This Date's Issues:
Johnson's Russia List
to CDI's Home Page I Return
to CDI's Library
24 March 1998
[Note from David Johnson:
I hope that computer problems are close to being solved. Not a
good time to be without JRL.
1. AP: Yeltsin Fires Russian Government.
2. Reuters: Kiriyenko to start talks on new Russian government.
3. WP: Nora Boustany, Boosting Krasnoyarsk. (Lebed).
4. Interfax: Nemtsov's Web Site Attracts Great Interest.
5. Interfax: Nemtsov: I Am A Bone In Berezovsky's Throat.
6. Floriana Fossato (RFE/RL): Russia: Analysis: Yeltsin Shocks
World By Sacking Government.
7. Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Alexei Pushkov, WHO WANTS PRIMAKOV OUT?
8. Moscow Times: Natalya Shulyakovskaya, Rise and Fall of Russia's
Outspoken Ecologist. (Alexei Yablokov)
9. AP: Russia: Arms-Control Treaty Near.
10. Boston Globe: David Filipov, Pyramids point way to a better world,
Yeltsin Fires Russian Government
March 23, 1998
By MITCHELL LANDSBERG
MOSCOW (AP) - President Boris Yeltsin picked a little-known reformer as
acting prime minister Monday after firing his entire Cabinet without
warning. He promised that Russia's biggest government shakeup since the
Soviet Union dissolved would not derail democratic and free-market reforms.
Yeltsin shocked many Russians when he dismissed the Cabinet, including
his stolid and loyal prime minister, Viktor Chernomyrdin. Few had ever
heard of the man named as Chernomyrdin's acting replacement, Sergei Kirienko.
Despite the shakeup, leaders from Yeltsin on down insisted Russia was
not teetering on the verge of a political crisis.
``There is no governmental crisis in the country,'' Chernomyrdin said
after losing the job he had held since 1992. ``This is a natural and
routine process of renewing power. One thing is clear: The course of
reforms in Russia is irreversible.''
Most Cabinet members were ordered to stay on temporarily and many,
including Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov, were expected to keep their
In Washington, State Department spokesman James Foley said Secretary of
State Madeleine Albright will discuss implications of the changes with
Primakov during a previously arranged meeting Tuesday in Bonn, Germany.
President Clinton, traveling in Africa, said Yeltsin's action is not
likely to harm the partnership he has been trying to build with Moscow.
One symbol of U.S.-Russian cooperation has been Vice President Al Gore's
frequent meetings with Chernomyrdin. Their last meeting, just 10 days ago,
produced a flurry of accords and good will.
Yeltsin said he needed a fresh government to re-energize economic
reforms, which he said were moving too slowly, jeopardizing the future of
democracy in Russia.
``I believe that recently the government has been lacking dynamism and
initiative, new outlooks, fresh approaches and ideas. And without this, a
powerful breakthrough in the economy is impossible,'' he said, speaking
slowly and calmly in a nationwide television broadcast.
The Russian economy actually has begun to show signs of growth after
years of decline. But as Yeltsin acknowledged, it has been too little, too
late for many people.
Yeltsin fires deputies frequently, and is known for a strategy of
shifting blame to others for perceived failures of his government. But
Chernomyrdin had survived so long that many considered him untouchable.
``It came as a total surprise,'' said Gennady Seleznyov, the speaker of
the State Duma, the opposition-controlled lower house of Parliament.
Yeltsin indicated he had a candidate for prime minister, but did not
reveal his choice. His press secretary, Sergei Yastrzhembsky, told NTV
television that Kirienko was the ``most likely'' candidate for the post.
Yeltsin has two weeks to nominate a candidate for approval by the Duma,
which has frequently criticized the government's reform policies and is not
likely to give its consent easily.
As the day wore on, speculation grew about what the changes would mean.
Was Yeltsin freeing Chernomyrdin to run for president in 2000? The
president seemed to say so, telling Chernomyrdin to begin preparations for
Or was he handing a victory to billionaire financier Boris Berezovsky,
who has feuded with Yeltsin's two leading reformers, Boris Nemtsov and
Berezovsky had mounted a vicious media campaign in recent weeks,
demanding the reformers' dismissal, while they responded with charges that
the tycoon was plotting to take control of the economy.
Berezovsky, who with other wealthy businessmen financed Yeltsin's 1996
re-election campaign, was dismissed from the Security Council last fall
after clashing with Chubais.
Or was the choice of Kirienko as acting prime minister an endorsement of
Nemtsov, the young deputy prime minister whose political star had appeared
to be dimming?
Kirienko, 35, is from Nemtsov's hometown of Nizhny Novgorod, and served
as Nemtsov's deputy before becoming fuel and energy minister last November.
``It shows me that Mr. Nemtsov's position in the future government will
be rather stronger than in the previous one,'' said Nikolai Petrov, a
political analyst with the Carnegie Endowment for Peace.
He described Kirienko as ``the most effective manager in Nemtsov's
team,'' but a man of far-too-limited experience to become an effective
Yeltsin's action was hailed by the communist-led opposition, which
called it long overdue.
``Communists have never trusted this course or this government or
believed that it could manage the tasks it faced,'' said Communist Party
leader Gennady Zyuganov.
But it seemed unlikely that the communists would be any happier with a
new Yeltsin government - except to the extent that it excludes their most
hated foe, Chubais, the architect of Russian privatization and one of the
country's least popular men.
Chubais was tarnished last year for accepting a $90,000 advance on a
yet-to-be-published book that critics have called a de facto bribe.
The dismissals of Chernomyrdin and his top aides were expected to shake
the confidence of foreign investors and aid donors, who have been playing a
major role in supporting the struggling Russian economy.
The Moscow Stock Exchange plunged on news of the dismissals but steadied
after Yeltsin's television address.
Kiriyenko to start talks on new Russian government
By Mark Trevelyan
MOSCOW, March 24 (Reuters) - Russia's acting Prime Minister Sergei
Kiriyenko was due to start consultations on forming a new cabinet on
Tuesday after President Boris Yeltsin exploded a political bombshell by
sacking the entire government.
Kiriyenko, the 35-year-old fuel and energy minister, was a surprise
choice to replace stolid veteran Viktor Chernomyrdin.
Most outgoing ministers were expected to keep their places in a new
team, yet to be named, which Yeltsin said must act more decisively to
revive Russia's flagging reforms and make tangible improvements in ordinary
But a presidential decree made clear that Anatoly Chubais, a dominant
liberal figure since the launch of market reforms in 1992, had definitely
lost his post.
The fate of the government's other star reformer, first deputy prime
minister Boris Nemtsov, remained unclear.
Foreign investors were optimistic he would retain a key role, perhaps
even as prime minister. But Yeltsin's press secretary Sergei Yastrzhembsky
said Kiriyenko, far from being a temporary appointee, might take over
``I would take the risk of suggesting that, as of now, he is the most
probable, the strongest and most real candidate,'' Yastrzhembsky told NTV
The Kremlin said foreign policy would not be altered, and U.S. President
Bill Clinton, on a trip to Africa, said he had no reason to doubt this.
Reassured Russian markets bounced back after taking an initial hit on
the news that Chernomyrdin, seen as a calming influence, had gone. The
benchmark RTS share index began the day four percent off, but ended 2.1
Abroad, market reaction was muted, bu 5/8 Russia delayed a sovereign
eurobond issue -- its first planned borrowing this year on international
capital markets -- and Moscow city followed suit.
Kiriyenko, balding and bespectacled, said Yeltsin had given him a free
hand to assemble candidates for a new government, but the president would
take the final decision.
The young technocrat, a reformer and Nemtsov ally, said he would hold
serious consultations with the opposition-dominated parliament ``and with
all those people on whom the economic and political situation in Russia
He said a new package of measures would be discussed in the next few
days to pay off huge wage arrears to state sector workers, an intractable
problem which Chernomyrdin's government tried and failed to resolve.
Yeltsin, who seems to thrive on crises, made his shock announcement
after disappearing from public view for much of last week with a cold.
``The dismissal of the government does not mean a change of course in
our policy,'' the 67-year-old Kremlin leader said. ``It is an effort to
make economic reforms more energetic and effective, to give them a
political push, a new impulse.''
Political analysts said the dramatic move seemed aimed at least partly
at demonstrating that Yeltsin, dogged for years by heart problems and other
health scares, was firmly in control as he prepares for a summit this week
with the French and German leaders.
Yeltsin also threw wide open the contest to succeed him when his term
expires in 2000, shattering the conventional wisdom that Chernomyrdin was
the clear front-runner.
After more than five years as prime minister, Cherngmyrdin was shorn of
his main power base just as powerful business interests appeared to be
lining up behind him.
20 March 1998
[for personal use only]
By Nora Boustany
Alexander Lebed likes to look people straight in the eye. His level gaze
seems a little bored and ahead of the game. Ebullient, a little brusque
but slickly coiffed and fit, the former general and Kremlin security
chief is running for governor of a wealthy Siberian province. So if you
have never heard of Krasnoyarsk, you will: It's the electoral stepping
stone for his presidential ambitions.
An iconoclast by Russian standards, Lebed makes it plain that his
platform is to work from the bottom up. "We used to have a perfect
future, which we together called communism. Now the party of power has
chosen a new label, and the future is still perfect," he said. "I am
interested in earthly reform. Land reform to stimulate production, local
tax collection. . . . If they are interested in the future, let them go
The Russian people are his passion. In spite of everything they have
undergone, people in Russia are intelligent and strong-willed, he
argued. "It is not their fault that the country lost in a confrontation.
It is the communist system, the communist ideology which wasted all of
the efforts of these people and they do not see America, or the West as
their enemy," he said.
Lebed's candor comes armed with an arsenal of colorful images and
populist proverbs. Giving out specifics about deals to modernize the
infrastructure of Krasnoyarsk would be like "dividing the hide of an
unkilled bear." Speaking through an interpreter, he told Washington Post
editors and reporters Wednesday: "As soon as I win, specific
transactions will follow."
Lebed had few kind words to say about ailing Russian President Boris
Yeltsin, referring to a series of embarrassing slips he made. The
president is undergoing medical treatment and taking five or six
vacations a year, he added. "He is not ruling," said Lebed, who was made
security chief after backing Yeltsin in the last presidential election.
Lebed described Yeltsin as "inadequate." He is "not governing, he is
reigning, he is being a czar," Lebed charged, claiming that all the
president does is sign decrees and edicts, which get carried out only in
In a country crawling with corruption, as a free-market economy emerges
from the ravages of communism, Lebed said, the business community truly
governs and the old formula holds: "Money is making power, and power is
making money." Privatization was important, he said, but not without
careful auditing and competition. "Big slices went to those who found
themselves in the kitchen when the pie was being cut, small pieces to
those standing in the corridor. . . . All the others got nothing," he
continued. To hold an asset, one has to spend money, manage it, pay
back, create jobs and pay salaries, taxes and generate welfare, he said,
emphasizing, "Become an efficient owner." "No sticks, no tanks and no
dictatorship" should be used to bring change, he added.
In the latest crisis with Iraq, Lebed said, "the United States stopped
in good time and deprived itself of rather dubious pleasures of an
American Chechnya the size of the Islamic nation, a big hole in the
bottom of a big ship."
He sidestepped saying how he might reformulate policy on Iraq, since
Russia has oil interests there. "Russia of course lost, because the war
would have benefited it. Had a war started, world oil prices would not
have dropped," he said. He prefers a "peaceful settlement," though. As
someone who fought a lot, "I know for certain, the issues that can be
settled through war are very few and far between."
Lebed said billions of dollars are needed to destroy 400,000 tons of
toxic agents stored in rusting tanks in Russia, and there is no money to
disassemble any of the Russian navy's 132 nuclear submarines with
nuclear reactors that have not yet been dismantled. When another
Chernobyl occurs, trillions will be needed to clean up the mess from
something "that would put a fat cross on humanity," he said, adding that
the only way reduce such threats is "to find the secret, put a ring
through its nose and lead it." He likened big powers trying to hold on
to weapons of mass destruction as a "suicide club."
Nemtsov's Web Site Attracts Great Interest
20 March 1998
MOSCOW -- Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov's web sites
have sparked great interest and enabled him to start a dialogue with
Internet users, his press secretary Andrei Pershin said Friday.
He said that Nemtsov's sites, which were launched on Monday, registered
11,000 hits in the first three days. A spokesman for a leading provider
company told Interfax that the site for President Boris Yeltsin and his
staff registers about 1,000 hits daily, while that of the Moscow mayor's
office gets about 270 and the Duma 80.
Experts described the number of visits to Nemtsov's server as abnormally
Pershin said Nemtsov has received over 250 letters from Internet users
containing questions, asking for a virtual interview or offering advice.
One even invited Nemtsov to go parachuting.
According to Pershin, 75 percent of the letters were from Russian
nationals, 10 percent from Russians émigrés and 15 percent from
Nemtsov has answered the visitors of his Internet server and admitted he
was pleasantly surprised by such great interest in his page. He promised
that he would reply to questions as time permits and with the help of
"I know that it is customary on the Internet to reply in one to three
days to a visitor," his message said. Nemtsov asked the visitors to take
into account that it would be difficult for him to stick to the Internet
rule but that he would try to.
Nemtsov can be reached on the web at http://www.nemtsov.ru. and
http://www.boris.nemtsov.ru. An email message can be sent to the first
deputy prime minister at email@example.com.
Nemtsov: I Am A Bone In Berezovsky's Throat
MOSCOW, March 20 (Interfax)- Russian First Deputy Prime Minister *Boris
Nemtsov* thinks he has become a bone in the throat of prominent
businessman and former Security Council deputy secretary Boris
In an interview with Komsomolskaya Pravda published Friday Nemtsov said:
"He [Berezovsky] thought I would be tame and lobby his personal
interests in the government."
Berezovsky "is one of those who regard themselves as the true masters of
the country and think that those formally in power only do their
bidding," Nemtsov said.
On the existence of an alleged videotape exposing him Nemtsov said:
"This talk of an exposing tape material is meant for simpletons. Let
them show it." In his opinion, there can be no exposing materials
against him. "I think Mr. Berezovsky & Co. would not have denied
themselves the pleasure of showing the cassette a long time ago, if it
really existed," he said.
"I have the right to spend my day off the way I want. For example, I
have the right to visit nightclubs even though a hundred cameras spy on
me. I have nothing to be ashamed of. I am doing nothing immoral," he
Commenting on a recent decision of President Boris Yeltsin to strip
deputy prime ministers of security Nemtsov said he did not feel less
comfortable without bodyguards. "But on the other hand, deputy prime
ministers decide about matters worth trillions of rubles. Very often
their decisions affect the interests of powerful groups. And that is
quite dangerous," he added.
He complained that all decisions to prevent embezzlement arouse "great
"There are specific interests of concrete groups everywhere. One should
step on their necks every day so that they would not get too arrogant,"
Nemtsov said. This in its turn enrages certain circles and this rage
takes the form of torpedoing any decisions. "Everyone seems supportive
but when it comes to signing, nobody signs" he said.
According to him, the oligarches have done very much to divide the
country between themselves. "But it is not all over yet. Their own
position is quite shaky. Their financial empires may turn to dust
overnight," Nemtsov said.
Earlier Berezovsky told Interfax commenting on Nemtsov's recent
statements: "I am not in Moscow but it seems that the last week the
Russian media was dominated by two subjects: striptease and Nemtsov."
"While at the beginning of the week Nemtsov acted as a spectator, later
he acted as a striptease performer - a political striptease performer
demonstrating complete lack of professionalism and education,"
"As you know oligarchy means the merger of power and money. In this case
one of two things is true: either Nemtsov is not the first deputy prime
minister, or those to whom he points his finger do not constitute the
oligarchy," Berezovsky said.
Russia: Analysis: Yeltsin Shocks World By Sacking Government
By Floriana Fossato
Moscow, 23 March 1998 (RFE/RL) -- Russia's President Boris Yeltsin, a
politician known for his bold and unexpected actions, shocked
politicians, observers and market traders today when he fired Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and the entire government.
However, a few hours after the announcement, most observers in Moscow
said Yeltsin's decision, immediately following the President's return to
the Kremlin after more than a week of political inactivity due to his
last illness, was meant to send a signal that he is firmly in power. And
that he does not allow others to make - or even be perceived to make -
political decisions in his place.
Political analysts Sergei Markov and Andrei Piantkovsky told RFE/RL that
the move "benefits Yeltsin in the first place, and also gives a partial
boost to the positions of the reformers." At the same time, they say,
Yeltsin's decision and the way it was announced "is a blow, and a
warning to Chernomyrdin." According to the analysts, Yeltsin has been
disturbed by the Kremlin infighting of the last two months concerning
the naming of a successor for the year 2000.
Russian commentators, and politically connected businessmen controlling
media assets, have hinted that powerful Russian financial and media
circles seemed to be consolidating their support behind Chernomyrdin,
who has served as Prime Minister for more than five years. Cheromyrdin
was previously a top executive in Russia's natural gas giant Gazprom.
The government's perceived top economic reformers, Anatoly Chubais and
Boris Nemtsov, have been locked in a power struggle with some of
Russia's main financial tycoons over control of the economy. Among the
tycoons were those who had played a key role in backing Yeltsin's 1996
re-election, including Boris Berezovsky.
Berezovsky said in a long interview broadcasted by NTV television Sunday
night that he doubts Yeltsin could be elected President for a third
consecutive term in 2000. He said that "even though Yeltsin is now
undoubtedly political figure number-one, I believe he will not be
electable in 2000." He added that "new authorities should not cash in on
the mistakes of their predecessors, but build on the positive
achievements of today's regime."
Many observers have been surprised by the businessman's decision-making
tone. Political analyst Markov said Yeltsin might have viewed
Berezovsky's comments as a "provocation," a challenge to Yeltsin's
According to Markov, Yeltsin's move shows that "the President wants to
decide himself who will be the best candidate for the "party of power"
in the next presidential election. For this reason, today he told
Chernomyrdin "to focus on the political preparation for the next
election." Markov added that Yeltsin's move means Chernomyrdin, who
scores only two to three percent popularity ratings in opinion polls
nationwide, "will now have to prove to the President that he can be a
candidate for the 'party of power'."
Both analysts concluded that it will be extremely difficult for
Chernomyrdin to boost his position among the electorate without the
visibility and influence of his previous political office. He is now
simply the leader of the "Our Home is Russia" movement. Chernomyrdin has
so far denied that he will run in the next presidential election.
Yeltsin, appearing on NTV commercial television a few hours after the
Kremlin announcement, said that he has "instructed Chernomyrdin to
concentrate on political preparations for the presidential elections in
the year 2000." He added that "for us, the 2000 elections are very
important. One can say that this is the future destiny of Russia."
In remarks that some commentators in Moscow have interpreted as
Yeltsin's farewell to Chernomyrdin, the President praised Chernomyrdin
as "thorough, reliable, and trustworthy," and said that "we have worked
together for more than five years. He has done a lot for the country."
But Yeltsin added, "Russia now needs a new team that can get real
Yeltsin said the Chernomyrdin-led Cabinet had done well in some areas,
but, "it is lagging behind in the social sphere." He said that a new
team will have to work hard to persuade citizens that market reforms
would improve their lives, and will also have to concentrate more on
economics and less on political infighting.
Over the weekend, Yeltsin criticized the government's chronic inability
to pay wages and pensions on time. Today, Yeltsin said that the outgoing
cabinet lacked dynamism, initiative and "fresh approaches," and
complained that many Russians "do not feel changes for the better."
Following his meeting with Chernomyrdin this morning, Yeltsin signed
separate decrees firing not only the Prime Minister but also First
Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais and Interior Minister Anatoly
Political analyst Markov said Chubais, who has recently been appointed
as a new board chairman of Russia's Soviet-era electricity monopoly, is
likely to continue acting with other reformers in his new capacity.
Kulikov's future is viewed as more unpredictable.
Chubais told Interfax news agency that he has talked with Yeltsin and
will remain a member of his "team" - however, he did not say in what
capacity. Chubais said he knew in advance of Yeltsin's decision to
dismiss the government, which, he said, had been under consideration for
a long time.
In his television address, Yeltsin stressed repeatedly that the
dismissal of the government does not mean a change of the course of
Outgoing Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov, who today continued to work
on the preparation of the three-way Russia-Germany-France summit in
Moscow this week, said that the country's foreign policy would not be
affected by the shake-up.
A visibly shaken Chernomyrdin, speaking in a separate television
broadcast after Yeltsin's, said the dismissal of his government is not a
"a catastrophe," and does not give "grounds for panic."
State Duma Deputy Chairman Vladimir Ryzhkov, who is also a member of
Chernomyrdin's "Our Home is Russia" party, told Interfax that
Chernomyrdin's dismissal "was not a complete surprise." However, Ryzhkov
said Chernomyrdin found out only this morning.
In a sign that he remains committed to reform, Yeltsin today appointed
35-year-old Sergei Kirienko as a First Deputy Prime Minister, who will
also fill the role of chief of the government. Kirienko, who served as
Fuel and Energy Minister, is seen as an ally of Nemtsov.
Kremlin sources tell RFE/RL that Kirienko's name as a temporary
replacement for Chernomyrdin was suggested by Nemtsov. Kirienko has
already met Yeltsin to discuss the formation of the new government.
Nemtsov was also to meet Yeltsin. Nemtsov has declined to comment on the
shake-up, but analysts believe that his positions in the future
government may be strengthened.
Some analysts believe Kirienko's appointment may be only temporary.
Under Russia's Constitution, Yeltsin has two weeks in which to name a
new Prime Minister. The appointment must be approved by the State Duma,
and most observers agree that the approval of Kirienko by the lower
house of parliament, dominated by Communistsand nationalists, could be a
The names of other possible candidates are widely circulating in
Moscow's political circles. Among them are the Chairman of the
Federation Council (upper house of parliament) Yegor Stroev, Saratov's
Governor Dmitry Ayazkov, and Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov. However,
observers say the liberal leader of the pro-reform "Yabloko" movement
and Duma faction, economist Grigory Yavlinsky, has a good chance of
being offered the Prime Minister's post. Yavlinsky, one of the main
critics of the previous government's economic policy, was not in Moscow
today and has yet to comment on the shake-up.
>From RIA Novosti
March 20, 1998
WHO WANTS PRIMAKOV OUT?
By Alexei PUSHKOV
Last week, The Wall Street Journal, a leading American
paper, demanded that Boris Yeltsin should fire Foreign Minister
Yevgeni Primakov, no less. The paper's editorial accused
Primakov of all mortal sins: of having a sympathy for Saddam
Hussain, of supporting Slobodan Milosevic, another "war
criminal" who has escaped justice, of returning to the
Stalinist policy (sic!) and even of justifying the violent
deaths in Kosovo.
It is clear why Primakov is not to the liking of the
American Right, and not only the Right. In his person, the US
has run into a politician of the American type, one who is
stubbornly bargaining and pressing for what he wants, one who
sees the objective and is capable of finding bearings in the
turbulent sea of global diplomacy. Ready as they are to applaud
James Baker and Henry Kissinger, the Americans cannot bear the
thought that an equally tough and flexible diplomat is heading
Russia's foreign ministry. What exhilarates them in themselves
is hated in others.
The article is the pinnacle of the American press campaign
spearheaded against Primakov. The campaign provides a graphic
example of the newest American neurosis triggered off as it is
by the inability of the "only superpower" to manage the modern
world as it sees fit, having established complete and sole
control over it. Primakov's diplomacy only serves to highlight
this inability, yet is in no way its source.
True, Moscow has been the one to most consistently oppose
an American military strike at Iraq. But is Primakov to blame
that Washington has failed to enlist the support of a
sufficient number of states for its military operation,
including France, China and the majority of the Arab states? Is
Primakov to blame that the US choice of massive air strikes at
Iraq seemed so unconvincing even to many of America's allies?
Is it Primakov's fault that the leading troika of the
Clinton Administration - Madeleine Albright, Bill Cohen and
Samuel Berger - were nearly catcalled off the stage while
attempting to publicly explain the intention to bomb Iraq to an
all-American audience at Columbus, Ohio, and the CNN broadcast
this flop in public relations for the whole world to see?
Is it Primakov's fault that the American Administration
cannot produce a clear answer to the simple question: What is
the sense of massive air strikes at Iraq?
Is Primakov to blame that, as Newsweek indicates, the
American military are highly skeptical about the idea of a
"limited bomb strike" at Iraq, seeing it as outright silly,
while officials confide in private talks that the air strikes
are likely to mean the end of any inspections of Saddam's
secret laboratories and weapons stocks?
The American press is advised to view the effort to settle
the latest crisis around Iraq as a certain 'division of labour'
between the US and Russia, aiming as it is to attain the main
objective, that of resuming UN inspections. But it seems to be
more concerned with a different thing - the ability of the US
to impose its will in global affairs, the ability to punish and
pardon as it sees fit.
Primakov's predecessor, dubbed Mr. Yes, seems to have been
to America's liking. Primakov, on the contrary, does not agree
that everyone should toe the line of the US, the only pole of
influence! Is this reason enough to brand him an 'international
Is somebody to blame that the US has so far failed to
instill its "mono-polar" vision of the world order?
In his well-known paper "Diplomacy", Henry Kissinger notes
that what is really new in the world order now in the making is
that for the first ever time the US can neither isolate itself
from the rest of the world no dominate in it. A world order
that includes several states with comparable potentialities
should be built on a concept of a balance of forces, i.e. an
idea which has always been alien to the US, Kissinger writes.
He is right, of course: the US cannot dominate in the
modern world, but neither is it ready to put up with an
international balance of forces in which it would be a major,
yet not the only, centre of influence. A fatal contradiction
inherent in the American political mentality.
Empires are not interested in being within an
international system; they want to be the international system,
Kissinger points out. Empires have no need for a balance of
forces. This has always been the US policy in the American
America, an historic empire possessing the experience of
unlimited domination in the Western Hemisphere is striving to
proliferate this experience onto the rest of the world and
proclaim, echoing as it is Louis XIV: World order is me!
But can it be that the US is in for disappointment? Can it
be that the American influence, which is at its peak, would
eventually be offset by other centres of influence - the
European Union, China, Japan and even Russia?
Is not the situation around Iraq, Iran, China evidence of
the multipolarity of the world of today which is irritating so
many people in America?
Kissinger believes that the US' relative military might
would decrease in the next few decades, while the countries
which used to seek US protection for their security would begin
to leave the American wing.
The US is past the period of its hegemony in the years of
the cold war, Kissinger holds, and there is no promise of a new
hegemony to come. If he is right, the US has every reason to
feel sour. Here it is, the world, ready as it seems to be
ruled, but... But there is always a "but". There is every
reason why the US should become hysterical and demand
But Yeltsin has on more than one occasion warned that he
does not understand the language of ultimatums and pressure,
and that talking to him in this language is bound to produce
adverse results. Hopefully, the Russian president will continue
to be adamant.
Senator Fulbright once accused the US of high and mighty
ways. The case of high-handedly demanding Primakov's
resignation discredits America, rather than makes one respect
For more articles from The Moscow Times, check out their website at
March 21, 1998
Rise and Fall of Russia's Outspoken Ecologist
By Natalya Shulyakovskaya
Pictures of Alexei Yablokov look out from the walls of his Center for
Russian Environmental Policy. His eyebrows and beard are bushy, and his
face is framed by a halo of wild white hair like an atomic cloud.
A portrait of the prominent environmentalist also adorns a wall in
Georgy Kaurov's office, giving unusual inspiration to the old-time
nuclear military scientist who is now the voice of the Russian Nuclear
Power Ministry. "Whenever I need to become infuriated, I look at him,"
Last April, Yablokov -- a member of the Russian Academy of Science since
1984 and a long-time adviser to President Boris Yeltsin -- was booted
from his government job as the head of a committee on ecological
security. He had worked for Yeltsin since 1991 and had headed the
committee since 1993.
"I am independent. I have my scientific reputation to fall back on. I
don't need anything," said Yablokov, 64, a biologist, sitting in his
center Thursday at the Institute for Problems of Ecology and Evolution.
"It makes me extremely dangerous for any bureaucrat."
His departure, precipitated by a long-running conflict with the Nuclear
Power Ministry over his opposition to nuclear power, has been seen by
environmentalists as part of a rollback of government concern about
"The level of pollution in Russia is not getting any better, but the
government's attitudes are getting worse," said Lev Fyodorov, the leader
of the Union for Chemical Security, a nongovernmental environmental
group. "They will tell you that contamination is getting better because
the factories are closed. But it's not true. The government is hiding
Kaurov, the ministry spokesman, has his own interpretation of Yablokov's
opposition to nuclear power. "He lost his first wife to cancer. Some
other members of his family died of it, too." Kaurov said. "And for some
reason, he thinks these cancers have some relation to radioactive
pollution. He is slightly crazy about it."
Yablokov, who traces his environmental activism to when he joined a
nature club at the Moscow Zoo in 1949 as a teenager, jumped into big
politics in 1989 when he became a deputy to the first freely elected
There, he met Yeltsin. When Yeltsin became president in 1991, Yablokov
went to work for him as his presidential adviser on the environment.
During the 1991 attempted coup, Yablokov was a member of a three-person
reserve Cabinet that Yeltsin sent to Sverdlovsk, his hometown, now
Environmentalism had become a powerful political symbol as the Soviet
Union was falling apart, and the green faction in the last Soviet
parliament was among the largest.In the early years of an independent
Russia, broad laws were passed aimed at protecting the environment, and
environmentalists were optimistic that their voices would continue to be
In 1993, Yablokov moved to the newly formed Security Council and became
the head of the ecological security committee.
That year, his committee prepared a document that became known as the
White Book, a compilation of information about nuclear contamination of
seas surrounding the Soviet Union. "Then the military started hating me
insanely," Yablokov said.
But by 1995, he said, the government had all but lost interest in
environmental protection. "I could analyze the situation, I could see
what was happening. So I prepared a confidential report about dangerous
tendencies in [the Nuclear Power Ministry's] operations that were
against national interests," he said.
Yablokov said Yeltsin saw the report and ordered the issue be raised at
the Security Council. But instead, Viktor Mikhailov, who headed the
ministry until he was demoted earlier this month, became a member of the
Security Council. And Yablokov said he started losing ground. He last
talked to Yeltsin in 1995.
His influence and staff were diminished even more when Alexander Lebed
became the head of the Security Council in the summer of 1996.
In April 1997, the environmentalist received another blow: He was taken
off the government's payroll, but he kept his title as the committee
The government soon dissolved Yablokov's environmental committee, and
soon resurrected it, but under a different chairman, Nikolai Laverov,
the vice president of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He was a
scientist on much better terms with the nuclear power industry.
Yablokov's opinion of the nuclear power industry is summed up in a book
he published last year titled "Nuclear Mythology." The book's jacket
reads "The negative ecological and economic consequences that follow the
development of nuclear energy and other nuclear technologies."
Yablokov's exodus from power hasn't ended his battle with the Nuclear
Power Ministry. In a series of newspaper articles, Kaurov accused
Yablokov of using his position in the government to collect secret
information and pass it on to accomplices in Russia and abroad. This
week, Yablokov sued for defamation.
He might also be making his way back into politics. Last weekend,
Yablokov appeared at the Yabloko party conference to push the liberal
faction to support policies that protect the environment.
"I don't think we need to have a green party," Yablokov said. "I think
we need to go to all parties and push them to develop green programs."
Russia: Arms-Control Treaty Near
20 March 1998
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - The man in charge of Russia's nuclear weapons said he
expects his country to finally ratify the START II arms-control treaty this
year, the Omaha World-Herald reported Saturday.
Gen. Col. Vladimir N. Yakovlev, commander in chief of Russia's Strategic
Rocket Forces, has been touring U.S. nuclear weapons bases this week. Joining
him on the tour has been Gen. Eugene Habiger, commander in chief of the U.S.
Strategic Command, which is based at Offutt Air Force Base just south of here.
Yakovlev said Friday at Offutt he expected the Duma, Russia's
act on the treaty - which already has been ratified by the U.S. Senate - in a
matter of months.
``There are all the indications that the treaty will be ratified this
Yakovlev told the World-Herald through an interpreter.
The treaty was signed by the leaders of the two countries in 1993. It would
cut the strategic nuclear arsenals of the United States and Russia in half by
the year 2003.
The U.S. Senate ratified it in 1996, but the Duma so far has refused to
the same approval.
21 March 1998
[for personal use only]
Pyramids point way to a better world, Russian says
By David Filipov
MOSCOW - Imagine a world without disease, natural disasters, or
territorial disputes. Flu pandemics would be mere memories, as would
killer tornadoes and calamitous floods. Peace would reign in the Balkans
and the Middle East.
The way Moscow mathematician Alexander Golod sees it, this imaginary
world will soon be reality. The source of his optimism is pyramid power.
Or, to be precise, the harmonizing force that emanates from
strategically placed pyramids.
Golod spends his spare time traveling the former Soviet Union, erecting
pyramids and studying their effects on the surroundings. He has
concluded that mankind can eliminate crime, civil war, bad harvests,
cancer, and earthquakes by building pyramids.
Golod, whose day job is director of a factory that makes weather gauges
for Russian military aircraft, is not alone in his theory. Dozens of
Muscovites who claim that his pyramids have helped cure their ailments
swear by his theories. So do some of Moscow's leading scientists and one
of President Boris N. Yeltsin's senior aides, Kremlin charge d'affaires
It was Borodin's support that helped Golod win permission to erect his
most powerful pyramid - a 70-foot structure on the shores of Lake
Seliger, 200 miles northwest of Moscow. Golod's pyramids, which are made
of fiberglass, are pointier than the famous Egyptian ones. And while
their assembly does not require the forced labor of thousands of slaves,
they are not cheap at $250,000 each.
''Yes, they are expensive, but if enough pyramids are constructed around
the world, by the next millennium, humanity will be free of disaster and
disease,'' Golod predicted recently in his Moscow office.
While much of the planet is slow to accept the idea, Golod, who finances
his projects with a used-tire business he also runs, figured out a
cost-effective way to pyramidize Russia.
''Rocks kept in a pyramid for even a short period of time retain all the
necessary information,'' he explained. Spread out on his table is a huge
map of the Moscow, dotted with small piles of polished gems placed in
concentric rings around the city's limits. These symbols mark the 50
piles of pyramid-treated granite Golod has installed around the Russian
''The effect is the same as if I built a huge pyramid over all of
Moscow,'' he contended. Among the effects Golod predicts: The city's
annual flu epidemic will be minimal this year and will disappear
altogether next year.
This prediction is not as bold as it sounds. Lyubov Zhomova of the
Moscow City Health Committee acknowledged that this year's flu outbreak
was several times smaller than in recent years. But she doubts Golod's
pyramids are responsible.
Golod said ailing Muscovites have begun visiting his factory, where he
dispenses treatments at no cost. These include hypodermic solutions made
with pyramid water, small pieces of polished pyramid quartz (to be
swallowed for stomach ailments), even ''treated'' bottles of vodka
(which Golod claims cures alcoholism). But despite positive feedback
from those he has treated, Golod insists that curing individuals is not
his main line of work.
''I'm no faith healer,'' he said. ''I'm a scientist.''
Golod produces dozens of test results from Moscow research institutes to
support his claims. One study found that water exposed to the pyramids
has ''a stimulating effect on the ability of human cells to survive and
proliferate.'' Another concluded that pyramid water is a very effective
blood coagulant. A third described a 3-mile-high ionized cloud, similar
to those found above nuclear reactors, emanating from the Lake Seliger
Golod takes the truly skeptical to Lake Seliger for a display of pyramid
power. On a winter's day, a bottle of mineral water kept inside the
unheated pyramid did not freeze, even though the temperature was 1
degree Fahrenheit. But when he tapped the bottle - destroying the
harmonious effect of the pyramid, he explained - it froze in an instant.
Anyone who questions what any of this has to do with world peace should
follow events in Israel, where some Golod followers erected a pyramid
and several rings of treated rocks several weeks ago. Stay tuned.
One of Golod's visitors complained of a headache as he was about to
leave. Golod offered him two small amounts of sugar that had been
exposed to the pyramid. Within minutes, the headache was gone.
So, a second guest wondered, can pyramids cure lower back pain?
No, advised Golod. ''For that, you have to go to a masseuse.''