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Johnson's Russia List
16 November 1998
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Itar-Tass: Seleznev Sees Many Ill-Wishers For Primakov Cabinet.
2. Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Irina Krasnopolskaya, "We Cannot Get Sick: There Is
3. Jamestown Foundation Prism: Andrei Piontkovsky, WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY:
HOW RUSSIA MIGHT FIT INTO THE INTERNATIONAL SCHEME.
4. Peter Mahoney: Re eXile/Russia Must Become Evil.
5. Komsomolskaya Pravda: Makashov Anti-Semitic Comments Viewed.
6. Reuters: Russia adjusting to space cooperation.
7. AP: Russian Farms Struggle To Keep Up.
8. Mark Ames: Barnabas The Middlebrow.]
Seleznev Sees Many Ill-Wishers For Primakov Cabinet
Moscow, November 10 (ITAR-TASS)--The government of Yevgeniy Primakov
has many ill-wishers, waiting for a moment to depose it, Duma Speaker
Gennadiy Seleznev said at a news conference on Tuesday.
Most of the dismissed are looking for every unsuccessful move of the
government to start criticizing, he noted. "The oligarchy retired into
themselves. Although they publicly take obligations to support the
government, they are evidently waiting for a chance to bring someone of
more rightist views into office," Seleznev said.
Many pronouncements of former government members have appeared in the
foreign press, and the interview of ex-vice-premier Alfred Kokh is
"absolutely boorish," the speaker noted. "Kokh should have stayed in Russia
because he is under investigation, instead of making pronouncements
Numerous ill-wishers from amongst the former cabinet members are
working with international currency organizations so that they do not give
credits to the government of Primakov, the Duma speaker noted.
Government To Discuss Medicine Shortages
6 November 1998
[for personal use only]
Article by Irina Krasnopolskaya: "We Cannot Get Sick: There Is No
Next week, the Government is planning to review the system of prepared
measures for providing the population with vitally necessary medicines in
adequate volume.This was announced by Vice Premier of the Government of the RF
[Russian Federation] Valentina Matviyenko. According to her, the program
which has been prepared is a "flexible system of measures, which will make
it possible not to reduce the influx of medicines coming to the domestic
market, but to step up the work of foreign producer companies on the
market, and also to stimulate domestic medicine producers."
According to the vice-premier"s data, in the 3 weeks since the
start of the fiscal crisis in Russia, the volume of medicine deliveries to
Russia has declined by 3-5 times. Prices on imported medicines have
increased by 110 percent.
Valentina Matviyenko admitted that the measures proposed by the
Government "will affect a group of people who receive super-profits from
the trade in pharmaceutical products and will reduce the level of their
income, which will undoubtedly evoke much dissatisfaction and criticism
from them, addressed to the Government." However, in her words, these
measures will be implemented primarily in the interests of the population.
In connection with this, the Government, specifically, is planning to
assign the Ministry of Health and the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences
the task of compiling a list of vitally necessary medicines on which prices
will be established, above which these medicines cannot be sold.(ITAR-TASS).
The Road to "Chronic Illness"
We have repeatedly written
about the catastrophic situation with provision of medicines. Today, the
situation is worse than ever. In Minzdrav RF [Ministry of Health of the
Russian Federation], a staff for control of the pharmaceutical market has
been created. We have only to wait for changes... To wait. That is not
the best recommendation, when the matter concerns our health. Medicines
are needed not in the promised future, but immediately--because in
medicine, delay is sometimes akin to death.
Even in the summer, the hospitals of Novosibirsk owed pharmaceutical
companies 80 percent of the sum for which they had purchased medicines.
With the relative stability of the ruble which was in effect during those
months, the companies tolerated the debtors and continued to supply
medicines to them. Then the ruble collapsed, and prices on medicines
increased by three to five times. Companies stopped shipping on credit.
Hospitals managed to hold out by using old reserves of vitally necessary
medications and those which the patients brought with them. In this
situation, it is impossible to undertake planned treatment. Treatment of
illnesses, including those which require surgical intervention, is being
put off for later, when the illness becomes more acute and when emergency
aid is needed, when the ambulance must urgently be called out, and when the
question of the life or death of the patient already arises.
Novosibirsk is certainly not the extreme in terms of provision of
medicines. There are regions in which the situation is much worse. Even in
Moscow, which did not suffer from a shortage of preparations, the quality
of treatment is declining because current medications are in ever shorter
supply. Financing in the third quarter has declined by 20 percent of the
planned amount. The same level is being predicted for next year, and this
means that we cannot make any predictions about what the situation with
medicines will be, or whether hospitals will be able to continue to provide
the necessary level of assistance.
I was recently witness to a bitter dialogue in a Moscow pharmacy. A
young woman came up to the pharmacist"s window, handed him a
prescription, and when she heard the price of the medicine, she askedtimidly:
"Don"t you have anything cheaper?""Nothing."
The woman left without her medicine. And if this woman were the only
one! According to estimates of experts at Minzdrav of Russia, in families
where the per capita monthly income is less than 400 rubles (R), over half
of the prescriptions written by doctors were not filled in the pharmacies.
In families where the per capita income is R800, the relative share of
unfilled prescriptions was 35 percent. Behind these figures, there are
tragedies. Patients who could be helped at the outset of their illness
become chronically ill. They require hospitalization more often, and this
requires even larger budget allocations. This is the chain of events which
is built, whose links are difficult to break.
The situation is no better for those who are entitled to subsidies for
medication. Quite often, doctors refuse to prescribe a medication for
them, or if they do prescribe it, the patients are certainly not always
able to get it. For money--there you are, but at half price or free of
charge--no. In some regions there are funds for providing benefit
recipients. Yet there are many more in which such funds are absent. The
system of subsidies is in need of review. It must be targeted, and should
not equate in rights for a free prescription the millionaire and the person
with moderate or low income--this is done in many countries.
It only seems that the medicine misfortune has
crashed down upon us now. Yet interruptions in supply of even those
preparations without which life would be impossible for the sick began long
ago. We may recall about 5 years ago, we published a reader"s letter,
sent to our editorial office by the grandfather of a boy suffering from
sugar diabetes. Having made the rounds of several pharmacies in Moscow,
the grandfather was unable to obtain insulin for his grandson. The absence
of this preparation for an insulin-dependent patient is like death. Today
it seems to be available, since it has been included in the list of vitally
necessary substances, for which Minzdrav creates an emergency reserve.
Previously, this list included approximately 250 preparations. Today
it is being reduced. Preparations which are really vitally necessary,
whose absence poses a direct threat to the life of the patient, will
remain. If a person suffering from sugar diabetes does not get insulin, he
will die. If prednisone is not given in cases of lupus, the patient will
die. The authorities must assume the responsibility of providing
preventative-treatment institutions with medicines on this list. They must
be purchased (it does not matter by whom) by the federal or regional
agencies. There is no need to send them to all treatment institutions
indiscriminately--only to those where patients of the given description are
Domestic Suppliers Take a Back Seat
Prior to perestroyka, there had
always been difficulties with medicines--they were always supplied, but not
purchased. Then there was an abundance of medicines, but at such prices
that their affordability was dubious. The surplus arose thanks to
deliveries from abroad. Domestic producers had to take a back seat, because
they were unable to compete. Last year, $2 billion worth of pharmaceutical
products were imported into Russia. This is two times more than in 1996.
We have become dependent on foreign medicines--two-thirds of the medicines
on our market are imported. At the same time, many domestic preparations
fully correspond to world standards, but their producers were placed in
such conditions that they were unable to withstand the onslaught from
import. And so the flow lines and entire enterprises came to a standstill.
Russian producers who had proven themselves were not receiving
support. As a result, domestic production today is operating at only 50
percent. At the same time, our preparations have recently gone up in price
by 30-45 percent, while imported ones have become 2-2.5 times more
expensive! This is something to think about...
THE JAMESTOWN FOUNDATION
A BI-WEEKLY ON THE POST-SOVIET STATES
11/13/98 No.22 Part 2
WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY: HOW RUSSIA MIGHT FIT INTO THE INTERNATIONAL SCHEME
By Andrei Piontkovsky
Andrei Piontkovsky heads the Center for Strategic Studies, a Moscow-based
More than a year has passed since the "Framework Act on relations between
NATO and Russia" was signed in Paris. The path to this agreement was not an
easy one. In the last few years, Russia's political class has undergone a
painful reassessment of its geopolitical frame of reference. Its growing
sense of isolation has been greatly intensified by NATO's expansion to the
East. The overemotional reaction of the Russian political class to the
prospect of the expansion of NATO and the resounding and unanimous "no" from
Moscow can be explained not by the degree of some or other threat to
Russia's security, real or imagined.
NATO's expansion to the East--or to be more precise the flight of Eastern
and Central European countries to the West--has delved deep into our
political consciousness. It has reopened a debate within our culture which
has never gone away--whether Russia is a part of Europe--and has reminded us
that in some respects it is not. Not because somebody is pushing us out of
Europe, but because we have not yet resolved this poignant issue for
ourselves, due to particular features of our history and geography and our
national psyche, and the range of threats to our security, and so on.
The Chaadaevs, Solovyevs and Ilyins of Central Europe never asked themselves
whether their states and nations were part of Europe. The answer was
self-evident. It is therefore no surprise that these countries are so keen
o take advantage of the opportunity which has at last presented itself to
them: to affirm their geopolitical choice and become members of Europe's
elite structures--if not the European Community, which is not feasible at
the moment, then at least NATO.
We cannot become a part of the Europe to which our neighbors so aspire
without changing our own identity and that of Europe itself. For example, we
will never become members of NATO, because Article V of this organization
will never be applied in potential conflicts along our southern or eastern
Our "differentness" from Europe should not automatically lead to
expectations of imminent hostility. On the contrary, it can serve as a
premise for useful cultural dialog.
As far as our political thought is concerned, it has been erring for three
hundred years within a false dilemma: union with Europe or confrontation
with Europe. This complex of attraction and resentment--the archetype of the
Russian political consciousness--has again reared its head in dozens of
publications of our foreign policy community on the problem of Russia and
NATO and Russia and the West.
"We are part of Europe, but we are being pushed out of Europe." "We would
welcome a strategic partnership with the West, but we are being pushed
aside." "Our leap towards peace and freedom was not trusted, our goodwill
was seen as weakness." Such passages, in various samples of cheerless prose,
paraphrase the central motif of a classic poem written eighty years ago by
"Come to us--from battlefield nightmares into our peaceful arms!... If you
do not, we have nothing to lose. Our faith, too, can be broken... We shall
take to the wilds and the mountains Woods, letting beautiful Europe through,
and as we move into the wings we shall turn An Asiatic mug to you."
There have been many proposals to "turn our Asiatic mug towards Europe" or
worse: strategic partnership with China (it would be interesting to know
Beijing's opinion on this), "a return of tactical nuclear weapon to the
troops," and "offering anti-imperialist regimes access to nuclear
technologies and their delivery means."
The entire Russian political class, from the westernizers to the statists,
was seized by the "Scythian syndrome." Both groups looked at the West as
Blok did--"both with hatred and with love"--differing perhaps only in the
relative proportions of these two emotions. Take, for example, the strange
public performance in two acts--one "with hatred" and one "with love"--put
on by Andrei Kozyrev in Stockholm in December 1992: was this not a remake of
In this emotionally charged atmosphere among the political class, and in the
absence of any distinct constructive ideas, the Russian foreign ministry had
to solve an extremely important practical task: to ensure Russia's long-term
national interests in one of the key foreign policy areas--relations with
The practitioners had to become conceptualists as well, and take as their
starting point the fact that Blok's Scythians is sublime poetry but bad
"Neither with hatred nor with love" is the formula to which foreign ministry
officials adhered in the serious negotiations with NATO which began in
December 1996, after several years had been lost to useless rhetoric. It was
pointless to put on aggrieved airs and bemoan the "disloyalty" of our former
Warsaw Pact allies, or to force the West to deal with the complexes of the
enigmatic Russian soul.
We had to talk about more tedious and concrete things, to firmly raise with
our negotiating partners issues about our security in terms of the numbers
and location of missiles, tanks, airplanes and soldiers, infrastructure and
These issues had to be raised in the professional language of military
experts, analyzing the eventual threat to the country's security not from
the perspective of NATO's current intentions, but from the perspective of
potential military capabilities. The West understands this language
perfectly well. This was the language it used in challenging the Soviet
Union and the Warsaw Pact, insisting on the signing of the Conventional
Forces in Europe Treaty.
Within this frame of reference, when the subject for discussion was not
whether Poland or the Czech Republic would become members of NATO, but the
security of our western borders and relations with NATO as a whole, Russia's
negotiating position was logical and convincing. It demonstrated the
pointlessness of abstract speculation about the possible deployment of
tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of the potential new members of
the alliance. As a result, the famous "three no's" formula appeared, of
which the third component--"no reason"--is the most significant.
A window of opportunity has opened up for Russia and NATO, giving them the
opportunity, over the next four or five years, to provide constructive
substance to the structures envisaged by the Paris agreement, so as to avoid
a new round in the crisis of their relationship.
Both sides have an objective interest in this, above all because their
geopolitical existence in the next century is certainly not limited to
contemplation of each other. Not just because of its geography, but also
because of its history and culture, Russia is fated to be directly involved
with all the main centers of world civilization of the 21st century.
Russia will have to build relations with each of these centers based on its
own national interests and, preferably, with minimum strain on its limited
resources. We will simply be unable to afford the luxury of declaring any of
these centers to be a potential enemy or a favored ally from the outset, nor
will we have the right to involve ourselves in any sort of quasi-ideological
crusade, be it anti-American or anti-Moslem. Russia is more predisposed
towards playing the role of mediator between civilizations in the next
century. Herein, perhaps, lies the enigmatic Russian Idea.
"Multipolarity" is one of the favorite phrases in our diplomatic glossary of
concepts. Multipolarity is sometimes used here as a euphemism for
anti-Americanism, but it seems that the foreign ministry's understanding of
multipolarity is rather richer in content. It sees Russia not as a fortress
besieged on all sides by its enemies, but as a player on the world political
scene, involved in dialog equally with all its neighbors, many of whom are
in complex competition with each other.
However, as regards relations with NATO, the last year has been wasted
rather than used. Forgetting about the lessons of the last crisis, Moscow
and Brussels are repeating previous mistakes.
In its official statements, Moscow places at the center of its relations
with NATO the problem of the Baltic countries' possible membership in NATO,
getting itself into a corner again as it did with the first wave of
expansion. The character of relations between Russia and NATO as a whole and
the changing nature of the organization: these questions much more important
for Russia's security than whether a particular country is a member of NATO
or not, and it is on these that Russia should focus its energy in its dialog
At the Vienna talks on the modification of the CFE treaty, the NATO
countries are fighting for every superfluous tank and every superfluous gun,
failing to understand that with their conventional superiority of 4:1 they
can concede more towards Russia's wishes than even Russia itself is
suggesting at the talks. Changing the perception of NATO among the
professional analysts of Russia's General Staff is much more important for
the organization than maintaining the mountains of weapons stockpiled for
the third world war that never happened.
Let us hope that by the second anniversary of the "Framework Act" both
Moscow and Brussels will have more justification for talking about the
widening window of opportunities taken.
From: email@example.com (Peter Mahoney-Moscow)
Date: Sun, 15 Nov 1998
Subject: Re: eXile/Russia Must Become Evil
There is always an inherent risk in attempting to respond to something that
Mark Ames has written, first, because his articles have a certain perverse
internal logic which defies rational response, second, because one usually
ends up getting knee-capped by Mr. Ames, who doesn't seem to cotten to those
who dare to question his pronouncements.
Mr. Ames' point, as I understand it, is that nationalism -- the good
American kind, of course -- is good for business, can stimulate nuked-out
economies back to boom times, and is just the thing that Russia needs in her
current travails. There's something of a point there, I suppose, but I'm
afraid Ames has some things a bit bass-ackwards.
When I came here in early 1992, I, like Ames, was utterly taken aback by the
self-flagellation of my Russian friends and their glorification of all
things Western, particularly all things American. After having spent eleven
months and twenty-two days in Vietnam as an enforcer/victim of American
national ideals, I had spent most of the 70s and 80s as one of those
"pony-tailed humanists" that so disgust Mr. Ames, spouting to everyone
within earshot how flocked-up America was for sending dumb innocent kids
like me to kill and be killed in Southeast Asia in furtherance of some
ill-conceived, ill-defined national crusade against communism. For whatever
it was worth, it probably kept a few dumb innocent kids from gettin their
asses blown away in Central America (although we got Ollie North instead),
but as Ames rightly pointed out, this aversion to spilling blood for the
purpose of solving political problems didn't last long. By the time I got
to Russia, the pony-tail was long gone (I have enough trouble keeping hair
on top of my head these days, much less hanging down behind), but the
so-called humanism wasn't, at least to the point that I was unwilling to
concede to my Russian friends during the inevitable vodka-soaked
philosophical arguments that everything American was, by nature, better than
There is, of course, a definite connection between nationalism and the
economy, but let's see if we can get that connection straight, and let's
examine some of Mr. Ames' examples a bit more closely. Most of the world
these days, for better or worse, is in the throes of what is commonly called
the market economy, aka, capitalism. One of the essential characteristics
of the capitalist economy is its boom-bust cycle: in boom times, many people
get to live high off the hog, and some people get fabulously rich; in bust
times, most of the rich stay rich, and the rest of us get the economic shit
kicked out of us. This is where nationalism traditionally raises its ugly
head, a convenient refuge for demogogues desperately trying to grab power,
avoid blame, and/or provide easy answers to the mewling masses wandering
around wondering what hit them. Nationalism is not a cause of economic boom;
it is a reaction to economic bust.
Ames is right about the simplicity and logic of it. Nationalism simply
divides the world into "Us" and "Them", and blames the Thems for all the
troubles that the Us's are having. Is it any wonder that war is the usual
result of a serious outbreak of nationalism, not to mention the cleansing of
internal Thems like the Jews in Europe, a little detail Mr. Ames seems to
have overlooked in his enthusiasm for German unemployment drops and GNP
rises in the 30s. One might also want to examine the ultimate result of
German nationalism -- the physical destruction of most of Europe, tens of
millions of people killed (sure solved that unemployment problem!), half of
Europe getting to chew Russian boots for half a century, etc -- before
rendering final judgement on its economic benefits. No great insights here;
just some shooting gallery commentary.
Ames is on the money (so to speak) when he says that it was WWII which
pulled the US out of the Great Depression, not the New Deal. If Hitler
hadn't existed on his own, the US would probably have been forced to invent
him. I mean, war is the ultimate consumer economy: all those guns and
bullets and bombs and tanks and planes that need to be built and replaced,
not to mention (as I already have) what it does for the unemployment
problem. If one gets to practice war as the US did during WWII -- namely,
the war is fought in the other guy's backyard, and the other guy's
industrial base gets destroyed -- it can't help but be good for business,
both during the war and after, when you get to profit from rebuilding the
mess that the war left behind. But then, how many countries are lucky enough
to practice war in such a fashion? And how long does the US figure its luck
will hold out?
I need to quibble a bit with Ames over his characterization of the so-called
Persian Gulf War as "a victory almost unprecedented in military history." I
hate to sound like one of those American Legion types I used to have
pleasant little discussions with back in the 70s (We won our war, Sonny),
but calling that little squabble in Saddam's sandbox a war is kind of like
calling the relationship between a wolf and a rabbit a war. And if this was
such an unprecedented military victory, then why is that pidgeon-breasted
poobah Saddam still in power? And just to bring this whole thing back to
the original topic of discussion, if the Gulf War was so great for the
economy, then why did Georgie-boy get his butt kicked in the next election
by our favorite philanderer (It's the eonomy, stupid)?
Which brings us to Russia (I know, lame transition). Russia's humiliation
in Afghanistan and Chechnya had nothing to do with an absence of
nationalism, it had to do with an absence of military competence. The
Russian military had been living off its ill-deserved WWII reputation for
most of the rest of this century. Face it, the Russian military has
distinguished itself primarily by its willingness to out-die its enemies,
and by its ability to somehow hang on until the Russian winter sets in,
which then whips the enemy better than the Russians ever could. The Russian
military spent the first half of WWII getting their asses handed to them by
the Germans, saved from total annihilation by the Russian winter and a few
megalomaniacal tactical blunders by Hitler. They made one respectable
military stand at Stalingrad (and give them their due, it was a hell of a
stand), then spent the rest of the war chasing an already defeated German
army back across Europe. After that, they enhanced their reputation by
beating up on defenseless civilians in Eastern Europe for awhile. When they
finally faced an armed and organized enemy in Afghanistan and Chechnya,
their traditional military incompetence shone through. And now Ames, by
implication, wants this blunderbuss bunch to spearhead the drive to regain
lost empire, which would be the inevitable accompaniment to a rise in
Russian nationalism. Geez, talk about another major Russian national
humiliation in the making ...
As for the three candidates for Russian nationalist standard-bearer (not
counting Ames' sentimental favorite Limonov), Ames seems to get his
characterizations skewed. Calling Zyuganov an opportunist is giving the man
more credit than he is due. I don't think he's ever had an original thought
in his life. He does what he does because he's too dense to think of
something else to do. Luzhkov? Through the mechanism of the ivory-towered
talking head, he is Ames' choice for the best bet to implement the kind of
"positive" nationalism that Ames is touting. Are you flockin kiddin me?
The guy sits on top of one of the most corrupt city administrations this
side of Tamany Hall. Electing him president will set off an oligarchical
feeding frenzy the likes of which we have yet to witness. He's the
opportunist in the group, and the one most likely to lead Russia down the
primrose German nationalist path, since a Luzhkov administration will have
the most problems to blame on the Thems. And, given the man's record as
Mayor, I don't think I'd like to be an internal Them during a Luzhkov
presidency. Which leaves us Lebed. I know I'm probably engaging in wishful
thinking, but my gut tells me that an ex-military guy may be the least
likely to opt for the military glory route to distract people's attention.
If nothing else, he should understand that the Russian military simply isn't
up to it. And, if he would just eliminate the right three thousand...
(Oops, where'd that self-proclaimed humanism go to?).
I think a distinction needs to be made -- one that neither Ames nor either
of his two talking heads makes -- between nationalism and patriotism. It is
patriotism -- love of Us -- that is the positive force that Ames is
grasping for, not nationalism -- hatred of Them. Lord knows, there is an
overwhelming supply of patriotism in the Russian soul. Sure, Russians are
ashamed and disgusted with their government, and many have jumped aboard the
Western pseudo-culture bandwagon. But scratch most Russians hard enough,
and you find they love their country more than most Americans love theirs.
Just listen to the ring of pride in the voice of any Russian who says "Nash"
-- Ours. Stalin was shrewd enough to realize during WWII that the call to
defend the Motherland spurred greater effort, greater sacrifice among
Russians than the call to defend communism. Hence we got the Great
Patriotic War. The point is driven home to me every day when my wife knocks
me upside the head for my latest disparaging remark about life in Russia.
It may be true, she may say it about her own country herself, but no freakin
foreigner has the right to say it about HER country, husband or no.
You want a positive "ism" to build a future on. Try patriotism. It might
just flockin work.
Makashov Anti-Semitic Comments Viewed
10 November 1998
[translation for personal use only]
Article by Vasiliy Ustyuzhanin: "Who Will Go to His Grave for
Makashov?" Jews Have Politely Declined, Tatars and Gypsies Have
Not Been Asked. Yet...."
If there were no Jews in Russia you would have to invent them. A
Russian without a Jew is like a table without food, money without a smell,
a joke without laughter. Incidentally, jokes about Rabinovich are no less
popular in national folklore than jokes about the Chukchi [Northeast
Siberian people] and Vasiliy Ivanovich Chapayev [civil war hero]. They
contain both irreverence and wit and, if you like, a lack of malice. The
Jew jokes about the Russian, the Russian jokes about the Jew.... It is as
it should be.But there are also jokes of a different kind. Under the crisis
conditions the stories of Jews who are burying Russia become particularly
sweet to the ears of Russian patriots. General Makashov literally poured
balm into the hearts of Jew-haters with his recent crude oath to take
"those nine Jews" with him to the grave. Hold on, even Aleksandr
Barkashov, the leader of Russian National Unity, did not allow himself such
Eminent minds in Russia have written of the importance of the Jewish
factor in Russian history. You only have to look at Dostoyevskiy. His
journalistic sketches are a textbook for the modern anti-Semite. The
brilliant Vasiliy Rozanov wrote just as unpleasantly about the Jews. The
Jews really are an abiding troubled dream in the Russian mind.
The historian Oleg Platonov recently published a fundamental
four-volume work entitled "Russia's Crown of Thorns" ["Ternovyy Venets
Rossii"]. The thesis of the pernicious role of a small people in the
misfortunes of a large people runs through it like a red thread, as they
used to say. It turns out that Brezhnev was unclean, and a Jewish-Masonic
demon got to Andropov. And we all know about Yeltsin. His wife, Naina
Iosifovna, gives rise to serious doubts as to the president's Russianness.
There's historical science for you.
I am not inclined to deny it, to say that the problem of Jews'
influence on Russian life does not exist. It does. Both positive and
negative influence. But it is absurd to talk of fatal influence.
Emperor Nikolay II idolized Dubrovin's reactionary "Union of the
Russian People." But it was repudiated by two Russians -- Vasiliy Shulgin,
who later wrote a small book about the Jews entitled "What We Do Not Like
About Them," and Aleksandr Guchkov. Chernyshevskiy -- a man with utterly
Russian roots -- called for Russia to be destroyed. And it was not
Jewish-Masonic minds that gave birth to the idea of creating a Communist
Party of Russia as a counterweight to the CPSU, an idea which provoked the
collapse of the USSR. Gennadiy Andreyevich Zyuganov was among the active
preachers and champions of the idea. This Communist Party of Russia, freed
from the fetters of Leninist internationalism, now supports Makashov's
bestial anti-Semitism. In Soviet times the general would only have allowed
himself to say such things over a drink with a few close officer friends --
his party ticket would not have allowed him to use crude abuse.
In actual fact it is extremely risky to play the Jewish card for
This undertaking could gain you political points right now, in a time
of crisis. After all, it is so convenient to provide a simple explanation
for a complex phenomenon. But if you continue to play that card it could
radically complicate the situation in a country where over 100
nationalities and ethnic groups are living. The Jews are merely a
touchstone. And who knows which people will be the next candidate for the
grave (the Tatars, the gypsies, the Chuvash?) if Makashov's associates get
through to real levers of control.
INTERVIEW-Russia adjusting to space cooperation
By Adam Tanner
MOSCOW, Nov 15 (Reuters) - The days are gone when the Soviet Union raced the
world into the cosmos and won.
Space exploration is now a matter of cooperation between nations, embodied in
the new International Space Station whose first module is to take flight next
That project involves Russia, the United States, Europe and Canada -- a whole
new way of thinking from Russia's Cold-War era triumph when Yuri Gagarin
became the first man in space.
But a top NASA astronaut said in an interview that he believes Russian space
officials have had trouble adjusting to the new reality, just as some U.S.
officials still hark back to the heady days when they beat Moscow to put a man
on the moon.
Michael Foale, a deputy director at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston,
Texas, who flew aboard Russia's Mir space station in 1997 during a near-fatal
collision, said financial limitations may soon force Moscow to abandon that
12-year-old orbiter and focus on the new international one.
``It's just like Americans have a hard time getting over the fact they don't
have an Apollo programme going to the moon,'' he said in an interview in
Moscow, where he and other top U.S. space officials are awaiting this week's
``Those Cold War days of just doing some national statement to the rest of the
world and the other side in the Cold War are over,'' he said. ``I think it's
tough for them to get over because they are remembering the days of Soviet
Despite recent mishaps onboard Mir, the station has been the pride of Russia's
space programme, giving the country by far the world's deepest experience in
long-duration manned space flight.
``I think the biggest transition for Russia is to go from the only country
that has a space station in the world to being a partner country for the
International Space Station.''
Foale, who is a British-American, spoke during a time when some Russian
officials are lobbying to extend the life of Mir, which the government has
said will be retired next June. On Thursday, the head of the Russian Space
Agency Yuri Koptev said officials will again review the retirement date next
``If Russia can find the money to keep the Mir space station up at the same
time as participating in the International Space Station, that is better
overall, I think, for all the space programmes of the world,'' Foale said.
``If the Mir could be kept up by, say, some rich businessman, that would be
fantastic....(But) if it was at the expense of the International Space Station
development, I would have to say that was a loss.''
The U.S. space agency NASA has pressed Russia to retire Mir as soon as
possible because Moscow has proved unable to fund their commitments to the new
station at the same time.
As a result, the $60 billion International Space Station is running far behind
schedule, with the first crew now set to arrive in January 2000, a year and a
half later than expected.
Foale, who won Russian praise in 1997 for his bravery and cooperation after
the Mir collision crippled the station, said he understands why officials want
to keep Mir aloft.
``Whenever something like that comes to and end, especially if it comes back
to Earth in a fiery re-entry, it's a very sad and poignant moment.''
On Wednesday, one of Foale's shipmates from the 1997 flight aboard Mir,
Anatoly Solovyov, accused the United States of wanting to bring down the
station for political reasons.
``It is purely a political question that there is pressure for us to get rid
of Mir as soon as possible,'' Solovyov, one of Russia's top cosmonauts who has
flown five times on Mir, told Reuters. ``It is clear why. Who has the station?
Foale said Solovyov was a friend, but had not yet made the transition from
national to international focus in space.
``Anatoly was definitely stating it in terms of the traditional kind of idea
of Russian and Soviet glory in space, where you don't do things for any
economic reason, you do it for the sign, for the statement,'' Foale said.
``The Russians will understand, once they get past this year or so, that there
is something very positive about having joint cooperation in an international
``A year ago when I left (Mir) basically less than one third of the
astronauts' time, the cosmonauts' time, was being spent on science,'' he said.
``We were spending almost all of our time getting the station back into a
``It's a matter of efficiency: you can do science on Mir, you can do science
on the International Space Station. Which one will be more effective in terms
of cost and future development? I believe the International Space Station at
Russian Farms Struggle To Keep Up
November 15, 1998
By JUDITH INGRAM
RZHAVKI, Russia (AP) -- Whether they're pouring feed in the henhouse or
sipping coffee in the director's office, workers at the Plemptitsa poultry
plant bundle up in padded jackets and boots against the autumn chill.
The onetime flagship of Russian broiler chicken production can't afford to
keep the heat on to warm the 70 employees. It's working at only one-third
capacity. Several decaying buildings sit empty, surrounded by overgrown grass.
Russia's farms were in dire shape even before the country's economic crisis
hit in August, and the latest turmoil could be a fatal blow to some
Yet the crisis also represents an opportunity for Russian farms. Imported food
is now too expensive for most Russians, and any domestic farm that can get
more of its goods to market is likely to win a new lease on life.
Can the farms meet the challenge?
Russia is the largest country in the world, and has large tracts of fertile
land. Yet the Soviet farming system was hugely unproductive and there has been
little agriculture reform since the Soviet Union collapsed.
Russian farm output fell 36 percent from 1990 to last year, the Organization
for Economic Cooperation and Development says. And production was off 55
percent at large farms of more than 250 acres -- the former collective farms
of the Soviet era that occupy most of Russia's arable land.
``We've never experienced anything like this before, even in the (World War
II) years,'' mourned Alexei Zinchenko, a statistics professor at Moscow's
Timiryazev Agricultural Academy.
This summer's drought made things worse. The grain harvest, down nearly half
from last year, will be the worst in four decades.
``The land is dying, and there are no programs for preserving or developing
fertility. ... Only 5 percent of land is irrigated, and that means there's
absolutely no insurance for bad years,'' Zinchenko said.
Zinchenko blamed the farming decline on the sudden withdrawal of government
financing, and the flood of imports that knocked Russian food products out of
With American and Dutch chicken imports gobbling up the market, Russian
chicken production has fallen to just 200,000 tons yearly since 1993 --
compared with 1.7 million tons previously.
Zinchenko said the decline in agriculture was also due to what he called a
mistaken reorientation to small, private farms to replace the huge collectives
of the Soviet era.
Advocates for the approximately 280,000 small farms, which occupy about 6
percent of Russia's arable land, counter that they've been better able to
adjust than the Soviet-era mammoths.
``The big farms really don't use inputs efficiently at all,'' said Gregory
Mohrman, Moscow director of the Rural Development Institute of the University
All farms, big and small, are struggling to find financing.
State subsidies are largely gone, and what little, high-interest credit was
available to farms has dried up. The costs of feed, fertilizers and farm
equipment have skyrocketed. Transactions are increasingly in barter rather
than cash. Farmers are falling deeper into debt.
For most farms, private financing is out of the question, partly because of
their dismal record and partly because it takes a long time for an investment
to show any return.
But chicken is an exception, because an investor can theoretically get his
money back relatively quickly. Investors have moved into all five poultry
plants in the Moscow region.
An import-export company has helped the Plemptitsa broiler business, although
Lev Kroik, the Plemptitsa director, refused to name the company.
``They pay part of the salaries'' of 800 rubles ($47) a month, he said. ``I
can't say that the salary level suits us, but we pay on time.''
The partners had agreed on a $1 million plan for getting the entire plant,
with its 3,000-ton potential annual output of broilers, back into operation
within three years.
The August financial crisis has put that plan on hold, however, because
Plemptitsa's partner can't get its money out of the bank. For now, the
operation is limited to three henhouses, where 30,000 chickens live 12 to a
``We had great plans,'' Kroik said, sitting in an office stuffed with feed
samples, dusty cans of luncheon meat and posters bearing testimonials to the
health-boosting benefits of quail eggs. ``Today we have big problems.''
Still, he sees opportunities that didn't exist before the crisis.
Plemptitsa is selling every bird it raises, and a major Moscow supermarket
chain is clamoring for more -- and continuing to pay the top price, about 62
cents a pound.
``People are beginning to reorient themselves to Russian products and realize
they're not bad at all,'' said Elena Tyurina, an analyst at the Institute for
Agrarian Market Trends, a market research company.
From: "Mark Ames" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Barnabas The Middlebrow
Date: Mon, 16 Nov 1998
Assuming that this "Barnabas D. Johnson" wasn't a parody, I'll briefly
reply as if he's a real person expressing authentic, un-ironic opinions.
Like many middlebrows, Barnabas sacrifices intelligence for moralizing
platitudes on the level of some old Jimmy Stewart film. Such as this
> Like many entertainers, the eXile sacrifices truth for a well-turned
> But I don't read this List for entertainment. I seek light, not heat --
> insight and illumination, not sound and fury signifying puffing.
I've written some pretty embarrasing things in my day, but I gotta tell
yuh, I ain't ever copped a plati-'tude like that one.
His point is that if an article isn't intentionally stripped of all
emotion, color, and readibility--that is, if it's written in a style
readable not just to academics, but to a wider audience--then, as
"Barnabas" argues, it can't be
"serious". This is typical middlebrow thinking--disguising their own lack
of cultural confidence by way of pseudo-snobbery: serious points should
only be presented in a style that is so bland and beige that no one but us
will bother reading it. I want to repeat that: our intellectuals simply
don't have the confidence to assume that entertaining writing can also be
serious or intellectual. Ever wonder why our intellectuals have so little
impact on the national consciousness or discourse? The answer is that
they've taken their stultified, dull, peer-reviewed prose style--the only
style that they can pump out after years of grad school hazing--and
elevated what was merely bad and cautious rhetorical style that was forced
upon them into a kind of morality, as if they
MEANT to write that way all along, as if writing that way makes them
better! In fact, when they see something both colorful and intelligent and
original, which frankly my piece was, then their first reaction is to try
to set up zoning laws to keep eXile-styled pieces from ruining their little
insulated businesses. It's a ridiculous point, so ridiculous that I still
doubt its authenticity. Witness middlebrow platitude exhibit #2:
>I just happen to
> wish the eXile -- who is obviously bright and knowledgeable -- would
> sacrifice a few well-turned phrases in favor of thoughtful, albeit
> boring, analysis and synthesis for those of us who comfortably
> that we do not fathom what to make of this post-Soviet mystery wrapped in
> too much bungled bewilderment. We seek, at least, at present, competent
Pseudo-paradoxical language to describe the single lamest, most annoying
platitude of all: that ol' enigma wrapped in a riddle Henny Youngman
one-liner, which, doubley-paradoxically, is now old enough and reified
enough that even Barnabas, ever the anti-entertainment value guy, feels
safe enough to cite.
Oh yeah, and somewhere in there he said he disagreed with my piece.