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Johnson's Russia List
7 November 1998
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Interfax: Zyuganov Leads Politicians Rating Poll in Russia.
2. Radio Rossii Network: Yavlinskiy Says Russia Remains Very Stable
3. Fred Weir in Moscow reports on November 7 demonstrations.
4. The Times (UK): Anna Blundy, Russia battles to purge language of
5. AP: Yeltsin Lashes at Communists.
6. Moscow Times editorial: Let Nov. 7 Be Last for Useless Party.
7. Strobe Talbott (Deputy Secretary of State): GOGOL'S TROIKA: THE CASE
FOR STRATEGIC PATIENCE IN A TIME OF TROUBLES. (November 6 speech at
8. Reuters: One Russian Truth left as newspaper changes name.]
Zyuganov Leads Politicians Rating Poll in Russia
MOSCOW, Nov 5 (Interfax) -- If Russia held presidential elections this
Sunday, Communist Party of Russia leader Gennadiy Zyuganov would win the
first round of the hypothetical polls with 18% of the votes, the Public
Opinion foundation told Interfax after conducting a poll last Sunday.
The poll involved 1,500 respondents in urban and rural areas of thecountry.
Prime Minister Yevgeniy Primakov would finish second with 15% of thevotes.
However, when asked to name the candidate they would never vote for,
only 6% of the respondents named the prime minister. Another 27% of the
respondents said they would not vote for Zyuganov under any circumstances.
Compared to the previous poll of October 24, the number of the
Communist leader's supporters has not changed significantly. Primakov,
however, has increased his approval rating. On October 24, only 13% of the
respondents would have voted for the prime minister as a
Another 13% of the respondents said last Sunday that they are ready to
elect Moscow Mayor Yuriy Luzhkov as the Russian president, 2% more than in
October.Krasnoyarsk territory Governor Aleksandr Lebed is now being supported
by 12% of the Russians, 1% up on October.
Grigoriy Yavlinskiy, the leader of the Yabloko movement, would receive
10% of the vote if the presidential polls were held on Sunday. One month
ago the figure was 9%.
In total, 16% of the respondents said they would never vote for Lebed
in the presidential elections. Another 13% of the respondents said the
same about Yavlinskiy and 9% about Luzhkov.
In October, about 35% of the respondents said they trusted Primakov.
Another 23% of the respondents denied him their confidence.
As for Zyuganov, the number of those who do not trust him has often
exceeded the number of those who do. The ratio for Zyuganov in October was
50%:/30%. The ratio for Lebed and Yavlinskiy was the same: 27%:/43%. The
figures were more even for Luzhkov: 34%:/36%.
Yavlinskiy Says Russia Remains Very Stable Country
Radio Rossii Network
5 November 1998
[translation for personal use only]
In spite of the profound economic crisis and the protracted political
crisis, Russia remains a very stable country, Yabloko leader Grigoriy
Yavlinskiy told a conference entitled "Russia 2000: Financial Crisis, the
West's Role, and the Prospects for Social Development" being held in
Berlin. Yavlinskiy stressed that the Russian leadership has managed,
albeit with difficulty, to keep the political situation under control and
to continue the evolutionary process of reform. He also noted that Russia
is grateful to the West for its aid. However, the Yabloko leader expressed
the wish that Russia will not be given advice which the authors would not
want to carry out in their own countries.
Date: Sat, 07 Nov 1998
For the Hindustan Times
From: Fred Weir in Moscow
MOSCOW (HT Nov 7) -- Tens of thousands of Communist
supporters marched through downtown Moscow Saturday to mark the
81st anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution and to demand the
removal of today's Russian government.
"The country has been destroyed by criminals led by
President Boris Yeltsin," said Yelena Alexandrova, a 65-year old
geophysicist who was among the estimated 50,000 protesters who
gathered on Moscow's Lubyanka Square.
"The Soviet Union created industry and national power, and
these people have wrecked it in less than a decade. They must all
be driven out."
The crowd was addressed by Communist Party leader Gennady
Zyuganov, parliamentary Speaker Gennady Seleznyov and other left-
All speakers bemoaned the dismal state of Russia's economy,
the degradation of its armed forces and the social demoralization
since the demise of the USSR. Mr. Zyuganov called for President
Yeltsin's impeachment and formation of a government of national
trust to pull Russia out of its historic crisis.
The November 7 anniversary of the 1917 Russian Revolution
was the most important day on the Soviet calendar. Festivities
always included a huge military parade on Red Square, with
Communist Party leaders watching from atop the masoleum of
Vladimir Lenin, founder of the USSR.
It remains an official holiday in post-Soviet Russia, but
has been re-named as "the day of national reconciliation". For
most people it is simply an extra day off work, but millions of
Communists and their supporters continue to celebrate it for its
"This is a day that has global meaning. All of history was
changed by the Russian Revolution," said Alexandra Yastrebova, a
64-year old professor at Peoples Friendship University in Moscow.
"The Revolution was an example of how people can change
their lives radically, and today it more than ever shows the way
to the future."
This year Russia has endured economic breakdown and sharply
deteriorating social stability. Aid agencies fear mass hunger and
social collapse could afflict some regions of the country this
Mr. Yeltsin, who engineered the breakup of the USSR and has
dominated post-Soviet politics, is enfeebled by illness and
appears to be fading from political relevance.
"Russia is at one of those moments like 1917 when everything
can be turned around by revolution," said Ms. Yastrebova. "I
would be very happy to see this monster Yeltsin and all his works
swept away by the tide of history."
The Times (UK)
November 7 1998
[for personal use only]
Russia battles to purge language of foreign invaders
The purity of the mother tongue is in danger, writes Anna Blundy
THE Russians, sick of the linguistic colonisation that has been taking place
in their country for almost a decade, are preparing to submit a law to the
State Duma on the use of pure Russian.
Taking a stand against the Americanisation of the language of Tolstoy, Chekhov
and Turgenev, the proposed law will limit the use of the unnecessary foreign
words which arrived in Russia with the first "Beeg Mac i fraiz'' and have
increasingly infected the language ever since.
At the Marina Tsvetayeva museum this week, a photograph of the poet looked
sadly down on the assembled Russian literature lovers whose society had
brought them together to discuss the desperate state of their language.
The fact that most politicians speak Russian badly to the point of incoherence
is a national joke. It is widely said that one only has to look at the faces
of Duma deputies to see that the intelligentsia was killed off in purges.
Tatyana Guzikov, a member of the society, said that she could not think of one
politician who did not make frequent and serious grammatical mistakes.
On Itogi magazine's weekly page of ludicrous quotes, Viktor Chernomyrdin, the
former Prime Minister, pops up a lot. Of Gennadi Zyuganov, the Communist Party
leader, he said: "So the clever thing has found himself! Declare war on him!
Him! Also! And that! Right away, we'll do it all! And what does he know! And
who is he anyway! He's also crawling somewhere else if you don't mind.''
"Chernomyrdin, of course, is the main offender,'' said Vladimir Nerozak, head
of the society. "Yeltsin is simply off the scale. His Russian is simple, to
say the least.''
President Yeltsin is notorious for peppering his basic Russian with colloquial
phrases, equivalent to Tony Blair ending every sentence with: "You know what I
Mr Nerozak, one of the authors of the new law, insisted that the mass media
were the worst culprits and said that his deepest wish was that Russian should
be properly taught in schools.
Yeltsin Lashes at Communists
7 November 1998
MOSCOW (AP) -- Calling Russia's revolutionary period ``irrevocably over,''
President Boris Yeltsin lashed out against his communist opponents Saturday in
a nationally televised television address on the 81st anniversary of Russia's
Yeltsin's speech came during nationwide protests timed to coincide with the
anniversary. Communists called for his ouster, the abolishment of the
presidency and a return to Soviet-style economic planning.
``Yes, they (the Communists) again came out with red banners, they again
blamed reforms and called for cancellation of the presidency, but only
fanatics could call for a massacre or an uprising like in October 1917,'' the
Yeltsin, who is recuperating from his latest illness at the southern Black Sea
resort of Sochi, also accused the Communists of taking advantage of his
political and economic reforms while demanding their reversal at the same
``Today's Communists fully enjoy the results of democracy, from the free
market to freedom of assembly and especially freedom of press,'' Yeltsin said.
``Their party programs aren't only about the bright future and social
fairness. There appears also democracy and private property. Free enterprise
and the financial market. And there's not one word about the old (communist)
values -- the fight against religion, the hegemony of the proletariat, world
Yeltsin's popularity is in the single digits, and Russians generally express
disappointment with him after he promised sweeping reform and a better future
after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Even though anger with Yeltsin has grown in the last few months as he
continues to be sidelined for health reasons, opposition leaders have failed
to mount any serious threat to his presidency.
Looking pale and speaking slowly, Yeltsin also claimed that Russia had gone
too far down the path of reform to go back.
``No matter how much (the communists) curse reforms, the most important have
been done.'' Reforms ``turned around not only the course of history, but also
the outlook of the people. From enmity and hatred to tolerance and dialogue.''
November 7, 1998
EDITORIAL: Let Nov. 7 Be Last for Useless Party
The Communist Party is once again preparing to celebrate Nov. 7, the high
holiday of its now defunct national religion. It was 81 years ago that a group
of Bolsheviks stormed the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg and started 70 years
of communist rule.
But the holiday finds a party deeply divided, lacking any policies and
increasing consumed by bitter prejudices.
The anti-Semitic and violent wing of the party has come to the fore over the
past week and the marches over the weekend will no doubt provide another
showcase for their anger.
Communist State Duma Deputy Albert Makashov has been under investigation for
making blatantly anti-Semitic threats - but this is not a big problem for his
party. The Communists were instrumental in defeating a censure motion against
Makashov proposed by liberal deputies on the floor of the Duma.
The Communist Party then declared war on the entire Russian television media,
issuing a threat to compile "accusations" againt leading media personalities.
In a country where the communist regime destroyed all freedom of speech, this
sort of talk evokes terrible memories.
Many Communists may also sympathize with the lunatic ultranationalist who
tried to blow up the Kremlin this week.
These worrying tendencies coexist in a party which also has a moderate wing
that is looking for allies. Some Communist leaders have been flirting with
Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, claiming they might form some sort of nationalist
And yet in one sense, the Communists are now more influential than they ever
have been. A Communist Party member, Yury Maslyukov, is now first deputy prime
minister in charge of the economy.
In fact, Maslyukov's vacillating performance as minister is a perfect example
of the Communist's lack of any clear policies for Russia. Maslyukov has
announced numerous versions of a still-to-be published program that are long
on slogans and short on content or hard figures.
The programs mix nostalgia for Soviet-era planning with sullen acceptance of
the reality of Russia's free market.
This Nov. 7 holiday should be the last and the Communist Party should disband.
Only a tiny fraction of people in Russia still believe the communist myth and
the rump party that survives has no useful role to play.
Russia's Communists are almost unique in Eastern Europe in their failure to
reinvent themselves as a modern social democratic party. Their continued
existence ensures that Russia is obsessed with the past and trapped by dead
United States Information Agency
06 November 1998
TEXT: NOV. 6: TALBOTT URGES STRATEGIC PATIENCE TOWARD RUSSIA
(US to remain engaged in Russia during current troubles) (5180)
Palo Alto, California -- The United States will seek to follow a
policy of "strategic patience" with Russia, Deputy Secretary of State
Strobe Talbott said here November 6 in a major speech on the
challenges Russia faces and the way they are influenced by Russia's
complex history and national character.
"The alternative to strategic pessimisn is not so much optimism, which
assumes a happy ending, as it is realism about the complexity of the
challenges and the uncertainty Russia faces," Talbott told a
conference on "Russia at the End of the 2Oth Century" sponsored by
Stanford University's School of Humanities and Sciences.
"The policy that flows from realism is one of strategic patience and
persistence. That means continuing engagement. Even though
international macroeconomic support of the kind that we provide
through the IMF [International Monetary Fund] must wait until the
Russian government shows itself willing and able to make the difficult
structural adjustments necessary for recovery and growth, we will stay
By remaining engaged with Russia on a number of critical fronts --
banking, energy, food, exchanges, and cooperative threat reduction --
in the months ahead, Talbott said, "we will be demonstrating to the
Russia government and the Russian people our determination not to give
up on them, even -- perhaps even especially -- in a time of troubles."
Following is text of Talbott's speech at Stanford University, as
prepared for delivery:
GOGOL'S TROIKA: THE CASE FOR STRATEGIC PATIENCE IN A TIME OF TROUBLES
An address by Strobe Talbott, Deputy Secretary of State, at a
conference on "Russia at the End of the 2Oth Century," School of
Humanities and Sciences
Palo Alto, California
November 6, 1998
Thank you, Bill [former Secretary of Defense Perry], for that
introduction and for the chance to work with you for four years. I
suspect that everyone here appreciates the crucial role that you
played in managing U.S.-Russian relations. Just to cite one example:
it is because of Bill Perry's statesmanship that Russian officers and
troops are keeping the peace in Bosnia today side-by-side with the
forces of NATO.
There are lots of other friends and colleagues here, but I want to
single out the mastermind and master of ceremonies of this conference,
Grisha Freidin, who has been my friend and mentor for more than 25
The topic that Professor Freidin has assigned to all of us for our
homework, "Russia at the End of the 20th Century," is especially on
the minds of President Clinton and Secretary Albright these days.
That's for reasons that are obvious from the newspaper headlines.
But Russia is always on our minds, and that's for reasons that are
reflected in history and literature. In the final passage of "Dead
Souls," Nikolai Gogol compared his homeland to a troika, hurtling
across the snowy steppe, while other nations "gaze askance" and
wonder, along with Gogol himself, where this wild ride is headed. A
century and a half later, quite a few Russians think the answer is:
straight off the edge of a cliff.
I'm here with a different answer. Is Russia a troika-wreck waiting to
happen? Maybe, but not necessarily. More than other countries,
Russia's future is in doubt, but that is not new. That was part of
Gogol's point. Gloom and doom are no more justified now than was
euphoria a few short years ago. Yes, much of what is happening in
Russia is obscure; yes, some of it is ominous. But this much is clear:
the drama of Russia's transformation is not over; its ending is
neither imminent nor foreordained; and the stakes, for us, are huge.
As the Russians seek to work their way out of their current crisis,
they will be making decisions that determine what sort of relationship
they can have with the outside world for decades to come. Russia's
choices will have a lot to do with what kind of world Americans live
in, how safe we are, and how much we have to spend on our safety.
Therefore, under two Administrations -- President Clinton's and what
I'll call here "the Rice Administration" -- the U.S. has been
committed to encourage and assist Russia in its evolution toward
becoming a normal, modern, prosperous, democratic state at peace with
itself and its neighbors, a full member and beneficiary of an
increasingly interdependent world community.
For the last decade or so, despite the zigs and zags, Russia has been
moving in that direction. The question of the last several months is
whether Russia has, in some fundamental way, shifted course, heading
at break-neck speed back to the future, or over the precipice.
That question arises because of the crisis, largely though not wholly
self- inflicted, that has befallen the economy. Less than a year ago,
Russia seemed to be poised for an economic take-off. But then internal
weaknesses combined with outrageous fortune, especially the worldwide
fall in commodity prices, to stampede the government into the
devaluation of the ruble and a partial default on many of its debts.
In a matter of a few weeks this past summer, Russians saw much of
their savings evaporate, many of their banks go belly-up, the bottom
fall out of their fledgling stock market, goods disappear from stores,
and a burgeoning middle class sent reeling.
Even before Black Monday, August 17, and the crash that followed, the
mood had already changed dramatically in ways that are captured by
several of the papers that have been presented at this conference. For
example, what Peter Holquist calls "Soviet exceptionalism" had long
since given way, first, to post-Soviet relief, then to
post-post-Soviet letdown -- to reform fatigue on the part of the elite
and to a backlash against reform on the part of the citizenry.
Another participant in the conference, Natalya Ivanova, has referred
to the late `8Os and the `9Os as smutnye (dark and troubled) years.
They were also, of course, chudyesnye (a time of miracles). They were
the years when Russia won for itself unprecedented economic and
political freedom and when Russia liberated its former satellites and
fellow inmates in the prison house of nations. But Dr. Ivanova is
right about the perceptions, disappointments and anxieties of many
Language itself has been turned on its head. As the `9Os unfolded,
"reform" and "market" went from being part of the vocabulary of
triumph and hope to being, in the ears of many Russians, almost
four-letter words. The noun "kapitalizm" came increasingly to be
modified with the adjective "dilyt" (savage). Accordingly, "the West"
went from being an object of emulation to a target of resentment. In
the meantime, another word, "left" has come back into fashion. The
Communist Party of the Russian Federation and its parliamentary allies
have called for a "return" to a compassionate, paternalistic and
pervasive state that looks out for workers, soldiers and pensioners.
The composition of Russia's new government, led by Prime Minister
Primakov, is representative of this mood and of these trends. It has
largely rejected what its officials call the "Western" way of managing
their economy; they are groping for a "Russian" way instead.
Oksana Bulgakowa's paper explains what the Russian way means in
architecture: phantasmagoric kickoffs of Stalinist monuments, czarist
palaces and pre-Christian temples, appealing to nostalgia for a
supposedly simpler, nobler past. But what does the Russian way mean in
economics? Part of the answer is paying wages and pensions and
reviving the industrial sector, which are sensible, indeed
indispensable goals. Our concern is that, in trying to reach those
goals, the Primakov team is prepared to abandon a stable currency, a
viable exchange rate and a sound monetary policy. It is operating with
neither a realistic budget nor a credible system for collecting taxes.
That means Russia is at the mercy of the printing press, cranking out
rubles to meet payrolls and keep bankrupt enterprises afloat.
The point here is that the economic rules that the custodians of the
Russian economy are threatening to defy are not so much "Western" as
they are a matter of simple arithmetic. Since the numbers don't add
up, the intended remedies only aggravate the disease. Inflation is
almost 50% higher than it was a year ago; many Russian banks are
unable to meet the repayment obligations on their outstanding loans;
billions of dollars in capital have fled the country since August.
There is another consequence, too: It has become all but impossible
for the International Monetary Fund to weigh in with macroeconomic
stabilization funds that might help in arresting and reversing the
slide. Money from outside will do no good if it is inflated away or if
it pauses only briefly in Russia before ending up in Swiss bank
accounts and Riviera real estate.
Without external support, it is likely that the Russian government
will face three disagreeable choices: 1) crank the printing presses
even faster, 2) plunge deeper into default, or 3) stop paying wages
and pensions and conducting basic government functions. Whatever
combination of these measures the government adopts, Russia's economic
situation is likely to deteriorate further.
Economic decline carries with it the danger of political drift,
turmoil, and even crackup.
Why is Russia in this situation? Part of the answer is the drag of
recent history. Russia's 74-year experiment with Communism is like a
black hole; the Soviet system imploded eight years ago, yet this dead
star, even though it emits no light, still exerts a powerful
gravitational pull that threatens to suck Russia backward and inward.
But that is by no means all that is happening in Russia today.
Political and economic culture are not immutable; they're not like
astrophysics; the dynamics by which they operate can change -- and
change for the better. Over time, the tug of the Soviet experience
That process will take a generation or more, not least because part of
the process is, precisely, generational. There is an irony here:
because the disintegration of the Soviet system was remarkably
peaceful, many of those who had been vested in, and responsible for,
the old order are now shaping the new one. That's the bad news,
reflected in the dismal economic statistics. The good news is in the
actuarial tables. The young have certain advantages over the old in
the struggle for over future.
Another factor shaping and guiding Russia is globalization. That
country today is part of the world to an extent and in a way that it
never was in the past. Russia's susceptibility to the Asian contagion
has been a reminder of the downside of globalization. But there is an
upside too: counteracting the old temptations of autarky and
regression are new and powerful forces pulling Russia outward and
forward, toward integration, not just integration with the global
marketplace but also with what Manuel Castells and Emma Kiselyova
describe, in their paper, as the global "network society." Literally
and figuratively, Russia is now plugged into the rest of the world,
through cellular telephones, fax machines, modems and PC's.
This trend has been under way for some time. In the `70s and `80s,
Russia was Exhibit A for the proposition that George Orwell's
nightmare vision for 1984 was wrong: the communications revolution
weakened Big Brother rather than strengthening him. The quantum leap
in the number of Russians who travel abroad and surf the Internet may
yet turn out to be what Professor Castells and Dr. Kiselyovi call "the
dynamic core" of Russian modernization and thus constitute a hedge
against the old Big Brother's ever making a comeback.
Because it has occurred against this backdrop, democratization has
taken hold surprisingly quickly and proved remarkably durable. The
Primakov government came into being because President Yeltsin and the
Parliament played by the rules of a post-Soviet constitution that was
approved by popular referendum. That is not, to put it mildly, the way
Russian politics worked in the past. Russians of almost all stripes
seem to cherish their new freedom and responsibility to vote freely,
fairly and often; many are suspicious of grand schemes that feature an
all-powerful state as the panacea to their problems.
Still, it is too early to proclaim Russian democratization
irreversible. The longer the economic meltdown continues and the more
serious it becomes, the harder it will be for Russia to sustain and
consolidate the various institutions and habits of what might be
called political normalcy: constitutionalism, give-and-take
compromises, constituency politics, coalition building, all of which
need for their sustenance an atmosphere of pluralism, vigorous public
debate and open media.
Therefore the principal point of suspense today is whether the new
cooperation between the executive and legislative branches will prove,
over time, conducive to mote rationality and common sense in the
By the same token, depending on how far and for how long the pendulum
swings to the left, Russian foreign and defense policies could also
come under the sway of nationalism in its more contentious,
self-delusional and self-isolating form call it post-Soviet
exceptionalism. As Russia asserts its own special needs and distances
itself from the West on the economic front, we may be in for
heightened tensions over security and diplomatic issues.
But, friends and colleagues, so far that has not happened. The United
States and Russia today are still cooperating far more than we are
competing; we are still agreeing more than we are disagreeing. And
where we disagree, we are, by and large, managing our disagreements.
Whether that continuity can be sustained will depend in part on
whether Prime Minister Primakov and Foreign Minister Ivanov let the
policy preferences of a dyspeptic Duma and an often combative elite
greatly influence the work of that Stalin-gothic skyscraper that
houses the Foreign Ministry on Smolenskaya Square, where Mr. Primakov
himself worked until September 11.
The pressure is likely to mount. The mood in the Duma is bilious. Many
parliamentary deputies depict the unresolved issues between the U.S.
and Russia in terms of concessions that we Americans are supposedly
trying to extract from them or as favors we are asking them to do for
Nothing could further from the truth. Virtually every issue between us
can be boiled down to a matter of mutual interest and mutual benefit.
Russia needs an effective non-proliferation regime since Russian
cities would be vulnerable if its most dangerous technology ends up in
the wrong hands. Russia needs strategic arms reduction since it cannot
afford to maintain its arsenal at Cold War levels. And Russia
definitely needs a collaborative relationship with Europe, including
with NATO and the European Union.
Peter Holquist's paper describes how the Soviet experience deepened
Russia's sense of not really belonging to Europe. Post-Soviet Russia
has already gone a long way toward joining the European mainstream. It
is now a member of the G-8; the Council of Europe, the Arctic Council,
the Council of Baltic Sea States, the Permanent Joint Council created
by the NATO-Russia Founding Act and the Contact Group on the Balkans.
To its credit and benefit and to ours as well -- Russia has gone from
being a spoiler to a joiner.
However, whether this trend in Russian foreign policy continues is
also a matter of some suspense. How Russia defines its role in the
world and its relations with other states will depend crucially on how
it defines itself and its own statehood.
My friend and former colleague Chip Blacker led a discussion on this
topic earlier today. On that panel, Sergei Koruinov raised what in
some ways is "vopros voprosov," the question of questions: what is
Russia's national identity? Gogol was grappling with the same question
in "Dead Souls." The quandary has become even more acute and vexing
since the end of the Soviet period of Russian history, when many
Russians felt that their Motherland was, virtually overnight, deprived
of its name, its flag, nearly half of its territory, its defining
ideology, its governing structure and its protective alliance.
So what is the idea of Russia today? As Sergei makes clear, it's
easier to answer that question in the negative than in the positive.
"The new Russia," he says, "is not the Soviet Union; nor is she the
old Russian empire." Rather, "Russia's new borders, possibilities,
culture, civilization, inner development have all contributed to
making Russia a new state."
Yes, but what kind of a new state? I gather Chip & Company reached a
consensus around another negative answer: whatever Russia becomes, it
will never again be a monolith, in which political power flows rigidly
from the top down and from the center outward. I agree. That
particular Humpty-Dumpty can't be put together again. Russia today is
a crazy-quilt of regions with wildly different economic and political
structures. Some parts of the country are, at least relatively
speaking, oases of liberalization. For example, Novgorod, Nizimy
Novgorod, Samara, Leningrad and Sverdlovsk oblasts. Others remain
Jurassic-like theme parks of Soviet-era policies and personalities. To
wit: Kursk, Krasnodar, Belgorod, Pskov, Volgograd. A few are simply
weird, like Kalmykia, where President Ilyuzhimov reigns as a kind of
Wizard of Oz. Emil Pain's paper describes regionalization run amok in
his Scenario 4.
The new Russia, like its predecessor the Soviet Republic, calls itself
a Federation. But the term "federation" is like "reform" and "market":
Russia has yet to define what it means. Grisha Freidin could help.
Indeed, he has helped: in 1990, he translated into Russian and
distributed, under the imprint Chaliaze publications, this little blue
book: "The Federalist Papers." It offers a home truth that is simple,
that is global, and that is more valid at the end of the 20th century
than it was when Hamilton, Madison and Jay were writing their essays
at the end of the 18th: a successful state especially one that
stretches the length of Eurasia -- must make its diversity a source of
strength; it must foster governance on a scale that allows citizens to
feel connected to decisions that affect their lives.
American diplomacy recognizes the devolution of power downward from
the top and outward from Moscow. Our ambassador in Moscow, Jim
Collins, and his colleagues make a point of fanning out around the
country, working with grass-roots organizations, developing relations
with Russia's governors and mayors (more than 100 of whom are 35 or
younger). We'll do everything we can, despite budgetary stringencies,
to make the most of our three regional outposts -- the
consulate-generals in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinberg, and Vladivostok.
Mr. Primakov is also reaching out to the regions. In his speech to the
Duma the day he was confirmed as Prime Minister, he said that his
priority was "yedinstvo" -- the unity of Russia -- thus clearly
implying that the matter is in some doubt, even in some jeopardy. For
many Russians, angst about their future is compounded by suspicion
about the U.S.'s strategic intentions. The Russian press has carried
numerous articles suggesting that under the guise of "partnership,"
the U.S. is pursuing a hidden agenda not only to keep Russia weak but
to bring about its fragmentation.
Once again, nothing could be further from the truth. The U.S. supports
a unitary Russian state, within its current borders. The violent
breakup of Russia would be immensely dangerous and destabilizing. When
Czechoslovakia split in two in 1992, it was called the velvet divorce.
But multiple divorces among, and perhaps within, the 89 regional
entities of Russia would almost certainly not be velvet. The horror
that has unfolded over the past several years in the Balkans might be
replayed across eleven time zones, with 30,000 nuclear weapons in the
This afternoon Emil Pain argued that that apocalyptic danger has
receded. We must certainly hope so. The ability of Mr. Primakov and
his successors to preserve unity will depend in no small measure on
two issues. One is how they handle the economy in general and the
ruble in particular. A nation's currency is a key manifestation and
underpinning of its sovereignty -- and its unity. This century has
already shown that hyperinflation can destroy states, or turn them
The other defining issue for Russia's "gosudarstvennost" -- the
coherence and viability of its sense of its own statehood -- is how
its leaders, now and in the future, handle relations with their
immediate neighbors. As has often been the case when empires dissolve,
the ethnographic map -- in this case, of "post-Soviet space" -- does
not coincide with the new political one. Many members of the Russian
elite feel the loss of empire like a phantom pain in a lost limb, not
least because the dissolution of the USSR stranded twenty-five million
fellow ethnic Russians on the far side of what became, eight years
ago, international borders. Those Russians now outside of Russia
rightfully want to be full citizens of their newly sovereign
homelands. Any grievances they have, legitimate or otherwise, play
into the hands of ultra-nationalists back in Russia. That is one of
many reasons why we have advocated the adoption of citizenship laws in
the Baltic states that meet international norms of inclusive,
By and large, Russia has kept irredentist impulses largely in check.
Not long after the breakup of the USSR, President Yeltsin made an
historic decision: he affirmed the old interrepublic borders as the
new international ones. He has, at several key points, repudiated the
more bellicose claims of his noisier opponents.
But just because Russia has been relatively restrained to date does
not mean it will be so forever. Mr. Pain warns in his paper that the
threat to Russia's future, and indeed to its integrity as a state,
comes not from secessionism on the part of its own ethnic minorities
-- Chechens, Tatars, Yakuts, Chukchis, Kalmyks, Ingush, Ossetians,
Mordovians -- but from what he calls "maniacal great-power
chauvinism...xenophobia and national close-mindedness" on the part of
some forces within the Russian majority. He is referring to Russians
who would like to make expansionist or annexationist common cause with
Russian minorities in the so called "near abroad." He singles out
Crimea, northern Kazakhstan and Transnistria, in Moldova, as the flash
Georgia might be added to the list, not because of the Russian
minority there (which is small), but because of a temptation on the
part of some in Russia to fish for geopolitical advantage in the
troubled waters of Georgian ethnic disputes and political vendettas.
The short-sightedness of this sort of mischief-making is a lesson
Russia should already have learned. In 1993, Russia fanned the flames
of the Abkhazian secessionist movement, only to find that sparks from
that conflict jumped from the Southern Caucasus to the Northern
Caucasus, contributing to what became the conflagration in Chechnya.
On the positive side of the ledger, in the last couple of years Russia
has begun cooperating more with the United Nations and the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in the quest for
peaceful settlements in the various civil wars, secessionist struggles
and ethnic conflicts in the South Caucasus and Central Asia.
Still, anxieties among Russia's neighbors about how Moscow will handle
its relations with them have only grown in the last several months,
now that some of the more nationalistic elements in the Duma have
become partners-in-power with the executive branch. There is more
skepticism than ever among the non- Russian member states of the
Commonwealth of Independent States about the future of that
organization. Whether it survives and prospers will depend in large
measure on whether it evolves in a way that vindicates the name. If
its largest member tries to make "commonwealth" into a euphemism for a
sphere of influence or an infringement on the independence of its
neighbors -- then the CIS will deserve to join that other set of
initials, USSR, on the ash heap if history.
U.S. policy will continue to focus not just on Russia but on its
neighbors as well. We want to see all the new independent states of
the former Soviet Union survive, and thrive, to become "old"
independent states, just as we want to see Russia's own full
integration into what might be called the global commonwealth of
genuinely independent, mutually respectful states.
A final point -- not so much about Russia as about the American view
of Russia. Part of Russia's problem is, as Gogol put it, that the rest
of the world "gazes askance" at what is happening there. The image of
Russia in the mind of America is increasingly ugly. It has become a
cliche of Hollywood to depict Russia not just as a fallen state but as
a criminal one. Here are just a few examples: "Crimson Tide," "The
Jackal," "The Saint," "Goldeneye," "The Peacemaker," "Air Force One,"
"Ronin," even "Blues Brothers 2000." In every one, Central Casting has
provided as villains Russian mafiosi, renegade generals and former
KGBniks, usually trafficking in loose nukes and dirty money.
This image of feral Russia on the silver screen is mirrored in
adventure comic books, on op-ed pages, in fire-and-brimstone
statements on the floor of Congress and at conferences of academics
and think-tank experts. According to a new conventional wisdom,
"smutnoye vremya" -- the Time of Troubles -- is Russia's natural
state; the phenomenon we have witnessed over the last dozen years --
what many Russians, rightly celebrated as Russia's winning for itself
economic and political freedom and liberating its former satellites
and fellow inmates in the prison house of nations -- now looks like a
false spring in the midst of the endless Russian winter. Russians, it
is often implied, are destined to live in a Hobbesian state of nature,
exiled by the twin curses of history and geography from the civil
society envisioned by John Locke; a predisposition to authoritarian
rule at home and aggressive behavior abroad is encoded in their genes.
This kind of strategic pessimism, if it were to be the basis of U.S.
policy, would lead, at a minimum, to disengagement with Russia -- a
time-out, a pull- back, a heavy dose of benign neglect. The Russians
are so cranky and confused, it is suggested, that perhaps we should
give them a breathing space -- a "peredyshka" -- even if they use it
to drive Gogol's troika right off the edge of that cliff.
Some serious commentators and political figures go a step further,
suggesting that it is time to dust off that old bumper sticker that
summarized U.S. policy toward Russia for nearly five decades:
containment. I've even heard the word "quarantine" suggested as the
most prudent way to deal with what ails Russia.
This bleak view of Russia's future is, at a minimum, premature. It may
turn out to be dead wrong. Or, perversely, we could make it come true,
since if we write Russia off and brace ourselves for a new Cold War,
our pessimism could become self-fulfilling. Russia will make its own
choices and often its own mistakes, but it will make both in no small
measure in response to us.
The alternative to strategic pessimism is not so much optimism, which
assumes a happy ending, as it is realism about the complexity of the
challenges and the uncertainty Russia faces. That is a mindset that
assumes nothing, that does not prejudge the future, that is ready for
anything, not just the worst. The policy that flows from realism is
one of strategic patience and persistence. That means continuing
engagement. Even though international macroeconomic support of the
kind that we provide through the IMF must wait until the Russian
government shows itself willing and able to make the difficult
structural adjustments necessary for recovery and growth, we will stay
engaged in four key areas:
-- THE BANKING SECTOR. The silver lining of the collapse of the
banking system is that it has created an opportunity to create real
banks that do real business, rather than just engage in speculation
-- THE ENERGY SECTOR. Russia will need close to $ 15 billion a year
invested in its energy sector for each of the next seven or eight
years just to get back to 1988 production levels. Western energy
companies want in. But they will not invest in long-term projects
unless the tax regime is clear, property rights are secure and they
can take disputes to international arbitration. Russia knows the laws
it needs to pass. And now is the time when Russian oil companies need
to make clear to their legislators that foreign investment is not
selling the patrimony but preserving it from destruction.
-- FOOD. Russia's bad luck over the past year included the worst grain
harvest in 45 years. Despite large stocks from last year, it could use
up all current food supplies by the end of the winter. The far north
and the east will be hard hit, as will vulnerable groups in big cities
who cannot afford to pay high prices. We have told the Russians that
we are willing to help, and we are discussing the options. The key
factor in whether we go forward is whether the Russians have a clear
strategy for distribution and accountability, and we get
incontrovertible assurances exempting any food assistance we provide
from customs and taxes.
-- EXCHANGES AND NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS. These are
people-to-people programs designed to broaden the base of support in
Russia for open society and rule of law. We will keep using some of
the money available to us under the FREEDOM Support Act to bring local
politicians, entrepreneurs and NGO representatives to the U.S. on
exchanges, and to strengthen regional development. We will also
continue to encourage Russia's participation in the global network
society through programs like our Internet Access and Training
Program, which connects libraries, universities and schools across
Russia with each other and with counterpart institutions around the
-- COOPERATIVE THREAT REDUCTION. The U.S. is safer today because of
the investment we have made in our own security through initiatives
like the Nunn-Lugar program, which helps Russia dismantle its most
lethal weapons in accord with treaties like START I and the Chemical
Weapons Convention. We will continue to work with the Russians to help
them meet the financial costs of compliance with international
arms-control and non-proliferation agreements.
By remaining engaged with Russia on all of these critical fronts in
the months ahead, we will be demonstrating to the Russian government
and the Russian people our determination not to give up on them, even
-- perhaps even especially in a time of troubles; we will keep
plugging away at the task of supporting the many passengers in Gogol's
troika who long to live in what they call "a civilized country." Their
aspirations and their eventual answer to the question of questions may
yet coincide with our own longterm interests.
That outcome is far from a certainty, but it is not an impossible
dream either. Rather it is a possibility that we must, for our sake as
well as theirs, do everything we can to keep alive.
One Russian Truth left as newspaper changes name
MOSCOW, Nov 6 (Reuters) - Once again there is only one Truth in Russia.
One of two rival newspapers calling themselves ``Pravda,'' or ``Truth,''
changed its name on Friday to ``Slovo,'' or ``The Word,'' leaving one Pravda
victorious in a bitter quarrel over the right to use the name of the former
Soviet Communist organ.
A third Pravda had stopped publishing earlier this year.
Founded by Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin in 1912, Pravda was Russia's
flagship newspaper of the Soviet period, claiming more than a million readers.
As the ruling Communist Party's official organ, it played a vital role in
setting the Soviet propaganda agenda.
Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov belonged to the elite corps of its foreign
correspondents in the 1960s.
But the fall of communism brought bitter quarrels over the use of the title,
and three separate newspapers printing under Pravda's hoary logo each found
Greek investors at one point said they held exclusive rights to the name.
Their newspaper, called Pravda Five in its final incarnation, folded earlier
That left two Pravdas, one edited by Viktor Linnik, the other by Alexander
Ilyin, former luminaries at the original newspaper. Both maintained a leftist,
nationalist political stance and appeared in circulations numbering in the
tens of thousands.
Linnik's version was forced to close last month after its publishers lost a
case in court, Linnik told Itar-Tass news agency on Friday.
The newspaper reappeared on Friday as Slovo, but to remind readers of its
heritage, it will print the slogan ``In Every Word, the Truth,'' Linnik said.