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Johnson's Russia List
24 July 1998
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Martine Self: JRL - some questions. (DJ: Let me endorse
Martine Self's request for exploration of some of the more
positive aspects of today's Russia. Or at least the
presentation and discussion of constructive proposals for
what to do about the many problems.)
2. Jenni Bennett: Re, 2271-Mike Snow's "The One" (Russian women).
3. Bloomberg: U.S. Vice President Gore Praises Russian Reform Plan.
4. AP: Gore Draws Up Russia Summit Plans.
5. Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Dmitri Gornostayev, GORE ON A FACT-FINDING
MISSION IN MOSCOW. Washington May Force Moscow into Making Serious
Economic and Political Concessions in Exchange for IMF Loan.
6. Moscow Times editorial: IMF Makes Right Moves In Russia.
7. Boston Globe: David Filipov, Strike at atom arms center highlights
8. Los Angeles Times: Levon Marashlian, No Easy Solutions to Resolve
Long-Standing Caucasus Conflict. Nagorno-Karabakh: Any compromise that
the Armenians can accept is limited by geography.
9. The Times (UK): Michael Binyon, Washed-out Yeltsin under holiday
10. Komsomolskaya Pravda: Paper Derides Yeltsin U-Turn, Apology for
11. Komsomolskaya Pravda: Duma Faction Leaders' Vacation Plans Noted.
12. Reuters: Lebed raises spectre of nuclear break-up.
13. Interfax: Lebed 'Confident' of Pending Civil War in Chechnya.]
From: "Martine Self" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: JRL - some questions
Date: Fri, 24 Jul 1998
Thank you for a most interesting list. It is a revelation for this
particular new arrival in Russia and very recent subscriber to the list.
However, all I read about is doom and gloom. Surely there must be some
good news to report. Perhaps that might help to balance the list? It
appears that the Western media only seeks to report what appears to be
Okay, things are bad, but there must be some good somewhere?
It would be interesting to see what readers of this list propose as
solutions instead of simply listing the problems at hand.
Would it be correct to view developments in Russia within the context of
a Renaissance scenario? All births are difficult (I can vouch for that).
Ok, the baby's born, but its only at the sitting stage and keeps falling
over, while we 'adults' in the West are expecting it to join us in a game
of volleyball. No wonder we're disappointed when this doesn't happen.
Methinks it boils down to a case of misplaced or inappropriate
I would also like to ask (while begging forgiveness for my lack of academic
economics grounding) why it seems that the question of controlling capital
flight does not emerge? Has it done so in the past? Is it not a good option
given economic realities? Would it not stem the tide of capital drainage
from the country? Would it dampen investor enthusiasm?
Similar programs are in place in Africa which suffers from seemingly
identical problems ie corruption, crime and a one-step-forward-two-
steps-backward syndrome. I cannot say offhand if these have helped
but just consider the estimated $40billion (ex-Russia) that lies in Swiss
bank vaults as well as the $11billion spent last year, I think, on foreign
travel by Russians.
That adds up.
There is also the fact of 'people power' (NB: Berlin Wall; Prague). I find
it difficult to believe that trades unions do not represent their members.
That's a contradiction in terms.
Surely if they are inept, new trades unions will spring up in their place?
We are faced with a incontrovertible 'law of life' in this context:
situations will only continue to exist if they are allowed to do so. Why are
they allowed to?
Are we talking sophisticated slavery?
Are there any IMF readers on the list? Is it within their public relations
remit to seek to justify their conditions attached to their loans and
thereby shed light on the apparent anomalies therein? It seems as if we
just get to hear the other side of the story ie. the reactions to their
Date: 23 Jul 1998
From: "Jenni Bennett-IDN" <Jenni.Bennett@extott08.x400.gc.ca>
Subject: 2271-Mike Snow's "The One"
In response to Mike Snow's "The One" article from the Moscow News 1993:
Interesting observations on Russian women; but show a little compassion!
Snow describes Russia as the best place on earth for women?! Bojshe moye!
He commented himself on the horrible inequalities women have to face in the
Russian patriarchical society. When he mentioned how a good man a hard to
find in Russia (allowing the men to act like the "spoiled beautiful women"
in the West), he failed to discuss how hard Russian women have to work to
support themselves and their families without really having any real power
in society in order to change things. Although Russian women are very
well-educated and many have professional careers, they don't exactly hold
the positions of power in the state. Whenever I'm impressed with Tatianya's
role as presidential advisor, I remember that it's her job in Russian
society to take care of her aging, sickly and at times, drunken father.
There is a lack of a women's movement in Russia that can well-represent the
plight of women, mothers and wives. Except of course the Soldiers' Mothers
who helped end the war in Chechnya. But let's get back to the "risks of
dating in Russia"...
I feel SO sorry for all the foreign men (especially Americans) who can
only find virgins, wives or golddigging harlots (as Snow basically describes
them) when they head off to Russia to find themselves a good woman. They
are actually a lot of good, single women in Russia who are over 21, but they
happen to be single mothers struggling to survive after they're deadbeat,
alcoholic husbands take off or are thrown out. These women work constantly,
usually at unglamourous jobs to say the least, and do all the housework only
to sleep on the living room couch at night while they're son/daughter gets
the only bedroom (I never met a large Russian family - usually there's only
1 or 2 kids - the marriage never seems to last much longer or to be stable
enough to have big families). Maybe I'm off the mark, I didn't spend that
much time in decadent Moscow when I lived in Petersburg in early 1996, but
if you want to understand the young women of Russia, you have to understand
what kind of life is in ahead of them. The movies "Moscow Doesn't Believe
in Tears" and "Adam's Rib" offer rather accurate depictions of the lives of
Snow's observations are more like a guide to the do's and don't's of
dating in Russia. I'm sorry, I don't have much sympathy for frustrated
Western men who aren't able to find a nice little "lapdog" who will adore
them, look beautiful and never leave their side. I really don't trust their
intentions, and obviously, Russian women don't either. They're not stupid,
they're desperate to improve their lives. It is not a new phenomenon for
women to try to take advantage of men of higher economic standing in order
to better their own lot; it's been happening for centuries. However, it's
very seldom that such a coup ever makes the women that much happier.
I don't see the problem as Russian women being promiscuous and "disloyal"
in order to serve other purposes, but it's the fact that they are not
speaking out against the system in order to broaden their opportunities that
bothers me. Lack of feminism indeed. It wasn't the chauvinism that struck
me, but the complacency of the women who accepted and promoted the gender
Unfortunately, there are a lot of women who use their sexuality to get
places. But look where they end up, as sex slaves in a foreign country or
working the same street that they practice medicine on (an exaggeration, but
you get the point). Of course it's an economic problem, everything is, but
Russian women have to stop accepting their role as second-class citizens who
are actually the backbone of Russian society who do so much of the work and
raise all the children. Not all young women in Russia are promiscuous
either, I'd say that they are very traditional, moral, dependable, and think
that they need a man's protection in order to survive. The ironic thing
is, Russian women often suffer worse because of Russian men. Russian men
can be gallant and caring, and chauvinistic and cruel all at the same time.
No wonder Russian women are interested in foreign men, the grass is always
But take a good look at your sensitive-selves, the Western "heroes" who
come to rescue Russia's damsels in distress. Sounds more like to me that
you are trying to take advantage of them as much if not more than Russian
women are trying to take advantage of you. So you seem frustrated that
things aren't going your way on the romantic front?... no sympathy from me.
If you really cared about the lives of Russian women, you might be more
willing to give up the bikes, VCR's and stereos and stay and marry your
girlfriends and build a life together, sharing the housework and the
responsibilities of raising the children (like you are being brainwashed to
do in the West) and ultimately provide a good example to men and women alike
in Russia of what life can be like. Mind you, if you stay and live like a
Russian you might be driven to drink too, but then again, why do the men
have to be the weak ones who succumb to alcohol while the women hold down
the fort? It's just a question.
Jenni Bennett (presently working on contract with Foreign Affairs in Canada
and later as a NATO intern in Moscow)
U.S. Vice President Gore Praises Russian Reform Plan
Moscow, July 24 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Vice President Al Gore said the Russian
government's program to boost tax collection and narrow the budget deficit can
help produce sustainable economic growth.
``Change is always difficult -- especially constructive change,'' Gore said
after meeting with Russian Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko. ``I am impressed
by their commitment to reform.''
Gore and Kiriyenko signed several agreements, including a new U.S.-funded
program to help create jobs for Russian nuclear scientists. They also signed
an agreement on conversion of plutonium to a source of electricity for Russia.
``Unless we make we make the right choices now, there could be trouble in the
future,'' Gore said.
Gore came to Moscow after the International Monetary Fund approved a $4.8
billion loan to bolster Russian central bank reserves and avert a ruble
devaluation. Future loans, the IMF said, are contingent on Russia boosting tax
collection and ease a cash crunch that has left it struggling to meet more
than $1 billion in debt payments a week.
Kiriyenko said he's certain the government can implement the tax measures even
though many were imposed by executive order and rejected by the lower house of
parliament, the Duma. That body's Chairman, Gennady Seleznyov, has said
there's no need to convene an extraordinary session in August to consider
measures deputies haven't approved.
``Everything that was not passed in the laws was passed in decrees and
government orders and will take effect on Aug. 1,'' Kiriyenko said. ``We will
do everything we can to realize this program.''
Gore said what's important is Kiriyenko's commitment to press ahead with
reforms ``one way or another.''
The Bank of Russia today lowered a benchmark interest rate to 60 percent from
80 percent to help reduce government borrowing costs and boost the economy.
The government expects the economy to contract 0.5 percent this year, after
earlier forecasting growth of between 1 percent and 2 percent.
Kiriyenko said the government's revenue-raising program will be implemented to
help the Russian economy, not to please international lenders who have pledged
$22.6 billion in loans for Russia this year and next.
``Reforms aren't done for somebody because they are promised to the IMF or
anyone else,'' he said. ``They are done for one's self, for internal use. No
other economic way exists.''
Gore and Kiriyenko also discussed Russian and U.S. efforts to overcome the
effects of Asia's economic crisis.
The two leaders, who will co-chair the U.S.-Russian Joint Commission on
Economic and Technological Cooperation, also discussed preparations for U.S.
President Bill Clinton's planned September visit to Russia.
Gore came to Moscow after visiting Kiev, where he told Ukrainian officials
they must work harder to strengthen the nation's finances if they hope to get
more than $2 billion in IMF loans.
The trip, a rare foray for Gore into international issues, is part of the
Clinton administration's efforts to give the vice president more
responsibilities and international visibility before the 2000 campaign begins.
Gore Draws Up Russia Summit Plans
By MAURA REYNOLDS
July 24, 1998
MOSCOW (AP) - Vice President Al Gore and Russian Prime Minister Sergei
Kiriyenko drew up plans today for a presidential summit that is likely to take
place in a little more than a month.
It was Gore's first meeting with Kiriyenko since he became prime minister
earlier this year, and the vice president said he was impressed.
``In a very short period of time he has established a full command of the
facts,'' Gore said at a news conference. ``I'm impressed with his program. ...
We're off to a great start.''
The leaders' main task was to set the agenda for a Moscow summit between
President Clinton and Russian leader Boris Yeltsin, planned for the end of
August or early September.
However, the two sides also discussed two topics of long-term concern to the
United States: the spread of Russian missile technology to Iran, and Russia's
long-stalled ratification of the START II arms reduction treaty.
``There have been flows of technology from Russia and elsewhere and we're
trying to shut off those flows of technology (to Iran),'' Gore told NBC-TV
Gore later called Yeltsin to discuss the summit and to praise his speech at
the recent funeral of Nicholas II, Russia's last czar who was executed by the
Bolsheviks 80 years ago.
``I thought (the speech) was very eloquent and I congratulate you on your
statesmanship and leadership,'' Gore told Yeltsin, who is vacationing in
Gore and Kiriyenko also signed two agreements.
One would set up a program to address the problems of Russia's ``defense
cities'' - isolated research communities that are having trouble making their
way in the new economy. The agreement would include U.S. funding and know-how
for converting such facilities to civilian use and finding new jobs for their
The second agreement would provide U.S. funding for a new plant to reprocess
plutonium from Russian nuclear weapons into fuel for power plants. The plan is
designed to prevent nuclear materials from getting into the wrong hands.
The two sides also discussed funding for joint space programs, which have been
delayed by Russia's cash problems. Gore won a promise from the Russians to
find the money to fulfill its obligations to the international space station,
whose launch has been pushed back to November, said Yuri Koptev, head of
Russia's space agency.
>From RIA Novosti
July 23, 1998
GORE ON A FACT-FINDING MISSION IN MOSCOW
Washington May Force Moscow into Making Serious Economic and
Political Concessions in Exchange for IMF Loan
By Dmitri GORNOSTAYEV
Today's visit by US Vice-President Albert Gore is likely
to become the most unique one in the history of close contacts
between the two countries. Gore usually came to Moscow for one
and the same purpose--to co-chair the inter-governmental
Russian-US commission on economic and technological
cooperation. It was not merely the aim but an aim by itself in
the beginning, and the main characters were Mr. Gore and Mr.
Viktor Chernomyrdin. Later (following suit with their bosses)
they started calling each other "Albert" and "Viktor
Stepanovich" (Gore was very proud that he had learnt to
pronounce the full name of his Russian colleague). Few people
could imagine that with presidential elections still two years
away both in Russia and in the US, this nearly idyllic picture
(their relations were more idyllic than the relations at the
summit level), when the word combination "Gore-Chernomyrdin
commission" became almost an idiom, may change.
A little bit different meaning started to be imparted to
Gore's visits to Moscow and Chernomyrdin's to Washington or
New York, especially, by Americans. This largely happened
because of President Boris Yeltsin's illness. In autumn 1996,
a high-ranking US diplomat said that all ties with the Russian
leadership went only through Chernomyrdin. Americans, in
principle, were quite calm.
Today Gore is slightly confused. The commission is being
removed to the background and its session is postponed to the
very end of the year. Gore this time pursues two aims in
Moscow, and both are of a fact-finding nature: one is to meet
with his friend and presidential contender who has a pretty
good chance to be elected and the other is to find out what
Sergei Kiriyenko is and how to deal with Russia now that he is
the head of government.
There is one more material detail to all this, namely,
the decision of the IMF Board of Governors to issue Russia the
first tranche of its loan program in the amount of $4.8
billion. It is common knowledge that the US is in fact the
main governor of the funds, as it contributes lump sums of
money to the IMF, and the funds transfer decisions largely
depend on US Congress. The Clinton Administration's influence
on the latest IMF decision was quite strong, if not decisive.
But the US executive branch has thereby found itself in a very
strange situation: while making the IMF issue money to Russia,
Bill Clinton did not do the same with regard to his own
Congress. Although the issue at hand is different sums,
physically, there is a very close connection. Congress remains
stubborn on the issue: the House Republican majority leader,
Richard Armey, has said in the most unambiguous terms that the
legislators will seriously trim the sum asked by the
Administration as a contribution to the IMF ($18 billion) and
set forth a number of conditions for the bet. Mr. Armey's
determination has not been shaken even by the fact that the
Senate commission which handles this matter yesterday
recommended that the money be given to the IMF.
This bears to show that it was very difficult for Clinton
to find money for Boris Yeltsin: he had to promise something
to his own legislators. And in this case it is the easiest way
to make his Russian friend, who now owes him (if not
materially but at least morally), pay the bet. However,
according to some information which could not be verified, the
Russian President has prepared some small change. A source
close to the State Department leadership told this
correspondent some details of a recent telephone conversation
between Yeltsin and Clinton. This source (who has not heard
the conversation with his own ears, so his remarks are in the
conditional mood) hinted that in exchange for the IMF loan
Moscow should make a number of foreign policy concessions,
namely: to bring its position on sanctions against Iraq as
much closer to the US stand as possible (that is, to stop
working for the early lifting of the sanctions); to agree to
the Baku-Dzhaihan route for the Caspian oil pipeline and cool
down the activities of its oil companies in Latin America,
which is the main market in which Washington buys oil. The
American source expressed his personal opinion that all this
might be followed by changes in Russia's foreign policy
leadership, as the present line pursued by Foreign Minister
Yevgeny Primakov, which is aimed to protect the country's
national interests, contradicts the concept which Washington
offers Moscow in exchange for the "sure remedy" IMF loan.
This version looks rather fantastic, especially, because
Primakov's positions are so strong that he can not only keep
his post but even persuade the President into rejecting such
rapacious conditions if, of course, they have been set forth
in precisely such a form. Yeltsin, however, remains an
unpredictable person. This was vividly borne out by
Against this background, Gore's present visit to Moscow
is, in a broad context, just a link in a chain of relations
that swiftly overcome stagnation caused by the delay of the US
President's visit to the Russian Federation by a whole year.
It is true that the situation may not develop to our
advantage. Gore's telephone conversation with Yeltsin, who is
on vacation in Karelia, is much more significant than his
talks with Kiriyenko, and his meeting with Chernomyrdin will
prove to be even more significant. Gore is contender No. 1 to
the next presidency in the US, and his old friend would be the
most suitable Russian partner for him. If it is true that we
will have to make political concessions for the IMF loan, it
is the future President that will have to handle the
consequences of this deal, because no one will be able to hold
the current President responsible for the decisions he makes
July 24, 1998
EDITORIAL: IMF Makes Right Moves In Russia
The International Monetary Fund did the right thing by approving a $4.8
billion loan, and only a $4.8 billion loan, for Russia this week.
The decision was made against a backdrop of almost unprecedented
political criticism of the fund -- not just the usual criticism from
left-wing politicians in Russia, but also much more formidable attacks
from the right wing of U.S. politics.
Right-wingers question why the U.S. taxpayers, who largely bankroll the
IMF, should have to foot the bill for Russia's troubles.
In particular, they ask why the U.S. government through the IMF should
take on the "moral hazard" of investing in Russia. In other words, why
should the IMF bail out the stupid private investors who have lent
Russia money. If it turns out that Russia cannot repay them, then they
will just have to take a loss.
The argument continues that loans do nothing to encourage reform in
Russia. The IMF has been giving Russia money for a while, but is the
country any better off? All too often the IMF has been a sucker to
special pleading by the Russian government, which blackmails the West
with the threat of a communist revanche but then fails to mend its own
These arguments have some validity, but the IMF has so far taken account
of them in its handling of the crisis.
The IMF has no business taking on the moral hazard of private investors
who foolishly put money into Russia. But it does have a genuine role as
the central banker, or lender of last resort, to the global financial
Countries with fundamentally sound economies can face bankruptcy because
of market panic. With support, they can be saved. It is a tough call,
but the IMF has quite rightly judged that Russia is such a case.
This leads to the second issue. Has the IMF encouraged reform? The
Moscow Times in this space six months ago encouraged the IMF to give
Russia immediate support. The IMF delayed and, as it turned out, quite
correctly. The proof is that it has forced real fiscal reform on Russia.
Taxes have been increased, and structural changes are under way.
But what will stop Russia backsliding now that the IMF has approved the
loan? Once again, the IMF seems to have got it about right. By limiting
the size of its loan this week to only $4.8 billion, $800 million less
than expected, the IMF has warned Russia that its largess will stop if
reforms do not continue. It is a good way to keep Russia on a knife
24 July 1998
[for personal use only]
Strike at atom arms center highlights Russian unrest
By David Filipov
MOSCOW - At first glance, yesterday's brief strike by several thousand
workers in the provincial town of Sarov was nothing special, not in a
country where millions of workers are increasingly fed up with going
months without pay.
But Sarov, also known as Arzamas-16, is a special place. The
ultra-secret nuclear research center where the Soviets developed their
first atomic bombs is still the home of Russia's elite nuclear
scientists. Virtually closed off from the rest of the world by troops
and barbed wire, Russia's best and brightest toil for $175 a month to
upgrade their country's huge nuclear weapons arsenal.
Like workers throughout Russia, the people of Sarov receive their
paychecks sporadically, and rarely in full. Morale is low, and
scientists there say safety standards are suffering. Yesterday's work
stoppage and protest by about 3,500 of the scientists is the latest sign
of growing unrest in Russia.
The protest also highlighted some of the challenges facing Vice
President Al Gore, who arrived in Moscow yesterday for talks with
President Boris Yeltsin and Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko that are
aimed in part at setting up a visit to Moscow by President Clinton in
September. Gore may also speak by phone with President Boris Yeltsin,
who is on a fishing vacation in northwest Russia.
One of Gore's tasks is to try to persuade Russia to speed up
ratification of the Start II nuclear arms reduction treaty, which would
reduce both countries' nuclear arsenals from 6,000 each to 3,500 by the
year 2007. Signed in 1993 and ratified by the US Senate in 1996, Start
II has all but died in the Russian parliament, straining US-Russian
relations and putting a hold on further arms reductions talks. Yeltsin
has promised in the past to help get Start II ratified but has failed.
Russian legislators say they oppose Start II partly because of lack of
funding to destroy the weapons.
Poor morale at Sarov also points to the possibility that Russian
scientists might defect to other countries who can pay more for their
nuclear expertise. In particular, the United States is concerned about
nine Russian defense industry companies it suspects of aiding Iran in
that country's quest to build nuclear missiles. The Russian government
says it is investigating.
To help prevent defections, Russian officials said they expected Gore
and Kiriyenko to sign a cooperation accord on joint projects to support
Russia's closed nuclear research cities like Sarov.
Earlier yesterday, Gore visited the Chernobyl nuclear reactor in
Ukraine, site of the world's worst nuclear accident in 1986. After
touring the still-active plant and the ghost town of Pripyat nearby,
Gore called Chernobyl ''a menacing monument to mistakes of the century''
and said it was time for the world to learn from the disaster.
Los Angeles Times
July 24, 1998
[for personal use only]
No Easy Solutions to Resolve Long-Standing Caucasus Conflict
Nagorno-Karabakh: Any compromise that the Armenians can accept is
limited by geography.
By LEVON MARASHLIAN
Levon Marashlian, a History Professor at Glendale Community College,
was a Fulbright Lecturer in Armenia in 1994
A decade after the Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh
erupted on the world scene in 1988, after thousands of deaths on both
sides and years of futile negotiations, the conflict is still nowhere
near a settlement. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), during a recent
appropriations subcommittee hearing, told Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright that he was "deeply skeptical" regarding the current peace
process. He stressed that the United States has "huge interests" in the
Caucasus, "particularly given the involvement of many of our companies
in the Caspian Sea," and encouraged Albright to make the issue "a higher
Albright acknowledged the region's strategic importance and the
Caspian oil factor and agreed that the peace process needed "more
steam." But "there is no quick and easy solution," she cautioned.
That is an understatement. Azerbaijani President Heydar A. Aliyev
and Armenia's new president, Robert Kocharyan, met in Moscow in April
and issued a joint statement confirming their "commitment to a peaceful
settlement," but their respective positions on the enclave's drive for
independence from Azerbaijan are as far apart as ever.
Azerbaijan still insists on having sovereignty over
Nagorno-Karabakh, basing its position on the internationally recognized
principle of territorial integrity. Nagorno-Karabakh is still angling
for independence from Azeri authority, basing its position on the
internationally recognized principle of self-determination.
The firmness of the Armenian position is symbolized by the fact that
Armenia elected Kocharyan, who hails from the mountainous enclave, in a
special poll on March 30 following the Feb. 3 resignation of the
unpopular previous president, Levon A. Ter-Petrosyan, who had given up
on backing the enclave's push for independence.
Ter-Petrosyan had raised hopes in Western capitals last September
when he indicated that he accepted a "step by step" compromise plan
favored by the United States and other principal powers in the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. According to that
plan, Armenian forces would withdraw from the Azerbaijani territories
they captured outside Nagorno-Karabakh in return for an eventual
settlement that would promise the 150,000 Armenians in the enclave "the
highest degree of self-rule within Azerbaijan."
But the resounding rejection of this approach in Nagorno-Karabakh
and Armenia made it impossible for Ter-Petrosyan to deliver on his offer
to compromise. Ter-Petrosyan continued to promote the plan and that
finally led to his resignation.
Ter-Petrosyan's demise was a disappointment for the U.S. and
Western oil companies that want to see this issue resolved quickly since
it is the main obstacle to exporting Azerbaijan's oil. But the
disappointment can become a useful lesson for finding a lasting
solution, if the events of the past six months are interpreted
Kocharyan's rise to power was backed by overwhelming public opinion
not because he opposes all compromise, but because he opposes the kind
of compromise that Armenians believe would threaten their nation's
existence. The situation on the ground today and a long history of
second-class status, pogroms and genocide under Turkish and Azeri rulers
fuels the feeling among Armenians that their landlocked small country
cannot develop a viable economy and ensure its national security without
a symbiotic connection to Nagorno-Karabakh. For the Armenians,
Nagorno-Karabakh is a question of life and death.
For the Azeris, Nagorno-Karabakh is a matter of understandable
pride but it is not important for their security or prosperity.
Azerbaijan is the biggest country in Trans-caucasia. It is blessed with
a valuable shoreline along the Caspian Sea and it is fabulously rich in
oil. Nagorno-Karabakh is an oil-less patch of mountains and a source of
A credible case can been made that leaving the enclave inside
Azerbaijan would continue to undermine Azerbaijan's stability and
threaten its oil industry. The history of the region suggests that the
best way to save the oil of the Caucasus from an ethnic inferno is to
have a clean break between the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh and the
government of Azerbaijan.
As always, flexibility is necessary from both sides if the peace
process is to move forward. But as Albright tries to carry out her
promise to "rev it up a bit," she will have to keep in mind that the
fate of Kocharyan's predecessor is a sobering signal that the kind of
compromise the Armenians can accept is severely limited by the realities
of geography and by the instinct to survive.
The Times (UK)
July 24, 1887
[for personal use only]
Washed-out Yeltsin under holiday cloud
BY MICHAEL BINYON
PRESIDENT YELTSIN is having a rotten holiday. Since he arrived in
Karelia among the pine, birch and clear lakes of northern Russia, the
rain has not stopped. For five days it has come down in sheets, and Mr
Yeltsin's mood is as black as the skies.
He wanted to go fishing, a sport he has taken up with enthusiasm since
being banned on medical grounds from hunting. Last year he had amazing
luck, catching trout by the bucketful from a nearby lake - a feat
secretly ensured by loyal underlings stocking the lake with enough fish
to feed a biblical 5,000. But this year he has been out only once, in
the pouring rain, and caught only tiddlers. "They didn't bother stocking
the lake; the weather's been too awful," said Sergei Kulikayev, editor
of a local newspaper. "He's hardly left his dacha."
Mr Yeltsin had planned to attend a yachting regatta on Lake Onega and
all those with an eye on attracting the smart boating set to the remote
Russian heartland were counting on his presence. But the occasion will
probably be cancelled.
Nor has he been seen walking, reputedly another favourite pastime. The
weather has ensured a plentiful supply of mushrooms in the forests, and
most Russians cannot resist the promise of 15 exhausting hours of
mushrooming, from early dawn until vodka-cheered dusk. But the President
has stayed indoors, his dejected posse of guards, servants and drivers
mooching about feeling unwanted.
Officially, he is said to be working on his documents. The phrase has
rung alarm bells throughout the country. It was the favourite cover
given by protective Kremlin minders to conceal past illnesses and heart
problems. It sounds to Russians like the "heavy cold" that explained
Yuri Andropov's lengthy absences and from which he eventually died. It
has already set the rumour mills racing.
"I fear that he's not well," Mr Kulikayev said. The President certainly
did not look too sprightly during the Tsar's funeral last week and had
to sit down for much of the service. Ominously, his dutiful wife, Naina,
has not left his side. She has little interest in fishing, but had
planned to visit a summer camp for city children. She did not go. "It
just confirms my suspicions," Mr Kulikayev said.
In previous years, the Kremlin would have battled with nature to ensure
that "Tsar Boris" had a good time - seeding the clouds to keep away the
rain, releasing flocks of ducks into the range of his eager gun, or
clearing paths through the woods to provide a pleasing stroll.
None of that has been done this year. Sergei Kiriyenko, the Prime
Minister, has promised to visit Mr Yeltsin on Saturday and there will be
plenty to discuss. But probably they will sit around talking about the
only thing on Mr Yeltsin's mind - the awful weather.
Paper Derides Yeltsin U-Turn, Apology for Czar's Murder
18 July 1998
[translation for personal use only]
Article by Igor Kots: "View From the Sixth Floor. Why Did
Yeltsin Jump Onto the Hearse's Running Board?"
So, at the last moment the president hopped onto the hearse's running
board. And this has already been referred to as a "strong political move."
So strong that panic ensued in the corridors of power. The Federation
Council urgently commissioned an official delegation to attend the funeral.
Zhirinovskiy urgently arranged a funeral repast for lower chamber deputies.
Other leaders also started hustling: Not to miss a chance to shout out a
cherished prayer over the graves. "Yeltsin is not independent in his
actions and yields to influence...." "The president's participation in the
ceremony is an act of all-Russia repentance...."
Some are trying to catch the eye of Number One, while others are
spitting on his back -- and all of them keep running, running ahead of the
The emperor's skull lowered into the grave bears no sign of a Japanese
saber blow. Instead, there is a bullet hole. Was that noble blood that
gushed from it onto the walls of the Ipatyev house basement, or was it
rather plebeian blood that streamed humbly -- among the daisies somewhere
above the Iset River? Experts have their doubts. The Church has doubts.
Komsomolskaya Pravda doubted for eight months as it conducted its own
independent investigation. And even on Monday Yeltsin, too, doubted. But,
Friday, everything fell into place: The president arrived -- consequently,
the bones are the czar's! Those who disagree are not patriots. Those who
doubt are dissenters. Panic....
And, slyly, the tireless Zhirinovskiy is already demanding that the
Communists be disbanded.
The Holy Synod had suggested that the remains be buried in a temporary
crypt -- until all doubts are dispelled. The authorities dismissed those
suggestions. But it was decided not to bury some of the bones in the Peter
and Paul Church -- not all expert analyses have been performed on them.
But what if the experts confirm the doubts? Should the coffins then be
removed? Not now, this will not be permitted now -- but in about 50 years?
Or a hundred?
Why did the president come to St. Petersburg?
"We are all to blame," he said yesterday at the funeral service. To
blame for what? Of course, Kremlin interpreters will tomorrow explain the
deep-seated meaning of the phrase. And we will learn that the president
meant the murder in 1918 and the demolition of the Ipatyev house in 1977
and the dancing on the bones in 1998. We will be told that the president
came in the name of reconciliation in society. But what reconciliation is
there if the names of the victims were not mentioned during the Peter and
Paul funeral service? If the head of state ignores the opinion of the
church and millions of Orthodox believers?
Was the president expressing his personal remorse? Then he should
have looked for a different place to do so. Or at least for different
words. "WE [uppercased] are all to blame...." In Sverdlovsk, where as
first secretary of the [CPSU] oblast committee Yeltsin demolished the
Ipatyev house at the Politburo's directive, he more often used a different
"I did this, it torments me, I will atone..." -- perhaps Russia
expected these words from him yesterday. The Russia beyond Sadovoye Koltso
And then, perhaps, that Russia would have forgiven its president much.
Including this ludicrous mission. And his failure to make the sign of the
cross on entering the church. And would have even forgiven him other,
zinc, coffins [apparent allusion to Chechnya war dead].
[Komsomolskaya Pravda: One of Russia's largest-circulation and most
outspoken dailies, now controlled by Vladimir Potanin's Oneksimbank.]
Duma Faction Leaders' Vacation Plans Noted
17 July 1997
[translation for personal use only]
Report by Vasiliy Golovin: "Vacation Time. Some Go South,
Some Go North. Duma Deputies Have Broken Up For Vacation, Making
Impeachment Commission Hostage"
Yesterday the Duma held its last plenary session and broke up for the
vacation. When parliaments are not in session countries calm down (and
sometimes even sigh with relief!). But not Russia. Each representative
body is a awash with passions and emotions which are communicated to
society at large. The August recess gives politicians a chance not only to
warm their sides (bones, kidneys, etc.) but also to calm their nerves.
Places at sanatoriums on the Black Sea and near Moscow were bought up some
time ago. Zhirinovskiy is going on a trip down the Volga; Yavlinskiy is
going to friends in Lviv in his native land [Ukraine]; and Zyuganov is
going to Orel Oblast. True, not everyone is going to take a break. The
special commission for the impeachment of the president will not stop work.
It will continue to determine "what crimes the president has committed."
Thus, if they dig up many by the fall, the Duma may erupt. So are their
holidays just a waste of money?
Lebed raises spectre of nuclear break-up
By Robert Eksuzyan
MOSCOW, July 24 (Reuters) - Presidential contender Alexander Lebed raised the
spectre of a fragmentation of Russia's nuclear arsenal on Friday, saying he
might take over a missile unit in the Siberian region he runs if Moscow did
not pay its troops.
Lebed, a former general and Kremlin security adviser, is no stranger to
headline-grabbing bluster. But his open letter to Prime Minister Sergei
Kiriyenko was a reminder of the sort of worries that persuaded the
international community to bail out Russia with more than $20 billion in new
loans last week.
``I've seriously thought about whether we shouldn't take the unit under the
Territory's jurisdiction,'' said Lebed, elected governor of the vast
Krasnoyarsk Territory in May in a move that gave him a platform for the
presidential election in mid-2000.
``The officers are hungry, the officers are very angry. After 26 years of army
service I know very well how that feels,'' he said in the letter, made
available to Reuters.
``We, the people of Krasnoyarsk, are not yet a rich people,'' Lebed added.
``But in exchange for the status of a nuclear territory, we will, if you like,
feed the unit, becoming along with India and Pakistan a headache for the world
It is not the first time Lebed has warned of possible mutiny in the armed
forces. But Defence Minister Igor Sergeyev, former head of the strategic
command, has repeatedly insisted that cash cuts have not damaged the
effectiveness of the missile forces.
U.S. Vice President Al Gore, in Moscow on Friday for talks with Kiriyenko,
played down Lebed's suggestion that Krasnoyarsk, covering a seventh of
Russia's land mass, might emerge as a new nuclear power as India and Pakistan
did earlier this year.
``He's probably just trying to draw attention to the fact that a lot of the
officer corps...would like to see their back pay,'' Gore told Fox Television.
He said the funds pledged last week by the International Monetary Fund and
other lenders -- $22.6 billion in total -- would allow Kiriyenko to plug those
gaps in his budget and, with long-term economic reform, put Russia on the road
Lebed, whose blunt, strongman style won him 15 percent of the vote in the 1996
presidential election, asked Kiriyenko what he planned to do about the running
down of Russia's defences.
He said air defences in the east along the Chinese frontier were in a woeful
``All the facts taken together lead to the sad conclusion that for the Russian
government, there is no land beyond the Urals,'' Lebed wrote. ``What is
strange is that 60 percent of the country's territory and 80 percent of its
resources are there.''
The threat of sparsely populated Siberia, with its immense reserves of oil,
gas and other minerals as well as its nuclear armoury, splitting away from
Moscow's control or even falling under the sway of China or Japan is a
recurrent nightmare for Russian leaders and policymakers elsewhere.
Lebed, whose authoritarian style and avowed admiration for Chile's General
Augusto Pinochet have prompted speculation that he might reverse Russia's move
to democracy, concluded his letter with a sardonic postscript asking Kiriyenko
not to pass it on to a body recently set up to combat political extremism.
``I am not an extremist,'' he wrote. ``Compared to the thoughts of the
officers of the Uzhursk missile unit, my thoughts are as pure as a baby's
Lebed 'Confident' of Pending Civil War in Chechnya
KRASNOYARSK, July 21 (Interfax) -- Krasnoyarsk Governor Aleksandr
Lebed is confident that "a civil war is brewing in Chechnya."
Lebed told Interfax in an interview on Tuesday [21 July] that "upon
realizing that he had been minimized, Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov
resorted to a political assault, backed by the military force. Having
disarmed separate military formations, he inflicted a blow on foreign
sponsors. Naturally, certain forces will not put up with that."
In the event that the situation in Chechnya deteriorates, "Dagestan,
Ingushetia, North Ossetia and Stavropol territory would be drawn into the
conflict," he said. "Some people think: let Chechens fight it out and
everything will be fine. It would not be fine. Everybody would fight," he
Regarding the role played by the federal authorities in the North
Caucasus, Lebed said "no precise state policy in the region was worked out.
Nobody was charged with pursuing the strategic federal course" there.
"Things are left to free float. What a great country! Everybody is away
on summer vacations while events with a most serious and unpredictable
impact on Russia can take place," he said.