This Date's Issues: 2171 •
Johnson's Russia List
10 May 1998
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Reuters: Brian Killen, Russia marks war victory with Red
2. RIA Novosti: MILITARY PARADE TO MARK 53RD ANNIVERSARY OF
VICTORY IN GREAT PATRIOTIC WAR TAKES PLACE IN RED SQUARE IN MOSCOW.
3. AP: Mitchell Landsberg, Yeltsin May Skip Czar's Funeral.
4. Chicago Tribune editorial: NOW YELTSIN MUST TAKE ON THE
5. Business Week: U.S.-RUSSIAN RELATIONS ARE HEADED FOR SIBERIA.
6. RIA Novosti: IN THE OPINION OF ACADEMICIAN DMITRY LVOV, ANNUAL
GROWTH OF 5-6 PER CENT IS NEEDED FOR RUSSIAN ECONOMY TO SURVIVE.
7. RIA Novosti: IF BELIEVING THE PUBLICATION IN WASHINGTON TIMES,
US GOVERNMENT HAS POOR INTELLIGENCE SERVICE, SAYS HEAD OF RUSSIAN
ATOMIC ENERGY MINISTRY YEVGENY ADAMOV.
8. Moscow Times: Leonid Bershidsky, MEDIA WATCH: Court Makes Sense
9. Los Angeles Times: RIchard Paddock, Stolen Cars Cost Russian
Owners Their Lives.
10. RIA Novosti: LEFT OPPOSITION HELD A V-DAY 'DOWN-WITH-THE-REGIME'
11. Journal of Commerce: John Helmer, Name change upends Russian
12. Sydney Morning Herald: Neela Banerjee, Hitler's skinhead fans
on a racist rampage.
13. Business Week: A BOOST FOR BEREZOVSKY?]
Russia marks war victory with Red Square parade
By Brian Killen
MOSCOW, May 9 (Reuters) - Russia marked the 53rd anniversary of the end of
World War Two in Europe with a military parade across Red Square on Saturday
and a tribute by President Boris Yeltsin to those who put their lives ``on the
altar of victory.''
About 5,000 military cadets marched beneath the walls of the Kremlin, reviewed
by Supreme Commander Yeltsin and a host of top military officers. Thousands of
war veterans, many with rows of medals pinned to their jackets, watched the
``Today we bow our heads before you and the tens of millions of people of
different nationalities who put their lives on the altar of victory,'' Yeltsin
said in a brief speech before the march-past.
Looking fit and relaxed, he touched on the problems facing Russia's armed
forces, in which prestige and public image has suffered since the collapse of
the Soviet Union and the humiliating 1994-96 defeat in the breakaway Chechnya
``Our army is going through difficult times,'' he said. ``But we know for sure
that people will always join its ranks, so that there is no threat to a calm
and peaceful life.''
The parade gave the Russian military a rare moment of invigoration at a time
when poor funding and low morale make the nuclear-equipped force a shadow of
its former glory. Young conscripts complain of bullying and draft-dodging is
The Kremlin is also faced with the prospect of the West's NATO military
alliance expanding eastwards into former Soviet bloc countries of central
Europe, a move which Moscow sees as threatening its security.
``Russia is no threat to anyone and our priorities are unchanged,'' Yeltsin
said. ``They are the integrity of the country, international cooperation,
strengthening the security of Europe and the whole world.''
The 67-year-old president described Victory Day, marking the anniversary of
the surrender of Nazi Germany, as a sacred holiday. ``It showed that there is
no force which can break our will, there is no force which can make Russia
But Yeltsin said on Friday that painful reforms were needed if the armed
forces were to be able to repel any future aggressor. He repeated his demand
for sharp cuts in manpower.
A decade after the end of the Cold War, Russia is still struggling to slim
down and modernise its vast military machine and to bring its armed forces
into line with its budget.
Marshal Igor Sergeyev, the defence minister who stood with Yeltsin at the
parade, admitted last month that had there been a war last year, Russia would
just not have been ready.
Yeltsin was quoted by news agencies on Friday telling senior officers such a
possibility could not be ruled out.
Ceremonies took place across the country on Saturday to celebrate the victory
over fascism and to remember the 27 million Soviet war dead. Elsewhere in
Moscow, thousands of communist supporters and veterans with red flags marched
through the city, asserting their opposition to Yeltsin.
Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov was on Red Square for the official
celebration. ``Today, for the foes of our motherland, it is not so much a
celebration of Victory Day as of the collapse of our motherland,'' he told
In the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, tough-talking reserve general and would-
be Kremlin leader Alexander Lebed was prevented by participants in an
authorised rally from laying a wreath at the eternal flame, Itar-Tass news
Lebed faces the Kremlin-backed incumbent Valery Zubov in a run-off election on
May 17 for the governorship of Krasnoyarsk Territory, a vast, mineral-rich
region of Siberia that he hopes will be his launch-pad for the Russian
presidency in 2000.
MILITARY PARADE TO MARK 53RD ANNIVERSARY OF VICTORY IN
GREAT PATRIOTIC WAR TAKES PLACE IN RED SQUARE IN MOSCOW
MOSCOW, MAY 9 /RIA NOVOSTI'S CORRESPONDENT ALEXANDER
KONOVALOV/ - A military parade has taken place in Red Square
today to mark the 53rd anniversary of the victory in the Great
Patriotic War of 1941-1945 in compliance with the decree by the
President of Russia. The parade was led by commander of the
Moscow Military District, colonel-general Leonty Kuznetsov who
reported to the defence minister of Russia, marshal Igor
Sergeyev. Before the beginning of the parade, the Victory Banner
was brought into Red Square.
The parade began with the report by general Kuznetsov to
marshal Sergeyev, after which the servicemen of the Russian
Armed Forces, war veterans living in the country and abroad and
Russian citizens were addressed by Commander-in-Chief of the
Russian Armed Forces, President Boris Yeltsin. In particular, he
said the following:
""Here, in Red Square, in November 1941, the long way to
victory began. Today, the grandsons and great grandsons of the
war participants, those who went to the cruelest war of the 20th
century, will now march through it. Those who knew that there is
no higher honour on earth than to defend the Motherland, those
who believed that we will win: today we bow our heads before you
and the tens of millions of people of different nationalities
who put their lives on the altar of victory.
Honour and glory! Eternal memory and gratitude of peoples.
Dear compatriots! Victory Day is a sacred holiday for us.
Years will pass but the lofty designation of the Russian soldier
to protect his home land will not change. Our army is going
through difficult times. But we know for sure that people will
always join its ranks, so that there is no threat to a calm and
peaceful life. True patriots and defenders of Motherland serve
Russia is no threat to anyone and our priorities are
unchanged. They are the integrity of the country, international
cooperation, strengthening the security of Europe and the whole
world. Our efforts are aimed at ensuring that the tragedy of the
world war never repeats itself and regional conflicts recede
into the past for ever. Back in 1945, the victory was secured by
the strength of the spirit and the unity of the entire people. I
believe that today they can aslo revive the great Russia. Glory
to the soldier-liberator! Glory to the great army-liberator!
Congratulations with Victory Day! Hurrah! completed his speech
Boris Yeltsin. After the speech by the Russian President, the
cadets of the military schools of the Moscow garrison marched
through Red Square. Like in the past year, military hardware did
not participate in the parade. The parade was reviewed by state
and political figures of Russia, top military officers, war and
labour veterans, employees of diplomatic representations of
foreign countries. Representatives of foreign and Russian mass
media were also present at the parade.
Yeltsin May Skip Czar's Funeral
May 8, 1998
By MITCHELL LANDSBERG
MOSCOW (AP) - When Russia's last czar is laid to rest in St. Petersburg this
summer, 80 years after his death, there probably will be two conspicuous
absences among the dignitaries attending the funeral.
Neither President Boris Yeltsin nor the head of the Russian Orthodox Church,
Patriarch Alexei II, is expected to attend the long-awaited ceremony, a
Kremlin official said Friday after a meeting between the two men.
Viktor Aksyuchits, quoted by the ITAR-Tass news agency, gave no reason why the
country's pre-eminent political and religious leaders would not attend the
funeral, a powerfully symbolic moment in the country's history.
But such a decision would underscore just how sensitive a topic Czar Nicholas
II's death and burial remain in Russia, where there is still no consensus
about whether the country will be burying a saint, a villain, or a weak man
who just happened to be one of history's biggest losers.
Aksyuchits, an aide to Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, told ITAR-Tass
that the July 17 funeral would be attended by representatives of the
government, the presidential administration and the Orthodox Church.
``However, in all probability, the president and the patriarch will not take
part,'' he said.
Nemtsov chairs the governmental commission on identification and burial of the
remains of the czar and his family. Aksyuchits described preliminary plans for
the ceremony, to take place at St. Petersburg's Peter and Paul Fortress, the
traditional resting place of Russia's czars.
Nicholas II was executed by a Bolshevik firing squad on July 17, 1918, along
with his family and servants in the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg.
Nine skeletons were exhumed outside the city in 1991. After extensive genetic
and other scientific tests conducted in Russia and abroad, a government
commission concluded earlier this year that the bones belonged to the royal
The conclusion has been criticized by some Russian monarchists and exiles who
are suspicious of the investigation. The Orthodox Church has also voiced
The identification of the bones is essential since the church is considering
Nicholas II and his family for sainthood. Although the church will participate
in the funeral, it considers the burial to be temporary.
That may explain why Alexei, the church patriarch, would stay away from the
funeral. Yeltsin might not want to put himself in a position of playing homage
to a man, and a system of government, still reviled by many Russians.
9 May 1998
NOW YELTSIN MUST TAKE ON THE DUMA
At first glance, Russia's new government appears firmly committed to
pursuing reform. But whether it knows how to follow up on that commitment and
create far-reaching economic progress will only be known in time. Previous
governments paid lip service to reform but lacked the political skills to
carry it off properly. Their policies benefited a relatively small number of
Russians, some of whom became breathtakingly rich, while the bulk of the
population felt itself abandoned to hard-pressed, insecure and increasingly
If Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko and his team of refreshingly young
economic planners are to serve the Russian people better, they must find a way
to work with a hostile parliament and construct a legal foundation for true
reform. The oppressive, unenforceable tax code must be rationalized. Farm land
must be turned over to private owners. Modern techniques of fighting crime
must be authorized. And the statute books must be purged of mindless Soviet-
era laws impeding the transformation to a market system.
Yes, hard-liners in the State Duma worked feverishly to block Kiriyenko's
confirmation and have vowed not to cooperate with him. But the prime minister
must not use the parliament's throwback behavior as an excuse to bunker down
and refuse to deal with it. As Yeltsin wisely noted when he dismissed the
previous cabinet, the Russian people must quickly see concrete evidence that
their country's economy is on the upswing if democratic, pro-reform forces are
not to be crushed in upcoming national elections.
While it's true the Duma has been a do-nothing body, obsessed with
maintaining the failed policies of the past, much of the blame for government
gridlock in Moscow falls on Yeltsin and his political allies. What with his
health problems and personal shortcomings, the president has never led an all-
out effort to wring essential changes from the Duma. In fact, former Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin often seemed more at home with parliamentary
obstructionists than with reformers in his own cabinet.
Only 20 months remain before new Duma elections, and half a year later will
come presidential balloting. Yeltsin has one last chance to force the Duma
into line, and his success at getting Kiriyenko approved suggests he could win
this battle as well. In turning tail and voting to confirm Kiriyenko after
twice loudly rejecting his nomination, Duma deputies exposed a dirty little
secret: they're willing to do almost anything to keep Yeltsin from dissolving
the parliament and putting their cushy jobs at risk.
Now the president must use the same threat of dissolution to line up
legislative support for sweeping tax, legal and land reform. But what if this
strategy fails and Yeltsin ends up calling early Duma elections? That would be
fine, too, since the campaign would inevitably become a national referendum on
these pivotal issues, which most Russians feel passionately about. Indeed, the
perception that self-styled democrats and reformers don't share that passion
has driven a deep wedge between them and the public.
While there is still time, Yeltsin and his new government must prove to the
Russian people that a democratic system can start solving their problems. If
not, the next elections may produce some distressing, even frightening,
May 18, 1998
[for personal use only]
U.S.-RUSSIAN RELATIONS ARE HEADED FOR SIBERIA
Russia is already seeing red over the U.S. Senate vote to expand NATO, and a
move afoot could get it even more steamed. Lawmakers are poised to approve a
seemingly veto-proof bill this month that would slap economic sanctions on
renegade Russian companies that sell advanced missile technology to Iran.
The double hit against Russia underscores the sour state of affairs
developing between Washington and Moscow. Capitol Hill hard-liners are
demanding Russian behavior modification after years of U.S. aid. And President
Clinton is focused on bettering ties with China, which offers greater
potential as a business partner. That has left Moscow feeling bruised and
neglected. Passage of the Iran Missile Proliferation Sanctions Act ``can
seriously damage Russian-American relations,'' warns Yevgeny Kozhokin, an
adviser to Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin.
More rebuffs are coming. Washington sources say the White House may soon
announce that Russian energy company Gazprom and France's Total have violated
the 1996 Iran-Libya Sanctions Act by joining a $2 billion energy venture in
Iran. Although the Administration is expected to waive sanctions on national
security grounds, the slap will still rankle Russians. Moscow is also a prime
target of proposed legislation sanctioning nations that tolerate religious
What really makes Russia mad is that the U.S. is cozying up to China,
though it, too, has a religious-rights problem and is suspected of supplying
Iran with missile and nuclear technology. Clinton will pay a state visit to
Beijing in late June, and the Administration is in intense talks over terms
for China's entry to the World Trade Organization.
Moscow hasn't done much to help mend fences, either. Russia plans to
deliver S-300 surface-to-air missiles to the Greek Cypriot government in late
summer. That won't make it any easier for the U.S. to mediate a 24-year-old
dispute between ethnic Greeks and Turks on the powder-keg island. And Russia's
parliament has yet to approve the START II nuclear-missile-control treaty
because of lingering concerns that the U.S. may go ahead with development of a
limited Star Wars defense. That, in turn, has halted U.S. Senate plans to
ratify other nuclear accords with Russia.
Senate passage of the sanctions bill, which sailed through the House last
fall, could do the most immediate harm. Joint space-agency projects--like the
U.S.-Russian space station--might be hurt if a Russian subcontractor is named
as a source of Iranian missile technology: The Central Aerohydrodynamic
Institute, which has been accused of supplying Iran, has worked on past NASA
The chill in relations could hit U.S. aerospace companies, too. Boeing Co.,
a joint-venture partner with Russia's RSC Energia, is building Sea Launch, an
effort to lob satellites from a floating ocean platform. Lockheed Martin Corp.
also has a satellite-launch venture with Energia, and another Russian company
is building engines for Lockheed's Atlas rockets. Lockheed says its partners
are clean. But if Washington isn't satisfied that the Kremlin is cracking down
on sales to Iran, it may scotch plans to lift restrictions on the number of
American satellites--now limited to 18 a year--that can be launched on Russian
On May 5, Yeltsin ordered tighter government controls on military-
technology exports. And he and Clinton will try to break the ice in
Birmingham, England, on the eve of the May 15-17 Group of Eight economic
summit. But an unconvinced Congress is likely to keep poking Moscow. Relations
with Russia will stay rocky this election year--and maybe a lot longer.
By Paul Magnusson and Stan Crock, with Carol Matlack in Moscow
EDITED BY OWEN ULLMANN
IN THE OPINION OF ACADEMICIAN DMITRY LVOV, ANNUAL GROWTH OF
5-6 PER CENT IS NEEDED FOR RUSSIAN ECONOMY TO SURVIVE
MOSCOW, MAY 9 /RIA NOVOSTI/-- An annual growth of 5-6 per
cent is needed for the Russian economy to survive and, given the
correct economic policy, by 2000 Russia can achieve an economic
growth of 23 per cent instead of 2 per cent as the government
forecasts. This opinion was expressed by director of the Central
Economic and Mathematical Institute, academician Dmitry Lvov. He
delivered a report at the press-centre of the Russian Foreign
Ministry entitled: "The System of Effective Management of State
In the academician's estimate, the national wealth of
Russia costs over $340 trillion and its intellectual capital is
worth no less than $400 billion. The annual income of the
Russian economy in world prices constitutes $150-180 billion. At
the same time, according to Lvov, wages in Russia are 10 times
lower than in industrialised nations and by the gross domestic
product per capita Russia holds the 49th-50th place in the
In his speech chairman of the Federal Valuation Fund Mark
Masarsky noted that overseas proven property of Russia
constitute $70 billion.
The briefing at the press-centre of the Russian Foreign
Ministry was devoted to the second All-Russia conference
entitled: "Valuation of the Country's National Wealth" due to
take place on May 27-29. Dmitry Lvov and Mark Masarsky are its
IF BELIEVING THE PUBLICATION IN WASHINGTON TIMES, US
GOVERNMENT HAS POOR INTELLIGENCE SERVICE, SAYS HEAD OF
RUSSIAN ATOMIC ENERGY MINISTRY YEVGENY ADAMOV
MOSCOW, MAY 9 /RIA NOVOSTI'S CORRESPONDENT SERGEI RYABIKIN/
- If it is true what the publication of the Washington Times
says, the US government has poor intelligence and poor
intelligence lets people down in combat. If this is an
information war against Russia, "I believe that the intelligence
has failed the chief command and diverted its forces into the
other direction. This is what Russian atomic energy minister
Yevgeny Adamov said on Friday due to the publication of a
material in the Washington Times where, with reference to the
data of the classified report of military intelligence sent the
other day to the top heads of the US administration, it is said
that the USA is extremely alarmed about the forthcoming
demonstration of the gas centrifuge for uranium enrichment which
will be showed to the head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of
Iran during his visit to Moscow late this month.
The Russian minister said that this visit will really take
place on May 12-18. However, this is the only authentic
information in the publication of the US newspaper. All the
rest, according to him, is misinformation since there will be no
demonstration of the centrifuge or its subsequent sale during
the visit. Nor will there be even the discussion of this issue.
During the visit to Moscow the parties intend to discuss one
central topic: the construction of the atomic reactor for the
atomic power station in Busher. He said that there are some
difficulties in the fulfilment of the contract and they will be
discussed during the visit. In particular, the parties have
already reviewed their obligations under the contract and Russia
has assumed the bulk of them. The representative of Iran will
also be showed the production of heat-liberating elements in the
city of Elektrostal and the shop which will produce fuel for the
reactor in Busher.
Yevgeny Adamov also noted that Ukraine, under the pressure
of the USA, took a decision to give up the deliveries of
turbines for the atomic power station. Russia waited long for
Ukraine to continue the fulfilment of the work. In this
connection, the order was re-distributed at the St. Petersburg
enterprise Elektrosila. This plant will also be showed the
He will also be showed the Russian atomic power station in
Balakovo. In the course of the visit, the Iranian delegation
will be acquainted with the activity of Russian research
institutes which intend to demonstrate to the delegation the
works which will contribute to the safety of the operation of
the atomic power station. The Iranian representative will be
acquainted with the Moscow Engineering and Technical Institute
where specialists for the Busher atomic power station will be
Returning to the publication in the US newspaper, Adamov
qualified it as "a provocation aimed at worsening the relations
between our countries." "I hope that the publication will not
affect adversely our further constructive cooperation," said he.
May 8, 1998
MEDIA WATCH: Court Makes Sense on Press
By Leonid Bershidsky
Special to The Moscow Times
There are times when court decisions do not seem to make sense to a
layman. Remember the O.J. Simpson trial? The law is an arcane field in
which professional battles professional these days, as opposed to right
battling wrong. But Russian courts have recently made several decisions
that make perfect sense to a non-lawyer, and both concern the media.
High-priced, high-powered lawyer Mikhail Barshchevsky, who had never lost
a libel case before, did not save Anatoly Chubais from defeat at the hands
of investigative journalist Alexander Minkin. Chubais sued Minkin for
saying in an interview with Ekho Moskvy radio that the then-first deputy
prime minister had accepted a veiled bribe from Uneximbank in the form of a
$90,000 book advance from a publishing house associated with the bank.
No amount of clever legal maneuvering by Barshchevsky could alter the
facts in the case. The book had not been written by the time the advance
was paid; when pressed to do so, Chubais presented the court with a short
manuscript that he said was his part of the book, but the manuscript did
not contain any insights or sensational revelations that could be valued at
$90,000; therefore, the money paid to Chubais was not really a book
advance. It was not up to the court to decide whether it was a bribe, but
the court refused to penalize Minkin for saying it was.
No one in his right mind would believe that Chubais was actually paid for
his future literary efforts. Minkin, who is argumentative and opinionated,
was not in this case going off on some tangent. He was talking from a
position of common sense. The Presnya court, which threw out Chubais' case,
rejected the theory that to be accused of bribery in the media, a person
must first be convicted of it by a court of law. You might expect a judge
to defend that theory because a judge is more likely to trust another
judge's opinion than a journalist's statement. But Judge Irina Kupriyanova,
like Minkin, clearly took a position of common sense. If a journalist can
prove his accusations, there is no need to wait for a conviction before
saying an official is corrupt.
Another Moscow court, which earlier this year dismissed former Justice
Minister Valentin Kovalyov's suit against the monthly Sovershenno Sekretno,
also rejected all sorts of filibustering by Kovalyov's lawyers. The former
minister insisted on expert examinations of videotapes, stills from which
the monthly had published, depicting Kovalyov frolicking with naked women
in a sauna. According to the plaintiff, the tapes were computer montages.
Kovalyov is a lawyer, so he should know how to present a case in court and
at least make life difficult for his adversaries. But the court refused to
let him do that. It goes against common sense to imagine some mad scientist
sitting in his laboratory generating computer images of Kovalyov chasing
prostitutes. The scenes looked just too real.
And then last week another court said the daily newspaper Noviye Izvestia
had to change its logo because the one it was using was too close in
appearance to the one used by the daily Izvestia. Noviye Izvestia's
management team consists of refugees from the "old" Izvestia, who had left
the paper when it was taken over by Uneximbank and LUKoil. For some reason
they decided they could take the logo with them and defend the move in
Noviye Izvestia's arguments would have convinced a newspaper designer.
These guys are sticklers for pixels, font sizes and margin widths. The
logo, the paper's representatives said, used a font without serifs; it was
also done in a different color, and the first and last letters of the word
Izvestia were bigger than the rest. The judge, however, was not a newspaper
designer. No one can deny, just looking at the two logos, that they are
very similar. And that looked bad to the judge.
Of course, Chubais and Noviye Izvestia are appealing the court decisions.
Who knows what the higher courts will do. Defense lawyers say courts above
the district level are more responsive to technical arguments. But I think
we laymen have every reason to applaud the district judges who have made
the decisions. I am not saying courts should base their decisions on common
sense rather than law books. But I think in cases as obvious as the three
we have discussed here, people who are clearly in the wrong should not have
the sheer gall to sue or, in the case of Noviye Izvestia, let the case
reach trial. They should have the courage to admit they've done something
wrong. And they should apologize and accept punishment.
Los Angeles Times
May 9, 1998
[for personal use only]
Stolen Cars Cost Russian Owners Their Lives
Thieves lured victims, killed them and sold their vehicles, police say.
Ten bodies are found at an auto shop.
By RICHARD C. PADDOCK, Times Staff Writer
MOSCOW--Konstantin and Valeriya Khidrin decided in February to sell their
1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee. The Russian businessman and his wife, both 28,
placed an advertisement in a popular publication, and they soon got a
call from a man who wanted to buy the vehicle.
They went on a Monday to meet him at busy Taganskaya Square in
It was the last anyone saw of them until this week, when Moscow
police dug up their bodies from beneath the concrete floor of a car
repair shop eight miles from the Kremlin.
Police say the two were among 11 victims of an auto theft ring that
lured car owners to the garage, murdered them and sold their vehicles.
The killers, who especially favored Jeep Grand Cherokees, selected
their targets by reading the classified ads, police say.
Even by the standards of Moscow--where contract hits and gang
killings have become commonplace--the depravity of the killings has
stunned the public and police.
"These are people who have nothing human left in them whatsoever,"
said Lt. Col. Igor Gubanov, head of the homicide division of the Moscow
Criminal Investigations Department. "This is totally beyond my
understanding. How can one kill people, including women, for just a
piece of steel, bury the victims . . . and then invite the next victim
The killings demonstrate how far Russia has come in the past seven
years as the former Communist state has evolved into a quasi-capitalist
country whose economy is dominated by organized crime and whose people
are plagued by ordinary criminals.
The slain car owners appear to have been mainly New Russians, who
had succeeded in amassing at least a small share of Russia's wealth and
enjoyed spending it on goods like foreign cars.
The 11 killings netted the thieves seven vehicles--three Jeep Grand
Cherokees, a Mercedes, an Audi and two top-end Russian cars, police say.
At most, police estimate, the thieves received $100,000 for them.
Police say they have rounded up all five members of the ring--which
operated out of the repair shop in an industrial district on Moscow's
southeast side. Police are investigating whether there are more victims.
Soon after the Khidrins disappeared Feb. 9, the police began
getting similar reports of people who vanished after setting off to sell
their cars. The department formed a task force to investigate the
disappearances and discovered two more that fit the pattern.
Based on interviews with relatives, police concluded that the
criminals found their prey in the same daily advertising paper.
The thieves telephoned the sellers and arranged to meet at
Taganskaya Square. After agreeing on a price, the "buyers" said they
wanted to have a mechanic inspect the car. They arranged to meet the
sellers the next day at the same square and drive to a repair shop they
A relative who went with one male victim to meet the "buyer" stayed
home the next day and lived to give police a detailed description of the
Police began checking auto shops in the area and zeroed in on
Avtolux. There, an employee matched a police sketch based on the
Need to print or save the entire story?Select the long format.
About the same time, the police found a message on the answering
machine of another missing car owner, asking him to call the Avtolux
They raided the shop and found parts from a huge number of autos,
as well as documents from some of the missing cars.
They also found a Russian-made Niva Taiga jeep that had been stolen
in January from a man found bludgeoned to death in his own garage.
Police now believe that he balked at going to the shop to see the
"mechanic" and became the ring's first victim.
During a second search of the shop, police discovered freshly laid
asphalt under a pile of sand. They started digging and found clothes,
passports, car papers and mobile phones belonging to some of the missing
people. Farther down, they found five bodies.
Police also discovered a large floor drain that had been filled
with cement. Underneath were five more bodies, including the Khidrins.
Moscow television news programs broadcast grisly footage of police
exhuming the victims--the men who had been shot and Valeriya Khidrin,
the only woman, who had been suffocated with a plastic bag.
LEFT OPPOSITION HELD A V-DAY 'DOWN-WITH-THE-REGIME' RALLY
MOSCOW, MAY 9. /FROM RIA NOVOSTI CORRESPONDENT ALEKSANDRA
UTKINA/-- With an unfading slogan 'Down with the Anti-popular
Regime' above their heads, Communists and their allies have held
a rally in Lubyanskaya Square in Moscow on the V-Day occasion.
According to its representatives, the rally was attended by
As talking to the rally, chairman of the All-Russian
officers assembly Vladislav Achalov and leader of the movement
'For Army, Defence Industry and Science' Lev Rokhlin did not say
much about the past war, they rather called for collecting
signatures for impeaching the acting President who was charged
with all possible troubles. "President should be radically
opposed," declared Rokhlin.
In his speech, leader of Communists and so-called Popular
Patriotic Union of Russia Gennady Zyuganov said that Communists
and their allies are planning to form a shadow government in the
near future. According to the Red Leader, the opposition is
going to propose an anti-crisis programme and that on national
"We have powerful deputies groups which are able to prepare
laws providing a worthy life for the citizens," said Zyuganov.
He also reported that his Patriotic Union intends to hold an
action of protest this autumn under slogans 'President should
resign' and 'No confidence in Kiriyenko's government.'
"Our fathers' victory inn the Great Patriotic war should
inspire us to perform more heroic exploits," declared Zyuganov.
E X C L U S I V E I N F O R M A T I O N
MOSCOW, MAY 9 /RIA NOVOSTI/-- The new Russian government is
"temporary" and it "has no future," Gennady Zyuganov said in an
exclusive interview with RIA Novosti during the manifestation of
the left opposition on the occasion of Victory Day. According to
the leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, the
government "was formed contrary to the will of the State Duma
and our actions will correspond to the situation."
Zyuganov said that there are no people in the government
"who would take care of agriculture and national problems." In
his expression, "children of Chubais and nephews of Gaidar were
selected" for the composition of the new government who will now
work in the conditions of the extremely acute crisis.
Journal of Commerce
11 May 1998
[for personal use only]
Name change upends Russian trade agency
Bureaucratic tangle could snag new law
BY JOHN HELMER
JOURNAL OF COMMERCE SPECIAL
MOSCOW -- Russia's trade ministry, known until recently as the Ministry
of Foreign Economic Relations, is now in a shambles, officials say
The cause is a decision made by Russia's new prime minister, Sergei
Kiriyenko, to replace it with a new agency called the Ministry of
Industry and Trade.
The creation of the agency poses a bureaucratic challenge for Mr.
Chubais' protege, Yakov Urinson, who heads the Ministry of Economy.
Although that agency is the bureaucratic heir to the Soviet-era State
Planning Committee (Gosplan), it claims to be the leader in advancing
market reforms in the Russian economy, a requirement for the nation's
competitive participation in global trade.
At home, the move could hamper action by trade ministry, officials to
act on Russia's new trade defense legislation.
But there are "no large policy reasons" for the revamp, according to a
high-ranking official who asked not to be identified. "It was never
discussed at the professional level. It was a political decision, but I
don't know the reason."
Not doing enough on trade
Earlier this year, President Boris Yeltsin publicly upbraided Mikhail
Fradkov, then the minister in charge of Russia's foreign trade, for
failing to do enough to protect Russia's lagging domestic industries, or
to overturn trade obstacles to Russian exports in the United States, the
European Union and in Asia.
But Mr. Fradkov held on to his job through the reshuffling of the
government that Mr. Yeltsin ordered in February. He has apparently lost
it now, because his name is not on the list of new ministers appointed
or reappointed by Mr. Kiriyenko, following the Russian Parliament's vote
to approve his nomination.
Officials in several ministries involved in foreign trade policy say Mr.
Fradkov was not to blame for the government's weakness in trade
negotiations. They fault First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais,
who claimed to be in overall charge of the economy. Mr. Chubais lost his
position when Mr. Yeltsin dismissed the entire government on March 23.
Mr. Urinson has hung on to his job during the recent reshuffle. He also
told an audience of subordinates at the ministry a few days ago that he
won't allow any of them to be shifted to the Ministry of Industry and
Nor, he said, will he accept the break-up of parts of the Ministry of
Economy most directly involved in industry policy. These include
departments covering Russia's ferrous and non-ferrous metal industries,
the automotive sector, the precious metals sector, and diamonds. All
were originally autonomously regulated through bureaucratic agencies of
their own, until Mr. Urinson persuaded Mr. Chubais that they were
industry lobbies, and should be reformed inside the Economy Ministry.
That shift took place a year ago.
Fighting to keep his job
Now Mr. Urinson is fighting to hang on. One of the candidates to head
the new ministry is Andrei Svinarenko, a deputy minister under Mr.
"If he goes, that would become a serious threat to the Ministry of
Economy," said one of Mr. Svinarenko's associates. "He spent his life's
career in the Gosplan, and he knows very well how to create a ministry
Another contender for the new minister's post is Georgy Gabounia, who
has been serving as first deputy minister in the old agency. Mr.
Gabounia is Russia's leading trade negotiator. Mr. Gabounia has the
burden of leading Moscow's efforts to join the World Trade Organization,
as well as the fiercely contested talks with the European Commission on
limits for Russian exports, such as steel and textiles. He has been
reluctant to remain in government, unless -- he has said -- he gets a
mandate for stronger action in defense of Russia's trade interests.
Russia's new trade defense legislation was signed into law on April 14,
but its use could be hobbled by the political turmoil. Already, Yelena
Bandura, head of the department for defense of the domestic market, has
declined to respond to questions about reported moves by Russia's
steelmakers to file an anti-dumping complaint against Ukrainian steel
"According to the law," she said, "we are not authorized to make any
comments before the official decision of the government concerning
introduction of protection measures against this or that country is
'No comment' on anything
Ms. Bandura also refused to say how many staff her office currently
employs, or is expected to engage to start anti-dumping and domestic
"The number of employees is not enough for us to carry out numerous
investigations," she said in an interview.
"According to the law on defense of domestic market," she said, "the
government has to introduce changes into the legislation, through
adopting governmental resolutions, and introducing changes into the laws
on custom duties and regulation of foreign economic activities."
Sydney Morning Herald
May 9, 1998
[for personal use only]
Hitler's skinhead fans on a racist rampage
As Germany confronts a wave of neo-Nazism among its alienated, jobless
youth, a similar mix of racist and nationalist thuggery is sweeping
Moscow. Herald Correspondent NEELA BANERJEE reports on a growing wave of
racist attacks in the city.
GRINNING into a television camera and rubbing his right fist, Semyon
Takmanov shows how Russia has caught up with other parts of the world -
in one ugly respect.
A skinhead and white supremacist, Takmanov boasted to a Russian camera
crew shortly after he and four friends beat up a black US marine in
Moscow last weekend. "One Negro bit me on my hand twice," Takmanov says,
massaging his bloodied knuckles. "Very often, blacks bite me on my
The attack on the marine has ignited interest among the media and the
Western expatriate community in Russia mainly because the victim is an
But the incident is just the latest in a wave of racially motivated
beatings and murders of Asians and Africans living in Moscow - the work
of increasingly bold right-wing extremists whose shock troops are
skinheads such as Takmanov.
Though the skinhead movement has been festering among European youth for
some years, the emergence of fascist groups in Russia seems particularly
ironic, for no country suffered more during the World War II fight
against fascism than the Soviet Union, which lost 20 million of its
Russian "nationalist socialism" gives the disgruntled easy answers for
the country's many woes. They believe the Yeltsin administration has
wrecked Russia. Only an iron hand and racial cleansing can improve
The skinhead gangs attract young men who find it's "cool to shave your
head and wear combat boots and beat up anyone you want and feel that you
can get away with it," explains Konstantin Kasimovsky, the head of the
Russian National Union, an extreme right-wing group whose members
include many skinheads.
That feeling of impunity is part of the problem, observers say. For
years, Moscow's Mayor, Mr Yury Luzhkov, has made nationalism official
city policy. As a result, police themselves often harass and beat
foreigners and look the other way when skinheads do the same.
"For Africans, there are two enemies in Russia - skinheads and police
officers," says Edmundo Manhica, 37, a journalist from Mozambique who
has lived in Russia 14 years.
The racist harassment began after the Soviet Union fell apart.
Previously it was checked by fear of the authorities. That fear
disappeared with the Soviet state. Now about 40 or 50 per cent of
Russians hold xenophobic views, double the proportion in the early
1990s, according to a recent survey by the All Russian Centre for Public
The State has yet to pass laws against fascist groups, and a
presidential decree on the matter signed two years ago goes virtually
ignored, says Mr Pyotr Kaznacheyev, the head of the Anti-Fascist Youth
"A year ago, the skinheads walked around in ones and twos, and they were
often drunk or on drugs," says Ibimina Ibamo, a 25-year-old student from
Nigeria, who has been attacked twice. "But those who came after me this
time were wearing a uniform. They were sober and in a big group. They
knew exactly what they were doing."
The Foreign Students' Association receives up to 45 reports of racist
attacks a month. The latest wave of skinhead attacks began rather
formally, with an announcement to the Russian press last month that from
April 20, Hitler's birthday, skinheads planned to kill one foreigner a
day. So far, the death toll hasn't risen, but beatings have.
The US embassy issued a warning to its citizens after an American
witnessed the beating of two Asian women by more than 20 skinheads in
the city centre on April 21. No-one was caught in that incident, but the
22-year-old Takmanov has been arrested for his role in the attack on the
Mr Kaznacheyev estimates there are about 3,000 to 4,000 skinheads in
Moscow compared with a few dozen in regional towns.
It's not just because Moscow is a larger city, but because "here there
is official intolerance towards outsiders," Mr Kaznacheyev says. Mayor
Luzhkov "makes xenophobia legal."
A few years ago Mr Luzhkov signed a decree to fight crime that
essentially gave police a free hand to chase out people from the
Caucasus region, most of them dark-skinned Chechens, Azerbaijanis and
Armenians. He has said repeatedly that Moscow is for Muscovites, and he
has yet to respond to diplomatic pleas to taken action against
Race-based law enforcement now affects foreigners, too. Though document
checks are unconstitutional, police routinely pull aside Africans and
Asians to check their passports.
The police not only set an example for skinheads, "they give them
passive support," Mr Kaznacheyev says. The police know, for example,
where skinheads gather - at a a club called Buchenwald and in large
parks - but they don't take steps to curb their activities. One skinhead
group patrols a city park and works as transit police on suburban
Moreover, the police often fail to help foreigners when they have been
attacked by skinheads, Asians and Africans say. Some police are members
of Mr Kasimovsky's Russian National Union and other fascist groups.
May 4, 1998
[for personal use only]
A BOOST FOR BEREZOVSKY?
Russian media tycoon Boris A. Berezovsky looked as though he had won the booby
prize when he was named to run the Commonwealth of Independent States, the
tattered alliance of 12 former Soviet republics. The Apr. 29 appointment, say
pundits, was designed to keep him out of Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin's
hair. But Berezovsky may get the last laugh--and his business interests a big
His Logovaz company, the exclusive Russian dealer for Daewoo autos made in
Uzbekistan, would benefit from lower CIS customs barriers. He has a major
stake in Aeroflot Russian International Airlines, which wants to expand in the
CIS. With Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., Berezovsky recently bought
telecommunications holdings in Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. The venture
could precede a push into satellite TV.
EDITED BY JOHN TEMPLEMAN
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