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17 May 1998
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Reuters: Lebed set to become governor of Siberian region.
2. Alexander Orlov: Musicians' wages in jeeps.
3. New York Times: Celesetine Bohlen, 'New' Politics in Siberia:
Biased Press, Funny Money.
4. Kyodo: Clinton, Yeltsin agree on further disarmament efforts.
5. Los Angeles Times: Carol Williams, Global Flare-Ups Threaten
to Put New Strains on U.S.-Russian Ties.
6. Komsomolskaya Pravda: Aleksey Makurin, Sergey Ponomarev, and
YevgeniyAnisimov: "The NEP Describes Our Economic Terrain. What Do the
Russian Oligarchs Own?"
7. Moskovskiye Novosti: Sanobar Shermatova, "Is the Caspian Threatened
8. Interfax: Yeltsin: Russia Economy Has Gone Through Radical Reform.
9. Moscow Times: Munin Shakirov, Conscripts' Dirty Deal.
10. The Electronic Telegraph (UK): Robin Lodge, Synagogue bomb marks
sinister rise of Russia's neo-Nazis.
11. AFP: Stroyev in Paris--Russia 'Genetically' Opposes NATO Growth.]
Lebed set to become governor of Siberian region
By Gleb Bryansky
KRASNOYARSK, Russia, May 18 (Reuters) - Reserve general Alexander Lebed was
firmly on track on Monday to become governor of the vast, resource-rich
Krasnoyarsk region of Siberia and win a power base to contest Russia's
Unofficial results from Sunday's election gave him around 56 percent of the
votes, a comfortable 17 percentage points more than his Kremlin-backed rival,
incumbent Valery Zubov, who conceded defeat.
Turnout was about 63 percent in the mineral-rich region that stretches from
the Arctic north virtually to the Mongolian border and covers a seventh of
Lebed's success crowned a stunning political comeback by the tough-talking
former paratroop commander who was sacked from President Boris Yeltsin's
Kremlin team 18 months ago for being too ambitious.
Both the Kremlin and Yeltsin's communist foes had tried to block his election,
fearing that he planned to use Krasnoyarsk as a launchpad for the next
presidential election in 2000.
``Lebed's victory has significance for the whole of Russia because in
Krasnoyarsk are focused all the country's problems. This was a vote against
the status quo,'' political analyst Yuri Afanasyev told NTV commercial
television's Itogi news programme.
But Lebed, 48, struck a sober, non-triumphalist note as the scale of his
victory became clear in a region with which he had had no previous links.
``Ahead of me I see lots of difficult and often routine work to be done. We
have to mobilise people, free them from their fears. I am not euphoric,'' he
Lebed, keen to counter voters' fears that he was not really interested in the
region's local problems, has said that he will stand for president in 2000
only if he manages to revive Krasnoyarsk's ailing economy.
``I don't know whether I want to be president or not. It will depend on how I
manage here. I don't know how much time it will require,'' he told reporters
at his headquarters.
In the first round of the 1996 presidential election, Lebed won 15 million
votes on a law-and-order ticket and finished third. He then forged a brief
political alliance with Yeltsin, helping him to defeat communist leader
He was rewarded with the post of secretary of the Security Council. But
Yeltsin sacked him four months later and he has since been in the political
In the Krasnoyarsk campaign, he won the first ballot on April 26 with a
surprisingly strong 45 percent of the vote, nearly 10 points ahead of Zubov.
Sunday's run-off was necessary because neither man gained an outright
As governor, Lebed will be in a strong position to attract the kind of
financial backing needed for any future presidential bid. He also
automatically gains a seat in Russia's upper house of parliament, the
Lebed, a veteran of Russia's Afghan war, made his name by helping to keep the
peace in the former Soviet republic of Moldova when a separatist conflict
flared in 1991.
During his brief spell at the policy-making Security Council, he helped seal a
peace deal with Chechen separatists, ending a war in the breakaway Caucasus
republic in which tens of thousands of people were killed.
Nationalists accused him of selling out Russia's interests in Chechnya, while
the communists regard him as an authoritarian figure who could trigger civil
war in Russia if he came to power.
But he won endorsements in the Krasnoyarsk campaign from some diverse
quarters, including French film star and personal friend Alain Delon, former
Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev and Russian financier and media magnate
``Lebed is seen as a man of the people,'' Gorbachev was quoted as saying. ``He
is devoted to Russia.''
Political analyst Afanasyev said Lebed was bound to lose popularity as he
grappled with the deep problems of Krasnoyarsk, whose economy is closely tied
up with the old Soviet military-industrial complex.
NTV's Itogi programme said voters nationwide were still far from convinced
that Lebed had what it took to lead Russia.
According to its weekly unofficial survey of national voting intentions, Itogi
said Lebed would trail Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov and Zyuganov if a
presidential election were held now, winning only 11 percent of the vote.
Date: Sun, 17 May 1998
From: Alexander Orlov <email@example.com>
Subject: Musicians' wages in jeeps
Just a fact. It is well-known that musicians in Russian state institutions
are poorly paid. But after Mr. Kiriyenko became PM and announced severe
cuts in governmental spending, the situation got even worse in some
respects. The Director of the Moscow Conservatory's musical college and
musical school was given some jeeps instead of (part of?) her employees'
wages. Now she has to sell those jeeps in order to pay salaries.
New York Times
17 May 1998
[for personal use only]
'New' Politics in Siberia: Biased Press, Funny Money
By CELESTINE BOHLEN
KRASNOYARSK, Russia -- This city in southern Siberia has become the center
ring of Russian politics in the last several weeks -- a place where movie
stars, pop singers, image makers and dirty-tricks artists have been busily
parading their campaign skills.
Like everyone else in the vast region that stretches north to the Arctic
circle, Vladimir Rube, editor of the daily newspaper The Evening Krasnoyarsk,
has been consumed by the drama of the campaign between the incumbent regional
governor, Valery Zubov, who is the Kremlin's candidate, and Alexander Lebed,
the former paratroop general and ousted Kremlin aide. Lebed's probable victory
will give him a good shot at the Russian presidency in 2000.
(In a surprise move, Lebed told a Moscow radio station Friday that if
elected, he would not run for the presidency in 2000. But he still has time to
change his mind again.)
But like many other local journalists, Rube sees no reason to be objective.
His newspaper is firmly in the Zubov camp. Asked if he had sent a reporter to
a Lebed news conference, his answer was blunt: "We don't mention Lebed. We
don't want to excite any unnecessary passions."
The fight-to-the-finish in Krasnoyarsk, a region of 3 million people with a
reputation as Russia's political bellwether, has not been pretty.
The plain-speaking Lebed has been drawn into an unlikely alliance with Boris
Berezovsky, a deal-maker and business tycoon. And Zubov, an economics
professor, marched with the Communists on May Day in an effort to win votes
"The situation is developing dramatically," said Aleksei Klyshko, a local
television reporter and also a Zubov supporter. "But it is very bad for the
region, which has lost its political virginity."
Each side routinely accuses the other of staging provocations.
Zubov, for example, made nervous by his poor showing in the first ballot,
has whipped up an alarmist atmosphere, portraying Lebed as a dangerous
interloper who poses a threat to peace in the region and in the nation. Lebed
promises to restore order and reverse the "massive stupidities" that he says
have brought a depression to the rich region.
The only bright spots have been visits by two crowd pleasers -- the French
movie star Alain Delon, who flew in for Lebed, and Russia's top pop singer,
Alla Pugacheva, who let slip that while she backed Zubov for governor, she
might vote for Lebed for president.
But the competition for the local media has been less entertaining and more
sinister. The fight over control of information mirrors, on a regional level,
the no-holds-barred political biases of Russia's national newspapers and
Of Krasnoyarsk's four television stations, three are biased toward Zubov.
The fourth, TVK-6, claims to be objective but its general manager, Alexander
Klyukin, admits his crews do not cover Zubov.
The two main daily newspapers are split, but a rash of weekly pro-Lebed
newsletters have appeared in mailboxes across the region.
One result is a deepening disillusionment of the electorate. "You don't know
whom to believe, what to believe," said Valery Moskalyov, a former airport
employee. "No one is telling the truth."
Russian electoral politics have become more sophisticated since 1988, when
the Soviet Union held the first real multiple-choice elections in its 70-year
history. Now Russia has a thriving industry of political consultants, image-
makers and poll takers -- all of whom have flocked to Krasnoyarsk, which for
this brief period has pulled Russia's political center of gravity away from
But what has made this race different from other regional elections is
money, lots of it. How much money has been spent on these elections is
anybody's guess, since neither side has reported either its source, or how it
was spent. A regional law limits campaign spending to about $80,000, which is
"You could see it with money offered to run pro-Lebed pieces," said Rube,
the editor. "You could measure the level of spending by the number of banquets
held for journalists."
But voters have shown that experience has made them wiser to the tricks of
democracy. Some contend that Zubov's poor showing in the first round of voting
was a result of overconfidence that it could control local media coverage.
"I think the Zubov command counted on the usual lie that people will believe
everything they see on the screen, " said Klyukin, of TVK-6. "But people on
the whole have figured it out. They are tired of being treated like animals;
they are tired of being lied to. They were lied to by the Communists for 70
years; now we have another kind of lying."
Clinton, Yeltsin agree on further disarmament efforts
Kyodo News Service
BIRMINGHAM, England, May 17 (Kyodo) - U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian
President Boris Yeltsin agreed Sunday that their countries will make further
efforts to reduce the world's nuclear arsenals amid a growing sense of urgency
in the wake of a series of nuclear tests conducted by India.
Clinton and Yeltsin agreed the two countries, as ''the special custodians of
significant nuclear arsenals, have to continue the task of reducing those
nuclear arsenals,'' U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Jim Steinberg told a
Both leaders agreed to try to achieve the goal under the START (Strategic Arms
Reduction Treaty) II and START III pacts, according to Steinberg.
Clinton, appearing before reporters after his meeting with Yeltsin in
Birmingham, England, said the Russian president ''assured me that he was doing
his best to ratify the START II Treaty in the Duma (Russian parliament).''
''And we agreed that we wanted to immediately begin work on START III as soon
as the ratification is secured there,'' Clinton said.
During his meeting with Clinton in March 1997 in Helsinki, Yeltsin promised to
push the State Duma -- Russia's lower legislative chamber, to finally ratify
the long-stalled START II Treaty, which was signed in 1993. Both leaders also
agreed that once the START II enters into force, they would immediately begin
talks on a follow-up pact known as START III.
Clinton said Sunday, ''I think all of us, because of the Indian nuclear tests,
feel an ever greater sense of urgency to change the debate again over nuclear
issues toward less, not more, to change the whole direction here.''
''If we can get early Duma ratification, we know pretty well where we are on a
lot of these big START III issues and we'd like to really get after it and
turn this, the nuclear tide, back in the right direction -- away from more
weapons toward fewer ones,'' Clinton said.
Washington has ratified the START II Treaty. Its ratification by Russia would
eliminate bombers and missiles that carried more than 14,000 Russian and
American nuclear warheads -- cutting U.S. and Russian arsenals by two-thirds
from their Cold War heights.
This would pave the way for even deeper cuts under START III, the framework
for which was agreed upon by Clinton and Yeltsin in Helsinki.
Los Angeles Times
Sunday, May 17, 1998
[for personal use only]
Global Flare-Ups Threaten to Put New Strains on U.S.-Russian Ties
Diplomacy: Despite rift on key issues, officials are putting a brave
face on Clinton-Yeltsin meeting.
By CAROL J. WILLIAMS, Times Staff Writer
BIRMINGHAM, England--Just as Russia is whittling away at Washington's
doubts about its commitment to domestic reform, destabilizing flare-ups
in countries closely allied with the Kremlin threaten new strains on
Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin and President Clinton meet for
the first time in more than a year today, and explosive global issues
are likely to complicate the conversation between two leaders who have
long considered themselves friends.
Both presidents denounced India's nuclear tests last week. But the
tests have widened the political rift between Moscow and Washington by
pitting Clinton's swift imposition of economic sanctions against
Yeltsin's position that embargoes are "counterproductive."
Ethnic violence and mounting tensions in Yugoslavia's Kosovo
province also are frustrating relations between the former Cold War
rivals: Russia shares the Slavic heritage and Christian Orthodox
religion of the Serbian forces blamed by U.S. officials for turning
Kosovo into a powder keg.
Long-standing disputes over NATO expansion into Eastern Europe,
Russian nuclear technology sales to Iran and Moscow's political support
to the ostracized Iraqis have further chilled the relationship.
Still, both U.S. and Russian officials were putting a brave face on
today's meeting, being held on the fringes of the Group of 7
industrialized nations' summit, which now includes Russia in what has
been relabeled the Group of 8.
"I don't expect new differences of opinion to appear. As a matter of
fact, they could work to resolve some of the long-standing differences,"
Yeltsin spokesman Sergei V. Yastrzhembsky told journalists on the eve of
the Clinton-Yeltsin meeting. "But perhaps I'm being overly optimistic."
Asked if Yeltsin might be swayed to support economic sanctions
against India for its nuclear tests, Yastrzhembsky responded: "Under no
U.S. officials said that, although there are distinct disagreements
with Russia on regional issues, they do not hinder the relationship.
"There are areas where we fundamentally disagree with Russia,"
National Security Advisor Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger said. "But we will
continue to maintain the relationship so long as we can make progress on
those areas that we agree on and deal candidly with them on the areas we
Berger stressed that the economic and political changes underway in
Russia represent "the most significant fact of our lifetime" and that
they--and not the disagreements about Iraq or Kosovo--set the tone of
In the first heady years of post-Soviet relations, Clinton and
Yeltsin vowed to hold at least annual summits to build a new foundation
for relations in the wake of the Cold War and to work jointly to combat
the threat of the nuclear menace spreading.
But Russia's earlier backsliding on democratic reforms and the
refusal of its parliament to ratify the 1993 START II disarmament treaty
have discouraged the White House from setting a date for the next formal
summit. Clinton has not visited Russia in more than two years, and
Yeltsin's last U.S. trip was in October 1995. In March 1997, the two
leaders met in Helsinki, Finland, to spare the then-ailing Yeltsin the
strain of a transatlantic journey on what should have been his turn to
visit. But the leaders made little headway in easing friction between
Before coming here, a Clinton administration official conceded that
linking the next summit to Russia's ratification of START II was
becoming an increasingly costly strategy. Without a recent summit, which
can be such a good vehicle for interaction with the Russians, the U.S.
has not been able to assess the situation in Russia or prod reforms as
aggressively as it would like, the official said.
Cursory meetings such as the one to be held here today leave too
much political terrain uncovered, the official said.
The coolness that has descended on U.S.-Russian ties in recent
years likewise causes little worry among Kremlin policymakers. Yeltsin
last week described relations with Washington in the initial post-Soviet
era as based on "illusions and exaggerated expectations."
Russia's post-Communist leadership has crossed significant
milestones in developing a Western-style market economy, this year even
escaping the debate about its commitment to reforms that has marked
previous G-7 summits.
However, Russia's allegiance to Cold War-era allies remains strong.
Moscow holds tenaciously to the view that economic cooperation should be
spared from fleeting political influences, and its strong trade ties
with India are tempering Russia's response to the Asian state's nuclear
Trade between Russia and India has reached as much as $5.5 billion
a year this decade, making New Delhi one of Moscow's most important and
promising economic partners. Russian leaders are loath to sacrifice
lucrative trade ties, even under U.S. pressure to show solidarity
against errant nations.
That loyalty, however, may cost Moscow in its standing with the
India's brash emergence onto the nuclear weapons scene with last
week's five tests threw down "a thermonuclear banana skin for Yeltsin
ahead of the summit," the Moscow daily newspaper Sevodnya observed.
Russia has little significant trade with the Serb-led rump
Yugoslavia, which has been pauperized by seven years of on-again,
off-again wars. But the Kremlin's desire to appear influential with
rogue nations and its unflinching support for fellow Slavs have prompted
Moscow to oppose Western attempts to pressure Yugoslavia into relaxing
its police presence in volatile Kosovo, where 90% of the population is
Russia also has stood firm on selling nuclear power technology to
Iran. Yastrzhembsky, Yeltsin's spokesman, lambasted suggestions here
that the power-plant equipment could be used for military purposes as
"figments of the imagination in some U.S. and Israeli media."
Moscow also has loudly opposed past U.S. and British threats to bomb
Iraq for noncompliance with U.N. Security Council resolutions ordering
the elimination of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Yeltsin warned
earlier this year that the United States was risking "a third world war"
with its threats of airstrikes, and it was at the insistence of Russian
Foreign Minister Yevgeny M. Primakov that U.N. delegations visited Iraq
to stave off armed conflict.
Looming large in the erosion of U.S.-Russian relations is the
expectation that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will expand to
include newly independent Baltic countries that were part of the Soviet
Union. Yeltsin has warned of grave consequences for the United States
and NATO if the alliance inducts those countries, which would spread
NATO arms and forces to Russia's borders.
Times staff writer Elizabeth Shogren contributed to this report.
Role of 'Oligarchs' in Economy Seen Exaggerated
8-15 May 1998
[translation for personal use only]
Article by Aleksey Makurin, Sergey Ponomarev, and Yevgeniy
Anisimov: "The NEP Describes Our Economic Terrain. What Do the
Russian Oligarchs Own?"
Trying to understand anything in modern Russia relying on newspaper
and television information is like drawing someone's portrait while looking
at his reflection in a soap bubble. There is a beautiful play of color and
elaborate mutation, and it all thereby has very little in common with the
original. For all the banality of this observation, we continue to live in
precisely this way, geared toward the myths and fairy tales of our new
times. Take, for example, the numerous pieces about the oligarchs: They
curse them, defend them, follow their ingenious wheeling and dealing,
assess the extent of their influence on the Kremlin.... We know from
first-hand experience that we ourselves sin in this way. But being
completely in thrall to the myth that the oligarchs have bought up Russia
lock, stock, and barrel, we set about compiling a map of bought-up Russia.
The idea was very simple and elegant: To establish which of the notorious
oligarchs was the most powerful in the real sector of the economy. You can
see the results yourselves, and we hope that they surprise you no less than
they did us, because the oligarchs control to some extent or another the
activity of a very small number of enterprises! But what kind of control
is exercised over an enterprise? It is, after all, not the right of
ownership -- for this you need to own a controlling block of shares. It is
far more subtle: A "controlled" enterprise takes account, of course, of
the opinion of the bank where it keeps its money. An enterprise is, of
course, subject to a specific individual, the general director or the
president of the joint-stock company; and if that person has close links
with a banking group, then that group could be said to control the
enterprise. To a certain extent. But if the bank then crosses an
invisible line, it will simply be sent packing. So we, of course, inscribe
on the map the names of the oligarchs who "control" the plants and oil
fields, but not being openly threatening in so doing, aware that "control"
here is highly notional.
And yet another important discovery, it seems to us, was made during
work on the map. The state remains the biggest owner in Russia. It could
without undue trouble bring any oligarch to his knees. The control system
is known as the "natural monopolies": the energy system, the railroads, gas
supply, and communications. The oligarchs can successfully fight for and
achieve their own ends only when the state itself does not know its own
interests. In other words, when one part of the government wants to grab a
slice of the action and pulls in one direction, while another part, with
the same intention, pulls in completely the opposite. And there are also
quite a few people apart from the government wanting to get a piece of this
action: the Presidential Staff, the legislature, the governors at local
level.... In this melee it is not the strongest who win (no one, after
all, is stronger than the state) but the most resourceful and agile, those
who know how to turn the conflicts among the different branches and twigs
of power to their advantage. Namely, the oligarchs.
Moreover, many of the oligarchs actually own only a little, but the
hoo-ha surrounding them! Vladimir Gusinskiy, for example, has a very weak
position in the real sector of the economy, but thanks to the media
belonging to Media-Most he is able to exert a lot of influence on policy.
Boris Berezovskiy's influence does not reside in Sibneft either but in his
ability to kick open the doors of other offices in the corridor of power.
If power in Russia is unified and strong and those whom it rightfully
belongs to learn how to manage, the phenomenon of the seven bankers will be
forgotten about in a couple of months. And the oligarchs will become what
they should be -- major homegrown entrepreneurs reviving the country's
Caspian Faces Threat of Militarization
19-26 April 1998
[translation for personal use only]
Article by Sanobar Shermatova, under the heading "Undercurrent": "Is
the Caspian Threatened With Militarization?"
In February of this year Moscow made an unexpected statement that
created a new situation surrounding disputes over the legal status of the
Caspian Sea. Up until now Russia and Iran have insisted on the Caspian
being the joint possession of all the adjoining states, with each of them
having exclusive rights only to those seafloor resources located within 45
nautical miles from their shoreline. A different position suited the
national interests of Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, which felt that the sea
should be divided up into sectors and parceled out among the shoreline
states. The fifth party to the discussion — Turkmenistan —
originally supported the Russian position, but later began to incline
toward the other viewpoint. The dispute stalled and it seemed that the
question of who owned the oil wealth would remain unresolved. But
Moscow"s unexpected change in its position has opened up new
Russia has agreed to divide the seafloor into sectors if the surface
remains open to common use. What prompted Russia to make such an unexpected
change in tactics?
Various reasons have been cited. Among others, that the absence of
maritime borders would make international efforts to preserve unique
sturgeon species and other environmental protection measures more
effective. It is simpler to conduct trade over an open sea, especially
since Russia is starting work on some major projects on the Caspian. Moscow
and Teheran have signed documents establishing a joint company to build and
operate the first unit of a maritime trading port in the town of Olya,
Astrakhan Oblast. The new port"s first dock was completed in July of
last year, with the next to be built using investment funding from an
Iranian company. The main purpose of the joint venture is to increase the
volume of goods traded between Russia and Iran. The joint venture plans to
establish a regular shipping schedule between Astrakhan and the Iranian
port of Enzeli. This project is one of the ones outlined in a federal
program to revive the Russian merchant marine.
Having lost out in the battle for control over the Caspian"s
resources, Moscow is attempting to maintain optimum conditions for
commercial operations in the strategically important region. To these
explanations for the energetic movement toward definition of the Caspian
Sea"s status one could add a cautious prediction regarding prospects
for the northern route for the bulk of oil shipments. It is possible that
if the world price of oil continues to fall investors might reject the
Baku-Ceyhan pipeline as economically unjustified at a cost of $2.5-3.0
billion. If that happens, then the United States" energy and
transportation concepts for the region could be reevaluated. Thus far there
have been no clear indications that they are going to change, but at a
meeting of the ministers of energy of the world"s eight leading
countries held in Moscow the oil pipeline route from the Caspian was one of
the main topics. It is interesting to note that after the meeting interim
prime minister Sergey Kiriyenko stated that "huge progress" had been made:
the Americans are permitting the use of the Baku-Novorossiysk pipeline as
one of the principal oil transportation routes.
The price of that decision was even named: Russia must completely
abandon any joint nuclear projects with Iran. Thus far those proposals are
still just lobbying efforts, and there has been no official response.
Nevertheless, Russia continues work on a pipeline branch that will bypass
Chechnya, while Russian officials continue to tout the advantages of the
northern route. However, first the legal status of the Caspian Sea must be
One could add that plans to pump oil from Kazakhstan"s Tengiz
field to Novorossiysk, plans which Moscow considers extremely important,
have stalled over the lack of an agreement on the status of the Caspian
Sea. Taken together, all these reasons explain both the change in
Russia"s position and Russia"s desire to agree with her neighbors
about the sea. However, there is one other aspect that tipped the scales in
favor of the tactic now being employed by Moscow.
The issue of military control over the region. Recently Azerbaijan and
Georgia have signed a number of defense-related agreements with the United
States. The CIS countries, including those located in the Caspian region
and in Central Asia, are now part of a zone monitored by two out of the
United States" nine groups of forces. It has been reported that
protection of the Caspian oil pipelines will be assigned to the U.S. Air
Force base at Incirlik, Turkey. The Pentagon"s increased attention to
this region, which has now been included in the United States zone of vital
interests, is understandable. In response Moscow has stated that stronger
American positions in the Caspian region"s oil-producing areas will
not be permitted. Russia has begun creating a regional air defense command
center in Armenia that will focus on the Caspian region. According to the
TURAN news agency, this command center will gather and process information
on the situation in the airspace between the Black and Caspian seas. The
command center will also coordinate operations by Russian air defense
forces deployed in the Northern Caucasus and Armenia. Alma-Ata will be the
location of a regional command center focusing on Central Asia. There have
also been reports of pending naval maneuvers by the Caspian Flotilla in the
northern part of the Caspian Sea. As the TURAN news agency was told by
flotilla headquarters, these maneuvers will involve naval ships,
shore-based units of the flotilla, maritime border guards and rear-support
units of the Caspian Flotilla stationed in Dagestan, Kalmykia and Astrakhan
Nor are the Americans far behind. U.S. secretary of defense William
Cohen said in March of this year that American and Georgian military
personnel will begin a dialogue on control of movement in Georgian
airspace. According to an ITAR-TASS report, implementation of these
cooperation plans will involve 23 joint American-Georgian maneuvers. Cohen
stated that the United States will send two patrol craft to the Georgian
coast, and that $1,350,000 will be allocated for the acquisition of radio
communications equipment for the republic"s infantry units.
The situation in the Caspian region could change in a way not
favorable to Russia, if the surface is divided up after the seafloor.
Maritime borders have to be guarded, something that could result in
militarization of the sea.
Russia has already acquired an ally in Kazakhstan. In April presidents
Yeltsin and Nazarbayev stated that their positions coincide and announced
their intention to sign a bilateral treaty on the Caspian Sea at the CIS
summit in late April. Simultaneously Russian diplomats are actively
consulting with their Azerbaijani and Turkmen colleagues. The first round
of the struggle is nearing an end. The oil resources have been divided up.
Next come the main oil transportation routes and military control of the
Yeltsin: Russia Economy Has Gone Through Radical Reform
MOSCOW, May 15 (Interfax) - President *Boris Yeltsin* has said the
Russian economy "has gone through radical reform."
In an interview with the Guardian he said the system of planning and
distribution was fully dismantled in seven years, a new legislation and
market institutions developed practically from scrap, the forms and
mechanisms of relations between the state and economic units changed.
Yeltsin admitted that the process of radical reforms was very painful.
"Both officials and entrepreneurs had to learn in the process, largely
through trying and failing. But despite many difficulties a positive
dynamic of industrial production appeared in the second half of 1996.
Inflation does not exceed 10% a year," he said.
Yeltsin said all this should be taken into account in speaking of
Russia's problems. "No doubt there were mistakes, but they did not
determine the general situation. As for responsibility, nobody shirked
it. I think that in the long run the main responsibility for what is
happening in the country lies on the president," Yeltsin said.
"The main thing now is not to try to find out who is to blame but to
tell the new government what to do to guarantee steady and qualitative
growth," he said.
Asked about his grandson's studies in Britain and why his family chose
giving the boy an education there Yeltsin said: "As far as I know
everything is all right with Boris' studies. As for the choice of the
place of education - the decision was made by his parents. And I don't
think they regret it."
May 16, 1998
Conscripts' Dirty Deal
By Mumin Shakirov
Special to The Moscow Times
With the advent of long-awaited legislation on alternative service, it
seemed that not just Russian mothers but the whole country could at last
breathe a sigh of relief. Young men of conscription age were finally to
be given the choice of whether to take up arms or perform some peaceful
task for the good of their country.
Suddenly, though, an apple of discord appeared in the bill's text, under
Article 36, detailing "Transitional Provisions":
"In the period before 1st January 2000, up to 50 percent of citizens for
whom it was decided to replace military service with alternative civil
service may be sent to the armed forces of the Russian Federation and
other military forces, formations and bodies to fulfill defense tasks in
accordance with the federal law 'On Defense,' serving their alternative
service as civilian personnel."
The essence of the amendment, introduced by Viktor Zorkoltsevy, chairman
of the State Duma committee for public associations and religious
organizations, is that a certain proportion of Russian citizens will,
after all, be refused their constitutional right to genuine alternative
"How will the draft board determine who is or is not required to undergo
military service?" quizzed Kirill Shuliko, a leader of the
Anti-Militarist Party, in a debate held at the Andrei Sakharov Museum.
"As before, this will mean bribing and paying off military doctors and
members of the draft board to ensure yourself a place among the lucky
ones who are sent for alternative service."
The contentious Article 36 is not merely a specific legal instance, but
also a direct violation of the Russian Constitution, which stipulates
that each citizen of the country has a right to alternative service if
his religion or personal convictions prevent him from carrying out
There is no mention in the constitution of any fifty-fifty division of
eligible conscripts who apply for alternative service. Accordingly, four
Duma deputies acted on a request by the Soldiers' Mothers Committee in
demanding the modification of the article so that the words "may be
sent" are followed by the words "on a voluntary basis." In this way
potential conscripts would be spared the whims of the draft board, while
the bill would not contradict either the constitution or the reasonable
logic that alternative service would, in practice, not be much of an
Unfortunately, at hearings on the bill, these amendments were supported
by just one deputy, Galina Starovoitova, and certainly not by any member
of the Duma's defense committee.
"Why adopt such an anti-constitutional law," argued Susannna Tsaturyan,
a member of the Soldiers' Mothers Committee whose son refused his
call-up. "Better not to adopt any law, in that case. After all, it's
only a year and a half until 1st January 2000, when President Yeltsin's
1996 decree on military reform comes into effect and the entire army
switches to a fully professional basis."
However, another surprise lay in store for those becoming eligible for
military service in the coming years. Last month, deputies received an
answer to an inquiry they had addressed to then Prime Minister Viktor
In a response signed by then First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov,
the deputies were informed that: "The transition of the armed forces to
a fully professional force is being planned according to the practical
state of the economy, and in step with the creation of the structures
for the service and life of contract soldiers. This program runs through
Why Yeltsin's decree is being sabotaged is not hard to figure out. Today
there are neither the resources nor the will to implement military
reform. Moreover, generals understand that, in contrast to contract
soldiers, a conscript is a helpless creature without rights and
privileges, someone who can be readily made a slave.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we can see for ourselves that --
to the majority of Russian politicians and military brass -- a human
life seems much like a five kopek piece, negligible in value. To support
this one can cite the claim of activists that each year more than 3,000
young men in the army die as a result of illness, violence or suicide.
Many experts feel that it will only be possible to alter attitudes
toward the military if the terms of service are changed. Above all, the
length of service must be cut. In most civilized countries where
conscription continues, the term is considerably less than in Russia,
where it lasts two years.
In 1993 the term was cut to 18 months. Then, suddenly, the general staff
began to doubt the mental capabilities of Russian boys. It takes two
years to properly learn how to defend the homeland, maintained its
former commander, Mikhail Kolesnikov. But practice has shown that the
first six months are enough for anyone to learn the rudiments of
military service, while the real service occurs in the next six.
Everything after that is a waste of both human and state resources. The
"granddads," as they call those in the home stretch of their two-year
stint, are of no benefit to the army -- but it is this contingent that
is largely responsible for many problems like dedovshchina, or the
brutal hazing of new recruits.
The fight over the right to alternative service goes on. But to save the
continuing flow of conscripts from arbitrary and unprincipled
politicians and the brutality of the dedy, it is essential that service
length be reduced to one year: This should not be a major problem since
the army is being cut back intensively as it is. If traditional means
are ineffective in tackling the army's ills, untraditional ones must be
given a chance.
Mumin Shakirov is a correspondent for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
He contributed this comment to The Moscow Times.
RUSSIA'S neo-Nazis have turned to terrorism, issuing a sinister
challenge to law and order in a country already weakened by gangsters
and organised crime.
The bombing of a Moscow synagogue was the latest in a series of attacks
both in the capital and the provinces that suggests a new level of
sophistication among extremist groups. It was the most cynical and
bloodthirsty of their outrages so far. Even in a country which gave the
world the word "pogrom" the hatred motivating the bomb shocked decent
An entire wall of the Marina Roshcha Lubavitch synagogue was destroyed
by last week's blast, which also shattered windows of surrounding
buildings. There was only one minor casualty but a few minutes earlier
the synagogue was filled with children attending a special service to
mark the Jewish festival of unity. Russia proudly claims that it saved
the world from Hitler's Germany. Yet fascists, preaching Russian
national superiority and hatred of foreigners, operate with impunity in
President Yeltsin's Russia.
Many seem content to parade in black-shirted uniforms under banners
bearing emblems reminiscent of the Nazi swastika. Underground, some
groups adopt terror tactics. On the day of the Moscow bombing, a Jewish
cemetery in the Siberian city of Irkutsk was desecrated, with 149
headstones destroyed, damaged or daubed with swastikas and anti-Semitic
At the May 9 Victory Day celebrations in Moscow heavy-booted young men
with shaven heads handed out leaflets to bemedalled war veterans. They
were members of Russian National Unity (RNU), an openly neo-Nazi
organisation led by Alexander Barshakov, who was imprisoned briefly for
sending armed men to attack the Moscow television tower during the
upheavals of October 1993.
His organisation claims to have 50,000 members including many drawn from
the army and police. An estimated 1,000 attend special weapons training
courses every year near the southern city of Stavropol. There are also a
number of smaller groups with names such as the Werewolves and the Black
Such organisations do not lack funds. An RNU spokesman declined to say
who its backers were but claimed that it was supported by a number of
commercial organisations. The most striking evidence of their new-found
confidence is the growing number of attacks on people of African or
Asian descent on the streets of the Russian capital.
Earlier this month the United States embassy issued a warning to the
American community after a black marine guard was beaten up by skinheads
in a crowded Moscow market. The week before, two Asian women were also
attacked in daylight in the city centre. The incidents only came to
light because a member of the US embassy staff was among the victims,
forcing the police to become involved.
Within hours of the attack on the marine, a skinhead, Semyon Takmanov,
was arrested but not before he had gone to a radio station to boast on
air about what he had done. For the African community, many former
students who arrived on Soviet-era grants and have since been unable to
afford to return home, abuse, threats and attacks are a fact of daily
The Association of Foreign Students estimates that there are about 15
serious attacks on black people in Moscow every month. Many victims
complain that the police connive with the attackers. Within the
political establishment, many speak out against mixed marriages and
demand that Russia remain "pure". Gennady Zyuganov, the Communist Party
leader, expressed concern earlier this year about the "numbers of
non-Russians in the country's leadership", a thinly-veiled reference to
Jews in the administration.
As long as such attitudes exist in the political mainstream, the
terrorists who planted last week's bomb - and are no doubt planning
further outrages - will take heart.
Stroyev in Paris--Russia 'Genetically' Opposes NATO Growth
Paris, 13 May (AFP) -- The Russian people remained "genetically
opposed to an eastward expansion of NATO, because the Nazi invasion, which
came from the West, is still very much present in their hearts," Yegor
Stroyev, the speaker of the Russian Federation Council (upper house) and
the third highest ranking figure in the Russian state, said on Wednesday
Mr. Stroyev arrived on an official visit to France at the invitation
of his French opposite number Rene Monory on Monday. He will have talks
with Monory on Wednesday before leaving France on Thursday.
Since the end of the Cold War, "NATO, in our view, should have stopped
being a military organization and changed into a political organization
acting in partnership with the CSCE (Conference on Security and Cooperation
in Europe, set up in 1975). This would have allowed us to work together in
creating a common economic, political, and military space," Stroyev told
the France-Russia correspondents association.
"We respect the Founding Act signed by Russia and NATO, [in May 997],
but at present the West gives the impression of putting the cart before the
horse by promoting a military organization which is perceived as a serious
threat," Stroyev added.
When asked about the political situation in Russia, Stroyev said that
President Boris Yeltsin will stand again in the presidential election in
the year 2000. In his view, the constitutional provisions which prevent a
person serving more than two consecutive terms do not constitute a problem,
since they were passed "after Boris Yeltsin's first election as President"
and "because in Russia you can always change the regulations." [passage