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Johnson's Russia List
6 August 1998
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Journal of Commerce: John Helmer, SUCKERED IN RUSSIAN
2. Miriam Lanskoy: Feminism in Russia.
3. Dale Herspring: Secara on Hough.
4. New Book: Caucasus: War and Peace: New World Disorder in
5. Reuters: Russia does not want to return to
6. Jerry F. Hough: Re 2297-Secara/Hough.
7. Washington Post: Ariel Cohen, Will Lenin Follow The
8. Jacob Kipp: Primakov and Gorchakov: A Different Read.
9. AP: Russian PM Sees Economy Improving.
10. Moscow Times: Frank Brown, Religions Hit by New Visa Rule.
11. Los Angeles Times: Carol Williams, Russia's Literary Outcasts Are
Reborn. Arts: Devotees retrace lives of once-banned writers as museums
spring up in St. Petersburg.
12. RIA Novosti: HEFTY RECEIPTS FROM PRIVATISATION TO BECOME TANGIBLE
ONLY LATER IN THE YEAR.]
Date: Wed, 5 Aug 1998
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (John Helmer)
Journal of Commerce
August 5, 1998
BY JOHN HELMER
JOURNAL OF COMMERCE SPECIAL
SUCKERED IN RUSSIAN CANDYLAND
Moscow. Vice President Albert Gore wasn't in Moscow long enough last
month to catch a performance of a fairytale Russian opera with a political
sting. On President Bill Clinton's Moscow visit in September, he shouldn't
miss the chance.
The opera by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, first performed in 1900, is called
"The Tale of Tsar Saltan." Based on a fable by Alexander Pushkin,
Rimsky-Korsakov's musical plot follows a trio of sisters who are
summoned to court by Tsar Saltan. The youngest of them becomes his wife,
and bears him a son. The other two are consumed by envy, and plot against
While Saltan is absent fighting a war, the sisters deceive him into
thinking his wife has produced a monster. They then dupe his court into
carrying out a forged decree from Saltan, condemning the wife and baby
to death in a barrel, dropped at sea.
They survive, and stumble ashore in Candyland, where the avarice,
stupidity, and cruelty of the tsardom aren't known. The boy grows up to be
the tsar of Candyland, falls in love with a swan, who turns into a beautiful
priness. She turns him into a bee for a return to Saltan's
court. The melody of that return is probably Rimsky-Korsakov's most famous
piece of music in the west, "The Flight of the Bumblebee."
The bee-tsar stings the nasty sisters, and Saltan is persuaded to visit
Candyland himself. There, to the chagrin of the plotters, he recognizes
his wife and son. Overjoyed at their survival and prosperity, but unapologetic
for his own role in their misfortune, Saltan celebrates. Even the wicked
sisters are forgiven, and the curtain comes down happily.
As a professor, composer, and former naval officer, Rimsky-Korsakov often
touched on themes of envy and revenge in his musical dramas. He was especially
careful to disguise the contempt he had for Russia's political
leadership in operas that looked like children's stories. "Saltan" didn't
attract trouble. But eight years later, "The Golden Cockerel" -- also
about a foolish tsar trapped by wily advisors into losing his kingdom --
was barred from the stage by the censors of the real-life tsar.
Rimsky-Korsakov couldn't have imagined Boris Yeltsin, Sergei Kirienko,
Anatoly Chubais, and Boris Nemtsov -- the men who run Russia today.
But Rimsky-Korsakov's easy-to-whistle skepticism should be the keynote of
the White House assessment. That Mr.Gore and Mr.Clinton can find so much to
celebrate in Moscow today, and so little to regret, suggests they are being
suckered in Candyland.
At the urging of the United States, the Russian leadership has been
rescued from a serious bee-sting in its reserves. The promise of up to
$22.6 billion has been handed over on condition that the avaricious
advisors tax everything in Russia that moves -- except the banks and oil
companies which finance the tsar himself. The object of this draconian
exercise is to rescue the state's empty treasury from the follies of war,
corruption, and election-spending by the unapologetic President Yeltsin.
That Russia continues to survive is nothing for the president to
celebrate. This is no Candyland; and what Mr.Yeltsin, his prime minister, and
his advisors are now committed to doing can't produce the magic of prosperity.
What Mr. Clinton should point out is that the penalties of past follies
should fall on their perpetrators, not on their victims. What they should
add is that the principle of growth through trade, to which Mr.Clinton
has said before he supports, has now been sacrificed. That can't be good for
either Russian or foreign traders.
Finally, the U.S. President should ask why the Russian government is
now demanding new powers from parliament to impose taxes without law -- a
principle of democracy that is as old as the Boston Tea-Party, and the core
of democratic rule everywhere in the world. This is the same Russian
government which has blocked for two years a parliamentary vote on sanctions
to keep officials from violating the laws they are sworn to administer.
Nearing the end of Rimsky-Korsakov's opera, the old tsar is entertained by
a magic squirrel from Candyland who cracks golden nuts and sings songs. If
President Clinton doesn't want the men in the Kremlin to think of
him as their pet, he'll need to change his tune on Russia.
Subject: Feminism in Russia
Date: Wed, 5 Aug 98
From: Miriam Lanskoy <email@example.com>
Who remembers what, besides rubles, Bulgakov's demon produced at his
magic show? Pantyhose, lipstick, dresses, slips, soft leather shoes --
the feminine items that Russian women can get very excited about -- and
western women can take for granted.
Russian women had a very difficult time being feminine in a society that
did not manufacture femine sanitary products not to mention condoms. The
same society espouced feminism as part of its official ideology, hence
the "large boned" peasant or welder types ubiqioutous in Soviet
propaganda, (probably the orgin of the myth of the unattractive Russian
women). Feminism has no follwing in Russia because in its earlier
manifestation it did nothing (or only harm) for Russian women. To preach
feminism now you had better explain how it is different from the earlier
variant and what specific advantages can be gained. Otherwise, to marry
a westerner and leave Russia is a damn good option and, I might add, an
option that Russian men don't have.
Date: Wed, 5 Aug 1998 13:23:36 -0500 (CDT)
From: Dale R Herspring <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Secara on Hough
While I do not always agree with Jerry Hough (I and some others believe
Lebed is more of a populist than he does), I found Secara's comments on
Jerry's attempt to bring some order to our discussion of Whither Russia to
be a bit bizzare.
No one -- and I think this includes Jerry -- is attempting to force any
kind of order on Russia. Jerry is right to argue for regime, elite,
economic and any other kind of stability. God knows, the country needs it
desperately. Furthermore, I don't think Jerry was suggesting that we
should send in the Marines to force the Russians to act in one way or
another. On the other hand, US taxpayer dollars are involved, and US
policy-makers must decide what to do. Having been one of the latter, I
know how hard this is -- one is hit from all sides by a variety of
pressures to do this or that.
While policy-makers do not necessarily think like political scientists, it
is a rare situation when an effort is not made to force some kind of order
on policy analysis or decision-making. What are our options? What do we
want to produce? How are we going to get from here to there? We do not
always do the right thing for thousands of reasons. Having said that, I
still think a rational approach makes more sense than chaos. In this
regard, whether one agrees with Jerry or not, I applaud his efforts to
systematize our thinking on the topic.
Second, I was a bit put-off by Secara's suggestion that because Jerry is a
political scientist somehow history is not relevant. Obviously, Secara
has not read many of Jerry's books. I am not saying that I agree with
everything he said, but I think it is silly to imply that he is not
sensitive to historical factors. Furthermore, at a time when the
discipline of political science is under attack by the so-called "rational
actor" modelists, it is good to note that Hough remains sensitive to
factors like history and culture.
Saying that a period resembles another period does little when it comes to
analysis. The first thing a policy-maker would say would be "so what."
What is important is to find the variables or factors that are common and
then see what use one can make of them in framing an analysis.
Finally, it is true that Western political scientists and policy analysts
are not living the Russian experience and as a result, we probably do miss
the target from time to time. Having said that, from what I have seen to
date, they come a lot closer than just about any other group -- including
those living in Russia.
Date: Wed, 05 Aug 1998
From: Cengiz Turan <email@example.com>
Subject: New Book:- Caucasus: War and Peace: New World Disorder in
PUBLICATION- Caucasus: War and Peace: New World Disorder in Caucasia
Caucasus: War and Peace: New World Disorder in Caucasia, M. Tutuncu, ed.
Edited by Mehmet TUTUNCU
Haarlem 1998, SOTA, 224 pages.
The Caucasus situated on the frontiers of Europe and Asia is a crossroad
and gateway between Cultures and Civilizations, (between Europe and Asia,
Islam and Christianity, Turks, Iranians and Slavs.) In the famous Caucasus
Mountains, where Prometheus was punished and chained to the rocks because
he had stolen the fire from the gods to hand to mankind, seems to be the
most fertile ground for ethnic violence.
The war between Armenia and Azerbaijan about Nagorno Karabagh, The
Abkhazian-Georgian conflict and the Chechen-Russian War. These wars cost
more than 100,000 lives and resulted in millions of refugees.
- What are the causes of conflicts in the Caucasus? Is this an area where
there will never be peace?
- What is the role of international organizations and the media in these
- Could methods of conflict resolution help make the region less tense?
- What is the role of millions of women, who suffer the most from wars that
are fought mainly by male heroes?
This book gives answer to these and other relevant questions. The authors
are all experts and specialists of the region or representatives from the
countries involved in conflicts. It is a book that it should not be missed
both by experts as laymen who are interested in the region.
Assessing The Origins of the Karabakh Conflict
Alan F. Fogelquist
Armenian Terrorism and Its Role in the War Over Upper-Karabakh
Charles Van Der Leeuw
The Legal Aspects of the Karabagh Conflict
Women And War
The New World Disorder in Transcaucasia
The Russo-Chechen Conflict in Historical Perspective
The Relations Between Chechnya and Russia Since the Election of A. Maskhadov
C. Cem Oguz
Georgian-Abkhazian Conflict and its Aftermath
Viacheslav A. Chirikba (Abkhazia/Netherlands)
Abkhazia Diary 1997
Paul B. Henze
Attachment: October 1992 Appraisal
An Informal Assessment of the Abkhaz Problem by Paul B. Henze
The Role Of Scholars in the Abkhazians' Loss of Trust in the Georgians and
How to Remedy the Situation
Ethnic Minorities in Georgia
Georgian Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights and Ethnic Minorities
U.S. Interests and "Cooperative Security" in Abkhazia and Karabakh:
Engagement versus Commitment?
Robert M. Cutler
Transition to What? Obstacles to Lasting Peace in the Caucasus
An overview of the North Caucasian peoples
Lars Funch & Helen Krag
Ethnic Situation In The Caucasus
Rauf A. Huseynov
Oil Interests as the Caucasian Conflicts' True Face Behind Ethnic
Charles van der Leeuw
Turkeys Caucasus Policy (1990-1997): An Evaluation
The Role of Russia in Ethnic Conflicts in the Caucasus
Daglik Karabag Olaylarinin Perde Arkasi
Cigars as Bribes the confessions of a war-zone stoggie smoker
Copyright 1997, SOTA, Haarlem, Netherlands
To order, contact:
P.O. Box 9642
2003 LP Haarlem
Tel.: + 31 23 5292883
Fax.: + 31 23 5292883
Russia does not want to return to monarchy--Romanov
LONDON, Aug 4 (Reuters) - Russia does not want and should not seek a return to
the monarchy, a direct descendant of the last tsar said in an interview
published on Tuesday.
Prince Nicholas Romanov, the great-great-grandson of Emperor Nicholas I,
attended the emotion-charged burial last month of the tsar and his family
exactly 80 years after they were shot dead by Bolshevik revolutionaries.
But he does not believe in a return to the past.
Prince Nicholas, who now lives in Switzerland, told Hello Magazine on return
from the funeral: ``Personally if there was a referendum tomorrow, I don't
think it (the monarchy) would get more than a five percent vote in favour.
``The monarchist movement there is motivated by petty politicians promoting
He felt that a return to the monarchy now would not be useful. ``We should
remain quite calm and cool and wait. The country has to pull itself together
and recover its economic strength.''
The prince urged his compatriots to look forward, not back.
``I have always said that not only were we burying the tsar and those who died
with him, but we were also burying the most bloodstained pages of our past.
Leave them to scholars. Russians should look forward.''
Date: Tue, 04 Aug 1998
From: "Jerry F. Hough" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: 2297-Secara/Hough
Claudiu Secara makes many fine points, but surely he is not
saying there is no difference between Hitler, deGaulle, Roosevelt, or
Lenin and that policy has no impact whatsoever on who comes to power.
If the West is bribing the Russians, the question is what we
should be bribing them to do, and the question for the Russians is
whether to accept. I find the Hoover Institution line (or is it
instead the Marxist line) that all that matters is ownership of the means
of production appalling. McFaul does represent the merging of the extreme
left and the extreme right, and it seems to me that his line in the Times
is as crazy of that in the Comintern toward Germany in the early 1930s. We
cannot afford to leave the centrist field only to those who will justify
their rejection of our line with the kind of arguments that Safire
presents--incredibly, without any fear or nervousness--about the character
of the radical economic reformers, which will be accompanied by
the alleged intention of the West--or is it the international financial
conspirary--to weaken Russia for security or other reasons.
Date: Tue, 04 Aug 1998
From: "Cohen, Ariel" <email@example.com>
Subject: Will Lenin Follow The Romanovs?
Enclosed please find the article the Washington Post Outlook section ran
this past Sunday. It may be of interest to your readers. Kindly let me know
if /when you run it. Also, pls be advised that the Washington Post does not
retain the copyright for outside publications and doesn't mind me publishing
the article elsewhere.
Cheers and thanks,
August 2, 1998
A LOOK AT . . . Russia's Struggles
Will Lenin Follow The Romanovs?
By Ariel Cohen
Ariel Cohen is senior policy analyst in Russian and Eurasian studies at
the Heritage Foundation, and author of "Russian Imperialism: Development
and Crisis (Praeger).
The new Russia is struggling to bury its past in order to define its
future. The elaborate burial ceremony last month for Czar Nicholas II
and his family, who were executed by the communists in 1917, was half of
this symbolic struggle. The other half of the struggle is intensifying
as the country ponders what to do with the mummified corpse of Vladimir
Ulyanov Lenin, founder of the Soviet state, who is still lying in a red
granite mausoleum in Moscow's Red Square.
If the state funeral for the Romanovs was a way of re-incorporating the
czars into Russian history, the question of what to do with Lenin's
remains is a referendum on the communist tradition and its future in
The unseemly divisiveness that developed around the burial of the
Romanovs showed how potent the politics of the past can be in Russia.
The communists, the largest faction in the Duma, opposed the burial in
St. Petersburg, claiming that the czar, after his abdication, was a
private citizen who did not deserve a state burial. The Russian Orthodox
Church also opposed the burial. According to the church's hierarchs, the
DNA test that identified the remains "was not completely accurate." A
more likely reason is that the church does not want to face its own
complicity in collaborating with the communist regime that murdered the
The New York-based Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, which was banned in
the U.S.S.R. and is gaining some support in the post-Communist Russia,
canonized Nicholas. To others, such as Nobel Prize-winning author
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the czar who lost the crown and the empire was
hardly a saint.
A reliable poll showed that a slim majority of Russians (51 percent) did
support the honorable reburial; 25 percent were opposed. And some were
not interested in the politics of the issue at all. The governor of
Yekaterinburg, where the imperial family was murdered, and the mayors of
Moscow and of St. Petersburg all fought to locate the burial place in
their respective jurisdictions, in hopes of attracting cash-carrying
tourists and pilgrims.
The question of what to do with Lenin is even more polarizing. The
long-gone Romanovs are symbols of a bygone era, but the honored resting
place of the founder of the communist state is a symbol of communist
legitimacy in the current political system.
President Boris Yeltsin has made clear he wants Lenin out of Red Square,
saying in numerous interviews that the body should be interred according
to Christian tradition. Last year, he suggested conducting a nationwide
referendum on the question of whether to move Lenin. In response, the
Duma passed legislation prohibiting removal of the "leader of the world
proletariat" from his current resting place, or any reconstruction work
in Red Square (which could tear down the mausoleum).
Vasily Shandybin, a communist lawmaker, told the news agency Interfax
that Lenin should remain in Red Square forever because he was "a great
man and a leader of the world's first socialist state." Former Soviet
leader Mikhail Gorbachev warned that any discussion of Lenin's burial
would be politically explosive. "One should not make any haste,
particularly in tackling human problems," Gorbachev said in March.
But outside the communist camp, many support the idea of moving Lenin's
remains. A poll done last year by VCOIM, a large Russian polling agency,
found 48 percent of people supported the "Christian" reburial, while 25
percent opposed it and the rest expressed no opinion. The popular (and
populist) mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov, a possible presidential
candidate in 2000, as well as reformist Deputy Prime Minister Boris
Nemtsov, support the burial of Lenin.
Advocates have felt the need to proceed with caution. Nemtsov, who
presided over the commission that worked on the Romanov burial, said in
a January 1998 interview with the Associated Press, "I have a mystical
kind of feeling that as long as we don't bury Lenin, Russia is under an
evil spell." A month later Nemtsov had to back away from suggestions for
a simultaneous burial of the Romanovs and Lenin. "Sooner or later the
burial will happen all the same," Nemtsov told reporters. But he said
that as long as communist supporters are actively expressing their
protest, any actions that will offend "believers in communism" should
not be made.
Ironically, Lenin himself wanted a simple burial. In his will, he asked
to be buried next to his mother in a St. Petersburg cemetery. His wish
was disregarded by Joseph Stalin, who ordered Lenin embalmed and placed
in a glass sarcophagus next to the Kremlin wall. Stalin, who was a
seminary student in his youth, proceeded to turn Lenin's mummy into an
object of deification, very much like Orthodox saints of the past, whose
relics were venerated by the faithful.
Shortly after the body was put on display, the bitter Moscow frost
caused a sewer to explode, flooding the tomb. According to a popular
story, Patriarch Tikhon, then the head of the Orthodox Church,
commented, "Myrrh fits the relics." Tikhon was arrested and executed by
the Bolsheviks shortly thereafter, in part because of his remark.
Seventy-five years later, Lenin's corpse remains serious business. The
idea of removing him from Red Square is fast becoming seen as a way for
the country to bury its bloody history, to acknowledge the price of the
communist experiment in Russia--and of the broad cooperation of the
majority of the society in it. The question is no longer if, but when
and how, the communist leader's remains will be moved.
Luzhkov, widely credited for turning the Russian capital around, is the
most likely man to make it happen. He has said that he is willing to
forgo the tourist traffic on the Red Square in order to expunge the
ghosts of the past. Russia is not a paragon of the rule of law, and
Moscow is Luzhkov's domain. He could circumvent the objections of the
communists in the Duma with a simple decree that Lenin go. The
communists are sure to resist, seeking to keep their founding father
right in the heart of Russia, as if to physically block the ongoing
transition to liberal politics and free markets that Lenin so
From: "Jacob KIPP" <KIPPJ@LEAV-EMH1.ARMY.MIL>
Subject: Primakov and Gorchakov: A Different Read
Date: Wed, 5 Aug 1998
Regarding Mathew Rendall's comments on Paul Goble's interprtation of Foreign
Minister Evgennyi Primakov's praise for the stewardship of Prince A. M.
Gorchakov over tsarist Russia's foreign policy, my own work on Grand Duke
Konstantin Nikolaevich and his role in the Great Reforms seems to suggest
that Primakov's reading of Prince Gorchakov is not so far off base. I think
that Primakov has in mind the isolation that came with the Crimean War and
not the entire reign of Nicholas I.
Expecting British support for the burial of the "sick man of Europe" and
entrusting critical negotiations with the Porte to Menshikov, Nicholas I
stumbled into a European War for which Russia was ill-prepared
diplomatically, militarily, economically, and politically.
By 1855 Russia had been effectively isolated by British and French
foreign policy. Sardinia had joined the war with the promise of future
gains at the peace conference. Austria had intervened in the Danubian
Principalities. Berlin and Stockholm were neutral but under pressure.
Contemplated Anglo-French naval operations in the Baltic against Kronstadt
depended on Swedish intervention. Sevastopol had fallen and the Russian
treasury was empty and there were no prospects for foreign loans to continue
Nicholas I's "conservative internationalism" had its high-water mark
with the intervention in Hungary in 1849 to support the Habsburg. Emperor
Franz-Joseph and his ministers repaid Nicholas' support with pressure on
Russia in the Balkans during the Crimean War. Thus, at the end of the
Crimean War Russia faced isolation and Nichlas' "conservsative
internationalism" appeared bankrupt. Prince Gorchakov's accomplishment was
to break that isolation. He did that during a period of internal reform and
a broad economic opening to Western investment, especially railroad
construction. The first system was one of cultivating ties with Louis
Napoleon and culminated with the ill-conceived and poorly executed
deployment of seven corps on the Austrian border during the Habsburg
Empire's war with Louis Napoleon's Franc e and Cavour's Sardinia. The
system continued to function down to the January Insurrection of 1863 [Irena
Koberdowa, "Wielki Ksiaze Konstanty w Warszawie"]. The cultivation of
Marquis Wielopolski, who was known for his moderate sentiments views and
anti-Habsburg views, was supposed to encourage Franco-Russian cooperation.
The revolt of the "Reds" buried that option and pushed impeiral policy
towards one of Russification in Poland. Thereafter Prince Gorchakov built a
second system based on ties with Bismarck's Prussia. Bismarck won the
gratitude of the imperial government by supporting its repression of the
Polish Insurrection. That system survived until the Congress of Berlin,
although its fate was sealed when Russian nationalists/Pan-Slavists, court
figures (Grand Duke Alexander Aleksandrovich) and the military (General
Obruchev) once again pushed Russia into a military solution to the Eastern
Question. Gorchakov proved ineffectively in countering that shift. The
only sustained resistance came from the Finance Minister M. Kh. Reutern, who
warned that the war would lead to financial ruin because Russia's capital
markets were now tied to the financial centers in the West, especially
Berlin. The collapse of Gorchakov's second system set the stage for a shift
in Russia towards France, a position favored by the War Ministry and the
Most scholarship on Russian foreign policy during this period questioned
Gorchakov's leadership in the area of expansion in Central Asia, where local
commanders engaged in conquests that the Foreign Ministry had to explain and
justify after the fact. Those adventures brought under Russian rule much of
the territory that now makes up the newly-indepednent states of the region.
Russian PM Sees Economy Improving
August 5, 1998
By NICK WADHAMS
MOSCOW (AP) - Improved tax collections in July show that Russia is making
progress in getting its budget in order under an austerity program, Prime
Minister Sergei Kiriyenko said in an interview published Wednesday.
Also, the government has not had to spend any of the $4.8 billion it recently
received from the International Monetary Fund, using the money instead to
bolster the Central Bank's reserves, Kiriyenko told the Moskovsky Komsomolets
The loan, part of a $22.6 billion bailout package to be released gradually as
Russia cleans up its finances, helped avoid a devaluation of the national
currency, the ruble, he said.
``The country was nearing the edge. We have made a step back but have not run
far away from the precipice,'' he said.
Russia's tax collection figures are up, but receipts in August will be lower
than expected, partly because the Communist-dominated parliament rejected some
government plans for new tax laws before breaking for summer vacation.
The sluggish tax reform progress may be a factor when the IMF decides whether
to release the next installment of the loan next month.
International lenders are intent on keeping pressure on the government to
follow through with promises that have often melted away in the past.
Tax receipts for August are expected to total 12.5 billion rubles ($2
billion), up marginally from July, which was in turn higher than June.
But the August figure will fall far short of the target of 14.8 billion rubles
($2.3 billion), Interfax reported.
Parliament's lower house, which is led by Communists, will reconvene for a
special session Aug. 19-20 to consider a series of austerity bills, including
amended versions of measures rejected in July, Gennady Seleznyov, the speaker
of parliament, said after meeting Kiriyenko.
Also, the upcoming sale of a 5 percent stake in gas monopoly Gazprom is
attracting a number of potential foreign buyers, including Shell and the
Italian company ENI, Russian Deputy State Property Minister Alexander
He said the government earned 1.3 billion rubles ($215 million) from
privatization sales in the first half of 1998, up from the previous year but
well short of the entire year's target of 8.1 billion rubles ($1.35 billion).
August 6, 1998
Religions Hit by New Visa Rule
By Frank Brown
Special to The Moscow Times
Foreign priests, preachers, nuns and rabbis say they are being denied
Russian visas for any period longer than three months under a new,
unpublicized regulation adopted by the Foreign Ministry.
The ministry's "internal instruction," implemented about a month ago,
forces foreign religious workers to leave the country every three
months, apply for a new visa at a Russian consulate, wait for the visa,
and then return to Russia to continue their work.
The reason for the measure remains a mystery. After looking into the
matter, a spokesman in the Foreign Ministry's visa department said he
could not confirm it existed.
"We have no word of the alleged instruction. Our leadership has not
heard of it. No one has heard of it," Yury Volkov said. A copy of the
directive was faxed to him late Wednesday afternoon, but he was not in
the office to respond.
A prominent Russian religious rights lawyer says he has filed complaints
with the Prosecutor General's Office, President Boris Yeltsin's
administration and the Justice Ministry. Officials at two Western
embassies said they are concerned about the new measure and are seeking
an explanation from their Russian counterparts.
Moscow-based religious workers, including Jews, Baptists, charismatic
Protestants and Roman Catholics, said they began encountering problems
early last month when clergy, who had previously been granted one-year,
multi-entry visas were denied them.
Yelena Murlykova, who handles visas for the 35 American and Israeli
rabbis working in Chabad Lubavitch congregations across Russia,
described her first encounter with Foreign Ministry visa officials
implementing the new rule.
"They said, 'That's the way it is. If you don't want one, then go away,'
" Murlykova recalled. "That's how they put it. No explanation."
Eventually at the suggestion of a helpful Foreign Ministry clerk,
Murlykova said she obtained a visa for the rabbi as a cultural worker
rather than a religious worker.
"Thanks to the fact that we work on the development of Jewish culture
and education, we can do this. But it isn't a long-term solution,"
Murlykova said. "Sooner or later, they are going to figure out that this
is a rabbi."
No one familiar with the new regulation is suggesting that there is a
connection between it and Russia's restrictive new law on religion that
was adopted nearly a year ago. "Obviously it is a threat to freedom of
religion, but we see no indication that it is part of an organized
effort," said a religious affairs specialist at a Western embassy who
asked not to be identified. The specialist said the new regulation was
not "being directed from above or part of an effort to crack down on
missionaries." He said Russian government officials had no immediate
explanation for the change, but at least one speculated it might have
been devised as a way to make money.
Another Moscow-based diplomat, Archbishop John Bukovsky of the Vatican's
representation to Russia, said, "If it is applied strictly, it will be
quite unpleasant for us." The Roman Catholic Church has 190 priests and
170 nuns, nearly all of them foreigners, working in Russia.
Thomas Hoehle, a Roman Catholic priest living in the small Siberian town
of Talmenka with four nuns, said the new regulations mean that he must
return to Germany four times a year. That means traveling three hours by
local bus to Novosibirsk and then flying up to seven hours to Berlin,
which has a Russian consulate. The whole process, Hoehle said, takes
about two weeks and the plane ticket alone costs 1,200 Deutsche marks,
or about $675. Until now, Hoehle's German bishop has picked up the tab
for the annual trek.
"If it is four times a year, I don't know who will pay for it," Hoehle
said with an uneasy laugh.
Russia's estimated 1,500 Protestant missionaries, mostly Americans, make
up the majority of foreign religious workers. While no one is predicting
that the number of missionaries will drop because of the new visa
regime, one American woman responsible for securing visas for
missionaries predicted it would make people think twice about choosing
Russia for a mission.
"It could discourage people in America, especially somebody who is
coming for the first time and is trying to raise money to come," said
Beth Richard, the office administrator for Global Strategy, a
charismatic Protestant group based in Louisiana and operating about 40
registered churches in Russia. Richard said most missionaries are
expected to find their own funding, typically from their home churches.
Aside from isolated grumbling, none of a smattering of foreign-based
religious operations contacted in recent days was contemplating a
campaign to overturn the measure. Their best hope is perhaps the
Christian Legal Center, a non-profit, non-denominational organization
specializing in religious freedom issues. The center's president,
Vladimir Ryakhovsky, said he had obtained a copy of the Foreign
Ministry's internal directive and lodged complaints about it. He is
waiting for an explanation. "If there is no reaction, then we will file
a suit in court," said Ryakhovksy, who took part in a recent challenge
to the constitutionality of Russia's new religion law. "For example, if
some missionary is denied a one-year visa, then we'll file a suit
Both a lawyer for the Catholic Church and a Jewish leader said they
hoped the problem could be resolved by bringing the matter to the
attention of the presidential administration's religious affairs
committee, which is scheduled to convene next in September.
In the meantime, said Zinovy Kogan of Moscow's Choral Synagogue, the law
poses a major inconvenience to Moscow's chief rabbi, Pinchas
Goldschmidt, a Swiss.
"It is a problem. It is a big problem. The rabbi is based here and we
need him all the time. We need him to lead prayers. We need him to
teach. I'm not even talking about the money required to send him back
and forth every three months and do all the paperwork," Kogan said. "On
top of that he has a big family -- six children."
Los Angeles Times
August 4, 1998
[for personal use only]
Russia's Literary Outcasts Are Reborn
Arts: Devotees retrace lives of once-banned writers as museums spring up
in St. Petersburg.
By CAROL J. WILLIAMS, Times Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia--In this city that for centuries has been the
literary font of Russia, Tamara Nikitina worked for 35 years at a major
library without ever finding a word from the works of her favorite poet.
To read the cherished verses of Anna Akhmatova during the Soviet
era, brave admirers such as Nikitina had to borrow flimsy, tattered
pages of underground manuscripts from the most trusted of friends and
then smuggle them home for clandestine perusal out of sight of the
Today, devotees of Akhmatova, Vladimir Nabokov, Mikhail Zoshchenko
and other once-banned writers can relive the triumphs and tragedies of
their repressed heroes now that democracy and capitalism have combined
to allow their resurrection.
Museums dedicated to literary giants who were virtually erased by
the Communist culture conspiracy have opened throughout St. Petersburg
to belatedly celebrate their contributions.
From the grim communal flat on the Fontanka Canal where Akhmatova
burned the written copies of her verses after committing them to memory
to the elegant mansion where Nabokov was born into privilege and wrote
his first sensual tributes to an ill-fated love, the restored sites have
reacquainted residents and visitors with the full richness of this
imperial city's literary heritage.
Pariah Status Ends
St. Petersburg has long been replete with monuments to those writers
who weathered the 20th century's political turbulence, either by virtue
of having died before the revolution or by joining with the
revolutionary fervor for ideological correctness. The restored
apartments of Fyodor Dostoevsky, Nikolai Gogol, Ivan Turgenev and
Alexander Pushkin were authorized places of pilgrimage even during the
But only since the advent of glasnost a decade ago and the more
slowly emerging concept of philanthropic support of culture have the
works and memories of the repressed writers been brought to the fore.
A museum commemorating Nabokov opened only last year, and
Akhmatova's belongings have taken time to be reassembled even though the
apartment-memorial has been in the works for nine years.
For fans of the writers whose genius the Communists sought to
erase, late is gratefully accepted as better than never.
"I was already retired when this museum opened, but I had to come
to work here," says the 67-year-old Nikitina, who stands a voluntary and
dedicated vigil over the tiny room where Akhmatova holed up during the
worst years of the Great Terror, Josef Stalin's purges of the 1930s. "It
wasn't possible to bring her works to the attention of the masses
before, and now that it is possible, I have to dedicate myself to the
cause of helping her achieve her overdue fame."
In the tiny room with its narrow bed and a brewer's chair for a
night stand, Akhmatova secretly penned her masterful "Requiem,"
recounting the tortured vigils staged by the wives and mothers of those
imprisoned by Stalin during the purges.
At 47 Bolshaya Morskaya St., the small museum preserving the early
history and writings of Nabokov opened in full only this year after an
extensive renovation of the three-story house where the author of
"Lolita" spent his first 18 years. As members of the elite, young
Nabokov and his family were forced to flee Russia after the 1917
Bolshevik Revolution. But in the stately home once again graced by
crystal chandeliers and inlaid wood paneling, Nabokov produced a book of
verses for his first girlfriend, Valentina Shulgina.
"To her, for her, about her," the 17-year-old Nabokov wrote in
dedicating the poems that the Nabokov Foundation underwriting the museum
has reproduced in their original Old Russian version, including
footnotes with the tragic history of Shulgina.
"She met with an unhappy fate after the Nabokovs left," confirms
one of the curators of the exhibit. "Her parents were imprisoned, and
she was forced to marry a commissar to save herself."
The tiny, newly restored apartment of Zoshchenko at 4 Malaya
Konyushennaya St. is hailed as a fitting tribute to the writer who ran
afoul of the authorities for his biting satire on the discomforts and
indignities of the communal apartments they carved out of elegant
Unlike most of the museum-homes, Zoshchenko's two-room apartment
remained in his family after his death in 1958 and retains many of his
Restoration of the homes of prominent writers has been slow, in
large part because the impoverished Russian state has curtailed funding
for cultural projects and because corporate sponsorship remains in its
infancy here. But one local charitable organization calling itself the
Foundation for the Renaissance of St. Petersburg is working to instill a
culture of giving among the entrepreneurs and industrialists emerging in
these early days of capitalism.
"Our main goal is to revive and preserve the historic and cultural
heritage of St. Petersburg, but we now have to rely almost solely on the
donations of sponsors," says Nina Purgina, deputy director of the
renaissance foundation. So far, the main supporters have been foreign
philanthropic organizations such as the New York-based Soros Foundation
and Britain's Know-How Fund, but the group hopes to generate patronage
among wealthy Russians and to train museum directors in the ways of
fund-raising and self-reliance.
Extra Income Possible
None of the literary museums has yet teamed up with a publishing
house to offer a full array of any of the commemorated artists' works at
the scene of their creation--a merchandising initiative that could earn
extra income for the museums.
To date, the hundreds of sites where Russian literary greats lived,
worked, were arrested or dueled to the death for love or honor are
mostly noted only with plaques or small statues, if at all.
Only Pushkin, Russia's most revered writer, is recognized with
multiple tributes throughout the city, from the fully restored Pushkin
House museum with his 4,000-volume study to the obelisk marking the
Black River embankment scene of his 1837 duel that ended his life two
Dostoevsky lived in at least 20 different apartments during his three
decades in St. Petersburg, last and longest at the recently restored
corner house at 5 Kuznechny Lane. But the more intriguing visit for the
Dostoevsky student is the "Crime and Punishment" tour offered by private
travel agencies that follows in the footsteps of the author's brooding
character Raskolnikov to the real-life scenes of darkness and
dilapidation mentioned in the novel.
Another capitalist twist on Dostoevsky's dark musings on good and
evil is the Cafe Idiot, which opened last year on the Moika Canal
embankment. With its low, vaulted ceilings, mismatched furniture and the
ubiquitous crowds of chic young patrons, the smoky cellar evokes the
very atmosphere often constructed by the author.
For some local residents, however, the commercial ventures
revisiting scenes from the city's literary past offer an environment a
little too close to reality for comfort.
"Many Russians don't like the Idiot," says Yevgenia Borisova, a St.
Petersburg journalist who says her crowd hangs out elsewhere. "We
already live in cramped, shabby apartments. Why would we want to
re-create this in places for relaxation?"
HEFTY RECEIPTS FROM PRIVATISATION TO BECOME TANGIBLE
ONLY LATER IN THE YEAR
MOSCOW, AUGUST 5, 1998 /FROM RIA NOVOSTI CORRESPONDENT
REGINA LUKASHINA/ -- The greater part of receipts from
privatisation within the competence of the State Property
Ministry will reach the state coffers only in the second half of
the year, first deputy State Property Minister Alexander
Braverman said at a press-conference in the Government House.
As of today, the direct contribution to the federal budget
from privatisation stands at 1,300 million roubles, with the
budget target being 8,100 million. Braverman refuses to dubb
this "a disastrous failure" as the state of the market and
political factors were largely involved in this case. In
comparison with the previous year, incomings from privatisation
Braverman reported that the gap would be filled with
staging three major investment auctions before the end of the
year, among which is a commercial competition on the sale of a
5-percent bloc of Gazprom shares. According to him, the bloc
value will markedly exceed internal prices for the company's
Besides, plans include the holding of an auction on the
sale of 25 percent plus two shares of the Svyazinvest company,
with a forecast revenue of about $1,100 million.
As far as Rosneft is concerned, much efforts has been
recently mustered to improve its image. It is predicted that
$1,600 million will have been registered already by October 27.
Rents, including those for property abroad, have already
yielded 350 million roubles, which in fact corresponds to
budgetary targets; 800 million roubles are estimated to come
from the utilisation of state property in Moscow and the same
sum in other regions.