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Johnson's Russia List
22 April 1998
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Reuters: Russia's Kiriyenko to step up approval campaign.
2. Moscow Times: David McHugh, What Side Would Win Snap
3. STEPHAN SOLZHEN-LEXINGTON: Re: 2159-MacKenzie/Culture of
4. John Helmer (RFE/RL): Constitutional Court Chairman Displays
5. The Globe & Mail (Canada): Geoffrey York, Alina Vitukhnovskaya
and the Federal Security Service (FSB).
6. Rossiiskaya Gazeta: Alexander Batygin, WHO WILL BECOME RUSSIA'S
NEXT PRIME MINISTER?
7. International Herald Tribune: William Pfaff, Disarray in Today's
8. Izvestia: Alexander Privalov, EARLY CLAIMS TO KIRIYENKO: WHO
9. Christian Science Monitor: Lawrence Uzzell, Repressive Religion
Law Has Russian Faithful on Edge.
10. AP: Eastern Europe Sees Economic Growth.
Chernomyrdin against Chubais becoming CEO of UES.]
Russia's Kiriyenko to step up approval campaign
By Oleg Shchedrov
MOSCOW, April 22 (Reuters) - Russia's prime minister-designate will step up
his campaign on Wednesday for parliamentary approval, pressing his foes in the
State Duma to decide whether to accept him or face fresh elections.
Sergei Kiriyenko, who faces a third and decisive confirmation vote in the
(lower house of parliament) on Friday, will meet members of the chamber's
second biggest party Our Home is Russia, led by former prime minister Viktor
He is also expected to appear in the Federation Council, the upper house
comprising influential regional bosses, in a bid for their moral support in
the stand-off with the Duma.
The Communist-dominated Duma has rejected Kiriyenko twice after President
Boris Yeltsin unexpectedly sacked Chernomyrdin's government on March 23 and
asked the 35-year-old former energy minister to form a new team.
If it rejects Kiriyenko again on Friday, Yeltsin will dissolve the Duma.
He will then be able to nominate a prime minister without the need for
Our Home is Russia was one of two parliamentary groups which backed Kiriyenko
in the previous vote last Friday and promised to support Yeltsin's nominee in
the decisive vote. Another party was the centrist group Russian Regions.
Its leaders have said they wanted more clarity about the line-up of
Kiriyenko's cabinet and his future plans.
Kiriyenko has said he was reluctant to disclose the cast of his team to
parliament before he was confirmed in office. He added he would not bargain
ministerial portfolios in exchange for support.
The key to Kiriyenko's approval lies with the Communists, their allied
and independents who have a majority in the Duma.
Communist leaders, who want a coalition government based on the balance of
forces in the Duma, initially vowed to reject Kiriyenko even at the expense of
But ahead of the third vote they find themselves under strong pressure from
their allies and their own backbenchers, reluctant to expose themselves to the
uncertainty of early elections.
A meeting of 36 left-wing groups, two of which form an alliance with the
Communists in the Duma, urged them on Tuesday to vote for Kiriyenko and head
off the dissolution of the chamber.
Communist Duma chairman Gennady Seleznyov, who will attend a meeting of his
party's leadership on Thursday called specifically to decide how to vote on
Kiriyenko, said he would defend this approach.
Despite the pressure, it was unclear whether Communist leaders would ease
their opposition to Kiriyenko.
``The chances are 50-50,'' Valentin Kuptsov, the party's number two, told NTV
In a clear sign of hesitation, Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov called on
Tuesday for last-minute talks with Yeltsin.
Interfax news agency quoted his letter to the Duma and the Federation Council
urging them to send delegates to Yeltsin to negotiate a compromise.
``The situation in the country is getting increasingly tense, there is no
constructive dialogue,'' Zyuganov's letter said. ``Only a coordinated effort
by parliament and the president can produce a peaceful solution to the
Yeltsin has twice met parliamentary leaders and held a round-table meeting of
key political forces to discuss the government crisis.
But he has rejected the Communists' initial demand to form a coalition
government and even a milder call to offer alternatives to Kiriyenko, who
could be more acceptable to the Duma.
April 22, 1998
What Side Would Win Snap Elections?
By David McHugh
New elections would give President Boris Yeltsin an even more
cantankerous State Duma than the one he's been wrangling with over his
nominee for prime minister, Sergei Kiriyenko.
His communist opponents would be back, perhaps with a few more radical
true believers in their number. And his pliable allies, Vladimir
Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, might no longer be
around to help him on crucial votes such as the budget.
But that's only if Yeltsin played by the rules. Some think the
president, notorious for his political gambles, would throw out the rule
book and tinker with the election laws to try to get a Duma more to his
Those are two scenarios under discussion as Russia contemplates the
outside chance that parliament will be dissolved, bringing new elections
and a summer of political uncertainty. Although most observers think the
dissolution threat will spur the Duma to approve Kiriyenko, all it would
take to send the deputies packing would be a "no" vote on Kiriyenko on
Deputy Speaker Vladimir Ryzhkov said Tuesday that "half the deputies are
already packing their suitcases in their official apartments and getting
ready for early elections," which would be held by mid-August.
Some used this past Easter weekend to return to their districts and
begin lining up support for re-election bids, said Ryzhkov, a member of
the Our Home Is Russia party who supports Kiriyenko.
Under the constitution, Yeltsin must dismiss the Duma and appoint a
prime minister immediately if it rejects his candidate a third time.
Kiriyenko, currently acting prime minister, could then head the
government as full-fledged prime minister through the elections. A new
Duma must be seated within four months of dismissal. If an election were
held under current law, most analysts think the Russian Communist Party,
or KPRF, would once again emerge as the top vote-getter, due to its
nationwide organization, name recognition and loyal base electorate. It
finished first in the 1995 elections with 22.7 percent of the vote and
has 134 seats in the 450-member Duma, dominating it along with two
smaller left groups, the Agrarians and People's Power.
The new Duma "might be even more radical and oppositionist than now,"
said Yury Korgunyuk, a political analyst at the Indem think tank.
"Without doubt, the Communists will get no fewer votes than they did the
last time, and possibly more."
Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, who has stood firm in his opposition to
Kiriyenko, has said he would not be afraid to face the voters again.
The chief change would be the possible disappearance of Vladimir
Zhirinovsky's nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia. The LDPR
might fall below the 5 percent threshold needed to share in the 250
seats distributed according to party-list vote.
That is where all 50 of the party's current seats come from, generated
by the popularity of their flamboyant leader. Zhirinovsky's standing in
the polls, however, has fallen into single digits since his stunning
victory in the 1993 elections, when the LDPR led all parties with 22.9
Although the LDPR styles itself an opposition group, it supports the
Kremlin on most important votes.
The LDPR's share, under the conventional wisdom, would fall partly to
the Honor and Motherland movement headed by retired General Alexander
Lebed. Some LDPR seats might fall to more radical communist splinter
groups, who might also nibble away a few of the KPRF's seats. One such
group, Viktor Anpilov's Working Russia, just missed in 1995 with 4.6
After this, things get less certain. The Our Home Is Russia party,
another one of Yeltsin's supporters in the parliament, is searching for
an identity since its head, former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin,
was fired by Yeltsin on March 23.
The fourth major faction, the liberal Yabloko movement of Grigory
Yavlinsky, might gain or lose a few seats, but is considered likely to
make the 5 percent barrier.
With the LDPR possibly gone, and Our Home struggling, Yeltsin might find
fewer dependable supporters. And the new Duma might elect a speaker less
amenable to compromise than Communist Gennady Seleznyov, who has led the
Duma Communists into limited cooperation with the Kremlin.
"The main thing is, the Duma gets less manageable if their is no LDPR,
if it is replaced by someone like the faction of Lebed and more radical
communists," said Sergei Markov, head of the Institute of Political
Studies. "Yeltsin cannot control them."
Painful as elections might be for Yeltsin, they would hurt the
rank-and-file deputies just as hard. Few could feel certain of
re-election, and they would risk losing their Moscow apartments and
other perks such as free travel.
Kiriyenko's tenure as premier might not outlast elections. Yeltsin would
have to resubmit a candidate to the new Duma -- this time without the
big stick of dissolution at his disposal, since the constitution forbids
dismissal for a year after elections. If Kiriyenko were turned down,
Yeltsin could only submit a new name, said Leonid Lazaryev, head of the
constitutional law department at the Constitutional Court.
But Yeltsin might try to tilt things in his favor by eliminating
party-list voting. That is what Sergei Shakhrai, Yeltsin's
representative to the Constitutional Court, last weak threatened Yeltsin
Shakrai said the election might be held sans party lists, with
candidates running only in electoral districts. Although the effect of
such a move is uncertain, Duma members and experts say it probably would
benefit regional governors and large industrial enterprises, who have
the money and clout to influence local elections. The Kremlin apparently
believes it would benefit, because it has lobbied for the change.
The legal basis might be shaky, however. The parliament is considering
changing the electoral system but hasn't acted, and the constitution
says that presidential orders, or ***ukazy***, cannot contravene federal
laws. Some analysts and deputies think Shakhrai's remarks were a bluff
intended to push deputies to confirm Kiriyenko.
Nonetheless, says Vyacheslav Nikonov, head of the Fond Politika think
tank, "it is impossible to exclude a scenario in which, let's say, the
Duma is dissolved, and at the same moment the Constitutional Court rules
some part of the law on elections invalid and Yeltsin, using an ukaz,
changes the law."
Markov thinks that's unlikely "because it would be a state coup. How can
you dismiss parliament and then hold elections contrary to law?"
"It's hard to predict" what Yeltsin will do, said Korgunyuk. "This
concern is in any case being used as one of the arguments to convince
the deputies to vote for Kiriyenko. In any case they know Yeltsin well
and that once he embarks on confrontation, he does it decisively."
Date: Wed, 22 Apr 1998 00:42:59 -0800
From: STEPHAN SOLZHEN-LEXINGTON <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: 2159-MacKenzie/Culture of Disoberdience
A miniscule comment on:
Tuesday, April 21, 1998
CONFESSIONS OF A RUSSOPHILE: A Culture of Disobedience
By Jean MacKenzie
"Someone, I think it was Alexander Herzen, said that the severity of
Russia's laws was compensated for by the fact that absolutely no one
pays any attention to them."
It was, in fact, the satirist Saltykov-Schedrin, and the spirit of the
utternace might better be phrased as:
"The severity of Russia's laws is matched only by the consistency with which
they are ignored."
Russia: Constitutional Court Chairman Displays Legal Resolve
By John Helmer
Moscow, 21 April 1998 (RFE/RL) -- The chairman of Russia's Constitutional
Court, Marat Baglai, called his first press conference in almost a year to
dismiss the constitutional claims of Prime Minister-designate Prime Minister
Sergei Kiriyenko and the president's representative at the court, Sergei
Although not widely noticed, the action by the court chairman is
unprecedented. Court officials tell RFE/RL this was Court Chairman Baglai's
first press conference this year. No comparable rebuke to ranking government
officials has been issued since Valery Zorkin, the first chairman of the
Constitutional Court, publicly told President Boris Yeltsin his order
disbanding the Supreme Soviet in 1993 was illegal.
Baglai, who is the third chairman in the court's six-year history,
dismissed Kiriyenko's claim that, during Yeltsin's weekend visit to Japan,
he (Kiriyenko) would take over presidential duties. According to Baglai last
Thursday, "an unconfirmed chairman of the government cannot, of course,
carry out the duties of the president." Kremlin aides subsequently claimed
Yeltsin would not delegate any of his powers while traveling.
Baglai's repudiation of Shakhrai was even more sweeping. The day before,
Shakhrai had called his own press conference to claim that if the Duma votes
Kiriyenko down three times and is dissolved, the new election might be
postponed until September 27 or October 11. In the six-month interval,
Shakhrai hinted, Yeltsin might rule by decree as he had done in 1993.
"It would be inhuman," Shakhrai announced, "to fix the date of the
elections in July, since in summer the people must have an opportunity to
forget about politics." Shakhrai also claimed that the new Duma elections
might be conducted according to majority-vote rules that have yet to be
enacted, but, which might be ordered by a Yeltsin decree.
Baglai reacted strongly. He made clear that the Constitution's article
(Art.109.2), mandating an election within three months of dissolution,
cannot be violated by the Kremlin. He rejected Shakhrai's election
postponement, and warned the Kremlin against threats to impose new
vote-counting rules by a Yeltsin decree. "A presidential decree abrogating
the law is impossible in our country," Baglai said.
Shakhrai, a lawyer by profession, is the last surviving office-holder
among Yeltsin's advisors who, in December 1991, helped him break up the
Soviet Union, along with the leaders of Belarus and Ukraine. He is also the
last of Yeltsin's advisors from the disbanding of the 1993 Supreme Soviet to
remain on the Kremlin staff.
According to Shakhrai himself, only half his time is spent on
Constitutional Court and legal matters. The other half, he said recently, is
spent on political advice to Yeltsin. When asked how often he speaks or
meets Yeltsin, Shakhrai replied: "Every day."
Shakhrai's tactics last week contrast with his reticence a few days
earlier, to answer a question about the legality of a third presidential
term for Yeltsin. Shakhrai's aide, Svetlana Popova, tells RFE/RL Shakhrai
did not feel he had a right to express an opinion "before the decision of
the Constitutional Court."
Suggesting behind-the-scenes pressure on Constitutional Court judges to
rule Yeltsin's way on a third term, Baglai said "there is no constitutional
legal crisis in the country."
Recently, after the Court ruled that the president had no legal right to
refuse to sign legislation on returning wartime art trophies -- after
parliament overrode his veto -- Yeltsin referred to the ruling as "a slap in
John Helmer is a Moscow-based journalist, who routinely contributes to
Date: Tue, 21 Apr 1998
From: Geoffrey York <firstname.lastname@example.org>
By Geoffrey York
The Globe & Mail (Canada)
April 21, 1998
MOSCOW -- International writers groups are rallying to the defence of a
young Moscow poet who has endured a three-year legal nightmare of jails,
courts and psychiatric institutions for allegedly selling $40 worth of
The poet, 25-year-old Alina Vitukhnovskaya, is confined to a metal cage
in a Moscow courtroom as her trial continues this week. Police guards
with truncheons are watching her every move, and she is escorted back to
a women’s prison every night.
Since her arrest by the former KGB in October 1994 for allegedly
selling a tiny quantity of LSD, she has spent 18 months in jail and
three months in psychiatric institutions. More than three and a half
years after her arrest, her trial resumed again last week.
Ms. Vitukhnovskaya, who has published five books of poetry, was
researching newspaper articles on drug use by the children of Moscow’s
political and business elite at the time of her arrest.
Her supporters believe that the Federal Security Service (FSB), the
domestic successor agency to the Soviet KGB, has targeted her for
persecution because she refused to become an informant and would not
reveal her sources.
After her arrest, Ms. Vitukhnovskaya spent a year in Moscow’s notorious
Butyrka prison, a pre-trial detention centre that has been widely
condemned for overcrowding and disease.
She was eventually released, but the charges were not dropped. When she
appeared voluntarily at a court proceeding last October to plead
innocent, she was unexpectedly taken back into police custody.
In another bizarre twist in January, she was sent to a psychiatric
institute for tests of her sanity. She was released in March when the
tests found her normal. It was the second time she had been subjected to
~Every day there’s a new surprise,” said Alexander Tkachenko, general
secretary of the Russian branch of PEN, the international writers group.
~We don’t know what surprise will be next. They stopped the case, then
they sent her to a psychiatric institute. It’s incredible.”
If the FSB had not applied pressure on the courts, she would have been
acquitted years ago, Mr. Tkachenko said in an interview. ~The case was
fabricated. It’s very dangerous for freedom of speech.”
Letters of support for Ms. Vitukhnovskaya have been written by PEN
branches in Germany, France, Sweden, Switzerland, the United States and
other countries. Several of Russia’s most respected writers have also
voiced their support for her.
"We are frightened by the events happening with Alina Vitukhnovskaya,”
the Russian writers said in a recent letter to President Boris Yeltsin.
~Terrible force is being used against her. This force is still beyond
the law and is uncontrolled by public opinion.”
The FSB had asked for delays in the trial on the grounds that it needed
to gather more evidence. But when the trial resumed last week, a senior
FSB witness said he had forgotten many details of the case. ~So many
years have passed,” Lieutenant-Colonel Dmitri Voronkov told the trial.
~It’s hard to remember.”
The arrest of Ms. Vitukhnovskaya in 1994 was clearly a major FSB
operation. About a dozen FSB officers in three cars were involved in the
arrest, her father said.
But in his testimony last week, Lt.-Col. Voronkov refused to reveal how
many FSB officers were involved in the arrest. He said it was ~a state
His testimony was riddled with contradictions. He denied that he had
interrogated Ms. Vitukhnovskaya, but he was shown an interrogation
report with his signature. He said he had forgotten it.
The trial also heard testimony from Alexander Kostenko, who was
recruited from the street in 1994 to serve as an official witness when
the police searched the apartment of two men who allegedly bought drugs
from Ms. Vitukhnovskaya. Now in custody at Butyrka prison on an
unrelated burglary charge and suffering from tuberculosis, Mr. Kostenko
criticized the charges against the poet. ~It’s arbitrariness,” he told
the court. ~Alina is not guilty.”
In earlier stages of the trial, the two men who allegedly purchased
drugs from Ms. Vitukhnovskaya recanted their previous statements and
said the FSB had forced them to implicate her. They also said they had
never met her before, except for one meeting that had been arranged by
an unidentified telephone caller.
Under rules established in the Soviet era, the trial is being
supervised by a judge and two civilian assistants. One of the
assistants, an elderly war veteran, appeared to fall asleep at several
points in the proceedings last week.
Ms. Vitukhnovskaya appeared in good spirits when the trial resumed, but
by the second day she was pale and exhausted. She told the court she was
not brought back to her prison cell until 2:30 a.m. and was roused again
at 4:30 a.m. for the journey back to the courtroom. Depriving her of
food and sleep was cruel and inhumane, and it amounted to torture, her
lawyers told the court.
The judge, Dmitri Luchkin, adjourned the case for a day because he said
he was afraid that Ms. Vitukhnovskaya would faint from exhaustion.
Her father, Alexander Vitukhnovsky, said the case shows that the FSB is
still behaving like the KGB in the Soviet era. ~Nothing has changed,” he
said in an interview. ~Their methods are the same. Nobody can control
In several other recent cases, the FSB has arrested and jailed Russians
for what appeared to be political reasons. An environmentalist and
former naval officer, Alexander Nikitin, was arrested and imprisoned for
10 months on treason charges after he helped research a report on the
mishandling of nuclear waste in the Russian military.
Another naval officer, Captain Grigory Pasko, was arrested last
November and charged with spying for Japan. His lawyers say that Capt.
Pasko, who edits a newspaper for Russia’s Pacific naval fleet, was
arrested in revenge for his revelations about the fleet’s environmental
wrongdoing. In one incident, he filmed a Russian tanker dumping nuclear
waste at sea.
>From RIA Novosti
April 21, 1998
WHO WILL BECOME RUSSIA'S NEXT PRIME MINISTER?
By Alexander BATYGIN
There is every reason to think that the Russian government
will at long last obtain its prime minister this Friday. If the
State Duma makes the extreme move and turns down the candidacy
of Sergei Kiriyenko for the third time, President Boris Yeltsin
of the Russian Federation will all the same appoint the prime
minister, dissolve the State Duma and call early parliamentary
elections in line with the Constitution.
Judging by the atmosphere inside the State Duma (and
outside it) after the second vote, common sense and the
self-preservation instinct are now prevailing.
The dissolution of the State Duma is not the best way to
rectify the current situation.
Various statistics (as regards the results of the April 17
vote) serve to confirm the positive outcome of the April 24
Communists Yuri Maslyukov and Oleg Shenkarev have voiced
their special opinion on this score, thus highlighting the
victory of common sense over partisan dictate. In spite of a
resolution of the plenary meeting of the CPRF (Communist Party
of the Russian Federation) Central Committee that has made it
incumbent upon the State Duma's Communist faction not to
support Kiriyenko's candidacy, both men have resolutely voted
in favor of the presidential nominee.
Communist boss Gennadi Zyuganov has paid attention to such
alarming circumstances, deciding to convene an extraordinary
CPRF Central-Committee plenum already this Thursday and to
define the party's position concerning the Friday vote.
Much depends on the final Communist stand. The Communist
faction, as well as the entire CPRF, remain divided at this
stage. The subsequent vote by the State Duma's Communist
faction will largely determine the CPRF's long-term destiny.
The break-down of the April 17 vote (per each faction and
deputy group) follows below.
CPRF (133 deputies)
In favor of Kiriyenko -- 2
Against Kiriyenko -- 121
Our Home Is Russia (67 deputies) faction
In favor of Kiriyenko -- 52
Against Kiriyenko -- 0
LDPR (Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia) faction
In favor of Kiriyenko -- 0
Against Kiriyenko -- 49
In favor of Kiriyenko -- 0
Against Kiriyenko -- 34
In favor of Kiriyenko -- 5
Against Kiriyenko -- 33
In favor of Kiriyenko -- 34
Against Kiriyenko -- 0
In favor of Kiriyenko -- 4
Against Kiriyenko -- 29
In favor of Kiriyenko -- 18
Against Kiriyenko -- 5
State-Duma Speaker Gennadi Seleznev didn't take part in
There is the entire State Duma behind me; and I can't burn
the bridges and send it down into the abyss, Seleznev stressed,
while explaining his decision.
Quite possibly, our readers will be interested to learn
about the attitude of various prominent State-Duma members
toward the prospective prime minister.
Kiriyenko was supported by the following deputies --
Stanislav Govorukhin, Joseph Kobzon, Galina Starovoitova, Ella
Pamfilova and Boris Gromov -- during the second, April 17,
vote. Alexander Korzhakov and Sergei Baburin have voted against
Russia will learn the name of its next prime minister 72
hours later. The approval of his candidacy is linked with
continued consultations between the Kremlin and the Duma,
between Kiriyenko (who was nominated by the President) and Duma
According to Alexander Shokhin in charge of the NDR (Our
Home is Russia) faction, this political knot should be untied
at the political-compromise level. In his opinion, various
personnel compositions inside the cabinet, as well as the
consideration of interests of various factions or deputy groups
(connected with the modification of the overall line), can
become such political compromises.
At any rate, the President has no other candidacy. The
Duma has no other deputies. And we don't have any other Russia.
International Herald Tribune,
April 22, 1998
[for personal use only]
Disarray in Today's Smaller Russia
By William Pfaff Los Angeles Times Syndicate. and International Herald
PARIS - The knockabout in Moscow between Boris Yeltsin and the Duma over
the president's nomination of Sergei Kiriyenko as prime minister
reflects an institutional disorder far from solution.
The Duma is set up in a way that has given it an investment in
irresponsibility. Irresponsible opposition is virtually the only power
available to it. The Duma has deployed this power against Mr.
Kiriyenko's nomination despite Mr. Yeltsin's threat to dissolve
Parliament and call new elections, and his offers of apartments and
dachas to complaisant deputies.
The president has more power than is good for him or for the state,
functioning as a latter-day czar. Behind his visible conflict with the
Duma is the half-visible struggle among that handful of men who dominate
the privatized economy, each with his favored politicians, and each with
his own publishing or media group.
Even Scientology now is alleged to be part of the mixture, since not
only is Mr. Kiriyenko accused of being linked to the sect - which he
flatly denies - but credible West European reports claim that the
Scientologists are, amidst the general Russian economic disorder and
moral disarray, actively recruiting people in the high-technology and
military-industrial sectors. If true, that gives one pause.
Something else that has yet really to influence how the Russians
perceive their present situation is the great geographic and demographic
change the country has undergone since 1989. The scale of the change is
ill-appreciated in the West as well, which is inclined to take it for
granted that because Russia is the former Soviet Union it is still the
It is not. It may still be nearly twice the size of the United States,
but it is a quarter smaller than the Soviet Union. Of its present
territorial extent (some 17 million square kilometers, or 6.6 million
square miles), less than 10 percent is arable.
It possesses less than 60 percent of the population of the Soviet Union.
The United States' population of 264 million people is nearly 80 percent
larger than the 148 million population of today's Russia.
There actually is an advantage for the Russians in this demographic
change. In the Soviet Union only 55 percent of the people were ethnic
Russians. In today's Russia that figure is 81.5 percent, with less than
20 percent of the population belonging to 14 acknowledged minority
nationalities. It has not been so homogeneous a country since the 18th
The present borders of Russia are by no means forever fixed, but while
Belarus and even Ukraine, both Slavic countries, might in the future
move back toward a
closer link to Russia, most of the other new nations created out of the
old Soviet Union are likely to want to maintain national independence.
An eventual linkage of many or most of them with Russia on lines
something like those of the earlier European Community is imaginable.
But that is a prospect very distant from the vague Commonwealth of
Independent States that now exists. The idea of an ambitious Russian
drive to recover the territories of the old Soviet and Russian empires
is, today, futurological fantasy, or a worst-case war game exercise.
A multinational empire incorporating backward populations has, in any
case, more disadvantages than advantages, even when natural resources
are considered. Russia is rich in resources. Its problem is that, in the
guise of privatization, the population has been swindled of its national
resources and industry by the people who are now manipulating its
Russians are unused to thinking of theirs as a country like other
countries. They still possess the crucial military assets of superpower
rank as well as the diplomatic ambition, as they demonstrated in the
Iraq affair this year.
Their notion of a ''European troika'' composed of Russia, Germany and
France - which seems to have Washington on edge - is a constructive move
in this context, since it reinvolves Russia with the West at a moment
when Washington's tutelage of the new Russia has become irksome and NATO
expansion positively annoying.
The ''summit'' meeting of this troika, held last month in Moscow, with
Chancellor Helmut Kohl and President Jacques Chirac in attendance,
accomplished very little in practical terms and was overshadowed by Mr.
Yeltsin's dramatic, and as yet unachieved, remake of his government. But
there will be another ''European summit'' next year in France.
The French naturally welcome any counterweight to the United States in
world affairs, and while the present German government fears fraying its
relations with the United States, there soon will be German elections
and quite possibly a new government with a Social Democrat as
There will also soon be a sharply changed European Union, when the
single European currency comes into existence in January.
A formal Russian-German-French structure of consultation, which is all
that it is (thus far), suits certain of the interests of all three
countries. It particularly serves the Russian interest in being taken
seriously again. It binds Russia to Western Europe at a moment when NATO
expansion pushes it away from the West. So long as all remains
unresolved in Moscow, this has to be a good thing.
>From RIA Novosti
April 21, 1998
EARLY CLAIMS TO KIRIYENKO: WHO WANTS WHAT?
By Alexander PRIVALOV
Kiriyenko has stated that he perfectly knows what words he
had to pronounce to get Duma's support from the second attempt.
By analyzing various interviews of the candidate for
premiership one can easily restore the incantation which he
never voiced: he had to state publicly that Chubais will not
become chairman of the board of the Integrated Energy Systems
and that Nemtsov will not supervise Gazprom, the oil industry
This is certainly not a matter of the MPs' personal
dislike of the "young reformers". Today's most powerful
lobbyists strongly do not like what Chubais and Nemtsov intend
to do with the natural monopolies or, rather, what they are not
going to do. To be more precise, they do not plan to allow the
oligarchs, including the group of Berezovsky, to control the
financial flows of the biggest structures in the Russian
The importance of this question cannot be overestimated.
After all, those who control the Big-3 (gas, electric power and
railways), control the entire economy of Russia. Without going
into any deep analysis, I can state one thing: practically
everyone: both the enterprises and the regions, owe huge sums
of money to this Big-3. So the master of the Big-3 (which role
has not yet been assumed but is claimed by the state) can at
wish swallow practically any enterprise or company for these
debts and, if necessary, secure any support from any region.
This is precisely why Kiriyenko abstains from such an
incantation. He perfectly realizes that either the new
government takes resolute steps to resolve the key problems of
the economy (all of which: from the nonpayments to the
prohibitively high transport and energy tariffs, are directly
associated with natural monopolies), or it continues to patch
up the holes and hands over the real levers of power to one
But then for the same reason the pressure on Kiriyenko, or
if one calls things by their proper name, on the president, who
is banking on his young protege, is so unprecedentedly strong.
Boris Berezovsky has to go for the "all or nothing" variant.
Either he succeeds in bringing to the Big-3 acceptable
candidates, and then at least for several years he will be
immune to any competition and will genuinely be able to exert
decisive pressure on the 1999 and 2000 elections; or, if he
fails, his main capital: the reputation of an unstoppable
lobbyist, will be tarnished beyond repair.
Berezovsky has already acted openly against Yeltsin, for
there is no other word to describe the campaign by Dorenko (one
of the popular TV political commentators) for the victory of
general Lebed in Krasnoyarsk. Since this is an "all or nothing"
game, all this may go further: by the recent hunt for Chubais's
head everyone remembers the pitch which the attacks by the
Berezovsky-controlled mass media can reach. In any case, the
MPs have reserved one week for such an attack with their Friday
Christian Science Monitor
APRIL 22, 1998
[for personal use only]
Repressive Religion Law Has Russian Faithful on Edge
Lawrence A. Uzzell
With the collapse of Communist rule in Russia, some thought the days
were gone when officials could interrogate private citizens about their
Residents of Tuim in southwestern Siberia know better. To be a Lutheran
there means to risk having the Federal Security Bureau (FSB) - the
renamed but not reformed KGB - knock on your door and pressure you to
change your mind.
In late 1996 an FSB officer visited the Rev. Pavel Zayakin, pastor of
Tuim's two-year-old Lutheran missionary parish, and invited him to
become an informer on his own congregation. Mr. Zayakin refused, and
ever since he and his parish have been in trouble.
Their chief enemy, the provincial government's official adviser for
church-state relations, has personally told the pastor that he is
determined to close the parish and has redoubled his efforts since
enactment of a repressive national law on religion last September.
Zayakin and his small congregation have won the first two rounds in a
court battle, but are still being harassed by local prosecutors.
Six months after Russia's new law formally took effect, the worst fears
of its opponents have not been realized. The country has not yet seen a
sharp turn toward systematic, nationwide persecution, but it clearly has
less religious freedom today than in September.
The overall pattern is best summarized as a slight acceleration in a
negative trend that began about four years ago, long before the law was
passed. More and more Protestant congregations are finding themselves
abruptly, arbitrarily barred from renting rooms in recreation halls and
other state-owned buildings, which in many towns are the only places
suitable for any kind of public meeting. But if the new law were being
literally enforced as written, the situation would be far more
repressive. As my Russian friends are fond of saying, "The salvation of
Russia is the poor enforcement of bad laws."
The law is a sword of Damocles hanging over Russia's religious
minorities. It could drop tomorrow, a year from now, or never. One
reason it has not dropped yet is that the Ministry of Justice waited
until mid-March to issue the formal regulations needed to implement the
law's system for registering churches under three newly created
categories, the lowest two of which are deprived of such basic freedoms
as the right to distribute religious literature. Compared with what
Russian government spokesmen have been telling western diplomats and
journalists, these regulations are a serious disappointment. For
example, they fail to codify the spokesmen's repeated informal
assertions that churches that existed underground 15 years ago will have
the same rights as those that had official registration under the
unreformed, pre-Gorbachev Soviet state. The regulations give officials
all the tools needed to launch a new wave of repression in the future.
Nikolai Volkov, the provincial bureaucrat now hounding the Lutherans,
has rich experience in such matters. Like many of his colleagues in
other provinces, he is a veteran of the Soviet-era Council for Religious
Affairs which specialized in suppressing religious life.
When asked in a January radio interview where the "nontraditional
religions" allegedly now threatening Russia had come from, he replied
"America - a sewage ditch - when it was created all sorts of rabble
thronged there, and Protestantism and all sorts of nontraditional
religions arose there. These things came here from there."
Mr. Volkov studied history at the prestigious Tomsk University and
surely knows that Protestantism originated in Europe, not America.
But he also knows that whipping up anti-American sentiment is more
popular today than explicitly invoking the Communist ideology that he
loyally served a decade ago.
Contrary to his rhetoric, one of his reasons for targeting the Lutheran
parish is precisely that it is too Russian.
When he and Zayakin first met two years ago, he encouraged the pastor to
work only among citizens of German descent. Instead, the missionary -
himself an ethnic Russian - has built a parish which is mostly Slavic,
reflecting the ethnic makeup of the province as a whole.
Such competition to the dominant Orthodox Church is just what Volkov
wants to suppress. Using the broad powers granted by the new law, he and
his like-minded colleagues are in effect trying to repeal the
religious-freedom provisions of Russia's 1993 Constitution. They may
•Lawrence A. Uzzell is Moscow representative of the Keston Institute, a
research center based in Oxford, England, which studies religious life
in Russia and Eastern Europe.
Eastern Europe Sees Economic Growth
April 21, 1998
By ALEXANDER G. HIGGINS
GENEVA (AP) - The apparent halt in Russia's economic slide helped former
Soviet bloc countries record their first overall year of growth since the end
of communism, the United Nations said Wednesday.
But prospects for the region's continued growth, like those for Western
and North America, are uncertain because of the Asian financial crisis, said
an annual U.N. survey.
``The key thing with the Asian crisis is ... how policy-makers react,'' said
Paul Rayment, head of economic analysis at the U.N. Economic Commission for
``If growth falters in the United States and in Europe, will policy change to
increase domestic demand in those areas to accommodate the increase in net
exports?'' Rayment said. ``We think it is unlikely.''
Adding to the complications are new uncertainties about the Japanese economy,
``Since we've written this survey, the concern over Asia has increased
of what is happening in Japan,'' he said. Government stimulus packages are
expected to fall short of what international economists recommend to jump-
start the economy.
The commission's 214-page study forecasts continued strong domestic demand in
the United States, but says that will likely mean more U.S. buying of cheaper
imports from Asia. At the same time, Asians will buy fewer American-made
products, leading to an overall increase in exports.
The Economic Survey of Europe, which also includes North America, said U.S.
economic growth is expected to slow to about 2.5 percent this year, from 3.8
percent in 1997.
Western Europe's economy is likely to continue growing at around 2.7 percent,
but the focus on implementing the euro, the single currency, next year will
probably lead to tight fiscal policies.
European policy-makers will be concerned to maintain ``very low rates of
inflation'' and will be less likely to make the policy changes that could help
Asia out of crisis, the study predicted.
The U.N. survey sees gradual improvements in France, Germany and Italy and
slower growth in Britain and smaller Western European countries.
Overall, Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics reported an average
growth rate of 1.7 percent last year, the first time since 1989 the figure was
positive, said the report.
Russia turned in only a ``marginal'' increase of 0.4 percent in 1997, but
followed seven successive years of falling output, it said.
Rayment said among the positive developments in Russia were the decline
inflation rate and increased investment in industry.
The report cautiously predicted continued growth for Russia this year, but
conceded it is very difficult to project a precise rate.
``There's a lot of uncertainty about Russia,'' said Rayment. ``Basically, we
don't know very much.''
Furthermore, he said, ``We don't really trust any short-term forecasting
for Russia. They just don't work.''
The economy, he said, could hold steady or expand as much as 2.5 percent this
Chernomyrdin against Chubais becoming CEO of UES
MOSCOW, April 21 (Reuters) - Former prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said on
Tuesday he was not in favour of Anatoly Chubais, the architect of Russia's
privatisation programme, becoming a top executive at a national power giant.
Chernomyrdin, who controls the second biggest faction in the lower house of
parliament, said Chubais's involvement in Russia's political struggle made him
unacceptable at the helm of Unified Energy System (UES).
``Chubais is a big name and he's a politician, and it would be wrong today to
bring confrontation to a company like UES,'' he told reporters. ``I'm against
bringing confrontation to UES.''
The issue has become a factor in bargaining ahead of Friday's confirmation
vote in the State Duma for Sergei Kiriyenko, President Boris Yeltsin's
premier-designate. The house must either approve him or face dissolution.
Chubais, who was a first deputy premier in Chernomyrdin's cabinet
Yeltsin last month, is a hate figure to the Communist-led left-wing bloc, the
dominating force in the Duma. Communist support is vital for his confirmation.
But Kiriyenko also needs the 65 votes of Chernomyrdin's Our Home is Russia
party traditionally loyal to the Kremlin.
UES is currently without a chief executive after the resignation of Boris
Brevnov this month following a power struggle.
The new chief executive is due to be named at a board meeting early next week
-- after the parliamentary confirmation vote -- at which the government, as
UES's majority shareholder, will have the final say.
Many foreign investors have focused on Chubais as a guarantor that UES
run more and more along market principles, but others concede that he could
make UES the subject of his many enemies' attentions.
Kiriyenko has said the only criterion for the appointment will be
Interfax news agency quoted Chernomyrdin as saying that Chubais, already on
the UES board, had spoken to him about taking up a top executive post at UES.
``Then I told him, 'the job isn't for you...you won't manage