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Johnson's Russia List


August 2, 1998   
This Date's Issues: 2294

Johnson's Russia List
2 August 1998

[Note from David Johnson:


4. Bill Ross: Russian women.
5. Anne Williamson: Re Mike Temperley;JRL #2292.
6. Jerry F. Hough: More commentary.
7. Moscow Times: Helen Womack, FACES & VOICES: Russians Look Death
Straight In the Face. 

8. RFE/RL: Ben Partridge, Azerbaijan: Report Says Baku Pipeline To
Play Key Role In Future Geopolitics.


LEBEDEV/-- The question of the rouble's devaluation is not on
the agenda today, said Anatoly Chubais. Special representative
of the Russian president in international financial institutions
said that to mass media upon completion of talks with deputy
managing director of the International Monetary Fund Stanley
According to Chubais, the situation is still pretty
complicated, but the most critical phase is overcome.
he added that the movement toward a financial crisis was
stopped due to the following circumstances, namely -- a economic
stabilisation programme of the Russian government, and an
approval given for this programme by experts of the IMF and
other international financial institutions who also exercise a
'strict, professional control' over its implementation. 


From: ross@cgl.ucsf.EDU (Bill Ross)
Date: Sat, 1 Aug 1998 
Subject: Russian women

I have also found myself thinking that Russian women are more vibrant 
on the whole than those I see in the U.S. (comparing Moscow and San 
Francisco, mainly taking in the appearance of strangers in public).
And I think I have noticed (less vividly) that Russian men are 
more intense, too. But if this phenomenon rests on the Russians 
"knowing what their identity is," I would suggest it may be due in 
large part to the conditions that they face forcing them to live more 
in the moment. As an expatriate Russian once woman told me, when
she visits her childhood friends, they already think of themselves
as old in their early thirties, whereas she thinks of herself as
still beginning her life. So Russian women (perhaps more than Russian 
men owing to both biology and gender roles) may have a stronger 
motivation to experience the pleasure of living while they can. 
And the economic situation, as reflected in the birthrate, would
be expected to increase the competition for the fittest mates, which
both contributes to the vibrancy of the women and gives foreigners an 

Also I sometimes get the feeling in Moscow that, in terms of the 
interactions of people around me, I am in an immigrant neighborhood 
in New York at the beginning of the century: at such times it seems 
that society's clock was stopped at the revolution, and has now begun 
to tick forward again. This is a roundabout way of saying that I 
expect Russian society to develop more broad-based feminism over time, 
especially when the pressure of existence diminishes. 

Here is an exchange, apparently between two Russians, on 

From: "I.Makarov" <>
Subject: Re: Russian Women
Date: Fri, 31 Jul 1998 23:59:31 +1000

Yelena [...] wrote in message ...
> >
> > What's wrong with Americam women?
>They are more honest in expression of their needs and wishes than Russian
>(or Ukrainian) women.

...including yourself?

> Is this wrong? It depends on what you are looking for. also depends on what you are looking AT :))

>From my experiences of knowing women (as opposed to looking around
at strangers), I would agree with Yelena [...], and in more
extreme form with what some Russian friends, both men and women, have 
said: Russian women are more likely to seek their wishes by manipulation
and less likely to resort to honest expression. This, perhaps like
dictatorship, can avoid the energy drain of democratic conflict, which
can have a certain appeal; but in practice, it leaves me with the
feeling that something I am used to is missing. (I figure it amounts to 
the current social contract between Russian men and women.)

That said, I think that many people in the US do tend to be in the grip 
of an excessive political correctness that makes some kinds of honest 
self-evaluation and expression difficult. But this does not diminish 
the intuitive applicability of one reader's remark:

Nothing is more pathetic than the expat who can't get it at home. 

(I can identify with both perspectives, as a sometime expat 
who can't get it at home and who has refrained from cutting 
a swath through Russian womanhood.) 

The "Russian women" mailing list one reader mentioned is sure active - 
I signed up while working on this letter & am already deluged.


Date: Sat, 01 Aug 1998 
From: Anne Williamson <>
Subject: Mike Temperley;JRL #2292

I am writing in vigorous support of Mike Temperley’s caution that the JRL
not degenerate into a plethora of tedious argument regarding Western
feminism’s hard sell adventures in exotic locales. Of course, this tiresome
movement is long past its shelf date, its intellectual bankruptcy having
been most recently evidenced by the emergence of its newest
tactician/spokeswoman - Nina Burleigh, the former Time Magazine journalist
and eager presidential fellatrice wannabe. And, if it is indeed true that
Russian women have inspired Mike Snow and Tate Ulsaker to stand tall in
defense of their gender’s traditional characteristics and essential nature,
then I too am grateful to those same Slavic charmers. Who knows? Maybe
Mssrs. Snow and Ulsaker are the start of a highly salubrious trend. Since
this is an academic list, I hasten to add for the benefit of feminism’s
champions that as a Colorado cowgirl I have no particular expertise in
gender theory other than having hailed from a time and a place where the men
were men and the women were damn glad of it.


Date: Sat, 1 Aug 1998 
From: "Jerry F. Hough" <>

I know I have been abusing the patience of you and your readers, 
but it seems to me that this is an extraordinarily important time.
As your readers know, I have been very negative toward Yeltsin, 
but it remains somewhat of a mystery to me why he has acted as he has 
over the years. As I said in almost desperate terms before Kiriyenko 
was appointed and in my last letter, I do think Yeltsin is the best 
foreign-policy president we are likely to get in the near term and that the
options at the moment may work out fine--or may work out truly dreadfully.
I thought a Stroev-Glazev team instead of Kiriyenko was best, and I 
think the West is delusional in thinking the present government is the best 
possible. A reader of the current US News and World Report who sees the 
role that Boris Fedorov played in the diamond fraud of 1995--truly he 
seems to have been a man of free, unregulated trade, as he said-- must 
have some minor questions as to whether he is the best man to bring back 
to engage in honest income tax collection. So far as I can see, he is 
simply shaking down the oil and gas companies--really renationalizing 
them quietly--and I don't see why that is in the interests of the 
foreign holders of oil and gas stocks.
There still are options. Someone who took Yeltsin seriously 
would be very happy with the appointment of Masliukov as Minister of 
Industry and Trade and his effort to turn it into a real Japanese NITI. 
Masliukov, a former chairman of Gosplan and an Abalkin-like reformer 
under Gorbachev, is obviously a man of real ability and a man who really 
knows how to have an intelligent investment program. One may disapprove 
of the policy but at least he has the ability to make it work and has, by 
all indications I have seen, the basic honesty and dedication to do it. 
When one compares him with one of Steve Solnick's inexperienced young 
Komsomol crooks of the 1980s like Kiriyenko, there is a real difference.
However, no one who has been pouring through the press of 
the Yeltsin era can have any faith that the Masliukov appointment is 
serious. In the book I am writing with Evelyn Davidheiser, the 
manuevers with Oleg Lobov are well documented. Lobov was used as the 
bogeyman to scare the West into accepting the breakup of the Soviet Union 
and then the dissolution of the Congress in 1993. Lobov was brought 
back during the April 1993 referendum when Yeltsin promised a fundamental 
change in policy. He was Minister of the Economy (Gosplan) and had a 
memorandum similar to Masliukov's that was described in the Russian 
press. At the end of August, Yeltsin officially approved it. Larry 
Summers came flying in September 13 to 15 with the conditions for IMF 
support, and they were well described in the New York Times. Gaidar was 
brought in as first deputy premier again and instituted a program as head of
our party, Russia's Choice, that was so radical it is a surprise he got 15
percent of the vote. On the 16th, Korzhakov reports, the team made the 
decisions to move against the Congress. Lobov's plan disappeared. At 
each financial crisis, the game was played out again in one form or 
another. After the collapse of the ruble in late 1994, the West was 
told that the Security Council under Korzhakov's control was a Politburo 
and we needed to have a big loan to save reform. Every time the IMF 
threatened to cut off money on tax collection, there was some incident. 
Electricity was cut off to a sub base or missile site for non-payment, 
and it threatened to do something dire. The electricity was restored in
lieu of taxes and IMF backed down.
Now we have a real Communist in NITI to frighten us. Why don't 
we either call the bluff or quietly tell Yeltsin that we would now like a 
change of policy and support Masliukov. Ariel Cohen of the Heritage 
Foundation had a very prescient paper in mid 1997 on the ponzy game that was
being played with the short term loans, and you were wise enough to put it on 
your list. The West was the one putting money into the pyramid. Why in
God's name would the West continue now, all the more so when the companies in 
which it invested are precisely those being bled?
We have played a game with Primakov in which we have pretended he 
is anti-Western to strengthen his position at home. Maybe it is time 
for Yeltsin and us to play a game now. He could discover to his horror 
that Fedorov was--if all the evidence I have heard is correct--still on 
his $75,000 bank salary while serving as Minister of Finance in 1995 
when he headed the anti-Lobov attack and was apparently trading 
diamonds. Presidents can have emotional Mea Culpas speeches on many 
subjects. Yeltsin could wonder if the West was trying to weaken Russia 
and he could talk in nationalist ways in taking nationalist steps with 
Masliukov. There is a narrow line between default and requiring debtors 
to give new loans with low interest and long-term payoff, and this could be
scenarioed in the way of most use to the banks. There is no need for an 
IMF loan if the Russians are not going to be using the money to pay off 
their foreign loans and it surely would cause no problem to suspend 
it. We could be properly horrified if we didn't do anything 
untoward and if Yeltsin agreed not to do some things that are of high 
priority to us. He could be gentle toward the former Soviet Union and 
let the companies in which the West invested be profitable. If the 
Russian stock market is profitable, foreign money will come in.
As I said in my last letter, the options are really bad. We 
have played Russian roulette the last six years with one bullet in the 
chamber. Now there are three or four bullets in the chamber. It may 
work out, but it may not, and if it does not, it is not going to be 
pretty at all. For example, it seems almost certain that there will be 
closer integration of the Russian economy with Belarus, Ukraine, 
Central Asia, and maybe the Caucacus. But will that take the form of a 
European Community or forms in which citizens of those republics have a 
vote in the presidential election? Does the reader really have the 
faith that elections in Belarus, the Ukrainian villages and Central Asia 
will be fair and that an authoritarian Russian leader will not take steps to 
ensure that they can vote for him?
If we can get growth for some years--and certainly a shift to a jobs
and investment program will produce growth for some years, especially if 
combined with agricultural reform--Yeltsin might even get reelected in 
2000, but with some growth and a new policy, there are a series of other 
options as president as well--Masliukov, Stroev, Luzhkov--who would be solid 
presidents with administrative experience to move towards a more orderly 
capitalist development. If they were producing growth, the public 
would vote for them. Russia will have Robber Barons and 
crony capitalism, but the question is whether it is pure robbery or 
whether as in the US, Japan, Korea, or Indonesia, the barons produce 
growth and rising standards of living as well. Eventually there has to be 
a messy transition, as the US had with the Depression and New Deal and as
Japan is going through now, but that is a problem for Russia a quarter of a 
century or a half of century from now. Our problem at the present is to 
ensure that the chaos of the last decade does not lead to what a decade of
chaos produced in France in 1799 or Germany in 1933. It is time for 
State and the security agencies to take control of foreign policy from 
Treasury and time for a president interested in his place in history 
to give some thought to this question. 


Moscow Times
August 1, 1998 
FACES & VOICES: Russians Look Death Straight In the Face 
By Helen Womack

Recently, a Western woman I knew had the misfortune to lose her husband 
in Moscow. Why do I use the euphemism "lose"? He died. That was the bald 

Western friends rallied round at first but she went on grieving. The 
friends did not know what to do, became embarrassed and one by one 
slipped away. 

It was Russian friends who somehow pulled her through. They did not mind 
talking about her bereavement as long as it was necessary. They did it 
quite openly, for in Russia, death is as natural as life, not the taboo 
it is in the West. 

My friend Vitaly's hospitable father, Mikhail Matveyev, died of cancer. 
But the funeral was not the bleak affair I have seen too often in 
Britain. Mourners were not ashamed to both laugh and cry. 

Perhaps the fact that Russians, unless they are very rich, get a limited 
service from undertakers and are not protected from reality, explains 
their ability to look death in the face. In the case of the Matveyevs, 
Ritual, the Russian funeral service they turned to, provided the coffin 
and the bus to take them to the cemetery, but Vitaly's sister, Natasha, 
had to lay her own father out in the family home in Kolomna. 

Older relatives were on hand to give advice about all the traditions 
that h ad to be observed. The curtains were drawn, of course, but Aunt 
Nina said the carpets should also be rolled back and a lock placed under 
the coffin. Quite why, she did not know, but that was the way it has 
always been. Coins closed the dead man's eyes and a glass of vodka with 
a slice of bread laid on top was placed next to the open coffin. 

The family could have had a chitalka, or reader, to sit up all night 
reading psalms while relatives kept vigil by the body. But Vitaly and 
Natasha thought their father, who was not fanatically religious, would 
have begrudged the expense. Instead, they paid a small fee to have their 
father's name mentioned during a general church memorial service. The 
priest insisted on seeing the death certificate to be sure he was not 
being tricked into remembering a living person, which is a black magic 

The undertakers warned Vitaly and Natasha not to buy wreaths from street 
traders, as it was said they were often stolen from graves. After 
spending 3 million rubles on the coffin and bus, they had to economize 
on flowers, so they bought on the street anyway. The wreath frames were 
old, but fresh flowers had been put in. "Dad would have just thought it 
was funny," said Vitaly. "He had an eye for the absurd." 

The burial took place in Kolomna's new cemetery, after which the family 
had a wake at home. Dozens of neighbors crammed into the three-room flat 
to drink vodka and eat salads. An alcoholic who had seen the coffin 
being taken out and knew there would be free drink gate-crashed the 
event. Uncle Yura got into a fight with him, and in the end Aunt Vera, 
who is rather strict, threw them both out. 

Two more parties, though quieter, would be held on the ninth and 40th 
days after the death. Russians believe that on the 40th day the soul 
finally leaves the places to which the person was attached in life. 

After the funeral, the immediate family sat around discussing death. 
"It's very shocking to see the person you have loved become a lifeless 
doll," said Vitaly. "But you can look at it in another way. The body of 
my dad was so unlike my dad himself that I concluded he simply wasn't 
there. If he wasn't there, then he must have gone to another place. It 
is strange but in a way I am happy now. My father's sufferings are over 
and I know that he is free." 


Azerbaijan: Report Says Baku Pipeline To Play Key Role In Future 
By Ben Partridge

London, 31 July 1998 (RFE/RL) - Japan says choices made by Azerbaijan on 
the route of pipelines to get its oil to world markets have 
"long-standing geopolitical implications." 

The report on Azerbaijan's economic prospects is published this week by 
the Japanese think-tank, the Daiwa Institute of Research Europe. It 
focuses on the oil sector in the small Caucasus country which is said 
have proven oil reserves of 7 billion barrels. Azerbaijan is set to play 
a key role in helping to meet rising world energy demand in the 21st 

But Azerbaijan, like its Central Asian neighbors, is landlocked, lacking 
an outlet to an open sea, so it will have to rely on oil export 
pipelines. All the major regional powers have an interest in the routes 
chosen by Azerbaijan: particularly Russia, Turkey and Iran. Other 
countries, notably Georgia and Ukraine, also are affected. 

"Early oil" from Azerbaijan will be transported to the Black Sea through 
two pipelines with an annual capacity of 25 million tonnes. One is the 
northern route through Russia, crossing Chechnya, to the port of 
Novorossiysk on the Russian Black Sea. The other is the so-called 
western route which runs from Baku to the Georgian Black Sea port of 

The first export shipment of "early oil" took place in March from 
Novorossiysk. But exports through the western route have run into 
problems because the pipeline needs major repairs and construction work. 
Its completion has been postponed until the end of this year. 

The pipeline to transport the expected big flows of oil --the main 
export pipeline-- is still undecided, with political and strategic 
concerns being crucial to the final solution. But there is a consensus 
that multiple pipelines are the best way to minimize dependence on one 
route, and possible disruptions induced by regional conflicts. 

The option with most support is to build a $2.5 billion pipeline from 
Baku to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. This proposed 1,730 km 
pipeline is favored by Ankara, which would receive substantial transit 

The report says: "The countries which are endorsing this project have 
sought not to alienate Russia from this process." 

The other pipeline routes --through Novorossiysk port or Supsa -- would 
require the use of the Bosphorus as a transit point. This is opposed by 
Turkey which points to the environmental risks of increasing oil tanker 
traffic through what already is one of the world's busiest sea lanes. 

The shortest and probably most economic route is through Iran to the 
Persian Gulf. But this is opposed by Washington on political grounds. 
The report notes that the U.S., despite some overtures to the new 
government in Iran, continues oppose large scale investment in the 
country -- particularly in the transport sector. 

A decision on pipeline routes by the Azerbaijan International Operating 
Company (AIOC), originally expected this summer, has been pushed back to 
October. The report says there are increasing rumors that there could be 
another postponement. The AIOC is a consortium of 11 international oil 
companies, led by British Petroleum, that was set up after Azerbaijan's 

Despite the fact that an agreement on building the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline 
has been concluded between Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia, the issue has 
not been entirely settled. Key issues such as transit fees and property 
rights have yet to be resolved. 

Ukraine also has proposed deliveries to Odessa from Georgia's Supsa 
terminal. Part of that oil would be refined in Ukraine for its own 
consumption, and the rest piped to Central and Northern Europe. The 
report says: "This fits well with the Ukrainian policy of reducing 
dependence on Russian oil imports." 

The report notes that Azerbaijan is, itself, an important route for the 
transport of oil from other countries in the region. Last year, 
Kazakhstan transported 2 million tonnes of oil to the West via 
Azerbaijan, using tankers and rail, and there are plans to double this 

The report says the debate over oil transports from Azerbaijan oil is 
"greatly increasing the country's profile and Baku is now the hub of 
intense commercial and diplomatic activity." It says Azerbaijan will be 
a "key factor in shaping regional development."




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