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31 March 1998
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Jay Ulfelder: Re Luzhkov on Latvia.
2. Jonas Bernstein: re Great Moments in Russia-watching.
3. John Helmer: Reply to Peter Buzilovich.
4. AP: Communists Claim Victory in Ukraine.
5. Christian Science Monitor: Tim Snyder, Divided Ukraine Drifts
Neither East nor West.
6. Moscow Times: Yulia Latynina, INSIDE RUSSIA: Next Victim At
Top Could Be Berezovsky.
7. Reuters: Russian political crisis poses difficult questions.
8. Reuters: Russia Communists look for compromise with Kremlin.
9. TIME Daily Front Page: Moscow's Moguls Pick Their Man.
10. The Independent (UK): Phil Reeves, Yeltsin gives disgraced spy
chief key post. (Stepashin).
11. Radiostantsiya Ekho Moskvy: Yabloko Head Yavlinsky Discusses
Meeting With Acting Premier.
12. ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH: What the Russian Army Needs is a Few
13. Reuters: Russia says willing to compromise on Caspian.]
Date: Mon, 30 Mar 1998
From: Jay Ulfelder <Ulfelderjr@aol.com>
Subject: Re: Luzhkov on Latvia
In this week's Economist (page 22), a table handicapping the 2000 presidential
elections describes Yuri Luzhkov as "paternalist-statist" while branding
Aleksandr Lebed and Gennady Zyuganov "nationalist" in one form or another
("nationalist-pragmatist" vs. "communist-nationalist", respectively). I hope
someone there is re-evaluating those descriptions after Luzhkov's recent
remarks on ethnic Russians in Latvia. RFE/RL Newsline (3/30/98) reports:
"Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov on 28 March accused the Latvian authorities of
'pursuing a consistent policy of genocide' against the Russian-speaking
population, Russian news agencies reported. During a picket of the Latvian
embassy in Moscow, Luzhkov told journalists that he favors 'all possible
measures...except force' to protect Russian-speakers in Latvia, who, he said,
are 'not just second-rate citizens' but 'have practically been turned into
slaves.' He compared Riga's policies to events in Cambodia during Pol Pot's
This absurd performance from the Moscow mayor raises two questions. First, is
Luzhkov seeking to become the statist-nationalist-with-deep-pockets figure
that everyone seems to fear but hasn't yet emerged? Given that he launched a
new national newspaper on the same day he made these remarks, his mind would
appear to have been very much on electoral politics at the time. Assuming
this crap made his new paper (can anyone confirm this?), why was **this** one
of the first statements he chose to make to readers in the Russian regions?
Second, is Latvia now at even greater risk of becoming the "sacrificial lamb"
on the altar to European-Russian relations? In light of Paul Goble's recent
piece on the Troika summit (JRL 2123), it looks as though Russian nationalists
are getting the green light to say this kind of stuff, with Latvia being held
partially responsible for any resultant tensions. Granted, the Latvian
government has opened the door a bit with its handling of recent events (the
demonstration broken up by riot police and the SS celebration), but on the
fundamental question of the human rights of Russian-speaking residents, they
appear to have their house in decent order. When will Europe and the U.S.
finally send a clear signal that the treatment of Russians in the Baltic
states is a non-starter as far as they're concerned? I guess no time soon...
From: "jonas bernstein" <email@example.com>
Subject: re Great Moments in Russia-watching
Date: Mon, 30 Mar 1998
re: Great Moments in Russia-watching
>From The Economist, March 28, 1998
"Russia's institutions being worryingly weak and the powers of its
president frighteninglystrong, it is vital that the man in charge is
beholden to neither demagogues nor billionaires. He also needs the words
and the vision to explain to an increasingly cynical electorate what
lies beyond this decade of dreadful post-communist trauma.
Unfortunately, as age, vodka and the wooziness of barely diluted power
get the better of him, Mr Yeltsin is utterly failing to do this part of
his job. It would still be best, on balance, if he sees out his term of
office, for fear of what might otherwise all too easily follow. But Mr.
Yeltsin risks becoming a tragic figure. Once a Titan, rightly lauded for
helping to pull down one of the world's most evil regimes, he now seems
to lurch, disaster-prone, from one fit of bad temper to the next. Poor
>From The Economist, November 22, 1997
"Worse, 'crony capitalism' is far from vanquished, and may yet conquer.
Market forces have grown stronger with each year, but may not yet be
strong enough to propagate themselves unaided. Their chances would be
much better if there were a hundred more people in
government of Mr. Chubais's calibre, or even a score. Mr. Yeltsin, at
least, appears to believe that there isn't one. Un-Marxist as it might
be to argue as much, great men are needed to do great things. Mr.
Yeltsin, in his way, is one such. And Mr. Chubais, in his way,
Was there some sort of monumental change in Boris Yeltsin's personality,
drinking habits, aging process, ruling style or record between Nov. 22,
1997, when The Economist was praising the "great men" who are needed for
"great things" (this, by the way, was right after the book scandal), and
March 28, 1998, when The Economist is tsk-tsking about how "poor Russia"
is saddled with a leader who is "utterly failing to do this part of his
job," who is allowing "age, vodka and the wooziness of barely diluted
power get the better of him."?
I guess if I had been reading The Economist more carefully during those
four event-filled months, I would better understand this sudden
P.S. I think it's time to start a betting pool on whether Yeltsin, B.N.,
if still alive, runs for a third term. I'm in for $50 (that he will).
Any other takers?
Date: Mon, 30 Mar 1998
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (John Helmer)
Subject: Reply to Peter Buzilovich
Regarding a note of criticism from Peter Budzilovich, I say --
Bravo for pedantry! He uncovers a typo in my despatch (1533 instead
of 1553); goes on to misspell the English word tsar (or czar, but
not "tzar"); and gives us all a lecture on why the common usage, Ivan the
Terrible, should really be "Ivan the Stern". With Mr Budzilovich on
the prowl, I guess none of us is safe. Unless his email address, "crapnb",
is the giveaway. I guess it's Mark Ames testing out his Steven Cohen
disguise, jealously, I mean zealously missing the point on everything
creative written about Russia these days. Keep up the good work Steve,
I mean Mark, oops I mean Peter.
John Helmer, Moscow
Communists Claim Victory in Ukraine
30 March 1998
By STEVE GUTTERMAN
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - Ukraine's communist leader claimed victory Monday despite
a dearth of official results in parliamentary elections. He also announced his
party will seek major policy changes and advocated a tough stance toward
Western countries and institutions.
``The people have shown that we must cast off this ruinous course,'' said
Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko, who accused President Leonid Kuchma of
``bringing Ukraine to the brink of economic collapse.''
Ballots cast Sunday were still being counted and the results were not
An exit poll gave the communists 26 percent of the votes cast for parties,
which will fill half the 450 seats in the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's
parliament. The rest of the seats will be filled by the winners of district
races between individuals.
According to the poll, the moderately nationalist, pro-reform Rukh movement
won 11 percent, the environmentalist Greens, 7 percent, the opposition Hromada
party, 6 percent, and the pro-government Popular Democratic Party and the
centrist United Social Democrats had 5 percent each. Other parties took the
rest of the vote.
The exit poll, conducted by Socis-Gallup and the Democratic Initiatives
had a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.
Symonenko claimed the communist showing was closer to 35 percent. Election
officials said voters had chosen communists in at least 37 of the 225 district
races between individuals.
With calls for integration with Russia and Soviet-style social
communists drew strength from millions of angry voters whose living standards
have plummeted since Ukraine gained independence in 1991.
Symonenko drafted an ambitious agenda, indicating that the communists would
try to impeach Kuchma, abolish the presidency in Ukraine and gain more
parliamentary control over the government by changing the constitution.
He called for ``equal relations with the West'' and its financial
such as the International Monetary Fund, which the Communist Party platform
says aims to make a ``marionette'' of Ukraine.
``We will speak out against the situation in which somebody comes here and
dictates to us what to do, how to do it, what programs to fulfill,'' he said.
A strong showing could give the communists significantly more than their
roughly 80 seats in the outgoing parliament.
But election officials said Monday that up to eight parties, including
moderate ones, had good chances of clearing the 4 percent barrier needed for
representation in the parliament.
Communists and other leftists will be unable to muster the two-thirds
needed to launch constitutional change and override presidential vetoes,
But Joel Turkowitz, a representative of the U.S.-funded International
for Policy Studies in Kiev, said that a powerful communist faction could
continue to block reforms.
Election observers said Monday that while the voting had gone smoothly on
election day, the campaign had been marred by violence, arrests and actions
Such incidents ``represent a serious shortcoming in the conduct of the
campaign, and raise questions about the neutrality of the state apparatus in
the election,'' monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in
Europe and the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly said.
Christian Science Monitor
March 31, 1998
[for personal use only]
Divided Ukraine Drifts Neither East nor West
By Tim Snyder
Tim Snyder, a Harvard University historian, is temporarily based in
Prague and Warsaw. His most recent visit to Ukraine was in February.
No one is quite sure how to think about Ukraine. It's as big as France,
lies in the geographic center of Europe, and boasts 50 million citizens.
But just who are they? Do Ukrainians identify with Russians, seeking
closer ties with Moscow?
Or are they central Europeans, proud of their national traditions and
hoping for a return to Europe?
You won't get clear answers by asking the people you meet in Kiev, the
capital. Most of them will speak Russian until they hear Ukrainian, and
many will claim to be of both nationalities.
If you travel further east, toward Russia, you'll find that the
Ukrainian language all but disappears from public use. But if you take a
westbound train, toward Poland, Russian vanishes and Ukrainian takes its
Does this mean that the country is divided, that its future as a
sovereign state is uncertain?
Sunday's Ukrainian parliamentary elections seem to support such a view.
The Communist Party was triumphant, drawing the bulk of its support from
central Ukraine and the Russian-speaking east.
Finishing second was the patriotic Rukh Party, whose voters hail from
Ukraine's western regions.
With the east voting for communists, and the west voting nationalist,
what is the future of the Ukrainian state? What will hold it together?
Despite appearances, both of these political extremes have strong
interest in an independent Ukraine.
It goes without saying that Ukrainian patriots cannot countenance the
thought of losing any of their vast state's territories. And whereas
Rukh's leaders are motivated by the emotive demands of patriotism,
Ukraine's post-communist elites are driven by calculations of power.
The clans of post-communist politicians that dominate Kiev hail from the
industrial cities of Ukraine's east.
Were the country to split and these lands go to Russia, people who are
now national leaders would suddenly find themselves provincial nobodies.
Ukraine's ethnic Russian minority of 10 million has also showed little
sign of separatism. Even the question of the status of Crimea, the Black
Sea peninsula populated by Russians, has all but disappeared from
Ukrainian politics. Ukraine's Russians have accepted the Ukrainian
state. For them, as for other Ukrainians, it has become a banal fact of
But what sort of state is Ukraine? Like its people and its politicians,
it defies easy categorization.
Unlike Russia, Ukraine has chosen a clearly pro-Western foreign policy.
Ukraine accepts the extension of NATO to its borders, hopes for greater
integration with the European Union, and enjoys good relations with the
US. It has no quarrels with its westerm neighbors Poland and Hungary.
But the Ukrainian state is more and more a foreign policy machine, with
less and less control over what happens inside its borders.
Unlike its western neighbors, Ukraine has totally failed to create a
normal market economy.
ITS foreign trade is directed almost entirely to Russia, and will remain
so in the near future.
Its domestic economy is dominated by mafias, that are unregulated by a
formless state administration and untroubled by a police force that
doesn't work unless bribed.
But Ukraine is here to stay, within its borders, and we should adjust
our concepts to meet its realities.
Ukraine is not like Russia. And though Russia will remain its major
trading partner, Ukraine will continue to resist political integration
with its giant eastern neighbor.
Ukraine is neither moving back toward Russia, nor forward toward Europe.
It is fulfilling neither nightmarish predictions of disintegration nor
fond hopes of reform.
How, then, to think about Ukraine? As a big country in a strategic
position, as a partner whose simple existence stabilizes Europe, and as
a democracy whose future remains wide open.
For more articles from The Moscow Times, check out their website at
March 31, 1998
INSIDE RUSSIA: Next Victim At Top Could Be Berezovsky
By Yulia Latynina
Yulia Latynina is a staff writer for Expert.
Several incidents last week suggest that tycoon Boris Berezovsky is very
The houses of two assistants to State Duma deputies were searched in St.
Petersburg last week, and prosecutors demanded kompromat on former First
Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais. Last week, the Central Bank also
refused to confirm Boris Jordan as head of MFK-Renaissance because the
former head of the Russian CS First Boston did not have experience
running credit institutions.
But Berezovsky's dissatisfaction was most noticeably reflected in the
reaction of the news media to First Deputy Finance Minister Alexei
Kudrin's announcement that 208,000 federal workers would soon be
dismissed. The media cried: "They're firing doctors and teachers!"
It should be said 95 percent of doctors and teachers in Russia are paid
from local budgets. This means that the Russian federal authorities can
no more dismiss schoolteachers in Moscow than they can in Arkansas.
Who will really be affected by staff cuts? Above all, according to the
March 6 presidential decree, it is the workers in the territorial bodies
of federal services. There are 350,000 such workers in all, who will be
reduced by 20 percent.
What kind of workers are these? They work for various forest, ecological
and other services that for months have not received their miserly pay.
How are they getting by? By using federal documents as a cover for
racketeering, they extort money from organizations under their
As for doctors, only a few work for the state. For example, they work in
two clinics that serve the presidential adminstration. There are also
hospitals, sanatoriums and rest homes that treat a very narrow circle of
executives at the taxpayers' expense and that, for an additional fee,
treat New Russians. These are hospitals that receive millions of rubles
from patients and millions from the state. The staff is being reduced by
3,500 people. This does not mean that they are being thrown out on the
street. Rather, the state will no longer add a meager extra sum to the
real wages of these people.
No one can reduce the number of teachers. Only teachers of institutes
can be laid off. Everyone in Russia knows that teachers are poor and
unhappy, that their wages are not paid, that they eat stale bread and so
on. What is less well known, however, is that there are six students for
every teacher in Russia. In the West, there are 16.
It is not surprising that the oligarchy is trying to destroy the
government's plans to bring its expenditures in line with its income and
to pay only state workers who are truly necessary for the country.
But what is interesting is that in the hasty maneuvering of the
organizations under Berezovsky's control, one senses something more than
simple displeasure; one senses fear. Yeltsin removed Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin because he felt he was too powerful: The sultan
won't countenance an overly influential vizier. But, now, after
Chernomyrdin's sacking, there is one more man left in Russia who is too
powerful and whose dislike for compromise and maniacal desire to destroy
anyone who gets in his way are just as evident to the president as they
are to everybody else. And this man is Boris Berezovsky.
Russian political crisis poses difficult questions
MOSCOW, March 30 (Reuters) - Russian political life is in uproar following
President Boris Yeltsin's dismissal of the government last week and a
subsequent decision by sacked prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to run for
the presidency in 2000.
It has raised some burning questions. Here are some answers:
WHAT CAUSED THE CRISIS? - In a word, Yeltsin. Communists and other
parties have held control of parliament since elections in December, 1995. But
Yeltsin, re-elected for four years in July 1996, has used vast constitutional
powers to override them and form his own cabinet. Parliament has repeatedly
failed to vote its own legislation or to oust Chernomyrdin. So Yeltsin's move
to sack his prime minister of five years was entirely his own.
WHY NOW? - Yeltsin criticised the government for allowing a resurgence in
arrears. But that is scarcely new. All major decisions now are tied to winning
the next presidential election set for June, 2000. Some political analysts
said Yeltsin wanted to thwart Chernomyrdin's ambitions before he became too
powerful. Others said it was to boost the premier's election bid. Yeltsin's
cautious approval on Monday of Chernomyrdin's surprise candidacy declaration
suggested recent moves have been less than perfectly coordinated. No one can
rule out that Yeltsin, anxious to bow out with the Russian economy in good
shape, has another favourite up his sleeve.
CAN YELTSIN NAME HIS SUCCESSOR? - No. But he can manoeuvre to help or
potential candidates. He recently said he had decided who should succeed him.
Many analysts felt that would be liberal Boris Nemtsov, 38. Others believed
Chernomyrdin was the favoured choice. On Monday, Yeltsin said only kings named
their heirs: ``We don't. The people choose.'' As Yeltsin himself proved in
1996, the financial and media backing of Russia's wealthy elite can sway even
the gloomiest opinion poll ratings. A major question remains, however -- will
the establishment unite around a single candidate as it did behind Yeltsin two
CAN THE COMMUNISTS REGAIN POWER? - In their present form, probably not.
Gennady Zyuganov has by far the highest poll rating at present -- 21 percent
compared to Nemtsov's 10 percent and Chernomyrdin's six percent. But they have
struggled to overcome a narrow but firm majority opposed to a return to Soviet
ways. The staid Zyuganov failed to beat Yeltsin in 1996. But the rise of a
more popular figure within the opposition cannot be ruled out. And a serious
split in the establishment, with rival Kremlin candidates, could create room
for a surprise.
WILL MARKET REFORMS SURVIVE? - Yes. In naming former energy minister Sergei
Kiriyenko, 35, as prime minister-designate, Yeltsin indicated he wants to
press ahead with reforms. Even the communists do not advocate a wholesale
return to state control.
WILL KIRIYENKO SURVIVE? - A majority in parliament seems set to vote
his confirmation on Friday. But Yeltsin has said that, if the State Duma lower
house rejects his choice, he will dissolve it and call early elections. The
next Duma polls are not due until December 1999. Under the constitution, if
the Duma rejects a prime minister three times, it is dissolved. On past
experience, the Duma is likely to stop short of that. But Yeltsin could decide
to placate it by naming another premier.
SO WHO IS RUNNING THE COUNTRY? - Mostly the same people as before. Until
parliament confirms Kiriyenko or another premier most of the previous cabinet,
including Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov and Defence Minister Igor
Sergeyev, remain at work. Kiriyenko chairs cabinet meetings. And Yeltsin,
backed up by a host of aides, including chief-of-staff Valentin Yumashev,
spokesman and foreign affairs adviser Sergei Yastrzhembsky and daughter
Tatyana Dyachenko, keeps everyone on their toes.
Russia Communists look for compromise with Kremlin
By Oleg Shchedrov
MOSCOW, March 30 (Reuters) - Russia's Communists, who have vowed to reject
President Boris Yeltsin's candidate for prime minister despite threats to
dissolve parliament, made clear on Monday they were still looking for a
Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov told reporters his party, which dominates
the State Duma lower chamber, wanted Yeltsin to discuss the nomination of
little-known Sergei Kiriyenko, 35, at informal round table talks.
``It is not the issue of Kiriyenko, who clearly lacks experience,''
told reporters. ``This is an issue of the course (of policy) and of an
Yeltsin, who sacked his cabinet a week ago, enraged the Duma by telling
Friday to approve the outgoing energy minister Kiriyenko with just a year of
government experience or face an early election.
Under the constitution, the president dissolves the Duma if it rejects his
candidate three times. He then names his candidate as prime minister without
any need for Duma approval. The first Duma vote on Kiriyenko is expected on
``We are not scared of an election and we will not back Kiriyenko,''
whose party controls 138 seats in the 450-seat Duma, told NTV television on
But he added that a final decision would be made later this week at a
session of the party leadership.
The Communists have a stable electorate and appear more ready for an early
election than any other political party. Political analysts have suggested
they can win around 35 percent of votes in any poll irrespective of political
But there are no guarantees that the current Communist leaders, Zyuganov
the Duma speaker Gennady Seleznyov blamed by their hardline comrades for being
too servile towards Yeltsin, would represent the party in any new chamber.
``The Duma is predictable today and we have proved more than once that the
president can work with it,'' Seleznyov told TV-Tsentr television on Sunday,
outlining reasons why Yeltsin should not dissolve the chamber.
Zyuganov said on Monday his party wanted Yeltsin to discuss the
the prime minister and the programme of the new government with the Duma and
Federation Council upper house before they were offered for parliamentary
The Communists want a government based on the Duma balance of forces. The
Kremlin has so far rejected this idea.
Parliamentary analysts have said the Communists are unlikely to back
in the first vote, held just days before a planned nationwide protest action.
Zyuganov said he hoped the protests would make the Kremlin more cooperative
ahead of later votes.
``The combination of efforts by both chambers and the protest action on
9 could prompt a dialogue and a search for a normal way out of the
situation,'' he said.
The biggest question for the Communists is whether Yeltsin, known for his
unpredictability, was really ready to stand by Kiriyenko to the last.
``When it comes to the third and decisive vote Yeltsin may offer someone
suitable,'' one communist deputy said. ``But on the other hand he may offer an
even worse candidate.''
The head of a major centrist Duma group Our Home is Russia, Alexander
suggested that Zyuganov's tough words showed he had an idea about how to dump
Kiriyenko and preserve the Duma.
``Impeachment seems to be on their (Communist) minds,'' he told a news
If the Duma starts an impeachment procedure against Yeltsin, he would
able to dissolve the chamber for at least three months. But most analysts say
the Duma lacks legal reasons and the needed two-thirds majority to start it.
``After all, all this fuss over Kiriyenko may turn out to be routine
bargaining, which is quite natural at a time of forming a new government,''
one parliamentary analyst said.
March 30, 1998
TIME Daily Front Page
Moscow's Moguls Pick Their Man
The polls may demur, but the big money says it's Chernomyrdin in 2000
MOSCOW: The tycoons whose money reelected Boris Yeltsin in 1996 have
chosen their presidential candidate for 2000, and it's not "Czar Boris"
-- it's the man he fired as prime minister last Monday. Viktor
Chernomyrdin commands only 5.7 percent in the polls, but his backers
point out that Yeltsin's numbers looked no better at the start of the
Chernomyrdin's candidacy has the all-important support of media -- and
oil tycoon Boris Berezovsky. "The big money follows Berezovsky," says
TIME Moscow bureau chief Paul Quinn-Judge. "He's telling the other
oligarchs that Chernomyrdin is perfect because he can work with the
Communists. They feel safe with him because he's likely to ensure
business as usual." That's assuming they can get the public to elect a
man who, Quinn-Judge says, shows no discernible charisma, is unable to
speak in public and has been publicly humiliated by Yeltsin. But first
they have to get the unpredictable President to actually step down when
his term ends.
The Independent (UK)
31 March 1998
[for personal use only]
Yeltsin gives disgraced spy chief key post
By Phil Reeves in Moscow
Boris Yeltsin yesterday moved to bring order to the chaos caused by his
government cull, by saying he will not run again for office and naming a
once-disgraced ex-security service chief as Interior Minister.
Despite hints from his aides that he is keeping his options open about a
third term, Mr Yeltsin - whose presidency has been overshadowed by ill-
health - indicated he will stand down at the next elections in 2000. His
government, fired en masse last week, remains in pieces as his
inexperienced new Prime Minister, Sergei Kiriyenko, 35, prepares for a
confirmation battle with the lower house of parliament.
All the main parliamentary factions have expressed misgivings about his
nomination, and the Communists - who hold nearly a third of the seats -
have demanded its withdrawal. A vote is due on Friday.
But, as Russia's political circles reel in the aftermath of the
government's sacking, one part of the jigsaw slotted into place. The
President named as acting Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin, a former
head of the counter-intelligence services notorious for his bungled role
in the Chechen war.
The 46-year-old lieutenant- general - appointed Justice Minister last
year after the previous incumbent was photographed frolicking in a
Moscow steam baths with two women - has remained close to Mr Yeltsin,
despite a patchy career. In September 1994 he led an operation to arm
pro-Moscow Chechen opposition forces with tanks, anti-aircraft missiles,
Although he later criticised Russia's decision to send troops into the
republic, starting a 21-month war, he is still blamed by rights groups
for his role. Among other things, his agency, then called the FSK,
supplied the Kremlin with misleading intelligence about the
pro-independence forces. In June 1995 he was sacked after Chechen
fighters took 1,500 people hostage in south Russia.
His appointment indicates his links to the intelligence community are
valued by Mr Yeltsin, who, mindful no doubt, of the attempted coup
against Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991, has gone to lengths to maintain tight
control over the security services.
The minister, whose appointment must be approved by parliament, becomes
Russia's chief policeman, a role previously filled by the hawkish
Anatoly Kulikov, sacked last week. Mr Stepashin will hope to see Mr
Yeltsin through to the end of his presidency in 2000 - if, that is, the
President sticks by his words.
Although Mr Yeltsin indicated he would not be running again, he has a
record of contradictory behaviour. If no other candidate stands a chance
of victory, and his health holds up, he will be under pressure from the
ruling elite to change his mind. For now, Mr Yeltsin has tentatively
aligned himself with Viktor Chernomyrdin, the ex-prime minister, without
giving him unqualified backing.
The sacked prime minister would head the government's election campaign,
he said yesterday, before meeting the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan.
"We need a strong leader and, bearing in mind that I, so to speak, am
not taking part in the elections, we need reinforcements. That is why we
rearranged the pieces and put everything in place."
Russia's Yabloko Head Discusses Meeting With Acting Premier
Radiostantsiya Ekho Moskvy
27 March 1998
Telephone interview with Grigoriy Yavlinskiy, leader of Russia's
Yabloko faction, by Aleksandr Plyushchev; place and date not given
[Plyushchev] Now we will speak to Grigoriy Yavlinskiy. I think he's
already on the line. [passage omitted: Greetings.] So, Grigoriy Yavlinskiy,
leader of the Yabloko faction, is taking part in the conversation as well
as Oksana Dmitriyeva, a member of the budget committee and a Yabloko
faction deputy [interviewed from 1116-1130 GMT on Ekho Moskvy radio,
between news programs]. Grigoriy Alekseyevich, you met Sergey Kiriyenko
today. I have already discussed this meeting with your colleague, Oksana
Dmitriyevna, and you announced today that you had not been offered any
posts. What did you talk about at that meeting?
[Yavlinskiy] Well, since Kiriyenko did not have any opportunity to set
out his program, nor did he have any opportunity to deal with issues
concerning cadres or government structures, we talked about general things,
we asked a few questions. We told him what we thought about the current
economic and political situation. And in general that is all.
[Plyushchev] So, Sergey Kiriyenko wanted to hear your point of view on
the current state of affairs in Russia.
[Yavlinskiy] Sergey Kiriyenko wanted to get to know some of the
faction members, which is what he did.
[Plyushchev] You had not met Kiriyenko before this?
[Yavlinskiy] No, it was the first time in my life that I had seen him.
[Plyushchev] [Words indistinct] Grigoriy Alekseyevich, tell us about
your rather mysterious return from Germany. Did you come back on your own
initiative when you learned about the sacking of the government?
[Yavlinskiy] If anyone who is engaged in politics learns that the
entire government was sacked in a single hour, he goes home. There is
nothing mysterious about this.
[Plyushchev] That is understandable then. Today you talked to Sergey
Kiriyenko. He listened to your proposals. If it isn't a secret, how do
you see the situation. Tell us in a few words what you told Kiriyenko.
[Yavlinskiy] I can only tell you one thing. Currently, we have no
grounds for supporting Kiriyenko for the post of prime minister. That is
all I have to say.
[Plyushchev] Can one say that you will make your position clear when
you speak to the Yabloko faction council, when you decide how you are going
to vote on 3 April [Duma to discuss Kiriyenko's nomination as prime
[Yavlinskiy] He was planning to come and see us, and we will hear what
he has to say again. I have said that today there are no grounds for
[Plyushchev] When do you intend to discuss the faction's position
before the voting takes place.
[Yavlinskiy] As soon as Kiriyenko is in a position to tell us about
his program and the cadres appointments.
[Plyushchev] Do you think Kiriyenko does not have a realistic program
[Yavlinskiy] He said he couldn't talk about it. I don't know whether
it is because he doesn't have one or doesn't want to talk about it, but for
the moment he says that he cannot talk about a program, that he cannot talk
about cadre appointments. In these circumtances, we have nothing to talk
about. The only think that he is saying, is: "I will do the same as
Chernomyrdin." Then there was no need to get rid of Chernomyrdin.
[Plyushchev] Yes, the question of the prime minister immediately comes
to mind. Grigoriy Alekseyevich and Oksana (?Genrikhsovna) who are in our
studio, I would like to ask you to comment on the words of the deputy
finance minister, Andrey Kudrin, that 200,000 state- sector workers will be
made redundant in the near future. President Yeltsin immediately said that
these words were a provocation. Well, what do these words mean? As an
observer, although I don't even know what Kudrin looks like, I believe
Kudrin more for some reason, despite all the respect I have for Boris
[Yavlinskiy] Well the current budget is such, and the policy of the
previous government was such that what Kudrin said is indeed evidently the
plans of the present government. [passage omitted: Oksana Dmitriyevna
describes how the budget was formed, criticized the shortcomings, and
suggested what needs to be done.]
[Plyushchev] Grigoriy Alekseyevich, does the Yabloko faction have a
program which would allow it to reduce the consequences of a bad budget,
even if it does not extricate the country from crisis? It is known that
wage arrears have started to increase again, and so forth. Is your faction
working on that?
[Yavlinskiy] Yes, of course it is. We have talked about that problem
many times. This program involves stopping theft of budget funds, and we
believe that that alone may yield approximately $10 billion, which can be
used for paying wage arrears. Besides that, corruption itself is taking a
similar sum out of the country. This money would be sufficient to sort
that problem out. Besides that, one has to stress that, unless the tax
policy is changed, unless cardinal changes are made in the tax policy, no
budget problems, no problems in other sectors will be resolved.
[Plyushchev] Grigoriy Alekseyevich, at the recent congress, not
congress, but political council of Russia is Our Home, Viktor Chernomyrdin
appealed to all the democratic, as he called them, movements to unite to
stand in the upcoming parliamentary elections in a single front and then to
choose a single candidate to stand in the presidential elections. Well, I
read a report from the agencies, and either that was a slip of the tongue
on Chernomyrdin's part or he doesn't regard Yabloko to be a democratic
movement because he did not mention Yabloko.
[Yavlinskiy] He did Yabloko an honor in that.
[Plyushchev]] How did you react to Chernomyrdin's appeal.
[Yavlinskiy] I didn't.
[Plyushchev] That is, you are not planning to form a bloc with Russia
is Our Home under any circumstances?
[Yavlinskiy] We think that party must first decide on the issue of its
survival, its existence, and only then say with whom it will form a bloc.
[Plyushchev] In the upcoming parliamentary elections, which are only a
year away, do you expect allies from the existing movements?
[Yavlinskiy] I see my allies among the electorate. This is the main
issue for me. As far as the present movements are concerned, we are
prepared to discuss it with many of them, but only with those that actually
[Plyushchev] Grigoriy Alekseyevich, at practically all the latest
elections, as far as Yabloko is concerned, as far as the presidential
elections are concerned, Yabloko always enjoys a rating of about 7 percent.
Is your party currently doing anything to increase its share of voters?
[Yavlinskiy] Since 1993 the growth in our electorate has grown by
approximately 12 percent per year and between the presidential and
parliamentary elections in 1995 and 1996 we increased our share of the vote
by 1.5 million. We feel sure that in the situation which is taking shape
in 1998, we can represent the interests of a considerably larger number of
voters, since they have received a good lesson regarding what has happened
in that time. They have understood what a puppet, frivolous,
disintegrating party is. They already understand that the fairly two-faced
and hypocritical policy of the Communists is hardly likely to extricate
them from the position that they find themselves in, and therefore we
firmly reckon on drawing to those problems the attention of all those
voters who voted for the policy proposed by Yeltsin back in 1991 and in
[Plyushchev] Thank you very much. I will remind you that we were
speaking on the telephone to the leader of the Yabloko faction, Grigoriy
Yavlinskiy. Today he met Sergey Kiriyenko. Taking part in that meeting
was the Yabloko faction deputy, member of the budget committee, Oksana
Dmitriyevna. She was in the studio with us. Thank you.
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
29 March 1998
[for personal use only]
What the Russian Army Needs is a Few Good Sergeants
For an entire generation, we fretted that the Soviet army would roll
over western Europe. Now, as we learned in Chechnya, the Russians can't
even invade themselves. So from our point of view, the collapse of the
Russian army is a good thing, right?
First, Russia needs an army. It's a flat country, historically open to
invaders, from the Mongol hordes through Napoleon's army to Hitler's
These days, of course, nobody is threatening Russia. But when Russians
look eastward at the Chinese hordes or southward at the Islamist hordes,
they get nervous. Given the dismal state of their army, the Russians
have fallen back on nuclear weaponry as a border defense - and that
ought to make the rest of us nervous.
Second, a would-be democracy like Russia can hardly rest easy knowing
that its unhappiest citizens hold the keys to the armories. At some
point, a dismal army may decide to overthrow the democracy that has let
There seems to be a growing consensus among Russia's old enemies that
we'd all sleep easier if Russia had a better army. This thinking holds
that the Russians ought to drop the draft and build a smaller, more
Indeed, the Wall Street Journal reported this month that the Russians
have asked the United States for money to build housing for the army
officers it wants to cashier. A few years back, Germany kicked in
millions for such housing - the price of getting the Red Army out of
Well, housing helps. But the United States might think about offering
the Russians something that's cheaper but more desperately needed - a
few hundred sergeants to help the Russian army build a corps of
The Russians have never had career NCOs in the sense that Western arm
ies do. Instead, the Russians pin sergeant's stripes on the most
promising draftees. It doesn't work, of course. Senior draftees (those
in their last six months of service) wield the real power in the
barracks. The draftee-sergeants are largely ignored.
So in the Russian army, the foreman's work of sergeants falls to
captains (who are impossibly busy) and to lieutenants (who are
In the fall of 1995, I saw close-up what happens in an army without
NCOs. The Russians had sent a company of hand-picked soldiers to Fort
Riley, Kan. There, they trained with GIs in a peacekeeping exercise set
up to resemble the mess in Bosnia. At one point, GIs in civilian clothes
were play-acting as protesters at a Russian-manned checkpoint.
The GIs got into the spirit of things by shoving noisily and
boisterously against the Russian kids, who kept backing up uneasily.
I was standing by a Russian lieutenant who decided that the tumult had
gone far enough. He grabbed a smoke grenade - a simulated tear-gas
grenade - and pulled the pin.
"Oh-oh," I thought, "he's going to make a dumb lieutenant mistake."
Which he did. He threw the grenade at the GIs - and a brisk wind
promptly blew the smoke right back onto him and his men.
Had it been a tear-gas grenade, he would have wiped out his own
But had he been a U.S. infantry lieutenant (as I once was), he never
would have thrown it.
Before he could pull the pin, his wise old platoon sergeant would have
grabbed his arm and snapped, "For Christ's sake, lieutenant, don't throw
that thing! It'll blow right back on us!"
Good armies get built from the bottom up, not the top down. The Russians
need to build a corps of sergeants who will stay in the army for 20 or
Those sergeants can do more than shape up the young soldiers beneath
them. They can also nurture the lieutenants who will someday wear a
FOCUS-Russia says willing to compromise on Caspian
By Lada Yevgrashina
BAKU, March 30 (Reuters) - Russia is prepared to compromise on defining the
status of the Caspian Sea, an issue crucial for determining rights over oil
and other resources, Russia's First Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Pastukhov
said on Monday.
"Russia has decided to take a serious step towards a compromise on the
delineation of the Caspian Sea, as the drawn-out uncertainty over the status
of this body of water is holding up strategic investment plans," Pastukhov
said at a meeting in the Azeri capital Baku with President Haydar Aliyev.
Pastukhov said the Russian side proposed dividing the sea bed of the
while leaving the surface and the body of water itself available for shared
use, so ensuring freedom for navigation and preservation of bioresources.
"We recognise the rights of littoral states to their zones of activity, but
from the point of view of shipping and the ecology there must be a single
system," he said.
The Russian side also proposed dividing the sea bed using median lines
principle of equal distance from the shore.
These pragmatic dividing lines would be confirmed by bilateral agreements
between Caspian littoral states.
"This principle will be laid down in the conception of a legal status
Caspian in a package in which it will be possible to sign an agreement
covering bioresources, the ecology and free navigation," Pastukhov said.
Aliyev said in reply that Azerbaijan's interests were that littoral states
should have the right to carry out their activities in the Caspian while
taking into account its preservation for future generations.
"We are now for the first time in history attempting to define its
we must try and do it in a way which is acceptable to all," he said, adding
that the sea bed should be divided on the basis of international norms.
Aliyev also put to Russia an official proposal to include in the talks the
issue of demilitarisation of the Caspian.
Pastukhov had earlier said Russia was willing to raise the volume of oil
carried from Azerbaijan by the northern pipeline route through Russian
territory to the Black Sea port of Novorossiisk.
"The government of Russia is ready in the nearest future to raise the
of the Baku-Novorossiisk line to 17 million tonnes a year from the current
five million, if the volumes for delivery of Azeri crude are guaranteed," he
And he added that if this was successful, Russia would be willing to invest
further funds to raise the capacity to 30 million tonnes a year.
President Aliyev said he did not rule out the possibility of increasing
exports through the northern route, but he added that he saw a line across
Turkey to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan as more important.
"The Baku-Ceyhan line must be built, and that's our principal position," he
said. "But we want to bear in mind Russia's opinion on the matter," he added.
Talks started in Baku on Monday between a government delegation from
Turkmenistan, another Caspian littoral state, and Azerbaijan on dividing the
Adyl Sultanov, president of an Azeri state committee dealing with the
told Reuters there were differences in approach between the two countries on
how to divide the sea.
But Turkmenistan's foreign minister Boris Shikhmuradov said that
two countries had different approaches, they intended to move towards a