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Johnson's Russia List
5 June 1998
[Note from David Johnson:
IMPORTANT: JRL will be off for several days. Weekend in
Massachusetts. Next: June 8.
1. Stuart Ferency: Some musing and rambling thoughts from
a JRL reader.
2. RFE/RL: Job posting.
3. Jerry Hough: Comments on current developments.
4. Journal of Commerce: Norman Levine, Dismantling Russia.
5. Komsomolskaya Pravda: Nemtsov Interviewed on Belt-Tightening
6. Christian Science Monitor: Jean MacKenzie, Cash-Cow West Has
'Got Milk' for Russia.
7. Moscow Times: Dmitry Zaks, Governor Lebed Takes Up The Reins.
8. Obshchaya Gazeta: Vsevolod Stepanitskiy, "Russia"s Nature
Preserves: Third Pogrom."
9. Reuters: Yeltsin rejects Russian parliament's land code.
10. Reuters: Russian PM says won't rush death penalty abolition.]
Date: Thu, 04 Jun 1998
From: Stuart Ferency (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: Some musing and rambling thoughts from a JRL reader
("Russia believe in yourself!")
Some musing and rambling thoughts
Solving some of Russia's problems may not solve all of them but Russians need
to recognize once again that they are capable and, in fact, do produce
products the equal to or better than Western products. In a recently ended
twenty month USAID funded project called Market Oriented Farm Support Activity
(MOFSA) centered in Vologda we sought to economically benefit our region by
exploring markets beyond the Vologda region. Earlier, the Vologda region was
famous for its dairy products. Just mention butter and quality together and
every Russian will invariably reply "Vologda butter." In MOFSA we did a blind
taste test in Moscow between Western dairy products available there and
Vologda dairy products. The testers were Russians and Westerners and we
tested kefir, butter, sour cream, tvorog and other dairy products. In every
case the Vologda products were seen as the equal or superior to the Western
Products and in the case of butter and sour cream the Vologda product was
preferred nearly three to one by Russian and foreigners over the Western
What is missing is not the production of quality but the perception of
quality. Russia needs leaders, both politically and in business, who believe
in Russia and her people. In large part the support that Lebed and others are
receiving is because they do believe in Russia.
Many of Russia's industries were privatized in chilled and not truly open
auctions and other mechanisms that led the new owners to practically inherit
those enterprises at prices far below market value. The new owners were faced
with the following choices:
a. try to get the business to survive by devoting all their energy and
reinvesting capital in a business operating in an uncertain future market.
b. sit back and pocket the cash flow and make it disappear as personal wealth,
by pretending that you are doing your all to get the business to survive,
while withholding payrolls and other payments to increase your personal cash
flow, taking that wealth out of Russian and let the business bankrupt itself.
Very few Russians now have any confidence in government. The people wanted to
believe but, they are not fools. They have seen the wealth that was held
publicly plundered by the few with the wink and assistance of government.
Firing leadership does little if the new leaders fail to take on the issues of
political corruption. That message has to come from the top. Housecleaning
is long overdue at all levels. It can be effective.
Her wealth has been plundered by the few with tragic consequence for the many.
Does not the nation of Russia have the right and obligation to recover this
lost wealth on behalf of her population regardless of location? Here again
the Lebed message plays well.
What remains to the Yelstin and other "centrist" camps is to reach the higher
calling in politics, to actually serve the interests of the people and punish
those (after holding up the mirror to themselves) whose rhetoric is of
nationalism but whose action is of "societal vandalism". The message,
"Russia believe in yourself!"
Russia has future leaders now demonstrating what is needed quietly in
provinces. In Cherepovets a real positive potential future of Russian
leadership is at work everyday. He is the mayor, Mikhail S. Stavrovsky. He
is dedicated, hard working, popular, dynamic and a person who abhors
corruption and somewhat controversial. In his first days in office he asked
the local "duma" to grant his key staffers real salaries. He and more than
one dozen key staffers receive annual salaries of $25,000 to $40,000. His
choice was the following: Let's pay staff a real wage and insist on honesty,
caring, and hard work in government service to the populace. At first the
newspapers were filled with stories of these "outrageous" salaries, especially
compared to the nearby city of Vologda where the official reported salaries
are one/tenth those of Cherepovets officials. And really positive things are
happening under Stavrovsky.
I think it that much of what is reported misses the balance of life beyond
Moscow. Much could be gained by the Russian government and some JRL writers
by spending more than a cursory visit to the provinces. There is real
potential out there.
Date: Thu, 04 Jun 1998
From: "Laura Belin" <email@example.com>
Subject: job posting
Could you please post this to JRL? Anyone who is interested should direct all
inquiries to Dawnne Robinson (contact info listed below), not to me.
Thanks in advance,
Regional Specialist: For Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (Prague, Czech
Republic): a regional specialist on Russia to write both brief and more
in-depth reports. Demonstrated expertise -- graduate education, publications
and direct experience -- in Russian affairs and reading knowledge of Russian,
required. Send or fax resume to Dawnne Robinson, RFE/RL, 1201 Connecticut
Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036 (fax: (202) 457-6974).
Date: Thu, 04 Jun 1998
From: "Jerry F. Hough" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
It is not clear what is useful to say at a time such as this. In
one of my last comments, I commented on the high number of Russians,
especially in Krasnoyarsk, who identified themselves with their region
rather than Russia. I hypothesized that this would make it hard for an
outsider such as Lebed. That obviously was wrong. The identification
with the region did not mean regionalism, but a refusal to identify with
Rossiia because of its association with the current regime. Lebed's
appeal, as I understand it, was very simple: you have been screwed,
trust me to correct things. It had a smashing success.
There is a major difference between scholarship and astrology.
There is little in my scholarship (study of past events) over 40
years that I would want to repudiate. I think it holds up well. But
the trick with being an astrologer, someone predicting the future, (as I
have certainly been more than willing to be at the same time) is either to be
Delphic or to rethink one's position. I did not rethink my position on
Gorbachev soon enough. I think that a number of supporters of the Yeltsin
regime need to at least be willing to consider new possibilities now.
Everyone agrees that Washington had a mind-set on Indian nuclear testing.
There is a danger on a mind-set on Russia.
It does seem to me that any talk of confederation or regional
disintegration needs now to be advanced with the greatest of care. I
would have thought that the probabilities are in the opposite
direction. It seems to me that it is not a coincidence that things
started happening after Lebed's victory. It seems to me that Sachs is
quite right on the financial situation, but that has been more of a
pyramid game in Russia to subsidize the big cities and political
stability. I don't see the likelihood of an easy, quiet solution.
The problem with a mind-set is that it leads to counterproductive
responses to unexpected developments. It is unfortunate that India and
Pakistan have tested atomic weapons, but the last thing we need is to
destabilize Pakistan economically. What sorts of people would come to
come to power in such a situation?
Since Lebed could presumably win any presidential election today,
one sees no need for an end to democracy today. He has not been
crazy on NATO, and the Indian and Pakistan bombs increased the
long-term interests of Russia to ally itself with the West in the
face of the Asian nuclear super-powers of the 21st century. The
Russian military understood this before--and even better
today--than civilians. Anyone who thinks Lebed is predictable and not
potentially dangerous is far more confident than I am, but if the West
overreacts to developments in Russia it will only worsen the situation.
Alan Murray of the Wall Street Journal correctly says that the Treasury
Department controlled Administration policy toward Asia. It certainly
has controlled policy toward Russia. It has shown zero appreciation of
political consequences of the ideological economic measures it has
pushed, and it would define any change in economic policy as an
abandonment of all reform.
The editorial responses of New York Times,
Washington Post, and Financial Times to the current crisis has been
truly frightening, if they are to be taken literally. (Conceivably
they are saying there should be strict conditions on Russia as a way of
saying the IMF should pull the plug.) But if they write the way they
really think about Russia, and that seems to be the case,they buy the
Treasury view of world politics. They are going to react to any change
in Russia with the greatest of alarm. But at the same time they say any
adoption by Russia of a Chinese economic model would be a disaster, they
hail the great economic and strategic success of China from the American
point of view.
Events in India, Indonesia, and Pakistan remind us that we are
not at the end of history. Such countries are going through the stage
of development as Europe a 100 years ago. The dangers of the 21st
century are if anything greater than the 20th because of the spread of
nuclear weapons, but global economic forces are going to produce
dangerous political counteractions as well as restraints. The Euro
involves the de-democratization of Europe until institutions are created
at the all-Europe level, and it threatens to be destabilizing. We need a
long-term patience that eschews ideology and economic theology and that
looks at developments in terms of decades, not years. Russia is a part
of European culture and civilization. It is at a stage of capitalism in
which high tariffs are very much in its interests. It is at a stage of
capitalism in which populist fascism is very possible but fortunately it has
an educated population with interests in capitalism. A new regime would
take political actions, economic actions, and foreign policy actions we
would not like, but that is true of most nations at all times. The
stakes would be very high, and we need to think how to make a bad
situation better, not react emotionally in a way that only worsens it.
Journal of Commerce
5 June 1998
[for personal use only]
BY NORMAN LEVINE
Norman Levine is executive director of the Institute for International
Policy in Glendale, Ariz.
When the U.S. Congress approved the entry of Poland, the Czech Republic
and Hungary into NATO, it actually signed the second Treaty of
Designed by a military cabal controlling the German Kaiser near the
close of World War I, the first Treaty of Brest-Litovsk stripped Russia
in 1918 of her territories in Poland, the Baltic states and the
As a result, Russia lost all the territory acquired through diplomacy
and war since Czar Peter the Great in the early 18th century, an
amputation of 200 years of real estate.
The Bolsheviks were eventually able to tear up the humiliation of 1918
after World War II. The Soviet conquest of Eastern and Central Europe
was in part an attempt to insure Russia would never again be victimized
by the expansion of a Western power.
Thus, the addition of Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary is not an
"expansion of NATO," but a departure in American foreign policy that
should be called the Washington-Eurasian Military Pact. The center of
American diplomacy has been moved from Berlin to Kiev and the focus is
on the Baltic, the Ukraine, the Caucasus and Central Asia.
The original intent of NATO was the defense of Western Europe, to stop
the Reds at the Elbe River. This European-based policy followed the
traditional U.S. goals in Europe because Woodrow Wilson had led the
American intervention in World War I to protect democracy in Western
The purpose of this new "Second Treaty of Brest-Litovsk" is the complete
re-orientation of American strategic planning to a Eurasian-based grand
The United States is no longer concerned about defending the Elbe
frontier, but in eventually incorporating Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and
the Ukraine in a reinvented Washington-dominated alliance.
The goal is the dismemberment of Russia.
This Eurasian-Caucasus-Central Asian grand design will unfold in several
The first stage, the inclusion of Poland, the Czech Republic and
Hungary, is merely a reverse Yalta. Just as the 1945 Yalta agreement
brought Soviet Russia to the borders of Western Europe, absorbing
Eastern Europe within the Stalinist empire, so the "Second Treaty"
brings the United States to the western boundaries of a post-Soviet
Russia, claiming Eastern Europe as a protectorate of Washington. The
second stage is already in progress since President Clinton has made it
abundantly clear that the Baltic states and Ukraine should also become
partners in this new Washington-Eurasian Military Pact.
Stage two began with the formation last year of a European-Atlantic
Partnership Council and was considered a "second-tier" to Pentagon
The EAPC gives Pentagon tacticians the opportunity to show national
interest in countries it will not, at the moment, go to war to defend,
but will nevertheless supply with weapons and advice. The EAPC includes
the Baltics and Ukraine.
In addition, the new Washington-Eurasian Military Pact has signed a
special arrangement with the Ukraine called the "Charter on a
Distinctive Partnership," another attempt to make Kiev a satellite of
In stage three, the miniaturization of Russia will be extended to the
Caucasus and Central Asia, and in these regions as well this process is
in high gear.
The bait is different in each country. In Armenia, the carrot is large
amounts of U.S. economic development money. In Azerbaijan, the promise
of a Las Vegas-size jackpot for the right to drill and pump "black gold"
out of that oil-rich country.
In Georgia, the State Department is playing off the nationalistic
paranoia of Georgian against Slav in the hope of gaining the upper hand.
The miniaturization of Russia is advancing in Central Asia where the
State Department has sent Bill Richardson, U.S. ambassador to the United
Nations, to mediate the conflict between the government of Afghanistan
and the Taliban rebels as a way of gaining leverage in that country. In
April, President Niyazov of Turkmenistan visited the White House and
received handshakes and a $750,000 gratuity in U.S. foreign aid as the
United States hopes to cut off Turkmenistan from Russia.
The dismemberment of Russia is taking place and the chief surgeon of
these multiple amputations is a foreign-policy generation that spent
most of its life in the Cold War.
Taking advantage of a patient maimed by revolution and disintegration,
the United States is preparing to turn Russia into a diplomatic
Nemtsov Interviewed on Belt-Tightening
2 June 1998
[translation for personal use only]
Interview with Deputy Premier Boris Nemtsov by Nikolay
Yefimovich; date and place not given: "Boris Nemtsov: Better To Be
Bankrupt Than Unemployed. One of the Leaders of the New Cabinet and
A Well-Known First Vice Premier in the Old Government Gives Our
Correspondent Exclusive Interview"
[Yefimovich] The president has announced that the government has
turned the situation around -- does this mean that the financial crisis is
over and the ruble has been saved from devaluation?
[Nemtsov] The most dangerous period is probably over. But the crisis
has not been overcome. In order to overcome it, we have to live within our
[Yefimovich] It is said that the financial turmoil was provoked by
three or four market players, and that Central Bank Chairman Dubinin
believes that it was simply a plot....
[Nemtsov] I have a boring theory -- the crisis was predetermined by
the gigantic state debt and huge commitments that had built up since 1960,
when Khrushchev first borrowed money to buy grain abroad.
[Yefimovich] Does that mean it's Nikita Sergeyevich's fault?
[Nemtsov] No. Every subsequent ruler increased the size of the state
debt. And a time finally came when the country's foreign and domestic debt
reached threatening proportions. As for the talk about plots.... If there
hadn't been those three or four stock market players, they would have found
[Yefimovich] Premier Kiriyenko has said that the government is
planning to make the country live within its means.
[Nemtsov] The seriousness of the current government's belt-
tightening intentions was demonstrated by the premier when he proposed
cutting spending on the Duma, the Federation Council, the Presidential
Staff, and the Comptroller's Office. To my mind, you could not be any
clearer. The savings will come to more than 500 million new rubles [R].
[Yefimovich] But that amount will not save us.
[Nemtsov] Before asking others to tighten their belts, we must begin
with ourselves. Every governor and every mayor must do the same.
[Yefimovich] Will the property of the president's Administration of
Affairs, valued at billions of dollars, continue to be a "sacred cow"?
[Nemtsov] We are directly tackling this at the moment. For instance,
a decision to sell the Dagomys complex, which is on the Presidential
Staff's books, awaits the premier's signature. A decision will also be
made on the more effective utilization of foreign property. The
authorities must earn far more revenue from their real estate. A huge
number of people make a living by leasing this property. That is why we
are currently taking an inventory of the foreign legacy inherited from the
[Yefimovich] The biggest tax defaulters -- the natural monopolies --
did not show up for the last session of the fearsome Temporary
Extraordinary Commission for Strengthening Tax and Budget Discipline. Was
it not possible to squeeze them?
[Nemtsov] It is just that they promised to pay up right down to the
last kopek. And, to their credit, they are keeping their word. Although,
of course, there is a conflict of interest -- they are trying to hang on to
their money, while we want the taxes to go into the budget. And we will no
longer try to persuade anyone. Oil companies that sell oil abroad will be
deprived of their exports as of 1 July unless they clear their arrears to
the budget. At the recent session of the Temporary Extraordinary
Commission for Strengthening Tax and Budget Discipline a decision was made
on the accelerated bankruptcy of several enterprises. Nobody is firing the
workers. It is just that new joint-stock companies where the creditors
will be shareholders are being set up. Since the state is generally the
main creditor, it will become the main shareholder. And its share can be
sold off to replenish the budget.
[Yefimovich] Nobody is buying Rosneft! Who will be bothered about
bankrupt "rayon-level" plants?
[Nemtsov] When enterprises are liquidated their debts are converted
into equity. It is important to establish a correct procedure for
determining the state's share of these enterprises. And primarily to sell
off the liquid plants. It is said that half of Russia's enterprises are
bankrupt. But there are plenty of enterprises that simply need to put
their financial house in order, to reorganize, and to stop producing things
nobody needs. This is effectively dividing up the property in the country
-- this time for money.
[Yefimovich] But won't the second wave of privatization lead to
[Nemtsov] I think the current government is devoid of predilections
for any of the magnates. Although, of course, when any financial group has
its back against the wall, they will put up fierce resistance.
[Yefimovich] Both ordinary taxpayers and wealthy ones agree on one
thing -- only suicidal people pay all their taxes in Russia, the burden is
[Nemtsov] Our income tax is one of the lowest in the world, even if
you earn R100 billion. The other taxes are no higher than in Germany, say.
The fact that the tax system itself should be simple and comprehensible is
another matter. We are currently making yet another attempt to introduce a
patent system of paying taxes for small businesses. The idea behind this
is that a fixed payment is set for the quarter or the year -- and that's
it. There are no complicated accountant's reports. Say you have a cafe or
restaurant of 200 square meters. You pay R5, say, per meter -- and that's
it. Everyone understands this system. Incidentally, more than 3 million
people filed tax returns this year. These now have to be checked. Those
who have deliberately concealed their income will have to serve time.
[Yefimovich] Is that why your draft law stipulating that people must
report purchases worth more than $14,000 has been revived in the State
[Nemtsov] State Duma deputies voted for it before, but the Federation
Council rejected it. Yet the Tax Police and inspectorates must have legal
grounds for monitoring major expenditures.
[Yefimovich] It is said that the indefatigable Aleksandr Pochinok was
removed on Anatoliy Chubays' initiative. The former head of the State Tax
Service had tried to summon the YeES Rossii [Unified Energy System of
Russia] Russian Joint-Stock Company chief to appear before the Temporary
Extraordinary Commission for Strengthening Tax and Budget Discipline.
[Nemtsov] That's not true.
[Yefimovich] Was the decision made by the president personally?
[Nemtsov] I think the prime minister was involved.
[Yefimovich] Suppose we take out another IMF loan....
[Nemtsov] It has already been allocated.
[Yefimovich] Does this mean that we are getting even further into
[Nemtsov] Whatever the jingoists may say, IMF loans are very
beneficial to Russia -- they are long-term and are issued at low rates of
Christian Science Monitor
JUNE 5, 1998
[for personal use only]
Cash-Cow West Has 'Got Milk' for Russia
•Western leaders will discuss a rescue effort next week in Paris. But
some say new loans for Moscow may only make matters worse.
By Jean MacKenzie
Special to The Christian Science Monitor
Buoyed by expectations of a Western bailout, Russia's economy is showing
some signs of stabilization, at least on the surface. But analysts are
far from optimistic, with some predicting that further loans could make
matters worse by perpetuating a shaky and corrupt system.
"Russia is right on the edge," says Edwin Dolan, president of Moscow's
American Institute of Business and Economics. "It could go either way."
Russia's fragile economy suffered a near meltdown last week, and the
government raised interest rates to astronomical levels to stave off
devaluation of the ruble and the threat of hyperinflation. The stock
market has rebounded somewhat since Monday, although it is still down
nearly 50 percent from the beginning of the year, making it one of the
world's worst-performing markets.
A government bond auction Wednesday raised nearly $1 billion, but will
not be enough to keep the economy afloat. With interest rates hovering
between 40 and 54 percent on short-term bills, some of which will mature
in just seven days, another crisis could well be brewing.
The only hope for even a temporary respite comes from the West. Next
week in Paris, the Group of Eight - the seven richest industrialized
countries plus Russia, will meet to discuss a rescue effort for Moscow.
But pumping more dollars into Russia's jittery economy will not help in
the long term, many analysts say.
"The economy has not improved, and it will not improve," says Tatyana
Matsuk of the Academy of Science's Institute for Employment Studies in
Moscow. "We have no normal investors, just speculators looking for a
fast return. Another loan will stabilize the situation for a while, but
unless there is long-term investment in production, the situation cannot
The root of the problem is not economic, but political, says Ms. Matsuk.
Given the vagaries of Russia's political system, the struggle for power
has taken, and will continue to take, precedence over hard-nosed
economic choices. The reluctance of the government to consider devaluing
the ruble is further evidence of this attitude. Mr. Yeltsin has staked
his reputation on a stable currency and low inflation. Amid signs he is
considering a third run for office in 2000, Yeltsin cannot afford to
back down. Nevertheless, "the government may be better off to bite the
bullet and devalue rather than taking on another loan," says Mr. Dolan.
Dolan does not see serious danger of a financial free-fall if Moscow is
forced to cut the value of the ruble. But the West is unlikely to want
to gamble on Russia's avoiding serious political and economic
consequences if aid is not forthcoming. Miners' strikes, reports of
rising nationalism, and the warm reception that Yeltsin and his young
reformers receive in Western political and economic circles will
probably carry the day, say analysts.
"The West gives aid, and will continue to do so, because Russia has
managed to inflate their fears," says Matsuk. "It is all part of the
political game." Government spokesmen have insisted that Russia has not
requested further emergency loans from the West, and say the Kremlin
will announce a new borrowing program early next week. Last September,
Yeltsin announced with great fanfare that the current $10 billion loan
from the International Monetary Fund, a $670 million installment of
which is due to be released later this month, would be the last.
Russia had long pushed for expanding the former Group of Seven into the
"G-8," and won full inclusion in the May summit in Birmingham, England.
But the financial crisis will not help Russia's international image.
"There is no G-8," says one Western observer, who declined to be
identified. "Just look at the current situation."
June 5, 1998
Governor Lebed Takes Up The Reins
By Dmitry Zaks
Alexander Lebed will be sworn in Friday as governor of Krasnoyarsk in a
lavish ceremony that would make a monarch proud.
The self-assured, chain-smoking general will be blessed by Bishop Antony
and serenaded by pop diva Alla Pugachyova, who is in town for a special
performance. The International Monetary Fund, World Bank and Kremlin
officials have all been invited to Siberia to revel in Lebed's success.
But then comes the tricky bit.
After the lights dim and the guests go home, Lebed will be staring at
the greatest obstacle yet in his stop-start campaign to capture the
Kremlin in the 2000 presidential elections.
First, he quickly needs to forge a working government out of a regional
administration that for months fought tooth and nail to keep him out of
Lebed must also draft an economic plan that will spell success for the
financially struggling but resource-rich slice of Siberia, which is
one-fourth the size of the United States.
Should he fail, Lebed's political career might be stuck forever in the
Siberian mud. And he has many political detractors, each with their own
eye on the Kremlin, who wish him just that. So, is the general nervous?
"This was just a warm-up," Lebed dead-panned in an interview at his
Krasnoyarsk hotel a few days after his landslide May 17 election win
over the incumbent governor, Valery Zubov.
"You'd be surprised to learn how many bankers and State Duma deputies
called me up or sent me telegrams, saying how happy they were that I won
and how they would love to work with me," he said. "I've made lots of
new friends in the past few days, and I wasn't even trying."
With the campaign over, Lebed cracked open a pack of smokes and lit up,
forgetting all about his trademark white cigarette holder, which he
always used when television cameras were around.
"Many of these people didn't like me all that much. But now they do. I
know how to change people," Lebed said, breaking into a grin.
In fact, Lebed right now is in limbo, stuck halfway between his old
circle of aides -- composed mostly of tough, old-school soldiers -- and
a group of young Moscow entrepreneurs and spin doctors he picked up
during his brief 1996 stint as a Kremlin security adviser.
As Lebed and the Krasnoyarsk business and government elite hammer out a
working relationship, these two camps inside Lebed's team are battling
it out among themselves for the right to the general's ear.For now, the
young camp is winning. Lebed's entire Moscow team, including his
economic adviser -- a middle-aged businesswoman who says she works with
banks -- is in Krasnoyarsk for the inauguration. And they expect to stay
"My chief duty right now is to lose all those men in uniform that Lebed
used to trust so much," said Vladimir Yakushenko, Lebed's media adviser
and one of his closest aides.
Yakushenko, a former drummer with the groundbreaking Soviet rock band
Avtograf, said there are serious tensions now.
"It's not that we have fistfights with the old guys. But when I first
walked into Lebed's Krasnoyarsk headquarters, I was met with silence and
some evil glares."
Lebed must also figure out how to deal with the hundreds of local
bureaucrats who had grown comfortably used to the five-year Zubov
Zubov said all of his deputies will continue to work in the Krasnoyarsk
"But they say they will work with Lebed only so long as he continues
with my reforms," Zubov said Thursday at a Moscow news conference. "If
Lebed uses our region's resources for his own benefit, my people will
Zubov said he does not wish Lebed ill. But he does not expect Lebed to
succeed, and he is not certain that the local parliament -- where
Lebed's party has a small faction -- will work with the new governor.
"His base of support was so amorphous. It will be very difficult for him
to figure out what his new government will look like," Zubov said.
Nor is he convinced that Lebed has any clear understanding of economic
"Not once in the past two weeks has he or anyone else on his team asked
us which parts of the budget are in debt, or which banks hold which
regional accounts, and so on," Zubov said. "That concerns me."
Lebed has never managed anything much larger than an army of young
He plans to try something of a three-pronged attack in his first weeks
on the job. He promises to root out corruption and use his connections
to bring Moscow and foreign investors to Krasnoyarsk. He also has a plan
to resettle pensioners and the unemployed from the region's struggling
towns near the Arctic Circle.
And he is working on his image, trying on a more user-friendly approach.
"I've been softening him up a little bit," Yakushenko said. "Lebed has
proved to be very intelligent. He learns quickly."
Lebed's political enemies -- and even some of his financiers during the
Siberian campaign -- are less sure that Lebed will ever shed his
tough-guy image and mentality.
So, they are preparing a back-up plan, just in case.
Anatoly Bykov, the deputy head of the local KrAZ aluminum factory who
openly supported Lebed, is the chief sponsor of a bill that would take
powers away from the new governor. It would, if passed, allow the local
legislature to name the region's prime minister.
Boris Berezovsky, a media and oil tycoon who also financed Lebed, said
days after the vote that "Lebed would be very dangerous if he were
elected the president of Russia."
Berezovsky's comments might only mean that the billionaire wanted to
shed his image of being the prime Moscow sponsor of Lebed's political
career. He flew to Krasnoyarsk late Thursday for Lebed's inauguration,
and expressed his willingness to help Lebed tackle the region's
problems, Interfax reported.
Perhaps of more concern to the general is the recent appointment of
Krasnoyarsk city Mayor Pyotr Pimashkov to a Kremlin council overseeing
regional affairs. Some see this as an effort by the presidential
administration to keep close tabs on Lebed.
Still, if Lebed feels the deck might be stacked against him, he is
keeping a strict poker face.
"They are only nervous," he said. "People in Moscow know that their time
will soon come."
Nature Preserves Seen on Verge of Collapse
Obshchaya Gazeta, No. 17
30 April-6 May 1998
[translation for personal use only]
Article by Vsevolod Stepanitskiy: "Russia"s Nature Preserves: Third Pogrom"
Today the authorities remember nature preserves only when the prime
minister has to go to the United Nations with another ecological report, or
it is necessary to make a national report on the state of the environment.
A third alternative--when a distinguished foreign guest expresses the
desire to visit areas famous all over the world. As soon as guests leave
and the UN session ends, the authorities remember that there are other,
more important matters in the country. Thus we risk being on the sidelines
of modern life. Today the whole world talks ever more persistently about
so-called "stable development." From time to time Russia also pretends that
it actively participates in these talks about a search for a compromise
between the biosphere and civilization and about the need to find a balance
between them in the third millennium.
A special protection of untouched islets of wild nature as a single
ecological body is a mandatory condition for "stable development." In
Russia nature preserves are the basis for such a body and our country is
especially endowed with such territories. This is our pride, not
misfortune. Nothing like this remains anywhere in the world. Not for
nothing was the prestigious international status of a "UNESCO biosphere
reserve" conferred on 21 native nature preserves. Another five fell under
the jurisdiction of the Convention on the Protection of the World Cultural
and Natural Heritage. Another 10 are included in the so-called Ramsar
Convention on Wetlands of International Importance. Proceeding from the
uniqueness and exceptional value of many of our lands, we do not have the
right to abdicate responsibility to all mankind.
However, the denouement of the drama called destruction of
Russia"s state nature preserves is being played now, in the middle of
1998, before our eyes. Beginning at the end of the 1980"s their
financing has become increasingly worse year after year and in the last
five years has decreased 20-fold (!). The Ministry of Finance has just
announced the allocation as of 1 April of money only for wages. Instead of
the 10 million rubles planned by the 1998 budget, this will be 7.7 million.
What is interesting is that the difference will not be reimbursed.
Everything was presented not as deferred payments and, consequently, budget
indebtedness, but simply as outright sequestration.
Today the maximum salary of a nature preserve director (no one has a
higher one) is 600 rubles. The combined wages of workers in all Russian
nature preserves amount to a little more than 28 million. All this is a
real disaster for us. We cannot reduce personnel any more, they have
already been cut to the bare minimum. Only "crazy" enthusiasts have
remained in the system. In all 5,000 people work at 99 nature preserves
(1.5 percent of the country"s territory, or more than 32 million
hectares of virgin land), including guards (approximately 3,000 people). I
would like to note that for such a country as ours 5,000 is just a drop in
the ocean. At the same time, the Ministry of Finance is stopping the
financing of the nature preserves" material outlays. This means that
there will be no money for the payment for municipal services, the purchase
of gasoline and special work clothing, the leasing of air transport, and so
Foreign grants are becoming increasingly fewer--this has been the
characteristic trend in recent years. The share of Western foreign
charitable funds makes up 4.5 percent. True, how much can they support us
without a tangible return? The role of domestic sponsors is negligible. In
1997 they allocated about 2 billion in "old" [rubles] (this is
approximately 3 percent of the "nature preserve" budget).
Of course, nature preserves earn something on their own, but these are
paltry sums. And not a way out of the situation. All over the world nature
preserves are under state patronage. This is fundamental. Such systems
cannot be self-supporting, nowhere in the world are they oriented toward
profit-making. The famous system of U.S. national parks is an example. It
replenishes only 10 percent of its budget from tourism revenues. Ninety
percent comes from direct government (70 percent) and regional subsidies.
The "generous" Ministry of Finance headed by Mr. Zadornov persistently
proposes that "extrabudgetary sources" be used. However, where do we get
them? I do not know. Nor does the Ministry of Finance know. This means that
the state openly and cynically continues to count on the exploitation of
our people"s superenthusiasm. However, does bare enthusiasm make
everything possible? For example, today our protection services have
extensive rights and broad police functions. It is assumed that these 3,000
people with arms should risk their lives and health in the not easily
accessible taiga, tundra, mountains, and at night—one to one with
bandits... And everything for 200 to 300 rubles? And this today, when there
is criminal lawlessness in the country, when in connection with the
population"s total impoverishment and the rise in unemployment people
are beginning to live from rivers and forests, preferably forestry
reserves, where living things are preserved... The guards" functions
are to put a stop to resistance (there are constant armed incidents at
nature preserves), to be able to detain bandits, to disarm them, to process
documents, and not to overlook the evidentiary material for investigation.
Today under such working conditions it is impossible to pay guards much
less than militia workers and to demand the same return.
Today the results of our guards" work are not impressive. In 1997
they transferred materials on 63 criminal cases to law-enforcement bodies.
But only seven people were brought to responsibility by court judgments!
The reason: guards" errors in the collection of evidentiary material.
Cases fall apart, because initial investigative actions were not carried
out in a high-quality manner. With their wages nature preserves cannot
invite highly professional guards.
I would like to recall an incident in the early 1980"s. At that
time in the Caucasian nature preserve poachers fired upon four bison. There
was a big scandal, it was an extraordinary event on a Union scale. A
feature article "Wolves on a Helicopter" was published in Pravda and the
procuracy got involved. There was a notorious criminal case and a trial.
Everyone was found and exposed... At the end of the 1990"s firing at
bison either from the shoulder or from a helicopter is a commonplace
situation. There will be not even a brief notice in the rayon newspaper.
Today dozens of nature preserves are on the verge of collapse, but the
press is silent.
We are present at a pogrom of nature preserve management in Russia. It
will be the third in a row.
The first time it occurred in 1951, by Stalin"s personal
directive (decree "On Preserves," in accordance with which 88 nature
preserves were closed and their area was reduced 10-fold). Immediately
after Stalin"s death on the initiative of leading scientists the
restoration of the nature preserve system began. The second time, in 1961,
when Khrushchev signed the decree on the closing of 16 nature preserves.
Both pogroms had serious consequences. First, with the transfer to economic
authority many nature preserve areas were lost. Second, the restoration
required many more funds than those instantly saved.
Here is the epilogue of the drama. The question of the transfer of
nature preserves to the authority of regions has begun to be actively
discussed in recent weeks. However, this is just the same as transferring
the Hermitage to municipal authorities.
What is to be done?
First, to stop sequestering the budget, which is paltry as it is. The
country will not be saved by this, but nature preserves will be ruined
completely. Second, to provide urgent financial assistance to federal
nature preserves from the resources of the government reserve fund. Third,
to ensure financial support for nature preserves in 1999 as the priority
direction in the activity of the Federal Ecological Fund. Fourth, to
envisage in the 1999 draft budget reasonable needs of the system of state
Now, about Russian paradoxes. The opening of new nature preserves was
the answer of our few enthusiasts to repressions on the part of the
authorities. From 1992 through 1998 24 were established. The total area was
increased by one-third. The reason is simple: Simple people see WHAT must
be done if we do not want to ruin natural property.
The author is chief of the Administration of Nature Preserve
Management of the State Committee on Ecology. He is 38 years old. He
graduated from the Faculty of Geography of the Moscow Pedagogical
Institute. He is an alumnus of the famous--and oldest in the
country--young naturalist circle at the Moscow Zoo. He worked at the
Magadanskiy nature preserve and fish protection bodies. Since 1989 he has
worked at state nature protection bodies of the USSR and the RF. He has
been in his present post since 1991.
Yeltsin rejects Russian parliament's land code
MOSCOW, June 4 (Reuters) - Russian President Boris Yeltsin on Thursday
rejected a new land code approved by both houses of parliament which he says
blocks the creation of a free market.
A Kremlin statement said Yeltsin had written to the heads of both chambers to
say he could not sign the code because it failed to include changes he had
The lower house State Duma, dominated by the Communists, strongly opposes the
free sale of agricultural land, fearing it will lure speculators into the
The latest code, approved by the Duma and the upper house Federation Council,
was drawn up after Yeltsin and the parliament agreed in a compromise move to
dump an earlier version that similarly restricted the free sale of land.
He has made clear he will not sign any code unless it has provisions for free
``I am returning without scrutiny the land code submitted to the president of
the Russian Federation for signing,'' Yeltsin said in his letters to Duma
speaker Gennady Seleznyov and Federation Council speaker Yegor Stroyev.
Most agricultural land, which formerly belonged to Soviet collective farms,
has been shared out among Russian farmers but they are not allowed to sell or
Yeltsin says lack of clarity about land ownership discourages farmers from
investing money and labour in their land and hampers the government's efforts
to make the sector more efficient.
In a bid to calm parliament's fears, Yeltsin has promised to come up with
legislation this year barring the use of farmland for non-agricultural
purposes, as well as to ensure full disclosure of land deals and reduce the
risk of speculative transactions.
He has said the land market would be under strict state ownership and be
subject to a number of restrictions, including a ban on sales to foreigners.
Russian PM says won't rush death penalty abolition
PARIS, June 4 (Reuters) - Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko said on Thursday he
was personally convinced that Russia would eventually abolish capital
punishment but said he would not rush into it in the face of popular
``We definitely have to get there, to the prospect of abolishing the death
penalty. But...Russian society is not ready for the immediate abolition of the
death penalty,'' he told a news conference in Paris on his first foreign trip
since taking office in March.
``I do not doubt for a moment that it is our goal and that we will get there.
But I'm not about to rush into it.''
Russia is bound under the terms of its accession to the Council of Europe
human rights body in February 1996 to scrap capital punishment by next year.
But although President Boris Yeltsin introduced a moratorium on executions
after the last person was shot in August 1996, the Communist-led parliament
has made it clear it will not vote a formal abolition. Many legislators argue
the death penalty is needed to fight mounting violent crime.
International human rights group Amnesty International said earlier this week
it was concerned that the Russian government's commitment to abolition was
Kiriyenko, like his new justice minister who was quoted voicing similar
sentiments last week, did not make clear whether he thought executions should
re-start for the hundreds of Russians still on death row or whether the
informal moratorium should be continued indefinitely.