the US again.
* Current members often differ. Greece and Turkey are in a cold war. Why
add more competing interests?
* Russia isn't a credible military threat to these countries right now,
so what's the rush?
* It'll cost the US a bundle. Forecasts vary widely, from $1.5 billion
(a White House figure that seems far too low) to $125 billion, the
Congressional Budget Office's number.
Among those expressing doubts about expansion are a bipartisan group of
former senators, including Sam Nunn; two recent ambassadors to Moscow;
and former CIA director Stansfield Turner.
So, what to do?
A group of 17 senators want to delay a vote until after June 1. But
debate isn't likely to be any different then. It's now time to show
support for the three countries in this round, who've done everything
asked of them to qualify. But then NATO should cool the admission of new
It would make sense for future members to join the European Union as a
precursor to joining NATO. EU membership provides economic, political,
and social ties essential to a stable, nonthreatening Europe. And that
should foster a smoother mutual defense relationship.
St. Petersburg Times
MARCH 9-15, 1998
Kremlin Decision To Bury Tsar Brave, Correct
THE TOPIC remains a mass of controversy but the government and President
Boris Yeltsin have together taken a courageous decision in opting to
press ahead and bury the remains of the last tsar and his family, in the
traditional resting place of the Romanov dynasty in St. Petersburg.
Burying the remains, which were uncovered near Yekaterinburg in 1991 and
have lain in a forensic laboratory for the past seven years, will be not
only an act of basic human decency, but also a valuable step in coming
to terms with Russia's ghastly history this century.
But the event itself may have a few uncomfortable pauses.
Despite exhaustive scientific evidence based on DNA testing that has
confirmed the remains are those of Nicholas II and his family, shot by
Bolsheviks in 1918, the Russian Orthodox Church last week ruled that it
cannot yet accept that the remains are authentic.
That was actually a compromise from the church's earlier position; at
least now it has agreed that the remains be buried. But it will consider
them only as those of victims of Bolshevik religious repression. Since
the church will officiate at the burial, this could raise some problems
The church's position of compromise is the result of pressure from
arch-conservatives who already regard Nicholas II as a saint and somehow
consider it profane to apply DNA testing to his remains.
If it turns out the remains are fake, these people say, then anyone who
prays to them will be committing the grievous sin of praying to a false
relic. Rationalists may counter that there is a lot more proof of the
authenticity of these remains than there is of all the bits of medieval
bone and hair that are revered as holy relics in Orthodox churches all
Moreover, if the bones are not the tsar's, there is no reason for the
church to claim that they belong to Christian martyrs.
But in the end, the church's decision, while logically inconsistent, may
be a clever political compromise.
It will not really matter exactly what is said at the funeral or what
inscription is carved into the gravestone.
The important thing is that the bones will be buried in the old imperial
capital. For the majority of rational Russians, the event and the tomb
will be a symbol of national repentance for the horrors of the Bolshevik
The church's sophistry will hopefully allay some of the anger from
arch-conservatives who may yet regard as sacrilege the government's
decision to press ahead with a burial in the Romanov chapel.
Burying the tsar also opens the way to an eventual burial for Lenin -
probably also in St. Petersburg, next to his mother - something Lenin
himself asked for in his will
Could there be a better way to lay to rest the mistakes and excesses and
horrors of the Soviet era than to give a final resting place to both
Lenin and his most famous victims?
Now all eyes will be on St. Petersburg. The city must work hard to deal
with the influx of guests - and also to maintain order in the face of
already brewing opposition to the funeral among extremists.
U.S. Backs Latvian Protesters
9 March 1998
By BARRY SCHWEID
WASHINGTON (AP) - The State Department backed the right of Russian pensioners
who live in Latvia to demonstrate for better living conditions and called a
confrontation with Riga police unfortunate.
A State Department official said there is no evidence to back up Russian
charges that Latvia violated the pensioners' human rights or to substantiate
Latvian President Guntars Krasts' view that the demonstrations may have been a
Latvian police used batons to disperse the protest last Tuesday. The
pensioners were blocking a road in Riga, the Latvian capital.
Although no injuries were reported, the incident has become a flash point for
tensions between Russia and the Baltic nation, which Russians accuse of
discriminating against its sizable Russian minority.
On Monday, Russia complained that a Soviet monument in Latvia had been
vandalized with the ``obvious'' sanction of the government, the latest in a
series of incidents straining relations between the two former Soviet
According to the Russian foreign ministry, vandals on Sunday desecrated a
of Soviet soldiers - mostly Russians, presumably - who died fighting Nazis in
Latvia in World War II.
The State Department, meanwhile, urged the Latvian government to determine
whether any Latvian police violated the law and to make public the results of
the investigation quickly.
In the long run, the interests of Russia and Latvia would be served best by
improving their relations, said the State Department official, who gave the
department's position on the dispute on condition he would not be identified.
There is no systematic pattern of human rights abuses against non-citizen
communities in Latvia, the official said.
>From Russia Today press summaries
9 March 1998
For All That, Russia Has Been Lucky
On the eve of International Women's Day, which is marked on March 8 and
is a state holiday in Russia, the daily interviewed REN-TV president
The television channel is rapidly growing in popularity in Russia. A few
days earlier, Lesnevskaya received the "Woman of the Year" award. The
award was established by the Alliance of Russian and American women and
is given to women for great achievements in professional and public
Lesnevskaya, a well-known television personality, touched upon matters
connected with the industry's rather gloomy past in Russia rather than
She said it was a mistake when three years ago she and her companions
Vlad Listyev, Andrei Razbash and her son Anatoly Malkin eagerly went in
for the privatization of the Ostankino channel, which became the joint
stock venture ORT television. She said the move cost Listyev his life.
His murder has yet to be solved.
Lesnevskaya also said that she made another mistake, when she went to
the presidential security chief Aleksander Korzhakov, who was an
influential confidante of the president at the time, and told him what
she thought about Listyev's murder. She said this was because of the
great shock she was in at the time.
RUSSIA TODAY Notes:
The popular television journalist Vladislav Listyev was shot dead in
1995 in a suspected contract killing. His death sparked a public outcry,
but years later the case still remains unsolved.
>From Russia Today press summaries
9 March 1998
Not Much Change on the Women's Front
MEN ARE ANNOYED WITH THE ACTIVITIES OF THE "WEAKER SEX"
The daily discussed the status of women in Russia, to mark International
Women's Day on March 8.
It wrote about various types of women's unions in Russia, which total
more than 400 public organizations. The most prominent are the "Women of
Russia" political party and the "Mothers of Soldiers," who protect their
sons from the army.
It is widely believed that fighters for equal rights of women have
achieved greater success in the West than in Russia, the daily wrote.
But it said that in fact the idea has penetrated much deeper in Russia,
because of the Soviet past, which made most women the providers for
their families. There are few limitations on women in the professional
sphere, the daily wrote, and in the family, women simply dominate -- in
most cases they manage the family budget by simply appropriating their
On the other hand, the extremes of feminism are alien to Russian women,
the daily wrote. Eighty percent of Russian women do not think that a
compliment from their boss constitutes sexual harassment, and even if
the boss suggests that his female employee spend the evening with him,
40 percent of Russian women do not view this as an indecent proposal.
Suspicious Americans would be indignant at these figures, the daily
>From Russia Today press summaries
9 March 1998
Democracy Minus Woman Is Not Democracy
THE SOCIETY WILL NOT BECOME NORMAL OR STABLE UNTIL WOMEN FIND A MORE
ADEQUATE PLACE IN IT
In the course of reforms, women have been gradually ousted from the most
important sectors of society, Nezavisimaya wrote.
First they were pushed out of top political posts (before perestroika,
30 percent of the elected deputies were women, in the Supreme Council of
1989 15 percent, and in the present State Duma 11 percent). Then women
were deprived of equal rights in the labor market. The share of women
among the total unemployed is 74 percent, and this reaches 90 percent in
According to polls, only 1 percent of Russians would prefer to have a
woman as their boss, the daily added. Third, women have been ousted from
education, because now that the education has become tuition-based, most
students at private universities are boys.
All the achievements of the socialist era in providing equal rights for
women have been forgotten. The daily attributed this to the image of
"wild capitalism" that has prevailed in the media and in the plans of
"young reformers," which totally ignore the social sphere.
Russia says it has best approach on Kosovo crisis
By David Ljunggren
LONDON, March 9 (Reuters) - Russia said on Monday it felt its more
restrained approach to solving the Kosovo crisis stood the best chance of
success, arguing it had more experience of ethnic and separatist conflicts
than the West.
``We think we have an advantage, perhaps in that we are more objective
and responsible, having ourselves lived through similar situations,'' deputy
foreign minister Nikolai Afanasyevsky told reporters.
``Perhaps we are (therefore) more thoughtful about how to foresee the
results of what is being considered and what is being done,'' he said after
major world powers of the six-nation Contact Group demanded Yugoslav
President Slobodan Milosevic end a bloody crackdown on ethnic Albanians.
Russia, which insists both Yugoslav authorities and Albanian guerrillas
are equally to blame, dissented from a decision by Britain, Italy, France,
the United States and Germany to impose immediate financial sanctions on
``We use a more balanced and impartial approach which looks less
spectacular at first glance but which turns out to be more productive. I
think our partners will eventually see and understand who is right and who
better understands the situation,'' Afanasyevsky said.
``Perhaps we are less influenced by recent press and mass media coverage
of the problems. I think Russia has a greater understanding of how complex
the problem is.''
Before the Soviet Union broke up in late 1991 Moscow had to grapple with
separatist and ethnic conflicts in several of the 15 republics.
Tens of thousands of people died later in the Chechen war after the
southern Russian region declared independence.
``It is hard work. It's no use pretending otherwise. It's a very tough
problem. It will be very hard to find the right solution and even harder to
make it work,'' Afanasyevsky said.
``Unlike some of our partners in the Contact Group, we oppose laying the
entire blame for what is happening on Milosevic, the former republic of
Yugoslavia and Serb authorities. The problem is not simple.''
Russia, a traditional ally of the Serbs, opposes any kind of direct
international involvement in the crisis.
``Solving the problem should be left to the Serbs and the Albanian
Kosovans themselves. We can help, we can advise, push and prod, but no one
on the outside will solve the problem,'' Afanasyevsky said.
Moscow opposes further sanctions on Serbia on the grounds that they will
``Our conclusion after our experiences of the last few years is that one
has to be very careful about sanctions. They are very tough and very
dangerous weapons and have to be considered only in extreme situations,''
``One has to ask who suffers -- is it the people the sanctions are aimed
at or the population?''
Tough international sanctions on Iraq and the former Yugoslavia hit the
former Soviet Union doubly hard, depriving it of profitable export markets
and leaving it saddled with large debts.
St. Petersburg Times
MARCH 9-15, 1998
FSB Gets More Time on Nikitin Case
By Charles Digges
Federal Security Service officials said the Prosecutor General had given
them another month to compile their mounting case against
environmentalist and accused spy Alexander Nikitin - dimming prospects
that the case will come to trial any time soon.
The latest extension for investigators - the sixth they have received
during the 21-month long investigation - comes on the heels of a rare
television appearance Friday by the local chief of the Federal Security
Service, or FSB, Viktor Cherkesov.
Appearing on Channel 5's talk show "Srok Otveta Segodnya", Cherkesov
said Nikitin was a spy and that the FSB, the KGB's successor
organization, would prove it.
"Nikitin is a spy and we are confident that our investigation proves
this," said Cherkesov.
Though Alexander Kolb, the latest of several lead investigators on the
case, said the FSB was not given an exact date on which its newest
extension would expire, he said that the extension would last "about a
"During that time we will be acquainting ourselves with the case
materials," he said in a telephone interview Monday.
Nikitin himself said he had expected the new extension.
"It means investigators will show us some more documents and ask more
questions, like they've been doing for the past 21 months," he said in a
telephone interview Monday. "It's nothing new."
Last week, FSB officials filed charges of treason against Nikitin for a
record sixth time. Kolb said this was done because the previous five
charges against Nikitin had to be "amplified."
"I believe the charges must be accurate and certain. With this new
charge, it is now accurate and certain," Kolb said.
Nikitin is accused of treason for his role in writing a report critical
of the Northern Fleet's handling of the nuclear waste it generates. The
FSB says the report contained state secrets. Nikitin and his supporters
with the Norwegian environmental group Bellona, which published the
report, say the report is based on public record.
Nikitin was arrested in February 1996 and jailed for more than ten
months. He was released on a pledge that he would not leave St.
Petersburg before his trial.
The first set of formal charges against Nikitin were not filed, however,
until he had been in jail for seven months. The sixth set of charges,
like the previous five, is based largely on a Defense Ministry decree
that is classified, and thus unknown to the general public.
Because of its classified status, Nikitin and his lawyers have not been
permitted to see the decree - which has the force of law - he is accused