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Johnson's Russia List
14 November 1998
[Note from David Johnson:
1. AP: Russia: Economy May Shrink 9 Percent.
2. AFP: Russian Death Rate Almost Twice As High As in West.
3. AFP: Foreign Investment in Russia Collapses 50%.
4. The Independent: Phil Reeves, Let them eat caviare. (Re "Russia's
forgotten far east.")
5. Fred Weir on anti-semitism debate.
6. The Guardian: James Meek, Forget hunger strikes, hire spin doctors.
7. Moscow Tribune: John Helmer, RUSSIA GETS THE SHORT END.
8. Moscow Times: Chloe Arnold, Parliament Decries Racism, Not Deputy.
9. Nicolai Petro: Impressions of Novgorod-the-Great.
10. KENNAN INSTITUTE SHORT-TERM GRANTS.
11. Moscow Times: Igor Zakharov, BOOKWORM: Fictional, Factual Look at
Russia: Economy May Shrink 9 Pct.
November 13, 1998
By ANNA DOLGOV
MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia's economy could shrink by as much as 9 percent next
year, the government said Friday, extending one of the most painful and
prolonged recessions ever suffered by an industrialized nation.
Even in the best of scenarios, the Finance Ministry predicted a 3 percent drop
in the gross domestic product.
The economy showed signs of stabilizing late last year, but took another
devastating plunge after Russia devalued the ruble and defaulted on domestic
debts in August. It is expected to contract by 5 percent this year.
Analysts with the Finance Ministry said they expect the crisis that has
plagued Russia throughout the 1990s to last through most or all of next year,
the Interfax news agency reported.
The optimistic forecast of a 3 percent drop assumes the government will meet
its revenue targets, the country will receive foreign loans that have been
promised, and inflation will stay relatively tame at 30 percent.
But the Finance Ministry acknowledged that events were unlikely to be so rosy.
Under the gloomier scenario, the gross domestic product would shrink 9 percent
and the cash-strapped government would have to print $19.3 billion in rubles
to pay off back wages and other debts, pushing inflation up to around 130
Gross domestic product is the total value of all goods and services produced
inside a country. Russia usually uses that figure as a measure of its economy,
instead of the gross national product, the measure in the United States. The
latter would include the value of goods produced outside Russia by Russian
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund put together a $22.6
billion loan for Russia in July, but the installments have been put on hold
because of the turmoil in August.
World Bank President James Wolfensohn, who was meeting with officials in
Moscow on Friday, said that before the government gets any more foreign loans
it would have to come up with a good plan for rescuing the economy -- and
start acting on it. His comments were reported by the Interfax news agency,
which cited unidentified participants in the talks.
Meanwhile, Russia's Central Bank said it plans to give the country's failing
banks $1.1 billion in credits for the rest of this year, and another $1.5
billion next year, according to a letter from Central Bank Deputy Chairman
Andrei Kozlov to the head of parliament's budget committee.
To receive the money, banks must meet minimal requirements for hard currency
reserves, have no arrears to the Central Bank, and agree on a jointly drafted
restructuring program, Kozlov said.
The Central Bank has said it would need $8.5 billion to completely bail out
the banking sector, money it admits it doesn't have.
Russian Death Rate Almost Twice As High As in West
MOSCOW, Nov. 13, 1998 -- (Agence France Presse) Russia's mortality rate is
almost twice as high as that of Western industrialized countries, Interfax
news agency reported Thursday, citing the nation's health minister.
Russians were anywhere from 50 percent to 100 percent more likely to die
prematurely than inhabitants of Western countries, he said.
The escalating death rate, combined with a reverse trend in births, have
together compounded Russia's chronic population slump in recent years,
Vladimir Starodubov told parliament.
He cited an annual "natural decrease" in the population of about 5.2 per
The current negative population trends in Russia began around the time of the
collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, since which time most Russians have
experienced a catastrophic drop in living standards and the near total
disappearance of social welfare.
As the health care system collapsed and access to medicines declined, the
number of infectious diseases, notably tuberculosis, rose sharply. Russia
witnessed a 9 percent rise in registered tuberculosis cases between 1996 and
1997, Starodubov said.
Foreign Investment in Russia Collapses 50%
MOSCOW, Nov. 13, 1998 -- (Agence France Presse) Foreign investment in Russia
collapsed by half to just $3 billion in 1998, Deputy Economics Minister
Vladimir Kossov told Interfax news agency Thursday.
Inward investment in Russia totaled some $6.1 billion in 1997, Kossov said,
including some $4 billion in the productive sector, the rest coming in
Kossov blamed the collapse on the acute economic and financial storms which
have bludgeoned Russia's economy all year and which reached a terrifying
climax in mid-August.
Russia was currently seeking to improve the woeful investment climate in the
country by signing special investment protection agreements with its trading
partners, Interfax cited Kossov as saying.
He pledged investors would be able to defend their investments in court,
including international courts if necessary, the agency added.
The crisis was triggered when Russia's broke government allowed a de facto
ruble devaluation and defaulted on billions of dollars of internal debt,
pushing the banking sector to the brink, while the plunging ruble saw
14 November 1998
[for personal use only]
Let them eat caviare
Abandoned by Moscow, Oktyabrski is starved of everything except the local
caviare. The nuclear missiles have gone, taking most of the people and nearly
all of the jobs. Welcome to Russia's forgotten far east, where only vodka can
obliterate the cold and despair. By Phil Reeves
Mid-afternoon yesterday, with a fresh squall whistling in from the sea, five
dozen people filed in to the broken-down hut that passes for Oktyabrski's
village theatre, dusted the snow off their boots, and settled down for the big
- and the only - event of the day.
They had nothing else to do. The power was off, as usual. The heating at home
was minimal, even though the temperature was well below zero outside. The
cinema and restaurant shut down long ago. Almost no one has a job. Why not
while away an hour or two with the neighbours, even if it means the less than
glamorous prospect of watching a children's potato-peeling race?
Times are hard in much of Russia, but few places are as forlorn and abandoned
as this community, a village on the western edge of the Kamchatka peninsula.
It is, as it is beginning to discover to its cost, on the very rim of the vast
Russian Federation, on a giant finger of land that points southward into the
Pacific and towards Japan.
Eight years ago the entire region, the front line of the Soviet Union's
eastern nuclear defences and a missile test-bed, was closed to foreigners, and
even Soviet citizens had to have special permission to visit. But Moscow's
grip has grown feeble, and it is now barely felt here, at the far end of a
largely defunct supply line. Even the regional capital, Petropavlovsk, is a
distant entity, separated by a four-hour car journey along what, in winter, is
not a road but a band of ice running across a wild, refrigerated landscape of
birch forests and snow-covered volcanoes.
"No one cares about us any more," said Sergei Kazanov, 45, a former fisherman.
There is nothing left to do. We used to call the winter the drinking season.
But now it never ends."
He is not kidding. Local doctors say that in the last fortnight alone, five
people - including two women - have drunk themselves to death. Their village,
once a thriving Soviet fishing community and a source of Moscow's red caviare
supply, is fading away. Seven years ago, there were 7,000 inhabitants. Two-
thirds have since left, migrating either elsewhere on the peninsula or to what
they call Russia's "mainland" in search of work and better conditions.
The canning factory, which once employed 1,000 people and rattled away round
the clock, has shut. The October Revolution fishing collective, which used to
run 30 boats, has also closed after a failed attempt at privatisation. There
is no bank, no launderette, no sports complex, no church, no pool and no steam
baths. Half the village school's pupils have left. The mud streets, choked
with snow and rubbish, have not been cleared for a month, because the local
authority cannot afford the petrol for its refuse vehicle.
Electricity is switched off for 21 hours a day because no one has paid the
power stations. The heating system is on low power, despite the swirling snow,
knee-high drifts and cutting sea winds. The few peeling, putrid, five-storey
apartment buildings are covered with blisters of damp and rust. The rest - a
botcher's paradise of wooden barracks, builders' lots, rusting storage depots,
iron garages and twisted metal junk - is gently falling apart.
The place is turning into driftwood and flotsam, the wreckage of a community
that is already totally washed up, and will eventually be swallowed up
altogether by the sea which laps at its edge.
As this vast country lumbers painfully towards winter, anxiety has set in
within the international community about the capacity of places such as
Oktyabrski - and thousands of others scattered across Russia's 11 time zones -
to survive the next few months. No one seems certain that they will battle
through, just as they have so often over past decades, weathering terror, war
and the destruction of the entire social system. Opinions differ. The UN's
food and agriculture organisation has predicted "spot food shortages" but not
widespread ones. The international federations of the Red Cross and Red
Crescent societies have launched an appeal of $15m, saying that "a silent
disaster" is afoot. The US has extended a $600m loan to Russia to buy American
food, and has promised to send humanitarian aid, including 1.5 million tons of
wheat. There have been airy assurances from Moscow that there is no cause for
panic, despite a dismal grain and potato harvest this year.
Western security sources, cited by The Times this week, fear that Russia's
food supplies could run out within weeks, bringing the threat of unrest and
thousands of westbound refugees. The reality is likely to be less lurid. It
will not pay to be poor and weak, or elderly and ill, or very young, in Russia
in the next six months. But for the great majority of the 147-million-strong
population, the problem is less likely to be about famine and riots than
abject misery, chronic illness and the side-effects of an economic decline
worse than the American great depression, such as alcohol and suicide.
The dwindling few who have stayed behind in Oktyabrski are typical of many.
Their problem is not so much a lack of food as a gross imbalance in their
access to it. Dairy products, including milk, and fresh fruit are in short
supply. What little there is is too expensive for many to afford - especially
after price hikes following this year's rouble crash. In the tiny snowbound
outdoor market, apples cost 40 roubles - £1.60 - a kilo, the equivalent of a
day's pay for the handful of people who still have work. The able-bodied have
filled their garages and basements with home-grown summer produce from their
allotments, mostly potatoes, and pickled tomatoes and cucumbers. But there is
precious little fresh produce.
"We live on rice and soup," said Ludmilla Danyushkina, 35, as she stood
surrounded by a few meagre products in the elders' hut that passes for a shop.
She worries about the effect on her 12-year-old son, whom she is trying to
bring up single-handedly on a monthly wage of £44. "We have very few
vegetables. Every time I make soup there seems to be less to put in it."
There is, however, plenty of fish. In fact, in one of the more alarming
examples of the breakdown of supply lines, the abundance is such that there
are one-metre-high piles of rotting fish scattered around the village. Once
the caviare has been gouged out of the carcasses, no one bothers to preserve
the rest, leaving it to the scores of stray dogs, seagulls and the occasional
Caviare is plentiful. "We eat about a bucket a year," said Patyana
Gerasimenko, the head doctor in the local hospital. "In fact, we get
completely sick of it. There comes a time when you just can't eat it any
But you cannot live on caviare alone. The doctor says the effect of poor diet
and dismal conditions can be seen on children who are suffering an increase in
skin, stomach and respiratory conditions. The range of available medicines is
extremely narrow, and likely to get narrower as supplies of imported
pharmaceuticals dry up following this summer's collapse of the rouble and much
of the banking system.
It was not always thus. Under the Soviet Union, the Oktyabrski workforce was
well paid by national standards because they got higher, "northern" pay to
compensate for the tough conditions. Pyotr Bolichyov, 41, a local official,
can remember when each year he could afford to go on holiday to the Black Sea,
sometimes for several months at a time. Officially, he's the head of the
village's communal services department, in charge of heating and street
cleaning. But, as his wages are two years late, and have been corroded by
devaluation and inflation, he has turned to other work, providing another
example of the survival skills on which many Russians now rely. He has become
a poacher. This summer he made 43,000 roubles from red caviare sales. But even
that source of sustenance is uncertain. The salmon do not come every year.
When the winter is over he says he, too, will be moving out in search of work.
So what are the authorities doing about it all? Today a government commission
of 21 officials will meet in Kamchatka to discuss the problems of the
peninsula's remote communities. There are plans for several fishing villages
in the north to be evacuated altogether. But is hard to see any quick
solutions, given the economic crisis gripping Moscow and the Primakov
government's penchant for making plans but doing little.
Whether the international aid programmes find their targets is an open
question. Past efforts, notably a US humanitarian project in 1992, led to
widespread corruption in Russia. Having seen too many promises broken before,
none of those Russians in real need will be holding their breath.
Despite this there is a general consensus that the bulk of the Russian people
will, once again, accept their fate without resorting to violent protest.
"There won't be any revolutions," said Kamchatka's First Deputy Governor,
Boris Sinchenko. No matter that he openly concedes that, after striking a deal
which ended three weeks of electricity cuts in the regional capital, he can
give no guarantee there will be no more power problems. "There is already too
much blood in our history," he said wearily. He is probably right. The tragedy
is that, seven years after the end of Soviet communism, Russia should be
discussing the issue at all.
Date: Fri, 13 Nov 1998
From: "Fred Weir" <email@example.com>
For the Hindustan Times
MOSCOW (HT Nov 13) -- Russia's public prosecutor may lay
criminal charges against a Communist parliamentarian who called
for violent revolution and used anti-Semitic slurs in recent
speeches, the country's security chief said Friday.
Vladimir Putin, the head of the Federal Security Service --
the former KGB -- told journalists that recent public appeals for
the overthrow of the government made by General Albert Makashov,
a Communist Duma deputy, were illegal and subject to criminal
He added that Gen. Makashov's repeatedly expressed
anti-Semitic rhetoric violates Russian law and might also draw
criminal charges against him.
Gen. Makashov's open use of ethnic slurs against Jews and
other minority groups has provoked a national controversy in
recent days and led some public figures to demand the Communist
Party -- Russia's largest political formation -- be banned.
Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov rejected that idea, saying
"my attitude to banning the Communist Party is sharply negative."
But President Boris Yeltsin on Thursday criticized Mr.
Primakov for responding too slowly to the threat of resurgent
anti-Semitism and said the government must take immediate steps
to curb "ethnic and political extremism" in Russia.
"We can't allow extremists to throw the nation into
chaos and social upheavals," Mr. Yeltsin said.
Gen. Makashov, a radical nationalist, has put Communist
leader Gennady Zyuganov and his party on the spot. The Communist
Party's official ideology promotes "friendship among peoples" and
Ironically the law banning "incitement of ethnic tension",
under which Gen. Makashov may be charged, dates from Soviet
"Anti-Semitism was present in Russia for centuries, and it
was a concealed force in the Communist Party under Stalin and
Brezhnev," says Yury Levada, director of the Russian Centre for
Public Opinion Studies.
"The present political situation has brought it into the
open. Patriots need an enemy to focus on, and who better than
people of other nationalities living among us."
Mr. Levada says his research suggests only 15 per cent of
Russians hold trenchant anti-Semitic views. But a recent survey
by his centre found that 64 percent of 1,500 respondents across
Russia would not approve of a Jew as President.
Russia's post-Soviet Communist Party has increasingly
flirted with nationalist ideas in its seach for a new recipe to
win power, and hence attracted men like Gen. Makashov into its
Mr. Zyuganov has tried to straddle the breach between the
traditional internationalist wing of his party and the militant
nationalists, but has mostly succeeded in deepening the scandal.
"We consider Makashov's statements inappropriate,
unrestrained and incorrect," Mr. Zyuganov told parliament.
"The basis of our policy is friendship and respect for a
person of any nationality, and this policy will be pursued by the
party continuously and firmly. We won't allow anybody to push our
country to fratricidal war."
However, most Communist deputies refused to support a
parliamentary resolution condemning Gen. Makashov's anti-Semitic
outbursts. At a Moscow rally marking the 81st anniversary of the
Russian Revolution last week Gen. Makashov repeated his
statements in the presence of Mr. Zyuganov -- and was not
disciplined or contradicted.
On Friday the Duma was debating three different measures
condemning incitement of ethnic hatred, without naming Gen.
Makashov, one of which may eventually pass.
But Mr. Zyuganov's failure to take a strong stand on the
issue has dismayed many Communist supporters and may well
continue to haunt the party for some time.
"I find it very unpleasant to see nationalism and anti-
Semitism being expressed," says Nikolai Sapozhnikov, a Communist
Duma deputy from the ethnic republic of Udmurtia. "The Communist
Party's basic principles, as written down, stand for
"If Makashov says something else, that's his private
opinion. Perhaps it is a matter for the public prosecutor to
November 14, 1998
[for personal use only]
Forget hunger strikes, hire spin doctors
James Meek in Moscow on the increasingly sophisticated battle between post-
Soviet leaders for Western approval
When Akezhan Kazhegeldin, an opposition politician menaced by one of the
growing number of authoritarian regimes in the former Soviet Union, wanted to
draw attention to his role in the struggle for democracy in Kazakhstan, he
didn't go about it the old-fashioned way.
He didn't go on hunger strike. He didn't march on the presidential palace at
the head of thousands of angry students. He didn't wait for Amnesty
International to take up his case. He hired Hill & Knowlton, the United States
firm that boasts it invented public relations.
Mr Kazhegeldin, the economically liberal former prime minister of the vast,
oil-rich Central Asian state, has certainly fallen foul of Kazakhstan's
increasingly dictatorial ruler Nursultan Nazarbayev, who is bending the law to
ensure he stays in power until at least 2006.
But Mr Kazhegeldin's decision to hire expensive Western PR skills shows the
degree to which the West's view of the coming generation of post-Soviet
leaders is being shaped by its own sultans of spin.
"The global village stuff is coming true," said Charles McLean, a former NBC
correspondent now handling Mr Kazhegeldin's account at Hill & Knowlton's
"I think, increasingly, political figures around the world realise that it
does matter how they're perceived in foreign capitals. So they come to people
like us and say: 'Look, nobody in Washington knows who I am or what I stand
for - what do you think?' "
Hill & Knowlton, which says it represents one other client like Mr Kazhegeldin
and a number of foreign governments, has delivered the goods for the wealthy
Kazakh dissident: editorials in the New York Times and the Washington Post
denouncing Mr Nazarbayev.
They may not be enough. Mr Nazarbayev is not only friendly to the US and
overwhelmingly in control of the media in Kazakhstan; he, too, has hired a
Washington PR company to lobby his case.
Other post-Soviet players who have employed Western PR agencies to promote
their stance abroad include the Moscow mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, a favourite to
succeed Boris Yeltsin as Russian president; the controversial Russian tycoon
Boris Berezovsky; and the former Ukraine prime minister Pavel Lazarenko.
It often seems that the struggle between the two main Russian presidential
favourites, Mr Luzhkov and the retired general Alexander Lebed, is being waged
abroad as the two men strive to convince the West that they are the runners to
back in 2000.
It is not known whether Gen Lebed employs Western PR firms - he could not
afford to on his salary as governor of Krasnoyarsk region. But he has rich and
powerful backers, including Mr Berezovsky.
Washington insiders believe that his trips to the US this year and in 1996,
when he chatted with the George Bushes senior and junior, Henry Kissinger,
Colin Powell and a host of other movers and shakers, could not have been
handled without the involvement of American PR professionals.
Date: Fri, 13 Nov 1998
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (John Helmer)
>From The Moscow Tribune, November 13, 1998
RUSSIA GETS THE SHORT END
It is one of the little-known rules of politics, and not just in Russia,
that tall politicians surround themselves with small ones, and
that small ones can't abide men who look down on them.
Charles de Gaulle of France, John Kennedy of the United States, and
Andreas Papandreou of Greece followed the tall rule. Adolph Hitler
followed the short one. He thought a uniform would compensate. It often does.
In Russia, there has been one of the world's longest stretches of rule
by short men. When Peter the Great died in 1725, Russia didn't have another
tall ruler until Boris Yeltsin in 1991. For all of this century, Russian
politics have been driven by men with all the well-known vanities, hysterics
and obsessions of short fellas -- Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, Gorbachev.
Yeltsin's choice of prime ministers and chiefs of staff follows the tall-man
rule with a vengeance. Gaidar, Chernomyrdin, Kirienko, and Primakov --
the consistency is stunting. With just two exceptions (Chubais and Korzhakov)
Yeltsin's picks have been getting smaller and smaller, from Filatov to
Ilyushin, and to Yumashev today.
At the same time, Yeltsin and his homunculi have been achieving something
never attempted outside the world of fantasy. They have been dwarfing
the entire Russian people.
This is the real conspiracy of recent Russian history. It isn't a Jewish one
-- Albert Makashov is short, and his tirade is typical. It isn't the
conspiracy of the Russian people against themselves -- Alfred Kokh is
short, and his tirade also typical. It isn't the conspiracy of Marxians and
Keynesians against monetarism -- Michel Camdessus and Martin Gilman of the
International Monetary Fund are midgets, and their ideas are cut to size.
No, the real conspiracy here is the one to shorten Russians below the
average height of their rulers. Monetary policy, tax policy,
privatization, farm policy, import tariffs -- every economic weapon
in the arsenal of government has been wielded in Russia to achieve the
greatest short cut in history.
Now shortening the lifespan is an obvious way of reducing a person's
height. So, the rise in mortality for Russian males of working age since
Yeltsin came to power has not only cut life expectancy from 65
years (1986) to 57.5 (1994). It has also buried more than two million
people, who would still be standing tall if the death rates of 1990 had
continued. Makashov, Kokh, Camdessus and Gilman are at least right to
believe that someone or something is to blame for that. Being short
fellas, though, they can't escape the bad-tempered fantasies
that lack of stature often causes.
Literary exegesis doesn't usually go into the kitchen to analyze
what Rumpelstiltskin, David (v. Goliath), Tom Thumb or Tiny Tim ate
for their supper. Makashov hasn't said if he ate gefilte fish as a child,
or Kokh schweinshaxe, or Gilman weenies.
But everyone knows that if children don't eat what's on their plate, and if
what's on their plate isn't nourishing, they don't build body tissue, and
they don't grow as tall as they should. This is why we also know that,
even if today's Russian infants are surviving the traumas and infections of
inadequate pre and post-natal care, their nutritional level has been
The decimation of Russia's livestock herds since 1991 -- more animals have
been killed than during Stalin's collectivization campaign or Hitler's
invasion -- and the replacement of domestic protein by high-priced imports are
the results of government policy. Tax the family by withholding its wage
packet, and you're bound to put more macaroni on the table.
This is the way the government has conspired to arrange the fall in protein
consumed by most Russians. The shift to carbohydrates has also been recorded
by state statisticians.
The outcome is less frequently noticed or debated in public. The new
generation of Russians will be shorter than the ones that preceded Yeltsin's
rule. These boys may fit better into foxholes in the Caucasus, or into the
cockpits of tanks, fighter-planes, and orbiting space vehicles. But if there
are even fewer of those in operation, then there is no national security
purpose to be served by topping more soldiers and airmen. Limiting
teenage conscripts on Russia's border with China to starvation rations might
shorten their height, but there appears to be no strategic purpose for that
Turning Russia into Lilliput is not a mistake. It's a conspiracy -- and only a
constitutional limit on the height of Russia's rulers can put a stop
to it. From next year's parliamentary elections on, noone shorter than
Peter the Great should be allowed to run for public office, be appointed
to manage a Russian bank, or conduct negotiations with foreigners.
At the same time, Russia's criminal code and welfare policies should be
amended, so that shortness would be treated as a form of psychological
disability, requiring counselling and treatment. Once national high-protein
feeding programs are in place, to enable a new generation of Russians to
qualify to rule themselves, it should also be a crime to incite hatred for
people as short as the IMF representatives.
November 14, 1998
Parliament Decries Racism, Not Deputy
By Chloe Arnold
The State Duma passed a vague resolution Friday that condemns ethnic hatred,
but balked at adopting a more explicit document denouncing Communist Deputy
Albert Makashov for anti-Semitic remarks he made at a rally last month.
The Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament, voted overwhelmingly for a
resolution on "the inadmissibility of actions and opinions that complicate
interracial relations in the Russian Federation."
Three hundred and two deputies voted for the resolution, which needed at least
226 votes to be passed. Just 34 voted against, and there were no abstentions.
The resolution criticizes all those who incite ethnic hatred, observing that
"the State Duma firmly upholds civilized, harmonious and interracial
But while the rambling text calls on "Russian citizens, and particularly
politicians, deputies, officials and journalists, to recognize their
responsibility to future generations in preserving the trust and friendship
that exists between different races within the Russian Federation," it makes
no mention of Makashov.
The equivocal tone of the resolution, drafted by Our Home Is Russia Deputy
Vladimir Zorin, left some deputies disappointed. Popular crooner turned Duma
Deputy Iosef Kobzon said he was saddened by parliament's weak response.
"The Duma is supposed to represent the nation," he said Friday. "Instead it
seems to be condoning Makashov and his open anti-Semitism."
An eleventh-hour alternative resolution, submitted by the liberal Yabloko
faction, slammed Makashov in person for insulting Jews. But although Yabloko
Deputy Yelena Mizulina made an impassioned speech that roused some deputies to
applause, the resolution was rejected in a 132-148 vote, with four
"Makashov's comments constitute a threat to the nation," Mizulina told
deputies before the vote. "It is now clear that these were not the opinions of
one man, but the opinions of the Communist Party. We must not allow such
racism to flood the country."
Makashov sparked public outrage at a rally in Moscow marking five years since
a bloody uprising against the government, when he told demonstrators that
zhidy, a derogatory term for Jews, were responsible for the country's economic
Criminal charges were brought against Makashov in October, but the Prosecutor
General's Office has made no progress on the case to date.
Last week the incident was brought into the media spotlight once again, after
the Communist-dominated Duma voted not to censure Makashov for his insulting
remarks against Jews.
Politicians and sections of the media have publicly condemned the Duma's
action, some calling for the Communist Party to be banned.
Since then, the Israeli ambassador to Moscow has added his voice to the furor,
saying Thursday that Makashov's comments were an insult to the entire Israeli
nation. Nationalities Minister Ramazan Abdulatipov said in the Duma on Friday
he was sickened by the remarks.
Justifying the failure to issue Makashov with a personal rebuke, Nikolai
Ryzhkov, a leader of the Communist-allied Popular Rule faction, said the
Yabloko resolution was too divisive.
"I cannot agree with Makashov's comments, but we will be voting for Zorin's
resolution," Ryzhkov said. "This is a more serious document, which touches on
all the nations of Russia."
On Friday, Federal Security Service chief Vladimir Putin said the charges
brought against Makashov were not severe enough, Itar-Tass reported. Makashov
faces charges of violating article 280 of the criminal code, because of his
calls for the use of force to overthrow the government.
Putin recommended that he also be charged under article 282 of the code, which
covers fomenting ethnic hatred. But as a parliamentary deputy, Makashov is
immune from prosecution.
"We are handing the relative material to the Prosecutor General, who has the
right to approach the Duma about retracting Makashov's parliamentary
immunity," Putin was quoted as saying.
Date: Fri, 13 Nov 1998
From: "Nicolai N. Petro" <email@example.com>
Subject: Impressions of Novgorod-the-Great
My family and I lived in Novgorod August 1996-May 1997. I have just
returned from two weeks spent in the city. While the city has not changed
dramatically during the past year-and-a-half, here are some of the things
that I did notice:
--There are now several new, orange painted swivel trash cans with plastic
--The number of farmacies has tripled and are now well distributed
throughout the city. Specific pharmacies now specialize in children's
medicines, or have an especially large assortment of herbs and vitamins. A
random sampling, however, shows them all to be well stocked.
--About half-a-dozen new "minisupermarket" type stores have appeared, again
dispersed throughout the city. In addition, several new automobile repair
shops have opened and offer comprehensive services.
--Ten new ATM machines have been installed at major department stores and
hotels throughout the city. Until August one could obtain cash advances on
all major credit cards. Since August, however, they have been temporarily
suspended. Before we left, there had been talk of having paychecks
automatically transferred to local accounts that would then issue a local
debit card to clients. A very few stores carried signs indicating that
clients could pay using their local debit card.
--A greater variety of meats and dairy products are available now than in
1997. Up to six different types of milk, more than a dozen different
sorts of cheeses, included imported Edam, Tilsit, Swiss. cheddar
--Some prices: Food processor in Rus 600-1000R
Assorted fresh fruit 2-6R/kilo
Dried prunes 15R/kilo
Margarine imported 400grams 12.80R
Margarine domestic 250 grams 3.80R
Ground beef 28R/kilo
1 can of kernel corn 8R
Eggs (ten) 8.60R
Cereals in boxes 8-12R
Fresh meats 20-30R/kilo
Fresh fish 15-18R/kilo
Prices for imported goods (including fruit) has tripled, while prices for
domestic products in some cases has doubled (ground beef, eggs, corn), and
in other cases remained about the same (cereals, some meats). The average
monthly wage is 870R. Rental and utility costs have risen so that now on a
30 sq. mt. apartment they amount to 180R/month.
--Men's three piece suits from Pskov and St. Petersburg now cost 680-750R
Two years ago there was almost nothing available in this department that
was "made in Russia." Today these items predominate and are of very good
--Several new private housing construction projects have been completed
throughout the city. Work on a new row of shops is being completed
downtown. Between January and June 1998, new housing construction
increased by 42.6% compared to Jan-June 1997.
--The only political posters I observed were these: three small posters
for the Russian National Unity Party; one handwritten invitation to join
the public rally on November 7, and five large posters inviting public
participation in the commemoration of the memory of victims of political
repression. The latter event gathered some 150-200 participants.
--In addition to two large internet labs available at the university, there
are now five public access sites available at public libraries throughout
the city. Each one has 5 computers and they tend to be heavily used, so
that someone wishing to sign up usually has a one week wait. In addition,
there has been an explosion of local private secondary schools, many of
which offer some internet classes to their students.
--Post office personnel all have computer terminals at their counters and
wear name tags indicating their name and title. I have found this latter
has made them less surly in dealing with customers. In addition to express
mail services offered by Swedish and Danish companies, one can also send
e-mail messages from post offices throughout the city to any other in the CIS.
Having attended the November 7 celebrations in 1996, I was curious to see
it in 1998. Just as in 1996, people began to gather at the corner of Gazon
and B. St. Peterburgskaya around 10:30. Traffic continued around this busy
intersection until 10 minutes before their march, which began promptly at
11:00 A.M. and disbursed at 12:15. The group of approximately 500
pensioners carrying banners, and led by a hired marching band then
proceeded to walk the 400 meters from where they were to the statue of
Lenin in St. Sophia's square, across from the regional administration
building. Another 150-200 people who had been milling around, then also
proceeded to the square to hear the orators.
I would estimate that the crown was only two-thirds as large this year as
in 1996. I base this on the length of the procession, which I was able to
photograph on both occasions, and on the fact that I could get quite close
to the podium this year and had plenty of room around me. In 1996 I had to
stand about 100 meters from the speaker and listen through the loudspeaker.
As on the previous occasion, no one from the city or regional
administration was present or sent their greetings.
The head of the oblast CPRF organization was the first to speak. He made a
point of defending Makashov against charges of antisemitism, and
simultaneously attacked Zhirinovsky for stating in a recent interview that
the October Revolution had been a mistake and that Lenin should be taken
out of his mausoleum and buried. Of course the communists want to live
together with all nationalities, but what about the Russophobic utterance
of Alfred Kokh, he asked? Are they not more egregious to the majority of
the population? And what about Berezovsky, who was publicly asked by
prominent "democrats" to spend his money to save "his people?" No, the
communists are not against Jews, only against those Jews who are against
Russia, people like Kobzon, Berezovsky, Kiselev, Svanidze and Gaidar. This
tirade was met with confused and sporadic applause.
The second speaker was Duma Deputy Bindyukov, who told the crowd that the
country needed a Soviet regime. The dissolution of the USSR was a criminal
act and the Duma still has no law to assist Russians living abroad, where
"veterans are beaten and SS sympathizers honored." Today, the communists
are trying to shore up the new government. Eleven out of seventeen points
in the new government's program were suggested by the CPRF, but there was
still too much attention paid to the West by the government. Despite the
massive, orchestrated attack on the government launched by the mass media,
the communists would do their best to defend it.
The third orator was the somewhat younger head of the Novgorod City party
organization. He reiterated some of the main themes of the first speaker,
but added the name of George Soros to the list of villains. His main
focus, however, was on the manipulation of history by the mass media.
According to this speaker no more than four million people were arrested
under Stalin and of those only 300,000 sentenced to death. Included in
this figure are "criminals, banderovtsy, belogvardeitsy, burzhui and not
even all of these were executed." In addition, this year the mass media
had subjected people to an appalling distortion of history during the
burial of Tsar Nicholas II and his family.
All three speakers directly attacked Governor Prusak and the Speaker of the
oblast Duma, Boitsev. Two years ago they had not even been mentioned.
Nationalism, previously an undercurrent in the rhetoric, has now emerged as
the communist's dominant theme, probably because it is the most easily
understandable element of their program. Complex economic issues become
matters of simple protectionism; defense of the motherland feeds into the
desires of the military-industrial lobby; antisemitism appeals to the
uneducated and brings a few votes that would otherwise go to fringe groups.
But while these issues fit together rather well, outright antisemitism
still tends to confuse older party stalwarts who are used to hearing
professions of internationalism. The party leadership probably believes
it can control this element within its ranks, and seems to have concluded
that it can ill afford to condemn antisemitism since their aging electoral
base is dying out, and since politically active young people sympathetic to
nationalism often wind up joining fringe groups like the RNE rather than
With best wishes,
Nicolai N. Petro
Associate Professor of Political Science
The University of Rhode Island (USA)
Office: 401-874-2290 Fax: 401-874-4072
Date: Fri, 13 Nov 1998
From: "Jennifer Giglio" <GIGLIOJE@WWIC.SI.EDU>
Subject: Kennan Institute Grant Opportunity
KENNAN INSTITUTE SHORT-TERM GRANTS (up to one months' duration)
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degree of professional achievement is expected.
Short-term Grants provide a stipend of $100 per day. There is no official
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November 14, 1998
BOOKWORM: Fictional, Factual Look at Soviet Era
By Igor Zakharov
For an unsurpassed look at the inner workings of the Soviet Union's ruling
body, pick up a copy of Tridtsat Let Na Staroi Ploshchadi ("Thirty Years on
Staraya Ploshchad") by Karen Brutents.
The author worked on Staraya Ploshchad, the seat of the Central Committee of
the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from the 1960s to the 1980s as a
senior official in the international department.
His 568-page memoirs, released by Mezhdunarodniye Otnosheniya publishers a few
weeks ago, provide a rare glimpse into the psychology of the men who made
Born in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, Brutents had an astonishingly
successful academic and party career in Moscow. By the 1980s he held the
position of assistant director of the CPSU International Department and served
as a consultant to General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev.
It is an honest confession; the author does not hide his bitterness that he
and the other party "dissidents" around Gorbachev, who dreamed of humanizing
and revitalizing socialism, instead brought about its demise.
There are no sensational revelations here, but there are a lot of interesting
facts and details about daily life inside the Central Committee.
The book should be read as a textbook on high-level party bureaucracy,
alongside the famous "Nomenklatura" by Michael Voslensky, published some 20
years ago in emigration.
Just down the road from Staraya Ploshchad is Lubyanka, the home of the KGB and
the former workplace of Mikhail Lyubimov. After a successful career as a spy
(he was KGB resident in Copenhagen), Lyubimov turned to fiction, and in the
past few years he has produced several humorous and satirical spy novels. He
was also an editor and co-author of two bestselling "KGB Guidebooks to the
This fall Tsentrpoligraf publishers in Moscow presented Lyubimov's newest
offering, Dekameron Shpionov (The Spy's Decameron).
In the introduction the narrator reveals the "secret mission" entrusted to him
15 years ago by his KGB boss and later head of state, Yury Andropov: to
introduce perestroika and the reforms of wild capitalism to Russia, so that
the nation would eventually turn from its horrors back to normal, healthy
In the course of fulfilling the task the narrator becomes a sexual maniac, and
spends 10 days on a boat going down the Volga, where his former KGB colleagues
recall fantastic episodes about the importance of sex in modern international
espionage. A bit less lofty than Brutents' book, but a lot more fun.