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6 April 1998
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Reuters: Main events of third busy week in Russian politics.
2. Reuters: Chernomyrdin sees clear field for presidency bid.
3. The Economist: The tycoons behind the politicians. Who will really
run Russia’s new government?
4. The Economist: Frozen Out. Is Boris Jordan Fit to be a Banker?
5. Jim Catterson: Russia April 9, 1998 Day of Action "Wages! Employment!
6. Sabirjan Kurmayev: JRL 2135 #7, Latvia.
7. Sunday Times (UK): Mark Franchetti, Mayor with a past felled by
8. Moscow Times: WHAT THE PAPERS SAY: Press Sees Dangerous Hand of
Kremlin in Nizhny.
9. The Independent (UK): Phil Reeves, We can't close Chernobyl,
10. RIA Novosti: ROS LEADER WARNS OF "DEEP CRISIS" IN OPPOSITION.
11. VOA: Peter Heinlein, RUSSIA POLITICS.]
Main events of third busy week in Russian politics
MOSCOW, April 5 (Reuters) - Russia's political landscape has changed radically
since President Boris Yeltsin's surprise decision two weeks ago to sack his
government and name political novice Sergei Kiriyenko his prime minister-
A vote in the State Duma lower house of parliament on whether to confirm
Kiriyenko in office was postponed by a week on Friday to allow for round-table
talks between Yeltsin and political leaders on Tuesday.
Here are the main events expected this week:
The government and the International Monetary Fund could agree Russia's
economic programme for 1998, paving the way for payment of a $670 million
tranche of a $9.2 billion three-year IMF loan. Ministers and IMF officials
said late last week the deal could be reached in days. Minister Yevgeny Yasin
was quoted on Saturday as saying it might be signed as soon as Monday.
Yeltsin meets leaders of main political parties, the two chambers of
parliament, trade unions and Russia's regions (0800 GMT) for ``round table''
talks in the Kremlin on the formation of a new government. He has said he will
listen to suggestions on policy and ministerial nominations. But aides stress
Yeltsin has the last word and wants to maintain liberal economic reforms.
Duma business managers due to meet to set date for confirmation hearing on
Kiriyenko. Parliamentary managers have said they will decide following the
round table talks.
Our Home is Russia party, headed by Chernomyrdin, due to decide how it will
vote on Kiriyenko (1300 GMT).
Duma in session and could in theory debate Kiriyenko's nomination. However,
parliamentary officials have said the debate is almost certain not to take
place until Friday.
Trade unions and left-wing political parties have called for nationwide
strikes and demonstrations in protest at mounting wage arrears -- the problem
for which Yeltsin blamed Viktor Chernomyrdin when he sacked the veteran
premier on March 23.
Duma expected to consider Kiriyenko nomination. It is not yet clear when the
debate will start or when the vote will take place. The constitution sets
Friday as the deadline for the Duma to ``review'' the nomination. But some,
including the Communists, say that does not necessarily imply voting on the
same day. If parliament rejects three presidential nominations for prime
minister, Yeltsin must dissolve the Duma and call new elections.
Yeltsin was supposed to have begun a three-day visit to Japan for an informal
summit with Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto. But on Friday, he told his host
he would put the trip off by a week because of the political situation in
Chernomyrdin sees clear field for presidency bid
By Andrei Khalip
MOSCOW, April 5 (Reuters) - Russia's sacked prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin
said on Sunday he did not expect two key establishment figures to run for
president in 2000, indicating he hoped to be the sole contender from the
Chernomyrdin, who won somewhat lukewarm backing for his bid from President
Boris Yeltsin last week, said he thought liberal Boris Nemtsov, 38, would not
run as he was too young.
He also said he believed Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov when he denied, despite
speculation to the contrary, that he had no Kremlin ambitions.
``I think Boris Yefimovich (Nemtsov)...has decided correctly that 2000 is not
his year,'' Chernomyrdin told NTV television in an interview one week after
surprisingly declaring his candidacy and two weeks after Yeltsin fired him.
``He (Nemtsov) has so much opportunity to gain experience, to work, to
study...He shouldn't be thinking about the presidency now. He should think
about his work in the government, about the reforms, about how to overcome the
problems of our society.''
Nemtsov is widely seen as a potential candidate after Yeltsin, 67, dropped
broad hints last year that he could become Russia's young new president.
Chernomyrdin, prime minister for five years, celebrates his 60th birthday this
Nemtsov has continued as an acting minister following the dismissal of the
government and the Kremlin has said he is likely to keep a job in the new
Chernomyrdin's announcement of his candidacy so soon after being sacked
prompted questions as to how far he had Yeltsin's blessing. He did win an
endorsement from the president last week but Yeltsin stopped short of saying
he was his chosen successor.
``I think I did it right. I decided to say it straight and sincerely,'' said
He said he thought Luzhkov, who has more than once said he will not take part
in the presidential race, would keep his word. ``You have to believe officials
of his rank,'' he said.
Luzhkov is popular in Russian business circles -- a similar power base to
of former gas industry boss Chernomyrdin.
Chernomyrdin said he thought the head of the Communists, Gennady Zyuganov,
would contest the elections.
He also named liberal Grigory Yavlinsky, a virulent critic of Chernmomyrdin's
government, as a possible contender. But he added: ``I don't think it is
impossible to find an agreement with him...We don't have that many
Chernomyrdin had harsh words for law-and-order advocate General Alexander
Lebed, another presidential hopeful, who is running for governor of Siberia's
Krasnoyarsk region at present.
``He's been saying he's a presidential candidate...Now he wants to be a
governor. In two years, one doesn't become a qualified governor. One doesn't
play like that,'' he said.
``For now I wouldn't want to have him as president. He is a general, a
paratrooper...Russia's had enough jumping around.''
Asked about the chances of Yeltsin running for a third term, which few
analysts are prepared to completely rule out, Chernomyrdin replied only: ``We
shall see. We've had meetings with Boris Nikolayevich (Yeltsin), discussing
Talking about his own presidential ambitions, Chernomyrdin admitted he needed
to work a lot on his image as a politician.
``They are saying Chernomyrdin doesn't have charisma, that he cannot talk,''
he said. ``But I never needed all that. I did concrete work, it required
concrete words...I will be doing different work now, yes, I will be working on
Russian media has more than once joked about Chernomyrdin's way of talking,
which often leaves audience to guess about what he actually meant. Charisma is
not his strongest point either.
``One has to be born with charisma,'' he said modestly.
April 4, 1998
[for personal use only]
The tycoons behind the politicians
M O S C O W
Who will really run Russia’s new government?
PERHAPS Russia does not need a federal government after all. It has been
malfunctioning much as usual on the mere wreckage of one since March
23rd, when President Boris Yeltsin sacked his prime minister, Viktor
Chernomyrdin, and the cabinet with him. This week the acting prime
minister of the moment, a baffled young man called Sergei Kiriyenko, was
learning his lines and waiting for the Duma, parliament’s lower house,
to confirm or reject his appointment. The Duma hesitated until Mr
Yeltsin cared to explain what sort of government he wanted Mr Kiriyenko
to form. Mr Yeltsin, ailing and distracted, reluctantly met
parliamentary leaders on April 2nd.
Nobody thinks Mr Yeltsin himself came up with the idea of promoting Mr
Kiriyenko. Some say the name was on a list put up by the presidential
chief of staff, Valentin Yumashev. Others credit Boris Nemtsov, a
liberal-minded first-deputy prime minister who looks set to survive the
reshuffle. Mr Kiriyenko was a protégé of Mr Nemtsov’s when he joined the
government 11 months ago. He was made a deputy energy minister in May
and full minister in November. Before that he had managed an oil
refinery in Russia’s third city, Nizhny Novgorod, where Mr Nemtsov was
governor. Mr Kiriyenko has been tagged a “reformer” by virtue of his
ties with Mr Nemtsov. But he has yet to establish his credentials as
anything at all.
The fact that Mr Yeltsin had no better replacement on hand has
intensified confusion over why, in the first place, he sacked Mr
Chernomyrdin. Clearly it had something to do with the old apparatchik’s
ambitions to succeed Mr Yeltsin as president: the prime minister was
starting to let those ambitions show in public, even though the next
presidential election was not due until 2000. But it seems clear, too,
that Mr Yeltsin over-reacted. A sharp chat with Mr Chernomyrdin would
have cleared the air.
More likely, Mr Yeltsin lost his head because he suspected Mr
Chernomyrdin of preparing for a presidential death-in-office and an
early election. Such preparations would have been understandable: signs
of physical and mental weakness have been multiplying in Mr Yeltsin’s
behaviour. When he met Germany’s Helmut Kohl and France’s Jacques Chirac
on March 26th, Russia’s president tried to give his close-of-session
press conference before the talks had even begun. Signing decrees in the
Kremlin on March 31st, he seemed unable to grasp that his dissolution of
the government had turned all his ministers into acting ministers until
a new prime minister had been appointed. Twice he contradicted officials
on this point. The week before sacking Mr Chernomyrdin, Mr Yeltsin was
bedridden with sickness or depression.
So why Mr Kiriyenko? His industry pedigree may have recommended him to
the leaders of Russian big business, whose power relies largely on their
control of the country’s oil and gas firms. The approval of these
tycoons is well worth having. They own most of the national mass media
and much of the banking industry too. They can twist the arm or stain
the reputation of any minister they choose. Mr Berezovsky, the most
politically ambitious of them, has his entrée into the Kremlin via Mr
Yumashev, whom he used to employ and whom he now “advises”.
It is in the tycoons’ interests for Russia to have a competent
government. But they also want a government weak enough to yield to
their interests. Mr Chernomyrdin managed just the right balance of
competence and biddability—one reason he survived over five years in
office. His one serious showdown with the tycoons came last month when
he insisted on a free and fair auction for Rosneft, the last big
state-owned oil company to be sold. The row doubtless helped cause his
But even if they have deigned to cast an eye over Mr Kiriyenko, the
tycoons are thinking much more about a new president than about any new
prime minister. The upheavals of the past fortnight have, in effect,
marked the start of the 2000 election season. Mr Chernomyrdin has now
declared himself a candidate, claiming on March 29th to have Mr
Yeltsin’s tacit support. He seemed to have Mr Berezovsky’s. And he can
always count on backing from Gazprom, the biggest firm in Russia, which
he ran from 1989 to 1992.
Not to be outdone, Mr Berezovsky’s main rival, Vladimir Potanin, boss of
the Uneximbank group, has been putting out feelers to Yuri Luzhkov, the
mayor of Moscow, who is a leading contender for Mr Yeltsin’s job.
Vladimir Gusinsky, boss of the Most group, has placed a side-bet on
Grigory Yavlinsky, leader of the Yabloko social-democratic block: Mr
Gusinsky says he will support it in next year’s Duma election.
If the tycoons are indeed advancing not merely their business but also
their political interests in an ever more frantic fashion as 2000
approaches, the prospect is worrying. It used to be Mr Yeltsin’s role to
hold the ring and ensure a semblance of humdrum government amid the
factional in-fighting. But this past week the president has been
scarcely able to hold anything at all unaided, as he wanders through the
ruins of a government that he himself destroyed. Change beckons. The
real question is less who will succeed Mr Yeltsin than whose creature
his successor will be.
April 4, 1998
[for personal use only]
Is Boris Jordan Fit to be a Banker?
FINANCE AND ECONOMICS
M O S C O W
HE HAS been stripped of his visa twice and denounced as a threat to
national security. His telephone has been tapped. Last week the central
bank told him he lacked the experience to run a bank—although in less
than three years he had built up, from scratch, one of the biggest
investment banks in Russia. Much more of this and Boris Jordan may start
to suspect that somebody in Russia does not like him.
Mr Jordan founded his investment bank, Renaissance Capital, in 1995.
Last year he proposed to merge it with MFK, a commercial bank with ties
to Uneximbank, one of Russia’s biggest banks. MFK and Renaissance have
been largely integrated, but the target date for merging them legally
has slipped from January to May. Last week the central bank put one more
banana skin in the way by telling Mr Jordan he would not be acceptable
as MFK’s boss. According to the central bank, he lacks a degree in
economics or law and a year’s experience in commercial banking, and so
may not head a commercial bank in Russia.
Mr Jordan cares more about running the holding company under which MFK
and Renaissance will be grouped. But Russia has no law yet on bank
holding companies, so here too a lively dialogue with the central bank
beckons. For the moment the central bank says no scheme for
restructuring MFK’s assets has been put to it for approval.
In 1996, and again last year, Mr Jordan, an American, lost his Russian
visa temporarily because he was caught up in feuding between two
tycoons, Vladimir Potanin, who controls Uneximbank, and Boris
Berezovsky, a financier with oil and media interests. Attacking him was
a way of attacking Uneximbank. But this time Mr Jordan seems to have got
himself in the black book of the central bank quite independently. He
was too free with his advice when a currency crisis threatened in
January, berating the central bank for hesitating to raise interest
rates and warning that the rouble might crash. He was right. But central
bankers tend to prefer arriving at their decisions unaided—especially by
Now the squabble is in danger of making everybody look bad—the central
bank because its impartiality is in question, Renaissance because it is
not the best advertisement for an investment bank to have problems with
its own merger. The guessing is that Mr Jordan will try to declare peace
by appointing a new chief executive for MFK. A hint that the central
bank foresees no more obstacles to the birth of MFK-Renaissance would
doubtless be welcome in return.
Date: Fri, 03 Apr 1998 14:30:55 +0200
From: Jim Catterson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Russia April 9, 1998 Day of Action "Wages! Employment! Legality!"
Brussels April 3, 1998
1998 - "Pay Us Our Wages!"
Russia April 9, 1998 Day of Action "Wages! Employment! Legality!"
Workers and trade unions throughout Russia are making final preparations
for the April 9, 1998 Day of Action to be held under the slogan "Wages!
Employment! Legality!" The day is likely to be a larger event than those
held previously in March, 1998 and November 1996.
On November 13, 1997 ICEM launched the cyber-campaign, "Pay Us Our Wages!"
in support of Russian workers and their struggle against the scandal of
wage arrears and the mass poverty and deprivation being caused by
In English at:
In Russian at:
Through the campaign web users everywhere can add their voices to the
formal complaint lodged with the International labour Organization, by
sending electronic messages to the ILO. Cybercampaigners worldwide can also
send protests to the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and other
international institutions, to the Russian government, to employers and
regional administrations and to multinational companies and banks. All of
these bear some responsibility for the hardship and suffering that Russian
workers are continuing to experience.
The site has recently been extensively updated
The site now includes new links allowing a reader to protest to Boris
Nemtsov's new web pages, details of wage arrears in Dutch MNC Philips, many
updated details of strikes and demonstrations throughout the Russian
Federation as well as information on foreign investment bankers "earning"
(on top of salaries) an average of 5 million usd each as bonus for share
deals last year.
The site reminds all of the senior (or increasingly “former” senior)
politicians of the statements they made at the New Year that wage arrears
had been paid - all these statements subsequently were shown to be false!
In fact despite claims by all Russian government officials that wage
arrears to the "public sector" (that had in fact never accounted for more
than about 15% of the total figure) had been cleared, as promised, by the
New Year, even this target was never achieved. Wage debts in the Russian
Federation started rising again this year, by early March 1998 hitting the
previous figure of 54,000 billion "old" roubles. They will undoubtedly
continue to rise given the recent ruling by the Constitutional Court that
means taxes must be paid before wages. As a result of this ruling, tax
bodies now take everything for taxes, leaving no funds for wages.
We have also updated sections outlining the dismissal of the government and
statements from the unions about the April 9 demonstration and day of
action "Wages! Employment! Legality!"
"New" items on the site include:
Thanks to the Vladivostok News and the St. Petersburg Times we are able to
show photographs from the regions including workers in the Far East of the
country demonstrating their anger by the blocking of of railway lines as
well as from a paper factory occupation in Karelia NW Russia. The photos
link to the original stories from the publications who have provided them.
Where's the helicopter ? (workers flew one off and hid it -saying they'd
return it when their wage arrears were paid! - unfortunately we don't know
what subsequently happened)
Details of how wifes of fisherman in the far-east are complaining about
their husbands being paid in vodka (called "liquid ice-cream in company
accounts!) What happened to the accident rate we ask?
We report how there are no wage delays for 10 workers at an Austrian
investment company in Moscow - they made so much money on the stock market
they are claiming 50 million USD to be divided between them - as "bonus?"
We report on many more strikes demonstrations and hunger strikes, bringing
readers up to date on the present situation.
There is now a report on hits to the site and linkages people have made to
it, including comments we have received at:
Let us know what you think of the site we intend to update this report
Do you run a labour web site?
Do you run a web site related to Russia?
Please make direct hot links to our campaign. help us to raise awareness
and publicity about the situation and day of action internationally.
The campaign, gives a reader full information about the situation and the
russian economy, a story largely ignored by the mass media in the west. The
site includes state of the art graphics, photographs and allows a reader to
listen to the soundtrack of a song dedicated to striking russian miners.
More importantly however, it allows a reader to participate and use the
internet and electronic mail to support Russian workers, to protest on
their behalf and to add their voice to the campaign.
The site was the "Labour Web Site of the Week" award the week the campaign
was launched. The award is given by Eric Lee, who runs the Labour Movement
And The Internet sites, the forum for labour movement Internet users. Part
of the citation read:
The ICEM, which pioneered the use of computer networking back in the
mid-1980s, is transforming the Internet from a tool for information to a
weapon of struggle."
Subsequently the ICEM website in total was voted Labour Website Of The Year
in an electronic poll of readers of the Labour Movement And The Internet
In English at:
In Russian at:
Web users everywhere are urged to show their support for Russia's unpaid
Date: Sun, 05 Apr 1998
From: Sabirjan Kurmayev <email@example.com>
Subject: JRL 2135 #7, Latvia
I am glad that Latvian apartheid has finally attracted some
international attention. Letter by Gunars Reinis (JRL 2135 #7) is a very
good example of the upside down nationalistic "logic". I think it is
worthwhile to comment his statements.
1. Independent Latvia was proclaimed on Nov. 18, 1918 All people living
in Latvia, all minorities included, became citizens. All of them and
their descendants are citizens today.
Grandchildren of Latvian first republic citizens (even ethnic Latvians)
had to go through a long battle before they were able to become citizens
of present Latvian republic. Reason for inconsistency? Very simple:
these grandchildren mostly live in Russia (their grandparents left
Latvia at the turn of the century and are mostly dead now) while
citizens of the first republic and their children are to be found in
western countries (left Latvia in the forties).
2. During the independence period there were no persecutions. Minorities
enjoyed economical and political power along with the majority,
sometimes greater than their numbers.
To prove that Mr Reinis had to list some statistical data e.g. how
minorities were represented in the parliament. I am afraid he means that
there were too many wealthy Jews in pre war Latvia.
3. When Russia (then called USSR) illegally occupied Latvia in 1940,
massive persecutions including murder, torture and deportations started
immediately and continued up to the day the Russians were driven out by
the invading Germans. The Russians were assisted by some locals of
various ethnic backgrounds. Most of the victims were Latvians, but
minorities also suffered.
This is true concerning persecutions by Stalin regime although a paradox
happened. Those Jews that were deported from Latvia into Siberia owe
their salvation to this persecution as they survived while those Jews
who stayed in Latvia were exterminated.
4. During the German occupation the persecutions targeted mostly Jews,
but others, including also minorities, suffered. The Germans were
assisted by some locals of various ethnic backgrounds.
Persecuted others were Gipsies. Assisting locals of various ethnic
backgrounds is something new. Does Mr Reinis possess any real names?
5. The Latvian Legion was formed in 1943, about 2 years after the
annihilation of the local Jewish population. Most members of the Legion
were drafted, I know many of them personally, some were my schoolmates.
To equate all of them to killers of Jews is the same as saying the US
Army consists of Lt. Calleys only. Members of the Latvian Legion would
have much preferred to fight the Russians communists with American arms,
wearing American uniforms, but such were not available then.
Local Jewish population was exterminated by ethnic Latvians. Germans let
Latvians do the dirty work. Latvian Legion (an SS formation) performed
other albeit equally "honorable" tasks.
6. When Russia reoccupied Latvia in 1944/45 persecution resumed on an
even more massive scale and continued until 1991 when Latvia regained
After 1991 new target for persecutions was created - Russian speaking
population of Latvia.
7. The martyrs of Kolima, Rumbuli, Vorkuta and Dachau are all equally
dead and deserve to be remembered equally. Or are some more dead than
That's true again and that's why we must not forget Rumbuli.
8. Since 1991 there have been no persecutions in (now again) independent
Latvia. The laws governing naturalization of immigrants and their
descendants are generally more liberal than in Sweden, Germany Israel,
USA, etc. Minorities enjoy considerable economic and political power.
The majority of Russian speaking people living in Latvia were stripped
off citizensgip overnight. Many of them had lived for more thirty or
even forty years there, many of them were born in Latvia. I am afraid it
is a historical precedent.
9. It appears beyond dispute that all the inhabitants of Latvia are
immeasurably better off during periods of Latvian independence than
during the occupations. The only exceptions are the members of the KGB,
Gestapo and the ex Red Army officers, who have lost their enormous power
and privilege, but not their mouthpieces. They are the ones
demonstrating today in the streets of Riga.
Latvian industries were mostly destroyed after 1991. They were
considered to be working places for "occupants". Engineers sell
cigarettes at markets, young women become prostitutes - these are some
of the developments that are happening.
10. One final fact: there have been and are boat people from Russia,
China, Vietnam, Cuba and other communist paradises, but there have not
been nor are there now from independent Latvia.
Russian speaking people emigrate to Russia, Israel, Germany, USA. The
number of population decreased sharply.
(a US resident, one of those who left Latvian paradise).
Sunday Times (UK)
April 5, 1998
[for personal use only]
Mayor with a past felled by Yeltsin axe
by Mark Franchetti, Nizhniy Novgorod
SEATED in Rocco's, his luxurious nightclub, Andrei Klimentyev could
barely conceal his glee after his surprising election as mayor of
Nizhniy Novgorod, Russia's third-largest city and pre-eminent showpiece
of economic reform.
A twice-convicted criminal turned successful businessman, who also owns
a striptease bar, casino and two supermarkets, he was planning to move
into his new office that day. But Klimentyev's smile vanished as an aide
rushed in to announce that he had been stripped of his powers by order
of the Kremlin. Boris Yeltsin, the Russian president, had intervened
personally to declare last weekend's election results invalid.
"I am the mayor and nobody else," said Klimentyev, 43, waving his large
hands in the air. "I have filled halls with thousands of supporters. How
dare Moscow interfere?"
This weekend Klimentyev, normally surrounded by a large entourage of
bodyguards and aides, was pondering his fate in solitary confinement
after being arrested. He was accused of civil disobedience and breaking
bail terms imposed after an earlier arrest on fraud charges.
Russia has no legislation barring convicted criminals from running for
public office and Yeltsin has repeatedly warned that criminal gangs are
actively trying to infiltrate the state.
The Nizhniy Novgorod election - annulled on the apparently flimsy
pretext that Klimentyev and two other candidates had made campaign
promises they could not keep - has been especially embarrassing for the
Kremlin. The deposed mayor is linked with Boris Nemtsov, Russia's
leading economic reformer, who used to be the governor of the Nizhniy
Klimentyev, who was sentenced during Soviet times to eight years for
cheating at cards - and was then found guilty last year of
misappropriating a $30m (£18m) loan from the Russian finance ministry -
was a friend of Nemtsov for nearly 20 years.
He was also acquainted with another young local reformer named Sergei
Kiriyenko, who was appointed acting prime minister last month after
Yeltsin sacked the entire cabinet.
Nemtsov, widely seen as Yeltsin's choice of eventual successor, has
since distanced himself from Klimentyev, accusing him of corruption.
Klimentyev has retaliated, accusing Nemtsov of taking more than $800,000
in bribes while governor.
"I am bad for Nemtsov's Mr Clean image," Klimentyev said before his
arrest. "I managed him, I financed him and I advised him. I gave him
money every other day, for trips and for expenses." Nemtsov has denied
The victory of Klimentyev, a right-wing patriot who pledged during his
campaign to open up cheap grocery shops for pensioners, was not only a
personal defeat for Nemtsov; it also sent the Kremlin a message of
discontent about its leading reformer's legacy.
Previously known as Gorky - the city to which Andrei Sakharov, the
physicist and human rights campaigner, was exiled - Nizhniy Novgorod won
a reputation in the West as a testing ground for economic reform in the
early 1990s. Baroness Thatcher, in 1993, was among several foreign
dignitaries who arrived to witness Nemtsov's miracle.
Today it looks little different from any other Russian town. State
salaries in many plants are not paid on time. Roads are riddled with
potholes, buildings are crumbling and unemployment is rising.
"What reforms?" said Oleg Kapitanov, a local political commentator.
"People here feel bitter towards Nemtsov now. He promised much in front
of television cameras, but little changed once the microphones were
switched off. He is a political playboy."
Aides to Yeltsin - who is bogged down in a battle with the duma, the
lower house of parliament, to have Kiriyenko confirmed this week as
prime minister - were at pains to convince voters in Nizhniy Novgorod
they had not interfered with local democracy. Nemtsov said that a
"mistake" had been made that would soon be corrected.
Many of Klimentyev's supporters in Nizhniy Novogord were not convinced.
When the annulment of the result was announced, a mob of 300 attacked
the chairman of the local court and punched him in the face.
April 4, 1998
WHAT THE PAPERS SAY: Press Sees Dangerous Hand of Kremlin in Nizhny
Izvestia, April 2
The regional election commission of Nizhny Novgorod declared the voting
results of Andrei Klimentyev's victory invalid. The Central Election
Committee of the Russian Federation not only supported this decision but
promoted it. Of course, it is horrifying that the mayor of Russia's
third largest city is someone with a criminal past. But that the
president and stunned authorities nobly exclaimed: "How can that be?"
and the Central Election Committee responded: "Yes, Sir!" is also
The authorities have been surprisingly quick in mastering the technology
of producing political actors from nothing. Through their efforts, a
dismissed official or general instantaneously becomes a significant
political figure. ...
For the first time, elections were recognized to be invalid because of
"improper conduct of the election campaign." But have [the authorities]
seen other elections in Russia? The authorities were entirely capable of
stopping this process at an earlier stage, but they were sleeping. And
now they have awaken. ... To think that the people don't understand
anything is stupid. When Klimentyev learned about the decision of the
election commission, he told us, "The infantrymen don't understand a
thing -- at the next election, I'll have 90 percent of the vote." ...
One of the few things that have allowed people to speak of Russia as a
democratic government is the more or less meticulously functioning
election system. Canceling the elections -- even because of the
candidacy of a criminal -- sets a precedent that threatens not only
unpleasantness in certain areas. In this situation, it makes it easy to
try out versions of cancelling elections at the federal level. We all
understand full well that any Russian elections are carried out
improperly, but today these conflicts remain "on the streets." They take
place at press conferences, in newspapers, in kompromat wars. But it is
another matter if the Central Election Committee starts to play the part
of the authorities. The methods that are being used in the fight with
Klimentyev have nothing in common with a law-based society. There's no
use locking the barn door after the horse has bolted.
Moskovskiye Novosti, March 29-April 5
In Spite of Moscow
There's no use wracking your brains over the reasons for the sensation
in Nizhny. It's not worth it if only because there are several reasons
why the vote turned out the way it did. The main reason was that people
were voting not for Klimentyev but against the federal authorities to
spite them. It's another matter that against the background of gray
competitors, a self-assured man, for all his criminal past and seven
years in prison, looked bright. Finally, the strategies of the
democratic candidates -- not to mention the Communist and LDPR
candidates -- looked helpless. ...
Governor Ivan Sklyarov fervently said the inhabitants of Novgorod had
"elected a mayor for three days." He apparently had in mind the
possibility of court and presidential sanctions against Klimentyev. The
lesson to be learned from the victory of the former prisoner in the
cradle of Volga-area democracy is that [the government] cannot recruit
all the more or less sensible local authorities to Moscow with impunity.
Kommersant Daily, April 3
We met with Andrei Klimentyev March 31. Then, he was eager to give an
interview and even appeared on [the television show] "Hero of the Day."
What will now become of your business?
Klimentyev: My brother and family will be taking it over.
And what do you own?
Nothing. Everything belongs to my family -- three supermarkets, the
Rosso night club, the Russian-Norwegian joint stock companies Aroco and
Russian Shipping, a 2,000-ton ship, a dock with a displacement of 5,000
tons and two tugboats. If the court finds me innocent, then I will be
the owner of the Navashinsky shipbuilding works and the state will be
obliged to compensate me for 200 billion rubles ($33 billion) in
Now that you are elected, tell us about your plans.
For a start, I will open a chain of social stores, where all necessities
will be sold 30 percent cheaper. This way, people will be free to spend
30 percent more of their wages. Then I will finance children's
activities. I mean that instead of building colonies, as is now being
done, I will organize pioneer palaces, as there used to be, airplane
model, ship model and musical circles. And finally, I want to organize
credit unions. These are voluntary associations along the lines of trade
unions, but they are for places of residence, the kind of unions that
exist in England and Norway. Through such unions, the price of gas and
electricity can be brought down.
What kind of relations will you have with the federal authorities?
Let the governor worry about this. I'm not interested in the affairs of
Moscow. I'd rather get down to work.
The next morning, April 1, Klimentyev learned that he would not be
Yesterday, you were certain that there would be no repressive measures
and that all the retorts of Moscow bosses would remain just retorts.
I am sure that the personal fear of Mr. [Boris] Nemtsov played a part in
this: If I were recognized mayor, then Nemtsov would be a clown. And the
entire country would understand this. Of course, in order not to make a
clown out of the [acting] first deputy prime minister, it was necessary
not to allow me to be mayor.
You mean to say that Nemtsov is behind the scandal?
Of course. You see, his entire reputation is in question. He says he
carried out reforms. And I, his opponent, have revealed that at the
factories in Nizhny Novgorod wages have not been paid for a year and a
half. This is laughable. At the Termal factory, people haven't received
their pay for a year. And its head, Sergei Mitin, is now deputy
economics minister of Russia.
What are you going to do before the next elections?
Catch fish. Rest. Wait.
The Independent (UK)
5 April 1998
[for personal use only]
We can't close Chernobyl, warns Kiev
>From Phil Reeves in Moscow
THE President of Ukraine has warned that the devastated Chernobyl
nuclear power plant, site of the world's worst nuclear disaster in 1986,
may carry on working well into the next century - clearly undermining an
agreement between Ukraine and the G7 industrialised nations to shut it
down for ever by 2000.
The announcement by President Leonid Kuchma will cause apprehension and
dismay among environmentalists and anger Western governmentsclamouring
for Chernobyl's Soviet-designed RBMK reactors to be decommissioned. The
latest threat from Kiev, issued late last week, is part of a tense,
drawn-out bargaining game in which the former Soviet Republic, faced
with economic chaos at home, seeks to extract as much foreign aid as it
can in return for helping to meet Western fears over the plant. And it
comes as a nuclear reactor right next to the leaking and dangerous
sarcophagus covering the highly radioactive remains of the Chernobyl
melt-down is due to go back into operation next month.
Ukraine is hoping to put Chernobyl's Reactor 3 back into use, raising
the possibility that engineers repairing the crumbling 240ft-high
sarcophagus may have to work alongside a functioning reactor. The
sarcophagus, which is already in danger of collapse, contains large
amounts of highly contaminated wreckage, unused fuel and an estimated 34
tons of lethal radioactive dust.
Almost 12 years after the Chernobyl disaster, the European Bank for
Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is close to signing a contract for
the management of rebuilding the shelter around the radioactive wreckage
of Chernobyl. But engineers at Chernobyl have said they are concerned
about working with heavy equipment in a highly dangerous and
contaminated environment next to the working Reactor 3.
Last year the Ukrainian nuclear safety inspectorate reported failings in
management and safety measures at Reactor 3. Another inspection, by the
World Association of Nuclear Operators, found equipment flaws and
inadequate protection against fire.
In 1995 the G7 struck an agreement with Kiev for the closure of all of
Chernobyl by 2000. But the terms were conditional on Western loans for
completing two other nuclear reactors elsewhere, replacing the
generation capacity lost from Chernobyl.
The EBRD, acting for the G7, has been reluctant to provide the loans,
fearing Ukraine will not pay them back. Last week Mr Kuchma hit back,
saying it would not be possible to close Chernobyl by 2000 if the group
failed to finance the two nuclear plants, at Khmelnitsky and Rivne.
ROS LEADER WARNS OF "DEEP CRISIS" IN OPPOSITION
ROS LEADER WARNS OF "DEEP CRISIS" IN OPPOSITION
MOSCOW, APRIL 4. /From RIA Novosti's correspondent
Alexander Utkin/-- There is a very deep crisis in the opposition
ranks and no progress can be achieved unless it is overcome,
Sergei Baburin, leader of the Russian People's Union, or ROS,
has said, speaking today to its 8th extraordinary congress.
He critically evaluated the situation with the government,
stressing that "a considerable share of responsibility is
shouldered by the opposition inside which are growing problems
and disagreements". "The opposition has failed thus far to
present a coherent alternative variant of restructuring life in
the country and there is the lack of elementary accord
concerning the tactics of the current struggle." In Baburin's
opinion, this has been vividly borne out by the situation with
the government resignation and the adoption of the budget for
The opposition no longer "initiates actions capable of
creating a new political situation in the country," Baburin went
on. He mentioned "the growing opposition to ROS not only on the
part of the regime supporters" but also the communist party.
The main task of ROS is "work for such a social order when
the capability of each and every member of society will be duly
appraised". The ROS leader also emphasised the need to revive
"the Russian idea" which in practical politics is tantamount to
the idea of social justice and patriotism. Baburin thinks that
all patriotically-minded intellectuals ought to take part in
this process. ROS intends to continue party construction in the
regime of preparations for the next election campaign, he
Voice of America
INTRO:A CONFIDENT RUSSIAN PRESIDENT BORIS YELTSIN HEADS INTO A
NEW WEEK PREDICTING PARLIAMENT WILL APPROVE HIS NOMINATION OF
SERGEI KIRIYENKO AS PRIME MINISTER. LAWMAKERS, AFTER INITIAL
OPPOSITION, APPEAR TO HAVE SOFTENED THEIR OBJECTIONS. A VOTE IS
EXPECTED FRIDAY. VOA MOSCOW CORRESPONDENT PETER HEINLEIN REPORTS
EVENTS OF THE PAST TWO WEEKS HAVE AGAIN FIRMLY ESTABLISHED MR.
YELTSIN AS THE MASTER OF KREMLIN POLITICS.
TEXT: IN EARLY MARCH, BORIS YELTSIN WAS SICK. HE WAS OUT OF WORK
MORE THAN A WEEK.
AS IS ALWAYS THE CASE DURING HIS MANY ILLNESSES, THE KREMLIN
CORRIDORS WERE FILLED WITH SPECULATION ABOUT WHO HIS SUCCESSOR
VETERAN YELTSIN-WATCHERS SAY IT IS JUST SUCH TALK THAT MAKES THE
RUSSIAN LEADER FEEL THE MOST INSECURE. AT 67, HE KNOWS HIS TIME
IN OFFICE IS LIMITED.
SO, TRUE TO FORM, HE RETURNED TO WORK TWO WEEKS AGO WITH A
STUNNING DISPLAY OF AUTHORITY. IT WAS CLASSIC YELTSIN. WITH A
SERIES OF DECREES, HE FIRED THE ENTIRE GOVERNMENT, TRIGGERING
WHAT APPEARED TO BE A POLITICAL CRISIS.
IN PLACE OF THE SOLID, VETERAN PRIME MINISTER VICTOR
CHERNOMYRDIN, HE APPOINTED A VIRTUALLY UNKNOWN 35-YEAR OLD
MANAGER WITH LESS THAN A YEAR OF EXPERIENCE IN GOVERNMENT, AND
DARED THE OPPOSITION-DOMINATED PARLIAMENT, OR DUMA, TO CHALLENGE
MANY COMMENTATORS SUGGESTED MR. YELTSIN HAD LOST HIS SENSES.
COMMUNIST GENNADY ZYUGANOV, LEADER OF THE LARGEST FACTION IN
PARLIAMENT, CALLED PRIME MINISTER-DESIGNATE SERGEI KIRIYENKO
"IMMATURE", AND SAID HIS PARTY COULD NOT SUPPORT THE NOMINATION.
BUT TWO WEEKS LATER, THE STORM HAS SUBSIDED. MR. YELTSIN HAS
HELD CONCILIATORY TALKS WITH DUMA LEADERS, AND IS INVITING
LAWMAKERS FOR A ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION IN THE KREMLIN TUESDAY.
ANALYST ANDREI ZOBOV OF THE MOSCOW CARNEGIE CENTER SAYS MR.
YELTSIN APPEARS TO HAVE CORRECTLY CALCULATED THAT THE THREAT OF
EARLY ELECTIONS -- PLUS A FEW MINOR CONCESSIONS -- WOULD BE
ENOUGH TO WIN OVER THE DUMA
I THINK THERE IS A REALIZATION ON BOTH SIDES THAT
DISSOLUTION OF THE DUMA WILL BE CATASTROPHIC AND NOT IN
THE INTERESTS OF ANY PARTY, NEITHER DUMA NOR THE
GOVERNMENT NOR THE PRESIDENT, SO I'M SURE THAT BY THE
END OF NEXT WEEK, BY FRIDAY, THERE WILL BE AN
MR. ZOBOV SAYS THE CHOICE OF SERGEI KIRIYENKO AS PRIME MINISTER
MAY TURN OUT TO BE BRILLIANT PRECISELY BECAUSE THE NOMINEE IS SO
YOUNG, AND FREE OF THE BAGGAGE OF THE PAST.
THE YOUNGER THE TURKS, THE BETTER FOR TURKEY. IN THIS
CASE SUBSTITUTE THE RUSSIANS. RUSSIAN, OR RATHER SOVIET
HISTORY IS FULL OF EXAMPLES WHEN THERE WERE APPEALS TO
LET YOUNG BLOOD INTO THE GOVERNMENT, BUT THOSE APPEALS
NEVER MATERIALIZED. THE LAST HOPE TO CORRECT THE
SITUATION, THE ECONOMIC COLLAPSE OF THE COUNTRY, WOULD
BE LET'S TRY TO BRING YOUNGER BLOOD INTO GOVERNMENT.
SORT OF A LAST RESORT.
MR. ZOBOV SAYS THE BIG LOSER IN MR. YELTSIN'S SHAKEUP IS VICTOR
CHERNOMYRDIN, WHOSE OUSTER FORCED HIM TO PREMATURELY ANNOUNCE HIS
PRESIDENTIAL AMBITIONS. WITHOUT HIS POWER BASE IN GOVERNMENT,
THE LACKLUSTER FORMER PRIME MINISTER, WHO TURNS 60 THIS WEEK,
WILL HAVE A HARD TIME KEEPING HIS CAMPAIGN ALIVE.
THE BIG WINNER APPEARS TO BE MOSCOW MAYOR YURI LUZHKOV. THE
MAYOR HAS NOT ANNOUNCED HIS CANDIDACY, BUT IS QUIETLY PUTTING
TOGETHER A POWERFUL CAMPAIGN MACHINE.
MR. LUZHKOV, AN OUTSPOKEN OPPONENT OF REFORM, ENJOYS SUPPORT
AMONG NATIONALISTS, COMMUNISTS AND DEMOCRATS. ANALYSTS SAY WITH
MR. CHERNOMYRDIN OUT OF THE WAY, THE MOSCOW MAYOR IS THE MAN TO
MAYOR LUZHKOV IS CLEARLY NOT THE MAN PRESIDENT YELTSIN WOULD
LIKE TO SEE AS HIS SUCCESSOR. BUT ANALYST ANDREI ZOBOV PREDICTS
THE RUSSIAN LEADER STILL HAS SEVERAL MORE SURPRISES IN HIS BAG OF