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Johnson's Russia List
20 April 1998
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Bear Braumoeller: Russian progressivism.
2. Reuters: Kiriyenko fairly sure he'll be Russian PM.
3. Reuters: Beaming Yeltsin shows he still has right stuff.
4. RIA Novosti: TODAY ORTHODOX WORLD COMMEMORATES CHRIST'S
5. VOA: Michelle Kelemen, RUSSIA EASTER.
6. Moscow Times: Andrei Zolotov, Easter Offers Resurrection From
7. Sunday Times (UK): Mark Franchetti, Happy families in Stalin's
8. Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Alexei Pushkov, KURILE ISLANDS: WEAK
COUNTRY MAY NOT GIVE UP PART OF ITS TERRITORY.
9. RIA Novosti: PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE BRANDS RED CHIEF FOR
"PHARISAIC" ADDRESS TO DUMA.
10. RIA Novosti: RELATIONS BETWEEN MOSCOW AND PRAGUE AFTER
CZECHIA'S ADMISSION TO NATO TO BE BASED ON "ORDINARY NEIGHBOURHOOD":
11. Interfax: Poll: Most Russians Oppose Handing Kurils to Japan.
12.Moscow Times: Igor Zakharov, BOOKWORM: Readers, Writers Turn
Date: Sun, 19 Apr 1998 13:57:23 -0400
From: "Bear F. Braumoeller" <email@example.com>
Subject: Russian progressivism (RE #2154)
Regarding Matthew Rendall's comparison of Yabloko to the American
progressives: interesting point! Very broadly speaking, I think the reason
the progressives succeeded as much as they did in the first couple of
decades of the century had to do with two factors. One, the American
political spectrum was remarkably truncated -- both the laissez-faire types
and the progressives fell squarely within the Western liberal tradition;
the difference was more a matter of emphasis than a matter of type. Two,
unadulterated Gilded Age capitalism created or enhanced problems (social,
economic, and political inequalities foremost) which offended the
progressive part of the American liberal mind. The combination of the two
made progressive politicians more popular.
To the extent that modern-day Russian capitalism resembles American
Gilded Age capitalism, the second of these two conditions is fulfilled. I'm
not sure about the first one, though. The American political tradition is
so constricted that the only legitimate way to redress capitalist excess
was via progressive reform -- the socialists never caught on, e.g., even
during the Depression. The Russian political tradition is a *lot* broader.
The question, then, becomes, if people are repulsed by Russian capitalism,
which ideology will attract them?
There are quite a few options, and Yabloko, it seems to me, is only one
of them. If the majority of Russians, like Buzgalin and Kolganov, are of
the opinion that there are options other than Yabloko which are more likely
to succeed, that's where I'd put my bet. The progressives just had to say
that they'd bust trusts; Yabloko's got to say that it'll bust trusts *and*
that it'll do it better than anybody else would.
FOCUS-Kiriyenko fairly sure he'll be Russian PM
By Martin Nesirky
MOSCOW, April 19 (Reuters) - Russia's would-be prime minister said on Sunday
he was fairly confident Russia's opposition-dominated lower house of
parliament would confirm him in office this week rather than vote itself into
The State Duma has twice rejected Sergei Kiriyenko, President Boris Yeltsin's
35-year-old nominee. It must approve him by next Friday or face dissolution
and an early election -- making this week crucial for Russian politics and
Asked on Sunday's weekly analytical television programme Itogi how he rated
his chances, Kiriyenko said: ``I don't rate these as my chances. In my view,
the Duma will be voting after all on the government's action programme.''
Pressed to say whether he would succeed or fail in the Duma vote, Kiriyenko
smiled patiently and sipped from a cup of tea.
``I think there is a sufficiently high probability that they will approve
me,'' he said.
In a phone-in poll, 16,408 callers to Itogi said they agreed. Itogi said
thought he would be rejected. A similar number favoured a compromise.
In last Friday's hearing, Kiriyenko was 111 votes short of the 226
Communist Party, the largest force in the 450-seat Duma, voted against him,
saying he was inexperienced.
Party chief Gennady Zyuganov told Itogi he was sure his deputies would not
change their minds at a Communist plenary meeting on Thursday and would vote
against this Friday.
``Kiriyenko's candidacy is not acceptable,'' he said.
But at least two senior Communists have started to take a different tack,
arguing the country would not easily forgive deputies for precipitating a
``There isn't a kopeck in the budget,'' said Duma speaker Gennady
Communist. ``It means the president gets the right to say to teachers,
doctors, servicemen 'I need a minimum two billion roubles ($300 million) from
the budget to fund the Duma election'. What will our electorate say to that?''
Yeltsin sacked the old government a month ago and named Kiriyenko, a former
energy minister, to put together a new team to inject more dynamism into
economic reforms and tackle persistent public sector wage arrears.
Kiriyenko said the lack of a formal government was damaging.
``Many things are just not moving,'' he said in the interview, which was
filmed on Saturday.
Kiriyenko was meeting Yeltsin on Sunday evening for a debriefing after the
president's weekend ``no neckties'' summit in Kawana, Japan, with Prime
Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto.
Yeltsin's trip kept an improvement in bilateral relations firmly on track but
left unsolved a World War Two territorial dispute. It also showed the 67-year-
old president was on form and unfazed by his tussle with the Duma.
Yeltsin and his aides seemed in buoyant mood.
``The question of Kiriyenko has already been decided. On Friday it is the
question of the Duma that will be decided, whether it will carry on working or
not,'' Acting First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov -- Kiriyenko's
reformist mentor -- told reporters at the end of the summit.
If the Duma were dissolved, Yeltsin could appoint Kiriyenko anyway and
decree pending an election. With that prospect, and with their positions and
perks threatened, many experts expect the Communists and other Kiriyenko
opponents to back down.
Kiriyenko contradicted Nemtsov earlier on Sunday, saying a government would
not be formed immediately if he was confirmed in office by the Duma. Nemtsov
said he was sure a new cabinet would be wheeled out right after the vote.
``President Yeltsin and I have agreed in principle that after confirmation it
will not take longer than one week to form the government,'' Kiriyenko said.
Did that mean Nemtsov was wrong? ``Basically, yes.''
Beaming Yeltsin shows he still has right stuff
By Gareth Jones
KAWANA, Japan, April 19 (Reuters) - Boris Yeltsin, written off by many of his
compatriots as too old, erratic and out of touch to lead Russia much longer,
showed this weekend in Japan that he is still a powerful force to be reckoned
Looking relaxed and healthy, the 67-year-old president clearly enjoyed
days of talks with Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto at the luxury
Kawana seaside resort, where he also found time to fish, energetically play
traditional Japanese drums and kiss a young bride.
``The president is in great form,'' Russia's First Deputy Prime Minister
Nemtsov told reporters.
Unlike on other recent foreign trips, Yeltsin's aides did not have to
to correct any presidential gaffes and the Kremlin chief also made no
embarrassing breaches of protocol.
Yeltsin also showed no signs of stress from Russia's political crisis.
Just before he left Moscow on Friday night for the 10-hour flight to Japan,
parliament rejected his candidate for prime minister for a second time.
If the opposition-dominated State Duma lower house rejects Sergei Kiriyenko a
third time next week, Yeltsin must dissolve the chamber, call an early
parliamentary election and rule by decree in the interim.
The crisis was triggered by Yeltsin's abrupt dismissal of veteran prime
minister Viktor Chernomrydin's cabinet on March 23 -- a move that rattled
world financial markets and led many to question the president's political
``I want to thank my friend Ryu for inviting us to this wonderful place,''
Yeltsin told reporters at a joint news conference with Hashimoto rounding off
talks on improving the traditionally frosty ties between Russia and Japan.
Speaking in a strong, confident voice, Yeltsin also teased reporters wearing
suits and sweaters under a warm Japanese sun. Helped by Hashimoto, he had
removed his cardigan during the briefing and the top button of his shirt was
The president spoke without notes and only had to be prompted once by his
spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky.
Yeltsin, who often appears distant or stiff in public, was clearly listening
carefully to the questions, given in both Russian and Japanese, reacting with
smiles, nods or a quizzically raised eyebrow.
``What we are not so happy about,'' he said, his tone briefly hardening in
mock anger as though he were chastising some Kremlin underling, ``is the slow
pace of the joint commission (charged with preparing a peace treaty between
Russia and Japan officially ending World War Two hostilities).''
Earlier, Yeltsin, a keen sportsman in his younger days, had demonstrated his
fishing prowess by catching two fish while on a boat cruise round the
picturesque Jogasaki cape near Kawana, which lies about 120 km (75 miles)
southwest of Tokyo.
On Saturday, armed with flowers and presents, Yeltsin and Hashimoto
gatecrashed a wedding taking place in the same hotel as their summit.
With a characteristically theatrical flourish, Yeltsin kissed the young bride
on both cheeks -- a very unusual gesture in reserved Japan -- and wished the
couple many children.
In contrast to Kawana, Yeltsin's other recent foreign forays have raised
doubts about whether he is still fit and alert enough to rule his vast,
In Sweden last December he announced unilateral arms cuts that were not
planned and bizarrely began lecturing his hosts about Russia's relations with
Yeltsin also kept the Swedish king waiting while he admonished a member
On a trip to Italy in February he misunderstood reporters' questions and,
breach of diplomatic protocol, failed to pay tribute to the Italian flag
during a ceremony in Rome despite frantic gesturing from his aides.
Physically, Yeltsin looked well during his Japan trip despite having to
across five time zones.
``I'm completely satisfied with the physical condition of Boris Yeltsin, his
activity and capacity to work,'' Interfax news agency quoted his doctor,
Sergei Mironov, as saying on Saturday in Kawana.
In November 1996 Yeltsin underwent life-saving heart surgery and since then
has succumbed several times to illness, withdrawing to his country residences
for weeks at a time.
TODAY ORTHODOX WORLD COMMEMORATES CHRIST'S RESURRECTION
By RIA Novosti correspondent Anatoly Mikhailov
MOSCOW, APRIL 19, RIA NOVOSTI - Today the Orthodox world is
celebrating the main Christian holiday -- the resurrection of
Christ or Easter.
On the holiday's eve, the great Saturday, Patriarch of
Moscow and All Russia Alexy II served vespers and Vasily the
Great's liturgy in the Cathedral of the Epiphany.
Christians celebrate Easter on the third day after the
death of Jesus. By verdict of a Judean court he was crucified on
a cross between 12.00 and 15.00 on the Golgotha Mount near
Christ was buried in the garden of one of his disciples --
in a rock mountain cave. The entrance to the cave was sealed
with a stone slab. On the third day after the death Jesus was
The day of Holy Easter for the Christians is a day marking
the Saviour's victory over the evil and of life over sin and
The holiday is marked by cooking Easter cakes, making
sweetened curds, colouring eggs and having it all consecrated in
Easter's symbol is the egg, because it gives rise to life.
The red colour of the egg symbolises our revival through Jesus'
Today -- the day of Christ's resurrection -- all the
celebrations will centre in Christ the Saviour's Cathedral.
It will be the venue of Easter celebrations attended by
Holy Patriarch Alexy and Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov; in the
forecourt of the lower church granite slabs with the names of
church restoration donors will be unveiled and a ceremony of
opening a museum of the Russian holy place will be held.
At 16.00 Alexy II will begin great Easter vespers in the
Transfiguration Church of the Cathedral. Services will be
broadcast within the cathedral and can be heard in nearby
Public festivities will be held on the cathedral's
premises, decorated with flowers.
A stage near the Patriarch's Ponds will feature holiday
concerts, and all kinds of side-shows will be held and
traditional Easter refreshments -- cakes, sweetened curds, and
coloured eggs -- will be sold.
The holiday will culminate in an Easter fireworks display.
Voice of America
TITLE=RUSSIA EASTER (L-ONLY)
INTRO: MILLIONS OF RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS HAVE CELEBRATED
EASTER IN CHURCHES ACROSS THE FORMER SOVIET UNION. AS V-O-A'S
MICHELLE KELEMEN REPORTS FROM MOSCOW, SERVICES BEGAN SATURDAY
NIGHT AND LASTED THROUGH SUNDAY MORNING.
TEXT: //AMBIENT SOUND//
JUST BEFORE MIDNIGHT RUSSIANS FLOCKED TO THE PIAMOVSKAYA CHURCH
IN CENTRAL MOSCOW. THE WORSHIPERS, YOUNG AND OLD, HELD CANDLES
AS THEY FOLLOWED A PROCESSION OUTSIDE AND AROUND THE CHURCH.
RELIGION EXPERT LAWRENCE UZZELL OF THE BRITISH RESEARCH GROUP,
THE KESTON INSTITUTE, SAYS THE EASTER RITUALS ARE AMONG THE MOST
IMPORTANT IN RUSSIAN ORTHODOXY.
THE SERVICE IS A DRAMATIC REENACTMENT OF THE GOOD NEWS
OF CHRIST'S RESURRECTION. AS SOMEONE ONCE VERY PROPERLY
SAID THAT YOU GET THE FEELING AT A RUSSIAN ORTHODOX
EASTER SERVICE THAT THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST FROM THE
TOMB JUST HAPPENED A MINUTE AGO AND PEOPLE ARE HEARING
ABOUT IT FOR THE FIRST TIME. THERE IS AN EXPLOSION OF
JOY AS THE PRIEST PROCLAIMS CHRIST HAS RISEN AND THE
PEOPLE ANSWER, INDEED HE HAS RISEN AND THEY ANSWER WITH
A SHOUT (SOUNDS OF PEOPLE)
THE SCENE OF THE PIAMOVSKAYA CHURCH IS REPEATED IN HUNDREDS OF
OTHER PLACES OF WORSHIP THROUGHOUT THE RUSSIAN CAPITAL. SERVICES
LAST UNTIL DAWN - SOME ARE TELEVISED THROUGH THE NIGHT.
THERE ARE ABOUT 400 WORKING RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCHES IN MOSCOW.
NOT MANY FOR A CITY OF TEN MILLION PEOPLE. MR. UZZELL SAYS
BEFORE THE BOLSEVIK TAKEOVER IN 1917 THERE WERE 16-HUNDRED IN THE
CITY. THERE HAS HOWEVER BEEN A BIG JUMP SINCE THE 1950'S WHEN
ONLY 40 CHURCHES WERE OPERATIONAL.
EASTER SERVICES IN RUSSIA NOWADAYS DRAW NOT ONLY OLDER
WORSHIPERS. IN THE CONGREGATIONS THERE ARE POLITICIANS, WEALTHY
BUSINESS PEOPLE AND YOUNG STUDENTS.
BUT WHILE THE EASTER SERVICES HAVE CLEARLY BECOME AN IMPORTANT
PART OF LIFE FOR SOME RUSSIANS, MR UZZELL OF THE KESTON
INSTITUTE SAYS FEW PEOPLE GO TO CHURCH REGULARLY. HE SAYS THE
DRAMATIC SPIRITUAL BOOM OF THE EARLY 1990'S IN RUSSIA IS WELL
RUSSIA IS MORE LIKE SECULARIZED WESTERN EUROPE AND LESS
LIKE AMERICA THAN ONE MIGHT HAVE THOUGHT. IN THE
TYPICAL RUSSIAN CITY ON A TYPICAL SUNDAY MAYBE ONE
PERCENT OF THE POPULATION IS ACTUALLY IN CHURCH.
BUT EVEN FOR THOSE RUSSIANS WHO DO NOT GO TO CHURCH ON A REGULAR
BASIS IN RUSSIA, THE EASTER SERVICE IS SOMETHING SPECIAL //SOUNDS
April 18, 1998
Easter Offers Resurrection From Stalin's Terror
By Andrei Zolotov Jr.
Christ died Friday afternoon in a small wooden church in Butovo, an ugly
region on Moscow's southern edge, just as he did in thousands of
Orthodox churches around the world to be resurrected on Easter Sunday.
But as the great Christian drama of death and resurrection is played out
these days throughout Russia, in tiny chapels and grandiose cathedrals,
there are few places where Christianity's defining miracle can be felt
as deeply as in the small Butovo church dedicated to the New Martyrs of
Russia. The church stands -- literally -- on their bones.
Christians believe that those who died for Christ share Christ's
suffering and death and that together with all of humankind, they will
be resurrected at the time of the Second Coming.
The church in Butovo was built two years ago on the site just outside
Moscow where Stalin's secret police shot tens of thousands of people
from the mid-1930s to the mid-1950s. No one knows for sure how many
people are buried in the mass graves here.
What is known precisely from KGB archives is that in slightly more than
a year -- from Aug. 8, 1937, to Aug. 19, 1938 -- 20,765 people were
After passing through a small gate in a barbed-wire fence, visitors trod
along a muddy path near a tall memorial cross to the wooden church. The
symbolism of Christian liturgy, which was celebrated by the first
Christians on the tombs of martyrs, is brought to life here.
But even standing outside the simple wooden church, it is impossible to
comprehend that thousands of bodies lie under the muddy snow on the 6
hectares of land that were transferred from theKGB to the Russian
Orthodox Church in 1995.
Near the end of the special Friday afternoon service in memory of the
Deposition, Father Kirill Kaleda placed on his head the shroud, or cloth
with the image of dead Christ on it, representing the shroud in which
Joseph of Arimathaea wrapped the body of Christ and buried it.
As in every other Orthodox church, the priest put the shroud on a
symbolic tomb in the center of the church, where it will lie until the
Easter service, which starts shortly before midnight Saturday. About 30
people lined up to kneel before the symbolical sepulcher.
"How shall I bury Thee, O my Lord, or in which shroud shall I wrap
Thee?" The four-member choir sang the ancient text somberly, striving
not to go too far off pitch.
Kaleda, 39, whose grandfather, Vladimir Ambartsumov, a priest, was shot
and buried here, leads the small Orthodox Christian community in Butovo.
The church miraculously unites relatives of the victims, who commute
from other parts of Moscow, with former employees of the execution site
and locals who lived here at the time.
The church community, together with a secular memorial group, has
published a book with the names and short biographies of about 6,500
people killed here.
"People buried here are from all over the world," Kaleda said. There are
Indians, Afghans and even six Americans and one Boer from South Africa.
Some of the victims were from different faiths, and Jewish and Roman
Catholic services also have been held at the site.
But most of the victims were from the Moscow region, including many
members of the Orthodox clergy, Kaleda said. The names of 430 churchmen
are known so far.
Last year, the Russian Orthodox Church canonized one of them,
Metropolitan Seraphim Chichagov of St. Petersburg. The names of others,
listed on plain plastic plaques outside the church, may one day find
their place in church calendars.
The daily prayer "for the blessed memory of our fathers, brothers,
mothers and sisters" is recited in the Butovo church with special
The Shroud Father Kirill was deposing once belonged to a priest, Sergei
Goloshchapov, who found his death in this place. When the church was
started three years ago, mainly by relatives of the victims,
Goloshchapov's son donated the Shroud.
Kaleda said that looking through the many files of Butovo victims, he
found a pattern in the testimony of priests and laymen. Answering the
standard question about their attitude toward Soviet authority, most
would say something along these lines: In general my attitude toward the
authorities is loyal, but as an Orthodox Christian, I consider Soviet
power temporary and disagree with its policy regarding the church.
It was enough to accuse them of anti-Soviet conspiracy and sentence them
"We believe that they will rise, together with Christ, and that their
suffering was also for our salvation," Kaleda said. "Those are our close
relatives, who took part in Christ's suffering, and they will also take
part in the resurrection of our people, of our motherland, and in our
personal resurrection during the Second Coming of Our Lord."
As midnight draws near Saturday, this small wooden church, like
thousands of others throughout Russia and the Orthodox world, will be
full of people. But when the procession around the outside of the church
stops at midnight before the closed doors, as the myrrh-bearing women
stopped at the entrance of the Holy Sepulchuer in Jerusalem, the Easter
Hymn will sound here with a particular vigor: "Christ is Risen from the
dead, trampling down death by death, and to all those in the tombs
Sunday Times (UK)
19 April 1998
[for personal use only]
Happy families in Stalin's hellhole
by Mark Franchetti
THE parallel lines of electrified barbed wire fencing, patrolled by
armed soldiers with dogs, are the first signs of Sarov's isolation from
the outside world. The town is missing from most Russian maps. The main
road into it is signposted Dead End.
To enter Sarov is to step back into the Soviet era. The western
advertisement hoardings that colour the streets of modern Russian cities
are absent and there are few cars: the bleak, pot-holed roads are
Sarov - better known by its code name of Arzamas-16 - was, for decades,
one of the Soviet Union's most closely guarded secrets. It was built on
the orders of Josef Stalin to make lethal weapons of mass destruction.
Here, the first Soviet atomic bomb was created in 1949 under Yuli
Khariton, its chief designer; here, in 1953, Andrei Sakharov developed
the first Soviet hydrogen bomb.
Nearly half a century later, the inhabitants are still not permitted
visits from friends outside. Their telephone calls are monitored by the
security service. Their passports are checked every time they come and
Yet proposals by liberal deputies in the duma, the lower house of
parliament, to end the restrictions imposed by the communists and
introduce Arzamas-16 to the freedoms of democratic Russia have been
greeted with horror by the town's 80,000 people.
Appalled by the prospect of outsiders being allowed in, fearful of the
crime that has brought terror to many cities, 90% want the barbed wire
fences to stay.
"Life in a closed city is much better," Gennady Karatayev, the mayor,
said last week. "It's nice and quiet and we all know each other. We
don't need to install metal doors in our homes as they do elsewhere. We
have some crime but it's all local. We know exactly who is committing
"Why open up? The situation out there is far too dangerous at the
moment. No thank you - it would just be asking for trouble. We are all
This view is widely shared. "When I was younger I craved freedom," said
Viktoria Yeltsova, 21, a waitress in the town's only formal restaurant.
"But I want my children to grow up here and I am completely against the
idea of opening up the town. It's safe and quiet. We have no criminals,
no gypsies and no people from the Caucasus. I don't miss anything from
the outside world."
The construction of Arzamas-16 - "our barbed wire home" as some
affectionately call it - began in 1946. Convicts laboured for more than
eight years to complete the town on the site of a second world war
ammunition factory and penal colony.
When they had finished, they were permanently exiled to the remote
region of Magadan on the northeast Pacific coast, almost 5,000 miles
east of Moscow, to prevent them from revealing its whereabouts.
Lavrenti Beria, Stalin's secret police chief, who assumed responsibility
for the Soviet nuclear programme in 1942, is said to have chosen the
site, deep inside a thick birch forest, because, though isolated, it is
only 300 miles from Moscow. Like nine other "closed cities" involved in
the programme, it was known to the Soviet elite by its postcode. The
suffix 16 distinguished it from the nearby town of Arzamas.
The scientists who moved in - often with their families - to embark on
an arms race with the Americans were the cream of the Soviet
intellectual elite. They were sworn to secrecy. "All I was told was that
I was being transferred to central Russia. I was not to ask further
questions," said Yuri Trutnev, 70, who was summoned to Arzamas-16 in
1951. "I received strict instructions to go to the airport and board a
plane with five other scientists. We had no idea where we were being
They were more than willing to go, however. "We had all lived through
the war and felt very patriotic. We felt that what we were doing was
incredibly important for Russia," said Trutnev. "We felt under great
pressure to catch up with America. We felt under threat from the West
and we worked around the clock in an intense atmosphere of comradeship."
Until the late 1980s, when Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet leader,
ushered in glasnost (open government) and perestroika (economic and
political reform), the inhabitants of Arzamas-16 were taught from a
young age never to say where they came from.
After the town acquired a small airport, even the duration of their
flights to and from Moscow was secret information. Only in the 1970s did
it become possible for residents to telephone out.
The town's existence was treated as a state secret until the late 1980s.
In his memoirs, published in 1988, Sakharov, the nuclear physicist who
became a Nobel peace prize-winning critic of the Soviet regime, referred
to Arzamas-16, where he had lived and worked for 19 years, merely as
"the installation". To compensate for the restrictions, the Kremlin
always ensured that Arzamas-16 was better off than towns in other parts
During the communist years its people had better health care, shorter
queues and more choice in the shops. The leading scientists were paid
huge salaries and supplied with personal bodyguards.
Although the town's existence is openly acknowledged now, the
restrictions that remain in force are numerous.
Aircraft are not allowed to fly over. Children under 16 may not leave
unless accompanied by their parents. The scientists who still work there
are barred from taking holidays abroad for fear they may betray secrets
to a foreign power.
The only outsiders allowed to visit are close relatives, and special
permission must be obtained from the Russian ministry of atomic energy
to buy a train ticket to Arzamas-16.
"I didn't find out that my wife came from Arzamas-16 until we had been
married for six years," said Dmitri Slatkov, who moved his family there
in 1993 to escape rising crime in Moscow. "Before then she used to tell
me not to ask questions.
"Whenever she went back to visit her parents she would just say that she
was going home and that I could not go with her."
When I visited last week - the first British journalist to be permitted
access to Arzamas-16 - I was watched day and night by officers from the
Federal Security Bureau (FSB), the successor body to the KGB, who met me
off the train. I was warned that somebody would be listening to any
telephone calls I made.
With the drastic financial cuts that have followed the collapse of
communism, however, Arzamas-16 feels more like a forgotten provincial
town than the cradle of Soviet nuclear power.
Scientists at the nuclear centre where Sakharov worked have not received
their salaries for three months. Morale, inevitably, is low and there
have been attempts by civilians to smuggle out low-grade uranium.
Since the existence of Arzamas-16 was officially confirmed, scientists
have called repeatedly for emergency funding, warning of the danger of
nuclear disaster at the city's reactors. They have even threatened to
take industrial action.
The barbed wire perimeter fence, which stretches for 35 miles around the
town, complete with watchtowers and 2,000 Russian interior ministry
troops, does keep out criminals. Despite a recent increase in offences,
including the occasional contract killing, the crime rate is eight times
lower than that of Nizhny Novgorod, the closest city, 125 miles to the
However, Arzamas-16's isolation has also prevented the investment and
progress that have transformed other Russian cities. Many of the
Soviet-era buildings are crumbling and opportunities for entertainment
There is only one cinema and last week's cultural highlight was a visit
from the Circus Europe, featuring a female dwarf and a man with four
Many, even the young, nevertheless remain enthusiastic about living on
what they regard as an island, a world away from the frantic pace of the
"Most of our kids come back less than two years after they have been on
the outside. They just can't adapt," said Yuri Sherbak, director of the
town's physics and technology institute, which supplies the nuclear
centre with most of its young scientists.
"The people who grow up in a closed city are like fragile, sensitive
plants. They feel uncomfortable in cities like Moscow. Last year there
was an exchange programme which gave our students a chance to study in
America or in Germany for six months. We could find only two who were
prepared to go."
Valentin Tarasov, a young journalist born inside the wire of Arzamas-16,
agreed. "We don't want to mix," he said. "We are like islanders used to
living our lonely life. I know I am like a parrot in a cage. But I am a
>From RIA Novosti
April 17, 1998
KURILE ISLANDS: WEAK COUNTRY MAY NOT GIVE UP PART OF ITS TERRITORY
By Alexei PUSHKOV
Changes have taken place in our difficult dialogue with
Japan over the Southern Kurile Islands in the past 12 to 18
months. Tokyo has realised that no "cavalry attack" will return
the islands and that it is first necessary to change the
atmosphere of Russian-Japanese relations. Hence the new style
of its Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto who has been the first
Japanese leader to begin personal-level rapprochement with the
Russian President. Hence their two informal meetings: the first
near Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, last November, and the second,
scheduled for tomorrow, at the resort of Kawana, Japan.
Despite the gladdening steps towards one another, Russia
and Japan retain principally different views concerning the
ownership of the Southern Kurile Islands. I do not think that
the Japanese could count on an early solution of this problem,
at least, on a solution which would accord completely with
The main problem for both sides is even more
psychological, than territorial, legal or even inner political.
For the Japanese, the return of the islands would symbolise a
major political victory and the end to the defeat complex in
the Second World War. For Russians it would confirm the obvious
trend to the "shrinking" of Russia's territory, which has been
going on over a good dozen of years now.
Russia has come through three rounds of such a
"shrinking". The first was in 1989-1991, when Russia, which was
the centre and the main component of the Soviet Union, lost its
outer spheres of influence, that is, the Warsaw Pact countries
and the Comecon. The disbandment of those organisations, the
unification of Germanys and the withdrawal of Russian troops
from what used to be the German Democratic Republic,
Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland, that followed, signified
Russia's strategic pullout from Eastern Europe. The fact that
it was also our strategic defeat was realised by us some time
later, when the process of NATO's expansion precisely towards
those countries began.
The second round (1990-1992) was complete when our
president and his two colleagues from the neighbouring Slav
states met at Belovezhskaya Pushcha to disband the Soviet
Union. It was presented as Russia's "emancipation", which later
turned out to be the ousting of Russian-speakers from the
territories where they lived from times immemorial, among other
That was not forced emigration connected, say, with the
civil war in Tajikistan. It was the result of the nationality
policy pursued by our neighbours - the new independent states.
As a result of that policy, 222,000 Russian-speakers had
left Kazakhstan, more than 150,000 Uzbekistan and about 100,000
from Kirghizia and Turkmenia by the end of 1997. Ukraine, which
has received the left bank of the Dnieper and Crimea as a gift
from the skies, has been ousting the Russian language even from
the regions with a predominantly Russian-speaking population.
The sphere in which the Russian language is in use, is
inexorably narrowing in Moldavia and Trans-Caucasia. In the
Baltic republics the next generation of Russian-speakers will
inevitably begin to change over to the local languages for the
sake of integrating into the local communities.
All great nations regard their own language and national
communities abroad as an important instrument of their presence
and influence beyond their own borders. The British strive to
preserve their presence through the Commonwealth and the French
through the institute of Francophone. Continental China
maintains firm ties with millions of ethnic Chinese scattered
all over the world. American citizens of Chinese origin are
part of a strong pro-China lobby, which is very active in
Washington, D. C.
Our country has no policy aimed to ensure the preservation
of our national wealth - the Russian language and Russians
living abroad. It took Moscow seven years to become indignant
at the discrimination of Russian-speakers in the Baltics. It is
still an enigma why this problem does not play any important
role in our relations with Ukraine, Kazakhstan and other
The third round - the round of the loss of internationally
recognized Russian territories - began with the separation de
factor of one of Russia's autonomies - Chechnya. We continue to
console ourselves saying that Aslan Maskhadov travels to London
or Washington with a Russian, not Chechen, foreign travel
passport. But the piece of Russian territory in which neither
Russian laws nor the Russian Interior authorities or the
Prosecutor-General's Office have any force cannot be regarded
as part of Russia in the full sense of the word.
Returning the Southern Kurile Islands today would be
tantamount to nothing less than confirmation of Russia's
inability to keep its own territory intact. Can we make such a
step? Only a strong country can give up part of its territory
in the name of certain aims or considerations. Russia is a weak
state today. Giving up the Kurile Islands would also mean
recognition of its weakness. Were Russia strong, it would be
easier for it to make such a step. In fact, regardless of how
hard the Finns or the Germans might console us that they have
no territorial claims to us, some people in Germany and in
Finland continue to look nostalgically at Kaliningrad and parts
of Karelia. Certain German publications continue to call
Kaliningrad Koenigsberg, and it is hardly an editor's error or
a misprint. A nation's memory is capable of rejecting historic
changes and global processes for a long time.
Rumours have it that Tokyo is contemplating something like
a "Hong Kong variant", that is, reaching an agreement with
Moscow on a long-term Russian rule over the Southern Kirile
Islands with the official recognition of Japan's sovereignty
over them. It would be more suitable for us to introduce a
special regime of Japan's favoured economic and humanitarian
presence with the preservation of Russian sovereignty.
When Yeltsin urged in Krasnoyarsk that "maximal efforts"
should be taken for the conclusion of a peace treaty between
Russia and Japan by 2000, he did not specify the maximum length
at which the Russian side would be prepared to go. In my
opinion, the only restriction with regard to this maximum
should be Russia's sovereignty over the islands, and we should
meet Japan halfway on all the other issues.
Inasmuch as the Kurile Islands belong to Russia, it is
time to start paying some attention to that territory which has
been forsaken by God and Moscow alike. It is true that few
Russian territories prosper today. But the Kurile Islands are
in fact a disaster zone. I do not think that it will take too
much funds to improve at least to some degree the living
standards of our people who are living on the islands.
Unless something is done, the islanders will hold their
own referendum and vote for accession to Japan. And they will
be absolutely right, you know.
PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE BRANDS RED CHIEF FOR "PHARISAIC" ADDRESS
MOSCOW, APRIL 17, RIA NOVOSTI - The presidential press
service issued a statement to describe Gennadi Zyuganov as a
pharisee for his address to the State Duma today, in which the
communist leader reproached President Boris Yeltsin for leaving
the country on Easter.
"Everyone knows that communist Zyuganov regards history as
starting with the year 1917. Otherwise, he would not have come
down on the head of state for an Easter visit abroad." The
statement hints that Zyuganov, with a doctoral degree in
history, has to be reminded of historical facts--for instance,
Emperor Alexander II's visit to Germany in April-May 1876.
Russia had no Communist Party at that time--thank God--so it
occurred to no one to fulminate against the monarch on this
far-fetched reason, presidential spokesmen sarcastically remark.
The Russian Communist Party has never renounced the
Communist Party of the Soviet Union, its predecessor, which
forced religion into the underground, banned Easter
celebrations, subjected the clergy to cruel reprisals, and
pulled churches down. "None but its Central Committee heads
ordered thrillers and pop concerts telecast on Easter night to
keep the public off church services. None but these bosses
entered on black lists people who had their children baptised
and Easter cakes consecrated. But our compatriots refused to be
The Kremlin is sure that contemporary Russians "have better
morals and a better knowledge of history than Zyuganov".
RELATIONS BETWEEN MOSCOW AND PRAGUE AFTER CZECHIA'S
ADMISSION TO NATO TO BE BASED ON "ORDINARY NEIGHBOURHOOD":
PRAGUE, APRIL 17, RIA NOVOSTI'S VALERY YENIN - "In
accordance with the UN Charter, each state enjoys its right to
join defensive unions and Czechia executed this right", Vladimir
Lukin, in charge of the State Duma international committee, told
a press conference in Prague when commenting upon the recent
decision of the lower house of the Czech parliament to ratify
the Washington, D.C. Treaty on the North Atlantic Union and
admission of the Republic of Czechia to it.
Vladimir Lukin who is at the head of a delegation of the
State Duma international committee currently in Prague on an
official visit reminded in this respect that Russia has been and
still is in opposition to NATO eastbound expansion and this
stance is well-known to the official Prague. "Our problem now is
wait and see whether this difference will stay in a political
aspect or grow into military and political differences",
Vladimir Lukin stressed. According to him, earlier reached
agreements envisage that admission of new members to NATO will
not result in bigger troops and armaments, proliferation of
nuclear weapons into new territories and deployment of
permanently stationed military contingents in them. "If these
political obligations are met, there will be no threat to
Russia", Lukin noted. "However, should this not be the case, we
will face a bunch of military and political problems which will
require adequate solutions", he added.
Lukin also added that "relations between European states
can be based on friendship, good neighbourhood or ordinary
neighbourhood". He thinks that "the relations between Russia and
Czechia will be based on ordinary neighbourhood".
Poll: Most Russians Oppose Handing Kurils to Japan
Moscow, April 15 (Interfax) -- Most Russians (79%) opposed handing
over the disputed Kuril Islands to Japan, according to a recent opinion
poll. Russia appropriated the southern islands of the Kuril chain after
World War II.
The figure remained practically unchanged from the 76% reported after
a 1994 survey.
Just 7% of those polled both in 1998 and 1994 said that Japan should
have these islands.
This year, 14% of the respondents were undecided, compared to 17% four
Asked about the options to resolve this issue, 30% of the respondents
said the islands should remain Russian territory, compared to 36% in 1994.
One fourth (25%) said the decision should not be hurried, against 28%
four years before.
A free economic zone should be declared there and Japanese investments
encouraged, 14% of the respondents said this year, compared to 13% in 1994.
These islands should be governed jointly by the two countries,
according to 11% of the respondents this year, up 6% from the previous
The same number of Russians, 2% supported handing over the islands in
This year, 2% said that two islands should be transferred to Japan
while Russia is to retain another two, 1% said so four years ago.
In both surveys, 2% said that two islands should be handed over, and
talks on the others are to be continued.
Currently, 14% of the respondents are undecided about the options,
compared to 12% in 1994.
The Russian Center for studying public opinion surveyed 1,600 people
on April 3 through 7 prior to Russian President Boris Yeltsin's visit to
April 18, 1998
BOOKWORM: Readers, Writers Turn to Memoirs
By Igor Zakharov
For many years fiction was much more popular in this country than
non-fiction. Not any longer.
So far this is only a trend, not yet a hard fact. The number of new
novels published every month is still much higher than that of any other
genre. But the many literary critics, as well as ordinary readers,
attest to the growing popularity of the memoir.
Post-Soviet freedoms have made it possible to be quite frank and open
about the past. And readers have very quickly realized that memoirs can
be as fascinating as any novel, with the additional attraction of being
Andrei Voznesensky, who since the early 1960s has been one of the most
popular and famous of Russian poets, published last month a voluminous
book of reminiscences "Na Virtualnom Vetru" ("A Virtual Wind") with
Vagrius publishers, selling for 25 rubles.
Each chapter of the book is devoted to the poet's meetings with
celebrities: Pablo Picasso and Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Henry Moore and
Bob Dylan, Lilya Brik and Jean-Paul Sartre, Vladimir Vysotsky, Boris
Pasternak and Alexander Kerensky.
"It is not important to our conscience whether a person is dead or
alive," says Voznesensky. "For example, Pasternak for me is much more
alive than hundreds of the present members of the Writers Union. ... And
every fate is a sensation if it is the fate of a true personality. In
the 1960s, I was the first to start many things. Reading poetry at
Luzhniki stadium -- I was there. The first evening of Russian poetry in
Paris -- I performed. At Town-Hall in the [United] States, the same
thing. I was the only Russian author who was illustrated by Mark
Chagall. The only one who talked with [Martin] Heidegger."
Vitaly Amursky's collection of conversations with famous Russian authors
Zapechatlyonniye Golosa ("Recorded Voices"), came out in April with MIK
publishers. Voznesensky is not among Amursky's dozen and a half
interlocutors, but many other names, no less famous, are in the book,
including Iosif Brodsky, Bulat Okudzhava, Andrei Bitov and Oleg Volkov.
The first copies of a contemporary memoir by Sergei Romanov, who is
still in his 30s, were presented at Dom Knigi on Tuesday by the author
himself. Journalist, publisher and author of crime novels, Romanov
collected several hundred of his short sketches, previously published in
periodicals, in a 320-page hardcover Baiki pro... ("Tales about..."),
published by Eksim.
Not all of these stories are about famous people, and they are closer in
style to the daily Moskovsky Komsomolets than to Voznesensky. But they
are fresh, some are rather amusing and could easily enrich future books
by foreign journalists writing about contemporary Russia.